Thursday, June 7, 2012

Catch Me if You Can't

The air was soft and warm like Christmas Eve. There was no tree, nor were there any presents, ‘twas not the season. Yet, ‘tit felt like the season. A fire was ablaze in the fireplace (‘twould have been a different story altogether ‘twere it on the staircase). Lights ‘twere hung round the window panes and round the trunk of the potted palm in the corner of the room. There ‘twere no stockings hung from the mantle with care, but there ‘twas a stack of stockings, wet and muddy, piled carelessly by the washing machine in the back hall; the dog was giving them sniff.

There ‘twere relatives about, gathered from all corners of the globe. They had all come to witness the burial of Grandpapa, a man who always made it feel like ‘twere Christmas. He wore reindeer sweaters in July. He put candy and dollar bills in the children’s shoes no matter the time of year; each of the grandchildren had placed a shoe outside their sleeping quarters in case Grandpapa magically appeared on this, the night before his burial.

Outside, it was late August, hot and humid, but inside the house still felt like Christmas Eve. Or, better yet, felt like Grandpapa: soft and warm. If you put your ear to the floor, you could hear the rumblings of seventeen grandchildren playing Grandpapa’s favorite game in the basement: Catch Me if You Can’t! In this hilarious game, Grandpapa was always it, because he never caught anyone. He would get so close, but never quite tag you and you would howl with delight at the your daring escape. Tonight, they played as if Grandpapa ‘twere there, howling and squealing to keep his spirit alive!

written Monday, May 7, 2012 

This post is in memory of Ray Bradbury, the man who inspired me to write.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Vernix’s Amazing Nachos

Timothy walked around the corner only to realize that he had just walked around another corner. There were more corners in front of him, though he could only see one. Each corner led to the next and the next, and so on. He could smell the cheese; nachos.

Timothy hated going to Vernix’s house. Vernix had double-majored in architecture and psychology, and his custom built home reflected his brain’s abnormal structure. The hallway from the front door to the living room is an actual maze; literally. Once you ring the doorbell, you are admitted by a buzzer – well, the buzzer sounds more like a bell; Pavlovian (“Ha,ha, Vernix!"). It goes something like this: you ring the doorbell, Vernix buzzes (sounds like a bell) you in, the door opens, the smell of Vernix’s signature dish – the nachos – wafts down from a vent, Vernix begins the timer, and you start making your way through the maze. The thing is: Vernix’s nachos are amazing! So, the second you smell them you are determined to find your way through the maze, no matter how long it takes. The walls are moveable, so each visit to Vernix’s presents you with a new maze.

Timothy once took thirty seven minutes to finish the maze; he missed the first quarter of the Super Bowl. His best time is one-minute thirty seconds. Timothy has been coming to Vernix’s every Sunday for three years; his average time is three minutes forty-two seconds.

Today, Vernix installed mirrored walls, as well as a replica living room – giving Tim a false sense of victory – and once he touched the bowl of nachos in the middle of the room, the room began to collapse in and Timothy was forced out of what would have been the bathroom door in the actual living room. But, he didn’t end up in the bathroom – he was back in the foyer, facing the actual front door.

So, Timothy just gave up. He opened the front door to leave and stepped into the actual living room (“Nice one, Vernix!")!

The nachos were the best yet.

The fire

The fire waxed. Then, it waned. A cool, autumn breeze blew by. The fire waned, again. It breathed; a hot breath. It was red, then orange. There was…the smallest hint of blue; a tinge. It reached, stretched toward the sky. It was…warm. It longed…for fuel. It was dying to stay alive.

A pile of wood lie nearby…waiting…to help, to be the fuel…to help.

The fire waxed. It waned, again. Surrounded by a ring of rocks, then dirt, then benches, then…forest; a dark forest. There was a hum. A humming. Coming from…somewhere. A car? Idling? Maybe.

No, an airplane; overhead.

The fire fell. Now…only smoldering. Choking. Coals glowing. Red hot coals pulsing…with life? Crackling. Footsteps? On leaves? No, the coals.

The fire settled, cooled. The fire resigned. Was resigning? Yes? A shadow…no…a darkness surrounded one coal, then two, then all. Heat escaped…or, was escaping; rapidly. Darkness fell all around. Popping? The coals. The heat…embers inside the dark coals bursting to be free. Pressure. A few more…pop…pop…crack…yes, even a snap.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

Eyes? A raccoon? A possum? A deer. Two deer. Approached…were approaching. Then, they finished approaching and stood…sniffed…were sniffing…no…yes…were sniffing the coals. Their antlers clashed…ah…were clashing…their antlers, clashing together, scraping.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

The fire. It was startling…to the deer…the popping…they ran…were running…away.

The fire was out. Completely out; cold. It was.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Silhouette of Sickness

Tom felt terribly sick, as if he had swallowed glass, just like that man he saw on That’s Incredible! He wondered if that man ever felt this way? Did his stomach feel hard, like a rock, on the outside, and sharp, like fire, on the inside; like hell’s gumball?

Tom sat there staring at the wall that was spotted with antique silhouettes of his ancestors, their profiles rigid and stern looking, wondering if they ever felt this way? Did he inherit this gene from one of those silhouettes? Could he see, in one of those cut pieces of black paper – a mere shadow of his relative – the same expression of pain that besieged his face and caused lines to form where there had been none before?

Tom had a notion to rise and cross the room to get a closer look at the silhouettes, to see if he could discern any sign of pain in the cutouts of his ancestors, but the slight press of his hand against the arm of the chair caused his stomach to spew daggers in all directions and he let out a howl that could have woke the silent silhouettes, and did indeed wake the neighbor’s dog.

It was just after that moment, that moment of unspeakable pain, that Tom decided to become a vegetarian and resolved to have his picture taken, in full color, with an expression on his face that would tell his descendants, undeniably, that yes, one of their ancestors felt their pain.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ashes, Ashes: She fell down

He walked close to the edge, grasping the brown paper bag close to his side. He fell to the back of the group, increasing his chances of inconspicuousness. The group was larger than usual, larger than he had expected, which only helped to salve his fear of being found out. And this sort of action - the one he would soon undertake - was, of course, highly frowned upon.

If a strong wind were to pick up, or if even a slight breeze blew through as he released his mother's ashes, the rest of the tour group would be engulfed by his late mother and, of course, conspiracies of terrorism and white powder would begin to circulate or, even worse, someone would scream 'How dare he?' or, 'How could he?' and sue for reckless endangerment of their entitlement.

But, it was a calm day and Gerry was able to slip to the back of the pack, out of view of the leader, and gently empty his mother's ashes over the edge and into the valley; it was her dying wish. Her ashes fell through the air. A gentle breeze took her out, away from the cliff side, and she dispersed into her dream.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Family Tree

Collaboration proved inevitable, the warring neighbors would have to succumb to the pressures of the circumstances and cease their century-old feud to rectify the situation. One of the children – of the family with the slightly larger family crest on their front gate – was stuck in the maple tree. But, not ‘stuck’ as in their foot was wedged between two branches, or their fear of heights rendered them motionless, no, they were ‘stuck’ to one of the children of the other family – the family with the more brightly colored silos; the larger silos.

The maple tree was off limits, had been for over a century. The trunk of the mighty maple lay on the dividing line of the properties of the two factions: The Maxons and the Supners. The feud began – it is told – sometime around a hundred years ago when the families agreed, during a period of drought, that neither would divert a nearby stream that runs along the back of their properties. But, for the last century that stream has caused innumerable skirmishes, and the occasional fistfight, between sons and wives, fathers and daughters.

But today, Martha Maxon and Stewart Supner were up in the tree, their braces locked together, tied to each other while trying to secretly settle the centuries old standoff. A rather large group of Maxons and Supners had gathered to see the scene. There were shouts of ‘treason’ and ‘traitor’, and even a murmur of a ‘hangin’.

Each family lined up along the property line, except for Martha and Stewart who were up in the tree, stretching their necks to see what would happen below. Then, just as is seemed like the battle to end all battles was to begin, Mark Maxon confessed his undying love for Sarah Supner. He told of their midnight rendezvous in the Supner silos. Mark and Sarah took each other’s hands and climbed into the tree to join Martha and Stewart. A hush fell over the crowd. There was hardly a sound, except for the breeze through the maple leaves and the slightest sound of lips smacking coming from the tree.

Martin Maxon was standing across the line from Samantha Supner - she had the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. She had put her hair back – expecting a fight – and her cheeks glistened in the sun. Her boots were covered in manure and sweat ran down her neck. He remembered the time when they were eight that she called him a snot-nosed sow on the school bus. Or the time, twelve summers ago during the Solstice Skirmish when, at nine years old, they met in the Supner barn and wrestled in the hay for three hours until they were exhausted and fell asleep. Martin awoke with the sun at six a.m. and watched Sarah sleep for what seemed like an hour. He rose without waking her, blew a kiss to her cheek, and left dreaming of the day he would ask her to marry him.

As Martin looked into Samantha’s eyes and thought of all this, behind his back he was making a ring out a piece of hay. He knelt, one knee on the dividing line, and said, “Samantha Supner, I have always loved you. Will you marry me?”

Samantha put the shit covered sole of her boot on Martin’s shoulder, kicked him onto his back, jumped on top of him and said, “Hell yes, Martin! What took you so long? Ya damn fool!” They jumped to their feet, kissed, and scampered up the tree.

Two by two, the Maxons and the Supners confessed their taboo love, skipped off, and climbed up the tree. Even Great Grandma Supner and Great Grandpa Maxon – now both widowed and reaching a century in age themselves – finally divulged their deepest secrets: how they had always loved each other, how they could never tell their families, how, for years, they stood amongst the fields of shorn corn stalks in autumn, an acre apart, and looked into each other’s souls wondering if ever the day would come when they could be in each other’s arms. Never a word passed between them. Yet, every autumn for ninety-five years they met after the harvest and stared into each other’s eyes. They watched the maple grow from sapling, to shade tree, to the enormous, strong tree it is today. Grandma and Grandpa stepped to the base of the mighty maple and were helped up by all that had come after them; all that had gone before them, into the tree. They sat on the lowest branch, holding hands, remembering the first autumn they saw the other, feeling like it was just yesterday.

The great maple held four generations of Supners and Maxons it its boughs, and there were a few of the young ladies with the fifth generation growing inside them.

Mr. Maxon and Mr. Supner, the reluctant patriarchs whose duty it was to keep the feud fueled, looked at their wives is dismay, then looked back at each other and growled. Simultaneously, Mrs. Maxon and Mrs. Supner slapped their husbands across the cheek, then ran, hand in hand like giddy schoolgirls, to the base of the tree and disappeared up into the leaves.

The two men stood in awe of their blindness. The maple, usually amass with squawking crows, was now afire with smacking lips. The men shuffled over the trunk and looked to up, in disbelief, to see the most beautiful family tree.

By Christopher M. Bohan

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Charlie, the Crane Operator

Charlie, the crane operator, had two choices: the swinging metal ball, or the claw. Now, the claw is, of course, the more conservative choice considering the size of the job - a small brick home next for the site of the new office complex. Charlie figured he could get the job done in one day with the claw. The claw kept things neat and tidy, and there was a sense of control when you used the claw; it is a methodical tool.

But yesterday, Charlie's son came home from school with red eyes, scratched knuckles and a torn shirt. Ever since Vivian passed last summer, Junior has been very angry. Vivian had been sick since he was eight, but losing a mother at twelve can leave a young man, who is on the verge of manhood, feeling helpless and powerless. Charlie understood why his son was angry, but knew not what to do. He, too, felt helpless, powerless.

Charlie attached the swinging metal ball to the crane and began swinging at the helpless, powerless brick structure. The first swing crashed through the corner of the first floor and the second floor came crumbling down on top of it; only the chimney left standing. Charlie brought the ball back for a second swing as tears began to fill his eyes and his chest began to heave. He began to scream. The ball sailed toward the chimney and collided with the stack, sending bricks in all directions.

by Christopher M. Bohan