What can YOU say in six sentences?
Middle of the night, I hear these voices in my head or are they, because when I throw on my pants and follow the sound I find it located somewhere else in the house, so on I pad down to this room, and there is this growing cast of characters all sitting and standing around looking, well, ill and agitated and one of them says, ‘Oh, so you decided to wake up,’ and Charlie steps out of the shadows, ‘—we were beginning to think you had given us up.’
‘If this is a union meeting,’ I demand,…Continue
Alice is quite the opposite of me, more of a social butterfly who appears superficial and impulsive, in the restless way she flutters about a crowd in a room being witty and attentive but that is because she is self-contained by her intelligence and judgment; whereas my melancholy exterior presents me as stern and puts people off when, I suppose, partly because I pulled myself up my the bootstraps and am largely self-educated what I need most of the time is reassurance whenever I fall off a…Continue
What disturbs you most about returning from a front where poverty has developed its own economic system based on the waste of Westerners, or where war is an industry; is the clarity with which you see through the complexities of your own world, where consumers devour the fodder of Goliath corporations that warp the minds of the people on brands and logos in the holy name of democracy, and governments send their young to war while bleeding their families dry through taxation and we, the…Continue
Traffic is quieter driving through Dublin at night since the world woke up to its liabilities, and we cruise without hazard along the quays of the Liffey towards the M50 turnpike where, joining the southbound lane for home, Alice, seemingly mellow and perhaps contrite says, ‘Charlie, all I’m trying to say is that if you jump out of the knife box the rust will set in and getting back to what you have now might not be easy. People move on, form new alliances and there is always somebody coming…Continue
‘I don’t think you should look upon writing a book as some kind of cure-all,’ Alice says. ‘I know of too many people in my profession and yours who gave up their working lives due to stress or who were fired and several said they were going to write a book and you know what – they never did.’
‘Well, maybe I could write a bestseller,’ I say, hoping to win her over, 'and anyway, why should it matter as long as I believe I have something to say?'
‘Do you know the percentage of…Continue
Alice orders chicken with gruyere Comté wrapped in ham cured in Bayonne, mustard and tarragon sauce with pilau rice, and I go for steak and frites. The waitresses weave between tables with a certain grace, and it occurs to me that maybe this is what they do between ballet performances.
When the food is delivered, we eat in silence and I consider Alice’s place in my life and how her wisdom is the bulwark that has so often in the past prevented me from rushing headlong over the cliff…Continue
NGOs put ‘exposure’ high on the agenda when introducing strangers to projects they want funds for; I mean, when they take you to districts where shelling has brought people and buildings to their knees.
Exposure is just another word for orientation to extremes where the people had nothing even before a quarter of a million dollarsworth of hits came in - nothing that compares to fresh water at the turn of a tap, or a lavatory that flushes.
The question is, what would the poor…Continue
Such encounters began with tours to the land of the Taliban in 1996 and ended for me, a dozen years later with the Taliban plunging fire down American throats in 2008 in the Korengal Valley.
‘Plunging fire’ is when the other side hold the steep high ground; but it could be a metaphor for the terrible wars in Afghanistan’s history that nobody bothers to read, or if they do, to no effect - why else would anyone take on a nation that no one has ever defeated including Cyrus, Alexander,…Continue
‘Not quite Paris,’ Alice says in reference to the bistro’s décor, an imitation of Paris in the Fifties, and as she sits I glance over her shoulder at the woman on her cell and am mystified to see that she is no longer wearing an abayah and is holding a menu.
‘Why were you staring so hard at that woman when I came in, you looked, well, crazy,' she smiles and amends, 'crazier?’
Alice tolerates my reckless excesses, my failings and fads, even when they become obsessional…Continue
My eyes fall on the bomb shaped burgundy bottle on the table next to ours whose label tells of its travels all the way from a village community of vineyards in Avignon arrondissement, named Châteauneuf-du-Pape; and now two lovers are taking its pleasure in Dublin.
‘There was that therapist you took your old girl friend to see – I forget her name,' Alice murmurs persistently and my eyes turn to hers.…Continue
‘Charlie, please - where you are,’ Alice says again when I fail to reply becauseI am wondering if, out of concern, someone has called from the office to alert her.
‘I’m in town, Merrion Square,’ I say cautiously, ‘sitting on a park bench.’
‘Are you all right,’ Alice says, ‘your voice sounds funny?’
I parry her question with one of my own and discover she wants to dine out this evening before I head off to France, which is the day after tomorrow and I suggest Chez Max at…Continue
My eyes flash in horror and dazed disbelief over every message as I scroll down through the trashed content of her sent e-mails, through the hundreds of messages sent to a separate e-mail address, all of them containing photos of the heart haunting face so deeply connected to my past.
My brain does a double take, lingers in a hiatus state in affect of the stunting realization, piteously tries to shake off the blow, and proceeds in a struggle to break through the wall between realizing…Continue
Christine had grown up in a farm family that placed no romantic filters over reality, a family that imparted an unblinking view of survival priorities.…Continue
A light breeze stirred the aspens, and from somewhere nearby came the call of an olive-sided flycatcher. Christine remembered teaching Zack and Lolly, then five and four, to recognize the quirky cheeping: quick three beers, quick THREE beers.…Continue
After greeting her mares with apples and kind words, Christine sifted through her house to be sure she’d taken everything valuable or private. A deserted mountain cabin in winter was a favorite destination of trappers and romantic teenagers, she well knew.
In her second desk…Continue
Christine needed to get back up the mountain one last time before the snows came, to load up the horses and bring them down to town. She’d arranged to board them over winter for, if she left them behind at the cabin, they’d go off who knows where in search of food and shelter.…Continue
Christine, down from the mountains, was adjusting to life in town again, and she knew what should and should not be done. She should join the book club. That way lay companionship and conversation, which were vital.
She should not go into bars alone.
The men looked at her and thought, there's a woman who's been up in the mountains without a man.
She must be hungry.
"Stupid men," Christine thought, "who don't know the difference between hungry and…Continue
Christine and her brood came down from the mountains in fall, exchanging their high plains meadow cabin for a flat in town with a view of a warehouse wall.
Has to be done, she told Roy at the hardware store, because ya can’t risk getting snowed in all the way up there, eh, even…Continue
Happenings, unprecedented, are ongoing as we speak! I hope you're sitting.
Uncharacteristically, the red haired woman is back to meet the neighbor across the hall; She never, ever shows up two days in a row!
Twenty-four hours have passed, her car waits in the lot, while his is nowhere in sight.
I'm thinking major kidnapping; He has had enough of the tease of waiting!…Continue