Notoriety

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

Submitting this little tale with special thanks to our kind Friday Fictioneers host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for this week’s prompt.

NOTORIETY

There. I’ve Photo-Shopped dear Uncle Elbert out of this crazy prank. Shame to lose that smug grin of his, but my folks insisted.

Imagine Elbert besmirching the family name by taking up robbing banks! And Grandpa’s bank first of all, adding insult to injury. Dad says when Elbert’s career was terminated one fateful day, Grandpa refused to attend the funeral.

So I’ve successfully deleted Elbert from the family photos, but you know what must have Grandpa turning over in his grave? At family gatherings the great-grands mention him being a successful banker. But they talk about Uncle Elbert for hours.

Winnie’s Views

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot. This photo has been donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only and must not be used for any other purpose without express permission of the owner.

My contribution this week to Friday Fictioneers, a group graciously hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, open for anyone who wishes to contribute a hundred-word story in response to the prompt picture.

Winnie’s View

Winnie frowned. “Deplorable view.”

“You didn’t want a spectacular view. You asked for the cheapest room,” Raylene reminded her. “Anyway, we’re not staring out that window all day, we’re touring historic Tallahassee. We’ll see gorgeous views aplenty.”

“That travel agent said it never snows in Florida and the day we arrive they get snow squalls. False advertising. However will we manage?”

“We’re used to snow. What a pretty orchid!”

Winnie sniffed. “Plain white. Goes with the cheapest room, likely.”

“Come, let’s order our breakfast. Don’t want to keep the others waiting.”

“It’s starting to drizzle. Wish I’d brought my umbrella.”

The Heart Mender; A Great Read

I just finished reading a terrific book and would like to tell you about it, in case you’re searching for a great read. It’s called The Heart Mender, written by Andy Andrews, a NY Times Best-Selling Author.

What happens when an old cape myrtle tree dies on the Alabama coast? Well, the owner of the property, writer Andy Andrews, chops it down because the tree is next to his house and its wood contains highly flammable oils. Then when he chops it down, his wife urges him to dig it up. And when his shovel hits something metallic — a gallon-size can — nestled among the tree roots…

One of the greatest joys a writer can have is to uncover something amazing, something perturbing, something that points to a story. Something he just can’t leave alone; he has to find out the facts. In the case of this particular writer, he digs and digs until he uncovers the whole amazing account.

What happens when a bitter young widow whose husband was killed in a Luftwaffe bombing raid in England meets a member of Hitler’s navy? What does she do when she stumbles onto a wounded German submarine officer on the beach in Alabama? She punches him in the face. Doesn’t matter if he’s been shot and is now half-dead. She punches him again and again, until she’s exhausted.

And thus begins this fascinating tale of forgiveness and second chances. For more details, see:
http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Mender-Story-Second-Chances/dp/078523229X/

 

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 III

As I said, I never dreamed that things have gotten so bad in our city that these guests lodging in our our own house would be in danger — and our own lives as well. But a few hours after supper we begin to hear sounds, voices and then shouting, outside.

Lot sends out a servant to find out what’s what the townsmen want. Before long he returns, looking seriously scared, and says to Lot, “There’s a crowd gathered in the street out there, sir, and they don’t look friendly.”

I peeked out a window. Now that was an understatement. The gang advancing toward out house almost looked vicious!

Lot goes to the door and some one shouts that he should send these two young men out. Next thing others are calling the same thing and Lot is outside now trying to calm them down. We’re all horrified when we realize what this crowd has in mind.

I told you Sodom isn’t very safe, but really! These young men have ought to be more careful about coming into a city and upsetting everyone. People should study the travel guides and find out about the inhabitants of a place before wandering willy-nilly about the country side expecting some kind soul to take them in.

And Lot might have known better than to bring them here. Maybe he could have spoken a kind word in their ear — a bit of warning — and sent them on their way before sundown.

Wait! What was that I heard? Lot, what are you saying? Not our precious daughters. What insanity would make you offer to send our beautiful girls out to that pack of wolves just to protect these two strangers?

As a precaution I order the girls to disappear, to go with the maidservants and hide on the roof top.

Well, thank goodness! These young men showed some good sense and dragged Lot back into the house. The mob was almost at the door; I was afraid they were going to tear Lot apart. Now everyone is stumbling around out there as if they can’t figure out where they are or where they should go. I’m so thankful they aren’t battering our door down to get in!

Seeing what they’ve done to the men outside, I’m beginning to wonder if these young men really are supernatural messengers. But why have they come? In any case, I pray God will have mercy on us this night!

Lot just came to me now and said the men are telling him we have to leave Sodom, that our daughters and their families need to get out, too. Fat chance our sons-in-law are going to pack up everything and go flying out of town on the say so of two strange foreigners. (I’m not sure they believe in angels and may think we’ve lost it.)

I’m not very willing myself, but I’d better do some packing, as Lot insists. The servants are helping, but they aren’t at all interesting in joining us on our wild flight into the night. Good thing we still have the two girls at home to help. Oh, dear, we are too old for all this upheaval!

I have a pretty good idea how this will go. We’ll head off into the desert and spend a miserable night, then by morning everyone will have come to their senses and we’ll come back home again. I hope and pray once these men have left us whatever their message is and are gone on their way we can settle down and resume our normal lives.

The towns folk may be annoyed with Lot for a few weeks but they will soon forget it. Then, as I said before, the next time he wants to bring strangers home I’m putting my foot down.

They’re urging us to hurry so I’d best get moving.

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

I’ve told Mrs. Lot’s story in a contemporary voice, not just for fun, but because this really is a story for our times. I don’t think she had a clue what was coming, and neither do we, but the Bible tells us there’ll be a day when this world as we know it will come to an abrupt end. All the things we love and claim as our own will someday be gone. This may not come in our generation — or it may — but Jesus tells us about His return to our world, comparing it to the destruction of Sodom.

Luke 17:28-30
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

II Peter 3:9-14
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

The Tenderfoot

The minute he stepped out of the stagecoach that morning we could tell he was a tenderfoot. A real lily. His boots were clean; his jeans had no holes; his hands had no callouses. After the first afternoon of riding the trail in the hot sunshine he says he’s feeling “a bit faint.” La-de-dah.

The second day on the trail he asked the cook if we’d ever be served oysters. Can you imagine? Cook’s roar of laughter almost spooked the cattle. But we’d break him in. We make all our new ranch hands into real cowpokes if we can and we usually have a lot of fun doing it. But this one was a real jewel – or should I say “a pearl.”

We were sure to warn him that when he used nature’s biffy he should turn over every rock around in case a rattler was hidden under one. After all, we’d say, “You don’t want any painful jabs in the behind and we don’t want to have to lance and drain ‘em.” Of course we all stood around sober as a judge as we told him, and he still hasn’t been informed that there are no rattlers in these parts.

After that I don’t know if he was more scared of the rattlers or of us; every time he lit off his horse he looked around real careful first. Well, that was just too good to resist, you know. One afternoon while the rest of us rode on, Art slips back and picks up this garter snake he’d seen beside the trail. Carries it along in his saddle bag until we make camp. When our tenderfoot goes off to dreamland, Art sticks this snake in one of his boots.

Next morning you should have heard him yell when he stuck his toe into the boot and the poor snake wriggled a bit. ‘Course we all offer to cut of a few of his toes if the snake bit him. Cook flashed a nasty-looking cleaver and we tell him it’s the only way to save his life. Thought he was going to keel over right there and then, ‘til he realized we were just funning him.

Early one morning, just for fun, Sam pours out a little gun powder around a dried up bush, then trails off behind a nearby tree. When our tenderfoot ambles off toward the woods for some privacy, Sam’s waiting, flat out, behind that tree. He lights the gunpowder and we all watch out the corner of our eye as this little flash of white zips long to the bush and gets there at exactly the same minute as our new cowpoke. Suddenly there was this poof and flash as the bush combusted. He jumped three feet and took off running. Did we ever laugh!

Oh, we had our fun with that guy in the four days he was with us. But he found the work too strenuous, so he quit and went to college. I believe he became a dentist; heard his name in the capital city one time I was there.

Look him up if you ever get a toothache. He was a good guy; probably didn’t deserve a bunch of rascals like us.

“Blessed are the Merciful…”

Samaritan or Pharisee?

They sat around the table teasing a young man seated on one side. Mostly he just stared sheepishly at the floor; every now and then he’d look up at his accusers and say, “I can’t stand her.”

“They” were my sister’s two sons and a friend of hers who, with his wife, were staying with my sister at the time of her daughter’s funeral. Occasionally my sister put in a comment, but mostly she was wrapped up in her own grief right then.

“Come on, Mark. You looked like you were able to stand her pretty well last night, the way you were hugging her.” This from my nephew.

“I can’t stand her.”

He’d driven this young woman home late in the evening after the funeral – and ended up spending the night with her. In the morning light now, he was obviously ashamed of the whole affair. I had nothing to say but my mind’s wheels were turning and I was frowning on all this nonsense.

The young woman in question had showed up wanting to go along to the funeral with us, but her interest was plainly on this young man who boarded at my sister’s place. What does one say about such immoral behaviour–especially after a funeral. For Mark to spend the night with her and then avow the next morning that he couldn’t stand her? Hmph! Yet I did have some sympathy for him, given the willingness of the lady in question. If the others had any mercy they’d knock it off with the rude jokes.

Barb was twelve when the doctors found her full of cancer; sixteen when she finally succumbed. My  niece fought bravely, determined to beat this and go on with life, but she finally lost the war. Her death was a blow for all those who knew and loved her.

When I received the news of her death I went to my sister’s home and spent some time with her in her mourning— and found her home full of mixed assorted scruffy-looking friends who bedded down wherever they could in her tiny house.

We endured the funeral and all the weeping, shared hugs around the funeral home after, but there was nothing further planned. Some of the family and friends hit the bar, including my birth mother. This was their way of handling the pain, but it didn’t work very well. My sister’s boyfriend was so drunk and aggravating later that I had to drive them back to her place, an hour away. It seems there is so little comfort in the world! Yes, everyone was sympathetic to my sister and she shed many tears that day. But these others grieved for Barb, too, and they chose the only pain-killer they knew.

Mark had been an alcoholic, but AA had gotten him straightened out. He was determined to stay “on the wagon” but he accepted the “comfort” that was offered him later that evening. Thrown at him, I could say. The next morning here he was, facing the truth; he had no feelings for her at all. It was a very temporary fix.

I went about for awhile feeling righteously indignant about all this carrying on, until I saw my self in the Scriptures:
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” Luke 18:11

Ouch!

I remembered the Parable of the Good Samaritan:
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” Luke 10:33,34

The Samaritan had omitted lectures about the man’s foolishness in traveling alone through dangerous territory. He’d picked the man up – probably getting blood and dirt on his own clean garments – and taken him to a place where he’d get care. And he paid the bill. For an enemy.

I thought of how lacking in compassion I’d been to my own family. What had I done that day, with all these hurting people around me? Even my own mother. I had left them after the funeral, gone off and done my own thing for several hours! Perhaps I could have offered to stay with someone until the pain was bearable. Perhaps I could have offered a few words of comfort: “I know you miss her, too. There is Someone Who cares that you are hurting, Someone who can help you bear this pain.”

As the Spirit pointed this out to me, it was my turn to hang my head in shame. Lord, forgive me! Open my eyes to the needs, the hurts, and show me how I can help. Lead me beyond this being thankful that “I am not like other men…sinners.” Help me to be a Samaritan instead of a Pharisee.

A Long Walk One Dark Night

I’d like to give a warm welcome to all my new Followers on this chilly day. (Thankfully it’s warmer than yesterday when the temp dropped to -29C or -16 F.)

I’m glad you are finding my blog interesting and hope to keep it so. For the past three weeks I’ve been working away at my Nano novel and hope to be done very soon. Hurray! I’m ready to come back to civilization again. (I see some brave folks doing novels this month have whacked out 100,000 words already. I don’t know how they do it!)

This is a mystery story I’m writing for my grandson and it’s been a really good exercise for me. Because I needed a 50,000 word count I’ve had to think up more and more explorations, clues, and disasters than I ever had in mind when I started. And I didn’t just want to write filler I’d have to delete later, so I’ve tried to make them all a logical part of my story. This took stirring up and stretching this old gray matter, but it’s all coming together!

Going through my files this morning I came across the following story (rewritten from an old Friendship Book account.) I may have posted it once already on one of my blogs, but I hope you new readers will enjoy it.

A Long Walk and A Lesson Learned

Back in 1928 a family had taken a holiday on the Hebrides island of Lewis, in the north of Scotland.  Doctor Macleod’s roots were in this little isle and he  had brought his family back to the village where he’d been born. They’d had a jolly good time visiting around amongst various of his friends and met all the relatives.

All good things come to an end and so did this trip, so they piled into the car one day and headed for home. The day went by and evening came on.

As they were motoring along the children in the back seat got into a discussion that became rather heated.  Son Iain, who felt himself in danger of losing the argument, started to get pretty huffy about his siblings’ pig-headed resistance.  After all, he was right!  “If no one is going to agree with me, “ he declared, “I’ll get out right now and walk home.”

His threat was designed to make the others give in; of course he had no intention of carrying them out.  But his father had been listening all along and decided the boy needed a lesson, so he stopped the car, got out and silently opened the boy’s door.

Though not a word was said, the message was loud and clear. Iain had no choice but to get out — thirteen miles from home.

It was a long, long walk and well after midnight when he finally arrived at his home, exhausted and thoroughly chilled.  He found the door unlocked for him, but everyone was in bed and all the lights were out.  Quietly he crept into his own bed, scolding himself for his foolish words and attitude.

His parents never mentioned the incident again, but Iain had plenty of time to repent on his long walk and decided that from now on he’d be stubborn only in issues of serious right and wrong, he’d give more consideration to the other fellow’s point of view and recognize that he could be wrong.  This lesson stood him in good stead when in later years he became a politician.

The Salesman Gets A Shock

by Edgar Guest

The salesman saw his shabby clothes and eyed him head to toe;
so rough a looking man, thought he, could not be good to know;
and since he sold expensive cars, which only rich men buy,
to sell to the ragged-looking man he did not even try.

The stranger walked among the cars and looked the models o’er,
the youthful salesman passed him by a dozen times or more;
not once he paused to talk to him; he scorned the proffered smile
and looked about for richer men who might be more worth while.

The manager came out at last and saw the shabby man.
His hand went out in welcome as he shouted, “Hello, Dan!”
“Hello, Bill,” said the shabby man. “My daughter wants a car
and I’ve been noseying around to see how good they are.

Send up the red one over there; she likes to cut a dash.”
And reaching in his wallet he drew out the price in cash.
“My women wear the style for me. You know my ways are quaint.
My word,” said he, “I think that boy has fallen in a faint!”

They brought the youthful salesman to, and sent him home to rest.
“Don’t ever judge a man,” said they, “by how he may be dressed.
You lost a good cash customer, but write this lesson down:
‘Not all the worth while people strut in worsted ‘round the town.’ ”

From his book The Light of Faith
© 1926 by The Reilly & Lee Co.

The Neighborly Man

by Edgar Guest

Men are of two kinds, and he
was of the kind I’d like to be.
Some preach their virtues, and a few
express their lives by what they do.
That sort was he. No flowery phrase
or glibly spoken words of praise
won friends for him. He wasn’t cheap
or shallow, but his course ran deep,
and it was pure.  You know the kind;
Not many in a life you find
whose deeds outrun their words so far
that more that what they seem, they are.

There are two kinds of lies as well:
the kind you live, the ones you tell.
Back through his years from age to youth
he never acted one untruth.
Out in the open light he fought
and didn’t care what others thought
nor what they said about his fight
if he believed that he was right.
The only deeds he ever hid
were acts of kindness that he did.

What speech he had was plain and blunt;
his was an unattractive front.
Yet children loved him; babe and boy
played with the strength he could employ,
without one fear, and they are fleet
to sense injustice and deceit.
No back door gossip linked his name
with any shady tale of shame.
He did not have to compromise
with evil-doers, shrewd and wise,
and let them ply their vicious trade
because of some past escapade.

Men are of two kinds, and he
was of the kind I’d like to be.
No door at which he ever knocked
against his manly form was locked.
If ever man on earth was free
and independent, it was he.
No broken pledge lost him respect;
he met all men with head erect
and when He passed I think there went
a soul to yonder firmament
so white, so splendid and so fine
it came almost to God’s design.

from his book A Heap O’ Livin’
c 1916 by the Reilly & Britton Co.

Ben Franklin’s Bright Idea

According to one biographer, when Ben Franklin wanted to promote the idea of street lighting for the city of Philadelphia, he didn’t just make speeches to enthuse his fellow citizens about what a great idea it would be.  He installed a long bracket in front of his home and hung up an attractive lantern.  This he always kept spotless and lit it every evening as twilight fell.

Passers-by could see his cheerful light from quite a distance and this one bright spot in an otherwise dark street beckoned to them.  The glow silently recommended to everyone walking along the sidewalk what a great idea it was to see where they were stepping.  As time went on the citizens of the town were sold on the idea of street illumination.

How many of us rather wait until we’re sure others will follow before we’re willing to step out and be an example?  The censure of “What will others think if I do?” has probably been through the years a more powerful deterrent to good deeds than threats of fire and sword.

Could we rather take a lesson from Ben’s example and replace talk with positive action?  If there’s something we can do to hold up a clear, helpful light for all who pass by, let’s do it rather than keep suggesting to others that they should.