Monthly Archives: October 2012

Song: The Metal Detectors

This is a true story—On Saturday, October 14, 2012, I met this couple on the beach at Hilton Head, South Carolina. They were so cute and happy together that I knew I had to write this poem, which really should be a song. I quickly got off the beach and parked myself in one of the rocking chairs on the big, shady porch of Coligny Plaza. I wrote the bare bones of the song out in shorthand (Gregg shorthand, not Pittman!) on the back of a dog-eared tax form that I hope I don’t need to turn in any time soon. On the way back home, I saw them again, flagged them down, and told them I’d be writing a song about them. I’m sure they didn’t believe me! So here it is:

A good distance between them they strolled
Along the surf through the waves as they rolled
A middle aged couple with metal detectors
Scanning the sand for gold.

The first one I passed was the woman
When I caught her eye, I said
“What’s the best thing you ever found scanning?”
“It’s that handsome guy up ahead.”

Then I caught up with her husband and
I asked the same of him to be fair.
He looked back and pointed behind him,
“It’s that beautiful lady back there.”

They showed me the treasure they’d dug up
A silver hair clip encrusted with jewels
Two wedding rings and a sinker, and
They even showed me their tools.

An open-frame bi-axial search coil
And the multi-featured combo stand
Increase your range and decrease your toil
And the pistol grip won’t hurt your hand.

I asked how they ever got started
Metal detecting for fun.
She said when she very first met him
His hobby had already begun.

He’d asked her out on a date in the woods–
There’s memorabilia out there to be found
Through the weeds and the thickets, there’re snakes, bugs and crickets
And Civil War relics abound.

She loved him so much she went looking
For the bullets and buttons he sought
But uncovering snakes gave her the shakes
But what saved her was this clever thought.

So to keep their passion together,
She suggested that they try the beach,
And that’s how they came to own
A metal detector each.

So if you’re looking for treasure
Think first who you’ve got at your side
You’ll see that you don’t have to dig far to find
The love that the sands of time can’t hide.

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The Last Mile of the Way

Angel Statue in Old Cemetary

You could hear the back door opening and a tentative voice intruding into the dark, refrigerated hallway with an inquisitive “Hello?” She made her way towards the lighted office at the other end, and found an officious-sounding man who greeted her pleasantly. “Hi!” she said breezily, as if she were at a picnic instead of the local funeral parlor, “My name is Laurie and I’m here to pick up my father’s ashes to take them to the cemetery—Y’all just called my mother’s house to tell her that they just arrived.”  The officious-sounding man confirmed her pronouncement and discreetly corrected her by saying, “Yes, Ms. Covelle, we have your father’s cremains right here.” If you knew Laurie, you’d know that she hated euphemisms for their sniveling cowardice, for their dishonesty disguised as refinement and good taste; but she reserved her disdain for the next volley.  “Perhaps you’d be interested in purchasing a very nice urn? We have several very attractive and tasteful styles available. Would you like to see them?” “No, thank you,” she answered politely. “My father would totally hate spending the money on an urn. In fact, if he could have seen that beautiful coffin my mother bought for him, he would have died all over again. I can still hear him saying, ‘Don’t forget, Rosie, just a plain pine box—no frills.’” The officious-sounding man very reverently murmured, “I understand” and placed the plastic box on the solid wooden desk with an only slightly perceptible thud, the very merest indication of his annoyance with the always-honest Laurie. A shuffling of paperwork ensued:  receipts crisply torn along perforated lines, certified death certificates folded and reverently eased into heavy cardstock envelopes, pens scratching no-nonsense signatures at all the X’s, and finally, the officious-sounding man reminded her not to forget the cremains. She was a little surprised that there was no discreet sturdy paper bag with twine handles for the plastic box, but she quickly adjusted to the reality of having to pick up the plastic box with her own two bare hands without the ceremonious intervention of paper. It was heavier than she thought. “What is this? About 10, 15 pounds?” “Yes,” he said quite officiously, “just about.”

She shuddered as she carried the paperwork and the plastic box into the oppressive heat of that blindingly white July day. Inside the car, it must have been 120 degrees. After rolling down the windows, she said, “Well, Paw, who knew that you’d be taking your last ride with me?” She put the box on the right front seat and wedged it tightly between her purse and the seat back. “OK, Paw, you just sit tight now…,” and she pulled the seatbelt across the purse and clicked the metal connector into the buckle. It’s not like her to be nervous, but she had this awful feeling that the box would tip over, and she didn’t have the heart to put the box on the floor.

Before she cranked up the engine, she said, “You know, Paw, when Mommy told me that you hadn’t had any bagels for a few weeks before you died because your sugar had gone up, I cried my eyes out. I don’t know why, but it made your dying so much worse. She told me that right before they were going to take you away to be cremated in New Jersey. Right away, I called up the funeral parlor and they said they’d take you away at 10:30. Weezie and I went to the bagel shop and I bought you a couple of pumpernickel bagels to put into the coffin. We had plenty of time to get there, but then there was this crazy traffic jam and we were stuck right in front of the Staten Island Savings Bank for what seemed like forever. Finally, it cleared, and we went speeding up New Dorp Lane. We ran into the funeral parlor just a tad past 10:30 and they said you were gone by just two or three minutes. And we cried, and then we laughed, and then we cried some more. Then we went home. And we dug two nice holes in that little strip of dirt in the front yard that Mommy didn’t cover with cement so you could grow your tomato plants every summer.  And we buried the bagels, just for you. And then we cried and then we laughed and then we cried some more.” It was hard to tell if she was laughing or crying now, but she blew her nose, started the car, and began the short trip to the Moravian Cemetery.

“OK, Paw, now here’s the song Weezie and I sang for you that time—remember? You got such a kick out of it.” And then, loud enough to wake up the dead, she sang: “I’d like to hear some funky Dixie Land, pretty momma come and take me by the hand, by the hand, hand, take me by the hand, pretty momma, gonna dance with ya Daddy all night long, I’d like to hear some funky Dixie Land, pretty momma come and take me by the hand, by the hand, hand, take me by the hand, pretty momma, gonna dance with ya Daddy all night long…”*

She was in pretty good spirits as the car smoothly ascended the long, curved driveway of Moravian Cemetery. She parked the car, shut off the engine, unhooked the seat belt and picked up the plastic box. She said, “Well, Paw, I guess this is goodbye, so I’ll say it now. I’ll always love you. You’re the best father in the whole world.” She kissed the plastic box and cradled it in her arms. “I’ll miss you forever.”

And even though she couldn’t hear me, I said, “I already miss you forever—and I’ll always love you, too, Laur.”

Photo Credit:

Music Credit:  “When I’ve Gone The Last Mile Of The Way” – The Alabama Spirituals (youtube.com)

*Doobie Brothers, “Black Water”

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The Canyon

silhouette-gang

As we walked into our 9th grade algebra class, our teacher told us to go home immediately: President Kennedy had just been shot. I walked home in a daze, not yet appreciating that I had dodged the proverbial bullet that would eventually get me, too—I would be missing my weekly algebra test for which I was unprepared.  I found my mother sprawled on the couch, sobbing disconsolately. The whole nation, even my Rock of Gibraltar wild woman mother, was in shock, and the three days of national mourning had just begun. There would be no music, no dances, no parties, no movies, no jokes, no laughter—nothing that could remotely resemble fun—at least not that I knew about.  I loved President Kennedy, but I loved being a teenager even more. And worse yet, it was only Friday afternoon.

Friday was a total waste, as were Saturday and Sunday. And then Monday dawned cold and gray—poor President Kennedy would be buried today and as if that weren’t depressing enough, I would be facing one more totally wasted day, too, but then it hit me–this was a whole day off from school! I got my mother’s blessing to go to my best friend’s house so she could help me with my algebra. Once there, Marilyn helped me slather on some forbidden makeup and lipstick. After stashing my algebra book in her room, we sallied forth to the incredibly deserted main drag, where she bought us each a chocolate egg cream at Marty’s Soda Fountain. Marilyn was the coolest friend—funny, pretty, and so very generous—she had a babysitting job and had developed a taste for some bigger ticket items that I would never have thought to buy. As we were leaving Marty’s, she scooped up a few candy bars, and two packs of cigarettes—a red pack for her and a green one for me.  Marilyn magnanimously paid the grand total, and off we went to smoke our respective packs of cigarettes.

A mile or so later, we were on one of the many paths threading through the huge, scrubby fields of tall, dead grasses and low trees towards “The Canyon.” We picked our way carefully down the precipitous slope and made ourselves as comfortable as we could possibly be while sitting on rocks in almost freezing temperatures. At least we were protected from the wind, which was fortuitous, given that lighting cigarettes was the first item of business on our agenda. We proceeded to smoke each and every cigarette and eat each and every candy bar. All the while, we laughed, told jokes and funny stories, and became so giddy, we were choking, snorting, crying and drooling, not necessarily in that order.

The cigarettes were gone. Our throats were as raw as the dropping temperature. Our bladders were full. It was really time to leave. Suddenly, the gloomy twilight chillingly revealed the silhouettes of five boys on the rim of the canyon.  They lobbed rocks at us and laughed while we frantically scrambled around to avoid the stinging blows.  Miraculously, they ran off. We climbed out of the canyon, and limped back to Marilyn’s house. I retrieved my algebra book and coughed my way back home.

That night, we watched the news of President Kennedy’s funeral. I remembered the algebra test which I would take and fail tomorrow, and I burst into tears. My mother, mistaking my misery for grief for the dead president, wrapped me in her big, wild woman arms and said, “You’re the best kid in the world. I love you, Googs.”

Photo Credit: http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/dyn-graphics/image-430/silhouette-gang.jpg

Music Credit: Sukiyaki (Ue o Muite Arukou) – Kyu Sakamoto (English Translation and Lyrics)

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Song: The Wish I Could Leave You Blues

images

“The Wish I Could Leave You Blues” came to me in a dream. The melody was beautiful and haunting, but like most brilliant insights gleaned from fevers or other hallucinatory states, it did not allow itself to be retrieved; luckily, I retained enough of the first stanza to recreate the lyrics, and then the rest of the song seemed to write iteslf.  Perhaps a beautiful and haunting melody will one day blow in on a magical wind and become snagged on the ragged edges of this song.

If you turn me loose, you will not find me.
Please don’t think I’ll come back around.
Just like a ship, I’m heading for the high seas,
Out of fear I’ll run aground.

If you turn around, I will vanish.
Like a puff of smoke, I’ll blow away.
The only thing that keeps me here though,
Is the reason why I cannot stay.

It’s my illusions that keep me longing
For the bliss we’ll never share.
It wastes my time and it’s not worth it,
And it’s not your fault that you don’t care.

You can’t hate a man who doesn’t love you
But still lets you share his bed–
But you can despise your own self
For not getting that through your head.

I tell myself lots of lies like
You’re not mean, you’re just tired.
As your friend I feel unemployed, and
As your lover, like I’ve been fired.

I dread the day I’ll finally get going
When I’ll find the strength to leave
But what stops me every time is knowing
That I’m the only one who will grieve.

Photo Credit: A beached boat | An old fishing boat at Heswall | Richard Cooper …
http://www.flickr.com 500 × 332

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Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Time Warp

Some people swore that the house was haunted. But what would they know? Did they ever talk to the dead? Huh! Not that that would make any difference! You could talk to the dead all day long, and you’d never get a yea nor a nay out of them. And what do you expect from a bunch of stiffs?

All I know is that when I used to step into this one particular spot, I would get this twisted feeling as if I were in Hell’s waiting room–but not all the time—only in the very early morning, just before the light could pry its way into the bedroom. At the foot of the bed, there seemed to be a little bubble of quiet, and I don’t know what or who was in there, but there was definitely something. I would walk through it several times every morning as I got ready for work. It was like a dead zone. I’d get into it and just look and listen—it was kind of seductive, so I’d have to push myself to snap out of it, to go make my coffee before frittering away my precious time sniffing out something that’s not about to let itself get found. It’s playing a joke on me, isn’t it? It’s a riddle: I’m all around you, but you can’t see me. I’m scaring you but you feel calm, I’ve just shut off your hearing, but you can hear the echoing silence of the Void, I’ve just revoked your soul, but I’ll allow it to follow you out the door on a need-to-leave basis just because…

During the day, I’d think about the bubble and wonder if I was losing my mind or if my dead parents were there in some parallel universe, trying to contact me. Maybe it was some kind of weird energy vortex worming its way up through the earth’s surface to suck a few hundred kilowatts out of some unsuspecting schlep (in this case, that would be me). Could the bubble actually be a portal for an alien abduction waiting to happen? Maybe it was a religious revelation, and I was chosen by some higher power to be the vessel through which a divine mystery would be revealed. For me, the most comforting hypothesis would be that I was merely losing my mind—with that option, at least, there were bound to be a few pharmacological straws at which I could clutch if things got too bad.

I’d always been perceived as being slightly wacky, but I never considered that to be my problem. Just to play safe, though, I never mentioned it to anyone. Every morning, I’d slip in and out of the bubble, trying to ignore it, but never quite managing to. Again and again, I’d stand there, mesmerized by something I’d call sacred if I weren’t so irreverent.

One morning, a morning no different from all the other mornings, I was walking through the bubble when I stopped for my usual obeisance to the Void. I smelled the coffee brewing in the kitchen, checked the time on the alarm clock and saw that I was running a little behind. Oh, and that coffee smelled so good! Like a jealous lover, the Void yanked me back to stare once again into the quiet, magnetic nothingness, but I managed, reluctantly, to turn my head, just in time to watch myself walking away from me.

And after that, nothing…was…ever…the…same…again…and…again…and…

Photo Credit: www.abubillamusic.com

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Not For Everyone

Foggy Morning, Point Arenas Lighthouse

“Hey, Gina! Listen to this—it’s a review of where we’re supposed to be staying tonight.”

Sea Shell Motel

“Nightmare!”
We were on a road trip down the California Coast and couldn’t find a place in Mendocino that we really dug so thought we’d keep driving. It ended up getting dark and we were low on gas and the gas station in town was already closed. The Point Arena Lighthouse Inn was booked, there were NO restaurants open and we were starving! Basically we had no choice but to stay at the Seashell Inn. We dropped our stuff off in the room to get some chips (for dinner!) from the liquor store. We came back to the room to find our TV had been turned on!! Someone had gone into our dirty, creepy room! We had no cell phone reception and the phone in the room didn’t work! It was straight out of a horror movie so we took a chance and bailed in hopes we could get to a gas station before we ran out of gas. Better to sleep on the side of the road than the Seashell Inn and be murdered in our sleep!

The little table in the Mendocino café shook as Reggie tapped away at his laptop. Thank God for Wifi! We were still a ways from Point Arena, but we were able to cancel our reservation at the Sea Shell Inn—they hadn’t even taken our credit card number, so the cancellation was just a courtesy on our part. Better arrangements had already been made, and now, we only needed to know how to get the key to open the little cottage at the lighthouse where we’d be spending the night. We wanted something a little special—after all, we were celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary.

Just before leaving the café, Reggie read an on-line review of our romantic little cottage:

“Definitely for us but not for everyone!”
Point Arena Lighthouse
This is a great place to stay if you are looking for a place which is very clean, very well equipped, comfortable, homey…and basic. We loved it. Wood burning stove was much appreciated in the early morning at the tip of Point Arena which is the closest point to Hawaii in the contiguous USA! This is NOT the place for those loving luxury and hair dryers and a restaurant on-site. But you can’t beat the harbor sea lions and the sound of the surf on three sides! Cell phone service is “iffy” but internet wireless is present. No phones in units. We stayed three nights but would come back for at least a week. We would bring our own books but the unit comes equipped with books, magazines, games, puzzles and good dish tv.
• Liked — The isolation while still providing wireless and dish tv
• Disliked — A queen bed in a small room…

“We’re not ‘everyone,’ so it sounds perfect,” I chirped, more to assure myself than Reggie.

Highway 101 continued to be breathlessly stunning, making your eyes ricochet from flower-draped cliffs to the sea stacks jutting out of the sparkling, achingly-blue ocean into which you could plummet at any moment. Indeed, the impending doom of a potential head-on collision lurking behind every blind curve makes the beauty seem that much more eternal.

The town of Point Arena wasn’t much to look at, although it was still charming in a West Coast, salt-bitten kind of way. As the GPS guided us into the hair-pin turn leading to the lighthouse, we passed the Sea Shell Inn. The curtains hung haphazardly, revealing gaping spaces beyond, too dark and dreary to be haunted, and the red neon vacancy sign skittered out a Morse code warning to stay away. I momentarily shuddered at the thought of almost staying there, but in all honesty, I was also a little apprehensive about where this road was taking us.

This was one long road—one mile paved through cow-studded golden pastures tightly lined with gnarled stands of eerily slanted cypress trees. A sharp bend to the right brought us to a dirt road for yet another mile of marine terrace, which narrowed down to a peninsula with the mainland across the choppy waves to the right and the boundless ocean on the left. The lighthouse beckoned to us with a distant wink. Since it was after hours, the little white gatehouse was empty, and in the waning light, it was almost possible to imagine that there was someone inside. We had been instructed to open the latch on the gate, which appeared to be locked but wasn’t. Ignoring the little hairs bristling on the back of my neck, I jumped out of the car and pushed open the wide, heavy gate on its reluctant, floppy rubber wheels, and closed it behind us after Reggie drove through.

Beyond the gate, the peninsula was even narrower and more wind-swept. The lighthouse dominated the point, holding court over the inconsequential goings on of lesser beings and objects below. We found the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage and extracted the envelope from the mailbox. There was a small car parked in the driveway, but there was nobody around. The other three cottages stood forlornly empty as well. The sight of that lone car waiting for no one slightly unnerved me. In the shadow of the lighthouse, we parked the car at the edge of our huge front “lawn,” and schlepped our bags across it towards our tin cottage. As we staggered across the scrubby lunar landscape of grey dirt punctuated by craggy plants, the cold wind whipped our hair and clothes into a dusty frenzy.

The glass door opened easily. The room was small, but warm and comfortable—a welcoming refuge from the cold, stinging wind. It was easy to ignore the slightly dank smell that permeated the room. I half-heartedly made some nice comments about the décor while Reggie turned on the gas fireplace. We sat down in our puffy armchairs facing the door. I pulled out my cell phone to check my messages, but to my dismay, we did not have cell phone service, just as indicated by the on-line review. Jeezum Crow! This place was really isolated! Hmmm, no phone service—no way to dial 911? Now I’m being ridiculous! When was the last time I had to dial 911 anyway?

Always finding a way to enhance the moment, Reggie pulled the door shade up, revealing the entire lighthouse. Since we were there to see and experience the lighthouse, I couldn’t very well object, but at that moment, I felt a vulnerability which would color the rest of our stay. We sat there contemplating the lighthouse while the gloom seemed to settle in like an uninvited guest. I wasn’t hungry, but when Reggie suggested we go into town for supper, I quickly agreed. I was able to open and close the gate a little faster than the first time, and I tried not to look at the gatehouse where I was sure someone was lurking.

The restaurant we had chosen on the waterfront was closed, so we went to the little pizza place which shared the same building. There was a large, noisy family of obese blond people in the barn-like, brightly-lit dining room and some mellow gay guys in the small, low-ceilinged cozy bar area. I opted for a little table by the picture window near the bar. The waiter was friendly and chatty, and when he found out where we were staying, he said, “Great place, but it’s not for everyone.” I laughed not because it was funny, but because it was so true. The pizza was good, or let’s say good enough, and all too soon, it was time to leave. I didn’t really want to go back, but you can’t say that when all your stuff is in the room, when you’ve already paid an arm and a leg to stay there, when it’s late and there really aren’t any other options, when you’re already tired and there’s no reason not to, when you don’t want your husband to know what a wimp you really are.

So we went back. Again, I opened and closed the gate, again I tried not to look into the gate house, and again, I ignored that sinking feeling of having a date with destiny. Maybe we could have just stayed at the pizza place, eaten pizza after pizza, stayed until 10 the next morning, and returned to the lighthouse after the place became populated once again. But we didn’t.

Back in our little tin cottage, we sat once again in the dark in our puffy armchairs, this time with wine, listening to the tormented wind and looking at the illuminated lighthouse through the door. That door gave me the creeps. I kept imagining that some big, hulking, lobotomized guy with an axe and a really bad attitude was going to come crashing through the glass. I am greatly comforted, though, by reminding myself that reality is never as bad as our fears are, and focused instead on the solidity of the lighthouse.

All of a sudden, the light went out, plunging us and the lighthouse into darkness. My heart stopped, but I did continue to sip my wine. So did Reggie. I don’t want to say that he was scared, too, but truth be told, how could he not be? He’d never admit it, even if he were. Good thing, too—you can’t have two people feeding each other’s fears. In fact, just one would be one too many, so I kept my fear to myself. My eyes were adjusting to the moonlight and I thought I could perceive some movement outside, but again, I ignored it, and continued to sip my wine. So did Reggie. The wind continued to howl, but the wine worked its magic and managed to anesthetize my ominous feelings of dread. I was falling asleep. Time to call it a night.

The bed was just right and the flannel sheets were toasty. Happy anniversary! I’d do it all over again. We snuggled up and fell into a deep sleep.

A series of photographic images, more visceral than visual, flash through my mind. I’m sleeping the sleep of the dead, and the hulking, lobotomized, crazy guy smashes his way through the glass door. Terror knots up in my throat. I’m so anesthetized that I can’t move, can’t open my eyes, can’t react, can’t scream, but my mind is screaming. I’m so trapped. I’m so scared. There’s nothing I can do but wait my turn with paralyzed patience. My head is smashed, bashed, split. I can feel it. Thud, splat, squish, crunch. It doesn’t exactly hurt, but it’s a feeling like no other. This is what irreversibility is all about–there’s no going back, even if you knew the way. It feels like a giant switch has been flipped and I’ve been shot to the stars. I’m so alone. Even though I can’t see or hear, I am aware of the cold moon, the relentless wind, the dark, all-seeing lighthouse. My mournful, empty soul doesn’t know what to do. It’s just as well that time doesn’t exist anymore because it’s just too late for anything.

I open my eyes. It’s morning. A dense fog is pushing against the windows and the glass door. The flannel sheets are still toasty and my dear, sweet Reggie is next to me, blinking at the light. He looks surprised, just like me, that we’re still here. “What a horrible nightmare I had!” I tell him. “I did, too,” he says. We compare notes and oddly enough, we’d had the same dream. That’s a first! It’s so comforting to look around the room and see that everything is just as we’d left it the night before. The shoes, the socks, the wine bottle, the glasses. The nightmare, now a distant memory, is fading fast. “Look at this great fog! It’s so magical! Let’s take a walk before the tourists start arriving.” We dress in two minutes and walk through the cloud-like fog. I feel so lighthearted, glad to be with the love of my life, happy to be alive. My feet barely touch the ground. There’s no wind, it’s warm, and the fog makes everything look enchanted. A car comes down the road and apparently, the driver doesn’t see us. We jump out of his way and he keeps going. Some people! Oh, well, it’s time to get going anyway.

We hurry back, take a quick shower, get dressed and leave. For the last time, I have to open and close the rolling gate. I latch the gate after Reggie drives through. I look up at the gate house into the staring eyes of the hulking, lobotomized, crazy guy from my dream. He is not amused, but then again, neither am I. Strangely enough, my heart doesn’t stop, doesn’t skip a beat, doesn’t do anything. I calmly get back in the car and I don’t tell Reggie about seeing the guy from my dream.

As Reggie is driving away, I pull down the vanity mirror on the back of the sun visor to put on some lipstick. In the mirror, I can only see the fog through the rear window. I angle the mirror, searching for my face. Now I can see the reflection of the ghostly lighthouse emerging from the fog. I adjust the mirror again, and again, and again. I am filled with a sense of dreadful understanding.

My face is not there.

Photo Credit: Gloria Talcove, Foggy Morning on the Grounds of the Point Arenas Lighthouse

(Both On-Line Reviews were taken from www.tripadvisor.com)

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An Incidental Gift

 

Venus Fly Trap

As I hurriedly walked away from the street vendor, two dollars lighter, my worries dissipated into light-hearted musings. A Venus Fly Trap! Hmmm…Just a little something–such an incidental gift (emphasis on the word “incidental”)—not the kind of gift you would have left your house intending to buy.

“What’s that?” my mother would demand to know, “Animal, vegetable or mineral?” I’d have to answer with “animal and vegetable, but neither fish nor fowl.” It’s nice little plant that lures an unsuspecting fly into its velvety maw. If she’s recovering, but I know she is not, she’ll probably ask about what kinds of bugs it will be able to eat in a hospital. Like all mothers, she always worries about everyone getting enough to eat—even a Venus Fly Trap. You could stare at it for weeks, waiting for it to perform its trick, but to no avail. I couldn’t imagine there being any bugs visible to the naked eye in the antiseptic fluorescence of her hospital room.

Safely seated away from the jostling of the subway straphangers, I was now able to pry open the plastic cube housing my new plant for whom I was already developing feelings. With only slight trepidation, I stuck my finger into the open bivalve trap, carefully avoiding the little teeth edging the leaf blades. I remember hearing that Charles Darwin himself had called it the most wonderful plant in the world. As the trap closed as much as it could around my finger, a wave of revulsion rose into my throat. I withdrew my finger, snapped the top of the plastic cube back into place, and contemplated how a vegetarian could justify owning such a plant, much less caring for it–aiding and abetting its murderous dharma.

What was I thinking? My poor mother is lying in a hospital bed, and I walk in with…what? A Venus Fly Trap? How could I have missed the irony?

My reverie is interrupted by the realization that there is a little kid sitting next to me, watching my every move. I only hope that I have not been vocalizing my thoughts. I ask the kid if she would like to have this very nice Venus Fly Trap. Her mother indirectly answers me by shouting at the kid not to talk to strangers.

The doors open…In walks an old man with a guitar and a mischievous glimmer in his eye. His pants are unzipped, but luckily still closed, thanks to the tenacity of a single button. I flash him a kindly smile which he seems to take as his cue to park himself in an empty seat across from me. I am rewarded with a loud rendition of “White Lady with the Red Lips” sung to the tune of Jim Dandy to the Rescue. Along with all the other passengers laughing at my expense, I laugh heartily at his wit, only because it is far less embarrassing than any other reaction I can think of. I dig into my back pocket, pull out a $1 bill, and stash it into the old man’s hat as he passes it around. Hahahahaha, great song! You really made my day!

The train screeches into my stop and I lurch towards the opening doors. I guess because I was the person who inspired the song, he thrusts the hat back under my nose—I nestle the Venus Fly Trap securely amid an unruly salad of $1 bills, and I walk my big red lips right off the train.

Incidentally, I’m sure he missed the irony.

Photo Credit: http://tonyfisherpuzzles.net/images/RubiksCubeVenusFlyTrap1.jpg

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