story

Mork from Ork

mork

This photo came to me in a box of my father’s stuff. My stepmom had collected a bunch of my father’s belongings into a cardboard box after his death, which she then gave to me. It was filled with some of the random and wonderful things he had collected in his later years, including autographed baseball paraphernalia, antique stock and bond notes, random old movie posters, strange prints and artwork, and some wonderful photos of him and me together. Most of these photos were framed and were pictures I had given him for his birthday or Christmas or father’s day. This one was a card I must have made him for Christmas, which explains the ribbons and frame made out of wrapping paper. I’m sure the inside read something witty, such as… like father, like son. You see in the picture we both have casts on, him on his ankle and me on my arm. Hilarious irony.

This particular photo sits on my desk, and seeing it everyday has somewhat diminished the memories it dregs up. So many memories I don’t really want to talk about. I don’t want to talk about my dad’s amazing red pants and matching turtle neck, or the crazy blonde mop of 80’s hair perched on my head like a wig, or my patriotic tube socks. I don’t want to talk about the thumb cast that I got after badly dislocating my thumb while trying to roller skate down the paved cliff in front of my house with ski poles. I don’t want to justify what I was thinking at the time, having witnessed my cooler than cool neighbor place skateboard trucks on an old Rossignol ski and go plummeting down that steep hill numerous times, and my own sad attempt to replicate the feat with cheap roller skates and ski poles, which ended tragically for both my thumb and one of the ski poles.

I don’t want to talk about the Mork from Ork shirt that I’m wearing, or the rainbow suspenders (thankfully not pictured in this photo) that I just had to have to show my affinity for the crazy alien from Ork. I’m guessing this photo was probably taken around 1980, and I don’t want to talk about how my father would have been roughly the same age as me now. Mork and Mindy was one of my favorite shows, not only because Robin Williams played this amazing and hilarious alien that made funny sounds and flew to Earth in a giant egg, but also because my younger sister’s name was Mindy. Hilarious irony once again. I would pretend I was Mork and then we would became our own sad little version of the show, even though my sister never wanted to play along. I would say things like nannu nannu, shazbot, fly be free while she played with her Barbie dolls. When Barbie landed on her head at least she didn’t break open like an egg. I don’t want to talk about my parents’ separation and eventual divorce, about how my father and mother argued so much and with such venom that I was glad when he eventually left. I don’t want to talk about how I saw less and less of him as time went on. I don’t.

I don’t want to talk about how much I miss my father , and definitely don’t want to talk about the bicycle accident in 1994 that left him a quadriplegic, leaving him bed ridden and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his days. I don’t want to talk about the grief and depression I felt after the accident as I watched him spiral closer and closer to the proverbial drain. I don’t want to talk about how he had such a profound effect on my outlook and life that went largely unrealized until it was too late. Sometimes we don’t realize how important such influences have been until they pass tragically out of our lives, and a different point of view provides us with perspective that is simultaneously enlightening and heart breaking. After they’re gone all we have left is a box of random stuff which we go through again and again trying to decipher some deep profundity and meaning. I don’t want to talk about that.

I don’t want to talk about how I was looking at this photo when I learned that Robin Williams had killed himself, or about how affected I was by it. I don’t want to admit that, much like my father, Robin Williams had a profound but unrealized affect on my perspective in life. Judging from the tributes and stories being shared across the interwebs I sense I was not alone in this connection. I don’t want to talk about how depression is an unrelenting bitchslap, or how someone that could have brought so much joy to so many millions of people could be so dark and troubled inside.  I don’t want to talk about how this makes me realize that our time in this life is limited and a thing to never take for given. I don’t want to talk about how the world can suddenly seem so much smaller when someone with such profound unrealized impact is suddenly gone, and all we are left with is a box of Mork and Mindy, Dead Poets Society, and Fisher King to sift through and try to remember and forget at the same time.

And above all, I don’t want to talk about how these two tragedies will now somehow be linked in my mind because of this picture.

I just want look at this photo and appreciate that moment, without all the other stuff it brings up.

Shazbat!

RIP Ralph Hager (1939 – 2006)

RIP Robin Williams (1951 – 2014)

 

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Dad’s Castle

The land, willed to my father, had been in our family for generations. Everybody considered it useless and unbuildable. His dream became constructing something wonderful on the eroding bluff, somehow overcoming the treacherous pull of gravity. Every portion completed required constant reinforcement afterward. Even as the lowest levels crumbled away, more rooms and terraces were added on top. He was certain that one day a magnificent castle would stand atop this land.

When the land was willed to me, his dream became mine. Someday there will be a castle here.

I just hope I live long enough to witness it.

Björn 6

This week’s entry for the Friday Fictioneers, a 100 word story based on the photo prompt above.

Hosted by the phenomenal Rachel Wisoff-Fields. View other entries below.

Pass the Ketchup

 We’d been driving all day by the time we pulled into town, and my dad was even more pissed off than normal. We were all hungry and tired. The motel sign read no vacancy, and the only restaurant still open was a hole in the wall Chinese joint.

“What the hell is this?” he asked. “First no fries or cheeseburgers, and now this shit?”

“They’re chopsticks, Henry,” my mom said. “Use them to pick up your food, like this.”

“I don’t do friggin chopsticks,” he said, stabbing his orange chicken with one chopstick. “Now, pass me that dang Chinese ketchup.”

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Marie Gail Stratford

Written for Friday Fictioneers – hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

My 100 word story written about the photo prompt above. Read more below.

The Hoarding Gene

After my mom died we realized the extent of her hoarding. Rooms stacked with boxes in boxes, years worth of newspapers, closets that spilled out like avalanches when opened. Most items made no sense.

My wife suggested a dumpster. It felt a shame to throw it all away, a lifetime of memories tossed. In one room we uncovered a forgotten memento from my childhood that I wanted to keep.  My wife called the glass eyes creepy.

No way, she said, we have zero room at home, but I knew there was always space for one more thing. 

The hoarder’s mantra.

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Adam Ickes

Posted for the Friday Fictioneers Photo Prompt – a complete story in 100 words or less.

This is perfect for me because my attention span is a about 100 words.

Too Long in London

The day starts with you in front of a tube station in south London. You and your traveling partner, who has really started to get on your nerves recently, as the two of you nickel and dimed (euroed and franked) your way across certain parts of Europe for the past month. The hostels and camping had turned weary, tired, every night the beds less comfortable and home further away. It is the twenty-first of May, the day of your return flight to America. The plan is to take the tube to Heathrow airport, which for the both of you costs three more pounds than you can scrape together. You knew those last few pints the evening before had been a bad idea. Your last night abroad had been a beer filled celebration, but it was all a blur now.

It is eight in the morning, the bustle of a weekday London morning, the entrance to the London Underground a river of umbrellas and raincoats. Did I mention the rain? The both of you look the part of the greasy vagrant, unshaven backpackers begging money so you could catch the train to the airport. In half an hour you’d only scraped up a few schillings. Then one business-dressed lady stopped for a moment, having a bit of a problem closing her umbrella. Excuse me, you say. Do you have extra money so that we can make it to the airport and get home to America? After she manages to close her umbrella she turns to the two of you and has a long disappointed look at you.  So you’ll be leaving the country then, she asks. She agrees to give you money, all three pounds that you need. But before she hands it over, she makes you promise that you wouldn’t return to Britain. Ever.

So you purchase your fare and take the tube to Heathrow. On the map it looks like Heathrow is very close. Actually it feels hours away. Much like London, the train ride seems to go on forever. At Heathrow you stand in line for an hour at check-in. You study your tickets about fifty times while you wait. Nonstop, London to San Francisco, May 21st. You get to the counter and show the lady your tickets, relieved to have finally made it through all the obstacles, to verge so close to your homecoming. Then she tells you that your flight isn’t until tomorrow.

The 21st of May, you say.

Yes, today is the 20th

Rainy Day In London (by oatsy40 on Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

Felonious

“Assault, driving under the influence, hit and run, forgery, kidnapping, impersonating an officer, trespassing, conspiracy, grand larceny?” The booking officer looked at me over the reading glasses perched on the end of his nose. “It sounds like you had quite an evening, son. What do you have to say for yourself?” I just stared at his bushy grey mustache while he tapped his pen on the desk and waited for me to say something.

Should I say…

That the night was young and I wasn’t done yet, that I still had some felonies left to commit.

That I was innocent of the hit and run charge, but he forgot to mention the indecent exposure, piracy, and public nuisance.

That I thought he had a groovy mustache.

That I wasn’t sorry as I laugh like a super villain.

That I didn’t mean to, oops, my bad.

That I regret nothing.

That I regret it all.

Was there one single thing I could say that would make him understand?

What would you say?

NO TRESPASSING (by morserj on Flickr)

DP Daily Prompt: Break the Silence

The Need For Speed

I’ve always liked going fast. It started on my Big Wheel way back when I was about the size of a garden gnome, and continued on to numerous other manner of moving objects. If it had potential for locomotion, then I wanted to ride it as fast as possible. It became bicycles, rollerskates, skateboards, or snowboards. One of my first near death experiences involved putting skateboard trucks and wheels on one of my dad’s old skis and plummeting down the hill in front of my house. I started bombing ever steeper paved surfaces on my rolling devices, searching for velocities capable of reducing me to a tumbling meatball had I lost my balance or hit an obstacle. Soon I started jumping off of things like cliffs, trees, and roofs, flinging myself into things like lakes, oceans, and the shallow ends of pools. As I got older it turned into motorcycles, surfboards, and fast cars, but I was never too picky. Shopping carts, sleds, wheelbarrows, mopeds, handcarts, ice skates, wheeled luggage. Barrel-rolling down hills in garbage cans. Cardboard surfing down grassy hillsides. If it had potential to go downhill fast then I wanted to race it.

Some assumed that my love of going fast equated to reckless abandon, and that my need for speed would leave me either paralyzed or permanently covered in road rash. But considering the amount of time I spent racing toward terminal velocity in my pursuit of the extreme, my injuries were not all that extreme. Some minor scrapes and bruises, a few broken fingers and various other non-essential bones, a couple concussions that probably gave me dain bramage. Every time I fell I wanted to get right back up and try again. Many assumed that my desire to tear myself away from gravity’s smack down and immediately re-attempt whatever maneuver had slammed me into the Earth was a sign of mental instability. But I saw it as a sign of mental toughness, my red badge of courage. I told myself falling down was not failure Refusing to get up  and try again was failure. Fall down seven times, get up eight, I said. I think I can, I know I can, oh shit I’m going down, I said. But no matter how many times I fell, no matter how many times I hit the ground like a deflated basketball, I wasn’t a failure until I stopped getting up and trying again. I realize that eventually we’ll all hit the ground one last time and never stand back up, but until then I’m going to keep on getting back up and coming back for more.

Now fast forward to my current state of middle age. I still like going fast, but hitting the ground is far more painful these days. I don’t feel the need for speed as deeply as I feel the need to avoid falling. How fast can I go without risking personal injury has become my new mantra. When I was younger I’d hit the ground and bounce back up to my feet before I felt the pain. These day I stick to ground like I am covered in velcro. It is getting harder and harder to fight against the relentless pull of the Earth. Some might view middle age as the beginning of the end. A  person is said to be over the hill, implying that it is all downhill from here and life will soon become a meaningless burden as you plummet toward touch down. Does that mean when you are younger it is all uphill? Do we spend our entire youths laboring against some metaphorical gravitational impediment?

If there is one thing that I’ve learned while racing through life on unorthodox vehicles of all sizes — the downhill is supposed to be the fun part. Enjoy the ride.

Posted for the DP Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move