Small Conceits

Musings. Stories. Poems. From where I stand.


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by Charles L. Dilworth (a.k.a. “Dad”)

I served as a Marine in my early twenties. While at Camp Lejuene I was assigned as a Duty NCO one weekend. The Duty NCO’s responsibility was to keep a watchful eye on the barracks and make sure the Marines returning from a night on the town got into their bunks without doing any harm to themselves or to others. The biggest challenge was that of trying to stay awake all night. Fortunately, we had a vending machine that dispensed coffee and hot chocolate.

I was doing OK, but after about my sixth cup I decided my stomach would not tolerate any more coffee. The only alternative was hot chocolate.

I inserted my quarter into the machine and watched the chocolate pour into my cup. The force of the stream of chocolate created a layer of foam on the surface of the drink. When I removed the cup and took a sip of the hot brew, I detected a lump of chocolate which had not dissolved (so I thought).

When this lump suddenly grew legs I quickly expelled everything from my mouth.

If there is a moral to this story it would have to be this:

If you must have a late-night cup of hot chocolate from a vending machine, before you do anything else, first bang on the side of the machine to chase away the cockroaches.

Charles L. Dilworth spent much of his childhood out-of-doors, learning about the woods and the critters who populated them. He lives in Rock Hill, SC, with his wife of more than 50 years.


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At my parents’ dinner table one night, my brother updates us on his health:

John: “They don’t think it’s rheumatory arthritis anymore.”
Mom: “What do they think it is?”
John: “Possibly psoriatic.”
Mom: “What kind?”
John: “Psoriatic.”
Mom: “No, what came before that?”
Me: “He said possibly psoriatic, Mom.”
Mom: “Oh…I thought he said something about a ‘possum.”
Dad: “Me, too.” <adjusts hearing aid>
Mom: “I’m sorry, honey. So, you were saying that now they think it’s psoriatic…”
John: <brilliant deadpan> “Possumly.”


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Yesterday at Luna Music:

I close my eyes, open my arms wide, and smile, breathing in the old-building smells, the platistic-y must of album covers and CDs, and — best of all — the sounds of young men, music enthusiasts, chatting excitedly near the register.

I open my eyes to find my sister, head cocked quizzically, smiling at me.

“What?” she asks.

“I spent a good part of my late 20s and early 30s in places like these,” I tell her quietly, lowering my arms. My smile remains but changes shape a little.

I watch her connect the dots.

“Sometimes I forget to heal things,” I tell her.

And she puts her arms around me and pulls me close, helping me to begin yet again.