Tuesday, June 16, 2009

And now, a bedtime story...

“The Major and Connie’s big day”


Americo Alvarenga

Connie always thinks there are two birds. He assumes that there must be more than one bird chirping away at the morning sun. As he opens one eye, he believes that this time he’s going to see two birds outside the window, that there can be no way in this great, wide world that one animal, as small as that bird, could possibly make that amount of noise. He opens his second eye. Connie is wrong.

Connie leans up on his front paws and stretches his hind legs. He shakes his body from head to tail, tossing off the night’s lingering sleep. The sound of his dog tags rustles up the only other living thing in the small cabin. He smacks his lips as a heavy, calloused hand lands on his head.

“Morning Connie,” says the Major. “Today’s a big day.” Connie acknowledges the Major’s sentiments as he does every morning with a nod of his head.

The Major is a small, elderly man. No one would assume that this is the man that is echoed in all the pictures around the cabin. Pictures of a tall man in uniform. Some have him holding rifles; others have him pointing away toward distant wherevers. And then there are others, very few, but definitely in places of notice, where it’s a beautiful woman that he grasps.

Connie has never seen any of these images. Connie is a dog and can’t see in two dimensions. The Major has described each one to Connie in depth throughout the years, so Connie could point out each image and describe to you in as much detail and with as much emotion as the Major could, with only the shape of the image to go by. Connie is a self-proclaimed “part wild dog”. He believes that at least one of his ancestors was a wolf. He teases the Major each day about him running off into the wild. A game they both enjoy three meals a day. This breakfast is no different.

The Major takes their breakfast to the porch. They’d eat their bacon, eggs, and toast in the kitchen, there’s plenty of room. But with the view of the lake, the sun rising in the East, and the dew simmering off the trees and cabins in the distance, why would you eat inside? The Major sets Connie’s food on the floor next to him as the Major pulls a folded wooden TV tray in front of him. As Connie licks his lips from the grease too soon gone from his plate, and the Major lights his pipe, they look out into the distance as Connie asks the Major, the question.

“Would you miss me, Major?
If I left this morn’?
Would you miss me Major?
Will you be so torn?
I could run out into the misty woods,
Follow the trail and be at play,
Take it till I think it should,
This feels like it could be the day.”

The Major smiles and replies.

“I’d miss you Connie,
I’d miss you true,
You can’t leave Connie,
There’s still much to do.
‘Sides there’s nothing really worth while,
Beyond those pesky trees,
And why tire yourself with all those miles?
You’re better off with me.”

Connie smiles and says, “Maybe later then, Major. Later will be my day.”

The day rolls along, and the next thing you know, it’s lunch time. The Major works his tongs across the outside grill as the smoke rises off the sausages he’s cooking up. Stuffed between a couple of sourdough rolls and plated, The Major and Connie sit down to lunch. They watch as the lake host’s traffic to rowboats, paddle boats, canoes, and the such. The Major waits tentatively to the pending question.

“Would you miss me, Major?
If I left you soon?
Would you miss me, Major?
If I took off this noon?
I could swim out to a boat,
I could meet a new friend.
They would no doubt, on me, dote.
They’d carry my means to my end.”

The Major puffs on his pipe.

“I’d miss you Connie,
Don’t go over there.
Why leave me Connie?
I’m sure they don’t care.
Sure they’d pet you and feed you,
You’re a dog, a cute one at that,
But at the end of the day, they’d leave you.
And that my good friend, would be that.”

Connie smiles as he sees the smoke from the Major’s pipe circle in the air, “Maybe later then, Major. Later will be my day.”

The sun begins to set, as it does every day. The stars begin to poke through the veil of the evening sky. In the distance, the lights of cabins begin to turn on sporadically. At first one, then another, at one point four turned on at the same time. Connie can still taste the smoked fish that the Major seared to perfection earlier in the evening. On cue, Connie begs, but not in the way dogs normally do.

“Would you miss me, Major?
If I stole into the night?
Would you miss me, Major?
Would you put up a fight?
The lights call to me,
And not just those of man,
The stars in heaven whisper to me,
Come visit faraway lands.”

Connie sees the smoke of the Major’s pipe, and waits for his witty reply. But Connie, to his surprise, gets a bit of ash on his nose. He shakes it off, and looks up to the Major. He notices something different in the Major’s eyes. They’re looking off into the distant, but not off into the horizon. The Major seems to have traveled off in his gaze to some place that Connie has at some time or another described to the Major with such detail and emotion that it seems the Major has beat Connie to him. Connie moves up along side of the Major, putting his head on his lap. The Major’s hand, still calloused, but now cold, on Connie’s brow. Connie stares off, trying to see where the Major may have gone off too. He smiles.

“Tomorrow then, Major. Tomorrow will be my day.”

The End

Sunday, June 07, 2009

My nephew, Julian.

You know what's great about being an uncle?  It's getting to be one to another kid.  I've got two nephews.  My brother could go his whole life giving me the coolest gadgets or doodads for my birthday/Christmas/Uncle's Day (there should be one), but nothing would ever compare to making me an uncle.

It's all the fun of being with a kid who's related to you but none of the responsibilities.

I hope to return the favor some day soon.