No wonder it was good

My mom’s Grasshopper Pie recipe reads like a story about her take on living. I cherish several things about this recipe. First, note the ingredients: creme-filled chocolate cookies, butter, marshmallows, milk, whipped cream, and booze. “Eat today, for tomorrow you may diet,” my mom would often say.

Next, note the experimentation that took place; the strikeouts are in her hand-written copy of the recipe. Did it happen that, on some occasion, we were offered a 6-serving pie that contained 6 ounces of crème de menthe (15% alcohol) and 3 ounces of creme de cacao (25% alcohol)? That’s 1.5 ounces of liquor per piece of pie, and I remember being a little kid when she would make this. Also, it was almost impossible to stop at one piece. Glad she toned it down! 🙂

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That door

I’ve watched that locked wooden door for decades. Today on a walk, imagining, I step closer. It is tall, and deep crimson.

Painted slowly.

Its round brass doorknob begs to be turned, and its keyhole is big enough to look through. 

I kneel to look, and I see cold spring grass, green as only California hills can green it. Lilacs and daffodils, sprung wild from bulbs even the squirrels forgot. Live oaks and laurels; wild-rye and trillium; rare pallid manzanitas that grow only between here and El Sobrante. 

I stumble back, stand, blink.

Good God, it’s not what I thought.

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Just as I pushed “Up,” the elevator doors opened, and out stepped a guy in a tweed overcoat, buttoned, collar up. A hospital gown peeked out below the coat, barely covering the spindly bare knees, and bright yellow no-slip socks covered his feet. He shot me a guilty look, then broke into a trot as he hustled across the lobby toward the doors. 

“Wait!” I shouted, as he exited into the winter sunshine. “Stan!” 

The guard behind the lobby desk followed Stan with his eyes, then turned to me. 

“No worries,” he said. “Happens all the time. We’ll get ‘im.”

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Behind the Glass—a short story

The hospital chaplain’s normally gone at this point, because you’re dead, after all, and your loved ones are gone. But for some reason I don’t want to leave you just yet. Your sister and your friends made for the elevators just minutes after the RN noticed your death on her monitor and joined us in the room to whisper “He’s gone.” Booming news, delivered like a puff of smoke. Relief and grief; exhaustion and adrenaline…. 

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The Gerbil Thief

“Dear God. Not again.” Shelly blew out a loud sigh and tapped on the glass next to Chewbaka, hoping this time it would jump up, or yawn, or even twitch. Nothing. She unlatched the top door of the cage and reached past the Chewbaka-sized ramp and running wheel to where the little animal lay snuggled into its digging dirt, but not in its usual spot, and not curled in its usual ball-shaped sleeping self. Shelly poked Chewbaka gently with her finger. Nothing. It looked a little thin, but it’s not like it was wasting away. Why did this keep happening!? “Siri, call Jeff.” Siri called Jeff. “It happened again,” said Shelly, as soon as Jeff picked up. “What happened again?” he asked. A voice in the background yelled “Order up!” Jeff was obviously busy. “You know,” said Shelly, rolling her eyes. “Oh never mind, I’ll handle it.” “Wait, don’t, that’s […]

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That Sound

Audiobook Jen steps up to the yellow line on the train platform, thinking that today she’ll make an appointment, get herself checked out to make sure nothing’s wrong. Rule out anything serious, so she can stop worrying. As if to confirm the wisdom of this idea, it happens again. Her neck makes that sound as she turns her head to look into the train tunnel. It sounds like a butcher knife scraped across cartilage. No! she thinks in the general direction of her Neuron Jumper implant, I don’t like that image. Give me a different one. She turns her head and hears the sound again, no different, but this time the image that comes to mind is of fingers sliding across a keyboard—brrrrrroop, with trilled r’s. It’s artsy and creative, and not at all creepy. Better, she thinks. In a Jumper subroutine, the fingers-sliding-across-keyboard simile gets a plus one. Even if Jen can’t make the sound stop, she can at least […]

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