Perfume

Prompt: Perfume

geese flying

The geese in the park are protected, so the grass and sidewalks are covered in goose shit pellets.

Sometimes they get aggressive.

Sometimes they talk in human voices.

Sometimes when I walk into my house, there is an odor, but only for one breath. A perfume that is gone once it enters my lungs. Someone was there before me, and left no other messages.

Sometimes, when I walk the bike path, the trees bend inward towards me.

The trees are silent; unable to speak except through their leanings and the musical rustle of their leaves.

Sometimes, I hear the geese flying overhead at twilight. They talk in human voices.

The sky turns dark without warning.

Overthinking

Prompt: Roots


Wednesday! Here you are again.

It is spring, and here at home we are cleaning up last year’s weeds and debris, including those insidious roots that run under the grass and sand. We human beings think we are so smart, but roots are smarter. They come back no matter what we do to prevent them, so I have to give roots a lot of credit. We should devote more study to roots and other persistent indestructibles, like cockroaches.

Moving on from nightmare insects, another kind of root is our ancestry… we all have roots in the same primitive family that may have had the very conversation as the first of a group of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon they're all neanderthals


The other cartoons have no connection to the prompt “roots”, but it’s Wednesday, and they are about cats and dogs.

cartoon cat exec with string


cartoon dogs overthinking


Happy Wednesday!

~~FP

Rescue

Prompt: Zip

dog rescue nepal

“So, you’re the parents,” said Bob.

Envy tensed involuntarily. God, Bob, please don’t. We had a talk about your Radical Honesty. Please zip it this one time. Don’t tell my parents what I’ve said about them. Please please.

“Yes,” said Envy’s mother. “We are Envy’s biological parents.” Edwina Applegate was small and energetic, with grey-streaked smokey hair pulled back into a loose bun at the nape of her neck. She wore a very expensive red sheath, that hung upon her spare frame in a perfect, flattering drape. The “biological parents” remark was meant to be amusing. Actually, Envy did smother a tiny smile at her mother’s refusal to take the bait that Bob seemed to be offering, but on the other hand she felt the sting of her mother’s words too, because they implied what Envy knew to be true: that she was a disappointment to them. No one envied her beauty, and no one envied the wealth that her ex-husband had mostly squandered.

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Bob said, honestly, taking her father’s outstretched hand and finding the grip rather overdone, as if Mr Applegate was making a point. He was a big man, his sturdy stoutness disguised by a loose, charcoal-covered sports jacket and an open shirt. He had a healthy crop of light brown hair, probably tinted since there was no grey at all.

While they enjoyed cocktails before dinner, Envy was careful to keep the topics of conversation neutral, knowing Bob’s honest opinion on the wet spring, the number of potholes in suburban and rural roads, and the dearth of fuel efficient cars outside of Europe would not cause offence to anyone.

“I take it Cash and Virginia and the baby aren’t joining us for dinner,” said Envy. She took a sip of her Bloody Mary, suddenly wishing it was bloodier (more alcoholic) and suppressed a sigh.

“Echo has colic,” said Edwina. “And you know your brother.”

“He’s becoming quite the doting mother,” said Darwin Applegate.

Bob’s honesty extended to his facial expressions. He looked surprised.

Envy said quickly, “There’s nothing wrong with Cash loving his baby daughter.”

“I bet you wish you’d had more time to spend with your kids, Mr Applegate,” said Bob. “You know, up-and-coming millionaire and all.”

This was met with an uncomprehending silence, until Envy coughed and said, “Bob trains dogs who rescue people from earthquakes.”

“Like when buildings collapse?” asked Edwina, an unwitting ally.

“Exactly like that,” said Envy.

“Do you personally supervise the excavations?” asked Darwin.

“No,” said Bob. “I just train the dogs.”

“Oh,” said Darwin.

They took their seats in the smaller family dining room. The table cloth was a white embroidered coffee-coloured sateen, with fresh-picked violets packed into three tiny vases set evenly spaced upon the table. They would wilt within a few hours.

A server brought in their dinner, platter by platter; each of them were casually passed around the table. Steak, roasted vegetables, truffled mushrooms.

Envy put her hand in her lap and glanced at her watch. Oh god. Seriously? We’ve only been her forty-five minutes? She looked around the table. No one was smiling. It could be worse, surely?

“This chimichurri is outstanding,” said Bob, making an effort.

“Thank you,” said Edwina. “Our cook, Connie, is from Peru.”

“Legally?” asked Bob.

Envy discreetly reached under the table, put her hand on Bob’s thigh, and squeezed. It was a warning and a plea. Bob took it as encouragement. He put his hand on hers and squeezed back.

“Just what do you mean by that, Bob?” asked Darwin, his voice disturbingly neutral in tone.

“Well I hear a lot of servants are in the country illegally, I mean it is commonplace. Probably all your friends do it too.”

“Connie was hired via a respectable agency,” said Edwina.

“Ah,” said Bob. “Good on you, then.” He lifted his wine glass in a toast, and emptied it in one gulp. He turned to Envy and smiled. His expression was, See? Not so bad after all, right?

Pretty bad, Envy’s eyes told him. She wasn’t sure if he got the message, because as the server was refilling his wine glass, Bob was staring at her mother. Then a quick glance at her father, and back to Edwina again. Woman past her prime. Rich old bigot who dyes his hair.

An odd kind of group telepathy seemed to occur. Edwina looked up and caught his Bob’s eye. Darwin looked at them both. No one looked at Envy. In a flash she knew what Bob was thinking. Don’t say it Don’t say it Don’t say it.

“I believe in family values,” said Darwin abruptly. He knew what this fucking young and ignorant man was thinking, oh yes he did.

“In my experience, family values people are the first ones to cheat on their, uh, spouses,” said Bob. He cut a roasted carrot into tiny pieces. “You know those bible thumper types, always being caught with their pants down.”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Darwin. “We believe in Jesus Christ in this household, and the Church believes in the family above all else.”

“Catholic, right?” asked Bob.

“We are Catholic, yes,” said Envy. Jesus God, if you’re there, help!

“‘We’?” said Bob.

Oops. She hadn’t told Bob that she’d returned to the church after Marcos tried to kill her. Was that an important ommission?

She stood up. “We have to go,” she said.

“Sit down, Envy,” said her father.

“No, we really do. We have tickets,” Envy said. “Bob?”

“If they have tickets, Darwin…” her mother said, the colour starting to return to her face.

Bob stood up. Someone fetched their jackets. Bob didn’t speak again until he said, “It was sure interesting meeting you both,” as they shook hands in parting.

Her parents, not being honesty radicals, were silent.

Nick of Time

Prompt: Chuckle


Dear Wednesday,

Well, “chuckle” is an easy prompt to work with on a Wednesday! Before I present a few of my favourite cartoons, may I share a current favourite joke, which is completely ridiculous, kind of strange, very short, and not very funny?

Q: What is brown and sticky?

A: A stick.

Sorry but it makes me laugh. In a few weeks I will wonder why.

The first cartoon is tangentially related to today’s prompt, and the rest only by virtue of being chuckle-worthy.

cartoon ugly jacket


cartoon met in venice


cartoon desert sale


Laugh! It’s good for you.

~~FP

Miss Monroe Broke Her Toe*

Prompt: Jolt

electical

The illustration accompanying today’s prompt (“jolt”) prompted the above image which, in case you can’t see it, is a gif animation of power towers playing with jump ropes.

I wonder if kids play “skip” any more, or double dutch, or marbles, or hopscotch. Does anyone out there, parent or teacher, have an observation about this? As a child, playtime before school and at recess and lunch revolved around active games. Some of the skipping and double dutch games were detailed and challenging. Where I grew up all the kids had lacrosse balls too: they had multiple uses in games, especially for creative young children. Lacrosse balls are about the size of an orange, very hard with a good bounce.

An interesting thing about skip and marbles, for example, was that anyone at all could play. Get in line for your shot at facing the jump rope. If you didn’t make it, you took your turn looping the the rope for the others to skip. Got some marbles? Set up shop in the playground, or challenge another marble collector.

They were valuable lessons in cooperation, competition, and fair play. I love kids and don’t want to yell at them to get off my lawn, but what comparable activities do they now engage in at school and at play?


*Old skipping song:

Miss Monroe [referencing Marilyn Monroe, though as kids we didn’t realize that]
Broke her toe
Riding on a buffalo
The buffalo died
Miss Monroe cried
And that was the end of the buffalo ride.

Idiots and Geniuses

Prompt: Timely

flower sun

It had been a rough day for the leader of the free world. God damn it, people just didn’t appreciate him. Though many did, lots of people did not. It got confusing sometimes.

Some people said he was incompetent, weak, unqualified. They knew nothing about him and anyway those people were contradicted by others who lauded his policies, decrees, and attempts to shake up the status quo. But the critics annoyed him. He was not incompetent, but a success. He was not weak, he was a powerful man. He was not unqualified, he was a billionaire.

Obviously he relied on staff to guide him, though they were not really as astute as he was. Sometimes they irritated him with their unreasonable expectations. How was he expected to remember everything?

He had made promises which caused people to cheer and exalt him. He had an image to uphold. He knew that ultimately he did know best. He could surround himself with idiots or geniuses, it didn’t matter. He had confidence in himself. He might not have all the facts, he might not have the experience, but he had confidence and smarts.

There happened to be a person who followed him everywhere, always. This person had a device that connected him to two people who had control of the “keys”.

There were always two highly trained people who were each armed with a key and a side arm, always awaiting instruction. If they were given the order, they would simultaneously turn their keys so that ICBMs, or nuclear missiles, would immediately be launched. The key-holders were trained to understand the implications of nuclear treaties and the politics of nuclear weapons. It was important that foreign, and possibly hostile, nations understand that when the order was given, nuclear weapons would in fact be launched. This was and is the deterrent to nuclear war.

Ok, this particular head of state might not know everything about political fine points and international treaties but he knew when a business or a country had to be tough. He was steady in his confidence, even when confused. He fought this fogginess of mind in every meeting and every speech, trying to be as aggressive and single-minded as he always liked to be perceived.

It was late one night and he was up with his television and Twitter feed, and he hadn’t slept for awhile, and had had furious and passionate and confusing meetings with other politicians, and had lost face with one or more foreign dignitaries, his popularity ratings were down, some influential people called him ineffectual— and there before him on the news and trending on Twitter, was an uncompromising act of disrespect by a foreign nation towards the country. More than that, there were personal attacks on him, the leader, and boasts of power and punishment. People on TV called them dangerous, a threat that could not be ignored.

He couldn’t remember exactly but there were other reasons he was angry, really angry, completely justified reasons, even if he couldn’t articulate them.

All he had to do was call on the person with the keys. This person, who would be nearby, would provide the information; the key-holders would be called and told to activate.

They would then immediately launch one or more nuclear missiles.

There were— are— no intermediaries here. The president of the United States has completely unchecked power to launch a nuclear attack, whether defensive or preemptive. No one at all has the power to intervene.

This is fact.

There are apparently bills being introduced that would dilute the dependence of America’s nuclear defence on ICBM silos and which would require congressional approval for a preemptive nuclear launch, which currently is not a prerequisite. These bills have not been supported to date.

As tensions build in Syria and their ally, nuclear power Russia; and potential nuclear power North Korea continues to strut and provoke, recent US displays of unstrategic power by a president who many think is at best inexperienced and at worst mentally unstable, continue to be variously praised and unexamined.

Hug your kids and your friends, right now.

Will Work for Food

Prompt: Pleased

Hi Wednesday!

It is a cold, wet April day, so a good one to think about what pleases us. Being inside, dry, and warm comes to mind; also whiskers on kittens, warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages,  and so on. My dog’s brown eyes are very pleasing.

What pleases God? A tourist ponders this question in the first of a few of my favorite cartoons…

cartoon god pleased


What pleases cats?

cartoon cat will work for food


What…?

cartoon elevator puree


La pace e piacere,

~~FP