Flash Fiction #170

Zor and Zam

PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior

ZOR AND ZAM

A business meeting – the bane of office life, always scheduled for the least inopportune time of a roomful of busy people.

You could be on the phone or computer, actually achieving something, but had to massage egos to justify your budget.  Basically it was a ‘Mine’s bigger than yours’ contest.  There was always one guy who had to show how important he was, by missing it.  Some came late – “Did I miss anything?”  Some had to leave early – pity the poor executive secretary who had to co-ordinate all this.

What if the boss gave an office meeting…. and nobody came?

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Click here to listen to The Monkees sing about two petty kings who tried to have a war, but nobody came.

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If you’ve read Rochelle’s offering, (And if you haven’t already, you WILL, Right!) click here to listen to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tell the story of Bo Jangles.

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

Friday Fictioneers

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Once Upon A Time In The Mid-East

Arab

Once upon a time in the mid-east…. things haven’t really changed much, only gotten more so.

Many moons ago, I worked as a security guard.  One of my co-workers was a man even older than me.  As a young man, just after World War II, he had traveled to England to take advantage of the burgeoning British post-war economy, to get a job.  Instead, he enlisted in the British Army, and was attached to the British Palestine Peacekeeping Force.  Their job was to prevent violence, and protect the newly-minted state of Israel.

Many Jews had lived in what became Arab Territory.  Either voluntarily, or under political pressure, they were convinced to leave farms and lands that they had worked and lived on for generations, and move inside the imaginary boundary-line of Israel, into imaginary safety, and start all over again.

He said that, as they patrolled around in Palestine, it was easy to see who had occupied the properties.  Jewish farms were green and lush with fruit, grain and vegetables.  They had bright homes and barns, and greenhouses to get new crops started.  Arab homesteads were dusty and brown, with perhaps a scrawny goat wandering around.

Did the Muslims who were leaving Israel take possession of these ready-made sources of shelter, food and income??  They did not!!  Usually the homes and outbuildings were burned, the greenhouses torn down, all the glass smashed.  The patrol was supposed to be neutral, but he said that it was difficult not to have sympathy, and side with the people who tried to build things up, rather than the hooligans who just wanted to tear things down.

One day they were called out to a problem.  They were trucked to a nearby Arab village near the new border.  They debarked, and marched into the village square/market.  There they came upon a small clot of idlers, with more drifting in.  As in my StOp! Ed post, the local imam or mullah was working the mob up, to march to the nearest Jewish settlement and attack.  Knives, machetes, clubs, slings, rocks, and bottles were in evidence.

My co-worker recounted that, in English, and in his best brash British bluster, the Sergeant-Major commanding the squad, waved his hands as if shooing flies, and told them that ‘You chappies ought to just break this up now, and get on with your business somewhere else.’

He got back the equivalent of, ‘No speakee English, you Tommy Brit invaders.’, so he went to plan B, and literally read them the Riot Act.  For those of you who think that being read the Riot Act is just a euphemism for your Mom coming down on you, think again.  There is an actual British Riot Act.  The solemnity of having it read to potential rioters is supposed to make them think twice about causing trouble.

Our Sovereign Lord The King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the Act made in the first year of King George the First for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies.

God Save The King

The rules state that it must be read three times, before any official violence is unleashed.  The SarMaj read the ponderous paragraph of it once in English.  Then, because some of the miscreants might be Jewish, he read it in Hebrew.  Then he read it in Arabic.  Then he circled around and read it again in all three languages.

All this time, the crowd is growing in size, and the mood is getting nastier.  Knives are waved at them, and small fake sorties are threatened.  Finally, he got the Act read three times in three languages, and ordered them in Arabic to disperse.

Wasn’t gonna happen, so he started giving the squad, orders.  Present arms!  The Arabs watched.  Insert cartridges!  They slapped magazines into their Lee-Enfield rifles. (They’d been unarmed all this time.)  The Arabs waited.  Charge weapons! Rifle bolts back, and then forward to cock. (Now they’re finally ready for action.) The Arabs wondered.  And, the SarMaj shouted, At the knees, aim!

He said that, by the time he got his rifle up to his shoulder, and his eyes on the sights, a single piece of paper, and dust, was settling to the ground.  The little plaza was empty.  Maybe some of them understood English, or just understood superior firepower.

Sadly, nowadays, little altercations like this happen much faster and more violently.  The Gentlemanly British rules of war have been replaced by Kill Or Be Killed.  Perhaps they were what Mr. Ed, the talking horse’s ass was thinking about.

OLD JOKES FOR OLD (SOVIET) FOLKS

Kremlin

Jokes recently declassified by the CIA, that they got from intercepted Russian documents during the Cold War.  I’m old enough to get most of these, although some of you might need to get Wiki or Google to explain them to you.

A worker, standing in a liquor store line says, “I’ve had enough.  Save my place in line.  I’m going to shoot Gorbachev.”  Two hours later he returns.  His friend says, “Did you get him?”  “No!  The line there was longer than this one.”

What’s the difference between Gorbachev and Dubcek?
Nothing, but Gorbachev doesn’t know that yet.

Sentence from a schoolboy’s weekly composition, “My cat had seven kittens.  They are good Communists.”  A sentence from the next week’s composition says, “My cat’s seven kittens are all Capitalists.”  The teacher reminded him that the previous week, he had said that they were Communists.  He replied, “Yes, but their eyes are open now.”

A Chukchi is asked what he would do if the Russian border was opened.  “I’d climb the highest tree.”  When asked why, he replied, “So that I didn’t get trampled in the rush to get out of here.”  When he was asked what he would do if the American border was opened, he said, “I’d climb the highest tree, to see who was the first person crazy enough to come here.”

Somebody happened to call the KGB Headquarters just after a major fire.  “I’m sorry.  We can do nothing.  The KGB has just burned down.”  Five minutes later, he again called, and was told that the KGB had burned down.  When he called the third time, the telephone operator recognised his voice and said, “Why do you keep calling?  I told you that the KGB burned down.”  “I know,” he said, “I just like to hear it.”

A train bearing Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev stops suddenly because it runs out tracks.  Each leader applies his own unique solution to the problem.  Lenin gathers workers and peasants from miles around, and exhorts them to build more rails.  Stalin shoots the engineer and crew when the train still doesn’t move.  Khrushchev rehabilitates the dead crew and orders the tracks behind the train ripped up and laid down in front.  Brezhnev pulls down the window curtain, and rocks back and forth, pretending that the train is still moving.  Gorbachev calls a rally in front of the locomotive and leads a chant, “No tracks!  No tracks!  No tracks!”

Ivanov: Give me a medical example of perestroika.
Siderov: (Thinks) How about menopause?

An old lady goes to the Gorispolkom with a question, but by the time she gets to the head of the line, she’s forgotten the purpose of her visit.  “Was it about your pension?” the official asks.  “No, I get 20 rubles a month.  I’m fine.”  “Was it about your apartment?”  “No, I live with three other people in a one room apartment.  It’s fine.”  Suddenly, she remembers; “Who invented Communism – The Communists, or the scientists?”  The official responds proudly, “Why, the Communists, of course.”  “That’s what I thought.” she says, “If scientists had invented it, they’d have tested it on dogs first.”

An American tells a Russian that the United States is so free that he can stand in front of the White House, and yell, “To Hell with Ronald Reagan!”  “That’s nothing”, the Russian replies, “I can stand in front of the Kremlin and shout, ‘To Hell with Ronald Reagan’, too.”

A man goes into a shop and asks, “You don’t have any meat?”  “No,” the lady replies, “we don’t have any fish.  It’s the store across the street that doesn’t have any meat.”

A man is driving with his wife and small child.  A Militia man pulls them over, and makes the man take a breathalyser test.  The Militia says, “See, you’re drunk.”  The man protests that the breathalyser machine must be broken, and invites the officer to test his wife.  She also shows as drunk.  Exasperated, the man invites the officer to test the child, and even the kid registers as drunk as well.  “You must be right.  I guess it is broken.” The officer says, and lets them go.  Out of earshot the man says to his wife, “See, I told you it wouldn’t hurt to give the kid 5 grams of vodka.”

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This comedic blast from the past has been brought to you by the Old Dude, who isn’t quite as Grumpy, because he got a chuckle from these outdated jokes.  Stop by later, and I’ll try to make fun of Trump, before he becomes a joke all by himself.  😆

Flash Fiction #169

Piedmont

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

IT’S RAINING, IT’S POURING

Before I moved here from California, Piedmont was just the name of a city.  Here in North Carolina it’s a little different.  The word still means the same thing – foot of a mountain.

In California, the only thing that Piedmont had to worry about was if the San Andreas Fault opened up, and most of the state took a dip in the Pacific.  Here, you guys have to evacuate to the piedmont to get away from big storms.  When do you figure Hurricane Florence will die off?

Usually, if my drinks are watered down, it was done by the bartender.

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

Friday Fictioneers

 

LOST IN THE U.S.A.

Map

No vacation is truly an adventure, until something goes wrong.

Based on that statement, our recent excursion into the Excited States was actually a roaring success.  It all started just after we crossed the Niagara River, and pulled up to the American Customs booth.

I had packed our Koolatron, a mini, portable refrigerator, the night before we left, with all kinds of drinks, Pepsi, iced tea, bottled water, orange juice….  As I was packing the car, the wife added some snacks to keep a diabetic’s blood sugar up – snap peas, baby carrots and cherries.

The border guard asked if we had any fruits or vegetables.  I said ‘no,’ and the wife startled.  He wasn’t worried about the peas or carrots, but Canada has cherry mites.  Wifey says, ‘That’s okay.  They’re Washington State cherries.’  ‘Let’s see them.’  The bag she had just finished was Washington, but the replacements she brought along were from British Columbia.  ‘They have to be quarantined.’ he says, and into the garbage they went.

Still distracted and smarting from the loss of the cherries, I was one lane too far right, and ended up heading south towards Buffalo, instead of swinging east towards the New York Turnpike.  A situation usually easily rectified, at the next exit I pulled up, over, and back down.  I practiced a bit of Zen driving, by following a Greyhound bus that looked like it knew where I was going.  I was right.  He led me well into Pennsylvania.

Our Canadian cell phone plan won’t talk to American cell towers.  Several miles down the Turnpike, the wife’s phone rang.  Is the car haunted??   It was our Canadian Virgin Mobile plan.  “For a mere $7/day, we’ll contract AT&T to provide you full phone service.  We realized that you were outside Canada by GPS tracking your cell phone.”  Great idea! and I didn’t hardly feel stalked at all.  We got Google GPS on the wife’s phone.  I wanted to call the new voice Navigator Nancy, but that name was already taken.  She became just Google Girl, and I now have three female voices in the car, telling me where to go.

The second episode of Lost, was filmed in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where we stopped for the night.  Frenchmen and ballerinas call it wilks – bar, but the locals insist that it’s wilks-berry. The address of our motel was right on a main access road, but we couldn’t find it.  By finally asking a convenience-store clerk, we discovered that it was actually up a hill, behind a U-Haul storage facility, and accessed from a small side-road, by going through a TGI Friday’s parking lot.

We didn’t learn that until we’d been past it 4 times.  I pulled into a small side-road to turn around, only to discover that it was the entry ramp for the Interstate.  We went nine miles back North.  I tried my patented up-over-and down maneuver©, only to find that the down ramp took me to a narrow, twisty State highway which only eventually got me back to what passes for civilization.

I must have earned some positive Karma points.  The next day’s highway mishap actually brought me out ahead – still behind, but not as far.  We wanted to go from an Interstate, to a State Highway, in Harrisburg, PA, to save about 60 miles.  All three female voices told me to take exit 5B.  I thought that 5B would be on the far side of the overpass, but like the one I missed in Buffalo a few years ago, both were on the near side.

Just as I realized this, and tried to reach the off-ramp, a local air-conditioning repair truck swooped out of the outside lane and cut me off.  Oh well, we’ll go down to exit 4.  No ‘up-over-and-down’ in the middle of a city, Ethel’s directions took me ‘down here,’ and then ‘across there.’  The wife complained that, if I must get lost, I should at least do it in an area with stately, historical homes, not the grubby factory and warehouse route we took.

When I reached the highway up-ramp, I manage to insert my vehicle into a ‘volume of traffic’ jam.  When I looked in my mirror, I found the air-conditioning van 3 or 4 spaces behind me.  After inching along for 3 miles, because of two more feeder ramps, we finally got back to ‘highway speed.’

In a previous blogging challenge, I’ve said that Life makes me happy.  Just before we leaked out of Pennsylvania into the Maryland panhandle, we curled around the base of a small mountain, just in time to see 10 colorful hot-air balloons rising up its sides.  The long, smooth, descending curve allowed us to observe them from a variety of angles and elevations.  Perhaps not as large or exciting as the Taos, NM hot air balloon festival, I still took it as a sign of apology and reward for the travails of the previous day.

There’s more to come, so I’d like you to come back.  😀

Taos Balloons

’18 A To Z Challenge – M

Alarm Clock

By dark and dreary mundane passings, are clipped.  (Psst!  Wanna read some poetry?)

A travelling salesman approaches an old codger, sitting in a chair outside the flyspeck-town’s general store.
“Excuse me sir, do you know what time it is?”
“Oh, ‘bout Tuesday, ah reckon.”
“No sir, I need to know the correct time.  I have a train to catch.”
“Tuesday’s close enough.  Ain’t no train till Friday.”

Once, people toiled from sunup to sundown, not caring what time it was, and only vaguely knowing, when the church bells rang, to tell them that it was time to tithe.

As towns and cities grew, it became more important that most folks were doing things at the same time, so the Latin horas became English language hours.

Passing Time was chopped up into 1/60th pieces of the hours.  Compared to the ‘hours’, these little chunks were MINUTE (my-nyoot), and that’s what they were called.  The original meaning of, tiny, small, is still pronounced that way.  Centuries of mush-mouth slide have changed these chunks of time into MINUTES (minnits).

With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, especially steam trains and their schedules, even smaller bits of time became necessary, and the MINUTES got carved into 60 smaller bits.  Since these were the SECOND smaller sections of the hour to be established, that was what they were called.

As modern technology relies more on computerized electronics, and even quantum services, time must be chopped up into finer and finer little portions.  The state-of-the-art technologists of even only a half century ago, would probably be astounded by the use of millisecond – thousandth, microsecond – millionth, nanosecond – billionth, and picosecond – trillionth.

It’s no wonder that Ethel GPS put me in Oregon, instead of Ohio.  She probably just needs new batteries in her watch.  I’ll watch to see if you stop by again soon.  😀

WOW #36

Lonely Man

I’m Just a Lonely Boy – or so Paul Anka claimed he was.  I’m not.  Thanx to a chance encounter with a dictionary, (Hah!  As if any encounter I have with a dictionary could be ‘Chance’) I find that I can apply the honorable title of

SOLITUDINARIAN

Noun

a person who seeks solitude; a recluse.

It’s not that I want to beat this concept to death; it’s just that I keep finding more and more dignified words to describe my chosen lifestyle.

Hate People

I don’t hate everybody.  I haven’t met everybody.  Aside from you lovely people, who come here and brighten my days, the less I have to do with the rest of the Smart Phone-wielding, gullible, ignorant- yet opinionated masses, the better for everyone involved.

The chains on my mood swing just broke.
Run!

I once admitted to a reader that I occasionally read Christian web-posts.  Shocked, he demanded to know why I would do such a thing.  It’s not Masochism.  It’s not generally intentional.  It’s that a surprising – almost frightening – number of Christian bloggers label their output with an ‘Atheist’, or ‘Atheism’ tag.

Between them, and the Flat Earthers, and the Conspiracy Theorists, (See Buzz Aldrin’s outrage that the recent movie, First Man, didn’t show the planting of the American flag on the moon) I feel comfortable in my own company.

Many Fundamentalist (with the accent on ‘mental’) Christians refuse to accept the Theory of Evolution, because they don’t want to admit that they might be related to monkeys.  There are just too many folks out there, otherwise known as wastes of space and resources, who act like they are related to jackasses.

Thanx for reading.  See you again soon.  😀