Monday, November 27, 2017

WEEKEND CAMPING TRIP



Marci parks her car in a space on the forest ranger’s parking lot. She and her college classmates, Alice and Andi, walk into the ranger station, to register, plan their hiking trail and to receive a safety packet from the ranger. Afterwards with their backpacks, tent rolls, composite bows, quiver full of arrows, they’re on the trail, hiking to the campsite, enjoying the surrounding beauty, and their get-away from the city. 

            At the campsite, they set their tents, Alice builds a camp fire while Marci and Andi, with their bow and arrows hunt for rabbit and fish. At the end of the hunt, there is enough meat for them to eat a good meal, with vegetables from cans, and packets of condiments.

            “Damnit, did anyone bring ketchup?” Alice asks.

            “I did,” Andi says.

            “Thank you,” Alice says.

            After the meal, they clean up the area, store things in their proper places, then sit around the campfire, chit-chatting about everything except romance, until the stars replace the sunlight and sleepiness makes them to go into their tents for the night.

            In the morning, it is Marci turn to build a campfire while, Alice and Andi, decide it would be better to hunt for fish for breakfast than small animals. They catch enough fish for a good breakfast. Finished with breakfast, they clean up, then prepare their packs for the day’s hike to the second campsite. Once there, they hunt for their evening meal, eat, chit-chat into the night, then into their tents to sleep.

In the morning, after breakfast and cleanup, they prepare to break camp for the hike. The crack of a shotgun gets their attention; they stand still, look into the dense shrubbery, tree, yards from their campsite, to figure out, where is someone shooting. They heard more shots that pinpoints a direction for them to scan. They hear more shots.

“The ranger said that there would be no big game hunting for months,” Alice says.

“Maybe a camper is being attacked by bears or wolves,” Andi says.

“Those shots came from the forest interior not the camping trail,” Marci says.

They listen for more shots but hear none then they hear strange noise from the bush, coming their way fast. Marci grabs her bow, nock an arrow, pull the string back, aim in the direction of the noise that’s become louder.

“Do you think that we’ll need that?” Alice asks.

“Hell, yeah, it might be a wounded bear; shit, it sounds like a car coming fast,” Andi says. She gets her bow, nock and arrow, aims, bow strings pulled back. Alice does that same, just in time because the ant, the size of a full size black bear, breaks through the bushes, at a fast pace. All three arrows penetrate its body then another volley does the same that makes it slump to the ground, dead. It is then that they realize that it is not a bear. 

“What the fuck,” Alice says.

“It’s a damn ant as big as shit,” Andi says.

“Where the hell did it come from?” Marci asks.

“We better call the ranger station,” Alice says.

They hear noise from the shrubbery.

“Shit, another one is coming,” Andi says.

They nock arrows, aim, bow strings pulled back. A man appears, carrying a pump-shotgun. Out of breath, he says, “damn, you got it.”

“Yeah, we got whatever it is,” Marci says.

Alice walks away from them to the backpacks. “I going to activate the thing,” she says.

“Where is she going,” he asks.

“To alert the nearest ranger,” Andi says.

 He shouts, “hey, wait a minute, you can’t do that.”

“Like hell I can’t,” Alice shouts.

He raises the shotgun, points it at her. An arrow from Marci’s bow plunges into his shoulder. The shotgun fires but aimlessly at the ground; he drops to his knees, grabbing at the arrow.

The ranger station was already alerted to the shots by other campers on the trail. But, it took a photograph of the dead ant sent to the chief ranger by cell-phone to convince him of it. The man was airlifted by helicopter to the hospital under guard. The forest rangers gathered, and heavily armed, tracked the trail of the ant and man that led them to an illegal marijuana farm. Where it was determined that the man used a growth chemical on the plants and a few ants were strayed also.

“It looks like he killed them all right here, but we better search the area just in case, one or maybe more got out like the one those girls killed,” Chief says.

“About these dead ones?” Ranger asks.

“Drag them into a pile then set them on fire,” Chief says.

Marci, Alice and Andi decide to never speak of the ant to anyone unless the forest rangers announce it first. Nobody believe the man, claiming that he is too high on marijuana; however, he is charged with growing marijuana illegally on state property, and careless use of a firearm on state property. Marci, Alice and Andi continue their camping trip, afterwards, return to college. Then, one day, three months later, each receives in the mail a certificate of merit for preserving the forest as a safe place, and a free lifetime camping pass, without a mention of the ant.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A SHOT IN THE STORM



“I saw your wife’s car at the bar,” his neighbor says.

It is a dark, stormy night that should have made him stay home, but he had to venture out into it. She told him that she had stopped seeing the man that she dated before shacking with him. 

“He’s still a part of you,” he said.

“No, that is not true,” she said.

“I don’t believe that bull,” he said.

“I’m yours, please believe me,” she said.

He walks through the bad weather, worse than the weatherman predicted, stops in the bar’s parking lot, hides behind a tree. He can see in the bar that she is with the man; they’re talking. She smiles the cute smile that’s only for him. He knows now that he has no other choice than to do what he had made up his mind to do if he saw them together. The pistol rests between his stomach and belt, he grasps its handle, wraps his finger on the trigger. A sudden thunderclap startles him; he feels hot pain slicing through his penis; he drops to the ground, grabs his groin, rolls around on the ground, screaming, “please help me, I’ve been shot.” A fellow leaving the bar sees him, calls the police.  Police officers arrive before the fire-rescue ambulance. They assist him. A fire-rescue officer tells the police officers, “the guy shot his weenie off.”

“No fooling,” Police Officer says.

“Damn,” the other Police Officer says.

The fire-rescue officer gives the pistol to the Police Officer. “That’s why I didn’t see a bullet hole in his clothing,” she says.

The fire-rescue officers lift him into the ambulance. He sees her. She is no longer interested in the commotion. She gets in to her car with the man.

“He should be home from work now; you’ll like him dad. I really love him.”   

Thursday, November 2, 2017

WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE DUCKS



The small community of middle class houses surround a large pond that ducks also calls home mainly because Martin, almost every evening, feeds them with bread crumbs, until one day.

“Well, I’ll be damned; where are the ducks?” Martin asks.

“Maybe another alligator is visiting,” Bonnie says.

“I don’t know, I mean; I haven’t noticed any,” Martin says.

“They could’ve found a better feeding pond,” Bonnie says.

“Maybe so but it does seem strange; I mean, all of a sudden, they’re all gone,” Martin says.

“They’ll be back,” Bonnie says.

“Yeah, maybe so, I’ll just save the crumbs,” Martin says.



That night, Old Man Julius, lets his Chihuahua mix out of the house to roam, relieve herself. After an hour, he realizes that his companion has not announced her return so he goes looking for her. After a close call with an alligator, sometime ago, he couldn’t drag her even close to the pond. He walks around, calling for his buddy until near sunrise then surmises that maybe his buddy was dognapped. He will call the police to report his belief.



The next night, Nancy parks her car behind her husband’s car on the driveway. Walking to the front door, she hears a strange noise from the pond. She looks on instinct rather than curiosity, shrieks, runs into the house screaming her husband’s name, Donald.

Alarmed, Donald shouts. “What the hell is the matter.”

“There’s a beast thing near the pond,” Nancy says.

“What?” Donald asks.

“On the edge of the pond, there is this beast,” Nancy says.

“Maybe a big alligator,” Donald says.

“Oh, hell no, this was a damn creature,” Nancy says.

Donald sees that his wife is shaking from fright, so he strolls out the house.

“Call the police,” Nancy shouts.

Donald walks to the edge of the driveway, looks in the direction of the pond, does not see anything or anyone.

From the doorway, Nancy asks. “Do you see it?”

“Not a thing, maybe it was a trick of the heat and night lights,” Donald says.

“Maybe so but it looked so real,” Nancy says.



Because of the heat and lack of rain, the water level in the pond is down. It is Saturday morning, Madison decides to eat breakfast in the living room, watch a show on the television. Before she sets her tray down on the coffee table, she looks out the window at the pond, sees the frog; it’s body the size of a four-door sedan automobile. It lies still in the pond. She stares at it for a moment to be sure that she sees what she sees. A retired non-commissioned officer of the air force, an expert pistol shooter, she hurries to retrieve her pistol. From the doorway, she aims, shoots the frog four times between its eyes. Martin also saw the frog from his house, hurries to the edge of the pond with his pump shotgun, shoots the creature.

“The damn thing is dead,” Madison says.

“Where did it come from?” Martin asks. 

Neighbors, hearing the shots, seeing the frog, hurries to the edge of the pond.

“That’s what I saw the other night,” Nancy says.

“Damn, it might have been looking for something to eat,” Donald says.

Jenkins shows up. “So, that’s where it got to,” he says.

“What do you mean?” Madison asks.

“I was doing some experiment on it and it began to grow unexpectedly; I had it in a cage, but it grew so big that it busted out, looks like, it kept on growing,” Jenkins says.

Madison studies Jenkins for a fast five seconds, fires a bullet into his heart; Martin steps over the body, points his shotgun at the head, shoots. After a long minute of silence, Old Man Julius says, “well, it looks like to me that Jenkins tried to protect his creature that he created and got in the way of the gunfire.” The neighbors agree.   

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A RIDE ON THE MISSISSIPPI


Megan looks at the grandmother steadying her carrying bag with one hand on the ticket booth counter, rummaging through it with the other hand, while taking moments to tell her four grandchildren if they don’t stop their bad behavior that they will not get to ride on the steamboat tour of the Mississippi River. Megan wishes that the woman would hurry.  She glances at her husband, Donald, standing beside her, the reason they’re in New Orleans. It was his idea, a weekend get-away to rekindle the heat in their marriage, chilled by the doctor’s bad news. They agreed to wait to have children but after ten years the wait became unnecessary. The female in the ticket booth using a microphone calls for the next customer. Donald steps to the window. Megan follows, once there, steps to the side, turns her back to the advertising wall, lean against it, looks at the line of people waiting to buy tickets. A young muscular woman, wearing a black tee shirt, with capital letters F B I in red. Megan strains her eyes to read the smaller letters in white that together with the capital letters reads female body inspector. The woman stands next to another woman and they’re holding hands. Megan looks at the woman in the black tee shirt; they’re eyes seems to meet that makes Megan cower, look at the ground. She peeks at the woman who seems to be ogling her halter-top making her side step closer to Donald. He looks at her, smiles.

            At the gangplank, before boarding the steamboat, a souvenir photographer of the moment does her best to get Megan and Donald to do something lovable other than standing next to each other; Megan looks into the crowd, waiting their turn, sees the woman in the black tee shirt who appears to be leering her body that makes her move closer to Donald who hugs her waist.

            On the steamboat, it is in motion. Donald and Megan sit on deck chairs to view the historic sites that the tour announcer points out. During an explanation of a site, Megan leans forward to get a better view, sees the woman in the black tee shirt with her companion coming up the stairway; she seems to peer at Megan who snaps back to avoid eye contact. She grabs Donald hand.



In the steamboat’s dining hall, it reminds Megan of a Tampa restaurant that they used to visit when they were dating. She recalls that it would allow couples to order a meal on a large plate to eat from together. Donald called it their Lady and the Tramp moment.

            “I have to use the washroom,” she says.

            “Okay, I’ll grab a table,” he says.

            Megan leaves the lady’s room, looks over the crowd for Donald. She sees him waving, strolls to him; the closer that she gets to him the more she realizes that there’s one plate on the table. She hurries through the aisle not noticing the woman in the black tee shirt.

           


Thursday, October 12, 2017

PROTEGEE




“I’m pregnant,” stops the family dinner time conversation, mother and father smiles become frowns directed at their sixteen-year-old daughter and only child. Parents asks in unison. “What did you say?”

            “I’m pregnant,” Joyce says.

            “Were you raped or did you just ignore all of the advice I gave you?” Sally asks.

            “I was not raped,” Joyce says then shy into silence.

            “Why do you think that I told you all those things to avoid being pregnant?” Sally asks.

             “I did it but Tom, well, he wanted to be natural one night,” Joyce says.

            “I warned you about that shit,” James says.

            “Yes, you did daddy but I was, just, well, it was in the moment,” Joyce says.

            “That damn moment that came to this moment,” Sally says.

            “I told you that those punks out there would sweet talk the shit until you do it just to make them happy,” James says.

            “All those talk that we told you about was to avoid this happening at your age,” Sally says.

            “How far are you? It can’t be that far so we’ll see about an abortion,” James says.

            “We can’t do that,” Sally says.

            “Why the hell not?” James asks.

            “It’s illegal,” Sally says.



During the birth, complications due to an unknown medical condition test the know-how and skills of the doctors to save the life of Joyce and her child until the child’s life becomes the priority.



In their living room, sitting together on the couch, watching a drama on the television, munching on popcorn, drinking soda.

            “That was a good one but I had the ending figured wrong,” James says.

            “Yeah, me too,” Sally says.

            James pushes buttons on the remote to find another drama to watch.

            “I was at the grand market the other day and ran into the other grandmother and she had the baby with her,” Sally says.

            “So, what,” James says.

            “Well, I’m just glad that they took the baby before we signed the adoption papers,” she says.

            “I guess there would be a chance meeting every now and then,” he says.

            “Yes, I guess so. He’s gotten so big and cute.”

            “I could care less.”

            “That is a horrible thing to say; I mean he is our grandson.

            “That you agreed to put up for adoption before that family opened their mouths.”

            “I was grieving then so were you.”

            “Maybe so but I didn’t want that child and that was a for sure thing that still stands.”

            Their attention goes to the movie.

            “James.”

            “Yes.”

            “I’ve been stopping at their house after work once a week to see the baby for the past five months.”

            Her confession draws his glare upon her.

            “They understood that our decision about the adoption was during our grief, losing Joyce,” she says.

            “We lost Joyce because their self-centered asshole son got her pregnant; that bastard probably did for bragging rights,” he says.

“Joyce is gone from us forever I’m sorry, so sorry that she’s gone but it is our grandson now,”

“Your grandson, not mine.”

They watch the movie without speaking.

“Joyce was our only child and we loved her but she was my protegee until she finished college then that slime bastard caused that to stop,” he says.

“I’m doing what I’m doing so that the baby will always know who his mother was,” she says.

“That will be the bitch that the bastard will marry,” he says.

There is silence for a long time only interrupted by voices from the television.

“They’re bringing the baby here this Sunday and the plan is that every other Sunday we keep him for that day,” she says.





The other grandparents enter the house. Sally asks them to make themselves comfortable as she lifts the baby from the carriage.

            “Where’s James?”

            “He doesn’t live here no more,” Sally says.   

              

   

               










Wednesday, September 27, 2017

THE RUN

"Why does this fellow live so far in the wilderness?" Russell asks.
"Because of what happen to his wife," Driver says.
"What happened to her?"
"A captain of police saw her one day and wanted her but not for housework, cooking; do you understand?"
"Yes, yes I do."
"He used her so bad that when he sent her away, instead of going home, she killed herself from shame."
"Damn"
"The old fellow is a damn good automobile mechanic, after she died he just lost interest in his shop, moved out here with his daughter, to be away from people."

Driver stops the car in front of a house, then pushes the horn button; no one appears from the house, so he drives around it, going to a large barn. The old mechanic, wiping his hands with a clothe, walks towards them.
"He speaks no English," Driver whispers.
"Okay," Russell says.
They get out of the car; after the introductions, Driver says to the old mechanic, "my friend need a fast car to help a family escape the police." Old Mechanic looks them over then with a finger signals for them to follow him into the barn. In the barn, in a line against the wall are three cars, but the Old Mechanic does not stop so the two men follow him. They hear a car in motion, step through the back door, see a car going fast on an oval track, smaller but resembling a race track. Old Mechanic waves a hand and the car slows until it stops. His daughter jump out it, hurries to her father. Old Mechanic tells the two men, "you can have a car but only if my daughter drives it to escape with that family." Old Mechanic walks to greet his daughter.
"What is he thinking? Women are not permitted to drive in this country," Russell says.
"So true," Driver says.
They look at father and daughter in discussion then daughter runs to the house; Old Mechanic steps to the two men. "I want my daughter to leave this country because I fear that want happened to my wife will happen to her."
"I understand," Russell says.
"My daughter wants to go to your country to drive race cars so can you do this for her," Old Mechanic says.
"I will give it my damn best to make sure that she does," Russell says.
"Good then no charge for the car that she picks to do this for that family," Old Mechanic says.
"Thank you," Russell says.
They wait and chat for an half hour then daughter runs from the house to them. Old Mechanic laughs upon seeing her. "My daughter had a sex change," he says. She looks like a young man with a crew haircut, attired in male clothing with no facial makeup.
Daughter says in rough English, "okay, I am ready to be chauffer," that surprises Russell and Driver. "I had smuggled to me how to speak English tapes," she says.

Daughter picks the most durable  and fastest automobile for the run. Afterwards, she drives it, following Driver to the safe house while listening to Russell plans for the escape. In the late night, the cars stop. Russell goes to a house, minutes later, a man, woman and child dashes from it into the car with Daughter.
Daughter looks at Russell, winks with a thumbs up then drives away, onto side streets that will put them on the main highway. The sun begins to rise; the Man curious of Daughter since their handshake, occasionally, would look at her in a sly manner. She drives onto the highway that has no speed limit and opens the motor but not to cause it to shut down.
After an hour, Man shouts, "you are a woman."    
"What?" Daughter says.
"You are a female," Man shouts, wakes his family.
"Yes, of course, that is the plan," Daughter says.
"What is it?" Wife asks.
"This is not a man if the police sees her we are caught."
"The police will not know at a glance," Wife says.
"That is true; how long did it take with your stares," Daughter says.
"Still, it is against the law for a woman to drive in this country so pull over and I will drive," Man says.
"No. It is not the plan," Daughter says.

They enter the capital city and the traffic is slow; however, nobody notices Daughter, not even the intersection traffic police officers. "You must stop so that I can relieve myself," Man says.
"Yes, that is a good idea, for our son too," Wife says.
"Okay," Daughter says. She stops at an establishment; the family gets out but she remains with the car running.

Not far away, in concealment, two officers sit in a  police car.
"I always wanted an American car like that one."
"It is a nice looking car."
"Maybe, it is a car used for smuggling."
"We have to confiscate it to be sure."

The family  returns to the car, woman and child climbs onto the backseat. Man stops at the driver's door, opens it. "Move over, I will drive," he says.
"No," Daughter says.
Man pushes her to slide her from under the steering wheel. "You are breaking the plan," she says. Man shifts the gear to put the car in motion then carefully drives into traffic. "You are breaking the plan," Daughter says. He ignores her.
"If we miss the time to be there, they will leave us behind," Daughter says.
"They will wait," Man says.
"Russell said that they will not if we miss the time to be there," Daughter says.
Man ignores her.
"The police are behind us," Wife says.
Man looks over his shoulder at the approaching police car; he looks forward then begins to shift gears but not moving, hearing grinding noises. "Stop, you are destroying my gears then we will go nowhere," Daughter yells. Man looks over his should at the approaching police car at his wife with a shock realization of his stupidity. Daughter's one hand grabs the steering wheel. "I'll slide under you and you slide onto this side," she says.
Daughter  adjust the gears, powers the motor, leaving the police car in a stand still manner, as she steers through traffic, rushing to the highway. The police car follows but at a distance. The highway appears, Daughter puts more power to the motor. The police stops their pursuit. Daughter lowers the car's speed.

"Helicopter," Daughter says aloud. The family looks out the back window. The helicopter gets closer. Car goes to its top speed, stays at a steady pace. Helicopter flies pass Car then lower itself to regulate Car's speed but Car does not become intimidated. Helicopter stays feet from Car's headlights and that is how both stay for a couple of miles then Helicopter lifts, banks, its engine stalls; it fall into a hard landing. Car speeds away.
The Man and Woman shouts their relief. Son pats Daughter on her head; she laughs. She drives at top speed until she sees the marker then slows so that she can turn onto the designated road. On the road she makes the car go fast until she sees the aircraft, that lift like a helicopter then flies like an airplane. An armed man signals for her to slow to a stop at a point. After she stops, the man calls out for them to hurry onto the aircraft. Once aboard, they're ushered to seats. They hear a bomb blast. The armed man tells them that the car was blown up. They feel the aircraft flying away.    














Monday, June 19, 2017

MICHAEL and HELEN

The family uses Skype to get together on selected evenings since the mother and wife, Helen, is in Afghanistan on her national guard duty. Six-year-old Mark talks about happy events so does Michael, to avoid creating more anxiety for Helen then she needs. Michael, a seasoned police officer, sees a mask on Helen's face that makes him believe that she had a terrible day.

Helen's deployment ends. Michael uses his vacation days for the family to be reunited before she returns to her job at the hospital. A month after returning to her job, she begins to visit family on the other side of the state. It becomes a continuous visit every month then twice a month; she begins to take Mark on the visits. Mark believes something is going on but refuses to think about it. On the last visit, she calls Michael from an aunt's house. "I filed for a divorce; I met someone on my last deployment." Michael recalls the mask that he saw on her face; it was not the pressure of the job that she was hiding; it was someone else hiding in her room. "It just was one of those things that happens," she says. His anger strikes her, "You damn whore, I am faithful to you and you do this to us."

After the divorce is finalized, Helen says, "we can make arrangements for Mark to visit on school breaks since I'll be living on the other side of the state."
"No. I don't want to see you or him again," Michael says.
"Michael, please, Mark will be hurt."
"You got over me so can he."

One day Michael opens his front door. It is Helen's uncle who rung the doorbell. He hasn't seen him since a few days before the divorce. "Hi?"
"Hi."
"What's up?"
"Helen called me to get in touch with you to tell you that Mark is in serious health trouble because something in his system is not working right so the doctors say that you might have the right stuff in your blood to keep him alive."
"I have to get ready for work."
"Did you hear me?"
"Did you hear me?"
"This is your son that we're talking about."
"I lost my son eight years ago." Michael closes the door.

A week later in the supermarket parking lot, Helen's husband walks up to Michael, introduces himself. "How far did you kick your wife and kids to the dirt to get my family?" Michael asks.
"I never had a wife or kids before."
Michael vicious right uppercut knocks Husband unconscious to the ground. "Damn family snatcher," he snarls then walks away.

Helen calls Michael's captain for help. "Get a court order," he tells her.

Two years passes.
At the end of his shift, Michael sits in the locker room, preparing to leave the day's work behind  when a call for all officers to respond to an active robbery and shooting with officers down and injured civilian victims.
Later that evening, in their living room, Helen, Husband and Mark listens to the news announcer as they look at scenes from the event. An employment photograph of Michael appears."Police Officer Michael White bravely rescued an fellow officer and two civilians from danger but lost his life. He leaves behind a sole survivor, his brother." Mark stares at the television for a moment then stand, stroll to his room, closes the door in a manner that makes Helen and her Husband feel his barrier.