Short Story – Part I

The boat rocked violently back and forth, side to side, tipping with the current and against it. Marshal who was at the helm had his coat zipped up over his nose, and if his hat hadn’t blown away his face would have been completely covered. He couldn’t stand the cold, and when the ocean spray drenched him once more, he hollered for Zebb to come on deck.

No reply.

Zebb was tall and thin with curly red hair. He was lucky his eyes were the pale blue they were, lest his beard would have overwhelmed his face and his looks would have been lost in the bush.

Marshal wiped his face with his arm, holding the helm as steady as he could and looked out ahead. He squinted and then widened his eyes.

There was Zebb, standing at the end of the pulpit.

“Crazy bastard,” Marshal yelled. “Get away from there! If you fall in I’m not coming after you!”

Zebb could barely hear Marshal over the wind and the waves, though Marshal was not one to go unheard. But he stood there, with the elements rushing toward him, smiling. He loved the cold. He loved the way it would wake his senses and leave him shivering. It was discipline for him to resist the chill, a welcomed challenge. But the wind was far too strong to resist, and rain was pouring, beating down like the sounds of heavy drums, echoing in his ears.

Zebb turned and walked back to the helm to join Marshal.

“What do you think you were doing up there?” Marshal yelled in his ear.

Zebb laughed his laugh, brushing him off as he grabbed the helm.

“It’s my turn,” he said, taking the wheel from Marshal, who waved him off and went below deck. He was tired and wet, a familiar combination.

His Vessel needed fixing. He wondered how long she would hold up and if it would be best to dock at the next port or continue toward the Hudson. Docking would have certainly been best, but Marshal did not want to extend the trip any longer.

He lay down on his cot.

There were people waiting for him at the edge of the bay, one person he had been apart from for far too long. A round, flushed face with gold stripes tangled in her ashy hair. Maybe she would be wearing that dress that cinched her waist in just so. The one with the little flowers on it that played peekaboo when caught by the wind. He thought about her as he drifted off.

The boat would not dock tomorrow.

Back on deck Zebb was trying to be careful about the night watch, thought it was easy for his mind to wander. Tonight, it was carrying him far away, through familiar woods. He recalled what it was like to lie in the grass, on a cool summer night. How delicately the green would brush against his cheek while the wind blew, tracing the stars in the sky with his fingers, looking for Orion’s Belt. It was a fantastic sort of bliss for him. Yet his last night spent camped beneath the stars was far less euphoric. His neck was sore and his throat seething with pain, and as the rain beat down on his tent, he shifted in his sleeping bag trying to stay warm.

TDM

The True Love Cafe

The True Love Café stood out. Though I had never been inside, it seemed to capture my attention. It was not particularly attractive on the outside, painted a deep shade of purple, with a giant heart scaling the front of its building. The inside, which I could only gather from looking through the windows, was just the same. Unattractive under dim lights (and probably more so amidst bright lights), chairs and tables could be seen in the presence of tall plants, sad looking palm leaves and house shrubbery. Not as appealing to the eye as one would think or hope for a place with “love” in its name.

Only the outlines of figures could be seen, like shadows blurred in the background. A man behind a counter, a few people spread among eight or so tables, moving slowly, making their time last in beats.  It seemed quiet to me, as though anyone on the inside could be sheltered from the city sounds, from the noises of streetcars rolling along the tracks, people trudging down sidewalks, bikes, cars, trucks, horns honking, dogs barking, hollering for apologies and yelling for the sake of yelling. It just seemed as though time stood still here, and that it stood quietly with a grin of contentment.

I had never seen anyone enter the café, nor had I ever seen anyone exit. Yet whenever I passed by there were always people inside, perhaps just a coincidence of timing, or perhaps not. Though I admired the pace that seemed to be present among them, the folks inside always seemed quite unwell from where I stood. Why were they able to be so still, so present in their moment? Were they not flooded with the commotion on the outside? How could they not see or hear the masses that passed them by beyond the walls of the café? What content they must have.

TDM

Big Sky (Part 1)

Barefoot steps on dirt paths carried me deeper into the wooded area where I was greeted by hordes of people slithering between and grazing one another. Their sun-baked faces turned blue in the starlight, contrasting the drench of sepia and terra cotta that soaked their cotton, burlap and linen garb draped across their bodies. Sipping whiskey before gulping fresh air I stopped noticing where my steps were, and following the brightest lamppost made of moonlight I took my gaze toward the sky. I stopped in my tracks and settled, cross-legged, on the mossy mess of dirt and grass, to draw a line connecting all of the silver specks in the sky. Being under Big Sky meant the changing of gratitude swept in overwhelmingly with the changing of the seasons. The rows of trees were not just trees, but homes for little life, simple life, or companions to the dazed people weaving in and out of them looking for the path. People were not just people under Big Sky either, but friends and gentle faces to stop and hug and wish a happy harvest too. In the short distance beyond the clusters of tent cities was a bon fire whose flames stretched upward, so tall they could have reached over the heads of giants.

TDM

Lying on a Rock

I disengaged myself

And let every tender vertebra

Feel as pious as

The stone

They were held upon

And reaching overhead

In my supinated situation

I gasped

And let my hands fall to

The pate of the rock

Connecting them like

A halo

Twisting my fingers

Around my own locks

Tangling them between the crown

On my head

Where the coolness of

The stone had met my skull

Supporting it

 

TDM

Some Words

I am

Thinking now

About the sensation

Of dirty toes tickling

The cool brush

My back outstretched on bank

Of lily pad bay

My eyes wide

Focused on tufts drifting across

Big sky

Where lonely is

A suitcase with the bare

Essentials

Essence of secrecy in

The gazes exchanged

Between me,

what waxing cycle will have me

And the essence of nobody

To trust in translation

No body

To speak my version of

Barefoot back to me

You

You took my inhibitions

And turned them inside out

In the most timely manner

So that at your convenience

You could call me

Sweet

Lovely

Beautiful

Quirk

A joke to you

But had you known

I was accustom to manners

Of flight

You would not have been

So inclined

In your attempt to

Flatter

You would have figured

Out so quickly that

I would crush

You with a look

Of discontentment so

Incessantly putrid

That you would be forced

To your hands and knees

Where my amusement

Would be your wretch

TDM

Andrew

You were trying to be

a Kerouac

When you led me

from subway to streetcar

To marbled sidewalk

and thought you were adventure

Looking for old doorways on Bay

Where I knew there were none

And you were trying to make me

your Queen Anne’s Lace

So I would be

gentle with your secrets

sooth your eccentricities

and unravel your spirit

But I was the seedling of

a dogwood flower

And led you

From subway to streetcar

To tall grass footpath

And thought I was adventure

In convincing you

to cascade backwards between

dandelion and dew

to match my wavelength

which was unravelling itself between

the blades of grass

as though the meadow were

a maze leading straight

to your disposition

 

TDM