Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Listening in

Writing in a coffee shop, listening to others is my new entertainment. The cops to my right are pissed. You have to listen closely; they probably went to a class called “How to control yourself in public and keep your name out of the paper.” The young couple two tables away is somewhere between getting engaged and breaking up. Bet the outcome depends on who wins this argument. The cafĂ© owner is on the phone, jawing about the outrageous price she pays for coffee.

Eavesdropping is fun, until I notice that the guy behind me is reading this over my shoulder.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It was a joke

Two thousand high school kids and assorted staff members mill around the lawn in mid-day heat. Flashing lights circle from the tops of trucks, bouncing off every available surface. Firefighters race in and out of the building. Administrators huddle in deep conversation.

Whispered rumors spread through the crowd. “…by the cafeteria...” “…started in a locker.” “…flames crawled out of the vents and ignited the wall…” “about twenty-five kids still missing…” “…they’re talking arson, probably by students…”

I hunch my shoulders, circle with my friends. “Geez, guys, it was supposed to be a smoke bomb, a joke. Whose idiot idea was this?”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

His Everything

Small town kids, met at church, high school sweethearts. Their first kiss was the first for both. Married young. He was drafted, thankfully, after the war. Away two years. Kids followed and filled the years. The empty nest was an adjustment, but they were committed. Anniversaries passed; soon fifty years were behind them. They felt blessed to miss the unending illness that friends encountered. Early Easter morning, he heard her cough and gasp as her body jerked. He forced himself awake, knowing she was gone. He said she was his everything after the service.

By Christmas, he’d met and married Beth.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Grandma’s Message

Everything at my grandma’s house had a dingy piece of tape with a name on it. Said we’d get it when she died. Changing the tape became a game. Who wanted a picture of dead relatives when a quick switch could get you the TV or stereo? Grandma got sick and the switching intensified. After the service, us kids were at her house eating chicken, avoiding the great aunts and their boring stories. I slipped into the den to see if I had the TV. Found the tape and it said, “I’m tired of your games, figure it out. Love, Grandma.”