The “March Madness” ran its course into the first week of April. At the end, two basketball powerhouses would meet: one drawing last blood from the other to raise the championship trophy. The nation, however, remained dazzled by a new Cinderella, the team from a small catholic college outside Boston. She danced exquisitely until the semi-final, when her clock struck midnight. But, it was their octogenarian nun, perched on a wheel-chair at the courtside, rooting enthusiastically for her boys, that would melt the soul of a politically fragmented nation.
Bill Walton, a firebrand senator, understood “How sports find a way to bind an entire nation!”
Inside Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Mark noticed the painting “Wheatfield with crows”. “What a riot of colors of yellow, green, brown, and intense blue with those black crows flying away. What’s the inspiration?” pondered Mark.
The art suddenly started to evolve, depicting a chaotic war-scene from the narrative of a holy book of Hinduism. The Lord was chiding the hero reluctant to fight enemies (his relatives), displaying a futuristic vision of the pre-destined demise of every creation. Mark came back to senses, wondering about the connection.
He approached the art, painted mid-July, 1890. Van Gogh fatally shot himself on July 29th.
When Jamaal arrived at his father’s house Friday evening, he saw the old man standing on the front stoop, facing the door.
Something didn’t look quite right as Jamaal approached. His father wore one of his droopy old jackets, one of the five he had alternated each weekday for the last how-ever-many years of teaching math to kids who sometimes paid attention at the local public school, sometimes stared into space as the numbers flew above their heads and out the windows. The droopy jacket seemed to vibrate at a slow pace, almost imperceptible, as his father’s right arm, a right angle at the elbow, pulsed slightly as if keeping time to snappy jazz no one else could hear.
“Dad?” Jamaal called softly as he approached his father.
The old man turned, his expression a mix of surprise and frustration. “The goddamned door won’t unlock,” he said, clipping the words like the chalk strokes of another equation on another Friday afternoon. Continue reading “Keys”
This season’s bikini rocked the clubhouse pool. Sarah’s classmates drank in her look with slow smiles and calls for Sarah’s attention. She strategized, her choice dependent on popularity, and didn’t notice their focus veer.
Then she did. On someone behind her.
Turning slowly Sarah saw Lily flip her auburn layers and heard her throaty laugh. Sarah knew then her star status had waned as the newly mature Lily was fully aware hers had arrived.
The boys’ gazes sliding past her, Sarah felt forgotten, just one of summer’s past idols. Seasonal depression took over, her joy and anticipation shattered. She slunk to her chaise lounge, secretly ogling the new babe.
Remorselessness gushed from an obituary in Fort Worth’s city newspaper and dumbfounded the conversation for the Saturday morning breakfast crowd at our downtown family restaurant, Burger & Shake. Marvin Williams was a victim of vehicular homicide. The suspect (identity withheld) was still at large. The dark highway where his life ended was the daily pre-dawn journey from his trailer on the outskirts of Weatherford, Texas. He was going to breakfast. I was a collegian when I heard the grim tale and twelve when I met him, just beginning my family business career—washing dishes. Marvin strutted through the city streets wearing his wide brimmed Stetson complimented by western-cut clothes and boots with the gumption of a Texas rancher. He was stone deaf but displayed lip reading expertise which impressed all that met him as he conversed in mechanical intonation. I liked him. Continue reading “What the deaf man heard”
Karl Barry grew up in a small town in southern Georgia. The only child of a retired professional basketball player, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Due to his short stature, Karl’s high school coach would advise him to play in the “point-guard” position. The position needed quick thinking how to elude taller opponents without getting entangled while taking the winning shots to the basket from long distances as well as acute angles. Karl followed his coach’s advice and over time excelled in the sport. In fact, in his last two years, he even represented his high school in state championship tournaments. Karl had hoped that the recruiters from colleges with strong basketball programs in the country would find him a good prospect, thus offering an athletic scholarship. Continue reading “A reluctant role model”
The two flags, the American flag and the Italian flag were crossed and placed in a white bowl with pink flowers in it, and set in the center of the table, some distance away from where Doctor Neal Fenner and his wife, Anna, sat in the dining room of the Esplanade, an independent living facility for seniors on Staten Island.
The presence of the Italian flag bothered him, not because he had any animus against Italy or Italians. Were it the flag of any other nation, his emotional response would have been the same. A flag is a national symbol and is often used to intimidate a weaker nation by a stronger one. Because there was no one to intimidate that was not the purpose of the Italian flag displayed on the table. Its significance was in its way more pernicious, and yes, while not touching any one particular individual, it embraced everyone in the dining room by proclaiming that the people at the table where the flags were displayed were different, special, and perhaps a notch or two above those sat at the other tables. It was in Neal’s mind a subtle statement of superiority, and he was determined to do something about it. Continue reading “Two flags”
The little girl ran across the sand unaware of the footprints leaving stains behind her. She wiggled as the ocean took a deep breath in then giggled as she ran backwards while it let the air out, pushing towards her. Her feet made tiny splashes against the wet sand. The two played this little game of tag until the ocean finally caught her by the heel with its foamed fingers. The little girl paused unsure of the feeling as the water surrounded her toes. As her feet began to sink into the sand her eyes caught sight of a small shell appearing as the water leaned back. The shell was small, like her, and engraved with swirling oranges and whites. It stood out among the many other broken shells and fragments left behind from the salty water. The little girl scurried towards the fragile thing with her hands outstretched, jittering with excitement. However, she wasn’t quick enough. The deep blue gracefully carried it back. She let herself drop in defeat. Her legs spread out in front of her, facing the ocean, while her hands hugged each other in her lap. She let herself sit for a while watching the ocean as it tried to tickle her feet. The salt carried across the waves and into her yellow hair. Her matching eyes followed the water as it caressed her legs leaving white foam and bubbles in the sand. Suddenly, with a rush, the wind carried a wave closer to shore pushing the tide up and embracing the little girl. She cried out in fear and discomfort. Her father nearby stood quickly, rushing towards the scene. The little girl stared at her sandy body with tears and a deep frown. But it didn’t last long for her eyes were then fixated by a small treasure in front of her. The small diamond shaped item sparkled and glowed from the sun. It looked as if the ocean had left a piece of itself behind. Her face reflected off its blue surface like a tiny mirror. As her father’s hands slid around her body she was quick this time to grab it. This time, she would not let her sea crystal go.
He grew scrawny at first, pushing hard against the plane to be noticed, fighting for every drop of nourishment. Eventually he staked a place, found a course, made himself known. Caught in the light at last he flourished, blossomed, found the spring and took hold.
“Hello there,” she said, her benevolence shining upon him.
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” he replied, reaching towards her.
They worked together and he soon became stronger, rising higher than the others, standing out and apart. Through her nurture he transformed into a being magnificent and proud, filling her with joy. They had learned to strike the balance, to contain the beauty and power of the universe.
“Thank you for another perfect day,” he said to her as they settled for the evening.
“See you tomorrow,” she promised with an indelible caress, slowly closing her eyes.