The Gift Of Story

“A book can take you places,” my uncle said. “Wonderful places.”
You see a stack of fresh notepads and unused pens. I see stories that are waiting to be imagined and written.
So many places to discover and explore, then commit to the page. With each revision, the story becomes clearer, and the reader comes closer to actually being there.
I hold a notepad in my hand, pick up a pen, and remember my uncle trying to teach me to write.
But I couldn’t. I didn’t have the gift.
I close the rolltop desk and lock it.
Stories, lost forever.

The Cones

Usually, traffic cones are orange so you can see them at night. However, while I was walking back to the hotel, I saw a green traffic cone.
I picked it up and carried it back to the hotel, and I wore it as a hat for a selfie in the bathroom mirror.
I let it sleep on the other bed.
When I went down to the registration desk to check out, I left it in an elevator.
There are a lot of websites that sell traffic cones, but I don’t really want one now.
It’s just the moment, you know.

The Stranger

The bride and groom asked me to deliver the toast.
I wasn’t the best man. I wasn’t the maid of honor.
I was just someone they once knew, that once knew them, or thought I knew them. Or myself.
Now, I wear robes and a hood.
Nobody has seen my face for years. Not even me.
I bathe in the dark, and I am shaved and groomed by a blind barber.
I don’t even remember the color of my eyes. My hair.
A stranger to myself and all.
I held the glass in the air.
And dropped it.
It shattered.

as a

Freddy says that he’s sick as a dog, so he can’t meet up with me at our favorite bar.
Sick dog? Is one of your dogs sick? I ask.
I’m a vet. I take care of Freddy’s dogs. He’d have said something if one was sick.
“No, as sick as a dog!”
Oh, I must have misheard him.
I guess I’m getting to be as deaf as a post.
Freddy works for The Post. As an ombudsman. He has to listen all day to readers.
He swore and hung up. I guess he heard me the wrong way or something.

Alarm Clocks

I always set my alarm clock before I go to sleep, and I always set the alarm clock on my phone as a backup.
Even though I set two alarms every morning, I wake up before them. But I still set those alarms, just in case I sleep late and need them.
It’s like circus acrobats and trapeze artists who use nets. If they are good, they don’t need or even want the net, but they have it there anyway.
So, I set the alarms, go to bed, and I dream of being a circus acrobat.
Without a goddamned net.

Ricky The Rat

Back in the day, Ricky The Rat would drop a dime and rat you out to the cops.
The Syndicate never managed to finger Ricky, so they muscled the phone company into raising the price of a call from ten cents to a quarter.
“Exact change, please,” said the operator to Ricky.
That kept Ricky quiet for a while… until 911 made it to the city. That was toll free.
Ricky would still drop a dime out of habit, and get it back.
Then, cell phones took over. Phone booths vanished.
The Syndicate tracked Ricky with GPS, and whacked him.

Italy?

Italy.
Tell me about Italy
Tell me everything you know about Italy.
The questioners walk from person to person in the mall, asking them about Italy.
Some knew things about Italy.
Some knew a lot.
But most people only knew that it was shaped like a boot. Or about Rome.
One person got confused and talked about Austria.
Another wanted help with a can opener.
“You’re left-handed,” I told him. “That’s a right-handed can opener.”
After we opened a few cans, he thanked me for the help.
“So about Italy…”
He smiled and walked away.
So, tell me about Italy.