Maybe I should sit quietly in a dark room

Vol XIV: Maybe I should sit quietly in a dark room for a while.

Paul Beckman is a real estate salesman, a snorkeler, traveler and photographer. He's had a collection of short stories published, "Come! Meet My Family and other stories", a novella published in the complete issue of Parting Gifts, "Lovers and Other Strangers" and is one of the winners of Smiths 6 word stories contest. He's read at the 92nd St. Y in NYC, KGB, also in NYC and various other bookstores and venues in Connecticut and New York. He specializes in the short story, the short-short story, post-card, flash fiction and micro stories. Paul has also been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize, including 2009.



Some day you will understand and then it will

be too late my mother said to me often.

Years later I called her from across the country

and said, you were right, mom. Now I understand.

Too late, she said, and we both stayed on the

phone listening to the other’s silence.





He was tired of being told no‑-so he stopped asking. He was six.
Now in middle age he doesn’t understand why he’s labeled as habitual and incorrigible so he has no reason for regrets.






They say the New Haven Green is sitting atop buildings from way back. When it was discovered they wanted to do an archeological dig but the local uproar put the kabash to it. Whenever I go to concerts on the Green I bring a soup spoon and spend my time clandestinely digging while listening to the concert. I’m looking for just that one artifact that will make me famous, rich or notorious.






Mirsky rang the bell and stood on the stoop waiting. Reflexively, he touched his fingertips to the mezuzah on the door jam and then to his lips. Elaine opened the door and the two of them stood looking at each other for the first time in over a year.
“Mirsky,” Elaine said. “Why are you here?”
Mirsky ran his fingers through his hair, shook his head and turned around and walked back to his car.
He remembered listening to the Charlie Parker CD that Elaine had bought him a long while back, before they separated, and while lost in the music and not paying any attention to his driving, he drove to his old house by habit. By habit—even after a year and a month had passed. Strange, he thought, strange and scary. He worried about his fifty year old mind.
Elaine went back to her coffee and smiled. She was pleased that her husband was getting tired of the separation and of not seeing her. She walked to the bathroom and look in the mirror to see what Mirsky had come to see and felt satisfied.





Stop, she said.
Okay, I said.
Not yet, she said, scolding me like a schoolboy.





“Slide over,” Milton said to his wife. He was standing in the theater aisle holding a giant tub of buttered popcorn and a large cola.
“I like the aisle,” she said. “You know that. Squeeze by me.”
He tried to hand his wife the goodies but she ignored him and made no move to pull her legs back.
“I can’t squeeze by,” he said. The lights began to dim.
“Shh,” she said and Milton looked around and saw an aisle seat, walked over and asked the woman next to it if it was taken. “No, it’s not,” she said pleasantly, and then the old story became the new one as they shared the popcorn by the light of the movie.






Sometimes I have premonitions. I come by them legally; my mother had them and so did her twin sister. At different times they both told me about their mothers and grandmother’s premonitions.
I hope that my children don’t get them—the burden’s too heavy. A person can’t act on every one nor should they but the pressure is enormous to do so.
I have a strong feeling that the New England Journal of Medicine will be coming out with an article entitled The Premonition Gene and it will tell things about those of us that carry it that I don’t want to hear—things like—well I can’t go into it because this premonition doesn’t have a happy ending and while many of them don’t, this bad feeling premonition is making me crazy and afraid.
Forget I mentioned it. Please.





There was a time when most people knew their neighbors and socialized with them. Nowadays they socialize out of the neighborhood but some how still manage to poach their neighbor's spouses.







Try a little harder this time, Elaine said to her husband, Mirsky.
I’m not sure that I can try any harder, he said.
Well I’m sure, she said.
How can you be sure for me?
Because I know you. I know when you’re trying your hardest and when you’re not.
You should be more understanding, Mirsky said.
I am being understanding, Elaine said.
Understanding yes, Mirsky said, but I mean more understanding.
I’m at max understanding in this situation, Elaine said.
Elaine, I know you and I know when you’re at your max understanding and when you’re not, and I know that you’re not. You should try harder to understand.
Well if you tried harder than perhaps I would be more understanding.
See what I mean? You just admitted that you have room for more understanding.





My new bride and I stood in a short receiving line in her parents’ living room while well-wishers lined up to say their congratulations.
“I’m Elaine’s Uncle Phil,” Uncle Phil said and squeezed my hand hard instead of shaking it. I winced. I winced again when he patted my cheek a little too hard and said, “You be good to my favorite niece or you’ll have to answer to me.” Wide-eyed I nodded my acquiescence as he moved down the line to Elaine.
“Mazel tov, honey,” he said and handed her an envelope. She smiled and he bent over and kissed her on the mouth and I saw his tongue coming out just before their lips touched.
“Don’t expect me to invite him for dinner,” I whispered in her ear as he moved on to my in-laws, his sister and brother-in-law. Just before he went to kiss Mom she started coughing and covered her mouth with one hand while waving him to move on with the other.