Flash Fiction #98

Flood

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

HOW DRY I AM

Rain, rain, go away! Come again another day!

Bobby had always been an active boy, into baseball, football and Scout Camp. He wondered how many times he’d made that plea over the years.  Too many, obviously!

Into each life, some rain must fall. All he’d been doing was delaying the inevitable.  How long had it rained in the Bible??   Forty days and forty nights?!!

His family had retreated up this mountain when the floods came. He hoped that the water level would start receding, before clouds gathered, the sky opened up, and he had to wish the rain away again.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

A to Z Challenge –D

April Challenge

I definitely have descended to D in this challenge.  Now I desire a designated word.  Nothing too common, I think it will be….

Letter D

Dastard: a contemptible, mean, sneaking coward.

***

Dastard Dan they called him….when they were being kind and generous, which wasn’t often.  He was more likely to be described by other epithets that involved a horse’s hind-end, or a steaming pile of male bovine organic fertiliser.

Not ‘bastard’, although that word was also bandied about a lot.  Everyone knew who his parents were, and they also were a pair of loud-mouthed, know-it-all, shit-disturbing assholes.  He came by his talents honestly, although some believed that he attended Graduate School and got a diploma.

There wasn’t a pot he couldn’t stir, a rock he couldn’t turn over, a sacred cow he couldn’t gore, a scab he couldn’t rip off. A nosy gossip, he ferreted out everybody’s secrets, and spread them to the winds.  No confidence was sacred.  No reputation was safe.  He delighted in the distress of others.

If there wasn’t already a reeking chamber pot, he’d provide one. He would sidle to the far end of his plant, and stop to talk to Bob, who didn’t really want him there.  He’d say, “I was just talking to Bill, at the other end.  He don’t know sheepshit from cherry stones.  I think he’s a real asshole, don’t you?”

Bob would nod absently, hoping he’d just go away. He would then ooze back up the floor and tell Bill that Bob had called him an asshole.  Wanting power and adoration, he ran for area Union Steward.  He got elected by people who wanted him on union business, and away from production lines.

He spread a rumor that the company had lost a contract, and that 50 workers would be laid off, just to see the fear and worry on co-workers faces. Dastardly film villains tied helpless maidens to railroad tracks.  Most trains had been phased out, but there was talk of reopening a spur line, just for him.

He could count his friends on one middle-finger salute. When he died, his wife and three of his four children were at the gravesite.  He often blithely spoke of going to Heaven, but I think Satan’s got him as a Union Steward.  They deserve each other.

 

The Four Fun Fact Survey Tag

Bible

 

Despite me swearing on a stack of irrelevant Bibles that this is now an award-free site, Cordelia’s Mom found a loophole, and sneaked one in the back door.  We have to be careful about that; folks in Mississippi, and especially North Carolina, get upset about that sort of thing.

She tagged me with, what she and others, call a survey. Tag, I’m IT.  They want four facts about me.  Let’s see….  I’m grumpy (sometimes dopey, often sleepy), I’m old, I’m a dude….   Oh wait, they want fun facts.  Maybe I should just stick with the script.

Four names people call me other than my real name:

In my youth, I was occasionally called ‘Smitty.’ That didn’t last long.  I guess I just don’t look or act like a Smitty, although I’ve begun a new series of random-facts posts, titled Smitty’s Loose Change.

Now that I’m retired, and can be more selective, not having to deal with the madding crowd:
My blog-friends call me Archon.
My kids call me Dad.
My grandson calls me Poppa,
And the cats call me whenever they damn well feel like want food, drink, catnip, litter tray cleaned, skritches, cuddles or naps.

SDC10178

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

I was a bank clerk for about a year, until I discovered that banks were more regimented and less fun than the Army.
I was a Purchasing Agent/Materials Manager for a series of steel/metal processing firms.
I was a Sales Representative for a package courier company (just a small one, not like UPS or FedEx), and a safety supply company.
I gave up fame and fortune, and parked my brain at the door, for a (more or less) guaranteed 40 hours a week income, and worked cutting leather and nylon in a shoe/boot/slipper plant, and then made auto parts for almost 20 years.

In between, during periods of unemployment, I was a building custodian (janitor) for a couple of companies, and a Security Guard at a couple of hotels and an office building, for a couple more. For those interested, it’s all here, and here.

Four Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once:

I don’t remember ever watching any movie more than once at a theatre. I had a neighbor, who, like many others, boasted that he’d seen ‘Titanic’ eight times. Why??  The boat sinks.  Everybody dies!  Didn’t you get it the first seven times?

Any movie I watch more than once would have to fall into the mindless, action genre – any James Bond movie. I rewatched Diamonds Are Forever the other night – any Lethal Weapon.  I saw one of them (they’re indistinguishable-but fun) about a week ago – any Die Hard, Independence Day, Source Code.  I remembered and watched Tony Randall and Burl Ives in ‘The Brass Bottle’ on YouTube a while back.

Four Books Or Authors I’d Recommend:

I hesitate to recommend any book or author, because I don’t know anyone’s preferences, and they can be startling. I know guys who read Historical Romance, and women who devour blood and guts action novels.

From my own pile of unread books, I could mention Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy (now dead, but still being ghost-written by a couple of authors), Steve Perry and Lee Child.

From the Golden Age of Sci-Fi, I’d recommend Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frederick Pohl, or John Brunner.

From the current Sci-Fi crop, I’d mention Eric Flint, David Weber, Charles Gannon and Travis S. Taylor.

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Having lived a relatively unexciting life, I’ve only resided in three municipalities. I was born and raised in the small (2000-) town of Southampton, Ontario.

Graduating high school, I moved 100 miles east, and lived in the small city of Barrie, ON for a year, until the bank and I parted company.

Since this is where the jobs were, I moved to the city of Kitchener, ON, arriving four days before my 21st birthday.  I’m now closing in on my 72nd birthday, so I’ve been here almost 51 years.  Ignoring the boarding house I started in, the wife and I have lived at only six addresses in our married life – all in Kitchener, none in own twin city, Waterloo.

Four Places I’ve Visited: 

With the wife’s inhalant allergies, we can’t fly, and are limited to places we can drive to. We’re not terribly well-to-do, so we travel very much on the cheap.  Still, we’ve seen a few places up and down the US eastern region.

Travelling with my brother, I was able to visit Tampa, Orlando, Key West and Kissimmee in Florida.
Vacationing with the wife, we’ve reached Richmond and Front Royal, VA, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC (A delicious, historical place!  Go there if you can.)
We went to Ottawa, ON and crossed the bridge to Hull, PQ.
We visited Cordelia’s Mom, in Buffalo for the first time, on our way to see lost blogger, John Erickson in the less-than-tiny village of Fresno, OH.

Using knife shows as an excuse, and shopping as a goal, we’ve also trekked all around metro Detroit. Under CM’s aegis, we are now beginning to do the same with metro Buffalo, with a rewarding side trip out to Batavia, NY.

Four Things I’d Rather Be Doing Right Now:

I find I very much enjoy blogging – composing, posting, reading, commenting, replying. I spend a serious amount of time in front of the computer.  Since I don’t know when you’ll get around to reading this, I don’t know what else I might have drifted off to do.  I have three novels on the go. (Short attention span.)  I read a daily broadsheet, and a tabloid-style newspaper.  I might be doing a crossword in either of them, or wafted my way back to the keyboard to do one online.

Four foods I don’t like:

I tried to act picky as a child, but a Scottish mother, fresh from the Great Depression and World War II soon put an end to that. I have problems with fat and gristle in my mouth.  I will gag and throw up.  I eat things like chicken breasts and the inner medallions of pork chops and steaks.

I’d have starved to death in ancient times, or learned to fight the livestock for beans and turnips. Since getting married, I’ve learned to like sauerkraut, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Four of my favorite foods: 

So many choices – so little space! Anything Tex-Mex….tomato, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, chili powder.  Potato pancakes – filet mignon – thick oatmeal. (I am Scottish after all.)

Four Shows I Watch: 

Being the Most Interesting Man In The World, I don’t always have time to watch TV, but when I do;
I watch the NCIS trio. ‘New Orleans’ is more interesting than ‘LA’, and I could live without either, but the original version is just so valid.
I also watch ‘Castle’, which has now been cancelled, ‘Elementary’, which also seems to have come to an end, and ‘Bones’, which is getting creaky and hokey.

Four Things I’m Looking Forward To This Year:

  1. Still viewing the sod from the green side at the end of the year. It’ll be covered with snow, but…
  2. We’ve purchased our last car; the next one’s on the son. Actually, it’s a Kia Sorento sport-ute, which the wife and daughter don’t have to get down into, and up out of. With reliable transportation, we hope to get to Detroit at least once for a shopping trip, and to Buffalo, for a CM-guided tour of the zoo.
  3. If the value of the Canadian dollar rises a bit more, I’d like to travel to the Washington, DC area, and convince another favorite blogger to grant a short meet and greet, before moving on into the Appalachians for one last commune with nature.
  4. Damn, I’m boring, no aspirations, no inspiration. Anybody got suggestions?

Four Things I’m Always Saying: 

  1. What do I take out of the freezer, to thaw for tomorrow’s supper?
  2. What’s a six-letter word for….
  3. Are we there yet?
  4. I am probably as happy as you, to finally be to the end of this list, but thanx, to those who’ve waded through it, and special thanx to CM for allowing me a chance to humorously rewrite War And Peace.

 

 

Flash Fiction #97

Telecommuting

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

FULL PAST – EMPTY FUTURE

I’m not sorry I’m retiring tomorrow. This train station used to be a bustling, interesting place, a social hub, full of people coming and going to actual places, meeting and talking to other, real people, doing the same.  Train travel was interesting, exciting, educational.

Then, along came the Internet – and telecommuting, work-from-home, and stay-cations. It’s no better over at the bus terminal.  Nobody actually goes anywhere anymore.  They all just sit at home, in front of a different idiot-box, staring at pictures that somebody else took of all the great things that this country has to offer.

I’m outta here!😦

***

Here’s a YouTube link to Arlo Guthrie’s song, The City of New Orleans, an elegy for the passing of a time when trains were so important that some of them even had names.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Horse Sh…Play

Clown

My life has been built around humor and comedy. I’m a great believer in amusement and entertainment.  I’m all for fun and frivolity.  Want to get into horseplay?  I think you’re a stupid asshole!

Sooner or later, horseplay ends in injury, damage or death, often sooner than later. At least, most times it ends there.  There are people (I’m sad to say they most often have an XY chromosome mix, though not always.) who go beyond asshole on the stupid scale, and continue.  Almost every workplace has a rule against horseplay.  There are good reasons for that.

The young man who formed the vinyl parts on my auto plant line was quiet and well-behaved. Management changed the part we did, and now we required two formers.  The second one we got was an industrial strength asshole.

The line beside us had four young women behind the press. He and one of them immediately started throwing small, hard balls of vinyl at each other.  One day he said to Mr. Niceguy, “Here, toss this at Elaine.”

He did so….just in time for Janet to step around the press, and get hit right in the eye. The guy who had never before thrown anything, got a written reprimand, and we had a lost-time accident after six months injury-free.   BTW, Mr. Asshole continued throwing stuff.

We bonded thin vinyl to foam rubber, then cut pieces out, usually discs, to fit over steering columns, etc. One of the parts had a steel support added, about the size of a cell phone.  Four protruding feet were hammered over like staples.  One jokester came by and found one near the supply crib.  He picked it up, yelled at our installer, and then scaled it toward him like a Frisbee.

It would have landed six feet short, and clanged across the floor.  Spinning in the air, it looked just like a soft rubber knockout, so my guy stepped forward and caught it in his bare hand.  Fortunately there was no blood, but their friendship was strained for several days.

When I worked at the steel warehouse, management had Southern Ontario carved up into six sections. One outside salesman serviced each piece.  The Inside Sales Dept. had one clerk for each of them.  It was a most redundant system in my opinion.  Three or four bodies could have easily handled the volume of calls, but I guess one-on-one ensured familiarity.

It meant that there was often a lot of free time. Two of the clerks were in their early 20s, like me.  One of them was a convicted kidder.  If anyone was away for washroom or coffee break, and there was a call, another clerk took name and number and left a note, for the customer to be called back.

There are two local Universities, one of them Lutheran. A call-back note might get you the recorded ‘Prayer of the Day.’  With the African Lion Safari fifteen miles away, another note might tell you to call a number and ask for ‘Leo.’  The other University had a Performing Arts Department.  They had a dedicated line that you could call to purchase tickets.  When shows were not running, it played recordings of things like ‘Money, Money, Money’ from Cabaret.  All very amusing. 😳

One day, the fall guy returned to his desk and found a note. A Mennonite he’d never dealt with had decided to set up a metal fabrication shop, and wanted to order a significant amount of material.  When he phoned back, he was answered by a Mr. Bierschbach. (Beersh-bock)

Expecting another prank, he heard ‘Beer Box’, a 24-bottle case, so he went along with the joke.  He told the customer that his name was Carling Labatt, the names of two of Canada’s largest breweries.  This wasn’t terribly unreasonable.  At the time, Carling Bassett, a young female member of the brewing clan, was well-known in figure-skating.

The call went on and on, with him nodding and agreeing, and calling the new customer Mr. Beer Box – but not writing a thing down. When the kidder returned, he had a big laugh about his ‘buddy’s fake call.’

After being assured that the call was genuine, and given the man’s name and pronunciation, he then had to call him back and apologise and explain – and write down the entire order. This was not a good introduction for a new client.  If there’d been another, sufficiently-large local warehouse, I’d have gone with them.

It’s all fun until somebody loses an eye – or a customer – or their job. Fun’s fun, but this ain’t it.  Horseplay is for horses’ asses.

Book Review #12

cymbalum mundi

This will be a review/discussion of a somewhat older book with the odd, Latin title of Cymbalum Mundi. First, let me just say that if, like me, you ever get a chance to read this book….DON’T!

Some time ago, I published a post about how The Church, at the beginning of the Renaissance, made torture a competitive sport, offering rewards, both secular and spiritual, for winners. Jim Wheeler made me aware of a book titled A World Lit Only By Fire, a history of the excesses and hypocrisies of the time.

I obtained it by asking for an inter-library loan. Within its pages, it mentioned another book which listed and mocked certain Church practices.  Always willing to learn more of the failures of the best of the Good Christians, when I returned ‘World’, I requested another special loan.

This book was written in 1537. The title is in Latin, because back then, all serious works were written in Latin, so that educated people in different countries could all read them.  I requested an English translation.  Two weeks later, I got a call to pick it up.  I left the wife in the car, and when I brought it out, I tossed it into her lap.  Fortunately, before I got out of the parking lot, she asked, “Do you read French?”

The author was a Frenchman named Bonaventure Des Periers. While he titled it in Latin, the original text is all French.  I might get the gist of a current French document, but not the detail this book required.  I immediately returned it, and the Library Lady told me, “You should have told us you wanted an English version.”  👿

Two weeks later, I got another call, and carefully checked it before taking delivery. The French copy came from the University of Waterloo, 5 miles north, in our twin city.  The second, English copy, also came from U of W.  I’ve personally borrowed from Wilfrid Laurier University, our neighbors’ second, smaller school, but let the librarians do the work on this one.

The Book – Cymbalum Mundi [The Noise of the World]
(The anticipated applause of his adoring readers)

The Author – Bonaventure Des Periers

The Review – I don’t know what I expected to get with this book, but I didn’t get it. It came with 4 pages of Foreword, 28 pages of Introduction, 5 pages of Notes, and 4 pages of Literary References – and none of it actually explained only 74 pages of allegory and allusion.

It consists of five small segments, beginning with a fake letter to a fake friend, explaining how he carefully translated this from the original Greek. This is followed by four small scenes from a Shakespeare-like play; only, A Midsummer’s Night Dream is lucid and crystal clear, compared to this.

Jupiter sends his son Mercury to Earth, to have an old book rebound. He falls in with three brigands who steal the book from his bag, by replacing it with a worthless book, the same size and shape, while they are drinking at an inn.

NOW:

Does Jupiter represent God?
Does Mercury, the Messenger, represent Jesus?
Is the book Mercury brings, the tattered Old Testament?
Does the new, rebound book represent the New Testament?
Are the thieves the rulers of the Church, who steal The Word, to sell to the masses and enrich themselves?
Is the fake book they substitute, the code of rules the Church uses to control the laity?
Is the hostess of the inn a stand-in for the Virgin Mary?
Is the real food and wine she serves them a denial of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation?

The problem is, he never actually says. One well-known historian, with a pile of evidence, says yes, while another, just as renowned, and with as big a pile of proof, says the exact opposite.  You can ‘make’ this book say anything you want it to.

I had hoped that it might show more of the excesses and failings of the Church. What it shows, is the tap-dancing necessary for any writer of this period to present some doubt, and cause people to think, without ending up chained to a post, tap-dancing on a large bonfire.

It was interesting, and in the end educational, but not really fulfilling.

Flash Fiction #96

Flying Saucer

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAYR

YOU, F. O.!

What a great adventure, to get away from our small town and enjoy the sights of the big ci…. Dear Lord, look at that!  Gimme the phone!

911, What is your emergency?

There’s a giant Flying Saucer hovering over the north end of the harbor.

We appreciate your call, but that is not an emergency. That is our new arena.  The designer is hiding out in Honduras.  There is talk of impeaching, or lynching, the city councillors who authorized it.  We have received letters of condolence from both Reno and Las Vegas.  Don’t be alarmed, and have a nice day.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.