Friday, October 25, 2013

Dinner and a Photo

Photo by Paparazzimalaya 
Morgan didn't really believe in karma, but taking an Eastern interpretation of Pascal's wager, he decided it couldn't hurt to act as if there was a grand accounting at the end of life. He also believed the little things added up more so than grand gestures. When the opportunity arose, he held doors open for others, pushed all the loose shopping carts together in parking lot corrals, and slowed down for yellow lights. It was when he volunteered for Meals on Wheels that his flirting with karmic justice turned serious. He must have made a bad impression during the interview, because they assigned him to Roger.

Morgan shifted the insulated bag to one arm and knocked on Roger's door. The old man took his sweet time answering and even longer unlatching the door. Though Roger always seemed appreciative, his eyes bored through Morgan the entire visit. Morgan imagined Roger's mahogany face on the shoulders of whatever creature was to judge him in the afterlife, the same eyes seeing straight through a cynical attempt to lead a virtuous life.

Roger's apartment was filled with pictures of women. Women of all ages, races, and situations. A black woman, eyes closed, smelling a bouquet of daisies. A white woman in torn jeans and football jersey holding a fishing pole. A woman in a red headscarf flashing a peace sign in front of a polar bear exhibit. Some wrinkled, some smooth skinned, happy women, sad women, women in motion, women taking their ease, pictures scattered across all the flat surfaces of his apartment, dotting the walls in an eclectic collection of frames. Pick any picture, and Roger would tell you the woman's name.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hear! Hear!

By Bettyann Moore

“Mom, you really should do something about your hearing.”

Rita Repnick peered up at her daughter over her reading glasses. She thought Marsha had said “Reaganomics is somewhere steering,” but she was pretty sure that couldn’t be it. For one thing, though it made sense in a strange way, Marsha wasn’t given to talking politics with her mother. And, for another, to say such a thing out of the blue like that …

“What was that, dear?” she resorted to one of her stand-bys.

“I said,” Marsha yelled across the kitchen where she was banging pots onto the stove, “Your hearing … you really should so something about it!”

When Marsha spoke up, Rita had no problem at all hearing her. Why couldn’t she do that all the time instead of mumbling so?

“There’s nothing wrong with my hearing, dear,” Rita said for the millionth time, “people just need to speak up!” Agitated, Rita buried her nose in her book while her daughter clattered around in the kitchen. She was pretty sure Marsha was mumbling something else, but Rita pretended to be absorbed in the text. In truth, she keep reading the same paragraph over and over again.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lifeguards - Conclusion

by Colleen Sutherland

The women's shower room was in a fog of steam from the water still pouring down from the shower column. Brittany and Savannah peered at the massive bulk that was Gladys, then looked at each other. Their brains synchronized.


Troy was still watching a mother and two children in the small pool. It wasn't his job to go tearing into the women's locker room.

Savannah came to door. “Troy, it's Gladys. She's on the floor passed out. What do we do now?”

“Call 911.” It was the first thing lifeguards learned in the CPR classes. Savannah should have known that.

“Okay. I can do that.” Savannah sped off before he could give her more instructions.

Brittany was at the door next. “What should we do?”

“Did you start CPR?”

“Well … no. “

“Well start now!”

“I took that over a year ago and I didn't pay much attention then. Plus, I don't want to.You're the one with EMT training. You do it.”

Troy sighed. They were right, he was the logical choice. He began to bark out instructions. “You take over here. These people will have to leave. Tell Savannah to put a sign up at the door that the pool is closed for an emergency. Then she should lock up. When you do that, come and help me. Bring towels.”

Troy went to the locker room door, took a breath and went in. He had never been in the women's locker room before, even for a cleaning.To add to that, he had never really that much experience with girls. He was going to get some lessons on female anatomy today but he would have preferred it to be on a date.

The shower was still running. The girls hadn't even thought to do that much. Troy turned the knob. It was so hot he thought he might have a minor burn. The fan was running but it would take a while for the steam to dissipate.

Gladys was where the girls had left her. Troy didn't recoil. He reminded himself he was going to be a doctor. He would see plenty of obese women by the time he was an intern.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lifeguards – Part One

by Colleen Sutherland

The old woman toddled out of the woman's locker room to stand beside the arthritis pool waiting for a lifeguard to come and watch over her. She couldn't go in until somebody was there to watch. That was one of the posted rules.

In the pool office, Troy, Savannah and Brittany knew that one of them had to go out do their lifeguard duty. It was their job.

“I had her yesterday.”

“Yeah, but I had to guard the old hag three times this week.”

“You know she'll hang around for an hour so we'll all have to listen to her. What difference does it make?”

“So you go.”

“Wait a minute, if she stays over an hour, the first to go would get her twice.”

In the end, they rock, paper, scissored and Savannah had to go.

The Glen Valley Fitness and Aquatic Center was open seven days a week. When the city fathers wrote the federal grant to build it, they said it would encourage people to move to Glen Valley, bring in new business and help the citizens with health issues. In fact it was seldom used except for occasional students who came over from the high school and the toddler swimming lessons held in the evenings. After five years, the center was still new and shiny, white tiles shining from the sun that shone down from the overhead windows. To keep costs down, the lifeguards served as janitors to keep the floors spotless.

There was an eight lane Olympic pool that sometimes was used by the swim teams from other towns. The small shallow pool for arthritis patients heated to 90 degrees. That was where Gladys waited.

Gladys used the pool every day not only for her arthritis, but also because she was trying to lose weight. It wasn't working.She waddled into the building every day in sweat suits that strained to keep up with the folds of fat that encased her tall skeleton. At the front desk, she signed in, never bothering to show her pool card. She had bought a life time pass when the pool opened which had seemed silly to some, but five years later, it had proved a wise investment. She came to use the pool five or six times a week. The guards never even knew she had arrived until she showed up at the arthritis pool draped in a suit Savannah claimed a tent company had manufactured for her.