A time it was

a woman looks at the mountains through a window on the observation tower.

Once upon a time – what does that mean?

Well, it happened once – but how do you get “upon” a time? Is time something you can leap on, like a horse or a bicycle? Or does “a” time mean that it doesn’t really matter when it happened exactly, it was just one of those days? (And I paused just then – did I mean to ask if it was one of “these” days or one of “those” days, if you know what I mean? And if you know what I mean, why am I trying so hard to explain?) Oh, I hope all of this hem-hawing at the start doesn’t mean I’m going to have a time trying to get the story out.

Ah, well, then. Once upon a time – it was a time not unlike ours but long ago – a time when the rulers were arguing among themselves and people heard them argue, rolled their eyes and went about their business, because a person’s got to eat and squabbling rulers don’t feed anyone except the scribes who pay attention and write it all down as if someone cared – there was a girl. Continue reading “A time it was”

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The sudden waltz

the sudden waltz

I always wondered where I would be today if I had stopped to tie my shoe and did not, after all, bump into her as I entered the store. I would have arrived five seconds later, and she would have already walked out the door and started up the street in the other direction.

Or I wonder where I would be today if she had been in a different mood and, when I bumped into her and asked her pardon, she would have said, “Watch where you’re going, moron,” instead of giggling and saying, “Shall we dance?” while grabbing my hand to keep her balance, which led to my swinging her around in a makeshift waltz.

Seventy years later, still holding hands, I’m glad I didn’t stop to tie my shoe, even though the sudden waltz ended when I tripped.

The Man Who Was Scared of Finishing

the end dreamstime_s_13037813

Finnegan Moore was good at starting things, but he seemed to have a phobia about endings, completions. It was if he believed that endings were little deaths, as if finishing a book was a good time to die, or finishing a work project, or the last film in a trilogy, or the last show of a series – and he didn’t want to die.

“Lord, let me live to see how the story ends,” was a constant refrain of his life. He was relieved to reach the end of the Harry Potter stories, but also terrified, because now that he knew how the story ends, would someone in the sky decide it was now an appropriate time to take him?

“But you know how the story ends,” his friend Dan said one day. “You know how everyone’s story ends – with an ending, and not necessarily wrapped up in a bow.”

“That’s just it, you see,” Finnegan said. “That’s just it. I’m afraid of finishing because it’s a little death.” Continue reading “The Man Who Was Scared of Finishing”

4 short stories less than 30 words each

4 short storiesSo there was this dragon and he had to pee and the house was surrounded by wildfire and about to be lost. The yard stank for weeks, though.

The guitar mounted on the wall came down, and he began to pick. They found him that way, guitar where it belonged, a grin on his face.

The last thing anyone remembered was the stranger turning to them with a smirk, saying, “I wish you hadn’t done that.”

“You’ve done well today,” she told the class. “That was a thoughtful and insightful discussion, but truth be told, the first thing you know is old Jed’s a millionaire.”

Lovely Rita

Saturday Stories #9

rita's story

When Rita was a little girl, there was a song about a meter maid, and it sounded like such fun, and she grew up to be a meter maid of charm and loveliness, and instead of grousing over tickets people would see her name tag and smile and say, “Oh, it’s you! ‘Lovely Rita, Meter Maid.’ And yes, I suppose I am a little late getting back to my car, and I’ll cheerfully pay my fine because you asked so sweetly.”

But then they equipped the meters with devices that did Rita’s job with electronics and told her “It’s not performance-related, it’s the economics,” and the sadness returned to the meters and the resentment: “I was only a few minutes late, damn machine.”

But Rita never lost her smile, and if she were sad not to be walking among her meters – and it did make her sad – she never let on, she just went on to share her charm and her loveliness in other places and for other people, who said, “You’re so lovely, Rita; lovely Rita, you should have been a meter maid.”

And she would say, “I was, for a time, but this is now. And I’m so grateful, at least, that I had that chance, for a while.”

Photo 102417709 © Kamil Janiszewski | Dreamstime.com

Beware the Ides

Saturday Stories #8

A public square, people walking, vehicles buzzing past.

“Beware the Ides of September!” cried the old bearded man, boring his wild eyes deep into the stranger’s soul, and then, as the stranger stared at him confused, stepped forward and shouted this time: “Beware the Ides of September!”

“Don’t you mean March? Caesar’s death and all that?” asked the stranger, perhaps a bit condescending, perhaps a bit amused.

“Six months on. The assassins fall in among themselves,” said the crazy one. “Your sins shall find you out. Beware the Ides of September.”

‘Well, I haven’t killed any emperors lately,” said the stranger, smugly now. “I think I’m safe.”

“It’s the ones who think they’re safe who are in the most danger,” the mad prophet snapped. “Beware, I tell thee. Beware the Ides of September!”

“Poppycock,” said the stranger, and stepped in front of a dump truck bearing the name Ides & Sons Gravel and Excavating.

Something goes horribly wrong

Saturday Stories #7

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“I love the feel of paper in my hands,” the wild-eyed woman said. “Do you know the feeling? Do you?”

“I know exactly what you mean,” the nervous old man said. “Exactly.”

“You do, do you?” She said, moving ominously close to him. “Do ya, punk? Exactly?”

“I really think you should take a deep breath,” he breathed, “and put down the weapon.”

“And all this time I thought you were my friend,” the old woman snarled. “All along you were plotting to bring me down.”

“That’s not true! I mean, yes, I am your friend.”

“How do you explain how you knew my cat is gone? Did you kill her? Did ya, punk?”

“No, of course not. I heard the news from your neighbor.”

“And only the thief would know my necklace was stolen from the drawer in my closet.”

“Don’t come any closer.”

“I’ll come as close as I want,” she said quietly. “Why are you dead set on making my life miserable?”

“You told me yourself about the drawer in your closet. I just assumed that’s where your necklace was stolen from.”

”You know what you do when you assume, right? You make an ass out of u and me.”

“For the love of God, Agnes!”

The next morning the nice detective came to the door to say her necklace had been found in the stash of a young burglar who had struck several homes in the neighborhood. While they were talking, her cat hopped up on the stoop and rubbed against the detective’s leg, back from a long adventure.

“Oops,” said Agnes.

Comfort & Joy, Detective Agency

Saturday Stories #6

the office

Chapter 1

Adam Comfort woke with a start.

“Whoa, that was close,” he said to himself, and he realized he was sweating – or out of breath – or wait, what was close? How did he know he just escaped from – something?

Just like that, the dream was gone.

The brick view out his bedroom window was the first anchor of the morning to reality. What the hell had he been dreaming? It was a hell of a dream, that much he remembered – if he was a movie writer, he’d be rich if only he had written it down. It was about – what? He was chasing down – something. He and his partner were about to capture – someone – and just before he woke up they were caught in a trap by – whoever. He had quickly lost every little detail about the dream – well, most of the details.

“I’ll always remember the skunk,” he said out loud. Good grief, the skunk. Continue reading “Comfort & Joy, Detective Agency”