Flash Fiction #187

Stopped Cold

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

STOPPED COLD

Lenny and Squiggy weren’t their real names, but everyone called them that. Something about a 1970s TV program.

After their respective parents had finally booted them out, they couch-surfed together for a while. Someone suggested that they get a job…. Job??! Yeah, we could pull a job.

Lenny knew where the local gang had a betting parlor. It was simple. Wear ski-masks. Run in the front. Wave some toy guns. Grab all the cash they could carry, and run out the back. Everything went flawlessly – but why won’t the back door open?

***

Click above to see their Brain Trust namesakes.

***

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

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’18 A To Z Challenge – K – PART #2

 

Challenge '18
Letter K

KNOCKER-UPPERS

Now that we’ve all had our tween-aged boy snicker, we’re going to speak British.

The daughter, my primary research assistant, sent me a link to a YouTube video about a now-extinct job.  In the heyday of the Industrial Revolution, many men in the cities of the UK, worked in the factories and mills.  They were expected to be at work ungodly early, by 5:00, 5:30 or 6:00 AM.  Alarm clocks had not been invented, and the sun was not up.  How were they to get to work on time?

Alarm Clock

Who wakes up the bugler who plays Reveille, to wake everyone else at a military base?  The answer to that question is the reason that it’s now recorded, and played automatically.  This task fell to certain people, who would come around to your house, and tap on a window to rouse the worker.  These were usually the neighborhood night watchmen, who were paid to stay up all night, and keep an eye open for fires.

Since bedrooms were usually on the second or third floors, they carried a long wooden rod, often bamboo, with a metal hook or knob on the end.  Why not just stand outside and shout??  Because not every house had a mill-worker, and even the ones that did, had wives and children who could benefit from another couple of hours sleep.

It was an interesting human answer to one of the first technological problems.  I have in the past, and I do now, stay up (almost) all night.  I’ve roused my children, to go to school, and day jobs.  I don’t tap on other bloggers’ windows, but I do publish in the middle of my night.  It’s sometimes interesting to see who I wake.

Feel free to stop back in a couple of days when we’re all awake, to see if I’m successful this week with a 100-word Flash Fiction, or if I have to tap into my cache, and publish a WOW.  I’m setting my alarm.   😆

Smitty’s Loose Change #8

BC Mountie

How the Media – and the Police – Hell, just about everybody – lies to you

“A traffic stop in Calgary yielded drugs and several weapons, including a semi-automatic submachine gun.”

This is where I say….  Cat <-> Dog, Wet <-> Dry, Day <-> Night.  A semi-automatic weapon fires once each time the trigger is pulled.  A ‘submachine gun’ is fully automatic, capable of rapidly firing through a far larger ammunition magazine.  It’s one or the other.  It can’t be both – says the guy who invented it, and the word.

Police issue statements like this to appear to be protecting the public – from dangers that don’t necessarily exist.  Newspapers cynically use headlines like this to sell papers!  Don’t you feel safe?  It’s a good thing that liars don’t give off radiation, or we’d all glow in the dark.

***

In Ford though, they see a my-road-or-the-highway politician…. I realize that the subtle, nuanced, ABAB rhyme scheme of, My way, or the Highway, can be a bit difficult for a columnist from Toronto’s poshest newspaper to detect but, come down from your ivory tower, and listen to how ‘the little people’ in the street actually speak, and how they view their political representative, before you disparage him.
BTW:  He got elected.

***

There is none so blind as he who will not see.

(Ontario Premier) Kathleen Wynne is not popular, for whatever reason, whether because there is a hunger for change, or because she is an older, lesbian woman.

Perhaps it’s because she and her Liberal government shut down all the coal-fired power generating stations, before the renovations to the nuclear and hydro ones had been completed.

Perhaps it’s because she and her Fiberals threw away 5 to 10 billion dollars over 25 years, by signing contracts for solar and wind-powered electricity.  They wasted 2 billion dollars by cancelling 2 clean, gas-fired generating plants, because they were too close to rich, influential voters.

They raised Ontario’s electrical rate to the highest in Canada, and almost the highest in North America, causing manufacturers to re-locate elsewhere, losing 40,000 jobs – including mine – thank you very much!

They blew a billion dollars on the Province’s medical helicopter-evacuation fleet – without any improvements or upgrades being achieved.  They blew another billion dollars on a computer system to make all medical files in the Province available to all health-care professionals – only the system doesn’t work, and has been abandoned.

They blew a billion dollars on a computerized payroll system for all Provincial employees.  It is so badly f….ouled up that some workers are a month behind on their pay, and it will take another billion to straighten it out.

Most Ontario voters would accept Marvin the Martian; the premier could be asexual, white, black…. or plaid.  We don’t merely want change for the sake of change; we want change for the better.

***

Skepticism is my nature!
Free thought is my methodology!
Agnosticism is my conclusion!
Atheism is my opinion!
Humanitarianism is my motivation!
Faith is what adults call ‘pretending.’

 

A To Z Challenge – M

Challenge2017

Please don’t let me be misunderstood, by The Animals.  (Click for YouTube)

letter-m

Worse than being misunderstood, is being misidentified.  Those of you who know me, know that my name is not John Smith, but it’s almost that common.

I once worked with a young woman named Kauffeldt, a very non-common German name meaning ‘a purchased field’. She came to Kitchener from a town north of Ottawa, the equivalent of a 6-hour drive, because – that’s where the jobs were.

She started dating a guy, then they were ‘going steady’, then after a year, they got engaged. I thought that I should show at least a little bit of interest, and asked his name.  She told me that he was Barry, but managed to pronounce it more like Bawry, than berry.

As the wedding approached, I asked what her married name would be, and she told me that it would be Kauffeldt. “You’re not going to keep your maiden name are you??”  A hundred years ago, two brothers settled on opposite sides of a lake….and the families lost contact.

Barry was a 4th or 5th cousin, who lived in a different township.  They went to different elementary and secondary schools.  He also came down here for a job, and they met in Kitchener.  Talk about not even needing to change the monograms on the linen – she didn’t have to change her driver’s licence, or any other official paperwork.

My more common name though, has caused misunderstandings, if not actual problems.

I went to my dentist, to have some work done on a lower, right molar. The tech bustled in, and gave me a shot of Novocaine in my upper left jaw.  When I asked why, we found that another ‘John Smith’ had moved into the neighborhood.  She had his file, and I got his shot.  Then, of course, I got my own Novocaine shot, and spent the rest of the day with my face falling off.  I’ve since learned to provide address, Social Insurance Number, telephone, and/or birth date, to prevent this sort of thing.

On a street I once lived on, a house was built on the last empty lot, 8 houses past mine. One day I got a letter from a lawyer, threatening to sue ‘John Smith’ for cutting down a tree.  John Smith the contractor was from a small town, 25 miles away.  Shouldn’t someone know this?  When I called the lawyers office, the clerk alibied that, “We thought it was a work-site address.”

About 2:00 AM one Saturday morning, as the wife and I were watching a late movie, the phone rang. “Hey, this is Guido.  I’m checking in.”  That’s nice Guido.  Why are you calling me?  “Ain’t you John Smith, my parole officer?  I lost my contact information, so I looked you up in the book.”   Shortly after that, we put the phone in the wife’s name, and list it with just her initials.

One evening the phone rang, and when I answered it, a very irate man threatened to come over to my house and “punch your f**kin’ lights out.” Why would you want to do that?  “Halfway to the next town, my f**kin’ transmission fell out.”  And what does that have to do with me?  “Well, aren’t you John Smith, of John’s Transmissions?”  No sir, and next time, take a business card, or better yet, take your car to Mister Transmission.

Fifty years ago, when I took my Government-operated Academic Upgrading/Business Practices course, I may have been a bit more intelligent and educated than the run-of-the-mill factory/fisheries/ lumber crowd. I was dragooned into being the Acting Office Administrator for two weeks, while the real one (finally) enjoyed a much-earned vacation.

With a strong, independent Mother, it was amusing yet disturbing, that there were still bastions where a 22-year-old kid made executive decisions and directed 3 competent middle-aged female clerks – because men ran offices, and told women what to do.

Later, I found myself supervising and teaching several classes per day of a Basic Business Machines course, for six weeks, while they located and hired a replacement for a teacher who’d found a better job.

Shortly after I graduated, my Adult Education Program was absorbed, and officially renamed Conestoga College Continuing Education. About ten years ago, just before we put the phone in the wife’s name initials, I answered it one day.  A man queried, “John Smith?”  ….Uh, yeah.  “From Adult Education?”  What do I respond to that?

It turns out that it was a new student, trying to reach a newly-hired instructor named ‘John Smith.’ Apparently, unofficially, the old Adult Education name was still being used, to encourage mature students.

Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner – but please be sure, when you do call me, that I’m the Me you really meant to call.   😳

***

My apologies!  I should have posted this under the title A For Alzheimer’s, or F For Forgetful, or wait and publish it under R For Rerun.  I knew it sounded familiar.  We did it before, and, apparently ‘we’ (I) did it again.  This is an almost word-for word repeat of ‘Oh Yeah? Name One!‘ which you can click on below if you want to leave a comment, ridiculing my memory.  Sorry about that.  New material coming soon.   😳

Workin’ Like A Dog

sdc10369

A local business was looking for office
help. They put a sign in the window,
stating the following: “Help Wanted.
Must be able to type, must be good with
a computer and must be bilingual. We
are an Equal Opportunity Employer.”

A short time afterwards, a dog trotted
up to the window, saw the sign and went
inside. He looked at the receptionist
and wagged his tail, then walked over
to the sign, looked at it and whined.

Getting the idea, the receptionist got
the office manager. The office manager
looked at the dog and was surprised, to
say the least. However, the dog looked
determined, so he led him into the
office. Inside, the dog jumped up on
the chair and stared at the manager.
The manager said “I can’t hire you.
The sign says you have to be able to
type.” The dog jumped down, went to
the typewriter and proceeded to type
out a perfect letter. He took out
the page and trotted over to the
manager and gave it to him, then jumped
back on the chair. The manager was
stunned, but then told the dog “The sign
says you have to be good with a
computer.”

The dog jumped down again and went to
the computer. The dog proceeded to
enter and execute a perfect program,
that worked flawlessly the first time.
By this time the manager was totally
dumb-founded!

He looked at the dog and said “I realize
that you are a very intelligent dog and
have some interesting abilities.
However, I still can’t give you the
job.” The dog jumped down and went to a
copy of the sign and put his paw on the
sentences that told about being an Equal
Opportunity Employer. The manager said
“Yes, but the sign also says that you
have to be bilingual”.

The dog looked at the manager calmly and
said “Meow”.

***

And now for a ‘real’ funny bilingual joke.

Years ago, Charles DeGaulle of France visited Canada. He is still remembered for his ill-mannered and inflammatory shout from a Quebec City hotel window, of, “Vive le Quebec libre.” (Long live Free Quebec.)

Before he arrived, applications were accepted for a post as his driver, to chauffeur him wherever he went.   Aside from the usual requirements, strength, intelligence, firearms and martial arts abilities, driving and map skills, the successful applicant had to be bilingual.

The job was given to Angus MacKinnon, of Nova Scotia, who fluently spoke both English….and Scottish/Canadian Gaelic.

***

Flash Fiction #116

pigeonhole

PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Fuller

JUDGEMENT DAY

In a way, it must be comforting to have everything ‘figured out’, and have labels for everyone and everything. If only people would keep their mouth shut about them.  People like his dim-witted, red-neck, Bible-thumping, narrow-minded, KKK-supporting, Trump-voting boss. He spewed opinions about everybody.

Negroes (not his term) were stupid, lazy, jungle-bunnies. Chicanos were job-stealing taco benders.  Jews were Christ-killing con artists.  And those homosexual sinners???  Well, he knew which guys walking down the street were gay, just by the way they moved.

It must feel good to put everyone in a pigeonhole, even if they weren’t the right ones.

***

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

 

The Dance

Fellow-blogger, AFrankAngle, usually publishes organized, well-researched posts.  Some time ago, he made a brief foray into writing fiction.  Being, among other things, a ballroom dancer, he wrote a short piece about a perhaps-reluctant couple engaging in an Arnold Schwarzenegger, True Lies-type Tango.

Another blogger picked it up, and modified it.  He changed plain text to fancy script, formatted it like blank verse, photo-shopped it onto pictures of pretty shells, and returned to Frank a piece of art worthy of framing.  Click here if you’d like a look.

Impressed with the reactions to his repost, Frank has decided to use it once again.  After the line, “The music ends.” he removed his final two lines, and has put it up for download, with the challenge to anyone interested, to write an alternative ending in 75 words or less.  Below is my version.  Click on his blog name above, to read more, or to try yourself.

afashortstorychallenge

The music starts – its tempo and rhythms define the dance. He approaches her table, and extends an inviting hand. She accepts. They take to the floor. He offers a hand and a frame. Again, she accepts, but looks away while in hold as if to say, “I’ll dance – but I’m not interested.”

They move to the music’s sharp, fiery rhythms that are intertwined with sensuality. Their eyes continue gazing in opposite directions to avoid a visual connection – yet, their bodies touch.

They dance – they move – sometimes slow – sometimes fast – but always sharp and to rhythm.

He rolls her out – they flick in unison. He tugs to rolls her back into his arms. She shrugs him off by returning to hold with her head turned away. Their steps continue.

He steps back – a lunge – a corté. She steps forward and raises her leg against his, and slowly moves it downward as a caress. He notices – she’s got his attention. As he returns her to upright, their eyes connect through a glimpse – yet each looks away.

The pace seeming hastens. The musical beat remains steady. Their moves remain sharp. Their eyes are starting to communicate to the other through glances.

She leans her body into him and her head is no longer facing away. They lock their eyes for the first time, and her eyes and face speak to him when. She places her head on his chest.

The normally sharp fans are now slow and smooth – yet still to the music’s rhythm. As she turns, his right hand slides naturally along her sleek frame. He notices the curvature of her hips. His head is not as high as he looks toward her with hopes of connecting again.

To him, her face displays desire. Her eyes are closed, but only she knows why. They are now in another place. To him, they are in the midst of passion. To her, she is the seductress who has succumbed to his fantasy.

He responds to the music’s fire with 8 fast steps down the floor. He rolls out as before, but on her return, she is close – and her right hand slowly caresses his face. The music ends.

She raises her goddess face to his.  Her limpid brown eyes catch and hold his.  He stares into an eternity of joy.  Slowly, her carmine, rosebud mouth opens, and….

BEEP – BEEP – BEEP – BEEP

Frank??  Frank?!!

Wake up!  You’re dreaming.

Turn that alarm off!  It’s time to get up and go to work.    😳

#480