Farewell Old Friend

 

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I recall my fridge in younger years,

Bounteous with food and beers

And deep within its frosty innards

Lay Popsicles and frozen dinners

Long before the doctor’s call

To lower my cholesterol

My Frigidaire had not forsaken

Ice-cream, pork-chops, ham and bacon.

Now all I eat I watch the fat in

And every morning take my Statin

And under doctor’s orders measure

Dias and Systolic pressure.

Now every drawer and shelf and bin

Is stocked with what my wife puts in

No frozen pies, no pork, no ale

Just soups and fruit and fish and kale

So here I stand. Door wide open

Staring in. Wishin’. Hopin’

To find some morsel that still will please

But no. Just peaches and cottage cheese.

 

©RDFindlay 2017

Some Things Never Change

Rat

Al crawled up the inside of the drain pipe, hurried along the gutter and made his way into the hole beneath a loose asphalt shingle above aluminum flashing.  The bar was busy tonight.  A Walkman blared tinny music from ear-buds suspended in the rafters and several rats gyrated in synchronized rhythm on the make-shift dance floor.  Al looked to the bar where Tony sat hunched over a thimble full of stale beer, slouching on his stool, his long leathery tail drooping to the floor.  He made his way over to the laminated popsicle-stick bar-top and took a thread spool beside his friend.

“How’s it wigglin?” he inquired with a good natured grin and gentle slap on Tony’s back.

“Eh…,” Tony responded without much enthusiasm.

“Oh, oh.” Al had seen Tony in this kind of mood before.  “What’s up buddy, Agnes again?” Al ordered a beer for himself.

His companion looked up.  Tony’s nose twitched sending his long whiskers into a frenzy. “I swear to God Al, I just can’t please her. If it’s not one thing it’s another.  She’s always busting my balls.”

“He heh…,” sniggered Al. “…and that ain’t easy. You got some pretty hefty balls.”

Tony chuckled half heartedly and repositioned himself on his spool.

The gerbil behind the counter handed Al his order.  After a long slow draught, Al wiped his paw across his muzzle and asked with some resignation, “Well, what is it this time?”

Tony paused, looked at Al, and turned to stare once more into his beer.  “I ate two of the kids.” he responded somewhat sheepishly.

Al’s beer spewed from his mouth, spraying the gerbil full in the face. “Sorry Mac.” Al apologized.  The bartender toweled his face dry, all the while complaining mightily under his breath.

“Geez Tone, not again!”

Tony groaned.  “I know, I know,” he complained.  “But, yah know…,” he struggled for the words.  “I’m out here every night, scurrying around in sewers for any moldy morsel I can find, scouring back alleys and dumpsters for a lousy piece of cheese, and then I come home to a rat-hole full of 75 kids and Agnes…”

“Seventy-three kids!” Al corrected him,

“Yah! Now!” Tony admitted reluctantly. “I swear, all I want at the end of a hard night is to sit back, put my paws up, have a God damn beer and relax for five minutes without six dozen rug-rats crawlin’ all over me.” Tony’s arms fell to his side as he threw back his head and exclaimed, “And now I find out, there’s another litter on the way!”  Tony slumped forward again and returned to whatever comfort he hoped to find at the bottom of his beer.

At that exact moment, Paul Anka’s “Having my Baby” crackled onto the over head speakers.

Ignoring the ironic musical interlude, Al placed a sympathetic paw on Tony’s shoulder. “C’mon Tone, cheer up.  Aggie will forgive you.  What’s two rats outta …” he did a silent calculation relative to current progeny and average litter size, “…eighty plus kids?”

Tony shrugged.

“Agnes loves you, no matter how many kids you eat.”

Tony was not to be consoled.

Al continued in an effort to comfort his friend. “You know Big Carl… you know him…. the big dock-rat that comes into O’Malley’s?”  Tony nodded weakly as Al continued.  “I heard he ate a whole litter of his kids after he got off the boat from his last cruise, and in a matter of weeks he and his old lady were knockin’ out a brand new brood.”  Al’s two sharp front teeth glistened in the neon bar-light as he attempted to smile away Tony’s sour mood.

Tony turned to Al, brightened by the thought of Big Carl’s more serious infraction.  “Yah know, Agnes and I’ve been together for over eight months, the best months of our lives.  We’ve been through a lot.”

Al took another drink, nodding in agreement. “That’s the ticket. You guys were made for each other”

“She’ll get over it.” Tony’s disposition was definitely improving. “I know she loves me.  And I love her too.”

“Sure you do.” offered Al.  “Let’s have another beer to celebrate your renewed dedication to each other.”

Tony thought about it for a moment,”Nah…The sun’s coming up and I’m going home to tell Agnes I love her.  She’ll take me back.”

Tony and Al shared a glance and Al winked. “She always does Tone.  She always does.”

Tony smiled his best rat smile.  “It’s been a long night.  I’m going home grab a bite then crawling into the mattress with Agnes.”

“A bite?” asked a genuinely concerned Al.

Tony tipped his cap and made his way to the hole in the shingle, “Don’t worry buddy, only cheese for me tonight… nothing but cheese.”

Identical Sins

Detective Abernathy perched on the edge of the leather ottoman, staring in amazement at the most perfectly identical twins he had ever seen in his life.  Attractive brunettes in their mid-forties, they sat close on an expensive sofa, holding hands, exchanging nervous glances and stealing occasional brief looks at the portly middle aged man, dead in the doorway.

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“Now… let me get this straight,” the detective questioned, “You’re saying you’re both Mrs. Roberts?”  His head inclined only the slightest degree, indicating the deceased.

“Well, technically…” began the sister on the left, “… Millie’s married to Carl, but we both, eh…that is, we… took turns… playing the part of wife!”

“But Margaret never had sex with Carl.”  The sister on the right added quickly, as if this detail somehow made the arrangement more appropriate. “Isn’t that right dear?”

“That’s right Millie.” replied the twin.  “Just as we agreed.”

The Detective eyed them curiously.  “And how exactly, did this…” he struggled for the precise word, “…relationship, work?

“Well…” Margaret continued, “…we’ve been swapping places for years, even as children.”  She straightened her blouse nervously. “Whenever Millie or I got tired, or bored with a situation, we would swap.  I’d take her place and she’d take mine.”  Millie sat silently but nodded in agreement. “It was always really quite easy, only mother could tell us apart.”

Abernathy stared at them in wonder.  Their similarities were amazing.  As he sat before the sisters, finding it impossible to distinguish any difference between them at all.

“So you would periodically swap places, taking turns at being the deceased’s spouse?  Living together for weeks or months, then just exchange your lives”

Millie spoke up. “Yes, it worked out wonderfully for us. Whenever we wanted a change, we’d just meet up and… exchange.”

“But surely, your… eh…husband…” Abernathy took quick turns looking from one sister to the other. “Surely, he noticed some incongruities in behavior.  I mean your physical similarities are incredible, but your daily interactions, your on-going conversations, your unique personalities, there must have been inconsistencies… your husband would notice?”

“Oh yes,” Margaret resumed, “…it was an endless source of frustration for Carl.  He never could figure it out.  I like roses while Millie prefers orchids.  Millie loves the Opera, while I detest it.  There were a thousand different little things that left him confused.” Margaret looked to her sister for support. “But I believe we treated him wonderfully, despite our little deception.”

The detective adjusted his tie slowly before proceeding. “And tonight?”

“It all happened so quickly.” Millie interjected.  “Carl returned home early.  We weren’t expecting him until tomorrow.  We didn’t even hear him come in.  We were just sitting here talking and then heard a gasp from the doorway, there.”  Millie pointed to the deceased and buried her face in her hands.

“He just grabbed his chest and fell over.” Margaret finished.

Abernathy struggled to comprehend the twin’s casual attitude towards the whole situation.  “I can see how it would be a tremendous shock for a man to discover that his wife was literally two different people.  He gathered his composure, trying to recover his professional disposition.  “Relationships are difficult under normal circumstances, but surely you can understand how seeing you both together would be a shock!”  The sisters tightened their grip on each other.

Abernathy continued.  “Of course I’m no doctor or psychiatrist, but it’s not hard for me to see how your husband may have had a physical or psychological reaction to this…this… discovery!  It’s enough to drive a person insane.”

“Yes, we know.” cried Millie.  “That’s what happened to poor Randolph.”

“Randolph!  You mean you’ve carried out this deception on another man?” Abernathy was incredulous.

“Well four to be precise!” exclaimed Margaret. “Randolph in the State Sanatorium.  Malcolm – suicide.  And Vernon ran off with a Hawaiian girl.”

“Polynesian!” Millie corrected.

Abernathy sat stunned, taking it all in.  His cell phone vibrated in his pocket.

“Excuse me.” he apologized, glancing at his phone.  “It’s downtown.  I won’t be a moment.”

“How’s it going out there?” questioned the Police Chief on the other end of the call.

Abernathy walked to the far end of the room.  “I’m not sure if there’s been a crime.  But I have a lot of questions about what’s going on at my house.”