It was one of those warm and humid days.
When it’s like that in LA, it is
miserably smoggy, but here
it is just moody and gloomy—no rain—
in the mid-seventies, like me.
Drove and hour to Temple, Texas,
for tests (the answers to which I thought I knew)
and to see a new PA-doc
and then to get gas
and drive another hour back home.
It’s boring sitting and waiting,
but since this is a hospital, boring and routine are good.
No, “I’m sorry, Mister Bill, but … ‘oh, no’.”
I saw nicely dressed police or correctional officers escorting
a mildly overweight bald man in an orange jump suit
and fake shoes
with handcuffs in the front,
all making it hard for others to not stare and wonder.
It was not so boring thinking about that.
Got an obit email that morning.
Another high school classmate had died
(they say he passed to be euphemistic
as though he just kept driving).
Patrick Murphy (Murph)
was an artist and philosopher
of Irish descent, and a Vietnam War vet.
His obituary was more interesting than most.
Anyway, I shall not be
characteristically pointing out problems or deficiencies today
because Murph is dead, and I am not. It’s all good, thanks.
So, I’ll just sit here trying to remember him
from art class, I think,
and be happily bored on a gloomy day
in a hospital clinic waiting area
in Temple, fucking, Texas.
Looking both ways at the days of gloom and doom. Mind the gaps in loose cuffs and I wonder who wipes his butt.
Click the photo of Robin Williams and Matt Damon to watch this scene from the movie, Good Will Hunting.
Last night, as I sat with my extended family, a mixture of baby boomers, Gen X’s, and Millennials, we spoke of haunting experiences: fear intentionally endured for fun. Few of us said we wanted to repeat those ‘fun’ occasions. They were things that fell into the it seemed like a good idea at the time category, but now we wished we hadn’t risked them.
We have learned that Halloween can be fun and scary without doing long term psychological damage. What adrenalin rush is worth the walk into nightmarish darkness? I recall the fun: the costumes, the parties, the doors to knock on, the treats, the stories, and the songs we made up and sang. We were having fun. But when scared, boy did we run!
I recall winning a Halloween party costume contest as an adult. I was not in the best costume. Was I given an honor for courage? Was humor involved? Did my green legs catch the judges’ eyes? No one fears a giant tomato.
What I like about Halloween is that I owe no one anything for it. It has a strange history and a life of its own with unique childish traditions. It is when it is, on the last day of October, followed immediately by November. Halloween has as many bizarre religious undertones as it does silly religious rejections.
With nods to the goths and the goolies, to the vampires and fried eggs, to the ubiquitous hobos and fun folks in clever, challenging outfits, I like Halloween and I know I’m in good, scary, company.
Look both ways on those dark October nights.
Mind the gaps where memories of youth dance and sing because it is time for all of that.
“You may see this again,” our dear and fabulous mistress, Rochelle, forewarned me. For the final October Friday Fictioneers photo prompt, which corresponds with Halloween weekend. She has cast a photographic spell of what I’ve referred to as “Uncle Billy’s Phish Camp.”
Click on the photo to be trailered over to Rochelle’s purple blog camp and stake your claim after gettin’ all learnt up on how-to and the wherefores of pitching your own flash or micro story.
Genre: Pastiche Fiction
Title: Hippie Hollow Hill
Word Count: 100
When I drove up, I noticed what looked like a homeless campsite, population two. It had a Texas style Phish Donuts flag, a teardrop camper, guitar, and some random wires.
As I walked toward the site, I noticed Julie setting up an easel and blank canvas.
She sang, “Come here, Dad, sit and have a cigar.”
“This is band-tastic, baby girl. We love y’all, most sincere. Where’s Billy?”
“Hell, he’s talkin’ to the pink monster. This is the life, Dad — music, art, sunshine, and a knockout view. We’re so happy we cannot count. We call it riding the gravy train.”
Look both ways and try it all.
It’s your life. Live it any damn way you please.
But mind the gaps and tent stakes.
Consequences follow everything.
Gloss: pastiche is a work of art (literature, in this case) that imitates the work of other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche pays homage to the work it imitates, rather than mocking it. In this case, the Pink Floyd (Roger Waters) song “Have a Cigar,” (click for lyrics) which, ironically, is a parody of a record company executive. Billy and Julie are my children, and the prompt photo is of Billy’s campsite located on Julie’s West-Texas ranch.
And finally, the pastiche song as covered by the band, Elephant Revival. If the YouTube does not work, try this hyperlink.
Okay, boys and girls and everyone:
come close—closer—and listen to this.
The odds against us, you, or me,
being viable, of being born, of living on for years,
make it nearly impossible
to have happened at all. Statistically,
the chances that any of us exist is virtually zero.
Therefore, god or no-god,
each person living is by definition
a feckin’ miracle. Existence is miraculous.
We are, each of us, marvelous.
Let’s start acting like it.
Congratulations! Here. Have a cigar.
Look both ways and take in all that is seen.
Mind the gaps because in the game of existence,
their enormity is incomprehensible.
If you are interested, click here to read all about your chances of being.
And, finally, a bit of music: “Have a Cigar” (Pink Floyd) as covered by Elephant Revival.
I returned to your place of business, like I said I would.
A clown-man there told two jokes. At first,
I glared at him to the silent end. The other
I interrupted so I could give you my coffee order.
I allowed him to finish. I again stared
before telling him his joke was unfunny and that his
comedic skills were woefully lacking behind his
overflowing obnoxiousness. Was he your father?
You would not take my money. He paid.
I sat quietly, typed my poem, drank the
Americano and chewed the muffin.
Now I wish I hadn’t. You
did not look at me or say another word. Then,
Sorry. Henceforth, the city library
has much more to offer and
better silence, too. No jokes.
Is Divinely Beautiful your real name?
Tell your father that my low opinion
of him has declined and my vote
is not for sale.
No apology necessary.
Look both ways but think on your feet.
Mind the gaps of silence when the wind passes.
Saturday (June 18th) , I wrote this poem at the Round Rock Writers Guild Word Yoga (poetry) exercise Zoom workshop. My friend, Kathrine, said she wanted to see it here. Who am I to disagree?
Her excellent blog is published at: https://lklatham.com/. Her exceptionally wonderful books of dark, speculative fiction designed to beguile the imagination and convince you the things that go bump in the night are real is sold wherever great lit can be had.
A Moment of Time
My mantra is right here, right now
in this place with my life
that is the sum total
of forty-million moments;
some so frightening
I thought I would die,
others so boring
I thought I would die,
but here I am,
right here, right now,
just me—Mister Bill—
and my 40-million moments,
greedily hoping for
ten or twenty million more,
when frightening or boring
(un)important to me.
Look both ways with awareness of time, but this moment is all we have.
Mind the gaps for good days and bad, as pleasantry is a matter of perspective.