Tag Archives: many voices

Love, Joy & Miracles…Conclusion

On the 9th day of Christmas: the conclusion of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Previous paragraphs can be found in “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy & Miracles.”)

“Yeah, go figure. For years we hardly talk and when we do, it’s on the phone and only about sports or work.” He pauses; bites his lower lip. “I didn’t see this day coming.” His voice quivers with emotion; he looks away. “It was as if Dad knew last night was his last.”

Dizzy, Wendell heads for the chair near the window. “I need to sit…just for a minute.” He plops down and runs fingers through his thinning hair.

“Do I need to get one of the nurses,” Cliff asks.

Wendell fans himself with the envelope. “I’m fine. So much has happened…so much I’m having a hard time explaining.”

“I know.” Cliff puts his palm over the pocket holding the letter. “It’s as if Dad wanted to set things right. But how did he know he was out of time?”

“Luck or coincidence, I guess.”

“Or a miracle.”

Wendell stares at the envelope, unable to wrap logic around the day’s events.

Cliff steps to the threshold and halts. He keeps his back to Wendell. “You must think I’m a pretty lousy son.” Voice cracks. “Never coming to visit…”

Cliff wags his head as self-contempt delivers jaw-shattering blows.

 “Don’t blame yourself,” Wendell counsels while fingering the envelope. “It’s not what Ira would have wanted. Didn’t his letter say as much? Besides, it takes two to tango.”

Cliff wipes his eyes. Then, without looking back, says: “It was nice to finally meet you, Mr. Bennett. He spoke very highly of you.”

“As he did you, Cliff.”

 Wendell runs a finger around the edge of the envelope. Time is a blur and he is oblivious to the woman standing in the doorway.

“Is everything all right,” Ruth asks. “Cliff told me you got dizzy.”

“I’m fine,” he sighs as he pushes up from the chair. “Just a lot to process in one morning.”

She spies the envelope. “What’s that?”

“Something from Ira.”

“Aren’t you going to open it?”

“Later.” He tucks it in his shirt pocket. “Besides, I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about.”

Her brow furrows and she tilts her head to study him.

Wendell stares at the empty wheelchair.

“Ruth, do you believe in miracles?”

 Her head rights and she perks up. “Yes. Do you?”

 He takes in her sapphire eyes. “So tell me again: what time is the Christmas service?”

 She smiles, stands on her toes, and kisses his cheek.

 

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Love, Joy & Miracles; Day 8

On the 8th day of Christmas: the continuation of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Previous paragraphs can be found in “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy & Miracles.”)

The south corridor is darker than usual, which is no surprise to Wendell: Doors remain shut when someone dies. Some hide. Some mourn. Some—like kids trying to ward off the Boogie-man—hope that wood, varnish, and steel will delay their fate.

Only one door is open. Yellow light spills into the gloomy corridor. He makes his way to Ira’s room and peers in.

The bed is made. A wheelchair sits in the corner. The room is empty.

A middle-aged man emerges from the bathroom holding some toiletries and spots Wendell hovering in the doorway.  

  “May I help you,” he asks as he makes his way to the bed where a duffel bag sits.

 “Ira Rubin. Is it true? He’s gone?”

 The man stashes the toiletries in the bag. “Went in his sleep.” He zips it shut. “Were you a friend?”

“I suppose, although now that I think about it, I wasn’t a very good one.”

The man grabs the bag and heads for the door. He extends his hand to Wendell. “I’m Cliff Rubin, Ira’s son.”

Wendell stares in disbelief at Cliff’s hand and then into his face. Hooked nose, close-set eyes, piercing gaze. Just like Ira.

He throws off his doubts, regains his wit, and shakes Cliff’s hand. “I’m Wendell Bennett. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Cliff sucks in air and gives a solemn nod. He reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a white envelope.

“He left this for you.”

“What’s inside,” he asks, fearing the worst news possible.

“No idea; yours is sealed shut, just like mine was.” He taps the pocket holding his letter. “Kinda how he lived: all sealed up, keeping everyone away, all his thoughts secret.” Finger tap, tap, taps. “I sat on his bed for over an hour working up the courage to open it.” He pauses and draws in a deep breath. “Figured it was a suicide note.”

“Suicide…” Wendell staggers against the doorframe.

 “No,” Cliff says as he helps Wendell maintain his balance. “That came out wrong. I thought it was, but it turns out to be an apology.”


Love, Joy & Miracles; Day 7

On the 7th day of Christmas: the continuation of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Previous paragraphs can be found in “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy & Miracles.”

The next morning, Wendell Bennett shuffles down the north wing of Villa Velencia. Up ahead is a women’s silhouette. He shields his eyes for a better look and inches out of the shadow. She recognizes him and approaches with sure steps. Wendell, uncertain who she is, stops. She closes the gap and buries her face into his flannel shirt. Ruth’s perfume is intoxicating and he relishes her body close to his, but is unable to fathom why she’s embracing him.

“He’s gone,” she whimpers.

“Who’s gone?”

She releases him and pulls out a Kleenex to dot her eyes. “Ira. He passed in his sleep.”

“He…died?”

“I came to you as soon as I heard. You were his only friend.”

She let the moment hang and notes the pain crossing his face like a dark cloud.

She touches his arm. “I know he was annoying, but you should have heard him talk about you.”

Wendell takes in her eyes that dazzle like sapphires.

“Oh, how he admired you,” she gushes. “Said he’d never met a smarter man. Couldn’t wait to get helped into his wheelchair every morning just so he could talk with you. You gave him such joy. Did you know that?”

Wendell stares at the floor, his mind a whirlwind of questions. In a flash, he remembers their bet.

“The miracles,” he mumbles.

“What?”

“I need to see him.”

“You can’t; they’ve already taken him to the funeral home.”

Wendell raises his eyes. “I still need to see his room.”

Ruth leads him by the hand toward The Commons. They reach the south corridor, and Wendell pats her hand.

“I need to go alone.”

She considers arguing the point but lets him go.

He waddles away as “Little Drummer Boy” fades into “O Holy Night.”


Love, Joy & Miracles; Day 6

Merry Christmas!

On the 6th day of Christmas: the continuation of the short story, The Miracle Man. (Previous inserts can be found under “Past Posts” under “Love, Joy, & Miracles.” )

“Well if he’s in the kitchen, I want to file a complaint.”

“You just don’t get it, do you?”

Wendell sets his mug down. Jaw line is tight. “Look. I’m glad you’ve found something that gives you purpose, even joy, but it would take a miracle for me to believe again.”

  “A miracle?” There was excitement in Ira’s voice.

 Wendell crosses his arms. “I was speaking hypothetically.”

 “Hey, you started this. So I’m curious: what would you call a miracle?”

“Boy! For a guy with tubes crammed up his nose, you sure are a cocky-cuss!”

“And I thought a hot-shot lawyer like you would be more open-minded.”

“I am open-minded, Ira. I just know the difference between fantasy and reality.”

“So you’re scared.”

“Of what?”

“Truth. Love. Peace. Joy.”

“Please!”

“But what if miracles happen? Wouldn’t that make you consider another verdict about God?”

“Okay,” Wendell snaps; nostrils flare. “You want a miracle? I’ll give you one, but remember: You brought this on yourself.”

Wendell surveys the room and considers his options. He zeroes in on the group sitting off from the others. His years as a prosecutor kick in and he formulates his case in a matter of seconds, and as was his custom, begins with a feint. “I want God to give them joy.” He gestures at the woman cursing like a sailor. “Or make ole what’s-her-name shut up.”

Wendell turns, eyes narrow, and he delivers the real terms. “Better yet, how about a miracle for me and…” He points an index finger at Ira. “You.”

Ira doesn’t bat an eye. “Such as?”

“I want Ruth to give me a hug and a kiss tomorrow. And not something done in the spirit of Christmas, but the real deal.”

 Ira rubs his chin, whether to counter or in wonderment, Wendell is unable to discern.

  “And for you…” Wendell raises his finger like he did when making his closing arguments. “I want your son to visit on the same day.”

Ira’s eyes widen. “My son?” His voice is hollow.

“Yes. The one who never visits because of your quarrel.”

 Ira bites his lower lip.

Wendell sneers and sweeps an arm like a symphony conductor. “There, you see? Those can’t happen, not by tomorrow, so let the matter—”           

“I had a dream…”

Wendell’s arm plops to his side. “Ira, seriously, let it go.”

Ira gets a far away look. Fingers drum his chin as he mulls over Wendell’s requests. “Okay,” he says with a head nod, “tomorrow.”

Wendell’s mouth drops open in shock. “Tell me you’re joking!”

Ira’s determined expression tells him otherwise.

“Then you’re a bigger fool than I thought!”

“Perhaps.” Ira’s voice is silky-smooth. “But I’ll risk it all if it means you find joy this Christmas.”

Wendell’s blood boils, and he clinches his fists. “Then let’s raise the ante: if the

miracles don’t happen tomorrow, you promise to never, and I do mean never, talk to me about religion again.”

“And if they do?”

Wendell rolls his eyes. “They won’t.”

“Hey, a bet is a bet.”

“Fine.” He plants his hands on his hips. “I’ll go to the Christmas service.”

Ira considers his offer and gives him a faint smile. “Good. Then it’s settled.”

He flicks his joystick and rolls away.

Wendell stares after him in disbelief. “It’s not going to happen, Miracle Man.”

Ira rounds the corner and the oxygen tank chimes down the hall.


Curse or Blessing?

Continuation of Tears of Min Brock

As a teen, have you ever questioned your parent’s way of life? Or wondered if rebellion would be your curse or your blessing? Read on to find out what our heroine, Elabea, decides. Need to catch up? Check out “Past Posts.”

The shaft was clear and glistened like dew while the fletchings were unique colors: the cock feather was yellow while the hen feathers were orange.

This isn’t an Ebonite arrow, she noted. Their shafts are wooden and the feathers black and white. More proof that the Moon King isn’t from Ebon.

Before her thoughts could fade, his mystical face flashed in her imagination. I never saw him shoot this, but who else could have done so?

The rustling paper stirred her curiosity.

Of course, if I take it, I risk violating the Oracles, but this wouldn’t be the first time.

Elabea glanced pensively back at her parents.

Besides, I’ve been going to the oak for most of my life. Nothing has ever happened to us, even when Galadin and I dared to ask to hear a whisper.

Stepping outside, she shut the door and stretched her fingers toward the shimmering shaft. Flesh touched parchment. Tingles raced up her arm. Startled, she jerked her hand away.

The Cauldron’s never known about us at the oak. How will it know now? What harm could come?

She yanked the arrow free.

Nothing happened.

She untied the leather and unrolled the parchment. Even as a simple girl from Allsbruth, she knew that the paper’s thickness and weight were proof it was an expensive quality. Exquisite black etchings were on one side, except for six that were gold.

I wish I could read! she bemoaned.

Drawn to the golden letters, she ran her finger across the marks. Suddenly, a whisper pierced the winds.

“Elabea!”

She shuddered and withdrew her finger.

“Galadin?” she demanded, looking this way and that for her best friend, who was noted for playing practical jokes. Only the wind answered.

Regaining her senses, she went back inside and closed the door.

“I told you I saw something last night!” Elabea boasted as she held the parchment and arrow high.

Areall’s eyes widened as if seeing a specter. She sprang and snatched them from Elabea’s hands.

“What have you done?” Areall scolded as she raced to the door. “What have you done!”

She heaved the arrow outside and slammed the door shut. “Your curiosity will bring death to us!” She darted to the fireplace.

Startled by her mother’s erratic behavior, Elabea asked, “What are you doing?”

“This is a curse!” she yelled as she crumpled the parchment. “It goes against the teachings of the Oracles!” She tossed it into the flames. “I must destroy it before…”

She let her sentence fade, as if satisfied that the fire would quell any uprising their daughter had instigated. Areall returned to her chores as if nothing had happened.


“I’m NOT a Girl!”

It happened just the other day…again!

Someone thought I was a girl.

No, not by the way I look or dress or walk, but simply based upon the sound of my voice.

Since most of you have never met me, and since the words I’m typing  cannot “sound” and thus you can’t hear me (by the way, if you can, please seek medical attention immediately!) you’ll have to take my word for it that I have an odd sounding voice.

You’d think that I’d be used to it by now.  After all, I’ve had it since, gee, let me think…  And yet, invariably, the sales call or the McDonald’s drive-through reply of, “Thank you, Ma’am!” slams the truth home: I don’t sound like I think I sound!

My voice has been compared to that of Joe Pesci or Ty Pennington’s (sorry, fellas!) and when I sing (I use the term loosely!) I can imitate Geddy Lee from Rush.  Flattering?  Sometimes.  Fun to showcase at parties?  You bet!  And yes, getting a room full of folks to laugh is great, but it doesn’t heal the sting, no, the emotional trauma caused by those sanguine drive-through greeters…

“Ma’am, would you like to Super Size that?”  “No! I want to Super Size your your thick skull before I crack you one!”

And unlike bad breath or rude etiquette, I can’t change or fix it; I’m stuck with this tone!  I suppose I could fashion some hi-tech gizmo with digitized voices and wear it 24/7.  No one would dare call me “Ma’am” or “Mrs Lowder” with the testosterone-laced voice of James Earl Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Clint Eastwood!  And the annoying sales call?  I’d have them cowering beneath their cubicle wishing their momma was nearby!

Years ago, I’d defend myself brashly with retorts like: “I’m Mr. Lowder!” or “I’m NOT a girl!”  But the years have worn me down.  Now, I simply answer their question, or order the latte, all the while wagging my head like the beaten old hound that I am.

And then I go home, fire up my computer and pour out my wrath on them in my stories.

Hey, you’ve got to get your motivation from somewhere.

Vengeance is mine, saith the writer.  Mighty is the pen!


“Why’d You Shoot My Dog?”

Rounding the bend, I saw the sign and slowed my bike for a better look.  It was staked in the front yard of a gorgeous country home.  I often pass this idyllic neighborhood when cycling and dream of one day living out here.  A peaceful river gurgles on one side of the road; expensive homes sit on ten acre lots; Tennessee’s rolling hills paint a serene backdrop.

But then there was the sign.  Professionally made, it said something to the effect of, “To the person that shot my dog, could you please tell me why?”

My image of the perfect neighborhood was shattered.  Violence like this doesn’t…shouldn’t happen out in the country! This sorta thing happens in low-rent districts or trailer parks, NOT here.

But it did.  And judging by the tone of the sign, I imagined this dog to be a gentle creature, one that would wag his tail and lick you incessantly.  Sure, like many country dogs, he probably wandered off a bit too much.  But is that any reason to shoot him?

I biked past the same area yesterday.  The sign was gone.  But in reality, you can never remove a sign like this.  It will forever tarnish this quaint neighborhood with the image of a bullet, a dog, and the answer to its lingering question…

Evil lurks everywhere, even in pastoral settings like this.


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