Friday, January 18, 2019

Shopping With Mom, Part Kazillion

In my continuous efforts to save my mother money, I made the mistake of taking her to a different grocery store than the one she's accustomed to. I never learn.
With great trepidation, I called her the next day.

"Well, I don't think those chicken tenders you made me buy were real," she said.

"What?" (Sigh.) "I didn't make you buy--"

"I think the tenders were squirrel or cat."

"Mom, they weren't--"

"I KNOW what they were, I know what I know. It wasn't real chicken, that's for sure. I have a tummy ache."

First of all, if you've lived ninety years, you shouldn't be allowed to say "tummy." Second of all, really, "squirrel?" Third, she thinks Trump's a "God-fearing man," so credibility kinda goes out the window.

"Fine, Mom, we'll go back to your expensive grocery store," I said.

"I know what I know." End of conversation!

My mom knows what she knows and is a tad peculiar, but nothing's more peculiar than this: 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Tales From the Sofa

I am Stuart's sofa.

I'm the couch hub of the Midwest, the loveseat heart of suburban Kansas. An upholstery covered melting pot suitable for every race, color, creed, and religious bottom of humanity. There are eight million stories to be told from my cushions and this is one of them. For you see...

Wait. Hold on a minute. It's a lie. All of it!

My life is boring. I get to service Stuart's rear-end only. Day in and day out, he sits on me, writing. Sure, some times his wife parks on me, but as far as variety? Forget about it.

Frankly, watching someone write is really, really boring.

On occasion, though, I'm privy to the insights of the writing process. For instance, Stuart's frequently asked "where do you get your ideas?" Usually--as is his lame and lazy approach--he responds "I don't know." (See what I mean? BORING.)

This hammock thinks it has it bad? Try being me, Stuart's suffering sofa!
But last week, something interesting finally happened. While wearing me down (and would it hurt Stuart to sit on my other side on occasion?), Stuart received a text on his phone.

It read: Hey! It's Theresa! I'm using Tim's phone because I lost mine! See you in a bit! DON'T text back on this phone!

This set Stuart to thinking, never a good idea. He didn't know a Tim or Theresa. He couldn't very well text back, either, tell Theresa she had a wrong number. After all, she'd strictly forbidden him to do so.

Weened on thrillers and mysteries, Stuart started pulling pieces together. Clearly, Theresa was cheating on Tim. The heart emojis sealed the deal. Should Stuart warn Tim? Write back anyway and let Theresa know she had the wrong number?

What did Stuart, the man of inaction, the writer do? Nothing. Altogether now: BORING.

Several hours later, Theresa texted back: Thinking bout you. Had a great time.

Again, Stuart didn't respond. Through-out the day, Theresa kept texting, her anxiety ramping up with each missive: Helloooo? What's wrong? Why aren't you responding? Dammit, talk to me!

Finally, Theresa's final message: That's it. I'm talking to Tim. Even more troublesome? Theresa attached a photo of a baby in a car seat.

Like a Hitchcockian protagonist from days of old, Stuart had unwittingly become an unwilling, silent partner in an affair, the fourth member of a sordid situation that would undoubtedly end in murrrderrrr.

Yes sir, it was the most excitement I'd had since I was a wee settee at the sofa factory.

Stuart deliberated, didn't have a clue as to what to do. In his typically inert fashion, he decided to fashion the incident into a thriller to be written at a later date. The seed of an idea had been planted and his mind began to water it.

So...that's where one of Stuart's book ideas came from.

Wait! Here he comes! Gotta' run. I'll talk to--Oooff!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Putting the BREAK in Spring Break

Worst Spring Break ever!
And I'm not even talking about my failed college attempts at trying to have fun over spring break either. No, this unfortunate adventure occurred well into my adult years. I got some explainin' to do...

First, a little background: for as long as I can remember, my dad was in a wheelchair, a victim of Multiple Sclerosis. Yet it never kept him down. For many years, my parents were "snow-birds," fleeing to the warmth of Florida during the cold, Kansas winter months.

So I grabbed my wife and daughter on their various spring breaks (respectively from work and school) and had the lame-brained idea of visiting my parents at Daytona Beach! Fun in the sun! Except...

The minute we arrived, I knew we were in trouble. The streets were jam-packed with partying kids ("Get outta the way, you damn punk kids!") and bikers ("Excuse me, sir, please allow me to get out of your way."). 

The first night at our hotel, kids were screaming up and down the hallway all night long. A very hammered girl, drink in hand, knocked on our door. 

In a slurred voice, she says, "Hey, can I talk to Ricky?"

"Sorry, you have the wrong room," I replied.

"No, this is the room number Ricky gave me." She looks over my shoulder, puts a foot forward. Sips from her cocktail.

"No, I'm sorry, but you're wrong. I'm here with my wife and daughter."

"C'mon." She rolls her eyes. "Quit jacking around. Let me talk to Ricky."

Desperate now, hoping my wife will get out of the shower, I grab my young daughter, thrust her forward as a visual cue since the drunk girl won't listen to reason. "See!" I point toward my daughter.

Finally, she believed me.

That was our first night. As it turns out, our last night in Florida as well.
The next day, we gear up and go to some small-time, local, cheesy water park. The star attraction? A dolphin who paints pictures (kinda) with his flipper.

On the way out, my mom falls down on the sidewalk. Off we go to the emergency room! She'd broken her leg. As we pushed both of my incapacitated parents out of the hospital in wheelchairs (quite a parade), I knew it was a sudden end to Spring Break, 2004!

What to do next? Clearly, we couldn't leave my parents alone in Florida like that. Plans were formulated. My wife and daughter managed to get my mom on a plane and take her home. I, on the other hand, had to drive my dad from Florida to Kansas. Horrors!

In a way it was a good thing. I sorta reconnected with him (even though he told the same stories. A lot.). I also realized the courage the man had, how he kept going in the face of adversity, every day confronting new challenges to his wheelchair-bound life. But what a giant. He never let his situation drag him down. And even though he's been gone for several years, I still applaud the way he embraced life.

Finally, exhausted, we arrived home where the pampering continued for a while.

But, wait, there's a happy ending to the misery! The cheesy water park--in way of apology for their crappy sidewalks--sent my mom an autographed "painting" from Blippo, their star dolphin!

Speaking of horrors originating from Kansas, give a look-see to my first short horror collection, Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley, just up around the Twilight Zone and next door to October Country.