Stealing from Mamet (Weekly Writing Challenge)

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Stealing from Mamet (Weekly Writing Challenge)

(This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge was aping style.  And I’ve already tackled Roald Dahl, so I thought I’d take a crack at David Mamet.)

It’s only words… unless they’re true.” –David Mamet

“It was crap.”

“What?”

“Crap.”

“You said that.”

“I know.”

“You know?”

“I’m aware.”

“Why don’t you elucidate upon your point?”

“It’s the thing.”

“The thing.”

“The thing that was supposed to go down last week.”

“It was supposed to?  So it didn’t?”

“Well, it did.  But it was a mess.”

“A mess like a cat makes on the kitchen floor when it’s been neglected by some high school girl?”

“More like the splatter of goo when a watermelon is dropped from a falling airplane.”

“Ah.”

“Yeah.”

“That kind of mess.”

“Exactly.”

“What was the play?”

“Haven’t you heard it?”

“I might have.”

“Jackson couldn’t keep his mouth shut if it was stapled shut and then vacuumed up tight by those guys that freeze dry beef.  I thought he’d have spilled it all by now.”

“Not so much spilled as dribbled.”

“He would be a dribbler.  He drools all over himself.”

“But you trusted him.”

“Not really.”

“Enough to help with your scheme.”

“Only barely.  Mostly it was that I knew he couldn’t scheme a way to stab me in the back.”

“So what went wrong?”

“The escape.”

“The exit?”

“The getaway.”

“Jackson ruined it?”

“Like a batch of cookie dough left out for two days.”

“But what about the snatch itself?”

“The snatch worked.  Just only.”

“How so?  Who was your alarm guy?”

“Moron.”

“The alarm guy was a moron?

“The alarm guy’s name was moron, far as I was concerned.  He had moron brains and moron fingers.  Tells me he cut the wires.  Moron says that we’re all clear to go.  Somehow moron didn’t notice that the wires to the panel were wired with an alarm.”

“Dang.”

“Dang is right.  Dang is the sound the prison door makes as it slams shut and leaves us all looking at the vertical window dressings made of pure iron with drugged up failures for roommates.”

“That wasn’t what did you in?”

“This wasn’t my first time having a faulty screw on my sidecar.  I still had the controls, I just took over.  While moron was working to silence the alarms, I went to work.  I knew where the diamonds were.  I knew what I was after.  And lemme tell ya Saul, those diamonds loved me.  They shined, they glittered; they all jumped into my hands like little bugs looking for food.  The diamonds and I, we were all chummy.  I grabbed ‘em, they smiled, and I ran outta that room.”

“The alarm wasn’t going off the whole time?”

“Oh, it was.  I left moron there trying to figure it out while I ran out to Jackson’s escape car.”

“That’s where it took a wrong-turn?”

“That’s where it slammed into a blasted cement wall.  You know who Jackson’s girl is?”

“Not really.  He told me she works for the city.”

“Yeah she does.  As a cop.”

“No kidding?”

“Not even a little.  Jackson said she was sick of bringing home squat.  She’s gotta pay for her gun, her uniform, and take abuse from bums like Jackson.  Thing is, she likes the dangerous side.  Y’know, why spend your nights in a cramped apartment all by yourself when she can hang out with a certain crowd.  A crowd she knows where to find.  Jackson said this woman was all kinds of trouble and she liked to deal that way.”

“So she was in on it?”

“That’s how he told it.  Even arranged a nice getaway vehicle.”

“You mean?”

Pic from Wikipedia.

“You ever see police men stop a squad car when responding to a burglary?  You don’t, because they don’t.”

“That’s quite a set up.”

“It’s a real nice set up.  From the tax-funded gas in the tires to the detective-repellant flashing lights on top.  Plus being able to drive sixty in a twenty-five ain’t a bad speed for a getaway car.”

“So what’d she do, get lost?”

“Oh no, she knew exactly where she was going.  She had the route all memorized.”

“How’s that a bad thing?”

“When she’s driving a couple of cons in the back of a police car to her station, it’s a very bad thing.”

“Shoot.”

“Yeah.”

“She turned you guys in?  Went all two-faced?”

“Apparently she was only trouble for cops.  Her bosses told her put on one face.  When the heist was done, she should pull an about-face.  Jackson was just dumb enough to believe a guy like him could get a dame like her.”

“So she gave you guys a nice pair of handcuffs?”

“I wasn’t the one going out with her; I had no qualms escaping.  Let Jackson take care of his own relationship problems.  If he wants to give the gal a promotion as a parting gift, that’s his affair.  Me, I took off.”

“Outran her and those other cops?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe.  They were there, those big fancy stairs leading to the station were there, and lots of guns were there, so I decided that there wasn’t a place I wanted to be.  I may be good at running a scam, but I run from bullets even better.”

“So you got nuthin?”

“I never have nuthin’.”

“How’d you make off with the jewels?”

“Shoved ‘em in a little travel belt I carry with me.  If it’s good enough when abroad, it’s good enough to fool a broad.”

“The cop didn’t know you made off with the loot?”

“Nope.  She saw me toss a bag in the backseat and figured that was it.”

“What was in the bag?”

“Moron’s dinner.”

“How’s that?”

“The moron likes to snack while he works.  I took it from him because his fingers were gettin’ all slippery and he couldn’t hold his moron tools or manage the wires.  Morons don’t get to eat if they ain’t gonna do the job first.”

“Did the moron get picked up too?”

“Haven’t checked, haven’t heard.”

“But Jackson got arrested.  That’s how he tells it.”

“Yeah.  I’m pretty sure he’s not enjoying the girlfriend’s handcuff skills.  Probably thought it’d be fun when he first hooked up with her.”

“Maybe he’ll find a new girlfriend in there.”

“Nah, he’s too ugly.”

“You’re sittin’ pretty though.  Got all that swag, and no one to split the profits with.”

“This is true.”

“Quite the thing.”

“A close thing.  Still a thing I can live with.”

Slowing Down

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Slowing Down

I have seen slower people than I am–and more deliberate…and even quieter, and more listless, and lazier people than I am. But they were dead.” –Mark Twain

Geoff looked out the window at the cars zooming by and felt an immense sense of bitterness.  That used to be him.  He used to pass by every person, every car on the street.  No one could match him for speed.  He could do things that no other man could possibly consider.  Once, in what now seemed like an eternity ago, Geoff was the fastest man on the planet.

In the beginning there was the terrifying accident.  Geoff had been making some adjustments on a revolutionary particle accelerator.  It had been theorized that they could simulate microscopic explosions by throwing minute matter at each other at terrific speeds.  However, for the power demands that were required, they had been forced to implement a new kind of system.  The generator wasn’t as stable as the staff would have liked, but they had run low on options, time, and funding.  That was where Geoff came in.  If anyone was going to be able to jury-rig their creation into working better, it was him.

The scientists had taken steps to make the area as safe as possible, including installing blast doors that would shut down the moment the regulators felt compromised.  That precaution ended up trapping Geoff.

He had been replacing the paneling on the generator when a power surge forced the regulators offline.  As the lights blinked back on, the blast doors took the incident as a cue and slammed shut.  The staff in the operations room had been so busy focusing on getting the massive doors open for Geoff that they didn’t notice what was happening inside the room until it was too late.

The resultant effect of the surge on the generator itself was that the machine translated the power as a reset.  It clicked and whirred to life, revving up its internal workings without any keystrokes.  Geoff stopped banging on the doors and shouting when he heard that familiar and eerie thrumming coming from behind him.

In the control room, Geoff’s coworkers managed to open the doors in time to see the machine light up with energy.  They froze in terror.  Geoff pointed to the generator and yelled as he fought the panic away.  Barry, Geoff’s longtime lab partner, saw the gesture and rushed to the shutdown button.  Unfortunately, in his hurry to get to the computer he slipped on the floor and banged his head on the shelf.  As the chaos was ensuing, the accelerator came to life.

Another man went for the emergency stop button; however several moments had already lapsed.  The accelerator was at full power and Geoff was caught in a burst of energy and radiation.  He collapsed from the assault just as the button was pushed and the accelerator ceased.

Miraculously, Geoff had been unharmed.  However, he wasn’t the same.  He was kept under close observation for several days.  By the end of the week, Geoff was discovering some surprising abilities that he kept to himself.  There was the clipboard and pen that he had caught when the doctor bumped them off a shelf with his elbow.  A fly that Geoff had meant to brush from his nose had been swatted into the wall across the room and splattered on the wall from the impact.  Also, two or three days into his visit, Geoff noticed that the second hand on the clock seemed to stand still.  In time, he found it that it was him that was moving faster while time went on as it always had.

The first couple of days had been frightening.  Geoff was afraid to move.  A brisk jog to get to the oven in time had turned into him speeding towards the oven and crashing.  His typing on a computer at home had wrecked the device for good.  And just like in the hospital room, he spent what seemed like hours with his senses sped up.  Those were the worst parts.  He wondered each time how long it would take for the world to resume its normal pace.  Was he always going to be left out of synch with everyone else?

Two things had calmed Geoff down considerably.  The first was that his body started to adjust to the changes it had gone through.  With focus and practice, he was able to control when his body sped up and when he operated like a normal person.  His science background and some trial and error afforded him the help he needed.  When he had gone for his first super-speed jog, he found out that there were side effects.  He stopped when a searing pain took over his skin and his clothes started to smell smoky.  Returning to normal speed, he found that the air friction from the human body moving at such a velocity gave him burns and his clothes caught on fire.  After a few all-nighters in his small lab at home, Geoff developed a suit that covered him from head to toe and constantly cooled off the surface temperature of his body.  Within a few weeks, he had managed to rig the controls so that they would shut on and off automatically depending on how fast he was moving.  The soles of the suit were another matter.  Geoff tried various combinations of Teflon, rubber, and asbestos, but he always ended up with a melted mess on his feet when he surpassed their limits.  In the end, it was the government who provided him with an experimental material they had been testing.  As thanks for his public service in rescuing people, they kept him supplied with small amounts of the materials.

The second thing that had helped Geoff fit into his new life was Laura.  Laura was a doctor in the hospital who had a long case history of helping burn victims and those caught in industrial accidents.  She was not only used to keeping busy and moving quickly, she also knew how to get a person up and running again.  Not surprisingly, she was exactly what Geoff had needed.

Geoff’s last checkup appointment had been three months after his accident.  He knew that time wasn’t on his side.  He had needed to move fast.  After this appointment, he wouldn’t have an excuse to drop in on the lovely doctor anymore.  The laughs, the soft gestures; Geoff couldn’t imagine doing without.  She had wished him well and headed for the door.  Without thinking, Geoff sped up and rushed to partially block the door.  His gust of speed caught the objects in the room and tossed them about.  Laura’s hair had also been swept up and now it lay disheveled on her head.  She was so stunning like that, Geoff hadn’t been able to resist.  He asked if he could be assigned a different doctor for his one-year appointment so that he might take the current one out for dinner.  After that, Geoff was never examined by Laura again.  Well, at least not professionally.

That had been five years ago.  For five years Geoff had been doing his best to use his gift.  There were times when he ran around purely for fun.  He liked watching the world whoosh by in a long, blurred line of colors.  He never used his car except when he was riding around with Laura.  Even then, he got restless at not being able to leave the world behind.  Being with his wife was the only part that made car rides enjoyable.

He and Laura agreed that he needed to help others.  Geoff had set several records for sandbagging rivers.  Floods, fires, earthquakes; all were cause for Geoff to run out and grab rescue victims.  Once he learned about grids and GPS, he became a one-man search and rescue team.  Lost hikers and skiers sang his praise and marveled as the snow melted under his feet.  Geoff only wished that he could do more.  He was superfast, but he was only as strong as he had been before the accident.  He couldn’t lift more than two people at a time.  The trouble was that in order to go fast enough that their weight wouldn’t burden him, he would have to speed up to the degree that the friction burns might set in.  It was a delicate balance that Geoff worked hard to master.  Then, on that day three months ago, Geoff’s fun had slowed to a halt.

For a few weeks he had felt like he was slowing down, but he assumed his brain was just playing tricks on him.  The world still moved at a blur.  He was still as fast as he had ever been.  Wasn’t he?

The questioned gnawed at him.  Then, on that Wednesday morning, he had tried to outrun a car that was barreling towards a crosswalk.  The woman behind the SUV screamed that her brakes were out.  Most people ran from the intersection, but an older man couldn’t go any faster.

Geoff set out to do what he did best.  He didn’t have his suit, but he still poured on the speed.  He ran as fast as he could.  He pushed himself to the limit.  And as he moved to pull the man out of the way, he got him clear.  Geoff himself hadn’t escaped so cleanly.

The woman driving the SUV managed to run into fences on the side of the road to slow her vehicle to a stop, but not before running over Geoff’s foot.  Many of the bones in Geoff’s leg shattered and snapped.  Along with his foot, Geoff’s gift seemed wrecked as well.  He hadn’t been able to outrun a simple car.

That had been the day that Geoff had given up on being a speedster.  He knew that whatever energy had changed his body had almost worn off.  He might have some speed in him, but not enough to be reliable.  He still helped people where he could, but now his joyous jaunts of jogging turned into painting kitchen walls or carrying a couch to the truck.  Geoff had a normal job in a lab.  Geoff was in shape.  Geoff took long walks.  Geoff’s life was, in all ways, average.  It drove him crazy.

Geoff once again felt out of synch with the world, but this time it was his turn to watch everyone speed by.  His mind returned from his happier days and refocused on the window outside.  The vehicles continued to whiz by, but a new sight caught Geoff’s attention.  On the wood ledge outside, a small slug inched its way along in search of shade.  Geoff took note of the effort that the slug put forth and how slowly it moved.  Every small increment of advancement came only from gradual, almost painfully slow deliberate moves.  Geoff shook his head and realized he identified more with this disgusting creature than he did with the motorists hurrying by.

Lost in his sulking, Geoff didn’t notice his wife as she walked up behind him.  She took her long arms and wrapped them around his neck.  She rested her head gently on his shoulder as reached behind and scratched her on the small of her back.

“Having a rough morning, are we?”

“Yeah”, Geoff replied.

“Did you know that there is an African tribe named the Maabans?  They live in an extremely quiet place.  I mean, it’s gotta be like the anti-New York.  Do you know what these guys are known for?”

“Their ability to milk slugs?”

“What?  No.  Milking slugs?”

“Bad joke.  So these Macaws?”

“Mabaans.  Culture, dear.  They have pretty much the best hearing around.  They can hear someone whisper from across a baseball field.  That’s a little science fact to impress your lab friends.”

“I’m sorry Laura, but is there a point to this?  It isn’t really helping.”

“You have a lot of different voices, were you aware of that?  When you’re excited, your voice takes on this almost high-pitch tone of glee.  It’s kind of adorable.  When you want attention, you drop about two octaves.  But there is one tone, one tone that you only ever use in one situation.  And the funny thing is, I’ve only ever heard you say two phrases with that tone.  It makes those two sentences that much more meaningful.”

Geoff turned around; a look of confusion present.  “What are you saying, exactly?  What tone?  Do I talk weird?”

“I suppose you could say that, yeah.  But the thing is; you get really quiet.  You almost whisper, ‘It’s okay.’  There’s this underlying feeling of confidence and calmness in your voice.  From anybody else, it’d be patronizing.  Not when you do it.  You simply, almost inaudibly say, ‘It’s okay’.  And the way you say it makes me believe you entirely.”

“You think I learned that phrase from Africans?”

“No.  But I can always hear you when you use that tone.  The world can be full of millions of distractions, but from across a crowded room, I can hear you when you use that voice.  My ears know it and love it.”

Geoff paused.  A look of consideration was evident as he asked, “What’s the other phrase?”

“’I’m not going anywhere.’  It’s not quite as powerful as the shorter phrase.  You don’t say, ‘I’m not going anywhere’ nearly as much.  They’re both pretty great though.”

“Well, I stole ‘It’s okay’ from Commissioner Gordon in Batman Begins.  So there’s that.”

“I know”, Laura said as she interlaced her fingers in Geoff’s.  “I like the way you say it, though.”

“Well thank you, but I’m still upset.  I mean, you don’t know what it’s like.  Have you ever run on water?  It’s incredible.  You’re traveling at this speed, the wind blowing against you as you go faster and faster.  Then you notice that you’re a reflection.  You look down as you soar over this large lake.  It’s you, your mirror image just underneath you, and nothing else but blue sky and blue water.  You aren’t just walking on water, you’re running on it.  The water isn’t a barrier, it’s a route.  No one else can travel like that.  No one knows how it feels.  Part of you is showing off for yourself, but another part of it feels so natural.  It all clicks.”

“Geoff?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s okay.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.  It’s okay.”

Geoff smiled.  “You’re not sick of me?  You’re okay that I’m around the house more than two hours a day?”

“I mean, don’t get me wrong”, Laura joked.  “It’s been an odd experience.  I think I’m getting used to it though.”

“You sure about that?  I mean, I could become a workaholic.  Maybe I should hang around the lab fourteen hours a day.”

“Nah”, she replied.  “I like you just the way you are.”

“It’s okay?”

Laura smiled back and ruffled his hair.  “It’s okay.”

Therapy Time at the Tall Tales Tavern

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Therapy Time at the Tall Tales Tavern

(Not so very long ago, I wrote about the Tall Tales Tavern.  I’m kinda taken with it so we’re returning there.  You shouldn’t have to read the first one to follow along, but it is linked just in case.)

Every tale is not to be believed.” –Aesop

“All right everyone, if you’ll all settle down.”  The old man ran his fingers through his thick white beard and stomped his walking stick on the hard wood floor.  “Okay, I think we’re all here.  Welcome old friends and new to Therapy Time.  As always, I’d like to thank the operator of The Briar Patch for letting us meet here in his fine establishment.”  The man raised his arm in appreciation and the rabbit bartender nodded in return.

Pic from Wikipedia.

“For those of you who are first timers, I bid you welcome.  My name is Aesop and I’m here just to facilitate the conversation.  Why don’t we go around the room and introduce ourselves?  After all, ‘No one can be a friend if you know not whether to trust or distrust him’.”

“Oh great, he’s quoting himself again”, an overweight pig muttered from the table across from Aesop.

“Now pig, why don’t you wait your turn?  After all, ‘One cannot be first in everything’.  ”Chicken Little, why don’t you start?”

“All right.  Well, like the man said, I’m Chicken Little, and I’m here because I’m a coward.”

“Hi Chicken Little”, the voices from the table all said in monotone.  Many of the creatures seated reached for a drink from their cups and slurped noisily.

“Well”, the small bird began as he shook nervously and a clump of feathers fell to the floor.  “It all started back when I thought the sky was falling.  The whole thing just sent me into a series of worries.  I mean, no the sky didn’t fall.  But now there are so many other things to be afraid of.  I mean, bird flu for example.  I’m a bird.  What if I get the flu?  Logic dictates that I’m the first to go, right?  So I’ve been bathing four times a day and washing my wings with sanitizer.  That’s why I wouldn’t shake any of your hands or paws.  Plus, there’s a wolf here.  What if he gets hungry?  I can’t fly very fast, so he’d probably come after me first.”

“You make an excellent argument”, the wolf said as he grinned.  He made a point of showing all of his sharp teeth.  They all looked ready to tear the chicken asunder.

“See!  This is what I mean!  There’s danger everywhere!  I can’t sit on the comfiest stool because it might tip over and send me falling to the floor where I might break my leg.  I can’t sit by the window or underneath that swinging light because there could be an earthquake at any moment.  We don’t know!  Danger is all around us!”

Chicken Little continued to cower.  He had worked himself up into a frenzied state and Aesop quickly moved on.

“Thank you for sharing, Chicken.  I know that wasn’t easy.  Keep in mind that there’s always hope.  ‘Time and place often give the advantage to the weak over the strong’.  Next?”

“My name’s The Youngest Billy Goat Gruff and I’m here because I use others as a shield.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true.”

“Hi Youngest Billy Goat”, the collective responded.

Pic from Wikipedia.

“You can just call me Youngest.  It’s cool.  Mom never really believed in short names.  Anyhoo, I use others to get me out of trouble.  When this troll guy wanted to eat me, I didn’t stand up to him.  I didn’t even have the guts to tell him off.  I sent my older brother after him.  It’s a cycle that most of my family goes through.  Even the Second Billy Goat Gruff does it.  Really, only Oldest has been brave enough to stand up for himself.  I mean, Second and I pretend that it’s all part of a big plan.  Y’know, we say that we’re getting into trouble so that oldest can feel all heroic.  But really, we’re just cowards.  I’m ashamed of what I’ve become.  No wonder there’s no Mrs. Youngest Billy Goat Gruff.  Who could ever love an animal that can’t stand up for himself and walk with his goatee held high?”

“Now Youngest, ‘Some men underrate their best blessings’.  There’s more to you than you think.”

“Some men?  I’m a goat.”

“Who’s next?”  Aesop did his best to gloss over the questioning tone that was always present with Youngest.  “Come on now, let’s all have a sip and take the nerves off.  It is often necessary to ‘Stoop to conquer’.  Anyone?”

“Yeah, well I got brothers too and I work together with them.  I wouldn’t put ‘em in danger like some sad sacks of fleece.”

“I’m a goat, not a sheep.”

“Whatever ewe say, Sheepy.  My name’s The Second Little Pig, but my friends call me Sticks.”

“Hi Sticks”, the crowd responded.

“Not you!”  The pig slammed his hoof on the table and yelled at the woof.  “I said my friends.  You aren’t any friend of mine, wolf.”

“Oh c’mon, you’re so tasty.  You’re looking good and plump today.  I could just eat you up.”

“That’ll be enough of that, wolf.  Remember, “Those who cause evil are the first to be overwhelmed by its ruin’.”

“Please, I would overwhelm you in three bites.  Four, if I have to use utensils.”

“Oh, shut up you big hairy monster.  It’s supposed to be my turn.  Anyways, people get mad because I’m bitter. And y’know what?  I am.  Pigs are clever, look it up.  Houses are still made of wood every day.  There are other countries that use bamboo for scaffolding.  Why wouldn’t I make a home for myself out of twigs and branches?  It’s better than that flimsy straw hut my brother built.”

“But it wasn’t enough to keep me out, was it?”  The wolf jeered at the pig.  He laughed so hard that beer came out of his nostrils.  The pig slammed his drink on the table in anger.

“This is what I’m talking about!  This; right here.  I made a perfectly sound structure, and this creature thinks it’s funny to tear it all down with a few huffs and puffs.  Do you know how hard it is to construct with cloven hooves?  How tasking it is to hold a hammer and bundle up a stack of lumber?  It’s almost impossible!  And yet, he laughs at me.  I’m especially bitter that this jerk is even allowed here tonight.  What moron invited this guy?”

“I did”, the swan said.  “I’m trying to be nice to others.”

“Oh please”, Sticks snorted.  “Why would you be that naïve?  C’mon, if there’s anybody a wolf is going to eat before a pig, it’s gonna be you.  Fresh fowl?  That wolf is gonna gobble you up as an appetizer.”

“Hey guys”, Chicken Little peeped.  “Could we keep it down a little bit?  I’m afraid of confrontations.”

“Oh hush.  You’ve had your turn, we’re done listening to your silly little problems”, the swan said dismissively.  “I’m here because I’ve been told that I’m too vain.  Oh, I suppose I should introduce myself properly.  I’m Reginald the Majestic, Regal, and Grandiose Swan.  You may address me as Reginald, if that is acceptable.”

“Hey Reg”, the creatures responded.

“Actually, and I don’t mean to be a bother, but I really do prefer Reginald.  It has more of the air of perfection which I feel I’ve attained.”

“No three guesses as to why this joker is here”, the wolf snickered.  “I shoulda eaten ‘em.”

Public Domain in United States due to age.

“I’m not entirely sure what thoughts the gentle-wolf is trying to convey, but others around me have begun to insinuate that I may not have the humblest of personalities.  Honestly, I just don’t think that they understand.  I started off so humbly.  I was the ugliest of all the feathered fowl in my family growing up.  But, when I finally hit puberty?  I found out that I had been adopted.  I took a good look at myself and suddenly it all made sense.  My early years of being insecure were washed away, and instead I learned to fully embrace this gorgeous creature that you see before you now.”

“Be slow in your own praise, Reginald.  ‘False confidence often leads to danger’.  Also, ‘Beauty is only skin deep’.”

“But Aesop, is it really false confidence if I light up any room that I come into?  Clearly you must admit that this dingy dump is only improved by my being here.”

The rabbit bartender’s ear twitched with annoyance.  He quickly grabbed the swan’s tab and added a few miscellaneous charges to the bird’s bill.  How much can charge for napkins and table service, the schemer thought as his revenge came across in exorbitant fees.

“My stomach will be much improved by you if ya don’t shut up”, the wolf growled.

“All right wolf, just relax”, Aesop said with a strained amount of patience.  ‘Do nothing without a regard to the consequences.’  Now what’s your story?”

“I don’t have a story.  I eat when I’m hungry.  Some say that it’ll get me in trouble.  Me, I don’t really believe it.  I just see all you silly critters running around like a to-go menu.  Swanny here figured I might not eat him if I just got to know him better.  Right now, if I weren’t so full of beer, I’d eat ya all up.”

“I told you!”  Sticks looked to the others at the table.  “I told you he doesn’t belong here.”

“Yeah, whatever”, the wolf replied.  “But speaking of ‘here’, that reminds me.  Hey bartender!”

The rabbit looked up from his glass cleaning with an innocent look on his face.  An angelic expression of innocence was on his furry face.  He pointed at his vest and bowtie-clad self as if to say, “Me?”

“Yeah, you.  I wanted real beer, not this cheap stuff.  If I ever see you again you better make amends.  Next time I’m served this swill I’m shoving your head into that tar baby.  Oh, and my cousin Br’er Fox says you owe him for what you did to him.  He says you know what that means.”

Br’er Rabbit only blinked a few times and went back to cleaning the glasses.  As the creatures turned back to their therapy session, Br’er Rabbit ducked under the counter, fell on the floor, and rolled over in silent laughter as the memory of his past escapades tickled him with delight.  Meanwhile, the wolf was done being polite.

“By the way Aesop, what’s the idea of getting us all together to talk things out?  I mean, are we supposed to be giving each other advice?  ‘cause I thought you yourself warned to, ‘Beware of the counsel of the unfortunate’.  Didn’t you once say, ‘Every man should be contented to mind his own business.’?”

“Perhaps you should heed this; ‘He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others’.”

“Or you’re just mad that I’m on to you”, the wolf said with a sneer.  “’Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through’ y’know.”

“I try to welcome all, wolf, but it apparently in your case, ‘Evil companions bring more hurt than profit’.”

The wolf laughed at the group, left without paying his tab, and set out for his long walk home.  He had a date tomorrow with a tasty young girl he’d been following.  Maybe she has some relatives I can devour, he thought to himself.  The wolf hoped that there would be much less talking and much more eating in his future.  The wolf walked through the starry night.  He grinned wickedly as he thought about the very full belly he might end up with tomorrow.

“I think this was a very nice session”, Aesop said as he tried to end on a positive note.  “Things didn’t go as planned, but I feel like we really explored some deep emotions here.  I want to thank you all for your bravery in participating today.  Now, before we go, what’s our number one moral to remember?”

“Contentment with our lot is an element of happiness”, chanted the group in an unenthusiastic grumble.

“Very good.  And number two?”

“Be sure that there are others worse off than yourself.”

“Excellent.  Let’s go out there and be on the lookout for those poor souls, shall we?  After all, ‘Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail’.  Be careful walking home!”

———————————-

(Many, many thanks to Google, Wikipedia, and especially Together We Teach for the Aesop assistance.)

The Speech Will Be Televised

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Speech Will Be Televised

“I often have long conversations all by myself, and I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word that I am saying.” –Oscar Wilde

Percival fiddled with the pesky clump of hair at the back of his head that refused to cooperate.  Most of his black hair lay flat and dormant, but this patch had a rebellious nature that would not be tamed.  No matter how much he wetted it or tried to comb more dormant hair over it, the little flag of insubordination waved boldly. Taking stock of his appearance in the mirror, Percival silently prayed that the people would not notice the tuft.  He had a hard enough time commanding respect as it was.

The task that awaited Percival was not a glamorous one.  There were some in the audience that would outright mock him.  Percival refused to take his role lightly.  He felt that he provided a service to those in attendance.  He believed that his speech should be as professional as possible and that people should know what was expected of them.  To him, theater etiquette was incredibly important.

Percival felt the heft of the flashlight weighing heavily yet comfortably in his right hand.  He had often considered letting his left hand carry the burden of illumination.  His dominant limb would then be free to deflect the napkins and pieces of popcorn that frequently made their way towards his face.   However, he felt it was vital to always have the flashlight at ready.  He was more adept with his right hand and therefore he could shine the light on any troublemakers that much faster.  He clicked the button quickly as his thumb merrily bounced along.  He repeated the action.  The lamp lit up, then doused itself again and again.  The obvious attempts by others to sabotage his weapon of enforcement had been thwarted.

Now was the time for action.  Percival tucked in his polo shirt, adjusted the collar, and gripped his flashlight that much tighter.  He took a deep breath, opened the door with his left hand, and stepped into the next room.  The crowd was small, but Percival was used to the low attendance.  No matter how few the numbers, there were always a few hecklers in the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen”, he began as he placed himself between the seats and the screen.  He clicked on his flashlight and shone it in the faces of the audience.

“Aack”, protested a voice.  “I thought you took care of the flashlight.”

“I did”, a woman responded.  “He must have found the batteries.  And the light bulb; it’s actually rather impressive.”

“Why?  Why do we go through this every frickin’ time”, the first audience member asked.

“Stella, don’t talk that way to your father”, her mother replied.  “Honey, she does have a point.  Don’t you think you take this a little too far?”

“No”, Percival responded.  He turned off the flashlight and continued in his informational lecture.  “We’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to attend tonight, but there are a few housekeeping notes we would like to address before we begin the presentation.”

“Ugghhh”, Stella moaned as she made a show of throwing her head and shoulders onto the empty pillow beside her.  “Every.  Lousy.  Time.”

“Honey, it is a little late”, Dawn offered.  “Maybe we could skip it this one time?”

“First and foremost, we would ask that all cellular devices, cameras, and gaming machines be silenced at this time.”

“No.   No no no.  Hank McNigh is supposed to call me.  We’re going out to the Howlaween Dance, Daddy.  All my friends are totally jealous.  He’s on the tennis team, just like you were!”

Stella’s pleas fell on unrelenting ears.  “I was on the lacrosse team”, Percival replied.

“Oh.  Well, still.  I mean, it’s important.  What’s he going to do when he calls me up to ask me out and I don’t answer?”

“One would hope that the young individual understands the complicated procedures involved in leaving a voicemail.  Besides, if he likes you that much, I think that he should ask you out in person.  Not over the phone like some cowardly lout.”

“Mommmmmm.”

“Percy, be nice.  The boy could be terribly pleasant but he’s just shy.  You’ve raised a very strong-willed daughter.”

“Regardless, I’m still going to have to ask for all electronics to be turned off before we begin our feature.”

“Mom?”

Dawn looked at her daughter’s pleading face.  She looked to her husband and gauged the amount of patience he had left after his day of work.  Then she returned her attention back to Stella and wore a look of resignation.  “I don’t think you’re going to win this one, kiddo.”

“Finnnnnne”, Stella said as she pulled her phone from her pocket and pushed the big circular button.  A happy little tune sang goodbye to its owner and went to sleep.

“Thank you”, Percival said with a nod.  “We would also like to remind those in attendance that this evening’s movie will not be available in 3D.  We are aware that the movie has been advertised as such, but seeing as how no 3D glasses were handed out to any patrons tonight and our theater has never been equipped with 3D technologies, we felt it necessary to remind our visitors of the fact at this time.

“Once”, Dawn said as she mockingly threw her hands in the air.  “I asked if we were seeing a 3D movie once.  Not since then.  You know, like how a certain someone once forgot to put on the emergency brake at the lake and our car drifted into the water?  Then we stood around for five hours while the tow truck pulled it out and tried to dry off the inner workings?  I don’t bring that up every time you reach for the car keys, do I?”

“I wonder what Hank’s parents are like”, Stella said to no one in particular.  “I bet he doesn’t have forced family nights like these.”

“Finally, we must strongly discourage any talking during the movie.  There are no intermissions, so we ask that all questions be held until the film has concluded.  We understand that sometimes there are confusing moments.  However we offer that those answers might come later and folks should simply wait until the movie is over.  Talking over the movie and disturbing those around you is hardly productive.”

“Does this mean we’re watching a documentary?  Hank’s going to think I’m rejecting him because I’m watching another global warming preach-fest?  We get it.  It’s hot outside.  Use less gas.”

“Finally, we would like to remind the younger members of our audience that sometimes older patrons become amorous during a presentation.  Any kissing or groping is entirely appropriate and is to be expected by those around them.”

“Percy, I wish you’d stop saying that.  You’re going to give certain people ideas that I’d rather she didn’t dwell on.”

“Dawn, she has her tongue pierced.  I’m guessing she’s already tried it out on a boy or two.”

“Percy!”

“Nah, Mom.  He’s right.  I’ve got my kissing technique all down.  It’s cool.”

“I can’t believe this”, the mother replied.  “How long have you been making out with boys?”

“I’m not telling you that, it’s personal!”

“So if you’re out kissing boys, then why is it so bad when your father and I kiss on the couch?”

“I don’t know; because you’re old.”

“How heartwarming to hear what my daughter thinks of me”, Percival commented.  “Now we begin our movie for the night, ‘Grumpy Old Men.’  Thank you for coming.”

“Oh fun”, Stella replied sarcastically.  “An old people movie.  If they start talking about, ‘The Last Great Generation’ again, I’m outta here.”

Percival placed his flashlight on the table behind the couch.  He walked up to cushion in the middle of the couch and sat down.  Dawn, seated on his left, handed him the bowl of popcorn.  Mumbling some phrase about wanting to be closer to the food, Stella scooted sideways and put her head on her dad’s shoulder.  The business of the day to day would come for them soon enough.  For now, they were happy to share in the humble activity.

Noah the No-Good

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Noah the No-Good

You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don’t have time to think about how many’s with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that’s about to set down on him.” –True Grit

Noah the No-Good was the cruelest outlaw to ever roam the country.  People from all across the prairie would cower at the mere mention of his name.  It was said that the troublemaking hombre once let an entire herd of cattle out of their field just so that he could watch them trip over each other and fall flat on their brown chins.  Noah the No-Good had that sick kind of humor.

This time, the desperado had picked a fight with the wrong lawman.  Marshall Henry Stronglad was tired of No-Good’s shenanigans.  The man with the silver-star pinned to his vest pulled his hat brim closer to his brows.  His gray eyes glared across the dusty town.  Noah the No-Good was without his posse.  He had never needed a group of nefarious tagalongs before now.  No-Good had just thought that they would get in the way.  Now, he realized some other fellas could have distracted the Marshall and his six deputies.  However, as with many realizations, it came too late.

Noah the No-Good felt the Swingin’ Saloon behind him and yearned for a happier ending.  He imagined all the wild times he had gone in there and downed a cool drink; usually milk.  The bandit thought of all the games he wouldn’t be able to play around a table lit only by squeaking lanterns.  No-Good wanted to hear his spurs clink on the wood as he stomped his feet and flakes of mud fell off when other men accused him of cheating.  It didn’t matter to No-Good that he was a cheat.  Truth be told, the fugitive cheated more times than he played fair.  His mama had always told him that it would get him in trouble.

The crook thought back to his mother.  She wasn’t any kind of perfect, but she was a right better companion than most cowboys that Noah the No-Good had ridden with in the past.  The only real complaint the young rogue had with the woman was her strict ways.  She was always telling him that he shouldn’t go out riding too long.  He was warned to watch his manners when in the presence of ladies.  And for some strange reason, she kept hounding the lad about how much candy he ate.

Noah hadn’t been able to stomach such fierce adherence to morality.  He was made to live by his rules, not others’.  He dismissed the Stenger surname and replaced it with No-Good.  With a pack on his back and his best horse, the maverick had sauntered away to find his own path.  Noah the No-Good didn’t cotton to any fancy book-learnin’.  He wasn’t about to take off his cowboy hat just because some smelly girl walked by him.  Noah was trouble and he didn’t need to wash up for supper.  Noah was a maverick.  Noah was too much to be controlled by anybody, even his mother.

Apparently Marshall Stronglad was in agreement with No-Good’s opinion.  From the moment that No-Good had come into town and started leaving flaming bags of cattle poo on establishments’ entry way, Stronglad had been No-Good’s fierce enemy.  “I’ll not have you causin’ a ruckus amongst the good folk here”, Stronglad had declared.  The man with the badge and the lad with a temper had stared each other down many times on the street.  Normally, No-Good would have skipped town after a week or two.  No single place could contain this legend on his way to becoming a mythical renegade.  But Stronglad’s threats had only tempted No-Good to stick around longer.  Noah the No-Good was going to show Marshall Stronglad who really ran this town.

The stick of dynamite on Marshall Stronglad’s saddle hadn’t scared the man off.  The nasty note calling Stronglad a “mean ol’ cuss who’s so stupid that he doesn’t know how stupid of a stupidhead he really is” failed to yield results.  And finally, in some strange twist of fates Marshall Stronglad and Noah No-Good had found themselves sitting across the other at a poker table.

As soon as the lawman had sat down in that chair, everyone else at the table had scattered.  They knew some harsh words were bound to be had between the bitter fellas.  Stronglad kept muttering that No-Good was rude and selfish, while the outlaw kept trying to kick Stronglad from underneath table, only to find that his legs were too short.

Then the trouble had really happened.  The Marshall played a full house.  He had two queens and three sevens.  No-Good had played a straight flush.  The only problem was that both hands had the queen of hearts.

Chairs flew back as both men jumped up and starting yelling at the other.  One called the other a cheater.  The other responded by doing the same.  Snarls were uttered.  Growls were heard.  Sides were soon chosen.  The town-folk, the deputies, and the keepers of the Swingin’ Saloon all joined their resident representative of order and justice.  Noah the No-Good stood alone.  He tugged at the red bandana around his neck and felt the room growing fierce.   Marshall Stronglad pushed No-Good outside and shouted that his reign of cruelty ended now.

Marshall Stronglad snatched a rope from a nearby wooden fence post.  He started twirling it expertly in the air.  His deputies pulled out their pistols.  A vengeful look took over the lawman’s face.  “You better run, boy”.

Noah the No-Good did exactly that.  He tore off as fast as he could.  He ran with his gun-belt slapping his leg with every stride that he took.  He reached up to his hat and pulled it down onto his head, determined not to lose his favorite accessory after his reputation had betrayed him.  He ran as quickly as he could, but it wasn’t fast enough.  Noah felt something wrap around his torso.  The more he pulled, the tighter the restraining force dug in.  He felt his legacy of terror slowly coming to an end.  A strange voice lectured him.  “You should have listened to your mom.”  Noah knew the end was here.  He could feel the scene growing darker as the pulling force continued to subdue him.

With that, Noah woke up.  From his cowboy nightlight, he could just barely make out his bedroom.  The rope that had been pulling on him was actually his sheets.  In his dreaming, he had twisted and turned so much that his own bed had turned against him.  He looked to his toy horse in the corner and wondered why it hadn’t helped him out in his dream.  Some noble steed you are, Noah thought to himself.

Maybe his mom had been right.  Maybe eating all that candy before bed had been a bad idea.  Noah began to consider the idea.  What if he had been wrong all this time?  What if his parents really did want the best for him?

Nah.  Noah laughed at the silly idea and settled back into bed.  Soon enough, he was back asleep.  Only a tiny glimmer of the idea remained that his parents might know a thing or two that he didn’t.

Creaky Chairs and Those that Love Them (Daily Post Challenge)

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Creaky Chairs and Those that Love Them (Daily Post Challenge)

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” -Epictetus

Asking a person about their favorite possession can be tricky.  My first notion was to answer, “My cat”.  However, there are some, including my cat, who would state that a cat is a roommate, not a possession.  I don’t own her, especially since she was free.  (Mylar would also state that she is no one’s “thing”.  She is her own creature with plenty of attitude to show off.)  So I must share an anecdote about my favorite possession, one which Mylar happens to approve of.

Not my chair, but you get the idea.
From Wikipedia.

I once made a point of mentioning that I wanted my Dad’s rocking chair.  There are plenty of grand things in my parent’s house, but all I really cared about were the grandfather clock and rocking chair.  I like wood furniture.  Give me a bookshelf that I can hammer back together over a rusting metal rack any day.  However, waiting for my father to pass on is both morbid and requires more patience than I have in me.  So I went out and got my own dang rocking chair.

There is a furniture shop a few miles from where I live and they specialize in wood furniture.  That fact alone makes it my kind of place.  I stepped into the glass door and right near the front entry was a nice collection of rocking chairs all lined up like The Rockettes.  I was a happy camper.

Now, even as a young college student, I knew enough to respect the classic rocking chair.  I have no use for gliding chairs.  Chairs should sway back and forth soothingly on two long and curved slats of wood.  A rocking chair should not pivot to and fro on a parallelogram assembly.  Two horizontal pieces and two vertical pieces attached by metal screws constantly creating and changing angles as the wood yields weekly?  No.  That is not a rocking chair.  That is some cute little chair for tea parties.  I need solid wood construction.  I don’t want some pithy little twigs that are going to snap if they get bumped the wrong way and throw off the entire functionality of the chair.  Give me a classic rocking chair or nothing at all.

I’m a writer, not artist. Clearly.

I admit that I may be biased.  I was raised with a rocking horse that was really just one big runner with a flat seat and the wooden head of a horse attached.  In some morbidly macabre act of practicality, the handle for children to hold on to was not a piece of rope, but a pole crammed straight through the horse’s head.  “Hey kids, let’s all take a ride with Phineas Gage!”  Regardless, the seated see-sawing motion on this generations-old toy got me hooked on rocking chairs from an early age.

The salesman at the store was quite helpful.  I’m not sure what he thought of a guy in his early twenties buying a rocking chair, but he helped me find a simple one that I could afford and even carried it out to the car with me.  That’s when his skepticism began.

“How were you planning to get this home?”

“Oh, I’ll just put it in the back seat.”  I hadn’t actually thought the whole process through.  I somehow assumed that a four-foot tall piece of furniture with ski-like runners and no disassembly allowed would magically fit into my compact Dodge Neon’s rear area.  I knew it wouldn’t fit in the trunk, so it had to situate itself in the back.  What could possibly go wrong?

“I don’t know about this”, the man said as he turned it on its face and pushed.

I locked the front car seats as far forward as they would go.  The actual seat and back had plenty of room around it, but those runners that I cherished were troublesome.  Somehow, someway, the chair was the exact length of the back of my car, and the runners just barely fit inside the frame.  Okay, so the car window was pushed out a little bit.  It didn’t break, so I was content.

“That is the first time I have ever seen a chair like this fit in anything but a truck.”  I’m always glad to happily surprise seasoned salesmen.

That chair and I have bonded.  There is a blue scrape on its armrest from when I moved from one apartment to the next and my dresser got a little too frisky with its advances in the back of the truck.  I could try to scrape off the paint or cover up the abrasion, but why not let the chair have its war wound?  My cat has tried to show her affection for the piece of furniture by sharpening her claws on the lower pieces.  Happily, the finish is so slippery that she can’t get a good grip.  Her paws, much to her annoyance and my delight, just slide right off without leaving a mark.

I make it up to her though.  Whenever I am having my quiet time in the rocking chair, Mylar gets to hop up on my lap.  Together we enjoy the guaranteed world of calm.  She gets to have her ears and back scratched.  I get to blissfully rock back and forth.  Sometimes I let my head lean back on the highest point of the frame that is in the perfect position to rest comfortably on.  Other times I sit up straight and put my free arm on the armrest that rises up to meet my sleepy arm at exactly the right height.

If it’s good enough for Twain, it’s good enough for me. (Photo source: here)

No matter how I sit in it, my rocking chair gives off the proper amount of “creak”.  Everyone has heard the sound that should emanate from a well-made rocker.  It should softly and reassuringly greet the user with a “creak-crauk”.  One backward movement provides the “creak”, and forward movement creates the “crauk”.  Like the cousin of a frog, it sings you to a simpler, more peaceful place.  Gliding chairs don’t have that sound, and therefore they are less worthy in my sight.  Then there are the shabby, abused chairs that make nothing but sound.  Every gesture and adjustment in one’s posture creates a symphony of noise.  I can’t handle that.  I may live on the ground floor, but I still have neighbors (and my sanity), to think of.  No, a rocking chair should only make two different sounds; three if you count the sigh of contentment from the user.

Bean bags chairs are great, but hard to get out of.  Recliners, back-massagers; they all have their place.  But for me, when I want to escape the trials and tribulations of the world, nothing is more relaxing than closing my eyes and swooping to and fro in my reliable wooden rocking chair.  That is, except for the one time my cat put her tail under the runner.  (She’s fine; her lesson was learned.  Both possessions have learned to respect the other.)

Relative Discourse

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Relative Discourse

There can be no situation in life in which the conversation of my dear sister will not administer some comfort to me.” -Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

“There you are.”

“Oh c’mon now”, Joy said as she walked up a pathway to the bench.  “One of us has a husband who wants attention, a house that’s a wreck, and two small children.  The other spends most of his nights watching videos and chasing down Cheetos with Mountain Dew.  And yet you asked me to meet you in a park closer to your place than mine.”

“I’ll have you know that I’ve changed”, Jim said.   “I replaced Mountain Dew with Diet Mountain Dew.”

“Well that’s something.  Are you intending to go the Baked Cheetos route as well?”

“Ick.  White Cheetos?  Why would I do that?”

“I didn’t think so”, Joy replied as she sat by her brother.  “But you were insistent that I meet you as soon as possible, so I figured some big life event had taken place.  If you started living off of food that doesn’t have corn syrup as a main ingredient, that would certainly qualify.  You do know what real cooking tastes like, right?  It’s that stuff we eat when you’re over at my place?”

“Do you really think I asked you to come out at nine in the morning, on a Saturday, nonetheless, to get lectured about my diet?  I’m still somewhat thin, aren’t I?”

“Skinny doesn’t always mean healthy”, Joy said as she shook her pointer finger.  She looked at her hand and her eyes widened with horror.  “Oh no…”

“Yep”, Jim said as he diagnosed the gesture.  “Total Mom-move.  Congrats; you’ve turned.”

“You hush”, Joy said as she forced herself to put her hand down.  “Besides, we’re not going to talk about my domestic nightmares coming true.  We’re talking about the fact that you finally kissed her last night.”

“How did you know?”  It was Jim’s turn to have the whites of his eyes grow larger, only his expression came from astonishment at his sister’s apparently clairvoyant ways.

“It’s all over your face”, she calmly replied.

“She left lipstick on my face?”

“Ugh.  No, I was talking about the expression on your face.”

“Oh”

“Does this mean you didn’t wash at all since then?”

“It was only last night.”

“Shower.  Scrub your face.  Brush your teeth”, Joy lectured.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“How are you getting women to kiss you when you’re all grimy?”

“I thought you were trying to avoid sounding like Mom”, Jim retorted.

“That’s not being Mom”, Joy responded.  “That’s just common hygiene.”

“Uh huh.”

“So are we going to talk about this epic kiss or what?”  Despite the seemingly impatient tone in Joy’s voice, she was a woman of immense inner-calm.  Wearing a light fleece jacket, workout pants and tennis shoes, she was ready for whatever the world threw at her.  The busy life that she led meant that her shoulder-length black hair was always pulled back in a ponytail.  Only for formal family functions would she spend the effort to style her hair.  Her coworkers had only ever seen her trademark ponytail, even at fancier functions.  Joy simply didn’t have time. Also, she was genuinely self-confident.  She had a family that loved her, a career that challenged her and a bookshelf full of reading material.  By any standards, this woman in her early-thirties was a formidable, yet surprisingly soothing individual.

“Look, let me just get this out in my own way, would ya?”  If there was anyone who respected Joy, but wasn’t too impressed by her, it was Jim.  He was five years younger than her, which meant that she felt as though she was old enough to tell him what to do when they were children.  Jim was the little brother who was unwittingly talked into attending tea parties and playing with dolls.  Jim was the one who was told that it would be okay for him to sit on the handlebars while Joy bicycled recklessly down the steep hill by their house.  (“He said he wanted to do it”, had been Joy’s response when she had to explain how Jim ended up thrown into a series of blackberry bushes.)

Around the time that Jim was finishing junior high and Joy was starting college, the two started really talking to each other.  Their parents believed that the two just needed a little distance to appreciate what they liked about the other.  Jim started high school and wanted advice from his valedictorian sister and head of the drama department on how to survive the experience.  Joy, stressed by the demanding school load she had created for herself and frustrated by her slob roommates, liked recalling the simpler days of life.  When Joy graduated and moved back to the same area, the two siblings started visiting each other regularly.  If there was dirt to be had, the brother-sister pairing were the first to know.

“Has mom even met this girl yet?”

“Are you kidding me?”  Jim shook his head vehemently.  “Joy, we aren’t even a couple.”

“Wait, you’re not?  You haven’t shut up about this Cheryl person for three months.”

“I was wearing her down.  Don’t worry; your little brother can be a very smooth operator.”

“More like a very slow operator.  So what prompted this whole kissing scene?”

“Well, we had the talk in my car last night”, Jim explained.

“Wait, the talk?  As in the talk?  You’re sleeping with her?”

“No!  Good grief, how am I going to sleep with her if we just kissed?”

“Well, you said it was the talk.”

“I meant the ‘define the relationship’-talk.  Not the sex-talk!”

“Oh, well then you call your talks different things.  Just, y’know, take it slow.  Respect her needs too.”

“I know, Joy.”

“No really, pay attention to her.  You aren’t the only once dancing the horizontal polka.”

“Joy!”

“And please, for all of our sake, wear some protection.”

“Joy!  Stop!”

“I know you want to make Dad a grandfather again, but he’s in no big hurry.”

“I’m going to smother you in your sleep.  Charlie will understand when I explain how his wife tortured me.”

“And when you get up afterwards to get some food from the kitchen?  Make sure you offer to get her something.”

“Oh.  Dear.  Word.”

“Hey, somebody’s gotta stand up for this new girl in your life.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for my sister’s sick sense of humor.  She can’t be stopped.”  Jim stopped addressing the imaginary audience and turned his attention to Joy.  “Do you want me to tell Mom the truth about the car crash of prom?”

“You’re just jealous.  That raccoon story was genius and you know it.”

“So that’s it?”  Jim proceeded with caution.  “We’re done talking about my non-existent sex life?”

“That’s what you get for giving Charlie the talk”, Joy replied.

“The talk?  Ew, I would never have a sex talk with Charlie.  That’s gross!”

“Oh good grief.  Not that talk; you really gotta figure out these conversations.  Remember, when you threatened to have all your hockey friends meet him in a dark alley if he hurt me?”

“I also recall telling him that that conversation was just between the two of us.  I was hoping that he understood that it was an accord between gentlemen.”

“Uh huh.  Well the way he tells it you were wearing a Goofy t-shirt when you pulled him aside to chat with him.”

“Don’t knock the shirt.  That shirt is awesome.”

“Is that what Sharon thinks?”

“Sharon happens to like Disney movies quite a bit, yes.”

“But not in the creepy way?”  Joy leaned in close and poked Jim in the shoulder.

“How so?”  Jim couldn’t tell if his sister was teasing or not.  Either way, she had succeeded in making him curious.

Photo from Wikipedia

“Oh, there are two kinds of Disney fans.  There are the ones who like the movies as well-told stories and a cherished part of their childhood.  And then there are those that have Minnie Mouse wallpaper and keep four stuffed animal characters on their beds and wear the same Disney costumes to every Halloween party.”

“She’s not like that.”

“I should hope note.  Every party, Jim; it’s not pretty.”

“No, Sharon’s not that crazy.  I get enough of that from you.”

“And I got chickenpox from you.”

“I still maintain you gave it to me before I gave it to you.”

“That doesn’t even make sense.”

“That’s how devious you are.  I’ve seen your paystubs; I know how devious you’re paid to be.”

“Sharon.  You.  Kissing.  Talk.”  Even Joy’s patience had its limits.

“What, you want the details?”

“Do you know how long it’s been since Charlie and I made out in a car?”

“No, and I don’t really want to…”

“Three years.  Three.  We dropped off Nick after our first night alone since he was born and we spent two hours of the night just making out in the car.  Those kids’ll suck the life out of ya.  Just you wait and see.”

“…hear about it.”  Jim shook his head at his sister.  “Why are we having this conversation?”

“Because I’m still cooler than Mom.  And Dad’s head would explode.”

“Oh man, it so would.”

“Sharon.  Kissing.  No stalling.”

“Well, one of my friends gave me tickets to see a play.”

“What kind?”

“Shakespeare.”

“Unnh.  Tragedy?”

“Comedy.”

“Better.  And did you tell her they were free?”

“No.”

“Perfect.  Dinner?”

“Uh, that Italian restaurant on fourth?”

“The one by the gas station?”

“I think so?  It’s new.”

“Jim, that opened like four years ago.”
“Well I hadn’t been before.  It was her choice.”

“Good.  And you paid?”  Joy was using her voice that meant there really was one correct answer.

“Uh huh, but we agreed she’d cover the tip.”

“Very good.  You’ve learned.”

“A glass of wine in the face has that effect on a guy.”

“Dating a wacko like Susan will have that effect too.”

“True, but she was fun”, Jim replied.

“There’s ‘fun’, and then there’s ‘spend a night incarcerated while the cops at the border search your vehicle for drugs’.  Not a phone call I want repeated.”

“Well Sharon isn’t like that.”

“Points to her”, Joy said.  “And what’d you wear?”

“Polo shirt.”

“Hrrm.  Blue one or black one?”

“Black one with jacket.”

“Oooh, much better.  You are learning.  And did you get her flowers?  Was this a ‘date’-date?”

“Flowers, but not large, intimidating ones.  Simple daisies.”

“Very good.  And she liked the play?”

“I think so.  We kinda started to fall asleep towards the end.  It was two and a half hours with no intermission.”

“Ah, yeah that would do it.”

“So we started using each other to keep awake.”

“Oh really?”  A mischievous smile took over Joy’s face.  “How so, Mr. Cool?”

“We only had the one armrest, which I let her have for the first two hours.  But then I snuck my hand on top of hers.  Y’know, let my fingers rest in between hers?  A little light sliding of my finger along hers.  And then I did a subtle scooting in my seat towards hers”

“And did she take the bait?”

“Her head was soon on my shoulder.”

“Jim!  Look at you, my little brother does have some moves.”

“I’ve been telling you that for years.”

“Yes, you’ve been wrong many of those times.  Now you’re starting to figure it all out.”

“So then we went back to my car after the show.”

“Did you open the car door for her?”

“Naturally.  I also let her borrow my jacket when we walked out of the theatre in case she was cold.”

“I was going to say…”

“Yes, yes.  ‘Take the jacket off or she’ll call the date off.’  I remember.”

“So you’re sitting in the car together.  Front seat or back?”

“Front. Why would we be in the back?”  Jim saw the shrug of his sister’s shoulders and suddenly understood.  “What is wrong with you?”

“Hey, I’ve had some fun in back seats over the years.”

“Joy!”

“Oh, relax.  It was all perfectly PG-13.  No R-rated.”  Joy paused.  “Actually, I take that back.  Steven was probably getting close into R-terrain.”

“Joy!  C’mon!”

“What, he was very affectionate and he played football.  Nothing like ‘that’ happened.”

“You had much more fun in high school than I did.”

“How else would I be able to dole out this much wisdom in your time of need?”

“Right.  Anyways, Sharon and I just sat there, looking at each other.”  Jim was much more comfortable talking about his own escapades than reliving his sister’s.

“And?  Lemme guess, you ran your fingers through her hair and then put your palm on her cheek?”

Jim was stunned.  “How did you know?”

“Guys always do that, especially when women have their hair down.  It’s like guys think they just have to touch it.  It’s only hair!  But the hand on the cheek is always nice.”

“Well I leaned in…”

“And she leaned in?”

“Yep.  I told her that I really liked being around her.”

“You talked before you kissed her?”

“Yeah, I wanted to tell her how I felt.”

“Jim, that’s very sweet.  But just shut and kiss the poor girl for goodness sakes.  She’ll get the idea.”

“I like talking.”

“Yeah, but don’t you like kissing?”

“Sure.”

“Trust me on this.  Kiss first, talk later.  Then kiss again.”  Joy paused and then punched her brother lovingly in the shoulder.  “How was it?”

“The kiss?”

“No, the pasta sauce.”

“Very nice.  Soft, moist; simple.  Not a make out-kiss, just a tender coming together.”

“Man, Mom and her movies from the forties really softened you up.”

“At least I don’t watch The Notebook.”

“Well then you’ll never understand how great it is”, she said as she stuck out her tongue.  “Seriously though; do you like this girl?  Sorry; woman.  I still don’t think you should be old enough to be dating women.  Stupid aging.”

“Yeah.  Yeah I really do.”

Public domain due to age.

“And she likes you back?”

“Well we’ve already texted about four times since then.”

“A nice sign.  So you’re happy?”

“I am.  I really am.”

“Then that’s all I need to know.”  Joy hugged her brother and then sat back against the park bench.

She watched two little ducks interacting at the edge of the grass.  One clearly thought it was in charge of the other and nudged it along with the top of its bill.  The smaller duck quacked in protest, and the two waddled side by side back into the lake.  With two little splashes, the small ducks pedaled through the water in search of adventures they could share.

Treasuring one’s Surroundings

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Treasuring one’s Surroundings

The Greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but found by the heart.” -unknown

One fine day, as I was walking down a quiet street,
There was a curious man that I happened to meet.
He stood dressed quite well in a nice suit, sharp cane, and hat,
And I decided to engage him in a brief chat.

The finely dressed fellow was busy digging around
Like a canine who’s buried their bone deep in the ground.
He certainly could afford to buy fine attire
So I had to stare at his strange collection of wire.

That was not all that the man had gathered about him
He seemed to choose and collect things based purely on whim.
At his feet lay slats of wood and shards of broken glass
Along with an old hokey-novelty singing bass.

I went up and tapped the fellow lightly on his back
As he pulled a red yo-yo out of the garbage sack.
He tipped his hat, and greeted me with, “How do you do?”
Then he knelt down and placed the old toy by his right shoe.

I queried him about his somewhat odd endeavor,
The man then laughed at me for what seemed like forever.
“Oh, this hobby of mine gives me tremendous pleasure,
I’m simply adding to my vast pile of treasure.”

When I asked him why he didn’t buy things that were new
He looked at me like I had scales and my skin was blue.
“Why would I go out, waste money, and purchase new things,
When these items right here are more than worthy of kings?

“Why I could make myself a fun little mirrorball
Or a fine piece of art fit to hang up in the hall.
These toys just need a new coat of paint or a fresh string
And maybe we’ll find that fish is still ready to sing.”

I looked at the fellow there and felt somewhat wary.
It seemed this intense topic could get rather scary.
Yet I remained intrigued by his interesting quirk,
So I let him describe the joys of his wacky work.

“I take things that others have callously tossed away
For they believe these items are all out of play.
I say that there’s still life in all of these well-made parts
Even if they’ve got themselves some broken plastic hearts.

“And isn’t that true of all people in the world too?
I can see that you know what I mean, you truly do!
Folks that are called ‘ruined’ or ‘a little banged up’
Are the folks that I talk to over a coffee cup.

Photo from publicphoto.org

“The people that have had to come out of their dark shell,
They’re the ones who really have a great story to tell.
If a person doesn’t look too refined or pretty,
I just assume they’ve spent all their time being witty.”

The man tipped his hat, grinned, returned to his hunting,
And he pulled out a ball that was ready for bunting.
He gathered his things, waved, and walked off with a smile
And I still think about that man once in a while.

A Single Gesture

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

A Single Gesture

The Impartial Friend: Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all–the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.” -Mark Twain

Early in the morning, as the moon floated overhead and had its personal space intruded upon by loose clusters of wispy clouds, Scott saw his bus approach.  Every once in a while, Scott would burst out of his home, scurry to fit his keys to the lock, and then run for the door.  More often than not, this resulted in Scott arriving for the bus five minutes early, so he had recently adopted a different policy.  He would take his time and hope that the bus was not going to be too early.

The usual boarding routine was observed.  Scott stood back and let the somber man enter first.  Always carrying an overstuffed backpack, the somber man also carried a temperament that was determined to overcompensate for the compact man’s lack of height.  Scott had decided long ago that if getting a seat first was that important to the serious commuter, he could go ahead and have first rights.  Scott only wanted a quiet spot with a reasonable amount of elbow room.

Entering the bus, Scott greeted the usual driver with his standard greeting of, “Morning”.  She replied in kind as she reached for the long handle and pulled the double doors of her bus shut.  Scott put his loose and ratty backpack on his lap and did his best to encourage his sleepy frame to sit up straight.  The bench seats were built at a stern angle, but Scott’s back often answered the call of the slouch.  For the first few miles at least, Scott tried to adopt something resembling correct posture.  If nothing else he felt he should be in top form when he passed that one intersection.

Scott wanted to close his eyes and begin his quiet time of thinking things out and mentally preparing his day.  Yet he knew that the park and ride stop was still to come; followed closely by that certain intersection.  Scott’s peace would have been short lived anyway, for the park and ride group were numerous, and therefore a bit disruptive to the environment of stillness that often accompanied the moving vehicle.

Seven people mumbled greetings to the bus driver and swiped their cards or crammed their grimy bills into the pay-box.  The woman once again reached for her hefty door handle.  She gave one last look across the dimly lit parking lot.  She had been on the route for a while and knew what to expect.  Sure enough, as if responding to her greatest fear, a large woman came huffing and bustling towards the vehicle.  Her clothes and her bags leapt and jostled about as she did her best to arrive before the bus’s departure.  She almost fell as she threw herself in the door and tried to climb up the two steps.  The handrails congratulated each other on an excellent job helping out this Jane Doe in her time of need.  The driver greeted the woman with a simple, “Good morning”.  The large woman, still gasping, expressed her thanks for the professional person’s patience.

Watching the woman stomp down the aisle, Scott noted the presence of her items.  Everyone on the bus seemed to have their own way of packing for the day.  Some folks carried two, if not three carriers with them every day.  Scott did his best to keep his load light; sometimes transporting nothing more than what would fit in his pockets.  Middle-aged workers had swapped out simple satchels for backpacks with wheels.  Scott made mental judgments on those items based on his mood.  There were days when he shook his head in sadness, and others where he only wondered what had happened to the world so that backpacks needed to have their own wheels.  And of course, there were the phone addicts.  A large portion of the commuters didn’t put down their phone the entire trip.  Very rarely was there a phone call this early in the morning.  If there was, the rider could be assured that several heads would glare in that person’s direction.  Many times the phones were used to check e-mails or websites before work, but before sunup it tended to be the music-listening option that was most popular.  Scott had never been one for phones.  He figured if he was allowed to let his brain relax while he went to work, he would take the opportunity.  There was enough overstimulation in his life already.  He preferred to relax.  That calm time would have to wait a moment though, for they were passing the intersection.

Scott looked at a certain spot on the road, put his fingers to his forehead, saluted, and then very quietly said, “God speed, darlin’.  God speed.”  The bus wouldn’t stop unless the light demanded it, which was rare.  Scott watched the spot at the intersection pass by his window, and then he closed his eyes and went about his day.

There were people that wondered what Scott was doing.  They questioned his gesture and they felt uneasy at his waving when there was no one visible outside.  One or two folks slid to a seat further away.  Scott largely ignored them.  He had his reasons and that was enough for him.

Several years ago, the quiet bus stop had been a hubbub of noise and activity.  The city in all its wisdom had decided to spend a year and a half redoing the roads.  The lanes became a little wider, and the trees and grass that had been growing quite well had been ripped out and replaced with new grass and new trees.  Scott didn’t really see the point to it all, but he had long ago accepted the wisdom of the phrase, “And it came to pass”.  He let the construction companies toil away, using his tax dollars for a project that someone had thought was necessary.  Scott assumed that life would return to normal.  Except for one person, that hadn’t been true.

It had been a typical weekday.  A non-descript worker, someone Scott had never met, rode the early afternoon bus.  She probably liked getting home a little before the rest of her family.  The woman might have enjoyed avoiding rush hour traffic and having a bit of “me” time to run errands or straighten up her household.  Scott would never know.

What Scott was certain of were the events of that Tuesday afternoon.  Shortly after the bus had pulled away from that intersection, the woman had crossed.  She answered the summons of the white-light man who benignly assured her that all was well.  The woman stepped into the street and walked through the intersection.  Scant seconds after she had entered, a truck joined her.  The several-ton construction truck had turned right on a red light, which would have been entirely legal had there not been a small group of pedestrians in his way.

The collision occurred the only way it could.  The truck and all its mass came crashing into the people.  A short time later several victims would be admitted to the hospital, but one person would never be fully discharged.  There would be no front door to her house, no sliding doors at a hospital for her to limp across; the last doors that the woman would ever walk through were those double doors on the bus.

Scott felt that someone should remember such things.  There was a memorial stone on the side of the road after all.  The city had realized the tragedy of the event once upon a time, even if they had forgotten about it now.  Certainly the woman’s family hadn’t forgotten.  Scott felt that he could use the reminder to himself.  When he was driving, it served as constant prodding to always follow the rules, especially where traffic lights were concerned.  For the times when he was a pedestrian or a bus rider, Scott tried to remember that one never knows what comes next.

People could stare, people could whisper, but Scott didn’t listen.  He closed his eyes as the intersection faded away into the distance.  He had paid his daily tribute, and he didn’t need the approval of other people to tell him it was the right thing to do.  He simply knew that it was.  With that, as it did each morning, life went on as best as it could.

The Trouble of Trolls

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Trouble of Trolls

Whatever you are, be a good one.” –Abraham Lincoln

Trolls are everywhere.  I’m surprised you don’t hear them brought up in conversation more often.  I mean, everyone knows about the trolls that live in the forest and eat misbehaving teenagers.  The police would crack down on those troublesome creatures if they weren’t so darn big.  Sure, they’re good at hiding, but they’re not masterminds.  Besides, have you ever tried to hide a thirty-foot beast somewhere that they can’t be found?  No, you haven’t.  And if you have, you’d be the leader of the trolls.

As it stands, their need for hiding places has made them rather scattered.  It is hard enough to find a place where one giant thing can’t be found, forget about trying to hide an entire clan of them.  Out of necessity, they break up their groups and try to make it on their own.  They’re endangered, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t see them every now and then.  C’mon, all those photos of Niagara Falls and you’ve never seen the troll that lives behind the water?  Clearly, you’re just not looking hard enough.  He’s always there.  See how the falls bulge out a tiny bit?  Yeah.  That’s his nose.  The Niagara Falls creature is one of the lazier trolls. He stands there, not really doing anything.  Of course, the lazier the trolls are, the less often they terrorize us normal folks.  Everybody’s happy.  Nobody makes any waves; let bygones be bygones.  (However, I still can’t recommend riding a barrel down the falls.  It’s not the fall that’ll get ya, it’s the troll that will catch you if you fall right past him.  What, you’re going to pass up a candy bar if it happens to fall right in front of your face?  I didn’t think so.)

Let’s put to rest some thoughts that might be creeping in.  Not all trolls are out to snatch up people and eat them.  Granted, there are a few hairy behemoths that like the crunch of human bones, but we can’t judge a whole group because a handful has poor taste, right?  That would be akin to saying all people are scheming, conniving, trouble-making liars; when really that’s only describing politicians.

There are some perfectly nice trolls out there.  It’s just that the ones eating people get all the attention.  “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” started it all with that cranky troll that tried to eat the three brothers.  Let’s talk about a famous, sort-of deceased troll that “lives” in a place you can safely visit.

Take the Fremont Troll, for instance.  He’s rather peaceful.  Well, now he sort of out-does stoic, but he was rather non-violent in his more mobile days.  See, trolls are nocturnal creatures.  If they stay out too late in the daylight, they get turned to stone.

What’s that?  You think that’s vampires?  No.  What’re they teaching you kids in school these days?  See, vampires have trouble with the sun because it burns.  Trolls don’t burn, they freeze.  Get it?  No?

See, trolls are descended from Gorgons.  Medusa wasn’t the only one in Greek mythology, she had two sisters.  The story goes that one of the Gorgons had a great love affair with a Cyclops.  Have you seen the pictures of Cyclops?  They’re pretty buff.  You can’t really blame the Gorgons for being attracted to them.  Plus, since they only had one eye, the Gorgon’s whole snake/spell/stone thing didn’t have the same effect on them.  Before you know it, one of the Gorgons gave birth to a thousand little babies.  Those little tykes grew up to be the creatures we call trolls.  Because of their parents they have some odd traits.  Some of them have nice hair while others would scare of any stylist.  Many of them have only one eye, but it is located on a side of their faces, not in the middle like their father’s.

That’s probably more information than you really needed, but now it makes sense why trolls turn to stone.  It doesn’t?  Look kid, put down the video game.  This is important stuff.  Here’s the thing, since their mother was a Gorgon, they have some stone-aspects in their genes.  If they spend too much time in the sun, then the bloodline takes over and they turn to stone.  That’s why trolls have such sheltered hiding places.  You know how some people get leathery, craggily skin from being in the sun too long?  It’s the same thing with trolls, except that their skin hardens into stone and it only takes a few moments.  (Apparently they’ve tried sunscreen, but it just isn’t strong enough to work for them.  You should still use it, though.  You don’t want to turn to stone, do you?  Or get sunburned?  I didn’t think so.)

The Fremont Troll is one of the nicest trolls that ever lived around these parts.  He was actually very helpful to the settlers when they first started building.  The Fremont Troll only asked that they try to leave him the deep waters as much as possible.  (That’s why the I-90 and 520 both have floating bridges.  Any stabilizing structures underwater would have ruined the Troll’s home.  However pontoons are nothing to trolls.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, The Fremont Troll still tried to avoid the spotlight.  He had all the same anti-social tendencies as most other trolls, he just controlled them better.  If someone fell off of a bridge and ol’ Frem was around, he would certainly fish them out.  After he’d saved them for the watery depths, he’d put them on a piece of wood or whatever debris was around and let them float to safety.  He didn’t want any of these clumsy humans to die, but he wasn’t about to carry them all the way to the shore.  Can you blame him?

Appropriately enough, it was The Fremont Troll’s willingness to help others that got him into trouble.  You see, one early morning a girl named Aurora was walking along the Aurora Bridge.  Oh believe me, I know.  Aurora and Aurora?  What’re the odds?  Somebody must have known this would make for a great story.  Anyways, this girl Aurora is about four years old.  She either wandered away from home or her mom was taking her to visit someone and their car broke down; the story changes depending which local you listen to.  What we know for sure is that the little girl ended up falling over the bridge.

Now ol’ Frem, he happened to be in the area.  It was around sundown and the fella felt like taking a lap or two around the lake.  He was waiting underneath the darkest part of the bridge for the sun to remove itself as a threat.  That’s when he saw Aurora falling.  The girl, not the bridge; but wouldn’t that be a sight to see?

Quick as a flash, without a second thought, The Fremont Troll ran towards the bridge.  He ducked around the concrete supports, he ran down the hill, and just before the land turned into water, he jumped off the top of a colossal tree and dove into midair.  Like something out of the movies, he caught the girl, curled up into a ball, and cushioned her blow as they both landed.  An unbelievable splash flew up into the air as the two cannonballed into the water.

The Fremont Troll knew enough about humans to realize that Aurora wasn’t going to survive for long.  She was young, she was soaking wet, and she was already shivering from the cold.  Staying damp would have meant her demise.  The hairy creature walked out of the water, holding her in the forearm of his right limb.  He let the last rays of sun warm her while he grabbed some trees and collected them in his right arm.

As soon as The Fremont Troll had enough pieces of kindling, he made for the shelter of the bridge.  He knew it was most likely doomed, but he didn’t see that he had any choice.  The Fremont Troll crawled into the most recessed, most sheltered enclosure that the bridge had to offer.  He watched with his one glassy eye as the fire slowly warmed the little girl.

Aurora’s parents, having watched the whole thing in horror, came zooming up in their Volkswagen Bug.  Like any good parent, they wanted to make sure that their daughter was okay.  The two swallowed their fear of the troll and parked right in front of him.  They slammed the doors shut as they ran to their daughter.  At that point, she was almost back to her normal self.  The parents held Aurora close and wept tears of joy.

They turned to thank their daughter’s savior, but it was too late.  The exposure to the sun had done its damage.  The troll felt a sharp pain and he lashed his arm out in anguish.  He clutched the closest thing he could find, the VW Bug, and clenched his long fingers around it as the searing agony took over his body and he was turned to stone.  Oddly enough, due to its proximity to the behemoth, the car was turned to stone as well.

So yes, there are good trolls out there.  Still, we think it makes sense to keep our distance.  Every once in a while, if they’re feeling friendly, the trolls will make themselves known.  But some creatures just have a hard time controlling their desire to eat us.  Live and let live, right?

Oh, and don’t feel too bad for The Fremont Bridge.  There are still people looking for a cure.  Really, all you need is a few red feathers from the wings of a Pegasus.  It may take a while, but they’ll find one.

What’s that?  You’ve never seen a Pegasus?  Really?  Dang.  Kid, we gotta get you out to some bigger zoos.  I mean, that’s just silly.

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