Harry’s Hot House

“Can we turn up the AC? It is wildly hot in here,” a house guest asked.  The house owner, Harry, had never seen, let alone met, the asker of the question before, but the request was placed.

Harry went into super-host mode.  He scrambled around, trying to make the environmental conditions just right.

He placed potted plants; ferns, vines and flowers he did not the origin of around the guest.  A humidifier was set up and turned on.  The sounds of birds chirping and frogs croaking soon played from a very obscure Spotify play list.

Finally, when all was ready, Harry turned to the guest and placed sunglasses over his own eyes and the guests’.

“Sorry,” Harry said, “we only have a swamp cooler.”

“I’ll show myself out,” the guest said.


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The Legend of Diablo Caballo

“There’s legend ’round these parts,” the bartender began his story.

From across the room, Ranger’s attention was caught.  “Any story that starts like that has to be solid,” he thought, leaving his friends at their table and walking to the bar.

“There’s a tale as old this very mountain. A tale of a horse that no human could tame. A horse that would sooner spit in your face than give you a ride.  Any who touched it found an early demise.  Any who saw it were left rattled and afraid.  The demon horse of the west.  Locals named it to simply have some power over it.  They call it Diablo Caballo, mostly because they don’t know too many words in Spanish, but also to let people know not to mess with it.  I saw it once myself and spent a week with my doors locked. I couldn’t get out of this bar if I tried,” the bartender spoke through real fear as a crowd gathered around him to hear the tale.

Ranger was awestruck.  He was merely passing through this tiny town with friends.  He never thought there would be an evil ghost horse to round out his evening.  He had to know more.

“Barkeep,” Ranger, obviously from out of town, asked, “how big is this devil horse?”

“Slightly larger than average.  There’s really a low standard deviation in mustang size. You seen one, you seen ’em all in some sense.  The real terror in this one is the eyes.  It looks into the soul of a man and says, ‘nah. you ain’t nothing.’ It cuts deep.” The bartender explained.

“That sounds truly menacing,” Ranger said, “can I have one more of whatever lager is on tap, please?”

“Coming up, kid.”


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Wallace and the Ear Worm

“On a yellow submarine, a yellow…” the mail clerk sang as he passed by Wallace’s cubical.

Every day for the last ten months, the mail clerk had walked by the cube and sang one little bit of a popular song before getting on an elevator and leaving the floor.  Every day for the last ten months, Wallace went home singing some top 40 jam from the last 50 years of music history.

Today, with a submarine themed classic being hummed by a twenty-two year old mail delivery specialist, Wallace needed answers.  Why was this kid bringing such an eclectic mix of pop hits into the office?

Wallace rose from his cube as the mail clerk rolled by, “Hey, Chad, you have a sec?”

Chad apparently did not.  He flipped the mail cart over to create a barrier between himself and Wallace and fled to the stairwell.

“What the what?” Wallace questioned, confused by the scene.  He did what film and television had taught him to do; he gave chase.

“Chad! Just a question about the songs, man.” Wallace shouted as he kicked open the stair well door.  Chad was already two flights below.

“They said this day would come!” Chad shouted back.

“I have no idea what that could mean, kid!” Wallace wailed.  It was a very odd Wednesday.

Three more flights of stairs passed under foot before Wallace caught up with Chad.  Chad was bent at the waste, trying desperately to catch his breath and complaining of a cramp.

“Those presidential fitness certificates from school were lies. Dirty, dirty lies,” Chad lamented.

Wallace fared no better.  Sweat dripped from his brow and he held his sides hoping his heart rate would return to a much calmer beat soon.  It would not.

“Why in the world did that just happen?” Wallace asked.

“You’re too close to the truth,” Chad said between breaths.  He had one hand placed on the door to floor three to help keep him standing.  The door betrayed him as it slowly opened.

“That is quite enough, Chadwin Holderswint,” said an intimidating figure in a labcoat.

“Holderswint?” Wallace muttered.

“Sorry, boss. So sorry,” Chad begged forgiveness as he pulled himself off the stairwell landing.

“Wallace.  You have stumbled upon our greatest experiment yet.  We have been training our delivery employees to sing single lines of songs every one knows and timing how long it takes for the subject to go insane,” the lab coat wearing figure explained.

Wallace stared.

“You lasted longer than any previous subject, Wallace from Accounting,” the talking lab coat continued.

“Wait, you don’t know my last name?” Wallace asked.  He was ignored.

“We do know you have an impressive knowledge of 80s hits.” The lab coat answered.

“I still have no idea what is going on. Are you experimenting on me or Holderswint?” Wallace asked.

“You need to know nothing other than you are getting a raise which you will see on your next pay schedule.”

“I’ll take it!” Wallace said, trying to not clap his hands together.

“But you cannot ask any questions about what you have seen today.”

“I already said I’d take it, creepy coated stranger.”

“Is that to imply my coat is creep or I am creepy?”

“This is seriously the strangest day.”



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People on the Highway

I’m on a mini vacation this week, so there’s not a whole lot of driving going on.  This little detail hampers the whole concept of People on the Highway as I am not regularly seeing the highway.  I lucked out today with a much needed trip to the grocery store (the coffee is running low).  There’s a unique group of people one sees driving outside a grocery store at 3:00 on a Wednesday afternoon.

Today’s tale: Unfounded Fears

There’s a red SUV trying to fit into a parking spot it will never fit in, but the driver keeps the attempt going.  An older guy, he’s taking a spot near the front of the store and avoiding a long walk on this particularly toasty summer day.  I can’t blame.

I’m walking from my car to the store and watching the guy’s parking process.  It’s not going well.  Backing up, pulling in, backing up, pulling in; I pause my walk mostly due to my own trust issues.  I’m not entirely sure the driver can see me.  I can him though.

The driver’s name is Ed.  White hair rings his head, seat covers on the seats, and an Elk’s Club sticker on the passenger side window indicate Ed and I don’t have a ton in common, but I am fairly certain we share one similarity.  We’ve both believed some crazy stuff in our time.

Ed did four years worth of science fair projects on the dangers of quicksand when he was in high school.  He watched the moonlanding as a child and held his breath when Armstrong first step on the moon’s surface.  His heart raced a bit when he saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  He didn’t laugh when his grandkids showed him that giraffe and the stages of grief video on YouTube.  Quicksand was a very scary thing for him long ago.  Thanks to education and new fears like reverse mortgage scams, he’s pretty much over any actual fear of the very rare event, but part of him always thinks, “what if?”

So while I’m sitting here thinking, “what if the breaks fail and the car rolls into reverse for no apparent reason?” He’s in the air conditioned cab of his SUV that looks like every other SUV in its class and thinking, “what if the parking lot suddenly becomes quicksand?”

Basically the same thought.  Ed and I are essentially the same person.  I only wish that Ed felt a little more urgency in his parking.



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People on the Highway

I’m trying out a new path home from work.  As a semi-professional liar storyteller person, the new route is amazing.  It is peak Colorado front range.  I see cattle pastures, oil derricks, corn fields, industrial concrete recycling, small town schools, manufacturing plants that smell funny (likely because they are next to giant giant mounds of fresh fertilizer, but that is beside the point).  I see a new story setting every five minutes.  I am very much enjoying the new path.  Another thing it has going for it; very few other people on the road.

Consisting mostly of side roads, I don’t have to deal with too many Honda sedans with a texting driver at the wheel.  The standard situation for Honda sedans in Colorado at least.

Today, I had company on the commute and this is her story.

Today’s tale: Sunny

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Benji Can Explain

“I can explain!”

Benji had been starting conversations this way since grade school.  He never intended to be such a source of problems, but intent and reality were having a conversation without Benji.

“No, I should not have had the yo-yo out on the factory floor.  No, I should not have had my headphones in and listening to Chumbawumba at full volume.  I realize this is both damaging to my ears and dampens my ability to hear forklifts.  No, I should not have screamed when the forklift zipped by me.  Probably should have tried to stop myself from falling over so dramatically too.”  Benji’s second part of explanation statements tried to head off as many suspected questions as possible.  As previously stated, he’d been doing this for quite some time.

“Things got really weird when I was falling though.  Did you know this place has mice? Like, a ton of mice.  I saw a mouse as I hit the floor.  So I threw the yo-yo at it.  It was instinct.  You see something that carries the plague, you throw something at it.  Well, I should have played more baseball as a child because I missed the target entirely.  The yo-yo hit one of the robotic arms and twisted it.  I only use solid steel yo-yos, so the impact was quite forceful.”

At this point, Benji wondered if he could skip some details as his supervisors were staring at him with very cross expressions.  He opted against skipping any detail.

“The robot spun around and knocked down a tray of finished goods.  The goods began to roll.  I guess the vibration on the floor panicked the rest of the mice because they erupted into a stampede.  I’m still on the floor at this point and see a hundred tiny furry feet racing at my face.  I panic.  I launch myself up with one of those cool ninja jump moves like in the movies.  Well, I should have checked my surroundings first because I jumped right into Martha.  She shouts, starts falling over too, sees the mice, decides falling is a bad idea and stops herself by grabbing my shirt.  We avoid falling over but I spin around. Again.  I’m very dizzy at this point.  Martha let’s go of me and I stumble over my own feet and knock down another stack of goods.”

Benji paused to make a shrugging ‘what-do-you-do?’ expression.

“This time we go all movie cliche and the racks starts falling down like dominoes.  I’m horrified of course, but fear only takes over when the racks knock over that vat of near weightless chemicals that has been here since the 80s and we can’t legally destroy or we get a Ghostbusters style visit from the EPA.  So the vat starts rolling and rolling.  We’re shouting for people to get out of the way.  If a Go-Pro had been attached to this thing the footage would have been amazing.”

He took in a deep breath.

“The vat rolls right out the shipping dock and opens up.  The chemical is translucent and apparently photo-volatile.  As soon as the sun hit it, the chemical erupts in flame.  Now, before we go all crazy here and say I should be fired let me state this; the trees needed to go anyway and now we can put a parking lot back there.  It really is a win-win when we get down to it.”

Benji finished his version of events with a smile.  A moment later he was escorted from the building.


Jenkins Gets the Joke

“Knock knock.”  Old Man McClure said from behind his drink.

The joke portion of the dinner had begun.  Jenkins was displeased.

“Who’s there, sir?” Jenkins asked.  When Old Man McClure had had two or more drinks, the knock knock jokes began to make less sense.

“A livid duck.”

Jenkins had not heard this one before.  Perhaps his boss had learned a new one.

“A livid duck who?” Jenkins followed format.

“A livid duck who can’t open a door.”  Old Man McClure erupted in laughter.

“We have to finish these contracts before market open, sir.” Jenkins tried to refocus the night.