The Plagued Parent

posts about surviving our children, the Baby Boomers who raised us, and everyone else with an opinion...

Category: Fiction

Me and Emily at the Stardust, 1958

He insisted they move his room so the moonrise and the evening sky would be more visible, pointing out that Johnson across the hall made it easier for them to comply with his request since Johnson died last week and the room was empty. The staff could not come up with a reason to say no, so they carted his […]

Roger’s A-1 Automotive

Mercifully my car was not on Roger’s lift. He swore loudly tossing an angry wrench at his pristine metal toolbox. He paused, reconsidering this action then lifted and returned the 1 1/8 to its rightful place. “Damn it all to hell,” he raged, “Look at this!” He waved a finger covered with oily murk in my direction. I […]

Hammer Time

Maggie hated shopping with her four kids but she especially hated going down three specific aisles: snacks, cookies and cereal. Inevitably, fights broke out over who picked what last time and who always gets his or her way and that the criteria for choosing stuff should be: age, or height, or the ability to actually read […]


Mrs. Mianelli’s middle son just hauled away the white five gallon bucket containing the innards and head of the calf my grandfather was butchering; the man exchanged some words in Italian with my grandfather but the only ones I recognized were “Grazie” and “Prego”. After pushing the heavy steel delivery door with his hip my […]

Legend has it…

A legend exists but the origins of its antique lore remain unclear to me — probably ancient India or somewhere in the Near East —  most likely the stories genesis lay buried deep below layers of ancient Sanskrit which few of us knows and fewer recall from their previous lives. It goes like this: eternal beings responsible for the […]

Snack Time

Along with the leaves, innumerable acorns have been raked to the corner of the yard where other dead and dying things rest and compost. Several chipmunks dart beneath the leaves thrashing about uncovering the acorns only to be usurped by a couple gray squirrels. Seemingly the five work as a group, a unit, plucking acorns from the […]


“It goes where it wants, water does,” he said. “It seeks the lowest of points and once there things will settle.” I just nod, hands in my pockets overseeing his crouching beneath the porch. “Yep,” he breathes heavy and mutters speaking through cobwebs. “Here’s the sag.” I just nod some more. “And.. here’s the rot.” Ok. Slipping […]

Our Only Option is to Hide

The scenarios played through his head like grey-toned filmstrip stills, most often before dawn when sleep eluded him and the night drained from the sky he’d think about it at length, wondering how he might address her should they ever meet on the street. Once upon a time she lit his life, shining, guiding him brightly through the darkness inhabiting […]

No Bad Luck

“Dad,” she screams. “Get up here now.” What now, I thought and flew up the stairs. She stood outside her bedroom dripping in her towel, head wrapped up like some ancient fortune teller. “Problem,” I ask as she points. “There,” she says fidgeting. “Gross. Eww, so gross.” In the shadow of the room’s corner a […]

Breaking News at 10

He went before the cameras as the triple decker burned in the background. He was studying in his bedroom in the third floor apartment. He smelled smoke and woke up the second floor, then went into the smoke filled first floor. A baby cried, someone coughed; he found them, carried them to safety. He even saved the […]

Metro Desk

“Some kind of warning would have been nice,” Ed thought as he sat in the conference room receiving the news, along with several other editors at the paper, that their divisions would be phased out after the deal with a Texas based broadcast group was finalized in a week or so. The suits left them in the conference […]

Roller Coaster Coffee

Sitting in the coffee shop, near the painted window overlooking the sidewalk and the chalkboard marquis advertising a pomegranate iced chai latte special (is that even a thing?) his stomach contracted at the thought that she might back out at the last minute. They had not sat, quietly and alone for some time but he […]

Cover and Hide

She could feel briars dig into exposed skin on her arms and thighs; she pressed herself deeper into the leaves. Just play dead, she thought. Play dead or be dead.  She tried to regulate her breathing just like yoga class, but she worried about rustling leaves covering her face. If he hears, she thought. Focus, Marine. Focus. On […]


Take a second, he thought to himself, take a second and breathe. Suspended, hanging up-ended in the driver’s seat snugged in tight by the seat belt, eyes blurred, glasses lost, windshield fragments littering the too-close roof grazing his hair. Breathe and slow it down, he said again eyes closing trying to handle his already risky […]

The Hunt

Love seat and oversized chair shoved into the hall, both cats circled around the Christmas tree to the right and I broke left. The dog barked uselessly disrupting the hunt. Breath held, hearts pounding, eyes scanning the room’s horizon: drapes, window sill, end table, lamp. The mouse was here, I could feel him. Ornaments jingled, the […]


Marta sat in the great hall studying Physiology with Marcus and two girls whose names she could not remember. They considered moving to the lounge because chairs and podiums were being set up for a mock presidential debate. Marcus, a basketball player, nixed the move saying, “Everything in that room is too small for me.” The girls laughed. Marta […]

All Eyes on Me

The charges were salacious and had all the elements of melodrama: rival network executives (that Bill personally hated), political collusions, influence peddling, the Chinese but with one tiny extra wrinkle: none of it was true. Despite this he was ready to “allege” it on air — he’d apologize later of course, fire a research assistant or two and the […]

Hanging On

Pebbles fell from the summit top above, grazing him and he knew she must have made it to the top. Free climbing he hung by his fingertips, the rough cliff face digging deeply against his limbs and he questioned their decision to do this without setting ropes; he had insisted, we can. Arms tired, shaky and weary, fingers […]

She was the stuff of legend

Dennis said, “The boy needs a dog.” I was almost two. My parents had their hands full and were not so convinced. Being ex-Navy, strong willed and forceful my uncle insisted, “A boy needs a dog.” She was a Shepard-Collie mix and I named her Tinker. We were inseparable. Our yard was fenced and I […]

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