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

Stories for the Long Silk Road

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Donal Mahoney: Strangers in a Bar

Sammy had been sitting in the bar for four hours drinking his usual gin and tonic, one drink after another, and even he would admit he was soused if he could put a sentence together. He didn’t have to talk, however, since he was the only customer left and there was an hour to go before closing. All he had to do was tap on the bar twice in front of his empty glass and the bartender would give him another drink. The service was wonderful.

Then two men in trench coats and fedoras walked in and sat down a few stools away from Sammy. They ordered a couple of beers. They seemed to be concerned about something and Sammy always liked to listen in on other people’s conversations.

“We need more room,” the big man said. “We can hardly take any more people. But they keep coming down and we can’t send them anywhere else. You would think we were Las Vegas and the drinks were free."

“Where will we get more room? We’re not talking real estate here,” the little fellow said. “No one thinks this place exists anyway. They think we’re a figment of someone’s imagination. New arrivals are always surprised.”

Then the big man said, “Oh, some people know we exist but they think we only get dictators and used car salesmen. The common belief is everyone else goes upstairs right away, provided there is an upstairs. More and more people think there may be nothing at the end.” 

The little guy thought about that for a moment and said, “Well, I heard two women arguing the other day about where cats and dogs go. I know we don’t have any cats and dogs. Where would we put them? Pretty soon we’ll be getting Boomers. They’re a fussy bunch. We need more room now!”

Sammy didn’t know what to make of all of this. He wished he wasn’t drunk so he could join the conversation but all he could do was listen. The two men finally left and Sammy told himself he’d come back tomorrow night and ask the bartender who the hell those two guys were. Then he tapped on the bar twice in front of his empty glass.

Friday, June 5, 2015

KJ Hannah Greenberg: Power per Unit

The day eventually arrived when my little girl was no longer a child or even a student, but a parent and a teacher. Yet, the amity that I had once felt toward parenting her had gone missing. Whereas we were “buddies” during her youth, once she left for university, I was no longer privy to her comings and goings.

The grownup years that followed her schooling included family portraits, but not revelations. She offered me no glimpses into the tests she endured when planning and executing her wedding, getting pregnant, or delivering her baby.

After a while, I, too, stopped being forthright in my communications. Although my dear one had been the offspring with whom I had visited all of the missions beading the San Antonia River and for whom I had annually purchased a summer pass to Morgan’s Wonderland, she was no longer the confident I brought to amble the River Walk or to pursue antiques in Hill Country. I passed to her no more of my secrets.

That is, I barred her from additional treasure seeking among my mental nests of memoirs, poems, and similar verbal tinkerings. My personal disclosures were suddenly off limits; she had to make due with only my fictions, with only those writings that are more make-believe than reality.

Sadly, that girl expressed no loss in being banded from my confused anecdotes. During those long decades after diapers, when my writings helped me to reminisce, they meant nothing to that increasingly petulant daughter.

So, with a probe fashioned from last season’s words, I jotted down some number of my scrofulous deeds, none of which made me proud. I hoped she’d appreciate me once more if I again served her select, important details of our past shared circumstances. It was beyond my ken that such telegraphed notions might create, for that young woman, an aura of contempt.

She stopped calling weekly.

Accordingly, emotionally exiled, I recorded my memories of our lives in Military City. I wrote how, though poor, I pooled resources with those of other air force moms and managed, somehow, to make life bright and beautiful for us even though our span at Lackland was lackluster.

After reading those accounts, my daughter didn’t embrace me anew, but blamed me, aloud, for her father’s failed return.

That child can never know that Stephen was elsewhere, busily relaxing among other civilizations’ castanets, drinking from cups offered to him by smarmy civil servants, and applauding the surcease of rivalries among America’s friends. What’s more, she must continue to be shielded from the fact that her father remains with his mistress.

Yesterday, I walked alone at SeaWorld, where, I watched porpoises and dolphins dance.  They performed measure for measure.

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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