Monday, November 21, 2011

Magpie Tales: Sinatra sang it


It was at camp one year.

Fire consumed the logs in angry red, shimmering on our faces. Pops and hisses, the wood let us know it was not going willingly, but its screams were unheeded. Outside the ring of its warmth, where we only ventured to relieve our aching bladders, the night quickly crawled under skin and into bones. Those that did leave in search of a tree returned pale and shaking.

Our counselor, the one in charge of our lodge, was Chris. His last name is no longer important. He was a college kid only a little older than we were at the time. Being his first time in charge of other human beings, he made sure we followed his every whim. If you did not, you were made to stand on the deck while everyone else settled into their bags.

This night Chris was showing a different side. For the fire time of the week, he was one of us.

He spoke low, causing each of us to draw closer until the heat from the fire clawed at our faces, but we would gladly pay the penance to hear what he was saying. His words were dark magic, explaining things we had never heard before, arcane and unusual. His eyes may well have birthed the flames they were so close to color in their reflection.

Chris spoke of a man who one day found himself burning with a flame that he could not put out. A fire that ate his body, little by little, that had no means of starting, other than it just did. It appeared and began the job of disposing of him. Chris called it spontaneous combustion and swore that it was real, that he could show articles as proof that it happened.

I lay awake that night, staring at the springs of the bunk above mine, tracing how they joined in hooks from one side to the next. They flexed and recoiled with each move of the bed's occupant. I imagined the pain as flesh blacked and cracked and wondered if it would hiss as the logs had on the fire that evening. Would it be quick or slow enough that the horror of reality would drive me to madness.

I know now that it will and that it is real. It gnaws at me, my muscles clenching and releasing in their rebellion and I listen for the hiss. It escapes my lips and I get a sideways glance or two but mostly everyone ignores or returns to the conversations. Happy, gay and intoxicated with the holidays, intent on trying the hor d'oeuvres, their talk is a dull roar pierced by laughter here and there. They are oblivious.

You bite the edge of your lips in a mischievous smile. Despite every one's ignorance, even fully clothed, you know what you do to me, with just one look. An olive perched on the edge of a tooth pick rises to pass your lips and I fear the pain may take me before they leave if you don't stop. Desperation lays siege to my thoughts with fantasies of how I might get them to leave, a slow burning madness that is us. Leaving us laying in a field of ash, the remnants of all else.

You look ravishing tonight, my dear.

This is a Magpie Tale.

89 comments:

JANU said...

You had me there, wonderful ending.

Laurie Kolp said...

Yes, desire can be painful. Love this vivid and captivating story, Brian.

Jyoti Mishra said...

Its always a treat to read your posts :)

Awesome storyline.... it just kept me hooked :)

izzy said...

Arcane is such a fine word- and truly draws the story teller and listeners in, down. I like the break away; multi-layered time fits the
shape, snaps and links us together.
Good piece, thanks.

C.M. Jackson said...

razzle dazzle with a whole of sizzle--great magpie...c

Slamdunk said...

You make those springs vivid.

It would have been a good time for a UFO sighting at the far end of the block.

Dave King said...

This is a super read, the vocabulary and all else so well judged. Congrats.

Mary said...

This was clever, Brian. The ending was an unexpectedly wonderful surprise

kez said...

really enjoyed reading this ...great ending too ...thank you for sharing x

Suz said...

rascal you
and marvelous imagination you have
and the ability to put it into words

Everyday Goddess said...

you weave a magical magpie!

happygirl said...

the fire that burns... Love the words.

Magpie said...

What a connection you made here!

missing moments said...

Outstanding images and surprised me with the ending .... very good writing!

Tino said...

, Sheesh Brian, that almost took my breath away. I was wondering just what your words had in connection with the image, that ending left me in no doubt whatsoever!

R. Burnett Baker said...

Ultimate intoxication! This leaves me with a happy feeling. Also reminded me of the feeling I had in junior high the first time I held hands with the girl I fancied!
didn't know I could remember that far back!!
Rick

Pat Hatt said...

Knew you'd connect the image by the end
With your fiery trend
A cold shower might stop that spontaneous combustion though
And prevent rising from ummm below
As your desire
Is truly on fire

SassyModernMom said...

You had me on the edge of me seat!

Caty said...

Great story! Just reading the title made me smile, and the rest didn't disappoint...your camp story reminded me of when I was young-I had heard about a girl walking on the sidewalk and just bursting into flames...As a child, I think that had me afraid to walk on a sidewalk for years!

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

As always, you have me from the start to the end of your story. Love it Sir Biran.

JJRod'z

The Bug said...

Excellent! And I don't even LIKE olives :)

Anyes said...

Is is the reason they call it "burning desire"? ;-)

Valerie said...

I felt better when I reached the end... for reasons you know about I felt somewhat uncomfortable in the first half. Nonetheless, your imagery is superb.

anthonynorth said...

Excellent and gripping.

Eva Gallant said...

You are such a passionate romantic!

Helen said...

I'm thinkin' that there are more than a few women out there ~ a little envious of your wife!

LadyFi said...

Wonderfully written - romantic too.

jane.healy said...

Good read here Brian

♫♪♥PhilO♥♪♫ said...

I loved the way you ended it. The mischievous smile.. and what all it does :)

william said...

wow Brian this was full of intrigue, loved it...

lori said...

I love when your stories leave me smiling :) I was a camper every summer, then a camp counselor every summer. I lived for those few weeks. We did some crazy things, but those are excellent memories. I love how it starts there and changes scenes without skipping a beat. And, I felt the sizzle. There's nothing like feeling that fire, and there's also nothing like knowing you're causing one.

The Empress said...

Smiling through tears.


Oh, this was so wonderful.

Whosyergurl said...

Wow. (I always say that, don't I?) I was a camp person, too, and have looked at that same underside of a bunk...the woven springs. Great description.
Your words slay me oh wise one.
Cheryl

Friko said...

hey, sexy!

Sue said...

So yummy, this is.

=)

Other Mary said...

Wow Brian...wow, can't believe where you got to from camp stories. Love the line 'His eyes may well have birthed the flames they were so close to color in their reflection.' This is good stuff man!

Promising Poets Parking Lot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Intense,

what a romantic write.
your extraordinary descriptions make her smile!

farmlady said...

Ok, that's quite enough. I'm too old to read such passionate stuff... well, maybe not it seems.
Enjoyed this immensely.

Madhulika said...

Loved the story-line...
The way you connected the pic to the story at the end was beautiful :)

California Girl said...

I keep looking for Sinatra...hahahaha

When I saw the photo and read the title, I immediately thought of a Paul Newman Joanne Woodward movie that was super dumb but had a catchy song title and thought, "Oh, maybe Sinatra sang that."

But it looks like Shirley McLaine in the photo and I'm trying to think of a song that complements or illustrates your story line:

"I've Got You Under My Skin" ?

So much for my thoughts.

Myrna R. said...

This was passionate, smart, and romantic. Great magpie.

(Brian, I've been preoccupied and hadn't noticed your new picture. What a handsome guy you are.)

Christine said...

Your writing curled around me... excellent and enjoyable.

thingy said...

I see why you have so many fans. Sizzling write.

Leovi said...

Wonderful story imbued with the magic of words. Greetings.

Sandi McBride said...

Stephen King anyone?
What a story teller you are, Brian!

Carrie Burtt said...

A sizling Mapgie Brian.....wonderful writing as always!! :-)

Claudia said...

how beautiful is that..?!
in the latest simon beckett i read...cold ash.. they explained that spontaneous combustion is not real...but where you get to in your last stanza, this is real and think we all could feel the spontaneous combustion of love..smiles

Glenn Buttkus said...

Some of us never were able
to afford to go to summer
camp, but most of us do
recall those flames of early
hormonal storms that burst
from our britches, spewed
steam from our ears, made
our cheeks and ears hot
as wood stoves; you catapulted'
us back to those adolescent
days of discovery, and it was
just a such a moment for
me at Denny Junior High when
I wrote my first serious poetry.
I was 13, and I've been scribbling
ever since.

Tara Miller said...

what an imagination you have to be able to weave these two things together so effortlessly. Very passionate write today love, I enjoyed it!

Lyn said...

A truly fatal attraction, only ash at the end.."crawled under skin and into bones"..quite a powerful piece, sizzling!

Heaven said...

I was really forward to how you would pen this as I love this picture.

Love the spontaneous combustion concept, fire logs, and anticipation of love. Neat ending too ~

Titanium said...

She's a lovely muse, that beautiful bride of yours! Beautifully written, beautifully inspired.

Pat said...

Oooh, this is delicious! I'm feeling the fire!

Vodka Mom said...

and THAT is what I am searching for.


The one person that will look at me with love.




for once.

manicddaily said...

Ha! Terrific. Very lovely. Very Olively! I hope you guests don't read this--or maybe they should!

One silly typo-- You have an "it's" instead of an "its" in first paragraph.

Jaime said...

i went to camp for many years...and i never heard any stories like that :)

Christine said...

That Old Black Magic never sounded so good, nice one

Jotter Girl said...

Great description of lying in the bottom bunk. I felt like it was me looking at the mattress and metal.

Carolina Linthead said...

Smokin', Brian! Add me to the list of those who loved the ending :-)

KB said...

I really enjoyed this one, Brian.

Mama Zen said...

Fantastic writing, Brian! Really loved this one.

Susie Clevenger said...

Whew...I think I feel the burn...great story drawing a word picture of actual fire to the fire of passion

Isadora said...

A good write with a surprise ending.
Well done ... Congrats on the award.
Isadora
http://insidethemindofisadora.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/i-will-not-tell/

Isabel Doyle said...

is it February already?
very romantic

Mijayami said...

omg - I love this! Especially the last paragraph.

It also amazes me how you can start with "It was at camp one year" and end with "You look ravishing tonight, my dear" and have everything in between flow so effortlessly from one place/idea to the next.

adeeyoyo said...

I love the analogy... great ending!

Arnab Majumdar said...

I had read about spontaneous combustion a long time ago. What I didn't know was why it happened.

Your reasons for it seem plausible enough :D

Cheers...

Lorraine said...

oh la la shivers all the way to my toes....

the walking man said...

What? No garage for a little flaming relief?

Cad said...

I like the writing very much, Brian. And the haircut.

Brian Miller said...

well there are some things you just cant share mark...smiles.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!!!!!
I love how you managed this one!

mylittlewordz said...

Love the image of the olive nearing the lips. Very neat.
Great write.
Jamie

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

BRAVO! What a wonderful read. You set the scenes so well...I recall stories from school about human combustion (real or not)...your form of it is so much more believable. Well done!

chiccoreal said...

Dear Brian: How provoking the fires of our desires. A very skillfull description of the bunkbeds, the fire in the eyes, the pain of heat on the face of the young campers! Also had you cutaway to the present, remembering that fire does produce this heat! Excellent, so well-written with brilliant imagery and imagination!

lifeisaroadtrip said...

Brian, your imagery is absolutely wonderful in this piece. And I am a sucker for Ol' Blue Eyes. This one was HOT!

Doctor FTSE said...

Very good read Brian.

cj Schlottman said...

"An olive perched on the edge of a tooth pick rises to pass your lips and I fear the pain may take me before they leave if you don't stop."

Phrases like that are what make your work so beautiful and honest and real. Keep telling the truth!

Namaste..........cj

Nicholas V. said...

An enjoyable read! Thank you!

Heather said...

oooh, whoa! The last paragraph is AMAZING!!!!!!

Katherine Krige said...

burning desire.

beautiful that the flame is alive and still as fiery as ever. T is a lucky lady. :)

Lena said...

I link this is just amazing. You're the master-ender of all endings...!

rel said...

Brian,
On my yes, the rapture of burning disire. It can not be extinquished, only dampened for a space.
rel

Syd said...

Spontaneous combustion has to have a release. I get it. I really do.

zongrik said...

i love this line

Despite every one's ignorance, even fully clothed, you know what you do to me, with just one look.

susan m hinckley said...

Loved loved loved this! The image of spontaneous combustion was a perfect and unexpected response to the prompt.

The Orange Tree said...

extraordinary descriptions,

I feel what you feel here,
Life becomes more meaningful because of stuff we hunger yet not being able to get it easily.

Happiness lies in the process of how we try to get what we dream for.

you are a talented story teller,
reading you is a treat.
keep up the excellence.

:)

Goofball said...

beautiful