Heart Attack… by Don Comfort

 

Heart Attack

A flashing image fills my mind,
A Crucifix, attacked by Art;
All for One, offered to all
Transfixed by the demon’s dart,
The love one only hopes to find

Hung suspended on the wall.

In groves of pulsing neon sign,
A thought-web, tangled by design,
Flex the muscles of the Heart
Grown weak in sands of wasted time;
Prove the virtue torn apart

In the desolate ways of War.

 

Everything you need to know about Don Comfort can be found on page 98 of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.”

Copyright © 2012 by Don Comfort

 
 
 
 
 
 

Feeding the Birds… By Carla Blaschka

 

Feeding the Birds

        “So, where are you getting off?”
        The question came from the woman beside me. We were riding the Route 359 bus across the Aurora Bridge from downtown Seattle, and she’d been trying to make conversation with me the whole trip. She seemed a happy, bouncy type, with her hair a riot of black curls tied up in a shocking pink ribbon. There was a time I would have responded to the interest in her eyes, a time before I died.
        I’d just come from a meeting at my lawyers. We had a sit down with the other side to discuss my lawsuit. The builder of my dream home had brought his brothers along for moral support, or immoral support to be more exact. All three brothers sounded like wise-guys from New Jersey, and probably were. Both brothers had that squared off set to their shoulders that said; “Don’t mess with me unless you want some.” It was a popular look in prison and with newly-released ex-cons.
        I thought they should pay for putting my parents in a coma and killing my dog. They didn’t.
        I said you built my condo on top of a toxic waste dump; it oozed out and killed the people I loved. I included Frazier in that, of course. As all pet owners know, pets are people too.
        They said it was an Act of God that a minor earthquake had broke the acre-sized baggie that sealed in the waste, and that they’d fixed the problem as soon as they knew, so what more could they do? They had complied with all state & federal regulations, the state gave them permission to build on that site. If we wanted, we could sue the state for allowing it, but if we pursued this with them, they would tie us up in litigation for years. They weren’t paying, it wasn’t their fault.
        If not theirs, then whose fault was it? I wanted to shout. My dog’s for running through the sludge and jumping up on my dad? My mom’s, for cleaning up the mess? She thought it was funny. Since I was fixing dinner, she cleaned it up. It was their first dinner in my new home. We were having steak with caramelized onions, green beans and baked potatoes with all the fixings and I had it nearly on the table, so Mom washed off her husband and Frazier, my little Jack Russell terrier for me.
        He started vomiting that night, and in the morning I took him to the vet. While I was there, Mom and Dad collapsed on their walk, unconscious. Their neighbor called me. It took them three weeks to die, Frazier just one day. But then, he didn’t have any insurance. They never did regain consciousness. I never got to say goodbye. My fiancée Tina was so great. She stayed with me at the hospital the entire time, and kept me fed. She liked to feed things, to see them grow. She was always feeding the birds, and kept a handful of seed with her always to feed the LBB’s, the little brown birds at the coffeehouse. I had some of her seed with me now.
        She’d just stopped to pick up some dinner for us at a take-out along Fourth Avenue before coming back to the hospital when a semi went by and spun up a piece of debris. It wasn’t a very big piece of metal, but it was sharp and spinning at 50 miles an hour. They said we could use a turtleneck to hide the damage if we wanted an open casket, but her family went with closed. They never did find her right sneaker. I guess it ran away. Ha, ha, or it went where she went. I had the other one with me.
        I felt for the seed in my pocket. I wanted to make sure it was there before I got off. My face felt plastic but I tried to smile.
        “The next stop,” I said. “I’m getting off at the next stop.”
        She smiled back, a little uncertainly. There wasn’t much there to get off for at the end of the bridge. “You must be transferring,” she said.
        I smiled and nodded, wondering if I looked like what I felt like, a bobble-headed doll. I pulled the cord, but nothing saved me from stopping. I got off with her cheery ‘good-bye’ following me and started walking back across the bridge. When I got to the middle I spread Tina’s seed, so critters that flew could live because of her and I clutched her left sneaker. With such a talisman, I could fly. It was my ticket between worlds, my guarantee of finding her.
        Where am I getting off? I clutched her shoe and looked down at the water 167 feet below and climbed the rail. I was getting off…right…here.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Carla Blaschka

 
 

Source / Challenge: 5/28/09 Edition of The Stranger
Cover Art: by Atticus Jackson
Story Theme: Feeding Birds
Prompts: Feeding The Birds:                                                                                         

  1. Location: Toxic waste site turned condo.
  2. Plot Point: Parents in coma and die, lost pet and other family member the same week
  3. Quote: “So, where are you getting off?” From “My Year of Hitler” by Erica C. Barnett.
  4. Rhetorical Element: “Sneaker.”
  5. Character Trait: Squares their shoulders when threatened.

 
 

 
 

Hidden In Plain View By Carla Blaschka

       ‘Killer’s Kid Finds Foot.’ I could just imagine the headlines if someone found out, it would be a great story, but I had a responsibility I couldn’t shirk. I felt bad for messing up his uniform, but words weren’t working, so I had to try a visual.
       It was a lovely, sunny day; the sky’s blue almost white this early in the morning and the few clouds went on their way, late for a date with yesterday’s storm. I was standing before the reception desk at the Port Angeles’ Police Station and the young man in a very crisp uniform stared at me. There wasn’t that much to stare at. I was about five nine, and a little jiggly here and there, but mainly in the right places. My hazel eyes stared back out of a face lightly freckled with the sun and I tried again.
       “I have a foot in my bag,” I said. I was getting a little bit annoyed. I had come to the seaside town to enjoy the beach and I didn’t want to spend all my time at the police department.
        “I have a foot in my bag,” I said for the third time. This time I put the emphases on foot and said it just a little louder in case it would help him to understand. At least this time I got a reaction. He glanced over the counter at my feet. So what could I do? I heaved a sigh and the bag to the counter. I opened it so he could see inside and said once more, “I’ve got a foot in my bag.”
       That was when he threw up all over his crisp black uniform. The officers got a little excited after that, but as I explained in the back room, I found the foot floating in the tide when I took my sunrise walk on the beach off the City Pier and since it clearly wasn’t the crime scene, there was no point in leaving it there for a child to find. Fortunately I had some doggie doo bags with me to pick up interesting finds on the beach. I guess I’d found one.
       They asked me for my name. I gave them the one I use and showed them my I.D., and my employee badge for the State Psychiatric Hospital where I worked on a ward as a nurse. I was nearing 30 and I had come to see how I wanted to die.
       I had an aggressive form of bone cancer. The doctors wanted to take my leg and give me chemo. It might work, it might not, and they have might have to chop off more. There was an experimental treatment trial open. My doctor had told me about it as we walked down the corridor for sugar and coffee in the cafe. It was his standard operating procedure for breaking the news. He walked with one hand grasping the other wrist behind his back. It helped him avoid putting his arms around his patients. He was a very sympathetic doctor and didn’t want to offend. He told me that the new treatment would save my leg, but my insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Like I’ve told my friend Donna many times, I feel like I’m a hostage to private insurance.
       They would kill me for free, though. I could stop treatment and choose death, they would pay for that prescription, but they wouldn’t pay for me to choose life, long and whole. That was the frosting on this particular pineapple upside-down cupcake. The cherry on top was that there was already a lot of death in my family; my father was killed when I was seven. Most said good riddance and I always wondered why my mom married him. He was already marked for death when she did. Maybe I was supposed to be his legacy. But how much is one life worth, anyway? How much should someone pay for it? Is it worth the cost to ransom me? I had to wonder how many others might live if I accepted death. I could go through all this and be gunned down anyway. It’s an uncertain world. My landlord at the Scarsdale Apartments was still picking out bullet fragments from our entrance after Jean’s argument with her lover Herman. I could get hurt by a patient, or if life wanted to try sick irony, I could even die at the hands of a serial killer. A lot of people would think there was cosmic justice in that. I wouldn’t, but then, that’s just me.
       I asked the police if they had any missing persons. They weren’t saying, but someone mentioned the possibility of a boating accident. I could only hope.
       “Where can we reach you if we have any questions?” They asked, finally.
       I told them how to find me and they let me go. On my way I prayed sincerely the press wouldn’t find the skeleton in my closet. I really can’t be finding severed body parts with a name like mine. If they discovered my birth certificate, they would say I was my father’s daughter and life as I knew it would be over. I try and keep it hidden, but it’s all over the web and in print, there was even a movie. You can’t hide from death when your father’s name is Theodore Robert Bundy.

 

Carla Blaschka’s greatest achievements are taking 24 years to complete her B.A. degree in Theology, a record anywhere, and an hour and a half to write a complete story out of random parts gleaned from her favorite newspaper, the Stranger. A mild-mannered office worker by trade, Carla stories first came to life on stage at Richard Hugo House’s open mic, and then graced the stage at Seattle’s Poetry Slam and The Faire Gallery & Cafe. Carla has always seen the world through her hands, discovering the story to be told only after it’s scribbled on paper. She lives in Seattle with the memories of her cats, and in anticipation of the one to come.

Copyright © 2009 by Carla Blaschka

 
 

Prompts:

in Plain View
Challenge from The Stranger July 9-15, 2009, Vol 18, No 43
  • Theme: Man with identity hidden, foot in bag. Cover art by Danny Snell
  • Location: Mental Hospital (pg 34)
  • Plot Point: Pulled bullet fragments out of a wall (pg 11)
  • Quote: “I feel like I’m a hostage to private insurance” by Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale. From “Is Maria Cantwell a Puppet for the Senate Finance Committee?” by Eli Sanders (pg 11)
  • Rhetorical Element: Cupcakes (pineapple upside-down) (ad, pg 10)
  • Character Trait: Walks with one hand clasping wrist behind back (Bauhaus People)
  •