The Runaway

The Write Practice today asks up to write a scene about a young man or woman walking through London. First in present tense, then in past tense. Here’s my version:

As I walk I’m careful where I put my feet, not wanting to step in some trash or trip over some litter, perhaps a child’s broken toy left lying. Now and then I stop to study the buildings around me, the tenement row houses and run-down apartment blocks. Cramped quarters where you try hard to shut your ears, not wanting to know about the shouts, cries, maybe even screams of your neighbours. Maybe hoping that it’s at least not the children getting the beating. But you tune it all out. You have enough problems of your own.

Snatches of conversation I’m hearing tell me a lot of immigrants are starting out life in Britain right here on these streets. How do they feel now about the Promised Land?

A gust of wind blows at my skirt and I smooth it down, trying to stay decently covered. Three black-haired, black eyed young men in a huddle look my way; one of them whistles. As I pass by they look me over, curious, but I’m too old for them. I give myself a mental shake and straighten my shoulders. I’m not some teenage runaway; I have business here.

How did she end up on these streets? And why am I here, trying to find her? This is madness. Again I pray for a miracle: Could she somehow just materialize in front of me.

When I get to the street corner my eyes scan the sign posts, willing “Faust Street” to appear on one of them. Next time I’m taking a cab right to her door. No, I correct myself. There won’t be a next time. Ever.

Surely it can’t be much farther. I plod on, conscious that the daylight’s disappearing. I glance up into the murky sky and realize the fog is rolling in. What would it be like to be caught wandering these East End streets in a pea soup fog. My mind flips to the story of Jack the Ripper. I force myself to think about my flower garden at home.

A man approaches, walking toward me, and something makes me look in his face. It’s not the scars that startle me, but the look in his eyes. Like a wolf sizing up a silly ewe. And I’m seeing myself very fitted to the role of lamb kebab.

At this moment finding her seems not half as important as it did an hour ago. All my being is crying to be out of this place, off these streets.

The man is so close to me now I can smell the stale tobacco on his clothes. He stops and eyes me too thoroughly. He seems to think he knows what I’m doing here. Well I’m not, mister! I take a several steps back.

“Where ye going’ lady? He reaches out his hand, gripping my arm with strong fingers. I’d like ta get ta know ye.” He pulls me toward him.

Half a block behind him I see a bobby step out of a shop and look in our direction. Thank God!

Real Grandma Behavior

I just finished a cozy mystery where the protagonist is a spunky 60-ish widow living alone on her farm. According to the story she was babysitting her five-year-old twin grandsons one evening when she glanced out the window and saw a prowler in the semi-darkness. The adult male entered her old barn by a side door and disappeared inside.

The next morning the two boys asked to play in the empty barn, but first Grandma wanted to be sure it was safe. So she left the boys in the house alone and went out to the barn to check for the intruder. She looked the downstairs over, then went to the steps leading to the hayloft. Thinking she may need some defense, she grabbed a shovel that was standing near and up she went.

I myself am a 60-ish woman and there is no way on earth I would:
A) leave the matter of a prowler until morning without reporting it.
B) leave five-year-old rambunctious boys in the house alone while I went to check.
C) enter any building in a remote setting if I’d seen a prowler lurking.
D) kid myself into thinking a shovel would be any kind of defense.

I would be too afraid of what might happen to myself — seeing he may well be armed with something more effective than a shovel. Even if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t take much for him to grab the shovel and bonk me a good one.

My second worry would be what this prowler would do to the children once he had me out of the way. Even if the intruder bopped me and took off, how long would I be out cold and who would supervise my darling grands? (Mine aren’t apt to be such terrors, but the boys in this book sure were!)

I like page-turners, but don’t really appreciate unrealistic or stupid behavior on the part of main characters, done just to create more tension. Just for fun, I wrote the scene you might sooner see at my house. (Maybe you can understand why I don’t write cozies?)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Officer Blake pounded on the front door again, then sighed. Was this going to be another of these twittery old ladies with an overactive imagination? Then he heard feet pounding down the hallway. Children in the house?

The door creaked open and a little guy barely big enough to reach the knob was peering out at him. Blake gave the boy a friendly grin. “Hey there. Is your Mom here?”

The boy, still staring at Blake’s uniform, shook his head. Another one exactly the same size piped up from behind him. “Our Mom’s gone away. We’re staying with Grandma this weekend. Who are you?”

“Who do you think I am?”

“Are you a fireman? I wanna be a fireman when I grow up,” the second lad answered.

“Hey, that’s great! No, I’m a policeman and your grandma called me. What are your names?”

“I’m Janson,” the second twin told him. “But Dad calls me Janx.

“And I’m Devon,” said the first, still clutching the door knob.

“Is your grandma here right now?”

“She’s in the bedroom,” Devon told Blake in a whisper, obviously still in awe of his uniform.

“Can I come in and talk with her?”

“You’re supposed to say, ‘May I’,” said Janx. “Our Mom always says we have to.” Devon nodded vigorously in agreement.

“Oh, yes. I forget sometimes. May I see your grandma then?”

“Okay. She’s in her bedroom pulling stuff out from under her bed.”

The two boys led the way. “There she is,” said the first, pointing to a pair of feet sticking out from under the bed.

What on earth! Is she alive? was Blake’s first thought. But then he saw the feet twitch.

“Excuse me, Mrs Poule. You called the Station to make a complaint about a prowler?”

The sixty-something lady dragged herself back out from under the bed and sat on her heels. “Oh, Officer! Thank goodness you’re here. Yes, I want you to check it out right away.”

Blake noted the tubs filled with yarn, gift wrap and such lying on the floor around the bed. “Did I catch you doing some spring cleaning, ma’am?”

“Spring cleaning nothing. I’m making a safe place for the three of us to hide in case that prowler turns out to be an escapee from some institution.”

“I really doubt that, ma’am, but I’ll certainly check him out for you.”

Janx stepped up right beside Blake. “Are you going out to shoot him? Can—I mean, may—we watch? We’ll keep real quiet.”

“I don’t want to,” Devon murmured. “There might be blood. Ick!”

“Cool!” his brother shot back.

“No, I’m not going to shoot him. I’ll just shoo him away,” Officer Blake told the boys. “He’s probably just a homeless fellow looking for a place to spend the night.” Then he turned back to their grandma. “Can you give me any description of the man?”

“Well, it was dark, but he seemed really tall. He was carrying a flashlight. The beam shone on his face one time so I did get a look at it. I’d say he looks about how your average axe-murderer might.”

Blake grinned. Well, at least this woman wouldn’t be rushing out and putting herself in danger. He thought he’d better reassure her a bit before he went out to the barn. “You know, it could be he’s just a hunter who’s gotten lost.”

Mrs. Poule stared at him for a moment. “When did hunting season end?”

Blake thought a moment. Whoops! “About two months ago,” he admitted.

“Then he’s really lost. I think you better get out there and redirect him pronto.”

Now Mrs. Poule grabbed Janx and Devon each by the arm and dragged them toward the bed. “Crawl under here, boys. I’ll let you know when it’s safe to come out.”

Janx wailed in protest. “But Grandma, we wanna see his gun!”

“Hush. Just get under here. I’ll hide in the closet.” She turned to Blake. “Ring the doorbell three times when the coast is clear. If I don’t hear it the boys will.”

“I’m sure they will.” Officer Blake winked at Janx. Then he nodded at Mrs. Poule. “Will do, ma’am.”

He headed back to the front door, all the while hearing the twins protesting. “But Grandma, we wanna see…”

Easy-Peasy

“Why spend money on a plumber? I can change these taps myself. Nothing to it.”

“Of course you can,” I assured my husband as I watched him study the instructions. Then he tightened a pipe wrench around something under the sink.

Oh faithless creature! With one hand I was reaching for the phone directory. As soon as I heard the ominous crunch of a broken pipe I started dialing.

The last plumber listed agreed to come ASAP, but first he instructed us on how to shut off the main valve that connected us to the city water supply. That we managed.

With apologies to DIY husbands everywhere, I offer my little fiction tale with 100 words.

Heigh Ho, Silver!

NEW ISLAND DISCOVERED

This was yesterday’s daily prompt, but I didn’t have the time to write it yesterday. So now I’m going to incorporate today’s prompt —with no apologies — and post the tale I dreamed up which includes the number 110,815.

This amazing headline splashes across the front page of today’s Saskatoon Star & Planet:

New island discovered in the South Pacific Ocean
News item by Sask-Info reporter Mickey Wasylkowski

The world is agog this week following the discovery of a completely unknown inhabited island approximately 3000 km SE of New Zealand. Known to local inhabitants simply as Ork, the island has been named Schoenfeldeslandia after the Austrian adventurer, Matt Schoenfeld, whose hot air balloon ran out of oomph and came down there two weeks ago.

In the following article Sask-Info roving news reporter Mickey Wasylkowski will give us an update on his visit to the newly discovered island, along with details of his interview with one of the inhabitants.

Reporter: One of the first things I learned upon arriving on the island: amazingly enough, a few of the natives have learned enough English to communicate with me. An elderly gentleman by the by the name of Glum has agreed to an interview. My first question, of course, was how he’d learned English.

Glum: One time many summers ago we go fishing far, far away in boat. Storm come; wind blow us. We land in strange place. Other boat, men from some far tribe, they land too. They have radio. They listen all the time. They say they learn that language, go to America, get big time rich. We stay there twenty full moons. Listen to radio. Learn how you speak, your words.

Reporter: That’s amazing! So you stayed with those other fishermen on that island and learned English. Did you find English words difficult?

Glum: I young then. My tongue twisted better than now. English not so hard.

Reporter: Good thing you never had to try spelling it. Can you tell me Glum, how many words are there in your language?

Glum: We have 110815 words. You see, Orksam very easy language.

Reporter: Wow. Just over 110 thousand words. And did you know English has over 500,000 words —plus another 500,000 technical terms. What do you think of that, Glum?

Glum: You English talk too much.

Reporter: So you spent a enough time with those other men to learn English from the radio. And then what? Obviously you made it home again.

Glum: Build new boat. Come home to our island. I remember English all these years.

Reporter: I’m curious about the men with the radio. I suppose they built a boat and returned to their own tribe, too? It’s a wonder they didn’t let the world know of your existence here.

Glum: We bash them. No want them find our island. They come here, maybe they take our women away. Bad habit men have. We bash anyone who come here. We no like tourists. They bring big time noise; leave junk behind.

Reporter: Err… I see. So that’s how you remained an undiscovered island all this time. I guess Matt Schoenfeld can be thankful he had a crew along, keeping track of his whereabouts at all times.

Glum: Too bad. Too many for us to bash. Now you come, too. Did you bring Silver?

Reporter: Silver? Are we expecting we would bring silver?

Glum: You know Silver? ‘Heigh ho, Silver, away.’

Reporter: Oh! That Silver. The Lone Ranger’s horse.

Glum: Yes. Lone Ranger. Him smart man. Silver smart horse. I want see smart horse. You no bring Silver horse?

Reporter: No, I’m afraid not. Wow! You must have been listening to radio back in the 50s.

Glum: Lone Ranger good. But then come too much noise. Rock & Roll. We throw radio in ocean. Bash men, throw them in ocean. Go home. Now you come. We bash you, too. That the way cookie crumbles.

Reporter: I can assure you, Glum, that my news team is here only in the interest of information. We have no intention of taking your women away or bringing tourists to overrun your lovely island. We will go away tomorrow and leave you in peace.

Glum: Peace good thing. But no Silver?

Reporter: Well, maybe we could arrange to ship a few silver horses to your island. Would that make you happy?

Glum: You bring Silvers, no steal women or seashells, no bring tourists or radios, we no bash you.

Reporter: It’s a deal.

End of interview. By SaskInfo roving reporter Mickey Wasylkowski reporting directly from Schoenfeldeslandia.

Instant Addiction

Blame Emily Wenstrom. She started this.

Two days ago I clicked on and was reading the latest post at one of my favorite writing blogs, The Write Practice. This particular post gave us five different sources for writing prompts, all of them loaded with potential for whatever we want to write.

I need more writing time — less procrastination — and more stick-to-it (aka perseverance) but I really do not need more bright ideas. Nevertheless I followed the link to an innocent looking site called diymfa.com. And there I found a type of writer’s slot machine called Writer Igniter. Four wheels to whirl around, generating writing prompts.

Different characters, events, props, and scenes tumble around until they finally settle on (i.e.):
— Runner-up…finds a baby on the doorstep…basketball…a lane through the woods
— Mime…receives the wrong direction…tickets to a sold-out event…downtown tourist spot near a castle
— Garbage truck driver…inherits something bizarre…something new…cobblestone streets, old stone buildings, a lake in the background.

Or whatever. There are oodles of main characters, situations, prompts and scenes that may turn up. Ignited — or just plain hooked — I sat here clicking spinning the wheels, amazed at the endless possibilities. My creative mind started throwing together stories around all these prompts. And I realized:

I’m weak. I’d better never step up to a real slot machine!

Yes, my current micro-addiction is harmless and temporary, but it does give me a tiny glimpse of the enticement people succumb to — sometimes intelligent, highly educated people — when they mess with slot machines. One lady, a bank manager, confessed that the very first time she stepped into a casino, she was hooked. She almost lost everything, including her marriage, before she went into addiction counseling.

Being weak myself, I can feel some compassion here.

Actually, the writing prompts here are pretty good and I’m including the link in case you really are stuck for writing ideas. But if you’re already bursting with stories and/or articles you need to get started on/finish, best don’t go there. Like me, you may lose half an hour just spinning those wheels to see what turns up.

But, hey! I gained a bit more compassion — and a blog post.☺

Troy’s Wake-Up Call

WHAM!

As a reward for our recent hard work, our sales team had chosen to spend a few days at a resort renowned for its golf greens. I was coming in with my small plane and everything was A-okay.  Visibility was great; the tarmac stretched out invitingly; my landing gear was unfolding as it should.

It would have been a perfect landing — if only those crazy birds had stayed put.

In my descent I could see the fairway on my left farther up. I also took note of the winding stream below as I brought my small plane down, focused on the strip of asphalt ahead. I never saw the two birds they say rose up from the river below. I only felt a violent jerk as something hit the prop and I lost control.

I vaguely recall a tumbling, falling sensation, the far-off wail of sirens. I remember thinking at one point, Guess my buddies will have to play without me, ‘cause I won’t be making it to the fairway today.

I woke up flat out on a bed, hearing blimps and bleeps from machines and soft voices. Definitely hospital sounds. I tried to open my eyes or turn my head, but my body was like stone. I couldn’t stay awake.

I came to later, hearing familiar voices right near my bed. My wife, Lacey, my mom and dad. They were murmuring, talking about the crash of a small plane, a bird in the prop. Bit by bit the memory came back to me.  I tried to make some noise. I tried moving my hand, my foot — anything to let them know I was awake — but my body wouldn’t co-operate. I couldn’t even tell that I even had arms or legs. Maybe I didn’t? That thought scared the living daylights out of me. But I couldn’t open my eyes to check.

HOW LONG?

“How long do you think it will be until he comes out of this, doctor?” I could hear the fear in Lacey’s voice.

Another voice, professional, yet kind. “We can never be sure. A lot of patients with similar injuries come to within a week or two. Some don’t.”

NO! I don’t want to lie here another week or two, I want to get up, move around. Then his last words buzzed around in my brain, torturing me. Some don’t. Ever.

“When he does come to again, what are the chances that Troy will live a normal life?” Dad’s voice. Always the optimist, he wouldn’t take ‘never’ for an answer.

“That’s impossible to determine until he wakes up and we assess how much neurological damage has been done.”

Hours passed — or was it days? I came to many times and tried to move, but it was like someone had set me in concrete. What I wouldn’t give to at least say a few words, find out what was going on! When the doctor was in the room I tried my hardest to scream, but not even a squeak came out.

I lived for the visits of my family. Lacey brought Kyle and Tianna. They were full of questions. Lacey explained, “Daddy’s in a coma. It’s like he’s asleep. But maybe he can hear us, so talk to him.”

Poor kids. They didn’t understand, but they tried. Kyle told me about school. Tianna told me about the new girl on our street. Their voices were like a lifesaver to a drowning sailor. If only I could communicate just how much those visits meant to me.

I made a vow. When I come out of this, I’m going to tell them every day how sweet their voices sound.

Even the medical people brightened my dark world. How I wish I could tell them that! I knew from the few comments the nurses made right by my bed that they were moving me, washing me, but I felt nothing. Much as I hated to be so helpless, their snatches of gossip as they worked with me reassured me that I was still in the land of the living.

SECOND CHANCES

Then came that marvelous day when my eyes opened.

If you only knew what it’s like to live in grey shadows for days — or was it even weeks? — and then one day be able to see light and color and people. Wonderful is far too small a word; it’s like saying the Grand Canyon is large. And to see the faces of Lacey, the kids, my parents, standing around me with great big grins. To see the hope shining in their eyes.

The only thing that it was the day I took my first step. It was the first step of my new life as a husband, a father, a son. Thank God for second chances!

The Castle of Blood

Once Upon A Time…

Trembling with every step, I made my way down the dim corridor of the castle. I knew what was ahead and I dreaded it, but one of the noble princes of our land had commanded me to appear there and I could not escape my fate.

At the end of the hall a woman waited, grasping in her bony fingers a long rubber band. I shuddered as I advanced toward her. She wanted my blood.

Where, oh, where, can my fairy godmother be staying these days? Why does she not swoop down to rescue me from this ordeal?

For me there has been no reprieve from this long corridor and this constant bloodletting. Oh, so many times I had to present myself to this woman with the sinister smile. So many times she reached out and took hold of my arm, drawing me into her room. So many times — yet it was never enough. All too soon she wanted yet more.

I cringed as she punctured my vein, laughing all the while. She would take my blood and spin it, twirl it, torture it. Would she love to do the same with my body, I wonder? Thankfully, permission has not been granted her to torture my flesh — and she is not allowed to pierce my jugular vein. So I have escaped with my life.

She drained enough blood to fill three pots, relishing the bright red tone. Then she released me and I fled that terrible enclave. Outside the castle door my knight in shining armor waited to carry me off to his mansion, where I might recover until the next summons comes and they want yet more of my precious blood.

As we walked back to our carriage, we heard a sound like a bull frog and turned to see what odd creature was lurking nearby. At last our eyes located the source of this unearthly sound: up in a pine tree beside the castle a raven peered down at us. No doubt he was disappointed there was no flesh for him to feast on.

My reply to today’s WordPress prompt isn’t quite a fairy tale, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

The Wizard of Sherwood Forest?

It seemed to Dorothy that the tornado was losing some of its strength — she and the various things caught up with her seemed to be spinning more slowly. She felt a sensation of descent, like being in an elevator going down. Yes, the twister that carried her away from Kansas was finally dropping her back to earth again.

The tips of her toes brushed some tree tops. Green leaves fluttered around her now. She held tight to her dog, fearful of losing him among the branches that reached for them as they tumbled down in a clearing right next to a brooklet.

Dorothy let go of her small fellow traveler, who shook himself vigorously and let out a few yips. Gingerly she got to her feet and dusted herself off. “Oh, Toto! Are you all right? I don’t think I have any broken bones, but look at my dress! It’s a mess — and so many rips. Whatever will Mother say when I get home?”

She surveyed the clearing. “And which way is home? I’m so glad to be out of that horrible wind — but this can’t be Kansas. We never had such huge trees as this. Which way should we go?” Dorothy climbed onto the trunk of a toppled tree trunk and looked around. “I see a path over there. Let’s go, Toto.”

Half a mile away two men peered out from under a group of sheltering trees. “What a gale! I haven’t seen a wind like that for many a year,” said the taller man. He stood up and grabbed his bow and quiver of arrows off the ground.

“I was certainly glad to be in the shelter of these strong oaks, Little John,” his companion said as he surveyed the litter of small branches around them. “Though I wondered if the wind might have brought them down on our heads before it passed. Then he laughed heartily. “Whatever would the Sheriff of Nottingham say if, when he’s tried so hard to capture Robin Hood all these years, he found me done in by an oak limb?”

Suddenly the two men froze. “Is that a dog I hear?” Robin muttered. “Whatever would a dog be doing wandering here in Sherwood Forest?”

“Where there’s a dog, there’s undoubtedly a master,” Little John replied. “And who is he, I wonder?” He grabbed an arrow and fitted it to his bowstring, ready to take aim.

Robin pointed toward the far end of the road where a young girl was coming into view. “The dog seems to be with that young waif. Look at her dress, will you. Such garments as I’ve never seen on an English child. She’s a real ragamuffin! Must have been fearfully tumbled about in that storm.”

Little John slipped the arrow back into his quiver. “No need to fear a mistress that small,” he murmured. They listened as the girl talked to her dog.

“It looks like the road divides up ahead, Toto. Which way should we go? Oh, how I wish I were home and not stumbling around in these woods!”

The two men stepped out from their hiding place in the trees, startling Dorothy and setting Toto to barking furiously. Dorothy gasped when she saw their longbows and grabbed Toto in her arms so they wouldn’t hurt him.

“Lost, are you, little maid?” the one man asked. “How come ye to be in the forest alone? Where is your home?”

Wherever can I be? Dorothy wondered. I can barely understand what they’re saying. But she answered bravely. “I’m from Kansas, sir. The twister picked me up and carried me away from my home. It dropped me here in the woods and I’m trying to find my way home.”

She tried to hush Toto, who was still barking and wriggling, trying to escape her hold. “Please don’t hurt my dog, fellows. He’s only wanting to protect me.”

“Indeed he is, young maid, and the good Lord knows you have need of some protection if you’re wandering in Sherwood Forest alone. You can set him down; we won’t hurt him.”

“Thank you, sir.” She set Toto down. He stayed right beside her, eyeing the two men dressed in green.

Dorothy frowned. “Say, did you say this is Sherwood Forest? I’ve heard of that.” She paused a minute, trying to recall where she’d heard that name. “Isn’t that where Robin Hood lived?”

“Lived? He lives here right now. Indeed, it’s Robin Hood you’re talking to right now, and this is my good friend Little John.” Robin clapped the shoulder of the man beside him.”Welcome to this part of merry old England.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Hood sir, but I thought you were only a fable.”

“A fable?”

“Yes, like a fairy tale.”

“A fairy tale! Goodness me, girl, that’s even worse.” He sounded huffy. “I hope I’m more than a fairy tale. I was rather hoping with time I’d be a legend.”

“Oh, yes, sir! That’s it.” Dorothy quickly replied, hoping she hadn’t offended him too much. “Legend is certainly the better word. Yes.”

“And where might Kansas be, wee maiden?” Little John asked. “I’ve never heard of it. Your accent is not from this part of England, I’m sure. I can barely understand you.”

“I speak American, Mr. John, sir. Just like my Pa and Ma and all the other people in our country.” She paused a moment more. “Say, if you really are Robin Hood, then do you rob people?”

“Only the rich. No point robbing the poor; they have nothing to take. Well, we do snatch the odd pig or cow now and then. My merry band of men has to eat, too.”

Dorothy thought of her father, a poor farmer. It would cause him grief to have someone steal their cow or one of their pigs. She looked up at the man and stated firmly, “It’s always wrong to steal.”

“A Sheriff’s child, are you? Or maybe the daughter of a Judge?” Robin Hood asked, and the two men laughed.

“It IS!” Dorothy shook her finger at them. “It’s wicked. You should say sorry and give back what you’ve taken.”

“So much you do not know about current affairs in England, little maid. But come with us now and we’ll see if my friend, Friar Tuck, might hap to find a place for you until we can find out where you belong. It won’t do to have you wandering in the forest alone like this. There are wolves — and other wicked men, too, who might sell you for a slave. You wouldn’t want that.” He winked at her.

The prospect of wandering in the woods at night scared Dorothy and being sold as a slave was even worse. So she and Toto meekly went along with Robin and Little John to Friar Tuck’s cottage. There the three men pondered how to get the maid and her dog back to her parents in Kansas — wherever Kansas was — and meanwhile where to get her some decent English clothes.

Written in response to today’s Daily Prompt

Mrs Lot Muses

My conjectures of what Mrs Lot might have thought and felt. Based on the Biblical account given in Genesis 19:1-26

PART II

Next I tell them the art gallery is open until eight tonight; they could probably spend some time there. “The Sodom Art Museum has a fine display of master pieces and there’s also an extensive collection of textile arts, wood carvings and pottery. I’ve also seen some cute miniature statues of the various gods of this land.”

He looked a bit horrified so I hastened to add, “Of course we know they are just silly images, but they are well made and interesting just to look at. I never worship them, though.”

My suggestion was met by sad frowns of disapproval from both of them. Critical types, I gather. For me it’s all relatively innocent, you know — just art.

By this time I’m getting impatient with them. I don’t want these fellows sitting around all evening with their gloomy countenances. So I try again, something totally innocent this time. I suggest that if music and the art gallery don’t appeal, they can maybe just stroll around Sodom and check out the architecture. Our architects have designed some very elaborate temples and an impressive civic center. With inlaid stones and colored marble, they’ve created some really nice patterns so worth seeing.

The one man just looked at me awhile and his face was so sad, like he was pondering some deep dark secret. Goodness, I thought to myself, this young man needs to be on anti-depressants! I even thought of suggesting he might try some for awhile if he was feeling really blue about life, but of course Lot wouldn’t appreciate me being rude to guests. So I just bit my tongue and refrained from suggesting any other attractions. If they want to sit here all evening and play tiddlywinks, it’s okay with me.

Now I will confess Sodom isn’t the greatest place to visit. As I said before, there are some really strange people here, but we try to be forbearing. It’s how they’ve been brought up, you know. We take the chance to say a few words now and then, but mostly we leave people to make their own decisions.

Yes, the people here are a rough bunch and their customs are so discouraging at times. Lot is often horrified by the immoral behaviour going on amongst the younger folks of this town, but I tell him, “We’re old, Lot. We have a different value system. You can’t expect the young folks to be as straight-laced as we were. We need to just love them as they are.”

He tells me it grieves him every day to see innocent children dragged into this perversion and I heartily agree. But what can he and I do except be a good example? “Let’s just live and let live,” I say. And he usually listens.

Though some times he gets so disgusted he even talks of moving back to the hills where his Uncle Abraham lives. I have no ears for that idea. “What?” I say. “Leave our daughters and their families. Lot, you know I’d never be parted from our precious grandchildren.”

I remind him of our lovely home and yard. “It would mean leaving everything we’ve ever worked for! I’m not interested in living up in the hills, and can’t bear the thought of going somewhere else and starting all over again at my age. Think again. Besides, we have no guarantees the next place we live would be any better, so I’m staying right here.”

Lot is a wonderful man, but sometimes he seems a little short-sighted, so I help him take a good look at things. And maybe if I’d been there when he was talking to these young fellows he brought home, I would have realized they would bring us nothing but trouble with the towns folk and persuaded them – nicely, of course– to go on their way to the next town. Maybe not, though, for I didn’t realize just how bad things have gotten here.

To be concluded tomorrow….

Not Such Bad Luck

Once upon a time in far-off China, there lived a farmer who had only one son — one precious heir to whom he would leave his small property. The farmer also had one horse. One day this horse managed to get out of his corral and ran off.

“Such bad luck!” the neighbors said to the man.

“Don’t speak too soon,” said the farmer. “How can you know if this is really bad luck?”

The neighbors were really surprised the next evening when the horse showed up with a dozen other wild horses following him. He led them into the corral and the farmer’s son quickly ran and shut the gate.

When they saw that he now had thirteen horses the neighbors congratulated the farmer. “This is such good luck for you!”

“Don’t speak too soon,” said the wise farmer. “How do you know this is going to be a good thing for us?”

Some days later the son attempted to break one of the wild horses, but the wild stallion would have none of it. He bucked frantically and the young man fell off, breaking his leg.

Neighbors shook their heads when they saw the injured son. “You were right, old man. This has been very bad luck.”

“Don’t speak too soon,” the old man calmly repeated. “How can you be sure of that?”

A few days later a local warlord came through the village and ordered all the able-bodied young men to come with him to help fight in his war. But when he saw the farmer’s son hobbling along, he shook his head. “This boys is of no use to me.”

So the farmer’s son was left behind because of his broken leg. The other young men who were forced to accompany the warlord in his conflict were never seen again. The farmer and his son rejoiced over the “bad luck” that turned out to be their biggest blessing.

There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born out of adversity.  – Lee Iaccoacca