Thursday, 18 January 2018

When I Was Out Walking

 
Sometime while I was out walking, the wind changed,
No longer at my back with my face always towards the sun,
It cuts a sheer cold front that takes my breath away,
And steals the words out of my mouth,
Names are harder to recall and thoughts are grainy,
It blows the dust of time into my eyes,
Causing them to stream and flow with tears,
Friends wander into the fog and don’t return,
Sometime while I was out walking, the wind changed,
Never to blow this way again. 


bobby stevenson 2018

Monday, 15 January 2018

Enough Sunshine For Everyone



That summer, that sultry humid one, in ’46 was the hottest on record. She still remembers it. How could ever she forget?




From her apartment window on the first floor she could view most of the comings and goings for a block. And she never got bored. Never.  There was always the odd soldier returning home from the war overseas. Those kids in khaki would run up the sidewalk throwing themselves into the arms of lovers, mothers, brothers, kids, and wives and always the same hugs, as if to say: ‘I’m home – let’s never be so stupid again’. 


Before the war, there had been Edith and her son, Eugene. Now Edith was alone. Her last letter from her only son had come from a prisoner of war camp in the Far East. That was two years ago, and she still had heard nothing. She felt that if he was dead she would know, and she was sure she could still feel the tick of his heart in the universe.

When Eugene, or Gene as the liked to be known, was eight years old, he had 
run out in front of an automobile which had been speeding up Montrose. The car clipped her son and knocked him flying back on to the sidewalk. Her boy, her love, had been in a coma for six weeks before he had opened his eyes again. Edith had never, ever prayed so much in her life.

It was the Japanese lady on the second floor who had saved Gene’s life. She was a nurse and had been approaching home after a double night shift at St Edwards, when she saw the automobile hit Eugene. She had given him the kiss-of-life until the ambulance had arrived. Her name was Hana Tanaka, and after that accident, both Hana and Edith had become close friends.

When Eugene lay unconscious in St Edwards, Hana would come around to the room and sit with Edith during her darkest hours. In fact, Hana had been attending Gene when he first opened his eyes.Hana had given Edith the good news in the morning.

“You and your son deserve happiness, after all, isn’t there there is enough sunshine for everyone,” said Hana, as she hugged Edith.

The war ended, and many folks danced and kissed their way up and down Montrose Avenue. Edith watched most of it from the safety and sterility of her apartment window. She couldn’t party until she knew her boy was home and safe.

It was in the Spring of 1946, that George, a single man, who had also been captured by the Japanese, moved into Edith’s apartment block. George tended to keep himself to himself, but on the odd occasion when Edith passed him in the corridor, Edith would exchange a ‘hello’. She was desperate to ask if he had seen or talked to her son, but she never seemed to get the chance.

So it was in shock that Edith found herself in the backyard of the apartment block that sultry summer in 1946, staring into the face of George as he held a knife to Hana’s throat.

“Goddamn Japs! Ain’t no good. Ain’t no good at all, with what these folks done to me,” shouted George as he pressed the knife closer to Hana’s neck. Edith was sure she could see some blood appearing. From a top window across the way, a woman signalled to Edith that she was going for help. Until then, Edith would have to think of something quick.

“This woman, George – can I call you George? – This woman saved the life of my boy right outside here a few years back,” said Edith.
“Don’t care if she did, don’t care if she didn’t,” said George. “She’s a Jap and they all deserve to die.”
“Why George?” Asked Edith.
“Just ‘cause, just ‘cause. Just ‘cause of what they did to me and every other poor soul. They is the devil. They is the devil. They surely are”. Edith noticed a tear running down George’s face, and so decided that now was the time to act.
“She saved my boy’s life, George. What kind of devil does that George? Tell me? You can’t blame Hana for the sins of others. She’s a kind decent heart and deserves to be treated as such. She grew up here, George. She’s an American. She’s proud of being an American. She is love, George. Love. You understand?  After she saved my boy’s life, she sat with him day and night tending to his every need. She’s an angel, George. She ain’t a devil.  Know what she said to me, George? Hana said we all deserve happiness. Each and every one of us. I know folks out there did some pretty bad things to you, George. Things you might not forgive, but it wasn’t Hana. Not this gently lady. Hana said to me that there’s enough sunshine for everyone and I think she’s right George. I surely do”.

George thought for a bit, then dropped to his knees. Edith picked up the knife and throw the object as far as she could. The cops never arrived that day and a few weeks later George disappeared.

Edith still stands on the steps of her apartment waiting for her boy, Eugene to walk home up Montrose avenue.  She still has hope in her heart.

bobby stevenson 2018

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Man From Montana



It was on a mild Spring Thursday morning when it happened. No church bells, or fireworks, or even a spontaneous applause marked the occasion; for on that Thursday, at 9.24am, the last book that had been read was closed for the very last time.

It’s not as if anyone could have failed to see it coming. For years people had read their stories on little pads – never having the satisfaction of turning and folding paper pages. The population would binge on streaming drama, and comedy, and documentaries from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and a million others. 

People didn’t want to read anymore – because with reading meant bringing your imagination to work – and that took time which no one could spare.
You see it wasn’t just books – for, not long after the last book was read, the electronic versions, also got discarded. Reading was so last decade. To be honest, most folks found it difficult to write in anything other than EstuaryText (ET): ‘You’re’ had become, ‘Your’, had transmuted into ‘UR’. Slogans were written in ET. Shop signs and street signs, the same. Mostly graphics provided information – the way you knew where a toilet was, or a car parking, back in the 20th century.

But there was still the need for stories, meaning there was always a requirement for story writers. Sure, people read scripts for movies – but the words were projected immediately in front of them. No one needed to commit lines to memory.  Some of the team of media writers would still use old methods to record their thoughts for stories – but these were the exception.

Then it happened – one day, about 130 years after the last book had been read, a man turned up who had spent his early life in the hills of northern Montana. 

He had grown up with his grandmother, in a small cabin. He had hunted and fished, and in the evenings, his grandmother told him stories that had been handed down through the generations. His favourite story was one called ‘Great Expects’ – which had been written by a man called Chuck Dikkens, apparently this dude had written stories in sections, and would sell them bit by bit, leaving the readers excited about what would take place next. Of course, they had to buy the next instalment to see what had occurred.

This man from Montana, called Aster, decided that perhaps he could be like Chuck Dikkens and create stories.

At first, they were verbal. He would drone-travel around the town and tell a story or two. Most folks told him to be quiet while they would binge inside on their latest streamer, but one or two listened and asked him when he would be back with the next story.  Two became four, which became fifty, then a hundred. Aster’s visits would be greatly anticipated.

One of those listening to Aster’s stories was a woman by the name of Fara. She had studied stories and story making, and this included a rudimentary understanding of a written language, once known as EstuaryText.  She started to convert Aster’s stories into Text Speak – and one day, when she had the courage, she showed it to him. Of course, there could be anything written in the strange shapes – according to Aster. So, to appease him, Fara taught him all she knew about writing language. Eventually Aster not only told his stories but handed out single page leaflets which contained the same in Text. Not many could read these stories to begin with, but after Sara started up a class in town, more and more folks began to understand what the shapes meant.

More than a few folks got excited, as they had probably done, several hundred years before with the stories of Chuck Dikkens and – okay, so it wasn’t a book – but people began to read for pleasure and the world lightened a little.

And perhaps one day, maybe in the far-distant future, books would come back and be read on hillsides.

bobby stevenson 2018
painting: Quint Bucholz.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

You Think You Have Time



You think you have time,
To be annoyed, or to be angry,
To not speak, or not call.
You think you have time,
To work up the courage to say hello,
Or tell the one you want, that you love them.
You think you have time,
To consider this, or ponder that,
Or shrug and say, next week I will,
You think you have time,
To return a long-lost kindness,
Or make a long-held deal.
You think you have time,
To begin to learn to love yourself,
And to cease the worrying in your heart,
But you don’t,
And you won’t,
And you probably never will;
Because you see, you think you have time…..

bobby stevenson 2018

Friday, 22 December 2017

EASY

 
 
 
You see the lovers, sitting,
Holding hands outside the café,
Perfect you would think to yourself,
Just perfect,
Yet for a fleeting moment there is a look in one of their eyes
Which screams, that the end has arrived.
 
The woman walks the long street, watching and smiling at
The babies in their prams, and the mothers and fathers,
Smile back wondering what the woman wants.
What the woman wants - is to know, that had her child lived
What she would have been doing today.
 
The vicar sits by the window of the church, looking out to the world
That he has tried to save for nearly forty years,
He slips down another whisky, and another but nothing
Can warm his soul the way that God has done in the past,
That was, until he stopped believing.
 
The little boy stands outside the house where his father has moved,
This is the place where that woman lives, the one who destroyed the family
According to his mother.
And all around the houses, and streets, and villages, and towns, and cities,
They are all singing the same hymn:
“No one gets it easy any more”.
 
 
bobby stevenson 2017

Friday, 15 December 2017

STRANGE LOVES





She hadn’t spoken to him, but then again, she didn’t need to. She knew what made him tick, what took his breath away, and, most importantly, what put fire in his eyes. Of course, she could only see what she saw and in her mind as she joined up the dots – it was a space where she turned him into everything she wanted in a man. So, perhaps he wasn’t good with kids, or animals or old people (delete where necessary) but she couldn’t see that in him. From her point of view, she could only see kindness in that beautiful face. He had brought women back, but she had told herself that they were only friends and nothing more.  He left for work every morning at 7.15 (except that morning after his Christmas party) and would return most nights at 6.35. She always made sure that in the evening, her pillows were pushed up the bed a little, so that she could see him. She was limited to the time she could sit upright – it impacted her breathing and as a paraplegic it could cause complications. But her mother would help her sit up for a few minutes around 6.30 and was unsure why her daughter would have a smile on her face. The girl knew that the boy across the street didn’t even know she was alive, but one day she’d get her faculties back and she’d walk across that road and kiss him.

It was the day after his wife had died that the dog had first turned up at his front door. She’d sent him, he was sure of that. There wasn’t any identification with the dog, so he took him in his home and decided to see what would happen. He’d thought of putting a ‘lost dog’ poster on some of the trees in the street – but what was the point? The dog had been given to him by his wife to keep him company until they could all meet up again. It was almost a year to the day of his arrival when he was walking ‘Jedi’ in the park, that the dog had run off. He searched and searched and couldn’t find his best friend anywhere. This time he did put posters up on the trees, ‘dog lost’ – I mean what would his wife say when they met at last?  It was only a day later when a lovely woman came to the door (not unlike his wife) and had asked ‘was this his dog’. It was indeed, so he invited her to come in for a cup of tea as a way of thanking her. She’s still there.

The man spent every single spare penny he had on her – she was an old Jaguar car, racing green, and perhaps a little over-the-hill. He cleaned her, polished her, sometimes slept in the car, and never ever drove her. He kept her in the garage and refused to open the door in case she got damaged. He had lady friends, but they always insisted that they spend more time with them than with that ‘damn car’. It wasn’t just a car – she was his family. He respected her, and she respected him.  To him it was love and no amount, of red-blooded women could ever replace her.  He was happy, and even although folks would tell told him that it was all a one-way thing, no one could convince him that she didn’t love him back.  It was on the day of his 50th birthday that he decided to let her see the sunlight a little. He opened the garage door and pushed her on to the drive. He put the keys in the ignition and started her up. He could have kicked himself, as he’d only quickly nipped to the bathroom and when he came back she had gone. She had left him for some else. Where the whole racing green centre of his universe had stood purring away, was now a great space. They found the man downstream several days later. The police reckon he must have jumped from the old stone bridge.

He was always sure he was being watched. As he went to work every day at 7.15am and returned at 6.35pm, but he could almost feel eyes glaring into the back of his neck. He knew there was a strange girl across the road, but he’d never seen her. Tonight, was a very special night and he almost skipped back home. Some days were worse than others when there wasn’t that much to steal, but today he’d come across a racing green Jaguar just sitting in a drive with the keys in the ignition. He couldn’t help himself, he loved stealing and especially old cars. He’d sold it for 2000 and that for him, that was the best of all days.

bobby stevenson 2017

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

SANTA and the BATTLE of HASTINGS



He chose the highest room in town. Which, I suppose, is fair enough. What it doesn’t explain is why he chose Hastings, a seaside town on the south coast of England. His wife explained it by telling everyone that he was obsessed by history, and more specifically by the Battle of Hastings. Okay, to be totally accurate, the battle wasn’t exactly at Hastings but then the Norsemen weren’t caring that much back in 1066.

He knew what to expect with a Lapland winter, but it was the summers up there that really got to him. Lapland in July to August was humid and full of mosquitoes. It didn’t seem to bother his wife or the helpers – although to be honest most of them took their yearly vacation around about that time, letting them rest up before the onslaught of Christmas and all that entailed.

So, Santa decided he’d have a little break of his own (a break that Mrs Claus wasn’t unhappy about) and planned to go to Hastings and study the invasion of William the Conqueror. The highest room in the town was the only one available at the time, but it seemed to him that it was meant. The room and the views were perfect.

He had taken the sleigh all the way to a little airport in Tornio, then he’d given Rudolf and the other reindeer a few dollars to enjoy themselves. Santa told them he’d see them soon and then he went into a bathroom, cut down his beard, gelled back his hair and placed his red clothes in a locker.  He flew from Lapland to Helsinki and then onto London using a cheap airline. Santa wondered if maybe cheap airlines were the future of Christmas and that the reindeer were perhaps past their sell-by-date.  

He loved the seaside and the beaches, although the seagulls could be annoying, especially the ones that realised he was Santa and therefore would keep swooping down and asking him for Christmas stuff.  Santa, like most folks in Hastings, just threw the birds a hot potato chip, and told the gulls that he’d put their request on a list.

There were somethings that he wouldn’t (or couldn’t) tell Mrs Claus – after all, what happened in Hastings, stayed in Hastings. He hadn’t actually tried beer in the past and before he knew it, Santa was being arrested by the cops for lying drunk under Hastings’ pier, and shouting out the words to ‘Jingle Bells’.  He used the name Mr Claus at the Police Station, and he was sure that he hadn’t imagined hearing a couple of the police folks sniggering at the back.

As for the other thing – he was definite that those men on the beach (he had befriended) had told him that ‘breaking into a bank’ was another name for a party in Hastings. Luckily Santa had escaped before the police had shown up. One of the older guys had stuffed some of the bank money in Santa’s pocket – money, which Santa had given to several homeless folks on the front of the town.

But the thing that he really remembered about that summer, was the lady who had lived in the rooms below him. He had literally bumped into her as she was climbing the steep steps to the second highest room in the building, and he was sliding down the bannister. He picked her up off the stairs, apologised and then continued sliding down the shiny slide.

A few days later, Santa was passing one of the many fish and chip shops in town when he saw the lady sitting on her own. She was playing with the food rather than eating it. Santa knocked the window.  She didn’t recognise him at first – then she put on her spectacles on and eventually gave him a little smile. Santa took this as an invitation and went in the tiny shop and sat next to the lady.

It seems that the woman and her husband had been married in Hastings and had honeymooned there. Her husband was long dead, they’d had no children and now she spent a few weeks in the summer reliving the old days in Hastings.

Santa and the woman met a few more times in the days and weeks ahead, and when Santa asked what she wanted for Christmas – she replied that apart from her Bert coming back, nothing much else. She lived in a little village in Hampshire with her dog, Cheeky (who her sister was currently looking after) – and both she and Cheeky would eat everything in sight and then watch Christmas television. That was her Christmas day and that was enough for her.

She never got to say a proper goodbye to Mr Claus (he told her it was a well-known Finnish name) but several days before she was due to return home water started coming through her roof from the rooms above – the ones that Mr Clause had stayed in.

The man who came to fix the leak was called Bertie (just like her husband) – he was a widower who had a little dog called ‘Rascal’.  The last few days of her holidays were a whirlwind. She and Bertie (and Rascal) went for walks along the beach, they even went for fish and chips – and this time she ate them rather than just picking at the food.

As Bertie walked her to the train station for her trip back to Hampshire, he told her that he had a break over Christmas and wondered if the two of them could perhaps meet up.

She smiled at Bertie and said she would love to.


bobby stevenson 2017