A Publication of The Arizona Authors' Assodatioo
•• •• •• •• •• •• •• •
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
ARIZONA AUTHORS' ASSOCIATION
ANNUAL LITERARY CONTEST
Design and Layout
Cover and Inside Art
©1997 Arizona Authors' Associations 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.
Arizona Authors' Association serves as an educational, information, and referral
source for its members. The nonprofit organization provides guidance and
assistance on matters relating to fiction and nonfiction authorship, marketing,
self-publishing, publicity, promotion, poetry, and screen writing.
Membership is available in four categories: Professional - which is open to any
published writer including freelance writers, journalists and poets; ~ ociate
membership which is open to any writer working toward publication; Affiliate
which includes any person or firm offering professional services (typing editing,
art, graphic deSign, printing, marketing, etc.); and Student for full time students,
age twenty-one and under, for half price.
For more information contact Arizona Authors' Association at 3509 Shea Blvd,
Suite 117, Phoenix, AZ 85028-3339 or call (602) 942-9602.
Penny Porter - A fonner teacher and school administrator, Penny has sold her eighteenth story
to Readers Digest. A Runaway Love, will appear this spring. Her other works have appeared in
a wide range of national magazines including Arizona Magazine, Catholic Digest, Guideposts,
Honda and Arizona Fanner & Rancher. She has published two books of nonfiction, two fiction
and is current president of the Society of Southwestem Authors. Penny lives with her husband
and six children on a remote cattle ranch. in Cochise County, Arizona.
Bill Grover - Bill has published a history of the two party system and a biography, Ed Meese,
The Man in the Middle. He wiltes· a syndicated column called "Smoke Filled Room" and is
currently working on a book about the trial of fonner govemor of Arizona Fife Symington, which
he covered for CBS News. He is a graduate of Columbia and president of the local alumni
William Volk - Also cover artist and illustrator for this issue, William is an architectural graduate
of Comell University, now retired after practicing his profession in many parts of the WOrld,
including Bagdad, Iraq. The managerial aspects of his work involved writing, editing others
writings and presenting technical/aesthetic specialties of American society to foreign nationals.
Sketching and drawing in various media has been a lifelong avocation, and he has done several
previous Arizona Authors publications.
Frederick Frank - Arizona publisher and author Frederick Frank was in the process of moving
Vernette Goats - A native of Arizona, Vemette has been writing poetry, essays and screenplays
for about 30 years. Many of her short plays, stories and poems have appeared, especially in
motivational business publications.
Bill White - Bill has published a book of poems, Journey and is working on a screenplay. He
works at Honeywell as a drafter.
Jim Pierce - A graduate of Ohio State University, Jim writes screenplays. He lives in Sun City,
Mabel Leo - Before publishing The Saga of Jack Durant (a Phoenix restaurateur with a
mysterious, possibly mob-connected, past) Mabel wrote weekly feature columns for four Florida
newspapers. She's currently working on two new biographies; one on the adventures of an Xrated
barber and the other on World War" in Italy.
Katharine Horn - Because she's a fonner USAF intelligence/special security Officer, Katharine
has written military/political analyses. These and her country stories have been published in
reference books and OIA documents. She is currently writing short pieces freelance.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Chocolate Bar. ..... .......... .... ...... .... .................. ...... ... ........ ....... ..... .............. ...... ......... 1
Lightening, and Monsters and Bugs, Oh My .......... .. ........... ... ..... ..... ... ....... ........ ... .. ... .... 3
Of Friendship & Mountains .. .. .... ...... ....... .. ............. .............. ..... ......... ........... ......... ... ...... 7
Fridendship On A Golden Afternoon ..... .. ..... .. ...... ... .. .... ..... ... ... .. .. ..... ... .. .. 0' ••• •• ••••••• • • • •••• 11
A Gift From My Daughter. .............................................. ............................................... 14
Is This the Yin and Yang of China's Future ................................. ..... .... .... .. ..... ... .. .... .... 16
Sit Quite Spirit. ........................... ..... ............................................ ........................... ....... 22
The Basket ........... ........................ ..... .. ..... ........... ............ ......... ....... .. ........................... 23
Sing With me ... .. ........ .............. .... ... .. ........ ............. ....... ...... ...................... ....... ........... .. 24
The Quiet Desert ..................... ........ ... .. ........................................ .. ......... .. ................... 25
A Prayer With Wings ..................................................... ...................................... .. ....... 26
What Hands? .... .................. ... ......... ... .. ... .... .... ......... ..... .................... .. .......... ......... ...... 27
Urban Pavilions .............. .. .... .... ... .. .. ............ ........................................................ ...... ... 28
Showdown ................... .. ........................................ ...... ......... .... ........ .............. .. ............ 29
Contradictions .......................................................... .. .. ............. .... ............... ..... ... ... ..... . 31
Benny's Pinkie ... ... ... ........... .... ...... .. ...... ................. .. ......... .. ... .... ..... .... ....... .. ..... .... ...... .. 32
Just The Way I Told 'Em ... .... .... ..... ..... ....... ......... .. .. .... .. ....... ... ..... ... .. .. ........... ........ ...... 39
A Wonderful Day .......... .. ... ....... ..... .... .. .... ...... ... ....... ..... ... .... ......................................... 43
Colors .......................... ... .. ... .. .. ............ ........................... ... ........... ................................ 49
The Enabler ...... ... ... .... ........ ..... ........ .... ............................... ..... ..... ...... ................. .. ....... 51
The Betrayal of Johanna Granville .................. ..... .. ......... .. .................. ........ .. ........... .... 58
1998 Contest Rules
ESSAY - FIRST PRIZE
THE CHOCOLATE BAR
By LIZA GUZMAN
The cellar where Mama,
Grandpapa and I have hidden is cold
and damp. The walls feel slimy. It
doesn't seem a very good place to
hide, but Grandpapa says we have
nowhere else to go. someone took our
Three nights ago, the radio said
the Americans, English, and French
crossed our western border. The
Russians are coming from the east.
Mama says the was is almost over and
Papa will come home soon.
Outside, a low rumble booms
like a storm on the way. We first heard
it yesterday morning. I think it's getting
Grandpapa says we must be
strong and brave because we are
Germans. We mustn't be afraid, he tells
me, but Grandpapa looks scared. So
Mama--scared. Mama is never
scared of anything. She wasn't even
scared when two men came to our
house and took the last of our food -
cabbages and apples from the cellar.
"You had best be going," Mama
said to them. "I'm sure the Russians
are nipping at your heels."
My mother and grandfather are
terrified of th.e Russians. I can see it in
their faces. Mama's smile always
disappears when she says the word
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
All day long, we read books or
knit or crochet. Mama darns a sock.
Grandpapa plays checkers with me.
Before we came down to the cellar,
Mama moved clothes, blankets, jars of
food, candles and other things
downstairs. Grandpapa laughed when
he carried an old chamber pot from the
attic because there's no bathroom in
the cellar. He said he hadn't used one
since he was a boy.
When Mama and Grandpapa
think I'm asleep, they talk in voices so
soft I can barely hear what they say.
My eyelids get heavy, but I try to stay
awake to hear them talk.
"When do you think they'll get
here?" Mama asks.
"I don't know, " Grandpapa says.
"We may get lucky. Maybe they won't
come through Werl."
"And maybe it won't be the
Russians." She whispers the last word.
All is quiet now. I crack my eyes
just a bit and watch Mama pray.
It's morning. the squeal of a car
wakes me. I hear footsteps in the
courtyard. Granndpapa puts his finger
to his lips to signal for us to every
quiet. someone's coming into the
house. I can't tell how many people are
moving around upstairs. The footsteps
fade away. I think they've gone up to
the second floor.
Mama and I nestle under a
blanket. My heart beats so loudly, I can
hardly hear the footsteps anymore. I
look up at Mama. Her face is as white
as new snow.
After a long time, the cellar door
whines open. Mama scolded
Grandpapa just the other day about
oiling the hinges. I guess he forgot.
Heavy boots thud on the stairs.
Someone comes down the steps,
Mama holds me a little tighter.
Grandpapa raises his hands in
A soldier points his gun at us,
then lowers it. "Guten Tag,' he says.
His German sounds funny. He doesn't
look like our soldiers. Another soldier
stands behind him. The other man
doesn't speak. He just peeps around
the first man and stares at us. That's
not the oddest part. Both men are
black. All black, except for big white
teeth. I've never seen men who where
black all over, like a cookie Mama left
in the oven too long. The first soldier
says something I don't understand. He
smiles, a nice, big smile that turns into
a grin. "The war. Over," he says in
He searches his pockets and
takes something out. He hands it to
I look at Mama and Grandpapa
to see if I can take it.
Mama nods, her hand pressed
hard against her mouth.
I smile, take the chocolate bar,
and thank him, just like Mama taught
"They're Americans," Mama
says looking up at Grandpapa.
Mama and Grandpapa begin to
The big black soldier continues
to smile. A tear rolls down his check
Liza Guzman lives in Round Rock, TX
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 2
ESSAY....; SECOND PLACE
LIGHTNING, AND MONSTERS
AND BUGS, OH MY
By LORNA SOROKO
Ever since the 1994 Northridge
Earthquake, I have been highly attuned
to natural disasters.
I left Los Angeles after the
earthquake to get away from the
cQnstant waiting and wondering when
ttie next quake was going to hit. You
can't relax in LA, not ever, not even at
3:00 a.m. in the cozy comfort of your
own bed, because you might be
shaken out of it at any moment. I was
getting tired of the jittery game of
beating _ the odds in earthquake
So I moved to a place where
earthquakes are possible but not
probable, and clearly not a certainty.
The ground in Tucson is (thankfully)
solid, steadfast, reliable-.
I woke up my first morning in
Tucson thinking that, for the first time in
ages, I had slept without wondering
whether the house would be standing
il1 the morning. As I congratulated
myself on the wisdom of my move, I
noticed a sound - like my phone wires
were shorting out, sizzling, doing some
kind of electronic symphony. Dreading
what I would find, I went outside and
looked up. No sparks, everything
seemed to be in order.
Then I remembered that in The
Bean Trees (which I had just finished
reading), the main character is tortured
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
by the relentless screaming buzz of the
July cicadas in Tucson. I hadn't known
what she was talking about when I read
. it. These must be cicadas, I realized.
And so I was introduced to my new
world of insects.
At that point, I was feeling pretty
much in charge - the cicadas didn't
bother me. The challenges in Tucson
are pretty puny Gompared to
earthquakes, I thought with dangerous
That night a four-inch Palo
Verde beetle strolled thorough my
bedroom. Aagh! I screamed, then
looked down and saw a slightly smaller
version beetle clinging to my T-shirt,
unrattled by my outburst. I flung it off,
and ran into the living room, barefoot.
the saltillo tile floor was covered with
little beetles, which crunched under my
heels before I realized what they were.
I raced to the bedroom for an aspirin,
opened the medicine cabinet, and a
lizard leapt out at me. I was in hell.
The next day the weather
topped 106 and my swamp cooler
stopped working. The city was tearing
up a nearby street and they had hit the
water main. No water all day. The
house was a humid sweaty swamp. I
could barely move. All I felt qapable of
doing was sitting on the couch, gulping
But then, through a slight crack
in the mini-blinds, I saw the mailman.
So I dragged myself off the couch and
outside to the mailbox, which stood at
the top of a mound of rocks, too high
for me to reach without stepping up
onto the mound. I took a step, then
another, and suddenly all the rocks
came undone and crumbled down. My
feet flew up in the air and I flew right
behind them, landing on my head .
After I got over the shock and
felt for blood (there wasn't any), I sat
up and took stock, dazed. I was sitting
on a triple digit deserted sidewalk, in a
city where I knew two people. One of
them was in New York for a few days,
the other. my neighbor, wasn't home.
My good friend in Bisbee was on the
road , and I was all alone with a
significant, scary bump on my head. I
burst out crying , finally limped inside,
and called 911. Go to Urgent Care,
they said .
Okay. Somehow I forced myself
into the car and headed towards the
hospital, where I remembered seeing
an Urgent Care sign. On my way there,
I got caught in the first monsoon of the
season . seventy-five mile per hour
winds. palm fronds slashing by my
Windshield . flash floods swallowing up
cars. and lightning turning the sky into
a massive wall socket.
My hubris disappeared , totally
and completely. What had I done, why
was I here, what kind of crazy suffering
had I traded earthquakes for?
I think that my first few days in
Tucson were a test was I tough
enough for my new desert life? To
survive in Los Angeles, you need to be
hyper-vigilant, ready for the earth to
split, the riots to blare, the fires to
ravage, the traffic to attack. This does
not require toughness, but rather a
highly strung , insecure, unjustified
bravado, with no underlying foundation
of capability or judgment. The desert is
an entirely different matter.
In Tucson, there are daily
natural challenges, but you know that
1997 ARIZONA LI TERAR.Y MAGAZINE
some of them, or all of them will
happen to you. Instead of bravado, you
have to develop resources, informed
abilities, and a thick skin, a shift in
perspective so these challenges don't
fill you with horror. Desert dwellers
don't panic. they just deal with it,
whatever it is.
These are some of the natural
disaster that have crossed my path
(mostly vicariously!) since I've lived in
Scorpions: a good friend was
stung in three places when she put on
her robe, another friend was stung
when she got into bed, and a baby I
know was bitten when his mom put on
his tiny shoe.
Rattlesnakes: a rattlesnake
made himself at home under a friend's
coffee table (they never figured out
how it got inside), while another friend
was cornered on her front porch. Most
of us have almost stepped on one
while hiking. One friend was bitten
when he reached for his garden tool
without looking . In an elementary
classroom I visited, one child's brightly
colored artwork declared that "Spring
Lightning: was trapped,
hovering under a tiny rock ledge at the
top of Mount Lemmon, surrounded by
nearby metal towers and sudden
massive, nonstop lightning. A flash
jolted the ground in front of a friend as
she got out of her car to walk into her
house. Another friend was shocked as
she talked on the phone during a
lightning storm. The newspaper
reported that a group of boys practicing
football were all hit, damage unknown,
and that a woman who was vacuuming
was severely singed.
Gila Monsters: a dog I know got
into an unfortunate encounter with a
gila monster ·in his own back yard: a
friend stepped on one on her porch.
Luckily, thinking it was one of her cats,
she lifted her foot quickly, and thus
avoided the dreaded gila monster
Kissing Bugs: three friends have
been bitten by these sinister bugs. Two
had seriously allergic reactions. One
sleeps with misquito netting around the
bed now, to discourage further entry.
Assorted wild animals: One
friend had a Berkenstock (quite
expensive shoe) stolen by a javelina,
another spotted a huge bobcat in her
front yard, drinking from the dog's bowl.
Someone I know was attacked in her
bedroom by wild squirrels who had
nested in the house, someone else's
dog was bitten by a bat in the living
room. Many Tucsonians have had
close encounters with bears on Mount
Lemmon. And I'm not even going to
think about the friends' pets who have
disappeared with coyotes around.
Flash floods/ monsoons:
someone I know got swept down a
wash in her car, two friends have
gotten stuck trying to cross washes,
and another friend's car was immersed
by mud on her driveway. I got soaked,
while sitting in my car, by a wall of mud
churned up by a truck plowing down a
flooded street. When I got home, my
Arizona Room was a lake, with clay
from the cats' litter box forming a
Mosquitoes: So far, lots of bites,
no dengue, but the scientists assure us
that it's coming soon.
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
Killer bees: No one I know has
had a personal run-in, but what about
those news stories of the sixty-year old
woman routinely walking home who
was lethally attacked, or the man who
was just rocking on his front porch
when they descended?
The list is long, and I've left out
heat stroke, skin cancer, and various
other . heat-related · dangers. Most
people in this desert home have
personal stories for almost all of these
categories. The amazing thing in
Tucson is not the fact of these perils,
but the prevailing attitude towards
Tucsonians are not afraid. They
are alert, non-hysterical, and
systematic about natural disaster. It will
strike, they will most likely survive, and
life goes on.
I am slowly becoming .more like
a Tucsonian and less like an Angelino.
This is how I know it: Yesterday I was
swimming at the health club, calmly
doing laps, when I happened to look
down. there was a snake on the bottom
of the pool. It was not a happy sight.
My heart went into overdrive.
I swam a bit past it, ·then made
myself double back. I floated over it (by
several feet) watching, deciding what to
do. There were kids in the pool, and I
didn't want to cause a panic (forgetting
that desert toughness starts young). No
lifeguard was on duty.
Okay, I can deal with this. I'll
calmly urge everyone out of the pool,
then ask the custodian to lift the snake
out with his long-handled scooping
pole. I swam up the lane a few strokes,
then. floated over the snake again,
about to take action, when I noticed
that it hadn't moved. At all.
That seemed strange, but who
knows what water snakes do? Then
again, how many water snakes can
there be in Tucson? with a glimmer of
suspicion, I dove under, forcing myself
to investigate rather than hightail it out
of the pool. the snake seemed to be
immobile, petrified. I mean really. From
up close, it looked shockingly real, but
Good joke, I thought, coming up
and looking around . No one was
watching me. The kids seemed
oblivious. I swam to the end of the
pool. When I came back, the snake
was gone. Some kid had taken back
his practical joke. Or maybe it had
What amazed me, as I swam the
rest of my laps, was that I hadn't leapt
out of the pool at the first glimpse of the
rest of my laps, was that I hadn't leapt
out of the pool at the first glimpse of the
snake. this experience gave me no
false pride, like my initial, misplaced
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
hubris. Instead, it was more like the
flicker of an "ability to deal with
potential disaster," or ADPD. (In Los
Angeles, there is "fear of potential
disaster," FPD, or "denial of impending
I like this developing desert
attitude. I hope that I don't have to
exercise it often, but I am reassured by
it. I am a desert newcomer, still
flustered by gila monsters, lightning
storms, scorpions, etc. But ADPD is a
lot calmer than FPD or DIP. So I check
my sheets, unplug my appliances in a
monsoon, watch where I step, and
shrug my shoulders.
And I savor the double rainbows,
the smells of mesquite and creosote
after a storm, the excitement of a grid
of lightning, the wild freedom of the
javelinas, the mystery of coyotes, and
the magical sunsets. Tucson's wonders
are closely related to its perils.
Lorna Soroko lives in Tucson and this is her
first contest. Published credits include: Dial "H"
for Hotline; Dead Man Out; Trail and Error; Mrs.
Piggle Wiggle. Her primary occupation is private
investigation and media consultant.
. ESSAY - THIRD PLACE
OF FRIENDSHIP & MOUNTAINS
By JIM DRIESEN
"Check your partner's face for
frostbite," read the hand-written
chalkboard. We were at the top of
Stratton Mountain in Vermont. The
thermometer dangling from a rusty nail
on the list shack read a figure well
below zero and the lift operator was
bundled head-to-toe in an effort to ward
off the wind. He grumpily exited his
warming shack as we appeared out of
the swirling snow, dangling in our chair
like two Icicles on a power line. We
were practically alone on the mountain
-most of the sensible skiers were
huddled around the fire at the base
lodge. But we had three days to ski and
we had no time to waste. We skidded
down the icy mound from the top and
nearly collided in a heap of skis and
poles at the bottom, where sheet ice
made a graceful stop out of the
question: I could hear Mark swearing
softly through the wind, then he looked
over at me and grinned. It was time to
We'd driven up from Albany
early that morning. Several days of on
and off snow made the roads a mess
but promised some fine skiing. I'd
never skied in New England; Mark
grew up in Albany and knew most of
the hills well. I'd started skiing when I
was twenty, a product of the do-ityourself-
or-die method. Mark had skied
all .his life. . With lessons and
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
competition skiing, he had grace and
form; I had determinatidn and a touch
of insanity. We were a gqod mix. It was
Christmas break from corJege - I was
an aging junior on the eight year plan,
Mark was on break from grad school in
DC. He was the political Ii~eral working
on leading the governm~nt someday,
and I was the eccentric j Stumpy (as
forestry students at Syracuse were
called back then) dreaming of living in
the mountains someday. We didn't get
much chance to see each other; we
both sensed that this might be our last
shot at just going crazy for a few days.
So we did.
Plunging down the back slope
first, Mark faded into the white. There's
something about blowing snow on a
mountain top that disorients the skier -
it's hard to tell depth and distance.
Everything is white. You just drop
unexpectedly - trees appear suddenly.
I poled off to follow, the icy wind biting·
at the exposed skin. My eyes watered
inside the goggles. I passed a dark, still
form in the snow and skidded several
yards trying to stop, landing in a heap
on my side. Pushing up, I realized the
dark form was Mark - facing downhill,
his skis above him stuck in the snow.
His poles, almost as tall as he was,
. were lying out of reach downhill.
Pinnochio without the strings, I thought.
It's hard to stand on ice when laughing
uncontrollably and I fell again. The
swearing, mixed with my name, was
not so soft this time as it drifted down
to me. He was stuck. Inching my way
uphill, I gathered poles, hat and other
paraphernalia he'd scattered like so
much flotsam and jetsam, and hauled
Mark up out of the snow. He was right
about one thing - I'd never let him
forget that display of skiing expertise.
We continued on, the cold biting at us.
The snow continued to pile up,
covering our tracks. We · got our
money's worth and retired to the bar at
the base for a warm-up before heading
home for Albany for the night. Mark's
Mom had the beef stew steaming and
ready and we ate a hearty, late dinner.
Despite our plans to paint the town red,
we wound up sleeping soundly before
midnight. The next day would be Mount
Morning came and we piled
back into the Pinto and headed
northeast - the legendary Mount Snow
awaited. More snow and ice on the
roads, and even colder than the day
before, conditions too miserable for the
faint of heart. We got there shortly after
the lifts opened. This was real lUxury -
enclosed chairs. We felt like we were in
a giant Tupperware ™ container, with
legs dangling out the bottom. Cold
legs. In fact, it seemed colder inside
the contraption than outside, though
the break from the frigid wind was
We swapped war stories on the
ride up. I'd spent a few years, against
my will, serving for Uncle Sam. Mark
was a ROTC guy until the honorable
Mr. Nixon dreamed up the lottery
method for the draft. Mark got the high
number and kissed ROTC good-bye - I
got the low number and got drafted.
there was an irony there that I never
quite figured out. Of course, if I hadn't
lost my· student deferment by dropping
out to begin with, I never would have
had that problem. While I was
overseas, only a few people kept
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
writing to me. I eventually married one
- the other was Mark. His letters
lamented the decline of our old
fraternity - of the loves lost and the
loves gained - of the frustrations of
struggling to make a career in the dogeat-
dog world of government and
politics. I wrote back how much I hated
the Army. How I counted the days till I'd
get out - the plans I had concocted to
save the world's environment, to make
my first million. There are certain rare
people that you can sit down with and
the dreams just start flowing and you
feed off each other and long into the
night you can banter back and forth
with an unlimited enthusiasm for each
other's thoughts and yearnings. Helped
along by some Scotch, of course. And
we'd do this in the thirty below wind
chill while riding up a chairlift in
Vermont. Our lives stretched out ahead
of us with no limits, no boundaries. We
skied fast and recklessly and always
tried the hill that looked most
dangerous or difficult. It would have
been a disappointment to do otherwise.
That night I had a damned hard
time staying awake to drive home. It
was dark, the snow seemed to form a
tunnel ahead of the car in the lights.
Mark was dozing, a half-empty beer
can propped in his hand. I stopped
once just to get out and stretch and
slap some snow in my face to wake up.
I knew it was probably safer to drive
asleep than to ask Mark to take the
wheel - riding with him made skiing
down the icy side of Stratton seem like
a bunny hill.
Back in Albany we lounged in
his room atop his parents ancient three
story house - the family home for
generations. The room, the same one
he grew up in, was a veritable museum
to the guy. Here was his unending
collection of college stuff - and
fraternity stuff - mugs and pictures and
memories attached to each and every
one. The picture of JFK I remembered
from his room back in our early days in
the dorms when we first met. JFK was
always with Mark. It wasn't hard to
picture a little Mark, around age 12,
mourning the loss on that bleak
November day in Dallas. But life went
on and JFK would continue to oversee
Mark's career from his position on the
wall. Mark vanished for a few minutes
down the long, narrow steps, and
reappeared with a large bottle of
Scotch - a good brand, too. His Dad
wouldn't notice a few shots missing. By
morning, the bottle was nearly empty,
but we had one more day of skiing left.
It was back to Stratton.
It could be possible to be colder,
I don't know how it would do it. The sky
was a slate gray and tiny flakes of ice
drifted softly down as though the air
itself had frozen into crystals. We didn't
quite get the early start, but made it by
late morning. Once again, the frostbite
signs were up, the wind was howling at
the top of the mountain, and the
visibility for skiing was close to nil.
Perfect conditions. I could tell Mark was
feeling about the way I felt. Not much
sleep, too much Scotch, and a windchill
factor that could make a polar bear
uncomfortable. But it was also knowing
that this was our last day. We plunged
down the slopes with abandon. If we
didn't fall, we weren't skiing hard
enough, and when we did fall, it was a
spectacular, tumbling, snow-spraying
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
affair that would have drawn applause
from onlookers if there were any brave
enough or dumb enough to be out. By
midday we looked like snowmen, the
ice and snow clinging to our clothes.
We clomped our way into the bar at the
base for lunch, where our icy armor
turned to dripping water in the heat
from . the fireplace. The windows were
steamed up and the smoky damp air in
the lodge seemed to cling to us like a
smothering blanket. We had a liquid
lunch that came in pitchers and headed
back out - the wet clothes quickly icing
over as we made our way to the lift.
The steel-gray afternoon was one wild
run after another. Wearily we made our
way back to Albany that night. We
didn't talk much on the ride back and
the next morning, I headed back to
Syracuse and Mark went back to DC. It
had been three days of talking and
laughing and freezing and solving the
problems of the world.
We would convene one more
time in the mountains. It was a year
later at Lake Placid. It was February
and the wind had swept the fresh snow
off the icy slopes making skiing a
hazardous, skidding sideways affair.
The town nestled against the lake,
glistening white with fresh snow on the
ice. We were not quite the free spirits of
wild, reckless abandon of the year
before. Mark had tied the marital knot
over the summer and my own wedding
was coming up in a few months. The
four of us were there for the weekend,
though it was only Mark and lout on
that last day riding that ancient lift up
into the clouds for the final run. Some
fresh snow fell that morning and we
dripped off the lift and looked out at the
finest view the State of New York has
to offer. One of the true rewards of
skiing is the view from the top, looking
out at the peaks of white fading into the
distance as far as you can see.
Sometimes shrouded in clouds and
snow, other times glistening in the sun
on a field of deep blue. Probably as
close to heaven as I'll ever get. We
stood there quietly, leaning into our
poles, soaking in the scene, lost in our
own thoughts. Then, with a grunt,
pushed off for the final run . We flashed
through the lengthening shadows in the
late afternoon sun, cutting two fresh
paths in the new snow. The light
powder fanned out behind us and we
danced our way down hill, cutting back
and forth in front of each other. I could
hear that familiar chuckle, followed by a
curse, when I cut a little too close. We
floated over the final rise and began
down the last slope to the base. We'd
had the perfect run .
That night the four of l}s
ravenously downed an Italian dinner at
a restaurant at the edge of the lake.
Huddled around the table, faces
reddened from the wind and cold , we
planned our futures. Mark and his
spouse would be heading back to
Albany, than to DC. By now he'd
finished his Masters and had a job as a
Senator's aide. I'd be graduating in
May, finally ending the longest
undergrad career in Syracuse history,
and bride in tow, would be heading out
to another range of mountains. We
plotted to meet in Calgary for the
Olympics and ski the Rockies. The
world and life awaited .
It's funny how you pass a
defining moment in life and don't
1 99 7 A RIZONA L ITERARY MAGAZINE
realize it until years, sometimes
decades later. But Mark taught me
something about friendship that I'd
never gotten from anyone else. We
would never make Calgary and we'd
never ski the Rockies. At least not
together. And his drive for the White
House would fall way short when failing
health would force him back to Albany
and a job with the State. But it wouldn't
slow him down and he'd tack on a law
degree to his resume after that. We'd
each had a kid - a boy - and we'd
each be damn proud of him.
When the first stroke hit . Mark,
he fought his way back like he was
fighting his way down the icy slope on
frigid Stratton . . At age forty-two he
clung to life harder than most of us will
ever have to. The second stroke would
do him in, and it was just luck I got a
chance to see him couple of weeks
before. He was saying good-bye
though I didn't know it at the time.
The mountains I hike and ski
now are the Cascades and I live in their
foothills. When I need to readjust my
attitude, I head for a trail or slope of
solitude. And when I'm standing there,
looking at the jagged, glistening peaks
and the sparkling alpine lakes, I don't
stand alone. The friendship I had with
Mark will always be standing with me
when I'm in the mountains - the soft
chuckle and curse - the leaning into
the too-long poles - and maybe
someday, I'll take him skiing in the
Rockies after all.
Jim Driesen lives in Maple Valley, WA and has been
writing for three years. His published works include:
Warning to Parents: Do Not Try This At Home;
Giving Oliver a Good Home; and Making Sense. His
occupation is independent insurance agent.
FRIENDSHIP ON A
By KATHIE BOSELWITZ
Their friendship spanned
decades and ten children between
them. Both were from strict Catholic
backgrounds, although one had turned
the other cheek, while the other still
believed. The older one had a weak
heart and arthritis riddled most of her
joints. She was quiet and reserved with
hair that 'had been silver since she
turned thirty. She appreciated the long
afternoons at the kitchen table sharing
thoughts and fears over tea and coffee.
She enjoyed their friendship immensely
and as time went on she began to rely
on it. She realized that at her age a few
true friends were all she really needed.
The younger one was a hardy
middle-aged woman with a tumultuous
laugh and a wonderful sense of humor.
She lov'ed children and even after hers
were older and in school, she began to
take other children in; her house
always seemed to be bursting with
chaos and laughter. She spoke to the
children all as if they were her peers
and you could tell by the look in their
eyes that they always left her home
feeling as though they were also old
So many hours were spend
sharing thoughts and feelings over that
old battered kitchen table. It probably
knew more about those two women
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
than their children. It was privy to
information that not even the spouses
of these long time friends were. There
were jokes made that only the two
shared and understood. Monumental
amounts of tea and coffee were
consumed over this piece of furniture.
Through it all neither one ever thought
that someday one of them might sit at
the table alone, desperately missing
, This friendship, like most, grew
and changed over time. It started with a
, casual hello, which blossomed into
sharing time while their children played
The older had three, the younger had
seven. Any child who entered the
kitchen to eavesdrop could sometimes
be lucky. enough to catch a moment of
current affa'irs with the local school
district or neighborhood. On most
occasions when passing through, they
were to do exactly that - just pass
through. Grab a snack and "go inside
so the grownups can talk," as one of
the women was known to always say.
As the children grew older the eldest
child of the ten chilaren was fortunate
enough to be a part of some
discussions. Occasionally, she mad~
the beverages just because she
wanted to be included in those adult
conversations. On good days, her
helpfulness was regarded with an
acceptance of one of her everchanging
adolescent viewpoints. On
bad days, she was sent inside to check
on the younger ones. She enjoyed the
conversations so much it was often
worth watching the other children just
for a brief interlude with these two
In both families, each family
member had memories of different
events that occurred over the course of
this friendship. The homecoming of a
new child, the death of a grandparent,
graduations, communions, deparfures
to college, and even the news of a
betrayal by a child that ran so deep and
was so P9ioful it was rarely discussed -
even between these two friends. Yet
because of this closeness between
these two women, it really never
needed to be discussed. The older one
confided in the younger one, and she.,
in turn comforted her friend, as only
she knew how, feeling her friend's
anguish deep in her soul. Her loyalty
was unending and her friendship
As the health of the older one
failed, the younger held her hand and
understood her pain. When she spent
months in the hospital after hip surgery
and two open heart surgeries, the
younger one came frequently - often
between her children's sporting events
and school conferences. They
continued to pass their time together,
the onJy difference was it was without
the familiarity of the worn, cherished
They loved each other as only
true, old friends can. They disagreed
on politics - one a liberally minded
woman and her friend , a conservative.
Both loved all their children with a great
intensity and in turn their children had a
tremendous amount of respect for their
mothers. They watched their children
grow older and traded bits of advice on
childbearing, gardening, cooking,
politics and many other things that
came up in those long afternoon
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZI NE
Then one day the word cancer
came up during one of their afternoons.
Oddly enough it was the younger,
seemingly healthy one, who told her
friend of the cancer that was spreading
like wild fire through her body. Privately
they each had their own conversations
with their god and on many occasions,
they raged at him for putting such a
horrible disease in their lives. They
consoled each other and spent hours
speaking of all the ~hings they didn't get
a chance to talk about over the
previous twenty-five years. They
shared more secrets about things that
neither had told anyone else. Each one
felt safe with her confidant at a time
when neither could feel safe or sure
about much else, except their
friendship. And as time passed, the
younger one got sicker and spent more
hours with her children and husband.
They were a close family and had great
faith in their god and knew that their
mother would be loved somewhere
else as she was loved on this earth.
The cancer continued to spread
very rapidly and she was not expected
to live much longer. The two friends
said good-bye one afternoon before the
older took a trip. The sun shone that
afternoon in a golden haze thorough
the trees that had sheltered both their
houses for so many years. It was
actually a beautiful day, perhaps even
a day meant to celebrate old friends,
rather than bid them farewell. Saying
good-bye was so very painful. The
words hung in the air, feeling very
heavy and weighted. The women
hugged and then separated. So much
already had been said over so many
years of friendship. Things had passed
between them that couldn't be summed
up in a few words or moments and in
time that would bring comfort to the
one left behind.
When she returned from her trip
she found that her best friend and
confidante had died only days before
her coming home. She missed the
wake and funeral. Her friend 's husband
and children took her to the grave so
that she could say one more good-bye
to her . closest, dearest friend . When
they arrived at the cemetery she found
a bench at the foot of the grave under a
large, oak tree. It was as if her friend
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
had picked out this spot so that she
could still come with her coffee, her
thoughts, and fears and sit in the shade
and talk. Just as they had at that old
familiar kitchen table as so many years
Kathie Boselwitz lives in Mt. Pleasant, SC and
has been writing for three years. This is her first
published work. Kathie is a home-schooling
mom. The idea for this story came from her
mother and her closest friend.
A GIFT FROM MY DAUGHTER
By BILLIE PAGLIOLO
Ah ... New York ... New York City.
Can one give someone else a city - a
whole city? My daughter did. She gave
me New York. I never wanted it ... not in
a million years. She forced it on me!
She took it in her hands and she threw
it toward my chest and screamed ,
"Here, take it! There's nothing else like
it. You'll love it, Mom" Not wanting to
insult her, I reluctantly held on to the
weighty chunk. I nervously unwrapped
it and slowly pulled out all the pieces. It
has become one of my most cherished
I'm grateful I can't afford a hotel
room when I visit my daughter. I feel
sorry for the Donald Trumps who are
forced to experience this chunk of
sociology, psychology, and humanity
from a tower above and apart or from a
table at Tavern on the Green that
would feel uncomfortable to a
homeless person. I feel sorry for the
tourists who stay at the beautiful
Marriott on Broadway and can afford
tickets to view the pathos and ethos of
life merely from a stage.
Everyone should be privileged
enough to experience New York from
my daughter's 14th Street apartment
above the palm reader's shop. They
should do it in August without an air
conditioner, their windows open to an
orchestra of more vehicles than they
could name and a chorus of more
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
languages than they knew existed.
There's where the real drama is being
played out. There's where the real
pathos and ethos is taking place.
There's where the fittest are surviving
and, in so doing, tempering genes and
mind-sets that will be passed on to their
Everyone should have the
opportunity to walk into a crumbling
hallway of an apartment building
owned by a risk-taker from the other
side of the globe who wants enough
money to send back to his country so
the rest of his family can live in an
apartment as nice as this one. They
should have the experience of washing
clothes in the laundromat down the
street where an Oriental man struggles
to keep his floors swept and machines
clean as the dirt of the city is washed
out in his visual presence on a daily '
basis. They should be poor enough, or
at least not well-to-do enough, to blend
in as they ride the subway at one in the
morning. It's only then that they could
look into the eyes of a man who's face
is scarred and twisted and tattooed and
ask the questions "how" and "why."
They should be exposed, at least once,
to the sickening thud of an enormous
Black man hitting the pavement facefirst
as he's being taken down by a thin,
freckled young red-headed security
guard who assumes it is this man who
was trying to steal a wealthy woman's
purse. They should watch the Black
man struggle on the ground,
handcuffed arms behind his back, like
a huge rodeo bull and should be struck
by the symbolism of that scene and by
the realization that despite the passage
of some two-hundred and thirty years,
for the poor and disenfranchised the
beat just goes on.
Everyone should have the honor
of sitting at a table in Greenwich Village
with the twenty-year -olds, the new
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
generation, who have come to N~w
York from Maine and Minnesota, who
aspire to be the painters, the
playwrights, the actors, the artists of
the next era. They should be privileged
to listen to them talk of Vaclav Havel
and Jane Goodall, to hear their
reference's to Gibran's The Prophet,
and to listen to their plans to write a
play around the life of an obscure
woman astronomer who lived in the
1800's. They should hear them plan for
a performance they'll present that
summer to kids on the streets in
Harlem and know that the world is
being left in good hands.
Someday when I'm sitting in the
second row of the St. James Theater
listening to my daughter sing an
impassioned rendition of the
millworker's song from "Working," it will
be easy for me to touch sense
memories of the real play I experienced
in New York. Then I'll walk over to
Lindy's and order my very own piece of
cheese cake without worrying about
how much I'm spending. "II saunter into
one of those fancy shops on 5th
Avenue and buy my daughter that
garnet and diamond ring she pOinted
out to me in the summer of '94. On the
flight home, however, I'll probably have
to take out a pen and write an essay on
the oppressiveness of wealth, for
although I will then have experienced
New York with gilded trappings, I will
always cherish how my daughter first
wrapped the city in a crumpled old
newspaper with a tattered bow and
threw it into my arms.
Billie Fagliolo lives in Fridley, MN.
Is This the Yin and Yang of
By BErry DAHLIN
"China's Grand Canal was built
in the Seventh Century AD when the
emperor decided that all the many
waterways should be joined into a
thousand mile canal, a stultifying
prodigy." I smile at Harry's choice of
adjectives and wonder idly who wrote
his script and where he learned his
English , but I listen carefully as he
continues. "Twelve hundred years ago,
The Lord of All Under Heaven issued a
command and five and a half million
people went to work. Estimates vary
about what the canal cost in time or
money, but all the experts agree that
two million people lost their lives
building this." Harry gestures toward
the water. "Five and a half million men
and women hacked it out 1,200 years
ago, and uncounted millions have
sailed its waters since then. Today the
traffic is greater than ever." Harry
pauses, glances around at us
seemingly waiting for our response.
We are tourists, a disparate
group of westerners gathered on the
deck of a tour boat for a cruise from
Wuxi to Suzhou. Harry is our tour
guide, a round-faced , bespectacled,
rather bumptious, young man, eager to
please, and determined to impress us.
His language is eloquent when he tells
of China's illustrious past, but there is
1997 ARI ZONA L I TERARY MAGAZ INE
excitement in his voice when he says,
"And canal traffic has risen by 18% in
just the six months since that became
operationaL" He points to a
belligerently modern industrial park
beside the canal and begins spewing
data about increased cargo tonnage
and annual growth figures. I quietly,
almost stealthily, leave the group to go
stand by the rail where I can see and
study the canal beneath me.
It is crowded. Sampans, junks,
barges, ferries and tour boats jostle for
space, all heading south, all fully
loaded, carrying fertilizer, clay pots, live
chickens in wicker cages, coal, bamboo
and humans. All the vessels, including
tour boats, are so heavily loaded their
sides rise only about a foot out of the
water. Boats heading north are empty,
they ride high on the water, while their
owners relax on deck beneath fluttering
banners of laundry. I wonder why north
bound boats carry no cargo and, for a
moment, consider going inside to ask
Harry. I decide against it, unwilling to
miss one moment of the view passing
We are in the suburbs of Wuxi.
Here the canal winds like a jade green
avenue between miles of gray houses.
In places oil from the barges turns the
water's surface from green to indigo.
Pedestrians peer down from ancient
bridges, and children shout and wave
as the boat slips beneath them. I wave
back and lean forward to peer into the
houses as we go past, aware that I am
a voyeur prying into backroom privacy,
vaguely ashamed of my behavior but
unwilling to stop. In one window a
young man leans forward studying his
face in a mirror. In another an old
woman stands at a table shredding
fish. She sits down abruptly, awash in
tears. Dismayed, I turn away.
"Disgusting", says the lady who is
standing beside me. I nod my head and
start to apologize; then I look where
she is pointing, and realize she is not
talking about me. The boat is moving
through a fetid stretch of the canal, a
flotsam of cabbage and bamboo
debris. I start to reply, then close my
mouth. She is right. It is disgusting. I
wonder why it does not distress me. I
shrug and turn away. We continue
down river and I continue peering into
other people's lives. In one house, a
young girl looks up and returns my
stare. I feel her eyes and wonder if I
seem exotic and mysterious in her eyes
as she does in mine.
It is late afternoon when the boat
arrives in Suzhou. With the rest of the
group, I leave the boat. To get to the
bus which will take us to our hotel, we
walk through a long corridor of vendors
hawking postcards, film, tee-shirts and
Ming Dynasty antiques. I walk rapidly.
The rest of the group dawdles at the
kiosks searching for bargains.
At the parking lot, I sit on the
bus steps to listen to a bald-headed
man toddle a odd melody on a bamboo
flute and watch his bare feet tap out the
rhythm on the ground as he plays.
When I look up an old woman is
starring at me. She ca rries a battered
wicker basket which she holds out to
me. I wonder whether she is begging or
wants to sell me the basket. I glance up
and our eyes meet. She is nearly
toothless, wizened, skeletal. She looks
old and frail. I cringe when I realize she
is probably younger than I am. Her
1 997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
striped tee-shirt is dirty and frayed and
her bare feet are misshapen and black
with grime. I feel her eyeing my sturdy
shoes and plump arms. When I run my
tongue over my healthy teeth, I feel a
surge of guilt. Furtively I fumble in my
wallet for a twenty yuan note. She
spots my action and moves quickly, her
hand outstretched, but before I can
hand her the money, Harry comes
running from where 'he has been
schmoozing with the other guides. He
shouts. His hand is upraised as if to hit
her. She runs. Harry looks at me and
shakes his head. "She knows that's
against the law. This is the new China.
We no longer have beggars." I nod and
wonder why I feel ashamed. Is it
because I was trying to break the law
or because I failed to do so?
That night, our group is taken to
the Traditional Culture Show at the
Garden of the Master of Nets, an eighthundred-
year-old mansion with dozens
of rooms, each with an intricately
carved mahogany ceiling. I ask Harry
why there are no Chinese in the
audience. My question surprises him.
"Oh they're all at the movies or the
karaoke bar. We have both in Suzbou
now," I smile at the pride in his voice
when he says the last.
The first act is in an entry hall
where two professional buffoons,
elaborately masked and costumed as
twelfth century Mandarins, dance and
buffet each other with hollow sticks and
huge feather fans. I smile and I wonder
idly what happened to the third
member of the Three Stooges.
We go next to a smaller room to
see and hear a portion of an old
imperial opera. It is a seduction scene.
Both actors are beautifully costumed
and both are accomplished musicians
and dancers. I find the voices
distracting, but I am entranced by their
stylized gestures, by the grace of the
woman's hands. With each word and
movement she arranges her fingers
with artful precision. When the song
ends, it is her hands, not her body
movements, which make it clear that
she has succumbed to his wooing.
From there we move outside to
sit on rough hewn rocks beside the
garden lake where the tiny 'Iights which
outline the rooftop (curved like a smile)
sparkle again in the lake. I sit, hushed
and still, astonished to find myself here
in a remote corner of China, listening to
a costumed flutist who fills the night air
with plaintive, haunting music.
Next day Harry looks astonished
when I decline the invitation to lunch
with the Americans out at Capsugel
LTD, the US/China joint venture. "But
you'll miss the cruise on the company
yacht and a chance to see the new
factory. When it's in full operation it will
be one of the biggest in all China. It's a
glimpse of the future. It'll mean a whole
new Suzbou." He shakes his head in
disbelief when I tell him I prefer old
Suzhou, and he frowns when I tell him I
intend to explore the city on my own.
He is still muttering about missed
opportunities and being careful when,
guidebook in hand, I set off.
The age-old streets are lined by
ancient mulberry trees, and the water in
the canal flows between the same
stones and under the same stone
bridges that astonished Marco Polo. As
I meander I understand why Suzhou is
called the City of Flowers. Here, unlike
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
the other cities I have seen in China
flowers are everywhere. I se~
oleanders and hollyhocks blooming not
only in courtyards and flower beds, but
pushing out from clefts of walls or
sprouting from under roof tiles.
I am entranced with this lazy,
languid city. In Suzhou there is no
hustle; here people walk slowly; the
bicycles move at a leisurely pace. No
one hurries. I smile as I realize why.
Joint Venture Industrial Park or no ,
Suzhou is retired. The city is today
what it has been for centuries, a
It was to Suzhou that civil
servants came when they retired . Here
the millionaires ' built opulent retreats,
magnificent palaces of beauty and
serenity. They called them Gardens.
It is late afternoon when I arrive
at the 400 year old Garden of the
Humble Administrator. At the entrance,
I stare up at the forty-foot arch of
yellow brick admiring its grace and
"It was here that the emperor do
stay when he make imperial visit. That
is why he is make allowance for the
gate to be of imperial yellow." The
English words are clear, and the voice,
though it is not loud, is distinct above
the steady murmur of Chinese. When I
look around I see the slender, young
woman looking directly at me. "You are
American, I think." She sounds diffident
and unsure when she asks this and
looks relieved when I nod and smile. "I
thought so. I watch you come in and I
am hoping it will be acceptable to you
that I be your guide through the
gardens." I shake my head and hold up
my guide book, but she rushes on,
speaking rapidly now. "My name is
Yjong. I too am visitorAn Suzhou. I am
student from Beijing University. I study
there to become a tour guide. I·wish
from you only the chance to practice
Before I can reply, she points to
the huge, gray-black dragon atop the
wall which encircles the garden. "You
see him? The great dragon?" I nod.
"Long ago, . when this garden is built,
the architect is in trouble because the
dragon is permitted only at the
emperor's palace. When the emperor
say, 'Why this garden have a dragon?'
the architect say. 'This is not dragon.
Dragon have four feet. This is mythical
animal with five feet. ' So the emperor
smile and the dragon is allowed." She
pauses and looks directly at me before
adding; "This is my first visit to the
garden but I have studied much about
it. You will permit I join you?" I nod my
agreement and we set off together to
explore the Humble Administrator's
Garden, 12.8. acres of landscaping and
courts and buildings and compounds
Yjong is tall and slender, with glossy,
black hair and gardenia pale skin. She
looks fragile and delicate and I am
astonished at the strength in her hand
when she takes my arm and says
firmly. "You will speak clearly each time
I commit the error in English, please?" I
nod my head and wonder what,
exactly, constitutes an error.
I ask why everything is laid out
in a zigzag pattern. Why are there no
straight paths or bridges? Yjong
explains that they were deliberately
built that way. "The walker must pause
to admire each view." We stop on a
bridge, and she points left toward a
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
graceful gazebo set in a bamboo arbor.
It houses a lovely, ' larger-than-life
statue of a crane, the symbol of
longevity and serenity. "The bronze
cranes found in Suzhou's Garden of
the Humble Administrator are famed for
their fine craftsmanship and beauty."
She says the words rapidly, slurring
over some of the syllables in her
eagerness to spew facts she has
clearly memorized. We move closer to
peer in the gazebo, to admire the grace
and beauty of the slender, graceful
bird. For a few seconds, we are silent,
both awed by the artistry of the longdead
Then she turns and points to the
great, gray rock set in the water. All
gardens must have both rocks and
water she explains. Both are crucial;
rocks the skeleton of the earth, water
the veins. Rocks embody the
masculine - the Yang, the power.
Water is Yin, the rock's opposite, the
feminine", the blood of the earth. When
the Yang of stone is placed within the
Yin of water all is in harmony. She
looks surprised when I ask if the rich
men in today's China still call their
palaces gardens and is the
landscaping still based on the principle
of Yang and Yin. "I don't know.
Perhaps they do, but in Beijing today
more they build high rises. Very little
talk of Yang and Yin." She is quiet for a
moment, and she sounds thoughtful
when she continues, " Yet it is said that
even the Red Guard did not deny the
principle of Yang and Yin."
At the court of the Sixteen
Mandarin Ducks, we pause to sit on a
bridge rail and admire the graceful
building. I comment on the upturned
corners and she looks surprised.
"House in America do not have smiling
corners? Why is this?" Automatically, I
correct her English and then ask about
her studies. Has she always wanted to
be a tour guide? Did she know that was
what she wanted when she enrolled?
She smiles ruefully, "No. I enroll to
study Chinese history. My father was
classic scholar. But today, in China, no
work for historian. Only the tourists are
interested in the past. So I am study
English. Become tour guide." She
smiles, and we continue w~lking.
At this point in our meandering
we happen upon a circle etched into an
intersection of the stone walkways.
Yjong questions a passing tour guide
who explains the custom. A pedestrian
must stand a few paces from the circle,
close his/her eyes, and be turned
around three times. Then he/she must
take three steps without opening his
eyes. If he/she reaches the center of
the etched circle he/she will have good
fortune. We both try. When I open my
eyes I am square in the center of the
circle. Immediately, I am convinced the
legend is founded on fact. Yjong,
however, is nowhere near the center. I
am smiling and smug as we continue
walking. She shrugs and mutters,
mostly in Chinese, but I do hear the
words, " ... .foolish superstition .... "
In one of the courts we spy a black and
white mural picturing long-ago ladies of
the court. Yjong is fascinated. I ask
what is so special and she explains
that in eighteenth century China
Suzhou was the arbiter of dress and
speech. "Even now, we all much
admire the Suzhou dialect, and it is
agreed by all that the small delicate
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
Suzhou woman is the most lovelier in
all the People's Republic." I consider
correcting her grammar, but instead
move to examine the picture more
closely. The women have elaborate
hairdos and tiny mouths; each holds a
fan and each teeters on absurd,
misshapen balls which once were feet.
Yjong sees me studying the women's
feet, smiles, points to her sturdy Nikes
and says, "I dislike that I must have a
size that is so great. I think, perhaps, it
is this way in America too?" I shrug and
smile and we move on. As we climb the
steps of yet another bridge, I think of
those ladies in the mural. They once
walked where I am walking now,
hobbled from courtyard to courtyard on
their tiny flower feet. How, I wonder,
could they do it? Deliberately, well
aware of how ridiculous I look, I remove
my shoes and try to cross the bridge on
cramped toes. An embarrassed Yjong
catches me when I stumble. "Perhaps
they all rode in sedan chairs," I mutter
as I sit down to replace my shoes.
It is growing late now, and most
of the photographers and sightseers
have left. We have walked over most of
the acres and I am pleasantly weary.
We turn a corner and sit down to
admire a pool dark with hanging trees.
Here the rocks are small; their setting
seems random and casual and the
water gushes softy as it flows around
them. A round, orange moon is
climbing up the sky behind the thick
foliage, and I can see its wavey image
in the water below. A bird calls softly
and a breeze rustles the leaves. Then
all is still and only our breathing
disturbs the silence. The moon climbs
higher; now it is a round silver disc in
the black sky. Yjong murmurs softly in
Chinese and I turn to look at her. Her
skin is white satin in the moonlight, and
her voice blends with the whisper of
trees and water. I am transfixed with
tranquillity, so mesmerized by the
magic of the moment I do not even
notice her silence until I feel her hahd
on my arm. When she speaks, her
voice is hushed, almost reverent. "I
think it shall be true about the Yang
and Yin. Here in this garden, where
water and rock are seated correctly, all
is in harmony."
I nod and turn to look at the
moon in the water. Wordlessly, I offer
my thanks to our host, the Humble
Administrator. Surely he too felt the
magic, knew the wonder and tranquillity
of standing in his garden contemplating
the moon as it " ... washes its soul ... " in
Then, slowly and quietly, we
leave the Garden. Outside Yjong and I
are silent, both reluctant to shatter the
splendor of the moment we have
shared. I murmur my thanks, and she
nods and starts to leave. Then she
turns back and says, "In China we have
a saying: 'If a man would be happy for
a week, he must take a wife; if he
seeks happiness for a month, he must
kill a pig, but if he would bring
happiness forever, he must plant a
garden." She is gone before I can
I muse as I walk slowly back to
the hotel. I think of the many Harrys in
China, those who would build factories
and look only to the future and of the
many Yjongs who would plant gardens
and preserve the past. Perhaps they
are the Yang and Yin of today's China.
1997 A RIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
Perhaps they are searching for the
right alignment. Is it possible, I wonder.
that one day the industrial rock of
factories will be properly seated in the
water of traditional gardens? If that
should ever happen, then the age-old
canal will flow through a China where
all is in perfect harmony.
On the plane to Hong Kong it
occurs to me that I never did ask Harry
why the boats going north carried no
Betty Dahlin lives in Seal Beach. CA and has
been writing for 12 years. She has been
published in such publications as: Long Beach
Press Telegram and Orange County Senior
Magazine Register. As a retired English
teacher, she is most proud of having a short
story published in a tenth grade fiterarure
POETRY - FIRST PLACE
SIT QUIET SPIRIT
By PHILIP A. BUONPASTORE
Sit quiet spirit
alone and aware
of every heartbeat
and breath of the air
of each passing moment
in each passing day
of cares and concerns
and their passing away
Sit quiet spirit
in life's ebb and flow
in learning its lessons
and learning to grow
in finding acceptance
in all that has passed
and living through days
in peace at long last
Sit quiet spirit
though miles you have come
though the effort persistent
there's more to be done
so gather your strength
for what lies ahead
through mountains and valley
and the ways we are led
So sit quiet spirit
your strength you will find
when striving for peace
and clearness of mind
with calm and serenity
in all that you do
the sit quiet spirit
is there within you!
Philip A. Bronpastore lives in Alpharetta GA.
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 22
P0ETRY - 'SECOND PLACE
BY~ MARLENE E. -MEEHL
Twigs and straw and bamboo grasses,
Coiling corn husks out; then in;
Baskets,woven from the palm leaf,
Wicker, rope, or wire thin.
Flexible the twisted paper,
Patterns changir-rg in, the sun;
Come together, at the ending
All the fibers are as one.
On the Moon an ancient woman
Weaves a basket,· legends say,
T~isting,twining,. when completed
All the Earth shall pass away.
"Soon! finish," says ~he woman;
"Soon the.,Earth shall be no more.
I alon~ am!Master Weaver.
Man is what the gods deplore."
People of the 'Earth take warning;
Weave ye.over; under, through;
Every man is but fiber,
Diffe~ent shaped and varied hue.
Knit together, mix your colors,
See yourselves as basketry;
One fine blend of human fibers;
Let your God be proud of thee.
Marlene E. Meehl lives in Faribault, MN and has been writing for two years. She has been published in
such publications as: Candlelight Journal, Bel/'s Letters, Hayden 's Review, and Lucidity. Her primary
occupation is Landlord. She is most proud of having her work showcased in the 1997 Winter issue of
Bell's Letters and the 1997 Christmas issue of Ideals Magazine. Marlene says, "the most important thing
in life for the artist is having people around for help and support, "
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 23
POETRY - THIRD PLACE
SING WITH ME
By ABRAHAM BURICKSON
sing with me
there is a silence here
which is so perfect
that only within it can we find our true resonance.
the note of silence
that we may be the light
upon its unbroken face.
At dawn our shadows dwarf us,
command our actions in perfect purity;
if we be shadows
of some greater enemy of light,
then this is our dawn,
Abraham Burickson lives in New York, NY and has written (or ten years. His primary occupation is student
o( architecture. He is most proud o( research done on the architecture o( the indigenous Shuar o( the
Ecuadorian Amazon. He is currently working on a book length poem.
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 24
POETRY - HONORABLE MENTION
THE QUIET DESERT
By RICHARD W. HAND
Moonlight bathing sand in white ·subdue
Starpoint crisply needling darkest blue
Giant silhouettes now pierce the moon
With arms in praise of peace til morning dew
In desert darkness, cool belies the day
Of tortured thorn and bristle
Rebellious to the fate
Of living on the brink
At Hades' burning gate
In Satan's breath, all cower to the rays
And count each searing second til its haze '
Makes amber red retreat to Heaven's starry maze
The stillness of the day is born in fear .:.
The stillness of the night means God is near
Richard ~ H~nd lives in Phoenix, AZ and has been a writer for twenty years. He has been published in
su.ch pub"catlOn~ a~ Maelstrom Magazine, several online publica.tions and various anthologies. His
primary occupatIOn IS route sales. He is most proud of letters of appreciation from. Mother Teresa and
Pope John PaUl.
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 25
POETRY - HONORABLE MENTION
A PRAYER WITH WINGS
By LYNDA S. SOWELL
As I lounged serenely on the porch one day,
I beheld a large bird in flight;
Then I turned to God and began to pray,
"Who's more competent, Lord - that fowl or I?"
"Can I soar above in the heavens so vast,
As I croon with delight to the wind?
Can I glean my living from the sod and the grass,
While my various wants I attend?
Can I put together a cozy nest,
And place it aloft in a tree,
Where my tiny offspring can find safe rest,
While I satisfy all their needs?
"Do I know precisely when frost is near?
Can I join a well-organized flight,
Heading south with a sizable group of my peers,
As we rise to incredible heights?
"There's no doubt in my mind, Lord, you have endowed
That great bird with magnificent sense;
I would be gratified, if I were allowed,
To possess just one skill so immense."
Lynda P. Sowell lives in Jackson, MS and has been writing for six years. This is the only contest she has
entered. She has had short articles published in religious and rehabilitation magazines. Her primary
occupation is homemaker. She most proud of her husband, Darby Sowell, who has been president of
Goodwill Industries of Mississippi for the past twenty-five years.
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
POETRY - HONORABLE MENTION
By CHARLES VORDERBERG
What hands once formed this shack?
What hands, in years long past,
Once held the hammers and the nails
which brought this tiny home into its being?
What hands once formed this shack
which now can barely stand -
this shack whose walls now lean in wood's gray death,
whose roof has long since found the floor?
Can these old walls remember?
Can they recall the loving touch
of the builder's hands
which once caressed the wood,
still damp and fragrant with sap from the tree,
and made them into something vital, filled with life.
And are those hands still living?
Or, like this shack,
have they decayed, and ceased to live,
with all memories long since passed away?
Charles Vorderberg lives in Welch . WV. He has been writing for seven years. His poetry: Cold and Icy
Mist, Moment of a Brook, Song of Sirens, There, and Wash of Countless Tears has been published In
Ref/ect magazine. His poem Foxtails in the Wind won first prize in the Southern Appalachian 1997 contest.
His primary occupation is Presbyterian minister. He is most proud of being able to paint slices of life and
people living there with the words of poetry.
1997 A RIZONA LI TERARY MAGAZINE 27
POETRY - HONORABLE MENTION
By MARCY J. MILLER
Lighted by a florescent sun
an urban nightmare wakes us.
Loud voices and stoney faces
demanding, demeaning, displaying a gun··
some mother's son compelled by right
argues in the face of hate
one final act of protest.
Then, popping - like paper bagsbursts
between a child's hands.
Some mother's son dies.
Blood of one's blood blackens
on the convenience store floor
Flesh of one's flesh pales
and blues a sickening beautiful blue
Life of one's life deadens
spilled like spheres of mercury
Love of one's love hardens
crystallized by anger,
pulverized by fear.
And we, we carry on
we leave our indignation
congealing behind the counter
drying in the summer heat
shadowed by the racks
of glassy magazines.
Marcy J. Miller lives in Scottsdale, AZ and has been writing for 17 years. This is her first time to win a
contest. She has been published in Persona, (UofA undergrad literary magazine), International Fine Art
Col/ector, Horse Illustrated, Police magazine, The Arabian House Times, and other literary magazines.
Her primary occupation is police lieutenant. She is most proud of being committed to continual learning.
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 28
POETRY - HONORABLE MENTION
By BEITY D. BROWNLOW
Since he was a kid growin' up on the range
no one thought Slim the slightest bit strange,
except when he chewed his tabacky that way,
an' the troubl~ it brought him one rodeo day.
The bull he had drawed was the onr'riest knowed,
but Slim wouldn't back down, his fear never showed.
He throwed his tall legs a-straddle that cuss
an' that crusty 01' bull kicked up a fuss.
01' Slim with his hat flyin' offn his head
an' his arm wavin' wild , was heard to say:
"You an' me, bull, are in for a tussle!
We'll see which one of us has the most muscle!
I'll stick to your back, you'll think I was glued!"
And he tried to spit out the tabacky he chewed
just when the bull jumped sharp to the right.
01' Slim knew right then that he'd lost the fight.
He leaned to the left and was throwed to the dirt,
but it warn't his bones that was any way hurt!
The arena was quiet, there warn't nary a sound
but the 01' bull a-snortin' and pawin' the ground.
Slim gasped for some air and his face turned all blue
He choked an' he coughed all because of the chew
he had packed in his jaw early on in the day.
He picked hisself up and we all heard him say:
"01' bull. I curse the day that we met!
You ain't proved to me yer the meanest one yet!
Next rodeo day when yer number I draw,
I'll ride you fer sure when I ain 't got a chaw!"
19 97 A RIZONA L ITERARY MAGAZINE 29
Betty D. Brownlow lives in Sedona. AZ and has been writing for 55 years. She has been published in
Living With Teenagers, Anderie Poetry Press Anthologies. National Library of Poetry Anthologies. and
World of Poetry Anthologies. Betty is retired and enjoys volunteering and writing. She is most proud of her
husband, Kent, who is an active volunteer with the Sedona fire district as both an EMT and a Firefighter.
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 30
POETRY - HONORABLE MENTION
By JAMES A. GARVEY
seasons move awry
The pear blooms sooner
than in the past Dark wood gowns
itself in white blossom while
frost still laces edges of the path
I awash in thinning hair find
these phases a burden I'd as lief
not have to bear
My moon slices
sharp-edged as ever Its thin blade
a cliche in the heavens frank
to a fault in the flowery face
of a perjured spell that defies
the ballad of my honest bones
which drone of truth and tick
like clocks belying
the off-beat pear
James A. Garvey lives in Walnut Creek, CA and has been writing for 70 years. He has been published
numerous times in such publications as California Poets' Society Journal. He is a retired high school
teacher and most proud of his children and his former students. He is a patriarch of a family of five living
siblings, their children and grandchildren.
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 31
By STELLA POPE D UARTE
My mother always told me that
women who walk the streets at night are
only looking for trouble. Big trouble. She
never told me what kind of trouble, so I
ended up guessing . Living off
Vancouver Street gave ' me a pretty
"Don't look that way," my mom
said , as we drove back home from the
"You mean at Valentine getting
into that man's car," I asked . Valentine
was one of the girls who decorated
Vancouver Street like ornaments
dangling precariously on a Christmas
tree. She reminded me of a used-up
Barbie doll, her body perfect, but her
face old . She was named Valentine for
three valentines she had tattooed on her
body, one on each wrist, and another
one somewhere under her skimpy
"Turn your face !" my mom yelled.
"How we'll ever live in a place like this is
beyond me." Then she started talking in
Spanish, which frightened me because I
knew she only did that when she was
really mad. It meant that I would get it
when we got home, or that I would hear
another two hour lecture on the vileness
of life and how girls who don't pay
attention to their mothers will end up in
a hell-hole of trouble. I looked for gum
under my shoes when my mother yelled
1997 ARIZONA L ITERARY MAGAZINE
at me. It was fun to pick at something
while I was being picked on.
Actually, living off Vancouver
Street, in sleazy apartments, connected
me with down and outers who didn't
look anymore dangerous than the cops
who kept them in line. I was more
scared of the cops because I had no
one to protect me from them.
"Let's go back to Nana's," I told
"Never!" she yelled. "Never to
"You don't want to know."
But I did want to know. There
were tulips at Nana's house, in the yard.
They lifted their bright cups up to the
sun, and I collected them in bunches,
even though Nana told me I stopped
them from breathing. Mom worked at a
seven-eleven before we moved away.
She came back mad everyday because
drunks made passes at her, and one
time this guy scared her half to death
with a toy pistol. I thought that was why
we left Nana and Tata's, but maybe
there was more. When we said goodbye
Nana cried and gave me two tulips, one
for me and one for my mom. Tata didn't
say a word , he kept watching TV. I
thought he'd be sad but he only blinked
back at the movie he was watching and
pretended he had already said goodbye.
I never saw my dad, but I knew
his name was Benny. I found out his
name because I got a letter from the
mailbox addressed to Benjamin
Jaramillo, and I knew it had to be him. It
was a summons for a court hearing. I
traced over his name with my finger,
and counted all the letters, trying to
make up a face in my mind. Did he have
a mustache? Curly hair? Straight? My
mom took the letter from my hand and
ripped it open.
"Just like that bastard, still in
trouble with the law!" Then she tore the
letter into little pieces before I could tell
her to save his name for me.
Once, I dreamed my dad was
standing in a huge ballroom with a
chandelier shining behind him. I came
down an enormous, spiral staircase,
dressed in my new jumper with my black
patent leather shoes spit shined. He
was ready to take me in his arms, but
the music started, and he went off to
dance with a rich lady.
I didn't dream about him again
until we moved to Vancouver Street. I
dreamed about him there because this
guy, who waited for the city bus where I
waited for my school bus, told me his
name was Benny. He was tall, and
skinny. Not much to look at, and he
blew his nose a lot. Sometimes he
shivered when it wasn't even cold
outside. I figured he had a perpetual
cold that kept him feverish . I never knew
where Benny went to when he caught
the bus. I figured he had a job
somewhere. He didn't stay long,
whatever he did, and came right back to
the apartment he shared with two other
I told my mother about him, and
she froze in position.
"Stay away from him. He's a drug
addict. God only knows what disease
he's carrying ."
"He looks clean to me," I said.
"Clean! Nobody's clean around
here. If I had money to get us out, I'd do
it now. You bet I would."
"Was my dad a drug addict?"
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
asked. I was peeling a banana,
pretending it didn't matter. My mother
talked more when I acted disinterested.
"Yeah, he was a star addict, all
right." My mother looked past me, out
the window. The drapes were open. I
looked out and saw two men standing
by a car. One of them was Benny.
Money was exchanged. A transaction
"See what I mean. These people
are hopeless," said my mother. She
pulled the frayed cord on the drapes
and the images disappeared.
The dream I had about my dad
on Vancouver Street, didn't match what
my mother told me. In my dream my dad
was tall and muscular, and he looked
clean. His hair was slicked back, with no
gray, just black. His smile was perfect,
and he lifted me up on his shoulders. I
was so high up, I touched a cloud. Then
I got scared because my mother looked
too far away for me to reach . I wanted
her to be up on his shoulders with me,
but she didn't want to. She looked mad,
and was hollering in Spanish. Next thing
I knew my dad disappeared and I was
sitting on a merry-go-round, all by
It didn't take me long to figure out
that my dad was one of the characters
who walked down Vancouver Street. I
just didn't know which one, until my
mom started working at Albert's All
Night Diner. That was when I was taken
over to Lisa's apartment because my
mom said it was too dangerous for me
to be alone in the evenings. She worked
until nine. Lisa didn't work at all. She
collected AFDC and waited for her
boyfriend, Oscar, day and night.
"God only knows, a man could
come in and rape you ," my mother said
to me. Her hands shook when she
buttoned my blouse. Unconsciously, she
checked me over for bruises. Rape, to
me, sounded like a man was gonna take
a rake to my body, and scrape all the
life out of me. He would leave me like a
dead leaf, waiting to be crunched
I never told my mother what I
thought about rape because she was
already worried about it. She looked
worried when she dropped me off at
Lisa's too and checked to see if Lisa's
boyfriend had come back.
"You can take care of Maria, but
not if Oscar comes back," she told Lisa.
Lisa didn't seem to care if I was there or
not. Mostly I played with her daughter
Elida who was eight years old like I was.
We ran out of the apartment building
when Lisa wasn't looking and found an
abandoned warehouse with a broken
window. We set up an office in the
place. I was the boss and Elida was the
secretary. Other kids came around, and
we made them security people and
janitors. It was fun running up and down
the deserted rooms. In the corners we
saw old clothes, and peed mattresses.
Sometimes we saw burns on the floors
and walls. Some rooms we wouldn't go
into because they stank like somebody
had done the bathroom in them. Mostly,
we stayed in the room with the broken
Elida was the first to see him
through the broken window one
afternoon. He was standing with his
hands in his pockets, watching us play.
He had on a brown beret, cocked to one
side. He was taller than my mother, but
not by much. He was wearing a long
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
sleeve shirt, tucked into his Levi's. He
didn't move much, he just stared. I got
goosebumps and wanted to leave.
"He's just a drunk. He won't do
nothing." said Elida.
"Haven't you heard of rape?" I
asked. "He could leave us like two dead
Santiago was with us that time,
but he was only seven, not much
"Let's go,'· he said boldly. "I ain't
We climbed out the window and
the man stood back. When he saw me
climb out last, he put out his hand, and
"What were you doing?" he
asked. He smiled and I saw he had a
tooth missing on one side.
"Playing office," I said.
"Nice. We need lots more offices.
Offices I could even walk into." Then he
laughed and tousled my hair. "You're
very pretty, Maria."
"How'd you know my . name?" I
"Lisa told me."
"Are you Oscar?" I asked.
"No, not Oscar."
"My mom would get mad if you
"Your mom gets mad about
everything ." By this time he was walking
by my side, and I noticed his tennis
shoes were missing shoe laces. The
holes with the missing laces formed
uneven trails of o's over the top of each
"You know my mom?"
"I heard about her," he said,
Elida and Santiago were ahead
of us, already crossing the street to the
apartments. They signaled me to hurry.
The man got on one knee to meet me
face to face. He smelled like the inside
of a dirty glass. His eyes were gray and
looked like they had just woken up from
dreaming. His hands were big, the
fingers long, the nails ragged . He took
hold of my hand and put it up, flat with
the palm of his hand. Our hands were
the same, except my fingers were
shorter and cleaner.
"Just as I thought, another piano
player," he said. "My mom gave me
lessons when I was a kid . She wanted
me to be somebody."
"Can you play the piano?" I
"I used to, but not anymore. The
music got stuck in my pinkie-finger," he
said, lifting up the little finger on his right
hand, "The other fingers forgot how to
play because the pinkie hogged up all
the lessons." He laughed and tousled
my hair again. "You better get home. I
wouldn't want your mom to worry." He
stood up and wiped his nose with the
back of his hand . I saw Valentine
standing at the curb and she waved to
me. The man and I both waved back.
"You know her?" I asked
"A little," he said. He repositioned
his brown beret, cocking it down to a
new tilt. I wanted to say goodbye, but
pretended I was in a real hurry and
didn't have time.
I crossed the street, and turned
back to wave to the man, but he had
already disappeared behind a row of
buildings. When we got back to the
apartment, Elida started telling Lisa all
about the man.
"He was looking at us through the
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
window," she said, excitedly. "He talked
to Maria. Tell my mom what he told
Lisa had one eye on the baby in
the highchair and one eye on the rice
she was frying in hot oil.
"You don't have to tell me, if you
don't want to," said Lisa, stirring the rice,
and pushing a piece of cracker back into
the baby's mouth. I look.ed at Lisa but
she didn't look back. I could see the
back of her pony tail swishing, and her
bra straps showing through her white
"Not unless you want to."
I was so used to my mom
screaming for answers that I blinked a
bunch of times before my head cleared.
It was the first time I had ever been
given a choice.
"Well, he knew my name," I
began, slowly. "He said you told him
about my mother. Why did you do that?"
"He asked me. He wanted to
know who the pretty girl was who played
with Elida, so I told him."
"He used to play the piano," I
"I know," she said.
"I mean, he told me he used to
play the piano. Oscar used to be in a
band, but he never played the piano. He
played the guitar."
"He knows Oscar?"
"What's his name?" I asked.
"You don't want to know," she
said, banging the lid down on the pan of
I was ready to scream like my
mother because I did want to know his
name, but the phone rang and Lisa
answered it. I ran outside and saw that
the sur. had dipped down to the other
side of the world . A few kids were still
playing on the street. Their bodies were
silhouettes painted on orange paper. I
ran past them, all the way to the
stoplight, looking for Benny. I passed
"Who you looking for?" he asked.
"The man. Benny. He's my dad."
I was out of breath, acting crazy.
Santiago thought I said penny.
"A penny's your dad?"
"Benny!" I yelled. "Don't be so
"Benny's on drugs."
"Not that Benny, another one."
It was useless, Santiago's mind
operated on two volts. I stood at the
streetlight. watching people coming out
of the grocery store, arid wondered if my
dad had gone in to buy some groceries.
Men gathered outside the liquor store,
and I peered closely at them, looking for
the brown beret.
Valentine was standing at the
- corner and she called me over. She
looked pale at night, ghostly in a pair of
skin-tight, black pants and a top that
was three sizes too small.
"What are you doing out here so
late, Maria?" she asked.
"Remember that man with the
brown beret that waved at you today?" I
"Oh, yeah , I remember."
"Where is he?" Valentine's huge,
dark eyes looked intently into mine.
There was something about the way
she looked at me, that made tears start
in my eyes. She looped her arm gently
over my shoulder. She smelled good ,
1997 ARIZONP. L ITERAFU MP.GAZINE
like she was wearing lots of perfumes at
the same time.
"Want some gum?" She reached
into her purse and took out a pack of
Doublemint. I pulled out a piece.
"Here, take the whole pack," she
said , pressing it into my hand.
"He's my dad," I said. She
pushed the hair out of my eyes, and I
saw one of her valentines, a stenciled,
purple bruise on her right wrist.
"Sweetheart, he's gone. He took
a bus out of her~ .'
"Where?" I asked.
"I don't know. It doesn't matter.
He's okay. You need to go back home
now." I wanted to stay longer, but there
was a guy whistling for Valentine.
"I gotta go," she said.
I walked back down the street,
past Santiago's apartment.
"You better get home, Maria."
said Santiago's mother. "Your mom will
get mad." The tears in my eyes made
Santiago's mother look two times her
"S~~e's looking for Benny," said
"The drug addict?"
"No, -the other one," he said.
Santiago's mother looked at me,
her eyebrows arched .
"Nobody!" I yelled , and ran up the
street to Lisa's apartment.
My dad must have gone over to
Albert's All Night Diner because my
mom came home at seven instead of
nine, screaming in Spanish that nobody
was ever gonna kick her ass around
again and make her eat dirt. She
grabbed me by both arms, and held me
up to her face.
"What did he tell you?" she
"Don't act innocent, Maria, or I'll
take my shoe off right now, and we'll
settle things. Playing in empty buildings.
What did I tell you?" She shook me
"Leave her alone," said Lisa.
"You stay out of this. What do
you know about anything? All you do is
wait for Oscar day and night."
Lisa didn't back off this time. "You
can't hide her father from her all her life.
It was bound to happen. You can't
control the world ."
"Let me handle this !" My mom
shook me again, and hit me over the
head with the back of her hand. I was
expecting worse. There were tears in
her eyes. She held onto my hand and
dragged me out to the car. I thought I
was gonna hear about bad girls who
don't respect their mothers and end up
having babies in alleys, but my mom
didn't say a thing to me all the way
home. She looked like she was seeing
right through me when she told me to
take a shower and get ready for bed. I
stood under the water and let it wash
away my tears. The soap got in my eyes
and made it worse. By the time I got out,
my eyes were red like my mom's.
Just when I was falling asleep,
dreaming that a brown beret had landed
on my lap, my mom walked in. She sat
next to me. I didn't trust her, so I moved
over, in case she got crazy again.
"Princess," she said . I hadn't
heard that in a long time. "Princess, I
know you want to see your dad, but I
don't think it's right. He's not the kind of
person a little girl should know."
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
"Cause he's a drug addict?"
"He wasn't always that way. He
was handsome and funny and smart.
loved him very much."
"Do you still love him?"
"Yes ... " My mother said the word
like somebody had sat on her stomach
and pressed all the air out of her. She
didn't want to, but the word got out
"He told me he used to play the
piano," I said. I put my head on my
"He did ," she said, stroking my
hair. "Beautifully. When I heard him play
I thought I was in heaven." Her voice
trembled , like it was gonna die out.
"Mom, why didn't he become a
"It's a long story, Princess. Your
grandma died and they sold the piano.
Your grandpa hated music. He said
music was for women and sissies. But
your dad had learned enough. He could
play better than Liberace."
"Mom, he doesn't have any shoe
laces, couldn't we buy him some?"
"I don't know where to find him,
Princess. I don't know when he'll be
back. It's always been that way." She
bent down and gave me a kiss, then she
traced a little cross on my forehead with
"He said, his pinkie-finger hogged
up all the piano lessons."
"That's why his other fingers
forgot how to play. The pinkie hogged
up all the lessons."
"He's just playing around," she
said with a smile. "Go to sleep."
. Two weeks after I saw my dad, a
piano was delivered to our apartment. It
was kinda beat up, but it was tuned to
perfection . There was lots of excitement
in the complex because nobody had
ever had a piano delivered to their
apartment. My mom had to take the
front door off its hinges so . they could
get it into the living room .
"I can't believe he did this," she
said. She smiled and sent me over to
the neighbor's to borrow furniture polish.
We sold our old couch to Santiago's
mother cause it wouldn't fit after the
piano moved in. We had to settle for
sitting on kitchen chair~. My mother
called Old Berta on the phone to ask her
about giving me piano lessons. Old
Berta performed in Mexico City with a
famous symphony, before her husband
got sick and they moved to the U.S. She
never played here because she didn't
speak English and everybody thought
she was dumb. I always worried about
my pinkie-finger, and wouldn't let it hog
the lessons. I made sure all the other
fingers got a full workout. When I got my
first blue ribbon in competition, I hung it
over the piano and nailed a pair of shoe
laces next to it.
Stella Pope Durte lives in Phoenix. AZ and has
been a professional writer for two years. Her
published works include .' Fragile Night a
collection of short stories , 1997 and In Search of
La Maliche 1997. Her primary occupation is
Head Counselor at Carl Hayden High School.
1997 A F.:::ZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 38
JUST THE WAY I TOLD 'EM
By MIKE THOMPSON
Big Cody O'Caliahan stood
quietly at the back of the little country
church as the people filed in. He
nervously rolled his good, wide
brimmed, grey cowboy hat between his
hands, nodded, smiled and spoke each
of their names softly as they walked
past him. He was a tall man with no
extra weight on his frame, a deeply
wrinkled face tanned up to a white line
just above his eyebrows that was the
border of where his cowboy hat always
rested. The deep lines running from the
corners of his eyes set off a
mischievous twinkle and showed that he
had laughed easily and squinted for
many long hours in the bright sun. His
eyebrows and the hair on his head were
pure white but the droopy, walrus
mustache that covered his upper lip and
the corners of his mouth still maintained
enough of the original color t6 qualify as
salt and pepper. He had the kind of face
that cowboys referred to as "rode hard
and put up wet a time ur two too many."
The people filing into the church
had been standing outside in groups
talking quietly or sitting in their cars and
trucks in front of the church until the
minister had opened the doors to let
them in. Most of them had the tanned
skin and the hard callused hands of
working people and they all wore what
they considered proper funeral attire in
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
respect to a departed friend and
Saddled horses stood, heads
hanging ' and tails swishing at flies, tied
to the sides of the horse trailers hooked
to the rear of most of the pickup trucks
and more horses were tied to rope
picket lines strung between trees in the
small grove beside the church.
"I'm sorry," the minister
apologized as he opened the doors, a
sheepish smile on his face, "I was busy
in the office and thought they were
already open. I was wondering why no
one had come in yet. I knew this funeral
would draw a crowd."
Cody glanced out the door and
smiled when he found his big buckskin
horse tied among the others in the
grove. "A good horse," he muttered to
himself. "A damned good horse!" He
stiffened and his eyes shot upward.
"Sorry, Lord, I didn't mean to use that
kinda talk in Your house. It just sorta
slipped out, but he is a damned good
The last of the people had been
seated and the minister began to speak.
"Friends, we are gathered here today to
pay our final respects to a good and
dear departed friend."
Cody .turned, stepped out of the
church, pulled his hat down on his head
and gave it a tug to cock it down slightly
over his right eye. He always cocked his
hat down over his right eye because he
felt that it gave him a certain
devil-may-care attitude. He walked
across the churchyard into the grove
and slowly made his way down the first
row of horses, rubbing their noses,
running his fingers through their manes
and calling them by name, if he knew it.
He repeated the process with the next
row of horses and stopped in front of his
own. The sound of the people in the
church singing "Rock of Ages" reached
his ears and he smiled. "One of my
favorites," he thought as he rubbed the '
nose of the big buckskin-horse.
"Well, Hard Times, you ready to
make the walk to the cemetery when the
service's over?" he asked. "Should be
quite a parade, from the looks of all the
horses here." For the first time he could
remember, the horse showed no
response to his words. He · stood and
studied his horse for a few minutes then
turned and walked slowly back to the
Cody climbed the stairs to the
empty balcony, walked down and sat in
the front pew. He leaned forward , his
hat hanging loosely from his hands
draped over the rail. His eyes focused
on the pair of elaborately sewn, inlaid ~'patterned,
well polished, high-topped
cowboy boots that stood at the center of
the altar. Fancy tooled leather straps
with a large silver bucking horse concho
held a pair of ornate, silver champion
spurs in place at the heels of the boots.
Cody nodded and smiled. "Not exactly
working gear," he told himself, "but sure
as hell fancy at a saloon or a dance." He
glanced upward quickly. "Sorry." He
looked back at the boots, nodded and
The ministers words came into
the old cowboy's consciousness.
" ..... .. told me that there wasn't a story
about the two of them that could be told
in church ,'" the minister said and the
congregation laughed softly·. "He once
told me that he wasn't much · of a man
for coming to church . He worshipped
1997 A RIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
the Lord in his own way and at his own
times and at his own places. That's
probably just what he's doing right now."
Cody nodded as he stood up and
walked to the back of the balcony. The
minister's words were no longer clearly
reaching him as he stood lost in his own
thoughts. Out of habit he pushed the
edge of his thick mustache down into
his mouth and chewed at it. Suddenly
the sounds of the people singing
brought him out of his reverie. They
were singing "Battle Hymn of the
Republic." "Another one of my
favorites," !1e thought as he smiled,
nodded .and began to sing along.
When the ' singing ended, Cody
walked back downstairs and out onto
the steps of the church. A man wearing
the plaid uniform of a Scottish piper
stood beside the door of a van adjusting
a set of bagpipes under his arm. A
gentle breeze ruffled the bottom edge of
his kilts as he played a few tentative
"He's sure gonna look outta place
with all a them cowboys," Cody thought
and smiled as he pulled his hat back on
and tilted it just right. The sounds of the
people in the church singing "That Old
Rugged Cross" brought a wider smile to
Cody's face. "Another one that I really
like," he thought as he walked over to
stand beside the piper who appeared
oblivious to him as he tested and
adjusted his bagpipes.
The people began to file out of
the church, each shaking the hand of
the minister as they passed through the
door: The men pulled on their hats and
spoke to their wives before moving
away for last minute adjustments of their .
riding gear in preparation for the short
ride to the small country cemetery. A
young man pulled on an American
Legion cap, stepped up into his pickup
and drove off down the road .
"The bugler," Cody thought,
nodded and smiled.
The piper walked to the center of
the' road puffed up his pipes, tested
them and began to play "Amazing
Cody nodded and smiled. He
turned at the noise from the grove and
saw several men fighting to control their
horses that had spooked from the sound
of the bagpipes. He nodded and smiled.
"I figured those pipes would cause a
The minister and a tall, thin
cowboy walked out across the grass to
the grove, each carrying one of the
fancy cowboy boots from the altar.
Another cowboy held the bridle of the
dead cowboy's horse as the minister
and the cowboy each put a boot
backward into a stirrup and two other
cowboys tied them into place with a
short leather tie. When everyone was
satisfied, the minister walked to a
waiting car. The tall cowboy stepped up
into a stirrup and swung his leg over the
back of his saddle and took the reins of
the dead man's horse. The remaining
cowboys mounted their horses, wiggled
in the saddles, stood to push down on
the stirrups and gave a tug or two to the
saddle horn to make sure everything
was ready. The tall cowboy waved his
hat and the piper began to walk slowly
down the middle of the road towards the
cemetery. When the piper was a short
distance down the road the tall cowboy
nudged his horse into motion and led
the dead cowboy's horse out into the
1997 AHTZfJNA LITI':IiAI<Y MN;AZINI-:
road to follow. The remaining cowboys
grouped into lines of four abreast and
rode out into the road . The people who
were going to drive started their cars
and trucks and waited.
Cody ran into the road to walk
beside the dead cowboy's horse. He
hooked a finger in the chain under the
horse's jaw and matched the horse's
pace. "Well, Hard Time~, I guess this'll
be our last walk together," he said softly.
The hole for the grave was only
two feet across. The tall cowboy and the
minister untied the reversed boots from
the stirrups, looped a rope through the
boot pull straps and the minister slowly
lowered them into the hole and dropped
the rope on top of them. The people
gathered closer and stood in a circle
around the small grave. The men
removed their hats and several of the
women dabbed at their eyes.
"Cody wanted to be buried in his
best boots and his best spurs," the
minister said, looking around at the
circle of faces. "and this is the way he
wanted it done. After he died last week
he was cremated and his ashes sealed
in his best boots. He told me in the
hospital that being buried in his best
boots was as close as he could come to
dying with his boots on."
Most of the people in the circle
around the grave chuckled or laughed
"And he'd like knowing that he
got the last laugh," the tall cowboy
added, and the people chuckled and
From a far hill the notes of "Taps"
echoed across the circle of the dead
Big Cody O'Callahan nodded and
smiled. "They did it all just 'like I told
'em," he said as he pulled on his hat
tilted it just right and slowly faded int~
the afterlife ..
Mike Thompson lives in Yuma, AZ and has been
a writer for 10 years. He has written articles for
The . Yuma Proving Ground Outpost, The
Cowboy Chronicle, and Fort Abraham Lin~
News. Mike 's, primary occupation is Army Test
Director and Yuma Proving Ground Heritage
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 42
A WONDERFUL DAY
By STANLEY E. SMITH
Mrs. Petullo stirred as the
morning sun flowed through the window
and crept up the covers and onto her
face, casting a yellow glow on the
stretched skin of her forehead. Her eyes
fluttered for an instant, then opened
slowly, taking in the golden radiance of
the walls and the bright glint on the
metal of the bed tray and the
wheelchair. Slowly, and with great effort,
she raised her head to peer over the
bedrail at the figure in the neighboring
"Oh," she thought, and smiled to
herself, "someone new to talk to. It's
going to be a wonderful day."
A shadow cut the golden beam
of sunshine and an attendant stood
beside the bed. "You already awake.
Mrs. Petullo?" she said. "Good morning.
And how you feel today?"
"I feel wonderful." said Mrs.
Petullo. "Nothing hurts yet. And I have a
new neighbor to talk to ."
"New neighbor?" said the
attendant, looking at the other bed. "No,
it's still Mrs. Mandel."
Mrs. Petullo forced her head up
off the pillow, her jaw hanging slack with
the effort. She peered intently at the
face of the old woman in the other bed
then flopped her head down on th~
pillow. "No, it's a new lady," she said.
"She must have come in during the
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
"Okay, Mrs. Petullo," said the
attendant, a large black woman with a
broad smile, named Barbara. "A new
lady. But Mrs. Mandel been here
already three days. You just forgot
again. Now you just try to remember
while I go get some things to fresh you
When Barbara had ieft, Mrs.
Petullo listened for a rustling in the other
bed. But her hearing was bad, she
knew, so she struggled to raise her
head again and looked at the other
woman's face. "Good morning," she
said. There was no response. "Good
morning, there ," she called, her voice
going squeaky and thin.
Two dark. sunken orbs twitched.
then suddenly opened wide. The eyes
inside them roamed the ceiling. then
fastened in the corners toward
"Good morning," Mrs. Petullo
said again. "I'm Mrs. Petullo. Josephine
Petullo. My friends call me Josie."
"I know who you are," mumbled
the woman, without expression.
"You do? They told you about
me?" asked Mrs. Petullo. "That's nice.
And what's your name, dear?" She
lowered her head to the pillow and
awaited the answer, cupping her left ear
in' her hand.
"Mandel." the woman said
wearily. "Erna Mandel." She turned her
head away, talking more to herself than
to Mrs. Petullo. "Three days you know
"We'll have a nice talk later," Mrs.
Petullo said, smiling happily. "I'd like to
hear all about you."
Mrs. Mandel's mumbling was
Interrupted by the sudden entrance of
the docte)l , who was making his' morning
rounds. "Morning, Mrs. Petullo," he said,
checking the chart fastened to the wall
above her head . "How're you doing?"
"Oh doctor," said Mrs. Petullo,
"it's good' to see you again. You've been
neglecting me. you know." She raised
her right hand and wagged a bony
finger at him.
"Still have the pain in your chest
you complained about yesterday?" the
doctor asked, still consulting the chart.
"Pain?" asked Mrs. Petullo. · "I
didn't have any pain yesterday. And
how would you know? You haven't been
around to see me in days."
"Okay, Mrs. Petullo," the doctor
said, "but you don't have any chest
"No," she said . "I feel fine ." As
the doctor moved over to the other bed:
her eyes followed him. "It's a new lady,"
she said . "A Mrs. Mandel. We're going
to have a nice talk later." .
"Hello, Mrs. Mandel,'" the doctor
said . "Feeling better today?"
"I should feel any better?" said
Mrs. Mandel. "I'm in perfect health. I
don't belong in here, you know that. Are
you going to get me out of here?"
"We'll let you go home as soon
as we can ," the doctor said absentmindedly
as he read her chart. "Just as
soon as we can ."
"I should live so long," mumbled
Mrs. Mandel. "You're just like the rest of
By 9: 15 Mrs. Petullo and Mrs.
Mandel had been dressed in clean
gowns and had joined the other patients
in the center hallway, opposite the
nurses' station. Mrs. Mandel had gone
1997 A RIZONA L ITER~.EY Ml.. . GAZINE
first, wheeling herself firmly and
resolute.ly in h~r wheelchair, spurning
any assIstance from the attendants. "I'm
perfectly capable," she snapped,
Mrs. Petullo, on the other hand
needed to be . wheel~9 out by Barbara:
"Take me over there," she said,
motioning with her hand. "Next to my
When she was settled, Mrs.
Petullo turned to Mrs. Mandel, who had
made a point of ;"lot notiCing her. "He"o
again," said Mrs. Petu"0 cheerily.. "It
was Mrs. Mandel, wasn't it?"
Mrs. Mandel studied her for a
moment. "So today I should be Golda
Meir?" she said finally. She looked off
toward the nurses' station and along the
row of patients lined up in their
wheelchairs, most of whom were staring
off into space. After another long
moment she looked at Mrs. Petu"o. "I'm
sorry," she said. "I get grouchy because
I don't belong here."
"Tell me about yourself," Mrs.
Petullo said. "A" about your family, what
they do, where they live, everything."
"Not again," said Mrs. Mandel. ~'I
sound like a broken record." She
paused and looked around again. "I just
have to find a way to get out of here."
"Maybe I can help," said Mrs.
"We already been through that."
said Mrs. Mandel.
Mrs. Petu"o lowered her eyes
and studied her hands, disappointed
that her new neighbor didn't seem . to
want to talk. Then her eyes brightened
perceptibly. "Maybe Oskar could help,"
"If Oskar could help, he wouldn't
be here himself," Mrs. Mandel said.
"Why don't we ask him anyway?"
Mrs. Petu"o said. "If he comes around
today I'" ask him."
Oskar wasn't long in coming
around. He was never long in coming
around. He shuffled around the floor
constantly, talking to some patients and
ignoring others, despite their constant
calls for attention. He had once
marched with the Polish army, he said,
and ever since then he didn't like to sit
down for long.
"Oskar," called Mrs. Petullo in her
high-pitched, tremulous voice.
Oskar ignored her, shuffling
steadily ahead, his slippers gOing
"Oskar," Mrs. Petullo repeated.
"Mrs. Mandel wants to talk to you ."
Oskar stopped and turned stiffly,
facing Mrs. Mandel. He said nothing, but
raised his eyebrows to show that he
was in the receiving mode.
"So what's to talk abouP" said
Mrs. Mandel. "I don't belong here, and I
want to get out. So what can you do, dig
a tunnel? From the second floor
"You want to get ouP" Oskar
"You didn't hear me the first
time?" said Mrs. Mandel.
"But where will you go?" asked
Mrs. Petullo. "Do you have a family to
"Like I said yesterday and the
day before," Mrs. Mandel said , "I don't
need no family. I got one, but I don't
need them. They put me in here. I got
an apartment and I do just fine by
"But you need somebody
sometimes," Mrs. Petullo said. "Do you
have a daughter, maybe, in case YOll
"If I need somebody I get on the
telephone," Mrs. Mandel said. "I got a
daughter, like I told you, and I got a son
And I can call them if I need them But
they're too busy with their own affairs
They don't need to be bothered with me
That's why they put me in here. They
can't be bothered"
"What's your daughter's name?"
asked Mrs. Petu"o. "And how many
children does she have?"
"It's still Esther, and she still has
three kids," Mrs. Mandel said ." And they
all got businesses and they don't want
to be bothered with me. You heard all
this. Now I'm taking the needle off the
"The record?" asked Mrs. Petullo
"One of them made a record?"
Mrs. Mandel leaned backward,
aimed her dark, sunken orbs at the
ceiling and spread out her hands "Get
me out of here," she said in a strained
"You want to get out of here?"
asked Oskar. Mrs. Mandel lowered her
head and covered her eyes with her .
"Now, dear, don't be upset," Mrs
Petullo said. "Oskar can help you. Oskar
can go anywhere he wants"
"I'll go downstairs in the elevator
and call a taxi," Oskar said. "What time
you want to be picked up?"
"Right now," said Mrs Mandel.
Then she saw that Oskar might . be
serious. "No, I have to pack, and it's too
hot in my apartment now. Five o'clock,
before supper. I couldn't stand one
more of them suppers."
"Oh, that's good," said Mrs.
Petullo. "Then you'll have time to tell me
about the rest of your family. And I can
tell you about mine. I have some
pictures in my room. I'll ask Barbara to
"I seen the pictures, Mrs. Petullo.
You just save them. Save them until the
next one. comes in, after I'm gone."
"Five o'clock," said Oskar. "I'll call
a taxi for five o'clock."
A nurse passed by and Oskar
turned and shuffled off. "Isn't this
exciting?" asked Mrs. Petullo. "Now,
what is your son's name?"
At 4:30 Mrs. Mandel was in the
central hallway. She had parked her
wheelchair at the end of the line of
patients, toward the corridor that led to
the elevator. She had taken a blue and
white canvas bag from the bottom
drawer in her dresser and had stuffed a
few of her belongings into it. Now it was
concealed under the light blanket she
had pulled over her legs in the
wheelchair. Although she couldn't reach
the blouses that were hanging in the
room's closet, she had managed to put
on a sweater that had been stuffed into
one of the dresser drawers. She had
also put on some lipstick and rouge, but
not so much that she would make her
"My, you look just beautiful," said
Mrs. Petullo. "Are you expecting
someone to come see you?"
"No," said Mrs. Mandel. "I always
put on a little makeup. It makes me feel
good. Like a human being."
"Well, you look just lovely," said
Mrs. Petullo. "Now, what was your name
again? I'm afraid I've forgotten ." She
gave an embarrassed little giggle.
Mrs. Mandel rolled her eyes to
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
the ceiling and down again. "Meir," she
said. "Golda Meir."
Mrs. Petullo's smile faded and
she looked down at her hands. "Oh,
now, you mustn't make fun of me," she
said. "I know I can't remember things
"Yeah, I know what you mean,"
said Mrs. Mandel, softening her voice.
"It's Erna Mandel. I got two children,
seven grandchildren and three greatgrandchildren.
I live alone in an
apartment, and I'm going home today."
"Going home?" exclaimed Mrs.
Petullo. "How wonderful."
"Not so loud," Mrs. Mandel said.
"They don't know about it." She
motioned to the nurses and attendants
around the nurses' station. "Only you
and I and Oskar know about it."
Mrs. Petullo · looked up and saw
Oskar approaching, shuffling stiffly past
the row of wheelchairs, pausing
occasionally to look over the handful of
visitors who had appeared in the last
"Here he comes now," said Mrs.
Mandel, feeling the bundle under her
blanket to make sure it was still there.
She fidgeted, straightening her sweater,
creasing her lips to feel her lipstick,
tapping her fil)gers on the metal arm of
her wheelchair. Finally · Oskar shuffled
closer and looked at Mrs. Mandel.
"Well?" she asked.
"Well what?" asked Oskar.·
"Well what about the taxi?" she
asked, looking about anxiously. "Did you
"Why should I call a taxi?" Oskar
asked. "There's a whole row of them in
front of the building. Waiting for people."
"Well, then, let's go," said Mrs.
Mandel. "What are we waiting for?
Show me the way." She thrust forward
with her wheelchair and motioned with
her head. But she had to stop
immediately to wait for Oskar.
"Goodbye, dear," said Mrs.
Petullo. "Enjoy your family." She
watched as Oskar shuffled down the
hall, his slippers going "swish-crop,
swish-crop," toward the corridor at the
end, and Mrs. Mandel trailing
They turned into the corridor and
were confronted by the elevator, a large
one with stainless steel doors. "You can
work this thing?" asked Mrs. Mandel.
Oskar replied by ceremoniously
pressing one of the buttons on the wall.
Within seconds the steel doors sprung
open, and they entered the cavern.
Oskar pushed another button and Mrs.
Mandel saw the doors close and felt the
elevator descending. She didn't like
elevators, but she could put up with this
The steel box settled gently on
the ground floor and the doors hissed
open. Again Oskar led the way, swishcropping
toward a large lounge filled
with stuffed chairs and couches. The
swish-clopping ceased as Oskar
stepped onto soft gray carpeting, and he
turned slowly to see if Mrs. Mandel was
Mrs. Mandel was indeed
following very closely. She saw the grey
carpeting and the stuffed chairs, and the
patients sitting motionless while their
visitors tried to communicate with them.
She would be so glad to be out of here,
she thought. Then she saw the large
wooden desk near the door, and the
man in the blue-grey uniform sitting
1997 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
"Oskar," Mrs. Mandel said, "what
Oskar turned slowly. "Who?" he
asked. "John? John is my friend. Come
on. I'll show you where the taxis are."
He turned stiffly again and shuffled
toward the two large glass swinging
To Mrs. Mandel it was an eternity
until they started past the big wooden
desk and approached the glass doors. It
was then that the man in the uniform
looked up. "Well, Oskar," he said.
"where are we off to today?"
Oskar shuffled to face the
uniformed man. "Hello, John," he said.
"This lady is going home."
"Oh?" said John. "Nice of you to
be so helpful, Oskar. But let's see if
everything is in order."
"Everything is in order," said Mrs.
Mandel. "I'm in perfect order and I'm
going home. I don't belong here. It was
"Well, we don't want to make any
more mistakes, then, do we?" said
John. "I'll just give a little call upstairs."
The next morning the sun burst
through the window pane in Mrs.
Petullo's room and tinged her
bedclothes golden. It shone on the
stretched skin of her forehead and
lighted up the wispy grey hair above it.
Soon her eyes fluttered, settled for a
moment, then popped open. She lay still
for a few minutes, enjoying the
sunshine, getting her bearings in the
room. Then she slowly raised herself on
one elbow so that she could see the
other bed in the room.
Yes, she said to herself, she had
a new neighbor this morning. She would
have someone to talk to, someone to
share information about their families.
She would show her the pictures, too. It
was going to be a wonderful day.
Stanley E. Smith lives in Tempe, AZ and has
been a writer for 50 years. He has been
published in the New York Times; Christian
Science Monitor; Popular Science, Sports
Illustrated, Arizona Highways, and Parents
Magazine among others. His primary occupation
is Professor Emeritus, at ASU - International
Communication, Magazine Writing. Mr. Smith is
most proud of being decorated by the Prime
Minister of Lebanon for improving
communication and understanding between the
Middle East and Western media.
1997 ARIZONA L ITERARY MAGAZINE 48
By RUTH Y. NOTT
Cindy could hear the music
drifting down the hall and into the room
where she waited , but could not quite
make out the words her friend Pam was
singing. It was a beautiful melody, one
she had been humming for weeks.
Shifting her gaze from the clear
blue sky outside the window, she could
see the autumn colors taking hold on
the surrounding trees, red and gold,
yellow and brown. And yes, still some
green holding on as though unable to
admit summer was gone and winter
white not far away.
There had been a lot of color in
her life ... a lot of red - anger, frustration,
misunderstanding - all a part of being a
prisoner of this wheelchair, of this
malformed body, of having .10 depend on
others for so much. Someone else must
get her up each morning , care for her
personal needs, get her dressed; must
reach for things she could not reach ;
must retrieve things she dropped; must
lift things she could not lift and must
provide transportation hither and yon for
every occasion. Some people were
more dependable than others, some
more understanding , but there were
always those days when tempers flared
and communication fa iled and it would
have been-so much easier to end it all
with a razor and a flow of dark red blood
(had she the courage to do so) and free
all of them from the burden of her
1997 ARIZONA L ITERARY MAGAZINE
And there had been a ton of
brown, dull, listless days, heavy endless
stretches of empty hours, each one
following on the heels of the next like
elephants plodding slowly, trunk to tail,
heavy with the weight of ennui, great
tiresome brown beasts plodding on and
But, thinking baGk on it now, it
was the contrast of color which had '
made her life a real and vibrant entity,
for there had been days of brilliant gold
and sunny yellow as well - true golden
friendships which had outlasted all
exterior forces; and good times, sunbright
with laughter and gaiety and
camaraderie. Yes, there had been
golden nuggets to treasure, and she
smiled at the memory of those
cherished times and friends.
Blue - yes, she had been blue.
Friends had come and friends had
gone, both male and female. "Time and
tide waits for no man." Or woman. Their
lives had met and joined and passed as
each one moved on to other
commitments, marriage, family, and
careers. She missed them all, some
more than others. There had been a lot
of male friends, but no boyfriends
throughout the years, not really, well,
maybe one. There had been Jim of
course - dear, sweet Jim - dirty rotten
son of a b .... ! Well, maybe not that bad.
He had, after all, asked her to marry
him ... then promptly disappeared, never
to be seen again. If she could just get
her hands around his skinny little neck
(and had the strength to twist it). Yes,
buckets of tears had been shed in the
darkness for dear old Jim. Blue, she had
been blue for months after Jim.
And then there was Bill. Chance
alone had brought them together. A
brother with a penchant for computers
who had the number of a computer
dating bulletin board . Why not, she had
thought, a computer was a rather
anonymous way of meeting someone:
They cou~dn't see what you looked like
on the other end of a computer and she
didn't have to meet anyone if she didn't
want to, just be electronic pen pals and
never tell them what she looked like or
what she was. She had sent in the
$5.00 membership fee and personality
profile and found it fun to check the
computer each day for email. She had
several fellows writing regularly, asking
for more details or wanting to meet her.
She enjoyed the game of keeping them
at bay, and never revealing the real
And then there was Bill. Bill, who
left a letter one day and two the next
and three the next. Bill, who somehow
got under her skin and into the depths of
her soul. Bill, who managed to get her to
reveal her secret self, the inner woman,
the outer woman, the whole life story -
the good , the bad and the unspeakable.
She didn't know why she told him. She
only knew he was easy to talk to and
their conversations moved from
computer to telephone and their calls
lasted for hours, several times each
week, and Bill lived 500 miles away
hours and hours talk ing , touching ,
connected only by miles and miles of
cables, but touching nonetheless. Her
cheeks blushed pink at the thought of all
the ways they had touched . When they
weren't on the phone they wrote letters
and exchanged photos. And, he wasn't
shocked at her appearance for the
1 997 A RIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
phone calls didn't lessen after he knew
the shape of her body and the extent of
And then there was Bill. Bill, who
began to visit on weekends and learned
to drive the van she used so they could
go out alone to dinner, or a movie, or to
the park, or just go strolling through the
So deep in thoughts of Bill had
she become that she was startled when
her father slipped quietly into the room
and touched her gently on the shoulder.
His black tuxedo complimented his dark
hair and the cummerbund helped to
disguise the slight paunch of middle
age. Looking into his eyes, she asked,
"Is it time?"
He nodded and she could see
the moisture glistening like quicksilver in
his eyes. Turning her wheelchair, she
took his hand and they left the room
together. The soft whir of the chair
motor echoed in the empty hallway.
She stopped briefly at the double
doors, just long enough to adjust the
long white skirt and assure herself that it
wouldn't get ' caught in her wheels, and
then , with her father at her side, began
the long walk down the aisle, holding a
bouquet of lavender roses and delicate
And then there was Bill, ... waiting
at the alter for his bride.
Ruth Y. Nott lives in Newport News, Virginia
SHORT STORY -
By SHOSHANA MEIR
Grossly misshapen and repulsive
to all who saw him, Aaron Ganzer had
not left his home since his mother had
showed him to a totally rejecting public
on his fifth birthday. His mother was
blind with love and did not see her son's
twisted body and shriveled legs, his
purulent, moon-shaped face and
constant drooling. She heard only his
beautiful and confidence-filled voice, the
voice that had always made possible
any wish that she or her husband might
have. Intelligent beyond his years, by
the time the boy was ten , he had
mastered all the intricacies of his
father's business and knew exactly what
his mother might need every day in the
way of groceries and household goods.
He then telephoned the people involved
and, with his God-given loving voice and
unearthly self-confidence, managed to
smooth the ruffled feathers of all his
parents' adversaries, to arrange
financial transactions of great benefit to
his father and to order all the provisions
his mother required in her daily
undertakings. As time went by, the two
parents accepted the powers of their
son's magnificent voice and came to
depend on his enabling genius. But the
boy, now a young man, was heartsick
beyond words that he could not appear
in person in the world , that he had no
true friends beyond his adoring and
1997 ARIZONA L ITERARY MAGAZINE
Early one summer day, Aaron
was busy sorting out messages left on
his overworked answering machine.
News of his miraculous enabling powers
had spread in an alarming fashion and
the machine had been instructed to
screen out all but calls using his special
number and take only short messages
from calls to the family line. As usual,
there were many calls for his services
which he duly called back and quelled
with magnificent oratory. One, however,
caught his attention and had a
mesmerizing affect of its own. A young
girl, calling herself Katy Elkins and
identified by the sound of a truly
endearing feminine voice, had called,
apologizing for bothering him and
asking if he would possibly help her set
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