Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Night of the Pizza Predicament

Life goals.  Bucket lists.  Travel, swimming with sharks, naked skydiving.  Me, I want to eat an entire pizza.  Not one of those personal artisanal numbers.  I mean a New York City 24 inch in diameter eight slice glory monster.  Why fall naked out of an airplane, one that's flying no less when I can consume 10,000 calories of cheese and bread in one sitting?
While this was not the actual pizza, it may have well been...
I've come close several times.  I can get four slices down easy.  The secret is no liquids.  The fifth slice feels like a brick in my hands and then I tap out.  I end up having nightmares of being chased by giant pepperoni vampires and garlic knot zombies.  After a sip of anything it feels like adding water to cement.  First comes expansion, then pain and bloating.  It looks like I swallowed the Death Star and it feels like someone is trying to torpedo the thermal exhaust port.  
Tonight would be different.  Tonight I would make another run at my bucket goal.  
It arrived hot and steamy and ginormous, half-pepperoni half-chicken.  I opened the box, we stared at each other and so it began.  The first slice, pepperoni was savory and succulent.  The sauce to cheese ratio was perfect.  It was a crispy chewy delight.  The second slice, loaded with breaded fried chicken was just as lovely.  This was gonna be a breeze.  I alternated slices until I got through number four.  
I picked up number five and dug in.  Halfway through I got the first warning.  Maximum capacity was approaching.  I ignored the warning and shoved it in.  There were three slices left in the box mocking me, taunting me.  My brain was telling me tales of cholesterol and calories and my stomach was hinting at a night of raging discomfort but I was so close.
I swallowed hard and went for the sixth.  It wasn't as hot or succulent but it was still pizza.  The oil settled on top of each slice of calorie dense pepperoni.  I took more bites before swallowing as if eating five and chewing the sixth counted.  It didn't, I had to swallow.  It was a big cheesy ball that forced itself down burning and churning.  As soon as it hit my stomach I knew it was over.  I'd reached maximum density, bursting pressure.  Any more would mean blowing a valve somewhere inside and that would be hard to explain the emergency room staff. 
 "Doctor, this man has undigested pizza in his lungs and kidneys."   "Yes, I've seen this before.  Another victim of orgiastic pizza consumption.  I'll need a scalpel, a few rubber bands and a wet-vac."
I fell back into the chair all sweaty, heart racing.  A heart attack would be the only excuse to stop.  I almost welcomed it.  I could no longer feel my arms or my feet.  Oil and goo were all over my face because I forgot napkins.  I had to open my pants to allow for the coming expansion.  I pushed myself up and reached for the seventh cold slice.  I rolled, fell off the chair and crashed to the floor.  I heard the last two slices giggling in hysterics, they'd won again.  But not before I reminded them that I had indeed finished six slices.  
With a burning small moon in my gut and pepperoni giggling above, I rolled onto my back and stared at the ceiling. 

So close.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Heart of An Explorer (or something like that)

There it is again. That feeling. Can you feel it?  Something in the day that makes me feel this way.  The world is too small again and I cannot be constrained by its boundaries. My feral heart is yearning.  There's somewhere else to be besides under the cold shadow of storm laden skies. 

Destination unimportant. Out there.  Somewhere.  In that car I dream about so often rumbling around winding country roads.  Engine humming, wind blowing through open windows.  I don't even know where I'd go, just that I'd want to be in a car, driving. Just for today.  Maybe it's just the road itself, full of endless possibility, of people to meet, places to stop and listen to stories of lives between "here" and "there".   Hot coffee and french fries at some lonesome country

diner "out there".

The road calls. Or maybe the road is the page and the pen, the canvas and brush.  It's the restless heart craving release.  The spirit wants to soar but not necessarily on wings of feathers or wheels of steel.  The soul yearns to express, to discover and experience.  Maybe that's what lies on that road.  Have camera and note pad, will travel.

It's calling again.  Let's go.  I'll pick you up.  We won't be long. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Tale Of Mortimer Fagan Part II

When the young woman returned, she found her husband sitting in his chair with a smile on his face.  She was taken by the mad self-satisfied grin that seemed to grow and consume all the light in the room.  After a moment, she wondered why Mortimer Fagan did not come to greet her.  She looked around, called after him and shook his favorite bell toy.  All the while, the angry young man sat in his chair smiling.

The young woman knew from the cold look in his eyes that her husband had done something terrible.  Her heart beat fast and hard in her chest and  tears began to well in her eyes.  That was the cue he was looking for; the moment when he knew that once again he conquered her and defeated her spirit. 

The angry young man offered a smug confession that while she was out he took Pest for a ride down by Plum Beach which was some miles away.  He assured her the cat would not be coming home.  The young woman lost her composure and launched herself in a rage at her bullying husband with a force that surprised him.  He grabbed her, slapped her once across the face and threw her body on the couch where she folded up like a rag doll and sobbed for hours. 

The next morning, after the angry young man left for work, the lonely young woman  went out to the beach and called after her friend.  There was no response.   There was no warm fur ball, no soft purr to reassure her and she feared she'd never see her beloved Mortimer Fagan again.  

Some months passed and the lonely young woman gave birth to a smiling baby boy.  The angry young man, annoyed by the cries of an infant, disappeared for hours after work with his exciting younger girlfriend, leaving the young woman to care for their son all alone.  She knew he was nothing more than a bully and a scoundrel who intended to keep her trapped forever.  He'd taken so much from her, everything she loved.  She'd seen it build and knew she should have left long ago. 

Despite a new life in her hands, sadness hung over her like the clouds of a dull gray sky.  The guilt of failing her little kitten weighed upon her. The sight of his little worn toy mouse and bright little bell reduced her to tears once again.

In the evening, the house dark and lifeless except for her baby, the lonely young woman was tossing in bed alone. The man came home and stumbled around the dark fumbling for the light switch.  He smelled of alcohol and perfume.  He flipped the switch and the light came on and blew out as if a breath had extinguished a candle.  Cursing he stumbled along toward the bedroom where the woman was cowering under the covers.  He came closer, knocking things over and yelling for her.  She knew he was intent on taking out his frustrations on her again.  She crept off the bed, gathered her sleeping baby and crept toward the closet. The squeak in the floor boards gave her away. "Where are you?"  he growled. "Think you can hide from me?  I'll find you, just you wait".    He was closer now, almost within reach.  He was never more angry and she was never more afraid. If he grabbed her now she knew this would be it for her. 

He stumbled closer in the dark like a predator aware it's prey could not escape. He reached out his hand and grabbed at her hair when something soft and quick sped by the woman. There was a yelp and the sound of a struggle followed by a stumble and a crash as the angry young man fell down the hall stairs.  She sat in the sudden silence waiting.  She reached out along the wall and switched on the light. At the bottom of the stairs she saw the body of the angry young man splayed. Broken and still.  Three little claw scratches on his foot and a toy mouse at the foot of the stairs but no sign of anything else.  Only the cries of her baby pulled her out of her trance. 

The woman received a substantial sum from her husband's insurance, enough to get into some classes and start her new life.  Her real life.   She loved nature and woods and sand and got herself a place by the beach where the waves crashed and the boardwalk bristled with life. 

As she packed the last of her things she heard a shuffling sound from under a cabinet.  Grabbing a pan for defense she opened the door and out sprang the skinny undernourished body of Mortimer Fagan who jumped into her arms.  Somehow the little cat had found his way home and hid away from the bully who tormented them both.  She rolled on the floor with the little black cat who purred and licked at her face. She brought her little smiling boy over to meet her old friend.  The boy reached out and Mortimer Fagan rubbed his head on the boy's hand, happy to meet his brother. 

One last bit of business before leaving the old town was to bring Mortimer Fagan to the vet to make sure he was alright.  She saw the old man sitting quietly on the bench as before, smiled and went over to say hello.  "You look well", he said, "As if everything is going your way".  He asked about Mortimer, now back with the doc.  "He's fine", she said, "He's really just wonderful". The old man laughed and said,  "'Course he is. Animals recognize familiar souls.  He will always find his way home, always watch over you because a friend is a friend, from beginning to end". 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Tale Of Mortimer Fagan (told in two parts)

This is a story about love, lonlieness and friendship.  But aren't they all?

There once was a lonely young woman who married a very angry young man.  She was kept home tucked away doing chores and housework while he earned his wage and lorded over the manor.  She wasn't allowed to keep her own friends or give voice to her thoughts. The angry young man was quick with his temper and loose with his hands and kept the lonely young woman on very tight leash.

One morning after the angry young man had gone off to work, where he kept his exciting younger girlfriend, the lonely young woman went on a short walk not far from the house.  While enjoying the sun on her face and the precious moment of quiet peace, the lonely young woman heard a small desperate cry.  It was a tiny high pitched sound that would have gone unheard if even the slightest breeze passed through. She wrinkled her brow and craned her neck in the direction of the almost imperceptible sound.  There it was again, a pained cry for help. 

The lonely young woman got down on her knees and searched under the bushes that lined the sidewalk.  Two more cries and she honed in on the source.  There, under the dried brown leaves of autumn, coated in dirt and caked with fleas, was a tiny black kitten.   His fur was matted with bloody red spots like rusty dried soil.  The kitten was trembling and alone. 

Here in the hands of the lonely young woman was the most helpless tiny heartbeat.  As helpless as the life that was growing in her belly.  The kitten purred at her touch despite the pain he was in.  She smiled at the little thing and they comforted each other under the bushes that lined the sidewalk.  

The lonely young woman took the kitten home and gave him a saucer of milk and a can of tuna.  She took him to the doctor who gave him a bath and medication and a fine prognosis.  When asked for a name to create a medical record the lonely young woman paused, looked up the ceiling and said the first name that came to  her mind.  "His name is Mortimer, she said. Mortimer Fagan" with a smile.

"Ah, this one loves you. You can tell."  An older man, tall and bald with a charming smile standing behind her had spoken.  "He's really attached. Had him long?"  "No, I just found him.". The man laughed and smiled.  " You didn't find him, he found you. They have a way like that. They know when a soul is crying out and in need. This little one, he's your familiar, he is.  He'll help you, whatever you need, have no fear.  Whatever it is you're hurting from, he'll help you."

The lonely young woman politely nodded and listened without really believing and took her friend home despite the trouble she knew would await.

Mortimer Fagan regained his health day by day.  The young woman, now not so lonely, fed and cared for the little kitten, kept him warm and provided him with a constant playmate.  Her little friend made her very happy. 

The young woman's new happiness did not go unnoticed by the angry young man whose small mind churned with a slow-boiling jealousy.  Though his dinner was always on the table, the clothes were cleaned and the house was tidy he could not tolerate an emotion over which he had no dominion. He did not address the kitten by name calling him only Cat or Pest.  He watched with cold contempt as Mortimer Fagan sat curled on the young woman's lap, purring with content as she stroked his healing skin.  At night he slept on her head or, to her delight leaned up against her expanding belly like an extra tiny blanket. 

During the day Mortimer Fagan followed the young woman around the house as she performed her dull chores.  When the angry young man's temper flared and he lashed out at the young woman, Mortimer Fagan would come between them as if such a small springy body would make a suitable defense against such a large and heartless bully. When she sat on the porch dreaming of a different life, Mortimer Fagan sat there beside her, purring with content. When she took her short walks Mortimer Fagan was a few cautious paces behind her. When she cried in a corner from abuses mental and physical, Mortimer Fagan purred in her lap, assuring her that all would one day be okay.

One dark, ugly winter morning the angry young man sent the young woman on an errand that would take her several hours.  Alone with his adversary he studied him from his chair.  The small black cat hid in the shadows and eyed the angry young man with suspicion. They stared at each other at a room's distance each not understanding what the young woman saw in the other. The angry young man got up from his chair and looked for his keys...

Part II tomorrow.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Page 1 of 365

One particular New Year-themed meme caught my eye this morning as I checked in on social media.  It read, "Page 1 of 365".  As a writer of sorts that made more sense to me than anything I saw in The Force Awakens which was terrible, in my opinion. 

We are all aware that New Year's Eve is the day we roll out  the grand clean slate, the new beginning and all that.  For some, it's the race to see who can blow through their list of resolutions the fastest.  For the record, I don't make resolutions but if I did number three on that list lasted exactly four hours and 37 minutes.  

I don't like New Year's Eve.  I feel like I'm forced into taking stock of things I'd rather forget like that embarrassing moment  you said something absolutely ludicrous to that one person you've been trying to impress all year.  "Oh, I didn't mean to comment on your chest size, I was just complimenting your choice of bra and sweater combo...".   

Add "Think before you speak" to the resolution list and start the timer.

Frankly, anything bad or good that happened to me last year was because I took an action, not because it was 2015 and anything bad or good coming up this year will be for the same reason, not because of 2016.  So I sat there yesterday on my perch determined not to be a part of it.  Not to recount, reflect or remember.  Everything I want this year is the same thing I wanted last year, including the Corvette.    All the things I don't want are still there, too.  But there I was, spitefully determined not to join the throng sucked into year-end news stories, extravagant party plans or declarations for prosperity happened.  

I had a moment of quiet pondering.  My list, if I were to make one wasn't really a list, it was a focus of intent.  What am I now, what do I want to be and why is there such a gap between the two?  This sounds a lot better than say, bench pressing my body weight, getting rich by inventing room temperature fire  and abstaining from pizza. 

No, what I really want is to be true to myself.  There's a Real Me inside that I keep hidden away for some reason.  Call it not wanting to feel vulnerable.  See, I made up this character when I was a teenager, Ollie.  He's a five legged spider who loves to play.  Just a little boy who lives for fun on his own terms.  The thing is, Ollie is me and it took nearly 30 years to have the courage to show the world.  The best part is, he wasn't rejected, he was welcomed.  He is what's in me and I want the rest of him out here, too.  Kind of like wearing your underwear outside your pants if you happen to be wearing Superman underwear.  

This morning my brain is crowded with a million zillion ideas all rushing to the front like a stampede of fourteen year old girls trying to get to the front at a Justin Bieber show.   Everything I am inside is crowding the door as if to say, "He gets it now!  Me first."  

Today is page 1 and this is my entry.  

Tell me, what is it you'd like to be?  I don't mean thinner or richer.  I mean what is your intent not just for this year, but for this life?