Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Haiku and a Short Story for You!

We again invite all of you to submit your poetry, short stories, etc. for publication in this blog. Just send them to me at riart1@aol.com. (We have yet to edit or reject a submission, and have no intention of doing so.) Today, we include a short haiku (unrhymed poetry in a five-seven-five syllable pattern in the Japanese style) inspired by one of my stays in New York City and a short story by Harvey Sage which has some historical basis. Enjoy!

New York Haiku

Jack Lippman

Manhattan is no
Place to raise kids nor keep dogs,
Unless you’re wealthy.

What passes for a
Manhattan supermarket,
Elsewhere is a joke.

People are so used
To being ripped off that they
Do not feel the pain.

Sitting in Starbucks
Hypnotized by their laptops,
Unemployed yuppies.

Illegal parking
Is the lifeblood of commerce
In New York City.

* * *


MANIFEST DESTINY

Harvey Sage


CV puffed hungrily on his custom cigar and spat into the spitoon. "Butterfield," he told me, "her plea for King Willie’s life is most touching. She almost swayed me. Almost." He chuckled complacently, befitting the well fed and super rich man who he was.

"He is a very striking fellow sir," I stated. "In a few years he proclaimed himself president of the two countries which he established. Why, our own government recognized his independent land right down here. And last year, in his visit to the states, he was treated as a hero. They had parades for him, wrote songs and stories, and even put on a Broadway show recounting his exploits."

CV was miffed. "Yes, he even wrote a book, The War in Nicaragua, which garnered him support for his latest ventures. Fools!"

"But sir, he is surely a dashing fellow, a leading exponent of our policy of Manifest Destiny. That was the term that John O’Sullivan coined."

"John O’Sullivan, that bombastic newspaper man. He certainly started something didn’t he by declaring it was the God given right of Americans to grab hold of everything west of the Mississippi, south of the Rio Grand, and North of where we currently are."

"And we have done quite a bit sir. California, Texas, Arizona territory- these are all part of our growing country. As his concubine just pointed out, all William Walker was guilty of is continuing the American dream."

"Dream", CV asked me, "the man is like a nightmare. He formed a group of filibusteros in California back in 1853 and invaded Baja. They defeated the Mexican Army at La Paz. He declared Sonora an independent government and himself as president. He even had a flag designed and he sold land grants, on land that he didn’t even possess, to potential followers. What gall! They flocked from Tennessee, Kentucky, and many slave states, to help push the Manifest Destiny dream. The free and independent country of Sonora. Ha! The only free people there would be Anglo-Saxon whites. Slavery would be legal and Sonora and her sister province were to become slave states, adding to the power of the South."

I had to admit that CV was correct. "He did have a lot of followers though and almost pulled it off."

CV smiled. "King Willie bit off more than he could chew. Due to poor planning, his troops lacked proper supplies. The Mexican banditos harassed him, and the Mexican Army attacked. He and his rag tag bunch fled back across the border. Adios Sonora."

"He was lauded as a hero, sir. When they arrested him on violation of the laws of neutrality, the jury took only eight minutes to acquit him."

"Yes. After he gave an impassioned speech about our rights to grab. What a lot of bull."

I reminded him "What of the gold rush? Fremont took over California, stealing it from the Mexicans. Countless adventurers flocked to the new territory, establishing it as a potential state. That’s where you saw an opportunity and entered the Manifest Destiny race."

"Yes Butterfield. It took months to sail from New York to California or back, rounding the Horn. My company, the Accessory Transit Company, the ATC, acquired the rights to the Isthmus of Nicaragua. We had a a steamboat route from the Atlantic to the west end of Lake Nicaragua. Then we provided a mule train from there to the Pacific. Coast to coast travelers had their travel time cut in half. It was also safer, avoiding Cape Horn and its stormy weather."

"So, how did you and Walker get involved?"

CV reminisced. "We needed help. The company, ATC, was being gouged by local politicians and war lords. I sent for Walker and his filbusteros from the states. We joined forces and in no time defeated the Army of Nicaragua. My initial gratitude turned sour when he declared Nicaragua a free and independent state with him in command, and of course, a new flag!. That’s when President Franklin Pierce recognized his newly proclaimed country. Then King Willie turned on me, joining my ATC aids in seizing control of my company. He even went further and declared war against neighboring Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala. Big mistake. No one crosses me. I ruin people!"

CV filled me in on how he hired agents to infiltrate and fight Walker and his cronies. He had flooded the market with ACT stock, devaluing it. The holdings of his former aids became worthless. CV also got the US to withdraw recognition of Walker’s new country. And he helped get Costa Rica to attack him.

"In 1856 King Willie, President of Nicaragua by, believe it or not, an election, had to flee. He came to New York where, as you mentioned, he was hailed as a hero. Walker used his notoriety to garner funds and backers. Again and again he set sail for Nicaragua or Honduras to conquer and rule. He was stopped by either the US navy, cholera epidemics, or local armies. He sacked the old Nicaragua city of Granada and overran the Honduras city of Trujillo. Finally the British had enough of him. Their navy rescued King Willie after his last venture against the Hondurans ended with him and his men sick and defeated. That’s when they turned him over to Honduran authorities."

"Yes," I said, "and that’s where he is now, rotting in jail, sentenced to death tomorrow morning by firing squad. As his concubine stated, it seems a nasty ending to a brilliant career."

"What career? The man was a filibustero, a rapist, a killer, a thief. He acted in the name of Manifest Destiny. If he is spared he’ll be like Napoleon. He’d flee and return to attack somewhere, bringing death and misery as he proclaimed himself king or president or emperor."

"But sir, haven’t you, through the ATC, taken over part of Nicaragua? Isn’t that acting according to the doctrine of Manifest Destiny? "

CV thought and then said "In a sense. But I’m using economic means. People I deal with make money and can live a better life without fear from bloodshed. There is a difference, a big difference. We build. We don’t tear down. I hope you realize that."

With that, Cornelius Vanderbuilt left the consul’s office. Though I knew that a word from me to the authorities today would spare Walker’s life, I did nothing. The following morning the past president of Sonora and Nicaragua met a firing squad which rendered his ultimate destiny.

A few months later, led by men with the same mind set as Walker the filibustero had, the state of South Carolina seceded from the Union, causing the issue of the South’s Manifest Destiny to be settled in blood.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Trio of Creativity

Today, we have a insightful poem by Sid Bolotin, a nice short story by Harvey Sage and finally, the plot of a possible screenplay, the source of which some of you might be able to identify. I hope our stable of contributors will grow.


ONCE UPON A TIME

Sid Bolotin 3/6/10


Fifty years ago he is three.
And I am twenty-six.
I kneel behind him.
My arms embrace him and the fishing rod
Clutched in his tiny hands.
The pond’s water laps at his feet.
Twighlight’s glow lights the shore.
The bobber flutters,
And goes under.
I help him snap the rod upward
To set the hook, to reel in the Sunfish.
My son squeals with delight.
I swell with joy.
He’s my first-born
Learning to be.
While I learn fatherhood.


* * *

MY GAL LINDA

Harvey Sage

I know that Cindy and I were wedded for eternity. But that was the past and I must deal with today. The wedding rings we exchanged said "You Are Mine Forever". We meant it. But then she died. What was I supposed to do?
Fifty five years we were married. Kids, grand kids, we had everything one could wish for. Papa and Nana. That was us. We baby sat once a month and ate with our family quite often. We felt blessed by God and thanked Him each morning. Then the accident happened. And Cindy was laid to rest. I asked God, "why"?
I was assured that while her body or shell was interred, her soul is with the Master, waiting for me to "come home." I know she expected me to remain true, to avoid getting involved with another female, even if I were lonely. I was to have faith and be stalwart, a man true to his love, even in death. Sounds great and noble. Try it. Try living by yourself after fifty five years of having a companion.
I told my friends that I would never cheat on my wife, and getting involved after Cindy’s demise constituted, in my mind, cheating. Oh, I know plenty of guys my age who are widowers- ugh, I hate that word- have started a new life. They date, go over the houses of single women and have supper, and even stay the night.
"Joe" my friend Elliot said to me, "it’s a new lease on life. You spark a romance, go on trips, share new aspects of life. Don’t be a stick in the mud. Get out, get around, and get going- before it’s too late. You realize, you’re not getting any younger!"
I must confess, I was tempted. Going to bed alone each night was not fun. I missed home cooked meals, the sharing of watching TV together, shopping at local stores, comparing day’s events, and even having someone to help clean the house.
At first I tried to replace Cindy with her image. I would walk around the house talking to her. This lasted a month or two and then I realized, as Elliot told me, "I was going nuts". I needed someone to share my life with. But how could I bring a new female friend with me when I visited my kids or grand kids? And did I want to get chummy with hers? These things get complicated. You don’t only take on a new life, you lose parts of the one you had. I had a great thing going with Cindy. I didn’t want to lose one iota of our mutual companionship, one that I was still convinced would continue on beyond the Pearly Gates. Oh, what to do?
Elliot had the answer ready. "The world we live in centers itself around our own selves. That’s not the world’s doing, it is ours. We are an ego-centric bunch who even claim to be made in God’s image."
Well an image is an image- like a shadow. Not much resemblance between the object and the image, is there. Or do you enjoy looking through a glass darkly? If we are in God’s image then He has a great sense of humor. I mulled over what Joe was firing at me, and eventually came to a conclusion. I needed a companion. I longed for someone to talk to, to share my evenings with. And even to hug. But definitely, no sex.
So I let him fix me up. First there was Anna, or was she Hanna? She was comely and demure and a good conversationalist. That is to say, she kept her mouth shut as I talked.. I laughed inside, knowing that if her dream of a new companion ever came true she’d pay him back a thousand words to his one. Then there was Jenny or was it Ginny? She kept telling me how lonely I must be as she caressed my arm without ceasing. She exuded physical attraction and I couldn’t wait for the evening to end . This went on for a couple of months till I told Elliot, "all right all ready. Stop!" I made it abundantly clear that I’d find my own female friend, if indeed I wanted one.
I’ve experienced that God is good and satisfies. Two days later as I was walking in the mall I went into a store and that’s when I saw her. I knew right away that she was meant for me.
I think the feeling was mutual. I say that because as soon as she saw me she gave every indication that she wanted me to come over and say hello. So I did. We were properly introduced by the store manager. I looked at her. Long blond hair. Big brown eyes that captivated my heart. A slender muscular body. And happy. Her vibrating body indicated that she was overjoyed to see me. Her name was Linda, and I just knew that God intended her to be my gal.
The next day Linda and I spent some time together, perambulating through the park. I told her of my Cindy and how there was a lonely place in my heart. I told her of my need for female companionship and asked her if she minded being secondary. I’d always treat her well, but she had to understand that Cindy was number one. She gave no indication of resentment. That clinched it.
Linda is living with me. Elliot learned of her, came over to see her, and left shaking his head. He’d never be able to understand. That’s all right with me. Linda sleeps in the same bed room with me, but not in my bed. I drew the line, though at first she tried to climb in. "Sorry young lady. The marriage bed is sanctified." She wasn’t happy, but seemed to understand, and yielded.
Our daily routine is pretty repetitive. We eat breakfast together, go for walks, and enjoy each other’s company through suppertime. I’ll turn on the TV for evening relaxation and she curls up on the couch by my side as we spend time together. I often talk to her about the world’s affairs and politics and the economy. She looks at me with her big brown eyes and hangs on my every word, never interrupting, just moving her self back and forth as she snuggles closer to me. Now and then she’ll lean up and give me a big wet kiss with her long pink tongue. Heaven! Just me and my Gal Linda. Too bad she sheds.


* * *


Idea for a Screenplay

Jack Lippman

So there’s this senior citizen rich guy, a widower, who begins to feel that he is finally losing it and decides to retire from the hands-on management of his life. Two of his daughters agree to split his real estate holdings and investment portfolio in exchange for a promise to take care of him in his declining years. His other daughter, somewhat of a free spirit, won’t have any part of what she sees as a sleazy deal on the part of her sisters. Dad promptly disinherits her and she runs off to Paris with a Frenchman.

Before long the two daughters are fighting over which one can do less for Dad and finally, fed up with them both, he sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night in a driving rainstorm. One of his old buddies, whom he doesn’t even recognize, manages to get him out of the torrent into a cheap motel and tries to convince him to go back to his daughters, but the old guy refuses. He realizes that he was wrong in disinheriting his third daughter and his old buddy tells him that she is actually coming back from Paris to help him, having heard of the shoddy treatment her sisters were providing.

While this tragic story was unfolding, a retired senior executive of the rich old guy’s former business was having his own family problems with his two sons, one of whom was a real bastard who spent his time lying, cheating and trying to convince his father that he was a better son than his brother. It’s clear that he’s after the full inheritance. This father also got involved in attempting to shelter his old boss when he was out in the storm. For doing that, the sadistic husband of one of the old man's daughters brutally beats and tortures him, blinding him in the process, to which his bastard of a son quietly acquiesces, allying himself with the two sisters who are just as greedy as he is!

Meanwhile, the sisters, tipped off as to their kid sister’s return from Paris and fearing that they might lose their inheritance, heed the advice of their new-found friend, the one whose father had been tortured and blinded, who helps them call in some tough guys to take care of the situation. By then the third daughter had found her father at a Motel 6, but sadly, the bad guys capture them both. One of them chokes the girl to death, but the old man manages to clobber him with a two by four and escape. Then, mustering his last bit of strength to carry her body out of the place in his arms, he dies. How sad.

As for the sisters, one of them had lost her husband in a fight with a servant over how she was treating her father. The other sister’s husband files divorce papers after he finds that she was having an affair with the rotten bastard whose father was blinded. The two girls end up fighting over him before he is deservedly killed by his brother. Finally one sister poisons the other and then commits suicide.

A few weeks later, we find the old man’s old buddy and the surviving son of the blinded man, also dead by this time, in a sleazy bar. After commiserating with each other over a few drinks, they agree that life sucks and wonder if they should tell this whole sad story to their writer buddy, Bill, who might even use it for the plot of a screenplay or something.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Pauline" by Sid Bolotin

Well, well! This blog isn't going to be a solo operation! Sid Bolotin has graciously submitted "Pauline," a short story which also appeared in the March 2010 issue of Cascade Lakes News & Views. (I liked the "O'Henry" style ending.) Enjoy!

PAULINE

Sid Bolotin


Walking along the corridor toward the kitchen to get another breakfast tray, I passed room 101 and heard the patient calling, “Hello, hello, is anyone there?”

I pushed open the door, knocked to announce my presence, and approached the bed.

The woman lay quietly, snow-white hair elegantly coiffed, her body neatly enfolded by the bed-linens, and her arms lay on either side of her tiny body as if one of the aides had just finished arranging her.

The card above the bed gave her name as Pauline, and her year of birth as 1910.

“Pauline,” I asked, “do you need something? A nurse?”

“Oh, I don’t need anything,” she smiled, “I just want to chat for a bit. Will you sit with me?”

“Of course I will. I’m a volunteer here at hospice,” I said as I pulled a chair close to the bed.

“Hold my hand,” she whispered.

I took her thin, graceful hand in mine, marveling at the delicate network of veins that lay just below her translucent skin.

As Pauline closed her eyes and gently began to speak of her childhood in Russia. I was taken aback by her lucidness. My experience had been that patients of her age in the Care Center were either heavily sedated or severely agitated making coherent conversation impossible.

So, I sat entranced as she softly described her life as if she was reading from some inner teleprompter that was passing across her mind’s eye. She described how she left her beloved Ukraine at the urging of her sisters, her arrival in America, and finding the love of her life…a man who emigrated from a town close to hers near Kiev.

Thinking that she had dozed off I rose to leave, whereupon she fairly shouted, “Not yet! There’s more to tell!”

Although I had more breakfasts to deliver and patients to feed, I sat back down as she continued her recitation. It was as if her life was passing before her, and she needed some sort of closure of some unfinished business.

The room was warm, and I drifted in and out of wakefulness, hearing only pieces of her history.
A marriage, a child’s birth, death of her true love, family interactions as she raised her child alone, lovers taken, her son’s family, and her descent into old age. As she spoke, she had a gentle, peaceful smile, and even reached across to pat my hand that still clasped hers.

Suddenly I realized that Pauline had stopped speaking, and I almost bolted out of the chair.

“Pauline,” I called gently, thinking she had fallen asleep. Getting no response, I watched carefully for any signs of breathing as I’d been taught to do. Seeing none, I gently released her hand, placed it beside her as it was when I had first entered, and rose to get the a nurse to verify my conclusion.

Then it hit me…Pauline was my mother’s name, and if she had not died 26-years ago, she’d be 100 also. Her story was much like the patient’s. No wonder I had sensed a familiarity as Pauline spoke!

When I told the nurse about Pauline, she incredulously insisted, “Can’t be! The patient in 101 did pass. But she died last night. The family is on their way.”

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Boca Nosher

Continuing with some of the short stories I wrote a few years back, here is "The Boca Nosher." Hope you enjoy it. Remember, this blog is available to all of you who might like to publish their short stories, essays, poetry, etc. online. Just E-mail your submissions to me at riart1@aol.com and I will include them.

The Boca Nosher

Jack Lippman


“See that guy over there? The one noshing on the crabmeat spread on crackers. That’s the fifth one I saw him take!”

“Yeah, Lou,” the older Costco employee replied. “I’ve been watching him too. He took a couple of the Hotpockets samples, too. Aren’t they awful? Come to think of it, I‘ve seen him in here a couple of times this week stuffing himself with our giveaway samples.”

“You’re right, I’ve seen him too. Look, look at him now! He has one of those baked ham chunks on a toothpick in his hand, and he’s grabbing another. He’s even shoving one into a baggie and slipping into his pocket for later.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him do that before too. Probably taking it home for supper”!
No longer smiling, the older man, obviously the possessor of some authority, removed a small camera from his shirt pocket and snapped a picture of the man they had been observing, who was by now sipping his fourth two ounce cup of Ocean Spray melon flavored cranberry juice and strolling over to the woman distributing Sara Lee miniature cherry filled strudel.

“It looks like he is about to leave the food section. I’d like to ask someone from security to follow him. Will you handle it for me, Lou”?

“Sure, consider it done.”

The next afternoon, the two of them reviewed the report from the surveillance team the security agency had assigned to the gentleman they had dubbed “the Boca Nosher.”

After leaving the Boca Raton Costco, he had driven to Delray Beach where he was seen to enter The Boys Farmers Market. Inside, he consumed several chunks of pineapple, four pieces of assorted melon, three paper cups of minestrone and five samples, on crackers, of their spinach dip. He was also noted to have shoved some of the fruit samples and crackers spread with spinach dip into baggies, apparently for later consumption. He then left the store, returned to his car, the report went on, where he was seen to make a phone call, and then re-entered the store repeating his entire nibbling process. This time he also sampled two small cups of a 2004 Australian merlot which was being offered in the wine section. He then drove north to Boynton Beach where the surveillance team lost him in BJ’s parking lot.

“Lou,” call the manager at BJs. See if they are having the same problem with this guy. You might even fax them the picture I took of him yesterday.”

A few minutes later, Lou entered his boss’s office with a smile on his face. “They know the guy, alright. In fact, yesterday, they phoned their regional office as to whether they could have him arrested. He was going back for his sixth sample of Dinty Moore Beef Stew, and the lady dishing it out called the manager. By the way, I faxed a copy of the picture you took to our Lantana store, and the manager up there just called me back. This guy is there at least three times a week, just like here, and in fact, he’s there right now, eating his third helping of a new pepperoni-gefilte fish-pizzette they’re featuring. Are we going to get that here, Boss”?

“Forget the pizette! Get on your cell, tell him to find some reason to hold the guy, and we’re going to drive up there right now. This guy’s noshing has got to be stopped. After all, there gotta be a limit”!

Later that afternoon, the two Costco managers, as well as one of the brothers who run The Boys and the manager of the Boynton BJ’s Food Department, were all assembled in the Lantana Costco’s training room. Seated at a table before them, sipping the Diet Pepsi with which they had provided him, was a middle-aged man wearing a blue golf shirt, khaki pants and sneakers. He had a smile on his face.

“Okay, Mister,” the Costco Manager from Boca started off, “What’s with you? All of our places, Costco, The Boys, BJ’s, we all offer food samples. People try them and maybe some of them buy the product. That’s what it’s all about! But none of us are running an ‘all-you-can-eat buffet.’ You just can’t go around taking unlimited quantities of whatever samples we’re offering. Get it? Either you change your behavior, or we’ll ban you from all of our places of business. Okay”?

“Nope, you can’t do that,” the smiling man replied. With that he pulled out his wallet and badge, identifying himself as an undercover food-handling inspector from the Palm Beach County Health Department.

“If you gentlemen will excuse me now,” he said as he got up from his chair, “I have to get over to Sam’s Club right away. I understand they’re offering sample mini Buffalo wings and cubes of imported Gouda cheese this afternoon.”

He waved back as he walked toward the door, “Bye now, and thanks for the Pepsi.”