Roadside Salvation

If Karma actually exists, I’m pretty sure that I’ve used up my lifetime supply of good fortune.

Once upon a time….

When I grew old enough to get my drivers’ licence, my father allowed me the use of the car on Saturday evenings.  I would drop my parents off at his gig as an emcee at a dance party just before 9 PM, and come back and pick them up, just after midnight.

Across the summer, some friends and I covered a wide range of the county.  On into September, the new car models had been released, and we wanted to have a look at them at a car show over in the Big City.  Perhaps Dad had heard of our exploits.  Maybe we weren’t leaving enough gas in the tank.  As I dropped them off, Dad said, “Don’t leave town.”  Right, Dad.

We’d had summer jobs, but now that we were back in school, money was a bit short.  We all kicked in 50¢ for gas, because, back then, $2 would fuel our little Vauxhall for most of a week.  Then it was a half-hour, high-speed run to the arena.  The rest of our pocket change got us into a show at 9:30, which was over at 10.  We had a quick chance to drool over the new models.

When they kicked us out, I still had two hours before I needed to be back, but there might be other things to do, so the trip back was as fast as the one over.  Suddenly, out in the country, a red warning light popped up on the dash, so I immediately pulled over and shut it down.

Ten miles from the city, fifteen miles from home, we were two and a half miles in either direction from two tiny crossroad villages – which were already shut down when we passed through earlier.
What’s the matter with it?  I dunno.
Are we stuck out here?  Probably.
What are we gonna do?  I dunno.

Just before panic began to set in, a pair of headlights appeared from behind.  We weren’t even smart enough to flag the driver down, but he pulled over anyway.  It was a 21-year-old gear-head, driving around to impress his 18-year-old girlfriend with the old car that he was restoring.  It didn’t look like much, but it purred when it pulled over.
What’s the matter? –  A red light came on the dash.
It’s probably the fan belt.  Do you have a flashlight?
No. –  I’ll get mine.

He popped the hood and shone the light in.  Sure enough, there was a decided lack of fan belt.  From driving a little English car 10 miles, at 85 MPH??!  Who knew?  He said that it was a good thing that I’d pulled over right away.  With the water pump and cooling system not working, I could have overheated the engine and damaged it.  It probably wouldn’t have mattered.  With the generator also not working, it was running off the battery.  A couple more miles with the headlights on, and that would have died too.  We were well and truly FUBARed.

He said, “I think I know a guy who can help.  Hop in.”  I snuggled in next to his girl, and we headed back to the city.  On the way, he told me that he worked as a junior mechanic for a guy who ran a small garage and Esso gas station.  In tourist country, and during tourist season, he pumped gas until 11 PM on Saturday nights.

It was ten after eleven when we arrived, and the lights were all off, but we could see the owner still finishing paperwork at his desk.  My hero thumped on the door, and got us let in.
Whaddya want??
Buddy here blew a fan belt, out on the highway, and needs another one.

He went to the reference sheet, selected the correct one and lifted it down.  Boss-man said that it cost about $6 – the equivalent of two hours labor.  He looked at me and said, “You guys got any money?”  We’re busted flatter than piss on a plate.  He must have had a running tab for the parts and pieces that he needed for his chariot.  “Put it on the list of stuff I owe you for, Mel.”

Soon we were heading back to the three friends I’d abandoned in the stygian darkness, and the car which had cooled to work on.  “You got any tools?  Duh!!  “We’ll use mine.”  He opened the trunk, and opened his toolbox.  Changing a fan belt on that car was so dead simple, even I could do it.  All we needed was an adjustable wrench.  Still, I held the flashlight while he did the work.  “Start it up.”  It started and ran well, with no warning light.  “Okay, you’re good to go.”

He was exactly the right person, at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place, with the right friends, the right tool set, and the right mindset.  We were too naïve to even think of offering to mail him some money – which we didn’t have.  Other than offering our sincere thanks, is there anything we can do for you?  “Just pay it forward.  If you see someone in trouble, and you can help, stop and offer it.”  I like to think that’s a philosophy that I’d have engaged in, even without his urging.  I didn’t ask him if he was a Good Christian.  I don’t even remember exchanging names, but I remember his kindness.

Of course, after all of this, I didn’t make it to the appointed pickup spot, at the appointed time.  When I finally arrived home, Mom was a little miffed that she’d had to walk half a mile, with her short little legs, in a tight skirt and heels, up a fairly steep hill.

After Dad demanded and got a complete explanation of what had happened, he was a bit more pragmatic.  “This is why I told you not to leave town.  Still, everything worked out nicely.  I guess it’s better that it happened to you tonight, than to me on my way to work on Monday morning.”

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End

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 #235

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE

How do you get to the K-W Oktoberfest Parade??!
Well, I wouldn’t start from here.

Summer road construction diversions were completed in time for the autumn detours.

Just go around the big COVID Obstruction, then straight through the Bicycle Virtue-Signalling Snafu, where 5000 traffic cones have produced cycling lanes, but reduced miles of four-lane major streets to two-lane parking lots.

Seating in beer tents will be every third chair, and special Pandemic masks, with little holes to drink beer through straws will be provided.

Extra test kits, and extra hospital staff, will be on hand.  Have fun, but stay safe.  👿

***

I published a post some years ago, https://archonsden.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/you-cant-get-there-from-here/ with the above title, describing traffic problems on local streets, which were laid out by cattle, rather than surveyors.  The City has gotten bigger, but so have the traffic problems.

Last year, we had 700,000 people attend Oktoberfest in 9 days.  At this time, the 2020 Oktoberfest is still a go. with – what is hoped are – sufficient safeguards.  There will be no parade, and fest-halls will not be as crowded as elevators.  The Oktoberfest Committee seem to be hoping that COVID – rather than a chunk of the population – will be dead by Canadian Thanksgiving, or a vaccine available.

My home is out on the West side of town, so that prevailing winds should blow any infection away from me.  I’ve installed HEPA filters on the air intakes, and won’t be leaving the house for over a week.  😆

***

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

’20 A To Z Challenge – J

Jezebel

I once had a great-aunt named Jessie – until I got old enough that my Father told me I didn’t.

Just before I turned 12, my Father informed the family that his favorite aunt had rented a tiny cottage in our tourist town, and would be vacationing for a week.  Never married – she may have been lesbian – she still gathered four small children, cared for and mostly raised them, when Dad’s mother died, giving birth to his younger sister, and his father abandoned them to go off and become a hermit.

She always treated him particularly well.  The few times I met her, she treated me particularly well.  I had (almost) reached the Age Of Reason.  With no obvious prompt, my Dad said, “Her real name isn’t Jessie, you know.”  (No, I didn’t know that.)  “What is it then?”

JEZEBEL

Dad’s paternal grandparents weren’t exceedingly Christian.  Their two boys received common, normal names.  Dad’s dad was Howard.  His aunt may have been assigned her questionable moniker, because her mother was reminded.  She was an unfortunate, female, every-third-child, who was born with a head of brilliant red hair.

She soon tired of the name Jezebel.  She was picked on, mocked, and bullied, at school and in church.  She was still young – elementary school – when she decided to do something about the despicable actions and attitudes of ‘Good Christians.’  Jezebel disappeared, never to be heard of again, and Jessie (or was it Jesse?) came into being, to take her place.

I am so glad that my mother gave me two Plain-Jane (Well…. You know what I mean) names.  I can disappear in a crowd of two.  Archon, and the Grumpy Old Dude, haven’t disappeared though.  Stop back again soon, and I’ll tell you about the fellow who appeared before a judge, requesting to legally change his name.  The judge asked, “What is your name?”  He replied, “Joe Schitts.”  “Well, I can understand why you would want to change your name.  What do you want to change it to?”  “Bob!”  😯

Flash Fiction #26 – Summer Rerun

Hollywood

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright-Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

I had a WOW composed, Just In Case, but Rochelle has once again, kindly proffered a prefabricated excuse for the creatively challenged.

It All Comes Out In The End

Rob honey?!  Come have a look at this.  We saved hard enough for this Hollywood trip; you should come and enjoy it.  Just look at the people – and the palm trees – and the….  ROB!!?….  What was that….?

What was the name of that stuff we saw advertised back in Illinois, that’s supposed to prevent ‘travellers’ diarrhea’?  Duckitall??  Dukerol!!  I thought that was just if you went to, like, Thailand.  I didn’t know about a bad fish taco in Redlands.

You go ahead with that walking tour of the homes of the stars.  My tour’s going to be sitting.

***

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-badge-web

I saw Dukerol advertised a couple of days before the original challenge, so I worked it into this Flash Fiction.  In the six years since, I have never heard it mentioned again.  😳

 

Smitty’s Loose Change #12

Smitty's Loose Change

We (the wife) have acquired a new medical specialist, a Physiatrist (fizz-eye-aah-tryst). This is a term invented by another doctor in 1957. It originally was an alternative to physician, or GP, to distinguish from the growing horde of specialists. Over the ensuing 60 years though, it has come to refer to a doctor who specializes in pain management and control.

He recommends and co-ordinates with chiropractors, osteopaths, massage therapists, and physiotherapists. He can prescribe specific medications, but usually leaves it to the patient and their GP. He can recommend exercises for specific muscle groups, for home, gym or physio sessions. As a last resort, he is trained and authorized to administer injections of analgesics or cortisones.

His clinic is not – and may never be – authorized to administer the long-term, IV-drip, pain-med infusions that I drive the daughter 60 miles every 8/9 weeks to get.

***

I recently got a phone call from a polling firm, working on behalf of my electricity supplier, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro. While seeming simple, the questions were actually rather confusing. They wanted to know why I had chosen K/W Hydro, and what it would take for me to recommend them to another potential user.

They asked about draws, perhaps one or more customers could have their monthly charge written off. The finances are a closed system. It takes X amount of money to purchase and distribute power. If one (or more) people don’t have to pay, then the rest of us all have to pay a bit more. I don’t want to pay any extra, and, if I were to win, I’d feel guilty about the rest paying more.

Then they asked about rebates. If they can afford to give rebates, then they’re overcharging us. The final suggestion was to donate money to charity. It’s a feel-good idea, but, either they’re overcharging, or we’re all going to pay more, to finance that scheme.

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but the truly bizarre thing about all this is that they hold a monopoly. No other power-supply company can operate in this district. We have Hobson’s choice – take it, or else. The only other options are to freeze in the dark, or buy a Honda generator at Home Despot. And, my bill went up to help pay for this useless survey.

***

I’ve been translating German names again. Some of them give cause for wonder/amusement.
Einwechter = one – of a half. One what?? Of a half of what? I suppose the Germans know.
Kieswetter = cheese weather – which is a sky overcast with small, dark, chunky clouds that resemble cheese curds. How in Hell you get named after rain clouds, I don’t know. No wonder these people tried to conquer Europe – Twice

Kieswetter

***

Arbitrary

How you’ve heard it: “His bookshelves are organized in a totally arbitrary way. “What it means: Random, erratic, unpredictable, not based on coherent logic whatsoever.

It may be unpredictable to you. It may appear erratic, but it is not random! ‘Arbitrary’ means selected, or chosen. The books on the shelf may be arranged by size, by color, by the number of pages, or even in reverse alphabetical order of the authors’ first names. You may not see the order. You may not agree with the logic, but the owner arbitrarily chose it. He may even have chosen random.

***

My neurologist, the guy who probably saved my sight – the doctor who was willing to throw me in the trunk of his car and drive me 60 miles to a hospital specializing in eye health – has been charged with 34 counts of sexual harassment, and had his medical license revoked. I did not see that coming.

***

We recently survived another Federal election. One of the son’s co-workers asked him – based on the number of lawn signs – who he felt would be the winner in our neighborhood. The son replied that it looked like Re/Max Realty was out ahead, with Century 21 close behind. The son held out hope for a young upstart named Butter Tart Festival, holding a revival meeting at a local tourist trap. The worker protested, “Aren’t you ever serious?” “Sometimes.” “See, there you go again.” Ya just can’t win.

 

Young Love Gone Wrong

Jailbird

For 20 years, they were deliriously happy…. Then they met.
Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.     😳

Once upon a time, I lost a girlfriend. It wasn’t a century ago, but it was well back in the last century.

When I graduated high school, I moved 100 miles away to take my first job. It wasn’t long before it was apparent – at least to me – that the long-distance romance wasn’t going to work. Jeff Foxworthy speaks of, “If she hasn’t yet saddled up and ridden a new horse, she’s at least pulled one from the barn, and put a bridle on him.” My friends never mentioned that to me. I broke it off – by letter – just before Christmas. She wasn’t lonely for long.

I had just turned 19. Her new beau was almost 21. He had a job as a mechanic. He made more money than I did. He had a car. She traded up – or did she??! The new fella was the kind described as ‘known to police.’ She had a 16-year-old younger brother. By Valentine’s Day, he had sold the kid a switchblade knife – probably a $3/$4 piece of junk, that he charged $5 for.

The home was ruled by a nasty, judgmental mother, only one reason I decided to call it quits. All 6 of the children were a bit sharp – or brittle – especially this youngest, with something to prove. He couldn’t attract a girlfriend, but wanted to go to the high school’s big Easter Dance.

Since he didn’t have a partner, he asked the new boyfriend if he could provide a little liquid courage. Back then, you had to be 21 to purchase alcohol, but he knew a fellow, and provided a Mickey (13 Oz.) of lemon gin. The kid spiked his own punch at the party, and was soon roaring drunk – yelling and swearing, and pawing girls.

The science teacher, the male chaperone, approached him, and told him that he must leave. This was his first drinking experience. He didn’t know how to act. He loudly insisted that he would not leave. The teacher reached to take his arm or shoulder, to escort him out…. and he pulled the switchblade!

If he had just left, everything would have quietly disappeared. Now they had to call the cops! He wasn’t arrested, but they confiscated the knife, and called his parents to pick him up. The policeman asked him where he’d got the knife, and the liquor. Too immature to keep his mouth shut, he quickly named the new boyfriend.

The next day, they pulled him over. With probable cause, they searched the car, found an unopened case of beer in the trunk, and charged him with underage possession.

Our town was a ‘County Town,’ not the county capital. That was 30 miles away. We got a circuit judge, and every Wednesday was court day. Nicknamed the Hangin’ Judge, he had seen the evils of Demon Rum, and had a hatred for alcohol. This was Carrie Nation’s husband.

I don’t know whether he came to hate booze before, or because, he became a judge. The latter was quite possible, with all the drunken tourists, and drunken Indians from the nearby reservation.

The boyfriend pled guilty, and the misdemeanor penalty was a fine, and a criminal record. The judge wanted to get higher up this bootlegging ladder, and demanded to know where he had got the beer. “I found it in a ditch.” “Well, I hope you found a month down there with it, ‘cause you’re going to do 30 days in the county slammer.”

He’d kept quiet about his supplier, but, even sober, he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “Hell, I can do 30 days, standin’ on my head.” “That’s contempt of court. Here’s another 30 days, to get you back on your feet.” Suddenly that Archon boy was looking real good – but I was long gone.

Flash Fiction #197

Harry Potter

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

OVER THERE

They both diligently saved from their wages, determined to see at least a little bit of the world, before they settled down to careers, marriage and family.

London was fantastic, and they did all the touristy things. Being nerds, they located a Harry Potter store, bought wands, and enjoyed butter beer. They couldn’t find a platform #9-3/4, but they booked a tour on this old steam train, like the Hogwarts Special. The views of the countryside, the quaint little railway stations, and even a castle on a hill, were delightful.

Happy, but resigned, they returned to face the workaday world.

***

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

On a personal note, this is my 1100th published post since Nov. 2011. Also, if you note, it’s FF #197. If all goes well, in a couple of weeks, I’ll reach another milestone of 200.   😀

Flash Fiction #191

Vacation

PHOTO PROMPT © Ceayr

AM I BLUE? NO!

Ah, to be a Canadian Snowbird in South Carolina, for a week in October. Not really Snowbirds – snow hasn’t actually fallen in Southern Ontario – yet. Warm like summer at home, but not yet crowded with boorish, Speedo-wearing Quebecois.

The beaches are delicious – tanning and soaking up sun. It’s easy to tell tourists from townies. Canadians are frolicking in the surf, while the natives are dressed in down-filled coats, like Canucks will be in a month, when they have to shovel that snow. They stare, wondering why we build sand-castles, and not igloos.

Nobody in Canada owns a powder blue villa. 😀

***

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

Flash Fiction #164

DC Tour

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

DAY TO DAY GRIND

We visited a couple of friends in Washington, DC, for the first time.  I left our tourist itinerary in his capable hands; a day to see the White House, a day at the Washington Monument and the National Mall, a day to explore the Smithsonian, a day to marvel at the Pentagon.

He warned us that there would be a lot of foot-travel.  Anything in DC worth visiting, is on a walking tour.  He urged us to, “Rest up; by the time we’re done, you’ll be worn to a nub.”

I just thought that he meant from the bottom up.

***

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