A Frantic Day
“I have to get these thoughts down,” thought our Miserly; “Must find a place for expedient jotting…” She had been skimming through a periodical on writing all morning – the forty-five minute rail-ride was over. The periodical had some very inspirational notions, indeed; she could but not resist reading its every article. An excited writer, Miserly kept pursuing more technique. “Well developed characters,” she thought, “A beautiful scene, some things occur, and then… wham! Of course, the aftermath.”
So many things to do on her day off, she put them mostly aside. Miserly was seventeen and brilliant. She jogged to her nearest library and found a quite, lowered desk in the shape of an amoeba, by a large and dull window, without too much external distraction, after signing in. “A protagonist, a problem, and a solution,” she thought.
“His name was Paul Goodman…” she wrote. As she began to scribe in a hurried but quick and legible manner, a library worker strolled by, giving Miserly a nonchalant glance. Miserly knew she must return a nod, or unknown things may occur. The worker nodded in return, seeing she (Miserly), though frantic, was up to nothing worse than writing.
Miserly described Paul and his plight well. He was a man in between jobs and in need of one soon. She alluded to Paul’s selfless desire to live a better life, to work well and provide assistance to those in need, somehow. It was 4:30 AM. Paul was on a city sidewalk, and he would have to try to keep himself in proper demeanor to get a good job. No one would hire him looking exhausted, unkempt, slipshod.
Mr. Goodman’s thoughts were to attain a newspaper and tidy up quickly in his flat. He would then pursue something on foot from the classifieds. As he strolled toward a metal newsstand box, two things occurred. A worker opened the newsstand box to place the papers in the device, and a small car ‘t-boned’ a duly only forty feet away.
Paul made his way quickly to the worker and said, “I would like to buy a paper before you close that box. Please, kind sir.” The worker’s name was Mr. Whirley. He was an assistant editor who happened to still fill the paper boxes once a week, as he did long ago. Mr. Whirley handed him a paper; took out a small camera and took a picture of the accident as the drivers were making their exodus from the two vehicles; let Paul put his change in the machine; and asked, “What is the hurry with your wanting a paper? Eager to know the weather?”
“I am in desperate need of a job and am open to most anything legitimate that will pay,” said Paul, “I lost my job and have personal responsibilities.” “We just had two people leave our department last week,” said Mr. Whirley, “We need a ‘Proofer.’ Do you have any experience in editing, whatsoever?” “Not professionally,” said Paul, “I am an avid reader of novels, however.” “Who is your favorite novelist?” asked Mr. Whirley, as he took another picture of the drivers approaching.
“I like the more famous authors and like their style,” said Paul; “My favorite author is currently Stephen King.” “What would you think about a ten-day temporary job, six hours a morning?” asked Mr. Whirley, “We need the help; I like your enthusiasm; and if you do well we should be able to keep you around. We need no errors in our articles.” “I would love that and thank you,” said Paul, considering this offer to be a blessing. He and Mr. Whirley shook on it, and Mr. Whirley said, “Respond to the ad in the paper that mentions my office before noon, today, and you just may have yourself a new job.” “Thank you good sir,” said Mr. Goodman, “I do appreciate you and will be there.”
By then the two drivers both asked the two gentleman conversing if they had seen the accident. They both agreed that they saw what had happened – the driver of the small car failed to heed to a yield sign. Mr. Whirley had pictures he was sure would be requested for by his paper, the drivers, and their insurance companies. Thankfully, no one was injured badly. Before the four people spoke too much about whether anyone was right or wrong, the police pulled up – two cars. They filed a report; the drivers drove away with the small car receiving a citation; Mr. Whirley went back to work to write up an account for the paper; and Paul went to take a shower.
Paul got the job that day around 11:30 AM and did so well for the first two years that he bought himself an expensive digital camera to celebrate his achievements. He took up photography as a hobby and even took pictures for the paper and various periodicals from time to time. Ten years later, he was still loving his job and turned down retirement to work at least one more year.
As for the drivers involved in the accident, they had sore necks, yet they were fine within two weeks and ended up attending the same religious congregation consisting of over 650 people. The story was what it was to Miserly, meaning that she liked it, hoped others would enjoy it, too. She had finished it and enjoyed the idea of the worried man finding a job and doing well – he got to play with a nice new camera, too.
She decided it was short and sweet, good enough to submit to the literary publication she was reading through that morning. She revised her fast-written prose as the 70’s style orange chair creaked as she leaned back in it, knowing she had the better part of twelve entire minutes to finish the revision before having to ask for an hour extension from the librarian. No one ever enjoyed asking for an extension. Such an ordeal was the very inspiration for coming back on another day – without question.
Miserly quickly revised her story, re-writing one or two sentences completely, to promote better concision and more proper diction, according to what just had to be more accurate. She was rather impressed with the story and had one minute left. Looking up, she saw an older woman, a library attendant, coming her way. The worker could have been walking in slow motion. From her attentive reading, Miserly could not see the woman very clearly.
A young man with the semblance of an intelligibly cute elf was walking and reading at the same time – in a library. Confused, Miserly wondered if she was dreaming. She was not, however, and just as the librarian was about to speak in a loud manner toward Miserly, the young man walked right into the woman, startling them both.
“Pardon me, ma’am,” said the young man, “I am so very sorry.” The older woman was ‘ruffled,’ indeed, and Miserly escaped on foot while managing to toss over a wicked grin to the young man. He gave her a confident nod. He was cool. “I will have to submit this story by mail before noon,” thought Miserly, “Hopefully, the magazine will love it. I have so much to get done.”
She made it out of the library. She ran into the young man again later in life and they became close companions, both given to the art of literary composition. The periodical helped Miserly extend and revise her story for a small fee; it was published and praised; and her audience waited for her every word.
The Pachyderm, The Strong… Hamice
Thane woke up, checked his watch. Accidentally pressing the blue light button, it was showing the time to be 4:30 AM. Having gone to bed around 9 PM on allergy medicine and the notion of a silent house, he drank some cold coffee and woke up.
His father was gone for the weekend; Thane lived on a farm. Other farms were around; he was assigned a mission. His goal? To – at all cost – get his father’s new piglet to his uncle’s place. “The trip will not be too bad,” thought Thane, “I will drive Hamice over there, get some gas from Uncle Peter, drive back, and I will still have the afternoon to enjoy alone.”
Thane’s truck was a bad, awesome machine. He and his father re-furbished a 1985 full-sized grey Chevy v-6 with stock wheels and mud-grip tires. The rear tires were larger than the tires on the front; Thane was proud of his farm ride. His truck was “The Thing”. It only got him so far, though.
Thane made it out of bed and got the small pig named Hamice and drove his truck down his father’s farm drive. At the end of their dirt road driveway, “The Thing” died. “Damn it,” thought Thane, “Today was going to be a nice, easy day.” Hamice, strapped in and peering out of the front windshield looked over to Thane as if it was his fault
“The Thing” could not go any more. Thane knew a thing or two about his truck. He checked the gas indicator. It was below empty.
Thane got out of his truck as the sun was coming up. He looked underneath the frame to check the fuel line he and his father just installed a few days ago. The line had loosened; the stench of gas was clearly evident; and the truck was no longer a possible option. “Damn,” thought Thane, again. He went back to check on the small pig, as if terrible harm and malevolent terror had somehow manifested its presence and endangered the newborn pachyderm from nowhere and without sound. Hamice was fine – he looked to Thane and to the floorboard, seeming to know “The Thing” was no longer a thing. Not anymore.
Thane got Hamice and a water bottle and locked up “The Thing”. “Only four farms away,” thought Thane, “We can make it.” Hamice loved Thane. Thane usually fed him with a baby bottle of warm buttermilk, and Hamice was sure to grow up to be a prized show-pig for the fair. Thane gave Hamice a small hug, and the piglet fell asleep.
Thane was 19 and had not really gone this entire way on foot, before. He knew the terrain pretty well, however. There were four farms he would have to cross, each differing from the others. The first farm had its unique challenge – it was vast but mostly barren. Jogging, Thane and Hamice made it halfway across the farm before slowing to a walk to retain energy. “This farm is pathetic,” said Thane to Hamice, who may have agreed. It was, too. The entire twenty some-odd acre farm was mostly dirt with strange wild half-dead grass. The owners kept one horse, a dog, and a cat, living. They were old, and the farmer would have probably shot at Thane and Hamice, if he could see.
So, Thane jogged discretely past the old farm-house without being noticed by the old dog and continued jogging until he got to their old barbed wire fence. Then, they walked for a while. The second farm was nicer and smaller. The sun was up, it was about 7 AM.
Even Hamice seemed to like this farm. It was about 8 acres. The land was mostly yard-grass with front and back flowerbeds, and four dogwood trees. The owners of the farm were married with no children. The man held a job at a warehouse unloading and loading 18-wheelers; the woman was a nurse. “Every farm along the way must have its trickyness, its main obstacles,” thought Thane. Hamice, a brilliant piglet, had to be thinking as they neared the view of the nice and more modern house of the second farm.
“I think you are right,” thought Thane, as he looked to the house and considered the adorable small pig in his arms. “If we get right up on the house as we pass it, we have more of a chance of avoiding their view, in case they are awake,” thought Thane. He was right. They ran up to the nice three-bedroom house, ducked down to cross behind it, and jogged all the way to the next fence with nothing so much to protect them from view of the house than a seemingly randomly positioned dogwood tree. Hamice and Thane both noticed the tree’s white blooming flowers as they passed it. It was nice. They went unseen.
Thane jumped the fence, jogged a few yards, and sat down on a large, half-buried rock. He sat Hamice down on the ground, safely. The small pig decided to pee. This was the big farm. Thane looked out upon it. It was certainly a cut-through to get to his uncles. It was vast with rolling waves of wheat, swaying in the early morning breeze. This farm was run by a family who had maintained it for over four generations. It was over 400 acres and farmed mostly wheat, maintained over forty farm animals and contained a large farm-house three families lived in. They were hardworking Americans and sure to be awake. The less time Thane took crossing this farm, the better his chances of crossing the next one.
Thane drank his water bottle and picked Hamice up to carry on. He jogged into the wheat field and kept a good pace for some time; he would need to. He did, and as time went by, Thane and Hamice made it to the middle of the huge field. The Inhabitants of this farm were actually awake. The wheat was tall, however, and it would not be too easy to spot Thane’s trek through their property. Knowing his neighbors anyway, it should not have been too big of a deal to be on their land. After all, it was not like he and his buddies were sitting around a fire and drinking beer – he was on an important mission.
Big farms use big tractors and require hard work. This one did, anyway. A big tractor happened to be in the field. Thane decided he would just keep running with his pig, and whoever was on the tractor could talk with him at a different time. It looked as though the tractor was keeping to a certain route, anyway, so he might not even be noticed by the driver. He jogged and jogged – the tractor was upon him. It stopped. Its engine stayed running. “I say, young’n,” hollered the driver, a man in his late fifties, “Where are you going with that little pig?”
“I am very sorry, sir” said Thane, trying to catch his breath and doing so, “My truck broke down and I have to get this pig to my uncle.” “Hey,” said the farmer, “You are Chuck Dowty’s boy, eh?” “Yes sir,” said Thane, “I am sorry my truck broke down. I should be able to get a ride back.” “You carry on as you wish,” said the farmer, and Thane could not possibly guess what was next. “One thing, though,” said the rough old man, “You bring my step daughter to prom this year, dating a girl a year and a half younger than you, you better treat her right.” “You got it,” said Thane, looking at Hamice who seemed to be relieved, “I will get her a dozen white roses if she lets me bring her.”
The old man gave a decent look to the lad with the pig and put his tractor into gear. “Carry on boy,” said the man, and Thane jogged away. After about half an hour, he made it to a fence. It was the fourth and final farm before he was to arrive at his uncle’s abode. As Thane scaled the old barbed wire fence, he slipped, dropped Hamice, and fell.
Agile as Thane was, he still had fallen flat onto his lower back. He was tired and partially discouraged and unhappy with falling into muddy ground. Hamice had a wonderful time running in circles and rolling around in the mud. Thane stood and stretched and took off his over-shirt to clean the pig. The sun was up and it was not too cold. This farm was a neat one. It was old. A very old plum orchard, only the front 3/4 of the farm was still maintained properly for markets. The back part of it contained huge over-grown plum trees and a swampy bottom.
The old trees were connected with old mosses and massive banana spider webs. Scary and huge, the pink and yellow spiders seemed to stay stationary in the epicenter of their webs about twelve feet above Thane and Hamice. The webs’ holdings of morning dew sparkled and glistened as shining crystals in the shadows above Thane and Hamice, as they trudged through ten acres of old, stinky mud. The largest of the plum trees were over a hundred years old, and Thane was glad to find the next fence when he came to it. The farmers of the plum orchard were nice people, Thane would speak with them some other time. He safely scaled the fence.
Safely on his uncles’ property, Thane still had Hamice in his arms. They jogged to the front door and knocked. His uncle gladly let them in, and his nieces and nephews took Hamice to give him a bath. Thane’s aunt cooked a huge four-egg omelette for him with cheddar cheese, salsa, biscuits, orange juice, a glass of milk. The sun was up directly above them at noon. After such a nice breakfast at lunchtime, Thane offered to help his uncle with some chores. His uncle let him move a pile of firewood, and drove Thane back home.
The people in the immediate family of Thane’s uncle were all happy to receive their new pig, Hamice, and Thane thanked his uncle for the ride, explaining how his fuel line had malfunctioned before daylight, somehow. His uncle was happy to have Hamice as a new member of his family. Exhausted, Thane took a nap that afternoon, and they all lived happily ever after.
Despite our ability to tell a great campfire story or write one down, there are always those authors who amaze us with what we learn to recognize. My own definitions of what constitute a great story are very broad and easy. A good story is a good story. I cannot simply resist the comparison, however, of something that was written by an author well-learned in the “serious” study of literary technique, to a common story written down. We as humans can consider reading fiction to be a great and healthy way to ease our minds, to break away, even if temporarily, from the ferocious and deadly things we sometimes call real life.
Just a few days ago, I got a new book on writing short stories. I have read many. This one impressed me, though; it was due to a parable that satisfied classic definitions of what techniques must be used to qualify a story as an acceptable literary composition, a draft any teacher, professor, or common reader would enjoy and be satisfied with. The most popular techniques necessary for a great story are plot (a series of events leading to a conclusion), symbol (an object that carries meaning or indication), characters, scene, time (events carry on and pass time). I always include a climax as a requirement, or leave the notion out of a story on purpose. These essential elements of a story formulate a tale’s theme. The book that I plan on reading, after I do a few more reviews (they take me weeks) is titled, “The Short Story and the Reader,” by T. S. Kane and L. J. Peters (both Oxford University English professors). Its ISBN: 0-19-501960-1. This parable is meant to be a praise of the first page.
So, without further ado or any comments related to Aesop, I will present to you an exciting and inspirational parable manufactured with close to no thought. Its requirements? To satisfy the elements mentioned above.
The Train Cave
During their time away from work, the two men decided to go outdoors. Dunne and Gravin sat atop what they thought would be a rather exciting place to describe their surroundings on paper by writing – the cave of a train. After hiking for quite some time that morning, they found the cave.
“Do you think we are on time?” asked Dunne. “Sure,” said Gravin, “We have to be a little early.” He checked his hand-drawn map given to him by a student he knew. She said the cave was easier to find in the daylight. The sun was bright, the breeze gentle and nice. Both men produced their writing pads and a pen immediately; the train would be there any minute.
“Only in an instance can we describe this falloque monster,” said Dunne. “I may just draw it” said Gravin. “That would be your most profitable contribution. It is going to come around that bend, and go right beneath us into the dark cave below,” said Dunne – the constant authority of all things known.
The two crazed persons ready, they felt the ground shaking. A horn “Chew-chewed,” and they heard the engine of a locomotive well on its way. Eyes focused dead on the turn below a hill in the tracks not too far away, the men were ready to write, to scribe and describe. The amazing old-timey passenger train roared right out of the cave at an enormous speed with great vibration.
“I guess we will write it the other way!” exclaimed Dunne in the wind of the noise. “Duly noted Doc,” said Gravin, “Duly noted!”
One time, there was a man who drove a van. In this van he hauled drums. He played many gigs. Times good and bad, the best were hardly meek.
His name? Mark Gibson. A common name, people thought it was cool that his last name was on a lot of guitars. Mark followed around with lots of different people and bands over the years. Before he was a drummer, he worked various jobs and did not finish college. He made up his mind. He thought, “I am a man. I make decisions, and I like to do things.” So, that is what he did. He found people who could sing and play the guitar, and he played the drums for their various bands.
Mark stayed with one band for four whole years, and decided to let them go. His reasoning was that the others in the band were pretty tight; they knew at least four people who would greatly appreciate being able to play the drums with them. Hence, he explained things to these guys, and left them. Their name was “The Flaming Lizards,” and they did rock pretty hard, according to their fans.
Mark decided to travel. Most of his gigs were in the southern part of Arizona, where bands are known prosper. He had some funds saved, howbeit, and decided to travel to Hollywood California. To meet people.
Everything was planned out nicely; he had his van gassed up all of the way, an extra tank, his: drums, clothes, money, personal belongings, goals. Mark was set, and he head out. He drove and drove down the open, peaceful highway. The scenery was breathtaking, the air pure, the temperature even surprisingly acceptable. He nearly fell asleep at the wheel, kept himself awake with cheep cola.
Something subtle occurred, though; his engine gurgled. The man could claim many a night in his well-kept and fine tuned van with a v-6. He knew that his engine, should not, gurgle. He was in a good mood and happy. He thought, “That was just a ‘gurgle,’ I will check the gas, maybe let Betsy here cool off for a moment before a good long haul.”
As he glanced down to the gas meter, it was on empty. He had driven just long enough to be way out in the middle of nowhere. “How can this be?” he wondered. He pulled over to figure this out and turned off the ignition. “My tank should not even have 10% of its gas gone, now,” he thought, and he gave his beloved Betsy a nonchalant, common-knowledge, physical visual inspection.
As soon as Mark got out of his van, with no traffic in sight, he smelled something he just did not want to smell at the time -gas. He checked to see if he forgot his gas cap. It was there. Where was the smell coming from? He looked underneath the van; found a disconnected fuel line; and reasoned that the line had not been loosened from foul play. The connection seal was rusted and worn. “Connection seal,” thought Mark, and thought, “This is not too big of a deal, I have my 5 gallon tank. I will fill her up and carry on.”
He opened the back doors of Betsy and saw his beloved, covered drum set. “What a vehicle he thought,” as he reached for his gas tank. It was not there. Mark distinctly remembered filling it up to go in and pay for the gas, did not recall putting it in the van. “What a start,” thought Mark. He crawled in his van, locked its doors, rolled down a window, said a small prayer, and took a nap.
Mark woke in the middle of the afternoon, his van baked over like a late afternoon brick oven in a sixty year old pizza parlor well established in some downtown Italian district of an historic metropolis, as he left his windows up. The sounds of traffic going by were of seeming familiarity – he was sure to be out of this fix, soon.
He got up and escaped the confines of his oven-house, and leaned up against Betsy to begin to ask for help. Sure enough, after four vehicles blew past him rapidly, a truck pulled over. It was an older farmer and his adopted daughter was with him. She was nineteen, shapely, precariously attractive. “Where you headed?” asked the man, “Problems?”
“I am out of gas,” said Mark to Mr. Summersby, “My fuel line fell out.” “We will see what we can do,” said the farmer, as his daughter was happy to see the drummer-man and said nothing. Mr. Summersby ran the farm his father ran. He and his wife adopted a young girl 17 years ago. She was born in the United States. Her parents were there illegally from Mexico, were taken back. Her name? Isabelle.
Mark saw Isabelle; she was pretty. Her long flowing hair black, her smooth skin a natural pale tan, her smile, tempting and gentle… her lip was haired. Mark did not really know what to think of this. She was pretty and well-endowed, no doubt, but she seemed partially manly. Not forgetting what was going on he said, “Good friend, my name is Mark, and I am headed to California as a percussionist.” “I think I have enough gas here in my spare tank to get you to the next station. You can call me Mr. Summersby.”
Mr. Summersby put gas in the van after Mark fixed the fuel line. The drummer followed the farmer to the nearest gas station. Mark offered the farmer money, and the farmer said it was not necessary, to have a safe trip. “But Daddy,” said Isabelle, “Cannot he come and have dinner on the way?” Mark was sure hungry, still did not know what he really thought about it. “I suppose he can,” said the farmer, “You said your name was Mark?” “Yes sir,” said Mark, “I must be headed out, though.” “Oh sure,” said Mr. Summersby, “You have to be getting on. You have your drumming waiting for you in California. Our farm is just up the way, though. You are more than welcome to come and eat with us, tonight, and to try and travel again in the morning. My wife can cook.”
“You talked me into it,” said Mark. He followed the old truck to their farm; Isabelle’s subtle grin stayed the same the whole way. Upon arrival, Isabelle asked her non-biological father, “So, what do you think Mom is cooking tonight.” “I think she mentioned fried chicken,” said Mr. Summersby, and they all went inside to clean up.
Mark was a tall and slender man; Mrs. Summersby was delighted to meet him. They exchanged pleasant conversation and had dinner and conversed, and Isabelle wanted to see Mark’s drum-set before turning in. He showed it to her at dusk and she was amazed. He explained how he only uses two small drums, a bass, and a symbol, because his rhythm and natural talent was what pleased the crowds -not big and costly extravagant drum-sets that would be harder to travel with. He sold a larger set of drums to someone for a good price a few years back. She was impressed, gave the man a hug, and went off to tidy up for bedtime.
Mr. Summersby showed Mark to the barn. “We have plenty of room inside,” said Mr. Summersby, “Out here you will probably like it nicer.” The farmer gave the drummer a bunch of blankets and a pillow. “The dinner was great, and I thank you for the bedding,” said Mark. He would have not minded staying in his van on the road, really, but the fried chicken dinner was great, and he did appreciate the bedding. The farmer and the drummer conversed for quite some time about the farm, its history, and Mr. Summersby’s thoughts on its future. Things would be modest. Things would be fine.
As he had taken a nap earlier, Mark made his bed and stayed up gazing to the stars from a barn window. The night was crisp; the air was clear; and the drummer dozed off. A creek popped in the night. Mark awoke without opening his eyes or changing his breathing. He eased a squint from one eye in the direction of the barn door. He saw it opening, entirely on its own.
A figure walked through it quietly and closed the door quickly and with no noise. He could see her. It was only Isabelle. She walked carefully toward the drummer and into the light of his small window. “I wanted to come see you,” she said. “Your dad is going to come out here, and he will kill us,” said Mark, thinking. “No he will not,” said Isabelle, “He and Ma are off sleeping soundly. They will not wake up. I just wanted to talk.” “Sure you do,” said Mark, as Isabelle lit a small candle and put it besides them. He sat up, and she sat down by him. He noticed that she had not removed the hair from her lip, that her nightgown was stunning with its soft laces, albeit, a probable form of costly Asian silk, its small decorative lace-flowers resembling cherry tree blossoms.
The two talked and talked about her school and plans and life and his career and all for some time. She leaned in to try to kiss him. He backed away, thinking she might be like a man. Of course, he knew better. It would not be proper ethically to let one thing lead to another, not with this young girl on someone else’s farm. “I am sorry,” said Mark, “You are very pretty, I just do not think it would be okay for us to do anything physically.”
She put her hand on his work-hardened shoulder and said, “Listen. I plan to live alone for most of my life. My career is not going to involve mindless boyfriends – I am going after my own bacon. We only live once, and I want to feel your body in mine.”
The drummer just did not know what to think about all of this. This pretty girl and her hairy mustache – it was awkward. She wanted it; he knew he did, too; and, as Mark looked into her eyes, he, again, saw the frail hairs of her upper lip. That was his dilemma. “If I wanted to get with something manly, I could just wait until California,” thought Mark, thinking, “I prefer women, do not understand being with something besides them.”
Nevertheless, the two gave into temptation. It was her first time. They embraced each other and made passionate love together, she was strong and got what she wanted. The two slept like a rock. They woke up before dawn; she wrote down her address so he could contact her. Mark promised he would, said to keep in touch, his new band would be traveling. He planned to send her a post card from California, gave her a twenty for some extra lunch money or whatever. She was happy. Isabelle kissed him on the cheek and snuck back inside to crawl into bed before her parents awoke. They were fast asleep. The sun’s morning glow was coming before it over the horizon.
Mark was ready to head out. He put all of the bedding on the back porch and checked out his van. It was fine; his fuel line was secure and fine. As he was going, he hollered to Mr. Summersby’s window. “I guess I am heading out,” said Mark. “Be safe and do not be a stranger now,” said both the farmer and his wife. “Okay,” said the drummer, “We thank you now.” That was all they said, and he made it to the van and drove away.
Mark drove all the way to California; sent Isabelle a postcard with a horse on it; met some guitarists and played often gigs with large crowds; and they all rocked on.
“You going to Francis’s party?” asked Frince, as the four-inch tall Christmas ornament elf shook his partner in crime, Mince, a little. “Am I alive?” asked Mince, as he climbed to his feet. Silver, gold, blue, green and red glitter shimmered from the cracks of light seeping into their ornament box as it fell in the nostalgic air of the small fellow waking.
It was Christmas Eve, once again. It was duty time. Historically, in this house, Frince and Mince came to life on the 24th of December, at midnight. The woman of the house and her husband always erected a Christmas tree and decorated it with ornaments and lights of varied hue to shine in the late dark cold night. The woman, three years in a row, now, decided to go with a “theme” for the tree. While stunning to those who saw these Christmas trees, the older ornaments of past tradition were usually mostly left in their decorative, glittered and dusty, ornament box. This year she titled her Christmas tree’s theme “The Ice of Winter”, and their tree was adorned with mostly store-bought silver ornaments and blue and dark-blue lights and metallic silver stringed strands.
Frince and Mince made their way to see the tree; both found it to be baffling. “Back to business.” “Due course.” They scurried to the shadows of a near sofa and discussed hunting options. The two elves were connected magically. It was unnecessary for them to speak aloud, many times, because they shared natural extrasensory perception. They could hear each other think with minimal effort. This kept them safe from their one known danger other than living and walking-while-awake humans, their big fat lazy old nocturnal cat.
Their duty? To find the mouse, Streak. They caught Streak, one year, eating cookies left out for Santa, and the cat caught and ate the mouse right in front of the elves. How did the elves see the mouse again? Streak came back into physical form a few days later, as the elves lay down to rest for another 362 days. They usually only come to life once a year. Why were they on a hunt for Streak? For one, to prevent confusion. If Streak was to eat more cookies, it could upset the woman. If the cat was to eat the mouse, it could mean another costly trip to the vet. The mouse was sure to come to life anyway for most of the year. The elves commonly only lived three magical days, themselves. So, it was up to them to find this mouse, and that is what they sought to do.
“I seen him.” “No you did not, you are still waking.” “We will see.” Mince thought he saw the mouse streak around a corner to his normal creviceway hideout in the corner of a back room. The two elves, sure the humans were asleep, ran to the opening in the corner. The mouse was, as guessed, nowhere to be found. “If not be him here, as you were accurate, why not frequent the cookies?” “I want this to be quick and easy, this year. I think your idea is supreme.”
The two elves traversed the normal shadows of the house to finally find a plate of cookies on a small book-table with a moodlamp lit on dim. “That is not a Christmas tree.” “You are correct, Mr. Natural Eggnog. It is still stunning, though.” The two elves shared a short-lived moment together appreciating the aesthetic value of the green and red sugar cookies and white and brown fudge cubes on the large crystal platter with shimmering golden trim.
Then, as if they were not even visible, as if no small cookie crumb could be thrown to them from the short table, Streak climbed unknowingly onto the high-class platter. Frince and Mince both saw the small mouse and made their way to the table. The tiny creature was exceptionally fast and would be nearly impossible to catch if the two elves were to mess this chance up. They positioned themselves behind a large mug of warm milk, as Streak was sure to extract one good crushed nut from a large chunk of fudge and scurry off to some place of safety as soon as possible.
Frince noticed that the small scoundrel was not even paying attention. The mouse removed a large chunk of a walnut, and Frince motioned to Mince. Mince leaped a good four steps from the mouse and was on him, had him behind the ears by the neck. The tiny creature might have actually got away, however Frince was just behind Mince and hoisted the mouse into the air by his short hind legs. “We have him!” thought Frince, almost loud enough to wake the woman. “That we do” thought Mince, quietly enough to near the man into a supposed year-long length of slumber.
The happy elves held onto the small mouse and bounced and danced to the fire. A small faggot was only burned on one end. Mince held the mouse to the log and Frince went and found a small thread of sorts to tie the mouse down. Upon his return, he and Mince tied down the mouse, and Mince drew his “long-sword” – the four-inch tall elve’s ritualistic version of a Katana. Frince almost fell asleep – it was almost too easy, this year.
Just then, however, both elves saw the cat. The old, overweight feline monster was creeping up to them, one paw per inch, one noiseless step at a time. He was spotted, able to pounce, howbeit, at any time. Mince near shaded himself a new hue of white and glanced to Frince for some attempt of request for authority. Frince looked to the cat, calculated their possible escape, and said, “Take him.” Mince quickly came down upon the small mouse, decapitating him, and the cat leaped into the air.
Both elves jumped away from the slain mouse to escape the deadly cat. The cat caught Frince, Mince stayed within dangerous reach, moving. Soon to bite the head off the magical little elf, the cat looked to Mince to see if there was any last reason for not pursuing his natural wishes. Mince had to think quick, his sword would do him no good; he remembered the warm buttermilk by the cookies. Mince aimed his sword in that direction and the cat knew there was warm milk over there. The large fluffy animal lifted his paw off the terrified elf and strolled toward the buttermilk. Halfway to the moodlamp, the cat lay on his side and slept. The two elves were exhausted, too, and sat for a moment.
Their annual deed was done. They walked to the Christmas tree and watched the fading lights glow bright blue and dim to darkness repeatedly, decided to turn in. They made their way up the stairway-ladder to their ornate ornament box to conclude the Christmas night. As Frince was closing their lid for slumber, he noticed a large, shiny black boot make the chimney floor’s ashes cloud into its surrounding air.
One time, a young boy named Ned sat across from his grandfather in a park. It was on a Saturday. He could see his grandfather for doing well in school for the week, as he had many times before. All was going well. The two had their game going fine – pieces were about to be taken from the board, as usual. It was towards the end of August; Ned seemed to have the blues.
His grandfather looked over to him, thinking he would cheer him up. Ned knew he was going to talk and did not really have that much warning. He did not know what was going to be said. “So, has your mother taken you back-to-school shopping?” asked his grandfather. “I knew you were going to ask that!” said Ned, “Yes, she did. As usual, it was a most exciting day.”
“Did you accomplish any difficult feet or tricky, hard-to-do shenanigans?”
“Have you been speaking with my mother?”
“I have not spoken with her in over two weeks.”
“Are you telling the truth?”
“We went to the store and she said she only had a certain amount to spend on school supplies. I had a list to fulfill from school; it took about 55% of my spending limit up. I thought I was in the clear, the good little boy giving. I would easily get this over with, and my mother would be able to keep the rest of her decided amount.”
“So? What happened?”
The two both moved a piece on the board; Ned tried to plan a good exchange-attack and king-trap sequence.
“I saw it.”
“What did you see?”
“I had examined every pen and pencil, notepad and other inch of the store. It was near the register on the way out… a calligrapher’s ink and pen set, complete with a wooden storage box and seven interchangeable pen heads. It contained a black ink bottle as well as a bottle of dark indigo blue ink derived from a rare Australian fern.”
“Wow was right. I could have grabbed it and ran; they saw me see it, albeit.”
“What did you do?”
“I decided to let her decide. I said, ‘I will do anything you say. What must I do to have it?’ ‘You had better come up with a dandy chore list,’ she said. I had to think quick and hard… ‘What if I mow the neighbor’s yard every other Sunday afternoon for two months or four times?’ I pleaded. She balanced her checkbook and said it would be fine.”
“So you got the calligrapher’s set?”
“That I did, and I have already mowed Mr. Nabrowski’s yard one time, three times to go.”
“Have you written anything?”
“Yes, I wrote a 112 line poem about a dove who visited Shakespeare in spirit for conversation. I figured out the characters in pencil and then wrote the poem out with both black and blue ink, depending on the characters’ dialogue. The dove drinks a gentle trickle of his blood to come back to life, flies away.”
“Can I see it?”
“The poem, silly.”
“Do you enjoy mowing?”
Neds grandfather just looked at him.
“I am sorry, I plan to submit the poem to a contest hoping the penmanship can be noted. I will photocopy a copy of it for you.”
“What if I want to mow?”
“You know you are more than welcome to come and help me. Checkmate.”
Ned won the game. Ned’s mother pulled up. Ned got into the car. They drove away waving goodbye as always. Ned’s grandfather put the chess pieces up as always, in tears.
A Jog for More
One time I was scheduled off for the day and woke just before sunup to go out for a run. My trusted cold glass of coffee with a shot of syrup nearby, I drank it down. I put on clothes good enough for the venturous goal, a pursuit of, yet again, undue fatigue. I made my way down the stairs outside and jogged down the city sidewalk for a while, a few blocks.
New to the city, I continued my exploration. I decided to dart down a random alley, as if something was running with me. I took a few steps to catch my breath walking, and I picked my pace back up as if on my way to the other side of the city, altogether. The alley was interesting and wet. A danger due to friction, I was cautious not to lose my footing.
As the alley was nearing an end, I would be coming out onto another main city street. I ran by a young woman crying. She had her head between her knees as she sat on the ground. “What a waste of time,” I thought to myself. She was possibly seeking attention; I walked over to her just in case I could actually be of help. I knew better than to fall into some form of a trap or foolish ploy.
“Are you okay?” I asked. She looked up to me with a furious and evil stare saying, “No! No I am not!” “What happened?” I asked. “I was jogging down this alley, slipped, and lost my headphones.“
“That is terrible.“
“It would not have been so bad, had I not been waiting all morning to hear a selection of heavy metal tracks. I really wanted to rock hard and get some good exercise in this morning. Oh no, however, I lost my headphones and they fell through the grating back there.“
“Can we get them out?“
“No – I checked. They are gone.“
I thought about this for a second; my heart went out to this young girl. She was either a great actress, as some are, or she really lost her headphones. I decided to believe her story.
“Little did you know;
fire breathes from my soul…
I am a bringer of rock and roll.
Here and on this day we can make our own.“
She stood up and helped me climb up on top of a dumpster close to the corner of the more busy sidewalk nearby. She looked at me as if she was thinking, “I will go first, and then you chimb in. We will wreck this crowd.“
In a low tone she sang, “Out from the depths of evil, I do come…“
I yelled, “Never will I sympathize!“
“From the darkness I am strong;“
“I drink the blood of evil all day long;”
“So join around, and hear our song;”
“Bang your heads, and dance along;”
“Your off to work;”
“You will buy it, too;”
“The devil in me;”
“Must live in you!”
By this time their were some people below us enjoying our new song. It was naturally best to sing at the same time and repeat the words so that our crowd of people could enjoy it, too. We both sang,
“So come along, sing our song, you can move those bones and live your day long!
So come along, sing our song, a fight-for-some-evil and we will die to live strong!”
The crowd sang, too,
“So come along, sing our song, you can move those bones and live your day long!
So come along, sing our song, a fight-for-some-evil and we will die to live strong!”
Then, we all sang the new improv one last time, singing,
“So come along, sing our song, you can move those bones and live your day long!
So come along, sing our song, a fight-for-some-evil and we will die to live strong!”
We both were helped down from the dumpster and I could tell she was at least happier and somehow motivated. I did what I could to depart on a positive note and said, “I hope your day gets better.“
As she was laughing, I thought she gave our singing a complement when she said, “Do not quit your day job!” She smiled, jogged on.
Joy in the Night
One time their was a young girl and her name was Joy and she was of pale skin and dark black hair; her room was draped with the simple efficiency of common-wealth and clean and mostly white with its pale blue hues from the vast moonlit night. The night breathed in terror as young Joy could not sleep and opened her sash to let in the cool damp breeze of the night. In her gown she lay in fright wondering why she felt so alone. Continue reading