The sudden waltz

the sudden waltz

I always wondered where I would be today if I had stopped to tie my shoe and did not, after all, bump into her as I entered the store. I would have arrived five seconds later, and she would have already walked out the door and started up the street in the other direction.

Or I wonder where I would be today if she had been in a different mood and, when I bumped into her and asked her pardon, she would have said, “Watch where you’re going, moron,” instead of giggling and saying, “Shall we dance?” while grabbing my hand to keep her balance, which led to my swinging her around in a makeshift waltz.

Seventy years later, still holding hands, I’m glad I didn’t stop to tie my shoe, even though the sudden waltz ended when I tripped.

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Books like grenades

books like grenades

What is more dangerous than a room full of books? Books, stacked in pules and lined in rows, each with a purpose and a reason, waiting to be lifted up and hurled like a grenade into what once was someone’s unconscious subconscious. Books, dragging her kicking and screaming into consciousness. Beware the book: It will reach from one mind into another and detonate previously unknown insights and concepts.

“Weaponizing books?” he sniffed. “Child’s play. You can weaponize anything if you put your mind to it. Give me a fluffy puppy and I’ll soften a millions of you up for the kill – although I don’t need to kill you, I just need you to go away and leave me to my evil games. Did I say evil? My heavens. No one is intentionally evil; we all are the heroes of our own internal stories, aren’t we?”

The gleam in his eye was unmistakable: Cold and evil.

Wind chimes

wind chimes

He closed his eyes and let the wind chimes take him to a green summer morning with the dew burning off on a day built for T-shirts and shorts and sneakers, even though he knew bloody well he’d be chilled to the bone wrapped in a sweater and thick coat and boots.

(random image jotted down for a future story)

Beware the Ides

Saturday Stories #8

A public square, people walking, vehicles buzzing past.

“Beware the Ides of September!” cried the old bearded man, boring his wild eyes deep into the stranger’s soul, and then, as the stranger stared at him confused, stepped forward and shouted this time: “Beware the Ides of September!”

“Don’t you mean March? Caesar’s death and all that?” asked the stranger, perhaps a bit condescending, perhaps a bit amused.

“Six months on. The assassins fall in among themselves,” said the crazy one. “Your sins shall find you out. Beware the Ides of September.”

‘Well, I haven’t killed any emperors lately,” said the stranger, smugly now. “I think I’m safe.”

“It’s the ones who think they’re safe who are in the most danger,” the mad prophet snapped. “Beware, I tell thee. Beware the Ides of September!”

“Poppycock,” said the stranger, and stepped in front of a dump truck bearing the name Ides & Sons Gravel and Excavating.

72 hours earlier

Different - dreamstime_s_1045911

“Excuse me?” I said, somewhat incredulous.

“We’re going to have to commit you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You exhibited signs of mental deficiency and imbalance, so we’re taking you in for a voluntary 72-hour hold and examination.”

“Signs? What signs?”

“Signs of mental deficiency and imbalance.”

“Yes, you said that,” I said. “What did I do? What are the symptoms?”

“You said something inappropriate to a co-worker.”

“What did I say?”

“I’m embarrassed to repeat it.”

“Which co-worker?”

“That’s confidential.”

“OK,” I said, dubious. “What else?”

“What do you mean?”

“You said ‘signs,’ plural. What other evidence do you have of my mental deficiency and imbalance?”

“Well, for one thing, you’re raising your voice.”

“Wouldn’t you?”

The other paused a beat too long. “No.”

“You wouldn’t raise your voice if someone falsely accused you of being crazy?”

“Please; we don’t use that word.”

“Well, I do,” I said. “THIS is crazy. I’m not going.”

“You have to.”

“You said it’s a voluntary 72-hour hold and examination. If it’s voluntary, I’m not going.”

“We’re taking you in to protect yourself and the community. Under the court decision Sherman v. Peabody, we have the right to detain you voluntarily for 72 hours while we –”

“It’s not voluntary if I have to be detained!!”

“See? This is why you need help. You’ve lost an understanding and respect for authority.”

Disclaimer: This is fiction, as far as I can determine.

The place

the place

“Is this the place?” he asked, wary.

“What place is that?” asked the burly man who was a cliche of the burly bearded thug who loomed over every cornered person in every movie and taunted them with his power.

“The place where I figure our everything that’s been happening or –”

“– the place where you die?”

“Yes.”

“Could be both.”

“That’d be kind of sad, don’t you think? For me to figure out everything and then die before I could apply the knowledge?”

“Kind of sad, yeah,” the bearded man said. “But that’s life.”

There was this story …

there was this story

“Why did you tell me this story, old man?”

The young man seemed agitated, the old man calm.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Just answer the question,” the young man said. “Did you think I would learn something? Did you want to warn me about something? Did you wish to frighten me? inspire me? belittle me?”

“I had no such intentions,” the old man said, a little too strenuously. “I just wanted to tell you a story.”

“Why that story? Why tonight?”

“It seemed like this night was the right night for this story.”

“Why?”

“Well – I suppose I don’t know why, exactly,” the old man said. “I just felt the sinews of this evening and started to tell. Before I knew it, it all was told.”

But they both knew. The story loomed over them, surrounded them, convicted them, and ultimately changed them. And the most sobering thing was: The story could never be untold.