Because we didn’t know his name, and he played air guitar outside Family Dollar, we called him Air Guitar Eddy. He had two dogs. We called the pit bull Pitbull, and the other, a terrier, Funky Bitch. Funky Bitch was pregnant, bursting at the seams, and she would sit and pant in the shade. Because it was Family Dollar, Air Guitar Eddy, Pitbull, and Funky Bitch didn’t get much by way of charity.
Jakob Pichler cherishes his quiet mornings and the green stillness of his garden. His neighbors have gone off to their day jobs, leaving him in peace. The only traffic that passes the garden gate is the occasional old woman walking a tiny dog. Jakob lights his morning cigar, settles back, and lets his mind wander over the infinite possibilities the morning offers.
A smooth take off and an ascent to cruising altitude set the stewardesses at work. The plane felt stuffier than usual. He was in the middle, his favorite location. He’d been at the front, not first class, but right at that front row, with all that legroom. It just didn’t suit him. He wanted to be appropriately uncomfortable, a badge of honor, a shared suffering. So here he was, middle of the plane, middle of the row. Priest to his right, old woman holding a Pomeranian on his left. He felt like he was living inside a not-that-funny-gotta-laugh-to-be-polite joke that he couldn’t remember the punch line for.
Just pronounced ex-Navy and having breakfast in a small diner in Idaho, road dust claiming him as much as it did his old Ford convertible gracing the parking lot like an abused antique, he met Maybelle Hustings slinging homemade hash, the air full of morning’s riches. She was tall, neat in her apron for a hash house waitress, wore her hair pinned back severely yet evoking promise in its loosing. Corded movements in her neck, supple and graceful but fully pronounced as a woman’s, brought him early hungers, caught him leaning in the booth. Their eyes locked, gave out announcements, were decoded, and then, so as not to embarrass the other, were allowed to wander. Initial signals had been made, and illustrated; acceptance, of some order, duly noted.
Lovely Leila has chosen one from my back catalogue for a rerun. It’s a bit sad and brutal but – there ya go. This is what she said:
To this dying man whom the wolf already scents
And whom the crow watches.
Baudelaire, Flowers of Evil
Sunlight slices through the window bars, splashing over your face. I will carry this piecemeal image – eyes scrunched shut, your late father’s nose, pink lips suckling – with me to the hangman’s noose.
The weather was the culprit. Thunderstorms stranded Ella’s date in Boston. Flooding in South Carolina kept her son’s girlfriend in Charleston. Ella’s planned evening of formal dress, fine dining, forgettable speeches, and priceless facetime with clients and potential clients was a must-attend event.
It was late afternoon when Margaret’s doctor told us that her condition was deteriorating, that it was time to talk options. Mom sat closest to Margaret’s bedside, with her back to the window. Dad and I hunched forward in taupe, plastic chairs positioned around the foot of the bed. Margaret’s doctor stood in his white lab coat opposite Mom, a clipboard resting on his waist.
Ah yes – Leila has picked one from the far back corner of the catacombs – We miss Tobias so this is a lovely little reminder of his skill: