I never got to know my great-grandparents. They all died before I was born.
The last one to go died just a few months before I was born.
I saw a Super Eight movie of her patting my mother’s belly.
She was saying something, but the movie had no sound.
Even if I could read lips, the film quality was poor, and it hadn’t been preserved well.
I asked my mom if she could remember what my great-grandmother had said.
“It was an old Yiddish curse,” she said.
Seeing how my life has turned out, it has probably come true.
When people ask me how I feel, I tell them.
No, I don’t say “I’m fine.” Or “Everything is great.” Or “Could be better.”
Because things are never fine. Or great.
And just because things could be better, they won’t turn out that way.
Instead, I tell them everything in excruciating detail. And I don’t ask them how they’re doing, either. Because most people ask how you’re doing so they can tell you how they’re doing.
Hell, I’ll make shit up. Because it’s easier to forget things when you’ve got worse things to worry about.
And I’m fine with that.
When the office moved to the North side of town, I didn’t own a car, so I commuted with coworkers who lived nearby.
One would stop at Whataburger every morning. I always ate breakfast at home, because we’d be late by a quarter hour, and get docked the cost of a Whataburger breakfast. I figured I broke even.
Another drove his wreck of a truck like a crazy man, weaving from lane to lane, and he’d shout ” Slow down, Mister Zoomy!” at anybody that would pass him.
Both were crazy.
But I was even crazier, riding with them willingly.
It has been five months.
I am haunted. I cannot let go.
When I walk outside, I look for you.
Around corners. Under bushes. Along the fence.
You’re not there. You’re never there.
I search the pet rescue sites, chasing your ghost.
Every black cat, young or old. It doesn’t matter.
No, this one is a kitten.
No, this one has green eyes.
I will never find you, because you’re not out there.
Gone is gone. And nothing will change that.
But I will keep looking.
And I will keep searching.
Because I am haunted, and cannot let go.
I haven’t bowled for years.
I can’t remember the last time I bowled.
I remember the first time I was at a bowling alley. I was in the day care room while my mom was bowling. They had coloring books and blocks and games and connect the dots.
But I don’t remember playing games with other kids. Just one connect the dots. It was of a cowboy. My mom may still have it.
The company is having a bowling night tonight.
Will I bowl?
Put me in the day care room. With coloring book, blocks, and connect the dots.
It’s the end of the night.
I haven’t written a story yet.
I ask the bartender if he knows any.
He says he does. He heard a good one this afternoon on the way to the bar.
And he tells it to me.
“Wasn’t that great?” he says.
“Yeah,” I say. “Thanks. I owe you one.”
And I pay my tab and leave him a twenty.
On the way home, I think about the story the bartender told me, and how I can add one of my twist endings to it.
Wait. The story he told.
It’s one of mine.
For the longest time I thought that lowercase was spelled with a hyphen, but it’s actually spelled without one. And the preferred spelling is without a space between lower and case at all.
My mind reels. How long have I been doing this? When did I think that a hyphen was needed? Why didn’t spellcheck and autocorrect fix it all these years?
I open my custom dictionary, add the entry, and click Save.
What else have I misspelled all these years like some country bumpkin?
I shut down the laptop and write down a reminder on my notepad. In upper-case.