One Cool, Cloudy Day

“Hey, White Beard.” Mike greeted.  Bob grinned–stroked his chin-whiskers.  Yeah, some got it–some don’t.

“Where’s Alan hiding?”

“I don’t know–saw his girlfriend yesterday.  Said she was working at Dugan’s or some other place,” Mike answered.

Mike hadn’t seen Alan since the day before.

Gravelly voiced Mike, was the group’s unofficial spokesperson.  Alan had been charged with bringing picnic supplies.

“He was a no-show, because he’d stayed up he whole @%&$# night,” Mike speculated.

“Just made it worse for everybody else.” Mike said between coughs.

“How many we got left?” Asked Bob.

“Here’s more hot dog buns. They’ll work the same for brats.”

“Mike–do you want me to run out for some more?”

“There’s no need for it.”

“That cat–comes around here every night looking for a meal.”

“It had better stay away from my food.  Scat, cat!”  Dave threatened.

“Don’t chase it off, Dave,” Mike said.  “We’ve never had any rats.  Or, snakes, either.”

The stray tabby ran, hid somewhere in the kudzu along the park’s edge, near the railroad tracks.

 

On One Particularly Beautiful Day

A beautiful day in the neighborhood. A good day to do just about anything.

Beginning with a long walk along the bay, watching fish jump for entertainment. Or, whatever fish jumped for–catching prey, impressing fish of the opposite sex–who knew?

Breaking for witty banter with some of the neighbors. Wasn’t traffic near the newly-opened amusement park beginning to snarl?

The pooches had a friendly get-together. There were no canine disagreements. What kind of dog was a Feist? Nobody
knew exactly.

“It was a small hunting dog.” “It was the same as a rat terrier?” “A Jack Russell?” “Must have been from Germany–the name sounded Germanic.”

Business was closed without any new business. The consensus was to wait-and-see on the Feist dog. One of the neighbors was acquiring a new pup.

Farewell 2016

New Years Eve traditions–Chinese cuisine, with egg rolls mandatory.  Also, black-eyed peas with cornbread.

The past year was one of extremes–emotional highs and lows, gains and losses.  Two family members and a close friend passed away last year.  Dangling conversations fade.  Good times, now happy memories.

And you read your Emily Dickinson

And I my Robert Frost

And we note our place with book markers

That measure what we’ve lost…

–Paul Simon–

Several relationships ended and those involved moved on.  Because of these events, there were a record number of trips out-of-town.

My wish for everyone, is that we treat each other with more civility in 2017.  I still believe everyone has a story to tell–if we can get past the posturing.

I shot a bullet into the air, it fell to earth I know not where.

For revelers in my neighborhood, I wish an extra heaping, helping of common sense this New Years Eve.  Bullets do, indeed, come down somewhere.

Salute to a Friend

My heart hurts today.  Good friend, best man at my wedding, “Uncle Joe” Cikan, passed away last evening after a long illness.  I will be gone for a few days to attend the funeral.

We met in late 1970, at Sheppard AFB, Med Services tech school.  From there, to Rhein-Main AB, Germany, where we were barracks roommates.

Both of us were Illinois born and raised–a long way from home.  I understood Joe’s absurd, wacky sense of humor.  There was nothing I enjoyed more than playing off his amusing anecdotes.

Joe had a lot of nervous energy–couldn’t sit still.  I can still hear him walking in stocking feet–heels pounding the floor.

That pent-up energy made Joe a wonderful house guest.  As hosts, we were delighted, to find the place tidied, and the laundry done up.

I saw a little of both parents in Joe: a coarse, gruff sense of humor, from dad, Stan; kindness, patience, from mom, Mary.

How could Joe have had an Sicilian mother, a great cook, and not like pasta.  I more than made up for Joe’s share on visits.

Joe Cikan flew under the radar; gave freely of himself to others.  He earned a Master’s degree while stationed in Germany.  Unlike myself, he saved money while away from home.  Above all else, Joe was a good listener.

There remain, just the three of us:  George Burbage, Ken Terry, and myself to carry on the story of our fallen brother-in-arms.

So many good memories, the likes of which, will never be repeated.  We never forgot the “gravy all over my face incident at the German gasthaus.”  Joe’s reaction to seeing me in that predicament, was priceless.

Ms. B. Rogers, the misguided, somewhat scary, AF dependent wife, frequent ER visitor; moonlighted as a stripper; made the “Desperate Housewives” look tame by comparison.  Even kindly, Dr. Kreutzmann, WWII vet who’d served on the Russian front, was leery of her.

The latest, perhaps the best, was Joe’s account of George’s pet cat, Clyde, embezzling 100 dollar bills from his wallet.

A salute to you, Joe!  Proud to call you my friend.  You were my hero.  In your honor, I aspire to be kinder, and promise to be a better listener.