The Long Ride

“Something is simply not right.  The creaks, the lurching, the bumps and the feel of this place; all amiss!” Timothy found himself caught in a soliloquy he had no intention of stopping.  There was a mystery to solve on the southern line.

“The dead of night provides perfect cover for the perfect crime,” he continued.  “I should consult my notes.” He rummaged through a few scraps of paper he had scrawled “dinner was yum” on.

“Inconclusive,” he remarked.  “But certainly, there’s a murderer in a midst.”

His speech ended as his travel companion entered the cabin.

“You!” Timothy said, accusingly, “have you committed a deed most foul and now require me as an alibi? Hmm? What say you?”

Tina cocked her head and stared at him for a moment.  “What game are you playing?” She asked, disappointment clinging to every syllable.

“Oh come on,” Timothy said, “it is too dark out to see any of the majestic scenery we were promised and this is a s-s-s-super boring way to travel.”

“So you went all Agatha Christie on me?”

“Better than Mary Shelley.”

“What does that even mean?” Tina was incredibly curious.

“It probably would have involved something super weird with the left over chicken in the mini-fridge,” Timothy pondered.

“I am not going to leave you alone any more, okay?” Tina solved the problem.

 

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First and Last Party

It all started with a shout. “We’re throwing a party!” One housemate had decided the group’s future.

The words were well received and a party was planned, scheduled and promoted.  College had promised the best four years of their lives, and these housemates were going to make that happen.

The party proved to be the first and last at the house on Kemper street.  The reasons for this were cataloged in a journal known in the house as “The Book of Questions.” These were not questions they intended to answer, but phrases that made the residents of the little commune ask questions.  Phrases overheard the night of the party, as revelers were allowing themselves to become their true selves, as inhibition died and realness took hold.

Phrases that made the good people of Kemper Street question everything.

Here are selections from The Book of Questions:

“You don’t even know who Bon Jovi is.”

“Yeah, but what does Vampire Weekend really mean?”

“I don’t recycle, I just cycle.  I’m ride or die to the core.”

“Call it bean juice.”

“Clothes Pin is my wrestling alter-ego.”

“I’m thinking of minoring in mining.”

“That’s exactly what I mean! Quantum Leap is just a fever dream of a dying man.”

“I bet the Kool Aid man would know.”

“Mozart would kick Godzilla’s butt.”

“My Insta is nothing but pictures of donkeys and I don’t know how that happened.  Well, I do, but I one weird weekend shouldn’t destroy the entire explore algorithm.”

“Placemats are elitist.”

“Why don’t we just put permafrost in the freezer for a while?”

“Veggie hot dogs saved my life. Killed my cat, but saved my life.”

“If I had a nickle for every time I had to defend juggling…I could at least buy a six pack.”

“Cheese dip or GTFO, Chad!”

“My initiation involved running over LEGOs and I kinda’ liked it.”

 

 

Thanks for reading! While you’re here, People on the Highway, the eBook is available free through Sunday. Just click here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VUE2OQS Lots of short stories both funny and not intentionally funny

Gerard the Ghost Follows Procedure

“Boo and whatnot.  I’ll be on the couch,” Gerard the Ghost said, floating down the hallway on way his way to the kitchen.

Claire startled. “Jeepers, Gerard, you got me that time.  We talked about this.”

“I’m a ghost, Claire. I have to say ‘boo’ at least once during the week or I have to go training. Again.  Stephan does the re-training events. He’s a tool,” Gerard said.  He stopped in the hallway and hovered above a vase full of roses.

“You just have to say, ‘boo,’ not actually scare me. We read through the procedure together.  We agreed you’d be cool, I’d be cool, Martin would be cool. If we were all cool, you could stay and we would not call an old priest and a young priest to show you the way out.” Claire did not hide her threat very well.

“Hey, hey, I’m cool,” Gerard said putting his hands in the air defensively, “I just think the instruction was written by people who intended fright to be part of the deal.”

“Then scare Martin!” Claire shouted, nearly dropping breakfast.

“Wow. You sold him out fast.” Gerard was shocked.

“He knows what he did. Scare him until he sleeps poorly would you?”

Gerard wished he could still blink.  “My go-forward plan will be to focus scares on Martin.  In the immediate, I am going to pick up his Last of Us save.  That’ll really annoy him and I’ll hit my poltergeist requirements for the week.  Win win.”

“Take twenty minutes then I need the telly. Thanks, Gerard!”

“Good chat, Claire. See you at dinner time.”

 

 

 

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Deck and Amy and the Recommendations

The film’s final act came to a close.  Credits were ushered in by a loud boom that was meant to be the start of a song.  Amy woke up.

“Oh. My. Gosh! That movie gets better every viewing,” Carter said, clapping and laughing.

“That was quite a film! Action, adventure…plot.  I feel the characters really developed and learned a few things about love, but mostly about themselves.  Good stuff,” Deck said.  He had said this exact same phrase after watching The Love Guru with friends.

“I thought you’d love it!” Peggy said, joining her husband in a weird clap and laugh combo of joy.

“Totally agree,” Amy said, groggily joining the conversation, “when they finally worked it out, man. I tell you.”

“Well,” Deck said, standing up from the couch, “I hate to view and run, but it is super late and we have a thing in the morning.”

“Thank you for having us over,” Amy said.

“Thank you guys! This was fun.  We should plan for next week.  I know just the film!” Carter said.

“Sounds great!” Deck said, “we’ll see what we can do.”

Deck and Amy left the house for their car awaiting them in the driveway.

The engine roared to life, but the cab was silent for a long moment.  Amy stared out the windshield. Deck could not blink.  In unison, they both turned to face each other.

“That was absolute garbage,” Deck said.

“Just the worst. I think less of our friends now,” Amy said.

“I think less of us now,” Deck countered.

“I worry for the future of art,” Amy mumbled.

“They have a kid. They will teach another human that movie was okay,” Deck pondered.

“Let’s go home and put any literally any random movie from Netflix because it will be better than that monstrosity,” Amy suggested.

“Consider it done. We’re never coming back here.”

 

 

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They were watching Napoleon Dynamite

Scene from Upcoming Theatrical Production: 1997

Setting:

Dinner rush.
September 24, 1997.
Olive Garden in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado.

Zoom to:

Table Seven.  A four top. All seats filled.  Family.  Dad, Uncle, two teenage children are devouring a salad topped with a mound of Parmesan cheese because the father figure thought it would be funny to not say ‘when’ at an appropriate time.  The chuckle elicited from the children did not warrant such an abuse of the cheese grater.  The waiter hated every moment of it.  Bread sticks were consumed well before the salad arrived.

All parties have ordered the ‘sampler platter’ because carbs aren’t yet vilified.

Sade plays in the background, but no one knows it.  Multiple guests think it is Bjork’s new album.  No one can look it up without first visiting a library with cheap or free internet access.  Even then, Netscape is a fickle beast.

 

Father: Kids. It is 1997. How do you all feel about that top 40 hit, Mmmbop by those Hanson brothers?

Child, oldest: It’s mmmm fine. I guess. Whatever. Don’t have a cow, man. Butt out. This is your brain on drugs.

Child, youngest: Other things a teenager would say.

Uncle: Where’s the beef? Badda bing! I cried at the end of Titanic.  

 

Waiter, inner dialogue: These guys must be walking on the sun if they think I’m bringing more bread sticks.

 

 

End Scene.

__________________________

 

“So, Mrs. Caputo, what do you think of the opening scene of 1997?” Harvey Wince, playwright extraordinaire, asks of his editor, manager and all around connection maker Mrs. Wynonna Caputo.

Wynonna removes her reading glasses and places them gently on her desk, sitting between her iPhone and keyboard.  She is reading the scene from her iPad which she deliberately places before her.  She takes in a deep breath and feels a sense of relief as she returns to the world of 2017.

“O. M. G. Harvey. That transported back 20 years. It was like I could feel the hype machine around Good Will Hunting again.  I could smell the pogs, man. I was at once younger and wiser and terrified.  You’ll win awards for this and we’ll sell out Broadway for years to come.” Wynonna stood and extended her hand to shake Harvey’s.

“Thank you, Mrs. Caputo.   Thank you,” Harvey held back tears.

“This is culture. Art. Who needs new stuff when the old stuff is so comfortable?!” Mrs. Caputo began to cry.

“Furbies will have to appear in Act Three,” Harvey noted.

“I was hoping you’d say that.”

 

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In the Weeds

“You know we live our lives according to other people’s schedules?  Boss. Neighbor. In-laws. Cars in traffic.  There’s no control.  No freedom.  That sound out there? That’s just using what little time we have available to meet the demands of someone else.  Demands that that other person has no idea they are making, but society dictates we match this pretty little suburban ideal of what we show each other,” Calder said from his recliner.

“You have to mow, Cal.” Camilla said.

“Only if I can put the anarchy symbol in the grass.”

“So long as it’s short and mosquito free.”

Principal Clark and the Science Fair

 

Principal Clark hated the science fair.  Not for lack of caring about the science or expanding the minds of youngsters, but for the simple fact that baking soda and vinegar volcanoes smelled terrible.  It was a stench that haunted his dreams.  As he entered the school’s auditorium to being judging this year’s event, he took a brief pause to ready for next hour and a half.

The doors swung open and he reviewed the scene.  Volcanoes everywhere.

Crap he thought.

Then his eye captured an image of hope.  In the far corner of the open space, set up on a table without a tablecloth (and surely the control freak Mr. Osborne was freaking out about that detail) was an honest to goodness experiment.  No display of a wildly popular chemical reaction, but a tri-fold display board dedicated to circles and wheels.  A student was learning.

Principal Clark raced to the exhibit and soaked in every word of the presentation.

“Tell me everything,” Principal Clark demanded of the student at the table.

“Certainly, Principal Clark.  When I went to decide on this year’s research project I wanted to see just how innovative the first big piece of technology really was.  Second, I wanted to *circle* back to something I remember you saying long ago,” the student explained.

Clark was intrigued.  “What did I say long ago?”

“Well, I know you’re *tired*, but you’re *wheeley* going to like this,” the student said, snickering.

Principal Clark knew what was happening.  “I said I could always be won over by a solid pun. Dang it. The one time you kids listen to me.  Congratulations, you’ve won the science fair.”

 

 

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