A broken man lives on my street

Years ago, he made a mistake in the name of love. He still remembers when he was the sun and she was the moon. Now he reads the news reports about global warming and believes down to his marrow that Earth’s problems are his fault.

He told me not to reveal his name because people would say, “Well, that old man is full of himself, thinking he has or ever had the power to play a role in climate change.” Naturally, a few people would believe him and they’d kill him or put him in a home (he’s not sure which of those fates is the worst.)

The year it began, there was a war on. People were crazy, wild, prepared to live on the edge before they were sent to the front. So, he met a girl who claimed beneath the starry sky on an October night that her true name was Mother Nature. He didn’t believe her then because Mother Nature was a figure of speech and if she wasn’t a figure of speech, why would she want him when there were plenty of kings and queens and Hollywood celebrities available?

“You have a heart of gold,” she told him. She must have known he had always wanted a heart of gold or that he was otherwise susceptible to the feminine wiles of any lady who noticed the guy with the Coke bottle glasses who had never been on a date.

They became lovers. He told me that she taught him everything he knows about love and sex but that now he’s too old to use any of that information. Their daughters were hurricanes and their arguments were droughts, but heaven help him, he was addicted to her charms and her power.

Their liaisons were secret. They met in sheltered rooms and other uncertain places. While both of them wanted to go dancing, have wonderful meals at fine restaurants, partake of Broadway plays and theme parks, her power and beauty attracted too much attention. So they hid in the backs of rental cars and met behind abandoned buildings.

“She was my heroin,” he told me, “but I didn’t care until I finally understood that she was not truly a human woman and that she was transforming me (without malice) into an inhuman man. No man can sleep with a goddess and remain unscathed. If you read mythology, you know that.”

So he broke it off.

She went after him with global warming inasmuch as she wasn’t used to men turning her away before they died in her bed. Today he looks out the window at the endless rain and wonders what any sane man would have done in his shoes even though he feels certain he’s too broken to be sane. He’s thinking about going back to her since that’s the only thing he knows that will stop her fury.

“If I could turn the clock back to the day we met,” he said, “I wouldn’t change a thing. That proves I’m just as crazy as everyone else who looks back on the stupid things they did when they were young and knows they’d do it all again if they could.”

The last time I drove by his house on the way to town, I saw him sitting on his front porch with a cigarette and a Mason jar of moonshine. He was waiting for her even though he knew she would be the death of him.

Most of us would be, wouldn’t we? Our mistakes have become our fondest memories.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism novels and short stories, including the recently released “Widely Scattered Ghosts.”

 

 

 

Mother Nature Must be on Pot

Mother Nature is acting stoned. Must be too much grass or perhaps it’s weed cut with oregano.

Otherwise, what’s with Florida-style rain storms every other day? We have about three acres of grass (not pot) to cut, but Mother Nature is making that hard to keep them mowed.

Pick a day, any day. Okay, Monday, then.

  • The grass is high, but too wet to mow. I decide, after all, tomorrow’s another day.
  • That night, a monsoon parks on top of the ancient oaks in the front yard. As God is my witness, I’ll never be dry again.
  • Two days later, the grass is dry (sort of) so I mow some of it. It’s slow going because it’s higher than the house. How fickle is Mother Nature?
  • The following day it (the sky, the clouds, evil spirits) rains because we’ve seen clouds from all sides now.
  • We mow for 20 minutes before lighting hits the riding mower. We decide to go inside where the cats are hiding under the bed.  Great balls of fire. Don’t bother me anymore, Mother Nature, and don’t call me sugar.
  • A guy with a hay bailer stops at the front door to ask if we need help. I ask if he bails hay (weed, pot, fescue) into rectangular bails bound with bailing wire. He says nobody does that anymore. Here’s the thing, I say. I can’t pick those hay rolls up without a tractor. He says he’ll bring a tractor and take them away for $100 a roll. To hell with that.
  • More rain.
  • Finally, we cut some of the grass (not pot) but due to its height, we have to move the deck of the mower as high as it will go. This means that as soon as we’re done, it looks like it’s time to cut the grass again. Unfortunately, we’ve been mowing in the dark using the mower’s headlights and we really do need some sleep. Frankly, says, Mother Nature, I don’t give a damn.
  • If we could smoke this stuff, we wouldn’t care.
  • Okay, now we’re back to square one. The grass is high, but too wet to mow. I decide tomorrow is another day.

Malcolm

“Lena” will be released in 27 days.

 

A Frank Conversation With Mother Nature About the Rain

Me: Baby Cakes, I want to talk about the rain. There’s been so much of it.

Mother Nature: Frank, what the hell are you saying? Malcolm is the only man on the planet allowed to call me “Baby Cakes.”

Me: My name isn’t “Frank.” I’m speaking frankly.

MN: I thought only Frank could speak frankly just as I’m the only one who can speak mother naturedly.

Me: English is a strange language.

More rain today

MN: Look, Toots–I hope it’s okay to call you “Toots” for old time’s sake–global warming is tangling up the planet’s cycles of heat and cold, rain and sun, and Coke vs. Pepsi.

Me: The rain, though, is keeping me from mowing the yard. Soon, the grass will be so high I’ll tear up the mower trying to cut it.

MN: Your writer friend Smoky wants you to get sheep to handle the grass cutting duties.

Me: Sheep, quite frankly, are just too sheepish.

MN: That sounds like something a guy named Frank would say.

Me: The thing is, sheep are more expensive than a lawn mower.

MN: That’s probably true. Nonetheless, I’m working hard to get the planet under control, and that’s not easy to do when–too put it frankly–so many people don’t mind p_ssing in their own pools and s_itting where they eat.

Me: Well said, Baby Cakes.

MN: What time do you get off work?

Me: I’m married. We can no longer meet behind the barn like we did when I was in college.

MN: Barns have changed since then, what with the hay being made a mess with pesticides and GMO tinkering. Maybe you can do something about that. Next time you update your blog, say something about the clowns who think climate change doesn’t exist, that fast food is really food, and that mayo should be slathered all over a hamburger.

Me: If I say something about climate change, will you give me a sunny afternoon and evening so I can mow the yard?

MN: Toots, I’m working on it. If only you weren’t married: we could make beautiful weather together.

Me: Aw, shucks, Baby Cakes, you’re making me cry.

MN: Me, too, and my tears are what you call rain.

Me: Oops.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s new short story is now live in Kindle, Kobo and iTunes.