Silence and Smoke

I’m missing my pipe. Sheldon talked to himself as he wandered over to the small set of drawers next to his work desk.

Have you seen it? He absent-mindedly asked his cat, Presley who didn’t even break his stride in licking his paws.

No? He raised his voice and this time Presley lowered himself to shoot him a glance and flick of an ear. Sheldon opened the top drawer. He shifted pens and pencils around.

Ow! He pulled his hand out swiftly and watched a line of blood raise on his middle finger.

God damn it. Sheldon swore and received another bored look from Presley. Looking down, he saw an exacto knife, which should have been retracted into its protective handle, but wasn’t. In other words, again he only had himself to blame the pain. He hitched up his shoulders in a huge sigh.

Ok then… He went back to his stool in front of a canvas partially painted. He looked at the curls and waves and whorls he had already blessed the canvas with. He thought of his talent as a blessing. Or told himself too. Reaching for his brush, he heard something clatter to the floor. Presley did not like the ruckus and jumped down from his perch.

Ah HA! His pipe lay at his feet.

Woohoo! He ran over to his old, beat up recliner and pulled his bag out from a secret pocket he had sewn into the inside of the chair. He broke the weed up on a commemorative Queen Elizabeth dish. After he raised the foot rest, Presley jumped onto it. Sheldon noticed this and hitched another sigh. It was then that he heard the footsteps clicking up the stairs. His bowl would have to wait.

HULLO! Sheldon! Mrs Greeley knocked on the door. He pulled on a flannel shirt and put Presley in the bedroom. He didn’t like Mrs. Greeley and he didn’t go quietly. As soon as Sheldon shut the door, he started his pitiful meowing.

Coming. He said glumly as he walked down the hall towards the chained door. He pulled the lock and the door open. It was more a yank since the door stuck something terrible. There Mrs. Greeley was, an old-fashioned hat with flowers on top, suspended by subtle wires. They shook when she moved even slightly and as always, Sheldon had to put in real effort to look away.

Well, don’t leave me waiting sweet pea. She said with a kind tone. She loved to tease him. And Sheldon hated to be teased. Carrying a brown bag of groceries, she made her way to his small, immaculate kitchen. Well, except for his usual stack of empty pizza boxes. Sheldon liked pizza. A stack of rinsed cat food cans lay dry as a bone in his dish drainer.

How is Professor Greeley? He asked, attempting to be social. She shot him a look.

Martin is fine. Her voice went up at the end, like she appreciated the formalities he went thru each time she came.

Ok, you should be set for the week. Need anything else? Doing ok? Sheldon scowled. He hated to be fussed over.

Yes, I’m fine. Why? She seemed to ignore his question. She started to wipe the counter vigorously. He put a hand on hers.


Martin left me. After this announcement, he told her to go sit in the studio.

Sheldon settled them in with cups of coffee. He drank his sweet and light, she drank hers black.

Martin drinks his coffee with honey. I never saw such a thing, can you imagine? She kept dabbing at her eyes. His anxiety went thru the roof as he realized the emotions he had just let loose in his studio. Presley continued to meow pissily

Um, did he say anything? Like did he give you a reason? He was in such unfamiliar territory; his coffee cup shook in its saucer. She didn’t answer.

I never use the saucers. You’re the first. He smiled at her. Still no response. Fuck it, he thought.

Would you like to get high? She looked up at him shocked.

What? She shook her head as if she hadn’t heard him right.

Smoke pot. He clarified. I’m an adult, he thought, it isn’t any of her business what I do.

Well, I haven’t ever. Why do you offer? He shrugged his shoulders.

I don’t know, always helps me feel better. She put her elbows on her knees and propped up her face on her hands.

So you feel better? Than what? This sent them both into an impenetrable silence.




At the Corner of Your Mind

Minnie Jo Franklin, just what do you think you are doing? An exasperated mother turned and called out to a child, crouched down, holding a worm.

Studying nature! The child yelled back.

Move it or no treats. The mother said and resumed walking. Treats are the best, the mother thought. Minnie took her mom’s hand.

I think so too. Minnie said. Her mother distractedly crunched her face into a half squint half questioning wrinkled forehead look and prepared to guide her daughter across the street.

What? The mother said as she looked both ways before pulling Minnie by the hand just a little too hard. Subtle revenge; she was a mother and tired.

Treats are the best! Minnie chirped. The wrinkles in the mother’s forehead grew a little deeper, making the lines of time more pronounced with each unconscious flexing of facial muscles.

Oh. The mother missed a beat in her strut. Did I say that aloud, she thought? She looked down at Minnie. Minnie smiled.

I’m holding you with my wormy hand Mommy. She shot her mother a very signature Minnie face and her mother laughed.

By the time they entered the store, the mother forgot all other thoughts except an extreme hatred of the overwhelming reek of incense in the store. What do they have back there, a shrine…

The Bug

Is fury red colored? She asked him as he picked up his brushes.

Maybe. Sometimes. Well always. He answered.

That’s much clearer, thanks. He continued to pile up his supplies in a milk crate that was also red.

It’s a lot of trial and error. He said, apropos of nothing. She picked up a rainbow slinky. The plastic juggling sounded like depressing train clatter. She missed the metal ones even though they made her hands smell something awful. The room went suddenly silent and she looked up at him. His eyes were already stitched to her.

What? She said. Walking slowly across the room, he put a palm flat on her thigh. For the longest rapidity of time, his face grew closer and closer to her face. His other hand suddenly grabbed the slinky.

Gimme that. She flinched and hated herself for doing it. She especially hated him because she would have let him kiss her if he had.

You’re a fucker. She said, sweet as pie.

I know, I know. But things will come around. His crate of paints and jars clinked as he went down the hall.