Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You Must Believe

With the greatest of care, I opened the Book of Dresh, a book that had been handed down through the generations with the highest regard for secrecy and protection. It was an ancient book, with ancient stories and even more ancient secrets.
My daughter was sitting with her legs crossed on the couch, looking at me expectantly, her breaths shallow little gasps as she saw the intricate detail in the hand-drawn artwork, the feathery-light pages and beautiful, bold script.
"Daddy, that has to be the most beautiful book in the world, I bet it must be magical."

I offered her a weak smile by way of reply, sat down next to her on the fairy blanket that lay draped across the couch, "You know, sweetness, that are you right - this is a magical book. Not only do you read this book and follow the story with the amazing pictures, if you believe in the story - truly believe - then you will be transported to all the magical places in this book. There are sights, sounds and smells that I will never forget in here. Friends I have made from other places and times that still exist to this day. But remember darling, for that to happen, you have to believe."

My daughter's eyes blazed like the fire in the hearth. "You know Daddy, I do believe - I believe in many things; you, fairies, elves, witches, goblins and all sorts of things. Can we start now Daddy, can we?"
"Of course we can, darling...which story shall we read first? Let's start at the beginning, that is always the best place to start." My daughter placed her head against my arm and waited for me to begin.

As I began reading, I could feel the pull of the wonderous, the attraction of the beautiful and the magnetism of the otherworldly. I could see the faint light in the distance, heralding our arrival in Dresh, the land of dreams. But once the swirling mists had cleared, I discovered I was alone, that the land was pure white and plain, and that the portal that had brought me here - which was available until I was ready to return - had disappeared.

"I thought you believed," I cried in despair, and I could almost hear the sound of the book closing for the final time.

More Bang For Your Buck

Coffee at Nana Jones' cafe was a traditional start to his morning. He felt comfortable there, amongst friends, even though he barely knew anyone's full name; Ryan the accountant, who always had a latte and toast every morning at 7.45am; Mrs. Devine who sat on the front porch and smoked her cigarettes and drank umpteen cups of coffee and did little else; Mr. Ross, the miner who called in after a long day in the pit for a Workman's Breakfast; and Nana Jones herself, although barely old enough to have had children of her own, enjoyed using the moniker of her late grandmother.

Kelley, the morning-shift waitress, approached him, her slightly tanned arms laden with serving trays, her sky-blue uniform pulled tight against her hips as she leaned forward to place his breakfast on the table before him. She smiled and they chatted for a few minutes about the weather and the horrible things that the politicians were getting away with, then went back to serving other customers - probably dishing out the same chit-chat that she had afforded him. He stared at Kelley for a few minutes, watching the quick smile appear on her face, the easy manner she had with customers and, if he did say so himself, very nice legs.

An enormous BOOM! echoed through the cafe, shattering windows, upturning furniture and causing all but one person to scurry for cover - screams filled the cafe as the building across the road, the Court House, was quickly engulfed in flames. The man just sat there, dusted himself off, smiled a wry grin, nodded his head ever-so-gently and retuned to his attention to the newspaper.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Naming Baby

Mother and father had arrived to see the new baby. My wife Ostkaalkaluvilee and I had become parents for the first time and my parents had arrived on the first available star-jumper.
"So, tell us, darling, what have you decided to call your child?"
I took a deep breathe, realising that this wasn't going to go too well. "We have decided to call him Bob."
A look of bemusement quickly turned to shock, then horror as my mother sat up straight in her chair. I could feel the tidal wave of disgust hit me before she even said a thing.
"Pavilylo Paleeonaloloonapaso, in the name of all that is sacred in the Five Worlds, what were you thinking? That's not a name for a Skurantariag. Where did you come up with a name like...Bob?" I could see the disappointment in my father's face, but he was smart enough to stay out of the argument and let Mother deal with it.
"Mother Paleeonaloloonapaso, Pavilylo and I decided long ago that if we were to breed, we were going to break the tradition of many centuries and name our children simply. The amount of time taken just signing in to each Stardock is incredible and we thought that this was the best way to go, with his future in mind."
Father stood up, and with an almost imperceptible nod of his head, Mother quickly followed, but she couldn't resist one parting shot.
"Bob? BOB? He will be ridiculed his whole life. I hope you are both happy with yourselves."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Justice Is Served, Sir.

His arrogant defense, his shameless cries of innocence, his smug smile, all came to naught as the judge confirmed what everyone, including the lawyers on both sides, had expected. His crime had shocked the community. Justice is served but his sentence, still to be decided, can never fit the crime.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The View From The Street

Crowds lined every available vantage point in the city to watch for the arrival of the next President. Despite the cold, people had been lined up since early morning, eager for a view of the man who would hopefully make their lives safer and more financially secure.

Gordon Thompson watched all this from the shadows of a shop awning, knowing full well he wouldn’t be accepted by the masses. No, he wasn’t a Republican, nor was he a criminal, (although, to Gordon’s mind, these were one in the same). He was just a man who had had a hard time under the soon-to-be ex-President. He had lost everything he owned during the financial crash – his wife and three young children had left him when he lost his job, he lost his house and car as well. He, too, should be lining the streets, flag in hand, cheering on the coming of the new Messiah, for that was the feeling here on the street, an almost religious fervor swept up and down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Suddenly, a mass of arms were raised, fingers pointing down the Avenue, as a few vehicles were able to be made out in the distance. People crushed forward, testing the strength of the barriers that had been put in place and the young and the weak were being crushed under the weight of the shifting mass. Gordon stepped back into the mouth of an alley, to keep his distance, to be away from the possible stampede that surely would begin at any moment.

As the vehicles, and now what appeared to be the President-in-Waiting and his entourage, neared the juncture where Gordon was standing, a crescendo of cheering, whistling and screaming reached its peak, and no sooner had the crowd begun, he was gone – hurried back into the waiting armored car to whisk him away further down the Avenue. The spectators started separating and following the vehicles down the street, now wanting to get closer to the Capitol Building to watch the ceremony, or at least find a place along the National Mall to view the Swearing-In on the giant screens that had been displayed there. A sudden hush had come over the street, although Gordon knew it wouldn’t last – he could see more people venturing down the Avenue, like sheep, to fall down to their knees at the feet of their Savior.

Gordon watched proceedings for a few more minutes, then grabbed his shopping cart from behind the large bins, and headed back down the alley. No one would want him down at the National Mall. He just wouldn’t make good copy for the media. This is not the America that the new President would want to be televised on the big screens, that is, if he could get past security. He knew that a man dressed in rags, with unkempt hair and pushing a large shopping trolley wouldn’t make it any closer than Osama Bin Laden would. These were facts.

As he made his way down the alley, he found the doorway that he had called home for the last four months, removed the fresh newspaper that he had found out on Pennsylvania Avenue and lay down. Will this man help him, Gordon Thompson, out of the dire predicament he finds himself in now? No, he can’t, thought Gordon.

This piece originally appeared on my friend Michael Solender's blog page as an invitation to write about being an outsider. Check out his other work at Not From Here, Are You?