Flash Fiction #203

Briefcase

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

I’M OVER THE MOON

Roger, where’s my briefcase?

Uhhh, on your desk??!

No, it’s not.

On the kitchen table??

I looked there. I gave it to you to carry in from the car. Where did you put it?

Front hall??

It’s got important papers, a report that needs to be finished or I could get fired.
I look to Heaven and plead, ‘Where is my….’
Why is it on the skylight???

Oh yeah! I wondered if I could throw it over the house. Musta landed there.

Get the ladder, and get it down, safely! Gahh – teenagers! Honey, could we trade him for a gerbil?

***

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

LOST IN THE U.S.A.

Map

No vacation is truly an adventure, until something goes wrong.

Based on that statement, our recent excursion into the Excited States was actually a roaring success.  It all started just after we crossed the Niagara River, and pulled up to the American Customs booth.

I had packed our Koolatron, a mini, portable refrigerator, the night before we left, with all kinds of drinks, Pepsi, iced tea, bottled water, orange juice….  As I was packing the car, the wife added some snacks to keep a diabetic’s blood sugar up – snap peas, baby carrots and cherries.

The border guard asked if we had any fruits or vegetables.  I said ‘no,’ and the wife startled.  He wasn’t worried about the peas or carrots, but Canada has cherry mites.  Wifey says, ‘That’s okay.  They’re Washington State cherries.’  ‘Let’s see them.’  The bag she had just finished was Washington, but the replacements she brought along were from British Columbia.  ‘They have to be quarantined.’ he says, and into the garbage they went.

Still distracted and smarting from the loss of the cherries, I was one lane too far right, and ended up heading south towards Buffalo, instead of swinging east towards the New York Turnpike.  A situation usually easily rectified, at the next exit I pulled up, over, and back down.  I practiced a bit of Zen driving, by following a Greyhound bus that looked like it knew where I was going.  I was right.  He led me well into Pennsylvania.

Our Canadian cell phone plan won’t talk to American cell towers.  Several miles down the Turnpike, the wife’s phone rang.  Is the car haunted??   It was our Canadian Virgin Mobile plan.  “For a mere $7/day, we’ll contract AT&T to provide you full phone service.  We realized that you were outside Canada by GPS tracking your cell phone.”  Great idea! and I didn’t hardly feel stalked at all.  We got Google GPS on the wife’s phone.  I wanted to call the new voice Navigator Nancy, but that name was already taken.  She became just Google Girl, and I now have three female voices in the car, telling me where to go.

The second episode of Lost, was filmed in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where we stopped for the night.  Frenchmen and ballerinas call it wilks – bar, but the locals insist that it’s wilks-berry. The address of our motel was right on a main access road, but we couldn’t find it.  By finally asking a convenience-store clerk, we discovered that it was actually up a hill, behind a U-Haul storage facility, and accessed from a small side-road, by going through a TGI Friday’s parking lot.

We didn’t learn that until we’d been past it 4 times.  I pulled into a small side-road to turn around, only to discover that it was the entry ramp for the Interstate.  We went nine miles back North.  I tried my patented up-over-and down maneuver©, only to find that the down ramp took me to a narrow, twisty State highway which only eventually got me back to what passes for civilization.

I must have earned some positive Karma points.  The next day’s highway mishap actually brought me out ahead – still behind, but not as far.  We wanted to go from an Interstate, to a State Highway, in Harrisburg, PA, to save about 60 miles.  All three female voices told me to take exit 5B.  I thought that 5B would be on the far side of the overpass, but like the one I missed in Buffalo a few years ago, both were on the near side.

Just as I realized this, and tried to reach the off-ramp, a local air-conditioning repair truck swooped out of the outside lane and cut me off.  Oh well, we’ll go down to exit 4.  No ‘up-over-and-down’ in the middle of a city, Ethel’s directions took me ‘down here,’ and then ‘across there.’  The wife complained that, if I must get lost, I should at least do it in an area with stately, historical homes, not the grubby factory and warehouse route we took.

When I reached the highway up-ramp, I manage to insert my vehicle into a ‘volume of traffic’ jam.  When I looked in my mirror, I found the air-conditioning van 3 or 4 spaces behind me.  After inching along for 3 miles, because of two more feeder ramps, we finally got back to ‘highway speed.’

In a previous blogging challenge, I’ve said that Life makes me happy.  Just before we leaked out of Pennsylvania into the Maryland panhandle, we curled around the base of a small mountain, just in time to see 10 colorful hot-air balloons rising up its sides.  The long, smooth, descending curve allowed us to observe them from a variety of angles and elevations.  Perhaps not as large or exciting as the Taos, NM hot air balloon festival, I still took it as a sign of apology and reward for the travails of the previous day.

There’s more to come, so I’d like you to come back.  😀

Taos Balloons

Flash Fiction # 168

Ali Baba

PHOTO PROMPT © Nathan Sowers grandson of our own Dawn M. Miller

UPON FURTHER REFLECTION

I won’t tell how I came into possession of Ali Baba’s magic lamp.  Let’s just say that I found it before it got lost.

“Oh great, another master, and what will you want?”  Where was the respectful genie from the stories?

First of all, I want a grand mansion.

“Never fear, Master.  I will provide everything you deserve.”

While it appeared spacious, it always felt claustrophobic.  I preferred being outside.  I was doing some decorating.  As I knelt to pick up the new bathroom mirror, I caught the reflection of the real ‘Emperor’s new mansion’ that he felt I deserved.

***

This fanciful Fairy Tale retelling is all the fault of Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site.  Visit there, and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

‘17 A To Z Challenge – W

Challenge2017

letter-w

WTF!

Out of the pile of ‘W’ prompts that I downloaded, including the WTF one above, I’ve decided to choose Word Count.

I sometimes (Okay, often) tend to get a bit verbose, so I’ve chosen to keep this little epistle to a maximum of 250 words.

I could watch and wait, as long as I don’t do it too close to my snacks.  Then, I would have to watch my weight, something that you could do from the next county.  When I sit around the house, I really sit AROUND the house.

I downloaded both the word wrench, and the word wench.  While they may seem very similar, they are both quite different in meaning….although, if you played your cards right, both of them would tighten your nuts for you.

I’ve never had wanderlust.  I’m quite satisfied with, wherever I go – there I am.’  With me, it’s more like wander lost??!  Even with the few vacation/sightseeing trips I’ve taken, my poor GPS unit is seeing a counsellor.

Now that the wife is recovering from her second knee-replacement surgery, the physiotherapist suggested that she get more exercise, to build up her strength and stamina. The wife is pushing me to go with her for a walk around the block each day.  I said, “Why??  I’m already here….and I’ll still be here when you get back.”  I am such a wimp.

Oops, this thing is running a bit long. I’d better check my word…..

 

Lost In The Urban Jungle

Department Store

In my little hometown, in the late 1940s, the selections in the two small, local, independent grocery stores were not great, and low-volume buying and shipping made prices a bit higher than in ‘the big city.’ My Dad suggested that we start driving 25 miles to the ‘giant metropolis’ of 10,000 people, and shop at the Loblaw’s store.

In our little blue-lawed town, stores closed at 6:00 PM, and there was no such thing as Sunday shopping. On Friday nights, the Loblaw’s stayed open until 9:00.  Dad would come home from work at 5, we’d have a quick supper, and be on the road by 6.

It became a routine. The choices were greater.  The lower grocery prices paid for the gas burned, and it was a family adventure.  There might even be enough left over to have some French fries from a ‘chip wagon.’

One warm July Friday night, we rolled up main street. Dad found a parking spot about a half a block from the store, and put a dime in a parking meter for an hour’s stay. Long before the advent of suburban malls, stores were ‘downtown.’

We walked to the Loblaw’s, did our shopping, and checked out, with some time to spare.  In the days of good manners and social restraint, shopping carts were not allowed out of the store onto main street.  All groceries had to be carried.

We had four large paper bags. I was 6 years old, and my brother was three. We weren’t going to carry any.  My Mother tucked two of the lighter ones in the crooks of her elbows, and my Dad hefted the rest.  When we exited the store, there were no hands free to guide us, so my Mom said to me, “You take your brother, and go on ahead to the car.”  So, leading him by the hand, off we set down an un-busy sidewalk.

We got to the (unlocked) car long before they did. In the days before air conditioned stores, the double doors of the store beside the car stood propped open.  Just as I was about to open the car, I heard ‘clickety-click, clickety-click.’  What was that sound?  Dragging him, we stepped over to the store doors and looked and listened.

This was not quite a department store, more like a 5 and 10, five times as big as the tiny Dime Store in my town.  There were sales-clerks in various spots, but no cash registers or money.  They had a something much like a pneumatic tube system, only made out of steel mesh.

All the price tags, and the customers’ money, were put into a 4” X 4” x 6” steel mesh car, with a little electric motor, and pushed into a drop-tube. Clickety-click, clickety-click, up it went, turned at the top, and clickety-click, clickety-click, ran around the store, and up into a cash office on a mezzanine level.  There, a clerk verified all totals, made change, and returned the little car along with a receipt.  An adjustable semaphore determined which station it would drop out at.

This was the sound that I’d heard. We, or at least techno-geek me, stared in awe.  The nearest clerk noticed us, and asked if we’d like to see it again. “Yes please!” She wrote a note that said, “I have two fascinated kids here.  Just return it.” and stuffed it up the tube. Clickety-click, clickety-click, up it went, around the room and up into the office.  Thirty seconds later, clickety-click, back it came.

She wasn’t busy, so she asked, “Wanna do it once more?” “Yes please!” She added, “One more time” to the note and, clickety-click, off it dashed again, like a 1950 slot-car and clickety-click, soon returned and popped out one more time.

Now…. Let’s step outside, and see what this looked like to our parents.  They’d sent two kids half a block on a main street sidewalk, in broad daylight, but when they got to the car, we weren’t there. Where the Hell did the kids go??! Had someone kidnapped us?  Had we got into the wrong car, and inadvertently been driven off?  Were we lost, and wandering the streets?

They quickly stowed the groceries, and began searching. Up and down the street, asking random pedestrians if they’d seen two little boys – back to the Loblaw’s – Dad went one way, Mom went the other.  They finally returned to the car in a panic….and we calmly walked out of the store.  We hadn’t been more than twenty feet away, all the time, but there had been no reason for them to think we’d gone inside.

Too happy, to give me shit, Mom still impressed on me that I should never do such a thing again. And while we weren’t at the car, the dime’s worth of parking had expired, and an eagle-eyed meter maid had given Dad a parking ticket to pay.  No French fries that night.  I didn’t get lost again for 8 years, when I got swept up in another school group touring a Niagara power station, and had to explain to the Principal, why I wasn’t there for our head-count.  😳

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Seven

Day 4/Part 1 – I Shoulda Stood In Bed

Cordelia’s Mom was a joy to visit.  We would do it again in a heartbeat; in fact we may do so, next year, on a weekend, so that we could also meet Cordelia, her Dad, and her sister.  Buffalo is only a two-hour drive, as opposed to four, for Detroit.  But the primary goal of this trip was always to meet John Erickson, especially after his recent, uncharacteristic, internet silence.

Online maps said that it was an hour and a half, from our motel to John’s place.  Add slowdown because of road construction, and the possibility (Certainty!) of getting lost, and it might take three hours.  Allow time for meet and greet, and another four-hour drive to Detroit – it was going to be a lonnng day, so we were up and ready to leave early.

I lamented to the checkout clerk that there was no way to get around the potential traffic jam.  “Oh sure there is.  Just go to the edge of town and turn north on Ohio 23.  It’ll take you right to Newcomerstown.”  Sure enough, the flat print map showed a gently curving line, sweeping at a tangent, right to where we wanted to go.

The Map is not the Territory.  I’d have done better, both on the car, and on the wife, to have chanced the backup on the Interstate.  Any resemblance between Ohio 23, and an actual highway, was purely coincidental.  The optimistic hour and a half stretched to well over two hours.  Not once in that time did I drive the car faster than 40 MPH.

The Golden Dragon roller-coaster at Six Flags might have had more twists, and stomach-turning, heart-stopping plunges.  The only thing that narrow little road didn’t have, was a loop-the-loop, and I’m not entirely certain of that.  The poor wife was shaken and rattled in every arthritic joint.  She ached!

Miss GPS was having another snit because I insisted on taking the back road.  She wouldn’t even RECALCULATE, and kept insisting that I return to the Interstate, so we turned her off.  As we slid under I-77, and neared John’s house, I turned her back on again.

“Turn right on Highway 21, and immediately left on County road 49.”  Well, that might take us in the back way, but I know that John lives just off Highway 93, so I proceeded further west.  Sure enough, in 3 more kilometers, she said, “Turn right on 93, and proceed 7.2 km.”  There, she ordered me to, “Turn left on Highway 2.”  It was a gravel road, barely wide enough for an Amish wagon, so I proceeded further north – till the paved highway ran out, and I turned onto the far end of “Highway 2.”

Lost and Confused Signpost

 

 

 

If I thought I was lost yesterday, the Hell was just beginning.  Already off ‘the paved road’, we soon left gravel again for a dirt road, and finally, in the middle of a ten or twelve mile loop, drove across an acre of grass field, with two ruts in it.  If the Amish drive their buggies this way, they have to use mares or geldings, because a stallion would high-center.  All I could hear was my new $400 muffler going clang, clang, clang.

We finally reached paved road again, the correct paved road, as it happens.  I turned north, and soon reached a church and a cheese factory which I knew were north of John.  Turn around and head south again, soon we finally reached John’s little cluster of houses.

After three hours without a rest stop, both of us had to go – badly.  There’s no There, there.  I pulled in, and asked the lady who runs the two-pump gas station/convenience store/bait, tackle, and hunting shop, about a public washroom.  She just looked at me strangely, until the bearded stunt co-ordinator for Duck Dynasty explained to her that, “Some peoples is got they privies inside t’ buildin’s.”

Rednecks

 

 

 

 

With the possible exception of BrainRants, I swear never to turn off the paved road again.  These folks are so off the beaten track, that Friday the thirteenth doesn’t occur until Sunday.  A lot of them are happy when they reach 21 – because not just everyone’s IQ goes that high out there.  When John and his wife moved in, the average rose considerably, but the same could be said about a load of pumpkins.

After the pit stop, we met John and his wife at their impressive country mansion, and were warmly welcomed, but that, again, is a story for another day.  We left John’s place and turned south on 93.  It did not, at all, resemble the road we’d driven north on.  It did resemble the Highway 93 I’d used Google Street-View to research.

When we popped back out onto the east/west feeder highway, I turned back east and, only a couple of miles up the road, I found County Road 93.  This was the one that Evil Ethel Snitfit had led me astray on.  Way to go, Ohio, put two roads, both numbered 93, right beside each other.  No wonder Rants badmouths Nohio.  😦

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Six

Old Jalopy

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Lost In Thought – And Other Places

The muffler shop manager holding our car for ransom, called early. After trading retirement financial security for a ride back to Canada, we had our treasured transportation back to the motel by 10 AM.  Now we were ready to attend the knife show, at 1 o’clock.

The drive to the knife show was 44 km/26 miles. Halfway there, work crews had two matching bridges down to one lane each.  With the usual assholes rushing up as far as they could, before cutting someone off, by the time we got there, the two-lane, bumper-to-bumper backup on the Interstate was five miles.  By the time we returned from the show, the parking lot was ten miles long.

Cracker Barrel Sign

 

 

 

 

The wife decided that we needed some sustenance before reaching the venue. She had been eyeing Cracker Barrel signs since Erie, PA.  At the exit before ours, there was another one, so, up we went.  Little Miss GPS was not happy.  RECALCULATING!  Turn around. Turn right, now! Get back on the Interstate or I’ll smack you.  We turned her off, and wound up having lunch at Denny’s, saving Cracker Barrel for supper.

Residents either knew exactly where we were from, or couldn’t point to Canada (and maybe even Ohio) on a map. Our server at Denny’s had both her maternal grandparents come from Paisley, a little village of 900, 80 miles north of Kitchener, where my brother lives.  He probably bought their old house.

We had seen TV promos for a movie called Ouija, where the game pointer is inhabited by a malevolent spirit. I didn’t believe in such silliness – until Ethel the evil GPS struck.  Perhaps she was angry because she was ignored, and turned off while we lunched.

When we turned her back on, she quickly got us to the next exit. The ramp comes up to a T-intersection.  My memory from a trip there almost ten years ago, said that we turned right, but Ethel insisted that we turn left, and drive 6.7 km.  Turn left on this highway (?), then turn right on this county road. (It’s a farmer’s lane!)

I knew we were in trouble when we passed under the Interstate, and were south of it.  Turn off the paved road??! We left pavement for gravel road, and ran off gravel onto dirt road.  We finally looped around, right back to where we started, and she insisted that we turn left again. Oh no you don’t! We turned her off, and I turned right.

I drove for several miles, but now I was spooked. I didn’t see the Civic Center.  I did see a gas station, with a State Trooper, so I pulled in and asked him.  I admitted that I was a dumb, lost tourist, and where was this venue?  He leaned to his left, and pointed just past the big tree, around the bend.  Damn!  Damn!  Damn!!  I gotta get these glasses retreaded.

After recovering from our adventure in the wilderness, the knife show was a dismal failure. AFrankAngle didn’t miss a thing.  Apparently the Ohio Knifemakers’ Guild had a little schism, and the clique responsible for advertising and promoting the show, took their toys and went home.

Two of the makers were amazed that I’d even heard of it, in Canada, and drove all the way to attend. One maker packed it in at the end of Friday, and refused to return Saturday.  Only about half the expected displayers showed up, not including any of the fancier makers.

The show was about half-size, and so was the paying-customers crowd(?). There were a few ‘purveyors’ – collectors with a display of other people’s knives they were anxious to unload.  There were a few Suppliers, with grinding wheels, sanding belts, and handle materials – and damned few makers to sell them to.  There was only one ‘rusty jackknife’ display.  One maker was selling para-cord bracelets that his kids had made.  One maker’s wife had added some small knitted items, and etched drinking glasses, to expand the display

There were to have been door-prize draws, every hour, on the hour.  There was one, just as we arrived at 2:20 PM, but I didn’t hear any others before we left, a couple of hours later.  With so few ‘good’ knives, I took only a few photos.  They include a dagger with dyed, stabilized Maple-wood handle, and a couple of shots of a Japanese-style Katana.

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SDC10667

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Horse Knives is a production team of a husband, his wife, and a friend. Using production-line methods, they had dozens of well-made, but uninspiring, hunters and skinners, suitable for the local outdoor crowd.

Since the guys work with wood for the handles, they’ve also acquired enough carpentry skills to build an 8 foot long miniature battlement to display their wares. Like my Rapunzel post, they included a tower with hair streaming down.  I thought it might have come from the center of the V-shaped beard on the friend.  The wife told me that it cost her a knife at the Atlanta show, but she got it from a 12-year-old girl attendee – with her parents’ knowledge and permission.

SDC10671

One artisan – not maker – took factory-made knives and removed the handle material, and replaced it with the State stone, Ohio Flint. Cute, but so what?

Back to the motel, a home-style supper at Cracker Barrel, a little shopping at the plaza, and a good night’s sleep to rest up for the Erickson Expedition. Wanna know how it turns out?  You know where the Archon’s Den is!  See you soon.  😀