Bwahahahahaha!

It’s been a while since I posted about “the life of Laurel.”  Today seemed like a good day to write about it.

It’s been “a rainy night in Georgia” for about eights days now.  I’ve been watching my grass, which unlike corn, is not as high as an elephant’s eye, nor does it resemble the beanstalk that Jack climbed…but it was getting on up there.

It wasn’t raining nor was it cold today, so I decided to hop on my Deere and get to getting (as we Southerners say.)

The first task was opening the garage door.  I have three of them and the one on the end is where I keep the Deere.  It’s a heavy door that swings out and up and I’m not tall enough to get it high enough to “catch,” so I usually get a board, and using my butt, coax it up a bit, put the board against it and then get another one, lifting it just enough for me to do some trick riding on the Deere, (not to be confused with trick riding on a horse.)

Well…the first board I chose was a 2 x 4.  When I tried to put the lighter one up, the 2 x 4 fell and cracked me in the forehead, (not to be confused with my younger daughter’s humongous fivehead.)

I remember thinking, “that hut,” (not to be confused with those little primitive dwellings.)  I also remember thinking, “man.  I just knocked out what few brains I have left, and I was fond of those little pieces of grey matter.”

Anyway, I kept trudging on.  After a few more seconds and a successful erect board (not to be confused with the normal thing associated with erect,) I thought, “holy donkeyballs!  I’m sweating like a nun in a whorehouse!”

I kept wiping my brow and slinging the “sweat” off of my fingers, (never bothering to look at them.)  Eventually, I did notice that my sweat was now dripping on my hands.  Holy headbleed!  I was hemorrhaging!

I coolly and calmly walked in the house, all the while trying to keep my blood from dripping on the floor and made my way to the bathroom.  I watched and cursed as the blood dripped onto the sink I had just yesterday cleaned.

But when I looked in the mirror, I was suddenly distracted by the pretty pink hue my hair had taken on.  I looked like Pink!

Anyway, I wiped and dabbed and dabbed and wiped, all the while thinking I would have a four-foot gash in my head.  After I got it all cleaned up, I saw a hole, (not to be confused with a hole on the golf course.)

I imagine what got me was the nail sticking out of the board.  “Hmm,” I thought.  I went out and finished mowing the lawn and then thought I should probably put something on it.  (Pretty good former EMT.)  I put some alcohol on it, (not to be confused with booze,) and walked to the mailbox.

It’s swollen and it hurts like….well like somebody hit me in the head with a 2 x 4.

I should probably be worried about lock-jaw (which is what we used to call Tetanus.)  I don’t know if alcohol will stop lock-jaw, but hey…if it does, I still have my fingers.

Like Scarlett said…”I won’t think about that today.  I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

 

Pieces Of Life – Claire Bloom – Part Two

She had a movie star name but she didn’t have movie star fame or fortune. She didn’t have movie star looks, although she was often dubbed a “cutie pie.”  She would consistently pout and declare, “I don’t want to be cute.  I want to be glamorous.”

As a young girl, Claire had an unnatural obsession with death.  Finding a dead bird or a field mouse, especially in the final stages of decomposition, fascinated her.  Examining the remains, was like opening a gift on Christmas morning.  She carefully studied what was left of any dried and shriveled up organs, and the skeletal construction of wings and/or appendages.

She dreamed of someday becoming a coroner.  Cutting someone open and poking around was her idea of striking gold.  She would of course, marry a doctor and tease him by saying, “when you kill someone, I will be able to tell you what you did wrong.”

She studied hard and became a coroner, but found true love in the form of a young man named Willis, who was on his way to becoming a Master Electrician.  He was only a journeyman but he was driven and determined.

There was no money to burn, and they lived frugal lives, saving for a brighter future.  Her work day began a few hours before his and every morning, she would pack his lunch before she left for work.

They had fun together, but her sense of humor could sometimes be a little disturbing.  One morning Willis awakened, swung his legs over the side of the bed and noticed a toe tag attached to his right foot.  He shook his head and took it in stride.

Claire loved to talk about him in the break-room.  She’d giggle when she told them about the pranks she pulled on the unsuspecting Willis.  Once, she sent him a registered letter.  When he opened it, he found a certificate of death…his.

One day she came to work and seemed to be a little “not herself.”  In the break-room, she announced that Willis was making her quit her job.

This was the time when roosters ruled the roost and the hens did not yet rule the roosters.  It was the time when, in marriage vows, the woman promised to love, cherish, and “obey.”  Claire was going to obey Willis.

Millie, one of her co-workers asked why Willis was making her quit her job. Claire said, “well, he unpacked his lunch the other day and I had put an ear in it.”

The entire break-room erupted in laughter.  “An ear?” Millie asked.  “Yes,” said Claire.  “Willis was so mad at me, but he wasn’t as mad at me as I was at him.”

Millie asked what she meant.

Claire said, “The ear came from a woman who had donated her body to science, and I didn’t figure she’d be needing it, so I cut it off and took it home.  It had been pierced at one time, so I put one of my earrings on it and packed it in Willis’ lunchbox.”

“And?” Millie asked.

Claire said, “Willis was so mad, he threw the ear away…with my earring on it!”

 

•••

 

 

 

 

 

Pieces Of Life – Old Mr. Hilliard – Part One

Old Mr. Hilliard had been the neighborhood postman for as long as anyone could remember.  In the early days, the saying was, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  That certainly applied to old Mr. Hilliard.

In his youth, he walked proudly, toting his heavy bag, delivering birthday wishes, holiday cards, unwanted sale flyers and the even more unwanted, dreaded bills.  He delivered everything but the kitchen sink, and a newborn baby.

Through the years, old Mr. Hilliard had aged and grown weary.  The spring in his step had disappeared with the spring of his life and now, his swift gate had become an almost painful trudge.

After several years on foot, he was able to complete his rounds in a new truck, but there were still those houses whose mailboxes weren’t standing at attention along the side of the road.  Walking up to the door was becoming more and more difficult, and he viewed the trek as a pestering chore.

Sometimes, when seeing a neighbor, he would politely nod, but the days of stopping and having mundane conversations about how Sally and Bob were doing at school, had long since passed.  Also long since passed, at least for him, was the romantic notion that he was part of a history that hearkened back to the Pony Express.

He had heard the nicknames more than he cared to hear, such as “dogmagnet, postie, messenger of doom,” and the one he despised the most, “the snail man.”

One day, during his appointed rounds, he discovered a side road that led to a quiet patch of land, where an abandoned house stood in silent recluse.  On a whim, he parked, put his feet up on the dashboard and closed his weary eyes.  As he listened to the soft chirping of birds, he drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

He awoke with a start and realized that he was an hour behind in his rounds.  He quickly gathered his senses and continued as if nothing had happened.  Arriving late to the post office, he lied when he told the supervisor that time had escaped him as he was chatting with a new neighbor.  Getting away with only a slight scolding about minding his duties, old Mr. Hilliard grinned as he walked to his car.

Every day, he re-visited that patch of land.  It had become a sort of haven and he found himself anxiously awaiting each stopover.  As the days became shorter, his retreats became longer.

After several months of his coveted, blissful rest and relaxation, he began to realize that he would be unable to deliver the mountainous amount of mail still in the truck, so he decided to throw the contents down the hill behind the house.

Who was going to know?  He told himself that most of it was junk and would eventually end up on a hill of garbage anyway, so he didn’t feel the slightest bit of guilt after the first time.  He got away with it for quite a while, but eventually, people started complaining that they hadn’t received their mail.

The post office investigated and after following old Mr. Hilliard, they discovered more than six thousand pieces of mail at the bottom of the hill.

Due to his age, federal charges were not levied, but he lost his job and his pension.  The judge rendered what he thought was a fitting penalty.  He sentenced old Mr. Hilliard to pick up garbage people threw out on the street… for two years.

•••

The Fantastical Fable Of The One They Called “Mother” Chapter Six

Luke was becoming an enigma.  I didn’t believe that he was a bum, despite his appearance, but I wasn’t sure he was educated or had ever been successful.  He quoted Shakespeare, used big words and now he seemed to have some prophetic sixth sense.

He wasn’t necessarily rude but he wasn’t nice.  He talked but he really didn’t say much of anything.  I got the sense that he wasn’t going to open up to me today.  I also got the sense that he was never going to open up to me.  He was going to remain a mystery and I was going to be left wanting as far as the story of Mother, Older, Middle and Younger.

I sat on my usual spot for almost two hours, watching a sad, old man staring out into space.  He never said a word during our time together and I somehow felt that I shouldn’t invade his solitude.  When I said I needed to get on back home, Luke never said a word.  He didn’t look at me.  He just sat there, like a man who was welcoming a visit from the grim reaper.

The next day, I heard that Luke had died.  My first thought was, “Damnit! Now I’ll never know the story.”  How could I be so selfish?  Of course, I was sad but it wasn’t like I really knew him.  We weren’t friends, and I don’t think he would have cared one way or another if I had come to visit every Friday.

I wondered if I would be allowed to look in his room.  I walked to the Inn and there were a few police officers standing guard.  The coroner had already taken Luke away.  I asked the officers if I would be allowed to go into his room.  They asked if I was a relative and when I said “no,” so did they.

When I asked if they knew him or anything about him, again, they asked if I was a relative.  Like Luke, they weren’t rude but they weren’t overly nice.

There was no funeral or even a service for Luke.  He was cremated and I suspect that his ashes were put in the hole-in-the-wall museum at the end of the street.

I had never taken a class in how to become a criminal but I did know how to pick a lock.  It was something I perfected as a youngster and it had come in handy more than a few times when I inadvertently locked myself out of my house or my car.

On what would have been my regular Friday to visit with Luke, I wandered down the street to the museum.  I went around to the back and to my surprise, the door didn’t even have a lock on it.  I just turned the knob and went inside.

I’m not sure what I saw would be considered a museum.  It certainly wasn’t like any I had ever seen but the more I looked, the more I understood why no one ever went inside.  There wasn’t really much there; just a table and a few boxes in the back of the room.

I did feel a little guilty.  I remembered Luke telling me that I would never know what was in there.  I think he probably felt like it was not my secret to know.  As I continued to walk through, I felt almost like I was treading on something sacred…sort of like invading a Native American burial ground.

I went over to the table and looked in one of the boxes.  It contained some sort of fabric but I couldn’t tell what it was.  I pulled it out and was horrified to see that it was a dress.  It looked as though it had been soaked in what I was sure had to be dried blood.  I quickly returned it to its cardboard casket and started pulling out newspaper clippings from the other box.

“Wow!”  That’s all I could say,  “Wow.”

As I read all the clippings, I thought, “Mother did indeed leave a mark.”  Although it was a tragic one, she’ll surely be remembered, but even more tragic, was the mark left by Luke.

According to the stories, Mother decided to rob the bank with an unloaded gun, left by her ne’er-do-well, johnny-come-lately husband.  Luke, the Younger, found out about her plan and was rushing to stop her but he was too late.  The security guard shot and killed Mother just as Luke arrived.

Enraged, Luke wrestled the gun away from the security guard.  As the guard was trying to run away, Luke shot him in the back, then walked over and shot him in the head.

Luke spent 50 years in Riverbed Maximum Security Prison and had just been released six months before I met him.  Older and Middle left town and were never heard from again.

The great irony is that Mother was by all rights, a good woman.  All she wanted to do was make a mark.  All she wanted to do, was be remembered.

She’ll be remembered but she’ll be remembered for being the reason her son spent almost his entire life behind bars.

I imagine the monument is there to remind people that there are better ways to leave a mark in the world.  There are better ways to be remembered.  It might be better for her to have just been forgotten than to be remembered as the person who would unknowingly sacrifice so much, simply to be remembered.

 

Karshen.

 

 

 

 

The Fantastical Fable Of The One They Called “Mother” – Chapter Five

The names were swirling around in my brain.  Mary, Matthew, Mark and Luke.  Those were all old Biblical names.

Then it struck me.  Was Luke the Luke I was talking with?  Is that the reason he seemed to have such intimate knowledge about them?  He never confirmed nor denied that he was one of the children Mother used to entertain, so was it possible that he was the Older, or the Middle, or the Younger?

Before I could translate my thoughts into actual words, Luke clutched the brown paper bag, stood up, went inside and closed the door.  I wondered if I would be welcome the next week.  I wondered if Luke would be forthcoming if I asked him straight out if he was one of the “younguns.”   If I did ask, I wondered if I would again, be crossing a line.

On my way home, I had a chat with myself.  All the possibilities.  All the probabilities.  All the coincidences.  All the reasonableness and all the unreasonableness.  The part of me who was partaking in the mock debate didn’t have any answers, but I was leaning toward believing that Luke was not one of the children Mother entertained.  I believed that Luke was one of Mother’s children.

Then again, it didn’t make sense.  He didn’t make sense.  According to what he had told me, Mother had raised three fine “younguns.”  If he was one of them, what happened to him?  And where were the others?

Had he taken a wrong turn somewhere in his life?  Had they?  If they had turned out to be like their father, ne’er-do-well, Johnny-come-latelies, why would there be a monument to their mother?  I had never heard of someone having their likeness cast in bronze because they had raised three “fine” children, or three ne’er-do-wells.

There had to be a back story and I believed that Luke was the one who knew it.  I also remembered the town motto:  “IF you share, share and share alike.”  He had already told me that I would never know what was in the museum but maybe I could coax a little more “sharing” from him about the family.

Before I chanced my next visit, I stopped to look at the large, metal woman standing in front of City Hall.  There was no inscription, other than “Mother.”  There were no dates.  There were no words citing praise for accomplishments.  There were no words reflecting that she had raised three “fine” children.  There was nothing.

A few people glanced my way as they journeyed through town, but a quick glance was all they offered.  I imagined they all knew the story of Mother and maybe they thought that I knew the story, too.

I got to The Whole Year Inn and Luke, as always, was sitting outside on the stoop in front of the door.  I was a bit worried that he might get up and go inside as soon as he saw me, but he didn’t.

Before I could say anything, he looked at me for just a split second and looked away as he said, “I’m not long for this world.”

I was shocked and a little saddened.  I remembered hearing those exact words from my grandpa, a few weeks before he left us.  I also knew that some animals have a sense about their mortality.  They tend to go off somewhere, lay down and die.

My sadness was quickly replaced with selfishness as I thought, “I hope he stays around long enough to tell me the story of Mother.”

I finally asked Luke exactly what he meant.  He looked annoyed and said, “I’m not long for this world.”  When I asked why he thought that, he said, “sometimes you just know.”

 

To be continued_________________

 

 

The Fantastical Fable Of The One They Called “Mother” – Chapter Four

The next Friday rolled around and I thought I might soften my intrusion into Luke’s personal life with another bottle of whiskey.  I was never one to beat around the proverbial bush, so after I handed him the brown paper bag, I came right out and asked…”how do you know so much about Mother…and Older…and Middle…and Younger?”

He completely ignored my question and began talking about Mother.

“Mother,” he said “was the finest woman I ever knew.  She didn’t have a mean bone in her body but like I said, you didn’t want to disappoint her.  There was a sadness in her…a sort of emptiness that you could only detect when she thought nobody was looking.  I think she always wanted more for herself but she ofttimes went without.  She wanted her younguns to have it all and she wanted them to shine.  She would say that every human being on the planet was here for a reason and we should all leave our mark and make the world a little bit better than it was when we came into it.”

I asked if he supposed that was the reason she wanted to “leave her mark.”

“I suppose,” he said, “but after a while, it became almost all-consuming. Raising younguns on her own and being determined to have them leave their mark sort of took a back seat to her own wants and wishes.”

Luke shook his head and laughed as he said, “Bonnie and Clyde.  I don’t think anybody thought Mother had ever even heard about them, but she had it in her mind that they had become these romantic, heroic figures.”

“Was she getting senile?” I asked.  Luke said, “I don’t know if it was senility or just the feeling of not mattering anymore.  Maybe she thought she didn’t have a legacy to leave behind.  She didn’t have much, and what she had certainly wasn’t going to be passed down for future generations to appreciate and cherish.  Of course, what she didn’t know was that the few things she did have would end up in a museum.”

I said, “but the museum is a little hole in the wall and not open to the public.”  Luke said, “yep.  That’s right.”

I asked if he knew what was in the museum and as soon as I finished the question, I knew by the look on his face, that I had overstepped an invisible mark.  He replied with a curt, “yes. I do.  But you’ll never know.”

I tried to act like I hadn’t just committed the ultimate faux pas and asked if he knew Mother’s, the Older’s, the Middle’s and the Younger’s real names.

After a few minutes of silence, he said, “Mother’s name was Mary.  Older’s name was Matthew.  Middle’s name was Mark.  And Younger’s name was Luke.

 

 

To be continued_____________

The Fantastical Fable Of The One They Called “Mother” – Chapter Three

I wasn’t sure what to make of Luke’s answer.  Maybe it was a polite way of telling me that what I asked was none of my business.  If I was a betting man, I would bet that he had been one of those children Mother entertained.

The next Friday, I went to get my “fix” from Luke.  I often wondered if he was just a storyteller.  Someone who liked a bit of company.  Someone who, nearing the winter of his life, wanted to spend part of his days weaving tapestries of legends and folklore, whether true or fabricated. Whatever the case, he and his stories were certainly captivating.

“Mother,” he began, “was a force of nature.  A spitfire.  A firecracker and she possessed a cogency not found in most.”

I was too embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what cogency meant, and like quoting Shakespeare, Luke was now using what my mother used to call “fifty-cent words.”

At first glance, Luke looked like an ordinary, disconnected bum.  He was unkempt, uncaring, uninteresting, uninvolved and now, unbelievable…because clearly, he was not an ordinary bum.

I learned about the early lives of the Older, the Middle and the Younger.  It no longer seemed strange to me that these children had no names and I almost found it endearing somehow.  Luke spun the tales of each one like an intricate spiderweb, and as they came to life in my imagination, it was as if I would recognize them if I passed them on the street.

At eighteen, Older was no longer skipping school or disappointing Mother, and became the father figure of the house.  He became a fine young man and was the template for Middle and Younger to follow when they entered manhood.

It seems that Mother raised them to be strong, independent “forces of nature,” in their own right, and from the way Luke described their lives, they became successful in whatever endeavor they pursued.

He paused and said, “after the younguns grew up and flew the coop, Mother seemed to have lost her purpose somehow.”

I asked what he meant and he said, “they had dinner together every Sunday afternoon, without fail and without excuse.  One night, Mother seemed to be pontificating about her life.  She felt as though she hadn’t done anything to ‘leave a mark’, as she put it.”

“Older and Middle queried how she could feel that way, as she had done such a wonderful job, raising three younguns.”

Luke laughed out loud when he said, “she surprised them when she said, ‘think about Al Capone and John Dillinger’.”

He said Older, Middle and Younger looked at her the way she used to look at them when they said something inappropriate and said, ‘but Mother, they were gangsters’.”

Still chuckling, he said “Mother said, ‘well what about Bonnie and Clyde? They left a mark and people still talk about them to this very day’.”

“Older and Middle laughed and said, ‘but Mother…they were killers’.”

Luke laughed again and said, “Mother said, ‘I know, but they left a mark. They will always be remembered.  Did you know that 30 thousand people went to their funerals?  Thirty thousand!  Do you think that many people will come to my funeral?  Who’s going to remember me’?”

“Older, Middle and Younger said, ‘why we will, Mother.  We’ll remember you’.”

He said Older, Middle and Younger tried to convince Mother that she had left an indelible mark, but for some reason, she couldn’t be consoled.

“I guess when you get old and look back on your life,” he said, “that’s the kind of thing you think about.  Did I do enough?  Was I good enough?  Will anybody remember me?  Will anybody put flowers on my grave?”

I think Luke was thinking about himself.  I think he was wondering if he had left a mark…if anybody would remember him…if anybody would put flowers on his grave.

It was time for me to go home but I had already decided that I wanted to know more about Luke.  The question was…would he tell me?

 

To be continued___________

 

The Fantastical Fable Of The One They Called “Mother” – Chapter Two

I got as comfortable as I could, sitting on the hard concrete step in front of Luke’s door and said, “Okay Luke.  Let ‘er rip.”

He stared off into space and began to speak, almost as if he was talking to himself, the way old people tend to do when they don’t have anyone else to talk to.

“I don’t believe anybody ever knew her real name”, he said.  “She was just always ‘mother’.  She was born in 1920, and as a young girl she and her family survived the great depression.  I think it made her value what little she had a bit more than most.  She was frugal but generous.  More often than not, she would go without so that her younguns would have.”

“When she walked to the fresh fruit market and saw a strawberry or an undersized orange laying on the ground, she’d pick it up and say, ‘willful waste makes woeful want’.”

“She married a ne’er do well, johnny come lately, who was more interested in laying around giving orders than getting a job.  So five years and three younguns later, Mother being Mother, got up one day and said, ‘get your lazy butt out of here’.”

All the neighborhood younguns loved her and would hang out at her house until plumb almost nighttime.  She baked cookies, told them stories, gave them advice and taught them how to pray.  She called them by their name but everybody got a kick out of what she called her own younguns.”

I interrupted and asked, “What did she call them?”

Luke smiled and said, “Older, Middle and Younger.  I don’t know if anybody every knew their real names either.  She’d holler, ‘Older!  Come in now and help me with Middle and Younger’.”

“She was a kind woman, who would give you the shirt off of her back, but if you messed with one of her younguns, you’d come closer to living if you met a mama bear with her cubs.  She was ferociously protective when it came to her younguns.”

“She lived by the Golden Rule and she raised her younguns to do the same.”  He grinned and said, “that doesn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t get up to some mischief now and then.”  He smiled even broader and said, “I remember when Older skipped school one day, and went fishing.  Oh, boy!  When Mother found out, he got the ‘talking to’.”

“The talking to?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” he said.  “She said, ‘if that don’t beat all.  You’re lucky I ain’t studyin’ about gettin’ me a hickory switch and whomping your fanny!  You were raised better than that!  Sneakin’ off and skippin’ school.  Do you know how lucky you are to be able to go to school?  Do you know how lucky you are that some teacher is willin’ to teach you some learnin’?  I wished I’m a die!  I ain’t never seen the beat in my life.  Actin’ like you ain’t got the good sense the Lord gave you.  Now, you go in your room and you think about that very thing’.”

Luke laughed and said, “Mother had a way of reverting back to her true, backwoods Southern roots when she was angry…but nobody ever heard her say a curse word.”

“She was strict and stern,” he said, “but she never laid a hand on those younguns.

After Older got into trouble, he asked if she was mad at him.  Mother looked at him and said, ‘no, Older.  I’m not mad.  I’m disappointed’.”

Luke looked down and said, “Disappointing Mother was like a mortal sin.  I think feeling that hickory switch would have been better than seeing disappointment in Mother’s eyes.”

It was nearing time for me to go back home and after a minute of thinking, I said, “How do you know so much about Mother and Older and Middle and Younger?  Were you one of the children who used to go to her house?”

Luke quietly said, “Okay.”

 

To be continued__________

 

 

The Fantastical Fable Of The One They Called “Mother” – Chapter One

When I was 38, I moved to Knockemstiff, Tennessee.  Knockemstiff was a small, quiet little town, neatly nestled into the Blue Ridge mountains, boasting cool clean air and glorious vistas.

After getting settled in, I ventured into town to meet a few of the locals. Showing true Southern hospitality, they were delightfully friendly and welcoming.  They were also more than willing to share tales of legends, lore, lust and weren’t at all shy about indulging in local gossip.

I was amused when Luke, the frail little man who sat in a rocking chair in front of his shabby room at “The Whole Year Inn” motel, told me how the name “Knockemstiff” came to be.

“As I recollect,” he said, “a lady in the congregation asked the preacher how to keep her husband from cheating on her and he said, ‘knock him stiff’.”

He laughed and said, “now our town motto here is; ‘IF you share, share and share alike’.”  I didn’t know if he was having me on about anything he said, and I didn’t really care.  I found him to be entertaining.

He was a funny little fellow and I liked him, despite the fact that he looked and smelled like he had never seen a bar of soap, or a tube of toothpaste.

I seemed to gravitate toward him.  Maybe it was because he was so amusing, or maybe there was an element of pity.  I had never seen anyone else talk to him and his eyes told me that he was lonely.

As weeks went by, there were the usual tales of strange lights in the sky, monsters in the lakes and phantom werewolves howling at the moon, but the one that captured my interest was “The Legend of Mother.”

Luke “introduced” her to me as a celebrated, almost romanticized figure.  A bronze statue of her likeness stood in front of City Hall, surrounded by perennial flowers that once a year, came to life just as her story did.  Every year, there was a parade, called simply “The Mother Parade.”

A museum dedicated to her, occupied a small room in the back of a run down building at the end of the street, but it was off limits to the public for some unknown reason.

I admit that it wasn’t beyond the scope of my moral principles to indulge in gossip, although I did draw the line if said gossip was blatantly hurtful, or completely unfounded.

Luke and I met every Friday afternoon.  Sometimes I would pick up a bottle of cheap whiskey, not because he was what I would consider a heavy drinker, but to just to see his tired, lonely eyes temporarily light up.  He never failed to take the brown paper bag that held the bottle, but he never took a swig in front of me.

He never offered any personal information about himself, and I never pried although I was curious about this slight man who seemed to have absolutely no purpose in life, other than guarding the door to his room.

In return, he never asked me why or how I had come to the sleepy little town of Knockemstiff.  I didn’t know if he was just not interested or if he respected my personal space.

My story wasn’t what I would call particularly interesting.  I was just an average man, trudging through life, like we all do, but I did enjoy hearing stories about other people.  I guess, in a way, I was living vicariously through them, but not because I found no meaning in my life.  I just found some people to be fascinating.

One Friday I asked Luke to tell me the story about Mother.

He looked at me and said, “well, alright, but you have to understand that her story is much like one of those movies you see.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He said, “You know, those movies you’re watching, thinking, ‘this is much ado about nothing’, and then when you get to the end, you think, ‘weeping Jesus on the cross’!”

I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.  Luke who, for all intents and purposes, was just some man who spent all of his time sitting around, “doing nothing,” is now quoting Shakespeare.

I had picked up quite a few Southern-isms and my first reaction was “holy hairy donkey balls!”

 

 

To be continued____________