Flash Fiction #280

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

UNFOUNDED OPINIONS

Once, I was concerned about what other people thought, and thought of me – principals, parents, politicians, priests and preachers.  When I grew older and wiser – and entered elementary school – I realized that, no matter how smart they are, everyone has one blind spot, where their grip on reality is tenuous at best.  The further from reality, the more desperate and strident they are.

Because I would not blindly accept her religious claims, a Christian therapist suddenly accused me of watching porn and masturbating.  Her problem is not my problem.  I did not descend to insults.  I merely rose above hers.

***

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

’21 A To Z Challenge – U

 

 

I want to believe as many true things, and as few false things, as I can.
I want my internal, mental world-view to match observed reality as closely as possible.

The wife claims that, in the last 5 or 10 years, I have become intolerant and nasty toward religion and Christianity.

I think that it’s just that I’ve been more and more exposed to people who believe – and want me to believe – religious positions based on observably false claims, and I’m just getting more chances to express my discontent.

The wife’s Catholic Father died of cancer when she was 13.  He was sick for 5 years.  His teen-aged children cared for him for a year, but he was moved to the Catholic hospital, and given palliative care for 3 years.  Hospices did not exist back then, and hospitals finally realized that they could not afford to take up space with someone who would not recover.  He was discharged, to die at home.

At the end of the fifth year, he was terminal.  Four times, the local Catholic priest had to put on his cassock, and come over in the middle of the night, to give him last rites.  The first time, he rallied.  Two weeks later, the priest was back with another serving of last rites.  Again, he rallied.  Two weeks later, the tired priest made a third late-night house-call.  Once more, he rallied, but the end was inevitable.

The wife told me that, on his final visit, the priest gave her Father, not the last rites, but

EXTRA MUNCTION

I had been exposed in my youth to Baptist, Presbyterian, United, Pentecostal and Anglican, but not much Catholic.  I knew that The Church had all kinds of rites and rituals, and amulets, and potions, and spells, but I’d never heard of MUNCTION.  I asked, “What the Hell is munction?  Why did he need any, much less, extra??  Is it some kind of herbal remedy, or an opiate to ease his suffering??”

“I don’t know, but he must have needed it, because the priest gave him some extra.”   😯

Years later, I was reading a book about a Catholic who was dying, and the priest attended him, to give him

Extreme UNCTION

noun Roman Catholic Church.
anointing of the sick.
From: unction
an act of anointing, especially as a medical treatment or religious rite.
an unguent or ointment; salve.
something soothing or comforting.

I can’t fault the wife.  Shortly after that, she left the Church because she asked questions that they wouldn’t/couldn’t answer, so she didn’t get the complete indoctrination into the arcane, magical, mystical, mythical, mumbo-jumbo.  I have talked to other people who have been Catholics all their lives, but are no better informed about the Church’s tenets and ceremonies.  From the wife’s aggressive defense, even half a century later, I don’t think that she’s shed all the propaganda, but has obvious discomfort at my criticisms and doubts.

I am strangely reminded of the ‘60s British comedy movie, Carry On Doctor, which revolves around a hospital ward, with 8 stereotypical English males.  One is the brash, loud-mouthed know-it-all, who irritates fellow patients and staff alike.  Finally, a long-suffering nurse tells him to roll on his stomach, and get up on his knees.  She is going to take his temperature rectally.

He hoists his butt into the air, and something slender, round and cool is inserted.  Almost immediately, The Matron enters the ward, and demands to know from him, why his jiggly bits are hanging out in the breeze.  He says, “Have you never seen a man having his temperature taken?”  She replies, “Yes.  Many times.  But never with a daffodil!”   😯  😳  Just go along with it, because someone who claims to have authority, tells you to do something ultimately meaningless, no matter how foolish you look in the end.

It is difficult to take Christian Apologists, and their claims and arguments, seriously, when it appears obvious that there is something going on behind their…. back, and they have no idea that it’s happening, or what it is.

Flash Fiction #267

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

WHY IS A MOUSE WHEN IT SPINS?

Please ensure mind is in motion before engaging mouth.

I’m tryin’ to think, but nuthin’s happenin’!

Did I actually have my shit together in my youth, and only now is it coming unravelled quicker than a knitted sock the cat found?

Or was I always this spun, and I have just finally achieved clarity?

Old age is like waking from an epic drunk, on someone else’s couch.  It takes at least an hour for reality to come into sharp focus.

Do not operate heavy any equipment while under the influence.  Squirrel-brain is normal.  Afternoon naps are a proven effective treatment.

***

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

Flash Fiction #253

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast  

FREE BIRD

It is so comforting to Know – to know no doubts – to have all the answers, even when they are not the right ones.

People feel safe when they can identify – apply labels to others – politics, religion, gender, language, nationality.  It gives the illusion of control of their lives.

Other folks, and their related social problems, are complex, and fully-formed.  They are not easy, one-dimensional, cookie-cutter simple.

It is usually better to make decisions and form opinions based on reality, rather than preconceived notions.  More people should try it.  They might find those feared – and hated – Others…. are quite sweet.

***

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

Get A Grip

I have a gripe with English.  It is said that a man with a watch always knows what time it is.  A man with two watches is never sure.  For a word with one meaning, or even several established meanings, I know what is meant.  For words which keep adding, subtracting, and modifying meanings, I am less and less sure what is meant.

The word ‘grip’ originally meant, a grasp, a grab, a hold, by a person’s hand.  Recently, technology has included machines.  Once upon an archaic, the words ‘grip’ and ‘gripe’ meant the same thing.  (Don’t ask me why.  I can’t get a hold on it.)  Now grip can mean a small suitcase with a handle, which can be grasped and carried by one hand.  Gripe can be a nagging complaint by someone who may not have a firm grip on reality.

At one time, ‘grippe’, which is pronounced grip, but which is neither grip nor gripe, was the word to identify influenza, the ordinary, seasonal, gastro-intestinal flu,’ a kinder, gentler, distant relative to COVID.  “Grippe” could cause abdominal cramps, especially among babies and young children.

To alleviate these symptoms, “Grippe Water” was developed and marketed.  My mother dosed me with it several times.  The original formula contained alcohol and sugar in addition to sodium bicarbonate and dill oil – a couple of stomach calmers, some calories to replace what might have been lost to the illness, and a mild sedative to aid with sleeping.  It was once said that the best remedy for a colicky baby, was a good, thick, oak door.

Then the All-Or-Nothing, Save Us From Ourselves, Snowflakes got a grip on it, and removed all the “bad” ingredients, so present-day products do not contain alcohol or sugar, but may contain fennel, ginger, chamomile, cardamom, licorice, cinnamon, clove, dill, lemon balm or peppermint, depending on the formula.

Grippe’ was what caused the cramping, but ‘gripe’ is the term for the actual clutching, grasping intestinal pain.  Since the formula was changed, the name has also been changed.  ‘Grippe Water’ is no more, and the new product is ‘Gripe Water.’  That’s only one of the English terms that I have a gripe about.  😯

Flash Fiction #221

Corona

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

FEAR SELLS

Danger! Danger, all about
Run in circles! Scream and shout!

Dig a hole, and pull it in after you.

‘Dog bites man’ doesn’t sell.
‘Man bites dog’ sells.

A man shoots up a brewery. Five are killed. Eight are wounded. What’s on the news?
One person in the US died of the corona virus.”

A man in Philadelphia is found with three assault rifles, a sniper rifle, three handguns, and 20,000 rounds of ammunition – and a cruise ship is refused docking in three countries because one crewman has the sniffles.

Stock up two weeks’ worth, and don’t leave the house.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site – apply hand sanitizer when you arrive, and again when you leave – and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Sorry! Once again, this is not so much Fiction, as sad reality – a truncated rant about how we are distracted, and distract ourselves, from far more important things. (Has Khloe Kardashian released a new makeup line?) Even firearms fatalities, as unfortunate and heart-wrenching as they may be, are massaged and manipulated. Ten times as many people are killed in traffic accidents, as in gun deaths, yet we hear no hue and cry to ban automobiles, outlaw Hummers, or confiscate pickup trucks.

Eh?? Did you have a comment? I wasn’t paying attention. ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes died when his steam rocket crashed.

’19 A To Z Challenge – Kludge

Calipers

Three Laws Of Practical Engineering
Force to fit
File to hide
Paint to cover

At the steel fabricating plant where I once worked, the difference between a welder, and a welder/fitter, was a ten-pound sledgehammer. Those storage tanks always fit.

Kludge

Noun – a software or hardware configuration that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task.

Verb – the atypical act or action of achieving such a goal

Coined 1960/65 by American author Jackson W. Granholm.

Too often, ivory-tower engineers design things for the perfect, optimum conditions, and ignore reality. If you design something to be foolproof, someone will design a bigger fool. As James Bond said to Q, in one of the movies, “There’s a lot of wear and tear goes on out in the field.”

The concept of ‘Kludge’ indicates an open and adaptive mind, instead of one bounded by unchanging rules and regulations. Larry the Cable Guy may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but you have to admire his Git ’er done philosophy.

I got this challenge done, and I’ve got a couple more, ready to post soon. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

The Need For Myths

Fairy Tale

Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our story. We all need to understand death and to cope with death, and we all need help in our passages from birth to life and then to death.

It may really not be possible to do away with myths. The myth is as much a part of the human need as the allure of it. Even when one does not want to, there will come a time when a person feels the need for a story. This inner need expresses itself as a search, or as a desire. It may come early in life or it may come late. Nevertheless, a person who thinks, is bound to realize a sense of emptiness. Nothing but a story could fill it. All a person would want or hope for is to find a good story, and then, live it.

Finding one’s myth

This is where one person differs from another. It’s easy to understand. What isn’t easy to understand is always, why one person chooses one story to understand his reality, while someone else chooses another. It is to be understood that: Till the time a person finds the story – the myth – that satisfyingly explains his existence and gives purpose to his mind, his soul, the power within is still not released. It is looking for its expression. The myth provides the expression. Only then, when one goes deep into his personal myth, is it no longer just a story, but life itself. Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.

Every culture ought to provide a satisfying myth to the people it holds – one might say – captive. Yes, cultures hold at least some persons captive, while the vast majority are simply organized by it. This is what we understand to be a society. Is that not true? The exceptional individuals of society – the artists, the searchers, the thinkers, and the visionaries – if they succeed in finding their creativity-unlocking-myth, will then become the heroes and the leaders. They may even one day become legends that others recall with some fondness and some fear.

Book Review #17

Dark Matter

It is no paradox that I like to read stories about paradoxes. In my list of books read in 2016, I included several time-travel novels. More recently, my Book Review #16 – The Whenabouts of Burr, was not really about time travel, but a voyage across parallel, but slightly different versions of Earth.

I recently read another alternate Earth novel. It was

The book: Dark Matter

The author: Blake Crouch

The review: This book is also about alternate Earths/Universes. The narrator is a man who might have been a great physicist, married to a woman who might have been a great artist. Instead, he is a university science professor, and she runs a graphic design studio out of their home, as they raise a beloved 10-year-old son.

He is kidnapped by Himself from a parallel existence, who never married or had a family, but instead invented/designed a device to make this transposition possible. He is thrust into the other’s frenetic life, while the imposter takes over his peaceful existence.

The ‘Burr’ book makes inter-dimensional travel possible by an electronic device that limits which realities are available. It is largely a discussion about social and political alternatives – USA vs. Russia vs. China – disguised in a roman a cléf.

This book is about infinity, quantum entanglement, and the definitions of ‘reality.’ The device is mostly an elevator-car-sized sensory deprivation chamber, because quantum theory says that merely observing an action, changes the outcome. Essentially, the traveller becomes Schrödinger’s cat. He got some help from a biologist friend who developed a serum that shuts down the section of the brain that accepts the remaining input.

Instead of electronic controls, where you end up when you open the door is controlled by the psyche, the subconscious. You go where you unconsciously want or feel to go. It takes him several months, in and out of the box, to train his mind to return to where he started from.

Just when the reader thinks that it is “Happily Ever After” time, the writer throws another curve-ball at reality. While there is only one ‘his world’, and ‘his wife’, and ‘his son’ to return to, decisions that he made during the months that he was gone, caused other versions of him to split off, and 110 of them return, most of them ready to kill to get the prize. How do you surprise, outthink, and win out over yourself??

I found that this was a great, thought-provoking Science Fiction novel, about something that may become science fact in the all-too-near future. What are you reading? 😕

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