Archive for category Short Story

Stay Away from the Aqua – Maxwell Chandler

20170208_222425-002It was as if every trial from the year at an end jumped onto my shoulders. Piled upon, I could barely stand and had no energy nor desire to go out and tip my cup to the start of a new number on the calendar.

I was waiting an hour or so more into the night before putting my bathrobe on as to avoid becoming the cliché of the hermit. I had just put on some Pres when there was a knock at my door. Lucinda often refused to recognize my self-imposed exiles regardless of the reason.

She wanted to take me out as no one could remember when they had last seen me.

“I like the music…is this…”

She said the wrong nick-name.

“Well, I am much more honky-tonk” showing a toothy smile.

I felt like a little kid, the world of childhood where there is a set schedule for everything and any deviation is cause for upset. Four O’clock is graham cracker time regardless of where the child may be. The music played, a sense of anxiety briefly flashed across the face as I prepared to beg off until some abstract time in the future. I was told that just the fact I had become so apprehensive was an indication to her that I had to go out with her.

She started driving, away from the city as to hinder my ability to beg off after one round and head home. Every third beautiful woman I met outside of the city proper who had no compunction about being barefoot at any social gather turned out to be one of Lucinda’s cousins.

I only seemed to run into them outside of the city and only ever when with Lucinda. Despite this, they all seemed to know everyone that I did. This cousin was a part time chef and although I instantly forgot it, her name perfectly suited her and had that ring of tradition to it like all the rest of the fruit on the family tree.

We sat on a couch which initially to me looked beat to hell but turned out to be rather comfortable. The cousin came back with some dull silver tulip shaped ice-cream dishes.

The cannonball sorbet got its heavy, vertigo inducing power from the white Jesus that the Loganberries had been soaked in. Always, for seven days as it seemed biblically appropriate.

Although I prided myself on tolerance for drink, it very quickly became a bit much. Lucinda had grown up on the stuff, or at the very least its relatives. So, when she described its effects, they differed drastically from those of mine.

For her, it was more like a heavy velvet curtain of such a rich, dark hue as to hide all the dust slowly descending after the last act of a play, the plot of which the audience had already forgotten.

It was not that I was uncomfortable in our collective silence but I had to do something to temper how the walls kept rippling towards the center of the room then back out again like cheap sheets of plastic.

I flipped through the records and found Mozart’s clarinet concerto with a cover so faded I could not tell who the orchestra was. It had been her father’s and although she never listened to it, she had kept it.

The music started. The beauty was almost too much, the beauty caught in my throat. Elbows on knees, chin in palms I covered my face with my hands. Lucinda’s hands went to my shoulders.

“Shhh..there you go, there goes last year, say goodbye.”

finis

 

 

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Time Change – Maxwell Chandler

I always found the fatigue in the maid’s face oddly attractive. I tried not to leave too big a mess as the typical tourist and business traveler was wont to do.alley late at night

I did not require service every day which I think was secretly appreciated.

One day my timing was off, I got back from lunch before my room was ready. So patiently and unobtrusively did I stand in the corner that the maid soon forgot my presence.

As she was making up the bed she paused and looked out the window. I was the voyeur receiving knowledge for my discretion.

How long would she look? Despite being younger than I, for her there was no longer any dreams of escape but now merely that of brief distractions.

Once again aware of my presence, she blushed, backing out of the room, pulling her cart after her.

Without having sought to, she influenced me. Out of curiosity I let my gaze drift out the window, not necessarily interested in what I would see but rather what I would think in thoughts drifting.

Not meant in the same way as used to describe a maudlin holiday special, talking to you on the phone with the curtains drawn is timeless. There seems to be, as the conversation ambles, all different aspects of me and not just me as I am, but also as I had been and will be that take turns rising to the foreground.

I want.

I did.

I have.

I lost.

What times is it there?

 

-finis-

 

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Smoke in the Lobby – Maxwell Chandler

We were in her hotel room because my tiny place had been made even smaller by the still drying paintings. Even though she was going home at the end of the week and there were parts of Vienna that she still wished to see, I stubbornly remained too sick to go out for more than a quick meal nearby.

While using her full bathroom mirror which allowed for a better shave than that of my small circle, as I smoothed my left cheek I once again told myself that I really was sick but that I could make far more of an effort, this debating continuing onto my right cheek.

A beautiful day, the windows stretched out their wings wide, reaching towards the Stadt park. We drank vermouth and sodas lying atop the covers while listening to bop.

We fell asleep. I awoke before her, the sun still shining. The perfect moment and I knew that she was truly going home soon.  20160706_090958

I put on my most unwrinkled shirt. We ran all over the city and when her legs became tired we barnstormed with a crazy Serbian taxi driver. I loaded her up with chocolates and kirsch for her journey home. Sneaking into the opera house to see the Rodin bust of Mahler, my wet shoes squeaked but still didn’t give us away.

Now she is gone. I must find a new framer since Marc ran away with a student from Algiers, at least temporarily.
I find myself going back to all the places we had been; as if there were a chance of glimpsing at least her shadow and then by stepping on it she would be unable to leave. I play our records over and over but I would have anyways.

I am sitting in the Stadt park sketching. A few benches down from me a girl stands, thighs holding her bicycle as she throws something in the trash. Her figure is made to seem plump by her sky blue capris and white ankle socks. I notice her brown mole above the corner of her right lip which slowly twitches in concentration.

As I turn to a clean page and settle she is already off. I do some detailed studies of acanthus and some poppies. I want to enjoy the weather but now indirectly so I stop at a café on my way home.

At the counter is the girl from the park whom I now find myself standing beside. She is taller than I, which had earlier been camouflaged by the bicycle.

I think of a passage from Don Quixote. The Don had told his man Sancho to go by himself to see the Don’s raison d’ etre, Dulcimina. In doing so, Sancho would then come to understand the reason for the arduous mission that the Don and he were on.

Sancho went and not being beset by passion or delusions as was his master reported back a far less superior picture including the descriptive phase:

“A horsey scent.”

Of course she had been out in the sun riding a bicycle. Two people together do not always produce roses either but it was made more tolerable by the activity which went into creating the bouquet.

I came out of my musing to sip my coffee. The girl was gone, replaced by a man with a camera around his neck carefully unfolding a map.

Finis

 

 

Not for use without permission. maxwellachandler@aol.com

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