Screech

By JR Jurzynski

    Screech, tweedle. Little hands and arms pushed hard against the tattered edges of drab vinyl. Screech. Tweedle. Little legs and feet pushed hard against the cracked surface of Highland Avenue. Screech, tweedle, tweedle. Scrush. A flat on one of the acrylic casters interrupted the rhythm. Screech, tweedle, tweedle, tweedle, scrush. Old enough to walk and the determination to help. Screech.Tweedle.

     From the ten-tenement to the house at Circle South. First memories of childhood. Tree-lined streets of arcs or tangents blocked off by design. House lots configured pie-shaped or rectangular. Dependant blocs where one would find mostly democratic sentiment amongst the factory workers. Jack was the talk—”Richard will never stand a chance.”

    With the enthusiasm of a 3-year-old, a trajectory from the old side to the U.S. Postal Service box located at the new was selected. Screech.Tweedle.Tweedle. Scrush. Tweedle.

   Destination attained, next, a curve along Circle South was negotiated  and “home.” Screech, screech, screech…

    The vinyl was considered drab, the carpet ancient drab. Brown and all its earthy hues, a full blossom festival from the forties, covered surfaces from top to bottom and bottom to top. The toy box and contents had made the journey without injury. Screech. Tweedle. Scrush.

    Toys and a toy box. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Neighbors and neighborhoods. Towns and cities. Counties and states. Nations and continents. Worlds and galaxies. Universe. Toys and a toy box. 

Ω

The Call

 By Ed Baranosky 

       The phone was answered by a pleasant female voice saying “Good Morning
    FBI Headquarters Miami office. How may I direct your call?”

       I told her “my name is William Anders and I would like to speak to an
    agent about some unusual activity at my place of business.”

      She replied,” Please hold Mr. Anders and I will connect you with an agent.”

      I heard a connection being made and the man on the other end announced “I’m
    Special agent Devlin, how can I be of service Mr.Anders?”

      “Mr. Devlin, I am the owner of an aviation training school. We teach students 
    the fundamentals of flying commercial jet aircraft. The reason for my call to
    the FBI is we have enrolled in one of our courses three students who I believe
    are of Middle Eastern descent.” 

      “The strange thing about these students is they only want to learn how to control the plane once it’s in the air. They made it clear they were not interested in learning to take off or land.” 

     “In light of the recent unpleasant activities in Europe by Middle Eastern groups I thought it
    important to report this to a proper authority. Commercial flying is under
    Federal jurisdiction therefore I called the FBI.” 

     “Mr. Anders that does sound unusual I’ll . . . WHAT! Mr. Anders I’m putting you on hold one of our agents has brought us disturbing news.”


      In an excited voice Mr. Devlin came back on the line saying “Mr. Anders, I’m transfering your call back to our receptionist. Please give her your name, address and phone number we will be in touch with you. A commercial jet just crashed into a World Trade Center building in New York City.”

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Torn

By John-Paul Marciano 

    Kriminalinspektor Gerhard Engel was searching for an empty trash can in the refuse storage shed when he detected movement out of the corner of his eye.  He looked in the direction of the movement but didn’t see anything.

    “Maybe a feral cat in search of scraps,” he thought to himself.

    Gerhard resumed his search, going down the line of trash cans one by one.  Again he detected movement and again he saw nothing.  It had been a long day and he was tired and he was beginning to wonder if his mind was playing tricks on him.  But, as he leaned forward to put his bag of trash in a half-empty trash can, he saw the faint glow of an eyeball in the back corner of the shed.  He closed the lid of the shed gently and hesitated for a moment.  He shook his head and returned to his third floor apartment.

    When Gerhard reached his apartment he went into the kitchen.  He took the loaf of sunflower seed bread from the bread box and cut off a chunk.  He opened the refrigerator, extracted a sausage and placed it on the counter next to the bread.  Next he went into the sitting room, grabbed his copy of Das Schwarze Korps (the weekly paper of the Schutzstaffel) and tossed it on the counter next to the bread and sausage.

    Gerhard stood with both hands palm down on the counter looking at the tops of his shoes in thought.  He was torn.  Why should it matter to him what happens to a Jewish kid he doesn’t even know?  It was his sworn duty as a Kripo officer to turn the child over to the Gestapo and let them deal with the problem.  But on the other hand, what the hell has this kid ever done to warrant being sent to a KZ?  If the wrong person found out he could be sent to a KZ himself if he was unlucky enough to live that long.

    His hands shook as he lit a cigarette.  He took a deep drag on the cigarette and held the smoke in his lungs before he exhaled.  He smoked the entire cigarette and then stubbed it out in the sink.  Taking a deep breath, he wrapped the bread and sausage with the front page of the paper.  Who knows?  If the kid can read she’ll take the hint and find another hiding place.

    Gerhard took the package out to the refuse storage shed and pretended to look for space in one of the trash cans.  When he saw the glint of an eye he took the package and dropped it behind the closest trash can.  After closing the lid of the shed he sighed and shook his head.  He looked up at the stars, then went back upstairs.

Humiliation

By Susann Gill Riley

   All humiliations are the same.  Each is a hot flush of shame, a scalding awareness of one’s inadequacy, peppered with anger over the injustice. This is what Anna thought as she experienced her latest embarrassment and her mind drifted back to her first.

  The first time she remembered feeling humiliated was when she was very young.  School-age, but barely.  She had gone hiking with her father, older sister, and her sister’s friends on a cool May day. 

   Anna had been looking forward to this day for a while.  It was to be the inaugural outing of a neighborhood club her sister created called “The Parasol Club.”  Its members, her sister Mary Jane, two other girls her sister’s age from the neighborhood, and Anna, envisioned themselves as regal British ladies with parasols sheltering their complexions. The girls had no real plans for the club other than to seek adventure, with or without parasols.

   Anna, being nearly three years younger than the others, was grudgingly allowed to tag along, probably at the insistence of Anna and Mary Jane’s father. Mary Jane had appointed their father honorary president in the hopes he would drive them to adventures beyond their neighborhood.

   The hike on this first outing was an easy one. The group followed a gentle path through a small wood in the town next to theirs.  The path brought them to the edge of a brook, barely a trickle during dry season, but flush now with spring rains.  The brook had swelled to about four feet in width, and its waters churned with unaccustomed urgency.

  Undeterred, their father found a place not far off the path where a tree had fallen, providing a bridge of sorts over the creek. The trunk was a little over a foot wide—wide enough and sturdy enough for crossing.  Mary Jane and the other girls crossed like circus performers on a high wire—arms outstretched, heads high and sure.

   When it came Anna’s turn, her father found a stick, large enough to be a walking stick, for her to use in crossing.   He tested it briefly, leaning into it before giving it to Anna. “Just in case,” he said.

  Anna gripped the stick nervously, her cheeks warm with embarrassment, wondering why her father assumed she needed it.  Am I that much of a klutz? Is it that noticeable? She was suddenly afraid to cross the log, afraid of failing. But there was no backing out, the other girls were already across. 

   Anna took a few tentative steps out onto the log before she began to wobble.  She had forgotten to hold her arms out wide and had no way to correct her imbalance.  As she tilted, she thrust the stick down into the soft bed of the brook, hoping it would right her.  The stick broke, sending her tumbling off the log. 

  She heard the laughter before she even felt the water.

  Wet but unhurt, she waded across the remainder of the stream, finishing the hike in soggy shoes.

   When they got home, Mary Jane and her father told the story to Anna’s mother, chuckling hardily at what they undoubtedly viewed as an amusing anecdote, a harmless mishap. Anna laughed too so as not to let on that she felt humiliated, ashamed. 

  All these years later, Anna had only to close her eyes and picture that little girl in wet clothes, wanting so badly to be accepted by the older girls, wanting to be seen as one of them instead of a clumsy little sister, to feel the burn in her cheeks.  The same burn she felt now, as another, ultimately inconsequential occurrence made her feel inadequate and ashamed.  And yes, angry at the injustice.  She was not inadequate now, just as she had not been then.  The stick broke, after all.

A humiliating experience

By Elaine Schwartz

              I’ve been driving a car for the past sixty years.  I consider myself a good driver but many people think I drive too slowly.

              I was driving to Stop and Shop with my husband to purchase some food items for him to take on his annual painting trip to Monhegan Island, Maine.  He and his artist friends rent a house and share in the food and cooking.  There is a small grocery store on the island but it is very pricey.

              We were discussing what he should buy now and what to purchase on the island. Usually very cautious me was not adhering to the 25 mph speed limit and all of a sudden there was flashing lights and a siren behind me. 

              I pulled over and the policeman asked for my driver’s license and registration.  After checking it, he said, “do you know you were going 40 miles in a 25 mile zone?”

              My husband said, “excuse me officer, my wife has been accused of many things but never of driving too fast”.   The officer couldn’t stop laughing and my face turned bright red.  The very nice officer just gave me a warning and we were on our way.

                                                              #                     

Saying Goodbye

By Carol Banner

Ruth Marshall Benton slowly stroked Galahad’s huge head resting in her lap. Sedated his eyes were half-closed and he lay there content, unknowing.

 His body took up the whole rest of the leather couch in the small white room. She had tried to prepare for this moment. But it was hard and she struggled against the tears pushing up inside her from the tightness in her chest. She had cried enough behind closed doors over the past year as her companion’s muzzle grayed, his gait slowed and he struggled to climb the stairs to their bedroom.

She remembered the night he ran to jump up on their bed and only made it half-way. He froze, confused that his hind feet were still on the floor. And Ruth had climbed back out of bed and tried to lift his sorrel rump up onto his blanket.

“It’s okay boy,” she said running a freckled hand over his body.

She wasn’t strong enough at first. He was nearly 90 pounds. But they had worked it out together one leg at a time. That was when she knew she was going to lose him and her pillow was wet that night. 

Ruth had tried to prepare for this day. She wouldn’t leave him until it was over. He deserved that. The needle had been inserted. The bag was hung. It was her call now — when she was ready. She was willing her body to hold back the inevitable tears, not to let go. She needed to keep calm for Galahad. But she was almost shaking and he knew. He raised his head to comfort her and. for a brief second the light returned to his eyes as his pink tongue washed across her hand.

“:It’s okay,” he was saying. “I’m here.”

”Good old dog,” she whispered. He had been a faithful friend, the reason she rose every morning. It was his persistent time-to-put-the-coffee-on-bark that made her swing her legs off the bed and push her sagging body upright. They had grown old together. She ran her hand down his padded ribs and clutched the soft white fur on his belly. The veins on the back of her hand stood out like ugly roots.

She pushed the call button. And her vet entered to administer phase two.

“This will painlessly put him to sleep so you can say goodbye,” she said. Ruth watched her turn the IV’s valve off and inject clear liquid into the small chamber before turning it back to open.

“He’ll be comfortable. Call me when you’re ready.”

“How long will he have after the final injection?” Ruth whispered.

“Less than a minute. It’s a powerful drug and quick. He won’t suffer.”

“Galahad . . . he’s big. Please. Give him a lot so he doesn’t feel anything.”  She looked down unable to stop the tears any longer.   

“I will. Are you all right?” Ruth nodded.

“He’s just a dog. A good old dog,” she said wiping her cheeks and attempting a smile.

“Take as long as you need. Call me when you’re ready.”

For the next 18 minutes Ruth loved her dog. She remembered every adventure they ever had together after finding each other at the local pound. He was already 35 in dog years back then. Now he was pushing 90 and she was close to that. He had filled her last alone years with unconditional love. Ruth was terrified of what her life was going be like without him. She petted him with her old hands willing them to remember the feel of his fur, every contour of his body and the rise and fall with each breath.

Finally when she had no more tears within her to mask the weight in the pit of her stomach, she pushed the call button. When the vet came in to administer phase three she said, “I want to be alone with him when he dies.”

“Of course, I understand.”

Ruth watched her inject the powerful drug that would stop Galahad’s heart into the IV. Finally she opened the valve and left closing the door behind her.

With one hand on Galahad’s chest Ruth watched death snake down through the tubing and into the needle taped to his leg. She felt his last breath.

Then quickly and calmly she reached up and closed off the valve. Peeling off the bandage on Galahad’s leg she gently pulled out the needle. Burying her face in his fur she uttered a single final command.

“Wait.”

And in one fluid motion she opened the valve and drove the needle into the largest vein in her left hand.

#

Admire is a Funny Word

Admire is a Funny Word 

By Cool Dog 

    Admire is a funny word. Sometimes what you think you admire is all hype. It ain’t the dope.

    First you got your beat-box boys, on stage like a drum firin out the cool heat but then you realize those dogs double recorded their tracks. They ain’t playin’ it real.

    Then you admire someone’s stack, cause they got so much cash they think that they the King. Then you find out he stole it from his momma and he’s in so much debt he gotta pay the piper.

    Then you see your best boy and he thinks he got the girl all wrapped up under his skin. And you know he don’t, cause she your bitch.

Admire is a Funny Word 

By Jodi’s Mom 

    Admire is a funny word. Sometimes what you think you admire in someone is all hype. It’s not real.

    It’s like those women in the PTA. The ones that always seem so put together like they have it all. They pretend like their lives are perfect. Then you find out their kids are the ones that got suspended for selling drugs at the school.

  Then there are the people that you think have all the money in the world. They live in their big houses and drive around in their fancy cars. They act like they have it all but then they get arrested for embezzlement.

    Then you see your best friend bragging about how great her husband is after you saw him out with someone else’s wife.

Admire is a funny word 

By Stevie 

    Admire is a funny word. We learned about that in class today. It means when you look up to someone but sometimes I think that’s all pretend.

    It’s like that popular kid that says he’s your friend. Then he goes behind your back and makes fun of you to the other kids.

    Then there’s Bobbie and his new toys. He always bragging that his dad buys him anything he wants. Then I heard one of the other kids in my class say that Bobbie’s parents just got divorced and Bobbie only sees his dad every other weekend.

    It’s also like Joey. He always says he is the smartest one in the class and that he knows everything. Then he got caught cheating off of Sarah test.