Scene One – WE WANT HEALTHY BABIES – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 1952
“Momma, why is Mable fat?” I say.
“Let’s see Bobby.” Momma lifts Mable from her oversized goldfish bowl. “Your pet Japanese Waltzing Mouse is pregnant.”
I peer at the plump, black-and-white mouse squirming and waving her head back-
and-forth in Momma’s hand. “What’s pregnant?”
Scene One – ZANZIBAR – Madison, Wisconsin, July 2020
“As soon as I get to know her, she’ll leave,” I say.
“Bobby, who are you talking about?” Dan scoots his chair close to the kitchen table. A cool mid-summer breeze plays tag with gingham window curtains that dance and flow, dance and flow.
I look at Dan. He grins with expectation. Hair curls from under his blue Milwaukee Brewers baseball cap, a constant fixture in Dan’s attire, even indoors. “Everyone,” I say. “Especially baristas. As soon as she begins to recognize me as a regular customer, greets me by name, learns my bakery and coffee preferences, and I begin to form an attachment, she goes to another job, back to school, or moves to Zanzibar.”
Scene One – HOPE or DESPAIR – Madison, Wisconsin, May 2020
“She wouldn’t take the bait until all her babies were gone,” I say.
Jeannie finishes the last nibble of her avocado toast and pushes her plate to the center of the table. She brushes crumbs into the scoop of her hand and drops them on the plate. The mound of crumbs is stacked like an ant hill, a home for ants without ants. Jeannie returns her gaze to me. “What do you mean Bobby?”
Scene One – EVERYONE KNOWS – Homestead High School cafeteria, Mequon, Wisconsin, April 3, 1959
“Sally likes you, Bobby,” Jeannie blushes, flips her pony tail, and walks away.
“Wait.” I reach for Jeannie’s arm. She turns. “How do you know?”
“Everyone but me,” I chuckle. “Who told you?”
“Mandy? How would Mandy know? I thought Sally was gong steady with Tommy.”
“I don’t know–. I’ve got to go. Why don’t you ask Sally? She’ll be at the hop Saturday night.”
Scene One – BLACK SWAN – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 2018
“I dropped him, Bobby,” Dave says snuffing out his Camel cigarette. “It was him or me. Every day in ‘Nam was like that. Never knowing. I can’t remember a day when I would relax. How could I?” Dave shifts his gaze from me to a distant tree outside the window. “He looked like a local, but he came on like a VC. I had to off him.”
About the Author
Richard Wilberg is a creativity coach, musician, writer, photographer, and former business leader who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.