Liz was alone now. Her husband, Paul, was killed last month; and her best friend, Marie, has now just met an untimely death as well. How are they connected? And what did that strange black umbrella have to do with it?
Discover the mystery of "The Umbrella", along with five other..."Stories of the Macabre"!
I pride myself for my many, what I call, antiques. Okay, so they're mostly junk. But one item is truly a treasure...it's "John Lennon's Ashtray". Let me tell you all about it...along with six other "Introspective Essays".
Earth, Air, Fire & Water are the four elements written & talked about throughout the ages. Here is a collection of poetry that brings them to life...in "Dead Dog & Other Tales".
We all have a plethora of relatives; but how many of us have a 'husband-in-law'? And what exactly is one? Jerry and Marvin know, because they are two 'feeling each others pain', "Husbands-in-Law"!
Below you will find excerpts from each of the sections in "The Almost Definitive Collection vol. 1."
"Stories of the Macabre"
The rain seemed never ending, as did her grief. And yet the numbness was already beginning to give way to the warmth and kindness of family, friends and even a few who were no more than acquaintances. Paul was dead; there was no denying that fact – and she was alone after 42 years together.
“Alone. That’s what I am now; alone,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. She walked to the front door of their very large home; to the foyer where there stood a mirror, an oak coat rack and an antique umbrella stand. She was on her way out to window shop at the Galleria and then to lunch with a close friend.
She stopped and stared at the umbrella stand. Something looked curiously wrong to her. After seeing it for over several dozen years as it stood guard at the front door something was different today.
“Odd. There’s a new umbrella here,” she said out loud, even though she was alone in the house. Even when Paul was there she had developed the habit of, what she referred to as ‘voicing her internal monologue’.
Paul got used to it and learned to pay it no mind. In fact, Liz (as everyone called her) would often have a fit when he did that, knowing that she was talking to him. He knew it, but enjoyed saying, “I’m sorry dear. I thought you were doing one of your ‘external monologue things’ not your ‘external dialog thing’.” Then he would laugh. He was such a kind man she couldn’t stay mad long, and before he caught his breath from the laughter she would join in with him.She pulled this new addition to her house out of the umbrella stand, unfastened the two straps and opened it right there in the hall; forgetting or possibly ignoring the ‘don’t open an umbrella inside/bad luck rule’ (or suspicion if you like). Or possibly with Paul’s death at only 64 she felt like that was all the bad luck she could ever know.
“Curious,” she exclaimed as it opened in front of her. She began to twirl it around in her hands, laughing and spinning in the hallway for some reason unknown to her. A solitary moment of joy, or perhaps the numbness was gone and the pain of her grief hit her all at once. Whatever the cause, she stood there spinning round and round while twirling the umbrella. This might have gone on forever, and she might have liked that. But from outside her door she was brought back to her reality...
"Dead Dog & Other Tales"
I cherish these moments,
The ones by myself;
My head spinning backwards,
Put life on a shelf.
As thoughts lead me nowhere,
They all serve me well;
If life will just let me,
My thoughts I can sell.
These wonderful seconds,
As hours I hone;
With words filled with feeling,
In moments alone.
* * *
Thoughts of You
Scattered thoughts, random memories -
that's all that I can see.
Sunken hopes, dreams detached -
Feeling blue; sad for you and me.
Childhood days give way to things -
That crowds our narrow view.
When times like these release my mind;
I'm left with thoughts of you.
* * * * *
Lessons from a Mutt
Lesson One: Live in the moment.
I know, that either sounds obvious or crazy; depending on your perspective. Obvious, if you think you can see the big picture called life, and crazy if your life is so filled with ‘things to do’ that you can’t possibly imagine being there.
Philosophically we can all agree that we only have the now. The past is over and the future is really never here. Okay, now that that is out of the way what can be said that isn’t stating the obvious.
Here is the obvious: unless there is some force in our lives that dramatically alters our pre-wired programming, we can’t live in the moment. Let me prove it to you.
At home, growing up, we are taught to plan ahead, save for the future, think about the consequences of our actions, keep room for dessert!
In school we are taught to prepare for class, do our homework, bring the needed materials, have our lunch money, keep room for dessert!
At work we learn we must acquire the skills to do our job, prepare for each day’s tasks, sometimes work through lunch, but (that’s right) keep room for dessert!
Even if we live long enough to retire we might be lucky enough to babysit our grandchildren, plan our trips, be sure to eat, bathe and shave each day, and, of course, keep room for dessert!
Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
So how are we supposed to live in the moment with all of these ‘things’ we must be ready for?
Simple. Preparing for these things IS living in the moment as well. The key is to live in the moment with an eye to the future and a memory of the past. It’s as if the past and the future are merely shadows that help to guide what we do now. Enjoy the good, learn from the bad, but stay with the moment...
* * * * *
Excerpt from the play:
Time: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 – 4 p.m.
Place: Doug’s Dive [bar and grill]; somewhere just off Wrightsville Beach, NC
As the lights go up a man in his late forties named MARVIN is sitting at a smoke-filled bar. As he puffs on his stogie and ‘nurses’ a cold draft he is chatting with the bartender whose name is SAM; a man about ten years his senior and owner of Doug’s Dive. There are several other people – men and women – sitting at tables laughing and drinking. Several older men sit at the far end of the bar arguing about politics and ponies. In an adjoining room there are a handful of ‘thirty-something’ men and women playing pool, trying to avoid the smoke from cigarettes and cigars of those seated at the bar.
A prematurely grey-haired man wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap, who is also in his late forties, breaks the dimly lit bar with a sudden burst of bright sunlight as he enters. Those seated at the bar turn, squint and then return to their conversations as the man walks past MARVIN sitting complaining to SAM about his wife, as he does every Tuesday. He rambles on about her as he stares at his glass of beer. JERRY, who just entered, pats MARVIN on the back and takes the stool next to him.
MARVIN You’re late. What took you so long?
JERRY Sorry. We’ve got to stop meeting like this; people are beginning to wonder, with us being husbands-in-law and all.
MARVIN I’m not worried about any people: that is, except for one.
JERRY I know, I know. I feel your pain brother; but I warned you – don’t marry that bitch! You wouldn’t listen.
MARVIN You’ve reminded me a thousand times; don’t make it worse. You know, if you were really my friend you would have kidnapped me or shot me! That would have saved me from this life of misery and pain.
JERRY Marv baby; I barely knew you then – remember? I’ll tell you what; the next guy that she marries, if you ever get out of this, we’ll shoot him and spare him the torment. I don’t think I could live with the guilt of having two husbands-in-law! [he says this as he begins to laugh]
SAM Excuse me fellows; if you don’t mind my butting in. I’ve known you two boys for a few years now and despite the fact that you spend an awful lot of time and money here, which I don’t mind a bit, I’m beginning to worry about your mental state. Every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. sharp you show up and cry in your beer over Vickie – your current wife [pointing to MARVIN], and your ex [turning next toward JERRY].
[JERRY and MARVIN look at each other with a look of hopeless disgust.]
SAM [continues] Sometimes we bartenders are the best psychologists and family counselors – ‘cause we’ve heard it all. And I can tell you both that you need to do something to change this rut you’re in [he pauses, leans into the two of them sitting opposite him at the bar]. You know, a rut is nothing more than a coffin with the two ends kicked out!
MARVIN Thanks Sam. I know you mean well, but you don’t really know her. She’s evil.
SAM The few times I’ve seen her storm in here looking for one or both of you I could tell that she was trouble, but you’re men – act like it for God’s sake! It’s embarrassing.
JERRY [leaning over to MARVIN and saying in a low voice] He does have a point there, you know.
SAM If you don’t mind my asking, what exactly is it about her that has the two of you soggy sons of bitches cowering?
MARVIN Where do we begin? [turning to JERRY] Jerry since she owned you first, why don’t you start?
JERRY I know you don’t normally drink, but you might want to put a bottle of Scotch on the bar – and three glasses. This might take a while.
SAM By the way Jerry; for as long as Marvin here has been married to Vickie you’ve been calling him your ‘husband-in-law’. I’ve never asked ‘cause I didn’t want to appear stupid, but what exactly is a husband-in-law?
[For the first time in a long while JERRY and MARVIN let out a big laugh.]
JERRY It’s simple. You see since he married my ex-wife we have a common bond.
MARVIN Yeh, we both hate her.
JERRY And fear her. We’re kind of like the two Musketeers.
MARVIN Yeh, only with out the balls to do anything to change our miserable lives.
JERRY So you see we are sort of related through our mutual misery.
SAM Okay; so tell me about how you both got yourself into this mess. Maybe I can help you get yourselves out of it. But before I do, you both have to promise you’ll keep coming in here.
MARVIN Sam, if you get us out of this we’ll buy stock in this dive!
[They all laugh; but the tone quickly changes to one more serious as JERRY begins his story.]
A collection of short "Stories of the Macabre", "Introspective Essays, "Dead Dog & Other Tales" [poems] & "Husbands-in-Law" [a full-length play].