Alzheimer’s disease forced my father to take a disability retirement at age fifty-four in 1981. He had shown symptoms such as short-term memory loss and confusion for several years prior to the diagnosis but covered them with self-deprecating humor. He adapted at work by keeping meticulous notes. The discovery of these notes caused his boss to suspect a problem. He let my mother know of his concerns, which led to tests and a diagnosis some six months later.
I understood that Alzheimer’s disease had a hereditary factor. For years after my father’s diagnosis, I ran checks on my short-term memory…
They sat on the end of the narrow, wooden dock as twilight descended upon the lake — newlyweds, honeymooners, husband and wife — two nights and two days into their forever marriage.
Corrine turned to Justin, who gazed at the calm water. “I want to go home in the morning,” she said.
Justin peered at Corrine as if he didn’t recognize her. “We have two days left.”
“I don’t like it here. I’m bored.”
“Is it the outhouse?”
“It’s everything.” Corrine slapped at a mosquito that had landed on her forearm.
“Did you use the insect repellent like I said?”
With my windows down, AM radio playing country tunes, a full tank of Mexican Nova gas I purchased in Juarez earlier in the day, and a full stomach from the dinner my girlfriend served me, I embarked on my first trip to the only part of my sales assignment outside the El Paso metropolitan area. I planned to spend two nights and two days calling on established customers and prospects in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The road to Carlsbad is US highway 62/180 also known as Montana Avenue as it runs through El Paso. I drove east on Montana in my…
Colleen lay on the couch clothed in the same dress and pearl choker she wore the day she called Thomas’ office two weeks earlier. His terse letter of reply and its torn envelope intermingled with the discarded wrappers, plastic containers, boxes and cans, and food encrusted, moldy plates and utensils that surrounded Colleen like so much fallout from a litter bomb. She had quit wifing all together and ceased living, save for eating and watching television.
She flipped from channel to channel, unable to find the Donna Reed Show, which she…
Colleen didn’t contest the divorce because she never accepted the reality of it. Thomas still came by to see her. They had dinner together once or twice a week, and occasionally he would stay the night. His generous alimony allowed her to abstain from outside employment and continue her wifely duties around the house. Colleen felt she was being courted a second time by Thomas.
Late one morning while taking a walk, Colleen passed a park bench on which sat two women watching a child play in a nearby sandbox. It struck Colleen that…
Colleen sprayed her dyed honey blonde hair into place each morning and wore full makeup, smart street dresses, and a cultured pearl choker as she cooked and kept the house Thomas had purchased for them the day after the cruise ship docked. The two-story Cape Cod with its dormer windows and prominent staircase descending to the entrance way reminded Colleen of the house on the Donna Reed Show. It was perfect.
Thomas referred to Colleen as his perfect wife, and she strove to be even more perfect, detail after detail, year after year, perfecting, always perfecting. None…
Colleen aimed the remote, punched the channel up button, and stared as the images flickered on the glowing tube across the room. Although she hadn’t checked a clock, she was sure it was time for the Donna Reed Show. An L.A. station ran the old late fifties-early sixties family shows in the afternoon. Colleen never bothered to note the station’s channel number, she just searched until the familiar, ageless black and white characters showed up.
The Donna Reed Show had become the high point of Colleen’s day and the focus of her life ever since she found out, two weeks…
After our third was born, I decided to do it. Well, actually, Cindy helped me decide. She said no more pokes until I got myself fixed. She got tired of having kids was what it amounted to. She said she’d gone through the morning sickness and the pain and the gettin’ skinny afterwards enough for one life, and if she could do all that and feed and clothe and clean up after three little ones, then the least I could do was go to the clinic and have myself interrupted.
I’m a big man and I’m tough, played nose guard…
I run with the pack through the underbrush and over rotting logs, the smell of prey locked in my nostrils. The lead wolf takes us down the wooded hillside to the edge of a meadow, to a small herd of deer.
I watch the lead wolf for the cue to attack. We wait in the cold, early morning stillness for a young deer to range too far from its family and observe the females for signs of disease. The leader will pick one out for the kill, but I pick one out, too. I practice the leader’s role. …
It comes to me in darkness,
for that is how I have thought of it,
a solitary figure
searching me out
with eyes hidden by great tinted goggles,
a head supported by nothing more than a curved S of bone,
a fused spine
that resembles the graceful lines of a seahorse.
All flesh has burned away.
The jawbone is missing.
The upper teeth gnaw at me
but cannot consume.
There is no stomach,
no digestive tract.
The exposed brain has turned to stone,
hardened by the elements
and centuries of compulsive thought.
It has come through the hellfire of my…