I Am the Headsman

I am the headsman.

I collect

the blank stares of the

stupid,

the ineptitude of the

clueless,

the relentless levity of the

perpetual clown.

I am the headsman.

I collect

the pride of the

arrogant,

the boasts of the

insecure,

the innocence of the

naive.

I am the headsman,

I collect

the schemes of

my enemies,

the dreams of

my friends,

the fantasies of

my lovers.

And when I can

no longer

lift the gift of death

I bear,

I will set the bloody basket afire,

and climb on top

to burn

away,

the final dissolution

of

disillusions…

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

They Have to be Invited In

Beyond Panic

They have to be invited in

After they ring the bell

I did, but didn’t know she’d make

my life a living hell

And ever when they lie with you

They lie to you as well

I thought the difference would be plain

But no, I couldn’t tell.

She left a desiccated heart

Inside a broken shell

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

2014

They Have to be Invited In

All rights reserved

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Ariana by the Sea

Beyond Panic

Ariana felt the hot sand sliding between her toes, heard the distant crash of the water smashing on promontory rocks. Not for her the water’s edge. The vastness of the ocean was a strange and fearful thing, and creatures lurked beneath it; she’d heard the sailors’ tales when she worked the tavern houses and inns, and did not wish to find herself bewitched beneath the waves.

And yet, her eyes kept straying there. So beautiful and savage was the sea. Swirling and surging now with a contained rage, blue and green and gray by turns, and powerful, flecked with the gold of a high morning sun, the wind like a child’s fingers on her cheeks and in her hair.

The wind hugged her like a lover; her dress clung to her, and a brief and rueful smile touched her lips, for she felt the curves of her body beneath, her childhood faded…

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Victory Flags (Daily Post repost)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Enough Is Enough.”

You should know:

Victory Flags are not always grand, unfurling banners embroidered with gold sigils of lions rampant, soaring eagles, flame-spewing dragons, diving falcons, and weapons of war, planted at the heads of armies, looking down into valleys of defeated foes.

Sometimes…

they’re just the right words of comfort in a time of despair,
or dirty, blood-soaked rags stanching bleeding wounds,
or taking a deep, ragged breath before making the next shaky effort…

sometimes it’s looking up the mountain at the descending hordes gathered against you

and getting back up to stand, and exhale a whispered, defiant declaration
into the howling winds and roiling clouds of your most ferocious storm,

“I’m still here.”

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

The Good News

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Once Upon a Time.”

Once upon a time…

He finally made his way home, weary from the day’s work, looking forward to some downtime, but doing what, he didn’t know.

It didn’t matter, really, as long as it wasn’t work.

He’d been to see the doctor last week, and while the overall health was good, there was an issue with blood pressure.

It was high. His hyperactive thyroid had triggered it, and while that was under control, the blood pressure was a constant tide: low, high, low, high…

The heart was fine, the pulse fine, even the cholesterol was fine, and the sugar too. He had no allergic reactions, gained a couple of pounds, but not much, and felt fine in general, no pain to complain about, but though he was not in danger, he was not entirely out of the woods.

Trudging up the steps, he saw the edge of the white envelope sticking out of the mailbox.

Sighing, he removed it: “An Important Message from Your Health Plan.”

Doctors….

He walked through the living room, looking at the envelope in his hand, pondering the possibilities of what could be important.

Without much preamble, he put down the heavy bag containing his laptop, and ripped the envelope open.

It was indeed from his health insurance, and as he scanned its message, he couldn’t help but smile, the message within making his heart glad and lifting his spirits, and lowering his blood pressure.

“This is not a bill.”

Death to Lizzington

The psychiatrist watched him as he pulled back the curtains, looking out at the pleasant meadow of his new home.

“How are you today, Mr. Smith?”

“That’s a pleasant looking meadow.”

“Aren’t most meadows?”

He looked at her, astonished. “Oh no! No, not at all. Some are quite dark, with things crawling around inside them, things you don’t want to see…”

She wrote a note, but didn’t dwell on it.

“Why do you think you’re here?”

He let the curtain fall. Now it was just the fluorescent lights in the office.

“She ruined my show.”

“Who did?”

“That young woman, on the blog. She ruined it. She sent a petition, and they read it, and did it, and ruined it all…

He was getting agitated; she signaled, and the burly attendants moved closer to the door.

“Do you not understand?” he said. “It’s a pattern: from ‘Moonlighting’ to ‘Who’s the Boss’ to ‘Cheers’ to ‘Night Court’ to ‘Family Matters’ to ‘Boy Meets World,’ the pattern is always the same, the question is always the same:  Will they do it?

“And they always, always do! But this was a haven. I found it after its first season. I watched it, and watched it again, enjoying the byplay, the intrigue; I’ve never seen Spader more brilliant, and the young actress had looks and talent, well matched with him. I had finally found a show worthy of my attention, but shortly after I’d found season one, I met her, the one who ruined things.”

“How did you meet?”

“Not physically. It was on a writing site, before the Internet chips we now have in our brains. She’s since gone on to fame and fortune as an author.”

He sat back, a wan smile on his face: “She posted about her first book signing, and I sent her a congratulatory note. I confessed to a bit of jealousy. Humorously, of course…”

“Of course.” (note scribble)

“But then, I saw her next post, and it was the beginning of the end: a petition for Lizzington!”

“Lizzington?”

He sighed. Was she not listening?

“Yes, Lizzington. It was trendy back in those days to combine the names of couples. Google it, or whatever it is you do now. Brangelina, Bennifer, Kimye, and other assorted nonsense. This was the pairing of Lizzie, a detective, and Ray Reddington, a mastermind and villain. First part of her name, last part of his: Lizzington.”

“I see…” (note scribble)

He leaned forward, holding on to the arms of the chair, sneering.

“No, you don’t see. They listened to her. They received her petition, and they listened to her, and created Lizzington.”

He sat back, deflated. “And in season 3, the detective and villain kissed. The show was over for me then. I’d begged her not to send it in, pleaded.

“Do you know what her answer was?”

The shrink shook her head.

“A quote from Spock: ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.’ I knew who Spock was before she was born, and she sends me a quote from Spock!”

The attendants looked inside.

“That’s rather cryptic.” (note scribble)

He sat back, wiping the tears away.

“Oh, oh yes. Cryptic. Cruel, even. High-handed. Dismissive. There’s a bunch more. Shall I recite them all?”

“No. No Mr. Smith, I think we’ve got enough to go on.” (note scribble)

“I’m suggesting you spend a few days with us; we’ll notify your job, and these nice young men will escort you to your room.”

“Is there a window?”

“Yes, I believe there’s a window.”

“May I walk in the meadow?”

“After dinner, yes, you may walk in the meadow.”

“Oh, good. It’s such a pleasant meadow…”

She stood up.

“I’ll be by to check on you tomorrow, Mr. Smith.”

He smiled, endearingly. “Very well.”

The attendants came in, and lifted him gently to his feet.

“This way, sir.”

Wherefore didst thou do this, Megan?”

“Did you say something, sir?”

“No, no young man. Lead on. Lead on…”