Sleeping Beauty was left sleeping on a plane
They tried to wake her but couldn’t
so they locked her in for the night
When she got up in the middle of the night
she was completely disoriented
and staggered up the aisle to the bathroom
to take a pee in a tiny little closet
“Where am I?” she kept whining “Where am I?”
Ordinarily Sleeping Beauty did not whine
so you can understand how extraordinary
After finding herself locked in the plane
she sat down in the pilot’s seat
and began pushing buttons and fondling
Suddenly the engines fired up
She taxied that puppy out onto the runway
and radioed the control tower
“Control Tower? This is Sleeping Beauty.
Permission to take off?”
“Yeah, right,” was all they said from the tower
They were smoking a giant doobie
because it was the middle of the night
and it seemed like the planet had stopped spinning
Also they thought someone was joking
until Sleeping Beauty powered up and took off
“Okay, May Day, May Day, we got Sleeping Beauty
circling over Manhattan and don’t know
how to get her down! May Day! May Day!”
“Tell her to splash down in the Hudson River,”
said an unknown voice over the intercom
probably her handsome prince in a rowboat below
“It’s been done before. Don’t worry. Piece of cake.
But next time watch out for the Magic Geese.”
copyright © 2010 by Jerry Ratch
by Michelle Elvy
Inspired by Christian Bell’s This is Not A George Saunders Story
It’s dark in here.
Well what do you expect?
Yeah, I know, it’s just that, sometimes,
I’d like to get out.
It’s your choice.
I mean, I read. I’ve been around.
You’re from Oklahoma.
So they say…
What d’ya mean?
Huh? Never mind, it’s OK: no one remembers
Yeah, but most people remember some
things, don’t they?
Of course, but so do you.
Well, what did you last read?
You said you read, so what do you read
regularly? The NYT?
Do you live under a fucking….?
Never mind. The WSJ?
I once read a book by George Saunders.
That objectivitst writer?
No, he’s not objectivist any more –
he denounced Rand and her neo-cons.
Woah, you do read.
Can’t fit too many books under here, can I?
That Saunders: he’s smart, eh?
Well they don’t call it a genius grant for nothin’.
* * *
Hey, you know what? We should go out.
Well, yeah, don’t you ever think
you might wanna?
Is that a trick question?
Well why not? What are you waiting for?
Turnips? Radishes? No, carrots! Just a
You’re being obtuse. Let’s go meet
Don’t know the local language.
I can teach you. Say ‘bonjour.’
They speak Spanish here?
Good lord, man! This ain’t Spain!
Well how should I know?
Jeez, you’re a regular Eliza Doolittle.
Hey! I’m a guy, dude.
So? still the same idea. Rain in Spain
and all that.
Well I never been to Spain.
That’s not the point.
But I kinda like the music.
You don’t play any music.
Naw, but I used to have a tape deck.
You mean a CD player.
Naw, man, 8-track.
Good lord, you need to get out.
You at least need company under here.
Two can be as a bad as one….
* * *
OK, fine. Play me something.
Anything but your old 8-tracks.
Wait, let’s play Mortal Combat: Annihilation.
You know I hate those games.
Dysfunction, dysfunction, dysfunction is a function.
You are dysfunction.
If dysfunction is a function, then I must be
some kind of ge-ni-us!!
Come on. You’re too alone under here.
* * *
You know, you can make this world
whatever you want it to be.
It’s too dark.
So make a little light.
Can’t — but maybe that guy in that cave
will lend me his torch.
Suit yourself. I’m gonna name my rock,
by the way — call it ‘genius granite’.
You never even read a Saunders book.
So? I got internet, dude.
Come on, I’ll take you to the library.
Well I guess if I gotta go somewhere,
that ain’t a bad first choice. But let’s stop
and eat, too — I’m starvin’, man. But I don’t
eat fast food. Could do with some tapas, though.
Have you been sneaking out?
No, just fancy the idea of tapas… Spain an’ all.
OK, come on, let’s go.
Alright… but I’m a little nervous…
fuck it’s bright out here! …
Oh, look, a daisy!
That’s not a daisy, you idiot.
It’s a jonquil.
What does it matter?
What does it matter?
Talkin’ to Myself ’bout Beets
by Walter Bjorkman
Someone brought up Harvard Beets yesterday,
kinda like Carlin sez
Jumbo Shrimp or Military Intelligence,
the lowly pedestrian source of sustenance to the poor
dressed up for a wedding
sugar to the non-tropical peons,
rough-skinned root, trying to be a flowering ivy
probably got in on a grant
He met up with others in the same situation . . .
they formed an underground covel
and using their contacts in high places
the tubers & roots that had arrived
who had took on proper names
& esteemed positions
The Dartmouth Shallot
The Wellesly Chive
they would secretly meet and put on some music
“Green Onions” by the MGs & Booker T.
plot against the leafy, above-ground powers that be
The esteemed and secretive
So they took over the Bean’s office
and held out for open emissions
which was finally adopted
and caused the need
for college level classes in
The group disbanded and went back underground
The Harvard Beet was found ten years after
In northern New York
On a local committee for better irrigation
The Cornell Carrot went on
to a moderately successful career
as filler for Campbell’s Soups
We all know about Spud’s
humiliating association with Mattel
The others spend the rest of their freshness dates
hangin’ around gumbo joints
listening to Zydeco
There is talk of re-uniting on a concert tour
“Veggies Against Irradiation Degradation”
Parsnip plays a mean gourd on their one hit
“The Root Of The Matter”
God Save The Queen Of Hearts
by Coleen Shin
make it smile, whatever
I’m not asking for a signature
though your name is another country
and laying in the dentist chair, needles seem
a given, the numbing sensation of a could care less
I wanted to count pricks, I thought that’s how it went
like a quill or pen, a subtle maneuver
on soft terrain, the praying mantis, a choice
even the artist tips his hat, scratches his head
remarks that this is the repast of a greening royalty
practically a genius of its genus
I could imagine that, the court costs alone
predates modern litigation, another
off with her head! or his, though minstrels
are so devout, so iconoclastic when it comes
to their craft. I wanted to save you
keep you in a locket warmed by my breast
not queen the bees, or lead the dance
a devotee of public hangings is here at noon
winner of my silver spoon, it is a trick, a trick
of my consort, his council, to make a spectacle
all could see through, find the deadly metaphor
all who do will be free to go, the rest
God help them, there is nothing more
Love Letter from the Last Elephant
by Darryl Price
We hear all the stories
coming right up out of
the dust. We see the same
sky, the same stars. We’ve met
our own deaths forever.
We know what’s happening.
Because of this some of
us will come willingly
to have chains put around
our feet. Some others must
never be anything
but free. This way they can
still lead with their hearts.We
cannot save us. You could
not save yours either as
he was bleached and became
a ghost. There is little
time for this conversation
before the planet
can no longer pronounce
our names correctly. Then
there will be no one to
call us home again by
trumpet or full foot stomp.
It may sound funny to
you but we have tasted
the rain, flowers, grass;
it tastes right, we believe.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”–Aesop
I’m for people.
I’m for mushrooms.
I’m against ants.
Against those snakes
who kill for shade.
for fun. I’m for
comic books and
against snobs who
think art is worth
more than kindness.
I’m for laughing
at the movies,
the oceans out
of their bounty.
I’m for coral
reefs, sharks even,
but against the
what they can prove,
love to argue
to the death.
I’m for loud music,
as the only
I’m for wild trees
and plenty of
them! I’m against
houses being too
I’m for nectoring
could care less
about us humans.
I’m for pictures
of my friends, not
in your own way.
I’m against the
of God. I’m for
a starry night.
I’m against smog
just so we can
make some big cash.
I’m for chewing
gum but I’m against
to attack and
wound. I’m for love
that defends all.
that forgives all,
and includes all.
The only reason
to go to
the stars is to
light extends down
through all our concepts
of why we
are here. Not worth
Ah, shit, Man, she’s a peach. I know her Daddy. Rough son-of-a-bitch. Old though. And rich. She’s standing outside the 7-11, skirt up round her ass. Ripe. She could be a whore but she looks way too classy. Plus she has a huge soda – I’d guess diet – and a Twinkie. I work kitty corner, at the Sunoco and I’ve been watching her since six-thirty. I’m getting off in ten minutes.
I drive the Chevy over, top down. I have to make four rights to get back over there. It’s a pain in the ass. She smiles mad, like she’s been waiting on me for hours.
Want to get a beer? I say.
I’m fifteen, she says.
You don’t look it.
There’s oil stains on my arms and I stink from the heat, but I got Springsteen in the deck – always a winner. Just like that, there she is, sitting right next to me, Her legs open a crack in her little Barbie skirt. All that skin. I’m telling you man; she’s a fucking grade A peach. What man in his right mind wouldn’t?
We park up on the corner of Lafayette and Tenth. The place is still half empty, strip–lit in blue. The bartender looks at me funny.
Rags, he says. And he pours the beers. Oily Rags, that’s what the sons-of-bitches call me in this joint. They’re as close to family as I got, though. I order beers.
The girl’s at the jukebox. The whole damn bar is staring at her ass and she knows it. But she ain’t playing it. She’s put on some goddam sentimental shit. The regulars groan, but when she comes back to the bar she takes the cigarette from my mouth and puts it in her own. She sucks it hard, and she knows what she’s doing. Jesus.
I’m a virgin, she says. Just so you know. I hold her hand and she relaxes a little.
I love Foreigner, I say.
Four beers later and she’s falling through the screen door. I scoop her up, over the couch and I pull up that skirt. I’m still good to go on four beers. My cock is hard. Not that she’d notice either way.
Who’s your Daddy? I say. And I slap her ass.
This Is Not A George Saunders Story
This is not a George Saunders story. It’s not that story “Pastoralia” where people are living in a simulated theme park cave. No, it’s just me living in a cave, and I’m nowhere near as clever as George Saunders. You might be here looking for something else, something more profound or even biting satire of absurdism but, nope, just me in a cave.
If you come by, which I don’t recommend, I’ll be sitting there, staring at a dim crackling fire, listening to Nirvana feedback with my makeshift stereo system. Call this my navel gazing. Call this my whatever you want. If you reach the end and say, I like the conceit of this, I like how he uses himself and George Saunders and so on, you’ve missed the point. Remember, this is not a George Saunders story. It’s just me. In a cave.
Now, here’s the part where I complain. I need a vacation or, ideally, a paid sabbatical, but I am not getting one. So, this is how I ended up in the cave. I’m burned out. Like the flickering flame in my fake cave, my spark is dying out. You’ll read this and refer back to the previous paragraph and you might also be tempted to make a Kurt Cobain connection but don’t do that. Just remember, it’s me in a cave. I need time off. I need a new perspective.
Now this is where I clumsily stumble toward an ending. I turn down the audio graffiti of “Endless Nameless,” a pointless reaction akin to turning down the car radio when you see a traffic accident. I look up at the cave wall and notice previously unnoticed writing in paint. Someone has lived in this cave before, it seems, and has written a narrative. It’s a story about people living in a simulated theme park cave.
But remember this is not a George Saunders story. This is just me living in a cave. I need a vacation. Cobain screams, silence, hear I am, hear I am, silent. The squeal of guitar drowns out voice. You might be looking for something else.
They say we can’t jump, and they’re probably right, but I’ve never tried truth be told.
They say they’re in charge. They say.
They say they believe in conservation, in protection; they want to save the environment. They say.
They make Animal fucking Planet but I never watch it. I’m busy here with too much sun and sky and not enough water for my baby.
They say they love animals, and they got details to prove it. They collect lists. Bulls are colorblind. Butterflies were flutterbies. Polar bears are lefties, snails like to sleep.
Do the details matter? Do the details make them feel better, feel more? Do they recall the massacres, the bodies, the wretched reek of death? Do they know my grief? It’s not in their fact list, but it is real. I am a whale of a being, and I barely exist.
Here’s what matters. I have been here for millennia, my mind stretches across space and time and knows the softest part of skin, the smell of life, the touch of memory, the taste of my mother, the sound of my brother.
Urine is essence. I piss gallons on what they say.
And I never forget.
José Alberto Gomes Pereira
José Alberto Gomes Pereira is the artist behind the VOICES logo. When we came upon Gomes Pereira’s art online, we were struck by the beauty of his drawings, and the way his images speak to storytellers. Now that we’ve met the man, we are convinced he’s as special as they come. Read on about José Alberto Gomes Pereira, and see for yourself.
VOICES: What drew you to your medium, your style, your voice and vision?
Since very young I have started expressing my feelings in words and traces. Drawing was my best way to say what I had inside. I always had my own way of drawing, very unique, and that was a thing that I kept and developed.
Black and white have the strength I need to express my ideas and ideals. I was touched by the words of the French Revolution “ Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. Living in Africa, Mozambique, from 10 to 30 years old, these words had a special meaning for me. I was touched by the people’s soul, the way they lived, and their wish for freedom. My family education with a strong feeling of justice, my love for reading and philosophy studies led me to what I am now: A man that believes that men, women and children are all only one race ,“The Human Race”, without any kind of social, political or religious fundamentalisms.
I live now in Portugal, in a small village named Riachos, where I was born. I have always lived and made my life in big cities like Lourenço Marques (actual Maputo) in Mozambique, or Lisbon. After retiring I decided to come back to Riachos, 120 km from Lisbon. It’s a quiet place to live and the people always had a strong feeling of union. It’s remarkable that in a so small village there are 52 different Associations that maintain tradition and care for creation and innovation. The last one is NAR – Núcleo de Arte de Riachos (Riachos’ Art Nucleus) where I belong as one of the founders.
The traditions allied to the innovations are a great daily inspiration. From the fields planted with olive trees or cereals to the houses where there is always a plot and a garden…we can feel and smell nature just as it is and understand life in different perspectives.
VOICES: You have lived in other places besides Portugal. Where have you felt most at home, and where has your art felt most at home?
I believe that I felt most at home in Africa. I always loved big spaces where you always see the horizon line and can imagine what’s after it. The adventure spirit…the wish for more and more, and different. The unknown and the mystery…
On the other hand, even thinking that my art has some African roots and influences, I believe that it feels more at home in Portugal. I belong to this people and understand very well their needs and dreams.
My art is universal but I am Portuguese. When I paint or draw, I do it as a human being. I feel like one and think like one. Not as Portuguese. Art has no frontiers.
VOICES: Was there a time and place when you decided to become an artist, one moment when you knew this was your calling?
At the age of 16, still in Africa, I did my first wise, intentional and conscious drawings. This was when I had knowledge of what I wanted to do, but could not live on that and had to keep studying. Later I worked in Advertising Agencies as Art Creative and Copy Writer. When I returned to Portugal, in 1974, worked in the same area, in different places, as Art Director until I opened my own Advertising Agency.
My art work was always present and I worked on it every single day, as I still do: working and showing!
VOICES: Who are other artists who have influenced you, or whom you admire?
Nothing that I did or do would be the same if I had not lived in Africa so many years. We are the total of infinite apprenticeship that arrives from various origins. We filter them and take for us only what we want or serves our way. The choices I did for my art are the same I did for my life. This is the binomial art-life, life-art.
I worked with a few artists in Mozambique, such as José Júlio Ferreira, Malangatana Valente, Silva Tavares, and learned from them what I wanted for me — especially techniques, because the rest I had already inside me.
There are many artists that I admire, like Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dali. Also Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Lautrec and so many others. In Riachos, just talking about drawing or painting, there is an artist that I really admire, whose name is Manuel de Sousa Filipe and signs Masofi and is also one of the founders of the Art Nucleus.
VOICES: Can you please tell us a little about All Love Letters Are Ridiculous?
“All Love Letters Are Ridiculous” is one of the 18 drawings that I did, under the name of “Another Look at Pessoa”, as a homage to the great poet Fernando Pessoa, in 2008, to commemorate 120 years from his birth.
These drawings about Pessoa, his life and work, are like poems by themselves. It’s another way of reading Pessoa, written in another language, with another grammar and another visual effect.
Let’s look at part of the poem:
All love letters are
They wouldn’t be love letters if they weren’t
In my time I also wrote love letters
But in fact
Only those who’ve never written
This shows a man that rationalized everything, but we all know that you cannot rationalize feelings and live them at the same time. Either you think about them, and they will look ridiculous, or you live them, feeling in the moon…and doing ridiculous things, as well. Better feel than think. You will feel ridiculous anyway, but alive!…and love is the greatest of all feelings…
This drawing is a hymn to love!
VOICES: Can you please tell us about other of your works that are your favorites?
Talking of these 18 works, I could speak about any of the others and it’s difficult to choose one. Let me talk about one that I did for another artist, a woman that I admire. Her name is Chaline Ouellet and she lives in USA. The story of her parents and her own life inspired me to do this drawing that I called “Riding Life in An Old Red Bicycle”…what she still does!
The size is 72 x 42 cm, and tells the story of a brave family and a wonderful woman with a beautiful heart and a rich sensitive inside, that makes her work more for the others than for herself. Doing this drawing was for me like travelling through some other’s life and be surprised at each new moment. It was a pleasure for me to be able to reach the end…and enjoy it as I do.
VOICES: Thank you, José Alberto Gomes Pereira, for letting our contributors and readers get a glimpse of your art and hear your voice.
A gallery of some of Gomes Pereira’s works can be found in his Facebook album.
Advice from Topeka
(initial version published in Yankee Potroast)
“Never trust nobody & you’ll live a long life.” — Alma Peatree Price
A woman slips a note into a copy of the latest “Reader’s Digest” on sale at a shop at Dallas airport. The note says: “Hi. I’m Muffy. I’m young and gorgeous but lonely. Please write to me!” email@example.com.” Edna Appleby finds the note and responds, as follows:
Dear Miss Muffy:
My name is Edna Appleby, from Topeka, Kansas. My granddaughter, Dotty, bless her heart, gave me that Reader’s Digest with your note in it because she knows how much I love Reader’s Digest, dear. She herself never reads it because she’s a fashion designer in Los Angeles. I’m much older than you, I suspect, and I’m very very concerned you might be slipping this contact information in other magazines and it will fall into the hands of a ax murderer, one with brains enough to figure out where you live. And I know all about ax murderers because Elmo, my uncle by marriage to my sister who never had any sense was one. He done killed six women in a farm outside of Topeka in the space of they say three minutes, including my sister and her bingo friends, because he was a very big horribly strong man with a vial temper and no control at all and ugly as a dungbeetle to boot. And they fried him, thank the Lord, so he’s been getting his just deserts for years.
Your a very lucky young lady, Miss Muffy. I just got this Web TV thing in the mail from my grandson Bobby and my naybor’s son Billy teached me how to use it and I’m having so much fun. Just imagine yesterday I found one of my elementry school classmates what lives in Baton Rouge and she writes me all about little Joey Figs, what used to be class clown, so she tells me all about how he’s been indicated for securities fraud. You never can tell about people I always say which is what you should always be baring in mind, dear, because the world is full of all sorts of terrible people and I don’t know why but the Lord has a reason for everything. Amen.
Now my husband, Willy, who passed away five summers ago, bless his heart, was a good man and he worked hard while the babies came bursting out of me like little popovers. We fed those babies and I took a job in the tire factory and they all growed up in good health except for two who was still born. And except for Elmo and my nasty drunk daddy, I can’t really say I got too many complaints about my life because I was very very careful to never get mixed up with dangerous mean fruitcakes so now I’m ripe as an apple what’s already fallen from a tree, but a little bored but don’t you be telling anyone that.
Maybe you’d like to corespond make a lonely old lady like me happy because the kids and the grandkids don’t write or visit much because their very busy and to tell the truth they try not to speak to me probably because I lost most of my hearing and had to get a hysterectemy, and then decided to go for a sex change, you know life is a bitch when your a woman. Anyways, I look forward to finding out where you live and what you do and whatever else you want to tell me.
From The Doctor, With Love
I am tired, man, beat.
feel like a whiny kid,
are we there yet,
need to sleep!
Don’t know if I can walk
another mile, though you might talk
me into it. ’Cause though I’m
stomped and scuffed,
and have wrinkles and pocks,
you say they’re not wrinkles,
but creases and folds –
you say I have character,
you say I’m not old.
You caress me,
hold me and stroke
the soft spots between my folds.
I love how you touch me,
your hands warm on my shape,
and I know we are bonded
by more than duct tape.
Remember that dog shit?
And the chewing gum?
It’s a hazardous world, but you, old chum,
scraped and washed me clean of all
those insults, every time.
Then came the thinning –
your hair, my sole.
We’re well suited, you and I –
Together, we’re whole.
And though you toss me
in the corner each night,
I feel a surge of affection
the next morning
as you pick me up gently again,
choose me over the Nikes, Adidas
and even those Florsheims
that your mother once bought,
back when you were jobhunting.
You look right past them,
once shiny and loud
now dusty with disuse.
I wait quietly and think,
I am here for you.
We’re both thinner, older,
but you are still you
and I am The Doctor.
And I feel it deep down,
you never say it but I know:
I am not just any old loafer.
* * *(inspired in part by Nettie’s Purse,
and my favorite pair of shoes)
Oh The Power
I made you a flower, but then I
put it back. What I mean is I
decided the best way to give it to
you was to simply leave it alone. Does
it matter if it was stuck in the
ground somewhere or growing in my head? After
all it popped up with your name on
it and I said,”Hey I know her!”
Still it didn’t justify any living thing be
sacrificed to the goddess of the moment. This
is turning out all wrong. Mainly because I
can feel the dreaded them taunting me to
get real, buddy. What they mean, what they
always mean, is to just conform. Be like
us or die away from us.Doesn’t matter
either way. They’ll rewrite history and there’s nothing
you can do about it. I’m just really
glad right now that flowers don’t trade in
such utter nonsense.They laugh out loud. They
dance around in the wind and mirror the
sun’s moves step for step.And they’re kind
and good listeners to boot. They don’t judge.
I can leave them. What they tend to
remember is the way you moved among them.
Darryl Price 031610
The Invite & Reply
To: Miss Nettie as she told me later.
“Dear Miss or Mrs or Ms Nettie and kin I never know what to be called these days,
Eddie says he talked to some friend of yours why I don’t know and she said you got stories about ya an that ya should come over to Granma’s and with friends and something about a table.
The address is Brooklyn we are up the street from where I work 236 31st Street Qwik-Bake not that its at that address its where I live not work.
Sunday is good for us there might be some saturday pie left over if Eddie and his friend Sid dont get to it first but they wont because they are not comin over unless they do.
Marzy, Eddie’s Gal
Dear Marzy, Eddie’s gal (you should git that tattooed on your hipbone or back if you haven’t already):
I would loooove to come over and tell stories as long as y’all got stories to tell, too — like a swap meet. Stories and Saturday pie on Sunday — yum.
Miss Nettie (Miss is fine because it’s too late for me now to become a Mrs.)
Just An Observation
Mabel Honeycutt is a character who has yet to find a home in a story. So far, her story is told in snippets: some sound like poems, some sound like songs, some like diary entries. The story will come.
Mabel Honeycutt pt. 1 (Mabel & Sadie)
My sister Sadie got off work early.
We sat at the kitchen table, talkin.
She asked about my lipstick.
The one she said was the color of dried blood.
I told her I got it from a drugstore back home.
She wanted to try it, so I let her. It looks good on her.
I told her to keep it. I have another tube.
Nettie is a character and so is her purse. This is a silly short story I wrong a long, long time ago – probably seven years ago.
Nettie has only one purse. It is big and brown and bulges. Nettie keeps some of everything in that purse. It is not a lie.
If James, the always-fixing-things-boy down the street, needed a screwdriver because he didn’t know where his had got to, Nettie would reach down in that magic hat of a purse of hers and pull one out. And if James said, “Naw, wait, I need a wrench,” she’d have that, too!
Nettie has some of everything in that purse and everybody knows it. Sometimes, when she is busy in the pantry or the bathroom, and some neighbor or some relative is sitting in her kitchen, they might ask, “Nettie, you got fifty cent I could use?” and Nettie would holler, “My purse is on the sofa; I know I have some change in there somewhere. Dig through it.”
One time her neighbor asked, “Nettie why do you have a knife in your purse?”
Nettie said, “In case someone has an orange to cut …”
Another time Nettie’s aunt Demetra asked her, “Nettie, why do you have buttons in your purse?”
Nettie just laughed. She has needles and thread (from buttercup yellow to dark green), too, in that big, brown purse.
And what a big (and heavy!) purse it is. When she got on the bus the other day, she knocked a lady over with it and the lady shouted, “You got a sack of flour in that purse or something?”
“She just might,” said a man that Nettie knew (he was drunk at the time. He is always drunk) and the whole bus erupted with laughter. The bus driver was choking from laughing so hard.
“She’s got a radio in there, too,” the drunk man continued, “and the Bible.”
“And a pail of holy water!” the bus driver added.
“She got everything in that purse. She’s going to put Marty’s Supermarket out of business,” a young girl chimed in. Her mother, laughing, tapped her hand and said, “Be quiet!”
“I should have made you pay fare for that purse,” the bus driver laughed.
And all the passengers had tears coming out of their eyes and streaming down their faces from laughter.
“Nettie, now I know you got tissue in that purse,” said the drunk man that knew Nettie.
And Nettie, of course, reached down in her purse and pulled out a new box of tissue. She handed the box to the closest person to her and it was passed around. While the people dried their eyes and blew their noses, Nettie pulled out a magazine and read all the way to her stop.
“That purse is going to kill somebody one day,” another man said after Nettie got off the bus.
“Can you describe the suspect?” the bus driver asked.
Someone in the back yelled out, “Yes, I can, sir. Let’s see, she was, uh, big and, uh, brown!”
The people on the bus roared with laughter as the bus rode on.
“Ah, that purse is going to be famous one day,” the bus driver said, but nobody heard because everybody was laughing so loud.
But laughing doesn’t bother Nettie none.
Everywhere she goes, the purse goes, too. Nettie is always dragging that purse around, lugging it around as though it is a baby too old be carried and should be walking.
Nettie Leaves for New York
South of Somewhere, Alabama
Nettie and her purse and her drunk friend Snow and Snow’s work buddy Zee (short for Zed which is short for Zeddy which is short for Zedadiah) are in Snow’s long mustard colored car for the long drive to New York.
The only reason Nettie asked Snow to come is because she needed his car. She can’t drive, never learned to drive. And Snow only drives his car when he’s going somewhere far and New York is far-far. Snow invited Zee to come along to help drive. Nettie hopes Ed and his gal don’t mind the extra company.
Nettie and her purse take up most of the back seat. All she is bringing with her is stuffed in that big brown suitcase of a purse of hers. And Zee tried to squeeze back there with her because he’s sweet on her even though he’s married. Nettie made like there was not enough room. Zee made like he wasn’t going to go to New York but Snow tells him, “There are mo’ finer gals than Nettie in new york city,” and Zee hopped in the front seat so fast he almost slammed his leg in the door.
“They may be prettier, but they ain’t gonna want y’all,” Nettie says from the back seat.
“You will always be the prettiest to me,” Zee says, turning around to face Nettie who was sitting behind the driver’s side.
“Humph,” Nettie says, moving to sit behind the Passenger’s seat.
“Once you see them gals in New York, you will forget about Nettie, Zee,” Snow, starting up the engine, says. “Her purse gets more attention than her.”
Zee laughs at that and then they are off. Before the car can even turn onto the main street, Nettie is out cold in the backseat. Her head on the seat, her purse as her pillow.
Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn . . .
“Eddie, roll over, hon, your bony knee is right in my gut an ya know I’m trying to watch my waist, my tight pants are getting tight an tell me howd’ya come to get Nettie and friend to come here? An how didya meet? I gotta worry ’bout her an you?”
“Marzy, sweets, oof – now your knee is in my never-no-mind, ouch! tell me why we can’t get more than a twin in here.”
” Cause if crazy lanlady Baumgartner sees me movin in a big bed she’ll know you been stayin’ here most nights an’ have to pay more rent an I tole ya that already moron and why did ya ask them you dont know them and how did ya come to? She planted that palm tree out front an when it started to die in the winner she brought out heating pads an when that dinnit work she just said she spent the summer in Miami Beach and you didn’t know they are in Ala BAMA comin’ all they way up here for just Sunday dinner and what’s this about Saturday pie? you know Granma bakes on Sundays I meant Baumgartner not Nettie who could grow one in Alabama.”
“I read one of Nettie’s stories and it was so funny I just said it would be cool for her to come to Granma’s and she jumped on it, I didn’t know she was way down south and not here in Brooklyn. And Nettie’s gotta be closer to 50, 55 than your 39 and my 24″
“A-hole, you know I’m not a day over 36 and you’re 26 an why do ya always bring that up do we need booze?”
“Marz its 6 am on Saturday, I don’t want a drink, let’s go back to sleep, or some . . .you know, slide the firepole?’”
“OOOOFFFF – that knee was no accident”
“I gotta bake some Saturday pie is why.”
Mabel Honeycutt is a character who has yet to find a home in a story. So far, her story is told in snippets: some sound like poems, some sound like songs, some like diary entries. The story will come.
Mabel Honeycutt pt. 2 (Mabel’s Uncle Zeb tells her about Daddy & Baby)
There was no love like the love between
Thaddeus “Daddy” Wells & Barbra “Baby” Simms.
They went by Daddy & Baby.
Baby came home one day.
Found Daddy on the flo’. Thought he was sleep,
but he was worse than sleep. Dead.
& what did Baby go do?
She ran down to the river
and jumped in.
That’s love, boy, I tell ya.
Grandma Holmes’ Confusion
These are the first few paragraphs of a story I wrote two years ago. I am rereading it and laughing at myself and wondering why I wrote this story. I think a sign I saw posted in a closed down gas station sparked the idea.
Grandma Holmes’ Confusion
Any other time Grandma Holmes would threaten to beat Mary-Helen if she came running into the kitchen slamming the screen door behind her, but this is the third time today that Mary-Helen let the screen door slam and Grandma Holmes didn’t say a word. Not even a “I done told y’all about slamming that damn door!”
Mary-Helen wasn’t even worried, either. Usually she’d cover her mouth and say “Oops” while waiting for Grandma Holmes to say something. She knew something wasn’t quite right with Grandma, but she wasn’t going to go check on her. She was happy to be getting away with something and not being bothered. Grandma could’ve been dead in her room and Mary-Helen would have went on about her business, playing and running in and out of the house. But Mary-Helen’s sister Rosa-Lee knew what it was that was causing Grandma Holmes’ change in attitude.
Because this is the fifth time today that Grandma Holmes let something slide. And Rosa-Lee knew of only one thing could make you go from cranky to nice in a heartbeat. She wasn’t even making them clean up or nothing and Rosa-Lee knew why that was, and in the middle of the kitchen she told Mary-Helen why, she said, “It’s love — simple as that.”
And Mary-Helen laughed till she hiccupped, slapped her knee till it hurt.
“She may be in love, but who in their right mind gone be in love with Grandma Holmes?” Mary-Helen said after she was done laughing and hiccupping.