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Well, no avoiding it. Get it done. That had become her new motto. She had gotten it done for her husband. Children. Work. Now it was time for her to get it done for herself.

This, if anything, proved that she could not wait. COVID-19 had interrupted. Age was interrupting. Nature. No doubt. “Get it done.”

Coffee was first sipped. Comfort drink. And for fortitude. Then she pulled up Excel. Opened BucketList.exl. Found ZZ Top. She’d always wanted to see them. Her husband had seen them three times before dying. So when they’d been scheduled for the Britt Festival this year, she’d jumped all over it. Get it done.

Now the bassist was dead. Dusty Hill. Original. Sure ZZ Top would go on. But. Like Cream. She’d hoped to see them but Cream only had Clapton left. At least she’d seen the Beatles. Stones. Pink Floyd. Jethro Tull. Heart. Journey. Foreigner. All thanks to her husband. Get it done. Because time didn’t wait. She’d missed on The Who. Had put it off. Then. Moon was dead.

She would still go to the ZZ Top concert. Wouldn’t be the same. Just like with the Temptations. They’d done all the music but not with the members she’d known growing up.

It had not been the same.

The Zombie

He held his breath. Listened. Turned toward the sound. Looked for escape. Too late.

Sounds increased. Growling. Snarling.

Zombie.

A hiding place was needed.

Nothing was in the room.

Weapon, then. A defense.

Twisting, he crashed through the kitchen, jerking open drawers, pawing through contents. Snarling became a roar. The zombie burst in and rushed him.

Grabbing his coffee mug, he spun. “Here. Coffee.” His hand shook as he held out the steaming cup.

The zombie stopped. Accepted the mug. Breathed in the aroma. Took a sip. Sighed.

“Thanks.”

Turning, she shuffled out with muted growls.

Don’t You Know

Took a flight to the moon last night

Traveling real fast on beams of light

If you didn’t look you probably missed the sight

Don’t you know?

Slipped in by Mercury

Swept on in past the sun

Man, you wouldn’t believe the fun

Don’t you know?

Then we turned and left our galaxy

Flying like a bird on a universal breeze

Firing past time like it couldn’t be

Don’t you know?

Went on to the Universe’s edge

Stood there like it was a window ledge

Thought about jumping but fell back instead

Don’t you know?

Stayed in my room deep in dreams

Making up stories and fantastic schemes

Man, you should have been part of the scene

Don’t you know?

Her Life

Her life. She had such a life. All centered on her children. Now. Had been different. Career. Charity work. Volunteering at the Guild and the Food Bank, delivering meals to shut-ins, meeting with the garden club and the book club.

All gone with her macular degeneration. Reducing her life to her children. No, her grandchildren. She and her daughter ‘did not get along’. Saw politics differently. Education. Fashion. Manners. Daughter blamed her for – “Whatever,” she usually explained, too limp to delve deeper into words and emotions, too worn to extricate and untangle the relationship to the satisfaction of anyone outside of it.

The grandchildren, though – twins. He, dyslexic. Energetic. Masculine but wary. She, in the forefront. Quick-minded, always watching, pausing to see. Cowboy boots – red – and sparkling tutus. She, ordering him on what to do, when to do it. How. Correcting him. He, obeying, sometimes with frustration, which the girl child – they were only eight, miniature people, perfect little unblemished slender human replicas – soothed with whispers and touches. She could not see their future. That worried her.

Then him. His life. No life. Writing. Living to write. Brooding, apparently writing in his head. Reading. Walking around, sipping coffee, staring at walls, floors, windows, always there but never there. Her son. She could no longer connect with him at all. He was a house that couldn’t be entered. Curtains on the windows. No doors in nor out.

Phone rang with an old-fashioned tinny sound reminding her of the happy times at her grandmother’s home. Her daughter was calling. She didn’t want to answer. Probably about money. Usually was, when she called. She put a smile into her voice. Shook off her weariness. Must not upset the princess lest she cut off access to the grandchildren. But she would not do that, would she?

Not a chance to be taken. “Hello, honey,” she said, fake happiness in her voice, pressing forward with her life.

Ready

Well.

Pat drank coffee. Sheetz, black and sugary. Squinted. Eyes burned. Little sleep. Too much night telly. Too much sunshine. Possibly vodka, too. And beer chasers. A Marlboro was lit, sucked, stared upon with distaste. Vile habit. Had him in his grip.

This little mélange of acknowledgements about his underlife stirred anger. Anger fed determination. Get ‘er done. He threw down the cigarette. Tramped it. Picked it up and carefully added it to the small baggy in his pocket. To be thrown away later. Litter was terrible. He wouldn’t be part. Smoking might be killing him but litter embarrassed him. ‘Specially butts on the ground. Fuckin’ appalling.

He stared up at the house, shifted himself, and moved. Now he was ready. Pumped himself up. Drank more coffee. Marched the walk. Pavement needed repaired. Up the steps. The rot on them caused a grimace. To the front door. It stuck. Required a shoulder and a grunt to push in.

Mom’s house, without Mom, waiting inside. He had, he was certain, never been to Mom’s house without Mom being there. No, wait. He nodded. Yes, there was the time when she was hospitalized. Yes.

Eyes went to the steps where she’d fallen, flipping over the side, where there was no rail, bouncing off furniture. He’d warned her. Damaged shoulder, black charcoal and gray clouds covering her fair, flabby skin. Pierced lung. Broken ribs. Could have been worse. Gone into Mercy for three days which became ten. Had to come back for items she needed. Dan lived with her then. Her fiancé. But Dan, Mom said, “Can’t do it. He doesn’t know where things are.” The man lived there with her for twelve years and didn’t know where things were? Come on. But Dan beat Mom out of the house, dying while driving, crashing his Prius into a tree on a snowy winter night while the icy road laughed. Fuckin’ roads.

Yeah, only he was left. Shit. To go through Mom’s stuff. Shit. He brushed away tears from his eyes’ corners before they could get a rolling start, finished the final coffee ounce, tossed that cup and looked. Shit. Where was he supposed to start? He was the last of the children. Mom outlived them. Well, till now. Him, the oldest. Cancer took two. Shit. Both non-smokers, just a year apart, pancreas. Just him and grandchildren now. Well, widows and widowers. But they…yeah, no.

He’d called his ex to help. She couldn’t. Sympathized but couldn’t. Busy with their kids, going to Disney. Second wife just laughed. “No. Not bailing you out this time.” Like, when had she bailed him out? Made it sound like he’d been in jail. He’d never been in jail. Third wife was in Vegas with her fourth. Cried a lot on the phone but made no commitment. So here was Pat. Alone. Cleaning out Mom’s life. Shit.

He’d walked, he’d sat, he was thinking. Didn’t know how to do this. Despite everything with Mom, he thought she’d keep on living. Always thought somehow, impossibly, she would outlive him.

He bent his head with a heavy sigh. Yeah, he was wrong. It would take more coffee, more cigarettes, more time.

He was not ready.

Sunday’s Theme Music

5:35 AM swept by.

The sun didn’t show.

The FIC (Floof-in-charge) gave that a whiskery frown. They’d been on the job for over six centuries. The sunrising thingy had a rhythm they’d notice after a few years on the job. Maybe they’d missed something on the schedule. Consulting it, they confirmed Sunday, June 6, 2021…

Nothing scheduled. Sunrise, 5:35 AM.

Pulling out the cosmo communicator, they called up to the regional system overseer. “This is the Ashland FIC. We were supposed to have a sunrise at 5:35.” They were looking around as they were talking. No sunlight. Not even false dawn. The birds were muttering about it. Bears, cats, and nocturnal animals milled around, wondering what was going on.

“What’s the problem?” the overseer said in their nasally voice.

“There’s no sunrise.” The FIC then wondered. “Did the sun rise everywhere else on schedule?” It seemed implausible that it was an Ashland-only issue, but equally amazing that it’d happened elsewhere and went unreported.

“Shit,” the overseer said. “The sun didn’t rise anywhere. Shit!”

The line went dead. The FIC looked at the cosmic communicator. A fox came up. “What’s going on? Where’s the sun?” A couple crows joined him, nodding their heads in agreement. “We have things to do,” the crows said.

“It’s coming,” the FIC mumbled, calling the overseer back.

“What?” the overseer asked. “Kind of busy now. If this isn’t an emergency — “

“I know, I’m the one — what’s going on with the sun?”

“Oh, yeah, you. We’re going to roll the day back. The sun was, um, indisposed this morning, so, um, ah, anyway, let everyone know, we’re rolling back time so that sunrise commences on schedule. They won’t notice a thing. Tell them to just be patient.”

A few seconds later, the FIC looked up as the sun swept past the eastern horizon at 5:35 AM. Right on schedule.

They snorted. Sure. Hopefully, all would go well when the sun was due to set at 8:44 PM, but they weren’t going to hold their breath.

“Through Glass” by Stone Sour (2006) is playing through my head. Something about how some days feel like forever. Ever notice that? Happened a lot when I was a child. Look at the clock, waiting for it to advance, wondering if it was possible that time stopped, or was it just the clock?

Anyway, here’s the music. Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask as needed, and get the vax. Cheers

The Wizard of Floof

The Wizard of Floof (floofinition) – 1. Title given to an individual animal capable of harnessing and directing animal magic. Debate among floofologists swing from it being a single individual, to many entities, or, in the minds of many floofologists, a floofological being.

In use: “Once he’d learned about he Wizard of Floof, the writer became obsessive about the existence of another land, and eventually developed a series of books featuring a wizard in another land.”

2. A person with the capacity or capability to charm, control, or help animals.

In use: “People who are wizards of floof often become known for working with one particular species, such as the cat behaviorist (Jackson Galaxy), or a dog or horse whisperer.”

Propfloofsition

Propfloofsition (floofinition) – 1. A proposal or idea involving an animal or animals.

In use: “A growing propfloofsition is that animals need safe places to cross roads, so bridges and tunnels for them to safely cross highways are being built.

2. A suggestion made by an animal.

In use: “In deed and sounds, pet owners not infrequently find their fur friends making the propfloofsition that the animal be included in any Zoom meetings conducted.

3. A stand for animal rights through the reduction of animal abuses.

In use: “Cage-free eggs, banning trophy hunting, and shutting down puppy mills are three propfloofistions by which people are trying to make sharing the world with animals more humane.”

Floofthartic

Floofthartic (floofinition) – Of, or relating to, the purification or purgation of the emotions (such as sadness and loneliness) primarily by animals.

In use: After dealing with her finances and the stresses of being unemployed, and coping with the news of the pandemic, she found sipping a glass of wine with her dog (Chef Eddy) beside her on the sofa on her cat (Loki) on her lap a needed, floofthartic experience.

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