The flowers were planted, all the bushes trimmed. The man stepped back for a moment as he would invariably do. He spent time thinking about each of the six.

As always, the man was overwhelmed. Thoughts, history, sadness, joys, tears, laughter. They all flicked through his mind, in rapid fire sequence like the riffling of a stiff new card deck by a Vegas dealer. These were all very strong people. He could never measure up to them, the man knew. He could be weak. And weakness was a sin. Particularly in their presence. Even here. They would forgive him, of course. They always had. But it was a pardon he never could accept.

He focused for a minute on the grand old man. Some are born patrician. The grand old man was certainly not cut from that cloth. A working man his whole life. Shaped by the trenches. The gas. And then the massive industrial accident that shocked a region. The grand old man knew he had cheated death more times than could be counted. It was precisely because of this that he cared only for and took pure pleasure in simple matters … the warmth of family, the long deep draw of a carefully crafted roll-your-own, an icy beer after a drudgery filled day on the factory floor, a weekend card game with his mates. He wasn’t a religious man to be sure; he had seen more horror in his early years than most have ever witnessed. The grand old man may have been on speaking terms with his Maker, but they weren’t the best of friends. He would begrudgingly forgive perhaps, but he would never forget the horror.

Wiry, often profane, though a friend to all, he would give no quarter. Especially when crossed. If you crossed him, you had better hope Hell was shortly in your future, for surely it was less painful than angering this man.

The child usually perched near the grand old man. The bond was there from the very beginning.

“Come here Sunshine” the grand old man softly called to the child. The tot climbed down from his mother’s knees and quickly covered the few paces to the old man’s easy chair. As the 2-year old watched, wide-eyed, the grand old man poured from his tea cup into his saucer.

“Oh, Dad, don’t give him your tea! He’s too young, he’s still a baby,” the Mother scolded.

“He’s fine,” the grand old man guffawed. “This one can handle anything you throw at him. He’s going to be as tough as nails. He’s one of us.  I know. You’ll see.”

But the Mother never did get to see. It wasn’t her fate.

Of all the tragedies he had witnessed, this was the one the grand old man could never forgive his Maker. There would be a reckoning for this. When the time came and he met his Maker, he hoped he still remembered how to use the bayonet.

“Listen, Sonny. You blow across the saucer like this, so it’s not too hot”.  The old man gently blew across the liquid laden saucer. “Understand?”

With both hands the child firmly grasped the filled saucer. He nodded and then he, too, in perfect imitation slowly breathed out across the rippling tea. Eagerly the child slurped it down, with gratitude and pride in the gift, being especially careful to spill nary a precious drop.

The grand old man smiled and chuckled at his grandson in approval.

Staring at the names and the dates chiseled into the granite, the man smiled, too. At that first memory, no less permanently etched than the letters and numerals in the stone. Forever a part of him.



Seducing Annie (II)

See Part I here

I awoke around noon. It was Friday and the convention was over but I had arranged to stay an extra day to relax. After a quick lunch, I headed poolside for a brief swim and for some rays for my badly hung over and tired body.. After my dip I stretched out on the chaise and relaxed in the warm sunshine. Probably a half hour or so later I awoke from a  light nap and heard some women chatting in the pool. As I casually opened my eyes, I immediately saw it was the cutie from the night before talking with a friend in the water. “Ah, yes” I remembered. Her name was Annie. Almost in the same instant she gave me a smile from the water and swam over to the edge of the pool nearest me. She was wearing a black one piece, but her tits were just perfect. 36c for sure. Full, round, and tight.

In her language she asked “So, are you quite recovered from this morning? I didn’t think I’d see you so early”.

Pretty much tongue-tied I smiled back wanly. “Oh, I’m ok. A little tired. How are you?”

“I’m fine” she replied. “It’s my day off. But you don’t look so good” she said with a wink.

We chatted some more. The words from both of us began to come more easily. She definitely was enjoying our conversation. I mentioned that I was going for a run to clear my had a little later … maybe 5 or 6 miles. Annie told me the small cute village up the road from the hotel was just about 3 miles.

“Great”, I said. “There and back will be perfect.”

And with that she said good bye and swam off to be again with her friend. I grabbed my towel, headed back to the room to change into my running gear.

See Part III here

Half Life

This has not been a good winter. The weather here has been non stop cold and tempestuous. For the first time in memory I am so ready for spring. And my emotional and mental state ought to be quite fragile. My whole world has been assaulted from every front. And yet I am holding up well. Too well I’d say.

Despite all the sadness to come my way recently, there have been no tears. None. Barely a fight to even stop any welling. I am serene almost. And I’m no Buddhist. And I don’t sleep. This is not my way. Perhaps it was the preparation. Or past history. Somehow I have buried all the wrenching raw feelings I should have in some far away locked-down recess of my mind. Apparently not even I have the key. Personal sorrow earlier I took in stride. Like it was an everyday occurrence.

The day my plane should have left, it barely registered on me. It was just not going to happen. That’s just how it is, and let’s move on.

All this raw emotion is buried deep in personal bedrock like waste radioactive nuclear fuel. I wonder what its half life is?Vogtle_NPP

Seducing Annie (1)

I was recently thinking fondly about Annie, a past lover. I met Annie many years ago at a convention where English was not readily spoken. Several of my colleagues and I were out on the town very late, and as we returned to the hotel, walking past the front desk, I noticed this very attractive woman behind the counter. She was smiling at us as we passed.

I stopped in my tracks, arrested by her beauty. Brunette with short hair, roundish face, dark eyes, a beauty spot on her lower cheek, and sumptuous figure.  In my less than perfect foreign language I began, aided by 7 or 8 drinks in my belly, the flirtation. My colleagues bid me good night and, with a chuckle, good luck.

Each time I ventured with a new verbal advance, she smiled sweetly, parried and shook her head. After 2 hours, even to my muddled brain, I was getting nowhere. Beyond being her late night entertainment of course.

But the dance continued. Never say I give up easily. Then, precisely at 7:03 am, she smiled once more, said good-bye, and up and left. It was time to go home.

It was time for me to go to bed.