Mac and Chess

Prompted by this photograph.

So Mac and Chess got on the subway at noon. They agreed they were to ride it for twenty-four hours. Once an hour they decided they wanted to meet a new person, and that is what they did. They approached a stranger and said, “Hey, I’m Mac, and this is Chess.” Or they said, “I’m Chess, and this is Mac.” The first person they met was Sabian. He was from South Africa. He was here on a visa and Columbia. He was on his way to meet his new girlfriend, Cassandra. He talked a lot about Cassandra. How beautiful she was. How smart.

Mac said, “I know what you mean. Chess is so beautiful and so smart. I’m a lucky man that she even likes me. And she likes me a lot.”

Chess said, “I do not. You’re just making that up.” She laughed that laugh of hers that Mac loved. Then she hugged him. “No, I love you, you goose.”

Each person they met they found something they had in common. Sara talked about her granddaughter. Chess talked about her sister. They were both blind.

“She’s never seen a day in her life. I can’t imagine. But she sure can play music.” Sara was proud of her granddaughter.

Late in the night around midnight, the car was empty. Chess started this game. “Mac,” she said. “Tell me something about yourself you have never told anyone.”

“Something I’ve never told anyone.” Mac thought, a little bit scared, afraid Chess wouldn’t love him anymore. Then he decided to take a chance, walk out on the tightrope and not worry about the net that wasn’t below him.

“I lost my friend, Charlie, to drugs. I was there when he od’ed.” Tears formed in Mac’s eyes. “I called emergency, then took off. I didn’t stay to keep him company until someone arrived. I was scared.”

Chess squeezed his hand. She didn’t ask all the questions you might expect. She was pretty sure that Mac didn’t use drugs. But curiosity could have driven her to ask anyway.

Mac swiped away his tears. “Now it’s your turn.”

“I stole five dollars from my mother’s purse once. My brother got blamed for it. I wanted this lipstick and I didn’t have the money for it. So I stole it. I’ve never stolen anything before or since. I don’t know what made me do it. I bought the lipstick, but I was so guilty I couldn’t use it.”

Mac saw the guilt in her face, and the pain. He didn’t say anything. He just listened to Chess tell her tale. Only it wasn’t a tale. It was the truth.

Knights used to test their courage in a joust. They did it to see if they had the stuff it took to be a knight. Mac and Chess tested their courage by trusting each other with their deepest, darkest secrets. It started out as a game, then it became deadly serious. And that twenty-four hours they spent on the train, meeting new friends and telling each other their secrets, was the beginning of their long romance.

Last year Mac died from cancer. They were married fifty years. Chess waited for the Man to come and take her as well. She spent much of her time alone in her apartment with the things she and Mac loved. The paintings they collected. The works of famous artists decorated their walls. They were not famous when Mac and Chess bought them.

Chess’ grandkids came to see her and urged her to come and live with one of them. But she couldn’t bear to leave their home of forty years. Every afternoon she sat by the window. From her second floor vantage, she looked out hoping Mac would walk up the sidewalk the way he used to when he was alive.

Soon Chess would walk down that sidewalk and meet him in the park nearby. Then they would catch the subway and ride, meeting new friends and telling each other their secrets.

Friday’s Creator Corner: Robert Hughes, Art Historian

Each Friday I feature a Creative Artist on Friday’s Creator Corner. Creativity is the art of making something out of nothing. I leave the post up for a week, then replace it with another post. After taking it down, I link it to Friday’s Creator Corner Artists page. Today’s Creator’s Corner artist is the Australian, Robert Hughes, historian and art critic:

From Robert Hughes’ “American Visions”.

Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick: The Boxer

It’s Thursday again. You know what that means. Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick. Uncle Bardiie gives a double thumbs up to this week’s selection: “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel:

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were princes. In the midst of all that great rock and roll, in the midst of Dylan and the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, there was these two kids from Queens, New York, giving me some of the most personal songs. The first time I heard “The Sounds of Silence” I knew here were two guys who knew what I was feeling deep down.

I went through that album, hungering for more. Then they gave me “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme” and “Bookends”. When I set the needle down on “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, it was something beyond. A spiritual experience. Each song just right. I flipped vinyl disc over and dropped the needle onto “The Boxer”. Through the years, I have carried this song inside me. It’s gotten me through so much crap. Just about when I want to give up, it’s the boxer in that song that helps me pick myself back up. He’s something else.

Politics in America 35: The Boots Incident 

The President’s boots started the whole thing. The President should have listened and not worn the darn things for the interview. He was just showing off, that he was a man of the people, when he wore them. He could have at least put on a nice new well-designed Sunday-go-to-meeting boot. No, he had to wear the boots he wore to the pig sty he set up on the back lawn of the White House for Bessie Mae Hogg and her cohorts. He sure loved that Bessie Mae.

The majority leader in the Senate, a DoEvie, stood up and made a speech. It wasn’t a speech about the boots but it might as well have been. “We are angry and we’ve been angry for a long time. And for way too long. We DoEvies have been getting the short end of the stick. It’s a power thing, you see. Give everybody some power and no one has any power. There’s only so much of the stuff to go around and we DoEvies are not going to share. Now that we run the world—I mean the Congress.”

The Great Man, the President of the United States, P F Sneaze had had enough of that rabble-rousing. For three long years, that’s all that came out of the mouth of Congress. Rabble-rousing. Since he was a DoNaughty, there wasn’t much he could do about it. After all, it was in the very nature of the DoNaughty Party not to do a thing. That had been what the party was elected on and it was way too long into the Great Man’s first term to change things. But maybe there was a way.

Being a pig farmer, he could sling mud with the best of them. How do you think he became mayor? He would think of something. In the meantime, when asked by the press what he thought about the Majority Leader’s speech, he said in a nonchalant way, “La te da. La te do.”

All the news analysts on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox, CBS, PBS and Aljazeera went nuts, analyzing his La-te-da-La-te-da. As the Big News Guy said, “I’ve heard La-te-das before, but that was some La-te-da.”

The Great Man retreated into the Oval Office for some me-time. When the President sat alone in the Oval Office, the news organizations even commented on that. P F Sneaze didn’t just go into that Office for fifteen minutes of me-time. He stayed in there for days, having his meals sent in.

There was one particular episode when he called out for pizza. The pizza parlor thought he was a joker and harassed him big time for imitating The Great Man. He got so mad he jerked the Red Phone for Delivery Orders out of the wall. It took several hours to be replaced.

In the meantime, the Great Man’s stomach was growling. He was hungry. Finally the Phone was back in operation and the President called again. He said, “You bring me my pizza or I am sending in the Marines, you hear. And no anchovies either.” Then he hung up.

The poor fellow at the other end ’bout wet his pants. He had never tawked to a president and he was scared down to his little booties. Before you can say, “Get the hell out of Dodge,” the pizza was done and sped to the White House and the Oval Office.

It was good and hot when the President took his first bite. It burned the ever living crud out of his tongue and the top of his mouth. That was the last straw. The Great Man, P. F. Sneaze, was ready for the warpath. Do-Naughty or no Do-Naughty there was about to be trouble in River City. You can bet your sweet booties on that.

Next Week We got trouble right here in River City.

Mount Nanowrimo

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerI am standing here, looking down from the summit of Mount Nanowrimo. Of course, Nanowrimo is known to one and all as an abbreviation for the National Novel Writing Month.

It has been a long hard slog but I have made it. 50,505 words of crap tilted “Don in November”. It was my fifth climb and I have to say that this one was not fun. I would like to say that I began this on a dark and stormy night. But that would be stealing from Snoopy. I can’t do that to the beagle who brought down the Red Baron.

I had the stupid idea for a joke that I would write a novel about Don writing a novel in November. Like I say, it was a real stupid idea. As I’ve guessed all along, my life isn’t all that interesting. Now I have the words to prove it. I should have stuck with my original idea of writing a spy novel. That definitely would have been a lot more fun.

At the end of the first week, I was really tired of my life. Since I was doing prompts every morning before I dug into the novel, I decided to see where one of these prompts led. By following this exercise, I ended up with two stories.

The first was a Hilly and Jess story. Hilly was a country singer who was a one hit wonder. After ten years of plugging along playing cheap dives and bad bars, she was getting extremely tired of the road life. Even waitressing would have been better than the road. Just about the time she’s ready to quit, she meets Jess.

Once upon a time, Jess had gone off to Nashville to try his hand at songwriting. ‘Bout the time he started to get the hang of things and had a copy of songs recorded, he had to go back home to help his mother take care of the farm.

These two met. There’s thunder and lightning and the stars were aligned big time. It’s love at first sight. And the rest of the story took off.

The second story was about Hissy Fitt. Hissy Fitt was the daughter of the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”. Hissy Fitt was the one who put the bad in bad witch. She took after her mother, only more so.

Down the road, I’m thinking about rewriting the Hissy Fitt story and posting it here. Maybe some time next year.

So what did I learn. Prompts help to get me through during the bad times. Have a story to work on before starting to climb Nanowrimo. And best of all, I can write 500 words a day in my sleep. The month was productive after all.

Will I do this next year? Am I a wild and crazy guy? We’ll see.