Sean P. Mahoney
Captain Dinny’s Horn
Could there be a grander place in all the world? When the sun is splittin’ the stones across the whole west of Ireland, and yer lolling atop a cask of the black stuff set on the bow of a barge floating softly into the heart of Limerick, with near the whole of the city going mad for yer arrival?
If one’s better, I’d trade it for there. For it was in that very spot I first saw the lads, the two of them basking in the youthful glories of a summer adventure.
I’d say the faint melody from the distance that delivered them there was nearly all they’d talked of since that poor mucky horse had her swim in the winter. Every day after, whether in the hot murk of the forge or off on the high meadow, the two kept a keen ear out for the deckmen’s shrill horns sounding their warning for the lock-keeper: hold her open or get her that way. They learned well enough which calls belonged to which boats, but they knew only one could trumpet a song just for them. Just one that carried the promise-maker. It was that boat they waited on.
They both swore to Christ they heard their clarion call on a late April morning, even over the rain lashing the roof of the small McCabe forge. Even over the unfortunate fullering of an axehead.
Only but twelve, Rory was already strong enough to hoist the smaller sledgehammers and deliver a blow bang on, at least on the more simple jobs they took in. He was a ginger bull of a boy, the spit of Liam at the same age, but a real messer as well, all bold energy and cheek. Nevertheless, and much to his father’s gratification, he was indeed showing a precocious feel for the subtle rhythms and tempo crucial to becoming an adept striker. Liam held his hopes for his son right alongside his patience.
Also twelve his own self, and the chalk to Rory’s cheese in nearly every way, Conor had a dextrous and steady hand for the iron, with a faculty for the finer bends and subtle twists that might someday produce true artwork, if there was any call for such niceties. There was not. Most needed horseshoes or hoes. Nails and bolts and the routine repairs of the bent axle or the bockety wheel. But Conor’s crafty promise was unique to Liam’s experience. The lads had their days in the forge since they were walking, but certainly Liam had never taught them anything of finesse … and he couldn’t credit his own good stock as the source of it. Conor O’Neill was only his son in every other way but birth.
Liam McCabe shaped his iron better than any smithy in the parish. You wouldn’t get a debate on that. At near fifteen stone, he wielded the hammer and tongs on the heavy metal without a bother and deftly worked the more intricate settings with equal prowess. He’d shown a knack for innovation in his younger days, some had even accused him of a wanton flourish, but he rarely conceded due cause anymore and by all accounts had managed to stifle it well down into naught. Deliberation was his first rule – one of few, all steadfast. If the lads were to glean anything from him, whether off his gruff instructions or through daily observations alone, that would be his wish. Never a blind alley.
Friday night and my workweek is over. A long awaited “night out with the girls” was my plan for the evening. Rummaging through my jewelry box, I search for my diamond stud earrings, and a childhood treasure catches my eye–a blue marble. Does it seem strange to find a marble in an adult woman’s jewelry box? Not to me.
I collapse on my favorite soft velveteen chair exhausted from my busy workweek. Without hesitation, I am back there, at our old rock and adobe homestead house known as “The Philly Place,” named after my Papa, Philadelphia Gonzales. The house is located a few miles east of Branson in southeastern Colorado. Many years ago when Papa
Lawrence G. Taylor
A Day in the Life of Mr Charlie Cheddar
London. Summer, in the late ’60s
TODAY IS GOING to be an important day, so important that I wouldn’t be turning up for work, which is quite unusual for me. For I seldom stay away from my monotonous assignments, due quite frankly to the financial burden of having chosen to reside in this highly expensive city. My tasks are that of a low-ranking clerk, at one of Her Majesty’s North London Post Offices. And surely I will be missed, for I’m a good white-collar worker. At least that’s what my boss, Mr Armstrong, once or twice implied. It will be quite a busy day, for today is Saturday.
Before Big Ben strikes nine, I’ll have to summon up the courage to inform Mr Armstrong from my landlady’s telephone that I will not be coming in today. The pretext will be an ‘acute stomach ache’. About my absence, Mr Armstrong may not be happy, but I should be able to stand my ground, for I believe he holds me in high esteem: reliable, hardworking and trustworthy.
Mind you, Mr Armstrong isn’t someone easily fooled. It requires a well-performed act of insincerity to mislead him. Mr Armstrong is very rigid in his demeanours and is feared by us who work under his command. He’s a retired sergeant in Her Majesty’s Army, fought in the World War II, and is quite proud of his war effort against ‘them Jerries’. Soon his pension days will be upon him, and much to the delight of most of my colleagues.
This early morning of July already shows promising signs of bright weather. And with some hope, the day will be a turning point in my life. A certain event, planned to take place later on this supposedly blessed day, is expected to transform my lonely and unhappy life into one that will be cheerful and friendly.
Trustingly, it will no longer be an isolated existence, consisting of my mother’s letters of spiritual support, supportive of my ups but mostly downs in this vast, cold (in every sense) metropolis,
José Vicente Alfaro
The Karmapa’s life was waning. His time had come and he, more than anyone else, was perfectly aware of it. The light of a bunch of candles penetrated the half-darkness of the room, showing glimpses of a beautiful fresco on the wall. It was dedicated to Avalokiteshvara, the most popular Buddhist deity among the Tibetans. Incense, burning as a symbol of purification, gave off an intense aroma which permeated every corner of the wide hall. The Karmapa was lying on his cotton bed, almost in his death throes, with a mala in his hands and a mantra in his mouth. He had the mala—the Tibetan rosary—wrapped around his wrist, and as he passed the beads he recited the tireless mantra of his own creation, the famous Om mani padme hum, barely moving his lips.
The old Buddhist leader awaited the moment of his death with a serene expression. The sunken eyes and faded cheeks were the only signs of the exhaustion of his worldly body. The Karmapa had served his people well. He had spent the first part of his life within the walls of the monastery, being trained in the ritual practices and religious services, learning the holy texts and meditating unceasingly. But the second part he had devoted to preaching the Buddha’s teachings throughout Tibet as well as abroad, both to noble people and rulers and to the poor and disinherited of the land. The death of the old lama would not simply be one more death. The figure of the Karmapa as head of the Kagyu School, one of the most important in Tibetan Buddhism, was venerated by hundreds of thousands of followers due to his indisputable spiritual leadership.
Together with the Karmapa, accompanying him in his final moments, were two other lamas, both with shaven heads and the traditional saffron Buddhist tunic.
One of them, Tsultrim Trungpa, was looking out at the horizon through the window, below which lay the Tsurphu Monastery. It was set in the middle of a narrow valley at nearly fifteen thousand feet, near the town of Gurum and forty miles or so from Lhasa. Surrounded by high snow-capped peaks, it looked almost otherworldly. Tsurphu Gompa was the seat of the Karmapa. This true monastic city was a complex made up of temples, schools and residences, inhabited by almost a thousand Tibetan monks. Tsultrim stared out as far as he could. That morning the gompa was hidden by a thick white fog, a sure indication of the imminent death of the spiritual leader of the Kagyu lineage.
Robert Duncan enlisted in the Army in September of 1962 as a field radio and carrier operator with the military occupation specialty (MOS) of 293. The Army would later change this MOS to 31M. He attended basic training and Signal Corp Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Bob completed his basic training and received orders for thirteen months in South Korea. He had absolutely no idea what to expect being assigned to Korea and was completely unaware of the incidents involving the North Koreans in the DMZ. In the early 1960’s, soldiers were typically transported to overseas assignments by boat which was a long, miserable trip that most dreaded. Bob was prepared for this awful trip and was pleasantly surprised when the bus took him to a nearby airfield. He was given a box lunch and loaded on a six propeller cargo plane flown by the Military Air Transport Service (MATS.)
The plane would make stops in Honolulu and then Wake Island where he was treated to an amazing meal in the Wake Island Air Force dining hall. He can’t remember what was better, the food or the plates with silverware. One thing was certain, this meal made every Army soldier on his plane envious of their Air Force brethren.
He finally arrived in South Korea in February 1963 and was assigned to Bravo Company, 304th Signal Battalion. The company was headquartered in Seoul but Bob found himself spending his year on detachment at an Army engineering compound at Uijeongbu which was approximately fifteen miles south of the DMZ. The road he traveled from Seoul to get to Uijeongbu was a gravel, two-lane road that made for a really bumpy ride to his new home. The compound was not far from the I Corp headquarters at Camp Red Cloud. Bob’s unit was at a remote site at the back of the compound known as TV Hill where the Armed Forces Korean Network (AFKN) TV antennas were located – hence the name.