Sunday, June 3, 2018


We gathered at the house for Thanksgiving that year. My brother and his wife picked up Dad from the convalescent home where he had been recovering from a UTI the past couple of weeks. My future wife and I had volunteered to construct a ramp from an old door for some impromptu wheelchair access. The little great granddaughter got excited about playing on the ramp.

When my brother got there they were half worn out already. Dad was in his late 80s and limp as a wet noodle. There were times when he could do therapy but certainly not today. I helped get him up the ramp and into his chair and it was like juggling several bags of sand connected by ropes. My SIL had left her coat at the home and so we volunteer to go get it, least we can do, it was still on the chair under the canopy.

So we ate, and found out they had fed him lunch at the home despite instructions not to.

At one point I sat with the great grandson and asked if he had a girlfriend.


I follow, "is she any good?" Naturally this draws fire from my future wife.

Mom hovers over Dad to try to catch what he's trying to say, barely over a whisper. Basically he wants to go back to his bed at the home. Hard to admit how peaceful he seems there when we visit, then he realizes you're there and greets you. She goes back to her chair, and I'm on the couch like we sat so many times over the years. Mom says,

"Mike, this is your future."

I realize it is probably the last time we will get to all sit there like that.

Out in the yard we play some kind of ball with the kids.

By the time we loaded him up to take back to the home, Dad had rested some and come around, he waved to the little kids from the car.

2 weeks and a day later I get the call from my brother. Dad had passed peacefully around midnight.

Thanksgiving had been the right thing to do.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Clamp's Catch

So Clamp shows up late, unfashionably, not for lack of trying least, in the usual gray wool getup, except this time, with a new accessory.

About three feet away is a tall sturdy brunette, twenty or thirty years his junior, who would be quite compelling if she were Angelica Huston, just like Clamp might bring Tony Bennett to one's mind, at least in his own bathroom mirror.

With a crisp, well-combed presentation in a lavender top, long skirt and a concentrated silence that hints an intense wish to be invisible, she doesn't even keep step with him, and just may have left her soul at home until she can figure out exactly what to do with her somewhat shorter companion and the next couple of hours.

The Humpty Dance

Your Hero shall remain nameless, as he cannot remember his name at the moment, had to step back into the crisp autumn to get his head, flashing lights were never a good thing.

The shindig, at someone's house had a DJ, didn't see anyone he knew, thankfully, was too dark, just shadows bouncing about to that rap song with, with the big nose and that sliding bass. He'd heard the words before but not tonight, just that bass ripping through your body. Things had started way before he got there after work, and the door knob was practically buzzing in his hand, he got halfway through the living room when he gained a plausible deniability to belief.

You can't think in there, resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. Can't communicate with words like a normal person, it all ran together, except - either real or imagined, the only human eye contact was with a girl that kinda looked familiar, at least in violet-tinted sepia, bobbing in perfect beat, she got moves, with the head and arms, lip syncing the female chorus echo, however it goes, her lips said, OH OH OH DO ME BABY! as the bass saws away at the foundations, eyes locked on his. It was about then he felt his upper chest tighten, for the first time ever, cut to black till he hit the fresh air.

First of all...what happened to the days when radio played Billy Squire and ZZ Top and stuff with guitar?

Chicks gotta shake their butts it seems, sooner or later it boils down to that. Speaking of, just who the hell was she anyway, from school, did she come into the store?

Oh, yeah, duh, Brent Green had talked him into showing up whenever tonight, big bash for those surviving the fall quarter at tech college, so she's either a regular or guilty by association. It's all coming back now, just need to find his car.

Heart is still racing but he doesn't need to hold his hands above his head any more. That's never happened, never had asthma, still light headed. And how in hell do they even stand it in there?

Sometimes it's hard to keep respect for one's peers, like when dudes from school come into the store wanting funnels and tubing for a beer bong, or that one year where every Monday in study hall seems all you heard was someone's parents were away, everyone showed up and the carpet got ruined, and then now, it's all about guys we know getting deployed over in Saudi Arabia since some smartass dictator got too big for his breeches and they're thinking of reinstating the draft.

On the other hand, thinking is definitely overrated. Sometimes.

Ok, found the car, this was all a bad dream and hopefully they were all too blitzed, buds to the wiser, a shower will do wonders, and it's Saturday night so that public FM station, 90 point something is playing jazz.

Now that works.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Sun Tower

We would get up early and start down the highway in the '71 Monte Carlo, and all kinds of things go by in the windows.

Before we know it we pass the big moon in the ground, for the first man who went there.

Then mostly farms, cow, corn, other cars, people who need to get somewhere.

At some point there are more buildings, then a water tower that looks like one of Dad's tools, a ratchet screwdriver with the ball handle up in the air.

About then Mom pours coffee out of a thermos and hands Dad a cup. It smells so good, even though it's just instant with powder creamer.

We also have a pitcher of water and a bag of goodies, cookies, green grapes, Wheat Thins, and the squeeze cheese that looks like an orange railroad tanker. If I had my way I would subsist on that stuff.

Then some buildings and more cars, and a really big antenna that they tell me can reach all the way to Europe.

Then even more buildings and we go through a big bridge, and on the other side there it is, round building with a sun sign on top, nestled by the river.

Mom tells me it's a place where people go to sleep when they are away from home. But we are going to stay with my grandparents and I will probably get hugged when we get there, but that's life.

Monday, August 11, 2014

that day

It was the only time she sat next to me on the bus. Sunny September day at the beginning of 8th grade, we recently got assigned next to each other in reading class, but still, she plops next to me that day and declares that we are "going together" in that patronizing tone girls use, like I'm some toddler. She digs a note out of her things and reads it through, as I try to gather my wits - she mutters a couple broken comments at the paper then puts it away.

At some point I feel a bony arm slip around my shoulders and one of the nearby dudes cheeses, "So you two are LOVERS? Awwww..." 

Far as I knew she was seeing a fellow in the class behind us these days. Girls at my school had a gift for clever sarcasm, made it an art really, was sweet pain to fall prey to their wiles. She and an accomplice liked to talk me out of my lunch cakes.

For some reason I tell her about a weird dream I had recently about a classmate of ours and she just kinda rocks back and forth and gives me funny looks as I relate. 

Thankfully I'm the first stop, time to try and process this, usually crash on my bed but too fidgety. Sheets are due for changing so I tear that down, and in the middle of it start to struggle with my motivation, why am I doing THIS, now, in a quasi-relationship with this girl and her pesky powers, but finish the task nevertheless.

When the weather is this nice there's a bike ride after supper, and even back then, in that reading class I had written papers about bike rides, it's a thing. I lived on a decommissioned highway that formed a 2.5 mile triangle with two grid roads. 

She lives on the north-south leg. I head northeast, instinctively, pining for answers.

Social awkwardness can be a prison but sometimes you get a surprise visitor with the file in a cake. Never ended up dating anyone from school, the swift river, until after graduation, made most of my connections through church, the small pond. I'm not much of a swimmer.

Right on cue she stands near the road with a basketball and some younger kids. I seem invited to stop three feet away and touch my feet down, and without missing a beat she informs me in that patronizing tone,

"We're going to have to break up, A---- won't like it very much..."

"That's okay."

Not sure what else was said, we never know what to say to each other, but when it felt time to ride on, for whatever reason, I really needed to gently squeeze her right shoulder. 

Now, I had taken over my brother's '72 Schwinn that he'd bought from my sister's 6'2 husband, here I am a string bean 5'8 by then. I had to hop off the seat to straddle the thing, and leaning in took some effort, hopping on one foot, especially when the girl demures.

Little miss don't mess with me you ballentine jerk, I'm bad ass, I'll hurt you, by most accounts should have me in a full nelson by now, but no, totally shies away - but never looks away. Same piercing eyes that taunted earlier are now those of a wistful puppy.

Turns out the tough chick ain't so tough after all.

Got home and put the bike away, sit on the couch, Mom asks me why I'm grinning, staring off at a wall, took me that long to realize there were trees nearby where we'd stood.

To this day, nearly three decades later I still struggle with it - why was the punk brat so much easier for me to face than the very lovely, sweet, tender girl within, one of the best things that will ever happen to a person.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


"Most relationships end because one party requires way too much attention."