Monday, September 05, 2005

reckless, role, local, forgot, missing

I found this blurb in a notebook of mine, written sometime around September 2000. The words I had to use were: reckless, role, local, forgot, missing.

The sign pasted on the outside window of the coffee-shop in Clareston said, "Cat missing since Thursday, October 21." The Scotch-tape had yellowed and the paper around the edges had the soft-vellum look of old manuscripts, but the picture of the tortoise-shell cat was still distinct. I don’t think anybody forgot to take down the sign. It had its own role and had become as much a part of the coffee-shop as the stacking doll set by the cash register and the green velour couch next to the KISS pinball machine. The pinball machine was still busted. The coffee-shop owner had once offered 50 bucks to anyone who could fix it. My classmates in the city would have snickered if I had invited them here. I wouldn’t ever invite any of them here. In fact, there was only one reason I was here: Ezekiel Wannamaker. In high school, Zeke was the town trouble-maker. He was also my best friend.

Zeke had asked me to come. He said it was important, so I was here. As I walked up to the pinball machine to twirl the knobs, a Bessie Smith song crackled over the half-blown-out speakers:

My mama says I'm reckless,
my daddy says I'm wild.
I ain't good lookin'
but I'm somebody's angel child.

Then, Zeke Wannamaker strode into the coffee-shop. His hands were bare of the heavy silver rings he used to wear on every finger, but he still had his carved wooden turtle hanging on a leather string around his neck. “Hey, bella,” he said, swinging his arms around my shoulders. "When did you dye your hair purple?"

Tell me what happened next. Email me a paragraph or two. Every contributor receives proper acknowledgement including a heroic couplet written in his or her honor.


Lone Star Ma said...

"Umm," I said, returning his hug awkwardly but sincerely, "I guess it's been purple for a few weeks."

I cast a surreptious glance at my hands, but the skeezy lighting was dim enough to mask the slight tinge that had spread up from my nail beds like an algae bloom since the last time we had met. I pulled my jacket a litle closer around my shoulder blades.

"Word, Zeke? What's going on?"

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Lone Star Ma, I have sent your heroic couplet to you via email. Thanks so much for your contribution. (Anyone else? It's not every day that you get a heroic couplet, you know.)

Lone Star Ma said...

Yes, and I have a couplet. And you, gentle readers, do not. So you should contribute. Nya.

Melangell said...

Zeke hesitated - unusual, I thought, and it made me uneasy.He looked away and then then said - "Let's go for coffee?"

Hmmmmmm. Coffee was a fairly healthy form of nourishment for my friend Zeke. What was going on here?

Out on the sidewalk, I cast about in both directions in the brightness. Out here there were little coffee kiosks every several blocks, and I finally steered Zeke towards one where we could get our coffee and sit on a curb in the shade.

We started out in silence, then Zeke blurted out - "I had an incredible dream about you last week - but your hair wasn't purple."

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thank you, Melangell. Your heroic couplet should be in your inbox by now!

Andrew said...

My eyes had begun to itch, kept from visibly watering only through massive willpower that must have soon buckled, but eventually their unblinking stare drove his gaze to his shoes. I fluttered their lids with manic haste, and wore my disdainful mask again my the time he had recovered enough to risk an embarrassed sidelong glance. This was an old, old dance of ours; one I'd been winning more and more lately. "Zeke," I said firmly, "tryptamines are just not for daily use. You're a mess, chum! Do you know what 'chum' is?"

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks, Andrew! Your heroic couplet is on its way.

Lone Star Ma said...

We never made it to Cricket as Ladybug rather bored us and we gave up. Did we miss much? We loved Babybug dearly and now are loving it dearly again.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I was reading Cricket when Trina Schart Hyman was the art director. I looked forward to Cricket every month, not only for the stories and letters, but the ongoing saga of Cricket, Ladybug and friends documented at the bottom of the pages in a cartoon style. A lot of good writers got their start with Cricket. The others (Cicada, Ladybug, etc.) came much later.

Lone Star Ma said...

I totally meant to post that comment about Cricket on the Good Night Moon post. I am frazzled. I dreamed a "frame story" (your influence) yesterday when we were home sick and kept telling myself to write it down as I slowly woke so you could have the bits I remembered for a book but I lost it all...just something about festivals.