The View

Manny and Hazel are a couple who have been married for 35 years. They are touring Europe for the first time. They are in Berlin and standing at the top in the dome of a government building. Hazel loves the view.

Manny, this is some view.

It ought to be. They spent a fortune on it.

C’mon, Manny, don’t be a spoil sport.

Who? Me? A spoil sport? I’m just pointing out the facts.

Why don’t you just enjoy the view?

We liberate these people from the Nazis. Spend a fortune. It’s cost us I don’t know how many lives. And they don’t pay us back.

Now, Manny, these Germans are nice people.

Under all those nice clothes we’re seeing are people that still owe us money.

Geez. Sometimes, Manny, I don’t know why I do it.

Do what?

Drag you along on these excursions. You’re nothing but a sourpuss. You know that?

Yes, Mrs. Sunshine. You never ever rain on my parade.

When do I rain on your parade? Tell me?

When I go play golf.

You know golf is such a stupid game. Now bridge, that’s a game.

Is not. It don’t take no skills to sit on your butt and play cards. Any doofus could do it.

You try it and see if it takes no skill. You’ll see.

I am not going to play bridge. I don’t care what you say. Oh, look. I can see where the Eiffel Tower.

See. I told you it was a nice view.

At least, we didn’t pay for it.

Manny smiles and takes his wife’s hand.

Long Distance Romance

She’s in Montana
Playing with the cats
Thirteen or more
Just to be exact

I’m in Florida
Watering the plants
Filling the bird bath
Fighting the ants

She left in August
Before the hurricanes
California’s in a drought
Florida had the rain

Now she’s snowed in
Winter’s all the fuss
No time to leave
Montana in the dust

It may be summer
Or even the spring
Could it be Christmas
When I see her again?

The Lovers

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.

“Such a beautiful rainbow,” Melanie said to Walt.

“I made it just for you,” Walt said to Mel.

“You didn’t,” she said. “You can’t make a rainbow.”

“Oh, you think not,” he said, squeezing her hand just a little to show his love. “I spent several years at the rainbow-making school. I was their star pupil.”

“Were not.” She laughed. She liked it when Walt made up stories just for her.

“I was.”

They two stared at the rainbow, thinking beautiful thoughts. Walt thought about a Mel who could walk, Mel thought about a Mel who could walk. And they were very very happy.

Mac and Chess

So Mac and Chess got on the subway at noon. Chess was always coming up with great ideas. She had come up with this one at the snap of Mac’s fingers. He agreed they’d ride the subway it for twenty-four hours. Mac suggested they meet a new person once an hour.and that is what they did I.

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. 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. 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.

They were married fifty years. Last year Mac died from cancer. 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.

Their grandkids came to see Chess and urged her to come and live with one of them. But she couldn’t bear to leave their home. 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.


For Jack, 7:58 on a Tuesday evening is not 7:58 on a Monday or a Wednesday evening. At 7:58 on a Tuesday evening, Barbara walks out on her husband, Jack, leaving Jack and Barbara behind forever.

“Why are you doing this?” Jack yells out at the cab as it pulls out into the street.

She sticks her head out of the taxi window and yells back, “Because I can.”

Jack goes to the kitchen cupboard and pulls out a bottle of whiskey, fills a large glass, takes it into the living room and turns on Jeaopardy. By the time he finishes his glass, it’s Final Jeopardy. “Oh, I know the answer to that one,” he screams at the tv.

At 8:58, he pulls himself out of the chair and into the kitchen and makes a sandwich the way he liks it and the way Barbara never made it, ham and cheese whiz and mustard. “That’ll kill you,” she always said.

Kill him or no, he’s partial to it. Since he had no vote in the decision for the marriage hasta la vista, he decides the occasion requires a second cheese whiz sandwich and the rest of the bottle. Sitting in his chair, he flips through the channels until he comes to Divorce American Style. On the screen, Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Reynolds are as American as any American s can be.

It strikes Jack funny that here is Princess Leia’s mom with Mary Tyler Moore’s husband. Jack slurs out, “If they can’t make a marriage work, who can?”

He picks up his guitar and remembers the line from a song, “I got the blues, and it’s one blues too many.” He’s not singing the words. He is crying them.

At 7:58 Wednesday morning, Jack wakes up, stretched out on the carpet, one side of his head suffering a headache, the other one hell of a hangover. He turns off the remote and does what he always does at 7:58 on Wednesday morning. He runs the shower, the cold water washing him clean of the previous night. By 8:58, he’s ready for the start of a new day, headache and hangover and all.

Wednesday evening at 7:58 is not 7:58 Tuesday evening. So Jack sits in his chair with a photo album of memories. Jack and Barbara, high school sweethearts; Jack and Barbara at the prom; Jack and Barbara, on summer vacation at camp in the Pocconos; Jack and Barbara, at the altar, saying their I-doeses; Jack and Barbara in Paris on their honeymoon; Jack and Barbara with little Annie and her cute baby smile; Jack and Barbara with five-year-old Annie off to kindergarten; Jack and Barbara and Annie next to Annie’s first bikes; Jack and Barbara and Annie at the Yellowstone geyser; Annie in her prom dress, standing next to her handsome date; Jack and Barbara and Annie at her high school graduation; Jack and Barbara Jack saying goodbye to Annie as she went off to college; Annie graduating summa cum laude; Jack and Barbara at Annie’s wedding; Jack and Barbara saying goodbye to Annie and Tom moving to Europe.

“I got the blues; and it’s one blues too many,” he sings, accompanying himself on the guitar, realizing this song is nobody’s songs but his own.

On Saturday evening at 7:58 a month or so later, he grabs his guitar, jumps in his silver Nissan and drives down to the neighborhood pub. He’s there just in time to sign up for the 9:58 open-mic slot. At the mic, he twangs, “I got the blues, and it’s one blues too many.”

After his set, a man in a suit and tie takes Jack aside. “How would you like to go into show business?”

Next thing it’s 7:58 on a Tuesday evening in a recording studio. The producer says, “This’ll be the last take.” Jack sings into to the mic, “I got the blues, and it’s one blues too many.”

A month later on a Tuesday evening at 7:58, his manager, the guy in the suit and tie at the pub, calls him, “You’ve got a number ten with a bullet.”

“Is that good?” Jack asks.

“It’ll be numero uno before you know it.”

Six months later on a Tuesday evening at 7:58 at a large venue, Jack starts, “I’ve got the blues, and it’s one blues too many.” He looks down from the stage. In a front row seat, there’s Barbara cheering him on.

That Tuesday evening at 9:58, Jack walks off the stage. His roadie says, “There’s a woman wants to see you. Says she’s your wife.”

For a moment or two until 10:00, Jack feels the anger running through him, then he lets go of it. He’s in too good of a mood. “Show her into my dressing room. I only have a few before it’s time for the second show.”

In the dressing room, Barbara asks, “So, how’s the good life.”

“You’re the last person I expected to see. I know you ain’t here to beg for anything. So, why did you come?”

“To tell you how proud I am of you.”


“Yes, you’ve finally lived up to the potential I always thought you had. All you had to do  was get up off your rump, chunk those cheese whiz sandwiches, and apply yourself.”

“You must not have had much faith in me. You left me. Forever.”

“You had dug yourself into a hole and needed to dig out. So I threw you a shovel. You forgive me?”

He leans over and kisses his wife. “I guess I can. Yes, I do.”

Barbara and Jack  embrace like they have never embraced before.

There’s a knock on the door. “Five minutes,” the roadie says.

At 10:02, Jack walks on stage and starts the pick a-going on the guitar, singing, “I got the blues, and the blues came down my chimney. I got the blues, and it’s one blues too many. I got the blues and my blues just got friendly. I got the blues, I’ve got cheese whiz aplenty. Just pass the mustard please.”