When You Least Expect It (1) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

This post has had a number of titles over the last three days. The Luggage Tag Says – (4), Surprised With Joy or even Little Did I Knowin other words, this has been a very difficult post to put into words (in a good way) – let alone title. Over a month ago, I introduced a person I called Toby (not his name or initial). It was in the post titled Surprised But Not By Joy. I had talked about a deep rooted cynicism I discovered concerning people and was working on getting weeded out of my personal garden.

A several weeks ago, we met Toby again at the same place – and I had a delightful time chatting and getting to know him even better. It was then I realized that D&D were having some serious problems with this. It was that night that D decided to drop the comment to me that I “had more patience that he did what ‘those’ kind of people.” He had put Toby in a very specific category and therefore was not to be trusted or even conversed with beyond minor pleasantries. And there is a HUGE difference between being a cynic and being cautious.

A cynic is a man who,
when he smells flowers,
looks around for a coffin.
–H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)

Toby and I met for coffee the next day – and embarked on a series of conversations/meetings that were honest, truthful and enlightening.

The Luggage Tag Says – (4)

I had started the series on removing false luggage tags on life’s journey and thought it was almost complete for the time being, when I discovered this tag hidden behind the bright red yarn ball on the handle of my luggage so I can spot it in the midst of others at the airport. I had talked about the false luggage tag of expecting every answer to be according to my expectations.

THIS luggage tag,however, is the tag of expecting every answer to be according to OTHER people’s expectations – sometimes at the expense of my own. And for a “fixer” personality such as I have been dealing with, that can be a real trap. The fixer tends to pour a LOT of personal oil over other people’s troubled waters, to the point their car can run out of oil – and burn out. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t listen and evaluate others people’s opinions when necessary. It does mean that I can’t base my personal life expectations on the expectations of other people. Before it comes up, I’m not talking about a job where obviously the expectations are going to be based on other people. After all, a job – as a very interesting consultant once said – requires that you rent your behavior for a period of time, based on the expectations of others.

Of course, D&D were merely (in their minds) trying to be protective, attentive, etc.. Based on further comments and conversations that were had – they also had a mindset that was not going to change (easily), and were expecting me to follow in that. They have been unable to share in the fact that within the last week I have been:

Surprised With Joy –
(apologies or thank you to C. S. Lewis)

Toby and I went for lunch and a movie. Trying to find the small Greek restaurant that I knew exactly where it was – proved that I didn’t know where it was. We eventually found it – after quite a search on foot. When we sat down, I was struck by the fact we both had been laughing about the situation and enjoying our surroundings. We even took time to stop at an enormous waterfall fountain that is a Houston landmark. We took a great deal of time over lunch and put off the movie until the next day. On my way home I was still chuckling over the excursion to the wilds of “getting lost” in the general vicinity, and was also struck by the ease of the conversation and sharing that occurred.

We met for an early light dinner the next day, and as we were going into the theater – I turned to Toby asked, “Are we dating?” I was horrified that sentence had come out of my mouth. There had been nothing on either side that obviously indicated such a thought was correct. But, being the terminal romantic that I am – (remember, we’re the ones that pat the sandwich after we make them)- my life is colored by many small things as well as the huge brick walls that I occasionally run headlong into.

What is a small thing? As I’ve mentioned before, I have very bad knees and am working toward getting them operated on and repaired. I was struck by the fact that at curbs – without being asked – Toby would pause and wait for me to step down offering his shoulder as balance. A little thing. We visited a couple of friends today, and they had one of those lovely, delightful overstuffed LOW leather couches that even people with great legs have some trouble getting up from. Without a word, or even a glance – there was an arm right in my peripheral vision to hold onto and get up. A little thing. “Oh well,” someone might say – “He’s just being polite, kind or helpful.” To which I reply: “And your point?” The fact is – I’ve never had any of my friends over the last several years do that.

February 17th I posted about who are you looking for not what are you looking for – but who. I included some short descriptions of incidents that in my mind helped me with the “who.”

The dramatist in me realizes that I have not given Toby’s answer to my question along with several other questions people might have. This is, however, a good time for an intermission.
–More Tomorrow

And In A Flash ~ Early Morning Thoughts

I discovered a type of writing called flash fiction. (if that’s the wrong title, hopefully someone will let me know.) It requires some pretty impressive skills as you have to accomplish your story with the least amount of words possible. I have tried my hand at it, and it is very difficult to do. I have no idea where it started. In one of my classes in college we had to do stories using only one sheet of legal pad paper, but I don’t think flash is related to that, as the amount of words authors use varies.

This is one of those cases where I was on my way to somewhere else (which can be dangerous) and ran across these two short tales, that I believe are flash fiction. They continued to stay with me the entire day, and I decided that I would share them.

Wrong Number

She stepped outside, equipped, if needed, with the lame pretense of retrieving something from the car. She walked leisurely, stopping to admire a flower, pull at an imaginary weed, rub the shaggy yellow head of her sweet mutt Roscoe, the more faithful male in her life.

Through the bedroom window she could see him, casually dialing the phone. He glanced once in her direction, or maybe not at all.

Good, she thought. Standing parallel with the dogwood tree is the perfect cover.

He hung up, looked down at the crinkled slip of paper in the palm of his hand and dialed again.

He’s calling that—woman, she concluded, resigning herself to the familiar pain and fear usurping her stomach.

She saw his mouth moving as he shook his head and replaced the receiver onto its cradle. Looking again into his hand, he made a quick fist, then re-assigned it to his pocket.

They entered the kitchen at the same time. Grabbing a beer from the fridge, he sat at the table with a smile.

“Guess I’ll stick around tonight, if that’s okay. My brother wasn’t home, must of forgot,” he explained. He awkwardly fidgeted with something in his pocket, then laid his empty hand on hers.

Only then did she breathe again.

“Sure,” she chirped, trying hard not to show her happiness, or uneasiness, or guilt.

“Want something to eat?” she busied herself in the pantry.

Deep breaths she told herself. You’ve won, don’t be a wuss about it. Concentrate. Don’t cry!

Standing straight, she blinked back the tears, swallowed the lump in her throat, lowered the neckline of her blouse.

He’s mine tonight, she smiled as she fluffed her hair and reached for the ingredients of his favorite dinner, ashamed but grateful at what changing one digit could do.
—Elaine Drennon

Nero Caesar

He’s an ugly little bugger. His chalky silhouette leaps from the red brick behind the mantle. Lyre in hand, he stares. Greg feels him, knows he’s staring.

“You want some more wine?” Harry asks.

“I’m good,” Greg says. “Why him?”

“Why who?” Harry answers, playing the twenty question game Greg offers.

“Nero,” Greg says.

Greg thinks he’s a pro. His style is smooth and unrehearsed. Harry likes to be daddy. Greg knows the schoolboy approach will boost the tip. He presses the glass to his lips, curls them in a slight smile and winks at Harry.

“Nero was my kind of fag,” Harry says.

“Why is that?” Greg shifts to a more reclined position and takes off his shoes.

“He was openly queer and in charge of Rome,” Harry says. “On his wedding night, he dressed as a woman and consummated his nuptials in public. He was brash, daring and everything I’m not.” Harry runs his fingers through his gray hair and gives Greg a visual once over.

“How did his story end?” Greg tilts his head to expose more of his slender neck. He knows that it drives Harry wild. He looks again at the little statue, feeling a chill as he connects with the sightless eyes.

Harry has Greg over when his wife visits the grandchildren. It’s the same every time. One night costs a thousand bucks, plus a tip. Greg is discreet, clean and looks like Harry’s oldest boy.

“His own Praetorian Guard did him in,” Harry says.

“Being queer has its drawbacks,” Greg says. He pulls the tiny bag of cocaine out of his pocket, reaches in to draw out a small portion with a fingernail and takes a bump. He rubs the remainder over his teeth and gums. Harry frowns.

“He was killed because he was a lousy ruler,” Harry says. “I wish you wouldn’t do that here.”

“It’s performance enhancement,” Greg replies. “Anyway, you like it when I’m a naughty boy.”

“Don’t give me any lip,” Harry says and then smiles.

Harry leans over and begins to rub the inside of Greg’s thigh. Greg sets his wine glass down on the coffee table and works his way into the corner of the couch. Greg’s not gay, but he needs the money to keep the juice coming. He looks again at the statue. Somehow, he thinks, that little bastard secretly nods in approval.

“What are you thinking about?” Harry asks.

“You, of course,” Greg lies.

Harry turns the lamp off. Greg can see the silhouette in the darkness. Nero is still peeking, Greg thinks. Greg is resigned to having an audience. Assassination or uncontrollable hepatitis, dead is dead. Greg and Nero have something in common.

Only Harry hasn’t made the connection. He will soon enough. Greg reaches down and unbuckles Harry’s belt. A job’s a job and he never really bought into the wages of sin anyway. In the darkness, Greg winks at Nero Caesar.

He’s almost positive that the little bastard winked back.
—Bill Turner