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Category Archives: Short Story

Dreamscape

About 9PM, a walk began filled with restlessness. Claustrophobia pushed every step with the urge to escape.

Off of Johnson Street, a block behind the house, there’s a dirt road with a placard saying: “No motorized vehicles allowed.” Seeing this, adventure presented itself, and the toes turned into it.

Picking up the pace, the town passed slowly out of sight, opening up to another world where trees, crickets, and frogs sounded their background uproar.

The moon was so bright its light enveloped everything with an aural glow overwhelming the feet to continue. Giant trees imagined the walls for ancient wood-folk castles–fields were charged with dancing fairies who rejoiced in the open-faced moon.

The heart swelled like one in love. Discerning a zest for life reigning at the moment was recreating a being unencumbered. Bullying thoughts fell off like a worn-out shell reborn in the cycle of youthful creation, timeless as the stars singing the moon.

The Big Dipper hung low and was twinkling down its magic dust. Every step on the Amish buggy path unveiled a new & more phenomenal beauty. The smell of Amish wood smoke, the silence, the rock formations, the hills, and trees–Every last moment was jealous of the next.

How did such a paradise exist so near to home? There is rapture here. It must be a star-gate to another parallel dimension.

Hours passed, which seemed only a minute. The light of the moon now hid behind some haunting trees.

Shadows leaped out from everywhere, with a dog’s howl in the distance. Fears jabbered within- what if? what if? –But, rejecting those fabrications, the realization arose that there was nothing to be afraid of. The dark stretch was just another kind of beauty to be enjoyed and embraced as part of the whole adventure.

Being alive seemed to take on a new sense of meaning, listening to those night sounds & to the darkness. The earth’s odors were spicy as an overpowering balm filling the nose and lungs with wholesome delight; mint, maple leaves, and muck combined.

Where the road concluded seemed impossible, for it was several miles away. Somehow, over 5 miles passed under exploring feet. The return journey was just as spectacular. A spectator in what seemed to be an elaborate dream finally arrived home a little more than an hour after setting out.

In the house, a reoccurring childhood dream came to mind. It was about finding a hidden path that was the shortcut to a distant Shangri-La.

Now that dream felt like it had become a reality. Imagine where feet were headed the following day?

 

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Tiger Food

two Bengal tigers were known to terrorize a village
they were notorious for killing goats, cows, and even people
Tigers are known for having a taste for humans

a sadhu holy man was passing through and heard the stories
being a pacifist and a vegetarian, he convinced the village elders
not to hunt the tigers --he would have a holy conversation with them
to persuade them to leave the village alone --the elders agreed

the holy man walked into the jungle-like areas where the tigers lived
after a few hours, he heard a growl behind him; they were hunting him
he tried to keep his nerve and turned, shouting Sanskrit to them
their shining eyes told him they were happy about the meal
even though he would be a stringy snack from much fasting

so the sadhu ran and could feel the breath of one of them on his back
just before leaping off a tall cliff
as he was dropping, he reached out a hand and managed to grab a vine
breaking his fall --he hung there dangling, suspended halfway down
he looked up and saw the tiger that chased him, salivating above
he looked down and saw its mate waiting below for a future meal

the vine wasn't very thick
some mice came out of holes and began nibbling the vine
it began snapping, giving way

he noticed a beautiful strawberry bush growing out of the cliff side
he picked a big juicy one and put it in his mouth
it was the sweetest he ever tasted




 


 

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Living on the Wire

The famous funambulist,
Karl Wallenda said,
‘The only place I feel alive is on the wire,’

in 1977, at age 72, he walked
a 720-foot cable
(about 2 football fields) from the
Miami Fountainebleau to the Eden Roc Hotel,
170 feet above the ground
while crowds of people ogled
at his marvelous feat of balance,
he called this walk, ‘the toughest stunt
of his life.’

but in Puerto Rico, only a year later,
at 73, he fell
not from age, or a misstep,
but from a gust of wind
coming off of the Caribbean combined
with a poorly connected guy-wire

on live TV,
he fell 120 feet,
hit his head on a parked taxi,
and five minutes later
pronounced dead,

it shouldn’t shock anyone to think
that he would want to die
in the same way as
he only wanted
to live

for ‘The Flying Wallenda,’
risking was savoring life

.

© Brian Hodgkinson Jr (aka) Limericist 2007

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2021 in Poetry, Short Story

 

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I Bet

Sitting in class during 6th grade, waiting for the teacher's arrival, a few kids engaged in a conversation about whether there was life after death.

My best friend was John. His father was a noted geologist who worked for the metallurgical society in Ohio.

Like his father, John was an atheist. He was adamant that we just go to the soil to be eaten by worms after we die. And that's all there is; there is no soul or spirit.

Somehow, that made no sense to my 10-year-old mind because I lived with a deep sensibility of the unseen even then. John got bitterly angry with me because I said I believed there is life after death. He even said he couldn't be my friend anymore if I persisted in accepting it.

My father never went to church, and I was pretty irreligious too. Still, from my earliest memories, I lived with the feeling of an unseen realm. I felt I was even visited on occasion. So, my belief was not conditioned by a religious upbringing at all.

John invited me on a picnic to meet his scientist father. It was an annual picnic for the metallurgic group his father worked for. John's father soon cornered me and asked me about my belief in an afterlife. He assured me that it didn't exist, that his scientific knowledge proved it didn't. Then he said that unless I gave up what I believed, I could not be his son's friend anymore.

Wow, a 10-year-old was a threat to a scientist. I felt like I was on another planet. It's important to note, I never pushed or preached my point of view. Others would draw me out by asking my opinion, and I was simply honest to state what it was.

After the picnic, John caught me at school and told me that his father had forbidden him to be my friend anymore. He said he would honor his father's wishes and that was that -- unless I renounced believing in an unseen world.

I told John that I couldn't stop trusting in some kind of life after death, though I had no idea exactly what it consisted of.

Emboldened by his father's decree, he made fun of me in front of the other kids.

I told him that I would make a bet with him. He agreed. I said, "Whatever currency is on the other side, a hundred." He scoffing, laughed, and said, "No worries."

John never spoke to me again.

55 years later, I still hope I don't have the opportunity to say I told you so.

 

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Double Take

*

A nightmare occurred.
…but not quite.

For years, I suffered
from arrhythmia,
which caused my heart to stop
for short intervals.
I would just blank out.

I went to the ER with one
of these events and was admitted.
They wanted to do an EKG.
Dizzy, I called for a nurse,
but flat-lined and blacked out.
Because I had no detectable brain activity,
the advance order was made
to let me go without further defibrillation,
the sheet was lifted over my face,
pronounced dead,
and wheeled to the morgue.

I observed this hovering above myself
with a thin umbilical cord
of blue light still attached
to my covered body.

I lay in the clammy cold and heard
voices:
they said, “in about an hour,
they’ll be here
to pick up the body.”

Two men in black arrived.
Unceremoniously, I was trundled
into a long raven-black hearse,
I tried to scream:
“I’m here!
I’m not dead yet!”
But no sound
would come out.

They wheeled me
naked into a formaldehyde scented
room with that faint dead-fish smell,
where a smiling mortician poked
a 6-inch needle into my heart,
then put it in his ashtray and left.

Two sinister fellows entered, different
from those that picked me up.
One said to the other,
…this guy’ll do.
He’s a dead ringer,
and can take his place.

They dressed me up,
put me in a casket, and I heard
them giving orders to someone:
“We can’t show this galloots body because
make-up won’t cover his rigor mortis.
This must be a closed affair.”
 
There was a longish pause… then,
those liturgical words:
“Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.”
An elevator sound, I was descending,
down–down– then, thud…Silence…
…but right then, my consciousness
was resurfacing, awake, my heart
found its rhythm. I was vigilant,
but why so dark?
Where was I? The stuffy air smelled
like a new car, hospital-like, earthy,
thick, and warm.

Sick to my stomach, I realized
that with my nails
I would write my last words
on the ceiling of this confined space.
Shrieking defiantly, I scratched into
the pearly satin with my bloody fingers:

“I have reached a place where
few living souls have come.
In this claustrophobic space,
to death i’ll succumb.
The worms cannot have me
until I’ve written once more,
I’ll scream in futility,
express my last horror
as entombed I pass
through Grim Reaper’s door.”

Suddenly, I awoke and realized
it was all a dream, how relieved I felt.
I had goosebumps and chucked to myself.
“What an absurd horrible nightmare!
I must’ve eaten some cheese
too close to bedtime.”

But wait… wait a gosh-darn minute!

Why is it pitch black this morning?
Why are silky satin walls surrounding
my face on all sides?

*

Copyright – Brian Hodgkinson Jr., 2007

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2021 in Poetry, Short Story

 

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Hobo

*

He came into my life
with his fuzzy mustache clown smile,
sorry and happy at once.
He was running, just running
down that road by himself,
singular –he seemed
bent on self-destruction

then he flashed his look at me,
as I was driving home in my new car
at first, I didn’t know what he was
it was raining, mucky, with poor visibility
he was matted thick with mud
But I saw those eyes,
and I knew,
Yes, I just knew,
I had to see.

I stopped and called him.
He came right up to me, smiling
languid dark eyes with tear boogers,
the gray old vagabond
had me with one look.
I cringed. I knew my partner
wouldn’t be happy. I said to myself
“What the flip.
He’s coming home.”
oh well, for the new car upholstery

Shaking all over,
eyes smiling to appreciate mine,
I examined him closely;
wanted to laugh out loud
and cry all at once;
He was so utterly forlorn,
he was an honest grifter,
deep, intelligent eyes
made me a sucker for
the drama they held.

I invited him to come to my place.
Gladly he accepted, for he wasn’t shy
He reeked of garbage cans
and poor toilet habits
I got the
“Oh my god, what’ve you done?”
but worth it
I knew that was coming

In my living-room light,
I could see the wounds
deep gashes split one leg
the poor old boy was covered
with stinking sores.

charcoal-gray, long-limbed,
with matted filthy whiskers,
I decided to shower him,
(with squawking background yada-yada)
he complied willingly
–took three days
to get the stains out of the tub.
(yep, lots more blah-blah-blah)
–worth it

But after his bath,
I cleaned his wounds
named him just what he was: Hobo
the old dog and I danced together
many-a-day for he could stand, dance,
and smile like no dog
I ever met, or ever would–
with his laughing wide grins.

*

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2021 in Poetry, Short Story