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.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

Howdy.

No disrespect to the Weekly Writing Challenge, but I have nothing to say about Occupy Wall Street.  Zilch.  I can’t think of a fun/ cute/ amusing story.  So I’m rebelling (again).  This time I’m responding to the photo challenge.  I know!  You say dogs, I say cats!  You want cereal, I serve you oatmeal!

Regardless, this is one of my favorite photos.  Maybe I’ll write a story today too.  Maaaaybe.

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.

A Suitable Attraction

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 Suitable Attraction

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” -Fydor Dostoevsky

Pic from Wikipedia

Celeste watched as the water fountain rushed almost to the point of over-flowing.  The brim of the stone-walled bowl tried to contain all the demands that were forced upon it, but the supplier just sending more and more liquid its way.  Celeste decided that the splashes that occasionally hit the ground were not the bowl’s fault.  The poor fountain was simply overworked and overtaxed.  She knew how it felt.

In forty minutes, Celeste was to give a presentation to her supervisors and decision makers.  It was her job to persuade everyone in the room that the funding they were considering allowing her would make their company more profitable.  Celeste was mostly concerned about the extra staff that the money would pay for.  She was doing the work of three people and wanted to share it with at least one other.  The problem was that Celeste wasn’t very successful at singing for her supper.  She had tried to hire support staff for several years and this was the first time that the board had shown signs of willingness.  If she failed this afternoon, Celeste would have to wait at least another year to ask for help.  She would never last that long with the work load that had in mind for her.

That was how the woman in her mid-twenties found herself at the park.  It was only a five minute walk from work and Celeste appreciated the congenial nature of the area.  Women who couldn‘t have been much older than her walked by with their double-wide strollers while talking on their phones.  An old woman walked an excited dachshund on the leash.  Behind the hunched over woman with the purple hair and the excitable pup came a man with bony arms, a loose plaid shirt, and a John Deere cap that was too big for his pale head.  He smiled and waved as his wife called for him to catch up.

Even the squirrels were friendly.  Most of the creatures would scurry away and hide in a garbage can, but one had learned from its years spent in the park.  It stood in front of Celeste, its head cocked to one side.  Celeste stared at the squirrel.  The squirrel looked back patiently.  Celeste blinked.  The squirrel munched on something in its mouth and took a step closer to the woman’s feet.  Celeste held out her empty hands, palms open, showing that she had no treats.  The squirrel squinted.   It seemed annoyed at Celeste’s lack of people food and then ran off to climb the closest tree.

Underneath her dark blue jacket, a small watch lay comfortably on Celeste’s right wrist.  She slid her sleeve back and checked the clock.  She wanted some time to prepare a few sections, but she also desired to be outside enjoying the park for as long as possible.  She brushed a small cluster of crumbs off her suit pants; the residual bits fell and mingled in the tall blades of grass.  She saw with relief that her white blouse was still clean and crisp and her straight blonde hair was free of leaves and tangles.  Celeste was a picturesque executive, properly poised and attired to take charge of the meeting room.

Of course, the situation wasn’t meant to last.

Celeste saw the unexpected variable in her lunch break as it barreled towards her.  She only had time to cry out, “Watch it!“  After that, Celeste was knocked backwards by a bike messenger.  She felt herself being lifted into the air.  A second or two later, she came crashing back down to the ground.  If Celeste had been in control of the situation, she probably would have liked to land on the soft patch of grass that was only inches away.  Instead, she collided on the concrete at the base of the fountain.  She slid along her bottom and felt the concrete and rocks scratch up her posterior.

“I’m so sorry!”  The bike was hastily tossed aside and the operator leapt to his feet.  “I didn’t see you, and there was this kid running in front of me so I had to veer so I wouldn’t… oh man.  I’m so sorry.”

“Ow”, Celeste replied.  She struggled to her feet.  Her hands had been scrapped by the impact, but most of the injury was to her bottom.  “Ow, ow, ow”, she repeated as her injured muscles protested and complained with each movement.  Even with the biker’s hand helping her up, she still felt the pain shoot along her body.

“Are you okay?”

Celeste raised herself to her full height.  Her jacket had scratched cuffs so she took it off.  The blouse had held up remarkably well.  Okay, Celeste thought to herself.  It isn’t ideal, but the top works without the jacket.  She adjusted her white gold chain necklace and freed the lingering strands from their awkward perch in front of her nose.  I can fix this, Celeste reasoned.  The sound of children laughing around her woke Celeste from her confidence boosting.  Now the small ones were pointing as they giggled.  Worse, they were pointing at her.

“Oh, man”, the biker replied.  “Uh, your pants… well, they didn’t make it.”

Eyes widening, Celeste reached for her backside.  Where the dark fabric had once covered, there was now only undergarment.  Horrified, Celeste reached lower until she discovered that, much like the pajamas in Norman Rockwell paintings, the seat of her pants was now a flap that exposed that precious area below the waist.  Even the loose material was torn into strips.  Celeste threw her jacket around her waist and tied the sleeves in front of her midsection.

“That’s great.  Freakin’ great.  Son of a dadgum, mother-lovin’, horse poop pile of squat.  Crud.”

“I really am sorry”, the biker apologized yet again.

“You!”  Celeste turned upon the man intent on having a focal point for her anger.  “You did this!  You and your bike with no brakes and your no-steering!  What the sam hill!”

“I’m so sorry!  I didn’t do it on purpose, I swear!”  The man took off his helmet and revealed a pained expression.  The embarrassment and shame on his face was as clear as the skin on his shaved head.  “What can I do?”

“Do?!  Do?  There’s nothing to do.  I have to give a presentation in…”  Celeste paused to look at her watch.  The result horrified her.  “Twenty minutes!”  The torment of it all was wearing on Celeste.  “There are no clothing stores in a park!  I have people to impress!  What am I supposed to do?”

“Uh, I know where you could get some new pants.  Or maybe a dress.  I guess it would depend on you.”

Celeste’s brown eyes which had previously been fully visible in excitement and frustration now slammed into thin slits of determination.  “Don’t you dare mess with me.”

“I would never…  Look, I just live in that apartment right over there.”

The woman followed the man’s finger and saw a small three-story brick building near the border of the park.  It was nothing fancy, but it added a quiet charm to the open area.

“I’m so happy for you”, Celeste replied.  “Congratulations on living nearby.  How does that make it better?  You have a mall in your apartment?”

“No, a closet.”

Strange and worrying notions started to swirl around Celeste’s head.  She began to back away slowly from the man she had been focusing her anger on.

“No!  It’s not like that”, the man laughed.  “I live with my sister.  She’s about your size.”

“So, you don’t just keep a closet full of women’s clothes in your room.”

“No.”

“You aren’t some weird guy that injures people and then lures them back into your abode so that you can lick their hair or wax their fingernails?”

“What?”

“There are people”, Celeste defended.

“Where?  Where are there people like that?”

“I saw a special on it.”

“Like a news broadcast?”  A smile was introducing itself to the man’s otherwise bare face.

“Not exactly”, Celeste responded.

“What exactly?”

“Okay, technically it was a movie.”

“Uh huh.”

“On HBO”, Celeste said quieter.

“Got it.”

“But it said it was based on true events!”

“They all say that”, the man replied with a laugh.

“I guess they do”, Celeste said begrudgingly.  She shrugged.  “All right, so that may have been a little paranoid.  I’m sorry; this whole thing has thrown me off.”

“No, I’m the one who’s apologizing today.  You’re allowed to be cautious.  But the offer still stands.”

Celeste considered her options.  Either way, she would have to get back to work soon.  If she passed up the offer, she would have to go back dressed like…  Celeste didn’t know what she was dressed like, but it wasn’t someone with the authority to hire more staff.  Without more suitable attire, there really was no point in attending the meeting.

“All right.  I’ll head to your place.  But I have mace in my purse!  Any funny business and you’ll be the one looking for help.”

“Understood”, the man said as he jogged towards the building and motioned for her to follow.  “Despite the initial onslaught you incurred, I really do bring tidings of peace and good will.”

“Sure”, Celeste said as she picked up the pace and thanked her shoes for being flats.  “You’re a winning example to the U.N. for how to exude warmth and decorum.”

The biker pulled his keys from his pocket as they ran up to the front door.  Without pausing, he threw his bike to the curb and bolted up the flight of stairs with Celeste matching him step for step.  At the top of the stairs, the man made a quick right and then unlocked the door.  He waved Celeste inside.

“Welcome to our home, sorry for the mess, no time for the tour now”, he yelled as he opened a door.  “This is Jamie’s room.  She’s out of town.  Pick something you like.”

“Your sister’s going to understand all this?”  Celeste slammed the door shut, not waiting for a reply.

“She won’t be home for another week”, the biker called through the door.  “Besides, she owes me two months’ rent.”

Celeste made sure the door locked and then set her eyes on the closet.  The first things that met her eye were swimsuits and exercise gear.  The articles of clothing would certainly make an impression on the older, male members of the board, but not in the way that she would like.  Brushing past bathrobes and sweaters, Celeste started to get frustrated.  She had ten minutes.  All she wanted were dress pants.  Something resembling professionalism would be great, but she wasn’t finding anything close.  Next up came what she could only assume were bridesmaids dresses.

“Doesn’t your sister ever wear work clothes?”  “I mean, what is with her closet”, Celeste yelled to the hallway.

“She’s a swim instructor”, the man replied.  “We don’t really go for fancy too often.”

“Well every once in a while wouldn’t hurt!”  Celeste almost stopped to consider if she could make a wedding party-reject work, but she continued digging.  Finally, at the back of the closet, she found it.

A tan dress hung in the closet.  In contrast to the gaudy and skimpy clothes around it, the dress was a true standout.  Even in a department store, Celeste would have picked this sleeveless dress.  It was work appropriate, yet elegant.  The shoulders were covered and there was a square cut to the neckline.  The folds and lines hugged the waist casually; not in a confining or suggestive way.  The hemline appeared to reside just above the knees and allowed for brisk walking, which Celeste would need on her way back.

“It’s pretty quiet in there”, the biker called in.  “Does that mean you found something?  Or have you taken to sneaking her television out the window to your accomplice?”

“No”, Celeste answered back.  “I’m actually just trying to get this mattress out the window without opening it all the way.”  She tossed her purse aside yanking off her skirt and blouse as she kicked her black shoes aside.  Her eyes locked in on the hanger which she quickly removed.  She pulled the dress over her head and thanked whatever power above that the dress wasn’t strapless.  Somehow, someway, this perfect dress fit Celeste like it was made for her.  She kicked her shoes back on, grabbed her purse, and threw the door open.

The biker who had been leaning on the opposite wall stumbled to stand up.  “Uh… wow.”

“Zipper”, Celeste demanded as she walked towards him.

“What?”

“Zipper!”  Celeste lifted her hair above the base of her neck and pointed to the back of the dress.  “I need you to help me with the zipper.”

“Oh, right”, the biker said as he moved closer.

Celeste stood impatiently waiting for the final stage to be complete.  Nothing happened.  She was about to turn around when she felt the biker’s hand rest clumsily on her right hip.  Celeste swore she heard a gulp of nervousness from behind her.  The other hand slowly raised the zipper up to its topmost resting spot.  The right hand remained on her hip.

Celeste turned, putting her hand on the biker’s.  She stopped for a moment, facing him, and enjoyed the half embrace of his arm.  “Thank you”, she said kindly.  “I’ll bring your sister’s dress back after my work day.  She’ll never even know I borrowed it.”

Running towards the stairs, Celeste heard a voice call after her.  “I really wish you wouldn’t”, the man replied.

“What?”  Celeste stopped at the foot of the stairs and looked up.  “Why not?”

“You… I… you can’t bring that dress back to my sister.”

Celeste looked at her watch impatiently.  Only six minutes remained.  “Of course I have to.  Why wouldn’t I?”

The biker started to hurry down the stairs, his hand rubbing anxiously on his shaven dome.  “I couldn’t take that.  My sister in that dress; she’s pretty enough.  But you?  I… I’ve never…  Look, that dress wouldn’t be right for her.  Not after the way you wear it.”

“So”, Celeste said cautiously, “I look okay?”

“Stunning.”

“Professionally stunning or corner of Third and Boston at two a.m. stunning?”

“Oh, the first one.  I’d sign whatever contract you’re negotiating.”

“I actually don’t deal with…”  Celeste stopped herself.  “Thank you.”  She looked at the stranger for the first time and took him in.  “In all this craziness I don’t think I ever got your name.”

“Bryan”, he replied.

“Well, Bryan.  If you won’t let me give back the dress then maybe we could go to dinner.”

Bryan stood stock still.  “After all I did to you, you want to go to dinner?”

“Why not?  The first part was an accident.  A painful one”, she said as she rubbed her bottom, “but an accident nonetheless.  Ever since then you have been the perfect gentleman.  Going out of your way to help me, apologizing the whole time; it isn’t something most people would do.”  She stepped forward and rubbed her hands on his head.  “And I like bald guys.”

“Seven?”

“Seven”, Celeste said as she pecked him on the cheek.  “I’ll meet you here”, she called out as she burst out the door.

Celeste sprinted across the grass to her office building.  She had four minutes until the meeting officially started.  She thanked her paranoid nature for setting up the meeting room before her lunch break.  The breeze blew her hair about, but Celeste paid it no mind.  She was enjoying herself.  She might not be a great health buff like Bryan’s sister, but she enjoyed a run now and then.

Celeste couldn’t help but grin.  She was going to own that room.  She was going to show how confident she felt and it would come across in her presentation.  The men and women that she answered to would see how well-thought out her plan was and give her the staff she needed.  Her office rose into view as Celeste covered the distance quickly.

At the street outside her work, she made sure to pause for any oncoming cars or bicycles.  Seeing nothing to impede her travel, Celeste darted across.  She was already getting excited for her victory dinner that evening.

Hats Off to the Hardy Adventurer

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.

Hats Off to the Hardy Adventurer

Travel develops a man’s mind, especially his imagination.” -unknown

Excitement and far off places were only dreams for some pieces of clothing.  For the brown fedora, they were a part of everyday life.  The brown fedora had survived tropical storms as they had whipped and battered it, but never succeeding in removing it entirely from its owner’s head.  The scorching sun had beaten down on the brown fedora’s brim, forcing the explorer to take off the hat for a moment.  However that was only to wave the brown fedora back and forth as a makeshift fan.  The brown fedora was rugged, intrepid, and had lived a life that all the other denizens of the local haberdashery envied.

Pic from Wikipedia

The credit belonged to the owner.  He was an archaeologist and a respected one at that.   Even when teaching his college courses he managed to drag traces of the sand and mud of the world with him.  The girls in their tiny desks would forego their notes so that they wouldn’t have to take their eyes off the man.  His self-mocking tone and passion for adventure held their attention up until that very last minute of the class when the young admirers reluctantly left his magnetic presence.  Any hat that resided on the head of this exciting individual had to maintain an element of mystique at all times.  Fortunately for the brown fedora, it reveled in such demands.

If the brown fedora had been tossed aside whenever trouble arose, it might not have loved the archaeologist as much as it did.  Though somehow, the man always seemed to keep the brown fedora nearby.  When an ancient tomb wall was slamming down and poisonous projectiles were flying through the air with deadly intent, the owner still took a few precious moments to grab for the brown fedora and hurriedly replace it atop his hair.  When the man rushed through a raging river and the rain was pouring down on him, he continued to cling to the brown fedora.  The hat dripped and ran dark with endless moisture.  It could not fulfill its purpose of keeping the great explorer dry.  Yet the owner only shook off the excess water and wore it once again.

There had been fires.  A windstorm had thrown debris and sand all around.  Lightning had lit up the creases and wrinkles which had been added to the brown fedora with years of harsh living.  And of course, there was the relentless desert heat that faded and tormented the brown fedora.  In spite of all that, the man’s treasured accessory showed up for each trek across the globe.

The fun times about town had been plentiful too.  When strutting around shirtless for his cherished mate, the scrappy man had doffed his shirt but kept the brown fedora on.  Later, when the man and his mate strolled across the campus, he in his suit and she in her white dress and her own lovely hat; the brown fedora continued to look rugged and stalwart in the afternoon sun.  Walking around the cool halls of academia, the brown fedora knew that the professor would place it on the highest perch and let it take in the sights.

Yet, with all the risks that the pair had weathered, there remained a jealousy that the brown fedora could not escape.  There was another that hogged the spotlight.  The brown fedora felt that its role as a head-coverer was responsible for at least part of the man’s coolness.  The brown fedora thought that it brought enough style and practicality to the globe-trotting that the man wouldn’t need any other accessories.  The owner felt differently.  For while the brown fedora got to ride along every day in any region, he knew that the man depended on another item when things really got tight.  The brown fedora didn’t make any fascinating sound effects, not like that ratty old rope did.  The brown fedora couldn’t escape the truth.  If the seeker of artifacts were to tell of his most valuable tool of the trade, the brown fedora was well aware that the owner valued his bullwhip over everything else.  That included the always loyal brown fedora.

Rambo’s Pain

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.

Rambo’s Pain

Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash.  That one is the cat.  If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” –Mark Twain

Rambo hobbled across the floor.  He had suffered a grave injury; one which he would never fully recover from.  Rambo had been scratched, scraped, and attacked before.  This time was different.  He could feel the powerful drugs that had been administered by men in face masks starting to wear off.  Rambo was still groggy, but he was conscious enough to comprehend what had been done to him.  Rambo looked at his fresh scar and howled.  It is a cruel fate indeed to have a cat “snipped”.

You want to cut -what- now?

Rambo walked through his home with illusions floating about him.  He suddenly felt the need to run up to the kitchen counter, meow, and run back to the bathroom.  He wasn’t exactly sure what mystery force was out to get him, but he let the delusions dictate his behavior for the moment.  Of course, once he stopped scurrying about, he realized the price of his exertion.  His front paws were just fine, but Rambo’s hind legs had a stinging pain that was exacerbated by his antics.  The result was a slightly rhythmic tone in his mind with every span of ground he passed.  As his paws went “step step, step step”, his nerves answered back “fine-Ow!, fine-Ow!”.

The newly butchered cat tried to figure out what he had done to deserve such a cruel punishment.  Yes, he had lobbed his fair share of hairballs onto the carpet.  It was summer, it was hot, and his fur still needed to be maintained.  What else was a cat to do?  That wasn’t the sort of activity that would be hindered by having “those” organs removed.  Perhaps his owners were jealous of the attention he had lavished upon the next door cat.

He couldn’t help what came naturally to his him.  They were called instincts for a reason.  And Rambo had always had a thing for Siamese felines.  He was just being neighborly.  Humans, they just didn’t understand.

Go. Away.

At last, the sun began to shine in the perfect way.  Rambo knew that there was still one treat left in his life.  There would be no more associating with the finer residents of his species.  No more frolicking.  And running after anything, be it mouse or dust bunny, was simply out of the question until he healed up.  But there was one hope for enjoyment in the cat’s life.

Rambo settled on a warm spot of carpet as the afternoon sun lulled him back to sleep.  Rambo the mighty would not be denied this one final comfort.  After all that had been taken from him, the cat just wanted to lay in the sunbeam and be the master of his small domain.

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