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Mark M Lichterman

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B.O.W. 22: Wolf Man
By Mark M Lichterman
Posted: Saturday, June 26, 2010
Last edited: Tuesday, August 10, 2010
This short story is rated "R" by the Author.

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I never said it was a baby! The woman said defensively, nastily, her thinly penciled eyebrows jiggling on her forehead, I said it was my baby!
Oh! Mitchell looked at Marsha, whom, attempting to hold back laughter, held her hand over her mouth. Looking at the woman, And is your, uh, baby really sick? Thinking, If she says yes, Ill take her wherever, within reason, she wants to go. But...
_______________________________________


Manhattan, New York

August 5, 1956

The weather unusually cool these first days of August, outside it was a beautifully crisp summer day, at least here, near the ocean.

Before leaving for the city, lowering the convertible top, because they’d be raising it when they parked, Mitchell did not go to the bother of putting the boot on.

Finding a parking spot on Ninth Avenue near 44th Street, about a half mile from the theatre, Mitchell raised the top.

Walking along 42nd Street, finding a restaurant just off Times Square, they had breakfast where Mitchell, despite what Ruby had told him, had his usual of fried eggs, hash brown potatoes, pork sausage, toasted bagel with cream cheese and coffee. With the exception of ham and tea, Marsha had the same.

Finished eating, walking to the Paramount Theatre, they found a triple ­wide box office line snaking halfway around the block.

Checking with the outside usher, Mitchell learned that the lobby was packed and the next show completely sold out.

Disappointed, but unwilling to wait in line for three hours, even to see Judy Garland, deciding, “As long as we’re here, we might as well see a movie.”

Walking along 42nd Street, looking for a movie they both agreed on, passing the alley that runs adjacent to the theatre, “Clang, clang, clang went the trolley!” they heard the strong voice of Judy Garland wafting through the open rear doors of the Paramount. Stopping, moving into the alley, they stood among a large group of people that also stood listening.

However it was extremely humid and much hotter here than nearer the ocean and they remained in the stifling heat of the alley only until Judy finished the medley and they heard the thunder ­like applause of the jammed theatre, of which the people in the alley joined in, then Marsha and Mitchell continued their search for a movie.

There was Moby Dick with Gregory Peck, that Marsha did not want to see, and the intellectually stimulating Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy, which they, of course had seen while in Manhattan two weeks earlier, and The Searchers with John Wayne that Marsha also did not care to see, and Mister Roberts that, finally, they both agreed on.

                                       **** 

Recently off a naval­ type vessel, “Jesus, Marcie,” visualizing it happening, laughing, “when all that foam came pouring through the hatch, I thought I’d…”

“Mitchie,” cutting him off, “look at that lady!”

The top down once again, heading towards the Brooklyn Bridge and home, they’d stopped for the very long traffic light near Union Square, at the always busy, multiple intersection of Broadway, Fourth Avenue, East 14th Street, and Park Avenue South.

A few car lengths ahead, at the intersection there was an elderly woman wearing a multi-coloured wool tam and—in August—a topcoat. Held in the woman’s arms there was what appeared to be a baby swaddled in a light blanket. Walking along the curb, going from car to car, looking through the window, asking something, getting a negative response, working her way to the Ford, approaching, settling a corner of the blanket over the baby’s head, “Please,” the woman said, looking over the top, directly into the car. “My baby is sick and I’ve got to get him to the hospital!”

Marsha had found that most of the New Yorkers she’d met, unlike mid-­westerners, seemed to be rather cold and distant. But to refuse a ride to woman with a sick child? A child who needed to get to a hospital yet! “What hospital? Where is it?”

Stepping off the curb, coming closer to the car, glancing down, checking to see if the baby’s head was covered, “Not far from here,” the woman said, “it’s on Amsterdam, near Lincoln Center.”

Looking at her husband beseechingly, Marsha shrugged her shoulders.

“That’s more than five miles away…” he said softly, “in the opposite direction.”

“Yeah, but, Mitchie, how can we turn her down?” Not waiting for his approval, which, knowing her husband, she knew was coming—and even if it wasn’t—opening her door, stepping out of the car, Marsha pulled the passenger seat forward so the woman could get into the back… which she did, with a barely noticeable nod of her head.

Finally, the green light. Rather than angling to the south on Fourth Avenue, the Ford took a right turn going north on 14th Street.

Twisting on the seat, looking over her shoulder, “What’s wrong with your baby?” Marsha asked.

“She’s, uh, got diarrhea.”

She? I’d swear she said “he” before. But maybe, Marsha thought, I misunderstood. Marsha did know, though, that diarrhea was not, usually, a hospital treated condition.

Fourteenth Street clear, as the convertible gained speed, the wind, coming above the windshield, unexpectedly lifted the triangle of blanket covering the “baby’s” head. Glancing at Marsha, replacing the blanket quickly, the woman held it down with her hand.

Turning forward, Marsha looked out the window a moment, then opening the glove compartment, removing a pencil and a small Spiral notebook, she wrote something… Poking Mitchell on the side of his thigh, Marsha motioned for him to read what she had written.

Slowing the car, glancing about to see if there was any approaching traffic, looking down, he quickly read: That’s the hairiest kid I’ve ever seen. Kind of looks like Lawrence Talbot. Picking up speed…

Looking out the window, catching the woman unaware, the wind once again tugged at the blanket and, sniffing the air, a hairy, gray head with pointed ears and a black snout poked out.

Looking in the rear view mirror, “Lady,” slowing again…

Forcing the head down, recovering it, the lady looked at Mitchell.

… the car pulled to the curb, “That’s not a baby, is it?”

“I never said it was a baby!” The woman said defensively, nastily, her thinly penciled eyebrows jiggling on her forehead, “I said it was my baby!”

“Oh!” Mitchell looked at Marsha, whom, attempting to hold back laughter, held her hand over her mouth. Looking at the woman, “And is your, uh, ‘baby’ really sick?” Thinking, If she says yes, I’ll take her wherever, within reason, she wants to go. But…

No!” the woman said belligerently.

Turning forward, glancing at Marsha, he drove to the Amsterdam Avenue intersection where she might get another lift. Pulling to the curb, the Ford stopped. Opening his door, turning on the seat and pulling it forward, he waited as the woman, and her schnauzer stepped from the car. Then…

Pulling from the curb, Mitchell joined Marsha in a gale of laughter.

In Wolf Man movies, the wolf man’s real name, when in human form, is Lawrence Talbot.

 

Personalities

 

Mitchell: A Matter of Opinion

Marsha: Mountains out of Molehills

Throughout the years, from the beginning of their marriage, Walter and Myra Lipensky had furious, though wholly non­physical arguments.

Walter was obstinate, opinionated and, more often than not, non-emotional.

Feeling inferior and unsure of Walter’s love, Myra was—a “gift” she’d handed down to her eldest son—always emotional.

Myra’s insecurities could always be easily goaded to the point of explosion by both the imagined and real disinterest of her husband. And, of course, money, as with most couples, added fuel to the fire. Also, being in business together, spending every day in close proximity to each other certainly added to it, too!

As a child, listening to his parents argue, Mitchell would hide in his room, or his closet, or bury his head beneath his blanket. The one thing he had always promised himself was that when he grew older and met a girl and got married was that he and his wife would never, not ever argue!

Due to shyness, and very often having nothing to say, Mitchell had always been a quiet, rather demure person that truly believed in the “Confucius say” saying: “While man who keep mouth shut may appear stupid, man who open mouth often leaves no doubt.” So at times Mitchell Lipensky had very little to say and, being somewhat of an introvert, sometimes felt alone within a crowd, even within a crowd of his own relatives and friends.

When he was single, his shyness and subscription to the “Confucius say” theory often made him appear conceited and aloof to girls, but at least not stupid… not usually.

When it came to an argument, though, when it came to just about any verbal sally with just about anyone in the past and now, especially with his wife, breaking into a psychological sweat, Mitchell would feel as if his brain had shut down, as though a veil of gauze were covering his mind, shutting it from his mouth, keeping him from returning any adversaries, and now, especially Marsha’s smarting, painful words.

Most arguments would start with no more then an—in his opinion—innocent and—in his opinion—sometimes humorous word, comment or statement.

He would, most often, stop a moment to think about what he was about to say, weigh what he was about to say, consider if what he was about to say would or would not cause Marsha to become angry, then—in his opinion—most often think what he was about to say was okay to say then go ahead and say it.

But Marsha—possibly because of chronic weariness—in Mitchell’s opinion, had a way of making huge mountains out of teensy ­weensy molehills.

When they would argue, in absolute frustration at not being able to retort intelligently, to respond in kind, Mitchell would say, in his opinion, stupid things, and later, when thinking about what he did say as opposed to what he should have said, what he wanted to say, he would re­live the argument inserting the proper words in place of the dumb words, which only added to his frustration at never being able to win an argument with his wife.

Being an extrovert, of course Marsha was just the opposite of Mitchell.

Marsha had a quick mind and a funny, quirky personality that more often than not made her the center of attraction within her rather large group of friends. Which now added to her loneliness because since living in New York she was unable to acquire even one close friend, besides Mitchell, and he didn’t count because this early into their marriage neither considered, or even thought of the other in terms of the true meaning of “friend.” Besides, Marsha thought her lack of friends was somehow due to Mitchell.

Growing up with Rhea and Eli, knowing what her mother did with other men, never admitting to herself the very possible fact that her father also knew what his wife did, and was, but hadn’t the courage of strength to do anything about, gave Marsha a distorted view of how a husband and wife were supposed to relate to each other.

As her mother, Marsha wanted to be “boss,” but because her father never was—as she felt he should have been—she also wanted Mitchell to be boss, but at the same time wanted her husband to be more like her father: hard working, likable, unassuming… to a point, and, not recognizing or admitting it, even to herself: subservient. But yet she didn’t really want him to be that way and was thoroughly confused as to just how she really expected him to act and how she really wanted him to treat her—possibly as a china doll on a pedestal—and that tended to confuse her, which tended to confuse him—even more than he already was—which, of course, caused Marsha and Mitchell to be on a “short fuse” much of the time.

When they did argue, unlike the husband whose mind went in the opposite direction, this wife’s mind would sharpen and, seemingly not caring how much she was hurting, Marsha’s words became sharp, biting, caustic. While, to him, his brain seemed to shut down; the veil covered his mind and he would become stuporous cannon fodder to his wife’s often­ scathing words. Which didn’t mean that he did not say hurtful things also, it’s just that what he did say, most often was not what he really wanted to say. Also, during the worst of their battles, loosing his train of thought completely, Mitchell would sit, or lay, or stand at a loss for words… the right words, the words he really wanted to say.

When Mitchell loved Marsha, which was most of the time, he loved her completely.

When Mitchell was angry at Marsha, which usually was because she was angry at him—usually, he was sure, for no reason—his love changed to a hatred so profound that he would remember the time, while on the ship, when on an early morning stormy. cold, wet watch, Mitchell had considered having the their first marriage annulled because, due to her mother, they hadn’t had intercourse. On that cold, wet morning, he was sure he did not love Marsha and did not want to go through with the second marriage, the, according to Rhea, real marriage, the “in the eyes of God” marriage. At these times of anger Mitchell would also remember his father’s advice. When he had informed his parents of his intention to marry Marsha, at the times of his anger he would think, Dad was right! I should have waited! I should have gotten to know her better! Especially Marsha’s stubbornness! Oh, God! Mitchell had thought so often, If I want to do something and she doesn’t, we don’t! But… But, if she wants to do something and, God forbid, I don’t agree with her wholeheartedly, if I don’t agree with her immediately… If Mitchell did not agree with what Marsha wanted to do when Marsha wanted to do it, then Marsha would not do it, and, not wanting her angry at him, no matter how he might apologize for not showing the proper, and immediate enthusiasm, no matter how he may beg to do what it was she wanted to do… Marsha flatly would not do it.

It may well have been a carry­over from the times, as a child, Mitchell had hidden behind closed doors while his parents argued, but now, as soon as he’d calm down, as soon as the argument, or the heat of the argument cooled, Mitchell would apologize for the cause of the argument, often taking the cause of the argument as his. And yes, true , more often than not he was the cause of the argument… And Marsha’s cause for making mountains out of molehills.

Mitchell had a need to know he was forgiven, and an urgent desire to know that Marsha still loved him.

Marsha, on the other hand, rarely apologized, seldom recognized the cause of the argument as hers, and was extremely slow in doling out forgiveness…

“Marcie, I’m, sorry!”

Silence.

“Come on, Marcie!”

Silence.

Rebuffed when attempting to put his arm about her. “I’m sorry!

Rebuffed when attempting to kiss her. “Please, baby, forget it!”

Silence.

Often the silence would carry into the next day and usually that night also, and sometimes into the next day and next night.

 


Web Site: mmlichterman.com  

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Reviewed by Rose Rideout 6/26/2010
What a shame, couples have to meet in the middle. When he loved her he really loved her thats for sure which I believe was most of the time. They have something good going on. Another great write as usual Markie.

Your #1 Newfie friend Hugs XOXOXO, Rose


Books by
Mark M Lichterman



For Better or Worse

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Becoming

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