SOCRATES DIED TODAY

Socrates, you died today 

I love you and you are still my cat

Mom says you wurrrrr my cat but God wants you now, Mom says just like God wanted my Dad

God does just what he wants

When I do just what I want I get in trouble

You are not wurrrrr, Socrates

Mom says we are all going to die

I say God should make us all die right now and get all the sadness over with and Mom said someday he might just do that

God does just what he wants

I don’t have to like him

Socrates, you are big and friendly

You like me

You came to live in our backyard

Mom says our backyard is a jungle

Mom works and she says she can’t keep up the yard and she can’t afford help

Socrates, you like our backyard, don’t you

I know when you smile at me

Mom says you have a big head like a football, Socrates

You like me and smile and listen to me, don’t you Socrates

We are taking you with us when we move, Socrates

Mom says her new job cant pay for our house and the jungle yard

We are moving to a trailer for a thousand dollars every month

It has a dirt road and Mom won’t have to mow the jungle

You will like it there too, Socrates

I found you one day just lying in the clover and the yellow flowers and you didn’t get up and rub on me

You just purred but you closed your eyes

Mom said something was wrong

Maybe you had a belly ache

We took you into our house

You wouldn’t eat the cream

I told Mom she had to feed you and you tried to drink from a spoon but you didn’t drink very much

On the third day Mom said you must be really sick

I told Mom you had to go to the doctor

Mom looked in her bank book

I said that I wouldn’t ask her for anymore special things so you could go to the doctor

Mom told the doctor about our new house and the doctor said he could give you youth and eyes

Mom told the doctor how you are my best friend, Socrates, and that i was special and the doctor asked for the money and Mom said I hope you know how special you are, Socrates, and I know you did because you purred

You were in the hospital for three days, Socrates

I visited you and the nurse lady brought you out and said you had a operation and you had the ivy

You were under a red blanket but you couldn’t get up and you didn’t open your eyes but you purred when I told you what was happening in your jungle but today you died, Socrates

I am taking you to our new house, Socrates, and I told the doctor and I told Mom

Mom said we can’t move to our new house now but God will open their hearts

I don’t care, Socrates

You can be in your favorite jungle with the clover and the yellow flowers

I will feed you cream with a spoon and Mom said she will fix you a place to stay with God

 

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CITIES OF REFUGE

 butterfly1362938136

Previously:

1)       ADOLPH MEISTERMANN (Carl Reiner Writers’ Contest Entry)

2)       THE END OF THE HOUR (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

3)       THE BAD BOY BLUES (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

4)       LAUGH THROUGH TEARS AGAINST HIS WILL (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

5)       GOD COUNTS HER TEARS (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

Chapter O

CITIES OF REFUGE

        Adolph’s visage dissolved for weeks afterward in molten tears and when the magma of anguish finally hardened it had become a terrifyingly indifferent death mask.  This mask now blockaded Adolph’s feelings except toward those who had been with him when his Shifra, the purpose of his life, and their baby together, the meaning of their love, had all died together.

        From behind this mask Adolph now witnessed the God-given world as if it were a swarm of insects.  He detached himself like a child pulling wings off of an innocent fly.

        Young Mathew could not comprehend his mother gone forever from his sight and touch.  He created nightmares out of things that people whispered concerning a mysterious act that Adolph had performed against his mother’s wishes.  Mathew had always feared Adolph the way he had always feared that dog behind the neighbor’s fence.  Mathew had not felt, had not understood, the notion “my father” when Adolph had been this man in Mathew’s home who had power over his mother and himself, and now he was alone with him, without his mother.

        Adolph could not look at Mathew without seeing the fist of Herman striking another blow.  Adolph could not look at himself for hating a child.

        Sarah and Brahm witnessed this transformation of Adolph and so they decided to rescue young Mathew and raise him themselves despite their age.  Adolph did not protest nor did he come to visit Mathew except when he was also visiting his parents.  Adolph continued to live in the home that he had shared with Shifra but now that home was a shattered temple.  When the mask would fall sometimes at night Adolph wailed alone between the hard cold walls surrounding him.

        Finally, Adolph returned to the family business with a vengeance.  He shouldered responsibility and command and ruthless business sense like it was a suit of armor.  Adolph soon persuaded his father and mother into semi-retirement.  He made his brother Reuben into the Executive Assistant, essentially Adolph’s Chief of Staff and Adolph’s de facto bodyguard.  He made his sister Judith into the company’s General Counsel and Spokesperson.  Adolph had big plans which he powered with the pyre of his dead heart.

        Adolph had made the decision with his parents’ consultation and blessing to convert Sarah’s Shop into a franchise so that capital would not be a limiting factor to the family.  Most power still resided with Adolph’s family, including the selection of suppliers, advertising, and most pricing.  The businesses multiplied during this time and the Sarah’s Shop franchise was shepherded into state after state after state.  Adolph privately called them his “tribes”.

        To cultivate more cash flow Adolph quietly contracted with a suspected Asian mobster to take advantage of garment sweat shops in different states.  Adolph soon was accruing profits like a hen farmer gathers eggs in a factory farm.

        It was Adolph’s appraisal that Modern Man was moved only by fear of death, hence money and religion; that Modern Man no longer feared God, hence mendacity and self absorption.  Adolph thought to himself, “Who the hell had I been to have disagreed?”

        Adolph went to his parents’ house one evening and found Mathew wearing one of Sarah’s dresses and dancing and clapping and his mother and father dancing and laughing.

        Adolph blinked, “What the hell is this, Mother?”

        Sarah said, unconcerned, “Mattie-boy likes to wear my dresses and be silly.”

        Brahm laughed along, “This boy is going to be a real clown someday!”

        Mathew, caught up in the gaiety, flounced around the living room and said to Adolph brightly, “Look, Daddy,” and that happy phrase went straight into Adolph’s heart where it lived for no more than a moment.

        Then a suspicion sprang around Adolph’s heart and strangled the happiness, and he said, “Mother, why the hell are you putting him in a dress?”

        Sarah was defiantly cheerful and said, “Mattie-boy picked it out himself.  He likes wearing my clothes.  For goddsake, Adolph, he’s just a little boy, what are you so worried about?”

        Adolph was like a circus lion swatting at his trainer and he growled, “What am I worried about?  Do I really have to tell you?  Father!  Say something!”

        Brahm was much softened in his old age and he said, “Mattie-boy is a good boy,” and then he winked at Mathew and asked him coyly, “Am I right, Mattie-boy?” and Mathew giggled and curtsied and replied, “I’m a good girl,” then he looked to Adolph, expecting him to be silly with him like Sarah and Brahm but instead Adolph glared fearfully back at him and Mathew stopped.

        Mathew began to cry and he ran to Sarah who clutched him and looked hard at Adolph and scolded, “What is the matter with you?” but she stopped, seeing the disability that Adolph now suffered.  Sarah pulled Mathews face into her neck where he sobbed hotly and then Sarah herself swallowed tears.

        The God-given world grew ever more a liberal and chaotic nemesis.  Adolph became ever more a dark citadel against that world.  The Meistermann family wealth served ever more to tithe religious endeavors and politicians.  When upheaval and riot threatened, the National Guard protected the Sarah’s Shop franchise.

        Shelly Kisherman no longer held power over Adolph after Shifra died.  Shelly now would read the articles about Adolph’s growing empire and she would hear the rumors and she would wonder if Adolph might actually have her murdered but then she realized that then he would never be able to claim his son Isaac.

        Adolph started to see Shelly whenever he wished to see her and thus he saw Isaac whenever he wished to see him.  For years he played a comfortable charade of being a male acquaintance of Shelly, leaving to Isaac any shade of innuendo that he might invent as he grew older.  Adolph could not bear to marry Shelly and so he bided his time while he wrestled with his feelings about Isaac.

        Isaac did suspect the truth when Adolph, this “male acquaintance of his mother”, encouraged him to become a doctor and offered to pay his tuition.  Adolph established a college fund for Isaac and called it a charity.

        In contrast, when Mathew was legally a young adult he moved out of old Sarah and Brahm’s house.  He moved in with his boyfriend Drew who was a producer at the advertising firm that won the Sarah’s Shop account.  Drew opened the world of fashion for Mathew.  Mathew changed his surname from Meistermann to Masters in order to free himself professionally and mentally while keeping his eye on the treasure that was legally to be his someday since he was Adolph’s sole male heir, or so he thought.

        Drew stood behind Mathew in the kitchen and hugged him, saying, “Thank you, Matt.  Without this Sarah’s Shop account I’d be out turning tricks.”

        Matt steeped his cup of tea and said, “What ‘thank you’?  I didn’t select your agency.  My father did.”

        Drew laughed and said, “I am thanking you as you are my very own representative of the Meistermann family.”

        Matt soured and pointed out, “My father can drop your agency at the shake of a feather in his rich man’s hat.  That’s what he does.  He could do that to me.”

        Drew asked, “What do you mean ‘to you’?”

        Matt asked in return, “How much do you love me, Drew?”

        Drew said, “Uh-oh.  Uh, as much as I ever did?”

        Matt became darkly serious and said, “Adolph will always be our greatest fear.  If he found out about us I would be disowned and he would make sure that you couldn’t turn a trick in a men’s prison.”

        Drew was philosophical and said, “Matt, all of us are used to hiding.”

        Matt then said, “No one should have to hide!  But Adolph is worse than you can imagine, Drew.  He would probably have some private eye following me right now if he cared about me at all.  It’s only because he doesn’t want to think about me that we are safe.”

        Drew continued to be thoughtful and then started to say, “But, Matt, despite, I mean, even if he doesn’t understand…”

        Matt interrupted, saying bitterly, “What Adolph wants is what Adolph understands.”

        Drew proceeded, “He is still your father and that is deep, dear.  I know, I remember my own fa…”

        Matt interrupted again, “Would your own father hate you?  Adolph hates me!”

        Drew protested, “Oh, Matt…”

        Matt raised a fist, “He hates me and he has always hated me and I don’t know why!  My mother protected me until she died.  Then,” and Matt choked, “I was just fucky lucky enough that Adolph was too miserable to do anything but not care at all about me anymore!  Thank God for my grandparents,” and Matt sobbed and Drew reached out and put his arms around Matt and said, “Well, he cared about your mother.  Isn’t’ that…,”

        Matt suddenly pushed Drew’s arms away and shouted, “He killed my mother!  She wasn’t supposed to have any more children!  The selfish monster didn’t care.  All that matters is what Adolph wants!  And sooner or later he will want to destroy us!”

        Drew became fearful of this possibility which had always been bas relief in the back of his mind but which now Matt was carving into a grotesque.

        Drew shrugged helplessly and asked rhetorically, “What can we do, Matt?”

        Matt then began in earnest to ask, “Drew, you know it is contrary to my nature to even contemplate a violent act?”

        Drew answered quickly, “Of course.”

        Matt asked, “And do you remember the documentary we watched last week about the success of bargain-priced, first-rate cosmetic surgery?”

        Drew nodded hesitantly, “In India, right?  You’re not really thinking about…”

        Matt said, “Listen to me.  You know how we both agreed that I would look like a movie star if I had more of an aquiline profile and a jutting jaw?”

        Drew smiled, “Yeah, I said I could call you ‘Dash Riprock’,” but Drew was confused and he asked, “What has that got to do with…”

        Again Matt said, “Listen, listen, listen to me, Drew.  Remember that life mask you had made of me?  Listen to me carefully, Drew, I love you:  now what if I as ‘Matt Masters’, the mask, could kill my father and then escape as, well, ‘Dash Riprock’, the alter ego under that mask?”

        Drew asked aghast, “What the fuck?  You’re joking, right?”

        Matt stared intently into Drew’s eyes.

        Drew said, “Good God, you lunatic, you would need a whole new identity, a new passport, a new social security number and a new driver’s license…”

        Matt snorted, “Yeah, like that can’t be done.”

        Drew continued, “…and how the fuck could you keep your inheritance?

        Matt replied weakly, “Who cares?  We could live together on your salary.”

        Drew said, “No fucking way!  You are insane.  Besides, the first thing the police would do is question me!””

        Matt began to cry and Drew in sympathy offered, “Look, the only way that insane idea would work is if you as ‘Dash Riprock’ killed your father and then you wore that life-mask the rest of your life.

        Matt buried his head into Drew’s shoulder and blubbered, “Oh, it can’t work.  I am stupid, stupid, stupid.  I really am insane!”

        Matt tried to joke, “You are not stupid, dear.  However, yes, you have always been insane but I promise to be your therapist forever.”

        Matt sniffed and said, “Yeah, besides, when the police questioned you the first thing they’d do is shove a baton up your ass and you’d crack.”

        They both laughed and hugged.

Chapter P

        Adolph still kept Shifra’s clothes in the bedroom closet of the house they once shared.  He had not throw out anything of hers, ever.

        One night at three in the morning Adolph awakened into his boyhood conscience, conjured during the silent witching hour between then and now; from a deeply repressed stratum of his emotions he was resurrected as a love zombie; from an underground river arose that sensitive, romantic apparition of an innocent boy gasping with insecurity and anguish and crying for breath.  Adolph sat upright in the darkness gasping.  He was sweating.  Terror held his throat.  He was afraid he was dying!

        No.  It was something else.  Something else was looming in his soul.

        He was afraid of God.

        Adolph threw back his jumbled covers and got out of bed in the dark.  He held his chest with his right hand and stumbled down the hallway leaning on the wall of with his left hand.  He arrived at the hall closet, switched on the hall light, and he pulled open the closet door.  He fell to his knees and reached into darkness for the worn leather suitcase in the back of the closet in the jumble on the floor.  He felt the suitcase and he dragged it out onto the hallway floor.  He bowed over the suitcase and opened it.  His right hand fell upon the transparent plastic sheet protecting the sheet music for the flute and piano duet that he had written for Shifra and himself to play at Miss Brundage’s pupils’ recital a lifetime ago.

        Adolph was breathing faster.  He lifted the sheet music out of the protective plastic sheet, caressing it with his fingertips, and he stared intently at the musical notation, the written passages undulating together, rising apart and falling together in arabesque.  He closed his eyes and touched the sheet music to his lips and then suddenly it was if his ears raised the sound of the music.  Tears filled his eyes as he opened them.  A tear fell and tapped the sheet of music.  He closed his eyes again.  Now he could hear the music more distinctly.  It was really so very inspired after all!  Adolph had forgotten it for years and now he was hearing it almost as if it had been written by someone else and played in his honor.

        He opened his eyes and this time he saw his fingers fluttering upon the keys of the piano, conjuring the music.  He heard the flute and he raised his eyes.  There was Shifra!  She was so young.  She pursed her lips upon the flute so sweetly.  She winked at him and she smiled trying not to err in the performance.  Adolph looked over and there was Miss Brundage!  She was sitting so proudly in the first row of folding chairs nodding in cadence with the music.  There was young Joshua!  He nodded and gave Adolph a thumbs-up sign.  There was Officer Cohen smiling with radiant pride at his daughter Shifra!  There was Herman!  Adolph felt a yearning kinship of the love they shared with Shifra.  There were his parents!  Sarah had her hands clasped to her mouth, eyes glistening.  Brahm gave Adolph a nod.  There was his brother Reuben and his sister Judith!  They made melodramatic faces humorously at him and he almost laughed as they had intended but he knew they were enjoying the performance.  There was Billy and Zelmo!  Billy had his eyes closed and he was tapping his knee with the palm of his hand.  Zelmo was softly snapping his fingers at Adolph and then he put those fingers to his lips and mimed smoking a reefer in comic appreciation of the performance.  There was Shelly and Isaac!  Shelly touched her ear and mouthed the words “you are talking to me now.”  Isaac put his hand over his heart and gently nodded his head.  There was Mathew and Drew!  They were holding hands excitedly for Adolph.  Adolph was so glad to see them both.  He smiled to them in approval.  He smiled to them all in thanks.

        The tears once more blinded Adolph’s eyes but his fingers could see and they kept on speaking and his ears could drink the endless joy.  Adolph was now the happiest he could recall.

        Everyone agreed that the truly beautiful moment at Adolph Meistermann’s memorial service was the performance by the pianist and flautist of that inspired boyhood composition of Adolph’s, the duet that he had entitled A Prayer for Lips and Fingers.

THE END

This is a section of my entry for Carl Reiner’s Writers’ Contest; to read Carl Reiner’s Chapter 1 go to:   [http://carl-reiner.com/contest/?utm_campaign=]

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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS

 

 

GOD COUNTS HER TEARS

    counts her tears

Previously:

1)       ADOLPH MEISTERMANN (Carl Reiner Writers’ Contest Entry)

2)       THE END OF THE HOUR (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

3)       THE BAD BOY BLUES (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

4)       LAUGH THROUGH TEARS AGAINST HIS WILL (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

Chapter K

GOD COUNTS HER TEARS

        Shelly Kisherman looked up at Adolph and said to him with invincible assurance, “I am pregnant.”

        Only a moment before, Adolph had found Shelly sitting underneath the apple tree in the campus Old Quad reading a book.  Adolph then had approached her on a direct course, like a torpedo, armed for his self-righteous explosion that would rip apart the tissue of their relationship the way Shelly had ripped apart his letters from Shifra.

        Adolph had ignited, hissing down upon her, “Shelly, you fucking bitch…,” but Shelly had raised her face and Adolph had thought to himself, “like a fucking Buddha,” and Shelly had then chanted to him, “I am pregnant.”

        Shelly calmly meditated upon Adolph’s reaction as he halted and his mind vibrated like a brass gong.

        Adolph sensed that Shelly was not lying but he fought back, saying, “How do I know…?”

        Shelly interrupted, “Yes, it is your child, ‘Dolph.”

        Adolph faltered, “But how…?”

        Shelly taunted him a little, saying, “You know that pony you like to ride?  I wasn’t letting anyone else ride that pony but you, ‘Dolph.”

        Adolph babbled, “But how…?”

        Shelly smiled sweetly and stung him, asking, “Do you have time for a blood test today, ‘Dolph?”

        Adolph said, “I’m, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry but can’t be serious, Shelly.  You are going to end this, right?”

        Shelly replied, “I will never do that.  You ask me to murder?  Your!  Child!  That would be like suicide for both of us, you and me, together, don’t you see?  How does your God feel about suicide?  You are going to do the right thing, ‘Dolph.”

        Adolph felt faint and he turned to walk away and said, “We, we can talk about this.  I will talk to you later.”

        Shelly smiled and said, “So now you want to talk to me, don’t you, ‘Dolph?”

        Adolph wandered the campus and shuffled away into the surrounding neighborhood and found himself in front of the house where he was renting his bedroom.  That bedroom.  That gallows.

        As Adolph walked up the sidewalk and climbed the porch steps just like it was a gallows and then he heard Zelmo singing.  Zelmo was on the living room couch watching Sheriff John’s Lunch Brigade on television.  He sat in a cloud of reefer madness, snickering and singing along to the “Birthday Cake Polka”.

We’ll have some pie and sandwiches

and chocolate ice cream too

We’ll sing and play the day away

and one more thing I’m going to do

I’ll blow out the candles on my birthday cake

and when I do, a wish I’ll make

Put another candle on my birthday cake

I’m another year old today

        He called to Adolph who stood in the doorway, “Hey, man!  Sheriff John read my name and said ‘Happy Birthday, Zelmo’.”

        Adolph asked in a detached manner as he entered, “It’s your birthday?”

        Zelmo hooted, “Of course not!”

        Adolph sat down slowly on the couch next to Zelmo, who held up his reefer as always out of courtesy, but this time, for the first time, Adolph took it from him and put it in his lips and Zelmo said to him facetiously, “Hey, I’m Zelmo.  Who are you, man?”

        Adolph sucked on the reefer and he coughed and choked.

        Zelmo quickly took the reefer out of Adolph’s fingers and said, “Don’t drop that baby, man.”

        Adolph turned his head to Zelmo and asked, “What? What did you say?”

        Zelmo’s fiery red eyes searched Adolph’s face.  Zelmo said, “’Dolph, you are acting like a Pod, man.  Who snatched you, daddy-o?”

        Adolph repeated, “Daddy-o.  That’s funny.”

        Zelmo said, “’Dolph, you’re on something stronger than reefer, man.  What is it?”

        Adolph stood up slowly and answered, “Life, daddy-o,” and then he shuffled down the tunnel of that hallway to his bedroom, thinking that he must get control of this runaway train.  He needed to think clearly.  He couldn’t think clearly.  There were voices wailing in his mind.  He had to talk to someone.

        Adolph whispered his prayer, “Shifra.”

        He knew that it would be an act of desperation but he stood next to his dresser and pushed aside his spare change and the deodorant and the new light bulb for his dresser lamp and the slice of pizza and he centered his yellow notepad and took his pencil and he began to write a letter to Shifra.  He had to see his thoughts chiseled onto paper, he had to pretend that Shifra would read the letter, and he hoped that he could miraculously conjure up in his mind just what Shifra, herself might reply.

        Adolph wrote for half an hour.  When he was done he felt that the letter could not have life unless he mailed it but he didn’t know where Shifra was.  He had lost contact with her years ago.  But wait, her father Officer Bruce Cohen would know.  He could forward this letter.  Yes.

        He strode out into the living room and startled Zelmo by asking behind his back, “Can I borrow one of your ‘bikes’?”

        Zelmo turned and looked over his shoulder and asked, “Sure, man.  Where are you going?”

        Adolph said only, “I need to go home for something.”

        Zelmo raised his reefer high over his head in offering and he said, “You’re welcome, man.”

        Adolph muttered as he departed for the back yard, “Happy birthday.”

Chapter L

        Officer Bruce Cohen opened his front door and said, “Adolph.  Good Lord.  This is a surprise,” then Adolph thought he heard Officer Cohen say, “You can’t imagine,” and then Officer Cohen shook his head, saying, “What next.  What next.  I haven’t seen you since Shifra’s…” and he halted himself before he said “wedding” because he remembered that Adolph did not attend the wedding and that Brahm and Sarah had told him why.

        Adolph stood on the porch since Officer Cohen did not open the screen door and said, “I am really sorry to bother you, sir.  I need to ask you a great favor, if I could.”

        Officer Cohen thought to himself, “Another great favor?” but he nodded and said, “Well, Adolph, you are certainly able to ask.”

        Adolph bowed his head and withdrew the envelope from his jacket pocket and he said, “I was hoping you could forward this letter to Shifra, please.  It has been years, I know.  But I just wanted to, to…”

        Then Adolph heard that voice behind Officer Cohen, from beyond the matted shadows displayed on the screen door, saying, “It’s alright, Daddy.”

        Officer Cohen bowed away backwards and then there was Shifra standing on the other side of the screen door.

        Shifra said softly and gently, “Hello, ‘Dolph.”

        Adolph could not speak at first and he blinked and his mouth opened and closed like a fish drowning in oxygen and finally he whispered, “Shifra?”

        Shifra pushed the screen door open and Adolph passed by her closely as Shifra said, “How are you, ‘Dolph?”

        Shifra had sad edges around those eyes but they still looked out ahead into the world.  She wore a pink sweater and she was plumper than Adolph remembered.

        Adolph still held that letter in front of himself and he looked at it and then he looked back at Shifra and nervously grinned, “I wrote a letter.”

        Shifra said, “Yes, I heard.  Do you still want me to read it?”

        Adolph put the letter back into his shirt pocket and said, “No, no.  Good God, Shifra,” and then he tensed up and asked, “Is Herman here?”

        Shifra looked down and said, “No.”

        Officer Cohen excused himself and said in parting to Adolph, “Nice seeing you again, son,” and he smiled like the Mona Lisa.

        Adolph asked Shifra, “Are you just visiting?  Are you stationed back in the United States?”

        Shifra clasped her hands in front of her waist and looked down and answered, “No, ‘Dolph, Herman and I are getting a divorce.  He’s still in Germany.  I’m staying with my father until, until…”

        Adolph was genuinely concerned but only for Shifra’s apparent shame and sadness, saying, “Oh, no.  I am sorry, Shifra.  It happens.  I’m sure that…” and Adolph paused as his trains of thought collided.

        Shifra asked Adolph with a wry smile, “You’re sure that what, ‘Dolph?”

        Adolph said quickly and sincerely, “Sure happy to see you and so happy to actually hear you, really, Shifra.  You have no idea.”

        Shifra teased him, “Oh, I might,” and they both laughed at last.

        Adolph and Shifra sat upon the couch and spoke easily and warmly together until Adolph suddenly halted, remembering Shelly Kisherman.

        Shifra noticed the change in his expression and asked him, “What is it, ‘Dolph?” and Adolph felt himself falling away from Shifra and then his eyes grasped at her, “’Dolph?” Shifra asked, and then Adolph leaped from his runaway train and said, “Shifra.  I love you.  You know I love you.  Marry me.”

        Shifra sat back wide-eyed.

        Adolph said again as if she had asked him to repeat himself, “I love you.  Marry me.  I’m not that immature kid anymore!”

        Shifra began to say, “’Dolph, there is something…”

        Adolph steamed ahead, saying, “I’m in college now but I work in the shop and it will soon be mine.  I can give you a great life…”

        Shifra tried again, saying, “’Dolph, you don’t know…”

        Adolph did not slow down, saying, “I know you are the God-given purpose of my life, Shifra, and…”

        Shifra finally touched Adolph’s arm, silencing him, and then she parted her pink sweater and she looked down, drawing Adolph’s eyes to that tiny pot belly and she said, “’Dolph.  I’m pregnant.  With Herman’s child,”

        All of Adolph’s volition went into trying to grasp that abstraction.  He looked away from Shifra and stared out into God’s universe for understanding, for explanation, for justice.

        Shifra sighed, “It is one of the things we fought about.  He wasn’t ready.  He wanted me to…”

        Adolph turned back to Shifra, “I don’t care.  I don’t care.  Be with me.  Marry me.  You can’t raise a baby here, not here at your father’s house.  It isn’t fair to him.  It isn’t fair to anyone.”

        Shifra’s eyes were glistening and she said softly, “Grandma Sasha can…”

        Adolph argued, “You’re going to need money.  If you are going to work you just can’t make your elderly grandmother raise an infant.  Your father certainly can’t be here to take care of a baby.  Does he even know yet?” and Shifra nodded.  Adolph pointed out, “And if you don’t work, you will be a burden to your father, even if he denies it, and I know he denies it, am I right?”

        Shifra covered her mouth and sobbed.

        Adolph spread his arms and said, “This doesn’t have to be sad.  Marry me.  I love you.  I will love both of you,” but even in his rhapsody Adolph was blue thinking about Herman’s presence.  Adolph found himself wanting to say out loud, “So this is the bargain, eh, God?  Well, I take it.  Yes, I take it but I can’t understand you at all, God, why you make me love Shifra and then you work so hard to put so many things between us.”

Chapter M

        Brahm and Sarah wanted to provide a lavish wedding for their son and Shifra but Adolph explained with a disappointment of his own that Shifra could not face the neighborhood with another big wedding under the circumstances: her divorce barely hours final.  Only Officer Cohen knew of Shifra’s secret besides Adolph.

        Adolph explained, “Shifra wants a small Jewish wedding.”

        Brahm looked at Sarah and asked seriously, “Is there such a thing as a small Jewish wedding?”

        Sarah answered Brahm by saying, “We can have the ceremony in our back yard.”

        And so on the wedding day there was erected in the back yard of Brahm and Sarah Meistermann the wedding canopy, called the chuppah, which had a sheet of fine prayer cloth supported on four corners by poles, symbolizing the presence of God over the covenant of marriage.  The honor of holding the four poles was granted to Adolph’s friends Billy and Zelmo, and to his brother Reuben and to his sister Judith.

        By tradition Adolph covered Shifra’s face with a badeken (veil) witnessed by all the guests.  Adolph then entered the chuppah first, to symbolize his ownership of their “home”.  Then Shifra entered the chuppah, symbolizing the shelter provided by Adolph and symbolizing his new responsibilities.

        Rabbi Reiner, presiding, raised a wine glass while Adolph and Shifra recited the Sheva Berakhot, the seven blessings.  During the celebration that followed the ceremony a wine glass was raised for grace, then another wine glass was raised during the second recital of the seven blessings, then the wine from both of those wine glasses was combined into yet a third wine glass that was shared by Adolph and Shifra.  Then this third glass was wrapped in cloth and broken under the feet of Adolph and Shifra while the guests cheered, “Mazel tov (congratulations)!” but Sarah saw Rabbi Reiner silently scowl and Sarah knew as well as Rabbi Reiner did that the breaking of the glass was meant to be a sober expression of sorrow over the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

        Billy brought out his trumpet and jammed along in a strangely appealing jazz fusion with the clarinet, violin, accordion, mandolin, and upright bass of the tradition klezmer music wedding band.

        Zelmo read a poem of his that he had written for Adolph and Shifra.  Despite Adolph’s trepidation the poem was not beatnik poetry.

‘Dolph and Shifra

 

Who is great?  Who is like God?

 

Binding together vapor and ashes

 

Through unfathomed bold embraces,

 

Holding them dear and gathering faces,

 

Gesturing hearts and sealing affection?

 

 

Shifra, listen

 

His promises will be heard.

 

Proclaim futures without fail, here and now!

 

Resplendent beauty, sight-unseen,

 

Avows boastful spirits when they convene

 

Inside a chuppah.  Perish your doubts within.

 

‘Dolph, now confide your faith in each other,

 

Sharing a secret long ago spoken:

 

Only death remains unbroken,

 

Put yourselves back together with loved ones.

 

They are great.  They are like God,

 

‘Dolph and Shifra.

        Then Adolph, Billy, and Zelmo sneaked into the back alleyway to consume a cigarette carefully loaded with reefer.  It made Adolph dizzy and he said, “Man, I feel wavy.”

        Adolph thought that he was hallucinating when he saw Shelly Kisherman coming down the alleyway.

        Billy and Zelmo called out a jovial hello to her.  They did not notice Adolph blanch like a corpse.

        Shelly smiled frightfully and called back, “Adolph!  I didn’t get my invitation to the wedding.”

        Billy and Zelmo giggled, unaware of the gravity distorting Adolph’s world, and Billy said, “We’ll leave you two alone,” and Zelmo said, “Don’t worry, we’ll just tell Shifra that you’re shitting in the alleyway.”

        Shelly sauntered up to Adolph who tried to look defiant while she said, “You motherfucking bastard.  Tell me again why I won’t crash your little wedding and tell Shifra about our wedding gift for her?”

        Adolph said, “Shelly, I beg you, that isn’t going to help anyone.  Don’t do this.  You, you don’t know what I would do.  I swear to God, I don’t know what I would do.  Shelly, I was thinking about how I could, could take care of you, if you just don’t do this.  You know my family has money.  I’m going to be running the business soon.  I could take care of you even if you chose to…”

        Shelly narrowed her eyes and sneered, “What?  Murder our child for you?  ‘Dolphy dear, I don’t think so.  You are going to have two wives, ‘Dolphy dear.  Just like in the Bible.  You are going to share all your ‘joy’ with both of us.”

        Adolph pleaded, “Shelly, you don’t…”

        Shelly finished, “Or you won’t have any fucking ‘joy’ to share with anyone, do you understand me, you lying, motherfucking, bastard asshole?” and then she turned and sauntered back away like a sated lioness.

Chapter N

        Adolph and Shifra moved into his parents’ house at Sarah’s insistence.  Sarah had said, “Your new wife needs a woman’s help.”  Sarah had known all along that Shifra was pregnant.

        Adolph left college despite his parents’ misgivings and their offer to support them both.  Adolph began to work long full-time hours with his father.  Adolph was now the firm’s Chief Accountant announced Brahm, the family having three stores in the Ontario, New York, region.

        Shifra was having a difficult pregnancy.

        Sarah said soothingly, “Dear, it is well that you two agreed to live with me and Brahm for awhile,” and Sarah watched Shifra wince with another bolt of pain.

        Sarah cooked rich soups for Shifra and worried that she was becoming gaunt.  Sarah would say, “Try to eat, dear.  You are not plump enough for this baby.  We can call the fashion magazines after the baby is born.  This baby is very demanding now,” and she tried to smile, “but just you wait.”

        The baby was finally born after a long labor.

        Adolph said to Shifra in the hospital room afterward, “I can’t tell you apart from the bed sheets,” and he tried to smile nonchalantly.

        Shifra held her baby, and Adolph was thinking against his will, “Her baby not mine,” and Shifra smiled beatifically and informed Adolph, “I want to name him ‘Mathew’, ‘Gift of God’,” and when she looked down at the newborn she did not see that Adolph glared at the boy and clenched his teeth when he repeated, “Gift of God”.

        Shelly Kisherman, meanwhile, had told Adolph to send his “love” for her straight to her bank account and then to go straight to hell and never come around her, “Unless I conjure you,” Shelly would say vindictively.  Adolph had enough authority to hide his tithing to Shelly under a fictitious consultant’s account.

        Shelly taunted Adolph about that, saying, “So now I work with you at the family shop, don’t I?”

        Shelly soon enough told him to appear at the hospital where their child was to be born.

        Adolph was busy now with more and more business, more and more meetings, and more and more travel, so it was not very difficult to get away and to go to Shelly at her bidding.

        In the Fathers’ Waiting Room a stranger shook Adolph’s hand and said, “Mazel tov (congratulations)!”  The stranger thought that Adolph must have been exhausted since he barely smiled.

        In the hospital ward bed Shelly was disheveled but even her anger at Adolph could not extinguish the glow of the new mothers’ flame.  She looked up at Adolph and said to him, “Say hello to your son Isaac.”

        Adolph Meistermann now had two sons.  One bore his surname but was not his.  The other bore his blood but was not his.

        Adolph became glum and introspective.  His mother and his wife were worried that he was working too hard.  His father listened to Sarah and to Shifra when Adolph seemed to them distant and superficial in his listening.  Brahm thought of his own father and he nodded to himself that he understood the burdens that all men apparently must bear in this God-given life and the women then thought that Brahm nodded in agreement with them.

        Sarah presumed that Adolph and Shifra must now need their own house, a sense of their own destiny, and so she easily persuaded Brahm to buy for them a house in the neighborhood.

        One day, a few years later, Adolph came to Shifra as she was reading to young Mathew, “Matty-boy”, the slender book entitled The Little Prince, and Adolph said, “Shifra, I love you so much.  It is time for a child of our own.”

        Shifra was afraid because Mathew had been such a difficult labor for her and then her doctor had hinted obliquely, “Shifra, perhaps you can persuade your husband to be happy with one special child to spoil,” not knowing the truth about Mathew’s real father, Herman.  Shifra saw in Mathew the ripples of Herman.  She was certain that Adolph also must have noticed those things silently and stoically.

        Shifra then felt very guilty thinking that she could see how Adolph had been bent with his brave responsibilities; responsibilities that he had asked for but responsibilities for which he did not have to ask, yet ask he did out of an exquisite and sincere love for her; responsibilities that she did not have to grant so selfishly, but no, not selfishly, for she only worried for her unborn child; responsibilities that Shifra admitted to herself at last appeared to be beyond Adolph’s God-given constitution and, after all, she herself had prayed sincerely to God for a way to be of comfort to Adolph.

        Shifra gave herself and she became pregnant.

        At first, the pregnancy was a blessing like a warm fire around which she and Adolph sat closely night after night, a God-given contentment as promised at last.  But then Shifra began to lose color and weight as she had before.  Her doctor was concerned and Adolph became alarmed and sleepless.  Finally Adolph demanded that Shifra be admitted to the hospital no matter what the cost until the child was safely born.

        Shifra became suddenly very ill late one night though ensconced in a modern hospital, in mockery of Modern Man’s medical wisdom.  Her blood was inflamed and a massive cascade of infection and toxin rendered the hospital citadel breeched and helpless and Shifra retreated into the last stand of a coma.

        In the nurses’ station of the Intensive Care Unit, Adolph and his mother Sarah and his father Brahm and his brother Reuben and his sister Judith and Shifra’s father Officer Cohen and Shifra’s doctor stood in a circle with their arms together, praying earnestly, bleeding tears.

        The attending nurse watched the family behind the glass of the nurses’ station and then turned to Shifra.  Suddenly, the mechanical medical devices clutching at Shifra all alarmed in a macabre chorus.

        The baby died and then Shifra died.

        Adolph fell to the floor beside Shifra’s death bed and clawed toward Hell, his mouth open gagging and drooling and vomiting his belief in God forever.

To be continued…

This is a section of my entry for Carl Reiner’s Writers’ Contest; to read Carl Reiner’s Chapter 1 go to:   [http://carl-reiner.com/contest/?utm_campaign=]

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LAUGH THROUGH TEARS AGAINST HIS WILL

  against his will

Previously:

1)       ADOLPH MEISTERMANN (Carl Reiner Writers’ Contest Entry)

2)       THE END OF THE HOUR (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

3)       THE BAD BOY BLUES (excerpt from Adolph Meistermann)

Chapter I

LAUGH THROUGH TEARS AGAINST HIS WILL

        Brahm said to Sarah in the kitchen, “I’m arranging to have the piano returned to Miss Brundage.”

        Sarah asked, “So quickly?  Couldn’t we wait a little longer to see if Adolph changes his mind?”

        Brahm replied, “Well, the piano lessons were nice, dear, but Adolph was never going to make a living at it, now was he?  I’m more worried that Adolph doesn’t seem to be much interested in girls the way other boys are.”

        Sarah rebutted, “Oh, Brahm, you can be so blind.  Adolph has a torch for Shifra.  You know, Shifra?  Bruce Cohen’s daughter?  She’s going to be married and my poor Adolph is just moping around.”

        Brahm frowned, “Sarah, you are coddling him.  He is too young to be ‘heartbroken’.  He needs to be out having fun with other youngsters, sewing wild oats.  Hmmph.  Love is only making believe for a young man of his age.”

        Sarah proclaimed, “He has a romantic soul.”

        Brahm amended, “Sarah, what you mean is that Adolph is an idealist.  But, now tell me, where you see any want ads for ‘idealists’ or ‘romantics’”?

        Sarah answered, “Our shop was the work of two idealists, or don’t you remember?”

        Brahm replied, “I remember working hard and wondering how we could build a life.  A now, we have a successful business that runs on sweat and shrewdness, not fantasy, I promise you.  And if it is to be Adolph’s one day, he will need to see clearly what is, not what he would like to see.”

        Sarah persisted, saying, “All young people are idealists.  They stop and smell the roses,” and then she said pointedly, “Only later do they grow old and hard-nosed.”

        Brahm laughed and hugged Sarah and nuzzled her cheek, asking her in surrender, “Are you speaking of anyone that we might know, my little rose?”

        Then there came the knock at the door.  It was Shifra.  She asked, “Is Adolph here?”

        Sarah beamed, “He is upstairs.”

        Shifra added, “I have sad news.”

        Sarah asked quickly, “What sad news?”

        Shifra looked down and said, “I didn’t want to but I was afraid that you hadn’t heard…”

        Brahm asked, “What, dear, what is it?”

        Shifra replied, “It’s Miss Brundage…”

        Sarah asked in dread, “What, Shifra?  What about Miss Brundage?”

        Shifra finally said, “Miss Brundage had a stroke.”

        Sarah gasped and Brahm said, “Oh my dear God.”

        Shifra continued, saying, “Her left side is paralyzed.”

        Sarah put her hands over her mouth.

        Shifra lowered her head and began to weep, “It is so sad.  So unfair.  Miss Brundage can’t play the piano.”

        Brahm said, “That is terrible, terrible!  Oh, my dear God.”

        Shifra looked up and tried on a brave smile which diverted her tears, saying, “But we got together, we pupils of hers agreed, agreed to continue to show up, show up for our lessons, except instead we could help her, help her around her apartment.  Miss Brundage …,” Shifra could not continue.

        Sarah perceived quickly and asked, “How can we help, Shifra?”

        Shifra sniffed and said, “We asked, we asked and most of the parents don’t mind still giving to Miss Brundage the money for our lessons, for awhile, but Miss Brundage says she won’t accept it.”

        Sarah rummaged her faith and rambled, “Well, can Miss Brundage still explain music, talk about her classical record collection…?”

        Shifra interrupted, “She just sits in the dark!  She needs help, Miss Meistermann.  Miss Brundage has no one, no family except a sister somewhere.”

        Brahm affirmed, “We will help.  Don’t you worry, Shifra.”

        Sarah put her hand on Shifra’s shoulder, “Dear, of course we will help.”

        Adolph was coming downstairs and he saw Shifra illuminated in the doorway.  For an instant he fantasized that she had come knocking back into his life.  Then he heard the mournful tone of the conversation and he said stiffly, “Shifra.  What’s up?”

        Shifra sobbed, “Oh, poor Miss Brundage has had a stroke, she is paralyzed on her left side, I thought you should know.”

        Adolph thought to himself in horror, “What do you mean, ‘I should know’?”  Adolph felt the words clawing at his chest.  In his mind he was back in Miss Brundage’s apartment, crying out in agony.  He knew that he had taken his anger and poured it upon poor Miss Brundage like gasoline and that he had lighted the cruel flames with his self-pity.  And now he just knew that Miss Brundage was as good as dead to herself and Adolph was sure that he was to blame, for a reason he suddenly understood.

        Adolph couldn’t breathe and so he turned away and wove through the living room and then wobbled out the back door, barely realizing what he was doing.  He pushed open the gate and started running down the alleyway toward Miss Brundage’s apartment.  On the curb beneath her apartment window Adolph stumbled and he fell down onto his hands and knees and then he raised his face to that dark window and he opened his mouth in anguish, crying out in Hebrew, “Ani mitzta’er (I’m sorry)!  Ana slach li (Please forgive me)!”

        The winged creatures watching from upon the rooftop turned and fled away from him.

Chapter J

        Bullets are ripping leaves and branches and spattering into the mud like hail, throwing mud all over me.  I am just cowering here and shaking with every sound.  I can’t move my legs.  I’m pressing back into this boulder crevice as far as I can.  I can’t feel my left side.  Joshua is in front of me in the mud with his throat slit.  Herman is to my right there on his back.  He has stopped moving.  Herman cried into the mud for Shifra when he was first hit.  Then he cried for his mother and he rolled on his back and tried to gather up his intestines.  My mother is probably at the shop back home right now.  Mother always says that I’m a “sensitive boy”.  She told them that I should not be drafted but they didn’t care if I was “sensitive” and they sneered at me.  My father said that the Army would be good for me.  I hate Herman and now he’s dead.  Joshua is my friend and now he’s dead.  Wait, the shooting has stopped!  What now?  I can’t stop shaking.  Oh, God, please, no, they’ll hear me.  They’ll blow my guts out like they did to Herman!  I hear something.  Someone is coming slowly, creeping around this boulder, to my left.  The enemy is tip-toeing right past me.  The enemy is peering down at Herman.  I raise my rifle with my good right arm.  The enemy whirls around in my direction.  It is Shifra!  She glares at me defiantly.  I can blow her face off.  Why haven’t I?  I know why!  That isn’t a pack on her shoulders; it’s a baby in a bundle.  I hear a muffled cry.  The baby’s face is hidden under a cloth.  Shifra takes the bundle off of her shoulder and approaches me cautiously.  She holds the baby bundle up in front of me.  I say, “Stop it!” and I point the rifle at the baby.  I lift the cloth from the baby’s face with the rifle barrel.  He has my face!

        The child explodes!

        Adolph awoke with a gasp and he sat up in the bed and groaned.  Shelly Kisherman was beside him and she was startled awake and she said, disoriented, “What is it?”

        Adolph breathed fast and blinked his eyes and he was glad to recognize the room.  Shelly pressed her warm naked body against him and the dream faded.  Adolph had not dreamed about Shifra, or Herman, or Joshua, poor Joshua, for years.

        Adolph whispered to Shelly, “I should get going anyway.”

        Shelly frowned, “You never stay.”

        Adolph kissed her nose, asking, “Well, I come back, don’t I?” as he threw the covers off of his side and over Shelly’s head.

        Adolph found his clothes on the floor and pulled them on and then when he looked into the full length mirror on the closet door he saw Shelly pouting.  This was the way Adolph liked it: he had the upper hand in the relationship and he certainly would not die if their relationship dissolved.

        Shelly weakened and asked him, “Are you going to call me later?”

        Adolph shrugged and replied, “If I have something to say.”

        Shelly whined, “You never want to talk to me.”

        Adolph suddenly turned and leaped back onto the bed and Shelly shrieked and Adolph said lasciviously, “We speak in tongues!” and he kissed her and she started to dissolve and then she hardened and she pushed him away, saying, “I’m going to find someone who wants to talk to me.”

        Adolph bounced off of the bed saying, “Well, good luck with that!  Better have a really good breakfast before you leave.”

        Shelly threw a pillow at Adolph, saying bitterly, “You are so mean to me!”

        Adolph went into the hallway.  He was renting a bedroom in a house near campus while attending college at the Fallcreek School of Accounting.  In the living room ahead Adolph heard the two other guys who lived in the house.

        There was Billy Mello, a cook at the college dining hall, who now owned the house, his parents’ old house, and who lived there and rented out two of his bedrooms in order to afford to keep the house.  Billy played amateur jazz trumpet and studied Zen meditation religiously.

        There was the other renter, Zelmo Hurtz.  Zelmo would let everyone know that “Zelmo” is the Hebrew variant of “Solomon”; itself derived from the word “shalom” (peace).  Zelmo was a beatnik poet with a beard who earned his rent money by working on motorcycles.  Zelmo opened and closed his doors of perception on a regular basis and he would invite along anyone who cared to journey “out of state” with him, as he would put it.

        Billy Mello looked up at Adolph and grinned, teasing him, “I could hear you studying hard last night,” and then Billy blew a scale on his muted trumpet.

        Zelmo offered the reefer he was smoking to Billy as he asked Adolph, “Who were you studying last night, man?”

        Adolph sat down next to him and said, “Shelly.”

        Billy teased, “You must give us your recipe for Cream of Adolph.”

        Adolph changed the subject and pointed to the notepad on the coffee table in front of Zelmo and asked, “What are you working on?” and seeing the cup of coffee asked, “Any more java left?”

        Zelmo held up his notepad with burlesque pride and announced oratorically, “I Remember Tomorrow,” and Billy began to play sinuous muted trumpet passages.  Zelmo continued,

I, Zelmo Hurtz, howling in the alley,

 

Licked clean your dirty wishes,

 

Pondering, Kitten, mi Salvadora,

 

If you recalled if you recalled me,

 

Who, crouching by your car,

 

Miles away on the inside, shut out the radio of the Regime and listened to the barrio,

 

Who, watching minorities migrating between the clean corporate cathedrals,

 

Called to the voices caught in the coal tar creosote of the telephone pole,

 

Who, leaning up against the brick wall beside the sign Pussy Liquor,

 

With slow suspicion, rolled eyes over your black ’57 Chevy,

 

Who, opening your trunk and stowing my groceries,

 

Looked up for stars that might not exist anymore,…

 

        Zelmo paused and Billy played a flourish on his muted trumpet.  Zelmo said, “That’s all I’ve got so far.  Hey, Billy-Boy, you are sounding like Miles Davis, himself, man.”

        Billy made a face of comically exaggerated ecstasy and blatted on the trumpet a long note that sounded like an animal braying and then he said, “Now I sound like Adolph studying.”

        Adolph grinned and said, “Fuck you,” and started to go into the kitchen for coffee.  Shelly emerged from the hallway dressed but hair still a tangle and said in passing, “I’m leaving now.  If you care.”

        Billy and Zelmo nodded to her as she strode out the front door and let the screen door bang shut again but not before a long-haired cat bounced into the house.

        Zelmo called out to the cat, “Hey, Scab-ette!”, a name they had given the neighborhood stray who was tough, scarred, and always had her long fur tangled in knots like scabs.  The cat trotted to Zelmo and hopped upon the couch next to him and looked at him expectantly and began to vocalize a long throaty series of sounds that resembled a conversation heard through a wall.

        Billy tried to mimic the “conversation” on his muted trumpet.

        Zelmo shook his head and said, “No cat food here, chick.”

        Zelmo then took a long drag on his reefer and blew the cloud of smoke onto Scabette.  She pulled back and made a sour face and then she dived off of the couch and ran down the hallway vocalizing angrily.

        Billy laughed, “It sounds like she’s saying ‘fuck you all’, man.”

        Adolph shook his head, saying, “No wonder that cat always smells like reefer.  Be careful, she must go to all the houses on this block,” and then Adolph poured himself some coffee and drained the cup in a series of croaking swallows, then he said, “Aaah.  I’m gone, daddy-o.”  Adolph headed out the front door but paused to catch the screen door with his heel and then let it close with a click.

        Adolph got to the sidewalk when he remembered his amphetamines, “Shit,” and he turned and went back into the house.

        Billy joked, “Long day?” as Adolph went past and headed back down the hallway to his bedroom.  A few moments later Billy and Zelmo heard Adolph holler, “Shit!! Fuck!! Shelly!! Shit, fuck, shit, fuck, shit fuck!!”

        Zelmo stood erect and raised aloft in his hand an imaginary sword and said, “Our capitalist friend is in trouble!”

        Billy blew a be-bop cavalry charge and they both galloped down the hallway to Adolph’s bedroom.  They saw Adolph standing catatonic and followed his trembling gaze to see Scabette dreamily defecating on a scattered pile of letters and envelopes pink and yellow and blue tissue-thin airmail posts crumpled and torn.

        Zelmo asked, “What the fuck, man?”

        Adolph bellowed, near tears, “My letters from Shifra!” and he fell to his knees and swung at Scabette who bounded away with a yowl.

        Billy asked, “Shifra?  I thought that was a long time ago.”

        Adolph choked, “It was.  It was,” and he gathered scattered fragments towards himself piteously, “She wrote to me for awhile from Germany after a few years.  I kept the letters in a box, in my drawer.  Shelly!  Shelly!  I’m going to kill you!!”

        Billy tried to calm him, saying, “Easy, man, peace.  You know this just a manifestation of fucked negative energy.  Let it go.  It’s done.  Don’t be attached, man.  Let it go.”

        Adolph gritted his teeth and growled.

        Zelmo knelt down, saying sternly, “Man, this is jive, you don’t want to be like this,” and he helped to gather together delicately the shredded pieces of Adolph’s feelings and then he said, “I think Scabette had the better idea,” and Adolph was compelled to laugh through tears against his will.

To be continued…

This is a section of my entry for Carl Reiner’s Writers’ Contest; to read Carl Reiner’s Chapter 1 go to:   [http://carl-reiner.com/contest/?utm_campaign=]

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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS