Posts Tagged ‘old man


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?)



Loose hairs drop out and
wisdom and ramen; the old
man twiddling his beard.


You Never Know

On rickety legs and sturdy canes they cross the parking lot. Well-groomed but unassuming. The old man sporting a crisp white shirt and bolo tie; the old woman in a newly de-pilled green cardigan. She is not wearing a head scarf because she is not Russian and the weatherman has not predicted rain. (She has several at home though. One is very similar to that worn by Helen Mirren in the film “The Queen”. Another has been treated with a Japanese water repellent which according to the label renders the scarf impervious to rain, snow or sleet.) Neither is he, in truth, a cowboy but he likes the affectation and- on days they go to the doctor- it gives the young receptionists something to comment on and to talk to each other and to him about while his wife is digging in her purse for their insurance cards.

Today they are going to the doctor. No one pays them any attention except a small middle-aged woman who seems to think she’s a French sailor. She looks them up and down then winks. The old man and old woman nod pleasantly at her in greeting and all three continue on their way. The middle-aged woman- being the kind who likes to have a story to tell about wherever she happens to have gone and whomever she may have met- will later describe the couple to her friends and they will say “aw” and coo about how sweet they sound and how wonderful it is to find a soulmate and lifelong companion in this mean old world. The old couple, on the other hand, will never think of her again.

After the doctor’s visit they may have lunch at the community center set up especially for old folks- they’re known as “50 or Better” as if Life were one big poker game and you had to waste half your years sitting by without being able to open- or they may go home and have some soup and a sandwich or some leftovers. Then the afternoon stretches before them like a patient anesthetized upon a table and their choices are limited only by their energy and the amount of gas in the car. Bingo, bunko, movies, classes, museums, shopping- they are 70 or better with disposable income so the world is their oyster. Today they settle on liver and onions at the community center then staying for a showing of a remastered copy of “It Happened One Night.” Tomorrow it may be lunch eaten watching the barges on the river then a walk along the banks looking for the new family of ducks.

But every night at 8:30- except for Wednesdays when they go to prayer meeting at the church- they put the car in the garage, lock all the doors, and flip on the porch lights. He puts Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” on the stereo and turns the volume up so it fills the house, very nearly shaking the vases on the end tables and the special occasion dishes in the china cabinet. The old man and old woman go to their bedrooms and close the doors. When they emerge minutes later, they have been transformed! They are wearing black pants and white ruffled shirts made from the finest silk which has been harvested from the most select silkworms who were cruelly and unceremoniously plunged into hot water to meet their deaths. (This does not bother the couple because someday- they have no doubt- they too will unceremoniously and possibly cruelly meet their deaths.) The old woman has tucked her hair under a large hat with an even larger feather on it. Thus attired they advance towards each other until they are only a few feet away. They bow. They turn their backs to each other, walk three steps, pull the lower third of their canes away from the handle end, and shout “En garde!” Then they fence. The roaring and crashing of the instruments performing Wagner’s masterpiece barely drowns out the clanging and shouting of the swords and those wielding them.

After perhaps twenty minutes of their clash, their bodies dampen with perspiration and their elderly throats grow dry. The old man pours each of them a glass of chilled wine, they quaff it and take up their weapons again. Wagner rages as they fight and drink deep into the night until they are too tired or stiff or glowing to go on. Then the old woman turns off the stereo and the old man sweeps her up and into his arms, deliberately dislodging her hat so that her silver locks tumble down to frame her face then to tickle his forearm where it peeps from his shirt sleeve. He carries her the half-dozen steps to the bottom of the stairs, they climb at their own pace, and she stops at the top to wait for him to sweep her up again and carry her into the guest room.

They shed their clothes with great eagerness- music still ringing in their ears and wine flowing in their veins. Some nights they make love then; other nights the intimacy is spiritual and emotional instead. Later, one after the other they’ll rise to visit the bathroom and make the quiet return to their own bedroom to sleep the rest of the night.

In the morning, they’ll awaken, dress, breakfast, and go about their errands, indistinguishable from any other couple a decade or so past middle age that you might happen to see. Then again…you never know.



I’m becoming concerned about what Dad eats
But Mom says we can’t control it.
A cup of oatmeal
Mug of 1% milk
Half a can of peaches
With his morning pills
A retainer band
Cork stopper for a jar
Four tiny rubber tires
And their antique police car
Two slices of bologna
A burger with Tillamook cheese
A coffee drink
More milk
Three wayward Canadian geese
Grape juice
Some horseradish
The remote for Mom’s TV
A baby gate
Candy canes from 2006
Our coffee table
Two slices of Cheddar
A bottle of Diet Coke
One Chinese dinner
With fortune cookie
A wood-handled leather jump rope
I’ve been very concerned about what Dad eats
But Mom-
Mom was right; we couldn’t control it.


Sky Blu Grounded

The rapper had had a very rough day
And he really needed his sleep
So to help him relax and chill he reclined
The top of his airplane seat.
He was barely drowsing when somebody
Grabbed his shoulder, said, “Put the seat back up.”
His brain a little cloudy, the rapper took a swing,
Jumped up and yelled, “What tha fuck?”
An old White lady screamed, the pilot turned the plane around,
And took them right back to the gate.
Now the shit’s gonna fly cuz the white lady’s husband
Is a former presidential candidate.
Mitt Romney!