Flash Fiction #232

dolphin

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

JUMPING FOR JOY

They’d done it!  They’d outlasted and outlived COVID19.   The world was back to as normal as it would get.

At last the borders were open.  They could finally re-visit Charleston.  They’d been three previous times, each visit finding something interesting in Old Town – The Market, haunted houses, Churches, and toured a submarine and an aircraft carrier, over at Patriots Point.  Twice they’d taken the boat to Fort Sumter.

Living near the Great Lakes, they were used to expanses of open water, but a lake trout breaking the surface did not compare to the joy of watching dolphins chasing the tour-boat.

***

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-badge-web

They Don’t Speak English

Canadian Flag

One winter day at the JFK airport in New York, a couple waiting for their flight home to Texas noticed a strange pair of folks all bundled up in parkas, fur hats, heavy gloves and boots.

The Texan Lady, musing over where these strangely dressed people could be from, troubled her husband to the point he responded, ”I have no idea…why don’t you go ask them.”

We all know how curiosity can get the better of someone.

Boldly, she strolled up to the Odd Couple, and with all the charm of Texas, introduced herself:

“Hi, Where ya-all from?”

The heavily clad woman responded: “Saskatoon Saskatchewan.”

Smiling, the Texan replied: “That’s nice.”

As she returned to her husband, he asked: “Well, where they from?”

“Don’t know” she replied, “They don’t speak English.”

Saskatoon Saskatchewan is a city in Canada, and yes, the majority of Canadians speak English.

***

This Man’s Wife Wouldn’t Let Him Go With His Friends, So He Does This.

Four guys have been going on the same fishing trip for many years.

A few days before the group’s annual departure date, John’s wife puts her foot down and tells him he isn’t going. John’s fishing buddies are very upset that he can’t go, but what can they do?

Two days later the three get to the camping site to find John sitting there with his tent set up, firewood gathered, and dinner cooking on the fire, drinking a cold beer.

“Heck John, how long you been here, and how did you talk your missus into letting you go?”

“Well, I’ve been here since last night. Yesterday evening, I was sitting in my recliner when my wife came up behind me, put her hands over my eyes, and asked, ‘Guess who?” I pulled her hands off, and there she was, wearing a nightie.

She took my hand and pulled me into the bedroom, where she’d lit candles and put rose petals all over the place. Well, she’s been reading 50 Shades of Grey.

On the bed she had handcuffs, and ropes! She told me to tie her up and cuff her to the bed, so I did.

And then she said, ‘Do whatever you want.

So, boys, here I am!

***

Orange Juice

A man comes home early from his job at the Orange Juice Factory.  “What’s wrong?” his wife asks.  “Why are you home so early?”  The man shakes his head and looks sad.  “I got canned this morning,” he admits.  His wife asks “Why?”  The husband shrugs and says.  “I just couldn’t concentrate.”

Pickle Jar

A man comes home early from his job at the pickle factory. “What’s wrong?” his wife asks. “Why are you home so early?” The man shakes his head and looks sad. “I did something stupid at work and got fired. I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. I stuck my penis in the pickle slicer.” “Oh my God, let me see it.” She examines it closely, but can find no injury or damage. “What happened to the pickle slicer?” “Oh, she got fired too.”

***

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl to marry him. She said no. The guy lived happily ever after.

Novel Shipwrecks

Treasure Island

I read a trivia blog about shipwreck novels, and left a comment about Great Lakes shipwrecks, including Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and one that was found in the sand of my home town’s beach. When the writer asked for details, I emailed him this double-barreled story.

65 years ago, there were a couple of boards which protruded from the sand, at one spot on our lovely beach. We kids tried to pull them out, but they were obviously attached to something heavy. Eventually, they disappeared – storm damage? Town works crew cut them for tourist safety?

Lighthouse

About twenty years ago, a couple of residents became interested in history and restoration. The abandoned lighthouse-keeper’s house on the offshore island was repaired, and little boat tours began. Someone must have remembered the boards on the beach. A group of archeologists from the University of Toronto arranged a dig. They had to design and build a coffer-dam to keep the waves out as they dug up that section of beach.

Sure that they had something physical, they began searching the written records. Soon they found the story. Once upon a time, my home-town was a bustling Lake Port. Prairie grain for bakeries, iron ore for steel mills and lumber for construction were unloaded and shipped by train below Niagara Falls.

The wreck on our beach turned out to be an 87 foot sailboat freighter. “She” was the ‘Sir Robert McAllister,’ making what might have been the last trip of the fall, before the lake iced up in 1887. Unloaded, they set sail ahead of an autumn storm. Heading back north, they barely got outside the safe harbor when the winds raged. Unloaded, top-heavy, empty and bobbing like a cork, she couldn’t maneuver, and was driven onto the beach.

No hands were lost, but the storm pounded her to flinders. Our Lake is not an ocean, but I remember body-surfing 6 and 8-foot storm waves. Little was left above the keel. She held no cargo, and what was left wasn’t worth salvaging. She was just left to rot, and subsequent storms piled sand over her.

The other local shipwreck that I wanted to tell you about – wasn’t – quite. There used to be a prosperous fishing trade out of our river harbor, until they overfished themselves out of business. Each day, six days a week, 4 forty-foot, enclosed, steel fishing boats would go out a couple of miles.

One spring, the lake ice had broken up and had moved offshore, drifting slowly down the middle of the lake, toward Detroit. Finally, two miles of ice on the river broke up, and thundered out to join it. One fish boat owner, whose craft and crew of three had been unemployed for almost 4 months, got the boat winched back into the water, with plans to go out the next day.

The weather was clear, if cold, and away they went. They set nets, waited for fish migration, and pulled the nets back in. While all this was happening, a spring gale blew up, pushing all that ice back in past them from the west. By the time they headed for home, it had piled up against the shore in a wall 15/20 feet high, a mile out from the river harbor.

As they looked for a solution, more ice piled up behind them, wedging them against the barrier, ice floes 4 – 5 – 6 feet thick, as big as the boat. Soon, the increasing pressure tilted them, to almost 45 degrees. Fearing that the boat would be crushed or capsized, they decided to unship the lifeboat, and push it like a sled across the valleys of the ice-field.

About halfway to shore, the youngest crew-member, a 19-year-old nicknamed Zip, lost his footing – and his hold on the lifeboat rail – and plunged through a small gap into the freezing water. Two days later, when the weather had cleared, and the ice had moved offshore again, the owner used a motorboat to chase his fish boat two miles out, and 8 miles south, with a cargo of frozen fish. It was slightly dinged and scraped, but the rudder and propeller weren’t damaged.

Zip’s body was found a couple of weeks later. The ship didn’t even sink, but still cost a crewman’s life. The town has a small park, where the river meets the lake. They added a memorial to all those lost to the lake, and specifically, Zip.

***

Somehow, I conflated the stories of the lumber freighter that I researched for an earlier post about the decline and fall of my home-town as a Lake Port and the change from a transportation-driven economy to a manufacturing-based one, with a previous War Of 1812 warship-turned freighter, named H.M.S. General Hunter. The light-as-a-cork lumber boat was repaired and refloated. The repurposed warship, still heavy with cannon, got buried. Click above to read her story.

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – M

McMuffin

I want to talk about

McGuffins.

They’re not those breakfast sandwich things that you get at the Golden Arches.

McGuffin = MacGuffin = Maguffin

Noun; an object or event in a book or a film which serves as the impetus for the plot

Word Origin for McGuffin

C20: coined (c. 1935) by Sir Alfred Hatchplot Hitchcock

Most stories, whether books or movies, have a beginning, middle, and end. Some stories though, have lots of action, and a great climax, but need a boost to get underway.

Dashiell Hammet’s novel, The Maltese Falcon was a great novel of the 20th century. There was lots of action – treachery, deceit, lies, double crosses, assaults, murders, and back-stabbing – literal and figurative. When the exciting ride finally came to a stop, the little sculpture that everyone was fighting and scheming about, was just a small, ugly, statue of a bird, just an excuse for all that excitement.

At the last Star Trek movie that I went to – Star Trek Into Darkness – for the first half hour, I fidgeted and twitched in my seat. Is this thing never going to get underway? I even considered walking out – and I NEVER walk out of a movie, especially a Star Trek.

What should have been served, hot off the griddle, as the McGuffin, the impetus, to catch and hold the viewers’ attention, was dropped cold, an hour and a half later, as a by-then, un-suspenseful and un-dramatic ‘Great Reveal,’ a story of brotherly betrayal, abandonment and revenge.

So remember, those of you who want to write – even if it’s just blog-posts. If you think that your story needs a little something to draw readers’ attention, get that McGuffin out early. Craft a catchy title, and compose an interest-grabbing opening line. Once you’ve got ‘em hooked, you can reel ‘em in.

I’d be reel real happy if you stopped back in a couple of days, for another instalment of Do-It-Yourself Philosophy. Phil will be reel happy too. 😉

Reel

Three – Two – One-liners

Comedy

When you’re down by the sea
and an eel bites your knee….
….that’s a moray

Life without music….
….would b Flat

Decaf coffee is depresso

Reading while sunbathing….
….makes you, well, red

I had a Wookie steak last night….
….It was a little Chewy

Don’t let anyone call you average….
….That’s just mean

Kleptomaniacs always take things….
….literally

Huge fight at the local seafood diner….
….battered fish everywhere

Last week my doctor told me that I was going deaf….
….I haven’t heard from him since

Try resistance training….
….Refuse to go to the gym.

Whenever I feel blue….
….I start breathing again

I named my IPod Titanic….
….It’s synching now

The four seasons are all different….
….Summer warmer than others

A book hit my head….
….and I’ve only my shelf to blame

Bad puns….
….That’s how eye roll

Looking back….
….I really hurt my neck

If you are in it up to your ears….
….keep your mouth shut

Police toilet stolen!….
….Cops have nothing to go on.

Shenanigans….
….because life is more fun when you’re up to something

Can’t get up to vote?….
….You may have electile dysfunction

Do people in Australia….
….call the rest of the world ‘Up Over?’

I can’t believe it’s been a year…
….since I didn’t become a better person

I don’t have a Fit-Bit….
….but I do have some fat bits

Awed…. Odd Thoughts

Confused Emoji

I became a professional fisherman, but discovered I couldn’t live on my net income. I went to work in a meat processing factory, but I couldn’t cut it. So then I got a job at a gym…but they said I wasn’t working out!

***

If it’s any good….they’ll stop making it.

Talk is cheap….until you hire a lawyer

***

How many optimists does it take to screw in a
light bulb?

None, they’re convinced that the power will
come back on soon.

***

How many Jehovah’s Witnesses does it take to change a light bulb?
Three! One screws it in, and the other two knock on your door to ask you if you’ve seen the light.

A Jehovah’s Witness came to my door the other day and said, “Can I ask you about God?”
I said, “Sure, what do you want to know?”

***

In what year did Christmas and New Year’s fall
in the same year?

They fall in the same year every year, New
Year’s Day just arrives very early in the year
and Christmas arrives very late in the same year.

***

Murphy’s First Law of Computing

Whatever happens, behave as though you meant it
to happen.

Murphy’s Second Law of Computing:

When you get to the point where you really
understand your software, it’s probably obsolete.

***

Music was much better when ugly people were allowed to make it.

***

A weasel walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Wow! I’ve never served a weasel before. What will you have?”

“Pop” goes the weasel.

***

I picked up a hitch-hiker recently. He said, “Thanks, but how do you know I’m not a serial killer though?”
I replied, “The chances of two serial killers being in the same car at the same time are astronomical.”

***

These days your memory might be better if you use marijuana, but don’t play football.

***

I saw a bumper sticker today. It said, “If you can read this, I’ll slam on my brakes and sue you.”

***

 

Flash Fiction #183

Retirement Village

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

RETIREMENT VILLAGE

Wuz anybody famous ever born here? Y’alls gotta be jokin’! We wuz gonna have Thoreau Theodore, thuh weather-forecastin’ prairie-dog, but thuh little varmint wouldn’t come outta hiz hole. Wouldn’t matter if’n he seen hiz shadow or not, we’d jest git ‘nother six weeks of whatever’s outside.

Some Eastern dude retired here. Place useta be called Nowheresville – motto, “Civilization’s Thataway ->”. Folks renamed the town after him. Think he wrote a book – sumpin’ about fishin’ at some pond, ah think. Doan know why ennybuddy with a pond ta fish in, would come to a place like this, drier than a popcorn fart.

***

Click to hear ‘Wild Horses,’ Canadian Gino Vanelli singing about parts of the US where the population density is so low, that you can be, “a hundred miles out of town.”

***

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

Dagwood And…. Whatzername

Blondie

Two blondes are in Heaven….
One blonde says to the other, “How did you die?”  ”I froze to death.” says the second.  ”That’s awful” says the first blonde. “How does it feel to freeze to death?” ”It’s very uncomfortable at first,” says the second blonde. “You get the shakes, and you get pains in all your fingers and toes. But eventually, it’s a very calm way to go. You get numb and you kind of drift off, as if you’re sleeping.”  ”How about you, how did you die?” asked the second blonde.

”I had a heart attack,” says the first blonde. “You see, I knew my husband was cheating on me, so one day I showed up at home unexpectedly. I ran up to the bedroom, and found him alone watching TV. I ran to the basement, but no one was hiding there. I ran to the second floor, but no one was hiding there either. I ran as fast as I could to the attic, and just as I got there, I had a massive heart attack and died.
The second blonde shakes her head. “What a pity … if only you had looked in the freezer, we’d both still be alive.”

***

Two blondes are filling up at a gas station and the first blonde says to the second, “I bet these awful fuel prices are going to go even higher.”

The second blonde replies, “Won’t affect me, I always put in just $10 worth.”
***

The executive was interviewing a young blonde for a position in his company. He wanted to find out something about her personality so he asked, “If you could have a conversation with any person, living or dead, who would that be?”

The blonde quickly responded, “The living one.”

***

There was a competition between a team of blondes and a team of brunettes to see who could catch the most fish ice fishing.

Once the contest started, it was clear that the brunettes were going to win — they kept pulling out fish after fish.

Soon, the blondes got worried and sent over one of their team to see what the brunettes were doing differently.

A few minutes later, the blonde comes running back.

“A hole! You need to put a hole in the ice!”

***

A blonde was at her divorce lawyer’s.  Almost screaming, she was insisting, “He’s not going to get that!  I’m keeping this!  He’s going to have to pay for that!  He’ll have to support me for this!”

Taken aback, the lawyer asks if she has a grudge for her husband.

She responds, “We don’t even have a car-port.”

😯

’18 A To Z Challenge – L

 

Challenge '18letter-l

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything worth doing is….worth overdoing.
If you’re like the wife and I, when you reach our age, you’ll have too much of everything – except money.

The wife’s adopted totem is the

LADYBUG

which is why she used to blog under the pseudonym, GranmaLadybug.

We (she) have ladybugs of all sorts and sizes.  On the metallic whiteboard in the kitchen, where we write shopping lists and notes, she has 12 little-fingernail size magnetic ladybugs, along with a 1½ inch plastic one.  On the side of the filing cabinet in the computer room, there are 6 thumb-nail sized magnets.

The little timer in the laundry room is a 2-inch ladybug.  We have a 2-inch fabric one that is supposed to be a pin-cushion, but sits on a display shelf with other curios.  There’s a 3 inch wooden one, stuck to the fridge, and a 4 inch stained glass one on the wall above the computer.

I found a 3 inch plastic child’s toy one in a mall parking lot.  When you squeeze it, it lights up, and we hung a 4 inch framed cross-stitch version beside the kitchen whiteboard.  She has three sets of ladybug earrings, and a ladybug pendant necklace, some ladybug stickers, and a ladybug stamp that she adds to birthday cards and personal notes.

The grandson and fiancée bought her a wooden step-stool with painted ladybugs all over it.  She set up my new computer so that I click on an icon labeled Archon to fire it up, but she’s not fooling me.  There’s a ladybug above my name.  There used to be a 6 inch ladybug whirligig in the garden, but after years of exposure to plastic-destroying ultra-violet radiation, the madly spinning wings have disintegrated.

Aside from being cute, ladybugs are useful.  They eat things like aphids, which suck the sap out of the gardener-wife’s pretty flowers.  Until recently, all local ladybugs were a good solid red color.  Like the Asian zebra mussels which now infest the Great Lakes, and the Asian carp in the Chicago River, that we’re trying to keep out of the Great Lakes, we now have Asian ladybugs.  They’re more Crayola crayon orange.  If one should happen to land on you, they can give a nasty little bite.

When President Kennedy was assassinated, Texan VP, Lyndon Johnson took over, and we found that his wife was known as ‘Ladybird.’  I thought nothing of that cute name, but recently found that, especially in the Southern United States, it means the same as ‘Ladybug.’  In the heat of the South, they must grow them big, to call them ‘birds.’

I recently took an online IQ test.  I only scored 133, disappointingly below the 140 level needed to get me into Mensa.  Ahhh….I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group who would accept me as a member.  One of the ‘questions’ was a picture with the black outline of a Victorian woman in a bustled dress with a parasol.  Beside it was the black outline of a crow, or raven.  This represented….?  A: mammal, B: reptile, C: bird, D: insect.  Hmmm…a lady, and a bird.  I picked D: insect, because I speak a little Redneck.

I hope I haven’t bugged you with my Babylon babbling.  I hope to see you here again, soon.  😀

’18 A To Z Challenge – Flood

Challenge '18

Letter F

Unless the Mayan calendar apocalypse comes to pass, my little home town, situated where a river meets a lake, will never have a flood.

Lake Huron’s levels are closely monitored and controlled by the St. Lawrence Seaway commission, the geography is stable, and it would take something larger than a falling Chinese Space Station, to cause a tsunami.  The land quickly rises, so that most of the town is 50 feet above water level.  My birthplace house is more like 70’.

The closest thing to a flood is the spring ice-breakup in the river.  It starts 3 miles upstream, below the little rapids.  The thin ice breaks, pushing downstream against the thicker and thicker layers, partly impeding the water flow, until finally it lets loose.  Suddenly, thousands of tons of ice blocks, 2 – 3 – 4-feet thick, and as big as buses, thunder down the canyon, scour the harbor docks, and spew into the lake.

I’m told that it is an awe-inspiring sight and sound, but silly little things like education and employment have never allowed me to be present.  In late fall, the docks are cleared.  Ladders for swimmers and boaters are unbolted.  Fishing boats are winched onto the concrete, and placed well up on the banks.  After the cascade, ice that’s in the way is bulldozed back into the water.  Blocks that aren’t, are still melting beside the little park, well into June.

***

When we made our pitifully few visits to the lower United States for vacations, we were usually fixed on getting to our destination as soon as possible, and took the Interstates.  Humming along steadily for hours, at 110Kmh/70MPH, the extra distances were made up for by not having to follow some farm tractor, or stop at every stop sign and red light in every goober little town.

The time we took our On Top Of The World trip, we decided that we had the time, not to go 100 miles from Buffalo to Erie, PA, to get on I-79.  Instead, we took State highways down and back, from Buffalo, through Pennsylvania.  The entertainment and education justified the decision.

We passed through Du Bois, PA, named after W.E.B. Du Bois, a 19th century Negro civil-rights pioneer.  Both names are pronounced ‘due–boys’, rather than the French ‘due-bwah.’

We found a small PA town that clings to a mountainside so steep, that the northbound lane of the highway/main street, is 8 feet above the southbound lane, with a guardrail to prevent cars from falling in.  The industry in another Pennsylvania town was a Weyerhaeuser paper mill.  We could smell that one 3 miles before we got there, and 3 miles after we left, and rolled the windows down to clear the stench.

Rolling into one town we were faced with 6 or 7 truck-docks, at the back of a large plant.  Each dock seemed to be a different color, red, green, orange blue, purple.  When we got closer we found that it was a Pittsburgh Glass plant, and what we’d seen was hundreds of pounds of broken bottles and other glass, all sorted by color, which had fallen below the docks as it was being brought back in for melting and reuse.

As we were coming back north, we reached a spot where a secondary road met the highway at a T-intersection to our left.  Suddenly, in the middle of Nowhere PA, miles from any town or city, I was faced with the first roundabout I’d ever seen.

Like the 1942 song That Old Black Magic says, “Down and down I go.  Round and round I go.”  Round and round the roundabout I went, missing the northbound, uphill highway.  Instead, I continued ‘round, and exited onto the westbound, downhill road.

Six miles this steep, two-lane blacktop weaved its way down and down, with not a sign of a turnoff, another side-road, or even a farmer’s lane, to turn into to turn around.

Finally, after losing hundreds of feet of altitude, we reached a sign that said, “Welcome To Johnstown PA”.  Johnstown??  Like in the Johnstown flood??  Sure enough, there was the Conemaugh River, before we started our long trek back uphill.

In 1851 a dam was built 14 miles upstream, to provide water for area industries, and for a barge-canal system.  Later, trains replaced barges, so the dam was sold to a railway company.  The Railway Company wasn’t in the ‘dam’ business, so they didn’t maintain it, even removing and selling piping that could lower water levels behind it.

In 1889, a ‘Century Storm’ dumped 12 inches of rain in the mountain valley in two days.  The dam finally failed, and the flood roared through several small towns and Johnstown.  It caused $17 million 1889 dollars worth of damage, almost $500 million today, and killed over 2200 people.

I quietly drove back up to the highway and home, to compose this happy tale for you.  Stop back again later, when we visit The Rockies and talk about avalanches.  😯