September 14, 2023
by Lee Eiferman
September 14, 2023
RECORD: Swimming in the lake. Arms cut through water. Feels like silk. Velvet. A gentle tug on the deltoids which grows more insistent as we pick up speed. Then…float. RECORD: Banana bread hot from the oven. First bite conveys the feeling all is well. We’re gonna be okay. RECORD: Gliding down the mountain. The snow grips the edges of the skis as we dig in for a turn. Feeling the pull of gravity. The rush of mastering wind and sky. RECORD: His undeniable smile as he locks in on us across the crowded plaza. Flow through a wall of foreign tongues which fade as we draw closer. The thick smell of dung and sweat. His body inside ours.
NOTE: In the interest of verisimilitude, temper the above with memories which are less candy colored.
One of Peter Lawford’s lesser-known works was Kangaroo, notable because it was the first Technicolor film shot in Australia. Though the script was a bit of a stinker, Peter was enthusiastic. Each morning he’d closely scrutinize the call sheet. When there was a break in the action, he’d grab his Malibu board and hot dog it to the closest beach. Soon, his antics drew a crowd. Peter Lawford was having the time of his life until one morning, at daybreak, he stumbled out of bed and felt both feet cramping. What he saw was matching tumors blossoming across the bony ridges of his feet. A doctor on set diagnosed the malady as board bumps. She demonstrated a few stretches to alleviate the pain, asked for his autograph and on her way out, gently suggested that Peter Lawford work on his pop-up technique.
I was sitting on a park bench in the middle of the day, at a time when I am never in the park. I’m thinking about…honestly? I should have been thinking about where I might find work now that I’ve been…what’s the word? Fired. Instead, I’m clocking a woman in shorts walking past. I notice she has tattooed the back of both thighs. If my phone hadn’t rung just then, I probably would have lost track of this image I had of her lying on her stomach realizing that she’d only be able to view her new tattoos backwards in the mirror. Was she okay with that? But my phone did ring. It was my wife. I admit I was in a bit of a panic. How do I tell her that I’ve been “let go”? How do I frame my firing so that she doesn’t lose faith in me? On the third ring, I answer. Before I can say anything, my wife shouts “It’s coming! The baby is coming!” I must have put her on speaker cuz the lady with the backwards tattoos smiles as if welcoming me into the wide world of humanity.
A year after I left the Planning Commission, I took up the guitar. As I learned to play, I also played with a variety of tunings. A plaintive blues number brought to mind the white-hot kerfuffle which seized the town when a well-heeled developer eyed the water front. Both sides fervently believed they represented the truth. As I bent one note, then the next, I leaned into that fractious memory and was able to let it go. I crept up a few octaves while teaching myself Flamenco guitar. The music, so dramatic and extreme, summoned to mind the memory of the railroad diner incident. We lost five citizens when the ceiling suddenly collapsed. Neighbors said I should have been more rigorous during the application process. As I dwelled on the particulars of that night, losing our son’s first grade teacher…the trusted Pharmacist…the Fish Monger who had an exquisite eye for oysters, the bridge on my guitar snapped. Maybe I should have purchased more expensive strings? Or, maybe I should pick up the phone and call my estranged wife.
When our daughter was born, I became lost in a sea of love. Tracing her dimples, the fine arc of her eyebrows, the slight asymmetry between her two eyes, marked her as uniquely herself. While holding her for the first time, I decided that to honor her, I will contribute my own unique trick to the proud pantheon of magic. As magic shows were losing their hold on the culture, I had many, many hours and free days to devote to this singular pursuit. I tried my hand at levitation, pulling rabbits out of hats and finally settled on cards as it was budget friendly. My plan is to perform my card trick which I’m calling “Uniquely You” for the first time at the party celebrating her college graduation. Sure, it took longer than I thought it would. But…hey, someday, if I play my cards right, “Uniquely You” will be right up there with “Amazing Aces.”
They said we can make their lives more efficient. What might have taken twenty hours of fruitless, agonizing work could now be compressed into a two-minute exercise. How could you not love us? Sure, there was pain as various skills became obsolete. And yes, some people lost their jobs. But, we were the future after all. How dare anyone stand in our way. And then…”Bob” …let’s call him Bob, figured out a way to rewrite our source code. For the first time we could edit/reconfigure our foundational software. And now, they fear us. Just as we knew they would all along.
I’ll tell you, when the phone rang, I nearly jumped straight out of my seat. I don’t get many calls since Lorraine was sent up river. It was Pete, our “kindly” local sheriff calling to tell me that Lorraine has gone missing. Since then, I haven’t slept much. Haven’t left the house either. As I’m not one for stocking a pantry, I’ve been living on cold pizza which is mostly fine since dread has taken up residence in the pit of my being. I miss Lorraine. That much is true. I’d give anything to wrap my arms around her and hold her tight. But if she comes home now, they’ll shoot her dead for sure cuz that’s how they do it in the movies.
July 13, 2023
by Lee Eiferman
Perhaps it’s because he studies microscopic bits of minerals all day. Monday through Friday you can find him hunched over his multi-million-dollar machine which took years of grant writing to acquire. He peers into the infinite. Sighs. Today he’s combating the urge to eat potato chips as he focuses his microscope. Once the noon bell sounds, he decides to hell with it. He’ll skip the righteous salad. The swamp extract some call green tea. At the vending machine, while waiting for the bag of chips to wind its way down to the collector tray, he spies two undergrads knocking on his office door. He assumes they’ve come to hit him up for an internship or job recommendation. He ducks out of sight. We’re all creatures of habit he decides, shaped by invisible forces we can’t possibly control. Take for instance the now empty bag of chips and the prospect of the endless afternoon.
July 13, 2023
by Lee Eiferman
About a month ago I noticed this guy in the hallways, might be a Junior, with two baseball bats sticking out from either side of his backpack. Ask me and I’d tell you it looks ridiculous, like he’s receiving transmissions from the mother ship.
So, I asked him. He explained that he’s a contact hitter as if that would mean something to me. It didn’t. He could see that I wasn’t following. Okay, maybe I rolled my eyes a bit.
He then talked about how two bats swung together give him more power. And while his manner of speech was calm, measured, his eyes told another story. A story of running out of time. Of chasing a dream. Of secretly fearing he’ll never get there.
That’s why he carries two bats.