Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Dream The Impossible Dream

To any of you that know me, yes on the surface this seems like a terrible idea. Me, Beverly, the girl who can never finish anything wants to try this:

Yup, crazy. And yet for me it may make sense.
First: Spelling doesn’t count. A big plus for me.
Second: Punctuation no problem, no one cares.
Three: If I want, no one actually has to ever even read it and you still can win. Well, in truth there is no one winner. There is just the satisfaction of accomplishing the huge task of writing a 50,000-word novel in a month. This maybe be good for me? Sit down and write 1,600 words a day. Think about it. A novel with no other rules, then that it is a story with characters and a plot that can be anything and go anywhere. Maybe this is what I need to get over myself. A basically (for me) impossible task that I know going in is impossible, (probably). I am not setting myself some unreachable goal that I won’t achieve and then feel bad about. I am setting a goal that I know is impossible, (probably) and if by some crazy happenstance I achieve it, (Wow) will I be surprised! And proud. Fuck the spelling and the grammar. I typed 6,000 letters in a row a today and sprinkled in periods and semicolons too. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. But come, on those of you who know me, know that there is very little chance there is going to be any use of semicolons going on by me.
Now, this does not mean I will not be writing my blog. I will. But if you want to follow my progress at the NaNoWriMo you can check me out here:
http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/528908
Not that I am promising that there will be any. I am just saying I am gonna try. Lets see what happens if I just free associate and let the story take me wherever it wants to. It could be a work of undying genius. Or a huge tangle of a mess. More likely the later.
If anyone wants to try their hand at this too, check out:http://www.wikihow.com/Participate-in-NaNoWriMo
I dare you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Back!

I'M BACK !




Hello Darlings. Oh, I have missed you all. I wanted to write sooner, but I had not finished my short story. You were all so encouraging, but when I sat down to write the story it would turn to ether and float away.
Then an odd thing happened. Other characters began showing up. It was as if I had given an intimate cocktail party and a vanload of people would crash the party. And the most surprising part was that they were far more interesting then the guests that I had invited. Could it be true that the story already exists and it is up to me to chip away at the alphabet until it’s spirit can be released. I know one thing I have learned to trust my instincts a little bit more. The original story is still in there, but now it sits at the periphery. The main character has more to say and do. I also like her a lot more, and then I did before. I want to be her friend. Wait, I am her friend. I care about her and all the characters. I think I may actually be writing now for myself. That can only be a good thing, right?
Of course I had big plans for the summer. Winning the Pulitzer. Winning the Lottery.
(Sharing it all with you, of course) Eating better, Exercising. But, life just got in the way. As it always seems to do. But, I did think of all of you my friends.

Mapstew: Whenever the girls and I went to the beach this summer we would always wave and blow a kiss to you and yours across the ocean!

Jimmy B: I was so worried when I heard. You’re in my prayers and in my heart. You’re no pansy, so I am sure if you’ll just rest a wee bit you’ll be fine. Try not beating anyone up for a week or two and see if that helps any. If you’re not good I’ll come over there and help your wife kick your ass.

Japing Ape: King of the jungle, truly evolved being, how I have missed you perspective on this world gone mad.

Scarlet: I have had nowhere to turn for a real ladies view on things. I mean a real sexy ladies view. Were have all the sexpots gone?

Dear Peter N.: Guess what. My daughter dating a pitcher! Just a local team, but he is teaching her to love The Red Sox. Oh, the heart aches to come.

Kate: Your far busier then me, but you manage to keep up your blog. Super woman! I hate you. Love, Bev

Laughing Wolf: Who always makes me laugh!

Aishoka: a woman of mystery that appears like a ghost and then is gone, again.

Madame Defarge: Can I be you when I grow up? You’re just so hip and funny.

Deborah K.: Have I been sog? I think I have. If only I had stated writing when I was your age! AHhh. Can we be friends when you are famous? Can I say, oh yes we go way back ole, Deb and I.

Ana: My newest friend, Your are truly funny and very smart. I hope you will be around for a long time. Heck I hope I will be around for a long time!

Emma: I know I owe you a bad sex story I haven’t forgotten. I must have had one. Hum, Let me think…

And to all my new friends, I promise to check in this week and say Hi, Thank You for stopping by. If I missed you on this list I am truly sorry, but it is growing late and my brain is growing numb.

I will catch up with you all and have missed you.

Much LOVE
Bev

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Short Story That Wont Go Away

The Short Story That Wont Go Away

Hello Gang,
I was going to post something witty and insightful. Ya, know, like I do. But it occurs to me that I have a short story floating around my head. It won’t go away. So I think I am gonna have to try and write it. Scary! So, what this means is every time I could be posting here, I “Should” be writing the story.
So I am putting my toe in the water and hope a big wave of insecurity doesn’t drowned me. But, listen I wouldn’t even be trying this if you all hadn’t supported every thing have posted so far. You’ve given me courage. Even with all my grammar and spelling mistakes you have been lovely warm friends.
Now, I am still going to be out here commenting on all your clever doings. But this blog may be quiet for a week or two. It should take me that long to find out if the idea has legs.
I’ll keep you posted when I can.
Love to you all until then.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Sound At My Window



What was that sound? A scratching? A soft but intent scratching coming from the window. At this time of night? Look, the cat hears it too. Is it a branch from the Hawthorn tree outside my window, rubbing in the breeze against the glass? It must be. But there is no breeze. I can see from my bed that the branches of the tree are not moving. It has been still and hot all day. When I finally fell asleep a few hours ago the air was stiflingly thick and hot. What I wouldn’t have given then for a cool breeze. What I would give for one now, but for another reason altogether. If I could see that branch move in the moonlight and hear the wind in the night, I could forget all this and roll over. I could fall back asleep. Fall back asleep. What an odd term. That to sleep is to fall. Like losing control, to let go of consciousness and drop into a well of darkness. To take for granted that I will wake, that I will land somewhere in that abyss of sleep softly. Do we only let go because we are too exhausted to stay awake? Will I lose my grip simply because I cannot hold on any longer? Or will I forget to care? Is it that I will let myself acquiesce once I have become distracted enough by some lithe and yielding thought that comes to me with arms out-stretched to hold me in the embrace of sleep? Now, that is a vivid, albeit Victorian image of sleep. Like some midsummer’s night wood nymph, come to seduce me into sleep. That might be pleasant. Enough! Stop thinking and let yourself sleep. It‘s not as if you don’t let yourself sleep every night previous to this one. Relax and stop thinking. Stop listening to that scratching, and stop looking at the window. It is nothing.
Too high up from the sill to be a mouse. The sound comes not at any rhythm. It is inconsistent, yet diligent - as if it is working away at something. Something like the paint and putty that holds the pane in place. And when that pane lets go, will I hear it fall softly on the carpeted floor? Or will it be held in place for a moment and then turned and pulled through the window and carefully dropped to the grass below? Would I hear it from the bed? Would it shatter from this height? God, what is holding him up? Does he float there? Or is he clinging to the clapboards with long and bony fingers? Are his toes curled under each board just enough to allow him to work with one hand?
The cat sits up and continues to stare at the window, her ears pulled back. She suddenly hisses. No! Don’t think about this. Don’t let go. Don’t give in to panic. Think about some thing else. Better yet, take action. Stand up and walk over to the window. Check out this phantom for yourself. Discover for yourself what this unremarkable sound is and just what is causing it. Or, if you cannot bring yourself to do that, get up and leave the room. Perhaps if I pretend to be thirsty, and act as if I am just getting up for a glass of water, will I fool him? Then I can make a run for it. But to where? The front door? Outside? That’s where he is. Could I make it to the car? No, the darkness is his domain. One step outside and I would be his. His embrace would not be that of some sprite, but of some other thing, with long and oh-so-cold fingers on my skin. I would be warm and slick with sweat and paralyzed with fear in his arms. Would his eyes be red like they are in horror movies? No, his are yellow like a wolf. Yes, there they are. I see them through the glass. Wait, are they real? If they blink they are real. Yes, there they go. Not once but twice as if to answer me. Yes, they are real. They are lovely, really. Fringed with sooty lashes. Not yellow at all really, but golden and great. The paler cheekbone angles sharply in and then there are his lips; full and gently parted, whispering something. Yes, I've been foolish. I am going to the window. It is such a hot night. I need the air.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Murder On Heartbreak Road Part 2

Murder On Heartbreak Road Part 2

My name is Izzie McNeill I am a thirty five year old widow with three daughters. My husband Sam had died three years ago in a car accident that was interesting only because it was stupidly avoidable and that it had broken my heart.
It was raining, his tires were worn, and he skidded into another car. The other driver was unhurt and my Sam was dead. A simple, boring story, as death so often is, to those it doesn’t directly effect. And I guess that is how it’s supposed to be.
I live in Ipswich, Massachusetts, A small coastal town founded way back in the 1600’s. It’s a typical picture postcard New England town, filled with little shops and antique homes. Yes, Washington slept here, although whether or not he had fried clams is unknown. Everyone else has. We’re famous for our clams here. That and our beach. Cranes Beach is one of those white sand beaches that is just big enough to fit all the tourist willing to pay the rather exorbitant price to swim in it’s pristine freezing waters. Ipswich has had a witch or two in its day, a few famous authors, and one Puritan poet. We have a few great restaurants and more then a couple of bars that each cater to it’s own select crowd. If you’re of Greek extraction you go one place. If you’re Polish you go to another. There’s a place if your rich and another if your just folks. It’s the same with the town’s churches. Everyone’s welcome to visit, but whether you’ll be considered a regular is another matter all together.
Our town has Mansions and row houses and everything in between. The liberals think there are too many conservatives and the conservatives think just the opposite. The nice thing is that there seems to be room enough for everyone. The one thing we don’t have is a lot of big crime. I swear to you the most interesting thing in last week’s police notes was the report of a duck crossing Main St. at midnight. Hold the presses. Not that I am complaining mind you. Nor am I naive to the oddities that must go on behind closed doors. Ipswich is full of regular people, just like any town. I know that there have been a few murders and acts of violence committed here in the last four hundred years. But when they happen here, the town stands still for a moment in time. The idea that such a thing has happened is so tangible that you can almost feel it like an electric shock reverberate through one citizen to the next. In Ipswich it is more likely two guys will get into a brawl outside one of the pubs. A few times some clammers have been caught catching more bales of marijuana then clams. Perhaps the one factor keeping most violent crime from our shores is the town’s love; no strike that, it’s pure, guilt free love of gossip.
I really can’t imagine anyone from our town getting away with murder with out everyone finding out.. They would what are you doing? What are you up to? What was that chainsaw noise they heard last night at midnight coming from your backyard? And hey, why haven’t we seen aunt Bertha in awhile? The one that we all know is leaving you that small fortune when she dies. All I am saying in this town not many people get away with much. It’s very Yankee. It’s kind of Puritan Pilgrim too. But without all that witch burning and more martinis. For the most part it works.
This time it didn’t.
For the sake of full discloser you should know I didn’t do it. I know just were I was at the time of Linda’s death. Although it would not be much of an alibi had I ever been considered a possible suspect? I was in bed under my covers. Trying to hide from another migraine. This one was building like thunderclouds. It threatened to become one of those rare headaches that not only incapacitates me, but actually frightens me. The bottle had read take one tablet every six hours for pain. I had already taken three in the last five minutes. For months now it had taken more and more Vicodine to even make a dent in a really bad one. It was beginning to become a problem. Of course that wasn’t what I was thinking. I was thinking what if I hadn’t taken enough pills. What if the pain still came roaring in?
I could already see the stark white flutter of wings at the periphery of my vision. Those were my birds of prey. This was my particular apparition. Migraine suffers often see flashes or hues of light. For me it was angry, panicked white wings. Occasionally there might be shadow of violet or a bright yellow streak when I closed my eyes. But that for me were only seen as the migraine was passing. Or more likely then not, it when the narcotics where kicking in.
On that sunny afternoon in June, the world for me was slowly becoming warm and sweet. I was falling in love with everyone in the world, and those white birds were becoming angels.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Murder On Heartbreak Road

Murder On Heartbreak Road

You see the thing about Linda was, that she was stupid. And like a lot of stupid people, she was also loud. Yes, Linda Reynolds was a loud, blousy, over bleached blonde, who had no idea how dumb she was.
Not being bright alone is fine. Everyone is stupid when it comes to something. Now, I don’t know this for a fact, but I like to think Albert Einstein had no rhythm. He understood the workings of the universe both on a technical scale and also a hypothetical one, but when it came to Salsa dancing he was a mess. Lucile Ball was a genius when it came to comic timing. But she couldn’t drive stick. Again, these are not facts, but for me the idea brings a certain fairness and order to the world.
The only natural gifts that Linda’s possessed were her breasts. They were large and they were real. Not so big as to be thought comical. Or even so big as to not be taken seriously. Which might have been a blessing considering her intellect. No, she had none of that Marilyn Monroe charm. But it was enough to get her married to a lawyer and moved out of her blue-collar town and into the house across the street from me.
Ted Reynolds her husband, was going so be someone someday. They both knew it. For Ted, Linda fit the bill for his plans perfectly. Someday he would be senator Ted Reynolds and there she would stand next to him. Being, pretty, blonde and thinking everything that came out of his mouth was brilliant and original. All this while, at the
same time having big breasts. He would someday soon give her a behemoth brick house crammed onto one and a half acre lot in a new town. A better town. One where new money would waft in the air like the new car smell in the leather interior of so many of her better friends shiny and always new SUVs. In return she would give him good-looking children and not ask too many questions. They were perfect for each other.
That is, right up until Linda was found dead. Bludgeoned to death on her spotless kitchen floor.
Linda had lived on my street for the past four years. I was one of her best friends and I never liked her. But she never noticed. For the sake of maintaining order in our peaceful neighborhood, I never brought it up. It was always so much easier to let her babble on for a while, then excuse yourself because of the kids, the dog, or anything that you could think of, not to make waves. I mean it wasn’t like she was going to catch on. So you can imagine my shock when I had heard that someone had bashed in Linda’s head. Especially when it had occurred to me to do it myself on so many occasions.
I know how this makes me sound. Sure I was stunned. I was upset. When you think of something like that happening right across the street. I mean when you really stop and think that a person passed right by your house, on their way to commit murder. Well, it’s horrible. Linda was annoying, but certainly not evil. She didn’t deserve to die violently and alone.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Today I Saw Love.



Today I saw two people fall in love.
That is I want to believe I saw two people fall in love.
I was driving down a lonely long stretch of road, when I noticed two cars pulled over by the side of the road. One car was a classic convertible Mustang: white with two cherry red racing stripes. The other was a small equally cherry red, ecological hybrid. Standing between them was a man and a woman in their mid twenties staring down at a very large, very misguided turtle that was by the look of it heading out to cross that road.
The man was wearing faded jeans and a white oxford shirt. He had soft curly blond hair. The woman was a petit brunet wearing a black and white striped t-shirt and a short red shirt. One hand was on her hip; the other was directed toward the turtle. He had one hand scratching his hair and the other on his hip. They were laughing. They were nervous. Nervous for the turtle, but their body language said that they were nervous with each other too.
Would he play the hero and try to move the turtle himself? Would she be a game girl and lend a hand? Would they both take a risk and slide their fingers carefully under his shell? Would the side step together across the street laughing and worrying about that ancient beast’s choppers. Would he worry more for her safety then his own? Would she feel guilty that she had somehow gotten him into this potentially dangerous mess? Would they laugh while they saved the turtle?
Would this adventure bind them together? After placing the turtle safety by the bank of the river that ran along the other side of the road, would they look into each other’s eyes and know each other? She might offer to buy him a beer? He might follow her to the restaurant down the road? They might sit together on the deck watching the sunset, talking and falling in love.
I know that this sounds ridiculously romantic. That it is more likely that they nudged the turtle back off the road with their feet, facing him away from the river to confuse him. This would be the easier, safer thing to do. Then they probably climbed back into their own cars, smiled and maybe waved to each other, as they drove away in opposite directions. Days later they might pass one another on the street and not recognize each other. The moment would have passed with out love.
But you see in the seconds it took me to pass the two on the road there was a rainbow. A perfect double rainbow, which stretched across the whole sky over their heads and they never, noticed it. It must mean something. It has too. Or there is no such thing as a perfect moment. Or fate, or kismet or the chance that the universe could come together for one perfect moment.
Today I saw two people fall in love.
I am certain they did.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

True Crime VS. True Art

TRUE CRIME VS. TRUE ART
The thing with me is that I always have to read something really mindless after reading something great. I have to let the good book digest. Simmer. I would say gestate, but that word leaves me thinking of that scene in Alien. Ya, know the one with the creature that comes bursting out of John Hurts stomach. I have yet to have a book have that effect on me.
No, I need to read something pulpy. A romance, or a crime novel. The mental bubblegum of summer fare. Not that I limit this to the summer. Yes, for every War and Peace, there is a Lord Of Scoundrels. I don’t even have to finish the lesser book. I usually can only manage to read these books until the hero finally has sex or the murderer has made know the why and how they do the nasty things they do. I could careless as to how he will get caught. He always does. I don’t need to know how the feisty heroine and brave, buff hero find their happy ending. They will. I just need the book in my hand and the smell of newsprint wafting under my nose. Living without a new book within easy reach is not an option But, I feel guilty. I feel embarrassed. The better part of me feels ashamed. Time is passing and there are so many books. I should be improving my mind. I should be immersing myself in the works of the great writers. I should be reading books like Ethan Frome. Ugh, Ethan Frome. Only New Englanders would try to kill themselves sledding! And yet the simple beauty of that book. The aching characters, the pain of a love that cannot be and then of course that punishing ending. You read that book and you know you’ve been through something. God please hand me the latest Dan Brown. I need a temporary lobotomy.
I know I sound like a snob. Let me clear. I don’t understand everything I read. But I try. Let me be honest too. Sometimes the stars align just right and you find that fluffy light book that is just a joy to read. A perfect mix of the mindless respite and good fun that doesn’t make me want to throw it against the wall ten chapters in.
Still, all those great books are just sitting on shelves waiting for me to read them. And time is passing. How many can I get to before my time on this mortal coil is over?
I have one hope. That heaven has bookshelves. I have talked about this with Ana many times. The patient girl. She as of late still remains unconvinced.
I believe that everyone gets his or her own heaven. In mine there are shelves of books. In fact every book that has ever been written or will ever be written. And there will be museums with halls of paintings that shift and change with every visit. The works of the old masters and of those yet to be will appear on the walls just as I am in the right frame of mind to appreciate them. Oh, and there of course will be a bitchin gift shops!
Sometimes I wish I could be the intellectual I would like to be. It’s just that sometimes stupid is just so much more fun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Truth Was Always Out There.

The Truth Was Always Out There.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Loves Wicked Ways


It was a dark and stormy night. There was a flash of thunder and a crash of lighting. Her bosom heaved and so did he. Her head told her this was wrong, but her heart said it was inevitable. Her appendix was keeping it’s opinion to it’s self.
He came from he wrong side of the tracks. He was poor, but brilliant. Unfortunately he was not brilliant in any practical, money making way. He could always find the perfect row to sit in at the movies. He was a genius at getting a good parking spot. He was a champion at board games. Not that this helped him to actually sink any battleships or monopolize any real estate holdings. Nor could he find Australasia on a normal map, never mind defend it from an enemy. However he was incredibly handsome. So handsome in fact that everyone who met him, instinctively dislike him.
But not her, she was blind to his handsomeness. Well, in fact she was not blind, just very nearsighted. And she was always misplacing her glasses. By the time she had found them and could see just how handsome he was, it was too late. She was in love.
Her beauty was second only to her sisters. But recently her sister had been really stressed out and had gained a lot of weight over the past summer, so in fact it could be said that that if you weren’t into slightly zaftig women she was actually just as beautiful as her sister. It was really 50/50. Six of one, half a dozen of another. Ugh, it was close enough.
She was rich and had a plucky spirit. But a short attention span. But honestly, it’s much easier to maintain a plucky spirit if you are distracted all the time.
Outside it was a downpour. The gods wept and the angels threw temper tantrums. But there in her father’s mansion alone, the two young lovers knew nothing, but the warmth of each other’s hearts and that it appeared he was allergic to shellfish. After a quick shower and a change of shirts he was back holding her in his arms and all was right with the world. Well, at least their part of the world. They were both not big readers, nor did they watch a lot of news on TV. So for them things were going pretty good.
“Marry me darling,” he said. “ We will live off of your fortune, and I will give you beautiful children. We will help the economy by spending lots of money everywhere.”
“Oh sweetheart, that sounds lovely. Can we drive a ecologically friendly car too?”
“Yes, of course my dearest if you wish but not one that is too slow, or too small, you know something cool looking too.“
“Yes, my sweeting, what ever you think best.”
And the two of them lived very, happily ever after. Thus driving all that knew them nuts with how easy everything came to them and how oblivious they were to it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Writer's Block



It was the best of times it was the worst of, why can’t I write? Why is it that when I sit in front of the keyboard nothing comes? Is it fear? Is it failure? Do I have too much invested?
They say just write. Anything. They say a writer, writes. They say just begin. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy writer who is so frozen with self-doubt that she cannot precede.
Where are the good words, the clever words? The words that will impress everyone with my witty intellect and insightful prose. Is it too much to ask to put on paper the words that will bring me riches, while at the same time proving to everyone, (including myself) that I am not wasting my time? Not to mention your time. I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth to a company of captive wolves. Wolves of my own insecurities. Tigers of fear. Dark, lightless, voids that wait under my bed, breathing slow and hotly, waiting.
See Dick run. See Jane run. See me pushing forward past the self-induced ennui, and self hate. See Jane slap Dick in the puss, and tell him loudly to “GET OVER IT!”
Tis a far, far better thing I do, then I have ever done before, to love myself and forgive my failings and to laugh at my mistakes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Letter to a Goddess


A while ago I heard that there were brush fires near a old friend of mine’s home. I e-mailed her to see if she was in the fires path. She wrote back that she was not, but that she did have bad news. She had breast cancer. She included a photo of herself bald, but with a great big smile on her face; sitting in her yoga class.
I hope I don’t seem self indulgent by posting this letter, that if the truth be told, I was rather proud of. But honestly my hope was that if I posted the letter I sent her, it might help someone else who may be feeling overwhelmed.

BHW

Dearest Mo,
First let me say that I love you. I always have. Your note made me worry and wish I could be there to hug you and make you laugh. When I looked at those photos you sent, there was my funny, sweet, friend with the laughing eyes and goofy smile. There you are obviously going through some hard shit, but still with that light in your eyes. I touched your face on the computer screen and searched for the right words to write back. So I waited. Paced the room and went to bed. But before I slept I said my prayers. To God, the Catholic Saints I grew up with , my guardian Angel, you’re guardian Angel, Buddha, and the Universe. I was exhausted by the time I was done. Thank Goodness I was so close to the bed!
It was in that quiet calm after prayer that the voice came. A voice that was so much calmer and so much wiser then mine.
What did you ask her?
Are you on Fire?
Was her answer, yes?

You are surrounded by those holocausts of flame, that destroy one place and just as easily leaves another in peace. It swirls around you, heat and smoke, flame and passion calling on you to be that other Mo. Not the kind, loving mother, the supportive mother/wife. Not the housekeeper, but the keeper of the flame.
The other Mo; the one you keep hidden away so that others need not tremble and fear in your presence.
You, that is, She.

She, the fire Goddess that lives deep in your soul. She who wears a fur bikini like Raquel Welch in the movie: One Million Years B.C. She, who stand four inches taller then any man. Who brings home the beacon, fires it up in a pan; a pan that was forged in a fire made strong by the burning hearts of those that would try to hurt her or those she loves. You that is She, whose love burns hotter that then sun. She that is You, who breathes into her lungs oxygen that feed that fire. You whose breath comes out in warm and controlled. You that mocks the dark evil cells that have the audacity to make their presence known. You laugh at their meager attempts and brush them away like dust moats in the aura of your light. There is a flash of jungle red nail polish as your hand passes through the air. At the same moment there is a charge, a spark of electricity that dances around your dangly earrings. It amuses you the way they tickle. With long sweeping strides you head to your yoga class. A flaming spear tossed casually over your shoulder. Along the way you spot Osama Bin Laden sleeping at a bus stop and smote him with a glance. You flip open your cell phone and call the authorities. They’ll find him in a pile of ash under a turban. He can stick that in a birka, you think to yourself. Around the corner you effortlessly throw your spear through the heart of a pedophile, then turn to find a would be terrorist hooking up a large D-cell battery to six bound sticks of dynamite. You stare into his chocolate brown, almond shaped eyes. He begins to mumble something, but you stop his words with a kiss. Hotly and wantonly you press yourself against this man, until all he can think of is You that is She. Your curves, your softness, the heat of your raw passion. You gently bite his lower lip and smile, saying, “Allah is a woman and she forgives you, now put away the toys, go home and draw me a bath”. In the yoga room others gather to find their center and enlightenment. The yoga mat is but a postage stamp under your big toe. For You that is She are the center from which all love and passion, heat and flame come. You are the light in enlightenment. But no. That is too strong. Too powerful for such a small room. You have no wish to make those with gentle souls quake in the glory that is You that is She. So you breathe slowly. With each breath becoming more compact, more civilized, and more genteel. You sit on the cool wood floor, on your mat that is now in it’s proper proportion. The jungle red of your nails is fades to a pretty pink. The passion and heat of your goddess heart folds in on itself again and again like the tempered steel of a samurai sword. Now, You that is She fits in the room and no one would suspect your power. But for those brave enough to look directly into your eyes. There they will see the flame. And for those foolish enough to anger you, well, you’ll show them your Warrior Pose.
Tonight put on your fur bikini and go outside and find the full moon. I on the other coast will put on mine. (It’s nice a leopard number) and we will howl at the moon together across this long distance that separates us. Then grab your daughter and I will grab mine and we will all howl. And then dance!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fate and the Fortunate



My grandfather had four brothers. They were all born in east Boston and lived in a brownstone with their two sisters. Their father was a furniture maker and they being by this time second-generation immigrants from England were doing pretty well.
It’s just that it seems fate had strange things in store for them. All of them except for my grandfather, who always seemed to live a charmed life.
A train hit the first brother at the age of twenty.
The second disappeared while driving a horse and buggy over a bridge on a sunny afternoon. He, the horse and the buggy were never found! The third brother also disappeared, however he did this disappearing of his own accord. According to my mother, when the second brother met his mysterious end, his fiancé thought that the third brother should take his place at the alter. So did her parents. So one night he just disappeared and was never heard from again. Although every time the phone would ring just once, my Grandmother was certain it was him.
Now the fourth brother was fine and graduated from a very good school for pharmacology. He then became addicted to Phenobarbital. He ended up a prison dentist out on an island in Boston Harbor. I always imagine him sitting in his dentist chair with the windows open to the fresh sea air, while he spun slowly around, stoned out of his mind. Was this because just because it was a new drug and they perhaps didn’t understand the dangers? Or was it the stress of waiting for fate to find him?
My Grandfather as you may have guessed by my being here to write this, did not die an early death or disappear. He came close once to being in harms way. While waiting in line to board a ship for Europe during World War 1, he was tapped on the shoulder and told to report to the fingerprinting department. There he was asked if it was true that he was an artist, which is what he had written on his records. He said that it was true, and was promptly made chief finger printer for the duration. He never left Boston until the end of the war.
He made money from his drawings all through the depression, for the racetrack or for the fights. All the gangsters loved him! He met the Archbishop of Canterbury who was in town visiting, while weeding his garden. They wrote to each other for many years. He was friends with Jack Benny, Jack Dempsey and Bobby Orr. But he never had more then one beer a week and he always looked twice when crossing the railroad tracks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

East of The Sun and West of the Moon.


Ah, in praise of an orthodox childhood! My father ran away from his redneck home after writing an essay on civil rights that got him expelled from high school. He hit the road to become a Jazz musician. He ended up playing with Miles, Dizzy and Moody. He experimented with many drugs and had many affairs.
My mother was sent to a Catholic parochial boarding school less then an hour away from home. Her parents seldom visited. She would often sneak into the storage room of the school library to read the banned books. Subsequently was the only girl they did not ask to become a nun. She became a teacher and was loving and kind to every child that came her way. Specializing in kids with special needs. She tried it all at least once and had me as surprise gift after a weekend of tequila filled fun with my Dad. They were married some months after.
I am the only child of bohemian, 60’s, beatniks. Tales of my childhood have impressed some and horrified others.
In 1965 we moved to New York City. I only saw my Dad after 3:00 until around 6:00pm, because he played all night and slept all morning. I lived on the eleventh floor, the highest button I could reach on the elevator. It was my “Uncle’s Mikes” apartment that we sublet from him while on an extended tour of Paris. My father had no actual brothers, just honorary ones. Just cats with soul patches and shades that never showed their eyes in daylight. Our building was full of other musicians and actors that held day jobs like cab drivers and waitress. They would come home dragging their feet and hurry off to nap before the night would come and their real world would come alive.
Sometimes “Uncle Mike” would fly back to town, but he never stayed at his old apartment. Instead he would stay with a woman my mother told me was very famous, named Velveteen, like the rabbit. I was told that men paid lots of money to spend time with Velveteen, but that “Uncle Mike was so charming that he got to be with her for free. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, except for my Mom. Where my mother then looked a lot like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, Velveteen had big blonde hair in giant curls. She wore silver eye shadow that sparkled and smelled like incense. She was wonderful. She would bounce me on her lap and tickle me. Then hand me off to my mother. I would wave goodnight to her over my mother’s shoulder and then be put to bed and told to try not to come out to the party. But, more often as not I would sneak back into the room and end up dancing in my pajama’s, on top of the piano. Later that night or morning my Mother would find me under the piano, or in a chair sound asleep.
I was raised to be hip, a real cool kitten. My father read me passages from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and Shelley with a little Byron thrown in. But, I was never taught multiplication, spelling, grammar or fractions. I suppose since they did not come as easily, they were set aside. Besides there were so many more important things to learn like, the phrasing of Frank Sinatra was important, that I’m OK and You’re Ok, unless you’re a square and then your not, was important. That some Mommy’s and Daddy’s don’t let there kids go to nightclubs to hear an old friend playing in town. And they don’t think it’s funny to let your kid go up to the bar and order, “a Shirley Temple, rocks back hold the cherries.” Poor fools that they were. I felt sorry for kids that were not hip to the jive. That didn’t know what a fin is or who Chet Baker was or how to make a martini for their parents.
But, I have to say that there were times, as I got older, that it was hard being an adult as a kid. But, I would not have traded it for anything. Can you dig it?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Brave New Writer



Dear friends,
You are all such good writers and storytellers that I often find myself frozen in place unable to write. I want things to be perfect and just right. So much so that I get in my own way and end up not writing at all. As my great friend Ana, at Truepenny has said, this will not do. I must throw myself into the fray and just write something everyday. Even if it may as that sentence just did, rhyme by accident. Sorry.
My lovely daughter Emma, who is both witty and wise, said that I must look at this as a sketchbook. Don’t be perfect; just get it on the page. So if you will all put up with my bad spelling and grammar I will try to be here more often. Not frozen, but warm. Writing and playing with all of you who are so brave and talented.

BHW

Monday, March 9, 2009

Warrior



Last night the flu finally was officially gone. I proclaimed myself well and took my daughter to go see The Watchmen. What’s that you say? Is Beverly a nerd? Well, in fact I am a bit of a nerd. A sexy, red headed diva of all that is smart, fun and not boring, nerd. I confess to loving Comic-…err…graphic novels, the first Matrix movie and yes, I am looking forward to the new Star Trek film.
That being said, one of my favorite things about going to the movies is watching the previews. I am sure that I eat most of my popcorn while in a daze of the hard sell adrenaline rush of each 3-5 minute concentrated clip of the latest action packed movie. Well, on this night before even the previews, this video played:
Man, I was pumped! I was ready to sign my daughter up! My wonderful, nature child. My garden loving, beautiful girl. Then it occurred to me that sending any soldiers to war was no longer the best solution. Sending this video is.
Now, I love my country. If I had to say in what direction my political leaning turned, I would happily confess to the left. But, keep in mind too that my husband served in the Air Force for ten years and I was right there with him. We traveled the globe and I did my part to be a good military wife. So, I understand that no solution is an easy one and I am proud of any one who would put them selves on the line for what they believe in.
But I wonder if putting our men and women in harms way is the best move anymore? I say lets just blind our enemies with American sunshine. Lets block their satellites and put all their TV channels on MTV or NASCAR. Only stopping for Coke advertisements, and superhero movies. Let us parachute in McDonald’s hamburgers; KFC fried chicken, chocolate bars, and Playstations!
I know that America is often seen as the arrogant, teenager of the world. That many of us couldn’t point to Europe on a map, never mind a specific country. We don’t always respect other people’s cultures, history, or opinions. We also voted in office, twice, a bumbling cowboy, who was probably a lot more fun in the days when he was drinking.
But, I also believe that America is the cool kid. The one you want to invite to the party, because if we don’t show up it’s not really a party, it’s a gathering. I mean come on; we invented rock and roll! We are loud and brash, but we know how to dance, and we want everyone to have a goodtime. We also want them to have a big car and a big highway and a Big Mac.
Have I become the neo-hippy? Make hamburgers not war? Is this a bad thing? I am a little scared that I can’t tell.

Peace Out!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Beverly and the plague



I am so sorry to have kept you all waiting but I was waylaid by the flu. I couldn't get through the fog to write part three of Bad Boyfriend. Heck I couldn't get through to even write another 12 word novel, never mind a 100 word one. But I seem to be on the mend now. So please dear friends put up with me for a few more days and I promise to bring you the goods. Besides I better get that body in the ground soon or things are going to get nasty!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Dark Corner in 100 Words



It stood in the dark corner unmoving. Although I could not see, I knew that it was there. The weight of its' presence. That familiar feeling of dread with the stillness of the air. It did not move or blink an eye, but what horror if it did. I sat frozen in my bed, bound by fear. What did it want from me? Was it my soul? Did it thirst for my life’s blood or think with it’s insect mind waiting to react only to it's need.
The dawn could not come fast enough. If it came at all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Twelve Word Challenge



My good friend Ana has put forth a challenge at her blog Truepenny. As she explained NPR put out a contest two years ago to see who could write the best novel in 12 words. Hers are really good. So I am taking up the gauntlet and trying my hand at the super short story. I double dare you to try it too!

Ennui killed her spirit, Absinthe distilled her mind. Defenestration finished the job.

She loved his face, but hated his mind, while admiring his wallet.

The dragon landed with a pounce. Talons pierced the evil king. Hooray!

Gerry ate too much steak. He swore an oath to be vegan.

Chinese incense filled her senses. Sneezing fits followed. Then the dreams came.

Dinosaurs never learned to play chess. The end came quickly after that.

Overcome with passion she forgot her shoes. And she did not care.

The wolf’s eyes glowed. He smelled warm blood. Hunger was All.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bad Boyfriend: Part Two


Deb stared out the kitchen window into the rain and smoked her cigarette slowly. She was calm. She inhaled the smoke deeply into her lungs, letting the nicotine seep into her blood stream. She really hated cigarettes, but she just loved smoking. Jack’s El Camino sat dimly lit by the street lamp a few feet away. It wasn’t really a car anymore thought Deb. It was a dark red sarcophagus slick with rain and patched with Bondo.
Leslie came up behind Deb and looked out over Deb shoulder.
“I’ve found another old rain coat in the basement.”
“Good, did you pull down the plastic shower curtain insert?”
“Yes, I’ve done it.”
“Good, I’ll go the drugstore first thing in the morning and buy a new one. That way no one will see you buy it.”
“ Yes, I suppose spreading out our movements is a good idea.”
Leslie poured another glass of red wine and sat down at the kitchenette with the old raincoat over her lap. She took a large swallow and numbly said, “You don’t have to do this. You’ve already done too much. You should walk away right now and go home. You’re my friend and I don’t want any of this to touch you. She chuckled humorlessly. “Not that it hasn’t already. You’ve cleaned up blood off my floor and even put the stained towels in the washing machine. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if you add fabric softener. Deb, for God’s sake go home. What I am planning to do is crazy and has a very good chance of not working.
“ Yes, that’s true Leslie. That’s why I not going to let you do this alone. It will take at least both our smarts to pull this off. Besides, I can’t go home, wait and do nothing. This is Emily’s future we are talking about. I’ve known her since she was a baby. She calls me Aunt Deb. She pressed the butt of her cigarette firmly into the ashtray. Her knuckles flashed white for a moment has she held it there under her fingers. “I always thought that Jack was a loser. A dim, bastard with no future and a good haircut.” She dropped the cigarette butt and slapped her hands together. “He was keeping her down and then he dared to hurt her. Now, lets go put him under a large rock.”
It was very quiet. The lights of the surrounding houses were turned out for the night. All except for old lady Roberts house. She had left her bedroom TV on again. The electric blue light flickered from her second story window. Other then that there were no signs of life. The two of them stood on the porch dressed in gardening boots and the musty old raincoats.
“Alright. I’ll get the shovels. You meet me between our houses with the wheelbarrow,” said Leslie.
“Ok. I’ll be right back.” With that Deb was gone. Leslie was alone in the rain. This is wrong she thought. If there was a way to force Deb out of this she couldn’t think of it. Maybe later they’ll be a way to protect her too.
It then occurred to her that she wasn’t scared. She wasn’t nervous. Shouldn’t she be? Her mind should be racing, she imagined, but it was oddly clear. As she walked toward the tool shed in the back of the house she saw the job at hand laid out before her like the recipe for a cake. It seemed that all she would need would be the right ingredients and the proper order in which to use them. I am sure this must be just what every smartass criminal thinks. I am smarter then everyone else. I can get away with this.
She began unhooking the wet, rusted padlock, the one that they never bothered to lock. No, she thought, I am not that clever. I am just desperate.
Leslie hated reaching into the old shed on bright sunny days. It was so often cobwebbed and full she was certain with spiders. That was why she had always left most of the gardening tools just inside the sheds door. Her gardening gloves should be hung on the hook just above them. She reached in and tried not to touch the walls of the shed itself. She closed her eyes, even as she already stood there in the dark unable to see. Even on the sunniest of days she closed her eyes instinctively. Better not to look. Just grab the gloves and the shovels and get the heck out. She reached in and felt the smooth wood of the old shovel and grabbed it. Ok, that’s one. Good. She reached in and grabbed for the second shovel. It should be right there next to the metal rake. She grabbed it for a moment to check its weight. Yup, metal handle, light and as she shook it she heard the tines of the rake twang together. She put it back down and reached deeper into the shed for the next wooden handle.
A drop of icy cold rainwater fell between the cracks of the shed roof and on to Leslie’s wrist. The memory came to her instantly and she frozen.
She must have been five, maybe six years old. She could not have been much younger or her mother and grandmother would never have allowed her to go to the stable alone. It was a warm beautiful day and she had been given her first chore to do all by herself. She was to open the stable door. Not the door for the horses, because that one was too big for her to open alone. Just the people size door. She would then fill the old coffee can that she would find on a large wooden chest and take a big scoop of birdseed out and bring it to her Mom and Grandmother and together they would fill the birdfeeders. It was going to be her job. Her responsibility while Mommy and her were visiting her grandparents. The stable was a fun place even if the horse was long gone. It had been her mommy’s horse and she had never seen it herself. Only old black and white pictures. But it did still, have real cowboy spurs hanging on the wall and a saddle you could sit on that was perched on a old beam of wood. It also had an old privy in it and Leslie had look down deep into its hole. She knew she was never going to dare sit on it though. Cause she was sure, she just knew there would be spiders. No matter how bad she had to go, she knew she could never sit there, with her panties off and spiders tickling her bum. But she was gonna look down that hole again. She could do that. That was scary enough. Leslie turned the handle of the stable door and pushed against it hard, because it almost always stuck grandma had said. The apple size wasp nest fell from overhead and hit her, first on the wrist, and then landed at her feet. It had surprised her. It weighed no more then a ball of the yellow lined paper she sometimes used to draw on. She looked down at her feet. There between her sneakers was the brown fascinating nest. She started to take a step back. To look at it better? A black haze swirled out of that paper ball and wrapped around her ankles. The vapor then turned darker and seemed to break apart into individual black dots. Then the pain came. The brush of a wing, the soft brush of fur? And then the fine unseen prick of a pin. And then ten pins stabbed at her. Then what felt like a hundred were whirling up her legs, under her dress and on her eyelid. They were in her hair when she managed to scream.
Leslie opened her eyes and she was standing in the rain. She had not thought about that day since she was a kid. She took a deep breath, shrugged her shoulders and rolled her neck. This was not that day she thought. She reached into the shed and with one motion grabbed the second shovel and the gardening gloves.
“Get your shit together Leslie,” she said aloud and slammed the shed door closed. There standing behind where the shed door had been was the outline of a person wearing a shiny, wet poncho. Leslie muffled a scream with her hand. The other person did not muffle hers, which was quick and followed by a nervous laugh.
“What shit Leslie?”
“ Eva! ...Shit! ...What are you doing out here? You scared me to death!’
There standing in front of me was my other neighbor and friend. A very pregnant, short brunet. So what are we up to? I’m bored. I just had to get out of the house.
“Boy, are you going to wish you hadn’t.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Very Short Story



They continued to drive through Texas. With the air conditioner broken they avoided thinking about the heat by singing along with the radio. The bank they had robbed was two hundred miles away, but Cindy and Biff, still couldn’t believe they had gotten away with it. It kept escaping their memory. For a moment, it was just another search for the next Dairy Queen, not for a way out of Texas, the heat and the lack of obtainable dreams.
An armadillo crossed the highway. He was not afraid.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bad Boyfriend


When Emily walked into the house I knew right away something was terribly wrong. It was obvious that she had been crying. But I had never seen that look of fear on her face before. She had scanned the room quickly to catch my eye and then slipped into her room.
It had been my week to have our book club over and even with the lateness of the hour not all of the ladies had gone home. I quickly finished pouring Mary a second glass of wine and looked at Deb across the room. Yes, she too had seen Emily come in.
“Leslie let me help you serve that cake. You know it’s the real reason we come to club anyway. Forget the damn book, let’s get that cake out here.” Deb said for the benefit of the room. With one hand on my shoulder she steered me into the kitchen. Quick, I’ll see to the cake, you go get in there and see what’s up with Emily. “You’re the best, I said in a low voice and followed my daughter to her room.
There sitting rigid on the edge of her bed was my eldest daughter. A slip of a girl that belied her eighteen years of aged. Right now, with her hair done up in a messy ponytail and puffy tear stain face she at first looked the same to me as she had years ago. Like when she had fallen on the playground or been frightened by a bee, a problem solved easily with a hug and a kiss, perhaps a Band-Aid for good measure. But no this was much worse. Emily was very pale. Her hands were clenched tightly into fists. And then I saw that her white sneakers were covered in blood.
I ran over and knelt next to her. “Baby, baby what happened! Are you all right? I grabbed at her. Wrapping her up in my arms bending her stiff body down to me. Forcing her to be held. “ Tell me what happened so I can help you.”
“I killed Jack, Mom. He’s outside in the car.” She had said this without emotion. As if she were telling me where she had put the remote to the TV. “ I… I think I want to take a shower now and go to bed.” She started to stand and kick off her shoes, but the shoe slipped in the blood against the other. She stumbled a little. “ No darling, not yet, here let me help you,” as I pushed her back down. And reached for her shoes. “I’ll do that, you just, relax and try to tell Mommy what happened.” As I pulled off one sticky shoe and then the other, Emily took a long slow breath, and began.
“I told him I wanted to take a break…you know just for a while. I mean we’re graduating this year…it would be good for us to get used to being on our own. He got so quite, Mom. Then he hit me. He grabbed my neck and said I could, go…he called me awful things…I think he was going to kill me; he never looked like that before. His eyes were crazy. The way they moved in his head… like it wasn’t me he was seeing anymore. He just kept squeezing my neck. I don’t know exactly how I found it,” she said emotionlessly. It just was in my hand suddenly. His screwdriver. The one he keeps in the center console to fix the glove compartment when it pops open. I just wanted him to stop hurting me. I hit his head. He stopped and fell forward. It was then that I saw it sticking in him. Mommy, I pulled it out. I thought I could fix it. Isn’t that crazy? I thought he would wake up if I pulled it out of him. When I reached over and grabbed the handle …it was just blood. Pouring out …running down his face…on the floor and my feet.”
It’s ok, baby, I’ll take care of your shoes. Here, you lie down and rest.” I bundled her in her white quilt. Rest here now and wait for Mommy. I’ll take care of everything. I left her light on. Then closed the door and took the shoes with me down the hall.
Water from the faucet washed over Emily’s sneakers over flowing them and sending a river of pink and dirty water down the drain of the tub. The blood was almost completely cleaned away when there was a knock on the bathroom door.
I shut off the water. “Ah, just a minute I’m almost done.” I’ll tell them it’s mud Emily tracked in. We’ve had so much rain that’ll work. I’ll complain about how irresponsible teenagers are. I’ll gripe and complain and even act embarrassed.
“Leslie, it’s me. Deb’s voice was low and conspiratorial. She opened the door. In her hands was a bath towel covered in blood. “She left tracks in the hallway. No one saw me. You take care of this, I’ll get rid of the stragglers.”
“What are you gonna tell them?”
“ Emily’s sick, with a fever. Maybe they’ll think she’s drunk. Let them; think the worst, so long as they go home. Then we can think about what to do next.”
“ I know what I’m going to do.”
“What’s that?”
“ I am going to dig a very big whole.”
“ Alright then Leslie, I’m going to move his car. I’ll meet you in the back yard.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Migraine



It falls like a ball from the center of the sun.
Curving fast round the corner, weightless and on target right through the center of my third eye.
It burns white and flashes bright with a purple hue and nests in the back at the top of my spine.
That’s when the world starts to glow ultra-violet with heat rather then light.
Then comes the pain.
Constant, humming…hum, hum.

You take the white pill, three times now. When one would have worked,
how long ago?
Crawling for a dark place and waiting for the angels to come
Seeing only flashing white wings.
But the warm flows like honey over the pain, over the light and the wings drip with it.
When the sun fades to an ember it fades darker to black.

You catch your breath with your fists from a sleep too deep.
But you want your honey back and you’ve grown afraid of the sun

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2016

Slough



Hi gang.
I was writing a new short story for this site,but I am just taking to darned long to do it. Then last night I saw Ricky Gervise, On The Actors Studio and he quoted this poem written about the town that the original, The Office was set in. I thought it was a great poem about a town that was becoming more industrial and less a place to live and thrive. I would share it with you.

Slough

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!
Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

by
John Betjeman

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Emo Austen Style

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

And now for something silly...

The Peony Lantern: The Finale


The old man had to get Ogwara out of this house and into the sunlight. He turned to look behind him to see that the house had returned to it’s proper self. Perhaps the demon ghost can only work its illusions at night? He thought. Slowly he got to his feet and circled the futon. Taking care to stay as far away from the vile luxurious bed as the room would allow. He looked quickly over to her handmaiden sitting between him and the shoji screen wall. She too sat still and rotting just as her mistress did. If I can break through this wall it would allow even more sunlight to enter the room. That should keep these demons still until I can get Ogwara from the house. Perhaps I can make a hole large enough to get both of us out of the room. From this direction it should be possible to cross the garden and take the samurai to my home.
The old man began to push against the rice paper walls, at first breaking each individual square of paper. With each hole he made in the paper, the morning sun would pour into the room. Then he set about kicking through the thin wooden lattice that held the paper in place, until he had made a space large enough for him and the samurai. He then turned to the bed. With his bare feet he kicked at the bones of the woman. Knocking then further away with each kick from Ogwara. The old man almost panicked as her hair caught between his toes. Or when he saw that his foot was becoming more wet and sticky from some unseen goo, as he kicked his master free of her embrace.
Finally when her bones lay in a beam of sunlight across the room, the old man bent down to Ogwara’s ear and said, ”Master it is I your friend and humble servant, you must leave with me now or you will die. I am going to try to lift you, but you must help me if you can. You remember how old your friend is so please help me lift you Ogwara-san.”
Ogwara said in the quietest of whispers, “Where is she? My moonlight love. Has she gone to make one of her wonderful meals? You know my friend, I could stay here forever eating with her, and making love. Did I tell you she sings to me as well? Such beautiful songs.
The old man tried to lift the samurai who was emaciated, had certainly not eaten any wonderful meals in a long time. He did not want to imagine what those meals might have been if not an illusion. All he knew for certain he was that the Ogwara was close to starving to death yet he did not have the strength to move him with out the samurai’s help.
The old man whispered in his ear,” Ogwara-san, Your love has gone to the market to buy food for your next meal. My wife would like you to come to our home so that you might pick out the fabric for a new kimono my wife would like to make your lady. Would you not like to give her a present after all she has given you? You do not want to appear to be a selfish lover, and you have always said what a fine seamstress my wife is. Think of how pleased she would be after receiving such a beautiful gift?”
The samurai nodded and leered “yesss, so grateful,” he said slowly, as if they were sharing a dirty joke. This man is not my master. I must get him free of this house if I am to save him at all, the old man thought.
“Come let us go now Ogwara-san, one, two, three. Up.” The old man took most of the weight, but with a little help from the samurai he managed to steer him along. Luckily Ogwara did not see the bones of his love in a heap in the corner. He did not seem to notice that they were leaving by a new hole in his shoji screen wall either. The old man did not think Ogwara knew where he was at all, until he turned to the handmaiden in the corner. “Now you wait here my little Kimiko, and perhaps I will bring you back a present too. Ogwara then smiled and blew a kiss to the skeletal girl. The old man now rushed toward to hole and sunlight. He looked over his shoulder at the handmaiden one last time before pushing his master through the opening. The handmaid slowly turned her head, and bowed.
The old man got the samurai halfway across the garden when he collapsed. His wife saw them from her window and came running to help him. Together they brought Ogwara into their home. First they spoon-fed him some broth and they bathed him, and then wrapped him in a deep blue kimono. They then tried feeding him some plain rice. When they where certain he had received some nourishment they let him sleep. The old man headed to the Buddhist temple to ask them advice on how to save Ogwara. His wife sat by the samurai’s side quietly saying prayers.

When the old man returned an hour later he brought with him a white linen bag and a jug of sake. He called his wife to join him in the next room while Ogwara slept. He opened the bag and shook out dozens of rectangular pieces of paper each wrapped with fine red twine. On each of these was a prayer of protection.
“Wife, we must place these Ofuda in every room of our house and at every door way and window.” Then, he reached into a larger pack for a roll of bundled rice paper. “ With this we must write the prayer to the Buddha, repeated over and over again. With this we must cover every crack and hole in the wall of our home. Everywhere light can come in to the house must be covered. Do you understand?”
“Yes, husband. How can we accomplish such a thing in one day? And how do you know that she will know to come here?”
“ First wife we have two days. Today we keep him drunk and feed him when we can. This should keep him sleeping, but his thoughts confused. It will make him harder for her to find him, said the old man holding up the jug of sake. ”The priests say that this is a desperate and lonely spirit. She will not give up easily.”
“How do you know she will not wait for him at his own house?”
“Because I am going to burn the unclean thing down”

The Priests had been right. When the old man looked back into the hole he had made in Ogwara’s wall, the bones were gone. They said that they would most likely return to their own graves without a companion here. But he could tell that the ghosts did linger here in their own way. There was that smell in the air, fainter, but still present of flowers that had stayed indoors too long. Yes, forgotten flowers rotting in stale water. The old man took one last look at the fine house he had helped to build. He then set a fire at each corner of the house waited to make sure that it would catch. He then walked home. There was much work to be done yet.

On the evening of the second day their house was finished. The couple had done as the priests instructed sealing the small house in the Buddha's prayer. The words, I trust in the light of the Buddha, repeated again and again around each wall and window. From every corner hung the Ofuda caring it’s spell of protection. The old man and his wife were exhausted. Ogwara had remained drunk, but was happy to eat more as the hours passed. Today they gave him tea instead of wine, so that they might explain what had happened and what he must now do.
Ogwara sat before them mortified that he had behaved so badly and that he had been so easily seduced. “I do not deserve to have such good friends as you.” Ogwara said. “I have been foolish and weak.”
“No Ogwara-san, You were not in your right mind, you were a victim of this demon ghost. Now is what is important. You must show your strength and be ready to turn her away one last time.” The old man looked into Ogwara’s eyes and in them for the first time he saw fear. “ Now listen to me, she may, if she truly wants you for her companion come tonight, with her maid. She cannot come in, but you Ogwara-san must not go out either. If you slide open any of our humble screens she can guide you out and you will be lost. However if you defy her tonight she will never return. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, I do.” The samurai steadied himself. “After all she was once just a woman. Now that she can travel at will between two worlds does not make her the master of me. It is a trick that I now know how to foil.”
“ Would you like my wife and I to stay up with you? We would be happy to keep you company.”
“ No friend, I must face her alone if I am to know that it is I that have defeated her and not the courage of my companions.”
Ogwara sat sipping tea in the darkened room and staring at the shoji screen door. As he waited he thought about his life. He thought about all that he had accomplished, his lovely wife, his friends and his country and his place in it. He had lived just as he should have, was rewarded with wealth and rank, and a beautiful bride. But now what did he have? Only his honor. He would be strong tonight. He would start a new life tonight. He would have new adventures, after he had defeated this ghost.
It was then that Ogwara thought he heard singing. It sounded as though it was coming from the direction of his home. The samurai froze. Had he really herd it? It was quite now. Then the samurai saw a soft glow shining through the rice paper. It was still small and at some distance, but it rocked gently back and forth as it came closer. Then the singing began again and it was just out side his door. The silhouette of the lady’s outline was clear. She knelt just outside his door and continued her song. The lantern grew closer and its glow warmed the light in the samurai’s room. Ogwara knelt on his side of the shojiscreen door and listened until her song ended. He saw the outline of her hand as she placed it on the rice paper screen. He placed his against hers with only the paper between them. He felt the warmth of her hand. It’s pressure against his. He took a deep breath. And he opened the door.
In the morning the old man and his wife went to the cemetery to look for the lady’s grave. They found a very old abandoned shrine of a fine lady’s. Half buried in the earth was the samurai's deep blue kimono.



From Wikipedia: Botan Dōrō (牡丹燈籠) is a Japanese ghost story that is both romantic and horrific; it involves sex with the dead and the consequences of loving a ghost.
It is sometimes known as Kaidan Botan Dōrō, based on the kabuki version of the story. Most commonly translated as Tales of the Peony Lantern, it is one of the most famous kaidan in Japan.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Peony Lantern Part 2



The front entrance was warped and bulged at the black wrought iron hinges. The heavy oak door was not locked. It opened silently, which was wrong, thought the old man. A door so bent out of shape such as this one should creek and moan at the touch. It should fight not to be opened. No this door wanted me to come inside. He pushed the door opened wide and looked down the long narrow hallway ahead.
“ I will not be fearful, I will not be fearful, I will not be fearful”, he chanted to himself, but it began to sound like the babbling of a madman to his ears, so he stopped. Taking a large breath the old man said a silent prayer. He took off his shoes and stepped over the threshold. The house felt warm inside. Not unpleasantly so, but warmer by degrees then it was just outside the still open door. There was an odor here as well. A feminine smell, a perfume perhaps, mixed with something else that the old man could not name.
The hallway was before him and it seemed to him much longer in just the moonlight than he had remembered but he knew that it ran the length of the house, with entrances to all four rooms downstairs. At the end he should find a small staircase leading to two more rooms upstairs. But he should not need to go that far. The glow was coming from the first room. He felt his way with one hand along the wood paneled wall. He held the other hand out in front of him to ward off the unseen wall, or piece of furnture. He would not allow himself to think of what else that hand might brush against in the dark. Would it be that soft silken something that perfumed the house? He began to think of his wife when they were first married. In those days they could not bear to be separated from one another for even a few moments. When after making love she would lay on her stomach with her long hair flowing down her back like a river in the snow. She was never lovelier to him then.
The hallway suddenly turned sharply left and became very narrow. The old man did not remember a turn of any kind. He placed both hands along the walls and walked forward. “ Have I forgotten this… can it be that I am lost? Soon the old man had to turn sideways to continue forward, placing his bare feet side by side to take a shuffled step to move forward.
perhaps he should not go on he thought. The walls were feeling too warm to his touch and seemed to be getting warmer. Or was it the air was hotter. Or was it simply running out all together. The old man turned to leave feeling that he could take no more. His wife would forgive him, he would forgive himself. But it was then that he saw that there was no hallway behind him anymore. Only the same wood paneled wall that he felt on the other three. His mouth flashed with the taste of metal, and his legs felt like they might give out. He rested his forehead against the warm wall in front of him. The wall almost seemed to give under the pressure of his head. The old man then pressed his hands against the wall and they did indeed give in to the push of his fingers. He stood as far back as the cramped space would allow. These walls were no longer walls, but some kind of living skin that moved and breathed. That underlining odor that the old man could not at first name was now the very pungent smell of sweat and decay.
He panicked. Trapped between the walls of this thing. His mind raced. The blood rushed in his ears and he was certain that his heart would explode in his chest. Then what if he did not die but was instead trapped for an eternity within the walls of this house, just as the samurai must have been? Then the old man thought if he could just breathe. One full breath. And so the old man did. He followed that by another, then another and tried to calm himself just enough to think. He was a good and just man. Evil was chaos. If he was thoughtful and present of mind he could over come this thing. Breath.
“I have two choices', he thought quickly to himself. "I can wait here and be swallowed up whole, or I can go forward. The first may be cowardness or an act of defiance to stay and play a waiting game. It just may be that this demon wants to lead me down this path to aid it in some plot to more evil doings.” In the end the old man decided that he could not bear to wait in that small space, that it would be better to act and move forward in the hopes that he would have the opportunity to fight better ahead.
The old man resolved to keep moving forward. At one point he was forced to hunch his shoulders in and duck his head to make it through the ever-shrinking passage.
When the hallway then became almost too small he thought he might have to give up and let the house win after all, he saw in front of him for a moment, the glow of a lantern. He moved forward like a withered spider until he saw a glimpse of that light again. Finally he pushed his way forward through the impossibly narrow end of the room with such force that he fell onto the floor of the hallway as it had always been. The way the old man had remembered building it. Moonlight shone through the shoji screen windows all around him. Except for the room in front of him. That was the Samurai’s room. From it emitted an warm orange glow from a lantern of some kind. The old man picked himself up from the floor. He stood out side the door and listened.
Within the room he could hear the soft moans of a man. But it was obvious that these were not sounds of pain. They were followed by his gentle laughter and whispered talking. The old man waited. Soon the sounds of the mans love making became louder. And then he was silent. The old man saw the morning sun begin to light the shoji screen windows and that was when he made his move to enter the room.
Slowly the old man pulled back the screen door and looked into the room. His mouth hung open as he dropped to his knees.
There on his futon lay the once great samurai now half starved lying naked in the loving embrace of a moldering skeleton. It’s long black tangled hair wrapped around the warrior’s fingers and still attached in places to its putrefied skull. There in the corner patiently sat another skeleton wrapped in a simple peach colored kimono. Still holding a bamboo rod with a brightly painted peony lantern attached.

Coming Part 3 The End of The Peony Lantern

Friday, January 2, 2009



Tale Of the Peony Lantern
Part 1

The great samurai Ogwara had not left his home for a year. Not since his wife had died. He could see no reason to. Everything in the world had lost its color. All food had lost its flavor. And for him it was always a winter without snow. Ogwara spent his days existing, simply waiting for the days of his life to be finished. He moved from room to room in his large house unable to sleep, to read or to eat. He could no longer concentrate on things. He no longer cared to do anything, but wait for another day to pass.

Ogwara’s neighbors was a very old man. He had admired the samurai’s since he had first known Ogwara as a young man and had been one of the master carpenters to build his home. The samurai had been a man of great and noble bearing in his youth. Fearless and honorable in all things. Ogwara service to the Emperor had been rewarded and his generosity had been well known throughout the village. It had sadden and embarrassed the old man to see the now emaciated form of the once great samurai as he walked mindlessly through his garden, talking to himself. Late at night when the old man was forced to get up again to relieve him self, as he now so often must. Through his window he would often see a glow from Ogwara’s lantern through the shoji screen walls of the samurai house as he paced from room to room. The old man would go back to his bed and curl up to his wife’s frail old body. Glad that she was still with him. He said a quick prayer that she would not leave him alone first.

The moon was very bright. It was distractingly so. The moon was hurting Ogwara's eyes. He tried to ignore it. But the moon would not be ignored, it’s light kept boring into his eye. He would have to rise and close the shoji screen against it. He was just so tired. How was it possible for the moon to be this bright? Why couldn’t he be left alone? As he did approached the door, a warm soft gust of wind brushed his face. The cherry blossoms swayed in the garden and for a moment the garden once again looked beautiful. In the moonlight he could see the pinks of the petals and the greens of the leaves. He thought he heard a woman humming a song and then, just as quickly it was gone. The world was grey and lifeless again. Like a starving man Ogwara ran out into the garden. And stared at the moon. It was wrong. Everything was very wrong. Suddenly Ogwara was frightened. For a moment he wasn’t sure of his footing. He was light headed.
He had just gotten up too quickly. That was it. When was the last time he had eaten? He was a fool chasing shadows. Afraid of the moon. Well, why not, he supposed, He had lived on little more then boiled rice and wine for at least a week now. The wind picked up again. It was warm, and wrapping around him. Brushing against his skin, gently moving his hair. Ogwara sat on the stonewall of his garden and took a long slow breath. He relaxed his shoulders. The moon was indeed very bright, but why was that something to be afraid of? It gave a strange light to the garden, but not unpleasant one. The colors of the cheery trees could be seen faintly as his eyes adjusted to the night. The warm breeze carried the scent of many of the flowers in the air without being cloying. Ogwara began to feel more peaceful then he had in months. He suddenly knew that his wife was at rest. He felt certain that that everything was just as it should be. He began making plans for repair to the stables and hiring men to rethatch the roof, when out of the corner of his eye he saw the glow of a lantern coming down the street toward him. Who would be out this late he wondered. As it got closer he saw that it was two women. A servant carrying a large paper lantern decorated with peonies. Next to her a very beautiful woman who was singing the song that Ogwara had heard earlier that night. What was any woman doing out at this hour. Especially one of this woman’s apparent rank. Certainly she would be an easy victim for any thieves.
Ogwara stood and quickly ran his fingers through his hair and straighten his kimono as the pair drew closer. The women smiled shyly at Ogwara and came to a stop closer to him then he had expected. Her eyes were warm and dark brown. Her skin pale, but not made up the way a woman’s face would normally be for one so formally dressed. Her black shiny hair was pinned up in an elegant bun, but a tendril had come lose and curled slightly around her ear. The Lady’s servant faded into the background and was quickly forgotten by both of them. Ogwara bowed to the lady. The lady did not return the greeting. Instead she held out her hand and led Ogwara back into his home. The servant followed holding the lantern high to light their way.

A few weeks later the old man was staring out his window looking out at Ogwara house. His worry was beginning to gnaw at him. It was not his place to meddle in the samurai’s business, but he knew something was very wrong. He had not seen Ogwara in many days and at night he no longer saw the light from his lamp moving from room to room as the man grieved for his wife. Now the house stood dark until very late into the night. And then a light would be lit in one room. The same room every night. In the dawn there would be no sign of life again until late the next night. The old man knew it was his duty to do something. But he worried how to approach the samurai without insulting the mans dignity. Both their honor was at stake. How was it he thought that a man could live such a long life and still find himself so mystified as to how to go about things just the right way. It was then that the old man’s wife shuffled over to his side. She looked out of the window with him.
“I know what you are thinking my love. You are right something must be done.”
“Yes, but how is it to be done is the problem.”
“Perhaps husband, you should see for yourself just what the problem is first. Why not go quietly into the house at night after the lantern is lit and see with your own eyes what is happening. Then you will know if you suspicions have merit.” If not then you can quickly leave the house and leave Ogwara to himself. But if as you fear something has happened to the good Samurai then you will be able to face him with the truth, and then you will truly have a chance to help him.”
“What if I am caught wife? He might take me for a robber. Or something worse. “the old man said his eyes growing wide with fear.
“ Do not be foolish. The man knows you. He has for many years. You may say that you thought you smelled a fire, or perhaps you thought you saw robbers yourself. It is that or do nothing and husband I do not think you can do that. Don’t worry you old fool, it is one of the many reasons I love you,” she said as she hugged him. As he held her small fragile frame he knew she was right, and that tonight he would have to steal his way into Ogwara’s house if he was to put his worrying to rest.

The old man stood in Ogwara’s garden staring at the glow passing through the shoji screens of the house. There was nothing about the light itself that was unusual. It’s just that the rest of the house was always now so dark and still. To the old man, it was a house that was empty except for that one light. And when that light was gone it was a house in which no one lived. How could a thing look so empty and at the same time look some how bigger, thought the old man. It no longer looks like the house he had helped to build. . The angles on the roof were no longer plumb. This was not a house for thoughts of serenity and beauty. This was a place that felt very much alive. The house looked almost bloated like a fat tick. It’s wall slightly bowed out. It sat lurched forward on its foundation as if it would topple forward at any moment collapsing under it’s own weight. Imploding a wall of blood and bone, and what ever else it had sucked out of the life of its victims. It would be a tsunami of horrors that would wipe away himself, his home, and his wife completely from the earth.
The old man now felt quite certain that the master of this house was no longer of this world. Perhaps there was a chance that the samurai was still alive within it’s walls. It was his duty to try to save him. The old man looked at his hands shaking with fear, and gnarled with arthritis. Would he be strong enough to face what was inside? This house had become a place that was wrong. It was not sane. It was a place that was empty of reason and feeling. This was a house that wanted to keep what it had.