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The Fisherboy’s Follies

 Or

 A Portrait of the Fisherman as a Young Man (A Romeo in Hormones’ Clothing)

Characters
(Main characters in boldface)

Sea Captains 1,2,3
Charlie Marigold
Mr. Marigold

Mrs. Marigold
Friendly Family Father
Frienldy Family Mother
Maya, the Girl of Charlie’s Dreams
Devil Fish
Righteous Fish


Scene One (In which Mr. Marigold gives some good advice)

Sea Captain 1: Something happens.

Sea Captain 2: Some other things happen.

Sea Captain 3: A fish winks at a lobster.

Sea Captain 1: It is early springtime in Kumbaya, Maine. The locals are preparing for the onslaught of tourists and vacationers. Yar.

Mr. Marigold: Hey Charlie, come ere, I wanna show ya somethin’.

Charlie: What is it, Dad?

Sea Captain 1: Charlie, a young fisherman learning the ropes, comes running down the dock to greet his father.

Mr. Marigold: You see that sea, Charlie? You’re still young but you can still see, can’t ya’?

Charlie: Sure I can see.

Mr. Marigold: Look past all of it, Charlie. Way out past the horizon there. Squint if ya’ have ta.

Charlie: (squinting) What am I looking for?

Mr. Marigold: Look past the sunspots and past the illusions; past all the grim monkey faces and graceful ballerinas …

Charlie: Um.

Mr. Marigold: There’s heaven and hell out there Charlie. Mark my words and don’t you forget ‘em. If ya wanna be a fisherman like your old man someday, you have to start learnin’ to distinguish between the two.

Sea Captain 2: Charlie smiles wide and grabs a medium sized trout from a bucket. He smacks his Dad across the face with it.

Charlie: (yells as he runs away) Sounds more like I oughtta be learnin’ to distinguish between sanity and madness.

Mr. Marigold: (yells after his son) Very well, boy! You’ve been warned! … Nice fish slap, son!

Scene Two (In which Charlie falls in love)

Sea Captain 3: Charlie runs all the way back to the Kumbaya Friendly Family Inn. His mother is checking in a family from …

Charlie: Connecticut.

Friendly Family Father: That’s right. How’d you know that?

Mrs. Marigold: That’s Charlie! He has a gift. He can guess where any family is from with 99% accuracy.

Friendly Family Mother: What happened to the other 1%?

Charlie: I have a raging fear of perfection.

Sea Captain 1: Charlie smiles wide, revealing a head full of sparkling teeth.

Sea Captain 2: Somewhat frightened by his gargantuan grin, the friendly parents turn back to the business at hand.

Sea Captain 3: Charlie turns around to leave when he finds himself face to face with the girl of his dreams.

Charlie: I love you.

Girl of Charlie’s Dreams: What?

Charlie: What?

Girl of Charlie’s Dreams: Did you say that you love me?

Charlie: Love you?!? I’m 13! What do I know about love? No, I said “elephant shoes”.

Girl of Charlie’s Dreams: (unbelieving) Elephant shoes?

Charlie: Yeah. Read my lips. El-e-phant Shoes. See, it looks like I love you when really … no.

Girl of Charlie’s Dreams: Why did you say elephant shoes?

Charlie: Elephant’s don’t wear shoes. They’re nocturnal.

Girl of Charlie’s Dreams: No they aren’t!

Mrs. Marigold: Charlie, why don’t you show these good people to their room?

Friendly Family Father: I’m sure we can find it ourselves, it’s not a big place.

Mrs. Marigold: Don’t be silly, Charlie is an excellent bellboy! Besides, he has to do something to earn his keep.

Friendly Family Father: Very well then. Come along, Maya.

Charlie: Your name is Maya?

Maya: (sarcastically) Nice deduction.

Charlie: My name is Charlie.

Maya: (sarcastically) Really? I hadn’t picked up on that yet.

Sea Captain 1: Maya and her parents begin to walk away. As they turn the corner, Mrs. Marigold winks at Charlie.

Mrs. Marigold: I think she likes you, Charlie.

Sea Captain 2: Charlie picks up their bags and winks back at his mother before heading into the Inn. Yar.

Scene Three (In which Charlie nearly earns a little less than a dollar)

Sea Captain 3: Charlie has walked the friendly family to their room. He inserts the card key in the slot and opens the door.

Sea Captain 1: A radiant beam of sunlight shines through the window, through the room, and into the travelers’ eyes, momentarily blinding them. As they adjust to the light, they make their way into the room.

Charlie: It’s small, but we like to call it home.

Friendly Family Mother: Oh, do you live here in the Inn?

Charlie: No … yes … no …

Maya: Well which is it?

Charlie: Which is what?

Maya: Do you live in the Inn or don’t you?

Charlie: Not today. Yesterday we lived in the Inn. Today we live out the out.

Maya: Is that humor?

Charlie: It was meant to be.

Maya: Charming, I’m sure.

Sea Captain 2: The friendly family father makes his way over to Charlie. He reaches into his pocket for some lose change.

Friendly Family Father: Well thank you very much, young man.

Charlie: Oh, no thank you, sir. I cannot take your money.

Friendly Family Father: Preposterous! You provided us with a service and you should be rewarded. Here’s (he counts out the change in his hand) … 25, 35, 36, 46, 71, 76 cents for a job well done.

Charlie: Thank you very much sir, but I must persist. I have already been paid … in other ways.

Sea Captain 3: Charlie makes googly eyes at Maya.

Friendly Family Mother: Excuse me?

Charlie: Oh, um, my Mother pays me in advance. Enjoy your stay!

Sea Captain 1: Charlie exits the room and shuts the door behind him. The friendly family father is left standing there with 76 cents in his dangling hand.

Sea Captain 2: Charlie’s heart is beating like a hummingbird’s after his third cup of coffee. About to faint, he leans slowly back against the door.

Charlie: (whispering) Her name … is Maya.

Sea Captain 3: The friendly family father opens the door quickly and Charlie falls backwards onto the ground.

Friendly Family Father: Oh, hello again Charlie. You saved me a walk. Here …

Sea Captain 1: The friendly family father drops all the change onto Charlie’s stomach.

Friendly Family Father: I’m not one of those cheapskate numbskull droll-abouts who flees from providing good and sensible wages for a job … well … done, I suppose.

Sea Captain 2: Charlie jumps up and collects the 76 cents from the ground.

Friendly Family Father: Just don’t go spending it all in one place.

Sea Captain 3: Charlie gives his signature grin again as the door shuts quietly in his face.

Charlie: (exhaling cautiously) Maya …

Scene Four (In which Charlie buys a soda)

Sea Captain 1: Charlie’s head is light. Air flows in and out of it. He glides down the hall and finds himself in front of the soda machine.

Sea Captain 2: He reaches into his pocket and retrieves 75 cents of the 76 cent tip.

Charlie: No sir, I won’t spend it all in one place.

Sea Captain 3: Charlie plinks the money into the machine and selects himself a Sprite. He clicks it and sips it. The fizz tickles his nose.

Charlie: Ahhh.

Sea Captain 1: A bucket has been left precariously on the edge of the top of the ice machine. The ice has melted and left a pool of cold water. Charlie takes out his remaining penny and rolls it between his fingers.

Charlie: Well, it’s not a wishing well, but it will have to do. (He ponders on a wish for a moment.) I wish … I wish … I wish for a lifetime of fishes and wishes.

Sea Captain 2: Charlie flicks his penny at the ice bucket. It flies through the air and hits the bucket on its side. The bucket comes crashing down to the floor and the cold water escapes in a splash.

Maya: Charlie.

Charlie: (screams) Ahh!

Sea Captain 3: Charlie whisks around to face the girl of his dreams once again.

Charlie: (catching his breath) What are you … why are you … how are you … when did you … where have you … hi.

Maya: Hi. Nice shot.

Charlie: Thanks. I meant to do that.

Maya: Yeah right. You were aiming for the inside. I heard your wish.

Charlie: Oh, you did. Um …

Maya: Are you a fisherman?

Charlie: Oh, um, no, not exactly. I’m more like a fisherman in training.

Maya: So you’re a fisherboy?

Charlie: No! No! No! I’m um … uhhhhh …

Maya: I think fishermen are cute.

Charlie: I’m a fisherman. Yup. Sure am. Always have been, always will be. That’s me. Fisherman Extraordinaire. There never was a man more fisher than I. No sirree.

Maya: (grabbing Charlie’s hand) Come on. We have to hurry. I want you to show me how to fish.

Sea Captain 1: Charlie is dragged away by the girl of his dreams. She pulls him down the stairs and out the back door.

Charlie: But what about your parents?

Maya: What about them? They won’t even notice I’m gone. Come on, take me to the ocean. Take me away.

Charlie: Listen, um. Maybe we should stop and think about this for a second.

Maya: What’s to think about? We’re young, we’re fun, we’re crazy!

Charlie: Yeah … OK.

Sea Captain 2: Charlie and Maya run down to the dock. Charlie looks around for his father. He sees him far off on the pier. A gust of wind carries his father’s voice to Charlie.

Mr. Marigold’s Voice: …and the most wickedest part of it was that the darn things had on these phony moustaches! Or at least… I think they were phony…

Maya: Is this your boat?

Sea Captain 3: Maya is pointing to a pathetic looking thing in the water.

Charlie: It’s a skiff, actually.

Maya: Well is this your skiff then?

Charlie: Yeah. Yeah, that’s my skiff. All mine. Nobody else’s that’s for sure.

Maya: Ooh, look, it’s already got all the stuff in it.

Charlie: Tackle.

Maya: What?

Charlie: It’s called tackle…

Maya: If you insist!

Sea Captain 1: Maya runs straight at Charlie. She tackles him and they fall off the dock into the skiff.

Charlie: Ow.

Scene Five (In which the fishy season begins)

Sea Captain 2: The little skiff has taken Charlie and Maya far out into the sea. The land has disappeared and the only sound is the peaceful drone of the loud, annoying motor.

Maya: It’s nice out here.

Charlie: (screams over the motor) WHAT?

Maya: (screams) I SAID IT’S NICE OUT HERE.

Charlie: (screams) THANKS! I THINK YOUR SHOES ARE PRETTY, TOO!

Maya: (screams) YOU CAN PROBABLY TURN THE MOTOR OFF NOW.

Charlie: (screams) I HAVE A BETTER IDEA … I’M GOING TO TURN THE MOTOR OFF.

Sea Captain 3: Charlie turns the motor off and suddenly, there is dead silence.

Charlie: Alright. Let’s have ourselves a fishnic!

Maya: A what?

Charlie: You know, a fishnic … It’s like a picnic with …

Maya: (sarcastically) … Fish, yeah, I got it. Is that what they teach you at Fisherboy school? How to be dopey?

Charlie: I’m not dopey! Look, do you wanna learn how to fish or not?

Maya: (overly excited) YES I DOOOO!!!!

Charlie: Nice enthusiasm. I like that.

Maya: I thought you might.

Charlie: OK then … grab a handful of worms from that bucket behind you.

Maya: Eww! What? No way!

Charlie: First lesson of fishing: If you want to learn how to fish, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty.

Maya: (sarcastically) That’s deep.

Charlie: Yeah, I guess it kind of is. My Dad taught me that.

Maya: What else did your Dad teach you?

Charlie: Pretty much everything.

Maya: Has he ever been wrong?

Sea Captain 1: Charlie thinks about the question for a moment.

Charlie: No … not really no …

Maya: Your Dad sounds all right.

Sea Captain 2: Charlie shakes off this idea.

Charlie: He’s a loony. Anyway, hand me the bucket.

Sea Captain 3: Maya makes a face of disgust as she hands the bucket of worms to Charlie. Charlie grabs a handful of worms.

Devil Fish: Throw them at her.

Charlie: What?

Devil Fish: Throw the worms at her, Charlie. She’ll love you for it.

Righteous Fish: Don’t do it Charlie! It’s not right!

Charlie: What the …

Sea Captain 1: Charlie turns around and takes a look at the water near his skiff. Two fishes sporting handlebar moustaches give him a simultaneous wink.

Maya: Who are you talking to, Charlie?

Sea Captain 2: Charlie’s head gets even lighter now. The air flow makes his brain spin.

Devil Fish: I do believe that the boy will pass out.

Righteous Fish: I do believe you are right.

Sea Captain 3: And that’s just what he does. Yar.

Scene Six (In which Charlie faces a perplexing dilemma)

Sea Captain 1: Charlie opens his eyes and looks up into the beautiful face of Maya, the girl of his dreams. She is shining with the light from above.

Charlie: What happened?

Maya: You passed out. I had to slap you with a fish.

Charlie: A fish … what?

Sea Captain 2: Charlie sits up in the skiff and sees the fish that Maya is holding. It is the Devil Fish.

Devil Fish: That really hurt, Charlie. You’d better do something about this girl or I’m going to.

Charlie: (to the Devil Fish) Why are you talking to me?

Maya: (drops the Devil Fish) Um, hello? Who am I going to talk to out here? The fish?

Devil Fish: Easy on the crazy talk, Charlie. You’re starting to sound like a psycho.

Charlie: (to Maya) How did you catch that fish?

Maya: It was pretty easy. I saw him swimming by the side of the skiff and I just grabbed him by his moustache and pulled him in.

Devil Fish: By my whiskers, Charlie! By my whiskers!

Charlie: And then … you slapped me with him?

Maya: Him? I slapped you with it. How can you tell it’s a him?

Charlie: Um … The moustache gives him away.

Devil Fish: In my school, I’m actually considered quite handsome.

Charlie: Where’s the other one?

Maya: What other one?

Righteous Fish: (from the water) Yoo Hoo!

Sea Captain 2: Charlie looks into the water.

Righteous Fish: Don’t listen to a word he says! Follow your heart, Charlie, not the advice of a fish.

Devil Fish: Well by that advice, why should he listen to you either?

Sea Captain 3: The Righteous Fish thinks about this for a moment.

Righteous Fish: Touché.

Charlie: Maya?

Maya: What?

Charlie: The fish are talking to me.

Maya: Of course they are, silly! That means you’re a true fisherman!

Devil Fish: Oh that’s rich.

Maya: What are they saying to you?

Righteous Fish: But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Charlie: But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Maya: Ah me … you have found my weakness.

Charlie: I did?

Maya: Shakespeare always turns me to goo!

Devil Fish: Eww.

Righteous Fish: Aww. You should kiss her now, Charlie!

Devil Fish: Throw the worms at her, Charlie!

Charlie: I’m getting mixed messages.

Maya: What do you mean?

Charlie: Well … for starters … who are you? One minute you’re making fun of me and the next minute you’re swooning under my spell. Do you like me or are you using me as a tour guide in your own selfish fish-capade?

Maya: Fish-capade! Ha!

Devil Fish: She’s using you! Throw the worms!

Righteous Fish: She likes you, Charlie. She really likes you. Kiss her now or lose her forever!

Charlie: Secondly, in one ear I’m hearing that I should kiss you and the other I’m hearing that I should throw worms at you.

Maya: That would be rather disagreeable to me, Charlie.

Charlie: Which one? The kiss or the worms?

Maya: You have to figure it out for yourself.

Sea Captain 3: Charlie looks at the Righteous Fish in the water. The Righteous Fish shrugs.

Righteous Fish: You’re on your own, man.

Sea Captain 1: Charlie looks at the Devil Fish in the skiff. The Devil Fish shrugs.

Devil Fish: I really don’t care anymore. But I am having a little trouble breathing. Do you think you could hurry this up and throw me back in the water?

Sea Captain 2: Charlie’s mind races. He hears his father’s and mother’s voice in his head.

Mr. Marigold’s Voice Inside Charlie’s Head: There’s heaven and hell out there Charlie, and you have to start learnin’ to distinguish between the two.

Mrs. Marigold’s Voice Inside Charlie’s Head: I think she likes you, Charlie. 99% accuracy.

Maya: (puckering up) Well, Charlie? What will it be?

Righteous Fish: Kiss.

Devil Fish: Worms.

Righteous Fish: Kiss.

Devil Fish: Worms.

Righteous Fish: Kiss.

Devil Fish: Worms.

Sea Captain 3: Charlie sees the decision as if it is as clear as the bright, blue day. He bends over and grabs a handful of worms. Bringing them to his mouth, his huge smile kisses them. The worms are cold and slimy.

Righteous Fish: (sarcastically) Bravo.

Devil Fish: That’s it, I’m outta here.

Sea Captain 1: The Devil Fish manages to flop his body up and over the side of the skiff. He hits the water and swims away with the Righteous Fish.

Devil Fish: See you in the funny papers, Charlie!

Righteous Fish: See you in the loony bin, Charlie!

Charlie: Not if I see you first!

Sea Captain 2: Charlie turns back to face the girl of his dreams. She is frowning and looks rather distraught.

Maya: Take me home, Charlie.

Sea Captain 3: Charlie drops the worms and guns the motor.

Scene Seven (In which all is resolved or not)

Sea Captain 1: It is seven days later and Charlie sits on the edge of the dock with his feet dangling over the water.

Sea Captain 2: Mr. Marigold walks over to Charlie as he stuffs his handkerchief into his overalls pocket.

Mr. Marigold: Don’t tell me you’re still pining over the one that got away, son?

Charlie: I can’t help it, Dad. She’s the girl of my dreams.

Mr. Marigold: Well then maybe you oughtta wake up now, dontchya think? She’s nothing but trouble from the sounds of it!

Charlie: I had a chance and I blew it! I kissed worms, Dad!

Mr. Marigold: Yeah well, that is a little peculiar, I’ll give you that. But you said that the fish were controllin’ ya, right? You were all messed up in your head! You can’t blame yourself, for your actions, Charlie. It’s like I’ve always told ya … it’s heaven and hell out there.

Sea Captain 3: Mrs. Marigold walks over to her fishermen.

Mrs. Marigold: Leave the boy alone, Dad. He’ll do better next time.

Charlie: There won’t be a next time. The dream is over.

Sea Captain 1: Charlie gets up and sadly walks away. He heads down the pier with his head hanging down. Mr. Marigold puts his arm around Mrs. Marigold and they watch him walk away.

Sea Captain 2: Charlie walks down to the parking lot of the Kumbaya Friendly Family Inn. He hears a horn beep and he looks up to see the friendly family father driving toward him.

Friendly Family Father: Thanks for a great week, Charlie. We had a ton of fun! We’ll see you next year!

Sea Captain 3: The friendly family drives past Charlie slowly. Charlie manages a weak smile when he sees Maya’s face appear in the back window.

Maya: (mouths out these words) Elephant shoes.

Sea Captain 1: Charlie lights up instantly and reveals every tooth in his face. His smile reaches the heavens as his sour mood fades away. Laughing loudly and loving it, he watches as the girl of his dreams drives away.

Mr. Marigold: Hey!

Sea Captain 2: Charlie turns around to face his father. Mr. Marigold slaps Charlie playfully with a fish.

Mr. Marigold: Now we’re even.

Sea Captain 3: Mr. Marigold sprints away and Charlie chases after him into the cool, Kumbaya sunset. Yar.

The above is the ridiculous property of Bryon Cahill. Any attempt to steal any or all of the highly intellectual integrity found herein will be laughed at, profoundly. Also, it wouldn’t hurt you to visit Kumbaya. It’s tourist season there now and I hear the fish are jumping.  — BC

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At Peace With My Serenity

The fall wind blows slow o’er the moors of my soul
I’m at peace with my serenity
The kitten purrs in soft, puffy bursts
I’m at peace with my serenity
The house it settles as we here nestle
I’m at peace with my serenity
Light rain comes down on our hometown
I’m at peace with my serenity

I put her to sleep by counting her sheep
I’m at peace with my serenity
Her brother’s sweet eyes are not yet dry
I’m at peace with my serenity
I pick him up and rock him calm
I’m at peace with my serenity
Soon he hushes, my heart of hearts blushes
I’m at peace with my serenity

And back to bed, “Is he?” you said
I’m at peace with my serenity
I tell you “Yes, we are so blessed.”
I’m at peace with my serenity
You hold my hand, you understand
I’m at peace with my serenity
Your ghost still looms all over this room
I’m at peace with my serenity
And then comes pain swallowing pain atop my pain
I’m at peace with my serenity
I stifle my cries by telling myself lies
I’m at peace with my serenity
We will never be what we were yes we are
I’m at peace with my serenity
You’re coming back as a matter of fact
I’m at peace with my serenity
Admit your mistake, it’s ok, you were weak
I’m at peace with my serenity
Your daughter is screaming again and no one is dreaming again
I’m at peace with my serenity
I’m at peace with my serenity
I’m at peace with my serenity

Yes.

I am at peace with my serenity.

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It took all of three months to finally come to terms with the ceaseless needling prick in the back of my brain. It would poke obnoxiously at my better judgement whenever she spoke and I always seemed to be on the verge of hearing something that I wasn’t hearing. For the longest time I ignored the intuition, chalked it up to a pitiful and desperate attempt to escape from happiness. My psyche was a charlatan, dressing up as a relationship sleuth and beating the pavement for any clues that would reveal her as unfit or annoying. My thoughts on the matter seemed to have no substance or validity so I chose not to have them. The un-thought facts never formed any sort of rational hypothesis so there was never a reason to fret. Any time I seemed even remotely close to some kind of answer to why my mind was so troubled, a flit of her hair or wink in my general direction would rail me, sending me spiraling back to the dopey, boyish, love-struck fool that I can sometimes be.

When the pieces finally did come together, it was less relief than an overwhelming feeling of stupidity for not catching it sooner. It happened in bed after a romp and a doze. I was awakened in the middle of night by a warm exhalation of air circulating in smooth, concentric circles around my inner ear. I fought the consciousness for a moment before succombing to its sweetness. That rare first moment of realization upon waking that you are holding such a beautiful woman in your arms is too much ecstasy to sleep through. Lying there so perfectly sound and gorgeous in the most peaceful state a person can attain; it almost seems feasible that you could fall in love and forget everything you ever thought you knew about self. It would take some kind of unfeeling monster to ignore that silky charm found in the form of Woman. My eyes slit open on these thoughts and I imagined the beginning traces of a smile just at the top of my midnight To Do List.

She was out. Her mouth was open a bit and seemed to be expelling some kind of unintelligible, sexy noise from her lips, “Ahh, ahh.” Ahh? I was fully awake now and listening very closely.

“What ahh?” I asked her as I pushed back her hair from her eyes. “What’s ahh, Celia?” I hoped to persuade her deep unconscious to the surface. I must admit, I wanted to play with her dreaming brain.

“It’s your qua, dear. I’m afraid it’s … all out of whack with your aura.” What? I blinked and she was sleeping again.

My qua? I reached down and touched my nakedness. But no, she couldn’t have meant that. There certainly wasn’t anything out of whack down there. She began to snore gently as I contempleaded. What in the hell was qua and why was she dreaming of it?

I slid out of bed and crept quietly across the wooden floor of my apartment. I pulled my dictionary down off the shelf and tiptoed into the kitchen. A minute later I was staring down the business end of a hard and cold epic-phony. It began with a definition: “qua – in the capacity or character of.” I substituted the definition for her words: “It’s your capacity or character of dear. I’m afraid it’s … all out of whack.” I did a triple-take shake-off where my own brain rattled in its cage as if it weren’t connected to my skull’s walls. As much as I shook those thoughts off, they fought for their freedom and made quick time of taking over my entire cerealbrum. The only portion of my brain that was not left to wonder at these newfound truisms was that which controlled my breathing. I was frozen still and stuck in time, but somehow, my lungs continued gathering air.

Now that the cat was out of the procurial bag, the demon was loose in the carnival. The Hassidic Jew was barbecuing in the whorehouse and there was just no stopping my one-track train wreck of pure thought. Celia was a connotation clown.

Many a time she had forspoke with such furious misinformed pride that her voice often commanded the respect of definitions that weren’t sound. She used a big and slippery vocabulary, not because she had one and words came naturally to her, but because she liked the way they looked on her. She wore them with her rings and pearls, just another accessory to make her beautiful and charming. But they didn’t make her beautiful and charming; in fact, they made her silly and nai-eve! Half the time she spoke out of context while the other half she just flat-out used the wrong word. As I stood there, naked over Webster, I began to feel the first true spangle of knowledge—I was sleeping with Archie Bunker.

At parties … oh, I could see them so clearly now. The people we would talk to. How they stood a gas when she spoke. Conversations that required little more than a mild consideration for intelligence were always retarded by Celia’s jumpy speech ejaculate. A perfectly average chat about a friend’s daughter’s piano lesson came to mind now. She proclaimed, “I studied the piano when I was a child and quite frankly, I found it rather cucumbursome. For starters, what young girl wants to erect herself for an hour only to get her fingers shell shacked for miskeying?”

What had I heard, I wondered, when those words were actually spoken? And how had I regressed them so easily? It was almost a week over the three month mark and I was feeling like I didn’t even have a clue as to whom it was I was dating. Who was that woman in the other room and what did she stand for? What kind of a person says “cucumbursome” and truly means it? What was going on in her head when she spoke of “shell-shacking?” And oh my sweet Heaven, please don’t get me started on her grandiose fox pause of “erecting herself!” My mouth hung open and the clock struck one as the horror of her misbegotten sentence structures came flooding in.

“Good morning, Freddy,” she had said to me the morning after our first night together. “Did you sleep well? Well, that is, if you got any sleep, you wild, rappy scallop, you.” I remember thinking very clearly, at the time, that it was the strangest pet name I had ever been deemed. It flew around me and she continued. “I’ve got just the thing this morning to besiege you from your slumber! It’s a little homemade recipe that I’m sure you’ll just google over in awe!” She brought the plate over to the table and suddenly whipped away the enshrouding paper towel to reveal … “TA DA!!! Bacon chip pancakes!”

Ugh, the bacon chip pancakes. I think that they made such a cute and sickening impression on me that I completely ignored the fact that she wanted to surround me with hostile forces in order to release me from my slumber and then have me search the internet for something about awe.

Every time she had anything to say, it was twisted or weird. Instance after instance after instance fell on top of me at once and there was no way out of my present cum humdrum without action. As I sat there, trying desperately to remember just one time when she had actually said something that wasn’t completely absurd or nonsensical, I knew what I had to do. Now that I could see past her beauty and her charm … scratch that … now that I saw through her shrouded, creeping mayonnaise of false advertising—the body, the eyes, the face, the sex, the hair, the lovely, the passion, the adorable, the witty, the funny, the wholesome, the misguided, the silly, the nilly, the her—now that I could see Celia for what she really was—a beautiful fool with no rhyme to her reason, no bang to her buck, no star to her galaxy, all freaky to her deeky, there was only one course of action to take. There was only one way to silence my screaming emotions, only one logical next step for my own sanity’s footpath, only one way to get my self-respect back! One way to render myself hole again.

I went back to my bed and I loved her.

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In your eyes

Here’s the thing, lover. I thought I saw you in someone else’s eyes today. I was with Tommy and after it was over, he told me how gorgeous she was. He said she had legs (two of them) that went all the way up to heaven and her tushy was akin to something you would see in Maxim. You know me, baby. And you know that I don’t subscribe to that or any other magazine that portrays women in that respect. And you know that I think that “respect” is the wrong word for that kind of periodical. But as far as description goes, Tommy tells me it fits so I’m going with it. He says she was an angel from the neck down. He related her breasts to two blushing pilgrims, heaving in the fourth of July heat, yearning to be touched, to be suckled, to be fondled, to be loved. And you know Tommy. He’s never even read Shakespeare so the description he put forth is part subconscious, part man. If you ask me, that’s a pretty good mix of perfection. But baby… I didn’t see any of that. All I saw was her baby blue eyes under her forehead which was shrouded by hair. Too much hair, if you ask me. She was in her late thirties for sure. Much older than you. Those bangs of hers were covering what I imagined she thought was a picture of her youth. It was sad, really. Not sad in the way that I felt sorry for her. No one could ever feel sorry for this vision. Wait. Wait. Just listen. Okay? Yes, she was a vision. From the neck up because that’s all I saw. But I say this because (to reiterate) she reminded me so much of you. Not of who you were when I married you and not of who you were when we were dating and not even of who you were when I didn’t even know you. I’ve seen all those pictures of you from your childhood. I’ve seen you at 5. At 6. At 7. At 8. At 9. At 10. At 11-18. Baby, you were a vision yourself at 18. And oh my God, at 20, I would have kissed you til we exchanged stars with our tongues. God how I wish I knew you at 20. At 23. At 25. And when you were struggling through 26-28… well, you know… those were rough years for you. If I knew you then (and I wish to Christ that I did) I would have saved you from all of the badness. I would have rushed into your life and held you up on a pedastal and made you my Queen. You would have had dominion over my life and we would have traveled to the ends of the earth and ridden camels into the abyss. Into the chasms of sadness. I would have led your camel into oblivion baby. I would have been right there with you. To pull you out when your camel died of thirst. I am quenched just thinking about it. Just thinking about how I wasn’t there at that point in your life. It kills me every day. But you made it, didn’t you? You made it without me. Somehow. And I made it without you. Somehow, too. And here we are. Two constellations on opposite sides of the sky we were. And we bent space and time to get here. And here we are. Here we are. God you are beautiful. God almighty.

And this vision of a woman, she was really nothing. According to Tommy, she “had it goin’ on.” He tried to talk to her. I watched as he approached her. I watched as he whispered something in her ear. Probably one of his cheesy come on lines that no woman would think twice about. “Hey baby, wanna groove? Groove with me baby!” or “If I were in control of the alphabet I’d put you and me together.” or “How do you like your eggs? Over easy or over sleazy or over me with sex?” Tommy was never really good with talking to women. And this was no exception. Whatever trivial thing he said to the poor princess was enough to make her shy away. She giggled in her silly way, I saw, and she continued ignoring him. Sigh. Poor Tommy. Sometimes I feel like I should help him not be so awkward, you know? Sometimes I just want to jump in before he speaks and talk him up and help him out and make a love connection where otherwise impossible. But I never do. And do you know why? It’s because of you, my love. Even though I know it would just be for the benefit of a friend, even though I know it would mean nothing, I still can’t talk to another woman in that way. I can’t talk to another woman in a sexual way. Because I see you in every single one. You are everywhere. You are every woman. When Tommy or Eddy or Jason or Ted or Sam or Samantha or Gene or Jeanie or Rachel or Sexy Jasmine tells me there’s a hottee in the corner, I look, and I see, and I get lost in her eyes. Whoever she is, I stare deep and long into her eyes. And you know what I see, don’t you? I see you. I swear on everything imaginable, I see you everywhere. I see you in the eyes of dirty strangers. I see you in the eyes of foreign princesses. I see you in all eyes. I see you everywhwere. I just… see you.

You are everything to me. I hate that I can’t relate this to you in a meanigful way. After all these years, after all our fights and our make-up sex sessions, after three kids, after cancer, after deaths and cruises and jungle gyms and PTA meetings, after the terrible gushing truth that came out during an impromptu midnight pot session… baby, you know I’ll never speak of what you told me. And I know you’ll never speak of what I told you. We are each other. And we are old. No. Scratch that. I am old. I am. But you are ageless. And every day you become more beautiful than the last. And I should probably be jealous of you for that. I should probably despise you for becoming more and more angelic with every passing moment while I turn grey and wrinkled. But that would be foolish. If you ever knew half of my feelings you would probably run away and never look back. I see the young boys look at you. You never see them and I don’t understand how you don’t. They look at you like you are a goddess. In the grocery store, at the park, on the street, at the pool, Christ if you went to the moon I’m sure there would be a horny moon man looking at you with passion in his eyes and I know you would not see him. How? Why? Why me? What have I done to deserve you?  I look in the mirror every morning and do you know what I see? I see a shell. Just a shell. I shave and I brush and I floss and I am a shell. And there’s nothing there in the reflection. And then you come up behind me. And you wrap your arms around me. And you kiss my neck and get shaving cream on your lips. And I see you in the mirror. And I see me in the mirror being held by you, my vision. And then you whisper, “I love you.” And it all comes back to me. Everything. You. Me. Our life together. And I feel full. And I feel wonderful. And you don’t have to say another word. Just “I love you.” And I love you back and the day goes on. And we have coffee and we sit in quiet bliss. And I remember everything. Everything, honey. I remember it all. And I think about the girls that come and go. The girls that Tommy is always pointing out. He says how perfect they are, how quintessential they are to his livelihood. And you know what? I think he truly believes it. In his head. And God Almighty I hope he finds what he’s looking for. I hope he sees what I see in those girls’ eyes. I hope he can one day find it. That glow. That reflection of himself. That warm heart that shines out through radiant pupils. I see it everywhere.

Everywhere, I see you.

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A Castle In His Mind

<In the dead of night, he jumps. He wakes.>

What? No.

Honey?

What? Oh. Oh. … Oh.

Shh. You’re good. You’re fine, baby.

Yeah. <He breathes. Full.> Okay.

Was it…

Yes. <He breathes.> Well … yes and no.

Oh. <She’s dozing again. She doesn’t want to.>

I mean … <His cold sweat isn’t as bad as usual. This time, he can run his finger across his chest and the moisture he feels there is only skin deep. Not like the other times when he could feel it way down low inside. His thoughts are princes of betrayal. As he tries to capture the fleeting remnants of his night visions, he clutches desperately at any idea that passes by. As he succumbs to it all, he does not know what is the real and what is the imagined. He struggles with these opposing ideas. But then, he thinks, it doesn’t much matter because dream or not, it’s all a part of him.>

Go on.

It was the same as always but… not.

Petey?

Yeah, he was shining. And he was wearing those shorts…

Plaid blue.

The plaid blue ones you hated for no reason. He loved them, though. When I see him now, it’s always in those plaid blue shorts. Funny.

It’s ok.

I know.

Tell me more…

Well at first there was the castle on the hill. Same as always. Rising up. Majestic. Sound. I flew to it. Just as always. The first difference I noted was that I was not donning the Superman cape from Halloween three years ago. It was just me. No super powers. And when I realized this—that it was just plain old me in jeans, unshaven and teary-eyed, I trembled. Or… the sky shook me. Or… maybe it grew cold? Winter-like. And I plummeted. I fell. But I didn’t wake. You know, I heard once that every time a person falls in a dream, he wakes up before he hits the ground. If you hit the ground in your dream… you die. Stupid, I guess. Because here I am. Alive. With you. And yet, I did hit the ground. Hard. It didn’t hurt. It was oily. Mucky-like. It felt like the earth was moving under my feet. Like an escalator going in reverse. Pulling me away from the castle. So I had to work all the harder to get there. It was a real effort. And I remember baby, I remember thinking Don’t go, Brad. You know what’s waiting there. I was aware, you know? That’s… oh Jesus.

It’s okay.

<He composes himself with great effort.>

I know. I know. But  if I knew what was up there, why would I give it my all just to climb the hill? Don’t answer. I know. … When I finally got there, there was no moat of fire to swim across, as I usually do. And I did not have to beat the three-headed dog monster with my bare hands. There was no sight of him. I just walked right into the castle. Just like that. Inside, the place was as hollow as it always is. And…

It’s okay.

He was sitting there in the far corner. Just as he always is. With his back turned to me. Playing with his trains. Plaid blue shorts. Mussed hair. But… this time… when I approached him. He turned around. And he smiled at me. And… God help me, baby, he spoke.

I don’t think I want to hear.

I don’t think I want to tell.

It’s okay.

Okay. … He said… so softly, so sweetly: It’s okay, Daddy. I’m going. And then he winked at me. And I heard a train whistle blow. And then I was back here. With you.

<They are both crying now. He kisses her. Holds her tight.>

Do you think he’s gone now?

I don’t know.

Do you think he’s okay?

Yes.

I think so, too.

Baby?

Yeah.

I’m… I think I’m pregnant.

No.

Yes.

No.

<In each other’s arms, they lie there, not sleeping. Each wondering if it will ever be okay again… to be happy.>

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Smashing!

Smashing, she is smashing, she is radiant and fine,
This girl, just to my left here, up on Palisades and Vine.
She hails her cab with gusto, and those lengthy legs — divine!
I think I’ll split it with her and I’ll make the most of time.

The cabbie drives like madness in this chariot of fire,
I have but 18 miles left to woo this girl’s desire,
She’s headed to the opera, a new one, Madame Liar,
She says she’s seen it twice now and to urge a third is dire.

“I like to do things often that I like, I like a lot,
I revel in the mysteries of life’s unearthly plots,
I feel the world is spinning on an opalescent dot,
And I find you very handsome, extremely hot to trot.”

I married her in April, by the lake in Hallow’s Bell,
Her father roared with whiskey while my mother gave him hell,
The priest, he bound us sweetly with his Catholicism spell
As the sun set low on our love and we kissed, our joined hearts swelled.

And smashing! she is smashing! And she loves no one but me!
She gets her kicks pretending she’s an adolescent bee,
“Buzz buzz!” she stings me neatly with her horny sex and glee,
Then after, she bed surfs naked while I get up to go pee.

We have children and they are smashing! They are elegant and fair!
Daniel has her blue eyes, and Matilda, her blonde hair,
We watch them grow before us and we handle them with care,
They marry off and leave us to our fragile twilight years.

“Smashing! You are smashing, darling! I cannot get enough!
I love you for your strength and for your wrinkled face so gruff!”
She tries to sell me something but I know what’s in this stuff.
We’ve never held our secrets long, we know each others’ bluffs.

“What is it?” I ask sweetly, as I touch her withered brow.
“I love you more than life itself, believe me, here and now.
Though life may prove to end us, I dare never know how
To spend the great hereafter without you. I will not! This I vow.”

“Smashing! You are smashing!” she says and takes my hand,
“You are my heart, my life, my love, my courage, and my man,
I… have to tell you something. But I don’t know that I can.”
And that is when I stop her. For I feel the hour’s sand

Chiming

Down

And away.

The doctors say it’s hopeless but for me she is too fine.
In this dreadful short existence we are all but spending time.

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Quoth you, “Nevermore.”

Stuff it, birdbrain. You give us all a bad rap. And no, I don’t want to hear the excuse again of how when mother scooted you out you were caught unawares. How your wings were yet unformed and not nearly majestic enough. How the wind was brisk and heavy in the pale and cloudy sky. We all flew first under similar conditions. No doubt any of us were ready. But did we skull the earth? No. Our heads soared. We flew, brother. As we were meant to. Your excuses be damned. You have no right to do it.

Your virgin flight turned crash did jumble your thoughts. No doubt the impact made you asinine and you never fully recovered. You went mental, you see. Unable to speak your own thoughts or trust in your own words. You’re no better than a dime store parrot. And it pains me to say such things.

We ravens are an eloquent species who hail from the deep chasms of Beyond. We faithfully hold the darkest secrets of the underworlds. When, on occasion, we pay our haunting visits, it is our duty to fly under the radar (for the most part). We sit atop humanity’s various perches and glare down on the afflicted. They feel us, they sense us, they know what we are. But it’s all peripheral. We are captured memories of their lost loves. We are but faint whispers of what can never be. We are loss, yes. We are pain, yes. We are the horrific hurt when death is present. We are so much awfulness. Yet we are quintessential to the healing process. We roost in the depths of desperate, sunken souls and we fester there in silence, emitting but shards of woe and gloom. What we are to Recovery is what the Reaper is to Immortality: a means to an end. It’s a thankless job yes, but who else is going to choose to do it?

When one of us goes astray from the flock, dear brother, and makes himself “known” to his sad host, all hell breaks loose within.

“Nevermore.”

Did you not feel his suffering? As soulless sphincters of the night, we are meant not only to feast QUIETLY on memories but also to dole out sore sorrow in slight measures. That facet of the job is literally on page 2 of the handbook. You overstepped your bounds when you spoke. You tore your man in two with your badgering. Our job, my friend and brother, is not simple but it requires much sympathy for the weak. Your sympathy is flailing, just as your body flailed from mother’s perch that cold, drearsome day when she forced us out. Out and up we fell (whether fly or crash) from Night’s Plutonian shore.

Now Neptune’s caught us napping and my brother, we are scrapping,
Scrapping for some way to bring you down from that man’s door—
From that place you perch and parrot words you think are solely yours,
We come from Hell, dear brother, we are but ghosts forevermore.
Yet…
I cannot help but wonder if you tore this man asunder
How he’d fare in our Down Under with his fair and flawed Lenore.
Would he weep with her eternal in the cage of death’s inferno
As the life they built together turns to dust above our shore?

You should take him now, my brother.
Bring him to Lenore.
Sit still no seconds longer, use your claws, you bleak death monger,
Triumph over life and cease this misery of yore.
Sink your devil’s beak into your victim’s flesh (it’s weak) and wrap your blessed wings round his heart and sudden horror—
Rack yourself with guilt as you deliver him to our shore—
For this is all your doing,
This unnecessary ruin, and your punishment will be congruous with what you have in store
For the life of this poor man whose wife was named Lenore.

“Lenore.”

Cease your awful teasing now! climb down from that damn door!
Take this man and crush him like you should have done before!
Or so help me Zeus, I’ll thrash you and destroy your very core!
Bring him peace and kill him for his love and life are o’er!
Hang it, man, for our sakes, for your brothers, I implore!

And yet, you sit there, laughing with your taunts and your unmasking
Of my fears—
You’re gently basking in your current state of power
In this, the bewitched hour,
You are wicked evermore.

You are coarse and you are evil, yet you are simple, you are feeble,
I must help you see these people who are more than blank and see-through.
Brother… I will join you on your bust upon his chamber door.
Together we will carry him to shore.
This I ask, and nothing more.

You, raven, are Lingerer.
Thus I humbly name you as I try my best to save you
From the clutches of your scattered brain that brought you to this chamber bust upon this poor man’s door.
That brought you to this place, this life! This treasure trove of woe and strife.
This compost heap of ashen humanity, this dogged place of sick, black blasphemies.
You seek the calm composure that lies within your deepest exposures.
You plague yourself with guilt upon humanity’s sad memories of yore.

And you.
You awful creatures with your human-esque type features
And your souls and pristine hearts that damage quick and with much gore—
You truly are a whorish chore.

So yes, I see, my brother, how one could feel such cold thunder in his breast for these, our subjects who
Writhe and reek upon the floor.
Only this I can relate to, only this, and nothing more.
But should the captains find us then we’ll flee on wings of madness, shrieking songs and cries of Mercy:
“Let us in. Forevermore!”

——–
For EAP.

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