Check Out

He didn’t really cut in front of me at the grocery check out. I was standing a
few feet out motioning to my wife that this would be a better lane, and she
should come with the cart. It was just weird how he had ducked in front of me when my back was half turned. He was about my age with a gray beard more
unkempt than mine. We both wore glasses and knit hats, his black and mine blue,
and we both wore ratty old hoodies. His had oil and grease stains, mine had wood chips all up the front. There were only three things in his basket, milk, hot dogs, and bananas so I didn’t really care if he went first, but I guess I made a face.
“Hey man, sorry I got in front of you, but you know” he said, gesturing
towards his head and widening his eyes,” I was like in Vietnam, you know.”
“Don’t matter” I said. “really don’t matter, and I know what you mean.
Coming in here my wife told me I was driving on the wrong side of the road,
and this morning I had to return a video, and left it off at the wrong place, so
I know.”
“Some people…”
“Yeah, some people. Tell you what, you can owe me a banana.”
He looked around theatrically, pulled a banana off his bunch and went to slide it into my pocket.
“No man, don’t do that”, I said putting it back on the counter with the rest,
“what about the monkeys, don’t want them to go hungry.”
“Yeah, the monkeys, ha-good one.”
By then the cashier was getting impatient with this guy. She wanted him to take his
change and move on, and my wife who had been enjoying the show had finished loading our stuff on the belt and wanted to get going too.
My new friend turns to my wife and says;
“You better keep an eye on this guy! Ha ha, he needs help!”
“ Oh I will” she says, “I’ve been keeping hm out of trouble for a long time.”
During this he had dropped his change on the floor, then drops the rest of his money when he goes to pick it up. I help him, but he has $10 stuck under shoe
and it takes a minute for us to get that straightened out.
“Gheez, you better drive”, he says to my wife.
She laughs and promises that she will.

Doug Mathewson

Recent Word Smudges

High Up

Mt. Rainier snow line
hooligan crows tumbling
high, high, crystal blue skies

Doug Mathewson

Memory Quiz

Looking in the rear view
to see what color
that light actually was

Doug Mathewson

Ill Timed

Not one parking space
Monday after Thanksgiving
at the YMCA

Doug Mathewson

 

Sunday Afternoons

Long time ago, when I was first back, it was set up that I’d have this studio
apartment near the park. Just use the name “Walt Sizemore” they said, and the place was mine. It was up on the third floor and looked out over a ball field.
On Sundays, during the good weather, there would usually be a softball game.
I’d nurse my hangover and half read the paper, half watch the game.
I was spooky back then about talking to people outside the center, so watching
the game from my balcony was all the socializing I could handle.

Doug Mathewson

Fender Bender

Maybe three hundred yards north of the police station, maybe less, there was a car accident. Nobody was hurt but the red car hit the back of the blue car hard enough that the red one now sat in the wrong lane, and the blue one was on somebody’s lawn with it’s trunk stuffed in.
It must have just happened. A few cars were stopped, pulled over to see what would happen next. I noticed that out of the nearby houses had come men, all men, and all bout my age. Retirement aged, and they were all talking on their smartphones. There were five or six of these guys and I thought it was funny,
them calling the cops when the police station was within sight. Anybody in the
parking lot would have heard the crash, and by now traffic was backed up past
their front door. Also I noticed none of these guys were wearing legitimate pants.
I don’t mean they were unclothed, just they had on pajama bottoms, lounge pants,
sweat pants, one older gent was wearing tennis whites!
So what happened to wearing pants once your retire? I’m not being picky about
jeans, or what ever constituted “business casual”, or anything but pants with a
drawstring and no zipper just don’t count.
The brilliance of my insight was dimmed somewhat when I realized I was wearing
my old dark blue sweat pants, but I have an excuse! I was coming home the gym, and did intend to change. Well, change after I run some errands, and check my email, and have lunch, and do some stuff around the yard.

Doug Mathewson

 

Take Out

Take out

While underlining what she especially liked on the take out sushi menu, she laid out what I was to get. Then she underlined the sushi she hated, and other ones that would be poor choices for different reasons so I would know not to get them. Then she went through menu a third time and underlined all the sushi that would be okay, as backups if the first choices were not available today.
She stayed to welcome any early arrival luncheon guests, and I drove to the sushi place with the menu in my pocket.
My memory is still pretty good still, but my concentration wanders, so when I got to the sushi place and looked at the little menu and almost everything on it was underlined! I had no idea what to do.
Good thing there’s a pizza place in the same plaza.

Doug Mathewson

Tea Time

Tea Time
“Don’t put your tea where the cats can get it.”
“Oh, they must like the milk.”
“Yes, yes they adore having milk.”
I agreed but knew it was the caffeine they were after.
How else could they tear around the house all night?
Doug Mathewson

Inky

This is 50 words right on the button, a format I dearly love. It was recently published (by me) at Blink-Ink www.blink-ink.org So take a look see right here and now. Thanks.

Inky

After an alarming number of rapid twitchy side to side glances, Isabella spoke. “This is such and Inky story” she nervously whispered, switching personas. It was only then I noticed she had somehow enameled playing cards on all of her teeth. Spades on the top, and hearts on the bottom.

Doug Mathewson

The Way Back Home

Here we have another visitation from our dear companion Kitty Wang, everyone’s favorite time refugee. A publication in the UK was having an issue on “Foreign Travel”, or “Traveling Abroad” or something along those lines. A friend of a friend asked me to write something so I did. At 400 plus words it was declared too long, so I cut it to 299 words overnight and resubmitted. I was assured they said of being “long listed”. Little did I know that apparently in the UK “long list” is about the same as “shit list” is over here. So here is my shit listed piece, in it’s full length wide screen version complete with all the charming details and clever asides. My friend got long listed too.

The Way Back Home

The problem never seemed to be where you were going, it was more about where you were coming from. Having to establishing a plausible place of departure. Kitty Wang was well accomplished at navigating customs with their baby-steps of logic. Normally she kept a portfolio of travel documents that would be useful in any situation, but this time she had been caught off guard. Kitty is one of those rare people afflicted with “Billy Pilgrim’s Disease”, a condition where sufferers become “unstuck in time”. Without warning she could be swept away to absolutely anywhere, future, past, or “other”, her name for alternate universes. Most recently she had been swept into a remote portion of the Austro Hungarian Empire, charming enough of course, but not new to Kitty who was intent on getting back home. Choosing where to get back into our worlds travel document system is key. Letters of transit and safe passage from a long dead Duke are of no use.

Kitty had often slipped back in at Carnival, where ever it might be. Any small country whose economy depends on tourism is forgiving of paper work problems which can be overlooked. Kitty often plays the part of a circus performer and promise the examiner free tickets. Other reentry scenarios involved being an airship captain attending a UK Steampunk festival, or shouting incomprehensible slogans to all questions regarding her attendance to a World Cup match. This time getting back might be harder. She didn’t have any of her “good” passports with her. Her worse case back up passport was a long out of date, tattered, and pre-digital. At least the photo in this one was Kitty, but there were so many conflicting dates from the future and distant past along with validations from places that don’t exist yet. It would have to do.

The single engine propeller airplane taxied close to the only building near the unpaved landing strip. It was a small one story concrete block combination laundromat, convenience store, bus station, and customs house. Inside the lone
government representative, an older gentleman with a badge pinned to his sleeveless mess shirt, flipped pages trying to make chronological sense of things. Finally Kitty said “I’m sorry, you can see how difficult this is.
The passport was actually my grandmother’s. She was a powerful witch, and I use it in her memory”. With eyebrows up, and rubber stamp down, he called out “Next”!
Doug Mathewson

 

Kitty and Vincent, Sitting in a Tree

My friend Catfish McDaris asked me to write something about Vincent van Gogh for a book he is publishing in the Netherlands. I didn’t think I really had much to say or add on the topic, especially that the book is over 500 pages so far, but Catfish kept after me so I wrote this, which will be published under a different title. Thanks Catfish!

Kitty and Vincent, Sitting in a Tree

My friend Kitty Wang, wanted to get together so I could meet her new boyfriend. She’d had a few over the years but nobody she wanted to show off like this guy. It’s hard to imagine she’d be looking for my approval but who knows? We work out of the same office, just she’s not around much. Kitty has that same thing with time that Billy Pilgrim had where you just become “unstuck” and get moved through the years back and forth with no warning. That’s where her old boyfriends had come from, all different eras, distant places in time. I guess that’s why I never got to see them.
So we meet up at this hip new place Kitty likes. She always catches on to the trendy-trends. This place is micro-brews, kale salads, with strange and exotic paninis. It’s nice to see her. She’s with this guy who she introduces as “Vincent”. She says he’s a painter and doesn’t speak much Americanese. He seems nice enough, a little odd maybe, but so what? We order and sit down. Me on one side of Vincent and Kitty on the other, then I notice he only has one ear. As you might imagine Kitty has put herself on the side with the ear and is filling it up with gushes and giggles in something I don’t speak. He’s smiling and flirting right back so I’m odd man out and start drawing on my napkin. That’s what I do at work. I draw (not on napkins usually) art for some of the books and comics we publish. Mostly I do science fiction and fantasy. Maybe horror or romance if we’re slow. Anyway I’m drawing spacemen and moon maids and old Vincent gets real excited and starts drawing in all this amazing background stuff. Big starry night skies behind my guys with ray-guns, and pin-up girls riding six legged purple space bears.
We were both laughing like crazy and shaking hands, when the food came and Kitty told us quit it. Knock it off and get back to lunch.

Doug Mathewson

 

16th

We meet at “Lou’s Liquor-n-Lotto” every month on the 16th, which is funny since neither one of us drink.
Assistance Checks come in on the 15th, so she is there to make her Grand Father’s bad check good, and I’m there to pick up the walker my Mom was forced to abandoned so she could carry home two cases of beer.

Doug Mathewson