Start Your Morning with some Fresh Fiction

BLIND BEGGAR

William J. White

As soon as Charlie entered the hospital room he saw his father facing away from his mother’s bed. She was still sleeping, and in the same position as she had been when he had come by that morning on his way to school. Her breathing was still labored.

“Dad”?

His father, drawing his hands across his eyes, turned to Charlie. He shook his head slowly. “No change, son. That accident…” He clenched his fists; moving over to the bed to look down at the small women lying there. “Charlie, she’s really messed up inside….”

Charlie sat on the edge of his mother’s bed, and pushing the hair away from her eyes, said, “What did the doctor say? She is going to be alright, isn’t she?” Taking her hand in his, he leaned over and kissed her forehead. Still holding her hand, he looked up at the slender gray-headed man on the other side of the bed. “Dad, she is going to get better… that’s my mom….”

His father turned away from him, and Charlie saw that his shoulders were shaking; and a sound like a sob hidden behind a forced cough, was muffled by his shirt sleeve. Charlie, gently returning his mother’s hand to the bed, felt his chin beginning to quiver. He stood, and speaking hoarsely, said to his father’s back: “Dad…I…I’ll be back later.” He lurched into the hallway, and finding a short alcove in which to hide, cried like he had not cried in years.

Once out of the building, he began to run; not stopping until he could run no longer, and while leaning against a store-front window, and watching the busy traffic stream by,he noticed the deplorable condition of the buildings across the street, and recognized that area as being the hang-out for street gangs. He also noticed something else. Something that did not fit; an elderly black man sitting on a wooden box, and leaning against a light pole. Across his knees he was holding a white walking-stick in one hand, and in the other, a large metal cup–which he would raise and shake every few minutes. He was also wearing dark glasses…. “Boy, oh boy,” Charlie said aloud. “That old fellow is asking for it.”

He quickly made his way across the busy street, dodging swiftly-moving cars all the way, and paying no heed to the horns blasting at him. “Sheesh!” He said to himself, and then to the old man.”Say, Mister….” At the sound of Charlie’s voice, the beggar turned to him.

“Why hello there young fellow. I’m sorry, but this corner is taken.” Charlie heard the sounds of coins rattling in the cup, as the old man shook it at him. He also heard the sound of a friendly laugh emanating from behind the whiskered face, as the cup was held out to him. “One who possesses the least but gives the most, Charlie, is destined for the softest seat in Heaven.

Would you like to try for that seat in Heaven, Charlie?” His laughter grew louder, as he took the cane from his knees and gave it a series of hard taps on the sidewalk. His joviality became even stronger as he rapped the cup lightly with his cane. “Hear that, Charlie? I bet the angels are waiting for the sound of your contribution.”

“How’d you know my name?” Charlie asked, while fishing in his pockets.

“You look like a Charlie, Charlie…. And you don’t have to be stingy….”

“But you are blind….”

“Only in the daytime, Charlie. Only in the daytime. At night, I can see the dark, and the blackness, and the nothingness…but I do have to squint.” Again, the old man went into a laughing spree. “And Charlie,” he said, smiling. “You can call me Mr. Leo….”

“Mr. Leo, sir….”

“No!, No! Charlie. Not Leo sir.” His laughter faded down to a soft chuckle which blended into a wide grin that caused his dark glasses to jiggle. Moving the cup closer to Charlie, he said, “I may be rather good looking , as ‘I’ve been told, but my name is just plain old Mr. Leo.”

Charlie resigned himself to just follow along with ‘Mister Leo’. He dropped a five-dollar bill into the cup and then admonished him. “Mr. Leo, I have to tell you; this is a dumb place to carry out your business.”

“That so? How come?’

“Because you have set up shop in a very dangerous neighborhood, that’s why. I’m sure that if you could see the boarded-up store fronts, and the buildings all covered with graffiti, and the over-turned garbage cans, and the street-gangs waiting for darkness.” Charlie paused for a moment, and then continued. “It’s just not safe, Mr. Leo. They don’t give money away in this neighborhood, sir. They take it! Maybe even your blood, just for the fun of it.” Mr. Leo was shaking his head very slowly. “Now, sir,” Charlie pleaded, ” I would be glad to escort you and your furniture over there, across the street, and settle you down in a nice corner suite.” Charlie grinned a grin that was not seen, and wondered if his newly found friend’s cool attitude might be contagious.

“Young man,” said Mr. Leo, “this block is my assignment, and so here I must remain.

However, your concern and your charitable nature,” he said, moving the cup around Charlie’s face, “gets you a draw from the ‘well’ of gratitude. Reach in and pick a card…but only one.”

” No thank you, sir. I’ll pass…I don’t need one.”

The old man’s face grew rigid, and his free hand reached out, fumbling against Charlie’s chest, over to his arm, and finally working it’s way down to his wrist; which he held in a grip

surprisingly strong for a man his apparent age. “Yes you do, Charlie. Believe me, you do!” He moved the cup over to Charlie’s hand, and pushing the boy’s fingers inside, he said, “Humor me. But take only one. We must not be greedy.”

Reluctantly, Charlie fingered inside; feeling a little change, and the bill that he had deposited earlier, and only one small stiff-paper ticket. His fingers probed for another, but found none. “There is only one…”

Mr. Leo smacked his lips. “Did I not tell you to take only one? How many do you want? And don’t look at it now, Charlie. Give it time to work– put it in your pocket.” With that said, the old beggar man stood; and offering his hand, remarked. “You are a fine young man, and I

thank you for your kindness.” He picked up his box, inverted it, and dropped in the cup.

“But Mr. Leo–”

” I’ll be fine, Charlie. I fear not, for the Lord is with me.” His hand curled around the cane, and holding it high in the air, and smiling at the young man, said, “My staff does comfort

me, and will protect me from all evil.”

Charlie watched him tapping his way down the sidewalk, and out-of-sight around the corner.

Charlie returned to the hospital. The door to his mother’s room was closed, and as he

placed his hand around the doorknob, he was struck by the urge to leave; not sure he could bear

up to what he knew would have occurred during his absence. He held his head against the cold metal door and said a short, sincere, prayer before entering. Two heads turned to him; one gray

with eyes that were red-circled and damp with tears, and another wearing a white hospital

cap, with eyes that were closed, and a mouth that showed just a little movement as he moved into

the room. The eyes that had been closed, now opened. “Hello…Charlie…” The soft whisper came from his mother’s lips. “How…was…your…day?” Her fingers moved very slowly into a greeting.

As Charlie moved toward the bed his father stood, and reaching out to him, said: “Oh

Charlie. Look at her. She has come back to us….”

Charlie sat on the edge of his mother’s bed, kissed his fingers, and touched them to her

cheek. Her weak smile widened, and tears began to fall from Charlie’s eyes. He didn’t care; he would just wipe them away, and as he reached into his pocket for a handkerchief, the card fell to the floor. His father, bending down, retrieved it. “Charlie? Where did this come from?” He read it aloud : “The one that you lost, will be found…”

Charlie sat on the edge of his mother’s bed, kissed his fingers, and touched them to her

cheek. Her weak smile widened, and tears began to fall from Charlie’s eyes. He didn’t care; he would

just wipe them away, and as he reached into his pocket for a handkerchief, the card fell to the floor.. His father, bending down, retrieved it. “Charlie? Where did this come from?” He read it aloud : “The one that you lost, will be found…”

      William J. White  was born and raised in Cincinnati, graduated from high school there, and joined the Navy for four years. He has been writing for several years, and has had eight out of ten stories published. White loves his piano, writing, and of course, above all, his wife of sixty years.

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Starting Your Spring Off Right

As we celebrate the vernal equinox tomorrow, let’s enjoy some new talents on HIP starting with the poetry of Mr. John Flynn.

Rare Pure Listening

 Happiness cannot be taken away

because it isn’t given.

It’s earned, it’s lost, it’s rediscovered,

never to abide as permanent.

 

When I smile at misery I’m glared at

as if I’m a lunatic.

Perhaps I’m an angel in this dream.

Perhaps you are, too.

Nana Celia’s Recipe For The Miraculous

 Springtime rose petals bloom into dens of ritual.

Dare them to dissolve.

Stir the pachyderm inside that remembers so much.

Gravity is no drag. It’s your anchor.

 

Sling bird-song into caverns

where at night you see past darkness

into ravines where you once lay buried

beneath dwelled-on consequences of dysfunction.

 

As morning rises to cart away choices

watch your butterflies through abandoned sugar hills,

let them cube by cube race across new creams

into tree-lined horizons softer than soufflés.

 

Hear well how chefs sing as they ladle echoes.

They’ve heard a tale or two about gravity.

Forbid all talk of belts, cures, protean fads disdained.

No more dismay in the neon fog,

no adolescent spontaneous escapades.

 

Dash of austerity blended with three shots of sublime.

Rhymes with lime. Amen.

Take no for an answer. Garnish with lassitude,

by all means don’t reject the carnival.

Walk it like you’re in a stovepipe chapeau

the last remaining Abe Lincoln impersonator.

Not sour, not deadened, not squishy.

 

Mind eager, your limbs at the ready,

hear the sacred, seek it out.

It’s as decent and green as you’ve always been.

Breathe Until Your Light Be Hysterical

 Lover,

enchant my arboreal inclinations,

merge your darkness with whimsy

I’m no match for your quiver-quaver

tremolos of just reason,

your comical ruckus

as it knocks over each of my fences.

 

Come to me re-born

to expand into nuanced commiseration

our languidly unfolding storms

the sheets and tangles of those Victorian afternoons

when we dreamt of rigging new freedoms,

pride, constancy

and passage out.

Karma Avenue Central

 Somebody’s God told me not to care too much

about the sight of those with plenty, those lacking enough.

What do the well-dressed cogs do all day long

in their glass cylinders that spin them up to heaven?

I suppose they labor to get there, try not to sweat.

We’re all actors who crave more stage,

manage our ploys and spoils in the milk-light.

 

Hard to believe such a necklace exists.

Such a castle. Such a cop. Such a show.

The value of liberty is that it allows you to fail

to be glib and sexy in the sun.

Tension mounts in silent summer streets.

A downtown breeze asks where’s all the people?

Hey, it’s prototype city, where the weather’s always fine.

Dragonflies In Sunbeam

 We take each night as event

hum away from noisy pastures

seek cool forested dark edges.

As night passes and we return,

bluer, hardened in our loneliness

we realize we have these wings

to power us back to each other

no matter the stings and poisons.

 

We make each sunrise an anniversary

scribe cuneiforms against light

that paints our meadows.

We veer and shunt and swerve,

meet each other inside a swirl.

You’ll never leave. Nor will I.

We’re still climbing.

It’s what we do.

John Michael Flynn (www.basilrosa.com), who also writes as Basil Rosa, has published five poetry chapbooks, a story collection, Something Grand, a book of poems, Moments Between Cities, and a collection of translations from the Romanian poetry of Nicolae Dabija, Blackbird Once Wild Now Tame.

Cheers to Fiction

Enjoy this short story from Lance Manion!

the plentiful field

 

Earl put down the bible and thought to himself that there were a lot more people mentioned in it than there really needed to be. Not everyone that Jesus bumped into needed a compete biography. With that he felt the familiar pressure in his throat and he grabbed one long last gulp of air before the purple liquid began to pour from his mouth. When it was done he reached over and took a cork from the big bowl full of them and plugged up the bottle.

2013. A very good year.

The first time it happened he immediately walked out to the in-ground pool in the back yard and stepped right into the deep end. There was a brief moment of surprise when gravity thrust him down into the water but he was never one for crazy flights of fancy so he wasn’t surprised. He hauled himself soaking wet from the depths and immediately eliminated being the Son of God from the list of possible causes. There was a bit of relief on that one due to the fact that he had always been agnostic … although he would admit to being quite fond of some of Buddha’s thoughts on life. The whole “no one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path” bit. There was also a good one about the truth but it eluded him at present.

John 2:1-11. Jesus turned water into wine. It did not help explain to Earl why every time he complained a bottle of wine would suddenly erupt from his mouth. Very good wine apparently. He had never been a wine drinker himself so he wouldn’t know but when he finally was prepared to catch the discharge it looked and smelled enough like wine that he clandestinely served it to a few friends without telling them where it came from and they raved.

2011. The first year he started to sell his wine. He called it “Whine” and the public couldn’t get enough of it. By the end of the year he was spending 10-12 hours a day complaining and bottling his special spirit just to keep up with the demand. All of this done in his basement in secret and away from the prying eyes of his competition. Try as they might they were unable to locate the vineyard where this intoxicating drink was harvested.

You would think after thousands of bottles he would run out of things to grumble about. Nope. If Earl had one gift, other than being able to create wine at will, it was his ability to bitch and moan. His next bottle was always gripe on the vine.

Investors were always on about expanding and taking his product global but then he’d have to explain the source of his beverage and he had little doubt that the market for a wine that was vomited forth from a human mouth would be nonexistent. So he disappeared into his basement every day and came back up with a few crates that were already stamped and ready to be delivered to their final destination. At $200 a pop he was making himself quite the little fortune considering overhead amounted to one glass bottle, a label and a cork.

He had begun to asked himself more than a few times “What would Jesus do?” but considering that the wine that Jesus whipped up was non-alcoholic it really wasn’t apples-to-apples so he never bothered to answer the question.

Now Buddha on the other hand would have quite a few things to say on the matter, as he did on most things, so he avoided asking himself what the big guy would make of it all. All he knew was that if he ever ended up being completely happy his success would dry up and he couldn’t have that … so grouse was on the menu every night.

Isaiah 65:8 says “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.”

Earl rolled his eyes and wondered what the heck all that nonsense meant as he reached for an empty bottle.

Then he remembered the thing about truth. “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.

“We’ll see about that fat boy” he said to himself as he put the bottle in the crate and began the short walk up the stairs to his luxurious living room. He clicked the stereo remote and 99 Problems began to blast from the speakers.

He hated Jay-Z and quickly dashed back down the stairs to get another empty bottle.

 Lance Manion has contributed to many online fiction sites such as Whiskey Paper, Running Out of Ink, Five 2 One Magazine, Free Flash Fiction, Fictitious Magazine, The Tripod Cat, Halfway Down the Stairs, Behind Closed Doors, Reader’s Entertainment, bytheoverpass and Bone Parade as well as short story anthologies such as Milk & Honey Siren and Project Mayhem. He has recently released his third collection of humorous short stories, The Ball Washer, and you may read more about him at http://www.lancemanion.com.

Presenting HIP Life!

Come one, come all, HIPpies and HIPsters and lovers of HIP Literary Magazine! We’ve just added HIP Life to our wonderful site (find it right next to the “About HIP” page.)

This section will be the spot for movie, book, music, art, theater, store, product, and game reviews (among others). So if you have an opinion, please send them our way and we’ll be happy to review your review. Ha! Ahem…

You’ll find the guidelines for HIP Life under the “About HIP” page, underneath the HIP Literary Magazine section.

A huge thanks to Natty Hutchinson who birthed this brainchild.

Enjoy and welcome to HIP Life!

-Allie Coker-Schwimmer, Editor

Returning on a Poetic Note!

Wow, what a month. The Editor was away teaching a writing course at UT Austin and now is back at the helm. It is our pleasure to introduce some poetry by Melissa Fry Beasley. Enjoy!

Old Iron Bridge

 

Remember that old arched iron bridge we used to walk across

 

Laughing and holding hands?

 

Remember our hiding place beneath the bridge

 

Where we would steal away to

 

When no one else was there or watching?

 

We sat on boulders beginning to crumble at the edges.

 

Why did you unbraid my hair before you kissed me?

 

 

 

In the shallow water near the shore

 

We gathered broken pieces of colored glass.

 

There was a fisherman’s path

 

Grown narrow and choked with weeds

 

We would walk it anyway and

 

Gather dun colored feathers along the way.

 

I still have some in a box in my closet.

 

That river flows through my dreams.

 

Does it ever wind through yours?

 

Why did you unbraid my hair before you kissed me?

 

  Pleasure In Silence

 

 We took pleasure in silence together

 

Listening to beating of hearts

 

And vibrations of universes

 

Smooth sweetness and symmetry

 

Of syllables left to wizen

 

Prayers wakened from dreams sleeping in their echo

 

Sound falling like a feather

 

Into the desert

 

Blown into air by charms

 

Words of stone

 

Falling into wells

 

Wishing we would always remain here

 

In this lovely silence together

 

  Real Or Behind My Eyes

 

You are still here

 

Real or behind my eyes

 

Always near

 

Even when the time has come

 

To let you go

 


Light burning

 

From stone gardens

 

Meant to guide you home

 

All things

 

Come into existence

 

Then cease

 

Attachment etched deeply

 

In ruins

 

That remain

 


A cold winter must pass

 

Before sun’s rays warm

 

These narrow straits

 

Between the living

 

And the dead

 

 

 You are still here

 

Real or behind my eyes

 

But always near

 

Sleepwalking lost

 

Through dark hallways

 

Wet streets

 

Empty rooms

 

Edge of daydreams

 

Night dreams

 

 

 The cold displaced

 

Quietly lead

 

Mourners no more

 

Candles flicker and lick

 

Showing you the way back home

 

That Night


That night

 

Together

 

In quietude

 

We saw the moon

 

Rise slowly above the lake

 

Paving stones on path

 

Worn smooth with secret walking

 

Waterlilies edging water

 

 

 Pale and Small

 

 She stood pale and small

 

Against the night sky

 

Silently watching behind the full skirts of her Grandmother.

 

She stood observing all the magic and metamorphosis she could dream of.

 

The drum is like a heartbeat,

 

Heartbeat of the people”

 

She hears Grandmother telling her.

 

She watches

 

As the men become eagles

 

Take flight.

 

She sees hunters stalking

 

She carefully looks on

 

As even the grasses merrily dance.

 

Her heart thumps excitedly as Grandmother grabs shawl,

 

Heads into the circle.

 

Slows and turns saying, “you coming?”

 

She danced small and pale against the night sky

 

Making big circles, hand in hand.

 

Feeling each beat of the drum

 

Resonating and vibrating deep,

 

Down into her tiny bones.

 

She wondered how long a beautiful moment might last.

 

She wanted to dance right into tomorrow.

 

Dance right into next week.

 

Right into forever.

Melissa Fry Beasley is a poet, advocate, and activist from Oklahoma. She is proud to have red dirt running through her veins. Working with literacy programs, and doing various volunteer work, she tries to keep busy and discover interesting content for her literary endeavors. Melissa has been published in several magazines and journals both in print and online. She is currently adding the finishing touches to her first chapbook.