If you love, adore the moon. If you rob, steal a camel.

Stories for the Long Silk Road

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Patrick Longe: If I Had One Hundred Centos

Good morning, Houston- this is Radio Gloria broadcasting to you live from the Twin Cities with a special hello today to the Free State of Baltimore. We’d like to take this moment to tell you what we think; lighten up. And, to all you mothers out there mother on. It came through the PA system like had been excerpted from the police radio, it was arranged between some kind of official jargon. Some kind of co-opt of the airwaves. Out there where lingo rules the "thoughts" are known as folks from the Sixties and Seventies who have some kind of ongoing dialectic with the cultural scene. The common ground being that such artistic endeavors are the bedrock of society. Some sorts of legislators I guess feel entrusted with the public good-that exists in the media empire. The message though seemed like some kind of foray into enemy positions. Something like me writing up notes at Uptown Dallas Espresso. Everyone in this story fashions themselves some sort of secret service, and some that are spies too! For IT is Information Technology, and on more pedestrian level the motto is "you're only as good as your information." Today, I'm expounding on the idea that these self-anointed icons of a generation are living on in subsequent variations as youth adopt attitudes. Though they too can be as much duped as anyone by these fascists of the senses. Though many involved for jockeying in positions of influence can be duped themselves, or fronting, and very much less often reality instigators. Interestingly enough there are two sides to this equation-each thinks their import outweighs the other. However, both have the same goal to exert influence. Of course, one side has its beginnings finding toe tag of the Woodstock era. The others just found themselves in the middle of the reach and breadth too much to ignore thru decades. Each would equally claim "product" of which some consciousness played along to and taken note. As they sit across from each other across the governmental divide, the earthmaker is of the middle, or table of hidden agendas (is this sought Third Eye?). This lends itself to thinking that of the million stories in the big city, they're inklings of, let's say the left and right, each of what position and to what person? Perhaps, they would be together satisfied with forgotten memory of acts and actions- each has creeping intuition they have been breached. Where or by whom, of what grouping, what depository? What status of recourse can they develop, is such possible? Have all been set up? There are shadow characters of characters, why not government behind government. In essence, this may be tossed ball seeking to rebound. Similar to the "game" in international affairs where war the currency-each person represents someone or something, and this keeps going and going. It's a kaleidoscope itself, and its parts enough to drive people crazy. It's a spectrum of class distinctions. And, as dear readers, as well as actors of life, can put together own story from the menu of stories, how this became to be, or this person there. And, to top it all off, of these artistes, central to the cultural milieu-what themselves could possibly know of how game pieces are game pieces. Or, perhaps inclined or aligning. Or, maybe just agreed that left hand and right hand can be equal outside of social contacts. A new apartheid of rainbow grouping. Of course, for this to dominate (if we get the head….). Alas, all are alive in the media empire of this story unique to these United States. The middle though, those undulating rebels served in sandwich of themselves-the meat being meat. So live on the Various States of America; pissed, blown away, excited, reading, hysterical, such a hoot, fueled by drunkenness or laughter, or both. And, lest we forget the great population that plays outside these windows of universal view-those with locked closets of the mind, have no idea. This is what keeps things what they are-absurd if to present as actuality. However, whether know it or not, or involved in the idea-the message had become character, life has been invaded by the narrator-the cataclysmic world we know of news, sports fashion, business, etc. Of these with inquiring minds the answer is always well to the next "best yet." This I'm told acknowledged by those on the front lines and that some drag themselves into the quagmire on their own charges (likewise some in pretense). The beauty found is of the new vision framed (the nebulous new order) another event, or song, or stage adds to the discourse. And those of the left, right, middle-all have an eye out-for kindling it is everywhere. And wouldn't you know it's all wiped away for another day (for there are many lulls), the weather the only score. What comes along as in a unique role for each is salt of a bunch of ten-year-olds mixing it up. The illustration digested is that (and in what medium?) are "uptight, why and what for?" And so it's all ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, and they can listen forever on whatever channel receive in brain of narrator invaded, like hearing voices the color wheel of generally so life in the Great Experiment. And they can talk forever, if even only to self (like the devil in the air).

Patrick Longe has been writing poetry since 1987 and most recently published in Haggard and Halloo, Mad Swirl, lightning'd press, lines+stars, Camel Saloon, The Screech Owl and The Blue Hour. Before moving to Tampa in 2000 to be near young children he had always lived in Detroit area. Wayne State University journalism graduate he works in marketing and is active photojournalist.

Monday, May 19, 2014

KJ Hannah Greenberg: The Equipment Maintenance Man

The equipment maintenance man had more than a crush on the hard-nosed theatrical beauty from New York. Her eastern twang endeared her to him and her dynamic display of indignation made her seem the hottest woman he had ever met. During his many years of work in small time theatres, no other starlet, not even those individuals regularly animated during performances, was as vibrant to him as was Gee Gee Parker.

Gee Gee, though, could not be bothered with “minions” such as maintenance workers. Once life’s elevator doors had opened for her, she had leapt out, claiming her share of reality lighting assignments and small, walk on parts. Ever so briefly, she considered, but then rejected, devoting her life to raising funds for retired actors.

The janitor knew that lavatories remained one place in which cameras rarely lit peoples’ choices. Gee Gee merely assumed that no one would use the basement bathroom except for theater troop members. She had smiled weakly at the maintenance man as she had walked past him to get to a stall, never dreaming he’d lock her in.

The hourly wager inhaled his beloved’s protests, hoping against hope that those noises would go on forever. He had always attended her performances and was excited about this private staging. He knew that Gee Gee had missed his sneer when she had run for the toilet.

She was pregnant. She missed a lot of things. Dryfus, who had taken up with the lab assistant of his, who was working on her doctorate, missed a lot of things, too. He had even appointed another graduate student to proctor his midterms so that he could make more time for carnal sport.

Initially, Gee Gee had shadowed the younger woman, but had stopped short of the other’s bedroom, so afraid was she of reptiles. The other woman had brought cold blooded friends along with her when she enrolled in Dryfus’ program.

Sometimes, Dryfus was so preoccupied with his paramour’s exotic “sensibilities” that he forgot what he was teaching, stumbling, midlecture, in front of hundreds of students. Other times, like when emails popped up reminding him to renew professional memberships, or when snail mail, full of alumni announcements, from the departments where he had studied for his three respective degrees, arrived, he remembered that he was a tenured professor, father and husband.

The equipment maintenance man sniggered. He had at last caught his beauty. He rested his chin on his hand and would have remained poised as such had Gee Gee’s husband not walked into the toilet area.

Dryfus had been served papers, by Gee Gee’s lawyer, and had come to the theatre to beg for reconciliation. He meant to use the little known facilities in the basement to cry a bit before going upstairs to look for her.

The janitor dipped his mop in his bucket and wiped the floor. Thereafter, he sponged the sinks. Dryfus watched him.

Gee Gee heard her husband’s voice and footfall. Maybe he could actualize her escape. Her short tenure, on the psychiatric floor of the city’s medical center, which had followed her attempt to simultaneously slit her wrists, ingest pills, and chug down 100 Proof vodka, following her discovery of Dryfus’ dalliance, had been unpleasant.

Gee Gee began to silently cry. She had known that her marriage was troubled before learning about Dryfus’ infidelity. Yet, her psychologist only probed those places that the would-be actress made accessible. Gee Gee had spent literal decades covering traumas. Painting her face, every weekend, in order to deliver two or three lines, during a full length play, was not helping her get past any emotional bottleneck.

The maintenance man began to mop the floor of the farthest stall. He was unsure what he was going to do when he reached Gee Gee’s cage. If he had been able to reach the bathroom’s highest window and to toss Dryfus out, he would have. Maybe the husband would leave on his own. As long as Gee Gee failed to make any noise, she remained a prisoner. Accordingly, the man continued mopping until reaching the stall holding her. He motioned to Dryfus and then pointed to his bucket.

Dryfus nodded, promising to wait on the other side of the bathroom’s entrance. He was in no hurry to search the theatre for his wife. Maybe he could delay with a second comb over.

Billy came into the rest room. He flipped back a door, unzipped, did what was needed, rezipped and washed. He noticed Dryfus. The man’s presence, midday, was curious.

Gee Gee heard Billy’s footfall. Maybe that chum would rescue her. Maybe she should take up with him.

Some thespians bonded over hair styles or nose rings. Other pairs stayed together because of shared adventures in cooking, in karate, or in new math. Billy hadn’t really glommed unto anyone. Gee Gee was one of the few people with whom he exchanged salutations. What’s more whenever she brought baked goods to the theatre, he made sure to take some and to compliment her efforts.

Gee-Gee’s guts spilled over in the same way in which they had when she had eaten bad sushi. She used the toilet, and then, forgetting the goings on, flushed. Thereafter, it was of small matter for her to pound on the door of her stall. Both Dryfus and Billy ran in her direction. The janitor ran the other way.

Minutes later, Gee Gee was liberated. The police were en route. Billy, Dryfus and Gee Gee moved upstairs to the green room, a space to which none of them were entitled. They sipped coffee as they waited.

Dryfus frowned. He had hoped to make short work of locating his wife, to beg and to receive her forgiveness and to return to his graduate student for an afternoon of mortise and tendon.

Billy smiled. When Gee Gee had been hospitalized, he had visited her daily to play chess and bridge. His years of training in economics, plus his familiarity with organized crime, enabled him to discern good investments from bad ones.

It had been Billy who had sent the revealing pictures of Dryfus and the graduate student to Gee Gee. It had been Billy, as well, who had meant to trap her in a bathroom stall. It was a pity that his son had acted first.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Donal Mahoney: Margaret Mary Kelly, 82, Wants to Marry Paddy Regan, 84

Father Brennan had been pastor of St. Ignatius Church for 20 years, a long time for any one priest to remain at one parish. Usually the archbishop would transfer a pastor after he had served seven years. By that time, parishioners might have needed a fresh face and fresher homilies and the pastor, truth be told, might like to see a few new faces himself in the pews every Sunday morning.

That wasn't the case with Father Brennan, however. St. Ignatius was a parish in decline in terms of parishioners and he loved those who were still there, the ones who hadn't moved or passed away. There were only about 60 people left now, most of them widows and widowers as well as one nice elderly maiden who had never married, Margaret Mary Kelly, who studied early in life to become a nun but ultimately decided that life as a nun was not for her. She moved back home to care for her aging parents and did a fine job. Her father died at 84 and her mother at 81. 

Margaret Mary herself now was 82. That's why Father Brennan was surprised to hear--word travels like a rabbit in a small parish--that Margaret Mary was thinking of marrying a widower older than she was, a man named Paddy Regan, 84, who lived in another parish a few miles away. She had never in her life shown any interest in marriage. Nor did she ever have to fight any men off. She was a fine woman not known for her comeliness as much as for her wit and her holiness. 

Father Brennan didn't know what to think.

"Well," he said to himself over a cup of tea, "if Margaret Mary wants to get married, we'll do our best for her. I just hope the groom-to-be is in fine health. The two of them may not realize that in the Catholic Church a couple must be able to engage in sexual intercourse or the marriage would be null and void. I know they have all these medications now to give a man a boost but at 84 a man might need a rocket to get the job done."

Sure enough, two weeks later, Margaret Mary rang the rectory door bell and asked to see Father Brennan. He was about to eat lunch but asked her to come right into his small library where they could sit and talk.

"I'm planning on marrying Paddy Regan, Father, a widower one parish over," Margaret Mary began, "and I thought I should come see you to make the arrangements. At our age, Paddy and I would like to get married as soon as we can. Even though we have no serious health problems, God might call either one of us any day now. So we'd like to take our vows and, as they say, start living happily ever after, however long that might be."

Father Brennan didn't know how to begin to approach the potential problem of the couple's physical readiness to engage in the conjugal act, the Church's official term for sexual intercourse within a marriage. Even if Margaret Mary had brought Paddy Regan with her, it wouldn't have been any easier to approach the subject of Mr. Regan's potency or lack thereof. Father Brennan figured Margaret Mary might be marrying for companionship as might Mr. Regan. Every once in awhile, however, another Hugh Hefner pops up but that had happened only once before at St. Ignatius parish and the man, a legend in the neighborhood, died on his honeymoon, blissful, Father Brennan hoped, at age 87. 

"Well, Margaret Mary," Father Brennan said, "you say you and Paddy are both in good health. Does he get out and about or sit around all day watching TV?"

Margaret Mary didn't know what to say except that Paddy Regan had struck her as being in fine shape, no matter the fact that he was into his eighties. After all, he had been a widower for three years so he must know what he wanted to do. Besides, he had been married twice before and both wives had died of natural causes. The first one had given him six children and the second one had given him another five. All of the children, well into adulthood now, were married, had good jobs and were a joy to Paddy. Besides, he didn't drink or smoke and could dance much younger women to the point of being too tired to continue. Light on his feet, Paddy was. 

Father Brennan's reluctance in getting down to business had a lot to do with knowing Margaret Mary had once studied to be a nun and had spent the rest of her life taking care of her aging parents. She was a very spiritual woman. When possible, she used to bring her parents to daily Mass until they got too sick to come. After both had died, she herself attended daily Mass at 6:30 a.m. and had been doing that for at least 15 years. He doubted Margaret Mary knew much about sex, never mind the Church's requirement that any man seeking to marry had to be capable of having sexual intercourse. There would be no pass for Paddy Regan if he couldn't deliver the goods, as Father Brennan liked to think of it. God bless Paddy if he's up to it, Father thought, and then chastised himself for the unintended pun.

"Well, Margaret Mary, I know that you and Paddy won't be having a family but tell me are you sure he's looking for a wife and not a housekeeper?"

This comment did not sit too well with Margaret Mary, who rustled in her seat.

"Father, I told Paddy Regan there would be no messing around till I had a ring on my finger and we had said our vows. I told him I was a virgin and I would remain a virgin if we didn't get married. The man has had two wives, Father, and 11 children. I don't think he's looking for a housekeeper. He has a daughter who comes over twice a week to clean his house and she does a fine job of it. No, he's looking for a wife, I can tell you that. We have only kissed and hugged but he doesn't kiss me the way he might kiss his sister who, God bless her, is still going strong at 90, having been widowed twice herself. If I had a brother, I'd introduce him to her. A very nice woman."

Father Brennan decided he probably had to get to the point.

"Margaret Mary, your intended has had sex for most of his adult life and this will be something new for you. I imagine you have some idea what to expect if Paddy is still able to make love. Some men at his age aren't capable of doing that any more. You are probably aware of the physical aspects of marriage, I'm sure, and what will be expected of Paddy in the marital embrace." Marital embrace was another term the clergy used when discussing sexual intercourse. 

Margaret Mary took a deep breath, uncrossed her legs and looked Father Brennan right in the eye.

"Father, all we have done is kiss and hug but on his birthday Paddy asked me to sit on his lap and give him a big kiss. Well, if he's not healthy enough to have sex, Father, I wish he had taken that crowbar out of his pocket. Scared the dickens out of me. I almost jumped off his lap. Can we get down to business now and set the date. Paddy and I aren't getting any younger." 

Father Brennan coughed, looked at his desk calendar and said "How about four weeks from now? That will give us time to announce the bans of marriage in church and do everything right. And, of course, I'd like to meet Paddy Regan myself so I'll recognize him at the ceremony. I'd hate to make a mistake and marry you off to the best man."

Margaret Mary Kelly left the rectory that day happy to have the date for her wedding set. 

That night, Father Brennan called another priest a few parishes over and told him about the upcoming wedding without mentioning any names.

They both had a bit of a chuckle and marveled at how hope springs eternal in the people of God, whatever their age. 

Then the other priest, before hanging up, said he'd bet the flower girl will be at least 65. 

Silk Road Mantra

by Suchoon Mo

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road

I go and go

from west to east

I go and go

from east to west

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road


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