A Day At The Park

“Over here!” A strawberry blond boy yells, flailing his arms to attract his quarterback’s attention.

The other boys stood in slack jawed awe as the football spiraled across the park to the blond boy. Silence propelled by the shock swept both teams, interrupted by a rubbery thunk echoing through the boys. The football bounced to the feet of a nearby observer, and the blond boy hit the ground like a sack of potatoes.

The old man stumbled over the football in a mad dash to get to the boy. He checked his breathing, then shook his shoulders gently.

“You alright in there?” he asked.

“Yeah, I think so.” he mumbled, his body curled into the fetal position.

“I guess the guys thought it was a gas.” he added dryly as laughter fluttered through the gathered mob of boys.  

The old man shook his head in disapproval, sympathy overtaken with momentary disgust.

“It’s alright,” the boy shrugged, “Don’t be so glum, Mister Jacob.”

Jacob shook his shiny, slightly spotted head to clear the fog of his mind and helped the boy up with his wrinkly arms.

“Why don’t you play with the girls?” he suggested, “Take it easy for a little, I’m sure they would enjoy your company.”

He ran back to the football game, diving for the ball almost immediately. Jacob sighed and returned to his post on the wrought iron bench. A few stray crows pecked the ground around him. The songs of a few girls carried through the flowers and trees.

Jacob exhaled and leaned to the side. The children reminded him of himself. Of his youth. Of the children he never had. For all the years that he’d spent in that park, the playful noises of children in the afternoon almost never changed. After retiring from the elementary school, this was the therapy he had to keep him young. To renew his zest for life.

The children coughed and hacked intermittently, dropping passes and interrupting songs. The boys playing football slowed to a crawl, the girl’s song mellowed to a halfhearted hum. One by one they laid down in the grass.

Jacob’s zest faded once again. Retirement was just a cover. The ragged newspaper next to him reminded him of that. Negligence, bold front and center. His eyes were heavy with tears that he refused to let go, his shoulders weighed down by all twenty of them.

A firm tug at the knee of Jacob’s slacks brought his attention back to the park. The blond boy looked up, his eyes greying.

“It’s okay to let us go, Mister Jacob.” he said with an approving nod.

“We know you didn’t mean for the gas leak.”

One after another they faded from sight. Once the last little girl was gone, Jacob let his tears flow. He would be back tomorrow, and so would they.

A Fixer Upper

About four years ago my husband and I began restoring a home in an up and coming historical district. Vaulted ceilings, detailed mouldings, hand carved handrails and mantle. They were all painted over, but fortunately the paint came off to reveal beautiful old wood. Under the old, trampled carpets were gorgeous wood floors. We were ecstatic with our purchase.

The trouble began a year or two into the renovation. My son, 10 or 11 at the time, wouldn’t look at the mantle. He wouldn’t say a word to me about it, but I saw him changing his gate and turning to avoid even a short glimpse of it. Finally, I sat him down and asked him about it.

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Grandma’s Primordial Soup, or, The Man In The Insinkerator

Garbage disposals are an example of humanity in its’ prime. If you buy the right one, you can even get rid of small bones. They’re downright amazing. Noodles, meat scraps, cereal? My Insinkerator devours it all.

At least until something got lodged in it. I was flushing a bowl of my Grandma’s famous Kitchen Sink Soup. The grinding and vibrating turned into a quiet electrical whirr. It’d never actually been jammed before. I coughed up some of the sinus infection I was fighting off into the sink. I tried turning it with the knob on the machine, I also tried moving the rotator head with a wooden spoon.

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I terrorized my family by playing Doll in the Hall

I saw a game on Facebook last week. It’s a riff on “Elf on the Shelf” called “Doll in the Hall.” Basically, you use a porcelain doll to fuck with your kids during October. It sounded like a blast for me.

I stopped at Goodwill while running errands and found the perfect doll. Pretty unassuming, blonde hair, blue eyes, the eyelids that move with it’s head, and most importantly, it could stand on its own feet. I dirtied up her up a little more while everyone was out of the house.

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The Hitchhiker

About ten thirty a few nights ago, I found myself driving down our curvy country road. I’ve made the same drive, at the same time, for the same thing dozens of times. We just wanted a few scoops of ice cream. It was foggy. There’s a small valley with a bridge at the bottom. I came down onto the bridge into a thick fog bank. My headlights hit a girl on the other side.
She stared straight at me. Brown eyes, fair skinned, and a red flannel shirt. I wasn’t in any danger of hitting her, she was on the other side of the road, but it was still surprising. I vaguely worried that the car coming up behind her was not going to have my luck. She stayed in my mind while ordering ice cream.

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An Accident Left Me Blind

“Good news, Mr. Miska! I believe you are a good match for our first trial!” Dr. Vijay said excitedly, “If successful, your vision will be completely restored.”

“If it isn’t successful?”

“You’re already blind, would no eyes make it any worse?”

“I guess not.” I resigned, “Where’d you get the eyes for a transplant?”

“A fellow researcher is dying. It’s nothing he can pass to you, but in the interest of progress he’s elected to donate his eyes in the name of progress.”

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Grandpa Tended Flowers

People wait for upwards of a decade to see the titan arum bloom. For me, the event lined up with some much needed extra credit for my botany course. Everyone was gathered around the bucket sized pod, waiting for it’s arrival nine years in the making.

Like watching a rhino ballet dance the large petal gracefully unfurled. It had a certain regality to it. The green outside curled back to reveal a meaty dark burgundy. The perfume wafted through the green house. Some spectators had to leave, unable to cope with the smell. All I could do is think of the flowers my grandpa grew in his basement.

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I hate the roller grill

I work for a nation wide gas station chain. We have a fair share of weirdos, like the people who eat exclusively off of the roller grill, or people who seem to stop in specifically to hit on any woman that walks by.
Then there’s dudes like Norm. This motherfucker, for starters, has never purchased a goddamn thing from us. He just hangs out by the roller grill. Why does he hang out by the roller grill? He likes to flop his Johnsonville(™) on it and see if an unsuspecting patron grabs it with the tongs. I swear to god one time, an older woman thought it was just stuck to the grill and he finished. Baked on jizz is not easy to clean off.
I noticed him loitering farther back today, over by the slushie machines. I was checking out a lady who had a hotdog shorter and thinner than what we usually sell. Before I could investigate, a woman screams over at the roller grill. Norm has a mile wide grin, though considerably more pale than usual. I run over to see what it is. Fingers rolling on the greased metal poles.
And Norms dick in her tongs.

The Good Son

All of my life I’ve tried as hard as I could to be successful. I worked for my goals, and for the most part I have always been satisfied with my results. I can’t really be sure exactly what first caused my problem. My parent’s never really supported my ambitions of being a botanist. They thought I would be better off as a medical doctor. I never wanted to deal with patients or their drips. Frankly, I’m not a people person.

It all started around my 17th birthday. I’ve replayed every event I can remember in my head. The only thing that stands out was my gift from my parents. A small statue of a short and stout man wearing a mask with half of his mouth in a cartoonish grin, and the other half in a frown. I still have him sitting on my desk, he’s still watching me while I type this.

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My Neighbors Think I’m a Ghost

My neighborhood has had a lot of supposedly paranormal activity as of late. The police have made announcements that they can’t really respond to ethereal invaders. Complaints started within the book groups. Their contacts were never where they let them. They’d wake up with fresh ice in their drinks or an empty cup on their nightstands. Personally, I always find everything exactly where I leave it. I think they might be hitting the Jesus juice a little aggressively.

Honestly, I think the bigger crime is how often spouses spend the night separate from each other because of their jobs. The husbands miss their wives, the wives miss their husbands. After being single for most of my life, I can sympathize with them. Sleeping alone is terrible. Snuggling up to a warm person, the smell of their hair. It’s just the best.

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