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.


A Performance Review Compromise

“Robert, could you come in here please?” Frank said.

Robert pushed his chair away from his desk and his mind went wild with what a sudden discussion with his boss could mean.  “What’s up, Frank?” He asked, stepping into the office.

“Have a seat and shut the door if you would. Thanks.”  The two took their seats.  “Just a quick performance review.  Have to say, you’re doing great work.  I do want to discuss one little issue though.”

The two real estate developers stared at each other a moment.  Robert was pretty sure he knew what was coming.

“Your development name ideas during project proposals have some of our other developers concerned,” Frank said.

“Oh come on. They’re proposals,” Robert retorted.

“For example.  The golf course anchored development on 51st was pitched with Loch Luster.  During the pitch you kept insisting it would be called lackluster.”

Robert laughed.

“Or the gated community called HDOTU.  After hours of chit chat it was revealed that this meant Heat Death of the Universe.  You laughed and changed the name to Duckberg when you noticed people didn’t like that.” Frank said.

“And now Duckberg is a well loved community.  It worked out,” Robert said, stifling a laugh.

“I’ll just read some of these names here.  Zombie Proof Acres, Apocalypse Ranch, Totally Haunted Patio Homes at Dove Ridge, Acid Rain Ranch, Martian Landing Site Ranch, Cracked Concrete Ranch, really just a bunch of Ranch names for the next, uh,” Frank flipped through a stack of papers, “next seven pages.”

“That’s seven pages of project proposals though. Good year for the company!” Robert said.  Frank did not enjoy the sarcastic tone.

“You know what, let’s compromise here.  Could you name each proposal Duckberg 2, 3, 4 and so on.  Like a horror movie franchise.  I’ll even allow three ‘Duckberg 2 v Duckberg 3 in Space’ titles over the next 12 months.  We just need fewer end of times ranches and more marketing flyer friendly names, okay?” Frank pleaded.

“I will try my best.  But there is a pitch for High Noon Duel Community coming across your desk shortly.” Robert said.

“Last one, kid. Last one.”

Carousels That Should Not Exist


“Gang, we need the next big thing in classic amusement parks rides.  Those hipsters love the old timey allure of a carousel, but we need something to give them an ironic edge.  What do you have for me?” Said the man with a business card in his pocket showing his title as “Director of Theme Park Theme”.   He spent five years figuring it out, abandoning the quest three years ago.

“Well, those Alien movies are big again.  Perhaps someone should talk to Ridley Scott for licensing rights?” Offered the Assistant Director of Carousel Operations.

“Is the Hall of Presidents still around? If not could we steal the robots and put them on a carousel?” Suggested the Interim Manager of Theme Park Theme Design.

“What if we go old school and make all of the mounts monsters from ancient Greece?” Tony, the intern, said.

“Make all of them bumble bees and play Flight of the Bumblebee through the speakers!” The Associate Supervisor of Park Ride Attendants shouted.

“Kids are all about those fidget spinners these days.  Maybe have the mounts spin and spin as they orbit the center?” The Production Manager of Treaty Concessions said.  “Treaty” was the company jargon for snack stands.  It took three weeks to figure that out.

The Director of Theme Park theme raised his hand to put an end to conversation. “Good ideas all.  I want to see President faces on Alien bodies by noon Tuesday.  Intern, get to work on having the mounts spin and spin.  Someone find a public domain cut of Flight of the Bumblebee.  We go into production next month.  Now get to work!”

The Director of Theme Park Theme felt that the future of “Kitchen Sink Rides and Slides” amusement park was bright indeed.

Willa’s Impact

Willa Wallace was wildly intelligent.  Her days were spent making businesses better, helping clients save the world and generally leading her best life.  Her parents were proud of her.  Her friends were proud of her.  Her colleagues were proud of her.  She was proud of the hard work put into making this her life.

Every where Willa went, she had an instant and remarkable impact. At the moment, her impact on the area was not exactly positive.

“There’s no unexpected object in the bagging area you lousy machine!” Willa yelled as she attempted, for the final time, grocery self check-out.

Terrance Has IT

“What we need is a catchy slogan.  Maybe a hashtag campaign.  #FeelingIT  #IThasit  #ITistheSh- well, maybe we don’t go there.  Also, a brand book.  We need to pick our colors, a logo.  Designate a social media lead, get an intern to run the day to day.  Metrics measurement.  We need engagement records per post.  Click rates, click throughs.  RTS, likes, sub tweets.  Someone get me an SEO expert up in here.  If we aren’t first on Google search results, we’re last.  Everybody got it?” Terrance looked around the room for the exact length of one heartbeat, if the heart belonged to a hummingbird.

“Good,” Terrance continued, “this department needs to sizzle, we need to pop.  We need to attract all the talent.  We don’t want to steal people, we want them to beg to come to us.  Got it?” He began pointing to each person sitting around the large conference room table. “Got it? Got it? Got it? Good.  Make it happen.”

Terrance never sat down during the meeting.  One final finger point and he fled the room.

Those sitting around the conference table looked at each other, waiting for any one to react.  Finally, the company president sounded off, “I need maintenance to remove the espresso machine from the IT office space.  And if someone would decipher what Terrance said for me, I’ll follow up.  I have no idea how to follow that interruption, so let’s all get back to work.”

The Five Secrets of Harold Cape

Harold Cape was a simple man.  Described most often as honest, loyal and even tempered, he would have made a good mayor or barber.  He craved not the power of local government or the comradeship of a barber shop, though, and instead opted for a career as a craftsman putting together perfectly constructed fishing poles.

His poles were displayed in the dens of wealthy men and women who had never sat at a lake’s shore, but that did not bother him in the slightest.  He took their money and bought himself the boat of his dreams so he could catch a fish or two.  He was a simple man.

Even simple men can be complex at times.  For example, Harold Cape had never told anyone that he had memorized the words of Green Day’s American Idiot.  He was well outside of that album’s target demographic when it was released, but he knew good music when he heard it and now whistles the melody of St. Jimmy while sailing his dream boat and catching fish.

He was no fan of puns.  He once punched a stranger in a bar for making a crude play of words involving the free peanuts.  When his wife picked him up at the police station following a brief holding period, he told her there was an unpaid parking ticket under with his name attached that caused the trouble.  No one, not even fishing buddies, would believe that he once punched a man for something so trivial.

He hated lying about that.  He hated lying in general.  Harold Cape feared lies.  He felt he was too dumb to keep track of the truths he said, how in the world could he keep up with the lies?  This fear made him an incredibly honest person, but he likes to make others believe he is capable of lies.  Usually this amounts to little more than ending a statement with “or is it?” Followed soon with a dramatic ‘bum bum bum.”

His fondness for cake once cost him a winning lottery ticket.  He told the story once to his oldest son and made him promise to never tell his mother.  As he told the story, he was standing in line a gas station when he saw a flash of light from the corner of his eye.  He over reacted initially, thinking the light was sourced at an incoming squirrel or other threat, but when he looked quickly to his right he saw a display of cake and other sugary treats.  His stomach roared and his brained pleaded for the dopamine rush of a sugar binge.  He left the line and went to stare at the desserts for a solid fifteen minutes.

The store sold a winning lottery ticket that weekend at 3:58 pm, exactly one minute after Harold had left the line.  The man behind him had taken home 3.5 million dollars lump sum.  Harold was furious.

It was in his anger that Harold did something he promised himself he would keep secret beyond the grave.  The Monday after he discovered what happened with the lottery ticket, he donned a mask and grabbed a bat.  He ran, he was younger then and still believed running was a thing people should do, to the gas station and robbed the store.  He took a stack of scratch tickets, five Slim-Jims, a pack of M&Ms and a cigar he did not intend on smoking.  Then he ran off to the night.  He was upset with how good he felt after the robbery.

When he was far enough from the scene, he began scratching off the lottery tickets to see what he had won.  He never claimed the seven dollars that showed up over the 200 tickets.

Harold Cape makes fishing poles.  He’s honest, loyal and even tempered.  He put a lot of effort in making sure this is what people think of him.  If his secrets got out, well, by golly that would be devastating.