Carla Blaschka… Washed Away

 
 

Washed Away

We buried Mom. Dead. Finally. Pancreatic cancer is a fast, vicious way to go. It is fast, cancer-wise, but not fast enough. For the last two months Mama could barely hear me. She always had that faraway glazed look as she tried to deal with the pain, every moment, every day.

I went home and washed my car. Papa used to joke about it.

“How is it that scrubbing cars can make a child of mine look so ecstatic? He used to say to Mom and all his friends. It was the best washed car in town, then it would be. If I stop, I’m back at the same old monster movie. I get in free.

I remembered the weekend it started. Mom had found Papa’s journal. The first he knew about it was when it hit him on the head and she howled, “How could you?”

She clipped him on the ear to make sure he was listening and then sent our scrabble board scrittering across the floor. She pointed to the door and I ran, but not to far.

“How could you write with…venom of one who died in such pain?” she cried. The only person I knew who had died was my Uncle Joe. Dead before I was born, the story I heard was that he had fallen on a piece of rebar at a construction site. It pierced his stomach and he died a couple of weeks later after infection set in. They say my grandparents really never got over it.

“Why shouldn’t I?” roared Papa, right back.

“Why shouldn’t I write bad things about that bastard. I’ve been a good father to yours, haven’t I?”

She slapped him. I heard it. I was still trying to understand – did Mom have another kid I didn’t know about? My world was starting to rock.

“I loved him, you have no right. I thought you were a good man,” she added bitterly.

What a weekend it was, with the confusion and pain between Mama & Papa virtually tangible. If it had had a physical substance their antipathy would have filled our house with mud.

Things cooled down but they were never the same after that and ever since…our family had the cleanest cars in town.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Carla Blaschka

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Carla Blaschka… Robbing Love

 
 
 

Robbing Love

 
       “He’s a racist.”
       “No, he’s not.”
       “Yes, he is. You told me he has White Pride tattooed on his chest. His very nickname means “Hi, I’m a racist.”
       “Look, he no longer goes by Bubba. His name meant White Obscurity. His name meant he who lived in the hills back of Northern-White-Water where I’m gonna go hiking. Now his name is Daniel, which means my friend.”
      Justin laughed and wrapped his arms around her neck, mashing her face against his chest. “Alright, but you need to be careful. I don’t want you to come back and vote Republican.”
      She gave him a nip and pushed away. “God forbid.”
      He gave her an affectionate slap on her ass as they parted.
      Before she left she called the newspaper office and got the weekend service. It gave her the info she hoped for. Throughout that day, Standard Island kept traveling between Kahoolawe and Maui, but that night it would be at anchor. Her rubber dinghy knocked against the island’s bumper and she was helped on board by security. Tonight it was Robbie. She said Hi! and asked to see her mother.
      She hadn’t visited in quite a while. Her mother’s short brown hair had more streaks of gray than Val remembered, but otherwise she looked the same. Her mother offered her some peach ginger hot chocolate.
      She wrapped her fingers around the cup and inhaled the steam. “How are you?” she asked after the initial pause to catch up and test the emotional waters.
       “I’m fine. John’s fine. We’re doing well,” her mother said. “Our harvests are doing well.”
      Val nodded in acknowledgement of the message that her mother was happy with her new friend.
       “How about you? Still seeing Bubba?”
       “Daniel, Mom, his name is Daniel, and he is working as a mechanic.”
       “Of course,” her mother murmured.
      Val frowned at her.
       “We’re O.K., we see each other a lot but, I don’t know, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
      She got an eyebrow raise.
       “I’m pregnant. Twins.”
       “Daniel’s?”
       “No.”
      Mom fired both eyebrows at her. “Who then?”
       “I don’t know.” She paused to get her voice under control.
      Her mother waited.
       “I went to a bar, woke up in the back seat of my car. I knew something had happened, but I didn’t…”, another pause. “I just let it go. I wasn’t hurt. It seems foolish now but I didn’t know what happened, so I didn’t say anything and now, well, here I am.”
       “Are you going to…?”
       “No, but I don’t know…I just wanted to…”
       “See how badly I wanted to be a grandmother?”
      She nodded.
      Her mother came over to sit beside her and put her arms around her. “I’m so sorry this happened. It’s going to be all right, we’ll see to that.” Her voice was low, the kind you use to soothe a baby. They rested like that for a bit.
       “Any child…” her mom said then corrected herself, “any children of yours are welcome in my life, in our life. But I think not knowing who the father is is going to eat at you, and probably the kids too. We’ll figure out a plan, do you mind if I tell the people on the island?”
      Val shook her head. Val considered them all her family.
       “One thing,” her mom went on, “do you agree the person did a bad thing and shouldn’t do it again?”
      Val nodded.
       “Then I think we need to file a report. When the babies are born, maybe we can get them to run a DNA check against their database. Honey,” and here her mother went all delicate, “how sure are you that you are pregnant because of this? Could it be someone else…?”
      Val shook her head again. “I was at that bar because Bubba…Daniel and I had broken up a month before and I wanted to get out of the house.”
       “O.K., I see. Well, finding out wouldn’t hurt, no matter what happens after that.”
      Two beautiful babies were born, a boy and a girl. Daniel stepped up and asked Val to marry him. Tests were done. Val wished she hadn’t. She didn’t want to know this, ever, but she went to the jail to confront Justin, her friend.
       “Why?”
      His face turned into a mask of frustration and hate. “You were willing to fuck that racist but not me? What the hell is wrong with you?”
      Tears streaked Val’s face as she leaned forward and whispered, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
 

Copyright © 2017 by Carla Blaschka

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Carla Blaschka… Time for the Trump Talk

 
 
 

Time for the Trump Talk

 
      It was officially Rainier Beer’s R Day and they were within sight of the village before the thought of Pelham Ravenshaw occurred to shatter my peace of mind, again.
      I had talked the pub’s owner into stocking some of this exotic American beer, so beloved of Seattleites. I promised I’d buy everyone a round in return to make it profitable.
      We had gotten an early start; we wanted good seats to watch the soccer game later and the conversation had gotten around to movies we had seen.
      Eli, 3:22 p.m. “I am completely lost. Why are we talking about banning movies?”
      Me, 3:23 p.m. “To avoid molestation.”
      3:24 p.m. Evelyn choked on her tea and hastily set the cup down. Not a big beer drinker, Evelyn, but a huge soccer fan. “What?”
      Me. 3:25 p.m. “You heard me. I was groped at a movie once when I was 13 and I don’t want it to happen to Angie. She’s going out with the horny Pelham and I don’t know if I should have the Trump Talk now or later.”
      Evelyn, 3:27 p.m. “How do you know he’s horny?”
      Me, 3:28 p.m. “He’s 16,” I said.
      Both Eli and Evelyn gave me a ‘Oh, of course’ look – a raised brow and a tilt sideways tilt of the head in agreement.
      “Dealing with that crap is something all girls have to learn.” Eli said soberly.
      I nodded but held my glass with fingers locked tight. I didn’t want Angie to have to learn it but I had a hard secret myself. As much as I didn’t want a stranger to grope my daughter against her will. That was exactly the kind of behavior I had given my boyfriend permission to do. I liked him grabbing my tits, making them his. He had a pass at all hours to do so. It excited me, not knowing when it was coming and he seemed to like it. It was a double standard, I knew. No wonder we still struggled with it. The lines between for ‘real’ and for ‘play’ can get very blurred, easily confused. Do I give up my sexual fantasies or trust my guy can figure out the difference?
      3:40 p.m. Angie came in. It was time.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Carla Blaschka

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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)
  •