Yes, Someone Keeps Leaving Flowers On My Front Doorsteps

Flowers by Hudley

It was my true days of independent living on the east coast where I learned to be truly responsible for others besides myself. I was alone living in the maid’s room converted into an apartment of a four-story lovely old Victorian house. 1990.


“Can I buy you another coffee?” I said to the man I called Desperado.

Walking to work I often saw Desperado. He also shared a room at the Victorian house.  He hung out at the local coffee shop otherwise he hit the booze.  He symbolized the furthest I have been away from California dreaming. That song synchronized embarrassment every time it played on the radio,

“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey. I have been for a walk on a winter’s day. I’d be safe and warm if I were in LA, California dreaming on such a winter’s day”

Rochester New York is humid-hot-thunder storms in the summer and freezing in the winter.  Walking through tunnels made of snow made me shiver; sometimes the two native American chiefs were lying on the street. One evening they recited Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.  Broken bottles framed around them as they shouted,

“Vainly I had sought to borrow,

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore.”

Then they chanted together,

“We went to the best colleges in the country!”

They made me laugh.

I just listened and observed that autumn and winter. The only time my eyes lit-up is when I went to the local bar. One, two, three, four shots turned upside down. It was not to set me up for a quick date. It was a friendly gesture of east coast drunks.  I felt safe here where the men danced together.

My white nurse outfit and nurse shoes took me to the untouchables of the city. I was not cared about, so I tried to care about others, those that were almost dead to the world.

One late evening while walking back to my apartment from work, a New York detective greeted me. The neighborhood was blocked off with yellow tape.

“Nurse could you step over here I need to talk to you?”

“I am not a nurse.  I work at the local Visiting Nurses Association as a Home Health Aide.” He then asked where I lived, and I told him.

“Miss, a woman was murdered across from your home. Have you noticed anything unusual over the last few days?”

“Yes, someone keeps leaving flowers on my front doorsteps.”

He smiled, but Mr. Detective did not seem interested and then said quickly,

“A body was dumped in the large trash dumpster across from where you are now living… we need you to call this number if you see anything unusual.” He handed me his card.

I was screaming in my head as my heart raced. Thinking to myself,

“That dark alley…  the one I walk pass almost every night?”

I had enough of those Serial killers on the west coast. Did they have to follow me here as well? I was not so far away from home as I imagined.

Darkness is everywhere.


Meat for the Giants

“Mom, read me a story tonight.”

“Well OK, I will read you a Grimm’s Fairy Tale.”

I opened the book to wherever the giant book of fairy tales would take me. I just  happened to open the book to Ferdinand the Faithful. I sat underneath the white metal bunk bed on the red futon and began to read the story to my son.

Of course my head was racing with thoughts while reading the story to him. Tomorrow is going to be my son’s first day in middle school.

This was as strange to me as the fairy tale I was reading. Here there are talking fish and talking white horses with magic pens and keys to open up a castle standing on a heath. A heath what is that? Oh yes, a tract of open and uncultivated land.

That is what I was feeling, uncultivated land? My eleven year old is going to make a new start away from me on a new adventure, and unless I find an invisible cloak tonight to follow him, I must let him go on his journey … alone.

I am hopeful because Ferdinand made friends and they helped him along his adventure while riding his white horse. He even outsmarted  the bully Ferdinand the Unfaithful.

Life is like a fairy tale. I have taught my son much of what he needs to know about life. The story helps too, it  even eased the tension in me and  helped my son go to sleep.

 If he is honest,  helpful and strong my son will have meat for the giants and bread for the birds. He will have a flute to call the fish for help.

“He, however always rode on his white horse, and once when he was seated on it, it told him that he was to go on to the heath which he knew and gallop three-times round it. And when he had done that, the white horse stood up on its hind legs, and was changed into a King’s son.”

~ Ferdinand the Faithful, Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales. Fall River Press

A Lark down Hollywood Blvd with Marilyn Monroe

I wanted to be treated as a human being who had earned a few rights since her orphanage days. ~ Marilyn Monroe 

Ruth took this picture. Holly with Flowers.

The Crusstos moved into my neighborhood when I was twelve. This meant saying goodbye to my best friend Wayneo who left the same house they moved in to… I was sad.  The neighborhood parents talked about the new neighbors John and Ruth.

Ruth had beautiful red henna hair and a slim figure which she always showed off. I heard she once was a dancer in Las Vegas. I did not always listen to her stories. I wish I could go back now and listen more intently. I do remember what she told me about Marilyn Monroe.

Ruth also came from a troubled past. She met Marilyn when they were living at a boarding house for young girls without families.

“Norma was her name then.” Ruth said.

“You knew an actress like her?”

“Norma always was a little dramatic with her gestures…she was not an actress then…we were just a couple of teenagers who liked going out on a lark.”

“What do you mean?”

“Norma and I would often break out at night and walk Hollywood Blvd and have so much fun together.”  Then Ruth said, “She was a wild girl, that Norma.”

Looking at Ruth she still had a wildness about her.  She pronounced her words very clearly and often made comments to me on how to pronounce words properly.  One thing I knew about her, that I found very strange, is that she did not wear underwear under her dresses or pants.  The neighbor parents talked!

John Crussto was a Fire Chief at the local fire-station. Ruth was a waitress at a local steakhouse on Ventura Blvd. I often saw Ruth drink her liquor straight up.

Ruth taught me how to put on mascara.  It was vintage Maybelline mascara in a little red box.  She carefully showed me  by holding a little black mascara comb with a generous supply of maschera up to her eyelashes. Then she let the eyelashes do the work by blinking. The blinking put a generous supply of makeup on her eyelashes

There was always music playing on the stereo at the Crusstos. Frank Sinatra’s hit song “Tramp” was her favorite song.

Looking back I am amazed that at fifty Ruth could still kick her leg up as high as a girl in a chorus line, just be careful where you were looking.

fin

Minor Threat, The Beatles and Straight Edge~Twinkies or potato chips.

(This is an embellished non-fiction memory. I am always open to comments that differ from my memories. The 80s went by fast and so much happened; besides there were countless bands we dealt with on a constant basis… my mind does play tricks on me….)


001 - Copy (3)
Flipside Issue # 34

 

When I think about the few times the Minor Threat/ Dischord boys came to visit the Flipside house, I think about how they were, such as the color of Ian’s eyes while waiting in their traveling Van. The waves crashing as we sat there not speaking. Everyone else was surfing and yes, they are a beautiful blue.  The boys, wanted to go surf with Al. Maybe I smile at the debates we had over being Straight Edge. Yes, they were Straight Edge, but the van was filled with wrappers from terrible sweets like Twinkies and cans from drinking soda. Salty potatoes chips too. I was not Straight Edge because I like to drink beer. I stressed that this did not stop me from my goals or my path but eating sweets and drinking soda would kill me. We debated about crazy stuff like that.

So much time has passed, and memories come and go but what I am sharing today is a funny piece of punk rock history.

I knew that Ian MacKaye liked the Beatles. I sent him some stationary that I made up just for him. I forgot about it. A year or so later he sent me this letter with this check. I kept it all these years in a journal. I wonder if Dischord Records or Al would mind if I cash it now?

 

(based on my memory…some of it may be embellished by events that are merged together…  fugazi guys…. kind of like Twinkies or potato chips)

 

 


I wish all of us old punks stood by each other.. sadly this is not always the case..

 

Beer and Burlesque

Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which itself derives from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery

Making lunch for my husband  and older son one summer day I announced,

“I want to take five weeks off and learn Burlesque !”

“All right , that would be great to get you out of here” said my son.

My husband was silent and seemed perplexed but calm.  I went on to tell them about a program in Seattle Washington that teaches Burlesque. It is for all ages. I began to tell the history of the Burlesque and about Vaudeville. We happened to be watching  Gypsy the 1962 musical. This film is  about the famous Burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee. They walked in on me and the film before lunch.

“I really don’t walk to hear this” said my son a couple of times.

So he went into the computer room to Skype out with his game-scary fiends.  I then continued to talk telling my husband that as an older woman of fifty-four I think it would be curious to get in touch with that fun and sexy side of myself again.

“Five weeks… is too long” he said.

I said with a convincing  voice and with great  concern,

“As a woman gets older she becomes invisible. She is not a maiden anymore and definitely not a grandmother-old-woman yet, and because I only have a wee bit of estrogen in my left toe, I think it would be fun to get those female juices going again?”

“But five weeks” he said again.

I then went on to tell him that after I learn the art of Burlesque  wouldn’t it be fun to open a small Burlesque house. We could have a bar that serves local micro brewery beers and maybe even food.

“Hell, we could have bands play and bring back Vaudeville. We could ask comedians and acts to perform as well!!” I yelled!

Then the twenty year old son yelled from the computer room,

“Why would you want to make a fool of yourself like that, you are insane, but getting you away from here for some time would be great.”

“Five weeks.. is a long time” said my husband for the third and last time.

Silence fell on the topic as my husband and I finished watching the film Gypsy. I then said with passion,

“Ya see it is fun and they just tease. These women are interesting  they are not slimy strippers that take all their clothes off  in a degrading way.  It is an art form… it is Burlesque. In a way it is making fun of all that in a creative way.”

The conversation stopped but I was still dreaming  and thinking how fun it could be. I then whispered with a giggle and sly grin,

“Beer and Burlesque sounds good  to me!!”

Two Praying Mantis non-fiction short stories.The Gossamer White Praying Mantis and The Crystal Bowl:

Watercolor Praying Mantis Mandula by Hudley
Watercolor Praying Mantis Mandula by Hudley

Gossamer White Praying Mantis

A dream:  In this dream I came upon my cat Flash tying to jump up to capture and then eat a big beautiful white Praying Mantis. She was resting on some crawling rosemary in front of the house. I was focused when the Praying Mantis spoke to me,

“Do not be concerned with me and what the cat is doing!” I was concerned because I witnessed the eating of a few Praying Mantis the past summer. “I am a huntress too!” She whispered to me. “We both hunt for food and that is a wild part of our nature.”

I then realized the truth of what she said. She was not afraid of my cat nor was she afraid of death. “I know your cat. He has been hunting in this garden for many seasons, as my family has. Didn’t you see one of my babies eat a butterfly?”

I had to agree with her and I was not pleased with that.

Then a breeze blew on us and she spread her white gossamer wings and flew away. I awoke remembering this dream.

 

The Crystal Bowl

When we first moved into to our house I was amazed how the pesticides used created such an imbalance with the insects, birds, and animal in our garden.  It took me many years to reach a balance there that I have today. We once had an avalanche of crickets and black widows galore. Yet with time I befriended the Praying Mantis. This is a short story about my first encounter with a Praying Mantis. The Mantis has helped in the balance of our garden without pesticides.

One day while dusting the house, I dusted a big crystal bowl on the kitchen table. It was usually filled with fruit and vegetables. I looked outside the French widows and saw a big golden Praying Mantis resting on a white plastic chair.  She was gazing in the house at me.  Every day throughout the summer Praying Mantis would come to visit on the chair. I did not know the focus of this Mantis’s gaze. I thought maybe me. I soon found out what it was. A few weeks later I dusted the crystal bowl and reached behind it. I heard a loud screaming shriek. Looking with amazement I found a Praying Mantis there. I looked around and saw that the door was open from the back garden. She came into the house to be near the crystal bowl.  The light of the multifaceted crystal must have fascinated this Mantis.  This is only the beginning of my many experiences with the Praying Mantis from my garden.  I think our life together, on this planet, is about nature and the changing seasons.  She shows me the cycles of life, death and rebirth and affirms that I have nothing to fear!

The Haunting Flash Mystery

It was a late spring night leading to the hot nights of summer. Sunday at BJ’s got the old appetite going just right. Arriving at 10 pm seemed like an easy sitting for some food and a few beers, yet this was not the case. We were handed a restaurant blinker and the wait began. We went outside to wait under the night sky sitting on the red brick. We watched women in their stilettos, young men and their dates, groups of computer nerd men and happy families coming and going from the late night pub. This evening something strange happened. I did something I usually do not do. I started to scan the hotel Hilton a couple of parking lots across the way.  I would say this Hilton is a 20 story high Hotel. Some nagging thoughts came to mind,

“Look at the lights in the rooms” and “I wonder if I could see any people in these rooms?”

As I scanned the now black and white hotel I realized how the rooms looked fairly empty. Some curtains were drawn and some open, a few lights on.  Then one room pulled me in as a focus magnet. It grabbed me in. I could hear my family talking besides me. Yet, time blurred and I felt time slow down as well. In my view was a large big screen TV monitor which was the size of the hotel room. It was unique and the image was set back but I could tell what it was. The image was the movement of soft hues of blue and it was moving around and around in the dark room. I thought to myself,

“How strange it is to see this, There are not any other room like this one!”

Flash. I saw a flash. This flash lit up the room like an electrical storm, and then I saw the flash again and again go off.  My senses were on edge and my focus was even pulled deeper not knowing at first what pulled me like water down a drain into this drama that was unfolding before my eyes. My over curious mind told me,

“I know that light, it is the flash from a camera, and it is quick and bright and blinding.”

Seconds later the lights in the room were turned on and I viewed the back of a man. No one else was in the room that I could see. He had on a white shirt with long sleeves, a black tie  and he had black hair, wavy black hair. He was a husky man. The room was still dimly lit. Then he took some more shots with his camera. It looked like he was taking his pictures on his camera towards the large TV screen from different angles.  The light from the room went off completely in moments. He continued to take more shots with his camera. Then it stopped.  I was slightly aware of talking next to me again and of people coming and going around me. I clearly said to myself,

“This is so strange and I feel awkward about this, why am I continuing to stare?”

In another moments time he took another picture in the dark. It flashed and lit up the room. I noticed him clearly behind the flash of the camera. He was taking the shot in the direction towards the outside of the hotel room. I woke up and my mind yelled,

“What? He has turned around and is taking pictures from his hotel room of this town, of this restaurant?”

I was shocked like the electric flash of his camera.

“Has he caught me looking at him? Is he communicating to me by flashing his camera my direction?”

The room was far enough away and high enough  not to catch my gaze from the inside of a hotel room. Yet in my mind I was thinking,

“Oh my, he has sensed me, he found my interest. Why is he taking these pictures, of whom is he capturing in his camera in the room? I see no one else there?”

I did not want to watch anymore so I slowly with great strength moved my stare away from the room. I noticed from my peripheral vision that the flash went off a few more times, and as my gaze stopped so did the flashes. The room faded and the restaurant’s blinker went off.  Our time had come to go into the restaurant. We waited only 10 minutes, but my heart was racing from this awkward experience as we walked into BJ’s. The black and white of the night died to the warm bright colors of the pub inside and as I took my first drink of beer I let my paranoid thoughts melt away.

“Will he be waiting for us when we leave; was I a witness to something unspeakable or on the edge of the diabolical?

Unpublished Works@ Hudley Flipside June 2012