Sep 302010
 

Linda Takes a Shot at Marriage

by David Satterlee

[Note: Contains regional dialect, immature mature dialog, descriptive violence, and mild profanity.
Dang, when you put it that way, I just want to blush a little bit.]

[For reading theatre with two male voices]

That sure was a fine funeral service.

Yep, a very fine service.

Probably the finest service I’ve been to this year.

Yep.

You just kinda felt his spirit there.

Well, Bobby always was kind of a lurker.

Mark my words: I figure he’d be keepin to his self in that there coffin.

Becky Sue once tol me she’d see him lurking regular out by her wood pile.

Hell, that weren’t Bobby. That were my cousin Roy.

Sure nuff?

Sure as I’m pure, white, and proud. Didn’t Roy ever take you out Sue lookin?

No, he never.

Why not? You queer or sumptin and I don’t know it?

You and me’s been huntin regular since we was little. You know I’m no such thing. Don’t be a fool. Besides, I was too ‘fraid of Becky Sue’s Daddy Zeke.

Now you’re the fool. Ever’body knowed that Becky Sue seen we was lookin—an she was showin—Even Daddy Zeke knowed it. But, he got so tired of runnin boys off he never comed out lessen ole Roy got to barkin.

Why was your Cousin Roy barkin?

No, Cousin don’t bark. Daddy Zeke’s hound ole Roy gets to barkin. Course, Roy always took himself some store bought doggie bone biscuits. Ole Roy would see im commin and sneak away from under the house to have them bones, git his ears scratched, and take a nap.

Well, if Daddy Zeke wern’t gunnin for Bobby, how’d he git hisself all shot up?

I been figurin on it and it comes to me that Bobby’s regular girl Linda done him in.

Now how do you reckon that?

You know Old Man Nations what used to be a lawyer?

Yeah, what of it?

Well Nations don’t get out much anymore so he up and gave a sack of his good lawyer clothes to Donnita down at the thrift store. I heard from Donnita that Daddy Zeke got a trousers that he’s been wearing for go to church for weeks, and that Bobby bought himself one too. Bobby told her he was gonna wear it to go propose to Linda to see iffin she would marry him.

That ain’t no sin.

Yeah, but my Roxanne says that Bobby’s Linda has been all upset hearing Becky Sue talking about him bein up at her house, and Linda saw Bobby’s new trousers and thought Becky Sue musta give him one of Daddy Zeke’s.

I don’t see how she come to that thinking, but Linda’s whole family is nuttier than squirrel turds.

Anyhow, this is what I’m guessin. Whoever shot Bobby got him with both barrels through his window and he took the full load in the front of his new fancy trousers and tore em all to hell.

That’s a damn poor aim. Bobby musta taken some time passin on.

Sure enough. The neighbors say he carried on for neigh on half an hour, holding what wasn’t left of, you know, himself, and screamin somethin fierce, and rolling on the floor.

But, wasn’t he gettin set to go propose to Linda?

Yep, Bobby was all set to propose to Linda that same night, but Linda sure nuf didn’t know that.

Anyway, that’s why I figure Bobby was keepin to hisself in that there coffin, him with no trousers or much of anything else, and why they had to just bury him in his shorts.

(pause)

That sure was a fine service.

Yep, a very fine service.

[End]

Copyright 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 282010
 

The One That Got Away

by David Satterlee

A Fergus Johnson story of gender relations

[Note: Contains mildly erotic descriptive imagery.]

Fergus Johnson has been watching for several minutes now. Fergus is seventeen. That’s one of the truly awkward ages between toddling and toupees. One of the girls is gorgeous. It’s not entirely the close-fitting but not-quite-tight pure-white dress she’s wearing, with long sleeves, a tailored waist, and a hem four inches above her knees. The dress accents her sleek neck and trim, but neatly muscled legs, which seem to go all the way to the floor. Okay, Fergus has actually been staring for several minutes now while she talks and eats an ice cream cone.

The white dress has a scooped neck, which reveals a flawless expanse of chest, heaving gently as she talks. A slender silver necklace suspends a large teardrop crystal in just the right place to catch and direct one’s eyes. Her chest extends in a continuous outward slope to two perfect scoops of breast. She is just barely (so to speak) avoiding being immodest but still showing enough cleavage that Fergus feels compelled to check to see if his mouth needs closing. The entire effect is absolutely stunning and most any boy would find himself immobilized, like a deer transfixed by her headlights. The girl doesn’t seem to be aware of the chaos she is creating outside her circle of power.

The girl in the white dress is standing, talking in a small group with three other girls. This is a difficult, but not unusual, situation; girls tend to keep company in huddles. One friend is mousy but staring with adoration at the shining star who is holding court; another is listening, but seems to be frowning at the floor; and one is alertly watching the crowd with darting eyes. Fergus wants to approach the girl who has caught his eye and say something coherent without tripping on his shadow. He knows that he’s a decent enough fellow, quick, trim, and tanned from frequent tennis play; he’s occasionally been called handsome. Sometimes girls come over and start conversations with him. This time, it looks like it has fallen to him to take the initiative.

Gathering his courage, Fergus deliberately unclenches his jaw and rehearses a small smile, one with his cheeks pulled up only slightly and his lips parted only slightly. Just as he’s approaching his object of attraction, the gorgeous girl takes another lick of her ice cream, the scoop tilts, and starts to fall.

FIRST ENDING

Fergus, his nerves drawn tight, reacts instantly, his trained reflexes move faster than he can think. His arm stretches his hand out, firmly grasping the escaping orb. Chocolate extrudes from between his fingers. Fergus and the gorgeous girl gaze into each other’s eyes. They glance at the ooze in Fergus’ hand. Their eyes meet again. Fergus turns sadly and wanders off to find a washroom.

ALTERNATE ENDING

Fergus does not notice the accident because his eyes are fixed on the girl who is quiet, thoughtful, and alert. Her nose is a little too round and her eyes are a little too far apart, but he does not notice. She turns slightly to face him, comfortable and friendly, the fire of quick wit dancing in her eyes. With gentle assurance, he offers his hand to her. Her arm stretches her hand out, firmly grasping his. Fergus and the quiet girl gaze into each other’s eyes. Together they smile and wander off to find a place to talk.

As stories go, this one is classically semi-autobiographical. The model for the “gorgeous girl” is a magazine advertisement that happens to be lying nearby just now. I was, in fact, once walking past a girl when she dropped her ice creme scoop, which I reflexively caught. On the other hand, I preferred to court a girl with “the fire of quick wit dancing in her eyes.” To all those wonderful women who are especially endowed with alternate charms of the mind and heart, I dedicate this alternate ending. 

Copyright 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 272010
 

Touching Women

By David Satterlee

A Fergus Johnson story of gender relations

[Note: Contains some suggestive allusions and mild profanity.]

“You know, I think that women like to touch me” mused Fergus Johnson. Fergus obviously hadn’t actually intended to speak although this was a men’s support group and everybody was expected to share. It had just kind of slipped out as the subvocalization of a personal epiphany. Bobby, who had been revisiting his whine about striking out with women at bars, stopped in mid-sentence and looked puzzled.

Dr. Anderson, always looking for something to add some semblance of newness to the weeks-long rambling bitch session [pun might or might not be intended], urged Fergus: “Go with that.”

Fergus seemed to stare vacantly at the Kewpie doll on one of Dr. Anderson’s shelves across the room. “I’ve just been starting to notice a trend is all.” He paused again, his eyes flickering up and to the right as he searched his memories. “My waitress at breakfast this morning put her fingers on my shoulder several times. And, I’ve started noticing that when I stand talking to a woman, it’s not unusual for them to reach out and briefly put their hand on my arm.”

“That kind of thing happens.” Observed Larry the Letcher, hopefully.

“Yes,” Fergus continued, “but I’ve just started noticing how frequently it happens. I’ve always just taken it for granted. It’s like my uncle Bucky who always heard a little voice in his head telling him the answer to math problems in school. He named the voice Minerva and assumed for years that everybody had the same kind of experience.”

Larry wasn’t done being jealous. “My uncle, the Reverend Poleaxe, is always talking about what Our Lord Jesus tells him to do.”

Fergus considered this briefly. “Yes, but Minerva’s answers were usually wrong.”

It occurred to Larry that his uncle, the Reverend Poleaxe, was prone to some rather lameass decisions that probably shouldn’t be laid at the hem of Our Lord Jesus’ outer garment.

Things were starting to drift out of focus again and Dr. Anderson, beginning to entertain his own fantasies, redirected: “You were talking about women touching you.” Jordan Nickerson and Lucky Joe leaned forward in their chairs.

“I guess it has been going on for a long time. It’s more than Aunt Fancy mussing up my hair and Granny Gooch insisting on being kissed on the lips. I mean, I must have assumed, as a little kid, that I was just exceptionally cute like everybody said. Mom used to take me to her club meetings. I was as popular as free chocolate.” Larry didn’t have anything to say to this; he just sat there with his jaw kind of slack. Lucky Joe was getting an intense and slightly feral look on his face.

There was no turning back, so Fergus plunged on. “The thing that really got my attention was last week. We were visiting my second wife’s second daughter, Becky. She was having a very stressful time with a difficult situation and was getting really agitated. She was sitting on the sofa and I just got down on my knees in front of her, reached out, and held her hands. She relaxed a little. And then, like an Eskimo offering a visitor the comfort and warmth of his best wife, my wife told Becky: ‘Hug him.’ Becky looked as confused and uncertain as I felt. My wife urged her, ‘There’s something special about the way he holds you. All the tension just goes away.’ I suppose I already knew this at some level, but her definitive assertion was news to me. Becky scooted forward and I reached out and we embraced.” Fergus took a deep breath. It was very quiet. It seems likely that he was the only one breathing at that moment.

“At first, she was real tense; she gave my shoulder a few quick, nervous pats and a short jerky rub. We had both been well-trained in the politically-correct way to formally and safely hug someone when you wanted to be sure that they, and everyone who might notice, didn’t misunderstand your intentions. It didn’t help that, at that moment, we could hear her ex, who had been coerced into helping her move, backing his trailer into the driveway. This was going to have to be quick.

“I was at ease and kind on cruise control at this point. This was as comfortable and natural as holding one of our cats. I told her, ‘You don’t have to pat. You don’t have to rub. You don’t have to worry. Just let it be.’ Her breath caught for a few moments and then she slumped a little: like she had just lost five pounds. ‘There it is’ I said. ‘Okay, we can do that again, later.’ We untangled our arms and our auras and I glanced at my wife. She was just sitting there with a little satisfied half-smile.”

Larry looked up from his reverie and asked, “So did you ever, you know, do that again?” Fergus glanced up with an intense and slightly feral look on his face, held out his arms and replied, ‘No, but do YOU need a hug?”

Copyright 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 262010
 

An Object of Urgency

by David Satterlee

Nigel emerged from the back door of the house with a sense of urgency. He could have walked through the rusted and rotted screening that no longer covered the outer door but he was known for his attention to detail and duty and, having pushed the wood frame open ahead of himself, he now allowed it to bang closed, draw by its spring as he felt drawn to his purpose.

Hurrying to the edge of the porch, old boards yielding and protesting under the tread of his massive bulk, he stood rigidly still, surveying his surroundings. The early sun was burning off the low-lying mist like smoke rising from a wet and lazy leaf fire. Heavy dew still clung to the vegetation. It would wet his feet because he had not put on shoes, but that was of no consequence. Lifting his head at last, assured of no immediate threat, his mind returned to his purpose here, and the agitated old man inside, peering after him expectantly with rheumy eyes.

Nigel had lived here most of his life. He had been born here and knew the area intimately. Everything was in its place and little changed. The predictability of his routine was a constant comfort. He slept when he wanted to, ate when he felt like it, and watched – always alert to any disturbance. His sole duty of consequence was to assure the security of the other occupant of this remote cabin in this secluded corner of this godforsaken wood. Still, he had suddenly become aware that he was in possession of an object that must be removed from the cabin immediately and deposited outside in a place that would not be disturbed.

He could wait no longer. Descending the three steps that separated the residence from the unmown thickets beyond, he advanced down a well-worn path that lead into the woods. The path branched like the limbs of the trees that towered above him. Although almost any of the forking, ever-narrowing tracks would supply a suitable destination and an acceptable repository, he was determined to choose carefully. Despite his anxiety to complete his task, Nigel gave this puzzle his full attention.

He wanted to put this thing as far away from the old man as circumstance made practical, yet still be able to return promptly if summoned. Deer used this branch of the track regularly and it led straight away with no obstruction, allowing Nigel to move briskly at first. He suddenly slowed, somehow sensing the presence of others. Crouching slightly while standing rigidly in place, he quieted his breath, opened all his senses, and let them penetrate his surroundings. A small scrape to his left was out of place. Turning his head slowly to bring the area into view, a brace of six pheasants exploded into flight. Nigel relaxed and moved on without surrendering his accustomed vigilance.

Remembering a small clearing ahead and to his right, Nigel quickened his pace; he had to get rid of this thing soon. Squeezing carefully past a thorny branch, the clearing revealed itself; it would be adequate for his purpose. Deer liked to congregate here and their droppings littered the trampled grass. The thing that he had brought would certainly disturb them and their sense of security here, but Nigel was indifferent to their imminent distress. Squatting close to the fragrant loam, the big dog took a massive dump.

Copyright 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 212010
 

Mother’s Favorite Brownie Recipe

by David Satterlee

One day, it occurred to Mother to make brownies for her family. We all loved her brownies; Father, Mother and all four children. We would nab crumbs from each others’ plates, and complain if another received what appeared to be a larger portion. Yes, this would be a fine desert to offer as a treat after our supper.

After retrieving the pan from the oven, letting it cool, and applying a glaze of extra chocolate across the top, Mother stopped to admire the product of her labor. Surely she deserved a small reward for her efforts on this and many other days. Besides, it would be best that all portions be as close to equal as possible. So thinking, she trimmed the edges from all four sides, and while watching the wrens sport in the yard outside her kitchen window, she treated herself to these few modest trimmings.

Returning to her work, she carefully divided the remaining bulk of the pan into twelve equal squares; six for tonight’s supper, and six to be reserved for the morrow. Noticing a piece that was slightly oversized, she shaved a small bit from one side and popped it into her mouth. In this manner, she consumed the entire pan.

Copyright 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 202010
 

Being True to the Best of What You Are: An integral fable of personal development and transformation

A farmer was out walking with a guest, who was a hunter. A beautiful eagle soared gracefully above them, just keeping an eye on things below. Suddenly, without giving any word, the hunter raised his gun, sighted on the bird and shot it dead. It flapped to the ground and landed with a sad “whump.” The hunter walked over to the bird and nudged it with his boot. Yep, it was very dead. The farmer didn’t say anything. He didn’t approve but the hunter was his guest and killing animals is what hunters do.

Knowing that the eagle had its nest in a nearby tree, the farmer climbed up, swaying in breeze, reached into the nest and put the two small eagles in the large pockets of his baggy pants. Protecting living things and helping them to grow is what farmers do. When they got back to the house, the farmer put the eagles with his chickens. They learned to eat bugs and seeds and they grew up strutting around the yard just like their chicken brothers.

But, one of the young eagles was not happy. “I’m different,” she told her brother, “I just don’t feel like I belong on the ground walking around pecking at bugs and seeds.” Her brother was quite content, however, and said, “Don’t make trouble. The farmer is good to us chickens. He throws us enough corn that we don’t starve and we get to hang out all day with our friends.” The first eagle wasn’t convinced. She pointed out, “I like to stretch my wings and feel the breeze. I can see clearly the trees on the far hill and I wonder what is there.” Her brother said, “Your eyes are good enough to find bugs. Bugs don’t move fast and they don’t take any trouble to swallow.” His sister replied, “My claws are long and curved; I wish I could wrap them around things instead of just standing in the dirt. My beak is stronger and more curved than my chicken brothers; I think that I am better suited for other work.” Her brother said, “Just relax. Your claws and beak are fine. They scratch deeper and peck harder. Frankly, our lot in life stinks but you and I are big and strong so we can tell the other chickens what to do and push our way to the best eating spots.”

An owl had been listening to the conversation from a nearby tree. He spoke only to the eagle that was ready and said: “I can help you. You are right that you are different. You are an eagle and you are different from your chicken brothers. You are also different from your eagle brother because he is content with his situation while you want to discover the best of what you are.” The eagle replied, “That sounds interesting, but will it be frightening?” The owl laughed, hooted “Of course,” swooped down, grabbed her and soared up into the air. Higher and higher the owl carried her. “You are Eagle; your wings are for soaring; your keen eyes see the smallest movement in the distance; your sharp claws and beak are for the hunt. This is what eagles do.” And with that, the owl let go of the young eagle.

Oh yes, it was frightening. But, the young eagle caught the air with her wings and it propelled her forward; she shifted her tail and discovered control. She screamed an eagle’s scream: not in terror but with the thrill of discovery and the joy of being and doing. Below, all the field mice and rabbits and chickens and even her brother scurried for the shadows. Above, the eagle caught the rising breeze and thought about what had just happened.

Over and over, starting with the struggle to hatch out of her shell, she had had to make changes. There always came a problem that was too important to ignore. Sometimes she had to solve the problem herself and sometimes someone else, like the owl, helped her. It was frightening and frustrating and always uncertain and very hard work, but the change was worth the effort. Like hatching, each solved problem led to a new stage of life and a new understanding. She knew things now that she couldn’t have even guessed at before. She wondered about what change and growth might come next. But one thing was for certain – she was looking forward to it.

Thoughtful questions for students:

(“Before I ask some questions about the story, would you like to hear it again?”)

  • Why wasn’t the unhappy eagle just being a grumpy and complaining chicken?
  • Is being unhappy always bad?
    (If we are unhappy with our present situation, then we may decide to work to make our situation better.)
  • Who can you go to for help with a problem?
  • Why is it frightening to try something new? Is it okay to be worried?
  • Why does it take hard work to make a major change or learn something new?
  • Do you think that the eagle left behind will ever be truly happy as a chicken?
  • What changes do children make as they grow up?
  • Do you think that adults ever stop growing and changing?
    (Yes, some get stuck and stop trying, but life-long-learners have better lives.)

[A similar story is known as “Fly, Eagle, Fly” and is taught in elementary schools as an African Folk Tale. A story like this was told by Patty Grant Long on August 25, 2005 during a workshop–program on “Healing the Soul Wound” (Multi-generational Trauma). Ms. Long is a therapist (alcohol and drug abuse counselor) with Analenisgi, in Cherokee, North Carolina. It is adapted here from memory by David Satterlee.]

Copyright 2005, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.