Monday, November 30, 2015

Blacker Friday


"Hey Tony... you gotta see this."

"Lemme be, okay? I hate doin' this shit."

"Naw... you just hate doing this shit with me." The driver reached over and hit Tony hard in the arm. "Suck it up, my friend. Some day, all this'll be yours."

"Yeah. So you keep tellin' me."

"Look, see?" The driver pointed at the storefront. "See the blond? That's our girl."

"I see her. The black Jag, right?"

"Yeah. Right there." The driver pointed again, several cars up from the end of the row. "You got the key?"

"Yeah. How many times you gonna ask me?"

"Until we're fuckin' done. You got that? Until we're fucking DONE."

Tony shrunk into his seat, pulled his coat a little tighter, and looked out the window. "One day," he thought, "One day I'll get the fuck outta this city."

"There she goes. Get the fuck on with it, Tony. Go!" The driver hit him again and leaned past him to open the cab door. A split second later, Tony was pushed out of the truck and fell all the way to the ground. "Fuckin' amateur. GO!"

The truck whined and pulled away down the row of cars, chains swinging.  Tony ran into the Jaguar, found the key in his pocket and unlocked the door. He slid behind the wheel as the tow tuck lumbered past, swung tight to the row of cars and paused, the air brakes blowing pressure as it came to rest.  The Jag lurched to life, powered out of the parking spot, and came to rest behind the tow truck. In almost no time at all, the driver and Tony secured the Jag and were out of the parking lot. It was as clean a job as it could have been. They were practically invisible to the shoppers. Black Friday was calling their wallets. Who cared about a repossession?


Phil sat on his couch eating his breakfast. Scrambled eggs marked a trail from the plate to his mouth over the expanse of terrycloth robe covering his girth.  He slid the plate off his belly
and on to the couch next to him, leaned forward and gulped the coffee from the cup on the table. His phone rang, startling him and causing the cup to fall from his hands and onto the rug. He cursed, leaned off the couch to retrieve the cup that had rolled under the coffee table. The phone continued to ring as Phil sat back on the couch, cup in hand. "HELLO?" he bellowed.

"Heyyyy! S'me. Where you want the black kitty cat?"

Phil brightened. "In the old garage. It'll be safe there. I'll come by and square up the rest of what I owe you. in a week or so if that's alright?" He paused, "And thanks."

"About that. It was a lot tighter than we originally talked about. It'll be an extra $500."

"What?" Phil held the phone tight in his hand. "You never said..."

"Tough shit, Fatty. I grabbed this car in broad daylight in a public parking lot. You don't like it, I'll go put the fuckin' thing back. And furthermore..."

"Done. Sorry for the trouble. I'll make it $750 as a thank you." Phil hung up and smiled inside. "That bitch is gonna have the shittiest Christmas ever."

Phil sat back and let the warm glow of his own rage ripple over his body. He was winning. His ex just had her car 'repossessed' (okay, stolen Phil admitted to himself) and would be flipping out. With any luck, she'd take it out on their young son and Phil would need to come rescue him. Perfect. She'd lose the kid, her car, and after his lawyer got through with her, she'd be paying HIM child support. Merry Christmas, you bitch.

The split had been terrible. Terry, their son, was only a 8 months when they split. For the last 4 months, she'd been grooming her new boyfriend. She didn't waste any time getting the hole filled, so to speak.  Julie was a tall drink of water, long and lean, and a great piece of ass. Everyone warned Phil that she was setting him up, but he didn't believe it. He was in love. He was blind.

He could recount every detail of the day he came home early to surprise her. Terry was asleep in his playpen in the living room. There was a man's coat in the kitchen on the chair and the table was a damned mess. He immediately thought someone had broken in. Phil rushed upstairs and heard music coming from the bedroom and panicked. He dumped the flowers out of the vase and held it like a club as he pushed the door open to the sound of moaning and screaming.  It wasn't rape, it was fucking. She sat astride her lover, those long supple legs squeezing him as she rose and fell in heated rhythm to the music. She leaned forward a little and smiled in surprise at Phil as she made sure he saw the other man inside her. Phil exploded. He threw the man out of his bed and went after Julie. "YOU FUCKING BITCH!"

When he woke, the police and a rescue were there, tending Phil's head as well as Julie's. Before the rage could well up again, something softer filled him and he thought she had been attacked by the intruder. The police questioned them, and the man, and as he answered he came to realize that they were blaming him for the injuries. The other man came to her rescue and hit Phil in the head with the same vase that Phil had used to hit her. It took weeks for Phil and his lawyer to get things bargained down to a plea, some financial restitution to her,  and some community service. Phil sat through the abuser's classes and fumed in his heart. He plotted and planned as Julie moved out of his place, took her stuff, some of his, and their child.

He would make her sorry.

As far as the world and a couple of two-bit repo men were concerned, he just had.


The week passed slowly. Phil waited for the phone call to come from the police that he was a suspect in a robbery or something, but it never did.  Julie called a couple times over the weekend. She only left one message for him to contact her. Phil didn't.

But Monday Phil got a call from Family Services. They wanted to talk to him about Terry. Something about neglect and endangerment or some such shit. "Oh, this is rich." Phil thought. If she's hurt him, he'd kill that bitch. But the woman on the phone had a thick accent and Phil was having a hard time understanding what the hell she was talking about. Finally he agreed to just go down and talk in person.

Phil arrived at the office of Family Services. He was greeted by a short, thick woman in a green dress. Her dark hair held off her face by wide glasses. She spoke with a heavy Spanish accent.
"Mister Austin?  I'm Angelina Gomez, Terry's case worker. Thank you for coming down. These things are always so hard to do over the phone. Have the Police spoken to you yet?"

"Police? What about?" Phil reeled. The LAST thing he needed was the cops involved. "Can't you tell me what the hell is going on?"

"Oh, Mr. Austin, I'm so sorry. Please come with me." Angelina took his hand and led him into a small office. It held only 3 chairs and a child-height table. There were drawings on the walls and a box of kleenex on the table. "Please, have a seat"

"I don't want a goddamned seat. I want you to tell me what is going on?"

"I will, I promise. It's just... Mr. Austin, your child is missing. He's been taken."

"Taken? You mean kidnapped?" Phil was feeling sick. That lazy, ignorant bitch. Julie was a terrible mother, Phil knew it. It was all her fucking fault and he would be so glad when Terry was safe at home with HIM."Tell me."

The woman lowered her eyes and opened the file. "Well, the police really should tell you, but since they haven't. yet..."

"No, they goddamned well haven't."

"So you haven't been contacted by anyone this weekend? This is the first you have heard of this incident?" She questioned him, keeping her gaze on his eyes.

"Correct," Phil snapped. "I HAVEN'T HEARD ANTHING!"

The woman sighed. "Mr. Austin, Ms. Burroughs left your son in her car when she went shopping last Friday morning. The car was stolen with your son inside. She claims he was sleeping...Mr. Austin, are you okay?"

Phil felt the world reeling. He felt the darkness wrapping around his vision and drag him into unconsciousness. "FUCK!" he screamed "NONONONONONONONONONOOOOOOOOO!" The mountain rose, pushed past the woman and hit the hallway running.  He had to get out of here. He had to know if his son was... was...

The elevator doors opened just as Phil got close to them. The officer stepped out just in time to catch Phil as he passed out into a sweaty heap.


The police officer approached the Jaguar and moved to the rear passenger door. The windows were all rolled up tight. The doors locked. "Anyone have a key?" He shouted to the two men handcuffed to the chain-link fence.

Tony looked at the driver. They both turned to the officer and shrugged. "No idea how it got here, officer. it just showed up Saturday morning."

The officer nodded knowingly. "Yeah, you said that already." He raised his flashlight and broke the passenger side window, reached in, and pushed the door lock switch. He opened the rear door and saw the car seat. Flies swarmed out of the car as the officer covered his mouth just before wretching his breakfast onto the ground.

"How the fuck did you not notice a kid, fuckhead? A KID!" the driver whispered hard under his breath.
"Must have been asleep. He never made a sound." Tony said as he started to weep.

"He never made a sound."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Fifth Free Thanksgiving

I'm cheating a little. I'm writing this on Wednesday the 25th of November. I'm a bit early, but tomorrow will be busy and I won't have time to write my thoughts down. Enjoy the ride, if you so choose.

For the first time in my life, I will not be having Thanksgiving dinner at anyone else' home. With the help of those I love and cherish, Home South will be where this year's dinner will be served.  This is an occasion, to say the least. So while I beam over that fact, let me tell you a story about nuts. 

Growing up, Thanksgiving was still a pretty crazy time of year. We always hosted, and I mean always. My mother would get the turkey in the oven at an ungodly hour, and as I remember it the damned thing was always in the neighborhood of 25 pounds. (It probably wasn't, but that's how my brain remembers it, so I'm going with it, okay?) There was the mashed potatoes (I actually remember adding the milk and stopping exactly when my mother told me to) and the carrots (not whipped, but mashed in a consistently coarse manner I don't think I recall experiencing anywhere else), and the yams (sweet potatoes), and the stuffing (oh, the stuffing!), and all the other fixin's. It was a pretty typical spread, I suppose, but it was OURS. There was football and the usual familial back and forth, and pickles, and olives (my father ate too many of them), and the bowl of mixed nuts in the shell. Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, filberts, and pecans awaited their demise in the nutcracker. We used a heavy crystal for a long time, then it changed to a thin wooden salad bowl that I think she still must have somewhere, I'm sure.

As I age, I begin to believe that it was not the spread that I liked best about Thanksgiving dinner - it was the nuts. We always had them, and I seem to think that we had them for Christmas as well, but they were SUCH a part of the Thanksgiving season. To be honest, I think my mom might have just saved the nuts left over from Thanksgiving and served them at Christmas dinner! But why, you may ask, is a bowl of nuts so important to my memory?

I don't know.

If you've cracked nuts in a cheap silver handheld nutcracker, you might understand my nostalgia. There is a satisfying <CRACK> when the shell gives way and reveals the delicious bits inside. If you never cracked nuts, I suggest you try for yourself. It's a lot of fun to pick the freshly-roasted meats out of the remains of the shell - especially filberts! Yummy!

When I was a child, I connected mixed nuts with the richness of life. Maybe they were something I considered exotic. I'm not sure, but I do know that I felt rich when I reached into the seemingly endless bowl and pulled out one after another, cracked them, and ate the delicacy I found inside. They are tied forever to my holiday.

Funnily enough, as much a part of the season that they might be to me, I can not have them at OUR hosting of dinner. One of my partners is deathly allergic to tree nuts, so the bowl shall remain empty forever. I'm sure she'd tell me to just go ahead and have them, that she won't touch them or go near them. But you know, the memory is really what's important. I say that a lot to people who attach themselves to things rather than memories. Things can be lost, or destroyed, or stolen, or any of a million other possibilities, but memories are yours for as long as you can remember them.  Only time, the giver of wisdom, can take memories from you. I've come to recognize that more than anything, I cherish the sharing of the stories around the holidays. I enjoy listening to how my family remembers events in a slightly different way from each other and from my own recollections. I enjoy sitting around with my ever-shrinking family and remembering collectively.

I see this same thing with my additional family members - the ones I inherited from my loves. Grandparents, aunts, siblings, cousins, and all manner of family new to my life in these past 5 years, but each a new source of stories and laughter and shared joy.  I remember those I've lost, both in the distant and not-so-distant past. Their stories will make their way around the table this year for sure, I'll see to that.

To all my friends, family, and loved ones: May your hearts be full, your tables be beautiful, and may love shine on. I'll wish you well this Thanksgiving. I'll hope that even if you are hurting from a loss this year, that you can find the joy in the memories. Share them and let the continue to be a part of your tradition.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

World Photography Day

From the website (

"Why Celebrate Photography?

Photography surrounds us in every moment and yet, we often don't realise how powerful the images we capture every day can be.

Today, we can share memories across the globe in seconds. Photography is an invention that has revolutionised the way we see the world. We can visit places without leaving our home. We can share adventures with friends in another city and we can watch grandchildren grow up thousands of kilometers away.

There was a time when photography didn't exist."

Not so long ago, I was given my first (and only) film SLR. It was beautiful and perfect, and it had some miles on it.  It was a Canon AE-1 Program from somewhere in the early 80's, and I ran a lot of film through that thing. I'd take it to my son's hockey tournaments and shoot 200+ pictures, happy to get one or two good ones. It was my companion for a long time.

When I put it away during a move, it was an even longer time before I was able to fish it out again. Film was old school now, and I had a couple Canon point-and-shoot cameras that worked well enough. A Canon A60 at first, a 3MP gem that had some pretty decent manual controls. It was stolen from the car in Florida on a trip. I purchased one of their ELPH cameras to take pics during that trip and didn't really care for it - too small for my hands, and I couldn't get used to the square body, so it went back. It was replaced by a Canon A1100is, which took amazing pictures and was again my constant companion until it went into the pool with me one summer. That was replaced with TWO other cameras, one lost or stolen shortly after I got it, and the other was not a Canon and although it took really nice pictures, I just couldn't get used to the controls or menus. I replaced that with a Canon 120HS and loved that, sort of. I dunno, there was something just RIGHT about that A1100is, and eventually I bought another one off Craigslist. Apparently it was stolen, and I made every effort to find the rightful owner to no avail. I have that camera to this day. "Pinkie" is never far from my reach, even now. I am intimate with the controls, the menus, the way it takes just a little too long to focus in low contrast shots... It's my friend.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I found myself looking for a DSLR to travel with. I'm not big on the latest and greatest (as you know, I'm sure), so old is okay as long as it's good quality.  I found an Olympus E500 four-thirds body with two kit lenses and an additional prime macro lens. It was priced low on CL and I lowballed the offer as I do. The seller bit on it and I was back into a DSLR. Now, some of you may or may not know that there is some complaining about the white balance on the old Oly's. Once I figured out how to hit the custom WB, that went away. For an 8MP DSLR, it takes amazing photos. I'm sure there are better cameras, but for my money, I'll keep the Oly.

As I oft find myself doing, I ended up buying another camera for an amazingly low price. This was a Panasonic GF-1 mirrorless micro four-thirds camera.   See that word there? "Micro" isn't the same as regular four-thirds. I thought I was being sly when I grabbed it, and would be able to use the 4/3 lenses on the m4/3 body, but no. Instead, I ended up with an incredible camera. It really is about as much fun as you can have with photography. It takes beautiful pictures with the Sigma 19mm and 30mm primes I have and is almost pocketable with either lens on. If I spring for the 20mm Panasonic kit lens, it IS pocketable in a jacket. Imagine trying to stuff a DSLR into your pocket? No, I think not.

I have a carabiner and ring set-up for the GF-1, allowing me to simply hang it from my belt, ever at the ready. It's fast, it's quiet, and I find myself digging deep into my eyeballs to see the world through the prime lens.   Bokeh? Yes, please.

I love taking photographs. I love making ART out of the mundane, seeing the world in a different way, and sharing my obsession with clouds.

So, get on with taking pictures, will you all?
It's really good for the soul.

And here's my contribution to today:

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Doctor

A nickel fell onto the carpet and the girl in her overalls jumped with delight. It wasn't the first time it happened that afternoon, but each time it was met with the same joyful laugh, followed by a sonorous "Oh, my! Where DO they come from?"

The young girl looked up into the smile above and mirrored it, casting her own light into the reflection. "Again?" she begged.

A large, warm hand brushed her hair off her forehead with the tenderness only found in those who have lived long enough to understand the need to be gentle at times like this.

"No, sweetie. I'm sorry. Not again. But you'll remember, won't you?"

"I will. I promise." She replied, grinning into the growing brightness we can only stare into in a dream. "I promise"

"I knew you would."

With one more light brush of that hand against her sweet, soft cheek, she closed her eyes slowly, "I love you."

"I love you, too."

She woke with damp cheeks. Sadness washed over her in a wave, then love warmed her. She smiled and turned to find a nickel on the pillow next to her. She laughed and remembered again.

Just like she promised.


     Once again, I find myself trying to capture the essence of someone I cared for, even if I was only allowed to be in their presence for a short time. I was always happy to listen to him speak, and answer his probing questions, no matter the subject. He listened intently and was friendly in a way that our society will forget, and he held his wife's hand for longer than I have been alive.

Doctor David Eastman, I remember you. I remember your gentle disposition. I remember watching your face light up, the sound of your laughter, and the feel of your hand when we last parted. I will carry you in my heart as so many others do.

Thank you for the privilege of your company. Thank you for showing us what it means to care for those around you. Come sit on the porch with us in the coming autumn breeze and listen as we fill the air with the memories of you.

Merry Meet
Merry Part
Merry Meet Again

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Tide, Rising

I sat on the dock awaiting the tide’s return. A cool breeze blew across my face, beckoning me to fly away with it under my wings, but I resisted the urge. Patience would be the key tonight. Above me, loons and geese passed by, headed to wherever they might roost under the full moon, and I turned quietly to await what I felt was coming.

After a seeming eternity of falling darkness under a starry sky, the rhythmic lapping of the rising waters lulled me into a kind of slumber, neither truly awake nor sleeping. Dark memories passed before my mind’s eye, the setting sun, the clouds clearing away and exposing the infinite stars, and the scent of dead things on the tide. I could feel the water calling, and I knew it would soon be time to rise above it all and watch the scene unfold before me in boundless wonder. The once-dead rising onto the weather-beaten boards, clutching to recollections of a given life, now lost for all time. A deep, sonorous whump broke my slumber and I took wing, spiraling up into the night sky on wings the color of coal. I beat hard into the wind, finding the last remnants of warmth to carry me higher. I was free on the open sky but bound in my heart to the docks below.

I saw the first shapes in the foetid waters below, vaguely human yet not entirely. Their pale luminosity breaking the surface and wallowing against the floating piers and rigid pilings of the harbor town. The sleeping inhabitants unaware of the evil approaching, and ignorant of their own doom foretold by the inbound waves.

A hand, or what could be loosely described as a hand, flailed up and found purchase on a buoy left tied to the dock, a heavy, flaccid arm pulling a nightmare from the sea to flop in wet, gelatinous comfort. It rose as others repeated the motion, one after another they came to gather on the dock. I spun, gaining a new vantage point and witnessing the event without danger to my own self. I had no threats here in the sky, save for the need to be mindful of the moon’s location, and the chance my shadow would blot out the baneful light from the eyes of one of these horrors.

Still, they rose and gathered, lumbering onwards toward the sloped ramps and crooked, worn stairs that now separated them from their quarry. Each of these nameless things seemed unaware that time had passed them by. Aeons had passed as they were born and died, to be reborn again in the watchful eye of their master. A master I could only imagine as being just as hideous as they. Were these descendants of Dagon, perchance? Could these be relatives of some long-lost Old One living in squalor beneath the waves as the age of man marched onward without memory of the horrors that once might have ruled this plane? Could these be things that a madman once spun wild seafaring tales about? Mermen or mermaid, or some other far-fetched imaginative creature only drunken sailors from a bygone era might understand when faced with the isolation of the open sea? I didn’t know. I only watched as the night grew colder.

I could see squid by the thousands in the waters, eating whatever detritus was churned up by the coming of these creatures. Flashes of luminescence broke the surface again and again as they fed. Worse still, there was squid feasting on the loose flesh of several of the things, tearing off chunks before returning to the frenzied waters. Black ichor flowed from the wounds, running in rivulets down the bodies, leaving a trail from the water’s edge to where a horror stood under the moon. It was maddening, and if I were a man I might be driven mad by the scene. But I am not a man.

The unholy horde moved en masse towards the lobster traps piled upon the pier, they clambered over them and continued on to the buildings imprisoned on the sea by more pilings. Rusty tin shuddered under the clawed hands, and doors gave way as the things flowed across the pier and into the violated space. They made no sounds other than the muted grunts and scuffling of webbed feet against the wood and concrete and fallen tin. That was when I turned again to improve my view. I tipped a wing into the night and came lower, alighting upon the weathervane atop a nearby inn. I blinked to clear the salt air from my eyes and listened to the glamour being emitted from the darkness within the open building. It was as though they were singing, if one might call it that. Rhythm and meter were lost on these creatures, but the sounds were repetitive enough to qualify as a dirge. The distinctive noises of tearing nets and wood creaking and failing could be heard from within, as though purposeful work was being performed. Then it came, a peal that only a broken mind might recognize. It was ageless and fearsome, and as it ended the roof of the building caved in upon itself as though a giant foot crushed it from above.  Whatever these things had unleashed from its bindings, I could not see. And then there was a flailing and rattling from beneath the fallen roof before the entire building fell from its pilings and returned to the sea in a mass of waste, floating momentarily before the hungry waves lapped it up eagerly.

What manner of creature the men of this town had caught in their nets and placed under lock and key was loose once more, and the flabby horde had seen fit to take the evidence back into the dark depths, never to be seen by men again.

I flew high into the night as the cacophony ended, circling and spying for any trace of what I had just seen with my own black eyes. But nothing remained - not a trace. Men came with lights and curiosity as men do, probing the wreckage on the pier and making up excuses for the damage, but there was none to be had. Any possible explanation could not truly fathom what had transpired. Only my witnessing the event would allow me to believe it, and my only response to the noisy men seeking reason was “CAW! CAW! CAW”


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Blood of Abel (Part 1)


Henry David Firenze tapped his polished walking stick on the tile beneath his feet. The incessant rapping reminded Brent of a raven, just above the chamber door. "Any time now, Mister Bragg" said the older, stiffer man. "You've had ample time to fill it."
"Just a moment, Sir. If you please..."
"I do not. What do you take me for, Ebenezer Scrooge? Are we now in some sick fantasy world of yours? A Dickensonian tour of your little mind? Stop screwing around and give me what you owe me."
Brent Bragg shuffled around the counter to where Henry Firenze waited. His disappointed eyes averted from the elder's. "I don't have any more, sir. I'm sorry."
Firenze whipped the walking stick up hard and fast, striking Mr. Bragg upon the temple. The younger man fell in slump onto the tile floor, blood trickling from the fresh wound. "Stupid man." Mr. Firenze barked. He crossed around behind the counter, long, gaunt strides forcing his great coat to flow out behind him. He looked ghastly, almost wraithlike. "So, you've run out, have you? We'll see about that." He paused at the apothecary cabinet, the one with the large doors. Nearly skeletal fingers reached out from under the sleeve of the great coat and clutched the glass knob of the dark oak cabinet. The hinges screamed furiously when swung open, and Mr. Firenze stood tall, eyeing the contents of the small chamber beyond. Nothing he wanted. Nothing he was owed.
Mr. Henry David Firenze grew angrier with each passing second.
A cough startled the old man. He pivoted on one foot prepared to strike, cane at the ready. "Who's there?" he demanded.
A small girl stepped out from under the counter. "I'm sorry to have startled you, Sir" She held her doll close to her chest, and trembled a bit as she spoke.
Mr. Firenze put the cane down. His eyes brightened, and he relaxed. He seemed softer, grandfatherly. "Oh, I'm so sorry to have startled YOU, my dear, eh... what is your name?"
"I'm Matilda. Matilda Bragg."
Mr. Firenze smiled wider and thought to himself, "We've run out,” he said. “HA. Run out of others'. But you had one all along, didn't you?" He straightened, dusted his coat off, and bowed slightly to her, taking her hand. He kissed it, tasting the sweet, young skin under his dry, leaf-like lips. "A pleasure to meet you, Miss Bragg. Might you have a moment to escort me to the carriage?"
Young Matilda blushed and giggled, and understood the importance of being polite. "Yes sir, but my daddy should like to know where I've gone. I'll just tell him now..."
"Your daddy stepped away for me…”
“I didn’t hear him leave, Sir…”
“You'll be alone for a while. Perhaps we could leave him a note and I could buy you a sweet at the shop downtown?"
"I would like that very much, Sir” Matilda said more brightly now.
"Alright then, I'll just, ah, yes... a note." Mr. Firenze reached over and scribbled onto a piece of paper, leaving it on the counter. It was of no significance. "Now, shall we?" and he offered his arm to the child.
Matilda took it with a mischievous grin, as though she was doing something naughty.
They left the shop, and entered the carriage standing at the curb. As expected, black, with four enormous black steeds harnessed to it with black leather. No writing adorned the door, indicating that this was a private coach, not a hired one. Matilda stepped in first, Firenze behind. They were seated in rich luxury unlike the little girl had ever been privy to in her short life. Firenze sat upright, not slouching, and glared out at the front window of the business he had just left. They started off in a flourish of hoof beats.
"My daddy isn't coming back, you know." Matilda spoke quietly. It startled Firenze in a way he didn't expect. Gooseflesh rose on his skin.
"No?" He answered. "I guess he isn't"
"That's okay. You're going to take me to, to… Him, aren't you?"
"I am," Firenze answered. He was feeling quite queer just now, far away and foggy headed. There was something wrong with this girl, and he wasn't sure what it was.
"You're the man that the other children call The Gatherer, aren't you?"
“I am.” Mr. Firenze shifted his gaze to the girl’s eyes. “Does that scare you?”
“No.” Matilda answered. “He told me you would come for me one day. I’ve been waiting.” She narrowed her eyes and went on, “I’m not scared of you, Mr. Gatherer, Sir. I’m not scared even a little.”
Mr. Firenze felt a chill run up his spine, and he clutched his walking stick firmly. “What else did He tell you, my little sweet? Did he tell you what I do with the children I take? Did he describe what happens to them?”
“No. Just that you would come for me.”
“Well then. That’s not very useful at all, is it? I’d have made sure to tell you what would happen to your young flesh, my dear. I would have told you how you would never see your parents again, and I would have made damned sure to tell you how to avoid being taken. Of course, if I had wanted you to avoid capture. So, what do you think He wanted you to know for?” Firenze was feeling in control of himself again.
“Just so I’d know when the time was right.”
“Right? Right for what?” he questioned. “Right for the taking? Right for the reaping? For what, I ask you?”
“For this.” Matilda smiled coldly. She straightened, and turned her dolly around. It was stitched to look like Mr. Firenze. In her hand she held a long pin, a hat pin from her mother’s dresser, and with a painful, slow sweep of her arm, she drove the pin into the eye of the doll. Mr. Firenze screamed and howled, dropping his stick and clutching his eye. “Obviously Mr. Gatherer, He wanted to make sure you didn’t see this coming.” With that, she drove the pin into the second of the doll’s eyes. Mr. Firenze again screamed. Matilda pierced the doll’s throat and instantly Mr. Firenze stopped screaming. “Quiet now, Mr. Gatherer. Can’t have you screaming for the whole trip”
Mr. Firenze slumped in his seat, just a blind old mute now. He felt around for his stick, found it, and began wildly waving it around. He felt it strike something soft, something firmer, and kept flailing it around. He heard the girl moan, and then he heard something fall to the floor of the carriage. Suddenly, he could see and speak again. The girl was crumpled in a heap, the doll somewhere under the bench.
“You little monster! You tiny little creature. He wants me out of the picture, does he?” Mr. Firenze brought his walking stick down again and again, turning what was left of Matilda’s perfect face into something unrecognizable. But he could still see the rise and fall of her chest. She was alive still.
The carriage stopped, and the door was swung open. Firenze gathered up the girl and stuffed the doll into his pocket. He lurched out, arms full, and made his way into the manor house just up the short walkway. As he approached, the front door opened. A butler stood, unmoved by the scene.
“Your coat, Master?” the butler asked as Mr. Firenze strode past.
“Never mind that, Ronald. Get the laboratory open. I need The Machine.


Mr. Firenze worked the knobs and dials on The Machine. Matilda lie on a table, leather bound and bleeding. He stroked the slides, made some corrections, and threw the switch. Lightning leapt from Matilda’s eyes, flames belched from her body in several places, and she shuddered wildly. Mr. Firenze reached out from his chair and grasped the large brass handle adjacent the controls. The room grew dark, and lightning leapt from his eyes now, blazing the room and settling into a rhythmic throb of malevolent energy. He rose, never letting go of the handle.
“Ronald! Get the jar!”
The butler brought over a jar, ornate and gilded. Mr. Firenze placed his free hand in the jar, and screamed a maniacal scream. Power surged from his fingertips, spilling like ooze into the jar. With that, the room fell silent.
Ronald closed the jar, placing it gingerly on the control panel. “Shall I fetch you dinner, Sir?” he asked unemotionally.
Mr. Firenze slumped in the chair, spent. “Yes. My dinner.”
“Very good, Sir. You’ll feel better after having eaten.”
“Oh, yes, Ronald. I will feel better, indeed.” He smiled a wet, dark smile. He would feel better.

The dining room was ablaze in gas light. Dinner was steaming on the table when Mr. Firenze seated himself in front of it, and he ate greedily. The wine was drained, the napkin piled on the plate, and Mr. Firenze sat back in the chair. Ronald took the plate and glass away, and placed a large snifter of brandy in front of his master.
“I’ll bring your dessert, Sir?” he stood patiently while Mr. Firenze decided.
“No, Ronald. Just the jar, if you would. That shall be my dessert.”
“Very good, Sir.”
Ronald returned yet again with the jar, again delicately placing it in front of his master. “Will there be anything else tonight, Sir?”
“No, Ronald. This will be fine.”
“Very good, Sir.  Before I leave you, I would like to remind you that He will be coming this evening. I was instructed to leave the invitation on the door. Shall I still do that?” Ronald stood silently waiting for an answer while Mr. Firenze thought.
“Yes, do that as always. He is welcome here, no matter what transpires. It is through His grace that we enjoy this life, and he will always be welcome.”
“Very good, Sir. I’ll leave you now.”
Henry David Firenze smiled and waved Ronald away. He pulled the jar closer, examining the contents and seemingly deciding if he should so what he intended. “Damn it all to hell.” He decided, and opened the jar.
Lightning flared up in small swirls, licking up the sides of the jar. Mr. Firenze laughed quietly, and tipped the jar up to his lips, drinking in deep, satiating gulps. The lightning danced on his lips, arced across his face, and brightened his eyes. He had never taken a child’s essence into himself before, and it was maddeningly intoxicating. He understood now why it had to be children - there was no way an adult could possibly taste so innocent. His visitor tonight would know this innately and would understand, for Cináed Dubh had Mr. Firenze deliver him many jars over these past years, each filled with a child’s essence. Each one gathered and delivered in the same way.
Tonight, however, would be different. Tonight, Mr. Firenze would have the upper hand, and the tables will be turned forever. Tonight, Cináed Dubh would cease to be the recipient of the life-extending qualities contained in the jars. Tonight, Mr. Firenze would be the master. He could feel it. He could still taste the power on his lips.
Henry David Firenze would pay his benefactor back for the attempted betrayal, and the children of England would never be safe again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

For Christine

I knew you before I met you, through the stories I was told by the woman you raised. I knew of your wit, and your laughter, and of the way your personality brightened the room. I knew of your recipes, ones I enjoy even now. I knew how you were a supportive mother, a friend to your daughters, and that you were the apple of a good man's eye. I knew of your heart, and of your values, and of the things that made you the woman you were.

And I love the family you raised, loved, and cared for. All of the wonderful people who now miss you every moment. My life would have been richer for knowing you in the way that your children and your husband do. It would have been a joy to see your face when your daughter expressed her love for me, and to have the chance to be more of a son to you. But I have the stories and the few fleeting memories of our interaction. I have the memory of hearing you sing when you were unable to truly fathom the pleasure it brought when you did. I have the experience of seeing you smile, no matter how far away you really were. I was there in your presence, with the love your daughters and husband held firmly in their heart, I understand who you were.

Fear not the darkness that clouded your own memories, for in Gina, Tess, and Thomas, I will forever know who you were. I will see your face smiling at me from the pictures your daughter creates with the skill you encouraged. I will feel your presence when we sit together as a family once again. I will toast you at Samhain, eating apples in your honor. I will hang memories of you gleefully on the tree at Yule, and I will ever savor your Tourtière at New Year's dinner. I will give you a place at any table I may be seated at.

In the silence that falls, I shall strive to be a part of the lives you cherished. To care for them as best I can, and to see the legacy you left when you were finally set free from the fog that kept your soul  bound to this life.

Sing with glee and fly away content in the knowing that we will remember you.


For Christine Terzino, and her beautiful family that I am allowed to love.

Merry Meet
Merry Part
Merry Meet Again.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What's Up?

It's been long enough since I've written, so here goes.

The Holiday season has come and gone -with it, my traditional Christmas post (alas, no Angus), the Jen's birthday post, and my New Year's post. I've been doing other things like living my damned life and dealing with the latest issues of a bad engine in Krahe and getting through the recent rash of snow storms. So, you might ask, what am I going to do about it?

Maybe I'll just reflect on the fact that I set unreasonable expectations for myself when it comes to writing tasks, or accept that I just missed posting something to mark the passing of time. Or perhaps I'll write a bunch of late blogs and get them up. I haven't really decided yet, but I'm writing now and I think it's important to cover SOME of these items.

Christmas was a mad rush. I spent too much money on things that may or may not be important to the recipients. I can now reflect on that fact and I honestly think that one of these days I'll actually put my money where my mouth is and give to various charities in the names of the people on my gift-giving list. Everyone in my family (both blood and chosen) has enough of everything, so why not give to those less fortunate souls in the world? Next year, I think I'll buy a dozen blankets, hats, pairs of gloves, and meal vouchers and give to random homeless people instead. I've got plenty of all of those things, and it might actually be some small gesture that makes a difference in the lives of those who don't.

I would like to buy the world a Coke, so to speak.

There was a post on Facebook that linked to a story about a young man who purchased one of those month-long passes to Olive Garden and gave food to the needy. It touched me, and made me realize that such a small gift can make such a significant impact to the hungry. I gave to the food bank this year - a local market had a promotion where you could buy a can of soup (A CAN OF SOUP) and have it added to your bill. Every day I went to lunch, I'd buy a few and all told I probably bought a whole case. Now a case of soup doesn't seem like much, but added to the cat food at the local pet store chain, the donation to the food box at work, the Salvation Army can donations, and all the other small offerings I took part in, I think I can honestly say that I did some good this year. Well, I think I did, anyway.

New Year's Eve was the old hockey game at the Manchester Monarchs. It will be the last one of those since they are leaving Manchester for CA, and who knows what ECHL team will occupy the vacancy. It was the kind of event that leaves me scratching my head, though. In Providence, going to a P Bruins game is about the hockey. There's not all that much in the way of catering to the families (at least not in any game I've gone to. You go to see the hockey game and that's pretty much what you get. Manchester gives everything it's got to entertain the family - various activities and entertainment between periods, giveaways, and that damned envelope-pooping blimp that circles the rink and makes the kids go wild.  I'll take the hockey, thank you very much. All in all though, it was a really good night. A phone call to my loved ones at midnight and a toast with my lovelies and all was well. New Year's Day was a great time at Home, North with my sister and her new beaux and Gina spending the day with Jen and I playing Cards Against Humanity and eating delicious food. Next year, we gotta remember that there is pork in the meat pie though. Oops! Not everyone eats pork. ;-)

In the middle was Dear Jennifer's birthday. We went for delicious Indian food at a local place in Salem -Kashmir, followed by dessert and wine at another local place -The Tuscan Chicken, er, Kitchen. It was a really nice night.

Through all of this, I realize how lucky a man I am. I have good family, a fabulous life filled with love and understanding, and I'm ever grateful for the ability to just be ME while not taking those I love for granted. We laugh, love, and lean on each other through it all. What's better than a life filled with happiness? Nothing, as far as I'm concerned.

So there. The last two months in a nutshell. And I've written.

Tah Dah!

Now to write an Angus piece and see if I can't jog some Fornits loose from this keyboard.

Ja Ne!