Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Shorties: Number 31

Imagine a 13 girl who was kidnapped and held against her will.  She is forced to have sex 8-10 times per night.  Sex trafficking is scourge upon this planet.  It is the fastest growing organized crime in the world.  There are so many things that could be said but I want you to see into the eyes of one trapped in this world.  Imagine her thoughts:


Fear and disbelief.  That’s the only way to describe the first few days.  My friend and I were walking home when a van pulled up and asked for directions.  The man seemed so genuine.  We stood at a distance and my friend gave the directions but the man kept saying he couldn’t hear her.  Finally, we stepped closer.  It all happened so fast.  The door slid open and two men jumped out and grabbed.  We both screamed but, in an instant, we were pulled to the van.  The man who grabbed my friend held a hand over her mouth, muffling her screams. The one who had me punched me in the face two times.  I was stunned and couldn’t do anything else.  I was just limp.  Then his voice filled me with dread.  He said, “If you don’t shut up, I will personally kill your family.  I know where you live and it will be easy, so shut up.”

The first night, we were together.  As scary as it was, we had each other.  We both cried a lot.  Being together helped us get through it.  When they made us take off our clothes.  We both cried as they looked at us with hungry eyes.  I was filled with fear.  Would we be raped?  Not raped by these guys but they touched us.  My skin crawls thinking about it.  It was a game to them.  They laughed as they rubbed themselves against us.  So disgusting!

The night I lost my virginity cannot be blocked from my mind.  Chained to a bed and drugged, I still knew what was happening.  I hoped I wouldn’t feel anything.  I can’t stop feeling it.  It makes me feel like putrid garbage.  I can’t get images out or my head. 

I’m so helpless.  It seems just a few days ago all I cared about was how many people followed me on Snapchat and Pintrest. God, I just wish this nightmare was over but I have no hope of getting out of here.  I’m chained or locked in a room.  The girl I’m with now has been here for more than a year.  She doesn’t talk.   She often screams in her sleep.  It scares me so.  They are just horrible.  Since, I’m chained to my bed and drugged, I can’t do anything. 

When she does talk, she talks about girls who were here that committed suicide.  She has told me about 32.  Are there really that many?  I don’t know.  But I wonder what they do with the bodies.  Are they buried?  Do their parents ever know what happened?  May she didn’t have parents who loved her.  Mine loved me and I love them.  What if I never see them again?  I am just another nameless, faceless piece for them to satisfy themselves.  I think I’ve had some guys choose me again.  I’m not positive.  I’m getting better at blocking it all out.  The drugs help.  I’m just letting them do their work.  I’m not getting out of here anyway. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Shorties: Number 30

This is a excerpt of my short story, Joy

Suddenly Bobby felt it.  He stopped and grabbed his crotch and ran to his father.  Seeing the universal sign for, “I gotta pee!” the two ran for the nearest toilet.  Dad was happy his son was out of the habit of simply whipping it out whenever the need arose.  If only he would stop waiting until he had to do the “Potty Dance” before he noticed the call of nature.
An hour later it was time to eat.  Bobby had things to do and did not want to eat.  His new friend called out to Bobby as he walked with his parents to a picnic table, “Just eat two bites and come back.”  Kneeling on the bench, Bobby took the first bite of his two bites when the flavor of the warm fried chicken reminded him of his hunger.  His parents knew he was hungry since he wasted no time munching bite after bite.  Once his stomach was satisfied and thirst quenched, Bobby jumped down intending to return to his friend.  Then he heard his mother’s voice, “Hold on a minute.”
Suddenly, he felt her hands pulling him to her.  She pulled out wipes and began cleaning his hands and face.  For little boys, getting your hands washed was one thing.  Why did moms want to scrub skin off a boy’s face?  They kept wiping and scrubbing.  It was torture. 
Once the cleaning was complete, Bobby raced to where he last saw his friend.  He wasn’t there.  Bobby then darted from spot to spot searching for his friend.  He saw him eating at a picnic table and felt dejected.  When he spotted dad walking toward him, he felt a big smile come to his face.  Mom was cleaning up the picnic table.  That meant he and dad could play.  Dad, using his big scary voice, let out a roar.  Bobby smiled and roared back at him.  Upon hearing Bobby’s roar, dad recoiled in mock fear.  Bobby stalked forward toward his prey, hands lifted and curled like claws.  When Bobby got close enough, dad sprung forward, snatched his son and lifted him to the air.  The boy squealed with delight. 
Dad said, “I’m still hungry.  Little boy sandwiches are just what I need.”  Then he pulled Bobby close and pretended to nibble his arms, legs, and neck.  Each spot tickled the boy and he squirmed and laughed uncontrollably.  He loved when his parents did this to him even though dad’s beard felt scratchy on his tender skin.  So it went for a few more minutes until mom arrived.  It was time to leave.  
Bobby had thoroughly enjoyed his time at the park.  It couldn’t end now.  A great sadness erupted within him and spilled out tears down his cheeks.  He felt anger the happy moments were being taken away.  He wailed as his father carried him to the car.  Dad softly said, “It’s ok buddy.  We’ll come back.”
About 30 minutes into the ride home, Bobby was fast asleep.  Dad looked at him from the rear view mirror and he smiled.  Whispering to his spouse, he said, “Look at him.”  She turned and smiled.  “He’s a little angel, our little bundle of joy.”

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Blind Beggar: Part XXIII.1

Do to a kind friend resharing some chapters to this story, I see this one never was posted.  I am embarrassed and apologize.  Here it is:

For weeks, both Boulos and Amal were miserable.  Boulos made no further attempts at finding a way to contact his love.  Amal tried to live her life as best she could and not think about her love.  Boulos, ever attentive to his work, was frequently distracted.  Amal, the dutiful mother and wife, seemed forgetful.  What they wanted to forget would not leave their minds.
Alone each night, Boulos fled from his mind which chased after him with accusations.  His life was worthless.  Being nice to people meant nothing at all.  People didn’t see him.  He didn’t matter.  The only brightness in his life was Khalid, his work partner, and Charles.  Boulos and Khalid formed a solid work partnership.  Each knew what the other would do during the work day and the day was normally seamless.  Boulos was grateful for Khalid’s patience.

Charles kept his promise to be a friend to Boulos.  Most days after Boulos returned to his apartment after work, Charles would knock on the door and the two men would talk and have coffee.  More than anything, Boulos appreciated that Charles treated him like a person.  Typically, their time together was not more than an hour but Boulos appreciated the effort.  He realized Charles could go home after work.  He had a wife and child at home.  Still, Charles considered Boulos important enough to make the effort to demonstrate genuine concern and caring.  Charles was the first person to care since his uncle died.  Amal was the only other one since his parents died.

From time to time, Charles would mention things about his Christian faith.  Sometimes it made Boulos feel uncomfortable.  Sometimes the words were soothing.  Eventually, Boulos realized he was moving forward with life.  He felt he would be ok.

One early evening, Amal stood on the deck and watched the sunset.  The breeze was soft and colors striking.  In that moment, she wished she could share the moment with someone so she called her family to see it.  Her husband grumbled as he went to the balcony.  Said, who was trying to learn to be a man, followed his father’s example.  Her girl, Adeline, was happy to see the beauty of the moment. 

Once the boys left, the girls observed the sun sinking to the Mediterranean.  Amal prompted Adeline to describe the scene.  The girl had trouble finding the words for what she saw.  Hoping to finally have someone to share this love of hers, Amal asked Adeline what a particular cloud formation looked like.  Adeline puzzled over the cloud, turning her head from one side to another.  Finally, her eyes registered recognition.  Beaming, she said, “It looks like a two fish swimming.”

Amal turned and looked.  Where were there two fish?  She tilted her head to one side and the other.  Then Adeline started laughing.  Amal swooped her daughter up into her arms and fell back into a chair.  She placed the girl on her lap and the two sat watching the sunset.  Adeline continued describing shapes she saw but Amal was lost in thought.  She imagined writing down her sunset descriptions.  The thought ruminated as Adeline talked.  Perhaps Amal had a way to express herself.  Maybe, it could provide relief for her tender heart. 

Shorties: Number 29

This is not a feel good write.  It describes horror going on in our world.  It needs to stop. 


Diana fought to maintain control but panic was quickly rising.  She was certain her baby was dead.  It was only a matter of time until she succumbed to the darkness searing the edges of her vision.  Minutes before, she was crossing the street with a friend.  He already had the range and simply waited until the pair was in the middle of the street when he squeezed the trigger. 

He knew his target, the baby in Diana’s stomach, would be squarely hit.  Such a hit would get him the prize when he returned to base.  He didn’t smoke but a pack of cigarettes was a badge of honor for him.  Even if he somehow missed and hit the other lady closer to him, he had time to resight his target and take another shot.  The only difficulty in hitting a pregnant woman was the limited number of them walking the streets. 

It was a game for the snipers.  Yesterday, the goal was groin shots.  On another day, it might be head shots.  Doctors and emergency personnel quickly learned the horrific game being played.  They dreaded learning what the game du jour was. 

The baby, two weeks from birth, died instantly after the bullet shattered the spine.  Her friend stood puzzled for a moment wondering why Diana so violently fell to the side.  Then the delayed crack of a supersonic projectile met her ears and she knew Diana had been shot.  She bent down to help Diana to safety when a bullet slapped into her ear causing blood to splatter onto Diana after it exited.  She slumped onto Diana in a heap. 

Diana struggled against the weight of her friend’s body.  More than anything, she wanted to get out of the kill zone.  Just as she was coming free another bullet sliced through the tibia of her left leg.  It was shattered.  Standing was impossible now.  She would never be able to run to safety.  She pondered her options.  She had none.  Diana knew she was completely at the mercy of the one looking through the sight.  Rage filled her.  She screamed obscenities at her assassin.  She cried. 

Another bullet hit her arm and more blood pooled under her.  People on both sides of the street congregated and watched the horror.  Agony filled them.  They knew the sniper was good.  Anyone going to her aid would be hit.  Fear planted them behind the buildings on each side of the street.  Diana screamed another curse to the unseen one toying with her.  She mourned her dead husband.  She mourned her unborn child.  She felt life draining from her body. 

A man hiding behind the building pulled a pistol and gave a quick glance in the direction of the sniper.  He picked a spot and again hid behind the corner of the building.  Then he blindly fired round after round from the pistol.  His added curses with each shot.  Tears streaked his cheeks.  When would it end?
All any of them wanted was to live.  They wanted to raise their families in peace.  They wanted to share meals with friends and family.  They wanted to grow old and share their wisdom with younger generations.  Instead, they were at the mercy of monsters who only viewed them as game.  They weren’t human. 

The final vison in Diana’s eyes was her father and mother.  They died the previous month after an explosion flattened their home.  Crushed in their bed as ten floors collapsed upon them, they never knew what happened.  Her only thought was how much she missed them.  Once more, she mourned for her unborn ba…

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shorties: Number 28

This is an excerpt from my story, Mustard Seeds of Faith

“Ms. Finch, remember when you taught us about havin’ faith the size of a mustard seed and nothin’ would be impossible for us?”
“Matthew 17:20, Jesus said if our faith was a small as that we could tell a mountain to move and it would.  Yes, I remember.  Why, what’s wrong?”

“Does that work for boys too?”
Ms. Finch considered the question for a moment and thought of Jesus saying we need faith like a child.  Then she replied, “I suppose it is even more so for boys and girls.”

The answer surprised Thomas and he looked at her and asked, “Really?”
“Yes, really.”

A ray of hope splashed upon his fragile soul.  He smiled and said, “Thank you, Ms. Finch.”
A thoughtful look appeared on her face and Ms. Finch said, “Hold on a second.”  Then she walked out the door and toward the church kitchen.  Thomas peered out the door and watched her opening and looking through cupboards.  Then she pulled down a small jar, opened the lid and dumped some contents into her hand and put the excess back.  Then Thomas went back to putting things away in the room.  He turned to face her when she entered the room.

Taking his right hand and turning it to be palm up, she placed something small into it.  She said, “Here, this is a mustard seed.  Do you see how small it is?”
“Yes, ma’am, it’s tiny.”

“I want you to keep it to remember just how little faith you need to do something impossible like move a mountain.  Now tell me this, how much do you need for what’s botherin’ you?”
With hope flooding in, he replied, “Not much.”

“Now what is all this concern about?”
Thomas felt embarrassed and delayed answering.  Ms. Finch nicely but forcefully said, “Out with it!”

Looking at the floor, “Me n Lance wanna buy a necklace for mom for Mother’s Day but we ain’t got no money.  I told Lance we could pray for God to give us the money but Lance wants to get it from dad.  We made a deal that if we don’t have the money by next week, he’s gonna ask dad.”
Ms. Finch often wondered if any of the boys ever heard what she had to say during Sunday School.  She silently thanked God for this one.  Then she asked, “And God hasn’t given you the money yet has He”?

“No, ma’am.”
“How much does God need to give you?”

“Forty bucks.”
“I’m sure that seems like a lot of money to you but to God it is nothing at all.  I’m sure He will answer you soon.  Meanwhile, you use this mustard seed to remind you to keep praying and believing God will answer you.”

“Yes, ma’am, thank you ma’am, I will.  Thank you very much.” 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Shorties: Number 27

This is an excerpt from my story Paradise

He turned a corner and walked into his office.  The light was illuminated on his phone so he knew he had at least one voice mail.  RB turned the light on, sat down, and started the computer.  He contemplated starting the coffee right away but decided to listen to his voice mails first. 

He mindlessly tapped in the numbers on the phone keypad and got paper and pen ready.  The message said, "Yes, Mr. Baxter I'm sorry you aren't there to take my call.  What are you doing when you should be at the office?  I suppose you are too good to take care of customers on a Monday.  Let me tell you that I am not a happy customer and you not being there doesn't make me any happier.  Call me back 555 555 5555 if you dare." 

A bit of anger and nervousness welled up in RB's stomach.  What do you say to someone like this?  "You want me to call you back you prick?  I'll call you a prick.  How do you like that, jackass?  God, when am I ever going to get out of this place?"

RB had worked in customer service for several years and he was tired of it.  His personality was one that wished to avoid conflict.  He originally decided to take the job believing it was a stepping stone to something better.  That's what he was told at the time.  It was a good stepping stone and he should only be there a year or too.  Now, nearly 9 years later, there he still was.  A profound weariness and sadness shadowed his heart.  8 hours a day, 5 days a week of negativity wore down his soul but no other jobs were to be found.  He truly believed in his heart that dying or retiring would be the only way to leave that job since he didn't want to leave the company.  Though he felt stuck he resolved in his heart to make it through another day.  

"Another day in paradise." he grumbled.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Heavenly Vows

Heavenly vows
Of one
Now gone
Was the rug pulled?
This bitter cup
The hemlock elixir
Sears my lips
Ruined, fused
In this sea of molten ice
I’m charred through
Chilled to the bone
Held by slag
Each footprint of dross
Vaporized tears
Gasping for breath
No smiling mask
All facades crashed
Long ago
© August 2017
Duane Windell Phillips

Upon This Soil

Upon this soil
I see what I know
All sorrow and love
All pain and joy
Flitting snow
Drifts deep
I endure peering up
To survive the clouds
Fight through this blindness
Ever, always wounds appear
Bleeding still
Endless scars
Grain upon grain
A life of tears
Drown my soul
Dammed up tight
Nowhere to go
A weight of burdens press
Cracks spread more
Crumbling the dike
Without end teardrops fall
All sorrow and love
All pain and joy
Tug them free
Your face, your love
Your anger, your pain
Your suffering, your joy
Mine to relive
Empty this flood
Drain the waste
Let the blood
Dry it all

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A New Story: Final

A wedding date was picked and the planning began.  There was much excitement in the office as coworkers discussed upcoming events.  Through all the fuss, Julie noticed Marsha had been reclusive.  It was well known in the office, her husband had left and the two of them were trying to save the marriage. This had to be an embarrassment to such a proud woman.  Marsha stayed in the cubicle by herself for months.  At first, Julie was happy not to see her.  She was certain Marsha had taken the card Marcus left for her.  Not dealing with her manipulating ways made life easier at work.

Eventually, Marsha began to make her rounds about the office.  Then Julie began to notice a change.  The arrogance that once filled Marsha’s demeanor disappeared.  It was replaced with peace.  She still referred to everyone as “Darlin’” but it was no longer used to condescend.  It was five months later when Julie was certain Marsha was a new woman. 

On that day, the office celebrated Marsha’s 20th anniversary with the company during the last hour of the work day.  There was cake, punch and balloons.  Marsha was humbled by the attention.  Her husband, Bob, attended the festivities.  Few had met Bob before but it was obvious he was crazy about his wife.  He was attentive to her but made sure the spotlight remained on his spouse. 

As clean up was proceeding after the party, Bob approached Marcus saying, “I understand you and Julie are getting married in a few months.”

“Yes, we are.”

“Are you ready?”

“The plans are set but a lot of work still needs to be done.” 

“If you don’t mind, Marsha and I would like a few minutes with you and Juile.”

Confused, Marcus replied, “Okay, sure.”

A few minutes later, with the office mostly empty, Marsha and Julie approached.  Still a woman who likes to take charge, Marsha began, “Your special day will be here before you know it.  We want the two of you to avoid the pitfalls that nearly did us in.” 

Smiling, Bob continued, “Life is great when you’re in love but it also makes you stupid.  Love gives you tunnel vision and you can miss problems comin’ your way.  Even when problems come, you don’t always know what to do about ‘em.  We just don’t want you to end up the way too many marriages do.  We’re lucky.  We realized what we once had and wanted it back.  We’re rewritin’ our story.  Well, I guess we are writin’ a new, happier chapter.  But you guys are writin’ a new story.  This is your story.  As long as you both are writin’ the same story, things will work.  It’s when one of you stops writin’, or starts writin’ your own story, things start going wrong.” 

Marcus and Julie saw the genuineness in their eyes and felt conviction in their tones and sought premarital counseling.  This helped them understand pitfalls of relationships.  After they were married, they kept open lines of communication with each other.  They also sought counsel from their parents and from Bob and Marsha when the inevitable problems of life appeared.  They were happy to add Bob and Marsha to their story.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Reach Must Go Beyond My Grasp

My heart is full of sorrow and I write to sort my feelings.  I believe God places people in your life for a reason.  I believe there is a higher purpose to everything and God can be found even in the stupid, mundane events of life.

In my last short story, Shorties:  Number 26, I shared a true experience I had with a coworker.  I have had similar happenings since then.  A childhood friend had a stroke.  There is also a former coworker who has had so many health issues over the last 6-7 years, at one point she received chemotherapy, even though cancer is not in her body.  The amazing thing there is she said the chemo made her feel better. 

I care deeply for people and acknowledge I get overwhelmed when things like this happen.  Too many things to pray about make me shut down.  Also, when I interact with people in life or death circumstances, I can’t ignore the obvious.  I can’t sit, smile and say things will be ok.  If you believe in an afterlife and you are going to heaven then things will be ok in the end.  Still, we are here on this earth and heaven always seems far off even if we are moments away from the other side of the veil. 

So I’m stuck in this agony of wanting to make a difference in situations where I am helpless.  I cannot wave my hand and everything will be right.  My impotence mocks me when I wish to offer hope to my friends.  If you were to talk to me in a situation like this, I prefer you tell me the truth rather than offer something weak and useless. 

What am I really saying when they’ve been given an expiration date and I’m trying to give hope?  I want my words to be words of power and change.  I want to give words of life but what words are life when it comes to death?

Yes, I believe God has the last say in these matters.  I know people who lived years beyond what doctors told them was possible.  In these moments of trial can God use my lips and speak words we can’t deny?  Can such utterances make a difference if God can use this jar of clay?  I must hope in this because the best I can ever offer lacks.  More and more I’m coming to grips that while I’m on this planet, I can never measure up in ways this world needs.  I must rely on a God in heaven because only He can supply what this world needs as we rush around trying to satisfy our thirst. 

Man is not perfect. We expose our flaws daily.  It is at times like these I want to tap into the supernatural.  My reach must go beyond my grasp. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

A New Story: Moments Captured in Time

Julie stood to greet her parents and Marcus’s parents but her father held up his hand and mouthed the words, “Just wait.”  Her mind raced.  Could it be?  No.  It can’t be.  Their parents couldn’t be there for this.  Would they?
Antonio walked to Marcus and set a covered plate in front of him.  With a flourish, he removed the cover and bowed as he backed away.  On the plate was a golden ring with a large solitaire diamond.  Julie’s heart pounded as excitement and disbelief filled her.  Tears began to well up as she fanned herself with her right hand.  Marcus removed the ring and stood, stepped around the table and reverently kneeled in front of Julie.  She whispered, “Oh my god.  No, oh my god, oh my god.”
Marcus began, “It seems like yesterday, I was walking to the break room at work and I saw a lady whose beauty was so stunning, I couldn’t concentrate for the rest of the day.  The day we finally met was one of my happiest.  I’ve never believed in love at first sight.  I thought that was a bunch of crap made up by Hollywood to sell movies.”
There were laughs around the table.  Marcus continued, “But I was smitten when I met Julie.  The more I’ve gotten to know you, the more I realize how fortunate I am.  I can’t believe God allowed us to meet.  I don’t know what I could have done but I am forever grateful.  Julie, would you make me the happiest man on earth and accept this ring to be my wife?”
As Marcus said these words, Julie’s eyes darted from Marcus to Antonio, to her mother, who was crying and arm in arm with Marcus’s mother, to both smiling fathers, to the ring.  Such joy filled her.  She didn’t think this level of happiness was possible.  Then she heard, “..be my wife.”  Her eyes locked on Marcus.  His eyes spoke much to her.  She let her eyes speak with him, telling him her answer.  Then she began crying as she said, “Yes, Marcus, yes!”
Everyone around the table cheered as kitchen staff exited to join the celebration.  Hugs were exchanged as each woman shed tears.  It was a joyous occasion and each knew it was a moment that would stay with them forever.  Once things began to settle down, Carlo said, “Everyone, please have a seat and enjoy the finest meal you’ve ever had.” 
As the party was being seated, Anna walked up to the table with her camera in hand.  Julie held out her hand to show off the engagement ring.  Full of smiles, Anna said as she held up the camera, “I know.  I got it all.”
“I was over there taking pictures of the whole thing.”
“Get outta here.”
The remaining moments of the night were like a dream.  Anna’s camera was passed around for all to view the moments captured in time.  Laughter, smiles and some tears filled the night.  As things were winding down, Marcus stood.  He said, “I’m happy all of you could be here.  Family, God and country are the most important things in my family.  What better way to have a moment like this than with the ones who mean the most to us.  I’m smart enough to know we have a lot of work to do.  We don’t even have a date picked yet for the wedding.  We will begin writing a new chapter in our lives.  Soon, Julie and I will coauthor our story.  So, a toast to our families and friends.  I love you all.  Where would we be without you?” 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A New Story: È Bello Rivederti

Aldo greeted the couple when they entered the restaurant.  Julie said to Aldo, “Buona sera, caro signore. È bello rivederti.  (Good evening dear sir.  It is good to see you again.)

Immediately, both Aldo and Marcus looked at Julie with surprise.  Marcus asked in English while Aldo, playing his part as an Italian waiter asked in Italian, “When did you start learning Italian?”  Julie looked at both of them and responded to Marcus, “I learned a couple phrases for tonight when you said we were coming here again.”  Then to Aldo, she smiled and said, “Uh, if you were asking the same thing, what I just said to him.”

After being seated, Aldo’s father, Antonio, and uncle, Carlo, entered.  The two gentleman were immaculately dressed as they prepared to sing to the couple.  They greated Marcus and Julie as if they were old world Italians.  Julie said to them, “È bello rivederti.

After grandiose greetings to Julie the brothers said to one another, “La signora bella parla la nostra lingua.”   (The pretty lady speaks our language.)

“Si, dovremmo tenerla qui con noi per sempre.
  (Yes, we should keep her with us here forever.)  Aldo and Marcus laughed as Julie looked to them for translations.  Marcus said, “I’ll tell you later.”

Julie hoped there would be another seranade.  She thoroughly loved it the first night enjoying the restaurant.  For this night, the brothers and Aldo rehearsed special songs.  Julie beamed as she soaked in the ambiance.  She felt as if she and Marcus were in Italy. In the back of her mind she wished for a day when the two of them would travel to Italy.  She wanted to explore the ancient land and learn the language.  She imagined romantic evenings of delicious foods, wines, candlelight and lovemaking.  Her heart was full.

When the seranade was complete, Julie jumped up and kissed the three men on their cheeks.  To each she said, “Grazie, caro signore.”  (Thank you, dear gentleman.)

Carlo turned red as he retreated to the kitchen.  Antonio smiled and said, “We’re going to take good care of you sweet lady.”  Then referring to Marcus, “This guy, he might get the spaghetti we drop on the floor if he’s lucky.”

Courses of foods and wine were brought out to the table.  As the couple ate, Julie noticed Marcus was preoccupied and found it curious.  She mused he was concerned about having a perfect evening.  He needent worry.  It was a perfect evening.  Julie was finishing some antipasto when she saw Antonio standing in the doorway of the kitchen holding a tray.  She heard a small commotion in the kitchen and saw people line up behind him. 

Once he started for the table, the others in the kitchen followed him.  Then she saw her parents were behind him.  The wheels of her mind began turning when she recognized Marcus’s parents walking toward them.  What was going on?

Live Again

Spent the currency of life
Stalking the road, bankrupt
Give the man his props
His sails are never stowed
Voices ever whisper, ever call
My muted reply, stillborn
Damn the brine that sates
As footfalls my shadow flee
All drink cursed save you
My lips fear a taste
Bomb this soul, my heart
Burn away the chaff
With the world flying around
I have no focus or aim
Give me a target
A hope to cling and sustain
Clear mindless dust
Erase godless fruit
Return me to birth
Grant your heart
Let me live again
© August 2017
Duane Windell Phillips

A Time of Need

The last time he saw his mom, Paul spoke the words he had to say.   He recognized her discomfort as she shifted on the bed and redirected he...