The Three Mouseketeers by Victor Doxtator

Wendell raised the back of his jacket collar to shield his neck from the icy wind and snow. Two more blocks and he would reach the secret path that would lead to his hideout. Would Bert and Sammy be there? Would they have their share for the mid-afternoon meal? He had his share, thanks to Mrs. Campbell. Shoveling her drive and around her garage and small two bedroom house on Nigel Street didn’t take an hour. He shoveled the three inches of snow in the lane and the paths in forty-five minutes.

Afterwards, he went inside where she fed him tea and tuna sandwiches. She said they need more fish in their diets and this was good for Wendell. After all, shoveling snow was hard work for a worn out man in his late fifties. She knew Wendell wasn’t the type of man who took care of himself proper so she thought the best thing for her to do was to feed him a lunch of sandwiches and tea. She added a banana and a small bag of her home made oatmeal and raisin cookies for the road. She knew what her five dollars payment was going to buy. She knew the men at the shelter have a weakness for alcohol. She knew he had his demons and he lived with those demons for a long time. It showed in his appearance. It showed in his health. It showed in his conversation with her, even though he attempted to hide his depression. However, she didn’t want to change him, just help as gently as she could. Any more than this and he may not like it. He may not return if she pushed a little. She also knew how cold it can get, but Wendell would come, no matter how cold or how much snow fell. Yes, he came without fail. For this she compensated him as well as an old widow who got by on a small pension could. The poor helping the poor, she conceded.

Little did she know Wendell would’ve shoveled the snow for nothing, for he didn’t like to see a woman, especially an old woman in need of a man’s muscle around the house. His partners felt the same way. They took care of the old folks around the city’s centre: raking leaves, putting up storm windows, clearing trash and mowing lawns. When the snow fell, they came and shoveled it. In return, they received a little spending money. Wendell also made it a point to never go to her home under the influence of the wine. He always kept a proper disposition in front of her. After all, she was a lady.

Wendell came to the end of the sidewalk and street. He knew he didn’t have to bother trying to hide his trail; the blowing snow would do that for him. His feet slid along the whitened ground, heading to the sleeping trees that lined the bank. He could hear the gentle flow of the water. He followed the trail along the river bank until the cover got a bit thicker and the banks rose and hid the river in spots. His footing slipped along as he went and he wished he had more than these old leather shoes to wear. His socks were wet and cold now too. He couldn’t wait to get in front of the fire. He grinned when he thought about meeting up with Bert and Sammy. I hope they got the coffee started, he thought. “What am I thinking, I got the coffee,” he whispered. He squeezed the bag of Maxwell House coffee inside his shirt to make sure it was still there. His eyes got real squinty and he looked like an ageing Jack O Lantern as he grinned again. “Bahh, can’t wait,” he said. Another twenty yards and he stepped into the clearing.

Sammy and Bert sat on a log before a small fire. A metal frying pan placed near.

“’Bout time ya got ‘ere,” Bert said while staring at the fire. His whiskered face appeared annoyed. His black toque was pulled down tight.

“Ya, we was wonderin’ when you was gonna show,” Sammy said. He had a shoelace tied around his head to hold down his Jasper.

“You got the coffee?”

“Of course I got the coffee,” Wendell said, pushing a hand inside his coat and shirt to retrieve the bag of coffee.
He also smelt his ripeness and whispered, “Oh, yeah.”

“Hurry, get that coffee on, I’m dyin’,” Bert said gruffly. “It’s fuckin’ cold out here.”

“I don’t know why they kick us out in the winter. Where we supposed to go?” Sammy said.

“We’re lucky we got this place. Not the best but it’s ours. No one bothers us here. “ Wendell added.

“Who the hell would look for three hobos out here on the river bank?” Bert coughed.

“A stupid Copper,” Wendell laughed out, his face wrinkling like a raisin.

The three broke out laughing. Suddenly Sammy stopped. He eyed the fire and said, “But if a Copper looked for us here, he wouldn’t be stupid, now would he?”

Wendell and Bert stopped laughing, rolled their eyes at each other and sat closer to the fire. “You know Sammy, you read too much,” Bert said.

Wendell began to take off his shoes and socks. Bert pulled out a brown wrapped package and ripped it open. Wendell saw the hamburger. “We’re havin’ hamburgers today?”

“Yup, humdingers.”

“You got buns too?”

“Yup, got buns,” Bert said while pulling a bag of buns from a grocery bag.

“Bet ya ain’t got onions and tomatoes in that bag?” Sammy said.

“Yup, got onions and tomatoes too,” Bert said and pulled the items out.

“But, ya don’t have mustard and relish and ketchup, do ya, smart ass,” Wendell said.
Bert looked at Wendell and smiled. Wendell knew he had them too. Bert pulled a small bag from his winter jacket and pulled out another bag that contained packets of mustard and relish and ketchup. “Been savin’ these for a wintery day,” Bert said.

“Alright, we’re gonna have a feast,” Sammy said. “And hot coffee too. Man, we’re livin’ mighty high gentlemen, mighty high indeed.”

“Ahem. I said, Ahem. And what did you bring? What is your put in?” Wendell asked with a hint of superiority.

Sammy looked at Wendell and grinned, a wide grin and said, “I brought the most important item of them all. Desert: two bottles of the best wine this side of the ocean. Good ol Canadiana Red, a dollar fifty a bottle. Oh look, it was made last year, 1973. A very good year for Canadiana.”

“Sammy, you watch too much television,” Bert said. He threw more wood on the fire.

“Whoo-hoo, we’re all set. Get a cooking there Bert. I’m on the coffee. You chill that wine in our fridge and we’ll get on with this afternoon, “ Wendell said.

The fire was stoked, the pan and coffee can placed on the fire. The wine was jammed into a mound of snow.MThe Three Mouseketeers readied themselves for a peaceful day and night.

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“Home” by Maggie Sue T.

As the heavy clouds erupt, rain falls from the sky
A cold chill engulfs the night air
The dampness declares war on the bones within
The aches and the pain has attacked the body

As the rain falls I can hear the rain hit the roof
It brings back memories of when I was homeless
Stuck out in the rain, no place to go
Soaking wet right through to the skin

Is this nightmare ever going to end?
A rainy night is supposed to be calming
That’s if you have a place to stay
A place that’s warm and dry

Is it too much to ask for?
A place to call home
Snuggling under the warm blankets
Quietly lying still

listening to the rhythmic sounds
that fills the night
Knowing that you are safe
For you now have a place to call home

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“Bullying” by Maggie Sue T.

What lies in the shadows should stay
Bullying innocent people is not the way.
Pick on innocent people who cannot defend
Themselves.Does that make you feel tough,
Do you feel good about yourself?Too bad you
cannot pick on someone who can defend themselves,
What not up for the challenge. How does it make you feel
when someone takes their life because opf what you have
done too them, or what about the people who turn to drugs ?
When is enough ever going to be enough? Talking is no longer
a solution to the problem.Talking can only escalate the problem.
Talking from experience. When my son was in grade school he
was being bullied.My husband made the mistake of going to the
principal.when the principal confronted the bully, the situation escalated
to the point were the bully tried to strangle my son,In other words he tried
to kill my son. Enough is enough how can we expect the principal to deal
with the problems when in some institutions there are teachers who mistreat
their students because they may be a little slow.Or back in my day physically
abuse a student for the simple reason they may be a little slow. One of my first
memories in school was my teacher giving me the strap because I didn’t understand.
This memory will never go away. Thanks to the school system, thanks to society, no
one was there to protect me.At the time I was only six.Like I said the problem is not
going away. Instead of ending the problem it is now escalating to cyber bullying.
There is no excuse why this problem cannot be eliminated for good. I believe there
should be a one strike and you are out.Ignorance is not a defence.Someone needs to speak
for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

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“Homeless” by Maggie Sue Traynor

Back stabbing is the game you play
Destroying lives is your only way
Evicting people from their home
The streets is where you’d see them roam
You pretend to care but that’s not true
The only one you care for would be you
That ugly look upon your face
In my opinion what a disgrace
I hope that you will feel the way
Homeless people feel each day

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“A Woman in Time” by Maggie Sue Traynor

Tired, warn out face
Salt and pepper hair sets the pace
The fragile body that I see
Respected lady, I do agree
She lives alone, no one around
A couch, two chairs is all I found
A peaceful soul I must admit

Continue forward do not quit
Life must go on, it’s the way to go
Content and happy this precious soul

You’re above the law
Skeletons in your closet
Defeat will be yours

No where to hang out
It sucks when you are homeless
Oh well life goes on

To live and let live
My brothers and sisters, please
This is the best way

please drive with caution
Innocent lives are at stake
It may even be you

Sun rises again
Dark clouds will turn to clear skies
Victory is ours

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Grit Uplifted at Words Fest!

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Come one, come all! Happening Saturday, October 25th, it’s the Grit Uplifted Writing Session at WordsFest London, celebrating all things wordy. This drop-in writing workshop will provide participants with some insight regarding how our weekly writing group functions: we work around societal and literary themes to incite discussion and provide a safe space to share ideas, thoughts, and of course, writing.

WordsFest London has kindly created the following page to give attendees an idea about what to expect, which you can view here.

Let us know if you have any questions by emailing maeghan.pirie[at]gmail.com.

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You Never Left Me (Allegory) – Alan Blenkhorn

Parents
Separated
Children
Sent away
Others
Stray
To find their way
Out of sight
The quiet fight

A living
Misery
Seemingly
Very, very
Wrong
Everything now gone!

Life
Isn’t
Right
Past
Another insight

A loner
Bi Polar
Without
Medication
To boarder
Needs
Sedation
Any
Mind
Filling
Stimulation
Annulling
His
Sensations
Could
Cause
Dramatic
Fanatic
Inflation

Bi Polar stumbles on
The children’s prison
Sensing
Grieving
He plans on
Just
Leaving
Until
Still…

He remembers
A daughter
Once
Close
Loving
Her most

She could be in there!

No moments
For despair
Thinking
You must stay here!

The guards
Had no time
To even move
Due to
BP’s smooth
Psychotic
Grooves
Twenty or more
Everyone
All left sore

Then a familiar
Voice
His preference
Of choice
Follows
The energy
Vibe
Straight to
The completely
Terrified

He always knows
Where to go
A cold dungeon
Damp and dark
Below
Her voice
Speaks
Piercing
Miseries
Noise
Annoyed

Kicking
Through
Doors
Its kids
Galore!

So!
Everyone goes!

Through
The front
Hanging
Smashed
Doors

Not one kid
Left back
A successful
Manic
Attack

On horse and saddle
This group traveled
Through fields
And thickened
Forest
Tundra lies
Just before
Dust
Under the African stars
Light
Fills bright tonight
Keeps them
In tight
Then a spot
Thought
Right
For
The night

These kids could be the life of him
He doesn’t want a goddamn thing!

Kiss
Hug
Your horses
Thank you
Helps them feel
A little less
Cranky

Tears
Back
Remorse
Using
All
His energy’s force

Through jungles in the pouring rain
Not to mention the constant strain
Requiring no attention
These kids never complain

The group finds a stray
On their pathway
He strolled through
Like a snoop
Too

Can we keep him!?
He lost his kin
So
We let him in

BP’s eyes
Circle like the flies
Thinking
Something
Is shorthand
He truly understands
A lion cub
Brought these kids
Lots
Of
Needed love

Up the trail a ways
Trouble turns in the haze
Pounds and more
Put on this pack
An Awful
Roar!
Then once more!

The size of a Lincoln town car!
Biggest animal
He ever saw
A beast of pride
We should really
Try to hide

He could
Definitely
Kill
With
Chills

Deciding pride
Quiet in grace
In his daughter’s pretty little face
Cried
Wild

She never moved a muscle
With plenty of reasons to scuffle
Then
The lionesses joined in
Gaze
With Lincoln
His daughter
Held strong
He seemed to listen
Like she belonged with him

(A whisper)
He is not a pet!
Cub is our friend
You need not fret
We mean
No harm
Please
Call off
The alarm

Creating smiles
On each and every face
Lasting awhile
For such an awkward space

To find the mothers!
Cried another

Group to group
They’ll show us
A better route
In trust

Lincoln
Lead the pack
He knows
The best ways
To track

Then suddenly
A chemical
Imbalance
Hits BP
Rapidly
As if in
A trance

She must be near
It’s been
Thirteen years
Since
Sharing
Words
Kind or sincere

Now BP
Is talking to the birds
He has forgotten
His words
Sounds
More
And
More
Disturbed

What are you doing here!?

Your story isn’t quite clear!

Are those your horses!?

Have you…?

Any other resources!?

BP looks back
Was there an attack?
I’m not well…
Somebody…
Please…
Tell…

BP never even came close
To the children’s post
An unconscious decision
To steal horses and head for the coast
And live
A ghost
Now
Sits in a
Roast
With
Mother
The most
Up and real
Firm…
And close

No lions
No kids
No heroic
Adventure
Just
Another painted
Pathetic
Depressing
Picture
An episode
Unrolled
Delusion
Stirred
Confusion
In my mind
I know she’s fine
I miss her…
Well all the time

Stable or not
She’s in my thoughts

Confuse Ling
Daddy why leave
Me
It will hurt me every day
There was no other Mae
Can’t cure crazy
The pills make me lazy
I wasn’t enough
Ins and outs are tough
Control the outsider
I let lie
Saying this tells me why
Listen to your mother
No other
What was done?
Running from
Dooming us
Has done something to me
Around how I see
Look on life
Running on the knife
And some guy’s wife
A lot still to learn
One is not to let it burn
Turning at too late
While I made my escape
Not good enough
Kept me tough
No tears
For many years

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“Trinket: A Sequel” by Victor Doxtator

This is a sequel to Trinket, which was awarded an honourable mention in the July 2013 edition of Grit Uplifted.

Trinket was starving. His last decent meal was seven days ago. He wanted to get to the soup kitchen by noon. A hooded dark figure, he slushed through the rain with soaked feet and dampened spirit. With keen eyes he scanned the ground ahead. His black and gray backpack was drenched, as was his winter jacket. The rain also seeped through his hoodie, T-shirt and blue flannel shirt. It chilled him. His stomach groaned and he bent his right arm across it. His dirty whiskered face winced, and like a hooded monk, he continued along the rain-soaked sidewalk while the rain continued to fall.

He was ten blocks from the soup kitchen. He’d be there in about twenty minutes, too early for lunch however. He’d have to find a doorway to wait in, until the line formed, and the doors opened to welcome the people in. For lunch he’d have a bowl of hot homemade soup and a sandwich. A cup of delicious hot coffee would taste so good, he began to salivate. And for dessert? A large piece of cake and another cup of hot coffee. He would eat greedily and be grateful afterwards.  He couldn’t imagine anything more important. A trickle of rain ran down his forehead, then down the centre of his nose to fall and splash on the sidewalk. It almost woke him.

He thought about the wind and the rain that pelted him. The rain made a shhhh sound as it hit the ground and there was that smell of soggy earth, or soggy bog on the wind. He recalled people saying, “May the wind be always at your back.” Heck, he said it himself. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen often enough for him; in fact, he faced the wind so often he began to hate the wind. At times the wind was at his back but his position changed, and soon, he was walking into the wind again. It didn’t matter: the damn wind, a friend on hot days his antagonist on other days.

Another two blocks were behind him. He began to feel warmer. The thought of hot soup and coffee pushed him ahead faster. Then another thought entered his mind. What would he do afterwards? It’d been four days without any get high. He didn’t have money so he would have to be…adventurous in acquiring his needs. He would have to find Frank.  Frank would front him, maybe. He still owed Frank five dollars however.

He pursed his lips as he figured he was good for one more front. He was now five blocks away from the S.K. He’d be there in plenty of time. In fact, he’d have to wait: “Hey pal, you gotta wait in line.” Everywhere he went he had to wait in line. He waited in the soup kitchen line, the Ontario Works line, the clinic’s line and the shelter’s line. Everyplace has its line. Life is a line. He figured he was even in line to die.  He turned the corner and saw the bus shelter at the opposite corner. He decided he’d stop and have a seat.

He would pass the time here and plan his day. He didn’t want another day under the bridge. He sat on a magazine that someone left behind. He searched his inside coat pocket for those “emergency butts.” Damn, they’re gone, he realized. A few seconds later, he recalled smoking them. He felt the aches all over his body. His stomach groaned so loudly, it hurt. His hands began to tremble. His eyes blurred. He whispered, “I’m only twenty-five for fuck sakes.”

He heard the words but the words sounded like they came from someone else. He bent over to put his forearms on his lap. It was more comfortable this way. He stared at the ground and he tried to clear his mind. He heard a noise. Someone was coming into the shelter.He raised his head. A dog stood at the entrance. A black faced dog with short wet fur. He shook the rain out and looked at Trinket.

“Hey, hey, hey, what’re you doin’, comin’ in here and gettin’ me all wet,” Trinket said.

The dog continued to stare. Trinket saw how thin the dog looked. Its black and caramel coloured fur looked ragged and aged. His bushy tail drooped and it was bent at a strange angle. The dog had long thin caramel colored legs and the tip of his right ear was gone. When the dog stared into Trinket’s eyes, Trinket saw the  hurt and fear that lingered there. They stared a moment longer. The dog turned its head then quickly returned to staring. It slowly backed away from Trinket.

“It’s ok boy, I’m not going to hurt you. I think me and you have something in common.”
The dog moved as far away as it could then looked out the entrance.

“Hey boy, you hungry?” The dog’s shiny brown eyes stared back. But there was something else. There was darkness in the dog’s eyes. “Are ya tired boy? Ya tired, just like me?”

Trinket heard himself. He imagined: he was a tired young man, lean, angry, and afraid. He was angry at the world. He was angry because he was hungry and tired. He was angry because he had to sleep under a bridge. He was angry because he was homeless, hungry, and poor and he had to walk through the rain to eat. He was angry because he needed drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and right now, he had none of those things. He closed his eyes and thought: I’m angry because no one cares. He looked at the dog, then his eyes widened. Something made sense to him.

“Oh my God! Oh my God! I’m wrong! I’m wrong. I’m walking to a place that cares enough to feed me, to feed us. And, and there are others. There are other places with people who care. What I mean is, I see a strange dog, and I care what happened to it. I care what happens to me. We’re strangers, but I care. I’ve been wrong for so long boy.”

He stared at the dog. He slid slowly across the seat and whispering, “It’s ok boy, I’m not going to hurt you. I’m taking you with me. We’re going to the soup kitchen.  We’re gonna eat till we laugh. Do ya want that boy?”

The dog stared at Trinket. “You understand me? We’re alike. I knew right off we were. All right…Trash, we’re partners. I look after you and you look after me. And don’t ya go sluffin’ off on yer end, hear?” Trash’s sad eyes looked back at Trinket. “That is, if you want to?” Trinket asked.

For some reason, only known to Trash, he didn’t run away, or try to bite Trinket; instead, he allowed Trinket to stroke his head. After a few strokes Trash  moved to stand at the entrance.

“Well look at you, we just hook up to be partners and already you’re giving me attitude. One of us has a lot to learn.”

Trinket searched his backpack and found the long cord he carried. He looped an end around Trash’s neck, leaving enough room so it wouldn’t hurt him. “There ya go Trash, now this leash shows I care for you. I don’t want no debating the point either, it’s my way of showing I care. Besides, I think it’s the law. You want to get pinched? Huh, do you?”

Trash stared out the shelter’s entrance. “Ok Trash, I’m ready to go. I’ll introduce you to a few people. Now, if someone recognizes you, and knows you, you just give ‘em some attitude. You pretend you don’t even know them. You’re not going back to those that hurt you. Yeah, you just haul out that attitude, just flip ‘em the bird with your tail.”

Trinket rose and straightened himself. He looked around, spat, pulled up his pants and made up his mind.

“Now that I’ve got a partner, we’re gonna have to find better living conditions. After we eat, I’m gonna talk to Nelson. He knows a guy who may be able to help us. But, you’re gonna have to change Trash. You can’t be goin’ around with your bad attitude on display. You’re gonna get me into trouble. We got to change your attitude Trash. It could take a long time, it’s gonna be hard, maybe the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But if you want better, you gotta change that attitude. Ok Trash? Are you ready boy?”

Trinket and Trash stepped out from the shelter. Outside, the rain continued to fall.

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“Progeny” by David Allan Ross

If a sapling could look up at its parent, what might it feel?
Would it be in awe of the hulking presence that it must one day emulate?
Will it be up to the task of striving for the sky, sun and rain?

With the inherent beauty passed on to such a tiny representation of the genus, how long will this offshoot have to languish in the shadow of the monolith it has sprouted from?…By the count of man, it will be some decades.  Nurturing must now come from many aspects of nature, but not from its kin.
You see, all that it can learn it has already been taught.  The continuation of its kind now depends on the imprinting of vital genetic code to assure its place in the world.  Mankind wonders at the magnificent thing that it will become, starting out as a sliver and growing into a tree.

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“Me & Clarence” by Harry Kuhn

In the long line of great western heroes, many outstanding and trusty steeds have been associated with the legends who rode them into adventure after adventure.  Three come to mind as I write: The Lone Ranger and Silver, Roy Rogers and Trigger, and Me and Clarence.  While the Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers were clearly the rightful riders of their mounts, Clarence’s ownership was a matter of some debate.

Clarence was originally given to my sister Olive as a stuffed animal to lay on and watch T.V.  It became clear, though, that at first she did not take a strong liking to Clarence.  I, on the other hand, was a cowboy without a horse and in my eyes Clarence the Stuffed Camel would be a worthy substitute.  So I began a shameless campaign of begging, whining, and pleading to be allowed to have Clarence for my steed.  Eventually my persistence paid off, much to the displeasure of my sister.  My dad took Clarence and gave him to me.  Thus began the legendary adventures of Me and Clarence.

Many a long dusty trail and open plain were traversed with the trusty Clarence beneath me.  Together we fought bandits of all stripes and angry natives too numerous to count.  Often Clarence and I would round the corner at home into the hallway and I would tumble off him in a heap, felled by the arrow of a hostile enemy or the bullet of some nefarious bushwhacker.  In true, heroic, cowboy tradition I would pick myself up while Clarence stood by my side and remount my camel to pursue the despicable varmints.  Secure on Clarence’s back I rode the range and survived many a brush with disaster.

As time went by it became clear, sadly, that the hard riding life of the old west was taking its toll on Clarence.  Eventually I sat on two thin strips of cloth with whatever stuffing remained inside Clarence congealed at either end of him.  Finally, my oldest brother Jim convinced me that Clarence’s time had come.  One afternoon, atop a pile of burning wood and unusable items out in our yard, we gave Clarence a Viking funeral.  Standing by Jim’s side I was silent as he placed what remained of Clarence atop the burning pile and we both watched as he was consumed.  Sadly, an era had passed in the old west.  Me and Clarence rode the range no more.

Over fifty years have passed since that solemn day but Clarence is not forgotten, neither by me nor by my sister Olive.  From time to time I will bring up Clarence in a conversation with her and the fires of disagreement flare anew.  She has never retracted her claim to Clarence and I am adamant that he rightfully belonged to me due to her neglect of him when he was hers.  When I cannot convince her to see my point of view, I resort to an old stand-by position; dad gave him to me making me the owner.  We never agree and the matter is dropped ’til the next time I bring up the subject, still trying to get her to concede that Clarence truly was mine.

This Christmas I received some gifts from Olive.  Among them, safely wrapped in bubble wrap, was a transparent, candy statue of a camel.  A handwritten tag on the package read, “REMEMBER CLARENCE?”

How could I forget the excitement, the adventure, the near disastrous gunfights seated on his back?  Those times will never come again when the west was a safer place because of The Lone Ranger and Silver, Roy Rogers and Trigger, and Me and Clarence.

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