Posts by Ed Lehner

I am a retired professor and presently a luthier, musician, poet, and novelist, and live and play in Durango, Colorado. When not writing, I repair stringed musical instruments, hike, bike, do yoga in our beautiful San Juan Mountains. I am the author of "San Juan Sunrise" and most recently, "The Awakening of Russell Henerson". Please follow me for more of my musings and poetry on my blog, www.oldturkblog.wordpress.com, and my author webpage at www.amazon.com/author/edwardlehner. I'd love to have you follow my page.

Dana’s Story, Part 3

I had never been to a city like Chicago. I was shocked and un-nerved by the busyness, the tall buildings, all the people. Our apartment was located a few blocks from Russell’s bank. I wasn’t close to anything which made no difference since I had no job. The apartment was on the tenth floor with big windows, but all I could see were other buildings. It was nice, not very spacious, but plenty big enough for our needs. We bought what furniture was essential for the bedroom, living room, and kitchen plus a desk for Russell in the second bedroom. Both our parents had given things like lamps, dishes, and some other necessities. Neither of us had any  idea about setting up a house but it sort of came together.

The next step was the wedding. Both Russell and I wanted a small, quiet simple affair, but, of course, my parents wanted to invite half the republican Party and Russell’s parents covered half of eastern Iowa, so the guest list was huge, most of these people neither of us knew or had ever met. If it were up to us, we would have had maybe a dozen or so people that we even knew, a few relatives, a few college acquaintances and maybe some high school friends.

Be that as it may, the invitations were sent. I had my dress, my mother had hers. We had the rings and managed to find a best man and bridesmaid, Russell had a guy he knew from high school and I, from law school. I had few friends and Russell had even fewer.

Since I was from the middle of the state and Russell was less that sixty miles from the eastern side of the state, we elected to have the celebration in the small college town of Grinnell right on Interstate 80, midway between, so there would be an easy drive for our guests.

The day came, we did the ceremony, there was a huge reception where we received congratulations from people who we didn’t know until we were tired of standing. We clumsily did the first dance, cut the cake and did all the right things to placate our parents. Then it was over at 12:30 A.M. 

Russell and I took turns undressing and putting on our pajamas in the bathroom as we were too uncomfortable and embarrassed to do it in front of each other. Russell was pretty drunk and fell into bed, instantly asleep. I crawled in, maintaining as much distance as I could from him in the king size bed. I lay awake a long while thinking about what I had done and wondering what the future might hold. I felt relieved that we had postponed the sex.

We flew out of Des Moines the next day for our honeymoon in Cancun. Russell had insisted we be by the ocean and wanted to go down to a resort there. I told him it was summer and would be really hot. It was in the high eighties and he got sunburned the first day on the beach and was miserable. 

We tried to have sex for the first time on the second night. He just got on top of me, shoved himself into me. It hurt like a hot poker was being rammed into me. He was inside of me for about a minute, grunted, his body stiffening, and rolled off, rolled over and went to sleep. That was far from what those books had told me. It was certainly not pleasurable but painful and messy. We had sex once more that week and it was awful and painful every time we did it from then on. I hated sex but felt it my duty as a wife.

I spent most of the honeymoon studying for the Illinois bar exam and Russell spent his reading through a bundle of information from his new employer, most of the time being spent indoors because the sun was so blistering hot. I would have just as soon been back home in our new place in Chicago.

God Has Left

God has left the building . . .

How was her performance?

Was there a sing along?

Did she have the harp band?

Or solo with her guitar?

Did she wear her black gown

with the high collar?

Or her white suit with flowers?

Was there screaming?

Was there gnashing of teeth?

Was the crowd wearing sackcloth?

Who cleaned up the ashes?

 

Sorry I missed . . .

Maybe I’ll catch the next show.

Or . . . maybe not.

Seven Angels

Seven Angels flitted ‘round my brain

as sweet butterflies of light might

lighten my darkness in deep nights

of existential despair.

 

Seven Sisters of Pleiades suffer

from the heavens of Taurus to 

salve the desire to return to 

my souls nakedness.

 

Hyades comfort me while Athena

protects me when Atlas shrugs

as he holds this lonely blue planet

above with its eternal turmoil.

Dana’s Story, Part 2

Russell was like me in many ways, studious, smart, and very driven, no, I should say, extremely driven, to succeed after he got his MBA, determined to make a million dollars by the time he reached thirty. I hadn’t ever really dated many guys so I guessed that was a good thing, like all guys were like that. But he was nice and treated me with respect. He was the first guy I ever kissed. I think I was the first woman he ever kissed and it was awkward, very awkward. But I felt safe with him because we were the same.

We got on well together, spending as much time with each other as we could, considering our huge study loads. I went with him a few times to his family’s farm. His parents, like mine seemed to be conservative. The first time I met them, his mother ran me through the wringer with her questions, frightening me. She seemed pushy and overwhelming and I didn’t like her at all. His brother Donny came across as a pompous ass, but his sister, Karen, seemed sweet, but very shy. With Russell being the youngest, it surprised me that both siblings still lived at home. Russell explained that Donny, the oldest, worked on the farm and Karen worked for the local implement dealer. Russell explained that, being there were few if any places for a single person to rent in the small town, she still camped out with her parents.

I think we both felt that this might be the best we could do, so we decided to get married, making both sets of parents happy, seeing we were both marrying well educated partners and should get on quite well in our lives. 

There wasn’t any pre-marital sex. I wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. When I got up the courage to ask my mother, she just scoffed and said it was just the woman’s duty to satisfy her husband’s needs and dropped the subject. I knew about sex to a degree, but had no idea about the mechanics of it all so I found two books explaining men, women, and sex. I thought the whole thing rather strange, exposing yourself like that, but it was supposed to be pleasurable . . . that remained to be seen. It all sounded disgusting.

I made the Law Revue and would graduate fourth in my class. Several prestigious law firms, two in Des Moines, one each in Minneapolis and Kansas City, and one in Cedar Rapids were recruiting me. But Russell wanted to go to Chicago even though I was all ready to take the Iowa Bar since I would have liked to stay in the state. But he was offered a great position at a financial bank and he scoffed at wanting to stay in Iowa and not wanting to go to either Missouri or Minnesota. So Chicago it was. My opportunities were dismissed and I thought that was the way things were supposed to be between husband and wife. I began to study for the Illinois Bar.

Our wedding date was set for the end of June so we could get settled in Chicago before and have a weeks honeymoon before he went to work. I would try to find some sort of position somewhere. Russell’s new employer gave him a nice signing package and a great beginning salary so we were able to nicely afford the honeymoon trip and a nice apartment in pricey downtown Chicago. 

While he was on top of the world with his new work, I was not, being  apprehensive about my future, what I might find, where I might end up.

Coast Highway

I was on my spin bike a few days ago watching a video of a bike ride on the California Coast Highway or Highway 1. The ride went through Big Sur and having recently read Jack Kerouac’s book, Big Sur, this came to mind.

coast Highway

midnight run

soft night

top down

wind in hair

radio on

bebop sax

full tank

last joint

last beer

stoned?

drunk?

both?

don’t care

pacific fog

headlights

taillights

big sur

bixby bridge

been nowhere

being nowhere

Dana’s Story, Part 1

As I promised last week, I want to write a little story about Dana who had a short appearance in my recent novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. For those of you who have read the book, I feel I never really developed Dana as I might have, so here is her backstory. For those who haven’t yet read it, this should stand alone and will give you better insight when you do read it, which I know you will. Please bear with any typos or mis-spelling as I am self editing but will do the best I can. I will try to get an update at least once a week. So here goes:

Dana’s Story, Part 1

I grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa. My father worked for the Iowa Republican Party, my mother was a housewife and social organizer for the many Party events and fund raisers. Both were very conservative and I was brought up in their shadow. My time in school was spent studying, getting good grades and not much else . . . no sports, extra-curricular activities, and hardly any social life, all of which my parents thought were a waste of time. My girl friends were like me, bookworms, none of us at all popular, the four of us hung out with ourselves. Boys were a complete enigma to all of us.

At the end of my senior year in high school, much to my surprise, a guy asked me to the senior prom. He wasn’t one of the popular guys for sure, not very good looking, tall, skinny, and unruly red hair. I was hesitant but reluctantly agreed to go with him. My mother was surprisingly thrilled and took me shopping for a dress, shoes, and a new hair styling, different from my usual boring pony tail. When I got dressed the night of the prom, I looked in the mirror and was amazed that I actually looked pretty. My father looked over his glasses when I came into the living room where he was reading, acknowledging that I looked, ‘proper’. My mother thought I looked ‘nice’.

The guy, Billy Callahan, picked me up and handed me a nondescript corsage, letting me try to pin it on myself, then acted clumsy and embarrassed when he came in to meet my parents. I thought I smelled beer on his breath. He walked ahead me on the way to the car, not saying anything, not even that I looked nice. I saw he was with one of his friends and his date when he opened the door to the backseat. We got in and Billy handed me a beer, which I refused so he kept it and drank it along with the one he already had open. I guessed all three of them had already been drinking, They were talking loud, laughing and joking, the radio blaring some rock music. I hadn’t ever drank alcohol before. I didn’t know what to do or how to act, this all made me feel nervous and afraid, so I tightened up my seatbelt and sat with my hands in my lap, fiddling nervously with my fingers, eyes downcast. It was horrible. I felt trapped, terribly small and out of place, realizing I had made a huge mistake, wanting to go back home before the night had even begun.

Neither of us had said more than a few words to each other on the way. It got worse when we got to the dance. I didn’t know how to dance very well and was very self conscious. Finally after trying a few dances, Billy finally got frustrated, told me I was a pathetic loser and to get away from him, turned his back to me and walked away, leaving me stunned, in the middle of the dance floor. Everyone around us heard him and started to laugh. He went over and talked to his friends who all began staring at me and laughing. I just stood there, stunned, not knowing what to do, finally walking off the floor through a crowd of dancers, all looking and laughing at me. I hung my head, I thought I might throw up, tears were starting to well.

I went to the restroom and looked at myself in the mirror, trying to take deep breaths to calm myself, chastising myself for being so stupid to put myself into this position. Calmed down as best as I could, eyes dried, I went out to find my girlfriends, none of which had a date, and found them sitting by themselves in a corner. I told them what had happened and they were sympathetic, but I suspected that they wanted to say, “What were you thinking!”. They were bored so we all left before it was even 9:00. Thankfully my parents were out so I didn’t have to explain anything. I went to my room and ripped off my dress and threw it in a pile in the corner, fell onto my bed, sobbing into a pillow, hating myself for my stupidness and clumsiness. It occurred to me that I was probably a last chance choice for Billy Callahan’s prom date.

Thank god that there were only two awful weeks after the prom until graduation. Billy Callahan and his friends spread the word on what a dud I was. I became the laughing stock of the school. I didn’t even want to go to my graduation, but my parents insisted. I left immediately after the ceremony and skipped all of the few parties I was invited to. Billy Callahan was the last guy I went out with until I was in law school.

I graduated high school with honors, completed college in three years, graduating Magna Cum Laude. As in High School, I spent most of my time studying or at the library, skipping the social life of most undergrads. I was accepted into law school at The University of Iowa where I met Russell Henderson at a small party in my second year.