Just when you thought fairytales were all out of face-lifts along comes Cinder.

🙂  Yeah, the television tubes have been flooded with retakes and remakes of fairytale galore in recent seasons. It’s been virtual Grimm’s gag-fest galore. Some results have been gleefully giddy good Grimm fun galore and others have been romantic soap operas deluxe.  Have you been suitably chastised about the perils of talking to strangers, wandering off in the woods, and greedy beanstalks? Some of us are awaiting the return of the modern Grimm Reapers complete with popcorn couch parties in the works.

Just when the market seems saturated with all kinds of re-workings of cautionary and sleeping beauty tales along comes the ultimate Cinder-rella—a glorious human-cyborg teenage girl with attitude, smarts and guts like none other. She lives in New Beijing with her wicked stepmother and sisters. With a few twists of her screwdrivers she can replace an outgrown metal foot or carve her name into the heart of the sort of charming pin-up poster Prince Kai. But before there will be any hot kissy faces there’s a plague to fight, an evil auntie to dethrone, a mystery or two to unravel and friends to make along the way.

Oh the glories of teen fiction. 🙂

Marissa Meyer’s young adult spin gives the Cinderella story an overhaul like none other and I love it. The thing about writing for young adults is that you can’t miss a beat and expect your audience to stick along waiting for you to get back on board with the fun and games. Meyer’s never missteps in Cinder or in the other tomes that continue the story. Scarlet–Little Red Riding Hood has never been so full of piss and vinegar –and partial to the Big Bad-ass Wolf.  Going where Grandma has gone is a tad more risky than a walk in the woods, but that doesn’t stop single-minded Scarlet from going hunting with Wolf watching her back-side. And then there’s Cress—ha, this Rapunzel is a computer genius with her fingertips on the pulse of the universe. Big Brother move over cause little sis has things to do and secrets to secret for her own escape agenda.  Disney never will top this rendition of the long tressed girl in a tower. No way. Ever see a blind man rescue his lady in waiting? The brash, vain Captain  Carswell Thorne doesn’t let anything keep him down –ever. So he’s been blinded by crash landing into the Sahara–who cares? Crsss is MIA and he’s going after her –cane and overly ethical escort droid in hand.

Ahhhh three books are ready for reading NOW–and Winter is coming in 2015.  Snow White is clearly some kind of head case with teen angst to spare.  I don’t suggest leaving out any bread crumbs or candy–this crew is  too hungry for love and life to go backwards –ever.

Marissa Meyer ~ > http://www.marissameyer.com/books/

Go on, visit the cool author site.

It’s tricks and treats for everyone who craves some reading FUN.

Breakfast Special, #47, “Flipping Switches”

Flipping Switches

“Oh it got something to do with them and Lily all right.” Anton took a few steps backwards to get out of Sarge’s immediate reach in case he pushed the wrong buttons and riled him up while trying to discuss an issue that needed to be addressed immediately in light of what he and Esther had just witnessed. “Now we go back to what we set on the side. You dancing the way you did with Lily was like turning on a whole lot of light switches at the same time like we did today to check the rewiring at Percy Two’s place. Only it turned on a bunch of women instead of light bulbs. Probably more than a few men in that bunch too, truth be told. You read that action?”

Sarge frowned at Anton and shook his head. “No way. I have never had anything like that happen before. Never after dancing with a woman in public. Not once. Not ever.” He pushed away from the wall and stood up straight, facing off with a clearly disbelieving Anton. “I am not bullshitting you, Anton. That sort of thing has never happened to me any other time.”

Anton read the other man’s body language as an effort to assert his honesty rather than an attempt to physically intimidate him into backing down. Considering this and recalling their private conversation on the roof, he took his time deciding what might be the most effective route of communication. “When was the last time you danced in public with a woman, Sarge? Huh? How long it been?”

Sarge shrugged and took his time answering. “I don’t know exactly. Sometime in the spring. I met up with a group of people from Max’s store going out for a night together. I had a good time with a couple of the ladies who were willing to step out on the floor. It didn’t score me any action. But I wasn’t looking to score any action anyway, so it was all good. I certainly didn’t get any other women coming onto me afterwards.” He looked down the hall to where Lily and Esther remained talking close together. “Christ, I hope it doesn’t piss Lily off.”

“Fact you did not leave her hanging in the wind back there, Anton don’t think Lily get bent out of shape with you. After she get a full list of who and who from Esther, well, Anton not putting any money in the betting bank on who she do get bent with first.”

“Ahh I don’t want her getting into it with anybody on my account.” Sarge started moving towards Lily until Anton lightly put a hand on his shoulder.

“Lesson regarding Esther and Lily, let them talk it out. Otherwise you get them both coming at you at the same time. That a definite no win scenario, Sarge. Hang back. Don’t worry, Esther keep Lily from acting out if need be. How about we talk some more?”

Sarge hesitated, watched the two women for a few moments than stepped back to stand next to Anton. “I don’t want her thinking I was feeding her a line of bs last night when I came clean about all the women in that damn book.”

“How’d you pump up to do that?”

“I didn’t. It just seemed logical and right considering she decided to give me a chance. I didn’t want her getting blindsided at some point and giving me the boot for not being up front from the get go.”

“We working together all afternoon and evening and you neglected to mention that tiny piece of significant intel, Sarge. Is that any way to build up trust?”

“No offence intended, Anton. I’m still getting used to the whole idea myself. Besides, with Little George in the dark mood he was in the whole time, it didn’t quite feel right to bring it up. But I told you now. It’s barely been a full twenty-four hours since she decided.”

“Ah ha. No harm done. No foul.” Anton held his tongue regarding what Lily had told him about her giving Sarge a chance all along. He glanced at the other man alongside him in the dimly lit hallway. “How all that talk about those women go down with Lily?”

“Not quite like I expected. But that was okay. She asked a lot of questions. Most of which I could answer and a few I couldn’t. Even though I was worn out by the time we finished, I felt good about talking it out with her. She didn’t, or hasn’t changed her mind yet, since I laid it out for her, so all in all I’m still feeling good.” He grimaced. “Except for what happened a little while ago. I mean, hell, it wasn’t like we were getting it on out there. If we had, that would make some sense, but you know damn well we weren’t.”

“Ah huh, if you say so.”

“Your tone implies a certain element of disbelief, my friend. Why is that?”

“You ever get it on with woman on a dance floor like you say, Sarge?”

Sarge began pushing his hair away from his face with his left hand. “It’s been a long time since I did that, but, yeah. It was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Not by a long shot. But yes I have.”

“Did the audience express their appreciation accordingly?”

Sarge crossed his arms and shrugged. “Depends on what you mean by accordingly, Anton. If one hell of a wild brawl counts as the audience expressing their appreciation of that dance, then yes they certainly did.”

“A brawl? Where that dance be? In a bar? You get it on with some pole dancing queen?”

“No.” Sarge gave him an indignant look that said he couldn’t believe Anton would even suggest such him doing such a thing.

“No?” Anton waited for more information. When it was clear that it was not forthcoming, he said, “You gonna make me pull that tale out of you, Sarge?”

“No.” Sarge adjusted his stance and bent downwards. After some further hesitation and a long look at Lily and Esther, he spoke quietly so his words wouldn’t carry towards the kitchen. “You know Reginald’s in M-?”

“Hmm. Way too proud of itself without just cause high dollar dinner and dance joint uptown is where Anton thinking.”

“Sounds about right. My brother Francis set me up with this really smart, gorgeous woman for a night out to celebrate his first wedding anniversary at Reginald’s. Only problem was she wouldn’t dance with me. I couldn’t get her out on the floor no way. No one else would get out there with me either. Not even Francis’ wife, Irene, who at that time was usually good for at least two dances, sometimes three depending on the music. That night the live band was hot and tight so I was going crazy with no dance partner. I said to hell with their drinking party and I grabbed a seat at the bar to scope out the place for a likely candidate. In almost no time I get a fix on a woman wearing down the guy she’s with on the floor. When he’s had enough, he leaves her stranded out there. I did not waste any time with formal introductions. I went out there and we faced off and went to town for about five numbers in a row. It was all good until tune number six when we both decide we like each other’s moves enough to turn up the heat for fun. It got hot and real fast. Her guy and his friends didn’t appreciate the show. Francis and Irene did not appreciate our behavior anymore than my dance partner’s guy. They all decided about the same time that they didn’t like me very much. Things got very out of hand. The damage tab was quite impressive. I couldn’t get back inside the place for six months. That really pissed me off because she, the woman I’d picked up for dancing, and her guy could. Considering it was him who blew his cork first and came at me, I didn’t think that was fair play at the time. It didn’t help my attitude that I really wanted to dance with her again and couldn’t.”

Anton considered this intel, glanced at Lily and Esther then shot a wary look at the kitchen entrance. “Ah ha. What about your date for the party? She shut you out too?”

Sarge shook his head. “Strange as it sounds, she did not. Right about the time things started winding down fight-wise, she makes a run right into the middle of the action and surprises the hell out of me by getting a grip on my belt. As I’ve had enough of the action at hand, I see no point in resisting, so I let her haul me out the back door and straight into a waiting cab.”

“No f’n way.”

“Yes way. Stranger yet, when we get to her place, she cranks the stereo and we dance until she decides it’s a good idea to alternate dancing with other things. She was a damn good dancer. I never understood why she wouldn’t dance with me in the first place at Reginald’s. We could have had a great time right from the start if she had.”

“Her name in that book?”

“Of course.”

“Maybe that had something to do with her not dancing with you in public.”

“Who knows.” They stood side by side. Sarge was appreciating the cold coming from the porch which Anton was simply ignoring. “Why would anyone, even a pimp, care about a woman dancing with me? That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Who says pimps make sense? If that pimp be your father, then no point even looking for any sense nowhere, Sarge.” Anton rubbed his jaw. “You like dancing with Lily, don’t you?”

Sarge surprised Anton with a big bright grin. “Like? Are you kidding, Anton? I love dancing with Lily. She swing dances like none other. She’s got all the oldies down pat thanks to Priest. She has no hesitation for trying everything else too. We have a damn lot of fun with that old record player and the radio. Hell, I would not think twice about getting out on the floor with her for that swing dance fest contest at U of M- they have every fall. Damn, I wonder if she’d do it?”

Anton stared at Sarge and shook his head. “Ah ha, so much for dancing just being dancing with some people.”

Catching Anton’s serious tone, Sarge stopped thinking about how to broach the idea of the swing fest with Lily and punched Anton lightly in the shoulder. “Hey, I wanted a chance with Lily even before we ever started dancing. Even if she couldn’t dance like she does with me, I’d still want a chance with her. Fact that she does dance, is well, well it’s sort of like having the very best fresh homemade cherry pie for dessert after a great main entrée. Makes a great meal even better.”

“Hmm. Anton thinking Sarge got dancing as the wrong part of that meal, but no matter right now. Heads up, here they come.”

“I’m thinking we should call it a night, Anton. Early as it is, at least I should. I’m in no mood for a round two of any sort or I might do a little acting out of my own. I do not want to put you to the trouble of keeping me in line. I’ll keep myself in line by making tracks back to Lily’s place. If Lily wants to stay on her own, I’m okay with that as long as she doesn’t walk home by herself.”

“That is almost funny, Sarge. Almost. Like Lily going to let you wander off all by yourself to her pad after that dance and whiplash action? Anton don’t think so. Anton think it a damn good idea both you and Lily call it a night so those all those turned on light bulbs don’t blow the whole damn fuse-box. Anton think damn best you two go home together and dance up as much cherry pie as you please. Alone. As in: no one watching the dance show. You read that music?”

“You don’t really expect me to argue with that thinking, do you, Anton? Hmm?”

Anton’s eyes narrowed as he took note of Sarge’s grin. “Sarge using Anton to get right where he want to be with no debate from the women-folk.” Anton shook a finger at him. “Ah huh. You smarter than you look, Big Man. Anton on to you now.”

@eva2014

Breakfast Special, #46, “Pinballing”

Pinballing

Upon reaching the main hallway Sarge kept on moving until they’d moved past the kitchen and stood at the cold back end of the house on the inner side of the rear porch. Seeing his stressed expression, noting the strength of his continued grip on her and how he put his back up against the wall and took on a defensive stance, Lily  glanced back down the hall they’d come through. Seeing none of the b-brigade had followed, she turned back to find Sarge pulling on the string around his neck to which one of her sachets was attached. She helped by releasing the string when it caught on a shirt button. Trying to regain her composure, she said nothing.  Sarge inhaled deeply  the scent of the small bag then managed a smile for her. “Have you done that pinball action before, Lily? Was that beginner’s luck or are you a ringer? Come on, fess up, Missy.”

“That’s what that move is called, pinball? Ah ha.” Lily clicked her tongue and shook her head. “Purely beginner’s luck, Funny Man.” She laughed softly. “We’re going to have to practice that in reverse.”

“Reverse? As in you putting me into motion?”

“Yeah. Why not?”

Sarge cocked his head to the left and looked her over. “Sure, why not. With the right leverage and some serious spin you could get my weight flying. Maybe.”

“What? You think I can’t throw your hide?”

“Throw me, sure, no problem. Pinballing me through a crowd, that’s another story. But it’s a possibility under the right conditions.”

“Under the right conditions, huh.” Lily smirked then glanced again down the hallway.

“Are you okay after those body slams?”

“Yeah, I’m good. My shoulders did most of the work. But you look really hot.” Without thinking how he might react, she reached out and put her hands lightly against his fully flushed cheeks. “Are you sick?”

“No. Just way too many people in one place.”  He searched her expression for some sign of being angry with him. Finding none, he sighed with relief. Unsure of how to begin processing what had just happened with the women in the crowded main room, he waited  for some clue from Lily on the subject. “Is everyone in the Flats trying to pack themselves into that one room tonight or what?”

Lily refrained from bringing up what had happened with her and the b-brigade and the young man and his friends. “There are a lot more people than usual showing up tonight that’s for sure. The kitchen is full of food waiting for space on the tables. There’s hardly any room to move around in there either. I don’t understand why people aren’t spreading out into the other open rooms.”

“Maybe there’s an effort underway to set a record for most people in a certain amount of square footage?”

Unaware they were being watched by several very interested parties from the kitchen, Lily felt his forehead for sign of a fever as Sarge closed his eyes and leaned his head into her palm. “If that’s the case, why don’t they just pack themselves into where the middle of the street ought to be? Put their body heat to use melting some snow.”

Sarge laughed a little then opened his eyes and tensed.

“Everything level here?” Anton’s voice and presence startled them. He’d caught them unawares without realizing he’d done so. Having made no effort to hide his approach, he backed away a few steps with his hands held palm open and up in front of him at the fierce look in Sarge’s eyes and an equally harsh glare from Lily. “Easy, Anton comes in peace.” He inclined his head towards the hall he’d just walked down as he tried to get a reading on Lily regarding her reaction to what had transpired with the b-brigade and other women. “Figured I’d run some interference in case anyone still does not have a full grasp of no.”

Relaxing noticeably as Anton kept his distance and his calm tone while apparently taking no offence at the threatening look he’d initially sent his way, Sarge responded with an apologetic shrug. “No problem, Anton. I just didn’t realize you were here until you spoke. You do a fine impression of a ghost. You’ve got some damn quiet feet. A little chain rattling wouldn’t hurt. ”

Anton took his house keys from his pocket and shook them. “How that work?” His own red alert signal eased up when Sarge laughed and waved a dismissive hand at his joke. He shook the keys again while meeting Lily’s  puzzled stare. “That working for you, Lily?” Unlike Sarge, she didn’t laugh or relax. “O give Anton a little joy for effort.” He jerked his thumb in the direction behind him. “Esther holding the front line. She’ll make noise if some company you don’t want makes tracks this way.”

Lily moved to look past him to where Esther was standing further down the hall watching the entrance to the front room. She looked at Anton. “What’s going on? If the b-brigade is on the warpath, I’m more than happy to deal with them on my own. Esther doesn’t need to burn any of her bridges on my account.”

“You best inform her of that fact. You know she not going to budge on my say so.”

Fully aware of Anton’s intention to send her Esther’s way and guessing they both knew something she didn’t but should, she decided to cooperate. “I will. Keep an eye on Sarge. He’s not feeling well, even though he says otherwise.”

“Don’t concern yourself, Anton. I’m good.” Sarge shrugged when Lily gave him a look that said she didn’t believe his self assessment before walking in Esther’s direction.

Satisfied that he’d pushed the correct communication button, Anton  cautiously edged closer to Sarge and lowered his voice for privacy. “Sorry, Sarge, Lily say otherwise and Anton’s bones say otherwise too.”

“Who am I to argue with your bones? That crowd got to me. But I’m okay now. I’m not sick as in, toss my dinner sick.” Knowing that Anton wanted to talk with him, Sarge joined him in keeping an eye on Lily as she made her way to Esther. “What’s a b-brigade?”

“B-brigade no problem at the moment. Anton define them later.” He moved to stand facing the hallway so he could watch it and talk quietly with Sarge at the same time. He looked Sarge over. “You definitely not up to par, Sarge. Lily correct in saying you not well. If you gonna hurl or do a face flop, please inform Anton directly so I can evade the splatter.”

Sarge shook his head. “I’m not going to do either one. Quit already.” A moment later he said, “Do I really look like I might?”

“Either, both, or something else.” Anton watched Lily and Esther conversing down the hall. He stepped sideways a little closer to Sarge and glanced cautiously at the kitchen doorway before speaking. “What in hell possessed you to turn up the heat dancing with Lily in a crowd full of stir crazy women?”

Not liking the implication that he’d deliberately brought the unwanted sexual advances upon himself, Sarge said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Anton. I didn’t dance any differently with Lily than we do when we’re by ourselves.”

Anton gave up watching his wife and Lily and turned his full attention to the man still getting his bearings after politely bulldozing his way through a dozen bold women with no claims to self-restraint or tact a few minutes earlier. “Hold on. You been dancing like that with Lily all along?”

Sarge’s confusion and incomprehension was plain. “Like what? We dance, that’s all. She’s a great dance partner, even when her right foot acts up. We read each other and the music really well together.”

Tuning into his bones and his intellect full throttle, Anton stared intently at the younger man, himself on the alert for duplicity or any form of  deception. “That what you call it? Reading the music together?”

“Yeah, what else? What do you call it?”

“We put that defintion on the side for now. Don’t you dare tell me you don’t know what just went down while making an exit from that room. You got to be clued into that action or you be brain-dead and don’t know it yet.”

Sarge pushed his hair away from his face. “Of course I know. How could I not? I dealt with them without making a bad scene, didn’t I? What the hell that was about is beyond me though. I never saw most of those women before tonight.” He leaned against the wall  in an effort to relieve the tension the conversation was creating. “The ones I have met never acted like that before. You know it because you’ve been with me at every one of their homes when we did some repairs. You also know that none of them ever pulled that kind of shit on me before tonight.” When Anton didn’t respond with more than a nod, he continued with, “Does it have something to do with Lily?”

 

 

Breakfast Special, #45, “No You Don’t”

No You Don’t

Lily’s public statement of ownership had not gone unnoticed by the group of women she’d intended to warn off. The b-brigade held its ground against the east wall watching closely as other women, none of whom made any bones about wanting a taste of what Sarge had unwittingly put on display while dancing with Lily, launched single and combined efforts to get him either back towards the clear area near the musicians or off in other much less public directions. From the perspective of the b-brigade, all of these actions were doomed because they failed to address the necessity of separating the man from the woman directly behind his broad back as they moved single file through the crowded room.

Sarge’s polite smile never wavered, his voice never rose in irritation, his free right hand never resorted to applying serious force as he extracted himself from grasping, clutching and caressing hands of women he had never met and a few he had while making repairs in the Flats. Yet he effectively managed to decline each demand and offer without letting go of Lily’s hand or directing her attention to what he was encountering head on while wading through the sea of people. Confused and at a loss for the reason for this unexpected onslaught of feminine attention, but having dealt with far larger and more forceful acts of aggression than a steady stream of uninhibited women blocking his path, Sarge pushed onward thinking the strange scenario would come to an end as soon as they were out of the now jam-packed room.

Within ten steps of extracting them both from the pressing mass of people Sarge suddenly found himself contending with what he immediately recognized as a coordinated group effort involving Lily. His first sense that something new was going on came from activity behind him instead of face to face as previously. A sudden hard yanking of his left hand holding Lily’s caused him to stop moving and look over his shoulder to where she now stood the length of both their arms away from him. Instead of close up behind him as she’d been until a few moments ago, she was facing off with two irate young women while a silent third was leaning against her arm now stretched out full length between her and Sarge. Realizing the intention of the third woman was to get Lily to release her hand hold on his, Sarge turned around and began moving to close the distance between them. As soon as he did this, another woman stepped directly into his way. Laughing and grinning at him, she half fell against his chest in an effort to push him off-balance and backwards. Instinctively adjusting his stance to maintain balance, Sarge became aware of another woman closing in from the left with the same movements.

“No you don’t.” He comprehended the scope of this coordinated action and began dealing with it even as someone else bumped into him from behind then proceeded to get very comfortable and cozy with his backside and belt. He looked away from the women shoving against him to where Lily stood facing the opposite direction as she contended with the two women working themselves up into a fine lather arguing with her without raising their voices to attract unwelcome attention. He saw their silent partner quickly move to where his and Lily’s hands were still holding onto each other.

A hot hand covered his and nimble fingers began trying to pry one of his fingers loose from his grip on Lily’s hand. Thinking she was about to succeed with this action, which by most rights ought to have given her painful physical leverage to force him into letting go of Lily, she turned and sent him a big happy smile over her shoulder. As far as Sarge was concerned her smile confirmed that none of this activity was accidental and that its intent was to separate him and Lily in order to put another part of a group plan into action.

For the amount of time it took him to think how very ironic it was that his life in a world so very different from that of the Flats had more than adequately prepared him for this type of situation, Sarge allowed the young woman smiling at him to continue working at pushing his index finger against the back of his hand. When she knew she had his finger bent far enough back to the point where the pain ought to have already accomplished her goal yet had not, she glared at him then yanked it farther. Sarge grinned back at her and tightened his grip on Lily’s hand hard enough to get her to look his way in surprise. Knowing he had her attention, he suddenly pulled her towards him with enough force to yank her off her feet and send her body slamming directly into the woman at the point of breaking his finger out of frustration. The two women collided and yet Lily kept moving as Sarge twisted hard to his left to keep her body in motion as if she were a fish at the end of a line being hauled out of water. The force with which he put her into motion caused her shoulder to hit the finger-pryer’s chest hard enough to send the woman falling and stumbling into other people. The momentum brought Lily twisting like a top knocking into the two women trying to move him backwards. Finding and keeping on her feet, Lily pushed and shoved against the women to keep her balance.

When her body had nearly cleared them, Sarge pivoted again so that he was now facing the hallway. The woman who’d been yanking on his belt to get him moving backwards now found herself facing him and took a step backwards to steady herself. Sarge pulled again on Lily’s hand causing her to spin a little more before she collided with his side. Immediately his right hand went around her waist pulling her up flush against him.  Having accomplished his immediate goal, he smiled down at her red streaked cheeks and startled eyes. “There you are, Lily. I wondered where’d you’d gotten to back there in the crowd.” He nodded at the frustrated woman glaring at them as she stepped away. “Sorry if I stepped on your toes. It’s getting really tight in here. There’ll be a little more room when I’m out of the way.” Keeping a tight grip on Lily, he pushed only slightly less politely than before onward through the curious onlookers.

~~

As always, I’m open to more music suggestions.

 

Breakfast Special, #42, Father Timothy He Got Game

Father Timothy He Got Game

Dylan O’Mara dipped his fingertips into the holy water, knelt down at the end of the aisle, made the sign of the cross, stood up and looked around the interior of St. Teresa’s church. The old stone building settled like a brick in the middle of a snow mound was showing its age yet appeared well maintained and clean inside and out. He noticed that in place of real flowers there were elaborately folded paper ones in the nearby vases. Hearing an unseen door open at the other end of the church, he waited patiently in hopes of encountering someone who could direct him to the priest he’d cautiously driven the main road that had been plowed just that very morning through Falls to find. A few moments later a slim man wearing an old-fashioned priest hassock made his way down the east wall aisle with a group of small children following in his wake. Seeing Dylan, the priest raised a hand in greeting and nodded as he continued leading the children to the main front entrance where an elderly Mexican woman sat waiting at the end of the very last pew near the windows. After a brief exchange, the children and woman exited together through the doors behind Dylan. Hands deep in his coat pockets, Dylan walked to meet the priest halfway. “Father Timothy?”

“YYes.  Hhello.”

“Good day, Father. I’m Dylan O’Mara. I just need a minute of your time, then I’ll be on my way.”

“Nice tto mmeet you, Mmister Ooo’Mara. How cccan I hhelp you?”

Dylan looked the young-looking priest in the eye for a moment trying to get a sense of the man. It was clear that he had Father Timothy’s full attention but beyond that, Dylan couldn’t be certain of anything including his age. ”I’ll keep it short and to the point. I’m looking for my son. He’s been out of touch since this snow hit. His mother is worried sick. My boy, he’s not the most regular church going Catholic, but he minds his ps and qs. I’m making the rounds because my wife has this notion that maybe he got snowed in with some friends and might have caught a mass someplace other than the usual. He’d be about my height. Half my weight. Fit, but not muscle-bound. Mid twenties with longish brown hair that’s kind of wild-looking.  Have you seen anyone like that at mass recently?”

Father Timothy took a few steps backward then carefully looked Dylan up and down. He shook his head slowly. “I’m sorrry. Haven’t ssseen anyone your height who looks like yyou.”

“Oh no, Father, he doesn’t look like me except for the height. Sarge is big, but not like me. Leaner, longer build. Has a kind of hard boned look to him. Got a pretty boy face with hazel eyes. Not brown eyes like mine.”

Father Timothy shook his head again. “No. I wwould rrremember vvery tttall and wwhite. I can kkeep an eye out ffor him. I’ll ccall if you give mme your number.”

Dylan nodded as he pulled a business card out of his wallet. “Thank you, Father. I appreciate your help. So does my wife. Thank you so much for your time.” He handed his card to the priest. ”Well behaved kids you brought out earlier. Quiet, polite like.”

Father Timothy’s face light up with a bright smile. “Oh ttthey’re aaa joy. LLotts of ppparents work. Wwe ttry to help out as much as pppossible. Lots of older people hhelp wwith aan hour or two. They’re like ffoster grandparents. They make warm meals for the ccchildren when their parents work late shifts. And we ttry to mmake sure every ccchild gets sssomething ggood to eat from us aaafter school.  It all adds up.” It wasn’t lost on Father Timothy that Dylan O’Mara was studying him intently while giving the appearance of only partially paying attention to him.

“Yeah. A little here, a little there. It adds up. Thank you.” Dylan turned to go after shaking the priest’s hand and then he turned back with an expression that said he’d forgotten something. “Before I go, one more thing, Father. You wouldn’t happen to know a young lady who goes by the name of Lily, would you? Any chance of that?”

Father Timothy put his hands behind his back and nodded. “ I do kknow someone named  LLLily. Do you have a last nnname for your Lily?”

“No. I don’t. Sorry. Does the Lily you know attend Mass here at St.Teresa’s?”

Father Timothy shook his head. “Not usually. Ssshe follows aaanother path. It’s all ggood in the eyes of our Lord. I seem ttto be eempty handed for you. I will wwatch out for your son.”

Feeling slightly unsettled by the unexpected certainty that Father Timothy would indeed keep an eye out for Sarge, Dylan nodded his thanks.  He made a slow exit out onto the steps of the church where he stood with his coat collar turned up, hands back in his pockets, and his eyes taking in everyone and everything in the area. She follows another path. What the hell does that mean? That does not help me, good Father. It does not help me at all. More to you than meets the eye, Father Timothy. Hell yeah. You’re a cagey one with that ‘your’ Lily, ‘my’ Lily number. Not willing to give up a last name either. Working it so that if I ask more, you’re gonna shut me down in case I’m some sort of pervert.

Dylan turned towards the sound of children laughing. Two older teen-aged Asian girls were leading another group of children, each carrying a little brown lunch bag same as the first group, down the church steps towards a waiting van. Like you said, a little here, a little there and it all adds up. I owe you for that, Father. I don’t know why, but I have the feeling you’re the type who just might call me if you see Sarge. But for some reason that does not rest well with me.

Suddenly Dylan pulled out his wallet, took two crisp hundred-dollar bills from it, walked back inside the church to the donation box and slipped them inside. Then catching sight of a vase of small paper roses by a statue of the Virgin Mary, he put another hundred-dollar bill into the box. He turned hard on his heel, not wanting to be seen again by the priest or anyone else and quickly left.

Carefully making his way across the recently shoveled and sanded sidewalk to his car, he spoke aloud to himself, “What kind of priest puts out paper flowers for the Holy Mother Mary? I know what you are, Father Timothy. Oh yeah. You’re a subversive. A genuine commie lefty wearing a priest’s collar for a disguise while you rock the status quo boat. Sack lunches, warm meals, foster grandparents. It all adds up. I hope to hell my Sarge does not get a whiff of you.  Goddamn it all. Last thing I need is my eldest son getting some idea about joining the priesthood in order to do good works. No way! No f’n way! Not after all the damn pussy I’ve thrown at him to keep that from ever happening.”

~~

Breakfast Special #1 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/breakfast-special/

The Promise of Amazing~ Robin Constantine’s Glimpse Into the Young Adult World of Today

Ah spring is pushing up jonquils and young love is in the air. If images of fresh face youths courting fair-haired maids with handfuls of flowers comes to mind when you think of young love, well, Constantine’s young adult novel, The Promise of Amazing, will disabuse you of such daydreams. Contemporary teenage romance has little to do with June and Ward Cleaver scenarios despite some sharing of milk and Oreo cookies. Welcome to the world of boy and girl prep schools for the children of lawyers, catering business owners and real estate agents. These people don’t worry about having enough food or clothing for their families. Their concerns are with social status and money-making in the realm of suits and ties. Their teenage children are highly aware of clothing labels, drinking, drugs, and sex. This is the world of who might become who — or not. Enter quiet good girl Wren Caswell whose relationship self-confidence quotient has had a hard  knock from what she refers to as a “hump and dump” with a young lad with no interest in anything more than sex before he heads off to college campus and the rest of his life–without looking backwards. It doesn’t help her college dreams any when the guidance counselor unwittingly makes callous remarks about who is and isn’t Harvard material.  From stage left-wing comes talented bad boy Grayson Barrett who has been forced to face the music of academic misconduct for selling papers to other students–oddly enough none of the buyers seem to have suffered any consequences for creating a demand for Grayson’s product. These boys are working out their future manners of behavior for being successful in a corrupt mainstream world which rewards doing whatever you do to be successful as long as you don’t get caught. The lads of St. Gabe’s have more than plagiarism on their questionable efforts plates. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart’s lasses are mistresses of manipulation and serious verbal aggression. Some of their hearts and minds are very short on sugar and very high on arsenic.  Wren and Grayson are not exactly Juliet and Romeo material—or are they? There is serious potential for tragedy if some life lines don’t get straightened out with some positive choices. In today’s American mainstream culture they’re the kids with all kinds of opportunities — yet, they’ve got some very steep learning curves regarding relationships, peer pressure, family issues, values and sexuality which all children, and adults, encounter.

Robin Constantine delivers a touching young love story set in what is now the normal context, with variations on degrees depending on location, that teenagers move through today. It’s a landscape rift with absent parents, underage drinking, rebellion, drug use, and sexual explorations often without any emotional attachments. Emotions are problematic for teenagers and the young people in The Promise of Amazing have emotional issues in spades.  There are a lot dysfunctional families across the spectrum of social economic class lines. Yes, there is a very serious class structure in America based on economics–the idea of a society where everyone is equal is an ideal, not a reality. This isn’t a The Catcher in the Rye world–this is post Salinger–the phoniness of the deluded game playing adult world is almost a cliché today.  The children mimic it to no small end.  With friends like his, it’s a wonder Grayson and his social peers are all not headed straight to jail before graduating from high school.  Yet, Constantine manages to avoid falling into a cynical narrative of all things troubling teens.  Wren’s practical step right up and deal with the problem nature sets things in motion when she meets Grayson by saving him from choking to death while everyone else stands around watching the show at her family’s catering hall– called Camelot. Of course, one thing leads to another as Constantine develops the plot via chapters alternating Wren’s and Grayson’s perspective. This is one of the things I enjoyed most about this young adult novel–the effort to present the perspectives of both sexes to tell their story. What goes through the minds of teenage boys and girls isn’t exactly the same–but they’ve got a lot more common ground regarding issues than they often realize when they’re struggling to communicate with each other even though texting seems to make it all so simple.

    I watched her disappear up the block, her plaid skirt swaying. When she was out of sight, I landed with a thud and walked back to the reality of the ER. I pulled Wren’s scarf up to my nose, inhaling her scent and getting dizzy all over again. I was happy to have my face covered–no one walks into the hospital with a grin that wide unless he’s heading to the psych ward. But I couldn’t help it.

She kissed me.

The Promise of Amazing is a an easy read writing-wise, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s about easy things. It’s not.  It offers a certain very dark slant on contemporary teenage world. This novel portrays a young couple’s efforts at dealing with family, friends and love relationships without any magic or supernatural elements to distract from real life issues. Constantine manages to make us care what happens to Grayson and Wren as individuals and as a couple with some definite potential for being a lot more than a “hump and dump” round. They both need and want more than that even though their hormones are certainly giving them a workout–complete with condoms. It’s the promise of sharing a genuinely caring relationship that gets these two together. What’s unsettling is just how hard that is to find despite all the musical hype about it. In a world of broken homes, second and third families, amoral role models and shallow values, experiencing and sharing some real love is no easy deal.

What’s the teen in your world reading?

~

Robin Constantine’s site –>>  http://robinconstantine.com/          http://robinconstantine.com/books.html

Breakfast Special, #40, “All That Funky”

 

 

All That Funky

*

Ahmed Essa

*

Little George nudged Anton with his elbow to alert him to Sarge’s appearance in the hallway leading to the building’s utility room. “Well, well, well, if it ain’t Mr. Tardy Hardy himself.” Little George teased Sarge as he came to a halt in the doorway and stood looking around the room.

“How are you, Little George? Anton, sorry to hold up the wiring show today.” Sarge entered the room and went to where he’d found the jerry-rigged wiring mess on a previous visit.

Anton smirked as he replaced the water hose for the washing machine. “No problem, Sarge. No lack here for crew work. You get that chill out of your bones from playing in the Ling’s basement lake yesterday?”

Sarge pulled out the section of plywood serving as a temporary covering for the wiring, set it aside and turned to Anton and Little George. “My feet are a damn sight happier than they were yesterday. Lily gave me something she calls ‘bear grease’ to put on them. She said it’ll help keep the damp cold from setting in. I don’t know what it really is, but it’s definitely agreeing with my feet. Oh hey, I brought some cookies.” Sarge took a brown paper lunch bag out of his coat pocket and handed it to Little George.

“Lily has bear grease?” Little George opened the bag and took out a coconut cookie and offered the bag to Anton who did not hesitate to help himself.

Sarge shrugged. “That’s what she called this stuff. You want some for your feet, Little George?”

Little George took a bite of his cookie and shook his head. “Not right now. Thanks Sarge. Good cookies. If I didn’t know better I’d say they came direct from Mrs. Ling.”

“In a way they did, seeing as Lily and I made them from Mrs. Ling’s recipe. Go ahead, eat those. We can make all we want now.” Sarge grinned and went to another part of the electricity repair project down the hall leaving Anton and Little George standing with the bag of cookies between them.

Little George moved to look down the hallway as Sarge went up the stairs to the room on the floor above them. He looked at Anton. “How did he get that recipe from Mrs. Ling?”

“How you think? He fixed that water mess in her basement. How else?” said Anton.

Little George shook his head. “We all fixed some mess in that basement at some point in the last year. Mrs. Ling didn’t turn over no coconut cookies to any of us. You don’t think he . . ..” Little George shrugged suggestively instead of speaking.

Anton stared at Little George unnerved by the fact that he was even going so far as to suggest what he was. “No. You lost your mind or what, Little George? How you even get that idea in your head-gear?”

Little George held up a cookie. “This recipe intel is not something a woman gives up for nothing, Anton.”

“Sarge working a blown fuse-box plus a flood by himself is not nothing. And you know it. Loretta been giving you some strange ideas again, Little George?”

Little George carefully set the bag of cookies out of harm’s way on top of the washing machine and resumed his caulking task. “Anton, you have no idea what it’s like living with Loretta.  It’s a package deal with her sisters. They are always together at one of their places or another. You know, you’ve seen them all at my place.”

“Uh ha. What’s that got to do with your weird Mrs. Ling and Sarge cookie action idea?”

Little George laughed. “Anton, you do understand that if Sarge took it into his head to start giving the time of day to women besides Lily, there’d be a whole lot more crazy shit going on with the women and men folk in the neighborhood, don’t you? You got to know that, DeWitt, considering all the work you been doing during this snow-in trying to keep people leveled out.”

“Sarge got no such agenda, Little George.” Anton considered the truth of Little  George’s notion and silently thanked Sarge for not being inclined to play the lady field as he easily could.

“Not saying he does, Anton. Big Man ain’t the problem. It’s the women who are the problem. You got it nice and quiet all settled with Esther who is about as sane a woman as they come. She don’t go in for the sort of talk I hear coming from Loretta and her sisters. Last night something set them off but good. It got so I couldn’t stand to hear no more.  I went over to Stinky Pete’s for a couple hours to get relief.”

“I read that. You got a point, Little George. You went to Pete’s for relief? Anton don’t think he wants to hear what sent you there.”

“You don’t. I don’t want to repeat any of it. I don’t want Lily getting wind of any of it either. She gets enough grief for her learning curves already. She doesn’t need any more from my women folk. I don’t know exactly what it is about Sarge that gets them all worked up, but they do get worked up. We all know he don’t do nothing to get them going. They get going all on their own. Maybe it’s one of those fairmoan things. I don’t know for sure. But I do know being around that sort of woman talk about men gets under your skin. You know what I mean. That’s where that Ling and cookie and action idea come from. I know that’s a dumbass thing to think. Sarge ain’t ever been anything but genuine nice and polite to women folk, and us too for that matter.  It’s just . . well, I got two ears full of Loretta and sisters company man-talk that put a bunch of us working our jaws about a Playboy centerfold to shame.  If you don’t believe it, come on over for a chat sometime when Loretta holding court at our place.” Little George looked over the handsome man working with him. “Now that I mention it, that sounds like a damn good idea. Yes it does. You being right there in the flesh get their minds off Sarge and on you instead.”

“What? Like you goin’ to enjoy that somehow?” Anton stopped working and stared at the big man beside him. “That about as bad as what started this conversation track.”

“Look at you.” Little George grinned. “All puffed up and in-dig-nant about being a diversionary tactic. DeWitt, I’ve been giving you some shit for fun. Chill out.”

“You been messing with me this whole time?”

“Only since the part about you coming over while Loretta having the after supper chat-fest. We both know no way Esther allow that game plan see any action.” He laughed loudly at the bewildered disbelief on Anton’s face. “What’s wrong? You don’t care for that little payback prank?” Whistling happily, Little George ignored the other man and focused on his task. Without looking at Anton he said, “This suggestion box is willing to entertain other candidates worthy of ar-dent feminine attention.”

“Are you crazy? Everyone knows how funky things are with you and Loretta. No man want that action with her sisters. No way.”

Little George kept his eyes on his work. “Funky it may be. But all that funky has an upside. You don’t think I put up with all that nonsense for nothing, do you, Anton? Hmm?” He took a cookie from the bag, put the whole thing in his mouth and made a face.

 

Breakfast Special, #39, “Do Not Disturb”

*

“Do Not Disturb”

“Good night, Lily.” Anton watched her sway sleepily as she made her way through the bookroom and headed towards the bedroom. Taking advantage of the peace and quiet offered by the kitchen space, he decided to enjoy a few minutes for himself. A coffee refill joined another cookie while he relaxed in this unexpected gift of alone time.  Lily’s cup and book opposite the table setting she’d laid out for Sarge had him giving some serious thought to the current state of people affairs in Lily’s apartment and love life from a different perspective than he usually took on such matters. Anton has no doubt you can take whatever Lily dishes out physically if you get her riled up, Sarge. Not that I think you’d deliberately rile her, Big Man. Truth be, I can’t see you doin’ any of the things that have brought out Lily’s tire iron side. Anton’s concern be how well and the why of Lily keeping most all her intel regardin’ yourself to herself as she has. Plus, there be this protective attitude she’s putting out. She ain’t gonna let anyone wake you up from your beauty sleep. Where the hell that and the rest of this sleep intel collecting of hers comin’ from? What her home people vibes telling her? My bones sure don’t know. She workin’ on some other page entirely. Her saying she ain’t gonna leave you to deal with some shit you don’t know about yet, no matter how things go down with you and her, now that’s taking her vibes to a Lily book Anton ain’t even read the title of, much less caught on the shelf. Unless, Anton guess maybe that got something to do with Peter. Possible that. Not quite the same deal, but we got some common ground with the sex element. Different kind of hurt in that area, but there be hurt common ground too. Could be that combo working on Lily. Anton would feel a whole lot better about her sayin’ you stayin’ around if she’d said some mutually satisfactory bone jumpin’ had been shared last night. That be in the usual scheme of woman and man things. But that ain’t so. Instead of doin’ some dancin’ in bed until four in the morn, you two were laying cards on the table. Don’t get me wrong, I know that’s a good thing. Sarge, I would not blame you if you be re-thinking a thing or two regarding Lily after she laid down the John and Mark cards.

Anton’s fingertips took hold of the serving platter full of Mrs. Ling’s coconut cookies and rotated it round and round as he thought. He listened to the radiator pipes rattle and clang loudly for a few moments then turned to look and listen for sounds of people movement from the other end of the apartment. Hearing nothing, he took a deep breath and let it go.  Bottom line right now be this, Big Man: you getting a chance with Lily. Hell, you had it all along, just didn’t know it. Don’t feel bad about that. Anton was not aware either. Esther been out of that loop too. Anton not even going to whisper any of this intel to Esther. Oh no. Anton gonna leave it to Esther’s own eyes and ears. If Lily don’t share intel, then you not catching a bus out of the Flats gonna clue my Esther in fast enough. Can’t say I blame Lily for keeping her cards regarding you close to her chest, Sarge. Might seem strange comin’ from a woman, but Esther none too thrilled about your sex draw for the ladies. Everyone knows you give no serious attention to any woman except Lily and you nice and polite like with those ladies in waitin’ but nothin’ else. Anton think that little book she got her fingers on has Esther looking at you a certain way when she add in that draw you got. Funny thing is, from all your chatter, Anton know you ain’t got a clue about that draw. Irony working some serious overtime now. Lily being Lily, she got to be onto that draw cause she always on the lookout for what’s goin’ on with the boys and girls for figuring out how to get what she need. Now, Anton thinking if Lily watching you close enough to know what damn sleep cycle you in by how you breathin’, then she sure watching you close enough to know you in the dark about that sex draw you got going without working a damn thing. Lily sure got Esther beat on that score. Other thing though, Anton think you being in the dark a damn good thing for you, Sarge, cause Lily knows if you say you don’t know what’s going on with some other woman, well, you probably don’t know. Especially since Lily taking up all the lady space in your head already, there ain’t no room in there for another woman no how. If Lily don’t know that yet, her home people vibes sure do. All she got to do is tune into that vibe. Anton gonna let all this intel set nice and quiet. Yessirreee. Anton just gonna sit back and watch this show. No need for more. This one drama needs no intervention. Mmmmm. Anton gonna take two of these Ling sweets and gonna make tracks to Percy Two’s place. All Anton gonna say is Big Man needing some zs after spending too much time in that f’n cold basement water yesterday. That all be true. Nobody’s business about all the card laying until four am adding to the z need.

Anton stood up, washed his cup, carefully slipped two cookies into his side coat pocket and made tracks to the apartment door. At the mat where his boots waited, he paused and listened to the easy quiet in the bookroom and beyond. He took his notepad out of his pocket, found Lily’s roll of tape on the couch table, wrote  “ Do Not Disturb” in dark blue bold block print letters on his pad, tore the sheet off and taped it to the outside of the apartment door. Pleased with himself, he pulled on his insulated boots, locked the door behind him and quietly pulled it shut. He rubbed his fingers over the pieces of tape securing the note to the wooden door, took a cookie from his pocket and set off for the apartment building with the electrical wiring issues that would just have to wait for Big Man to wake up on his own to get some much-needed TLC.  There was plenty of other work to keep the entire crew busy until Sarge showed up to put his rewiring plan into action. Anton DeWitt was not worried about that plan even one little bit.  He laughed to himself as he stepped off Rosa’s front porch. Hot damn, Lily landed her a man with a sex draw that gets women to turn over their best recipes. Now that’s what Chef Anton calls friends with benefits.

~~~~~

Information regarding video and music “Do Not Disturb” Stop Motion Paper Folding [with original music]

A temperamental tree gets easily affected by the weather changes and the various visitors of his park.

Directed, produced and written by: Irenia Alvarez
Art design by: Vale
Original music and sound design by: Luis D’Elias
Director of Photography: Nikola Uzarevic
Set designer: Irenia Alvarez
Set designer assistant: Maria Carolina Hernández
Assistant director: Betzy Medina – Mariela Vargas
Edited by: Irenia Alvarez
Script: Irenia Alvarez
Original story by: Claudia Galean

Cast:
The hand: Luissana Mejias

 

 

 

Breakfast Special, #38, “Sleep Cycling”

“Sleep Cycling”

Lily knew it was Anton at the door by his knock. Setting aside her cookie and book, she quickly made her way to the door before he laid another set of quick, sharp knuckle raps on it. Anton greeted her with the disarmingly open smile he reserved for close friends as Lily opened the door and waved him inside.

“Hey, Lily.” Standing on the entrance rug, Anton glanced around the bookroom looking for Sarge. “Sorry, running late. Sarge already head up Percy Two’s way?” He stared at Lily in surprise when she shook her head, then held a finger to her lips signaling for quiet. She pointed at his boots and gestured towards the kitchen. Anton whispered, “Everything okay here, Lily?” After she nodded and gave a tired small smile in reply, Anton complied with her request to remove his boots and followed her into the kitchen.  There he took in the still three-quarters full pot of coffee on the stove, the teapot covered with the warming cover, pots and pans at the ready waiting on the stove, Lily’s near empty cup of coffee, a large book of forest photographs open at her place, the clean plate and empty cup at the other side of the table and the platter of  coconut cookies in the center.

*

Orca Book Publishers

*

Anton eyed the familiar looking and smelling coconut cookies with extreme curiosity as he sat down in the chair between the used and unused table settings.  Lily poured him a cup of coffee in silence and pushed the platter of cookies towards him before retaking her seat. Anton hesitated, glanced over his shoulder at the doorway to the bookroom and the entrance door at the far end of it. Reassuring himself that he had indeed seen Sarge’s heavy work-boots on the mat, he gave Lily a careful looking over.

Her voice soft and low, Lily pushed the cookies closer to him. “Go on, eat as many as you can. We both know you want to, Anton.”

Matching her quiet tone, Anton said, “Ahha, yeah, about these cookies,” he gestured at the platter, “they be what I think they be?”

“Depends on what you think they ‘be.” Lily sipped her coffee and popped the remaining portion of a half eaten cookie into her mouth. “Only way you’ll know for sure is if you eat one.”

Anton took one and ate it whole. Keeping his eyes on Lily, he washed it down with the coffee. “Yeah, they be what I think they be. How’d you get a whole load of them?”

Lily opened the recipe box and flicked her fingertips at the piece of paper stuck in the front ready for use in the immediate future. “Made them, that’s how.” She grinned when he stared at the recipe in disbelief.

“Ahh ha, Anton getting a picture book story right quick.” Anton took another cookie and sniffed it. “Hmm, yeah,” He looked over his shoulder again in the direction of Sarge’s boots on mat and then at Lily’s not entirely well rested face and form. “Lily looking like she need few more zs. Truth be, lot more than a few, my friend.” He ate the cookie while waiting for a reply. When Lily shrugged and gave her coffee cup her full attention instead of responding, he reached out and gently touched her shoulder to get her to make eye contact. “Not lookin’ like Sarge made tracks for a bus.” He nodded at the stove. “Not lookin’ like you woke up mad either.” He paused to give her a chance to speak, when she didn’t he continued voicing his thoughts.  He eyed the cookies again without any intention of taking another one. He waved his fingers at the platter. “Those little Ling sweets set some other sort of sweet thing in motion, Lily? That why you lookin’ like it wouldn’t hurt you none for some major z hibernating? Hmm? You and Sarge finally sort out a thing or two in a certain personal area you been keeping damn quiet about?”

Lily leaned back in her chair and returned Anton’s direct gaze. “Yes, we sorted out some things. Took us most of the night to do it, but we managed to get it done right. I woke up at my usual time. Sarge, he’s still in deep sleep mode. He won’t get to Percy Two’s place for doing that electrical work until this afternoon.  Sorry if that messes with the repair crew schedule, but I’m not waking him up and I’m not letting you or anyone else wake him up either. He’s not getting up until he’s had all the sleep he needs. He’ll wake up when he’s good and ready. You and the rest of the repair crew will just have to deal with that fact today, and every day hereafter. Do you read me, Anton?”

“I read you, Lily. Anton get it, Big Man been puttin’ in a hell of a lot of time and hard labor. Man needs a time out. That’s cool. No problem. Crew major respect all he do.”

Lily shook her head. “Sarge doesn’t need just a time-out, Anton.  If he’s going to continue fixing things here in the Flats he needs to ease up some. It’s not that he doesn’t want to do things, don’t take it that way. He does. He likes fixing things for people. You know he does. Problem is that he’s been using all this repair work to keep his mind too busy to deal properly with a few private things that require his attention. Those things do not include me. Oh I see you’re ready to jump on that statement of fact. Let me save you some breath. What that means is that I am not on the list of things he needs to deal with and get past. As far as he and I are concerned, we’re going to take our time and do things our own way and take it from there.  I don’t want to hear another word about what we ought to be doing or not doing according to what people usually do in your culture regarding their personal relationships.”

Anton made a zipper motion across his lips. “Should I share this intel with Esther?”

“No, I’ll make it clear to her myself. I know she means well. That’s not an issue. It’s just,” . . .. Lily stopped talking and stared out the kitchen window while considering her words. Knowing Anton knew her well enough that he wouldn’t take it as an evasive tactic she took her time. When she made eye contact again with the man patiently waiting and drinking his coffee, she sighed. “Esther thinks she knows how I should handle things with Sarge. I know what she thinks because she’s had no problem telling me. But Anton, you know from listening to your bones that sometimes what seems like the right thing to do based on logic is anything but right.”

“You saying you’re going all the way with your home people vibes regarding Big Man. Anton reading Lily right?”

Lily nodded. “Yes, Anton, I am. As Sarge put it last night, he laid a lot of cards out on the table because he didn’t want me to get blindsided by some things in his private life. Or what he thought was his private life. The more I think about what he told me, I’m not so sure it’s been very private at all. I know he’s talked about some of it with you. I don’t know what your bones have been saying. But mine have been in a bit of a tizzy, as Priest used to say, about those things and something he’s not seeing yet. Some thing Sarge doesn’t know anything about. My vibes can’t make sense of it right now.  Whatever that is, I do not intend to leave him to deal with it alone no matter how things turn out between us as a couple.”

“As a couple?” Anton set down the cup he’d been holding with both hands. “You both reading the same ink on that page, Lily? You and Sarge got that couple business all clear? You know why I’m putting the question back to you.”

“Yes.” Lily lifted her chin. “We agreed to continue living together between here and his place in the freight district.”  Seeing Anton’s eyes open wide with stunned surprise, she pushed on. “I told Sarge straight up that I don’t want him to leave and he told me straight up that he doesn’t want to leave. We get along with each other. Which is more than a lot of people you and I both know can say about their private relationships. Sarge and I have decided to take a shot at being a couple on our own terms. I’m saying that even after he laid a lot of his cards on the table and I put down some of my own. I didn’t put all down of mine at the same time because I didn’t want to get us off track about what was actually significant to the matters at hand. Some things can wait. At least until we’ve both had some more sleep. We’re both clear about each other’s past relationship problems and that’s what matters right now.”

Attempting to appear nonchalant about Lily’s matter-of- fact tone regarding her relationship problems, keeping in mind what he knew about Sarge’s problems, Anton slouched down in his chair and stretched out his legs. “Pardon me for asking, but did you or did you not lay down your card concerning what you did to Mark when you caught him on the stairs messing with Julianna?”

“I mentioned it. I didn’t go into all the details, but the gist of it got across.”

“The gist of it? Sarge knows it was you, not Ricardo, who broke the front door with Mark’s head, right?”

Lily scratched the side of her neck and frowned. “I think so. Well, maybe that detail needs to be clarified a little. What’s your point, Anton?”

Anton shrugged. “Nothing.  Just making sure Big Man knows how you can get when you’re riled up. That’s all. Don’t want him getting blindsided by a violin case in the gut if some drunk groupie backs him up against a wall in a stairwell outside a bar where’s he’s taking a break from from work, like John was at a music gig.”

Lily glared at him through eyes narrowed to sharp slits and found the energy to richly infuse her reply with sarcasism. “Oh no, we wouldn’t want that to happen to John or anyone else ever again. Not even if that drunk groupie happens to be his not so ex ex-live in girlfriend and his pants are down around his ankles.”

“Touche as they say. You clinched that there with the pants detail. I don’t recall hearing that before.”

Lily pushed her hair behind her ears then mimicked Anton’s mocking gossipy tone. “Did you hear the detail about him being stoned big time as they say? Hmm? John tends to leave out that piece of serious drug relapse intel when entertaining people with the story of Lily sending him to emergency room hospital hell with a violin case.”

“Anton caught some details about that violin case beating something besides the usual shit out of John. That something covered not only his hospital tab, but bought some serious don’t ask, don’t tell from the right folks. But hey, who listens to idle chatter from hospital orderlies pissed off about the drug trade in their neighborhood and in their hospital, right?”

“I definitely clarified all the details regarding that problem relationship, Anton.”

“Including details about John’s not-so-ex ex-live-in girlfriend? That be good fishin’ bait for some intel about new to Lily ex-live-in Sarge girlfriends, hmm.” Anton took another cookie and passed it from hand to hand while maintaining eye contact with Lily.

“There aren’t any ex live-in Sarge girlfriends or any other sort of ex-girlfriend to be concerned about,” said Lily.

Anton gave a faint hearted guffaw. “Hmm. I can’t see Sarge laying down some significant cards while making a pitch for bona fide serious couple rank without some card dealing with some ex girlfriends in some sense of the term. I can’t see this man doing that, Lily. My bones can’t see him trying to slide this card under a seat cushion. So let’s have reality fact check here regarding your understanding of this particular ex-girlfriends card.”

“Yes, Anton, I am aware that Sarge has had sexual relations with a lot of women. I’m sure you’re aware that it takes more than a few rounds of sex to have a real relationship with someone.  As far as real relationships go, in any sense of the meaning of that term, Sarge hasn’t had one that results in any variation of love-sick, angry ex-girlfriends doling out blow jobs in alleys behind bars to get a guy’s attention. There will be no such pitiful bitch appearing on Rosa’s porch at two in the morning wailing for Sarge to come out and fuck her blind in the street. Even if there was, Sarge is not the kind of man to give her exactly what she wants right there in the street, entertaining the gang guys going about their business as usual at two am. Yes, Anton, I knew what John did. I didn’t have to go out there and watch. I could smell it on him when he came back inside after sending her on her merry way as he put it.”

Lily was pleased with the taken aback expression on her friend’s face due to his learning of her awareness of an instance of John’s behavior which Anton had personally found especially offensive and which he’d made an intense effort to keep talk about from her ears. She mirrored his earlier action of taking a cookie while keeping eye contact. “That’s the kind of reality fact you wanted me to check, right?”

“You reality check that John fact dead on.” He took a breath. “Per current affairs, you care to clarify how you read Sarge in the other women line-up?”

Lily smirked then rubbed her tired eyes. “Do I care to? You’re being funny, Anton. To clarify my read further, well, I certainly have not had sex with as many men as he has had with women. But I bet I could catch up damn fast if I put up red lights on the porch instead of blue and put the word out that I’m open for business. Hmm. Do you think doing that would increase or decrease the odds of Sarge and I working out being a couple for the long haul?”

For only a very brief moment, did Anton consider raising the topic of the little grey book’s contents. “You got to be messing with Anton with that scenario. Such shit do no one any good.”

She laughed softly at his indignation and playfully kicked at his chair. “Relax, Anton. You know I wasn’t serious about that red light action play.”

“True. But I don’t like you even thinking up crazy shit like that, Lily. Gets my mind rolling along that maybe you done too much time in the Flats.” Anton paused while reviewing everything Lily had said so far. “There not much people action in the freight district where Sarge’s place be. When a man been living alone a long time, never know what that space that be like until you in it. Considering how Sarge deal with all things need fixing here, I bet money everything essential in good working order. That be a lot right there.” He looked around the kitchen and glanced into the bookroom. “Odds against it all comfy and cozy like your pad. But Anton thinking as long as Big Man’s place safe and solid, maybe Lily doing some time there be a good thing. Focus on couple action your way. No other people drama action distractions. No input there you don’t want. Peace and quiet be a big plus if you depending on your home people vibes to try to get couple two-way street working right for the long haul.”

“I think that’s a good idea, Anton. All the input from all quarters definitely has not helped me much with my other couple efforts.” Lily bit her bottom lip and briefly laid a hand on Anton’s. “But you always read the guys creed right for me, though. That definitely has helped me understand a lot of what went wrong.  What kind of shit do you think will get tossed my way when word gets around that Big Man is not making a permanent exit from Lily’s life as soon as he can easily catch a bus or cab out of the Flats?”

“Shit not worth taking the time to state you ignoring. Lot of folks been in-house too long with snow lockdown. Lot of head spaces packed tight with crazy notions. No telling what might get said by whom. All you need pay mind to be your home people vibes and what you know direct be true. Screw all the gossip drama queens’ bullshit flowing. They get all lathered up, that their issue.  Not yours.” Anton checked the bookroom again. “You sure Big Man is not going to wake up any time soon? I don’t want him hear us talk like this and get any wrong ideas that require the rest of the day and night clearing up.”

“I’m sure. Sarge won’t be up for hours unless the pipes start singing or the kids start jumping on the floor above the bed and wake him up. He’s down for about another three.”

“How you know that? You didn’t slip him something to send him to la la land, did you? Tell me you didn’t do that and mean it, Lily.” Anton put his hands together as if praying. “Please.”

“I didn’t do that. I mean it, Anton.  You know I wouldn’t do something like that. You’ve been dealing with way too many crazy people doing crazy things lately. I know because I’ve been paying attention to how Sarge sleeps ever since his first night here. It scared me the first time he slept so much longer than I expected. I couldn’t hardly tell if he was actually breathing or not. I kept checking on him. Then I got in the habit of checking on him whenever he sleeps longer than I do. That’s how I figured out about how long he spends in each stage.” She pointed at the coffee pot. Anton stood up and refilled her cup as she continued speaking. “We went to bed a little after four this morning. I can’t help but wake up by eight am even though I need a few more hours sleep. I’ll catch them later. You’re the same way. But Sarge, he doesn’t have a regular internal alarm clock like you and I do. If he does, it’s not working.  He’s got to work his way down to hit that deep sleep cycle and hang there for a few hours before he even starts working his way to the waking surface. It’s just a little after nine now, so he’s still in deep sleep mode, which I confirmed a few minutes before you showed up. I can tell what stage he’s in by his breathing and heart-beat. If he gets to sleep and wake up all on his own, he’s ready for anything all day long and most of the night too. If he doesn’t, then he’ll push through being still tired and he’ll do everything that needs doing. But he’s out of sorts physically and fairly miserable even though he doesn’t whine or complain about it like some people we could name but won’t. ”

Listening carefully not just to Lily’s words, but also to her tone and paying attention to her body language, Anton decided to share absolutely none of this intel with Esther. Everything he was hearing and observing right now told him there’d been a whole lot more going on with Lily in regard to Sarge than Esther, Rosa, himself, possibly even Sarge,  had a clue about. It fairly boggled his mind that she’d been monitoring the man’s sleep as carefully she was telling him she had. “Ahhha, and, um, have you shared all this sleep cycle intel with Sarge? Is he aware of how very aware you are of his sleep needs and habits?”

Lily took in the questions and frowned. “Sarge knows I check on him. I told him when I first started. It hadn’t occurred to me to discuss the rest in detail with him. After all, he can’t check on himself, can he? It just seemed useful to me to figure out so I know he is okay even when it seems like he’s barely breathing at all. I’m not joking, Anton. He’s so still and quiet when he sleeps it’s like he’s in a coma. He hardly moves. If I fall asleep after he does and wake up before him, I swear he’s in the exact same position as he was when I fell asleep. I’m not sure that’s normal. Do you think it would help anything if I told him what I’ve noticed?”

“Honest, I have no idea about that at all, Lily. Doc Tran might have a clue, but Anton definitely has nothing in his thought box about that sleep action. That something vary from one body to another. Might mean something, might mean nothing except that when Sarge down for the z count, he down hard.”

Lily relaxed and pulled her feet up onto the seat of her chair. Resting her chin on her knees she looked at the cookies then at Anton. “You really think I ought to tell him how I, um, pounded Mark’s head into the front door?”

Anton nodded. “I do. Main thing be Big Man knows exactly why. Plus, it don’t hurt none him knowing you can, and will, do a lot more than defend yourself in case a situation ever arises.”

“A situation? Very funny, Anton. Do you seriously think Sarge would create a situation which would provoke me to do some pounding on him? Hmm? Be honest, do you really think he deliberately would?”

Anton shook his head. “Truth be, Anton seriously doubt Big Man ever give Lily a reason to serve him some hurt.” He waited while Lily considered his reply. “Could be other situations arise though. Man never know when some time he get caught off his game or have to step it up real quick. That happen, help a mind knowing . . ,” Anton picked and discarded several phrasings before continuing with,  “knowing he got reliable support standing right there with him. Back to back, shoulder to shoulder support that won’t cut and run. That mean a lot to any man. Anton think it probably mean a damn lot more to Sarge.”

Lily contemplated this in regard to some of the things Sarge had shared with her. “I think you’re right.” She nodded thoughtfully at her friend. “Okay, I’ll clarify and elaborate on the Mark situation. Just so, like you said, so Sarge knows that about me.  And, in case, not that I think he ever would give me a reason, because I don’t think that at all, but just in case something ever comes up, he’ll know better than to try to bullshit me about it. Yeah, that’s like preventive medicine, right?”

“Could be. But like said before, don’t think Sarge ever give Lily just cause for punishment. Don’t think he got that streak in him, Lily. Not saying that cause he and me got decent rapport flowing. I mean it.”

“I know you do, Anton. I don’t think Sarge has it in him either.” She glanced out the window for a moment then look back at Anton. “I trust him. My vibes trust him. He’s a good man.”

“You read that right. No argument. Fact be, it sound damn good to hear you talk positive like that about him. ”

Lily sighed. “Anton, does it sound like I’m in love with him?”

“Sounding like you definitely in something with him for sure, Lily. Know you got some different notions about the whole love scene, therefore Anton hesitant to confirm or deny what’s what. But you said you don’t want Sarge to make an exit and you were straight up with him about that. Putting just that card on the table, well, I think you sure know why you don’t want him to leave. No surprise to Anton that Sarge don’t want to leave. Man been hoping you give him a chance all along.”

“Isn’t that what I’ve been doing? Otherwise I’d have sent him to sleep in the generator room or over to your place to get him out of my way from the start.”

Anton stared at Lily then shook his head to clear his mind and leaned towards her. “Wait. Hold on. Rewind things for Anton. Are you saying you been seriously checking this man out from the start for the whole time he’s been here? This ain’t been just about him getting stranded and you being nice and hospitality polite about him caught in snow lockdown in the Flats?”

“It’s not like I knew he’d get stranded here when I invited him in, but, I’d already decided to give Sarge a real chance even before he threw me in the taxi. Considering how he behaved after that, I guess you could say I was giving him a serious chance from then on. I gave him a little chance when he followed me up the street to ask for a date because of the book he was reading in the breakfast bar and how my vibes were humming.”

“Ahhhha. So Lily been givin’ Sarge chances all along then?”  Anton rubbed his right temple with his fingertips while considering this new intel from his friend whom this conversation seemed to be wearing down physically.

“Mmm. You read that right, Anton.” Lily blinked sleepily at him.

Anton glanced at his wristwatch, at the book of nature photographs Lily had been looking through before his arrival then at the way she was owning her chair with her whole body. “Lily looking mighty tired right now. There any particular reason you ain’t catching more zs? You stayin’ up to check on Sarge’s breathing or you staying awake to keep from taking things to the next level with him? Anton wondering why damned tired Lily ain’t in her own bed sleeping.”

Lily laughed softly. “That’s funny, Anton. The way Sarge sleeps, there’s no way to take things to another level. Don’t you get it? He’s way deep under the down for the count.  But you’re right that I am tired. I guess you could say I answered my alarm clock and woke up just long enough to be able to go back to sleep. That’s what I’m going to do.” She unfolded herself from her chair, stood up and stretched her arms overhead. “I may as well catch zs now while Sarge is heating up the bed instead of when he’s not.” She waved at the cookies, the coffeepot and the fridge. “Help yourself. You’re a cook. Make yourself something to eat if you’re hungry. You don’t need me for that.” She put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a gentle squeeze before walking past him and out of the kitchen on slightly unsteady feet.

Leaving Anton in the kitchen, Lily made her way back to her bedroom feeling sleep settling into her muscles with just the thought of the warm bed. She’d forgotten all about Anton by the time she walked along the edge of the bed, tugged lightly on Sarge’s toes as she moved past them, she knew full well it wouldn’t wake him, pulled off her thermals and got under the down quilt where the cotton flannel sheets were as warm as she’d expected. Snuggling under the quilt she lay on her side looking at Sarge’s profile in the faint dim light pushing through the small curtained bedroom window. Laying on his back with his head slightly tilted in her direction, the quilt covering him hid the rise and fall of his chest as he slept. She amused herself by reaching over and lightly tugging a lock of hair away from his face and watching it fairly spring right back into place when she released it from her fingers. She giggled a little and repeated the action with another unruly wave. “Your hair behaves like one of those metal ring toys, Funny Man.” She sniffed the air warmed by his body heat and scented with several sachets in the pillow cases and under the quilt. “Hmmm, smells like a warm day in the woods. Night, Sarge.” Remembering a summer day spent gathering plants in a forest with her mother and Gran, Lily caught up to Sarge in her own deep sleep cycle within moments of closing her eyes.

*

CommonSenseCanadian

*

Sarge awoke several hours later just as Lily had told Anton he would. Having no idea of the time and not caring and enjoying not caring about the time, he started to stretch out his arms as usual and discovered Lily sound asleep next to him.  Her long black hair spilling out from under the quilt drawn up over her ears hid everything but her eyebrows from view. A random clanking from the radiator caused him to cringe at the harsh sound as he turned onto his side to face Lily’s sleeping figure. Watching her sleep, he laid his fingertips on the nearest edge of a black swirl of her sleek hair and whispered, “Hey, Lily there are coconut cookies waiting for breakfast.” When she didn’t stir, he smiled and pulled the quilt edge up under his eyes. He took a deep breath of the warm air trapped underneath the down. “Smells like trees under here, Lily. Yeah, it does. Let’s go for a walk in the woods.” Closing his eyes, he lay quietly imagining wandering with Lily among the tall trees he’d seen in one of her books.

~~~

 Melanie Wong

Only one place on Earth is home to ancient cedars, towering spruce, cougars, wolves, grizzlies, salmon, and the iconic Kermode, or White Spirit Bear, which gives its name to the region. At 6.4 million hectares, the Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. For thousands of years First Nations on Canada’s west coast have sourced life, culture and heritage from this environment. Today, the Great Bear Rainforest is such a global rarity that it has inspired unconventional partnerships, visionary leadership, and a radical change in the way we manage our resources.

Breakfast Special, #37, “Coming Clean”

“Coming Clean”

Inhaling the earthy scents in the shower, Sarge watched the water play over his fight scarred hands. He thought about how he and Lily might create a warmer, more inviting living space on the second floor of Kozy’s warehouse, a space in which Lily would feel as welcome and comfortable in as he felt here in her apartment, a space comfortable enough to study in when it suited her, a space where she would feel comfortable enough to consider spending the night. Sarge shook his head under the shower with his last thought then stepped back and pushed his hair off his face. Consider? Just consider spending the night? Who am I kidding? I don’t want her to just consider it. I want her there, in my space, in my bed all night like I’ve been in hers for weeks now. Wait, that’s not quite being totally up front with yourself, is it, Sarge? He felt his hands tremble and held them palm open to the hot water streaming from the shower head. Yeah, I don’t want her in my bed like I’ve been in hers all this time, like I think it’s best keeping things like they have been until . . .. Until what, Sarge? Her name isn’t in that damn grey book or any other book like it. You know that. You know you wouldn’t be here right now if she hadn’t invited you in of her own accord. No one told her to invite you. No one paid her to do that or anything else since. Yeah, you know that if she wanted to, she’d kick you out to sleep with the generator, or over at Anton’s in one of the “sun rise” rooms they keep ready for people when their domestic or other problems get out of hand.

He swished the water in the tub, for which he’d closed the drain in order to save the hot water for soaking his feet for a time after showering. Dinner and dancing while making the coconut cookies had taken the edge off the chill that had set in from wading through the cold water in the basement of the building the Lings lived in. Even Little George’s insulated rubber boots hadn’t quite stood up against the extended amount of time he’d spent setting things to rights water-wise in the cold flooded basement. He turned off the shower and let the tub fill with enough hot water to make his feet happier. Flexing his toes, he sat on the edge of the tub with his chin in one hand. Enjoying the scented steamy warm air, he resumed his conversation with himself.  Yeah, I should have done this tub action for the feet right away. What is it with me and water lately? Ever since that first bath Lily made me take, I feel like I could live in a tub. Well, something a lot bigger than a tub. At least a lake or river. An ocean would be best. Oh Jeez, here I go on this bend again. It’s probably just that this bath thing is new and very cool. Especially with Lily’s home people scents added in. I can’t believe I never thought to try one on my own even after Kozy found that huge tub for the second floor. Lack of imagination, that’s what that lack is about, Sarge. Lack of imagination, that’s what does people in all the time. Is that my problem with Lily? Lack of imagination? Or just some old fear of imagining what sort of serious, meaningful relationship I want with a woman and screwing it up when it comes along? Wait, I’m not talking just any woman in general anymore. I’m talking about this one woman in particular. I’m talking about Lily.

Sarge turned the water back on and let the tub fill further while he eased himself down into the soothing heat.  Yeah, this is the ticket. Relax, take my time. Think things out. There’s no hurry. It’s started snowing again. Lily is having some time to herself out there and I’m having some time to myself in here. It’s all good. We both know having this sort of time alone by ourselves works for us. Well, except for the fact that she has access to those coconut cookies and I don’t unless I make wet tracks…. Cut it out, Sarge. Get back to this ‘until what’ question and answer it already. Yeah, so what concerns are on this table? Hmm, concern number one: while I have no legit reason to think of Lily being the sort of woman who wants to screw around with me in bed just for the sake of screwing, well, let’s face it, that’s a concern considering what I’m damn sure has been the case with all the women I’ve gone to bed with so far. It’s a mind fuck I’ve apparently not quite gotten past yet. That ball is entirely in my court and I’ve got to deal with it. How do I get to where I can trust my own instincts and thinking that this is not Lily’s agenda?

He slid down until his head was entirely under the hot water then surfaced gradually with a relieved gasp. That’s it, get some more blood moving in the feet and the head feels better too. Answer to question, I’m not quite sure yet. Sarge, you know it’s not a good thing when you don’t trust yourself. How are you going to trust her, if you don’t trust you? Hold on, wait, but I do trust Lily. Why? How do you know that you trust her? Sarge looked at the bathroom door. Why? Well, let’s see what matters in regard to concern number one? Okay, except for the bath to deal with the dead squirrel shit smell, she’s never come in here while I’m showering or taking a bath, and she’s never come in and tried to start playing sex games. She respects our spaces in the bed. She keeps to her side and I keep to mine. Old Reliable Jack is in residence on the floor on her side. I don’t need something like Jack to make a point about wanting to be left alone while sleeping. Neither of us goofs around in there. I don’t want her to get the wrong idea and she hasn’t said or done a damn thing to give me the wrong idea. It’s like we both know it’s too easy to mess things up by saying or doing the wrong things in that context, so we’re extra mindful of being polite. I know I am anyway.

Damn, it’s too easy to hurt or get seriously hurt in this scenario. Well, there you have it, Sarge. You’re afraid of getting hurt again. If this doesn’t work you’re going to be hurt, and not like before. Even if it does work, you still are opening yourself up for some kind of hurt along the way. You know from talking things out with Anton that you already care enough about Lily to not want to hurt her, if you can possibly avoid it. Are you having some self-worth issues because of the names in that damn grey book? Maybe a few. But I’ve learned a lot in the last year or so by staying away from the ladies at the folks’ place. One major thing I’ve learned is that it’s not in the normal scheme of things for a guy to get set up with as many women as I’ve been by my family. That bullshit is definitely affecting me now. I can feel it. I can’t put words to it yet, but I feel it messing around in the back of my mind. I am well aware that Lily is not a set up. I know that inside and out. I’m concerned about that personal history I bring to this relationship. There’s no way around it. I’ve got to lay all the cards on the table as far I understand them for Lily. I wouldn’t want to be blindsided by someone with my history, so I’m not about to do that to her. I have no idea how she’ll react to any of it. I’m pretty sure that scares me. I understand what Anton says about her capacity to deal with dark shit, but still, in some very personal ways I’m a guy with a lot of trash trailing after him.

I also know I’ve got a lot to offer Lily that has nothing to do with sex. I figured that out by taking small chances with the ladies from the libraries and bookstores. I could see they weren’t right for me for a serious relationship and I wasn’t right for any of them. But it was also clear to me that all of them and me are right for someone. We all bring different things to a relationship table. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind getting some input from a couple of them, like maybe Diane and Elizabeth, regarding things with Lily. They’d be outside this context and see things differently than the people inside it. But right now that’s not happening. I’ve got me—and to an extent Anton to discuss things with. I’d call Kozy for a long chat if there was a phone somewhere with real privacy. But I haven’t seen one yet to ask about using for an hour or so. Yeah, a good long jawbreaker with Walter wouldn’t hurt one bit. Or maybe, what the hell, maybe I should just have a really long talk with Lily?

Sarge got out of the tub and put a towel to work drying his hair. I’m going to have to talk with her about my so-called past relationships at some point in time. Considering what we agreed upon today about living together, maybe sooner, as in now, is a lot better than later, even if I don’t yet have all the information I want about certain family matters. This way, if she decides to rethink things, no one else knows anything about it so she won’t be embarrassed or have to deal with questions she doesn’t want to answer. Yeah, thanks Diane for that tip about not embarrassing women with their friends by putting them on the hot seat concerning relationship issues unless you’re just itching to start a war.

He dressed while making a short list of the most important things he thought he needed to give Lily a heads up about. He knew he was on the right track when he finished buttoning his shirt, one of Little George’s loaned flannels, and realized his personal thermostat had retuned to normal.  Feeling phsyically balanced again, he shook his head to get rid of any lingering water in his hair. He had previously noted his hair apparently found Lily’s home people plants agreeable in some way that when he left it to finish drying uncombed it appeared much neater than when washed without them.  Even when he did comb it after a good washing with some of Lily’s herb mixtures, it looked like a nice neat tight mop rather than a ransacked squirrel haven as it had prior to Lily scent time. Though he admitted his take on this was totally biased because his nose was calling the shots in the home people land scents department. Lately his nose didn’t give a damn what his eyes had to say about anything.  After pushing his hair away from his face, a futile gesture if there ever was one as it immediately went right back to where it had been, Sarge turned to open the door and felt a keen thrill of emotional electricity flit through him. It was much the same as the feeling that he’d experienced when he’d exited Big Bob’s and caught sight of Lily working her way up the street then set off after her. He liked the way that move had turned out, so hopefully this was an indication that this move, as strange as it felt to him in several ways because of the nature of what he felt he needed to talk about, also might turn out to be to his liking. There was no way to know except to follow through on his decision.

He opened the bathroom door and walked down the short hall to the bookroom. Hearing Lily speaking in two different voices Sarge wondered if Marianna or another child from upstairs had come for a visit and was being entertained with a story.  This notion jumped right out the window as soon as he had sight of the back of the red velvet couch where Lily’s left foot was chasing her right across the top of the couch back. He stood listening to her switch from a falsetto to a something just below her normal voice speaking tone and realized there was a different voice for each foot which were being used in place of puppets for some adventure he couldn’t make heads or tails of because she wasn’t speaking in English. Recalling that he’d caught a glimpse of this same foot action when he’d returned after being doused with the garbage disposal refuse and that it had ceased as soon as she’d become of aware of his presence, Sarge kept quiet in order to satisfy  his curiosity by watching her feet and listening to the tones of her dual voice action. Only when the storyline seemed to have played itself out and her feet rested on her heels moving slowly sideways in one direction and then in the opposite, did he announce himself by speaking.

“Hey Lily, do you have some time for seriously serious talk?”

“Considering the fact that I’ve been having a conversation with my feet, what do you think, Funny Man? Hmm?” Lily pushed herself up from the couch seat cushions just far enough to peer at him over the back of the red couch. “What’s on your mind, Sarge?”          

He pointed at her feet as he came closer to the couch. “Well, first off, what’s that story with your feet about? I have to ask because your right foot really did a number on your left, but I have no idea why right foot beat the heck out of the left foot.”

Lily moved to sit cross-legged on the couch. “That’s not really what you want to talk about. You’re curious, but it’s not the headliner on your mind, Sarge.” She wiggled her toes. “Tell you what, I’ll go through the whole story in English for you, but only after we talk about whatever has you out of the bathroom after only half the time you usually spend in there. Deal?”

 “You promise to tell the whole story after we talk, no matter what we talk about?”

“I promise. No matter what we talk about first, I will give you whole blow-by-blow from start to finish afterwards.” She made a few lines across her chest then shrugged. “What’s that called where people seal their promises with all this finger action in front of their chests? Whatever that’s called that’s what I just did.”

“Oh, you mean like ‘cross my heart and hope to die if I lie’. Yeah. Hm.” Sarge looked at her and smiled a little. “Okay, I guess I’ll just have to trust you to keep your word about the story.”

“I’m warning you that it’s probably not quite what you might be thinking it is. As in, it’s not some quaint little home people fable.”

Sarge sat on the warm radiator facing the couch. “Okay, so what kind of story is it then?”

“It’s a way I have of dealing with a few things that I have issues with. You know some safe, self-contained, acting out play.”

“Oh yeah? Does it work?”

“Enough so that I stop chasing the dog’s tail in my head.”

Sarge thought about her statement for a moment then nodded. “Then it works. I’m going to hold you to your promise.” He rubbed his bare feet on the rug and contemplated stretching out on the floor.

Lily waited for Sarge to speak his mind. She watched him move to lay on his back on the rugs where he liked to read stretched out along the radiators so he could look up at the sky through the windows without any obstructions. He was quiet for so long that she considered gently prompting him into speaking instead she heeded the soft hushing of her vibes and made herself comfortable by stretching out over the length of the couch. Realizing something just as important as their new agreement must be on his talk agenda, she listened carefully to his silence while he was searching for a good opening while the sky darkened outside the windows. Knowing he, like she, enjoyed the room at night without the lights on and the shades open as they were now, Lily shut off the lamp then lay back on the couch with her hands interlocked behind her head.  Just after her eyes had fully adjusted to the change from lamp-light to moonlight he began quietly talking to her from the floor where he lay looking up at the night sky dotted with lightly falling snow.

*

Robert Snache

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Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cynthia Reyes - Author

The blog of author Cynthia Reyes

Amber Danette

Freedom for All Cetaceans, Peace for Animals, Namaste

1EarthUnited

Uniting the world, One Love at a time. :D

The Stay-at-home Scientist

Science, Gardening, Work-Life Balance

People Powered Machines

Our business is committed to saving energy, reducing emmissions and waste.

Lucy's Light

Underground Energy - Scientific Documentation of the failures of an OCD albatross + friends

drwilda

Just another WordPress.com site

Tubularsock

". . . first hand coverage, second hand news"

Espen Stenersrød- From Pen To Heart

Jack Kerouac with a scent of Henry Vaughn

Army at Wounded Knee

A blog dedicated to documenting through primary sources, the Army's actions at Wounded Knee

yadadarcyyada

Vague Meanderings of the Broke and Obscure

Ekostories

Essays connecting nature, culture, and self

Red Wolf Journal

A literary compass for finding your voice..."You turn toward me, your lips move, wanting to speak."--Stephen Dobyns, "Wolves In The Street"

poet4justicedotwordpressdotcom

The poet can reach where the sun cannot. -HINDU PROVERBThe greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

"OUR WORLD"

Working together to make the world a better place to live! A fine WordPress.com site

Spirit In Action

Change IS coming. WE can make it GOOD.

CreekWaterWoman

Cruising through mid-life collecting cats and fighting for the rights of wildlife and the ecosystems where they dwell.

Rezinate's Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

Through the Peacock's Eyes

Insights for Spiritual Living

Heila

Refining Life

the zen space

a space for zen words

Don Lichterman

The Angriest Guy In The World

We Write Poems

a community of people reading & writing poems, moving words

shelbycourtland

Bringing Social Issues To The Forefront