Strawberry Blizzards and the Holy Ghost

A short story
by Brian Michael Barbeito

Image for Strawberry Blizzards

 The bottom of a pail is broken through.
—Zen Saying


We walked down those streets, and it had rained all day. The entire area had for a while afterwards been wet with a beautiful type of black that sort of glistened. People used headlights in the day, but then in the late afternoon the whole thing turned into a sun shower. A couple rainbows were painted in the sky—one to the east and one to the west. We walked right along there, heading farther south. It was said that you had to lock your doors there, because there was much crime, and this was accurate, but we were okay then, that day—as if we were protected. Our group stole oranges off some trees and ate them—and then boosted a few more and put them in our pockets for good measure. They smelled like they must have smelled the day the world was born, before it fell heavily from grace and goodness and solitary gladness. We had to go visit this church, and when we walked in to where the offices of the church were, it was noticeable that the place was just infused with spirit (which is actually strange for a church), and there was so much spirit there that the walls were infused with it, and there was a genuine happiness—not the happiness of this world that is only based on excitement and is not the real happiness. We had to talk there for a while, an incorruptible place, shining—and I felt and saw that light was coming from everywhere, and you could really see and know that it was in and about things, and that the regular world before was all a sort of make-believe place, a secular cop-out of sorts, full of Maya, of illusion—and that this new illumination was what the seers and sages had spoken and written about. It was a universal and non-denominational thing of course—because you can’t ultimately classify those places of experience—but living in the duality as we did and do, it must be classified anyhow, and for now. We went on from there and down to the Dairy Queen and bought these Strawberry Blizzards. Walking along the streets after that, night was coming, and I thought that the little lizards that lived all around might be getting ready to go to some quiet and secretive dwelling place, or else they were there still by white and pink stucco walls, around orange cars and thick green grasses, or else resting, slightly weary from the day, around pale green garage doors, or by anything—but that they could not be seen now. And that was how we walked those streets, wearing watches and tennis shoes, in t-shirts and in gladness—a long way from the beginning, from creation, but still catching some of the spirit.


Copyright © 2012 by Brian Michael Barbeito
Story image © Elizabetti,
"Strawberry Blizzards and the Holy Ghost" was previously published in Mudjob.


Brian Michael Barbeito

Brian writes:
“Strawberry Blizzards” was written as a sort of remembrance of a mini-satori-like experience on the part of the narrator. The idea is that the feeling of spiritual exuberance is to be found in the church office, but also in otherwise plain and ordinary subtropical streets around it. Whatever the cause of the narrator’s perception, meaning whether it be spirit in the religious sense of the word or spirit in a more plain and unromantic sense—such as the spirit of the street—there is described an extended moment where the ordinary reality seems glorious.

Brian Michael Barbeito lives in the greater Toronto area. He is the author of the prose poem novel postprandial and the compilation of flash prose pieces titled Vignettes. His work has appeared at NFTU (Notes from the Underground), Whisperings Magazine, and elsewhere. You can reach Brian at

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