Endgame

Getting old is no fun. The worst thing about it is that you hurt all the time. I’ve got a bum knee and a bad hip. Old war wounds. I don’t know what I would do without Advil. My cousin, who is younger than I am, says old age is not for sissies, and I agree.

When you get to be sixty, your friends start dropping like flies. I lost another one last year. An old college buddy died of cancer. It was his second go-round on the cancer front. He had colon cancer, but he survived that. A few years later, the disease showed up in his liver, and that got him. A few years ago another friend discovered that he had a tumor the size of a golf ball in one of his lungs. They took that out, and he’s still alive and kicking. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. You’re always looking over your shoulder when you’re old enough to keep an AARP card in your wallet.

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After a Fight

a collection of micro-fiction by Liesl Jobson
([email]jobson [at] freemail [dot] absa [dot] co [dot] za[/email])

Amputation

At 19, the gold band on my child-thin hand was a ligature binding an artery of joy.

A gangrenous bomb ticked under my skin as the sharp metal chafed my swelling flesh.

Before the surgeon (sterilized in righteousness) removed my finger I visited the jeweler — and smiled as he cut off instead my wedding ring.

After a Fight

Defeated, I speed read books, thrash through webzines, hum mournfully and dive into debt.

When I’m spent and broke, my conqueror says, “Write”. The echo returns unbidden and involuntary, “Right!”

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Only in America

I had a doctor’s appointment the day the passenger jet lost its tail and made an unscheduled stop in Queens. My wife called from work to tell me about it. Sick to my stomach, I searched the online news websites for details. Nobody had much information.

I went outside and smoked a cigarette. The sky above the hills to the east was a wash of pink and gold. To the west, behind the house, rain clouds the colors of ashes were bunched like fists.

Later it began to rain. The water pounded on the roof, sending the cats flying for the bedroom, where they huddled cheek to jowl beneath the bed.

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THE COWBOY SONG

a short story by Joan Horrigan
([email]joanhorrigan [at] msn [dot] com[/email])

“Describe the music, Claire” Todd requested simply, as if that were simple to do.

We had just finished dinner at my place and were relaxing in easy chairs in the study, me in my old jeans and faded shirt and Todd neatly dressed in casual attire, when I told him about the new CD I had made for him. Todd was interested in hearing which piece on it I liked best, preferring to focus on a specific song and relish its details, ignoring that I had recorded many songs for him and the fact that I had learned to use my new CD burner.

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War

Up, down, sideways. My emotions are all over the place after the terrorist attack. First I’m angry, then depressed, then angry again — this time at something else. One day I’m mad at the terrorists, the next at the FAA, then at our foreign policy, and finally at myself for second-guessing.

Is patriotism the last refuge of scoundrels? Or is it hindsight?

My friend Leonard and I argue each morning on our daily walks. “Nuke ’em,” Leonard says. “No more land wars in countries where we don’t belong.” Leonard, a Vietnam vet, is suspicious of government policy.

I share his skepticism about our leadership until I read an article I find on the Internet about the major players in our state department and their preparations for a response to the attack.

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Daddy

We finally figured out what to do with my wife’s father. We locked him up. “Shoulda done it years ago,” was Kermit’s opinion, expressed at a family meeting called to decide the old boy’s fate. Really, there was nothing else to do. His wife, no spring chicken herself, couldn’t deal with him anymore. Who else was going to take him in? His brothers and sisters were either dead or as crazy as he was, Kermit, the youngest, being the exception. But Kermit, a bachelor, wasn’t caretaker material. Kermit and Earl didn’t get along anyway. “Never did, never will, “Kermit said. I once asked Kermit why he didn’t like his brother. “Because He’s a jackass,” Kermit replied.

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