The Old Guy and the Young Woman

The callow, young lady on a quick trip to Phoenix
from somewhere in snowy Pennsylvania wanted

only to soak up sun on one of the cloudiest,
rainiest days all winter. In the dullness of the

afternoon they sat by the pool and struck up a
conversation. She said it better be sunny the next

day. The next day heeded her threat — bright
and glistening and starting out warm with promises of

hot. He walked out on the balcony and looked down
at the far side of the pool. Already, she was basking,

trying to squeeze out every drop of dampness from
the day before and soak up all the deliciously dry

heat. In an edgy tone he called out, “Getting enough
sun?” The young woman looked up, hesitated and then

said, “Not quite.” It was then he saw the little girl
in the hot tub. The vacationer was a young, single

woman sans children. He turned, walked back inside
and thought, that’s a different person. By the time

he went back out to say mistaken identification,
she was gone; so was the little girl. Oops.

The Man Mutters

It’s almost June; he’s been bombarded
by bombs bursting in the air and he’s
thinking about the stinking, shit-filled
straw on the floor in some place that
wasn’t Bethlehem, but for the sake of

continuity between prophesy and fulfill-
ment he concedes. It’s really not to the
point. There is blood and placenta leak-
ing into the straw and the swaddling
clothes, too, are filled with a lot of

bodily fluids that need to be taken out
back and burned or, at the very least,
buried. Mop it up and put all the bodily
fluids in the ground. God sits around
chewing on a bit of umbilical cord be-

fore it, too, would be burned or buried,
wondering about what had been done —
all the blood, piss, shit in the straw
soon to be buried. Would anyone get it?
The baby screams. The man mutters.

All In Due Time

Roof rats, roaches, fire and water —
not terrorists from the
Middle East.
Returning home from
dry climes
he turns on the water
waiting for
dried out gaskets to
give up the
ghost; he lies in bed and hears
water running
sporadically for a few seconds,
tormenting him from
the upstairs commode and knows
the flood is coming,
but remembers
Baldwin’s prophesy, God gave Noah
the rainbow sign —
no more water, fire next time.
He watches
the news and hears all about terror-
ists knocking on the
door, machetes in hand, but he
knows
in his heart of hearts
it’s roof rats, roaches, water and fire
all in due time.

Sometimes, It Makes No Difference

Josef K.’s twenty-year-old daughter’s head
was blown apart by a red-headed
maniac. It was more information than he
ever had for his own trial
when, in conclusion, he had to grab the Bowie
and thrust it into his heart
and twist it a bit more demurely than in Hara-
Kiri. The irony is that he
has to thrust the knife in, but once again, be-
cause he was found
responsible in a court of law, somewhat like
his own first trial, in a
shabby, stuffy, airless attic, for the bullets
the red-headed maniac used
to blow his daughter’s brains out. He owes
the company, who
sold the red-headed maniac the bullets, court
costs, about a quarter
million big ones because he lost the suit. He
owns nothing but the knife
he thrust into his heart so he picks up the
Bowie and asks Meursault
what he should do. Meursault says, “Oh, go
ahead. It makes no
difference. But if you would like, I will
thrust it in and demurely
give it a twist. It makes no difference.”

Coffee with the Angels

In light of the not-funny-at-all biker brawl tragedy in Waco, TX, I thought I would kid my peace-loving good friend Jim Berbiglia, retired army chaplain and Presbyterian minister living in San Antonio. I sent him an e-mail that I had heard he was the chaplain for several of those biker clubs.

In response he sent this note:

Those were the days………….Back in 1968 I was dodging bullets in Vietnam, flying in helicopters to remote villages, avoiding land mines in my Jeep. I thought many times that I was going to die.

Then my year was over and I returned thinking that I would never be afraid of anything ever again. Years later I retired in San Antonio and built a home in the peaceful Hill Country.

After I got to San Antone, I visited Bandera, Cowboy Capital of Texas and had a coffee at the Old Spanish Trail Cafe. I was the only one in the place in shorts and T. I looked out the window to see and HEAR a motorcycle gang roaring up.

My heart was pounding as they stalked in behind sunglasses, beards, big bellies, boots, cowboy/cycle style.

As I tried to get smaller, the biggest one slowly approached my table. I was saying my prayers as the giant said: “Do you know Jesus?”

Turned out they were Bikers for Jesus! Perception, perception, perception.

Postscript: CHAPLAIN [LTC] JAMES C. BERBIGLIA,USA,Ret.’s harrowing adventures in Viet Nam were all conducted without a personal weapon. As a chaplain he was unarmed. Now, that’s courageous and true to his faith.

The Adventure

Wandering through an upscale, outdoor shop in a Northwest suburb of Chicago, he noticed a photo of a cougar walking, maybe stalking, across a gorgeous arch. It was in a raggedy cardboard frame and hung on the wall across from the men’s room. He asked the manager if he might purchase the photo. The manager gave it to him. He took it to a photo restoration shop and took the restored photo to a framer friend. It now hangs on a wall inside his upstairs bedroom and he looks at it everyday. Since first seeing the photo, he has stood beneath that exact arch. There was no cougar, but he imagined it being there and fascination and fear ran through him. On a hike in the desert he came across a long, beautiful Western Rattler and had that same experience of fascination and fear. Sometimes, when he takes his Chocolate Lab for a walk near a hill in a Southwest city, he anticipates seeing a coyote or two or maybe even a javelina. Sometimes he does; mostly he doesn’t but he is filled with fear and fascination even in the anticipation. He heard about a black bear in his neighborhood by the Big Lake. Each day as he stands near the pond and waterfall he imagines the black bear stopping for a visit, knocking down a bird feeder and taking a drink. As he stands there he is filled with fear and fascination. Sometimes as he stands at the sink in his upstairs bathroom away from the adventures out the front door, he looks at the photo and vicariously is filled with fear and fascination. Like a child, he is ever and always filled with fear and fascination in the adventure even if it is just in his imagination.

Physics Tells Us

Physics tells us that, theoretically,
dropping a glass of wine which
shatters on the tile floor splatter-
ing glass and wine everywhere can
reverse itself like we see in T.V.
commercials. Perhaps Einstein
thought so; my sister who is wise
to negative repetitive experiences
and who lives in a fifty-five and
older golf resort community in the
Southwest now pours her wine into a
very nice, sophisticated even, plastic
goblet while my sommelier brother-
in-law, if he knew of her practice,
would be appalled at the very
thought. But then again, he’s only
fifty-three.

Levitating

In an incredibly moving segment of a PBS
series while he was just about to dry his eyes
(for an accumulation of stuff in addition
to what was going on in the program),
he heard a person being described as
floating through life like a scarf in the breeze.
In the incredible lightness of that being
floating through his being, he drew a breath
and levitated a few inches off of his chair
for a few seconds. To the best of his knowledge,
the Chocolate Lab noticed nothing.

Two Latest Posts

In light of the two latest posts, friends and other readers
might think the posts are completely autobiographical and that
a marriage is unraveling; it’s not. The knit is tight. I
have taken real life situations and used poetic license to
describe situations I think most, if not all, married couples
experience — the haunting, sometimes destructive and always
complicating role of unresolved issues with parents in children’s
marriages no matter how old those children might be.

As Plato quoted the Oracle of Delphi’s inscription at the Temple
of Apollo, “Know thyself.”

As a late seminary professor told a class of idealistic seminarians
eager to change the world, “Your greatest challenge and hardest job
will be to be a Christian in your own marriage.”

As St. Paul wrote, “We see through a mirror dimly; then face to face.”

As Frank sang, “That’s life.”

Bob