Charlie Sacks was as sick as they come. He had taken to bed nearly three days ago and didn’t say a word about it. The housemaid Martha waited on him hour to hour, pleasing him with an assortment of soups and teas. He took it presently and surprisingly enough, never did he miss a meal. While his stomach may have been in good order, the ailment seemed to lie in his nasal cavity. The man suffered from a clogged nasal chimney, due to a snot and spit build up, resulting in a whooping fever! Charlie, as a sturdy grown man, knew the only true remedy was a pampering spa and a warm bed. Martha had prepared a bath and Mr. Sacks found comfort in its bubbly waters. From the womb to the sack he did leap. Leaving the bath only to flounder back into bed. The fluffed feathers of his nest proved the greatest comforter, for it was in it’s billows he could delve into the latest issue of StarExplorer in peace.
Alas, here is where I found him. A boy in his castle. With three loud knocks on their oakwood door, I made my presence known. Martha greeted me as I leaned against my wooden cane.
"Evening sir, mighty dark and rainy out there, what can I do for you?"
"I be but a humble traveller mum, on the eternal road, I come to beg you for bread."
"From where do you come, Traveller?"
"From the land beyond our own! Past the light and through the stone! In the forest, birds have flown, into the greatest deep unknown!"
"Where is that exactly?"
"Please step into the light, so I may gaze your face."
Indeed I followed her request and exposed myself to her. Every griping part of me. She no doubt reacted to my lame eye. The haggard mess of scarred skin will cause a double glance from anyone. I stood there, with the porch light bouncing off my darkened cloak, giving the softest exposure to my grey locks and twisted jaw. I knew I was something she had never seen before.
"Well, no sense having you out there, I invite you in for warmth and bread. Shall we?"
"Thank you, Ma’am"
"Dearie, call me Martha"
At once, she invited me into the library, where I sat by the fire and indulged a few lines from a StarExplorer magazine. She was off into the kitchen to prepare me some bread and a bowl of something or other. The library was dark and civil. I admired the eclectic collection of novels and memoirs, as well as the embroidered chair in which I was placed. The leather had taken the shape of my body and I felt for a moment a grace of rest.
"You’re meal, sir"
"Remarkable, Martha, you were able to put all that together in the short time I was here?"
"No sir, I happen to be mending another weary soul."
"There is another in this house?"
"Yes, the owner of the estate, Master Charlie Sacks."
"Whatever is wrong with the poor devil?"
"Doctor says it’s a nasal buildup, sounds awful, like a dying rodent at times"
"Martha, would I be able to speak with Master Sacks? I feel I have a remedy in my possession that he would find most intriguing."
Three flights of stairs we took, all winding and weaving through the museum of his halls. From floor to floor, the walls displayed paintings from eras I had yet to see. I felt compelled to ask what Martha made of it.
"Paintings", I remarked.
"Oh yes, the Master collects. He has gone all over the world to find these paintings. Some he had to risk life and limb for. The floor below us holds the ones with pretty ships in them. Ships at port saying goodbye to the folk waving on the dock. Ships battling the raging squalls of the open sea. Ships a plenty. The floor we’re on now will have your bones shivering."
"This is his gothic collection. Everyone from Dorian Grey to The Oval Portrait hangs here. Let’s just say we scurry past this part. Shall we?"
I could see her distress. For most of the men and women that hung here were depicted in death. My good eye gazed on scenes of immurement, bloodied ruins of genocide and twisted feasts of cannibalism. I shuddered as I glimpsed a familiar face burning in the fires of a witch hunt.
The last floor presented a welcomed change in the form of landscapes. As we crossed the hall to Sacks bedroom, I was treated to views of mountain ranges and auburn fields of apples.
Martha gently opened the door and announced us to the figure laying in bed.
"Master Sacks, we have Mr…"
"Crypt, Ernie Crypt. Master Sacks, I’ve come seeking shelter from the storm. As it turns out I found a little bit more. I heard of your ailment and I have a remedy that can promise you better. A rare chance for me to pay back such a hospitable welcome."
The silence made me wonder if he was resting eternally. At last he spoke, “Bring it to me and leave it on my nightstand.”
With a nod to Martha I lurched over to his bedside and from my cloak retrieved a sack of cherry tomatoes.
"These are picked from a place I doubt even you’ve been, Mister Sacks. Please I will leave the bag here, but I warn you, only four tomatoes shall you eat before sunrise. Any more, will have you. Indeed, save them for tomorrows light."
"Tomatoes? Is this a folly?"
"None, sir, trust me. You will be surprised by natures touch."
"Very well then, be gone with you."
As I exited to the hallway, I left him with four words of remembrance.
"No more then four".
Martha allowed me to finish my meal and then filled my canteen with water, gave me a dry towel and then saw me on my way. I was eager to go, not because I held distaste for Martha’s company, but because I knew sunrise would be here in a matter of hours and I wanted a good distance behind me when it came.
Within an hour, Master Sacks gave in to my gesture. Two tomatoes he took at first reach. He was surprised to find that he was soon sitting up and stretching his arms to and fro. He thought better then to over do it, so he settled back in with his magazine. A few more hours past and still the nagging taste of a tomato sat on his tongue. He had never tasted one so rich and rationed that he would still be under his four tomato limit. He settled that he deserved one more at least. The third one was in his mouth in a flash and the result was so tremendous that he threw the covers onto the floor and wreathed around his bedsheets stretching and yawning. The slumber was fading behind him and he soon felt fit to stand up. Yet something stayed him. He was thinking of his knowledge of medicine.
"My doctor always said, finish the bottle or it won’t work." He reasoned quietly.
By the time he was chewing his fourth tomato, Sacks was walking down the hall to fetch a cup of milk.
"Heavens, sir, a change of winds?" Martha gasped as Sacks entered the kitchen.
"Martha it seems our weary traveller spoke truth. Those tomatoes did a wonder on my senses. I feel fit enough to read in the dignity of my own library. First, I shall like a glass of milk."
"Certainly, sir, I’ll bring it right in."
Master Sack’s toes wiggled around the fire heat as he sunk into his chair. A few adjustments were made until he felt the familiar shape again. Martha came in and left a tall glass of milk on the table beside him. She left him to read StarExplorer. A wonderful serial involving flying machines in space and men with laser guns finding lost princesses. The adventure had pulled him in for nearly an hour when he was distracted to see, inside the pocket of his house coat, the sack of tomatoes.
"A wonder." he thought.
As he continued to read, he thumbed the ripe, round tomatoes almost unaware of his habit. It took only a few minutes before another tomato was out of the sack and into his mouth. Half expecting to feel superhuman, Sacks was distraught to find that a cold chill instantly cascaded through his bones. The impact caused him to drop his magazine onto the floor. As he reached down to pick it up, a searing pain shot through his lower back. He tried to scream, but only gasped, for his breath was failing him. Sweat was accumulating and as he wiped his brow he felt only wrinkles of elderly skin. He willed himself a sip of milk. When he lay the glass back on the table he saw a line of red smearing down the side of the glass. Could his mouth be bleeding? He flustered over to the mirror to inspect. Yet the startling sight of his ghost and the ripe taste of tomato stopped him. A vision of auburn apple fields and infinite galaxies filled his eyes. Master Sacks fell to the floor. The old boy was dead.
No doubt Martha discovered him within the hour. Her shriek would be heard by no one. For the estate stands miles from anyone wishing to hear. No doubt she would take to the door to look for the strange traveller who had seemingly betrayed them. Yet she would not find him, only a discarded cane. For a cane is used by lame eyed old gypsies, not those who ride with fresh eyes into the eternal sunrise.
this girl I met this girl man, she lived in a studio loft above the bustling montreal downtown core. She had been up the night before, bumping off speed and playing croquet with some francophone jugglers. We were both buying beers at the local dep and a conversation sparked between us. It took me two whole nights to bed her but I finally did. Needing a place to stay I foolishly called on her and she answered. She told me to come by her spot and we spent the whole night drinking and smoking and trotting around. I left her spot with a certain understanding about myself. She asked me why I rarely felt satisfied with my position and place. I told her there had to be some sort of displeasure in order to find pleasure. she told me that was all post war bullshit and that the only person standing in my way was myself. nobody’s gonna be there when you’re happy just like nobodies gonna be there when you’re upset. so why be upset? Indeed if this must be the course of my life her sentiment made too much sense to me. Yet she didn’t spoil me, she illuminated me with her brilliance. We swung on her circus swing making spoils out of our grandeur and in the wee hours she pulled the plug on our electric ramblings and left me to recuperate in the corner. When the sun rose I felt the soft and cool breeze from the window. I stretched out in my covers and recounted last nights act. I only had joyful memories from this hard core magician. this drug running madonna, this poppy lipped queen of st denis. her name was montreal.