Timothy’s Magic Kite

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

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

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

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

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

Fully constructed, Tim brought the magnificent kite to his bedside, as it was nearing 10 pm. His brother and his sister were already asleep; Tim went and checked on his parents before saying his prayers and turning in with his amazing new kite by his bedside. In the middle of the night, Tim awoke and could have sworn he saw his kite floating a foot above the ground, as if it were dreaming of being in the sky. The boy discounted the notion. Surely he was dreaming; he went back to sleep until just before daybreak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A More Healthy Beat

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

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

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

“Okay.”

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

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

“Thank you,” said Officer Lilac.

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

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

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

“How so?”

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

Officer Attens handed Officer Lilac a package of allergy lozenges.

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

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

Secret Garden

“I happen to have a solution for you and Hannah,” said Dr. Voist, “I want to mention a few things before you consider the notion, however. As a neurosurgeon, I look at peoples’ brains all the time. Hannah has a very rare chemical imbalance. It is similar to many imbalances which are easily cured completely with non-addictive medications which usually have minimal to no side effects. These medications, be them hundreds in their number, are not what will help Hannah’s imbalance. There exists only one medication which will, and it still has a 5% chance of not working. I think it will. Our only drawback is that the medication is a new experimental one. It has only been prescribed in the US a few times this last year and is manufactured in Mexico. It will be legal here in the States for a six month time frame and will either be manufactured here or will be unavailable in this country. I think it will work for her, yet it is a tentative solution at best. If you want to try this option, I have a dosage recommendation, one pill a day with breakfast. I would like to see Hannah in seven days, and if everything is okay, within twenty, and then we will consider our options.”

“What are the chances of addiction or side effects?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “I do not think there will be any side effects, and the medicine is a non-addictive chemical which acts very minimally on the balance of brain chemicals -just enough to make things right. Hannah will not notice if she has taken anything, and the twitch in her left eye should no longer occur.” Mr. Goldbeck looked over to Hannah who was listening to every word. “The medicine is experimental?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “It is a new medicine, however I am surprised it has not been manufactured, before. It is a very simple extraction from an herb a doctor in South America isolated. Once it solves the problems it can and will in a healthy way here in the US, which I think and hope it will, pharmaceutical companies will make it here. It may cost a little more then, however it will no longer be experimental.”

“Will her imbalance change over time?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “I am sorry, sir. No. The medication should make her okay, perfectly normal even in adulthood, but she will, in all likelihood, need to take it indefinitely.” “Is the medication expensive?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “No,” said Dr. Voist, “I can get enough free samples of it to last six months. I can even report the success of our story in order to help get the medicine made here in America, so long as it works properly.” “And the new medicine is safe?” asked Hannah. “Safer than Aspirin” said Dr. Voist.

Mr. Goldbeck and Hannah agreed to try out the medicine. Since her birth, she had a twitch in her left eye. Being eleven, she was having trouble reading in school and her fellow classmates were tempted to make fun of her eye. An intelligent, beautiful, and honest girl, the new medication, Zyphan, would hopefully work safely.

The next day Hannah took her medicine and ate an over-easy egg with a piece of toast with jam and a large glass of milk. Her normal eye twitch was still there all day. You get what you pay for, thought Mr. Goldbeck. The next day she took the medicine again, as prescribed, and ate another decent breakfast. Her twitch was still there, yet she could not tell if it had gotten better. At least it did not worsen. The next few days she stayed true to her practices and the twitch bothered her much less. It was if she never had one.

The week flew by and Mr. Goldbeck and his daughter, Hannah, went to see Dr. Voist. The doctor checked her out and asked her a few questions. She said the twitch went away gradually. The doctor kept a close eye on Hannah for about twenty minutes while having a conversation with Mr. Goldbeck. During their previous visit, Hannah’s eye would have twitched at least one time during ten minutes. The doctor was sure the medication worked.

“Have you experienced any health issues such as having to go potty too often or rashes?” asked the doctor. “Not that I know of,” said Hannah, remaining as honest as possible. Mr. Goldbeck had is concerns, yet he thanked the doctor. “I think you will be fine,” said Dr. Voist. “Be sure not to miss our next appointment. It is important to make sure that their exist no side effects and that the medication is still performing properly.” Mr. Goldbeck and Hannah thanked the doctor once more and promised to return as requested.

The twenty days flew by. Hannah did better in school with her reading and her twitch was a thing of the past, did not even occur. She went with her father to the doctor who said he planned to write a good report to help facilitate the new medication’s manufacture in the United States.

During the next five months Dr. Voist did what he could to send information to the right people and entities. The medication did not work for other children and adults throughout the country. Whether it was because people did not take the medicine properly or practiced improper dieting was unknown to him. To his and Mr. Goldbeck’s disdain, the medicine was not able to be made in the United States. The medicine was also unable to be obtained in the US, and Dr. Voist spoke with Mr. Goldbeck about possibilities.

“The twitch in Hannah’s eye is minimal,” said Dr. Voist, “However I understand your dilemma. She does better in school and the children don’t make fun of her eye anymore. From my perspective, I wanted the medicine available to keep her brain chemicals in balance in a healthy way. The imbalance does cause her eye to twitch, however it can also effect both cognitive development and overall thought process. I do not have an alternative medication. If you do not want Hannah’s imbalance to return, you are going to have to go to Mexico for the medicine. I have an address of a pharmacy down there. It is cheap in comparison to other medicine. Your only problem is having to leave and come back with it. It won’t be illegal to bring it back, as you will have a prescription. One trip and you should have enough to last her for three years. The medicine won’t stay ‘viable’ after that, however by then there is the chance Zyphan can be manufactured here. It’s our only hope, for now.”

This news was no problem for Mr. Goldbeck. He was happy he was going to be able to get the medicine, after all. A trip to Mexico would not be too hard, he had vacation time stacked up from his corporate job from three years back. Hannah would be okay, and within three years the medicine was sure to be available in the US.

Mr. Goldbeck spoke with those whom he worked with and planned to take a trip down to Mexico. What fun. All went well. His boss did not mind and things were sure to be okay at work. His SUV was less than two years old and running well, as he always kept it maintained properly. He even had a spare gas tank installed up in the back of the vehicle from when he went to Canada the year before hunting elk with some of his co-employees. The trip was sure to be a success.

The first day of Mr. Goldbeck’s vacation came and he kissed his daughter on the forehead, as well as his wife, as he had his SUV packed and ready to go before daylight, thanks to a double java mocha he drank at 5AM. He gave Hannah’s younger brother, Willy, a mild noogie, and departed.

The open road was great, as was Mr. Goldbeck’s GPS navigation system and cruise control. Whoever said the interstate highway system showed no signs of beautiful country? Mr. Goldbeck begged to differ, as the scenery was far more impressive than the routine life he had been living.

Mr. Goldbeck crossed the border with no problem and made his way south. The GPS worked perfectly. Nine hours into Mexico, he found the Dr.’s office on the map Dr. Voist gave him and went inside.

Mr. Goldbeck knew at least sixty words in Spanish, yet was still happy to find that the doctor he was speaking with was fluent in many languages. Having a long conversation, the Mexican doctor explained how simple the medication was and why it was rare. The plant, common even further south of them, contained a rare chemical which acts very minimally on humans’ brains with a very specific chemical imbalance. Mr. Goldbeck, the curious and intelligent man he was, asked the doctor how difficult it would be to extract the chemical from the plant by hand. “Totally easy,” said the doctor, and drew a diagram on paper showing how to do such a thing with water and a few simple forms of glass ‘apparati.’

“Would it be hard for me to find a plant of this nature?” asked Mr. Goldbeck. “No,” said the doctor, and he drew Mr. Goldbeck a map to a small city further south. Mr. Goldbeck thanked the doctor and departed with 1,000 pills of Zyphran. Mr. Goldbeck decided to travel south, surely it would be no problem to find this plant. After all, it was common.

Mr. Goldbeck, who often went by Ron, drove for a while in the night down a dirt road. He pulled over tired and slept ’till sun up and continued to drive. He drove and drove and drove, only occasionally seeing an old sign on the dirt road indicating he was on the right path to the village he was headed to.

Ron found the village. He spoke with people and found a medicine woman, who said she would happily give him his choice of five of one the plants for some dinero. Ron handed her a hundred and said the plant was important. The medicine woman nearly fainted and brought him to her small backyard. She had all kinds of small plants and fruit bushes growing in pots and flower beds on top of old malnourished and dry soil. “I would give you all five of them,” she said, “But I need to keep four to save seeds.” Mr. Goldbeck nodded as he understood. “I keep them here even though they grow wild and are not too hard to find,” she explained, “I keep them to keep the seeds.” She brought him back inside and showed him a large preservative jar half full of seeds of the rare plant. “Though I cannot give you but one plant, I can give you a sack of seeds,” she said. Mr. Goldbeck thanked her happily and gladly accepted a sack of seeds and the mid-sized plant of the five he saw. She thanked him, too, and he headed north.

Crossing the border with a plant and a sack of seeds was all Mr. Goldbeck had ever dreamt of, not to mention the pills with a prescription which looked like he could have written it himself, short a little blue stamp on the left side of the document. I might as well be smuggling contraband. Again, Mr. Goldbeck was no fool. He knew the customs at the border would at least inquire of his reason for travel. His medication would be on the front seat with the prescription.

The rear seat of his SUV contained an under-seat compartment with a key-hole lock for storing hunting rifles. Only a few hours from the border, Mr. Goldbeck slowed to a stop beside the road and carefully locked up the plant and the seeds under the back seat. It should be fine for three hours. He drove to the customs and they asked him to step out of his SUV. Ron did so and noticed some mud on the bottom of his vehicle, it was not much, however it was there. The officers brought a drug dog who scoped out the vehicle and did not find anything, and the officers inquired of the pills on the front seat. “Asthma medicine for my daughter,” said Mr. Goldbeck. Two officers looked at the prescription and let Mr. Goldbeck depart.

Ron drove his SUV up the interstate, relieved. He did not forget about the plant under the back seat and pulled over after driving for half an hour or so.  He pulled the plant and the seeds out. He put the seeds and the pills and the prescription in the center console, and secured the plant in a middle seat with a seat built. The A/C was fine, so he left the windows up. Ron drove all the way home, safely, only stopping once for gasoline.

Ron’s wife was happy he made it back and he still had five days left before returning to his job he loved and endured. His wife thought the plant was illegal and he assured her that it was not. Hannah was happy that she would not have a twitching eye for the next three years, at least, and they all went to sleep.

The next day was Saturday morning and Ron’s wife, Spring, woke up early to analyze the medicine plant. “Do you think it makes flowers?” asked Spring. “It has to,” said Ron, “Because it makes seeds. It is probably an annual.” She was amazed with these notions. “We have to hide it,” said Spring, “It’s pretty but we cannot risk it being taken. It’s not against the law if they don’t know.” “Honey, it is not illegal; no one will know we have it.” “Our friends and neighbors come here, will they not see it? We have to keep it secret; I am telling you.” “What do you suggest we do spring? Put it in a cabinet with a fan and a light?” Spring went deep into thought. Ron watched as she continued to process ideas.

“The bookshelf,” said Spring. “What?” said Ron. “Our bookshelf in front of Auntie’s room.” Auntie was Spring’s sister who stayed with them a while when sick and moved to work in another city once well. “The bookshelf is in front of one of two large walk-ins of the room. Let’s knock off a door knob, paint a hole, and install a weight-pulley.” “A what?” asked Ron. “It will be like in the movies,” said Spring, “You pull a specific book from the shelf and it opens to reveal the space behind it. You can grow the seeds and keep the plant alive in there. I am sure you can ventilate it somehow.” “We have a windowsill,” said Ron. Spring looked into his eyes with a pleading puppy-dog expression. “It’s for Hannah,” said Spring, and Ron decided construction was fun.

Spring and Ron analyzed the bookshelf and the closet and took measurements and went to the hardware store. They came back with all the supplies they found deals on and a two foot-long receipt. They worked together over the weekend and turned the bookshelf into a revolving door, the kind like in the movies, complete with a weight pulley. They re-painted the entire wall on the other side with matched paint, and it was perfect. The completed project included a vented flush closet and an ambient light system, controlled with a timer and misting mechanism. The plant from Mexico was sure to flourish, and the few seeds Ron and Spring planted would surely grow fine. Already able to grow well, they were confident the plants would sprout and survive, and they did.

Throughout the next year Hannah took her medicine and ate breakfast every morning. Dr. Voist was always happy to see her and happy that her eye was fine. He promised he would continue his efforts in getting Zyphran manufactured in the US. Zyphran was never made in the US, yet Ron and Spring kept their secret garden healthy for years and years, learning to pollinate the plants with a live bee once a year and also how to make the medicine to the proper dosage for Hannah.

Hannah went to college to become a professor and did so. She stayed on her medication and married a colleague she fell in love with, and they all lived happily ever after.

Shawn Before Dawn, A Story

I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock – it was 4:58 AM. “Today is an important day,” I remembered. I turned off the alarm before it sounded and slammed the four fluid ounces of coffee I sat by it the night before. I went to the restroom, shaved, showered, got ready as quickly as possible making sure I did not forget anything I considered the previous day. Today is important. My boss is buying me lunch and may even further explain why his daughter left me.

The sun was not yet up and the traffic still sparse. I pulled into the gravel drive, as always, and parked in a familiar place. In only fourteen short months I had moved up in the construction company my boss owns and runs from Laborman to Crew Leader Assistant to Crew Leader. My crews always operated in an efficient and timely manner. They ate my egg burritos like Pavlovian study dogs. Recently I was given the responsibility of an entire project and am currently over three crews in the process of demolition and reconstruction of an entire wing of a colossal warehouse facility.

I am minutes early and I know it. I make a habit of it and no one complains or is ever surprised. For this reason I have the key to the trailer office, our companies temporary onsite headquarters. Today would not be so bad. My crew knows how to do what they do well, and we have our goals to meet by the end of the day. I turn the key to open the trailer and it breaks off inside the keyhole. Just what I need. Closed to half an hour until I see a living human and I am stranded with a sack of egg burritos.

I sat on the wooden steps and watched the dark blueish purple misty sky fade into the orange of dawn behind scattered clouds of thin fog. I thought back. Not too long ago I decided to give college a rest for a while and move back in with parents until I found work. I found work and met Mallen. She and I worked for a small restaurant which sold pizza and tacos; she mentioned her dad owned a construction company.

“Damn,” I thought, “Just when there was no chance of moving out.” I enquired of the difficulty or chances of my working for her father and she said I could probably hire in as labor with no experience, that he was hiring about a dozen workers during the next four weeks.

I am not the kind of guy that ignores the chance of love. This time it did not work out, yet I at least gave the woman no cold shoulder. Mallen mentioned she was in nearly my same situation as she was living with her parents and wanted to find a place. She would starve and die before working for her dad, even though he was probably the single most powerful contractor in our city of over 4,000,000 people.

I got a newspaper and road around with Mallen a few afternoons in a row and we found an inexpensive flat and signed a 3-month form. I went to work for her dad and ‘kicked as much ass as possible,’ so to speak, always being on time and getting as much physical labor accomplished as humanly conceivable. I thought she and I got along fine. I never really noticed how intelligent Mallen really was, nor did I notice that she did not speak her thoughts very often.

Our place was fine and included two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study room, four closets, and a small television room with two couches. She moved plenty of stuff in there including kitchenware and plenty of personal belongings. I kept my work clothes, an old radio, an alarm clock, and a few changes of clothes, only. We were never more than companions, if that.

Still on the wooden steps, I cannot help but remember the night Mallen changed the locks. After work I went to a local bookstore and got a coffee and a best seller. Gotta love that John Grisham. It was late in the evening and I went to a bar. I don’t drink, but the sandwiches there are great and only cost a few dollars a piece. The bartender had no problem telling me of his life’s career, and I had no problem eating five sandwiches and enjoying four complimentary iced apple sodas.

It was 1Am by the time I headed back to the flat. I knew Mallen had been looking for a new job and was interviewing with the airport. When I got back, the locks were changed and there was a note on the door: “Got the job – Mallen.” I was confused.

Sleeping in my truck that night to go to work on Saturday morning was no big deal for me. It was the surprise. Was she okay? Did we not even have a chance at this thing called love? Surely there could have been a spark. If nothing else, I could have grown to like her more.

It did not take me but a few days to find a new place. My crew leader at the time helped me find a one-bedroom flat and I signed another form. Then I had no distractions. I could work, work, work, then sleep, eat, and work some more. As happy as I was, I was still confused with Mallen. Again, I just thought we may have been able to grow closer together, somehow.

Only seconds had gone by and I saw my boss pulling up in the glowing dawn of the morning. Before, he simply said, “Like she said, Shawn, she got the job.” Knowing that is all he would probably say again, today, at least I’ll get a nice lunch and a chance to thank the man.

“Good morning Shawn!” hollered Mr. Bruno, “Sleeping on the job?” “I am sorry, sir. I broke my key in the lock.” I stood and removed the broken piece from the lock and he unlocked it. “Just there for a second I bet you thought my daughter got another job,” chuckled Mr. Bruno, and it was hard not to laugh.

We went about our normal routine and my crew got a great deal of work done that day. Noon was approaching. I gave them the burritos and went to find Mr. Bruno. We made our way to a Deli and he got us both a couple of roast beef sandwiches with smoked parmesan and sautéed peppers. Good stuff.

“My apologies for my confusion, Mr. Bruno. Thank you for buying me lunch and, as always, I know you know I am grateful to be able to work for you.”

“I understand your confusion. Mallen wrote a letter for me to read to you when I mentioned you showed concern.”

Mr. Bruno read the letter to me and it was mostly about being career oriented, human dominance and all. She said I was a nice, hard-working fellow and was sure I would find the right woman, eventually. She would be working two jobs for a few weeks and then for the airport on a longterm basis if all went well, that plenty of people seek leaders in the world, and we both are surely ‘doyens of our herds.’

“So she did not think I was moving to fast or not fast enough or that I was cheating on her or anything. This abrupt separation was solely career oriented and had mostly to do with us both being headstrong.”

“I think that about sums it up,” said Mr. Bruno, “And I see you shaking in your boots there, fearless ‘doyen.'”

“How so?”

“Are you not concerned of your performance at work?”

“I planned to enquire nonchalantly.”

“Well, I want you to know that you are one of my best. Keep up the good work and you will have less and less to worry of. I gave you the promotion because of your good work and ability to lead others, to get the job done right and make our customers happy when the situation presented itself. Three weeks from now we are signing a new contract. You will be a part of it, just below the head foreman. As for Mallen I think she will be fine and appreciate your understanding. Everything okay?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Bruno and thank you.”

“No problem.”

We went back to work and all went well. A few weeks flew by and I was on the new jobsite in no time and we all did great. Two years went by and I moved up to foreman, and was responsible for over two hundred workers. I had put Mallen out of mind, completely, bought a small house not too far from the city, and all was well.

Then, I happened to see Mr. Bruno and his wife at the grocery store one evening when I went to get a frozen pizza. A world of words could have come from my mouth… the weather, work, anything, and I heard myself say, “So, how is Mallen?” I felt about as brilliant as a broken lightbulb at midnight. Mr. Bruno’s wife grinned and looked to Mr. Bruno. He said, “She worked six and seven days a week for 22 months for the airport and started her own business in our neighboring state. She would not even let me introduce her to anyone.”

Somehow relieved, I asked, “What kind of business did she start?”

Mr. Bruno said, “A construction firm.”

··· Post Story Relations ···

The story above is one I enjoyed writing. When reading about writing, we always hear, “Write what you know.” For me, I like to consider what I do not really know much about, research the topic, and go from there with character, setting, and plot development. This time, though, I went with something I am more familiar with. I may not have included very much fancy description and totally refrained from the absence of the passive voice and broke plenty of grammatical rules (hidden verbs included), however I thought the story was fun and hope you enjoyed reading it. I have always found it a difficult thing to write a story in the present while speaking about the past without the infamous passive voice. At least, I hope, it was fun.

I must mention, though, that I wrote this story from an idea from a writing prompt. The real story I submitted to here, was for the Your Story competition held every eight weeks or so by Writer’s Digest. I always check out the contest and read the winners, yet hardly ever make the time to enter. After all, I am working on another book. It is my first full-blown novel. It has been exciting so far, and I hope it will be fun to read for all ages, fantasy. The Your Story prompt this time really sent my thoughts into other universes. It was almost hard to believe that so few words could inspire so much possibility.

My first thought was to go with a discussion between lawyers, then a receptionist speaking with a disgruntled man, then many others. In the story I submitted, which was to be under 700 words, I stuck with dialogue only. After about 550 words I was done, even though I figured I would really have to trim down a first draft to enter. Surprise surprise. I probably could have been more eloquent with the use of our wonderful language – at least I sent them something. In case you have never heard of the word ‘doyen,’ I found it with a thesaurus. I knew it was a rare word for some, the next best thing to a neologism (like jobsite or colloquialisuhm).

As I am not as refined with dialogue stories as many and surely am not the leading master of this planet’s prose, I wanted to write out the story in a fun and rewarding way for my readers and myself as well. I like to use ‘he said’ and ‘she said;’ call me a third grader, but I dislike nothing more than dialogue which confuses the speakers only seven lines into a thirty some-odd line script we commonly see in best-selling novels.

So, I hope you read and enjoyed “Shawn Before Dawn”, and I also hope you take part in Writer’s Digest competitions such as their annual writing competitions and Your Story, no matter your skill level. I plan to become more involved in the world of literary appreciation/presentation, eventually, will die trying if I never meet my goals. I do appreciate you for reading and please, let me know if you entered the Your Story Competition or others. I love feedback and am always happy to hear of others’ attempts in regards to their efforts. 🙂

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.

Why Check Out Writer’s Digest and Goodreads?

goodreads          writersdigest

Recently, I sent a message on twitter to a famous author named R. A. Salvatore. I plan to read at least one of his books this year, as I somehow have not read any of his work, before. I sent him a friend’s request to communicate with him on goodreads.com. He said he already spends to much time on the web -I cannot imagine how involved an author of his status is with the web.

Nevertheless, I sent him a message recommending he at least check out goodreads.com and writersdigest.com. Goodreads is the platform for discussing books, finding books others have read, sharing discussions on books, and communicating with authors. For people like myself who have a book with sales under 10 copies and are working on writing more books, goodreads is like a double-cheese hamburger to a hungry American. Just ask Michael Sullivan or check out his Writer’s Digest article; he is a ‘Goodreads Master.’ People seeking to learn more about other authors or who are trying to promote their own work somehow should definitely get involved with goodreads.

Writer’s Digest is the source for all authors. The publication includes novel contests, ways to find agents, ways to find market listings for short stories, and books on writing. The books on writing are great for those with and without college degrees in English. Any author who visits writersdigest.com will find something of interest to them. For writers, like myself, who have not yet ‘surpassed the bell curve’ of becoming a full time author as a vocation, Writer’s Digest is a publication we should subscribe to, as its advice and information in regards to the business of writing is always priceless.

So, if you have never become involved with these two sites, at least check them out. Click on the two links to open a new tab in your browser and click on their tabs for at least a few minutes to see what they are all about. Goodreads is free, and writersdigest has plenty of free and interesting content. You learn even more if you subscribe to their publication and receive current articles on what is going on in the world of publishing. If for no other reason, view them to see what other authors are up to. I like to read what editors like Brian Klems and his colleagues have to say about writing and literary techniques. I just do not think the two sites are a waste of time.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it was beneficial for all who have. To my new followers and those who have recently ‘liked’ a post, “Thank you.” Communicate with me by sending an e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We love feedback here.  🙂

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.

 

The Van Man

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.

Joy in the Night

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