I plunged my Buck knife into the deer carving out a piece of meat for my dog to eat. Lady’s golden tail wagged as she laid on her front paws setting to work on the offering. I shot three arrows straight into the lungs and heart of the creature like I was taught. It came down easy as it was just a big refrigerator box on which I had drawn a stag looking figure with a Sharpie. My dog didn’t mind chewing the cardboard to play along.
She was a great dog and we ran around the forest for years together as explorers, hunters, treasure seekers, fishermen and woodland settlers. Even as I write this I can still imagine what it was like to wrap myself around her giant frame and bury my face in that comforting golden fur. Silent and strong she never strayed from my side. I can still smell her special flea and tick collar mixed with tomato sauce. We took more than one bath together bathed in that thick red anti skunk smell remedy.
When I was twelve I was in the thick of budding adolescence high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our five acre property was heavily forested with Oak, Fir, Cedar and Ponderosa Pine trees. I remember telling my parents –
“I’m never living in the woods. I’m outta here to the city as soon as I can.”
Of course what I didn’t realize at the time was that the adventures I had as a boy would run way deeper than teenage rebellion ever could. As an adult the only place I find peace and tranquility is among the swooshes of wind swept bows, the trickling of streams and the gentle songs of visiting birds.
I’ll be seeking refuge in the forested woodlands wherever I am for the rest of my life.
Danny Machal April 20th, 2015
A small boy adjusted the straps on his backpack as a strange man’s voice lingered in the air.
Looking down the street pensively for his school bus he wondered aloud, “Where does his power come from?”
“From you. He takes a little bit of you while you are sleeping,” the voice echoed.
“That’s stupid,” he snorted seeing the bright yellow bus roof down the road.
He tried to step forward but his feet had sank into the ground. Ankles clenched in a vice of sand he struggled and screamed for help as grit filled his mouth.
“Is it?” he heard.
I used to dream. I used to dream so vividly I half expected Red Forman was going to invade my mind and declare it an “Unauthorized thought process” like he did to Raiden in the movie Fortress (1992). I don’t dream that way anymore for a long list of reasons. -D
What are your dreams like?
Danny Machal April 18th, 2015
The second thanksgiving I had for my twelfth or thirteenth birthday was my most memorable and favorite childhood meal.
Mother asked me, “What do you want for your birthday dinner?”
I half jokingly said, “Thanksgiving.”
She didn’t seem to get the joke (I was hopeful she wouldn’t anyway) and before I knew it things were in full swing a few days before my birthday. A giant iced butterball was thawing in our extra fridge and my father was putting together all the ingredients to make home made croissants. They did it that way. Dad always did the baking and Mom did most of the heavy stuff. Even in home repairs it was my Mom we bought the tool box for.
Thanksgiving was always a standard spread. I can’t think of anytime that we deviated from the normal recipe list:
The ritual never changed either and on my Birthday it was no different. My Mom would wake up at like 5am to put the turkey on. The lettuce was soaked in salt water and a whole loaf of bread was torn apart into a big stainless steel bowl for the stuffing. They were like that though (my parents). They were both from the old school and things rarely changed. Much of that was passed down to me.
In many ways my upbringing was very a traditional “Leave it to Beaver” when it came to the way our home life was conducted and the values I was taught. Some of the biggest pet peeves I have (and my little family unit can attest to this) is table manners and having dinner together at the table almost everyday.
The meal went off as most thanksgivings do. We ate our faces off and it was glorious. I can’t even remember what the present were or if we had cake but damn do I remember delicious turkey and dressing.
Danny Machal April 17th, 2015
French feverishly worked with leathery gnarled tips poking out of her brown ‘hand me down’ finger-less gloves. The night air was ice chilled but this client was paying double as long as she did her work here -tonight.
Among the crumbling concrete buildings and trash cluttered streets glowing under bright flickering yellow neon lights she sat quietly. The city of Metroplex’s citizens were trained in one trade skill since birth. They would perform this one craft until the age of thirty. They were all masters by then and there wasn’t much else they could know so most just kept on doing it. It was all random. French got lucky as she was a knitter and not a sewage pipe shit scraper.
With wrinkled brow and old green eyes she stared down trained on the clacking wooden needles. Pulling this and looping that. At least she assumed they were clacking. She couldn’t hear them anymore. Here with these familiar worn grooves in the wood and plying her trade is where she found her transcendence among the youthful urbanites that plunged Metroplex into filth and chaos.
Bright and blood red was the yarn she was working with tonight and the little sweater was nearly complete. It was beautiful and fit for a toddler. The client said they would meet her here soon.
* * *
“Give me that bottle Jorn. You always drink half of it before I even get a taste. You are a girl you aren’t supposed to drink so much.”
“You offered and it helps my artistic vibe. I am a painter after all,” she took another swig. “How many credits was thing anyway? It tastes awful.”
“Not awful enough apparently and it was as many credits as I can spare on a carpenters salary. This is as romantic as I get.”
They did this on Saturday nights. It was standard procedure to haunt the Cyberdeliah, listen to fast hard electro music and trade credits for a bagged bottle of mystery booze. From there Jorn and Chek would wander around the park kicking over trash cans and getting drunk enough to not feel the cold.
Chek zipped up a grey faux leather jacket up to his chin. A thin silver chain hung down his thigh and bounced against his black skinny jeans as he walked alongside Jorn. She shuffled closer to him and the leather straps that hung from her old biker jacket flowed in the breeze. She held out the stained brown bagged bottle toward him.
“Here. You look like you need a little antifreeze,” she winked at him as a glint of light bounced off her jet black cropped hair.
He smiled and took the bottle quickly leaning in to kiss her lips before she could pull away. A kiss from Jorn was all the antifreeze he ever needed.
* * *
Chek’s lips felt warm against hers and she felt the old familiar tingle in her belly as she pushed back. Reaching down to tangle her colorful paint stained fingers with his she felt the rough texture of callouses built from years of hard labor. They were rough and strong but gentle. Always gentle with her. Many times she felt she didn’t deserve him. He was much too good for her.
They walked quietly up a small illuminated path hand in hand their heavy booted footfalls on the concrete thudded a warning to anyone ahead of them that there would be trouble coming if they wanted it. The city was a bit off in the distance but the glow of the night life escaped no corner of this sector for miles. To them it was a beautiful anarchy. The leadership was young but still they clung to the old ways.
Chek took a pull from the brown bag and suddenly came to a halt. She looked quizzically at his eyes which had grown to the large size she had only seen when he was ready to fight. Instinctively she thumbed the front pocket of her jacket where she kept the blade. Whipping her head around to take a count of how many there were she brandished the familiar weapon flicking it open quietly.
But she only saw an old woman. She folded the blade closed and stuffed it back into her pocket.
“Chek it is just an old lady. Doing what?” she whispered and squinted to focus her eyes. “Knitting.”
The bottle exploded into a hundred pieces as Chek spiked it onto the concrete. The booze inside quickly soaked the paper and began running out onto the filthy foot path. Jorn stepped back in surprise.
“Baby?” she was confused and began to get scared. ‘Was he that drunk already?’
Chek fell to his knees and began to sob uncontrollably. She knelt beside him and put her arm around his shoulders. Mucus ran from his nose in long strands as his tear ducks poured out droplets of agony on to the ground in a torrential storm of emotion and pain.
The old woman didn’t even notice his wailing as she smiled to herself holding the small blood red sweater up to the light pleased with her craftsmanship.
Chek looked up and saw the completed sweater in full view now. This only made him wail louder and cry harder. Jorn held her body against his. The trembling of whatever torment spell he was in shook them both violently. She clung tight to him feeling every thud of his heart and pulse of his seizing muscles waiting for it to pass but something had torn her man open. This was a wound that ran deep. This was something he had clearly never shared with her.
Danny Machal April 16th, 2015
My son was born this year and I’ve never really taken ownership of that fact until this very moment. Still feels weird to say, “my son.” Just weird. I never thought I was the type who would ever be in a position to say it (says nearly every father ever).
Chaos is one word to describe raising a newborn. Insane is another. These are the things you are feeling nearly everyday leaving little time for reflection. I need reflection and I just haven’t had it until now. I’m not stranger to the stewardship of fatherhood. I inherited a seven year old girl a few years ago through the ‘rent to own’ family plan. She is ten now and her level of communication is extremely satisfactory. She has just the right amount of thirst to learn about the world around her and the aptitude to take it all in. That is how I operate and how I want the people around me to operate.
Babies however do not have the ability to communicate beyond the primal grunts and screams when something is wrong or too stimulating. So it is a struggle for me to find pleasure in the interaction I have with my son. He is still quite young (9 weeks). So maybe as he develops more motor skills and personality I will be able to speak his language and develop that “crazy retarded happy parent” attitude where I shove pictures in strangers faces’ and beam with pride that my sperm worked.
But for now I will continue my relentless quest to lose popularity among my peers from my extremely unpopular view on infant parent relationships.
If I were to introduce my son as a character in a novel he would be tiny obese infant regressed old man who had lost all his faculties requiring constant care from others to survive. That doesn’t seem right but it would make for a good story as he gets to experience the world for the first time -again.
Removing the fact that he is a newborn and focusing on the allegorical experiences he is having is probably better.
In Band of Brothers there is a scene where the E Company boys are in Holland at night and they stumble into this old mans farm. He has a boy with him and one of the soldiers gives him a piece of chocolate. The boy takes a bite and chews quickly. But his face. His face erupts into the biggest smile. To which the old man says:
“He’s never tasted chocolate before.”
The world his full of a lot of awful experiences and one of them can easily overshadow ten good ones. So when I think of my son experiencing things for the first time I want it to be like the little boy tasting chocolate.
While I am not the “giddy” type of parent about my children I am a reasonable and logical person.
It motivates me to make sure the boy feels love and is cared if not for the simple fact that EVERYONE deserves to feel they matter. Even though he is a tiny little poop machine that is constantly violating my posted noise ordinances I did have a part in bringing his consciousness into existence.
It is my duty and responsibility to shepherd this little creature into the world, instill him with strong morals, teach him to be a gentleman and do the best I can to nurture his young mind to be ever starved for knowledge.
Love you buddy. 🙂
Danny Machal April 13th, 2015