Near 500 words: Ancestors

The woman in the door of the wooden hut stood before Rufus. Her dark hair and her brown eyes were full of life though her life was hard.

Her focus reminded Rufus of the last time he saw his father. It was late at night and the old man sat at his desk, studying a photograph of his father who had been gone some thirty years. There was a light in the old man’s eyes. It wasn’t the light from the table lamp. It was another kind of light. It was the light of memory.

Or was it more? Was it the light of someone who has experienced some piece of the divine in his life? Rufus’ father never spoke of his father.

“Can I have some water?” Rufus asked the woman in the doorway.

The woman smiled. Instead of water, she invited him inside her one-room house. A house that was spotlessly clean. In the corner was an altar to some god or other. He didn’t ask since he knew it would be as rude as asking his father about his grandfather. She brought him a cup of tea and offered him a seat on one of the three wooden chairs.

Rufus took out his camera and pointed to it. “Can I take your photograph?”

The woman blushed, then shook her head yes.

Rufus pointed and snapped several pictures. Then he finished his tea. He thanked her for her hospitality.

It was a brief encounter but not as brief as the night he saw his father studying the photograph of his father.

As he walked up the path away from the woman’s house, he missed his father and his grandfather. Perhaps in another life. Perhaps.

Advertisements

Near 500 words: The King of Wands

Katherine looked into her daughter’s dark eyes. She loved the face with its smile and the blonde hair under the white bonnet. “The King of Wands is coming home,” she said.

Darla went into a little dance, her face all lit up like a Christmas tree trimmed in lights. She was a whirling dervish dancing before her mother, excitement pouring from her ten-year-old body, singing, “The King of Wands is coming home.” So much joy for a sailor who never stayed home. Then Darla stopped her dancing. “Will he stay this time?”

“Probably not,” Katherine answered.

Darla’s shoulders dropped. “Just like the King of Wands.”

Katherine was not happy. But she did not share her unhappiness with Darla. She was tired of the man who checked in for a couple of weeks, then was off for months. For fifteen years, Katherine endured. Each time he came home she hoped this was the last time he went away.

She tired of the life she lived, so she met another man a few days earlier. Horace was an older man, a widower of ten years. They were shopping for vegetables. Her hand went for the potatoes. His hand went for the potatoes. It was an absent-minded, accidental thing for the both of them.

“Sorry.” Horace drew back his hand.

Katherine managed to get out, “’S’okay.”

Neither knew what to say. So they said nothing for the next few minutes. They just stared into each other’s eyes.

Then Horace broke the silence. “You come here often?”

“Most everyday,” the words stumbled out of Katherine. “I like our vegetables fresh. And you?”

“Only occasionally. It’s on my way from the doctor’s.”

“Are you okay?” Concern entered Katherine’s voice, concern for the tall, white-haired man standing in front of her.

“It’s just my semi-annual physical.”

Relieved, Katherine let out a sigh.

“Would you like to get a glass of wine?” Horace let out. “I hear they have very good wines at the café next door.”

Katherine’s face blushed. No man had asked her out for years. Or perhaps they had tried. She ignored them because of her devotion to the King of Wands. Then she smiled. “Why not.”

At the café, the two laid their lives out on the table. At the end of the conversation, Horace asked, “Would you like to go to see a film? One afternoon, that is?”

Katherine’s pulse was racing. Her thoughts were “When?” But she did not let on to this. She simply said, “Maybe. What did you have in mind?”

“There’s a movie theater that shows classics and foreign films nearby.”

“I know the place.” She didn’t but she would find it.

“Next week they are showing ‘Jules and Jim’. It’s Truffaut.”

“I love Truffaut.”

“Then next Wednesday we can meet here at noon, have lunch, then see the film.”

“You’re not a sailor, are you?” she asked.

“I’m afraid not. I get seasick.”

As they readied to part, she let the older man kiss her on the cheek. Then she returned to the grocer for her vegetables. Darla would be home from school soon.

And so would the King of Wands. For the last time.

haiku for the day: the adventure

This one came to me as I watched the movie, “Barefoot in the Park”. It’s a romantic comedy about a newly-wed couple, played by Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. After their wedding at the courthouse, they spend six days in a five-star hotel. Then Redford goes off to work while Jane goes to the new apartment that neither has seen. It’s amazing what climbing six stories of stairs can do to a relationship.

relationships they
are magical one moment
the next who’s to know

The Camera

“Just aim and shoot,” Paulie said to his girlfriend. “That’s all there is to it.”

“Yeah, says you,” she said. She was not good at all with mechanical things. A camera was a mechanical thing. An instrument. She had a long history of breaking things. In high school, she broke her biology teacher’s favorite microscope. It was an accident but she had a hard time not getting expelled. She never got back in her teacher’s good graces, barely passing with a D. Now her boyfriend was telling her that operating a camera was easy peasy. No way. She didn’t dare touch it. It would break just to spite her.

“C’mon, Emily,” he said, handing her the camera.

It was such a nice camera. It must have cost a bunch. She, for sure, did not want to break it. She pushed his hand away and shook her head. “You have no idea how easy it will be for me to break it.”

“You’re not going to break it,” he insisted. Was he being foolish or what? Of course, she would break it if she took it.

For all the money in the world, she was not going to touch the camera. Not for all the money in the world. “No,” she said. Tears were forming in her eyes. She was about to cry. As the old saying goes, she was between a rock and a hard place, and she was not getting out anytime soon.

He opened her hand and set the camera in it.

It wasn’t as heavy as it looked. Her hand shook. “Stop, hand,” she commanded it.

The camera seemed to like her hand. How ‘bout that. It was unbelievable.

Then the camera spoke to her, “You drop me and you’re a dead woman.” If you’ve never been threatened by a camera, it’s a scary thing.

 

For the Birds

 

A couple sits on a balcony overlooking New York City. They are eating their breakfast. A pigeon is on the balcony’s ledge looking at the couple. The couple are looking at the pigeon.

Carla, the bird, says, “Okay, guys. Here’s your agenda for today.”

“Joe, I can’t believe we are taking orders from a bird.”

“Jill, this bird has made me a fortune. Before Carla here, I was bankrupt. Carla comes into my life and within weeks I am rolling in dough.”

“Okay, guys. Here’s the plan.”

“I don’t know, Joe. Seems real stupid to me. Don’t you know your own mind?”

“Of course, I know my own mind.”

“Hey, guys. Listen up.”

“Joe, it don’t seem like you do.”

“Jill, I can make my own decisions. It’s just that Carla does a much better job. She doesn’t let things get in the way.”

“Guys, you want me to leave. I’ll do it, you know.”

“Jill, you got to quit doubting my decisions.”

Carla up and flaps away.

“And my decision is to follow Carla. By the way, have you seen Carla this morning?”