Flash Fiction #142

Walk The Walk

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

WALK THE WALK

Bobby liked his father as a child. He loved his Dad, as a young boy could.  He spent a lot of time with him over the years – rather, his Dad spent a lot of time with him.

He never idolized his Dad, never thought of him like Ward Cleaver, or Father Knows Best. He was just always there, an ordinary, work-a-day kind of guy.

Now that he was grown, and had a wife and children of his own, he saw the many things, great and small, that his father had quietly, competently done.

He had some big shoes to fill.

***

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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Flash Fiction #73

Gutter

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E. Ayr

NEFARIOUS NEGATION

He surreptitiously followed her as she tottered out of the bar into the dark.  The cheap booze and clunky heels made her bodycheck a couple of buildings before stumbling left onto East 48th Street

He mustn’t lose this one.  She’d be SO enjoyable!  As he quickly sidled toward the corner, he could hear/feel a vibration – a deep hum.  A bright, blue-white light bathed the intersection.

When both had died away, he cautiously poked his head around the corner, to see only an empty street – no, there, in the gutter.  Now where had that drunk bitch gone with only one shoe?

***

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

***

I extend a wish for a happy and joyous Thanksgiving to all my American readers.  Enjoy, but watch out for DUIs and too much turkey.  After the fuss raised about Starbucks’ ‘War On Christmas’, which is really Commercial, not Christian, I was pleased to see last evening, TV ads for three large store chains who are staying closed for Thanksgiving day.

Elementary

Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes – Elementary Dear Watson

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip, set up their tent, and fall asleep. Some hours later, Holmes wakes his faithful friend.

– Watson, look up and tell me what you see.

Watson replies, – I see millions of stars.

– What does that tell you?

Watson ponders for a minute. – Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.
Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.
Timewise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three.
Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant.
Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?

Holmes is silent for a moment, then speaks. –
Watson, you’re an idiot, someone has stolen our tent.

***

You’re not going to believe this!

A woman got a problem with her closet door – it was falling every time a bus was passing by. So she called a repair man. The repairman comes and sees that indeed, the door falls out every time when a bus passes by. “OK, I am gonna see what is going on, just close the door behind me” and he steps into the closet.

At that time the husband comes home from work, opens the closet and finds the repairman.
Husband: “What the hell are you doing here?”
Repairman: “Well, you are not going to believe it, but I am waiting for a bus!”

***

Who am I?

Night.
A sleeping couple is lying in a bed.
Door bell rings.
The couple wakes up.
Woman: “Quick! My husband is back!”
Man jumps out of a window.
On the way down, he starts to think: “Shit, I am the husband!”

***

Shoe repair shop

Arnold and his wife were cleaning out the attic one day when he came across a ticket from the local shoe repair shop. The date stamped on the ticket showed that it was over eleven years old. They both laughed and tried to remember which of them might have forgotten to pick up a pair of shoes over a decade ago.

“Do you think the shoes will still be in the shop?” Arnold asked.

“Not very likely,” his wife said.

“It’s worth a try,” Arnold said, pocketing the ticket. He went downstairs, hopped into the car, and drove to the store.

With a straight face, he handed the ticket to the man behind the counter. With a face just as straight, the man said, “Just a minute. I’ll have to look for these.” He disappeared into a dark corner at the back of the shop.

Two minutes later, the man called out, “Here they are!”

“No kidding?” Arnold called back. “That’s terrific! Who would have thought they’d still be here after all this time.”

The man came back to the counter, empty-handed. “They’ll be ready Thursday,” he said calmly.

***

It Beggars the Imagination

“Can you spare some change?” a beggar asks a passerby.
“No, I know you’re going to spend it all on vodka.”
“No, sir, I don’t drink.”
“Then you’ll gamble it away.”
“No, I don’t gamble either, sir.”
“Well then, you’re going to spend it on women.”
“No, sir, I don’t spend money on women.”
“Okay,” the passerby finally agrees, finally. “I’m going to give you $100 if you come with me. I want to show my wife an example of what can happen to a man who has no bad habits.”

Flash Fiction # 16

If The Shoe Fits

parked

“I want you to take me out shopping.  I need a new pair of shoes for Susan’s daughter’s wedding.”

More shoes??!  Imelda Marcos used to borrow from you.” was the first thing he thought – not the first thing he said.  That was, “Yes, dear.”

Perhaps the comment he made after the fourth – or was it the fifth? – shop, wasn’t entirely enthusiastic.  She’d become a bit curt.

“Fine then, you don’t have to come in.  Just wait for me here.  I won’t be long.”

Right….he’d just glimpsed The Count of Monte Cristo in the mirror, all long straggly beard and hair.

 

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

 

Flash From The Past

Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and, as a good Scot, I did my part. I didn’t see anyone wearing plaid for Robbie Burns’s day, but was inveighed to “wear something green for St. Paddy’s Day.” Contrary to what a lot of you perverts think, Scotsmen do (usually) wear something under their kilts. They’re wee under-shorts known as breeks (breeches, britches).

I wore green underpants for St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps appropriately, I think I got some brown stains on them. Ooh, ooh, TMI! Tighty whiteys or boxers, I hear you ask, just to change the subject. A bit familiar, I think, but if you must know, I’ve worn YSL bikini briefs in many colors, for years.

English people, who already think they own the world, don’t bother to establish “a special day.” Scotsmen have Robbie Burns’ day, in honor of a lyric poet, whose deep thoughts and social insights were acceptable, even though they were written in dialect, as Mark Twain’s were.

Irishmen have St. Patrick’s Day, the cultural highlight of which, is drinking green beer. The local hotel bars used to add green food coloring to beer on St. Paddy’s day. An Irishman I used to share lodging with, ignored everything else on that day, and spent it sucking up this dyed delicacy. He got a job an hour’s drive away. The first St. Patrick’s day, I got a phone-call that he was in town, because the bars in his new city didn’t serve green beer. I’ll tell you more about him later.

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, although he was Roman-English, not Irish. His name was not Patrick, or Patricius, or Padraig, and many of the stories about “him” were actually about another Roman-English missionary named Palladius. Other than these minor details, the Catholic Church has the story spot-on.

Well….except for the snakes. Separated from the rest of dry land by a big chunk of ocean, Ireland never had snakes for Patrick to drive out. The “snakes” he drove out were the non-Christian heathens. He drove them either into the embrace of the Holy Church, or their graves. Fire and Sword, the methods he used caused the later Inquisition practitioners to remark, “Whoa dude! Take a chill pill. Too intense, man.”

“Heathens” and “Pagans”, these derogatory epithets, even today, allow the faithful to judge and condemn. But “heathens” merely means those who live upon the heaths, subsistence farmers, or shepherds. “Pagans” comes from the Latin word paganus, peasants, rural civilians, dwellers in small, remote villages. The actions and attitudes of these country bumpkins, who merely wished to be left alone, to live their lives as they wanted, were at odds with the Big-City, corporate, Christian religion. They were converted, or eliminated.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on another anti-Church rant. I was quoted/mentioned in the newspaper again this Saturday. Blogs are not the only things that I read and comment on. There’s a feature in each Saturday paper, titled the same as this post. A columnist, interested in this city’s and area’s history, publishes a photo, usually 50 years old or better, and asks people to identify locations and buildings, now often torn down or greatly modified.

I first emailed him several years ago, when he wrote of a local company which had moved 75 miles north, to a small town I passed through when I drove to visit my parents. I wrote about the pretty little park there, April 5, last year, in my Trips With Mom and Dad II. While near a county line, it is definitely in my home county, but he gave it to our neighbors.

Some of the buildings/locations he has featured over the years have been a reflection of my work history. A couple of years ago he published a picture of the above-ground entranceway to the underground bomb-shelter I cleaned once a week for a year, back in the 80s. He included part of the description, both of the facility, and my work in it, which I sent him.

About six months ago, he featured a picture of the steel warehouse/fabricating shop I worked in from ’67 to ’74, out on the edge of town. Just off the photo were the stockyards and farmers’ market. Urban sprawl now has the area covered with gas stations, golden arches, sub and pizza shops. The smelly old cattle were moved to the north end of our Twin City, where we now attend the farmers’ market.

Some of my information was not included in his piece, but he thanked me for it, because it gave him enough knowledge to ask the right people the right questions for future columns. Last Saturday’s mystery photo, and this week’s article, were about the shoe plant I worked in before I went to the steel plant in 1967.

“*Archon* Smith emailed to say he worked at the Valentine plant for a year in the mid-1960s.” “We knew it colloquially as the Hush Puppy plant, because that was where the comfortable, suede-topped, soft-gummed soled ankle-high shoes were made.” Smith wrote. He later moved to a job at Bauer Skate on Victoria Street, a firm Greb Industries acquired in 1965.

I loved Hush Puppies. We could buy seconds for less than half price, at the warehouse, but fashion, and my job, moved on. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. So much of my life is about the past, because I own such a large chunk of it. Try not to point and laugh. I hope you find it mildly interesting and informative.

Name That Occupation

Since I did a post about what’s in a name, I decided to do another about names, from a different perspective.  In my preoccupation with word meanings and etymology (history), I once made the unfounded claim that English surnames which ended in “er” were descriptions of what ancestors did for a living.  While mainly true, there are a few which aren’t.

Thayer (or Tayer) means descendant of an Anglo-Saxon lord named Theodoric.  He gave his name to the Thay (Tay) river in the south of Scotland, so a Thayer was anyone who lived within its catchment.  The name Newcomer, mostly shortened to Newcomb, is obvious.

Since few people are as fascinated with the language as I am, I am not surprised that folks often don’t know the history and meanings of words they (mis)use every day.  I am somewhat surprised that so few people know the origins of their family name.  When the census-takers for the Domesday Book came around in the late 11th century, what people did for a living often became their identification.

Language, spelling and technology drift have often concealed to modern folk, how their distant relatives made a buck….or a thruppence.  Baker and Fisher are still obvious.  A Bower bowed to his betters, because he was a general servant.  A Bowyer, on the other hand, was in the lord’s militia.  Bowman is the more modern equivalent, without the “er”.  While we’re playing with bows and arrows, Archer shot them, and (Jessica) Fletcher put the feathers on them.

A Walker walked/trod on soaking newly woven cloth, to felt (thicken) it.  A Turner ran a woodworking lathe.  A Parker maintained the lord’s park, and a Palmer had been a pilgrim to the Holy Land (palm trees).  Coopers originally fabricated small crates like pigeon coops, or chicken coops.  Later they specialized in cylinders with curved sides, and became barrel-makers.

Chandlers started by making/selling candles.  When sea-faring trade grew, ships required many candles, and those who provided them branched out to providing all things needed for ocean voyages, and the name Chandler came to mean “ship provisioner.”

People sometimes ask if a butler, buttles.  The king who ordered the Domesday census was French, and some English names came from French.  Originally, a butler was a “bouteillier”, the wine steward.  As the job expanded, he became a gentleman’s gentleman. Frankly, Rhett wouldn’t have given a damn.  That same linguistic drift has turned the likes of the Anglo-Saxon Farnsworth, into the frog Phaneuf.

At a meeting of the Kitchener council, some years ago, a suggestion was made that a particularly thorny problem be referred to Weaver, Tanner and Miller.  One of the dimmer lights on the council objected to letting “a bunch of tree-hugging artisans” have a look at private city business.  Someone had to explain that they were a well-known and respected consulting firm.  It’s just that their ancestors wove cloth, made leather, and ground grain, respectively.

Tanner’s cousin, Cordwainer, made specialty Cordovan leather, and like the Chandler expansion above, decided to make shoes from it.  A cordovaner became a shoe-maker named Cordwainer.  His partner, Cobbler, has almost as rare a name.

There are many occupation names which don’t end in “er.”  A Wright was someone who fabricated something; therefore the description is playwright, not playwrite.  Wrightson was his kid.  A wagon maker was a Wainwright, and Little Joe Cartwright made little carts.  Carter was the guy who was the medieval FedEx, making quick deliveries in his small, agile vehicle.

Like our neighbors, the Wrights, we Smiths produced things too.  I am happy that, as a minor writer and language-lover, I can describe myself as a wordsmith.  The family names Goldsmith and Silversmith came into being, but are reserved almost exclusively for Jews.  In direct opposition to the Chandlers, our job scale reduced until the only Smiths were the guys pounding on hot iron.

One reason the name Smith is so common is that every city, town and village, no matter how small, had a guy wielding Thor’s hammer.  Another reason is that semi-literate immigration officials, faced with a name with 27 consonants and no vowels, just put down SMITH.  An ethnic-Chinese co-worker, with the Thai name Phoumey Siamanotham, had an Immigrations official tell him, “Your name is long,” so he opened bank accounts and got a job under the name Long.

My name Smith came from the Anglicizing of Schmidt, but, before spelling rules became quite so rigid, Smidt, Smit, and Schmit also existed.  They all came from the Middle-German name Schmeid, which carried the connotation of heavy fabricator, a blacksmith rather than a shoemaker.  Not surprisingly, its partner, the German name Bender, means light fabricator.  The forebears of the actor Michael Fassbender were Master Fabricators.

What about you, my gentle readers?  Do you have, or do you know anyone with, an occupation name?  Have you ever thought about it?