Patterns By Richard Hartwell

April 11, 2013 Comments Off on Patterns By Richard Hartwell

I sit here, staring at the stains on the carpet, waiting for pictures to appear in their patterns. I know they will. Not when I squint my eyes or fog my vision, but when, with the intense focus of concentration, I will them to. I wonder what will come out tonight, hyenas again, or the lions of last week? Perhaps those bats with the heads of famous writers and artists that came to me for the first time last month.

When they come, they don’t seem to adhere to any schedule or routine. They don’t seem to be prompted by anything specific or, necessarily, repeatable. I wonder what the smell of bananas will recall?

Now they are back, crawling forth from the carpet, filling the living room, crowding the evening like so many cocktail-party goers.

From this, I segue to a recollection of Tina, Lee, and the visiting DeRosas, all attired in Mafioso black, complete with dark glasses, and all boarding the northbound passenger train in Gilroy, headed for a weekend in San Francisco, as if it was some upscale stylish in-thing. If it was, it was lost on the denizens of the Mexican bars and brothels at the south end of town. It was probably too early and/or too blurry, judging by the shadows, for any of them to notice how not fabulous it was anyway, the Mexicans as well as Tina, Lee, and the DeRosas: one drunken group on hand to wish bon voyage to another.

And where was I while all of this was happening? You see, I only have this single photograph, capturing with delight this convivial party of travelers. I was not present, probably never invited, not that I would have condescended to attend anyway, but where was I while this perfect outing was being captured on film? I was home, probably, planning what would be a night of drunken, boisterous carousing in delight of spring or summer or something and in spite of moral or familial conventions. We were all nothing if not predictable. And to think, I was not even related to Lee or the DeRosas and only connected to Tina by the thinnest stream of blood. . .

© 2013 Richard Hartwell

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California.  He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity.  Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.

Shadows by Richard Hartwell

February 21, 2013 Comments Off on Shadows by Richard Hartwell

Shadows are sneaky.  They don’t always let you in on their secrets, and they don’t always cooperate.  I know all of this because I have been teaching my grandson the Robert Louis Stevenson nursery rhyme I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.

Te’Juan, the grandson, has caught on pretty well.  He loves to walk with his, our, shadow in front of us in the late afternoon.  It is so big then.  He jumps and then comes down hard, much as to say, “Gotcha!”  When we turn around to walk back to the house, he constantly checks behind himself to make certain his shadow is still there and has not wandered off and left him.  So far, he hasn’t been disappointed, at least about shadows.

There is a downside to all this though.  The other night, with no moon out and only a few stars visible, Te’Juan had no shadow.  This was not of tremendous concern, but I did watch him spin around in a couple of circles looking at the ground.  There was no companion there, but since grandpa was still nearby, he guessed things were all right still.  It’s nice to be appreciated, even subtly.  Perhaps Te’Juan was on to something when he turned around to find his shadow gone.  He’s not too young to realize that we spend half our lives alone, without a shadow, without a connection to the reality that is us, alone.

© 2012 Richard Hartwell

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California, with his wife of thirty-six years (poor soul, her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife along with their two children, and eleven cats. Yes, eleven! He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large, and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.

Vengeance by Richard Hartwell

August 9, 2012 Comments Off on Vengeance by Richard Hartwell

Her mother had everything well in hand. She knew just how to get payback. The house was prepared, set up for vengeance.

Sheila, her father’s secretary, had been invited to hold her fete in her superior’s home. It had been good enough for Eisenhower last year on his campaign swing through California; it was good enough for her. She was in the guest bedroom, knowledgeable of what Penny’s mother had planned, as she had played and was to play an integral part. She was quite a bit older than Penny, a little bit prettier, and considerably more worldly-wise. Sheila was preparing for the inevitable end to her day.

Penny, meanwhile, was trying to track down her father. She had tried the pool house, the mother-in-law house, the tool shed, the woodshop, the gardens at the bottom of the property, but all to no avail. The cook, Tee — old school as it sounds — had everything well in hand in the kitchen. She had not seen the head-of-house either. No one had seen him, although Sheila knew exactly where he was.

The midnight screaming had been like two gulls contesting a seal corpse and Antarctica had nothing over the cold breakfast silences during the past month. She had asked both parents, together and separately, what was the matter. “Nothing, dear.”  “Everything’s fine sweetie.”  “Don’t trouble you little head.”  These responses continued from both, individually and communally.

Her father seemed to be the quieter of the two, but Penny couldn’t get any feeling from him as to the nature of the ongoing conflict. It was basically the same with her mother as well, but occasionally Penny would catch her mother humming to herself, almost pleasantly, and this morning Penny saw her mother smiling, actually smiling!  She wanted to ask her father about this, but so far she had been unable to locate him.

Her mother continued to fuss around the house: straightening this, stacking that, removing thus and so. Penny tracked her diligently but could learn nothing by her mother’s movements.

Still fatherless, Penny grappled with the task of finding him before the culmination of whatever plan her mother envisioned. Penny made the loop of the pool and house and yard again. Nothing. She checked the tool shed and woodshop. Nothing. She checked the garage. Her father’s car was still there. It was fast getting on to four.

She heard her mother yelling for her from the kitchen telling her to get ready. She heard her yell twice and knew there wouldn’t be a third time without consequence. Penny scrambled back to the house to ready herself.

Five o’clock arrived and all was ready. The wedding march started. Penny made a glum, sullen flower girl, dashing petals left and right. Two bridesmaids followed Penny, also employees of her father’s firm. Sheila, escorted by Penny’s father from the guest room, slowly stepped down the hall and into the living room. Cheeks were flushed. Hers as well as his. A bride was given away that day — to Nathan, an up-and-coming junior executive her mother had introduced Sheila to at the country club. Penny found her father; her father lost his secretary, and Sheila gained a husband.

The plan had worked to perfection, and Penny’s mother was radiant through it all, slowly twisting her wedding ring back and forth on her finger.

© 2012 Rick Hartwell

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember, the hormonially-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California, with his wife of thirty-six years (poor soul, her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife and their two children, and twelve cats. Yes, twelve! He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.

Airplane Guy by Richard Hartwell

February 27, 2012 Comments Off on Airplane Guy by Richard Hartwell

Two, or perhaps three, times now I have recalled the next-door neighbor at 1010 Chevron Court in Pasadena (amazing how I have filed away certain addresses from my childhood and yet cannot remember names) and how he used to make miniature airplanes from pine wood. These were carved and glued, and either painted brightly or in the olive drabs, the grays and blues of wartime bombers and fighters, with unit and national insignia detailed in fine brush strokes. Most would easily fit on this page and were delicate without appearing insubstantial. The neighbor used to let us kids hold and “fly” most of these; only a select few were reserved as untouchables. I didn’t then, but now I wonder why? I wonder what his “story” was. Was he ever in military service? Which side? Was he associated with planes in any way? How did he come by this knowledge? I remember that all of us kids held him in high regard. I have a vague recollection of going over there one time and being informed (I have no recall as to how or by whom) that he, the next-door neighbor, the “airplane guy,” was dead and that we wouldn’t be able to come over anymore and see the planes. I wonder if his planes survived his death and his family? It doesn’t really matter though, for I remember them, and him.

© 2011 Richard Hartwell

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school English teacher living in Southern California with his wife of thirty-five years (poor soul; her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife and their two children, and eleven cats.  Yes, eleven!  He has previously been published in: Midwest Literary Review, The Stray Branch, Flashquake, PigeonBike, Steam Ticket, Burnt Bridge, Indigo Rising, Lowestoft Chronicle, Thoughtsmith, The Rainbow Rose, Catapult to Mars, The Camel Saloon, The Shine Journal, Candidum, Red Poppy Review, and others, both print and e-zine.  When not writing he wishes he were still pushing plywood in Coquille, Oregon.

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