Trumpets of Heaven

                                                     -glass sculpture: adrienne pike adelphia


When my dad was dying he heard bells ringing nearby. Sometimes he heard trumpets. He would be there lying on his side in the bed at home with mom pacing in and out of the room.

            Or I’d be there in the next room watching television.

            He’d shout out, “These are the bells of my destruction.” Or he’d say, more quietly, “These horns call me away.”

            His language frightened us more than his sickness because he had never been religious or dramatic.

            The doctor didn’t know what was wrong with him so he prescribed a few medications. One worked. Antibiotics.

            Dad got better right away and the hallucinations went away.

            My mom left him a few months later. She never got over the bells and trumpets.

            It had been an infection in his brain.


            Not long after she left, my mom found a nice new guy her age. He was separated from his wife and had a big family.

            From what my mom told me about the family, they used to fight all the time and lived in some kind of violent disarray. They were falling apart.

            My mom changed that. It was just chance.

            She moved in and the fighting stopped. She didn’t do anything in particular.

            The family came together into a functionality that reminded everyone of an old television show. They were happy with my mom. And my mom was happy with them.

            Even the wife came back to live in the house. Everybody got along, even with two mother-wives. The husband was happy with the situation. They all lived together for a while and it was like some magic spell had been cast. Two mothers. One husband. Five kids. And somehow things didn’t get complicated.  

            It was a strange family.

            I never visited. I went to my dad’s house to watch football games with him. He wasn’t unhappy.

            Everything seemed to be working out fine for everyone.


            In my yard the grass is a sweet vibrant green when the sun hits it. Low clouds pass in clusters overhead. It has been raining for almost two weeks.

            The green of the grass is flecked with the yellow of the drowned where the water has pooled. Grass dies like some dogs. It doesn’t know when to stop eating. And it drowns.

            A thick bank of clouds is on the way and I stand in my doorway and watch it come.

            Dad is probably doing the same thing at his house, standing in his doorway and watching the same clouds approach.

            The grass is the same at his house a few miles away. A bright green flecked with squash yellow. Not the umber yellow of dry grass. The melon yellow of gluttonous spring.

            We are doing the same thing at the same time as if the separation of time was removed from us, and distance too, and thought, because we are doing the same thing and thinking the same thing.

            There is a drip that comes from rain water landing in a metal bucket beneath the eaves. It reminds me of bells and distant trumpets. I am suddenly moved by a feeling that I cannot name but I think it is a kind of sadness.

            I step onto the front steps into the rain and shout, “I can hear them, dad. I can hear them.”

            Instantly I am soaked. I go back inside with the same feeling grown heavier on me.

            I drip a path to the kitchen and pour a malty beer. The scent hits my sinuses like a curative and when I take a sip my teeth are stung with a short-lived sting of cold.

            In the living room I sit down on the couch, looking straight out in front of me at the rain outside the window. The great dark cloud is just reaching my house. A false twilight beneath it makes all the grass look grey, the green and yellow both, like a miniature stormy sea.

            I should take these wet clothes off.

            There is a game on tonight that I will watch. The television is blank and dark for now but I know I will turn it on. I will stop thinking about it, stop thinking about anything, and turn it on. Or I will still be thinking but I will forget that I have had these thoughts about the television and how it will happen in my head when I turn it on. I will get lost in the thicket of ideas under the storm in my brain, reaching back through five years to hear the trumpets and bells of infection, wondering how a virus can make a person hallucinate and whether hallucinations are a real part of life, like dreams.

            Then the television will be on.

            Like it came on all by itself.

            I should take these wet clothes off.

            I muster the energy to take off my shirt. The dry warmth of the air hits me and I feel renewed.

            It was so easy. To be renewed.

            I take off my pants too.


the Artists

adrienne pike adelphia is a sculptor, painter and glass-artist living in the Illinois River Valley. A member of the Chicago Artists Coalition and the Ottawa Arts League, pike adelphia has shown her work in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Southern California.

Find more of adrienne pike-adelphia’s work here: Adrienne Pike Fine Art.


eric m martin is an artist, playwright and fiction writer. His work has appeared or will soon appear in Hard Times, Rokoko, Philosophy for the Rockers, The Open Doors Zine and on stage.

Find more work from eric m martin here: House of Water.


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