Tag Archives: short stories

The Sixth Man – Episode 36

By Appointment Only

Wilson continued to stay in the motel. He contacted his family in Atlanta and only told them that he met people who remembered him and beginning to piece things together. He told them of his plans to go to Houston.

He dropped by Marti’s home on the day he planned to drive to Houston. Lynn was there also.

She hugged him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Be careful, keep in touch and… I love you, Dad.”

And I love you, my little girl,” Wilson said.

He stepped over to Marti. “We had a special love didn’t we?”

Yes,” Marti said. “We sure did.”

Wilson caressed her hand and kissed her on the cheek. Marti softly touched the spot he kissed.

You still love me, don’t you?” Marti said.

I’ll be safe,” Wilson said.

Wilson drove away. “How is this all going to be reconciled?” he said. “This is such a mess.”

At the end of two days of driving Wilson checked into a motel on the outskirts of Houston. He found the name of P. H. Haverston as a practicing psychologists. The next morning he called for an appointment.

We don’t have any openings untill early next week?” the receptionist said.

It’s very urgent,” Wilson said.

We can recommend another psychologists if it’s that urgent,” the receptionists said.

Dr. Harveston comes highly recommended,” Wilson said, “and I want to see no one but him.”

How would it be if we put you on a waiting list,” the receptionists said. “If someone cancels we will call you.”

If that’s the best you can do I guess that will be fine,” Wilson said. He gave her his cell phone number and waited for two days. He did not give her the name Wilson Gentry. He was suspicious of Haverston and thought the best approach would be to surprise him.

During that time he called Lynn and they talked for an hour. He called Atlanta and told his family of the progress.

It was eight in the morning and Wilson was about ready to go out for breakfast. He pulled his phone from his pants pocket. “Hello.”

Is this Mr. Arnold?”

Yes,” Wilson said.

This is Doctor Haverston’s office, we had a cancellation. Could you possibly be here in two hours?”

Yes,” Wilson said. “10 o’clock, right?”

Yes, Mr. Arnold.”

I’ll see you then,” Wilson said.

Could you arrive about 30 minutes early to fill out some paper work and answer a few questions about why you want to see Dr. Haverston?”

Yes,” Wilson said. “I’ll be there at 9:20.”

Wilson had a light breakfast and drove to Haverston’s office.

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Dad and The Pastor; Cement Shoes – Part 1

thPPGB7DH4Dad was no theologian, but he read and meditated on the Bible as much as any scholar ever did. Although he claimed it was nothing more than an intellectual exercise to keep cobwebs from accumulating over the synapses in his brain I knew he was a man of deep faith and conviction.

Several of times a year Pastor Bowden, a Lutheran pastor, came by to sharpen his skills on Dad.

It was later in life that I found out from the pastor’s daughter that he studied a week before visiting Dad.

Dad was a simple man, a farmer, quit school in the 8th grade. “If farmer ain’t planting, cultivating, harvesting, or fixing his equipment he should be reading, writing, figuring, or making a family,” Dad said a time or two.

When Bowden came around Dad always gave me “the look” which meant find something to do or he’d just tell me to find something to do or get lost.

If memory serves me, I was in the sixth grade when Bowden came by on a warm fall Saturday afternoon. I let him in and ran to the barn to get Dad. He wiped the dripping sweat from his brow and walked to the house. He washed his hands and splashed water on his face and wiped dry.

He walked into the living room where Bowden was sitting in Dad’s chair. He did not raise when Dad entered the room.

“Say, Bowden,” Dad said, “Did you ever get the point of Jesus’ illustration of not taking the best seat in the house, because you might be embarrassed if someone more important arrives you may be asked to move?”

“I recall that one,” Bowden said.

Dad turned to me. “You got your homework done?” Before I could say anything Dad continued, “Go upstairs and finish it.”

As I walked up the steps I heard Dad say, “Back to Jesus and his illustration, Bowden. Over there is a chair for guests. Get out of my chair. The work I’ve deposited in that chair might rub off on you. The last time I sat in the chair I fell into a pile of cow shit just before. I wiped it clean, but one can never be sure.”

I giggled on the way up to my bedroom.

My bedroom was right above the living room. If the vent was open conversations were heard as if in the living room. So as not to make a sound I slowly eased the vent wider.

“So, Bowden, now that you’re comfortable in the guest chair,” Dad said. “What brings you this way?”

“I wanted to know how you’re doing and invite your family to Sunday services.”

“That is nice of you, Bowden,” Dad said. “But you know the routine.”

“It will be a good start for you and you family,” Bowden said. “You need the church in your life.”

“The church did me a favor many years ago,” Dad said. “Once I was on the outside I was able to think without the interference of tradition, doctrine, and dogma.”

“But church tradition, doctrine, and dogma cements us in our faith,” Bowden said.

“To the contrary, Bowden,” Dad said. “It slows us down. Have you ever heard that gangsters use the expression cement shoes. They are a weight that sinks us. You’re a smart man, Bowden, you know that. Those things enslave people. Recall what Jesus said about the traditions of his time?”

“Not off hand,” Bowden said.

“It’s in Matthew, chapter 15,” Dad said. “There are words to the effect that tradition is not good, it invalidates God’s word.”

I crept over to my desk and grabbed my Bible. I found Dad’s citation and read it.

“It is obvious that Jesus was referring the Jewish dispensation,” Bowden said. “Agreed?”

There was silence.

“I got you there, don’t I?” Bowden said confidently.

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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Cashing In On A Pro Career – Part 1

thSIWC35FJIt was one of those cold winter nights in upstate New York where it seems to snow forever. A gentle fire crackled in the fireplace. An old man talked to his granddaughter amid books and leather furniture. It was night for stories, warmth, and hot chocolate.

Millie found an old black and white glossy 8X10 photograph among the books. “Are one of these guys you, grandpa?” Millie held it close to Charley for examination.

“That’s me,” Charley said gazing through is bifocals and the fog of time, “standing next to Jack Twyman, the ole Rochester Royals.” He pointed to himself. “That Jack Twyman was a real player. As good a shot as there’ll ever be.”

“I didn’t know you played professional basketball, Grandpa,” Millie said.

“Well, it wasn’t much of a career,” Charley said. “I was a real hot shot in my high school days and in college I was better than average. I had a college buddy whose dad worked for the Rochester Royals and he got me a tryout.”

“You must have been good enough,” Millie said, “You made the team photo. How long did you play?”

“One game,” Charley said, “and for some reason they let me go. The Royals were heading into to late November against the New York Knicks. Everybody on their bench had some sort of injury. That’s when I got the call. I was invited to a one day tryout.”

“How much did you get paid?” Millie asked.

“Oh, big money,” Charley smiled. “$50 and that covered everything.”

“Tell me about that game,” Millie said.

“It was midway through the third quarter at Madison Square Garden and the veterans were huffing and puffing; their months were open and tongues dragging on the court. Coach empties the bench. I’m the last to go in.”

“How long did you get to play?” Millie said.

“3 minutes 17 seconds,” Charley said. “There’s nothing like stepping on to the court at the Garden. It’s so smooth and shiny you think it’s wet. You can almost see your reflection in it. The rims are special, they’re magical. It looks as if the balls are destined to go through the rim. During warm-ups I couldn’t miss. When I walked onto the court I felt like I was king; I was as good as anybody. When they announced my name I felt like jumping around and saying that’s me. I didn’t want that moment to ever end.”

“Did you score?” Millie said.

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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Writing A Short Story Everyday

Great Expectations

Tell us about one thing (or more) that you promised yourself you’d accomplish by the end of the year. How would you feel once you do? What if you don’t?

I set out to write a short story a day; that’s 364 for the year. Early in the challenge I realized that it was stifling to end short stories that had more to be told and it would take more time to complete it. Stories have a natural flow and ending.

I adjusted my yearly challenge. Some short stories are broken into episodes, parts, or chapters so that when the year comes to an end there will be far less than my 364 goal; but when all stories,episodes, parts, and chapters are added together there will be one for each day of the year.

At present I have written ahead until the end of August. I am running out of steam. There is a sort of an emotional and mental exhaustion that has come along with the challenge. I’ve taken about a five day break, but hope to pick up the pace in a few days.

Here is my short story for the day. It is episodic,  Romancing Ted – Part 1 – Who Is Lisa?.

 

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The Daily Prompt and The Short Story – The Lonely Dream Maker

He’s (She’s) So Fine

What was it that drew you to your significant other? Their blue eyes? Their ginger countenance? Their smile? Their voice?

Let me start out by saying, the smile. Yep, that smile got me and still gets me today. Even to this day I say at least once a day, “I love your smile.”

Attraction and why men and women marry is sort of easy. It is physical and later emotional and intellectual. How ofter have amateur matchmakers and casual observers said, “they look so cute together.” The match is physical at first; not bookends, but things that go together well.

How often do you see a couple divorce and remarry a person that closely resembles the divorced spouse? This is not 100% full-proof, but it’s more than coincidence. And size matters; The divorced woman will find a 5’10” 175 pound guy again, the guy will find another 5’4″ 135 pound gal.

Well that’s all I have to say about human relationships. Here is my short story for the day.

The Lonely Dream Makerth6IM6K33S 

Eldon’s job at the restaurant was done an hour after it closed. From 11:00 PM until 6:00 AM he walked the streets of downtown Des Moines, Iowa. When the weather was cold he could be seen some of the night nursing coffees at an all-night diner. For the most part he walked the streets.

At first it was a random meandering, but soon it was predictable. You could almost set a watch as to where he would be at a given time.

People wondered and talked about why Eldon did what he did, but no one questioned him.

To all the people that worked at night; the policemen, the firemen, night watchmen, cab drivers, trash collectors, night janitors, and even the street people – he was a comfort, a constant that let them know all was well and all was normal.

On one of those cold nights where the wind and snow whipped through the empty streets like a ghost of death Eldon stopped for a coffee and piece of apple pie at a diner.

Eldon sat alone at the counter.

Rollie, the night cook came from behind the counter, sat next to Eldon, and finally ask the question, “Why do you do it, Eldon?”

“Do what?” Eldon said.

“Walk the street till morning,” Rollie said.

“While some people are catching sleep, I’m catching dreams,” Eldon said. “I’m sort of keeping watch on the city.”

“We got policemen and firemen that do that,” Rollie said.

“I know,” Eldon said. “They make sure bad things don’t happen. I make sure of all the good dreams.”

“What!” Rollie said.

“I think and dream good things,” Eldon said. “I make up dreams and release them into the night.”

Rollie smiled uncomfortably and moved away.

“Rollie,” Eldon said. “You see why dream making is a lonely job?”

 

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The Match (Part 5) 40 Acres

Daily Prompt: Express Yourself!

Do you love to dance, sing, write, sculpt, paint, or debate? What’s your favorite way to express yourself, creatively?

Hmm, I never thought of debating as being a creative endeavor. Although when debating I do make up facts to support my position. Some may argue, that is laying, but as the post suggests, I’m only expressing my creative abilities. In fact, laying is the sincerest form of creative writing. (first said here by me)

Seriously, writing seems to be the only endeavor for which I have ever shown any sort of creative flare. (and some doubt that) Certainly the ability to create a painting, a sculpture, or play any instrument, that gene has never seen the light of day in my family, only the desire. I can’t even draw a proper stick man, whistle a tune, or whittle a pointed stick. Well that’s not really true; all my art looks like stick men, everything I whistle sounds like the theme to the Twilight Zone, and all my whittling turns out to be pointed sticks, for which without them my family would have nothing on which to roast hot dogs.

What follows is the 5th episode in the short story, The Match. I hope you are enjoying it. There are a few more to go.

thS61ZYS5BThe Match (Part 5)
40 Acres

(Continued from yesterday.)

Rusty pulled onto the highway, drove for a while, and eventually headed west. He was a man in no hurry. He drove wherever his own inclination guided and at what ever speed the wind allowed.

Sometimes he stopped at a rest area and sat on a bench and wondered himself tired. He slipped back into the camper and rested until he was no longer able to close his eyes and then drove on some more. He drove into the night. He watched the sun rise in his side view mirrors.

Montana. Why Montana, he thought? Was it a secret passion of his father? Was it where he dreamed of some day living? It was a puzzle. Perhaps the missing piece will be there, but most likely not. His dad was always sort of a mystery and would remain so.

Rusty drove on.

There is nothing like driving that can sort a man’s thoughts. The entire act of driving is a metaphor for life; solving problems, making slight adjustments in steering, gauging speed, watching for the unexpected, enjoying scenery, looking forward, and forgetting what was left behind. Somehow it prepares and gears the mind for mediation and problem solving.

There are places in these United States that are there and it’s a mystery why. One such place was where Rusty was heading, Plevna, Montana. There was nothing there, only 40 acres of land.

He wondered how his dad even came to own it and nearly as important, why?

He wondered much about his dad as he drove. Details he was able to put together over the years from whispers and newspaper accounts. Sam owned a construction company. He had a partner, Conrad Billings. Billings was the investor and Sam actually ran the business. Billings did the books, but Sam caught him stealing from the company. Sam killed Billings. That was too simple Rusty always thought, but it was all he had.

The trial was over before it started. Conrad Billings was a well known man. Known to be generous, kind, and upstanding. The trial was two days.

That was something that Rusty lived with. Of course, few actually knew he was the son of Sam Collins, but Rusty knew. It kept him locked away emotionally for fear he might be exposed as the son of the man who killed Conrad Billings.

Montana looked like a bright new beginning. The sky opened as if forever lay in front of Rusty for his taking. There was nothing but nothing and everything including everything. The eyes could not fill with all the openness and wonder. It was flat, clean, and spacious.

With help from a local grain elevator worker Rusty was able to locate the land. He drove to the location. There was nothing on it. I was flat and unoccupied, not even a tree. Rusty shook his head. “Why?” he said.

Rusty drove to the nearest farm. He knocked on the door. No one was home. He walked to the a large metal barn. The doors were open. Rusty leaned in. There were three tractors and a large combine. He heard the sound as if someone were working on one the pieces of machinery. He heard a grunt.

“Hello,” Rusty said.

“Yeah,” a man walked from between two tractors. “What can I do for ya?”

“My names Rusty Collins,” Rusty said. Suddenly it seemed strange. It was the first time he remembered saying his name without fear of shame. “I have a deed for 40 acres of land south of your place. Do you know anything about it?”

“Yeah,” the man said wiping his hands on a rag. “My name’s Bob Chapman. Me and my dad have been farming the land for as long as I can remember. You come to sell it to us?”

“Well,” Rusty said. “I just got here and I don’t know anything about the land. Can you tell me what you know.”

“We lease it,” Bob said. “A $1 a year, we pay taxes, and a legal fee. A lawyer takes care of everything for somebody back east. I guess you’re that somebody.”

“That was something I didn’t know until a few weeks ago,” Rusty said.

“I’ll give you the name of the lawyer,” Bob said. “His office is up the road in Miles City.”

“Is there anything else you know about the land? Rusty said.

“That’s it,” Bob said. “You tell me?”

“My father died some years ago,” Rusty said. “I just recently came across his papers. He left the land to me. I don’t know why he bought it or when.”

“If you’re looking to sell it,” Bob said. “I’d appreciate it if you’d let us have a crack at it before it goes on the market. We’ll give ya a fair price.”

“You’ve probably come to think of it as yours anyway,” Rusty said. “Don’t worry I’m not the haggling type. If I decide to sell I trust you’ll offer a fair price.”

“How do you know that?” Bob smiled.

“Well, ya got me there,” Rusty said. “I don’t, but anything is more than what I expect.” Rusty offered his hand and they shook hands. “I’ll be getting back with you.”

“Been a pleasure,” Bob said. “Harry Proxmire.”

“Harry Proxmire?” Rusty said. “The lawyer in Miles City.”

“Gotcha,” Rusty said.

(Continued tomorrow.)

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Daily Prompt and “Quack” (a beautiful short story)

Daily Prompt: Sixteen Tons

How do you feel about your job? Do you spring out of bed, looking forward to work? Or, is your job a soul-destroying monotony of pure drudgery, or somewhere in between?

Some idiot said find what you like to do and make a living at it and it will never be a job. Well kiss it buddy! I worked in a auto parts factory for 30 years. I didn’t like it, but I had to find a way to like it. For 28 of my 30 years I didn’t mind going to work, but now that I’m retired and can say I truly hated my job.

Now I’m retired. I should have retired when I was 25.

We all can’t live in a weather beaten house off the rugged coast of Maine writing the great American novel or stand before a majestic mountain with canvass and brushes, somebody has to make the world tick.

That’s my two-cents worth. (Did you notice the bitterness?) Anyway here’s a lovely story about love and ducks:

 Quack

It was a walk along the river. A walk that Cat dreaded. A warm day. A cool breeze off the water. Ducks paddling against the current. A leaf or so parachuting to thethJBZI91NE water and floating away.

“Rivers are great metaphors for life,” Cat said seriously.

“How so?” Nile said bending down to pick up a stone and skipped it across the water.

“They run their course,” Cat said. “And empty into the sea and it’s as if the river never existed.”

“That sounds rather depressing,” Nile forced a smile.

“The same is with relationships,” Cat said trying to be matter of fact. “They run their course and eventually we never knew they existed.”

“I don’t think so,” Nile said turning to Cat surprised at her logic and tone.

“I think our river has ran its course,” Cat said staring away from Nile and at the river.

“I thought it was going so well,” Nile said.

“All good things must come to an end,” Cat said.

“Why?” Nile said.

“Because it just does,” Cat smiled.

“I don’t think it does,” Nile said. “I think expectations change. Most of the things we read or hear aren‘t true. People really don‘t grow apart. It is a purposeful endeavor. It‘s not that they want to grow apart they stop doing things that make them grow together.”

“What makes you the expert?” Cat fluttered her eyes.

“Do you want an expert?” Nile gestured by tossing his arm in the air. “Who of us is?”

“This whole thing seems like déjà vu to me,” Cat said. “It’s like it has all happened before and I’m being swept along with the current. We have no say so.”

“Let’s just ignore all we’ve heard about karma, fate, déjà vu, premonitions, and what ever. I don’t believe in those things. If those things exist we don’t have any control over our future at all. That‘s a bleak existence. Look at those ducks; they will be there tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. They fight the current.”

Cat looked into Nile’s eyes. “This is all new. It’s an adventure that I’m willing to take and there is no turning back.”

“What made you change your mind?” Nile said.

“Love is strong,” Cat said. “And I don’t hear any hint of weakness in your voice or in you eyes.”

Nile looked at Cat and smiled. “Quack.”

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