If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



Sunday, December 16, 2018

On Death and Flight. Part Two

As it turned out, the doctor who first diagnosed my mother was, as many are, at least partially an idiot. He was wrong, not only about her estimated life expectancy of three to five months, but about several of the 'cancer' issues. As in ... 'There's no cancer here and here and here.' This from the follow-up specialists. 'We have no idea what he thought he was seeing.'  

While on one hand, I wanted to choke the first doctor, on the other, his being wrong(ish) was good news. Unfortunately, not good enough news to constitute a miracle, and spare me the terror of flying, so off I went. 

Before this trip, post 9/11, I had often thought that when and if I ever had to fly again, I would simply and quietly walk off a plane that had anyone on it that looked even slightly like a terrorist. That is, of Middle-Eastern descent ... Arabic. I mean, why add to my anxiety. 

I'd say that roughly half of the passengers on my flight out fit that bill. One after another they filed into the plane with their different languages and different ways. 

I watched them. Not exclusively. I watched all of the passengers. Watched as they found their seats, politely stored their luggage overhead, sat, buckled in, opened their phones to send last minute messages before being told to switch to airplane mode. Watched as they made their space as near to familiar as could be ... a temporary nest ... and for the more part, as it was an early flight, closed their eyes to sleep.  

No one looked as if they wanted to die. 

Quite the contrary.

They looked like me. Like they wanted to be at home, nestled with their full-size tubes of toothpaste, food of less questionable origin, properly reclined beds, stocked closets and neglected pets. And so with them, I closed my eyes, to make the ordeal as little of an ordeal as possible. To sleep away the time, until together, we were home.         


Sunday, December 9, 2018

On Death and Flight, Part One

I don't fly. 

That is ... I don't travel by airplane.

No mode of transportation more perfectly combines my three greatest fears (four, if you you include dying, which I'm not particularly fond of either), heights, confined spaces and crowds. The process is, for me, akin to being stuffed, along with one hundred or so of Walmart's most memorable Black Friday shoppers, into a glass-bottomed MRI, and then being shot to thirty thousand feet where you are left to ponder for five, six, ten hours, the myriad ways in which you will not survive a serious malfunctioning of whatever mechanics are keeping said MRI aloft.

Not to mention the germs. 

Oh, I know what statistics say. Or what they say they say. And you're welcome to tell the two people carried out on stretchers from the statistically improbable flight I took in '97, just how much safer planes are than automobiles. As for me, I swore that, should I survive the turbulence of that flight, not even a death in the family would get me on to another plane.

But it did. 

Not an actual death. Close though.

My mother was given, by a doctor, a rough estimate of the amount of time she had left in her life.

Three to five months. 


Needless to say, flights were booked.




Saturday, December 8, 2018

I Offer This as Proof ...

     ... that Mr. Trump will remain in office through a second term.  

Image result for bistro turkey slider

     Possibly longer.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Someone's Brother

If not her brother, somebody’s brother was in one of the fifty-five boxes delivered from North Korea to the United States Government, and it was for this reason that a woman, who re-introduced herself as June Powell, wrapped her arms around Harold Stockwell, and wept tears of gratitude for, as she said, ‘the wonderful work that he was doing’.
Harold led a team of forensic anthropologists hired to sort through and identify the remains stored in the boxes—soldiers mostly, from the conflict in Korea, nearly seventy years ago. 
He’d seen June before. 
In ’98, North Korea had transferred two hundred and forty-four similar boxes. Under a man named Parker Hill, Harold and a dozen other FA’s had identified the enclosed remains. June Powell had been there then, hoping to find her brother. She had hugged Parker as well. 
Ten years it took them to put names on the bones in the boxes. June Powell had called weekly for updates. Harold had spoken to her at times, telling her, no, they had yet to find her brother, and that someone would notify her immediately, if and when they did. She would always ask about the others—the families who had received lost loved ones. She would say, ‘We’, as if she spoke for all of them, ‘are so very grateful for the work that you are doing.’
To Harold, then, the ‘work’ that he was doing was just a steady paycheck. But seeing June Powell again, twenty years later, with this new round of boxes. The devotion this woman must have. ‘Yes, I remember you,’ he had told her. And when she wept in his arms he knew that he would call her every week and give her the news, be it good or bad. 


Saturday, August 4, 2018

A Rough Estimate

On his own, Larry wouldn’t be able to care for the plants. He could argue all he wanted, but she knew better. It was just too much work. 
     ‘But I need them,’ he had told her, in tears, ‘to remember you by.’ 
     She left him two: the potted fern he had given her on their thirtieth anniversary, and the little lemon tree that every year bore more than its limbs could sustain, and that, only because she couldn’t get it out of the ground. 
     Her neighbors took a great deal of them. What remained, annuals mostly, she carried in a black trash bag to the dumpsters at the far end of the complex. 
     She tried as she walked to put a figure on the plant’s value, determine what she might have spent over the years on their care. There was no telling. Thousands. They probably could have retired on the money. 
     She lifted the dumpster’s lid and hoisted the bag over the lip. The plants and loose soil made little noise as it fell in with the other trash. 
      A year and a half they had given her. Two Tops. 
     She closed the lid back, the sun bright and hot on her face, and it struck her as funny, to wonder when it would ever rain. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018


It was not an educated guess. Edward (Bun Bun) Taylor’s formal schooling had promptly ceased after a miraculous, possibly fudged, graduation from the State-required Eighth Grade. Not for any practical reasons. Edward just didn’t ‘get’ school, is how he put it. In fact, if eight years had not been required, Edward would have removed himself sooner, which, in truth, would not have upset the teaching staff at Middleton Elementary in the least. They didn’t ‘get’ Edward either.     
     But Edward didn’t need a higher education to determine, from a single glance, that his mother was dead in the passenger seat of his father’s ’05 Caprice Classic. 
     She'd fallen asleep, as she always did, ten minutes into the trip home, doped up and exhausted after her weekly visit to the doctor. On every other occasion, the seatbelt had engaged when she lolled forward, limp with sleep, restraining her in a mostly upright position, where she would simply nod in silence as Edward navigated the Caprice homeward.   
     Perhaps her weight had deteriorated beyond that which the seatbelt’s catching mechanism could recognize. She was so tiny, light and frail that Edward himself had begun to see her as one of those mosquito-like creatures he called Gallinappers, a winged manifestation of dust, dried air and cobweb.    

     Whatever the case, the seatbelt hadn’t caught. Edward’s mother had listed steadily leftward, toward him, until the belt reached its full extension, where she had come to a stop, suspended just above the Caprice's center console.  
     She had rolled in her downward journey, and when Edward glanced at her, his mother was looking up at him, like some kid, goofing, her mouth agape.  
      Edward (Bun Bun) Taylor looked away from his mother's upturned face, back to the road. Traffic was light. He sensed his mother swaying gently in the harness beside him, her eyes opened and rolled back white behind her Solar-Guard sunglasses. He listened to the steady click of his father’s Caprice Classic, its rings long burned from lack of oil, lowered the visor to shield his eyes from the sun and drove his mother home. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018


It was the trees. 
     In April of 2023, Neil Patterson made the discovery. But by then, the Earth had been nearly cleared of humans, the soil rich with their decomposition. 
     Neil had had a hunch. In full respiratory gear, he studied pollen taken from Deciduous and Conifer alike. Maple, Oak, Beech, Pine—all of the samples registered quantities of an allelopathic chemical once found only in leaf sap, a mild herbicide rained down as a means for clearing the soil immediately around the tree of competition for nutrients and water.
    In the pollen, however, Neil tested the chemical at nearly one hundred times the potency of what it had been in the sap. A single blossom, he found, had the capacity to inflict irreparable damage on human lung tissue. Springtime became a massacre.
     The aged fell first, the infirmed and young children.
  They thought it was a virus. Ran tests. Declared emergencies. Countries were quarantined. The dead couldn't be buried fast enough. Five years and Neil began to wonder if he had the Earth to himself. 
     From the quiet of his back porch, he watched now their gentle movements in the breeze, the sway of shadow over the unkempt grass. It was nearing fall. He was safe, for the moment, and smiled, remembering how helpless he had once thought they were, remembering the ambitious young tree-huggers he had known. He wondered if any of them had survived. If, now that the predator was removed, the chemical would weaken and return to the leaf sap—if the gift of clean oxygen the trees had once given freely, would become safe again to breath.
     Six months.
     He could only wait.