A PUBLICATION OF THE ARIZONA AUTHOR'S ASSOCIATION VOL.14
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ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL.14
A PUBLICATION OF THE ARIZONA AUTHORS' ASSOCIATION
EDITORS ______ .... _._ ........ _ ... _ ...................................... _._ ......... KAREN CONZELMAN, Ph.D
CYNTHIA L. GREENING
PRODUCTION ..... _ ... _._ ..... _. __ ...... . ____ ._ .... __ . ___ ..... GREENING & ASSOCIATES
GRAPHIC DESIGN _. .......... ___ ........... _._._._ ..... _.. . _ .......... 00REEN LAH
©1991 Arizona Authors' Association, on behalf of the authors. None of the material
in this pUblication may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of
the Arizona Authors' Association or the individual copyright holder.
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To order additional copies of the Arizona Literary Magazine, 0 °o}'; ,. I) () a 01.. (.'.1
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Arizona Authors' Association serves as an education, information and referral source for
it members. The nonprofit member organization provides guidance and assistance on
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Arizona Authors' Association Membership falls into four categories: Professional membership,
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ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
SHORT STORY Hero Of The Gap by H. Lee Barnes ............................................................................................... 5
POETRY Following the Bouncing Ball by June Owens ................................................................................ 10
ESSAY Who Was Butch O'Hare ... And How Did He Die? by Charles P. Arnot... ................................... ll
SHORT STORY Gifts Of Love by G. Eugenie Maffioli ........................................................................................... 16
POETRY Home Economics, 1956 by Sandra Lake Lassen ........................................................................... 20
ESSA Y Lessons Learned by David Beyda ............................................... ................................................... 21
Wooden Chickens by Nick Bandouveris ....................................................................................... 23
Anniversary by Maureen Cannon .................................................................................................. 28
A Funny Thing Happened by Grace Rasmussen ........................................ : .................................. 29
The Bar Mitzvah by Elayne Clift ................................................................................................... 30
Judges On Mount Lemmon by John Ottley, Jr .............................................................................. 33
Open Letter To Unwed Mother by JoAnn Hatch ........................................................................... 34
Duel by Robert Walton .................................................................................................................. 35
Message Of The Flute by Donna Palladino ............................................... .................................... 39
ESSAY War With A Capital "w" by John Egan ...................................... .............. .................................... 40
The Fat Kid by Sharon Magee .............. ....................................................... .................................. 43
The Coyote by Tom Gillespie ........................................................................................................ 48
Mom ... I Have MS! by Lue Brown Christian .......................... .................................................... .49
Reflections by Saxon White ........................................................................................................... 53
Love's Eternal by Carl Danna ........................................................................................................ 54
Varzea by Cheryl Deen ..................... ............................................................................................. 55
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
A s the director of the 13th Annual National Literary Contest, I saw nearly half of the 823 entries.
They gave me insights into lives and events my own writing has never touched.
Many of the submissions were based on true life incidents: the conquering of adversity, the battling of life's
obstacles and, in many instances, the triumph of the spirit if not the body. Each submission was read by at
least two judges. Without exception, each of us gained from reading the author's work and, though it sounds
like an oxymoron, we came to know them anonymously.
Fortunately, our association was able to draw upon some of Arizona's finest literary talent to serve as judges
and critics. Our goal was to select those works that gave promise of finding a home in the print media. We
urge everyone who entered to rework your submissions where necessary, then try the market.
All of us who have become "professional writers" have done so because we combined whatever talent we
had with a lot of nerve. We refused to let a single editor's judgment make us lose faith in ourselves. We
learned there are two parallel paths to earning a byline. The first is rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. The second is
submit, submit, submit.
My congratulations to all 823 participants. We look forward to hearing from you again in 1992. I'd also like
to extend a warm welcome to the readers of the Arizona Literary Magazine. As you sit back to enjoy these
exemplary short stories, essays and poems, you will have the opportunity to "hear the unique voices" of
several wonderful writers from across the nation. Perhaps one day, these same writers will be reading your
work with the same excitement, joy and undertanding.
ConJest Director, 1991
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
Hero Of The Gap
By H. Lee Barnes
My great-uncle Had P. had an index fmger missing
from his left hand. At various times it had been sawed off,
cut off, and shot off. I was very young when he first came to
our hous~ and used to pretend that he bit it off in his sleep
when he still had teeth. I tell my kids about him often, so
often they now just listen to amuse me, and I tell them the
stories he told me, especially the one about the Gap.
He'd take out a black and green cigar, twisted, rumsoaked,
and hand me a match as he bit off the tip which he
sent ailing into the yard with a "thewt."
"Light it for me."
I'd strike the match and hold it to the cigar and flame
would sprout and Uncle Had would blow a storm of
stinking fog in my face, then holding the stogie in his blueveined
hand, he'd lean back and watch the vapor rise. After
this opening ritual, he would tell the story beginning on the
third day. I was not allowed to interrupt the beginning. He
would sit for several seconds seemingly in a trance, his face
screwed in deep study, head bobbing as if he were reeling in
words, then he'd speak.
"From the fog they appeared out of the melting shadows
of the wood line and formed an uneven file facing the
hazy northwest. Like stone images, they waited, each pair of
eyes owning a common stare - a vacant look of wisdom,
each brow etched with deep hollows of sorrow, each
wretched soul smothered in brooding resignation. As if
bloodless waxen caricatures cast out of reality into an
asylum of recurring horrors, they prepared for battIe,
loading and chamber rounds, clinking and clattering,
spending precious seconds of life preparing for death." That
was how the story began, slowly, deliberately like a distance
runner increasing stride, warming muscle.
He was the self-appointed keeper of the family history
and had, according to records no one ever saw, traced our
lineage back to a Lord named Winsex who married a Lady
Amaranth. According to Uncle Harl's research, the fortunes
of our family took a bad tum in the sixteenth century when
one of our forefathers invested heavily in the expeditions of
Sir Henry Raleigh, who, as my uncle insisted was the
mysterious brother of Sir Walter. Sir Henry promised to
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
bring back tea, but instead returned with tobacco, a commodity
that, according to contract, our family had no claim
upon. We thus became commoners.
"So we're British?" I once asked.
"Anglo-Saxon," he insisted. "No goddamn Norman in
Uncle Harl was fascinated with ancient irrelevant
matters, such as who should rightfully rule England. He was
somehow convinced that the Noman bastard William had
no claim to the throne and had tricked the Saxon army at the
battIe of Hastings by feigning surrender.
"The Queen doesn't really rule," I reminded him,
having learned this in school.
"She might if she had any right to the throne," he
After doing a lengthy study of William's life, Uncle
Harl felt we - meaning our family on my mother's sidemight
have a slight strain of Norman in our bloodline.
"They were Norsemen, after all," my great uncle said, as if
that knowledge should carry weight. But William was still a
tricky bastard, and none of us should think any differently.
We also shared distant kinship with the Wright Brothers,
Woodrow Wilson, Jediah Smith, Betsy Ross, and Natty
Bumppo. "Wasn't Natty Bumppo a hero in a novel?" I
"Based on a real person. Be your mother's great-greatgreat
grandfather, I believe. May be one or two greats I
Although I was young, I was not stupid, and my mother
by tapping the tip of her index finger to her temple had
cautioned me often of Uncle Harl's unusual views of fact
and history. He had been in his youth somehow involved in
Vaudeville and off-Broadway and had later recorded an
abridgement of Alice in Wonderland on a monaural disk
which he would play at Thanksgiving, insisting that it was
an heirloom that belonged to the whole family and should
be shared on family occasions. Of course, my older brother
and sister always found something to do when the needle
touched the groove and I was left alone with Uncle Harl to
listen to Alice and The Mad Hatter.
I think about him most in the asylum of my room while
looking at the mysterious tracks that march across a white
sheet of paper, tracks that sometimes march in a ceaseless
ranks and files, then stop suddenly. It is at those moments
when the tracks end, when the life outside of my rising and
falling chest seems to have stopped, that I turn to Uncle
Harl. That is when I know him best, when I wish for his
tricks, and wander into his gentle insanity.
He seldom talked about the truths of his life; that
was how he avoided real lies. It was my mother
who told me he had failed while in New York,
that people who were supposed to know about
such matters said he wasn't quite good
enough. He moved in with us when I was
seven, spending his first two years in a
bedroom beating typewriter keys. I
remember waking up in the dark and
hearing the clickity-click through the
wall. That was the mystery of him,
that he never seemed to sleep. Then
he stopped typing two years later and
took a night job as a waiter until the
spire of old age descended on him and
his health failed.
While writing stories in the
Thirties and Forties, he had lived in
the Village, for a while with a
Jamaican woman and later with a
disciple of some Eastern faith that practiced the use of
opium. He often dropped the names of writers and actors he
knew - or claimed to know - from that era, and would
use their first names with such familiarity that anyone
thinking to challenge his veracity would appear foolish. We
had three pictures of him from those days with his silver
hair parted in the middle and slicked back. Then he had an
aristocratic jaw and slender nose and his ears seemed
normal. I remember being amazed by that fact because his
earlobes were huge and leathery, and I often had to force
myself not to look at them. He had practiced for the stage
and had not forgotten the actor's art, the art of telling lies
convincingly. He was not a liar really. He was a story teller.
He told untruths. I asked him about Greenwich once but it
was, like WW I, not a subject to be discussed, and he rushed
to another subject rather than lie. He only told me one actual
Because he was old and tiresome and living with us,
and I was young and usually underfoot, my mother let Uncle
Harl baby-sit me, but in truth I was the baby-sitter. So I
listened to his bombastic tales, listened because he was in
his seventies and lonely and it was how I earned my
allowance - a detail I was sworn not to reveal. The story he
most often told was about the Civil War. Uncle Harl
claimed it was an heirloom which, like the Alice in Wonderland
recording, belonged to the family. He said that the
windy story had been purloined from his grandfather by
Twain or Bierce or Crane, but it had never been published
because the public was tired of war.
"It was my grandfather Clark," he would add sometimes
before telling the story. "Not my father's father, but
my mother's father. He was a bugler in 'c' Troop." He
would describe how a narrow-faced officer with high
cheekbones and saddle-leather skin strode forward on black
mare and squinted as he looked through the
thinning mist at the adversary's ranks, then
jerking on the reins, wheeled the horse about
in a circle until the mare raised her front
hooves and saluted the throng.
"A few hundred yards away
another line was gathering. Each
stretched for more than a mile
separated by a scorched cavity of
clay and corpses that once had no
name but was now called The Gap.
Gradually the first line began to flex
like an uncoiling serpent. Here and
there mounted officers would dash
forward and inspect their charges, bark
short harsh commands, then disappear
behind the formation."
He would bend forward, and using his cigar as
a pointer aim at the horizon. His eyes, piercing out of
two hollows, would dance as his face, thin and skeletal, took
on a perplexed mask. I would pretend to believe him once
again and tum to look. He would smoke and cough and
continue his story.
It was a story. I didn't believe it. It was a story, only a
story, and I tried not to see the horse or the officer, but
sometimes I couldn't disengage my mind from my great
uncle's spell and I would see an officer lift his arm and hear
a rumble as hooves and boots pounded forward into The
Gap, the air filled with hollering, rifle shots, and the
explosions of mortars and cannons. I would see the ground
ripped by shells that spat up earth just like in the movies,
only better. On the screen of my mind random victims fell
as the two great walls of men collided, then the explosions
ceased, and man fought man so close that, as Uncle Harl
said, "killing became as intimate as loving."
And then the narrative details the glorious past of the
battle ground - the third day and the twenty-second
assault. How twenty-one times the battle had ended in
mutual retreat with enormous casualties on both sides. How
on the first day The Gap had been a marshy pasture, but
now it was a graveyard for a thousand men, "complete
strangers who had come without malice in their hearts who
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
killed one another with a venom worse than hate for a thing
His hands would swirl and sweep as he talked about the
twenty-second time both forces clashed in the thick mud of
the marsh, and about soldiers with bayonets, and about rifle
butts, feet and fists. Artillery. He liked the idea of artillery
and would create sounds that arose from deep in his throat
and massed in the puff of his red cheeks until freed as
sounds and spittle that rained upon his audience, me. On one
occasion his dentures flew out during a thunderous explosion,
and landing near my feet, smiled up at me.
He talked about helpless bodies which were "lifted
from the valley floor and tossed around like careless
insults," a phrase that pinched something in the back of my
mind. He would take in a lengthy cloud of cigar smoke and
release it to punctuate the moment. Then came the retreat
which started as an orderly exercise, but soon hero and
coward alike scrambled to safety. And he would point with
his five fingered hand just as a witness might at a police
lineup. His voice would quaver as he spoke, "One particular
Lieutenant tried to get the attention of his platoon. He
waved his hat above his head and shouted, 'Follow me!
Follow me!' Then suddenly his horse bolted, and he was
charging back into the depths of The Gap."
Uncle Harl would cup his hand to his ears and tell of
the silenced cannons and how a handful of men turned and
followed, loading and firing their rifles, then of more who
followed, until the movement swelled into an assault and the
soldiers advanced beyond the marsh. Now, my uncle would
close his eyes as if taking a rest, then open one to see if he
had my attention. His cigar being dead, he would ask for
another light and I would oblige. He'd puff furiously, wipe
his mouth. "I never married and you know what that
means," he once said unexpectedly.
I didn't but nodded as if I did, thinking it had something
to do with mother, that he had moved from New Orleans to
Colorado to be with her near the end of the Korean War
after her husband, my father died. Of course it was also a
way for Uncle Harl to break off with the woman with whom
he had been living. Satisfied that his point had been made,
he smiled his juicy tobacco smile and continued.
"There was the colonel. You know, the kind you see in
Boston reading the paper on a park bench." He squinted at
the distant line of elms on the highway. At this point one
day I suggested a change in the story, a minor modification,
that the colonel should be from Maryland.
"Maryland?" he asked.
He frowned as he thought about the idea. "When it's
your story, you make the colonel from Maryland." He
coughed on a mouthful of smoke. "The colonel from
Baltimore, Maryland, formerly of Boston, sidestepped
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
bodies as he surveyed the sleeping battle site." And my
uncle's hand moved like a wave in a wheat field. "'Captain,
find the lieutenant who caused this magnificent slaughter
and bring the crazy bastard to me,' the colonel commanded."
My uncle filled waiting time by looking about, smoking
and getting impatient with characters who were slow to
arrive. It was his way of adding an actor's verisimilitude to
the story. A minute or two would pass before Uncle Harl
cleared his throat. The timing needed to be right.
He insisted that a story needed three things: a teller, a
listener. and timing. "That's the trouble with this story," he
said one time. "I can't depend on this lieutenant to show up
on time. Why don't you get us some tea?" But the lieutenant
always reported as ordered, even if he had to wait for tea or
punch, and Uncle Harl would salute him.
At this point, Uncle Harl would enter into a dialogue
with himself, become two people, doubly alive, pointing his
hand as the colonel and shrugging his shoulders as the
lieutenant. His voice taking on two tones, two cadences, and
two dialects, he raced through the exchange with quick
glances thrown in my direction to measure the effectiveness
of his performance.
"'Why did you ignore the order to retreat? What do you
have to say for yourself?'
'Sir, I'm offended. I didn't intend to charge. Indeed, sir,
it was an accident on my part. ",
And Uncle Harl would explain how the lieutenant had
intended to follow orders, how when the retreat began, he
tried to lead his men back to safety but couldn't. '''It was my
sergeant who caused the charge, sir. He kicked my horse,
which through no fault of mine headed into the enemy.'"
My uncle would raise his hands in disgust, looking for a
response. I would nod approval. He would bow his head in
disgust and call the lieutenant a coward. "'Send your
sergeant to me.'"
My uncle would smile at this. By this time he was
usually chewing on the cigar and his dentures were wetstained.
As this was an informal intermission, he would
stand and say something such as, "Isn't that just like one of
them?" I would smile back as if I agreed, as if I knew. He
would nod in return. "I was in a war, the big one WW I, but
don't ask me. I won't tell." And he never did.
When the intermission ended he would take a seat. Here
was where he was at his best, doing the different voices,
turning his head first in one direction, then in another. I
knew he liked the sergeant more than the colonel and much
more than the lieutenant. So he told of the sergeant, a rough
textured veteran with a graying muzzle, who "had a pension
to preserve and a natural distrust of all officers, especially
those who command in battle."
"'Sergeant, I'll be brief. You kicked your lieutenant's
horse and drove him into the gap after the enemy. Why?'
'Well, sir. It was an accident.'
'My God, man. What do you mean accident?'
'Well, sir, I truly can't believe he complained to you. I
mean, sir, he came out of it unscratched!'"
This was a sacred moment in the tale, revered for its
irreverence. When it came I was prepared not to laugh, but
my uncle always devised some trick to make me laugh
despite my intentions otherwise, stunts like looking away
from the imaginary colonel, then taking his dentures and
crossing his eyes as he examined them. Another time it was
a belch aimed at the phantom colonel's face. And once he
pointed his stub of an index finger toward me and wiggled
it. Then one day I made it without laughing and he had to
resort to tickling me.
What followed was the essence of the story, and Uncle
Harl executed each exchange of words just as if two people
were present and talking, beginning with the colonel. It is
how he told the story, how I now tell the story when I can
get an audience.
'''That's a point of consideration, but 'bout this accident.'
'Sir, I wouldn't have kicked the horse, if the snake
hadn't crawled up my pant leg.'
'That's right, sir.'
'Snake? On the battlefield?'
'Weren't my doin', sir.'
'Doing! I can't reward a man who kicked a horse
because a snake climbed up his leg.'
'What did this snake look like?'
'What kind of reward, colonel?'
'The snake, sergeant.'
'Large, sir, and frightenin'.'
'Large and frightening. Be more specific. Did it have a
color? Was it poisonous?'"
At this my uncle would let his jaw sag a bit and furrow
his forehead. '''With due respect, Colonel, snakes all look
the same crawlin' up your leg.'"
The line was his favorite, and mine as well, but we
were too sophisticated to laugh openly. Instead we would
trade mutual looks of appreciation showing that we just
relished having it said.
After long exchanges of dialogue my uncle's face
turned red, and he would pause to enjoy his cigar, the amber
eye of it glowing under a dusty lid of ash. Much of his face
was obscured by the stinking cloud as he brought the
smoldering cigar back to life.
Once during this break in the story, he smiled at me and
nodded in the direction of the kitchen which adjoined the
porch. "I'm not crazy, I'm old." I looked toward the window
and saw mother standing over the sink, looking out at us as
if checking to see if I were doing my job. I realized that he
knew, and I was ashamed. By the time I looked back, he had
"The colonel thought for a moment, then shaking his
head waved the sergeant away ... Find that snake.' 'Yes sir,
a snake.' 'That snake, and have it brought to me.'"
The story went on about how a captain left
and within an hour nine snakes, all
dead, lay at the colonel's feet, and
the Colonel saying that dead
heros were always better than
live ones. And once again the
colonel took a sullen posture as if
weighted down by too great a
responsibility, the problem being which
of the snakes had crawled up the
sergeant's leg. My uncle would slam his
fist down as if the revelation were his
own, as the colonel rendered his
By now the cigar was a stub
hooked in my uncle's amber lips, and
threads of tobacco were stuck to his
gums. He liked to take his longest
pause at this point, extracting the stub
and examining the charred tip with
one eye closed as if he were looking
for a lost end to his story. "It's a
strange thing about these," my uncle
would say. "We learn to smoke them
because someone else does. Why we
keep at it, I'll never know." He would
toss the cigar away. "Imagine," he
added one time. "A few thousand men,
combat soldiers, crawling around in
the mud looking for a snake." I
couldn't imagine it then, but years
later after Viet Nam it became easier
The story's end was anticlimactic.
An assembly was called. Two thousand
men, marching to drum and bugle
- my great-great-whatever grandfather being one - passed
in review before nine snakes. A major with a rainbow of
ribbons above his heart called the entire brigade to attention,
then an honor guard posted up next to the burial place. My
uncle had to stand in order to create dignity, which was
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
quite a chore because he was almost eighty and barely able
to move. He would find a posture which seemed to suit a
colonel of the Union, his eyes bouncing in their tiny caves.
Then he would, at once, be both solemn and excited as he
rendered the colonels' speech.
This speech usually took Uncle Harl's breath away. He
would fall back into his chair and lower his voice until I was
forced to move close in order to hear his words. Once
during this final scene, Uncle Harl uncharacteristically
halted as ifhe'd forgotten the finish. He leaned forward and
motioned me closer. I scooted unusually nearby.
"Yes," I said.
"Does this bore you?"
"Of course not. Stories are meant to be fun, but there
are people who don't like this story, you know. People like
that are ... Well, think about the idea," he said leaning back.
"I will," I answered.
"They can't hear it inside."
He shook his head and told the one true lie that came
from his lips, the lie about how story tellers are born, a lie I
believed for the longest time.
That one moment is the only instance that I can recall
him interrupting the finish, which was, I suppose, excessive.
He described how the colonel bowed and bent down on one
knee and placed a silver and bronze cross on the pile of dead
snakes, then saluted. Taps sounded, played by Grandfather
Clark, a solo figure on a hillock overlooking the gap. The
scene ended with three volleys of rifle fire, and Uncle Harl
smiling as he recited the last two sentences: "Walking away
from the grave, the colonel's Aide-de-Camp mentioned that
it was the finest ceremony he had ever witnessed and
wished that he might see more of the same. Neither man
I think I was supposed to get it, as the saying goes - a
joke or a message - but mostly I listened, studying
fragments of the story, sentences, a nuance, sometimes each
word, waiting for the error, the lie that would impeach him.
But Uncle Harl was too clever for me. His lies were not
impeachable, and I learned the craft of the story.
Once I asked him how he knew it was true.
"Because my Grandfather Clark took me to the grave.
And because that's how battles are won. You know about
Hastings, don't you?"
I grinned and told him that everyone knew about
Hastings, then took his arm and helped him inside.
As I got older the story tellings became less frequent,
arid I stopped listening for lies, sometimes stopped listening
at all. One day, just before his eightieth birthday, I caught
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
him in some mistakes, but mistakes aren't lies. The next
time it was worse. He couldn't finish. I saw his eyes widen
as he looked at his crotch. A stain had begun to darken his
pants, and as it continued to grow, his hands started to
tremble. When he finished, he looked at me, his eyes filmed
over with lost dignity. He held out his hand and pushed
himself to his feet.
"I've had an accident."
I helped him to the bathroom and brought him a change
He got to be too much for the family, peeing his pants
and farting, asking about people none of us knew. One night
he talked about the war, not the story, but World War I
which was very much like the story of The Gap, then,
asking for his mother, he bawled like a child. He was taken
to a home where he lived in a room that was little more than
a bed, where the doors were kept open day and night.
I saw him a few times after that. He would start the
story but no longer remembered its many details. I would
have to sit and finish it as he stared out of the deep caverns
that held his faded eyes. He would smile if the story came
fluidly from me, his lips collapsing inside the toothless
hollow of his mouth, or if I forgot something, he would
frown at my mistakes; and sometimes he seemed not to hear
at all. The last time I told him the story, as I reached the part
about the snake crawling up the leg, he raised his palm for
me to pause. "I wish we had a cigar," he said. "Rum
"I don't smoke."
"Well," he said, "it would be nice anyhow."
H. Lee Barnes of Tempe, Arizona, has been writing since 1977. A teaching
assistant and MFA. candidate at Arizona State University, Lee has been
published in Writers' Forum, Lost Creek Letters and Quicksilver. The idea
for Hero of the Gap came from the idea that all the elements of the
storyteller's art can be seen in one story. Lee is looking forward to working
of the second draft of a recently completed novel.
Following the Bouncing Ball
When I was a kid, it cost 13¢
For Saturday's Double-Feature at the Victory.
I went early, stood in line good weather,
Bad weather, hoping for a seat in the balcony.
Almost always there would be somebody's dog
Waiting in line, too. Still waiting
In the hard light when we came out.
Money-didn't-grow-on-trees my mother said,
So I walked along gutters, poked down
Sidewalk grates, looking for lost silver,
Rounded up deposit bottles, cashed them in.
Tickets came out of a shiny slot and the
Blonde said keep your ticket stub ... gonna be
A drawing for prizes ... who knows who wins.
I won a set of glass dishes once, the kind
That are collectors' items now, I hear,
But wanted the skates some other kid won.
For 13¢ there was Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce
In one picture, William Powell kissing Miss Loy
In the other. And Path6 News, cartoons ... 3 or 4
Of them ... a Travelogue, followed by a serial
By June Owens
Where outlaws on horses outran the music and
Sang: we're outlaws from the misty mountains
And to our hideout we will go go go. And the
Previews (spelled PreVues) of Coming Attractions
Were shown twice, as if we could forget Tarzan.
Sometimes, a talent show, mostly local boys
With accordions and girls Shirley Temple-ing.
Sometimes, the film split and we whistled and
Wriggled, stamped, shoved, and threw things.
But for me it was the half-secret darkness,
Gold-painted sconces - though then I did not
Know exactly what sconces were - the velvet
Curtain maroon and moody, romantic as mist.
A little paper pass closed out hot sun,
Gray rain, sooty snow, quarreling parents.
I sat there in my sour clothes warm with garlic,
Gum and kosher pickles, while the light lit up
My vision, levitated my life, and I sang
As hard as I could, following the bouncing ball.
June Owens of tiny Zephyrhills. FloridiJ. has been writing since 1939 when
shefell in love with the magic oflanguage and the power of words. She
found writing Following the Bouncing Ball to be challenging because of all
it dredged up -the many 10ngingsJeelings and remembrances -shared
by children of the Great Depression. She is most proud of having writ/en
this poem and Bringing in the Sun: The India Poems. a collection due out
the end of November.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
Who Was Butch O'Hare ... And How
Did He Die?
By Charles P. Arnot
Chicago's sprawling O'Hare Airport has long been
known as the world's busiest.
Yet random surveys have shown that not more than one
Chicagoan in 10 knows for whom O'Hare Airport was
It's also doubtful if more than one of every 5,000 or
even 10,000 Americans ever heard of Butch O'Hare.
His full name was Edward Henry O'Hare. He was a
Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy air arm in
early World War II. To close friends and family, he was
known fondly as "Butch."
And he also was:
-The first American war hero to receive person all y
from President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House
the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II.
-The central figure in a long and controversial
mystery as to how he perished in the nighttime Pacific
ocean nearly 48 years ago.
I have more than a passing personal interest in 0 'Hare
Airport - and in the late Butch O'Hare - for a couple of
First, as a 26 year old United Press war correspondent
aboard the famous U. S. aircraft carrier Enterprise, I was
one of the last to bid farewell to Butch 0 'Hare as he
boarded his plane for that final classic night aerial battle
with the attacking Japanese.
Secondly, I've never been able to solve the nagging
mystery of Butch O'Hare's bizarre disappearance on that
black night of November 7, 1943. Was he shot down by the
Japanese he was pursuing? Or did a stray bullet from one of
our own accompanying planes ... or errant anticraft fire from
our own task force below ... end the life of this celebrated
Read on, and then try to judge for yourself how the man
for whom O'Hare Airport is named met his end.
. As the "Big E" (for Enterprise) knifed through the long
Pacific ground swells, the round-faced Irishman in the
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
reclining leather chair ran a hand over his close-cropped
black hair and grinned almost mischievously.
"If you're looking for a news story, you've come to the
wrong place," he told me pointblank. "I've inherited a desk
We were sitting in the Air Group commander's "ready"
room, and the chunky Irishman across the small airconditioned
compartment was the Group Commander
himself - Lieut. Comdr. Edward Henry O'Hare, known
more familiarly as "Butch," one of the Navy's greatest
fighter pilots of all time.
From the carrier's deck above came the sound of idling
engines followed by vibrating roars. Grumman Hellcat
fighters - the Navy's new F6F's - were streaking down
the flight deck and out into the clear afternoon sky on
"Those kids," Butch O'Hare said, referring to the young
fighter pilots, "are the lucky ones. They do all the flying
There was something quite casual and reserved, but at
the same time warm and friendly about this naval hero. But
it was plain to see that Butch O'Hare had no intention of
being interviewed about his new role in the Pacific War. He
considered his new assignment mainly administrative and
not particularly newsworthy. Besides, he abhorred pUblicity.
He said so now, in simple language and without a hint of
As I studied Butch O'Hare, I thought of his reference to
a desk job. Even when he sat quietly, his feet propped
comfortably on another chair in front of him, he seemed to
give off sparks. His broad smile came spontaneously and his
clear dark eyes appeared to twinkle and snap at the same
time. Here was a man of action, and the Japanese high
command knew it probably better than anyone.
This was the same Butch O'Hare who had taught the
Japanese a humiliating lesson of lightning destruction on the
20th of February in 1942 near the Pacific island of
That was the day he tore into a V -formation of nine
attacking Japanese twin-engine bombers, and skyrocketed to
fame. Within six minutes, five enemy planes went down
under the fire of Butch's machine-guns and a sixth was
heavily damaged. A tactical miracle.
He was credited with breaking up single-handedly an
enemy attack on the old aircraft carrier Lexington (later
sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea), and he flew to Washington
to receive the nation's highest honor from President
Roosevelt at the White House.
"One of the most daring, if not the most daring, single
actions in the history of combat aviation," the citation said.
And with the medal came a promotion from lieutenant,
junior grade, to lieutenant commander - a full stripe.
Reluctantly, Butch O'Hare became a national hero at a
time when a shaken and rather nervous nation most needed
some heroes. Across the country, the headlines fairly
screamed, called him the "One Man Air Force."
There was a giant homecoming celebration in St. Louis
where Butch was born. A personal appearance tour took him
across the nation, including Chicago, his second home town.
Butch O'Hare made speech after speech. He hated all of it.
He was a fighter pilot, not a Hollywood star.
Still burning deep inside Butch O'Hare were vivid
memories of all the humiliating publicity that followed
the 1939 gangland-style murder of his father, Edward
J. O'Hare, in Chicago where he was the head of the
troubled Sportsman's Park race track.
During his four years at the U.S. Naval Academy,
Butch O'Hare was known as an easy-going,
unassuming Irishman with a great sense of humor -
sometimes even a practical jokester. There was
little spectacular about him when he was
graduated from Annapolis in 1937 - nor
during his subsequent two years of sea
duty before he entered the Pensacola,
Florida, Naval Air Training Station.
he became the youngest Air Group Commander in U.S.
Serving as squadron leaders under Butch O'Hare were
three experienced pilots, each of who had been at least three
years his senior at Annapolis. But no one seemed to resent
his authority or his rapid promotions.
There was a simple explanation - Butch O'Hare was the
sort of naval officer who had enough ability that he never
had to raise the question of authority or rank. He knew how
to give orders.
Butch's aide, Lieut. Wallace M. Parker, who left a
lucrative law practice in Pittsburgh to become a naval
combat intelligence officer, told me one day:
"I've never known anyone quite like Butch O'Hare.
I've never seen him when he wasn't in good humor. He can
joke just as easily with an admiral as with an enlisted man."
First, last and always, he considered himself a fighter
pilot. He never said so, or even indicated it, but there was a
quiet confidence about him that made you feel he considered
himself the best damn fighter pilot ever to climb into a
cockpit. If he had said so, none could have disputed him,
and few probably would have.
Only a week before, Butch O'Hare had been in
the air some 20 hours, directing bombing and
strafing operations from his Hellcat
fighter as the Enterprise air group
blasted Makin Island in the northern
Gilberts, paving the way for a
subsequent amphibious invasion.
A few days later, Butch
O'Hare flew to newly-captured
and bloody Tarawa Islandone
of the first
American pilots to
land on the battlescarred
seized from the
When the war broke out, Butch O'Hare was Japanese.
a fighter pilot - and a good one. He was ready
when his big chance came that February day in
the South Pacific. But he wasn't ready for
Cheiridopsis peculiaris Desk job!
national acclaim. He never would be. He was happy when
the Navy, toward the end of 1942, sent him back to the
Hawaiian Islands as skipper of a fighter squadron.
It was not long before Butch O'Hare shot down three
more Japanese planes. His wartime bag now stood at eight.
Even for a squadron commander, O'Hare was a
youngster. But his meteoric rise didn't stop there. In
October 1943, he was made overall commander of the entire
Air Group on the aircraft carrier Enterprise, including
torpedo planes and dive-bombers as well as fighters. At 29,
came back to me as I stood early the evening of
November 7, 1943, outside Butch's ready room. The door
opened quickly, and out came O'Hare himself in full flight
gear. With him were Lieut. Comdr. John L. Phillips, 33-
year-old torpedo squadron skipper from Linden, Virginia,
and Ensign Warren A. "Andy" Skon, 24, a former University
of Minnesota student from St. Paul. Andy Skon, making
his combat debut as a Pacific fighter pilot, was assigned to
fly as O'Hare's wingman.
"What's up?" I shouted to Butch.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
"Japanese planes on the horizon ... better find a
foxhole," he shot back over his shoulder.
That was my last conversation with Butch O'Hare.
The sun was disappearing beneath the western horizon,
casting a deep red glow over the rolling Pacific. There is no
twilight out there. In another half-hour it would be pitch
black. And with the darkness would come the Japanese,
their fast twin-engine Mitsubishi bombers loaded with flares
Geographically, we presented an inviting target for the
Japanese raiders. Led by our two big aircraft carriers, our
task force of 30 ships steamed leisurely off the northern
Gilbert Islands, within easy range of enemy air bases in the
Marshalls. But we had no thought of running. We had
captured the Japanese bases in the Gilberts, and had every
intention of extending our control over the surrounding
waters in our leap-frog offensive aimed at the heart of the
Japanese home islands.
The Japanese planes out there now were only "snoopers"
- scouting bombers sent ahead to mark our position
for the main aerial attack force.
Every deck hand and mess attendant aboard our huge
aircraft carrier knew the impending attack probably would
be one of the biggest night aerial shows of the Pacific War.
Less than 24 hours ago, we had beaten off a similar attack
by an estimated dozen Mitsubishis. One and probably two
of the raiders had been shot down. The night before that, the
Japanese had searched for us, but in the misty darkness we
had eluded them.
From the catwalk above the flight deck, I watched
O'Hare and Skon climb into their waiting Hellcats and roar
out into the dusk. Phillips then hoisted his big frame into the
cockpit of his Grumman Avenger torpedo plane and gave it
the throttle. In what seemed like less than a minute, he, too,
Butch O'Hare, John Phillips and Andy Skon were
playing a long shot. The plan itself was an innovation in the
use of that relatively new World War II miracle called
This was the first time night interceptor planes ever had
been flown from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific ... the first
time radar from the carrier and the radar in Phillip's torpedo
bomber would be synchronized with the fire power of the
two Hellcat fighters against the Japanese attackers.
Phillips had the radar ... he would be the "eyes."
O'Hare and Skon had no radar ... but they packed the deadly
Butch O'Hare was one of the first to see the possibilities
of such a bold counter-stroke. Refusing to challenge our
planes during the day, the Japanese were resorting solely to
night aerial warfare. O'Hare, always the innovator, wanted
to greet them with a fiery surprise.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
Dangerous? The war probably offered no more dangerous
assignment. Darkness, critical problems of navigation
and even the curtain of anti-aircraft fire from your own
ships would be stacked against you. Then, if you survived
all that, there were the hazards of enemy fire and that
treacherous night landing back aboard the Enterprise.
This was Butch O'Hare's desk job.
And while Butch O'Hare, big John Phillips and little
Andy Skon went out to break up the enemy attack, the rest
of us on the Enterprise settled down to wait for darkness -
and the Japanese assault.
"Watch for their flares," the officer next to me said.
"They'll try to spot our course with their flares, then drop
We watched - and waited. Then out of the darkness
came the warning:
"Enemy planes closing in on the starboard quarter ... "
It was the voice of our "talker," relaying information
from the flag bridge. Our lookout had picked up the first of
the Japanese torpedo bombers. They were coming in fast.
Packed into the next two hours were a couple of
nightmares, a hundred Fourth of Julys, a great exhibition of
marksmanship by our anti-aircraft gunners, a feeling of deep
relief when the last Japanese attackers were driven off, and
- finally - the tragic news that Butch O'Hare had gone
down somewhere out there in the inky darkness.
But, first, let me describe this classic battle ...
In the night skies above and around the Enterprise, it
was like hell on a rampage.
"The enemy planes are splitting up into groups ... "
Before the talker could finish his sentence, and almost
before I could clamp on my steel helmet, one of those
lightning-fast Mitsubishis had swept along our starboard
side and left a string of two dozen flaming flares.
Where only a moment before there had been total
darkness, a long streak of brilliant light now blossomed
several thousand yards along our course. It seemed that the
sky was alight for miles around from those blinding red
balls of flame that gave a peculiar pinkish-white glow.
Here was the tipoff. This Jap's brothers - with big
torpedoes in their bellies - were on the way, attempting to
silhouette our ships against the light of the flares.
After that came what seemed like the multi-colored
flashes from thousands of Roman candles and skyrockets.
Our screen of warships began spouting anti-aircraft missiles
like fountains of fire - and the Japanese found themselves
caught in the midst of it.
Someday, I should like to see a wide-screen movie of
such a night battle just to confirm my recollection. It seemed
for more than an hour as if our task force must certainly be
trying to shoot the roof off this part of the world.
Twice from my battle station on the after part of the
Enterprise island structure, I thought I saw Japanese planes
crash into the water. But there were so many shells exploding
in every direction, you couldn't be sure. And adding to
the peril, the air was filled with flying shell fragments.
One of the attacking planes, luckier than others,
penetrated this screen of molten steel and roared across our
wake at mast-head height, 300 yards astern. I thought I
heard three or four enemy planes pass overhead and was
told that still another enemy torpedo bomber had just missed
Official reports said at least four Japanese torpedoes
passed harmlessly through our task force, but they obviously
were dropped hurriedly in the face of our devastating antiaircraft
There were no hits on the Enterprise, which attested to
the miracle of maritime maneuvering. Our sister aircraft
carrier, the Essex, was not as fortunate. She limped out of
the fray with a gaping torpedo gash in one side.
Momentary lulls in the pyrotechnic display brought
brief play-by-play reports on the progress of our night
"Our night fighters report they have contacted the main
enemy bomber force," the first crisp loud-speaker announcement
"Lieut. Comdr. Phillips has shot down two enemy
planes and Lieut. Comdr. O'Hare has shot down one."
There were shouts of jubilation in the small radio room
where I found several officers crowding around a receiving
set that was bringing reports from the night fighters.
"Where are they, Phil?"
It was a calm voice of Butch O'Hare. He was calling
Phillips, who already had made radar contact with the
When John Phillips reported bagging his first enemy
plane, O'Hare became excited and fairly shouted:
"Great work, Phil. Let's get some more."
Phillips responded by shooting down his second victim
less than five minutes later.
Then came O'Hare's voice:
"Phil, this is Butch. I think I got one."
"Butch, this is Phil. Over ... "
"Butch, this is Phil. Over ... "
There was no reply.
We had beaten off a force of between 30 and 40
attacking Japanese bombers, the heaviest night attack ever
made by enemy torpedo planes in the Pacific. Eight and
possibly 10 of the attackers had 'been shot down.
But there was no joy aboard the carrier Enterprise.
A gloomy silence spread over the carrier as it was
announced that John Phillips and Andy Skon were returning.
There was still danger of imminent enemy attack. They
would have to land in virtual darkness.
Skon came in first. He expertly cut his engine and
glided down to the deck. His landing hook caught a wire,
and he jolted to a halt. A weak cheer went up from the crew.
Then came another muffled cheer as Phillips circled, hit the
deck and bounced to a standstill.
In the fighter "ready room," somber-faced pilots were
crowding around quiet, soft-spoken Andy Skon who looked
more like 18 than 24. You could tell he had just survived a
life-and-death crisis. His flight gear was soggy with sweat
and he spoke with obvious difficulty.
"Butch and I chased all over the sky after we took off,
but the enemy at that time was staying just out of range," a
tense, somber Andy Skon recounted. "The Japanese had the
task force spotted and were waiting until it grew dark
enough to attack with some degree of safety. We fired a
couple of bursts apiece at what we thought were enemy
planes, but it was getting too dark to see clearly."
He told how he and Butch then found Phillips and
began maneuvering into a V-formation, with Phillips and his
radar guiding the way. While Skon pulled up on Phillips'
left or portside, O'Hare drew up slightly below Phillips and
off his starboard quarter. They were flying comparatively
low - about 1,200 feet - to catch the low-flying Japanese
"I saw a sudden burst of machine-gun fire," Skon
recalled. "After that, Butch's plane passed quickly below
Phillips and me. Over to my left I could see his plane swoop
upward, just like he was going to do a wing-over. I couldn't
understand why Butch didn't radio me that he was going to
peel off. I didn't hear him say a word after he asked me
which side I wanted to take as we pulled up to rendezvous
I could appreciate the extent of Andy Skon's deep
emotional turmoil as he relived those critical moments.
Finally, he said
"All of a sudden, Butch's plane just seemed to slide
downward. I followed him down to 20D feet, but in the
darkness I lost him."
Andy Skon didn't see either Butch O'Hare or his plane
I found John Phillips undressing in his room. A veteran
of 1,200 hours of instrument flying, he was tired and his
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
face was drawn. But he was unbelievably calm and composed
for a man who had just seen a Japanese tracer bullet
pass within three inches of his nose.
His first words were:
"Gawd, but it was dark up there!"
Phillips told me how he and tracked and shot down two
Japanese bombers only 50D feet off the water. Then when he
joined up with O'Hare and Skon, he discovered there were
four planes instead of three. The fourth one was a Japanese
who apparently mistook the American planes for some of
"I heard Butch call me over the intercom to switch on
my top light so he could judge the distance between us.
When I looked again, I saw not only Butch's plane off to my
starboard, but another - a damn enemy bomber. That
Japanese apparently saw our running lights, figured we were
some of his buddies and was pulling into formation for the
At this point, Phillips' turret gunner also spotted the
Japanese interloper. He opened up with a staccato burst. The
Japanese plane returned the fire.
During the fiery exchange, Butch O'Hare's Hellcat was
below Phillips and the Japanese - and roughly between
them. Butch's plane could have caught the fire from either
one of them - or even both. The mystery remains unsolved.
John Phillips told me he believed Butch's plane was hit
by the Japanese machine-gun fire. He said he believed
Butch himself might have been hit, which would account for
his sudden silence.
Big John Phillips drew a weary hand across his forehead.
"Just after Butch's plane passed under us, I spotted
something plunging down toward the water," he said,
staring off into space. "It looked at first like a parachute and
I figured at the time Butch had baled out. I was watching the
water closely after that, and I'm almost sure I saw a splash."
For two weeks, U.S. Navy carrier groups and planes
criss-crossed 2,000 square miles of Pacific ocean in a
fruitless search for the man with the most dangerous desk
job in World War II.
Back in Chicago ...
On April 20, 1947, the late publisher of the Chicago
Tribune, Col. Robert R. McCormick, proposed the naming
of a Chicago airport for the late U.S. Navy Lieut. Comdr.
Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare. Colonel McCormick noted:
"We were unconscionably forgetful of our heroes after
World War I. We are on the way to being equally forgetful
of the heroes of World War II."
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
Some two years later, Butch O'Hare was formally
honored by the unveiling of two memorial plaques during
the dedication of 0 'Hare Airport.
Below a gilded bas relief of Butch O'Hare, each plaque
was imprinted with a portion of the 1942 citation read by the
late President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the April 21st White
House presentation of the Congressional Medal for outstanding
bravery and valor. Below that, this inscription:
"This plaque is presented at the dedication of O'Hare
Field, September 18, 1949, to the city of Chicago as an
everlasting tribute to the memory of Lieut. Comdr. Edward
H. O'Hare, U.S. Navy.
. .. By the Naval Airmen of America
Everlasting? Well, hardly.
At the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., official U.S.
Navy records show:
- Lieut. Comdr. Edward H. O'Hare ... missing in
action November 7,1943 ... declared presumed dead
- Lieut. Comdr. John L. Phillips ... missing in action
in air strike near Truk Island February 16, 1944 ... declared
presumed dead January 15, 1946.
- Former Ensign Warren A. Skon retired from the
U.S. Navy in 1973 with the rank of Captain. (During World
War II, he won nine battle stars, the Navy cross, the
Distinguished Flying Cross with three stars, the Air Medal,
the Navy Unit Citation and the Presidential Unit Citation.
Married with two daughters, Andy Skon has now "totally
retired" at the age of 72 and lives in Mclean, Virginia. He
still considers the strange disappearance of Butch O'Hare an
Charles P. Arnot of Prescoll, Arizona, is a retired foreign correspondent
and author. He began writing in his teens because he had always been
mesmerized by words and he was offered a reporter's job on a small-city
Nebraska newspaper. He has been published in almost every newspoper in
the U.S. and abroad during his many years with the wire services. He has
wrillen four novels and a semi-autobiographical book on journalists entilled
Don't Kill the Messenger. This was the second contest he had ever entered.
Gifts Of Love
By G. Eugenie Maffioli
She started knitting when he was 21. Each time he
appeared with another girl, rumors and speculations swept
through England and around the world. "Was this the one?"
But she smiled and rocked and knitted. She had enough
time. He was like her Tommy, searching for just the right
girl. But he would marry, a man like him would want a son,
an heir to the throne.
The year was 1970, and things were going well for her
family. The old man was working at odd jobs and Tommy
worked nearly every day on the docks. She worked four
hours every night, scrubbing the floors in a solicitor's office.
She spent hours each day shopping for food, and then there
was the house to keep clean and the work clothes for two
men to wash, mend and iron. From the extra money she
earned she bought the yarn, the very best yarn because for
him and his bride, the afghans must be fine and feather light.
She knitted in the early morning, before the old man
and Tommy left their beds. There were a few hours after
supper and before she went to work, and most nights she
knitted for an hour when she got home from her job. It was
restful for her to sit in her rocking chair and knit, stretching
out her legs to relieve the pain in her knees.
It took her two years to finish the two afghans, but
when she spread them out, she knew that the time had been
well spent. They were fit for a king and queen. His was
royal purple, lined through with gold threads. Hers was a
pale lavender, and sparkled with silver threads carefully
drawn through the stitches.
There were still speculations and rumors; each day
another girl joined the ranks of those he danced with or
smiled at. But she knew the time was not yet.
It was harder now. The old man had strained his back
helping to move a heavy chest, and he didn't go out so often
to look for the little jobs that brought in a few pennies extra.
There was the government check, but she had to search the
markets a bit harder and a bit longer to put food on the table.
The old man and Tommy still wanted their good meals, and
they both went more frequently to the pubs to drink their ale
and play at darts. She couldn't blame them. The old man
grieved at the loss of his youthful strength and Tommy was
bitter over the failure to achieve his dream. For 26 years two
afghans had lain in her trunk, waiting for the day Tommy
would bring home a bride. She still hoped he would find
what he was looking for, but at 47 it was hard for a man like
Tommy to realize his dream . Sometimes she wondered if he
had ever had the same dream she had for him.
It was harder to pay for the yarns she wanted, but
somehow she managed, and she began to crochet a coverlet
for a king-sized bed. It was harder too, to hold the crochet
needle and to follow the intricate pattern she was working
into the coverlet. Her fingers were beginning to swell and
twist; arthritis the doctor told her. And her eyes were not as
good as they had been. She remembered when she and Jerry
were walking out together they had lain in the park and
counted the stars above them. They said the counting words
together, almost as though they were speaking with the
same voice, and whenever they reached 20, Jerry had turned
toward her and kissed her with the passionate fierceness of a
young giant. Now she could barely see the stars when she
looked up into the night skies, and Jerry was an old man
who shuffled a bit as he walked. He was 80 now, his once
black hair white, and after 72 years her thick auburn hair
had faded to wispy pink, but there was still time for love.
The old man never failed to pat her shoulder as he went out
the door to join his friends in the pub.
Her fingers moved more slowly now, and sometimes
she had to spend hours massaging the old man's back before
he could lift himself from the bed.
She worried about Tommy. She remembered when he
was a babe and she had held him tightly in her arms as he
suckled and she had dreamed of the man he would become.
Strong and handsome and rich with his own family around
him. Then there had been the boyhood pranks, the times he
came home with his face bruised and his shirt tom. And the
times other mothers came to her and told her their sons
could no longer play with Tommy. One mother voiced her
complaint harshly. "He is a small monster," she said.
But when she looked at Tommy, she saw again the
beautiful babe she had held and kissed and comforted. "He
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
will grow out of this," she told herself. "He will find his
place in the world."
In January of 1973, the police came to the door at
midnight and took Tommy away. The old man got up out of
bed and took the money she had been saving and walked to
the police station. When he came home early in the morning
he had Tommy with him. He never told her why the police
had come. When she asked him, he said, "Old girl, we have
raised a monster."
The day she finished the coverlet was June 20, 1974,
Tommy's birthday. She planned a joint celebration. She
baked a cake for Tommy, and spread the coverlet for her
two men to admire when they came home. Neither came
home that night, and when she woke in the morning, the
house still had that empty feeling when her men were gone.
It was noon when the old man came home. He opened
the door and she looked up from where she was sitting in
her rocking chair, her hands lying loose and idle in her lap.
The old man took out his handkerchief and blew his nose
vigorously, covering his whole face as though he would
hide his red-rimmed eyes from her.
"He found what he was looking for, old girl," he said.
"A woman! He found his woman?" she whispered.
"Another man's woman, by God! And the other man
was waiting for them."
It rained the day they buried Tommy. She stood beside
the old man, looking down at the great hole into which they
would lower Tommy, and then cover him up with the dirt.
All of his bright smiling spirit she had held in her arms so
many years ago was gone. She reached out her hand and the
old man took her gnarled fingers into his hand.
She moved closer to the hulking body which had once
been so vital and full of love and life. Now he was using his
other hand to dash away the tears. She was proud that even
now he would not admit to any weakness.
The undertaker was kind and offered to take them
home. He dropped them off and they went through the door
into a home from which one-third of their love had vanished.
She remembered the day that young Jerry had brought
her here as a bride. They were laughing and swinging their
arms as they walked down the street in the sunshine and
when Jerry had opened the door, he picked her up in his
arms and swung her over the threshold.
"You take off those wet clothes and I'll make us a cup
of tea," she said now, bustling off to the kitchen.
She spent her days cleaning and shopping. She looked
for little delicacies for the old man and took the time to
make some of the foods he had devoured so lustily when
they were first married. And when he looked up from his
filled plate to stare at her meager meal, she said softly, "I
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
just don't have much appetite anymore. And anyway, three
days a week I eat enormous amounts of goodies. Mrs. Ryan
always gives me a big lunch those days when I clean for
"I wish you didn't have to work so hard, old girl. It gets
lonely here with you gone most of three days, and four
hours every night. And you're getting too thin."
''I'm just trying to get back my girlish figure," she said.
"Do you remember the nights we went dancing and you
swung me around like a yo-yo?"
The rumors and speculation were still alive, but she
knew she had time for one more thing. He was a patient man
like her Tommy. He knew what he wanted and he would
wait until he got it.
She bought the thread and got out her crochet needle.
This would be a tablecloth, big enough to cover a king's
banquet table. It would be made of thousands of medallions,
each one a snowflake, and each one just a little different
from all the others, like real snowflakes with no two alike.
Three days a week, four hours a day, she worked for
Mrs. Ryan, sometimes nibbling on a crust of bread, or a bit
of cheese. It wasn't really stealing, she told herself. If she
asked, Mrs. Ryan would surely tell her to make herself a
nice lunch. But she would never ask. When she was hired,
Mrs. Ryan had told her she really couldn't afford to pay
much wages, but she could no longer clean her own house
with her arthritis so bad.
She started the tablecloth. It was so good to be able to
rest in the old rocking chair where she had sat to nurse
Tommy. He seemed to l?e closer to her here. Sometimes the
threads tangled and she would have to rip out her work and
start over. But she thought how lucky it was that she was not
as sick as Mrs. Ryan. She could still earn the money they
needed, and the money for her fine threads.
It was getting a bit harder to get up off her knees when
she was scrubbing the lawyer's floors, but once she was on
her feet she felt like a young girl again, if she stepped
slowly and carefully. When the doctor in the next office
asked if she would do his floors, she said yes. It would only
be another hour or so every night, and the old man was
getting used to sleeping without her beside him in the bed.
In August of 1977, they celebrated the old man's
birthday. She baked a cake and borrowed a bottle of
champagne from Mrs. Ryan's cupboard. The old man was
85, and that was a great age. When she looked across the
table she could still see Jerry as she had first seen him. His
blue eyes were a bit faded, his mouth drooped a bit and he
sagged back in his chair, but the man he had been was still
They toasted each other in champagne and laughed and
"Do you remember the night ... ?"
"Remember the time I took you canoeing and tipped
over the canoe?"
"I remember the time you drank too much ale at the
dance and stepped on my toes every time we got on the
When they had eaten and drunk everything on the table,
she reached across to touch his hand. "I've got a present for
you," she said softly.
''I'm past the age for presents."
"Not for this one, you aren't. Don't you want to know
what it is?"
"I told my gentlemen I wouldn't be in tonight. You and
I are going to bed together, like any other decent couple."
The next night she went back to work. She hurried at
her scrubbing. She wanted to get home a bit early. The
tablecloth was almost done, and if she could just work a few
hours more on it, it would be ready to wrap up. She
scrubbed her way out of the office door and started to stand
up. Her hand flew out and hit the pail of soapy water,
spilling it over the floor in front of the door. As she got to
her feet, one foot slid on the wet floor and she sat down hard
on her left leg and foot. Cautiously she stretched out her leg.
It didn't seem to be broken. Probably just sprained. She was
able to clean up the mess, and get out to the street before she
felt the sharp twinges of pain that walked with her all the
She let herself into the dark house, and felt her way
upstairs to undress in the dark, and slide into bed beside the
old man. Every night when she got into bed with him, he
grunted and reached out his hand to hold hers. Tonight he
was silent, lying motionless on the bed. There was no sound
at all in the room.
Fear such as she had never known before struck her,
and for a moment she prayed, "Oh, Lord, take me too."
She got out of bed, put on her clothes and went next
door to Mrs. Acton.
The neighbors were kind, and they gathered around the
grave with her. But she stood alone, staring into a bottomless
pit. People told her he was old, and he was so very sick,
but they were wrong. That was Jerry being lowered into the
ground. He was never really sick and he was so strong and
full of love. She reached out her hand, but there was no one
there to take it. No warm presence to go home with her and
share a pot of tea.
The next day she sat in her rocking chair, letting her
memories fill the room with her beloved men.
Stitch by stitch she finished the tablecloth, and wondered
what she would do now.
It seemed foolish to bother with a clean house and a lot
of food for only one person. So she took to drinking a cup of
tea and eating thin slices of bread whenever she felt hungry.
She remembered some of the delicacies she had made for
the old man, but it was too much bother to fuss so for
The rumors were still circulating, but she smiled when
she heard them. Not yet. There was still time to do what she
had wanted to do for so many years.
She bought the balls of gossamer wool, and took up her
knitting needles. She had not knitted anything so small since
the first month she knew Tommy was on the way. She had
the time to work, but her hands moved slower and slower.
First she made the sweater, cap, mittens and booties in
blue. It was only right that his first child should be a son and
heir. Then she thought, what if it is a girl? She had never
had a girl herself, but it would have been so comforting if
she had a daughter now. And she would not want her
daughter to be neglected. So she went to work and made
another set of small garments, this time in pink.
It was 1981, and now the people on the London streets
were smiling. There was to be a royal wedding. She no
longer took a newspaper, and they had never had a radio or
telly, so when the neighbors came in, she listened to them
eagerly as they talked of the great event.
She bribed Jimmy Acton with a batch of home baked
buns to carry her packages to the place where they were
receiving the gifts. She admitted to herself that the buns
were not the best she had ever made (she had forgotten to
put salt in the dough), but Jimmy munched on them happily
as he trotted off on his errand. There were so many things
she forgot nowadays, but then, she never forgot her good
Neighbors told her of the streets being decorated, and of
all the celebrations that would be taking place.
On the day of the wedding, she got up at 4 A.M. and
carefully put on a blue dress that floated and swayed about
her. She was an old woman, and the dress was a young
dress. But this was the dress she had worn when she married
Jerry, and it seemed appropriate to wear it today. It would
bring Jerry nearer to her, and she could feel him beside her
as she came down the stairs.
She missed the bottom step and turned her ankle
sharply. This was the ankle she had sprained so many years
ago, and it had never been right since. She tried to take a
step, but the pain shot up her leg and she grabbed at the
banister to hold herself up.
"Nothing to cry about, I'll be better in a minute, Jerry,"
She inched her way to her rocking chair and sat down.
The neighbors had told her how the streets looked and how
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
the whole ceremony had been rehearsed. She shut her eyes
and it was easy to see the marching men, the gold and glass
carriages, and the mounted guards trotting along the streets.
When the ceremony was over she made herself a cup of
tea and ate one of the little cakes Mrs. Acton had made from
a new recipe and brought in for her to try.
The excitement was over, and she wandered about her
lonely house, seeing Jerry sitting in his worn easy chair by
the fireplace, and hearing Tommy as he ran into the house
after school, looking for her and asking for something to eat.
Then there were the times when memories were not enough,
and she wondered what she was to do.
It was Mrs. Acton who told her first. The wedding gifts
were to be put on display. They would be shown in a hall
across town, and anyone could go and look at them.
"Just think, we will be able to see all those jewels, the
carved silver and gold pieces. Gifts from around the world
that are worth a king's ransom, like they say."
She heard Mrs. Acton talking, but the words were
almost meaningless. She was thinking, "My gifts will be
there side by side with all the others. My cards will be there
with the gifts. I wrote 'With Love' and signed my name."
She would go to the hall and see for herself her gifts
displayed alongside all the other fabulous gifts. She
wouldn't say anything; she would just stand back and look
and let the warm feeling fill her with love.
Mrs. Acton stood up. "You look as though you could
use a good rest, so I'll be going. I suppose you didn't go
shopping again this week. I'll bring over a few things for
you later on."
She started to protest, but Mrs. Acton stopped her.
"Now you know I love to have your opinion of my cooking.
I can remember when you were the best cook in the neighborhood,
but it is hard to cook for one person. Your comments
on my cooking are a big help to me."
As soon as Mrs. Acton was out the door, she hurried to
get into the blue wedding dress. It was a bit crumpled, and
there was a small tear in it from where she had fallen off the
stair. But she didn't have time now to fix it.
She walked across town, sometimes stopping to rest,
sometimes leaning heavily on the old man's cane she had
taken to using these last few years. But it wasn'tJerry's
cane, she thought. Jerry was walking beside her, taking such
big strides she had to run a bit to keep up. No, it was the old
It took her hours to reach the hall, and she found that
she would have to queue up to get in. It looked like it might
be a long wait, but people were kind. She loved them all.
The young man behind her offered her the use of his camp
stool, and she smiled at him the way she used to smile at
Jerry, when she was still trying to get him to propose.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
The line moved forward and they were climbing the
long flight of steps. She wondered if she could sit down on
one of the steps during the pauses in the movement. She
looked back through the years and remembered going to
church with her grandmother. When it was time for communion,
everyone came out into the aisle to go to the altar.
When the line stopped moving, the communicants knelt on
the hard floor of the church, rising to move forward a step or
two, and then kneeling again, all the way to the altar.
She was on the last step, then she was at the door. There
was a man standing there, and she nodded and smiled at
him, and continued to move towru:d the open door.
The man touched her arm. "Lady, you have to buy a
ticket before you go in."
"That's right. Everybody buys a ticket to get in to see
all these treasures. The money is going to be used for
charity. It will all be used to buy food and clothes for the
She had no money. She didn't even have her purse with
her, though what good it would do she couldn't see, since
there was no money in the purse either. It would be another
week before the check came.
She turned away and grasped the iron railing with one
hand and her cane with the other, and worked her way back
down the stairs, striving to stay out of the way of the people
coming up the stairs so eagerly.
When she reached the sidewalk she turned to look back
at all the men and women waiting to get into the hall.
She smiled, a young, gleeful smile. "Jerry, just think!
My afghans, coverlet, tablecloth, and baby things are in
there, and they are helping to make money to feed the poor.
You and I, Jerry, we can be proud.
There was a slight shuffling sound as she turned toward
home, but she didn't notice it. She was striding along beside
Jerry, and they were busily making plans for their life
G. Eugenie Maffioli of North Miami Beach, Florida, has been writing since
childhood. The idea for Gifts of Love came from a small newspaper item
regarding the display of g ifts being sent to the Prince of Wales and Diana.
As she read the item, she could see the poor, old woman climbing the steps
to see the gifts. It took her six molllhs before she had the opening paragraph,
but was then able to write the rest of the story infour hours. Eugenie
says that she reads about other writers who have "dry" spells and she can't
believe it. A retired federal employee, she says she has so many stories thot
she wallis to write that she doesn't think she'll ever be out of ideas.
Home Economics, 1956
By Sandra Lake Lassen
We brought aprons from home
borrowed from mothers
landlocked in kitchens,
heads down in diaper pails.
We read aloud the litany
according to Betty Crocker's 4th revised edition,
kneaded bread dough soft as warm, white thighs
and learned never to leave out the baking powder.
We were all-purpose and self-rising,
the last generation before latch key kids,
the Pill and consciousness.
We giggled and peeked at duck-tailed boys,
lean-hipped and mean in rolled-up jeans,
on their way to gym.
At night in twin-bedded dreams
we wondered whom we'd marry.
Second term we were allowed to sew our own aprons.
Sandra Lake Lassen and her writer husband share office/studio space in
Daytona Beach, Florida, and Ashe CounJy, North Carolina. They have
found the secret 10 melding Iwo writers in one household is to never share
computers or prinJers and 10 eal out a lot! The idea for Home Economics
came from her eighth grade HomeEc class in which she earned a "D" and
really did leave Oul the baking powder. This was the zi//ionth contest
Sandra had entered.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
By David Beyda
The last time I saw my uncle alive, was in a hospice,
four days before he died. A brain-tumor found a few months
before had rapidly debilitated him despite aggressive
surgery and radiation. The diagnosis had been made quickly
and without fanfare shortly after a routine visit to an
ophthalmologist revealed papilledema.
I was at his side in pre-op holding the day he went to
have his baseball-size tumor removed. I listened to his
speech slur as the Valium took effect, and held his hand as
he joked about waking up from surgery with a zipper in his
head. He never once asked about the seriousness of what he
had and he never showed anger or fear. It seemed like he
took it for granted and that this was part of life. I set the tone
for a crusade: courage at all costs. I felt his courage as he
squeezed my hand and fought back the fear and anger.
Sometimes courage is misleading. There is a different kind
of courage; the courage to make oneself responsible for an
outcome. My uncle had lived a wonderful life, unpretentious
and filled with the happiness and love that he found in
everyone and everything.
My uncle had always been special to me and he was the
favorite of all the nieces and nephews. Being a joker, he had
a disposition that drew laughter and happiness all around
him. He loved life for no other reason than to love it. He had
a genius for being himself.
My aunt, not one of medical expertise, out one of
persistent inquiry, strove to find the best care available, to
do the very best to make him comfortable and to challenge
the very essence of dying. She was also very adept, I
discovered, in making sure that her feelings never interfered
with the care of my uncle. Because of the circumstances,
telephone marathons between my aunt and I became the
norm. She and I were never close, but we formed a bond
that involved my uncle. We spoke of life and death, of pain
and fear, of the right to die and the right to let go. We spoke
of what my uncle would want if he was bedridden and
dying. We never really came out and asked my uncle. It
seemed as if he had dissolved himself of all his thoughts and
left his determination to someone else.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
After months of sharing feelings and thoughts, both
objective and subjective, I felt that I had done a fairly good
job of preparing my aunt for the time when my uncle would
die. As a physician, I deal with this task on a regular basis
and after many years of talking to parents about their dying
children and preparing them for the moment of death, I
likened myself to some sort of expert counselor. An advisor.
Someone who brought solace to the grieving family. I had
spent months guiding her, preparing her. I left no detail out.
I described worst case scenarios, the moment of death and
what she would possibly feel. As we sat and talked in the
few days that remained of my uncle's life, I asked a question
that I asked frequently of family members, expecting an
"He's going to die soon. Are you ready?"
Without hesitation she said, "When you love somebody,
you're never ready."
If this is how she felt, I certainly have not come close
with the families of my patients. She struck the heart of
common sense. Of reality. I asked myself what I had hoped
to achieve when talking to parents. The answer is not simply
that I do too much, but that I do so for the wrong reasons.
Instead of just quiet support and acceptance, I force the
issue of "being ready." Because if family members are
"ready," then physicians are absolved.
As physicians, our task has always been to "diagnose."
Recognition of a specific illness based on what has been
learned about the past history and any pathologic changes
will lead the physician to an accurate diagnosis. From there,
the doctor can forecast the likely outcome. And all this has
to be explained to the patient. What the ill patient and the
family wants most to know is the name of the illness, what
possibly could have caused it, and finally, most important of
all, what will eventually happen.
We try to practice medicine by rigid rules. The rapidity
with which illness, injury and death presents itself in
unquestionably frightening. In medicine, sometimes God
just wants to make sure He's got our attention.
One of the best things about age, it is said, is that it can
bring with it a certain perspective. There is not much to say
at such times, but much which needs to be said, ineffectual
as it may be. Dwelling on what I should do to prepare
family members and the patient, what I used to do, makes
me forget what I feel like sometimes doing.
Let's face it. Life is unpredictable ... from now on, I'm
going to order dessert first.
"It's a common error to think that the more the doctor
sees, the greater his experience and the more he knows."
Sir William Osler 1919
Dr. David Beyda of Phoenv;. Arizona. faced a great challenge in writing
this essay. This essay was his [lTstnon-scientific piece and,for him. it was
like a confession offailUTe to some degree . A physician specializing in
pediatric critical care. David wrote Lessons Learned following an
experience last year (as detailed in the essay). Because of that challenge
and the lessons he learned. David is most proud of having writ/en Lessons
Learned. He is currelllly working on a child safety book and other essays.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
By Nick Bandouveris
Frank puts on the robe his wife despises and poses in
front of the bathroom mirror. Its long stripes of colorful raw
silk end at mid-thigh, so if he lifted his arms above his head
he'd be able to show you everything. Very liberating, very
sexual revolution. A splurge, a guilty pleasure. Stripes are
slimming -like the salesman told him, they give a
"youthening quality." Frank thought it gave him the look of
the great secret agents - Bond, Flint, Helm.
The robe is an occupant of his suitcase along with the
other compactable necessities he keeps ready for the road at
a moment's notice. His wife deposited it there the morning
after he brought it home; it's stayed since.
Frank twists the cap from the third airplane bourbon
and dumps it in his glass, slivers of ice bobbing at the top.
More like Helm - no one could drink bourbon like Dean
Martin. He pulls an imaginary gun on a ravishing imaginary
female counterspy breathlessly waiting to be brought over to
his way of thinking. Standing at the pillow, he gobbles the
turn-down chocolate, drops the wrapper to the carpet, takes
a slow sip and unties the sash, the robe parting over his
swollen stomach. He's willing to admit to being a bit thick
in the middle, as long as he can have a drink now and then
and some peace and quiet.
She said he'd bought it out of panic. He re-ties the sash
and feels better about his weight. No need to be nervous.
This is an occasion for celebration.
He splashes a liberal amount of Aramis on his face and
neck, spilling half the bottle into the ice bucket when
fumbling to put the cap on. Screw it, smells nicer this way.
He rubs his raw silk-covered belly. It was a perfect meala
free dinner, courtesy of the airline that is always an hour
late but couldn't wait five minutes for his connecting flight
to get in. Hell, what was the rush? To go home? Not when
he can enjoy the victory, fly out tomorrow. Wine, Caesar
salad, New York steak, baked potato buried in sour cream,
apple pie with cheddar and all he had to pay was the tip.
And now a fistful of baby bourbons from the apologetic
stewardess, a free hotel suite for the layover, a hot shower
and in a few minutes some champagne.
Been years since it's killed him to be away from home.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
An airplane lands on the runway a few hundred yards
from the hotel. The window, slightly open, rattles; he closes
it. "And people buy houses around here," he says. He opens
his sample case and fondles the signed pieces of paper. He
did it. It took nine months of charming, but he did it. There
wasn't a harder or more important sale on record as far as he
cared. He had been so close to desperate he had nearly
prayed, but it happened before he had to. Frank Dennett
proved them all full of shit - all the bastards who would
put him to pasture. From this day forward the Heavy
Machinery division of the Chrysler Motor Corporation,
domestic and international, will be using Rol-O-Tip
ballpoint pens - exclusively - and man do those people
use a lot of freakin' pens. They'll be needing refills, too, and
felt tips, highlighters, pencils, sharpeners, rubber bands, and
the little containers and dividers for them all, and a bunch of
products they don't even know they need yet.
And he didn't use market surveys or computer analyses
or audio/visual presentations or focus groups ... it was done
the old fashioned way - man to man. Like in the days
before all the technology and consultants, it was a matter of
knowing your business, knowing your product, and most
importantly, knowing your customer inside-out, sensing
what they want to hear, and then making damn sure they
hear it. After that, hell, sometimes they ask you to hold their
hand while they sign. He clips a pen to the pocket of his
robe, eyes himself in the mirror and gulps the rest of the
drink, submerging the last trace of nervousness. He's in line
for a huge commission - "A brand new car," like they yell
on game shows. He hopes to swing a Cadillac and not end
up with a LeBaron - or a forklift. He can almost taste a
promotion to Regional Sales Director.
He's feeling giddy at closing the Big Deal, and kinky
because he feels giddy.
He paces the room. The adult movies on hotel TV
wouldn't have cut it tonight, on such a splendid occasion.
And he saw them there, an hour ago - the Yellow Pages
and The Bible; every hotel in the country provides the
spectrum, and you just make the choice.
The knock at the door brings the shake back to his
hands as he checks the knot in his robe and opens the door a
crack. He says thanks, grabs the wine bucket and glasses
and closes the door.
He studies the label. Dom Perrignon champagne. Can
you imagine that - him with a bottle of this. He's never
had it, but it's supposed to be the best; his wife says she's
always wanted to try it, and then laments that it won't fit the
budget. This one he can mostly write off. French. 1983.
Nothing was remarkable about that year; maybe this will
remedy things. He hopes those few swigs of bourbon won't
spoil the taste. Stepping into the bathroom to chill the
glasses, he gets a whiff of the iced after-shave.
"Damn!" he says out loud in the hollowness of the
white tiles, "Should've sent the nigger to get me more ice."
He dumps the bucket in the sink and rinses it, turning off the
water when he hears the second knock. Of course, I forgot
to tip him. Good, now he can get the ice. He takes his wallet
from the dresser and opens the door.
It is the most un-hip bathrobe she's ever seen. So loud.
She waits for the fat man holding the ice bucket and wallet
to say something. He stands and stares; she looks at the
number on the door to make sure. Almost embarrassed, like
he isn't expecting her, he says "Please come in."
She doesn't move. "And your name is? ... "
"Frank ... " She senses Frank would rather not use his
''I'm Monique, Frank - from
So that's how you say it. "Then
you're at the right place." His smile
is nervous. She sees his eyes,
darting around and through her,
all over the hallway, checking
if anyone is watching, like
ninety percent of them do,
and then he opens his door all the way. "Would you like to
Amusing. No, I'll just wait out here until you're
finished. She smiles politely, enters, and he closes the door
quietly. "Sorry to be so formal about getting your name and
all, but for a minute I thought I had the wrong room. You
know how it is, can never be too safe and all." He has the
look like he knows just how it is.
He sets the bucket on the dresser. "I thought you were
the room service guy."
A good time to laugh. "Nice room."
"I have no complaints so far, Monique." He puts the
wallet into the pocket of his robe and steals a glance at his
hair in the mirror.
"Oh, yeah. This is a good hotel. Not a bad room in the
place." She smells perfume - if there's another woman,
that's it, she's cutting out - no, it's cologne, or else an
awful lot of after-shave. And whiskey, or bourbon.
''I'll have to remember it," he says.
It's all she can do to keep from laughing at his preposterous
form, but she's running under this week, and saves
the laugh - can probably use it later, anyway. She sizes
him up. Short robe on a short man; a long one would've
been better - would've hidden the long brown socks. Not
unattractive, actually quite - fatherly. Mid-fifties, gray
hair, carefully tousled, a girth that showed him to be a man
who never misses a meal, even if he isn't hungry, double
chin, fat feet. Even his wrists are overweight. But that robe
He's nervous - not faking nervous, but truly tense,
like he's on a blind date - which is good because it means
he's not vice; she can usually tell by the time they've said
their names. Probably a pushover. Still, he could be a
weirdo. That you can't predict. One thing is for sure; he's
probably heavy enough to smother me. He goes on the
"May I take your coat for you?" Less than a minute in
the room and he's already started. Not going to be easy to
pull hours with this one; it never is when they're so quick to
get things going. He steps over and she can smell that it's
bourbon. He's just eaten and he's a little drunk; maybe he'll
just fall asleep and I can get the hell out of here.
She arches her shoulders and allows the fake fur to slide
into his gentlemanly paws. "So you in town for long?" He
doesn't answer right away. The little black dress with the
low-cut back always catches them by surprise. That and the
heels - the more it hurts to walk, the more they're dying to
get you off your feet.
"Just for tonight, Monique."
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL.14
She simulates disappointment - "Too bad," I was
hoping we'd get to know each other; maybe do brunch, or a
She parades by him and feels his awkward fat stare.
Why do men pretend to be so discreet about what they make
so obvious - that all they want is a Barbie doll with spreadapart
He turns off the overhead light, leaving only the dim
glow of the bedside sconces. "Would you like to relax?"
"We should take care of business first."
"Of course. I didn't mean to imply ... "
"Would you like a drink? I ordered this just before you
Dom, mouthwash of the gods. "Oh, you're in a part yin '
mood?" She smiles and returns his old boy grin.
A wink a slink and a smile over to the desk, then sit on
the edge and cross the legs like a real lady, the hem pulled
slightly for a preview. Never fails. "I didn't say I couldn't
mix business with pleasure. I'd love some, thank you." Her
watch makes a quiet beep as she marks the time. We're on
the clock, though he needn't know. She peers into the open
sample case on the floor. Shit. Shit and Hell.
A salesman. He sells pens. A pen salesman.
Not a CEO or even a VP. Pens. Not computers, not
Caribbean vacations, not furs or jewelry or international real
estate - nothing of real value. A bagful of cheap crap pens
like the kind people always give away because they never
work. So much for the pushover thing; this is going to be
like a fucking swap-meet in Calcutta.
You play the wife, or the daughter, the best friend or
just the girlfriend -usually you have to mix them all and
hope for the best. It's never easy being the perfect woman.
She manufactures a smile. The poor bastard's probably been
hawking pens for thirty years and he brings me the glass like
it's a beer for his date at the frat party. "What are we
"We're celebrating me," he says. ''I'm back. I won the
big account. Me." She raises her glass to meet his.
"Congratulations, Frank!" She uses the wink she
learned in the beginning - you wink one eye while the
other eye stares dead at the target. "Here's to Frank." The
glasses touch, "May you come back again and again." He
downs his glass as she takes a sip, feels the bubbles marching
down her throat. Frank the pen man. The big account
man. Ball point Frank, with a pen for you in any color he's
wearing on his body. The pen, Ie stylo, my lusty low.
"Frank, this is wonderful champagne."
He beams. "Would you like another?"
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
"No thank you." Show your tits but keep your wits, the
girls always say.
"I do." She watches him pour. He seems to be less
nervous. He's looking at her legs and she realizes he's not
fatherly at all, unless he's the kind of father who doesn't let
you sleep alone.
She pulls a strand of hair in front of her face and twirls
it around a finger - "We
should really get the
formalities out of
the way" - and
smooths it back
behind her ear.
"What kind of card do
you want to put this on?"
"Do you take
She laughs, "Hardly."
Mistake; he means it. "Just
cards or cash. Or ... we take
Frank looks around
the room, confused,
for a split second
almost panicked. If she
tells him his wallet is
in the robe pocket, Echeveria pulvinata
where he just put it, then
he'll know she's just
thinking about money. He finds it, looking
relieved and embarrassed, and removes the corporate card
- statements are sent directly to the office. "Amex?"
She nods. "Oh, writing me off, eh?" She pouts the sexy
pout and smooths her hem. "Don't write me off, Frank. I'll
make it worth your while." A hint of impending joys can
bring up the tip ten to twenty bucks. He hands her the card
and watches as she steps around to sit behind the desk,
removes the voucher from her purse and aligns it on top of
the card, all in one smooth motion.
"Can I borrow a pen?" He laughs. She laughs. Of
course, keep it. Thank you. She rubs the pen across the chit
until the imprint comes through. "Frank Dennett." She looks
up, "That's a nice name," and resumes rubbing for numbers
and expiration date. The blurring movement of the female
hand over a credit card can become an erotic experience for
some, especially if you lean forward so they can see down
the front. She tilts her head up, smiles and shakes her hair
like the models on soaps. It works on him, too. Hovering
over her with a bit of a sway, he looks directly at them. She
winks. "Well, Frank Dennett, what should we put you down
"Excuse me, Monique, I hate to seem ... " He gets that
nervous look, which makes her uneasy. It's the "salesman"
or "good looking young exec who expects it for free" look;
they're the same. It must be such a shock for them the day
they find out no one's giving it away anymore. She holds
the sigh her whole body wants to succumb to.
" ... so ... "
Damn! Cheap. "Yes?" Damn, damn!
"Well, for the minimum rate
you get a head-to-toe massage to
relax your tired muscles." She
rubs his chubby wrist.
"And beyond that?"
Offer the fake discount. Make him feel special. She
touches her tongue to the rim of the glass. "Not for you -
for you it's for as long as you want." Felt Tip Frank won't
last the full hour anyway. Face it. It's a market economy in
here for the next however long, and I'm the market. "That's
on top of the hourly, of course. It really isn't so much,
Frank. You know, the cost of living in this city is a good
twenty percent over almost anywhere else in the country."
Maybe twice as much as in your hick town. Fat troll.
"That's true."lf this is the way Frank comes "back,"
she's positive nobody ever noticed he left.
She feigns taking him into her confidence, and whis-pers.
"Anyway, be glad you're at LaGuardia. At
Kennedy they charge thirty bucks more."
She conjures a cutesque giggle to let him
know it is a joke. Uneasy silence is
) , invaded by his quickening .
"" "''-,,-..u , 1~ bourboned breaths.
_ ~ "And that just makes a
'~ '\ girl like me want to give
__ """s~. \\ more than a hundred
'1 percent." She takes his 1 hand and feels the perspira-
I (:! tion. Clammy. Slowly she
" T '" blows warm breath into his palm
, ;~•., . and stares at the heartbeats jumping
:, ~~ " from his wrist. His hand smells like
ll: " \ food and sweat and cologne and her , i stomach gives a lurch toward the
"Anything besides the massage
can be arranged in the form of a tip."
She runs the back of her hand along
the robe's coarse silk. Ferocactus latispinus vomit feeling that's been coming
"Ahh. How much is the tip?"
Come on, pen man, you're trying to
talk me down! What'd you do, shoot your wad on room
service? What do you expect and where can you get it
cheaper at this time of night, pen man? That's white? In a
recession? That'll pretend to be able to stand you? That isn't
festering and incurable? And how do I know where the hell
you've been? She begins to hate this fat man. Not personally,
in general. Why the hard sell? Why do they feel
cheated if you don't end up getting fucked and screwed?
She realizes she's tapping his pen on the desk impatiently.
Hold on. Now - stick out the chest, keep the voice soft and
provocative. Work this through; a dollar lost is forever gone.
"It depends on what you're looking for." She uses the
seductive voice and the sexy smirk. "There's French, Greek
... Russian ... I can take you to countries that aren't even on
the map." Old lines, pure kitsch, but lost sex-starved layover
bastards like the pen man have swallowed it whole.
"I can take you places, Frank. For one hundred more."
Come to Shangri-la, to Eden, to some kind of decision.
"A hundred an hour, huh?"
earlier every time. She concentrates
on being alone with a drink, probably
in an hour, and the feeling retreats.
Another airplane lands. Frank's voice is uneven,
"Those planes must drive you up the fuckin' wall."
Keep him on course. Under control, she kisses the back
of his hand. She takes a deep breath through her mouth and
whispers warm air, "You'd be surprised how easy it is to
just ignore it." You can ignore anything if you put him out
of your mind.
"And when does the time start?"
His eyes have already peeled her open. She can feel
them trying to eat right through her. "The clock starts
ticking when you sign the voucher. Most girls I know begin
when they give you their names. God knows that's what
we're supposed to do, but I don't think it's fair, do you?"
She rises and falls in an exaggerated sigh. "Do you always
do what you're supposed to, Frank?" She slides her other
hand down the black hose, removes her shoes. Christ, they
hurt her feet. "Or do you believe we're really just supposed
to all love each other? You can't do that and be a clockwatcher
at the same time." He's not worried about time. She
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
knows he can barely think - probably doesn't know what
day it is.
"You get what you pay for ... Frank." He actually licks
his lips. She sees how he enjoys it when she trails the back
of his pen down the front of his robe. "Come on, Frank."
The pen falls and her hand continues. "You want to celebrate,
don't you? Let's make this a night to remember."
She doesn't let go of his eyes, which avoid hers. "Let's
Frank stands like a mannequin, still and quiet in his
loud robe. He stares at her painted toenails through the black
nylon. It excites him to think of a woman taking the time to
do something so perfectly, to please a man. "We ... have,"
he blurts out, "My wife ... has these chickens ... at home ...
in our kitchen ... on the table." He clears his throat. "Actually,
they're napkin rings ... that you put napkins in, made of
wood, shaped and painted like chickens." His eyebrows
arch. "And I hate them, and she knows it. And ... she's got
them lined up and set up at their places on the table ...
stuffed with napkins ... always ... one in front of each chair
... even when it's just me and her. And I hate them." He
stops to blowout a tension breath. "And the problem is ...
the house ... the whole house is like that. Everything is so
much ... hers ... without me ... that when I'm there it's like I
don't fit in." He clears his throat and sways. He looks into
her eyes. "It's like, if I died it wouldn't even matter because
there's still the chickens." He leans one hand on the edge of
He watches a single tear trail down her face. It rests at
the edge of her mouth and she folds her lips inward to
reclaim it. "Poor Frank," she mouths without voice, blinking,
willing her eyes dry. "Poor Frank."
He downs the remains of his glass, barely able to
swallow. "Put me down for the one hour basic, Monique,
and also that tip, and then we'll see about anything else?"
Sold. She smiles. No one ever tells them it's okaythe
trolls - especially their wives; which is why the pen
man just laps it up. That and the You Must Tell Me Your
Story eyes. Christ, you can tell them to fuck off and they
hear I Love You. Poor Frank. Poor, Poor, Lost, Sensitive,
Lonely, ball point Frank. Your story's as much a wash as
any of them. Where's your wife tonight, Frank? Are there
kids? Do they hate you, or haven't they found out they
should? She lifts the credit slip to her mouth and leaves a
"Why don't you just sign your name on the voucher,
Frank, walk your big handsome self over there, pour me a
bit more of that champagne, and let me slip off that sexy
robe, and we'll just fill in all the little numbers when you
say we should."
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
His spirits lifting, he heads for the champagne like a
schoolboy picking flowers for teacher.
He even believed Monique was her real name.
Nick Bandoul'eris of New York,New York. got the ideafor WOOOen
Chickens following a boring night in a hotel, nothing on 1V, and a walk
through the WOOOen Animal Napkin Ring section of a Pottery Barn. He has
been writing since he was an undergrad at Slallford and is looking forward
to writing more urban short stories dealing with racism and people who
create obstacles for the purpose of eluding folfi1/~nJ. He currently owns
and operates In Your Ear Productions, an audio/video production company
in NYC. Nick says, "Wooden Chickens would not have been completed
without the support and persistence of his fiancee , Theresa Case." This was
the first contest Nick had ever enJered.
By Maureen Cannon
Always it is the sudden dark surprise
That stops the breath. Oh, I have clearly learned
This death of your by heart. I have grown wise
Among the lines of that long poem, returned
Again, again to find that deep within
The puzzle answers hide, the little cores
Of comfort, even peace. I can begin
To breathe you into all the open pores
Of my own body now, not shattering.
You would be proud, I think. And strong? Dear love -
They are synonymous - survivals bring
Such strengths as shake a world! And, thinking of
The way you teased, remembering your eyes,
I callout "Miracles! Look, love, how sane
I am, how brave ... "
until the dark surprise
Kills every word and stops the heart and pain
Is what the world's about, the awful breadths
Of pain. There are so many little deaths.
Maureen Cannon of RUigewood, New Jersey, has been writing since
childhood because the words were at hand, in her heart and in her head.
The idea for Anniversary came from the death of her husband. Maureen
says that any experience as shattering as the profound loss of a beloved
spouse eventually must be expressed. The words for the poem came easily
and ~ the feelings. She has been published almost 1,000 times in
such publications as Good Housekeeping, McCalls and The New York
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
A Funny Thing Happened
By Grace Rasmussen
Proverbs, words and grammar - inflections convey the
public sense with more purity and precision than the wisest
A funny thing happened on the way to become a writer.
I became a gleaner.
I followed Walt Whitman to become his child and when
I went forth every day I became the first object I looked
I learned along with Scout from Atticus in To Kill a
Mockingbird that in spite of the overly pious and ignorant,
most people are nice.
I followed Robert Russell, the blind author of To Catch
an Angel to find that wounds heal from the bottom up and
that poetry is the purest language of the human spirit.
With John Muir, in journey upon journey in our wild
America, I liked what he advised parents about letting their
children walk with nature to see the blending of life and
death so that they could learn that death is stingless; only
I pondered on our warring world of today as I went To
leruselem and Back with Saul Bellow as he told of the walls
of ancient cities being hung with the skins of the vanquished
and I agreed with him when he said that beauty makes it
painful to think of aggression and defense, superpowers,
terrorism or war.
Then I sat at the knee of the gentle grandfather of all
grandfathers, Carl Sandburg, to hear those wonderful stories
he told his children. In one lecture to children on poetry he
said that from works of art and books of poetry and songs
our eyes will pick out intentions or something not seen
before in people.
I leaned heavily on every word of Doris Schweirin's
Diary of a Pigeon Watcher. I went with her and her mother
to the Boston library to see the allegorical figures of Music
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
and Poetry, Knowledge and Wisdom and Truth and Romance.
I believed her when she said. "I am strong ...
Strength is a responsibility. Doubt is a disease, indecision a
plague and confusion a sin."
Yes, a funny thing did happen to me on the way to
becoming a writer. I gleaned a wealth of respect for
"We write from aspiration and antagonism as well as
Grace Rasmussen of Manilla , Iowa, has been writing since 1960 because
her family was growing up and she had time to read and enjoy literature.
The idea for A Funny Thing Happened came from realizing how much she
had gleaned and enjoyedfrom other aUlhors. A homemaker and "profes·
sional" volunteer, Grace is most proud of having written two young adult
novels, Billie Girl and BG's Butterflies.
The Bar Mitzvah
By Elayne Clift
Daniel was a boy who had learned early in his life what
was expected of him. When he was an infant, he intuited
that his mother picked him up more often when he did not
cry than when he did. Later, he understood that to gain her
approval, he had only to eat. When his parents argued, as
they did quite frequently, he knew to leave the room until
their voices had trailed off into cold war silence. And at
school, he quickly learned that social justice was not very
popular. This he gleaned through a number of experiences.
Once, when another child called him "son of a Jew-bitch,"
the teacher ignored it. Another time he was summoned to
the principal's office and accused of being racist because he
had charged that a black teacher played favorites, helping
those students who excelled in math while ignoring the
And so, by the time he was approaching thirteen, he
understood precisely what he must do to prepare for his bar
mitzvah, the day of recognition by his Jewish community
for which his parents had agonized, planned and foregone so
He studied diligently and remained calm as the day
drew near, letting his parents grow nervous and irritable,
even as they absorbed the attention and accolades directed
"That's quite a boychik you have there, Samuel. A real
mensch!" the neighbors said to his father as they shuffled in
and out of his hardware store. "He'll make you proud next
"From your mouth to God's ear!" shrugged his father,
pretending not to take the comments seriously.
Later, at home, his mother said nothing, only beaming
at Daniel as she and his father huddled over the guest list
"We should have had Sid Cohen, I'm telling you. His
mother would turn over in her grave to know we didn't
invite him," said Sarah, his mother.
"That schlemiel! Why should I have him? His father
robbed me blind!" stormed Samuel.
And so it had gone for months.
For Daniel, the event still seemed distant and surreal, an
embarrassing extravagance that belonged to his father, like
an oversized fur coat which made him seem all the more
shabby for being lost in it. But with the generosity of his
spirit, Daniel, a late-life only child, feigned enthusiasm,
even difficulty mastered, every day after school as he
practiced with the rabbi, because he knew it was expected of
The only time during all his months of preparation he
had allowed himself the reverie of imagining his success
was when he sat next to Mindy Warner in Social Studies.
Mindy was for him the ultimate Aryan. She gave meaning,
class to the word 'shiksa,' and imbued all 'goyim' with
purity and an elitism free from snobbery. For Daniel, she
was everything to be envied in the gentile life - a simple,
elegant, kind presence, free of fear, guilt and anger. On top
of that, she was so pretty. Often, he would find himself
gazing at her arms, crossed gently across her desk as she
listened attentively to the teacher. He wanted sometimes to
touch her arm, to trace the delicate golden hairs that traveled
in a gentle wave from her wrist to her elbow, but of course,
he never did. Instead, he would gaze into her large dark eyes
framed by blonde lashes which exactly matched her hair,
and then she would smile at him, because secretly, in the
way that twelve year old girls do, she loved him.
Mindy came often to see Daniel at home, and at his
father's hardware store. She sensed that it helped him to
tolerate the foibles of his father, who had survived the
Depression years, and who knew secrets of the Holocaust
too terrible to tell, even though he was not there. Besides,
she liked watching Daniel as he went about his chores. He
was quick in his leanness, and sure-footed and when he
looked up and smiled at her from beneath his shock of dark
hair, it was like sharing a great secret. She marveled at his
patience and quiet energy, which she did not realize he took
from her presence.
When Daniel's jobs were done, he and Mindy would
escape to his bedroom to listen to records or to talk about
the books they were reading or the movie they had just seen.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
"It's not right!" his father would say to Sarah in a
hoarse whisper. "What do they do in that bedroom, Daniel
and the 'shiksa'?"
"Sha," Sarah would answer. "He's a child. She's a
friend. So what could they be doing? Leave him!"
On the Wednesday before his Bar Mitzvah, Daniel
"I want you to come," he said to Mindy.
"But, Daniel, it's only for your Jewish friends."
"You're my best friend, Mindy. It wouldn't be the same
without you. I want you to come." He was resolute. "Let's
go tell my mother. She'll have to make a place for you at
one of the tables."
He had thought about this for a long time. It just didn't
seem right not to have her there. It was only the thought of
her watching him that gave relevance to the ceremony. The
actual words moved him little. But when he pictured
chanting mournfully and saw himself swaying in prayer, a
sense of timeless Judaic tradition came over him. He felt
transcended beyond Brooklyn in 1954. He saw himself
dovening in the temples of Europe and of all the world
backward in time and forward in space as far as he could
imagine. And in that moment, the significance of his
personhood at a Jewish male humbled him and gave to his
bar mitzvah its meaning. It was like a greatjoumey, and
who better to share it with than Mindy?
"Ma," he said as they entered the kitchen. "Mindy is
coming to my bar mitzvah."
Sarah was silent. She nodded tentatively to Mindy.
"What kind of craziness is this?" Samuel
demanded of his wife in Yiddish. "What is he
for the ... you know. You'd like that, wouldn't you, Mandy?
It's Mandy, right?"
Mindy looked at Daniel. She wanted to weep for his
humiliation, which he hid behind rage as he glared at his
"We'll talk about it later," Sarah said quietly. "Why
don't you children go for an ice cream. Your father and I
"That's good. An ice cream. Here. Daniel, take some
money and buy her an ice cream," Samuel said, pulling a
wad of bills from his pocket. Sarah and Daniel both cringed.
It was the wad of one dollar bills Wrapped in a hundred
dollar note that Samuel liked to flash in the store so that his
cronies would think he was doing well. "Have a double
scoop. Whatever you want."
"Big spender," said Sarah teeth clenched, "but you
can't spare $9.50. You make me sick," she added when the
children had gone.
Outside, Daniel slumped to the front stoop, dropping
his head into his hands. Mindy sat down close beside him.
"Never mind," she said. "It's the ceremony that's
important. I'll come for that. I wouldn't miss that part for
''I'm sorry, Mindy. I should have asked when you
weren't there. But it is my goddamn bar mitzvah!"
"Never mind," Mindy said again. "Let's go get an ice
cream. Maybe he'll change his mind."
But in the end he never did in spite of Sarah's ruthless
urging and Daniel's cold, angry silence.
"Sha," said Sarah, seeing the look on
Daniel, who had understood his father
Shabbas came and with it a cold crispness
echoed in the nervous exchanges between
Sarah and Samuel as they dressed.
"You know, Daniel, everything is
arranged already. It's not so easy to change.
I'm sure the girl understands." Samuel smiled
at Mindy, but only with his mouth.
"Adding one person is no big deal.
You can fix it, Ma, can't you?" To his
father, he said, "She's my friend.
"I suppose it wouldn't hurt if
she comes to the scheul," Samuel
said to Sarah, as if both children
had vanished. "But not to the
reception. After all, nine dollars
and fifty cents a head. Besides, it's
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
"You couldn't pick a nicer tie? Since
when is red your color? And stripes yet!
Who wears stripes for their son's bar
"So who's asking you to wear it?
Hurry up! Hurry up! You'll be late for
your own funeral!"
Daniel had bathed.early and
dressed in his dark suit and white
shirt. He felt only slightly nervous.
The rabbi had said his voice, which
had already broken, was "an
instrument from God," and he
knew his Torah reading well.
That was the only part that
mattered to him. The party afterward was for his parents.
Mindy had promised to be at the synagogue in plenty of
time to find a seat up front. He wondered what she would
wear and pictured her in pink with a bow in her hair.
When they arrived at Temple Beth El, guests were
already beginning to gather. Daniel's parents were to go to
the sanctuary while he had a last word with the rabbi. He
looked long at his parents, as if he were going away on a
journey. His mother, whom he loved in spite of what harsh
years had done to her, bit her lip and grasped him to her
bosom, holding him. Then she did her best to smile. Daniel
looked down, extending his hand to his father. Samuel
grasped it while his other arm took Daniel's shoulder in a
clumsy half-embrace. Neither spoke.
From the pulpit, the congregation was a sea of faces. He
saw, of course, his mother and father. Then his Aunt Bessie
and Mrs. Silverman and Mr. Abrams. But he couldn't find
It was only when he came forward to read from the
Torah that he saw her in the third row. She looked like a
fairy tale princess, he thought, with her hair pulled back in a
pink ribbon, just as he had imagined, and white lace gloves
on her hands. He smiled just as he did whenever she waited
for him in the hardware store and she beamed back at him
and then lowered her head so no one would notice a stranger
in their midst.
And then, suddenly, it was over and everyone was
suffocating Daniel and pressing envelopes into his hands
and telling him how wonderful he had been and Mindy was
During the party he smiled and shook hands and
thanked everyone. "So now you're a man!" they each said to
him, as if they were the only one to think of it. He watched
his parents as they danced in his honor, pride pouring out of
their expansive girths, and dutifully did the 'hora' with
them. He tried to look interested in the standard bar mitzvah
lunch of overcooked chicken, and for the cake cutting
picture, he managed a broad grin. And then mercifully it
was over, and exhausted, he climbed into bed and slept like
a dead man.
The next day his mother wakened him. "Someone's
here to see you!" she chirped and somehow, from her look,
he could tell it was Mindy. He quickly slid into his jeans and
brushed his hair, as he pulled on his polo shirt.
"Hi," he said casually as he entered the kitchen. "So,
"It was great!" Mindy said. "You did such a good job."
"Thanks. You didn't miss much at the party."
"I brought you a little present," Mindy said. "It's not
much, but I hope you like it."
Daniel opened the small rectangular box, wrapped in
silver paper with a white bow, and pulled out a leather
"I hear you get a lot of money for a bar mitzvah,"
Mindy said by way of explanation.
"Thanks, Mindy. It's really special," Daniel said as his
. father entered the room in his plaid woolen bathrobe. "I
really like it."
"More loot?" asked Samuel, chortling to himself. Then
noticing the guest, he pulled his robe tighter. "Well, if it
"So. You made a pretty penny, huh, son? You should
maybe share some with your old man."
"Samuel!" Sarah said, tilting her head toward Mindy.
"What? It's no secret. It's not a crime to say it cost a
pretty penny, that affair. It's not like I got it coming outa my
ears, you know, although you wouldn't guess the way you
Daniel looked at his father. Suddenly he felt something
he had never felt before, which he couldn't quite describe. It
was like watching a stranger do something perverse and
wanting to distance himself from it so that he would never
have to take responsibility. After a moment, he rose quietly
from the table and went to his room. In a few minutes he
returned, and looking first at his bewildered mother, and
then at Mindy, he handed something to his father. Samuel
took it, and saw that it was Daniel's bar mitzvah money,
rolled into a wad and covered by a one dollar bill. "Take it,"
said Daniel, looking at Samuel. "The bar mitzvah was yours
anyway. Use it to pay the bills." Then, signalling Mindy to
follow him, he walked silently out of the kitchen and down
the stairs to the front stoop.
Years later, when Daniel remembered, which he tried
not to do very often, what remained in his mind's eye was
not his father's large and crude hand with its grotesque
pinky ring reaching for the wad of bills. Nor was it his
mother's stunned gasp, or the swirl of emotions in his
stomach which he now understood to be a mixture of pity,
loss and contempt. What he recalled most vividly, and still
with pleasure and a sense of triumph, was Mindy Warner,
staring wide-eyed and in awe at his gallantry, his courage,
and his sheer bravado.
Elayne Clift of Potomac, Maryland, has been writing since 1985. Writing
had always been an avocation, but she began to take herself more seriously
in mid-life and went "professional" six years ago. Afrequent contributor to
several publications, she is most proud of having wrillen a book of essays
entitled Telling It Like It Is, Reflections of a Not So Radical Feminist.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
Judges On Mount Lemmon
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
By John Ottley, Jr.
jut out from Mount Lemmon
like weather-worn judges
who have held court for eons.
Winds keening up the ridges
plead the cases
now in a whisper, now in a roar
in the best of lawyer styles.
Tall, deputized hemlocks
demand order in the courtroom
among chatty raven jurors
wheeling on rising thermals
in answer to their summonses.
You would wait so long for justice
from the fissured lips of judges
up there on Lemmon's crown.
John Olliey, Jr. , of Atlanta, Georgia, began writing as an
outletfor his griefin 1988following the tragic loss of his 35-
year-old wife to cancer. He got the idea for Judges on Mount
Lemmon during a visit to southern Arizona. Hefound the
poem easy to write because the rock formations looked like
the stern faces of judges staring down, although he struggled
with the rewriting . John has entered over 70 contests and
won numerous awards for poetry.
Open Letter To Unwed Mother
By JoAnn Hatch
Dear Unwed Mother,
Today my granddaughter is 11 years old. The joy and
love this little girl with blue eyes and golden-red hair has
given to me and my family is beyond words.
As I watch her run and play or see the quick mind and
sturdy fingers as she attempts to play the piano or clarinet;
as I see her loving kindness to parents, brothers and sister, I
often say a silent thanks to you, her birth mother, for the
unselfish decision you made.
To me, her grandmother, the braces on her teeth and the .
myriads of freckles on the little nose make her even more
special and beautiful. I wonder, are these some of the things
she inherited from you?
It must have been a hard time when you found yourself
expecting a child you could not care for. It would have been
so easy to have an abortion in this mixed up world of ours.
If you had chosen the abortion, it would all have been over
within a few days and you could have forgotten the whole
My palms sweat, my heart thuds and I feel a pain in my
chest as though a hot iron had been thrust there. I think of
my precious granddaughter that might have, except for your
courageous and caring decisions, ended up as a half formed
fetus in the garbage bin of some hospital or doctors office.
When the day comes, (and it surely will), that this child
asks about her birth mother, you may be sure we will tell her
of the courage and love you showed as you carried her
through the nine months, gave birth, and then made sure she
was placed for adoption with a family who could raise her
with the best possible chance for a happy and productive
Dear Unwed Mother, if you feel remorse and regret for
the course your life took, you should know your daughter is
well loved not only by her mother, father, brothers and
sister, but she has an extended family of cousins, aunts,
uncles and grandparents who love her dearly. She will never
want for the material things of life, though she will not have
an overabundance of them. She will have every opportunity
to develop her talents and become the special person she is
capable of being.
All of these things you gave to her. In the knowledge
that you gave this child the gift of life, and cared enough to
make sure it would be a good life, may you find peace in
your heart and mind.
I am eternally grateful to you,
JoAnn HaJch of Pinedale, Arizona, wrote Open Letter to an Unwed Mother
because of her feelings as her adapted granddaughter turned eleven years
old. She's been writing since 1984 as a way to preserve Arizona andfamily
history. She is most proud of having wrillen a published family history
entitled Ten Southern Families. Her primary occupation is writing and this
was the first contest she had ever entered.
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE VOL. 14
By Robert Walton
Indio smiled as a summer storm broke around him. Fat
drops splattered on his pony's head, shattered on his
shoulders. The red ochre which covered hi
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