Grandma's House

Years go by and, still it's the same. Floral wall paper crumbling away as I lay on the old bed upstairs, I can smell the generations and history of my family here. Grandma isn't is spry as she used to be, which means the upstairs doesn't get quite the attention it use to, but no one cares. What is it that happens here, and not just here. This wasn't always my grandparents house. Hundreds of miles away was another country castle, made of old limestone brick that would bake in the summer sun, and it was the same there as well.

Laying awake, I stare at the ceiling. Spidery cracks spread from larger ones as the ancient plaster begins to give way to the inevitable, and I am transported to another time an place. Home is a state of mind, and this is one of those moments in time when it hits like a charging water buffalo. In my life, I've had many homes, but there are only a handful left that bear any meaning.

I wonder about my kids, and what memories are being locked away to bring back. What little gems do they absorb and file away? I had a very special opportunity to grow up as I did, and where I did. My children have not had the same luck yet, but it may not matter. Kids always find a way to make the ordinary extrodinary, and the mundane an adventure, something we as adults forget to do.
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He's Mean

Duane is a mean, angry man. He wakes up every day and wonders what he did to deserve his life. A breakfast of eggs and sausage is gulped down as he grabs his coat and walks out the front door. The new truck squats in the driveway, like a German tank, it is dark and oppressive. It rumbles to life, dirty black smoke coughs from its enormous tailpipes.

Putting the truck in gear, Duane pulls out of the driveway and turns on to the dark highway outside his house. Massive black tires whirring as the giant picks up speed, the large black tires chomp and tear into the snow covered road. The blinking diodes read 5:45 a.m. Duane blinks and looks ahead into the cold morning gloom. His mind is blank, but for the dull red throb of his anger and self loathing that encase his thoughts like a lead lined tourniquet. His anger is compounded by the emasculating feelings of being ridden by those that did not understand him.

Arriving at work, Duane slides out of the truck and closes the door behind him, a dull mechanical thwack that sounds of a casket being shut for the last time. Pulling the door to the factory open, Duane strides in. He is master now. He is king. Those that do not, or will not defer to his authority are dealt with quickly. Whatever emasculating feelings he had are now turned upside down and inside out.

Pacing about the floor taking wide steps, his stride given a grotesquely squat like appearance, as he does his best to instill fear in those he sees as inferior. Everybody is inferior and he commands all. Pride places that well sized chip of pink quivering flesh atop his massive shoulders as his eyes nervously dart back forth looking for weakness and that inkling that somebody may be on to him.

Hiding behind his angry persona has gotten him far, but only so far, and he is confused. Like the ant the ponders the shoe as it squashes the life out of him, only realizing too late that has lost the battle, Duane wonders what he has missed. How long can this go on, he thinks. Gaining composure, he pushes such thought aside and continues his uneasy pacing, grimacing and yelling orders to those that lie in his path of destruction.

The workday over, Duane slides back into the expensive leather seats of his new truck and starts the engine. His blank expressionless face looks out over the imposing hood of the truck. Pulling the truck in gear, the great dark behemoth rolls out and back toward home, bare trees spackled with white snow race by. He must get home, the hour is getting late and there is much work to be done.

The tires crunch and squeak in the bitterly cold snow as Duane pulls up to the dark house. The fresh blanket of snow covers his footsteps from earlier, leaving a crystalline jeweled crust to the surrounding trees and ground. A thin cold wind blows Duane’s thinning hair as he steps out of the truck, one more day gone. Duane wonders what she’ll say today. She’s never happy, but then he still loved her. The bodies hanging in the shed were frozen, so he had time to catch a bite to eat. Maybe she made that lasagna he always loved, but nowadays she wasn’t feeling to well.

The cold breeze picks up and bites to the skin as Duane opens the front door. Duane does not notice the smell, he never has. Death has a smell, the deer carcass rotting on a hot summer day, the eggs the mother robin left to rot, but Duane doesn’t. Throwing his jacket on the recliner he slowly creeps into the kitchen hoping to surprise his beautiful wife. “Hi honey, I’m home!”

Copyright Michael Beechler 2008

The Pirates of Imaginarium

The holiday festivities are winding down, the kids, tucked in to bed, lie dreaming about the plundered booty, like some kind of pint size pirate on the weathered deck of their four masted pirate galleons.

Capt. Kieran peers out from under his unkempt mane through his one good eye, the other lost to the dreaded sirens of The Cape, “Arggghh” he growls, “keep yer dirty mitts off me Hot Wheels!” he snarls to his crew.

“You’ll all be walkin’ the plank if I don’t get my juice box, post haste.” He grumbles.

Meanwhile, Capt. Olivia has lashed all hands to the bow for fear they were coveting her Littlest Pet Shop collection. “You filthy scallywags will ne’er live to see another moonrise if I catch ya’ eye’n up my plastic penguin.” Nervously cavorting about the deck in her pink petticoat with Roberto the parrot perched atop her shoulder, dirty blonde hair streaming in the salty breeze.

Sir Nathan, good Captain of The Blue Anemone, refused the pirating life, simply because his mother told him it wasn’t proper to go about raping and pillaging. Always in bed by 8, he coveted his stuffed animal collection and on occasion, had been known to mildly scold a crewman for a breach of his lengthy rulebook.

All while Capt. Jacob spent his days scouring the seven seas for a good teething ring, or anything soft, yet pliable to relieve his teething pain. Whiskey and women only got one so far, you know. More than one crewmember had walked the plank for refusing to change his diaper…what’s an 8-month-old pirate to do?

All were making their way to the island chain of Materialista to bury their ill gotten gains before The Crown caught up with them to hang them for their treachery and pirating.

200 years later an archaeologist named Will Stunmout will dig up the remains of these treasures, rusted Hot Wheels, petrified Littlest Pet Shop, and alien looking Spider Man action figures, complete with Kung Fu grip, and wonder why they thought those were so important. What he will not see is the memories and the imagination of four very special children.

Tool: Vicarious

For the ultimate in mind bending experiences....

4 years old

Peering from around the corner of couch my 4-year-old son blithely said,
“Dad, your old.”
“Oh really.” I calmly replied, as I tried in vain to remember how old I actually was. I always seem to be a year or two off, like part of your brain refuses to accept the encroaching inevitability of your own mortality.

“Well, I was once 4 years old too you know.”
“No you weren’t.” He quipped. “You’ve always been old. I would remember that, Dad.”

Getting a little annoyed I replied, “Look, let’s find some pictures of me, and then you can see that I used to be a little boy like you.”

Five minutes later I had pulled out the old photo albums, that always seems to smell of dust and adhesive, like piles of old cellophane tape, or that old Bible at your Grandmother’s filled with obituaries, news clippings, and funeral announcements like a Biblical file cabinet.

“See here.” I showed him. A picture of me in full winter attire, a red stocking cap riding high on my head, ill fitting snow suit that looks amazingly like Ralphy’s brother’s on “A Christmas Story”.

“Who is that?” I said.
“That’s me, Dad.” My wonderful 4-year-old son drawled back, like I was completely out of my mind.
“No, that’s me when I was 4”
Giving me a puzzled look, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It doesn’t look like you.”
“When you get my age you won’t look the same either.”
“I won’t get old, I’ll be young forever.”

Running off to play with his Hot Wheels, all I saw was the back of his blonde head as he sprinted on floppy socks across the living room floor, sliding around the corner and out of sight. Panicky feelings whirled about as I rose to put away the albums. I wanted to follow him in there and defend my past, like: “Look here son, you’ll be old like me some day…blah, blah, blah.” Then I realized he was right. When we look back into our minds eye, over the years, the joys, the sorrows, who are we really?

The Pit

Depravity is here. As much as I started writing here to put a positive spin on world and cultural events, as well as personal ramblings, I have reached a vast pit human depravity. After some good-natured cajoling, I agreed to view a couple of internet videos that have been making the rounds over the last months, and years. I sit here today feeling numb, and sick to my stomach. I wonder if it’s the same way the soldier feels when he sees the horrors of war, or the child subjected to abuse. That wonderful thing that is the human experience is, in the end, twisted and tortured by those that takes pleasure in other people’s horror, and it is mainstream. Try turning on a police drama show on American TV without seeing corpses, and mutilated bodies. The recent trend of “CSI” shows has only pushed it farther, so now we can enjoy simulated death every night of the week.

The internet has led to a pornification of almost every conceivable subject. We are Rome with high-speed, double barreled, infotainment bouncing off our orbiting wiz-bang satellites direct to our high-def, wall mounted idiot boxes. No wonder our culture is failing.

I have a tendency to ponder the big questions of the universe on a daily basis, (can you say procrastination), and have wandered into that dark alleyway your mother told you to stay out of. As westerners we isolate ourselves from the uncomfortable. The internet arteries are clogged by trillions of bits of hate, violence, and anger that numb us because we are so removed from it.

Some friends of mine from Mexico were watching hours and hours of clips from Mexican rodeos, much of which was peppered with the riders dying. Everyone was laughing and having a good time…I didn’t get it, and it made me a little sick. Why? For many people around our wonderful earth death is always close at hand, whether through constant war, famine, gang violence, or neglect. Likewise the lives of many children that grow up in these conditions see no other way, and so carry on the vast orgy of misery that we seem unable to stop. Sexual exploitation, child abuse, animal abuse, all of it can now be downloaded direct to you desktop to peruse whilst you eat your ham and cheese sandwich. Bon apettit.


Reflections of Reality

The water rippled like miniature shock waves from the bottom of the canoe. The water so clear and still you can see the reflection of your reality bend in gentle concentric circles, arcing and vibrating in the cool morning air. Our modern industrialist, consumer focused life religion is hell bent on paving every last square foot of green space to provide parking for the latest and greatest Crap-mart, or mega-electronico super chain.

How do you return to the forest, when there is none left?
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