Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There's No Crying In Baseball

Bill checked his wallet for the opening day tickets. There were only two this year; for the last eight years it had been the three of them in the stands, the Three Amigos, three generations sharing America's past time. Bill's dad had passed away a week into the new year. He and his dad had season tickets since the time Bill was seven, went to every game, no matter the weather. Once Bill had sat through a double header with a 101.05 degree fever. Opening day had been a tradition.

His daughter Mary walked in, her team jersey over a pair of torn jeans, a baseball cap covering her multi-colored spiked hair. A worn glove was tucked under her arm. She smiled warmly at him.

"Ready to go, Daddio?"

Bill laughed; his dad always used to say that. He put his wallet away and grabbed his keys as the two of them made their way to the car.

They left the car at the station and hopped the train into the city. There were a few other die hard fans on the train, kids skipping school, grown ups taking a vacation day from work. They got to the stop and walked three blocks to the stadium. People were swarming all over the place; fans, vendors hawking the riches of the game. Programs, pennants, large foam gloves with "We're Number One" printed on it. Part of the ritual for opening day was Mary trying her persuasive best to get her dad to buy her an over priced souvenir. Usually Bill's dad would buy it for her. It wasn't quite the same when Bill forked over the twenty dollars for the team mascot key ring.

They walked into the stadium, and went up to their section, where the next part of the ritual took place. Standing in line at the concession stand, waiting to buy an exorbitantly priced hot dog, hot pretzel, and beer for him, soda for her. This would have been the part where Bill's dad would start to reminisce about how when he and Billy came to the game when Billy was Mary's age, it would only cost him ten bucks to feed the two of them. They got their food and made their way to their seats. It had always been Bill, his dad, then Mary. Bill and Mary bumped elbows as they got comfortable. They sat in silence, eating their red hots, mustard dripping onto their pants.

Suddenly the crowd erupted in a loud roar as the home team took the field to warm up. Bill and Mary watched intently, making comments about the prospects for this player's season, whether the pitching staff would bring them to post season. That was the beauty of opening day; the whole season lay ahead of you. Anything was possible.

Finally the teams were introduced, and the stadium announcer spoke solemnly, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for our National Anthem". Bill and Mary stood, their hats over the hearts. A soft sob escaped from Mary's throat.

"Pop-Pop should be here."

Bill put his arm around his daughter's shoulders as he struggled with the lump in his throat. There's no crying in baseball.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Lost Souls

Conjoined twins are always identical; I gaze at the fetal skeleton, two tiny skulls sitting on top of one perfect little body. Poor little babies! Were they still born? Did some unscrupulous doctor murder them at birth in order to sell them as a medical specimen? Did their mother get to hold them before they were taken away from her? What were her thoughts as she beheld her children? Did she believe she'd been cursed by an angry god for some unknown offense? Was she repulsed? Did she bother to give them names? Did she grieve, or breathe a sigh of relief that there were two less mouths to feed?

So many questions swarm through my head. I had come to the medical museum to distract myself from my own problems, but all I could do was worry about the exhibits. Why couldn't they make plasticine casts of the bones, and give these poor people a decent burial? Were they poor cast offs from polite society? People of color? I was fascinated and ashamed of my fascination all at the same time. I gaze at the black empty sockets. The eyes are the window to the soul; were there dual souls residing within those bodies? Were they in a better place,or were they floating around somewhere, angry displaced pieces of light waiting to be released?

My head begins to hurt; the air in the museum begins to feel hot and thin. I put my coat on and go outside. It's damp and misting; I pull my collar up and shove my hands deep into my pockets. I start to hurry home, then slow down as I remember the fight we'd had that morning. Angry, cruel words volley back and forth like missiles over the trenches. I'm beginning to think that we're at a place we can't get back from.

I get to our place, hesitating slightly before putting my key in the door. I walk into a dark apartment; there's candle light coming from our bedroom. I take off my coat and stand stupidly by the closet. My curiosity gets the better of me, and I slowly make my way towards the door. Lit candles ring the room; you're lying in bed, seductively posing against the pillows, the sheet strategically placed. I lean against the door frame as you smile at me.

"I called your cell, but you didn't pick up."

I start to tap the top of my shoe on the floor, my arms crossing across my chest.

"I left work early. I needed time to think."

"I'm sorry about this morning. What do you say we kiss and make up?"

I drop my eyes towards the floor. I don't feel like making up. God, you're always so smug, always so convinced of your ability to make me acquiesce to you! I turn and kick the door frame, banging my head against the wood.

"I have a head ache, I'm not in the mood."

You get up from the bed and stand before me, naked as the day you were born, your buff body glowing in the candle light. Most women would be thrilled to have a Norse God for a boyfriend, but all I can think of at this moment are those bodies in the museum, alone, unwanted. Why didn't anyone care enough about them to give them a decent funeral? How could a mother not love her children enough to make sure they would rest in peace? How could she not want to visit their grave? Tears began to slip down my cheeks as sobs steal my breath. You cradle my head and pull me closer to you.

"Don't cry baby, I didn't mean what I said this morning. You just took me by surprise when you said you were pregnant. I want the baby, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. The three of us."

I raise my head and look into your eyes. It's like looking into two black orbs. Like looking into a soulless skull.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bring Back The Snakes!

Maggie pulled the Irish soda bread out of the oven, wishing she had more time to let it cool, but they should have left fifteen minutes ago for the ceilidh. She looked at the other foods she'd made during the day; the traditional corn beef and cabbage, and a vegan colcannon made with seitan instead of salt pork, and vegan beef stew, again with seitan instead of beef. Her grandmother would have had a stroke; vegan beef stew! Well, it was the 21st century, we haven't just come off the boats. She began to pack up her food stuffs, pausing to call up the stairs.

"Let's go you lot! We're going to be late!"

She could hear her husband Michael knocking on their older daughter Maeve's bedroom door, then the subsequent clash between generations. Michael had certainly mellowed since their dating days, but there were times when he'd dig his heels in. The voices grew louder upstairs as her younger daughter, Colleen, appeared in the kitchen doorway. She was dressed in a traditional Irish step dancing costume, a long sleeved, green velvet dress. Ornate gold embroidery decorated the stiff pleated skirt. Colleen tugged at her large, curly wig.

"It itches."

"I know. You can take it off after the show."

Suddenly the sound of a door slamming made them both jump. Heavy foot steps coming down the stairs were punctuated by mild cursing. Michael appeared in the kitchen, his face red. His Black Watch kilt displayed a fine set of legs; Maggie always felt a sense of pride of ownership whenever he wore it.

"What's the problem, dearest?"

Michael took two deep breathes to steady himself.

"She won't wear green. She says she won't support an institution as morally bankrupt and corrupt as the Catholic Church."

Maggie shook her head; as much as she admired Maeve's convictions there were times when she was just as stubborn as her father.

"What does she want to wear?"

Michael rolled his eyes and sat down at the counter.

"She wants to wear white. She says she wants to acknowledge her pagan roots. And she wants to wear a stuffed snake around her neck. What will people think when we walk into the Hibernian club?"

"They'll probably be relieved she didn't wear orange."

Michael's eyes flared again.

"Over my dead body!"

Maggie and Colleen both rolled their eyes. Honestly, he could be so emotional sometimes.

The three sat together in silence, waiting for the arrival of Herself. Colleen gave her father an appraising look at his attire.

"Da, why are you wearing a kilt? They're Scottish; it's St. Patrick's day."

"Well, I'm Scotch-Irish. My Gran was from Kilkenny and my Granddad was from Aberdeen."

"So you're not full Irish."

"No, only half."

Maeve sighed dramatically, putting her head in her hands, calling out in her best brogue.

"Oh the shame. In me own family. What will they say at the Hibernian?"

Maggie began to laugh as Micheal looked stunned, then grabbed his youngest and began to tickle her. She squealed in delight, breaking away as her sister appeared. Maeve was dressed in a white shroud like dress, her long hair lose, a toy snake wrapped around her wrist. Colleen wrapped her arms around her sister's waist.

"Save me Maeve, save me from the mud blood."

Maeve shot her father a sulky look. The two of them stood facing each other, ready to lock horns again. Maggie threw her hands up in exasperation.

"By the Cross of Christ, enough you two! I didn't spend all day cooking to have my food ruined by your shenanigans. Now help me bring this stuff to the car so we can leave!"

The three of them looked at Maggie as if she had snakes coming out of her ears.
They put on their coats, grabbed a dish, and silently made their way to the car. Once the girls were out of ear shot Michael turned to his wife.

"Honestly, love, such language. It's a Holy Day of Obligation. Mind your manners."

He felt a cold breeze on his naked ass as Maggie lifted his kilt and gave him a quick what for.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


"Laissez les bon temps rouler,cher."

He lifted his glass of bourbon, squinting in the morning light. She was sweeping up the mess, beads and streamers, King Cake and confetti clumped together, the scent of beer and alcohol rising from the floor. She shot him a sideways glance, smiling slightly at his attempt at chivalry. She enjoyed having him around, liked to tease him with a slightly inappropriate remark, or by pressing her body ever so slightly into his. She liked the way he tried to pretend he wasn't interested, even though she knew from the way he pressed back as his open mouth followed the curve of her neck, that he was.

"You know, you could put that glass down and give me a hand with this. I want to get my ashes this morning."

He dropped the empty glass on the table, stretching his legs out on another chair.

"Ashes? Why do you still buy into that, Cher?"

She shrugged her shoulders and pushed back a stray strand of hair with a dainty gesture.

"Gotta believe in something. It helps get me through the lonely nights."

She looked over and smiled at him, a tantalizing invitation. He squeezed his legs together, enjoying the sensation, enjoying the view as she turned her back to him and bent over to scoop up the debris into a pan. He pulled himself to his feet, groaning slightly as he weaved unsteadily, never taking his eyes off her. He loomed over her, letting his hand press against the small of her back to catch his balance. He eased his hand down towards her ample bottom, caressing it with the reverence of a pilgrim before a saint. She began to shiver, loosing her grip on the pan and dropping it with a loud clatter. She cursed under her breath and bent to retrieve it; he pulled her upright and scooped her up into his arms, making his way towards the stairs. She sighed and laughed in exasperation.

"What are you doin', darlin'? I told you I want to get out of here and get my ashes."

He walked purposefully towards her room as a voice began to sing a haunting refrain outside, it's melancholy tune curling through the early morning air.

"Get 'em later. You might as well have something worth while to give up this Lent."

She began to laugh as she buried her head into his neck.

"What makes you think I can give you up, you wicked sinner?"

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I have to buy flowers, he says.
For me, I ask?
A sheepish laugh from the other end of the phone; No, for someone else.

I guess he's not my little boy anymore.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Affinity for Sweets

"Did I mention I'm getting married?"

Not something one usually hears post coitus. Married? Funny, usually when you're sleeping with someone and the word married comes up, you're one of the participants. I'm trying to decide if I'm hurt, angry or stunned. All three, I guess. I pull myself up and straddle your naked body, trying to decide if this is some sort of perverse joke. Your gaze refuses to meet mine; not a good sign.

"Is this some sort of strange proposal? Because, quite frankly, it's not very romantic."

You continue to avert your gaze as a heavy sigh escapes from your body. Clumsily you grab my hands with yours; your voice has a far away quality to it.

"It's not what you think. I don't love her, but she is pregnant, and it is mine, so I have to do the right thing. I thought maybe I'd just be involved with raising the baby, without making the commitment, but I don't think that's the right thing to do."

You turn to look at me; I keep staring at you, waiting for you to smile and start giggling at my gullibility. She's pregnant, it's yours? We've been sleeping together for almost a year now, when did you find time to have sex with someone else? New emotions begin to appear; pain, grief, abandonment. I start to fidget, try to pull my hands out of yours. You push yourself up to a sitting position and wrap your arms around me. I feel your breath on my face as you bury your head in my hair.

"It won't change any thing between us. I love you, that will never change. We can still be together. It's just one of those little idiosyncrasies you put up with when you love someone, when you're part of a couple. Like an affinity for sweets."

Are you kidding me? You having sex with another woman, having a baby with another woman, marrying another woman, is not on the same level as having a constant craving for sugary treats. I want to cry, want to scream, want to punch your face in. I can feel your hands on me, hear your words in my ears, but nothing seems to reach me. Oh God, I think I'm going to be sick. Which is something that has been happening a lot the last few mornings.

My body begins to shake as the tears finally appear. I begin to pull at your hair and bite at your neck as you start to rock me back and forth, whispering words of comfort.

"We'll be ok, I promise. Don't cry. I love you. You said you had something to tell me. What is it, darling?"