Flash Fiction #281

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

IT’S MY CELLPHONE AND I’LL CALL IF I WANT TO
(To the tune of Lesley Gore’s It’s My Party)

It’s Chinese water torture!  Drip!  Drip!  Drip! Like being nibbled to death by ducks.

Once, my telephone line was for MY use – to make calls to my friends, and to receive from them.  Now, strangers on other continents want to tie it up for their monetary reasons.

If an election were held tomorrow, how would you vote?
We are a reliable company who would like to clean your ducts.
You owe the IRS $1500, payable in iTunes gift cards.

I think every scammer should have to pay 50¢ on my phone bill before they call me.  I got their number.

***

If you’d like to join the fun with the Friday Fictioneers, go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

’22 A To Z Challenge – C

 

 

I am green, but not with envy, when I can Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Christian Apologists sometimes ask, even if the claims were false, what is the problem with believing “If it’s not hurting anyone?”  A YouTuber recently held up a newspaper headline – “Woman scammed of $160,000 by mother/daughter fortune tellers who promised to rid her of demons.”  There is no ‘not hurting anyone!’

Anyone who believes one thing without good reason, has a mental predisposition to believe other false claims.  Her Christianity had convinced her that angels and demons existed, and she paid the price.  That brings me, highly incensed, to the word

Crucible

a container of metal or refractory material employed for heating substances to high temperatures.
a severe, searching test or trial.

Arthur Miller wrote a book titled “The Crucible.”  It was a rebuke against McCarthyism in the early 1950s, disguised as a novel about the Salem Witch Trials.  There was only one death attributed to McCarthyism, a wrongfully-accused Senator who committed suicide.  Scores of careers and lives were ruined.  In Salem, 24 people died.  19 innocent women were hanged.  4 more died from appalling jail conditions, and one man was tortured to death – all because of lies and fake news, gullibly believed.

Lightening up just a bit, I’m going to recycle a story about a friend who also reused  and recycled by melting down beverage cans, and broken lawn furniture and storm doors in small crucibles which he purchased online, to produce little aluminum hexagons that he used to pave a portion of his back yard, around the barbecue pit.

That whine which you may have heard when you arrived, was not a quad-copter drone, providing Neighborhood Watch security.  That was my mind desperately trying to grind out refills for my random facts posts.  We’ll see how well I do.  Y’all come back now, ya hear.   😎

Roadside Salvation

If Karma actually exists, I’m pretty sure that I’ve used up my lifetime supply of good fortune.

Once upon a time….

When I grew old enough to get my drivers’ licence, my father allowed me the use of the car on Saturday evenings.  I would drop my parents off at his gig as an emcee at a dance party just before 9 PM, and come back and pick them up, just after midnight.

Across the summer, some friends and I covered a wide range of the county.  On into September, the new car models had been released, and we wanted to have a look at them at a car show over in the Big City.  Perhaps Dad had heard of our exploits.  Maybe we weren’t leaving enough gas in the tank.  As I dropped them off, Dad said, “Don’t leave town.”  Right, Dad.

We’d had summer jobs, but now that we were back in school, money was a bit short.  We all kicked in 50¢ for gas, because, back then, $2 would fuel our little Vauxhall for most of a week.  Then it was a half-hour, high-speed run to the arena.  The rest of our pocket change got us into a show at 9:30, which was over at 10.  We had a quick chance to drool over the new models.

When they kicked us out, I still had two hours before I needed to be back, but there might be other things to do, so the trip back was as fast as the one over.  Suddenly, out in the country, a red warning light popped up on the dash, so I immediately pulled over and shut it down.

Ten miles from the city, fifteen miles from home, we were two and a half miles in either direction from two tiny crossroad villages – which were already shut down when we passed through earlier.
What’s the matter with it?  I dunno.
Are we stuck out here?  Probably.
What are we gonna do?  I dunno.

Just before panic began to set in, a pair of headlights appeared from behind.  We weren’t even smart enough to flag the driver down, but he pulled over anyway.  It was a 21-year-old gear-head, driving around to impress his 18-year-old girlfriend with the old car that he was restoring.  It didn’t look like much, but it purred when it pulled over.
What’s the matter? –  A red light came on the dash.
It’s probably the fan belt.  Do you have a flashlight?
No. –  I’ll get mine.

He popped the hood and shone the light in.  Sure enough, there was a decided lack of fan belt.  From driving a little English car 10 miles, at 85 MPH??!  Who knew?  He said that it was a good thing that I’d pulled over right away.  With the water pump and cooling system not working, I could have overheated the engine and damaged it.  It probably wouldn’t have mattered.  With the generator also not working, it was running off the battery.  A couple more miles with the headlights on, and that would have died too.  We were well and truly FUBARed.

He said, “I think I know a guy who can help.  Hop in.”  I snuggled in next to his girl, and we headed back to the city.  On the way, he told me that he worked as a junior mechanic for a guy who ran a small garage and Esso gas station.  In tourist country, and during tourist season, he pumped gas until 11 PM on Saturday nights.

It was ten after eleven when we arrived, and the lights were all off, but we could see the owner still finishing paperwork at his desk.  My hero thumped on the door, and got us let in.
Whaddya want??
Buddy here blew a fan belt, out on the highway, and needs another one.

He went to the reference sheet, selected the correct one and lifted it down.  Boss-man said that it cost about $6 – the equivalent of two hours labor.  He looked at me and said, “You guys got any money?”  We’re busted flatter than piss on a plate.  He must have had a running tab for the parts and pieces that he needed for his chariot.  “Put it on the list of stuff I owe you for, Mel.”

Soon we were heading back to the three friends I’d abandoned in the stygian darkness, and the car which had cooled to work on.  “You got any tools?  Duh!!  “We’ll use mine.”  He opened the trunk, and opened his toolbox.  Changing a fan belt on that car was so dead simple, even I could do it.  All we needed was an adjustable wrench.  Still, I held the flashlight while he did the work.  “Start it up.”  It started and ran well, with no warning light.  “Okay, you’re good to go.”

He was exactly the right person, at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place, with the right friends, the right tool set, and the right mindset.  We were too naïve to even think of offering to mail him some money – which we didn’t have.  Other than offering our sincere thanks, is there anything we can do for you?  “Just pay it forward.  If you see someone in trouble, and you can help, stop and offer it.”  I like to think that’s a philosophy that I’d have engaged in, even without his urging.  I didn’t ask him if he was a Good Christian.  I don’t even remember exchanging names, but I remember his kindness.

Of course, after all of this, I didn’t make it to the appointed pickup spot, at the appointed time.  When I finally arrived home, Mom was a little miffed that she’d had to walk half a mile, with her short little legs, in a tight skirt and heels, up a fairly steep hill.

After Dad demanded and got a complete explanation of what had happened, he was a bit more pragmatic.  “This is why I told you not to leave town.  Still, everything worked out nicely.  I guess it’s better that it happened to you tonight, than to me on my way to work on Monday morning.”

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End

ROM

A blog-friend has asked me to read a book.
Okay.  I’ve got lots of experience; in fact, I’m reading three of them, right now.

Read Our Manuscript

She wants me to read Her book, Kevin: Murder Beneath The Pines.  Our fellow-blogger, the lovely KayJai, has published her third book, and wants me to read and review it.  I am honored and willing, if somewhat under-qualified.

This will be the sixth such book that I have read.  The first was for an author in Washington.  I did a terrible job, because I thought I knew what I was doing – but didn’t.  I have read four for BrainRants, who made it a lot easier, and more logical.  You can’t put colored pencil marks on a digital copy, so he sent all of his in a Word file with numbered lines.

Don’t ever attempt to do your own proof-reading.  Get someone else – preferably three other people.  When you read your own work, you will see what your mind expects to see, and errors that might irk readers can sneak through.

This book is not yet Great Literature.  She is still on a learning curve.  For what it is, the third attempt by a busy lady, it is a delightful little murder mystery, suitable to be discussed at a book club meeting, or a knitting circle.  It begins with a Dilbert-like glimpse at office politics, but soon devolves into a look at darkness, not only in the deep, piney woods, but in the hearts and souls of men.  Small-town characters have to learn to deal with big-city-type crime, and its after-effects on the survivors.

If you are writing, or thinking of writing a book, and need/want a Beta-reader, I am usually available.  My forte is the words, and usage, and construction, and punctuation.  I am not so insightful or helpful with plot, story arc or character development, although I often have some opinions.

Well, enough about me.  Now it’s your turn – to provide emotional support by returning soon to read my next post.

Social Medium Humor

People say to me, Archon, Facebook is a good way to connect with old friends.
At my age, if I want to connect with old friends, I need a Ouija Board

***

My doctor gave me three days to give up drinking.  So I picked June the fifth, July 17, and October 9.
I enjoy a glass of wine each night for its health benefits.  The other ones are for my witty comebacks and smooth dance moves.  I’ve stopped drinking for good.  Now I only drink for evil.

***

Don’t bother walking a mile in my shoes; that would be boring.  Spend 30 seconds inside my head; that’ll freak you right out.

***

My wife left for work this morning, and almost immediately I got a call from my next door neighbour telling me to come around quick as she needed my help.

So, I knock on her door, and she opens the door in a robe and immediately drags me into the living room. She then drops the robe to reveal she is completely naked. As my mouth hangs open she says: “Everything you can see between my legs is yours”

Rubbing my hands in anticipation I drop to my knees and say: “Right, I’ll have your TV, Stereo, Coffee Table, sofa, fireplace…”

***

Heisenberg is pulled over by a Highway Patrolman

“Mister, do you know how fast you were going?” asks the cop.

“No,” replies Heisenberg.

“I clocked you at 87 miles per hour!” the cop exclaims.

Heisenberg sighs. “Great, now I don’t know where I am…”

***

A Canadian park ranger is giving some ramblers a warning about bears, “Brown bears are usually harmless. They avoid contact with humans so we suggest you attach small bells to your rucksacks and give the bears time to get out of your way. However, grizzly bears are extremely dangerous. If you see any grizzly-bear droppings leave the area immediately.”

“So how do we know if they’re grizzly bear droppings?” asks one of the ramblers.

“It’s easy,” replies the ranger. “They’re full of small bells.”

***

A 7 year old boy is sitting on a park bench, eating chocolate bars.
An old man next to him says, “Eating that much chocolate isn’t good for you.”
The boy replies, “My grandfather lived to 102.”
“Did he eat that much chocolate??”
“No! but he minded his own fucking business.”

***

A Hollywood producer calls his friend, another Hollywood producer, on the phone.

“Hey, how are you doing?” he asks.

“Well!” responds the friend. “I just sold a screenplay for $200,000. I also wrote a novel and got a $50,000 advance from the publisher. I have a new TV series airing next week, and everyone says it’s going to be a hit. I’m doing great! How are you?”

“OK,” says the first producer. “I’ll call you back when you’re alone.”

Just Say No To – Jail!

Poor Chastity Eugina Hopson was so worried about her possibly-tainted meth that she actually contacted the police about it. Officers at the Granite Shoals Police Department in Texas were trying to catch the county’s dumbest drug users when they posted a fake Facebook story about Ebola-tainted meth. The post said, “If you have recently purchased meth or heroin in Central Texas, please take it to the local police or sheriff department so it can be screened with a special device. DO NOT use it until it has been properly checked for possible Ebola contamination!””

Hopson, 29, saw the post and was understandably afraid that her meth could be… wait for it… dangerous. She responded to the department’s post on Facebook, and they gladly took her sample in for “testing.” Hobson was charged with possession of less than one gram of a controlled substance.

***

18 year old Ruben Zarate wanted to rob a muffler shop in Chicago and demanded money. Unfortunately it was mostly in the safe. Zarate decided that he would try again later. To save himself some time, he left his cell phone number with the store employees. That way, they could call him when the manager returned.

***

Police had an easy time tracking down Floridian Mack Yearwood, wanted in connection with an assault that took place over Labor Day weekend 2016, after he used his own wanted poster as his Facebook profile picture. One of Yearwood’s friends commented “Nice mug shot,” to which Yearwood responded “Thanks buddy!” Another friend expressed more concern: “Holy sh*t ding-dong, are you planning on getting this sh*t squared away? I’d like to see you again at least before they find you.”

Cops in Stuart, FL, north of Miami, used Yearwood’s FB to track him to his brother’s house, where he was arrested. According to the arresting officers, a bag of weed tumbled out of Yearwood’s pocket as he was cuffed, and he politely asked the cops not to charge him for possession.

Writing on the Stuart Police Department Facebook page, Cpl. Brian Bossio noted “Facebook is a great way to communicate and connect with old friends and family… If you are wanted by the police, it’s probably not a good idea to use the ‘Wanted of the Week’ poster of yourself as your profile pic.”

***

Demetrius Robinson, 28, wanted to rob a Golden Pantry store late one night, but he needed to pass the time as naturally as possible until he and the clerk were alone, so he decided to fill out a job application. Not a bad idea, except he left his real name on the application, along with his uncle’s phone number. After he robbed the store, it didn’t take long for police to track him down. He didn’t get the job.

***

Eoise Reaves stretched the limits of “to serve and protect” when she approached a policeman and asked him to help her get her money back for the poor-quality crack cocaine she’d just purchased. She showed him the crack, which she had tucked away in her mouth, and he placed her under arrest. How does one know when crack has gone bad?

***

Amateur criminal and professional dumb-dumb Christopher Kron made every mistake possible in robbery history when he tried to rob a restaurant after it closed one night. Not only did he trip the silent alarm, but when ADT called the restaurant after being notified, Kron answered the phone and gave them his REAL NAME. He returned to the restaurant the next day and was recognized by an employee who had seen the surveillance video. Kron was arrested on the spot.

***

A man in Stockholm, Sweden was a bit upset when the 13-year-old girl he’d been courting didn’t show up for an arranged sex meeting. When the teen stood him up, the man found her home phone number and called her father to demand a refund. Obviously things didn’t end well.

***

Two men arrested in Houston were accused of stealing an iPad and using it to take selfies that they unknowingly uploaded to the owner’s iCloud account. The men appeared in the photos displaying money they were also accused of taking from the victim.

Flash Fiction #241

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

SELF ACTUALIZATION

Life was a giant jigsaw puzzle to him.  He’d attempted to fit in, but every time he tried, it seemed that there was a protruding corner, or an unfilled gap.  Everyone else knew that the answer to 2 + 2, was 4.  For him, it might be ‘Blue,’ or ‘Yesterday.’  This had been going on forever.

He’d finally learned to accept himself for who he was, and not struggle to be acceptable to everyone else.  His list of friends was short, but they were all real.  They stood together, by standing apart.  He liked being a shepherd, not a sheep.

***

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

Smitty’s Loose Change #13

I just won the jackpot – and I don’t even gamble.

I notice things.  I find money, because I look where people will lose money.  The $100 bill that I picked up from a grocery store checkout line floor, had been stepped on by the two customers in front of me.  I check the overflow chutes of the coin-counting machines found in many grocery stores.  I found 40 pennies in one, before Canada stopped minting them.  I still find the occasional few, because the machines have been set to reject them.

I recently left my neighborhood store, and glanced at the chute as I passed.  There were coins in it.  Not just a couple of pennies, or a bent dime, or a foreign coin that I could add to my collection.  The chute was full.  I bent over to see what they were…. and they were Loonies and Toonies – Canada’s, one and two dollar coins.

I quickly looked around, to see if there was someone cashing in a machine receipt – someone who would yell, “Get away from there!  That’s my money!”  No-one was paying me the least attention.  I took a large handful and dumped it into my shirt packet – and another large handful – and another large handful.  I scraped the last of it together and poured it into my pocket, affecting an off-the-shoulder look as I scuttled out.

I hoped to beat my $100 dollar record.  When I got home, I sorted it out.  21 Toonies = $42, 33 Loonies = $33, and 4 quarters, totaling $76.  Not a bad reward for just paying attention.  The next day, I only found two dimes.

***

Newspaper article headline
Should Kitchener aim to end all traffic injuries?

Nah!  Let’s maintain the ‘Run Em Down’ protocol we’ve always had!

Duh.  While that headline may seem rather silly, what the article was (delicately) asking, was, how much tax revenue can we afford to spend, for how much reduction in injuries.

***

How can you tell when a Christian Apologist blogger is lying?
That’s a trick question.  They’re always lying!
The liars are the majority, who won’t enable comments.  They make strawman claim after special pleading claim, but won’t engage in debate, or allow Atheists to offer counter-arguments.

The ones who are even worse than this, are the ones who edit out comments they don’t like.  I found a Christian trivia post which asked, “Who did Paul say should not be allowed to continue to Cyrene, because he had left the group?”

Knowing what would happen, I gave two answers.  Howard Stern?  Ray Comfort, because he went out for more bananas?  (If you don’t get the Ray Comfort joke, Google it.)  Sure enough, when I returned the next day, I had been excised.

***

I heard a TV weather forecast during the cold snap around Christmas.  The announcer warned not to travel to Canada’s Prairie Provinces, because the temperatures could go down to Negative 35.  I’ve never heard that expression used before.  It sounds like we owe somebody some weather.  Technically, it’s correct.  Plus and Minus are mathematical terms which indicate actions.  Five, minus (take away) three, equals two.  Have any of you ever heard a weather forecast which included the term “negative” temperatures.  My new online friend from Kenya is exempted.

***

After claiming victory over an infestation of rats, Oh Rats!, they came back for a second round.  I tried to turn the central air-conditioner on, and found that they had chewed their way in through the tiny hole that carries the tubes to the outdoor unit…. and the control wire.  😯  😦  After that repair, I sprayed the hole full of expanding, hardening plastic foam.

I had replaced the flexible dryer hose with another plastic one, because the path the tube takes from the machine to the outside vent is quite twisty, and complex.  To prevent another attack from that direction, I hired Dryer Vent Wizard to install solid, aluminum tubing.

The installation tech was, indeed, a wizard.  When he moved the dryer, leaving a hole in the floor, to the basement, Mica, my Fred Astaire-dancer, Bengal cat showed up to supervise.  Workers like this now all take pictures with their smart-phones, as proof of work done.  We didn’t even know that Mica was there.  He leaned up, took a photo, showed it to us when he finished, and sent it to us by email.

I Can’t Argue With That

Argument

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE

Not by arguing with them, and telling them that they are wrong!

Win friends

This is what one of the amateur Christian Apologists recently discovered.  (I’d like to say that they are all amateurs, but several of these men – they’re all testosterone-driven men – make outrageous amounts of money with their own televangelism programs and paid lecture/debate tours.)

He found that, like Red State/Blue State, modern American society has become quite polarized, two solitudes, shouting past each other.  Despite all the heat and light and words in the air, Atheists weren’t listening to/believing what Christian Apologists had to say, and vice versa.

He had taken a Theater Arts course in University (How remunerative), and he wanted to make it useful in Christian/Atheist debates.  His idea was to present the Christian position like a one-act stage play, to lead the Atheists through a mental image of what he considered truth to be.

Why not??!  That’s probably how he arrived at his faith.  Each denomination – each individual church – puts on a musical-comedy play for the faithful, with strange, outdated, but impressive costumes, upbeat, inspirational music, painted scenes, set decoration, props, special lighting, mystical chants, even some audience participation.  It hooked him.  Why wouldn’t it hook a non-believer?

He gave detailed instruction to others, how to win debates with the dreaded Atheists.  They were to put in great amounts of research – not in the tenets of Christianity or the Bible – but in the arguments and objections of the evil, heathen Atheists, the better to rebut their opinions and claims.

In my Whichness Of The Why post, I had uncharitable things to say about philosophers, debates, and structured arguments.  It is possible to twist words and presentations, and win the debate….yet still be wrong.  😳

Like many other Apologists – and sadly, many Atheist arguers as well – he is too caught up in massaging his ego by looking intelligent and winning the BIG ARGUMENT, to see the small solution.  They both often can’t see the forest for the hedge maze in front of them.

Mr. Apologist, want to validate your position??  It’s easy!  It boils down to two words – PROVE GOD!  Don’t prove that God is possible.  Don’t prove that He is the most likely answer.  Don’t prove that the Universe needed a cause, and God is it – because you can’t.  Don’t prove that you believe He exists, or that you want/need for Him to exist, or that a couple of billion others (kinda) agree with you.  Don’t wave your hands and point at rainbows and trees and claim that those prove that He exists.  They don’t!

I just rewatched (third time) a 7 minute call to The Atheist Experience.  It didn’t make sense the first two times, and it didn’t make any sense the third.  The young lout began by demanding that the two ladies state if they believed a couple of rather vague definitions.

He didn’t show God.  His aim didn’t even seem to be to disprove the Atheists’ position.  Assigning the women specific viewpoints became important, as he used esoteric words, complex verbiage, and confusing philosophy, simply to refute these views, and show how much smarter he was than two amateur Atheists, and win the argument .

Don’t win the argument!  Prevent the argument.  Presenting it like some high-school play just doesn’t convince the unconvinced.  Unless and until you can actually show proof of God, you and 47 other angels are just dancing on the point of that theosophical pin.  All you are getting are sore feet, and proving that an Atheist’s opinion is as valid as yours.

Rest your feet, and use your cursor to dance back over here in a couple of days, to see what I have to say after I’ve cooled off a bit.  CU  😀

The Business Of One Liners

meetings

If you see me talking to myself, just keep moving….
….I’m self-employed, and we’re having a staff meeting.

I think my wife is showing the first signs of Alzheimer’s….
….She says she can’t remember what she ever saw in me.

What do lazy dogs chase?….
….Parked cars.

I’ve been saying “Mucho” to all my Mexican friends….
….It means a lot to them

They laughed when I told them that one day I would discover the secret of invisibility….
….If only they could see me now

The road to inner peace begins with three words….
….NOT MY PROBLEM

How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?….
….None!   That’s a hardware issue

Letting the cat out of the bag….
….is a lot easier than putting it back in

Cat puns freak meowt….
….Seriously, I’m not kitten.

What is the cat wizard’s name?….
….Hairy Pawter

What does a cat scientist study?….
….String theory

A man walks into a bar….
….and says, “Ouch!”

A horse walks into a bar….
….and several patrons leave, realizing the potential danger.

If I had a dollar for every joke I’ve told wrong….
….To get to the other side.

I was going to tell a joke about time travel….
….but you didn’t like it

Cliff-hangers are so frustrating….
….They just

They tried to invent a #1 pencil….
….but it was too hard

I will not sleep….
….until I find a cure for my insomnia.

Every time you make a typo….
….the errorists win.

Lost cat….
….return dead or alive to Erwin Schrodinger

Butt weight….
….I went back on my diet today

I called the tinnitus hotline today….
….It didn’t stop ringing

One-armed butlers….
….they can take it, but they can’t dish it out

A termite walks into a bar….
….and says Where’s the bar tender?

I went to an Overthinkers Anonymous meeting….
….Seriously though, why only 12 steps?