Monday, July 30, 2018

The Three Widows by RM Martinez


All characters and events in this story are entirely fictional.

The three widows first met during senior aerobics.  They became good friends and were soon making plans to get together during the week.
The aging women went out to lunch, had their nails and hair done, and often found other things to do to pass the time.  They called them “outings,” and it pleased their grown children. It freed them from having to entertain their mothers.  When the three friends offered to take each other to doctor appointments as well, the children, especially their spouses, were even more delighted.
One day the youngest of the three, the one with emphysema from breathing in years of her late husband’s cigarette smoke, was called in to the police station for questioning. She had a real estate license so her fingerprints were on record with the state. On a random search, her thumbprint matched one found on a bat, the weapon at a gruesome murder scene.
When questioned about her whereabouts on the day of his death, she claimed two alibis, so her friends were also called in to the police station.  The oldest limped in with the help of her cane.  A stroke had left her with limited use of her right leg.  The middle-aged widow seemed the healthiest, the spryest. She burst into the station as if she owned the place and hurried over to the youngest to check the level of oxygen in her mobile tank.
The police questioned each one separately about their whereabouts at the time of the murder, but it all came to a stop when the middle one rummaged through her purse. She looked up through her thick bifocals and smiled at the female detective. Among all the trash at the bottom of her bag, she retrieved a tattered movie theater ticket. It had the date and time stamped on it along with some questionable chocolate smudges. The three were at the movies that day, she said.
But what about the bat?  The thumbprint?
The youngest had donated a bunch of old toys recently to Goodwill. She recalled several old bats that once belonged to her sons among the boxes of things.
Their stories all matched, word for word, so as the detectives studied the three elderly women through the one-way mirror, they agreed there was no way these feeble women could have overpowered a young man, six foot tall and muscular.  The three old widows were released to their children, and as they drove their sweet mothers home, they commented, incensed that anyone would even consider their dear mothers involved in the heinous death of a repeat sex offender.
 It wasn’t until the following Monday that the three widows ventured out of their houses again.  They showed up at the gym with plenty of time to warm up before their aerobics class.
“Don’t you ever forget your surgical gloves again.”  The oldest whispered into the youngest’s ear in case the gym was bugged. “You almost blew our covers.”  She turned to the middle-aged one. “Thank goodness, you never empty that garbage bag of a purse of yours.  It saved our skins.”
“I guess we better cool our outings for a while.” The middle-aged one replied.
“But the next one on our list is that lawyer who got acquitted for killing his wife for her money.” The youngest said. “The one who is already shacking up with the hussy who used to be his wife’s hospice nurse.”
“Give it time.  We have to be extra careful now that we've been fingered. Arrogance will be his undoing, and then we will go through with his outing.” The oldest ran an osteoarthritic finger across her throat. “Evil never sleeps and neither do we.”






Monday, July 23, 2018

The Cousins/Los Primos



July 23, 2018
          The idea began five months ago at my mother’s funeral.  Cousins from both sides of the family talked about getting together at a party of our choosing, instead of waiting for a death or a wedding to bring us together again.  We needed time to get to know each other; we needed time to share family history and stories.   
Only one uncle and one aunt remain of my mother’s entire generation, so it was up to us The Cousins (Los Primos) to tend to the family tree. Our parents and grandparents were brothers and sisters to each other, and we the cousins had once also been close, childhood friends, but marriages, careers, and travels had taken us down different paths. It took a small group of The Cousins (Los Primos) from my mother’s side of the family to take on the formidable task of hosting a matriarchal family reunion on short notice, but it was one amazing afternoon.  
We have an astounding history; we have memorable stories, and by sharing them with each other, we hope to inspire future generations.  
Because my mother’s family history was so important to her, I looked up what I could about her heritage, and I noticed a pattern of strong women:
-       a great-great-grandmother who immigrated husbandless with her children to Texas from the state of San Luis Potosi in Mexico,
-       a great-grandmother left penniless to raise four young teenagers during a time when widowed women were easily cheated out of their fortunes,
-       a grandmother who raised her five children alone during the Great Depression and World War II while her husband went off to eke a living as a migrant worker for months at a time,
-       and my mother who dropped out of school after the eighth grade to help her mother support her younger brothers and sisters.
There is a lot to be added to this history and to these stories, but the reunion has provided me with additional names and dates. There is a lot that needs to be revised. Genealogical records sometimes misspell or transpose names. They sometimes do not provide correct birthdates and dates of death. Hopefully, the information gathered at the reunion of Los Primos will help me fill in the blanks and send me in search for more information.
Most importantly of all will be the tribute to our antepasados and the stories of the grandmothers and their families, inspiring the future generations in our family to bravely strive for more. 
         

Monday, July 16, 2018

So I Prayed



          Walking into my fourth-grade classroom, the teacher announced a pop quiz over the history chapter she assigned for homework, the one I didn’t have time to read, because I had math homework, and science, and spelling words, so . . . I prayed and promised all kinds of things, if only He would help me get through the pop quiz without failing.
          My mom interrogated my baby sister about the pearl necklace she found in her jewelry box.  I was next, so . . . I prayed for forgiveness, not because I was going to confess my guilt since I was the one who played with it when it broke into beads, but because I was going to lie and weasel my way out of a spanking. By some miracle, my baby sister got blamed, no one got spanked, and I still kept my promise to be extra nice to her for a whole week.
          Fast forward a few years.
          I hate thunderstorms, heights, and scary movies.  They give me nightmares, so I pray and He sees me through my fears. Prayer also got me through the years of depression and grief when my first marriage ended and I considered suicide.    
          Every morning, I stood by each student desk in my classroom and prayed for the child who would sit in that chair. I prayed for them as children and for them as students.    
          I prayed every day on my way to work and on my way home for my own children, and especially for my youngest son while he was off being a Marine serving his country.
          I still pray first thing in the morning, and I pray again the moment I lay my head on my pillow at night. 
          Best of all, I prayed for HoneyBunch.  After my divorce, I was prepared to live the rest of my life as a single person. I was grateful for all my blessings, but if there was someone else “out there” for me, maybe He could send him my way. And He did.
          So, yes, I pray.  It is as natural to me as breathing or thinking or being. It gets me through the day.         

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Mother of a United States Soldier




My paternal grandmother saw three of her four sons sign up and go off to fight in World War II.  My maternal grandmother saw all three of her precious sons drafted in the early 1950’s during the Korean War.  Several of my male cousins, including my older brother, served and some died in the Vietnam war.  Those who came home were changed forever, but their parents stood proud, supportive of their sons’ service.
When the draft ended in January of 1973, many mothers (and fathers) rested easy; their sons could choose to serve or not.  Even with that freedom, some of my family, both women and men, have joined the US service and made it their careers.  We are proud of their patriotism and selflessness.
My youngest joined the Marines during his senior year and in June of 1999, just weeks after graduating from high school, he went off to boot camp.
He made a studied decision and though I cried about it, when it came time to drive him to the drop off point, he deserved my respect and loyalty.  He was a grown man and would always have my undying love.
From that day forward, I “had his six.”
He was deployed in 2001, 2003, and 2010, and with each deployment I noticed increased differences in him, so when someone disrespects the flag, trashes this country, and encourages divisiveness, my patriotism comes to the fore.  There are those who do not understand the immense sacrifice our military gives to create and keep this country safe.
For every problem, every injustice, every failing we see in this country, let’s work toward solutions and honor the sacrifice millions have made to ensure the survival of this country.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Ode to the Simple Sentence



          The marvelous sentence seems so simple a preschooler can string one together without thinking; yet, it’s amazingly complex in its construction.
          A composite of numerous careful, deliberate, and creative decisions, its basic construction can be taught easily; but only a dedicated wordsmith can transform it into a memorable work of artistry.
          Like any other aspect of language learning, we listen and observe before venturing to imitate and form a sentence.  We learn to speak by speaking; we learn to write a sentence by writing. 
But some writers venture farther; they create.
          Like their fellow artists - musicians and painters -, the writer looks at each single word like a beat on a sheet of music or a stroke of the brush on canvas. Each word is deliberate; every punctuation mark is a nuance filled with meaning.
          What needs to be altered? Cut? Revised? Expanded?
          The writer artfully and courageously choreographs each sentence. Clarity and intention, visual and rhythmic appeal, syntax and grammar rules – all color the canvas for innovation and uniqueness.
          The simple sentence becomes an extraordinary and memorable work of art.