we’ve done it again. . .and now our food is blush-worthy, too!
Gil was under attack. He dodged a plastic missile and huddled under a small bush a few feet from the house. A large, old man, older than his father by a lot, was laughing. His laugh echoed, like it started down deep in the earth, and bulged and grew and it clawed its way to the top where it became fearsome and overpowering. It made Gil’s insides shake even though it was the first day of spring and pretty warm out.
The man threw empty plastic water bottles at him: Perrier, Deer Park, Evian, Crystal Springs. The small bottles bounced off, harmless. He only ducked when the man launched the larger one-gallon bottles. He looked around for an escape route and his eyes landed on the small plane parked next to the house. Kori would be pissed that he forgot to park it in the garage again, and more, that he was going to drive it without a license, but so what? He invented it. It wasn’t a conventional plane, but looked more like a giant egg laid on its side. Little claw-like chicken’s feet descended from the main compartment and kept the body steady when the plane was grounded. The wings retracted into the body. Inside the egg were two seats, a cushion on the floor for Max, and a control panel. Avery wanted to sell these planes some day, for a fraction of the cost of a Hummer.
Gil pulled a gas pump hose from an outlet below the kitchen window and crawled on his belly over to the egg, kicking plastic bottles as he went. He lifted the hatch and inserted the nozzle into the egg’s fuel tank, dodging several bottles thrown in rapid succession. The hose connected to a small TDU in the basement and was fed by the garbage disposal and the trash bin, a complete in situ unit. After a few minutes, the filling stalled and the hose went limp in Gil’s hand. He shook it, but nothing happened. He crawled back over and kicked the wall of the house like a man kicking the tires of the car. “Oowww,” he yelled, but the mini TDU failed to restart. “Dammit,” he said, then covered his mouth and looked around to see if his sister was within hearing distance.
The large man started laughing again. Gil panicked and dropped the hose. He was crawling toward the egg when he heard Max at the kitchen door, barking like a crazy dog, so he crawled back to the house and let him out. Together they ran and jumped into the egg. Gil started the engine and the little chicken legs took off running at a fast clip. The wings fanned, the thrusters thrusted and the egg was airborne, the chicken legs still running, but with no ground beneath them. When he retracted the legs, the egg shot straight up into the air. The large man bellowed, something between a laugh and a moan, and Gil accelerated. He turned around to see the man remove his Armani suit jacket, fold it neatly over his arm, and bend down to turn on an automatic ball toss machine.
“Where the heck did that come from?” Gil yelled to Max who raised his head to investigate. The machine began firing the empty plastic water bottles, pelting the egg mercilessly. Singularly, the bottles posed no harm, but collectively the force resulted in an erratic trajectory, throwing them off course while jolt after jolt caused the egg first to zig and then to zag. The large man laughed like a maniac, sending shock waves that caused the egg to tumble with each successive and inexorable guffaw.
“Hold on!” Gil yelled to Max who crouched down at Gil’s feet, his paws over his eyes. Gil steered a hard right to avoid a fresh onslaught of plastic and came close enough to see the man’s large mouth. And like the Cheshire cat, as the man’s the smile grew larger, his face shrank away until all that remained were his hideous radiating teeth, each half the size of the egg. The man threw a switch, converting the machine to fast pitch and Gil was bombarded. The egg began to plummet. A bottle cracked the window. A hole emerged and grew. Air leaked out of the cabin. Gil flicked at the overhead switches.
“We’re losing pressure,” he screamed. He pushed a button and air masks dropped from the ceiling. He covered Max’s large snout with one and was attempting to put his own mask on when the egg took another hit and rolled over on itself. The mask flew out of Gil’s hand and he lost control. He began coughing, choking for air. . .
Gil’s eyes flew open and he coughed for a full minute before regaining his breath. Images of eggs and plastic swirled in the world behind his eyelids and he was cold and sweaty. He burrowed a hand under Max’s furriness and lay his head on the dog’s massive neck. Max yawned and put his head on the bed pillow. Gil closed his eyes, but the images still danced behind the lids, so he forced himself awake and sat up in bed. He yawned. His stomach growled rudely, and the noise threw his feet over the side of the bed. He put his slippers on and went downstairs to breakfast.
to be continued . . .
They’re sweet like
hiding in the bushes.
They’re the words
of mourning, when you get
a midnight phone call: “There was a crash…”
Words can be soothing,
a gentle caress of your cheek
just when you need it the most.
They’re lemon bitter, the hate words.
They jump down your throat and
like a lump,
no oxygen escaping and none slipping in,
threatening to bring tears to your eyes.
like a shadow
in the night,
slipping through the darkness without a trace of light.
They’re soft and swirly and light as a feather.
White cotton sheets,
rippling in the wind.
They’re bright and bubbly,
popping, like drops of golden sunlight
into your sun-kissed hair.
Fresh and pure as young pine, hiding
behind the old ones in the mystical forest.
Words are slick as a blade,
gliding across the ice.
tHey conjure and drEam and imagine
those siLly words.
They buiLd castles in the clOuds.
There are words that rhyme,
but not all the time.
Words are STIFF
Ridiculous. Illogical. Truthful.
Words are the center of the Earth,
the glue that holds her inhabitants together.
Without words, there would be no poems to write
or stories to speak.
No Way To Communicate.
Yet sometimes — when words are needed most…
is the time no words are spoken at all.
Kori walked in the back door and dumped a pile of mail and the Sunday paper on the kitchen table. She shot Avery a dirty look which he didn’t catch because he didn’t bother to look up from his magazine.
“Hi to you, too,” she snapped. Avery took a bite of his cereal.
Kori got close to his face: “Hi!” she yelled.
Avery pulled the honey pot over, forcing Kori out of his immediate space. She crossed her arms and stared at him as he rolled the honey dipper around inside the pot. He pulled up a ball full and drizzled honey over his Cheerios, making little swirly patterns with the sticky golden liquid.
“Are you going to say something?” Kori asked.
He replaced the lid and pushed the honey jar away before turning his full attention to his sister. He scowled, contemplating his options.
“Yeah. I’ll say something. Don’t you think you’re behaving outside the scope of what constitutes a good role model?” He took a sip of his juice and rather than waiting for an answer, turned back to his magazine. Kori watched him, mouth agape.
“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?” she shot back.
Avery pushed his chair back and crossed his legs. In that moment, he felt he’d become one with his father. He felt agitated and fatherly, a lecture for the child’s latest transgression poised on his tongue.
“It means, you’re acting like a….” His mouth formed a “w,” but no sound came out. Avery’s face felt hot. He dropped his chin and looked at his stockinged feet.
“What? Go ahead and say it.” She threw a piece of junk mail at him. “Say it!” The envelope bounced off his shirt and fell to the floor. “Say it, you little dweeb.” She threw a stack of napkins at him. They fluttered to the floor like baby birds falling from the nest. “Who the hell are you to judge me? Huh? Do you know how hard it is being me? Keeping all this together?” She waved an arm behind her, a gesture so dramatic it may as well have encompassed the entire world, not just the pots and pans.
Avery rubbed the bridge of his nose, exactly the way Marty used to do to hide his smile.
“Stop it, you little bastard.” Kori lunged at her brother, intent on strangling him.
Avery had a good deal of upper body strength to his credit despite his lanky frame. He grabbed Kori with ease, stopping her in mid-lunge, holding both arms, their faces inches apart. He looked closely at her now, at the worry lines on her face, at the dark, puffy circles below her eyes, and he softened. He released her and she sat down opposite him, looking pitiful and embarrassed. Avery returned to his magazine and pretended he wasn’t moved.
“Just say it, would you?” Kori choked out the words.
“Okay. You need to be home more. Not just for Gil. For me, too.” He pushed his cereal bowl away. “I can’t remember everything. I have school, you know? And there’s laundry everywhere and grocery shopping and Gil’s homework to check and I got my own homework. I mean, look at that.” He waved his hand in the direction of the gargantuan pile of mail. “I think subconsciously I didn’t pick it up because I know there are bills due and I’ve got no money to pay them with. I never know if there’s going to be enough and I keep hoping that Social Security will make a mistake and send us two checks so I can pay off some of these credit cards that I’m using, not to buy fun stuff, but to buy groceries.” He dropped his head to his hands and stared at the floor.
Kori rubbed his back, but he shrugged her off and pulled himself together.
“You gotta get back to work. You have jobs waiting. Clients who can be tapped for other clients. Otherwise we’re gonna drown here, Kori.”
“Avery,…. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize.” Avery rolled his eyes.
“Alright, I did. But I was trying to hide from it, too.” She flopped down in the chair next to him. “Sorry.”
“It’s all right. Let’s just get back on track, okay?”
“Okay.” Kori slumped in her seat. “Anyway, I broke up with Chris.”
“You’re kidding. You and Mr. Wonderful are through?”
“He wasn’t so wonderful.”
“That’s not what you said last week.”
“Yeah well, last week my head was in a bubble of love and this week the bubble’s burst. Life’s much clearer without the filmy soap residue.”
“Same old, same old, I guess. My “last man on the totem pole” complex. He’s so wrapped up in his work. I didn’t see that much of the time he was dedicating to me had to do with the story he was unearthing. His interests have been waning ever since the story ran on Gil. I got tired of ignoring it.”
“What did Chris say?”
“So you didn’t tell him.”
“I don’t think I need to.” Kori sighed. “Please don’t beat me up about it.”
Avery shrugged. “What good’s it do to beat the animal that pulls the plow?”
Kori wacked him on the back. “Are you calling me a cow?”
“If the yoke fits,” he said.
“Bastard.” She smacked him on the back again.
“Hey. Mr. Right’ll come along. What did Mom say? For every pot there’s a lid?”
“Are you calling me a pot now?”
“Jesus, you’re a bitch,” Avery said. “Now leave me alone, please so I can finish my gourmet breakfast.” He pulled his cereal bowl over and took a bite, but spit it out. “Uch. I hate soggy cereal.”
He dumped the mush in the sink and poured a fresh bowl. The doorbell rang.
Kori looked at the kitchen clock. “Who’s coming over at 9:30 on a Sunday morning?”
“Could be your new Prince Charming,” Avery said, pouring milk into his bowl. Kori scrunched her nose, looking distraught.
“What if it’s Chris?” Kori asked, doing her deer in the headlights impersonation.
Avery laughed at the look on her face. “What if it is? You broke up with him, right?”
Kori didn’t budge.
“You better answer the door before the bell wakes Gil up.”
“Will you get it? If it’s for me, just say I’m not here.”
Avery drizzled more honey into his bowl. “No. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m eating.”
“Fine,” Kori huffed, and stomped from the kitchen.
to be continued. . .
we have big hearts and big ideas and big blushes.