Sunday, February 18, 2018

Only Male Birds Sing

                                            Only Male Birds Sing             by l. choy


         They were mewing loudly when Sam brother began shoveling loose dirt on top of the kittens.  One flicked its ears, another covered its eyes with a tiny paw when dirt was showered on top of their spotted gray fur.  They were wiggling and crawling over each other, desperately trying to extend their lives.  The hole wasn't very deep so it took little time for those five tiny fur balls to be covered.  I watched them slowly disappear as if erased from a blackboard.  The mewing got weaker and then...stopped.  Sam brother bent over and with the back side of the spade forcefully pounded the mound of dirt flat.  His face was in neutral.  I felt more of curiosity than remorse.  I had as yet acquired empathy.  I was six years old when I witness this event.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Fairy Godmother is Dead

                         My Fairy Godmother is Dead

        Did you know that Jesus wasn't an only child?  In fact two of his brothers helped write the New Testament.  To top it off, the majority of the authors never interviewed him; maybe because...they never met the Man?  So a lot that was ever written about Him was all supposition.  One of the major authors of the New Testament, Saint Mark, was only a child when he saw Jesus, and only from a distant.  Saint Paul met Jesus' but only as a ghost.  Scared the hell out of him. It was a dark night, you see, and he was all alone.

        I discovered this unsettling fact when I did some research to prepare for my first Sunday school class.  I was just past my teen-age years and the pastor volunteered me because I looked like a Neanderthal who could frighten uncivilized nine- year-olds to keep their seats.  

         But, getting back to the New Testament, it's not that what the Biblical authors said were true or false, but I was disappointed that Jesus never went on record to verified the quotes attributed to Him while he was preaching (because most of the authors never met the man and therefore no verification?. ...oh, I already said that). Regardless, I still had faith.  I believed in fairy godmothers who are always watching over us.
         It wasn't the same for the tooth fairy.  I really believed until I was the age of six when I caught my mom slipping the coin under my pillow when she thought I was asleep.  It shook my belief in tooth fairies and dragons in closets.  I blame her for the neurosis that I developed later in life.  She was a caring and a loving parent, the kind that, when I was still in high school, would iron my Levis even after I told her not to.  The bullies just zeroed in on me. 

         Not that I have lost faith in my fairy godmother when Trump was elected president (being a f--king moron doesn't disqualify you).  He’s just being a run-of-the-mill normal human being showing enough empathy to get elected, but not enough to offend groups such as the NRA.  Don’t think for a moment that we humans are more caring and loving than other species.  I’ve seen blue jays feeding their babies and cleaning their nest by putting in their mouths the baby’s excrement (shit) and spitting it out over the edge of the nest.  Can we humans top that?             

        Yet, I was sorely tested when I found out that this corporate giant, Facebook, without my permission, has publicized the date of my birthday, and telling everyone to wish me a happy birthday.  If some nameless person forget to e-mail a birthday greeting, or the greeting is lost in the cloud, wouldn't some harm be done?  Worst still, supposing (and it can happen) there is no response at all to Facebook’s request for a birthday greeting for a person and this lack of response is seen by everyone. Damn, was I hurt.  No, no, it wasn’t me…just a Freudian slip.  But it could happen and the damage to one’s ego could be debilitating. There was nothing I could do against this corporate giant, yet, I kept the faith.

        But then, my fairy godmother began to slip away from my life when I received this notice accompanying my phone bill which stated, “If your phone is out of order, or if it doesn’t work, please call us.  Your business is very important to us.”  Or when I noticed that a roll of toilet paper is now shorter by an inch, or that sugar is now sold in 4lb bags rather than the standard 5lb...and we still pay the same price.  Perhaps the manufactures hope we wouldn’t notice?  Or when they tell us that the new tires are closer to the rims because it’s more stylish, and not because it’s cheaper to make and therefore more prone to damage and horrific accidents?  Or that the half gallon ice cream is no longer half gallon but is package to look one?  I could go on but I’m an optimist even after all that.  I still sense that my fairy godmother was stronger than corporations and was still looking after me.  

          It was that one fine morning when the doctor told me that if I put any more salt in my food, I would die; that if i just take even a tiny bite of a sugared doughnut, I would definitely die;  and forget about anything fried or eat anything that had legs, and as for coffee and sex, forget it.  It was then, in that moment, that my beautiful fairy godmother started to fade away and as I walked out of the doctor's office, she finally disappeared somewhere and died.






Friday, September 15, 2017

The Secret Russian-China Proposal

                         The Secret Russian-China Proposal

         On September the 6th, 2017, U.S. Counter-Intelligence intercepted a phone message between Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, and Wang Yi, foreign minister to the People’s Republic of China.  Wikileaks leaked it to the general public and the following was what corresponded between the two.  Both parties were fluent in English and that was the language used.  Since there are no tenses in Mandarin, Mister Wang Yi spoke English only in the present tense.

Wang Yi:  Good morning, your Excellency.  I hope I do not wake you.  It is what, 5 a.m. there in Moscow?  I know it is early but I can not wait.  I just confer with my boss (Xi Ping) and he wants to get your boss’s (Putin) opinion on this matter.

Sergey Lavrov:  (Sputtering) Damn it, what could be so important at this hour of the morning?  …Is your North Korean friends shooting missiles at the U.S again?..  Please, don’t tell me it hit somebody.  The shock will be too much for my heart.  It’s too early in the morning to start a war. 

WY:  No, no, no war.  What has happen is my boss summon me this morning.  He is in conference last night with the Standing Committee and make a decision and like to present it to your boss.  This proposition is earth shaking, I fool you not, and I know Mr. Putin want to act on this immediately. 

SL:  Please, Mr. Yi.  If this is not an emergency, I would like to brush my teeth and do my ablutions.  I will call you back in an hour after I’m dressed and have had my breakfast.
                                            (3 HOURS GO BY)

WY: You say you call back in an hour!  Please do not keep us waiting, Lavrov.  It do not make for an auspicious beginning for negotiations.

SL:  I apologize for being late.  My dacha is on the outskirts of Moscow and when I got to the Kremlin, it was difficult getting an audience with Mr. Putin because he was in the middle of a photo session.  His bodyguards would not let me get near him.  In order to interrupt him, I would have to say that war has been declared somewhere and missiles have been launched.

WY:  What kind of photo session of Mr. Putin is more important than government business of the highest import?

SL:  He will not discuss business when he is in his white cotton Judogi and wearing his silk black belt, posing with world class female Judoka practitioners.  You know how important his image is to him.  Think Trump and perhaps you would understand.

WY:  Ah…My boss is quite the opposite.  He is against any photos of himself, but the paparazzi here is the worst.  Since he becomes the boss, he wears this stupid grin all the time in case some paparazzi take a snap shot of him.  He learns from Stalin and Mao that you cannot afford to frown when there is chance people sees you, so he smiles…a lot.  He is tire of wearing this frozen smile.  Problems arise when he is at home because sometimes he is very angry but he forgets he is smiling, so his family do not know how to treat him.  He is becoming very much like Trump: hard to read.   It is very sad, but I do understand your predicament

SL:  Thank you for understanding.  I am now connecting Mr. Putin, so whatever you say he will also hear and can inject at any time.  Are you ready?  Fine.  I will connect him so be aware he is listening.  Now, what is this proposal that is so earth shaking?

WY:  First, let me wish your president a good morning.  Good Morning, President Putin.  Sergey informs me that you are listening.  My boss, Mr. Xi sends his regards and hope you are in good health.  Allow me to say that we hold no animosity to the troubles that takes place in bygone years on our mutual borders.  We wish nothing but peace and prosperity to both our countries.  That being say, my boss wants to present this proposal that is a benefit to both of us.

(The voice of Putin is heard)  Putin:  Enough of the small talk, what is this proposal?

WY:  Err…Again, good morning, Mr. Putin.  Let me begin by saying that President Xi, is aware of your feints toward your western borders. We know that that is all it is, feints.   We are also aware that you are casting your eyes to countries that will insure your safety in the future.  You, no doubt, know that we are doing the same.  So here is what we propose… that we set specific parameters to our sphere of influence so that we do not accidently step on each other’s feet and cause unprofitable conflicts, now or in the future.  We propose that all of South America be in Russia’s sphere of influence and that the continent of Africa be in China’s sphere of influence. We already have our agents in parts of Africa to sow discontent and to anger the populace against any politician that is not on our payroll.  We are also able to hack their elections.  We will organize the different factions in Africa and it is known as Sino-Africa Treaty Organization or S.A.T.O. for short. 

SL:  And what will the acronym of Russia’s sphere of influence in South American be?

WY:  We thought S.A.T.O,, for South American Treaty Organization will be perfect!

Putin:  But where is Russia’s name in that acronym, and aren’t those initials, S.A.T.O., the same as your organization?

WY:  Why, why…you are absolutely correct, your Excellency.  A thousand pardons.  We do not catch that flaw.  But when you think of it, it is not a flaw.  Look at the beauty of it.  Just think, your SATO unite with our SATO, to become as one…We call it Slavic-Asiatic Treaty Organization or SATO.  How is that sound, sounds clever, huh?  And together we are truly invincible.  Your country dominating South America while we, in Africa, uniting the warring factions under one banner.   Why, together NATO becomes shit and we the toilet paper. 

SL: Did you hear that Mr. President?  I think it is a fantastic proposition and should be brought up to the State Duma for further discussions and to iron out the details.

Putin:  I think it is cow dung. 

SL:  I think so too. 

WY: (a long pause)………Well, if the acronym bothers you because it do not have Russia in it, I am authorize to change it.  How about Russia-America Treaty Organization?  Will that satisfy?

SL: That would be…RATO?

WY:  We can drop the “O” if you want.

         Transmission ceased at this point when the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov hung up the phone. 




Sunday, August 27, 2017

How to Die Young


                                        How to Die Young.
         I went to the supermarket today and discovered 5 pound canned hams on the shelves again, the kind that vanished from the shelves of supermarkets decades ago.  It was a ham injected with water, salt and all sorts of chemicals.  The chemicals were labeled as seasonings, and printed in very tiny letter so it wouldn't frighten the consumers.  Normally, I do not like regular ham…except those 5 pounders; those, I love.  It was flavored with MSG, soaked with nitrites and all sorts of chemical enhancements.  It was invented by food scientist and taste-tested in laboratories so that it would be tempting to even the most harden of vegetarians The canned ham was deliciously moist, succulent, and packed with pig fat.  It was irresistible.  It was the kind that made heart surgeons rich beyond their wildest dreams.

       Anyway, years ago, some damn do-gooders complained that there were no good reasons to inject water into can ham.  They claimed it made the ham weigh more and we end up paying for water.  What’s wrong with that?  People buy bottle water.  So what if the manufacturer makes money sending us to an early death.  We all have to die sometime.  As a result of the complaint (actually a good deal of complaints) the Food Safety and Inspection Center, FSIC, (not to be confused with the government financial arm) insisted that no water be injected, and that all the chemical ingredients be shown in a more conspicuous place, large enough so a magnifying glass would not be needed for people with normal eyesight.  Changes were made to comply with the FSIC resulting in less and less 5 lb canned hams being sold and, eventually, producers stop making the 5 lb canned ham altogether.
          In 2003, I think I accidently bought a 5 lb can with the new format.  It had no water, less salt, less chemical enhancements (and did it taste ever so disgustingly bland and as dry as cardboard).  I stopped buying ham for several years.  Then last week, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There it was: the 5 lb canned ham guaranteed to give you a stroke if you eat enough.  Why have they started?  Were the manufacturers hoping the new Trump administration will not enforce regulations?  I didn’t care.  I want to make America great again, so I bought a dozen.
         I got the hams home, opened one, and I was not disappointed. It glistened with so much marbled fat that I nearly swooned.  The ham is now in my sandwich, resting between sliced tomatoes, fatty mayonnaise, and wilted lettuce.  I know it is very, very salty but it is balanced out generously with loads and loads of sugar so that you can hardly taste how salty that ham really is.  It’s the same trick used in most restaurants to enhance the flavor of their food.  Lots of salt will bring out hidden flavors in food, but how to cover it up?  Lots of sugar, that’s how.  That is why you feel so thirsty after eating in those restaurants and wonder, how come? The food wasn’t THAT salty…but oh yes it was. 
         Now, getting back to how to die young….I haven’t a clue.  I just thought the title would attract readers (my immediate family).



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Road Not Taken

                                                        A Road Not Taken


         “Can’t live with old people.  I’ve a hard enough time looking at myself in the mirror and seeing my turkey neck,” said Maddie Horowitz.  “They say that old people die quicker in places like this.  I think I seen it in a TV documentary; it was on PBS…or something like that. And if it ain’t true, why would they say it?”  Mother and daughter sat side by side in the reception room of the Meadowlark Board and Care Home, both looking tensed and uncomfortable.  Maddie continues, “There’s nothing wrong with me.  I get lapses of memory now and then, but that’s typical at my age.  I do not wear diapers. I can walk without a cane, and I can feed myself.  I don’t need people to care for me.  Old folks should be protected from well meaning children…and I resent, I resent being shipped into a geriatric institution just because you....

         “Oh, shut up mom,” snapped Helen wearily, “and don’t give me any more of your bullshit philosophy.  Here’s the reality: this is the third time you left something burning on the stove.  You nearly burnt the house down, goddamn it.  It took your neighbor, who, by the way, hates you, to call the fire department.  She saw smoke pouring out of your kitchen window.  I was told that when the firemen banged on your door, you opened it and…guess what, mom; you asked them…YOU ASKED THEM WHAT THE HELL THEY WANTED!  My god, doesn’t that tell you something?”

         “That neighbor is always spying on me.  Listen, the fire was at the other end of the house.  I would’ve caught it if Joanie hadn’t called.  Joanie just love to gossip and it would’ve been so rude to cut her off.  Joanie’s my best friend, and I just got caught up in the flow.  It could’ve happen to anyone” said Maddie.

         “Not anyone, just old people like you,” retorted Helen.  “One time, you fell asleep with the heater on right smack against the sofa…and the other time, you went to visit, god knows who, and you left eggs boiling on the stove.  Luckily I dropped in that day to see how you were.  And how many other accidents you hadn’t bothered to tell us?  You're old. You’re nearly eighty, ma.  Haight and Asbury isn't there anymore.  They’re all here in senior places like this.  Look around you.  You can make new friends, enjoy the company of people your age, talk about how you miss free sex, smoking pot, or whatever you people talk about.   You’ll have time to relax…and this seems like a really nice place.  It doesn’t smell of urine.”

         “It smells of old people,” uttered Maddie under her breath.  She turned and examined the d├ęcor of the lobby.  They were the same as the other care homes they had visited: fake floral decorations, shinny linoleum floors, faded landscape prints on the wall, and that smell…that smell of Fabrize…she hated that smell.  It had the fragrance of a funeral parlor.  And the last thing she might ever see in this world is its ceiling, when they wheel her out on a gurney, dying from bed sores or something close to it.  “I don’t like places like this.  I don’t like the smell of disinfectant.  I don’t want to make new friends.  My old ones are bad enough.  At my age, I deserve privacy and to die in my own bed and in my own home.” 

         Helen tightens her lips.  She was middle aged and felt her energies draining into the brown cushioned bench.  Her brothers have moved away, far enough to provide the excuse for not visiting more often.  Her mother, on the other hand, always had an atrabilious disposition, so Helen couldn’t blame her brothers for staying away.  Why are daughters the only ones to be caring for their elderly parents?  At least it seemed that way.  And her mother is so difficult, so peevish.  Probably because she spent her years tolerating, rather than loving, the man she married.  When he died, she told her children that she stayed married to the man because of them.  Her main goal in life seemed to be expounding on the sacrifices she’s made, and how unfairly life has treated her.  Her children had become the captured audience.  No one else seemed to be listening.      

         A door opened, and two men sauntered into the lobby and approached. The nearest one spoke, “Mom, this is Mr. Holloway, the director of this establishment.  Now, this isn’t a done deal, and we have other places to look at, but, like I told Helen, I think this place is really special, and it’s close to us.  A little pricey, maybe, but we can afford it.” The man who spoke was Richard, stock broker, and Maddie's son-in-law.  Maddie thought he was a prick.  

         The other man was dressed informally in a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a politician’s smile.  He stuck out his hand. “How do you do, Maddie?  You don’t mind if I call you Maddie, do you?  We’re sort of like a family here, and I want Sue,” he motions to the receptionist, “she’s our assistant director, to show you what we have to offer, and I’m absolutely certain that if you decide to stay with us, you will find this a most pleasant place to live.  So, Sue, please give Mrs. Horowitz the tour of the place, and answer any questions she might have.”

          “Like I said, this isn’t a sure thing, mom,” injected Richard.  “There are still other places we can look at.  We don’t want to press you in any way.  We just want you to be happy.” 

         Wants me to be happy, that’s a load of horseshit, thought Maddie.  Just want me out of their hair and their conscience.  Maddie wished her daughter had married someone else, but she had to admit, Helen was no prize either. “It’s okay, Richard, it’s okay.  So, Sue, lead the way and I’ll see what there is to see.  But don’t go too fast.  I’ve got a bad hip.”

         “Perhaps you need a walker?” asked Sue, hugging a clip board. “We have several spare ones in the lobby.  Should I get you one?

         “Having a bad hip doesn’t mean I’m cripple.”  Maddie said, with a sarcastic edge.  “Maybe when I’m feeling better.”

         “This is our main center,” said Sue, as they entered an enormous room with a high sculptured ceiling, “and you can see we have a large pipe organ on the side wall there, and a grand piano.  Do you play?”  Maddie shook her head.  Sue continued the tour, “This is our little theater where we have many activities.  We do have professional entertainment every Tuesday night and Bingo every other night, except on weekends: those days we show movies and have ping-pong tournaments.  There are card games, bridge and whist, and, on Fridays, there’s casino nights.”  They walk further on to adjoining rooms.  “On Sundays, to entertain visitors, we have Karaoke.  Do you sing, Maddie?”  Maddie shook her head.  Without missing a beat, Sue continued, “did I mention we have arts and crafts?  There is a small studio off the grounds for those who are interested.  We have throw wheels and kilns in case you’re into pottery.  We have an excellent instructor who comes in Monday mornings.”

         “No, I don’t do artsy-fartsy.”

         “Excuse me?”             

         “You were going to ask me if I do arts and crafts, and my answer is no, I don’t do artsy-fartsy.  In fact, I don’t do much of anything.”  Sue’s annoyance towards Maddie begins to seed.

        “Come along now.  We’ve got lots of ground to cover.” Sue was in the business of dealing with old curmudgeons and she gave this one a six, ten being the worst.  The itinerary will continue, and the script will be followed. Chin up, clutch the clipboard and march smartly.  “This is the main dinner room where, as you can see, it’s in a cafeteria style for those who are ambulatory and can help themselves.  We try to encourage all our guests, like yourself, to be as self sufficient as humanly possible.  Complimentary snacks and coffee is served between the hours of one and five in the afternoon.  And you will note that we have fresh cut flowers placed daily on the middle of every….,” as Sue droned on, Maddie noticed a man, approximately her age, sitting in a corner table sipping from a coffee mug.

        He was dressed in a squalid bathrobe, and underneath peeked blue pajamas.  On his head was a sweat-stained, maroon baseball cap that had “Harvard” blazoned in the front. He was shod in very old slippers, the colors of which were so aged that they were indiscernible.  Something of his physical appearance piqued a section of her buried memories, so she walked directly in front of the old man to gain his attention.  Sue was still prattling on, walking forward in a measured pace when she realized that Maddie was no longer behind her, or being attentive. 

         “Oh Maddie…uh, Ms. Horowitz, please stay with me…"said Sue.  "We wouldn’t want you to get lost, now, would we?"  Maddie ignored the request and stood there staring at the old gentleman sipping his drink.  For a full half minute, he did not look up.  Gradually, the old man became aware of two boney ankles, with black socks and black buckled shoes visible below his visor.  He slowly followed the scrawny legs upward until the owner was in full view.  He croaked, “Can I help you, ma’am?”

         “Oh, Maddie, do you know Mr. Salvador here?” chirped Sue, hopefully. 

         A wide smile slowly manifests itself in the old man’s face.  “Well, goddamn, well goddam it all.  I can’t believe it.  I can’t believe it.  Is that you; is that really you, Maddie?  Well, hello there, can’t believe it’s you.  It is you?  Of all places…can’t believe it.  You’ve changed… but not much.  Pretty as ever… do look a little dehydrated…but then, don’t we all.”

         Well, fuck you too, thought Maddie, “It’s good to see you, too, Sal. I hardly recognize you in that outfit. It is you, isn’t it?  Recognized your stoop.  Boy, have you gotten thick.  That bathrobe suits you.  How long have you been buried in it?  Didn’t know you were in the city. I take it that you are a guest in this brightly lit mausoleum?  .”

         “Just got here.  A few months, maybe.”  Then came an embarrassing lull.  They just stood there searching for a smattering of small talk, trying to find the appropriate words to say.  This meeting of providence came so suddenly that they were both unprepared.

          Sue, the assistant director, who was being polite and a patient third party, said, “Look, Ms. Horowitz, seeing as you both know each other, why don’t I just leave you two alone to chat for awhile, and later I can let Mr.Salvador show you the rest of the place.  I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.  And I’ve tons of paper work on my desk…and, Sal, when you’re finish, just drop her off at the front desk.  Her kids are waiting for her there.” Slowly, Sue drifted toward the door where they had entered….”And behave yourself, Sal,” she added before she disappeared.

          Sal spoke up, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

         “Yes, I could do with one.”

         “Here, sit right here, while I get you one.  Cream and sugar, right?”

         When Sal came back with the coffee, he laid packets of sugar and powdered cream on the table.  “Didn’t know how much you used, so I got a bunch.  Isn’t Sue something else?  She runs the place, you know.  We call her the ‘Empress’, the real power in this place.  You’ve met Holloway, right?  Well, he’s just a front man.. Never leaves his office…doesn’t like getting near old folks, thinks we’re contagious.  Sue on the other hand likes us old people…like an owner liking his pet dogs.

         Maddie avoided looking at Sal’s eyes which seemed to be staring at her.  She replied, “She seems nice enough, but that spiel sounded like a memorized list.  I guess if you have to do it a dozen times a month...  Well, how’ve you been, Sal?  Such a coincidence, we meeting like this.  I wasn’t aware you were living in the city.  Last I heard you moved some where back east, got married and had kids.” She stirred her coffee.  “Well, how’ve you?…oh, I think I’ve already said that. Sorry.”

         “You get old, you repeat yourself.  It happens,” replied Sal.  “To answer your question, I’ve been doing okay.  Can’t believe my eyes that you’re here in front of me.  I never…I never though I’d ever see you again.  But here you are.”  There was a long pause.  Then Sal coughed and said, “When was it?  I think the last time I saw you was…was at your mother’s.  We had this big fight, I remember, and I stormed out of the house.  What, some sixty plus years ago, was it?  Yea, I think it’s been over sixty years.”

         “God, has it been that long?  Mom was the one who told me that you got married,” said Maddie.  “And that you had a couple of kids.  She also added,’good riddance’.  She really didn’t like you.  I have to admit, it’s strange talking to you like this.  Like you said, I never thought we would run into each other again.

         “Same here.  So what have you been up to all these years?  Married?” asked Sal.

         “Remember Harold Horowitz?” 

         Sal pondered for a moment. “Oh, that jock …we were all in the same statistic class at J. C, if my memory serves me…not the brightest guy in the world.  Good looking, though, what about him?  No, you didn’t?”

         “Oh, but I did.” And Maddie rolled her eyes. “It was just a couple of months after we broke up.  Mom thought he was the greatest thing since canned tuna and was going places, and she really pushed him in front of me.  God was she wrong….”

         “Geeze, sorry to hear that, Maddie.  And is he…?

         “Oh no,  he passed away many years ago.  Been happy living alone since.  He was one big loser, that guy…but he did give me three wonderful kids.  Of course, they’ve all moved on, except my daughter, Helen.  She lives here in the city.  In fact, she’s the one who bought me here.”  She hesitated for a moment and ponders if she should extol her children’s success.  Should she say how well they were doing?  Maddie hated it when others brag about their children, instead she said,” And you?  What have you been doing all these years?”

         Sal began fidgeting with his spoon, calculating which role to play, what voice to use, a trait developed at countless Toast Master meetings. “Well, I got married.  She passed away several years ago.  Also had a couple of kids, all girls.  The marriage was okay.  Remember what we use to say, ‘the secret of a long marriage is the ability of both parties to tolerate boredom with each other’…”

         “Oh, I remember that.  Who said it?  I forgot.”

        “We made it up ourselves.”

         “We did?  Imagine that.  Uh, did you do well?  Financially, I mean.” Asked Maddie.

         “Well, does it look like I did?  I mean, this great Armani bathrobe, and my Pierre Cardin pajamas underneath, and you know I’m not wearing underwear.  I’m also depressed, in need of a shave, and lodged in an old-age home. I think I reek of success, don’t you?”

         “Looks are deceiving, said Maddie.  “I married one that was cheerful as hell, looked terribly successful, and turned out to be just the biggest loser around.  But this place is kinda expensive, and Sue treats you with respect.  I can tell.  In fact, I think she’s kinda afraid of you…which means you’re either a serial killer or you got money.  Have I got that right?  You were cute…once.  Now look at you.  Ugly as sin and probably as rich as Trump.”

         “You know those little plastic tags that tells you the price of an item in the super market?  Well, I manufactured those little tags for most of the chain stores in this state, or I did before I sold the business.”

         “Is there money making those little tags?” asked Maddie
         “You wouldn’t think so,” answered Sal.

          “You know, I’ve always thought of you now and then,” said Maddie, “less as the years rolled by, but I always had that ‘what if’ when I did think of you.” Maddie paused and looked up at the ceiling.  “Sometimes I get sad, very sad, knowing you’ve probably passed away, and we would never meet again, never to have closure, never to catch up on things, or find how things turned out.”   

         “God damn it, that’s…that’s awfully sad,” said Sal, and he brushed the soiled sleeve of his pajamas across his eyes.  And as they chatted on, their talk grew in momentum, with periodical bursts of laughter.  They detailed their lives to each other as if they were strangers; they reminisced about their mutual friends and acquaintances, living and dead, their whereabouts, their destinies and the surprise at what they had became, of old haunts and restaurants that no longer existed.  The hour passed, the fuel of gossip turned into embers and the silence between sentences began to lengthen.  And near the end, they both became quiet, both staring into space. Finally, Sal spoke up.

         “But here we are…and I thought of you a lot, too,” said Sal. “I thought of writing…I knew where you lived but not the address.  I couldn’t bring myself to finding out.  Anyway, I was already married, and when my wife, Annie, died, I just kinda gave up on everything and moved back here.  Got into this rest home so the kids don’t have to worry about me.   What about you?  Same reason?”

         “No.  I hate goddamn places like this.  My daughter wants to put me in here.  But never mind all that.  What bothers me right now is…why did we break up?  Do you remember?  It was your last semester in college and I was still a junior.  We were together for…what …nearly a year?  It was something to do with…I really can’t remember.  I do remember it was at my mother’s place, and you were talking to my mother, and I got angry and I screamed at you.  You slammed the front door on the way out, and broke the stained glass panel.  Then you ran to your car, that old, beat up Pontiac.  I still remember the blue sun shade in front of the windshields and the fluffy pair of white dice hanging from your rear view mirror.”

         “The car had wires holding up the bumpers. Do you remember that?” asked Sal.

         “Yea and it rattled every time you and I were….” And Maddie began to laugh.  “So, what the hell happened to us?”

         “We were young.  Too young, I guess,” said Sal, amusingly. “I think it was because I agreed with your mother when she criticized you for something…something to do with your appearance.  Anyway, it could’ve been something else, but the main thing was, I took her side too often.  And that one time was one time too many.  I thought about it later and you were right to get angry at me…but I did it only because I didn’t think your mother liked me, and I just wanted to please her.  Anyway, it was just some petty shit… I do remember thinking how grossly unfair of you to suddenly lose your temper and telling me to leave.  So, I did.  I remember slamming the front door when I left but I don’t remember breaking any glass.”

        “Well, you did,” said Maddie.

        “But, you know what?  I was sitting and waiting in the car, hoping that you’d come out and…sort of apologize,” said Sal. “I waited quite a while before taking off.”

         “Bullshit, you did!” said Maddie.  “I knew I was wrong when I yelled at you.  It wasn’t that long when I came out looking for you…and you were already gone.”

        “You came out?”

         “Yes, I did.  And you weren’t there,”

         “Well, why didn’t you call me after?  I waited by the phone.”

         “Why didn’t you?  I waited too,” said Maddie.

         Sal began rubbing his forehead and noticed the assistant director, Sue, and some other people standing by the entrance of the cafeteria.  Sue was pointing at her watch.  “I think our zoo keeper is trying to tell us something.  Is that your daughter standing next to her?”

        Maddie turned her head and said,“Yes, that’s her…and next to her is Richard, my son-in-law.  He’s a prick,”

         “If you say so, then he is.  Look, Maddie, let’s get together here for dinner tonight.  The food isn’t half bad and I’m sure it's complementary for potential residents.  Can’t pass up free food, now, can we?  Go join your kids, they’re looking kinda nervous, and I’ll see you this evening, okay?

         “I guess so.” And Maddie got up from her seat and walked toward the group.  She hesitated, turned, and waved bye-bye.  They all began to walk toward the lobby.

         Richard spoke up.  “Who the hell was that?”

         “Somebody I knew a long, long time ago,” answered Maddie.

         “See.  What did I tell you, mom”, said Helen.  “You’ve barely just got in here and already you’re making friends.  I think this place will really suit you, aren’t I right, Richard?”  Richard and Sue nodded their heads approvingly. “So, should we sign up today?  Might as well.  We’ve been to half a dozen places and you’ve got to agree, it’s the best so far.”

         “No, I don’t like this place,” said Maddie, suddenly.  “I want to leave now.  And I don’t ever want to come back.”  And she hobbled toward the entrance leaving the group standing there, all puzzled and confused.  Maddie didn’t look back.  She reached into her purse for her cell phone.  She punched in a number, waited for an answer and said, “Joanie, you wouldn’t believe in a million years who I saw today…”



















Monday, July 17, 2017

Putin's Plan


                                                                    Putin's Plan                     

         A Top Secret phone conversation between Viadimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov was hacked by Wikileaks on January 4, 2017 and released on You Tube on July 18, 2017.  1st voice was identified as Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.  The 2nd voice was identified as Viadimir Putin, President of the Republic of Russia.

Sergey Lavrov:  Good Evening, President Putin.  I hope I’m not disturbing you.  I am just calling to congratulate you on your victory.  We did well in the U.S. elections, did we not?  We now have powerful friends in the White House including its leader, that red headed fellow, uh, what’s his name?

 Viadimir Putin:   Ha. Ha. Now, you are being facetious, Sergey.  Of course you know the name of the man with the funny comb over. 

 SL: I admit I do.  I’m just having a little levity.   But you must admit, he does have an odd name…does not sound very Presidential, a name I would give to my pet donkey.  No matter.  What am I to do next?  As your foreign minister, I await your instructions

 VP:  This victory is only the beginning, my friend.  We must keep focus on our policy to weaken the United States.  Our next step is to strengthen our ties with…..Ah…Sergey, you have many years in the diplomatic corps, have you not?  You have much experience. If you were in my position, what would you do next?  Who should we strengthen our ties with?  I value your opinion.

 SL:  I’m glad you ask.  I have anticipated your concern and I have given it much thought.  If I were you, I would strengthen ties with China, Spain, Greece, and Italy, in that order. 

 VP:  Why those country, and why in that order?

 SL:  Well, China is first… because it is huge, and its butt is right next to our cheek. Trump’s “America First” policy to create more jobs (an illusion of course), and his negative attitude towards China will make trading difficult between the two nations.  We can take the place of the U.S. as their largest trading partner.  Next will be Spain, because it is in turmoil with Basque separatist.  We can spread hate and confusion.  With our computer manipulation, get our man elected, and pull Spain out of the EU.  Greece and Italy are ripe with hatred caused by the large number of refugees pouring across its borders (something we take credit for).  We can easily spread chaos with fake news and, again, have leaders, favorable to us, elected.  These nations are the underbelly of Europe and we can influence them to quit NATO.  Then, I am sure, NATO will collapse.

 VP: Blessings to the Czar, this sounds like an excellent plan.  Then, what would you do if you were me?

 SL: (excitedly)  Then I…I would extend our influence by putting our resources into the infrastructure of those countries, open trade, open banks, partner up in all their new construction, spread some of the work to the Trump Organization, thereby cementing our friendship with their red headed leader.

 VP: I like that metaphor…new construction, cementing friendships …very good Sergey.  Continue. 

 SL:  Thank you, your Excellency.  With new construction, we can offer the Trump Organization a slice of every contract, a hand in every sub-contract; sweeten with interest-free loans provided by our numerous oligarchs who owe their fortunes to you….

 VP:  Hmmm…Sergey, if such dealings were uncovered, wouldn’t Donald stand a chance of being impeached?  We would lose our most powerful ally in the dismantling of America.

 SL: I do not think so.  Almost all of Congress who can proceed with acts of impeachment are spineless, and are more concern with feathering their own interests than the welfare of their country.  Those with a resemblance of spine have been fired or removed from office.  Besides, deals already uncovered are met with public apathy because of our constant barrage of fake news and lies orchestrated by us and Donald’s constant tweeting. The American public has been overwhelmed with Trump’s bombastic tirades and has become insensitive to the truth.

 VP:  Yes, tell a lie long enough and loud enough and it will be believed.  Who said that?

 SL:  Joseph Paul Goebbels, sir.

 VP:..Uh, and I always thought it was Adolf Hitler.  Live and learn, heh?  So, this would be your suggestion, that we throw our resources into these southern European countries?

 SL:  Yes, and don’t forget China, my president.

 VP:  Ah, no…we mustn’t forget them.  That country is constantly on my mind.  Now, Sergey, are you presenting this idea to me because you really think this is the right direction, or is it that you just want to be the first to kiss my ass by mirroring my thinking, and hoped you guessed right?

 SL:…a little bit of both?

 VP:  Ah…I see that we have here an honest man.  I like that.  I like you, Sergey.  I like you because you think what is obvious and speak your mind.  Sometimes, too much, like my good friend, Donald.  You are simple, direct, and easy to out maneuver.

 SL: You like me because I am like the U.S. President, simple and direct?

 VP: No, my simple friend.  I like you because you are not a threat to me.  Now, getting back to your recommendations, can you guess what countries I would like to develop close ties with?

 SL:  The Baltic States?

 VP:  No. Guess again.

 SL:  England?  It’s a long shot, but we could begin overtures of friendship.  We have before.  And then there is South Korea, perhaps Japan?

 VP:  No, none of the above.  Sergey, do you know why Russia, and also China, has such a war torn history?  Before you answer, let me tell you.  It is because neighboring countries think they are stronger and, by right of arms, deserve all the living space we possess…and, very important, they can reach us by land. And, like China, we have become defensive, bordering on the paranoia.  Look at the United States.  It is strong and healthy because they need not fear their next door neighbors who are either very weak or historically friendly. Their perceived enemies are oceans away…not next door.

 SL:  Are you suggesting we try to make peace with our neighbors?

 VP:  Of course not!  The enmity, of countries touching our borders, is too deep, too historic.  No amount of lovey-dovey with bring them around.  On the contrary, they would think us weak and anemic for even suggesting an olive branch.  No, Sergei, you must think out of the box.

 SL:  What, then, do you have in mind, great leader?  What countries should we invest in rather than Southern Europe or China?

 VP:  South America!

 SL:  South America? 

 VP:  We put all our resources into cultivating South America!  Maybe Canada too.  Do you see my logic?

 SL:  Genius!  I would never have thought of it.  That is why you are our great leader and I am not.  But…if my studies of foreign history serves me…isn’t there a doctrine that prevent foreign influence?  I think it’s referred to as the Monroe Doctrine?

 VP:  Good thinking…but I’m away ahead of you, my friend.  I am aware of such a doctrine but does it apply to business dealings?  And if the Americans raise that issue, we will point out that we are doing exactly what they have done by forming NATO.  Monroe Doctrine or no Monroe Doctrine, we will pour money into South America…especially Venezuela.  Our undermining of the United States of America will start with Venezuela.  We will partner with Trump Enterprise and establish an economical foothold in these countries.  We will sow discontentment and hatred toward the imperialistic nation to the north.  It shouldn’t take much, as they already hate the northern gringos. 

 SL:  Sounds like a plan.

 VP:  Not just a plan, it’s a long term strategy.  It will take time but, before you know it, South America will be one united confederation, our NATO, one solid block united against the oppressive United States.  And we will help our new found friends with trade in arms, munitions, and experience people in the art of warfare. What do you think of that Sergey?  We may even turn Canada against them.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

 SL:  If Trump is impeached, will that affect your plans?

 VP:  Not really…The wheels are already in motion.  What Trump has already done cannot be undone.  He has appointed incompetents that will hold office for a long time.  Sergei, we are home free.  We will see Russia as the dominant nation in our lifetime.  We will be number one.

 SL:  But what about China? 

 VP:  What about China?  Most of their high officials are more corrupt than Trump’s and their only interest is money…and we can work with that.

 SL:  My President, you are a true patriot.

 VP:  Aren’t I though.  It is late and I am getting tired.   Tomorrow I am to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada….in secret, of course…so, Good Night, Sergei Lavrov.

 SL:  Good Night, our most great leader, Viadimir Putin.


         Telephone transmission ceased at 9:33 PM, Moscow time on January 4th, 2017