Posts Tagged ‘mystery

19
Aug
13

The Web

She knew, on a conscious level, that it wouldn’t be fair to blame the spider for her nightmares as they had begun several weeks before its appearance on the outside wall near the kitchen door. And no modern, reasonable person would link the spider with that morning’s accident in which the handle of the pitcher broke and two quarts of fresh orange juice cascaded onto the floor she had mopped only an hour before. But latest is not always best, as they say, and sometimes the primitive path marked by omens and signs is the truest one to follow.

She knew about chemtrails, Iran-Contra, WTC 7, and the Big Short. She was acquainted with scientific principles and the basic tenets of varied religions from Santeria to Catholicism. She was not, in other words, easily taken in. She believed in Karma and earthly retribution. She maintained that the greatest pain one caused should that felt by those one left behind when passing to whatever lay beyond. She was, overall, at peace with herself and the world around her.

Then the dreams came. Sometimes there were scientists. Sometimes they were masked men from a Lone Ranger fantasy gone dreadfully wrong. Always it was her hands they were after. Each night presented a different method of torture. Picking the flesh from her hands with used staples which had been partially unbent or chopping her hands off incrementally using a purpose built guillotine.

She never woke up screaming, even in the dreams she was calm though terrified, but they began to weigh on her and she began to wonder. Were the dreams trying to tell her something? Should she have touched herself less? Was she called to be a massage therapist and this was her punishment for rejecting the Call? She remembered the legends about Eric Clapton and how Bonnie Bramlette had told him he would lose his voice if he didn’t use it for God.

The dream about kissing Jewel was disturbing for other reasons, but she nearly wept in relief at the change. She was surprised, because she did not like Jewel’s music and had not suspected she found Jewel attractive, and she imagined the singer would be surprised also unless she had previously pictured her lower lip pierced by a small gold ring. Their passion had not gone beyond heated necking and her hands, and Jewel’s, had been mercifully out of sight.

She sat in one corner of the sofa, as the night drew on, considering the hours of darkness before her. She wanted to lay out the runes but, for once, she was afraid. Afraid to see what they might say and afraid to see what she might stir up.

The old man across the way had noticed the spider that afternoon. He knocked it off the side of the house into his hand and it crawled up his sleeve.

“It’s a Camel spider,” he said. He shook it onto the ground, where the little brown dog sniffed at it, then he tried to replace it on the wall. The eight tiny legs struggled to find sufficient purchase to support the large yellow and black body.

She watched it scrabbling; half hoping it would plummet to the gravel below and half afraid that it might.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. The old man laughed and nudged the spider up the wall with his dirt-stained fingers.

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “But they’re harmless. One of these things would never hurt anybody.”

And she believed him, didn’t she?

(Found this on an old blog in an entry dated October 1, 2001. Was I wrong to bring it back from obscurity?)

06
Jun
11

and how do *you* know?

How can I tell if I am pregnant
How can I tell if my dog is pregnant
How can I tell if a guy likes me
How can I tell if my phone is tapped
How can I tell if my cat is pregnant
How can I tell if a girl likes me
How can I tell if my transmission is slipping
How can I tell if a nit is dead
How can I tell if my fish is pregnant
How can I tell if I’m pregnant
How can I tell if all circuits are dead
What if it’s only a test and I’m an illusion?

25
Feb
10

Who Buys These?

I’ll admit it’s been quite a while since I used them
But aren’t condoms intended for having sex with a human?
I ask because today in the prophylactic aisle of my local Safeway-
How appropriate, huh?- I saw something that made me smile
But then it made me wonder if what goes on beneath the covers
Or in a restaurant bathroom or under a tree has changed a lot.
In big letters on the bright yellow background of a smaller box
On the front of a shiny black box of Trojan Magnums was the notation
“Now even warmer.” How hot do you need a condom to become?
If you’re not fornicating with a corpse or using some sort of erotic
Appliance- that is to say bluntly if there’s sufficient man meat
Involved to justify the appellation “Magnum”- shouldn’t there also
Be enough body heat coming from the two of you and not the condom?
(Labeling them according to who’s to receive the pleasure-
Her or both of you as if while she’s receiving pleasure
You’re mentally rearranging spice jars and bored out of your skull-
Is odd and twisted in its own unique way
But I’ll take that up in a different poem on- yes- a different day.)

20
Feb
10

Albedo

When Philosophers speak of gold and silver,
From which they extract their numinous matter,
Are we to suppose that they refer
To the vulgar gold and silver?
Our friends are already in the cafeteria,
Sitting around the table, considering the
Tan squares in their bowls. Oatmeal? Meatloaf?
Should they add catsup or brown sugar?
Yesterday a squirrel was sitting on the roof
Just below the eaves. It looked right at me
Though I was on the other side of the window.
It was eating an ungarnished acorn, seemed
Confident in its choice of entree, holding it up
As if to say “See? Ask Paracelsus. Some things
Are best left pure. Gold and silver and acorns and moss.”

18
Feb
10

Fate Pays The Rent (The Final Installment)

Clement was at his desk, making notes, and he looked up when Jeff walked in. “There’s coffee in the big pot. I thought you could use some. It’s been a hell of a week, hasn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t know. I haven’t seen you in a week so I have no idea how your life has been.” Jeff pulled open the bottom right-hand drawer and dropped a paper bag into it. Clement went back to writing. Jeff got a cup of coffee, added cream and sugar and sat down across from him. “So, is that all you have to say then? Nothing about what’s happened?”
Clement laid the pencil down. “I’m not sure what you want me to say, Jeff.”
“So you’re going to just say nothing?”
“You know what, Jeff? Typically when people don’t what to say in a situation the experts either tell them to say nothing and wait until the other person brings it up and sets the tone or they tell them to act casually. I’m not sure how to treat what’s happened in a casual manner so I decided to wait and let you bring it up and set the tone.”
“Did you learn that watching Dr. Phil?”
“Did you want to talk about what happened? Do you want to go out and get a real cup of coffee and catch up? I tracked down those kalamata olive, chicken and green pepper sausages. I’m wondering if we should bail on the old Rockin’ Rooster and start selling those. Would you like to talk about that instead?”
“I would like to talk about anything that gives me the opportunity to eventually throw this situation in your face and say, ‘I told you so’.”
“You told me so?”
“Yes.”
“About what? You told me the chicken strips were nasty?”
“I told you that Aaron was going to win.”
“How the hell did he win? Jeff, he’s dead.”
“I know that. Believe me, I am very aware that he’s dead. That doesn’t change the fact that Mari chose him over me.”
“How are you figuring that?”
“If Mari hadn’t been so obsessed with him then she and I could be together right now.”
“Technically, right now the two of you wouldn’t be together because you’d both be at work. But even if this wasn’t work hours and you could be together, you’re completely wrong to think that she chose him over you and that’s why you’re not.”
“She didn’t choose him?”
“No.”
“She killed him.”
“There’s still some doubt about whether she killed him or whether Milagra did. She gave him the coffee drink and the goody that spiked his blood sugar and sent him into a coma and then she left him there to die so she definitely had the intent to kill him. Milagra cut his head most of the way off and sufficiently damaged his spinal cord so he would have been unable to breathe even if they brought him out of the coma and reattached the rest of his head. According to the story she told us, she definitely intended to kill him as a sacrifice to God and Mr. Gomez. So, we’ll see how the whole thing shakes out.”
“Whatever.”
“Even if Mari did kill him, she didn’t do it out of love for him.”
“Yeah?”
“She did it because she loved money and hated sharing.”
“If she hated sharing then why was she still seeing Aaron?”
“Okay, she did it because she loved money and she hated sharing unless it was on her terms.”
“I can’t believe she was working on solving one of those problems for the million dollars.”
“I think that was a surprise to everyone except her. And maybe Aaron.”
“She never really seemed that smart.”
“I guess she was and she wasn’t. I don’t think there was much chance she would have had to share the money with Aaron. He had plenty of money of his own and- in the short time I talked with him- I got the impression he mostly discussed those concepts with her because he enjoyed exchanging ideas and because he enjoyed torturing you. He did it because it made them both happy.”
“Yeah, I can see that. Nobody in the world gets happy like Mari.”
“I’ve seen a lot of people get happy but I’ll take your word for it that Mari’s happiness was a unique experience.”
“Nope, nothing like it. Her eyes would light up and she’d squeal or whoop and sometimes she’d dance around.” He took a big swallow of coffee and set the cup down with a thump. “No point thinking about it. It’s not something I’ll ever see again.”
“Of course you will. She’ll be very happy to see you on visiting day. Especially if you bring a cake with a file in it.”
“Couldn’t get it through the metal detector.”
“There is that.”
“Did you actually go see that Mrs. Lamb?”
“Yes.”
“Did you see her more than once?”
“Yes.”
“Are you guys dating?”
“What part of ‘Mrs.’ are you not getting? Mrs. Lamb is married.”
“Yeah?”
“I don’t do that. Remember me? The guy who spent almost no time in the principal’s office?”
“So what are you guys doing? What do you talk about?”
“Kids and how they could learn more. We discussed the challenges of where to place a difficult child in the classroom, for example.”
“My teachers didn’t have that problem. They knew exactly where to put me. They usually stuck me next to the biggest suck-up in the room. Nothing like spending six hours a day, five days a week, nine months of the year listening to some kid tell you ‘Shut up! I’m trying to hear.’ Or ‘Stop bugging me! I’m trying to get my work done so I can go out for recess.’”
“Yeah, tell me about it. I was the one who had to say that all day of every school year.”
“I guess you and I wouldn’t have liked each other very much if we’d gone to the same school.”
“I guess we wouldn’t have.”
“So what’d you two come up with?”
“For one thing, we’ve decided that it does no good whatsoever to make the challenging children stay in from recess or have them sit against a wall most of the time outdoors.”
“I could have told you that. We gotta get out and run around or we’re gonna go stir crazy. What are you gonna do about it?”
“There’s been some talk among the teachers of having those children run laps or having a similar sort of punishment that has to be completed before the student is free to play.”
“Working it off but outside. Yeah. Maybe.”
“Do you have other ideas?”
“Well, yeah. If you tell Mrs. Lamb about this though you didn’t hear it from me. Okay? I don’t want word to get around that I was helping a principal.”
“You’d be helping kids.”
“Yeah, partly. You promise?”
“Yeah. Of course.”
Jeff swallowed some more coffee. “When I was starting the sixth grade, I was still getting in trouble. I had to sit in the hall a lot. I started to kind of like it because I could see the teachers walking around and the kids with messages would go down to the office and back and I saw the delivery guys bringing in the lunch stuff and it was interesting; There was always something happening. Plus I was out in the hall. I was different. Everybody else was sitting in the classroom doing division and I was seeing the world go by.”
“Not exactly what the taxpayers hoped they were spending their money on but-“
“You wanted to hear this.”
“Yeah.”
“One day I was just getting bored and wondering what was going on in the hall and what I’d have to do to get sent out there to see and the teacher came over and stood right behind me.”
“That must have put the fear of God into you.”
“Or something. She was this great big woman. She liked to wear a lot of bright colors and she had little curls that stuck out from her head like she wanted to have one of those old-fashioned waves but it didn’t take.”
“Marcel.”
“Whatever. She was standing behind me and I could feel her watching me. I put my pencil on the edge of my desk and I was pushing it off with the side of my hand when she scooped it up. She leaned over my chair and she said, real quietly, ‘You seem to have a lot of imagination and not much to do with it. I guess I’ll have to help you find something.’ I didn’t care. I heard that before. I figured she’s gonna say I have to discover a new way to clean erasers or something. She said, ‘Come with me.’”
“Did you go?”
“Yeah.”
“Were you going out to clean erasers?”
“No. Here’s the weird part: she walks me around behind this blackboard and I’m wondering what the hell she’s doing and she pulls out a cardboard box that’s got no flaps and no lid.”
“And?”
“And she says, ‘Whenever your work is done- and you want something to do that doesn’t involve bothering your neighbors so they can’t do their work- you can come over here and choose something from this box and write about it. I will expect it to be interesting and legible.’”
“What was in the box?”
“All kinds of pictures that somebody tore out of magazines. Like cities and somebody’s front porch and a purple hippopotamus in roller skates and a giraffe wearing a scarf; all kinds of things.”
“Did it work?”
“Yeah. I wrote a whole bunch of stories about the hippo and how he couldn’t get shoes that fit so he had to wear roller skates and he got into trouble. She started sending me to the office too.”
“So you could see what was going on.”
“Yeah. I guess she got me.”
“Yeah.” Both men sipped their coffee. “You feel like making a trip now?”
“To the office?”
“No, we’ve got one stop to make and then we’re going to my house.”
“Your house? What for? And where are we going first?” Clement picked up both cups, carried them in to the sink and rinsed them out. “You gonna wash those now?”
“Nope.” Clement shook the excess water from the mugs and placed them facedown on a three layer stack of paper towels. “First we are going to Eco Meats. Then we are going to my house to grill a taste test.”
“No more nasty chicken strips.”
“We’ll see.”
“I love you, man.”
“Womb to tomb.”
“Sperm to worm.”
“Damon and Pythius.”
Jeff turned off the coffeepot and the lights. Clement closed and locked the door.

Footnotes
~Jeff Clement, whose name the author unintentionally borrowed, is a catcher who spent most of 2007 playing for the Tacoma Rainiers, the farm team of the Seattle Mariners. He was called up to the Show on September 4th. He was traded during the 2010 off-season and will be catching for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

~Maya Angelou, the poet, worked as a conductor on the cable cars in San Francisco. She was the first woman and the first person of color to do so.

~Shari’s restaurant chain was started in 1978. The first restaurant was in Hermiston, Oregon and a second was opened in Sherwood, Oregon within a year. The restaurant was named after one of the founders whose name was Sharon but who went by the name “Shari”. The Shari’s Clement is visiting opened in 1983. Many of the restaurants, including this one, have a raised grassy area outside some of the windows. The tables near these windows are less popular than others due to the high concentration of birds looking for and finding worms.

~Bernard Grimes Rhodenbarr is a charming burglar who was created by Lawrence Block. His first appearance was “Burglars Can’t Be Choosers” which appeared in 1977.

~The original Piggly Wiggly was opened in Memphis, Tennessee on September 6, 1916. It was the first grocery store that had carts and open shelves and allowed customers to shop for themselves instead of giving the list to an employee who selected everything. The creator’s dream was a fully-automated store but mechanical difficulties prevented his ever attaining it.

~Anna’s had started life as “Anna’s Banana Burgers” a name which the owner hoped to combine with homey furnishings to attract the kind of moneyed hippies that mark a place as happening and guarantee a retirement in warmer climates. Unfortunately, the couches became napping places for kids waiting for their parents to get home or buyers waiting for the guy with the stuff. A city renovation and revitalization grant, the same one responsible for the office complex Clement had so recently visited, had funded the remodeling and cleaning up. Now the little money from even those undesirable customers was gone and the place resembled a nearly deserted hospital cafeteria. Regular visits from the Health Department inspector guaranteed the food made up in sanitaryness what it might lack in savoryness.

~ “Goat’s Head Soup” was released in 1973 as a follow-up to “Exile On Main Street”. Billy Preston, also known as the Fifth Beatle, plays on several tracks. On “100 Years Ago”, he plays the clarinet.

~This appellation is given to several young men in the writings of P.G. Wodehouse but it was Wilmot Byng, the golfer in the short story “The Letter of the Law”, inspired the naming of this character.

~”Aaron” is the name of the waiter who served lunch to the author and her mother at Beaches restaurant. Several people had made suggestions regarding what this character looked like and when the waiter arrived he was perfect. He agreed to allow his photo to be taken and his name to be used as long as he gets some money out of it someday.

13
Feb
10

Fate Pays The Rent (Twenty-third Installment)

“How did we go from your toe-curling love of Mr. Gomez to commands from God?” Josh said.
“All the time I try to talk with Aaron about the building and how I want him to put in a good word for Mr. Gomez and all the time he is busy with his own work. Then one night I come here late at night and his door is a little bit open. The lights are off and he always locks the door so I know he must be in there alone.”
“Weren’t you worried about going into a dark office with a slightly open door?”
“Aren’t you listening, Powell? She was in love.”
“A little bit of light was coming through the blinds and I can see Aaron lying on the floor behind the desk. I think he must have been working and decided to rest here instead of going home.”
“Did you know he suffered from migraines?”
“What?”
“Never mind. Just go on with the story.”
“I walk over to him and say, ‘I need to talk with you about Mr. Gomez and the cleaning’.”
“What did he say?” Gary asked.
“He didn’t say anything. He was looking at me because I could see the light from the window shining on his eyes.”
“Was he moving?”
“No. He was just looking at me and he didn’t move and he didn’t say anything. So I told him again. ‘I need to talk with you about Mr. Gomez and the cleaning.’ And he still didn’t say anything but he turned his head toward the window.”
“That must have been a good trick.”
“Quiet!”
“Then I heard a voice but I knew it wasn’t his. I looked around and there was just me and him in the office and I knew it must be God.”
“Because she has regular conversations with him out loud.”
Clement frowned at Josh. “What did God say?”
“He said to me, ‘If you love me and you love Mr. Gomez and you love your people, you must kill this man.’ I said, ‘Aaron, God is telling me I have to kill you to save the building for Mr. Gomez. What should I do?’”
“Did he answer that time?”
“No, he still said nothing and God said, ‘He can’t hear me because he doesn’t believe. You pray to me and I answer your prayers but this man doesn’t answer you when you are physically in the same room with him. I talk with you because I care for you but this man cares so little about you that he turns his head away when you speak to him.”
“Then what happened?”
“I said, ‘Aaron, why won’t you talk to me? I thought we knew each other but now you don’t even recognize me. Why are you looking out the window instead of at me?’”
“And?”
“And God said, ‘He doesn’t look at you because he feels you are not worth looking at. He has no respect for you or for your people. You must rise up and kill him so people like him will learn to respect you and your people and so Mr. Gomez will be safe. When you do this thing, I will give you a new name. Your name will no longer mean sadness but miracle.’ God told me he would give me the name ‘Milagra’ and I would not be Dolores anymore because I made a miracle happen for me and for Mr. Gomez and for the Mexican people.” Her eyes were shining with tears and Clement realized she wasn’t feeling any regret for what she had done.
“How did you decide on the shovel as a weapon?” Buzz asked.
Dolores looked up at the ceiling. “I knew that if God asks you to do something then you need to do it fast. I remembered how he told Abraham that a sacrifice would be provided and I knew if he wanted me to sacrifice Aaron then he would give me a weapon. I looked around and I saw the shovel shining by the door.”
“You never thought about walking out the door and just keeping going? Did you hear anyone outside?” Clement was thinking of Jeff saying he had almost gone into the building but got scared and left. If he’d actually come in, could he have saved Aaron’s life? Would Dolores have attacked him too or could he have fought her off and called the EMS to counteract the drink Mari had given him?
“God said he would give me a new name and I picked up the shovel and went over to Aaron. Maybe I ran because when he came back with the shovel he was closer to the door than I remembered. He was lying there and the shovel was shining and his face was shining and when I saw his face like that I felt the strength of God flowing through my body and through my arms and a smaller voice in my heart said, ‘Look how his face is shining. You’re going to be sending him home to God.’”
“And then you did it? After the little voice said that?”
Milagra’s face was shining too but it looked as if she was lit up by a spotlight from the inside rather than streetlights on the outside. “I saw his face shining and I felt the power of God in my body as I lifted the shovel and I brought it down with all the strength of God. Then I saw his head sitting on the blade of the shovel and he looked like John the Baptist and I knew he was with God.” She took another sip of coffee.
“That’s a good story, Milagra, but I wouldn’t count on God being too happy with you,” Josh said. “Forgiving sin is one thing but I’ve never heard of him looking kindly on failure.” Milagra’s eyes widened and Clement thought she looked upset for the first time since she’d begun relating what happened. “Yeah. You see, you didn’t do what God asked you to do. You didn’t cut off Aaron Whittaker’s head. We talked to the coroner and he told us the spine wasn’t severed. You have to slice all the way through the spine for it to count as decapitation.”
“I did what God commanded! He told me to kill Aaron and I did.”
“Whether you killed him or whether you didn’t is something a judge is going to have to decide. Aaron Whittaker wasn’t ignoring you; He was in a diabetic coma. If you’d called 911 and gotten some people in here to help him there’s a good chance we’d be celebrating you as some kind of a hero right now. You might even get a city holiday with your name on it.”
“No! I cut off his head with a shovel!”
“No. I’m not sure whether I should say ‘I’m sorry to tell you’ but the fact is you didn’t. In order to cut all the way through the spine you’d have to be a lot stronger or a lot crazier than you are and maybe both. You haven’t saved Mr. Gomez any trouble either.” Milagra threw the coffee at Josh and put her hands over her face. “We’ll be looking into whether or not he knew you planned to kill Aaron Whittaker and if he was involved in your unnecessary mission to save his job. He may not lose any contracts he already has but I’m guessing it will be hard for him to get any new ones.”
Milagra wrapped her arms around herself and started rocking on the chair. “Oh, Mr. Gomez. Mr. Gomez, I’m so sorry. Oh, Mr. Gomez.”

31
Jan
10

Before/After

Before
our shy mouths meet; wall
flowers being awkwardly
introduced by friends.

After
wrenching some covers
away to wrap over me;
geez, you’re a bed hog.