Archive for the ‘Shorts’ Category

My parents drank coffee. When I was really young, from the chug-glump-chug-glump of the percolator. In the eighties, that graduated to the drip-hiss-drip-hiss of Mr. Coffee.

My brothers and sisters drink coffee. You couldn’t keep the glass urns full enough for my brother Paul when he worked the counter at my father’s store. If the cup languished too long, he’d just pop it into the micro and, 45 seconds later, continue the ritual.

My husband drinks coffee. He advanced the system, introducing me to Krupps and steam-frothers and whole beans.

Through it all, I resisted. I was ‘The Baby’, The Caboose.’ Coffee was for grownups. And, somewhere along the way, I read that it increased your blood pressure.

So here I am at 47, during one of the longest, grayest, snowiest, arctic-est winters in history for ALL of us. Which brings me to my discovery.

About a month ago, my husband brought home a new flavored bean: Chocolate Rum. They smelled damn good. Damn. Good.

I don’t know what made me do it.

It could have been that I was alone in the house.

Or that I am middle-aged and feel my dreams drifting, floating, threatening to break away and soar beyond my grasp.

Or that I was just cold and it was hot.

Whatever the reason, I found some of that chocolate rum coffee in the carafe. He’d left it there, my husband, filling his ‘to-go’ mug as full as it would go and trotting off to work.

I sniffed it.

I poured the tiniest bit in a mug and tasted it black. I’d always heard, if you’re gonna drink coffee, drink it black.

It was warm.

It was good.

I filled the mug and discovered caffeine.

* * *

Flash forward the month. I’ve been off-again, on-again with this whole coffee culture. On one hand, it feels great to ‘belong’ to this thing that everybody else seems to belong to. And I did some Internet research; looks like coffee can help with memory, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer, and more.

On the other hand, if I drink it on an empty stomach, I feel jittery and my thoughts start firing in all directions. I feel like I can write the bestseller, sing the Grammy-winner, and work out until I’m as skinny as I long to be — all before the close of day. And, if I drink two or more cups, I notice a big crash afterwards — crankiness ensues.

So I ask — at 47 — is this new discovery a coup or a curse?

The jury’s still out for this former Catholic schoolboy.




by Gregory Gerard

Camp stood his ground, assessing the damage. Most of the bistro was intact; in fact, the only evidence of danger was the man-sized hole in the wall, blackened at the edges. A brick wall, Camp reminded himself.
He glanced at the tourists, trapped in the corner, too frightened even to snap a picture with one of the cameras that hung around each of their necks. They didn’t appear to be hurt.
Camp had arrived in time.
His stance relaxed ever-so-slightly beneath the hunter-green muscle suit he’d adopted for his work. Father G.’s rotund housekeeper, Mrs. Schultz, had helped him pick out the material—and she’d used her ancient Sears sewing machine to fit the costume to his broad-shouldered frame.
A colorful design covered the chest; those who got close enough to Camp’s lithe form could see the many tiny images woven into the fabric. The mosaic that decorated his pecs was formed from more than fifty movie posters: some gay favorites, like Some Like It Hot and Tootsie; some gay-themed, like Big Eden and Patrick, Age 1.5. At the center was his number one, all-time favorite: The Sound of Music. Camp loved movies and he’d decided to theme his ‘super persona’ around his beloved pastime.
On the surface, his tousled, boyish locks and scuffed uniform suggested he was unprepared for action. In fact, he’d already spent much of the day sorting out a teen gang war on the city’s north side. But the surface appearance was just that: surface. Closer inspection of his cobalt eyes—the depths that reflect character—revealed the burning passion of a super hero. ‘Super-queero,’ as he sometimes joked on the nights he and Father G. shared a beer.
Camp returned his attention to the grinning villain in the sleek gray costume standing between him and the restaurant patrons. He returned the smile, while his mathematical mind calculated the space between them.
“I’m so happy you’re happy,” he said, doing his best Bette Davis, living up to the reputation he’d been named for. Being a gay superhero for almost four years, he’d learned early on that campy banter was a requirement for any entanglement with a super criminal.
Delivering diva-worthy sarcasm seemed to put the bad guys off their guard. That alone was worth being a little more flamboyant than he might be otherwise. And, besides, he was gay, for God’s sake. Sarcastic humor was part of the proverbial package, nestled right in there between the disco CDs, Broadway tickets, and Grey Goose Citron.
GrayMatter laughed, a sour, throaty sound that echoed of darkened alleyways and screaming victims. “Getting rid of twinks like you always makes me happy,” he spat out, leaning forward and touching his bald right temple. A small cloud of energy coalesced in mid-air between them, oscillating frenetically, its pulsing lights reflecting off the villain’s steely eyes.
The three guys hiding behind the bar felt the heat in the room rise. The two ladies hiding in the men’s restroom (it had been the closest place to run when GrayMatter had exploded through the bistro wall) heard a crackling buzz like a downed electrical line.
“Get ready for a bumpy ride, Camp.” GrayMatter touched his forehead again. The cloud shot forward.
Camp stared into the space between them and concentrated.
The energy ball slowed. It shimmered and spun as it paused in flight. Beads of sweat dampened the superhero’s bangs. His hand reflexively massaged his stomach.
GrayMatter’s eyes blackened.
The energy ball wobbled uncertainly. Camp’s whole body clenched tight, his muscles bulging. He brought his right foot forward, planting it firmly on the cafe’s smooth hardwoods, as if in defiance of the advancing threat.
The energy ball came to a complete stop for a full five seconds—scorching the ceiling above—then, with purpose, abruptly reversed direction.
The villain’s head dipped forward in futility. He managed a guttural howl as crackling light enveloped him. Camp watched the pulsing glow rise to a blinding flash.
It was over in an instant. GrayMatter slumped to the floor, still breathing, but unconscious—and a little charred.
“And, for the record, loser, it’s a bumpy ‘night’…not ‘ride.’ If you’re gonna quote All About Eve, get it right for God’s sake,” the superhero said, taking a moment to secure GrayMatter’s hands behind his back.
Camp lifted his head toward the tourists. “You folks okay?”
They nodded.
“Great.” He waved his hand around. “Now don’t think this is what our city is all about, okay? The Central Museum is really cool—and the zoo is worth spending a whole day at!”
They nodded again. Cameras began to click and flash.
Camp turned to a waiter, who’d risen from behind the safety of the long wooden bar. “Call 911, okay? They’ll know what to do with this guy.”
The waiter gave a thumbs-up. Satisfied that danger had passed, Camp strode out the twin glass doors.
Nobody got in his way.