“I am like a cat, I have had nine lives,
but if nationalist forces in this country prevail,
my heart will burst.”
An air stewardess, who survived a 33,000 ft fall, dies aged 66. (source: BBC News)
Vesna Vulovic’s words touched me, especially from where we now stand, peering into 2017 with trepidation. Growing nationalism (with its inherent racism) not only in the USA or here in France, but across Europe and well beyond, is manifesting itself in a full spectrum of hatred–from racist innuendos to belligerent attacks.
She survived such a harrowing ordeal, yet chose not to live out her days in quiet repose, profiting from her celebrity status as was possible. Instead, she chose the hard, just road, going head to head with Serbian nationalism. Perhaps fate had spared her for this, her greater mission.
A softer landing this time, Vesna.
I’m proud to be a selected reader on the virtual book tour for Robert Vivian’s MYSTERY MY COUNTRY, a stunning collection of his dervish essays (a form of prose poem).
Like a revolving door spinning between realms material and spiritual—oneself and the Oneness—the reader has only to jump in to these pieces to be transported. To transcend.
Standing in white T-shirt, skivvies, and black socks, he slipped his ballistic body armor over his head like the cassock he’d worn as an acolyte. Its weight thumped his back, then chest. Bringing wide Velcro straps around to grasp the sides, the Kevlar plates flattened his paunch and rolls of fat on his lower back. But this would not protect him.
So he slipped on his uniform—dark blue trousers and cerulean shirt—hands working free of the mind, spider legs climbing up his front, button to button. Shirt into pants, belt through loops, leather taut through buckle. Then a second belt, metal-leaden black leather held out before him like a deadly snake he must dispatch, not sure if it will do him in first. When it had spun around to hang straight, he whipped it behind him, snatching it with a blind hand and bringing it around to join at his waist with a snap. His hands slid over the polished leather from both sides, handcuffs and pepper spray, his holster on the right and a metal ring on the left. Reaching for his nightstick by the handle jutting 90° from its length, he threaded it through the ring on his belt, and dropped it to hang there. Hands on stick and holster he gathered his courage, but these could not protect him.
So he took to his pickup, a violet dawn just now breaking. He drove Stanton to Maple, McGrath to Main; at the corner of Fifth, he screeched his tires turning left into headquarters, pulling into his old space. He unsnapped his holster. Raising his pistol with his right, the thumb of his left hand pressed into holes in his shirt where his shield had once hung, but even that would not protect him now.
So he cocked back the hammer, guiding the matte-silver barrel of his service 38 into his mouth, its sight scrapping his palate. Squeezing the trigger in his quivering index, the hammer clicked, a dry percussive sound felt through his skull. Taking the pistol from his mouth, he wiped the barrel off on his pants and returned it to his holster, snapping it shut. The photo of his wife looked back at him from the dashboard, but from where she was now, she could not protect him.
So he backed from the parking spot, wondering if the gun would be loaded next week, and if so, what would protect him then.
One year ago today my father “disappeared”—that’s how they would say it here in France: “mon père a disparu.” It really feels that way to me, as if my dad had been suddenly abducted and might just be in the other room now, or a phone call away. I could say that one year ago I lost my father. That feels right, too, because who really knows where kind men like him go when their time here is through. But his soul was simply too young to leave us altogether, his curiosity too vigorous. I wish to live long enough to cross his reincarnation on the street with a smile, or feel the cool shadow of his wingspan pass overhead—because I know my father always wished to fly.
Lost, but there are clues: every obscure village I find on a map; last week, mesmerized by a piece of experimental music, thirty-minutes of one note repeating, resolving to its octave, its ghost; sharing something new, original, and challenging with my children as he had done with me, as I would like to now with him, again. So many things I would like to do again or say again. Things I would like to say for the first time, though we made sure to say the important things. Better late than never.
Lost, but not so very far to find, you are with me on this day—with love—as I suspect you will be until my day. And beyond.
I’m hosting a Historical (Flash) Fiction contest through my publisher, Folded Word Press.
DEADLINE: 15 MAY 2015
- Choose a well-known historical event as your subject.
- In 500 words or less, write a flash fiction* story about that event, but done in such a way that the reader must discover which event you’ve chosen (rather than being told).
- Do not refer to a known historical character by first or last name.
- Do not refer to the setting by proper name (region is okay).
- Do not mention the year or time period, such as “1776”, “the 1700s,” or “the 18th century.” Instead, give clues to the time period via other information.
See link below for further details: