2007/09
September Photofictional
A Daily Blog Posting By Bryan Costales

September's Free, daily, short-short stories from 2007.
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Heart wraps odd arithmetic
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(2007) Capps Campground, California
Photo Posted Friday, September 28, 2007
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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It was a hot summer in Capps Campground. Jackie was sweating plain and simple. Too hot. Jackie was thirty that afternoon and bored so she walked to the old bridge and looked at the names carved into it.

On a whim, she carved a heart and wrote her name at the top. "There," she said to herself, "Now that looks hopeful."

Two years later, Steve joined a bunch of friends at Capps Campground for a week of camping, dope and beer. Sadly it rained for the first three day and Steve was trapped in a too-small tent. At thirty-five, he was too easily bored. When the sun finally came out, Steve was more than ready to go for a walk.

Steve started across the bridge and noticed the heart carved in it, empty but for the name Jackie. "Hmmm," Steve muttered to himself, "Is Jackie a man or a woman's name?" Steve decided it was a woman's name.

On a whim, he carved his name below the woman's name and added a plus between them. "There," he said to himself, "Now that looks complete."

The next year was 1995. Julie was fifteen and at Capps Campground with her parents. She walked across the bridge and noticed a heart with "Jackie+Steve" inside it. The names looked odd to her, a bit too high up inside the heart.

On a whim, she carved the year into the heart just below the names. "There," she said to herself, "Now that makes for a complete story."

Two years later, on a pleasant afternoon, not too hot, Steve came back to Capps Campground on a work related outing. Just that same morning, Jackie drove into Capps Campground with her sister's family for a weekend of fun.

Jackie was looking at the heart when Steve walked up beside her.

"I wonder who this Steve is," Jackie said.

"That's me," Steve said. "Are you Jackie?"

Jackie looked at Steve and smiled. "Yes, that's me."

"Did you put the date on?" Steve asked.

"No," Jackie said. "I wonder who did?"

Steve wanted to draw an arrow punching through the heart. Jackie objected. They talked and agreed to stay in touch. A year later they married.

In 2008, Julie worked in maintenance for the parks department. She was given the job of repainting the bridge in Capps Campground. She carefully scraped and repainted until she reached the heart. She remembered putting the date inside it. She wondered if Jackie and Steve ever met.

On a whim, Julie carefully painted around the heart. "There," she said to herself, "One bit of graffiti on a clean bridge is just right."


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"Mellow Yellow" spring colors
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(2007) On the road near Dijon, France
© 2007 Dr. William Carter
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Bryan Costales Sunday 2 September 2007

This photo was uploaded on April 27, 2007 for display in this photo blog. We have used this interval of recovery from an overseas trip to catch up with a bit of backlog.


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BP20070903.jpg

Typical of the older downtown buildings
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(2007) Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Photo posted Monday, September 3, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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The text message on his mobile phone only said, "In front of the Bryson at 14:00 promptly." Al Flemming arrived early and leaned against the light post out front. He glanced at his watch a few nervous times and noted it was now ten past.

At last his mobile rang and he answered too quickly, "Hello."

"You're late."

"What are you talking about?" Al looked around. He tried to spot the talker. "I've been standing in front of the Bryson for twenty minutes now. I'm standing in plain sight."

"Wait a second," the voice became muffled like it was talking to another. Then, "What city are you in?"

"Dublin."

"Is this Vinny?"

"No, Al. Al Flemming. No relation to the author."

More muffled conversation, then a less confident, "Sorry. Bye bye, now."

"That's just like me," Al muttered to himself. He pocketed his phone and kicked the lamp post. "I think every message is from a friend."

Al looked both ways then dashed across the street. He jay-walked in a country that did not have a term for what he did.


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BP20070904.jpg

Too hot that day for casual eye contact
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Archbishop Ryan Park
Photo Posted Tuesday, September 4, 2007 external link
(2007) Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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Helen Doboul had been alarmed all morning. She awoke to find her husband and baby gone. The telephone would not answer no matter who she called. The streets were deserted.

Helen broke down and wept. Then someone bumped into her.

But there was no one there.

Helen took the stroller with her and went out to search. Ghosts --she now thought of the bumps as ghosts-- were more present on the sidewalk. Helen made her way to the park hoping she would be bumped less often there.

The day warmed up nicely. The park was quiet and pleasant. Helen thought about her baby. She imagined her baby was in the stroller. She closed her eyes and said, "I love you Molly."

The stroller seemed to get heavier. Helen opened her eyes and found her baby in the stroller. "Molly!" she shouted in suprise. She lifted her child from the stroller and hugged her and rocked back and forth with joy.

The return of her baby gave Helen an idea. She waited for a bump then closed her eyes and wished the bump visible.

"Eek," a woman squealed next to her.

Helen explained how she found her baby to the woman. The woman tried it and a man who bumped her suddenly was there.

Helen remembered a lesson in school. Dozens of table-tennis balls sat on set mouse traps. The teacher tossed a table-tennis ball into the traps and the traps exploded throwing balls everywhere. "I'm like that first ball," she said to Molly.

Helen watched with pleasure as more and more people appeared. Her baby gurgled approval. Helen decided to head home to find her husband. But she needed to hurry because cars were starting to appear and the streets were already filling with crowds.


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Photo shoot happens on the promenade
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(2007) Quay area, Dublin, Ireland
Photo posted Wednesday, September 5, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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Della Diablure was born a giant. By the time she was fifteen she was already the tallest person in her school. At eighteen she was seven feet tall and invited to join the basketball team. This broke her heart because she was no good at sports.

Della dropped out of college early and decided to travel the world. Her parents died when she was young and left her a modest inheritance that she assumed as her own when she turned twenty-one.

In Dublin she met a boy near her height but younger. They had a brief affair that left her heart broken and alone in a loft near the Quay.

At a party on the roof of a nearby old factory she met a lady fashion photographer.

"You have great face structure," the photographer said. "And your height makes you appear very thin."

Donna couldn't tell if she was being propositioned or not. So she just nodded and sipped her wine.

The photographer slowly convinced her to give modeling a try. "It's all in the eye of the camera. In the movies, a short actor is stood on apple boxes to appear tall. In that same way, if I shoot you against a distant background, you will appear of indeterminate size."

Donna learned to enjoy modeling and soon became a giant in the advertising industry. This suited her of course, because of her larger than life, but fragile, heart.


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A neighborhood park closes early
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(2007) Dublin, Ireland
Photo posted Thusday, September 6, 2007
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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"Oh, I get it," Gail nudged her husband Al. "The closing times must be when the sun sets. 9:30 is nice for the summer, but don't you find 4:30 for the winter just a little frightening?"

Al didn't like cold weather and hated snow. Why he ever accepted a job in Dublin was a mystery to himself and his wife. He had accepted on a whim.

Reading the expression on Al's face, Gail said, "I bet you won't last a year here."

Al was down to a T-shirt and Jeans and now understood that 28 Celsius was almost 90 Fahrenheit. "It's still awfully warm in August. And you remember what that cab driver said. It doesn't snow here that much."

"Look at the sign again," said Gail. "You get off work at 6:00 at night. From December through February it will get dark at 4:30. That means it will already have nighttime for an hour and a half when you come home."

Al stared at the 4:30. "Hmm," he said and rubbed the back of his neck. "You may be right. A year is beginning to sound like a long time here."

Gail laughed. Tomorrow, she knew, was Monday, and Al's job started.

Al took his wife's hand and together they walked home and into an uncertain future.


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An excellent park in which to quietly meditate
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(2007) Josephat Park, Brussels, Belgium
Photo Posted Friday, September 7, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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Jerry Blue was stuck. He had been trying to write a new song for weeks. But every time an idea struck him he felt his mind grow blank. He felt dried up.

Jerry spent every morning like all mornings. He bought a croissant and coffee on his way to the park. He made sure to eat the croissant before the stairs because he needed a free hand for the rail.

Jerry always sat on the same bench, under the same tree, with the same view of the lake. He did this every day, even if it rained or snowed.

Jerry was in a rut.

Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a man shoot his picture. For some reason this struck Jerry as an odd thing in this park. This got him thinking about photographs and snapshots from his youth. He became aware of the light on the trees and remembered his back yard where he grew up and the way the sunlight struck the trees there.

Jerry's mind felt like it had been kicked into gear. No longer idling in neutral, he remembered former pets and former lovers. Soon the images became entwined with words. He remembered his father's words to him the night his father died.

Jerry started to hum. He stood and decided to walk. As Jerry left the park he began to sing softly to himself a brand new song.


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Actress awaits her cue
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(2007) Parc De Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
Photo Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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Grandma leaned back in her rocker and smiled warmly. All her grandkids, me included, had been called to her because she "was getting on in years," and wanted to depart her wisdom to us.

"Today," she always began with the obvious, "I will tell you about how I met your grandpa, my husband."

"Ah no," blurted little Charlie. "Not lovey gook."

But grandma ignored him as she had all week and began her tale.

"Your grandpa, Will, wanted to put me in a little play that he wrote. I was to be the damsel lost to ruffians. He was supposed to find me with his guitar and his music and save the day.

"Problem was that I was really stage shy. I begged him not to make me do it, but he insisted with his wonderful smile and a promise I would learn to love acting

"Came the afternoon of the performance and all his family and mine and all the neighbors from around attended.

"He put me behind a curtain and told me to watch through a peep hole. He would wave to me and say 'There's the lost girl', when it was my time to come out.

"I looked through the peep hole and watched. I saw not only Will and his friends, but I saw the audience too. And that frightened me more than anything. I began to sweat, not perspire, but to really sweat. I was shaking so much I was sure the curtain began to move.

"Several times I thought he would call to me and I'd have to walk out there, but each time the play took a different turn than I'd learned and I just stayed there and waited.

"Finally the play ended and I hadn't moved. The audience applauded, and Will came around the curtain.

"'Betsy,' he said to me. 'Every time I turned to call you out I saw that curtain shaking and just couldn't do it.'

"As I recall, I hugged him.

"'Betsy,' he said. 'For as long as I know you, I will never ask you to do anything you fear.'

"It was behind the curtain, that day, that I first realized I loved Will."

Charlie farted as if by accident.

We girls were all in tears. Anna, my sister, leaped up and gave grandma a big hug.

Now it is years later. I remember that day and the tale grandma told us. I remember because my daughter has stage fright and I won't hesitate to write her an excuse slip. Like grandpa Will, I can never force my daughter to do anything she fears.


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A restaurant overlooks the square
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(2007) Grand' Place, Brussels, Belgium
Photo Posted Sunday, September 9, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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1967

Terri Costa and her new husband Bernie splurged that day and ate at the restaurant overlooking the Grand' Plaza. Terri had roast lamb which was delicious and Bernie enjoyed Bouillabaisse.

When the meal ended they both turned to gaze out the windows and the busy square below. Terri noticed the couple first.

"Hey Bernie," she said and pointed. "See that couple down there. The elderly woman in the pink and blue skirt?"

"Um, oh yeah. I see them."

"Aren't they just the spitting image of what we will look like when we get old together?"

Bernie was quiet for a moment, then said, "I'd be amazed if we could make a trip like this when we are that old. Surely we will be in wheel chairs or walking with canes."

"Don't be silly. Of course we'll be able to make a trip like this. We are going to be a spry old couple."

2007

Terri and her husband of forty-one years were touring Brussels again, the location of their first honeymoon. Terri wore a pink and blue skirt, and Bernie wore an old beat-up Tilley hat.

"Look," Terri touched Bernie's shoulder then pointed up at a set of windows. "Isn't that where we ate on our first anniversary?"

Bernie removed his sun glasses to see more sharply. "Yes, I think you're right. And look at the young couple sitting where we sat."

"My gosh," Terri said. "They look just like we did when we were young."

"I bet they are looking at us now, thinking what we thought then."

"You remember that?"

"Of course. I thought we would be in wheel chairs at this age. I never imagined we would be dashing up and down hills and stairs. It never occurred to us that we would be so fit at this age."

"As I recall," Terri put her hands on her hips and glared at Bernie. "I was the one who believed we would be fit."

"Yes dear," Bernie said. "Would you like a glass of wine?"


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A loving couple relaxes at day's end
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(2007) Phoenix Park outside Dublin Zoo, Dublin, Ireland
Photo Posted Monday, September 10, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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When Jill met Rodney she found him cute and loved that he liked to hang out in the shade at the edge of the park and neck. In fact, Jill found so many things of Rodney's to be cute, that she eventually married him. She never wondered why Rodney wanted his picture taken, there in the edge, so often and by so many strangers standing far away.

As they aged they began to prosper. With prosperity they began to travel. Modestly at first, to Mexico and to the Mississippi. And in each town they visited, Rodney would insist on a picnic in the park. He became so enthusiastic that he bought a picnic-ready backpack and carried it with him on all trips.

The Internet arrived and the world wide web, and Rodney set up a web page. Jill paid no attention to what he did because she considered herself bored with technology. She preferred to read good literature.

They returned from their first trip to London heavy with jet lag. Rodney awoke at two in the morning and worked on his web page.

Jill brought him coffee much later after the sun had come up.

"I'm done," Rodney told her.

"Good. Maybe we can work on the yard later this morning." Jill sipped her coffee and enjoyed the aroma.

"No," Rodney gestured at his screen. "I mean I'm done with park pictures."

This struck Jill as odd, so she looked closely at his web site for the first time. All the photos looked the same. Only the title below each differed. "Josephat Park, Brussels," said one. "Golden Gate Park, San Francisco," said another.

"They all look the same," Jill said. "We are really tiny in each shot. Really distant. Always at the edge of the park in the shade."

"But that's not the cool part," Rodney said. He scrolled the display with his mouse. "This is the last picture we took in London."

Jill looked closely at it and frowned. "It looks the same."

Rodney smiled proudly. "It's the actual park from Blowup."

"From what?"

"From the Antonioni movie called Blowup."

"I never saw it." Jill felt a chill up her backside. She imagined herself like the wife in the Shining who discovers her husband writing page after page of nonsense.

"Oh, we'll rent it," Rodney said.

Rodney looked at Jill oddly, as if he was seeing her for the first time.

After that Saturday morning they never went on picnics again. Rodney took up golf. Jill still liked to travel, but found herself traveling more and more often with her sister, and less with Rodney.

Rodney's web site became a cult hit for a while. Then Rodney forgot to pay for the domain and lost his web site.

One day, Rodney brought home a DVD of Blowup. He handed it to Jill and said, "I want to write a book. A photo book."

Jill looked at the DVD then at Rodney. He had a look in his eye that she hadn't seen in years. An excitement that made him appear cute again.

"You interested in a picnic?" she asked.

Rodney smiled. "I'll bring the camera and the wine."


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BP20070911.jpg

A place to fish
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(2007) Grand Canal, Dublin, Ireland
Photo Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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Bobby Talfey was twelve years old. All he had was his mother and, because she was sick and couldn't work, they were on public support. They ate well enough, but his mother could not hold food down because of her pain pills.

Bobby liked to fish on Saturday mornings, because he was off from school and because he hadn't made any friends yet. They'd only lived in the city for a month since his mother first got sick.

Bobby fished in the canal, so that he could keep an eye on their apartment window across the road. The fishing wasn't as good there as on the river, but he didn't like the idea of getting too far from his mother.

Bobby felt a tug on his line and jerked the pole to set the hook. A medium sized fish flew from the water and landed on the grass at his feet. It was an unusual looking fish, bright blue with lines of green running through it.

Bobby knelt down to look more closely at the fish.

"I'm a magic fish," said the fish. Its voice seemed to come more from inside Bobby's head than from the fish itself.

"What did you say?" Bobby looked around to see if anyone was playing a trick on him. The only other person was another boy twenty paces away fishing and minding his own business.

"I said I'm a magic fish. I'm magic because I can give you one wish and make that wish come true."

"Get outta here," Bobby said. He knew there had to be a catch.

The fish wiggled like it was having trouble breathing out of water. "You can wish for anything," said the fish. "But you may not wish to make your mother well."

Bobby could't believe what he heard. "I knew there was a trick."

"You have a choice. You can wish for anything at all. Or you may take me home and cook me and serve me to your mother and she will become well. You may not have it both ways. Toss me back and make a wish, or kill me and cure your mother."

Bobby stood and looked around. The area in which they lived was a middle class area. Bobby remembered shows from TV that displayed the lives of the rich and famous. He remembered the big cars, and huge houses, and sail boat, and lots of friends. Yes, lots of friends. Bobby wondered what it might be like to be famous, or the head of a huge corporation. Bobby tried to picture himself the winner of one wish.

Then Bobby noticed the window across the street and he thought about his mother. Bobby picked up the fish, de-hooked it, then whacked its head on a rock to kill it.

For dinner, Bobby fried the blue fish and made rice. He served a little fish to his mother.

Bobby's mother couldn't hold down much, but managed to swallow a tiny piece of fish.


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BP20070912.jpg

The high speed train leaves Belfast
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(2007) Translink Rail, Belfast to Dublin
Photo Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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They had been selling super powers at the local Supermart that morning. Joey had dropped fifty on fast running, figuring it would help him snatch purses, his only source of income.

He noticed that fast thinking was very pricey at over two hundred. But he could not imagine what good fast thinking was for a bloke who needed an income.

Joey strolled up next to a woman who appeared to be holding her handbag a bit loosely. With an experienced move, he knocked her off balance and grabbed the handbag from her hand. Then he took off running.

People on the sidewalk seemed to zip past him as he sped by, but he brushed a few because he couldn't move side-to-side fast enough. He noticed that everything to either side of him seemed smeared. So Joey turned his head to look. That moment of inattention caused him to side-swipe a tree and fall, tumbling and sliding across the ground.

Joey felt as if he hurt all over. With great care he pushed himself to his feet and looked around. He had reached the edge of town and was a short ways into the forest that surrounded it.

"Man, that was fast!"

Joey ignored the blood dripping from a few minor scrapes and dug through the handbag. In the wallet he found over three hundred.

"I think I see now why a fast runner might need fast thinking."

Joey tried to lope back into town but discovered he had only two speeds. Walking speed, or running super fast. He quickly gave up trying to lope and caught a bus back into town.

At the Supermart Joey asked for fast thinking.

"Sorry," the clerk said. "We sold out of all super powers before lunch."

Joey rubbed his chin. "Don't you have anything left."

"Hmmm," the clerk said. "Let me look. Aha, yes there is one left."

"I'll take it," said Joey, with no hesitation at all.

Alas but Joey should have asked what it was. The super power, it turned out, was the ability to walk super fast. Poor Joey, only safe now if he never got out of bed.


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Crowds backed up on hillside path
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(2007) Summer of Love Concert, San Francisco
Photo Posted Thursday, September 13, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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Phillip Nophace had never, ever in his life, been able to remember what his own face looked like. At an early age he learned to pretend he did to avoid questions. But every time he looked in the mirror, a stranger would stare back.

Monday morning his phone rang. It was Bob, his buddy from Oakland. "Morning Phil," Bob said.

"Morning Bob," Phil said.

"Check out the photo on bcx.news, it shows you in line waiting to get into the Summer of Love Concert."

"Really, that's super. Can you email me the link?"

Later that afternoon Phillip checked his email and found the link to his picture. The photo showed twenty or so people on a hillside. And, of course, Phillip couldn't spot himself because he didn't know what he looked like.

Phillip printed the picture and took it and a pencil with him to the mirror in the bathroom.

One by one he compared each face in the picture to the face in the mirror. For each that was different, he use the pencil to X out that face. Finally he found himself part way up the hill and circled his face.

Just then the phone rang. He dashed to answer it but left the photo behind. It was Bob.

"Did you get the link?"

Phillip walked back to the bathroom with the phone. "Sure did. And that was me all right, part way up the hill."

"What do you mean? You were right out front."

Phillip picked up the photo and compared the circled face to his own. It did not match. Instead one of the X'd out faces near the bottom matched.

Phillip was sure he couldn't be that mistaken. He turned away from the mirror and back again. This time neither face matched, but a face far up the hill matched.

"Bob," Phillip said. "I'll have to call you back."


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An Irish house at sunset
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(2007) Furbo, Ireland
Photo Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 external link
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A summer home overlooking the sea, the advertisement had read. In sunny Ireland.

John Flags, born and raised in Key West, always felt his real home was in Ireland. A bit of the Blarny Stone was in his blood and he, indeed, had the gift of gab.

The flights were long, from Key West to Miami, then from Miami to London, and finally from London to Galway. It was noon but felt like the middle of the night. John had never traveled before and experienced jet lag for the first time.

The taxi ride to Furbo and to his rental house took over an hour on two lane roads where the cars drove on the wrong side. He was allowed to sit in the front of the cab, where the driver would normally sit in the states.

It was mid summer and warm, but the streets were wet from a rain and more rain seemed likely that afternoon.

John was hoarse from talking all night to his neighbors on the planes, and dehydrated from the flight. For a rare moment in his young life, he was speechless and let the cab driver do all the talking.

The taxi dropped John at the end of a dirt road that led toward the sea. John carried his suitcase a quarter mile to the house.

John spent that day sitting on the covered porch, watching the sea, and waiting for dark. He called home on his cellphone and chatted for long intervals with buddies and girlfriends back in Key West.

He was beginning to worry. Would the sun ever set?

A mile from the nearest neighbor, without a car, and with a thousand dollar cellphone bill to look forward to, John decided Ireland was not the place for him after all.

John, with a bit of the Blarney Stone in his blood, with the gift of gab, for the second time in a single day, was speechless.


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Girl searches for treasures among crusty boats
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(2007) Barna, Ireland
Photo Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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Tina Glassom spent every weekend (when her parents allowed) and most school days (when the tide was out) to look for treasure. She had once found an old book in the back of their basement tucked among rotting wooden boxes. It was hand written and spoke of a modest treasure buried in the harbor at low tide.

She could not tell if it was real, and didn't want to appear the fool in front of her parents or school mates. So she searched in secret and, if asked, simply said, "I'm looking for sea shells."

For her birthday, her parents bought her a sea-shell necklace. Tina knew they'd missed the point, but acted thrilled and wore it every day for a week.

One cloudy Saturday morning after a full moon, the little bay was drier than it had been in months. Tina carefully walked the line that marked the really low tide, and poked here and there in the sand with a stick. Near to where the old breakwater began, she poked and heard a hollow thunk.

Tina let out a little giggle of surprise, then dropped to her knees and dug. The box wasn't buried deep, and she freed it with ease. It was no bigger than a tin of biscuits but weighed more. She shook it and it rattled, but not like metal rattling.

There didn't seem to be hinges or a lock, so Tina carried the box home to where her dad had tools.

"What do you have there?" her dad asked.

"A box I found buried in the harbor sand."

"How exciting," her dad said. "Could it be treasure?"

Tina blushed. "Maybe."

Her dad took the box into the garden shed behind the house and pried it open with a screwdriver. He handed the box to Tina who carefully lifted the lid.

Inside, Tina found a bundle of oil cloth. She unwrapped the oil cloth to reveal the skeleton of a bird (perhaps a parrot) and a note inked on cloth parchment.

"Ick, bones," Tina said. She sounded a bit disappointed.

"What does the note say?" her dad asked, genuinely curious.

Tina puzzled out the old script and read:

My sweet and beloved treasure. You were my companion all those years since my husband and son were lost at sea. I commend you to the sea so that your soul may mingle with theirs.

Mrs. Brendy Fellon, 1629

Her dad fingered the bird bones. "You know," he said thoughtfully. "We could put this together with thin, monel wire. What do you think? Reassemble the bird and present the note as a bit of history at school?"

Tina thought about it. "Did she live here before us?"

"Long, long before."

"That's old," Tina said. Already her interest was beginning to fade. She thought of the other treasures she'd found over the last few months. A coke bottle from Mexico. An old watch. A strip of wood with the word "Bomblisaboom" on it. A few glass beads and marbles. Dozens of shells.

Looking for treasure seemed suddenly less fun to Tina.

Tina looked at the bones again, then (to please her dad) simply said, "Okay. Let's make it."


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Kids peddle down wrong side of sidewalk
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(2007) Random walks, Dublin, Ireland
Photo Posted Sunday, September 16, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
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I remember my brother peddling down the sidewalk that afternoon. Someone took our picture and just a few months later a man called. He wanted my brother to appear in an advertisement.

The day after my fifteenth birthday, my brother left for the States. I never saw him again in person, only on films, TV reruns, and in photos in magazines. Naturally I saved all of them and have created a kind of altar to him.

He's not dead or anything like that. I sell men's hats in a shop on stylish new James Street, in an old technology center. He races cars in the "Indy Circuit." We each live in our own universes and have nothing in common anymore.

Two years ago was the last time I spoke to him. He had just become famous for winning the Indy 500 in an all electric car. He had an accent that reminded me of the American South. I, of course, still sound Irish through and through. We said hi, but could think of nothing more to say, so he only asked about our parents, then he had to hang up.

I've just saved up enough Euros to buy a camera and fly to the States. I plan to drop in on my famous brother and to take a picture of him. Maybe someday it will be worth money. But nothing is worth more to me than that original picture of us running down the sidewalk, and the promise, of course, that I will visit him again soon. And this time, despite my Irish accent, I will have more to say to him than just hi.


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BP20070917.jpg

Classic town appears beyond the river
(17 of 24) (5549 views)

(2007) Dublin to Galway, Irish Rail, Ireland
Photo Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
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If you wish to see a country, nothing beats a trip by train. Dora Blixen always traveled by train. So it was no surprise when, one day out of the blue, she decided to ditch work and travel to Galway on the other coast.

Along the way she met a nice man named Al who was from the states and who smoked.

"I don't usually travel by train," Al told her. "Because I find it almost impossible to go three hours without a smoke."

You shouldn't smoke, you know, its bad for you."

Dora could see that this rubbed Al the wrong way. "You non-smokers are all the same," Al muttered. "You all think you can tell us how to live our lives. Next thing you'll tell me is that I shouldn't eat meat."

"Now that you mention it, you are what you eat...," Dora began.

"What?" Al's face grew red. "How dare you. How dare you ever tell me what to do. I am not what I eat. That makes no sense at all. That's just like saying I'm made of smoke because I smoke. You preachy types are all the same."

Just then the train passed over a river and Dora looked out. "Oh," she said. "Just look at that lovely view."

Al's face grew redder and redder. Then, all at once, he turned into a cloud of smoke and the smoke slowly wafted away, sucked into the ventilation system.

Dora shook her head. "Just like my late husband," she said to herself. "Always angry, then one day gone in a puff of smoke."


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BP20070918.jpg

Pleasant shade to pen a story
(18 of 24) (5530 views)

(2007) Duboce Park, San Francisco, California
Photo Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2007 external link
© 2007 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
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M Trocker wrote science fiction. She never used her first name because it seemed too staid and un-writer-like. M liked to write on sunny afternoons while in the park. Any park would do, provided it was sunny and warm and provided there were dogs about to bark occasionally.

M began her short story with the words, "J Wipple wrote mysteries. He never used his first name because is seemed too stodgy in today's break neck world. J liked to write in cafes after lunch. Any cafe would do, provided it served a good strong green tea.

"J began his latest short story with the words, 'R Banes wrote nature stories. He never used his first name because it seemed too weak for stories about wild animals. R liked to write at the zoo surrounded by the sounds of wild animals. J looked up just in time to see a tiger escape and run down the street.'

"J twirled the pen in his fingers, and tried to think of a good mystery. The pistol in his shoulder holster gave a weight that made him feel authentic. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a tiger of all things enter the park across the street. J leaped to his feet and ran outside. Indeed it was a tiger. J pulled his pistol not quit knowing what he would do."

M looked up. All the dogs were barking. She heard men yelling. M turned her head and saw a tiger charging directly at her.

A shot rang out and dirt sprayed up in front of the tiger. It turned and ran away from M.

M smiled and re-read the paragraph. Yes, she thought, that's a fine way to end the story.


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Window at end of freshly painted hallway
(19 of 24) (5667 views)

(2007) Hayes Valley, San Francisco, California
Photo Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007
© 2007 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
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The light through the window at his hall's end seemed much brighter than usual as Wayne Hobbon stepped out of his apartment. He glanced down the hall and wondered what could be so bright outside.

Wayne pulled his door shut with a firm yank and slid his key into the lock. He noticed the shadow of his hand and arm were distinct across the door.

"Now that's bright," Wayne said to himself. He turned the key left with a firm click.

Wayne dropped the key into his jeans pocket and faced the window thoughtfully. He tapped his foot. He blinked. His eyes began to water because the light was so bright.

"Damn, I forgot my sunglasses," Wayne said aloud to the empty hall.

Wayne took a deep breath then walked toward the bright window. As he drew closer he noticed that he could see nothing outside. The window was clear, he knew, because he used it often to look outside when waiting for a cab or a friend to drop by.

Wayne stopped a foot from the window and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

From outside, Wayne heard someone yell, "That's a cut!"

Then Wayne heard loud clunks and the light in the window faded.

A burly man in a tee shirt pulled translucent paper off the outside of the window. The man saw Wayne standing just inside and smiled.

Wayne smiled back and gave a half-hearted wave.

Wayne stepped up to the window and looked up. The sky was blue promising a sunny day. Wayne muttered, "I'd better get those sunglasses after all, and went back to his apartment.

This time when he stuck his key in the lock, there was no shadow of his arm. Wayne opened his apartment door and, as it swung open, the hallway was filled with bright light from his apartment windows. Clearly the movie lights had moved to that side of his building.

"Yep," Wayne said to his empty apartment. "A sunglasses day for sure."


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BP20070920.jpg

Young men stroll past a panel of posters
(20 of 24) (5593 views)

North, just outside Josephat Park
Photo Posted Thursday, September 20, 2007 external link
(2007) Brussels, Belgium
© 2007 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
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Harry, Luis, and Franz were three buddies that always had a great deal of fun together. Harry only spoke English and American English at that, which he tended to speak too fast. Luis only spoke French, but with a Parisian accent. And Franz only spoke German, albeit with an occasional lisp.

Although the three could not understand each other's speech, they managed to get along famously otherwise. They would stumble down the sidewalk together, laughing and carrying on with all the abandon of youth.

Harry had studied in the Pickle Circus as a mime. When he needed to communicate to the others he would just communicate using mime. This worked for mundane thoughts, like "let's buy some ice cream," and "I'm trapped in a box." But mime failed to communicate more complex matters.

Luis had studied at the Louvre as an artist. He was self taught, but a competent cartoonist. To communicate he would draw pictures in the tablet he carried everywhere. This worked for most concepts that could be drawn like, "Let's eat fish for dinner," or "Hats can be very funny." But his cartoons would fail to communicate more subtle concepts.

Franz was an author in German, but managed to communicate with the others using clumsy hand movements and facial expressions. Because he felt like a third wheel, Franz bought an electronic translator.

That afternoon the three stumbled down the street, laughing at things they didn't understand, and just generally having a good time. The paused at a stand plastered with posters.

Franz read an ad in German that seemed interesting so he typed it into his translator which said first in English, "Concert tonight at the old stadium. Marching music. Free." He then played it again in French.

This captured the interest of the other two who took turns trying the translator machine. It was wonderful. That tiny machine opened up a whole new level of communication for them.

Harry and Luis also bought translators. Over the next couple weeks the trio began to discuss broader concepts. They chatted about love, pondered death and religion, and argued about politics. As they actually talked, they discovered they had less in common with each other than they originally believed. Harry began to think of returning to the circus. Luis considered a career in art. Franz began to formulate in his mind his next novel.

The three parted before the summer officially ended.

The next summer, Harry and Luis met in the south of Germany to attend Franz's funeral. Neither had brought a translator device. Each believed the memory of their former summer mate would be best served by mime and art. Franz's family didn't understand, but then, after all, that was the point.


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BP20070927.jpg

The rose garden
(21 of 24) (5561 views)

(2007) Botanic Gardens, Belfast, Ireland
Photo Posted Thursday, September 27, 2007 external link
© 2007 Terry Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
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The glowing rose
by Bryan Costales

There was once a rose garden, and like all rose gardens the roses therein bloomed only after the rains abated. It was in this rose garden that an odd rose was discovered, a black rose that glowed a bright red when touched.

Some thought a waggish student from the University had sprayed that plant with a bioengineered virus. Others thought a meteorite had struck the earth at that very spot. And yet others were convinced that the little people were having a good laugh at our expense.

A fence was put up to protect the rose plant, and cuttings were taken so that it might be propagated in the lab. It wasn't long before the rest of the rose garden had been trampled flat by thousands of curious visitors.

Soon the area around the rose was paved, and a glass canopy erected. One Pound per adult, and 0,20 per child was charged to see the special rose.

Unfortunately, none of the cuttings produced roses that glowed when touched. The single rose plant surrounded daily by thousands of curious gawkers was the only one that ever glowed.

A freak spring snow storm struck the town one evening. The glass canopy collapsed under the weight of so much ice and snow.

Later, after the rubble was cleared, the rescuers found the glowing rose dead.

The death of the rose made headlines for a few days, then it was forgotten. The rose garden was demolished and dirt restored and roses planted again.

Although none of the new roses ever glowed, the new rose garden proved more popular than the old. Perhaps it was not the roses, but the presence of a small plaque in the center that said simply, "A rose once glowed here."


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BP20070901.jpg

"Sky Condos" crows nests
(22 of 24) (6040 views)

What better place to watch for carrion?
(2007) Canal du Midi, France
© 2007 Dr. William Carter
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
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Bryan Costales Saturday 1 September 2007

This photo was uploaded on April 27, 2007 for display in this photo blog. We have used this interval of recovery from an overseas trip to catch up with a bit of backlog.


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BP20070929.jpg

Discarded patio chair
(23 of 24) (5626 views)

(2007) Quay area, Dublin, Ireland
Photo Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007
© 2007 Terry Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
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Patio Furniture
by Bryan Costales

Zeek Baggs was an big man. He stood a head taller than most men, and was built like a grizzly bear. He worked days spreading asphalt for roads, and liked to hang out and drink with the guys every night and tell jokes.

One night on his way home from such a evening, Zeek took a shortcut by the Quay. Stuck on a rope, he noticed, was a plastic patio chair. This reminded Zeek of a joke he had heard long ago, but all he could remember was the punch line, "Patio Furniture."

The next night, Zeek asked is pals if any of them remembered that joke.

"I kind of remember it," Al said and sipped a Guinness. "Wasn't it about a woman named Patty, as in Patty-O Furniture?"

"No, that's not right," Ben said on his way to the loo. He rocked back and forth as he considered his answer. "It's a Yank joke about a Texan."

Charlie muttered something.

"What'd you say?" asked Zeek.

Charlie cleared his throat and said, "I remember that joke. It had something to do with St. Paddy's day and the snakes."

"No," Al said. "You're confusing that one with the one we told last week about the magic rope and the man from India."

That night, as Zeek went home, he took a short cut by the Quay again. The patio chair was still there. Zeek stared at it for a few minutes, aware of the cool breeze off the water. "You know," he said to the chair. "You seem to inspire many jokes, but none we can remember."

Zeek found a stick, and poked the chair. It broke free of the rope and sank out of sight.


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BP20070930.jpg

Horses poled for their opinions
(24 of 24) (5601 views)

(2007) Carrousel Galopant, Brussels, Belgium
Photo Posted Sunday, September 30, 2007
© 2007 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
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Landrew McAllen was eighty years old and felt himself too feeble to ever ride a carousel horse again. He seldom got out of the house and, when he did, he had to use a walker to get around. This weakness in his legs irritated him no end. The shop keepers had to listen to his complaints whenever he purchases anything.

Around the corner from his apartment was a carousel. He would pass it on the days he had to pick up meat at the little shop next to the new bank. Whenever he passed the carousel, the operator, a wicked looking woman of in-determinant age, would call to him.

"Come ride a horse. Come ride a horse. This carousel is safe for young and old alike."

Landrew would just lower his head and walk slowly past. He ignored her both going and coming back.

Landrew never went far because he was forgetful. He feared that one day he might forget where he lived and then might wander the streets forever like the other crazy and lost people.

One afternoon, as he tried to pass the carousel, two tourists began to babble at him. They were two powerful looking men, most likely Italian.

They exchanged words with the wicked woman in their own language. Then, to Landrew's surprise, the two men picked him up and carried him up onto the carousel. With unexpected gentleness, they sat him astride a horse and gestured for him to hold on.

Landrew was terrified. The music began to play and the carousel began to turn. The horse rose slowly up then settled slowly down. The music picked up tempo and seemed to change from hymn to a march. The carousel began to turn a little faster.

Landrew felt like the carousel was turning like a top. Whizzing around and around faster and faster. Landrew closed his eyes and held on tightly. Landrew began to feel afraid.

The music played so fast that it began to sound like a continuous scream. Landrew felt the wind blowing past him like the wind of a hurricane. Landrew eased open one eye and saw only a blur as the city sped past him.

Then, silence. The carousel became still.

Landrew opened his eyes as he felt the two Italian men help him down. Standing on the floor of the carousel and looking up, the two Italian men seemed gigantic. The horses towered over Landrew.

The wicked woman called him, "Go home. Go home little boy. I don't give free rides. Get the money from your parents and pay me when you come back."

Landrew looked at his hands. They were the hands of a child. He looked at his feet. They were the feet of a child. Landrew ran home. But along the way, realized he didn't any longer know where home was. Landrew stopped and sat on a step and began to cry.


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