Friday, August 26, 2005

The Web of our Lives

This is the first of two stories written for the theme of "Webs". For me this was an uncharacteristically dark story. In re-reading it now for the first time since it was written in March of 2000 I find myself liking it and thinking of re-writing and expanding it. I may well do that. Let me know what you all think of it. It's a bit hard to follow as it jumps back and forth in time in the short space of 1000 words.

While I was mowing the lawn this afternoon I was thinking about my writing. That is one of the main reasons I like to mow, it gives me lots of  time to think. I decided that I need to write some new stories and I'd love to get themes or ideas that the few people that read this journal would like to see a story about. So....if you're reading this and would like to see some new stories leave a comment with a suggestion or two for a theme or if you are too bashful to comment publicly then email me. I promise not to credit the suggestion without asking first.

June 25, 1999
    "Hey Buddy, can you spare some change?" Jerry heard. He stopped and turned, looking at the deeply lined face of a man wearing layers of threadbare clothing.
    "I'm stuck here in this town man. I just want to raise enough to get home and I won't have to live like this," the man went on in a quavering voice.
    Jerry sighed, fishing out a dollar while he thought of all the real suffering he had seen over the years; the hungry kids, the pain of the men and women starving or wounded in senseless wars. This man, he thought to himself, doesn't even know what suffering is about.
    None the less, he handed the man the dollar but as he walked away he added over his shoulder, "whatever your problems sir, I'd trade with you right here and now in a heartbeat." Midway down the next block he turned into the office of his doctor.

November 12, 1978
    "No mom, it's too late for any of that. Kate's already filed for the divorce and nothing I offered to do seemed to matter to her," Jerry said wiping the tears away and looking around. He was sitting in the living room of his childhood home surrounded by comfortable memories of better times and it made him realize just what had happened.
    "I won't say it was all my fault. We both made the decisions that led to it. I wanted to give Kate and the kids the kind of life we both wanted for them. I succeeded but in succeeding I lost them. I gave them a wonderful life but in failing to live it with them, I blew it.
    Fighting back more tears, Jerry went on, "No, I'm letting her have everything. That's what I'm here to tell you. She wants me out of their lives so I'm going all the way out. I leave Monday with a missionary group going to Africa."

December 20, 1990
    "Do you ever get used to this Mr. Carver?" the young lady standing next to Jerry asked.
    He looked at her and then at their surroundings. He saw a young enthusiastic lady like most of the young people he'd worked with over the years except that there was a little something about her that he thought reminded him of himself long ago. They were surrounded by naked or near naked kids running loose, garbage piled everywhere, and squalid, ramshackle housing.
    "Well Melissa you can come to accept that such exists in the world but I think that if you ever can just get used to seeing all this pain and suffering in such squalid conditions without feeling the injustice of it then you're no longer suited for this work." Jerry said, watching her look around and realizing she was feeling what he was and always had.
    On the way to where they were staying when Melissa asked him how long he'd been doing this work and how he got started, telling him that she'd heard rumors about him from some of the others he decided that for once he'd share his story with someone. She cried with him as he told her about losing his family and about all the unanswered letters to his former wife over the years. He found himself feeling a little better having told somebody the whole story.

June 25, 1999
    Instead of an examination room he was shown into the doctor's office and seated in a comfortable armchair. The doctor sat across the desk with his hands steepled together obviously having trouble with what he had to say. Jerry read the message in the doctor's body language before he said a word but sat quietly, waiting.
    "Jerry," the doctor began and stopped. Jerry just waited calmly for him to go on. Finally, the doctor sat up straight and said, " There is no easy way to tell you this. The cancer has spread and there is nothing more medical science or I can do other than to ease your pain in the coming days. I would say you've got a month, maybe two. I'm sorry Jerry."
    "I understand Doc. Don't feel sorry. I told you my story, you know I almost ended my own life 21 years ago so these two decades have been a bonus. I like to think in some small way, I made a difference."
    "You may be angry with me for this but there was only one thing I could think of to do for you. I contacted your ex wife and was able to convince her and your children to meet with you so that you would at least know how they had turned out. I arranged for you to meet them at your son's house on July 4."
    Jerry stared speechless glad now he'd never given up hope, realizing that after all these many years a prayer had been answered.

July 4, 1999
    Trembling Jerry paid the cabbie and got out, looking at the house in front of him. He squared his shoulders and went up the walk. Kate who smiled, tears in her eyes as she searched his face greeted him at the door. She motioned him into the house and he saw a handsome young man standing next to a beautiful young lady, both smiling nervously.
    "Jerry," Kate said quietly, "Meet your children, they turned out wonderfully and I'm sorry you didn't get to meet them until now."
July 29, 1999
    The wind blew unseasonably cool on that gray July day. The gray haired lady and a younger lady and a man who were obviously her children stood hugging looking at a headstone and read:

"The web of our life is of a mingled yarn. Good and ill together: our witness would be proud if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would despair if they were not cherished by our own virtues" (William Shakespeare)

Friday, August 12, 2005

One Texas Summer

I want to post another story now for a couple of reasons. I'm heading to Vegas for a week tomorrow and doubt I'll have a lot of time for it next week. Also I got pimped by Gem in her journal and since she even mentioned these stories it encouraged me to post another one.

This is another story written for the theme "Escapades". It is also another collaboration. I can't for the life of me remember the inspiration for this story. As I remember the only comments I got on it from the judges were corrections to the grammar in the dialog. We had intended it to sound like a Texas teenager talking but maybe it didn't work, you be the judge.

It was August 1969 in Texas.  My folks had gone to South Padre Island for their annual vacation, but I was 16 and had a job, so I was spared.  Me and my best friend Jimbo were hangin' out at my house, reveling in our temporary freedom.  While we sucked on Marlboros, we were surrounded by dirty dishes, empty soda bottles, and overflowin' ashtrays.

But by the third day, the novelty of paradise was wearing off a bit.  Jimbo'd brought his girlfriend Kimmy over, so besides being bored, I had to watch the two of them neckin'.  Suddenly Jimbo said he had this great idea... a sure sign to watch my ass!

"Robbie, your daddy's car is sittin' right there, just beggin' us to get in!  Kimmy says Pam thinks you're pretty cute---we could pick her up, and head over to the lake, and have ourselves a good ol' time!"

Well, it was appealing, but I could see two problems right away.  First, I was not supposed to even *touch* Daddy's new '70 Hemi 'Cuda, let alone drive it!  And second, Pam had this reputation for being a bit "loose"... and while I was aching' to finally get laid, I wasn't sure I wanted it to be with her, cuz she would know for sure it was my first time.  But also, I didn't know when I'd ever have a more perfect chance... so I blurted out, "What the hell... let's go for it!"

I got the spare keys from where I knew Daddy kept them, and we headed out.  Jimbo and Kimmy were giggling and squirmin' in the back seat... he and I talked constantly about girls and sex; but he probably embellished as much as me; so I wasn't sure if the two of them had actually done the deed.

We stopped at the Dairy Queen where Pam was just getting' off work.  I watched Kimmy and her talkin',glancing' out at us now and then.  Jimbo kept jabberin' to me about how horny he was, and how he hoped Pam would come along, cuz he figgered that would make it smooth sailin' with Kimmy.  Well, his wish came true, cuz a few minutes later they both headed out to the car.  Pam climbed into the front seat, said hi, and rambled on about how great the car was.  I think she was actually more interested in that 'Cuda than in me... but hell, you hafta answer when opportunity knocks, right?

That big Hemi showed its stuff as I peeled outta there, and Pam squealed as she held onto my arm.  It kinda scared me, too---I'd never driven a car with that much scat!  But everyone seemed to be impressed, and Pam was *glued* to me---I could even feel her breasts against my arm!  And when we got to the lake, she even kissed me and said she thought I was cool!  I kissed her back... and even got some tongue that time!  After that... well, things got pretty hot and heavy in both seats of that vehicle.  Then suddenly Jimbo slapped me on the head and said, "Come on!  We came here to skinny dip!"  To my surprise, Pam looked a bit nervous at that.

We followed behind Jimbo and Kimmy, as they shed their clothes on the way to the lake.  Then Pam stopped and said, "I hafta tell you something, Robbie.  I never really skinny-dipped with a guy before."  I just said, "Well, no one will see us... and besides, Jimbo and Kimmy won't let us back out now without takin' a lot of crap about it!"

I promised Pam I wouldn't watch her, and I undressed and ran into the water first.  I really had planned to peek, but got distracted by Kimmy standing out of the water from her waist up.  Jimbo pulled her down so only their heads were visible then; but I had a pretty good idea what was goin' on underneath!  Just then, I felt Pam's arms around me from behind... and I was embarrassed as hell that I was already... well, "standin' at attention"... before I had even touched her!

We started kissin' right away, and quickly got our hands into the act, too.  We watched Jimbo and Kimmy head back toward some bushes... and soon the moanin' from shore sorta "inspired" us, and Pam took my hand and led us out of the water.

We laid down and started rubbin' our bodies together, and I knew I'd better get that rubber out soon, cuz it was too tempting to just keep going!  I dug it out of my jeans pocket, and Pam took it and said, "Here, let me."  But the second she started to put it on me... well, let's just say it got there a little too late.  All I could say was, "oh, shit"... and grabbed myself to finish it off.

Needless to say, it kinda broke the mood.  And besides being embarrassed, I was also worried that Pam would be pissed.  But all she did was hug me, and whispered, "Ya know, Robbie, I'm kinda glad that happened.  Cuz... I've never gone all the way.  Oh, I know what everyone says about me... and, well, I've always kinda liked that people think I'm sexy and all that.  But deep down... I'm kinda scared to do it, cuz the guys would know it's not true."  I hugged her back, and we ended up havin' a real good talk that night.

As things turned out, we got that 'Cuda back home safe and sound... and Daddy never did find out about it.  And Pam and I never told anyone the secrets we'd learned about each other that evening on the beach.  We actually stayed pretty close friends after that---though we never got together again for a "second chance.  But still... I'll never forget that whole escapade, cuz it was one of the most unexpected and excitin' nights of my life!

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Who Chaperones the Chaperones?

Somebody is reading these :) Thank you for your comments!

This story was written in early March of 2000. It is based on a tiny germ of truth from my life. I got roped into being a chaperone for my son's 5th grade campout. The entire 5th grade of his school went. It seems like another life now since he is, this year, a senior in highschool. (obviously this story was not written immediately after the event). I have to put a disclaimer that this story is (rather unfortunately) not autobiographical and any resemblance to any real people is just a coincidence spurred on by my overactive imagination. I also should say that this is the PG version of this story. I also wrote a version that is more R or X but obviously could not have posted that version here on AOL without violating the TOS.

     Much against my will I found myself preparing to go camping with my fifth grade son and his classmates. This was a once a year thing for all fifth graders. When his teacher called me a couple of months before she somehow got me to say yes to something I would normally no way have agreed to. But I'd said I'd do it and I don't go back on a promise so here I was sitting in the school cafeteria as they explained to the parents who were chaperoning what we would have to do.

    We arrived and had time to get all the bags sorted out and in our assigned cabins before lunch. While waiting around in front of the main hall where lunch was to be and trying to keep my eye on the 5 very active boys assigned to me I ended up talking to a woman named Linda as she tried to keep her eye on the 5 girls she was responsible for. It seemed like all day we kept running into each other.

     By the time we were ready for the evening entertainment in the round lodge around the campfire all the parents were beat. I got my kids there and found a place on a bench.

    There were tables all around the outside of the circle and mostly the parents were sitting at these. The kids were sitting on the floor in front of the tables nearer the fire as the entertainment was presented. I had to move to help hand out drinks and when I sat down again I found myself beside Linda when I sat back down. We were in one of the three or four places that were almost pitch black due to theway the place was built.It was not crowded and it was the quietest place there was although that's only in a relative sense of the word quiet. Conversation was possible though without yelling.

    It was actually kind of pleasant sitting there in the dark watching the fire and smelling the smoke. Linda said something to that effect and said she was glad she'd met me and that she wished we'd had more time together. We talked for a while and her hand made its way to my leg and started to stroke it lightly. I put my hand on her leg and she covered it with her hand. When I looked over at her she smiled and then rested her head on my shoulder.

     When I asked if she thought she should do that she pointed out that nobody could see us as long as the house lights didn't come up.

    The entertainment was drawing to a close and it was all too soon time to take the kids back to their cabins. We arranged to meet a bit after lights out by the main hall. With a wink she said she'd see me after lights out and we went off our respective ways.

    It seemed forever to settle the kids and I thought lights out would never come. I told one of the other chaperones in my cabin as he settled in to sleep that I was going for a walk and left for the main hall.

    There were a surprising number of people sitting around the outside deck of the main hall. She came a couple of minutes later and after talking a bit in the group said she felt like taking a walk and asked if I'd go with her to keep her safe from snakes. At least a couple of the people in the group seemed to have a good idea what we were up to and the rest were clueless.

    As soon as Linda and I were away from the main area and off on our own she took my hand. I stopped, looked around, and seeing nobody bent a little and kissed her. She whispered that she had been waiting for that all day. My lips pressed against hers, and then gently covered her mouth. She returned my kiss with a hunger that belied how calm she had been all night. There was an almost electric sense of excitement between us. Our hands roamed each other's bodies and it soon became apparent we needed to find a comfortable quiet place to continue. We started off toward the back of the camp where there were supposed to be more cabins that were not in use then.

    We heard something up ahead and slowed down looking at each other and agreeing to quietly check it out. We were surprised to find two of the other parents necking. She was leaning against a tree and he had her shirt pulled up and his hands were roaming her breasts. We tore ourselves away and, skirting them as quietly as possible, continued back toward the cabins.

    Finally they came in view. Linda and I found one that was unlocked and went in. The bunks are far too narrow but we put two mattresses on the floor and that looked like it would work. We began kissing passionately. Her ardor totally inflamed my passion and it was not long before we were shedding clothes and sinking to the mattresses with our bodies wrapped up in each other. Our passions exploded and we made love with an almost savage intensity. We were both totally spent when it was over.

    We collapsed together holding each other and kissing quietly as we came down from that incredible high. She said she'd never done anything like this before but had fantasized about it since she'd agreed to go on the trip.

    We finally decided we'd better get back to our own cabins. We've talked since and both agreed that although this was a wonderful escapade neither of us desired a full fledged affair so we let this be a wonderful one time fling that will forever live in our memories.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Double-sided Blues

This is another 'Blues' story. It is also a collaboration. It was written, as was the previous story, in February of 2000. I won't say much about it since from looking at the hit stats and the comments only Connie is reading this journal any longer. Thank you for sticking with me. I'll keep posting them until all my existing short stories are here. (The ones that clear the AOL TOS anyway).

There I was, trudging along the somewhat muddy path through the woods, kicking at rocks, and generally feeling sorry for myself. I was less than a year short of my 40th birthday, an aspiring writer with no sales to his credit, and frankly, no real effort expended recently. Lately it seemed that all I wanted to do was sleep. It had even become an effort to crawl out of bed to care for the kids when they needed me, a duty which fell to me since I was the stay-at-home parent. It had never seemed like a burden until recently, when it had become as wearing as the rest of my life.

One of the worst parts was living with the perception of others that I "should be happy." After all, being married to a very successful woman, and not being *required* to bring home a paycheck, gave me financial security as well as time and freedom. But even though I had all that, and I knew deep down she loved me very much, I was still feeling such a void. It was an emptiness I tried to explain, justify, defend, and even ignore... but it kept creeping back and I couldn't shake it.

With the strenuous hours she's been working lately, her basic routine is coming home mid-evening, eating a late reheated dinner, playing with the kids a bit, and then falling asleep. And when I do manage to catch her awake in bed, and try to initiate some intimacy, I'm met with indifference at best, and at worst a feeling of "let's get this over with." I eventually realized that the ironic truth is, with all the benefits that her professional efforts provide me, they're forcing me further out of her life as time goes on.

I've been feeling more and more isolated. It seems that everybody but me has friends. Over the years, I've found that people in general don't seem to understand a man who doesn't have a 9-to-5 job in this day and age. Some assume I'm unemployable, some probably think that I'm just lazy; and some may even believe I have no control or say in our marriage. Only a very few stop to think of the rewards and recognitionmy wife receives that I don't, not to mention her opportunities for social interaction, of which I see little. Not many realize that unlike most wives, mine has very little housework to do, and her children are always attended by a loving parent in their own home. But even as I utter those words, I'm even questioning how much care and affection I'm capable of giving them anymore.


There I was, stuck in the same traffic jam that slowed me down every morning. When we started a family, my husband and I agreed that since my career was taking off, I would be the one who supported us financially, and he would stay home with the kids and pursue his writing vocation. That always seemed like the perfect setup to me, as I knew I had always been very fulfilled in business. But recently, it had become tougher to go to work, for so many reasons. I used to love my job, as it was usually challenging, and my efforts were measurable, visible, and appreciated. However, lately there had been lots of sporadic talk of layoffs at the management level. And since I was being assigned more "busy work" than major projects, I was more than a little worried.

One of the worst parts was living with the perception of others that a woman should have a natural "maternal instinct" and choose to stay home and raise her children if at all possible. But I had practically done that already with my own younger brothers and sisters, and although I wanted more than anything to be a mother, I could not see myself spending 24 hours a day with my children. I always knew that our preference for my husband to be the major
caretaker while I continued to work was not the most popular idea to discuss, even though deep down I also knew it was no one else's business. And as long as I was able to separate and maintain those two worlds, I was alright. But now that I have to put in extra hours doing research and proposals for new projects in order to create some job security, it seems I have to drag myself both to work and back home.

With the strenuous hours I've been working lately, I find I don't have the time or energy for my family when I get home. The kids seem to get most of what there is, because they are more demanding and persistent, and their needs are more obvious. But I can barely make it to *their* bedtime anymore, let alone my own. I long for the intimacy my husband and I used to share; but when he approaches me at night, I can barely keep my eyes open. I'm sure he thinks it's because I don't want him anymore, but it's not that... I just need more than a few quick stolen moments now and then.

I've been feeling more and more isolated. One of the best side benefits of going to work every day used to be the enjoyment of friendships with coworkers. But commensurate with my career success, I've noticed those interfaces steadily decreasing. Some individuals probably think I'm power-hungry or ruthless, and only a very few have stopped to think that I'm simply doing the best I can to support my family. I think what I fear the most is facing the fact that we may have made the wrong decision all those years ago, about the "separation of duties"; because neither my husband or I seem to be happy... with our time apart, or our time together.