Flash Fiction #197

Harry Potter

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

OVER THERE

They both diligently saved from their wages, determined to see at least a little bit of the world, before they settled down to careers, marriage and family.

London was fantastic, and they did all the touristy things. Being nerds, they located a Harry Potter store, bought wands, and enjoyed butter beer. They couldn’t find a platform #9-3/4, but they booked a tour on this old steam train, like the Hogwarts Special. The views of the countryside, the quaint little railway stations, and even a castle on a hill, were delightful.

Happy, but resigned, they returned to face the workaday world.

***

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

On a personal note, this is my 1100th published post since Nov. 2011. Also, if you note, it’s FF #197. If all goes well, in a couple of weeks, I’ll reach another milestone of 200.   😀

That Fills The Bill

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My recent host and hostess were not interested in money.

I took along a few foreign bills, and odd coinage, to show them.  There was some vague interest in the mis-cut American $1 bill, the somewhat rare American $2, and some chuckles over the ‘Slick Willy’ Bill Clinton $3 fake bill.  The lack of interest may have been because he’s a soldier who has been posted all over the world, and seen much of these firsthand.

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The interest ramped up when I showed the collection to her younger son and his girlfriend.  We played a game of, ‘You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.’  Only partly because his step-father is a soldier, he has amassed a promising collection.  Going through my catalogue, we found a British Armed Forces, £1 occupational scrip which Rants might have been interested in.

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He kindly offered to let me take any of his bills and coins, because he merely keeps them, not mounts and displays, as I do.  He had 16 or more countries’ bills.  I could have asked for all of it, but restrained myself to three countries that he had duplicates of.

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As luck would have it, they’re all from the same general area of the world.  The Indian 10 Rupee, and the Sri Lankan 20 Rupee, are both paper, and printed about the year 2000.  The Singaporean $2 is newer, and made of polymer plastic with all kinds of security features that prevented me from taking a photocopy of it.  I did my usual money laundering, and washed and ironed them.  Singapore had a hard fold in the center, which even mild heat wouldn’t flatten completely out.

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Pawing through his coins, suddenly I had British King George V looking up at me from a large coin.  I knew it wasn’t Canadian.  Might it be from England – or Jamaica – or Australia??  Turning it over, I was amazed to find that it was a 1919 Newfoundland Half Dollar.

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I explained to him that Newfoundland was the 10th province of Canada, but didn’t join
Confederation until 1949.  Until then, they had their own coins and bills, minted and printed in England.  I have long wanted at least one Newfy coin to add to my collection.  Not produced for almost 70 years, I had long ago given up much hope of finding any.

Since he didn’t even know what it was, and it plainly meant something to me, he insisted that I take it.  A caring mother has obviously raised a kind and generous child.  Before I left, BrainRants gave me a quarter-sized United Arab Emirates 1 Rial coin, which he didn’t obtain while he was serving in the army, but rather, he found it, going to work on the bus, in cosmopolitan Washington DC.

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I have many other foreign bills that I will publish pictures of in a post one day, as soon as I work off the procrastination.  Till then, I am always happy to have you visit.  Come again, y’hear!   😀

Get Up….And Go

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For a couple of years during our teens, my brother worked pumping gas on the weekends for the snake-oil salesman who owned a local garage. I stopped in one summer Sunday to shoot the shit, and noticed a pile of tires with bright yellow chalk markings of NFG on the sidewalls.  In all my small-town naïve innocence, I asked, “What does NFG mean?” “Haw, haw, haw!!  Oh, you know what NFG means!”

Even these years later, the arrogant stupidity of that non-answer still irritates me. If I ‘knew’ what NFG meant, I wouldn’t have asked what NFG meant.  A couple of years later, when I got out in the cruel, cruel (and often foul-mouthed) world, I found that it meant No Fucking Good.  Why didn’t he just say so?

One day he accosted me. “Whaddya doin’ next Saturday?” “Why?” “Wanna make 25 bucks?” That was the equivalent of a half a day’s wages.  Rather suspiciously, “Doing what?”

A couple of times a year, he would go to a used-car auction outside Toronto, bring home some lemons vehicles, fix them (almost) up, and sell them at a profit.  Oh, he wants another driver.  It’s reasonably safe, and almost legal.  I could use a little extra spending money.  Sure, why not!?

Five of us met at the garage at O-dark-600. He piled us all into a big old Mercury sedan.  He drove, with two guys in the front with him.  Remember those big old boats, where three could ride in comfort on the front bench seat?  Not ‘safely’ though, ‘cause they didn’t have seatbelts.

Two other gullible suckers and I rode in the back. Off we set for a 100 mile, 2-hour drive.  The car auction began at 9:00 AM and we arrived with time to spare.  Mr. Snake-Oil went inside, but, since we weren’t registered buyers, we had to remain outside.

We wandered around, bored, talking to each other and other teens who’d come with other dealers, searching for washrooms and maybe something to eat or drink. At noon, he came out, all smiles.  He’d bought five cars – one for each of us.

We made sure that they all started and ran, and had enough gas for the trip home, and formed up our little convoy. Since I’d previously owned a Morris, and currently owned an Austin, I was assigned a four-cylinder Vauxhall sedan, similar to the station-wagon my Father had recently owned, while the rest got 6- and 8-cylinder Fords and Chevies.

With the chief turkey buzzard leading the parade, we headed for home. I was in third position.  When we reached the 60MPH speed limit of the highway, we quickly sped up to 65/70….all except me.  It seemed that, no matter what I did (not much), the best I could do was 50/55.  Number 4 soon passed me.

A mile down the road, “the best I could do” suddenly dropped to 30/35.  Number five pulled out and passed, and Tail-End Charlie was breathing down my tailpipe.  Then, the wee beast speeded up again, if you can call 50 MPH, speed.

Another mile, and it faltered again. Soon I was number 6.  In a day before cell-phones for emergencies, I wondered what would happen if this thing died all together, as the last of them disappeared over a hill, a half a mile ahead.  I thought about just pulling it off to the side, and hitch-hiking back.

After a hundred miles of this, I finally nursed it home. As I pulled in, he yelled, “Where the Hell have you been?  Did you get lost?  The rest of us have been back for hours.”  25 – 30 minutes, maybe, but, gee thanks for keeping an eye out and worrying about me Boss.  “What the Hell kept you?”

I explained that I just couldn’t get any top-end speed, and that it would die off every once in a while. I said, “It feels like I was driving on three cylinders half the time, and the other half, only on two.” “Oh, you just don’t know how to drive!”  I took my $25 undeclared cash earnings and left. ‘See if I ever do that for you again.’

About a week later, I pulled in to gas up my Austin, and he swaggered over and stuck his head in my window. “Remember that Vauxhall you drove for me?”  I’d been trying to put it out of my mind, but, “Yeah?” “Know what I found?” A llama in the trunk?  Bubble-gum in the ashtray?  A complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica?  “What?”

“When I was working on it, I found that one of the spark plugs was welded closed, and one of the ignition wires from the distributor was loose. If it got bumped, there was no power going to that plug.  It was like it was running on three cylinders half the time, and only on two, the other half.”

Do I get a free tank of gas for diagnosing the problem for you? Of course not!  Not even a thank you or an admission that I was right, much less an apology.  What an arrogant, self-centered asshole.  When I went back to school after moving here to Kitchener, I met his then-divorced wife.  She couldn’t stand him either.  Later, his brother was elected President of the United States.

If Wishes Were Horses

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If wishes were horses….there’d be a big pile of manure around any significant discussion. We are a strange species, willing – anxious – to deny, or argue what others among us regard as perceived truth.

On my recent, A View Of Islam post, it was all going so well, seemingly, until I got the following response to this paragraph:

‘In the U.K, the Muslim communities refuse to integrate and there are now dozens of “no-go” zones within major cities across the country that the police force dare not intrude upon. Sharia law prevails there, because the Muslim community in those areas refuse to acknowledge British law.’

What a load of ****. There are absolutely NO ‘no-go’ zones of any description in the UK. British law applies and is enforced throughout the UK, without exception.  Donald Trump had to apologise after making a similar, and untrue, statement about the UK city of Birmingham. I appreciate that you are only quoting from someone else in your blog but to give publicity to a totally untrue statement is demeaning to your blog and yourself.

I snidely protested;

Enforced the way it is in the barrios of East L.A. or Little Cuba in Miami? In my quiet, well-behaved city of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, two blocks from my home, is an enclave of 75 houses, full of people with beige skin and head coverings. In 15 years of living here, I have never seen a police car enter or patrol it.

That earned me this reply;

 In the UK, British law applies to everyone. ‘No-go’ areas that police do not enter just don’t exist. I cannot comment on Canada, I have only been there twice.

He reminds me of a militant atheist, desperately trying to ‘prove that there is no God.’  He knows what he wants, what he feels should be, what he believes, and what he wants others to believe, and just ignores any evidence to the contrary.

I especially liked his ad hominem attack on Canada, and his implied claim that he is well enough off to have travelled here a couple of times, to set us Colonials straight.

He’s right that British law applies everywhere in the country, but if he truly believes that there are no areas where policemen don’t bother to go, his ass is in the air, right beside the ostrich with its head in the sand.

I recently read a post from a young female who attended Catholic Church, but disagreed with almost everything the priest propounded as Church tenets – no gay marriage, hate and fear homosexuals, no divorce, no birth control, and no married priests.

I congratulated her on her independent thinking, and asked her what she was going to do about her contrary beliefs. Other than her blog, was she going to go public, to the priest, to her family, to the congregation? Would she leave the Church?

“Oh, no,” she replied, “I’m going to keep going to Church.” But she’s not! Now she’s just attending a social club – and there’s nothing wrong with that – if she, and others like her, have the integrity to admit it.

If your cat has kittens in the barn, you can call them horses; just don’t try to ride them.  If wishes were horses, beggars might ride.  These buggers are riding the hobby-horse of their own imagination.

A blonde, who has always wanted to ride a horse, decides to try it one day. She carefully mounts, clutches the reins, and they’re off.  Not used to the powerful motion, she has trouble staying in the saddle.  Suddenly one of her feet comes out of the stirrup, and she falls forward onto the horse’s neck.

She holds on desperately, but begins to slide off the side of the horse. Lower and lower she hangs.  Her other foot is now jammed in the stirrup, and she winds up hanging almost upside down.  Finally, her head touches, and the horse’s strong movements begin to bang it against the ground.

She feels pain, and begins to see stars. Just when she fears that she will lose consciousness and die….the manager of the Wal-Mart rushes over and unplugs the horse.  😉

Sassin’ The Sassenach

Union Jack

The grandson, ‘Thorn Smith’, has finished his three-year welding apprentice course, and is now licensed to work anywhere in Canada.  He recently accompanied his fiancé to Ottawa, ON (545 Km – 340 Mi. – 5 ½ hour drive) so that she could attend university there.

Before they each take this big life-step, they decided that they should see a bit of the world first. He saved money from his placement employment, and she from her job as a Starbucks barista, and they flew to London, England for a week.

One of the big attractions was a chance to see the new Harry Potter play, ‘The Cursed Child.’ On the day that tickets were released, they crouched over their computer, waiting for the floodgates to open.  When it happened, they quickly found that the system would respond to PCs, but not to their Apple.  In the slightly less than an hour that it took them to physically move to where there was an available PC, ALL TICKETS for the entire run were sold out.

Still, money had been saved, and plane tickets had been bought, so off they went. A tiny, unexpected payment from a retirement fund allowed us to gift them with £100 in ten-pound notes, because vacations are always costly, and London is said to be expensive.

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Aside from the missed play, they enjoyed all the touristy London things – London Bridge, Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye Ferris Wheel, Curry In A Hurry, and fish and chips.

Even before the Brexit from the E.U. England had not accepted Euro notes or coins, especially after (relatively) recently having switched over to decimal coinage. The grandson brought me back a complete set of coins.  They descend from the bi-metal 2-Pound, to the single, round-Pound, heptagonal 50-pence and 20-pence, quarter-sized 10-pence, dime-sized 5-pence, 50-cent-sized copper 2-pence, and a copper penny.

Around the edge of the 2-Pound coin is inscribed, “On The Shoulders Of Giants”, a reference to Sir Isaac Newton. Around the 1-Pound coin’s edge is, “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” the royal Stuart and a Scottish motto, meaning, “No-one attacks me with impunity.”

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Not knowing that I had one, he also brought me back a 5-Pound note. Different from mine, I find that British notes are now not only color-coded, but size-coded, as well; the smaller the denomination, the smaller the bill.

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I also have a Scottish 1-Pound note, and a British Armed Services 1-Pound Scrip bill not to be used anywhere but, or even removed from, Armed Forces bases. I have a surprising number of items like that, Russian Rubles and Kopeks, Cuban Pesos.

Ten pounds

There’s a lot of separation going on over there. Britain has left the E.U.  Scotland wants to separate from England, and may independently rejoin it.  They are allowed to print their own money.  Ireland wants little to do with either, and also prints up their own greenbacks.

When grandson and fiancé were first driven to Ottawa to take possession of their apartment, they found a Starbucks, literally visible from their front window. When they drove over for a caffeine-break, her mother got the first coffee, and stepped back to wait.

Perhaps recognising new customers, the female manager approached to welcome and ask how things were. The mother said that her daughter worked at a Starbucks in Kitchener, and would be looking for a position in Ottawa.

“She’s an experienced barista??! I’m short-handed and hiring.  Have her manager email me, and I’ll have a job for her as soon as she’s available.”  Going to class and working part-time will be busy, but they’ll have income until he finds a decent job.  I love it when a plan comes together.

[Hopefully, the grandson is reading this on his Smart-Phone. Thanx for all your past help.  We miss you already.  Good luck, and keep in touch.]   😀

Flash Fiction #75

Dr. Who

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

THE GRASS IS GREENER

Oy, just back it up half a mo.  That there grass was green and mowed when I climbed in this thing an’ you did the flashin’ lights and sound-effects thingy.  And where in the bloody ‘ell did them skyscrapers come frum.  They wasn’t in mah bleedin’ front yard when I came outta the house a few minutes ago.

Where are we?
Wha’, “When??”  Right now!
“When are we??”  Like we moved in time, like?
We did?  How’dya know?
“The lights and sounds did it, and you made ‘em?”
How could you do that??!
“Cuz yer thuh doctor?!”

DOCTOR WHO?!

Tardis

***

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

The Business Of Fame

Pence

Most Famous Man Who Ever Lived

One day many years ago at a school in South London a teacher said to the class of 5-year-olds, “I’ll give 20 pence to the child who can tell me who was the most famous man who ever lived.”
An Irish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Patrick.” The teacher said, “Sorry Alan, that’s not correct.”
Then a Scottish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Andrew.” The teacher replied, “I’m sorry, Hamish, that’s not right either.
Finally, an Indian boy raised his hand and said, “It was Jesus Christ.” The teacher said, “That’s absolutely right, Jayant, come up here and I’ll give you the 20 pence.”
As the teacher was giving him his money, she said, “You know Jayant, since you are Gujarati, I was very surprised you said Jesus Christ.” He replied, “Yes, in my heart I knew it was Lord Krishna, but business is business!”

***

$200 Bucks It Is…

A guy goes over to his friend’s house, rings the bell, and the wife answers.
”Hi, is Tony home?”
”No, he went to the store.”
“Well, you mind if I wait?”
”No, come in.”

They sit down and the friend says “You know Nora, you have the greatest breasts I have ever seen. I’d give you a hundred bucks if I could just see one.”

Nora thinks about this for a second and figures what the hell – a hundred bucks. She opens her robe and shows one. He promptly thanks her and throws a hundred bucks on the table.

They sit there a while longer and he says “They are so beautiful I’ve got to see the both of them. I’ll give you another hundred bucks if I could just see the both of them together.”

Nora thinks about this and thinks what the hell, opens her robe, and gives him a nice long look. He thanks her, throws another hundred bucks on the table, and then says he can’t wait any longer and leaves.

A while later Tony arrives home and his wife says “You know, your weird friend Chris came over.”

Tony thinks about this for a second and says “Well did he drop off the 200 bucks he owes me?”

***

Italian, French and Indian

An Italian, French and Indian all went for a job interview in England. Before the interview, they were told that they must compose a sentence in English with three main words: green, pink and yellow.

The Italian was first: “I wake up in the morning. I see the yellow sun. I see the green grass and I think to myself, I hope it will be a pink day.”

The French was next: “I wake up in the morning, I eat a yellow banana, a green pepper and in the evening I watch the pink panter on TV.

Last was the Indian: “I wake up in the morning, I hear the phone “green green”, I “pink” up the phone and I say “Yellow.”

***

What’s The Point?

When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 million to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 C. The Russians used a pencil.

 

Missed Manners

Etiquette

During a good manners and etiquette class being held for young children, the teacher says to her students:

“If you were courting a well educated young girl from a prominent family and during a dinner for two, you needed to go to the toilet, what would you say to her?”

Mike replies: “Wait a minute; I’m going for a piss.”

The teacher says: “That would be very rude and improper on your part.”

Charlie replies: “I’m sorry, I need to go to the toilet, I’ll be back in a minute.”

The teacher says: “That’s much better but to mention the word “toilet” during a meal, is unpleasant.”

And Little Johnny says: “My dear, please excuse me for a moment. I have to go shake hands with a personal friend, whom I hope to be able to introduce to you after dinner.”

***

An 18th-century vagabond in England, exhausted and famished, came to a roadside Inn with a sign reading: “George and the Dragon.” He knocked. The Innkeeper’s wife stuck her head out a window. “Could ye spare some victuals? ” The woman glanced at his shabby, dirty clothes. “No!” she shouted. “Could I have a pint of ale? ” “No!” she shouted. “Could I at least use your privy?” “No!” she shouted again. The vagabond said, “Might I please…?” “What now?” the woman screeched, not allowing him to finish. “D’ye suppose,” he asked, “that I might have a word with George?”

***

URBAN MYTHS? OR INTRIGUING FACTS? – YOU DECIDE!

The liquid inside young coconuts can be used as a substitute for blood plasma.

No piece of paper can be folded in half more than seven (7) times.

Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.

You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television.

Oak trees do not produce acorns until they are fifty (50) years of age or older.

The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley’s gum.

The King of Hearts is the only king WITHOUT A MOUSTACHE!

American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one (1) olive from each salad served in first-class.

Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise. (Since Venus is normally associated with women, what does this tell you?)

Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.

Most dust particles in your house are made from DEAD SKIN!

The first owner of the Marlboro Company died of lung cancer. So did the first “Marlboro Man.”

Walt Disney was afraid OF MICE!

PEARLS MELT IN VINEGAR!

The three most valuable brand names on earth: Marlboro, Coca Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.

It is possible to lead a cow upstairs…but, not downstairs.

A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.

Dentists have recommended that a toothbrush be kept at least six (6) feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush. (I keep my toothbrush in the living room now!)

Turtles can breathe through their butts.

#469

Old Stuff – Part 3

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So I’m back to posting about sharp/pointy things.  This lovely little letter opener was a gift, about 45 years ago.

The wife’s next-oldest brother was always interested in cooking.  He worked at a large snack bar of a local department store through high school.  He earned a scholarship to a chefs’ college in Huntsville Ontario, and after graduating, spent three years training in the prestigious restaurant of a snooty department store in London, England.

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He’s a couple of months older than me.  We married while he was away.  During his sojourn in Old Blighty, The Who became famous, far more so there, than here in Canada.  While he was gone, the Canadian band, The Guess Who, became famous here, but were unknown over there.  When he returned, he experienced some confusion during his radio listening.

We got along well, and he eventually became the manager of the in-store restaurant of a local Hudson’s Bay store.  He met a new girlfriend, who soon became a fiancée.  He was living in a small basement apartment, and, as the wedding day approached, he located a flat suitable for them both.  We needed to move out of the lower half of a rented house, and, as luck would have it, both moves happened on the same end-of-month Saturday.

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I was at work on the Friday afternoon, when my phone rang.  It was him.  “You’re moving tomorrow?”  “Yes.”  “Do you have a moving truck reserved?”  “Yes.”  “Do you have an appliance dolly rented?”  “Yes.”  “Do you have guys lined up to help you?”  “Yes.”  All yes, two weeks ago!

“I just called U-Haul, and they don’t have any trucks available tomorrow.  I asked about a dolly, and they said they’re all committed.  I phoned a cousin and a couple of brothers-in-law, and they told me they’ll be helping you.  Do you think we could move two lots of furniture tomorrow?”  He’s still a great chef, and has become a much better organizer.

I picked up the rental truck when U-Haul opened at 8 AM, and drove to my old place.  With his added help, we stuffed our belongings in, drove to the new place and quickly unloaded it, at least in the proper rooms.

Leaving the wife and kids to deal with it as best they could, we all drove to his old apartment, loaded his things, drove to his new domicile and unloaded, where everybody stayed, to help him unpack.  I returned the truck to U-Haul before noon, all done in four hours.  Well, perhaps not done.  I returned to a home piled high with boxes, no-one to assist, an unhappy wife, and 24 bottles of a brand of beer I didn’t like.  Maybe I should have organized that better??!

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At my place, I used the dolly to move the refrigerator with ease – in, out, on the truck.  The bachelor had a tiny fridge, a foot shorter, and a foot narrower than ours.  I went to rock it back, to put the dolly under it – and it wouldn’t move.  Probably stuck to a waxed floor!  So I pushed again – and it moved a tiny bit.  I looked inside – empty! – closed the door and body-checked it.  Finally got the dolly slipped under it.

Where most fridges were aluminum and plastic, he had one that had been built in the late ‘40s, sheet steel, with copper and LEAD piping.  Half the size of ours, it weighed twice as much.  It took three of us young, healthy lads, straining and wheezing, to get it up the half-flight of stairs.

While we were loading things, I noticed that the professional chef had some high-quality knives in his kitchen.  We discussed them, and he asked what kinds of knives I liked.  I never suspected an ulterior motive, but a month later, when I served as an usher at his wedding, he presented me with this vaguely Scottish broadsword-looking tool, as a thank-you gift.

 

BTW, FYI, and a bunch of other meaningless, random letters, the wife has worked too hard over the years to become too good a cook to be able to claim that she poisoned me accidentally, so today, Dec. 2, 2014, we celebrate our 47th wedding anniversary.  I get an extra cup of Geritol, and a shot of Lipitor with dinner.  If she’s lucky, it’ll be like Remembrance Day, and she’ll get two minutes of silence.    😀

Flash Fiction #7

 

Stepping Down, Stepping Up

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He still couldn’t believe the amount of work and planning that had come together to allow him to study at this prestigious little English college.

His marks were quite good and he would graduate next spring and return to America to begin his career. He particularly liked the panoramic vista from the entry arch.

He had begun to think of it as his exit arch.  College staff had taken down a sign some wag had put up, reading, “Watch the first step.  It’s a doozy.”  How prophetic, his first step out of here, after his graduation, would indeed be life-altering.

 

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