Well, not me. I'm a consistent non-Participant, and haven't even read any posts from my friends list. Sorry guys. I have literally tons of handy excuses. I shall not bore you with that pretentiousness though.
You're welcome :)
Anyhooo, I've protruded from hibernation just long enough to participate in WEP (hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee - and various minions) April challenge titled "PEACE AND LOVE." And that sigh of relief heard at WEP linky page was me when I read: just because April is poetry month, it doesn’t mean you have to post poetry. I think that sigh has been felt everywhere with the freaky weather this month in the form of high winds, tornadoes and hurricanes. Again - sorry, my bad.
Our hosts have prompted us authors with this sage advice: Create an artistic interpretation: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre is up to you. The artistic choice is yours.
Naturally I chose the fiction path. I had way to many ideas percolating in my witless pate over the past month about the meaning of Peace and Love to myself, and how to integrate it into A-Z. Words like peace officer and purgatory immediately sprang to mind. Almost too serious.
Eventually something whimsical plastered itself on a blank word document, and ever so slowly (meaning finished and polished last minute) paragraphs began to form into a consistent story. It weights in at 819 words, and I'm hoping its not too whimsical, too serious, or too abstract.
“Please pay the Piper at the end of the pier.”
“The –“ I looked around, not seeing pier or Piper.
“Piper at the end of the pier,” he repeated, pointing a thumb behind himself.
I looked behind him, into the distance. There was nothing. Nothing at all. No darkness, or white fog, or dim light. Impossibly, nothing. I blinked away the visage, then returned my questioning gaze to the man behind the podium. His long face had grown longer, his gaunt jowls and hinged lips sinking lower towards his tuxedo’d chest.
My mouth and thoughts stuttered over an appropriate response. Or question. He looked to be a shorter, more squat version of Herman Munster. Or the door knob in Walt Disney’s cartoon Alice In Wonderland that guarded the entrance to Wonderland.
“You are a prolific ponderer, aren’t you?” The door-faced clerk intoned. “You can produce the required payment?”
I recalled an old faerie tale that had nothing to do with a piper. “Two coins for the ferryman?”
His chin sank lower into his chest. “Follow the path as it presents itself. Pay the Piper at the end of the pier. Now push-off you procrastinator, you’re preventing the line from progressing.”
A brief glance confirmed there was nobody behind. I turned back to protest, and again found myself alone.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” I mumbled to myself as I started forward.
The creak of water-logged planks was immediately recognizable beneath my slippers. And familiar. My pace quickened, memories of my childhood home flooded my senses. The fishy smell of the freshwater pond we drew our plumbing from, the occasional cry of lonely gulls, the pier on the other side of the levy where the river rushed towards the mountain loch. And another sound, comfortable and haunting, just below the surface of hearing.
Panting and giddy, my old joints picked up the sea swagger of afternoons spent out fishing with Grandpappy Paeter. Peter Piper, the neighbors taunted him, as he puffed a single, long note that called the children in for supper. Late afternoon in the fall, early evening in the summer. The vale set its pace by Grandpappy’s pipes.
“Bag pipes,” I pronounced to the pier, the nearly inaudible hum putting a smile on my lips.
It seemed years since I last smiled. Free of the constricting needles and tubes, my arms rose in delight, my gnarled fingers nimbly pantomiming the complex placement as Grandpappy taught me. I could see the piper now, shrouded in a hooded poncho. He was short and looked gracefully quick despite the hump beneath the poncho.
The music lingered in my head, a song of morning celebration, and I pranced forward to see my old Grandpappy. But the Piper’s palm was empty, stretching between us from an impossible distance. And this wasn’t my Grandpappy. The ferryman’s face and hands were inked with indistinct designs in shades of indigo and blood, his eyes glowed orange. There was no mistaking the pipes poking out the poncho and parting his long dark hair.
This was indeed the Piper at the end of the pier.
Perplexed and feeling slightly childish, I poked my hands into my pockets. And was amazed to find each held a round metallic object.
A recollection 70 years in my past pasted a grin back on my face.
“Six-pence for the ferryman,” Grandpappy had teased on the last truly happy day of my life.
He’d given me the quarters prior to my first date with Patsy Cullen. He was to be our chaperone, fancied himself more of a Paladin. He’d pledged to play a funeral dirge for the date, to mourn the loss of his paramour’s carefree days of bachelorhood. I suspected he’d agreed to accompany us just to see the talkie version of Alice in Wonderland.
I passed the coins to the Piper, and jumped into the weather beaten rowboat. The years seemed to melt away as I rowed into a clear, warm day. White puffy clouds dotted an azure sky. A cool breeze lifted a tangle of dark hair from my forehead and ears. The sun was warm enough to slide the straps of my overalls off my shoulders and pull off my t-shirt.
I remembered this day.
Just ahead, Round Mound poked its greenery at the sky. Gulls swooped and dived for fish. The clouds floated just out of reach, and they all looked like Patsy Cullen with purple ribbons in her plaited hair. Tomorrow I would take her to a talkie, and then to ice cream. And perhaps she would reward me with a kiss.
But today was warm, the rocking boat put me in mind for a nap. I stretched out on the bench, bare toes tempting the fish just out of nibble range. Grandpappy played “Going Home” on his bagpipes. It was not a lonely sound to me, as it was to others.
I was at peace in mind, body and soul.
If you'd like to see how other participants interpreted the theme PEACE AND LOVE, click here for the linky list and blogfest details.