What is a Zobelgraham??

Zobelgrahams: [zoe-bull-gram] (noun) short random bits of prose produced by a brother/sister team of would-be writers. Zobelgrahams are most commonly produced on the backs of receipts, scraps of toilet paper, or dashboards of moving vehicles; (verb) to zobelgraham, to spend time writing for one's own amusement when one should be doing other things

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Wish (by Graham)

I must have muttered The Wish a thousand times.

I wished it as a child, when waiting for Christmas presents was too torturous to endure.

I wished it as a teenager while sitting alone in my room as my parents discussed my punishment for some infraction or other.

I wished it as a young mother, when I heard my children whispering to each other in their beds at night.

I wished it again when my oldest son took his date to the prom.

I wished it whenever I heard a second-hand story about a particularly poignant moment of laughter. I wished it whenever I discovered an enemy had been humiliated or a friend honored. I wished it whenever I read something in the news – something shocking, scandalous, or mysterious.  I wished it whenever I waited in suspense to find out the results of an exam or the winner of a contest.

But now that I actually was a fly on a wall, I wasn't sure exactly what to do with myself.

As I fought the urge to buzz aimlessly and look for something sticky to land on, it occurred to me that a great deal of freedom and power is wasted on the fly.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Gods and The Gift (by Graham)

It was a stormy day on Mount Olympus. Zeus was obviously peeved.

"It is unforgivable how these humans have abused The Gift," Zeus roared. "The Gift was intended to be a path to enlightenment, a portal to possibilities. It was meant to take them to great heights and set them far above all the other vermin on this sorry little planet. Instead, well, just look at how they have squandered The Gift!"

"It is true," Poseidon chimed in, picking his toes with his trident. "As the 21st century turned, we expected them to make great strides with The Gift. Instead, well, we've all seen what it has been reduced to among them. It is too shameful even to speak of it."

"Here, here," bellowed Apollo. "It is high time we took back The Gift. Turn back the dial and remind them of the old ways. Perhaps then they will learn to moderate their flagrant excesses."

Hermes was inclined to be lenient. "Come now," he pleaded. "Can it really be all that serious?"

"You surprise me, Hermes!" Zeus replied. "After all, this abuse of The Gift infringes mostly on your territory! Tell me, have you had as much work lately in your fetching and carrying capacity?"

"No, I haven't. You are right in that," Hermes admitted. "Come to think of it, I am rarely called upon by the mortals anymore."

Hera had been listening in silence. Finally she spoke up. "I probably should have told you this sooner, Zeus," she stammered. "But I received a text message from a mortal last week, and it was, well, I am afraid it was not altogether -- respectful."

"Mortals texting the gods?" Zeus thundered. "It has gone too far. My vote is cast. All in agreement?"

The deities responded with a hearty "Aye! We are in agreement."

"Then the thing is done!"


Thousands of miles below, all across the blue-green globe, the members of the human race suddenly and inexplicably found themselves without opposable thumbs.

Mirrors (The First In a Series of Reflections) by Zobel

                Even Mr. Carlyle’s face looked like the face of a wealthy man.  It would seem that a face shouldn’t be able to reflect the wealth of its owner, like all faces should be made of pretty similar stuff across the board.  But something about his face made it look like it was made of a more expensive material than mine.  Age had wrinkled it a little, but it was still vibrant.  Maybe that was because the innovative business man was always thinking, always moving, always trying.  Plus, he was tanned.  Not a cheap tan, like one belonging to someone who just got back from a whirlwind vacation they really couldn’t afford, but a weathered, ivy-league kind of tan belonging to a man who loves to sail and has spent many happy summers on a beautifully restored sailboat.  It was a natural tan, slowly accumulated over years of slipping across shimmering seas to new horizons, both metaphorical and literal.
                And now he looked at me, a slight smile fluttering at the corners of his mouth.  His hands were folded across a shirt that fit him well and crisply, unlike mine that screamed the word “generic” and clung to me awkwardly like a lonely person I’d just met. 
                “You want a drink?” Mr. Carlyle asked. 
                Stunned, I told him that I was on the clock, instantly feeling stupid that I had since he was my boss.
                “I appreciate that,” he said.  “But I think we’ll make an allowance this time.” 
He rose to his feet and walked over to a small decanter that sat on a side table.  He walked like he owned the place which, in fact, he did. 
                I admired his office while his back was to me, boyishly drinking in the model tall ships on the shelves that decorated his walls, the giant captain’s wheel that was mounted to the front of his hardwood desk, and the paintings of mariners in terrible plights that silently screamed to me from inside spiraling colors of sea-foam.  Pictures of his family, leather chairs with deep buttons sitting in the corner, an old map, a…
                “Here we are,” Mr. Carlyle said, handing me a short glass of something amber colored.
                “Thank you,” I said awkwardly.  Suddenly I wished I knew how to drink this properly.  I felt clueless, like there was some protocol that I didn’t know to follow, some unspoken rule that people of class lived by.  Mr. Carlyle held his glass effortlessly.  I tried to, but I just felt like a little boy trying on his dad’s ties. 
                “I guess you’re wondering why you’re here.”
                I nodded, and sipped my drink a little.  It was good.  Very good.
                “I will cut to the chase because I know you are a busy man.”  Mr. Carlyle leaned forward a little in his chair.  “When I see you I feel like I am looking in a mirror.”
                My mind couldn’t comprehend these words, so I just blinked and continued to stare.  I tried to take another sip but my lips couldn’t find the glass.
                “Not now, of course,” he continued.  “I’m getting older and you’re still young.  What I mean is, I sense your ambition.  You may clean the floors, but what I see is someone who makes sure there is not a speck left behind them.  Those floors are polished, beautiful.”
                “They’re just floors,” I mumbled, trying to sound humble.
                “But that’s just it!  They are just floors, but they stand for something more.  They are a resume to me.  They say, ‘I am a young man who takes his job seriously, works hard, and takes pride in what I do.’  I hire all these young bucks right out of the big name schools, and you know what their work tells me?”
                I shook my head.
                “Their work says, ‘Hi, I’m one of a graduating class of world-class snots.  I have been coddled, taken care, and privileged to death since I was born and gently placed in a golden cradle.’  That might be an exaggeration, but you get my point.”
                I wasn’t sure if I did.  What I did manage to do was spill on my pants.
                “Take this.”  Mr. Carlyle pulled a monogrammed handkerchief out of his pocket and tossed it to me.   
                I took it and dabbed gingerly at my pant leg.  At that point I didn’t know what to do with it so I hung onto it with my fingertips and tried to make it seem like I still needed it.
                “I just get so tired of working with these elite kids.  I want someone who has some blue-collar spirit and knows the value of a buck.”
                The spot still on my leg felt like a pinpoint of cold.  I looked at it and it silently reminded me of everything that was wrong with me. 
                “That’s why I wanted to talk to you,” Mr. Carlyle said.  “What do you make an hour now?  Ten, eleven bucks?”
                I nodded and shrugged.  He was close enough.
                “How about starting at sixty-five thousand a year?  I’ll give you an office next to mine and begin showing you the ropes.  You’d be my protégé, so to speak.”
                “Sixty… five… thousand?  Me?” I asked.  My head began to swim with the implications of this.  I could own a house, buy a car, pay off what I owed for last year’s Christmas presents…  An office?
                “Just to start.  I’d give you some stock options too, and an allowance for a car and some clothes.  Let’s face it, you look as good as you can, but you need to kick it up a notch to swim in the circles that you will be in.”
                “I don’t know what to say.”  Vomiting was a very real possibility.
                “Just shake my hand,” Mr. Carlyle said.  “I’ll consider you hired and post a notice that we need a new maintenance man.”
                His browned hand extended toward me.  As I rose and reached out towards it I could see his face: crooked smile, small grey eyes, thin-rimmed glasses, the knot of his tie.  He…
                “Hey!  How much longer ‘til this opens up again, buddy?” 
I turned away from the mirror in the men’s bathroom, my mop dangling in my hands.  The voice belonged to a young man who looked at me intently over the wet-floor sign that I had used to prop open the door.  He was just a handful of years younger than I.
                “Mr. Carlyle wants me up in his office in five minutes.  You can finish up after I use it,” he continued as he shouldered his way in.  “Hey,” he added with a grin, suddenly pointing somewhere at the floor.  “Missed a spot.” 
He was one of those who had graduated from a class of world-class snots.  He had been coddled, taken care of, and privileged to death since the day he was born and gently placed in a golden cradle.