I was told that my ancestors roots stem from a village named "Schwarzach" – between Vienna and the hungarian frontier. The germans grinded this place with their tanks.
Since I know that - doesn't matter if true or half or not at all - I kind of simpathyse with this country :-)
From the Quatro, "The Village of Dos Cruces, East
of Chihuahua, in the Sierra Madre."
Literary Fiction from the book, "What Follows"
With that, Hector and Nestor fell to the forest floor laughing. Even Beebo laughed, and as they laughed, he noticed it was a full moon hiding in the clouds.
“Look,” he said. “It’s a full moon. A man shouldn’t do anything when it’s a full moon.”
“I know,” Nestor said. “A man shouldn’t even take a crap when it’s a full moon.”
Beebo shuddered. “I know. A man shouldn’t even fart when it’s a full moon.”
And with that, they fell into another fit of irresistible laughter until their noses were running and their eyes were tearing. It was a wonderful thing, these friends, these criminals enjoying the camaraderie of each other.
When they finally came to their senses and proceeded through the woods, they came to the shabby little house of Maria Elena Gonzalez.
Beebo was shaking scared. “Give me the bottle,” he said.
“I don’t have it,” Hector said.
“I don’t have it,” Nestor said.
You had it last, pendajo, Hector said. “You left it in Juan Baptiste’s Cadillac.”
Beebo leaped upon the opportunity. “I’ll go get it,” he said, and he was gone at a run before the others could protest.
“Don’t worry,” Nestor said. “I have my flask. I filled it when we were stealing the whiskey from Jose’s Cantina.”
“Good thinking, Nestor. You’re a true criminal.”
“Muchas gracias, amigo. What do we do now?”
Hector shrugged. “We have to sneak around in back where the window is.”
So, the two criminals moved like thieves through the forest to the rear of Maria Elena Gonzalez’ little house, and what did they see?
“Mio dios,” Hector said. “Mira. Mira estas.”
They saw several deer standing in the glow of the window. A raccoon was sitting on the window sill and another stretched its neck to see from the back of one of the deer.
“What should we do? Nestor said.
“We should sneak up to the window.”
“But the deer-”
And that’s what they did and they feasted their
People Who Like Short Stories," an R. Harlan Smith book.
My Interview with the Man with a Mission.
R. Harlan Smith
My editor assigned me to my first human interest piece, an interview for the Sunday Magazine section on some shady character who ran a mission down on Ingleside Avenue. It was freezing outside and I dreaded the drive through that part of town, particularly at night. It was a small, abandoned theater in the heart of Chicago’s south side. The snow had not been shoveled in front. A stained marquee, flat against the façade over the door, read: “DOCTOR PEMBROKE’S INGLESIDE AVENUE MISSION’, and below that, ‘A MAN WITH A MISSION.’ It was not lighted.
Doctor Pembroke was a portly man who’s dependence on his title, expensive three-piece suits, and a cigar to convey his authority, had become his trade marks. He remarked without embarrassment his title was a meaningless formality. Also, he liked to wear spats with his patent-leather shoes. He was a man no more stylish than a manikin, but at least as well dressed.
We were sitting around backstage - Jimmy who was old and completely fallen to a gerontal slump, and an emaciated younger man Doctor Pembroke called Buddy - waiting for the chairs to fill up in the auditorium. Pembroke’s motley congregation would suffer his sermon and be rewarded a warm meal in return. A theater seat in a warm building was a heavenly bonus.
Doctor Pembroke was impatient and nervous. I wondered why a man so practiced in speaking to the huddled masses would suffer stage fright. He sighed repeatedly, shaking his head and cursing under his breath.
Jimmy muttered to him, “I told you what to do. Y’ought have listened. Now it’s too late.”
“Shut up, old man.”
I pretended not to hear.
He looked over at me. “How about ‘That Babe’, huh? Another home run. The son of a bitch just won’t quit.”
I don’t follow baseball, but I read enough about him. “Yeah, another record.”
He told me tonight’s message would be a short one. He didn’t feel up to a long talk; this from a man known to be long-winded. He assured me we would finish the interview afterward.
They shuffled in, coughing and shivering, mute and frozen and layered in Goodwill donations, these arctic animals of the city who had no other alternative to the piercing cold.
At seven on the dot, Jimmy came across the stage with the questions he had collected from the audience. Doctor Pembroke went through them, giving each card careful consideration, shaking his head and puffing his cigar to keep it lit. Jimmy watched patiently, rubbing his stubble and licking his lips. He was hungry and he needed a drink. “It’s passing seven o’clock, Doctor Pembroke.”
“Alright, God damn it. Let’s get this over with. Let’s get all of it done.”
Jimmy lowered the phonograph needle onto a scratchy recording of funerary organ music, and Doctor Pembroke went out on the stage. I turned on my wire recorder.
“Good evening my friends, and welcome to the Pembroke Ingleside Avenue Mission. I am Doctor Pembroke, the Man with a mission.”
He was facing forty-two haggard men and women who would go anywhere to escape the cold. They filled the room with the odor of aimless, hopeless poverty.
“I have looked through your questions; interesting. Interesting, indeed. I will answer each and every one of them. Let’s see, here. Our first question comes from Edith. Edith asks, ‘How does one describe God?’
“Well, Edith, I would say God is good, and the collective consciousness, to which we are all connected, is described in the same way. The collective consciousness is a form of energy manifesting as expansion and growth and the coming into of something, the evolvement toward betterment and refinement. It is as pure as all energy is pure by its very nature. It cannot be corrupted. Only its manifestation, its results, are susceptible to corruption.
“Our second question, from Angelo. Good to see you tonight, Angelo. Angelo wants to know, ‘Where does evil come from?’
“I can tell you this, Angelo. It is the antics of Man that have corrupted this energy, Man who has added evil to pollute the manifestation of this purest of energy.
“And Peter wants to know, ‘What is a man supposed to do in this life?’ Well, I’ll tell you, Pete. It is Man’s responsibility to live his life correcting this corruption. It is imposed on him from birth through his duration, and in doing so, he will contribute to the good, and that is what I, in my own humble way, am doing here at the Mission. Mine is every man’s mission.
“Well, well, well. Anonymous is with us tonight, folks. Anonymous wants to know ‘What is the ultimate spiritual advice?’ Sylvia, where are you Sylvia? Raise your hand. No hand. She wants to remain anonymous. That’s not how you spell anonymous, Sylvia, dear.
“I would say, the ultimate spiritual advice is to live righteously, so as not to contribute to the corruption. Work at it. Work to restore purity to the good energy.
“And Arnie. Arnie asks, ‘What will make the world a better place?’, and I will tell you, Arnie, there are instructions for that. They are called the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, and the Golden Rule of the New Testament. Just follow the instructions, folks. That’s all the good Lord asks of you. Follow the instructions.
“And our last question, from Joseph: ‘What is man’s greatest flaw?’
“Man’s greatest flaw… The struggle arises with the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule with people who have not read or will not follow the instructions. That is man’s greatest flaw; he will not follow instructions, and only the wealthy and powerful can get away with that.
“And with that, I thank you my friends. We have meat loaf for you tonight with potatoes and gravy, lots of gravy, and bread to sop it up, and rice and beans, of course. There may not be enough milk to go around, so it’s first come, first served, as usual. So hang around as long as you like. Have a smoke and some coffee, there’s always plenty coffee before you go out into that cold dark night of the soul. We close at ten sharp. I thank you for coming, and God bless you.”
Whereupon, the entire company of unfortunates passed through the double doors into the makeshift cafeteria to line up along the buffet where they took up a donated plate and silverware, and where, as they moved along, their dinner was cheerfully portioned onto their plates by volunteers from the Y.W.C.A.
In the meantime, Doctor Pembroke, the man with a mission, locked himself away in his office where he was left alone, and in twenty-five minutes he emerged wearing a fresh change of clothes, which was his downfall.
I was the first among Doctor Pembroke’s inner circle to be questioned by the hook-nosed Homicide Detective Sergeant Harvey, who I learned later was a dreaded legend on the south side of Chicago. I explained to him my presence at the mission this evening and presented my press card and my notes to verify my story, and I, as well as the others, swore Doctor Pembroke had not left the premises throughout the course of the evening. Detective Harvey had the habit of blinking his eyes tightly several times every few minutes or so. It was distracting.
He told us someone in Doctor Pembroke’s apartment building had heard a fuss going on in the Doctor’s kitchen and called the police straightaway. When the police forced the door, they found Cecilia, Doctor Pembroke’s woman, strangled and sprawled in a chair at the kitchen table. They came immediately to the mission.
Having explained all the events throughout the evening to Detective Harvey, he said, “Ya say he come out of his office wearin’ a fresh suit of clothes, did he?”
“Yes. Out of his gray suit, into his blue pin-strip. I recall the trousers were a bit short to reveal his spats. And he wore a boutonnière. He liked that.”
“But ya said he give a short sermon.”
“Yes. Barely five minutes.”
The detective crossed his arms and turned his back to me. He took a few steps and turned to face me. “A man does no’ work up enough sweat deliverin’ a five-minute sermon to require a change of clothes now does he? Did he look stressed, or exhausted to ya?”
I shrugged. I didn’t know. He was somewhat jumpy to face the audience, I thought, but I didn’t think it enough to mention. I told him, “Jimmy and Buddy and I were standing in the wings, stage left, as they say. Pembroke exited to the other side.”
Detective Harvey watched me like a bird of prey.
“Was it a particularly fiery message he give?”
“Where is this room, this office? Show me this room.”
I followed the Detective and Doctor Pembroke down a corridor, past the dressing rooms to his office door. Beneath his name was Pembroke’s motto: ‘A man with a mission.’
Detective Harvey mumbled. “A mission, indeed.”
I began to wonder if the detective knew something we did not.
Detective Harvey went to the middle of the room, his arms behind him. He looked around, taking his time. “No closet?” he said, blinking.
Doctor Pembroke did not answer. He seemed to be waiting out the ordeal of a nuisance.
Detective Harvey repeated himself. I was puzzled as to why Doctor Pembroke was reluctant to answer a simple yes or no question. The detective walked up to Doctor Pembroke and stood very close to him, face to face. He spoke slowly.
“I do no’ like ya, Pembroke. Yar fice don’t hang proper off your ‘ead. Ya got the stench o’ the yards about ya. Where are the clothes ya changed out of, man?”
Doctor Pembroke seemed struck dumb.
Detective Harvey quickly unraveled the chain of events which had occurred from the time Pembroke entered his office to the time he came out of it. Pembroke had gone out the window and dropped into the alley. He moved quickly to his apartment down the block, strangled the woman with his necktie, and changed his clothes. Cecilia had torn his breast pocket in the struggle, after which he rushed back to his office, entering the same way he had exited. He was gone barely twenty-five minutes. When he joined us in the cafeteria, we were none the wiser. In fact, seeing he had changed his suit further convinced us he had done it in his office. What we didn’t know was Detective Harvey had discovered the torn suit in a heap on the floor in his bedroom closet.
When Harvey’s officer came back from Doctor Pembroke’s apartment carrying his damaged suit, the gig was up. Pembroke was sunk and made a full confession. It seems Cecilia was shooting off her mouth. She claimed she had enough on Pembroke to send him up the river for good. Word got around. Pembroke had associates who were worried and gritting their teeth. Nobody likes a blabber-mouth blonde, especially bleached. He said, “A broad like that’ll get a guy killed.”
Detective Harvey agreed, “Now there’s a bit o’ the God’s truth. I’m arrestin’ ya for the murder of a police informant, and a particular good friend of mine, one Cecilia Aires, a pretty lass, but she could no’ keep her seems straight. Yar ‘eaded for the big ’ouse, Pembroke. Yar a fortunate man if a jury do no’ give ya the chair.”
At this point, Doctor Pembroke made a break for it. The Detective snatched him by the hair and yanked him back and landed a resounding smack to his face with a fist like a logger’s boot that laid the Doctor out at his feet.
“My God,” I said.
“Wounds incurred while tryin’ t’evade arrest, the darty devil. Cuff’m up, Sergeant. Drag’m out to the wagon.”
When the officer dragged the Doctor out to the wagon, Jimmy became grumpy and jittery. He said he’d be over to Shorty’s for a drink.
Buddy perked up. “Cops closed’m.”
“Ah, he’s open. You gotta go around the back.”
“No, I ain’t buyin’.”
I didn’t say good bye to them. I was anxious to get into my car and head back to the office. I typed up my human interest piece and handed it to Frank, my editor. He read for a moment then sat back in his chair, holding the pages in his hands. He looked at me and pushed his glasses up and went on reading. When he finished, he tossed the pages on his desk.
“Are you kidding me?”
I felt confidant. “Nope.”
“This is an exclusive.”
“I should think so.”
“This is an exclusive, a lead story. Congrats, Macey, you’ve made the front page.”
Still, he paid by the word, but he raised it up from nine cents to eleven cents, and there was a twenty-five dollar bonus in my pay envelope. Frank’s a tough editor, but he’s a pretty swell guy.
All in all, I thought Pembroke’s short message was a very good one. I listen to the recording often.
to read slowly and be transferred again in time past . Really fascinating writing .
The photo shows People and places just like you wrote in your short story.
Very well chosen .
- Went into semi-retirement immediately after high school. Then attended five different colleges for 3 minor degrees in Eng. Lit. (AA), Behavioral Sciences (BA), and Paralegal Procedures (AA)
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