Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Feline Loyalty

The vet said Leona would be happy anywhere as long as she was with somebody she loved. I am sure it was a big adjustment for her, however, moving from a spacious country home to a basement apartment in downtown Toronto. Still, she seemed content even though there was now only a small backyard to which she had access through the small window over the stove in my tiny kitchen. Then one day as she got a paw caught in an element while jumping from the stove and broke her leg. She sulked for weeks in a corner, blaming me.

Leona moved with me several times while my parents were in Italy, adjusting to various circumstances with grace and tolerance. When my parents returned to Canada, she went back to them, happy to be with the other persons she loved. And they moved twice after that as well. The vet was right – cats are content to stay with their humans under any circumstances. Nobody can now tell me that cats are opportunists, seeking comfort and feeding from whomever comes along to provide it. I am glad, however, that Leona’s final place of abode was a spacious home in the country.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Michael and Me

Sure, it was fun while it lasted, but I go to bed early these days. I’ve got to get up in the morning—somebody does—but Mike doesn’t care, because he sleeps in all day. He pads into my bedroom and bounds on the bed, wanting food. Wanting out. Pounding his paws on the window at 3:00 a.m., and still he wonders why I’m even too tired to prowl on the weekends.
     “You’re such a drag since you started that job. Why can’t it be like it was?”
     “Shut up, Mike.”
     It’s never again going to be like it was.

Lady Day

Like scripture, Billie brayed away in the background, promising the difference of a new day. Given the last twenty-four little hours Roz had experienced, she was willing to try. Forget waking up and padding downstairs for coffee. It’d be excruciating. And lunch time? Still too raw. Maybe she’d feel better by dinner, or after her post-prandial run around the darkened streets. That’s it; the darkness would do it. She liked to run at night and imagine she was underwater. Those sections of sidewalk illuminated by the street lamps were the shoals. The dark spots required more trust, a sure foot.

Hello, It’s God Calling

Joan was sick of Elliot being stoned all the time and she called it quits. After that Elliot got even worse. One night, ripped on acid, he drove his car over a cliff. It was not a very high cliff and the car landed upright. Elliot was unharmed. Even so Elliot swore that God had saved him and told him he needed to clean up his act. He came back to Joan promising he was determined to stay straight. Her wanted her to marry him and move up north; dedicate their lives to God. Joan did not like that, either.

Joan was relieved when Elliot finally stopped bugging her to marry him. Apparently he had met a woman who was willing to follow him into the wilds, live off the land, and produce baby after baby for him. Joan kept waiting for them to leave, but they stayed around town doing the Jesus Freak thing; handing out Bible quotes and talking about being born again. After awhile it became obvious the woman was pregnant. She was in the hospital birthing their baby when Elliot came by and tried to hook up with Joan, again. He told her God wanted it.


“Look at them all,” cried Atalanta as birds spilled from the cliffs in a black, swirling mass, skimming the river and back to the sky.
     “What’s going on?” asked Hermes.
     “Well, it’s been said swallows hold the spirits of dead children and so can never stop flying, except to nest. Their legs have shrivelled to little hooks and their wings have grown so long they can’t beat them well enough to take off from the ground, and so they must throw themselves from the cliffs . . . and now you’ve got to tell me what kind of bird you would be.”


     “I don’t get it,” said Hermes. “Who would want to be a bird?”
     “Ask the guy who ploughed his father’s sports car through the guardrail up there and into the river—they got the car back, but never did find the boy—or his poor sisters who waited forever on the riverbank with the paramedics. Or ask his boyfriend,” said Atalanta, “who dove right in after hearing the news and searched all night until they had to drag him away. By then, they say, he really believed he’d turned into a swan.”
     “Must be a homo thing,” said Hermes.

Painting by Marina Moevs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pandora’s Jerk

“What a rotten drive.” Epimetheus removed his sandal and shook the confetti out of it.
     “It’s okay,” said Pandora, rubbing her knee where it barked against the chariot’s door. “We’re home now, and look, Epi, we still have Zeus’ wedding gift. That didn’t break.” She showed him a jar and attempted to open it, but it was stuck fast.
     “Here," he gestured impatiently but after several attempts gave up. “Fuck it, I’ll open it later.”
     Pandora picked it up. This time she felt the seal give way. “Oh,” she told her husband, “you must have loosened it for me.”

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Tramps, strumpets, whores, sluts and SISTERS – we gathered at Queen’s Park this afternoon and marched to police headquarters to show our displeasure for a remark from a police officer who addressed a group of female students at York University. He told them that they would be safer from rape if they did not dress like sluts. The crowd of people who showed up for the ‘Slut Walk’ was amazing! It felt like the old days when we marched for women’s rights back in the seventies and eighties. We thought we won back then. Now we are fighting again.

I think Jane Doe was there at the march. A woman who said she had been raped in her bed gave a speech. I lived in that area where a rapist was stalking women in their own bedrooms, but it was kept silent; police hoping to lure the predator so they could catch him – Jane Doe being the final victim, unaware of the threat. Finally the news got out and an information session was held by police. We were told to keep our windows locked shut. Only sluts would keep their windows open in the middle of a sweltering summer.

Friday, April 1, 2011


     “Look at all this beer!” said Atalanta. “Why aren’t you drinking?”
     “My father drank,” said Nick.
     “Shit, I’m sorry.”
     “Don’t be,” said Nick. “It wasn’t the booze that killed him, it was the cigarettes; but when he got drunk, he got dumb, and I hate being dumb. Drunk he got bitter. Drunk he was full of stories about how my mom had bled him dry.”
     “He was a pilot, right?”
     “Just private,” said Nick. “But all that mattered was that plane of his, and that was all he asked for. Drunk he was dull, but sober he could fly.”


Dad loved flying the coastal route, but it pained him to see how quickly the shoreline was deteriorating. So, whenever he could, he’d set out to document all the damage himself, 1500 feet at a time, then back again to the beginning, like he was running out of time. When I was old enough, I got to sit right up in front of him and shoot out a hole he’d rigged in the port window. My job was to keep track of where we’d left off, call out the landmarks, and make sure all the photos were properly framed.


So, one day, in the middle of a particularly bad run, my dad throws the plane into a climb that’s way too fast and way higher than he’s supposed to go. But when we finally level off, I can see farther than I’ve ever seen—the land is green, the ocean blue, with nothing but a ragged silver thread holding the two together—and in that perfect moment, my cornball father says, “Some day, son, all this will be yours.”
     And maybe it could’ve, if not for the movie star who didn’t like us taking pictures of her beach.

Images excerpted from Flying Down by David Salle, © 2006.

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