Sunday, April 8, 2018

Jesus in the Grass

Dad died in October. I may have mentioned this. My four year old took the news pretty well, and I first thought it was just a failure on my part in explaining death to her. I feel like she does understand that PawPaw isn't coming back but I don't think it's any of my explaining that did the trick. If anything, I'm sure I just made it all the more complicated by dancing around it and salting it with Christian lore and culturally acceptable pap. But she had no qualms with it, just a detail to remember when planning dinner: Mommy will be there, and Daddy, and my sister, and Grandmom, and aunt Joo-Loo, but not PawPaw, he died.
It's probably because I'm not sure myself what happens when our ticket is punched and I don't really want to count anything out. Heaven sounds great...but I can't stand the thought of going to church now, so I'm not sure I'd want to hang out in the Gardens with what I assume would be church-going folk. Hell sounds bad, for sure. But, I'm not really afraid of it. I'm not a Saint, and I don't think I deserve the corner office in the Kingdom, but Hell? Come on.
I wrestle with what to tell my daughter because I feel like what I tell her about my beliefs, or lack thereof, will have greater implications in the future. I want her to believe her own thing and not to find out I was so wrong about all of it. Which is counter-intuitive considering I have no trouble writing her notes from the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny, or making a mess in her room and telling her the Skull Lilly Pirates did it. She'll find out soon enough, as her sister did, why it seemed strange that all those characters had the same handwriting, despite the writer's best efforts to disguise it. And the heart of it all may be something I just realized while writing this. Would I ever write them a note from God? No.
But, sometimes I'm cornered into a question. The other morning on the way to daycare my daughter says to me, "Is PawPaw still in the grass?" Which, I suppose is a little nicer than her usual declaratory "PawPaw's in the dirt."
"Yes, baby, he's still there."
"Is Jesus in the grass?" the unforeseen natural progression.
"Yes, baby," I said, looking at her in the rear view mirror.
"Is the dirt Heaven?"
Well. and then I said, "Well." I could rattle off all day the worth of incisors and molars at the Star Bazaar, or how Rance Red saved Tin Rood Sulley from a cat during one of his pirate adventures, but I was stuttering on the bit about Heaven and God and the afterlife.
"Honey, PawPaw is in Heaven with Jesus, and that's all...above us. It's just Dad's body in the dirt, that stays here. But his soul is up in Heaven and your soul is what makes you you."
"Oh. Ok," she relinquished.
That seemed to have put to rest any more questions she had about the subject for a while. Then, yesterday, "I don't want to die because when you die your body breaks apart and it will hurt." These non sequitors of hers are going to keep me hopping for quite  while, I'm sure.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tonight I asked Adver to bring me a pizza. His exact response was: I don't think I have the supplies to make that trip...not with the dead zone, and all those mutant bears in the way. Much less with a Pizza.

Which is just as well. If Adver had agreed to bring me a pizza I would have just assumed he was really coming to kill me. But now I'm thinking Would he have let me eat the pizza first? I'm thinking he would.

I'm also thinking about the mutant bears. In my mind their coat has a purple sheen to it, in the moonlight. Or maybe that's just how they look in the dead zone. Maybe it just looks like perpetual night in the dead zone? No, I wouldn't think so. I think the dead zone has a dirt road and it just feels real still and gray, like it is before a storm. Maybe it's a place out of time? I'm not sure a place like that needs to exist for our purposes. But, if there's a need for it, who would need it? Some agents from VChicago? I'm not sure what for? It seems like Everett and Forester would have needed something like that at some point and maybe did use a place like that.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Lock the Door

"Are you here to blubber about people forgetting your birthday?"
"No," Dorge responded, somewhat sulkily.
"What'cha got there, another list?"
"This is clearly a skull. This is not a list."
The half-orc frowned and squinted at the skull, "Why did you write a name on it, then?"
Dorge sighed and set the skull on the table next to his keys, "I wrote 'JUMP' on it, that isn't a name here. It's not a name where you're from, either," and then Dorge told him what it meant in Common.
"I had a name once, but you for-"
"That was a long time ago," Dorge cut him off, "What are you doing here, anyways? You still have a key?"
Half-Orc looked like he winced at that, but he was so horribly disfigured by the fire it was hard to get a read on a lot of his expressions. "I do still have a key, yes. But you didn't lock the door. So I was just waiting for you."
"Well, I'm here," Dorge said and toed off his shoes. He was a little irritated that Half-Orc hadn't removed his boots with God-Knows on them, but. Choose your battles, he decided.
"I'm just checking on you. You're writing stupid."
"Writing stupid?" Dorge parroted, shrugging off his coat.
Half-Orc nodded and shifted in his seat, "Writing about who came to what and all this. That's your mother talking," then blew a snot rocket onto the floor.
"Jesus! Seriously? You're not outside! That's not a thing, people don't do that."
Half-Orc considered, then asked if there was coffee made.

It didn't occur to Dorge until later to ask how long Half-Orc would be staying. He was surprised he had been there this long. He didn't mind it so much except that he hadn't been expecting anyone and catching up on chores while someone who fundamentally didn't understand them could be a little exasperating. He briefly considered putting out a scented candle but thought the benefits of such would not out weigh the barrage of badgering questions it would invoke and decided against it. He zipped his pointer and middle down the crease of his towels while wondering what word he would write on Half-Orc's skull.

Everyone knew that writing names was too dangerous. Incantations were one thing, summoning was a whole other ball game.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Something Sharp

They sat on the rooftop in folding chairs watching the city burn. The fire was over, now it was thick pillars of black smoke holding up the late afternoon sky. Adver was hunched over, his chin on the bridge of his arms, inscrutable. Dorge leaning back, ankles crossed, watching he smoke undulate, smelling the carnage. Somewhere below a car alarm protested twice, three times, then stopped.
"Do you still keep that list of people that didn't come to your dad's wake?" Adver asked, tilting back to Dorge.
"No, good lord," Dorge said.
Then Why is Your Jaw Clenched is what Adver did not say.
Things had not gone the way Dorge thought they would and he felt cheated. When his dad died two months ago, there was supposed to be Dorge out on his knees in the pelting rain and crying into the mute, thunderous heavens, grabbing fistfuls of wet earth. Later there would be a procession that would rival a Roman Emperor's, and probably the United States Air Force would do a flyover, screaming raptors against an eye-hurting blue sky. It was not like that.
Dorge uncrossed his ankles and brushed some of the dust and grit off his thighs, it seemed as if he were getting ready to stand, but then did not.
"All this ruin," Adver sighed.
"Is this where we belong?" Dorge asked, looking at Adver.
A shrug in response, "It's where we are."
"Were we fighting?" Dorge closed his eyes, "I'm glad you're here, either way."
"No. Not this time."
Adver would not ask how long they would be there, did not mention he hadn't eaten since breakfast, did not play with his phone, did not make long whistling sighs, did not bounce his heels. Dorge hoped he could be for Adver what Adver was to him, but knew he fell short on a lot of it.
Below them a building finally tilted far enough to come crumbling down, sending up a fresh gout of sandy gray dust. There was a piano in the heap, the sound of it had opened Dorge's eyes and he stared at it until it was obscured in the miasma of destruction. He remembered something then.
"National Geographic says Nero didn't play a fiddle while Rome burned."
Adver stretched his neck, "So, do you want me to fetch you a fiddle, or something, Caesar?"
Dorge choked on his laughter and tears pinched into his eyes, his throat raw and burning from the smoke and dust, "Yes! Ass. Then if you'll teach me how to play it, too."
"Who the hell says Nero knew how to play?"
Maybe it didn't go the way Nero wanted it, either. Maybe playing the fiddle was all he knew to do. Keep up the music, keep up the dance, keep playing, playing, playing. Maybe he cried after that final note faded away, and the tears tore out and the earth split open beneath him, enough to swallow him into the dark. Maybe there was something sharp down there to open himself with, and let more come out, thick and scabbed and finally wet and warm, underneath, there it is, he would think and rejoice, there it is.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

"Hey, listen"

Not having the best week. Work has been a little crazy, the girls just fight and fight, and my dad is saying things to me like, "Where am I?" That's why I'm reaching out to you to apologize.
You: woman dressed  in form fitting I-know-how-to-make-my-own-soap and work as an advocate for something. You answer questions with questions and your gait is determined and you have lists in your head of things to deploy as to why you don't eat thirty different things. You were being followed by a child, a boy dressed in what I assume was some sort of ninja costume. But that seems wrong, I'm just not really sure what it was, but he was running to keep up with you, watching his feet.
This is where I could have avoided having to write this. At this point we passed each other on Hale Street, and I could have said, "Hey, listen."
But I didn't, because I just didn't feel like it. It wasn't because I was wrestling with how to say, "Hey, listen, there's a gigantic dildo vibrator thing on the ground around the corner you're turning with that child. It's just laying there like it crawled to the sidewalk after being hit by a car and it looks dirty."
I'm not sure I would have said it like that, either, but. Was I supposed to pantomime what you were about to traipse across? Maybe we could have taken a knee and I could have suggested alternate routes with a piece of chalk.
Maybe you wouldn't have even seen it. That's not true. Even if you hadn't seen it the boy would have definitely alerted you to it's presence by holding it up and saying "WTF" in kid.
That may have very well been what happened and that's the worst scenario I've thought up after leaving you two to your fate.
So, I just wanted to say Sorry About That and I Hope That Didn't Happen.
Wow, that's certainly a load off.
I feel better already. I hope you do, too.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

About The Price

Adver and Dorge sat a a table in a Mexican restaurant waiting for the second basket of chips. The bus had been hours ago and they didn't know what to do next but were hungry. They still didn't much feel like talking as was their way, so they just looked at the murals of Aztecs behind one another.
"You know my grandfather, the one Molly was named after? He lived in this town, mining town, called Blakeley, it's not there anymore. And he had these chickens, I guess everybody had chickens, and he was out there feeding them one evening- Buzz told me this, and this guy comes up wanting to buy one of the chickens. So he stops feeding the chickens, I mean, he was just throwing some grain around, I'm sure, and they start going back and forth about the price, standing there on opposite sides of the chicken wire. Finally they agree on a particular chicken and the price and all and the guy pays him, and so he's like 'Ok, well bring her to me' and my grandpa says, 'It's your damn chicken, you get her' and walks off!"
Adver chortles politely but doesn't find this anywhere near as funny as Dorge does. He twists around in his seat to look at the mural behind him, "Is there a chicken on my mural or something?"
There was, of course.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Posted on the Outside

"Sorry guys, I'm tired." Adver read aloud from a crude sign posted on the outside of a building. He turned to see if Dorge was seeing what he was seeing but Dorge was asleep, chin tilted oddly in the air.