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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Little, stray bird. By John von Daler

             The little, old Russian sat on the edge of the bench in the train station in Copenhagen. Beside him to his right on the platform were two plastic bags filled with clothing and souvenirs from his stay in #Denmark.

            On his left, seated at the back of the bench, was a young Danish woman dressed in thigh-length shorts and a cotton pullover shirt with long sleeves. On her feet were practical, thonged sandals. Her brown hair was cut short and straight. They sat quietly waiting for his train.
            He had already thanked her several times for the hospitality of her commune. Now he sat silently and watched the commuters on the next platform as they scurried to get to work.
            He had asked expressly to be accompanied to the train by any one of the young women in the group. The young man he had approached last year in #Gorki Park seemed surprised not to be asked, but at this point he had given up trying to understand or much less predict what the old man would say or do.
            After all, it is not normal to wash out free plastic bags and hang them to dry. Nor is it customary to make a strong pot of tea on Monday and to use it as a kind of condensed starter for the next three days, pouring hot water into a quarter cup of the strong tea. Nor would anyone in the commune ever have purchased a 2 kg. sack of potatoes to eat for dinner every day of the week, as the old man had, explaining that he did not want to impose on their hospitality for his meals. It was enough with the free room and bed.
            The young man had never entirely understood how the old man had discovered him playing his accordion in the park in #Moscow. But they had started to talk. It turned out that the old guy was quite the expert on the great Danish defeat at #Dybbøl in 1864. In fact he knew more than most Danes about their history.
            He needed help from a Dane to get to Denmark, signatures on visa applications and such. He would love just once to see the country of his studies and of his dreams.
            When asked where and how he lived, he described his one-room apartment in Moscow. He shared it with another old man who lived on the other side of a sheet that they had hung from the ceiling to divide their room. They never spoke. It was better that way.
            The applications had not taken much time to fill out and sure enough the old man had been allowed to take the train to Berlin and then on to Copenhagen. The young man had promised him temporary lodgings in his commune.
            The Russian had also taken the train to #Dybbøl, to hear the echoes from the great Austro-Prussian war-machine of 1864 as it had hacked and smashed the Danish ego and soul down to size. Then he had lived in solitary wonderment with them in the commune for a couple of weeks until someone had suggested that perhaps he should go home again.
            So here he was today at the train station. The train to Berlin had finally backed into place. Now his homeward journey was about to start.
            The young woman whom he had asked to accompany him suppressed a yawn and stood up to give him her hand. He remained sitting on the bench and with parallel hands made a kind of downward supplicative movement. He wanted her to sit back down.
             Now he looked her in the eye for the first time today.
            "I want to ask what you may think is strange question." He stopped to give her a chance to answer. She remained silent. He cleared his throat.
            "May I, I know is very personal, but I want #memory... to #touch, how should I put this... touch with my finger... no my hand... your knee."
            He stared at her face. She waited a moment as her mind sorted through the dangers or threats that could be contained in this request.
            "Just one touch," he added.
            She looked at the clock above the platform. His train would be leaving in six minutes. She tried to imagine for a second what life would be like for him back in Moscow. She could not. Nor could she interpret the place of her knee in his universe.
            Finally, she nodded, yes.
            He looked gratefully at her and then turned his attention to the bare knee between them. His right hand descended quickly onto it lest she reconsider. It lay still on her flesh, shaking slightly but otherwise motionless, like a little stray bird that had landed there to die. Then he looked up at the clock. Removing his hand, he got up, smiled at her and walked onto the train. He did not turn around or wave.
            As the train pulled away she saw him sitting by a window. He stared out the window and up at the ceiling of the station from the moving vehicle. He's waiting to see the sky through the window, she thought. To see a bird fly.



                                Don't stray
before you have seen
my book:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Que Sera. By John von Daler

                    My puberty dreams played out like a version of "Moby Dick" written by a man who never had seen a whale. As I paced the slippery and wobbly deck of my subconscious, young women sailed in and out of my arms in vaguely erotic patterns. But I had no sense of what to do with them.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dropping Off. By John von Daler

                       Years later I read Poe. All those black cats, evil eyes, swinging pendulums and furious maelströms brought my thoughts back to my own little experience of terror.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Merry-Go-Round. By John von Daler

              I rang the bell. There was a long silence, then footsteps, then nothing, and finally the door opened just slightly.
         "Why?" said a voice. "Why here? Why now? Why at all?" "I have no inkling," I said.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

By chance. By John von Daler

                     I, too, participate in mankind's great subconcious pool of memories, dreams and angst. Like many other humans, what my reptilian brain fears the most is, well, reptiles.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Laughing last. By John von Daler

           Being together with her you could feel that significant things were going to happen. At fifteen she possessed something that would grow more powerful for every coming year.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Speaking of the War. By John von Daler

                                "That war just had to be fought! It was justified!" a young man shouted. "For many important, indisputable reasons!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Read Me. By John von Daler

                   "Mommy, Mommy, they're calling me names!" I used to yell, not realizing at that age how much the same problem would trouble me later in life.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Salt of the Earth. By John von Daler

                        Well-intentioned doctors had made their points very clearly: cut down on the salt or you both will die of heartattacks.  The old couple had undoubtedly heard and understood the message, but what was life without the pungeant gravies and sauces of Sunday dinner?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Orpheus Transcendent. By John von Daler

                       Like a #cubist painting the violinist's movements seemed to stutter even as they shifted position.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

By myself. By John von Daler

                      The first part of the book was okay. He didn't think there were going to be any problems. He just told it the way it had happened.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

'Round Robin. By John von Daler

                  This blog appeared recently on a website called "Fowl Play: a bird blog".

Thursday, October 2, 2014

On the Stoop. By John von Daler

                        Through the layers of dust and dirt on the pane behind the untrimmed potted plants on the sill the Storyteller could see there must be some sun outside.

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