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.

Musical Philosophy

I’ve heard that music has things to say.  Sometimes though, what it has to say is not all that nice.  I’ve recently paid attention to a couple of songs, and been disturbed.

Vocal group Home Free has redone Kenny Rogers’, The GamblerOn a warm summer’s evening, on a train bound for nowhere.  So, the gambler has no goal, no destination.  It seems like he left the last town one step ahead of ‘Resign or be prosecuted,’ or being tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.  He has no home, no family, and no friends.

He relies on the goodness of strangers.  He is so broke that he has no whiskey for anesthetic against the physical and psychological aches and pains.  He has to cadge cigarettes and doesn’t even have a 1¢ pack of paper matches to light them.  He manages to die alone, un-noticed, unloved, unmourned, yet the song holds him up as the epitome of a compelling source of life-style advice.

Even worse, Home Free does a cover of Boyz II Men’s End Of The Road.  Their arrangement and delivery make it sound great, until you actually listen to the lyrics.

Come to the end of the road
Still I can’t let go
It’s unnatural
You belong to me
I belong to you

Girl, I know you really love me
You just don’t realize
You’ve never been there before
It’s only your first time

Maybe I’ll forgive you
Maybe you’ll try
We should be happy together
Forever, you and I

The ‘she’ of this couple wisely wants the relationship to be over.  The obsessive, abuser boyfriend/husband is creepy and scary.  END OF THE ROAD I CAN’T LET GO – YOU BELONG TO ME – I BELONG TO YOU – MAYBE I’LL FORGIVE YOU – WE SHOULD BE HAPPY TOGETHER – FOREVER!   😯   👿

This isn’t a ‘Happy Ever After’ love song.  This is a murder/suicide plot – a prelude to stalking charges, restraining orders, and an application for a handgun permit.  Paul Anka never wrote shit like this, maybe because it’s hard to rhyme Psychotherapy.  😳

Then there’s their version of Travelling Soldier, where a young soldier, about to be shipped overseas, puts the moves on an adolescent, local girl before he leaves.  It says, So they went down, and they sat on the pier.  He said, “I bet you got a boyfriend, but I don’t care.”

This song was previously done by the all-female group, The Dixie Chicks, until Dixie got an injunction, preventing them from using that name.  Now they’re just The Chicks, like the Peeps.  I’ve seen a YouTube video of their concert presentation.   If you’re gonna play in Texas, Ya gotta have a fiddle in the band.  They got a fiddle, alright.  The catgut for the strings sounds like it’s still being pulled out of the cat.

Home Free do a cover of God Bless Texas, with the line – God blessed Texas with His own hand – and all proceeds from the performance of this song will go to aid the Billions of dollars of damage caused by hurricanes and floods, which they show in the video.  Couldn’t take much more of that blessing.

Stop back for some better music soon.  😀

Journey Into Hell

Retail Therapy – And How To Avoid It

I wrote three years ago, about driving almost two hours – one hour of it in some of Canada’s worst traffic – and the two-hour, mirror, return trip, to obtain a vintage IBM Selectric, golf-ball typewriter.  It did not work.

The wife was going to contact a repair shop in Hamilton, which claimed that they could repair it.  We bought a metal typing table for it, at an office-goods recycling shop.

We did not contact the repair shop.
The typing table takes up a bit of the rapidly dwindling free space in the garage.
I put it on a craft table, between two storage bins, by the window in the computer room.
The cats love it.  They use it as a stepping stone to bask in the sunlight.
I own a vintage paper weight.
Anybody want it??  Free to a good home.  “Good” defined as one that will take it.

Powerful One-Liners

If electronic devices can all just charge wirelessly….
….Then more power to them.

My friend kept asking me what my military rank was….
….But I told him it was Private.

Why did the optometrist set his clock to Army time?….
….Because he wanted to see 20:20

A soldier went into an enemy bar….
….He got bombed.

What do you call a Marine with an IQ of 160?….
….A platoon.

My high school basketball team didn’t have ice on the sidelines….
….The guy with the recipe graduated.

Remember, if you don’t sin….
….Jesus died for nothing.

I got fired from my job as a massage therapist….
….My boss said I rubbed people the wrong way.

Don’t ask me about my pan pizza….
….It’s personal

A friend asked, “Aren’t you afraid to eat at those food trucks?”….
….When I eat, it’s the food that’s scared.

Every place is within walking distance….
….If you have enough time.

What do you call a student who cheated on every test through medical school?….
….Hopefully, not your doctor.

I’d like a job cleaning mirrors….
….It’s something I could really see myself doing.

If electricity comes from electrons….
….Morality comes from morons.

I finally decided to start working out….
….I did 15 minutes of cardio, 15 minutes of strength training,  and three days of hospital.

What do you call a tiny mother?….
….A minimum.

My wife is taking our son to a child psychologist….
….He said he wants to grow up just like me.

To anybody who received a book from me at Christmas….
….They’re overdue at the library.

I’m glad I wasn’t born in Germany….
….Because I can’t speak German.

Whoever invented Knock, Knock jokes….
….Should get a no bell prize.

Someone once told me to search for inner peace….
….I’ve looked.  It isn’t in here.

Perfect One-Liners

A perfectionist walked into a bar….
….Apparently it wasn’t set high enough.

My professor accused me of plagiarism….
….His words, not mine.

During the COVID pandemic….
….Is not the time to surround yourself with positive people.

I’m in an open marriage….
….I just found out.

How do you stop a bull from charging?….
….You just unplug it.

The leading cause of dry skin….
….Is towels.

My wife and I had this long, pointless argument about which vowel is most important….
….I won.

People say that time is money….
….I don’t buy that for a second.

My wife asked if I had seen the dog bowl….
….I said, No, I didn’t know he could.

I got assaulted by a mime for having a spasm….
….He thought I was heckling.

I wish everything was as easy as….
….Getting fat.

I asked my therapist if driving my car 100 MPH was an emotional problem….
….She asked me to pay two weeks in advance.

My wife says she’s going to leave me because of my addiction to poker….
….But I think she’s bluffing.

What do you call someone who can’t stick to a diet?….
….A desserter.

Old age is when you’re faced with two temptations….
….And you choose the one that will get you home by nine o’clock.

The trouble with learning from experience….
….Is that you never graduate.

Wait! One day at a time….
….Like, FOREVER??!

I tried starting up a hot-air balloon company….
….But it never took off.

I’m great at multi-tasking….
….I can waste time, be unproductive, and procrastinate, all at once.

My wife said, “Look at this.  I haven’t worn this in years, and it still fits.”….
….I said, “It’s a scarf.”

If only Sarcasm….
….Burned calories

I Was Mesmerized

Better I say that I was hypnotised.

Franz Anton Mesmer, who discovered the phenomenon in the late 1700s, believed that it worked through ‘animal magnetism,’ and treated it like a parlor trick, entertaining the social elite in their homes or small halls.  A hypnotised person is not supposed to do anything beyond their moral limits.  It was revealing and disturbing, the limits that the minor aristocracy would go to.  Eventually, he was booed off his entertainment stage, and the term mesmerism took on a negative connotation.

In the summer of 1958, when I was 14, an entertainer booked the auditorium of the Town Hall for five evenings – Monday to Friday.  He put up posters on lamp posts and handed out small flyers.  He was a stage hypnotist, who promised an interesting and amusing show that included people clucking like chickens.  I HAD to see this.

I attended the Monday show.  I never thought about where he would get willing subjects until he asked for audience volunteers.  I was the first on my feet.  I didn’t feel hypnotized – whatever that was.  I was awake and aware, but felt no drive to do anything but just stand there.  My part came toward the end of the act.  He had me and a girl about my age hold our right arms out.  He lit a candle and passed it beneath her fingers.

She never moved a muscle, while I waggled my hand and acted disturbed.  When he asked me why I was upset, I told the audience that my fingers were hot.  I don’t remember them actually feeling hot, but I remembered that his flyer said that someone would experience it, so I gave him what the crowd expected.

All the volunteers got a pass for a later show.  I was busy Tuesday and Wednesday, but went to the Thursday show.  A University Professor used to give lectures, and when he was done, would tell his classes that psychology inhibited people from being the first to respond, so he always offered to take the Second question.  Thursday night, when he asked for audience participation…. crickets, nobody moved.  I again stood up, and there were five more behind me when I reached the stage.

Some people claim that, “I’m too intelligent to be hypnotised,” but practitioners say that more intelligent people are better subjects, because they are able to focus, and accept the required control.  This night, he saved me for the final part of the act – the piéce de résistance.

He had two of those uncomfortable, tubular steel and formed plywood, chairs placed about four feet apart, and had two of the other subjects sit in them.  He told me, Stand up straight.  You are firm.  You are hard.  You are strong.  You are rigid.  You are like a tree.  You are powerful.  You are as stiff as a lamp-post.  Then he poked me in the chest, and I fell over backward.  Two of the other enchanted assistants caught me, lifted me horizontally, and placed me across the backs of the two chairs.

The one contacted me just below the collarbone and above the shoulder blades.  The other met the back of my calf muscles.  There I hung, suspended in midair, planking, long before it became trendy.  But the show isn’t over, ladies and gentlemen.  Watch this.  He placed another chair in front of me, climbed up onto it, slowly turned to face the audience…. and carefully sat down on my stomach.

Even I was amazed, a scrawny little stick of a kid like me, holding up a 160 pound man.  I was completely aware of what was happening.  I wondered if I had any control over my body.  I allowed my abdominal muscles to relax about a quarter or half an inch.  He felt it, and intoned, Steady!  Steady!  Rigid!  Rigid!

He climbed down to thunderous applause, and turned back to his onstage rogues’ gallery, to begin un-hypnotizing all six of us – and there were only five.  Who was missing?  Where?  When?  How??!  This had never happened to him.  Hypnosis will eventually wear off, but he worried about a suggestible victim being given a direct command in public.

The one missing was a lad, two years older than me.  The hypnotist enjoined us to go looking for him, and take care of him if need be.  I went to his house, and told his father what had happened.  He just laughed, and went back to watching The Honeymooners.  With a 90/95 IQ level, between stupid and stubborn, the boy apparently did not go into a hypnotic trance.

I met him the next day, and he explained.  Nothing exciting happened to him during the show, and he was bored, and felt like a fool, just standing there.  While I was doing my levitation act, he drifted into the wings, down the back stairs, and off to the bowling alley in search of French fries and tourist girls.

I guess that shows like this may still exist in Las Vegas or Atlantic City lounges, but hypnosis has come to be used much more professionally and effectively to aid in combating drug or tobacco use, stress, depression, psychiatric and relationship problems.  My two experiences were all in fun, but it can be quite serious.  Have any of you had hypnosis therapy?

Flash Fiction #259

PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

LOCKDOWN KNOCKDOWN

Good grief, what happened?  I hadn’t heard of any tornadoes, especially inside a mall.

The Governor finally signed the bill that ended the last COVID lockdown.  It was like a Taylor Swift concert.  People were lining up at the doors at 4:00 AM.  We had extra security, but Commerce was King.  Some folks showed excessive exuberance in revived retail therapy, getting rid of COVID haircuts at the salons, and walking out with new shoes.  It was all we could do to shove the last of them out at closing time.  No sense repairing it.  It’ll be like this again tomorrow.

***

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

Social Medium Humor

People say to me, Archon, Facebook is a good way to connect with old friends.
At my age, if I want to connect with old friends, I need a Ouija Board

***

My doctor gave me three days to give up drinking.  So I picked June the fifth, July 17, and October 9.
I enjoy a glass of wine each night for its health benefits.  The other ones are for my witty comebacks and smooth dance moves.  I’ve stopped drinking for good.  Now I only drink for evil.

***

Don’t bother walking a mile in my shoes; that would be boring.  Spend 30 seconds inside my head; that’ll freak you right out.

***

My wife left for work this morning, and almost immediately I got a call from my next door neighbour telling me to come around quick as she needed my help.

So, I knock on her door, and she opens the door in a robe and immediately drags me into the living room. She then drops the robe to reveal she is completely naked. As my mouth hangs open she says: “Everything you can see between my legs is yours”

Rubbing my hands in anticipation I drop to my knees and say: “Right, I’ll have your TV, Stereo, Coffee Table, sofa, fireplace…”

***

Heisenberg is pulled over by a Highway Patrolman

“Mister, do you know how fast you were going?” asks the cop.

“No,” replies Heisenberg.

“I clocked you at 87 miles per hour!” the cop exclaims.

Heisenberg sighs. “Great, now I don’t know where I am…”

***

A Canadian park ranger is giving some ramblers a warning about bears, “Brown bears are usually harmless. They avoid contact with humans so we suggest you attach small bells to your rucksacks and give the bears time to get out of your way. However, grizzly bears are extremely dangerous. If you see any grizzly-bear droppings leave the area immediately.”

“So how do we know if they’re grizzly bear droppings?” asks one of the ramblers.

“It’s easy,” replies the ranger. “They’re full of small bells.”

***

A 7 year old boy is sitting on a park bench, eating chocolate bars.
An old man next to him says, “Eating that much chocolate isn’t good for you.”
The boy replies, “My grandfather lived to 102.”
“Did he eat that much chocolate??”
“No! but he minded his own fucking business.”

***

A Hollywood producer calls his friend, another Hollywood producer, on the phone.

“Hey, how are you doing?” he asks.

“Well!” responds the friend. “I just sold a screenplay for $200,000. I also wrote a novel and got a $50,000 advance from the publisher. I have a new TV series airing next week, and everyone says it’s going to be a hit. I’m doing great! How are you?”

“OK,” says the first producer. “I’ll call you back when you’re alone.”

Flash Fiction #247

PHOTO PROMPT © Alicia Jamtaas

LEFT HANGING

Ah, the joys of being a writer.  At least I’ve identified my Flash Fiction.
Big deal!  We’ve got your number,

I downloaded Rochelle’s photo.
Ho Hum!  After only eight years of practice.

I have a title.
Life imitating art – again.

I have a theme.
Your therapist will be intrigued.

I have a bright, colorful story arc.
Which will not end in a pot of gold!

All I need now is a great finish, a fascinating denouement.  Think, Archon!
We’re sorry!  The inspiration that you are trying to reach is currently binge-watching The Expanse, on Amazon.  Please try again later.

***

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

I Have Never Felt So Alive

Doctor

Special note to self: Never joke in a doctor’s office! 😳

Even the ones who have had a sense of humor artificially implanted, by law are required to take everything and anything that is said, more seriously than a TSA agent.

If I don’t post for a while, it may be because I’ve been involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric ward. Case in point….

I recently went to a doctor’s appointment. I tried to be pleasant, humorous, happy. It went down in flames, and crashed and burned around me. It descended into total chaos faster than an Inspector Clouseau movie.

I recently saw her for my yearly checkup. She ordered some tests to justify the $50/month that the Province pays her, even if I don’t go to see her. She allowed 3 weeks for the tests to be done, and the results returned to her, and scheduled a follow-up visit to discuss them.

The appointment was for 2:15PM. The wife and I go with each other to these things. What one doesn’t hear, or remember, the other one does. THAT’S GONNA CHANGE! We were escorted to the examination room at 2:45, and the doctor finally walked in at 3:00. Only ¾ of an hour late – she’s actually ahead of her usual schedule.

She sat down and said, “What is wrong? What do you need from me? What has brought you here today?”

A strange opening statement, but I took no notice of it at the time. I said, “You ordered clinic tests, and should have the results. You booked this appointment to discuss them, so tell me, am I alive?”
[DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!]

Of course you are alive! Why would you not be alive?

I said, “Well, I took the tests, but you’re holding the results hostage. I just thought it would be a good idea to know how healthy I am.”

So, now it’s cover-your-ass time. I am not holding the results hostage. I do not have the time to notify each patient individually. If there had been a problem, I would have contacted you.

“That’s what I thought, but I’d like to know the numbers.”

She opened the computer screen to my file, and started going through the results. Blood pressure – good. Blood sugar – good. I have evidence of edema, internal swelling – probably from the progression of arthritis. Good cholesterol levels – acceptable. Bad cholesterol levels – up slightly from last year, but still just below the benchmark. Would I like to start taking a daily dose of Crestor to combat it?

Oh, dear Lord, another pill? I said, “No, I think that I’ll just wait till next year’s checkup. If the numbers are up then, I’ll consider the Crestor, if I’m still here.”

Explosion

Why would you not be here next year? Are you depressed?? Are you considering suicide? Do you have anger management problems?

Gaaaah, what giant can of worms have I opened here?

No, I’m not depressed! I am not considering suicide.

Then why would you not be here next year?

“Perhaps I might move to Newfoundland, or be struck and killed by The Ion (our new street railroad), like that idiot did a couple of weeks ago.”

She glanced over at the wife, who threw her one of those patented Wife Looks©. The wife is on anti-depressants, and believes that everyone else in the known galaxy should also be on them.

Tell me. I am here to listen and help. You can tell me anything.

Well, he just explodes and gets mad over nothing. He screams and yells, and curses and swears.

“If I open the refrigerator to get out milk, and my hand brushes the little plastic container of blueberries, and spills them all over the floor, I might raise my voice a bit, and say “Jesus Christ” or “God damn.” I am startled – embarrassed that I am clumsy and not paying enough attention. I am shocked, and I am irked that I have to stop doing whatever I’m doing, and lower my arthritic ass down to the floor, to pick them all up before they get stepped on.

Well, I sent the puppies out to help you clean them up.

I then have to explain to the doctor that we have two Scottish Terriers who love blueberries, to the point that we just purchased 3 bags of treats, one of which is blueberry-flavored, and disappearing fast. I hope the doctor notices that the wife was so “upset”, that she added pets to the problem. Has my problem gone away?….

“When she was a child, my wife had an abusive older brother. If something like this occurred, he might slap or punch her. She is still worried that this might happen.”

Have I convinced the doctor? I look back at the computer screen, and she has a small sub-program window open. Now I have to answer 8 multiple-choice questions.

In the last 14 days, how many days were you mildly depressed, depressed, or greatly depressed?

“None! I was not depressed.”

How many days did you have bouts of uncontrollable rage, one? Several? All of them?

“None! Partly because of her brother, she has a powerful sense of propriety. Things need to be the way she feels that they need to be. I barely experience anger. If anything, I suffer from low-level frustration, irritation, and resignation, not depression, and I certainly do not suffer from rage. ”

How many days did you think about harming someone else, or yourself, one? Several? All of them?

“None!”

On how many days did you contemplate suicide?

“I have never contemplated suicide!”

Although, if this farce continues, I might consider homicide, or uxoricide. Have you noticed that none of these questions have a zero value? They’re like the old accusation, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” They all begin with the assumption of guilt.

At last, they are all answered. The doctor turns off the bright light, and puts away the rubber hose. Finally, she is convinced of my innocence, and all this silliness is over – right??

Every Thursday, as part of my practice, I have a Therapist available here in my office. Her services are covered by my billing. There is no charge to you. The Provincial government pays her. You have to speak to my receptionist to make an appointment. You can have individual therapy, or couples therapy.

Did I mention GAAAHH!!? I’m surprised that neither she nor the wife made an appointment for me, but I managed to escape cleanly. No good deed goes unpunished. I did manage to get a letter which excuses me from jury duty, because I am have a pain in the ass. 😳