Archive for May, 2013

Hazard, by Jacqueline Allison

Hazard, by Jacqueline Allison

Red Rose, by Rebecca Myers

Red Rose, by Rebecca Myers

Black and White Flowers, by Rebecca Myers

Black and White Flowers, by Rebecca Myers

Sunflowers, by Rebecca Myers

Sunflowers, by Rebecca Meyers

I Do, by Tai Hardie

I Do, by Tai Hardie

Ides of the Heart, by Michael Robinson

Driving down Miller Boulevard, the chrome 26” Giovanni rims that rolled underneath the body of the flawless silvery-gray Mercedes Benz SL500 gleamed in the sunlight, just begging to be looked at. Turning on National Avenue, the woman driving the luxurious car was oblivious of the things around her. Of course, she glanced and looked at the scenery as she drove, but she wasn’t really in the right state of mind. She was at peace with herself, listening to Terrell Carter’s “Take A Bow,” the cover song to Rihanna’s hit single, thinking about how she was blessed with a job that allowed her to have a six figure salary and ability to travel almost anywhere for a vacation, with all expenses paid. Yes, she was in heaven, but there was something missing: a man that she can call her own. Turning into her driveway, the woman pulled up to her ten foot tall metal gate that surrounded her home, and stopped at the two closed gates. Leaning over her car door, she typed in the security code on the keypad, and waited as the gates opened to allow her access before driving in slowly.

Parking in her four car garage next to her black Suburban, she grabbed her purse, her suitcase and her coffee mug and headed into the house. Marisol, her friend and housekeeper, greeted her when she entered the kitchen. “Hola, Senora Beckley, how are you this afternoon?” Marisol asked, sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper from this morning. The woman went over and gave Marisol a huge hug.

“As good as I could possibly be, Marisol. Today was one of the quiet days at work, so I ended up going to the lakefront for an early lunch and looking at the water roll.” She opened the cupboard and got a glass out and filled it with lemonade that Marisol had made not too long ago. “Then I told my secretary that I was going to be gone the rest of the day, and I ended up going to see my mother and having a lovely chat about my being single, and how she wanted me to find me a man that I can settle down with in this big ol’ home and have a family with before I get too old.” She laughed. “You know how my mother is, always wants me to have a family and not be alone.”

“Ah yes, I do. She loves to tell me that I need me a man, too, Miss Beckley. I tried to tell her that I had some children of my own, and that I already had a husband, but she keeps telling me that I need me a man in my life.” Marisol chuckled. “She’s a dear. I guess she says that we have to find someone like she has, right?”

“Oh, no, Marisol, I don’t think anyone will ever be able to find someone like that. I mean, my father is one in a million. I mean, no one can belch like he can, sing like he can. No one can even try to do the same handshake that my dad gives everyone. My dad makes everything that he does unique, so I know that there isn’t one out here like him unless he’s a twin.”

Marisol giggled. “Miss Beckley, you never know. I mean, you might be surprised with how some of these men these days are acting.” She got up and took her coffee pot to the sink and rinsed them before putting them in the dishwasher. “Are you hungry dear?”

“Yes, ma’am, did you cook anything before I came in?” the woman asked, looking through the letters that Marisol had brought in from the mailbox. All she saw was bills, bills, and more bills. Sighing, she looked up at the middle-aged woman that was getting pots and pans out of the bottom cabinets.

“No ma’am, I didn’t. I didn’t know what time you would be in….”

“In that case, Marisol, let me help you cook. It’s been a while since I’ve really cooked a meal, and I want to get to feel how that feels like I used to. If you want to help out, that’s up to you…” She went around and pulled out some pots and placed them on the flat-topped stove, and spun around. “Now, what to cook…”

Going upstairs, she changed into some gray, loose jogging pants, a black short-sleeved tee and some house shoes, and went back downstairs with her long shoulder-length hair in a ponytail. Once she made it to the bottom of the landing she picked up her phone and dialed her mother. Her mother answered on the third ring. “Hello?”

“Hey, Mama, it’s Shay.”

“Hi, baby, how you doing? You make it home okay?”

“Yes, Mama, I’m fine. I was calling you to invite you to dinner over at my place. Marisol didn’t cook anything when I got home, so I decided to cook for a change, to let her rest a bit. I have no idea about what I’m going to cook, but it’s going to be delicious. Want to join us?”

“Shay, if it’s not too much of a bother, baby, I’ll be happy to join you for dinner. Is there anything that you want me to bring?”

“No, Mama, just bring you. I have everything else covered. See you over here in a little while.”

“Alright, and thanks ahead of time baby.”

“No problem, Mama. Bye.”



*          *          *

When Shay’s mom arrived at her home at 7 o’ clock on the dot, Shay and Marisol had the feast ready and waiting. Shay looked at her handiwork before they arrived and believed that she and Marisol had done an excellent job. They had cooked some pork chops, black-eyed peas with neck bones, candid yams, collard greens, chicken, cornbread, and three different kinds of desserts, peach cobbler, bread pudding, and some blackberry pie.“Come in, Mrs. Beckley, come in,” Marisol said, opening the door and greeting each with a warm hug. “It’s been a while since I’ve talked to either of you. How are you doing?”

“Good, Marisol, just fine,” Mrs. Beckley said, giving Marisol a hug. “What about you?”

“Oh, can’t complain. I’m doing the best I can with the Lord’s help.”

“That’s good. Where’s Shay?”

“Last I saw her, she was heading upstairs. That was about ten or so minutes ago… I haven’t seen her since.” Marisol closed the door and went to the foot of the stairs. “Miss Beckley! Your mother is here!”

“Okay! I’ll be down in a second!”

Marisol turned around and looked at Ms. Beckley and smiled. “I take it she’s changing into something that is appropriate for the occasion.”

“Oh, okay, well that’s fine. I’ll just go and wash up.” Mrs. Beckley set her purse down on the black leather couch that was in the living room and headed toward the bathroom.

Just as she closed the door, Shay came down the stairs, dressed in a black blouse with gray dress pants and one inch black sandals. She looked like she was going to work, but in a casual way. Shay looked around the room. “Where’d Ma go?”

“She went into the bathroom to wash up. You sit down, Miss Beckley. I’ll take care of everything else.” Marisol ushered Shay to the head of the table.“Thank you, Marisol. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“I know, Shay, you tell me that all the time.” Marisol chuckled. “Anyway, you’re like family to me. I’ve been here too long to leave.”

“You are family. From the day I asked you to be my house keeper, you’ve been my best friend and a part of my family. Everyone in my family loves you. You’re good with kids, you love your work, and you put up with me, especially when I’ve had a bad day at work.” Shay shook her head. “Marisol, without you, my house wouldn’t be a home. It would just be an empty house that has no cheer.”

“Oh, thank you, Miss Beckley. I feel a lot better now.” Marisol gave her another hug. “Now I think we should eat now before the food gets completely cold.”

“Girl, y’all ain’t started eating yet?” Mrs. Beckley asked, taking her seat at the table.Shay laughed. “Mama, I was just talking to Marisol about some things, that’s all. We were waiting on you so that we could all eat as a family.”

“Thanks baby, but you didn’t have to wait on me.”

“It’s fine ma, we all here now.”

Grabbing each other’s hand, Mrs. Beckley said grace and they all dug in.

The Winter Man, by Steve Kuzma

Like a dusty key left unused to a door that ceased to exist anymore, the winter man waited for a winter that ceased to arrive. His snow removal equipment lay scattered in barns with no purpose but to rot. The fields which had brought joy and wonder all those years ago now lay overgrown and listless, waiting for the feel of a snowmobile track.  No one appreciated the winter anymore and the winter man would have none of that. He always sat waiting, waiting for the snow to come back. The winter boots he wore curled and cracked in a sun that seemed to never set, his face red from the snow winds that had battered his face long before. The times had changed around a man, but the man had not.

The winter man held on to the snow, its wonder and mystery were never to be forgotten.  The years flipped by and society forgot more. The winters of time seemed only like a history lesson that had battered the people instead of something that was to be enjoyed. The farm he resided on, too, was like the winter: dwindling into the past, it coated with rust and tarnish.  The clock of time ticked on, but before all had failed and time expired, the winter man’s waiting had stopped. So long had passed but the sky had grayed and a miracle fell from the sky. Blanketing the ground, his farm seemed as if it were new again. Society panicked and snarled at the sight of the winter, but the winter man was back into his grove.

The barns were lighted and glowing in the darkness of the night. The equipment roared to life and the snow continued to fall. Tracks from his snowmobile graced the fields that had lain listless for so long. The snow waged on, and now society waited. Like a kid afraid of the night, society was in fear of the snow. Locked in their homes, glaring at their T.V’s, society’s turn to wait had arrived. … They were locked within the hands of winter and it was up to them to find their inner winter man.

Forgotten Pump House, by Steve Kuzma

Forgotten Pump House

A Life Stamp, by Michael Hammer

Living only a block away from Mr. Howard’s candy store as a child was a treat.  I went every time I had some change in my pocket. Most times though, I found myself going when I didn’t have a penny to my name.  It would be Mr. Howard who would teach me a lesson in trust that I would never forget.

      I liked Mr. Howard.  He was always quick with a smile and an offbeat joke that only he would get.  I would laugh, or at least smile, to humor him.  I liked playing the “guess which cup held the piece of candy game.”  He would place a piece underneath one of the cups, mix them up, and I would try to guess which cup it was under.  I, of course, would always win.  Mr. Howard would be amazed at how smart I was.  For some reason this didn’t bother him, and I loved to win that tasty treat.

      One day, I found myself alone in the store.  Mr. Howard stepped outside to speak to a neighbor.  He had asked me to keep an eye on the place.  I felt so important, someone at the age of seven taking on such responsibility.

For the first time I truly saw the store which I spent so much time in. I was mesmerized by all the diverse colors all around me. The many shapes and sizes of the thousands of pieces of candy carefully placed in the glass cases, and counter top jars.  The faded wooden floor would creek with each step I took as I explored all that I’ve seen before, but never truly noticed.  All of this exploring was making me hungry.

       I thought he would never notice if I were to help myself to my favorite candy bar.  Besides, he gave me candy all the time.  I started to work my way back to the front of the store.  Although I could hear Mr. Howard talking outside, he wouldn’t be able to see me from where he was.  I had the candy bar in sight; my heart began to beat faster.

       I placed the item in my pocket just as Mr. Howard walked in.  Our eyes met. Mine must have shown terror, while his showed anger, a look I never saw before from him.  Before I could muster up something to say, he told me to get out, and to never come back again.  My heart that was racing slowly began to sink.  What have I done?  Everything at once came crashing down.  I lost Mr. Howard as a friend, and I let him down.  More importantly I lost his trust, which hurt the most.   

       Over the following weeks I tried to talk to Mr. Howard, to apologize, but he would have none of it.  I missed my friend, and would do anything to gain his trust again.  I vowed to myself that I would never steal again. Nothing like this could ever be worth it.

       Several weeks later I walked past the candy store, Mr. Howard smiled at me again.  I smiled back.  Then I was elated one day when he invited me into his store.  We were talking once again.  I told him how badly I’ve felt and said I would never do anything like that again. He must have felt my sincerity and said he was sorry for yelling at me, but I knew that I deserved it.  I wondered if he would ever be able to trust me again.  He then reached behind the counter and brought out those familiar cups.  My eyes lit up, and he smiled.  He then began to tell one of his jokes. When he finished, I laughed.  I got it this time.

       I did eventually earn Mr. Howard’s trust once again.  It didn’t come easily, but was well worth it.  That was a long time ago; it was a lesson that has stayed with me to this day.  Now as an adult I find myself from time to time walking past the building that holds so many childhood memories for me. I stop sometimes to recall them, with that one particular lesson in trust always coming to mind.  As I think about that day way back then, all I can do is smile.

Phoenix Now, Issue 4

Phoenix Now–Issue 4–Complete PDF–with Watermark