Saturday, October 23, 2010

Libby Sharp Rides The Moon

Libby Sharp rides the moon at night
while all the babies sleep,
Past "goodnight Mom" and "goodnight moon"
and "Lord, my soul to keep".

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Couple of Limericks To Pass The Time

There's something very addictive about limericks - once you start it's hard to stop - like those songs you get in your head that keep going and going...

There once was a girl named Eileen
Who was thin as the string on a bean
She met a fine dandy
Who filled her with candy
Now she’s traded her small for a queen

In Rome lives a woman named Thea
Who works in Papa’s pizzaria
She makes crust oh so nicely
And meatballs so spicy
We call her our own “Mama Mia!”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Unstable Self: #4

They all stop to watch me as I walk by. Some of them whisper to one another. The big cows are all envious and they all wish they could be just like me, Marjorie Alice Rush of Pembrooke Street. They’re probably asking themselves why they are so plain and unimaginative and why I’m so vibrant and stylish.

Rita Maloney stops to say hello and ask if I’m going to a party somewhere. You’re dressed up so pretty she says.

Why on earth does she ask such a stupid question?? We’re on our way to school, just like every other day at this exact time. She’s just a stupid girl, Marjorie, ignore her.

Why, no, Rita. It’s a school day. Are you going to do some mud wrestling?

The girls all laugh so hard they’re bent over and some of them have tears coming out of their eyes. Rita is laughing too, though the joke was really on her.

Every day they wait at the corner up the street from my house and then they follow me all the way to school. They know I’m too good for them and they don’t dare walk along with me. The best they can do is walk behind me and follow my lead.

It’s such a burden, Marjorie, being a role model and a leader of all these silly girls. Why, I’ll bet they don’t even know how to get to school without you!

A car full of boys from my school drives by slowly and they are all whistling and making vulgar sounds. I know they all like me but it would be nice if they would grow up. I don’t want them to think I’m like all of the other girls who will just jump in the car and go with them.

Oh, Marjorie, you’ll never find a decent boy in this town. They are all so childish and they don’t have sense enough to know they aren’t good enough for you. No, your Prince will come in time. Just be patient.

Well, I just hold my head up and I don’t even look at them. The girls behind me break into laughter again. They think the boys are funny and cute.

The car comes back and one of the boys asks how the air is up there. I don’t know what he’s talking about. I still don’t look at them. I can feel my cheeks getting hot so they must be turning red.

Oh, they like you all right but you just keep walking. Stupid boys.

This time two cars packed with boys drives by slowly. The same vulgar shouts. School is only just ahead. Two more blocks and I don’t have to listen to it once I’m inside. It’s the same thing every day. I just keep walking and don’t pay them any mind. I don’t hear them. I sing a song to myself to block it out.

Sure, you hear them loud and clear. They love you. Why else would they pay so much attention to you like this? Those laughing girls are so jealous they can’t stand it.

The two cars full of loud boys pass by one last time before we get to school. This time they’re driving faster and one of them throws something at me from the car. It hits me on the side of the face, tiny ice cubes stinging my skin. I’m suddenly wet and cold. I’m covered with orange soda. The girls go crazy with laughter.

Stupid boys. Stupid boys. Stupid boys.

What do I do now?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Unreliable Third: #3

It was late at night when one of the researchers, Doctor Jackie Strider, went through the files. It was 12:35 in the morning and no one else was on the floor. She was so intent on going through them that she didn’t see anyone watching her from the nurses’ station just down the hall. The nurse crouched down a bit so Jackie couldn’t see her and she strained to see what she was after.

Less than five minutes later, Jackie found something and she slipped it into the front of her blouse. She pulled her sweater close, looked around furtively and hurried away down the hall to the supply room.

The nurse waited a few minutes before she slipped over to check out the files herself. Jackie had been rummaging around where Doctor Blader keeps the files on his research patients and the Johnson file was in a state of disarray. Tammy Johnson was one of Doctor Blader’s current research subjects.

When the door shut in the corridor the nurse stepped out of the alcove and looked down the hall in time to see the back of Jackie’s head through the glass. She immediately retraced Jackie’s steps and used her key card to access the supply room. She used it again to open up the drug cabinet and she began to examine the contents.

The nurse quickly closed up the cabinet and walked out to the lobby and looked up to see what floor the elevator was on. It had stopped on the fourth floor – the patient’s floor. A few minutes later it went down to the ground floor.

After a few minutes the nurse called the elevator, rode it up to the fourth floor and then walked directly to Tammy Johnson’s room where she closed the door behind her. A short time later she left the room and looked to see if anyone was around. Seeing no one, she picked up the phone and dialed Doctor Blader’s home phone number.

She was in panic as she told Doctor Blader something terrible happened to Tammy Johnson. She did everything she could to revive her, she cried, but to no avail. Doctor Blader tried to calm the nurse, telling her he understood she and Tammy were close friends but she had to pull herself together now.

She took a deep breath and explained to him through tears what she witnessed earlier that night. She told him how she followed Jackie’s steps that led her to the lifeless Tammy Johnson. She told him she suspected that Strider had something to do with Tammy’s sudden death. After all, her research had reached an impasse while his was producing glowing results.

Doctor Blader would inform Tammy’s husband on the way and advised her to call the police. Detectives had already arrived by the time he and a stunned Sam Johnson walked into the clinic.

The lead detective explained to Sam that it looked like an intentional overdose was given to his wife and that a squad car was on its way to pick up a suspect at that moment. He told him he could go up and have some time with his wife before they took her to the morgue and he asked the nurse if she would be so kind as to accompany Sam to her room.

As the elevator door closed, the nurse slipped her arm around Sam’s waist and gave him a squeeze. Sam looked down at her and smiled.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Exercise #2: Imperative

Follow the bus that drives into the parking lot in front of the train station. Find the girl with the red purse and shoes who gets off the second car of the train that arrives at 6:15 every weekday evening. Wait until she stops at the newsstand to buy the evening edition of the newspaper and notice how she smiles sweetly at the young man as she gives him the exact change. See her turn slightly and wave to him as she walks toward her little blue car in the parking lot.

As she drives away from the train towards home, look back at the young newsman and watch his eyes strain to see her until she is long gone from sight. Stand back awhile and give his mind some time to come back to earth – back to the newsstand where he sits every day.

Buy a paper from the young man and talk to him about the weather or the story on the front page. Tell him your name and he will tell you his name is Jim. Let him talk about mundane things though you know his mind and heart is not in what he says. Say a few more mundane things to him before you move away to let another man buy a hot rod magazine and some cigarettes.

Ask Jim about the girl with the red purse and shoes. Tell him you’re a reporter for the Tribune doing a story for the style section about the current trends in the fashions worn by working women. Don’t let on that you see his eyes grow wide when you mention her. Don’t let him know you know how he feels about her. Don’t tell him you can see how she feels about him. Let him tell you what he wants to say. Just nod your head and take notes in a small notebook like a real reporter.

Pretend to be interested in what other women are wearing as they get off the train and hurry toward the exit off the platform. Ask Jim questions about them and make comments about what they are wearing. Then look at your watch and say good-bye and thanks for your time.

Wait in the parking lot for the girl with the red purse and shoes tomorrow at 6:15. Follow her little blue car for two miles or until it turns down another road. Watch her until she is out of sight.

The following day you should park your car near the place where her car drove out of sight and pull out a few cars behind her. Follow her as long as you can without being noticed. Drive past her if she stops and watch her through the rear-view mirror. Pull over and let her pass you again when she resumes her journey home.

When you are certain she is at her home, write down the address and call the office with the information. Stay there and watch until back-up arrives.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Exercise #1: The Reluctant I

From the hill above the dry creek bed I see a cloud of dust fast approaching the town and growing ever larger as it nears. Not black and angry like the smoke from a barn on fire but thick and dry and dirty as if a thousand horses’ hooves were doing their best to dislodge every grain of topsoil as they dug into it. A furious looking thing that makes one want to stop and wonder at it while at the same time wanting to run as fast as the legs will go away from its path.

After running, shelter is the first thing that comes to mind and people are scrambling furiously for a place that would be safe from what will inevitably overtake them. A woman wraps the ample folds of her skirt and apron around her two small children as she hurries them away from the cloud and into the house. A young couple cling to each other as they search for an open door, even a shed, where they might be safe. Children scream for their mothers just as their mothers call their names frantically from their doorsteps. Toys lay scattered on the ground where they were abandoned just seconds ago.

Panic fills the air all around but if one listens closely to the sounds beyond the panic there is silence. No birds chirping or singing or flapping their wings. No sounds from the crickets hidden deep in the grass. Not a squirrel or chipmunk scurrying about. Only an ominous silence is heard from nature. In the quiet they warn that something is coming. If one was listening before the dust cloud appeared the silence would have spoken volumes. But now the people all flee recklessly from the darkness threatening to engulf them and smother them.

Homes begin to disappear as the fury overcomes and consumes them. The frightened residents cry out from the corners of their cellars where they huddle together and cling to each other in fear. One by one every structure becomes ravaged by the storm and disappears from view.

Suddenly the wind is not so angry and the cloud flattens enough to allow the peaks of roofs to see the sun once again. In another instant the dust settles and covers everything in sight with a thick blanket of gray powder.

One by one the weary citizens emerge from their hiding places. The children look out from behind their mother’s skirts with wide eyes, still fearful. Adults survey the damage and run to check on the animals they were forced to leave outdoors and to the mercy of the storm. It could have been worse, they say to one another, thankful that the wind driven soil hadn’t done more damage to their property and their health.

The clean up begins immediately. Men wipe off machinery while women grab their brooms to sweep dirt from porches and windowsills. Children dust off their toys and begin to play as if nothing happened, though once in awhile a gust of wind will give them a start.

From where I stand, high up on the hill, things seem to be quickly returning to normal. One can almost hear the collective sigh of relief among the citizens as they look around them at the horizon and see no cloud of dust bearing down on their fragile wooden homes. There are no clouds of any kind. No squirrels or chipmunks scurrying around. No sounds from birds or crickets. Only an ominous silence, speaking volumes to anyone who has an ear to listen.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ideas Are Percolating

I can almost smell the composition for the first exercise. I may break loose and start tomorrow on this journey!

Are you ready?