Calendar Girls

September 30, 2011

I know its corny. All the girls I’ve loved… Nevertheless… Pay attention, Jonathan.

For your homework read:

Calendar Girls

Jonathan!

Never dogs. Just cats.

September 30, 2011

Cats have always been a part of my life. When I was a kid our mom got us a cat. And then one day it mysteriously disappeared. Mom said that it had run off. My sister and I suspected that she had taken the cat to the pound. It hadn’t been trained. Shit everywhere. The women I lived with had cats. One looked like Charlie Chaplin (Adolf Hitler if you’re a half glass is empty sort). One girl had a cat that she had to keep in her basement. It copulated with anything it met. Including her dog, a chihuahua. And then my son’s cat who was a friend he had for twenty years. Through some pretty bad times for my son. I’ve looked deep into the eyes of a dog. You either see love, excitment, fear, or hate. When you look into a cat’s eyes its like you’re looking into yourself. And you see nothing.

……………………………..

THE GOLDEN CAT

 

She roamed through the stores. A slut of sadness. Sashaying. A tail reaching up like a flag. To the sky. Her head. Regal. Smiling. Aristocratically. Her hips swaying. Oh so slowly. Back and forth. Like long grass in a light August breeze. When the farmer stops to wipe his brow. And think about the woman in the kitchen. Baking pies. The smell drifting carelessly in that same August breeze. Rising in the air. Like the Queen’s glove. The white one. Not the ones stained in weeds. Gladness. Waving to the plebian masses. She was adored. I’m talking about the golden cat. Worshipped by some. Hated by others. Hate is too weak a word for envy. Her hair – long and golden. Her body – slender. In a good mood. Brushing up against the legs of those she deemed worthy. Other times – aloof. She stood at a distance from her admirers. Lest they make unwarranted presumptions. Her head cocked to one side. As if she were absorbed in a conversation. With someone The Golden Cat. That was her title. No one knew her name.

Betty Ainge, wife of Joe, and daughter-in-law to Lewis, third cousin to Mrs. Murphy. But unknown by Mrs. Murphy. Betty worked in the dollar store. On weekends and statutory holidays. With her father-in-law, Lewis. It was Betty who dared. To name the golden cat. She called her – Rachel. Rachel had been the daughter that Mrs. Ainge lost in her first trimester. A miscarriage. As if her womb was a buggy. Driven by white horses. And a man in slides. Mrs. Ainge named the baby. As soon as she found out. That there was life inside her womb.

Joe was Betty’s husband. And also a third cousin to Mrs. Murphy. Both Mrs. Murphy and Joe were aware of this relationship. Both denied it. Joe didn’t think it was a good idea. Naming a child before it was born. Seemed presumptuous to Joe. Lewis thought it was presumptuous to name a cat. Without the cat’s knowledge or permission. Joe was superstitious. Never carried a ladder. You have to walk under a ladder to carry it. Threw salt over his shoulders. On a regular basis. When anything was spilt. Even milk. Cried at funerals. Bawled at christenings. Wailed at the front pages of the daily newspaper. Was afraid of the unborn child. And when the miscarriage arrived, Joe fell into a deep depression. And kept saying that the child. Had changed into a snake.

Betty followed suit. After she lost the child. Betty became depressed. Pursued by the dogs of night. The judgment of God. Presumption was a mortal sin. Betty fell into a spell. Lasing months. Joe had his own demons. Saw snakes everywhere. Both were hospitalized. And the bills started pouring in. Joe asked his father for a loan. Lewis shook his head. You have offended. Me.

When Betty recovered her health, she sued for divorce. Joe was locked up in a cell. Where he screamed at the lights. Betty took up with the father. Left the son’s house and moved in with Lewis.

When Lewis saw the cat for the first time, he felt that it was possible. The unborn child had been reincarnated. But he did not name the cat. He did not know what to name her. Which led to numerous arguments with Betty. Then one day Betty threw her arms up in the air. The cat’s name is Rachel. I didn’t divorce my husband to lose an argument with you.

Sometimes Lewis put bowls of milk out for the feline. And sometimes, if the milk was not too cold, or not stale, or not milk but cream, the cat would take a few licks. Just to be polite. The cat liked Lewis. No reason was given. Lewis was sure that she was some sort of goddess. A creature so beautiful must have divine origins.

The owner of the furniture store worshipped the golden cat. Mr. Singh. Believed that the cat was a talisman. An omen of future wealth. Wasn’t it colored golden? And didn’t it have the heir of good breeding. Upper class. Old money? Mr. Singh did not worry about cat hairs on his furniture. It did bother him somewhat when the golden cat began to tug on the sides of his couches with his sharp claws. When he attempted to chastise the cat, his words were silenced by a cold glare from the sacred beast. She looked clear through me, Mr. Singh was often quoted as saying.

Luigi Manco, the restauranteur, was not so enamored with the golden cat. ‘I’ll twist the head off that fuckin’ beast!’ he’d scream after finding a fur ball floating in his famous Irish Stew. So Luigi set traps in his restaurant to catch the elusive beast. But the animal was too smart. And Luigi knew it. He offered a reward for the capture of the animal, dead or alive. These too proved unproductive. The cat for its part stayed away from the restaurant. Most of the time. Ignoring all of the food that could have been hers, had she chosen. Her only weakness was the restaurant’s wine cellar. Which she indulged in. Leaving the empty bottles of wine on the cellar floor for the hired help to clean up.

The ownership of the golden cat was debated amongst the regular customers of the plaza. The consensus was that the cat’s true owner was James Edwards, one of the partners of the pharmacy. Wasn’t the cat given free range in the drug store? Wasn’t Mr. Edwards Egyptian? The home of the cat as god? And didn’t the two, Mr. Edwards and the cat, share so many personality traits. As if in some strange way they shared the same soul. And hadn’t Mr. Edwards been seen in the company of the cat. In his car. Going home. Late in the evening?

The first time the Ohara brothers spotted the golden cat they knew what they had to do. Exterminators did not need competition in the elimination of the growing rodent population in the plaza. Even though Mr. Singh had pointed out to them that the cat did not seem predisposed to catch mice. In fact Mr. Singh believed that the mice like everyone else revered the feline. But the Ohara brothers had their own ideas. And so did the golden cat. We think.

 

No one feels sorry for a beautiful woman. But I have met beautiful women who were either ugly or very lonely underneath their looks. And if a beautiful woman is dumb? Sometimes its because men have forgiven her for being boring. She has never had to use her wits. Honed those social skills that make people engaging. I remember a friend of mine dating a beautiful young girl. I envied him. Then he told me that making love to her (my words) was like sticking it through  the knot of a wooden fence. (Sorry if that is too graphic.) I think that the idea of beautiful women being the most desirable to men is a social convention. Its what men wish were true.

……………..

A POLITE PROPOSAL

When she was a babe. In arms. Sandra Hall was a great beauty. When she rose. Out of her mother’s womb. Like gas. The nurses sighed. Who cut the cheese? And the doctor couldn’t knock off that smile. The one that said. It wasn’t me! So beautiful. They put Sandra in a special room. A room by herself. And when folks arrived. To have a view. The nurse would point to the first room. Those are the babies. Ain’t they swell? But then point to the second room. But this here little girl. She is an angel. Take a number.

Word got out. The Daily Star put Sandra’s face on the front page. Next to the picture of the Pope.

The headline read. In Algerian type.

PONTIFF DIES

And right underneath.In lovely Edwardian.

BUT LOOK WHO IS APPEARING AT GENERAL HOSPITAL

To accommodate the crowds. The hospital administration insisted. That parties be organized alphabetically. And patiently the tourists waited. They were so well behaved. It was noted. Making small talk. Some knitted. Little booties. Some brought a lunch. Spread out a blanket and ate right on the floor. There wasn’t much sun, but it never rained.

It was like an undertow. All the way through school. Sandra was simply adored. In every Christmas pageant she was Mary. After a while teachers forgot her real name. Simply called her Mary. In every telling of Romeo and Juliet, she was Juliet. No one remembered who Romeo was. But the whole audience read his lines. Together. Out loud.

Tall, blonde, athletic, Sandra looked nothing like her parents. Her father was dark, with thick black hair. Eyebrows that fell over his eyes. Like doormats. And a moustache, prickly and bushy. Like a briar. Her mother was short. Some said portly. (Out of kindness to Sandra.) The mother was in the mayor’s words, built like a potbelly stove. With a very high forehead. Some would say she was balding. The family trees of both families retreated back into generations of look-alikes. All looked like turnips or wire-bristled brushes. Sandra was an abnominally. No such word? Then a freak in the family tree. A miracle. The beautiful flower that grew through the crack in the sidewalk.

For years Mrs. Hall resisted. She would not put Sandra into beauty contests. That’s how Mrs. Hall had been brought up. She had never become preoccupied with her own looks. And for good reason. So she saw no reason that her daughter should become preoccupied with hers. She wanted Sandra to put more emphasis on her mind. Learn those skills. Learn those drills. Under pressure from her husband’s family. A group of bankers who knew how a buck could be turned. Over a new leaf. Sandra was put in the Miss Toronto contest. Sandra was 16. No one remembered who came in second. No one remembered who had won the year before. Sandra’s picture was placed on the front pages of all three city papers. The Telegram titled her. A refreshing break from the present government. The Globe was sure. The economy will rebound. How can it help itself? The Star was speechless. Circulation boomed. For all 3 papers. Several men died of cardiacs. Happily. Young boys read the front page. Before the sports section. Their older brothers took the news. Well. Into the privacy of their washrooms.

At college Sandra was every boy’s pin-up girl. Though she only had one date. With her fellow freshmen. Her calendar was filled with seniors. And college professors. Who for the most part, she found dull. They hardly open their mouths. She complained. And when they do, it’s to drool.

When she was 19 she went to a Leonard Cohen concert. And met the handsome troubadour backstage. And did not go home that evening. Or the next. But Leonard proved to be unreliable. He kept falling asleep over his Cheerios. In bed. And Sandra grew tired of sheets. That were always wet.

Through all those years, Sandra hardly said a word. What was the point? No one was listening. Until one weekend. In the mountains near Huntsville. At a retreat for recovering rich alcoholics. She met the universally handsome James Edwards. Waiting on tables. And the whims of middle-aged women. Putting himself through pharmaceutical college. Working weekends.

It could have been otherwise. The stars could not have been so aligned. Sandra had been hired by a rich recovering alcoholic. His name was Bruce. He was a well known man about town. Seen with every beautiful woman. Actresses were grafted to his arm. And the paparazzi loved to take his photograph. And so goes Sandra. Her arm inside Bruce’s. Except. There was no romantic link. Bruce was the city’s most eligible bachelor. He was also a closet homosexual. Terrified that someone might find out something. And he’d lose his glam.

One star down. How about two ? Sandra was afraid of being poor. She liked expensive restaurants, expensive clothes, distant vacation spots. And she realized that she had absolutely no skills. No talent for anything. Except being. Here or there. Looking good. Better than anyone deserved. And it paid well. If you could find the right sucker. And maybe James Edwards was a sucker too. Who cares when you’re in love? Was she too beautiful? James was not dismayed. He knew he was going to be rich. He could offer Sandra the life style, she had come to expect. And deserved. And while he placed a glass of water in front of her. He winked at Bruce. Then bent over. Discreetly whispered in Sandra’s ear. Nicely. Politely. A proposal. Don’t touch the soup. And you will be the next Mrs. Edwards.

Fox Trot Logic

September 28, 2011

The Pythagoreans were an odd lot. Even too. They believed in the power of mathematics. Numbers specifically. Everything had a number. A tree might be 38. While a cloud could be 456.  As odd at that sounds let us remember atomic numbers. And the Periodic Table.

(Left foot forward)

I read an account that suggested that if a meteor of appropriate size was to pass by Earth (and not hit us) that the magnetic quality of that meteor could scramble all of our computers. That is we would be blind. All the information that was on our hard drives would be a mess. Airplanes would fall out of the sky. Cars wouldn’t start. Anything operated by a battery would cease operating.  Civilization as we know it would end.

(right foot forward)

Remember The Matrix. Seems fanciful. That life could exist as a computer program. But that is one possible explanation for the universe. It fits the Pythagorean view. (In my view)

(slide left foot sideways)

What if there were a sun, a black hole, a huge gadget looking like  an on/off switch that if it passed to close to the earth could turn life…. off. We could call it a virus. But I prefer on/off switch. (In the parallel universe theory, anything you can think must exist someplace.) All life disappears.

(slide right foot over to meet left)

Perhaps not life. Perhaps just consciousness. So that in very short order all sentient life forms would disappear. Us. The cat. Spiders. Everything else would keep functioning for a while. Until it broke down.

(left foot back)

An alien life form lands on the planet. Long after our disaster with the on/off switch.

(right foot back)

Their quest. What happened?

(end of dance)

CUT Thats my movie.

It was actually a drama for televisionin the 1950s. I can’t remember the name of the show. Or any of the actors. All I remember is that the aliens looked like us. And they were the size of a salt shaker.

Cleaned up the mess in the backroom. The exterminators have left. (They gave up. That’s alright. The rats prefer abstract expressionism) Come have a look. i AM a GALLERY

 

INTRODUCING MR FORD HARVEY

September 27, 2011

There is a certain type of person. I don’t know how it begins. But they become a target. For others. Very early in their lives. When they first start to go to school. We had a guy like that at school. His name was Brady. He did get picked on. At school. And when he got picked on he would cry. It wasn’t so much that other kids like to see him cry. They were embarassed by it. As if it was a bad reflection on all kids. Brady and I became friends one summer. Not really friends. I was kind of told to go over to  his house. And play with him. Brady had a lot of comic books. I had a lot. So we traded. The trade wasn’t fair. I knew it. Brady gave me 10 comics for each one of mine. My avarice overcame my sense of right and wrong. When I got home my father asked me what I had. I explained it to him. He was pissed. Forced me to go to Brady’s and give him back his comics. I didn’t hear much about Brady after elementary school. Until I was about 40. I heard that he died of a heart attack. It made me wonder if he had gone through his whole life being taken advantage of, being bullied. It made me feel sick to my stomach.

……………………….

INTRODUCING MR. FORD HARVEY

I don’t know if it’s important what his name is. It seemed important to his parents. They named Ford after the American car companies. Began to decline. To boost morale. On the line. Ford was born in Detroit. The asshole of America. Or so Ford’s father thought. When he was laid off. It was the days of Nixon. And television investigations. Liddy and Hunt and Dean and Mitchell dominated the headlines. And then Ford was born. Delivered off an assembly line of statistics. Right handed. Caucasian. Receding hairline. No one paid much attention. Except the insurance company. They’d prefer that they didn’t know. His name was Ford Harvey. They never bothered to give him a middle name. No time. Ford had always taken second place.

There was a kid named Kuris. He’d been born in Nova Scotia. His father worked in the mines. Coal. Kuris was a Slovak. And he liked his soft drinks. He liked them so much that he drank too quickly. Spilt his soft drink on the floor. Hours before. But no one had noticed.

Ford walked through the drug store’s sliding doors and began his carefree adventure down the ramp. When Ford slipped on the soft drink, his feet were thrown toward the ceiling. The rest of his body obediently followed suit. And he landed on his back. Ford looked up at the ceiling of the drug store. This isn’t right. And then the pain hit. Like knives in his back. Oh mother, that doesn’t feel good. And then he passed out.

And for several moments Ford Harvey lay there. As good as dead. Until Paul McGregor was told a story by a customer about the adventures of a man who entered the drug store and slipped on the floor and landed on his back and for all intents and purpose seemed dead.

Paul rushed over to the sprawled victim and slipped on the same patch of soft drink spilt by a kid named Kuris and landed on his back. And Paul looked up at the ceiling. This is unusual. And waited a moment before passing out. Ford opened his eyes. Glanced over. At Paul. And began to cry.

The Death Of Lou Grant

September 26, 2011

The Death of Lou Grant has made the final in the Epic Awards for horror fiction.

You can download this ebook for free at:

the Death of Lou Grant

The Big Poop

September 26, 2011

I’ve been cleaning my house out. Tidying up before I pass on. Better that I do it than my kids get stuck with it. I threw out about a half dozen paintings. They were awful. Sent some other paintings to the Goodwill. Who knows where those will end up. Took about a dozen note books of poems that I wrote in high school and threw them out. The poems were very derivative. From Bob Dylan. I had a lot of angst back then but most of it came out sounding like I was some blues singer in the forties. Taking all my notes from college and my essays in graduate school and chucking them. This is like the big poop. The other day I was reading a blog from a guy who was upset that someone had used one of  his pics in their blog. Well, someday he’ll have his own big poop. That pic being used in someone else’s blog won’t seem that important.

Mish Mash

September 26, 2011

Everything in the urban environment is a human idea. The stop sign. The pizza sign. The layout of the mall. The road grid. Asphalt. Cement. Glass. We exist, like the squirrels. And weeds. Birds and raccoons in a jungle of ideas. These ideas do not often have any relationship with each other. The traffic lights were not designed with that poster stuck to one of the polls advertising an appearance of a rock band. Its a kind of mish mash. Of course all of these things are subject to the laws of nature. Rust. Erosion. etc. But they were not created by nature such as a tree in the forest. Human consciousness has evolved and adapted in the last hundred years or so to a ‘collage’. Although the hunter or farmer, the trapper or sailor had to deal with danger. He did not have to deal with things that could not have been predicted. In the city you deal with randomness. Not for the most part dangerous but always… odd. Okay, so she wasn’t really your mother.

What it rings about

September 24, 2011

There is something about Citizen Kane. That the most important thing about a man’s life, even a famous man, a tragic figure or a great man, is something obscure. Something mundane. The mundane dominates our lives. Small talk. But because we’re involved in it we don’t realize how trite it sounds. Could it be otherwise? Of course Shakespeare had great fun with the mundane. Elevating it to great comedy. In my own work I’ve noticed that the mundane reveals something about characters. But what? It rings true. But I’m not completely sure what it rings about.

……………………………….

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

Pink pigtails. Not exactly Moses. At the Red Sea. But the lovely May looked over the cash register. And up at the clock. Her bright gleaming eyes brimming as they say with anticipation. As was her retainer. It was sparkling as well. So happy. Like a sun shower in April. So many tears, her teeth were drowning. Let’s get back to that smile. It could lighten gloom. And your pocket book. Who wouldn’t pay. You see May wanted to dance. Up a staircase. On the edge. Of a blanket. Hanging over the 21st. Floor apartment. Accompanied by three young men dressed in tuxedos. Choreographed. With camera shots from the ceiling. To show her being carried on the fingertips. Of these gay young men. Light as a feather. She was. Almost like a cloud. Drifting over the fingertips of skyscrapers. Like a balcony. So splendid. So pure of spirit. And the strings in the orchestra humming. The brass section deep in a rhythm of blue. That’s enough about her smile.

May turned to Bea. The head. A little overweight. Who was helping Josephine. A small problem. Her cash register was choking. Loonies. Filling up her drawers. Too much provincial sales tax. The rich don’t like to pay. Why should they? Don’t they produce all those jobs. That pay taxes. That fill the coffers. That’s enough from the bully pulpit.

“Is it time, yet?” May’s hands grasped each other. Like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in weeks. She gasped. Wanting to rush off into her performance.

Bea smiled. Comfortingly. Like only a mother could about her youngest daughter. Only May wasn’t Bea. ‘s daughter.

May shook her head. Ringlets cascading down. Like pulp romance novels out of a garbage truck. Dumping culture into the dump. Where it had a chance to become something. And all the gulls. Landed. Reading the paperback novels. Offering positive criticism. Only Attwood belonged in the library. Of their memories.

Oh, these girls make me feel so young.

“Not yet, dear.” Bea sang. Like a restless wind. In that bottle of Coke. She could have been Jeanette Macdonald. But alas. No Nelson Eddy.

Bea was an older woman. Dyed black hair. Short. Parted in the middle. Thinning on top. There was a wart on her cheek. Several long hairs dangling. Like Rapunzel. Curling like smoke from the mouth of a frog. Beauty had begun to wane. Early for the young Bea. Moments after they cut that umbilical chord. Still Bea took pride in her appearance. And working with the two young girls, Josephine and May, that was special. There were souls to mold. Lives to direct. Almost like being seven years old. Playing at being an adult. In the back of the garage. Where uncle Ernie used to sleep it off.

May was more handsome. Than most. Some say she would have been an embarrassing man. Too beautiful for the male sex. May returned. To her cash register. A customer came up and placed her goods on the counter. May’s long red fingernails tap danced across the keys. Her toes began to tap. There was a melody sleeping in her mouth. Waiting to sing. May smiled at the customer. Glanced at the clock. With the greatest care. Placing the customer’s purchases in a plastic bag. From a distance she looked like she was humming. Some said that she was the next Shirley Temple.

“I’ve never seen a girl so excited.” Whispered Josephine to Bea. Making quite a fuss. At the other cash register. Shrugging her shoulders. Parenthesis. There’s always some good. In everyone. Even the Nazis could be cute.

Josephine held onto the notion. Rubbed it in. Under her arms. Over her breasts. In the open bathroom window. Every night. Maybe her prince was a peeping Tom. Josephine had seen a great deal of life. On the television. Its pleasures as well as its disappointments. May had a lot she could learn. From Josephine’s mouth. There was that time. At the airport. With the friendly hitchhiker. Who was trying to kill time. Flight delayed. And the time on the beach. The sun was going down. A boy on his back. And she’d had too much to drink. He was only a few years older than her. And it wasn’t true. That he was someone’s uncle. And it wasn’t true. That he was divorced. Or even married. And there were evenings. All those evenings. She chatted for hours. On the phone. With Raymond. Who became a priest. But kept using the word blessed. And told her that she would have been the only girl. For him. If it hadn’t been for the Eucharist. A wafer with a loose tongue.

Bea glanced at Josephine. Lost in her thoughts. Amongst the a priori and posteriori. It amused her the way Josephine pretended to be years older than May. The difference being only a few months.

“You’d think she was auditioning for the part of Juliet.” Josephine said. Turning. She spotted. Paul McGregor up a ladder. Placing some women’s napkins. On an upper shelf.

“I heard that.” May shouted. Inside her head. As her customer swiped her debit card. She pointed at Josephine. Bea laughed. Bea felt like a date square. Not being one. Eating one. Something small and sweet. She was growing faint.

Bea mumbled. About the cash register. Josephine nodded. Paper was stuck. Does anyone really want a receipt? What if someone accused you? Of theft. Your word against theirs. 6 months. First offense. Don’t they just throw them away? Bea wondered about Paul McGregor. Was Josephine interested in the clerk? Weren’t he and Josephine, an item? And what about Mr. Singh’s daughter? What did she and Paul have in common? She grinned. Paul is quite the Valentino. But couldn’t remember if she’d taken her Exlax that morning. Don’t want to be bound. Up.

May handed her customer her receipt.

Thank you.

She’d been trained. Well. After every sale.

“You never know.” May addressed the other two women. “The world could end. I heard of a famous actress who was discovered in a drugstore. If her, why not me? Somebody has to be famous.”

Josephine laughed. Her fingers tangled in her blonde locks. Playfully.

“Oh, let her dream.” Bea’s smile hugged her teeth.

The cosmetician, Deborah Hall, walked by. The cashiers and waved.

“She’s better than us.” Josephine muttered. “How many brains does it take to put on makeup?”

Bea shook her head. “Late again. That won’t go over well with Mr. Edwards.”

Bea moved from behind Josephine’s cash register. Over to May. She handed May a sheet of paper.

“Now read it over once,” Bea said. “Make sure you understand what you are saying. When you speak into the microphone, take your time. And don’t yell. Just talk in your normal voice.”

May took the sheet of paper and read it over once and then a second time. She looked at Bea.

“Is it time?”

Bea smiled. “It’s time.”

Josephine shrugged her shoulders in her cute manner.

“Is it afternoon or evening? I mean it’s 6 o’clock.” May looked concerned.

“It’s evening, dear,” Bea said drawing the microphone from behind the counter and handing it to May.

May took the microphone. The giddiness and childlike glee disappeared from her face. Replaced by a somber serious.

“Good evening, shoppers. Have you begun to empty out your attic for spring? Have you begun to clean those windows or vacuum those rugs. Its spring cleaning time. With all that old dust flying up in your face, don’t forget….”

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