Monthly Archives: November 2010

Growl and Thump


Lingering summer heat drifted in through my open window as I traced another drop of cold water on my bare belly.   I knew she would be going out soon.  She always got to stay out late on Friday nights while I, little sis, was stuck at home waiting for my high school days to begin.  Lucky her, senior class of ’81, and then she’d be out of this do-nothing, know-nothing town.

As I dipped my finger into a glass of ice water for another cool touch,  the approaching rumble of what might have been a lion or some other vicious, wild beast seized me and a thrill raced through my body.   It growled and roared and thumped and screeched, growing louder as it approached.

I sat up in bed and looked out of the window just in time to see its eyes throwing light onto the dark street as  it stopped in front of our little house on Cherry Creek Lane.   I could feel the pulse of its music deep in my body.  My heart and breathing quickened as the engine of the shining, black van idled down into a low growl, punctuated by powerful, roaring, thrusts from the driver’s foot.   Concealed by tinted windows and a moonless night, he pushed the passenger side door open, letting the full range of the song cut like a jagged knife into the night air.

Aaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaa-aaaah!  Aaaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaaaa!” screamed the singer, his voice running icy fingers up my spine.   I closed my eyes to savor the full impact of its menacing touch in me.

Cuz I’m back in black!

I’m BACK

IN

BLACK!”

In an instant, the front door of the house slammed shut, and my sister  climbed into the black beast…engine roaring, tires screeching, door slamming as she laughed and cheered it on.  Then she was gone once again.  I listened intently as the beat of the music and the groan of the engine faded,  dissolving gradually into the August night air.

By the time she rolled back home,  I would be asleep.

I wasn’t supposed to know that song.  I wasn’t supposed to be listening to that kind of music yet, but still I  snuck into my sister’s room every Friday night just as I would tonight.  Plugging in her big, studio headphones, I dropped the needle and laid back onto her bed, and as the guitar tore into my mind, I felt something begin to ache inside of  me, something growing and throbbing and pounding.   It ignited a hunger deep inside me that I didn’t know how to satisfy.   I listened to the record over and over again, tracing the outline of my emerging hips as Brian Johnson’s vocals ripped into me, claiming a little piece of my soul.


This Old Town


At what point is a town not the same town it used to be?  Is it when the Super Walmart shows up?  Is it when the local restaurants give way to fast food chains lined up by the interstate like guests at a party who act like they own the place.   Or is it when all the people you used to know have either left or changed beyond any hope of recognition?

No, my feet say no, this is the same town.  This is the same street  I use to walk down from my little church house to the corner market for candy and a Coke.  My ears hear the same cry of the blue jay and high song of the park swing.  The smell of the pine and cedar still rest on the same breeze and rise to the same steeple of the old church that I called my home.   And I knew that when it rained on a warm sidewalk, that the fragrance of rainwater and concrete still rose to meet the smiling faces of bare-footed children exploring the puddled terrain.

And maybe the events of the past that formed this town had fallen out of the memories of its inhabitants, but the pain still flowed through there veins, knit into the fabric of their beings.   This town would always bear the curse of its past.  The bitter would always be mixed with whatever sweet was to be found among the big houses that still stood at the center of this old plantation town where the bare feet of an enslaved race toiled and suffered and blistered and bled.

If you looked deep enough into any open eyes, you could still see it.  If you walked to the east of the old park, you could  still see the deep division of color.   You can still meet folks who remember what this part of town used to be called and was still called behind the closed doors of the big houses.    I can still remember the warnings of the old schoolteacher who’s grandson I used to play with, “Don’t you boys be riding your bikes over there in N—-r Town.  There ain’t nothin’ over there for you.”  The same teacher who stood with us, white children and black children, and led us in the Pledge of the Allegiance and the 23rd Psalm.   The same teacher who used to paddle our little first grade bottoms for speaking out of turn, who’s mother and grandmother did the same, and who’s grandfather used to hold a whip, was teaching us to say

The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

And I can still say it, and so can all of the children she taught, no matter which side of the park they lived,  even while her body rests in the family cemetery along with the forgotten memories of this old town that will always be the same no matter how it may change.


Shuffling Now


“Say hi to Lorraine for me,” said Julie, a friend from  church.

Frank turned back slowly with a sly smile and put on his fedora.  Mishearing the young lady, he replied, “Oh she’s as mean as ever.”

“Who?  That sweet woman?”

“I knew you’d take her side! ” he replied, chuckling and waving goodbye.

Frank shuffled his way out of the bookstore and to his 1962 Plymouth Savoy, newspaper tucked under his arm, new book in hand.  He’d only just retired a month before after 52 years in medicine.  He saw the fancy gadgets that the other patrons at the bookstore cafe were playing with and wondered how long he would be able to buy an actual honest-to-goodness newspaper anymore.   Maybe I oughtta buy one of those thingies to just set out on the table so these kids will think I’m up-to-date? But he wouldn’t, and he knew it.  He was perfectly content with what he had.  He really just liked to tease himself from time to time.

Lorraine would be fixing him a sandwich by the time he got home; tuna on toasted whole wheat bread, light mayo.  He sometimes found himself daydreaming about white bread and real mayonaise, Not that light stuff that she’s been trying to kill me with.  Mayonnaise is made of fat!  I can’t even imagine what this stuff is made of! It was nearly always served to  him on a TV tray, cut in half, low-sodium pickle spear on the side, and a glass of iced tea,  Unsweetened, tastes like tree bark or something.  That woman wants me to die unhappy, I swear to God she does!

Lorraine?  I’m home!”  he called as he hung his hat on the hat tree by the front door.

“In the kitchen, darling!” she called back.

He walked to the kitchen door and peaked in.  Wearing a 30-year-old apron, her back to him, humming to herself, she was smearing tuna salad on his toast.  And for a moment, he saw his wife.  He saw the woman he married 58 years ago.  He saw the way her hips swayed as she stepped from one foot to the other, almost dancing to the tune she hummed.  It just all happened so fast, he thought.  How did we get here so fast?

Like an old cat, he tip-toed up behind her, hoping to catch her by surprise,  but she caught him.

“Frank,  quit that foolishness and go sit down so I can bring you your lunch!”

“You call that lunch?  I know what you’re trying to feed me!  In the Navy, we used to call that S.O.S.;  shit on a shingle!”

Feigning irritation, she slammed his sandwich down on the plate and handed it to him to carry back to the den himself, but as he turned to shuffle out of the kitchen, she smiled and shook her head remembering the way he used to walk before he shuffled.


#fridayflash Accidental Whore


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Accidental Whore" - David Wilson-Burns © 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pop!

“Hey, baby, how much for 1 hr massage?”

pop!

“Free tomorrow night?”

pop!

“Ok, so I saw your ad.  How does this work?  Do I meet me somewhere?  Do you come to my apartment?  I’ve never done this before.”

“Oh, I meant you.  Do I meet you.”

pop!

“$500 for an hour?”

pop!

“Lonely tonight, can I see you?”

pop! pop! pop! pop! pop!

In a panic, Tammy Love pulled the plug on her computer straight out of the socket.  She’d received at least twenty instant messages in a period of two or three minutes while sitting in her quiet gray cubicle at her quiet gray job at a home and life insurance company that nobody had heard of.

Whoever these men were, they all had two things in common:  they all wanted sex and they all seemed to think that she would provide it as a service.  She was flush with panic and embarrassment sitting in her cube with her hand on her chest trying to catch her breath, and trying to regain her composure.  Clearly, she thought, there’s been some sort of mistake. My email must be similar to someone else’s!  Some WHORE!!!

That night, she laid in bed trying to sleep, but couldn’t get all of the filthy requests out of her head.  And for so much money!  These guys must be really be lonely and depraved! And what was more disturbing to her, was how it was making her feel.  Wasn’t she as lonely as they were?  And didn’t she need the same things they were needing.  She hadn’t been with a man for nearly two years.  And suddenly, she found herself a little bit….curious.

Maybe these weren’t all bad guys, she thought, maybe they were just a little lonely.  And then she remembered one of the messages, “I’ve never done this before.”  Maybe she was no different than he was.  Maybe he was alone in bed just like she was just wanting to be close to somebody?    There was something almost sweet to her about the nervous tone in the message, now that she thought about it.   She dragged her laptop onto the bed, wondering if she could find the message in her chat history.   She logged in, tammylove69, with a new kind of thrill inside, open to new  possibilities.


On the Threshing Floor


“Threshing Floor” – David Wilson-Burns © 2010

It had been a long day of winnowing barley.  I was well pleased with the harvest, well-fed, and had had my fill of wine from my vineyard.  I drifted to sleep with thoughts of the woman I’d met in the fields.   What a noble woman she was, and lovely.  She had done such a kindness, a hesed, for my kinswoman.  Rarely had I witnessed such faithfulness, and in a Moabite woman!  I couldn’t help to think that she would certainly make as faithful a wife.

Deep in the night, I was awoken.  During winnowing time, I sleep on the threshing room floor along with my servants.  But this was not one of my servants.   I was awoken by a sweet fragrance, something sweeter than the barley grain.  Sleeping at my feet was a woman wrapped in my cloak.  I sat up and touched her softly and whispered, “Who are you?”

My heart raced when the woman replied, “I am Ruth, your servant.”

Oh Ruth.  My dear, sweet woman.  She had come to me in my slumber to lay herself before my feet!

She continued on; her words as sweet as the honey I had supped on the evening before!

“Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”

Yes, yes.  I was a redeemer, being very closely related to her mother-in-law, Naomi, but I was not the closest.  So I spoke words to honor her and let her know how I felt about her, and made also a proposition that was good and proper.

“May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.”  Her eyes met mine for just a moment, but being a modest woman she bowed them quickly.  “And now, my daughter,” I continued, “do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.  And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.   Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”

And this sweet woman nodded her consent and lay back down at my feet.  And I, taken with love and compassion for her, could hardly sleep,  for she had redeemed our dear Naomi.  She, a Moabite, chose to live here in Bethlehem to care for an Israelite out of no legal obligation.  She must truly be a good woman, a woman of God.   And I prayed to the Lord until morning that my cousin, the closest possible redeemer, would pass her to me, if it be the Lord’s will.

Oh my sweet Ruth!  Let it be that I would redeem you and your husband’s line.  It is certain to be a noble one!