Sometimes They Do Not Make It

The school year was 75% complete. Young Steven and his brother Davie, two years older than him, were helping their mother unpack boxes after school. The three of them moved into their new apartment, recently, due to an explosion Davie accidentally caused in their old apartment. The boys and their mom were lucky to live through the experience unharmed.

“You guys are driving me crazy,” said their mother. “How?” asked Davie, “We are just doing what you told us.” “Well, for now, you guys can go outside and play. Be back before dark, and I’ll have dinner ready.” The boys did not attest to this and immediately made it to the door, closing it behind them politely, to hike three stories down.

“We don’t have a front yard; we have a sidewalk with a street,” observed Steven. “Let’s check out what’s behind back,” said Davie, “We may have the time to do some exploring.” Davie was in the 9th grade, Steven in the 7th. They ran around to behind the apartment building. It was a massive structure with twenty-one apartments. Each with four rooms, 2.5-baths, and made with light pink bricks. There was a small field and a wooded area nearby, also.

The boys marched right into the woods, as the trees were sparse. After some time they found some railway tracks and stopped to rest. “I found an old rusty spike!” said Steven. “Just leave it alone,” said Davie, “There are probably a ton of them around here.” The two boys sat on a big square concrete block about twelve yards away from the tracks, wondering how often the train comes.

On the other side of the tracks, there was a small creek just wide enough to scale. The creek ran parallel to the tracks. More woods and an overgrown field could be seen off to the left. Time slipped away gently. The boys talked about girls and school, tossing small pebbles into the creek across from the tracks. Only a single small tossed pebble could make ‘circle ripples,’ which reflected overhung trees in an amazing way.

Little Davie was a child prodigy, just as Steven – Davie still had the ‘brains;’ however, and Steven was always aware of his older brother’s natural instincts. “It is going to get dark any minute,” said Davie, “We should go back.” As the two boys stood, they heard the “Choo-choo” of a train coming. “A train!” exclaimed Steven, and as they looked down the tracks, they saw a large train was really on its way.

They waited until the engine passed them and watched its cars whiz by, one by one. “How fast do you think the train is going?” yelled Steven. “Probably about 30 mph,” replied Davie, “Let’s go.” They left the roaring train and made it back home before dark. The woods were simple enough, so there chances of getting lost were slim. The two smelly lads cleaned up for dinner, ate Spaghetti, spoke politely with their mother, and bathed and went off to bed.

Saturday finally came around and the boys woke up before dawn to watch cartoons. Their mother woke up early and cooked a nice breakfast including pancakes, sausage, and milk. “I am going to the craft store today for some fabric and stuff,” said their mother, “I want you guys to be on your best behavior, and you cannot leave this apartment until your chores are done.” “We did our chores yesterday,” said Davie, quietly, hoping they did not forget any usual chores. Steven looked to the ground, for this could mean more chores and less cartoons. Or worse. “Can we go to the craft store with you?” asked Davie. “You two had better not embarrass me,” said their mother. Excited, the two brothers got ready to go to the craft store with their mother.

Curiosity flowed through the two boys like warm milk. This part of town was an intriguing new world to them, even though the craft store, much larger than most average sized hardware stores, was only six blocks away. The brothers did what they could to stay out of trouble, once in the store. Walking down every aisle, nothing seemed to be too much of a surprise. The artist’s aisle was super awesome, and Davie saw many things he did not know much about. Then, however, the boys found the model car aisle.

As amazing as it was, the model cars did not even compare to what they found toward the end of the aisle. The hobby-rocket section. Amazed, the two boys inspected every rocket, some forty in number. The largest rockets were huge, five-foot tall models that took “D” cell engines. Stickers on rockets requiring a “C” engine or larger stated, “Must be 18 or Older to Purchase.”

Davie noticed an interesting rocket, while Steven proceeded to pretend-launch a small rocket by hand into the air. He decided not throw it; however, and put it back quickly, as an older woman looked over her glasses from over forty feet away.

“This one comes with a deploying parachute,” said Davie. “Wow,” said Steven, “What is the remote control for?” Davie read the package and said, “This rocket has ‘Track Finder’ technology. The remote helps you find the small plastic astronaut and his parachute, once he explodes into the air far above ground level. The little figurine uses a locator chip with a watch battery.” “Wow,” said Steven, “We’ll have to ask mom for it.”

They went and found their mother, who was making her fabric purchase before checking out with a few other items. She went with the boys to see the hobby-rocket section. I could not get you one of these today if I wanted to,” said their mother, “Unless you want this small one.” “We want the one with the track finder,” said Steven. “‘C’ cell engine,” said Davie, “It must be smaller than the ‘D’ cells.” “It’s marked 25% off,” said Steven, “$29.99 instead of the normal price of forty dollars.” “That’s another 25% off if the two of you can come up with $20,” said their mother. “Is that a promise?” asked Davie. “Sure,” she said. “Is that a double promise?” asked Steven, and asked, “How can we get the money?” “That is a double promise,” said their mother, “Maybe you can do some cleaning for the neighbors or a few things for allowance money.”

They made their way to the front of the store. Their mother finished making her purchases, and the boys did not mind not getting nothing whatsoever -they had goals, now. The following week the boys went out to the tracks to see if the train passed by everyday just before dark. It did.

“How are we going to come up with the money for that rocket?” asked Steven. “I don’t know,” said Davie, “All I have is the dime in my pocket. I’ll have to think of something.” “I wonder if the train would flatten the dime into a smooth silver streak on the rail?” asked Steven. “No,” said Davie, “The train will flatten the coin into an oval like a potato chip. I saw it in a Western.” “Can we try it?” asked Steven. “It’s no way to save money for a rocket,” said Davie, but he handed Steven the dime as they could see the train coming. Steven placed the dime heads up on the railroad track – the vibrations knocked it off twice. “Hurry,” said Davie, “The train is coming fast.

Steven placed the dime on the track one last time and it seemed to stay centered, tales up. He backed away in plenty of time to see the engine and 20 some-odd cars pass by – the boys even saw the caboose this time. They ran back up to the tracks and there was no dime. “Darn it,” said Steven. He and Davie looked around for the dime; Davie found it. “Wow,” said Steven, “It does look like a potato chip!” “You can keep it,” said Davie. “Are you sure?” asked Steven. “Yeah,” said Davie, “You’re my little bro. Let’s go. It’s already getting dark.”

The two jogged back home, ate, bathed, said their prayers with their mother, and went off to bed. The next day Steven was in the lunch line, inspecting his amazing coin. “What’s that?” asked one of his student friends. “It’s a potato-chip dime,” said Steven. “What’s it worth?” asked another boy. “I don’t know,” said Steven, “Its my lucky potato chip coin.” “Can I see it?” said a girl. “Sure,” said Steven, as he handed it to her. Amazed, the children studied the coin. “I’ll give you my lunch money for it,” said one of the boys, “Two dollars.” Steven would never take the offer, as the coin meant something to him, but he thought about the rocket. “Deal,” said Steven, and the boy handed him the two dollars for the potato chip dime. The girl took one last look at the coin and handed it to its purchaser.

Steven was now four dollars up and still about forty students back in the line from the cafeteria workers. As his new sidekick went to sit and inspect the coin incognito with some people already eating, Steven followed behind. “I’ll keep this four dollars,” thought Steven, “And I’ll get some more dimes.”

The idea was a fantastic one, indeed. Steven and his brother took the four dollars down the street that afternoon to the gas station. The teller would not change out their money for forty dimes, because they would need to make a purchase, first. “What if we let you keep two of the dimes?” asked Davie, and Steven laughed a little. He just could not guess the outcome of this proposition. “I’ll take it as a transaction,” said the old woman, playing along, “For these two dark green jawbreakers.” The boys were happy with the transaction and made it back home before dark, green tongued.

Their mother asked about their green tongues, and Davie said they got them from the gas station’s jawbreakers. With no further questions, the boys were in the clear. The three ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The following day the boys finished their homework. It was time for external activities. Both carrying a pocket full of dimes, they jogged all the way to the tracks to beat the train. The boys lined up all thirty eight dimes about two feet apart, eighteen on each rail. The train finally came along, and the boys gathered all but one of the dimes. It was getting dark, fast, and thirty-seven would have to do. On a mission, they returned home in an efficient manner.

Over the next few weeks, both of the boys sold the potato chip dimes to other students, making sure they (the other students) would keep it a secret so that the lunch money went unmentioned. Combined, they sold twenty-nine coins in ten days, and both brothers decided to keep four of the valuable potato-chip dimes. “How much does that add up to?” asked Steven, knowing Davie had already done the math. “$58,” said Davie, “Now all we have to do is give mom a story about how we got the money.” “That old man who sits by the gas station in front of the small convenience store, what if he bought us the rocket?” “Works for me,” said Davie, “We can split the change and speak with the old man when we see him.” They made it back as darkness settled in.

The next day, they finished their homework and went to the craft store and bought the rocket. The total was $32.24, so the boys had $25.76, or $12.88 a piece for piggy bank savings. Davie let Steven carry the rocket home in a large sack. Their mother, astonished.

“And just how did you two manage that?” she asked. “The old man by the store heard us talking about how we wanted that rocket so bad, and we could not figure out how to come up with the money. He did not have anyone in mind we could do chores for, but he bought it for us saying he would keep us in mind,” said Steven. Their mother’s eyes immediately met with Davie‘s, whose face went pale. “That’s true,” he said. “Well that sure was nice of that man,” said their mom. They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The next day was a Friday, so the boys would have to wait until the following day to try out the rocket. This did not stop Davie’s eagerness to read and learn, though. Upon finishing their homework, Davie and Steven opened the rocket box, keeping it intact, and Davie read the instructions. Steven, while playing with the little astronaut man, landed him on Davie‘s shoulder saying, “I have discovered the moon and have not a flag.” Davie continued to read.

The two eventually checked the contents of the box and even assembled most of the rocket. It was 2.5 feet tall and just under an inch in diameter. It came with a firing fuse connected to a twelve-foot long wire. The wire connected to a push-button box. The rocket also came with its own stand and of course the remote control device. The device showed distance in tenths of a mile and had a radar screen. Davie was concerned that batteries were not included. They were, though they were some cheap ones.

They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed, as always, reading some before bedtime. Davie liked C. S. S. Lewis and Isaac Asimov; Steven liked monster stories; and their mother, Danielle Steel. Steven asked his mother why she preferred Danielle Steel as opposed to Nora Roberts one time, and he received no response. “Probably the writing style or plot development,” said Davie, “The two authors really are different in comparison.”

It was Saturday morning, and the boys were up with their rocket before dawn. “Where are we going to launch it?” asked Steven, “A football field?” “No,” said Davie, “We’ll take it to the tracks. With any luck, the wind will be blowing towards the field on the other side of the creek, left of the ‘Other-Side Woods.'” “Those woods are creepy,” said Steven. “They are more dense,” said Davie, “That is why. Those shadows are darker because the trees block out most of the sunlight, even in the daytime. We’ll have to take the rocket in sections to the tracks in the box, and reassemble it once we are in the field with the stand.”

“Not yet you won’t,” their mother said, as she walked into the kitchen, “I want these dishes done and the carpet vacuumed before you two go anywhere today, and I’ll make us some breakfast.” Their mother did well. She was a secretary for a law firm downtown. The two boys did their chores and cleaned their rooms in order to leave. She fed them a bologna sandwich and a coke, and they assembled most of the rocket by its instructions. Then, after making sure they could go outside, they began a journey to the tracks.

They made it there early in the afternoon. “The wind just so happens to be blowing in opposite direction of the Other-Side Woods,” said Davie, “We are in luck. Not a cloud in the sky.” The boys crossed the tracks, skillfully scaled the stream, and walked for a while through the field. They found a decent clearing in the wild grass and stopped. They got the rocket together as well as its stand, and Davie handed Steven the ignition button. Stupefied, Steven asked, “I just push the button?” “No,” said Davie, securing the rocket’s fuse wire in its engine before backing up a few steps, “I’ll count down from five to monitor the atmosphere. When I say ‘One, go,‘ then press the button.” “Okay,” said Steven, and he held his right index finger over the button watching the amazing rocket with a great deal of attention.

“Five,” said Davie; he held a wet finger in the air to feel the wind. Steven admired the silver flame decals on the rocket along with its shining gloss-black cover paint. The rocket also had four small fins glued to its mid-section, and four larger fins glued perfectly to its lower end. “Four,” said Davie, cautiously awaiting the breeze to die a little, seeing nothing much about the peaceful field but a bird or two flying around eating gnats in the distance. Steven beheld the magnificent rocket, just waiting to press the button. “Three. Two.” There was no reason to wait. “One…” said Davie, “Go!”

Steven pressed the button and the fuse in the engine of the rocket ignited. The engine’s powder began to combust, and the rocket immediately shot up into the air, leaving a white, streaming cloud of smoke beneath its travel. “Wow!” exclaimed Steven, backing up a few steps to see it decrease in size as it climbed in altitude. “Will we see it explode the parachute?” asked Steven. “I think so,” said Davie, all eyes on the rocket, and so it did.

The children saw the rocket burst far above them, yet they could not see the parachuting astronaut figurine for a moment. Then, they thought they could see it for a second floating away. His (the figurine’s) locator chip activated and working properly, Davie‘s remote locator with radar display functioned properly, too. The two children walked further into the field to find the rocket. They saw it fall about eighty yards away from where they launched it.

They made it to the vicinity of the fallen rocket and Steven found it. “How far away is the astronaut?” asked Steven. Davie held his radar box in his right hand and pointed off to the left with his left hand, in about a 280˚ angle. “By the looks of this radar, he is 2.5 miles in that direction and may still be falling or in a tree,” said Davie. As he pointed into the far distance, they could see far down the tracks. The train was coming. “Let’s go back,” said Davie, “We’ll have to go find the astronaut tomorrow.” Steven handed Davie the rocket; they jogged back to the stand and got it; and ran to the tracks and crossed back over, safely. The train was still coming, so they put the rocket back in the box as they awaited its passing.

“Cannot we watch the train pass by?” asked Steven, “I want to count the cars.” It was starting to get dark, yet Davie said, “Okay.” The train “Choo-choo’d,” and the boys counted exactly twenty-two cars, including the enormous front engine, twenty boxcars, and its caboose. The caboose was highly similar to the ones they saw before; they were never not the same one. Steven volunteered to carry the box, and they made their way back.

Upon entering the woods, the sun had nearly fallen completely. Though remnants of sunlight were still aglow, nighttime shadows were among the trees, as well. “Let’s pick it up a bit,” said Davie, and the boys steadied their jog. Halfway through the woods, the two boys were making good time. So long as it was not pitch black outside, their mother would not be too disappointed.

Suddenly, Davie grabbed Steven bringing them both to a halt. He instinctively put his hand over Steven’s mouth and pointed to about thirty yards in front of them, in about a 25˚ angle. Steven could not see him at first, then flushed pale. “Is that a ghost?” whispered Steven. “I am not sure,” said Davie, “We could just jog by him, however I think he’s watching us.” “We are in the middle of the woods,” said Steven. “We’ll just walk by him and leave him be,” said Davie, thinking it was about the best they could do.

“No need to walk by me,” said the figure, standing right before them all of a sudden. This really freaked Davie out. “Who are you?” asked Steven, courageously, sensing the figure may not be of harm to them. “I am Death,” said the tall, handsome man. The man gleamed in the shadows of dusk, a pastel purple and white gleam, much like an angel. “We must be getting back, kind sir,” said Davie. “Oh sure,” said Death, “I know your mother is waiting. There is something you may want to know, though.” “Which is?” asked Steven. “There is a homeless man down by the tracks, about twenty feet on the other side of where you guys crossed over before shooting off your amazing rocket. He has only moments to live. That is why I am here.” “What can we do?” asked Davie. “If you manage to get a glass of water to him before he passes, he may be able to make it.”

The three ran to the apartment complex and Death waited outside. Steven brought the box to his room, and Davie hurried to get a glass of water while their mother was taking a bath. The two left and met up with Death. They jogged all the way back to the tracks by moonlight and found the dying man as he lay a ways away from the tracks on his back. Davie checked his pulse while Steven tried to get the man to drink some water. The man had a pulse, yet Steven had to open his mouth gently to pour in some water.

The plan did not go so well. The man’s eyes closed, he breathed a slight breath. He did not swallow the water. Steven closed the man’s mouth. The man died. Davie and Steven backed away from the corpse as the old man’s flesh flushed pale. The man’s spirit rose from his body, and he beheld the presence of Death. At first his draw dropped, however the old man figured out upon whom he was gazing. Death held out his hand, and the homeless man took his hand.

The boys watched as Death and the ghost of a homeless man walked hand in hand down the railroad tracks towards the moon. Steven wondered why they were not able to save the old man and wished the man swallowed the water. Death turned and spoke over his shoulder, “At least you tried, Steven,” and the two men carried on. There appeared to be a form of a doorway a long ways down the tracks. “Let’s go,” said Davie. “What about the body?” asked Steven. “We’ll tell mom he’s here,” said Davie, and the two made their way back into the dark woods.

Upon entering the apartment their mother was in the kitchen organizing things. “Mom,” said Steven, before she could ask them anything, “We found a dead man down by the train tracks.” Their mother called the authorities. The authorities found the man and asked the children a few questions. The man received a proper burial, was in the obituaries of the town paper.

It was a few days before the boys went back to the tracks to find their astronaut. It took them some time and hiking to get to it; however, with a deal of effort and a smidgen of luck, Davie was able to locate the little man and his parachute in a tree. They brought it back home, made it there before dark. They all ate, cleaned, and read for a while before turning in.

Brief Afterward

This story was inspired from the first part of Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”. If he reads this story, I hope he enjoys it, as I could not resist writing out this idea. I finished reading his book and gave it a review, which can be found on jcm3blog I found his book to be a suitable collection of prose. I would have waited to write this story upon my completion of the book, however the story came to me and I just did not want to put it off or forget it, lest it never exist. We all know of those thousands of ideas we have that may never make it to paper; I usually write the best ones of my mind in a notebook. Learn more about Stephen King on stephenking.com (which the diamond above links to) or by clicking on the double-diamonds below for his wiki page. I enjoyed this story and hope all who read it do, too. Indeed, “Long live the King.”

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Timothy’s Magic Kite

Once upon a time, a boy endured a fulfilling Friday both in April and in the third grade. During recess, he noticed how windy it was, as children played joyfully, some swaying to and fro on swings. During the bus ride home, he thought to himself, “Man, if I would have had a kite I could have flown it a hundred feet in the air on the first try.”

At the dinner table that evening, young Tim kept cautious with his manners, as if it were no common phenomenon. Upon a what seemed like a four-year wait to speak, he said, “It would have been a nice afternoon to fly a kite, today.” “Maybe if you promise to do some yard work tomorrow your father will take you to the store and buy you a kite to fly on Sunday,” proposed his mother. “I have no problem with doing some yard work,” knew Tim to refrain from objecting to, “I have always wanted to build a kite, though.”

“If you want,” said his father, “And I do plan on sleeping in tomorrow morning, you can try to build one with the slim dowels I have in the garage I usually use for cooking barbecue. Those and some left-over fabric from your mother should get you going.” Tim’s father glanced to his loving wife, and she said, “Oh sure, Honey, I have a sack of extra fabric for quilting in the side closet you are welcome to.”

Tim thought about it; he almost did not want to make the kite, simply because they said he could, wondered of his own mind. He noticed they did not again mention yard duty. “Okay if I try to make the kite tonight and sweep up the leaves in the morning?” “Sure,” said his father, “And, as the weather will probably permit, we can go to the park and fly your new kite tomorrow afternoon.” Young Tim was so excited he nearly left before eating the hamburger steak and mashed potatoes before him, as he had made sure to eat the lemon-butter broccoli first. There would have been no getting away with skipping out on that.

The meal was great and Tim politely relayed this information to his mom and thanked her and proceeded to the garage. He found the yard-long barbies and broke and tied them into a rectangular box-like structure just like he saw on a TV show one time that involved Japanese origami kites. He went and found some scissors and the fabric and went back into the garage. Young Timothy selected the most beautiful fabric, two separate partial sheets. One was dark orange with small green and yellow flowers; the other sheet was bright orange-yellow with purple and blue flowers resembling birds of paradise.

Fully constructed, Tim brought the magnificent kite to his bedside, as it was nearing ten. His brother and his sister were already asleep; Tim went and checked on his parents before saying his prayers and turning in with his amazing new kite by his bedside. In the middle of the night, Tim awoke and could have sworn he saw his kite floating a foot above the ground, as if it were dreaming of being in the sky. The boy discounted the notion. Surely he was dreaming; he went back to sleep until just before daybreak.

Upon dawn, Tim marveled over the kite as if he had never seen it before, totally impressed with its construction, durability, and overall aesthetics. He left it there; showered and changed; brushed his teeth; ate a biscuit and drank some juice; and proceeded to go sweep the leaves.

A chore it was, for the wind was strong and nearly constant. Timothy swept the entire yard, five sacks full of leaves in total. It was noon and his mother called him in for a bologna sandwich and glass of milk. She thanked him for sweeping up the yard, commending his efforts. His father woke up, showered and changed, ate, and inspected Tim’s kite. “Impressive construction,” said Walter, Tim’s father. “Thank you,” said Tim, and they drove with the kite to the park, telling Mrs. Wellington “Goodbye, I love you, We’ll be back soon.” She waved and blew them kisses as they departed.

The park was gently lit by the afternoon sun and puffy scattered clouds of its sky blue atmosphere. Adults and children played about. Some played catch, others tag, and others other games or picnicked. There were sunbathers and card players, nonchalant people existing in a happy joy. Tim and his father made a lengthy walk to a large field in the back of the park. They did not know if the thick string they brought would suffice to fly the kite yet planned to take their chances.

Tim and Walter stood about thirty-five yards apart from each other, the wonderful kite in Walter’s hands, his eyes on Tim. Tim assessed the flow of wind, deemed it an adequate constant for their endeavors. “Do you have a good hold on the string?” asked Tim’s father. “I think I have it.” “I will count to three and throw it into a rising gust.” “Okay.”

Walter counted slowly aloud to three and, while allowing the kite to catch the drag of the wind, slowly letting it go to float into the air. An astonishing amusement to young Tim, the kite (possibly magical) rose from ground level and climbed in the wind with semi-chaotic grace. Tim pulled left then right, carefully, and guided the kite into the air, higher and higher, until it was about twenty yards above the ground. “Let out some string,” called Walter, and Tim carefully let string from his hands, about six inches at a time. The flying kite amazed Walter. “We got it up there,” he exclaimed. Tim was happy and impressed, too, and saw to it that he got the kite to about fifty yards above the ground before keeping it there in close to the same position.

Many could see the kite swaying gently far above the field, and Walter began walking back to Tim. “The wind is getting stronger,” said Tim, using his strength to hold the string; “The string may break.” “Keep hold of it,” said Walter, as he was walking back to Tim, eyes on the kite. Tim wrapped the string around his hands to hold it well; his father would be there any second to take hold of the line. Just as Tim felt confident he could keep the kite in the air and the line from breaking, his feet left the ground.

Walter saw Tim lifting into the air and dove to catch him. Walter hit the ground belly first and Tim floated higher into the air. “Let go of the string,” said Walter, but Tim held on to it. By the time he could have unwound his hands, he would be over twenty feet above the ground. The kite rose into the wind, as did Tim. Walter panicked and ran to his car, only to notice he locked the keys inside.

“Hey mister,” said a young woman with a pink Volkswagen Beetle, “Hop in and we’ll follow him if we can.” Walter ran over and got into her car, as Tim soared high above them in a direction away from the park, towards the city.

Tim looked down; the breeze up there was nice. “It might kill me to see it,” thought Tim, “But this is a wonderful view of our city.” Tim could see entire residential neighborhoods, city blocks, industrial buildings, and the cars looked thumb-sized. The wind carried him on.

The young woman happened to be an excellent driver; she and Walter followed Timothy right out of the city, who was beginning to appreciate the beauty of the outskirts of town. Mostly under-developed farmland with the occasional brook, small cabin, or herd of cows, Tim tried to appreciate the view and his many blessings in life the best he could. “Dear Lord,” prayed Tim, “Please, help me land safely.”

At that very instant, as Tim was looking down into a puffy white cloud and barely able to see a field of trees below, he began to slowly descend. The driver’s name was Molly. She and Walter watched in relieved thanks that Tim was appearing to descend and that the string and kite seemed to still be intact. Tim was headed for what looked like a hundred-year-old oak tree. He descended gracefully and landed in the lower bushy limbs of the tree. Safely.

Within moments, Walter ran to his son, picked him up and embraced him, thanking the Lord above for his son’s well-being. Tim hugged his father who placed him on the ground. He shook Molly’s hand and thanked her, too. “You are one lucky child,” remarked Molly, “And that is an impressive kite.” “Thank you,” said Tim, “Cool car,” and Walter gave Molly some gas money, as they went with the kite to the pink Beetle.

They put the kite in the back seat for a relaxing ride back into the sunset falling behind their town. After some while, Molly pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. “What now?” wondered both Walter and Tim. “Is it just me or is the kite in the back seat floating in the air?” asked Molly. “It’s magic,” said Tim, and Walter kept his eyes on the road. “Oh,” said Molly, “Okay,” and proceeded to drive on down the farm road to the park.

Once back, Walter thanked Molly and called his wife and he and Tim drove home with the kite. Tim secretly thanked the Lord above for answering his prayers, and everyone lived happily ever after. Tim would never forget his times with his wonderful, magical kite.

My First Hip Hop Poem

I totally love music, art, and writing. Even poetry. There is nothing more rewarding than celebrating the beauty our language can posses within our own human limitations and sometimes even otherwise. As a songwriter, I usually enjoy writing heavy metal lyrics, as I am currently attempting to learn to play the guitar better, or more or less, the right way.

I have a couple of friends that spend part of their time attempting to produce music professionally, both can sell tracks and beats to lyricists. While I enjoy rhyming and the common notion of being grateful for being able to, I usually do not ‘wrap’ or ‘flow’ on often occasion, even if I think it is fun to do.

Nevertheless, I good friend of mine in CO who I enjoy playing chess with via the ChessWithFriends phone app, asked me to share with him a hip-hop poem. Six months ago. I told him I had no current song book but was into poetry and meter, ect. Recently, he purchased some new equipment to get his sound lab closer to what he wants it to be, a seemingly costly venture for him during these times. I am happy for him and his new female acquaintance and his dog, Blue, and hope the best for their future. He asked once more for a rhyme, even though he free-flows in front of crowds, DJs, synthesizes and mixes music, ect.

So, here is what I sent him. The shot out is for a female lyricist  heard within the Viper 2017 Drum and Bass collection found on Amazon; I like The Chemical Bros and Aphrodite…

“Gotta Love That Drum and Bass”

When I hear a good beat, I let the lyrics flow,
Listen’n ’cause there’s a rhythm, in much of the soul;
Only one way to the top, and it is understood,
cannot keep a man down, when he’s know’n he is good;
goodness to others, and love to all,
leading by principle, to watch the evil fall;
things that made her, passion and persistence,
shot out to her, a master of an instance;
chaotic forms of bedazzlement and light,
can a beat move a soul? there are those who say it might;
hip hop is fun when the gangstas be good,
listen’n to the rhythms, while I stroll through the hood;
love that drum and bass, ’cause the sounds keep me go’n,
movements of this hall always keep our blood-a flow’n.

peace – jcm3blog 🙂

A Man at the Bank

There once was a beautiful teller at a bank. She was always presentable and, without a doubt, totally attractive to many. Her name? Forea. Of course, people always asked of the origins of her name; she usually said it was Nordic.

Forea kept considerable track of her customers, not always for her own curiosity, but usually to provide the best banking services for them. Mentioning new account types and investment possibilities usually meant increases in pay for her. These things were routine.

Most of Forea’s customers were overly presentable and cleanly with their fashion. Each with a highly unusual character, they often seemed to her to be what Grammy award winners might look like in person. There was one customer; however, he came in once a month, always on the twentieth.

Mr. Murphy was his name. He often came into the bank in a white, green, dark green, or black suit. If not a suit, he, at least, dressed above “business casual.” She knew he had red hair and pale skin, totally unique attributes that would qualify him for one of her oil painting attempts.

Despite his unique attire, there was one thing that Forea simply could not figure out. All of her customers wore unique attire. Mr. Murphy, however, usually came to the bank for one reason, and that was to trade five golden coins into his USD account. This way his monthly transaction was to convert gold coins to cash. Forea wanted to know why.

She decided to ask him one day. It was the twentieth, she woke up early and got ready for work early and made it on time, as always. About mid-morning, to know surprise, Mr. Murphy walked through the huge glass doors installed in the front of the bank with a white shirt and green silk tie.

Forea gladly accepted the five gold coins and completed the transaction, as always. Barely having the time and the nerve to ask Mr. Murphy a question upon his departure, said Forea, “May I ask you something?” “Well, sure,” replied Mr. Murphy with a grin. There was no aspect of Forea that was not beautiful. “Why do you always come in on the twentieth to change in exactly five golden coins?” she asked. Said Mr. Murphy, “Well, for one, I am a leprechaun.”

Fuzz

The above is a photo of a 70’s style fuzz distortion pedal I put together. It is the most simple circuit I found on the web for a “diy” distortion pedal; there are many more circuits that are very complicated compared to this one. It sounds great. I figured out how to add an led as well as switching for bypass, which means I can play with it plugged in and choose between having fuzz distortion or not. It is a “Bazz Fuss” pedal.

Of the three switches, one connects the two jacks together and the other two turn on/off the 9v power supply (one on “+” and one on “-“). The knob is for volume. I did not add a tone knob, because tone knobs on other pedals I have experimented with did not change the sound enough to further complicate the circuit. I realize I currently have minimal knowledge of electronic circuits; I am a beginner with these notions. The three wires in the photo are the 9v wire and two 1/4” cables, one to the guitar (in) and the other to the amp (out).

Here are two video links to see how this same kind of pedal is made:  fuzz1 fuzz2. To make your own fuzz pedal, watch these videos to draw out the circuit and write down the components. You may want to check out mammoth for components if you are interested in making a pedal. A very large selection of components can be found from mouser. For dozens of awesome “diy” pedal kit options/circuits, check out guitarpcb. There is even a Pink Floyd jet pedal on that site. For the best price on an excellent temperature controlled soldering station, I suggest this one. Mine works great and heats to 300 degrees in under thirty seconds (just like it says on the box). The last three soldering irons I have used and owned do not even compare to the above mentioned soldering station, and one can even order replacement tips for it. I like the tip that looks like a cone. There are also many pedal kits, even if more common, on Amazon.

 

 

Below is the circuit  I put together and tested before deciding whether I would put it in an enclosure. I found the 1/4″ jacks for the guitar cables on Amazon.

Obviously, one would not want to build an enclosure for a circuit that does not work. This was the third circuit I tried to make for a distortion pedal and the first one that worked. I may solder together a more complicated one eventually; however, for now, I plan to spend some time with my writing and learning to play the guitar better.

If you watched the videos and looked up “fuzz pedal circuits” on bing, you will notice that the circuit above utilizes a 9v power supply. I added the three switches on my own, as well as the blue led and 470 ohm resistor. First, I added the one (switch) that connects the two jacks’ negatives, for bypass. It only worked when I unplugged the power supply, so I added the other two switches in order to be able to have it plugged in and also off, to play without distortion.

As it is, I can turn the two 9v switches on and the jack connection off to play with fuzz distortion, and turn the switches the opposite for ‘near’ true bypass (it is hard to notice any distortion when it is configured for bypass).

The circuit above may look all sprawled out. It was, and I figured out how to get the led and bypass working (which took about a week due to the small amount of time I put into it, daily) before I chose to clip the wires and shorten/bend them and re-solder the circuit. It would need to be smaller to fit into a box. I played with it; it worked; I was happy; and I decided it was good enough for a halfway descent wooden enclosure. I chose a triangular box structure idea with a light in the middle of it. It would have walnut corners and birdseye maple sides, top, and bottom.

The photo above is of the wood before I sawed it out, as well as the circuit as it was before I made it smaller. The isosceles triangle in the photo is the piece of Plexiglas I sawed out for the light. The led is bright, and the triangle does a fine job of both adding some to the looks of the box as well as dimming the light just enough.

When I bent/clipped the wiring and de-soldered certain connections in order for it to fit correctly in the enclosure, I accidentally soldered it back together wrong. It did not work, and it was not encouraging. I took a break from it for a while and then checked the circuit diagram I drew from the videos on YouTube. I found the problem and re-soldered the connection, and it worked. I used solder from RadioShack, the kind that is shiny.

For the record, the components I used are not exactly the same as in the videos. They are close enough; it works. I would suggest getting the exact components mentioned in the videos; anything else besides those may or may not work. Some components are interchangeable and some are not. The resistor is; I decided to go with a 100k resistor (the one for the circuit, not the extra one on the led) instead of a 10k, because the 10k kept giving out halfway through guitar notes. In order for it to work the best, I keep the guitar and the pedal turned up all the way, and the amp’s volume turned down to 2.2 or so. It is, as they said in the videos, a very loud pedal. It is best to have the volume all the way down on the amp when you first plug in the pedal.

The above photo is of the enclosure and the circuit. During the time of this photo, the circuit was not working; I did not have the bypass switches wired the right way, yet. Of course one could more easily add a bypass to this circuit with toggle switches; however, I did not have any and was anxious to complete the project. Here is a link to those wonderfully nostalgic power supply switches. Here is one for toggles. The copper wire I used is 24 gauge and I found it on Amazon. It can pick up radio wave interference without the enclosure, and does, so I recommend using red and black insulated wire instead.

The wood did not take me too long to saw out and sand, and I used clearcoat polyurethane on it instead of a stabilization process.

Here is a photo of the circuit after I got it working again.

You can see that the light is on. I used a liquid wood filler to correct the holes I drilled into the top of it for the 9v switches. In my design, I did not make enough room for the potentiometer and the switches, so I had to redo how I had it originally drawn. I was happy that it worked again and plan to practice chords and scales with it.

Here is a photo of the enclosure after I got the neodymium rare-earth magnets in it.

The magnets are not installed to perfection; however, they are close to it. I am impressed with the luck I had in getting them at least as close to perfectly placed as I did. I used a piece of paper to make a stencil to get them lined up right, and drilled their holes and fit them with superglue.

Was the project over? After days and days of working on it in the afternoons? No. The circuit worked great; it did everything I wanted it to do. The bottom of the enclosure fit great to the rest of the pedal. So what could have ‘possibly’ been wrong with the final project? The jacks. They bumped up against the side of the triangular box, so the cables would not connect properly when inserted. I solved the problem with a whittling tool, which means there is an extra hole in one side of the enclosure. Does it really matter? Not really, because it works great and does not really look too bad.

The tiny holes in the sides of it are for heat-release. The circuit does not really get too hot, yet I figured it a descent notion to not seal it air tight. Light does not really come out of those little holes. Even though the box is made of wood and is highly flammable, I do not intend on having it on and plugged in for a long time. If it starts smoking, I’ll unplug it. If it starts a fire, I will put it out with an extinguisher or a large wet towel. I’ve already played with it for over an hour; the circuit does not really get hot. I do recommend aluminum enclosures for building pedals; many kits come with those kinds of enclosures.

So, that is my fuzz pedal. I have spent the last few months revising my first collection of stories for a second edition of “Acoloftals”. The new edition is highly similar to the first one and includes a complete revision of this story; I made at least thirty necessary changes to the text and have revised it entirely twice, so far. That is what kept me from putting more stories on my blog, time-wise. Once it is done, I plan to write a screenplay. Here is the photo of the pedal in its distortion setting, one more time. It sounds just like the pedals in the videos. Total hard metal.

Thank you for visiting jcm3blog and have a nice day.

Thoughts on “A More Healthy Beat”

I wrote “A More Healthy Beat” for one reason -the ending. In reading about how to write stories, I often come across the same concepts more than one time. Advice for dialogue is almost always redundant, mentioning things like, “Characters should not utilize entire sentences, one character should not go on and on all the time, written dialogue presents more clarity than most every-day conversation,” ect…

Literature on writing stories always mentions plot, character, and setting development, as well as other techniques. One thing I have noticed in some of the more preferable stories that I have read was an abrupt, humorous or witty conclusion. This technique is advised by some as a near necessity for crafting stories. For this reason, I wrote this one.

I’m writing out this post; however, for another reason. Though a humorous conclusion is often applauded and enjoyed by many readers, I at times wonder if a more developed denouement is a far better choice from a literary perspective. It seems to me a simple joke or humorous play on words could be simply that, and a story should not have to include such an ending to be seen as more preferable than other stories.

To each their own, I say, on this. If you have a good idea for a story, write it out. If you can think of some form of in-depth or ironic conclusion and are worried the story may sound like a shallow joke, go ahead and write it anyway. Chances are someone will enjoy it, and you can further develop more in-depth concepts for better ideas afterwards.

Thank you for reading. 🙂

A More Healthy Beat

The night was cool and crisp and the weather was nasty. A tunneling mist blew leaves in front of the two officers, in front of an eighty-year-old street lamp in front of them. The night was also very dark in the woods across the way, except from part of the light of the street lamp. Noting the nostalgia of the old street light, the female officer looked up to its salmon glow to see its metal curls turned green from mild surface corrosion.

“Nice street lamp,” said Officer Lilac, the female, with a sniffle.

“Nice, indeed,” said Officer Attens, a large male police officer who was also her partner, “I am going into the small shop behind us to get us a coffee.”

“Okay.”

Officer Attens entered the small store, as Officer Lilac endured the scenery. They were used to policing various areas of town on foot, usually bringing in criminals during nocturnal hours.

Within moments, Officer Attens returned with a small package in his pocket and two cups of steaming coffee with sugar and creamer added.

“Thank you,” said Officer Lilac.

“No problem,” said Officer Attens, handing her her cup of coffee. He then proceeded to pull out the small package.

“What’s in the package?” asked Officer Lilac.

“The cashier said the coffee was complementary. I thought it was the uniform. He said it was complementary so long as I made a purchase. So, I killed to birds with one stone.”

“How so?”

“Well, I got us both a coffee, and I got you this.”

Officer Attens handed Officer Lilac a package of allergy lozenges.

“Why thank you,” said Officer Lilac, “I was starting to get a sniffle. What possessed you to get these for us?”

Officer Attens chuckled and said, “I am of the mind that we should be catching criminals, not colds.”

Hobby Photos

I have four photos to share. One is of the chess board I made above. The sixty-four squares are made of poplar wood. The dark squares are dipped in a polyurethane coating I had yet to experiment with. It is not translucent in any way, which I was, in a way, hoping it would be, yet it will surely suffice for the dark squares of the board. The light squares are dipped in clear coat poly. The photo is not actually the final product, as I poured two more coats of clear poly on it. The squares were not totally perfect squares, causing the board to have small gaps. I wanted to fill the few gaps so the top surface would be smooth enough to dust with a microfiber cloth and not to be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner.

The base the squares are glued to is made of an inexpensive, thin plywood, yet the surface on the bottom of the board looks very nice, especially for its cost, and was obtained from Home Depot. If you notice the four holes in the corners of the board, they are there for functionality reasons. They look neat, yet I wanted to be able to get the board to a table from a wall and back again in a small amount of time if necessary. I thought the concave curves on the four edges added to the board’s aesthetic value, a sort of alien look, and am glad they came out without much flaw.

It is the first chess board I have made with wooden squares. Not too much of a hassle when compared to other project ideas I have in mind for chess boards. I am happy with the final result, so far. It should be dry within seven days or so, and will be totally dry within forty, in all considered probability.

Though I have a job and attempt to spend time off work reading (about writing and partially for pleasure) and writing and do, I also [at times] work some with wood projects/electronics. Below is an idea I had for someone for Christmas in 2016. Now far enough into 2017 for it to be nowhere near Christmas-time anyway, I still could not get the idea out of my mind, so I went ahead and processed the material. I hope the recipient of the box enjoys it, even if I ‘sort of’ made it to test the dye.The wood is stained with a water-based blue dye obtained from WoodCraft. The wood itself is an inexpensive hobby ‘white-wood’ plywood sold at Walmart for small picture frames and totally useful for most small box projects. In order to get the box looking at least as good as it does, despite the corners having no dove tails, I sanded it and re-coated it more than once. I made sure the corners were rounded, yet I left the lid mostly trapezoidal. The box has eight magnets for the lid to close/open, and I went with two steel wires instead of an actual hobby hinge for functionality reasons.

The lining is an inexpensive fabric I got from Walmart a few years ago for Christmas projects, ect. It is shiny on one side, so I was pleased with being able to use it for the project and think it came out nice enough. I sewed the corners and top of the fabric by hand into seams and used superglue to secure it within the box. I also used superglue for joining the planks of wood together. I have actual wood glue, yet I usually just use superglue. It will dry very quickly and still bonds wood corners with good strength. With wood glue, it is best to clamp pieces together and wait a day or two for the bond to dry. I’m not sure if I would do that, even if I was retired with nothing to do. At all.

The braided wire on the top of the box is a four-braid steel wire idea I chose over a knob, because the little knobs I got for making other boxes had a long screw I was unable to saw in half. I liked the idea and the final looks of the braid, so I was happy with the final result. On top of the dye is clear coat polyurethane to present a gloss finish. I was worried that the poly would turn the dye green, yet it did not, to my joyful surprise. Even if the box carries an amount of character, I was happy with the final result.

Here is a photo of a houseplant I got yesterday.

 

The last thing I needed was another plant to care for, yet this one caught the passionate side of my eye. After looking up “Celosia” on the web, I read that the leaves can be used for stew. I have four grapefruit trees I grew from seed that are over a year and a half old and are almost four inches tall, now, as I have cared for them, and my other house plants, daily. I also have a purple basil plant (in the old photo I still use for the header of jcm3blog), now about three years old. I am happy with it (the basil plant) and surprised I was able to keep it alive this long. The purple basil has one branch that is totally purple, so I think it is pretty impressive. For about four months, it was almost entirely green. I have a dark chili-pepper plant that makes little lavender flowers. It actually somehow was pollinated and I witnessed the development of small, spherical, red chili peppers that will probably fade to black upon their ripening.

Years ago I attempted to force pollination with pumpkin flowers and it did not work out (as I did not choose to use cubiculum, or bee feet), so I was surprised to see little chili peppers with no attempt in trying to pollinate the flowers. I think the process may have occurred from misting the plants.

This year, for Christmas 2016 visitors, I got an evergreen tree/bush. It is about three feet tall and is living, though I have yet to change its 35 some-odd pound soil mixture. Why would I even possibly need another house plant? Well, this about the best time of the year to get one -between now and about ten weeks from now, I think. This plant (the Celosia) caught my eye, as well as did another dozen, yet I chose it and plan to keep it healthy. It is an impressive plant, as its stem is lucid redish-pink in hue, and its flowers look like feathers. One way or another, I hope you like the photo of the Celosia.

Thank you for reading this post. On a personal note, I have been busy reading yet recently did write a sci-fi story after reading Ben Bova’s book on how to and plan to edit it soon enough. I am still working on my fantasy novel and plan to write some other stories and a sci-fi novelette or two as well, soon enough. Click the diamond below to check out one of the world’s best publications of sci-fi and fantasy. Have a nice day. 🙂

A Personal Hello

Howdy folks. It has been a while since I posted a personal set of sentences with regards to the on-goings of my current endeavors.

This last year was an exciting one for me, and I hope 2017 will be as rewarding. I am a dishwasher. Though I love cooking and have cooked for restaurants; for now, I wash dishes and help out around and in a kitchen. I know it does not sound too exciting, yet I work with a special group of interesting people, all intriguing in their own way.

So how could I claim to know anything about writing or pursue it, at all? Well, I have always enjoyed a wonderful story. From the first C. S. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien books I read as a child, to the best-sellers full of action, and the classic novels, and importantly, the books on writing, I have enjoyed the consideration of the craft.

Recently, I read that, if we were to all go over to the Smiths, adding an apostrophe to the end of their name would not be necessary. Simple enough; I did not know it, though.

Lately, I have been reading a few grammar books and a few pages of books I read cover to cover on, well, writing. Last year, I wrote 55% of a fantasy novel I plan to continue working on, eventually, and it dawned on me that I was writing with less grammatical authority than I once carelessly played with. Though the novel is important to me and will probably be enjoyed by most who read it (I hope), I put it aside for a few weeks to work on other things.

When I made the shelves you can see here in another post, I had some left-over wood. I thought about making small wooden items and dove into a wood-working hobby. I made a few things I liked. The other items maintained a classic sense of character.

Towards the end of the year, I decided I was rushing the fantasy novel and chose to set it aside to cool off a while. As said, I mad the decision for more than one reason. I wanted to read a little more on writing to improve my technique, yet I also realized I never received publication from anywhere. Sure, I self-published a collection of stories with Amazon, yet I felt as though I would enjoy pursuing becoming a published author another way.

I wrote two stories. One was a fantasy story, and the other one a story with a talking plant and an alien. I liked both of the stories and sent them to a publication that turned them down. No big deal; the stories were not what they were after. I still have both stories and have one of them posted for review in a writing workshop, here. The workshop is great. I can review stories and offer helpful advice, as well as see what others say about what little work I have posted there, so far.

Excited with the extra time it made to set the fantasy novel aside, my mind flooded with many ideas for new stories. I have always liked fantasy the most of the genres of fiction. I liked sci-fi, too. I decided that sci-fi allows for more creativity, and chose it as my favorite genre, because anything can happen anywhere with any kind of being within its realm of consideration.

These things taken into consideration, I remembered a list (here, under qualifying markets) of publications trusted for their publishing history with sci-fi and fantasy. I decided to look into “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction”, as they have been publishing since 1949. I subscribed to their publication after reading the December issue, and the publication impressed me with the quality of its stories. No doubt, it is no easy task to write a story that compares to the ones they choose to publish. I decided to give it a shot, anyway.

I wrote down an outline of what I thought would be a great sci-fi story. I liked the 25,000 word limit. With a novelette, an author can include plenty of description within a story, including characters and setting. As I wrote down the outline for my idea, I watched “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel. It was a re-run, yet I could not help but to consider an intriguing story inspired from the interesting show. I wrote down a quick outline, thinking I would simply write the story out into about 5,000 words, then work on the more important sci-fi novelette.

The next morning I woke up and began writing out the story. 9,000 words into it by the afternoon, I realized I should go ahead and think of it as a novelette, because I had yet to get to the mid-point of the story. The paragraphs near the end were the driving force behind the story, and I eventually was able to include those notions. Four or five days later I finished the novelette, and it contained 22,200 words. A real feat, for me, as my previous word-count record for a single day was about 4,000 words. My goal is usually 2,000 while working on a novel (not that I have ever finished one).

I had the novelette written and another one to do. I spent five weeks re-writing and revising the work. I finally decided it was good enough and submitted it to the publication. They rejected it about ten days later; I may review it a few times and send it elsewhere to attempt its publication. I like the novelette; that is why I spent so much time trying to make its text flawless.

That pretty much brings us to the present with my on-goings. I like my job and love to write. I made a few wooden Christmas gifts this year and people liked them. I am participating with oww to review and post work, and I plan to continue with efforts for completing the fantasy novel as well as my primary sci-fi novelette idea. Though I have still as of yet received publication for a work of fiction; it will be a goal for a while. I have played a bit of chess this year and continue to learn more with how to play the game in a more efficient way.

Thank you for reading. Live long and prosper. 🙂