Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another Mattress Sale

Another Memorial Day has passed – or has it? Congress established Decoration Day as May 30 after the Civil War (or War Between the States, or The War of Northern Aggression, or . . .). In 1967 (an arcane fact) the name was officially changed to Memorial Day, and then a year later, it became the last Monday in May, apparently so we could have yet another three day weekend and a mattress sale.

Another Memorial Day has passed, but it didn’t feel like Memorial Day – or Decoration Day. My grandmother, who died in 1960, raised peonies and sold them every Decoration Day. Our peonies have yet to bloom, and with this spring’s weather probably won’t for the true, original Memorial Day, May 30.

This Memorial Day I did not travel to the National Cemetery at Chattanooga, TN, to decorate my father’s grave. (My mother’s ashes float somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico near Venice, FL, a no doubt illegal scattering.) I did not travel to Uniontown, PA, to decorate my paternal grandmother’s or my Great Aunt Lyda’s graves. I didn't go to Indiana to decorate my paternal grandfather's grave.

I didn’t go to Ohio to decorate my maternal grandparents’ graves.

And I once again failed to travel to Kane, IL, five hours south of my Chicago suburb, to lay flowers on my son’s grave where his ashes lie on top of my father-in-law’s remains.

Perhaps I should feel guilty. I don’t. Guilt is a wasted emotion for the most part, it seems to me, used by people to manipulate others. I had too many people in my life as I was growing up who used guilt to control me and I have pretty much rejected it because it too frequently paralyzes.

I don’t believe that Daniel lies in my father-in-law’s grave. He, rather, is in my heart, as are my father – and all those other relatives. Pieces of bone chips, which funeral professionals call cremains, are not Daniel. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss him. I do. Every day of my life.

I remember and honor him by planting deep purple salvia close to the statue of St. Francis in our back yard. They were the flowers he always liked best and asked his grandmother to plant. I pray for him every night. And we take the occasional bouquet to church and put it in the Mary Corner, next to the statue of Mary. We light a candle.

Yesterday we did not decorate anyone's graves with peonies – or any other flowers.
We did not do that most patriotic of deeds: buy a new mattress. I don’t understand why national holidays create so much mattress advertising, so many mattress sales. (Is it that Americans figure out their mattresses are terrible when they finally have time to have sex on a holiday?)

Instead we planted a couple of eggplants and a tomato. We pulled a few weeds. We walked the dogs around the block.

And then we did that second most American of things: we went to the neighbors’ for a cookout.

We honored the past by celebrating the living.

Please write your opinions about Memorial/Decoration Day by clicking comment below.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vache d'Or - conclusion

This is the conclusion of Vache d'Or. It begins eight posts below if you need to start at the beginning. Please comment at the end of this post.

“Make yourselves comfortable on the terrace with another glass of champagne and I’ll find something special,” the butler said While they waited, the butler unpacked their clothes and turned down the bed. Bellboys arrived with a cart piled with covered dishes. After lunch he cleared the dishes and discretely left.

Frank led CeeCee to the bed and undressed her, then himself. He put a chocolate truffle in his mouth and leaned down to kiss her. “This isn’t minty fresh, but I think you’ll like it better.” He smiled. “I know I will.”

Two hours later they woke from their nap, showered together, had massages, a private dinner.

“I love you, Frank,” CeeCee said, as they were preparing yet again for bed.

“I love you, too, CeeCee.” Frank stroked her shoulders with the tips of his fingers. He nuzzled into her ample bosom, making her shudder. “I love you too, mon vache d’or,” he whispered.

CeeCee pushed Frank away and sat up in the enormous bed. “What did you just call me?”

Frank rolled to one side and flushed. “I said ‘vache d’or.’ It’s like petit chou, little cabbage, a French term of endearment. It means my golden, um, sweetheart.”

She sighed and shook her head, murmured, “Vache d’or, indeed.” But she pushed his head back into her bosom and closed her eyes. “Did you know I was a French major in college?”

Frank blanched and shook his head.

“Don’t ever, ever, ever sleep with anyone else again. I’ll use a dull knife to cut them off and put them in the blender.”

Frank shuddered. He nodded and felt his penis shrivel and his balls pull up into his abdomen.

“And if you survive, well, then we’ll see.”

Monday, May 12, 2008

Vache d'Or - part 7

This is the penultimate section of Vache d'Or, Begin it about seven blogs down. And feel free to comment. Enjoy!

“Who else have you been fucking, asshole? This is Toni.”

“It can’t be mine, Toni. And your language. We never slept together.”

“Like hell. Don’t hand me that shit, Frank. It’s yours. You’re the only man I’ve had sex with in the last six weeks, since you became a fucking encore virgin with Charlene.”

“We always used a rubber, Babe. Remember?”

“Yeah, and Ben likes to make pinholes in them. I thought you knew.”

Frank gulped. He forgot to check the condoms he took to Matt’s. “What about Jason? You spent a lot of time getting stoned with him. What else did you do?”

“Nothing. He was always too stoned. That’s why I know it’s yours.”

“If Ben poked the holes in the rubbers it’s technically his.”

Toni snorted. “All it takes is a paternity test later to take care of it.” She was silent for a few moments. “Or some cash now.”

“Let me think,” Frank said. He sat silent. With all the drugs Toni did, a baby would probably be fucked up. It would be a kindness to terminate it. “How much?”

Toni told him. “You have to come with me. And make up for my days off. Including tips.”

Frank agreed. He made a second phone call, then he called CeeCee in the B & B. “Listen, honey. You’re the only one I ever loved. Can’t we talk about this?” He held the phone out from his ear. When she was finished, he said, “I love you. I want to make this work. I’m weak. I’m sorry.”

He listened some more. “Well, I at least have to drive you home. I have the car.” He nodded. Smiled. “You know we need each other.” He had a plan.

The first two hours in the car on the way home were almost silent. About every fifteen minutes Frank said, “I love you.” CeeCee stared out the passenger window. Every time he reached over to pat her leg or feel her up, she batted his hand away.

“You’re going to have a stiff neck if you keep staring out the window, honey.”

“I’m not your honey.” CeeCee spoke without moving her lips.

She would have made a good ventriloquist, but this wasn’t the time to mention that, Frank thought. He wasn’t about to let CeeCee have the keys and leave him at a rest stop or gas station either. He put an easy listening disk in the CD player, and as they got closer to Cleveland, CeeCee relaxed. A little. She faced forward.

“You missed the turn.”

“No. I have a surprise for you. We’re still on our honeymoon.” Frank pulled into a downtown luxury hotel. He handed the keys and some folded bills to the valet. He took CeeCee’s arm. “You deserve a better honeymoon than a tacky room with a heart shaped bathtub in the Poconos. I bet we don’t get scalded here.” He kissed her and led her to check in.

Frank sighed with relief and CeeCee gasped when a private butler opened the door to the Honeymoon Suite and welcomed them. He poured champagne and handed each of them a glass.

“I never . . . .” CeeCee’s chin quivered and she hugged Frank tightly. “Look.” She was practically breathless. Rose petals covered the bed, and a tray of chocolate truffles sat on the table.

“I’ve taken the liberty of arranging massages for you this afternoon if that’s all right.” The butler smiled. “I thought a late lunch first?”

“Lunch is good. And the massages later, after we’ve rested.” CeeCee looked at Frank, who nodded. “It’s been a long drive and I’m a little tired.” She looked at Frank again, then held out her glass for more champagne.

Frank sighed mentally. He’d pulled it off. He winked at the butler. “What did you have in mind for lunch?”

Friday, May 9, 2008

Vache d'Or - part 6

This is a serial short story. Check below to begin it - you know the drill. And then comment.

A blast of scalding water hit Frank from four directions in the special two-person honeymoon shower. He let out a howl of pain. “Jesus Fucking Christ, CeeCee. What kind of a man do you think I am?” He glanced down. “Besides permanently disabled?” He pushed the shower door open and stumbled out.

Charlene stood with her arms akimbo in front of him. “Who is she?” she asked again.

“Who’s who?” Frank ran cold water over a face cloth and gently wrapped his penis in it. He let out a sigh. “We may never be able to have sex again after that, CeeCee.”

“If you don’t tell me who she is, you may never be able to have sex with anyone again, Sweetie.”

Frank turned the cold water on in the bidet and lowered himself into the stream, his back to his bride. “If this doesn’t take care of it, I’m calling nine one one for an ambulance. And then the cops. You maimed me.”

“Stop whining,” Charlene said. “You brought this on yourself, fucking around with that little slut.”

“Come on, CeeCee,” Frank said. He stood from the bidet. “Look, the red is gone and I’m fine. It’s our wedding night, we’re encore virgins.” He formed his face into a loving smile. “Let’s consummate this marriage.”

“Encore? Reruns are more like it. Wear a rubber. I don’t want any diseases from that little slut you were fucking around with.”

“Come on, Cee Cee. Charlene dearest. It’s our wedding night.” He reached out his hand to his wife’s left breast.

She pushed his hand away. “Admit it! Who was she?” Charlene closed her eyes a moment to think. “It was Toni, wasn’t it? I know it was.”

“It wasn’t Toni. I had a fling. It didn’t mean anything. I couldn’t go without sex for six weeks. You know that. I’m a man.” Frank lowered his voice and growled when he said “man.” Usually CeeCee melted when he did that.

She ignored him. “Get out. Sleep in the car. Rent another room. Go fuck yourself. I don’t care.” Charlene threw his slacks, a shirt, and the car keys at him. “I knew you were too good to be true.”

Frank whimpered. “But I love you CeeCee.” He opened his arms to hug her.

She pointed at the door.

He sighed. “I need my shoes, too.” He ducked, then picked them up and found the car in the parking lot.

The next morning his phone woke Frank. He had finally found his way into sleep in the sedan by crawling into the back seat and tucking his knees under his chin, folding his jacket into a pillow and twisting his arms under his ear. He had set the phone to silent, but it was in his front pants pocket and had slid to just over his crotch. The vibrations stimulated his morning tumescence. He blinked his eyes in the early morning sun that shone directly into the car and fumbled for the phone.

What I wouldn’t give for a bed and a cup of coffee, he thought. He opened the phone and read the text message: Bad nuz. Cl me. Now. He didn’t recognize the number, but Jason lost his phone a month ago. It was probably him. Frank hit redial and put the phone to his ear. It rang once. Twice. On the third ring he heard a voice.

“Frank? It took you long enough. Like I told you yesterday, I’m pregnant. It’s yours. What you gonna do?”

“Who is this?” Frank asked.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Vache d'Or - part 5

This is part five of the short story Vache d'Or. Begin reading the entire story five posts below. And please comment.

At the beach, the guests drank and applauded the off color toasts. Back up at the pavilion Ben put speakers on his ipod and CeeCee and Frank danced the first dance. Guests who wanted to dance with CeeCee thrust Washingtons, Lincolns and the occasional Jefferson into her neckline. Frank did a slow two-step with the deli customers for a while and tried to avoid Toni, but she shoved a Lincoln into his pocket and grabbed him for a slow dance all the while whispering into his ear. An hour later, the guests threw bird seed as the couple got in their car and headed for a bed and breakfast in the Poconos, about six hours away.

Frank was silent in the car except when he took a wrong turn and swore violently.

“Second thoughts, sweetheart?” CeeCee asked finally.

Frank smiled. “Never.” But he remained quiet at dinner except when he was sucking the meat out of the lobster or smacking his lips as he chewed. He was monosyllabic to the owner as they checked in to the B and B, immobile on the bed while CeeCee readied herself to consummate the marriage.

She took a quick shower, dried, powdered, and lubed, fixed her make-up, brushed her teeth, spritzed perfume, and put on her wedding-night gown, the black lace number she ordered from the internet, one with gold fringes and embroidered with little pink handcuffs. She stood in the doorway of the bathroom. The light behind her silhouetted her newly toned body, courtesy of a good-looking young personal trainer she wouldn’t have been able to afford if she hadn’t had her late ex’s insurance.

She leaned hopefully against the door jam, put one hand on her hip, licked her lips.

“Encore virgin, at your service,” she whispered, then waited.

Nothing. Frank’s lips made soft raspberries as he slept.

She a-hemmed. Still nothing. She reached behind her into the bathroom and grabbed the little bottles of private label mouthwash from the vanity, opened them, stepped to the bed and drizzled them on Frank’s crotch.

His eyes flew open. He bellowed and sat up. “What the fuck did you do that for, CeeCee?” Frank yelled.

“Exactly.” Charlene whispered so quietly Frank wasn’t sure he heard her. She opened her eyes in horror. “I’m so sorry. I was going to set it on the night stand for in the morning. Dragon breath, you know. I stumbled. I’m so sorry.” She lowered her eyes. “Did I take too long getting ready? Did you fall asleep waiting for me, sweetie pie?” She leaned down to sniff, looked in his eyes and ran her tongue across her lips and smiled. “Minty fresh,” she said. “Vache d’or indeed,” she whispered into his crotch.

Frank didn’t hear her. “It burns like fuck all!” he said, pushed the satin sheet off, and stood up. “And it looks like I pissed the bed.” He stomped into the bathroom and turned on the shower. He found the B and B’s private label bar of soap and a wash cloth and started lathering up his privates.

“Do you need a little help in there? Or should I fill this adorable heart-shaped Jacuzzi?” Charlene asked. She leaned down and turned on the tap in the bathtub. Frank bellowed again.

“What are you trying to do, scald me?” he screamed. His now-shriveled penis glowed bright red.

“Me? What am I trying to do? Who is she? We haven’t slept together in that hair-bald scheme of being encore virgins in the last six weeks and you’re too tired tonight? Tonight of all nights! I’m no fool. Who is she?” Charlene reached over and flushed the toilet before Frank had a chance to step out of the shower stream.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Vache d'Or - part IV

This is the fourth part of the serialized short story Vache d'Or. Start several blog posts earlier. And please comment at the end of the post.

A warm breeze made ripples on the blue water and played tag with CeeCee’s borrowed blue scarf. The officiant was a real minister, between churches. She wore a billowing black robe with a large gold cross embroidered on each breast. In her short but sweet sermon, she talked about communication and God’s love, used her self and her partner as examples. “Of course, the state of Ohio won’t allow us to marry.” Frank rolled his eyes.

The ceremony took about ten minutes, and after the couple exchanged vows and exchanged rings, Frank and CeeCee exchanged kisses. “CeeCee, I love you,” Frank whispered.

“I’m so glad we kept ourselves chaste until the wedding,” CeeCee whispered back. “I can’t wait.” She pinched his ass and they both laughed.

“Come on,” she called to the thirty or so guests. “Take off your shoes and stockings, if you’re wearing any, roll up your pant legs, and join us on the beach.”
Below the pavilion, warm waves lapped on the beach, and gulls left their tracks in the sand. Remnants of summer bonfires, driftwood, colored glass worn smooth by the motion of the water, and broken shells dotted the sand. To the west Cleveland’s office buildings disappeared into the clouds, and closer, northeast, a nuclear power plant sent plumes of white steam into the air from fat white towers. Bonnie stood between coolers filled with beer and wine and a table filled with tiny turkey sandwiches, a wedding cake, and bowls with mints and mixed nuts. Ben poured champagne and drank liberal amounts himself. Frank hoped Ben had washed his hands.

Frank clinked the foot of a champagne glass against the bowl of another to get the guests’ attention. “A toast!” he said. “To my lovely new wife, CeeCee, more beautiful than the day we met.” He kissed her neck beneath her ear and whispered, “Mon vache d’or.”

CeeCee raised an eyebrow but smiled and hugged Frank more tightly.

“And to a long and happy marriage!” Jason held his glass up.

Toni, standing at the back of the revelers, also raised her glass, then paled and headed for the washrooms down the path. Ben followed her. “You need a hit?” he asked.

“Maybe later. This wine –“ Toni put her hand over her mouth and started to run.