Flash Fiction #117

long-road

PHOTO PROMPT © Peter Abbey

IT’S A LONG ROAD THAT HAS NO TURNING

Women were not allowed to be doctors….because we’ve never allowed women to be doctors.

Negroes were not allowed to sit at the front of the bus….because we’ve never allowed blacks to do so.

Women were not considered ‘people’ and allowed to vote….because we’ve never allowed them to.

Women were not permitted to be priests and preachers….because they were never permitted.

We won’t authorize same-sex marriage….because it’s never been authorized.

Even if we’re forced to, we won’t allow them to call it marriage because we never have before.

It could be called circular logic, if there were any logic to it.

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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.

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Flash Fiction #103

Lamb

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

INSOMNIA CURE

Late again, Johnson??!!  You’ve been warned.  You’d better have a good reason, or you’ll be collecting severance papers from HR.

Well, Sir, you know I live outside the city. I even left early this morning, but old man Morton was herding his sheep from one pasture to another, and I had to pull over so I didn’t hit any.

His flock seems to have grown, and I wondered how much, so I started counting them, 287, 288, 289, 290…. I was dreaming of a Simmons mattress – and suddenly it was 9:15.

True story or not, that one lets you stay.   😆

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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.

 

Getting The Word Out

I guess I got my work ethic from both my parents.  Mom was content to just get a job and do it, in a time and place where women working outside the home, and especially in a factory, were unusual.  Once Dad got a reliable factory job, with a regular salary – paid in cash, in an envelope, every week – he often looked for other minor ways to supplement income, whatever it took to support self and family.

Like me, he’d got some secondary education, but no concrete idea of what he wanted to do with his working life.  Out of school, he worked for a year at a flour mill, then a year in the lumber industry.  He trained as a butcher, and refused to eat any fowl for the rest of his life because of how messy they were to clean.

He worked as a grocery store clerk, as a taxi driver, and then as the taxi dispatcher.  He worked as a poolroom attendant.  Not exactly glamorous, but it paid the bills.  As I was growing up, he devised several ways to supplement income.

He organized a weekly Saturday night party/dance at the local Legion, and took it from a dozen drunks who didn’t want to go home to their wives, to a couple of hundred people dancing and being entertained.  He hired the little band and sang and told jokes and made public service announcements.  It gave him and Mom a social night out, and put a few dollars into the family coffers.

He talked a printer into running him some advertising sheets for “SMITTY’S CARWASH”, and put them on posts on Main Street, and down near the beach, in the tourist area.  I could be mowing the lawn or eating lunch, and someone would roll into our driveway.  A rag, a bucket of hot soapy water, and the garden hose, and ten minutes later they had a shiny car.

Speaker

Another “Remember When” thing that he/we did, that no longer occurs because it’s been outlawed almost everywhere, was mobile public broadcasting.  He got a pair of speaker horns, attached to a sheet of plywood. We would wrestle them up, and attach them to a roof rack on a little British, Vauxhall station-wagon.   A feed cord ran from them to an amplifier in the back.  Power was supplied by a charged auto battery via a cord with alligator clips, because cars didn’t have cigarette lighters.

From when I was about 10, to 14, after I helped him set it up, I would ride with him.  He would drive, and speak into a mike.  Do one block, move to the next, and blast out the same announcement.  Up one street, and down the next, then back and forth across the town.

This was a summertime activity only, for when people were outside their non-air-conditioned houses, or the windows and doors were wide open.  There never seemed to be any dearth of clients – the town was holding a Bingo on the lawn beside the Town Hall – the Softball League had a playoff game – the Anglican Church was holding a pancake supper – the local snake-oil salesman was having a sale at his appliance store – somebody had brought Donkey Baseball to the local park – the Ladies’ Auxiliary was touting their Fish and Chips supper at the Masons’ Lodge – the circus was coming to town.

When I entered my teens, one day my Dad suggested that I take up the mike, and broadcast the spiel.  It would have been much easier for him not to have had to drive one-handed, and be able to concentrate on the road, but I was still a shy little nerd with a squeaky voice.  By the time my voice deepened a bit, and I had taken public-speaking training for assertive projection, times had changed.

This was the stone-age equivalent of social media – just without the internet, but people were waking up to the idea that they didn’t have to put up with things like spam noise pollution.  Churches in town were told to stop ringing their bells, because the faithful now had clocks, and knew when to come to worship.

The one church which had already removed its clanging bell, had replaced it with speakers on all four faces of the tower, and used them to blare out the chimes from their new electronic organ, and the entire service.  It was right across the street from a large Bed and Breakfast, as well as a 9-unit Inn.  The guests, and their hosts, strongly protested that they had the expectation of peace and quiet.

My father sold the amp and speakers.  The churches kept their bells quiet and their sermons indoors, and technology continued to create newer and better (?) ways to get the word out.  Now, if we can just pry the word out of the cell-phone-addicts’ ears.   😕

#464

Leftovers

In my recent My First Time post, I showed pictures of a little three-finger skinner knife I won.  My chiropractor also has an interest in knives, especially the expensive Art Knives.  I let him read my Knives Illustrated magazines after I am finished with them.

He also regularly reads my posts, so I knew that he had seen the photos of the knife, but the next time we went to see him, I took along the knife and sheath for him to handle.  When I went to put it back in the night-table drawer it came out of, I took a close look, and realized how many odd knives I had tucked away over the years.

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This is a hunter/skinner made by Queen Cutlery of Titusville PA.  Knowing of my interest in knives, my Father picked this out at random at a flea market in Florida one winter.

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Walking through a small park one day, I came upon this cheap Pakistani dagger just lying on the ground with no-one anywhere near.  Ensuring that there was no blood on it, indicating that it wasn’t involved in a crime, I picked it up and brought it home.

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This is the little kitchen/paring knife that the wife purchased at the Fall Knife Show in Detroit about two years ago.  It came with the sheath, which hides in the drawer, but it resides in the knife block.  Its blade is made of 5100 tool steel – the alloy that many ball bearings are made from.  This one started as a 1 inch diameter ball.  The extra-thick handle which helps the wife’s weak grip is Rosewood, and the belly of the blade makes cutting easier.

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This knife is Japanese-made for the North American tourist trade.  The brass handle is molded to show Indians hunting wolves from a canoe with a bow and arrow on one side, and a white explorer shooting moose on the other.  Heavy as original sin, I wouldn’t want to carry it in a pocket, and it won’t take or hold an edge any better than the piece of Paki crap above.

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This was sold as an ‘Airport Knife’ after 9/11.  Made from rigid thermoplastic, it will not set off metal detectors.  It has a flat ‘grind’ on one side only.  One edge is plain, while the other has serrations.  The circle at the haft has thumb-ridges to prevent slipping and increase control.   While not razor-sharp, it will inflict a lot of damage.

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This is a bartender’s knife, with a bottle opener, a lid pryer, a corkscrew, and a small blade for opening boxes and cutting seals and corks.

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This is a small two-blade, advertising, pen knife.  While this type of knife holds no interest for me, I have seen people’s collections with hundreds of brands on these things.

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This is a trick knife.  You can’t open it unless you know the secret.  The blade has no thumb nick.  Where the blade joins the handle, there is a small indent and a ball bearing.  The blade closes as far as you see in the photo, then you invert it and squeeze it closed.  The ball bearing rolls into the slot and locks the blade closed.  Even if you can grasp it tightly enough, it will not release.  Turn it up the other way and squeeze again, and it pops open.

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This is a small box-cutter type knife.  I should have photographed it next to a ruler, to show size.  It’s about as big as your little finger.  It has a plastic snap at the end of its lanyard, indicating it may have come on a carry-bag or piece of luggage, but after 9/11 it can’t fly on airplanes, even though it’s dangerous only to creatures smaller than a bumblebee.  I think someone disconnected it and dropped it.  I found it on a floor.

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This is the smallest knife I own – even though it’s the wife’s.  She got it at a Detroit knife show about five years ago, the first time we took the grandson with us.  I was smart enough to photograph this one beside a ruler, and the Queen hunter, to show size, about an inch long, closed, with a chain and ring for wallet or key chain.   This one is factory made.  Some makers build miniatures, both straight knives and folders like this.  They can be made from scrap pieces, but the amount of labor is at least as much as with a full-sized knife.  They can cost as much as their big brothers, so there’s a small market for small knives.

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This is a railway spike knife, and a spike like the one it was made from.  They are sold as paperweights/letter openers, because the percentage of carbon in the steel is so low that, like the crap above, they won’t take or hold an edge.  These weren’t hidden in the drawer.  I keep them out on display.  I have several other knives on display but….perhaps another day.

#452

Flash Fiction #34

Desolation

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GRASS IS GREENER

As Bob stood waiting for his fiancée and her parents to arrive for dinner, he thought of his old friend Paul. He missed his childhood buddy, but he was glad he hadn’t gone with him to Chicago.

Ugh, Chi-town, cold, windy and bleak.  Route 66, indeed.  New York City was the center of the universe.  He’d done well enough in advertising to afford this fine apartment in a prestigious building on Central Park.  Too bad he couldn’t get one with a view of the Park.

He had added mums to his end of ‘the courtyard’, but somebody kept stealing them.

 

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

 

Strange To Be Headed Home

No-one can sleep late in a motel.  All the early risers wake those who wish to sleep-in a bit.  On the morning of our third and last day in Detroit, the son and I had juice and pills, packed our stuff, double-checked the room, loaded the car and checked out by 11 AM.

Normally, we would have returned the plastic pass-keys.  The electronic code on the door is changed, so you can’t use them to get back in later, and they cost the motel less than a dollar to replace.  This time however, instead of two white cards, with “Red Roof Inn” imprinted on them, we got one advertising Hungry Howie’s restaurant chain, with the telephone number of the new one up the street near the Tim Hortons.  I’ve seen them in Florida, but I guess they’re moving north.

Corporate America never misses a chance to promote itself.  Recently someone commented that, soon, they’ll have advertising in washrooms.  Sorry old fellow.  Even out here in the boonies, I’ve seen ads above urinals for twenty years.  Some of the newer places have even installed flat-screen monitors above, beside, or even in, washroom mirrors.

After we ate our bacon breakfasts, and watched the floor show at Denny’s, we drove a couple of miles up the side road to gas the car up, ready for the trip home.  Here in Canada, it’s unusual to see even two-tenths of a cent/liter difference in price between nearby stations.  In Detroit, we saved 9 cents/Am. gal. by driving two miles off the interstate.

The Gibraltar Trade Center sits right beside I-75.  We returned and went in.  The son hasn’t been there for ten years, so he was more interested than I was.  He found, and I purchased, the last pancake batter pitcher they had, that the wife told us to keep an eye out for.

I’ve been through the place maybe twenty times.  I’m getting bored with it.  I saw a TV ad for another Trade Center, further north, that we may try next time the wife and I go down.  It also has a Red Roof nearby, I-94 access, and less driving south, then north, to get to the knife show.

We wandered the main floor for a couple of hours, then had some late lunch.  Sadly, my lack of physical labor in retirement has cut down the amount I can eat.  All I had room for was a plate of chilli-cheese nachos.  All that great food available, and nowhere to put it.  The bridge said “Thanks!”

We paid our way into the gun and knife show in the show area and looked at some interesting firearms.  We each were allowed to handle a “Dirty Harry” .44 Magnum pistol, and a huge .50 caliber handgun.  Special note to RCMP officer’s wives who might read this; none of them managed to follow us home, and we left all anti-social tendencies at the border, for the Americans.

At both shows, all entrants were given a half-sheet printed notice which read; ATTENTION CUSTOMERS: When bringing firearms into a Gun and Knife Show, please follow these simple steps:  Bring firearm in with no ammo in firearm (no exceptions). Have firearm inspected and safety-strapped by security at entrance.  We will not allow firearms to be unloaded at door.  They must be unloaded prior to entering the facility.  There simply is no room for error in a show of this size.  This policy is for the safety of all.

Finally, about 4 o’clock, we climbed into the car, got our snacks and drinks for the drive arranged, dug out American money for bridge-fare, and our passports, and headed back to the sane side of the river.  Late Sunday afternoon, the bridge didn’t seem busy, but when we exited to the customs plaza, all 18 lanes were backed up.  Still, the lines moved well.  We didn’t creep forward for more than ten minutes.

We each delivered our well-rehearsed lines about how long we’d been gone, and how much we were bringing back, to a happy, overly-polite Canadian Customs official, and were soon on the highway heading home.

If all goes well, with the wife’s assistance, I’m including some photos, and possibly a video of the big wind-turbines we took last October, as well as a shot of what Heaven looks like from the Canadian side.

Wind Turbine

 

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Syke Haul Oh Gee

Psychology is most plainly described as using language to persuade others to think, feel, say and do what you’d like them to.  Not necessarily what is best for the masses, but what is best for the manipulator.  Merchandisers, ad-men, politicians and religious types do it all the time, causing you to buy anything from cars to cults.  We even use psychology on ourselves, to convince ourselves of something, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

The son and I went out the other day, to visit two adjacent stores.  The outside temperature was right at the freezing mark, but it was easy for us to convince ourselves that we were only going from house to car, from car to store, we wouldn’t bother with jackets.  We received some very questioning looks from other shoppers, especially the little old lady bundled up in the Eskimo outfit, but we felt fine.  When we exited the first store, it had started to snow.  With no change of temperature or wind, I convinced myself that, now I felt cold.

I find *Believers* to be problematic.  If they *believe*, in anything, they’ve probably stopped thinking.  It’s almost impossible to see the scope of a problem or situation, when you’re inside the box.  Believers don’t just think that believers in other things are wrong, they often believe that no-one but them and their viewpoint exists.

Stories exist of Christopher Columbus’s first landing.  A tribe of natives at the shore, instead of being excited about the three ships, totally ignored them until confronted by Columbus and his shore party.  Three great sailing ships were outside their envelope of experience, and couldn’t exist until the acceptable men proved it.  A hundred years ago, a circus played a small Kansas (?) town for the first time.  The locals watched in amazement as things were unloaded.  Upon seeing a cage with a rhinoceros, a local rube sniffed and walked away, declaring, “Ain’t no such animal!”

Ignoring their own senses, those who have been psychologised continue to deny the existence of opposing opinions, and that’s all belief is, an opinion.  Even if millions, or billions, share it, it’s not necessarily the truth.  Worse than being ignored, is having the ego-damaged believers attack.  Using good psychological groundwork, they demonize those who are not like them, to justify their (pick one) imprisonment, punishment, forced conversion, ostracism, or even death.

There were already a dozen brands of de-alcoholised beer which had been quietly available in supermarkets when Molson decided to spend money to advertise their entry into the market.  Excel was flogged for about three months.  A woman in Toronto beseeched the Toronto Sun for help in saving her 12-year-old daughter and others from sin and depredation.  They had both *become aware* of Molson Excel.  Her daughter had gone to the corner store and bought and consumed one.

How dare this store sell such dangerous stuff to a child?  How dare the government not protect society by banning its open sale in stores?  It says right on the can that it’s “beer”, what else could it be?  Ignoring the other dozen brands of non-alcoholic beer, ignoring the dozen brands of non-alcoholic wine and spritzers, ignoring the fact that root beer says “beer” on the label, and ginger beer says “beer” on the label, and ginger ale says that it is “ale”, she had managed to convince herself that this innocuous fluid was somehow a valid threat.  A brother-in-law had trouble with his 18-year-old son sampling beer and whiskey at family gatherings.  With considerable misgivings, they allowed him some of these drinks.  He managed to grow up a reasonably well-adjusted non-drunk.

The gun-control group, most of whom are gunbanning people, claim that guns only have one purpose, to kill people.  Really?  Only kill, and only people?  There are a dozen reasons for the possession of firearms, from hunting to pest-control to target shooting to just the satisfied thrill of owning one.  They rail that there are three-hundred million guns in America.  And on one recent fateful day, the only one causing a problem was illegally accessed by a mentally unstable young man.

Nobody needs to own an assault rifle!  No, and nobody needs to own a car that can do 180 MPH, but a rich few of us do, and most of them drive at the speed the rest of us do.  High-capacity magazines allow higher numbers of dead!  And then a Chinese man, where firearms are tightly controlled, breaks into a school, with two knives, and kills 23 eight-year-old students, and teachers, and wounds eighteen others.

Guns kill people!  The number of people killed by cars is twenty times the death rate from guns.  But they only die in small numbers.  Yeah, sure!  A nearby van crash killed nine people.  A bus fell off a mountain in Colorado and killed 28.  But, they own a car, and maybe ride the bus, so they’ve convinced themselves that vehicle deaths are acceptable.  They don’t own a gun, and don’t think anyone should.  They see guns in the hands of careful, trained, legally licensed owners as evil, and dangerous.

When the first Harry Potter books and movies came out, I didn’t see the basis for the fuss that the Good Christians raised.  They are a work of fiction.  Even if magic were real – and it would take a gullible fool to believe it is – God created everything.  That would include magic, so why the heat and wind raised about it?  I found out that the theological hair-splitters considered themselves God’s representatives on earth.  God may have created magic but, if they couldn’t perform it, those who do, must be allied with Satan.

We convince ourselves and others of so many things, and allow others to make us believe many things.  Sadly those doing the convincing often have ulterior motives.  Even those with pure motives can be in honest error.  As usual, I advise thinking, objective thinking.  Don’t blindly believe.  Doubt everything!  It may feel comfortable to you, to just accept, but try to foresee the ills you can cause undeserving others.