Life’s Mirror


An illustration from page 30 of Mjallhvít (Sno...
An illustration from page 30 of Mjallhvít (Snow White) an 1852 icelandic translation of the Grimm-version fairytale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Life’s Mirror Is a Friend or Two

 

“You’re incompetent!” he screamed as he sat in his chair,

 

But, oh, how he wished that mirror wasn’t there.

 

He wanted to look regal perched on a throne,

 

But that was impossible when his friends were gone.

 

Tears splashed down his cheeks

 

As he stared up into the sky,

 

“How can my friends show respect

 

To such a fool as I?

 

Throughout my life there was much,

 

I wanted to say and do,

 

I wanted to be a good Samaritan,

 

I’d help someone, it didn’t matter who.

 

I thought I’d take trips to exotic  places

 

But I chose to work instead,

 

By then I had a growing family,

 

and the children needed bread.

 

How can I prove I’m a cultured man?

 

I haven’t traveled very far,

 

All my knowledge is about small town folks,

 

I never claimed to be a star.

 

I thought I’d try to be an example

 

Of how a man should be,

 

But I’ve failed every time with even my best,

 

Because all you get is me.”

 

 

 

He had been confessing to a mirror,

 

That he’d failed every worldly task,

 

“What’s wrong?” I ventured through the open door,

 

Yet I had no need to ask,

 

The old man was surprised to see someone he knew,

 

I considered myself a friend,

 

“I’ve been listening for quite some time,

 

Your self pity needs to end.

 

You’ve raised five kids all alone,

 

You took that burden in stride,

 

I don’t know about the rest of your friends,

 

But I think of you with pride.

 

You coached several teams in summer leagues,

 

You taught some kids to drive,

 

You were there to greet strangers,

 

When they were anxious and newly arrived.

 

You helped families who lost their homes,

 

Or anyone out of luck,

 

Even when you were stretched real thin,

 

Somehow you found a few bucks.

 

You might think you did things wrong,

 

I think you did things right,

 

There’s a crowd gathering in the dark,

 

Could I welcome them in with the light?”

 

One single line came through the door

 

and seemed to stretch for miles.

 

Each person had something good to say,

 

and ended their comments with a smile.

 

“We wanted you to know we learned from you,

 

We always knew your love was wide.

 

All the love we have for you

 

We can no longer keep inside.”

 

The old man’s eyes grew large and dark,

 

He glanced around the hall,

 

“Thank you, my friends, for loving me,

 

For you know I love you all.”

 

He shook the hands of all and each,

 

It filled his heart with pride,

 

Then because he had been deeply touched,

 

He lowered his head and cried.

 

 

 

The Bounce House


Hot tub at Big White Ski Resort, Canada.
Hot tub at Big White Ski Resort, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Bounce House

 

You say I never have any fun,

 

But that is not exactly true.

 

I play chess with the computer,

 

And, of course, I think of you.

 

I mow my lawn, clean my house,

 

Who knows if a visitor might show?

 

I till my garden, feed the dogs,

 

And pretend it’s going to snow.

 

But when the sun goes down,

 

And the moon sits high in the sky,

 

I turn off the lights and lock the doors,

 

Because I don’t want neighbors to pry.

 

Behind my home a bounce house waits,

 

The compressor fills it quickly with air,

 

I leap and jump, bounce off the walls,

 

Trying things I normally wouldn’t dare.

 

When I grow tired of being young,

 

I slip my weary bones into a hot tub,

 

Soaking awhile and searching the stars,

 

And wishing for a gentle back rub.

 

While I relax I think of you,

 

And how much fun you’d have with me,

 

We’d leap and jump and bounce off walls,

 

And then we’d have to see,

 

If the stars would dance and twinkle,

 

While we sip our glasses of wine,

 

I’d give you a back rub in the hot tub,

 

And we’d let our lives entwine.

 

People say bounce houses are for kids,

 

And that is partially true,

 

We’re only as old as we think we are,

 

So I’m ready to bounce with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Went Her Way


Annie & Susan Sorting Paintings
Annie & Susan Sorting Paintings (Photo credit: mygothlaundry)

There were a lot of harsh words,

We said to each other back then,

I hadn’t heard a woman speak like that,

Since I don’t remember when,

 

We tried to correct our bad deeds,

The ones we’d done to hurt each other,

We discovered our efforts didn’t work,

When we couldn’t forgive one another,

 

She went her way and I went mine,

When the war was over and all was done,

Two hard-headed, stubborn individuals,

Had lost too much and no victories won,

 

If I had treated her like a queen,

She’d still be by my side,

But that’s just between you and me,

That’s all to you I’ll confide,

 

She went her way and i went mine,

I was sorry to see her go,

My pride kept me from telling her,

So I guess she’ll never know,

 

As she went down that dusty road,

Along with her she took my heart,

I live here and she lives there,

And we’re still worlds apart.

 

 

“That’s What Love Do!”


The Front Porch Country Band
Image via Wikipedia

“If you could only go there,

soaking up the atmosphere,

 feeling the magic in the beat,

 the thump of the bass stirring up heat,

 dancing heart to heart and cheek to cheek,

 the bold reaching out for the mild and meek,

 it’s a place that casts a spell,

Come and go with me, I know it well.”

I can still hear her words as she invited me to come listen to her play.  Her eyes invited me a second time, teasing, offering more than moments of listening pleasure.  Erika stopped in often where I worked, watching me wait on customers, smiling whenever I glanced her way.  When that customer left she would come up to the counter and ask if I could help her find a tool of some kind. 

She drew a crowd almost every time she sauntered in, weaving around the other salesmen, ignoring their eager pleas of assistance. She was slim and curvy, her jeans tight, her ample breasts straining against the fabric of her blouse.  She always kept two buttons undone, just to keep the men and boys at her beck and call. I tried to ignore her.  I could imagine the saliva dripping from their mouths. 

Perhaps that was why she was so persistent. Erika would lean forward, placing both elbows on the counter, her eyes focused on me, watching for a reaction of any kind. She was aware of the silence as the men held their breaths hoping that the fabric might tear, or Erika might jiggle in some way.

I waved them all away, at least out of earshot.  “Okay, Erika, what do you want this time?”

“Come out tonight, Bobby, and listen to our band.  You’ll be glad you did.”  “If I go tonight you won’t bother me anymore?”

 “I promise, Bobby.” 

“But what about your husband?”  They were still together as far as I knew.

“We’re in a trial separation.  He said he doesn’t care.  Anyway, what does it matter?  I’m tired of his obsessive behavior.  I don’t belong to him. As far as I’m concerned we’re through.”  She stared at me. “Are you going to be there or not?”

“Okay.  But just this once.”   She smiled broadly, turned and walked out, every step accentuated, pretending to be oblivious to all the wolves hiding in the aisles. 

They rushed to me, wanting to know every juicy detail, especially since Erika was smiling on her way out.  I told them nothing, content to let them conjecture and imagine, their heads full of takes and retakes of scenes right out of Hollywood.

“I’d sure like to be in his shoes,” a young associate said loudly.

  One of the ones who had stared the most muttered, “She’s nothing but trouble. Bobby’s done good to stay away from her.”

 He didn’t know I was going to see her tonight.

Erika usually played guitar and sang three or four songs, but sometimes she would sing one or two extra, if there was a special occasion.  Tonight she had already downed a few rum and colas and was feeling good. She saw me enter and immediately she took charge of the band, running through several riffs and songs that had furious flourishes, evidently to impress me. 

The band took a break and Erika came to my table. “Well, what did you think?” she asked. 

“I want something slower and easier to dance to.” 

She shrugged.  Soon she started singing “I Love A Rainy Night” and followed with “Black Velvet”.  I stood on the dance floor swaying slowly. A young woman wrapped her arms around me, her head on my chest. Erika put her guitar away. She came off the stage and pulled the woman away.”He’s with me,” she said coldly.

“I need a breath of fresh air,” she said as she led me outside.  “Now what was that all about?” she asked.

“I wanted to dance,” I said bluntly.  “You’re married and I don’t belong to you so what’s the problem?”  I knew she was jealous. She was shaking, angry at me, angry at the girl, angry at the world, just angry because she had no control over the situation.

“I need a drink,” she said, “so I can cool down.”  I started towards the bar. “Don’t buy me one. The bartender will give me as many as I ask for.”  Jake, the bartender, saw her coming and began mixing a drink.  “I want this one to be a double,” she said flatly. “I need something strong.” 

She turned to me. “Dance with whoever you want. Just don’t take anybody home. The band will be done in about an hour.  I want to see you after that.” 

I danced with several women, doing the two step around the room, the slide, and a few line dances to fill the time.  I got a few offers to go somewhere else for drinks, to share  coffee, take someone home, and numbers to call.  They were very friendly, one and all.  I collected rainchecks and phone numbers and dates for other times. Then Erika showed up and they all scattered.  “Let’s go to the park by your apartment.  We can talk without being interrupted.”   

Erika had always been rebellious and claimed she lived in outlaw country.  I wasn’t sure what she wanted to talk about but I was pretty sure it wasn’t about flowers and songs.

Outside it was raining, hard and steady. We were both drenched when we  climbed into my truck.  She glanced over and then slid next to me, her warmth stirring me, filling me with anticipated pleasure.  She was staring, her eyes large and focused.  They were intensely hypnotic, and strangely compelling.  The rain was making it difficult to focus on the white lines of my lane, and she was not helping. If I looked one more second I was sure I would lose control of my truck and my body. I shivered and clung to the wheel. She giggled as if I had just touched her in some sensitive spot.  Involuntarily, parts of my body were reacting to her voice, her smile, and her touch. By now her fingers were inside my shirt, dancing across my chest while her tongue played with my ear.

I didn’t intend for anything to happen.  I thought I could resist her. “Just say no,” I told myself. She didn’t really want to talk. When her blouse came off my resistance ceased. Helpless to resist, I became a willing partner.  She was wild and passionate, eager to please, and wanting release. I was surprised by my own needy but powerful response.

We held each other for a long time, just listening to the rain, before we dressed and talked.  Erika was adamant she wanted to be with me and not her husband.  “When are you going to leave him?” I asked.

“Soon,” she replied. “I can’t leave Wes right now.  He’s had some bad luck lately.  When he gets everything going again, then I’ll leave.”

There was not much to talk about after that so we just cuddled for awhile. Finally I said, “I need to get you home.”  Erika glared at me but said nothing as I drove the rainy roads, down the lane to her house, and pulled to a stop. 

The porch lights snapped on, and I felt very conspicuous.  Wes stepped out onto the porch and started towards the truck.  “This could be trouble,” I muttered.  But Wes just waved and said, “Thanks for bringing her home.  I worry about her when she’s late and I know she’s been drinking.” 

This unnerved me. I was expecting rage and jealousy. I’m not sure if I wanted him to be carrying a rifle or handgun, but to be friendly just seemed odd.  

Wes gave Erika a hug and ushered her inside. I sat for a minute more trying to comprehend, and I left still shaking my head.

The next week Erika came to the store several times just to say hi, to flirt, and give me a hug and a kiss.  She wasn’t hiding our relationship. Everything was in the open. She told everyone her marriage was over, except for the shouting.

We met several times a week, and always on weekends.  It was the same story every time.  We didn’t go out to eat, go to the movies, or attempt to go on any normal dates.  After dancing and music, we would park or go to my apartment.  It was clear nothing more was expected or wanted.  Gradually I began insisting I wanted more from the relationship.  Without realizing it I was falling into love.

I know it sounded strange so I never tried explaining it to anyone. I resented taking her home and turning her over to her husband.  This relationship had to change.  I was tired of fighting my conscience, tired of sharing but Erika refused to listen. She kept saying, “This is not a good time for Wes. He’s struggling with so many things.”

Finally I said, “You have to make a choice.  It’s either Wes or me.” She looked at me as if I had lost my mind. Then she smiled. “Okay, it’s time to make some changes. Be patient, though.”

I didn’t hear from her for several weeks. I tried to give her time to get her life straightened out.  I was working in the backroom putting away supplies when another employee said, “Bobby, you have a customer out front.”

I was excited, expecting to see Erika.  Instead it was Wes, looking haggard and worried. “Bobby, Erika is all I really have and all I really wanted.  When she was with you I knew it was just a fling but she always came home.  Now she’s been gone for almost three days.  I can’t sleep.  I can’t eat.  I can’t live without her.  Do you know where she is? I just want her safe at home.” 

Before me was a broken man, his self esteem destroyed but his love intact.  I couldn’t turn him away.  “Wes, I’ll help you search.”

Together we searched Erika’s hangouts and sought help from her friends.  At first our search was fruitless. Then someone from her band gave us a name and an address. Eventually we found her walking barefoot down a side street, heading home.  She claimed she was tired of being pressured so she had found a new boyfriend. He was not so nice.  He had slapped her a few times and refused to take her home. When he wasn’t watching she had made her getaway.

She was pleased to see Wes but she frowned when she saw me. “Wes, I just want to go home and get cleaned up.  I want to rest and cuddle with you.”

I drove them home in silence.  Wes watched Erika go inside the house before he said wearily, “Erika is an alcoholic and unfaithful. She’s always been like that since I found her years ago.  I love her and it’s my job to see that she’s taken care of.  I’m the only real home she knows.  She’ll always come back. She needs me too.”

Suddenly it was all very clear.  Wes and Erika were two desperate needy people, and in their own weird way were meant for each other.  I didn’t have an answer for Wes for I loved her too.  At that moment my plans for the future changed and I decided to stick around and keep watch over both of them.  I was the only sane one of the bunch. You might think it’s weird but it makes sense to me.  That’s what love do.

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