Craft · Fiction · Language

Phoebe, Intermezzo

On the Wednesday Phoebe was expecting a call from Glen, she received an air express envelope instead. Inside it were a set of keys, train tickets and itinerary, $500,000 in bearer bonds, an Oklahoma property deed with her name on it, the cell phone that he had purchased to speak exclusively to her, with this note written in Glen’s impeccable left-handed script:

You’re right, Phoe. I have been keeping something from you. You’re too perceptive. I need you to promise not to be stubborn about this. 

As you asked, I sold your dad’s property and invested the money in a property I think is just right for you. Take the train and go see it. My driver will meet you and take you to the cottage. If you like it, it is already yours. If not, you will have to sell it or dispose of it as you see fit. Yours is the last legal transaction I’m handling.

These past months have been the favorite part of my life. No one would believe all we did was talk … and listen to one another. I couldn’t love you more if I wanted to, but I will always love you, that’s certain.

I have to go, Phoe, and I will not be coming back. I’m not going to bother you with the details, but I know you have that wild imagination, so let me try to quiet it by saying I do have a medical problem for which I’m going to seek help. The prognosis is not good, but I know you’d want me to examine every possible angle and to fight. Even so, I don’t expect to return because however things go, I will not be in any shape to come back.

You always made this old man feel young. You made me remember and talk about things, people, places, experiences I hadn’t remembered in years.You talked with me. You listened to me. You gave me back my life, Phoe. Let me do this thing for you now. Don’t be stubborn.

You’ll like living near the river. Crew is big there. I want you go out and row for me. 

Don’t be sad, Phoebe. Just love me like you have, and remember me from time to time. I’m glad your heart overruled your head and you told me how you felt for me. If there is a way to talk to you from where I’m going, I’ll do it. 

Listen for me.



Craft · Fiction

Glen, Second Movement

Glen had not stopped thinking about Phoebe since, two months ago, she stepped into his office smelling of honey, spice, and soap. Her white dreadlocks cascaded to her waist, a nipped-in bit of a waist. She stood on the smallest feet he had seen on a contemporary woman. He wondered about those feet. Dancers often had horrible feet, feet that looked as if they’d taken a pounding. Glen didn’t believe that was the case with Phoebe’s feet. Too bad the weather didn’t permit peep- or open-toed shoes.

She was very understated, except for her locks and the twinkle of subdued merriment in her amber eyes. She wore a knitted black sheath, delicately patterned with tiny red roses, that hinted at the tight  body underneath. Phoebe was winsome.

Twenty minutes. That was a long as he’d been able to keep her in his office. After she left, he sat for ten minutes breathing in her scent before allowing the next client in. Glen knew he wanted her, but not simply for a night and certainly not undercover. What could he do? His wife was everything Phoebe was not and he was sorrier than ever that he’d bowed to convention and married a woman with whom he no longer had anything in common.

In the oddest moments, Glen found himself contemplating Phoebe. Her name was a mantra for him. He could not help himself. She hadn’t contacted him since the office visit, so he texted her, a thing he never did with clients. When she sent her number, he called immediately, wanting to hear her warm, low, throaty voice. In nervousness, he sounded surly, trying hard to cover his excitement. Now, he had a response to his meditations.

He murmured, all gruffness gone from his voice, “What should we do?”

“We? Do? I’m sure we should do nothing…but talk. This isn’t exactly my proudest moment, falling for a married man I met for a few minutes on business, but something about you…calls me? That is the only way I can express it right now. Perhaps, if you talk with me, I can work out what is happening. That you said “we” let’s me know I’m not in this alone?”

“Yes. I’m in, over my head, I’m sure, but I’m in.”

“Just one thing. I’m in no position to make any demands, but I have a request. Would you keep this just between us?”


Phoebe and Glen, A Love Song, First Movement

Glen, with one “n” because his mother was an economic and practical woman with a fondness for forests, was 75 but looked 50, a trim, neat 50. No puzzle gut on him. He was a swimmer and his body was a testament to the all-over good it does for toning and sculpting a body. Phoebe was 48 and pretty in a way that seemed to distract men to obsession. Petite, a dancer to keep herself in shape, she inspired protectiveness in some men that bordered on abusiveness and endangered her health, through no fault of her own. She was an avowed bachelor and so, was struck by the force of what she felt for Glen when they happened to meet. 

The feeling. How to describe it? A sudden dawning upon? An awareness of being inexplicably drawn to another. Instinct told Phoebe that she could not trust herself alone with this man.

Glen, too, felt or rather sensed something about this sprite of a woman, whom he’d met on a matter of business. She did not offer her hand. She was muslim though not hijabi, and followed the custom of not touching men who were not a member of her immediate family. Phoebe was never more grateful for the teaching for she felt that if she touched Glen, he would know her heart.

Not only was she celibate, Phoebe, on principle, didn’t do married men. Just because she didn’t believe in the institution as currently constructed didn’t mean she didn’t respect folks who chose to do that sort of traditional thing. The institution did offer certain benefits, but they were minimal when compared with freedom.

Glen and his wife offered Phoebe hospitality, which she accepted, briefly, before making her excuses. The business concluded for the moment, Phoebe returned home and put her experience of Glen behind her.

Glen reawakened the fire in her body when he texted her a few weeks later to tell her a development with the business. He had gently teased her about not staying in contact. Phoebe asked Glen to give her a call, and she gave him a private number to her secure line.

He called immediately, sounding gruff, irritated, and impatient.

“Yeah, yeah. What do you want to talk about?”

“I haven’t contacted you because I have the biggest crush on you and I am afraid of myself, afraid of what I feel…for you,” she blurted, almost stunned speechless by his tone.

The silence seemed long.

She could hear him slowly take in a deep breath and evenly release it before saying,”I wasn’t expecting you to say that, but I’m not disappointed.”

Class · Community · Diversions · ethnography · Fiction · News and politics · research · Sociology

Sourest of Grapes: A letter from the great-great-granddaughter of Jesse B. Semple


Hey, Grrl!

Mom told me that them Texas crackers didn’t ‘preciate seeing Black people doing better than they were. Didn’t like the fact that even though they had their collective foot on Black folks’ neck that they had better cars, better houses, dressed with style and flair, and the men had far more sexually exotic women.

My bf told me his dad would not drive the new car he’d earned working hard for Mr. Chawly every day because he’d never get another raise or promotion if he did.

Bronco Baama didn’t carry the white, working-class-wanna-be-middle-class men because they don’t like the fact that he’s got a better car, better house, is better dressed and has a wife who is way hotter than theirs. He irks Congress because he’s beaten them at their own game, broken down the gates of the last bastion of the good ol’ boys, and looks better while he plays.

Let us not forget he IS a lawyer. Indicating he’s better educated, well-traveled, intercultural, and while many have tried to question his birthplace, no one has challenged his credentials.  Yet, I heard Mittens call Bronco Baama a boy and a liar, in front of millions, with the recalling of one anecdote during the first presidential debate. He’s the mouthpiece of his undereducated, working-and-lower-class, underinformed, tea-party base (crackas), which is ludicrous as he’s rich as Croesus and hasn’t much of a clue about how the little people live, despite his experience as a Mormon bishop.

The last gasp of a redundant class smells of the sourest of grapes.

Chin-Chin; (I learned that watching Call the Midwife. I absolutely adore Chummy!)


Why Uncle Joe can do what he do