Born-Again Romantic

My husband the Beatnik did not want to get married at all.

Why do we need a legal contract that compels us to be happy? was his common argument.

Whenever he said it I’d give him an enormous pantomime yawn.

When we’d been together fifteen years, he suggested a trip to the Hudson Valley for a weekend getaway.

In the very center of Grand Central  Station he went suddenly down on one knee and tugged a blue Tiffany box from his pocket.

We stood frozen in time, all of New York hurrying by, their footsteps echoing off the cold marble.

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The Ways of Ghosts

They do what they can to communicate with us. It ain’t easy, since there’s a gulf between this world and that one.

Hot and cold. That’s how you know. A spot in the room that always makes your gooseflesh prickle up.

Sometimes there’ll be a smell. Cigarettes when nobody ‘s smoking, or a trace of perfume.

Worst is when they get hornets to build a nest. Then they stir them up, see. Get them riled so’s they come after you. You might be able to ignore the sound of chains in the attic, but nobody can ignore a hornet’s sting.

 

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Uncle Eddie

 

Dan’s Uncle Eddie set down his empty quart of bourbon and grinned around the fire at us boys. He jammed his hand into his pocket and produced a fistful of .45 cartridges.

“Guess how many I got here,” he said. “Go on.”

Jim guessed twenty, Dan eighteen. I said thirteen.

”Well, let’s see who’s right,”  he said. He got to his feet, swayed a moment, then hurled the bullets into the fire. “Make sure you count all of ‘em.”

He walked into the darkness to his tent.

We sat stunned for a moment, disbelieving, then jumped up and dove for cover.

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Invisible Enemy

Carries-Her-Water led his pony over the ridge, heart glad with homecoming.

His spirits sank when he looked down at the camp.

Normally the morning would be full of laughter and playful banter as the women worked outside the lodges and the men prepared for hunting or war parties.

Today there was nobody. The lodges seemed to stand vacant.

He reached back and took up his lance, holding at the ready as he approached.

“Hey!” he called out. “It is I, Carries-Her-Water. I have an elk! Come get it and we’ll eat!”

From inside the Medicine Lodge he heard only moaning.

The Official Story

Max had a powerful fear of night travel, a real handicap considering his chosen profession of jazz musician.

You see, in them days the gigs was scheduled catch-as-catch-can, usually back-to-back and sometimes five-hundred miles apart.

There weren’t no interstates then, so the boys would finish playing, get their money and pile into the car to head for the next stop.

They’d spell one another every few hours, but each man was as tired as the next.

It was cramped in there, what with all their instrument cases and so many bodies.

So you see, Max was right in being afraid.

 

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Supermarket

I especially like when a neighborhood has an ADP contract. Homeowners have so much trust in ADP, a company whose main product is a 911 auto-dialer that a ten-year-old can disarm in five minutes.

People also trust their dogs, like Dakota the flabrador is some kind of attack animal. I bring along a Ziploc of fentanyl-laced hamburgers and have never seen it fail.

Other tools of my trade include duct tape and a two-pound sledge head for smashing glass, a stiff putty knife, wire for jumping the alarm.

Gated communities are the easiest because nobody locks their doors.

Trust is dangerous.

 

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Pogrom

Spiros

The situation at the university has only gotten worse. Though they no longer demand a weekly list of names, it is not due to clemency; rather, they have run out of people to arrest.

Remember how we scoffed at the absurdity of the Party when it first appeared?

Now it is dangerous to even think such things.

The worst of it is that Rosa was taken. They had the audacity to come for her at her office, during business hours.

You would have been so proud of her, standing tall and straight and silent as the tomb.

Yours, Georg

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