"The Right Fielder, The Left Fielder"
Standing deep in right field, the ball player had good mitts.
He was popular with his club mates, and with the fans who came to watch the game, because he was always busy fielding hits.
On the same club there was a player who stood, instead, deep in left field.
He, too, caught the balls batted his way. But because so few fly balls were ever hit into left field, he stood alone, watching the game crawl by before him. The right fielder -- arrogant with success -- and the fans, too, cajoled him; but never once did he budge from left field to jawbone back at them.
One electric week the club was to contest for the Pennant -- and the opposing team brought out new hitters, trained as lefties.
In consternation, the right fielder, the other club mates and
"The Weight, The Lever"
Strong as an ox he grew, as each day he hefted onto his broad shoulders huge fieldstones from his father's croplands, to carry them across the road and stack them into a playground wall.
One day a girl in the playground leaned over the wall and looked up into the eyes of the young man as he gently set down a huge stone, and asked him, "Why are you so unhappy?"
"I must carry and drop these stones all day," the young man replied. "I want more out of life, but know not how to change it!"
As he was about to mortar the huge stone onto the playground wall, the girl cried, "Wait! Bring the stone back here!" She led him around the far end of the wall to a seesaw.
"This will cheer you up!" She cried happily! "Stand on that end there," she pointed at the lowered
"The Purposeless, The Purposeful"
Residing in the body of a small, gentle man with a twitchy mustache and darting, smiling eyes was the greatest mind in the world.
As this man saw the world about him, unbidden solutions to all the world's ills erupted from the volcanic fissures of his brain.
Yet he put his solutions aside in a small notebook and spoke of them to no one, as if they were raw nuggets of gold in a small jewel box.
Over the years, the man with the greatest mind would sometimes retrieve an idea to change the world, rub it in his fingers to a burnished sheen, then, yawning in distraction, return it to the far, still niches of his awareness -- there to perch in the dust, inert and forever untouched by any other.
Residing in the body of a large dynamo of a man with a
"The Wanderer, The Strider"
Continental Divide crossed from Pole to Pole between their feet, on the grey peak from which each embarked to explore the world.
"Where will you go?" one explorer asked the other.
The first explorer stuck his finger in his mouth and held it up to the wind, then turned around and pointed downwind.
"That-a-way!" he replied.
Then he picked up his backpack and ambled wherever the wind blew.
Over the years this explorer meandered across the earth. He never was known for going the farthest, but was fondly remembered for his stories of the many different people well met on his rambling way.
The second explorer watched the first explorer traipse down the peak, then turned and faced the cold boreal wind, picked up his backpack, and strode.
Far and straight
"The Camel, The Donkey"
Beast before burden, or burden before beast?
Both a Camel and a Donkey were treated as beasts of burden -- and resented it.
Over years spent carrying water, tents, axes, poles and tapestries, the Camel grew ever more sullen -- until, one day, he began to spit.
Into everyone's face.
When, one scorched-bright day, the Camel, in his rage, leaned his head way, way down, stared into the green eyes of the sheik's favorite infant son, and hawked a big one square onto the little child's face, the Camel was freed from his burdens.
Over those same years spent carrying water, tents, axes, poles and tapestries, the Donkey, too, grew ever more sullen -- except for those who petted him, watered him, or gave him sugar cubes, to whom he returned only a
"The Fatuous Idiot, The Unrecognized Genius"
Small coastal towns were, once, all they knew.
One man ran the town garage. Though uneducated and a poor reader, one day he believed he'd designed a way to create unlimited and clean energy for all.
He bought five car batteries, arranged them in a loop surrounded by magnets and lightning rods, and attached this contraption to a light bulb. He then proclaimed he'd created a perpetual battery.
People came from miles away to watch the light bulb, which stayed lit for a very long while. Reporters from big cities flew in to interview the "unrecognized genius."
The sense that something had forever changed thrilled the air.
That is, until the light bulb eventually dimmed after the five batteries lost their charge.
So was the "unrecognized
"The Drunkard, The Recovering Alcoholic"
Drinking buddies was the generous way to describe them.
Together they drank whiskey in the evening, beer in the afternoon, and rum as morning punch.
Together they stumbled, insensate, down the streets -- and later the back alleys -- of their city.
And so stumbled insensate through their lives.
Yet one day, one of the drunkards, awakening in a cardboard box for a bed, stared up through gummy eyes at the bright blue sky and a single, fluffy white cloud.
He looked over and stared into the faces of the living, who passed just an arm's reach, yet so distant, from him -- then he reached over and plucked the stiff, mucus-stained sleeve of his fellow drunkard.
"I can't live like this!"
"So die," the other man mumbled, "and don't hurt my ears
"The Corner, The Duck"
Cheap business suit frayed and tie askew, a morose young man jaywalked along the city streets. He stared down at his feet, and at the cracks in the pavement and cigarette butts in the curb gutters, as he trudged on.
But as he turned a corner, he stumbled to a halt.
Two big, webbed yellow feet sat before him, on the concrete pavement.
He lifted his eyes -- and there stood a wood duck.
In the middle of a bustling, city sidewalk.
Its ringed, red eyes stared quietly at him, then it clapped its crimson bill twice, honked gently, and squatted down on the concrete.
The young man stared at the duck's green-crested, white-bridled head and the quiet, but blazing, regard of its eyes a moment more -- then shook his head violently, barked a short laugh, skirted the
"The Famous, The Great"
The void within a soul is a vacuum that hungers.
Unfulfilled in their jobs, the sisters grew restive.
The first sister took a long weekend to think on her future. When she returned the following week, she said to her sister, "I want fame!"
She quit her job and spent all her hours, every day and week, auditioning to be a model and actress.
When the attentions of dishonest agents and producers lay upon her, she did not refuse their overtures but ensured she was hired.
Acting skills neglected in her race to fame, she was cast in pornographic films -- and, with cosmetic enhancements, achieved some measure of fame.
In the twilight of her career, skimming over her dusty collection of blue movies, she confessed to her sister, "I desired fame in the world, and
"The Dog, The Parrot"
Families have characters as well as character.
In this small duplex the family characters were a dog and a parrot.
The brown wiener dog was a curious and cheerful sort. But one thing bothered its owners.
When the dog grew hungry, it barked.
When the dog got bored and wanted to play, it barked.
When the dog was scared, it barked.
The day when an intruder's face loomed in their front window -- the dog barked.
The little dog's owners loved it dearly -- but were never quite sure what it wanted.
Their grey parrot was a different sort entirely.
When the parrot grew hungry, it said, "More power, Scotty! I Need! More! Power!"
When the parrot got bored and wanted to play, it said, "Ten quatlus on the earthling!"
When the parrot was scared, it said, "Beam me up!"