Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Fog (Short Story)

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I hope you enjoy my short story today. I am entering this in a contest, so please let me know what you think of it and if you find any errors.    Shirley

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The fog in the park is thick. I can’t see five feet in front. It’s a wonder I didn’t break my neck running on this brick path. All it would have taken is one raised brick or a branch from one of the trees. 

Mandy walked towards what she hoped was the side of the brick path. The overhead lights did nothing to help her see what was in front of her. They gave off an eerie light, but didn’t illuminate her surroundings. She wanted to follow the road edge hoping she would find a street sign to find out where she was.

“Ouch,” Mandy yelled when she ran into something hard. She slapped her hand over her mouth the second she yelled. She’d ran over a bench. She turned and sat so she could rub the spot that hurt on her knee. That’s all I need is to be crippled. Mandy jumped when a hoot owl screeched close behind her. Her nerves were raw, so she reacted to every noise.

She sat on the bench listening to the sounds around her. She could hear condensation dripping from the trees, hitting the leaves on the ground, and small creatures moving about in the bushes. Off in the distance she heard a distinctive tap, tap, tap. It sounded like heel taps on the bricks. She couldn’t let anyone find her yet. She had to have an idea of where she was first.

The tapping was getting closer and Mandy knew she had to move. She decided to get into the trees and lay low until daylight came. Maybe then, she could get to the police. She got up from the bench and began feeling her way back into the trees. She ran into a shrubbery bush. Maybe I can lay underneath this bush until the sun comes up. With the fog, no one can see me. She sat down on the ground and began feeling her way underneath the bush. It felt large enough to hide her, at least for a while.

She curled as close as she could to the trunk of the bush and didn’t move a muscle. Her senses were highly tuned to her surroundings. The tapping continued to get louder as whatever or whoever it was drew nearer.  I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep. How did I get in this situation? I’m on vacation with my girlfriend. Oh god, I was on vacation with my girlfriend.

Young woman, I know you are here. You are wasting your time hiding from me. I will find you. Don’t be afraid, I promise it won’t hurt and it will be quick. Won’t you come out and play with me?” The soft seductive voice was all around her.

Mandy’s mind screamed, go away. Her mouth felt dry and her tongue didn’t work as it should. She tried to work spit into her mouth, but it was useless. Every muscle in her body felt paralyzed with fear. She closed her eyes and prayed for help. Someone please help me.

“Have you thought about it young woman? It will be so much nicer for you if you’d come out of hiding. You know I can smell your perfume. I have a very sensitive nose. Are you wearing Amirage? It’s one of my favorite scents. You’re quite a beautiful woman. It’s a shame you came into the room when you did. Your friend was worthless. She gave women a bad name. You would have thought she would have had more sense than to bring a strange man to her room.”

 

Digging quietly in the soil with her hands, Mandy began smearing dirt around her neck, face and arms. She was hoping the dirt would stop the perfume smell and help her blend into the ground, if the man got closer to her.

“Excuse my bad manners. My name is Jack. What’s your name, young lady? I can leave a note telling them your name. I’m very considerate, as you can tell. Please come out. Don’t make this harder on both of us. Are you in London for business or pleasure? I hope it’s for pleasure and you’ve had a good time. There is so much to see here.”

Pulling up as tight as she could around the trunk of the bush, Mandy continued to pray for someone to help her. Her hip was hurting from lying on the cold wet ground. What is some pain when my life is at stake? Still trying to work her tongue around in her mouth to produce saliva, Mandy listened to the man tell her all about life in London.

“I’ve lived in London many, many years. Let me think, what year is this? Oh yes, I remember now, its April 30, 2012. Would you believe me if I told you I’ve lived here since 1877. I’m amazed I’m as well-known as I am, or at least my name is. I must say things have improved here over the years, but not the people. Women with loose morals still plague society. I have surmised that’s the reason I’ve been unable to leave. My services continue to be needed.”

Shivering cold, Mandy couldn’t get her mind around what she was hearing. “This can’t be real. There is no way Jack the Ripper is here. He has to be a copycat. Jack went on talking as if she were sitting beside him on the bench.

“Back when this all started, I thought things were much easier as far as ridding the world of the unsavory sort. They think I only killed five, but I have to tell you my dear I’ve killed hundreds who didn’t deserve to live in our society. You are special because you actually have seen my face. No one remains alive that sees my face. I can’t afford to let you live. You would complicate my work.”

The sky was beginning to lighten. Mandy hoped the fog didn’t burn off before help came. What is that noise? Someone is coming. Thank you, God.

It’s a shame I have to go now, I hear the day people coming out. I will be in touch with you. I’ve enjoyed our conversation immensely. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you before I get the opportunity to visit with you again.

Mandy heard the clicking as Jack walked down the brick path. When the sound faded completely she crawled out from under the bush. It took her a couple of minutes to get the blood to circulating in her body, as it should. She made her way back to the path and began walking toward the area that had the sound of people coming from it.

She walked about a pair of food carts setting up for the day’s business. “Excuse me, I need a policeman, I mean Bobby. Can you help me?”

“Bly me girl, what’s happened to you? You say you need a bobby. Follow this path down three or four lights and there’ll be a phone on the pole. It connects you to the police.”

“Thank you.” Mandy continued walking and finally came to the pole with the phone.  “Hello, is this the police department?”

“Yes, ma’am, it tis. I’m Sergeant Grayson, how may I help you?”

Tears started flowing like a river out of Mandy’s eyes as she began to talk. She was difficult for the Sergeant to understand.

“Hold on Miss, I’m sending a police car for you. Stay where you are. Someone will be there soon.” The phone clicked off and Mandy stood there holding the phone and crying. She was still crying when a uniformed police officer approached her.

“Miss, my name is Officer Cannon. Please hang up the phone and come with me.”

Mandy stood staring at him, unable to move. The officer took the phone from her hand and hung it back on the pole.

“Come with me, Miss. What is your name?

“It’s Mandy Jackson.” She said between snivels.

“I can hear you are American. What state are you from?” The officer asked trying to help Mandy calm down.

“I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve been here on vacation with my girlfriend, Alice.” When she mentioned Alice’s name she began crying again.”

“Come on dearie; let’s get to the car so we can get you helped.”

Mandy let Officer Cannon lead her to the car and they headed for the station. Once there Officer Cannon approached the desk of Sergeant Grayson. “Sergeant, Miss Jackson needs to speak to a homicide detective.”

Officer Cannon immediately got up from his desk and walked to Mandy. “Ms. Jackson, please come with me. I’m going to take you to a room where you will have some privacy. Would you like something to drink?”

Mandy declined anything to drink at first but then changed her mind. Thank you Sergeant, I would appreciate some hot coffee.”

The sergeant led Mandy into a small room with a table and no windows. She sat in one of the folding chairs waiting for her coffee. In a couple of minutes, a woman came through the door with her coffee in hand. Hello, Ms. Jackson, my name is April Chambers. I’m in the homicide division. You may call me April. Is it alright if I call you Mandy?”

“Yes, that’s fine,” Mandy, replied.

“I understand you have a story to tell me.”

“It’s an unbelievable story, but I have to tell you. I have been here on vacation with my girlfriend. Her name is Alice Brady. We have been friends all of our life. She is dead. I saw her murdered.”

“What do you mean you saw her murdered?”

“Last evening Alice met a man who asked her to go night clubbing with him. Alice was very taken by the guy. She wanted this to be just a night for him and her. Since we were supposed to be leaving tomorrow, I told her I would go to the movies. That’s just what I did. I returned to the hotel room about 11:30. When I unlocked the door and stepped in, I saw a man bent over Alice with a knife in his hand. Blood was dripping off the couch. I took off running and didn’t stop until I got to the park.”

“What did the man look like?”

“I really didn’t get a good look at him, but he thinks I did.”

“What do you mean, he thinks you did? Have you spoken with him?”

“No, I haven’t spoken to him, but he has to me. He found me in the park and talked to me while I hid for a good twenty minutes before sunup.” Mandy told April everything she could remember about the conversation. She even told her about the man saying he was Jack and he had lived in London for the past 125 years. Mandy was surprised when she didn’t get the surprised response from April.

“What else do you remember, Mandy?”

“Nothing else, I’ve told you everything I know. He did tell me he would be seeing me again. I have to go home.”

“Alice was found this morning by the hotel maid. We identified her from the guest resister since the room was in her name. The maid told us about you staying there also. I’m really sorry. It will take us about a week to get everything straightened out. You should be able to go home after that. Alice will have to stay here until the coroner releases her body. “

“April, why aren’t you surprised about what I told you about that man called Jack? You didn’t blink an eye when I said you he’d lived in London for 125 years.”

“Let’s just say I’ve heard a very similar story about the guy. He’s a serial killer whether he has been here two days or 125 years. No one has been able to describe what this character looks like but women continue to be found with their throats cut. Most of them are prostitutes from the south side. Your girlfriend happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid for it with her life. I am very sorry.”

***

In a week and a half, Mandy was back in Oklahoma, trying to pull her life together. The Brady’s had gone to London to bring home their daughter when the London police released her body. She returned to her job at Hillcrest Hospital. She wanted to stay busy to keep her mind off her disastrous vacation. Word spread quickly at the hospital so she didn’t have to explain anything that happened. Occasionally someone would give his or her condolences over Alice.

One the one-year anniversary of Alice’s death, Mandy went to the cemetery where she was buried. She talked to her friend for a little while and then headed back home.  As she was walking up her sidewalk, she heard a sound that made her blood turn cold, click, click, click. She quickly turned to see an elderly man walking down the sidewalk with his can clicking on the concrete with every step.

She hurried into her house and locked the door behind her. It was a cane that guy in the park was using. I can’t stand to hear that clicking noise. It brings everything back to me as if it just happened.

Mandy decided to take a relaxing bath and fix her a drink before she fixed dinner. She’d sipped her drink and started down the hall to the bathroom. The doorbell rang. I wonder who that is? She peeped out the window and saw a mail truck parked in front of her house.  She opened the door. “Can I help you?”

“Are you Mandy Jackson?”

“Yes, I’m she.”

“I have a special delivery letter for you. Please sign here.”

Mandy signed the form and the postal worker left. She closed the door and went back inside. There wasn’t a name on the envelope but it was postmarked London. I wonder who this is from? She opened the envelope and unfolded the letter.  As her eyes focused in on the words, she heard herself begin to scream. Darkness enveloped her has she fainted to the floor. The letter in her hand said, “ Don’t forget I like Amirage. Will be seeing you soon, pretty lady Jack”

 

The Key (Flash Fiction)

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The door slammed making the adrenaline surge up my backbone, gripping me with instant fear. I knew he was in the house. I have to stay quiet or he will find me. I can hear him tromping around in his heavy boots. The cabinets and drawers open and close, as he searches for the key. I have it well hidden. He may find me, but he won’t find the key.

I’m in the clothes hamper in the back part of Mom’s closet. If I can be quiet he won’t find me. I may be seventeen years old, but I’m tiny. My family and friends call me Tinkerbell, or Tink for short. This is one of those times I appreciate being tiny. He wasn’t supposed to be back at the house until evening, so I thought I would be safe to get some of my clothes. Boy, was I wrong. I guess he is desperate to find the key to the safe deposit box.

I hear him in the room going through everything. My mama would be all right now if it hadn’t been for him. If I disappear, the key will go to John Houston at the Daily Journal. If only she hadn’t told him about her journal. This would’ve been much easier. I could’ve turned it over to the authorities and he would be none the wiser. I guess Mom thought she was getting back at him somehow by letting him know he wasn’t getting away with anything.

Last Saturday started out like every other Saturday, with Mom cooking us a great breakfast with all the trimmings. After he left the house, she began to talk to me. My brain couldn’t believe what she told me about Jack, her husband of ten years. I remember very little of my father, so Jack, for all intent and purpose, was my dad, which made all of it harder to accept.

Jack’s having an affair, according to Mom. It’s been going on for almost a year. Mom chooses to overlook it for some reason that I will never know. It may have been because of Jack carrying Mom and me on his insurance.  I’ve heard enough to know how tough it is when you don’t have medical insurance. If she confronted him, I never knew about it. I don’t know if I could accept that behavior.

Mom developed Diabetes about three years ago and used insulin daily. She did a finger stick four times a day. Her sugars were very erratic. The insulin she used changed with every test. She used sixty-four units of NPH insulin every morning and Regular before meals and at bedtime. She adjusted it as needed . She said her sugars were like a bouncing ball, and she never knew what direction it was going to go.

This morning I didn’t go to school. Jack left for work, as usual. Mom was late getting up. She didn’t look like she felt good. She told me she was very nervous on the inside and needed some orange juice before she checked her sugar.

I went back to my room to find clothes to put on. I heard the front door open and Jack yelled at mom letting her know he was home. He went into the kitchen, because I heard them arguing over mom’s journal. “I want that damn key, Janice,” Jack yelled.

Mom yelled back. “You aren’t getting it. I must have protection, and that journal is it. You thought you were so damn smart, but now you know if something happens to me you are dead meat.” I walked down the hall being careful not to make any noise, so I could see and  listen to what was going on.

“You bitch; do you really think that little book will protect you?”

“Sure I do. It tells about your affair. Where you have hidden all of the money you embezzled from the company. It contains all of your dirty little secrets. You take care of me and you stay safe. If not, then you’ll be in prison for the rest of your life. It’s your choice. Leave me alone so I can get me some orange juice to drink. I can feel my blood sugar dropping. You know what is going to happen if I don’t get me some juice.”

A big smile spread across Jack’s face as he said, “Yes, I sure do. In fact, let’s walk to the living room. That might help it drop faster.”

“This is the day you get your payback. You think you can screw with me. You and no one else will get away with blackmailing me. It’s a shame that little crap daughter of yours is in school or I could take care of her at the same time. I will play the loving father until I find that key. Once the key is found, Tink will have an accident.”

I knew I had to find some place to hide. He moved her into the living room so I couldn’t go out the front door. That’s how I ended up in this hamper, barely breathing, unable to move. Mom has a narrow deep closet. Maybe he won’t discover me.
I heard him enter the bedroom and he continued going through the drawers. He came into the closet and searched through the boxes on the shelf. God please put your protection around mama and me. The phone began ringing causing Jack to stop searching. I guess he was trying to decide whether to answer the phone. He didn’t, and within a couple of minutes he was out the door.

I climbed out of the hamper and headed to the living room to check on Mama. She wasn’t breathing well, and didn’t respond. I called 911 knowing I was saving her and me both. Jack is about to answer for his actions.

*******

I wish to thank you for the kind words and support given to me because of my father’s death. I can’t express my gratitude enough.

You’ve earned your rest, Daddy

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         You were at the beginning of my life

Now I’m at the ending of yours

You’ve gone from this world

Joining mama on the other side

A part of me is joyous for you

the other part feels sad

My world seems empty

Because you aren’t here

Your life here on this earth

Meant so much to so many

You loved and were loved

By your family and friends

Even though I can’t see you

You will always be with me

I will carry you in my heart

Every day for the rest of my life

You’ve earned your rest, Daddy

 My father passed away this week from complications of heart failure. I will not be posting for a little while. As soon as I can, I will get back to writing my blog.  Right now my heart is a little to heavy.      Shirley

Living By Example

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I believe that man is born inherently good. We are born with all of the goodness that God can bestow on one human being. How many cruel and evil babies have you seen? What you see is a miracle of God at its best. A perfect little human.

That child enters this world with nothing but trust, and remains that way until their brain has matured enough to begin seeing the world around them. What a child learns are what we as a human race teach them. Do you think that a child wakes up one morning thinking, “you know when I am seventeen, I’m going to be selling dope, and I might even rob a liquor store. I think for kicks I’ll shoot the person who’s there.”

What do you think this child learned while his mind was developing? Were mom and dad both working in order to take care of the family? Maybe the child was a latchkey kid who sat in front of the television for hours watching humans kill, beat and rape other humans. Laugh at others misfortune. It could have also been a case of a one-parent family where the child felt abandoned. There are multitudes of possible reasons. Bottom line is they learn by example.

This child may not have received any guidance from his/her parents, because they received none from theirs. How can a young adult make good choices concerning their life if their main role models didn’t teach and guide them. It makes it very easy to take guidance from other kids who don’t have guidance from their parents either.

We live an “anything goes” life style. Parents do their thing and kids do theirs. My parents were firm believers in the spare the rod spoil the child mentality. Their parenting skills came from what they saw and lived as children. My parenting skills were learned the same way. I believe I was a better parent than mine were, and my children are better at parenting than I am. I blame parents when kids are disrespectful, foul-mouthed or when they get into trouble. I know sometimes parents can’t control what is going on, but where were they when morals, values, right and wrong should have been taught.

I believe the majority of parents do the best they can concerning their children. What kind of favor are we doing future generations by not teaching children how to behave in public or at home for that matter?

I have two grown children who turned out well in spite of me. Do I have regrets about their raising? You bet I do. I wish I could do it over again, but that’s not possible. I have to live with my mistakes. I wish every household could be like the thirty minute shows in the 50’ and 60’s such as “My Three Sons, or Father Knows Best, and Leave It To Beaver. Wouldn’t our world be wonderful? We’d have perfect households with terrific kids who would talk to their parents about anything. They made mistakes, but not bad ones. Everything ended on a positive note.

Have we as a society created a future society with an attitude of “I’ll do what I want, when I want and I don’t care what happens to you.” It is a very scary thought to me what my grandchildren will have to deal with. How do you feel about it?

Darius Figgaro: Legends of the Shoemaker (Short Story)

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“I swear it’s true, every single word.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Giorgio, I’m unable to accept your statement. What made you think a story  so far-fetched, would  be believed?”

“Why would I lie about something that could cost me my life, Detective Johnson? That man died just as I said he did. I’m an honest man, and I do not lie.”

Detective Johnson got up from the table and walked from one corner of the room to the other. He couldn’t get his brain around the story that Mr. Giorgio was telling. “Do you care if I smoke, Mr. Giorgio?”

“No, I don’t care, Detective.”

“Thank you. Now let’s stop the formality. I’ve known you all of my life. You call me Peter, and I’ll call you, um, um. I don’t know your first name. I’ve never called you anything but Mr. Giorgio.”

Mr. Giorgio smiled as he listened to Peter. “Peter, my first name is Tony. Actually, it’s Antonio, but everyone calls me Tony. I guess it’s easier to remember.”

“May I call you, Tony? I’m sure I will fall back into old habits and call you Mr. Giorgio, but I’ll do my best to call you by your name. Ok, let’s start from the beginning, once again. Don’t leave anything out.”

“I haven’t left out anything, yet. Peter, there is more to this world than what’s here in Summerton. Things people have no idea is happening in this world. Have you ever heard of Darius Figgaro?”

“No, I can’t say I have. Is that the guy’s name we found in your shop?”

“No, I don’t know who that man was. Darius was from the third century BC and a shoemaker as I am. He lived in a small village, in Armenia. He was known everywhere for his excellent shoes. In fact, he was so talented he was chosen to make shoes for the God’s as an offering, when the festival happened, in a few months. Aramazd, and his attendant, Grogh were made boots. For Aramzd’s son, Mehr, he made the softest, kid, leather shoes, and finally for the Goddess Anahit, he made slippers from a new shiny material from China made by worms. Nothing was finer in the entire world.”

“If anything was going to bring the town prosperity, it would be Darius Figgaro’s shoes. The God’s would certainly think of Artashavian as their favorite place. The village leaders were so confident in their plan, they already had a sign made for outside of town. In large red letters, it read: Artasavian, home of the God’s shoes.”

“You’re kidding, towns back in the third century BC didn’t put up signs.”

How do you know, Peter? Were you there? People are remarkably resourceful, no matter when or where they lived. Think about the pyramids in Egypt, or the great lighthouse in Alexandria. All through the ages, people have accomplished exciting and beautiful things. Now back to my story. Are you going to interrupt me anymore?”

“I’m not planning to,” remarked Peter.

“The time for the great festival of the gods arrived in Artashavian. You could palpate the excitement in the air. Everyone was happier and looking forward to the three days of fun and homage to their gods. Darius’s excitement ended abruptly when he went to gather his offering and found the shoe cupboard empty. I know I put those shoes in this cupboard. What am I going to do now? Darius sat on his cobbler’s bench and prayed to the gods to help him find his offering. A loud booming voice sounded in Darius’s head.

“Darius sweep the floor using your new broomstick.”

Darius stood as he thought a moment where his new broom was located. Once he thought of the location, he walked to his back porch and grabbed the broom. “Ok, god, I have the broom, and I am obeying you even though I don’t know what good sweeping the floor will do.”

Sweeping the dirt floor was not an easy thing to do. You had to sweep but not stir up the dust and yet sweep aggressively enough to remove the debris on the floor. Sometimes Darius would place a course woven material down on the floor is he could buy the yardage at a cheap enough price. It’s been awhile since he purchased any, so his floor was bare.

He swept the center out of the floor but then decided he’d best do the corners. There’s a box here. I don’t remember this. When Darius looked inside the box, he yelled aloud, “Thank You, thank you”. There were all of the god’s boots and shoes. Tomorrow I will present them as my offering to the gods.

Before sunrise, the next morning, Darius gathered his box of shoes and headed to the temple. He felt fantastic and had extra energy. It was a glorious day. There were other people gathered at the temple also. Sunrise was the appointed time for giving of gifts. If your gift was accepted by the gods, you received a special blessing. Darius was hoping they would give him continued good health, so he could continue to make his shoes.

Just as the sun was coming over the horizon, Darius placed his offering on the altar. The ground shook and lightening streaked the sky. Women were screaming and running away, but Darius stood his ground. He looked at the altar, and his offering was gone. Everyone else’s was still there. What does this mean? Have I displeased them with my offering?”

“You have not displeased us Darius. You have used your talents to make a personal offering to us. Because you have pleased us so much, we are going to bless you for each pair of shoes you made. Kneel Darius facing the sun.”

Darius was on his knees with the sun shining brightly in his face. He heard a female voice call his name. “Darius, my slippers are magnificent and feel glorious on my feet. For this, you shall have eternal life. You will continue to share your shoes with all you meet. Everyone will want a pair of your shoes. My child’s feet are protected with the soft leather of his shoes. Because you have given him protection, I shall protect you.”

“Thank you, goddess, for your blessing. I could not ask anything more. I will continue to work and make my shoes”, Darius said.

“You shall prosper though your work,” Grogh commanded. “You shall never go without food or fine housing.”

Aramazd asked Darius if there was anything else he desired. Darius declined. “Then go Darius, knowing you will be protected, have a long life and will be sharing your shoes with the world for all time.”

Darius bowed his head as the bright light was removed from his face. He stood, not quite believing what occurred. “I’ve been blessed. What more could I want in this world.”

When Tony finished his story, he looked at Peter and asked, “Do you understand now?”

“Understand what? You told me a fairy tale that has nothing to do with the man’s body in your shop.”

“You are no different than the thousands of other people I have told my story to. You go through this life thinking you know everything, and you actually don’t know anything at all. I can’t explain it any further than what I already have. You have to open your mind, and actually listen to what I said.”

“I don’t have enough evidence to hold you for the man’s murder. I’m going to let you return home but do not try to leave town.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Peter. I will be at my shop working on some shoes. I have a particular order from the Pope. He likes his kid, soft leather shoes.” Tony left the room, heading back to his shop.

Peter kept running Tony’s story around in his mind. Maybe when I hear from the Coroner’s office everything will fall into place. Returning to his office, Peter pulled out the evidence folder on the dead man. It was empty, not one thing to go on so far.

“Peter, the Coroner’s Office is on-line 1.”

“Thanks Sam. Hello, Doc, what do you have for me? You are kidding me, not one thing. What was the cause of death? Heart failure, so it’s natural causes. Sure, I’ll let the prosecutor know about the findings. Thanks, Doc, for the info.” Shaking his head, Peter couldn’t believe it all meant nothing. He knew he wanted to talk to Tony again about the legend of the shoemaker and to tell him about the findings.

When Peter opened the door to go into the shop, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The room was empty. Not one shoe or even a sign anyone had been in the building. Cob webs hung from the ceiling corners, with thick dust on the windowsill. A desk sat up against the wall. It was polished to a brilliant shine and had a paper lying on top. When Peter walked over to the desk and looked down at the paper, it made him take in a deep breath, before reaching down to pick it up. His name was printed on the folded paper. He opened the paper, and he knew his world would never be the same. It read, I am Darius.

 

 

I Won, Yippee, I won

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Photo of ice-covered mailbox in Spotsylvania C...

Photo of ice-covered mailbox in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, USA. February 14, 2007. Photograph taken by Joy Schoenberger with a Pentax K100D Digital SLR camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I’m posting my 200 word flash fiction piece which won me $55.00. It’s the first  writing contest I have won, so I’m tickled. I have to admit it does make my ego feel good, even though I know it’s not really a big deal.  I wonder what it is that makes winning a contest so enjoyable? Is it the recognition of your work? I think these little ego boosts are good for a writer. Writing is a hard profession, due to all the other great stories out there in the publishing world. I’ve had my three seconds of bowing and patting myself on the back, now I have to get back to the real world and writing my book.
I hope you enjoy my 200 word story.
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The Rent
The forecastt for the day is cold with a winter storm warning. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed, but I know I have to. There are many errands to run, and I have to do them before the storm hits.
Why Mrs. Flannigan has me pay my rent in person, I’ll never understand. It would be easier if I put it in the mail with my monthly bills. There isn’t any use crying and whining about it. That’s the way it is.
I back my car from the drive for the ten-mile trip to Mrs. Flannigan’s. My phone is in my purse for an emergency. The sleet and freezing rain are  already falling. The radio announcer tells everyone to stay off the roads. I’m not the smartest person, because I’m driving. I can’t drive fast because of poor visibility.  My hands are gripping the  wheel and my knuckles are white. Relax, Sally, you can do this.
The bridge over the lake is icy. What is that idiot doing? He’s going too fast. I’m in the middle of the bridge. I can’t scoot over. No, oh God help me.
Paper reads: Trucker and young woman join fatality toll.

I Found It

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The day I found it, I knew beyond any doubt, He was real. That profound piece of knowledge is shown to me repeatedly through my life.

I am a mother of two children, now grown. I’ve been an RN for thirty-two years. Before I became a nurse, I spent years trying to survive and take care of my two young children as a single mom. I lived on food stamps and in public housing, and I hated every minute of it.

I’d always wanted to be a nurse and in fact started college right out of high school. I decided at that point I wanted my man, and put love above my education. I was married to my children’s father for nine years. He decided he wanted to play. I’m a selfish woman, I don’t share well. My marriage ended.

I was living in Vernon, Texas when my marriage crumbled, and my family was in Oklahoma. Everything about my world crumbled around me. I didn’t have a job, I had two small children, and I was an emotional wreck. I wasn’t dealing with my failed marriage well. I had my children wanting their father, and my family telling me the children needed their daddy. I actually swallowed my pride and asked my husband to move back home. I met him at the door, when he moved back. He gave me a kiss and I knew with that kiss something was missing. His being home lasted four days. He couldn’t stay away from his play toy. There was too much pain to handle. I packed up and moved back home to McAlester.

The subsidized housing we lived in was not bad, but the neighborhood could get rough. At that point, in time, which was in the mid 1970’s I, felt as if I were the only white-skinned person in the complex. My apartment was broken into a couple of times and once I made the mistake of leaving my month’s food stamps on the end table. They disappeared.

I rejoiced when I received a five-dollar increase in my welfare check. Every five dollars in my pocket helped. The rejoicing didn’t last long. The housing authority raised my rent by six dollars a month. It was a losing battle. There was no way to win.

We never had enough money to buy the non-food items we needed, such as laundry soap, toilet paper, and dishwashing soap. Times got so bad that my children would go to a service station and steal toilet paper for us to use.

Towards the end of the month, we would run out of food. Weekends and summer were the hardest, because the kids didn’t get their breakfast and lunch at school. I was blessed enough to have a mom and dad who let me and the kids come to their house for supper when we needed to. I felt like a failure from beginning to end. I couldn’t do anything right. I was supposed to have stayed married, and raised my kids with both a mother and a father. Instead, I felt like a moocher, even though I know they didn’t feel that way. The guilt I felt was eating me up.

I finally got enough of my mind back that I decided to go back to college and fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse. I couldn’t continue to let my children live the way they were living. My mom was so supportive. She encouraged me every chance she got. She wanted me to get the education she’d always wanted for me. I had to be able to take care of my children and myself.

My uncle teased me about not needing an education, because I now had two diplomas, Allan and Stephanie. He’d tried to talk me out of quitting school to marry my kids father, but of course being young and in love I didn’t listen.

Using Pell Grants, I moved to Wilburton and began college at Eastern Oklahoma State College. I made application to their nursing program and was accepted. The two-year program, which I took three to complete, was tough. I took all of my prerequisites one year and did nursing the next two years.

The kids and I lived in a two-bedroom house trailer on campus for the first year. I had a car but didn’t drive much except to go back home to see mom and dad. Mom would usually give me money for the gasoline. The problem of living in Wilburton and being in school, I no longer qualified for food stamps, because I received too much money from the Pell Grant.

We still had to eat and pay bills, so I took a part-time job at a local nursing home working as an aide. Since my family owned nursing homes, I was well qualified. I’d done everything from cooking in the kitchen to the laundry room. The down side to the job, it didn’t pay much more than minimum wage, and I had to pay for day care. It didn’t leave me much money. I worked whenever I could.

Through God’s grace, we made it through the first year. Due to almost freezing to death in that trailer, I found a walk-up apartment I could afford to rent. The kids’ day care was down the road from us about a block, and I could drop them off on my way to class without having to drive out of my way.

My second year of nursing school was the toughest. I couldn’t work many hours because of my clinical schedule for school. It got to the point one time when there wasn’t even milk for the kids in the refrigerator. I had nothing. I cried and I prayed and cried some more. I’d finally cried all the tears I could and I needed comfort.

Something made me pick up my Bible and I began reading in my favorite book of Isaiah. I felt comforted, as I always did. After my divorce, I slept with the Bible close to me. God was my comfort and my strength. When I turned, the page, what I saw astounded me. I began crying all over again, except this time with joy.

Stuck inside my Bible was a crisp, new ten-dollar bill. I didn’t put it there, which made it a miracle for me. It would let me buy food until my payday from work rolled around in a couple of days. I fell on my knees and began praising God. I knew then I didn’t have anything to worry about because He was with me. You know what, He still is. I worry very little because I know God has my back. I have failed him many times, but He has never failed me.

Times remained hard while I was in school, but I received my nursing license and my world turned around. I know I made it through with God’s help and the help of my family.

 

 

Good Friday

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As  Christian’s, today is the day we call Good Friday.  It is the day chosen to observe the cruisifiction of our Lord, Jesus Christ. When I was growing up I couldn’t grasp the concept of why it was called Good Friday when it represented a man being nailed to a cross and tortured until he died.  In my young eyes, there was nothing good about that. I knew killing was wrong so why did we celebrate a man dying.

Now in my later years I praise God every day for sending his son to this earth to die for my sins, so I can sit at the right hand of my father and praise him. I wrote a poem this morning called Easter Holiday which I would like to share with you.  I hope each one of you have a wonderful Holiday remembering our Lord and Savior.  Blessings to you and yours.

Easter Holiday

Easter holiday celebrated

Remember our Lord’s sacrifice

Taking the sins of mankind

While hanging on the cross

Forgive them Father

Last words spoken

Forgiveness

For all

SAVED

How To Blow your Top

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Today I’m a nurse and want to do a little teaching.  What did you think when you read my title? Did you think about getting so mad you wanted to blow up?  Well today we are going to chat about when you actually blow your top because you have ignored your blood pressure.

We all have a blood pressure. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be walking around.  If any of you have ever had low blood pressure you know it sometimes makes you feel as if your legs weigh 500 pounds apiece and you can barely drag along. When your blood pressure is high in the first stages, it also makes you barely drag around.  Your head can feel light as if it’s not on your body, or you could have a non-ending headache.  Sometimes they are really bad but most of the time they’re aggravation  to you. I venture to guess that a majority of time these little things are ignored until bigger problems begin.  This seems to happen more with men than woman since they don’t like going to the doctor’s office.

I know a young man now that is in his mid 20’s, smokes, and his blood pressure is consistently above 140 systolic (top number) and 100 for the diastolic (low number).  He has been told many times what is happening to his body but he chooses to ignore it since he doesn’t feel any different. The sad thing is I know this handsome young man is a walking time bomb.

For you who may not know about what the blood pressure actually is, I will explain it the best I can.  The top number of the blood pressure is the Systolic pressure.  What it represents is the amount of pressure that is put against the vessels when the heart pumps it out.  The Diastolic pressure is the amount of pressure that remains in the vessels when the heart is resting between beats.

Because his pressures are high all the time his vessels throughout his body, but especially in the brain, are under constant pressure which stretches and thins them.  At some point in the future without the hand of God touching him he will rupture a vessel.  All it will take is a pressure higher than normal and he will literally blow his top.  It can happen anywhere in the brain. I’m sure all of you have seen people who have had strokes.  There are those that are so severe that they can no longer walk or speak and most of the time end up with a g-tube into the stomach for feeding. There are others who are paralyzed on one side or blind. All depending where the vessel ruptured. It’s not a pretty picture, but it happens to far to many of us, both male and female.

I know everyone has heard that salt is one of the biggest contributors to hypertension, and so is smoking. Having constant stress in your life is another big factor.  Then there are those that it doesn’t matter what they do and how good their lifestyle is their blood pressure is out of site.  Even children are having problems with their blood pressure and that has to do with the food we are feeding them.

I for one  do not want to be one of those people who have a stroke.  I have all the risk factors, I’m overweight, I eat too much processed food, and the list could go on forever.  Do yourself a favor and go to webmd.com or any other medical program on the web and read about the symptoms of hypertension and how you can control it. Have your blood pressure checked often and if it is above 140 for the top number and higher than 85 for the bottom number, talk to your doctor. It could save you and your family a lot of sorrow.

Feet First (Short Story)

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Here is another one of my short stories that will be in my book called Shirley’s Short’s and Flashes.  Getting this new house done with the remodling is taking a big chunk of my time, so I hope you don’t mind my short stories.  Have a great evening.  Until next time.    Shirley

Feet First

Mrs. Tipton didn’t lock her door, but it wasn’t a problem. No one in the area locked their doors in 1985.  Scipio, Oklahoma wasn’t on a main road; the community sat fifteen miles north of highway 270 on a black top road. You had to be heading there know about the place.

The one-room store was the front room of an old house.  The other five rooms are where Mrs. Tipton lives.  The house had two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and bathroom.  The old outhouse still stood out by the barn.  It was still used occasionally, if the electricity went out, since it shut off the pump for the water supply.  There was a beautiful red crepe myrtle bush in full bloom at this time of year.  Mrs. Tipton had planted the bush when she and her husband moved into their store/home, in 1930.

Built in 1929 the one-room store and home was clapboard with wood floors, and one room.  The outside front had two rock pillars holding up the covering for the two gas pumps.  The pumps were old enough you still went inside to pay for your gas.

Mrs. Tipton was not much on decorating, but she did believe in living clean and being comfortable.  Handmade quilts were on the chairs and couch.  The quilts had similar colors, but they didn’t match. They suited her taste and lifestyle well.

The quilting frame hung on the living room ceiling until last year.  Over the years, Mrs. Tipton  brought the frame down three times a week, to work on  her projects.  She made many a bed covering over the years, using that frame.  Sometimes her daughter would visit and help her quilt, but most of the time it would be just her.

She used to make butter, and sell it in the store, but she had to get rid of her Jersey cow, because she couldn’t milk her. Selling the cow and removing her quilting frame was emotionally difficult for Mrs. Tipton, but her arthritis was so bad; she couldn’t do the handwork she once did.

Tom, who was Mrs. Tipton’s husband of fifty-two years, died two months ago from a heart attack.  Mrs. Tipton’s world crashed around her after her husband died.  Being a strong countrywoman, with an even stronger faith, she buried her husband, and went back to running the store. Her son and daughter tried to convince her to close the store and move in with one of them.  She refused, and nothing said or done could change her mind.

She’s lived in the clapboard house, and ran the store for over fifty years. She told her children she wouldn’t leave her house until they carried her out feet first. Besides, everyone in town knew her.  If she needed anything, someone would help her.  The place wasn’t even locked up at night, because she felt so secure no one would bother her. In the fifty years of running the store, not a thing had left the store without permission.  She was proud of her little community, and the people who lived there.

When she and her husband first opened the store, they had a booming business. It took to long to get to McAlester by horseback or wagon, so almost all the store purchases made by the people of Scipio was at Tipton’s Grocery.  Over the years, business decreased due to better transportation.  It didn’t make the Tipton’s any difference. Scipio was their home, and they weren’t going anywhere. They just made the best of their situation.

Four months went by, with life as usual.  Mrs. Tipton got up at 6:00 AM every day and turned on the front lights, so everyone knew the store was open.  Every once in a while, someone would come in, and buy a coke and peanuts for the drive into work, or buy gas to get to work. Now bread and milk are sold most of the time. Kids bought lots of candy, and she always gave the “bad for your teeth” lecture, every time they bought it.  The kids thought she was a funny old woman, but everyone loved her.  On a late fall night, two boys drove past the store.  The lights were off, so the boys knew the store was closed for the night. These boys weren’t from Scipio. They’d been driving around, and accidentally found the community. They turned around and drove back by the store a couple of times, trying to decide if they were going to stop, and what they were going to do.  The two boys were high on cocaine, and they didn’t care about anything, except getting money to buy more dope.

They pulled up to the side of the grocery store slowly, with their lights off.  They didn’t want the gravel parking area to alert anyone they were around the house.  The lights being off gave the boys an easy opportunity to walk around and not be seen.  The road didn’t have any traffic on it, so interruptions by traffic wasn’t a problem.  Brain could jimmy a lock, so he went to the front door.  He removed the bell from the screen door, so it wouldn’t make any noise. He tried the doorknob, and to his surprise, the door opened.  He motioned to his friend to follow him, “come on Sam hurry up, and be quiet.  We need to find the cash register.”

“Brian, I don’t think this is a real good idea.  What if we get caught?”

“Shut up, we’re not going to get caught.  Besides I have my insurance with me”

They looked around in the dark for the cash register.  When they found it, and got the drawer opened, it made a loud digging noise. They hurriedly started stuffing the small amount they found into their pockets.  They had to get out of the store, before they were caught.

A light came on, and Mrs. Tipton stepped out into the hall, and called out, “Who’s there?”

Brain pulled a gun from his pocket and shot her.  He had no intention of going to jail. Mrs. Tipton immediately fell to the floor, with her life’s blood running out around her.

The boys, ran from the store, and drove away in their car.  No one knew about the robbery, or the shooting.  At 6:00 AM, the store lights didn’t come on. People drove by, curious about why the lights weren’t on. It was unusual, because they were on every morning, for as long as anyone in the community could remember.

One of the community women entered the store to get milk at 10:00 AM, and noticed the cash register open. She walked around the counter, and spotted Mrs. Tipton on the floor in a pool of blood.  She called 911 from her cell phone.

Tipton’s Grocery closed, and Mrs. Tipton left her home, feet first, just as she wished.