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…”

Broken Peaces

Peace of mind

Peace of heart

Peace of spirit

Peace of soul

Peace of stable relationships

Peace of His promises

Peace of the Blood covering

Peace of the New Covenant

Peace in the home

Peace of enough

Peace of community

Peace with God

Peace with Man

Peace that passes all understanding

Broken

by

me

And in His

mercy

He will put the

broken peaces

back,

and

restore me.

Amen

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.

On Matters of Themes (Part 2)

ChOiCeS  cHoIcEs Choices

Earlier, somewhere in the dusty digital archives of this blog, I posted against the initial pressure to ‘choose a theme.’ It seemed I was being bombarded while looking through the myriad fonts and graphics available to me, and so I planted my flag of non-conformity and said “I will not.”

Which kinda changed to “Not yet, anyway.”

So now, having been here awhile, and having roamed around from blog to blog to blog, I have to say that some of them are quite eye-catching. That being written, while I stand by my original premise that content ultimately drives whether we like, visit or follow, (or unfollow and unlike *hisss, booo, shame on you*),

I think for this year I will choose a theme, and see how it goes….

In the Temple of Her Heart (Chapter 2)

Heat suffused his face at her words, her boldness. She laughed, playful, delighted at his discomfort, and charmed by it too, and left him with the tingling warmth of her hand under his chin, as if he were the dog that rescued her, and she’d scratched his fleas there in gratitude.

And there it was, the opportunity of a lifetime, all because of a rabid dog.

In and of herself, Nahaia was pleasing to the eye, and Arlun counted himself fortunate; marriages were often arranged, and he’d seen some of the mates of his friends, both male and female, and his heart went out to them.

He knew, at least in theory, that in matters of the heart such things were ultimately superficial, since some of those marriages flourished in spite of the physical shortcomings; it wasn’t often, but it did happen. Shaking his head again as he packed, he put it from his mind.

It was not an issue for him.

Strange land, strange customs, strange people, foods, gods, and so forth were going to occupy his days so much that he didn’t need to worry about anything else.

The sun climbed, wearing down the day hour by hour, until finally, shortly after noon, he was ready to depart.

After tearful goodbyes and long hugs that showed fear and reluctance of accepting their new positions, they realized that in their eagerness to please, they’d opened themselves up to public examination, and courtly interference; there was nothing to be done for it now.

Arlun set out on a good, sturdy horse his father procured from the local horse trader; the man’s eyes positively glittered with greed at the thought of having a palace connection, and he was all too happy to accept a small deposit for a lucrative profit when the horse arrived safely; Arlun’s father’s word had proven consistently good throughout the years, and he was respected and trusted as a man of integrity, even among those who snickered at his poverty behind his back.

The animal was fine and even-tempered, and Arlun found himself relaxing as the road unfolded in its own lazy, meandering way toward the land of his bride-to-be. The afternoon sun was not overbearing, and the road was empty of everything except the creatures of habit that needed to cross it.

Seeing no real need to rush, his hands easy on the reins, he let the horse set it’s pace, and allowed his mind to wander…

She was resplendent in a gown of dark blue trimmed with gold, bedecked with a necklace, rings, ankle bracelet, and armbands set with sapphires and lapis lazuli, her raven hair unbound, but styled to frame her delicate face, and draped just so over her slim shoulders, her deep brown eyes rimmed with kohl and shadow, and when she smiled at him, his heart was bewitched beyond recall.

He heard no music, tasted no food, saw no other rival for her in his eyes, and blinded his heart to the possibility. 

Her father saw the stars in his daughter’s eyes, and the smitten smirk on the young man’s lips, and approved, for the youth, as far as he was concerned, had already proven his valor. His queen spoke to Arlun’s mother of plans, and he spoke to Arlun’s father of coin, and before the night was over, an agreement was reached.

  Arlun knew none of it, and would not have cared if told.

  As they danced, he breathed in the honeysuckle fragrance on Nahaia’s cinnamon skin, longed to taste the berry stained gloss of her lips, wet and gleaming in the festive light; he longed to hold the slender, graceful sway of her body and make it sway in other ways, and could tell by her shy smile that these were mysteries she would keep for him alone until he pledged for her.

  “Ah, Nahaia, my princess, my bride, my wife…” he rolled the words from his tongue, thoughts in the distance, and at first did not hear the rider fast approaching behind him.

When he did, it was too late.

Morning Vespers

I wipe the webs of sleep away with a washcloth and water

The coffee can yawns as I pop the lid

The scoop hisses and burrows under the ground

coffee beans

and whispers in sibilant protest as I dig it out

The brown beaten seeds spread their grains across the brown filter

and the river of tap water runs through the percolator pipes

The seeds are leeched of their chemicals, reluctantly released

This is the second death

And through the darkened carafe glass is my temporary salvation

And in the wraiths of steam that rise from the cup

in the light of the rising sun

are the

Morning Vespers

My answered prayers

I live to see the caffeinated

New Day

again

My Abandoned Blog

“Wait here,” Alfred said. “I have something to do way over there. I’ll be back for you.”

Do you promise?

“Yes, of course. I started out with you, so why would I leave you?”

It happens.

He laughed, took its hand, and kissed it lightly on the tip of its nose.

“Yes, it does, to other blogs. It won’t happen to you.

Very well, Alfred. I’ll wait here for you.

And Alfred left it, looking plaintively but hopefully at him as he turned to wave goodbye; it gave him a brave, if tremulous smile, and waved half-heartedly, wanting to believe…

And way led on to way, as the poem says.

The blog tried on its own to be good, to be relevant, to be vital and important, to be witty and charming, but without a fresh infusion, its health waned, and the visitors who came to see it didn’t stay long, and soon grew infrequent, and one day, stopped altogether.

The blog tried to be brave, but then a cold fog rolled in; still the blog waited, gathering its thin shawl about its shoulders, and folding its arms for warmth. It worked for awhile, but didn’t last.

By  now it was shivering, cold, and hungry for text, but there was no one around.

Alfred was hard at work, loading Christmas packages into trucks, first for fourteen hours, then twelve, and the blog was a vague thought, fast on its way to becoming a distant memory.

Weeks went by, and the blog finally sat down, and began to cry out its heart…

It’s almost Christmas, and he broke his promise. I’m sorry, Alfred, I couldn’t hold them…they left, and now, I’m leaving too…

The blog searched for a way to self-delete, when a voice called from the distance….

And now, before I end it all, the madness comes. I thought I heard his voice.

Again, the voice sounded, echoed, seemed to be closer.

No, thought the blog, no, I dare not hope…

The voice called it by its pet name. “BP!”  (an unfortunate choice, given recent events, but there it was…)

“BP!”

Footsteps, running hard, pit-patted on the road as Alfred came into view, anxiously looked for a sign that his blog was still there.

He didn’t see anything. He ran faster, hoping he was not too late.

The blog, rising on thin, shaky legs, used the last of its strength to stand.

It’s voice, cracked and raspy from disuse, was faint, but not gone. Alfred…

Just as Alfred reached it, it sagged into his arms, and he sat down, and laid it gently on his lap. His tears fell copiously onto the page of his abandoned blog, now dirty, dusty, and bleeding from the harm it was about to cause itself. He’d returned just in time.

“BP…” he sobbed.

And the blog reached up a trembling hand, and touched his bearded cheek.

You came back…

“I told you I would.”

But you forgot about me.

The words hurt, all the more so because they were true…

“I did,” Alfred whispered. Shame and sorrow heated his face. “I’m so sorry, BP. We’ve lost so much time. I don’t know if I can ever make it up to you…”

Time lost is…irretrievable, Alfred, but…we can go on….from here. Can you….?

“Yes, yes of course,” Alfred said.

Hands trembling with emotions, he spread his fingers over the warm, familiar QWERTY keys; the relief of finding his blog alive,  its forgiveness of his negligence, its still-abiding love for him, shamed him, humbled him, and gladdened him all at once.

And as he typed, the blog sighed in relief, and eagerly drank the text it craved; color returned to its cheeks, and its breathing evened. It was going to take more time, but at least now, there was a beginning.

“I’ll never leave you again, BP” Alfred said.

BP gave him a sad, amused smile, and kissed him lightly on the cheek, beard and all.

At least while you’re alive. Never say never, Alfred.

Alfred smiled back.

Beyond Panic was going to be all right.

Sharing Homework with Cheerleaders: A Cautionary Tale

Nothing made my day brighter in high school than when there was a game pending, and the cheerleaders would walk around the school in their outfits, pleasant distractions from the daily drudge of learning. They carried themselves like queens, however, and we males would smile and nod and greet, trying not to ogle, and then wipe the sweat and drool from our faces when they passed. One of them happened to be in my homeroom, and in she walked, strong, shapely legs in a short skirt,  and all the bells and whistles in my heart rang with adoration, and not a little lust, but I was tongue-tied around pretty girls, like most nerds.

She was a nerd too,  with aspirations of being a writer, so the yearbook said when we graduated, but she was also a cheerleader: popular, pretty, capable of breaking hearts with a dismissive swish of the hand, and I was a tragic figure, secretly in love (and not a little lust)  hiding my feelings.

Then, one bright magic morning, in her cheerleader outfit, she approached me, and I felt the stupid grin spreading, willing it to go away, and making it worse. And then she smiled at me! I was, for whatever reason, deemed worthy of her smile.

And then it got better: she spoke to me. If it had been manly to swoon, I would have done so on the spot.

“Alfred, did you do the homework for English class?”

In the midst of controlling my swoon, I thought: Who doesn’t do homework for English class? But I replied that I had.

“Can you let me borrow it; I didn’t get the chance to do it.”

Chivalry, thy name is Alfred. I produced it, and handed it to her, thinking again: We’re both in the honors class; surely she knows how to paraphrase and make it her own.

At lunchtime she gave me back my homework, and later that afternoon, I submitted it to Mr. D. He was my favorite English teacher, a large man with a droll and deadly wit. He wore Van Dyke whiskers, and had the memory of a herd of elephants. I took several elements of style from him in my own career later on, though I never got to tell him.

The following day, he distributed the homework back, and on mine was a bright red ‘D’ with the comment: “Who copied from whom?”  He looked at me askance, and said nothing, and I took the paper in a silence of my own, thinking “How did she screw this up?”

Class was taught, and then over, but since he was my favorite teacher and LOVED my writing, encouraging me often to pursue it, even up to the time I graduated, I felt I owed him an apology. Here’s what came out:

“Mr. D, I deserve this grade for what happened, but really? You should know who copied from whom.”

His laughter boomed as he nodded, and said “Okay. That’s what I thought.”

I walked away, restored to myself, the spell of the cheerleader broken forever. Until she signed my yearbook.

Wearing her cheerleader outfit.

Dammit….

Closed for the Season

One of my favorite summer activities in my new state was to go down by the waterfront and look out over the sun spangled waters of Raritan Bay, watch the dinner cruise ships, the fishing boats and jet-skis, hear the gull cries echo, smell the brine (that is brine, right?) and envy the homes of the comfortable with their private beaches WAAAAY on the other side. (Here, I imagined a home invasion where I arrived with luggage in hand, saying, “I’m only staying for a week. What’s for dinner? Is that flatscreen a 1080p? Where’s the guest bedroom? Is the maid friendly? )

As I imagined my bemused but agreeable hosts allowing me access to their luxurious residence, I’d go to the ice-cream parlor and get a chocolate shake, or something with cookies in the title, or a chocolate based flavor with an extra ‘drizzle’ of caramel, which in my case means almost more syrup than ice cream. Next to living free in a rich person’s home for a week, (before I get my own, of course),  I could happily die drowning in a vat of caramel.

Soooo….it was the third week of October, and a quiet Friday evening. I went down to the waterfront, and after re-establishing the fact that the homes I liked were still there for the envying, I ventured to the ice cream parlor, only to see this sign:

CLOSED FOR THE SEASON: Our last day was October 13th (Columbus Day)

   I suppose it’s the right thing to do with an ice cream store in the winter, but really, could they not have converted into a coffee shop for the winter?

I stayed for awhile, enjoying the peace and quiet, not envying anything or anyone, happy to be alive, happy the gulls were still there, happy the sun was out even though it was setting, happy to feel the cool wind off the water, and I could see the twilight colors filling in with deep blue shadows, and watch the night lamps come on to push back the impending darkness for a while.

I could hear the gentle lapping of small waves against the rock wall, and I watched the first stars come out, small and shy, like children peeking from behind a grown-up’s leg.

It became all right that the ice cream parlor was closed for the season.

In fact, it was perfect.

Waiting on the World to Change

A few years ago, I heard a song by John Mayer called Waiting on the World to Change, a song about idealistic and virtuous youth waiting for the corrupt and evil aged to die off. The song’s most telling lyric went as follows:

“It’s not that we don’t care, we just know that the fight ain’t fair,

So we keep on waiting for the world to change.”

I thought it rather lightweight  for a protest song. I also thought it was the most naive thing I’d ever heard from a young man who’d traveled the world several times over.

Why would you wait?

Still, it will be interesting to see what unfolds while you do. Here’s why:

The ‘love your brother’ and ‘equality for all’ generation, when they began to experience true competition for resources as a result of their policies to ensure that equality in the 60’s, became the ‘angry white men’ of the 90’s and began working to repeal the very laws they enacted, becoming, in the process, worse sell-outs and hypocrites than they accused their corporate fathers of being in the 50’s.

And the computer, an invention of the Boomer generation which Mr. Mayer is waiting to go the way of the dinosaur, has upped the ante considerably, and taken things globally in an instant.

Today, a segment of the 60’s generation of love, peace, equality and freedom throws rocks at immigrant children, repeals voting laws, advances the aims of the very corporations they once vehemently denounced, and seeks to distance themselves from those who they were once like in the past;  the other segment is permissive and apathetic in their adult responsibilities to the point of letting the country fall into anarchy.

So no, dear young people, you can’t afford to wait on the world to change. You are going to have to wade into the American wasteland, and get blood on your clothes, and get in peoples’ faces, and make unpleasant sacrifices, and make your voices heard. There is seldom a birth of a new thing without some labor pains being involved, and getting stoned like your grandfathers did for most of their first thirty years is not the way to go about it.

I’ve heard the saying: “These kids live in a different world.”

No you don’t; you live in a different time.

Yes, it is a scary, parasitic, greedy, lustful, materialistic, and intimidating time enhanced by constant connections and distractions, and things baying at you for your attention and money, but you are not in a different world; you’re on the same planet, and as far as we know, it’s the only where you can live outside of a clunky spacesuit, and without devices that will keep you from becoming a runaway hot air balloon.

So let me ask you, Mr. Mayer and company:

Can you really afford to spend it waiting?

Will you?

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