Creative Nonfiction from the Archives

bush-cricket-1594641_1280A Sort of Biblical Swarm

 

Being from Northeast Ohio, I had plenty of experience driving in bad weather.  So for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why my car was hydroplaning on a dry, sunny summer day in Louisiana.  I fought the impulse to stomp on the brake, and I steered into the skid, regaining control.  I realized there was some kind of substance on the road, but I wasn’t sure what it was so I cautiously turned into a gas station.

The parking lot appeared to be wiggling, and I turned the radio off, as if the sound was somehow interfering with my vision.  Nope – the parking lot was still wiggling.  Then my brain finally accepted what my eyes had been seeing the whole time – grasshoppers.  There were grasshoppers everywhere.  Truckloads of them.  I could hear them crunching beneath my tires.

I parked, and tried to tiptoe inside the gas station to minimize the amount of casualties I was inflicting, but there was no helping it.  I could feel them squishing under my shoes, and  they were slippery as hell.  When I got inside I announced to the girl behind the cash register, “There’s grasshoppers all over the place.”

“Crickets,” she said quite matter-of-factly.

“Okay, crickets” I conceded.  “They’re everywhere.”

Another employee chimed in from the snack food isle, “I reckon they’re a might worse than I’ve seen in a while.”  He had a broom, and he was busy trying to corral some rogue crickets into a mop bucket.

“How bad are they, typically?” I asked.

“Sometimes bad.  Sometimes not so bad,” the guy informed me.

“Where ya from?” the girl behind the register asked.  “You sure do have an accent.”

“Ohio,” I said.

“What’s a Yankee boy doin’ way down here in Shreveport, Louisiana?” she said.  The word came out like, Lose-y-anna.  It sounded very exotic to me, and I suddenly realized how attractive she was.  I guessed she was around my age – early twenties, tall and tan with long dark hair and blue eyes like glacial ice.

“I thought I’d brave the biblical swarm of locusts so I could ask you out for a drink,” I said with as much confidence as I could muster.

“It ain’t no biblical swarm neither.  It’s just a might worse than usual. And I done told you it’s crickets.”

“Oh,” I said, dejected.  “Well, I’ll see ya,” I said as I turned to leave.

“My shift’s up in about forty-five minutes,” she said.  “There’s a little bar up the road.  If you want, I’ll meet you there for a drink.  It’s called, Scuddy’s.”

“Yeah, I know where that is.  I’d love to meet you for a drink.”

“It’s just one drink now, and it’s just us talkin’.  Don’t get no ideas.”

“Scout’s honor,” I said, and I raised my right hand to show how virtuous I was.

“And I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts you was never no damned boy scout.”

She was right about that, too.

#End

Haibun Archives: On Being Still.

This is a haibun I wrote that was first published in December of 2017 in a quarterly journal called, Haibun Today. Just a quick refresher – a haibun consists of a prose segment accompanied by a haiku. The editor, Ray Rasmussen, really helped me through the revision process so that I could get the haiku portion up to par. He suggested I abandon the 5-7-5 syllable count in favor of a more streamlined form. The only criteria was that the haiku had to be three lines, and the total syllable count could not exceed seventeen. This style is becoming the preferred method in English haiku.

Ray Rasmussen is a master of the English haibun form, as are many of the authors who appear in the journal. I was just happy to be along for the ride. Haibun Today is one of my favorite journals, and it is absolutely free to read. Just go to haibuntoday.com and you’re in.

So, here’s my work. Questions, comments, criticisms are always welcome.

pexels-photo-68629

Hawkelson Rainier
On Being Still

The old timer pays me for the work I did on his roof and offers me a cold beer. I tell him, “Thanks, but I better get going.” At the end of his lot there’s a wooded area – towering oaks and maples. Just beyond the trees I hear it – the drone of the interstate. It sounds angry, like a huge hornet nest that was pelted with rocks.

I say, “A cold beer does sound pretty good, after all.” He brings out a couple, and we sit on lawn chairs and are quiet for a minute. Semper Fi is tattooed on his right arm, and I wonder if it was Korea or Vietnam where he got that faraway look in his eyes.

“My daughter thinks I should put the house up for sale,” he says after awhile. “Wants me to move to a retirement community in Tampa.”

“What do you think?” I say.

“I think I’ll just hunker down here and live out my days.”

We click our beer bottles together, and we each take a good draw. The talk turns to baseball, and the frenzied world pulses by.

long shadows –
water droplets condense
on beer bottles