Sunday, July 29, 2018

Those Darn Kids


Last night my oldest daughter invited us to join her and her husband for dinner.  In my family, as with many others in the world, sharing a meal is important and a wonderful form of intimacy.  We always talk and tell stories around the table.  Last night was no exception.  I’ll share a few from my family and one from my son in law.  Oh, I normally don’t share the names of my family but there is too much here to keep everyone straight.  Here is the scoresheet: 

Oldest son               Daniel
Oldest daughter        Brittany
Youngest son           Wes
Youngest daughter    Lauren
Son in law               Joe

When my children were young, the boys each had their own room and the girls shared one large room.  Most of the stories take place in the girls’ room. 

Normally, I would either read a bedtime story or would make up one on the spot.  We found it to be fun when I used the kids as characters in the stories.  Once stories were done, it was time to sleep.  The boys went to their rooms and so did I.  They boys were quiet if they didn’t actually sleep but the girls…… Brittany loved to cause problems. 

I would hear a commotion coming from their end of the hallway and I loudly state they need to be quiet and go to sleep.  The quiet only lasted a few minutes and noise, again, built gradually from the girls’ room.  Now, you can probably imagine this was a regular thing.  You are right.  What I’m about to describe also happened a lot.  So much so it was hard for me to keep from laughing each time it happened. 

In frustration I would walk up the hall and flipped the switch to turn on the light in their room.  Brittany would be on the floor with a look of mock horror at being caught.  Lauren was in the bed stifling her laughter.  I would demand, with as much authority I could muster while suppressing my own chuckles, that she get her butt in bed and keep it there! AND BE QUIET!

Another common occurrence in that room was the torturing of someone’s favorite stuffed animal.  I once wondered why the ceiling fan in the girls’ room was suddenly wobbly.  I found out the day Wesley came to me upset and crying.  He said Danny took Rainbow, his toy chameleon, and hung it from the ceiling fan.  I go in the room and the plush, rainbow colored lizard was flying circles around the room.  Dan tied a string around the reptile’s neck and the other end was tied to a fan blade.  Wesley couldn’t reach his treasured friend and Dan wouldn’t let him near the switch on the wall to shut off the fan.  Of course, when Wesley left to get me, Dan disappeared. 

Having seen this act by their older brother, the two middle children decided to torture their baby sister.  Lauren had several small plush toys.  Instead of hanging them from the fan, Brittany and Wesley thought it fun to throw the toys into the fan and watch them fly to various parts of the room after hitting a fan blade.  Lauren says she is still scarred by these barbaric actions.  Brittan and Wes still agree it was much fun. 

Joe is the oldest of three boys.  One time Joe decided to beat up on the brother closest to him in age.  Somehow, a mobile phone was turned on and it called his father’s boss’s phone.  If I remember correctly, Joe’s dad and boss were in a meeting.  All they could hear was the sound of once child crying and a kids rampaging around the house.  Of course, Joe’s dad was NOT happy when he got home. 

Moving forward to modern times, not too long ago, Brittany, Joe, Wes, and Lauren all slept in the girls' room one night.  The boys slept on an inflatable mattress and the girls on the other bed.  We had a terrible thunderstorm that night and it woke Brittany with a start.  It scared her and she sat up in bed fearfully announcing, "It's starting!"

Joe, walking down the long corridor of his mind from sleep to consciousness, asked, "What?"

"The end of the world."

Joe was still trying to comprehend what she was talking about when Lauren said with her typical morning grumpiness, "No its not.  Go back to sleep.  Then she rolled over and pulled the covers up closer.  Wesley slept through it all.  

The conversation of snoring came up but I’ll save this topic for another day. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Shorties: Number 60.5



Due to requests, I am adding a conclusion to Shorties: Number 60


Brakes straining, the car stopped beyond where Frank wanted. He felt embarrassed by that.  The kid stepped cautiously toward the car.  Frank rolled down the window.  Looking this way and that and then at the lad, he asked, “You got any snow?”

“Sure, I got snow.  How much you want?  An 8 Ball?” 

Frank’s mind swirled.  There’s a slang word for everything in the drug world.  What the hell is an 8 Ball?”  The voice in his earpiece immediately said, “Yes, take it.  You got enough money.”

“Yeah, an 8 Ball.  How much?”

“For you, 150.”

“His earpiece said, “What the f***!  Is he nuts?”

Frank blurted, “Are you nuts?”

The voice added, “Offer him 100.”

Frank said, “I’ll give you 100.  That’s a fair price.”

The voice chimed, “Good Franky.  You’re a natural at this.”

The kid acted insulted and replied, “Hey look, I don’t gotta sell you nuthin’.”  He turned to leave when the voice said to Frank, “Tell him, you can do 120.”

“Wait-a-minute.  Look, how ‘bout 130.”

His earpiece whispered angrily, “That’s not what I said.”

The boy stopped and returned to the car.  With narrow eyes he defiantly stated, “140.”

“Lemme see what I got.”  He pulled the wallet from his back pocket.  It was full of 20 dollar bills given him an hour ago by one of the drug enforcement officers.  Frank knew he had $200.00.  He held the wallet close to the door and below the car window.  The boy tried to see how much money Frank had.  Frank noted this, gave the boy a dirty look, and lowered the wallet further out of sight. 

Finally Frank said, “Alright you little shit, here’s your 140.  I needed some of that for gas going home.”  Frank extended his arm offering the money.  His hand was trembling with nervous energy.  The boy saw the shaking hand as he snatched the bills from Frank.  He started to count the money.  Impatiently, Frank demanded, “Hey, c’mon.  Gimme my stuff.” 

The boy finished counting and reached into a pocket of his hoodie.  Then he tossed a small zip lock bag into Frank’s waiting hands.  Immediately, the youngster turned and ran up the street.

Frank eyed the contents of the bag as he rolled up the window. Then spoke to those back at the command center, “Alright, I got it.”  He heard applause in his ear and the voice added, “Good job, Franky.”

Completely happy to be leaving the neighborhood, Frank yelled, “Stop calling me Franky, asshole.” 

There was laughter in the background as the voice said, “Sorry ‘bout that.  You are a natural at this.  You really are.  You were able to ad lib a little bit.  We may call you again.”

Frank said nothing.  He was just happy it was done.  With more distance between himself and the drug exchange, Frank started to think maybe, just maybe, he wanted to do it again.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Shorties: Number 61


The press of the crowd blocked her view and progress but Linda caught sight of Paul as he reached the street corner.  What was he doing here?  Her last interaction with Paul shocked her.  With great rapacity, Paul pressured the realtor to make the sale of the property he wanted.  At the time, Paul stated it was the perfect location for the two of them to make a life together.  Like a man possessed, Paul began to badger the realtor and sellers of the apartment.   She’d never seen this side of him before.  It frightened Linda and she broke off the engagement.  That was two months ago and she hadn’t seen until now. 

With eyes locked on Paul, Linda waded through a sea of faces.  Cruise ships docked a few hours ago and they filled the street enroute to the cathedral and other touristic stops.  Freely walking now he was beyond the crowed, Paul suddenly stopped at the corner and retrieved a cell phone from his pocket.  Linda thought to herself it was probably his mother. 

Linda reached the tail end of the crowd when Paul turned toward Linda laughing.  His eyes displayed recognition of his former fiancĂ©.  Linda suddenly remembered she didn’t want to be seen.  She simply wanted to follow him to see what she could learn about the man she nearly married.  Since the day she ended the relationship, many questions entered her mind and Linda simply had to learn how she was so quickly entranced by this man she now thoroughly hated.  How did she not see the warning signs?  B    linded by love wasn’t a sufficient answer. 

With trice movements, Paul turned away and began walking up the street to the left.  Linda questioned whether to pursue him anymore.  Acting casually, she decided to walk in the direction he went.  If she saw him, she would cordially speak with Paul, ask how he is, and wish him well.  Turning the corner left her dumbfounded.  She expected another mass of humanity.  Instead, a mostly desolate street met Linda’s eyes.  Where was Paul? 

Could he have ducked into one of the doors?  That was possible.  He must have run or had magical powers to disappear so quickly.  This vanishing act he just pulled was impressive.  Linda stood for a moment inspecting the few people on the street.  She was certain none were Paul.  It was so incongruent and Linda was stunned.  Slowly, with a mixture of regret and relief, Linda returned to the store. 

On the floor above, a voice behind Paul said, “Ok, I believe you but you have to be more careful.  You can’t be seen by her or the others.”

With contempt, Paul hissed, “Shut up!  I know what I’m doing.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A Couple Things I’ve Learned



Events in life and history don’t happen in a vacuum. 

We tend to look at life and circumstances as being independent of each other.  Not so.  We are a product of everything that has happened to us and those around us. 

Sometimes people are hurt so deeply it alters their life. 

Once the affliction has healed, they will laugh and smile as before but such sparks of light quickly dim as echoes of the knife that once cut them slice anew. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Shorties: Number 60



Heart pounding in his ears, Frank accelerated out of the parking lot and onto the street.  A voice in his hidden earpiece said, “Ok Frank, this is a simple job.  All you gotta do is drive to the neighborhood and pull up to someone on the street.  They will come to your car and you ask how much for some snow?”

New to the police department, the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) recruited Frank for a simple reason.  No one in the neighborhood would recognize him.  The DEU knew there was narcotic activity in the area but needed more details and proof.  Frank simply had to buy some drugs from a person selling it.  Now that he was heading to the neighborhood, Frank wasn’t so sure accepting the job was a smart thing to do.  He replied, “Snow?  What is that?  Cocaine?”

“Yes, but you can call it anything you want. 

Frank approached a curve in the road and depressed the brake pedal.  The car failed to slow and Frank exclaimed, “Shit, shit, shit!”

“Whatsamatter?”

The car finally slowed and Frank blurted, “What kind of f***ing car did you give me anyway?  A Pinto?  Really?  Why you giving me this death trap anyway?”

Frank heard laughter coming from behind the speaker in his earpiece.  Laughing himself, the voice said, “You are a guy who is hooked on drugs and sold off everything to get em.  The Pinto is all you can afford.  Bad brakes just makes you more believable.”

“It’ll also make me dead.  You bastards better not be messing with me or I’ll kill yaz when I get back.”

More laughter. 

“Sorry Frank.  This is legit.  We ain’t messin’ with ya.”

Taking a deep break and giving a big exhale, Frank said, “Ok.” 

There was silence as Frank drove.  He hadn’t been this nervous since playing his first college football game.  Adrenaline pumped through his veins.  He didn’t need cocaine.  He was high on the drugs his body was naturally producing.  He stopped a traffic light at the entrance to the neighborhood.  Frank started mumbling, “Can I do this?  Yes, you can do this.”

The voice in his ear confirmed. “You got this Franky.” 

“I ain’t talkin’ to you!  I got this.”

Chuckles were again in the background but the voice calmly said, “Sorry, Frank.  You can do this though.  You got this.”

Turning the car onto the predetermined street, Frank took in the dark surroundings.  He uttered, “God, this place is a dump.”

“Yep.”

Then he spied a thin youngster.  Instantly, he hoped this was not the person to make the deal.  “God, he’s just a kid.”

“It ain’t the kid we’re after.  We wanna nail his boss and his boss and his boss.”

Frank slowed the car and heard the brakes squeal.  “Here goes nothin’.” 

Brakes straining, the car stopped beyond where Frank wanted. He felt embarrassed by that.  The kid stepped cautiously toward the car.  Frank rolled down the window.  Looking this way and that and then at the lad, he asked, “You got any snow?”

A Time of Need

The last time he saw his mom, Paul spoke the words he had to say.   He recognized her discomfort as she shifted on the bed and redirected he...