’18 A To Z Challenge – K

 

Challenge '18Letter K

 

 

 

 

 

KIDNAPPED
BY Robert Louis Scribbledorffer

They did everything absolutely wrong!  If criminals were smart enough to get a real job, they wouldn’t be criminals, would they?

My wife and I were kidnapped, for the big ransom that my ‘rich’ father would pay.  One of them lived to regret it.  I don’t.  Dad’s money is all tied up in investments.  With the economic downturn, he’s barely making the mortgage payments on his ‘mansion.’  Besides, even though I’m an only child, I’m still not Dad’s favorite son.  They didn’t research that very well.

They got into the house somehow.  The first we knew of it was when one of them flicked the bedroom lights on at 3AM.  We woke to two scruffy oafs in balaclavas, waving guns at us, telling us to get out of bed.  They secured our hands behind us with nylon zip-ties, and prodded us in bare feet and pyjamas, outside into the back of their van.

The ‘leader’ warned us not to yell, or he’d shoot us.  It wasn’t till I really woke up that I realized that a dead hostage gathers no ransom, but they might have shot my wife, and I don’t know whether the neighbors would have roused, that late at night.

They didn’t blindfold us.  I’d seen their van, though not the licence.  I watched through the windows as we drove, at every street and every turn.  I saw their house when we arrived.  I could find this place in my sleep.  That worried me.  Did they intend to kill us?

They herded us into a back bedroom, and made us sit on the bed while they added zip-ties around our ankles.  Then they turned to walk out.  I yelled, “Hey, you can’t just leave us like this.  I have to piss!”  The Boss said, “Tough, hold it.”  Speaking of pissed – if I wasn’t before, I was then.

It is said, that a dog can strain against a leather leash, until it rots – or snap it with the first lunge.  I had no room for lunges, but I could certainly strain hard.  As soon as they left, I looked around the room.  On the far wall was a mirrored aluminum dressing table with squared-edged legs.  I rolled/crawled over to it, and put my back against it, and started rubbing the nylon wrist tie against the corner.

By the time baddy #2 came back in, the next morning, the wife and I were both a sodden mess.  He tipped half a bottle of water into each of us, and turned to leave.  Without much hope of it, I asked, “What about some food?”  He replied, “You better hope your Father brings some pizza, when he drops off our money.”

He came back with some more water later that afternoon, and again the next morning.  We, and the bedroom, got wetter and smellier, how demeaning.  Between the visits, it was a constant rub, scrape, rub, scrape.  Finally, on the second afternoon, just before I thought he might come in for our water break, the zip-tie parted.

I found a nail-clipper, and managed to get the tie at my ankles off.  That was about the best thing in the bedroom for a weapon, unless I wanted to hit him with a pillow.  I quickly rubbed full circulation back into my hands and feet, and moved to check the door – unlocked – well, of course, this is just someone’s house.

I risked a cautious look.  The bedroom opened into the kitchen, and there was no-one in sight.  I quickly eased out.  All kitchen knives must be in drawers, and I couldn’t risk making a noise, rummaging around, so I grabbed a heavy frying pan off the stove.

I peeked around the corner, into the living room.  The apprentice dummy was standing, looking out the little window beside the door.  I quietly padded across the rug behind him, quickly, before he smelled me.  Just as I raised the fry pan to knock him unconscious, he opened the door.

There, just outside, was ‘The Brains’ of the pair, coming back with a bag of groceries.  In desperation, I quickly swung.  Later, the police pathologist said that, instead of catching him with the flat of the pan behind the ear, I caught him in the first cervical vertebra, with the edge.  It crushed the bone and severed his spinal cord.  He died instantly, and dropped like a rock.

Still not too firm on my recently-shackled feet, he took me down with him.  Boss-man gaped, then dropped the food, leapt forward, and began clawing at his kidney area, I assumed, to draw his gun.  As I fell, I did the only thing I could.  On the way down, I backhanded him in the knee with the frying pan….  And another bad guy dropped like a rock – this one screaming until his face smacked into the floor, and he lost his gun.

They were armed.  I acted in self-defence.  Two minor, known-to-police hoodlums with guns, out of circulation, a dozen minor crimes solved, no-one said a word about the fact that one of them was dead.  Instead, I got a Civic Medal of Bravery, a television interview, and a book deal.

I was told that the ringleader will walk – not out of jail – but out of the prison hospital ward, once he gets a new knee and kneecap to replace the one I smashed.  Dad claimed that he tried to get the $2 million, but, you know….the markets – the banks.  Gee, thanx Dad.

We got showers and clean clothes at the police station where we made our statements and ate Whoppers and fries, a little book royalty to augment income, a new respect from neighbors and coworkers, and best of all, NO PTSD.  Guns and all, it was hard to take ‘Boris and Natasha’ seriously.  What an adventure!  Let’s not do it again.   😯

 

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A To Z Challenge – X

april-challenge

I’m going to dip into the healing waters of medical treatment, and for the letter

Letter X

I’m going to talk about Xrays.

X-Ray

Once upon a time, Doctor Kildare, or Marcus Welby MD would hold your TV hand and solve your medical problems with a reassuring smile. More recently, Dr. House proved that a good doctor could achieve the most baffling diagnosis in a single episode.

THEN THERE’S REALITY

About a year ago, the wife developed a cough. Not a cold – a chronic, hacking cough.  After a week, she also got a sharp pain in the muscles of the bottom ribs, below her right armpit.  After another week or more, the cough was still with her, and the pain in the side got worse.  Neither of us was sleeping.

She called her doctor, and got an emergency appointment. He listened to her, (maybe) and told her to go for an X-ray.  The next day, Wednesday, I took her to the lab.  The doctor was to be faxed the results.  No call from the office on Friday, or Monday.  On Tuesday, she called the office, and the clerk told her that he had not found anything on the X-ray….and had gone on 2 weeks holidays.

The next day, the son dropped her off at the emergency ward at 8:00 AM. I didn’t get a call to pick her up, but went down after lunch to find her, and dug her out about 4:00 PM.

An eight hour stay, and, despite her telling them that the pain was in the muscles of the lower, right chest, they insisted on taking another X-ray, to check for a heart attack.  When that showed nothing, they wanted to do a CAT-scan, to check the lungs, but she’s allergic to the dyes that they’d use.

They decided, instead, to do a Gamma-ray scan.  This showed that, because of the pain, she wasn’t breathing deeply or strongly enough, and the bottom lobes of both lungs were developing fluid.  Not finding any cause for the sharp pain, they released her.

The next day, I took her to the ‘Medical Group’, for a clinic-style, first-doctor-available visit. We got a kindly, retired English doctor, recently moved to Canada, and willing to make a few bucks by filling in part-time for the likes of the one on vacation.

He actually listened to her, and quickly found the source of the pain by reaching over and palpating (touching) her, something that no doctor, nurse or technician had done. He wrote a ten-day prescription for a broad medication – something with a powerful painkiller, a muscle relaxant, and an anti-inflammatory.

He told her to take the pills, and wait another week and have yet another X-ray taken, and book an appointment to see him a couple of days later.  The pain quickly disappeared, and she (almost) stopped glowing in the dark.  When we went back to see him, he still couldn’t find anything in the results.  Of course not! It’s a soft tissue injury.

After three X-rays and a Gamma-ray scan within two weeks, it still took a British Marcus Welby-like fill-in doctor (doubly-named Dr. John Brodie-Brown), relying on his touch and intuition to solve the problem by treating the symptoms, rather than with shiny tech-toys.

A week later, I was reading the blog-post of a lady bicyclist. She wrote that she had developed the same symptoms as the wife.  A doctor diagnosed it as ‘costochondritis’, an inflammation of the nerves that control the breathing muscles.  It’s known, but not common, among people like bikers and runners, who gasp and pant for extended periods.

Even with the best of treatment, (Which very few of us ever get) it is still often up to us to diagnose our own problems, and insist that we get full and proper care.  😯

Horse Sh…Play

Clown

My life has been built around humor and comedy. I’m a great believer in amusement and entertainment.  I’m all for fun and frivolity.  Want to get into horseplay?  I think you’re a stupid asshole!

Sooner or later, horseplay ends in injury, damage or death, often sooner than later. At least, most times it ends there.  There are people (I’m sad to say they most often have an XY chromosome mix, though not always.) who go beyond asshole on the stupid scale, and continue.  Almost every workplace has a rule against horseplay.  There are good reasons for that.

The young man who formed the vinyl parts on my auto plant line was quiet and well-behaved. Management changed the part we did, and now we required two formers.  The second one we got was an industrial strength asshole.

The line beside us had four young women behind the press. He and one of them immediately started throwing small, hard balls of vinyl at each other.  One day he said to Mr. Niceguy, “Here, toss this at Elaine.”

He did so….just in time for Janet to step around the press, and get hit right in the eye. The guy who had never before thrown anything, got a written reprimand, and we had a lost-time accident after six months injury-free.   BTW, Mr. Asshole continued throwing stuff.

We bonded thin vinyl to foam rubber, then cut pieces out, usually discs, to fit over steering columns, etc. One of the parts had a steel support added, about the size of a cell phone.  Four protruding feet were hammered over like staples.  One jokester came by and found one near the supply crib.  He picked it up, yelled at our installer, and then scaled it toward him like a Frisbee.

It would have landed six feet short, and clanged across the floor.  Spinning in the air, it looked just like a soft rubber knockout, so my guy stepped forward and caught it in his bare hand.  Fortunately there was no blood, but their friendship was strained for several days.

When I worked at the steel warehouse, management had Southern Ontario carved up into six sections. One outside salesman serviced each piece.  The Inside Sales Dept. had one clerk for each of them.  It was a most redundant system in my opinion.  Three or four bodies could have easily handled the volume of calls, but I guess one-on-one ensured familiarity.

It meant that there was often a lot of free time. Two of the clerks were in their early 20s, like me.  One of them was a convicted kidder.  If anyone was away for washroom or coffee break, and there was a call, another clerk took name and number and left a note, for the customer to be called back.

There are two local Universities, one of them Lutheran. A call-back note might get you the recorded ‘Prayer of the Day.’  With the African Lion Safari fifteen miles away, another note might tell you to call a number and ask for ‘Leo.’  The other University had a Performing Arts Department.  They had a dedicated line that you could call to purchase tickets.  When shows were not running, it played recordings of things like ‘Money, Money, Money’ from Cabaret.  All very amusing.  😳

One day, the fall guy returned to his desk and found a note. A Mennonite he’d never dealt with had decided to set up a metal fabrication shop, and wanted to order a significant amount of material.  When he phoned back, he was answered by a Mr. Bierschbach. (Beersh-bock)

Expecting another prank, he heard ‘Beer Box’, a 24-bottle case, so he went along with the joke.  He told the customer that his name was Carling Labatt, the names of two of Canada’s largest breweries.  This wasn’t terribly unreasonable.  At the time, Carling Bassett, a young female member of the brewing clan, was well-known in figure-skating.

The call went on and on, with him nodding and agreeing, and calling the new customer Mr. Beer Box – but not writing a thing down. When the kidder returned, he had a big laugh about his ‘buddy’s fake call.’

After being assured that the call was genuine, and given the man’s name and pronunciation, he then had to call him back and apologise and explain – and write down the entire order. This was not a good introduction for a new client.  If there’d been another, sufficiently-large local warehouse, I’d have gone with them.

It’s all fun until somebody loses an eye – or a customer – or their job. Fun’s fun, but this ain’t it.  Horseplay is for horses’ asses.

Mistaken Identity

I recently read a post by a young woman who is a receptionist for a small firm.  She handles the few walk-ins, directs incoming emails and deals with the constant phone calls.  She wrote of the strange and wonderful telephone calls she has to deal with.

Steam ears

Like being a greeter at Wal-Mart, this is a job I could not handle.  I like to talk to people, but I don’t suffer idiots well.  By about coffee-break time the first morning, I’d want to injure someone.  Since I couldn’t get at any of the fools on the phone, it would probably be the loud blonde in accounting, with the nasal, Fran Drescher voice, who snaps her gum as she chews.

Asshole

The lady with the post estimates that she knows 83% (what an interesting number 😕 ) of her regular callers by their voice, even before they identify themselves.  That’s a useful ability to have, but it should not be relied on unquestioningly.

It’s only good telephone etiquette, and business sense to identify yourself on the phone.  When I worked as a Purchasing Agent, I always did so when I called someone – until that fateful day.  I had called a supplier one day, and told him who I was.  He replied, “Oh, you don’t have to tell me who you are.  You have a very recognizable voice.”

Once upon a time, my company required a small amount of…widgets, ASAP.   We needed them by 11 AM the next day, to allow assembly time, to make a 4 PM shipment.  I called a supplier, and in the excitement, merely started off with, “Hi Bill, could you do me a big favor?”

He replied, “Oh hi.  Yeah, sure!  What can I do for you?”  I told him what I needed, and how soon.  He put me on hold, and picked up again in a couple of minutes.  “You’re in luck.  The machine running that item is in production right now, and we have a bit of extra raw material.  I’ll tell the operator to run it out.  We’ll load your stuff tonight, and you’ll be the second stop for the truck tomorrow.  You should have them by 8 or 9 o’clock.”

I gave him a Purchase Order number, and promised to mail the confirmation.  The next day, when I arrived about 8, they weren’t there – no biggy.  They weren’t there at 9, when I took a washroom break – Hmmm.  They weren’t in by 10, when I called the receiver – startin’ to worry.  They hadn’t arrived by 11, when the receiver called me in a panic.

I finally got through to the supplier about 11:30.  “What happened to my widgets?  You promised they’d be here much earlier!”

“Oh, they’re there.  I knew how important they were to you, so I asked the driver to call me when they were unloaded.  He has a bill of lading, signed by your receiver at 8:37 AM.”

“But they’re not here!  The receiver just phoned me.”

“They must be there.  Maybe he unloaded them and just forgot.  Just call him back, Bob, and ask him….”

“BOB!!??  I’m not Bob!  This is Archon!”

“Oh shit.  You and Bob sound so much alike.”

He didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell.  The other company’s receiver unquestioningly unloaded parts they’d never previously ordered, on a waybill with a purchase order number not in their series.  The truck driver got paid overtime, because he had to go back and reload, and deliver to our plant.  And we still got a non-compliance late/short shipment demerit.

If it doesn’t say Styrofoam SM®, it isn’t, but you can be sure you’re getting the real Archon, because every one of my babbles is clearly identified as “Archon’s Den. ™”

 

Big Boy’s Little Toys

BrianRants2

After giving the best part of his life (In both senses.) to the American Army – suffering the slings and arrows, as well as the mosquitoes, camel shit and anal-retentive superiors whose assholes are so tight that, when they fart, only dogs can hear them, BrainRants® has discovered that the government bureaucracy values him as much and has the same level of loyalty as found in private industry.

A short time ago he received the highly prized little pink slip reading, “We are sorry, but your continued presence at this time is surplus to our ongoing requirements.”

In the beginning, he got to drive a tank, and blow shit up, but later found that he was required to throw his body in front of rampaging power-point presentations, injuring his shoulders, and pride.

The Government, in its soul-grinding way, is requiring him to locate and return every piece of crap they’ve issued him over almost a quarter of a century.  Unless he’s a lot slyer than even I think he is, there is probably not an Abrams tank in his garage, next to the beer fridge.

I don’t feel it’s fair that he has to leave the five-sided game-show without at least a consolation prize.  If any of you kind and computer-literate people want to start a GoFundMe or CrowdSourcing campaign, I will be happy to donate….a couple of ideas.  I might also get around to returning a few beer bottles for refund.

RC Abrams

My first thought was that we could get him one of these Radio Controlled Abrams tanks.  He could sit out on his rebuilt back deck, with a Coors Lite in one hand, and the control in the other, raising Hell with the neighborhood squirrels, and any cats and/or dogs running at large.

Ride-on Abrams

Another idea would be to get him one of these darling ride-on Abrams.  They’re $10 cheaper than the RC, but I’m afraid our boy is a bit bigger than the cute kid in the photo.  We might have to purchase a matched pair, so that he could wear one on each foot, like roller-skates, to zip him to work on future commutes.

SDC10917

A local businessman runs a surplus store.  He’s also into militaria.  I don’t know how much profit there is in carpenters’ pencils, CD jewel cases or field mess kits, but there’s enough to buy him a plane.  When I heard that he liked to get high….

SDC10920

He also bought, and parked in the front corner of his lot, a deceased tank.  If we dug deep enough in our pockets and pocketbooks, we might raise enough cash to convince him to let it go to a good home.  If Rants doesn’t have a covert Abrams in his garage, this might be the ideal DIY rebuilding project.  We could FedEx it to him, a few parts at a time.

Remember, even if he eventually gets it up and running, and in operational condition, this is a Canadian tank.  It’s only dangerous to SmartCars   😆

What do you say, people??  Let’s show him that we still love and respect him, even if he has mutated into a civilian!

Life Insurance

Accident

Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the
accident were serious enough to take the
trucking company (responsible for the
accident) to court. In court, the
trucking companies’ fancy lawyer was
questioning farmer Joe. Didn’t you say,
at the scene of the accident, “I’m
fine,” said the lawyer.

Farmer Joe responded, “Well I’ll tell you what
happened. I had just loaded my favorite
mule Bessie into the..”

“I didn’t ask for any details,” the
lawyer interrupted, “just answer the
question.” “Did you not say, at the
scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine!'”

Farmer Joe said, “Well I had just got
Bessie into the trailer and I was
driving down the road..”

The lawyer interrupted again and said,
“Judge, I am trying to establish the
fact that, at the scene of the accident,
this man told the Highway Patrolman on
the scene that he was just fine. Now
several weeks after the accident he is
trying to sue my client. I believe he is
a fraud. Please tell him to simply
answer the question.”

By this time the Judge was fairly
interested in Farmer Joe’s answer and
said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear
what he has to say about his favorite
mule Bessie.”

Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded,
“Well as I was saying, I had just
loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into
the trailer and was driving her down
the highway when this huge semi-truck
and trailer ran the stop sign and
smacked my truck right in the side. I
was thrown into one ditch and Bessie
was thrown into the other. I was hurting
real bad and didn’t want to move.

However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning
and groaning. I knew she was in terrible
shape just by her groans. Shortly after
the accident a Highway Patrolman came on
the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning
and groaning so he went over to her.

After he looked at her he took out his
gun and shot her between the eyes. Then
the Patrolman came across the road with
his gun in his hand and looked at me. He
said, “Your mule was in such bad shape I
had to shoot her. How are you feeling?”

***

Yogurt (noun) Semi-solid dairy product made from partially
evaporated and fermented milk. Yogurt is one of only three foods
that taste exactly the same as they sound. The other two
are goulash and squid.

***

Two Marines boarded a shuttle flight out of Washington, headed for SC. One sat in the window seat, the other sat in the middle seat. Just before takeoff, a Soldier got on and took the aisle seat next to the two Marines.  The Soldier kicked off his shoes, wiggled his toes and was settling in when the Marine in the window seat said, “I think I’ll get up and get a coke.”

“No problem,” said the Soldier, “I’ll get it for you.” While he was gone, the Marine picked up one of the Soldier’s shoes and spit in it.  When the Soldier returned with the coke, the other Marine said, “That looks good, I think I’ll have one, too. ”

Again, the Soldier obligingly went to fetch it and while he was gone, the Marine picked up the Soldier’s other shoe and spit in it.  The Soldier returned and they all sat back and enjoyed the remainder of their short flight to SC.

As the plane was landing, the Soldier slipped his feet into his shoes and realized immediately what had happened.”How long must this go on?” the Soldier asked. “This fighting between our services? This hatred? This animosity? This spitting in shoes and peeing in cokes?”

Seinfeld Re-Run

Being another collection of unrelated thoughts which carom and rattle around inside my vacant skull.  Think of this as mental spring-cleaning, which it would be, if this were spring.  This is fall.  By the time I post this, I will have overnight become 68 years old, and that fact should be obvious.

I recently, righteously, slagged four female Canadian singers.  I ran out of space and energy before I could include a fifth.  I give you the, famous in her own mind, even when she’s out of it, Nelly Furtado.  Like the others, Nelly is a decent singer and performer.  Unlike Shania Twain, she doesn’t have a long history of verbal malaprops.  She managed to do it all in one TV interview.

This one occurred just as she was breaking out.  She was booked on a meet-the-artist show on MuchMusic, Canada’s we-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-American MTV, alternative.  For a half an hour she unwittingly proved herself to be an up-and-coming Canadian racist.  Everything she bragged about herself, was because she was Portuguese, not Portuguese-Canadian, just Portuguese.

She was born in British Columbia.  Her first big song, I’m Like a Bird, contains the line, “I’m like a bird.  I don’t know where my home is.”  I think it fitting that, the only bird which doesn’t know where its home is, is a cuckoo.  The same pair of robins flew back from Florida, and nested in my porch for five or six years. Apparently, she also doesn’t know where the National Geographic Channel is.

She claimed to be a great song-writer because she was Portuguese.  I don’t know what that says about Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot or Buffy Saint-Marie, who have Jewish, English and Cree heritage, respectively.  She lauded herself about her high morals because she was Portuguese, and I almost choked.  I’ve watched Portuguese girls coming home from Catholic school on the bus.  The only thing sluttier, might be some Romanian girls.  The only thing they don’t show is restraint.

I’d even forgive the Portuguese references if her parents had been born there, but they weren’t.  They come from the Azores Islands, which are to Portugal, what Newfoundland is to Canada, only more so.  Further out in the ocean, more isolated, more ignored, poorer, less literate, if it weren’t for the fact that several airlines use the big island for trans-Atlantic fuelling, they’d be eating jelly-fish and smoking seaweed.

There was another blogger, whose site was also called Archons Den.  He was a Filipino who posted on BlogSpot.  He was big into electronics, posting about Smartphones, iPods, expensive car stereos and big-screen TVs.  He may have gone bankrupt.  I haven’t seen a new post in almost a year.  Archon is also the name given to a yearly science-fiction conference in Kansas City.  I believe this year is number 37.

Booksellers like Chapters have a current book for sale, titled “Archon.”  It’s sort of an H E Ellis’, Reapers With Issues, crossed with 50 Shades of Grey.  A book titled, “The Archon”, is a children’s story about a trek to seek peace with the Rain Queen.  I’m honored, in a vague way, but I think I’ll skip them both.

The niece who ate Ex-Lax, but only drank Javex once, went with her parents and siblings for a weekend visit with her other grandparents on their farm.  Out of her clothes and into a nightgown, the six-year-old wanted to know what was in the coffee-pot protruding over the edge of the stove.  She pulled it down on her left shoulder, and the boiling coffee was held like a sponge by the flannelette nightie.  By the time the adults pulled it off the screaming child, she had been burned so badly that she developed a quarter-inch thick mass of scar tissue from the base of her neck to her vaccination mark.

Mr. Automotive Q&A published another duh-mb letter this week.  The writer wanted him to help, because he had bought a used car from a dealer.  He gave the salesman a cheque, which had been cashed.  The day he bought the car, he needed to do some running around, so he got them to let him take the car out.  He was to return it, and they were to do a safety on it.  When he brought it back, the dealership refused to safety his car, and he wanted the columnist to pressure them into it.  That’s his story, and it sounds straightforward.

Mr. Q&A did some phoning, and quickly found out that:  He left the dealer’s lot at about noon on a Friday.  He was supposed to return the car before end of workday.  Closing time came, no car.  Monday came and went, no car!  Tuesday came and went, no car!!  On Wednesday, the dealer plate and its holder were hanging on the dealer’s front door when they opened for business.  That was early in April!  Now, early in September, he wants them to do all the work necessary to pass a government test, and of course, they demurred.

In Q&A’s response, he told the guy that the dealer was willing to do the rear brakes, which should have been fixed five months ago, along with several other minor repairs.  They would not replace the windshield which was not cracked when he took possession, nor the right headlight, which was working when he left.  Since he drove 3800 kilometers after he left, they would also not replace the alternator or the windshield wipers.  They would do the emission testing, but he would have to pay for any parts needed to get the car to pass.

The dealer admitted that they should never have let him off the lot, and should have notified the Ontario Transport Ministry when the car did not return.  Mr Q&A, and the rest of us, assume he was driving for five months with illegal licence plates, not registered to the car.  Also, since the vehicle was not in his name, he drove for the five months without the legally required insurance.  Q&A gave him one week from the date of the column printing to get all this stuff done, because, as a licensed mechanic, he is legally bound to inform the ministry, if he has knowledge of non-compliance.

This all happened in Southwestern Ontario, but I’ll bet you drove past a car today, driven by a yahoo like this.  Scary as hell, isn’t it?