Chapter LXVIII – Birk’s First Kiss

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LXVIII

Birk’s

First

Kiss

Birk and Clancy were in the small backyard of the house breaking up the soil so his mother could start a garden. 

“Birk get in here, now!” His mother shouted from the back stoop.

He and Clancy followed her into the house. 

There was a stranger sitting in the living room.

“This is Mr. Joseph from the steel plant. This be Birk and our boarder Clancy Sinclair.”

The man stood and shook hands with them. “I’m sorry for your loss.” he said.

“Loss?” Birk looked at his mother. “Maddy?”

“No,” she began to sob. “Mac died at the plant this afternoon.”

“Couldn’t catch his breath.” Mr. Joseph explained. “I work with him with the boilers. He was shovelling the number 3 and stopped heaving for air. Took him to the infirmary and then they rushed him to the city hospital but by then t’was too late. Doc there says t’was his heart gave out.”

“After them done broke it.” his mother said. “Goddamned BritCan pulled that heart right out of him.” She dabbed at her eyes with the edge of her apron.

“I came to tell yer Ma myself. Didn’t know Mac for long but he was eager worker. Told us how good his boy Birk was around the boilers, too.”

“Some, but not as good as he was.” Birk said. Without Mac the responsibility for the family was now his. There’d be no leaving to anywhere for work with Clancy.

“Thank you from coming to tell us.” Birk shook his hand. “I see Ma’s given you some tea. You want another cup?”

“No thank ye. I have a family awaiting me too. I’m over Hanson Road. Not too far from here. Number fifteen. Come by the Plant in the morning and I’ll see if we can fix you up.”

“How’s that?” Birk asked.

“We took Mac because we needed him. We still need him. We can give you a try to see if you’ll do.”

“I already have work at the Patterson millworks.”

“So yer ma tells me but you’ll get paid more, travel less and keep ahold of your house.”

“I’ll think on it.” Birk shook his hand again glancing at Clancy who had remained silent since coming into the house.

“You boys had supper?” his mother asked once Mr. Joseph was gone.

“Can’t say as I’m much hungry Mrs. Mac.” Clancy said.

“Come out the kitchen while I sees to supper.”

Maddy was the the kitchen table. “When Poppa coming home?” she asked.

“Not fer awhile.” Birk said. “Not fer a long while.”

“He’s gone to be with Sal.” His mother sat beside her.

“Sal?” Maddy teared up. “Sal gone to be with God.”

“So she has.” his mother said.

“That why that man was here?”

“Yes Maddy.”

“I hate him. He sent pappa away didn’t he.”

“No.” Birk said. “Mac was tried that’s all. Moving here and changing was too much for him.”

“For all of us.” His mother ladled out stew for them. “Eat and we can talk more about this later. I’ll say grace, ‘God thank you for the food we have that will give us strength to face what has to be faced. Amen.”

Birk washed the dishes while his mother put Maddy to bed.

“You’re some silent.” He said to Clancy.

“It was all so clear to me this afternoon. It made sense to leave here and build a life on my own plans not on something set out before me. A life for two of us.” Clancy said.

“Nothing holding you. You said you got no family here.”

“There’s you.” Clancy said softly. “You know when I took off that last time I didn’t mean to come back. I was through with all this, with those micks who want to lynch someone for not being a God-fearing mick.”

“Lynch?”

“That’s what they’d call that mob that Father Patrick brought over to teach you, us, a lesson. They would have strung us the nearest tree if they coulda. You know that. And why? For being naked?”

“For what we were doing.”

Clancy took Birk’s hand. “We were doing nothing, Birk. Nothing. But I was feeling something.” 

“To you maybe but to them it was something.”

“Exactly. I don’t want to live in fear for someone disapproving of the way I sneeze. Of who I want to be with. That’s what brought me back again. To get you to leave with me.”

“You had me convinced too.” Birk brushed the back of Clancy’s hand on his own chin. “But you know I can’t go now.”

“Fuk,” Clancy stood and let his chair fall over to the floor. “I knows that. I have to think about what to do, for me.”

“Millworks will be lookin’ for someone when I go.”

“Yeah.” Clancy gave a small laugh. “That isn’t what I had in mind.”

His mother came into the kitchen. “I see you done the dishes. That’s something I could never get Mac to do.” She picked up the chair that Clancy had knocked over. She sat in it with her elbows on the table and her head in her hand. “Sometimes I feel my age.”

“It hasn’t been easy,  Mrs. Mac.” Clancy said.

“So Clancy you back for good?” she asked.

“I can’t say Mrs. Mac. Birk and I was discussing that too. It’s not as if I’m kin to you or anyone else around here.”

“True. I’m trying to be practical about things, is all. I need to know what I can count on before making any decisions. I don’t want you and Birk disappearing one day.”

“Ma…” Birk started.

She held up her hand. “Birk I know you wants a life of yer own. Geo did too. That sure can’t happen here. I expected you to go with Geo when he went to Alberta. He offered to take you but Pa said it had to be your idea not something we planted in you.”

“You did?”

“Yer Pa and I talked about what was going to become of you. Then I got afraid that mick gal was trying to lure you off too. So I said things about her I didn’t mean. When she got set with O’Dowell I breathed easy again.”

“Ma! I was never one for her. I knew that from the first time met her.”

“I know, son, I know. But comes a time when we have to let our children look out for themselves.”

“This isn’t that time Ma.” Birk said looking to Clancy. 

“It is Birk. Isn’t it Clancy?” She looked to Clancy too. “You want Birk to take a chance on a bigger life with you?”

“I won’t deny it. I talked to him about it. There isn’t much more opportunity for him here than there is for me. You want him to die with a shovel in his hand the way Mac did?”

“We all die Clancy.” she half-laughed. “Don’t matter what we’re holding in our hands at the time.”

“Ma, I’m not going anywhere with Clancy.”

“Maddy and I can go live with my sister in Guysborough. There’s enough to do around their farm to keep us.”

“Aunt Dierdra? The one you curses under your breath anytime you get the opportunity.”

“The same.” she took a deep breath. “If’n you want to stay Clancy, we’d be happy to have you. Mac never got settled in that room of his upstairs so you can have it for yerself. You won’t ‘ave to bunk up with Birk at all.” 

“We all have a lot to think about.” Clancy got up from the table and went to the front door.

Birk followed him. “Clancy you know I can’t go now. Maybe the steel plant is my opportunity.”

“For you but not for me.”

He left Birk standing in the open doorway.

Birk sat in Mac’s armchair in the living room. Even though Mac had a bedroom for himself Mac still fell asleep in his old armchair. The chair wasn’t as comfortable as it looked when Mac sat in it. The curves and bumps were ones that had been created by Mac’s body over the years. Birk sat on the sofa and out his feet up on the low table in front of it.

This was his duty. Family. The adventure that Clancy offered had tempted him sorely. He was glad now that he didn’t have to make the decision to go or not. That he’d stay was plain to him. 

Lying on his bed he heard the backdoor open and someone come into the house. He pulled his coveralls on and went to the top of the stairs to listen. He heard nothing. He went half-way down the stairs and could see his mother asleep in Mac’s chair in the living-room. The street light softening her face with its yellow.

“Clancy!” he whispered.

“Shush.” Was the reply. “Who would it be?”

Clancy came to the bottom of the stairs holding his shoes.

They walked up the stairs.

“I didn’t think you’d come back.” Birk said.

“I had no choice.” He took Birk by the hand. “My heart is here.”

“I …” Without hesitation he pulled Clancy to him and kissed him. He didn’t want that kiss to end.

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The Haunting 

Today horror is equated with gore and photogenic stumps interacting with CGI. If the ‘entity’ isn’t shown readers, viewers are disappointed. This resulted in endless bad creature costumes (how hilarious is Mothra as a creature). All too often the ‘entity’ was more important than the actual story & dialogue. In so many horror films all that changed were the actors & the entity. The story & dialogue were basically the same.

A fact I didn’t realize until I was an adult. Some of those films, books, hold up, others well, haven’t dated so well. The original Frankenstein film hasn’t been improved upon with better effects, better monster make up. None of text have added any real depth to the film. The actual Shelly novel is as much a philosophical treatise as it is a thriller. The creature is more intellectual than allowed in most of the film variations.

I recently watched The Haunting – based on Shirley Jackson novel. I have seen this film several time but each time I see different elements. Also I watched it with a friend who has never seen it before. I also should add that I have read the novel more than once, read other work by Jackson & back in 1991 I directed a stage version – so I am familiar with it.

Horror, the supernatural, & to a degree gore, have been inspirations for me since I was a child. Having a cemetery, managed by my father, as a playground growing up certainly added to that interest. Oddly I never did become a goth. But I certainly loved monsters the Mummy, Wolfman, Dracula – these were the supernatural creatures. Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them, Godzilla – where environmental monsters thanks to toxic chemical, nuclear radiation.

The horror of The Haunting maybe man made: something that manifests from our personal inner turmoil, or from another’s inner turmoil seeking revenge, release, completion or to teach us a lesson as in A Christmas Carol. The Haunting sets the bar high & very few films have succeeded as it has. Jackson’s novel sketches in vague scientific speculation but leaves the rest up to us.

Later versions of movie parapsychology have added more equipment, better fx but no increase in the spook factor. I also find even Jackson relies too much on psychology to semi-explain things. Eleanor arrives already emotionally unbalance. The ambiguity of whether she looses touch with reality or has intact been absorbed by the spirits of the house is the spooky thrust of the story.

Without this film & this novel, we’d wouldn’t have an endless parade of novels about parapsychological investigators suffering for their research, or an endless parade of reality TV shows about parapsychologic investigators with bad hand-held cameras, whispering ‘did you hear that?’ in night vision lighting.
I would highly recommend both seeing the original The Haunting & reading Jackson’s novel ‘The Haunting Of Hill House.’ They complement each other. They also show how eerie chills can be created without monsters, cgi or dismemberment.

Maple Ridge Road

people told us

the abandoned Macintosh mansion

at the end of Maple Ridge Road

was haunted

but we didn’t believe them

so on the last full moon of October

Davey, Martin and me

we snuck into the house

and were never seen again

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
Thursday 7 – Hot Damn It’s Queer Slam! – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Out and About in Sydney, Cape Breton

Cape Breton sunrise

where I had great ice cream on the Sydney Boardwalk

stone stairs to nowhere in Sydney

the welcome feet of Sydney

stone in the Park/Brookland/Hospital Sts triangle

close up of the stone

stained glass in the CB Regional Library

CB highland dancers on Charlotte St.

https://wp.me/s1RtxU-diop


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“I danced for the Devil”

Does this sound familiar: rabid anti-gay rights activist caught making pass at a man in washroom – admits he is gay. The accuser being guilty of what he accuses others of – this is a part of the many layers of guilt in The Crucible. Guilty of one crime you are guilty of all crimes. Accusation = guilt. Being innocent doesn’t undo the stain of the accusation. The Crucible functions on many levels – the use of authority is more important that justice, the denial of guilt is really an admission of guilt.

My last theatre day trip to Stratford was to see Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. A play about witches in October – what a concept 🙂 The production was intense, riveting & the political allegory hasn’t dated a bit. Except these days many don’t care about guilt if the guilty are rich enough – a president can admit to ‘grabbing pussy’ (underage beauty contestants should be flattered he grabbed their privates) & is still in power. But I digress.

The simple set with side pieces of tall trees moves silently & easily to accommodate several locations. The ambient sound before the play starts create a a sense of forest. Once the plays starts with the ‘possessed’ child (nice nod here to ‘The Exorcist’) it moves with constant intent & mounting emotional & physical intensity.

The performances were strong for a cast who clearly enjoyed these characters, had dug deep into the text itself, & gave unexpectedly raw performances. Tim Campbell as John Proctor & Scott Wentworth as Reverend Parris gave amazing performances – perhaps the best I’ve seen by Scott Wentworth. I was drawn into the dense emotional mire both men were feeling on opposite sides of the conflict.

Shannon Taylor as Elizabeth Proctor was strong – her moment of ‘truth’ brought gasps from the audience. The tempted ‘girls’ lead by Katelyn McCulloch as Abigail Williams were given great dramatic moments of demonic possession. Katelyn was good but was more saucy than vengeful. They were women not girls or children, as they were referred to on the text.

I had seat in 4th row orchestra so had a very close view of the superb costumes plus I was impressed by the meticulous wig work. This is an excellent production, perhaps the best I’ve seen this season & one of the most compelling I’ve seen of stage in some time. Jonathan Goad’s direction brought performances that were deeply effective & made a challenging text engaging & challenging at the same time. 

“I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book.” Arthur Miller

other 2019 reviews:

Costume Warehouse Tour – Me? Caped Crusader https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3vQ

Henry VIII – ‘Abject Object’ https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3vW 

Our Father Issues  https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3CB

Cape Breton (Liberation Army) Day 7 https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Gj

Mae Brecht’s Sex https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3ND

Plant Food For Thought https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3Oo


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#Kazaky Crew

I couldn’t resist Ukrainian-based synthpop dance boyband Kazaky. I have mp3 collection that includes their: I Like It (Part 1); I Like It (Part 2); The Hills Chronicles. Their videos are campy, homoerotically charged works of transgressive art. They have more style than Lady Gaga ever dreamed of & dance moves to shame Beyonce. The songs are mostly high-energy, good for writing to, sonically dense. Lyrics are erotic, political without trying to – lets face it any Ukrainian band that embraces sexuality, of any kind, is making a political statement. I’m not sure why they are labelled a ‘boyband’? Is Tool a ‘boyband’? Anyway check out the videos & then download the music.

Also here – in my dedication to moving time eras & music styles of boybands are: The Chi-Lites: Original Brunswick Hit Recordings. Best remembered for Ooh Girl this is a soulful r’n’b music. Romantic sweet & great for making out. With a more disco beat is The Hues Corporation: Rockin’ Soul. You might remember them from Rock the Boat – pleasant predictable songs about dancing, music & love;. A step up the disco ladder is The Wonderland Band’s Wonder Woman – disco takes of themes music – mainly instrumental & slightly obscure. I take a break from disco with Megon McDonough: Music Inspired by the 4 Agreements. I read the book, I got the music 🙂 sensitive piano music & songs like ‘Your Word Is Your Wand’ that affirm the agreements. Also by way of departure is Kesha’s Rainbow. Modern music by an almost superstar exploring beyond dance music with some gospel, rock, ballad & even a touch of country. All done well. On a more old school soulful side are The Allergies: Push On. When I first heard them I though this was an early 70’s soul band but they are 2018 re-creators of that time era. Superb & well worth tracking down. Finally is Deepest Blue’s Late September – a return to old-school disco. Smooth, beautifully engineered, emotive songs about the power of music, lost loves & love.

God’s Plan

Mary talks cancer like a researcher. She knows more about cellular biology and mitosis than my own doctor does. I know that because I asked him on my last visit if he could help me understand. The blank look on his face told me all I needed to know – that I didn’t need to know any more than I did. 

Mary’s conversations dwelled almost entirely on cancer. The various friends, family members she knew. or had heard of, who had been stricken, could be stricken or had died recently. Everyone she knew what dying of something; that’s why I went to my doctor to make sure I was well, not undiagnosed. 

Mary would show me photos on her smart phone. Amazingly high-def looks inside cell clusters, diseased livers, lung tissue that had been over taken by the endless grasp of the killer. She would explain each one to me in a school-teacherly way, as if I needed to taught this lesson, as if I could find out form her how to avoid this.

Mary was sure there was no way to avoid it, but she wanted to be prepared. Cancer agents were in everything. The food we ate, the air we breathed, the shoes we wore. I didn’t know how to tell her that I didn’t really give a shit about all this. ‘If cancer is everywhere it must be part of God’s plan.’ I told her once. She did not find that funny.

Mary had no plan of escape. She had armed herself with all this knowledge. How to keep her own cells healthy with carrot juice, kiwi oil. she sanitized her hands after every touch of anything. Clean clean clean. That was part of her solution. Keep very clean. ‘So clean you don’t build up resistance to anything.’ I once observed. She didn’t find that funny.

Mary was sure my attitude would kill me sooner than hers would kill her. She was healthy. Always on guard against the constant onslaught of danger.

Mary couldn’t see me anymore. She would phone, she would send me the latest info, and internet sites to check out, on what I needed to know to be as safe as she was. But she couldn’t see anyone, didn’t t want to spend time in close proximity to people, to the things people touched, people were disease factories. 

Mary only felt safe from cancer in her home where she could control everything. She got rid of as much plastic as possible, filtered her water. Her cancer free haven. She had the statics to show she was doing the right things. She would out live the cockroach with all her precautions. She had reduced her risks to under 1%, she had added years to her life with all this careful protection. 

I asked her ‘Who wants to live that long if that’s how one has to live to stay alive?’ She didn’t find that funny.. Humour causes cancer.

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
Thursday 7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Psycho Zombies

Psycho Zombies in the Rain

it was raining ballerinas

you know

rain so heavy

each drop created a splash tutu

as it landed

on its one toe

to join the corps du puddle

a literal rain dance

 

wet ragged gene-mutated zombie

staggering down the street

skin stinking in the rain

crumbling for the lure of brains

grabs a light pole

flings aimless decaying arm

drops into the gutter

eyes washed but not cleaned

lightening strikes

the unlucky char

washed down the sewer drain

 

the rain not a sheet but a curtain

a shower curtain

lightening cuts through it

an electrified knife

stab stab after stab

screams drowned out by the rain

rain so heavy

we can’t see across the street

can’t see 

through the car window

wiper blades not cutting it

smearing rain like blood

on a steamy bathroom tile

There was a flurry of mash-up horror movies & books ie: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies; Abe Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. I have a friend who does a piece about Hollywood adding zombies to anything to make it more commercial. Try it by adding Zombie to any movie title: Beach Party Zombie Bingo – Zombie on A Hot Tin Roof – Three Zombies Outside Ebbing, Missouri – actually these three sound pretty interesting 🙂

The title of this piece is clearly a reference to Singing in the Rain. In particular the rain sequence with non-mutated Gene Kelly splashing in puddles, swinging from a lamp pole  at one point. Not that zombies are ever agile enough to dance & I’m not sure how they cope with rain either – being rotting corpses after all. The rules for zombies morphs from movie to movie. I’m not sure how long they live if they don’t eat brains.

As Kelly swings on the lamp the camera picks up on his huge eyes full of hope & love. Eyes so clear that have to be a special effect 🙂 I can see this moment so vividly. I imagine it as a limited edition lamp hmmm – get the Franklin Mint on the line. ‘unlucky char’ echoes one of the songs from the movie: lucky star.

The Psycho of the title comes from the sheets of rain which naturally bring to mind a couple of scenes in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Janet Leigh driving in the rain mashed up with her shower scene unprepared for the rain of stabbing. She’s not singing in the shower.

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Space Scum

Space Scum

he opted not to say anything

no one would believe him anyway

he didn’t believe his own eyes

when he saw

the creeping scum from outer space

dissolve his dog

his parents

now it was oozing

into the city sewers

 

he knew if he told the police

he would be blamed

for the houses

the slime comet destroyed

blamed for the ruins

of the school

the church

for the shattered scattered bones

of his high-school bully

none of that was his fault

it wasn’t him

this time

really

 

so let the space slime

bubble up in their toilets

dissolve their sorry asses

he’d keep his mouth shut

even if it killed him

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Chapter LXVII: Lillian Gets A Surprise

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LXVII

Lillian

Gets A

Surprise

The Saturday of the unveiling was a windy overcast day. Rain threatened but never happened. Steven had been buried in the family plot at Hardwood Hill Cemetery. The bagpipes could be heard as she and Clara walked up the path to the family plot.

“Mama was a Presbyterian you know, and never converted, so when they wouldn’t bury her on Catholic soil our father didn’t want to be buried anywhere but her side. I know Steven felt the same way.” Clara leaned on Lillian for support.

There were several others already at the site. The Nova Scotia flag covered the small stone monument. It bellowed in the breeze.

“Good day Miss O’Dowell, Miss McTavish, I mean, Mrs. O’Dowell.” The custodian greeted them.

“Thank you Mr. Crookshank.” Clara shook his hand and nodded to other men there.

“He will be sorely missed.” Gus shook both their hands.

They stood in the wind for a moment listening the the piper. Clara signalled for him to stop.

“Lillian would you give me a hand?” Clara indicated to Lillian to stand opposite her by the grave stone. 

Once Lillian had taken the edge of the flag in her hand Clara leaned and undid the string that was holding it. They lifted it together and Lillian, expecting Clara to hold it, let go of her side once it was clear. Clara let go of her’s at the same time and the flag was blown away by the breeze to get stuck in upper branches of a near by oak tree.

“Oh my!” Lillian said and started to get it.

“Leave it for now, dear.” Clara said putting an arm around Lillian’s shoulder.

The monument was pink-grey marble column, the top edge had an inlay of black onyx carved to look like lumps of coal. It was topped with miner’s lamp made of brass. 

Clara read the inscription, “ ‘Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends. John xv:13’ ” Then she began to weep. The bagpiper began to play.

Lillian squeezed Clara’s hand and they walked down the path. Followed by the others and the bagpiper.

 

The silence back at the O’Dowell house was a relief to Lillian. She’d said all she had to say and longed to be on her way. It was worse than those last days at school before summer vacation. Clara had taken to her room and Lillian brought up a supper tray for her.

“Lillian you must understand how hard this is for me. To lose Steven and now to lose you so soon after.” she patted Lillian’s hand. “I know I’m beginning to sound same as an hysterical old woman but …”

“I will be back Clara.” Lillian hoped she sounded reassuring.

“Yes, but not till Christmas. Oh, do see if you can take some time to visit while you are at college.”

“Yes, yes.” Lillian said. “Once I know what my classes are and what work I’ll have before me I’ll know what time I have to spare.”

“This house has been so empty without you or Steven to share it with.”

“You’ll get used it so quickly you won’t want any intruders other than a cat or two.”

She went down to the kitchen

“Don’t awaken Miss Clara, Aileen.” she said. “I think it best if I slip away with less fuss than I arrived.”

“Yes miss. Am I to send the things in your room along to you?”

“No. They’ll be there for me when I return. Knowing my favorite blue shoes are here is sure to bring me back. I’d like you to have these.”

She gave Aileen the pair of stocking she had bought for the wedding. One less memento of a time she hoped to forget. 

 

She planned to leave Monday morning. Being here had become unbearable for her now that her escape from the island was assured. 

“I can’t quite believe you are going.” Mrs. Franklin said as they waited on the boarding house porch for the cab to take Lillian’s luggage to the train station.

“I am so grateful for everything you’ve done for me Rose.”

“Thank you, Lillian, you’ve been a joy to … “ she began to tear up.

“I’d like you to have this.”

“Oh  …” Mrs. Franklin pulled the tissue paper off what turns out to be an ornate carved ivory fan. “It is beautiful. The roses look so real.”

“I realize it isn’t that practical. Much like me, I suppose, I was brought up to be pretty but not practical. Life here has taught me to be practical.

“It was a gift from my father. He bought it for me on one his trips to the continent. I don’t want to have too many impractical memories.”

The cab pulled up. Once her luggage was safe at the train station she had the driver take her to the cemetery. She had given herself time to go back Steven’s grave. The day was sunny but the wind was strong around the grave.

As she knelt the wind pulled off her hat and her hair came loose. She laughed to herself thinking that Steven always did appreciate her hair.

“Steven,” she said softly, “forgive me for what I am doing. Even if you had lived I would never have been content here on this rock with you. Never.” 

“Lillian?” a man’s voice came from behind her. “Lillian McTavish!” The man repeated louder.

She stood, shivering, and turned around. The sun was in her eyes.

“Steven!” Had she brought him back to life? 

“It is you, Lillian! I thought it was a ghost.” He took her in his arms. She tried to push him away. 

“David Henderson? No, it can’t be. It can’t be.” She stumbled back away from him.

“It is.”

“How? Why?”

“When news of your death reached me in India I was devastated. I had hoped to return to Boston one day to be with you. I should never have let my family pressure me into leaving you. Never. It was torment I shall never want to experience again.

“I could hardly sit through the memorial service your uncle conducted in Boston. It wasn’t right to me. I had to see your grave to … be near you one last time.” Tears streaked his face. “To find you alive! How is that possible.”

“My uncle was … mistaken.” Lillian stared hard at David. He looked much she remembered. Older and less naive.

“He said at the memorial that you had been interred here with the other flu victims. I now see why the custodian was so puzzled when I asked about Lillian McTavish’s resting place earlier. He said that if you were here today it might be up here at the O’Dowell plot.”

A nearby church rang eleven.

“I … don’t know what to say David.”

“Tell me that my affections might still be returned.”

She started to walk down to the street. “Much had happened in the past year David. I can’t say what my affections are for anyone.”

“I understand that Lillian. I do honestly.” he stopped her and took both of her hands in his. “We can become reacquainted.”

He let go of her hands, put his around his waist pulled to him and kissed her. 

The wind wrapped her hair around them for a moment. They broke free and she quickly plated her hair and secured it under her hat. Was this Steven’s answer to her prayer for forgiveness?

“David I’ll be direct.”

“As you always were.”

They got into the cab that she had waiting for her. “Train station please.” Lillian said.

“I’m staying the The Royal.” David said.

“That may be, but my train leaves at noon. I intend to be on it.” Lillian’s thoughts were reeling with this unexpected, undreamed of event. Regardless of it she was determined to leave. “I can’t make any decision or plans as long as I am here.”

“I know that Lillian, but please hear me out. After my father’s death I inherited the firm and have increased its holdings in India considerably. When I first met you I was a young man with possibilities, now I am man of property.”

“I can see that. I presume you know that I was compromised by James Dunham.” She saw no reason to hold anything back from David.

“Compromised?”

“Yes. Do I have to explain that for you? That’s why I ended up here. I had a child by him. It was still born.”
“Lillian,” he clutched her hand and brought it to his lips.

“Do you still want to be become reacquainted with me?”

“How could you doubt it?” He said softly.

“You are free to come with me. I am not promising anything.”

“Yes. yes. Thank you. Drop me at the Royal and then take Miss McTavish to the train station.” The cab pulled up at the Royal. He jumped out. “It won’t take me long to pack my things and I’ll meet you at the station.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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Story Bundle On My Kindle

I have a raft of Story Bundle offerings on my Kindle. In the past I’ve had their annual lgbtqia selections. I also pick up their world scifi collections & currently am working through this bookshelf:

Cannibal Chef – Cassandra Khaw

Priome Meridian: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Secret History of Moscow – Ekaterina Sedia

The Apex Book of World SF 3/4/5

The Vanishing Kind – Lavie Tidhar

Under the pendulum Sun – Jeanette Ng

The Thousand Year Black – TOBI Hirotaka

Slipping – Lauren Brukes

Nexhuman – Francesco Verso

Falling in Love With Hominids – Nalo Hopkinson

Escape From Bagdad! – Saad Z. Hossain

After the Falre – Deji Bryce Olukotun

AfroSF v3

I enjoy these looks at the future from writers outside the ciswhite heterosex context. I have read the first two volumes of The Apex Books & loved them. 

Also waiting to be read are: Dune Messiah: Frank Herbert; Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant – Melissa Scott – this is the 3rd in this series that I first came across in a Story Bundle of lgbtqia scifi. Star: Yukio Mishima – Mishima is an inspiration to me. I saw this on the shelf at a book store & checked on Amazon & downloaded a copy. Too bad there isn’t away to do that as an in-store download purchase or I would have done it there.

Psychedelic-40 – Louis Charbonneau; Sexperiment – Clyde Allison – I stumbled on these thanks a Tumblr feed of pulp scifi feeds. The covers were enough to make me want to read these plus those titles are fantastic. I can’t wait to read them. 

Looming Low Volume I; Dig Two Graves: Anthology Vol. II; Anathema: Issue 8. Looming & Dig feature stories by my niece Betty Rocksteady (she writes nightmares 🙂 ) Gory with a helping of sexuality & insects. Anathema is a Canadian spec fiction magazine that is strongly lgbtqia. I’ve been a subscriber from issue 1. Excellent stories minimal gore.

Recent additions are Valley Of The Dolls: 50th Anniversary Edition – Jacqueline Susann. Susann is another of my literary inspirations – this book in particular with its mix of soap opera, wish fulfilment, showbiz & sex. I’ve read it several times & my paperback is showing signs of age. Deep Work – Cal Newport: a self-help book! A friend of mine read it & it pushed him to remove diversions from his life so he can focus on productivity or at least on things that move him forward. The Internet is full of fake-productivity time-wasters like Facebook, twitter, linked in, etc. 

Most recent addition is What happens on tour, stays on tour by Kevin Paterson. I ‘met’ Kevin online via WordPress. This is the fourth ebook book of his I’ve downloaded. Yes I did read the others & quite enjoyed them so I’m looking forward to this one. 

The Witch

the witch that is my name

cartwheels over the city

clowns around when there is nothing

here to laugh at

when there are only tears to spill

to dampen the grave dust grace

of lost stars and missed chances

 

you aren’t the only one

needing to be charmed back to wetness

not the only one who had lost his day

in the night of frustrations and distrust

not the only one who thinks

the witch that is my name

can do more that any one name

can possibly do

besides

you don’t believe in fairy tale stuff

there are no happy blending

no shuffled coils

that can ever lead you back

to the safety of the tomb

 

the witch that is my name

cannot remove the pain

that creeps into your bones

that leaves you feeling

like a ghost without a skin

cannot move you along this path

any farther than you are now

but will not sit around with you either

there are floors to be swept

things to be undone

 

the witch that is my name

flies around blind alleys

with the same discomfort as any other

lost hankering figment

the blood in my veins hurts for you

takes me where I least expect to be

and leaves me the word

the unutterable word

that cannot help anyone

that cannot bring comfort to anyone

but me

cannot replace your skin

cannot take your place

 

the witch that is my name

has been divested of all power

except the power you give yourself

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every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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Nuit Blanche Danforth Style

For the first time my local stretch of the Danforth – from Greenwood to Coxwell – participated in Nuit Blanche. There was nothing between Greenwood & Linnsmore. In fact there was no Blanche on the southside of Danforth until one got to the Roberston Parkette where there was a long set of tables for an early scrabble game.

The bulk of the action was along the north side – with musicians, window displays & lots of people taking photographs.

Scrabble in the wild

Make Love Not War

Red Rocket window – I liked the way the actual cafe lighting became a part of the piece

Masks on the wall outside the Linnsmore Tavern

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