Friday, October 29, 2010
The man with no neck unceremoniously escorted Peter Rose from the Barking Spider pub. The bouncer had him by a fistful of his long, blonde hair and threw him out into the wet lane. Peter addressed him, and the other night owls on James Street, with all the dignity he could muster. “Why the frig do I have to go. The night’s still young!” The door was slammed shut and locked behind him.
The young man struggled to his feet and wobbled passed similar drinking establishments that lined both sides of the pedestrian walkway. He was not alone. Several other rubber men shouted and staggered along the cobblestones, headed towards the taxis waiting on Water Street. Peter rummaged through his pockets and discovered that he didn’t have enough money for a cab home.
He shuffled along the empty streets towards the eastern edge of downtown. He stopped several times to catch his breath and once to urinate. While peeing, he splashed on a prickly weed that reminded him of the Christmas cactus his ex-girlfriend has. Or had. Doris threw him out a week ago after their fight. She had been bitching at him about his drinking when he slapped her. She fell and knocked over the cactus that sat on the end table. The last he saw of Doris she was on her hands and knees, blood dripping from her swollen lips, trying to scoop up the plant and the soil scattered across the floor.
Peter continued to the cemetery but found its wrought iron gates locked. He had to go through the grave yard; the short cut would cut 20 minutes off the walking time to his parent’s house. He followed the fence until he found a chain-link section and climbed up. As he reached the top and pulled himself over, the ragged ends of wire pierced the palms of his hands. Peter cursed but continued over the fence and fell heavily to the ground. He pulled wads of dirty tissues from his pocket and pinched them into the wounds with his grimy fingers.
Peter staggered down the path that wound through the ancient cemetery. It was crumbling and heaving in places and he occasionally tripped over the deeper cracks that ruptured the asphalt. The uncut grass along the edges was blanketed by brown and orange leaves curled up into small fists. A slight breeze had them gently whispering.
The full moon cast enough light on the monuments to allow him to glance at the family names as he staggered along: Webster, Miller, Schindler to his left…Gardner, Barber, Venutolo to his right. All familiar names of people he had gone to school with, worked with, and partied with.
Peter proceeded up the hill towards the far end of the cemetery that backed on to his parent’s subdivision. The graves here were at right angles to the sloping path and had small foundation walls. Near the top there were several concrete vaults protruding above the ground.
He noticed that one of the vaults had a sizable crack in the wall exposing a thick, rusty reinforcing rod. While looking at this, Peter tripped over a root poking from the path. He tried to keep his balance but staggered to his right, fell forward and cracked his head off the corner of the adjacent vault. He tried to pull himself up with a bloody hand but lost consciousness.
Peter awoke. He could not tell how long he had been sleeping, but he felt damp as a result of the light fog that had settled upon the cemetery. He crawled into a sitting position next to the vault but felt too dizzy to stand. He noticed a balled-up tissue and his bloody handprint near the top of the vault.
A small port hole cover on the side of the vault hung open. Peter leaned over and peered inside. “Hello in there!” he shouted. His voice echoed.
“Sir. You are blocking my view.”
Peter gasped and scrambled away from the small opening, sending small gravel chips scattering. “Who the hell was that? Are you inside that thing?” he asked.
“Of course I am in here. Where else could I exist?”, replied the baritone voice with more than a hint of mirth.
“Jeez! I’m so hammered…I can hear dead people.”
“You have imbibed a great deal this evening, sir, but I am not a product of your imagination.”
Peter liked the smooth, foreign sound of the voice. He leaned towards the opening and glimpsed a pair of silvery eyes staring back at him. A warm blast of air hit him in the face and the stench of human decay made him vomit the beer he had consumed that evening.
“What is the port hole for? To let out evil smells?” he said, once his retching had subsided.
“That’s open to debate, I suppose. These oculi, or as you say—port holes, are symbolic of the ones placed in the protective marble wall that allowed pilgrims to view the sepulcher of Jesus.”
“Well said, sir. The more romantic simply believe the opening allows the souls of the departed to come and go from their resting place as they please.”
“Sounds like a pile of crap to me,” Peter said.
“I see…the part about the romance or about the souls of the departed?”
“Both,” he replied and then snorted and spat a bloody wad of spit on the concrete wall of the burial vault.
“That is unfortunate. Though your answer to my question would not have changed the outcome of this evening.”
“Oh? What outcome is that?”
“Didn’t you ever go to church, sir? Evil begets evil. You’ve proven your worthiness and I think that it’s time you joined us.”
“What the f—“. Peter didn’t get to finish. A filament of mist spiraled from the oculi and wrapped itself about his neck, quickly closing off his windpipe. The surrounding fog swirled about the trees and the headstones and then enveloped him.
Peter’s face was pulled hard against the opening. The grip on his throat was released but he now felt something trying to pry open his mouth. He clenched his jaw hard, but felt thin fingers make their way up his nostrils into his nasal cavity. He finally opened his mouth and the veins in his neck bulged as he screamed. The sound was lost, though, in the depths of the funeral vault.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A group of police officers stood around the dead body lying next to the burial vault. The cloudy eyes of the pale corpse stared up at the sun that now burned off the last of the fog. They drank coffee from paper cups and joked with one another while waiting for the arrival of the coroner. The man’s death appeared accidental but the detective in charge wondered what business the deceased had with the grave of Pierre LaRose, one of the city’s early French settlers that had died over 200 years ago.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A woman named Doris sat in her bright sitting room and sipped her morning coffee. She gasped in surprise when she noticed a single red flower now blooming on her recovering Christmas cactus.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
- Monday- Hit in face while playing basketball with the geezers. By a girl. This is my third year playing at the gym on the base and it's the first time that I've seen them invite a girl to play, in order to even up the numbers on each team. She and I were guards on the same side and she rifled a pass at me. Not a regular 60yr old man-pass. But a twenty-something 'I wish I was Nolan Ryan' fastball that clearly indicated she had missed her calling as a baseball pitcher. Luckily my face was angled slightly to the left or I would have surely had a broken nose. The swelling quickly subsided. The embarrassment lingered on.
- Tuesday- The drafting Overlords at work began cracking the whip for my current job. It is a sizable chunk of steel and Friday marks month-end. Do it now! Grrrrr! Took Sean to cadet Halloween party (he was dressed as a 5'-8" leprechaun with a
feztop hat, green bow tie and braces on his teeth).
- Wednesday- My own WIP requires an ending. And editing. And scary parts. Many folks kindly commented on my last post that they are looking forward to my graveyard #fridayflash story. Must get cracking on this. The clock is ticking...Also...my friend Laurita Miller over at Brain Droppings announced that she had won the Canadian Blog Award in the Culture and Literature section. A big old Woot! to her and thanks to those of you who popped over and supported her by voting. Sadly my tux and once long, dark hair could not be on hand to see her collect her award. Though should she win a Giller Prize...
- Thursday (last night)- I dreamed about my neighbour. In some situations that may be considered acceptable...except the guy is 55, retired, balding and overweight. A bit like Jason Alexander except that he can't sing or dance and he's not very funny. Is there something wrong with me? Would I benefit from seeing a professional about this?
(note to self: see if work benefit package covers psychotherapy).
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Finally, a bit of animal mirth was sent to my wife by a friend of hers. Some of the photos below may have made the rounds on the internet but I will include them here. Just because. The zombie cat is my favourite.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
My friend and fellow islander Laurita Miller has had her blog Brain Droppings nominated for a Canadian Blog Award. I'm really excited for her and hope that all of you #fridayflash people (and those of you who aren't) who enjoy reading her work go to the website and cast you vote. She can be found in the Culture and Literature voting section. The catch is you need to do it by noon today the 17th of October (I'm assuming that's EST).
And finally, I'd be really negligent if I didn't pimp a wee bit for my oldest internet friend Cate Gardner. Her book Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits, a collection of short stories, is now available at Strange Publications and at Amazon.com. Check out a trailer for the trailer at her blog.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I've been searching for the proper word to describe the lethargy or apathy I'm feeling at the moment...decrepitude, angst, disquiet...none seem to fit and all are found in the online Thesaurus.com under a search of the word 'malaise'. For the moment I'll just refer to myself as
1. a condition of general bodily weakness or discomfort, often marking the onset of a disease.
2. a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.
Number one has some merit as V has been run down with the cold for about 10 days. I don't have the runny nose or headache (yet) but I did cough once or twice this morning. Though a drink of water cleared that up, so perhaps it was just a spider or some such thing stuck in my throat. I was at the doctor's office on Tuesday for recent blood test results. He isn't pushing the the pills (yet) to help lower my cholesterol but the day is close at hand. Speaking of hand, I'm glad I wasn't threatened with the 'rubber glove' treatment either.
Number two also has merit. I'm feeling a bit of discomfort from basketball on Tuesday night with the geezers. The change of evening (Monday was Thanksgiving in Canada) threw us and only four people showed up. So it was 2 vs. 2 for an hour. That's a lot of running and
I'm feeling somewhat unfocused in my writing. There's no hope of a #fridayflash happening again this week. And the well of ideas for blog posts has seemed to have dried up. I have a story half-complete that I would like to submit to this year's Arts & Letters Awards that is held each year by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. This must be submitted by the end of November to be eligible. I'm pushing now to get this done by next week's writer's group meeting to get some feedback from the group. I can hear the whip cracking. For a long time I have had two different ideas for more 'long term' projects and I have set up files for these. As ideas pop into my head I jot them down on paper and toss them into the appropriate file. In the back of my mind I'm thinking that I may have to set aside short stories and perhaps even blogging for a while to devote some serious time to one of these projects. We'll see...in the meantime, I hope this malaise or melancholy or j'en sais pas will pass and things get 'back to normal'. I can picture everyone reading this saying to themselves, "Normal? What the hell is that?" During my search of the word 'malaise' I ran across a website (there are actually a lot of similar sites) that sells malaise traps and stuff to put in them (pictured). I'd give that a shot, but I don't want to spend 174 British Pounds for the trap and associated gear and the wind here would just blow it away. I'll just use my trusty fly swatter for now...
Thursday, October 7, 2010
On to business…
- If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why? He, he, he...my knee-jerk answer is that I'd love to have X-Ray vision (go on say it...men are pigs). I think to have the ability to predict the future would be damned cool. To know what horse was going to win in the fifth race at Belmont would be a gift for sure. Solving all the woes of the world with my gift? Pfffth! Who needs the headaches. Look at every US President. After four years in office they're grayer than me. Now predicting the lotto...there's something useful!
- Who is your style icon? If this refers to writing, I don't think that mine shows a resemblance to the writers I admire. Let's just say that I'm still a work in progress. As far as my keen fashion sense...I used to wear a lot of flannel shirts (this is Canada, eh?) and my role model was the great Al Borland (pictured) from Tool Time. I found, though, that the plaid clashed with my fez and I have switched to T-shirts: solid grays, blacks and blues (I'm rather fond of blue shirts as they bring out the colour of my eyes...)
- What is your favourite quote? Geez, there's so many different ones to choose from. I've copied these from my Facebook page..."It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" -- Henry David Thoreau.....and "Wonder at the things around you for wonder is the beginning of wisdom" --Plato
- What is the best compliment you've ever received? When in my early 20's, I worked as a clerk in a mining office in downtown Vancouver. Gastown to be exact. I left the office to go to lunch with an office associate and we passed a certain 'lady of the streets' who turned and shouted at me, "Hey, nice ass!"...at least I assume she meant me and not the 60 year old guy I was with. I've had a swelled head ever since.
- What playlist/CD is in your CD player/iPod right now? Let me have a peek...Supertramp, Breakfast in America. I've also been listening to a lot of solo Lennon, solo George Harrison, Cat Stevens (pre-Islam) and Simon and Garfunkel. Those that follow this blog regularly know that I'm also fond of the Sunday morning radio show 'Homebrew' that highlights traditional Newfoundland music (for those interested, you can listen live on the internet K-Rock 97.5)
- Are you a night owl or a morning person? Twenty years ago I would have answered that I was a night owl. However, after 16 years of marriage and a kid I'd say that I'm really tired by 10pm (my doctor would blame a lot of other schtuff but what the heck does he know). Definitely more of an early morning person...after a coffee
- Do you prefer dogs or cats? It depends on the side dishes and available sauces...OK, seriously folks, those that read me here regularly know that I was an Animal Control Officer (dog catcher) in a former life. I've hardly ever been around cats and spent much of my childhood around fox terriers and shelties. We presently have a rescued greyhound whose favourite activies are eating and sleeping (a dog after my own heart).
- What is the meaning behind your blog name? That's fairly simple...Conversations From Land's Edge is meant as a forum to connect with others through conversation/comments in the areas of entertainment, education, humour and the like. Primarily it was a way to meet other writers, but a lot of wonderful non-writing folks have dropped by as well. The 'Land's Edge' refers to the fact that in a couple of different directions I am a few minutes away from the Atlantic on a large, windswept island.
I shall now 'tag' three others so we can
annoy learn more about them...
Laurita Miller of Brain Droppings, Karen Schindler of Miscellaneous Yammering and KC Shaw of The Knotted Thicket can also consider themselves 'tagged'. I choose these ladies because they are all fine writers that display insightfullness and/or humour in their blogging. You go girls!
Monday, October 4, 2010
I booked the day off Friday and drove them in
That evening, the Websters and Laurita (thanks, Laurita, for bringing along the spiced, red wine and the loaf of soda bread...they were great!) came to our place for a BBQ to help celebrate Cathy and Dave's wedding that had taken place six days earlier. We also invited Charles and Camilla but they graciously declined because of another engagement in India. Dinner was followed by cheesecake and writing gossip (wouldn't you #fridayflash folks like to have been a bug on the wall for that conversation).
For me, the cheesecake is always the highlight of any civilized gathering (sorry Cathy & Dave...you're nice folks 'n all, but you don't outrank the chocolate cheesecake with amaretto). I am only allowed the delicacy once a year, on my birthday, as it's loaded with stuff that's bad for me and it costs so f&%$ing much to make. This one was pretty much same as the cheesecake we usually take to the annual cheesecake party. For those really obsessed with cheesecake, you can link to that blog post here. Sometimes I fantasize about cheesecake...a darkened room, soft music, candles and a plastic sheet on the bed with me alone frolicking with my favourite cheesecake...er, sorry, digressed there for a moment. Did I really say that? Apologies, only meant to think it.
But enough about me. The highlight of the weekend was the time spent with Cathy, Dave and Laurita on Friday. It was fantastic and I'll remember it for a long time. I'll post a few photos below, but you can link to a much better account of the day, and nicer photos, at Cathy's blog Life on the Muskoka River.
On a side note. I'm sure that at least one reader will be interested to know the outcome of the recent accidental husband-bear shooting incident court case that has been ongoing here in Newfoundland for almost three weeks now. The judge passed a verdict of 'not guilty' on the charge of criminal negligence causing death in the 2006 shooting of the Pennsylvania man. Justice LeBlanc noted that the Crown did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. You can link to the full CBC article here.
Dave returning from taking photos near water's edge (I caught Cathy glancing over their life insurance policy...specifically the 'rogue wave, sweeping loved-one to sea' clause).
Dave, just fussing lovingly with Cathy's hair. In the top right corner you can just make out 'the narrows'...the entrance to St. John's harbour.
Friday, October 1, 2010
One summer, when we were kids, my sister and I were flown across the Atlantic to spend a month with our Nana Lomax in a Glasgow tenement. Dad said that his mother had inherited all of the family magic. He told us she grew up on the misty banks of Loch Ness and ran away at a young age to join a circus passing through Aberdeen. He was a nice man, my dad, but I think he used to make stuff up.
Nana frequently took Giselle and me for walks along the municipal reservoir to throw stale bread at the loitering ducks. In the evenings, she would drop some vinyl on the turntable; the sounds of Mozart and Bach lifted our spirits and brightened her gloomy apartment. We read a lot of books and drank a lot of tea and, as I recall, the kettle on the stove never cooled down.
Nana lit a cigarette and squinted at the cups through smoke and thick lenses that hadn’t seen a wash since the Queen’s coronation. Giselle and I, our eyes as wide as the saucers on the table, parked our butts on the edges of nana’s wing-back chairs, breathless with anticipation.
The old woman was tight-lipped as she glanced at my sister with wizened eyes. “You bonnie wee lass. I’ll always be there to guide you and God’s love will always be with you,” she said with a sad smile and quickly set aside Giselle’s cup. Even though her reading was brief, my sister seemed pleased with the vision and threw herself back into her chair with a contended smile.
Nana predicted a couple of obvious things for me about sports, homework and the like and mumbled something strange about ‘hissing fountains’. Her long-term visions were more direct. She told me the leaves appeared amber, forming vertical lines, and said I was destined to marry a red haired woman. The two dark masses in the middle of the lines indicated we would have two children. Nana also saw many small, yellow objects that appeared to buzz about. I laughed and told her I didn’t see myself being a bee keeper when I grew up.
The following morning Nana woke us early because our flight home was at noon. She served us a rack of buttered toast at the kitchen table and busied herself at the counter cutting Spam into bite-sized chunks. A lit cigarette hung from her lips as she worked, though she was mindful not to let the ash fall in our food.
Nana filled a pot with water and placed it on the stove top to boil. She pulled a tin of peas from the cupboard and placed it in the water. As she waited for the water to boil she buttered more toast and added it to the rack. We protested, well aware that we had each gained several pounds during our stay, but she wouldn’t hear of it.
“Eat up, bairns! Food was hard tae come by in the auld country. I’ll nae have you going hungry.” I asked her where the ‘old country’ was. She didn’t reply.
Nana poured us glasses of milk and carried the plates of faux meat to the table. The tin of peas still sat in the boiling water as she shut off the burner. She fished about in the drawer and found a bottle opener and levered the triangular tip into the top of the tinned peas.
A loud hiss preceded the geyser of thick, green liquid that shot from the opening and hit the middle of the nicotine stain on the ceiling. Time stopped momentarily…her holding onto the opener, my sister with a piece of toast inches in front of her face and me with a mouthful of Spam.
Nana cranked the opener handle to fully remove the lid from the tin of peas. She came to our table and poured half of the green substance onto my plate and half on my sister’s plate. Green paste dripped from her cheeks and the end of her nose. She wiped her face with the sleeve of her housecoat and began tidying the kitchen. Giselle and I glanced at each other and tried to stifle our laughter.
That was the last time the three of us were together. My sister died days before Christmas that year of an inoperable brain tumor. As fate, or destiny, would have it, Nana Lomax died the same day back in Scotland. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the cancer that got her but a massive heart attack.
Nana’s predictions? Without a doubt, she and Giselle are managing nicely with God’s love…just like she said. I met a nice red haired girl in high school and we eventually had two daughters. I’ll amuse the girls now and then by ripping open a couple of tea bags and reading the leaves. I don’t have Nana’s magic, so I just make stuff up.
What the hell does a guy like me know about magic anyway? I spend all day driving around Manhattan in a yellow cab.