Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bronwyn the Brave

Brave. It’s a big word and honorable one. A crown that is never taken lightly by those on the giving or receiving end of it. Brave was a concept that Bronwyn had always admired. That she felt was the greatest compliment to anyone whom it was bestowed upon. A brave person was one to be celebrated and praised. Brave was a quality Bronwyn had a great deal of respect for accompanied by an adoration which she felt was welcomed and treasured by anyone on the receiving end of it no matter who or where the compliment came from. Until, that is, Bronwyn had a complete understanding of what one had to go through to be dawned, brave. Until the person on the receiving end the title of brave was her.

Brave is one thing to someone presenting the compliment and something all-together different to the person receiving it. It isn’t that it is good or bad or negative, not at all. It is simply something you can’t imagine until you yourself have been deemed, “brave.” To date, that was Bronwyn’s largest lesson and realization in her journey.

She in no way wanted to complain, not at all, Bronwyn only wanted to be understood and was therefore always careful with her words when trying to explain her feelings. It was and honor for her to be thought of as an inspiration and to be held in such high esteem. It was taking quite a bit of getting used to as in Bronwyn’s mind she was simply rolling with the punches life had decided to send her way. She wanted to help and empower everyone she could, but what Bronwyn also wanted was to feel loved and to be loved, not because of what she was doing or how she was doing it, but because of who she was. Who she was completely. With all of the courage and fight she was exhibiting, for Bronwyn she was simply walking down the only path available to her. She was still a normal woman with dreams of love, career, romance and adventure. She lived for quietly watching the sun set, walking on the beach while the daylight kissed her skin and curling up under a warm blanket on a cold afternoon to watch movies and maybe order a pizza to enjoy with a good friend or a sweet love.

Bronwyn was many different things. Brave was only one of them. Brave wasn’t even something she realized she was until people began telling her that on a daily basis. It was the label that changed everything for her. For her core group of friends and family brave was an addition to the Bronwyn they already knew. For those less close to her and just coming into her life brave defined her or so it seemed in most cases. In the beginning that was alright, then slowly, but surely Bronwyn realized that brave put her in an invisible glass box on the shelf of a virtual museum where she could be celebrated and admired, but not touched or hugged or loved or understood for who she was as a complete person. As much as she understood and wholeheartedly appreciated the new phenomenon, the label of brave was the loneliest thing she had ever experienced in her life. It was truly the definition of a double edged sword for her because as much as it tortured her it was the greatest compliment she had ever known.

In many ways Bronwyn had become untouchable to others overnight and that frightened her. As elated as she was to have become a brave and inspiring being to so many, knowing that there was no going back Bronwyn could only wonder who could see past that and who would be able to come into her life beyond the brave and truly love her. The brave her, the scared her, the quiet, the adventurous, the annoying, the playful, the good the bad, the ordinary… all of it. How many friends would she have? How many would lose sight of her? Who would someday walk through an Italian vineyard with her simply for the soft company, taste of the grapes and peaceful bliss of the moment without it being about walking beside the brave that defined her in so many ways to so many?

It was in fact a double edged sword and the sword belonged to Bronwyn for the remainder of her existence. It was something that could not be changed and something that Bronwyn had no desire to change. Her experience and outlook was so incredibly different than what the general consensus from the outside looking in seemed to be. Bronwyn was happy with so much of what cancer had brought into her life. Everything was different. More exciting. Better. Nothing was out of reach. Impossible was a concept that no longer lived in her world. She was in the middle of experiencing the scariest, most empowering and most liberating gift that life would ever give her and she knew that. The diagnosis and journey through the fight had given Bronwyn a perspective on life she never would have had and which she held close to her heart, understanding all the while that cancer too was a double edged sword which angered and freed her to extremes beyond comprehension.

There were no decisions or rationalizations to be made. There was nothing here nor there to be done other than wait and see who did what and when as life continued. For Bronwyn all there was to do was express herself in the manner that felt most confortable to her, a manner that allowed her to be. On some days that would be hard, on others liberating. It was all part of accepting the woman she was and the somewhat mythical character she was becoming. It was the begging of Bronwyn the Brave.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Evelyn Johnson, Betty Lou Mayfield and Infamous Battle of the Blackberry Pie

It was the first day of summer, the day of the annual town bake fair, and Betty Lou Mayfield had a bee in her bonnet. It seemed that Evelyn Johnson, had baked a blackberry pie to serve with hand turned vanilla ice cream topped with fresh nutmeg and a berry chocolate spritzer with fresh mint leaves, which as everyone knew was Betty Lou’s signature dessert. It had been for forty-two years. That dessert was a source of pride for Betty Lou and it was celebrated long before Evelyn Johnson was even born.

No one was sure of exactly what Evelyn was up to as she pranced down Main Street after delivering her contribution to the judges
of the Jig Jag Corner Falls Bakes and Sweets Contest, but no one asked her either. No. They all just watched, every one of them, as Evelyn waved and smiled at folks in her new garden green dress, set hair and perfectly manicured nails. They watched until Evelyn reached Betty Lou, who was still holding her tray of delectables for the judges and then each and every one of them stopped watching. There was nothing else they could do. They stared.

That sort of thing simply wasn’t done in Corner Falls and it certainly wasn’t done to Betty Lou Mayfield. Betty Lou was a wife, a mother, a baker, a beauty queen and all around charming and respected southern lady. Evelyn, on the other hand, had moved with her family from Chicago when she was only a pre-teen, and from the moment she arrived Evelyn Johnson was trouble. Her family owned more than half the land in the county so after two generations of city living Evelyn’s Daddy had decided to return so that he and his family could enjoy the country. It was then Evelyn had decided her money made her queen of just about everything. It was then that the other girls saw the fangs in Evelyn’s pearly whites and the claws camouflaged by the perfect petal pink manicure she always wore. The boys didn’t notice a thing. Years went by and they didn’t notice. Evelyn’s swanky figure and ability to stop men of all ages in their tracks with the way she wore her lipstick was known for miles around and she knew it. She stole boyfriends, flirted with husbands and charmed her way into getting anything and everything she wanted. And the thing was it worked. Evelyn Johnson was just about the envy of everyone and had everything a woman could want, everything but the direct line to a man’s hart, the five county famous recipe that was the crowning glory of Betty Lou Mayfield. And apparently on the day of the annual Jig Jag Corner Falls Bakes and Sweets Contest she’d decided to take that too. Evelyn smiled her perfectly sinful smile at Betty Lou, said, “Hello” then continued off into the crowd to be sure she was seen by everyone and anyone willing to look.

Who knew that Evelyn would stoop to competition with a respected lady thirty years her senior for the only crown she didn’t already have. It was scandalous. Downright cynical. Evelyn had crossed a line and the women of Corner Falls wouldn’t have it. Neither would the men quite frankly. This was too much, even for Evelyn Johnson, but the men didn’t say a word. Not one of them. The women would handle this one and they would take their cue from the revered and unanimously respected Betty Lou Mayfield.

Now Betty Lou, standing in shock, dessert in hand, took an understandable pause to consider the circumstances. She was down right livid and down right appalled, but she didn’t say a word or make a move. No. Betty Lou stood quiet in the middle of Main Street while the whole town watched and Evelyn continued through the crowd soaking up the attention and saying her hellos to the sea of shocked townsfolk arriving for the day of fun at the fair.

Almost ten minutes passed before Betty Lou redirected her attention and gave young Babs Taylor a wave. Babs was just seventeen. She lived in New York, but spent two weeks every summer with her Aunt Silvia, who lived just around the corner, so Betty Lou had known Babs since she was just a baby. Babs and her girlfriends were in charge of setting up serving tables so Betty Lou asked the girls to bring her a table right where she stood then she called her husband, who was still at the house, and asked him to meet her on the corner of Main Street and Falls Lane. Mr. Mayfield knew better than to ask for reasons when his wife was speaking in such a calm and even tone so he hung up the phone and headed her way without a second thought as to why, although he did wonder just what he was in for.

Babs and the girls set up two tables with covers then helped Mr. Mayfield take all of Betty Lou’s pies out of the car. Betty Lou didn’t give anyone around her a second look as she arranged her famous dessert across the tables, but make no doubt about it; she knew they were all watching.

When the tables were ready Babs brought over a chair and Betty Lou sat down. With the girls by her side, Betty Lou cut herself a piece of blackberry pie, topped it with a dollop of her hand turned vanilla ice cream and fresh nutmeg, then she poured herself a berry chocolate spritzer with fresh mint leaves, sat back and invited the girls to join her.

Babs and her friends dug right in, as happy as could be, while the patrons of the Jig Jag Corner Falls Bakes and Sweets Contest circled the table both curious and confused. Soon even the judges wandered over to ask Betty Lou just what she was doing. They needed to taste her sweets, of course, and she needed to officially deliver her entry so they all could get started.

As the crowd gathered and the whispers picked up speed the swirl of activity eventually got the attention of Evelyn Mayfield. Evelyn freshened her lipstick and smoothed her hair then casually walked over and stood beside the judges waiting at Betty Lou’s table for a response. After a sufficiently long moment of tension for Evelyn and the onlookers, with a big Southern smile and as calm as could be, Betty Lou Mayfield explained that she wouldn’t be entering Jig Jag Corner Falls Bakes and Sweets Contest. No. She enjoyed her baking and the joy it brought to the town she loved. It wasn’t important her to win and it wasn’t of interest to her to fight. Evelyn Mayfield could have the blue ribbon if she earned it. That wasn’t why Betty Lou baked. It wasn’t her purpose. Betty Lou did what she did because it made her happy and anyone who enjoyed her signature dessert was welcome to step up to the table and enjoy it with her. She would serve them herself.

Well, Evelyn Johnson turned a shade of red that made a cherry tart look pale and for the first time in her life Evelyn nothing to say. Seeing that she was flushed and shocked enough to faint Betty Lou kindly offered Evelyn a berry chocolate spritzer with fresh mint and a seat beside her to enjoy a piece of blackberry pie topped with a dollop of hand turned vanilla ice cream sprinkled with fresh nutmeg. Not knowing what to do Evelyn Johnson did just that. And that is how the Infamous Battle of the Blackberry Pie began and ended at the Jig Jag Bakes and Sweets Contest in Corner Falls on the first day of summer.

© Evelyn Johnson, Betty Lou Mayfield and Infamous Battle of Blackberry Pie

Monday, June 27, 2011


Jacqueline walked across Trafalgar Square. No fear. No hesitation. Only love. All for the moment.

She had lived quite a life. Sometimes eventful, sometimes quiet and ever meaningful. Jacqueline was an old soul with a young spirit. That’s what her mother had always told her.

Jacqueline had always been driven. She knew that. Her life was focused and lean. She understood that she was different than most women, but didn’t think too much about it. She could run toward and walk away from anything with ease. She took chances. She lived. With the passion always leading, there was no need to think twice for Jacqueline.

She walked toward the fountain and as she drew closer Jacqueline saw him, standing among the imposing lions that guarded the square and looking back at her as if she was the only woman in the world… the one man who had gotten to her... the one man whom with her made the perfect combination and defined the love that is the passion which drives the meaning of life.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Sally stretched her arms and legs out under the cozy weight of her blankets. The sun was making its way through the morning fog and it felt good. Just the way she wanted to begin the day. Another day. A softness came over her. A radiant zest for life giving her a peaceful and inviting glow. Sally was happy. Ready for the world. All she needed was a little extra strength, mostly to wrangle her patience and lack thereof.

Sally felt like she could take on the world. She knew she could. She also knew that she shouldn’t. That’s where the need for patience came in. Holding back was hard. It wasn’t something she was accustomed to. Sally needed to rest. She needed to nourish her body while it healed. She needed to find a way to convince herself that by taking it easy she would be accomplishing more than she would by climbing Mt. Everest. The goal, so she’d been told, was to understand what she could do and then cut that in half. That restricted part of moving forward on her journey, the being still, was something that Sally did not at all care for. It was a foreign concept and a frustrating one.

Sally knew that all she needed to end the uninvited chapter in her life was a brand new set of wings so she simply wanted to get up and go out and get them. If only everyone and everything in her way would just move so that she could… but there were so many obstacles.

Sally had been sick. She understood that, but it was absolutely a, “had been.” Past tense. The culprit was gone. The problem was that she was still being treated, “just in case.” Just in case they missed something. Just in case there was something microscopic that no one could see. Just in case. Just in case. Just in case. Every test under the sun had suggested the doctors hadn’t missed anything, but still she was going through the treatments just in case. Sally understood that it was a process. She knew that the course of action her doctors had her on was exactly what she needed, but treatments or not, Sally still wanted her new wings and she didn’t want to wait. The waiting was excruciating. The delegating. The letting go. The patience... The expectance of patience just infuriated her primarily because it all made so much sense. It made so much sense that she wanted to scream. How could something so treatable that made so much sense still be happening?

With the impatience pumping through the surface of her subconscious and without a thought of the obstacles, Sally rolled out of bed and started her day; just as she started every other day; with a mind full of plans that her body couldn’t possibly deliver in a twenty-four hour period, but she never thought twice about it. Sally always got out of bed set to do things and always aimed to get those things done. She would keep going on with life and keep climbing that mountain until she found her brand new set of wings. She would persist through each day with a heart full of hope. She would become a bit annoyed with all of those things in her way and then she’d go to sleep and start the next day just the same way all over again.

Sally would go and go until she found her way... and as she continued there would be one thing that she would come to realize and forget daily as the sun rose and set. The one thing Sally knew, but didn’t necessarily quite fully realize, was that Joe had been out all over town looking after her wings. The wings were there, they simply were not yet completed. Sally was alone in her battle, but she was by no means alone. Joe was there. Checking on her wings. Overseeing that they were crafted perfectly. Making sure they were right. Each feather was being fashioned by hand and added to the wings with the greatest of care by hundreds of people. The structure was being balanced. The fit fine-tuned. The ingredients were endless and the work was constant. The wings were made of an ever so slight bit of physical materials, the primary ingredients including things like strength, love, beauty, lasting power… The list went on and on and on.

Sally’s wings were in fact coming, but their assembly was taking more focus, love and dedication than she could possibly understand. It was common for a women embarking on her journey as an angel not to realize what went into the crafting of her wings. Why they took so long to make. And why she had to bare a trek through hell to get them. Hell was part of the journey. So was not understanding it how wings were made. Joe knew that. Joe knew and so through all of Sally’s ups and downs Joe stayed steady and loved her just the same. And Sally got up each morning set to take on the world, only getting half way through her goals until finally one day they had arrived. There was no more need to look. Sally had woken up to find her wings were already there. The angel had come through while she was sleeping and all that Sally had to do was fly.


Inspired by Joe Purdy’s song
Brand New Set of Wings

Monday, April 4, 2011


The blazing summer sun disappeared over the horizon and darkness settled in. Gabriel and Rochelle were wrapped in each others arms looking out over the city as the lights of LA lit up the night sky. The air was sticky. Cuban music spilled out of the house and poured on to the balcony. Sultry. Sexy. Passion consumed them both. There was nothing else. No one else. One flicker after the next the city lights came on. One breath after the next Gabriel and Rochelle became lost deeper within each other.

As Rochelle drifted off to sleep Gabriel quietly put on his suit, gently kissed her on the cheek and walked out the door.

Behind the wheel of a black Porshce, Gabriel drove through the Hollywood Hills in silence. In darkness. In thought. Alone with his breath and focused.

Gabriel was a man unique in his ability to experience pure and raw passion and at the same time function in a methodical and cold manner. It was something that he understood about himself completely and shared with no one.

Gabriel blew down Laurel Canyon past the traffic on Sunset and headed toward the beach. Cops passed by him. People going out for the night. People going home. Men looking for whores. Whores looking for men. The streets of LA were always busy. Alive. Swarming with sin and possibility. Gabriel was aware of everything around him and took note of nothing. He was simply moving through it. Focused on the road, on the night, on where he was going and why.

Gabriel killed the headlights as he pulled on to a quiet residential street in Santa Monica. He opened the glove box and activated a device scrambling all of the security cameras in the area as he made his way toward the entrance of a large estate. He entered a number on the entry key pad and the gate opened. Gabriel followed the long driveway and parked out front, quietly removing a Glock from the trunk and walking through the front door of the house.

Five minutes later Gabriel walked out of the house and got back in his car, pulling away just as focused and methodical as he’d arrived.

He drove down Venice Boulevard to the 10 East freeway and into Chinatown; passing by couples out for the night, people selling things on the streets, casual drug deals, cops on shift and the typical life of Chinatown at night. It was noisy and busy. The red lights of electric signs surrounding him crossed Gabriel’s face as he made one turn after the next.

Reaching the edge of Chinatown, Gabriel made his way into the maze of a warehouse district. He slowed down and finally came to a stop in a deserted alley behind a Porsche identical to the one he was driving. He stepped out of the car and placed the Glock back in the trunk then opened the trunk of the second car to a duffle back full of cash.

Gabriel got into the second car and pulled away, hitting a remote as he did. The first car exploded as Gabriel wound his way back through the warehouse maze and into the flashing red lights of Chinatown. He turned on the radio. Cuban music poured through the speakers. Sultry. Sexy. Gabriel relaxed back into the leather seat and made his way out of Chinatown, into to the city and up Crescent Heights; passing the traffic of Sunset he took Laurel Canyon back into the hills.

Gabriel followed the darkened, winding streets of the Hollywood Hills and pulled into a driveway, cutting the headlights as he approached the house. Quietly opening the front door Gabriel stepped inside. Unbuttoning his shirt, he walked up the stairs.

Gabriel took off his clothes and climbed into bed, wrapping his arms around the love of his life, his passion, Rochelle.

LA Nights by A.W. Gryphon© 3 April 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Maggie wished she was the kind of woman who could settle a broken heart with a shot glass and a bottle of whisky, but she wasn’t the destructive type. No. Maggie would sit with it. She’d always been a woman who stood in her power, and just as steady as she stood in her pain. Maggie’s strength was a curse just as much as it was a blessing. She always took the high road. It usually wasn’t an easy option, or the most attractive to the average man, but it was the only option that would satisfy her spirit.

“Jesus.” She said. Her words lost in the emptiness surrounding her as she soaked in the massive landscape that cemented the lone cowboy type she had become. Maggie could handle the hurt. She’d been through so much of it. But who was she to complain, she thought. She certainly wasn’t the only wounded soul out there. Love generally requires a certain amount of ability to handle pain. She was okay with that. Maggie just wondered when she would find the one that didn’t hurt so much or if that even existed.

Maggie didn’t really drink and she wasn’t the destructive type so she pondered the concept of the existence of true love as she sat on her porch and let herself get lost in the bliss of the sunset and the rise of the evening star.

thoughts on a sunset awgryphon©

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Dyanna slipped a tape into the boom box on her dresser. She hit play with her long acrylic nails covered in Revlon’s blackberry polish and Pat Benetar rocked out of the speaker. It was 7am. Time to start the day.

After a quick shower, a mountain of Vidal Sassoon mousse and a thorough blow out of her hair Dyanna stood in a black satin kimono staring into her closet. She didn’t know what she wanted to wear, but it had to be perfect. The mixed tape playing transitioned from Pat to Motley Crew and something clicked. Dyanna was inspired. The perfect outfit came to her like a song from heaven.

She fell back on her bed, negotiated her legs into her jeans, held her breath to zip up then rolled off the edge and stood up, letting her body settle into the skin tight black denim. Dyanna pulled on a black cut-up half-sleeve sweat shirt, stepped into her favorite high-hell black suede boots and turned to the mirror. She couldn’t breathe yet, but she looked hot.

The crimping iron, big curling iron and tiny curling iron were all ready. It was time to make a decision. Dyanna stared down at the vanity and finally went for reliable comfort; the top-of-the-line pink and gray Conair crimping option. Fifteen minutes of the waffle shaped heat combined with just the right amount of Aqua Net and Dyanna had the perfect hair day she had hoped for. Next came the make-up kit. Layers of blue, magenta and lavender eye shadow held up by liquid black eye-liner and aqua marine mascara showcased Dyanna’s big brown eyes. Two strokes of frosted brownie lip stick and her face was complete. She grabbed her black leather bag by the chain link strap, lit a Marlboro Light 100 and cracked open a Tab just in time to hear her friend Michelle pull up outside. That was it. Dyanna was ready. She was ready for another day at school. It was March 29th 1988. awgryphon©