Tag Archives: Story

Farther then the Sun

A hauntingly beautiful song by Caroline Lavelle! As I listen to this song I am drawn to a moment of pure clarity. The music, the words, the melancholic melody puts me in a dream state and I just melt away into the words. I am pulled in & even to the point of being absorbed by the words. I feel her emotion and even feel the anger that gave life to her words.

The sea it freezes over….
to trap the light
And I’m in love with being in love
and you were never quite the one.
in Gerda’s eyes, fragments of what you’ve become
and all the moths that fly at night
believe electric light is bright
you are not worthy.”

I love to dig into a song’s lyrics to find its meaning. I love to know what story inspired the creation of the song. So needless to say “in Gerda’s eyes, fragments of what you’ve become” really caught my attention.

This is a reference to Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen.” In the story Gerda is a little girl that goes to the end’s of the world to recapture Kay’s love. Kay was enchanted by a witch’s spell. (Read more about the spell)

Fragment of what Kay has become under the spell – in love with the Snow Queen and no memory of Gerta. He is blinded to the world around him and sees nothing. His heart is frozen over, does not feel Gerda’s love & feels nothing for no one. Gerda gives up everything in her life to search for and save Kay. Her “warm tears” can cause roses to grow from soil that was once frozen over, but cannot find Kay to unfreeze him.

Finally when she does find him and is able to warm his heart and break the spell, they return home to find that the years have past them by and she has lost much more then she thought. In recapturing Kay and his love, she has lost it all!

“you are not worthy, you are not worthy”

So in the song, the writer sees herself as Gerda – in love with the idea of Love and has given everything up for this ideal. Her realization that giving up everything, even her ‘self’ for him – is what she is questioning. Now in her mind is he “worthy” of her love? The story leaves you wondering – what the future holds for them, we do not know. Is he ever going to be capable of loving her as profoundly as she does him?

Will he ever be free from the ‘spell’ he is under….

Her pain & disappointment is strong & I’m feeling it all! This struck a chord with me. I felt as if she was speaking to me. This seems to be a re-occurring theme for me. It is what the old man in my “Bella Mercedes” story and in my “Foolish Old Man” story are doing. Am I too wrapped up in what I’ve lost, that I let the world just pass me by?

I am so wrapped up in my business. Paying bills, making my business grow, making my life work; grieving my lost ones, that I do not see Mercy’s moments of hope (tears). Am I too frozen over for her warm tears – capable of thawing roses frozen over by a harsh winter – it may not be capable of reaching me. How am I going to be worthy??

This song is haunting, spellbinding and beautiful – just beautiful in it’s message!

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Another Day at the Point.

(Another premise for a short story… Please let me know what you think.)
It was a typical New York summer morning, you know, hot, muggy and the air had the thick charge of war. Last night was not a typical Friday night, though. The sounds of battle were louder than usual. The gunfight, the police sirens glaring and the urgency of the ambulance’s lights seemed closer. The popping of gunfire kept me sitting at the edge of the bed, curled up in a corner. It goes on for what seems like hours. The noise constantly going and the sounds of timber popping in the fire! I don’t know if I could go out there and do that.

I head outside for some air. Sitting on the front stoop waiting for what – I don’t know – just staring off into space. My mother comes out a few minutes later sees me sitting there. What’s the matter honey? The sounds last night kept me up. Don’t worry, honey that was far away – it won’t affect you, she conforts me. With these words, I forget last night’s events. Quikly, she loads the kids up into the Kermit-the-Frog green 1972 Chevy Station Wagon. Every third Sunday of the month, always at six am, we would head down to Hunts Point market. The point, as it’s reputation precedes it, was an unusual sigh of relief from this war zone. It was full of activity and life, unlike this neighborhood.

As we pull away from the house & round the corner, the sights of the South Bronx come into view. Building after building burned to the ground and the unlucky ones that did not burn or collapse, stood like hollowed out skeletons with an empty stare. This created a field of ruble, among empty shells of the past, that my older brother and I would use as our playground.

We were one of the lucky ones. Our block was one of the few that were not destroyed from the usual fires. Each of the houses on our block were owned by normal folks and as such did not suffer the demise of the ones owned by the slumlords. Many of our friends have lost their homes this way.

Finally we arrive at the Point. I love this place! Here I see my mother’s true ability of negotiation. Her strongest virtue is her ability to haggle with the vendors to buy cases of carrots, oranges and tomatoes. She would work them down to the point where the guys would say, lady! I give up – I can’t go that low. At that instant, she would say, Ok kids lets move on! She would take a small step forward and start walking away. Sure enough, the vendors would stop her and a strange thing would happen. Her eyes would light up and she would get this look on her face, she knew she’s got them. As she turns around, she would add, I will only take it, if you throw in two pint of strawberries. Sure enough she would get it and we would be satisfied for the rest of the day of shopping.
Fulton Fish Market
Eating berries and playing safe innocent kids games on the loading dock of the Point. Safety among the chaos of the city.

I liked this story enough that I started a new blog all its own. It is a fictitious journal of the daily adventures of a young boy surviving the urban jungle of the war-torned South Bronx. Check it out!

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Foolish Old Man… – 3rd installment

(Another portion of my short story… Please let me know what you think.)

Kirk finds himself drifting off to the days when he was a good boy. He reminisces about the wooden mop he so proudly rode, as his horse, off to the sunset. Those were the days when life was good. Those were the days that were so rudely taken from him.

At that moment Mercy walks in to pickup Marc. “Hi Kirk”, she says in a soft soothing voice. Instantly Kirk snaps out of his fantasy and enters his reality. Mercy’s voice reminded him of his daughter’s voice & the sentiments of anger and bitterness hits him like the cold chill on a bitter winter’s day. Immediately his facial expression changes. The right brow drooped a little, the fists started to grip the sheets tightly and the hairs on the back of his neck came to attention. Here he finds himself reaching for the past. He reaches deep into the tunnels of his life and pulls out anger. “What are you bothering me for!? Take this kid home so that he does not bother the good folk who are trying to get some rest!”

Mercy sees both sides of Kirk. She glanced in earlier to check on Marc & saw Kirk enjoying a truly innocent expression of love. Now only to be broken by the anger of a bitter old fool! How much more can she take? How much longer can she deal with her father’s illness and Kirk’s self-pity. She asks herself these questions more and more as the days go by. This place, this job, this man! are getting to her and are starting to get to Marc.

Marc had befriended another older gentleman before & as they were growing closer together, the gentleman died. That day, Marc shows up to the nursing home and runs to Carl’s room to show him his new teddy bear – only to find an empty, freshly made bed. His belongings were no longer lined up on the bureau across from the bed either. “Where’s Carl?” is all he said – all that needed to be said. It became clear for him that Carl will no longer be there to play with him. He cried for days. I don’t want him to experience that again with Kirk – how about the day his grandfather passes away? How is that going to shape Marc’s future?

“I can’t do this anymore” exclaims Mercy. “I need to find a better way!”

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Foolish Old Man… – 2nd installment

(Another portion of my short story…)

The next day Mercy was not working for Kirk, because she needed to admit her father into the nursing home for some physical therapy. She’s an old pro at this. This is not the first time she’s admitting someone into the nursing home. See Mercy’s son, Marc, has lost his grandmother about a year-and-a-half ago. She had been ill since 1997 with Alzheimers and slowly deteriorated – until her body could not take it anymore. Mercy had been taking care of her mother for years at her father’s home. Feeding her lunch, changing her diapers and putting her to sleep at nights. But when her father could not endure the trials of homecare, Mercy & her father had a major struggle with what to do next.

Everybody had their opinions on what to do. “I would NEVER do that to my mother” was offered up as a suggestion. “that’s the last place I would put somebody I love” was another suggestion. But nobody was dealing with the day-to-day struggles of taking care of your mother with Alzheimers. Nobody else had to put up with the cursing and screaming that injected negativity into their lives. Nobody else had their heart broken when her mother would answer “no I do NOT have a daughter – you could not possibly be mine.”

Deciding to admit her into a nursing home was the most heart-renching decision Mercy & her dad have ever had to make. After her passing, Mercy’s father could not take the loneliness and suffered a stroke. Today Marc’s grandfather is admitted into the nursing home for physical therapy, in order to recover from the stroke.

Marc comes to visit his grandfather, but the hollers and screams of pain scare him away. So much pain and suffering for a child of four to understand. So he plays in the pristine white hallway in front of Kranky Kirk’s room. This space is full of heart defibrillating machines and lifesaving emergency devices; full of nurses running back and forth; full of light and activity but void of life. Marc plays in his world of endless possibilities and does not ponders about the lifelessness of the space he is in. All this noise of possibilities shatters Kirk’s loneliness. By play fighting with his G.I. Joe action figure Marc disturbs Kirk’s world. “He has an M16 rifle.” he shares with Kirk. Kirk calls him over by asking “what is all the ruckus about, Marc?” Marc continues talking about the M16. You know I had a rifle too, in the war, shares Kirk. The two share war stories – Marc with his fantasies, Kirk with his realities – all in all, just keeping each other company and at the same time comforting one another’s pain.

“Have you always been old? Why does your mom call you Kranky Kirk?” asks Marc. No, laughs Kirk. Kirk shares that his full name is Selkirk Viola, but admits that everybody at the nursing home knows him as Kranky Kirk. I’m not that old – Did you know that I was born August 21st, 1945? And that I used to be a flower child – but Kirk jokes that he, unlike Marc, was a late bloomer. While Marc plays with his G.I. Joe, Kirk tells stories of his days in Vietnam when he would find himself picking flowers for his rifle, while in the middle of the killing fields. This kept him from thinking of the dog tags landing around him, expecting fully to one day seeing his “Viola, Selkirk” tag resting on the ground next to the violets.

Here is where he found his tough shell, which he uses valiantly as a shield to protect him from the sights of death.

Death has become a familiar foe. Everyday the sights and sounds of a nursing home draw Kirk further away from reality. Daily, ambulances pickup those departing for a better place. Their trips – only a reminder of Kirk’s own inevitable destiny. The only thing that brings him back into his day is the times that Marc and his “Desert Storm fatigues” G.I. Joe come to visit his grandpa. On those days Mercy takes care of her father while Marc & Kirk sit and talk.

Marc continues to play with his action figure. “Santa wrote me a letter” Marc shares with Kirk. “Santa does not…” Kirk, realizing that he is about to destroy Marc’s innocence, stops himself. “What? Santa doesn’t come to your room?” Marc asks innocently. “Don’t worry I’ll ask Santa to come & see you – but you have to be a good boy!”

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Foolish old man… – The beginning

Here’s another short story (just the beginning – It is from my old journal – 2003 and the beginning is all I had. I will continue developing the story line & the characters as the story is still alive with me today.)

Here confined to my prison I ponder why my life is so lonely. The blue skies, the sounds of birds chirping and children playing outside adds nothing to my existence, yet here I am. For helplessly sitting in this cold steel chair, whose large wheels were intended to set me free, I find the opposite – I am planted and confined. The roots of my life have taken hold like a 100 year old tall, red oak, keeping me here and here is where I am intended to remain.

“What a pitiful situation” I’ve heard people whisper behind my back, but who cares what they think. Pity is for fools. They do not know me and do not know the roots my life has set! “Push me!” I command to my caregiver. As the chair rolls forward I roll in front of a large picture window. With a blank stare, I gaze the outside world passing me by. In an instant, that world wooshed by and the vertical slats of the blinds, like bars of a cell, smacks me in the face with the reality of my confinement. She continues pushing my wheelchair and reaches over with that soft, perfectly manicured, white-skinned hand of hers to cover me. “I don’t want to be covered!” I tell her, as I pull that quilt away from me. Again she reaches over me, this time with a soft, white linen handkerchief to wipe my chin. Arrrrgggghhh! “Let me be!” I yell at her. Why is she always so happy and upbeat. What gives her the right to spread sunshine where ever she wants? That fool – let me be! “Take me back to my room” I demand & just let me have my life!

Years ago I enjoyed the sunshine and those foolish kids playing, but now the years have dulled my senses & the lack of relatedness has weakened my spirit. Now I live my life as a realist! Sunshine is for those optimistic fools. Don’t they knew that life is just cruel & cold and that is what God intended it to be! Why else would He give me a life like this? “What did you say?” she asks. “Why do you think God did this to you? God is not that cruel, Kirk.” She questions me. “Agghh! He is the one who put me here!” I reply. He is the one who made my kids go away & the one who soured my Xmas forever! “Kirk, por favor! God is not an evil God, He loves all of us, especially now – we need to honor him.” She comforts me.

“Oh, that reminds me, Kirk.” Mercy rudely interrupts. “I need Saturday and Sunday off for the Christmas celebrations and don’t forget that Monday is a federal holiday – since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year.” What! you want three days off! Kirk snickered. That’s outrageous! I must talk to Bill! I don’t think he is going to like that idea. Get Bill on the phone… Craftfully Mercy changes the conversation just to get Kirk’s mind off the subject. “So, you were saying?”

The sun stopped shining for me the day my daughter & Bill moved away. They took my granddaughter away from me, Kirk explains. See they don’t come here to visit me anymore. Their lives are busy in California. They have businesses to run, several properties to maintain and the mortgages all needs to be paid. Who is going to pay those bills if they do not work so hard? The kids have afterschool activities that they need to be a part of. They are busy taking the kids to soccer games. My granddaughter is the captain of the team, you see. “kids you say? I’ve only heard you talk of your granddaughter.” Mercy adds. Yes, kids – I even have a six year old grandson that I’ve never met. His name is Timmy. They are just too busy, you see. You understand right? They’re just too busy! Kirk continues almost in a justifying tone of voice. It’s a very long flight to come to Florida and visit me, but that’s ok – I am fine with it, Kirk continues comforting himself. Don’t concern yourself – it’s really fine.

But I know this year, yup! This year my daughter & Bill will be here for Xmas! “They will bring the kids this year! – at least to see what they’re paying for” Kirk sarcastically added. “Oh! they love you very much. They will come SPECIALLY to see you. So tell me about your daughter in California.” She comforts him. Smiling, Kirk reminisces about Bill’s house.

Ah! They moved out to California in 1997 for Bill’s businesses. “1997? that’s the year my mother started getting sic..” Mercy tries to add, but Kirk rudely interjects his continuation. Bill has a big two-story Colonial out on the point, you know. The house sits high at the end of the cul-du-sac. Its yard and pool overlook the cliffs below and has a spectacular view, through the rows of Royal Palms, out to the blue ocean. They always have the best decorated house on the block. Tinsel on the bushes, lights on all the eaves, wreaths on every door and white rope lights around every tree. “The best for Christ’s holiday.” Mercy adds. Yeah sure – for Him, Kirk replied. They are very successful you know. Bill really knows how to run a business, unlike my other daughter & her no good husband, Carlos.

They had me over one year, to spend Xmas at Bill’s house. I helped Bill put up the lights. I even remember that Bill & I climbed up to the roof to put up Santa’s sleigh next to the chimney. Ahh! It was funny, I was holding Santa while Bill was tying Rudolph to the red-brick chimney, Kirk continues. As Bill came around to my side, he slipped on a wet roof tile. I instantly reached out, grabbed his hand and plopped him back up onto the ridge cap – all while still holding on to Santa. All this excitement, while looking out over the blue ocean and seeing the most beautiful red sunset I have ever seen. God, what splendor!

“Good save, old man!” said Bill with a sigh of relief. It was really funny! – after the fact…

That was the last time I was in California. “Why is that?” asked Mercy. I don’t know! We had a discussion. They said I was too frail & that the trip would be too tiring for me to endure again, continues Kirk. They were right. Don’t you remember, that following Autumn the doctors confined me to this God forsaken wheelchair.

Mercy always wondered what could have occurred that separated Kirk & his wife from the kids. They treat each other as acquaintances, not as family. Even when the kids call to see how Kirk is doing, they refer to him as “him.” “Hi Mercy, how is he doing? Everything is ok? Tell him I said hi.” Not as dad, pop or sir, just him – coldly. They ask about him, but usually do not speak with him directly.

Most of my stories come from my dreams. For this one, I dreamt that I was confined to a wheelchair and I remember the feeling of helplessness. It was the most pitiful situation, but I do remember being too self-consumed that I could not focus on the face of the woman who was helping me around. She seemed to be very familiar, but I could not make out a face. She was very warm, soft & helpful – like an Angel. But most of all I got the feeling that she cared more about helping me than her own needs. Lots like Mercy, but I could not feel her presence.

This story comes from a time when my family & I were visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home. I would see old folks there who were lonely on the holidays – some of them did not have anybody to visit them while others had a very large family – but still no visitors. My wife and my son befriended a couple of them and used to bring them gifts for Xmas. I would see their eyes light up when my son gave one of them a brown teddy bear with dark brown button eyes. The joy they felt made my son smile.

So I’m posting this here to remember those old folks on this holiday season. And also to revive my writings that I have put off for years.

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