Better Weather on the Way

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

Photo copyright: Sarah Potter

Many thanks to our gracious host and purple aficionado, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for giving us our weekly prompt here at Friday Fictioneers and to Sarah Potter for supplying the photo prompt. My initial response was zilch, having locked my muse in my sewing closet last weekend. However, she won’t stay there when a challenge like this presents itself. Today she popped up to remind me of dear old Whiny…Winnie.

Another vacation trial for the peevish Winnie and her long-suffering traveling companion, Raylene. To read the first part of their Florida adventure, click here.

GOOD NEWS

Winnie was staring out the window when Raylene looked up from the TV screen. “Are you happy now,” she asked. “That nice manager gave us a room with a better view.”

Winnie scowled at her. “But it’s still snowing in Florida, of all things. How will we manage Disney World tomorrow in this mess?”

Raylene hit the power switch. “I have good news for you, dear. The weatherman says there’s a hurricane barreling toward the Florida coast as we speak. Should hit here tomorrow about noon. That’ll wash away all this snow.”

Winnie eyed the outdoor scene. “Well. Thanks be!”

funny-hat-woman

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

—Winnie in Florida hoping for sun 🙂 —

Job Satisfaction

Thanksgiving Day:

Along with the other men in the family, Conlin headed for the living room after the feast. With a deep sigh of contentment, he plopped into his recliner as his brothers and brother-in-law began discussing the perks of their respective jobs. Phil, his younger brother, had been promoted to district manager back in August and chattered enthusiastically about his new position.

Conlin could have put in a few comments about his own job — he was happy enough doing what he did in Human Resources and could tell a few tales out of school — but today he didn’t feel much like talking. Maybe he was too full of turkey and trimmings?

No, that wasn’t the whole picture. At the moment Conlin was sated physically and more or less content with his life, his home, his job. Yet he sensed a void but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He brushed the feeling aside, flipped up his footrest and leaned back. Totally comfortable now, he listened to the others until their voices became a fading drone and his eyes closed.

In a dream he saw a long road that stretched before him as far as he could see, with neither curve or hill to vary the route. My path through life, he thought, nice and easy.

Too easy. Same old, mile after mile, day after day.

Next he was running on a treadmill, round and round, like the gerbils he and his boys had watched at the pet store. They made that wheel spin, but they got nowhere. What a life! Anything would be better than this, he thought. Suddenly he spotted an open door on the side of cage. Yes! He jumped up, grabbed the frame and threw himself through the door. Then he was free falling… The sensation made him jerk.

Phil’s voice penetrated his dream. “Dozing off, brother? Too much food?”

Conlin lowered the footrest. “I guess so. Had a dream — you know those ones where you feel yourself falling?”

“Yeah. Wonder what causes those?”

Conlin was awake now, listening to the conversation, but the dream remained in the back of his mind. He saw himself trudging along the road, then running in the treadmill, going round and round, getting nowhere. Did the dream mean anything? Was his subconscious mind trying to send him a message?

Two days later:

Conlin drove his son to the hardware store the Saturday after Thanksgiving so Tyson could pick up paint and nails to finish his birdhouse. As he stood beside the hardware store counter waiting for Tyson to collect everything he needed, another fellow came along and set four identical light fixtures on the counter.

Conlin nudged his arm. “Hey, Larry. Good to see you. What are you up to?”

The man turned toward him. “Conlin, old buddy. How are you?”

“I’m good. And yourself? Are you doing some renovations at your place?”

“Actually, these are going to be for our new club house. A couple of other guys and I have been concerned about the youth in the low-rent housing in the next subdivision. They have no place to hang out, and you know how it is…a lot of single moms…very few male mentors…drug peddlers and gangs looking for recruits. We figure the boys might need a hand if they’re going to stay out of trouble, maybe a supervised place where they can go after school.”

“Sounds like quite an undertaking.”

“Maybe. We can’t save the world, but we decided to do what we could and half a dozen other guys have offered some volunteer time every week. So we chipped in and got us a small abandoned garage on a paved lot. We’ll fix it up, maybe put up some hoops for basketball, that kind of thing. A lot of these boys have been shifted around from school to school, too, and need help with the basic subjects. Come to think of it, you were always a whiz at school. Maybe you’d be willing to put in a few hours now and then?”

Conlin hesitated. It seemed like a worthwhile project — and it would definitely be a new adventure for him. “Tell you what. I’ll come around and have a look at what you’re doing, then we’ll see.”

Almost a year later:

Conlin’s stomach growled as he leaned over the boy studying the textbook. He glanced at his watch. Supper should have been half an hour ago — no wonder he was hungry.

When his stomach growled again, Manny looked up and grinned. “Better fill it up soon, Mr C, or it’s gonna eat ya alive.”

Conlin mussed the lad’s hair and grinned. “I’ll survive somehow. You’re almost done, Manny. Just finish this page and I’ll drive you home.”

“Sure.” Manny got busy on the last few math problems and five minutes later closed his textbook. “All done.”

“Great, buddy! Let’s go home.”

“Thanks for staying and helping me, Mr C. I really appreciate this,” the boy said as he opened the car door.

Conlin climbed behind the wheel. “Glad to do it. You’re worth it, you know.” Manny gave him a huge smile in response.

As he drove Manny home he remembered. “Hey! Thanksgiving is next week. Is your family doing anything special?”

“Maybe going to my grandma’s,” the boy replied. “I hope so, anyway. She knows how to make great mashed potatoes and gravy. Mom’s are always lumpy and her gravy’s like glue.”

“If that doesn’t work out, let me know. Your family’s welcome to join us.” He gave Manny a big wink. “My wife makes good mashed potatoes and gravy, too.”

Conlin dropped Manny off and headed for his own home. His stomach growled again as he turned the next corner. His mind went back to last Thanksgiving Day, to the void he’d felt and the dream he’d had. He may have the same day job, but he’d escaped the treadmill. Yeah, he thought, glancing at his watch again, I may be late for supper sometimes, but life’s a lot more satisfying now.

Word Press Daily prompt: Sated

Back in the Saddle Again

Hi Everyone!

As you will know if you visit my main site, Christine’s Collection, I started chemo-therapy in April to treat my leukemia. I had my last treatment Sept 9th, almost two months ago. My oncologist is quite pleased at how I responded to the treatment; they feel there are almost no cancerous lymphocytes left and I should have about five years before they build up and become a serious problem again.

So many things fall behind when you aren’t feeling well. then when life starts to return to normal you tray to catch up on the house-cleaning and other pressing stuff. So I’ve left this blog inactive, but it’s time to get back to writing and posting here. Actually I have done a few fiction tales on my main blog and will re-post them here in case you don’t follow Christine’s Collection.

Another thing that’s stimulated my urge to write fiction is sitting in on Jerry Jenkins’ writing classes. Last month my husband joined the Jerry Jenkins Writing Guild and we’ve both been watching the webinars on how to produce quality writing. I’ve learned a lot from his “How to Become A Ferocious Self-Editor” sessions. “Ferocious” is the perfect description as he puts some writer’s first page through his Manuscript Repair and Revision.

Anyway, a few days ago I did an exercise for The Write Practice, then posted it on Christine Composes. You can read it here: Metaphors — Prose & Haiku

Wishing everyone a lovely week. For those of us who live in free countries, let’s not forget on Nov 11th to pause a moment and give thanks for the peace we enjoy and the personal freedoms we have. No, life isn’t perfect, but folks of past generations have sacrificed so much — even their lives — so we can have it this good.

O Molly, I’ll Never Forget!

Hello Everyone,

It’s been awhile. For those of you who don’t follow my main blog, I had my first round of chemo-therapy April 11th & 12th. Each day involved about six hours hooked up to IV. You can read about it here. By now I think I’ve mostly recovered; this week I’m starting to feel more energy and tackle more household tasks.

I may not be doing a lot of fiction stories for awhile, but I still get the urge be-times. Yesterday morning I wrote this scrap of poetry just for fun:

Molly O’Haggerty O’Rourke
my colleen from county o’ Cork
Oh, I’ll soon be sailing
and she’ll soon be wailing
My fortune I seek in New York.

Says Molly O’Haggerty O’Rourke,
“Your colleen from county of Cork
sure, you’ll be forgettin’
as soon as you’re settin’
your eyes on the girls of New York”

I says to her, “Love, don’t be clowned—
a truer love never was found.
I’ll send for you, sweetheart;
sure, we’ll make a new start
and light up the streets of York town.

A Dark and Stormy Night…

Part One

It was a dark and stormy night. Lightening flashes steadily lit up the sky, thunder boomed, and a deluge poured down on the earth below.

One house in particular, located just outside the village, seemed to be receiving the storm’s most violent attentions. Perched on a slight rise and without many sheltering trees, the old two-storey home shuddered under the onslaught of the gale force winds.

Inside the house the occupants quaked now and then, too. Father was away on business for several days, which no doubt unsettled the family even more. Mother was trying to do some mending, but the electricity flickered now and then, making her task rather difficult. The older two children were absorbed in their story books.

Azure, the youngest daughter, whimpered as the lights momentarily dimmed again. She squeezed closer to her big sister Bluette, who sat reading on a couch near the fireplace.

As another fork of lightening pierced the blackness outside, Bluette looked up from her book, Wuthering Heights, and listened for the thunder clap. “Perhaps our house will get hit by lightning and burn to the ground,” she commented.

Royal, the oldest boy, had been devouring the first chapter of The Wizard of Oz. “Maybe a tornado will blow our house clean away and we’ll land over in California,” he said as another blast of rain sloshed over the windows.

Bluette refuted. his suggestion. “Tornado season is past.”

“But you never know. Freak weather happens sometimes.”

Mother set her mending aside. “Life of the party, aren’t you two? I think you both need to give up on those frivolous books and do something useful. Bluette, don’t forget you need to write a letter to Great Aunt Opal thanking her for the handkerchiefs she gave you for your birthday. Put that book away and get out your notepad.”

“But, Mother!” Bluette let out a wail quite much in tune with the wind outside. “I’m just at the part where the writer is snooping through Catherine’s diary and hearing knocks on the window. I can’t quit now! Anyway, I don’t have a clue what to say to Aunt Opal? We have tissues now. Nobody uses handkerchiefs anymore. I don’t know what on earth to do with the things, so how can I thank her for them?”

Mother gave her a stern look. “A gift is a gift. She deserves a thank-you.”

With a heavy sigh Bluette laid her book face down over the arm of a chair.

“And Royal, you should go out to the garage and chop some of that firewood into kindling in case we need more.”

“What if the power goes out? I’d hate to be out there in the dark.”

“Take a flashlight. And we do have a couple of kerosene lamps around, if you’d rather have one of those.”

“Trade you,” Bluette piped up. “I’ll go chop kindling if you write Aunt Opal for me.”

“Come on, Bleet. You can’t handle an axe.”

“Can so!”

“Bluette, let your brother do his work. And Royal, please call your sister by her proper name.”

“But everybody calls her Bleet,” Royal protested. “It suits her.”

“Does not!” Bluette stuck her tongue out at him.

Mother glared at him. “Here we chose such a lovely name for your sister. How did she ever end up with that terrible nickname?”

Just then, above the noise of the storm, they heard the put-put of an automobile driving into the yard. They gazed at each other, then everyone jumped up and hurried to the window.

“Whoever could that be?” Mother said, a tinge of fear in her voice.

To be continued….

Daily prompt word: frivolous

 

Back Again

Hello Everyone,

I was shocked when I opened this blog and saw that it’s actually been a month since I posted here. I thought, “Maybe two weeks…” As you know, I have been dealing with health issues — and especially so this past month — but I’ve been blessed with a bit more inspiration lately to work on this again. A bit of spring cleaning and sorting is in order, maybe add a page or two.

As to my battle with leukemia, the decision has been made that next month we’ll start firing the big guns. At my Cancer Clinic appointment in February Dr Hart told me she felt it’s time to start chemotherapy, beginning in April. On March 8th, as a preliminary, I had a CAT scan and Dr Hart took a bone marrow sample. Not your nicest experience, but it’s par for the course. 😦

I have written a couple of stories lately in response to the Word Press Daily Prompt, like this humorous letter, RE: Missing Ferrari, using the given word “incomplete.” Read it here.

This week I’m inspired by Jeff Goins’ 7-day Blog Like a Pro challenge. Although I’m not at this time following each step, I’ve been watching with interest and checking out a dozen new blogs and articles.

Here’s the link to one of them, for anyone who’s interested in using Google.com for research: Five Google Tricks that will make you a better writer. This blogger has posted several other thought-provoking articles recently as well.

Another thing I’ve been doing lately is reading, and right now am enjoying P G Wodehouse. Read more about my impressions of this prolific English writer here.

Sci-Fi Adventure?

The writing prompt at The Write Practice a few days ago asked us to choose a plot and do a short science-fiction story. I’ve never done sci-fi and don’t plan to do any in future, but an interesting idea popped into my mind. So I thought…okay…let’s see where this goes. As you are about to learn, humor tends to infiltrate any genre in my stories.

The planet Wondancia, five light years from our planet, is inhabited by beings designed much like earthlings. But being so much more advanced in medical science, they’ve discovered how to restructure shoulders and armpits so as to accommodate an extra limb on each side. So at birth each baby on the planet Wondancia is fitted with an extra pair of arms. Needless to say, this comes in very handy.

A century ago these creatures invented powerful telescopes and began searching the various solar systems for signs of life. They took note of a particular blue-and-green ball with a surrounding atmosphere and wondered if it might be a planet hospitable to life. They named it Kantazandy, which to them means “blue seas and green hills.”

After some time they developed such powerful telescopes that they could actually see creatures moving around on Kantazandy. They took note of the fact that Kantazandians, though almost identical to them in shape and size, had only two arms each. What a handicap!

After much discussion, they concluded that every one of the people of Kantazandy would probably be so grateful for an extra pair of arms. So they prepared a space ship with their most advanced medical men to visit this planet. It was not only a fact-finding mission, but as mission of mercy as well.

Their ship landed on the Riviera in 2019, and the aliens disembarked. News of their arrival thrilled the whole planet! They learned that the inhabitants called this beautiful planet La Terre, or Earth in another language. What a dull name for a beautiful planet like Kantazandy! No accounting for some people’s taste.

And when the Wondancians understood that the Kantazandians were about to celebrate the year 2020, they thought it an opportune time to offer this new gift. Human beings — as the Kantazandians called themselves — were all thrilled at the prospect that each of them could be fitted for a new pair of arms. After all, everyone was wishing for a second pair of hands, weren’t they?

Alas! The humans soon realized that all their fancy wardrobes, including fashion designer gowns and jackets that cost them the earth, would now be useless and would have to be tossed. So the humans drove the Wondancians back into their spaceship and forced them to leave the planet.

“Ungrateful wretches,” the Wondancians muttered as they roared off into space. So much for foreign aid.

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.