Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ethical Professor Boynton; Part 2 (Nothing to do with today’s Daily Prompt.)

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(Continued from yesterday.)

The next day there was yet another self-absorbed dissertation by Boynton about his brilliance on how he out-smarted investigators and other savvy investment experts. To Emerson it seemed clear he had little remorse, but viewed his professorship as a way to earn an early release from prison.

“Recall yesterday,” Boynton said. “You were to remove one item from a burning house. Mr. Emerson refused to participate, although he might challenge my conclusion. Today, now that you have had time to consider other possibilities, what item did you not take that you wished you would have taken? Write it down immediately, sign it, and pass it forward.”

Boynton collected all the papers and as he did the previous day read them to the class. And as in the previous day he sat Emerson’s paper aside and finished the list some of which were quite humorous and elicited some laughter from Boynton and the class.

After completing he held Emerson’s signed paper again to the class. “Blank!” Boynton said. “The man has nothing worth retrieving. What say you, Emerson?”

“Sir, I know you think it impertinent of me,” Emerson said. “But I truly could not come up with anything and as I speak right now nothing comes to mind.”

“Think, Emerson!” Boynton said. “There must be something that you might even remotely wished you would have saved.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Emerson said. “I know this is frustrating to you, but there is nothing I would risk my life for to retrieve from a burning house.”

“Don’t you place value on anything?” Boynton said.

“I supposes I do, sir,” Emerson said. “But I can’t imagine running from a house with anything, but my life and never regretting that I didn’t stop to take something else with me.”

“Yesterday you said I had sold my soul to return to that burning house,” Boynton said. “Is that so?”

“I’m sorry for saying that, sir,” Emerson said. “I was rash.”

“Than we do make rash judgments in the heat of the moment, right, Mr. Emerson?” Boynton said.

“Yes, sir,” Emerson said. “We all have possessions and a house on fire that we are willing to run headlong into whether physical or just a trait. I suppose mine is speaking thoughtlessly.”

“Ethics and character are pure,” Boynton said. “They know no bounds. Ethics and character can be challenged by things or thoughts. Thoughts become things. Do not allow your thoughts to become things nor your things to become thoughts. Because of things your thoughts can become perverse and twisted. Mr. Emerson is on the right track. Everyone has displayed a weakness; what would you risk your life for and what do you regret not risking your life for. Many think I‘m not worthy to teach this class, but I do know the harm I‘ve caused and I will never run into a burning house for anything, nor will I speak without purpose.”

Boynton went on to relate what was at the root of his scandalous life. “Greed, greed for things, power, prestige, and wealth. You think those things will make you better and purer than others. They corrupt.”

After the lecture Emerson approached Boynton.

“What have you learned, Mr. Emerson?” Boynton said.

“Everyone has a burning house and things they are willing to run back inside to save,” Emerson said.

“Ethics and character are no more than the Golden Rule,” Boynton said. “Treat others the way you want to be treated and think in the same way. Protect your thoughts, young Emerson. Now there’s something worth running into a burning house for.”

“I think I have misjudged you,” Emerson said. “Along with many others.”

“Sometimes we run into our ideas and beliefs with all the conviction of saving something precious only to find we become singed or in my case severely charred,” Boynton chuckled.

“Thank you, sir,” Emerson said.

“Be decent, kind, honest and thoughtful in all things, Mr. Emerson.”

(Posted as 365 Writing Prompts)

(Posted as a Daily Prompt.)

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

Ethical Professor Boynton (Part 1)

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(One generation to another, values seem to change or do they? We all have our house afire and we all have something we will run inside a burning house to save. This is a two part story that explores that scenario.)

Professor Boynton was hardly qualified to be a professor on ethics. He received his professorship by being unethical as an inside Wall Street stock trader. Those on the board reasoned who better to teach ethics than one who has broken all the rules and now sees the error of his waywardness.

He was found amusing for the most part and even at times arrogant as if he alone was now the bastion of what is ethical.

In time the class became poorly attended. Most where there in the beginning to hear how the master of Wall Street spun his magical web of deceit and duplicity and to at least mention sometime in the future they attended his class.

The day came. It was a long winded lecture not about ethics, but how brilliant he was when he asked the question: “Your home is on fire. Assume all animals are safe. What did you grab? Write it now on a piece of paper, sign it, and pass it forward”

Boynton collected the papers. He stood at the lectern and cleared his throat as he arranged them. He read the possession and name one after one. “Computer, Allison Trumbull; Photo box, William Grabowski; Jewelry box, Megan Hanthorn, Checkbook, Burton Henshel – and so it went on as each student nervously awaited their paper to be read.

Emerson knew when he got to his paper. Boynton sat it aside and continued reading the others.

“Mr. Emerson,” Boynton said. “Your paper is blank.”

“Except for my name, sir,” Emerson said.

“My clear instruction were…”

“I know what they were,” Emerson said.

“Than why didn’t you write something?” Boynton said.

“I did,” Emerson said. “My name.”

“Mr. Emerson!” Boynton said firmly. “What did you grab?”

“Nothing,” Emerson said.

“For the purposes of this exercise you grabbed something,” Boynton said with his jaw tightened. “Tell me what it was?”

“My life was enough, sir,” Emerson said. “I would not surrender my life for computers, pictures, checkbooks, or strong boxes. That is final.”

“The idea is to take what is most precious to you,” Boynton said. “If you don’t choose something in order to participate I will be forced to grade you accordingly. What now say you, Mr. Emerson?”

“I feel sorry for you, sir,” Emerson said. “A man who has sold his soul to retrieve what was in a burning house and still has not learned anything from it.”

Boynton looked scornfully at Emerson. “Tomorrow I will pose another question. Emerson, I shall give you a chance to redeem yourself.”

(Continued tomorrow.)

(Posted as a 365 Writing Prompts)

(Posted as a Daily Prompt)

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A Speck Of Green Part 2 (From Steve’s Window)

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(Continued from yesterday.)

“Nobody ever comes down here,” Larry said. “It gets kind of lonely. Why don’t ya come over to my place. I got a couple of cold ones. Have a beer before you leave.”

“Sure,” Steve said. “I’m not having very much luck.”

“Maybe ya need to rest a bit and look for it with fresh eyes,” Larry said.

“That’s mighty nice of ya,” Steve said.

“Like I said I don’t get much company out here,” Larry chuckled. “Me and old SparkI scare a lot of people off.”

“I appreciate you letting me snoop around,” Steve said.

“Well,” Larry said. “Nothing is worth getting shot over, but you’ve worked for over an hour and come up with nothing’. Most people would have just looked around and left. That bench must be pretty important to you.”

“Just me and my dad,” Steve said.

“That’s important.,” Larry said. “It’s very important.”

The man ushered Steve to his back patio. On a small round glass patio table was an assortment of soft drinks and beer in cans.

“Pick your poison,” Larry said.

Steve picked up a beer and pulled the tab. “Thanks,” and took a drink.

“Have a seat,” Larry said. “I want to hear about your dad.”

Steve started to sit.

“No,” Larry said grinning widely. “Not there. Over there.” He pointed to the edge of the patio. There was the bench amidst and arrangement of plants.

Steve smiled. “That’s it isn‘t it?”

“Yeah,” Larry said. “That’s it. Have a seat.”

Steve sat and ran his hand over the pitted cement. He closed his eyes for a moment and he was there with his father. When Steve’s eyes opened it let go of a tear. Looking at the seat of the bench he was drawn to one particular pit in the cement that harbored a spec of green. He leaned close and blew away small particles of cement. He allowed his thoughts to escape the present and latch hold of the time he and his dad inadvertently placed that green speck on the bench.

“What is it?” Larry said.

“A speck of green paint,” Steve said. “On the day I remember my father and I sitting on this bench we had taken apart a toy jeep in order to paint it.”

“And green was the color,” Larry said.

“Yes,” Steve said.

They talked for a while: stories about Steve’s dad and the way things used to be when he was a boy.

Steve finished the beer. “I want to thank you for letting me sit here. It means a lot.”

“I’d invite you back,” Larry said. “But there will be no reason for you to come back. I’m giving the bench to you.”

“I’m not refusing,” Steve said. “But I owe you something.”

“I almost bulldozed that bench under,” Larry said. “And for some strange reason I kept it. I don’t mean to insult what it means to you, but I hate it. You’d be doing me a favor by taking it.”

“It’s a done deal,” Steve said.

Larry helped Steve load the bench into his truck and he drove away. In the review mirror was the leveled rubble of what used to be. In the bed of his truck was the pleasant reminder of a warm and pleasant summer day when there was nothing else to do, but for a father and son take part in a meaningless project.

Today Steve looks out his window and there is a bench that might appear out of place to the erudite observer. But to Steve it’s where it needs to be. It is the only place in the world for it.

(Posted as a Daily Prompt)

 (Posted as a 365 Writing Prompt)

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24 Comments

Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

A Speck Of Green – Part 1 (Looking for Dad)

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(Life is made of a collection of memories and good stories.)

Steve drove down a lonely lane, a familiar lane, but not of recent familiarity. It was of times long past, from when a boy. There at the dead-end of the lane was a leveled pile of rubble. Trees, tall and stately graced and surrounded where once a house stood.

It was a reminder of good times, of pleasant times, of simple times. A time when he was the apple of his dad’s eye. A time before he father’s storm of doubt, failure, and rejection.

Beyond the trees and rubble was a newer home; ranch style and well-kept. Scattered in the nearby was construction equipment, a few sheds, a 250 gallon fuel tank and chained to it a barking pit bull raged.

Steve poked and kicked around the rubble of a vacant lot. He looked up as he heard someone approach from a nearby house. It was a man in jeans, and flannel shirt and holding a double barrel shot-gun.

“What ya doin’ here?”

“I’m Steve Gooding. A house stood here a long time ago,” Steve said. “It’s where I lived as a boy.”

“Didn’t ask for your name. Didn’t you read the sign, ‘No Trespassing.’”

“I was about to knock on your door,” Steve said. “But I wanted to poke around first.”

“Well ya didn’t and I want ya off my property.”

“Sure,” Steve said. “I used to live here as a boy. Before I go do you remember a cement bench that stood about right here?”

“Yeah, now get the hell off my property. I got equipment all over. If people ain‘t tryin’ to steal it they‘re siphoning my gas. Ole Spark will gnaw your leg off if ya try to get some gas.”

“If you give me a chance to find it I’ll buy it from you,” Steve said.

“That bench must be pretty important to you.”

“It just holds a memory,” Steve said. “It’s not much of a memory, but it’s my memory. When I was a little boy my dad helped me with a little project. It wasn’t much, but I remember it and it seems pretty big to me now.”

“How old were you?”

“I think I was 5 or 6,” Steve said. “Look, you can hold that gun on me if you let me look around.”

“Go ahead and look around. Damn thing ain’t loaded anyway.”

Larry extended his hand and they shook hands

“Larry Snyder,” he said. “Glad to meet you, Steve. Ahem, minus the shot-gun.”

“Go ahead,” Larry said. “Look around. And if ole Spark gets loose he’s more likely to like you to death. But don’t try to get some gas. He’s very territorial and he thinks it belongs to him. I got to give him a steak ta pump gas for myself. Take your time.”

Larry walked back to the house and Steve scraped away and probed with a 3 foot long 2×4. He must have worked near an hour. Finally he gave up and tossed the board aside.

Larry returned from his house. “Find what you were looking for?”

“Nah,” Steve said. “Needle in a haystack,” Steve mumbled. “Maybe there are memories not worth uncovering. Maybe that’s the lesson. Thanks, Mr. Snyder. I won’t be bothering you anymore. It was just an old bench.”

“From the looks of things I probably got a good twenty years on you, so I’m going to pass something on,” Larry said. “What you did here today was not look for a bench, but you looked for your father and that’s a good thing. Believe me, Steve, men are always looking for their fathers.”

“Yeah,” Steve said. “You’re exactly right. Thanks for sharing that with me. It helps me a lot. I’ll be seeing ya.”

(Continued tomorrow.)

(Posted as 365 Daily Prompts)

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A Day With Chef Rene

th[8]The studio lights shined brightly on a newly equipped and up-to-date kitchen. It was the first episode of a new TV food program, A Day With Chef Rene. The host was Car Bumgard who had hosted several other flops.

“Chef Rene we are so proud to have you with us today, our first episode of A Day With Chef Rene.” Carl said. “As you can see the kitchen is all set and we are ready for you to create.”

“It is my pleasure to be here before your television audience,” Chef Rene said with a slight French accent.

“Before you begin, perhaps I can inform the viewing audience of your background,” Carl said.

“It is you program,” Chef Rene said.

“Not really,“ Carl said out of the side of mouth and continued. “Chef Rene learned the art and craft of food preparation from his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, all world renowned chefs. Chef Rene graduated from the French School of Culinary Arts in Paris, he has authored over twenty books on cuisine, he is the advisor for many international cooking institutes, he has prepared foods for nearly every head of state, he has his own line of cookware, and owns some of the best restaurants in Europe and the United States. Did I leave anything out?”

“I am also on the board of directors of several international restaurant chains,” Chef Rene said.

“Of course,” Carl said. “How could I forget.”

“I also produced this program,” Chef Rene said.

“Yes,” Carl said.

“And I own this network,” Chef Rene said.

“Yes,” Carl said and smiled uncomfortably.

“We start the show,” Chef Rene said.

“Yes, of course,” Carl said. “Ahem, ahem, The expression is often used, ‘the best thing since sliced bread.’ If anyone knows there is something better than slice bread it would be you, Chef Rene.”

“Yes,” Chef Rene said. “I would be the one. No one else knows cooking like Chef Rene.”

“So that is what our program is about today,” Carl said. “So, Chef Rene, I’m going to turn it over to you.”

“Yes,” Chef Rene said. “Now please hand me two slices of the already sliced bread.”

Carl handed it to him.

“Now lay them out flat like this,” Chef Rene said. “Take a smear of you favorite jelly, which is in my case grape, and smear two heaping tablespoons on one slice. Now put and equal amount of peanut butter on the other slice. Slap them to gather, thus. Pour 8 ounces of milk in a glass and go to town.”

“But, Chef Rene,” Carl said. “That is nothing more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“You are correct,” Chef Rene said. “And nobody has ever been able to come up with a better taste combination. Without the sliced bread we would have never had it.”

“That’s it for today, friends,” Carl said. “Be sure to return next week with Chef Rene and me when we will present…

“The best thing since canned beer,” Chef Rene said.

(Posted as a Daily Prompt)

(Posted at 365 Writing Prompts)

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Lame-Duck Coaches

"Hey, Petersen, you can have my job in a few months. It's gonna be open." "Dang! Now that's all I'm going to be able to think about."

“Hey, Petersen, you can have my job in a few months. It’s gonna be open.”
“Dang! Now that’s all I’m going to be able to think about.”

The importance of the loss to Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl is coming into focus. The peegate debacle led to a complete melt-down in morale and took the focus from the game. It could not have been orchestrated better.

The loss to Oregon State was huge. It may have cost a few of recruits, especially the ones that went to where nearly the entire Boise State coaching staff went – University of Washington.

The BSU coaches had no incentive to win at the Hawaii Bowl. Does that mean they rigged it to lose? Absolutely not! But the incentive was clearly not there.

Coaches are fierce competitors by nature, but they were a lame-duck coaching staff. They knew their future was not with Boise. They knew that a Boise win might make it a little more difficult to flip a recruit their way when they took up residency in Seattle.

Going to the Hawaii Bowl is like getting $2 tickets for a Broncos Basketball game; (not the basketball team’s fault, the fans) you’re there to just fill the seats. There was nothing to be gained in the final rankings; only the prestige that goes along with winning a bowl game and possibly attracting better recruits as a result of a victory.

If the head coach stays (which he didn’t, he had recruiting for UW to do) he would have at least tried to pad his resume with another win. Since the rest of the coaching staff was heading to UW what do they have to prove. Likely all of them knew they had jobs waiting for them at UW… except for one.

And coincidently the only bright spot was the coach who didn’t go to UW, Robert Prince. Grant Hedrick and the Boise State offense out-passed the heralded Beaver passing attack 382 yards to 259 and beat them in total offense. Prince didn’t fumble two balls ran back for TDs and checking the highlights he didn’t miss one tackle.

All agree that the last two years with the exception of a few bright spots BSU’s performance has been less than stellar. It starts at the top. At times, especially this past season, Petersen looked disengaged on the sidelines. Something like that is like the pebble in the pond; the ripples spread outward.

Petersen probably saw himself becoming anemic. He may have felt he needed a jolt; a new challenge to stimulate his ego and competitive spirit.

The BSU program needs a jolt, a wake-up call. Nothing magic happens when a recruit comes to Boise. The blue turf does not suddenly infuse a player with super powers. It is hard work and heart, maybe just maybe Petersen and his staff forgot that. Not the hard work, but the incentive to go out and prove you’re as good if not better than your opponents.

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Ah, The Lonely People

th32FKCAI4(Continued from Yesterday)

For the next month, indeed, the words of Pastor Miller rolled around in Jimmy’s head as he said they would.

One day while placing the mail on Miss Cavander’s desk she asked, “Did you go out to visit Pastor Miller?”

“Yes,” Jimmy said.

“I thought so,” Miss Cavander said. “You’ve been acting a bit strange as of late. What did you discuss?

“He shared with me many of his memories about the church,” Jimmy said. “He was the only pastor for 26 years; he did it all. He said he allowed the weasels to slip in and they forced him out.  And we talked about a eulogy.”

“Did he tell you to go to hell?” Miss Cavander said.

“No,” Jimmy said and smiled.

“Than he must like you,” Miss Cavander said.

“Yes, I’m sure he does,” Jimmy said. “He suggested a very short eulogy and I’m going to give it as he wished. But a proper funeral should have music. You know him well what do you think he’d like?”

“Pastor Miller and I were in our thirties when The Beatles became popular,” Miss Cavander said. “We often listened to them and as soon as we saw a car pull-up in the parking lot we turned them off. We didn‘t want anyone thinking we were hippies or something. Pastor Miller was a good man, he wasn‘t a prude.”

“A Beatles selection, Miss Cavander?” Jimmy said. “Something from them that would describe who he was?”

“Now you’re thinking,” Miss Cavander said.

“What would you suggest, Miss Cavander?” Jimmy said.

“When that day comes,” Miss Cavander said. “You give the eulogy and I’ll play a song. It will be a surprise.”

“Fair enough, Miss Cavander,” Jimmy said. “I suspect it will be my last eulogy.”

“I suspect so,” Miss Cavander said. “The only mention Pastor Miller made of you is that you were special and that someday you’ll find an honest living.”

Three weeks later Pastor Miller died. His funeral was scheduled at small funeral home in town. The church deacons did not want to spend the extra money it would take to heat the auditorium and the church’s heated swimming pool was costing them a fortune as it was. All the auxiliary rooms were in use; drug rehab, Marriage Counseling, Divorced Couples Prayer Meeting, day-care, Cooking for Jesus classes, Christian Businessmen’s Roundtable, and Gays for Reform and Reconciliation.

There was only one person present at the funeral as Jimmy stepped to the lectern, Miss Cavander. He smiled at her and she smiled in return.

Jimmy cleared his throat. “It was all for nothing.” He nodded at Miss Cavander she stood and walked to the back of the room. She selected a track on a CD. Jimmy and Miss Cavander sat reverentially and listened.

After the song Jimmy asked Miss Cavander, “Can I take you to lunch?”

“Certainly,” Miss Cavander said.

“To make this a very pleasant lunch I’m handing you an envelope,” Jimmy said.

“What’s in it?” Miss Cavander said.

“My resignation,” Jimmy said.

“I’ll drop it off when I clean out my things,” Miss Cavander said. “I have resigned also.”

“Curious,” Jimmy said.

“What do you plan on doing?” Miss Cavander said.

“Don’t know,” Jimmy said. “What was it Pastor Miller wanted to be besides a pastor. In all the time you worked together he must have said something.”

“Strange you should ask,” Miss Cavander said. “When he got frustrated he always said he should have been a farmer and I’d always say you never farmed a day in your life and he’d say you’re right. Now that I think about it I crushed the man’s real ambition. Have you ever thought about farming, Jimmy?”

“No,” Jimmy said. “Why did he want to be a farmer?”

“Over the years Pastor Miller must have buried hundreds of farmers,” Miss Cavandar said. “They never die alone. Every farmer struggles and works alone all his life. Other farmers know that. When they here an old farmer died they come.”

“Hmmm,” Jimmy said.

“What was the name of the song you played?” Jimmy said. “It was interesting.”

Eleanor Rigby,” Miss Cavander said.

“Yes,” Jimmy said. “It’s a lonely song.”

“He was a lonely man,” Miss Cavander said.

“So am I Miss Cavander,” Jimmy said. “So am I.”

(365 Writing Prompts’ Post)

(Also posted as a Daily Prompt)

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