February 23, 2015 Comments Off on OZZIE By Paul Beckman
Ozzie entered the hospital at eleven PM, three hours after visiting hours ended. He was allowed past the reception desk and given directions to his mother’s room after showing his I.D.
Ozzie removed his backpack as he entered the dimly lit room and started walking over to give his tubed-up mother a kiss on her forehead but stopped when he noticed her covers had been kicked off and her gown was open revealing her private area.
He took a seat near the door even though there was a chair next to the bed. He opened his backpack and took out a stack of letters. He held them on his lap and stared at his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in over a year. He’d been traveling doing unnamed jobs for an unnamed company and just last week picked up his mail.
His eyes unwillingly kept going back to the dark thick patch between his mother’s legs as the monitors kept up their staccato pace. He selected a letter but didn’t open it. It was the letter making him her sole beneficiary and giving him the power to decide her fate should an occasion such as this arise. She said that she wanted a quality of life, and he thought it an odd phrase for someone who’d never had much quality to her life.
She lived a solitary existence in a tiny apartment on a small pension from the sewing factory and her social security check. She took no help, in fact, never cashed any of the checks he sent. Their relationship was not so much contentious as it was benign.
As he sat there, Ozzie had the feeling that his mother’s head, what he could see of it, was shrinking, and her privacy was growing. Now that the morning sun was coming up he could see it was streaked with gray.
Around six Ozzie was still sitting in the chair when a nurse walked into the room. She straightened out his mother’s gown and sheets and checked her vital signs and feeding tube. After that, she sat on the edge of the bed, took his mother’s hand, and spoke to her for a few minutes, telling her about her previous night’s dinner and TV shows she’d watched.
When she got up to leave she saw him sitting in the shadows. “Ozzie?” she asked.
“Your mother will be so glad you’re here. You’re the only person she ever talked about.”
“How long since she’s spoken?” he asked
“Quite a few months,” she said. “Actually, it’s been almost a year.”
Less than an hour later Ozzie walked out of the hospital.
© 2014 Paul Beckman
Paul Beckman used to be a Realtor, Air Traffic Controller, Saloon Keeper, Pin Setter, Numbers Runner & many other things. These days he’s a Zeyde who writes, travels, and takes pictures both above and beneath the water. He’s been published at Metazen, Connotation Press, Existere, Molotov Cocktail, and Pure Slush among others. http://www.paulbeckmanstories.com
November 10, 2014 Comments Off on Sister vs. Sister By Paul Beckman
My wife, Elaine, and I were taking our early evening walk, Elaine pumping her arms and me taller with longer strides keeping up when we heard the yelling. We turned left on Baybrook to see what was going on.
We saw the school before we saw the yellers. It was the rear of Our Lady of Blood Parochial school. The paved playground was surrounded by a chain link fence with vertical privacy boards that were spaced far enough apart for us to peek through. There was a cluster (gaggle?) of nuns spread out in a wide circle surrounding two who were duking it out in the center. There was one elderly nun sitting.
We broke our “no stopping” rule and watched.
“Do you think they make a habit of this?” Elaine asked.
“Check out the superior look on the one sitting,” I said.
The fighters wore boxing gloves and their habits; the headpiece of one was tilted — about ready to topple off her head — and the gloves were comically large, much larger with padding than standard boxing gloves. These two were not in the same weight class either. One was short and squat, and the other, the one with the tilted headpiece, was string bean tall.
Also, they weren’t the ones yelling; it was their audience, their Sisters as it were. Sister Beanpole pounded down with a right atop Sister Squat’s head, as if she was wielding a sledgehammer, and knocked her headpiece off. She then hit her again on top of the head.
“Do you think they do this religiously?” I asked, beating Elaine to the punch line.
Sister Squat turned her back and then spun around and hit Sister Beanpole with a roundhouse right to the body that knocked her into a trio of Sisters standing off to one side.
Sister Squat then raised both her stubby arms over her head in victory and Sister Beanpole walked slowly over and gave her opponent a congratulatory hug as some of the others took money from their pockets and paid those who were standing with their palms held open.
Arm in arm the fighters stood as their Sisters lined up two abreast behind them, and when the fidgeting and talking stopped, the older nun who had been seated nodded her head and the Sister fighters led the group back into the school.
© 2014 Paul Beckman
Paul Beckman used to be a Realtor, Air Traffic Controller, Saloon Keeper, Pin Setter, Numbers Runner & many other things. These days he’s a Zeyde who writes, travels, and takes pictures both above and beneath the water. He’s been published at Metazen, Connotation Press, Existere, Molotov Cocktail, Pure Slush, and The Brooklyner among others. You can find him at www.paulbeckmanstories.com