If you love, adore the moon. If you rob, steal a camel.

Stories for the Long Silk Road

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Donal Mahoney: One Tough Nun

Timmy McGinty had many important teachers over the years but the one who changed his life was Sister Coleman, who taught him in 8th grade back in 1952. She prepared Timmy to thrive in high school and, if a scholarship became available, perhaps in college as well. It's lucky for him she worked so hard because another nun might have given up on him. After all, he was "incorrigible" (according to one of his previous teachers) and the only thing he did well was spell, punctuate, write sentences and compose complete paragraphs. Otherwise, he was fairly useless academically. His main delight was mischief. In that field, he had no peer among his classmates. 

Like many of the 16 nuns housed in the convent near the school, Sister Coleman was an immigrant from Ireland. She had been brought to Chicago, Timmy learned later in life, because she could manage roughhouse children, many of them the offspring of blue-collar immigrants. Couth, you might say, was not rampant among the otherwise decent people in that neighborhood. Fathers worked as laborers, although a few managed to become policemen or firemen. Mothers were homemakers although some took in laundry to make a few dollars.

In the first week of eighth grade, Sister Coleman plucked Timmy out of the last seat in the second row and plopped him in the first seat in the third row. He would spend the entire year in that seat, right under her wolverine gaze. She had sat Timmy there because she suspected he had been rolling marbles down the aisle from his back row seat. As always she was right but Timmy did his best to maintain his innocence.

"Timothy McGinty," Sister bellowed, "that was you, wasn't it, who rolled the marble down the aisle. It had to be you. That marble made a long trip and you were in the last seat in the second row, covered with freckles and full of buncombe. Do you know what buncombe means, Timothy? Well, you will by the time this year is over, let me tell you, and you will be able to spell the word as well."

Timmy denied everything, pointing his finger at Eddie Sheridan, a slight lad who wished he could do some of the things Timmy did but he simply didn't have the nerve. Besides, Eddie was good in math and he spent most of his time working on algebra problems, something no one else in that eighth grade would have touched. 

"I think Eddie Sheridan did it, Sister. I saw his arm move like he was bowling."

Sister took it from there and told Timmy he was not only full of buncombe but balderdash as well and if he didn't start behaving himself and studying hard he would grow up to be a blatherskite always in search of a job.

"I have a brother like you, Timmy, back in Ireland, 40 years old now and still helping out on the farm. My father sometimes says he's not fit to sleep with the pigs but my mother says he certainly is. He's always misbehaving, Timmy. Maybe we can send you over there to help him."

As a penance for his marble escapade, Timmy not only had to sit in front of Sister Coleman but he also had to diagram 30 sentences a night in addition to his regular homework. In fact, Timmy had to diagram 30 sentences a night for the entire year. And these were not "simple sentences." They were "compound sentences" and "compound complex sentences," both of which many of his classmates were not yet ready to diagram. But Timmy McGinty had a way with words and Sister Coleman knew that. As a result, she decided that working with words, perhaps as a writer or editor, might be one of the few ways Timmy could some day earn a living.

Sister Coleman stood right in front of Timmy when she lectured--and she did lecture--and spittle would spray from the gap in her teeth onto his spectacles. Timmy was one of very few boys who wore spectacles in the school, either because myopia was not rampant among the students or because their parents simply never thought about taking their children to an eye doctor.

Timmy got his first pair of glasses in third grade.

"Mom," he said. "I don't want to wear them. Nobody else wears them at school. I'll get in fights."

And sure enough the first three days back in school, Timmy had three fights in the playground as some other boys wanted to see if the glasses had changed him. Maybe he couldn't fight anymore, they thought. But Timmy won all three fights and had to stay after school three nights for "defending himself," as he told his father. Decades later, he could still name the three boys who had accosted him and he would have loved the opportunity to punch them once again, just to clarify that his new glasses had not made him a wimp. 

In fact, Timmy told his wife when he finally turned 80 that he would beat the hell out of those "three curs with his cane" if he could find them. After all, he would never have had to stay after school for three nights if they had left him alone. 

Timmy liked Sister Coleman, despite her discipline, and he liked her even more ten years later when he had earned a master's degree in English, which in 1962 was a respected major that could lead to a good job. English majors were considered trainable in many occupations that did not involve math or science. Often they were put into management trainee slots and primed to run departments and eventually sometimes an entire company. No one knew exactly what English majors knew but most of them could talk and write and seemed to have a good understanding of people.

With his master's degree diploma in a briefcase, Timmy went back to his old grammar school to find Sister Coleman and show her that one of her incorrigibles had accomplished something. But, alas, he was told in polite terms that his favorite sister was in a home in Florida, and she was there not so much because of her age, but for other reasons. They wouldn't tell Timmy the reasons but he summarized the situation for his parents when he visited them.

"I'm afraid Sister Coleman went bonkers and they shipped her out. They should never have let her teach all those years at that school."

Later on, Timmy found on the Internet that Sister Coleman had died but only after she had returned to Ireland and recruited a niece, also a nun, to teach at his old school. Timmy would have bet that the niece was as tough as her aunt. She would have had to be to govern the miscreants in his old school. 

Sister Coleman succeeded with Timmy because she had chosen to teach through and around his behavioral problems. Indeed, Timmy today would probably have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder or some other such disease and put in a school offering special education classes. They had no schools like that back when Timmy was in eighth grade. If a kid acted out more than Timmy did, he was sent to military school. Timmy remembers fondly three of his classmates who were taken away and never seen in the neighborhood again. His mother had seen one of them for the last time on her way to Mass on a hot Sunday in July. Bobby was sitting on his front porch eating the night crawlers he and his father were supposed to go fishing with later that day.

"I would never eat night crawlers, Mom. You don't have to worry" is what Timmy told his mother at Sunday dinner. 

Timmy was lucky to have Sister Coleman and the other nuns as his teachers. They knew they were there to turn out children ready to go to high school and perhaps then to college and maybe law school or medical school if scholarships could be found. Those nuns had big plans for their charges because a good education was the only way they as adults would ever find good jobs to raise families of their own. 

As did all the nuns back then, Sister Coleman wore a habit that signaled to all that she was in charge. That didn't mean boys like Timmy always behaved--far from it. But when they got caught, they had no problem accepting the discipline and extra homework that misbehavior incurred. 

"I deserved all the punishment I got," Timmy told his wife many times in their 50 year marriage. "I asked for it and the sisters doled it out. They had to survive, didn't they, even if poor Sister Coleman didn't make it. I wish now I had never rolled that marble down the aisle." 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

John Pursch: Hamsterdamaged

Touched wonderkids crowd the spunlit Dread Light District window sills with hunky hottie bronzed cod bodice fairy tail, sought by pederasts and numismatic journeymen from Coppa Riminme to Palma Dazed Majority’s waxed political cistern of bloated sarcophagi, streaming Hegypped’em hired glyph-itch saleswomen on pedicab inferno trikes and horse-crawl terriers, bleeding sorely wanton festive spittoon contamination burps at grape school pilferers on tranny junkets, carrying impassive locks of dishrag heirloom hauteur into prestidigitation’s nautical shambles of nude preternaturally sympathetic troglodytes on shore leave from the U.S.S.S.S.S.S…S.S.S… Ellipses.

Posturing for pontoon ferry pilots, Hamsterdamaged schoolgirls climb aboard the lucky streetside metal pillars, shining clear smegmatic calling curds of bygone pigeon pachyderms with packaged pudenda, wowing febrile furtive furloughed fondlers with selfsame immolation rites, sending whole tramloads of drooling moldy cuckolds up in charcoal heaps of pyrotechnic spontaneity. 

Bleating copper ash thaw, sorority queens swoop in, walloping the hairless headstone shoulders pressed to Dread Light window dressing’s thousand eyelet overload of purple faction body parts in manacled display stand conquest’s elaboration tonsillitis breath.

Kabuki grins a million gleaming teeth-row hedge semantic raw-truth mottled foolery, addled by mere thought secretion whoop-de-doo of saddle shoes in Flying Touchman catchment sluicing aqueducts of newly piling bile, empirical in colocation seamstress switchyard’s Siamese assembly plant.

“Locking for lung-lost lanky leggings to speed off in feathered reaches, leafy wanderer?” his calm infested deadpan flesh repels halibut the gruel professional hookahs, ant he noses ‘em outa their sidewalk grotto pancake pouts easier than sunrise concurs with matey Massivehippie Rivet’s full reflective slurried face in Lucidana’s Deltoid dawn.

LL-25 just smiles and glitters early morning flashgun lobotic wax pulpit grease-gun wink, pops the trapdoor, deftly swallows Clem from Rotation Alley conveyor belt sidewalk drift to queued confabulatory hustling tank a floor below in musty wading rheumy octane genuflecting mating line. He flakes a number of retroactive shingles for perpendicular analyses, clears the shiny bar, hits disrobing sequence, picked to pickled harpsichord in tonal radiation, standing sodden naked schnockered on pre-shoot forgeries of wiggy highlight mosh pit ketchup-watching zeal.

“Keeps arousal’s plover fetch aggrandized highball statutory pairings, wad with canned stunt pasture raid of plush lobotic beauties, slowly pause here ad my window, shaving trendy fast propels us all from slipshod slow commotion crest to fuel autistic yardarm stupor soar,” Kabuki casual observes to fallow crass mates, encased in traction spume, readied for furious lunch.

Mowing slouch preliminaries, Kabuki stands negated, assembled lung weed endless row of whaling men intent on pure lobotic rust release in servile satisfaction gradient of constant wartime freedom, penultimate grail’s lonely enema retreat. 

LL-25’s atop him now in slo-mo interstitial mound of dueling alligator trappings, blushing matched illegible reducing broth to conned incredulous ingredients of whirled and widening oxen carts in feudal disarray’s engorging postal cramming paginated overflow with hairline whereabouts in dateline giblet chasm hordes of rug burn bliss for natal disregard, inspecting eyelid retinue notation’s frost retrieval, clamoring for pyramidal fiords of clots, orgasmic tone impinging from the cyborg’s missing arse.

And now Kabuki bites the capillary tooth line puncture, swallows hard his time-reversal loop instantiation gel, immediately swivels down with LL-25 to retrogasmic slippage shoot and triggers slo-mo colocation cream to run along her silken floss. 

They’re tumbling off assembly grid to timeline private corridor for extra balls in overtime of unclocked graphical entrancement trip mache. He manages to break off fragmentation tempo blast to leave them stranded then for hours no doubt till daybreak cleanup crew resolves the pyre of paradoxical temporal flak. He’s buried his face where any bile-flooded hulled Americon meal wood instinctively deposit it…

Course there’s shamefully no privacy in this whirled of time drug usury and Clem’s connection’s patently weighted all contingencies for this chance to hijack LL-25 in full erratic undertow for slo-mo interred rotation of her own -- yes her -- drat concocted connection’s mossy defiled at least a she, perhaps a she-bot, nuanced noses scan not hotel mastiff stereotypes or penitentiary tongue nest gyrations in feebly abandoned autistic temptress dirigible divulging sense parades. 

Antler hoot, connected feline time-drag dealer trips a switching spansule, plopping from Waxycan, Days Ago compartment to Dread Light District tryst in heartfelt beat cop flicker, deftly lifts timed frozen LL-25 from Clem’s collapse and takes awash undie wiggled slide, wad weed Clem safely stashed in pauseway pallet term for subliminal sequenced retrieval addled slated crime in slow-culled future.

Sewn from hetero to giggling curls extravaganza, LL-25’s enjoying ivory turnstile hop of turgid torpedo strudel flop this oh-so-fried hurtling morning. Even her lobotic intellect can’t quite parse this newly bound interloper’s secreted identity, though varied notions of self obtain in time drug spheroid entrĂ©e sway. Shaven so, tummies shun mired vision’s clod of hindered fistulas and garden variety croutons.

Treason timed rugs are banned from Hamsterdamaged Dread Light auction; whale, eat’s situations chest like dish. Now LL-25’s hashed senselessly outa time, on plausibly one-way bet mossy likely sampling fairy lung drowned-trip ducat through axed seeding leas and sentry seas of Elmo’s spurtingly furtively stun-mop orgasmic and preppily orgiastic delectation. 

Whale chesty shamble a smallish subway shed of her infinite loop, weed fiend of daft hollowing: Myopia’s finest parlance trickles, black through Moldy Groping Umpire’s palatial chattel, streaking pint as Moan d’Aardvark to shaving Hypatia’s lovely flame, teleporting Oleg’s Androidal library to…

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Paul Tristram: A Haberdashery Of Heartache

He stepped quickly in through
the gloomy, creaking shop front door,
leaving the drizzly rain of London’s
‘Bleeding Heart Yard’ behind him.
Removing his battered old trilby hat
he shook it casting little sooty globs
of water down onto the sawdust floor.
He approached the teeth marked counter
and rang the little bronze bell, thrice.
An assistant quickly appeared from behind
a dusty velvet curtained doorway
wearing an apron which was splattered
with blood to the extent that he could have
previously been employed as sidekick
to Him who tore up Lady Elizabeth Hatton.
He adjusted the small round spectacles
upon his long and crooked nose,
scratched at his balding head
whilst pulling a pencil nubbing out
from behind his greasy right ear
(such as the kind you find in a gambling den!)
He tapped the lead against his tongue, twice,
coughed and spoke thus,
“Is the slash & stitching for yourself, sir?
How long was this previous relationship, in years?
Was a wedding band used to bind the contract?
Is the enemy still alive and well or deceased?
Ankle-biters, are there any ankle-biters, sir?
If so how many of them and of what sex
also, is there any fondness for any of them
or are they merely relationship baggage?
Please, don’t look that way, sir, I must ask.
Last but not least, the guilt, there is always guilt,
on this occasion which side of the fence does it lay?”
The patron winced and shuffled uncomfortably
from one foot back and fore to the other,
then spoke his reply in an exhausted drawl
“It would have been thirteen years to this day.
Yes, the messy business is for myself.
There was a brass contractual finger ring
but I spied it in a ‘Leaving Shop’ window
3 streets ago only yesterday morning.
God, did not bless the coupling with children,
but with enough misery to fill the hole instead.
And as for the guilt, well while I do not
have a decent thing to say about her
being a gentleman, I must take responsibility
for letting her into my home to begin with!”
The assistant finished noting this down
and with a frown he spoke again,
“You must not be too hard on yourself,
it speaks for itself that you are stood here
and she is not, sir!
Besides we are not here to judge but to mend
Repairing butchered hearts is our business
and our business is very well and healthy.
It will be a whole 3 banknotes for the operation,
which will take approximately one single hour.
It is indeed your lucky day, sir.
This morning’s work ran rather smoothly,
the first after midday vitals didn’t make it though,
hence the state of my normally spotless apparel.
The lady who was supposed to be up next
and booked her appointed yesterday afternoon
could not wait the 24 hours or so
for we have just been informed that she took
a permanent dip off Shadwell Docks last night.
Which gives us a 2 hour gap until the next one.
The Master is out back smoking his pipe,
if you take a seat, I will give him a shout
and we will both be with you directly, sir!”

Silk Road Mantra

by Suchoon Mo

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road

I go and go

from west to east

I go and go

from east to west

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road


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