Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mary's Song


Mary’s Song 


Ed Benjamin

Speculation about the temporary janitor seemed to relieve the monotony and dreariness, which sometimes gripped the midnight shift of the children’s ward of the Nix Hospital in downtown San Antonio.  Even though he was temporary and it was his last night, he mopped the floor carefully.  As he made his way down the hall, it was evident he took pride in his work.  His floors shone.   

The curiosity over the quiet stranger waned after two weeks and Julie Kilpatrick and the other nurses began to occupy their thoughts over reports of sightings of the Virgin Mary. One report placed her in Tucson, another in Nueva Laredo, and another sighting was reported in Juarez.  The news media had begun to report the sightings as a curious phenomenon of Columbus Day; a day that had arrived at midnight just after the nurses had begun their shift.

“Too bad she can’t help poor Angela”, Julie, the head charge nurse, commented. 

Angela Garcia was a ten-year-old girl in Room 314 who seemed to have lost the will to live and was wasting away from a rare disease. Normally a skeptic, Julie wondered if miracles were really possible and while you’re at it, give that poor man some joy.  She saw the janitor working on the floor near Angela’s room.

The door to room 314 opened and the man looked up.  This was a new nurse.  She beckoned him into the room.  He had never seen this nurse before.  He noted her radiant smile..

“Mr. King, I need your help.”

“How did you know my name?”

She smiled again.

“It’s on your name tag.”

The man went into the room.  There was a scent of roses in the air. 

He stood there in the room and looked around.  There wasn’t any sign of any mess. He had assumed that the nurse wanted him to clean a mess of some sort.  The young girl on the bed opened her eyes.

“Are you here to sing me my song?”

“No, I’m just the janitor.”

“But the nurse said you would come in and sing me a song.”

“I used to sing some, but I haven’t sung anything hardly in over twenty years.”

“Please sing for me.”

The man looked around; the nurse seemed to have disappeared.  Then, he noticed a painting of the Virgin Mary on the wall.  It didn’t seem to be there when he entered the room.

Down the hall, the music drifted past the nurses’ station.

“Somebody’s playing the radio.  I haven’t heard him sing in years.”

“Where’s it coming from?”

“314, I think.  I don’t have the heart to tell her to turn the radio off.”

“Well, let her finish this song, then I’ll go tell her to turn it off.”

Later, Julie walked down to check the room.  The music had stopped.  As she walked down the hall, she saw the janitor getting in the freight elevator.  She waved goodbye; it was his last night.  She noticed tears in his eyes.

She opened the door and looked in.  That’s funny!  No radio.  Angela lay there sleeping with a smile on her face.  There was a rose on the pillow next to her face.  Julie instinctively knew that Angela had somehow turned a corner and would be okay.

The mystery puzzled Julie.  Who had been playing the radio at three o’clock in the morning?  And where?

Julie noticed a new painting on the wall.  The painting depicted three ships.  There was the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.  In the painting, the Santa Maria, the “Saint Mary”, proudly led the other two as Columbus led his voyage of discovery.  The Santa Maria gleamed in the early morning sun and above the ship, an image of the Virgin Mary floated in the sky.

In the meantime, the man headed for the bus station.  It’s time, Elvis thought, to discover what my grandchildren are like. 

The End

Author’s Note: 

I never submitted this one for publication because I did not think any editor would buy it. It was close to Columbus Day in 1998 and I had to come up with something quickly for a writers group i had joined.  This was the result.  I hope you enjoyed this little story.  I always like to write about the endurance and goodness of the human spirit. (Ed Benjamin, Jan 16, 2013)

Shameless Self Promotion:

If you want to read something in a different vein, I would invite you to purchase and read my little story about fighter pilot, Harry Miles, who becomes a national hero, loses his life’s ambition, and then begins to discover the resilience of the human spirit.   You can find HARRY’S WAR on Amazon Kindle, Nook, and other download sites.  I have listed a few sites below for your convenience.

Amazon Kindle US:

Barnes and Noble Nook:

Amazon Kindle UK:

Amazon Kindle Canada:

Amazon Kindle Spain:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Copse

The Copse, a short short story
Ed Benjamin

A forest in northwest Arkansas
September 18, 1995

The man stood in the copse of pine trees that filled the area behind his home.  It was near dusk.  He was standing at the edge of the mountain and looking down into the valley watching the road snaking up the hill.  All of a sudden, a glint of sunlight caught his eye.  He had noticed the flash of sunlight in his peripheral vision as it bounced off an object in the eastern sky.  He looked up.

It was an object all right but there was something strange about it.  It was too low and bright to be a plane.  It moved funny too.  It seemed to hover in the air like a helicopter but he couldn't hear any noise. It floated in the air near the ridge and it wasn't over two thousand yards away.  The wind was blowing from the east.  Since he was west of the object, he felt certain that he would have heard something if there were anything to hear.  If it were a helicopter or any other motorized air- borne vehicle, he felt that he would have heard the noise by now.  Save for a slight hissing sound that was more of a hum than a hiss, there was nothing.

He concentrated and strained his ears.  Nothing!

Then, the craft began to descend.  As it came down, it made erratic movements in the air.  The craft’s motion reminded him of a leaf falling.  He thought the object might be a balloon or a blimp of some sort but the lack of wind and the swaying movements it made belied that assumption.

He could see it clearly and it certainly wasn’t any blimp or balloon that he recognized.  The craft had clean, well-defined lines and it appeared to be constructed out of a ceramic of some kind.  Although he had the impression the craft was ceramic; it glinted in the sky like burnished metal. 
Then there was the light.

The sun was in the process of sinking in the west.  The nether world of dimness, that hint of dusk, which presages the coming of the night, had engulfed the mountain.  Yet, the object remained bright.  It was an amazing sight.  The light from the craft seemed self-contained; yet it didn't illuminate anything on the ground below it.  It glowed and there was a pulsating luminosity to the light and it was almost hypnotic . . . dimmer, brighter, dimmer, brighter, dimmer, brighter.  Entranced, the man had to look away for a second to regain his composure.  

The man continued to watch the object from the shadows underneath the trees.  It jigged sideways and then headed for the clearing.  From his knowledge of the terrain, he knew they did not want to go there.  The man stepped out and waved his arms to warn the craft against landing in that particular spot.  Then, a cautionary feeling inside him decided that exposing himself to the craft wasn't a good idea.  He thought better of it and backed underneath the trees so he could continue watching.

After a few jigs, the oval-shaped craft settled down onto the surface.  The man watched as three small beings came around from the far side of the craft and moved to the edge of the clearing. 

He wished desperately for his binoculars.  He strained his eyes to see what the creatures looked like.  All that he could determine was that they were small, humanoid, and it seemed to him that they moved strangely.  They didn't walk like he understood walking but moved in a gliding motion silhouetted against the brightness of the craft.

Somehow, it seemed as if they were moving without touching the ground.  After all, he knew it was very muddy where they were.  They didn't seem to have any trouble getting around.  Two more beings appeared and began to explore the area outside the craft. 

These creatures didn’t seem to be human even though they resembled small children.  He wished he were closer so he could see more, but then he was glad he was able to watch unobserved.

Then, the craft began to move slightly.  It didn't happen all at once.  First, the left side dipped a little, about three feet, as far as the man could tell.  Then the right side caught up.  The man snickered.  These things, whatever they were, had landed right smack in the center of Andersen's Bog, a sinkhole of local repute.  No one had ever claimed it was quicksand but many thought that was what it was.

The occupants of the craft had also realized that something was wrong.  They began to glide toward the other side of the sinking craft.  Soon after they disappeared, the structure began to glow with a brilliant intensity.  The light got brighter and brighter as the craft shuddered for a moment or two. It seemed like it rose about a foot or two.

Then the light became dimmer and the craft settled back into the bog.  Then the light glowed, brighter than it had a few seconds before.  The ship began to vibrate and shake the earth around it. Then, it slipped another foot or two into the earth.

He had begun to realize that he was viewing some sort of space ship, a UFO, others called it.  Some craft which had carried its occupants over many light years of space.  Here they were, God knows how far from their home, after traveling billions even trillions of miles to arrive here on earth and then they got stuck in the mud.

The man imagined the strain and energy that the interaction of the muck and ship had created.  All of a sudden, the craft just popped out off the bog with a jerky movement that propelled it about two hundred feet into the sky.  It seemed to the man that the motion should have created a "pluck" noise as it separated from the earth, but he wasn't able to hear any sound at all.  He was too busy laughing. 

He continued to laugh.

He laughed so hard that his sides hurt.  Tears streamed down his face.  This was too much.  Wait till he told people what he had seen.  They probably wouldn't believe him, but that didn't concern him now.  He was too busy laughing.

As he laughed, he had closed his eyes.  He had bent over, holding his sides and still laughing.  He paused for a moment and opened his eyes.  The craft wasn't in view.  He looked around.  The craft had moved to the north to a position about three hundred feet from him.  It was almost directly overhead. 

Although the ship was thirty yards in diameter, at that moment, it seemed it was a least a mile long.  The man had the distinct impression that the occupants of the craft knew he was there under the canopy of pine boughs.

Apprehension crept into his thinking.  All of a sudden, things didn't seem so funny.  He felt himself getting scared.

His thoughts turned to flight.  He turned in the direction of the path that would lead him to the safety of his house.  He started to run. 

Suddenly, he was unable to move.  His legs felt wooden, like they were dead.  His own body seemed unable to respond to the idea of flight.  No matter how hard he tried, his legs wouldn't operate.  He felt grateful he still seemed to be breathing.  Then, fear began to overwhelm him. 

The apprehension and dread he had felt turned to terror.  At that point, he heard the voice inside his head.


The End 

Author’s Note

Warning: Shameless Self Promotion below

This short short represents the prologue to the reprise of my book, “The Mission”; which I plan to release on Amazon Kindle in the future, if I ever stop procrastinating and if they ever let me out of this pulsating, glowing craft. . . Ed Benjamin

In the meantime, if you like you can check out my novella, “Harry’s War”, available on Amazon Kindle. US: and UK: