Monday, June 26, 2017

The Less Ordinary Life of Harold: Full Jelly Alchemist

Harold was sitting idly at the breakfast table. A bare piece of toast lay on the plate before him. It represented everything today would be; bland, flat, coarse.
Today was Harold's first day back to school after the brief respite of summer. Today would be a day of awkward shyness. A day of pecking orders being established between students and faculty, as well as among students and students. Harold stared at his glass of orange juice, this crucial part of today’s balanced breakfast was nearly at its bottom. This visual only served to remind Harold where he fell in his school’s hierarchical rolls.
“Harry, eat something, your going to starve.”
Harold blew a long strand of hair from his face in a huff. He didn’t need to look at his rotund frame to know that statement would be a long time coming, before it came true. “I’m not hungry Mom.”
Mom sighed, making a brief trek to the fridge. When she returned to the table a plastic container of margarine and a glass jar of grape jelly suddenly appeared. “Eat,” Mom commanded.
Harold smiled as Mom turned her back, busying herself with the mundane tasks of an adult. Whispering to himself alone, Harold recited, “Just the ingredient I need for my potion, at my thoughts you’ll heed my every notion…”
Harold’s eyes focused on the jelly jar, and before him a thin tendril of purple began to climb up the inside of the jar. Worm-like it pushed itself up and over the jar’s lip, past those ridges where the cap screws on, and down the outside of the glass.
Harold watched this spectacle unfold, but quickly glanced at his mother. As he did so the thin cylindrical mass of grape jelly became motionless. When Harold was satisfied Mom was still preoccupied with her grown up distractions, the jelly-worm formed a thin concave mouth and a tiny arm, complete with a three-fingered hand. With it, the glob of jelly smiled and tipped an imaginary hat to Harold. Harold returned both the smile and the gesture in kind.
Harold then winked and the grape worm wiggled and swayed, grew and twisted into a baseball player. Though roughly the size of a G.I. Joe, the grape ballplayer was a brute of a man, with a chest like a barrel and a large broad bat. The ballplayer stood, chest heaving as if he were living and breathing there on Harold’s kitchen table.
Harold reached over him, with what by comparison was the hand of a giant. He dunked two fingers inside the jelly jar, retrieving a generous glob of the purple substance. The ballplayer watched as Harold sat the hand that contained the jelly on the surface of the table. Looking at the tiny jelly ballplayer he held his free hand over the jelly-smeared fingers on his opposite hand. He made a balling, rolling motion and the jelly, now molded like clay, did the same. Harold repeated this process a few times over.  A few seconds passed and there sat three miniscule, gelatinous baseballs.
The ballplayer nodded knowingly. He readied his bat, shimmied and lined up his hips, tapping the head of the bat against the tabletop, and against his grape-jelly formed cleats.
With a flick of his fore finger and his thumb, Harold “threw” the first diminutive purple ball towards the matching ballplayer without ever touching it. The ballplayer swung, arching his head upwards to see past the brim of his little hat, and watched intently as the jelly baseball flew across the open air of the table, arched high, and then landed with a splat-pat on top of Harold’s toast. In succession, the following two jelly-balls found their mark as well.


“Thanks,” again, Harold found himself smiling at the little guy.
“Harold,” Mom began to turn around, “have you finished eating yet? That bus is probably barrelin’ around the corner right now.”
Mom turned quickly, but paused just long enough to check the clock. Harold had to act. With a grimace, and a short wave Harold said goodbye to the ballplayer. Instantly, the caricature of an athletic baseball player sunk into an unrecognizable patty shape. And then disappeared, seeming to fall right through, rather than off, the table itself.
The succinct but groaning horn of the bus driver signaled it was time for Harold to leave.
Harold wolfed down the now jelly covered toast. “Love ya Mom,” he hugged her at the waist and trotted out the door. With his backpack slung around him Harold went through the front door. He felt like he was an adventurer preparing for a long expedition.

*

Back in the kitchen, Mom removes Harold’s plate from the table and sits it in the sink. When she returns to retrieve the jelly jar and the butter she sees something beneath the table. She kneels to get a closer look.
Mom’s eyes narrow and she finds herself staring at a blob of grape jelly. Although its perimeter indicates the foodstuff was dropped from quite a height, she thinks she can make out a rough shape in spite of its messiness.

“Hmm, kinda looks like a little guy with a bat, maybe a baseball player...”

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Less Ordinary Life of Harold: Super-Zero

An oblivious young man with his nose glued to a cell phone absently strolls through the park. Passerbys are forced to navigate out of his way. Joggers, senior citizens on walks, and mothers with strollers all side step him at the last minute, clinging to the belief that he couldn’t really be that enthralled by whatever’s on the screen.
This is Harold. Harold, by most accounts has had a shit day.
Sitting down, not because it's the courteous thing to do, but because he wants to, the preteen plops onto a nearby bench. Harold is husky and he seems all-too conscious of this, so as he gets seated comfortably he tugs down his shirt, to make sure no one can see anything they shouldn’t through the green slats that serve as the bench’s backrest.
A few minutes pass and another child sidles up, sitting beside him.
For more than a while, no words are exchanged between the two.
Eventually, the new boy, thin but equally meek-looking breaks the silence, “Sorry-”
“Let me save my game!” Harold holds up a finger. “I am playing versus on Battleblood, and am ranked in the top five for this skirmish.”
The thin child adjusts his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose, realizing even he had little idea what most of that meant.
A few presses and swipes, “Ok, what?” Harold still doesn’t look up from his phone, not entirely, it makes the fat underneath his neck stand out even more.
“I’m sorry for what happened today.”
“Ya, you been hangin’ out with those kids?”
The thin boy nodded, blushing almost imperceptibly.
“They suck Tyler. And...and they are stupid.”
Acknowledging the statement, the Tyler nodded again. He not only agreed, but there was no hesitation in him doing so.
“Asshats,” Harold, “that’s what they are.”
Tyler, confused, “What does that even mean anyway?”
“I dunno,” Harold admits, “I picked it up somewhere, but its bad, real bad.”
“Hey, they aren’t that bad. I, we could always use more friends right?”
“Not those guys.” Harold seemed resolute.
“Maybe I could talk to ‘em, put in a good word for ya?”
Harold looked up from his phone completely.
Tyler leaned in closer, “Tell ‘em your a cool guy, tell ‘em how you have all the newest video games.”
Harold’s brief interest already faded, changed to a spark of anger. “You mean bribe them to not pick on me? Thanks Tyler, but no thanks.”
“C’mon, Harold, I still want to be friends with you...and them.”
“I don’t think it works that way.”
Tyler looked at Harold, in a way that many adults would think a child was not capable of doing. He saw a fat kid, with a red ball-cap, but redder cheeks, dressed in clothes assembled from discount retail stores. He contrasted this against the group of guys he and Harold were conversing about. “Ya, I guess you’re right. Fuck.”


Harold had never heard a kid his age say the “F” word. He had never heard Tyler swear at all. Both boys shook their heads.
“What do we do?” Tyler asked.
“Doesn’t matter- whatever you want.” Harold said, “I got things to take care of anyway.”
“Like what?” the surprise in Tyler’s question was heavy.
“Hero stuff.”
Psshh, what are you talkin’ about?”
“I’m a superhero. I didn’t want to tell you, because I thought it might be the only reason you were my friend.”
Tyler paused for a moment, trying to gauge if Harold was trying on being crazy, or trying on being funny. When he couldn’t decide, Tyler broke out in heavy laughter. “More like Super-zero!”
Harold took the laughter and the insult from a kid who he had thought of as his best friend for 3 summers and four grades. He took it like Superman takes bullets.
Tyler looked at Harold and couldn’t believe his eyes. Suddenly, before him, the chubby kid that lived 5 houses down the street was gone.
There in front of him was an image; misty, blurry in the way that the blacktop gets from a distance on a summer day. Harold was now a wavering image of strength. His head held back high, his clothes became the bold uniform of a dealer of justice. His red hat was now a crimson mask. His untucked shirttail transformed into a cape. The discount athletic shoes had become leather boots, complemented with tiny H’s embroidered on their sides Harold’s eyes had changed the most, they seemed to dig into him, they were piercing, full of confidence and know-how.
Tyler could’ve sworn he saw a telling I-told-you-so kind of wink, but he wasn’t sure of that at all. In fact, he was no longer sure of anything.
Then right there before Tyler’s eyes, Harold took off with a bang into the air, it was like lightning combined with thunder. In an instant he was gone.


Off to do hero stuff.


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Less Ordinary Life of Harold - Introduction

Intro

Are you as bummed as I am that you can’t fly? That aliens don’t exist but Trump does? That you don’t have millions of dollars in your bank account? That zombies only really show up on AMC and SyFy?
Well then you’ll be happy to meet Harold. Every once and again we will pop in to check on good ole’ Harry and see just what he’s got going on in his less oridinary- maybe even extraordinary- life.
Harold may be lucky to live in a world where superpowers exist, or where he’s suddenly asked to command a rescue mission into the jungle. Or its quite possible that Harold may merely have an impeccable imagination.
You won’t know unless you drop by and see what Harold is up to!


*
Hi all! I have been toying with the idea of doing a semi-weekly-if-and-when-I-feel-like-it series about a guy that can sort of out-think the parameters of *ugh* reality.
Harold’s adventures are going to be loosely based on the concept of the fantastic meeting the realistic and how those two things might coexist within a certain context.
So here’s hoping you tune in as I get this new idea rolling. I hope you stick with me as Harold and his stories are fleshed out into something more substaintial.
As always, thank you for reading, sharing and enjoying my work. I appreciate everyone stopping by to read the crazy ideas that nest in my brain, and end up on the page.

Thank you!
- David

Monday, June 5, 2017

Closer to the End

This one is bound to be another melancholy endeavor, I imagine...but much like anything, its one of those damnable thoughts that has wormed its way into my brain, and I can’t get rid of it. The only way to let it go, is to write it away, so here I am. Or rather, if you’re reading this, here we are.
Without going into too many details death has been on my mind as of late. Although, with that being said, maybe it was there all along, I just didn’t see it clearly. I’ll take a second to reassure anyone reading this, it is not a welcome thought. I have not reverted to shopping at Hot Topic and wearing black nail polish. I view death with a stoic mysticism I reserve for little else. It does not frighten me, but neither is it welcomed.
But recently, as I saw yet another life pass from this world to the next, I thought after, about the hereafter. My mind cycled through the all the times I’ve been on hand, witnessing someone close, or even not so close, slip from this realm. I thought about how, in the end, for all our technology, for all our advances, all we can do is buy time. All the medical bills, all the procedures, all the money spent, only really amount to a few precious increments of time. Ultimately immeasurable, as even the experts seem to be unable to guarantee just how much time we get per dollar. When it comes down to it, this creates in me a sense of helplessness, tinged with anger. I despise not being able to act in a manner that assists those close to me.


Sitting in an office, I have been next to the person getting the news of a horrendous diagnosis many times. I look at them, I comfort them. I cry as they cry. Saying the lie we’ve all told at some point in our lives, “It’s all going to be okay.”
Outside of the hospital room, I have sulked gloomily, waiting for the final update. Knowing that sooner, rather than later, some person in a white coat will come by, and solemnly state, “They’ve passed.” This is usually done in an efficient manner so the person occupying that bed can be extradited, all so someone else may take their place.
I’ve been there I have been at the deathbed of a few special relatives. I have held their clammy hands in a mockery of solidarity, stared down nothing while they’ve stared down death.
My eyes have seen the shovelfuls of dirt fall, explode into tiny granules as they collide with the top of a casket from above. I have heard the prayers uttered by clergy, often evoking sobs from the crowd, no matter how small or large.
These images are universal of course. While we may not all fear death, most of us avoid thinking about it, letting alone talking about it. Afterall, why focus on death when there’s so much living to do?
However, this time that little thought I referenced earlier slipped into my head, nesting there. Perhaps it snuck in past an inflamed tear duct, and fast tracked its way to my brain, where it made itself quite comfortable.
That thought was the realization that one day...I wouldn’t  merely be the one sitting next to the person getting the bad news, nor would I be the one waiting outside the hospital room, or even holding the hand of the person that was facing death. I would be the one the bad news would be about, the one in the hospital bed, the one in the ground, rather than observing from above it.
With that my friends it seems appropriate to say what many have said before me; do not wait. Do not hesitate. If you want something, go after it, if you love someone let them know. If you hate your job, find another, if you hate where you live, find somewhere else.
Life is too short to regret, the closer to the end I get, the more I see that.


Good luck and Godspeed,
- David

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Play for blood, remember?

There is a lot of junk news out there. And let me be clear, I don’t mean purported “fake news”. I mean- easy to digest, high calorie, low value, fills you up, but still leaves you thirsty-news.
So when a news story catches my eye, it really tends to hold my attention. This very thing occurred when I saw the story of the trio of Portland men that stood up to a man spouting insults to a pair of young women on a train.
It resonated with me for several reasons.
One; because two of the men lost their lives. The tragedy of being a hero, is sometimes you die as one. To Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, and Ricky John Best, I did not know either of you, but I wish peace to you and your families.
Two; I fear this incident, as well as the slayings and injuries that came as a result of it, will discourage people to stand up for others. I pray that it only emboldens people to further rally behind those that do, to make sure that the odds are firmly against the antagonist. To that end, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, I hope that this event does nothing to dissuade you from standing up to the bullies, the bad guys and the blatantly cruel in the future.
Three; I do this kind of thing all the time. It is sobering to see that two men who were on the side of right, paid for that honor with their last breath. You see to me, the greatest honor one can have is to give their life for another. I am not one of those morbid fools that is obsessed with death or dying, but if I have to go out, I’d prefer it be for a worthwhile cause.
Which brings me to my last point...
Four; to anyone that dare utters that these three men acted for nothing, that what they risked, and what two of them ultimately died for was not worth it...I would retort with the firm belief that doing and dying for what’s right is the only thing worth living for.
In closing, I would urge people that when acting in any of these situations always understand that while you may think you are interjecting in a harmless exchange of words, know that things can escalate quickly and turn to violence in a heartbeat. It is not a game, but there is always the potential that you will be playing for blood.
I myself am not an expert in dealing with unstable personalities, or deescalating tense exchanges, so I will not attempt to tell anyone how to handle a similar situation. However, the articles I will leave below do have some useful information. Stand up for others, but be safe doing it.

What should you do if you witness a racist or Islamophobic tirade?




Dealing with Difficult People: 10 Tips for Defusing Toxic Situations

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Goodbye to An Old Friend

            I’m sitting here in front of this page feeling two things I haven’t felt in a long time. The first is true sadness. The second is intimidation.
            The sadness is easy to understand. I can be at times an emotional guy. I cry during sad scenes in movies- hell I cry during those medication commercials when they list all the side effects.
            The intimidation is harder to define, but understandable. I want to write something to honor you, to do you justice. To get right down to it, I want to make people that never got the opportunity to meet you, to know you, understand why I’m so sad.
*
            One of my earliest memories of you is opening the door for you to come in the house. You trotted down the hall, head cocked sideways, doing your little shuffle/dance on almost comically short legs. You looked at me as if to say; Hey newb, this is the part where you get me a treat. Who was I to argue?
            I can also remember when you knocked Gretchen down a peg or two, deservedly so. A dog 3 times your size, and 4 times your weight, no less. You didn’t take shit from nobody. I had no choice but to respect that.
            After that day, I realized there was more to you than I initially recognized. At first glance you were a curmudgeonous, food glutton who’s main accomplishments were sleeping 18 hours a day and having an on again-off again affair with the pet bed. But you were also ferociously loyal to those close to you, a fun-loving goofball, who at times reminded me of a dog much younger than he.
            Over time began to see you as ageless. In fact, that’s why all of this is so shocking. Deiter never gets sick, never takes ill. He has an iron stomach, and a secret stash of youthfulness for which people would kill. Deiter is there- Every. Damn. Morning. - to get his breakfast, doing that ridiculous little shuffle/dance, with his head cocked sideways, still looking at me, reminding me; Hey nothing has changed, this is the routine and you and I are going to do this dance til the end of time- Now feed me newb.
            But then this morning…you weren’t there. I didn’t wake up to the sound of your persistent whine, or your paws-out-stretched-in-a-double-high-five-Dachshund-meerkat stance. I woke up to the realization that we had lost you...
            You were your own individual, with your own loving personality. You may have been an old man, but you weren’t the mean elderly dog that I had assumed you to be. You may have started out as my “step-dog”, but you became my “Deiter-boy”, Deiter McDeiter”, “Deiter Burriter”… Although, it took us awhile to really get know and trust each other, I think our bond was stronger because it wasn’t an easy camaraderie at first. I am proud to have known you. Even more proud to have earned the right to call you my friend.

            R.I.P. buddy you will be missed. 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Window Shopping: Kingdom Without a King- Part 10

I stepped closer to the man, immediately I felt Praesus’ hand on my shoulder. “What are you doing?”
Not knowing what to say, I said nothing at all. There was something that drew me to this man, to this prisoner. Who knew how long the Allaine’s and their cohorts had held him here against his will. Following some deep urge, I reached for the restraints that bound his right wrist.
Praesus, having never let go of my shoulder, pulled me back before I could make any progress at loosening his shackles. I could only see that their weight had gouged his wrists badly, leaving a circular trail of crimson over broken skin.
“He is not our concern.” Praesus spoke through clenched teeth. Old Rufus sniffed idly at the broken crown on the stone floor, and seemed to agree with Praesus’ stance.  In a hurry, Rufus trotted to Praesus’ side, an act I had never seen him to prior to that moment. I couldn’t tell if he was warming up to Praesus, or simply wanted to keep his distance from the shackled man.
“He is our concern,” I urged, pointing at the mam, “This could’ve been us!”
“We’ve no clue who he is, or what they are holding him for!” Praesus was, as usual, quick to anger and quick to expose the tenuous nature of our partnership.
I asserted, “You mean were holding, as soon as we are able, we are setting him free. I’m not leaving him here for the remnants of this  group to do with him as they see fit.”
Praesus’ face was the definition of disbelief, “You just used trickery, and the love of two siblings to subdue a woman who’s very reason for vengeance against you was due to you turning her brother into a flesh eating monster who you control, and now suddenly you feel like now is a prop’r moment for charity?” Praesus spoke slowly and methodically.
I shrugged, “You gotta pick your spots.”
Arms up in futility, Praesus swore and threw back his head in a hardy laugh.
“Hey, don’t try to make me out to be the bad guy here. I didn’t see you coming up with any morally acceptable means of escaping this shithole for the second time today!”
Old Rufus cut into our debate with a series of curt barks. Praesus and I turned to see the deceased Anton hovering with his open maw over his sister Asta’s shoulder.
“Anton get it together!” my voice rolled and echoed down the prison hall. The zombie Anton snapped to attention, immediately uninterested in the still living flesh that coated his sister’s arm.
Praesus took note of this, but said nothing. He was more focused on the unidentified prisoner. I didn’t venture any closer, but I gave the man a good once over to see if anything stood out. His garb, other than the well worn purple robe and cracked crown, was normal.
“Is he royalty, maybe from another portal? Someone they would’ve saw as a rival?”
Praesus was being more cautious than I, “He’s a burden we do not need. We need to fend for ourselves.”
“You need to fend for yourself, I am fairly confident with their captain under my command, and his sister captive, I can all but walk right through anything else they throw at me. Can you say the same?”
“Your newfound confidence astounds.” Praesus’ voice was grim, but my point stifled him, at least in the moment.
“I am not proposing taking him with us, just letting him go to give him a fighting chance.”
“He could be a cannibal,” Praesus was grasping at straws.
I stepped out of the cell briefly, gripping the torch from the wall that had concealed the man. “Great the arsonist, extortionist and kidnapper has views on the irreparable corruptibility of another.” Quickly, I hopped back into the cell and shone the torchlight over the man’s beaten face.

The torchlight was illuminating, in more ways than one. I was able to look past the man’s battered countenance; numerous welts and the long-dried blood spatters were caked all over his face.
Praesus continued in vain, “...a thief, some other kind of deviant. I am simply saying, you do not know this man, nor what he is capable of.”


“Yes, I do,” my arm went slack, the torch fell to the ground. I turned to Praesus and spoke weakly, “I do know this man, because this man is my father.”