chickens · Ducks · Farming · Humor · Nature · Neighbors · Relationships

Ugly Ducklings

We all know not to count our chickens before they hatch.

A neighbor visited and chatted with my husband about wanting to incubate a batch of ducklings. She’d found a brand new incubator at an estate sale but didn’t know how to use it and was leaving for an extended period of time. They discussed the timeline and agreed to do it. I’ll call her Gabby because I inevitably find myself backing out of a room once she starts talking. It’s all pleasant chitchat, I just get the distinct sense that not only is my input is not required in these “conversations”, but worse, that she might NEVER stop talking.

My work day was interrupted later in the week by Garrulous Gabby dropped in carrying 16 fertilized eggs. They were carefully wrapped in a worn yellow towel, a situation so precarious she was literally biting her tongue and staring at the eggs. Her head was leaning so far forward as she walked that I was afraid she would break into a trot or fall on her face on the eggs. As soon as I took them from her she exhaled deeply and immediately took up a line of thought I didn’t follow, sucking up all the air in the room. She made endless trips to her car for the incubator and its various parts, talking the whole time, while I impertinently prepared a spot for the 2 foot square contraption in my dining room.

I am a reluctant farmer’s wife so gall rises within me whenever I enter these situations. How do I get reined into them? “Isn’t it wonderful?” The farmer cajoles over-enthusiastically.

“No!” I say. I am the one that ends up with stinky chicks in my closet for  weeks on end. I am the one that ends up shaving years off my life scaling fences while running away from mad-cow infested beasts. I am the one that has to listen to interminable conversations about ducks despite my attempts to stay out of his dealings with her. “It is not wonderful!”

She checked in frequently while she was away, yakkity voicemails to boot, “I can’t find your husband’s number… I know there are 21 more days to go. Ducks incubate a week longer than chickens, you know…. We are having a great time. I just don’t want you to feel like I abandoned my project on you.”

With a week left, the farmer starts preparation for the arrival of the ducklings. Humidity in the incubator must be adjusted. Temperature too. He’s starting to get excited. I’m staying out of it. I’d just like the space in my dining room back from its barn status.

We wake up in the morning to very loud peeping. No critters in the incubator but boy those eggs are rocking back and forth. That can’t be right. He looks at his calendar again. Hmm. Sure enough they start hatching and we are all befuddled. Not only are they very early, but there are no bills, and no webbed feet. They are all chicks!

It makes for great laughs with everyone that’s come through, curious about the operation. Gabby hasn’t checked in and I’m not about to initiate contact. This is going to be good.

A few hatch and the farmer brings in a massive cage with feeders, waterers, poop catchers, warming lights, receiving blankets, the works. I might as well set the dining chairs on the table and move it into the kitchen. The nesting boxes and barn doors can go right here.

Some eggs haven’t hatched and we leave them in the incubator. Maybe it was a mixed batch and the ducklings will hatch in a few days. By the next Saturday, I’m tired of dust and ridiculously loud cheeping. I declare the rest of the eggs are duds. I text her, unable to contain the surprise any more, “Your ducks are ready for you to come pick up.”

“What?!” She screams, calling back immediately. I put her on speakerphone. This is going to be really good. “That is terrible. They are not supposed to be ducks! I thought they were chickens!”

All six people in the room fall over laughing. We’d all heard, repeatedly, that they were duck eggs. The farmers wife shakes her head in dismay.

Don’t predestine your ducklings before they hatch.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/identity/

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Anxiety · Authority · Christian · Cows · Daughters · Death · Faith · Farming · Fear · Health · horror · Humor · Maturity · Mishaps · mothers · Spiritual

If You Believe

black cow

If you know anything me, it’s my feelings about cows. You can find contributing factors here: https://thukumainen.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/wild-about-cows/. And to think I am married to a man who calls himself a rancher. Very sad. I posted that blog a year ago and my feelings haven’t changed much.

Shortly after that, Emma who’d grown up on a dairy farm shared how she was washing dishes in the sink one sunny day while her kids played outside. She was watching them dreamily in the sand pit through the open kitchen window. She’d just picked up the last glass from the warm sudsy water when she heard a sickening bellow. She looked up to behold her 3 year old daughter sitting on the bottom rung of a gate to the field while one of their massive cows came running across the field. “Oh God,” she moaned gripping the side of the sink. There was no way she could even set that glass down before the cow got to her baby, let alone get out there to rescue her.

In slow motion, it seemed, little Layla hopped off the gate she was sitting on and authoritatively stuck a stubby little hand straight out in front of her and yelled, “You stop!”

The colossal brown cow skidded to a screeching halt not ten feet from Layla. The cow lowered her immense head and pounded the dry ground. She seemed to be reconsidering her actions and she mooed, projecting slime all over the place. “No! Bad cow!” commanded the little girl, hands akimbo and stomping her miniature pink cowboy boot in defiance. That cow sniffed at the dirt and slowly turned her head before walking away.

Emma barely heard the glass shatter, muffled by the soapy water, as she tore through the door.  She ran pell-mell to her baby in the field, tripping over broken branches while her apron fluttered like a flag in the wind. She grabbed her like she would never let go, sobbing fitfully.

“Mama sad?” asked Layla quizzically placing dirty little hands on her mother’s tear-stained face.

“No, baby. Mama’s very happy.”

__________________________________________

This week I have encountered many people who are going through various degrees of apprehension for one reason or another. It has astounded me, I don’t remember it being this unbridled, almost epidemic. Many posts I’ve visited have entailed details from anxiety ridden writers expressing hopelessness about the world’s plight and our leaders’ wanton disregard for us. Sitting in prayer groups, I’ve prayed for people dealing with fears of flying, fears they can’t put their fingers on, and fear of the future.

It seems we are being pummeled by angst and asphyxiated under its weight.

Are we paying too much attention to current events? More importantly are we basing all our trust and hope on the shifting sands of circumstances? Are we listening too closely to the primal internal voices that are gifts for our survival, but which we have amplified with the megaphone of attention?

The resulting degree of stress is ravaging our health, our wellness, and our souls. It exudes from our every pore so that we contaminate people around us. It’s affecting our children and grandchildren and shortchanging any chance for joy and a vibrant life. It grows like a cancer and stifles our very lives.

Can we, like little Layla stand up to these demons and gain control of ourselves and our reactions to our stressors. We can drop and allow them to trample us mercilessly and fling us up in the air. We can turn and run like lightning with the massive cows in hot pursuit. Or we can stick our little hands out in their face and scream “STOP!” This lion must find a heart.

See that day, Emma learned and then taught me about authority that is vested within us. It is the authority of a thirty pounder against a thousand pounder. Within me is mastery and dominion over my reactions to circumstances. But I must learn to wield it. It is a spiritual weapon that I can brandish to quell the enemies of my soul.

Jesus died that I might have life, and life abundantly. Peace and His presence are two things He has assured me He will never withdraw from me. Hope and joy are mine to enjoy despite the worst possible circumstances in life. Otherwise what is our faith for? I’ve tried many others and they are all sinking sands. He alone has seen me, and countless others over the ages, through thick and thin VALIANTLY. His are promises that we will not be shaken if we stand upon the Rock that He is.

If you don’t know Jesus, He is a simple invitation away. All you have to do is believe He is the son of God who died to save you and who came back to life so YOU might have life. His presence in your life is the authority to speak over your perspective on life’s circumstances and command your fears to be still.

Here’s a great truth: You can’t think two thoughts at the same time. And tough times call for soul talk.  In 1752, Katharina A. von Schlegel penned “Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side.” What a great mantra. It has amazing words. Enjoy Kari Jobe’s rendition of it.

Ages before, King David said, “Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” Psalm 42:11. Sometimes I say, a thousand times, “I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord.” I’ll sing a song or meditate on and recount a piece of scripture. Scream it if you need to or just think it, though your knees are knocking.

And should the circumstances do you in, you have a blessed promised eternity awaiting you. One of complete rest and bliss in His presence. Death will be your final enemy and you WILL overcome it victoriously. You can’t lose!!

So put your hands on your little hips and stomp those sparkly cowgirl boots. Silence that bellowing cow and speak your truth.

Image retrieved from https://i.pinimg.com/564x/09/3f/5b/093f5b9a471196711493b2115f47cd8c.jpg

on 10/9/17 7pm.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/believe/

Aging · Caregiving · culture · Death · Family · Humor · language · Money · Relationships · sad · Thanksgiving · Work

Burying the Cat II

JD darted from the church and into his car in record time. Drenched in sweat, he felt like he would pass out. After he’d got a grip on himself, he reached into his front pocket of his stiff new Bi-Mart jeans for the infamous phone.

He stilled his shaky hands and flipped the little gadget open, muttering at it the whole time. 6 missed calls in 2 minutes. It was his elderly client Lynn. He pushed call.

She answered immediately. “Halo JD.”

He could tell something was very wrong. “Are you okay? What’s the matter?”

“It’s not good.” She said. He could tell she’d been crying. “Can you come?”

“I’ll be right there.” He started his car. He raced the familiar 25 miles there and let himself into the house, scared stiff. “Lynn!” he called gently.

She sat on a chair facing away from him and he hurried to her. When he got to her, he stepped back in utter dismay. She was cradling a very dead cat!

She started bawling when she saw him. “He was very sick this morning when I woke up. By the time I showered and called the vet, he was dead.” She sobbed helplessly.

He was aghast. He was tempted to say, “Is this why you called me?” but she couldn’t hear anything over the sobs anyhow. She reached out an arm for a hug. He leaned in and tried very hard not to touch the cat. “It’s okay, Lynn. I’m so sorry.”

She held him for a long time. So long his back started to cramp. Then his stomach started growling again. And that cat, he was certain he could feel it squirming, or winking at him. Or something.

Two hours later, he helped her out to a spot where they had decided Gumby would be buried. He set a chair up by the old magnolia and  scraped a perimeter for the hole. Once she approved it he got to work digging  a hole, 2 feet by 2 feet. He gritted his teeth at having to dig with his weekend clothes on, but he couldn’t very well go back home  to change at this point. The rhythmic strike of the shovel followed by the thud of the moist dirt landing was punctuated by Lynn’s soft sobs. Strike, thud, sob. Strike, thud, sob, sniffle.

He pulled his bandana from his pocket, wiped the sweat off his brow, threw the shovel off to the side and jumped out of the three foot deep hole. Lynn had wrapped Gumby in one of her towels and JD slowly reached out to receive it. He was met with a visceral wail and she clutched tightly at her stiff but beloved pet.

JD stood by trying not to the think of the tamales at his house that his friends were probably devouring without him. He didn’t want to deny her this precious moment with Gumby but he had spent all day yesterday preparing them and his cousin cooked them while he was at church.

He cleared his throat and placed his hand on her shoulder after she wiped her nose on the sleeve of her pink polyester robe. “Honey,” she started, “I don’t that’s deep enough. I don’t want coyotes and racoons digging him up. Let’s make it a little deeper.”

He jumped back in and dug first one foot, then two feet deeper. Unfortunately this also meant he had to make it wider than two foot square. He put his foot down when he was chest deep and she mistook his tear for sympathy. “Gumby always loved you so very much,” she said wanly, rocking him back and forth.

_______________________________________________________________

“Donde estas?” yelled his cousin, Pablo trying to make himself heard over the loud music in the background.

“I’m coming from buying tulips and heading to Lynn’s house,” JD replied. “Hide me a bunch of tamales.”

“Tulips? What about the tamales? Estas loco? ” Pablo scratched his head, sure he’d heard wrong.

“Hide me 6 tamales. I’ll be home soon. I think,” and he hung up, exasperated. There was nothing like missing a tamale fiesta at your own house.

She’d decided she needed tulips on the grave so that she had something pretty to enjoy when she sat by the chair she’d had him cement under the magnolia tree. That had taken another hour and a half but she just had to have those tulips. They were Gumby’s favorites, she said. She had him lay them out, first one way then another before settling on  a third configuration. He buried them then set up some rockery that the tulips would adorn.

He pulled into his driveway at 6 p.m. to find folding chairs, dirty dishes, and beer bottles strewn across his front yard and no one in sight. He was the epitomy of mixed emotions as he stood there his eyes going from this mess to the wad of cash Lynn had stuck into his breast pocket “Please take this,” she said as she hugged him goodbye.  “You’re a better son to me than my own. He’d have told me and my cat to go to hell hours ago.”

JD counted it 5 times. Nine hundred and Forty dollars.

tulip2

https://wordpress.com/prompts/deny/

Christian · culture · Faith · Humor · language · Mishaps · We've All Done It

Burying the Cat I

JD is sitting on my porch at dusk and my husband and I are howling with laughter. I only catch half of what he is saying. I miss the second half of what he is saying because of his exaggerated Mexican accent, and the other half because he won’t pause for his audience to recover from laughing. Wait how many halves was that?

Anyway, he sets his Modelo down, which is his signature gesture for another good story; all before we even catch a breath and recover from the last one.

He’s been in the States for many years but loves nothing more than telling tales about growing up in Mexico or his experiences in the States. He’s an amazing landscapist with many clients who love him and have used his services for as long as he can remember.

About 5 years ago he was sitting in church trying to keep his stomach from growling. He folds over, bear-hugging his abdomen and trying to be inconspicuous. See, it’s a tenuous task finding the position that settles a sonorous gut. The louder it is, the longer it takes the priest to wrap things up. Just when you think you have it under control, you move a millimeter too far to the right which makes the entire intestinal tract trumpet like a dying elephant.

People beside you shift uncomfortably and clear their throats as though that’s any help. The teenagers in the pew behind him started snickering and couldn’t stop. The young mum in front of him turned around dramatically and, glared at him while smacking her gum. As though THAT was any help. “So sorry,” he mumbled, making the sign of the cross and trying to look anywhere but at her. Of course he was sitting in the middle of the pew and would have had to disrupt 30 people to get up. He closed his eyes tightly and prayed that the Living God would slay him. Or slay all these gringos around him. Something. Anything.

Presently the system settled down and he leaned back with tentative relief, grateful that no one was going to have to be slayed. He leaned back on the blue metal chair on my porch and took a swig of his Modelo. He set it back down on the concrete and lunged forward to continue his story.

“Then, I’m sitting there when the rosary starts and my phone begins to vibrate. Holy chit!” He muttered under his breath and instinctively grabbed his stomach then realized that was the wrong number. He went for his left front pocket, shooting his leg out like a viper, and swatted at his phone as if to kill it. The whole pew was vibrating and he noticed several people also going for their pockets. But his zipper was vibrating too so he knew he was the culprit. He finally smacked the right button and it stopped.

He stared forward, now cross-eyed, his heart racing. He could see a blurred priest gesturing, “In the name of the Padre, and the Madre,..” and the phone started to vibrate again. “Hijo de…” he started to mumble, his chest heaving and his hands now so shaky they couldn’t find his pocket.

Bubble Yum in front of him whirled around and said, “Oh my gosh!”

“So sorry.” He repeatedly automatically, beads of sweat and blood falling from his face as he stopped the phone. He grasped his rosary trying to keep up with everyone else. “Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.” Just before he said Amen, his stomach AND his phone went off at the same time and he didn’t know which one to go for first.

He would have launched his phone through the opened stained glass windows onto on-coming traffic if he could reach it for all his fumbling. Or at this irritating woman in front of him who was still glaring icily at him.

By the time he finishes this story he is writhing on the little blue chair that’s threatening to fold on him.  His right knee is on the floor and his left leg is jutted in front of him as he reenacts his desperate attempt to reach  his  phone. The husband and I are wiping tears from our eyes and trying to catch our breath as he reaches under the chair for his Modelo and drains its contents.

“That’s why I don’t go to church anymore, man.” He concludes as he pulls himself back onto the folding chair and grabs another beer.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/launch/

Humor · Poetry · travel · We've All Done It

I’ve Had it!

I’m watching myself run away.

Down the dusty dirt road I go.

Stomping with vexed resolve,

I’ll never come back, oh, no!

 

That’s the last time they dismiss me…

I don’t have to put up with this…

They’ll miss and appreciate me now…

I left with nary a kiss.

 

I overstuffed my favorite backpack

With pain and my precious essentials.

I’ll never even think of them again.

O wait, I forgot my driver’s license!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/planet/

 

Brothers · culture · Family · Humor · language · Nature · Relationships · Teasing

I’m Not a Fan of Yellow

My friend Shawn is a lovable, flavorful character. A mouthful sometimes. A potentially annoying mouthful.

He’d traveled to Namibia to visit his in-laws whom he only got to see every few years. Several women were in the kitchen wrapping up dinner – there’s nothing quite like a kitchen full of African women. Kwaito music was bumping rhythmically in the background and they occasionally paused their stirring to join in a catchy refrain or sway their hips in choreographed harmony, then burst into laughter, omwikos flailing boiling stew in the air.

Shawn sat in a small living room with 7 other guys at his brother-in-law’s new house. The overstuffed, extra firm couch was almost completely covered with colorful handmade doilies that kept falling to the floor and having to be retrieved. They were arguing loudly about politics, talking over each other, and laughing. Any tentative statements made were promptly challenged and severely scrutinized.

Shawn, a rather verbose character, was the only American in the room, surrounded by locals. Shawn talks. A lot. He has few verbal filters and is bold beyond belief. Admittedly, he had been on good behavior, afraid of being the ugly American. The men kept asking his opinions and he was careful, as his wife had tutored him,  not to take center stage and pontificate, which is his preferred mode. Topics flitted from one to the next and he presently got distracted. If he wasn’t the center of attention, he got distracted.

He was looking around the stark room in the house whose construction was almost complete. He could still smell the cement and the single coat of pale yellow paint on the wall, painted at the last minute to impress the guests.  He thought long and hard about this set up and didn’t notice the entourage of women walking into the room bearing food. He proclaimed absently, studying the walls, “I’m not a fan of yellow.”

His words fell like a giant catfish jumping out of murky waters and flopping onto a muddy beach with a splat. Everybody gasped and swallowed hard in unison. Eyes grew to the size of small plates, extremely embarrassed, and in utter disbelief. Hearts sank and no one dared to look at Mike, the heretofore proud home owner.

The strained, stunned silence in the room was pierced by Joe slamming his bottle onto the glass table as he choked over spewing beer. He had  warm beer coming out his nose and eyes. He didn’t know if he should laugh or cry. He had argued for days with his brother Mike to not paint the room and just yesterday, Mike had spent what felt like hours at the local hardware store deliberating over what color of paint to buy. Never mind they only had 6 selections. Like a keDecember Boss, Mike had ridden his bike proudly toting 2 gallons of “Egg-yolk Yellow,” dodging muddy pot-holes, garbage, and mangy dogs on his 30 minute ride home.

Shawn’s wife Maureen narrowed her eyes and inhaled deeply and then her distressed, heavy chest sank in slow motion and just kept sinking. Her eyes told his that he had erred greatly and that he was a dead man sitting. If she wasn’t holding a tray of food she would have hurled her high heels at him and clocked him right on the bridge of his crooked nose. She shook her head slowly and narrowed those eyes further. Her lips began to furl tightly, controlled by an unseen drawstring, and to quiver with rage.

No one in that room will forget those moments till the day they die. There was no recovering from this one, even for my astute friend who can normally extricate himself from just about any situation with his oratory skills. It changed the mood of the entire rest of the vacation and the trajectory of Shawn’s life.

Fast forward 3 years and her family is bursting out of the vehicle after travelling across the world to visit Shawn and Maureen in the States. It was a glorious fall afternoon and the foliage was stunning to behold. Joe was the first guest to get out of the car. He yawned dramatically and inhaled the crisp air, then shivered in the cold breeze. “You guys said it wasn’t cold!  You mean it’ll get colder than this? Mxm!” He exclaimed. His brothers shuddered in agreement as they streamed out of the car and stretched their cramped legs. Along with the others, Joe hastily grabbed a random suitcase from the trunk, flicking a stray welcoming leaf from his shoulder. They all raced into the house, certain a blizzard would sweep through at any minute.

No sooner had they stampeded indoors and dropped the suitcases in a tall pile, than Mike blurted, “Etche muntu! I thought you are not a fan of yellow, man!”  He held his arms out defiantly circling the yellow room. Everyone else, rubbing their arms vigorously to warm themselves, burst into laughter.

“What are you talking about?” Shawn asked, cocking his head curiously.

“What is he talking about?”, choked Joe incredulously.

“What is he talking about?”, gawked Maureen.

That set the tone for the rest of this visit, and my poor friend Shawn spent a pouty fall feeling picked on; while Maureen juggled the fine line between letting him face the consequences of his often tactless speech and helping him preserve some semblance of dignity among his in-laws.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/leaf/

Aging · culture · Health · Humor · language · Relationships · Work

There’s a Dead Duck Out There

Robert was a rough-hewn character. He lived in a nursing home outside of Melbourne where I worked as a caregiver.  We heard him before we saw him. He walked with a cane which he leaned into heavily. “Old injury from the war,” he explained, when I asked about the limping hip. The cane tapped a beat on the tiles on the floor and the metal on the sole of his shoe kept rhythm. 

He wore the same shoes every day. “Worn ’em forty years, mate. That’s a good shoe right there,” he explained academically, tapping at the toe of his right one with his cane. “It’s been there for me through the good and the ill.” They were made of very old brown leather and he meticulously polished them every morning. Even the insides had a high sheen with a dark outline where his toes nested. His room had the distinct smell of the Kiwi shoe polish he used.

It was rough being an international uni student and not only having to work to fund my schooling but adjusting to culture shock as well. The job wasn’t much to speak of. A friend had recommended me for it and I’d decided to give it a go. I was grateful for it but it was certainly grunt work. The hardest part was thinking I spoke English but having to learn a whole new version here.

I tied Robert’s shoe laces, and chuckled as he told he about the ‘deadorse” and “wilted rabbit food” he was served for dinner last night. “Where’s the lamb around here? Or how about some roo for supper?” He complained. I liked this crusty man but would like him even better if he quit scratching his nuts  in front of me. He did it every time he put his shoes on, “Only thing is, these shoes make me itch my budgies.”

He loved to talk about his wife. “We raised chooks up north,” he said,  pointing to a grainy photo of  her in her bathers on his old dresser. “She was always full as a boot on the amber fluid.” She was a good distraction while I helped him get dressed, otherwise he’d tell me to nick off. He called me a stickybeak and a perve when I first started.

I shook my head as I left to attend to a buzzer going off in room 24. “I’ll never get over this place.”

Robert loved to walk outside after brekkie. I’d been there about 4 months when he came clicking by the nurse’s station one day. I was enjoying my job well enough and getting a good handle on this culture.  “How ya going Bob? Beautiful day out out there.” I said, replenishing towels from the laundry cart.

“There’s a dead duck in the parking lot,” he announced, adjusting his hat without looking at me. He kept walking.

“Oh dear.” I said, and went back to my towels, thinking it was a good thing the garbo would be here tomorrow.

All of a sudden, my cart was pushed by a nurse of larger build in a tight uniform, running faster than seemed possible for her size. I was thrown against the wall like a rag-doll. She was yelling orders as she ran outside and my fellow off-siders were running behind her in pandemonium, dodging wheelchairs and their occupants. “What was going on?” I asked after I caught my breath, frantically looking around and wondering if I should run or hide. 

Turns out a female resident had fallen in the parking lot and Bob had saved her hide with his announcement! So much for my cultural competence…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/grainy/

Humor · Neighbors · Relationships

“… I’d Love to Chat, Gotta Go!”

I first saw the young couple sitting on the steep outside steps of the Victorian house next door. It had been renovated so the upstairs space could be accessed from outside.

They both looked terribly thin, sitting there sunning on the steps. They smoked and drank their morning coffee. It was a cold morning and she was wearing shorts and hugging herself. Her worn t-shirt was stretched to keep her long legs warm. Her stringy jet-black hair hung limp over the t-shirt and she stroked it nervously.

Their lean bodies were covered in tattoos and piercings. He wore silver chains up the length of his arms. I watched them through my living room window and wondered what they were talking about.  I smiled as they smiled at each other. They were cute. She jabbed him playfully in the side and he held her in a mock choke-hold.

I had no shortage of distractions while trying to get out the door in time for work. I showered, got my breakfast and lunch ready, and tried to lock the door behind me.

‘He really needs to fix this lock,’ I thought to myself, having to slam the door several times and hold it just so before it finally clicked.

I smiled and waved at them as I juggled an armful and got into my car. He waved warmly, almost standing up. She glanced up and quickly looked away, taking a long draft of her cigarette into her cavernous jaw. When I returned at the end of the day, they were still on the  steps, smoking and drinking coffee.

As I walked to my door, I waved at them and he stood straight up and bounded down the stairs, his silver chains clanging as he came. His wore a leather vest with no shirt and I fought the silly urge to look under it. “Look at the eyes,” I said to myself. He stuck his cigarette in his mouth, flicked his shock of long black hair away from his eyes, and stuck his hand out to shake mine.

My hands were loaded with a dirty breakfast bowl and spoon, my purse, work-bag, lunch bag, and who knows what else. I laid what I could down on my front step and reached out to shake his hand.

“That was kind of awkward. I suppose I could have tried to help you but I didn’t want it to look like I was trying to take your dirty bowl or anything,” he said. “My name is DJ.”

I was taken aback. I introduced myself.

“That’s Denise,” he turned his head around and blew a huge puff of smoke into the air. “She thinks she’s shy but she’s actually kind of spicy, hey baby?”, he yelled. “This is our first house. It’s pretty awesome. She’ll keep it real clean while I work. You guys can be friends.” She raised a feeble arm in greeting and quickly looked away.

“We moved in yesterday. This is our first house. We’re taking it easy today coz that was pretty hard moving on the bus. Moving’s pretty hard, you know. Luckily we don’t have a lot of stuff. Just a couple bags is all. For now. I’ll get a job and take real good care of her. This is a great home.”

He told me he had spent several years in jail since he was a teenager and was recently free. “She waited for me, hey baby?”, he turned and yelled again. She looked up and nodded a wan smile. I thought that if he talked to her again she would dissipate into a wispy membrane and disappear. He spoke fast and shifted frequently from one foot to the other.  “She waited for me. I’m gonna get me a sweet ride after a while. I hate the bus. Bunch of creeps on the bus.”

“I saw you leave this morning. That’s what I’ll do every morning. Leave for work and come back in the evening. I’m gonna pump gas or lift bales of hay or work in a bank or something. I’d go crazy sitting around at home. I need to fix things, do stuff. I do like to cook. Denise doesn’t have to cook. You take a steak and put a great rub on it. Then you grab the potatoes and slice them real thin, like this,” he stuck the cigarette in his mouth again and demonstrated how with his elegant hands. “You gotta fry potatoes with a little salt and garlic. I hate vegetables but you’ve gotta eat the stuff, right?”

He laughed really hard and I got the distinct impression he wanted to high five me. I didn’t know what to do so I stupidly started to raise my hand but he didn’t want to high-five me, so I ran it through my hair and into my pockets, feeling an embarrassing rise in temperature to my face. Note to self, don’t high five strangers, especially when they’re not high fiving you.

I snapped back to attention as he was still talking. “… it’s been a long day and pretty soon we’ll be heading to The Plaid to buy some smokes and milk. Anyway, I’d love to chat, gotta go!” And he spun on his heels and ran up the stairs.

I cocked my head and stood there a minute, rather dazed, then looked around as if to see if anyone  had witnessed what I just had and could confirm that I wasn’t imagining it.

No one, darn it.

I fumbled with the lock and kicked the bags through the door, stepping over them with my milk-caked Cheerios bowl, and chuckled to myself, “That’s a good one. Love to chat, gotta go!”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/spicy/

Brothers · Family · Humor · mothers · Relationships · sons · Teasing · Uncategorized

Orange Flying, in Slow Motion

It all happened so fast, so I’m not quite sure why I recall it in slow motion. My boys were fooling around and laughing. They rarely play together so I relish these times. I was standing by the kitchen about to open the fridge.  James, moving at his usual 300mph dashed by the kitchen counter and grabbed an orange then flew the next few feet into the living room. Paul had just hopped over the arm of the red recliner  and was bouncing on it, looking out the nearby window into the yard and telling a funny story.

This is where things slowed way down: out of the corner of my eye, I vividly saw James in his blue and white striped shirt and grey camo shorts. He took on very impressive form, swinging his right arm with the orange in it while he stepped off his left foot, rotated his shoulders so the left one synchronized forward to power the left one which was lunging back as it propelled the orange at an astonishing speed  straight towards the back of his unwitting brothers head, just as James’ right foot planted onto the carpet. Wow!

Dictionary.com describes a symphony as “an elaborate musical composition in three or more movements, similar in form to a sonata but written for an orchestra and usually of far grander proportions and more varied elements.”

What I was witnessing, my friends, was a mesmerizing movement symphony of grand proportions!

In no time, Paul, with a discordant whelp, raised both hands to the back of his whip-lashed head and tumbled off the chair and onto the floor like a stuntman.

“What was that for?” was his loud, prolonged, barely articulate lament. Babe Ruth’s eyes grew to the size of a large orange and he jumped up and down like a yoyo, “I’m sorry Paul, are you okay? I’m so sorry, are you okay?” He repeated this about 8 times without taking a breath, bouncing in place the whole time and becoming more frantic.

Our stuntman rolled back and forth, clearly in the throes of death, moaning his final words, “Whhyyyy?” and never letting go of his fatal wound.

I snapped out my daze and yelled, “that is the most unintelligent thing you have done all day!”

He answered with the most unintelligent thing he had said all day, “I didn’t mean to hit him!”

I chimed, “What, where you planning to hit the window a foot away from his face?”

“No, I didn’t mean to hit him.” He said that 8 times, still bouncing up and down, but now big tears falling straight from his eyes onto the floor.

“He does it to me all the time and he never gets in trouble.”

“What, he kills you with an orange all the time?” I stuck a pointing finger at Paul in his pitiful predicament, and glared at James, “Is this the time to bring that up?

“I didn’t mean to,” he wailed woefully.

Paul’s howling reached a deafening crescendo and James cried all the harder. What a cacophony!

I leaned down and touched Paul for many reasons. The first was the principle. If he didn’t die, and I didn’t think he would, he would in years to come be sitting at a counselor’s couch recounting this trauma, and she would ask him, “And what did your mother do?”

It would be terrible to have to answer, “She laughed so hard she fell on me and smacked my forehead with hers.”

Secondly, I needed to embrace the victim and distance from the perpetrator. That would not be the time to say, “James, that was amazing! I wish you could have seen it.” No. That would have to wait ten minutes.

I finally pried a gasping Paul’s fingers from the gaping wound so I could inspect it and he was disappointed and shocked to learn there wasn’t as much as a mark. And I looked really close, for a really long time, the whole time repeating, “Wow!” in monotone.

So the melodrama died down eventually. We hugged as Paul reiterated that he didn’t trust his brother to be in the same county, for obvious reasons. I slapped my hand across his brothers mouth as he dried his tears and started to say, “He does it all the…”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/symphony/

horror · Humor

This is Where They Cook People

I sat patiently at the small table.

I was in a Thai restaurant I’d wanted to visit for sometime. I was in the mood for quiet so I ordered my dish to-go. I was going to sit in my car and savor the goodness. The rapturous  flavors and amazing textures blow my mind. Every time. Without fail.

I had parked in the back parking lot and had had to walk  a long way to come in through the front. I resolved not to look at my phone while I waited. That’s hard to do, anymore. I kept starting to reach for it and almost had to slap my hand on several occasions. What a silly game I was playing with myself.

I was enjoying watching patrons through the dancing incense smoke emanating from the Buddha shrine. A loud lady at the table beside me had been smoking far too long. I kept clearing my throat to help soothe her raspy one, ‘Or at least take a sip of your Thai iced tea,’ I thought. She was carrying on about being wronged by Sandy again, vividly relating the offense in an almost drunken drawl. She was so disgusted with Sandy she was spitting nails and pad Thai.

As I eavesdropped, in the back of my mind I wondered who got to determine how long a casual glance may last before it becomes rude? I was long past that line.

And what was with the garish blue eye-shadow? I found myself so sucked into the saga that I was startled by the waitress, Sue, tapping on my shoulder. She was a pretty Asian lady and she smiled as she handed me my order in a white plastic bag with “Have a nice day” written across it in red. I was a little irked by her interruption and inopportune timing but I smiled back, noting her jet black hair.

As I gathered my belongings, I asked if there was a short-cut to the back parking lot. She bowed and pointed to a grey wooden door behind her. I smiled again and nodded as I walked by her.

‘That is really black hair,’ I thought.

The flimsy knob almost came apart in my hand and the rickety door swung open faster than I anticipated. I stepped into a  small dimly lit room and the door sprung shut behind me with a dull thud.

Old binders were scattered on a crooked shelf beside fake flowers.  My eyes adjusted to the darkness and after a few seconds I made out another door a few feet before me. I swallowed deeply, glanced back at the shut door and stepped forward praying to God I wouldn’t step on a cat. Or a rat. I hurriedly grabbed the next doorknob and turned it. It turned several times and nothing happened. I swallowed again and turned it the opposite direction. It turned several times and nothing happened.

My mind played terrible tricks on me and I heard people speaking loudly in a foreign language and laughing. Were they watching me? Was I even going the right way? What was this place? Panicked, I threw my shoulder at the door and it groaned. I stepped back, really lunged at it and went bolting clear through it. I took a deep breath of relief at the blinding light,  and looked around, grateful to be outside.

But I wasn’t outside.

My heart raced and dropped at the same time.  She didn’t look up. A dank smell filled the huge room I found myself in. Black mold crawled on the wall to my right and there were puddles on the busted concrete floor. A withered old woman sat contorted in a rickety rocking chair in the corner. She looked like she had been sitting there for centuries.  Her few hairs were held in a tight bun but her deep wrinkles still flapped as a home-made cigarette dangled from the side of her mouth. She spoke and rocked rhythmically in an unfamiliar language, tending to a large pot of smoldering oil that was bellowing smoke in her face.

I froze in place, rather stunned. It seemed that I should say something, but what? I didn’t want to startle her. I swallowed deeply again and clutched my warm food to my chest. A strange  noise squeaked out of my mouth and she immediately cackled and threw her head back, stirring the pot the whole time. She had 3 teeth in her mouth. The cigarette bobbed up and down as she rattled off words and fell to laughing her head off, never once looking at me.

I glanced at the door beside her. I tried not to look into the pot. I didn’t want to know what was in it and how many people were stupid enough to not merely walk out the front door of the restaurant and back to their normal lives. I was afraid I would see a residual sludge of blue eye-shadow floating in the hot oil. What was this place and how many doors would I have to walk through to get out? Was I trapped here forever, condemned to an eternity of room after creepy room?

I looked at the door again and ran for it, knowing that any minute a net would drop from the ceiling and trap me in this hell hole. The door was locked!

I started to cry as she crowed her wicked laugh. I looked at the door and saw a small lock high up on it. My desperate fingers fumbled for it, missing it several times, so close yet so far. I jumped up and hit the latch. It flipped right off and I tried the door again.

I stepped out to the glorious sunshine and the dirty parking lot. I was about to set my food on the ground so I could kiss the blessed soil when I saw a small group of wait staff, decked in their black and white uniform, smoking cigarettes on their break.

“Have a nice day!” said a young man with a mop of dark, heavily gelled hair. I looked over at them and attempted a smile and an answer. I looked questioningly from him to the door I just walked through and back to him but my eyes were intercepted by Sue’s.

She smiled and winked at me.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/