Archive for April, 2011



by mdjb

“Something is definitely wrong here,” János said. He was sitting on the edge of the loveseat. Margit returning with a filled tray from the kitchen wanted to know what was bothering him.
“It is this photo,” he said. “It is different from the others I snapped a few days ago.”
After putting the tray on the table in front of him, Margit took the photograph from him and examined it. “How did you shoot this?” she asked. “Were you standing on the path directly in front of the cyclists? How did you manage to avoid being run down?”
“That’s just it, you see. I was taking a picture of the empty street. Those children weren’t riding there on Wednesday.”
His wife looked intently for a moment, at the photo, and then at János. “You must have confused yourself, dear,” she said. “You’ve captured a moment out of time, and from a very difficult angle it seems. You know you become forgetful when you’re getting the flu. That must be it. You were not careful in covering yourself when you slept, and another cold night let it happen again.”
“I’m not getting sick, and I’m not senile,” he stated flatly. “I tell you those children weren’t there when I took the rest of these pictures. Look, however, at the youth in the center. Does he not look familiar to you?”
“He does resemble you a bit when you were younger. I recall you used to cycle to and from the school where we met. For that matter, the young man on the right looks a bit like my old friend György who introduced us to each other.  It’s a coincidence that has upset you.”
“I remember the little blond girl, too. She was the daughter of our neighbor Lázsló, the pharmacist. She died of consumption before her thirteenth birthday.”
“Then this is an old photograph taken by someone else, and it is you on the bicycle.”
“It is not,” János said, “It came back with the others. I have the negatives here. You may look at them in sequence. Hold them up to the light. You will see several pictures of the street, but you won’t find those children in the rest of the set. I haven’t pulled the old albums out of the closet yet, but I feel compelled to uncover an answer to this mystery.”
“My love, you haven’t had your breakfast. Why don’t you eat something before you go trudging off to look at old photographs?” Margit was looking at the negatives and did not see young people in any of them. She heard the sound of the postman outside on the walk. Birdsong filled the air. She could barely detect the scent of almonds in the room and wondered if János were aware of these. She had been hoping on what would have been an otherwise perfect morning her resolution could have been carried out more smoothly. She had been hoping her husband of too many years would have drunk his morning coffee as he did every day, not noticing today’s had been specially prepared to ease him on his way. Now, this photo business was intervening. Yet, it might be serendipitous. This was what she would remember about the day. János smiling, carefree on a bicycle, going home. She sighed, and turned from the sunny window intending to urge him further, and just like that he was gone.


Something in the Way He Smiled

by mdjb

Imagine yourself sharing a rather large house with two very close friends. You’re walking up the path, smiling, until you arrive at the black door, and you remember these two were not even acquaintances until you answered the ad for a summer share in the Free News. The tall one seriously offered to give you head in exchange for your cooperation with the food bill, and the other is still inside the closet. You had been saving to go to Germany or Austria, but your fear of flying prevented you from investing in a real vacation. It’s only June thirtieth, and you think you’ve already shared enough time with two wankers who want to play strip poker every other night and cannot get their fill of sunbathing on the nude beach.
Imagine sharing this rather large house with two total strangers, whose names you will always remember without ever entering them in your little black book, and how guilty you will feel signing out of Facebook whenever you see one of those names pop up in the chat box, although you just cannot bring yourself to unfriending either of them.
Imagine how you will respond when you get that call in November and Derek tells you he’s going to be in your neck of the woods, and would like to pop in for coffee and to talk about the good times. You will recall his smile so like a piano keyboard with all those perfectly capped big teeth. Derek and Bob. Bob and Derek. You know you’re on a mission, and the flying thing was only incidental.
You wonder what’s for dinner, and are reminded that you haven’t eaten this well in years as you imagine yourself sitting alone in your small apartment in Pittsburg.
Now, if you could only figure out a way to dissuade them from playing cards for the evening, so you could avoid that self-conscious feeling you always get upon losing, perhaps you could enjoy watching one beautiful sunset while gazing out on the western shore instead of staring at the modern art piece whose eyes follow you around the deck.