Flash Fiction #59

Addiction

PHOTO PROMPT © G.L. MacMillan

WHITE RABBIT

As a little girl, Alice had enjoyed visiting her grandparents. She often spent time in the old storage shed behind their house. Her path to the back was blocked by the swivel frame of a mirror-stand.

When she was 13, she realized she could access the rear simply by stepping through the empty oval. She found a set of shelves with colored bottles and vials. A sign on one said, “Eat me”. Another was labeled, “Drink me.” Others said, “Snort me,” and “Smoke me.” She obeyed them all.

“And that,” she told the rehab psychiatrist, “is how I got addicted.”

***

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

#487

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The Torture Of Faith

(Not too) recently, I read of Boko Haram, or ISIS, torturing 23 young children to death. I don’t know what menace six-year-olds can be, to bullies armed with AK-47s. If you feel the kids must die, at least do it quickly and cleanly. Afford them the dignity that you lack.

On the same day, a television station reran the movie, The DaVinci Code, in which a character slams down a copy of Malleus Maleficarum (Witches’ Hammer), a handbook The Inquisition used, to torture and burn thousands of innocents, most of them women.

Malleus Maleficarum

I had to read this thing, so I contacted my library. They didn’t have a copy, but obtained one for me on inter-library loan, from Toronto. The book was originally written in 1647, and I got a 40 year old paperback version, identical to the one in the movie, if more used and worn. It was composed about the same time as the King James Bible, full of ‘thee and thou’. It was a struggle to get through it in the 3-week loan period, but I managed.

The subtitle should have been, “How To Inflict Excruciating Pain For Fun And Profit.” The Church seized all property of those found guilty. Some Inquisitors skimmed a bit off for themselves, while others merely benefited through the enrichment of their organization.

I opened it up and started reading. Immediately, the lies, hypocrisy, mistaken assumptions and unprovable claims began. On page 1, clear as crystal, it said, “Magic exists. It was created by God in the beginning with all else, but He does not wish mankind to use it. Anyone who practices magic, allies with Satan.”

On page 3, just as clearly, it said, “Magic does not exist. It is merely apparent, only believed to exist by the faithful.” On page 5, the yo-yo now claimed that, “Magic does exist, but its effects are ephemeral and transient. If ignored, soon all will return to God’s intended state.”

I don’t know who the book was intended to convince, the writer, the commoners, from whom unfortunate victims were plucked, The Church/Pope, or the secular Royalty. Presumption of innocence just didn’t exist. “Hang ‘the witch’ by her thumbs for a day.” She’s already been convicted, but the ritual must be observed, so that ‘legal’ confiscation can proceed.

“If a Dark Witch do evil by Black Magic, find a White Witch to reverse the spell – then quickly burn them both to death.” “Have the Witch’s friends to tell her that if she confesses her sins, you will be merciful. If this does not avail, tell the Witch yourself that you will be merciful – holding in mind that you will be merciful unto The Church and the King, from whom you hold obedience and loyalty.” No lie was too big, or too devious.

The Catholic Church even had the temerity to declare, “No-one convicted of heresy by The Inquisition, was later found to be innocent.” largely because any friend or relative who protested, was subjected to the same torture and execution.

“Ask the witch why she does not cry for her sins. Watch carefully to see that she does not use spittle to wet her cheeks.” She did not cry for her sins, because she committed none, and modern science knows that a body under stress cannot cry.

You might think that a person in agony might choose quick death to end the prolonged torment, but even here, The Inquisition cheated. If you confessed, you had to swear to God that your confession was true. Anyone lying to God was sent to Hell, so Inquisitors were granted more time to play their sick games. An innocent person was believed protected from pain by faith in God. That worked so well in everyday life.

For anyone who wants to play the No True Scotsman game, and claim that these were not ‘real Christians’ or ‘Good Catholics’ – during the worst of the Inquisition, a Bishop went from city to city, marking down the ingenious ways the locals had of inflicting pain. The book was copied and sent back to the various areas, so that others could benefit. When this was done, the Bishop traveled to Rome, and the Pope blessed both him and his vile book.

A Scottish sea captain delivered a cargo to Madrid. While he was on the streets, looking for another cargo, he was snatched and imprisoned. He was held for three days without food or water. He was flogged, and stretched on the rack. Joints and bones in his hands and feet were broken. He was seared with red-hot irons, and cut with knives. Pieces of skin and flesh were torn off his body, and finally he was subjected to the medieval equivalent of water-boarding.

When he managed to survive all these indignities, he was thrown, naked and broken, back out onto the street. No questions were asked. No accusations were made. No confession was extracted. These Dominican Servants of God merely wanted the practice.

A king of Sweden wished to marry a particular lady, but the court advisors were against his choice. Perhaps they felt her virtue was questionable, or maybe they knew that she would undermine their influence with the king. They claimed that she was a witch, who had ensorcelled his mind, and demanded that she be ‘Put To The Question.’ (Tortured)

This was usually enough to make someone back off, but she and the King persisted. The test was to grasp a red-hot iron bar in both hands, and walk three measured paces. It was reported that she took the three paces, stopped, took another three paces, and demanded, “Is there more you would have me do?”

Cynical me sees gold changing hands, the castle torturer being told that he might become a customer of his replacement, and the recording priest reminded that he could suffer a fatal accident. Or maybe they both just loved the king and his lady, and hated the devious courtiers. The lady became Queen Gertrude, and almost everyone lived happily ever after.

A hundred years later, Swedes were so taken by the story of the virtuous maid, protected from pain and evil by God, that it was declared a miracle, and she became Saint Gertrude. Oy! 😳

#486

Up In Smoke

Cigar

A defendant in a lawsuit involving large sums of
money was talking to his lawyer.

“If I lose this case, I’ll be ruined.

“It’s in the judge’s hands now,” said the lawyer.

“Would it help if I sent the judge a box of cigars?”

“Oh no! This judge is a stickler for ethical
behavior. A stunt like that would prejudice him
against you. He might even hold you in contempt
of court. In fact, you shouldn’t even smile at the judge.”

Within the course of time, the judge rendered a
decision in favor of the defendant.

As the defendant left the courthouse, he said to
his lawyer, “Thanks for the tip about the cigars.
It worked!”

“I’m sure we would have lost the case if you’d
sent them.”

“But I did send them.”

“What?? You did???”

“Yes. That’s how we won the case.”

“I don’t understand,” said the lawyer.

“It’s easy. I sent the cigars to the judge, but
enclosed the plaintiff’s business card.”

***

I have enough money to last me the rest of my
life….unless I buy something.

***

A man with a winking problem is applying for a
position as a sales representative for a large firm.

The interviewer looks over his papers and says,
“This is phenomenal. You’ve graduated from the
best schools; your recommendations are wonderful,
and your experience is unparalleled.

Normally, we’d hire you without a second thought.
However, a sales representative has a highly
visible position, and we’re afraid that your
constant winking will scare off potential
customers. I’m sorry….we can’t hire you.”

“But wait,” he said. “If I take two aspirin, I’ll
stop winking!”

“Really? Great! Show me!”

So the applicant reaches into his jacket pocket
and begins pulling out all sorts of condoms: red
condoms, blue condoms, ribbed condoms, flavored
condoms; finally, at the bottom, he finds a packet
of aspirin. He tears it open, swallows the pills,
and stops winking.

“Well,” said the interviewer, “that’s all well and
good, but this is a respectable company, and we
will not have our employees womanizing all over
the country!”

“Womanizing? What do you mean? I’m a happily
married man!”

“Well then, how do you explain all these condoms?”

“Oh, that,” he sighed. “Have you ever walked into
a pharmacy, winking, and asked for aspirin?”

***

Too bad all the people who know how to run the
country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.

George Burns

***

Mexico doesn’t have an Olympic Team, because anybody who can run, jump, or swim, is already in the United States.

***

The biggest shithead and the person in command
can generally be shot with the same bullet.

***

An engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates.
St. Peter checks his dossier and says,
“Ah, you’re an engineer you’re in the wrong place.”

So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and
is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer gets
dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell,
and starts designing and building improvements.

After a while, they’ve got air conditioning and
flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is
a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls Satan up on the telephone and
says with a sneer, “So, how’s it going down there
in hell?” Satan replies, “Hey, things are going
great. We’ve got air conditioning and flush
toilets and escalators and there’s no telling what
this engineer is going to come up with next.”

God replies, “What??? You’ve got an engineer?
That’s a mistake – he should never have gotten
down there; send him up here.”

Satan says, “No way! I like having an engineer
on the staff, and I’m keeping him.”

God says, “Send him back up here, or I’ll sue.”

Satan laughs uproariously and answers, “Yeah,
right. And just where are you going to get a lawyer?”

#485

Flash Fiction #58

White wedding

PHOTO PROMPT © Dee Lovering

BILLY IDOL

Today was the most exciting, important and defiant day in Jenn and Tony’s lives. They had been thrilled that the city had granted them exclusive use of this big gazebo in the park.

After taking care of City Hall paperwork, they had joined their friends here. The non-traditional caterers were set up outside, and inside, they had TUNES. The thing about Canadian weather was, if you didn’t like it, wait five minutes and it would change, but it was only Sept. 21, the equinox.

“Well Jenn, you did say you would also have liked a white wedding. You got one!”

***

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

#484

A Phish Out Of Water

The other day, while I was out being threatened (More on that later), the wife was being phished. Since the son and I were out running errands, she took advantage of our absence to sit at the PC in the computer room, and pay some bills online.

She had just accessed the bank’s website, and was viewing activity on our account for the last 30 days, when the phone rang. Jane Doe? Yes?? This is Walter, at the accounting department of XYZ Bank. I want to talk about a $200 deposit that was made to your account, 11 AM, on June 18.

She wisely said that she’d check into it, and would call him back. What was his number? The bank’s accounting department would be in Toronto, with a 416 area code. He gave her a local, 519 number. What extension?? Oh, that’s a direct line.

She scrolled up the page and, of course, there was no such deposit. She tried calling his number back. We’re sorry. The number you have called is equipped for outgoing calls only. It was worrying that this scammer knew her name, which is not listed in the phone book, and the fact that we banked with XYZ. We paranoidly shred everything that has a name or address on it, to the point that a Christmas present from the son, was a new cross-cut shredder which makes confetti.

She called the bank’s 1-800 customer service number, and reported the incident. They said they’d look into it, but it’s like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.

Meanwhile…. I’d had a Tri-Fecta week.

Shopping cart

A woman in a grocery store had backed into my cart, and apparently hit her elbow. Ow! Ow! Ow! – WELL?? Well what? Are you going to apologise? NO!

I left another store a couple of days later, and went to climb into my car. Suddenly, the owner of the van to my left, leaned past his windshield and yelled, “Take it easy on my van! It’s brand new, and I don’t want it all scratched up.” Uh, Okay…. “I told you, don’t scratch my van!” I didn’t – I didn’t touch it. “I’m warning you. Take it easy on my van.” Even with my door fully open, it doesn’t touch your van by two inches. Take a look. “Just watch yourself! I warned you to stay away from my van. I hate ignorant cocksuckers like you.” (My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.) and climbed in and roared away.

The coup de grace came on Saturday morning. When the son got home from work, we went out together to do some shopping and errands. As we finished the last, it was nearing lunch time, and he offered to treat, at a Subway shop.

We followed a family in, parents early 30s, boys 6 and 8, and waited patiently as they all worked their way down the counter, picking out toppings. Dad went first, then the excited, indecisive boys, followed by mom in ballerina mode, arms akimbo, hands on hips, swiveling back and forth, making decisions.

She finally made her last choice (Swiss cheese) and moved up to the register, where dad was paying. I moved up, and started giving my choices, when she and her Tai Chi elbows came dancing back. I tried to back out of her way, but one of her flying elbows just touched my ample tummy.

Being the well-mannered Canadian that I am, I said, “Oops, I’m sorry.”, and she danced away again. I continued picking stuff for my sandwich as hubby spoke to her….or so I thought. Suddenly I heard, “Hey! I’m talking to you!” Wha’?? “Watch what the fuck yer doin’! That’s just fucking disrespectful. I oughta slap the shit outta you!”

So, he’s taught the boys that it’s okay to use foul language in public and threaten people, all 5’ 8”, and 150 lbs. of him. A lover, not a fighter, and almost 71, I think I could have taken him, because it would not have been a fair fight. If not, I brought along my son, The Bear. At 6’ 2”, and 275 lbs. he could just squeeze this mouthy idiot’s head till all the shit ran out his ears.

As they headed for a table, he leaned in and hissed, “Yer just lucky I had the wife along today.” which, while not the dumbest thing I’d heard all week, was well up in the top ten. If he hadn’t had the Prima Ballerina, she wouldn’t have bumped into me, and this whole damned drama scene wouldn’t have occurred. Shit, take your meds, and attend those court-ordered anger management sessions!

Then he sat down with the wife he was so worried about, pulled out his smart phone, and proceeded to ignore her and his sons while he phoned three friends to set up a golf game the next day, and then play Candy Crush.

As the President of the local Grumpy Old Dude Association, I’d like to claim that I’m an irritating old turd, and own these, but:

You weren’t watching where you were going, and walked into my cart. I didn’t touch your vehicle! Open your eyes and look.
Your wife backed into me – and I apologised.

If these had valid causes, I’d blame them on urban overcrowding pressure. What in Hell causes people to get so angry and aggressive about imaginary slights and insults?

#483

Adoption

Buddha

In our continuing quest to get a front-page spread in Better Huts And Hovels (Pagan Press Intl.), the wife decided to dress the place up a bit, and give it some character. To that end, we decided to adopt a few more characters as lucky amulets.

SDC10848

She felt we should get a small statue of Buddha for the back deck, among her many plants, as a sign of peace, so off to Lowes we trekked. We found a lovely Buddha, and right next to him, Elfen (above). One look at that smirky smile, and we said, peace on Buddha, we’re taking him. That shit-disturbing little grin just says, “Take me home, so that we can start getting into trouble.”

SDC10840

The son keeps acquiring semi-precious stone skulls. His total now is about 20. I’ll show you his rogues’ gallery complete, later in the summer. His interest has rubbed off on the wife, and she has also begun a collection. As homage to our alien overlords, she now displays in a place of honor, a replica of Ming from Mong, their revered leader.

SDC10854

On a lower shelf, to demonstrate our obedience and subjugation, sits a little crystal human skull replica, that the son gave his mother for Mothers’ Day. Isn’t he sweet and thoughtful? That’s so much better than the Swiffer Sweeper and electric fry pan I got her. My head still has a lump from when she accidentally dropped it while putting it away.

SDC10844

If two heads are better than one, then 20 should be better than 2, so the son continues to expand his collection. He says this big obsidian skull has been talking to him from the Rock Shop at the Farmers’ Market, for over six months….He just means that he’s been attracted to it, right?? I mean, it couldn’t really talk to him – could it??!

SDC10842

To help him with his thinking, the son recently got another set of wooden heads. He claims that they stand for See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil. There’s nothing evil about this house, but I think these guys just don’t want to see or hear what’s going on. Poor Moe, on the bottom, saw and heard, and is now trying to keep his stomach down. Nice of him, but with a couple of sensitive cats, one more stain on the rug wouldn’t even be noticed.

SDC10510

These new kids sit not too far away from their older, larger brothers, which the son obtained back in the fall. The old Market building burned down because it was made of dried wood, and had no sprinklers. Perhaps I should dip these in fire retardant, and tell the son that I’m staining them for him. 😉

So, all in all, we’re now better protected from random psionic and thaumaturgic attacks. Maybe I should obtain a couple more and send them to Cordelia’s Mom, to protect her from the imps who infest her neighborhood.

#482

Flash Fiction #57

Zagreb

PHOTO PROMPT- © Sandra Crook

HISTORY LESSON

Milos came to America as a teen, intending to become rich and famous.  He worked hard, always thinking about returning to his home for a visit.

Hard work alone guaranteed neither riches nor fame.  Sometimes you needed a little bit of luck.  His first chance to return to beautiful Zagreb came with a small lottery win.

Many Americans were so immediate.  They had no sense of history.  They thought ‘old’, was yogurt past its best before date.

There were buildings on this quiet street which had been erected over three different centuries, two of those before the United States existed.

***

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

#481