Monday, September 17, 2018

Prose by Will Mayo - This weeks installments!

Same Song, People, Second Verse
Will Mayo

And so when Ben E. King was still a very young man he came up with that crazy cool tune "Stand By Me" which all the kids loved to hum as they went about their way. The fact that he composed dozens, maybe hundreds, of other songs over the years to come hardly even mattered. That was the song that people longed to hear. It sent a shiver right down all their spines. That it was given even more life as the theme song to the movie of the 1980s of the same name made the requests come even more frequently down Ben's way.
Never did he ask, "Don't you want to hear something else?" Instead, he just gave that old sad grin and sang his song again. It was, after all, one for the ages. And when at last, they laid him in the ground that song, "Stand By Me" could be heard yet again. That was Ben's moment. And not once, no, not once did he ever grow tired of the same old song. It was his to claim at the very end.

Where The Road Ends
Will Mayo

And then I dreamed that I followed that damned road as far as I could. It trickled out into one gravel lane and then a dirt road that ended just past a couple of lousy, rundown cattle gaps. I was in no man's land and hoped for the best. Slowly, I began the walk forward, seeing what good might come out of me now...

The Race
Will Mayo

Then there was that moonless night about 35 years ago when I joined my buddy for a round of drinks there in his hometown of Thurmont, Maryland and it was now time for him to head on to his college and time for me to head to mine.
Race you?” he asked, surely joking.
Sure, I'll race you,” I said, meaning every word.
So we were off with his car the better made but with me as well the more daring driver.
Whizzing around bend and down hill at speeds topping 80 and 90 miles an hour (this back in the days when a federally enforced 55 mile per hour speed limit was the law of the land), passing the signs for Lewistown and the Cactoctin Furnace where daredevils of another age manufactured cannon balls for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and then speeding up to nearly one hundred miles an hour, only one lane allotted to us in our direction, him slightly ahead of me, it seemed all for nothing...until in the distance we spotted an old jalopy driven by one little old lady who insisted on driving forty miles an hour no matter how, our cars slowed to a crawl, we hogtied her tail. Until, finally, I eased my car onto the shoulder of the road and stayed even beside my buddy and the little old woman. They looked at me as if I'd lost my mind (which surely I had) until the woman signaled and then got off at her exit, waving – I swear this is true – a little white handkerchief out her window. 

My man and I then stayed side by side, he on the road, me on the shoulder, for the remainder of the single lane stretch until the road divided and, with a lane apiece and with cars now all around us and not a cop in sight, we zipped and roared for the final ride, swerving our way around one errant vehicle or another, we completed our race, neck to neck, as I exited onto Hayward Road (then just a country road in those days with meadows lining the way) for the back entrance to the community college while he headed on down the highway towards his university. It was the end of one more road among many. We were young and reckless and alive and having the time of our lives. We gunned our engines in salute and then we were gone.

Friday, September 7, 2018

PROSE WITH AUTHOR WILL MAYO - This weeks stories are awesome!

The Human Fly
Will Mayo
And then there was George Willig, "The Human Fly," who walked up to the old World Trade Center in New York City back in 1977 and, as casual as you be, he grabbed onto ledge and windowsill and climbed from floor to floor up that mighty building. High above the crowds, among the high winds, he kept climbing until he reached the top where the police were waiting for him and with a helicopter they took him away to court. When the judge asked him why he'd done such a thing, Mr. Willig replied simply, "It was there." Then when the judge handed down the fine of a penny per floor and Willig paid it he passed away into legend. And in such a way was the old Tower sanctified.

For The Secret To The Blues Look In Your Soul
Will Mayo

So they said that Robert Johnson was buried close to the crossroads by where he sold his soul to the devil for the secret to the blues. Truth is, no one really knows where the man is buried.
The location of his remains are a mystery to all. But the mystery lives on of how the worst guitar player in the world overnight became the legendary blues singer of all time. And some say it all happened right there where those two roads meet...

Freddie's Show Of Shows
Will Mayo

And so when the critics accused Freddie Mercury, singer with the band Queen, of alienating his audience with the sensation he caused wherever he went with his procession of male and female lovers, Freddie could only reply, "Darling, don't you know a show is all there is to this life?" 
So he danced and he sang and he made love all the night through and when he died the critics had to admit something died right along with them...

Infancy's Dream
Will Mayo

And then a fevered dream came to me this morning of me as a little boy in my overalls on the porch of some young black family's shack as they all gathered around me and cooed and ahhed over me and said "He's all right" to each other. The year was 1965 and I was alive in a way as a little boy I would not be again for a very long time. Then I woke gray-bearded and old in the early morning light. Blinking my eyes, I knew only that I would have to start over all over again. It was a quick trip to my window to be sure of things and then I was on my way.

Will Mayo

Then, too, I think of Alma, the fat bellied cook at the restaurant down the road from here that drove her dishwasher friend and me all about the county some summer nights all while we guzzled our whiskey and beer and joked and laughed and made fools out of ourselves in the night. Alma, who drank not a drop and kept a stern eye on us boys so that we didn't take our shenanigans too far. Alma, who cackled with ease as she told us dirty jokes on the midnight hour.
"Alma!" I called out to her. "Have some whiskey. It's on me!"
"What do I want with that?" she asked. 

"Well," I said with a chuckle. "I'm told that it puts hair on your chest."
"What if I don't want hair on my chest?" she asked.
"Well then you don't have to drink it," I said.
"You got it, boys," she said, laughing. "I don't have to drink it."
And so she drove us around another bend of the night and we drank and joked some more. Soon, she left us out. Soon, we moved on. But for now the night was ours. We were young and alive and the whiskey tasted good. We looked ahead. The night rolled on and so did we.

Another Time, Another Place
Will Mayo
I'll never forget Walt. Him, just standing there in the doorway, smoking a toke - or toking a smoke, if you prefer - with his Afro, his halfgrown beard, and his horned rim glasses, saying, "Come on in, won't you? Come on in." And then there we all were - Beebee, short, round and black and constantly in a lotus position like the Buddha he resembled; Betsy there, having made her way out of Vietnam at the height of the exodus at the controls of a renegade helicopter; and Veronica with her bushel load of kids. Oh, yes, and me, Josh, with my long stringy dirty brown hair and halfassed goatee coming in for just a short stay from the country.
All of us, yeah, short moments from eternity fitting somehow luxuriously in those four large rooms of Walt's as if we had planetwide spaces to spare there.
It was as if we had all our lives to live there, drinking that cheap rotgut wine by the bottle and smoking joints as big as Groucho Marx's cigar. Never mind that it was already the 1980s and Ronald Reagan was in office with his greasy, slicked back hair and his welfare cutting ways. We made believe that time was ours and it would all stand still if only for us.
And then came the time to move on. We were growing up finally, kicking and screaming, throwing all our tokes out the door. Beebee ended up checking into a drug rehabilitation clinic never to return. Betsy got involved with Vietnam Veterans of America and rode her motorcycle out the open door of Walt's house, likewise never to return. Veronica's kids simply grew up, she needed another place. And, me, I was destined to give graduate school another shot, taking my schoolboy classes places where they had never gone before. All of us without exception were growing past it all. Past the tokes. Past the rotgut wine. Past those alternate states of being. There was no looking back.

Poor Walt never got past the heartbreak.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Every House
Will Mayo

Deep in the country of my dreams there is a home for me called Every House. And in this Every House lies every house I ever lived in, every bar I ever got smashed in, every roadside ditch I ever slept in, every alleyway and desert highway I ever crept through. Many are the fantastic rooms of this house. Many are the corridors and the faraway lands. And as I lie down for one more afternoon nap I wonder which door I will enter and which I will return by. When I come back will I be a new man or will I be the same old mean scoundrel who has raged down many a night? I know not. And yet I open that door and peer down its long dark hallway of secrets. Forever is the moment.

The Restaurant At The End Of Time
Will Mayo
I woke up on the 4 o'clock hour this morning with the strangest dream. It seems I was sitting in a large, spare dining room with three companions, none of whom I recognized outside of this dream, but all of whom, inside it, seemed – somehow - intensely familiar to me.
The four of us were seated around a large mahogany brown table that despite our small number we appeared to amply fill. Our chairs were wooden and carved with intricate designs of perhaps mystical meaning which none of us could quite divine. 
Quiet, we four - me, dressed all in black and with my goatee hanging low to my Adam's Apple; the Professor, as I thought of him afterwards, with his gray hair, haggard face, and all-white cotton clothes; the woman I thought of as simply, “that gorgeous dame,” with short, crisp hair turned about a round face, and – like me – dressed all in black; and the little fellow I called “the college kid,” with his immaturity, short crewcut, and braggadocio about some unknown ethnic origin – we said hardly a word to one another. Just downed the froth off our beers and looked about the darkened hall as we interspersed the language of silently creaking bodies and the touch of cold mead upon our throats with that of loud laughter echoing about the bar and coming back to haunt us from the shadows.
The bar itself was a lonely place. There appeared to be no one there but ourselves in the corner. The counter from which the drinks were served was empty but for the small clean glasses on top. Spigots cast shadows upon the sink and no bartender was in sight. Yet I had a feeling that the Professor, seated with us casually, downing his brew, was the owner and sole operator of this establishment. Not until the dream's end, however, would I know for sure.
Over in a recess in the wall, set apart by veils, was the object of our fixations, the place where magic resided. Here, in bright, shining paint that even the veils could not shadow, were the words on walls, formed of some unusual substance none could identify. The signs there shined so far out that we could easily make out the words through those veils, and the signs, too, appeared to be in plain English but I know now they could not have been. They were more likely signposts to hell than to that which they claimed to lead.
Here is what they appeared to read to my own eyes: “Britain AD 1000 – 19th Century,” “India-Pakistan: The Wars, The Tribunals,” “Ethiopia: The Forgotten Queen,” and, oh, so much besides. There seemed to be an infinity of times and places for our beckoning, and we – all of us – were drawn to the portals as if our very lives depended on them. But the words, those bright, shiny words were so vague in their spell that it's a wonder any of us took heed to them. Perhaps we were mesmerized by them in the way that a man, on his way to shelter, is sometimes cast into a daze by a passing car. Who can say? I myself may never know for sure.
One by one, each of us downed his own beer and entered the shining walk. All of us, that is, except for the Professor who remained in his seat.
The kid entered first and I followed him with that almost -omniscient eye that is so often present in dreams. I saw him go in a flicker of eye, a haze of brightness, into the Pleistocene Era, into a jungle, that is, where ferns grew as tall as the lizards, themselves as tall as the highest buildings in my hometown of Frederick, Maryland. Immediately – before he could even scream – the raptors found their prey in him and ripped him into bloody parts with their teeth and long claws. I would have broken down into yells and tears myself but the sight of those fearsome lizards was too much for me and I could say nothing at all. Finally, he disappeared into a flurry of red and my eyes were drawn back to the table.
Next up, I entered the portal. I disappeared into a Dickensian hell of the British Industrial Revolution, working like a doomed Oliver Twist in a grownup slave labor, emerging days later (but seeming like years) with sores aching and my clothes well ripped. I had survived – yet still was mesmerized by the signs.
The third, and last of us, to enter the portal was that “gorgeous dame” I mentioned earlier. She simply ruffled her hair with her hand, smoothed out her black-sequined dress, and ran off into the Roaring Twenties, twisting her hips every which way as she went in. When she reemerged from her travels (I had not dared follow her progress as I had the kid's), I asked her how it'd been. “I was dancing,” she said and the twinkle in her eyes told me this was true.
Then suddenly the dream changed. There was a quick flicker of brightness across the room and the lady I'd been talking to was gone. Now it was just me and the Professor – and neither of us was at the table any longer.
Rather, he was behind the bar wiping the counter down. For my part, I was a few feel away admiring a stand of hats made totally out of the fur of some small exotic animal and fitted together in places without mark or seam.
I was aware, too, that years had passed. The Professor looked even older and more haggard. In addition, he had grown a beard that was all-white albeit neatly trimmed. I knew as well that my own features had aged though I beheld no mirror to tell the difference.
How is Mrs. Simmons?” he asked as he smoothed out his white apron and wiped down the shiny bar. I said nothing though I could recognize the fact by now that “Mrs. Simmons” was the woman I had spoken to earlier about her trip to the 1920s, that “Simmons” was indeed my own name, and that she had been my wife. Also, I knew, as if the dream itself had told me such, that she had left me many years earlier and entered another one of those portals to a happiness I could never find, gone now forever from my dream of many dreams. I was able to discern that, yes, even at a restaurant at the end of time love can take its toll. 

I fingered those small furry hats once more. Then producing a bill of some strange foreign currency from my wallet, I paid the proprietor for these goods. He said nothing. Merely handed me a hat that was completely different from those I had beheld. It was a black hat etched with detailed pictures of ladies and gentlemen from different eras on wings turned flat. It was a magic hat. I looked at the Professor once more. An old charlatan, he was up to his bag of tricks once more. He had not changed one bit. No, not a bit.
But by this time (if “time” counts for anything in a dream such as this) I was angry with fury past the root of my desire. I had had a failed marriage and had seen – eons ago – a friend tortured and killed. In addition, my youth was gone. I wanted no more to do with magic.
It was time to flee this dream of mad, awful love and desire. Pressing my palms together into tight fists, I closed my inner eye, concentrated hard...and succeeded.
It was, as I've mentioned, the 4 am hour. Still early in the morning. My dream of countless time had taken but a few hours. I sat in smoky silence, looking for meaning where there was none. Then went back to sleep. Hoping for better dreams.
From SunDried,
a journal of sorts
May 22, 1996

When A Deal's Not A Deal
Will Mayo

While making my way through Manhattan in 1977 I came across a low  class man dressed in the cheapest clothes possible. Yet they seemed warm on a winter's night. I envied him that.
"Hey, man, want to buy a watch?" he asked.
And he rolled his sleeves up, revealing row after row of glittering gold watches.
"Uh, no, I don't think so."
How about some silverware?" he said. And opened up his coat to reveal necklaces and forks, knives and spoons hanging from the lining.
"Uh, no," I said.
"Well, what can I do for you?" he asked. 

"Well, what I'm really looking for is a ride to Canada," I said.
"Well, now let's begin to haggle," he said. "How much money do you have?"
"None," I said. And I showed him my empty wallet.
"Well, then you just give me that watch on your arm," he said, "and I'll get you straight off to Canada."
"You get me to Albany first and then I'll give you the watch," I said, wondering what I was getting myself into.
"No, sir," he said. "Just give me your watch and a deal's a deal."
"You're full of shit," I said at that point. And I walked off.
"Hey," he called out to me. "You'll be regretting this when somebody takes your watch for nothing."
I sighed and walked on. Somehow I knew it was going to be another one of those nights. I wrapped my hands in my sleeves and I walked back into the darkness. It was cold and the hours were steeped in desperation. Just another step forward. And then another. I was gone.

Monday, August 20, 2018

This Week With Will Mayo - Short Stories to Ponder

A Kathmandu Haircut
Will Mayo
I dreamed during a short rest a little while ago that I was getting a haircut in Kathmandu.
"Just a little bit off all the way around," I said to the barber.
"You got it," he said.
Then I asked, "What time is it?"
"About 9:30 in the morning," he replied.
Finally, I asked what year it was. 

"2030," he said.
Somehow, that didn't sound right to me but I said nothing about the matter.
My haircut was then done. I paid the barber in the coin of the realm and walked out into the sunlight beaming off the Himalayas around and made my way through the pagodas and dancing priests to the squares above. Wonderful, I said to myself. Life was good and I was content.
Then I woke to my so called real life and it was another day. Time to get my bearings.

Crossing The States
Will Mayo

I opened my eyes. Waking up briefly. Darkness all around save for a silhouette beside me. I was in a car. On a ride I had caught in Tennessee. It was January of 1977. We were crossing America.
"Wh-Where are we?" I asked.
"See those lights up ahead," the driver said. "It's Oklahoma City. Looks close but the terrain's so flat we've a way's further to go than it looks."
"Cool," I said and fell back asleep.
A little while later I woke again.
"Are we in Oklahoma City?" I asked.
"No," he said pointing at the lights in the distance which looked much the same. "Still a way's to go."
"Oh, all right," I said and fell asleep again.
And then I woke again.
"Are we there? In Oklahoma City?" I asked. For I was eager to see America.

"Not yet," he said. And still those lights looked the same. And I fell asleep.
Finally, I woke. The night I could see was turning to dawn. And the lights were nowhere in sight.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"Where are we?" the driver asked back. "Why, we are in Texas."
"Pass me that whiskey," I said. "I'd like to get to know Texas."
And he brought out a whiskey bottle from beside him and I took a draught, long, deep and bitter. We were alive, so alive in the world like never before and we were young yet. I passed the whiskey back and soon I got out and I thumbed another ride. Onward. Always onward.

Andrea And The Willow Tree
Deacon Scott walked out of Saint John's Catholic Church from underneath its soaring spires with a troubled gaze. He was newly ordained as deacon and while he had mastered all that he had needed to learn to come this far he felt that something was missing in his mission. He had had long discussions with Father Williams about everything from the basics of church doctrine to Pope Francis's Day Of The Poor yet he felt that he was lacking that core belief to the salvation of his soul let alone any others. Something would come, however. He was optimistic about that much.
He walked down the street, crossing carefully where Market Street met the church avenue, thinking perhaps a walk would clear his head. His steps quickened as he walked in this warm summer day taking in everything from the street venders to the musicians out singing for quarters. Nothing registered. He walked on.
As he headed down the last stretch towards the park, the sky quickly darkened, the rain came whistling down, the waters filling Scott's shoes. Never minding it all, Scott walked on.
And then just as he reached Baker Park, there was a flash of light, lightning cracked down from the sky and the young deacon saw it all. He saw the lightning cut right through that old willow tree mercilessly that had stood there for generations close by the bandshell, harboring wedding parties and drunken revelries alike for year after year after countless year, that old willow tree that met its own end of the road now as we all surely must. With a crack and a roar, it smashed its way to the ground, its topmost branches poking their way out of the ruin of a covered picnic table and bench that had been home to the old Andrea that he had talked to in his wanderings during his breaks from his studying for the ordination. Just as he knew Latin and Greek she knew the language of the streets and the two had reached an understanding few could ever really know save these two lost in the lore of the world. 
The skies cleared as quickly as they had filled with the pouring rain. Crowds of people came and stood around the base of the willow tree, from newspaper reporters to the mayor, and stood and mourned the passing of this mighty tree that had stood for generations, all their lives, really.
But the deacon's eyes were not on the base of the tree but upon its topmost branches which had once reached to the heavens and had now destroyed Andrea's home. Out of the death of the old, he felt that somehow something new would emerge. A better life if not a new one.
And so he wrapped his arm around Andrea's shoulders and said,
"Come, Andrea. Let's get you a better home."
With that, they walked together out of the park, the young Catholic deacon and the old African American homeless woman, seeking something new in the world. Something would come out of all this. They could only do it together, not apart. And so they walked on, the sun shining brightly down on them all the way.

With Memories Of The Valley
Will Mayo
Battered about the cornfield,

the old crow wandered.

Here, an ugly face full of straw

brought lost reminiscences
best not remembered.
There, pine needles too sharp for the brood
sent him in another direction.

Another compass sent him in sight of hunter's guns,
manned by those too old and blind to tell the bird.

Still he flew upon wings worn tired by time
and air gone heavy with condensation.
Remembering mates lost by the age
and young born for some reptile's fancy.
Till at last the clouds came down.
With heaven's hands he flew on
in search of the green valley.
Memories grew better with the dawn.

Friday, August 17, 2018


The Great Red Horse Robbery

It was the summer of 1978 here in Frederick, Maryland and, boy, were we bored stiff. The whirlarama was dead to us as was the local putt-putt at the miniature golf course. And all manner of pinball wizards had come and gone and we'd seen it all. We sat there at Ray's, with Tony and Bobby and Bobby Sue and me in hand, trying to decide what to do with it all.
"There's the circus," I ventured.
"It's not worth it," Tony said. "They don't have any elephant." And it's true, no circus worth its name would go without one.
"There's the freak show," Bobby said.
"That's no good either," I said. "Once you've seen one dwarf pound a nail in his head, you've seen it all."
We turned all possibilities to and fro from the bellydancers down beyond the Valley to one last trip to Wolf Rock until at last Ray, our main man, spoke up with joint in hand.
"You know the Red Horse Steakhouse out on the Golden Mile?" he asked.
We all nodded. It was the premier restaurant in all of town.
"And you know that statue of the red horse that stands on the hotel beside it?" he asked.
"...Yes....Yes..." There were murmurs all around.
"I say we steal it," he said."
There were gasps and intakes of breaths all around but no one ever said no. So we all gathered together to steal that legendary horse and see our names set in gold. Tony grabbed his rope. Bobby gunned the motor of his pick up truck. Bobby Sue gathered some blankets to cover the evidence of our misdeeds along the way and I came along for the ride as Ray fired up another joint. 

When we finally got there beneath the midnight moon down by where the shadow of the hotel and moon made its mark while cars went whizzing by, Ray gave his instructions.
"I'll climb the corner of the building and set the rope just so while Tony'l heave on the makeshift pulley and Bobby and Bobby Sue will start necking to distract the cops and you, Willie, get to being foolish now, will you?"
So Ray climbed the corner of the building, his feet on every crack with the joint clenched between his teeth, as Bobby and Bobby Sue got to making out as only they knew how to do while I got as foolish as I always could. Ray tied the knot around the red horse's belly and, darn, if. what with the other end of the rope wrapped around the fence around it acting as a poor man's pulley, didn't it just lift up in the air then and there and, with two strong men pulling, it came down to us all there in the parking lot. Ray and Tony came down from their derring-do and joined us and, what with a lot of lifting, we got it into our truck under a layer of blankets as we made out with it as the merry couple made out the best ways they knew how.
For the next six weeks that horse stayed hidden in Ray's shed as all manner of headlines blared from The Frederick News-Post and radio station Whacko. "Hotel Loses Its Horse." "What Will This Community Ever Do Without Its Horse?" "Curse Of The Horse." As always, the cops didn't have a clue. They'd been too busy watching Bobby and Bobby Sue make out.
Finally, it got to be the Fourth of July with fireworks exploding from the old gathering place on Seventh Street and with all the town distracted from our business the stoned man said quietly as the sparklers came on down, "Time to put it back."
So we repeated our business with the makeshift pulleys and Ray climbing that hotel with his obligatory joint and Bobby and Bobby Sue made out with one another and me acting awfully foolish as always and damn if we didn't all pull it off. Another moonlit night not a cop in sight. And Ray kept getting higher and higher and lost in thought.
"What now, Big Man?" we all asked him when the business passed.
"What now?" he said. "On with our lives , that's what's now."

And so the years passed and everybody got on with things. Ray joined the priesthood. Tony got to be big in the local Republican Party. Bobby and Bobby Sue got hitched and went into the restaurant business as did all their grandchildren (you should just see the pie ala mode their granddaughter makes. It's out of sight). And I got busy playing the town fool which is my own remarkable specialty. As for the restaurant and hotel, they've changed hands any number of times but that old statue of the red horse remains on top of it all still. Its feet bolted down in concrete, it watches over all.