11,041 vagabonds plus:
You were barefoot then with your feet on the handlebars, and I lost control, crashing into the gravel ditch of the prairie field next door. You laughed instead of crying at the gravel embedded in my knee, but I’d hear you wailing from the end of the driveway as your father whipped you in your bedroom after witnessing the forbidden bike ride.
Knowing the crime was truly mine and the punishment was meant for me, your crying echoed although my hands covered my ears. It seemed he was always hitting you. Even when you’d invite me over for Cheerios and chocolate milk as we watched our favorite cartoon, Jonny Quest. Remember once I asked how hard he'd beat you and you said you thought at least it was making your freckles disappear? So, we decided to run away and get married although we were a bit too young at eight years. We’d sealed it when you kissed my lips at our hideaway tree back in the shade of the orchard, and we took your father’s canoe, castaways down the narrow Eel River. But our adventure was brief wasn’t it? when I fell overboard to retrieve your wayward wedding loafer, waking up on shore nose to nose with an EMT.
Pulling up your blue silk graduation gown, you laughingly showed off the rebellious mismatched shoes - a blue tennis shoe with pink stars on the left, a barefooted sandal on the right. Remember though how people thought you looked funny walking crookedly across the raised platform to swipe your diploma? And I hushed them, defending you, explaining to the pinheads the uneven walk was because you were in the early stages of the phony Juergen’s Myasthenia Disease, and how lucky we all were to witness the poor girl lasting to get a diploma. Remember how you laughed when I told you, and you kissed my lips for the last time?
This is the city. Overcrowded, people commence to push and shove; tempers flare. Things can get out of hand quickly. This is where I come in. We were working the day watch out of Homicide Detail. The Chief is Captain Welch. My partner is Frank Smith.
My name is Friday. I carry a badge.
It was cold in Los Angeles. The phones were quiet. Frank was on a roll repeating a joke to anyone pointblank in earshot about the laughing cow with milk coming out of its nose. Funny, each time I heard Frank tell it the inflection in his voice would embellish a certain word differently, but it would still be just as funny.
Things can change in a wink. This chilling call came in at 11:04. Two officers down at a routine traffic stop with three suspects on the loose. One officer, Dan Willow, was dead; now it belongs to Homicide Detail like any other. Before we reached the scene we were diverted by a radio call with information on one of the suspects. It was 11:45. An eyewitness recognized the shooter and knew where the punk lived. Luckily we were in the immediate vicinity.
We rolled the car silently up to the curb fifteen yards away from the suspect’s address. Rather than wait for backup, Frank grabbed the shotgun and covered the back. Gun drawn, I cautiously approached the front. It was 11:57. Two slow steps up to the front porch, I hear a shotgun blast from the rear of the two story. When I get around back, Frank, blood spattered on his nice suit, calmly says, ‘I called for him to halt. He pointed it right at me Joe.’ Then, with voice breaking, ‘like a cornered animal, Joe.’
‘It’s alright, Frank.’
I stood behind Emily Willow with my hand on her left shoulder as she looked through a brown paper bag half full of items from her husband’s locker like a wide-eyed archeologist finding treasure. She wanted me there. Being single, Dan and Emily had welcomed me to a good home cooked from time to time. I’d always hear Emily singing in the kitchen. They were childless, so I guess I…I don’t know. Nothing good ever lasts.
‘These fish, Joe.’ She ran her thumb over them twice.
‘Scales of Justice.’
objects in mirror...
...are closer than they appear
W.C. Fields, in the funniest movie ever made, It’s A Gift, attempts to shave peering at the distorted reflection in the bottom of a can after his teenage daughter shanghais the bathroom mirror. At one point he turns his head from the blurry reflection only to see his right hand with razor floating way behind him. It is an absolute hysterical sequence.
But the mind’s eye just does that to us from time to time without mirrors.
Distortion, that is. Especially when we attempt to look at Life too closely I guess. Was that woman in the car in front of me with the special ‘Save The Children’ license plate really slapping her wailing child in the back seat? Was that police officer approaching me, getting closer and closer in my side view mirror, holding a ticket book and pencil in his left black gloved hand, going to award me with a Good Driver Citation? Was my Hispanic ex-next door neighbor’s little girl crying silently, clutching a little doll to her chest as her evicted mother dragged a stuffed, battered, samsonite suitcase along the sidewalk? Can’t be; two of the sweetest people I ever knew. Stop peeking through the narrow blinds now.
Down on one knee struggling to loosen a lug nut on a flat tire along a desolate county road trying to get back home, right about now we’d be sipping coffee on the back stoop, looking over my shoulder from time to time, was that wolf in my headlights earlier as huge as I perceived it to be? Is that breathing mine? They can easily clamp clean through a human arm I‘ve heard; like butter. I grip the crowbar tighter now. The breathing is a white-tail at the other wheel, watching me, sprinting away when I say hey there.
Soft green grass pillowing our heads, just how far away is that white cloud the shape of a beautiful woman reclining sensually, posing for a painter’s brush in the dusk sky east of Venus? You tell me it’s not a woman; up on your elbows now squinting, you say matter-of-factly, no, silly man, it’s a 1954 Schwinn bicycle with white wall tires, and I tell you glasses are in your future, mostly because you know how I feel about a woman with gentle soulful blue-gray eyes wearing glasses.
cinco de mayo
I believe it means 'hold the mayonnaise.' I tried it at the burger joint tonight and the black-eyed Hispanic girl behind the counter shook her head and smiled.
Later, downtown idling at a red light I saw this beautiful, gentle, seeing-eye retriever guiding her master at a crosswalk and wished I had one. I guess mine would be a speaking-responder retriever since I don't say much. I'd just let her yelp once the same answer if anyone tried to talk to me, and they'd say she's adorable and she would let them pat her head, then we'd move on, she'd make eye contact with the lost and just maybe, just maybe heal a few souls.
I enter a room
as natural as a fish
surfacing for air
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