George Mowgli – 9

He’s back.  If you haven’t followed George from the beginning of his adventure, feel free to seek out his stories by scrolling down to the “Be a Seeker” box on the right side and typing in “George Mowgli.”  You can also start from the very beginning by clicking here.


Her cackle from some location below elicits an involuntarily response, pushing the left side of his nose and mouth into a sneer.  “No doubt she’s turned on the stupid box and is laughing at some brain-sucking sitcom.  She’ll probably find it imperative to try and repeat the scene to me later.  Won’t matter if I’m engrossed in a good book or napping.”  He pulls his face out of the sneer as if putting a long abandoned piece of laundry back in its drawer.  Matter-of-fact.  No point letting more bitterness creep in.Airwalk Men's Mason Mocassin Slippers

In about three hours, Micah will either shut himself in the garage (AKA his workshop), or he’ll change into something similar to what he’s already wearing and head to his idea of a night out.  Thirty-eight years old and he’s still playing Dungeons and Dragons with kids ten or fifteen years younger than him.  Such a disappointment.

The moccasins that are his house shoes await him somewhere in the darkness above.  He should have put them on when he came down for breakfast this morning, he knows that now.  The climbing, always the climbing up and down, it was all he could think about after his morning ablutions.  “Is this what athletes go through before every game,” he wonders, “or maybe soldiers before a battle? Knowing they’ve done it many times before, but worried they might just be all tapped out?”  Another step … and then another … almost there.

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A History in Woods

Griffy Woods - squirrel - P1100479
In 1928, when Nila was born, the woods had been there, surrounded by more forrest on all three sides. A dirt road drew it’s contour on the east, and a creek ran it’s southern side. When hayfields and corn started dividing the countryside, they’d stopped at the creek, and at the sudden rise in elevation on the north and west sides, and the woods had remained a remnant of what used to be. These and the paved country road where the dirt road had been, clearly defined the boundaries to the property when Nila and Jim eventually purchased it.

Nila and Jim married when she was twenty in the summer of 1948. They acquired the woods twenty years later in hopes they might one day build a house there, but the little town of Menden had grown up around the first and only house they would ever live in for their 62 years together. The woods had instead became something of a family member, almost mystical and later, perhaps a bit haunted.

Mushrooms grew in some places (if you knew where to look). A nice morel flanked dinner was your reward, and folks in those parts had a hankering for that.  In warmer months, the creek bed, it’s silky-soft mud lacing through your toes as it cradled your feet, was host to children and adults alike. The family spent time in the summers trimming and mowing the meadow that served as a huge welcome mat with the creek off to your left, the hill to your right, and a peaceful upsweeping trail on back behind.

The meadow had seen many tents, many campfires, and heard many ghost stories. Many a child had woke screaming in their beds, their mothers calling Nila exasperated and angry, after Nila had scared them the night before at a campfire. The creek wasn’t any good for fishing, but that didn’t stop some of the children from tying strings to the end of sticks and dropping pieces of kneaded bread balls into the water. They’d giggle and scream as baby smallies would nibble at the bait, then gulp it down and give their little makeshift rods a tug as they swam away.

Nights in the woods were unpredictable. If there wasn’t a group camping, if it had been still and untouched for a time, one of the family teens might park a car just outside the meadow. Still under the canopy of trees and out of sight to passersby, some tried to lay blankets out for their attempts at passion. The more experienced simply cracked the windows and used the back seat, too many creepy crawlies on the damp ground. This went on until Nila’s brother and his wife bought a spread of land next to the woods and built a home there. Nila threatened several grandkids in the late 80’s when reports of their scandalous activities made it to her ears.

In the winter, the hill north of the meadow was perfect for sleds. The deer that frequented the woods would keep a low profile when sounds of children whooping and laughing would begin wafting through the trees, magnified by the silence the snow cover promulgated by filtering out other sound.

In time, Nila decided to leave the woods wild, and thought of it as a nature preserve. The hill and trails became overgrown, and even the meadow became more and more neglected as the pair grew older and the younger members of the family moved away or had other priorities. A chain link fence, complete with “Private Property” and “No poaching” signs made the boundaries clear at that point. And if family wanted to go for a walk or sit by the creek, they had to retrieve the key to the padlocked gate from the hiding place in Nila and Jim’s pool house.

Jim died in 1992, and Nila held on to the woods. When she passed away ten years later it was January. The leafless trees draped over patches of snow and mud, and in its wintery silence, the creek’s trickling of tears and the black and white imagery adjoining it, the woods displayed its profound sorrow and loss.


This is semi-biographical and was inspired by the “Landscape and Time” exercise in Brian Kitely’s book The 3 A.M. Epiphany. If I had written in response to this exercise for a class I would have failed, because as usual – I cheated. Alas, I am not writing for a grade. This piece still bugs me for some minor touch-ups in language and direction. I wanted to detail what kinds of trees grow there but, much like a person’s shirt color, I couldn’t recall all of that.  Funny.  I would appreciate any ideas you have for what works, what doesn’t, etc. Also, feel free to share where you would have written about and why.

[Photo above:By User:Vmenkov (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]

Eight Seconds

The incessant engine humming, no – more of a roaring moan, will probably echo in my head for hours after I land.  That guy looks as nervous as I feel.  “We can do this, Joe!”  Yeah, that smile looks totally forced, but thumbs up buddy.

I can’t imagine this would be very comfortable without these packs on our backs.  Makes a good spot for resting my head while we wait to reach altitude over the jump zone.  Oh, wow.  Stomach isn’t having that right now.  Better sit up and think happy thoughts.  This helmet feels tighter all of a sudden.  Let’s do an equipment check again to get my mind right.  Yep … check, check.  This harness itches right here.  Heck, I’d wear a suit of armor if they guaranteed me nothing bad would happen.

Oh, Lord.  They’re moving around up there.  Okay.  Okay.  It’s happening.  Stand up.  Shuffle forward.  Here we go.  Please, God, I know the doc said six to eight months.  But I really think I want all of it I can get.  Let me make this jump okay, please?

“What? … Oh, yes.  Yes, have it right here.  Okay.  Yes, I count the seconds and then pull this.  Right.  This one for back up.  Got it.  Yep.  … Where? … Oh God … yep … okay.”

That wind is not at strong as it was last time.  I could practically fall out here.  My finger tips are probably going to be bruised as tight as I’m gripping this door.  Not looking down yet.  Not looking down.  I wish he’d just push me out.  Oh man, he’s saying it.  Here I go.

“YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”  Be a starfish and count you dumbass!  Shit.  I’m falling.  This is great!  I’m probably at ten seconds.  Okay.  11-one thousand … 12-one thousand … 13-one thousand … 14-one thousand … I can’t wait to tell everyone I’ve been doing this.  17-one thousand … 18-one thousand … 19-one thousand … I wonder how many people are out of the plane so far.   24-one thousand … 25-one thousand … feels so freeing, not like the first few jumps.  28-one thousand … 29-one thousand … 30-one thousand … all I could think about was whether my chute would open, how tight the harness felt, and how much my eyes were watering (even with the goggles on).  All that in just three seconds.

Wow … 35-one thousand …36-one thousand … it’s like google earth in person.  Zooming in people!  Zooming in!  40-one thousand … 41-one thousand … screw cancer … 42-one thousand … 43-one thousand … I’ll buy Katherine a huge diamond ring before I tell her so she doesn’t argue about saving the money for the medical bills … 46-one thousand … 47-one thousand … I’ll write that book I’ve been messing around about for all these years, and … 50-one thousand … I’ll tell my brother I’m sorry … 52-one thousand … and as it turns out she’ll be available again in 6 – 8 months, dude … 54-one thousand … ouch, that chuckle hurt with all this air flow slapping into me under this pack.  57-one thousand … almost … 58-one thousand … reaching …59-one thousand … here goes, brace for whiplash.

No.  What is this?  Some kind of test?  No, no, no!  Steps!  Follow the steps!  There’s time.  There’s time.  Look – you’re still above 1000.  Do the steps.  What the … I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that.  The line is too messed up.  Stop panicking; I can’t believe this is happening.  Not fixable … right … okay.  Next.

Reach to the right – there it is.  Got it.  Now find the left – got it.  Arching back, pulling … damn this thing is hard … pull that thing.  Okay there it went.  Main chute cut.  There it goes.  Damn.  Pull left!  Pull!  C’mon dammit.  This is NOT happening!  God please!  Is anyone coming to help me.  Do they see me?  Wait – where is everyone?  Flatten … stretch … fall slower.  What was I thinking?  What was this supposed to do for me when I had this idea?  Confidence.  I was supposed to get some strength to face the cancer.

SkydiveroverEslovSweden

By Degrer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons


I’m gonna’ die.  No one can help me.  The reserve won’t open.  I’m almost at 1000 feet.  What was it they said then?  About 7 or 8 seconds.  Far cry from 6 – 8 months.  Maybe I should have told Katherine.  Will Doc Peters tell her now?  Oh no – will the insurance cover this?  Glad we have the supplemental and the savings.  She can always sell the other house too.   God, thanks for giving me Katherine before this.

Dave will figure it out.  Maybe he’ll read my papers and get the apology he’s been needing.  Katherine’s strong, she and the kids will be okay.  Oh, please Lord, don’t let this hurt.   Let it be quick when I hit.  Maybe even finish me before I hit?  Please don’t let it hurt.

Maybe that’s the best thing.  No weeks or months wasting away in front of everyone.  No long term pain deadened by the drugs.  Guess I’ll never know what smoking pot feels like now.  Focus – 1000 feet.  Close your eyes.

The smell of grandma’s house.  Mom’s lasagna.  The look Jesse gave me, smiling eyes and tongue hanging out with joy, whenever I’d play ball with her.  The waves crashing in rhythm on the beach.  Sun shining.  Our first kiss.  She knows me.  Katherine holding Jamal.  Lunch together in the tree-house, spying on Ayesha and Tim next door until they spotted us.  All of us giggling so hard it made tree-house shake.  Katherine’s face when I pulled up on Tom’s motorcycle.  Jamal scraping his knee the first time, I was his hero.  I love you guys.  That time whe


 

I needed to post content hurriedly this morning and didn’t have time to edit this.  I will touch up any grammar/spelling issues in the coming days.  This started as a response to a writing exercise called “Epiphany” in Brian Kiteley’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany.  I cheated a little and then went rogue.  I also got the idea for the ending from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars where the main character talks about how her favorite book ends.  I recommend both books.

George Mowgli – 8.5 (Note)

Dear Readers,

 

George needs rest before continuing his perilous journey into the recesses of his mind.  He is taking a brief hiatus while his writer attempts to create something from scratch for a mystery writing contest.  He was a bit appalled at my thirst for competition, but when I mentioned I wasn’t 38 years old and still living at home his objections fell silent.  I apologized for hitting below the belt, to which he replied he probably wouldn’t feel it anyway.   I believe he has a much better sense of humor but I was careful to laugh politely out of respect.

In an effort to compromise, I allowed him to leave a forwarding address in case anyone wants to write him.  You may address any comments or questions to him below and I will be happy to serve as his personal secretary until his return.  You’ll also be happy to know that he guilt-tripped me into slapping up some poetry since it is National Poetry Writing Month.  So feel free to stay tuned for some flow.

 

Sincerely,

George’s Writer

George Mowgli – 8

His palms are slippery.  He turns his right hand over, barely recognizing the mottled exterior, the soft-skinned canvas of his lifelines loosely draped around the bones and swollen joints.  Like ghosts in his mind, a false duet of memories and the present, he can still make out the muscles of his youth as he twitches his thumb.  Days were when his calloused hands put in time at the lumber mill, returning home with nubby, dirt encrusted nails as evidence, scrapes and bruises the “war wounds” of their service.

A bar of Lava soap, wrapped in the dirty imprint of this or the other hand from those days, still convalesced on the shelf in the mudroom.  He thinks about tossing it once in awhile.  Recollections of the texture, the solace of that gritty lather under soothing warm water, prevent  further consideration.  Comforts of the past.  He splays his fingers and turns the decrepit looking thing away from his view, wafting air along the sweaty underside as best he can.  He dares not loose his grip on the railing yet.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 7

He’d wanted to name the baby, “George, Jr.” but Sarah whined it wouldn’t do.  Not poetic enough.  Not ear catching.  What would the girls at work think?  Looking back, he was certain she’d only agreed to have a baby because she wanted an excuse to stop working and stay at home.  It was clear, once the mission was accomplished, she was ill-prepared and had as much motherly instincts as a harp seal.  He’d watched one of those television documentaries on the creatures and experienced deja vu when he discovered the mothers abandon their defenseless babies vulnerable to predators, alone on the ice after only twelve days.

Now he knows what that must feel like.  Hadn’t put two and two together back when she forgot Micah was playing on the sun porch and locked the door.  Poor kid had nearly fainted of dehydration by the time she realized.  From all accounts over the years, Micah could have been one of those poor little babies that baked to death in the back seat while his mother lollygagged at the mall.  But for the strange ironic brew he’d come to accept where good things happened to bad people and bad people happened to good ones, Sarah would be seeking all manner of reporters and gullible ears to question “Why on Earth any legitimate legal system would put a poor mother behind bars for an innocent mistake that had taken her child from her bosom of love …”  Her flair for drama and talent for overlooking reality was cemented in the fabric of his familiar.  Try as George may, he can’t get the stain she leaves on his attitude to wash clean.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 6

It would never be said of his son – Micah, “A chip off the old block.”  A  middle-aged man of pale complexion and reddish brown hair – these and his glasses were the only traits that could be claimed as ever being shared between the men.  His son’s exterior was a contradiction.  One could easily make out his hefty midsection, still within the socially accepted picture of “average,” but gaining.  His choice in the latest alternative band t-shirts attempted a distraction to the mismatched area in contrast to his spindly legs and scrawny neck.  Lanky but graceful – his straight, wiry hair sat atop his globe as a wig might.

It was clearly his own hair; its roots visibly clawed into his head nearly a full inch behind where his forehead should have ended.  It seemed to follow a set of standing orders as it cascaded back and then, in tune with gravity, down the sides of his head in the form of a sort of academic-looking mullet.  That pasty, waxen forehead was accentuated by his choice in eye-wear.  Dark wire rims joined his cartoonish appearance, and together they defined the word, “spectacles.”  At 38, the boy had not acknowledged his adulthood, it seemed to George.  He dressed in rust colored jeans that hugged his legs, the shirt bloused over the waistline.  Wore suede construction boots with the ensemble.  “As if he’s worked a day of manual labor in his whole, enabled, meaningless life,” mutters George, as he counts and thinks, and waits for his lungs to join him once again in this life.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 5

George reaches up and pulls himself up again.  Amazing what energy can be found in those “cringing moments.”  His left toe catches the ledge as he brings it up and his right arm swings itself forward on its own volition to counterbalance his imminent demise.

Sarah had a mole that could be mistaken for a cold-sore.  She tried to apply her makeup to under accentuate its redness.  Lingering just above her lip and southwest of her right nostril, it could have become her trademark.  Entering her 40s  she should have accepted the “opinions and rumor mill be damned” attitude that is a right of passage most other older women enjoy.  Instead, her collaboration with her flamboyant beautician produced a pair of eyebrows – reminiscent of the golden arches – relegating her mole to a sideshow in the vaudeville that was her presence.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 4

He parked himself in denial years ago.  A stereotype behind the wheel, he refused to ask directions and insisted on reading his map any damn way he wanted.  It was upside down.  He smoked his smokes and drank his drinks and chuckled at the naysayers who warned him of death.  Now he smirks, and thinks, “They were still wrong.  Its not the death that means anything.  Its the landscape.”  His lungs confirm this assessment.  Bristles of perspiration tingle him all over, under his tummy rolls, beneath his unmentionables.

His real name is George, but today he thinks of himself as the boy raised in the rainforest (or was it a jungle), surrounded by pitiless wild animals with only the thought to devour him, or ignore him if a better meal is in view. It fits rather well given the selfish, oblivious nature of his son and ex-wife. These stairs are his daily hell. He is too proud to refuse or complain. The 38-year old man who still lives at home, his son, remains a “mama’s boy,” which explains why he remains clueless and disengaged from his father’s plight. His ex-tormentor, Sarah? He divorced the woman 18 years ago. The only difference George had been able to enjoy was that she’d moved out and occasionally (he’d begrudgingly learned of her debacles through their son) played the fool for all to see, flirting with the butcher at the supermarket.

He was actually in line once at the front when he’d heard her cackle.  He’d instinctively whipped his head toward the hideous but familiar squawk as one would turn at the sound of screeching tires, only to see the encore.  “Oh, hellooooooa!” she waved her entire 63 year old body at the poor man behind the meat counter.  “God help us! What is wrong with that ridiculous witch?” George snarled to himself.  The timid Mr. Schultz, caught in the middle of handing a more sane customer a pound of salami, had issued forth an awkward cough.  It was sort of the thing you would expect to happen after realizing your credit card was declined, or you’d locked your keys in the car.  Susan had turned to the lady friend she was with in line and giggled like a school girl, as if the camera was on but her mic wasn’t working.  She hadn’t even noticed her friend’s mouth agape or her pink cheeks of embarrassment.  Oblivious!

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 3

Regrouping, he lifts his chin and peers into the void again.  “Not today.  They cannot win today.”  This silent affirmation does nothing for his motivation.  It summons several questions, and they roll around in his skull like mismatched cufflinks in a dead man’s shave kit.  “Will they even know of their victory?  Do they even know I’m fighting them?  How long will it actually take them to realize I’m gone?”  They had lived in his peripheral (or he in theirs) all these many years, yet had managed to miss every detail of his heart, his longings, his needs, his pain.

What is that poem?  He can’t recall.  Something about how people will laugh when you are up and leave you in the dust when you cry?  He remembers that paperback book of 101 poems he used to carry in his pocket as a young man.  His grandmother had given it to him and asked him to memorize one of the pages for her.  To this day he can still recite Longfellow’s “The Day is Done.”  “How very prophetic,” he thinks, and the dimple on his weathered face makes a small appearance.  He resigns himself to the irony and pulls himself up once more, before he has time to think about it.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 2

His lungs still struggle with each inhale, but the pace slows and he grabs the limb with his right hand, wiping the sweat from his left palm and repositioning.  He shifts his weight and raises his right knee just high enough to shove his foot onto the next ledge.  Leaning forward, his muscles strain and quiver as he brings his other foot up to stand nearly upright.  He is keenly aware of his bladder starting its familiar press, notifying him of a most basic human need.  He takes the next climb with similar awkwardness, but has to stop again for fear of falling.

Dizziness pervades his head and chest.  He can feel a cold sweat break out around his ribcage, and he is wheezing again.  He is only halfway there and doubt creeps into his mind, seeps into  little cracks in his soul, and darkens his outlook in billows like  octopus ink.  He tries not to cry, although his throat tightens and a few tears mingle with the sweat on the bridge of his nose.  He lets them drip, along with the sweat, to the carpet below.

 

READ ON –>

George Mowgli – 1

Yet another series.  If you haven’t discovered yet, I’m a bit fragmented and prefer to work in a million different directions.  So please enjoy what I believe to be the best I have so far … in little paragraph installments over the next few days.  … Unless I get bored and do something else again.    I’ll get wise soon and create a page to list all my series so you, Dear Reader, can follow those that tickle you.

 

George Mowgli

 

Mowgli squints into the dark jungle ceiling.  He grips the limb in his left hand and pauses to listen to his surroundings.  A low, mechanical hum emanates up from below.  A rhythmic ticking noise stalks him from behind.  His breathing heavy, he waits, and feels the slithering beads of sweat roll down this lower back.  Up overhead he can see nothing – no light spears through to help make out any shapes.  He closes his eyes and waits.  In the pitch black of his head, he hears the growl of some sinister creature nearby.  His eyes snap open.

There it is again, but this time he recognizes it.  His shoulders relax slightly as he acknowledges his stomach’s anger for leaving his meager breakfast unfinished.  He closes his eyes again and focuses on his breathing.  He will not worry about the growl.  There’s only so much cream-of-wheat one should be expected to stand.

 

READ ON –>

Series – Characters

JJ

 

Ain’t nobody can tell me they know me.  I din play no game of truth or dare with none of ’em an not one is up in my head.  I come from the streets and don’t act otherwise.  If I say I need the money from that place, you better believe dat.  I may be low; I may be worse than thug.  But I got respect for where I come up from, and don’t think I take it light when I bust a place out for some C-notes.  I’m takin’ care of me and mine.  I do that, then maybe I take care of the hood.

If I end up in jail and leave ’em hungry at’s jus a chance we gotta take.  You try feed a baby and two grown folk on minimum wage without the lights and heat don’t go out cuz you cain’t make bills and rent.  What I got is no options.  Have a newborn get sick and all ribs ain’t an option.

Think you know.  You don’t know this.  Ceeli work before the baby, and started back this laz month.  Back when I was tryin’ to stay straight we got a plan to work opposites.  She work days and I work nights.  Then people wanna bitch when we yell and scream the off chance we be home together.  Like that typa’ shit don’t take its toll.  Junior need sum different.  Ain’t havin’ him raised wit angry all around like we was.

You wanna judge?  Judge dat.  I go to jail, he got no daddy … maybe he still grow up mean.  Still.  Least this way he got a chance.  You wanna judge this?  Tell me what gives you dat right?

Off the Grid

Today the phones went out.  It feels like one of those scary movies where a small town in the sticks is suddenly, and without warning, shut off from the rest of the civilized world.  Because most of the town gets what little internet it has over the phone lines – there’s absolutely no way to get any message to the outside world short of packing up and driving the hour trip to a place where there might be phone or internet.

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