Be Prepared!

Arms browned, like wide upper branches, wrists tanned and thick, large head covered in silver white prickles, eyes of blue china, dark denim “overhauls”, and a laugh coming from so deep from his insides, we could just breath in the joy, that was Grandpa.

He always said he’d lived more lives than “Carter’s has pills.”  To this day, I have no idea what that means, nor do I care.  It means a heck of a lot in “Grandpa-speak” and I’m fine with that.  Grandpa boxed in church basements, he rode the rails and slept with hobos in those camps written up in history books.  He was a selfish man, he always said, before he was “slain in the spirit,” was “washed in the blood of the Lamb,” and gave his life to the Lord after living a life of sin and sorrow.

Every morning, before he went out to work the farm he loved more’n anything except the Lord God and Grandma, we’d gather in the front room.   Grandpa would read a selection from his Bible and we’d then kneel and pray for the day ahead.   We were a strong Christian family, but Grandpa took it heights we could only observe.  He gave thanks for every drop of rain and every ray of sunshine.  He marveled at the Lord’s work in the very seeds he planted.  He sang hymns at the top of his voice while baling hay and milking cows.  He lived his faith and we never doubted one iota he considered his every day blessed.

As he lived through his years, his only job was toiling the land.  To this day, I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles (we never did believe in swearing, and never, EVER, put anything on top of a Bible….even another Bible!), being a farmer requires the most intelligence and resilience of any profession out there.  He’s a horticulturist, he’s a chemist, he’s a mechanic, he’s a whiz at animal husbandry.  He’s a carpenter and a builder and a plumber and a tree-trimmer, and a hunter, and a dog handler.  He’s a vet,  he runs a dairy, a slaughterhouse, and has to keep the books so the whole thing comes out ahead so he can do it another year.

My Grandpa could do anything.  Anything at all.

And of all the grandkids, why, he loved me best.

He’d never admit it, no, that would be wrong.  But I knew it.    And he knew it, too.  Maybe it was because we shared the same blue, blue eyes.  Maybe because I could stand toe to toe with him, arguing my feelings about secular music or why I wore blue jeans instead of a proper dress.  Maybe it was because I could shoot and drive a tractor before I was in double digits.

Maybe it was because I could make him laugh his down deep belly laugh.

Didn’t much matter then, doesn’t much matter now.  My Grandpa sang German songs his Mama taught him when they come across Kansas in a covered wagon.  I sang them to my kids, too.

Time marches on, though.  Grandma passed away, quietly, happily, gentle woman that she was.  Dogs came and went and new ones came and went, too.  The favorite was always the once just passed.  The farm began to look a little ragged around the edges, and the fence rows became tangled with weeds and brush.  But Grandpa’s faith never waned.  He knew he was inching closer and closer to the Promised Land and since he couldn’t get out to profess his Gospel like he once did, he found himself a new way to advertise and, yes, proselytize, too.

Driving up the lane one fall afternoon, our car rolling up and down the lazy Missouri hills, green and brown grasses waving in the ditches either side of the two lane road, we spotted the never-changing profile of the house and the barn from the valley below.  Looked the same my whole life through.  As we got closer, the house and barn came into better focus and we could see the shape of Grandpa in his rocker on the porch, just like always.

It was when we slowed to pull into the white gravel drive, my Dad hit the brakes hard, slamming we back-seaters back and forward into the bench seat in front.

“Would you look at that…..!”  Wonderment in his tone.

We kids tumbled to the left side of the car, noses to the window.  There, hanging from the mailbox by the side of the road was a sign….

“Prepare to Meet Thy God.”

Oh, Lord.

Couple of us kids got the giggles, it was Grandpa, after all.  But Daddy and Mama looked stern, opening their car doors with purpose and slamming them with force.

“Daddy?”  Mama crunched across the gravel, undid the wire loop holding gate closed, and marched up to the side porch.  Grandpa waved grandly, giddy grin across his face, “Hey, Beppy!” Twas his pet name for Mama.

“Daddy, what is that?”

“You like my sign?  Got it over to the market this week, hung it just yesterday.  Purty, ain’t it?”

He was proud.  We kids then and there decided which side we were on.

“Now Daddy, you oughtn’t put something like that out for everybody to see.  Folk’s’ll think you’re touched!”

Crestfallen, Grandpa’s smile faded.  We kids rushed through the gate, and hung on his knees and the sides of his chair.  We’d were committed.

“Beppy, you know I love the Lord with all my heart.  I want others to know it!”

Mama tacked a different direction.  “Daddy, it hardly sounds like you want to save souls.  It sounds a little more devilish.”

Well, Mama should have chosen her words more carefully.

“Pop,” inserted my Dad, “Folk’s’ll think you’re laying wait with shotgun!”

Well, Daddy should have thought before he spoke.

Grandpa rose from his chair, shedding children, standing tall and strong.  “l tell you what, I’ll not be removing that sign.  It’s a light in the darkness, a beacon for the weary.   I am proclaiming my Lord to the world and I shall not be deterred!  And that’s all I will say on the matter.”

We kids all nodded.

And that was, indeed, that.  The sign stayed.

And the mailman wouldn’t deliver mail.

And the sign stayed.

And the man delivering the gas stayed on the road running a hose to the tank.

And the sign stayed.

And neighbors called instead of stopping by.

And the sign stayed.

And it rusted and needed repairing after a storm left it hanging by  one corner.

And the sign stayed.

And Mama fussed and Daddy pleaded.

And the sign stayed.

 

And Grandpa passed away, out in a field, surrounded by the sky and the crops and the sound of the birds, his last moments resting in the land he believed the Lord had given him.

And the sign, still rusted and tattered, is now behind museum glass and surrounded by mahogany and leather, enjoying a place of honor in our home.

And there the sign will stay.

 

 

 

No Edits! No Redos! Tenets for Living a Guilt-free Life!

Not possible, say ye?
Possible and doing it, says me!

Let the sermon commence!

Consider the givens.

Given: We do things, we do. All day, every day, every which way.

No surprise, say ye.
Clearly, says me!

Given: We make choices. All day, every day, every which way.

Duh, say you.
Duh, says me.

Given: We accept and revel in the praise of good decisions made, Well done ME, and….

Given: We readily and with great dispatch place blame on persons and things, animate and not so animate when results are less than stellar. Bad form, YOU!

Repercussions for decisions and actions a certainty, we must most certainly take ownership for results resulting directly from our words, our thoughts, our influence.

Excuse free? How hard can it be?

Remedy: Accept it as fact. I cause things to happen. I am a catalyst for good, yes, and one for bad. A sideways glance, or a decision made in haste, or a step into a London street without looking the right way (which is RIGHT, of course!), has a consequence. Others play a part, but ultimately, decisions I make begin a course of events.

Remedy: Grow up, folks, we make our own way, step up and accept what happens subsequent to things we do or say. Blame destroys braincells.

(I’m sure of it…..)

Remedy: But here’s the crux of, no, not my argument, but yes, my way of life. With the exception of the minute club of truly evil humanoids (I do question the humanity of some….read the news…..), “I personally believe” that folks like you, like me, want to do the right thing. We truly do want to take the high road, or make sure our kids are properly fed. I simply have difficulty wrapping my gray matter around someone thinking, “Hey, today I think I’ll make a bad decision, just for the fun of it! Vanilla Wafers for dinner! Woohoo!” Whatever our reasons for doing or saying anything, I am adamant we think we’re doing the best thing in the situation.

Remedy: Restating, we want to do the right thing! We do! And given the information we have at any given time, we make a decision based on what we know. (example–In London, I wanted to cross the street without injury. My mama taught me early to look for traffic, I did. I attempted my crossing. I wanted a good result. I did NOT, slim surprise, say to myself, “Hey, how about I cross the street without looking! Hey! Plan B! Awesome!” The fact I looked the WRONG way before being sideswiped by a cursing cabby in a giant black taxi is a choice I have to take ownership of. My choice, my fault. Move on. If my parts are still all intact.)

Remedy: Given the information I have and situation I’m in (ownership of sleepiness or distraction is mine, as well!) at any given time, I make the best decision I can. But! BUT! Given new information, given a new situation, I can make, what? A new decision?! Why yes!
Look at you, all grown up!
And again, I shall give it my all to make the best decision I can. (example–offered a delightful shrimp dish, lip-smackingly aromatic, suggested by former best friends earlier, I ordered, I inbibed, I retched, I chilled and fevered, and missed the rest of my seaside vacation. Best info resulted in “Hey, Shrimp!” Not a bad decision, but a bad result.
Trust me. Bad.
I had no reason NOT to try the shrimp. It was recommended by trusted chums, prepared and served at a clean, oceanside restaurant, and it smelled of heaven and angels! Can I fault my decision process? No. No. No guilt there. No reason to second guess. Just, sadly, an outcome I consider less than…..expected.)

Result: Guilt-free? Yes. I did the best I could with what I had. Do I wish the result had been….less explosive? Of course.
Oh my, of course.
Will I take greater care in food selection once my appetite returns? Most assuredly. New information means new decisions.

Ad infinitum.

Sermon concluded.

Hallah Hallah, Amen!

Durned Skeeters

Durned skeeters, been itchin’ and a’scratchin’ all day long.  My ankles is plumb swoll all the way ’round, little red dots all puffed and red on account’o I’m ‘llergic.

‘Course, them’d be chiggers, them little red specks what burrow down under the skin.  Them there’s what I’m ‘llergic to, mainly.  I can swat at them skeeters when they land, sometimes before they sink they pointy sucker into my person,  It’s them chiggers you cain’t never see, much less swat at.  And you sure cain’t step on ’em like crickets or beetles.

But I’ll sit here, just like she asked, ol’ Mrs. Pauley from across the way.  Last thing she said to me whist she was bein’ hurried out the door by them two big fellers, she said, “Melvin?” she said, “Melvin, you be sure to watch for ol’ Mule, you hear?  He’s done run off, I looked and hollered, but he ain’t come home yet.”

Then she give a hateful look to the two fellers, who done right by a’lookin’ the other way, “I got to go now, but ol’ Mule, he’ll need lookin’ after, feedin’ and waterin’ and a bone to chew on now and then.  You’ll do that for me, won’t you, Melvin?”

She’d glisteny, watery eyes most all the time anyways, but this day they was a little wetter than usual.  Reckon these fellers wouldn’t listen to reason, ol’ Mrs. Pauley needed to gather up her dog before she up and went away for good.  They needed each other, was the way I saw it.  But ‘parently that weren’t the way THEY saw it.  They was a’hustlin’ her out right now, checkin’ the door, certifyin’ it was locked up hard and tight.

Ol’ Mrs. Pauley held an old green Samsonite close to her chest, and me, I figured it was purty much all she had left in this world.  I sat on the curb just across the street, a’itchin’ and a’scratchin’ and I nodded.  Sure.  Ol’ Mule was near family to me, too.  I’d keep a lookout for him, he always come home after a good rabbit chasin’ in the woods down the way.

Sure, I nodded.

See, here’s the thing.  Mrs. Pauley, crippled and more’n a little poor, neglected by her boys, six I heard, and now a widder three months gone lived in the little used-to-be green house just ‘cross from me and Daddy.  Lived there as long as I can remember, and I lived a durned long time, more’n a dozen years.  When Mr. Pauley was livin’, they’d have us over for homemade ice cream, Daddy and me, and we never once turned them down.  I assumed them boys, six I heard, once growed, left and for certain just forgot all about them two old folk.

‘Course, they had ol’ Mule, dog they raised from a pup.  Ragged and ever color a dog could be, white and brown and black and gray, and ugly as the back of my dead mama’s mirror.  But that dog could hunt.  Brung back his own dinner mostly, rabbits and squirrels.  And when he stunk from the hunt, Mr. and Mrs. Pauley made him sleep out on the front porch.  He’d howl and carry on till one or the other hollered out the winder to shut the heck up.  And ol’ Mule, he’d shut the heck up and sleep till mornin’.

Now, sad to say, Mr. Pauley, rest his soul, passed on near three months ago, just as school let out for the summer.  Old as the hills, it was bound to happen, though I’d o’thought it’d be Mrs. Pauley who’d kick the bucket first, her being pale and frail and fra-gile-like.  Ol’ man, though, took a fall from the tree out back, trying to dislodge a beehive given them fits.  Broke a hip.  Never came back from that, dying from immobility, I reckon.  Just give up.

Kinda assumed them boys of theirs, six I heard, might come back, give grievin’ Mrs.Pauley a hand.  ‘Cause if they was poor before, she alone was destitute.  And didn’t nobody ever come by.

Daddy and me, we’d trim the yard, mostly weeds.  We’d have her over for store-bought cookies and Coke. She liked that.  But her sad eyes told a tale when she tossed a wave our way, headin’ back over to her used-to-be green house ‘cross the street.  Times was hard and she was old and all she had was ol’ Mule.

Don’t it beat all, though?  When it rains, well, it pours like the dickens.  Just as she was catchin’ some sort o’rhythm, takin’ mornin’ walks, back to wavin’ as passersby from the old rocker on her rotten front porch, and riskin’ a half smile now and ever so often, I was just a sittin’ on the curb like I am right now, still scratchin’ and itchin’ them durned skeeter bites and them burrowin’ chiggers, when a streamline black sedan pulled up, parking dead in front.

Slidin’ out, oily like, was some feller who straightening his tie and buttonin’ his suitcoat over his fat belly, marched straight up to the porch and pounded hard, twice, on the screen door.

I recall it took some time for ol’ Mrs. Pauley to make it to the door, and ol’ Mule, he was barkin’ up a storm.  Clear HE didn’t like this man. Clear I didn’t much either.  Him and Mrs. P. had them some words, couldn’t hear much from ‘cross the street, but Mrs. Pauley was a’shakin’ her head, then disappeared inside.  And the oily fat man oozed into the sedan and slid on down the road.

Next few days was a near parade of activity.  An ancient truck from the Salvation Army come and cleared out battered chairs and a saggy couch, plus some boxes of what looked to be books and clothes.  An old picture of some army fell to the wayside, stepped on and crushed by them Salvation workers, pressed right down into the dirt.  Next come some exterminators, sprayin’ this and that.  Didn’t near get all the bugs livin’ ’round here.  Didn’t make a dent in the skeeter population.

Somebody’r other found the fusebox outside and turned off Mrs. Pauley’s power.  She lit her way come nighttime with candles and a kerosene lamp.  I could see ’em through the window, whist I was on the curb ‘cross the street.

Daddy, sometime sittin’ out with me, told me the old lady was bein’ e-victed, being sent out of her family home where she and Mr. Pauley and they boys, six I heard, lived they whole lives.  At least all of mine, what I can remember.

Daddy said, too, she tol’ the landlord in no uncertain terms, she’d leave over her cold dead body.  And that’s when that slimy pauncho so and so turned off the power, leavin’ Mrs.Pauley alone in the dark.

Daddy said was no way she was going to win.  Law was on the landlord’s side as she ain’t been payin’ rent for at least as long as Mr. Pauley had been gone.

And now the day had come.  A pair o’ big burly fellers, leanin’ more to fat than muscle, come to the house, lookin’ embarrassed but determined.  Probably wouldn’t get paid till the deed was done.  I seen ’em, from the curb ‘cross the street, knockin’ and knockin’ till finally even Mrs. Pauley couldn’t take no more.  She come to the door dressed in her purtiest green sweater, near a match to her used-to-be green house, and head high, she marched out to their shiny four door, when she hollered over to me.

“Melvin?”  That’s what she hollered,like I done toll.  “You give him a good home, you hear?”  I nodded, sure, but kept on scratchin’ my itches.  Ol’ Mule, we’d take him in, sure.  I nodded again, real fast and real strong.  She looked at me hard, then satisfied, she tossed her Samsonite into the backseat, and after a long last look at what used to be her home, she allowed herself to be driven away.  I watched ’em till I couldn’t see even a puff of exhaust.

That was this mornin’.

This is this evenin’.

Ol’ Mule ain’t come home yet, but I promised ol’ Mrs. Pauley.  I’d sit right here till that ol’ dog made it home from the hunt.

Itchin’ and scratchin’, durned skeeters.

But a promise is a promise.  And like I said,

I done promised.

The Ocean Blue

Emptiness.

Nothing ahead, no

Nothing behind, and still

I fear nothing, I truly fear

Nothing.

No feeling, no wit,

No sorrow, no guilt,

No anxiety, no anticipation, no chocolates. 

No babies, no applause, no sweat.

Days upon days of caverns ready to fill.

Plates to fill.

Cups to fill.

Time to fill.

Minds to fill.

Me to fill.

Fight against it, fill ‘er up, I say, 

Every moment of every day, I say.

For the opposite of smiles and watermelon

And bee stings and hopscotch and tussles.

Is emptiness.

Without description…..

 

 

 

 

No description

Mama Bear

Sitting forlorn and slightly askew, a way up high, hidden behind stiff-legged Barbies and Bennington High School Swim Team awards, lists a sad little, mottled little, tattered little bear.
Never ever, ever “Teddy’s” at this house, all sported particular names of just their own. There is Voltaire Bear, and Trudy 1 along with Trudy 2 (twins, so named when one was replaced with a duplicate when the first was thought lost. Not so. They now live pleasantly together in another room, and a place of prominence.)
But this sad, worn and torn, colorless, barely stuffed animal, forgotten now, had heretofore had a place of honor. Always, ALWAYS, in the arms of our first born, a feisty, full of animation, beautifully headstrong girl, Katerina. Mama Bear was the first, sleeping in the crib by the powdered and diaper infant. She hung with a Velcro strap from the bottom of the safety seat in the car. She attended pre-school, had her own chair at the dinner table, along with a parade of special beds made from discarded tissue boxes and Goodwill discards.
Katerina, still headstrong, grew up and on, Girl Scouts and Explorers and after school clubs. Mama Bear, while not always invited, waited patiently in her special place in front of the prettiest pillows on the bedspread of pink and green. Kat used her for a pillow, for a bookstand, and always Mama Bear’s eyes gleamed.
And when Kat entered her in a “Most Loved Stuffed Animal” contest, is there any doubt she handlily wom a First Place ribbon? Kat is sure it’s because Mama Bear was left in the rain more than once, and pitiful translates to pity. I prefer to think, however, Mama Bear whispered promises in someone’s ear. She had a way, that bear.
No surprise, though, as Kat danced down her merry path though life, Mama Bear found herself not watching from her exalted spot on the bed, but now from the dresser, then later from the top shelf.
Up and on and out, children become independent and leave even loved ones behind. Just this day, cleaning out Kat’s closet, sorting and sending items and memories along the way to new lives, Mama Bear peaked out from behind a particularly well-dressed Barbie Doll, clearly faded and sad in comparison. I struggled just a moment on whether to allow her a dignified end to her dark closeted exile. This time, though, she whispered to me.
“Makes no mind if I’m not in the middle of the dance. I will always be Most Loved, no matter where I sit.”

I think I shall leave her on the shelf, for now. For she is a Bear of great wisdom.

Living in Italics! A commentary on a freewheeling writing style…..

Up front and personal, I’m confessing I’m sliding willingly and purposely into a stylistic Never Neverland…. and will speak to the reader, individually and collectively.    This is a huge No No in the world of the professional writer, and Mrs. Stengal of eighth grade Creative Writing in Urbandale, Iowa would frown and send this back for a re-write….because secretly she liked me and wouldn’t give me bad marks without first giving me an opportunity to….toe the line….

She played a significant role in my life.

And no, I still don’t toe the line, not all the time, not now.  I speak and think and write  boldly, and in italics and make major use of exclamation points!!  And ALL CAPS!  And “quotation marks!”   I’ll use runon sentences and misspellings when the mood strikes and I just can’t get past my inspiration to finally complete a complete thought because there’s always a new one looming over there yonder on the horizon…..

And sometimes?  Maybe?  I use punctuation incorrectly or colloquially, which is code for incorrectly.  Or maybe?  Complete sentences?   Not necessary.

I’ll always appreciate a second chance a la Mme. Stengal, though, even if I don’t utilize it.

So here I am, writing to you, telling YOU, how I live, how I think, how I express myself when I’m alone and thinking, when I’m not alone and thinking, when I’m not alone and not thinking and just letting ‘er rip out loud.  

What I’ve newly discovered, through exercises just like this, is, (and now another glaring No No, repeating verbatim what I’ve already said!) I think, speak, experience, gloat, ramble, pontificate, all these things….in ITALICS!

Like lakeside waves dusting up and back on a sort of sandy beach, I speak loudly and softly. There are Highs and lows, Roars and whispers, Ups and downs and sideways and every which ways.  And generally, most often actually,  in the same sentence.

Imagine!!

Seldom speculation, my life is mostly exclamation, exacting, precise, and committed.  I’ve never met a Thesaurus I didn’t like.  Until, that is, until the next moment and the next proclamation.  A series of the same pass across my Technicolor brain, hued like Sunday’s funnies, a cartoon of singular frames which form a panel chiefly because of proximity, seldom because they’re related in style or message.

Have I mentioned  I’ve never met a Thesaurus I didn’t like?  I’ve not yet opened one, but the covers are pretty, and just the stacks of books filled with words and more words arranged about my desk send me hither and thither and yonder.

And I just like saying the word, “Thesaurus!  Thesaurus!  TheSAURRRRRus!” until tongue-tied…

But I digress.  As I am wont often to do. I justify it my defining it as “moving forward.”

My thoughts are singular, never dull, often surprising.  Until they’re not.

And then I move on.

I’ve always assumed others bounced through thoughts and experiences in much the same buoyant manner.

Yes!

No!

Look at that!

I’m a believer!

How could he?!

Pink IS the new black!

Plaid IS the new black!

TGIF!

TGIS, S, MTWTh, too!

Short bounces, those, and sometimes longer bounces, like a prolonged hotdog dribble in basketball, inhabit my frames.  These aren’t always so immediately definitive.  I find I particularly revel in these, mulling them over and over in new settings and with new twists.

Like….

“I believe in transparency, but is there a limit?  Should some things remain in the shadow, or be simply forgotten?  I have nothing to hide, decisions I’ve made are decisions I’ve made.  Do they hinder my interactions today?   How much do people need to know to know me?  The me right now? “

or….

“I believe in living a guilt-free life.  I believe, wholeheartedly and without reservation or internal conflict, inherently good people make the best decisions they can with the information they have at the time.  As new information comes to light, or is created, and the original decision is found wanting, why, make a new one!”

which can lead to….

“Whew, I can be arrogant,  tis a good thing most folks don’t know that about me, that I’m a know-it-all Witch.”

(Here, I’ll admit I am unable, even in that innermost inside of that kernel of something holding the essence of the real me….., I can’t mutter, utter,  spell, or otherwise communicate a word of which my mother would not approve.  Nor will I willingly end a sentence in a preposition.  You are now learning my deepest, darkest secrets.)

which then leads to….

“How much should remain in shadow?  How much transparency actually foreshadows the reality to come?  Do I want or need to know everything to make an informed decision about “x” or “Y”? “

Then….

“Yes!”

Or possibly….

NO! BLASPHEMY!”

Constant bombardment!  Brain in overdrive.  Brain in underdrive!

Trying to explain how Thought One connected to Thought 2 to an outsider, defined as someone not resident in my head,  how can I?  In a nano, I’ve sped eons and echoes past what influenced those frames!

Oh, man, try being me!

I mean really!  Do!  The freshness, the newness, exhilarating, all!

Just be sure to document it.

 In Italics!

Huzzah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An “Honourable Gentleman”

(Please use your most haughty highbrow British accent in your head as you read….my word is selected from “The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill.”  A wink in his honour may be apropos, as well.)

 

An ivory envelope, oversized and addressed in large spidery hand arrives at the Yorkshire Club, central London.  A haven of old school, elderly statesmen and peerage.  Only the rustle of the old school newspaper mar the quiet, and the soft pat of footfalls on the thick carpet,  until the Butler, Mr. Salvers, entered the doorway of the library, coughed a quiet cough, disrupting the silence of nearly 400 years.

“Sirs,” he said, newspapers dropped to laps in unison, readers aghast at the inappropriate interruption, “Sirs,we have a letter of some import.”  He looks at the letter lying on the silver tray in his hands.

“I’ve been advised upon delivery to read it to the membership assembled.”

Bowed head, certain his fate would lead him out the door and to the gutter, for what respectable gentleman would hire him now after so despicable a miscalculation, he waited.

Just a few too many moments passed, then the youngest of the elderly whitehairs nodded his way.

“Get on with it, then, Salvers, for pity’s sake,”  dismissively waving a bony hand.  “Get on with it.”

Salver’s own hands, covered in handsome white gloves,  shook as he retrieved an aged silver letter opener from the nearest desk, then stepped back to his spot in the middle of the double entry doors to the library.  For future reference, he noted the difficulty of opening a letter while it lay on a tray needing balancing with both hands….in front of a hostile audience eager to have his head on the same platter.

The deed, ultimately, was done and he slipped the heavy ivory pages from out of their cover, again, waiting.

“Get on with it!”

“Yes, Sir Elmingbird, yes.”

So in a clear voice, louder than history had ever witnessed within these sanctimonious walls, and knowing these may indeed be his last words, he began:

 

 

My Dearest and Most Respectable of Colleagues,

(And you others may listen, as well)

The days of  my life, nee the moments of my days, are resplendent with nattering and chattering, gathering words and phrases and tossing them about like seeds in a field.  I nurture them, water them, even fertilize them with less than appropriate matter and watch them sprout into new and tantalizing words and phrases of a newer more evolutionary ilk.

That old chestnut, “Action speaks louder than word,”…. which reminds me of “Monkey see, Monkey do,”…. but I digress….

Ahem.

That old chestnut, “Action speaks louder than word,” is the foolish bollderall of the incompetent and incoherent.  The world, as I see it and as should you, is held together not with string or baling wire or sealing wax, nor with loyalties built of battle or breeding, but the word, written, spoken, suggested, or reflected upon during contemplative introspection.  To speak is to inspire and perspire.  To communicate is to convince and connive.  To express is to declare and decide.

The most fortunate of you there, listening with pretentious piety, should consider yourselves honored and yes, fortunate, to be gathered at just this moment,  you quasi-pseodo gentlemen scattered here and there, noses lifted and mouths tight with indignation.  Let not the unsavory fact of my ownership and solitary leadership of this most monumental of brotherhoods and the building in which you now rest your prestigious rear regions mar my message.”

 

 

Here, Salvers went silent, eyes bugging fairly from his head, searching for respite  or salvation or even dismissal in the faces of the gentlemen seated heavily, and sinking deeper it seemed,  in the deep leather chairs.  Pleadingly, he found Sir Elmingbird, “Sir, shall I…..?”

Sternly, this time, “Get on with it, Salvers.  There must be a point.”

Moistening his lips, Salvers searched for his spot, then with a solemn intake of breath, he went on.

 

“That the men assembled here, as for the last 400 years, have pretended and precluded their importance to the furtherance of prosperity in our world and to the farther reaches of our influence is nothing if not admirable…and abomidible.   To that end, I should like to communicate and express my most sincerest of reflections in the company of like-minded men.

I regret I am unable to attend and pontificate my concerns personally but health and a heavy dose of pomposity preclude my darkening the door.  Suffice it to say, lucky man Salvers shall do my bidding, as I have requested.  Do with him as you will….”

 

 

Salvers’ voice quavered here, losing some of its robustness, but knowing he must push on, push on he did.

 

“…Do with him as you will, for while not colluding with me in confidence, nor having any prior knowledge of my actions, he is a solid man, sound and sure and loyal, and shall retain a place of priority in my employee should you see fit to turn him out.”

 

Salvers swallowed.  All eyes on him now narrowed.  At once.  He must push on.

 

“Whilst my concerns and considerations affect the bulk of the bulkage in the room, I shall limit my comments to barely a few, and not even the most infamous.  The remains and unmentioned should not, however, make the grave assumption they are free of my comment.  I shall, as they say, save it for another day.  In anticipation is born trepidation, great trepidation!

Therefore, my advice? Step lightly, Sirs.  Step lightly.  I have much to say.”

 

 

Salvers gently put the first page aside, hoping against hope the silent tension in the stuffy room would be cut by the old men turning into an angry, white-headed mob, caning him over the head and depositing him outside on the grand front stairs.

This was not to be, but he could no longer lift his eyes.  He’d push on, read on, then flee to the outer world and never once look back.

A sound plan.

And on he pushed.

 

“To the Grand and Exposed General Francis Waldencoop Horsinghouse:

My dearest and nearly oldest of friends.  A grand leader of men during war and endeavor.  Standing resolute, ever pushing onward, you’ve spent your life sacrificing the lives and service of others, standing proudly on their accomplishments, shouting your praises near and far to all who would listen.

You, my friend, are NOT and Honourable Man.”

 

The General stirred, “Here now, what’s this?”  Stomping his walking stick on the floor next to his leathered chair, he harrumphed, “Blasphemy!  Cease and desist this instant!”

But Elmingbird, the newly self-proclaimed spokesman, feeling free of attack or accusation, urged completion, “General, the writer is clearly attempting to circumvent some needful issue in his own circumstance.  Let’s us hear Salvers out, for amusement’s sake, if nothing else.  I for one, had nothing more pressing planned for the next bit.”

The General, not pleased, and so obviously dissatisfied, mumbled, grumbled,  and sank deeper in his seats, holding tight to his stick, should he its need arise.

 

“To my never so faithful and most unpleasant of acquaintances, Reverend Horace Billingchuck Upton,

Arrogance and pride have never a part of your constitution.  Friends, parishioners all, worshipped at your feet, loving you for your humility.  Fraught with open arms and grasping hands, your beneficent countenance hid your most ultimate of desires.  To that end, those poorest of the poor in our spiritual care, they gave and gave.  Of their bounty and their lack thereof.  You so graciously and kindly accepted their gifts, selling them blessings in Everlasting Heavenly Bliss, without a solitary thought to their lot in the life, nor whether there was food on their tables to feed the empty tummies of their tiny children.  Your loving, kindly demeanor implored them only to give more, pushing them to the sharp cliff of poverty and the painful beyond.  You, Sir, live the life of a King, gilded with gold and fed with the finest of fare.

You, Sir, are NOT an Honourable Man.”

 

Somewhere near the fireplace, hidden from view, someone blew heavily into a handkerchief.

 

“To my Grandest most High of Fellows, Baron Fiedler Foosterfund of Sussick,

Tracing your line near back to the Darkest of Ages, you have steadfastly and with courage purported the exploration and intrusion of the Realm to the farest reaches of polite society. You’ve maintained an iron fist while serving your country in policy-making at the highest of levels of government, whilst ignoring or abusing those in your own household.   Your haughtiness in the presence of those of less clear lineage borders on laughability, if only one less noble were allowed such levity.  That you’ve insulted and embarrassed men and women of kindness and goodwill, those who serve you to the best of their limited resource appalls all those at hand. And yet, aware of your singular focus on Kingdom and Country, they remain, true.

You, gallant Sir, are NOT an Honourable Man.”

 

Salvers once again, delicately settled the page on top of the previous.  Last page, only one, and his time would be up.  Push on, Sir, press on. A new life awaits.  Perhaps one without gloves.

 

“And so, Gentlemen, consider this the first of a succulent series of opines from my poisonous pen.  We, not one, are devoid of wrongdoing.  Yet we muster and fluster and putter and find ourselves above and beyond,  hiding our precious selves in this golden palace for protection from the mean reality we see in the faces of those outside.

Rest assured, Hallowed Men, we are none of us above reproach, not one.  And rest assured, furtherly, you shall hear from me again in the morrow and beyond.

For, like you, I am NOT an Honourable Man.”

 

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