The Petty Loss

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 Petty Loss

The size of a misfortune is not determinable by an outsider’s measurement of it, but only by the measurement applied to it by the person specially affected by it. The king’s lost crown is a vast matter to the king, but of no consequence to the child.  The lost toy is a great matter to the child, but in the king’s eyes it is not a thing to break the heart about.” –Mark Twain

The small boy was instantly struck with fright
When his eyes were met by the tragic sight.
Warren came home and saw the door ajar
And worried his cat could be rather far.

His precious pet was the curious type
Its need for adventure was always ripe.
The family tried to keep the door shut
So the cat would be safe from any mutt.

Often Warren looked at the furry face,
Warning the feline of the outside place.
He liked the fluff ball to stay at his side,
Who knew what could happen to it outside?

Hours of searching with no cat around,
No paw prints to follow on the hard ground.
Calling out and searching were all in vain,
The parents called it with the start of rain.

So Warren went to bed, the time was late
He couldn’t believe his best friend’s new fate.
Tears flowed as he thought of his pet with dread,
Then he heard a meow from under his bed.

Pic from Best of Web

The boy sat up quickly, hearing the noise,
He cleared away all the mess and the toys.
And there, in a heap, just as sure as that,
Was the confused, still sleepy, pussycat.

Fresh as a Daisy (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.

(This post is once again made possible by The Daily Post.  Much thanks for the idea.  I like painting pictures with metaphors.)

Fresh as a Daisy

The path of a good woman is indeed strewn with flowers; but they rise behind her steps, not before them.” -John Ruskin

It had started off with the older males.  The retired fellows in the coffee shop would see her in line and call her “sweetheart” or “darling”.  They didn’t bother to ask her name.  They never introduced themselves.  The elderly fellows thought that their old-fashioned attitudes would somehow win a soft spot in her heart.

At first, Daisy did her best to brush it off.  The older gentlemen had their way of expressing their affection and she wanted to accept the compliment.  Yet, there was a limit to how many coffees these grandfathers could buy her.  In truth, the drinks (supposedly meeting every definition of a complimentary beverage) came at a cost.  “Give us a smile”, they’d goad.  “Hey Doll, how about giving us a peck on the cheek?”  Eventually, Daisy ended up buying a coffee maker and avoiding the affronts on her person.

Yet, it was the men that she worked with that created the most difficulty for Daisy.  She was raised to be kind and courteous to all.  With her pleasing curves and ready smile, many men interpreted her attempts at politeness as flirting.  Daisy tried to temper her natural tendencies towards being outgoing, but it was a delicate balance.  If she was too cheery, the men took it as an invitation to hit on her.  When she tried to be strictly business oriented, whispers circled around about her being “frigid” or “a tease”.  It didn’t matter what she wore or what environment she was in.  There always seemed to be one or two guys that took the whole thing too far.  Daisy was done with all of it.

On a Thursday afternoon, Daisy was putting together a series of reports that her boss had asked for.  Having previously requested a three-day weekend, the pressure was on to deliver all the work before the end of her work day.  The sooner Daisy finished, the more time she could spend in Hawaii celebrating her friend’s wedding.  She had tickets for an eight thirty flight, but she had hopes of making a six o’clock one.  All she had to do was complete the tasks that had been placed on her plate.  Of course, that was the time that Bradley showed up.

Bradley had been following Daisy for months.  Ever since she had been introduced to the staff, Bradley had gone out of his way to take Daisy under his wing.  In the beginning, his advice had been helpful and Daisy had appreciated how he went out of his way to guide her through the office floor plan, policies, and even the politics.  However, as time passed, Bradley kept talking less about work and more about his designs on her.  Daisy felt the muscles in her jaw tighten and her teeth clenched together.

“Hey there, Dearie.  How’s your wonderful self today?”

“I’m actually quite busy, Bradley.”

“Too busy for me?  I don’t believe it.”

“Well”, Daisy said without looking up from the papers, “it’s still the truth.”

“Look, Daisy.  We’ve been dancing this little routine for far too long.  Why don’t you just give in to me?  I’ll show you a real good time.”

“Three reasons, Bradley.  One, I like my boyfriend just fine.  Two, you started off using charming phrasing; now you’re crude.  Third, I’m busy.  So off you go.  Please.”

“Daisy, Honey, it’s dangerous to deny that which you clearly need so desperately.”

With that, Daisy snapped.  That little switch in her mind that she’d tried to keep her itchy trigger-finger away from for so long finally flipped on.  Her limit had been breached.  Throwing down a pile of papers with a slam, Daisy fixed her eyes on Bradley and stared him down with a determination that added a foot to her perceived stature.

Photo from Wikipedia

“Bradley, have you ever had a mole?”

“What?”  The formerly charming fellow was easily confused.

“A mole.  Not a little garden pest that can be turned into a cute creature in children’s books.  I’m referencing a growth or discoloration on the skin.  Got any moles, Bradley?”

“Uh, no.  I don’t think so.”

“See Bradley, moles sound all kinds of fun.  At first I thought that a mole would be a nice little addition.  You know, it would add a touch of character.  If my face was lovely before, wouldn’t the mole make things a little more interesting?  I could dress up the mole.  Take it out on the town.  People would notice my tiny tagalong.  When if first comes onto the scene, the mole is something to celebrate.  Ya with me so far here, Bradley?”

“I guess…”

“Great”, she continued.  “Next is the second stage of coming across this new mole.  It starts to become irritating.  One has to wonder if they should cover up the mole when they go out in public.  The mole thinks it has control of what the rest of you wants to do.  You go to wash up at the end of the day, and you wish you could just rub that silly mole right off.  The allure is gone.  The mole has started to grow hair.”

“What does that have to do with me?”

“Maybe it will become clearer in phase three.  See, that’s when the mole has worn out its welcome.  The mole is now a worry-inducing pest.  Moles can show signs of cancer.  The bigger the mole is, the easier it is to see on your face, and the less you like it.  Even your coworkers start to mention things.  ‘I think that mole is diseased’, one gal says.  ‘I once had a mole like that.  I got rid of it and my life’s only been better.’  See, it turns out that moles are more trouble than they’re worth.  In the end, it’s really just best to excise them, forget them, and go find better things to occupy your time with.  Moles are nothing but an annoyance.”

Daisy looked back at her files and saw that she had nearly completed her work.  She only needed a little clarification from her boss and then she could finish quickly.  A glance at the clock confirmed what she dared to hope; that early flight was possible.  She’d have to call Joel and see if he was packed yet.  A charming boyfriend, Hawaii, and three entire days without work; it sounded like paradise indeed.  Daisy gathered the final piles of papers and made her way to the glass door with its ornate lettering.

“Wait”, Bradley called out as Daisy put her hand on her supervisor’s door knob.  “I don’t get it.”

“Neither does the mole, Bradley.  That’s the whole point.”

B(ee)-Grade Material

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.

B(ee)-Grade Material

When I jumped off a roof in Cannes in a bee costume, I looked ridiculous. But this is my business; I have to humiliate myself.” -Jerry Seinfeld

“All right fellas, I’ve got quite the story for ya.  You’re never gonna believe it, but I bet ya anything this’ll knock yer socks off.  It’s a gasser, I tell ya.  A real smash!”

Johnny looked at the assembled group in their expensive suits and knew that he would really have to break out the big guns.  It was like looking at a pride of animals at the zoo.  For the moment, the large desk was enough to keep them at bay as they blinked at Johnny with boredom and disinterest.  Their attire was regal, but their viciousness was legend.  Johnny needed to make each move skillfully and cautiously.  He could only hope to leave the room with the angry crowd smiling and well-fed, not hungry for his head on a plate.

“Now ya see”, Johnny began as he wiped the sweat from his brow, “we have a killer story here.  It’s a real knock-‘em dead adventure.”  Johnny suddenly became aware that he had left his laptop in the car.  He would have to improvise.  Removing his gray suit jacket and exposing his white shirt and button-up vest, Johnny felt very much like a slab of pasty veal.  The higher-ups looked at the young fellow, realized just how ripe he was, and started sharpening their claws.

“Mr. Goodspeak”, the largest, oldest, and baldest of the man said as he sat forward in his leather chair.  “We really don’t have time for-“

“Right!”  Johnny clapped his hands and threw his arms up in the air and gestured for the men to sit back.  When he saw just how much he had sweated through his armpits on his shirt, Johnny hurried to pull his limbs back down.

“You’re busy fellows!  I get that; let’s cut to the chase.  We’re in ancient Egypt.  We have views of pyramids being built.  We really have to bring out the history here.  I mean, the story is a fun one, but there’s educational value to it as well.  That’s how we pitch it.  See, everyone knows about the giant pyramids.  They’re a wonder of the world, for crying out loud.  But what they don’t know is that there was a corner that had never been opened.  It’s location off to the side, and underground, kept it hidden until we had the technology to find it.”

“And in this tomb?”  The largest man spoke with venom in his voice.  If he hadn’t started shooting daggers at Johnny yet, he was certainly sharpening them.

“A bee”, Johnny said.  “A giant, mummified bee!”

“A bee”, the man replied, clearly bored.  “You’re wasting our time with… a bee?”

“Now wait just one second fellas.  Ya gotta hear me out.  I said it was a giant bee.  We’re talkin’ about a creature the size of a Volkswagen Bug!”

Johnny paused for a chuckle in response to his joke.  He heard none.  The wailing and gnashing of teeth had not yet begun, but he could sense it approaching ever closer.

“Anyways”, he said as he pulled his tie looser.  “This giant bee has been mummified the whole time.  But somehow; magic, honey, amber; we don’t need to understand right now, the bee’s alive!  We meet this bee when the wall comes down and he sends the people into a frenzy of panic.  This deep and booming voice comes bellowing out of the giant mummy-insect.  As strips of fabric fall off of its rotted face and his ancient wings beat frighteningly, the bee manages to call out in tone of doom, “Bee-warrrreee.”

“Bee-ware?  Honestly?  That’s the story you have for us?”

“I, that is, if we got the right person to voice the bee, it’d work.”  Johnny felt the sweat dripping down his back but did nothing.  At this point, all he could do was stand and face his attackers head on.  Fleeing for safety was no longer an option.

“And just who, dare I ask; did you have in mind for this?”

“Christopher Lee”, Johnny answered timidly.

“Christopher Lee.”  The man laughed.  “You think the man that did Dracula, and Tolkein is going to be associated with this stupid tale?”

“He was in Star Wars”, Johnny replied.

“Pff.  That proves nothing.  He was a Bond villain, for crying out loud.”

“Yes”, said the man to the right of the leader, pointer finger out-stretched in proper correcting form.  “But it was a Roger Moore one.”

“So?  Heath, you’ve really got to get over this whole Sean Connery obsession.  It’s annoying.”

“You’re just jealous that I played golf with him and you never did.”

“Because you didn’t invite me!  He called later and asked why I didn’t come!  I told him I didn’t know anything about it.”

“I still consider that a favor to the great Sean Connery.”

The leader roared in anger and rose up to his full height.  The dissenter got the message, sunk back in his chair, and picked at what was left of the T-bone steak in front of him.

“Look son”, the leader said, returning his attention to Johnny.  “We’re just not interested.”

“But I’m telling you, it’s a great story!  It’ll be scary and educational and if we shoot in the desert we can save all our efforts and production funding for the bee!”

“I’ve been in this business a long time, kid.”  The man stood up, his display of being an attentive audience member was over.  He leaned back slightly, tucked his hands into the pockets on his vest, and pulled out a solid gold pocket watch with the left.  “You simply don’t have a hit on your hands.”

“You haven’t even let me tell you about the main character.  Sandy Trapps confronts the bee in the dusty tombs and finds out a way to kill it!”

“Let me guess, this Trapps fellow finds a way to drop a giant piece of stone on the bee at the last minute?”

“How… how did you know?  I just wrote the ending last week.”

“Story as old as time kid”, the man said as he made a show of checking his timepiece.  “And your time is up.  We’re due for dinner.”

“Wait, there’s just one more thing!”  Panic had fully set in for Johnny.  He needed something that would save his skin.  “What if… what if Sandy Trapps is a hot female archaeologist?”

A silence fell over the room.  Johnny could see mouths closing, minds at work, and cash registers adding in the men’s eyes.  “You mean, like Tomb Raider?  We don’t want to get sued over this.  I mean, it has potential.  But I don’t want to be in litigation and get bad press.”

“No, no, she’ll be blonde.  Sandy blonde; get it?”

“Does she have to be blonde?”  The man to the right of the alpha-male had spoken up once again.  “I hear Catherine Zeta-Jones is in terrific shape.  She was in that movie with Sean Connery, y’know.”

“Jenkins!  Enough with the Connery!  I’ll lock you in a cage and melt the key if you don’t keep quiet.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now son, this is a promising idea.  Blonde, that’s inspired.  Genius.  What else did you have in mind for her?”

“Smart, adventurous; she’ll be able to talk her way out of trouble with tomb robbers and supervisors that don’t want her in the field.  She’ll cause too much ruckus out in the ‘quiet’ world of history.  She’ll be capable and savvy.”

“Okay, but will she be wearing a tank top?  We’re gonna need her in tight clothing.”

“Oh yes, sir.  Absolutely, sir.”  Johnny mentally shook his head sideways, but outwardly nodded in agreement.  You gotta give a little to get a lot, he told himself.

“Terrific.  And maybe there can be some underground lake that she swims in and gets trapped.  Movies with women in swimsuits are dynamite.  We’ll blow the box office lid wide open!”

“Yes sir”, Johnny agreed again.

“I tell ya what boy, why don’t you come and prowl the town with us?  We were going to have some lamb skewered and served raw, but I think we could all use a drink.  What say you join us down by the watering hole?  My treat.”

Johnny scrambled for his jacket and nodded excitedly.  He had survived his first meeting with the dominant-crowd.  But a part of Johnny couldn’t stop worrying that he would end up devoured by it all.

The Nanite Prophecy

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 Nanite Prophecy

The city’s full of people who you just see around.” -Terry Pratchett

Those that came into contact with Jordan knew that he wasn’t quite well in the head.  Jordan knew it too.  He stood on the street corner and scratched the back of his ear.  There was something about the way that the sun shone down at twelve seventeen each day that made his head itch.  He had somehow developed this quirk over the years and couldn’t stop himself.  He lowered his head and saw his ratty shoes at his feet while his right hand went about its daily routine of attending to the irritated ear.

He often found himself muttering uncontrollably to himself and anyone who happened to be within range.  He heard secrets whispered on the streets and never knew if they were imagined or real.  Whenever he thought he could convince someone, he would stop them and tell them the unshared mysteries that were rattling around in his head.  As a man in a white polo shirt, khakis, and opaque sunglasses strolled down the street, Jordan decided that this stranger might comprehend a recent fact that the homeless man had learned.

“Sir”, Jordan called out as he stepped in front of the polo-man.  “I was wondering, I know that there’s, if you have a second to…”  Jordan felt his voice trail off.

The polo-man’s eyes were covered so Jordan couldn’t see what he was thinking.  There was no sneer or bearing of teeth, so Jordan cleared his throat and tried to collect his scattered thoughts.  He saw that his arms had been wildly gesticulating in front of him, reaching too close to the polo-man.  With effort, Jordan was able to pull the arms down to his side.  He had seen totem poles before, in the life that he could only remember in patches.  Jordan recalled that the tall wood creation had inspired awe and prominence, so he pulled his hands close to his sides and held them there.  It was his belief that this stiff form was more respectable and less threatening to others.

“Could you; if you have the time, I want to talk to you.”

The polo-man looked at his watch.  “I don’t know.  I really am on my way to-”

“It’s important!”

Jordan stopped.  He hadn’t meant to yell.  Again, he found his arms stretched out towards the stranger.  He realized that his actions suggested that he wanted to strangle the polo-man, when that was the last thing he wanted.  He shoved his hands deep into his pockets.  So strong was his desire to control himself that he felt his pants slip lower from the hands’ downward pressure.  Jordan took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and focused on the sunset picture in the travel agent’s window that he passed every day.

“Please”, Jordan said with his eyelids still closed.  “I only want to explain something.”

When he returned his gaze to the polo-man, Jordan found that the stranger was taking him in.  His shoulders’ had loosened noticeably and he hadn’t run away like so many other people did.  Now polo-man was looking at Jordan with one eyebrow raised over the sunglasses’ lens in curiosity.

“Okay”, polo-man replied.  “What is it?”

Jordan clapped his hands in glee.  Finally.  Someone would understand him.  There was a person in the world who would listen!  Once he got this man to understand, then he would join him.  The two of them would form a group, which would branch into other groups; soon their numbers would be legion!  There was hope!  The world didn’t have to turn out so sad!  Jordan pictured the polo-man as a giant teddy bear of happiness and managed to keep his hands in his pockets.  He needed to keep control.  That was what mattered.

“Have you heard about nanorobotics?”

“You mean, like tiny machines?”

“Exactly!”  Jordan couldn’t believe his luck.  This man really would get it.  “You see, the government has been working on nanites for years.  But not in the capacity that you think they have.  These… these these these things are being manufactured at an incredible rate.  They have; they… I should tell you about they.  No.  First nanites.  They make them self-replicating.  They make one, that one makes another.   It’s a house of cards but they’re all jokers.  Heh.  Joke.  So once they’ve got a collection of nanites, they can use those to make more nanites.  It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.  More begets more.”

Jordan paused to gauge the polo-man’s reaction.  So far, he was only nodding politely.

“Now, I know what you’re thinking.  I can see it.  See it clear on your face.  The part of your face that I can see.  Strange.  Your wearing glasses on a cloudy day.   Maybe sensitive.  Sensitive is good, right?  It helps you understand.  You can filter out the sun; filter out the junk.  Right!  Junk!  Garbage.  Garbage is where they’re getting all these nanites.  See, they set up their labs in or near junkyards.  Trash depots.  Who’s going to care if things go missing from a junkyard?  A dog maybe.  Slobbering dogs.  Sharp teeth.  Had one as a kid once.  Bit my leg.  Want to see?”

“No, thanks.”  The polo-man smiled.  It was an obvious show of kindness, but he maintained a safe distance between them.  “And where are all these nanites?  I mean, how many of them could there be?”

“How many he asks… millions!  Billions!  More than the sands in the desert or the stars in the sky.  That’s what The Bible says, right?  Which is more?  More sand or more stars?  Not a geologist.  Barely an astronomist.  Do like space though.  Quiet, serene.  Not like here.  Busy streets.  Lots of cars and people.  Oh, people!  On sidewalks, yes.  That’s where all these nanites are.

“See, the sidewalks and streets beneath us?  How they’re all new and clean?”  Jordan waited until the polo-man nodded his head.  “That’s just it.  They claim that they’re creating a new kind of pavement, and they are.  You have to… there’s a new quality about this pavement.  The top layer is all nanites.  The government, those elected officials; they’ll say that they have a reason for them.  Say that the constant movement of millions of pieces will create warmth and will reduce snow.  If snow and ice don’t stick to pavement, then less accidents.  They say they’re trying to help us.  They’re replacing salt and deicer with little nanites that can repair the streets after chains drive over them.  Or through them.  Moving means they’re too warm or too quick to let moisture settle.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?”

“I’d say so”, the polo-man replied with a chuckle.  “I hate driving in snow.”

“Right!  Right!  Causes problems.  People want less problems.  Less challenges.  Can’t handle the stress.  Well, they’ll have more than they can handle.  It’s the nanites, I tell ya.  The nanites.  They aren’t just covering every inch of the ground that you walk on, they’re covering the shoes that you walk with.  Think about it.  Nanites could cling to your shoes.  They could embed themselves in your rubber soles.  Then they’ll use your soles to track your souls.  Same word, but different.  Must be true.  They could use satellites!  Astronomists’ satellites!  Each nanite could send a unique signal.  Bond to shoes.  Shoes get tossed?  Make more nanites.  They’ll have an endless supply.”

Jordan saw the polo-man looking to his watch as he took small steps away from him.  Jordan was losing him.

“Look, they’ll track us.  They’ll be able to measure us by our weight.  Amount of pressure will change as we change.  Use that to charge us more for insurance.  If you have insurance.  Can send police after you.  Can find you.  You worry about police tracking with phone GPS?  GPS phones are nothing.  Nanites are everything.  Nanotechnology will tell them where we are at all times.  Build transmitters to record our conversations.  Shoes, socks, feet; the nanites won’t differentiate!  It’s only a matter of time before we’re all cyborgs.  Only one way to stop them.”

“And what’s that?”

“Extremes!  Got to embrace the extremes.  Walk around downtown with ice packs.  Tape them to shoes.  I can’t; don’t have any now.  Have run out.  But if those nanites tried to crawl upwards, they’d be frozen in the cold packs.  Couldn’t work.  Would die.  Problem sovled.  No cold packs with me.  Ran out.  Hold my feet over the campfire each night.  That takes care of them.  Extremes.  Too much hot, too much cold, they’re done.  Trust me, my friend.  Those feet of yours are in danger!”

The polo-man had heard enough.  “I’ll keep that in mind”, he said.  “Thanks for talking to me.”  With that, he continued on his path.

Jordan pulled his hands free of his pockets and rubbed them together in one big fist.  His fingers weren’t cold, but they were nervous.  Had the man believed him?  Surely he must’ve.  This had to be one of the stories he heard that was true.  The voice had said it was true.  It had been such a smart voice too; they had used big words and everything.  And if polo-man believed him, then others would.  Jordan decided right then and there; he would tell everyone he saw about the government’s use of nanorobotics.

The excited homeless man stopped intertwining his hands together and now clapped them in joy and exuberance.  He had a mission.  He had a plan.

Jordan was so excited that he hadn’t noticed the polo-man.  The stranger ducked into the doorway of a nearby apartment building.  From his perch, the polo-man could keep an eye on Jordan as he made a phone call.  His face had grown somber since passing by the homeless man.  Finally, the other party answered their phone.

“Sir, it’s Stevens”, the polo-man said.  “We have a serious security breach in the program.”

Samantha’s Suburban Surprise

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.

Samantha’s Suburban Surprise

Today, the degradation of the inner life is symbolized by the fact that the only place sacred from interruption is the private toilet.” -Lewis Mumford

I know. This makes you think the story’ll be gross.
Just trust me.

Of all things in the world that work reliably, Samantha thought that toilets should be one of them.  She stood in front of the porcelain necessity and judged it as a failure in its workings.  The toilet in the main bathroom had always been a source of trouble.  For some reason that Samantha and her family had yet to understand, the toilet was low-volume and it often took several tries to yield any results.  Samantha in particular was often vexed at the appliance’s lack of functionality and often made her way to the bathroom in the guest bedroom just to avoid the battle.

Friday morning was no different.  At seven in the morning there were enough things on the mother’s mind.  Joel and Cassidy needed their lunches packed.  Joel had a science fair that was being judged in the afternoon.  Samantha wanted to be there.  In truth, she deserved a portion of whatever praise was heaped onto Joel’s final product.  It had been Samantha’s fingers that had been caked in glue and dirt as the two had tiresomely created a dirt base for Joel’s photosynthesis diorama.  At the end of the night, as her son’s freshly washed fingers and brushed teeth slept three doors down, Samantha had been convinced that it would have been easier and cleaner to take their garden to school.

As her mother put a sandwich in her lunch, Cassidy refused to change out of her dance uniform.  Her mother tried to explain that the recital wasn’t for another two days.  Cassidy adamantly stuck to her fashion decision.  She didn’t care that Samantha’s parents were coming to town just for the performance.

They claimed that they were going to be in the area anyways and that Samantha and Chuck shouldn’t make any plans for them.  They even offered to check into their hotel.  But Samantha’s mom had said it with that tone in her voice.

She had heard that tone when she had brought home her high school boyfriend; the one with the motorcycle and leather jacket, but no helmet.  She had heard that tone again when she informed her parents that she was going to major in Liberal Arts.  Should Samantha’s mother ever hear about the state of their toilet, Samantha knew that tone would come out again.  Somehow, even while smiling, the matriarch could communicate her distaste in a decision without actually putting it down.  It was this ability that Samantha feared would be used if Cassidy’s dress looked frumpy or, God forbid, torn.  Yet, with all the hustle and chaos of the day, Samantha decided the loud battle that would ensue with her daughter was not worth the fight, even if it meant a silent conflict with her mother.

In addition, Samantha had her review today.  If the paperwork had gone through in the way that it should have, the whole ordeal would have been wrapped up two months ago and Samantha would be at her son’s showcasing.  Instead, she had waited for her boss to return from his European vacation.  Then she had waited for him to get caught up from his time away.  And finally she had waited for the man to get through every other person in the office’s evaluations except hers, even though hers were overdue and theirs were not.  Samantha asked if they could meet a day later, but the boss had said no.  Today was the day.  After fifty-seven days of procrastination, the boss had put his foot down and didn’t care whose toes he stepped on.

With all that going on, it makes perfect sense that the toilet, an everyday annoyance at best, was shoved to the back of Samantha’s already crowded thoughts.  She looked across the table at her husband and tried to remember the last time the two of them had gone out together.  Maybe she could con her parents into babysitting.  Samantha’s mother might have the vocal talent of the family, but she was powerless against Samantha’s Bambi-eyes.

Later that night, the four members of the household reassembled under the same roof.  Samantha was the last to arrive home.  She was shocked to see her daughter running around in something other than her recital apparel.  Chuck saw her, put his hairy arm around her waist, and hugged her.  A smile came over her face.

“I convinced her that if she was a secret agent ballerina, then she would have to wear pajamas to go on covert spy missions and save persecuted kittens from enemy clutches.  Plus she could do somersaults as she evaded capture and clutched the fur balls close to her.”

“Whatever works”, Samantha said as she pecked him on the cheek in appreciation.  “You’re brilliant and handsome, and I’d only love you and your scruffiness more if you had been kind enough to cook dinner so I don’t have to.”

“Spaghetti”, he replied.  “I figured since we don’t have dresses to protect, we’d celebrate with sloppiness.”

“One of these days I’m going to show you my appreciation”, she said as she stroked the dark hairs on his forearm.

“I’ll hold you to that”, he grinned.  “Oh, but there is one more thing I need to tell you.”

“Can it wait?”  Samantha asked as she took of her blazer and headed towards the guest room.  “I really have to use the bathroom.”

“Yeah, it’s about that”, her husband called out.

“In a minute, Hon”, Samantha yelled as she locked the bathroom door and turned on the facet.  She had learned much since children had begun sharing the house.  Rule number one was that the door should always be locked.  Seven year-olds didn’t understand when Mom was unavailable to answer their questions.  They would enter without remorse, without hesitation, and no matter how much she reminded them; without knocking.

Rule number two was that to these same kids, any bodily function was hilarious.  Running sinks wouldn’t mute all the noises that the human body makes, but they would more or less do the trick.  In another minute or two Samantha would face the quirks and surprises that her life provided in abundance.  But first she had business to take care of.  Samantha pulled her blouse loose, walked to the guest toilet, and sat down.  It was only seconds later that she heard a squeaking noise as something furry brushed by her bare skin

With a screech, Samantha stood up and scrambled to pull her clothing close to her.  She whirled around and saw the source of the noise.  There, swimming in the toilet, was a rat.

Hi! How’s it goin’?

“Chuck!”

“I tried to warn you”, his voice came from the other side of the door.

Samantha scrambled to unlock the door, her hands fumbling with the doorknob as her eyes continued to watch the beady-eyed creature at all times.  She knew that the moment she took her gaze from the rodent, that would be the second it would skitter off to some remote hiding space.

“You knew this thing was in our house?  And you didn’t do anything about it?”

“Sam…”

“You could have at least put something on the toilet seat lid!  One of those weights that’s cluttering up the garage; the one’s you never use.  Grab a potted plant from the back porch.  But don’t just leave it swimming in there!”

“Why not?  I think he looks rather cute.”

“Chuck!”  Samantha squeezed her husband’s bicep.  “Rat.  Toilet.  Not good bedfellows.  Did you try flushing it?  Making it return to the watery depths from whence it came?”

“I couldn’t do that to Joel.”

“What does our son have to do with that rabid creature with incisor-like teeth?”

“It’s his rat.  Or mouse.  I really don’t know.  Either way, he traded his prize money for another student’s rat.”

“What?”

“I could repeat that last bit, if you want.  It’s gonna be the same answer though.  Our son bought a rat.”

“And you didn’t stop him… why?”

“I told him we’d have to have a family discussion.”

“Ugggggh.  It’s a rat.  It’s filthy!”

“Actually, it’s not as bad as you think.  The other father assured me that they had taken all the precautions and that they are as healthy as can be.  He says they make pretty decent pets.”

“Then why didn’t they keep this thing?”  Samantha started to hop and skip around on the linoleum floor.  Her prior task was not forgotten, only temporarily delayed.

“Well, funny story.  It turns out they have five other ones at home.”

Samantha stood still and looked Chuck straight in the face.  “I don’t want to know that man’s name.  If we ever meet him and I know he’s the one with mice all over his house, I will scream.  Just assure me that we will never, ever, go to his house.”

Chuck only laughed in reply.  Samantha’s response was more dramatic.  She pushed her husband aside, threw the door open and hurried to the other end of the house.

“I thought we were talking”, her husband called out.

“Oh, we’re not even close to done”, Samantha hollered as she nimbly navigated her way around the floor-covered maze of toys and crayon drawings.  “But it can wait a few minutes.”

Samantha hurried to the main bathroom, thrilled to find it unoccupied.  She closed the door and sent a mental note of thanks.  She had never been so happy to see that wretched toilet in all her life.

Winter Precautions

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.

Winter Precautions

When you’re safe at home, you wish that you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure, you wish that you were safe at home.” –Thornton Wilder

“Hank McRoph knew that the odds of his surviving unscathed were slim.  There were many dangers in front of him, many trials that he needed to overcome.  Truly, the first thing that he needed to do was look the challenge in front of him square in the face and guffaw in utter braveness.

“Others had laughed when he said he could cross the arctic on bare feet.  But Hank would show the unbelieving fools.  They were the same ones that claimed he couldn’t swim the Amazon or mingle amongst koalas.  As always, Henry had proven them wrong.

“So here we find the mighty Henry, about to climb the tallest peak on the cruelest continent that this earth has to offer.  The temperatures have negative signs to go with their triple digits.  The wind blows harsh and bites all it comes into contact with.  Only the manliest of all men would even look at pictures of this unforgiving realm, let alone attempt to conquer it.”

“Henry?”

“Hank McRoph remains steadfast and undeterred.  Hank looked at the odds, tossed his head back, and laughed at the danger that was in front of him!  He laughed, I tell you!  Like a careless maverick with nary a care in the world!”

“Henry!”

Henry heard his wife’s voice and was brought to reality.  He ceased his activity, pulled his head free, and turned to his wife.  “Yes, dear?”

“Henry, what are you doing?  Why is your head in the freezer?”

“I think the better question is; what are my hands and head doing in the freezer?”  Henry made a point to wiggle his glove-covered digits as he smiled.

“Henry”, Laurel said as she rolled her eyes.

“I feel that it’s pretty obvious”, Henry answered.  “I’m preparing for ski season.”

“By putting your head in the freezer?”

“Of course.  How else am I going to be ready for the great wilderness?”

“By going outside”, Laurel replied.  “You get ready for ski season by actually going skiing.  It’s still two weeks away.”

“Some of us like to take extra steps so that we’re prepared”, Henry defended.

“And the voice?”

Henry paused and then answered with a hint of hesitation in his tone.  “I was narrating.”

“Of course you were”, Laurel said with a sigh.  “Hand me that slab of beef would you?”

“Here ya go.”

“Thank you.  Now try to wrap it up somewhat soon, would you?  I’d rather not have a husband with freezer burn.”

The Christmas Caper

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 Christmas Caper

The advantage of having many children is that one of them may not turn out like the rest.” -unknown

Where three or more are gathered, trouble is bound to ensue.  It wasn’t a guaranteed recipe for mischief, but the odds of a triad of youngsters behaving one hundred percent of the time were rather slim.  Honestly, Christmas wasn’t too far away.  How patient are kids expected to be?

The escapade occurred one year in early December.  Mom had left us alone to go buy groceries.  Or maybe she left us behind so that she could buy us more Christmas gifts?  A kid could dream.  The possibilities were endless to several children all under the age of twelve.  However one thing was certain.  We were alone in an unsupervised house.  We knew that mom always bought presents early.

My sister is the oldest and has a quiet streak to her.  What others call well-behaved, I label as a propensity for plotting.  She knew my mom’s habits better than anyone.  After all, she’d had the longest to observe her tactics and caches over the holiday seasons.  My brother was the middle child, and therefore is guaranteed to cause all kinds of problems.  I’m not saying he was wanted by the law or anything, but he did tape matches to a paper airplane and throw it off the balcony as it “flew” and melted into a fireball.  (Don’t worry, we lived in Seattle.  The ground was always wet.)

Then there was me.  The innocent one in this Ocean’s Three.  I was merely following in the footsteps of my older relatives.  Peer pressure in school is one thing, but I lived with these ruffians.  Imagine what sort of short-sheeting, snowball flinging, stuffed-animal-hiding payback they could have rained down on me.  Plus, they thought of it before I did.  I was inspired by their conniving nature.

We more or less had the run off the house.  There were no locked rooms, no areas fenced off for special occasions.  We had a way of tearing through most rooms of the house on a daily basis.  The living room was full of LEGOs, the family room had books and VHS tapes strewn about, and the vestibule was sullied with our tennis shoes and backpacks.  It wasn’t our parents’ fault that we had free roam; they were outnumbered.

My sister must have used her years of experience to determine that there was only one area that we never visited.  Our parents’ bedroom was a world of secrets.  It wasn’t like we could go in there and play tag at four in the morning.  Also, there wasn’t much worth our time in that room.  A dresser with clothes was boring.  The bed would have been all sorts of entertainment if we were allowed to jump on it, which we weren’t.  As for the record and CD collection; all I saw were classical music selections with old men and boring landscapes painted on them.  I do remember seeing a few Johnny Cash vinyl records, but it wasn’t until my twenties that I would find out how cool my dad was for having those.

However, every master bedroom has an adjoining area of mystery.  The eldest of us had read C.S. Lewis, so perhaps she borrowed the idea of secret treasures from Aslan-enhanced adventures.  Regardless, the children of the house were soon huddled on the floor of the closet.  It was a walk-in room with a shelf above all the hangers.  The taller members assured me that there was nothing worthwhile up high.  It was time to get down on our hands and knees.  In the L-shaped space, we all crammed into the corner as one big huddled mass of excitable giggles, arms, and legs.  Sure enough, just as had been foretold, the wonderful embarrassment of delights was contained therein.

We celebrated, we examined, and we ooh-ed.  Our mom didn’t wrap the presents until the week of Christmas, so all the toys and trinkets were there for our examination.  There may have been sweaters or socks for us in the pile, but I rather doubt it.  Who needs to hide clothing from children?  Toys, that’s what we were excited about.  We looked, we compared, and we managed to keep each other from opening up the packages and playing with them.

The plot of every heist flick always seems to go the same way.  At some point, the ne’er do wells end up coming “this close” to getting caught.  The warden barges in, the security feed blinks back to life, a stoolie rats out the prison escapees for an extra ration of cigs.  Well that’s why we didn’t have any accomplices.  It was us and us alone, and we got away with it.  No one was to know the wiser.

At least, that was the case until dinner time.  I don’t recall any nervous faces at the table.  The five of us all sat around as normal as could be.  It was a typical family having a meal together in true Rockwell-ian fashion.  But my family had something that you’ll never find painted in The Four Freedoms.  Our household, much to their amusement, had me.  So it was that in between bites of food, I turned to my mom and asked, “Which Care Bear’s mine?”

A Past Beau(ty)

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 Past Beau(ty)

A romance is a short period when two people cannot see too much of each other, followed by a long period when they do.” -unknown

Nancy couldn’t help but stare at the headline of the newspaper.  Patrick Helmswid- The Story Behind the Region’s Most Charming Senator.  She had known Patrick in another time, a more romantic one.  Unknowingly, Nancy found herself remembering the bond that the two had once shared.

It had all started out as most college attractions do.  Nancy was a chemistry major trying to get to class before the bell.  The rain outside had made the tile floor rather slippery.  When Nancy, loaded down with a backpack full of books, took a turn too quick, she had found the floor beneath her sliding away.  She flailed her arms in the air and tried to regain her balance.  Nonetheless, she found herself headed towards the floor.

That was when Patrick came on the scene.  From behind Nancy, the strong quarterback put out his arms, bent his knees ever so slightly, and caught her with soft but sure arms.  Finding herself at a forty-five degree angle, Nancy was struck with surprise at how she had avoided the hard floor.  She twisted and turned to find the handsome rescuer behind her.  She giggled nervously, he beamed with white teeth.  The two were quite taken with each other in that moment.

Nancy put down the newspaper and went to her shoebox full of photographs.  Photos had become a funny topic to Nancy over the years.  There were pictures that scrolled across the wallpaper of her computer monitor every day; a never-ending montage of joy that silently came and went.  Still, there were pictures that she saved for special occasions.  Many photographs that resided in the dingy and ugly cardboard box only came out once every few years.  Their rare appearances and the flipping-sound that they made as she ran her fingers through the glossy paper brought a smile to her face.  The representations of events gone by didn’t call out to be displayed on a regular basis, nor were they as clean and crisp as the shots taken with her high-tech digital camera.  And yet, these prints, lacking focus and out of date, were special to her because of the moments in her life that they recalled.

The picture at the top of her stack constantly brought a smile to her face.  There she was, wearing Patrick’s college jacket, while he stood there looking endlessly rugged in his muddy jersey, shoulder pads, and trademark grin.  She had often teased him about bleaching his teeth, but he repeatedly claimed that the pearly whites she saw were the teeth he had been born with.  Nancy didn’t know whether to believe him or not, and back then she hadn’t cared.  Her boyfriend was attractive, charming, and athletic.  She thought she had hit the jackpot.

Patrick had played the role of significant other quite well.  He had taken care of her when her appendix had almost ruptured on their ski trip in the mountains.  Patrick had carried her in his arms without complaint for the two miles it had taken them to get to a car, and then he had braved a snowstorm to get her to a hospital.  After all that, he stayed by her side, never sleeping while she recovered from surgery.  Whenever Nancy yearned for the Patrick of yesteryear, she always brought up those three days that he took care of her without a thought to himself.  Of course, that had been early in the relationship.

The trouble started around three months into their romance.  Patrick was becoming quite the star on the field.  He was already a prominent law student, now he was becoming an unbeatable player on the field.  He liked it when crowds of people gathered around and proclaimed how spectacular he was.  His professors praised him, the college kids cheered him, and the women were especially appreciative of having Patrick nearby.

Homecoming of their senior year was when Nancy knew she had officially lost Patrick.  She looked at the faded photograph in her lap.  There she stood, modeling her dress in her bedroom, entirely alone.  That was exactly how the night had ended.  In between the times of reflection there had been no longing gazes or kissing.  Nancy had to admit even now that the Patrick she remembered had looked especially dashing in his tuxedo, complete with red cummerbund and bow tie.  Nancy had cut his hair only a week ago.  He was, to all eyes in the dance hall, perfection.

The problem arose when Patrick left his pristine decorum in the back seat and let his hormones do the driving.  Patrick and the head cheerleader shared a wild dance while Nancy went for punch.  The football player showed off his fancy feet with a sorority girl as Nancy visited with her friends.  Tired of waiting for her boyfriend to glance her way, Nancy drove herself home.  Patrick hadn’t noticed.  He had somehow managed to hold two female fans inappropriately close as he pranced about with a girl on each arm.  Nancy never cut a rug with Patrick on the floor that night, but three hours’ worth of other females did.

Their relationship had only deteriorated from there on.  Nancy would wait outside the library for Patrick to meet her.  Late at night he would call with an excuse about an unexpected practice while giggles resonated in the background.  A promise to pick her up from lab and take her to dinner turned into a story about how the gasoline meter in his car had stranded Patrick in the middle of nowhere.  Nancy questioned him on how he had managed to be in the boonies when his roommate had claimed he was studying in the library.  Patrick bristled and yelled.  “Are you calling me a liar?”  Nancy had affirmed that she was.

Patrick had turned uncomfortably silent at the accusation.  Nancy had replied in a single sentence.  “One day, you’re going to realize what happens when you don’t treat people right.”  After a year of dating, those fourteen words effectively ended their relationship.

One large photograph sat at the bottom of the box.  The edges were curved and the picture was forever curved and warped.  The image of the graduating class in their green robes fit in the box about as well as the two thousand students had fit in a “neat group” on the football field.  Naturally, Patrick was in the center of the group, his full physique visible to the camera.  Throngs of beautiful women and robust men surrounded him.  Nancy had been off to the rightmost area towards the back.  Her arms were around two women that she still had coffee with every month.

Looking back, Nancy couldn’t muster up too much bitterness.  She had been swooned and enjoyed it.  For a time, Patrick had made her feel attractive and desired.  No matter what injuries the past had brought up, there had been plenty of good memories.  Patrick had been an excellent kisser.  He had looked great with his shirt off.  And there was that kind and affectionate Patrick that she had known at the beginning of their relationship.  She would still cherish that part of the man, even if his character had lacked later on.  If anything, Nancy would say that they started out having the time of their lives.  She saw no reason to diminish that fun with the harsher incidents that had come later.  With that, Nancy closed the lid on the past and pulled open the newspaper.

There, with a few more wrinkles in his face but still with that engaging smile, was Patrick.  He wore a black suit, white shirt, blue tie, and a look that exuded confidence.  The caption beneath his photograph told another story.  “Senator Patrick Helmswid; seen here moments before he was brought up on charges of embezzlement and campaign fraud.  The Senator dismissed the claims as ‘misunderstandings’, and promised that he and his lawyers would soon clear up matters to all parties’ satisfaction.”

Oh Patrick, Nancy thought to herself as she shook her head.  You really haven’t changed.

“Honey”, she called out to the man putting up decorations on their Christmas tree.  “Come see what that silly ex of mine has done now.”  Nancy had learned from her past a while ago and had found a life she liked better.  Patrick would, as always, change at his own pace.

The King (Kong) of Skyscraper Cleaning

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 King (Kong) of Skyscraper Cleaning

Good things never last Mr. Dehnam.” –King Kong (2005)

King Kong sat at the window of The Briar Patch and sipped from his bucket-sized shot glass.  The piña colada was much too small for his tastes, but it was all that Br’er Rabbit had in stock.  Unfortunately there was a giants’ family reunion not too far away.  The behemoths had not only taken up all the extra-large, reinforced stools inside the tavern, but they had helped themselves to all the super jumbo glasses as well.  Terrific, Kong thought to himself.  One more surprise in my stinkin’ life.

Br’er Rabbit couldn’t stand having his curiosity unrequited.  In what appeared to the other patrons to be a rare show of kindness, Br’er Rabbit closed up the bar and walked outside.  He looked at the giant gorilla seated on the dry ground.  A few stalwart blades of grass grew here or there, but most of the landscape was as dismal and depressing as Kong’s furrowed brow.  That’s the way things are when our dreams don’t quite go our way.  The rain may fall and grow our hope for another day, but in the meantime we’re left sitting outside and squinting at the harsh sun.

Kong took another gulp of his drink and looked down at Br’er Rabbit.  Normally, a creature so small would have been beneath his notice.  But Br’er Rabbit was not just any animal.  As the host, and with a following that gave him presence, Br’er Rabbit cast a shadow as big as Kong’s; perhaps even bigger.

Finally, Kong stared the rabbit right in the face.  The bartender let his hind leg scratch behind his ear as he looked at the massive mammal quixotically.  Seeing Kong focusing on him, Br’er Rabbit put down his foot, tilted his head to one side, and twitched his nose.

“What?”  Kong was never known for his patience, even on his better days.

“Now I don’t mean no disrespect.  If a critter wants to drink itself into a stupid, I can certainly accommodate that.  I was only wondering what’s got you all worked up today.  You’ve been throwing back drinks like I haven’t seen any man or creature do in quite some time.”

“I feel like drinking.  Is that so wrong?”

“I reckon I just told you that I was happy to provide drinks.  Only I can’t seem to figure it all out.”

“What’s so hard to understand”, Kong asked.

“I don’t quite know how to ask this.  I mean, I’ve seen you ‘round here several times.  Now it’s gotten to that point where it’s a little awkward to ask, if you follow my drift.”

“Spit it out!”  The gorilla slammed his massive fist onto the ground as a show of his impatience.  Br’er Rabbit was tossed up twenty feet in the air from the blow, but he landed comfortably enough.  Being surrounded by larger-than-life creatures who liked to drink had only quickened his reflexes.

“The thing is”, Br’er Rabbit continued.  “I heard it told that you were dead.  You went and made your debut as the Eighth Wonder of the World and all that, and then you fell off a skyscraper.  Splat.  Isn’t that how it happened?”

The gorilla handed Br’er Rabbit an empty bucket and shook his head.  “You of all people should know that dead never really means dead for us.  They want to tell our story again, so there we are.  If we aren’t alive in their story, then they won’t retell it.”

“Now I’ve certainly found that to be true”, Br’er Rabbit conceded.  “I still think there might be a little more to your tale.”

King Kong only grunted and snorted out of his two gigantic nostrils in response.  Br’er Rabbit ducked and tried to avoid the gust that flew towards him.  Snot blown on a forest creature was immensely disgusting, no matter how big or small it was.

“I tell you what”, Br’er Rabbit said after he checked himself over and found he was still clean.  “I’ll get you five more pina coladas if’n you’ll just tell me what’s depressing you so much today.”

“Make it six”, Kong declared.

“Fair enough.”

“You heard my story more or less correctly.  I fell.  The story itself is nothing new.  A woman led me to get carried away, caught me up in a worthless feud, and then I ended up with nothing.  Word is that she’s doing fine for herself.  Hurmph.”

Kong began to motion for a drink, but Br’er Rabbit just stood there.  Apparently payment would wait until after all services had been rendered.

“I, of course, took that mighty tumble”, Kong continued.  “What they didn’t mention however, was that I didn’t die.  The darn fools didn’t know how to check a heartbeat properly, even though I would think it would have been pretty easy for them”, he shrugged.  “Turns out my injury only left me with a concussion.

“Those humans and their logic said that it was my fault.  I was the one that had climbed all those buildings.  I was the one that had caused all the ruckus, so I should have to make amends.  Also, they knew they didn’t have any jail cells or warehouses big enough to hold me.  Plus they could never manage my food bill without a public outcry on ‘wasteful spending’.  This government official told me that I would have to work off my debt to society.  ‘You like to climb buildings so much’, the man said.  ‘You are now sentenced to wash every window on every building for the next ten years’.

“That’s how things are now.  I can’t swim home because it’s too darn far.  I can’t get a day off because they keep raising more and more structures every day.  As soon as I’ve cleaned off a building and made my way around town, the first few are dirty again.  It’s an endless cycle, Rabbit.  Plus, I always have to start at the top and work my way down.  If they catch so much as one toe-print on their fancy windows, they make me clean the whole thing all over again.”

Pic from WPClipart

“How long can it really take you to clean one skyscraper?”

“If I were doing it my way, I’d be done in a matter of minutes”, Kong answered grouchily.  “The landlords; they won’t let me scurry up and climb how I want.  They say their buildings weren’t made to support my weight. The higher-ups complain that if I make dents in their cheap concrete that the bill will have to come out of my salary since their insurance doesn’t cover giant gorilla feet.  I tried to get them to submit their claims as an ‘act of god’, but apparently the agencies all updated their policies for New York City.  I have my very own exemption”, Kong said with a sigh.

“Instead I have to rig up a series of ropes and safeties for every building.  I’m faster than any other window washer, but I’m not an authentic gorilla.  A real gorilla wouldn’t stand for this”, Kong protested.  “A real gorilla would be set free and allowed to swing by vines, not safety lines.  I’d be free to mate and growl, not tethered up in some ugly harness that rides up and pulls on my fur.  Stupid city people”, Kong snarled.

“How many years do you have left?”  Br’er Rabbit was already forming an idea in his mind.

“Five”, Kong answered.  “It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just get a vacation.  I’d like to go out by the ocean and splash in the water.  Maybe make my way down the seaboard and live up the Florida scene.”

“So why don’t ya?”  Br’er Rabbit rubbed his ears together excitedly.  “Why don’t you hire someone to clean windows for you?”

“Go on now”, Kong growled.  “Who can possibly cover me?”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but they’re not interested in your size.  It’s your speed that they really cherish, right?”

“Yeah”, Kong answered.  He took his hairy fingers and scratched the top of his head.

“What you need is someone who is an expert climber; someone who likes a challenge.  You, King Kong, need a guy who is crafty.  A person who is willing to help you out for a little bit and is already rich enough that money is not important.  Your substitute has to be a guy who likes a thrill every once in a while.”

“Br’er, you’re talking funny.  What sort of thinking are you working on down there?”

“I’ll tell you King Kong, but I gotta do two things first.  Oh, and of course there’ll be a minor finder’s fee for my services”, Br’er Rabbit said with a grin.

Public domain in the U.S. due to age

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.  First, I’m gonna go in and make you a few of those piña coladas I promised you.  Then I’m going to call up a regular customer of mine.  He gives me a great bargain on goose eggs.”

Br’er Rabbit headed inside.  He rubbed his paws together and chuckled with excitement.  “Yes, I think ol’ Jack is just the man we’re looking for.  Surely he can climb ropes just as well as stalks.”

Technologically Challenged

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.

Technologically Challenged

Technology enables man to gain control over everything except technology.” –unknown

Harvey had been lied to all his life.  Growing up, his parents had waxed on about the inventions of the world making his life easier.  “Just you wait”, his dad had said.  “There will be countless advancements that will increase productivity.”  For the last ten years of school, the message had been echoed over and over.  “Learn to master this equipment now”, his teachers and professors had demanded.  “If you figure these computer systems out you’ll be better off.”  Harvey shook his head.

Bull, he thought to himself.  Bull and malarkey.

Harvey always harbored suspicions that the electronic world was out to get him.  The day so far only perpetuated that notion.  First off, Harvey’s wristwatch had failed to wake him up.  When his sleepy eyes finally managed to pry themselves open, they were met with a blank screen.  Despite the expensive watch’s claim that the kinetic movement of his body would power the timepiece, the clock had died.  Harvey scurried out of the house, not taking time to shower or eat, and just managed to beat the bus to its first stop.

He was a little rushed, but Harvey felt that he could still make his breakfast date on time.  However, a mile down the road, the bus was forced to stop.  The overhead power lines specially created for the transit system had been knocked down in the evening’s storms.  The bus driver was therefore required to stop the bus, get out, unlatch the feeding mechanism from the lines, drive the bus past the damaged section on gasoline, stop the bus again, reconnect to the city’s power grid, and then continue service.  Harvey hoped that this would be the last unscheduled stop that the bus would have to make, but he would soon find out how wrong he was.

Two stops later, the bus came upon a disabled man in a wheelchair.  Perhaps a regular metal wheelchair would not have been any grave concern, but this was a deluxe wheelchair.  The behemoth that transported the man from place to place might as well have been a sports utility vehicle.  Its mammoth wheels with studded tires barreled onto the bus’s ramp when it was lowered.  The multi-battery operated chair lurched back and forth at the controller’s slightest gesture.  Piercing chirps resonated whenever the one-man RV moved so much as an inch backwards or to the side.  It came as no surprise that the wheelchair was too heavy for the lift.  Upon hearing a grinding sound, the busload of people groaned.  The exertion that the electric system had undergone had frozen the ramp in its current position.  The driver tried to lower it, close it; he even got out and jumped on it.  The driver turned the bus off, toggled the switches; nothing worked.  Since the bus could not move forward with the door open, all the passengers were asked to wait until a replacement bus was available to carry them.

Finally, after Harvey had survived riding on the next vehicle, which had been unavoidably crammed full with the double load, the man arrived at the café.  He had ended up being fifteen minutes late, but he hoped that Rosalind would have the patience to understand.  He looked around at the different coffee tables outside.  They appeared to be oases of calm.  Harvey wanted to sit on their padded seats, sip a latte, and watch the frazzled world go by.  Instead, he found himself pacing back and forth.  He leaned against a planter which once housed a tree, but now served as an oversized ashtray.  He looked back and forth for any signs of his breakfast date.  They had been talking about coffee for weeks and he was wondering if he had ruined his shot with the woman by being too late.

Finally, twenty minutes after his arrival, Harvey pulled out his phone and called up Rosalind.  Her mumbled voice was just barely audible.  Through barely comprehensible tones, Harvey managed to decipher what the woman was trying to say.  She had apparently been kidnapped to a work party that had gone late into the night.  She had sent Harvey an e-mail from her phone cancelling their breakfast date.  However, due to the service coverage in the bar, the message might not have sent.  “Either way”, Harvey commented, “I only check my e-mails in the afternoon.”

Giving up on any pleasantries occurring before work, Harvey hopped on another bus and headed to work.  The bus worked perfectly.  There were no expected stops.  Harvey dared to believe that perhaps technology was on his side.  Then someone from the next bus depot joined him.  Seated snugly on the bench seat next to him, a woman listened to music on her phone.  She wore earplugs, but Harvey would never have known the difference.  Every note, every word, was completely discernible as the tune blasted towards his eardrums.  He closed his eyes and tried to block out the blaring noise.

Three stops later, Harvey was at work.  He ran off the bus, accidentally pushing a few people as he went.  He found himself standing in front of the elevator doors.  Much to his chagrin, the only set of stairs was alarmed.  They were only to be used in case of emergency.  So it was dictated that Harvey stand with the huddled masses waiting for the arms of the elevator to take in the down-trodden working class.  Harvey heard the familiar ding, watched the shiny brown doors open, and stepped to the back of the elevator.  He knew to expect a long wait.

Sure enough, the elevator stopped on the second floor.  Then it ceased moving long enough to deposit fellow building-dwellers on the fourth floor.  After that came the fifth floor, the seventh floor, and the eighth floor.  Harvey closed his eyes and tried to ignore the ads that were displayed on the monitor above the button panel.  It was as if the elevator knew that he was a captive audience until the thirty-seventh floor.

Twelve minutes later, Harvey arrived at his office.  Before leaving work yesterday, Harvey’s boss had stated that he would be unreachable.  There was a closed-door meeting, complete with phone conferences and presentations, which simply could not be interrupted.  However, he assured Harvey that everything he needed for the day would be waiting in his e-mail.  Harvey turned on his computer, dreading the list of things that his demented boss thought could be achieved in one day.

Just as his monitor warmed and lit up with electric-life, Sara came along.  Harvey did not know what Sara was supposed to accomplish for the company, but he knew what role Sara relished most.  Sara liked to be the dispenser of information.  It did not matter if Sara was talking about the newest work initiative, the names of the recent hires, or what Bob from accounting did over summer break.  Sara simply wanted to spread news.  Harvey had never seen a memo or phone call that could compete with Sara’s speedy delivery.  There was no successful way to keep secrets from this woman.  Harvey tried to ignore her, but that only made her that much more interested in impressing him with the latest news.  Therefore it was absolutely no surprise when Sara clawed her overly manicured hands into the top of Harvey’s cubicle walls and stood on tip-toe to convey her wisdom.

“Hey Harvey, how’s it going.”  The woman did not pause for a reply, and Harvey knew well enough not to attempt one.  “Did ya hear about the computers.  It is really quite sad.  All the internet lines are down.  I guess there is something wrong with the sever.”

“Server”, Harvey corrected.  “It is called a server.”

“That’s what I said”, Sara glared back through her grandmother pink-glasses.  Harvey had seen uglier frames before, but never on a person’s face.  Most visually repellant frames had the decency to stay on the spin rack in the stores.  Sara was the only one that actually gave them a chance to show their hideousness in public.

“Do they know when the server will be up again?”

“Oh, it won’t be until later.  They told us that we should just assume it’ll be out all day.  I guess there’s some sort of power sugar that got knocked out by the storm or something.”

“Surge”, Harvey corrected.  “Power surge.”

“Right, that’s what I said”, Sara replied.  “How’re we supposed to get any work done?  I mean, I’m an important person in this organization.”

Harvey gathered a few files and held them in his arm as he stood up.  “I’m sure you’ll manage to be just as productive today as you are on any other day.”

Leaving Sara looking confused, Harvey headed to the back hall.  He knew a secret.  Over an inter-office bowling game, a maintenance man had taken Harvey into his confidence.  They were located so high up in the building that the fire alarms were largely overlooked.  Someone had taken the liberty of disabling the door sensors.  Harvey had not directly asked, but the way the maintenance fellow talked and winked, he knew who had taken that liberty.  And today, it was going to be Harvey’s key to freedom.

Harvey opened the door, made sure no one saw him, and climbed the last two flights of stairs.  He opened the door to the roof and breathed a sigh of relief.  No one else was about this early in the morning.  In the summer elaborate parties were hosted on the roof.  Railings had been installed and there was even an awning attached to the access stairwell.  Around lunchtime, a crowd gathered to have lunch and enjoy the view.  But today Harvey was early enough to be the only one around.

He breathed in the fresh air.  The skyscraper was on the edge of the city.  From his spot, Harvey could see a few buildings around him, but mostly it was the ocean that filled his view.  The overnight storm had cleared away nicely.  All the scenery had been wiped cleaning from the wind and rain.  He found a dry chair, sat down, and pulled the files from their folders.  He sat, looking at paper copies, resting in a seat with no controls or buttons, and read by the sun in the sky.  This, Harvey felt, is how simple it is supposed to be.

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