Archive for July, 2011



by mdjb

“Glad to catch you,” she wrote, “Saw you were on-line, but was finishing up some business. Noticed my battery was dying and thought I’d let you know I’m almost home.”
“Did you change your nickname?” She wasn’t using one she’d used before.
“Just for this trip. A joke my boss told me. You look tired.”
“I’ve been writing all morning.”
She was rubbing her earlobe as if it hurt. Then he saw she was displaying a new pair of earrings.
“Those are nice,” he wrote.
“You like? Was thinking of you when I bought them.”
“What time are you arriving? I’ll pick you up at the airport.”
“Should be there in about hour and a half.”
He just had time to type: See you then…, before her face disappeared and he was advised “You may not get a response to your message. appears to be offline.”
He closed her window.
Then he closed the other window without saying goodbye, zipped up his pants and went to have a cigarette before taking a shower.


Late Again

by mdjb

“Damn you, Mort,” my father often said, “You’re late again. I believe you’re gonna be late for your own funeral.” And so it was. Flying into JFK, it was ten to eight, and I knew yet again I wasn’t going to be on time. Fortunately, fifteen minutes after hitting the ground, I was already in the back of a limo heading into the city, and kept trying to cross my fingers but could not manage to do so. I hoped I would not be horrendously at fault in keeping everyone waiting.
All through the ride, I kept justifying, convincing myself that there had been several last minute details and anyone in my situation would be grateful for the opportunity to have them taken care of.
When I got to the place, in a totally unfamiliar neighborhood by the way, everyone was milling around looking pie-eyed as if needing to blame their discomfort on someone, anyone, and I really did not want that someone to be me. Not this time. I purposely brushed against the little table with the book on it, causing the book to fall, pages riffling, to the parqueted floor, and while everyone was distracted by that unexpected occurrence, I drifted to the front of the room and slipped into the rosewood box, took one last whiff of the abundance of fragrant floral arrangements, though no longer able to smell anything, and closed my eyes, expecting to hear the first sobs emanating from my cousin Zoe, who did not disappoint. “Oh, God,” she murmured, “I can’t believe we were talking on the phone just two weeks ago.” I was more than gratified when her mother, my Aunt Mae, proclaimed how wonderful the mortician had made me look, “As if he were just lying there sleeping.”—my peaceful repose only slightly marred by the sight of my dearly departed father hovering above me, shaking his head.