A Quiet Evening…

I thought about the title to this post, quite a bit, and simply came up with the one above. I had, of course, a few others in mind but given the evening I suppose the least amount touched upon would suffice.

Although many other titles coursed through my head. ‘A Far Cry’ came to mind but was suppressed.

You see, it remains a rare occasion when both our boys are here, let alone sit at the dining room table, with us, their parents.

The candles were lit, the diffused lights were in place, the ambience was okay; a fire burned in the wood stove. It was cozy. The winds howled outside on this late March evening, the dogs hovered near the kitchen for fallen scraps.

Perhaps ‘A Far Cry’ would have indeed been a better title for we cannot possibly compete with other fellow relatives who live distant yet provide a more pleasing destination, a place where much frivolity, laughter, music, drinks, and superb food reign.

Here, when our simple repast was served, two sullen boys reluctantly sat down, offering not a hint of conversation. The ensuing dinner remained utterly quiet, save for spitting wood in the stove, and the rustlings of canines underfoot, the latter awaiting morsels to rain down upon their eager muzzles.

I don’t know. It remains a sad commentary where, how incredibly rare it is for us to ‘host’ our boys at the table that silence reigns; nary a word spoken, even after attempts at coaxing at least a monosyllabic response.

I suppose it remains the climate to which much gaiety is to be gleaned. Certainly it is not to be found here, where fine comestibles do grace the table, cold beverages brace the inner sanctum of the fridge, and where many animals offer their own exuberance to others rarely seen in this household.

Granted, we do not possess a whiff of bells and whistles. Simply a dwelling with simple fare, a warm interior, cozy beds for those who seek slumber, and always a welcoming front door.

A quiet evening, indeed. Glad to see ‘my’ boys at the dinner table? A resounding yes. Perturbed that not a glimpse of happiness or conversation was to be had? Yes.

Yes, things here in our simple domicile remain incomplete and questionable. It was just good to have the boys here with us, partaking in a simple meal, sitting at the table, their demeanor far removed from the company of mom and ‘dad’.

A far cry of what I expected. But then, too, our 17 and 25 year old sons have their own lives. And perhaps I felt insensitive to their respective needs and thoughts.

One can never, though, anticipate the outcome of such gatherings, nor be disappointed by the resounding silence that accompanies such a meal.

Thank you, though, to both my sons, for having sat with us. Despite the deafening silence during the meal, it was a pleasure to gaze past my plate into their handsome faces.

I love you both dearly. I hope you both know that.

Copyright, 2019, Paul Grignon

 

 

Winter’s End, New Beginnings…

The sun provides little warmth here on the east coast in Massachusetts where I sit nestled on my perch down a trail near a frozen field of white whilst my dogs scamper through belly high snow.

The times of late beckon much pondering: about life, work, existence, the past, and yet, most importantly my Love, my sons, and all our assorted pets.

Ruminating upon such things tends to magnify other important details that threaten our very domicile; past looming creditors that appear out of the azure, replete with threatening letters; hearing from our tax man that, because of the Orange Imbecile that resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (does he, though, deserve the capitals for his pathetic work in the Capitol?) we are to receive thousands less than presumed, rendering us once again in arrears to friends’ generosity with their past loans.

What to make of all this as I sit on a ragged blue chair eyeing the fallow field before me? What to make of such things? It is, I am quite certain, a familiar lament to thousands—nay, millions—of other fine folk drowned in similar debt and circumstances.

What can one do? What is the remedy? What steps can I take to alter this vicious cycle of crushing debt and allow a semblance of calm to once again enter our fractured lives?

Hmm. Such queries, such questions. What to do, what to do.

I return—always–to a most inspiring friend and constant blogger, one who provides insights and kind words, a self-less soul who continues, unabated, with wonderful posts, a consummate writer who always leaves a pleasing message to all who reply to his lovely prose.

I am, of course, talking about Sir Eric Alagan, he of writtenwordsneverdie, a most delightful and thought-provoking site that will leave you in astonishment at his prolific output and varied writings. Do, do stop by. Read a few posts. Drop him a line. He shall respond. In moments of doubt, when I question my own writings, of why I have been so far removed from replying to his writings, of why I remain distant from my own computer—my words—it is he who allows me to sit and compose, to revel in writing, to free myself from the daily constraints of nonsense that tends to permeate all our lives.

Thank you, Eric. Just a quick shout out to you, to give you credit where credit is due, to allow other readers a chance to stop by your site and witness the wonder of your words.

‘Tis time indeed that I plunge my own spirit in the craft of writing. Just posting this letter gives me that initial impetus into that realm of words.

Take care, Eric, and thank you.

Your friend from afar,

Paul

Harlequin in the Fog…

The path on summer’s first day gave way to tendrils of mist, a cool breeze enveloped me as I wended down the serpentine trail to my blue perch. Sasha was ahead, already sniffing out what nocturnal creatures passed on by and Andi, behind me rooting around fragrant green shoots, sniffed the air for unseen interlopers.

I reached my chair and sipped at my tepid joe, scanning the lovely field before me, waving grass waiting for a second cut, a lone red-tailed hawk circling high above, screeching at something not privy to my human senses.

Besides the cool current of air, there appeared to be something else, something not seen but felt, some thing out there, on the fringe of field and forest–watching.

The dogs had already sensed it. Their noses turned up, sniffing for whatever waited in the shadows. Bird calls suddenly ceased. The hawk sought flight elsewhere.

I leaned forward, and listened. The dogs were clearly agitated. Whatever was out there remained patient and invisible. Soft curls of mist still lingered atop the grass, undulating sensually with the wind, like seaweed swirling in ocean currents.

I whispered to the dogs, to come closer. They stood, erect, tails rigid, eyes peering in the distance. Whatever lurked on the fringe calculated our presence.

Suddenly, out of the fog, a dim figure emerged, accompanied by discordant tinny music. The noise grated my ears, and the dogs whimpered from the foreign sound and strange figure that slowly moved effortlessly through the grass.

It came through the mist, an ancient fat clown riding a tiny unicycle, with assorted instruments strewn about its body. It wore a broad straw hat, with small skeletons dangling from the brim, the clown’s face hideously revealing a huge toothy grin. The makeup was awful; smeared lipstick riding high on its plump rouged cheeks, mascara seemingly dripping from its dark black eyes. It cackled as it approached.

Balancing on the one tiny wheel, it continued to play this godawful music, tuneless and nerve-scraping, as though it had not in the least bothered to learn the intricacies of any instrument.

The clown stopped playing. The smile turned into a thick line of crimson, its eyes narrowed into furrows of utter madness.

And then it spoke.

Greetings, dear human and canines! I bid you, bid you a good day! Will you, will you stay? For I have a song, a song to play!”

Eyeing this odd character, I swallowed the last of my coffee and put my cup down. Heck, I didn’t have any plans. “Sure, why not. We’ll listen to your dissonant tune.”

Excellent!” replied the clown, as it somehow balanced its bulk on the minuscule bike. “My selection today is about Fate. Are we all ready to hear this, hear this, mate?”

Proceed,” I said, thinking just what I needed today; some hideous obese rhyming clown singing to us on a quiet summer morn.

After a moment fiddling and un-tuning various instruments, he began:

The day was calm, sunny, and bright

With all good, good intentions to write

But the usual demons suddenly appeared

And wreaked havoc between your ears.

Chorus of skeletons: Why? Why can’t I write? It feels so right!”

But the gods above had other plans

And dealt your cards to the Netherlands

Below in hell the devils smiled and danced

Laughing, not believing you had a chance

To compose something—anything

Knowing the curse of hesitancy was your thing.

Chorus of skeletons: Why? Why can’t I write? It feels so right!”

Today, though, I give you advice

To go sit in that chair and pay the price

For if you wallow and despair

The page will forever, forever remain bare

Now go take your dogs and return home

And plunge your spirit in your tome.”

Without a word, the clown whirled around in the wet grass, the ghastly instruments still making a din and, with skeletons swirling about his head, he disappeared into the mist.

Well, you heard him,” I said to Andi and Sasha. “Time to go back.”

We meandered down the path, back to the house and, once ensconced, I ascended the stairs to my garret, sat down in my chair, and wrote this story.

But now, as the clown had said, it’s time to return to my MS.

Time for ink, don’t you, don’t you think?…

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2018 – All Rights Reserved.

The Waterfall Series, #4

A complement to my ‘Field Files’ series, these short stories explain what occurred along the river past the field that meanders near the woods. I can assure you that everything told within these pages is true and factual, based on my own recollection and knowledge of events. There are those, I know, who will be skeptical and will easily dismiss these tales as pure hokum and folderol, but rest assured, they happened. Before making your own hasty decision, I want to tell you about it. Here is my story.

Mr. Bones

It was a brisk late April morning when Andi and I ventured once again toward the Falls. Having experienced a few bizarre excursions of late I wondered if perhaps the river and the Falls held some strange and otherworldly allure, a confluence of dimensions, a time and space continuum, allowing us to witness such unexpected and extraordinary things.

Or, perhaps, like most days, it would be the same; a stroll near fast-moving twinkling water, the slant of early morning sun glinting in the shallows, the soft rustle of young aspen leaves fidgeting from a cool breeze. But one never really knew.

Before the Falls, we descended a small hill that overlooked a baseball field. The park stretched far to the river and, in right field, there was a 12-foot chain-link fence separating the park from the stream. I suppose that after too many baseball prodigies powered balls the distance, the fence was erected to reduce the retrieval of river-soaked Rawlings.

Here, we shuffled past the fence to water’s edge where, being early spring, the water was full and quick, thrashing and tumbling over boulders seen and unseen, a powerful thrust of nature.

Beyond the river lay woods still in winter’s lingering grip, pockets of snow in crevices of trees, only a handful of hickory revealing budding foliage.

I played a game with Andi. He’d root around piles of dead leaves on the field, dried crumbling husks gathered against the chain-links, mere shadows of their past verdancy, sniffing and snorting around for the first signs of field mice or chipmunks. I would return to the river, behind the fence, separating myself from Andi. He’d look up and wonder how he could reach me, perplexed by the barrier.

And that was when he paused. I knew that look. Something profound had spooked him. He stood still, crouched, tail tucked, eyes wide, looking beyond my shoulder. A soft whimper escaped him.

It was then I sensed some thing behind me, hovering near. With Andi quavering like the aspens, I slowly turned to face what frightened my dog.

I peered into the hideous face of death itself. A skeleton held sway, its bony hand reaching up to my throat, thrusting me back against the fence. Andi, clearly agitated, whimpered and wondered whether to flee or fang the intruder.

Pressed against the chain-link fence I stared into the terrible visage of my attacker, its fingers frigid around my neck. But its eyes. Its eyes.

I stared into them and deep within its dark and ancient sockets a tiny flame flickered, a last gasp ember signaling mortal despair. I was mesmerized. The faint flicker of light was far away, recessed deep within the skull, like a Magic eye book illusion, the flame, a small distant iris laced with all human frailty.

It stared at me, moving its repellent head forward, opening its gleaming mandibles and emitted a foul breath, as though carrion long forgotten had suddenly erupted in a noisome and ghastly stench, odorous fumes that permeated the air, fetid noxious smells that crept upon my goose-fleshed skin. And then it spoke.

Be kind to your mother!” it decreed, and nothing more. Then, suddenly, it released me and, with a slight shudder, the skeleton fell backwards into the churning stream, collapsing into a pile of disassembled birch limbs quickly swept downstream, a single white branch catching on a twig of hickory before pinwheeling into the froth.

Be kind to your mother’, it had said as I stared at a wide-eyed Andi, rubbing my neck. What to make of that, I wondered. Have I not been there more to visit since my father died? What the hell did it all mean? Andi and I opted to return home—posthaste—negating our usual stroll to the Falls. We had had enough for the day.

Arriving home and after wiping Andi’s delicate paws, I paused and pondered at yet another chance encounter with…well, with a skeleton no less! Or was it a birch tree? Or, maybe, the bones of my father, telling me to dismiss Mum’s predilection for gossip amongst siblings, to simply indulge an old woman’s desire for family control.

Ensconced in relative comfort with Andi curled at my feet, I wondered what we had just seen. Was it really possible? Did we both see a skeleton rise from the depths of a stream? Did a cold boned specter really clasp my throat? Who’s to say? I simply know we returned safely. I thought whether to tell Julie my tale but I needed to ruminate. Was…was it somehow my dad commanding me to cut Mum some slack? I just didn’t know.

That evening, Julie and I ate dinner at the couch, watching some innocuous show. Occasionally, Andi peered up at me with his beautiful brown eyes, seeming to implore, “Can we walk somewhere else tomorrow?”

But I knew. The river still held more secrets. The Falls, tumbling and beguiling with ancient mysteries, beckoned.

Copyright, Paul Grignon – 2018 – All Rights Reserved.

The Waterfall Series, #3…

The Waterfall Series, #3

A complement to my ‘Field Files’ series, these short stories explain what occurred along the river past the field that meanders near the woods. I can assure you that everything told within these pages is true and factual, based on my own recollection and knowledge of events. There are those, I know, who will be skeptical and will easily dismiss these tales as pure hokum and folderol, but rest assured, they happened. Before making your own hasty decision, I want to tell you about it. Here is my story.

The Gnome

I trailed Andi as we snaked along the path to the falls, Andi sniffing the ground for new smells, perhaps hoping to find a trove of truffles.

We climbed the small knoll to the old stone crest length and gazed out into the lagoon, where a flock of geese paddled languorously in the frigid waters. Sometimes, if you remain completely still, you can witness the arrival of a blue heron. What a magnificent creature!

But something else caught Andi’s attention, across the river. What would I do without his keen sense of smell and sharp vision?

I strained to see what Andi fixated on. Nothing but dead leaves, scrub, and deadfalls, brambles thick with prickers.

And then I saw it. There, blended in the bank, a small, gray naked creature, bent over, oblivious to our presence, busily working its clawed hands on something below, unseen. It seemed to be ripping something apart, bones and sinew shredded with tremendous force.

I’m not quite sure, but I think I saw a splatter of blood.

Suddenly the gray gargoyle turned, startled by our presence. It squatted on its haunches, its large gray wrinkled genitals exposed to us, its scrotum swinging in the winter air like some sort of otherworldly disturbing Newton’s Cradle.

It hissed at us from across the breach, exposing bloodied fangs. Andi quivered, unsure what to do. I stared, mesmerized by this foreign beast, by its nakedness, by its huge hoary bollocks.

Christ, what the hell was that thing?

The creature paused, eyeing both Andi and me, seemingly contemplating what action to take, it’s talons absently working and clawing the cool winter air.

Who the hell knew what to do?

I certainly didn’t. Heck, I’ve never seen a tiny naked grizzled beast staring back at me with fangs red, its huge silvery bat ears twitching in alarm.

I stared and stood along with Andi, quietly hushing him to be still, hoping he wouldn’t embark upon one of his patented whimpering bouts after witnessing something wholly foreign to his canine orbs.

The gargoyle seemed placated. It relaxed its raised talons, flexing them in the crisp winter air, bending them ever slightly, dipping its gray mass of a head down. Soon a crunching sound filled the air.

It was then I realized it was feasting upon the carcass of a fawn.

Slowly, Andi and I stepped back, careful not to snap a twig or rustle bone-dry leaves, and we edged down the trail, distancing ourselves from the ravenous gnome.

Well, Andi, there’s something you don’t see every day.” Andi looked up at me as we walked, his anxious eyes telling me that of late he hasn’t been fond of these strolls.

But, Andi,” I said, looking down at him,” it’s never a dull moment, is it?”

He looked up with worried eyes and then kept walking, yearning for the warmth and safety of the sofa. Who could blame him? Perhaps he thought he could have been that creature’s next meal.

We kept walking. Every once in a while I’d turn and look over my shoulder, making sure the small gray thing wasn’t loping behind us, dragging its knuckles along the path, itching to eviscerate us on the spot, a postprandial snack of sorts.

Nothing was there. Just the soft whisper of a gentle wind in the quavering aspens. I turned and kept pace with my distressed dog.

Almost home, Andi, almost home.”

 

Copyright, Paul Grignon – 2018 – All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

The Waterfall Series, #2…

The Waterfall Series, #2

A complement to my ‘Field Files’ series, these short stories explain what occurred along the river past the field that meanders near the woods. I can assure you that everything told within these pages is true and factual, based on my own recollection and knowledge of events. There are those, I know, who will be skeptical and will easily dismiss these tales as pure hokum and folderol, but rest assured, they happened. Before making your own hasty decision, I want to tell you about it. Here is my story.

The Yeti

Poised at the brink of the falls, I was mesmerized by the allure of water as it tumbled over the edge, as if beckoning me to follow its thundering journey downstream, into oblivion.

Andi, of course, was the first to smell something out of the ordinary.

“Andi! What is it?” He was staring past me, further along the river. He was perfectly still, wondering how to react to what he saw.

I whipped around and, nestled between a copse of birch, a Yeti sat hunched, staring at the same swirling water. He seemed sad.

I stepped off the edge and made my way toward the creature. I thought I’d have a chat with him. After all, how many opportunities does one have to talk to the abominable snowman?

I approached, thinking about an opening line.

“Say, not a bad day for February, is it?” Well, I didn’t know what to say! I mean, who does when confronting an enormous creature with thick white fur, looking dejected on the banks of a river far from his home.

He looked confused, lost, wondering where in hell he was.

“Um…you know you’re quite far from the Himalayas. In fact, you’re over 7,000 miles from Tibet.”

“Damn! Now what?” he uttered, his red-rimmed eyes peering at me through matted fur. “How am I going to get back?”

“Uh, well, listen,” I said. “I…I’m just trying take my dog for a walk. I had no idea I’d run into you.”

The Yeti just sat there, hopeless, slumped against a withered birch. He let out a giant-sized sigh.

“Hey, you know,” I offered, trying to cheer him up. “If you can hitch a ride east on the Pike and then to East Street in South Boston, you can probably catch a freighter at the Conley Terminal.” It was all I had on the spur.

The Yeti seemed to ponder my words, and a glint of excitement lit up his tear-stained, snotty face, his eyes suddenly wide with possibility.

He heaved himself skyward, towering over Andi and me and breathed in the mild winter air. (Andi had no idea what to do; he stood rigid, gazing up, astonished at this gigantic creature.)

The beast looked down at me and extended a shaggy, leathered black hand, rimmed with wet fur. I shook it and he simply said, “Thank you.” And then it crashed through the trees, in the general direction of Route 90.

“Shall we go home, Andi? Get you a snackie?”

Andi, still stunned, peered over my shoulder to where the Yeti had disappeared into the darkled woods. He didn’t know what to make of the encounter. Neither did I.

“Goodbye and good luck!” I said into the void, wishing my enormous white-furred clad friend safe travels.

 

Copyright, Paul Grignon – 2018 – All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

The Waterfall Series, #1…

 

The Waterfall Series, #1

A complement to my ‘Field Files’ series, these short stories explain what occurred along the river past the field that meanders near the woods. I can assure you that everything told within these pages is true and factual, based on my own recollection and knowledge of events. There are those, I know, who will be skeptical and will easily dismiss these tales as pure hokum and folderol, but rest assured, they happened. Before making your own hasty decision, I want to tell you about it. Here is my story.

The Beaver

We descended the small hill near the soaked playing field, where Andi proceeded to scatter a raucous flock of Canadian geese into the pallid grey winter sky.

It was our usual haunt, not far from home. From the hill one can hear the rush of water from the river and the cacophony of the falls.

There are many locations along the river where we pause and take in the grandeur of nature. I was peering deep into the woods across the bank, when I heard a sudden thud to my left.

I turned, looked down, and saw a beaver hefting a hatchet, chopping away at a hickory along the bank. He wore doll-sized OshKosk overalls, and a John Deere baseball cap sideways at a rakish angle. Shavings of bark and pulp lay strewn at the base of the poor tree. He was sweating profusely.

Tentatively, I ambled over and inquired about the hatchet. The beaver turned and showed me his mouth.

See these? Do you have any idea how hard it is to cut down a hickory with them?”

His front teeth were nothing more than stumps, stunted from far too many forays munching trees.

I…um…I’m sorry to hear that,” I replied. “I suppose that’s why you’re wielding that tool.” I then pondered as to how in hell he managed to procure his present attire. And an axe.

Damn straight,” he said. “I’ve given up using my chompers. Heck, I can’t believe I never thought to use this damn thing sooner!”

I watched as he spat into his paws, hoisted the tool, and whacked the tree again. And then I wondered how it was possible I was even conversing with a beaver.

Andi, oblivious to the exchange, peed for the third time and then we ventured home, accompanied by the dwindling sounds of both hatchet and the falls.

 

Copyright, Paul Grignon – 2018 – All Rights Reserved.