ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
.
.
.
I don’t drive by the Thin Place so much anymore, where Death appears as a Carney operating the giant Ferris Wheel of life and death. My commute now takes me west instead of south, where the Thin Place lies in a divided place between the northbound and southbound lanes of a minor state highway going into the northwest corner of Houston. Instead of passing by Death every day on my way to and from work, I pass by subdivisions and shopping centers and schools and lots and lots of trees. But I made a point of dropping by yesterday; there was someone I hoped to see.

It's been too long )
ninanevermore: (Default)
.
.
.
In the Spring of 1994 I was still living at my father’s house, having graduated college the year before but having not found permanent reliable employment to afford myself a place of my own. I had graduated with a BA in Journalism around the same time I figured out that I was not cut out to be a journalist, but had yet to figure out what I was cut out to be (something that has not changed in the last 16 years). Responsibility and commitment were not high priorities for me, so one morning God sent me a puppy to help me along and show me the way.

You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. -Robert Louis Stevenson )
ninanevermore: (Default)
.
.
.
A strange thing happened last night as Jeff and I sat outside and talked about his brother. Jeff's anger and my dislike of Pete sort of dissolved, and we found ourselves feeling something akin to sympathy.

"He wasn't a bad guy," Jeff said, "I mean, he wasn't a good guy, but any means, but he wasn't…" He stopped, and seemed search the sky for the right word.

"He wasn't evil," I suggested. "He was a schmoozer and grifter."

"He was a conman, but he didn't have a malicious bone in his body. He wasn't mean. He didn't take pleasure in hurting people, I think he just didn't realize the damage he did. It honestly didn't occur to him that what he did was wrong. It never did, from the time we were kids."

You can only get by on charm for so long. )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Yesterday a guy down the hall from me at the office was walking around showing off the souvenir program a friend who works at one of our California locations sent him. He was very proud of it.

Considering the business we are in, of course I am talking about a souvenir funeral program. Farrah Fawcett's funeral program, to be exact. We didn't get Michael, but we did get Farrah. For the most part, it just looked like any other funeral program, except for the photo of the decedent on the front. Most people go for a tasteful head shot of the dearly departed, but the Fawcett family went for this photo:

Farrah Funeral Program


A starlet to the end, I guess.


* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * # * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
ninanevermore: (Default)
.
.
.

I got a message the other day from Bren, who I used to work with at the Toll Road Authority. She wanted to let me know that the wife of Flatulent Charlie had died in a car accident, in case I wanted to show my respects. Charlie was head of the Revenue Collections department at the Toll Road Authority when I worked there several years back. He is a crusty old grouch with white hair, a white moustache, a beer gut, and a digestive system that under international treaty is counted as a biological weapon of mass destruction.

I always thought that Flatulent Charlie's wife was sweet, but there is no way that I wanted to attend her funeral. At most funerals, the widow or widower sits in the front pew and the lesser mourners sit behind them. The idea of spending an hour sitting behind Flatulent Charlie fills me with horror because Charlie is – to put it bluntly – very, very flatulent.

Even sitting at the back of the chapel would be no escape. Charlie's farts are legendary. He is the king of the SBD. They float in a heavy cloud around him. They linger, they lurk, they leap up and lung down your airways when you least expect them. I can't begin to describe what it's like to ride in an elevator with the man. A short trip from the second floor of the Toll Road Authority building to the first seems to last hours when you can't breath.

House plants wither and die when he walks by.

So do canaries.

I am sad to hear about his wife. Nevertheless, I think I'll just drop a card in the mail letting him know I'm sorry for his loss, and call it good.



* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * # * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
ninanevermore: (Default)
.
.
.

I spent the afternoon before Thanksgiving this year at a funeral, which is not such an unpleasant way to spend an afternoon, depending on why you are there. There are two reasons people attend funerals. The first is because you have just lost someone near and dear to you and you need the rituals and comradely to help you wrap your mind around what has happened and help you find closure. I've been to my share of funerals for that reason. The second reason you go to a funeral is to provide comfort and show respect to those people who are there for the first reason. This was one of those funerals for me. These funerals are bittersweet, but not devastating. It was for a neighbor in the corner house of the street I grew up on.

The Dream Builder )
ninanevermore: (Default)
.
.
.

"I have some sad news," my father called me up to tell me this morning, "You know Thelma across the street? She passed away."

I may be pushing 40, but it's still hard for me to think of the woman across the street as "Thelma." She is, or was, Mrs. Wagner to me, and it's impossible for me to shift gears and think of her by anything else. She was the busybody of the street we lived on, and in good weather she was always in her front yard with a garden hose watering her lawn and her azalea bushes. Using a sprinkler would have denied her the opportunity to watch her neighbor's comings and goings, which was one of her greatest pleasure in life.

The younger of her two daughters, Dena, is a few years older than me, and I grew up wearing a lot of her hand-me-down clothes. I didn't mind this in the least, because they were mostly brand new and still had the tags on them. Mrs. Wagner would buy Dena clothes while Dena was at school, and it seems like Dena rejected at least half of what her mother brought home. After enough of these rejected clothes piled up in the closet, Mrs. Wagner would arrive on our front doorstep with a white plastic trash bag – and sometime a large black lawn trash bag – full of clothes, asking my mother to go through them and see if I could use any of them.

Despite the Rumors, Beggars Can Be Choosers )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about Mazin, the husband of my stepmother's best friend, Jackie. Jackie and Mazin were looking forward to two big events: their 20th wedding anniversary, and his return from Iraq, where he has been working as a translator and consultant for at the United States government. My stepmother mentioned that Jackie had stopped by the other day to ask that they go with her to the airport for Mazin's homecoming. He was due to come home in two weeks, and she had been making plans for a grand reunion. Now there is a change of plans, and he is coming home early. He will not be running to great her with hugs and a kisses like she had hoped, however. She wants my stepmother and my father there with her because this homecoming is not something she wants to face alone.

Mazin is not flying home as a passenger on the plane. He is coming home as cargo. News sources mentioned late last week that two civilian contractors were killed in the Green Zone on the 27th.

One of them was Mazin.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone… )
ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
I am standing back from the Ferris Wheel, watching the Carney and the woman with her finger pointing in his face. She is shouting at him, more confrontational than anyone I have ever seen facing down Death.

"If you think I'm leaving without my baby, you're dead wrong," she shouts at him, seemingly unaware of the irony of her words, and then she lets loose with a string of epithets. She is screaming, crying, cursing, banging on his chest with her fists, until he takes her in his arms and whispers something to her. I've never seen him actually touch anyone like this before, or anyone fall against him and sob like she does. He holds her tightly, tenderly, whispering words I can't hear, stroking the back of her hair with the hand that is not holding his cigarette.

I stand back and watch as if frozen. I am stunned. Since Cameron's aneurysm in 1993 I have written his epitaph a thousand times in my head, waiting for that phone call from Tennessee; waiting to hear that, after all these years in limbo he was finally gone and we could grieve for him at last. I've steadied myself to be there for Leslie when she finally lost her son, to comfort her and help her through it.

"You're like my little sister, Nina," she's told me on so many occasions, "You don't know how much you mean to me. I love you so much."

I was prepared for Cameron's death. Leslie's death, however, has blindsided me.

A New Ass-Kicking Angel stomps through the Pearly Gates )
ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
I drove by the Carney yesterday at dusk to see what he was up to.

Standing next to him at his gate was a beautiful, slender woman that I recognized as the wife of a childhood friend of mine. Her dark brown hair fell across her shoulders. She was showing the Carney a photograph, pointing to it and smiling the way parents do when they show off pictures of their children. Her son is 7, her daughter is 3. The Carney pointed to a car on the Ferris Wheel as it moved up toward the sky away from where they stood, and the woman waved to it. Her face looked wistful as her children's car moved away from her because they are still destined to live and grow. When it was gone from her sight, she turned away from the Wheel and the Carney and stepped through the gate, where she disappeared into the evening air.

The last anyone saw of her face, part of it was missing, as was her dark hair. I hear she was startling to look at, to put it mildly. But when I saw her last night she was as beautiful as ever.

Watching her there, I realized that I have a funeral to go to this week.

The baby's eyes are red from weeping / Its little heart is filled with pain / Oh Daddy, it cried, they're taking Mama / Away from us on the evening train... )
ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
Driving by the Ferris Wheel this morning, I noticed the Carney talking to a tall man with salt and pepper hair. The man was an imposing figure and was obviously in the middle of a dissertation of some sort on some subject that he was passionate about.

The Grim Reaper is not small, but this man had a good two or three inches on him and was rather powerfully built. The Carney looked small next to him.

The man's head tilted at an angle that said to his listener, "Now, you are getting this, right?" The Carney was listening and nodding politely, a slightly bemused look on his weather-worn face.

This conversation must have begun some time yesterday afternoon, when the Carney stopped the ride to let my uncle off. I can't say that it had been going on for the better part of the day though, because I've noticed that Time does not move in the same way around the Ferris Wheel as it does in the world I drive to work in. Sometimes time moves very fast there, and sometimes it stands still. For all I know, it had only been a few minutes for my uncle, who had stopped to have a conversation with the operator of the Ferris Wheel when he exited the ride. Perhaps he wanted to tell him how the Ferris Wheel could be designed better, or to comment on the view he had while on his ride. Perhaps he wanted to ask about the mechanics of the Wheel, but got distracted by his own musings and has launched into his view about Ferris Wheels in general or the differences he had perceived in Metaphysical Ferris Wheels and the kind you ride at a carnival.

My uncle carried a child in his arms, a little boy with dark curls of about 8 years old, who must have run up to the gate to meet him when he exited the ride. I wished I could have seen that, because in life I never got to see this child run. He was long and thin and graceful, this boy, with a masculine beauty that would have grown up to be a very handsome man if he had ever had the chance. I saw him whisper something into his father's ear and the man stopped, grew quiet, and looked at him. The boy repeated whatever he had said, urgently, and my uncle nodded. He placed his son on the ground and the boy took his large hand into both of his small hands and tugged on him to pulled him away from the gate. My uncle paused a moment to shake hands with the Carney. The Carney's hand disappeared into the giant paw of my uncle's grip as they said their goodbyes and my uncle turned toward the little boy. I glanced away to see if my traffic light had changed, and when I glanced back a second later, my uncle and his son were gone, and the Ferris Wheel was turning again.

I could see no sign of them. Time moves differently over there.
ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
Today at the stop light, I was watching the Carney and the Ferris Wheel again. I see it slowing, but I'm not sure who's getting off anytime soon. I don't like this. It makes me afraid.

Death I can deal with, provided it's under the right circumstances. If a person has lived a long life and is ready to go, than it's all well and good. But death has never been picky, and not everyone gets their money's worth on this ride. The Carney is temperamental. Some people he lets stay on the ride it seems like forever, and they make the circle over and over again. Some people get only a rotation or two. Some don't even get that much.

The Carney has a scythe tattooed on his right arm, and a skull tattooed on the other. Above the tat of the scythe, his cigarettes are rolled up in the sleeve of his t-shirt. I think he smokes Dorals, but I can't be sure. Across the knuckles on his right hand. it says L I F E, on his left it says D E A TH. Sometimes, when he catches me looking at his tats (he has a lot of them), he winks at me, and I just wish he wouldn't.

A large number of people are about to get off the ride, before they have gotten their money's worth. I hate premonitions. I hope I don't know any of riders who disembark. I'm weary enough as it is theses days.
ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
Driving through the stoplight this morning, I noticed that the Ferris wheel was still stopped, while the old riders got off and the new riders got on. The Carney was smoking a cigarette while the loading and unloading took place, one hand on the door to the car and the other on the lever of the ride, the cigarette clenched between his teeth. The car stopped at 11:30 last night, and he was just getting ready to close the door and restart the ride.

I scanned the crowd of riders making their way toward the exit and I did catch a glimpse of her. I barely recognized her - she was a bit taller than I remember, her hair a flaming red and a beau on each arm. She was dressed to go out in finery from the late 20's, her lips painted red and her hips swaying. She was a Louisiana Baptist girl gone bad, a pillar of small town decadence and a bona-fide bon vivant (but still an avid church goer - where better to meet quality men and to be admired in your Sunday best?). You could tell by the way she walked that she loved to dance, and that she never sat one out.

She wanted to see my infant son before she got off the ride, and I let her down. The trip was planned for the first of June. I waited too late. I watched her wander off, whispering in the ear of first one beau and then the other, then laughing. Then, unexpectedly, she turned her head back toward me. "I'm sorry," I mouthed. She winked and puckered her lips into a kiss, then disappeared around the bend.

As usual, no one else noticed. No one knows that the Ferris Wheel is there, or that the Angel of Death looks like a carney (and that he smokes). The light changed and I drove on.

I've got to find another route to work. That stop light is freaking me out.

Profile

ninanevermore: (Default)
ninanevermore

April 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 12:25 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios