A Perfect Life of Sevens

Another pickin’ and grinnin’ lyric.

Seven bridges under a blue sky
Seven days till tomorrow
Seven angels to watch over us
Seven roses ’bout to grow

Seven wishes hidden in a well
Seven faeries left last May
Seven dancers and their seven songs
Seven guitarristas play.

Every day, every night
As we rise for flight
Our dreams lift us on our way

Above the blues and greens
And the colors in between
We fly along our way

Seven stones ripple ‘cross the water
Seven stars kiss the moon
Seven stories needing to be told
Some come later, some come soon

Seven winters and their snowy fields
Seven summers almost heaven
Seven autumns and seven springs
Just a perfect life of sevens.

Every day, every night
As we rise for flight
Our dreams lift us on our way

Above the blues and greens
And the colors in between
We fly along our way.

The Water and the Sea

Tally did not know his fore from his aft, his port from his starboard. Not that it mattered that he know something of ships. That was for others to know. He was not a sea man, and he wasn’t a sailor.

He came on the cruise to please his wife. Mara thought it would do him good to get away from everybody, including herself. “A good oceangoing voyage might just be the thing,” she said. It would break the melancholies he wore like a suit of clothes. Since the death of his friend, Breaker, they had their way with him. It was his way of coping.

So he chose to return from Breaker’s funeral in London by ship. It had been an uneventful voyage so far. Three days of moping around the decks, then sitting on deck and watching the tides in an easy rise and fall. Rising and falling like Breaker himself.

He had first met Breaker in his freshman year of college. Breaker showed up at every party Tally attended. What would be a boring affair suddenly became a blow-out. When Tally was a sophomore, Breaker was a junior, and his roommate. They had become close. Breaker would share all  his dreams. Until Tally met Breaker, he never had many dreams for his future. He’d picked the path of least resistance. He was going to be a cpa. “That’s no life,” Breaker sai. Of course, he was right.

So Tally followed Breaker into the Peace Corps. When Tally finished his time with the Corp, Breaker was already a war correspondent for CBS. Tally decided wars were not for him. Instead he went off to Africa and started a safari business. There he met Mara just about the time Breaker married his English wife, Pamela. Next thin g he knew Breaker was off to Israel. He and his wife were in kubutz.

Mara was pregnant, so Tally sold the business and took his wife and new baby back to the states. That was when he got in on the internet craze and sold his new software company for several million dollars. It seemed that Tally had found that he had a knack for making money. Every so often Tally would hear a new story of his hero. Breaker was always in some place new doing something Tally would never think about doing. Breaker had become something of a legend in Tally’s family.

Then, at forty, a phone call came from London. It was Pamela. “Breaker’s dead,” she said.

“How?” Tally asked, tears in his eyes.

“Suicide. Can you fly over? He wanted you at the funeral.”

“Sure,” Tally said and took the next plane over to England. Tally had been surprised at how well Pamela held up at the funeral. Afterward she gave him a big hug and went back to her apartment for her own private grief.

On the voyage back to the states, Tally took in all that had happened since he first met Breaker. He would not be the man he was if not for Breaker. He would not have believed that he could have a life that was not dull and ordinary. He would not have Mara and the kids. He would not have the friends he had, and the adventures he had lived. Now that Breaker was gone, what was he to do. He was forty. Now suddenly he had no future.

Sitting in a deck chair, he closed his eyes and slipped off to sleep. Everywhere there was water. No sky or land, just water. He opened his eyes.

He walked over to the edge. The sea before him was like glass. Possibly he might walk on the sea. He gazed out at the sea and sky. A dark blue with light only from the ship. And the quietness. He listened and all he heard was the humming of the ship’s engine. What if he stepped off the deck of the ship and onto the sea? Now that would be a happy thing.

A hand reached from behind him. “Don’t,” a voice said. Tally turned and there was no one there.

“What the hey?” Tally asked.

He went back to his deck chair. Where there was only dark blue sky a few moments ago, now there were stars. He didn’t count but he estimated a million and seven. Why a million and seven? Just because.

Then he saw Mara’s face. Not in the stars, not in his imagination. She looked out at him from where she was. She was crying, her face pleading with him. All through the last couple of weeks he had forgotten her. He had only been thinking about Breaker. And his loss. Now there she was and what he was thinking really hurt Mara.

Right then and there he discovered he had a future. It was Mara.

Sleeping Beauty, the Real Story

We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty. A prince kissed her to wake her up from a one-hundred-year long nap. Kind of makes Rip Van Winkle look like an amateur. There was such a sexual attraction between the two that they immediately did the deed. She did not fake her orgasm. When you’ve gone without for one hundred years, any prince will do. If not a prince, a carpenter or a woodsman, even a kitchen knave. Then came the marriage and they lived happily ever after.

That’s the story anyway. The one that the prince’s press agent put out for public consumption. When you’re a prince, you’ve got to keep up your image. But the story wasn’t true. Just look at Prince Charles. As soon as the public heard about the scrap he had with Diana, his poll numbers went down, not just in onesies and twosies but in decades.

A prince couldn’t afford to have his image tarnished like that. Especially in the olden days. Pretty soon there’d be a ruckus in the kingdom, the common folk in an uproar, and the prince hightailing it for God-knows-where. Don’t believe me? Just look at King John. In 1215, he had a Magna Carta shoved up his rump.

It is true how Beauty ended up in bed for that one hundred years. Her Mommy and her Dads gave a humungous eighteenth birthday gala for the Princess, the apple of their eye, the darling of the kingdom’s town crier society. When everybody’s back was turned, the Wicked Witch of the West, yes that witch, spiked Beauty’s chalice of Kickapoo Joy Juice with a mickey.

Why she did it, no one seems to know. Speculation is the Land of Oz had gotten boring and she had way too much time on her hands. What better way to bring excitement to her lackadaisical life than to show up in another fairy tale and mess things up royally for the fairy princess. Otherwise she had to go and tangle with Dorothy, and Dorothy was more than a handful.

Even though Beauty hated the taste of the Kick, she had manners up the wazoo. Etiquette said that a princess didn’t refuse a drink at her own birthday bash. So she sipped, then she was out like a light. Folks at the party thought she was dead. The royal doc advised the king and queen she was only asleep.

Wicked Witch didn’t want to kill the sweet young thang. She wasn’t a murderer. She just wanted to create some mischief. The potion would make Beauty sleep until a prince came along and kissed her ruby reds. I’m not talking shoes here. I’m talking lips.

Mommy and Dads Royal laid their precious child in a glass coffin for all to see and put her on an IV for nourishment. Then they sent for princes. Few showed. The few who showed weren’t about to kiss a princess in a coma no matter how lovely she was. They were afraid they would catch whatever she caught.

Time passed as it was bound to. Mommy and Dads died. The kingdom was taken over by a Regent. Regent wasn’t about to surrender his regency. He moved the coffin way out of sight. His thoughts on the matter: “Out of sight, out of mind.” An adviser suggested he do her in, but he wasn’t about to commit regicide. Regicides have consequences.

Pretty soon a hundred years passed. All that time Beauty dreamed. Being a beautiful princess, there wasn’t a nightmare among the bunch.

In her dreams, there were wonders her waking life never suspected. Paris in the springtime and walks by the Seine. Old Kyoto with its temples and cherry blossoms. Strolls by the fountains of Rome. Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. And oh, the food she ate. Sushi in Tokyo. Pizza in Rome. Koushari in Cairo. Paella in Barcelona. Not once did she gain a pound. It was heaven.

One particular dream put a huge smile on her face. There was this kingdom that needed a princess. It had snow ice caps and meadows with the loveliest of flowers. The people were all dressed in their traditional garb. No suits and ties for the guys or no formal dresses for the gals like it had been in her Daddy’s kingdom. It was love at first sight when Beauty saw the place. She volunteered to be their princess.

“Now that we have a princess,” the king, with his gentle eyes, kind smile and long white beard, said, “we need a prince.”

“But, Sire, we do have a prince,” his adviser said. “Remember he was turned into a frog by that Wicked Witch of the West. If our little princess kisses him on the lips, he will snap back to his princely self. And we can have a wedding.”

“Well, where is he?”

“Last we saw him he was down at the pond with all the other frogs. We’re not exactly sure which one he is.”

“You know what that means?” the king said.

“It means the princess is going to have to kiss a lot of frogs,” the adviser said, then turned to Beauty. “You willing to do that?”

She smiled and agreed. “Sacrifices must be made.”

The local frog-caller did his thing. Pretty soon a line of frogs waited for a smooch. And smooching there was. Beauty must have kissed a thousand frogs. The final frog, a rather handsome fellow, if a frog can be considered handsome. This frog approached Beauty, bowed politely and jumped up on her lap. She leaned down to kiss him, then—

She woke up. This old guy stood over her, slobbering all over her mouth. “Son of a bitch, why the whatever did you want to do that for?” she screamed and sat up.

“I’m your Prince Charming.” The old guy was shocked. After that incident with Cindy Rella and the shoes, he had spent fifty years searching for Miss Right. Here she was and she was not happy. He’d done the right thing. He’d chanced getting whatever she had and falling into a stupor. Now she too was rejecting him. What was a Prince Charming to do?

She pushed PC away.”You’re not my prince. No wonder I woke up. What with your b.o. and halitosis. You need to see a doctor for that stuff. And have you taken a look at your face lately? Warts.”

What happened next? It’s a sad tale. Prince Charming returned home to his castle. There he lived until he was one hundred and seventy-five. He died of a broken heart.

And the fate of Princess Beauty? She went in search for that one-in-a-million frog. Every time she came across a frog she picked the creature up and kissed it. Some say she is still searching. So, if you see a lovely young lady in your part of town kissing frogs, leave her alone. It’s just Beauty trying to find her Beastie.

Leave well enough alone

Windmills. Don Quixote saw windmills. He fought windmills. He lost to windmills. What would it be like to live under a windmill? It wouldn’t be quiet. Every time the wind blows there would be a constant whirling. Yet Jasmine wanted a windmill.

Chris tried to talk her out of it. Nope. There was no talking her out of it.

“Why do you want a windmill?” he asked her.

“I had a dream when I was a kid.”

“There you go. You and your dreams.”

Time and time again she brought up her dreams. When they first met, she had dreamed she was going to marry an engineer. Chris was an engineer.

They bought cars based on her dreams. They went on vacations to places that appeared in her dreams. One time they even had sex based on a dream. It was a position she saw in the dream.

Now this. They were going to spend a fortune for a house underneath a windmill. And it wasn’t even that good of a windmill. There were parts of it falling down. One blade rested vertically in the ground. It was older than the house. An older house had been torn down and replaced by the current house.

That night Chris had a dream. And it scared the hell out of him. Initially he had chalked the dream up to worry. But it came back three, four times. As long as Jasmine wanted that house, he knew the nightmares would not go away.

He told her his dreams. She just laughed. “I’m the dreamer in this family,” she said.

“Well, I’ll buy the house. But I’m not living there.”

“You have to,” Jasmine insisted. When she insisted, she usually got her way.

So Chris bought the house. That first month, no dreams for Chris. Nothing happened in the house. Then Chris began work on the windmill while Jasmine worked on the house. Chris took six months off from his job to do the work. He hired an architect, a contractor and several men to do the work as he oversaw things.

The blade stuck deep in the dirt needed to be pulled out and remounted. Chris wasn’t sure how that the blade had ended a third deep into the ground. It must have been a strong force that plunged that blade into the earth.

The architect, the contractor and Chris sat over plans for several days, discussing ways of getting that blade out. They brought out a bulldozer and mounted a chain to the blade. The blade would not move.

Jasmine came out to where the men worked. She took one look at the chain and the bulldozer. She took Chris aside. “Don’t,” she said.

“Don’t what?”

“Leave the blade alone,”

“Leave the blade alone?”

“Yes,” Jasmine said.

“But it’s got to go. Without a new blade, the windmill will not rotate properly.”

“I don’t care,” she said.

Chris went back to the others. “Okay, guys. Leave the blade be.”

The work continued on the windmill for another month. But Chris was continued to be concerned about the blades.

One morning, over coffee, Jasmine said, “My mother’s sick.”

“Is it serious?”

“I have to go and see her. The doctor says she only has weeks to live.”

“Then you should go.”

Chris watched his wife drive away. Then he went back to the windmill. The stairs and the floor were almost done. For the next three days, the work went well. Chris worked from sun-up to sunset. Each night before he went to bed, he talked to Jasmime about  the windmill, telling her of the progress he was making.

The morning of the third day, he looked at the blade in the ground. He decided the blade had to come out. The next day the contractor brought in the bulldozer and a pulley. The first time they tried, the chain snapped. The second time, the blade moved, then a second chain snapped. Finally, the third chain held and the blade gradually pulled loose.

When Jasmine had not heard from Chris for three days, she began to worry. Her phone calls were not answered. Then it hit her. He had gone ahead and pulled the blade loose.

“Oh, no,” she said. “He let them out.”

Near 500 words: The Sixties

The Sixties are a long time gone but lately I have been remembering. During the 1960s, it seemed like everywhere you turned, there were larger-than-life personalities. Not celebrities but people who moved mountains. Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, Muhammad Ali and Joe Namath.

Every night we turned on the TV and there was Uncle Walter and Johnny Carson to guide us. Carol Burnett made us laugh our booties off. Alan Shepard and John Glenn flew into the outer reaches of space. John Kennedy inspired us to do better for our country and the First Lady showed us style. Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, Billy Graham and the Maharishi quenched our spiritual thirst. Even in the Soviet Union, there was Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

No matter what your political persuasion, there was someone for everyone. Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy for the liberals, Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley for the conservatives. And Che Guevara for the radicals.

Ralph Nader, Betty Friedan and Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Cesar Chavez dreamed big dreams and shared them with the world. The times were changing. Utopia was just around the corner.

We landed a man on the moon and celebrated our freedom at Woodstock. Then the party came tumbling down with a thud at Altamonte.

By the end of the decade, our innocence was buried in the harsh reality that utopias always end in dystopia. Captain America was shot off his mototcycle. The Beatles broke up and Sgt Peppers disbanded his band. That day in April,1970, was more than the day the music died. It was the day our hearts were broken. It was the day the earth opened up and swallowed our hope.

All we were left with was Richard Nixon and Vietnam, and Superman was only a comic book and Batman a TV show. All we were left with was Kent State, OPEC, Watergate, stagflation and the Brady Bunch. The Seventies brought us plop back down to earth. It was like we had been dropped on our heads and we had a hangover like all get-out.

Then came Camp David and “the City Upon a Hill” of Ronald Reagan. The Berlin Wall came crashing down. For one brief moment, there was a Middle East Peace Accord. Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands. For one brief, shining moment, Camelot was shining again. Only to be brought back to our senses by Y2K and 9/11.

But we can never forget those bonfires of hope shining from the Decade That Was: the Peace Corps and Earth Day, Woodstock and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. And we still dream of a better world. It’s just going to be a long time coming. As Jessie Jackson says, “Keep hope alive.”