A Meandering Road Through Prompts

  1. A member of the Penny Whistle Band in the 70s, Joseph wonders how life would have turned out if he left the band and followed Alice to Selma. Love of music. Love of a woman. The same word, but such different meanings.
  2. He’s racing the moon through the night, trying to make it to dawn, tapping out the minutes like a blind man with his cane. His focus is locked in tight. Only one more chance to get it right.
  3. The weekly meeting of the Beach City Camp counselors was called to order. The group was dog-tired. The campers this year were a real handful. “The whole girls cabin going ballistic because one of them saw a spider in the tub completely undid me,” one counselor admitted.
  4. Dave wondered the significance of a weathered trombone attached to the sign marking the entrance to the Tahoe Mud Baths. As he drove down the long dirt lane to the lodge, he kept rolling possible reasons around in his mind, when a young woman dressed in just a blue lamé bikini and hiking boots stepped out onto the lane. She smiled and shrugged an apology as she continued across the lane and into the wood. Dave wondered what a woman in a fancy bikini and hiking boots was doing wandering around out here. It was still some distance to the lodge. It struck him as weird as the trombone on the entrance sign.

Four weeks of prompts! I felt like I needed to get caught up, but couldn’t thread them through a single story. Had fun composing the little snippets, though!
https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/11/24/olwg-130-a-dizygotic-pair/

When you open that Pandora’s box, you will find it full of Trojan horses

How to avoid mixing your metaphors?

It’s not rocket surgery.
First, get all your ducks on the same page.
After all, you can’t make an omelette
without breaking stride.

Be sure to watch what you write
with a fine-tuned comb.
Check and re-check until the cows turn blue.
It’s as easy as falling off a piece of cake.

Don’t worry about opening up
a whole hill of beans:
you can burn that bridge when you come to it,
if you follow where I’m coming from.

Concentrate! Keep your door closed
and your enemies closer.
Finally, don’t take the moral high horse:
if the metaphor fits, walk a mile in it.


Saw this today on FB and had to share on OLWG #105 [attributed to Brian Bilston, “Frequently described as the ‘Poet Laureate of Twitter’, Brian Bilston is a poet clouded in the pipe smoke of mystery.”]

LD Rose, Class of ’43

I was the one to sort through my parent’s papers and files after their deaths. Among my father’s various papers—drafts of short stories, travel essays, random thoughts and highlights from his career as a City Manager—were his military service records in the Merchant Marines and later in the Naval Reserve. The first piece of paper in the first file was a simple half-sheet form titled, “Employment Severance Notice from Douglas Aircraft,” which read,

I, LD Rose, hereby state that I am terminating, on my own volition, my employment with the Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., on this 3rd day of April 1942 for the reason hereinbelow set forth: Military Service—Voluntary Enlistment.

On the back of the form was a note written in my father’s hand:

I know that I shall never be the same as I was the days that have past. It is something numb and bursting inside, like nothing within the compass of words. It is bitterly sad and jubilant and aches for a night and complete stillness it shall never know. A sad, thin, stretching voice. A face that is a stranger to the day.

My father was 21 when war was declared on Japan. Unlike so many of his peers, including his good friends, my father did not rush to join up. So, what inspired him to finally do so? I doubt it was at his parent’s behest. From the little I was told about them, I would guess them to be Isolationists. He might have been swayed working for Douglas Aircraft (later McDonald Douglas). He would have been surrounded by a lot of pro-war propaganda working for a company like that. Who knows. Whether he was spurred on by a guilty conscience, or a late-arriving sense of patriotic duty, he never said.

Jammed in the back of the files I found a small journal. It was wrapped in a plastic bag that used to contain Palmolive soap bars. The front and back hard-bound covers were ripped away, leaving the clusters of pages precariously clinging to dangling strings that once held them to the biding, and it was badly burned at the top where fire had once threatened to destroy it. I was confident the singed top was the result of a house fire when I was a child. It was a thrill to discover the journal survived.

From the first page, starting from just under the charred top:

…if I were about to take the most decisive step of my life I hesitate upon these words. For indeed, I have taken a decisive step, perhaps a monumental one, and the need for words of monument is impressive. I am, on this date, aboard my first ship, the Phillip Livingston…We are tied up at a smelter, discharging nitrates from Chile, Peru and Ecuador. Oh, the fascination of the far-sounding names!
I fight the death of youth, fight the becoming a man, wanting neither to the exclusion of the other.
I took the helm for the first time today while we moved to another dock. It was a magnificent sensation of importance and responsibility…
Gray ship, gray day…frantic bouncing of the gulls in the wind, a boiling, brutal wind sprawling on the face of the sea-top. We depart Bellingham at 6am and the adventure commences.

In the 1990s, my father was interviewed for a book—though I do not think it was ever published—about the Cadet Midshipmen of the US Merchant Marines during World War II. It was then that all the stories of his three or so years of service came pouring out, exactly as if a faucet inside him was turned to the open position. The interview inspired him to write it all down. I have a photocopy of one of his drafts, somewhere. For all his efforts at writing the perfect short story, opinion piece for the local paper or essay of my parent’s traveling years after retirement, his memoir of his war service was his very best work.

Kingspoint, USMM Academy, class of 1943 or 44.
b.May 1920-d.April 2011

The only time I saw my father sob uncontrollably was during a televised Memorial Day ceremony. Though he did not know combat as those who served in the other branches of the military, he carried very close to his heart the ultimate sacrifice so many of his generation made. He was profoundly proud of his service and honored to be called a Merchant Marine.

Bad Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie of the Week Radio Theatre Podcast

Saw this on Facebook and could not resist sharing…

“@keatonpatti: I forced a bot to watch over 1,000 hour of Hallmark Christmas movies and then asked it to write a Hallmark Christmas movie of its own. Here is the first page…”

SETTING: International small town snow globe refillery. We see a SINGLE MOTHER refilling snow globes with Christmas juice. She is a widow. Her husband died in every war.

SINGLE MOTHER
I refill globes better than Jesus Claus, yet still my twins are dad-free. Why? They need double-dad.

BUSINESS MAN enters the shop. He wears clothes that cost money. His hands are briefcases. He is Hallmark Hot.

SINGLE MOTHER
Hi. Do your snow globes lack wet? Hurry. Christmas attacks soon.

BUSINESS MAN has flashback to when he was BUSINESS BOY. A Christmas tree explodes his family on purpose. He now hates trees and Christmas and explosions. He exits the flashback.

BUSINESS MAN
Shut your sound! I am from Huge City. I bought your land and am turning it into an oil resort.

SINGLE MOTHER
Rude behavior! This is a family business. I sell families. I am a widow. My husband is now bones.

SINGLE MOTHER points to her husband’s bones in the corner of the room. They are gift wrapped in eggnog.

BUSINESS MAN
All of my wives are bones! That is America. But I must make money for my twins to live. They are a prince.

SINGLE MOTHER
I too own twins. Please, don’t have bought my land. Christmas is today.

BUSINESS MAN
Laugh! I bought Christmas and now it is never! Unless we go on dates.

SINGLE MOTHER
I cannot date because of a snow curse. I pray Santa helps me.

Santa cannot help. SINGLE MOTHER did not know but Santa was her husband. Santa is bones. Bones help nobody.———————-

As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one.”
A very merry, one and all.

No, really. I’m thankful!

It’s cliche, I know, but, this being Thanksgiving, I want to acknowledge I’m grateful for…

…the dedication of parents. Because of my indifference to parenthood, having never had children, these people leave me in awe. Their drive to make sure their children thrive is amazing to me. I came to this realization only after both my parents were gone. My relative comfort throughout my entire life is solely due to my mother and father’s commitment to their children.

…the chance to pursue a career of my choosing. Though it’s come at a cost—relatively low salary, but most especially the loss of a personal life—I know if the Fairy Godmother of Go Back and Try Again dropped in, I would say, “Tell my younger self this: Just because you are true to yourself, it does not follow you will have everything for which you hope, or wish, or even deserve.”

…that I love art, in all its forms and genres. Design, skill, creativity, color, form, evolution, evocation, emotion. Even if I don’t understand it, or sometimes am unable to tolerate it, I simply can’t imagine life without it.

…a landscape. Natural, urban, human or surreal. There is not a one I do not find absolutely spectacular.

…a beach. If someone told me I had to name a sacred place, I would name a beach, be it a lakeside, riverside, stream or ocean. But, particularly, an ocean beach and sea air. It’s as close to  divinity as I think I will ever find.

…my willingness to find a solution whenever trouble rears its ugly head. Oh, sure, adversity has made me gunshy. I’m not a chance-taker as a result. I’ve hesitated and put my head in the sand many times. But, eventually I can’t stand it anymore and find a way out or onward.

…the friends I once had. They are long gone, for any number of reasons, but if they were not in my life at the time I knew them, I’m not sure I would have been able to manage.

…now that I’m middle aged, the medical establishment. Even for all its faults, I’m grateful for a place and a people who can tell me exactly what the hell this thing is on my arm!

…a midlife crisis that steered me directly into the world of writing, cooking and photography. Just when I thought my creative life would never be fully realized, I found these outlets. I’m not all that good, but that’s hardly the point. I love the process, the discovery, and whatever successes I can claim. Just look at my smile!

…a few trivial things: wine, to name one. A handsome face smiling at me, for no particular reason. Perfectly cooked Salmon or pork. A beautiful garden and a stroll through a park. A well done BBC TV series. Novels and movies that enthrall. Fascinating documentaries. That I’m no longer hung up with what I look like (I credit menopause). Whomever created dark chocolate. Weekend mornings, anywhere, any season, rain or shine. Road trips. Unexpected chances (so exciting!) All the folks who came up with modern conveniences, as well as those who subsequently outlined how those conveniences are not actually beneficial, but the potential death of us all. Except kitty litter. Those of us with an indoor cat that is afflicted with a delicate digestive system knows that stuff is literally magic in a box.

Tonight’s Characters

#1: He’s 80, reading the newspaper while making his way slowly through a slice of key lime pie and an Irish Coffee. The waitress swoops by with ” ‘nother one for ya?” and grabs the almost empty coffee. He snatches it back. “Yes, but let me…” He swallows the final gulp, then thrusts the mug into her stomach. When she comes back with his 2nd drink, he places a gentle hand on her arm and apologizes. She shrugs it off.
The bill arrives. He pays with a card, but makes a point of leaving her a 20-dollar bill. He places the bill carefully, intentionally, neatly in the middle of the table, fussing with how level and even it appears. When he leaves, he stops her and points to the table. “For you.”

#2: Forty-something bartender. Tall and lean. Thick glasses and soft spoken. Always friendly, of course, but shy and serious. One time I ordered a chocolate martini from him  and he beamed. Probably one of the worst concoctions I’ve ever had, but I smiled when he asked if I liked it. “That was fun!” he said.  “Nobody orders drinks like that, ever! Want another?” I shake my head. “I’m good.”

#3: “I’m 61 and retiring in 4 years!” It was something she was always quick to say. Short and very, very round. When I say short, I mean not technically a dwarf, but unquestionably short. So is her hair. She proudly sports a Dennis the Menace tuft. “I tell the barber, it’s not short enough if it isn’t standing up!”
Happy and energetic, but something about  her puts you on guard.
“I hate beans,” she says giving a mock shudder and vomit. “Hate! Any of ’em. All of ’em!” with another mock shudder and vomit. You get the feeling you’re supposed to ask why, but something tells to you keep quiet and not engage. She continues to shake her head and pantomime she’s been made to sniff a turd.
Over time, you come to realize there is something not quite right about her, so you distance yourself. Eventually, you mention this to your manager, who surprises you when she says, “Good idea.”
It’s been a couple of weeks since she was fired. People were surprised she lasted as long as she did (10 months). Turns out she fucked up a lot, in many different ways. But always with a smile.
Anway, she was at our workplace tonight, happy as you please, as if showing up at the workplace that summarily dismissed her with cause (and a long list of causes, at that) ain’t no big thing. “Bet you’re surprised to see me!” she says. I laugh, awkwardly, and walk away.
I get it. It’s a big Fuck You. But she didn’t come in the building with guns ablazing. So, you keep just being you, Terri. You just keep being you.


Thinking of April’s wonderful character studies!

Prompt!

TBP fathers dayNow that I’m back to blogging, I think I will prompt ALL THREE of my followers to post something fun, based on a prompt.

OK?

Your story/photo starts with: “You came home” and ends with “low tide under a crescent moon.”

What?…Stop! Oh, Well. Here I Am. Again.

Uh..? I just opened a setup wizard, and…

Um…holy crap…what is…

STOP!

(delete, delete, delete… STOP IT!…)

OK…Well, I guess I set up a blog. Not my first, but before I know what’s what, there’s a picture (I didn’t take), and a greeting (I didn’t write), and POOF! A full-fledged post!

Ummm…

Well, Hello! How do you do?

Actually, hold that thought, for, like, the next few days. I have to figure out what I am actually I’m going to do with this!

Oh, but, I can declare this much: I love to write fiction. And, nonfiction. I observe and, so, I write. Or take a photo. And, I like to share my observations and writing. So, I blog.