West Virginia Road Trip by geoff dude | Flickr
My Grandpa's Tremories
“That’s how they getcha,” Grandpa whispered in sync with Kevin Bacon. “They’re under the got damned ground.”
I grinned, loving the moment.
“Sons of bitches,” Grandpa mimed cocking a rifle in time with Kevin. He raised it to his cheek, aiming at the TV. “Boom!”
I slap the couch. “You get it every time.”
“Kevin hits it every time,” Grandpa leaned back in his ancient recliner, folding his hands across his belly. His eyes flicked toward me, curious. Then they lit up with recognition. “Kevin! Want to watch Tremors?”
It was the third time he’d asked. “Of course, Grandpa.”
My father stomped in, crossing his arms across his chest in a poor imitation of his father. “Dad, you know you shouldn’t be watching this.” He turned his crossed arms to me. “And so do you. It gets his heart rate up.”
“Quiet,” Grandpa said. “What are you doing in my house?”
My father pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m Clark. Your son.”
Grandpa stuttered. “No, my son is in Boston.”
Father punched the power on the TV. “Kevin, no Tremors.”
“Kevin?” Grandpa smiled at me. “Wanna watch Kevin Bacon shoot some monsters? We don’t have to tell your father.”
“How ‘bout Wheel of Fortune?” I ask.
Grandpa leaned forward. “He doesn’t have to know.”
My father’s face turned red, then his body sagged as if he were being dragged down into the sand by a worm monster from the movie his father loved. He hit the power button. Kevin Bacon’s sharp face appeared.
“Get them suckers, Kevin,” Grandpa whispered.
Father sank onto the couch next to me. “Let’s do this, Kevin.”
I grinned, loving.
The Pinecone Wars
I remember the pain and delight of growing up in the 1990s and the war that defined them. This war, like many, had more than two sides. More was fought for than only wrong or right. And where there were Conifers there were battlefields.
The corner of Lathrop and Poplar was a particularly brutal site. Skirmishes broke out there nearly every Sunday. Whistling pinecones were only silenced by church bells pleading for peace before the service.
Like every war, casualties were high. A pinecone in the eye ended the sweaty summer Battle for Turkey Creek. A fractured wrist installed a distrustful truce until the wounded used their wrist sling as a compartment to hide ammo. The espionage was a success for the wounded, but it led to the unmerciful massacre at Stonewall Park.
It was a messy war. The conflict was born of many things. Sometimes anger, sometimes jealousy, many times boredom. And, if all parties were honest with one another, it was fought out of joy.
Unlike some wars, this one ended.
The final pinecone thrown in the Pinecone War of the 90s was anything but spectacular. The pinecone struck its target and fell on the pine needles. The victim only fired back with a volley of words. Words more deadly than any speeding cone and more painful than any broken bone.
I remember those words that brought the decade long conflict to an abrupt end.
Lee Douglas has an MFA in creative writing from Lindenwood University. His work has appeared in See Spot Run, Liquid Imagination, and the Whispering Prairie Press among other publications. Lee is the kind of guy that spends his quarantine drunk and panic editing his prose and poetry into oblivion. When there's not a global pandemic he's usually in a library panic editing his prose and poetry into oblivion.