DON’T MAKE ME REGRET THIS

They held a candlelight vigil for me but what was the point? I was already dead. The night before all my friends were together enjoying a dinner and in less than 24 hours my fate was sealed. 

There were many thoughts going through their heads but one question they all shared was this: “How could something fall apart so quickly?” The denouement came to be through a very neat series of synchronized, predetermined events as they stood by helplessly. How could they have been so blind to the trouble headed my way? 

I was the most charismatic in our group; they flocked to me and we became friends immediately. They were mesmerized when I spoke, as though I knew all the answers. Sadly, I did know for my father had prepared me. 

My message rang true like none they’d ever heard before, so simple yet so profound. I spoke words of love – not a romantic, physical love but an all-encompassing, never-ending, consuming ardor which burned deeply into their souls. It wasn’t just one thing; it was all things. 

They loved me beyond measure; there was nothing they would not do for me yet they failed me miserably. 

I asked so very little of them. I gave them my all. 

Lauded and praised. Denied and betrayed. Derided and defiled. Beaten and broken. Nailed and speared. The agony!   

My children, you are forgiven your many failings, your countless sins. I did not want to die. Please don’t make me regret this. 

Wishing my fellow writers, poets, philosophizers and dreamers as well as those who consistently and faithfully follow me and read my humble imaginings a very blessed Easter and a lovely Spring. May your lives be full with all things bright and beautiful. Thank you for being an important part of my life! – Nancy 🐘

NAR © 2022

MADA RANA

My great-grandmother, Mada Rana, 1947

The house is quiet tonight. Eerily quiet. All the lights are off and only the glow of candles shines dimly through the curtained windows, performing a ballet of shadows on the walls and ceiling. Every so often a door softly opens, barely perceptible murmurings are audible, then the door gently closes. Intermittent muted sobbing creeps up from the parlor.

I sit on my bed huddled under a blanket, a tiny flashlight flickering a pale yellow beam on my diary as I jot down my memories of the day. I must be quiet; my mother will be very upset with me if she discovers I’m still awake at this late hour.

My window is open just enough to let in some fresh air. The distinct smell of cigarette smoke wafts up into my room. I peek out to see my mother’s uncles sitting on the back steps silently smoking their unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes. Their black armbands are starkly visible against their plain starched white shirts. 

I tip-toe across the length of my bedroom, praying the old wooden floorboards beneath the well-worn rug will not creak. Ever so slowly I turn the glass doorknob; the hallway is dark. I can detect a muted light downstairs and I scurry nearer to the staircase railing for a better look. I sit there hugging my knees for a long time; there is no movement on the lower level. Just as I am about to descend the stairs, a giant amorphous outline begins approaching the parlor. The huge silhouette is frightening but only momentarily as it slowly becomes smaller and eventually reveals itself to be the profile of my mother draped from head to knees in a long lace shawl. She stands just outside the parlor for a moment fidgeting with her handkerchief, then enters the room, quietly sliding closed the heavy pocket doors.

A few hours earlier the ambience of the house was much different, still subdued but active as delivery men and acquaintances paying their respects came and went. My mother and her aunts labored in the kitchen like silent worker bees, preparing trays of food for the constant flow of visitors. My father, along with my mother’s uncles, directed the traffic of floral deliveries and positioned the many arrangements throughout the parlor. And we children sat quietly on the two enormous matching sofas along the side walls, eyes downcast, confused and uncharacteristically subdued. Occasionally we would glance toward the walnut casket resting atop a platform in the center of the room and quickly look away. Around 6:00 we were quietly whisked away into the dining room where we silently ate our evening meal, then returned to the parlor to continue our vigil.

There seemed to be a never-ending flow of people, a soft parade of mourners entering my house. Veiled women dabbed their eyes and men removed their hats, heads bowed. This stream flowed seamlessly from 2:00 in the afternoon until 9:30 that evening, many people lingering to reflect while others stayed only minutes. The priest arrived shortly after 9:30; he spoke softly in our native Sicilian dialect, offering prayers and words of consolation. When he was finished, everyone except my mother’s aunts and uncles departed. My little cousins, some no longer able to stay awake, were carried home and my sister and I were shooed off to our bedrooms upstairs.

It had been a long and sorrowful day. Mada Rana, the family matriarch, had died.

Her name was Maria Giuliano and she was my great-grandmother. We called her Mada Rana, our abbreviated version of the Italian Mamma Grande or Big Mamma. Mada Rana was a Sicilian immigrant, mother of six, grandmother of 16 (including my mother) and great-grandmother of 27. Her husband Giovanni died long ago when my mother was still a very young child and Mada Rana remained a widow for the rest of her life. 

Heavy-set and of medium height, she had the appearance of being stoic and unapproachable but her blue eyes danced whenever the children were around. Like magic, she would produce homemade cookies from her apron pockets and sneak them to us behind her back, pressing her fingers to her lips signaling us to keep her secret.

At one time or another most of the family lived in the same apartment building on 153rd Street and Third Avenue in the Melrose section of The Bronx. In time all Mada Rana’s children married and had families of their own. Mada Rana never lived by herself; her children were happy to take turns providing a home for her until she eventually moved into our house with my parents, sister and me. That was where she held court over the family meal every Sunday. Our house was large and well-appointed, filled with the noisy sounds of children laughing, women cooking and men excitedly playing cards. And there was music, always music. Mada Rana’s bedroom was on the first floor near the parlor and that’s where she died, surrounded by her loved ones.

Tonight the house is silent and the intense perfume of flowers hangs heavy in the air. As is the tradition, Mada Rana lay in repose in the center of the house; she wore a dress of deep purple to compliment the lilac velvet lining of her casket, her rosary beads secure in her hands.

Tomorrow morning we will say our last goodbyes to our beloved matriarch. Our cars will slowly follow a horse drawn carriage to St. Raymond’s Cemetery where Mada Rana will be laid to rest with her beloved Giovanni. It has been firmly explained to the children that everyone will kiss Mada Rana’s forehead as a final sign of respect; my stomach is in knots thinking about kissing a dead person. The concept is frightening and I don’t want to do it but I must.

I will forever hold dear countless memories of Mada Rana – her larger-than-life presence at the dinner table, her silver hair pulled in a bun, black stockings rolled down below her knees, the house-dresses she wore inside and the ubiquitous black mourning ensemble she wore when in public, the rapid-fire way she would roll home-made cavatelli one after the other off a small grooved paddle, her muted prayers as she devoutly recited her rosary, the way she closed her eyes and smiled when Caruso sang.

I will never be able to erase from my mind the overwhelming smell of flowers in the parlor during her wake, the sound of dirt and pebbles pelting her casket or the cold, waxy feel of her forehead under my quivering lips. My dreams were filled with those recollections for years and sometimes still haunt my sleep.

NAR © 2022

This recording was made in September 1920, less than a year before Caruso’s death. His health was failing and the recording equipment was, by our standards, primitive. Despite all that, the power and beauty of his voice remain unmatched.

RAINBOW BRIDGE

Eric and Sue always knew they’d get a dog someday – not one from the pet shop but a rescue in desperate need of a loving home. When they saw Lily, all chocolatey-brown with big doe eyes, they knew she was the one. She was the sweetest, most gentle dog ever, despite having been abused and terribly frightened most of her life.

Animals know when someone is trying to help them. Lily knew she was safe, happy living in her home on Paradise Place with Eric and Sue. She loved them as much as they loved her.

After six years together Sue noticed that Lily had a little raspy cough and some trouble eating; this worried her. A trip to the vet confirmed her fears; Lily was diagnosed with a rare case of tongue cancer.

Malignant. Inoperable.

How much time?”

Within the year” was the grim answer.

Sue and Eric promised each other two things:
– They would spoil Lily rotten and smother her with love.
– They would never let her suffer or die alone.

The veterinarian decided the best treatment would be medication and radiation therapy. It wasn’t a cure but Lily responded well; she was a happy girl. She loved napping in the upstairs TV room. Upon waking she’d walk to the top of the stairs, stretch and shake her head, dog tags jangling noisily. When baby Julia came along, Lily was so good with her; Eric and Sue never worried when Lily was near the baby.

Eight months later Lily started getting worse. Within days she declined rapidly; she was listless and wouldn’t eat. Eric and Sue were blindsided one morning when Lily began vomiting blood; they knew the end was near for their beloved girl. It’s not like they weren’t expecting this; it just happened so fast and too soon.

At the animal hospital Eric and Sue comforted Lily as the vet gave her a sedative. They whispered loving words and kissed her head. Lily finally relaxed in their arms. Another injection was administered and Lily passed peacefully after just a few seconds.

Eric and Sue were heartbroken. They took the next day off from work to recoup, scrubbing the blood from the carpet and washing Lily’s bed. That night while folding laundry Sue heard a noise upstairs. She thought it was Julia but the baby was fast asleep. Then she recognized the sound: jangling dog tags! Exhausted, Sue knew it had to be her imagination … until she looked at Eric. He was white as a ghost, his gaze transfixed on the staircase. Sue whispered in questioning disbelief “You heard that?!” Eric nodded yes. “That was Lily!”

Logically they knew it couldn’t possibly be Lily but they looked anyway. Then they checked Lily’s leash and collar; of course they were right where they put them the night before. But in their hearts they knew – Lily had come back one last time to her home on Paradise Place to say goodbye and let them know she was ok on the other side of Rainbow Bridge.



Lily

NAR © 2020

NO JOKE!

Death is no laughing matter;
It isn’t some practical joke.
It doesn’t care if you’re thinner or fatter;
Death comes to all sorts of folk.

Death isn’t anything new, we all know
It began in the Garden of Eden.
Cain, he killed Abel, it was mano a mano;
He was jealous and just had to get even.

Death came to Caesar as quit a surprise
At a meeting in the Theatre of Pompey.
The Senators punctured his back and his sides;
“Et tu, Brute?” was all he could say.

Death for young Romeo was a goblet of poison
Which he drank thinking Juliet was dead.
She found her dead lover, stabbed herself in the bosom
And dropped dead at the foot of his bed.

Death is the bloody result of world war;
Brave men within earshot of guns.
Grenades flying high like a bird on the soar;
Frightened lads crying out for their mums.

Death is something we don’t like to ponder;
It gives us the cold sweats and chills.
Not so for a psycho who’s out on the wander;
Killing quenches his thirst for cheap thrills.

Death is merely a passage of sorts,
Ambiguous though it may seem.
Don’t forget what your mom used to say ’bout your shorts,
“If you die they had better be clean!”

Death can sometimes be quit accidental;
Even crossing the street isn’t easy.
Finding oneself in the path of a rental
Will most certainly make you feel queasy.

Death likes to climb into bed when you’re sleeping;
Some say it’s the most pleasant way.
Under your bloomers and sheets it comes creeping;
Good thing you had no plans for the day!

Death can be so inconvenient!
It shows up when you haven’t a hunch.
One minute you’re pitching your new camping tent
And the next you’re a hungry bear’s lunch.

Death likes to hide in the darkest of places
Where junkies shoot up in the night.
But nobody sees the relief on their faces
When they finally give up the fight.

Death can appear right in front of your car
And you cannot control your Range Rover.
You slam on the brakes but you’ve gone way too far
And drive over the White Cliffs of Dover!

Death comes a-tapping on your neighbor’s back window
And you’re thinking “Thank God it’s not me!”
Next thing you know your poor wife is a widow
When you’re squashed by your dead neighbor’s tree.

Death has been known to appear at the station
While you’re waiting for the next express train.
There go your big plans for summer vacation;
But you made the late news – don’t complain!

Death frequently happens in bathrooms
After falling through the glass shower door.
It’s going to take more than a mop and some brooms
To clean all the blood off the floor.

Death will take all the fun out of life;
I hear that it happens quite often.
So have lots of sex with your perky young wife
Before they lower the lid on your coffin!

Death comes to all whether dirt poor or rich;
It’s never been known to discriminate.
You can be a real gent or a son of a bitch,
Pure of heart or brimming with hate.

Death will happen in every generation;
Today or tomorrow, no one can tell.
Whether a low-life or of high veneration
We’re all gonna end up in heaven or hell.

Death doesn’t come for a gain or a profit;
It’s certainly no money-maker
Unless, of course, you’re lucky to sit
In the chair of the rich undertaker


NAR © 2020

SYLVIA REPLIED

“Walnut, definitely walnut” declared Sylvia Klein. “Look what is says in the brochure”: 

• Honor your loved one by choosing an exquisite solid wood casket. The strong, stately Elite Walnut is a timeless casket that comes with beautiful platinum swing bars and a secure locking mechanism. Like most of our funeral caskets, the Elite Walnut features an Eternal Rest Adjustable Bed and matching pillow. The luxurious silk velvet lining makes this casket an excellent choice: $17,000 • 

“Doesn’t that sound ideal, Lenny?!” Sylvia exclaimed to her husband. 

“$17,000?! What else is in there – the Crown Jewels?! Who pays that kind of money for a casket?! Sylvia, for that amount we can give our grandsons a bar mitzvah feast fit for a king!” 

“Did you see the part where it says ‘adjustable bed and matching pillow’? Oh, Lenny, think how comfortable I’ll be.

Comfortable?? For crying out loud, Sylvia, you’re gonna be dead. D-E-A-D dead! This isn’t a week at the Ritz Carlton! Adjustable bed my ass!” 

“Lenny, why are you acting like an old tightwad? You always said money is just a number. This means a lot to me!” Sylvia exclaimed tearfully. 

“Sylvia, calm down. When have I ever been a tightwad? Our daughters had extravagant weddings. You wanted that chandelier for the dining room which, I’ll remind you, cost a pretty penny. Then there was the Steinway mahogany baby grand and you don’t even play the piano! Then the Jaguar with all the bells and whistles and so many cruises I’ve lost count. Everything you ever wanted I happily gave you but this – this is just a big waste of money!  

“Leonard Klein, how can you say that?! My final resting place and you’re calling it a waste of money! Sylvia wailed.

“Sylvie, I’m sorry. Calm down. Can we please discuss this later?” Leonard pleaded

“Wait, Lenny. You haven’t heard the best part. This is a special for Rosh Hashanah – buy one, get one at half price. That’s only $25,500 for two – one for me and one for you!” 

Leonard sighed deeply. “Oy vey, Sylvia, I don’t need all this stuff! Put me in a plain pine box and toss me off the yacht. You can even write on it ‘Leonard Klein sleeps with the fishes’!” 

Sylvia started sobbing. “Oh, Leonard, how can you say such a horrible thing? The thought of you being nibbled on by fish and crabs and God knows what … I could die!” 

Sylvia, please stop crying. I was just making a little joke. If you want this Elite whatever we’ll get it. Ok? You feel better now?” 

Sylvia sniffled and nodded her head. “Oh yes, Lenny! You’ve made me very happy! Now one last thing: I can’t be buried. I’m terribly claustrophobic. The thought of being underground – I’d die! I want to be cremated.” 

Cremated?!” Leonard yelled, pulling his fingers through what little hair he had. “Now you want to be cremated? Are you meshugenah, Sylvia? $17,000 for a piece of firewood?!” 

“$25,500, Lenny” Sylvia replied

NAR © 2019

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SEW

“Grundy, you old son of a bitch! What the hell are you doing here?” exclaimed Ian Simms.

“Same as you, Ian, and your brother, Carter. Attending the reading of your father’s will. May he rest in peace. 

“Carter, look who’s here!” declared Ian to his twin. “It’s the one and only Grundy!”

It’s been a while, Grundy. I can’t even recall the last time I saw you” remarked Carter. 

“I believe it was your sixteenth birthday – the day before your mother deserted your father and shipped both of you off to military school.” 

“You know, Grundy, there was a time when you showed a bit more respect to me and my brother. You used to call me ‘Master Carter’ and my brother ‘Master Ian’ – back when you were my father’s lowly valet.” 

“Yes indeed – when you behaved like the spoiled crowned princes of Palm Springs. I’d say we’re on equal footing now, Carter.” 

“Watch your mouth, old man” snarled Carter. “Remember you were just a servant!” 

Were being the operative word. Here’s your father’s attorney now. Let’s get on with this, shall we?” 

“Good afternoon, everyone. Please be seated. I’m Lester Garrison, Mr. Simms’ attorney, and we’re gathered here today for the reading of his will. All right then, let’s begin.” Garrison cleared his throat: 

• “I, Franklin Theodore Simms, being of sound mind and body declare this to be my last will and testament.

• To my former wife, Gloria Morrow Simms, I leave a dildo so she can go fuck herself. I’m sure she didn’t have the decency to attend today but there was never anything decent about her. 

• To my sons Carter and Ian I leave both the amount of $19.79 which represents the year you were born. Perhaps if you had bothered to call or visit me just one time in the past 24 years the amount would be substantially higher; however that is not the case. You reap what you sow, boys. 

• To the San Diego Zoo I leave $2.5 million dollars because animals are infinitely nicer than humans. 

• The remainder of my estate, all my worldly possessions and $18.5 million dollars I leave to my one true friend – Samuel Grundy. Sam, you were never just my valet; you were my brother. You were the only one who remained when my family abandoned me. And when I became sick, you cared for me, refusing any income. We spent many hours in the garden by the weeping willow tree playing chess, sharing memories, baring our souls. 

• A note to my sons: if you hadn’t been so self-centered you would have known Mr. Grundy’s first name. Instead you treated him like chattel and called him simply ‘Grundy’. Shame on you both! 

• My lawyer already knows that I don’t want a funeral. I’m to be cremated and my ashes buried under the old willow tree where I spent my final days with Samuel Grundy.

• See you at the tree, Sam. The rest of you ingrates can go to hell.”

NAR © 2019

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC)of 24 September 2022, spite

A PIG IN A POKE

As soon as Briana Jeffries woke up she knew her AC had broken down. Her townhouse was like a sauna. She called the landlord then got ready for work. Stepping outside, she was enveloped in a cloud of oppressive heat. 

Briana’s townhouse didn’t have a garage – only street parking. Slipping off her suit jacket, she adjusted her shoulder bag and began walking to her car. With every step a bead of sweat rippled down her neck and back until her blouse clung to her drenched body. She cursed her high heels and pantyhose but the real estate agency where she worked demanded appropriate attire. 

I really should switch to McConnell Realty. They’re much more casual than Dalton & Banks” she thought as she got into her car and switched on the AC. Sure, the commission she earned was great but she wasn’t truly happy. And dealing with that smarmy, perpetually tanned Joe DelVecchio was nauseating.

First on the agenda was the Monday meeting, then Briana’s client at 10:30. With six houses to show, it was going to be a long day. As soon as she entered the office, Joe was all over her. “Looking steamy, Briana. Nice lipstick. Looks all pouty. I’m gonna call you BJ. Know what that means?” 

What a dick. The only reason Joe was tolerated here was the older female clients adored him and he could charm the panties off them – and probably did if it meant making a sale. Ignoring him, Briana sat at the mahogany table between Grace and Harold. 

Attention!” Charlotte Dalton announced. “We have a large number of elderly couples today. Briana and Joe, I want you working together. 

By day’s end Briana was sick of Joe but he insisted on walking her to her car. “Let’s get a drink, moisten that beautiful BJ mouth”. Involuntarily Briana licked her lips;  Joe moaned. 

“No, Joe! I just want to go home, take a shower and go to bed.” She immediately regretted her choice of words. Joe pressed Briana against her car whispering “You read my mind” and she felt his clammy hand between her legs. Calling him a “disgusting pig”, she shoved him away and drove off. It was at that moment she decided today was her last day at Dalton & Banks. 

Unlocking her front door, Briana was thrilled to find the AC working and the house delightfully cool. Locking the door, she kicked off her shoes, peeled off her damp clothes and headed for the shower. Closing the bathroom door, Briana entered the shower and stood under the cool water, relaxing, unthinking.  Suddenly she heard a noise outside the bathroom. She listened intently; there it was again. SOMEONE WAS IN HER HOUSE!! Without even turning off the shower, Briana lunged to lock the bathroom door just as Joe DelVecchio burst in, knocking her backwards into the shower. Slamming the tiles, Briana’s head cracked open, blood swirling down the drain. 

Briana was right. That was her last day at Dalton & Banks. 

NAR © 2019

THE LOSER

“Instantly Irresistible” read the label on the perfume bottle at a shop in Bangkok. I was, shall we say, drawn here after several misunderstandings with the Sydney Police Department. I called it “gaining a profit”; they called it “pickpocketing”.

Contrary to the Sydney Police, my parents and my friends, I’m not a complete loser – just a partial one. I worked in a book store back home but got canned when I ‘borrowed’ a few dollars from the register. The shop owner called the police on me, even though “he really liked me and hated doing it” . Then there was the ‘incident’ which brought me here. 

Now I’m washing dishes for a restaurant, just barely getting by. The waitresses, all sisters, live together downstairs in a shoebox of an apartment near the supply room. I sleep on a cot in the basement and use the grungy bathroom – better than nothing. There’s a basement window which I crawl through when I get home late and the restaurant is closed. Only the owner and the eldest sister have a key. 

Sometimes when the sisters are working I’ll go downstairs for supplies, take a small detour into that shoebox and help myself to their tip money. I’m wondering – can I be considered a ‘housebreaker’ if the door isn’t locked? 

I have a clandestine girlfriend, too. She’s a cleaner at the tailor shop nearby. I saw her through the shop window and she looked up and smiled. One dark night after work I waited for her outside the shop and asked if I could walk her home. She agreed but said only half way – her family would not approve. She lives with her parents and 11 siblings. All of what she earns goes to her family. She owns only a few clothes and a ragged cloth pouch. I surprised her with a bottle of perfume which I found in a moldy wood crate behind the shop. She smiled happily and slipped it into her pouch. Her name is “Piti” and she calls me “Sam” which isn’t even my name but that’s ok. No one knows I exist.  

After dark the next night I waited for Piti but she never showed. Disappointed, I skulked home. The same thing happened the next two nights and on the fourth day during my break I glanced in the tailor shop window only to see a different cleaning girl. “Where was Piti?” I wondered, becoming concerned. 

Several days later I overheard the sisters talking. Piti had become deathly sick – an apparent toxic reaction to old perfume from a bottle found in her pouch. She had been in quarantine, but died this morning. 

I was reeling. I did this to Piti. I killed her! She was a perfect angel, the sweetest part of my life. Everything I do hurts someone. In the course of three weeks I’ve gone from petty thief to murderer. Everyone is right. I’m a complete loser. I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself.       

NAR © 2019

THE REGISTER

“Saunders B&B, a beautiful old country Georgian house in Tipperary, set in lovely wooded grounds and gardens. A warm welcome combined with superb food makes this gracious house ideal” recited my bride Fiona breathlessly.

How do you do that??” I asked for the fiftieth time since we met. 

“I can’t help having a photographic memory. It’s a blessing and a curse but it sure came in handy when studying ‘The Principles of Macroeconomics!” she laughed. 

It had been raining lightly and getting accustomed to driving on the other side of the road was challenging. As we turned the bend, the B&B appeared before us looking exactly like something out of a Thomas Moore poem. Just then the sun broke through the clouds, a rainbow in its wake. 

Look, Dylan! A rainbow! declared Fiona excitedly. “Maybe there’s a pot of gold at the end.” 

I chuckled at her enthusiasm. We entered the old but immaculate building and a kindly lady was there to greet us at the front desk. “I’m guessing you’re the Colcannons. I’m Kathleen. Welcome! Would you be kind enough to sign the register?” 

Fiona giddily signed the guest book. “Ah, newlyweds! There’s no mistaking that glow about ya, lass” Kathleen said,  smiling broadly. “Our last guests departed yesterday so you’ll have the whole place to yourselves.” Handing us the key to our room, she said dinner would be served at 7pm. 

Our room was charming with a view of the back gardens. Just before dinner we checked out the library. It was small but offered a variety of books from ‘Time Travellers’ to the writings of Diogenes. Dinner was carrot soup and White Pudding, a popular Irish meat dish, followed by scones and chocolate mousse. Exhausted and full, we retired early, looking forward to sightseeing in the morning. 

The next day we were served a traditional Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash, toast, marmalade and Lyons Tea. “I am stuffed! You up for a walk?” I asked Fiona, and off we went exploring. Typical of Ireland, the day was overcast and as we walked along the path we came upon a cemetery. Slowly we weaved our way among the headstones, reading aloud the names as we went along. 

This is one for the Guinness book of coincidences” said Fiona“Yesterday when I signed the register I remember seeing the name ‘White’ and dinner was White Pudding. Another name in the register was ‘Lyons’ and this morning at breakfast we had Lyons Tea. That’s incredible!” 

“Both those names are pretty common, Fiona. I don’t think that’s incredible.” 

 Walking along we discovered Kathleen in the garden gathering vegetables. “For tonight’s dinner”, she explained. “A combination of mashed potatoes, cabbage and bacon.” 

“That sounds delicious!” declared Fiona “What’s it called?” 

Suddenly Kathleen whipped out a machete, grinned maniacally and shrieked “Colcannon!” 

The last thing I remember was seeing Fiona’s head roll to the ground and an excruciating pain in my neck while Kathleen cackled hideously. Then the whole world went black. 

NAR © 2019

A BLOODY MESS

He hadn’t realized that he had past the point of no return until he found himself frantically searching the house for anything that would remove blood stains.

“Remove impossible stains .. wine, grease .. even blood. I found it!“ shouted Robert from the kitchen. Walking back into the parlor, his brother Daniel was still standing over the body of Stuart Barclay, Daniel’s business partner. 

“Great! Gimme that. We need to get this blood stain out of Meryl’s Persian rug before she gets back from her spa weekend. This is her favorite rug; it cost a fortune! 

“Danny, I think you’ve got bigger problems to worry about than your wife’s rug” replied Robert. “Stuart’s dead! I saw the whole thing. He lunged at you and hit his head on the mantle. It was an accident. Why don’t you just call the police?” 

“I can’t! It’s not that simple. He had evidence against me.” 

“Meaning?” 

“Stuart proved months ago that I was embezzling, forging last wills and testaments, other legal documents and he was gonna turn me in. He confronted me and I couldn’t let that happen!”  Daniel ran his hands through his hair.  “Listen, I knew he was having an affair so I had him followed. I have photos. I suggested he come over tonight so we could talk. It got heated and he came at me. You saw it with your own eyes, Bobby. Stuart and I reign over every other estate lawyer out there and this will ruin me. Now let’s just clean this rug and get rid of  Stuart’s body.” 

“What the fuck, Danny! How could you be so stupid?” exclaimed Robert. “Ok, don’t worry. We got thisI’ll scrub the rug and you look for a tarp in the basement. I have an idea. We’ll wrap Stuart in the tarp, put him in his car and you drive it down the back roads. I’ll drive my car down the main road and we’ll meet up near that ditch at Route 9. All we have to do is get him out of the tarp, place him behind the driver’s seat of his car and push it down the ditch. It’ll look like an accident. Then we’ll drive back here in my car. And Danny .. grab some rubber gloves, too.” 

When Daniel returned with the tarp and gloves, the rug was clean. “Good as new!” Robert declared. “Ok, bro. Let’s do this!” 

The brothers met at Route 9. Wearing rubber gloves, they removed the tarp, put Stuart in the driver’s seat of his car making sure the gear was in ‘DRIVE’, then pushed it down the ditch, watching it crash into a tree. On the way home, Robert tossed the tarp and gloves into an incinerator behind a condominium on Route 9. Everything went off without a hitch. 

As they drove back to Daniel’s, Robert cautioned his brother to speak to no one. As if! 

The next day the police discovered Stuart’s car in the ditch but there was no body to be found. 

That evening Daniel got a call. “Hey, partner. You’re a bigger loser than I thought! We’ve got some unfinished business to discuss.” 

Daniel turned white as a ghost. The caller was Stuart, the man he thought killed. 

NAR © 2018

#FSS

THE EIGHTH OF DECEMBER

While cradling my year old son in his bed after a bad dream, I sang softly to him my favorite Beatles song, In My Life. He stared up at me, his blue eyes moist with tears. Slowly his breathing became calm and his eyelids began to flutter. At last he was asleep and I kissed his eyes, removing the last traces of salty droplets as I pulled up his covers.

Closing the door gently behind me, I went back downstairs where my husband Bill was watching Monday Night Football. One look at Bill as he sat on the sofa, his head in his hands, told me his team was playing badly. I kidded him about being so serious about a game but he didn’t react. I softly called his name and when he looked up at me there were tears running down his face.

As I sat next to him he turned to me, took my hands and told me that John Lennon was dead, shot on the doorsteps of his home, The Dakota. I stared at him in shock. Why would he say such a horrible thing? Who would ever want to hurt John?

He turned the tv volume back on; the game had been interrupted by the report of an incident involving John. I fell to the floor sobbing as the reporter droned on about ‘rapid gun shots’ .. ‘police/John/hospital’ .. ‘dead on arrival’.

I cried uncontrollably and kept repeating no! no! no! as my husband held me in his arms and I wailed in unimaginable anguish and disbelief. We sat on the floor for a long time, clinging to each other, unable to stop my tears or unhear the words coming from the tv.

At one point my three year old son crept down the stairs, frightened and wondering what was wrong with mommy. My husband quickly scooped him up and returned him to his room, whispering that mommy was very sad about something she saw on tv and she would be ok tomorrow.

But I was not ok the next day. I was not ok the next week. I was never truly ok after that night. No living, loving soul in the world was ever ok again.

These days, almost 38 years later, as I cradle my son’s babies in my arms and rock them to sleep, I sing In My Life and I remember John. 

NAR © 2018