The Amazing Tale of Jen and Luke

Once upon a time there were two young children, Jen and Luke. Jen was in the 3rd grade, Luke in 4th. One day, upon entering a school bus to ride home after school, Luke was unable to find a place to sit in the bus. He walked up and down the entire aisle of the school bus, and no one had a place for him to sit. Luke looked up to the bus driver; she was checking out the various controls of the bus to safely depart.

“You can sit here with me,” said a small voice coming from behind Luke. Luke knew he could get in trouble for not being seated in the bus when it was ready to begin moving. He felt short on time. Luke turned to his right to see a precious young girl with brown hair in a white dress with pink and purple flowers on it, and he sat with her that day.

It was nice of Jen to let Luke sit with her, and he appreciated it. Jen was curious about 4th grade, and Luke told her all he could. During the next few weeks, Luke sat with Jen every day on the bus, and they got to know each other rather well.

Both children made exceptional grades and always finished their homework. Jen’s neighborhood was near Luke’s. The first school bus stop was not too far from their school, and nine children got off the bus there. Jen and Luke’s bus stops also both let off about nine children. Upon speaking of their parents, Jen and Luke realized that all four adults did not get off work until five, much less did they ever get home before then. Jen and Luke usually used this time to watch television or do home work or to take a nap.

“What if we get off at a different bus stop?” asked Jen. “That sounds like fun,” said Luke, “We could walk home together. I do not think it would be a big deal, so long as the bus driver did not notice.” “What if we ask her to keep it a secret?” asked Jen. “She could get in trouble,” said Luke. “As long as nothing happens to us,” said Jen, “I do not think anyone would know.”

The next day Jen and Luke spoke with the bus driver. She was not a school teacher, and everyone loved her. She had a great sense of humor. Their bus driver’s name was Ms. Elms. She was large and jolly, over 50 and still cool as hell. “We don’t want you to get into trouble,” said Luke. “Don’t worry,” said Ms. Elms, “If they catch us, we’ll just tell them you got off on the wrong stop by accident.” This idea amazed Jen. She was happy because she never really got to see certain parts of their city. “Don’t go through with this unless you promise you guys will walk home safely,” said Ms. Elms. “We’ll stay safe,” said Jen, and Luke knew he and his new buddy were in sure need of remembering to stay out of trouble.

That day (Tuesday) Jen and Luke got off at the first bus stop with other school children. They walked home, hand in hand, taking in the amazing scenery. Most of their trip entailed walking by businesses and safely crossing streets. When they eventually came to Jen’s neighborhood, Luke said, “That was pretty fun, and it is only 3:30 pm.” “I’ll still have plenty of time to do my homework,” said Jen. The two said their goodbyes and walked home safely.

The next day they nodded to the school bus driver and Luke gave her a green apple blow-pop when no one was paying attention. No one said anything; their secret was safe. All students seated and Jen and Luke able to speak, the bus was in motion. “I want to do it again,” said Jen. “Oh sure,” said Luke, “It was fun and we did not get caught. No harm done.” “On Tuesday,” said Jen. “Why the hurry?” asked Luke, “The shops in that part of town are not going anywhere, and we should not do it too often or we’ll surely get caught.”

“You are right,” said Jen, “Tuesday is a good day to walk together, though, because it is the one day our parents just don’t get home early. Also, there was something peculiar about the flower shop we walked by.” “That flower shop does arrangements for weddings and funerals, big expensive stuff,” said Luke, “I see their advertisements all over.” “Not that one,” said Jen, “The one that sells small gifts.” “Oh,” said Luke, “It did look interesting, now that I think about it. You mean the one with the baskets in the display window?” “Yes,” said Jen, “I want to go in there. It seems there may be a reason.” “Okay,” said Luke, and they both considered the next few days.

Friday evening, Luke asked his dad if he could do extra chores for some money. “What do you want the money for?” asked his dad. “I am not sure,” said Luke, “Maybe just to save or to buy a new book to read.” Luke knew this would be difficult, his dad would by him a book for doing chores in no time. “I know better,” said Luke’s father, “What’s her name?” Caught off guard, Luke said, “Jen. We are just close friends, but I want to get her something special.” “No problem,” said Luke’s Dad.

That weekend Luke cleaned the backyard for his dad and re-stacked a leaning woodpile. His dad gave him a twenty. He thanked his dad and promised to do well in school. On Monday, Jen and Luke spoke briefly with Ms. Elms, mentioning that they only wanted to get off the first bus stop on Tuesdays. Ms. Elms agreed to it, and Luke gave her another green apple blow pop. “Where do you get these?” asked Ms. Elms. “When I stay with my grandmother,” said Luke, “She gives me a 50 ct. sack of them for mowing her yard.” “Are they all the green ones?” she asked. “No,” said Luke, “There are purple one’s and pink ones, too, but I save the green ones, because there are fewer of them in the bag.”

Once seated, Luke and Jen spoke about school and their parents’ jobs and everything, made it home safely. Tuesday afternoon came and Luke and Jen got off at the first stop. They made their way to the small gift shop and went inside.

Full of fading shadows and small antics, the store was an amazing realm of splendor. Jen and Luke investigated the shelves – Luke noticed a row of dark blue vanilla-scented speckled candles with a small sign which said Homemade with Perfection. Jen was looking at a rack of post cards and noticed a small shelf with diaries. One caught her eye. Luke looked to the back of the small store and noticed a counter with a register. No one was there. “Let me get the diary for you,” whispered Luke. “It’s seven ninety-five,” said Jen, “Surely your lunch money cannot cover that?” “I did some chores over the weekend,” said Luke, “In case we found something here.” “Smart thinking,” said Jen, and she handed the diary to Luke. Luke looked at it and handed it back to her.

The two checked out most of the rest of the store on their way to the counter. Luke noticed a crystal pyramid up on a shelf behind the counter, nearly out of sight. The two children waited patiently in front of the register, and heard a woman’s voice ask, “May I help you?” She came from around the corner slowly, scooting in her rolling, thickly padded chair.

“We wanted to check this place out,” said Jen. “I would like to buy her the diary,” said Luke, thinking the vendor must be some kind of a mystic fortune-teller. “I happen to be a mystic fortune-teller,” said the nice old woman. Jen thought it was kind of funny but refrained from laughing out of respect. “And do you see anything you want for yourself?” asked teller. Her name was Ms. Starble. “No thank you,” said Luke, “Interesting candles.” “My nephew thinks he is going to conquer the world with their manufacture,” said the nice woman. “I suppose I may get one then,” said Luke, and he went back for a dark blue homemade vanilla candle with little glitter-specks of silver shavings.

While waiting on Luke, Jen asked about the crystal pyramid. “What is your young friend’s name?” asked Ms. Starble. “His name is Luke,” said Jen, “And my name is Jen.” Luke found a nice small candle and picked it up to make his way back to the counter. “Luke,” said Ms. Starble, “I am closing early today. Please, flip the ‘Open’ sign on the front door and turn its latch.” Luke did as instructed and brought the candle to the counter.

He handed the twenty to Ms. Starble. He meant business. Ms. Starble opened her register and printed out a receipt and handed the receipt, ten dollars, and some change to Luke. Luke kept the ten and the receipt and offered the coins to her. “You asked about the pyramid,” said Ms. Starble, “It is special.” “Is it for fortune-telling?” asked Luke. “Not really,” said Ms. Starble, “But it does posses an amount of magical power.”

“What can it do?” asked Jen. “Why?” asked Ms. Starble. “Just wondering,” said Jen. Luke gazed upon it and considered just how powerful it could really be. “It can be used for time travel,” said Ms. Starble. “Can we try it out?” asked Luke. “You will have to keep it a secret,” said Ms. Starble, “And you will also have to figure out how to get it down.” Jen laughed a little and Luke asked to come around the counter. The teller let him and he found a small step-ladder and got the crystal pyramid down.

The pyramid was ‘set’ in an old-wood, round frame and stained and polished with a  dark blue enamel. He placed it on the counter and the three humans stood above it, gazing upon its four lustrous sides. Jen and Luke looked to Ms. Starble. “Is there a reason you two would like to travel in time?” asked Ms. Starble. “What if we were grown ups,” said Jen, “So Luke and I could walk down the street together?” Ms. Starble laughed a little and looked to Luke. The pyramid amazed Luke, and he asked if it was even possible. Ms. Starble said it was and both children anxiously awaited the magic. Ms. Starble raised her arms high in the air and said, “Okay Mr. Hocus Pocas, Smooky Wooky Alakashzam!” and Luke and Jen vanished.

The Lunch Time Café was classy. Jen and Luke were sitting across from each other over garlic toast and iced water. They held a pleasant conversation over occupations in America. Their table was outside, and the day endured a hint of spring. Jen and Luke continued to share conversation, as any adult couple would, and their server came to them. Luke looked to Jen who said, “I have had a nice time.” “How much do I owe?” asked Luke, and the server said, “Compliments of the house, Mr. Strong.”

About that time Jen felt as though a spell was wearing off. She and Luke heard a man choking while sitting at a table inside the café. A man tried to give the choking man the Heimlick Maneuver, however it did not work and the man died. Jen and Luke looked to each other and the cloudy scene faded slowly.

Jen and Luke re-appeared before Ms. Starble who had fallen asleep on the counter. She came to and asked what they were doing. Jen laughed a little and Luke said, “We need you to lock us out. We must be going.” Ms. Starble locked them out and they returned home safely, before 4 pm.

Jen loved her new diary and wrote a few lines in it every night. Luke did not really know what to do with the candle and planned to give it to his dad for Father’s Day. Luke gave Ms. Elms a grape blow-pop on Thursday, and Jen and Luke discussed the death of the man at the café.

“Our time travel could have had something to do with whether we are meant to be together,” said Luke. “I think we already knew,” said Jen, “How could the man have died choking if he was not choking?” The two thought about it for a moment, and they decided he had an allergic reaction. “The peanuts,” said Jen, “He was eating peanuts just before he turned red and started choking.” “You’re right,” said Luke, “Maybe we can go back and save him.” “Who knows,” said Jen, “We will have to try to.”

Time flew by and it was Tuesday afternoon. Jen and Luke nodded to the bus driver as they got off at the first stop. The children made their way to see Ms. Starble. She was there and they tried to explain what happened. “We must go back,” requested Jen. “I am unsure that I fully understand your story,” said Ms. Starble. “Do you have something to write on?” asked Luke. “Sure,” said Ms. Starble, “How was the candle?” “I am going to save it to give it to my dad on Father’s Day.” “That way you have time to consider its origin?” asked Ms. Starble. “Possibly,” said Luke, knowing he may have a few things to consider.

Luke sketched out a picture of the café and thanked Ms. Starble for their first journey. It being a Tuesday, he happened to have a strawberry blow pop and offered it to Ms. Starble. She accepted the blow pop, and Jen and Luke explained the mysterious story of how a choking man died while he was still able to breathe. “You two must need to return there after all,” said Ms. Starble as she enjoyed her blow pop. “You may get the pyramid down,” she said to Luke, and he got it down and placed it on the counter. Ms. Starble said, “Okay Mr. Hokus Pokas! Can you please save-us a chokus!” and Jen and Luke vanished.

Once again, they sat across from each other at the table outside dressed casually. Luke raised his hand, getting the attention of his server. “How may I help you?” asked the server. “I do not think the man in there should eat those peanuts,” said Luke. “Why?” asked the server. “Please,” said Luke, “At least ask him if he possibly has a risk of an allergy.”

As the server looked to his right, he saw one of his fellow employees sitting a small platter of peanuts down in front of the large man. Jen and Luke’s server gave them the benefit of the doubt and spoke with the server setting the peanuts down. The large man’s server asked if he knew of any allergens he may have for peanuts. “That is none of your business,” said the large man. “Sir, we are not willing to offer peanuts with your meal if you are going to have an allergic reaction to them.” The man did not have much to say. They brought him toast instead.

Jen and Luke’s server came back to them. “How did you know?” asked the server. “Lucky guess,” said Luke, and Jen smiled upon him. The scene faded and Jen and Luke appeared before Ms. Starble. She was awake and waiting to hear what the children had to say. “He made it,” said Jen, “The man was not allowed to eat the peanuts.” Jen and Luke thanked Ms. Starble, and the children made their way home.

Jen and Luke decided to get off at the right bus stop for a while, and they only went to see Ms. Starble on rare occasion. They grew up together, making good grades and enduring healthy relationships. She became a nurse and a concert violinist, and he became an architect. The Strongs raised four beautiful children, and everyone lived happily ever after.

A Book Review for Stephen King’s “On Writing”

“On Writing” was an enjoyable read. I originally purchased the book to read to improve my writing style without considering its entire title “… A Memoir of the Craft”. Even though King explains life experiences from his childhood to near present time, he still includes a great deal of positive advice for writing. Anyone struggling with writing or open to some inspirational thought will benefit from reading “On Writing”.

One reason the book, and Stephen King himself, gives me so much inspiration is the notion of writing about 1,400 words a day or more. This is a far easier idea than trying to set aside a 6-hour time slot to write as much as possible, and way easier than trying to write out an entire project only pausing when necessary. Producing a small amount of work by often habit is more feasible to justify and stay motivated with.

Another notion that I find inspiring is the idea of writing without too much plotting. I agree with King on this one -even if one plots out an entire story or novel, once one writes it out they generally change what goes on (or not) as you write it. If plotting with an outline helps you, go for it. If simply writing without too much thought of the story before you come up with it is the way you write best, go with that. Do what works for you, in other words, even if you’ve heard it many times before.

The next thing I like about King’s advice on writing was to not spend too much time with technique. I enjoy utilizing as much grammar technique as possible, however I do not always adhere to grammar rules as strictly as I would like. Use of the passive voice, colloquialisms, ect. many times are found in my rough drafts. I do not let these things keep me from the story, though, and King reminds us of what is most important when writing fiction. The story.

Many people who have written about “On Writing” mention Mr. King’s near death accident. The story is in the end of the book. He was hit by a vehicle while on a walk one day, nearly died, and was only half through with “On Writing”. Our hearts go out to Stephen King when we hear of his regaining of health after having most of his body shattered and finishing his memoir on writing. Long live the King, indeed.

King mentions his struggles as a young writer such as struggling to pay bills, even when he became an English teacher. Who would have ever guessed that the world’s most famous and respected horror author would be a down-to-Earth family man? I am not sure, however I have more respect for him after reading his honest accounts of his love for his wife, family, and writing. I also found his ideas on drug abuse inspiring. He declares that while many users may think that use helps their creativity, people write just as well without stimulants or sedatives or both. I agree. I may drink a coffee or vape sometimes, however I find participating in creative writing is best without the use of unhealthy substances. I am glad he decided to clean up his life and live in a healthy way, that he could say people write just as splendidly without stimulants/downers or other temptations.

To further explore reasons I liked “On Writing”, I must note that King mentions telepathy. We are not alone as humans; any religion considers the idea. He suggests good practices for choosing a good place to write and being okay with ‘listening’ while writing. He also mentions that he kept this book slim and tried to exercise some form of concision with his prose. In my opinion, he did an awesome job. I was able to read a few pages at night before going to bed and had the book finished, paying attention to its every word, in about 40 days (if I can do it, so can you). King mentions a Mississippi scribbler, John Grisham, as being found by his agent, Bill who set King up with Double Day many years ago. Many people think that part of what makes Grisham such a great author has to do with the ease in which we can read his work. I agree and think “On Writing” can be easily read.

“On Writing” gives references to a few dozen authors/books with explanations of their style and why to read them or how to compare them to what we may decide to write. King helps us consider what we are after with our writing and how to achieve success. He also includes two extensive book lists in the end of the version I read.

Early in the book, he mentions going to the movies and considering what was going on in the movie, as well as what could have happened to make the story even crazier or better. I think most people have a pretty creative mind, however part of King’s unique genius, other than his work ethic, is his ability to consider a good story and either stick with it or spice it up a little.

As far as real grammar lessons go, there are not many in “On Writing”. King does mention”Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition”, as well as Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”. He advises a cautious study of these texts, yet mentions that once you have learned enough grammar to write well, there is no need to waste your time with studying too much grammar. By saying this, he reminds us that the story itself is what is most important.

The first part of the book inspired my writing a tale upon reading a few things about Stephen King’s childhood. I put the book down and wrote out an outline, and wrote the story the next day. You can read it here. I also wrote down an outline for a novel with a protagonist and a bunch of monsters, however it may be a while before I get to writing it out, as I am working on some other works of fiction, currently. I’ve kept the outline with a few other novel ideas, nonetheless.

I conclusion I do recommend Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”, to be read by most authors, fans, and readers. It won’t give you nightmares, and though it is no new lesson in English, it will definitely inspire you as a fiction author. Stephen King spent a lifetime working hard and stayed dedicated to his goals as a family man and a writer. He did what was best for him and we should, too, so our reading audience will love and enjoy our work as creative artists and writing masters. What more could we ask for? I hope you enjoy reading “On Writing” as much as I and others have. As said by “Entertainment Weekly”, “Long live the King.”

A Pre-Release Prompt Intro

The Vape Place,

by Myles Stein

Note: This Story is not recommended for people under the age of 18.

“You kids should not smoke. It’s bad for you and people hate the smell of it,” said Professor Worther, from the math department. He passed by Amanda and Jen on his way to an important meeting. “I only smoke an average of seven cigarettes a day,” said Amanda. “Me, too,” said Jen. Jen was blonde. Amanda, brunette. They were outside of a large building donated to their university for the furthering of higher education. “Here we are, outside and not harming anyone, and we cannot even smoke a cigarette without a ‘health complaint,'” said Amanda.

“It is bad for you,” said Jen, “Even side-stream smoke kills thousands of Americans every year.” As she said this, she saw a few people using electronic cigarettes across the way, by one of their college’s cafeteria/lounge buildings. “Have you ever tried vaping?” asked Jen. “No,” said Amanda, “I have seen plenty of people do it; I know nothing about it. I wonder if it really ‘does the trick?'” …

The above two paragraphs are the beginning of an engaging story of two college students who take a summer off to start a new business. It will be in the second issue of “Oval Magazine” and is inspired from a prompt. Be sure to check out the entire publication, once it is released. It may not be complete for a few more weeks (February of 2016, hopefully), however it is sure to be an exciting, enjoyable read. 🙂

♦♦

A Day in January

Today has been a wonderful day. The breeze was cool, the sunlight beautiful. This year I am 40. My birthday was last Sunday, and I must say, I plan to live this year to its fullest. I am working on a fantasy novel for an hour or two each day I can, and it is coming along well. On goodreads, I have recently communicated with a few authors I knew, before, and have also encountered many others.

There exists a handful of books I cannot wait to read -have to make time for my writing, too, lest I risk not accomplishing what I hope a reader audience as well as myself will enjoy. I am currently reading a few pages of Stephen King’s “On Writing” every night before I turn in. I was hesitant to read the book, at first, as he is so well-known for horror. I decided to risk the endeavor, however, and have found that his advice on living and writing well are not scary yet valuable. About 170 pages into the book, it is coming along nicely.

It has occurred to me that, while I have studied many grammar books and have read plenty of classics and occasional best-sellers, not to mention a few novels by independent authors, I still have a lot of reading to do. The top ten fantasy/science fiction authors currently in the business have plenty of books available. I have not read 98% of these works, so I definitely have some reading to do.

I am of the mind that the mechanics of a great story involving mystical beings and adventure do not always have to be inspired from what contemporary authors have written, however it will be nice to have read more books once I have. The book I am working on may not even compare to the powerful juggernautic novels currently in the bestsellers lists, however I plan to do all I can for its final text to be something people of all ages will enjoy for many years to come.

To my new followers and people who follow jcm3blog, thank you for reading. I am always a big fan of my audience, as I hope it grows to be a group of admirable thinkers who enjoy reading my writing as much as I do. Study grammar for style – write with your heart. The world will love your every intriguing story. Anytime you would like to contact jcm3blog, send e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We may be low on time, it is only because we try to use it wisely. God bless you and have a wonderful day. 🙂

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.”

An Excerpt…

Many times, as composers of stories and makers of creative works, we endure a great many ideas throughout the day.  As we siphon through these ideas from time to time, we do not always have the time to put our best notions down on paper or out into electronic availability.  I had an idea for a space exploration prompt, for other people, yet with limited response (due to possible near non-exposure), I wrote out an idea for it.  Here it is – it will possibly be published elsewhere this month or later… 🙂

The Fuselage
   From the glossy windows of a small, outer atmosphere born, multi-engine computerized, ceramic-shelled fuselage, five astronauts documented their observations of Earth with on-board imaging technology and documentation devices safely within their space-born exploration and research vehicle.  The team’s lead scientist’s name was Captain Ron Featherton.  His crew of four researchers’ names were Gill, Luke, Isa (short for Isabelle), and Shawn.  The team’s mission?  To observe, document and digitally characterize Earth’s natural radiation belts, normal global geology and external geomorphology, and to journey safely from Earth’s outer atmosphere within normal return velocities.
   After documenting observations, including storms, stars, and pressure movements, the crew was impressed with their flight-specific gathered data and electronic journals.  Upon storing information into their data systems, it was nearing time to venture home.  Just then, however, the lead monitor of engine systems and on-board life, air, navigation systems Secondary Operations Engineer, Shawn, suddenly exclaimed…
   “Captain, our oxygen supply is decreasing due to an unknown malfunction source!  Should we down the two minor engine thrusts to maintain average support systems?”  “No,” said Captain Ron, “We need to leave them running to maintain minimum necessary travel speed – we will be returning to Earth in moments and should not take the risk.”  A small bubbling patch of perspiration beaded unnoticeably upon Shawn’s brow.  “Eye eye, Cap,” said Shawn has he continued to navigate the average-sized spaceship along its normonic path.
   “This is such a marvelous view of our planet and distant celestial sparkling bodies,” observed Gill in a dreamy frame of mind.  She had worked for most of her career to enjoy one single amazing experience such as this one.  “Of the things I have seen during my lifetime,” commented Luke, “There has been none such as marvelous as this one; never before have I viewed such a spectacular view of Earth and our amazing galaxy.”  “I concur,” said Isa, “I will treasure this moment for a lifetime.”
    As the astronauts continued to maintain normal operations, the spacecraft’s instrumentation panel began beeping and going haywire.  “We are losing vital oxygen fast, Captain!” exclaimed Shawn.  “Down the secondary thrusts and engage back-up systems! We will be lucky to survive!”  commanded Captain Ron.  Isa spoke a short prayer.
   Drifting through space the astronauts wondered if they were a part of a moribund exploration, done-for, bereft.  Oxygen continued to weaken as Captain Ron tried to contact home-command.  Unable to do so, the situation grew more terrible.  Due to lack of sufficient air his team of four fell unconscious.  He somehow did not.  Maintaining system controls, Captain Ron was able to bring the ship to a state of tentative normalcy.
   Therein lied his dilemma:  should he risk losing the lives of his team, utilize the oxygen supply in order to return to Mother Earth alive, chance becoming a known and perceived, detested failure, responsible for the deaths of four renown scientists?  “It is a temptation to disengage the pressure controls and drift hopelessly into the bliss of outer space… to suffer the short-lived torture of suffocation and die,” thought the compassionate space-captain, “No one would ever know.”  He had no family to return to, gave the cowardly notion a pinch of dangerous thought.
   The newly engineered, high-tech space-born fuselage allowed no emergency abort capabilities, proved now, to be a deadly capsule due to its systems’ malfunctions.  As he looked upon his crew in tears, the captain released their air supply.  Captain Ron brought the ship’s systems back to complete and normal operation within moments.  He powered up the main thrusts.  The other four died shortly thereafter.  Captain Ron returned to Planet Earth within normal and safe velocities exceeding an approximate 19,817 mph, presented never-before-gathered radiation belt data, sought counselling.

A Frantic Day

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

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.

 

Fiction Parable, no. 1

Parablic Prologue

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!”

♦♦

A Review I Wrote for Michael Milton

Upon reading “Short… “, I was able to re-think what I thought about in regards to writing stories. I have my own way of writing them; it did not change; and this is a wonderful book to read, however. I think it would be worth anyone’s time to share in Milton’s tale of his bath-house story. He discusses writing advice and displays his choices.

The story he writes about takes place in China and utilizes a main character effectively. As we read the story three different times, we see how amazing and real some great ideas can be, how they can come to life. Milton discusses techniques of revision, gives us examples of what his peers had to say about his writing. A great idea for a story to begin with, it is impressive to see how the story evolves into its amazing final draft. It is about the father of a Chinese rock drummer – it almost seems to be a factional account. Broken and torn, the Chinese father and his wife seek a brighter future.

This book is not a grammar or style book. It does not tell us how to construct a story with a specific method. It does cover various techniques, however, and shows us what works best for audiences from time to time and what will not. It would be best to write out a story and then read this book. It is more for inspiration and consideration of a certain piece of work; it is great for someone who is new to creative writing, fun for consideration to those of us who constantly rehash classic literary devices. I like the story, itself, because it uses a protagonist and concludes nicely. The final draft is well-done; he includes links for writing properly and inspiration, too.

Many of the links in the end of the book are still up to date; Milton is on the web. I sent him a compliment on tweeter, earlier, to: @miltonmichael.

I took notes as I read the book. Milton certainly has a natural gift for writing, as seen in his first draft. The story includes the use of a protagonist well, does not have a specific climax. The story did not really need one, as it did not need too much rising action, falling action, or foreshadowing. This is because it was a nice story, and its conclusion was nice. An in-depth denouement is not always necessary for every story, the father’s problems were solved. It was nice and pleasing to have a happy ending. A link to suggested writing resources via Michael Milton is here.

Milton encourages writers to review others’ works and allow others to criticize theirs, too. He uses a cat as a symbol, it is a good part of his story (I agree). Could the cat have been a symbol of luck in regards to the father finding his son? We do not know, at least the main character had the opportunity to seek a happy future. Break downs of his story and explanations were nice, as well as thinking about the line-by-lines (lbls); he does not tell us how he created the characters, scene, main idea of the story, early on.

Commentary on the second draft was fun to read; it reminded me of an intriguing web forum. Critics point out aspects of his story that we would not have noticed, otherwise, necessarily. Some of the criticism may have been more or less opinion-based, however we as writers should never forget the power of a sentence or paragraph or composition that is written properly. Those dreaded messages in red ink that say impossible commands such as, “Re-word” or, “Improper word choice” are not always there when we write on our own. “Showing” us the story with dialogue rather than narrating incidences, for instance, is not always easy to remember to do. We write out the story. It is done. How we choose to present our final draft defines our unique voice. The better we write, the more our reading audience will appreciate the voice we empower.

The final draft was impressive, indeed. All good stories should be published, they say, and how nice is it to see one revised to perfection? Very nice, indeed. Milton goes through a section on tips and tricks; the section makes the book worth reading. The story alone was fine, too. He does mention books on grammar, plotting, character, and style – they are good books. He also includes a resources link on his website, an invaluable path for writing better/well. He mentions his participation in plays, play-write discussions and acting, and how these notions better help us as writers develop our characters/their roles.

In conclusion, the book is a great inspiration for those of us learning to write better. Milton’s idea to present to us a broken down Chinese father who finds his rock-n-roll son after seeing a cat in the rain was great. He used a protagonist properly in a great story, explained to us how well he revised it and what made the story so phenomenal. His concluding thoughts and resources were both inspirational and will come in handy for anyone who decides to use them. I encourage anyone considering writing a story again for the “first time” to read this book; thank you, Michael Milton, for sharing with us your various methods of mayhem. Awesome job.