Monday, September 19, 2016

My Jewish Summer.

My Jewish summer moved me-and I was moved.
Sitting by the lake with my grandfather, Abraham,
we sang songs of past wars, remembering our ancestors.
The darkness came full force, and I could not waken
the spirit that was sleeping in me.  So my grandfather
made me a cup of hot chocolate and sang "Dance For Peace,"
which made me get up and dance-it wasn't a Jewish dance,
but Abraham laughed and poured me more hot chocolate.
By then I was getting full, but I drank to please him,
just as I did everything to please him every single day.
My job was to please him.  I married my wife to please him-
even though she has physical beauty, she does not have
my heart.  I opened my mouth to speak, but no sound
came out-I didn't think he would be interested, anyway.
The quietness came over me as the last of the flamingos
scored away over the sparkling water of the bright ocean,
and I could see their wings flapping and wished I could fly.
"The bird is the word," he'd said, and I didn't know what
it meant.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Night Sky.

In the sky, my heart flows with the stars,
stirring at night, flying high above us.
I twirl and twirl until everything spins,
faster and faster, like the eyes of the world.

You said to me, "What greatness is vast,
as the ocean itself?  What patterns are immaculate?"
Then, a meteor appeared, so large it took over
the entire sky, and there was an eclipse,

and it was vast.  The vastness was immaculate.
Everything was pure.  Everything grew dim.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016





Rash Sightings
Ariel Chance
Commander Michael Rexford
Forrest Warren

The Exploding Sun Dog. Story.




Rash Sightings
Ariel Chance
Commander Michael Rexford
Forrest Warren


            The Hall of Trinity echoed with his footsteps, and the generator hummed outside of the orbiting space station.  It was dark out, and the Space Man went down the hall, opened a door, and went inside.  The room was painted with blue, and it had a blue trimming.  He went forward slowly, his mind sweeping the room, and he sat down, hard, on the recliner.  Within minutes, he was asleep.  His head leaned back, his mouth parted, revealing spit.  His eyes were blue, a deeper blue than the bluest ocean, and everything about it was as vast as the Universe itself.  For, he was the First Born of the Sun God, Minerva, and they were in a different part of the Universe, conversing with space bugs and creating stars.  The Space Man’s first Naming Day had come and gone, and his name was Rash Sightings, a human name.  The Space Station was old, and clips of it were stored in the memory banks.  He had come here after his parents decided to kick him out of their house, which was the House of Snow and Rain.  There was ice and rain in space, but it was mostly filled with oxygen.  Oxygen in space was not known before by Earthlings, but was such discovered by Jupiterians in the 23rd Century.  Sometime during the Third Cycle of Trahn, two beings floated into his room-they had gray skin and black eyes shaped like almonds, their mouths just thin slits in their faces.  Their hands were long, like tree branches.  He had been in many parts of the Universe, and he had never seen aliens like those before.  He wondered dimly what they were in his sleep.  He thought he must be dreaming.  He felt he must be. 
            “What…?”  he said sleepily.  He turned his head sideways.
            The female Grey moved forward, her feet pattering on the cold floor.  “We’ve come to see you, Rash,” she whispered sweetly, like a nightingale’s song.  She didn’t have any hair.  He thought all women must have hair on their heads. 
            “Because you’re the Last One,” she responded.  “We need to warn you.  Danger in the Universe.  You aren’t safe.  Your parents sent us, a long time ago, and we were forgotten.  We won’t forget what the humans did for us-what their sacrifice is.  Nothing matters to us but peace and serenity.”
            “I don’t want to talk about peace now,” he murmured.
            The male leaned forward earnestly.  “You will be fine,” he said anxiously.  “If you believe.”
            “Believe in what?”
            “Oh…everything.  Nothing.  Logic.  Yourself.”  He waved his hand away.  “It doesn’t matter.  We’ve said all we had to say in your DNA.”
            “What does that…?”  He started, but they were gone, and he was alone, again, in the simple room with the recliner and the television set, and the recorder that sat on the table.  He jolted himself awake and stared at the recorder, and got up and left the room.  He didn’t know what it was for, but he could probably guess.  The aliens must have wanted him to recite poems.  He didn’t want to do any of that.   
*          *          *     
            “What are you doing here?”  he asked his parents, bored.  They had come from a party; his mother wore a blue party dress, and his father, Sin Sahn, wore a red suit.  He thought it was ugly. 
            “My boy, can’t a father see his doting son?”  he questioned.
            The large sun orbited around a smaller, celestial star.  The star was cold, and vast, in the depthness of space, and it hummed methodically.  Finding a star that hummed was an impossible find, and it was written in the records at the Hall of Trinity, where the Hall of Records were stored.  It was not the human race; it was the race of Ellinians, who dwelled in the coldness, and its divine eccentricities. The light from the star had gone; the scientists watched it from the large telescope in the midst of space, spinning consistently, and humming.  The scientists wrote down the information and it was sent to more Labs, and they gave the star a name-Mr322xxz.   
            Rash Sightings was not an ordinary being.  He had a consistency of being in trouble, and although he tried very hard to be normal, everyone could see that he clearly wasn’t.  His overzealous need to succeed, was undefined, and other people thought he was stupid and cocky.  His mere presence drove women to tears; sometimes, when they cried, their tears turned to diamonds and fell, shattering, to the ground.  He collected a lot of the diamonds and sold them on the black market and bought a bicycle with the money.  On the planet of Ellin, where he was born, it was always cold-the coldness was in his bones, for he was a cold-blooded creature, and his people crash-landed on the planet several millenia ago, back when the dinoplads still lived on the planet.  The people were simplistic in nature, and did not have any craft except for submarines and bicycles.  Most people lived in trees, for their arms were long, like spiders, and their mouths were thin.  The trees were long, thin, gray, and had crooked branches, and the shadows from the trees fell upon the ground every sunset.  Unlike Earth, the sun was very close to the planet, and many of the people were lazy and rude and did not want to work.  They complained every single day about their jobs, and some often quit, without warning, and disappeared forever. 
            They were enticed by adventure, and went to go on vacation in submarines and ended up dying because they didn’t bring enough provisions.  They were stupid creatures, stupid and needy and relied on technology instead of their own brains.  It grew so tiring, that the President of Ellin, a human being, wanted to end his life.  His name was Maruc Kerin Andon, and he was fifty-three years old.  He had brown eyes and brown hair and he lived in the Embassy, because human beings could not live in the domed cities with the Ellinians-it was against Ellinian law.  All human beings on the planet were criminals; being human was their only crime, because that was the cheapest law they could put into practice.  The building was very large, and made entirely out of gold, for they had sent satellites to distant planets and brought back different chemical components and turned them into something useful, like a television set, a car, and a broken radio. 
            They did not understand the ways of human beings, and copied some of their ideas, but they were used in ways that did not help them progress to where they needed to be.  They had sent satellites to Earth and had seen the images of human beings at work.  One of the scientists built a teleportal, which allowed beings to travel from one place to the next.  The President of Ellin ordered several human beings to be kidnapped, and after they arrived safely on the planet, the teleportal was destroyed, and the scientist disappeared.  Maruc’s real problem was his bald head.  He wanted to have long hair, like the other Eillinians, and he had many surgeries to fix the problem and the hair always fell out. 
            Most of the time, he spent his days at the office looking at himself in a holographic mirror that could shape his face into any way he wanted.  Sometimes, he chose to have blue eyes; one time, he made his nose so big he looked like a horntensheik.  He called many businesses and asked them if they had real wigs; they always called back, and shouted they didn’t. 
            Businesses on Ellin always shouted at each other, because they thought that was how things were supposed to be.  The businessmen usually only worked until lunchtime, and then they went home to be with their partners. 
            Maruc received a call from the smartest man in the world, a scientist/doctor/lawyer. 
            His name was Ariel Chance, and he had blonde, curly hair, and pointed ears.  He was two hundred years old.  He said they had found a planet that was made entirely out of an ocean, and did they want to inhabit it.  He replied, “No, we don’t,” for he represented all the beings on Ellinian.  He was chosen by a group of beings called Elected Representatives. 
            Maruc did not like Ariel, and thought he was a busybody-he was always calling about something or other, and it drove him crazy.  He paced back and forth in his office, stroking his beard, and looked out the window.  He wished he could get off the planet, but there was no way out.  The man who invented the teleportal was missing.  Maybe he went to another planet; maybe he was dead. Maruc decided to find out.  He called his secretary, and asked her to find the information he needed, and she called back and gave him the address where the scientist lived.  Maruc put the piece of paper in his pocket, took his bicycle-he got one with rockets on either end-and pedaled down the street, happy to finally have found something to do.  He was going to go to the scientist’s house and find information, if he could.  He stared down at the paper in his hand, and returned his attention back to the mansion.  It was old.  Spooky.  He swallowed hard, and walked up the stone steps to the front door and rang the doorbell.  No one answered; maybe he wasn’t home.  He put his hand on the doorknob and the door swung open, inward.  The door creaked when it opened.  He scuffed his feet on the carpet in the doorway, and went through, down the hall.  The door swung shut behind him, with a loud bang.     
            He went up the stairs to the second floor, and looked around.  The mansion looked empty, as if it had not been lived in for years.  He went into the second room on the right-it was Ariel’s office.  A computer was on the desk, and it was still on.  Maruc went over to it and pressed a button and the computer flashed.  “Stop it!” it screamed.  “I’m busy!”  It was a talking computer.
            Maruc crouched in front of it.  “Have you seen Ariel?”  he asked it.
            “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY!  Intruder alert!  Intruder alert!”  The computer was sobbing.  Maruc expected it to break into tears at any minute-he didn’t know computers could do that.  Maybe it was a new invention.  Ariel was an inventor, also. 

            It took a few minutes for Maruc to realize the computer thought he was the intruder.  He reached over and flicked it off.  He rummaged through the scientist’s desk, and pulled out a map and several files, tucked it into his shirt.  He went down the stairs.  It was nice and quiet.  He hadn’t had a lot of peace and quiet.  His mind was in a muddle.  Where could the scientist be?  Last week’s mail was on the table in the kitchen.  Maruc looked around the place once, twice, and hurried down the front steps to his bicycle and went home.  

Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Today we danced.  It was wonderful
to have

someone in your arms, moving slowly to the music,
letting it drain in your body, letting the waves move over
you, and the feel of your love in your arms.

Then, her arms became twisted, like the trunks of a tree
that shiver in the morning light, its arms raising to the sun,
the beginning of warmth that encompasses you,

and your lover.  I have found dancing is the best way to
let someone know you love them-and I like all kinds of music,
rap, hip hop, rock and roll, and we'd rock and rolled all night,

dancing, swaying, thinking of the glory of the sun and

everyone in it.

No One Wants To Hear Them.

The flowers are blooming in the yard.
My sister is singing to her two-year-old sun,
who is rising out of the ashes in a song.  Tomorrow is never
coming, but today is always here.  I make chocolate milk.
Yesterday I walked into the door.  It wasn't the first time,
but not the time before that, and the time before that,
I too, woke up into a song.

I don't remember how I got there/
someone must have drove me.

I eat chocolate all the time.  It makes me less fat,
it burns calories.

I try to change myself for myself, but still I am angry
at the death of my father, my brother's poorness,
the inequality of a country.  Not sure which country,
maybe all of them, because we still have poverty,
we still have the poor trying to sing for their supper,

when no one wants to hear them.
I do.
But I dare not say.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

beginning, messed up format on word

Mond Itlet
Ellerhynwyn Monteserrio
Sebastian Monteserrio
Raven Crest
* *
“We have to protect him,” King Herod muttered. He didn't like the sound of it, himself. The words were foreign on his tongue, and he tried to grasp his mind around it-around the infinite. He didn't know what he was going to do about the war, didn't want tobother thinking about it or their current situation. He only knew the kingdoms surrounding Hanover wanted to fight him, and he had been forced to comply. He shuddered, thinking what Derrin Whitevest would have done if he'd had the dagger in his hand. He didn't want to think about it. He was a good enough soldier, but he wasn't the best. “We're walking into the dawn,” the soldier intoned. His face was set in stone, and his eyes were drawn in tight little slits. He looked over at the sleeping body of Ellerhynwyn Monteserrio, the man they were supposed to protect. He wasn't too happy about the current events. He didn't like Ellerhynwyn, and wanted him to suffer. Badly. He had scraped himself on their walk from Tempal to Honwrin, and he was chuckling to himself about it still. He didn't think he could do anything about their current situation, except like it and lump it and maybe things will work out again on their own. He hoped so. He felt he didn't have a time line. He never consulted his commanding officer, Rivurus Snower, and was upset about how demanding their time was. They only cared about one thing-which was gaining compensation for their losses. They had lost a lot. Mond Itlet lost his entire house in a fire; and his three brothers and sisters and his parents were missing, presumed dead. That was a lot to lose. That wasn't much to gain, either. He swallowed hard and stared at the rising sun, contemplating their next move. He was sure Elven soldiers were on their trail, seeking them out to kill them. He didn't like it. Didn't like the looks of it. Not anymore.
“We should go home,” he said to Raven Crest. He looked bored. He was a superb soldier, born and bred of Ikeinenian descent, and lived in Hanover most of his life. Ikein was an ancient country that had been transformed into the Thiidd Kingdom, part of the Chefton and Williamson countryside. Most of it belonged to King Herod, even though it was not in the kingdom anymore-it was outside of Hanover. The place was breathtakingly beautiful, but deadly for magic creatures of all kinds. It was an interesting feat, one that was permeated from the source of all creation. It was said Merlin created the world with his staff. It was said he died in the creation of it, or returned to Earth. Nobody knew for certain, and he most likely didn't care. Not really.
“What am I going to do,” he murmured.
Raven wasn't listening. He stared straight ahead, trying to contemplate the rashness of their defeat. The heaviness of what they were trying to accomplish. Peace and stability in Hanover and abroad, if possible, which it most likely wasn't. He swallowed a mouthful of beer and handed it to Ellerhynwyn. Ellerhynwyn smiled and took the drank, grateful for it. “Thanks,” he told him.
“Not again,” Railan Lenkr groaned, and shook his head. “What are you doing, Rail? You trying to get yourself killed again?” He scowled and put his face in his hands and looked up at the rising sun. It was morning. He and his commanding soldiers walked all night, and had finally reached Inen Isle, the territory between the Western Front and the Lanin Borders, before the Elven territory. He hated thinking about the Elves. They were so creepy. They enjoyed killing people for sport, as well as animals and humans. They hated humans with a passion. He’d read once, a long time ago, before the airship was invented, that humans and Elves lived in peace and harmony-yeah, right. That was a good one. Humans and Elves were never going to cooperate; never going to share; and they certainly didn’t care to like each other.
He reached up and felt the knob on his head and made a face and scowled. He should have used magic to take down the tanker-he had magic, and was able to use it. He knew he wasn’t supposed to, but nobody followed the rules. Nobody knew where magic came from, or what they were supposed to do with it, only that it caused a lot of useless problems and trauma and nothing could be done about the wars. Most wars sprang from magic.
The wizard walked down the road and looked back at the cart that was snaking its way behind him, as if being pushed along the ground by itself. Railan Lenkr had been walking all day and he was getting tired-he needed some serious downtime and didn’t want to think about anything else other than relaxing, and food. Food was first and foremost on his mind and he wanted to find a restaurant or a pub or tavern and eat until he was full. He was glad for the money he had earned as a soldier, even if it meant doing things he wouldn’t normally do. He shrugged his shoulder impassively and didn’t know what he was going to do about food in the next few days, or the next few weeks. “Well,” he said impatiently, and shook his head. “Come along, I don’t got all day. You coming or not?”
The cart snaked along behind him. The wizard scowled and turned around and walked forward again, making sure the pack was firmly in its place on his back. His shadow crawled along behind him on the ground and he had the funniest feeling that he was the only person in the entire world. The sun was going down over the hills and a soft wind moaned, ruffling his hair. He didn’t know where he was going now, only that it was dark and he was cold and scared. Goosebumps rose up on his arms and he swallowed hard and tried not to cry. A tear squeezed down the corner of his eye. He tried not to cry. He didn’t want to cry. Even if he was by himself. He hadn’t cried since he was a little kid. He shook his head and walked on.
“I am a wizard,” the stranger admitted.
The Elder frowned. “What kind of wizard?” he asked hastily. The term was frowned upon in the Western Kingdoms, specifically Hanover, Redder, and Journ.
He looked confused. His eyebrows scrunched up. “Well, what do you mean by that?”
“What I mean is,” he said impatiently, “what kind of wizard are you? Are you a White Wizard, or a Dark Wizard?”
The stranger shrugged nonchalantly. “A long time ago, before Murdock was born, I was in a battle. That is how I got the scar underneath my eye.” He pointed to the scar. The Elder frowned and nodded and urged him to continue. “I woke up in the hospital. Nothing else happened before or since-I have seen doctors and healers. No one has been able to heal me. I couldn’t even remember my own name, and changed it to Railan Lenkr.”
Beff Muchelo pursed her lips and nodded. “I can see that,” she said, and nodded. “How long have you had the scar?”
He shrugged and ran a hand through his thick, curly hair. He had dyed it brown. It was blonde before. “I don’t know. I guess, seventeen years.”
“You are still a youngling.”
He made a face. “I prefer to be called an apprentice.”
“You are my apprentice.”
“What are you going to do with your magic?” She was curious. She’d had a dream about it before and consulted the healer, Heriana Kessler, and hadn’t brought back the best results. She was broad-shouldered and powerful and had a list of powerful enemies, including King Herod. There was a story behind the hatred, but no one knew what it was, only that it involved magic and the Bloodstone.
“I would like to become a kything,” he replied.
“What’s that? The term sounds familiar, but I’ve never heard of it before.”
“It’s a term used by people who are gifted in telepathy, and can connect the bridge between the subconsciousness and the consciousness and make memories whole again. In other words, amnesia no more.” He spread his hands and smiled.
She nodded. “I guess I can see where you are coming from, although I do not like it or understand it. I have never been in the hospital.”
“Never? What about when you were born?”
She shrugged. “I was born in Jin-Dyng Castle,” she replied. “In the Eleventh Kingdom.”
“What’s the name of the Eleventh Kingdom?”
“Nothing, it’s just called the Eleventh Kingdom.”
“Oh. Right. I see.” She pursed her lips and didn’t say anything else.
That night, the stranger left, carrying his wagon behind him and making his way slowly down the trail. The dust swirled around his feet and the sun was getting lower and lower in the sky. Shadows loomed over him and goosebumps rose up and down his flesh and he didn’t know what he was looking for, only that he was looking straight ahead, towards home, and he was going by himself. He hated traveling alone. He didn’t have any reason to be anywhere, other than for food and board and nobody helped, not even at the Tower of High Sorcery. The light was going lower and lower in the sky and everything around him was cold and dark, and he felt naked and alone. He’d heard werewolves dwelled in the woods and the woods were caught in rims against the setting sun. The sun was a bursting ball of fire.
* * *
The wizard was afraid of everything, and the Dark Magic made him bad. He was a terrible liar. He lied about everything from what he had for breakfast that morning, to how much money he had in the bank. He was not someone who could defend the good guys from the bad. He was not someone to look up to-in fact, he was a terrible person and he had his terrible ways and the terrible ways he looked about things. His hair was scraggly. His mind was unfocused. He had trouble misusing things. He had trouble speaking his mind. He was caught up in the web of grief that wrapped around his face and made him gasp for breath, made him think he was beyond anything that was what he knew. Death was not like that. Death was sudden, still. Stiller than breath, than the eyes that could see. Stiller than everything in the deep dark despair that was everywhere and in everything. The heart of the matter was this. Things were gone. Everything was broken. Death was continual. Nothing else but death. The pain was unhealing. Nothing could stop the pain. It went on and on and on, in his mind. He sat on a bench at the train depot, thinking. He was going to go. He was going to go to war. He had not been called to war-the war had called to him. He had nowhere else to go. His mother threw him out of the house and he was left with nothing but a bag of things and the clothes on his back. He had a hundred pense and that would last him awhile, but not long enough to last forever. He needed something that would last forever-something to sate the hunger that gnawed deep inside of him and forced him to change, to succeed. Everything in it had transcended. Everything in it was eventual. His mind was made up. He was going to go to war. It would not be the same kind of war. It was a war of magic. War of magic was different from a regular war.
“How often do you use Dark Magic?” the man in the black hat asked, cocking his head to study the Dark Elder. He was really very interested in the subject of Dark Magic. He bragged about it to a man in the white booth. He was slurping on his soup. The storm outside was growing. More clouds formed. He was afraid for the dragons. Humans offered them houses, large houses by the sea, but they refused, saying their wings were much too large to be indoors. They shed a lot, and the scales were large, massive things. Damsel the Impaler helped wherever she could, but she was devoted to the unicorns who saved her in her time of need. The need was no longer there, save for her desire to protect them. Unicorns were very rare. Dragons were much more stable in their breeding and bred whenever it was possible. There were over four hundred in the kingdom alone.
He chuckled. “Every chance I get,” he replied.
“How does it make you feel?”
He shrugged, fiddled with his robe. “I don’t know,” he muttered. “I use it to help me.” He didn’t like talking about magic. It set him apart. He was afraid it would set him apart too much.
“Did you ever kill anybody with it?” he prodded.
He shrugged. “I was expelled once,” he answered. “Expelled from college-they never let me back in. I went to the Tower of High Sorcery. Everyone was very nice to me. I was taught under by a man named Mortard Fulgorth. He had big ears and a jittery laugh. He was nervous.”
“How so?” The stranger’s name was Adward Liersen.
“He was afraid of everything,” he replied, frowning. “One of the Elders say he was struck by lightning-it gave him a start. He never wanted to go outside. Stayed inside, playing with his magic cards.”
He was really interested. “What can his magic cards do?” he queried. He was boiling an egg on the stove. The water was boiling over. He took the pan off the oven, and took out the eggs and peeled them in the sink. He always said peeling eggs was a lot like peeling a potato. It was night. The Dark Elder spent the night. He told the man he would have bad dreams-he caught sight of magic outside his house. The man did not know he was gifted in magic. The magic was interesting, and it whirled around him in sheets. A clap of thunder. Snow fell through the trees and sheltered them. It was cold. The wind was cold and it was sharp at their backs and the winter made everything even colder. They hunched over the wind, their hair flew wildly, looking like a bird’s nest. Everybody was ecstatic about the start of winter, but Savinn Asjinn was more worried than excited. He expected it would be a long one. A long one, and full of coldness and darkness. In the kingdom of Flowers, the winters were dark; the cold got inside of a person and made people wince. No one knew why. Or where the sun went. Everyone expected it was magic. Some people thought the winter was Dark Magic. Most of the ones who did were illiterate.
“I think I’m going to go over there.”
“Over where?”
“Over the hills,” he said, “near the trees. I want to build a fire.” The soldier took off running; he tripped and fell over a stone. He bent to pick it up; it glowed. His eyes widened. He could not stop staring at the glowing. It glowed from within. The glow came from magic, probably. Or something close to magic. He dropped the stone in his pocket and forgot about it. He was thinking about food, and of war. War was always on his mind. War was a travesty. War was a burden. War was something he did not want to discuss with the world. He swallowed hard. War was terrible. That much he knew was true.
* * *
A blast shook the entire world. Edward Neilson craned his neck to look up at the sky, a puzzled expression on his face. Where had it come from? It was strange, how everything seemed to turn chaotic when everything had been at peace moments before. He swallowed hard. Were they at war? At school, there had been talk of war. At home, the house had been tense, silent. No room for free thought. It was becoming very problematic. He stroked his beard in silence. He didn’t know what to do about the war. War was a terrible waste of everything. A terrible waste of time. A terrible waste of money. A terrible waste of everything. Another blast. Someone near him screamed-he turned to look, and it was Wilson Cramwell, the man who twice saved his life. He had gone down. He reached for him-his body reached out for him and then the man’s fingers was still.
A gasp shook through him. He reeled outside of himself, trying to think of something, anything. To get himself out of the situation. He shook his head. He didn’t know what to do to help anyone. Magic was the only thing that ever helped.
“What do you mean, I’ve been stripped of my Wizard Title?” Ellerhynwyn Monteserrio stared at King Herod, a shocked expression on his face. “I can’t believe it’s happening to me!” He shook his head to clear away the cobwebs that sprang up in his mind. He still had the matter of his sprained ankle to attend to-a lot of the skin had been cleared off, and even bone was shown underneath. It happened late last night, while he was asleep in his camp. No one knew it was coming, not even the seer they hired-Kerianna. She insisted she was mostly a healer, and had been good to her word. She was a kind woman. A soft-spoken woman and had black hair and brown eyes and a nervous smile, the smile twitched the corner of her mouth and even her eyes smiled. She was a one in a million healer, but even she could not heal the wound in his heart. He swallowed hard. He was going to have to consult a White Elder-one of the hierarchs at the Tower of High Sorcery, the only government on the corrupt world of Merlin.
He licked his lips. They were dry and cacked and bleeding-another problem he was going to have to solve. He wanted to talk to King Herod first. Alone. Without anyone else in the vicinity.
“I explained this to you last night,” he said shortly. “You cannot have the title while we are at war with the Axons. It is dangerous. Nothing quite so dangerous as war itself, but you don’t know what they are capable of. They fear wizards and magic of all kinds. We sent Elves as agents in secret, and they have not come back yet. We may have to send you to retrieve them. Maybe they’re under some kind of magic spell.”
He was puzzled. “I thought you said they hated magic,” he protested. His leg was starting to go numb. He couldn’t leave yet. Not without all of his questions answered, and his heart was heavy in his mind.
* * *
Savinn stumbled into the doorway of the restaurant. Faces looked up at him. Then back down at their dinners. Conversation was hushed and muted; no one wanted to talk about the winter that would not leave, the winter that seemed to last forever.
“What is that thing?” Savinn Asjinn demanded placidly.
“It’s called the Bloodstone,” the stranger replied softly.
“Why is it called that?”
The stranger glared. “Because I said so.”
Savinn recoiled. “Sorry, sorry,” he complained. “Just asking.” He paused. “What are you doing with it?”
He shrugged. “I thought it was a great thing. A lady came, and I didn’t want it anymore. I want to spend more time with the lady. I need someone to take it off my hands, but I can’t give it away.”
“Why can’t you give it away?” Savinn demanded, his eyes hungry. He licked his lips.
“Because it was forbidden. The magic would leave if I did. Or, it would turn into Dark Magic-I forgot which.” He frowned. “Whatever.”
The daemon lived in the mountains and the mountain was made of snow. He was a terrible thing to look at. He had sharp features; a slanted nose; wide forehead; and green scales that glittered like diamonds or the stars at night. The stars rose overhead and they were vast as the ocean. The daemon did not like humans. He loathed them, with a fierce loathsome foreboding that wrapped around himself and forced him to behave in a way that was both malicious and rude. The trees were large; everything around it was large. The daemon lived in a great, big castle all by himself. He did not want to live there. He wanted to be free and live among the humans; because of his birthright, it was denied of him. The wind whistled and blew and everything was around it; and the wind whistled and sang. He loved to eat and went to the river and fished in the river and the river was full of fish. The spider found a pole-he always seemed to find everything almost instantly-and winced and dropped the pole into the river and tried to catch a fish. He could not catch anything. He did not want to go down to the city, for someone would see him and he did not want to be seen. Everything around him was deathly still. So still, he could not breathe-his eyes blinked, flashed madly. Everything was perfect. Perfect and still. The snow fell. The wind whistled. His mouth opened and he sang:

We are of mountain/of burdened snow,
We do not know where we go-
We haven’t found a way behind,
We push past darkness and deep we find,
Nervous now, nervous yet,
Look for the shadow of the silhouette.

The Power of the Six protected Merlin for several thousand millennia-beyond the grain of sand, of wind and rain and lightning, the world spun and the magic spun with it; delved short of nothing of the cold that was in it. The magic delved further into the heart of things; further into the greatness that was the abyss, and made up of everything. Further than the eyes of Torn; the breath of speak; the light that wove through anything. Everything was shattered. Everything was in ruin. The man stood among the ruins, his hands stuffed deep in the pocket of his jeans. He looked ready to bolt from the spot at any minute. He grunted. The wind grunted back.
“Well, old gal,” he told the krying spider. “What are we to do with you?”
“Feed,” the spider said pitifully, and skittered under his feet. He forgot to mention he was terrified of spiders. Beyond terrified. He wanted to kill it. He remained calm. The spider’s eyes reflected sincerity; depthness; intelligence. He had seen spiders before. Spiders were not intelligent.
“Why do we call it krying, anyway?” he continued, his lips trying to part into an almost half smile, the smile of something that had never wavered, had never been worn-the danger was in it all, was in everything. The danger was everywhere. He could smell it. Could smell the way everything was. Everything could be. “Why not have a different spelling? A different sort of spelling in the name, the way the name is shaped. The way it is.”
“You’re babbling,” the spider reminded him.
The man laughed. His laughter rolled across the dust and the spider winced. He was afraid, he feared man, as well as everything else. Everything was to be feared. He did not know why he was afraid; only that it comforted him, and he wanted the man to go away. He said it aloud.
He rose to his feet and nodded. “I’ve come this far, and seen ghosts,” he told him. “I saw many ghosts.”
“They scare me.”
“So, leave, old man.”
“Why’d you call me that?” the spider asked sharply.
His name was Harper. He was a harpist. He was an orphan and had been living in the Red Plains his entire life; it was nowhere near the Great Plains, but the Red Plains were close by. Harper loved to sing. He loved to fiddle. He could do almost anything. He squinted down at the krying spider. “How many of you are there left?” he asked pleasantly enough, and very, very quietly.
The spider sniffed. “I don’t right know,” he apologized. “I only know of cold; of loneliness; of the mind and body. That is all.”
“What of your god?”
“God?” He laughed bitterly. “I don’t know about God. I know about magic.”
“Are you a magician?”
“Very funny.”
The krying spider rolled over on himself. And straightened.
“What was that for?” Harper couldn’t stop laughing. His insides were tickling. He hoped the krying spider hadn’t drugged him with something from the river. That would be just like him.
“Nothing,” the spider protested. “I was just…rolling over. I do that sometimes.” If the spider could blush, he sure would have.
The night was cold. The man went away and the spider crawled into its little home, and slept; and the stars broke out, full and beautiful, in the sky; and everything was bright. The color of brightness was everywhere. The color of brightness was inside everything. Everything was still. The man woke up in the middle of the night, his dreams sharp as a tack. The dragon rose tall as the mountains-the mountains were tall above it, and the wind was sharp and whistled and the man was sure the Great Plains were cold as cold as it was now. The dragon’s name was Kustka and he snorted cold air. It was winter. He had no trouble finding shelter-caves were all over the place-but he wanted one that was close to a river. He scanned the landscape, the rolling hills that rose and fell against the sky, and the sky was breathtaking and the sun was falling, fell fast. It was going to be night soon. Harper tried to find the krying spider the next morning and the hole he scurried out of was empty-empty and void and lifeless and dark, that was how it looked from where Harper stood. He went into one of the other rooms and saw a golden horn on the table. He picked up the golden horn and blew through it, and the noise was long and low and loud, and had a sweet sound. A sweet sound emitted from it and into the atmosphere. The atmosphere was dark and dank and black. He needed to leave. His job was running-he was a runner. A runner was someone who delivered messages. He very rarely delivered postal mail; that was for some of the other runners, but not for him. Everything was white as snow. The snow tumbled down into everything; the everything and nothing were still there, were not gone. Zeus, the planet, was far from here; he studied planets at college. Most planets were named by people. He did not know their real names. He was not a daemon. He was human. He read about daemons in the highest of mountains; in the cold and the winter and the snow roared around the plains and everything was sparse and naked to the bone. The magic was all around. In everything. The magic was not broken. He could sense it on the wind. Sense it in a way that was both horrific and terrifying and everything about it was as vast as death.
* * *
“Do you want the talisman?” Savinn Asjin asked quietly. He stood with his shoulders hunched against the cold wind. He shivered. He could not see beyond ten feet ahead of him; the darkness was sharp and the wind was bitter. Everything seemed out of place. He didn’t belong here. It made him uncomfortable.
“No,” Sebastian Montserrio answered shortly, and shook his head. “I don’t want it. What are you to steal it?” He glared at him, his eyes lowered.
“I did not steal it!” he protested. “I…won it. From a card game.” He clutched the talisman in his hand; rolled it around and around. It shimmered in the darkness. Something tingled in the back of his mind; Sebastian ignored it, refused to acknowledge it. The cold swept around it in the north and everything was still, stiller than breath. Stiller than anything. The Dark Knight galloped on his midnight black horse through the forest called Evernight Forest; the darkness was deep and concerting and everything around it flickered in an ash of grayness. The bladesman knew he would come. He was a blacksmith; one of the last ones out in the Boonicks, the place beyond the West and the Shadow Kingdom, the place of moon and night, light and sunlight. He had never been there. He wished to seek ale out further than he had intended. His mind was made up. He would fight them. They were coming over the prairie; slowly; he could see them through his window. What he wouldn’t do for magic right about now. Magic was in his blood; he never could do magic, and his grandfather tried to teach him the coin trick.
“You, sir,” the Dark Knight spat. “What are you doing here?” He clenched and unclenched his fists. The knuckles turned white.
“Warming my hands by the fire,” he answered, straightening. “Why?”
Before a second passed, the Dark Knight reached forward, and swiped the man with his steel blade, sent him sprawling into the trees. A second or two passed. The moon peaked behind forbidden clouds. The wind moaned stolidly. Everything was quiet and dark and silent. The Dark Knight straightened his muscular shoulders; his eyes flashed. His tongue flickered in and out. He turned and stormed into the trees, screaming Denya’s name. Denya loped through the tall, green grass. The wind whispered past the broken night; hunger gnawed at her, night and day. She was grateful for the moon. It lit her way. She was grateful for the dark, staring stars and the animals. She could sense their blood from where she stood. Her master, Andalei, had killed a doe, and had fled the trees so she could eat the meat in private. Flies were going to get at it soon. Denya wanted to have the food all to herself. A squirrel dove through the brush; she growled at it, and sliced at it with her paw. Denya was not a magical creature. She was a werewolf. One of the last of her…prey. No, her kind. She was one of the last of her kind, and her Daemon Master, Donica, required her to mate. She was susceptible to all the Dark Things that were coming to pass; the wind and the rain and the light and the fire, and the void mixed in it. Denya knelt next to the meat. The prey had been torn to shreds with a blade; Denya nodded in satisfaction, and bent down to eat it. Fangs protruded, bright and white, from her lips; spit fell from her lips and dropped to the ground and it was wet and the wetness coated her fur.

The Woman Has Flabby Arms.

I told my teacher what all the
Fuss was about.
She mentioned climbing stairs.
She mentioned stirring potatoes in big pots.
She mentioned old homes,
Withered weather vanes.
Knocking on closed doors.

The woman has flabby arms.
Her hair is gray, wild, shattered from
Rocks and hard veins.
Blue veins swim like rivers.
It is not a hard thing to comprehend.
She told me she liked to walk on the water.
That noises were too much for her.
She couldn’t take the criticism.

The mouth is open into a song.
A sob, the wind moans.
She walks on happiness.
Her friends move the world.
The world is movement.
She hears a noise.
The movement is in the noise.

She is not an old woman.
The house belongs to her.

Sometimes, I sat out on the patio,
And looked at the mountain behind
The backyard.
My mother’s voice comes in my mind
My Uncle Stan, a teacher, said
The river lacks movement.
Everything lacks movement.
The movement is everything.
Her words are sharp; they carry no momentum.
Everything is white in the quiet night.
Her heart is a microwave.

Things Etched in Stone.

Hunger is not my middle name
You are not my face, my brother-
You are etched in my dreams

Eyes are burdened by colors
You tell tales and spin wreckless dreams
I fear not the face of anger
I fear not the face of redemption

Torn apart by weathered hands,
Hands are aching and bleeding,
Red and golden as dreams.

We fear not, the corn,
The hunger is temptation.
The temptation is greed.

Greed is unified.
Unified in our grace.
The stem from the rosebud
Glows downward,
Empties out into the world.

Hunger is not me.
I followed the woman down
The stairs,
She hisses at me like a snake-
Her eyes are bloodred,

Mouth is twisted.
I model myself after JFK,
The man who was destroyed.

He said, Fear not the temptation;
The eating of chicken.
Fear not destruction.

The commerce of it.
The letting down of it.

The letting down is easy.
Everything is destroyed.
We were all in the middle.

Tolling of the Bell.

The art of the tolling of the bell.
He picked up the old bell,
and dusted it off with the sleeve of his shirt-
the shirt was bright blue, and had bright stripes.
The fish swam in the ocean. They were candy-colored,
and their gills opened and closed.
Pottery was not the same as poetry.
It was in the same, whether you begin to lose or not.
Your eyes are bluer than your sleeves.
Your face is shaped in the grassy grain.
You see in the sunshine; and dwell in the rain.
Everything is nocturnal. We are one and the same.
A shadow swirls around and comes back;
it returns and nothing is more sacred than what it lasts.
The frustration of moving things around and about-
are shattered like fingerprints, and move to shout.
In houses, we figure we aren't moving like lions.
Everyone thinks they are one and the same.
We gain everything and then nothing we gain.
Like fluid waters in the end it's the same.
It's not what we wanted it to be.
It's not who we are. It's simplicity.
The water drops in a bucket from somewhere above.
The minnows are like magic, and shoot up like fingers.

To a woman that has the personality of an Angel, remix

To a woman that has the personality of an Angel

You walk the Earth so peaceful, so graceful

Your soul gives off warmth like fire on a cold winter’s night

You care so much for others, into your heart you invite

Heaven protrudes in the sparkle from your eyes

The light protects from darkness, trust it implies

The heart you possess gives off a radiance of love

Like the romance that is felt from the release of a white dove

In God’s graceful presence, we are heart adorned;

Love’s destiny’s reason is a night that is scorned.

The smile on your beautiful face lights up a room-

A breath of fresh air like spring roses abloom.

How Gene Wilder Died.

Deep in the gutters of forever's chance, I lie awake and waiting
for that second hit of a baseball bat coming through my window like
fallen leaves.  In time, I am not broken, and the rage does not hit
me twice as strong as it did.  My father's death was a wake up call.
My mother's Alzheimer's was a mistake of reality.  Nothing is forgotten.
I have turned the pages of the book that I was supposed to write, but
didn't, and stories only are good for so long.  I grow tired of it.  I ask
questions.  Some say I'm stupid, or slow as molasses, but I never really
liked molasses until after I lived on a prairie full of wheat.  It was just
like a television show-or maybe it was TV, I am forgetful about that.
And then Gene Wilder died, and I couldn't stand the pain of not
knowing my real father, who went on the Maury show one late November
morn.  It is August.  My fever is real, and steady.  Who are you to talk?
Yesterday was broken, and I was feverish for some change.  There's
nothing for me here, just like Bryan stated on his facebook page,
and sometimes I just write too much for words to come through.
Everything is spilling out of my mouth like a bunch of bleeding
words.  Where did he go?  Where do you go when you die?  I
was dead, once before, like a river that runs glass instead of
water, or maybe it was chocolate like in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate
Factory, or maybe it was a dog factory or cheese factory that has
been made from cold, stale bread.  My house is full of bugs,
but what I'm going to do about it, I don't know.  Everything consists
of change.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

preview of my script, "Three Witches."


My story idea-three witches live in a fantasy world and visit the human world to kidnap a child and make him a servant for all eternity.


Main character-"Boy."

-Enter Olga.
Olga-Ho, hum, it's just another day, working in my garden.  (Shrieks.)  I found one!  Hey, everybody, I found one!  (She casts an evil eye around her, but there's no one nearby.  She shrugs, and looks around again.  A cockroach is crawling on a rose.  She leans over, picks it up by its legs, and tosses it in her bag.  She squints and looks up at the sky.)  Drat, it looks like rain!  I better head inside!
(The scene dims.)
(Second scene-lightens, and the camera focuses on a small cabin in the middle of a large forest of trees.  A well is nearby, and a large, black cauldron rests in the middle of the spacious front yard, which is full of weeds.  An old woman with scraggly gray hair and a pointy nose exits the cabin, and goes over to the cauldron.  She carries a wooden spoon in her left hand, which is green and covered with warts.  Her name is Gloria.)
Gloria-MMM, mmm, smells scrumptious today, doesn't it, Mildred?
(A fat, black cat comes out of the cabin, and waddles over to her, meowing.)
(Gloria chuckles.)-Hungry, baby?  (She bends down to scratch it under its chin.  As she straightens, her back creaks.  She winces a little, and her mouth forms a small "O," of unsatisfaction.)  So am I, but this lizard soup will taste wonderful with my chicken cesar salad.  It's all done!  (She turns towards the cabin and shrieks loudly.)  Lydia, Olga, it's r-ready! 

(Two witches come bursting out of the front door, carrying bowls and wooden spoons, but the wooden spoons are smaller in size than the wooden spoon that Gloria is using for the cauldron.  The witches look alike, except Lydia is taller and Olga has a huge wart on her very green nose.)
Gloria (singsong voice)-Ladies first!
Lydia (in disgust):  We're all ladies, here!
(A voice appears out of nowhere.)  I wouldn't say that!
(Lydia spins around angrily.) 
Lydia-Who said that?
Voice-Me, you boistering mongdingers!
(Lydia relaxes.)
Lydia-Oh, it's just you, Loran, I thought I was going crazy for an instant.
Loran-You are crazy, my love, you have to accept it.

Gloria-Come out, come out, wherever you are, invisible witches aren't accepted here.



Tell me, what it is you want from me, what do you want from me,
i have given you everything, i have given you my all, even bought you
a diamond ring, and you didn't even catch my fall.
Now, I'm walking away, i'm not here to stay, you better take your pay
and leave me alone (alone).

The flower is blooming in the street, I'm walking to the beat
of the mic, don't leave me like this, I'd never walk away from you-
wanted to be forever with you, and live my life without any strife.
You're making me bleed all over the floor.

(Tell me, what do you want from me, what do you want from me,
I have given you everything, I have given you my all,
even bought you a diamond ring,
and you didn't catch my fall.)

i want to go home.  I'm walking along a dark road, and see a light in the distance-
I'm never going to make the same mistake twice, just treat me right,

(treat me right.)
Every time we speak, I feel too weak to talk, but we get in every argument

that makes me want to walk away, I'm not here to stay,
take your pay and leave me alone (alone).
Just gotta get away!

My Father's Eulogy.

My father died two weeks ago.  My eyes are dripping sea salt.
I didn't know it was salt until I actually tasted it on the tip of my
tongue, and everything just kind of spilled out.  My brother
wanted me to write a poem for him through the spoken word,
but I declined, and made everyone laugh.
Sometimes, I am shy in front of people, many different kinds of people,
some people with hats and others without hats, or people who
pronounce "gif" like "Jiff," the magic peanut butter that makes kids eat.
Sometimes I wonder if I'd be good at public speaking, but I got out
of it in high school-my teacher wasn't too happy, he called me a spoiled
sport but he didn't know I had surgery on my throat when I was
a baby.
Come to think of it, I've had lots of surgeries-seven, to be exact,
but that doesn't matter now, all that matters is my father, even
though I never got to say goodbye.  There are different ways of saying
goodbye.  You can say it on paper, through the written word,
or toss his ashes out to sea, and maybe that's why my tears were sea
salt, because I was missing my father.
Everyone is watching out for me.  I told my brother it's ok.
He doesn't like crying in front of other people, and I don't like
to make speeches in public, because it makes me feel strange-
disconnected, as if my mother was with me in spirit instead of standing
right next to me during the service.  My nephew was tempermental.
He wouldn't behave.  I had to leave my dog at home, even though I was
supposed to watch him all weekend, but my mom gave him a big
bone before she left for her vacation.  She didn't come to the funeral because
it was her ex-husband's birthday, even though they used to have a lot of fun,
and they were married and had "great" kids.
I don't know why I'm writing this now when I could have said it at
the service,
to help others cope with the grieving process.  I don't know how to grieve.
I was dead before my father, and his father was dead before me, and so on
and so forth, like a funeral procession.
Even though
we were alive at the same time, death still haunts me, but the people we cherish
will be with us forever and after.  I guess that's all I can say about that
right now.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

The Trees.

The sound of rain reaches my nostrils.
Hope leaps forever.  Tend to my cut soul.
I am bleeding like a river.  The river is drowning.

A cat has walked across the forbidden lawn.
The robot slowly takes his first step-he is like
a young actor, being reborn.  The movement is slow.
I am slow, too.  The trees are bending in the hurricane.
Palm trees, I think they are, and their leaves

wave in the wind.  Tell me, o potter, where do you go?
I haven't found a way out of the long mile.  Here I go.
Walking steadily on my forepaws.  The trees are bending,
I bend back.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

On Eating Chinese Food.

Why, I have fallen asleep on the dirty couch again,
it sags so far underneath my weight.  No one thought
to tell me where it was going, until it was too late.
What did I think of this, why am I so bland, why does
the cell phone ring only twice in one year?  I guess
my wife thought it was too fear, but I didn't, I banged
into it twice.  My recollection of forces, some things
are done before us, some things are done after us,
and then I sit here and read the paper, the rustle of
paper wakes up my cat.  He sits there, cleaning himself,
grooming himself like a gorilla.  Such a splendid cat!
I bet he could get a job as president, or maybe even I
could, but I wouldn't know.  What things you tell me
these days, o lucid one, who knows me better than
the dandelions growing around my porch in summer,
who speaks to me as Nature would speak to me, and grasps
things better than my human counterparts.  I have a desk
in my office that's littered with piles and piles of words,
and fortunes, I had gone to Kung Fu Wok last week,
and ate all the fortunes after I had eaten my full of egg rolls
and sweet n sour chicken.  What is this life I lead, all day,
every day, until the day I die, I wish for a happy funeral,
I wish my friends would celebrate life instead of death,
I wish for a lot of things.  It is incorporated into my life-
sleep well, my darling, I've had my fill.


I am
listening to
the rain
pitter-patter on
the roof of
my new apartment.

Somehow, I don't
think I'll be
getting sued
today or even

but maybe one day

Monday, May 30, 2016


ruthless reasoning,


Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Rock Star Mama.


Mama was doing her own hair in the kitchen when I got home from school.
I was shocked.
It wasn’t like her at all.
It was the last day of school and I had been prepared for it.  I had my pens and my notebook tucked under my arm as I walked into James Madison Junior High School for the last time-at least, for the last time I was going to be a sixth grader, unless I hadn’t passed the ninth grade, which I think I did, even if my grades were usually a C average.  It wasn’t my fault.  I didn’t have good jeans-most of them had holes in them because my family was poor, and we usually ate beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  We couldn’t afford the fancy meals.  My father was dead and my mother was a singer for a small country bar called the Pig’s Barn Inn.  It wasn’t really an inn, it was a bed and breakfast deal, and my friends and I were going to have sleepovers there this summer.
Anyway, after first through fifth hour came sixth hour and I sat in my seat, listening to Mr. Lincoln drone on and on about what he was going to do on vacation, the bell rang, signaling the end of the day.
It startled me so much I almost fell out of my seat.
“What are you doing?”  Mr. Lincoln stuttered.  He had a bad stutter that he had acquired in high school, because he was a nerd.  I’m not a nerd, and my friends and I often made fun of him in the hallways between periods.  My best friend’s name was Mabel (it wasn’t her fault), and Dennis Short.  He was actually very tall, so I don’t know why that was his last name.  He had brown hair and brown eyes and spindly legs.  His father was a dentist and he had a baby sister named Anna.  I didn’t like her.  Much.
Anyway, the school bell rang and as we went out the door, the teacher handed us our report cards.  I looked at mine with a frown in my face and stuffed it into my pocket.  I wondered how I was going to break my grades to Mama.  Especially math.  I loathe math.
It was a warm day outside.  I shed my jacket and hurried home to our run-down apartment and clambered up the first flight of stairs to the second floor, where our apartment was.  I unlocked the door and went inside, where I found Mama struggling with a hair curler.  “Mama!”  I said in a shocked whisper.  “What are you doing with that thing?”
She looked at me, hair partially falling over her face, and scowled.  “What does it look like I’m doin,’ sugar pie?  I sure ain’t milkin’ a cow!”
“They only do that on farms,” I pointed out.  “In Ohio, I think.”
“Sure.  Whatever.”  She sniffed, which meant she didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
“Why are you doing that?”  I asked her.
“I’m getting ready to do a solo act tonight,” she replied.  “My career is flyin’ off the ground.  Soon, we’re going to be rich!”  She threw her head back and laughed.
I didn’t see why that was so funny.  Money is serious business.
“So, honey chile, how was your last day of school?”
I sighed.  “Mr. Lincoln is going to visit his mother in Switzerland.”
She snorted.  “Them teachers sure make lots of money to go where they please,” she muttered.  “Not at all like us common folk, who go paycheck by paycheck.”
“I don’t get paid,” I pointed out.
“Effie, you ain’t old enough to work,” she said, laughing.  “Now, go on, I’m busy, hafta finish this before my ride gets here.”  She started humming a tune I didn’t know, so I ran down the hallway to my room and flopped on my bed before she asked for my report card.  She was busy with other things.  Good.  I know she was going to ask me about it sometime, but not right now, thank goodness.
I laid down on my bed, and started looking at the ceiling.  It was a nice ceiling.  Pretty soon, I fell asleep.  It was around six-oh-clock when my mother woke me up.
“Time to get goin,’ dearie,” she was saying softly in my ear.  “It’s time for me to sing!”
I squirmed to get away from her bear hug.  “Do I have to go?”  I whined.  “I don’t like bars.  They smell like pee and the men stare at you like they want to eat you right up.”
“You have to,” she said firmly.  “I don’t have anyone to watch you tonight.”
“I’m almost eleven.  I can watch myself!”
“You don’t know how to cook.  Who would make your dinner?”
“I can eat cereal.  Or soup.”  I was desperate to stay at home, even though there was nothing to do, it was better than having my mom watch my every move.
“Maybe the bar can give you lemonade,” she said brightly.
Mama was so weird.
Mama and I waited outside for her ride.  She kept glancing at her watch and frowning.  “He better be here,” she muttered.  “Or I’ll never speak to him again!”
She was referring to her boyfriend, Rex.  I didn’t like Rex.  Much.  He had long hair and tattoes and he wasn’t very bright.  He flunked out of high school because he was heavy into drugs, which to me meant he was a bad dude.  I wish he would leave us alone, but Mama seems to like him.
Finally his clunky red truck pulled up to a stop next to the curb.  I climbed into the car and sat next to Rex at the wheel.  He wasn’t a very good driver and I hoped he didn’t go too fast.
Too late.  He did anyway.  We were at the bar within minutes.
“It’s really more of a bed and breakfast deal,” Mama explained while they pulled into a parking lot.  “I’ve been here before.  It’s really quite lovely.”
“Hope out, everyone!”  Rex ordered.  “I gotta get back home.  The game’s supposed to be on in a half an hour.”
Mama put an arm around his shoulder and pretended to pout.  “Don’t you want to hear me sing?”  she asked sweetly.
He grinned and chucked her under the chin lightly.  “Dear, I can hear you sing any ole time, but this game is only on once in a lifetime.  I gotta watch it.”
Mama smiled.  “I was only kiddin,’ dear.  You go watch your game.  Sophia and I will be just fine, won’t we, sugarkins?”
I shrugged.  “Whatever.  I want to get back to my nap, maybe I can take one while you play your jams.”
“I play the guitar and sing,” she reminded me.
I scowled at her and crossed my arms over my chest.  “I know that!  Let’s go!”
I took her hand and dragged her into the inn.  I forgot to tell you about the outside.  It was large, and overlooked the ocean.  The salty smell reached my nostrils while I was outside, talking to Mama and Rex.  The inn was four stories high and was painted a light blue.  All the windows were open and the curtains fluttered lightly in the wind.  We went inside, and was greated with barking by a small brown dog.  It looked like a long hot dog to me.
“Mama, look at the dog!”  I grabbed her arm and tugged at it.
“Stop it!”  she hissed at me.  “The manager is coming!”  She smiled her sweet smile as a man wearing a blue suit walked over to her and shook her hand.
“You must be Dolly Harper,” he gushed.  “I’ve heard so much about you!”
I was puzzled.  “But, haven’t you heard her sing?”  I asked him.
He shook his head.  “My wife takes care of that,” he explained.  “She runs the whole place by herself, and then I get the joy of doing the business side of it.  Paying the help and such.”  He saw us staring at him, so he continued.  “My father, Mr. Burrows, owns the inn.  People from all over the country stay here, especially during the summer months because we’re so close to the ocean.  I can’t say how happy I am to have you here today, because I have a little treat.  Mrs. Carter, the widow of Daniel Carter, is going to stay with us this weekend!  She will hear you sing!  Her car should be arriving shortly.”
“Who the heck is Mrs. Carter?”  I asked in a puzzled voice.
Mama turned towards me.  “She’s a very rich lady,” she explained.  “She owns some famous hotels in New York City and Paris, but she prefers to live the quiet life, which is probably why she is coming here.”
I frowned.  “Oh.”


(Dad pulls his truck in front of a bar called Sticky’s Grill and Bar.  He gets out and shuts the door.  The sun is slowly going down over the hills; he dusts his boots off and enters the bar.  It is filled with raucous laughter and the television set is turned to on; it is on the news channel.  Dad sits down at the counter; it is greasy.  A woman with long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail comes up to him with a pad and pencil.)
Woman:  What’ll you take, partner?
Dad:  Whiskey and a steak.
Woman:  Whiskey?  You gonna be all right drinkin’ that, mister?
Dad:  Sure will be.  Why, what’s your call?
Woman:  Just wonderin,’ don’t need no drunks here no how.
Dad:  That’s right, miss.  No drunks here.  (He turns to the man sitting next to him.)  Are you drunk?
Man:  No, siree, Ms. Parker, and that’s a fact.
Dad:  Your name Parker?
Ms. Parker:  Sure is.  Let me go get your order filled, we don’t got all night to sit here and talk.
Dad:  No harm in talkin,’ ma’m.
Ms. Parker:  Yes, siree.  (She hurries away.)
(Dad turns his head to watch the news.  Ten minutes goes by and the waitress comes back with a plate with a steaming hot steak on it and beer.  Dad cuts the steak and stuffs it in his mouth.  He’s quiet while he eats.)
Man:  You married?
Dad:  Was.  A widow now.  (He talks slowly.)
Man:  I’m sorry to hear that, sir.  Must be hard to lose someone you love.  I never lost anybody I loved, except my parents, god rest their souls, and my goldfish, Smartie.
Dad:  Smartie?  You named your goldfish Smartie?  What kind of a godflabbin name is that?
Man (offended):  Good one as any.  My name is Roger, by the way.  Roger Zewenski.
Dad:  Nice to meet you, Roger.  (He rises to his feet.)  I better get home to my boy.  It was nice meetin’ you, Roger.
Roger:  You, too.
Dad:  Let’s turn on the music.
Kid:  Okay.
(Dad turns on the radio.  They live in a picturesque three story house with a white picket fence.  The living room has two green couches, a tv, a fish tank and a desk.  They dance around the room together, the music is light with banter.  Later on, Dad goes into the kitchen to make dinner, but the kid still dances, laughing to himself while he does so.)
Dad:  Dinner’s ready!
Kid:  Okay, Dad.  (He turns off the radio and goes into the kitchen.  It has a table and four chairs, a refrigerator, stove, and sink.  The kid sits down at one of the chairs.)
Dad:  I hope you like spaghetti.
(Kid laughs.)  Dad, you know I love spaghetti.
Dad:  That’s right, you do.  I’m glad I made it, then.
Kid:  That’s right.  (He starts shoveling spaghetti into his mouth.  He finishes his dinner.  Runs upstairs to his room and finishes his homework.  Dad comes in after awhile.)
Dad:  Time for bed, son.
Kid:  Okay, Dad.
(Kid tosses and turns in his bed all night.  A light flashes by the window.  The next morning, Saturday, he wakes up and goes into the living room to watch cartoons on the television set.  His father is talking softly on the telephone.)
Dad:  All right…yes, that’s fine…thank you…bye.
Kid:  When is Grandpa coming over, huh Dad?  Huh?  Huh?  (He jumps up and down.  He can’t help it.  He is too excited.)
Dad (laughingly):  When he comes over, son.  Actually, about a half an hour.  A lot of traffic, you know.
Kid (disappointed):  That’s a million years!
Dad:  You’re so funny.
Kid:  The answer is George Washington, Dad..
(A  half an hour later they hear a horn honking outside.  Kid runs to the door and flings it open wide.  His grandfather, Grandpa Jones, is just exiting his car.)
Grandpa:  Hello, child, hello!  I’ve missed you.  (Grabs him in a great, big bear hug.)
Kid:  I’ve missed you too, Grandpa.  Where have you been?
(Grandpa laughs.)  At home, of course!  Now that I don’t work anymore, I don’t have much to do.
Kid:  What do you do, Grandpa?
Grandpa:  Play solitaire.  It’s a helluva lot better than poker.  And more respectable-like.
Dad:  Grandpa, don’t talk about poker with the boy.
(Grandpa snorts.)  Why, I was younger than him when I started playing.  I should teach him right now.
Dad (in a warning tone.)  No poker.
Grandpa:  Fine, fine.  I didn’t bring any cards, anyway.  They’re at home.  Hey, look what I got!  (He pulls a quarter from behind Maverick’s ear.)
Dad:  No giving my kid money, either.  He has a big enough allowance as it is, anyway.  Let’s go inside.  We’re attracting the neighbors’ attention.
Kid:  Okay, Dad!
(Later that evening, they are having dinner on the back porch.  There is a pinkish light to the sky.  A soft wind is blowing.)
Dad:  It’s so peaceful out here…makes me think of Jillian.
Grandpa:  Hector.
Dad:  I’m just saying-
Grandpa (severely):  Not in front of the boy.
Dad:  You’re right.  I completely forgot.  It’s still fresh in his mind, like a growing daisy.  Kids don’t handle deaths very well.  They don’t understand it.  (He stumbles to his feet.)  Let’s go to the carnival!
(Kid jumps up and down):  Yay!  Let me get my jacket.
(Grandpa, Dad, and the kid pile into the car and drive downtown to where the carnival is being held.  The kid rides so many rides until he can’t ride anymore.  Dad goes on a few rides, but Grandpa just watches.  After riding the rides, Grandpa buys everyone ice cream, and they find a table and sit down.)
Kid:  I love ice cream.
Grandpa:  Me, too.
Dad (scolds):  You shouldn’t be eating ice cream, Pops.  It’s not healthy for you.
Grandpa:  I say what’s healthy for me.  And I put my foot down on that!
Kid:  You go, Grandpa!
(Grandpa chuckles.)
(The day ends.  Everyone piles back into the car and they drive home.  Grandpa leaves to go back to his own house.  The house is now quiet.)
(Kid stands up abruptly.)  I’m going to go watch tv.
Dad:  Okay, sport.
(The next day.)  
Teacher:  That is correct, Maverick.  You get a gold star for the day.
Kid:  Isn’t that a little babyish?
Teacher:  If it’s babyish, I don’t want to know about it.  (He smiles at the kid and turns his attention back to the chalkboard.  The kid sighs in relief.)
Kid:  Maybe he should pay more attention to his school work rather than thinking about girls, he thinks.  (The bell rings; it is time for lunch.  The kid slowly walks to his locker and thrusts his books inside.  Then, he grabs his math book and puts it in his backpack.  It is very heavy.  He has math class after lunch; he walks slowly down the hallway, grimacing at the weight of the book, and enters the lunch room.  Everyone is talking and laughing.  He gets in the lunch line and stands on tiptoe to see what they’re having for lunch-he groans.  It is sloppy joe, again.  He loves sloppy joes, but enough is enough.  He grabs a sloppy joe and puts it on his plate, then he scans the room for any signs of his friends.  He spots Joe and Aaron seated in a corner of the lunch room and hurries over to them.  He sits down.)
Kid:  Hi, guys!  How’s it going?
Aaron:  Don’t ask me that question.  Just, don’t.
Kid:  What’s the matter with you?
Joe:  He’s in love.
Kid:  Really?  With who?
Joe:  Sarah Shortt.
Kid:  He is?  Man, she’s pretty.  (Kid sighs and shakes his head then slowly consumes his sloppy joe.  Come to think of it, he loves sloppy joes!  They’re the best!)
(Kid shoulders his backpack.  The end of another school day.  The bells are ringing in the hallway and kids are zooming every which way, trying to get out of Berrymill Elementary School as fast as their legs can carry them.  The kid slowly drags his feet.  He didn’t want to go home, to see his sick, bed-ridden mother.  It was too scary, too real.  He shoulders his backpack again, sighs, and hurries out the double doors of the school.)
(Kid starts to walk home.  It is a pleasant day outside; the birds are singing; the sun is high in the sky.  He goes past Rite Aid, and walks two more blocks before finally reaching home.  He takes a deep breath, and opens the door.  He steps inside, his heart beating a mile a minute-will his mother be better, or worse?  His heart sinks.  He’s still laying in bed.  Kid walks over to him and kisses his cheek.  Then, he rearranges his blankets so they’re tucked under his chin.)  Hi, Dad.
Dad:  Hello, sweetie, how was school?
Kid (a bit sharply):  Fine.
Dad:  Do you have homework?
(Kid bobs his head):  Lots.
Dad:  I have an errand for you.  I need you to go to the store and help me get the groceries.  We’re almost out of everything.
Kid:  You can’t go to the store in your condition.  I’ll get Grandpa-
Dad:  No, no.  I’ll do it.  Doctor says I have to get up and about anyway.  Good, your coat is still on.  (She throws the covers off of him and drags herself off the couch.  He goes to the coat closet and puts on a blue jacket.)  Let’s go, honey.
Kid (sighs):  All right, Dad, if this is what you want.
Dad (sharply):  You’re starting to sound a lot like your Grandpa.  He always tells me to relax.
Kid:  Takes one to know one!  (He hops into the car and his father slides behind the wheel in the driver’s seat.)
(Soon, they reach the grocery store.  His father pulls the car into a parking spot-close to the door-and turns around to face her son.)  Fill it up as much as you can.  Here’s two hundred dollars.
(Kid takes the money):  All right, Dad, if you say so.
Dad:  I say so.
(Kid hurries out of the car and into the store.  It is bustling with activity.  He grabs a cart and starts going down the aisles.  Halfway down the flour aisle, a man approaches him.)
Man:  What are you doing in here, kid?
Kid:  I’m shopping for my mother.
Man:  I’m sorry I asked.
(Kid takes the cart and hurries down another aisle.)
(Kid makes his purchases and takes the groceries out to the car.  His father gets out of the front seat and helps put the groceries in the trunk.  Then, he hops into the car again and they head home.)
Dad:  Thanks for helping me today, son.  It was a big help.  I haven’t been feeling myself lately.
Kid:  It was no problem.  Except this guy asked me what I was doing in the grocery store by myself.
Dad:  Just tell him the truth, son.  That’s all you can do.
Kid:  I guess so.
Dad:  Have you done your homework yet?
Kid:  No, not yet.  It’s not a lot, really.
Dad:  Get to it, son.  We want you to be a learned person, not illiterate like some folk.
Kid:  Okay, Dad, I’ll do my homework.  (Grumbling to himself, he goes upstairs, his right hand on the railing.  It takes him awhile to finish his homework; then he is called downstairs to dinner.)  What are we having, Mom?  (He is in the kitchen, trying to peer into the pots boiling on the stove.)
Dad:  We’re having spaghetti and meatballs, son.
Kid:  Oh, goodie!  You know how I love spaghetti and meatballs.
(The kid’s father makes dinner.  They eat quietly.  It is so quiet, you can hear the clock ticking in the kitchen.  They eat all their meals at the kitchen table.  Suddenly, his father groans and slides to the floor.  The kid jumps up from his seat, alarmed.)  Dad!
Dad:  Call an ambulance, son.  I think I’m having a heart attack.
Kid:  Okay, Dad.  Relax.  I’ll get you a pillow from the living room.  (He races into the living room and comes back, carrying a couch pillow.  He puts it under the man’s head.)
Dad:  Thank you, son.  Now go call the ambulance.
(The kid rushes to the phone and picks it up.  He dials 911.)  Hello…yes…come right away.  My father passed out on the floor.  Yes, he’s talking.  (He hangs up and turns to his father.)  They’re coming right away.
Dad:  Thank you, son.  You just may have saved my life.
Kid (savagely):  Don’t talk like that.  You’ll be fine.
Dad:  I suppose you’re right.
(Fifteen minutes later a knock sounds on the door.  The kid rushes to open it.  The police rushes in as well as the paramedics.)
Police officer:  Where is he?
(The kid points):  In the kitchen, on the floor.
Police officer:  You did the right thing, son.
Kid:  Is he going to be all right?
(The police officers glance at each other.)
Police officer #1:  He’ll be just fine, thanks to you.
Kid:  Aw, I have to help my paw.
Dad:  Can my son come to the hospital with me?  There’s no one here to watch him.
Paramedic #1:  Most certainly.  Get your jacket, son.  It’s pretty cold out there.
Kid:  Okay.
(Two more paramedics enter the house with a stretcher.  The kid’s father climbs on slowly and lays his head down on the pillow.  The kid follows them outside to the ambulance and he shuts the front door.  It’s as if he’s shutting the door on something final as the wind and the grass growing far and wide.  The drive to the hospital doesn’t take long.  The paramedics unload the stretcher and wheel it inside the hospital.  People are rushing around, both staff and patients and visitors.  Suddenly, Dad starts to vomit, and his body jumps up and down.)
Paramedic:  Code blue, code blue!
Kid:  Dad!
(Dad gives a weak smile):  I’ll be fine, son.  Don’t worry.
Kid:  Maybe I should call Grandpa.
(A doctor comes rushing up to the stretcher.)  Here’s a throw up bucket.  (Dad takes the throw up bucket and starts retching up blood.)
Kid (gasps):  Dad!
Doctor (severely):  He shouldn’t be seeing this.  Take the kid somewhere else.
Kid:  No, I’m fine.  I want to stay.
Doctor:  Okay, you can stay.  We have to figure out what’s wrong with your father, first of all.
Kid:  Okay.  Is there anything I can do?
Doctor:  Can you get me a cup of coffee?  (He pats the kid on the back.)  Sorry, just a little joke.  I don’t drink coffee, myself.
Kid:  Me, either.
(A nurse hurries over and starts pushing the stretcher into ICU.  The kid follows behind, looking dazed and confused.)
Doctor:  Sir, we’re going to put an IV in your arm.  Throwing up causes you to lose body fluids.  Is that all right?
Dad (gasps):  It’s all right with me.
(A needle is inserted into his right arm.)
Dad:  Where’s my son?
Doctor:  A nurse is watching him for you.  We’re calling your father to see if he can pick him up and take him home.  He shouldn’t be in a hospital.
Dad:  You’re right.
(Doctor takes off his stethoscope off and puts it on again.  He listens to Dad’s back and heart.)
Doctor:  We’re going to run some tests and find out what’s wrong with you.  You’ve stopped shaking, that’s good news.  I wonder what caused it in the first place.
Nurse #3:  Do you know what Hector Prenelli has yet?  He keeps throwing up blood and I’m worried he might not last another week.  Or another night.
Doctor:  No, I do not, and if you keep bugging me, I’ll have you suspended for misconduct.
Nurse #3 (meekly):  Sorry, Doctor.  I was just-
Doctor:  I know what you were “just.”  Don’t do it again.
(Two weeks passed.  The doctor ran test after test, and everything came back negative.  Finally, the hospital tried running tests on rare diseases.  One came up positive.  Dad was in poor condition.  His face was a pale color and he had spots all over his back.  His breathing wasn’t very good.)
Doctor:  It’s a rare form of cancer, called ASERS.  It comes from Egypt.  This guy has never been to Egypt, so I don’t understand how he could contract it…
Nurse #3:  Maybe he has something in his house from Egypt.
Doctor:  That could be it.  I’m going to call his house and talk to Mike to see if his son has anything in his house from Egypt.  (He hurries out of the ICU and down the hallway to the telephones.  He dials the phone and someone picks it up on the first ring.)  Hello, Mike, this is Doctor Ponder.  I have some good news and bad news.
Grandpa:  What’s the good news?
Doctor:  The good news is, we found out what disease your son has.
Grandpa:  And?
Doctor:  The bad news is it is very rare and has no cure.  It is called ASERS and anyone who contracts it dies within six months.
Grandpa:  You can’t be serious.  My son is only 39-years-old.  His wife died early, too, but that’s besides the point.  What are you going to do to help my son?
Doctor:  We’ll do anything we can.
Grandpa:  I should hope so.
Doctor:  Does he have anything in his house from Egypt?
Grandpa:  N-no, not that I know of.  Why?
Doctor:  His illness comes from Egypt.  His is the first case in the US.  I checked.
Grandpa:  I had no idea it was that serious.
Doctor:  Are you going to come down and see him?  He’s still been throwing up a lot, but he can still communicate.
Grandpa:  Yes, I planned on coming to see him today.  I’ll bring the boy.
(Grandpa hangs up the phone.  He goes down the hallway and enters the boy’s bedroom.  He is laying down on his bed, staring at the ceiling.)
Grandpa:  We’re going to go see your father today.  Get ready.
Kid:  Oh, goodie!  Can we get him a card and balloons?  I love balloons.
Grandpa (chuckles):  I know you do, son.  Yes, we can get him those things, it wouldn’t be proper not to.
Kid:  I’m going to hurry up and get ready!
Grandpa:  I should say so.
(He exits.)
(Grandpa and the kid pile into the car.  The kid is wearing his windbreaker and a hat is pulled low over his ears.  They drive into town and stop at Rite Aid.  The kid goes down aisle after aisle until he finds the cards’ aisle.  He bends down to look at them.  He finds the one he wants, and goes towards the balloons.  He picks out two.  They go to the cash register and Grandpa pays for the items.  Then, they get in the car again and drives to General Hospital, where the kid’s father is staying.)
Kid:  Did they find out what he has yet?
Grandpa:  Yes, it’s called ASERS.
Kid:  ASERS?  What the heck is that?
Grandpa:  It’s a disease from Egypt.
Kid:  We learned about Egypt in school.  It’s in Africa.
Grandpa:  Very good, son.  Very good.  Let’s go inside the hospital now.
Kid:  Yes.
(Grandpa and the kid enter the hospital.  It’s bustling with activity.  Grandpa hurries to the front desk and asks the unit clerk where Hector Prenilli is.
Unit clerk:  He finally got his own room.  It was a little cramped in the ICU since there were so many people.  He’s on the third floor and his room number is 32.
Grandpa:  Thank you.
Unit clerk:  You’re welcome.
(Grandpa takes the kid’s hand and goes to the elevators.  It takes them to the third floor.  They find room #32 after a few minutes of searching.  Grandpa can hear the sound of retching all the way outside the door.  He enters it with a smile on his face-or at least, trying to smile.)
Grandpa:  Son!  How have you been?
Dad:  Not feeling too great.  I’ve been throwing up blood for the past two weeks.  And the doctor just told me I have a rare disease.  All in all, I’m feeling pretty good.
(Kid laughs.)
Grandpa:  We got you some balloons and a card, son.
Kid:  Yeah!  They’re great, too!  (He hands over the card and the balloons to his father.)
Dad:  Thank you, son.  They’re wonderful.  I’ve been getting stuff from everybody.  I even got a teddy bear-it’s yours, son, if you want it.  I’m too tough for teddy bears.
Kid:  Yeah, I want it!
Dad:  Good, you can have it.
Grandpa:  I’m sorry you’ve been suffering.
Dad:  Aw, I can handle it.  (He starts retching again.)
Grandpa:  Here, let me hold your head.  (He hurries over to his son’s bed side and holds his head while he throws up in the throw up bucket.  He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and smiles a sugary smile.)
Dad:  It’s not all bad.  I get to eat hospital food.
(Kid laughs.)
(The doctor enters the room.)
Doctor:  How’s my favorite patient doing?
Dad:  Not too bad…I threw up again, which is good news.
(The doctor laughs):  I shouldn’t be laughing.
Dad:  No, no, it’s all right.  I’m getting tired of being in this hospital day after day, though.  When can I go home?
Doctor:  We have to figure out where you got ASERS from.  Then, we can find a cure.
Dad:  I thought you had a cure.
Doctor:  No, we do not have one yet.  We have medication for similar diseases, like cancer, but ASERS is much worse.
Dad:  Ohhhhh…
Doctor:  Don’t fret.  We’ll find a cure.
Kid:  We sure will, Dad.  I’ll help.
Doctor (laughs):  I wish you could help.  You don’t have a doctor’s or a nurse’s degree, kiddo.
Kid:  I can get one.
(Everyone bursts into laughter.  The kid sulks.)
Kid:  I was just trying to help.
(The doctor ruffles his hair.
Doctor:  I know.  You’re doing a good job just being there for your father.
Kid:  Will he be all right?
Doctor:  We sure hope so.  I have to go, but a nurse will be in here shortly to give him his medication.
Dad:  Thank you, Doctor.  (weakly):  I thought it was just a heart attack.
Doctor:  You were close.
(Doctor exits.)
Kid:  I hope my dad is going to be all right.
Grandpa:  He’ll be fine.  Do your homework.
Kid:  I can’t concentrate.  I want to call Dad again, maybe he’s stopped throwing up.
Grandpa:  I wouldn’t bet on it.  His disease is in his stomach; it’s even hard for him to pass urine.
Kid:  Urine?  Ew, gross.
Grandpa:  Why don’t you go outside and play for awhile?
Kid:  Okay.  Want to play catch with me?
Grandpa:  I’m too tired right now, you can manage on your own, can’t you?
Kid:  I guess so.  (He runs upstairs to his room and grabs his mitt and ball, then he runs downstairs again.)  I wish I had a dog, then we could play catch.  (He goes outside and accidently slams the front door.  He starts to play catch by himself.  He can hear kids playing outside; and cars driving down the street.  He wishes he could drive, then he could go see his father on his own.  Suddenly, a bright flash of light appears in the sky, and slams down on the tree next to him.  The kid gasps.  It was a lightning bolt and it sliced the tree in two.  The bark had been charred; the tree had fallen over and took up half the yard.  The kid races back inside to tell his grandfather what had happened.)
Kid:  Grandpa, Grandpa!
(Grandpa looks up.  Sharply.)  What?
Kid:  A tree fell over in the backyard.  It was struck by lightning.
Grandpa (in a puzzled voice):  It’s not raining.
Kid:  Maybe it’s a lightning storm.
Grandpa:  That could be.  I need to call 911.
Kid:  Again?
Grandpa:  Yessirree, ain’t nothing like a tree in the backyard to get your spooks up.
Kid:  What?
Grandpa:  Lightning storms are bad.  They can do a lot of damage to your house and your car and yourself.
Kid:  Oh.
Police officer #1:  I’m just glad no one got hurt.  This tree needs to be picked up.
Grandpa:  I know.
Police officer #1:  Well, don’t let me keep you.  (He tips his police hat at Grandpa and heads out the door.)
(The next morning is Saturday.  The kid comes downstairs to breakfast, still wearing his pajamas.  He is half-asleep.  His hair is tousled.  He keeps yawning.)
Grandpa:  You’re finally awake.  You missed half the Saturday cartoons-wait, what’s that?
Kid:  What’s what?
Grandpa:  On your hand.  It’s a rash.  Let me see that.
(The kid shows him his hand.  Red pox marks appear all over his right hand.)
Grandpa:  We need to call 911 again.
Kid:  Do I have to go?
Grandpa:  Yes, you do.  You don’t want to get something like what your father has, do you?
Kid:  N-no, I don’t, but-
Grandpa:  Enough talk.  (He picks up the phone and dials 911.  The kid is taken to the hospital-the same hospital as his father.  He is taken to his own room, #56.  A doctor enters the room and examines him.)
Doctor #2:  I can’t find a blessed thing wrong with him.
Grandpa:  Where’d he get the rash, then?  It looks like sores all over his hand.
Doctor  #2:  It does, doesn’t it?  We’ll give him a cream to put on his hand and see if it goes away after two days-
Kid:  That long?
Doctor #2:  Two days isn’t that long.  It’s really very short, actually.
Kid:  If you say so.
Doctor #2:  Does it hurt at all?
Kid:  It itches.
Doctor #2:  Don’t scratch it.  We’ll give you another cream for scratching, too.
Kid:  Okay.  If you think it’ll work.
(The doctor exits.)
Grandpa:  Let’s get you more comfortable, shall we?
Kid:  Okay.
(Grandpa fluffs the kid’s pillow and he leans his head back on it.)
Grandpa:  Hopefully the rash will go away in a few days-
(In the front of the hospital, an ambulance is pulling into the driveway.  Two paramedics jump out the back end of it and pull open the doors in the back of the ambulance.  They take out a stretcher and rush it into the back door of the hospital.  Doctor #2 rushes up to them.)
Doctor #2:  What’s this man’s stat?
Paramedic #2:  He got struck by lightning-he’s awake, but he’s got a terrible burn on his arm and leg.
Doctor #2:  Are you sure it’s a burn?  It looks like a rash to me.  Just like what Maverick Shelling has.
Paramedic #2:  His breathing is shallow.  We need to get him to the ICU.
Doctor #2:  Okay, let’s get him there in a hurry!
(Doctor #2 and paramedic #2 exit the hallway with the stretcher.)
(Doctor #1 enters Hector’s hospital room.  The shades have been opened; sunlight pours into the room and makes a pool of light on the floor.)
Doctor #1:  We have some news for you, Hector.
Dad:  Which is?
Doctor #1:  We have three cases of ASERS.
Dad:  What’s happening to them?
Doctor #1:  Two of them have died.  One of them has a rash like what your son has.
Dad:  But, you sent my son home with some cream to put on his rash.
Doctor #1:  He has a small rash, sir.  It’s not large enough for him to stay in the hospital and he’s not throwing up blood, either.
Dad:  Thank God for that.  (He throws up in his bed pan.)  Excuse me, sir.
Doctor #1:  It’s all right.
Dad:  Thank you.
Doctor #1:  I need to do a round on my other patients.  I’ll see you in awhile.
(Dad smiles.)  It’s all right with me.
Doctor #1:  Thank you.
(Doctor #1 exits.)
(Dad picks up his bed pan and struggles to sit up.  Once he does so, he swings his legs around the side of the bed and rises to his feet.  He struggles a minute, swaying.  Righting himself, he walks to the window and peers outside as if peering into an abyss.)
Dad:  I wish I could go back home.  I miss my boy.
(Dad sways on his feet again.)
Kid:  I keep telling you, Aaron, I was sick for a whole week.  That’s why I was absent from school!
Aaron:  The teacher told us you had rabies.
(Kid laughs.)  No, she didn’t-now you’re making up stuff.
Aaron:  Am not.  Ask her yourself.
Kid:  Okay, I will.
Aaron:  Let’s go to our secret clubhouse after school.
Kid:  Okay.  Can Joe come?
Joe:  Yeah, I wanna go!
Aaron:  You’re a part of our secret clubhouse.  You can come, too.
Joe:  All right!
(Joe does a dance in the middle of the cafeteria.)
(After school, all three boys hurry to their lockers to get their stuff.  Then, they walk outside together.  Big, puffy clouds are in the sky.  It is a nice day out for going to a clubhouse, the kid thinks.  They arrive at the clubhouse.  It is stuck high in a tree supported by three large branches and a ladder rope is tied at the top.  Aaron’s parents helped them build it and it has been pretty sturdy all these months they’ve had it.  Aaron climbs in first; then Joe, and finally, the kid.  He brought a large stick with him and scrambled through the hole to the floor carrying the stick in his right hand.)
Kid:  I am the boss!
Aaron:  You are not.  I’m the boss.
Joe:  No, I am.
Kid:  We can draw straws.
Joe:  We don’t have any straws.
Kid:  Right.
Joe:  We can all be bosses.
Kid:  I hope this tree doesn’t get struck by lightning.
Aaron:  Do you think it will?
Kid:  It might.  Lightning storms are the worst because they start fires or damage your bones.
Aaron:  I like my bones.
Kid:  I like mine, too.
Aaron:  Let’s play pirates.
Kid:  Let’s play dominoes.
Aaron:  We don’t have any dominoes, silly.
Kid:  Oh, right.  Let’s play pirates then.  (He picks up his stick.)  Rrrr, matey!
Joe:  Rrrr, matey, our ship is sailing on rough waters.  We’re trying to catch a giant fish!
Aaron:  There goes the giant fish, trying to get away!
Kid:  I won’t let him get away!
Aaron:  You better not!
Kid:  What’s that supposed to mean?
Aaron:  You heard me.  Don’t let that fish get away.
(The kid laughs.  He is having too much fun.)
(Kid reels in the line.  A small fish dangles on it.)
Kid:  Yeah!
Aaron:  Hey there, fella, whatchya got?
Kid:  A dang fish is what I’ve got.
Aaron:  You can’t say dang.
Kid:  I can say whatever I wanna.
(An older man comes limping up to them.  He is wearing slacks.)
Grandpa:  All right, Junior, it’s time to go.  We’re going to go visit your pa.
Kid:  I hate the hospital!  It smells funny and it’s noisy.
Grandpa:  Come on, don’t you want to see your father again?  He’s lonely without you.
Kid:  Yes, I do.  Let’s go!
(Grandpa and the kid leaves the house and get into the car.  Grandpa drives to the hospital and parks it into the hospital parking lot for visitors.  They get out and enter the lobby.  Grandpa waves to the secretary behind the desk, and she gives them a thumbs up.)
Grandpa:  That means we can go see him, sport.
Kid:  Goodie!