Perspectives Magazine Where inanimate objects and animals have their say | April 2017
See the world t h ro u g h t h e ey e s o f *Mount Rushmore* *Cell Phones* *Ravens* and more
Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 1
About the Magazine
ISSN: 1920-4205 Frequency: Biyearly Founding Editor and Designer: Monique Berry
Contact Info : http://1perspectives.blogspot.ca : email@example.com
The Founder’s Perspective
Inspirations .................................................................... 3 Mount Rushmore........................................................... 4 No Rush for More by Patricia Munro Barmouth Bridge........................................................... 5 Pont Aberwaw by Aziz Dixon Badger ............................................................................ 6 My Day as an African Honey Badger by Debbie Fogle Cell Phone ...................................................................... 8 Pride Comes Before a Fall by Jude Parrett Smoke Alarm ................................................................ 9 Unspent Energy by Darrell Petska Dog | Fish ..................................................................... 10
To Mandy | To Davin by James Croal Jackson Hippopotamus ............................................................. 11 Hippopotamus by Michael Estabrook Water Bottle................................................................. 12 A Serious Job by Melanie Fellman
Flower Pot .................................................................... 13 Bounty in Cent by Zuha Belgaumi Ravens ......................................................................... 14 Under A Darkening Sky by Terry Sanville Doves ........................................................................... 17
The Peach Tree by Ruth Deming Hair Clip; Scorpion ..................................................... 18
The magazine is back and I am thrilled! It brings so much joy when I read the creative talent sent to my inbox. Perspectives was my first publication (2007). The initial submission point of view was a soul. I realize it’s not an inanimate object but I didn’t think of that. It was too intriguing to pass by. I had to dismiss animal-related submissions because the guidelines stated it was for inanimate objects only. This year I changed the guidelines to include animals. But I’m expanding it again! Now, abstract thoughts and objects like colors and dreams will be allowed. A word about the “Inspirations” section. I always wonder what motivates the writer. Why they chose the object or animal. I was curious and thought readers may be asking that question, too. So, I published the answers. I think you’ll be be—uh—inspired! Ideas come from the oddest places. As always, I extend a hearty thanks to my contributors and readers. The writers’ unique perspectives make the content an interesting read. The readers support the magazine and provide valued feedback. Keep priming the imagination.
Clip & Slide by Linda Stone Cell Phone ................................................................... 19 Heartfelt Outpouring by Vidya Vasudevan Car................................................................................ 20 Ruby by Terry Sanville Postcard ...................................................................... 25 Created for Smiles by Monique Berry
Monique Berry Founder
Object Trivia .............................................................. 19
Photo Credits Front cover courtesy of Victoria Short|adobe.stock.com. The back cover (See individual pages for other credits.
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Special Notice All rights revert to individual authors. NO PHOTOCOPIES ALLOWED
The writers explain the inspirations behind their object-animal related submissions.
To Mandy, To Davin (dog, fish): I write love-letter poems as Christmas gifts for my roommates and friends from the perspective of their pets. Bounty in Cent (flower pot): I liked the theme. I always think how a lifeless object might feel. Will my mobile get hurt if it is dropped to the ground? Is my pencil tired of writing? Does the shoe bite because it doesn't like me? This is the first time I have written about the feelings of inanimate objects. I imagine things and write about it. I have two small pots with plants at my home. It might sound crazy, but I sometimes say good morning and good night to it. Pride Comes Before a Fall (cell phone): I was prompted to write the piece after I saw you claling for submissions for Perspectives and was a little nervous as I hadn’t done anything like this before. The story came about after I had experienced the situation as mentioned, and funnily enough it happened again just after I had sent you the piece—karma maybe. Under the Darkening Sky (raven): Every year my wife and I visit Santa Catalina Island, 26 miles off the Southern California coast. We watch the ravens dance and play in the sky above Avalon, hear them speak to each other – complaining, boasting, calling, courting, and warning. Next to us humans, they are the most sentient animals on the Island. After years of watching them, I wondered how they see us. Do they understand our lives, make fun of our foibles, share our tragedies, or feel our personal traumas? My story imagines that they do. I am pleased to find a home for it, a challenge for works with unusual points of view. The Peach Tree (doves): My boyfriend and I purchased a peach tree. It grew very well but the squirrels always ate the peaches. I kept urging Scott to put chicken wire around the entire tree. He was too late and a dove built a nest there. Since I'm always looking for poem ideas, I wrote the poem from the point of view of the female dove, with help from the Internet. Your magazines, Monique, have encouraged me to write from the point of view of animals or inanimate objects. Clip & Slide (bobby pin): The facilitator of my creative writing group, brought in pages from your mag that she had found and downloaded from the NZ blogspot. When I read your call for submissions, I knew instantly I would write about the metal hair clips, or bobby pins I used to wear as a small child. It just popped into my head. So, I wrote the piece, there and then in a notebook, in ten minutes, and then a few days later, revisited it, typed it up and submitted it. The Scorpion (scorpion): I wrote The Scorpion after being at my creative writing group. Our convenor is very inventive in the way she encourages us to write, and picked the words Scorpion, travel, cliff and artist, at random from a book. We could use any or all of them in a written piece. Writing from the Scorpion's perspective was a challenge, as we know they do not have the best of reputations. Getting out of my comfort zone meant I had to write a sinister piece which would leave the reader with a shudder. I hope it worked. More inside Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 3
No Rush For More
By Patricia Munro
here are four of us, actually. I’d like to say there was just me, but the company’s not bad on cold winter nights when the marvelling crowd has dispersed and there’s only the endless tree covered plains and South Dakota night sky to look at. Teddy, Tom, Abe and me, George. Abe’s the one with the cheekbones. When Gutszon Borglum was sculpturing Abe he got the aloof look just right. I can tell he’s pleased about that. Gutz, as we call him, took his time, a little explosive here, deeply placed chisel there. Abe is probably the most handsome of us. And the most theatrical! Abe no-slaves. Gutz has captured the self-conscious smirk floating above the curly goatee. The military and charismatic Teddy, once a cowboy in Dakota, is the proud environmentalist. Teddy is always on the lookout for big game and continually scans the forest for movement of moose or buffalo. At the same time he takes in the 200 million acres of national park and forest with pleasure. This land is all due to his foresight. But Tom’s the one with the clear gaze. All of our eyes are about, on average, eleven feet apart but Tom’s frank come-to-bed look gets the ladies every time. We watch their field glasses swing back to Tom, willing him to glance their way, his air of indifference the searched for aphrodisiac.
Why not, reasons Tom, always pondering on a content for a 28th Amendment. And then there’s me, George. Apart from being the Father of the Country, my only distinctive aspects are my sideburns and a nice pair of lapels. Expression inscrutable. I cannot tell a lie, I’d been arguing with Gutz how we could have all benefited from a bit of Botox. Gutz demurred, citing the expense of course, but had no argument to counter the fact that now we were eternally atop this goddamn mountain shouldn’t we at least have a bit of lip and brow filler? Worse is to come though. The State has decreed there is room for one more. And it’s true. There exists a slight space between Abe and Teddy. Rumour says the new man may be The Donald. The stubby pointing fingers will surely take up binocular room, his hair will fill the skyline, his ego explode through the granite. We bicker over where he will be placed. Now it seems, though, the sweet cherries are falling from my tree. Gutz has been of late acting strangely self absorbed. Going about his business with a slight smile. We wait. Crowds gather daily, disperse nightly—it’s said we attract several million folk a year. Tonight though, there is a difference, an expectation of some turning point. Gutz shouts from down the mountain for us to close together. There will now be five of us. We shuffle and lean forward, peering into the darkness and catch the surprising and unmistakable scent of musk. The stocky figure of Gutz heaves towards us, and we watch him turn to check on the progress of the wavy outline behind him – that familiar, waisted shape of a Coke bottle. It’s Kim Kardashian.
I visited Mt Rushmore in South Dakota in 2013 and found it awe inspiring that a sculptor could achieve that on a mountain. I didn't think about it again though until I saw the call for written submissions for an inanimate object for your magazine. I thought of things I could write about and had settled on a hearing aid when suddenly, in a dentist's waiting room I looked up to see a photo of Mt Rushmore on the wall. It seemed like the ultimate inanimate object to bring to life. I researched each president's characteristics and a couple of hours later had it written, thoroughly enjoying the exercise.
Patricia Munro lives in Waikanae, on New Zealand's Kapiti Coast. She is a qualified journalist but is now retired and enjoys writing for fun, reading, cycling, music and gardening. Patricia lives beside the Waikanae river and walks there daily with her husband and their dog, Bella. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 4
Pont Abermaw Barmouth Bridge
By Aziz Dixon You might think I’m stuck in the mud, but I used to swing when I was young. The Queen herself came across me when I was 100, and people used to pay to walk my planks for the view. For the sake of the train I take the strain, though the worms eat holes in my hundred-odd feet, and my legs are awash twice a day. I have a one-track mind as I watch the river and sand play shapes, flirt with the sea, but the love of my life always out of reach is the Mountain, and I gaze all alone when the moon shines on the Giant’s Seat.
In part this poem came to me in a poetry workshop with a similar task, then it developed in response to the call for submissions, over a few weeks. The bridge is a remarkable structure in an area of outstanding beauty that has particular associations for me since my childhood.
c Harvey Hudson—adobe.stock.com
Aziz Dixon draws on local Pennine and Welsh landscapes and life experiences. He has been published in ‘Pennine Ink’ and online with Irwell Inkwell and Algebra of Owls. Aziz launched his latest collection, Poet Emerging, with a reading at the Burnley Literary Festival 2016 and on Radio Lancashire, England. He has poems forthcoming in Grapevine (Lampeter) and Moon Magazine.org. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 5
© ompuinfoto - stock.adobe.com
My Day as an African Honey Badger By Debbie Fogle
wake and shake the dirt off of my white fur back. My black furry belly drags along the dry hot sand and then I stretch my long stock body. The deep hunger within my empty stomach informs me there is one thing to do—that is to hunt. I’m constantly scouring the Kalahari Desert for food. My nose twitches as I immediately smell the air for scents and catch the odor of a rat. I follow it and corner the rat in a hole. Mmm, delicious! Afterwards, I begin looking for the next meal. To my delight, the scent of another animal
enters my nose—a king cobra. The odor leads me to a high tree. The snake has taken refuge in the branches. But they won’t stop me. I climb to the top. It’s a struggle with the king cobra; the temperamental serpent drops down to the ground. I quickly lower my body down to the ground and confront it. Its quick strikes are no use on my loose skin. I grab its head and bite down waiting for the bloody liquid to nourish me. I sniff the ground to find the precise area of my next meal which will consist of dung beetle larvae. My long claws Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 6
dig up the dug beetle nest. Each larvae is devoured until all are eaten. As I leave the dung beetle nest, I mark it. I smell, chase and eat another rat. I don’t need too much water as I get a lot of my fluid intake from the blood of my kills. But once in a while I will eat some fruit for the fluids. A tortoise was sunning near a tree when I jumped on him and broke the shell with my teeth. This allowed me to eat all of the flesh of the tortoise and not waste any meat. As I decide to take a nap, I get the scent of another
animal. I follow the scent and find yet another snake. This one is a puff adder and it has killed a rat for himself. I pull the rat out of the mouth of the adder and eat the rat with voracious hunger. The adder does realize I have taken his meal and comes at me. I am not afraid, and would like to have the adder as a meal too. The adder strikes me once on my back and the pain is there, but I need to eat first. I grab the adders head in my jaws and clamp down with all my might. It’s dead. But I feel the venom slowly going through my body. I slowly drop to the ground as darkness takes over. I feel tingling in my muscles as my eyes open and I regain movement in my limbs. I see the dead snake next to me and I begin my delayed dinner with a voracious appetite. The snake is over five feet long and I take about fifteen minutes to eat the reptile’s entire body. I then lay on the sand to get away from the hot afternoon sun. I kick sand onto my white fur back and roll my black underbelly onto the sand. I wake in the late afternoon with hunger again. I follow the
scent of some jackals that lead me to numerous rat holes. I dig at each hole to retrieve the rodent within. Some of the rodents escape and the jackals are able to eat my hard earned meal. After a while though I find a nest full of rats and devour each one right in front of the jackals. They know not to disturb me as I eat my wellearned meals. I begin to dig again, but something in the air stirs my senses. I follow the strange scent and leave the rats to the jackals. The new scent is a fresh and strong kill. I find the cause of my over load of hunger. There’s an antelope carcass in a tree. Apparently, a leopard thought by putting this antelope in a tree, the antelope carcass would safe from others. Not me! I will get that leopard. Even if it kills me to do so. I haven’t had much luck getting to the tender flesh of the antelope carcass. I’ve been able to get only a few tendons from the back legs. I can’t get my body high enough to get the juicy meaty flesh. The leopard has woke from his nap and spotted me in the
My son and I had a conversation about the honey badger, and two weeks later my creative writing instructor asked for a perspective story. I chose the honey badger.
tree. I will fight this cat for as long as I can, to get some of that succulent antelope flesh. The leopard is unable to get a grip on my loose, rubbery skin with his deadly jaws. My body is so limber, I can spin around and bite that leopard on the nose to free myself. I defend myself with my teeth and claws. The leopard leaves me and goes high up into the tree to eat more of the antelope. I patiently wait for scrapes of the antelope to drop down to the ground. The jackals wait in the tall grass for my scraps. I leave no scraps. I’ve finished with my antelope scraps. I return to the rat holes and dig out six more rats for myself. I find three more cobras and eat them as their bodies wriggle in the blood stained sand. I decide to call it a day. The sun is setting and I have a full day of hunting tomorrow. I dig a den by scratching the dirt out of an old rat hole. This is my home now. I need to sleep and think of my meals tomorrow. This is a great day to be an African Honey Badger.
Debbie Fogle lives in Oklahoma where she enjoys life to the fullest. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Oklahoma Chapter (OKRWA). She has her first indie novel, Happiness is Hard to Find, available on iUniverse.com and several short stories in collection publications. She shares her adventures into her story writing.
Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 7
© poravute - stock.adobe.com
Pride Comes Before a Fall By Jude Parrett
he cannot live without me you know. With my sleek lines, compact size and portability I’ve become indispensable to her everyday life. Quite unlike the first of my predecessors with their ugly brick-like appearance and limited functionality, I epitomise the latest advances in technology and entertainment. My duties cover more than just take the phone calls that my early brothers did and for that my owner is very grateful. I am her constant companion, her trusted confidante, organiser of her personal calendar and possibly most important of all, I provide all the entertainment she could possibly need. I mean to say, where else can she watch movies, listen to music, play games, check the Internet, Facebook and all the other apps she likes to use as well as texting her friends in the
one place. Perhaps I sound a little arrogant but for a relatively small device I think I pack a powerful punch. No wonder my manufacturers have described me as being smart. There is nothing else I can think of that brings my owner such satisfaction other than having me by her side. However a situation arose recently that left me feeling less than clever. I fell behind the couch in the living room. Now, that might not seem like a big deal but I suddenly realised that for all my capabilities there was nothing I could do to make myself heard. Talk about feeling helpless! There was great consternation when my owner came into the room and discovered me missing. She rushed around like a headless chicken trying to remember where she’d last seen me. I desperately wanted to yell out to let her know that I wasn’t far away but I remained mute not able to find my voice. Suddenly someone had a great idea. “Why don’t we use the landline to call and if the mobile is nearby we should hear it ringing.” Now I’d always been a bit disparaging about the landline thinking its technology was outdated and not worthy of further thought, however now I felt extremely grateful for its comforting presence and reliable voice calling out to me. I answered immediately and was quickly reunited with my owner who was beside herself with relief at having me back. Never again will I take my trusty old friend the landline for granted or feel that I am in any way superior as I now realise that there is a place in the world for both of us.
I was prompted to write the piece after I saw you calling for submissions for Perspectives and was a little nervous as I hadn’t done anything like this before. The story came about after I had experienced the situation as mentioned, and funnily enough it happened again just after I had sent you the piece—karma maybe.
Jude Parrett lives in Waikanae New Zealand and is a member of the local writers' group. This is the first time she has had a piece published which is very exciting and will inspire her to continue reaching for higher things in the writing world. She also enjoys reading, playing the flute, Pilates and walking by the beach among other interests. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 8
SMOKE ALARM BATTERY
c Andrey Popovâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;adobe.stock.com
Unspent Energy By Darrell Petska The date they'll replace me is here on the flange: tomorrow. All year I've kept Senior Haven safe, not a peep of complaint. The building stands, yet for all my efforts, I'll be recyclable waste. I feel great! I might have months left to go. Maybe Gary in Maintenance will rescue me, put me to use in a child's toy, a clock or remote. Look, I get it: places like this need safety a top priority, but watching these seniors all year proves old is not necessarily spent: yoga, poetry, Parcheesi, chess, classes on brewing dandelion beerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the hair may be gray but the air is high energy.
A few days before I wrote the poem, I replaced one of our smoke alarm's batteries per the manufacturer's recommended schedule--though the battery still showed some life. I am also working on a short story about active seniors in a nursing home setting (years ago I evaluated nursing home care from a social work perspective). With your call for submissions in mind, I began to see connections. From that point, the poem moved quickly along.
It's been a privilege to lend them my volts. I shall go quietly, unless tonight I'm provoked. Darrell Petska's writing has appeared in Verse-Virtual, Right Hand Pointing, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Plainsongs, Star 82 Review and numerous other publications. New work will appear shortly in Chiron Review, Bird's Thumb and elsewhere. Communications editor for many years with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Darrell left academia to be the arbiter of his own words. He lives in Middleton, Wisconsin. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 9
DOG | FISH
To Mandy (From Cece) By James Croal Jackson When in view I know I launch like a rocket toward you but you are my favorite scent in the universe I watch stars when sprinting through open fields my neck beaming orange from my electric collar
you have given me many such gifts but nothing can replicate your hand on my fur you know I don’t need to shake my butt when I walk I’m only playing but it is funny when you mimic my moves & we have so many years & so few and every day is so new I can’t bear to learn the name of another dog or tree because everything is beautiful & holy & profound in the way you let me roam free the times I only need to go outside to pee & look, everything’s so gorgeous I can’t bear to sit still & yet will return to you when you call my name
To Davin (From Laurence) By James Croal Jackson
c Sergey Ryzhov—stock.adobe.com
To leave water would mean I suffocate so I wait for orange pellets to fall almost like rain you and I are alone most of the time pooled in a little world aimless from place to place in a bowl peering through glass to see what moves around us swimming feels like drowning when you come to me and I press my face to glass trying hard to break it to come meet you when I flap my fins it means I am starving not for food but to end these lonely days punctuated by when you surface through the waters of that more colorful other universe like magic my sky becomes kaleidoscopic orange and I nearly believe I belong
James Croal Jackson's poems have appeared in magazines including The Bitter Oleander, Rust + Moth, and Columbia College Literary Review. His first chapbook is forthcoming from Writing Knights Press. He lives in Columbus, Ohio. Visit him at jimjakk.com. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 10
Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius
By Michael Estabrook The Beach Master that’s who I am the master of the beach all-powerful ruler lord of my domain! Today a young upstart decided he wanted what I already have and charged me snorting and swaying heftily from side to side but honestly one mighty shove and he was all done. He had forgotten perhaps that I have battled and eaten my way to this esteemed position weighing in at an admiral 6,000 pounds (as much as a Ford F-250 Super Duty Truck) the most feared and ferocious beast on the African continent including lions and leopards rhinos and elephants and all for what you ask?
I watched a documentary on TV I think entitled BeachMaster about the life of an alpha hippo and it was so startling and impressive I had to try and pull something together in a poem. It was right around the time of your call for submissions so I sent it off to you. It seemed to fit well with what you were looking for.
To command over and copulate constantly with a pod of gigantic lumbering blubbery females numbering as many as 100 exhausting work yes I admit it but a boy’s got to do what a boy’s got to do so the more the merrier I say you can never have enough females I say bring ‘em on I can handle anything I say but please please I’m begging you don’t let the damn crocs get me when I am old and outdone beaten bested crushed lame and bleeding by the next Beach Master a cocky ferocious whippersnapper river horse like I once was.
Michael Estabrook is retired. No more useless meetings under florescent lights in stuffy windowless rooms, able instead to focus on making better poems when he’s not, of course, endeavoring to satisfy his wife’s legendary Honey-Do List. His latest collection of poems is Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2014). Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 11
A Serious Job By Melanie Fellman Up, up, up I am tipped. She gulps continuously only stopping with the last drop. Slightly dizzy from being drained in a hurried manner, yet, I do not mind. It is my pleasure to serve. Constantly her companion, this job satisfies an important need. When a tickle forms in the throat, she reaches for me. On warm sunny days, my contents provide relief. As we travel together down the hall, my metal bangs against her backpack, proclaiming to all this lady will stay hydrated. Keeping water cool is a task of utmost importance. A task I faithfully perform. For all the joy my ability brings one regret ever lingers. This regret is the unfortunate ability of holding a limited amount of contents. This limitation often finds the last drop being unsatisfactory. This job, my job, is one of great importance and taken quite seriously. Failure results in discomfort to her for whom I exist.
Melanie Fellman is a nurse with a passion for words. She sees the twists and turns of everyday life as an adventure. Join her at Melanie Fellman Writes for encouragement and tips on navigating and enjoying your own adventure. Nonfiction may be her passion; however, short stories are quickly gaining her affection. Read her work on Amazon, or, follow along on Instagram.
Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 12
Bounty In Cent By Zuha Belgaumi
was at the farthest corner of the large living room and my friends adorned other corners. Every night we waved at each other, and were part of each other’s stories, be it sour, bitter, or happy. The fragrance of the blossomed lilies filled our home. As the night grew deeper, I spoke to Paisley, the lily plant potted in me. But tonight was different; Paisley sensed a violent commotion at home. Next moment, I saw a man running towards us. Oh, what is this? Suddenly his careless stained hands ran through my body, ploughing me roughly. A feeling of uneasiness raced through me. Paisley screamed in pain as her roots cut. I felt a huge foreign object pushed into my body. He quickly patted the surface of my body, levelling it; and sneaked out from the back door. Who is this? What is happening? Until I knew it, it happened. The dawn approached. No one bothered to feed Paisley. The clock raced. It was a hot summer afternoon, and mercury rose to forty-two degree Celsius. If I had legs, I could have fetched some water for Paisley.
One after another our neighbors Gupta uncle, Sharma uncle, Mehra uncle started thronging my home. Hmmm I remember seeing this handsome young guy. Yes, he is the one who had planted a kiss on his wife's cheek right beneath my nose. Few new faces too showed up. The look on their faces was everything but glee. Why are people gathering? Mrs. Khurana, the owner of this palatial bungalow was not to be seen. There are people in uniform too, the cops. But what are they doing in my home? They entered every room and returned empty handed. Is Mrs. Khurana fine? I am worried for her. Moreover, Paisley struggles and I know the reason. But what is this heavy object in me, I wonder? It is two days, and no one has bothered to water Paisley. Her roots were shrinking in pain. The stalk and leaves were crying in vain. Few twigs were not anymore in pink of their health. Looking at Paisley's frowned face I said, “You are the most beautiful plant. You fill this home with fragrance. Mrs. Khurana loves you a lot." The cops were still around; searching something. I scream, “There is something in here. My chest is getting heavier. Now it has started stinking." But my voice could not reach them. Finally, I see Mrs. Khurana, limping. Oh, what has happened to her? She walked towards the refrigerator. Does she need chilled water when she is limping too? She opened the freezer, and took out a bag. I could see a sense of relief on her face. I cried out loud, ”Mrs. Khurana, please look at Paisley," but she hurried out. "Ah, it's paining again," Paisley cried out. I can identify the touch. The same one that had stabbed me two days back. Why are these dirty fingers back in me? "Look at Paisley's health, please water it," I implored. But he was only worried about the stinking object beneath my chest. "Shit," he said dropping the bag to the floor. "Why will someone keep a bag full of rotten apples and bananas in the safe locker?” I was all ears. “Was taking this big risk and hitting the lady for bounty in cents, worth?” He shook his head in despair. Turning his back towards me, he took the same route that he had used to enter. Mrs. Khurana returned empty handed and found soil from my chest on the floor. Then her attention moved to Paisley. She ran indoors and was back with a jug full of water. She looked at the floor and with a smile she said, "Oooooo These are here? Thank God, I had exchanged the bags and I'm glad about it." I said to Paisley, "I guess there was a robbery at home. The robber mistook this bag for bounty, but what he got in turn was only rotten cents.” Paisley sighed and smiled.
Zuha is a software professional from Bellary -Karnataka - India. Her hobby is writing. She likes to interpret the logos and the cover page of the novels. Zuha’s favourite author is Erle Stanley Gardner. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 13
Under A Darkening Sky by Terry Sanville
feather from my right wing flutters downward into the canyon. My mate circles above me. She dives toward the black quill and snatches it in her beak before it can drop into the oaks and sycamores that crowd the creek. Climbing, she flies past me, rolling in the soft afternoon air, croaking with delight, like she did as a young raven before we paired. She’s still playful after more than a decade of summers, though her feathers are as ragged as mine. Our nest is old and used by many others before us. It sits in the crotch of a huge eucalyptus on a hillside overlooking the harbor. Directly below rests an orange-tiled estate where we hunt for bugs under its eaves, drink from the fountain, and bask in the afternoon sun on its roof. As young birds we flew the island’s entire length to play with our brethren who nest in the cliffs near the two harbors. But now, we sit on the estate’s warm tiles and call to those sailing past. They beckon for us to follow, and when the wind is right, to fly north across the channel to the mainland. But we’ve flown enough, have claimed our territory, and know how to enjoy our days. The same can’t always be said for the humans who live at the estate.
hen we first occupied our nest only the man lived in the main house. He stood twice as tall as a fence post with brown hair on top of his pale body. One afternoon he staggered into the flat yard next to the house and slumped into a chair. In one claw, he clutched a bottle half-filled with amber liquid and in the other a glass. His head dripped blood. A woman wearing a dove gray uniform hurried after him. He sat trembling while she cut off his hair and stopped the bleeding. He touched her brown face with his mouth and she pushed him away, but not too hard. They moved inside. We swooped down, snatched up the hair from where it had fallen onto the patio stones, and used it to line the bottom of our nest. It felt soft, perfect for cradling eggs. It took several moon cycles for the man’s hair to grow back, streaked with silver and thinner than before. He spent long days in the yard, staring into the small window of some kind of machine and picking with his claws at its buttoned board with odd markings on it. One day when he’d gone inside, I flew down and pecked at the board. It made weird beeping sounds and the scene in the window changed from a view of our island to strange markings – like those on the sheets of paper that sail through the town when the east wind blows hard. I dipped my beak into his glass of amber liquid. It tasted awful and I choked. The man must have heard the commotion. He ran into the yard and shooed me away. I ruffled my feathers. My mate and I perched on the rim of our (Continued on page 5)
Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 14
nest and complained loudly, our voices echoing down the canyon. I thought he would throw something at us. But instead, he just stared. Disappearing inside the house, he returned with a flat rock covered with pieces of something. He laid it on top of the stone wall that surrounded the estate then retreated to his seat. “What do you think?” my mate asked. “Is it safe?” “Stay here and keep watch,” I told her. “If he makes a move toward me, swoop down and give him a good peck. If he stays put, come join me.” I flew from our tree and landed on the wall, croaking softly and watching the man. He leaned back, his mouth split open, showing teeth. I edged toward the flat rock, bobbing and weaving across the top of the wall. I smelled the food. The man didn’t move. I had devoured half of it before my mate joined me. We gobbled the rest, savoring the sweet taste of fruits that the humans often left behind in the side canyons where they lived in cloth houses and huddled around fires at night. When we finished we flew to our nest. The man held some kind of machine to his eyes and pointed it at us. A soft click, click, click broke the midafternoon stillness. The brown woman joined him. She leaned forward and pressed her face against his. They sat together, face to face, and made low sounds. My mate dug me in the shoulder with her beak and flew out over the town toward the seaside rocks where pelicans and cormorants gathered to dry their wings in the afternoon sun. We danced and spun in the air, riding the currents. I flew upside-down with my claws linked with hers and cried out to other ravens. We didn’t return to our tree until the sun dipped below the ridgeline and the cold settled in.
easons passed. The brown woman grew large and then a little human joined the pair. The man continued putting out plates of food every day and my mate and I grew heavy. She hatched many chicks until last spring when she stopped. Another small one joined the man and woman. On warm afternoons, adult humans crowded the yard, drank much amber liquid, and ate until late at night, being more raucous than any of us ravens could ever be. On one afternoon, the man placed chunks of meat over a fire. The other humans stood back from the pit and away from its smoke. “Look what he’s laying out for us,” my mate said. “There’s too many of them around for us to try,” I said. “Ah, come on. We’re ravens. We can do what we want. I’ll perch on the roof and start croaking while you grab some meat.” I always knew my mate had a loud call; but that day she outdid herself. All the humans stopped what they were doing and stared at her, spreading their
mouths and showing teeth. I flew high above the estate and dove at a steep angle toward the fire pit. At the last moment, I stuck out my legs and braked with fluttering wings. Landing on the edge of the pit, I leaned forward, stabbed a chunk of meat, and I took off. It felt hot and smelled delicious. The man ran toward me, his mouth open and complaining. I flapped hard and managed to climb to our nest where my mate joined me. A loud roar rose up from the crowd below. They lifted their glasses of amber and clear liquid into the air. We ate well that night and didn’t fly the whole next day. The little humans grew bigger. They left the estate each morning and returned in the afternoon. The man’s hair turned silver and he slept most afternoons in the yard, winter and summer, with his blinking window machine and his bottles. Sometimes the brown woman would join him and they would call loudly to each other. Once he reached out and struck her across the face and she ran from his grasping claws. We didn’t see her for days. But our food plates kept coming and we decorated our nest with pieces of cloth swiped from the couple’s outdoor tables, scraps of pretty paper left from their gatherings, and fur from their fat tomcat. We had fun gently pulling out clumps of his soft gray coat while he lay sleeping in the sun. If we kept quiet, he wouldn’t even wake. One evening, I woke from my nap to the sound of a large yellow machine with a light on its roof rumbling on the road next to the estate. The sun had dropped below the canyon ridge and the sky would soon be black. “What’s going on?” my mate asked. “Someone must be leaving,” I said. “Anytime one of those machines shows up someone leaves…or arrives.”
In the yard, the man and his brown mate called loudly to each other. The little ones clutched her blue -green dress and made strange whining sounds. The woman’s face looked wet and glistening, just like the
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RAVEN CONT’D small ones, like they had all been caught in a thunderstorm. At her feet rested boxy things with handles. The pair’s cries grew louder. The woman moved to the far edge of the yard, pulled something from one of her claws, something gold with a bright flash. She flung it into the dark canyon below. Grabbing the boxy things, she herded the little ones before her and they all climbed into the yellow machine. It rolled downhill to the ferry landing. “What do you think that was all…” I began to ask. But my mate had flown from our tree and dove down canyon, disappearing into the black shadows. I called to her but got no reply. I waited. The light had almost disappeared before I heard the whoosh of her wings. “Where did you go? I was…” I stopped speaking. In her beak she held a gold ring with shiny pieces of glass attached to it. “I couldn’t leave it down there,” she said, her whole body shaking. “It is pretty. But why go to all that trouble?” “I don’t know. I just have a feeling that it’s important.” She pressed the ring into the side of our nest, right above a piece of yellow cloth, where the morning sun would catch it and make it gleam brightly. For days we didn’t see the man. A strange old woman came from the house each morning and placed our food on top of the wall. The rains came and when the man finally returned to the yard, he sat in his chair and stared across the channel at the mainland while draining bottles of amber liquid. But when the sky brightened and the yellow coreopsis bloomed across the hillsides, he seemed to change. He drank from a clear bottle that he carried with him everywhere. During the day, my mate and I found him running along the ridge trails above the town, his body wet and glistening. He became slim, spent afternoons pounding madly on the window machine’s panel until darkness came. He showed his
Every year my wife and I visit Santa Catalina Island, 26 miles off the Southern California coast. We watch the ravens dance and play in the sky above Avalon, hear them speak to each other – complaining, boasting, calling, courting, and warning. Next to us humans, they are the most sentient animals on the Island. After years of watching them, I wondered how they see us. Do they understand our lives, make fun of our foibles, share our tragedies, or feel our personal traumas? My story imagines that they do. I am pleased to find a home for it, a challenge for works with unusual points of view.
teeth a lot when he talked with other humans and always pointed us out to his friends. One summer afternoon, a yellow machine pulled up to the estate and the brown woman and the two little ones climbed out. The man met them outside the main building. They moved to the yard and he sat with the woman. They linked claws while the little ones played in the fountain and chased each other in and out of the house, calling loudly, their voices high and burbling like the canyon creek after a storm. The man pressed his face against her face. They stayed that way for a long time. With a flurry of action, my mate snatched the gold ring with its bright glass from the wall of our nest and soared upward into the darkening sky. I followed her, my shoulders aching from the effort and from age. We circled the humans in the yard. I called loudly until they looked up at us. My mate dove toward them and I followed. With a flutter of wings we landed on the table. They stared at us, openmouthed. My mate waddled forward and dropped the ring from her beak in front of the woman. Tracks of water glistened down the woman’s face. She picked up the ring. Her mouth spread wide, showing teeth. The pair made little coughing sounds. We rose into the cool night, both of us struggling with the effort, and flew circles over the estate, croaking and watching the humans wave at us until the light failed. “I knew she would want it back,” my mate said. “You always were a romantic,” I replied, clacking my beak loudly at her. We headed up canyon, black birds flying in a black night, and joined our aging brethren in the trees along the ridge road near the reservoir. We would share our stories with the others, let a young pair of ravens take over our nest, and wait until the time for our final flights.
Terry Sanville lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his artist-poet wife (his in-house editor) and one skittery cat (his in-house critic). He writes full time, producing short stories, essays, poems, and novels. Since 2005, his short stories have been accepted by more than 240 literary and commercial journals, magazines, and anthologies including The Potomac Review, The Bitter Oleander, Shenandoah, and Conclave: A Journal of Character. He was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize for his stories “The Sweeper,” and “The Garage.” Terry is a retired urban planner and an accomplished jazz and blues guitarist – who once played with a symphony orchestra backing up jazz legend George Shearing.
Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 16
c graciela rossi—adobe.stock.com
The Peach Tree: The Mourning Doves Leave Home By Ruth Deming
ur family discovered this neighborhood about twenty generations ago. We’re considered fecund, resourceful, and wary. My husband and I scoped it out and one day, I heard his cries, “This is it, dear. Perfect.” He flew over a peach tree, with tiny budding peaches no bigger than a kernel of corn. Together we built the nest—he is such a, well, “peach”—and when we mated for the very first time, I so enjoyed the feeling, the quick inner thrust that made my eyes close in ecstasy. A new feeling entered my long grey body, right above my long tail feathers, where, in ancient times, haberdashers would kill mourning doves like us for our feathers. Soon afterward, a weight pressed down on my long body. Eggs, certainly. I remember when I myself hatched and the feeling I had when I scratched myself free. The longest journey I’d ever taken. A lovely cloud-like white was the egg I scratched through. My husband gives me a break by sitting on the eggs while I explore the neighborhood. Shiny things that move and then stop, reflect the light of the sun –
they are vehicles, I learn - many colors, orange, white, metallic gray, and a huge white one with a shiny toolbox in the back. Carriages with children inside parade up and down the street. Leashed dogs walk by on the sidewalk, their awful zapping frightening me, the horrid things. But I have one thing they don’t: the power of flight. When it’s safe, I dive onto a smooth green hill of a lawn, and feast on slow-moving grubs, juicy worms, and squiggly ants. Good healthy food to fatten up the hatchlings. So it was I remained invisible to all for several days in the tree. Then a she-person, who smelled like suntan lotion, shaded her eyes and standing on her tiptoes, gasped as she discovered me. Next thing I know she’s out there with her camera. Click! Click! Click! The man-person, who makes a frightening racket when he mows his lawn, is soon brought over for the view. They blick and they bluck and they blick some more. That is the way these human birds talk. I stare at them with my well-positioned right eye, keeping perfectly still. At night comes blissful sleep and all fears cease. The moon covers us from on high like a mother bird. When the sun rises brilliant and orange, quick-aslightning scratches begin inside the two eggs beneath my breast. I hop aside and bend my head to watch what is happening. I hear my husband soaring overhead, his feathers flapping in the wind. He sits on a branch above us and watches while crooning a happiness melody. Out come two moist hatchlings. Naked, featherless, eyes tightly closed. Papa flits down and we joyfully peck one another on our heads, knowing our first family has just begun. We will not be here long. The layer upon layer of leaves on the peach tree protects Papa, me and the two hatchlings when the May rains pour down mercilessly, day after day. P’shew! P’shew! I sing a soothing lullaby to my little ones, who are learning from everything I do. In only fourteen days, my darlings learn to fly and eat on their own. Papa and I peck their miniature grey heads, where tiny feathers now grow. At last the urge inside us beckons and we must fly away. I look down at our first home, loosely knit, not tight like the home of a robin, cemented with mud. As I soar over the neighborhood, my mate in tow, I twist and turn upward, toward the sun, faces watching from below as I sing my song of joy.
Ruth Z. Deming has had her work published in lit mags including Creative Nonfiction, Mad Swirl, and River Poets. She runs a writers' group called The Beehive, where writers give gentle feedback to one another. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia USA. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 17
BOBBY P IN | SCORPION
Clip & Slide
By Linda Stone
By Linda Stone
could feel myself sliding, sliding, right out of her glossy, shiny hair. Bouncing off her sloping shoulder, twisting in the freezing air and hitting the ground with what felt like a thud, but sounded, I imagine less than a tinkle. She left me. Kept right on walking. Left me here to freeze and rust on the cold, hard, ice packed earth. I knew I would rust. How could I not? After all, who would see me? Care enough to save me from such a fate. Me, a small brown metal dash, that blended in with the slashes of heels on a well worn path. Were there others like me? Rejected, left to languish alone in this cold frigid place? Had she done this before? Walked away, never looking back? I had to face it, I had been abandoned. No more to be carried aloft, pinning back a stray kiss curl or an errant fringe. No more to see the world from a higher perspective. I would pass from this life alone, rusty and unloved. And, as I do, she will pull another of my kind from the pretty pink velvet covered box she keeps on her dresser. Place it lovingly in her glossy, shiny hair, and when it too falls, will keep on walking.
he sun warmed me as I settled down on the rocky ledge. Soaking up the heat, energizing my body, ready for the next strike. My human prey always came this way, took the same route, scrambling up the cliff like ants, following in each others wake. All I had to do was wait. Let my prey come to me. Yes, let them come to me, much easier than expending energy hunting them down. I’ve done it many times before. Waited patiently for my next victim to climb towards me, unsuspecting, unaware of my presence until it was too late. Today would be no exception. The climbers travelled boldly, hand over foot, never daring to look down to the abyss below. Placing their gnarly hands carefully, gripping tightly to the crumbly rocks as they ascended. Fingers probing crevices and ledges to get a good hold, feet pushing upwards to traverse higher and higher. They couldn’t see me, as I perched precariously on the rock. Couldn’t hear me, couldn't smell me. I kept perfectly still, waiting, waiting. Of course, I knew my attack would kill slowly. My barbed weapon delivering neurotoxins, that flooded the nervous system, producing convulsions and shortness of breath. With the shock of the attack my victim would release from the rock, and plummet to the ground below. Ah yes, I could almost taste the sweetness of another kill. Suddenly, a hand appeared on his rocky ledge. It was time. I plunged my weapon into the milky white flesh of a woman’s arm and she screamed. It was over almost before it began. Oh, the overwhelming feeling that scream induced. As I withdrew my weapon, fragments of her skin remained on its’ tip, and I shuddered. She screamed again, and as she did, our eyes met. All her delicious terror was there, held in that fleeting moment. I watched intently as she lost her grip on the rock and fell hundreds of metres to the floor of the canyon. An utter thrill of success rippled through me like a wave. Chaos reigned. The other climbers hastened to reach their friend, yelling encouragement to her to hold on, they were coming. But I knew it was over. I was an artist, master of my craft, and as the sun began to set, I, the scorpion, spent now from my exertions, turned slowly, disappeared into a cool dark crevice in the rock, and slept.
c pamela d mcadams—adobe.stock.com
c Teodor Ostojic—adobe.stock.com
Linda Stone hails from Yorkshire, England, but has lived in New Zealand for 43 years. She is a retired Palliative Care nurse and her main interests are reading, writing, especially long newsy letters and craftwork. Her loves are her family, including six amazing grandchildren, and chocolate, if it’s brown it has to be good for you, doesn’t it? This is Linda’s first foray into print, but it definitely won’t be her last. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 18
Heartfelt Outpouring By Vidya Vasudevan
ello! Welcome to my dry and dusty town in Southern India. Perhaps to identify with this town they call me Dusty. Can you guess who I am? Hmm...I am what they call an Indian mongrel. A native breed, a creature most people grudgingly adopt as a pet, mostly out of pity, to give them a home. However, an exception to this rule is my master or so I thought until now. Do you see that tall, macho looking, burly man with his mobile phone literally glued to his ears. Yep! That's my master. These past several years, he was one who abhorred the gadget they call the smart phone. He even tried to dissuade his friends from being addicted to this technology. Alas! Good things like juicy steaks do not last forever. Until the advent of this phone in my master's tidy life, we used to enjoy our walks down the East Coast Road with its balmy breeze. Now, times are changing and my ears are whirring with the tinkle of those myriad ring tones. To me, he always seems pretty occupied with his phone, opening this and that, speaking for ages, interrupting our walk, so much so that, he even forgets to throw the ball to me in the park. He even wants me to pose with him for selfies. Hmph! What a waste of time! I am forced to do this and then, after some minor touchup here and there, to make me look more handsome, he proudly shares it with everyone in his contacts list on his pet App, WhatsApp. Our neighbor’s dog, Rusty with his tormented look, is no better placed than me. At least, I can comfort myself saying that I am not tied to the lamppost during these endless phone conversations carried on by the roadside.
Another irritant during these trips are those ‘cannot-leave-em-behind’ earphones. So attuned to music, shaking his head and arms and humming along merrily, my master hardly ever pauses and looks adoringly at me when I bark, wanting to convey a message to him. A dog's life indeed! Do you think I should get one of these fancy earphones for that trendy look? Hey! What's this? My master's left his phone on the porch. Let me lick it. Uggh! Tastes metallic. Maybe I should play 'catch' with it. Better let the beast go lest I end up in the doghouse. Earlier, my enemies were those huge fancy dogs with their beautiful collars majestically reclining in the backseats of those shiny SUVs and those huge rumbling trucks dashing in from all directions at breakneck speed. Now my major foe is this quirky gadget. Time and again, it always disturbs my master during his visits to the pet shop with me to buy doggie food. When this happens my master is so engrossed in talking that he is quite abrupt with me and cuts short the ‘much awaited’ visit. Hope someday, one of those ‘ tech geeks’ that master is always praising will invent a phone which can work in doggie language. Then, I too can share interesting tidbits of the ‘latest’ in doggie menus with my fellow beings. Wait a minute! This does not mean I am shifting to the enemy’s camp. I do intend giving a pep talk to my younger brethren not to allow it to become an obsession. Hark! I hear my master coming back for his pet mobile. Thank God its bedtime now and this nonsense will stop. Oh no! Just a pipedream! The phone is in 'silent mode' but my master does seem to sleep with one eye open, not to miss out on incoming viral WhatApp messages. Things have gone beyond control. Let me get some shuteye. One last plea! Will anybody save me from this usurper (of my master's affections)? Until then, the mobile mania continues. Woof..Grrr..bowow! What’s this? An Update. This is the doggie equivalent of OMG. Terrible news, guys and gals! My master's planning to acquire a second mobile. Anybody out there. Can you hear my SOS ? I was inspired to write this piece after witnessing a mournful look on a dog because he was unable to wean his master away from his mobile phone. I wondered if the dog could speak what it would say about this 'can't-live-without-it' smart phone generation. I don't have a dog yet and when I saw your 'call for submissions,' I thought I should use this platform on behalf of canines to air their grievances.
Vidya Vasudevan enjoys creative writing as a hobby. She likes writing on issues of topical interest which are of concern to the common man. Vidya is also into poetry, short fiction and creative non fiction. She prefers a touch of humour to relieve the humdrum of everyday life. Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 19
Ruby by Terry Sanville
n my day, most of us drove around the world a couple times then got towed to the nearest junkyard. Now, these darn Toyotas can go five times that distance and still get good mileage. Mileage? Nobody cared about that in 1953 when I rolled off the assembly line. Gas was as cheap as air and America full of pent-up romance and a hopeful peace. At least, that’s how Arty Sullivan, my first owner, saw it. He bought me from Stowasser Ford in Santa Barbara, strode into the showroom wearing his handsome khaki uniform decorated with metals and ribbons and wrote out a check. My warm maroon paint job was what snagged him. On sunny afternoons, he’d park me under the palm trees near Pershing Park and spread thick coats of Turtle Wax all over me, working it in till I glowed like a ruby. I was brand spanking new and he was horny as an assembly line worker ogling a Rigid Tool calendar. Those were wonderful times. Arty worked in the produce section at Safeway on De La Vina Street. When he climbed into me after
work, he smelled of broccoli and freshly-washed carrots. Later, we’d drive around town looking for companionship – not an easy quest since good girls stayed off the streets and bad ones cost more than Arty could afford. Then he met Alleta at church, a gorgeous señorita with large…ah, headlights and beautiful grillwork. It rained hard that winter. But Arty and Alleta still took me out. We’d park at the beach near Ledbetter Point and they’d wear my battery down playing the radio while destroying my rear seat springs. I learned what humans lack in power they make up for in flexibility. I envied them. By Easter, they were married with a kid on the way. I was parked under a sycamore in Tucker’s Grove, at the Company’s Labor Day picnic, when my owners came scrambling. Arty yanked open my passenger side door and pulled the seat forward. Alleta climbed in back and lay down, her dress wet and soiled. She let out a howl. “Hurry, Arty. It HURTS.” “Will ya watch it? You’re getting crud all over –“ “ARTY!” He wisely shut up and jumped in…about drove my wheels off that day, I’ll tell you. We cut east on Foothill Road, then down Mission Street to Cottage Hospital. When I slid up to the emergency entrance, I was running hot with my oil pressure almost gone.
Perspectives ~ April 2017 ~ 20
Arty hustled the waddling Alleta inside, left me with my doors hanging open and motor idling. Some guy wearing whites finally came out and shut me off. They had twins, cute little girls who chewed on my armrests and get carsick over everything, even my headliner. A year and a half later they had a baby boy and Arty got promoted to Produce Section manager. We spent his days off with Alleta and the kids cruising Santa Barbara’s new subdivisions, looking for a house bigger than their tiny Bath Street bungalow. I knew my own days were numbered but tried to hold steady, be dependable and not break down or burn oil. “Ya know, we’re gonna need a new car,” Arty declared on one of our many Sunday drives. “Why? This one’s in great shape,” Alleta replied. “It’s hardly got forty thousand miles on it.” I had grown to love my mistress, even though Arty wouldn’t let her drive. “Yeah, but we got three kids now and need more space, ya know, to haul stuff.” “You don’t fool me, Arty. You just like those new Chevy station wagons.” “I know, I know. They sure are sweet.” Oh Lord, not the Chevies. How could I compete with those razor-sharp tail fins or the ’57’s wraparound windshield? What did I have? Frumpy round taillights and fender skirts that made me look like a rolling sofa. Even my paint job had darkened; I was now the color of a dinged-up eggplant. Alleta liked eggplant, but alas it wasn’t enough. Just after Christmas, Arty drove me onto the back lot at Sierra Chevrolet on Chapalla Street. He unclipped the registration from my steering column and left the keys dangling in the ignition. Before walking away, he snapped one last picture of me with his brownie. I felt abandoned and wondered if I’d ever again experience the full pleasure of my eight cylinders pulling me down the road toward some new adventure. I already missed Alleta and the kids. Do humans know how it feels to be used merchandise?
spent that winter in the company of old Chevies, Fords, a few Studebakers, and a funny-looking Henry J. My battery died and worn tires went flat before they loaded eight of us onto a tractor-trailer and headed south. We bounced along the Pacific Coast Route. Near Rincon Beach and the oil piers, I watched surfers pull their long boards from woody station wagons and dash into the waves. If only I was a station wagon I’d still be with… But that was behind me, and I tried to focus on what might come next. At Mel Strong’s Used Car Emporium in Ventura, I was fitted with cheapo recaps, a Pep Boys battery, then got scrubbed down and given a $42 Earl Sheib
paint job; a quick coat of deep maroon covered my eggplant body nicely. But when the high school kids tried to wax me afterward, the color came off on their rags. They let me cure in the sun for a couple weeks before trying it again. Throughout that summer and into the fall I was taken for plenty of test drives. Women loved my automatic transmission while the men liked my V-8 power. But nobody really got excited, saw my potential, understood how reliable I could be. Then one Sunday morning, just after the churches let out, a man in a wrinkled brown suit and felt hat ambled onto the lot. He fingered my jet plane hood ornament. “So how much do ya want for this heap?” The lot manager rubbed his chin. “You got a good eye, mister. She’s a sweet little V-8 with hardly any miles and…” “Yeah, yeah. So how much?” An unfiltered cigarette clung to his quivering lips. I shuddered at the thought of ashes burning holes in my upholstery. I couldn’t hear the manager’s answer because the man opened my hood and poked around in my engine bay. He checked the oil and water, squeezed my hoses, and stared under my pan at the oil stains on the pavement. “Would you like to take her for a spin, mister… ah…?” The manager extended a hand. “Name’s Fred Sanders. Just go ahead and fill out the paperwork. I need to be in Bakersfield by sundown.” The men disappeared into the office. When Fred returned, he hauled six leather valises from a beat-up Nash and heaved them onto my back seat. An old tweed suitcase got stowed in my trunk. We left the Nash nosed into the curb. I could sense its pain but was happy to be rolling again, to feel air flowing through my radiator, oil circulating, hydraulic fluid pushing the brakes to do their business. We headed inland and picked up Highway 99 at Castaic Junction. Halfway up the Grapevine, Fred pulled over to let me cool. But by the time we reached the flatlands of the southern San Joaquin Valley, I was running smooth. He held me at 65 the whole way into town. At dusk, we turned into the Sleepy Hollow Motor Court and parked outside Unit #6. Fred retrieved a bottle from under the seat and took a long pull. He sat quietly in the darkness, sipping whiskey while my hot engine crackled and ticked. His motel room was dark. I spent that night in the open while a thick tule fog engulfed Bakersfield. It continued like that for weeks, months, years. During the days, Fred crisscrossed the valley, stopping at any ranch that had a tractor shed bigger than an outhouse. He sold
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CAR CONT’D farm equipment for John Deere and spent hours jawing with big tobacco-chewing men in coveralls while farm kids drew pictures on my dusty paint job with their stubby fingers. But in between clients he’d hit the bars. Fred knew saloonkeepers at ever joint in the southern San Joaquin…in places like Arvin, Shafter, Wasco and Lost Hills. He was a mess. I was a mess; the only time I got washed was when it rained. But Fred knew how to tinker with machinery. His soft swollen hands changed my fluids every three months and kept me running. After thirteen years of being driven I still didn’t burn oil or leak anything.
On a clear night in March we drove back from Tehachapi, high in the southern Sierras. Fred had begun drinking right after lunch and should have flopped at the Travelodge in town. But c olly—adobe.stock.com he insisted on driving home. So against my better judgment, I let my engine fire up. We flew past the turnoff to Bear Valley Springs and descended a gentle sweeping turn. Fred’s bigbottomed body went slack and slumped forward. My horn blared. With a start, he awoke and twisted the wheel. But we were in too deep. My right side grazed the guardrail and I spun. The driver’s side door popped open. In an instant, Fred was gone. “If your time’s up, it’s up,” he’d muttered after one of our many near misses. I didn’t fully understand time…was just happy to be driven and gently attended to. It had been a simple existence. But it changed again, with me with a smashed right side and Fred stretched out on the highway, surrounded by road flares. I’d been rolling longer than most. I was ready. I hoped Fred felt the same.
hey towed me to a huge salvage yard on the outskirts of Oildale and parked me in a line with other Fords. I was one of the lucky ones, got stored under a metal shed roof, so the sun didn’t rot my interior so quickly and I avoided rusting out. From my spot near the perimeter fence, I watched
traffic on the highway. As the years passed, the cars changed. All those beautiful fins and sharp edges disappeared, replaced by round-cornered, lumbering bricks with banks of taillights. They weren’t ugly… just, well, bland. And the few sexy European jobs were replaced by hordes of Japanese cars. But what really surprised me were those cockroach -shaped Volkswagens. They were real gutless wonders and didn’t even have a proper radiator. But I guess the college kids liked them, especially the boxy little buses, because they were everywhere, some with peace symbols and crazy stuff painted all over. Later when they’d dump one at our yard, mangled from some accident, us domestics would make fun. “Hey hippie, where’s your flower power now?” “Suck my tail pipe, hippie.” “Make love, not rust.” But picking on VWs didn’t make me feel better. We were all headed for the crusher at some moment in time, to be squeezed into a cube of jagged metal, then thrown into a hearth to become one again with the great Metallic Universe. I guess I’d become existential in my old age, thinking long thoughts about the essence of machines and our tenuous link to that rational order desired by humans. I parked at that salvage yard for twenty-five years, saw some of my kind parted out, a few lucky ones purchased, but most just disappeared. Newer wrecks took their place, ones with catalytic converters, disc brakes, and square headlights. They made me feel like a country hick, although I knew I’d outlast any of those tin and plastic boxes. The Valley was socked in with fog the day Joe and his teenage son, Raymond, came by. They made their way down the line, inspecting each of my neighbors until reaching me. I could barely make them out through my streaked windshield. “Come on, Pop. Let’s go look for a Mustang, or maybe a Camaro.” “Ya restore one of them and what da ya got? Nothing ya don’t see every day of the week.” “But these old clunkers are…” “You got to look past what they are now, Ray. They can become something totally cool if you set your mind to it.” “Yeah, yeah, and I spend every minute I got working on it.” “No, son. We’ll spend every minute…it’s either that or have your mother hound us with chores.” The father forced my hood open, the first time in more than a decade. “Will ya look at that? A sweet little 239 flathead, easy to work on. It’ll have plenty of power when we’re done with it.” “But that body, Pop. What are we gonna do with–”
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“Hey, think like an artist, kid. We can do anything the cutting torch will let us.” I winced when I heard that, but knew these humans were my last chance at salvation. I hoped my doors hadn’t rusted shut and that the field mice had abandoned their nests in my rear seat cushions. I wasn’t even sure my wheels turned; tall weeds had tickled the insides of my fenders for years. But Joe’s pickup pulled a flatbed trailer down the line and with nudges from the yard crew and their decrepit tow truck, I was rolled up onto it. At least my windows were intact and I could maintain some dignity. We tore out of the yard and down the highway, heading west. The speed made me dizzy. I felt air flow through rusted holes in my floorboards. We rolled toward the sunset and pulled up in front of a sprawling ranch house. I was carefully stowed in a huge garage. Joe’s wife came out to see me. “What in God’s name did you buy? I won’t have this heap cluttering up my…” “Hold on, Joyce,” Joe said, grinning. “Ray and I will have it runnin’ in no time. It’s got an automatic, so even you can drive it.” With a groan, Joyce threw up her hands and ducked back inside the house. “Don’t worry son, this little Ford is gonna be one sweet ride when we’re done.” “Yeah, Pop, sure.” Ray didn’t look convinced. I had my own doubts. But I was in a dry clean space, my first garage in thirty-eight years of existence. In the weeks and months that followed I was slowly dismantled, stripped down to my frame, my parts spread out over the concrete floor. When they loosened my motor from its mounts, I slipped into darkness.
hen I came to, I had a newly primed frame and an engine I didn’t recognize; everything had been painted or coated in chrome. My body sat next to me on blocks. Every day, Joe and Ray worked on it, cutting, grinding, filling, sanding. By the summer of the second year of my rebirth, they were ready to take me for a spin. My new rubycolored paint job put my original to shame. A hole had been cut in my hood to accommodate a huge four-barrel carburetor and air scoop, and my rear fenders had been cut and flared to handle the fattest tires I’d ever worn. But inside, I was the same old me. Even my cracked radio knobs had been replaced with original look-alikes. The last thing Joe installed was foam dice around my rear-view mirror. Everybody piled in and we tore out…and I mean really moved. It was like I’d never breathed before that moment. My voice had also changed, from what I remembered as a low
murmured thumping to a steady growl. I searched the road for other muscle cars to take on, to test my newfound virility. Ray clicked on the radio and a caterwauling boomed from speakers hidden in my doors, definitely not the country music Fred used to play. We headed south on a shimmering white highway called Interstate 5. At the base of the Grapevine Grade, Joe turned around and pulled over. “Okay son, it’s all yours.” “What…I mean, what are you doing?” “This is your graduation present.” I thought Ray would faint. “Good God, Pop, I mean, I was wondering how I was gonna get around at college. But, my God, this…this is fantastic!” I had a good feeling about Ray. He was meticulous, never rushed, never took unnecessary risks. But that summer on the asphalt roads east of town, we did some serious speed trials. I never felt so good. In September, Ray and his folks crammed my back seat and trunk with every possible thing a young man might use at the university. Joe and Joyce gave us a tearful farewell. Ray pointed me south toward the Grapevine and the Pacific Coast beyond. I hardly recognized Ventura and almost had a vapor lock as we passed Rincon Point. The oil piers were gone but the surfers were still there, slicing across the waves on miniature surfboards. And by God, some woodies were parked along the highway, waiting for their wet masters to return. Ray was singing to himself, tapping out a rhythm on my steering wheel. It reminded me of Arty and those first years with Alleta and the kids. At the University in Goleta, we pulled into a parking lot in back of some pink boxy apartments. I had never been near a college before. Having all those girls and guys around me made me appreciate my newness. But Ray was a quiet studious kid who hardly took me out, except to cruise Santa Barbara’s State Street on weekends. It was there I discovered I was a real “babe magnet.” We’d pull up to a stoplight and kids at the sidewalk coffee shops and cabarets would stroll over and admire my paintjob and classic interior. “How about taking me for a spin?” a pretty Latina girl asked. She clutched a bottle of Bud in one hand and was falling out of her tank top. “I, ah, yeah, sure. Climb in,” Ray stuttered. “This is a really cool ride,” she said, stroking my lacquered dashboard. “Just don’t spill anything on the upholstery.” “No sweat. So, what’s your name?” “Ray McAllister.” “I’m Lucy Vargas. You go to UCSB?” “Yeah, is it that obvious?”
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(Continued on page 24)
CAR CONT’D (Continued from page 23)
In the 1950s, the vacant lot across the street from my parent’s house in Santa Barbara was a favorite spot for guys to work on their cars. They’d drag some old jalopy onto the lot, throw a pulley and rope over the massive limb of a bordering oak tree, and use it to drop a new engine into what had looked like a complete wreck. What had been destined for the junkyard would be rolling around my neighborhood within a few days…a form of rebirth. I always wondered about rebirth, and thought about whether machines have their own inner spirits, whether they share in the lives of their operators. Strange, huh! But it makes for a good story.
“No, not really. You don’t look like the yuppies that go there.” “Thanks. I’m studying engineering.” I steered them toward the beach at Leadbetter Point. Nothing much had changed: the waves continued to roll onshore, the tangy sea mist tickled my body, my radio’s soft tones mixed with the surf sounds. They talked for hours, about young people things, their families, histories, and dreams. I wish I could have joined in. It was like my own life was starting over. “Ya know, my grandpop had a car like this,” Lucy said. “No kidding.” “It was gone long before I came along. But my grandmom tells stories about the time they spent in the back seat.” Ray looked nervously over his shoulder. “Well, ah, we can check it out if, you, ya know, want?” Lucy grinned. “I was wondering when you were gonna ask.” They climbed in back and began making out. It had been a lifetime since I’d experienced that surge of energy through humans to me. I felt lucky and proud to have survived that long. As the moon disappeared, Lucy snuggled into Ray’s arms. “Yeah, Grandpop Arty has an old photo of his car hanging above the fireplace. He loved that machine, called her Ruby.” I thought my battery cables would disconnect. I trembled in the night air, blaming the shakes on the freshening ocean breeze, but grateful that the circle of life that affects all living things might also apply to the likes of me.
Terry Sanville lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his artist-poet wife (his in-house editor) and one skittery cat (his in-house critic). He writes full time, producing short stories, essays, poems, and novels. Since 2005, his short stories have been accepted by more than 240 literary and commercial journals, magazines, and anthologies including The Potomac Review, The Bitter Oleander, Shenandoah, and Conclave: A Journal of Character. He was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize for his stories “The Sweeper,” and “The Garage.” Terry is a retired urban planner and an accomplished jazz and blues guitarist – who once played with a symphony orchestra backing up jazz legend George Shearing.
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c Monique Berry
Created for Smiles By Monique Berry My life emerged from a desire behind Monique’s smiling eyes when she visited Northern Ontario. I felt that once Monique saw my beauty, I’d be captured and created to make people smile. The journey from camera to printer was not without pain. But it was worth it. After squeezing through a wire and soon after a damp roll and tumble, my lovely face and back were impressed onto a polished paper skin. My living quarters are cramped, stifling, and sweaty. I’m wedged between other memories. We rest on a table enclosed by her travel collectibles and keepsakes. To my left is a trunk of Monique’s treasured letters and postcards from her Facebook group “Pen & Post Messengers.” There's also some from Postcrossing and Letter Writers Alliance. To my right is a handsome metal box stuffed with stamps and stickers. I suspect she'll decorate me with a stamp bearing the Canadian flag when she’s all set to mail me out. I had an identical twin brother to keep me company but it took off a while ago. So, boredom overtakes some times. When that occurs, I glance around and daydream about where my friends will go. For instance, five rows in front of me there’s an attractive pinup girl. If she could only attend to my smooth, calm seductive voice. Monique will
doubtless wait for Valentine’s Day to send her out. Someone as attractive as that should fly to France. And you should be told of the conversations I have to endure. Whoa! Like the time Monique threw one of my friends on top of her outgoing mail tray. “When is this misery going to end?” it pleaded. “My poor body! I’ll probably have a big bruise. Does she have to be so rough?” “Oh, you’re such a card,” snapped Manila. “Yeah? Well, you’re an absolute square!” “And you’re a—” Monique’s hand stopped any further insults. She tied the envelopes, letters and postcards with an elastic string and shoved them into a cloth bag. I breathed with relief knowing that I’ll never again have to hear Manila’s negativity again! The wait is so frustrating. I don’t want to be in this box anymore. I need to fly, to make someone smile, to know what it’s like to take a trip on a truck or a plane or… Maybe there’s hope! Her dreamy fingers are reaching down… Pick me, pick me… Yes! I am chosen! Oh, I’m so excited. Where will I go? She’s about to write a message on my back but space is limited. Darn. Maybe she’ll continue this perspective in the next edition. I write a lot of letters and postcards. As I wrote on the back of the postcard above, I had a conversation with it. “What would you say if you could talk? Am I writing with too much pressure? Is it hurting you?” Then I said, “Hey! I’ll include you in my magazine!
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Object/Animal Trivia Mount Rushmore, p4: It is not completed and will never be completed as planned. Gutzon Borglum's plans called for the figures of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln to be carved in detail to the waist. Barmouth Bridge, 5: 1) It is part of a footpath stretching all the way around the Welsh coast, has been used by walkers for 150 years. The 900m wooden viaduct stretches across the Mawddach Estuary on the west coast of Wales, and carries trains to the station i n the town of Barmouth. 2) Originally, an opening span was included of so-called "cock-and-draw" construction, which reportedly took some 37 minutes for two men to open. African Honey Badger, p6: 1) This fearless creature has incredible thick skin that cannot be pierced with arrows, spears or even machete. Skin is also very loose, which is useful in the case of attack. When predator grabs a badger, animal rotates in its skin and turns toward predator's face to fight back (attacking its eyes). 2) When attacked by dogs, Honey Badgers scream like bear cubs. Cell Phone, p8: 1) Two studies have found that most people have lost their cell phones in a grocery store or a laundry basket. 2) Your mobile phone has more computing power than the computers used for the Apollo 11 moon landing. Smoke Alarm Battery, p9: Smoke alarms have expiry dates. Simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). 2) Batteries should be replaced twice a year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Dogs, p10, 19: Dogs suffer from jealousy and are just as likely to turn into a green eyed monster as humans, according to scientists in California. Researchers studied 36 dogs from 14 breeds and found that most were indifferent when their owners ignored them until the owners showered their attention on a stuffed dog. Then the pet pooches' behaviour changed dramatically, sparking snapping and snarling. Fish, p10: Most fish have taste buds all over their body. Hippopotamus, p11: 1) A hippo ate Egypt’s King Menes. 2) A hippo’s lips are almost two feed wide. 3) They can walk for about six minutes underwater without coming up for air. Water Bottle, p12: 1) 68.7% of the fresh water on Earth is trapped in glaciers. 2) About 6,800 gallons of water is required to grow a day’s food for a family of four. 3) 1/3 what the world spends on bottled water in one year could pay for projects providing water to everyone in need. Lilies (flower pot), p13: During Queen Victoria’s reign, British clergymen were actually ordered to remove the stamens and pistils from Easter lilies before placing them on church altars. The prevailing sentiment was that leaving these protuberances in place might incite some members of the congregation to conjure up “impure thoughts.” Ravens, p14: 1) Despite their mischievous nature, ravens seem capable of feeling empathy. When a raven’s friend loses in a fight, they will seem to console the losing bird. They also remember birds they like and will respond in a friendly way to certain birds for at least three years after seeing them. They also respond negatively to enemies and suspiciously to strange ravens. 2) In the wild, ravens have pushed rocks on people to keep them from climbing to their nests, stolen fish by pulling a fishermen’s line out of ice holes, and played dead beside a beaver carcass to scare other ravens away from a delicious feast. If a raven knows another raven is watching it hide its food, it will pretend to put the food in one place while really hiding it in another. Since the other ravens are smart too, this only works sometimes. Doves, p17: 1) Prince apparently had two pet doves, who had the amazingly Prince-ly names Majesty and Divinity. And according to Prince’s sister, the doves stopped singing after the man died. Staff suggested they play some of his music which made the doves make noise again. 2) In the early 1900s, Ozark hill people in the eastern United States thought that birds and rabbits started mating on February 14th. Bobby Pins, p18: 1) The evidence of hair pins has been found in Venus figurines. 2) It takes about 40 pins to secure a ballerina’s bun. So for a ballet the size of Swan Lake or the Nutcracker, there are 6,000-10,000 bobby pins used each night. Scorpions, p18: The Scorpions need days to top an empty venom tank. They will dry-sting on defense, saving their precious fluid for venom-worthy prey. Automobiles, p20: 1) Ford, who made the first pick-up trucks, shipped them to dealers in crates that the new owners had to assemble using the crates as the beds of the trucks. The new owners had to go to the dealers to get them, thus they had to “pick-up” the trucks. 2) The official name of the mascot of Rolls Royce, she is the lady on top of their radiators is called “The Spirit of Ecstasy” and "Nellie in her nighty". Postcards, p26: McGill’s “Kipling” postcard is the No. 1 selling postcard of all time. It sold more than 6 million copies and was controversial for its
thematic overtones. It depicted a young man and woman resting under a tree. The man holds a book and asks her: “Do you like Kipling?” She respnds “I don’t know, you naughty boy. I’ve never kippled.” Opposite: c MemoryCatcher.com Back cover: c rolffimages-adobe.stock.com
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Thanks for reading PERSPECTIVES MAGAZINE
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