Squirrel Pen Diary: First Entry
Last Wednesday morning I entered Our Lady Star of the Sea church during mid-week mass. While two dozen or so senior citizens went through the ancient, dusty rites (monotonously administered by an equally ancient and dusty priest), I rose unseen and snuck upstairs to a small balcony that communicates with the church’s attic. I climbed atop the guano splattered stone rail that hugs the balcony and balanced myself on one foot and held the other out as though I intended to take a seventy-foot step onto the marble walkway below. After I had done all that, there wasn’t much else to do except wait for someone to notice me.
Inspired by the Taj Mahal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DFy90m-lHE) and Leadbelly (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtCUIWHJjDw) versions of “Frankie & Albert.”
Albert was a bookie, bootlegger, card shark, ladies’ man; sharp as a tack in pinstripes, vest, stingy brim, and spats. He led the sportin life. He was Frankie’s main man.
Sleep in any odd alley came piecemeal to Chris Banntry (and never luck, he would add, if anything else.) He called it bonesleep or curbsleep, or a number of other things, just as long as minutes of it were sometimes accompanied by a kind darkness. He liked the minutes where his bones could soften for the merest of moments and his mind go blank and his stomach cease its horrible arguments, and the insects, the ants and other crawling enemies, might take a night off from arduous labors. The darkness, inevitably, could bring enemies of all sorts with it, or the strangest of friends.
Katerina Valencia Contrerez is an angry old bruja who lives outside the village of Dos Cruces. She hates her nephew, Cecilio. She beats him with her fists and chases him away. So Cecilio made her a beautiful walking stick to get in her good graces. Now Katerina beats him with her stick. The villagers say the lesson is, don’t arm your enemies. They say Cecilio is a great teacher.
Hello again one and each.
Another busy and interesting week at LS and, as always, a few unexpected twists and turns.
It goes without saying that we’ve had five more brilliant stories (more about those in a bit) but we’ve also had a whole host of wonderful submissions that have already filled up slots for the next few weeks.
That last line requires context – or perhaps perspective – in order to carry its full weight. A theme we’ll be touching on quite a bit over the next couple of hundred words I suspect.
I am a dutiful wife.
It’s Monday. Every Monday and Thursday, I visit Lucas. I always bring new flowers, and since it’s the summer they’re from my own garden. There are daisies and tulips and baby’s breath. It doesn’t matter what I add to the water, or how I snip them, they are always dead when I come the next time. The staff will have ensured there are no dead leaves scattered around the vase on his windowsill, but the stems will remain, withered stalks decaying in their coffin.
Sonny’s hand shook as he took a drag from his cigarette. Rain drops from the eaves above bruised onto Sonny’s faded grey scaly cap. He watched on as his lifelong friend Daniel reached the walkway to the funeral home. With his head down, and hands in his rain slicker’s pockets, Daniel walked down the cobbled path. “Sonny,” he said with a nod, as he reached the tall, twin hinged doors. The two men shared a moment of a silence, backs toward the funeral home, long faces towards the rain, as Sonny’s cigarette began to fade.