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.
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.
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.
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 –>
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 –>
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 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 –>
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 –>
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 –>
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 –>
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.
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 –>