Flash Fiction #205

Memory

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

I’VE GOT A GREAT MEMORY: IT’S JUST REALLY SHORT

Now what was I going downstairs for?? I’d better go back up to the kitchen to find out.

Why am I in the kitchen? I was supposed to be going downstairs for…. something….

Senior citizens’ memories are not necessarily faulty, often just overfull – recollection upon recollection – experience after experience.

Science fiction offers us a future when we might upload our consciousness to a computer. Might be a good idea. Occasionally run a de-frag – do a sort and delete. I don’t need to remember that Bobby peed himself in First Grade. Where is that cake mix we bought the other day?

Black Forest Cake

***

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

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Involuntary Loner

Grumpy

I lost my brother recently. Thanx for the condolences, but he’s still alive. I just don’t know where the Hell he is.

I am content to be surrounded only by immediate family, and a tiny group of online friends. This is a cautionary tale about seniors growing older, isolated and alienated from society. (Visit your Grandma in the home!)

My grandson is getting married, and we tried to invite my brother to the wedding. His landline number had been disconnected, and his cell phone number had been assigned to someone else.

My daughter contacted his daughter through Facebook, and a sad, protracted tale of woe came to light. He had turned into a grumpy old man with no friends, although it wasn’t clear whether he was grumpy because he had no friends, or had no friends because he was so grumpy – perhaps a bit of both.

His wife left him and divorced him some years ago. He moved 25 miles, to a small village, to be near his older daughter. Within a year, she disappeared, moving out without telling anyone where she went.

The younger daughter admitted that she had been preoccupied with kids going into teenage-hood, and a small, retail business that she runs. His old buddy, “24 beers in a case/24 hours in a day” Norm, hadn’t stopped in to see him in over 5 years. We didn’t improve things, because, despite the wife’s nagging gentle reminders, I hadn’t phoned him in almost 3 years.

He had a lady friend-with-benefits for several years, but he was retired, with time to drive to Florida, and spend some time there in the winter. She had just started a home-cleaning business, with a growing list of clients, who she couldn’t leave hanging, so she also left him.

He had a guy that he’d gone to school and worked with, who would split on gas and motel rooms to attend curling bonspiels in Ottawa, and North Bay. But he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and brother finally called him a God-damn asshole, and dumped him.

There was a pair of male twins his age who used to give him some time, but neither one was interested in curling, and no longer wanted to car-pool and drive 500 miles to watch a NASCAR race. He never read, and he didn’t own a computer.

There was mention of “some trouble with a neighbor” (or neighbors), and apparently what passed for a village council, couldn’t, or wouldn’t, solve his problem. Suddenly, one day, he put his house on the market, sold it and just moved away.

His younger daughter says that she knows physically where he is, and has a telephone number. When she found out about his decision, she tried to contact him. He felt betrayed and abandoned. He said, “Screw all of you! If you weren’t there for me when I needed you, I’m not going to be there for you. The Government knows where I am. The rest of you can go to Hell. I don’t want to be bothered. Don’t give my contact information to anyone.”

My Mother used to say, about his sulking moods, “He just wants to go out in the garden and eat worms.” I am sorry that he feels betrayed and abandoned, and the situation that he’s in. He and I have led very different lives. For obvious reasons, we were never close, but I’ll still miss him.

Hit And Run

BC Mountie

I was recently accused of hit and run – me, the most careful and courteous driver in North America…. well, in Canada anyway.

On December 27th – the last Thursday of the month, when senior citizens get a 10% discount – I took the son along to carry, and went to a pet-food store in a nearby strip mall, to get bags of cat and dog kibble.  I entered off the side street, and eased along the driveway toward the store, fourth in the line.

Looking ahead to my left, I spotted a parking space right in front.  Hooray!  Even for the son, those bags weigh 40 pounds each.  Just as I started to turn my steering wheel, a young mother exited the store with two little daughters, one about 5, and the other 2, in hand, and a tiny dog on a leash.  With her head down, and concentrating on them, she dragged them off the sidewalk and into the empty parking space.

I came to a stop.  Still without looking up, she marched them out past the ends of the parked cars, and into the driveway.  It was a good thing that there was no oncoming traffic.  The spot I wanted was to my left, and they were now crossing the driveway to my right, so I started rolling forward.

As I got about a third of the way around, still without looking up, she changed directions by 45 degrees, and started dragging the kids toward me.  I came to a stop again.  When she got within 5 or 6 feet of the side of the car – about level with the passenger-side front wheel well – peripheral vision must have alerted her to danger.  She looked up, saw me in front of her, and took a quick step back.

I waited for her to safely walk around the car.  👿  Suddenly, she exploded into profanity.  “What the fuck!  Where the Hell do you think you’re going?  You assholes don’t need to be in such a fucking hurry!”  I’m at a stop!  And nice language for impressionable young daughters.  Now, in the middle of a parking lot, she let go of the 2-year-old, and used her right hand/fist to pound her way down the body panels and windows, still screaming imprecations.

Well, that was interesting.  There was obviously no chance for calm discussion.  I’m crossways in the driveway, holding up cars that want to get in off the street, and now some that want to get past and out.  I (finally) rolled into the empty spot, and headed for the store.  “That’s it.  Just walk away and ignore me.”  She’s only angry because we’re not treating her as special.  As I pulled the door open, “I’m five and a half months pregnant you know.”  So that’s what set this off.  “I’m gonna call the cops on you guys.”

When we came out she was gone, and I thought the fuss was over.  We drove home.  I did a few chores.  A couple of hours later, the son was having a nap, and I was just thinking of having one too, when the doorbell rang.  Keeping the puppies from leaking out, I opened up.  There stood tall, dark and uniformed.  That entitled, emotional little bitch – she did call the cops.

“I imagine that you know why I’m here.”  I did.  “I’m here to investigate a collision in the parking lot at the plaza.”  I stopped him right there.  “There was no ‘collision.’  The only time my car came into contact with her body was when she stepped forward and assaulted my vehicle.”

They must teach new police officers a particular method of interrogation.  No-one could be that obtuse without training.  I explained my version of what happened.  “If you didn’t bump into her, why was she so upset?”  I am not psychologically qualified to give reasons why the sanest of us do the things we do.  “I don’t know – seasonal stress??  Parking lot rage?”

“She says she took a step backward.  If you didn’t bump into her, why would she do that?”  “She was startled!  She was frightened?  She was embarrassed that she’d put herself and her kids into danger?”  “She drove herself to the hospital.  If you didn’t bump into her, why would she do that?”  Really??!  With two little kids and a dog, she drove herself to emergency?  “She may have honestly thought that I’d bumped her, when she remembered striking my car.  Why would she make that claim?  My best guess is that she’s a drama queen.”  When I mentioned that she attacked my car, he asked, “She actually struck your vehicle?”  Yes officer, several times, quite hard!

The son had heard me talking to him, and came downstairs.  While I’d gone out to the car to get proof of insurance, he gave a corroborating statement.  When I stated that she might be a drama queen, he mentioned how she had screamed about being 5-1/2 months pregnant, and was going to call the cops on us.  He thought the incident might have been triggered by hormones.  There was a momentary hesitation in note-taking, as if she had also failed to mention these things in her statement.

He offered me once last chance to admit my guilt.  He said, “I guess if you thought that you’d actually bumped her, you wouldn’t have just driven off and left her?”  But I didn’t ‘just drive off and leave her,’ I went into the store and spent 5 to 10 minutes conducting business.  At no time did she follow me in, and in the presence of witnesses, claim that I had bumped into her, and what was I going to do about it.  When I came back out, she was gone.  “Uh, okay.”

Finally, he stated that he had to do an investigation into this occurrence, because there had been a formal complaint issued.  Since it had happened on private property, and no-one had been injured, (Then, why was there such a fuss raised??) no charges would be laid.

This is the third false accusation that has been made against me in just over ten years.  The son likes to watch dash-cam videos of accidents, often from Russia, ‘cause those drivers are CRAZY.  Perhaps it’s time to think about having one installed in my car.

Supermarket Psychology

 

Sriacha Sauce

 

Nah, I’m not gonna talk about how stores get you to buy stuff.  This is more a report on the amateur sport of people watching.  Since I can’t get home delivery of the Toronto Sun, I go out for it Monday to Friday.  There are closer places to pick it up, but I go to a supermarket a mile down the road, because they sell it 50 cents/copy cheaper, as a loss leader.  It’s also the store which installed carts which require a quarter, and I often get the paper free, or nearly so, by putting carts away.

Since I usually have only the one item, I stand in the “Express Lane” checkout line.  This store’s express lines are 12 items or less.  Occasionally I have to remind a clerk or a customer of that.  I stood in another store’s “8 Items or less” line one day behind an entitled bitch who checked out 28 items, for just over $73.  I asked the clerk whether she had trouble counting, or just trouble saying no.  “Well, sometimes when it isn’t busy….”  “There’s me, and four others behind me, all with one or two items.  I think that counts as busy.  Do you need help from the manager??”

Watching people checking out whole cart-loads of groceries is no fun.  They buy everything.  (Almost!)  The fun comes from seeing the one or two items that people absolutely, positively, need, right now, and trying to guess why.  In my first post, I wrote of an older gentleman standing in line with a small bottle of Scope mouthwash, and a pack of Certs gum.  I still think my guess of a hot date that night was a good one.

The wife was going to brown a frozen pie shell, and fill it with instant pudding, as a dessert.  A check in the freezer revealed three boxes of frozen tart shells, but no pie shells.  Quick, over to the store for a package of pie shells – I can see that.  I understand bread, milk, eggs, meat – but some of the rest???!

A woman this week checked out only one tiny bottle of Frank’s Red-Hot Sauce.  I guess if hubby expects chili for supper, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  A man the next day purchased seven (7!) small bottles of sliced olives.  Now why didn’t he buy one large jar??  Is it pizza day at school tomorrow?  So many questions!  So many chances to be told to mind my own F…. business.

I followed a couple of women out late one Friday afternoon.  I thought they might be more than just friends.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I was disabused of my suspicion, when the manlier of the two told her companion that one of the women she worked with, hoped the same thing.  She’d had to explain that, “No, no!  I don’t like girls.  I like guys.”

I thought of KayJai, and her parties.  Each of these gals checked out two 3-liter/quart jugs of Motts Caesar Mix.  The liquor store is just across the plaza.  A 40-ouncer of cheap Vodka apiece, and it’s on to a weekend to forget.

Just yesterday, a shopper left with two, liter bottles of hydrogen peroxide.  Somebody’s going blonde tonight.  I hope it’s somebody’s girlfriend, not the dark Chicano guy who bought them.  A 9-year-old boy, all by himself, checked out behind him with 9 individual Michelina frozen fettuccini meals.  Where are Mom and Dad?  Gone away for the weekend?  Or is the scout troop coming over?

A couple of the clerks are people-watchers like me, and are absolutely mesmerized by the stuff people rush in to pick up.  It’s like a floor-show, without the $8 cover charge and two drink minimum, although one clerk told me there are days she’d pay the eight bucks, and need the drinks.  Sometimes the combinations are, to say the least, intriguing.  One can of tomato paste, and a jug of drain cleaner – Hmmm, is hubby going to make it to tomorrow??

I hope that’s for a Boy Scout baking project.  Otherwise, how many kids do you have in your house, that you need four large boxes of Corn Flakes at three in the afternoon?  Shouldn’t you be buying milk with that?  A chocolate cake, and two mousetraps??  Just what are you trying to catch, hubby stealing a slice?

I was recently up unreasonably unusually early on a Saturday morning, to take the daughter and her friend to a strawberry festival to market their wares.  I stopped into my preferred supermarket shortly after 8 AM opening, and wound up in line  with a bunch of old people.  Huh?  Whazzat?  Who, me too?

The old codger in front of me checked out a jug of orange juice, and a spray can of Pledge furniture polish.  That dust can really sneak up on you.  The white-haired winner behind me had a round loaf of Portuguese bread, and what looked like a small slab of Feta cheese.

Ever nosy tactful, I asked, “Is that breakfast?”  “Oh yes!  Toast and cheese.”  Oh, great, something else to look forward to, not being able to think about things like eating, until hunger pangs hit.  Then they all go to the McDonalds across the street, and nurse a coffee till lunch time.  People-watching is fun.  Just ask the folks who watch me.

Memorandum

MEMORANDUM:

 

It has been brought to management’s attention that some individuals throughout the company have been using foul language during the course of normal conversation with their coworkers. Due to complaints received from some employees who may be easily offended, this type of language will no longer be tolerated.

We do however realize the critical importance of being able to accurately express your feelings when communicating with coworkers.  Therefore, a list of preferred new phrases has been provided so that proper exchange of ideas and information can continue in an effective manner without risk of offending our more sensitive employees.

 

PREFERRED: Perhaps I can work late.
OLD: When the fuck do you expect me to do this?

PREFERRED: I’m certain that is not feasible.
OLD: No fucking way.

PREFERRED: Really?
OLD: You’ve got to be shitting me.

PREFERRED: Perhaps you should check with …
OLD: Tell someone who gives a shit.

PREFERRED: Of course I’m concerned
OLD: Ask me if I give a shit.

PREFERRED: I wasn’t involved in that project.
OLD: It’s not my fucking problem.

PREFERRED: That’s interesting behavior.
OLD: What the fuck?

PREFERRED: I’m not sure I can implement this.
OLD: Fuck it, it won’t work.

PREFERRED: I’ll try to schedule that.
OLD: Why the fuck didn’t you tell me sooner?

PREFERRED: Are you sure this is a problem, Bill?
OLD: Who the fuck cares, asshole?

PREFERRED: He’s not familiar with the problem.
OLD: He’s got his head up his ass.

PREFERRED: Excuse me sir?
OLD: Eat shit and die motherfucker.

PREFERRED: So you weren’t happy with it?
OLD: Kiss my ass.

PREFERRED: I’m a bit overloaded at this moment.
OLD: Fuck it, I’m on salary.

PREFERRED: I don’t think you understand.
OLD: Shove it up your ass.

PREFERRED: I love a challenge.
OLD: This job sucks.

PREFERRED: You want me to take care of that?
OLD: Who the hell died and made you boss?

PREFERRED: I see.
OLD: Bite me.

PREFERRED: Yes, we really should discuss it.
OLD: Another fucking meeting.

PREFERRED: I don’t think this will be a problem.
OLD: I really don’t give a shit.

PREFERRED: He’s somewhat insensitive.
OLD: He’s a fucking prick.

PREFERRED: She’s an aggressive go-getter.
OLD: She’s a ball-busting bitch.

PREFERRED: I think you could use more training.
OLD: You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing.

***

Poetry Corner

MOODY BLUE

Breathe deep the gathering gloom.
Watch light fade from every room.
Pensitive people look back and lament,
Another day, uselessly spent.

Impassioned lovers wrestle as one.
Lonely man cries for love, and has none.
Senior citizens wish they had some.
New mother picks up and suckles her son.

Cold-hearted orb, that rules the night.
Removes the colors from our sight.
Red is grey, and yellow, white,
But we decide which is right.

And which, is an illusion….

***

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