Mango Market on Isla del Sol.
Feel the breeze, the warmth of the sun.
Isla del Sol is an uninhabited island and protected to keep it in it’s natural state. A very tropical feel to the island with it’s abundance of mangoes, fanned palmetto palms, and awesome wind blown oaks. It is believed that the island was originally occupied by the Mango Indians who worked in the groves of mango there. The island is also nicknamed Mango Island. Today, descendants of explorers live in a nearby village on the mainland. Isla del Sol is only accessible by canoe. Visitors must paddle their way to the island, across a small inlet, as did the Indians long ago. Abandoned and weathered canoes still rest upon it’s shore. The island is managed by a farm cooperative. Members, who grow their own natural fruits and vegetables, share them in a marketplace twice weekly on the island.
“Good morning, members. Another delightful day in our marketplace. I decided to add some color to make it look more festive and tropical. I have the usual six carts. They are now painted with a variety of pastels. I hope you like them. Thank you, Ernesto,” said Magdalena, manager of Mango Market. “Let’s see what you have, Diego.” “Mama, I have the finest coffee, tea, cocoa and apple cider. The coffee, today, is one hundred percent Colombian. I have English tea, the best Swiss chocolate, and fresh squeezed apple cider. I have four decanters, one for each. Piping hot, ready to serve,” said Diego. “Load your items on this cart. It’s mocha brown. Place your cart at the end of the path on the left. The aromas will radiate throughout the market.” “I will, señora. And I have my earthen clay mugs and wooden spoons. Natural everything. Raw honey, fresh cream, and brown sugar cane,” said Diego.
“The breads, come ahead. Rosa, what a wheat wagon you have. Mmm, hot crusted French, Italian, and Cuban. Oh, the aromas will blend well with the coffee cart,” said Magdalena with delight and a smile. “Buenos días, Magdalena. Fresh from the oven. Spreads of butter, cream cheese, and apple butter. Clove and cinnamon sprinkles. These will awaken the senses,” said Rosa as she fans her hand across the baskets. “Take this cart. It’s painted with a pastel of clay yellow. Please, set up on the left, up front next to Diego’s mocha brown coffee cart. A nice contrast of color.” said Magdalena.
Feel the breeze, the warmth of the sun.
“Need fruit. Need fruits and juices. Come on up, Juan,” said Magdalena. “I got the fruits, señora, and I got the juice. Is tropical okay?” said Juan. “Of course, they look so luscious. The juice boxes are fine, as long as they are fresh squeezed,” said Magdalena. “I have papaya, guava, and ripened mangoes,” said Juan proudly. “I hope those are my mangoes. They don’t look like my mangoes. Are they organic and not supermarket?” said Magdalena with suspicion. “Not supermarket, but farmer’s market and I was told that they are organic. All natural,” said Juan. “Well, they’ll do, but please, do not tell anyone about them. They all come here for my mangoes, as you know, grown here on the island. Here. Take the aqua marine cart. A nice contrast of color. On the left, right here, up front. Gracias, Juan,” said Magdalena.
“I need a hot food cart. Benito, I smell your tamale pies and burritos and sizzling sausage. Do you have sauce and cheese?” “Yes, I do, señora. And I have hot cheese sticks and nachos.” “I’ll be the first in line for your cheese sticks. I hope you have a blazing hot sauce for the nachos. Need mild too. Oh, your cart. Take this one, the pastel palmetto green. At the end, on the right, across from Diego’s coffee cart,” said Magdalena as she views the set up of the carts.
Feel the breeze, the warmth of the sun.
“Let’s see, the pastries. Ah, the smell of yeast, vanilla, chocolate, sugar and spice. I know you are here, please come forward,” said Magdalena with anticipation. “I have the cart already. Loaded and ready to go,” said Anna Maria. “Oh, my goodness, what a display. A bakery cart adds flavor to a marketplace. This is the perfect cart. Raspberry is the right color for you. Up this way, on the right, next to Benito’s hot food cart. Mmm, the blend of coffee, sizzling sausage, and pastries will compliment each other.”
“One last cart, a vegetable cart, please. Señora Alvarez, good morning. Your vegetables look so fresh. All organic, I hope,” said Magdalena. “Yes, indeed, señora. I have fresh golden corn in their husks, ripened cherry tomatoes, green and red peppers, red onions, and crisp lettuce,” said Señora Alvarez. “This cart is for you, brilliant orange. On the right, up front, here.”
Feel the breeze, the warmth of the sun.
Magdalena, with her arms crossed, looks at the marketplace on the yellow clay path, under the shade of the wind blown oaks. The sun is beaming through providing the light of day. She bends back breathing in the flavors of the market and she delights in the pastels of color she has created. “Everyone, this is the day, this is the place, this is the time for us to celebrate. Moments away before our first guests arrive. Are you ready? Do you all have mangoes?” “We are ready,” said by all the vendors in the marketplace. “And yes, Magdalena, we all have mangoes, plenty of them!” said Juan. All laugh.
“We are ready, then. I need two greeters at the entrance. Carlos and Alicia, can you assist me here? Remember to check their membership cards. All guests must be accompanied by a member. Must do a count. We only allow twenty five into the marketplace per hour. On each side of you, there are two tables of my fresh mangoes. Give one of each to our members and guests may have one, too. Oh yes, tell them about our sunrise market. It’s the day after tomorrow. Must be here at predawn before sunrise. I know it’s early, but that’s what it’s all about, the sunrise. It’s a two hour market open to only twenty five. That way, there will be room to casually roam, allow time and space to gather, and to enjoy the flavors of our food and drink.”
“Good morning, all. Welcome to Mango Market. A mango for you and a mango for you,” said Carlos wearing his straw hat with a colorful red band. “This way, please. Straight ahead. Enjoy your time in the market,” said Alicia wearing a long melon tunic belted at the waist with a yellow braided tie. On her feet are simple leather sandals.
Magdalena said to those entering the market, “Good morning, buenos dias. It’s a delightful day. Have a great time. We have everything for you. All fresh and natural.”
Just before noon when the market closes, Magdalena walks through the market talking with each vendor. “Everything good, Diego?” “Yes, used four decanters of each today.” “Benito, all your food is gone. Did you run out?” “Yes, Magdalena. I was raided,” laughingly said Benito.
“Rosa, you still have breads. What happened?” “Not too many bread lovers today. Everyone seemed to like the bagels which I don’t normally have much of a demand. And the cream cheese. Went like ice cream!”
“I know the pastries did well and I see they did, Anna Maria.” “Everyone wanted every one of them. The sweet breads were the most popular, conchas and, believe or not, the German chocolate cake.” “This is an island market, you would think,” said Magdalena. Anna Maria continue, “The frosted apple turnovers went like fresh apples picked from the tree.” “Did you save me a couple? You know what I like,” said Magdalena with a smile. “Yes, I did. The concha and the German chocolate cake.” Shh!” said Magdalena.
“All right, give me your score, Juan.” “I did well, all stopped here first because I’m at the front of the market. The most popular fruit was the Georgia peach. The most favored juice was pineapple,” said hesitantly by Juan. “What do you mean, no mangoes sold? How did the Georgia peach get in here? and the pineapple juice? This is not Hawaii!” said Magdalena a little distressed. Juan to Magdalena, “They were requested and I had a few under the counter. Yes, I got them at the farmer’s market, too.” “Aye Yai Yai! Next time, all mangoes, my mangoes!” said Magdalena shaking her finger with a smile.
“Mrs. Alvarez, I know you came through for me, you always do. Vegetables. Everyone needs vegetables. How did you do?” said Magdalena hoping for a home run. “I sold a few tomatoes, and the husks of corn are always popular, but the rest are still here. I’m sorry no home run,” said Señora Alvarez, then said “I sold mangoes, many of them. Fresh from your grove.” “That really delights me, you did make a home run! You win the prize,” said Magdalena. “Prize, I get a prize?” said Señora Alvarez. “Yes, you sold mangoes. Above the rest! Here’s a bag of mangoes to go,” said Magdalena with a grin and a wink.
“Thank you folks for coming, the market closes in five minutes. Remember the sunrise market in two days. Only twenty five are allowed and must be here before the break of dawn. Reservations are required,” said Magdalena as she directs Carlos to close the gate.
Feel the breeze, the warmth of the sun.
A sound in the morning. A soft and gentle sound.
The tide washes in, the tide trickles out. The tide washes in, the tide trickles out.
Can you hear it ? Can you see it ? Can you feel it?
The tide washes in, the tide trickles out. The tide washes in, the tide trickles out.
Can you hear it? Can you see it? Can you feel it?
The tide washes in, the tide trickles out. The tide washes in, the tide trickles out.
Can you hear it? Can you see it? Can you feel it?
It moves closer to the shore It backs into the sea. Even closer to the shore. It backs into the sea.
Can you hear it? Can you see it? Can you feel it?
The tide washes in, the tide trickles out. The tide washes in, the tide trickles out.
Yes, I hear it. Yes, I see it. Yes, I feel it. The tide washes in, the tide washes in, the tide washes in.
The Leisure Guide Support Groups–Silly Obsessions. For Women Only.
“Welcome, ladies, to ‘Silly Obsessions.’ Thanks for responding to my ad. I assume most of you found me listed under support groups. I applaud you for having the courage to be here.”
“Let me take a count. Eleven of you plus me makes twelve. Perfect. There are twelve chairs. Choose a chair and have a seat. Notice that each chair is numbered, one through twelve. Once seated, that will be your assigned seat for every session. There will be twelve sessions. The cost of each session is twelve dollars. Cash up front.”
“One rule. What we share in here remains confidential. It’s our secret. We never use names, only numbers. I’m seated in chair one, so I’m number one. Number seven, you’re seated in chair seven. That’s your number. And so forth. We are numbers and nothing else. That way our identities are protected. Perfect.”
“Now, let’s get started. Just say your number, then your obsession. Any volunteers?” “I’m number seven. I’m obsessed.” Number one to number seven, “Obsessed with…?” “That’s all I can say for now.” “Thank you for sharing. You are courageous.”
“Anyone else? Number four, you seem like you want to say something. It’s okay to share.” Number four shakes her head no while staring down at the floor. “Thank you for sharing. You are courageous,” said number one. Number four thinking to herself, I’ll talk when I’m ready to talk. First, I’ve got to see what cards are placed on the table by the others, then I’ll know what to say about me.
“Go ahead, two.” “Dust bunnies are running wild in my house.” “So brave of you, number two. Thank you for sharing. You are courageous, said number one. Dust bunnies seem to be one of the most common obsessions with women. All having a need to keep a perfectly clean house. I suspect there are others here with the same obsession.”
“Number ten, you seem to be delighted with what you’re doing. Would you like to comment?” “See, I have ten of them. Five on each hand. I just love painting my nails. That’s my obsession.” “If you like painting your nails, then why are you here?” “I always read the personals. I was applying my new shade of color, missed a nail, and painted your ad red. That’s glossy apple red. Then I read, ‘Silly Obsessions. For Women Only.’ I thought, ‘that’s me.’ So here I am, along with my glossy apple reds. I know it’s a silly obsession, but it’s what I like to do. I have a sample for each of you.”
Number one thinking to herself, Why is she here? So, she polishes her nails. Nothing wrong with that. But if she wants to be here, and wants to share, she is welcome. That’s twelve more dollars in my treasure chest. She’s up to something. It’s rumored that a cosmetics peddler has been making the rounds to the women support groups. Could it be her? I do like the glossy apple red.
“Go ahead, number five.” “I’m obsessed with my refrigerator magnets. All one-hundred of them. All kinds. They know their place and I put them there. I spend five hours each day arranging them. Organized in sets of twenty five. Five across and five down. Five hours is way too long. If I could just cut the time in half. But, then, what would I do with the rest of my half-time obsessing? I’m sure I can think of something else to do for the other two and one half hours. A magnetic force just pulls me to the fridge.” “Thank you for sharing. You are courageous. High five to you, number five.”
“How about in the middle this time? Number six, I have a sixth sense about you. I sense you want to say it. I can’t say it for you. Go ahead. You can do it.” “I’m into…” “Say it, number six,” said number one. “I’m into…” “I know it’s the unthinkable, a bit of madness. It’s time to say it.” “I have a fetish.” Every woman is listening intently bracing to hear the confession of sin. “I’m into…nothing. Nothing at all. Okay, I really enjoy keeping people on the edge of their seats. I just get a thrill from it. Such a rush. See, I just did it.” All women sigh with relief.
“Let’s move to the top of the ladder. Number twelve, tell us about your obsession.” “Well, I’m into cracking eggs. A dozen each morning. Must be fresh and Grade A Large. It gives me such a release. I perform this ritual every morning at the crack of dawn. A great way to start my day, every day.” “What do you do with them, number twelve?” “Placed in the fridge until twelve noon. Two scrambled for lunch. Three added to my mixing bowls to bake three cakes. Four boiled for no reason. And three over lightly added to my man’s plate with a T-Bone steak. Ready for him at noon every day, just as he likes it. Always been told to always please my man and to always keep a clean house.” “Number twelve, you have told a tale of twelve. How can any woman today believe that one? No woman takes care of her man these days. She takes care of herself and does the housework, too. Thank you for sharing,” said number one.
“May I speak, please. I have someone to sell, I mean something to share.” “Number eight, to sell or share or both? Go ahead, this must be worth hearing,” laughingly said number one. “I’m obsessed with the yellow pages. I turn each and every page. If I miss one, then I start all over again.” “Oh my. How many pages and what’s your interest?” Number eight pulls out from under her chair a large book. She holds up the book, points to the cover and flips through it’s pages. “See, it’s him. He’s on the cover, the back, and the spine of the book. He is on every page. A photo for all pages.” “Who is he, number eight?” “He’s an attorney. We all know him. He is everywhere. Notice his smile and his wink. His line, ‘at your service.’ Now, what is that about? I’ve got his number. Always ready to help a woman in need.” “Thank you for sharing. You really are obsessed with him, I mean the yellow pages. Thank you for your courage.”
“What are you looking at, number nine?” “I see two, three, four of them rolling across the floor. Just like tumbling tumbleweed rolling across a dusty street of a deserted ghost town. The saloon doors are slamming back and forth, and the shutters are rattling in the howl of the wind. The piano is playing, but no one is there…” “Number nine, number nine, are you there? Please return.” “I’m back from the ‘Old West.’ That’s what dust bunnies do to me.” “Such an imagination. Thank you for sharing.”
“Whew, I hope someone has something lighter to share.” “I do, light as a feather. I have what they call a ‘feather fetish.’ I’m a bit superstitious. My feather has some magical power. See, this one, it’s a pheasant feather. Long with colors of brown and red. It can lighten a heavy load. Need the laundry basket lifted? One swipe of the feather can lift from floor to counter with ease. Arranging furniture? This one feather can move a trunk across a room with no effort at all. I have many others, but this feather has power, magical power.” “Wishful thinking, don’t you think, number eleven?” “No, it works. Worried about dust bunnies? It can lift a bed to search for them. One fan and it removes them. All of them.” “Thank you for sharing, number eleven. An obsession worth keeping for sure.”
“Okay, number three, then me. “You’re in a chuckle, number three. Share the laugh.” In the light lilt of a British tone of voice, “These preoccupations with dust bunnies, painting nails, organizing magnets, and a love affair with the yellow pages are utterly ridiculous. Rather silly, I think, really.” “Number three, you’ve made a good point. Silly and ridiculous, but important to those that are obsessed. Do you have a little, teensy-weensy, obsession to share?” “Yes, I do. It’s…dust bunnies…really.” “I just knew it, number three. We’re all obsessed with them. Thank you for sharing. You are really courageous. You had the nerve to say what most obsessions really are. Silly and ridiculous.”
“Now, me. My obsession is…with obsessions. I just love them. Nothing like being fixated on something. I’ve enjoyed every one you’ve shared. If you enjoy them, why not keep them? If not, maybe change to something else. I’m sure we, obsessives, can always come up with a new one. Session over. Remember next time-twelve, twelve, twelve. Twelve noon. Room Twelve. Twelve dollars. And that’s cash up front.”
“Silly me. Silly you. Silly obsessions.”
One time in a social psychology class, I read about the concept of “the looking glass self.” Supposedly the idea is, how do I see myself as others see me? It’s like looking in a mirror. Some say it’s a mirror image of who we are, the reverse of that is real about ourselves. So, if you’re looking in the mirror at yourself, you are seeing the opposite of who you are.
One morning, Ed said to himself, “I’m so glad I took the day off. I’ve been pushing it. Burning the candle at both ends. I need a day to rest and recover.”
The phone rings, “Mornin, Ed. This is Edith. Remember our lunch date today? Meet me at the new restaurant ‘Reflections.’ It’s located at Image Way and Mirody Highway. You can’t miss it. It’s all covered in glass. You can seen the sunrise and the sunset in it. A real cool place. Wait til you see it inside. See you there at ten forty five. I’ll make reservations, for the lunch crowd is already there. Brunch ends at eleven thirty, so don’t be late.”
“Edie, I look kind of rough today. Unshaven and in my tee shirt.” “Don’t worry, come as you are. There are many there that look just like you. They all look like gorillas that just came in from the jungle. I think you’ll be quite comfortable there. Just wait til you see it. It’s operated by my friend ‘Beau.’ He used to own a diner and is used to short order cooking. Again, you’re in for a imaginary experience. I’ve never seen this concept ever in a restaurant. Beau is a former college professor of sociology. He created a unique theme with this restaurant.”
Ed to himself, “It’s seven a.m. I’ll lie down for a few more winks.” Beep, beep, beep. Radio news. “Good morning. Here’s the latest top news. The Commerce Department reports that the economy may be on an upswing. Retail sales are up and new job growth of two hundred thousand this year, thus far. From Hollywood, a remake of ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ debuts this week. An extraordinary story, anthropologists believe that humans and gorillas may share 98.6 % DNA. Are we apes now? What do you see in your mirror? After the break. Stay with us”.
From Now Radio News. “We are joined by phone with Dr. Bradley Holway, an anthropologist who has studied primates and humans. Dr. Holway, what do you think about this find?” “It’s probably true, but we are more kin to the chimpanzee than we are to gorillas, but they are primates too.” “Are you familiar with the concept of ‘the looking glass self?” “Yes, I am, but I have never seen a gorilla in my mirror.”
Dr. Holway laughed and said “Maybe I should take a look to see what may be there. Chimps first, then gorillas. Do I look like a gorilla? Do you look like a gorilla?” Dr. Holway finally comments, “When I see a gorilla in my mirror, I may become a believer, but not just yet.” “There you have it folks. What do you see in your mirror? Send me your responses to email@example.com.”
“All right it’s time to rise out of bed, Ed. Brunch at eleven.” Ed grabs his tooth brush and his shaving gear. “Okay, it’s time for a warm invigorating shower. It should clear my mind. Ah, this is so stimulating. My body is coming alive. Must hurry, I must get out of here soon, time can’t wait.” Ed towels off and goes to his vanity. The mirror is fogged and wet, so he wiped off the glass with his hand. “There, I can see now. Wash my face, brush my teeth, and shave myself back into my human likeness.”
Ed turns on the TV news. “Good morning. NCN reports an astonishing find. Humans and gorillas are kin. It’s believed that man is more ape than man and ape is more human than ape. Scientist report there is a strong connection sharing 98.6 DNA. Do you see a gorilla in your mirror? More after the break.”
Ed picks up his “Morning Daily News” at his door step. He unfolds paper and the headlines read, “Gorillas are Men.” More inside about this amazing story. Do you see a gorilla in you mirror? ” Ed says to himself, “They’re all talking about gorillas in mirrors. Can’t be real. What we see in the mirror is only a reflection and nothing more.”
“Now that does it. I am not an ape and certainly not a gorilla. Let me prove it to myself. Now, Ed go to the mirror in the hall and take a look at what you see. All I see is me. That settles it. Take another look. What is that? Oh no, did I just see a gorilla in my mirror? Let me look again, there’s me again. I knew I wasn’t a gorilla. I just don’t believe this nonsense. There’s that gorilla in my mirror, again. I am not a gorilla. I am not a gorilla. I am not a gorilla. Good, I just saw me again.”
It’s getting late. I don’t want to be late and Edie is treating. One quick call to Jim. “Mornin, this is Ed. Say, Jim, what did you see in your mirror this morning?” Jim to Ed, “Me, of course. “Not anything else,” said Ed. ” No gorilla?” “Ed, don’t be ridiculous, we’re not apes. Only me in my mirror, a little unshaven, but no gorilla.” “Thanks, Jim,” said Ed.
Phone rings again. “Ed, where are you? It’s ten of eleven.” “Edith, I just had a strange occurrence. I’ll tell you when we chat. You would not believe it. On my way. Fifteen minutes away. Looking forward to “Reflections.”
“Hi, Edith. You made it Ed. It’s eleven fifteen. You made it just in the nick of time. Brunch ends at eleven thirty. Miss, do you have a table for two in the dining room?” Waitress to Edith, “As you can see it’s full. We do have seats at the counter. Will that do?” Edith said, “We’ll take them. Come on Ed.”
Ed to Edith, “This place is just full of mirrors. I’ve never been here. I see mirrors on the floor, mirrors on the ceiling, mirrors on the wall and a mirror right in front of us.” Edith to Ed, “Notice in the dining room, the back wall is mirrored. It gives the illusion that the dining room is twice it’s size and has twice as many customers. But it’s a mirror and not true to life.”
“Ed, look directly in front of us, we can see ourselves and the other diners at the counter. Cool, isn’t it?” Ed sees himself and Edith to his right. On the other side of Edith are four more customers. Over to his left, he sees four other patrons. Total seated at the counter are ten customers. So, there are ten images in the mirror. The counter has ten seats.
Waitress takes their brunch orders and returns with hot fresh coffee. Ed looking ahead, he sees Edith and all of the counter guests. He looks down to mix his coffee. Then raises up his cup of Columbia’s best. What he sees is alarming. He sees a gorilla holding a cup of coffee just like he. He raises his cup again and takes another sip. The gorilla mimics the same. The gorilla mirrors Ed’s every move.
Ed looks over and comments to Edith. “Do you see what I see in the mirror?” “Just us, Ed. Why do you ask?” “Just wondering, that’s all.” Peering up again, he sees himself and Edith. But to the right of Edith he sees all four guests as gorillas. “Ed, why are you looking my way?” “Oh nothing. These mirrors can create all types of illusions.”
They continue in a casual chat. While enjoy his plate and conversation, Ed looks up again for a glance in the mirror. Now, the four guests to his left look like gorillas. All eight counter patrons are gorillas and he and Edith are just the same. Ed, starts to wonder, Is Edith a gorilla? I don’t see it yet. Ed eyes scan the dining room. All he sees are gorillas at the tables and gorilla waitresses. He thinks to himself, “I’m really losing my mind. Gorillas are not people and people are not them.”
“Edith, I’ve got something to tell you. Look in the mirror, we are all gorillas, see?” “Ed, there is nothing but you and me and all these people. No gorillas.” “I think you’re right, Edith. I’ve been working too hard. My nerves are just about shot. I can’t think straight and now my eyes are on the blink. I just don’t know what to do.”
Edith to Ed, “I can arrange an appointment with my friend, Nick. He’s a great psychiatrist. There is medicine to take away these obsessions and delusions. Ed, my friend, these mirrors or any mirror are only reflections of ourselves and you may see a gorilla in your mirror. Just tell yourself, that may look like a gorilla, but it’s not me. I hear once the medicine starts to work the gorillas disappear.”
On their way out, the cashier takes their payment and they leave. Ed to Edith, “Did you notice that the cashier was a gorilla, too?” “No Ed, no. Here’s Nick’s card and make an appointment soon and don’t work so hard.”
Ed gets in his car and adjusts his rear view mirror. Guess what he sees? Ed, of course. Traveling down a busy street at an intersection. He looks over to his left and a gorilla is driving a cab. Over to his right is a police gorilla driving the squad car. Ed turns on his radio and hears “You’re listening to Gorilla 98.6 on you radio dial.”
The colors of autumn are ablaze in our forests of maples, poplars, elms and oaks. Brilliant reds, yellows and orange painted on every leaf. The panorama of color is just breathtaking. As the winds rush in, every leaf will fall and eventually drop to the ground. A season of change when cooler temperatures become frigid as winter approaches.
October 1st–Migration Day. One week away. Birds of every feather are gathering to determine whether to stay through winter or to head south to a warmer climate for rest and relaxation. No time to waste. A long flight ahead. Hundreds of miles for many and for some, a thousand mile journey.
Here is the dialogue among the flocks as they prepare themselves for their winter holiday in Florida. Destination–Winter Haven.
In lower Ontario. Canadian Joe briefs fellow geese about what they need to do to get ready for next week’s journey to the Deep South. “Eat hearty. Store up fat. In a week, we will fly south. A long flight. Over one thousand miles. Bring ample supplies of grass and seed as snacks. There won’t be any stop overs at any of the fast food establishments. As a matter of fact, next week report to McDilly’s parking lot at 6:00 am sharp for a feast on left over burgers and fries. Then up and away we go.”
“Our trip will take two days. Five hundred miles to Tallulah Gorge in Georgia. We will stay for the night in the oaks at the state park there. The next morning we will scavenge the grill areas and trash cans for any morsels of food. Then off we go to sunny Florida. Destination–Winter Haven. Our home til next March. Then our flight back home to Canada land.”
“Attention everyone! As you can feel, there is a cool nip in the air. Twenty-eight degrees expected low for tomorrow morn. Next Wednesday, October 1st, is migration day. We head south for the Winter. Niagara Nell goes on to say. We, as finches, can’t take the cold of winter. It’s more comfortable for us down south.”
“Wednesday morning, we will gather on the power line at the corner utility pole at American Way and East Falls Street. There, I will do a head count to make sure everyone is present. Must be on line by 6:00 am sharp. After attendance and a moment of prayer for a safe journey, we will swoosh down into Helva’s Kitchen lot for a pancake feast. After our fill, we will flutter up and away. Florida bound. One thousand miles away. We will fly non-stop to Winter Haven. Our sunshine home til April when we return home to Niagara Falls,” said Niagara Nell.
Buzzard’s Nest. Hoot n’ Holler, Arkansas. Buzzard Sam–“listen up! Next week is migration day. On Wednesday, October 1st, we leave for a long winter’s vacation in sunny Florida. Dude and Dudess Buzzards, remember, we buzzards need to stick together. No straying away from the flock. I know how many of us like to soar alone. Can’t do, must fly as a flock together.”
“We will meet at 6:00 am sharp at the Pizza Shed lot for a quick pizza snack. Then up and away, in unison, five hundred miles to Georgia’s Tallulah Falls State Park. We will stay the night in the pines. Try to rest, but we must take turns doing night watch. Georgia black bears do climb trees. Their favorite bird of prey–buzzard–us!” said Buzzard Sam.
“Okay, okay everyone. Good Mornin. I know we’re all excited about our flight to Florida. But, it is another five hundred miles. Let’s eat all we can from the trash cans at these shelters. We must be ready to leave in thirty minutes. Then, off we go to Florida. Our vacation home for the next five months. Then, in March, we return to our home in the Ozarks of Arkansas,” said Buzzard Sam.
“Hey, Buzzard Sam, we goin’ to Daytona Beach?” “No, too cold. Besides, there’s no spring break in Winter.” “Sam, where are we going?” “Winter Haven.” “Whars’ that Sam?” “Near Orlando.” “Great! Theme Park City. A stop over there?” “Nope! All the way to Winter Haven for some real rest and relaxation. Maybe we’ll plan a day trip to go ride the killer whales. We’ll see. But we got to get there first. Everybody ready?”
“Ready! Let’s go!” “Me too, can’t wait to sun bathe with all the babe buzzards at the lake.” “Mama Buzzard Belle retired to Winter Haven a few years back. I will give her a ring when we get there. She makes a great gator soup! All right, up and away! Remember, us buzzards must stick together. We don’t want any one of us in a buzzard stew for dinner,” said Mamie Belle.
Migration Day has come and gone. All birds have left for sunny Florida. They are just about to arrive in Winter Haven. Complimentary sunglasses for all birds at the Sunglass Station and, of course, samples of Florida orange juice for everyone. Who can go to Florida and not have juice from the sunshine tree?
Ah, Florida! Home Sweet Home! At least for a little while.
Somewhere out there.
Bigfoot, a legend or for real?
Many people talk about me as a legend. Skeptics say I’m not for real. Imposters dress up in gorilla suits and run through the woods as me. But they’re not me. Nobody like me. I should know. One even admits that he made a mold of my big foot. How could he have done it? He has never seen or met me. Now, he’s a phony! But not me. I’m for real.
Legend or for real?
There have been occasional sightings of me captured on film. I know of one for sure. It’s about a thirty-second clip of me on the hunt for a banana burger. I’m not an ape. I’m not a man. I am Bigfoot and I have big feet. However, I do have a human friend. I do know Elvis. We play hide and seek.
When you see Elvis, you may see me. When you see me, you may see Elvis. We jam together. We play rock and roll. Our last sighting was at Dandy Discount. Elvis was in Music signing autographs. I was in Lingerie trying on something called a bra. They didn’t have my size, so, I strung ten of them together to get the right fit. I really liked the shocking pink ones, but the banana yellows had more appeal.
Legend or for real?
Well, if I don’t exist, why is there so much interest in me? I’m occasionally on the six o’clock news. On slow or no news days, local television runs that thirty-second clip of me between ads. One newscast ran my clip every two minutes just to keep the viewers from changing the channel. They will even change the lead to keep interest like “Special Report-Bigfoot Found,” or “Bigfoot Sighting Today,” or “Bigfoot’s Coming Out. Stay tuned for more.”
Legend or for real?
There is one likely place you might see me. We all drive cabs in New York. There’s more than one of me. We have a fleet of cars. Always ready for a pick up. Just yell ‘Hey, Bigfoot. I need a ride.’ I’ll pick you up, but be at the curve. Must make a fast get away. Cash only and no monkey business.
A lot of people in gorilla suits, so we blend right in with the crowd. All are in the monkey business. A lot of bananas in the Big Banana. So, don’t be fooled by a banana bandit. A lot of then there too.
Legend or for real?
I know you’re looking for me. I am out here, but you will never meet me. I’m like a fugitive, always on the run. Just when you think you see me, you don’t. Elusive as a butterfly. Always lost and never found.
By the way, I have two requests before I go. Does anybody have a dollar for a banana burger? Just leave it at the Banana Burger. Corner of Monkey See Boulevard and Monkey Do Run. They know me there. I’m a regular customer at the drive through. As I told you, I do drive a cab.
Lastly, I really like my bras. I bought five pinks and five yellows. They are on layaway. I can’t pick them up. Will you do? They accept cash and Monkey Express. Leave them at Gorilla Gas. They know me there.
There’s no business like show business, but most likely, I’ll never show. See ya!
If a serious meltdown ever occurs at the nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, PA, the nearby Hershey plant in Hershey, Pennsylvania would be impacted by the nuclear explosion.
Can you imagine, the heat being so intense (5000 degrees plus), that the Hershey chocolate bars would melt down into a fiery lava type flow of bubbling chocolate running like a river for miles around?
Also, once the plant cooled down and the chocolate cooled, there would be a layer of chocolate fudge for miles around. Maybe even sweetened by sugar, for sugar does melt too. But the chocolate fudge would be so radioactive that no one could ever eat it.
Way down deep below the hardened layer of chocolate could still be a flow of molten chocolate. So hot that it may spew out like a volcano or a geyser-like “Old Faithful” thus creating a new tourists attraction for Pennsylvania.
It could be called “Geyser Hershey.” Tourists would be allowed to view the chocolate geyser and the miles of chocolate at the new “Fudge National Park.” But, the tourists would have to wear protective clothing to be able to view the radioactive chocolate bed and geyser.
Then Hershey, Pennsylvania would have to be renamed “Fudgeville, Pennsylvania.”
News alerts are reporting bubbling hot flows of chocolate everywhere. Tremors are radiating out from chocolate ground zero for hundreds of miles.
In the nation’s capitol, barricades are in place all along Pennsylvania Avenue. Bubbling chocolate is flowing along all curbs around Capitol Hill. In New York, transit officials report that torrents of chocolate are pushing through subway tubes and that chocolate has now entered the hub terminal at Grand Central Station.
Down south, the Blue Ridge Parkway has become a chocolate reservoir and a new “Chocolate Falls” has been created due to a spill over of chocolate near Asheville. Further south, in Georgia, a flash flood of chocolate moving south covering every peach, every peanut and every piece of cotton in it’s path. Every hen in the hen house is covered in chocolate and each of their eggs are chocolate covered too. Hey Florida! Coming your way. How about a chocolate covered flamingo?
Enough chocolate? I think I better stop before my chocolate imagination runs away with me. Geyser Hershey! I really like it. Now, that would really be something to see.
“Hello, Oleo, what are you making?” “I’m making buttermilk pancakes, Mrs. Butterworth. Recipe calls for two aigs, a stick of oleo, and a large cup of buttermilk.” “You mean two eggs, a stick of butter, and a large cup of buttermilk.” “I mean two aigs, a stick of oleo, and a large cup of buttermilk.” Mrs. Butterworth to Oleo, “If you’re making buttermilk pancakes, it requires more eggs, more butter, and more buttermilk. You need four eggs, two sticks of butter, and two large cups of buttermilk.” “Okay, if you’re doubling the recipe, then it’s four aigs, two sticks of oleo, and two large cups of buttermilk. That means we’re making twice as many pancakes,” said Oleo to Mrs. Butterworth. “Whatever you think, Oleo. Four aigs, two sticks of oleo, and two large cups of buttermilk. I have no idea what aigs are, but if they’re like eggs, then, they will do,” said Mrs. Butterworth.
“Where did you get this recipe, Oleo? It’s not the standard pancake recipe,” said Mrs. Butterworth. “Yes, it’s a special family recipe. It’s my Mama’s recipe. Not one like it.” “Whatever you say, Oleo. I don’t quite understand your ingredients. Rather primitive. My mother would not approve. She always follows the exact recipe and it always comes out perfect.” “I follow Mama’s recipe and it always comes out just as Mama told me,” said Oleo.
“Let me give a call to my sista. She can interpret and confirm that this is Mama’s genuine recipe. Sista, this is Oleo, can you come over and explain my buttermilk pancake recipe? On your way, good. My sista lives next door. She knows the recipe well.” “Thank you, Oleo. It’s always a good idea to have someone else, who knows the recipe well, verify that you know what you’re doing, which I think not. This is not a standard buttermilk pancake recipe,” said Mrs. Butterworth.
“Sista, good mornin’. Mrs. Butterworth, meet my sista, Jolene. This here lady is having a problem understanding Mama’s buttermilk pancake recipe. Can you explain it to her?” “Glad to, sista.” “Mrs. Buttermilk, I mean, Mrs. Butterworth, it’s a simple recipe. Let me clear up your problem. I’m sorry you can’t follow the directions, but let me see if I can make sense out of it for you. Once I explain it and show you how, any idiot can make these cakes,” said Jolene. “Oleo seems to be the one that doesn’t know how to follow directions. This recipe is a train wreck in the making. Give me a sensible explanation to your Mama’s fine recipe and it’s proper ingredients,” “Glad to do it, Mrs. Butterworth,” said Jolene.
“Now, Mrs. Butterworth, these are the main ingredients. Two aigs, a stick of oleo, and a large cup of buttermilk,” said Jolene. “It’s the same as Oleo’s recipe. Surely there must be other ingredients. I just cannot imagine these ingredients making a culinary delight,” said Mrs. Butterworth in a repulsed manner of speaking.
“Here’s the rest of the ingredients. Two cups of flour, a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of baking powder, a little salt and sweeten as you like with white sugar,” said Jolene to Mrs. Butterworth. “Well, Jolene, you, at least, know the rest of the proper ingredients. Two aigs and a stick of oleo makes the worst kind of anything,” said Mrs. Butterworth to Jolene. “Sista, Oleo, you got one ingredient wrong, only a half stick of oleo.”
“Mrs. Butterworth, here’s a mixing bowl. I’ll let you do it for yourself. Add two cups of flour, two aigs, the oleo, and buttermilk, then add the rest. Stir the batter, not too much, then you’re ready to make your pancakes,” said Jolene. “Sounds so simple and it’s easy to do. Maybe these will turn out to be pancakes after all. Maybe,” said Mrs.Butterworth, a little skeptical, yet with a positive manner of speaking. “Oh they will, you’ll see. Mama told us so and we are right,” said Oleo emphatically to Mrs. Butterworth.
“Mrs. Butterworth, have you ever tasted buttermilk? No? Well, have a taste,” said Jolene. “This is awful, spoiled milk. So bitter and so sour. There must be a substitute for it.” “Nope, that’s the way it is. It’s the left over butter cream with bacteria added to it. A tangy and sour taste. You will be surprised with the outcome. You’ll see and taste the difference,” said Jolene to Mrs. Butterworth. “I am not responsible for any sickness caused by these flat and despicable pancakes. In good conscience, I cannot do it. Mother would, certainly, not approve. She would disown me,” said Mrs. Butterworth.
“Now, here’s the pan. It’s a cast iron griddle. Been in the family for years. It was Mama’s,” said Jolene with pride. “You mean, pancakes are made on that dirty, smutty flat pan? I really don’t think these buttermilk pancakes will be pleasing to the eye. Like burnt toast, I’m sure,” said Mrs. Butterworth. “Now don’t draw any conclusions, yet. Let’s make them, then you can judge for yourself. You will be surprised with the outcome. I promise,” said Jolene. “Turn your fire on low, then slowly add your batter, a large tablespoon for each pancake. We are making large pancakes. Just like Mama told us so,” said Jolene. “Oh, I’m so nervous. Here goes. Batter on the griddle. How long do I cook them, Jolene?” said Mrs. Butterworth. “About two minutes on one side and one minute on the other because the griddle is already hot enough,” said Jolene.
“You know, Jolene, these do look like pancakes. I like what I see. Just like mother learned in culinary school. She may approve.” “Now flip them over and in one minute you will have made your first genuine buttermilk pancake. Just like Mama told us, and she is always right. You’ve done it. Have a taste. What do you think? A culinary delight?” asked Jolene. “These are more than culinary, they are delicious,” said Mrs. Butterworth.
“Now, place your cakes on this here plate. Add two pats of oleo and pour a hot warm liquid of real, artificial, maple syrup. I guess you may know something about artificial. The pancake mix out of a box just doesn’t taste like Mama’s cakes. Mama knows best,” said Oleo. “I think your Mama does know best. These are cultured and I like them,” said Mrs. Butterworth.
Any homemade recipe is always better than out of the box. Real ingredients make the difference. Whether it’s Mother or Mama, they know best, really.
Language Arts 101–The Art of Signature.
“Okay students, welcome to penmanship class. My name is Mrs. Holgaralduski.”
“What kind of name is that?” said Marvin Lee. “Sounds like ‘hoagie sandwich’ to me,” said Molly. “Mrs. Hoagie, Hoagie, Hoagie,” said Joey in a smart aleck mockery of Mrs. Holgaralduski. All of the class laugh with him, except Ginnie Mae.
“Now, I don’t need any of you making fun of my name. It’s aristocratic. I come from a very distinguished family. It’s my husband’s name and I won’t stand for this ridicule. Get it? Simple.”
Ginnie Mae said “Mrs. Holgaralduski, don’t pay any attention to these monkeys. They have no manners and should be caged. I like your name, and welcome to our academy.”
“Thank you, Ginnie Mae. I can tell, already, you come from a home where education is valued. A special welcome to you.”
“Your name, ma’am, how do you pronounce it? I really want to know,” said Patsy Ann.
“Okay, class, I’ll pronounce it and write it on the board. Now, pay attention, please. Hol-ga-ral-dus-ki. Holgaralduski. It’s Mrs. Holgaralduski. Say it with me.” Teacher and students say it together. Hol-ga-ral-dus-ki. “Wonderful, class. A good try for the first time.”
Two of the students, Marvin Lee and Joey, didn’t even try to pronounce it with the rest of the class. “Hogs are dusty,” said Marvin Lee. Joey said “It still sounds confusing to me. Lets see, ‘Mrs. Horseradish n’ tea.’ Is that better, ma’am?” Mrs. Holgaralduski responds, “No , it’s not. I can see you two are trouble. I want you, boys, up here in front of me. No more wisecracks. Get it? Simple.”
Mrs. Holgaralduski says to class, “I want all of you to know, if any student gets out of hand in this class, I have a surveillance camera, in here, recording it all. You will regret it. Each DVD, in high definition, goes to the principal every day. Get it? Simple.”
Tommy Lee to Mrs. Holgaralduski, “Do we have to take this class? I don’t want to be here.” “Me, neither,” said Joey. Sally thinking to herself… I can tell this is gonna be bor-ing. It already is. There must be a way I can get exempt from this class.
Molly, chewing her bubble gum and popping bubbles, said, “We don’t need cursive. It’s stone age. We prefer to text.”
“This class is mandatory. You children must learn cursive, at least to sign your signatures. Students, you should have learned cursive in second grade. All of you are preteens, now. You must learn it. That’s why you are here. Get it? Simple.”
“Mrs. Holgaralski, can I show you something?” “Of course, Ben. You’re in seat number seven.” “See, this is a cell phone. We text on here.” “I have a cell phone, but have never texted. I didn’t know my phone had that capability.” Ben continues with his instructions on how to text a message. “Just press messaging. Key in to whom. Then type your message on the screen. For example, ‘I see you are late for class.’ We abbreviate, shorten the message with letters and symbols. Here’s your message in text. ‘I c u r late 4 class.’ Press send and it is transmitted to your contact. Get it? Simple.”
Mrs. Holgaralduski thinking to herself…These kids have learned a new way to communicate. Maybe they don’t need cursive at all. I will take a different approach with them.
“Class, you have taught me something. There are many new ways of communicating these days. New technology is great, but a text is not a signature. You must at least learn the letters in your name and learn to write them in cursive. You will be signing your names for the rest of your lives. Any important document will need to be signed by you. A signature is necessary.” “We have electronic signatures now, don’t need hand written signatures,” said Molly. “What is an electronic signature, Molly?”
“Sometimes it’s called an e-signature. It’s a secret code, that only you know, that’s encrypted, hidden, sent along with your documents. The receiver enters a code to authenticate that it’s your signature connected to the documents you sent. Then it opens the document. That’s it. Get it? Simple.”
“Class, I have a homework assignment for you. It’s very simple and it will be your only assignment for the entire semester. I want each of you to bring a letter, a note, anything with a signature on it. I prefer that it be someone you know. Your mom or dad, or someone else you know that is special to you. Bring two, so that we can compare them. See you all next week.”
“Good morning, class. Greet me, please. All attempt to say it correctly. “Good morning, Mrs. Holga.” “That’s great. Only part of it, but next week, I want you to add more. Next week, we will add ral to Holga to make it Holgaral. That’s Hol-ga-ral. Practice, please.”
“Now, to cursive. What is cursive? Does anyone know?” No answers, except Ginnie Mae. “Mrs. Holgaralduski, it’s circular letters. Most of the curvature letters have a curve to them.” “Correct, Ginnie Mae. You are advanced in your language skills. The rest of the class can learn from you. Thank you, Ginnie Mae.”
“Here are a couple of examples of cursive signatures. They are famous names in American history. This one is John Hancock. A signer of the Declaration of Independence. He wrote his signature large enough so that the British crown would see that he, too, was declaring his independence from England. Notice how well his signature is written. It’s in cursive, but it has style. It is his mark of distinction.”
“The next signature is a US president. Does anyone recognize it? It’s Abraham Lincoln. Notice that his name is written with less flair than John Hancock. Both men were important, but Mr. Lincoln’s signature, I feel, denotes that he was a humble and an unpretentious man. Both are famous signatures that have been seen by many for years.”
“Now, your signatures. Place your documents on top of your desks. I will come around to look at them. Yes, indeed, these signatures are unique and have style. We will look at some of them. Who wants to go first?” “Me, first!” said Marie. “Go ahead, Marie, show us what you have.” “These three signatures are my dad’s. The first one is normal, the way he first learned cursive. You can read the letters. The last two are scribble scratch. He’s a doctor. This is the way he always signs his name today, always scribbled.” “You know, class, there are many ways to sign your name. As you learn to write your signature in cursive, you may develop your own style of writing your name later. Although Marie’s dad’s signature, she calls scribble scratch, doesn’t show any cursive letters, it’s how he signs his name. It’s his mark of distinction. It’s the style of his signature.”
“Who’s next?” “I have one Mrs. Holga. But it’s in German, and it’s my grandfather’s.” “Tell us his name, Umberto.” “It’s Franz Zeifenheimmer.” “Language doesn’t matter. Show us what you have with you.” “It’s only two letters, an “f” and a “z.” Mrs. Holgaralduski points out, “Two letters are fine. You have a lower case f and a lower case z. Both have loops. A very fine signature. I see the other letter you have, the signature is the same. This is his signature. It has style to it. It’s his mark of distinction. ”
“One last one. Okay, Ginnie Mae, I see you are eager to share. ‘I have two. My dad’s signature. Wealther Worth. He signs it with two coiled w’s. See, it’s the same here. He makes lots of money. I want my signature to be just like his.'” Mrs. Holgaralduski said to Ginnie Mae. “Your signature will not be his, but yours. It will be your mark of distinction.”
“Here’s my signature. Voncile Holgaralduski. I sign it with a symbol, for the name is so long. See, it’s a V that looks like a heart. It is my unique signature. It has style and it is my mark of distinction.”
Last week of class. “Okay class, greet me with my full name.” Students confidently reply, “Good morning, Mrs. Holgaral..duski.” You all did it. Now each one of you show the class your cursive signature. Molly proudly shows her signature. “Molly Brown.” “Very good, Molly.” “Thank you , Mrs. Holgaralduski.”
“Ben, please share your signature with the class.” “My full name is Benjamin Beemer. My signature has been shortened. I only use the two capital B’s. Capital B arch B.” “I like the arch between the B’s. It’s like a bridge connecting the two. I like it Ben. It’s short and brief and is creative. It’s your mark of distinction.”
“Okay, Willie, you’re up next.” “I’m ashamed of it. I wrote it like my gramp. He couldn’t read or write. This is it. Just a ‘w.'” “But, Willie, it has style and the tail of the w crosses back across the w. I think there are two letters. A “w” and a “t.” What’s your gramp’s last name?” “Tanner, ma’am. Willie Tanner.” “That’s his signature. A great signature and his mark of distinction.”
“Class, we have all learned that our signatures have style and are our marks of distinction. It doesn’t matter how you sign it. It is your style of writing it. You all have done well and have passed this class. Pick up your certificates as you leave, but you must sign your name, as best you can, in cursive to get it.”
Signatures are your marks of distinction. They all have a style to them. A signature is an expression of you on paper. It does reveal something about you. So be proud of it.
If you follow your heart, you could make your dreams come true.
What is your dream? “I want to be Cinderella. I’m waiting for my Prince Charming.” Voice of Reason–a little grandiose, don’t you think? Think again.
What is your dream? “I want that Harley in the window. I’m an ‘Easy Rider’ man. Only costs forty grand.” Voice of Reason–a little grandiose, don’t you think? Think again.
What is your dream? “My fantasy home in the Blue Ridge. Just got to have it, but I have no money. There must be a way!” Voice of Reason–a little grandiose, don’t you think? Think again.
What is your dream? “Winning the two-hundred million ‘Power Lotto.’ It will provide my every need.” Voice of Reason–a little grandiose, don’t you think? Think again.
What is your dream? “Well, I really don’t expect too much. Why even try? My dream will never come true. I really want to be happy, but I’m alone. I need a friend.”
Voice of Reason–that’s the best dream I’ve heard thus far. What can you do to find a friend? “I guess I can be a friend. Heard that works.”
Voice of Reason–do you have someone in mind? “Yes, but I just don’t know, it’s too late for me.”
Voice of Reason–be confident. You can do it. Congratulations on your new friendship. It’s easier than you think.
Voice of Reason–Cinderella, is your dream possible? “Yes, Prince Charming will come to me.” Voice of Reason–who is your prince? “Dave is his name. We mingled at a party. He seemed interested, but never called.”
Voice of Reason–have you thought about calling him? “Yes, but I just don’t know. He’ll never call.” Voice of Reason–if you want him, then call him.
Voice of Reason–Easy Rider, still thinking about that Harley? “Yup, but I can’t afford it and it’s too much for me to handle. I have money to buy a scooter.” Voice of Reason–then do it and always wear a helmet.
Voice of Reason–Blue Ridge dreamer, still thinking about your fantasy home? “I have no money, but I can buy a time share there. Twice a year will do me good.” Voice of Reason–good idea. Go for it, but be cautious. There are timeshares with nothing there. See it first before you sign.
Voice of Reason–got your two-hundred million in your pocket? “No, but I do have a twenty. I lost, but I can buy more tickets. Just feel the win.” Voice of Reason–what do you need to meet your needs?
“I just need an extra thousand a month to pay my bills, pay my mortgage and save a thousand dollars. A part-time job will do.” Voice of Reason–there’s your thousand. A dream come true.
It’s good to follow your heart. When something feels right, most likely it is right. But, if it don’t feel right, think before you act. It may not be right for you
Follow your heart. Go for your dreams. Reach for your star. You can make your dreams come true. But think about it first.
“If you don’t write your own story, somebody else will write it for you.”
“Just be yourself. No need for pretense. Write your own story. If they write your story, will it be about them or you? Be yourself and your story will be about you,” said the fish market drifter. “Who are you? You seem to be a very wise man. How did you know that I wanted to write a story, one about me,” said the somewhat startled, surprised young man. “I know a lot about life. Been there, done that. I know a lot about writing, that’s what I do. I’m a ghostwriter.” “Are you a ghost? What is a ghostwriter?”
“A ghostwriter? Let’s see. Someone hidden, not visible, not known, writing a story for you. Why do you ask such a question young man?” “I have a draft of a story I have written and I think it isn’t very good. I don’t write very well. I need someone to polish it up. Make it a worthwhile read. It needs to be inviting. Like the neon sign behind you,” said young Mark. “Your name, bright young man?” “I’m Mark. Mark Twain.” “Mark Twain? Do you know who you are? Your style of writing was a new genre of literature. A little rough around the edges, but your books were, and still are, some of the most read books to this day,” said the ghostwriter beneath the neon light.
“How do you know that about me? I never knew it. I want to write an engaging and provocative story. One that makes people think. Imaginative and adventurous. A ghostwriter, I hear, can bring a story to life. A ghost never reveals himself. Remains anonymous. One told me on the telephone that she could write me a story that will shine. As bright as that neon light behind you. You see it?” “Yes, I see it. It’s bright and sends a message that there is something of value in there. ‘We have crabs’ must be in demand here. You know this is a fish market? People come here for the best and select. You already have that gift with your writing. Thought you ought to know,” said the gravely voiced old man. “I really do? I already have what I need to write my story?” said young Mark, and said, “I’m only a diamond in the rough.” “That’s what makes your writing so special.”
“How do you know me?” “All ghostwriters know about you. They try to copy your style, but have never been able to do it. Who are you and where do you come from?” “Maybe I’m someone from your past. Maybe you.”
Sonny’s Grocery & Market
Jeter Campbell, Produce Manager Conversation with himself and anybody who will listen to him.
Jeter spends much of his time tending to his vegetables and fruits on the produce aisle. He looks at everyone to ensure they are fresh and displayed attractively for his customers. He is well known in the area and has had loyal customers for years.
He is best known for his watermelons. Jeter sez: “the best watermelon in the world come from Dothan, Alabama. The sweetest and juiciest watermelon around.”
Jeter spends most of his time at his produce table in the stock room. There he prepares his fruits and vegetables. He trims bananas and onions. Selects grapes of all kinds. Smells his peaches to see if they are sweet. Separates and cleans his fresh turnips and greens. Makes sure his lettuce is crisp and that his vine ripe tomatoes are red and plump and fresh.
It’s the first of May and summer is approaching. Watermelons are in demand all summer long. Jeter is expecting his first delivery of melons this afternoon. Every year he orders all types of watermelons in all sizes and shapes and variety. And yes, they all come from Dothan, Alabama.
Jeter stores his watermelons in his produce cage. It is a complete iron cage. It allows ventilation but is used to secure his prize crop of melons. The only access to the cage is by key. The cage has a release bar inside to open the gate should it shut close behind him. This is the only way out. He is working in and out of the cage today preparing a place to set his first 100 melons of the season. He sells 50 per week.
While carrying wooden pallets inside the cage, Jeter trips. He drops the pallets and falls to his knees. He attempts to pull himself up by grabbing the bars of the iron cage. Instead, he pulls on the iron gate and slams it shut on himself. He locked himself inside the produce cage. Release bar won’t budge. Locked inside and he can’t get out. No way out till help arrives.
Over the intercom he hears: “We need some help up front.” Again, “We need some help up front.” “That’s Laverne. She must be alone and flooded with customers. By the way, where is the help needed up front? He hears running and jumping and yelling. Hears a ball bouncing on the pavement. They’re shootin’ hoops. It’s Billy and Joey. The ones needed up front. But I need some help back here. They run off and are nowhere to be found. Laverne continues to wait. Jeter continues to wait.
“Since I’m locked in produce, might as well make the best of it. I know I’ll get out, but not just yet. You know, every year I sing my watermelon song. I composed it several years ago. I sing it for the customers every year accompanied by my banjo. It’s a really nice tune. I see my banjo case. It’s in the cage! Hooray! It’s singin’ time. Here goes it.”
Best watermelon in the world…come from…Dothan…Alabama. Best watermelon in the world…come from…Dothan…Alabama. Best watermelon in the world…come from…Dothan…Alabama.
Watermelon Dothan! Watermelon Dothan! Watermelon Dothan! Strum-strum.
Over intercom: “We need some help up front!”
Customers on the produce aisle. “Where’s Jete?” “But, where’s the watermelon?” Jeter hears his customers but is too proud to yell for help. Jete thinking to himself, Can’t have them see me locked in the produce cage. Just can’t. They will laugh and laugh and laugh. Where’s some help when you need’em? The truck is almost here. Got to get out!
Jete, this is the voice of your writer. You know–Frank! Ha, Ha, Ha! Feeling cagey? Don’t worry Jete. I’ll get you out. I’ll write you out. Soon! I’ll write for help.
Over intercom: “We need some help up front!”
Billy and Joey reappear at the front of the store. They run in and say to Laverne: Where’s Jeter? The watermelon truck is here. They’re waiting at the dock for Jeter. We’re gonna find him. They can’t wait! Laverne: They can just wait. I need you boys right here, right now. Don’t go anywhere!
Jeter hears some sound and movement outside the dock door. He thinks out loud. They’re here. Soon I’ll be set free. But, not just yet. Since Jeter no show, the driver and helper step across the street to Rooter’s Diner. They’re served a tray of sandwiches along with 2 large mugs of root beer. Driver says: “The best mater sandwich I’ve had in a long time.” “Let’s have another round of belly wash!” They take a long break and return to the store 2 hours later.
The two enter the store and ask Laverne : “Where’s Jeter?” “Need to unload these melons.” A melodious sound of music and voice are heard from the stock room. Driver says: “I hear a banjo!” Helper: “We know who it is. It’s Jeter.” “Pickin n’ Grinnin!”
As they approach the stock room they hear a voice singing and a banjo strumming. They open the door and see Jeter behind bars just a singing his watermelon tune. They laugh and laugh and laugh. Jeter says: “Can you let me out?” “Please.” Jeter is set free. He leaves the stock room with banjo in hand. Out to the produce aisle and greets all customers there.
You all know the tune. Sing it with me.
Best watermelon in the world…come from…Dothan…Alabama. Best watermelon in the world…come from…Dothan…Alabama. Best watermelon in the world…come from…Dothan…Alabama.
Watermelon Dothan! Watermelon Dothan! Watermelon Dothan! Strum-strum.
Sunrise at Sanibel Island, Florida
The surf gently rolls ashore. Foamy and cool across your feet. Looking for shells. They’re here somewhere. Always here and roll in with the tide. Very peaceful at this time of day . A new day to enjoy!
A treasure hunt for treasures from the sea. Shells from the sea. Sent from Neptune himself. The discovery of them is just awesome.
“C’mon Mom, get up. It’s almost sunrise. We’re ready to go to the beach,” said Joey in a lackluster tone of voice. “Time to hunt for shells, while the tide is out. We’re so excited, can’t we go now? Later will be too late. C’mon Mom, ” said Molly. Both say “Mom, you promised. Now get up.”
“Kids, just let me sleep. A long drive from Jersey yesterday and all last night. Maybe later today at sunset. When the tide goes out again, there will be plenty of shells. Now, I’ve got to sleep.” Shaking Mom’s shoulder, “You promised, you promised,” said Molly and Joey. “Ask Gram, she’s always up before sunrise. Check with her.” Mom turns on her side and pulls the sheet over her head. She positions her head comfortably on pillow. “Later kids, later.”
“Grand mom, you’re up. Will you take us to the beach to hunt sea shells?” said Molly. “Later will be too late. The beach is just over the dune. See, there’s a board walk out. A quick and easy way to the beach. Will you, Gram, will you?” said Joey in an excited and anticipatory tone of voice.
“I will, dears. Let me finish my coffee and danish, then we’ll go out.” “Thanks, Gram,” said Joey and Molly. “Let’s get in our suits and grab our pails. Hooray, hooray,” said Molly to Joey. Joey gestures thumbs up. Joey jumps into his blue colored trunks. A fiery red-haired, freckled-face boy of eight. Curly blonde Molly, six of age, with glistening blue eyes dons her two-piece, pink ruffled bikini with pink-sparkled shades to match. “All right! Gram is so cool and nice. Hope she’s ready soon,” said Molly. “I’m ready. Are you ready?” said Joey to Molly. “I am ready.” said gleefully by Molly with anticipation.
“Ready, kids? In you swim suits? Have your pails? One more thing, I’ll need my sea foam pad. It makes it comfortable for me to sit and watch the sunrise.” “We’re ready, Gram,” said Joey and Molly. “Let’s go,” said Gram as she gathers her straw hat, shades and foam pad. “Can Beemer go, Gram?” said Joey. “He hasn’t had his walk yet, please.” “Okay, come on, Beem. Get his leash. That’s a good boy,” said Gram. “This way, Gram, to the board walk. The beach is just over the dune,” said Joey as he hurriedly leads the way.
While on the board walk, Gram said “You know, it’s so beautiful here. The dunes, the sea oats, the sand, the surf and the sun.” Molly and Joey both start to run ahead to the end of the walk. “Down here, Gram, down here,” said Joey. Gram steps down the walk to the sand. The kids run ahead. “What about Beemer? Take him, too. He’ll enjoy his wade and run in the surf. Take him, Joey,” said Gram as she looks for the right spot on the sand.
“Gram, are you gonna come out, too?” said Molly. “Not yet, just go on out and start your hunt. Stay nearby in sight of me. I’ll be right here. Joey, here. Stick this cane in the sand. You see, it has two pennants. One red and the other orange. You will be able to locate me from a distance. I’ll be right here on my green foam pad. Must start my morning meditation. I already see the light of dawn. Let me sit and you go play.”
Gram places her sea foam pad on the sand. She positions herself in a lotus position. She sits straight up, with both legs crossed. Arms are relaxed and resting comfortably on her knees. The palms of her hands are open. She is now in the lotus position She is ready to meditate. The sunlight beams her way. With a glow on her face, she closes her eyes. She inhales, then exhales. She inhales, then exhales. She begins to chant her mantra.
“Hum, hum, aah. Hum, hum, aah. Bathe me in your light, bathe me in your peace, bathe me in your love, peace and harmony.” Inhales, then exhales. “Bathe me in your light, bathe me in your peace, bathe me in your love, peace and harmony.” Gram folds her hands and raises them above her head. “Refresh my heart and soul. Your energy, I receive.” Finally with arms across her chest, “I embrace your light, I embrace your peace, I embrace your love, peace and harmony.”
“Gram, Gram, look, see, I got shells,” said Molly excitedly about her new found treasure. “Indeed, you do, my child. Let’s see. You’ve got a small conch, a fanned scallop. Lightning welk is one of my favorites. And this special treasure, a sand dollar. See, it is broken. They are very fragile. When you find a whole one, handle with care and save it as a collectible.”
“Gram, are you ready to come out to shore with us?” said Molly. “Not yet, honey. Still in meditation. I’ll be out in about twenty minutes.” “Gram, here’s Beemer. He ran in and out of the water. I think he’s ready for a rest. Can he stay with you for awhile?” said Joey. “Of course. Beemer and I can sun bathe together. Sit here, Beemer. Sit here.”
Gram’s back in lotus position. Beemer, on the mat beside her, looks as Gram begins her chant. He seems amused by the sounds she makes and continues to watch her as she meditates.
“Hum, hum, aah. Hmm, hmm, aah.” Inhales, then exhales. “Bathe me in your light, bathe me in your peace, bathe me in your love, peace and harmony. Gram raise her arms up above her head with folded hands. “Refresh my heart and soul. Your energy I receive.” Again, with arms across her chest. “I embrace your light, I embrace your peace, I embrace your love, peace and harmony.”
Beemer moves around in front of Gram. He looks up at her. Their eyes connect and Gram senses that Beemer wants to join in on her song of day. Gram said to Beemer “You want to receive the light of day?” Beemer barks with his paws out stretched in front of him. Gram, again, asked Beemer “Bathe you in the light? “Ruff!” “Bathe you in the peace?” “Ruff, ruff!” “Bathe you in the love?” “Ruff, ruff, ruff!” “Do you want peace and harmony?” “Ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff!” “Beemer, let me position you so you, too, can receive the light of day.”
Gram is again in lotus position. Beemer, a large golden retriever, is lying on his back with paws out stretched, and his eyes are shut. “Beemer, you look comfortable, let’s begin. Repeat after me. “Bathe me in your light.” Beemer replies “Arf, arf, woof.” “Bathe me in your peace.” “Arf, arf, arf, woof.” “Bathe me in your love.” “Arf, arf, woof, woof.” “Peace and harmony.” “Woof, woof, arf, arf. Then he pants, “Hah-hah, ha-hah.”
Gram and Beemer continue to receive the light and energy from the sun. Nearly done, and here comes Joey and Molly. “Gram, you never came out. The tide has come in and no more shells to be found,” said Molly in a disappointed tone of voice.
“Gram, what’s wrong with Beemer? Did something happen to him? Do we need to call the vet? Never seen him like this before. It’s like he’s in some sort of trance,” said Joey with concern. “Beemer is fine. He is still transcending. He’s in a meditative state. He will come out of it soon.” “Now, Gram, what did you do to Beemer? Slip him one of your herbal pills?” said Joey. “”Oh no, he has fallen into a slumber from the energy of the sun. He is okay.”
“Gram, what do you think of our treasures from the sea? said Molly. “You have so many and such a variety. Neptune has blessed you. He has given you gifts from his sea. Enjoy and always treasure them. Shells actually are relics from the sea. Every one of them held life at one time. New shells, again, will bear new life. That’s the cycle of sea life. Neptune is the guardian of the sea.”
Beemer starts to move his head back and forth ; and he yawns then begins to pant. He rises up slowly and sits up looking at the risen sun. Now, Beemer is fully alert and wagging his tail. “Beemer, you have come back to life. I was afraid you would never come out of it.” said Joey. Molly, dripping wet and full of sand, gives Beemer a big hug and a kiss. “Let’s go, kids, it’s going to be a delightful day.” They hold hands while carrying their pails, and Beemer leads the way in peace and harmony.
Circling around above the bay, like a dance of ballet. They soar, they dive, as they glide in the flow of the wind.
Dancers have a common interest, they like to dance. Apart and together. Whatever of dance, it is movement. An expression of self and spirit. But there is something unique about a ballet dancer. It’s a love of grace and beauty, and discipline. Theatrical, yet very athletic. They practice their art to perfection.
What do the seagulls have in common with dance, the ballet? It’s movement. But they are birds in flight. They have the ability to glide effortlessly across the sky. Again, it’s movement, a disciplined coordinated dance of sorts. A free expression of self and spirit. They can fly together or apart. Something graceful about them, but it comes naturally with them. A movement, yes a ballet in flight.
“Welcome to ‘Ballet for the Birds.’ All of you have the ability to dance, to move with ease and grace. I will take you to new heights in flight. You will learn how to dance with class. I have observed many birds in flight, but seagulls can perform with grace and beauty. Naturally, you have the ability to move together in coordinated moves. In ballet, our moves are graceful, yet disciplined. A ballerina performs for art alone, but for a seagull, it’s for survival. By the end of this class, all of you will be able to perform a ballet in the sky. We can practice and perfect our art. As you can see, I am a seagull, too. By the way, I’m Petra, a prima ballerina of flight. You’re learning from the very best. You’ll see.”
“Ms. Petra, I don’t know anything about ballet, but I’m eager to learn,” said Angelina. “By the end of this class, you may become the prima ballerina in the sky. I’m so glad you’re eager to learn,” said Petra.
“Lady, I mean Ms. Petra, I’m Francois. Looking for a gull friend. Maybe one in here.” “You are so debonair. Just like a Frenchman, looking for love. We’re here to learn ballet first, maybe a girlfriend for you later,” said Petra with a wink of her eye.
“I’m Sofia, always wanted to dance in the sky. This seems to be the place for me.” “A very wise decision. You will dance in the sky with grace,” said Petra with a smile.
“May I speak? I’m Mikhail. Ballet is my forte.” “Oh my, with a name like that you are a cavalier of ballet. I look forward to dancing with you,” said Petra in an excited tone of voice with much interest in Mikhail.”
“I need just one more ballerina, how about you Mademoiselle?” said Petra. “I’m awfully shy. I was told to come here to build confidence,” said Marie with a blush of her cheeks. I will spend time with you ’til you feel comfortable with dance. Ballet is an art form. Think ‘I am a ballerina’ and you are, just need to practice. I’ll make sure of it,” said Petra in a soft and encouraging voice.
“I need a man of confidence, you look self assured. Sir, how about you?” said Petra. “You got the wrong man. All I know how to do is circle around for fish. This is not me. I doubt I can do it, but I will try,” said Peter. “A positive attitude is what it takes to start. You already know how to circle for fish. I will teach you to circle in dance. That’s exactly what this class is all about, learning to circle in dance. No need to doubt yourself, you can do it,” said Petra with her head held high.
“Okay, now we have an ensemble of ballet. Are you ready to dance? Even haphazardly?” said laughingly by Petra. “We will have fun. I will show you how. I’ll see you at ten at the Academy tomorrow at mid morning. Be here at ten a.m.” said Petra.
“Good morning, all. I see you all are here. You are courageous and you will do well. Just follow my lead,” said Petra. “Any comments before we go up? Be positive, I’m listening.”
“I’m eager to learn,” said Angelina. “I will learn to dance first, but still eyeing for a gull friend,” said Francois. “Up, up and away. I’m ready to dance in the sky. So beautifully blue in the beam of the sun,” said Sofia. “I will lead. I’m the danseur of the ballet,” said Mikhail with insistence. “I know, but you must dance with the rest. All equally able. I know you want to be treated special, and you are, but you must dance together with the ensemble,” said Petra in an affectionate way. Marie said, “I’m a ballerina.” “You know, a circle of dance may be better than eyeing for fish, but I don’t think so. I must keep my eyes on you,” said Peter in a confident manner.
“Everyone sounds great. Upbeat and ready to fly. This morning we will do only one thing. We will fly up high and form a circle of dance. Just follow me and I will show you how. You will enjoy. All seagulls like to fly. Let’s go up. Follow me,” said Petra with exuberant energy up to the sky. All follow right behind. They reach the height set by Petra and she instructs them on how to fly in a circle.
“Here we are, just hover in place. I will demonstrate a circle for you, just watch,” said Petra. She flies around and around and around. “That’s how you do it. Now I want each of you to follow me. I will call your names.”
“Peter, behind me. Don’t take your eyes off of me.” “Angelina, behind Peter.” “Francois, follow behind Angelina. Think dance, dance, dance.” “Sofia, follow behind Francois.” “Mademoiselle Marie, get behind Sofia. Think ‘I’m a ballerina.’ That’s all you need to do.” “My cavalier, Mikhail, behind Marie.” Now we have formed a circle. Circle around, and around, and around. A circle of dance. I will flutter and observe. Wonderful. A dance in the sky for sure. Three more rounds and we’ll fly down. One, two, and three. Marvelous!”
A slow descent to the ground. “This is truly amazing. All of you have done well. You followed my lead. You know how to dance in the sky. A dance of seagulls in perfect form. Tomorrow, here at ten a.m. We will try a little more to add to our dance. It’s called ‘drop down, rise up’ See you, my ensemble of ballet.” Petra departs and so do the rest.
The next morning. Another beautiful day. Clear blue sky with puffs of clouds and a brilliant morning sun. “Good morning, all. I see you all are here. Feeling more confident? I’m sure you do. Let’s rise up now to form a circle of dance in the sky. Same line up, follow me. Up, up and away!” All up in air and follow Petra’s commands. “Follow me, the same order. Peter, Angelina, Francois, Sofia, Marie and Mikhail. Circle, circle, circle around. Again. Circle, circle, circle around. One more time. Circle, circle, circle around.”
All birds move out of circle hovering in front of Petra.”This is our new move. It’s called ‘drop down, rise up.’ I need two other gulls to help me demonstrate. Mikhail and Francois. I’m in the middle. Okay, men, hover in place. I will hover with you. Stay in place and I will drop down and rise up. Watch everyone. I drop down and rise up back in formation with the guys. Now Mikhail, you’re in the middle. Drop down, rise up. Drop down, rise up. Bravo! Francois, in the middle, please. Drop down, rise up. Drop down, rise up. Very good to both of you. Now, everyone let’s form a circle again. Okay guys, drop down, rise up. Girls, drop down, rise up. Repeat. Very good. Repeat. Now, back in place as a circle. Marvelous! That’s it for today. A great performance.” All fly down to the ground.
Petra to all, “I am so proud. Perfect formation. A dance in the sky. One last move tomorrow. See you at ten,” said Petra. All leave with smiles, heads held high, and leave with a sense of confidence.
“Good morning, again. A beautiful morning to learn and perform. We are going to do an advanced move of ballet. It’s called ‘pirouette.’ It means to whirl around. A spin of the body. Let’s go up and I will demonstrate. I need to make one slight adjustment in order. I need a guy, then a girl. A guy, then a girl. A guy, then a girl. Let’s fly up and form a circle. Okay, follow me to circle around. In this order. Peter, Angelina, Francois, Sofia, Mikhail and lastly, Marie. Watch me. I will pirouette, roll over to the left, and return to formation with my head up. Watch again. Roll over to the left and back to formation with my head up. Let’s all try it together. Left wing down and around to the top. Left wing down and around to the top. Great. Now alternate moves. Girls remain in place in the circle. Ready. Guys, left wing down and around to the top. Roll over, left wing down and around to the top. Now guys remain in circle formation. Girls, wings down to the left and around to the top with your heads up. Left wing down and around to the top. We have just done a ballet in the sky. A dance of seagulls. See you down at earth.”
Everyone is excited. Chatter and hugs and cheers. “All hail to the queen. Our prima ballerina. Hooray, hooray, hooray!” “Here’s your dance certificates. Also, there is a coupon for the next advanced class. Fifty percent off. Next week, ten a.m. at the Academy.”
Petra thinking to herself. They’ve all done well. A little sloppy, but I couldn’t tell them that. New recruits for the academy. I can’t do this for nothing. Let’s see, six times fifty is three hundred dollars. Not bad for a one hour session.
Why beg? Because I am hungry. Because I have no money. Because I have no home. Because I have no friends. Because I am hungry. Because I’m hungry!
“Lady, can you help me? I am hungry.” “No time for you. Find your own food.”
“Sir, I just need a few morsels of food. Can you help me? “Here. Have a half of sandwich. It’s salami, you will like it.”
“Lady, I need food. I have nothing to eat.” “If you took a bath, you could get a job. Then you could buy your own food.”
“Boys, I like your skateboards. I had one once. Can you spare some chips and a burger?” “Yeah man. Have some chips and a burger. We always get enough to eat.”
“Kind sir, could you buy me a meal at the diner?” “That’s asking too much. You’re a beggar. I don’t want to be seen with you.”
“Lady, may I have half of your pastrami on rye with everything on it?” “Well, since you know a good sandwich, and for someone who has good taste, this one’s for you.”
“Nice looking men you are. I see you are dressed in designer, tailored fit suits. I particularly like the double breasted charcoal jacket and slacks, and the light chalk blue pinstriped brown suit. You are wearing designer shoes. Classic cotton shirts. Silk ties are my favorites. They denote a debonair man. Your ties are quite dashing. Wearing expensive timepieces and designer eyewear. And you look happy and successful.”
“How do you know so much about us? You have class and very good taste.” “I was once like you.” “I don’t understand, can you explain?” “I was once like you. I used to be a businessman at one time. Actually, I operated a fine men’s clothing store. I was a tailor. I dressed men in the best of clothes and accessories. ”
“Where were you a tailor?” “Here in town in the garden district. I’m Herb Bergenstein. I was once somebody and now I am nothing. I was a noted tailor at one time. Anyhow, I fell on hard times. I lost my business and I lost my self worth. I was once like you.”
“Man. Hey guys, this man needs help. He was once like us.” The other man, “This man has class. He knows a lot about us.” The third man, “Sir, you are the man! How about joining us for lunch? Like steak? How about a New York strip sauteed with onions and mushrooms and covered with the finest of steak sauce? The Gentlemen’s Club for you.” “All I need is a burger and fries. Also, I’d like a thick malted shake.”
“Herb, buddy. Are you hungry?” said Jake. “Of course I am. I wouldn’t be begging otherwise.” “You like smorgasbord, a food buffet? It’s all you can eat,” said Mel. “I think the ‘Pig Out Place’ would be good for him,” said Zell. “Yeah, the ‘Pig Out Place’ sounds good to me,” said Herb. “Let’s go to the ‘Pig Out Place.’ Need to hurry before all the other hungry men get there,” said Jake. All laugh.
“Before we go, Herb, we’re going to stop by our shop to get you cleaned up. Here we are, ‘The Finely Dressed Man,’ this is our business. Let’s go in, get you a shower and cleaned up. You’re about my size, Herb, you can wear my tee and jeans,” said Mel. “We’re ready, Mel. You and Herb ready to go pig out? We are all dressed in our pig out tee shirts,” said Jake. “See Herb, the pig’s head is on the front of the shirt and the back is his rump and it’s curly pink tail. Oink, oink!” said Zell.
“We have arrived, the ‘The Pig Out Place.’ The place to pig out. Let’s get in before the herd. It will be fresh and ready just for you, Herb,” said Zell.
“Wait til you see the spread of food. If you’re hungry, this is the place. I pig out on the baked chicken, and just about every vegetable. My grand finale is the cherry cobbler. Yum, yum. And I have a frozen soda,” said Mel.
“What can I choose? I don’t know where to start,” said Herb. “You can choose anything you want. This is the ‘Pig Out Place.’ Have at it and eat plenty. We start right here with the vegetables,” said Zell.
Jake to Herb, “I could eat everything in here. I worked out hard at the gym this morning, I need to refuel. I pig out on baked salmon, the broccoli casserole, and a teriyaki salad. I can just taste it now. And my dessert, apple pie a la mode. I think I’ll move ahead. See you guys at the table.” “Oh no, you’re last in line. Herb is first in line,” said Mel followed by Zell.
Zell, a southern boy. “I’m southern grown. I like everything out of the frying pan. Fried chicken, fried catfish, fried and savory pork chops, and fried okra. My favorite dessert is banana pudding with plenty of vanilla wafers. And doused with vanilla. Mmm, Mmm. Let me at it,” said Zell.
“They have everything. Fresh vegetables. I see eight of them. Creamed corn, buttered corn, green limas, stewed tomatoes, asparagus spears, broccoli casserole, peas and carrots, and my favorite, artichoke hearts. This is a bounty for a beggar, ” said Herb with an awesome expression.
“Go ahead, Herb, the meats are next. Fried chicken, sirloin tips, baked chicken, sizzling pork chops, honey glazed ham, and steak grilled kabobs of steak, onions, and tomatoes. That one is hard to pass up,” said Jake.
“I’ll have one of each. Look so appetizing. A beggar’s feast,” said Herb. “I thought you were kosher,” said Mel. ” When you’re a hungry man like me, everything is kosher!” said Herb. All laugh.
“There’s every type of salad, Herb. My favorite is the tossed salad of spinach and tomatoes with oil and vinegar,” said Mel. “My favorite is the Waldorf salad. Diced red apples, chopped celery and walnuts with a thin coating of mayonnaise and served cold. There it is,” said Herb with glee. “This is really a bounty for a beggar,” said Herb again.
“Herb, we’re near the end of the line. Select the beverage of your choice, and they do have shakes. You can make your own dream shake. Plenty of natural ice cream and malt to add. See you at table number seven,” said Jake.
“Fellas, awfully nice of you to recognize me on the street. Most ignore me. They think I’m a bum. Useless and worthless. What was it that made you help me?” said Herb.
Jake to Herb, “You said, you were once like us. It made me think. This man has class and is a gentleman. My kind of man.” “Our type of man,” said Mel and followed by Zell. “Did I say anything of interest?” said Herb inquiring more from these men of class and style.
Mel to Herb, “You said you were once like me and that you were a tailor. That really made me take notice.” Zell to Herb, “You said you once dressed men in the best of clothes. Then you said that you were Herb Bergenstein. I could not believe it. I thought, what happened to Herb? I knew then that we had to help you up and restore your dignity and self-worth,” said Zell in a very caring tone of voice.
“Mr. Bergenstein, I know my business and I know you knew your business. We are exactly alike. You know the ups and downs about the business, I’m a tailor, too. Then I thought, he knows about the ups and downs about life. That you are and it is a pleasure to meet you, sir,” said Mel in a warm and friendly manner.
“Herb, I’m a tailor, too. It is my craft. I really like fitting men in a well-fitted suit,” said Jake. “I sell the clothes to our customers. I pay close attention to what they want and make suggestions to what will make them look their very best, said Zell.
“I’m the proprietor of the business. I own the business,” said Mel. “We all work there and have managed to get along all these years. I don’t know how, but we like what we do,” said Zell laughing with a smile. “Oh my, you really know about me. What can I say?’ said Herb.
“Herb, I think you still have something to contribute to life. I believe that tailor is still in you. We could use a fashion consultant there. Maybe I’ll even make you the ‘Master Tailor.’ What do you guys think?” said Mel. “Well, since you are a tailor, you’re in. You got my vote of confidence. Just don’t show me up. I like to think that I’m the best tailor in town,” said Jake with a smile and with a jeering smile at Mel. “Well, Zell, do you think Herb knows how to sell clothes?” said Mel. “If he is Herb Bergenstein, and I believe you are, you would be a perfect fit in our store. A fine fashion consultant for ‘The Finely Dressed Man.'”
Jake, Zell, and Mel to Herb, “Will you join us?” “You made me feel like a man again. I do know the business, and yes I would enjoy coming aboard,” said Herb.
Mel to Herb, “Welcome home, Herb. You’re just like us and we’re just like you. And we like to eat, and so do you.” All laugh including Herb. “You will never be a beggar again,” said Mel.
“You mean we will pig out every day?” said Herb with a laugh and a smile. “Only on Friday, Herb, only on ‘Pig Out Friday.’ We try to eat in moderation for the rest of the week,” said Jake.
“Sound like a good fit to me. I was hungry, now I am fed. I got purpose in my life again. You gave me hope. Good friends that care. Thank you for restoring my life,” said Herb.
Mel to Herb, “You are a tailor of a man. You will fit in well here. Just our style. See you on Monday. By the way, we have a place for you. It’s upstairs above our business. We all live up there, but for you a store floor private suite. Welcome home and welcome back to life.”
Chocolatier Mountain, Tennessee Elevation 6200 feet.
One morning at Eula’s Breakfast Stop.
“Fellas, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. I’m away from home for nearly twelve hours a day,” said Jedd. “Me too, Jedd, almost never home,” said Tom. And Jerry Lee “Never see my kids. Just a quick kiss on Rose’s cheek, then out the door I go. That’s my day. That’s my life!”
“Hello boys, what can I getcha? Coffee, coffee, coffee???” “No coffee this mornin’, Eula. Just a cup of your hot steamed chocolate, that’s all,” said Tom. “Right back with the coffee, chocolate and some complimentary hot buttered biscuits,” said Eula.
Jedd to Tom and Jerry “An eighty-four mile round trip to Baconton, every day, does a lot of wear and tear on the body and soul. There must be somethin’ else, closer to home that we can do. Gotta be,” said Jedd with his thumb supporting his chin. “Here ya go, fellas. Hot brews and biscuits too. Enjoy!” said Eula.
Huddled together around a table, wearing their torn flannel shirts, Jedd, Tom and Jerry discuss what their futures may hold for them. Jedd said, “It’s been ten years since we closed the mine. No more coal needed, now that we’re nuclear. I just cannot take another ten year commute.” “Not me and no more,” said Tom and Jerry.
“Anyone thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?” said Jedd. “I think I know what you’re thinkin’, Jedd. I’m thinkin’ it too,” said Tom. Jerry to Jedd and Tom, “I think I’m thinkin’ the same thing, but thinkin’ about a refill right now.” Jedd, “If I think we’re all thinkin’ the same thing, we may be on to somethin’.” Jedd said further, “Here comes Eula, let’s ask her what she thinks we’re thinkin’. She will know, she’s got intuition.”
“Here we go, refill, refill, refill and biscuits too,” said Eula. Jedd to Eula, “We’ve been thinkin’ about somethin’ and wonder if you know what we’re thinkin’.” Eula to the three mountain men, “How am I suppose to know? I don’t read minds, but I do sense somethin’. I think you guys want somethin’ closer to home. Maybe thinkin’ about openin’ up the mine shaft again. I may be wrong, but I sense it. My intermission tells me. I just know it.”
“Well, Eula Mae, you have kinda’ read my mind,” said Jedd and “Maybe there is somethin’ else in there we could mine, even more precious than gold. This may be our big find. First, we found coal, then we found gold, then we found coal again. Then the mine closed. That’s been ten years and nothin’ since then. A closed mine shaft forever. Well, I think it’s time for a grand re-opening. Let’s just see what’s in there. Are you guys game?” “I’m in, Jedd. Me too,” said Tom and Jerry. “Me three!” said Eula Mae. Jedd to all, “Let’s break her open this Saturday morn. Meet here at Eula’s at seven a.m. We will go from here.”
Saturday morning at Eula’s Breakfast Stop.
“Mornin, guys.” “Mornin’, Jedd” said Tom. “Mornin fellas,” said Jerry Lee. “Come on in, boys, breakfast is awaitin’.” “Mornin, Eula Mae” all three say together. “Have I got a breakfast for you. Bacon and eggs, red-eye gravy on hot buttered biscuits, grits is creamy and waffles on the griddle. All made especially for you on this day of discovery. Now, have a seat, coffee is on it’s way and biscuits too.” “Eula, you shouldn’t have,” said Jedd. “Eula, you shouldn’t have,” said Tom. “Eula, you shouldn’t have,” said Jerry. “Now, fellas, I know you all know I should have and I have done it just for you. All you can eat and all you can drink. Just relax and enjoy. Here’s your coffee and here’s your biscuits. The rest is on it’s way.”
“Mmm, this is good. Great coffee and these biscuits are heaven sent and already buttered. Made just for us by Eula Mae. She’s a mighty fine lady,” said Jedd. “Yup, she is,” said Tom and Jerry. “Let’s toast our toast to Eula Mae.” Toast are toasted and Jerry loses his jelly. “Where did my jelly go?” “Who knows, Jerry? Here, I even buttered and jellied your toast for you. Now, try again.” “Jedd, I can butter my own toast.” “But, Jerry, you need help with the jelly, bud. With the jelly!” Jedd and Tom laughed out loud and applied more butter and jelly to the conversation. “Jerry, do you need someone to spoon feed your grits? I’ll yell for help, if you need it,” said Jedd waving his spoon. Tom to Jerry, “Do you need a bib? It will keep your jelly, your grits, your eggs from staining that nice raggedy shirt of yours. I’ll yell for a bib from Eula.” “Okay guys, you’ve had your fun on me. Just let me be.”
“Anybody heard of the Legend of the Chocolatier?” said Jedd with an engaging tone of voice. “Never, Jedd, never,” said Tom. “What’s the legend, Jedd? Sounds like chocolate, but maybe not,” said Jerry. “Well, at one time, this valley was an Indian settlement. They called themselves the ‘Chocolatiers’ named for a legend about the mountain. They were an agricultural tribe. They farmed this land and grew all types of fruit trees and even coffee trees. This rich mountain soil produced the best apples, the best pears, the best figs, the best plums and the best coffee beans found nowhere else. All natural. Organic, as they would say today. We could restore these orchards and make part of our living off of them. Just thinkin’. You guys thinkin’?” “We’re thinkin’ too, Jedd,” said Tom and Jerry.
“Back to the legend,” said Jedd. “It is believed that the cocoa trees up along the mountain side were planted in rows by the Chocolatiers. We can still see that pattern today. They chanted, in their Indian language, of course, about the legend of the mountain. Here’s the chant as I know it. ‘Sweet, sweet chocolate, within the mountain. Smell the chocolate, taste sweet life.’ That’s it. This chant was said every year at harvest time. They believed that the cocoa tree was eternal. They believed that chocolate was food for the soul and nourished the body for a long healthy life.”
Jedd goes on to say, “One interesting thing about these cocoa trees is that they are out of place, out of their climate. Most of these trees are usually grown in a warmer tropical terrain and not along a mountainside at a 6200 hundred feet elevation. Just unheard of and as far as we know, these trees have been here for hundreds of years. The tree reaches maturity at fifty years and needs to be replanted. But nature does the work. Every twenty five years, the trees begin to drop seedlings and the next generation of trees begin to grow. This cycle has been observed for years and it is always on time. A cycle of life, as they believed. An eternal cycle of life.”
“Okay, fellas come out of the trance. You’ve been here for two hours and it’s half past ten. Still gonna’ open her up?” “You bet, Eula, let’s go guys. But before we leave the lot, we want to check our gear. We want to make sure we have everything we need to safely enter the mine, be safe while we’re there and safely get out of there. We can’t leave anything to chance. We all know and remember the hazards and the losses at the mine. Let’s never forget the fate of our fellow miners. I believe their spirits are still there. I hope they’re there to guide us through. Just a comforting thought. But, if we want to know what’s there, we need to get there. So, let’s go. Thanks, Eula Mae, it’s been great and you fellas?” “Thank you, Eula, it has been great,” said Tom. “We are well fed and in great spirits all because of you. Thank you, Eula Mae,” said Jerry as they left out from the door. “Be safe and bring back your find. Show me first, then tell the world!” said Eula Mae.
In Eula’s parking lot. “Fellas, let’s check our gear. Flashlights, headlights, batteries, goggles, plenty of face masks, jackets, tools, air supply, food supply, radios, first aid kit and any other gear, guys. Remember, safety first and we all stay together. It’s been ten years and we don’t know what it’s like in there. We must use caution at all time. We all want to go in there together and we all want to come out together.” A quick prayer by Tom, “dear Lord, guide our way and protect us all.” All three say “Amen!”
Jerry Lee to Jedd and Tom “Here’s the mountain, but where’s the shaft?” “See all that underbrush and the overgrowth of brush and vines? I think the shaft entrance is under there,” said Jedd and he went on to say “Let’s take a look guys. Again, safety first. It’s all boarded up and who knows the condition of the wood. Don’t need it on top of anyone of us.” Tom said, “here’s some tools to remove the vine and brush.” “Tom, start your cutting,” said Jedd. “Jerry, remove the cut vines and I will remove any other brush,” said Jedd.
Two hours later. “Tom, do you see anything yet?” said Jedd. “I do see somethin’. Yes, it is the shaft door and it is gray, rotten and covered with dirt. The boards are separated and it looks like it’s about to collapse due to the weight upon it.” “Boys, this is going to be slow going, but we don’t want anything on top of us. Get your iron tools guys and let’s remove one board at a time,” Jedd said in a cautious tone of voice. “Tom and Jerry, pull the first board off.” “It’s off, Jedd,” said Jerry. Jedd to Tom and Jerry, “I see there are three boards left, the others have caved in.” “Ready, Tom? You and I will get this one. Pull slowly and we got it,” Jedd said with relief. “Now one more board. It’s very loose, guys. Let’s all pull it off. Carefully, pull, pull, pull and there it goes down into the shaft. Done!”
“I feel a cold draft from inside. It’s not damp, but very dry,” said Tom. Jedd said “We must be even more careful, one accidental move could move that coal like an avalanche on top of us. Not ready to be buried alive.” “Let’s check out gear,” said Jedd. “I’m set, Jedd,” said Tom and “me too with hard hat, lights, air supply and tools,” said Jerry.
Tom enters the mine first. He is carrying a large light and is very alert looking for any possible hazards. “I see the first supports and they appear secure,” said Tom. “Good,” said Jedd. Let move in farther. Jerry, stay right behind me and we all need to beam our lights. As we used to say, “it’s coal dark in here.” Tom to Jedd and Jerry, I see the second support. Let me check it. It’s secure. We can move ahead. But, I need you guys right behind me. This is like stepping into a black hole.” “We’re with you, Tom,” said Jerry and Jedd in reassuring tones of voice. All three are scared but can’t let their fear control them. Only thinking about the next move. One step at a time. One careful step at a time.
Jedd said “Only two more supports and we will be at the back of the mine. Careful, guys, careful.” Tom said in apprehensive voice “I see the third support and it looks great. Almost to it. I’m here. It’s secure. Come ahead, fellas, carefully. Shine your lights all around and straight this way.
It is very chilly in here and I even see ice formations on these supports. I wonder what’s ahead.” Jedd said “I think I know, but I won’t say, I’ve had a hunch about it all along.” Jerry, I think I know what you’re thinkin’, Jedd and I’m thinkin’ it, too. Are you thinkin’ it too, Tom?” “Think so, come along guys, we’re almost there. We’re at the third support, see the ice?” said Tom. “Icicles and they are large. There is something in here that needs very cold air and I really think I know what it is, but won’t say, just have a hunch,” said Jedd laughingly,” but then turned his voice to a serious tone, saying “but this is no time to laugh. Just be cautious.”
“Guys, I’m at the fourth support. It’s so cold that I could hardly pull my glove off of it. Shine your lights this way. I think I see the back wall. We need all the light we can get. I see it. I see coal, but smell’s like coffee. It has a very sweet scent. Almost like sugar, but all I see is coal. “Tom, I know what it is. It has somethin’ to do with the Indian legend,” said Jedd. Jedd to Jerry, “bring your small shovel and I want you to gently dig into the coal wall. Tom, you do it too. I think we are about to find somethin’ extraordinary.”
“Hey, Jedd, shine your light right here. I’ve made it through to somethin’ else and it ain’t coal. It’s brown and it sparkles. It is very hard and is very cold, but it smells so sweet. “Sweet, sweet chocolate. Could it be?” said Tom. Jedd moves in closer and said “Looks like, smells like, taste like and sweet as sugar.”
Jedd to Tom and Jerry, “Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?” “I know for sure what you’re thinkin’, Jedd,” said Tom. “I think I’m thinkin’ the same thing too,” said Jerry. Jedd with an excited voice said “If we’re all thinkin’ the same thing, I think we should say it. On the count of three let’s say what we’ve been thinkin’. One, two, chocolate!”
Jedd starts the Chocolatier chant–“Sweet, sweet chocolate, within the mountain. Smell the chocolate, taste sweet life.” “What a find. More precious than gold. A natural wonder and a legend solved. One that is real to life. Now, what happens to the legend if the truth is known?” said Tom. Jedd said to both of his friends “The legend is no longer a legend. There really is value to a legend. It allows us to wonder, to ponder, to speculate, to imagine, to question and to seek the truth. Now that the truth is known, what do we do?”
“Eula Mae said to tell her first, then tell the world,” said Jerry. Tom to Jedd and Jerry, “Can you imagine what would happen to our lives, what would happen to our town and what would happen to our way of life, if the world knows?” “The world would come to town and our lives would be changed forever. Do we want that here? I say no and don’t tell anyone about out find.” Jedd said, “It just wouldn’t be right. If I have to spend the next ten years doing an eighty-four mile round trip to Baconton for work, I will do it.” “I feel the same way. I will find a way to spend more time with my kids and have more than a kiss with Rose,” said Jerry.
Jedd to his friends “Fellas, what do we want to do? Tell the world or keep the legend?” “Keep the legend,” said Tom. Jerry said, “We can’t do this to our people, to our town. Let’s keep the legend.” “That makes three of us. Keep the legend” said Jedd and he went on to say “I know Eula Mae is expecting us to tell her about our big find. We’ll just say Nothing there of value. We closed the mine for good. The value is in the legend and let’s keep it that way.”
Jedd to Tom and Jerry, “Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?” “I’m thinkin’ what you’re thinkin’, Jedd,” said Tom. “Me too, Jedd, I’m thinkin’ the same thing.” Jedd says to Tom and Jerry. ” Let’s do it. We know it. In memory of and honor to the Chocolatiers.”
“Sweet, sweet chocolate within the mountain. Smell the chocolate, taste sweet life.”
In the night, many think about a lot of things. Things from the day. Interactions with people of all sorts of personalities. People that make them glad and those that make them mad. Work undone and work to be done. The responsibilities of living. Food, shelter, clothing and more. Stretching a dollar from paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. You are about to meet a couple trying to live on less. Let’s see what they can do.
“Marge, we have a lot of bills to pay. There are extra unexpected expenses. What are we going to do? We can’t live without food. We can’t live without a roof over our heads. We must have clothes to wear or can we do without them?” “Stan, we need clothes. We can go to the thrift store and spend less money for brand names. Even the well to do shop there. They’re trying to save a dollar or two, as well. Now, what else can we do?”
“We could live in a tent or a cardboard efficiency,” said Stan laughingly. “Stan we have a family, you know. We need space. That won’t work, but it’s worth consideration. Oh, we could refinance with the mortgage company to get our payment down.” “Marge, we can’t do that, we rent! I wonder if tents are on sale at the discount store. We could look behind shopping centers for boxes. Many of them are high quality corrugated cardboard. We could get extra large boxes and attach a couple of them together to make it a duplex and rent out the other side. What do you think?” said Stan about to roll on the floor laughing. “We really are feeling desperate, but there is a solution. You got one, Stan?” “Yes, it’s called a budget which we have never done. I will devise one, but you must agree to it.” “Only if I’m part of the plan,” said Marge. “So, let’s do it,” said Stan.
“Marge, grab a pencil and a pad of paper. Let’s get down to business and think seriously about what we must have to live. I’ll start. I must have my easy chair and sports channel.” “You mean you must keep your wide screen TV and sports channel and cable! I think that’s asking too much. You could just watch the regular channels with rabbit ears. There’s sports on there, but not the sports channel.” “Who uses rabbit ears anymore and where are we going to find them?” said Stan in an irritated sounding voice. “Mom has them and has used them for many years. I’m sure your Uncle Joe uses them and has an extra set of them just for you,” said Marge in a counter solution which Stan won’t consider at all.
Marge to Stan, “Joey must have his video games. He enjoys playing his two favorites, ‘Cave Enchantment’ and ‘Cage Fighters.’ Lisa must have her smart phone so she can text with her friends. So, those are a given, must haves.” “Another option, Marge dear, we could negotiate with the landlord a rent payment twice per month. That will give us more money for other things that we really need,” said Stan, in a positive tone of voice, as a solution to their shortage of money.
“Well, Stan, what do you absolutely need to meet your basic needs?” said Marge with pencil in hand about to note what Stan says he really needs. “I do need my easy chair and my massage twice per week with the chiropractor to treat my rheumatism.” Marge thinking to herself…Stan doesn’t need the chiropractor. It’s too expensive. We could save one-hundred dollars per week if I do the massage for him. I’ll say it in a pampering voice to have him reconsider.
“Stan, you know, I could do the massages for you. Even better than the chiropractor. I’ll give you a deep massage and you will feel like a new man.” “Can you relieve my pressure points to relieve my stress?” “Yes I can and do more. You will feel ecstasy.” “Tell me more, my sweetheart,” said Stan with excitement in his eyes and a grin of delight. “I can’t tell you, but you will feel the difference,” said Marge in a flirtatious manner with a wink.
Marge to Stan, “I need something for me.” “Really, why would you need anything? You got all of your pots n’ pans and all the latest kitchen gadgets to perform your art of cooking . And you have your used romance novels that you can read again to capture your fantasy of romance in your life. I just can’t imagine you needing anything more,” said Stan while twirling the egg beaters with his hand and his fascination with their utility. “Okay, Marge, what do you really need?” “This is what you want me to say. I want, I need a new vacuum cleaner and a new dust rag to wipe down everything, including you. What else would a woman need?” said Marge with a sarcastic smirk at Stan for minimizing her importance.
“Margie, sounds like we’re doing collective bargaining, rather than simply considering our personal needs and the needs of the family. This is harder to do than I thought. Let’s take a break and come back to it later, actually tomorrow. At least we have started a dialogue.” “Let’s stop for now. We need a break from each other. I’ll escape into one of my used romance novels. My lover awaits me,” said Margie with a trance like expression and a smile. “My easy chair awaits me. There’s always something on the sports channel to capture my interest. I really don’t want rabbit ears. I better enjoy cable while I got it,” said Stan with a sigh. Kiss, kiss. Hug, hug. Marge to Stan, “See you later, alligator.” Stan to Marge, “Afterwhile, crocodile.”
One week later.
“Good morning, Stan. Fresh coffee and pastry?” “Mornin’, Marge. Yes, indeed. I need coffee so I can awaken my senses!” said Stan with a grin. “What sense do you have, Stan?” said Marge with a light chuckle. “Well, I had sense enough to marry you, dear heart. You have taken good care of me. What man, in his right mind, would want to give up the life of leisure?” said Stan in a delightful voice. “What woman, in her right mind, would make such an error in judgement. But I guess I’m stuck with you. I did vow to stay with you for better or worse. Most of the time it’s better, but sometimes I wonder,” said Marge in a playful mood and a roll of her eyes.
“Marge, are you ready to look at what we can live without?” said Stan in a soft and gentle voice. “Stan, I know the Prospero’s do have more than us. You know, they were just like us ten years ago. I don’t know what happened to them. They live a life in recluse, now. They live directly across the street from us, but since their open house ten years ago, which they charged us and the neighbors ten dollars each to attend, we’ve had no contact with them at all since then.”
“Marge, we’ve found out who they really are, nothing like us in any way. We don’t need them and it’s obvious they don’t need us,” said Stan in a matter of fact way. “Well, Stan, I will forget about keeping up with them. They have all the worldly goods, but we have love,” said Marge with a smile and a hug to Stan. “Yes, we have love. Let’s go to the dining room table and talk in a civil manner to each other about what we can do to live on less,” said Stan as he rises from his kitchen chair.
“Stan, I’ve been thinking, I don’t want to give up anything. I do not want a budget to control me,” said Marge honestly to Stan. “It’s not to control you, but we have to live on less. I don’t want to give up anything, either.” “Let’s brainstorm to see what we can do to generate some more income so we can maintain the lifestyle we enjoy. I have a great idea that may be feasible for us and we won’t have to do extra work,” said Marge. “Let’s hear your idea. I never thought about generating income and not having to labor for it.”
“Let’s see, you know Mom lives alone. She needs company. She needs family. She needs us. We could help her out and she could help us out,” said Marge with a little excitement. “What do you mean about Mom? I hope it’s not what I’m thinking. That would be a nightmare.” “Well, I mean, we could take on boarders. Mom could come live with us. Isn’t that a great idea?” “Just what I feared. There is no way I will have her board with us. She will control everything, even us, even me.” “Let me finish, Stan. Mom could pay a little rent for a room with us.” “We don’t need her rent money, but maybe we could use her, I mean her money. As long as I have space from her. She could bunk with you. I could bunk with my TV clicker in my easy chair and enjoy the sports channel in the den.”
“I have one more thing that will put a plus in her column, she gets a monthly pension check which is guaranteed. That would help us a lot. She gets a hefty check and I’m sure she would share it with us.” “We’ll need half of it. That may break her. All I need from her is three-hundred dollars, if you could work it out with her, that would be great. Before she moves in, we’ll need a deposit on her room of three-hundred dollars.” “I can work that out with her, Stan. If you agree, I will phone her today about the benefits of living with us.” “I agree. She’s in. Let me write it down on our budget, I mean supplemental income sheet. Let’s see. Mom–three-hundred dollars. I like it. Great idea.”
“Stan, who might you suggest to board with us?” “I don’t know of anyone in the family who could help us out.” “Stan, there is someone else who would pay to live with us, your Uncle Joe. He is retired from the military and he gets a guaranteed monthly pension. One plus in his column, he knows how to cook. He was a chef while he was in the Navy. He could prepare some great meals for us. After the service, he got trained to be a gourmet chef. He does fondue, can sizzle the best steaks, and grill fresh fish. His specialty are desserts. If I remember, he makes a delicious butter pound cake with rich cream cheese frosting. Since he will be the cook, we must give him a discount on living with us. He could pay us two-hundred dollars a month to board and he will purchase all the groceries out of his pocket. We pay twice per month nearly five-hundred dollars for food. He will save us one-thousand dollars per month on groceries. I could call him this afternoon, if that’s okay with you.” “Yes, please call him. I’m his favorite nephew. Let’s see. Uncle Joe–twelve-hundred dollars. I’m liking your idea even more. That is a total supplemental income of fifteen-hundred dollars per month. That’s five-hundred dollars more than we need to maintain our standard of living. Yee-haw, we’re in the money!”
“If we could make room for one more boarder, we could possibly add five-hundred dollars to our surplus of five-hundred dollars, what do you think, Stan?” “Who Marge would be willing to pay us that sum of money just for a small room?” “Well, I know a very nice couple that I met at the market. They would be the perfect fit. Both are students and are gone most of the time.” “What are their names, Marge? “Jake and Molly. They could rent the small guest room on the other side of the house and have kitchen privileges. There is one more boarder with them. They have a young toddler named Teddy. A really cute kid.” “Well, that may be too many boarders. We need our space, but we need their money. They’re in, as long as they stay on their side of the house and contain Teddy within their living quarters.” “I have their number, I will call them today after Mom and Uncle Joe.”
Joe to Margie, “how, I mean, where will we house all of them here? Let me make that decision. Jake and Molly in the guest room. Uncle Joe in the renovated attic and Mom in the basement. That’ll work. Everybody will have their own space.” “Stan, we can’t put Mom in the basement. It’s too damp and isolated for her. Let’s put Jake and Molly and their Teddy in the basement. It has a small kitchenette and a small storage area which they could use as a place to bunk. Also an outside door, so we would never see them. Uncle Joe in the attic will work out fine.”
“We have done well creating a workable plan to supplement our income. The extra thousand dollars, we could bank it.” “Why bank it, Stan, we could live far more than less. I would like to have a coiffure and a manicure every two weeks.” “I would like to have a haircut and join the football game pool at work. It’s all for leisure, but I do need to ante up fifty dollars for upcoming games each week. That’s only two-hundred dollars per month.” “I could join the women’s bowling league which meets twice a week. That’ll cost only fifty dollars a week.” “We’re still within budget, I mean our money management plan.”
“Stan, you know Joey really needs to join some team with his friends. Let’s sign him up for the boy’s soccer league. That’ll be one hundred dollars. We could enroll Lisa in a dance class. Many of her friends are already in class. Maybe she will become a prima ballerina one day. Dance classes can be expensive, but this will help build her self esteem.”
“Marge, it sounds like we’re focusing on what we like again, rather than what we really need. It will defeat our plan and we could sink back into debt.” “Stan, we can afford to live a little better since we have more money.” Stan to Marge, “we don’t have the money yet, but I’m willing to take a risk to live a little better, we do deserve it.” “We forgot about someone in the family who has some real needs. Milky Way needs a flea dip and grooming at least once a month and he likes his filet mignon.” “No more, Margie. Milky Way doesn’t need a filet mignon anymore. Only gravy nuggets from now on. We can’t spend anymore to stay within our means.” “Let’s stick to our plan,” said Stan. “The plan, yes, but we just need a little more to live. That’s not asking too much. A little far more than less, but not less than more.”
The Chicken Coop Cafe “We Got All The Chickens Here. Even You!”
Ester and Edson Bok enter the waiting area of the Chicken Coop. Ester is dressed in a brown feathered chicken vest with a side cap upon her head with a red crown crest from front to back. She is wearing large circular red framed glasses with a very thick lens. She is short and plump just like a hen. Edson is a slimmed built man dressed in a yellow tee with the image of a red rooster across it’s front. He is wearing tattered blue jeans.
“Hello, welcome to The Chicken Coop. How many in your party?” said Trudy. “There are three of us. A table by the window, please,” said Ester as she raises up her head, looks to the left, then to the right, and blinks her eyes. “All I see are the two of you. Where is the third in your party?” said Trudy with a puzzled stare at Ester. “Oh, she’s right here. You don’t see her, but she is here,” said Ester as she blurts out a “bok, bok, bok.” “I see you have a leash. One of those stiff plastic ones with a collar at it’s end. Are you bringing a pet in here? Pets are not allowed by order of the health department,” said emphatically by Trudy.
“Well, no one can see it. So, it really doesn’t matter. It’s my imaginary chicken, a perfect place for her to dine. She’s a guest just like us. We are family, aren’t we Edson?” “Yes, we are family,” as he looks at the hostess with a blushed red face. Quietly he asked, “Can you please seat us now? Over there by the window.” “Okay, follow me party of three,” said Trudy as she rolls her eyes, then looks back at the leash to ensure there’s no chicken there. “Your server will be right with you.”
“I’m your server, Thelma. What may I get for you to drink?” Edson said, “Just water for me.” “And you, ma’am, a beverage for you?” “A Bok-A-Cola, please.” Server to Ester, “I don’t believe we have that, but we do have a cola available, it’s called ‘Fizzy Fizz.” Ester cackles a laugh then said, “It’s the same one. I just like to call it that since this is a chicken coop.” “Okay, I’ll be right back. Here’s our menu for you to browse. Let me move this chair to give you more space.” Ester to server, “please, no, there’s another guest seated there.” Thelma replys, “really? I don’t see anyone.” “Yes, she’s there, but you can’t see her. She’s my imaginary chicken.” “Okay, imaginary chicken, what will you have to drink?” “Oh, she doesn’t speak. I have to order for her. She will have just a plain glass of water.” “I’ll be right back, and here’s a menu for the imaginary chicken to peruse.” “That won’t be necessary, she can’t read because she can’t see. I will order for her.”
“I love this side by the window. A view of the chicken yard shaded by a large oak tree. I seen some hens pecking at the mash and drinking from a water basin in the center of the yard. Don’t you see them, Edson?” “Ester, there are no hens there, only a bird bath in a courtyard shaded by a tree.” “Aha, a bird bath. A chicken is a bird, so they must be there somewhere.” “Ester, there are no chickens there.” “Okay, I’ll just pretend they are there. All imaginary chickens.”
“There it is again. The chicken, don’t you see it?” said Ester. “I don’t see a chicken. It must be invisible,” said Edson. “You have to imagine to see it. Ed, you do know what a chicken looks like, don’t you? Listen. It’s tapping it’s beak on the window pane.” “Tap, tap, tap.” “Don’t you hear it?” as she taps her nail on the lower pane. “I don’t hear anything but the sound of you tapping your nail on the window pane,” said Edson as he laughs with a cackle. Ester thinking to herself, I think there’s something wrong with Edson. He doesn’t see or hear the chicken. But a chicken has no brain. Maybe he doesn’t either. I’m getting a little worried about him.
“Imagination is thinking of something that’s only inside your mind. Let’s see, think yo-yo. What do you see?” said Ester hoping for Edson to see something that isn’t there. “I seen a clear yellow yo-yo with someone spinning it. Maybe it’s me. Actually, I like orange. I will make it a clear orange with sparkles of gold glitter inside. I can see it,” said Ed with excitement. “I think you’re getting it. You can see it inside your mind. It’s imagination. I may not see it, but you do. It’s invisible to me. Your description of it makes me see it in my mind. You do have imagination,” said Ester with delight. “Just maybe I can imagine. Never thought about seeing things in my mind that really don’t exist, but with my imagination they are real to me,” said Edson with a ponder of thought.
“Some of the most creative people have a vivid imagination. An artist can imagine a scene or person to paint. Artists identify with their art because it is an expression of themselves. Usually an artist paints with passion and feeling. Those who view it can interpret it for what they see and what they feel. That’s what’s cool about art,” said Ester.
“Another way to imagine is to compose music. Many famous composers, like Handel and Bach, were able, with imagination, to write a score of music inspired by the divine, I think. Such a gift. Music is the creation of sound that touches the soul. Sound can generate emotion in those who hear it. Musicians compose with passion and feeling.”
Thelma the server returns with their meals. “All chicken meals, as you requested. Chicken a la King for you, sir. Mrs Bok, Chicken Alfredo for you, and an imaginary bowl of chicken broth for your imaginary chicken. Would you like a soup spoon to feed your chicken?” Ester to server, “Oh yes, please.” Edson to Ester, “An absolutely king of a chicken.” “My Chicken Alfredo is so delightful,” said Ester. And to the imaginary chicken, Ester said, “I see you are enjoying your soup. Here’s another spoonful. Imaginary chicken responds, “bok, bok, bok.”
Ester said to lady at table across from them. “So glad you have your imaginary chicken with you. Don’t you see it? ” Patron responds, ” No I don’t and you are doodles. Now, please mind your business and leave me alone.” Ester responds, “Well, be that way, you have no imagination. But the chicken is there.” “Harvey, let’s leave. This woman is cackling crazy.”
Edson thinking to himself, Ester is starting to get out of control. I got to get her out of here before it gets worse. If we stay longer, she will disrupt the whole place. Let’s see if she can get control of herself. “Edson, it’s happening. I feel the urge to be a chicken. I must do it,”said Ester in a panic. Ester drops down from her chair to the floor. While on her knees, she begins to bob her head up and down like a hen picking up feed. She blurts out a “cluck, cluck, cluck.” She begins to move across the floor of the cafe picking up feed. She lets out a couple of cackles, then continues to bob her head down to the floor. She raises up her head, she blinks her eyes, then looks to the left, then to the right. She cackles again.
Manager aproaches Edson and said, “She has disrupted the dining of everyone here. Please get control of her.” Edson walks across the room, bends down and speaks to Ester, “The doctor said to stay in the present. You can get control of these impulses.” Ester continues with her disruptive behavior. Edson said to Ester, “We need to leave. You are out of control.” He grabs Ester’s arm and pulls her up to stand. “Now, let’s go.” He begins to escort Ester out the door. She said to Edson, “Where is my leash? Where is my imaginary chicken?” “It’s all in your head. All in your head.”
En route to Miami, Florida
“I think it’s great that we can get away for awhile just to bask in the Florida sun. Looking forward to seeing ‘The Coconuts’ again. It’s been a long time,” said Jeb, as he adjusted his shades and ball cap while driving their nineteen-fifty-seven, red Dodge finned convertible. “I know, dear, a long time ago. It will be great to see them again, and the coconuts, too. I mean the Miami coconuts,” said Millie as she sipped her cream soda through her red striped straw. “Let’s see, Miami, two-hundred forty eight miles. We’re almost there,” said Jeb. Both laughed. And the red Dodge finned convertible moved on down the road.
“Welcome aboard flight 2020 en route to Miami, non-stop. My name is Ethel. We will be lifting off momentarily, but first let me point out some things you need to know. There is one restroom located in the back of the plane. Must wait your turn. Your baggage must be secured to the twenty-four wall hangers. Twelve on each side. There are twenty-four passengers. Twelve seated on each side, please. We need to make sure that all the cargo is evenly loaded. We don’t need this plane to tip off balance. An important safety item. Parachutes are to be worn at all times. Pass these out please. If we have to bail out for emergency reasons, you must jump and pull your cord as soon as you fall out of the plane. If you can’t or hesitate, step out of the way so those eager to leave may go first. No baggage may go with you. This is a six hour flight to Miami. Every hour, two passengers may walk through the plane to the restroom. Must wait your turn. Snacks will be passed out every two hours. One soda and one marshmallow pie. Let me remind you that no children or pets are allowed on this flight. A senior flight only. A one way trip. Now relax and enjoy your ride.”
“Miss Stewardess, I have a question. Do we get water on this flight? I get awfully thirsty and need to keep myself hydrated,” said elderly Zell. “Sir, we all need water. You were supposed to bring your own. Each passenger does get a canteen of water, but you must drink it sparingly. There is no more and this is a six hour flight, remember? Any other complaints, I mean concerns?” “I’m prone to having panic attacks. I’ve never flown before. What can you do to help me, kind lady?” “I can’t do nothin’, lady. I’m not a licensed medical professional. Are you too afraid to fly? Then, I suggest you leave the plane now and consider other modes of transportation.” “I’m going to complain about how you treated me.” “Please do, kind lady. I get at least one complaint per flight. What did you expect for a discounted flight at nineteen dollars and ninety nine cents? Thank you for choosing Budget Cargo,” said flight attendant, Ethel, wearing her military fatigues, parachute, oxygen supply tank, cat-eyed sunglasses and her coral pink colored ball cap with “Miami Coconuts” embroidered in yellow across it’s front and two green palms with coconuts balanced on each side.
“Hey, Ethel, who do you work for? You don’t look like a stewardess to me,” said the Mad Hatter. “I don’t look like a clown either. Just go back through the looking glass. I get a joker on here every once in awhile. Actually, I work for ‘Miami Coconuts.’ I’m your tour guide once we hit the ground. I mean, safely land in Miami. You will be treated well. You think I like this job? I do it for nothing, but it’s how I pick up business. Soda and a marshmallow pie, anyone? Oh yes, there are three choices, chocolate, vanilla, and coconut. You will noticed a sticker on the bottom of the coconut pie. It’s a coupon for a free bag of salt water taffy with a purchase of twenty-five dollars or more at ‘Miami Coconuts’ souvenir shop. One coupon per customer only.”
“It’s been forty-five years since we’ve last seen ‘The Coconuts.’ They just live in a tropical oasis. And the beautiful palms that line the road to their place, just magnificent. I can just see them now, as they were then. I sent a note to them a month ago about our anticipated trip to Miami and how much we’d love to see them again. Coco penned me back with a gracious welcome. She said not to worry about lodging, as we can stay with them. I wonder what they have been doing since we saw them last? They’ll ask us the same question, Jeb. What can we tell them?” “Just tell them the truth. We are retired and spend special times together walking ‘Yogi’ around the block and entering him in dog competition. You know, once, someone, a neighbor said that ‘Yogi’ was quite a ‘show dog.’ He always raises his hind leg higher than the rest at the corner hydrant,” Jeb laughs. “We have to tell them we’ve done more than that. Oh yes, remember our wonderful cruise to The Bahamas. It’s just paradise there. See, I have my straw bag to prove it. It’s coral pink with Nassau woven on it’s side in aqua blue. But, I must remove the tags that read ‘Miami Coconuts’ and ‘Producto de Honduras.’ We need to be authentic. Here’s your visor from our trip to Hawaii years ago. I loved Maui and snorkeling in it’s crystal clear water. ‘Made in Japan’ tag needs to be removed. Also the tag ‘Distributed by Miami Coconuts.’ See, we are somebodies and have been somewhere. Would you like a marshmallow pie, Jeb? We only have coconut.” Both laugh. One hundred-fifty miles to Miami.
“How is everyone doing? We’re one hour from Miami International Cargo Terminal. If you need lavatory breaks, do them now. You must wait your turn, but be considerate. Time is of the essence. Okay, everyone, fasten your belts and harnesses. We are fifteen minutes from touch down at Miami.” Captain to passengers, “We have been cleared to land. Ready, set and down we go.” “Welcome to Florida and welcome to Miami!” exclaimed Ethel, the part-time flight attendant and tour guide. “Everyone, make sure you take all your bags with you, this plane will be loaded with another cargo of passengers right after you exit. Follow me. There are two mini buses waiting to take us to the main terminal baggage claim. Your baggage will come to you there. After all baggage is claimed and checked, we will proceed to the buses waiting for us to take us to town to our lodging locations. Compliments of ‘Miami Coconuts.’ Tomorrow morning our sightseeing will begin. Enjoy your evenings. Thanks to all of you for your cooperation. Look for our ‘Miami Coconuts’ tour van. It will comfortably seat all of you, said Ethel with a smile while counting cash in her hand from tips received. “Let’s see, there’s four quarters, one-dollar bill, two dimes and this folded piece of paper. Let me open and read.” “You’re hot, baby. Lookin’ for a hot Miami night. Can you show me the town? Here’s an extra tip of twenty. Kiss, kiss, mi amor,” signed Gustavo, aka Zell. Ethel thinking to herself…Well, extra is extra. More bucks and he may get more for the money. I don’t come cheap. I am a lady.
“Jeb, I’m getting excited. Miami is two miles away. Next exit. I don’t remember the exact directions to Loco and Coco’s. We’re off the expressway. Turn left here. There’s a lighted business straight ahead on the right,” said Millie as she searches for her phone in her straw Bahamas’ bag. “Okay, Millie. Here we are at ‘Miami Coconuts.’ Sound familiar? Open twenty-four hours. Souvenirs and gifts to remember your place in the sun. We have coconuts here. Let’s go inside so you can make your call,” said Jeb in a tired tone of voice.
“Welcome to ‘Miami Coconuts.’ We have it all here to remember your trip to paradise. Salt water taffy, first aisle on your left. Fresh coconuts in our produce bins located on the back aisle.” “Hello, Coco. This is Millie. We are here. Such a long trip, but we made it. Looking forward to seeing you. Can you meet us at a place called ‘Miami Coconuts?'” “Absolutely, Millie. It’s so good to hear your voice. I’ll be there in about twenty minutes. I know the location well. Be there soon.” “Coco, how will we recognize each other? It’s been forty-five years,” said nervously by Millie. “Don’t worry, baby. I’ll be wearing my coconut printed moo-moo and sandals and I know you will remember my alluring Latin face. I know you still look the same. If you’re carrying that straw bag from The Bahamas, I will remember you. Bet it still has the labels ‘Miami Coconuts’ and made in Honduras,” said laughingly by Coco.
“Jeb, let’s go to the back and see their fresh coconuts. There’s the cooler. I can see them from here. Why don’t we go ahead and get two of them? One for us and one for Coco and Loco as a gift for their hospitality. Wait, the label and crate read ‘Producto de Panama.’ I thought these were coconuts in Miami.” “Well, they are, right in your hands, coconuts in Miami grown in Panama. Can’t get any more Miami than that,” Jeb smiles with a grin. “It’s all about marketing. This is nothin’ but a tourist trap. I know Coco would never have anything to do with this sham. She is authentic. Loco doesn’t care. Toto, their dog, just likes hot dogs and his walks. He’s a ‘show dog,’ too.”
“Millie, a car just pulled up. The door is opening. There is a short woman in a coconut moo moo. Must be Coco. And that must be Loco. He looks like he did forty-five years ago. Maybe a game of dominoes again. Still has that Latin ‘stache and that aromatic Cuban cigar. “Coco, so glad to see you,” said Millie as she gives Coco a big hug and a kiss. “I knew it was you, No one like you,” said Coco. “How did you know it was me?” said Millie. “Your Nassau straw bag gave you away.” Loco to Jeb, “That nineteen-fifty-seven, red Dodge finned convertible hasn’t changed a bit. But you, Jeb, I wouldn’t recognize you, bud.” “I remember you, Loco. I see you still smoke those cheap Cuban cigars. You still smell the same.” “We both have good taste,” laughingly said each.
Millie to Coco, “Do you still live on Coconut Bend?” “No, we sold the place. You know how developers are, they flash some cash and it was a lot, so we took it and looked for something else to do. A luxury hotel is there now. Well, exactly, what are you doing now, Millie?” “Well, we walk our dog around the block and pretend we travel a lot. You know, we’ve been to Hawaii, The Bahamas, and now Miami.” “What more could you ask for, Millie?” “Well, we came to Miami for coconuts, but none are here but those in your cooler from Panama.” “Well, you’re right, they are not Miami coconuts, but they are coconuts in Miami. By the way, about ‘Miami Coconuts,’ it’s our business. We have several locations. We give the tourists what they want. If they want ‘Miami Coconuts,’ we give them ‘Miami Coconuts.’ How about a bikini made in Mexico? A halter made in the USA, I mean California, or a straw bag from The Bahamas with ‘Miami Coconuts’ tagged on it’s side?”
“Millie, let’s get you some coconuts now, the tour buses will start arriving early tomorrow morning. Also, here’s some bags of assorted salt water taffy. All on me, dear friend.”
“Miami Coconuts,” a souvenir shop, merchandise from elsewhere, and coconuts, all from Miami, so they say. Lasting memories with friends count most of all, but don’t forget the salt water taffy made authentically in Miami. Family and friends will appreciate your thoughtfulness and it will serve as a reminder to them that you are somebodies, that do go somewhere, and travel in style in a nineteen-fifty-seven, red Dodge finned convertible. Would you like a piece of taffy?
Transit Central Bus 33 Latin District
“Good morning, sir. How much?”
“Welcome aboard. You look familiar. Two dollars, please.”
A petite lady, named Estella, thinking to herself. He does look familiar, but I don’t who. Very handsome. I know, he looks like Pappa Acosta. He and his wife, Aricela, rode this bus for years. I think he may be kin to them.
“Good morning, beautiful woman. May I sit in the seat on the other side of you? I would enjoy a pleasant conversation with you.”
Stella thinking to herself. He moves in fast. Why does he want to sit next to me? I’m an old woman, no longer have a passion for love. He could have any young woman out there. They would beg for him. But I do like how he shows an interest in me.
“‘Buenos días, Eduardo,’ said Katrina with a smile. A beautiful day for a ride with you.” She eyes Gustavo seated next to Estella. How in the world did Stella find him? When he sees me, he will get up and follow me. He will like my red halter. I will lower the front so he can see my fruit from the vine.
“It’s a beautiful day. Look, see the seagulls circling around the bay? They are looking for fish for a nice nourishing meal,” said Gustavo. “Yes, I do see them. I enjoy watching the pelicans and how they drop down to catch a fish. Such keen vision,” said Stella.
“I’m really enjoying this ride with you? Why are you so kind to me? Most ignore me. I’m just an old woman now. I’ve lost my looks. No longer a Cover Girl. By the way, since we are a little friendly with each other, I think we should exchange names. My name is Estella, but you can call me Stella. Your name handsome lover, I mean fine looking gentleman?”
“Me name is Gustavo. But you can call me Gus. I ride this bus once a month for sentimental reasons. My Mama and Pappa rode this bus for years to the Latin district to sell their sandwiches. They had a very humble beginning, but made a way for themselves with two umbrella carts in the market. A simple and modest life, but they were happy.
“You know, Stella, you remind me of someone, but I don’t know who. You have a sweet scent that emanates from you. Let’s see, honeysuckle. No, that’s not it. Narcissus. No, fragrance not sweet enough for you. Look over there, the large live oak. It has a vine of wisteria running up it’s trunk. I think that’s the scent for you. Let’s call it A Lover’s Concerto,” said Gustavo with a smile at Stella.
The next passenger to board the bus is holding the hand of a beautiful little girl. A frequent rider, Maria Santos. “Good morning, Stella. This is my granddaughter, Teresita. We don’t get to see each other much, so this is special time together.” “Miss Stella, it’s so nice to meet you. Hope your day is swell,” said Teresita in a bit of a shy manner. ” “You have such manners, who showed you how to meet and greet?” “My Mom, and Gram, too. We’re making cookies today. I can’t wait. Gram said we will make them the old-fashioned way. Lots of dough and chocolate chips.” Maria whispers, with hand partially covering her mouth, “the old fashioned way is the slice and bake, from the dairy case.” Both chuckle.
“Why are you riding this bus? You should be driving an expensive car like the other professionals.” “I don’t drive a fancy car. My car is in the shop for repairs. It’s always in the garage for repairs! But I drive it because it was Pappa’s first car. He was so proud of it. It’s a Ford Falcon Futura, 1962. It has a few upgrades. The color is sky blue. Before the car, Mama and Pappa rode this very bus, for ten years. It’s an antique now.”
Stella responds, “Well, I’m an antique now. Model year, I rather not say. The first to come off the assembly and I started. That was my beginning.” Both laugh. “Gus, I think I remember your Mama and Pappa. They sat in these very seats every day. A very nice couple. So in love. His name was Gustavo and your mother’s name was Aricela.”
The last patron to board the bus is, Diego. Eduardo, the driver, said to Diego, “Been to the market?” “Actually, I’m meeting my son and grandson at Shady Breeze Park. The breeze from the Gulf and the shade of the massive wind blown oaks is a great setting for a picnic.” “Diego, your three bags, groceries?” said Eduardo.
“They are three bagged lunches. One for my son, Miguel. It’s a pressed Cuban with everything on it. The other bag is for my grandson, Juan. He likes the golden arches, but today he is getting a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich topped with a generous spread of grape jelly. His dessert is a banana. Oh, and for me, I’ve got a chili burrito with meat, melted cheese and jalapenos. Hot, super hot, fiero! A juice box will help cool the fire. And our drinks are all apple juice boxes, one for each and three for me just in case I need extra.” “Sounds like it will be a great time together. Simple pleasures are usually the best in life,” said Eduardo. “Yes, simple times and simple pleasures,” said Diego looking ahead for Shady Breeze Park. “They should both be there, I’m bringing the food and me!” said Diego with a laugh.
“Stella, do you drive?” “I’ve never driven a car, but my late, dearly beloved, nearly drove me crazy. But, I maintained my sanity, somehow. He expected me to wait on him hand and foot. I did it for awhile, but I stopped when he told me to get to the market and get his select chili con carne. Then he said pronto. I don’t know what happened to him. That was the end of the hand and food service, but I loved him.”
“Where are you going today, Gus.” “Really nowhere. Just riding the bus in memory of my Mama and Pappa. They started out with two umbrella carts just making Cuban sandwiches and empanadas. Mama at one corner and Pappa’s cart was parked at the other corner of Seventh Avenue and Esplanade. They had a friend, a pastry business, who allowed them to park their carts inside overnight. They always stopped at the bread bakery every morning to purchase hot fresh Cuban bread. The patrons on the bus enjoyed the aroma,” said Gustavo. “I have six carts now with umbrellas selling the same sandwiches in the district. Two uncles and four of my cousins sell from the carts. The sandwiches are made fresh every day. All in the family,” said Gustavo.
“Where are you going today, Stella?” “I’m also going to the garage for a diagnostic and service. It’s the medical center. Today is my annual check up. I’m sure all systems are in order. Then I go on about my business for the rest of the day.”
“Stella, I’m going to ask you something personal. Do you have a fella, a boyfriend?” “No one has asked me that question for years. No, all I have are Zippy and Zappy. They are my fellas. Two pugs!” “Well, I’d like to have your hand. We could ride together every day on this bus, just like Mamma and Pappa.” Stella thinking to herself, I can’t believe it, he is making a proposal to me. I’m happy with myself. He is sort of a fantasy. We can’t be lovers. I must tell him no. I don’t mean to break his heart. Why me and not the other hot chicks? Friends only, I must tell him.
“Gustavo, dear heart, you have been so nice to me. I can’t accept your proposal. I prefer to live alone. I have my daily habits and enjoy my friends on the street. So, it’s friends only,” said Stella with a bit of a sad face. “Stella, I wasn’t asking you for a proposal of marriage. I want us to just be friends and ride this bus occasionally together. Also, I would like to take a walk with you down Seventh Avenue and have a Cuban sandwich and dessert, one day. Would you like and accept my invitation?” said Gustavo with a smile and his dark black wavy hair as his dark brown eyes looked directly into the eyes of Stella. “I accept,” said Stella with a smile.
“Where do you live? If you don’t mind me asking.” “Well, I’m not well off. I live in Billy Goat Pastures. No paved roads. Only a walking trail. I live a simple life there. I have lived at fifty four Billy Goat Trail for a long time. It’s a simple frame house with a nice kitchen window. And it’s paid for! I’m not overhead in debt like a lot of these young ones. I have shade trees, and a laced rusty fence where my honeysuckle and morning glories cover the fence. Such a beautiful view. The fence allows Zippy and Zappy to run free. Also, in the morning, I have a hot beverage and a hot buttery biscuit topped with strawberry jam. I lift my window up just enough to provide the sparrows a little seed. Springer, the squirrel, waits his turn, then he gets a few peanuts to enjoy. That’s my life. It’s simple. I may be poor, but I’m happy. I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Stella with a smile and joy as she talked.
“Where do you live, Gustavo? If you don’t mind me asking.” “I live in a simple frame house behind the business district. I’m happy there. I do have a professional job, and do have a fancy car, but I do not want to live the life of the rich and famous. I’m happy there, too.”
“My family, particularly my daughter, Sissy, is pushing me to upgrade my lifestyle. She said to me, just the other day, ‘Mama, you don’t have to live like this anymore. You can move up to a better home and lifestyle. We have a room waiting for you.'”
Gustavo to Stella, “Sounds like you are a woman of conviction.” “Yes, I am. You know Gustavo, when you move in with kin, someone like Sissy, there’s a price to pay. Also they try to run your life. All Sissy wants me for is a cash drawer. She will ask, ‘Mama, we need a few groceries, could you help us out?’ Upstairs in a room. I would be a damsel in distress there. Besides, I have no long hair for you to rescue me.” Both laugh.
“You have a happy spirit. No matter where you live, you make it home, but not a big home in a fancy subdivision. Sounds like you are happy in Billy Goat Pastures and wouldn’t have it any other way. Good for you,” said Gustavo with a happy tone of voice.
“So, where do we go from here, Gustavo?” “Our own separate ways. That’s the way it should be. We both know how to be happy. You are far from being poor, you have a rich outlook on life,” said Gustavo.
“Will I ever see you again, Gus?” “You bet, I ride this very bus once a month. Besides my car may need to be in the shop again.” Both laugh. Stella gets off at the medical center and Gustavo continues on to Seventh Avenue.
Simplicity could be the very thing that will make you happy. A simple life could bring you much happiness. It does for the passengers on this bus.
Flint Hills of Kansas
“Hey, little fella, what’s your name?” “I’m Peyote, what’s your name?” “My name is Sam, Sam Swindle. You look like a squirrel, are you?” “Oh no, I’m a prairie dog. A different type of dog, but I am a dog.”
Mr. Swindle to Peyote “What makes you think you’re a dog?” “A man named Lewis discovered us years ago. He heard our chirp type of bark and thought ‘these are prairie dogs.’ And there you have it.”
“What are you out here for, Mr. Swindle?” “I’m a writer looking for a story. Maybe a story about you.” “A story about me?” “Yes, Peyote, a story about you. Actually, I work for a Hollywood producer. He sent me here.”
“Why would you come out here? There’s nothing here but us prairie dogs.” “But Peyote, look at the panorama. Grassy green fields, wild flowers of every color, rolling hills and valleys. This place is an oasis. An oasis on the prairie.”
“Mister Swindle, let me introduce you to my cousin. Chirper is his name. He chirps like a bark.” “Nice to meet you, Chirper.” “Bark for us Chirper, bark.” “Oh Peyote, I don’t care to, I’m so bashful. The last time I barked was for a ranger. He laughed at me and I haven’t done it since.” “Come on, Chirpie, bark a little for us. It’s just me and you and this guy writing a story about us.”
“Okay, chirp, chirp, chirp.” “More” said Peyote. Chirper barks again. “Chirp, chirp, chirp.” “You know, I am looking for new talent. A dog that chirps like a bird would be an interesting story. It could be titled ‘Chirper Dog.’ A dog of a different kind on the prairie.” “Mr. Writer, I mean, Mr. Swindle, could this get us a Hollywood contract?”
Mr. Swindle to Peyote “I don’t think so, but maybe a promotional ad for the planned new hotel and casino to be built right here on this spot. Heard that a real estate magnate in the east is looking for land and he will buy it, if the price is right.” “Mister, don’t you think Chirper’s got talent?” “He’s got talent, but you got land and lots of it.”
“Peyote, how much can I offer you for a few acres?” “What’s an acre, Mr. Swindle?” said Peyote “An acre? Let’s see, from this bush to that bush, over to that fence post and back to your hole right here is about an acre.” “That’s a lot of land, Mister.” Mr. Swindle to Peyote “Yes it is, Peyote. Who owns this land?” Peyote to Mr. Swindle “Nobody, that I know of, it’s just us prairie dogs out here and no one else.”
“Well, Peyote, someone was here at one time, the fence post over there with the rusted barbed wire wrapped in a circle and hung on the post. You know anything about it?” Peyote said, “I heard that there was a cattle rancher here at one time, but that was long ago. He couldn’t make a go of it, so he left and this is the remnant of what is left of it.” “Do you know if he ever owned the property?” “I don’t think so, others were here too and were not able to do anything with this barren land. Since then it’s been us and no one else”said Peyote.
“Okay, Peyote, I need a deed for this property.” “What’s a deed, Mister Swindle?” “A deed indicates who owns the property. Since we don’t know of one, I’ll create one. So, with the deed, we can transfer ownership over to Mr. Real Estate Developer, that is, if you both strike a deal.” “Who is this Mr. Developer?” said Peyote. “He is a big time real estate developer in the east. He owns just about every casino on the east coast. He’s got the bucks to buy this land.” Mr. Swindle goes on to say “This could be big money for you, Peyote. You will never be without. His success could be your win and the land deal, a plum in his pocket.”
Peyote to Mr. Swindle “This sounds too good to be true.” “It is true, Peyote. It will change your lives forever. You will never have to hunt for food ever again.” “Chirper, what do you think?” said Peyote. Chirper says “I think we should go for it. Our lives changed forever.”
“Peyote and Chirper, Mr. Developer will need one thousand acres. Can you do?” “Why not?” said Peyote. “We have plenty of land to share. A thousand acres will work for me, I mean for us, me and Chirper.” “How about two hundred fifty thousand dollars for it? A lot of cash. This is my one and only offer. Just think ‘lives changed forever.’ Deal?” “What do you think, Chirpie?” Chirper nods his head. “Okay, Mister Swindle, let’s make a deal” said Peyote.
“Okay, fellas, I knew you would fall, I mean go, for it. I’ve already prepared the documents. Need both of your signatures.” “But, Mister Swindle, I don’t know how to write. Can you help me?” “I’ve already taken care of it. I have you name printed below the line. All you have to do is sign above the line next to the X.” “Okay, Mister Swindle.” “Peyote, just press your paw on this ink pad and then press your paw on the line next to the X. Done. Very good.” “Now, Chirper, it’s your turn. You do the same. Next to the X please. Great, deal is half way done. Your offer is now ready to be presented to Mr. Developer. He will be quite pleased and eager to sign it.”
“Meet us at the fence post tomorrow morning at ten a.m. Mr. Developer and Mr. Banker will both be there to seal the deal. Remember ‘our lives changed forever.’ See ya then.”
“Mornin’, fellas. Meet Mr. Developer and Mr. Banker.” Peyote and Chirper shyly say “Hello, sirs, nice to meet you.” “No need to be so formal, guys. Just call me R.E. I like to be on a first name basis with all of my friends. My full name is Real Estate Developer, but just call me R.E. Heard my money made you sign. It works every time. This is a deal, guys, what a deal! Just what I was looking for, cheap, I mean prime real estate. And you got it.”
Mr. Swindle to Peyote and Chirper “Meet Mr. Banker.” “Mornin, boys. I’m the man with the dough. You will get a lot of it. You won’t regret it. Your lives will be changed forever.” Mr Banker says to Mr. Developer “I like the name. ‘Oasis on the Prairie.’ Well, is it a deal, fellas?” Peyote and Chirper nervously say “It’s a deal.” “Great!” said Mr. Swindle.
“Here are the documents. Mr. Developer you sign here and Mr. Banker, sign right under his name. One last thing, transfer of title to the property. Peyote and Chirper sign here. Both sign paper. Congratulations everyone, the deal is done.”
“Mister Swindle, haven’t you forgotten something, our check?” “Of course not, here is a certified check in the amount of two hundred fifty thousand dollars. All you need do is cash it and the money is yours to keep.” “How do I cash it? There’s no bank around here. The name of the bank on the check, Bank of Fools. Is that a good bank, Mister Swindle?” “Trust me, it’s a good bank in the east. Over one thousand miles from here. I’ll take it with me and cash it for you.”
“Here, both of you sign on the back to endorse the check. Peyote you first, then Chirper you sign right under him. Then I will sign it last. It gives me permission to cash your check for you. It may take a month before you get your cash. It will be delivered by a trustworthy man. He will be on horseback with a leather satchel strapped across his shoulder. He may be wearing a black mask, but maybe not. Just look for a man on a horse. See you guys, your lives will be change forever.”
One month later at the fence post. “Well, Peyote, it’s been one month and no money yet.” “I know Chirper, but Mister Swindle said he promised and I believe the money is on it’s way. I bet, any day now.” Chirper to Peyote “You know, something told me we shouldn’t have signed over our check to him.” “I know Chirpie, but Mister Swindle gave us his word. But I have never heard of the ‘Bank of Fools,’ but he said it was a good bank. I’m sure we’ll get our money soon. Mr Swindle promised.”
Lives changed forever, what do you think?
Woo’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning.
“Mrs. Woo, I have three shirts for dry cleaning. Also, I have these three pairs of slacks that need to be cleaned and altered. The bottom of the trousers need to be hemmed to prevent them from fraying. Can you do?” said Geoffrey. “Yes, we can hem your slacks. I charge eight dollars per pair. Let me take a look at them. Two are fine, but the third we cannot do. Did you try to do it yourself? Look, the pants legs are ragged and frayed. There’s not enough material to do them. You can pick them up on Monday.” “I need a pair by tomorrow, Saturday afternoon. Can you please help me? One pair of slacks and one shirt will do to wear to work on early morn, Monday. I can pick up the others on Tuesday,” said Geoffrey with a panic in the sound of his voice. “Sorry, I cannot do them. My pressers have left for the day and will be back on Monday to do them for you. We do not do dry cleaning on weekends. Certainly not altering. It’s just not possible. Tell you what, I will do one shirt and one pair of slacks. I will wash them by hand and press at no extra charge,” said Mrs. Woo in a kind motherly tone of voice. “Thank you so much, Mrs. Woo. I will pay you extra,” said Geoffrey in relief. “No need, I will do them so you can keep your job. You need to take better care of your clothes. What would your mother think?” said Mrs. Woo with a smile. “My mom used to do all my laundry for me and altered all my clothes. I really miss her,” said Geoffrey. “Do you miss her or do you miss her laundry work? You can pick them up tomorrow morning by noon.”
Quality shows and bank the dough.
“Hey, Mr. Barnes. How goes it? Your lawn could really use a haircut. I will do it for free,” said Charlie at ten with purpose in his life. Hoping, this time, that he will get some referrals from Mr. Barnes. Thinking to himself, Mr. Barnes reflects…Oh I do remember the haircut he gave my perfectly manicured St. Augustine. He butchered my lawn with a mower of only two wheels. One on the left front and the other on the right back. A perfectly unbalanced cut that had the neighbor next door, Mrs. Busybody, looking in horror and threatened to report me to the Homeowners Association. She needs to mind her own business. He’s a good kid, maybe I should give Charlie another whack at it. I will let him try again with a new new lawn mower perfectly balanced by all four wheels. He could use my mower instead. I do not want him to use his weed whacker ever again. Only mow the lawn. Let’s see what he can do for nothing.
“Hey, Charlie, let’s talk lawn mowing. Have you improved your lawn mowing skills?” “Oh, yes sir, my mower has four wheels now. Two small wheels in the front and two large wheels on the back end. A much better cut this time. You’ll see. I cut three lawns a week. I have references,” said Charlie proudly and thinking to himself…I wonder why Mrs. Bates, Mr.Smith, and Mrs. Logan won’t let me mow their lawns again. One said, well it was Mr. Smith, go cut Mrs. Busybody’s lawn, but she talked ugly to me and said to get on down the road. I wonder why? I did mow three lawns, but I don’t have any references. He’s such a nice man, I doubt he will ask.
“Charlie, I’m going to give you a chance to redeem yourself. You can use my mower to cut the lawn. My lawn in the front is an easy do, but the backyard will require a lot of work. It is overgrown. About three feet in height. Also, there are oranges on the ground that dropped recently from the trees. You must be careful,” said Mr. Barnes. “I got just the thing to lower the height of the grass, so the lawn is mowable. I have a new weed whacker and it can cut through anything,” said Charlie. “Oh no, I will do the weed whacking and you can pick up the oranges before you cut it, said Mr. Barnes with insistence.”Okay, Mr Barnes, it’s your lawn, I will mow it as you like it, you’ll see.” “What do you charge now for your lawn service?” said Mr. Barnes hoping that Charlie will agree to his terms. Five dollars for the front and ten dollars for the back. A fair deal he thinks.
“I said I would do it for free, but it is a lot of work, I have to charge. Next time, when the lawn is in manageable shape, I will cut it for free. I’ll charge you five dollars for the front and ten dollars for the back. But it is a lot of work and will require more fuel to do it. That will be an extra five dollars,” said Charlie playing hard ball for an agreement on his terms. “But, Charlie, you’re using my mower and it’s free for you to use. It’s fifteen dollars, plus I have a bonus for you, if the lawn is mowed to my liking,” said Mr. Barnes countering back to Charlie’s offer. “That’s not fair, I can’t continue my service for that amount. I’m in business, you know,” said Charlie with a smug attitude. “As I said, Charlie, you will get a bonus that is worth your while. You’ll see. Agree?” said Mr. Barnes. “Okay, it better be a good bonus,” said Charlie with hesitation. “It is something special to me, I want to pass it along to you. I need for you to be here early Saturday morning. I’ll feed you a nice breakfast, then we’ll get started. See you then?” “See you then, Mr. Barnes. Remember, the bonus better be worthwhile.” “We have struck a deal, Charlie. It’s Saturday, remember. Now, go cut your other lawns.”
“Good Saturday morn, Charlie. You’re extra early. I wonder what motivated you,” said Mr. Barnes with a grin. “Well, I never, ever, miss breakfast. Now, what’s on the menu? It better be to my liking,” said Charlie. “Here it is to your liking, bossman. I think you like mush. Just kidding. A delightful breakfast of fresh fruit and a granola bar to give us both the energy to do a great job. Well, it looks like you’re done. Let’s do it!” “Let’s do it, Mr. Barnes. The bonus better be good,” said Charlie pressing his luck. “You’ll see. It will be something worth passing on to you,” said Bill Barnes.
“Here we are, Charlie. I’ll start clearing the brush back here. If you please, go mow the front lawn nicely. Remember, you are a professional and in business for yourself. Keep the customer satisfied. That be me.” One hour later. “Mr. Barnes, I’m done. Ready for you to inspect.” “It looks great, Charlie. You have earned your first five dollars. Let’s go to the back. Oh, hello, Mrs. Busybody. Does everything meet your approval?” said Mr. Barnes sarcastically. “Yes, it meets my approval. When I saw him mowing your lawn again, I got concerned. Charlie, you did a great job. I might consider your services, but I think not.” “Let’s go to the back, Charlie.” “Let’s go to the back, we don’t need her minding our business. You know I have a reputation to keep.”
Three hours later. “Well, Charlie, we’re just about done. Just pick up the good oranges I missed, then we will be ready to go. Okay, here’s your ten dollars that you earned. You now have your fifteen dollars. Let’s get cleaned up and have some fresh juice before we go.” “Where are we going, Mr. Barnes? I can’t wait to get my bonus,” said Charlie with anticipation. “We’re just about there. I can’t wait to pass something special on to you.” “Mr. Barnes. why are we at the bank?” said Charlie a bit puzzled. “Let’s go inside. Something special is about to be passed on to you. You’ll see,” said Mr. Barnes in a very happy voice with a smile on his face. “Well, Mr. Barnes, what is it and where is it?” “Are you ready for something special? It’s special to me and I’m passing it on to you. Now, close your eyes and open when I say so. Open your eyes, Charlie. This is for you. You see it is quite worn. Brown leather cover, but what’s special is inside. Open it up, Charlie.” While browsing the passbook, Charlie said “The pages are yellow with dates stamped on each line of the page. I see a deposit for fifty cents from long ago. Nineteen fifty four. Is that a year? There are lots of dates stamped on each page. Lots for fifty cents, then there are one dollars stamped for every week. Then the amount has gone up to five dollars. The whole book is just about filled with dates stamps and amounts of money. It shows a balance of fifty dollars. Why that amount?” said Charlie with interest. ” Yes, there is a balance of fifty dollars and this passbook is for you. It’s a savings passbook. It was my first savings account. You’ll notice that there are extra amounts added to my account. Ten cents, twenty-five cents, and one dollar. That’s called interest paid to me by the bank for the use of my money. Yes, I made money on my money. So can you.” “Never heard of a savings passbook, and the money earned really caught my interest. I’ll make money on my money because I keep it in the bank. That’s really cool. I like that idea.”
“Well, Charlie, are you ready to make your first deposit, I mean, put money into your account to save? There’s already fifty-dollars in your account. It’s good to always save a part of your earnings. You’ve earned fifteen dollars today. I suggest that you save five dollars and use the ten dollars on yourself or invest it back into your business. Try to save twenty-five percent on all your earnings. Here, this is for you. It’s that extra five dollars you wanted for your lawn service. Now you have twenty dollars. Twenty-five percent on twenty dollars is five dollars. So, save the five dollars.” “I want to save ten dollars to build up my money fast to make more money till I’m rich.” “No, be consistent with twenty-five percent. Don’t rush to be rich. If you save fifty-percent you will most likely take money out. You don’t want to do that. Most banks today don’t have passbooks, your savings are electronically added to your account. They will give you a receipt for your deposit and on the receipt it will show your balance. Nowadays, most banking activity is recorded in your online account on the bank’s website. Just enter your secret security code and it will open up your account. The easy way to do banking today. Right at your fingertips at home on your computer.”
“Mr. Barnes, I don’t know what to say, but thank you. I will always keep this passbook as a reminder of you that got me started with saving money. Hmm, making money on my money? I like that. I’m a businessman, you know.” “Yes, I do know it.”
Acts of kindness are random and done to benefit someone else without expecting anything in return. A good deed for the day. They are quite powerful in that they can inspire others to perform acts of kindness.
“Scrambled eggs and white toast. That’s how I like my order. No other way.” “Scrambled eggs and wheat toast. That’s how I like my order. No other way.” “Scrambled eggs with French toast sprinkled with powderded sugar. That’s how I like my order. No other way.” “Scrambled eggs an a bagel with cheese. That’s how I like my order. No other way.”
“What did you say?” “Scrambled eggs and bagel with cheese.” “Never heard of it. You can check with Herman’s Doughnuts next door. He sells everything. I believe he does have that bagel doughnut. He just placed out all his fresh doughnuts and pastries. Go quickly while they are fresh. I’m sure the two bagel doughnuts are still there waiting for you. He has cream cheese, too. Have a good day, sir.”
“Ma chérie, comment vas-tu? Sweetheart, how are you today? I have a special request. I’ll have two scrambled eggs on a French toast sandwich. Then a swirl of ice cream custard on top drizzled with caramel.” “How did you come up with that one? It’s not on our menu, but I do like the sound of it. Let me see what I can do.” “Hey, Harvey, I have a special request. Scrambled eggs on French toast topped with ice cream. Can you do?” “Let me see, Lucille. Hold on.”
While Harvey is searching for a bag of frozen French toast and ice cream, Cile asked customer, “How fancy do you want your eggs? We only have scrambled, but we can fancy them up for you.” “Two fluffy scrambled eggs with pecans on top. Place the eggs on the top of a slice of French toast then place another slice of French toast on top. That makes the sandwich. Top it off with a swirl of ice cream custard drizzled with caramel.” “You said you wanted ice cream, what flavor?” A swirl of vanilla custard drizzled with caramel.” “We can do that, I think Harvey can locate the syrup somewhere. Would you like your caramel heated?” “Oui, s’il vous plaît.” ” What did you say? It better be nice. Of course, it’s served on a plate. And no, I do not accept invitations, unless I’m tipped well.”
“Lady, may I call you Cile? It means ‘Yes, please.'” “Yes, you can call me, Cile. And what is your name?” “It’s Pierre. I’m from the ‘South of France.'” “I’m from the ‘South of Alabama’ and proud of it.” “I can tell you are a ‘Southern Belle,’ I greatly admire you.” “Enough flirtin’, your order is coming up. I think Harvey was able to create a new type of toast, French toast with scrambled eggs. We have no waffles, but we do have your vanilla ice cream just what a Frenchman would like. By the way, Pierre, would you like a fresh cup of our finest ground coffee? It’s mountain grown in Alabama. Way up yonder in the hills.” “Sounds great, Cile. Ma chérie, café au lait.” “There you go again with that fancy French talk. How’d you like your coffee?” “Coffee with milk. Merci, ma chérie. Thank you, dear.”
“Cile, you’ve spent too much time with that Frenchman. All he’s lookin’ for is love. We’re here for our scrambled eggs. I’ll have mine with white toast. That’s how I like it.” “Barney, I haven’t forgotten you. He’s a guest and must be treated well. He could bring the place up to a fancy diner, particularly if I add his special order to our menu. You’re my regulars and I value your business, I mean your friendships.” “Ready for my order, Cile. Got to drive my diesel rig over the road for four days. I need a good hearty breakfast. Double my order of scrambled eggs and white toast and I need a fresh thermos of ‘hot to trot’ coffee. Can you do?” “For you, Ed, I would do anything.” “Really, you wouldn’t want to go with me across the road, would you? You would be great company and I have an extra bunk for you. It’s just how the ladies like it. Think about it before that Frenchman takes you away. I don’t know French talk but I do know to take good care of a lady. I have manners.”
“Lucille, I’m running late, I would appreciate if you’d put an express on my scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast. Add a coffee, too. Hot to trot. I’m having a special sale today at ‘Hot Wheels.’ All model cars, 1950’s era, are half-priced today only. At noon today, there will be a special one hour class on how to assemble them. At no extra charge. We have quite a few collectors of these vintage model cars. Tell Harvey. Maybe young Billy might want to come along. Something for everyone.” “Here, Buster, ready to go. The coffee is on the house and now you’re ‘hot to trot.'”
“Mademoiselle, mon Toast Sandwich français, s’il vous plaît. Miss, my French Toast Sandwich, please. I’ve been waiting a long time.” ” I know, my dear, Pierre. I’ll get it right now. I will make sure it’s hot and the vanilla ice cream custard is cold and then I’ll drizzle it with room temperature caramel to keep it from melting too fast. Nothing but the best for you, ‘my cherry more.’ Here it is, enjoy my love.”
“Hey, miss flirtin’ waitress, can you bring me mah order? Lucille, this is not like you. Scatterbrained and you put your best men folks last. Just because of that Frenchman. By the way, do you know anything about him? I think there is something very peculiar about him. He’s dressed in combat fatigues and wearing a military beret. Why would a military spy be so obvious?” said Edgar. “That’s not military dress, it’s the new French casual wear for men. It’s designer. Plus, he is a gentleman and has manners. Most spies are not as friendly and as open. Just a nice and friendly guy. A little fresh and forward, but I like it. I’ve never had a man speak so sweet to me,” said Lucille as she wrapped her arms around herself gazing up with sparkles in her eyes. ” You know what, Cile, I think you are mesmerized by him. He’s got complete control of you now. You belong to him now.”
Cile thinking to herself…Yes, I do belong to him now. The way he talks to me. The way his penetrating dark eyes see into my feminine mystique. My heart is just pounding for him. Pierre, my darling, my heart awaits you to take me into your arms. Ravish me and we will build a life of espionage together. Two spies in love.
“Lucille, Cile! You left us for a moment. Are you all right?” “I’m back, Edgar. Just lost in a dream.” “How about my scrambled eggs and wheat toast to go? I want them fresh please, and a cup of coffee ‘hot to trot.'” “Here ya go, Edgar. All there and it’s on me. Glad to do it for you. Enjoy your Spyday, I mean, Friday.”
In a drift, glossy eyed Cile returns to check on Pierre. “My Pierre, how was your French Toast Sandwich? Was it French enough? Not freshly made, but French toast. It does look good. May I have a taste? Mmm, very good. I must put this on our menu. Pierre, it’s been great to meet you. Enjoy the rest of your day.” “Mon cherie, I want you as a friend. I have no friends here. I’m on special assignment. No one must know, but I will tell you. I’m a…” “Please don’t tell me, Pierre, I think I already know. It must me a tough job to do and an awfully lonely life. You do need a friend. I will be your friend, if that’s okay with you.” “Of course, my dear. I have a request of you. May I have your hand? Will you go away with me? We can travel the world together. That’s what I do. I do go into some very uncomfortable situations, but I know how to get out. That’s what spies do best. They spy, then they leave. Are you ready for a life of espionage?”
“Let me think for a moment, Pierre. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Have I found love? He really knows how to charm a lady. He is so considerate. The men around here have no idea about being nice to a woman, plus they do not have the intelligence of Pierre. Should I go? Is this a foolish thought? I think I must go, maybe not. What do I have to hold me here? Love is what I need. We can love each other together and forever. I must go!
“Pierre, I have made my decision. It was a hard one to make, but I did. I can’t. I can’t stay here. I must go with you. I would never have thought that love would walk into my life. But you did and I am very happy. Just think, this all started with scrambled eggs and white toast. For us, it will be French Toast and Scrambled Eggs forevermore.” Both laugh and embrace.
Je t’aime pour un moment. Je t’aime pour un jour. Je t’aime pour la vie. I love you for a moment. I love you for a day. I love you for life.
Climate Controlled… Twenty Four Hour Security… Camera Surveillance… You Lock And Keep The Key… Variety Of Spaces Available… Horders Not Welcome… Y2Kers Keep On Driving… Store Your Stuff Here!
“Elmer, we have too much stuff here. Too many boxes that we never emptied when we moved in here nearly five years ago. The living room is like a maze. I can’t even find my vintage yellow daisy, padded, vinyl lounge chair and my Roy Rogers TV dinner tray that I’ve had since nineteen sixty two. I guess I’ll never find them and will continue to sit in the lawn chair with my microwave meal placed on a card table. This is just not living. You said a move to Florida would be leisure living in the sun, but it’s not and why? We’ve got to do something to have a life. We never see the neighbors and they never see us. You talked this place up like it was paradise found, but I haven’t found it yet! Some of this stuff must go. I’m nearly insane from it all. I like order, but a little space would be nice. I guess we’re lucky to be in a gated, isolated, fifty-five plus community. But maybe there is a sunny side of Florida yet to be found. Well, we do live in ‘Coastal Palms.’ That’s a start. Even if its just a state of mind,” said Mabel.
“Nothing wrong with our stuff. Yeah, it’s a maze to get around it, but as long as I can get to my easy chair in front of my full screen sports channel, I’m fine with it. And besides, what if you need something like that old fashioned green Hamilton Beach blender, you can put your hands right on it. Look in that box, it’s marked small kitchen appliances. It could be in there. Remember those thick malts you used to make? I’d love to have one now. Wouldn’t you?” said Elmer as he relaxed in his easy chair with his socked feet resting comfortably on the two tone nineteen sixty two black and white circular ottoman. You need to relax, doll. We’ll figure something out. You know that ‘Store Your Stuff Here’ storage place is down the road. Let’s check it out tomorrow. Here. Have one of these. They’re called ‘The Love of Chocolate.’ I know you love chocolate. Just relax for the rest of the day. How about one of those thick chocolate malts for old times’ sake?” “Just maybe, we’ll see. Here’s your iced lemonade and your patty melt, just as you like it. Got to go to the garage and check on things. We just need to be ready.”
Elmer thinking to himself…The worst of all , Mabel is a hoarder. She saves everything. I’m really tired of our garage filled with her leftover Y2K supplies. I guess she is saving them for Y3K. The one hundred gallons of water are no good now. It’s been fourteen years since then and nothing has happened. No catastrophe. No ‘Chicken Little.’ Every weekend she has a yard sign that reads ‘Be prepared, survivor supplies here.’ I can’t believe I moved her surplus of survival supplies down here. It almost took another truck to load it all. It’s been five years and nothing has changed. Actually I’m really tired of her. Tired of living like this. If I say anything to her, she will call me a hypocrite for not helping her unload these boxes full of stuff and trash bags filled with clothes and laundry since we moved in here. Maybe she’s tired of me, but I don’t think so. What would she do without me?
Mabel thinking to herself…All he does is sit in his easy chair and watch the world of sports. He doesn’t even think about my needs. What happened to our love affair so many years ago? Mom had the same problem with Dad. He ignored her, too. He would go to work , mow the lawn, then back to his easy chair. I guess I married someone just like my Dad. But something happened that got Mom really worried. Dad’s behavior changed, I mean his routine. Always home for dinner by six, but one day he didn’t show up. I never knew what happened. Then the next day he came home on time. He kissed and even hugged Mom, then I thought everything was all right, but something was different about Dad. But I can’t do anything about the past. It’s time to organize. Where should I begin? Yes, the garage. I must do an inventory of our survival supplies. I feel like something is about to happen. We’ve got to be ready. That’s what Mom said. I think she thought he was involved, you know, but I really don’t think so. It was all in her mind. Then she started organizing everything. She feared we were about to lose everything, but it never happened and she never lost Dad. “The games over, good night Mabel.” “Elmer, wait, I got an idea. We can create our own tropical oasis right here. I’ll even make us each a coconut shake with the Hamilton Beach. As you said, for old times’ sake. Will you help me?” “For a shake, you bet I will. What you need?” “Get out the Hamilton Beach. It’s in the box marked small kitchen appliances.” “I found it. A treasure to behold. I remember when.” “You mean me?” “No, the Hamilton Beach” with a grin. “Maybe you, later. If the shake is right, maybe rock’n’roll tonight.” “I like what I hear.
Hurry, Elmer. We have love, I mean shakes, to make. The ice cream’s in the fridge and get the aluminum canister. Then blend. I’m feeling hot, I need to cool myself off with a quick sponge. I’ll be right back.” “Let’s see, ice cream from the fridge. Coconut Creme, my favorite. One scoop, another scoop, and another. A touch of milk and here we go. Blend, blend, blend. Feeling so good, I wonder why? I feel like a new man. I have a song in my heart, ‘I wonder why I love you like I do. Is it because I think you love me too? Doo-wop, doo-wop, love you like I do.’ What’s this? ‘Man-Alive,’ enhancer. Just add to any cool drink. Hmm?” “Elmer, you’re like your young self again. I wonder why? The chocolates are so creamy and luscious. What’s with ‘A Love-Potion Product?” “So, you like them. How about one more luscious taste, from me? Let’s go make some shakes. So, I’m a Man-Alive again?” “That’s my plan. I think it’s working.” “I’m your passion of pleasure.” “That’s my plan.” “Let’s go make some shakes.” “Let’s go make some shakes!”
“What a night. Was it a dream?” said Elmer. “It wasn’t a dream, it was a really good shake,” said Mabel with a gleaming smile. “Ready to store your stuff?” “Not now, I got all the stuff I need right here with you.” “And you’re the right stuff for me.”
Heaven Forbid School of Excellence In The Pines, Georgia
After Lunch, Fifth Period English-Creative Writing.
“Mrs. Whippoorwill, this is Janice Noteworthy from Heaven Forbid School. How are you, dear heart? I have a favor to ask of you. I need a fill-in teacher for a three month assignment to finish out the school year. I know you are retired, but I could really use your help.”
“Well Janice, dear heart, I called it quits last year after thirty years of torment. I was dedicated to my profession, but my school days are over. I’m sorry, but I can’t help you out. Besides, I’m about to take a trip of a lifetime to Africa. Never been there. I watch the Travel Channel and you should see the zebras running in the wild across Africa. Across the grassy savanna plains. It’s their home, where they belong and not in captivity like a zebra zoo. You know, many think zebras are white horses painted with black stripes. That is nothing but nonsense. They are not horses. They are zebras. A completely different herd. I’m taking a safari to see them up close. I’ve saved a long time for this trip. You know teachers never get a vacation. This may be the only one I ever get for the rest of my days. I must go.”
“Now, exactly, when does your tour leave? Next week or three months from now? Helene, dear heart, I could really use your help. What can you do for me?” said Janice with hopeful expectation and a genuine smile. “Janice, dear heart, I have rheumatism now. You know an old lady can’t stand up much anymore.” Janice thinking to herself…There must be a way to accommodate her. She is a star teacher. With all the high tech electronics available today, she really doesn’t have to stand at all. She could teach the old fashioned way, seated behind her desk. And the students could stay in their place. She could teach from her tablet and the students could learn from their tablets. I got an idea. I will appeal to her ego.
“You know, Helene, dear heart, you were one of the best. A lot of students moved on to higher education because of you. Now there are some in very lucrative careers. Surgeons, lawyers, and even landscapers. All in professions of compassion and service. See what you did for them? I could arrange free consultations for you with any of them. Need surgery for your osteoarthritis? I can hook you up. Any personal injuries such as falls at the senior center or a slip on the supermarket floor? There’s money waiting for you. And I know you always need your hedge trimmed and your lawn mowed.”
“You know, I could use a little help. What do you need Janice, dear heart?” said Mrs. Whippoorwill with a bit of a smile while bracing herself on her cane. “Maybe I still do have a little punch to teach.”
“Helene, dear heart, you were the very best math teacher in the district. All of your students excelled.” “Yes, I did teach them their numbers. At least they can count today. The new ones coming up don’t need to count. Just let the electronics do it for them. I think there are still some numbers to teach. What math class do you need help with, dear heart?” “I need you to teach something new. English, well it’s creative writing. If you can teach math, you can teach anything. This will be a piece of cake. Just tell them to write, but inspire them. They really need some motivation,” said Janice hoping for a deal.
“Heaven forbid, Janice. I can’t teach English, much less writing. I’m a numbers person.” “Mrs. Whippoorwill sing me a song, please. Do whatever you need to do. It’s your classroom and they will abide by your rules. You’ll see.”
“Okay, Janice, I will agree to the three months, but if they become too difficult, I will give you my notice in a heartbeat. When do I start?” “Your class will start on Monday. Its right after lunch, fifth period. Good kids. Just need a little motivation. See you then?” “You did say this is a behind the desk job? Great to hear, see you then.”
After lunch, Monday afternoon. Fifth period English-Creative Writing.
“Okay class, let’s get it together. It’s time to start creative writing. By the way I’m your new teacher, Mrs. Whippoorwill. Let me take roll. Butch? ‘Here.’ Baby Face? ‘Here, but don’t want to be here’ Pinky Dee? ‘I’m here, ya know. ‘ Jolene? ‘Mama said to come. Ahm here.” Johnny Lee? ‘I’m here, ma’am.’ Well someone with manners. I bet you know your numbers. Patsy Ann? ‘I don’t feel well. The fried chicken was good tasting, may I go see the nurse?’ Well, are you here? ‘Yes, teacher. I am here.’ You may go see the nurse, but you don’t want to miss out on the creativity in class today. Hurry back. And Tank? Tank, are you here? ‘Whip-whip-whip-poor-will, I’m here.’ Very good, now on to our numbers, I mean creative writing.”
“Welcome to creative writing, young ladies and gentlemen. This is supposed to be a fun class, so let’s make it that way. What is creative writing, anyone know? Yes, Patsy Ann.” “I think it is writing whatever you want with no rules.” “Very good. You are onto the idea. Anyone else know what it is to creatively write?” “Its, well, ya know, easy writing. You don’t even need to know how to spell,” said Pinky Dee. “Well, you do need to know how to spell, but we do leave something out. Anyone know?” “I know, ma’am. Don’t need to use any puntruation.” “I think you mean punctuation, Johnny Lee. “Tank, what do you know about writing?” “Nothin’. Don’t care to write.” Mrs. Whippoorwill thinking to herself…What a pity. He really doesn’t know how to write. I wonder if there are others. It’s probably because they never learned their numbers. But I can’t teach math in here. We will start with basics, vocabulary and writing a sentence. It’s got to be simple. I do not want to embarrass this young boy or anyone else.
“Let’s see. Writing with no rules. Easy writing. Yes, punctuation is used. What else is there about creative writing that’s different from standard English?” “I think you kinda write without complete words. Instead of going, it’s goin’ ,” said Butch. “Yes Butch, incomplete words can be used, but I prefer complete words. How about you, Jolene?” “Mama never taught us much about writin’, but I wanna learn it. I don’t know English very well.” “You will learn how to write well in here. I think creative writing allows us to start writing without the rules and we apply them later. You’ll see.” “I’m looking for that baby face. Baby Face, show your face. There you are. What is the main thing that is really different about creative writing?” “I know because my Gramma writes in her own style. She said it’s a free style of writing. Just let the thoughts flow into your mind, then write them down on paper.” “You have just identified the main approach to creative writing. It is the free flow of thoughts and ideas inside your head. Then you write them down. Awesome, Baby Face.”
“Let’s give it a try. We will do a sentence together. Here’s a word to start-zebra. We will write about zebras. Just relax and imagine a herd of zebras running across a field. Anyone know what a zebra is?” “It’s a white horse with striped pajamas,” said Patsy Ann laughingly. “A zebra is not a horse, it’s a zebra. A completely different herd,” said Johnny Lee. “Where can zebras be found? I see your hand, Pinky Dee. Go ahead.” “In the Zebrarama. The zebra ranch.” “I know Mrs. Whip-whip-whip-poor-will. In Africa. I’ve seen them on TV. There are lots of them there. All running free,” said Tank. “Yes indeed, running free across Africa. Okay, Baby Face, wrap it up for us.” “Zebras live free and run across Africa.”
“What have we learned today? A sentence. What is it?” All say “Zebras Across Africa.”
We’re not just housecats. We were lions once!
“Here comes Rex. He thinks he’s king of the hill, but he is no king. A regal name, but the title doesn’t fit him,” said Pete, the cat. Pete goes on to say to Repeat, the other cat, “A lot more of us, cats, here than dogs. So cats should rule.” “Yeah, cats rule!” said Repeat.
Pete and Repeat have been part of the household for a very long time. They are two chubby black cats with yellow marbled eyes. They look exactly alike. Thus, their names, Pete and Repeat.
Rex, a stately and sturdy golden retriever. He is a very regal looking dog with a golden coat that just glistens in the sun. Rex sets the standard of pedigree and most dogs look up to him. He is a leader, for his proud stature defines him as such. A proud and stately dog.
One thing about dogs and cats, most of them don’t get along. Dogs don’t like cats and cats could care less about dogs. Dogs tend to be more sociable because they like to run with the pack. Cats are a bit more independent and can live alone, if necessary. But cats can be social, but usually only with other cats. Will Pete and Repeat allow Rex to share their space? Can Rex give up some of his dominant behavior to get along with Pete and Repeat? Let’s just watch how all this plays out. There will be rivalry, no doubt about it.
Rex is new to the household and is claiming his throne. Rex to Pete and Repeat “I’m king of this house. I rule this place. I’m top dog. I am the boss and don’t you forget it.” Pete to Rex “You’re not the boss and you are not over us. We were here first. We are the favored pets and don’t you forget that, too.”
“I know it’s hard for you lazy housecats to submit to my reign, but you must, otherwise you will be deported. Not abroad, but to the local pound which is only a phone call away,” said Rex in a delightful yet threatening tone of voice. “It’s either shape up or ship out.”
Rex to Pete and Repeat “The reason I am king is because I have purpose. I’m the watch dog. That makes me the top dog. I do somethin’, but you lazy cats do nothin’. Well this is exactly how I see you two cats…” Pete said quietly to Repeat “Here come the insults and the put downs. Don’t say anything. I’ll handle this first round.”
“Hey, lazy housecats, anything going on? Probably not, all you do is laze around all day long doing nothin’.” Pete to Rex “We do have somethin’ to do. Nothin’! That’s what us housecats do is nothin’. Our purpose is to be lazy, do nothin’ house cats. Nothin’ more.”
Rex to Pete “I am of the highest breed. We, retrievers, are smarter than most other dogs. Certainly smarter than any cat. I’m one smart dog and you’re two dumb cats. Look at you two. Dumb and Dumber. Maybe too dumb to learn anything, but I’ll give you a chance to prove yourselves, if you can.” Rex shaking his head and laughs out loud.
Pete to Rex “We are smart, too. We know how to hunt. It’s just our nature. We can survive alone if we need to. I have never seen you dogs do much alone. Always running with the pack. There are two of us and we are twice as smart as you. We were fierce cats at one time. We were lions once!”
Rex laughingly said “You two, lions once? Ha, ha , ha, ha, ha. I don’t think so. You’re fat and what happened to your roar? All I hear is meow, but no roar. Come on, roar for me lions once. Pete let’s here it from you first. Pete attempts “meow, roar, meow.” “So that’s your roar, what a fierce sounding cat. I bet all the mice are laughing too. They’re all running in fear from that ferocious roar. Come on, Pete, bellow it out. I’m waiting. Pete opens his mouth and “roar, roar, Roar, Roar!” ” Now, that sounds like a lion,” said Rex.
“Repeat, you’re up next. Come on, show me the lion in you.” Bashfully, Repeat sitting roars a roar like no other roar. Repeat loudly and fiercely bellows “Roar, Roar, ROAAAR!” “Now that’s a lion’s roar for sure. Repeat, you may be more lion than Pete. Sorry, Pete.”
“Just maybe you were lions once, but anybody can roar, even me. Just listen, this is my first time and no rehearsal. Ruff, Ruff, Roar, Ruff!” Now, Pete and Repeat are rolling on their backs and meowing a laugh or two. Pete to Rex “You are no king of the jungle. Only king of this house and nothin’ more.” “Yes, I am king here and don’t you two forget it.”
“Since I am king of the hill and now top dog, it’s my business to know everything going on around here. I’m the boss and things are gonna change around here. Both of you need to find somethin’ to do that is productive. Do you understand Peter?” “Yes, your highness.” “And you, Repeat?” “Yes, your almighty dog in the highest.” “You can laze the rest of the day, but tomorrow your lazy days will be over,” said with authority by Rex.
“Here’s a note pad. List four things that you can do around here. Two for each of you. Pete, since you’re the lead, Repeat will follow your instruction. A quick to do list will do. Have it in hand tomorrow. Pete said “Tomorrow, yes sir.” Repeat meekly said “Tomorrow, sir.” “See you then. I will be expecting an action plan that will change you two for the better. I know how comfortable you are doing nothin’, but I really think you both would be happier doing somethin’. Be at the kitchen table at eight a.m. sharp.”
“Rex, for sure, will be back tomorrow. He will continue with his insults. He likes to berate before praise, if there is any at all. Be ready for the insults and put downs. Just remember to repeat after me. Don’t say anything on your own, follow the script,” said Pete to Repeat.
“Repeat, this time we’re gonna try something new. It’s called ‘reverse psychology.’ We will affirm all of his insults, then pay him a compliment. Got it, Repeat?” “Yeah, but I don’t know if I can pay him a compliment after he puts us down.” Pete to Repeat “Agree to give it a try? “Okay, I’ll try,” said reluctantly by Repeat.
Here’s a probable dialogue. “Hey, lazy cats, doin’ anything today? Probably not, you’re just lazy, do nothin’ cats. You have no motivation. Just lazy housecats,” said Rex in a sarcastic manner of speaking. I will say, “You’re right. We are so lazy. Just do nothin’ housecats. We don’t know much, but I betcha you can teach us a thing or two about somethin’, for you are one wise dog.’ Somethin’ like that, Repeat. It strokes his ego.”
“Repeat, the strategy is this, he puts us down, we raise him up. For every negative, we respond with a positive statement about him.” “Pete, I really don’t understand the purpose of this approach.” “The purpose is to raise his self-esteem so high that he feels so important and caught up in his greatness, he will forget about us and leave us alone. That’s the plan. For the first few insults, we will agree with him with no compliments. But when I nod my head, our next response will be followed by a compliment.”
“Mornin, lazy cats. Got anything for me? Probably not. Dumber than dumb.” Pete tells Rex “We may be dumb, but we do have somethin’ to do.” “Well, what is it?” asks Rex. Pete said “We do nothin’. That’s our purpose. ” Repeat agrees and said “Our purpose, do nothin’.”
“You two should really be deported. Taken to the pound. Maybe some fool will come along and find you exotic. That you ain’t. You’re nothin’ but lazy housecats. Before I call the pound I’m gonna tell you both how I see you…” Pete whispers to Repeat “these will be the worst insults. Only repeat after me. It’s important not to react, but to stay calm. Got it, Repeat?” “Got it, Pete.”
“First of all, you’re just housecats.” “Rex, you are so right, just housecats,” said Pete. Repeat said “Yeah, only housecats.”
“You’re lazy housecats.” Pete says to Rex “Right you are, we’re lazy housecats.” Repeat to Rex “Lazy housecats.”
“Nothin’ but lazy, do nothin’ housecats.” “Right, again. We are lazy, do nothin’ housecats,” said Pete. Repeat agrees “We’re lazy, do nothin’ housecats.”
Here comes the worst insult. Pete nods his head at Repeat on how to respond with a compliment.
“Most of all, you’re lazy, do nothin’, free loadin’ housecats. You don’t earn your keep. Free lodging, free gourmet meals each day with a breakfast feast of fresh bowls of milk and Eggs Benedict. What more could a free-loadin’ cat get for free?” Repeat blurts out “Cat naps too and twice each day.” Rex says to the lazy cats “That tops it off. Nothin’ but free loadin’ housecats. You should be ashamed.”
Pete tells Rex ,”We are free-loadin’ housecats. We are ashamed. Maybe we can teach you how to become a free loadin’ housedog. Nothin’ to it. Do nothin’ and show up for the meals. But we are the ones that must change. Rex, noble and wise one, teach us lazy cats a lesson on how to be productive. We don’t know much, so teach us somethin’,” said Pete. Repeat echoes, “Teach us Rex, teach us.”
“You two are just worthless and useless. You have no value because you have nothin’ to give. Just maybe we can come up with somethin’ for you to do that will give you real purpose to your lives. Any ideas, my feline friends?” “Friends?” exclaimed Pete and Repeat. “Yes, friends, but I ain’t doing nothin’ for you once you learn how to do somethin’ worthwhile. You’ll feel better about yourselves. And I will be proud to know that you have changed your lives for the better, forever.”
Now your action plan. Rex to Pete, ” I’m gonna assign Max to you. He is one smart cat. He used to be minimal, but now he’s maximum. With his help, you will change for the better.”
“Repeat, you are too dependent on Pete. You repeat everything he says. You got a mind of your own. I have a very skilled trainer for you. Frieda is her name. Yes, a female cat. She specializes in building self-esteem. You need confidence. She will set you free from self- doubt. You will become self-assured and confident. I think that’s what you really want. She can help you to change. Just follow her instructions and you will do well.”
“I apologize for being so hard on you. I hate to see anyone with so much potential not doing anything to bring out the best in him. I believe you two have what it takes to change for the better.”
“I have something for each of you, a book. It’s a book written by me. Titled Changing for the Better. It’s only four chapters with one sentence on each page. Chapter One, ‘I want to change.’ Chapter Two, ‘I can change.’ Chapter Three, ‘I am changing.’ and Chapter Four, I have changed by life for the better.'”
“Lastly, I do believe you were lions once. One virtue most lions possess is courage. You both have it. You are intelligent. You are steadfast, and you are motivated. Yes, you were lions once. Even more, you are lion-hearted. Now that is something worthwhile with a purpose.”
“One last request, Pete. You think you can arrange an extra bowl for me at breakfast? I like cream. And most of all, I prefer a biscuit with red eye gravy. Can do?” “Will do,” said Pete. Repeat agrees “We’ll do it for you, our housedog friend.”
Port of Pascagoula, Mississippi
Aboard the SS Dolphin
New Delhi, India
As Julia Mae was leaving the church service one Sunday evening, she saw an attractive finely dressed couple sitting alone in the pew. He was dressed in a black captain’s attire with golden waves of the sea on his cuffs and across his captain’s hat. Both looked very exotic.
She was dressed in a beautiful silk gown. A dark bluish color with a pattern of soft blue waves woven into the fabric. Her gown was covered with a sheer chiffon midnight blue covering with a pattern of shimmering stars across it. The attire appeared to be glittering gold stars atop a deep blue sea. “Just stunning” thought Julia.
Julia acknowledged the couple with a genuine friendly smile. She said in her southern belle tone of voice, “I’m Julia.” “Visitors in town?”
“Yes, he said. We’re docked at the port. My ship is a freight liner. We’re here to deliver goods from the Far East.” Julia said “Are you from India?” “Yes, Julia, we are from India. New Delhi is our home when we are there, but most of the time we are at sea.”
“Well, welcome to town. I’m Julia. Actually, Julia Mae.” “I’m Ansee and this is my husband Nestor. He’s captain of our ship.” “Julia Mae, said Ansee, I just love your southern hospitality and we appreciate it.” “Julia Mae, you are a magnolia blossom. I just love your southern accent” said Ansee.
Julia said, “Well it’s how most of us sound around here. We do have some foreigners here, but mostly visitors from the port like you.” Julia to Ansee, “Any dinner plans?” “Not yet, Julia.” “Well, would you like to be my guests for dinner at my home? It will be a simple meal. I have some jambalaya.” Ansee said “I’ve heard of it. Crawfish pie, filet gumbo, me-oh-my-oh”
Julia continues “Red beans and rice and my famous southern potato salad.” “It’s hard to pass that up, Julia, but we must go. Next time, me-oh-my-oh.” said Nestor. Ansee to Julia “You are so gracious and thank you. We must decline, our ship leaves from port in early morn. A long journey back, across the sea, to our home in New Delhi.”
Ansee to Julia and looking at Nestor in agreement. “You know, Julia Mae, our dinner on board is at seven thirty. Thirty minutes from now. Would you join us?” Julia said “I would love to come aboard.”
Nestor says “all right, ladies, let’s go. We will all ride together. Our limousine is waiting outside.” Ansee to Julia “It’s not ours, but we like to travel in luxury when we are ashore. We are forever on that ship and need to touch the earth every once in awhile.” They both laugh. Driver opens the door for the two ladies, then Nestor enters the car.
En route to the port. Julia says “I have never ridden in a limousine before, this is very nice.” Nestor to Julia “It’s not ours, but when we are ashore, we like to ride in style.” Again, Ansee says “Julia, we are forever on that boat, we’ve got to touch solid ground. All we know is how to float!” They all laugh.
The limo pulls up at the dock. It’s still twilight and the ship is visible to the eye. Nestor says to Julia “We are the third ship berthed at the dock, see it?” Julia sees a large blue vessel. The name of the ship on the side of the bow reads “SS Dolphin” stenciled in gold and below it in an Indian language and Ansee interprets “Safe Voyage.” On the back of the ship, also in gold, is the vessel’s name “SS Dolphin” and directly under it “New Delhi, India.”
The Indian flag flies below the American flag. This is the protocol for all foreign vessels entering any U.S. port. It’s like their ship is a guest to America and certainly these folks, from their conversation with Julia, come in good will.
“Julia” said Nestor. “Our port city is actually Calcutta. New Delhi is quite a way from there. We have a small condo in Calcutta, near the port, so when we are ready sail, we are ready to go.” “Occasionally we get back to Delhi, but most of the time we are at sea” said Ansee.
The ship’s second captain, Jamal, wearing the traditional turban walks down the plank to the dock. Ansee says to Jamal “this is Julia Mae. She is our guest for dinner.” Jamal says to Julia “greetings and welcome aboard.” Jamal bows to Julia with his hands folded, then he rises back up saying in Hindi welcome.
Ansee to Julia “Fold your hands, bow and rise up with a southern greeting.” Julia bows and rises up and says “well, welcome you all.” Everyone laughs and then board the ship.
Jamal says “ladies, follow me.” They enter the captain’s quarters. Julia was just amazed with the fine decor. Paneled walls of cherry veneer with murals of the sea hand painted within frames in the wall. And, of course, the center mural was of dolphins rising up and down into the sea. Just spectacular!
The table was made of the finest teak and was covered with a linen tablecloth. On it’s four corners, the tablecloth was embroidered with dolphins and sea waves. The lighting above the table was a translucent chandelier made of Capiz shells with strings of clear beaded glass. Magnificent!
The center piece of the table was a tall squared sculptured glass vase of sea green which flared out at the lip with a bluish white foamy sea. The vase was filled with yellow roses, Ansee’s favorite rose. Surrounding the vase was an assortment of golden candles all aglow.
All are seated at the table. Julia seated first at the center. Then Ansee at one end and Nestor at the other end. The rest of the crew joined at the table as well. Nestor asks an Indian prayer and blessing. He said “Julia Mae, you are our friend and friends are friends forever.” He raises a crystal goblet and everyone raises their glasses as well. “A toast to you, Julia Mae.” All crystal clang in unison. Nestor to everyone “Have a seat and let’s enjoy our Indian feast.” All are seated.
As dinner went on, Julia compliments Ansee on her dress. “Your gown is so beautiful, Ansee.” “Julia it’s not a gown, but a sari. It’s a wrap. One piece of fabric, and this is silk, about 6 yards long. Julia, it fits all women, no matter what your figure. I have one for you.” “I don’t know, Ansee, it doesn’t seem to be me.” “It is you, Julia. Let’s choose one for you, I will wrap you and then you can make your debut.”
“Let’s go to my quarters and I’ll show you what I have.” Julia said “I can’t wait to see them all.” “Come on in, Julia. Here’s my closet. Take a look.” “Ah, so many of them and so exquisite.” “This one is perfect for you. See, it’s a pattern of red roses across a purple wrap of silk. Okay, let’s wrap you. Julia, now don’t be bashful. You must remove all your clothing except your lingerie. It’s just you and me. No one can get in here and you will look just stunning in it.” Julia hesitantly agrees.
“Now let me start. I’ve done this a thousand times. I’ll have you wrapped and covered in less than five minutes.” Both laugh. “You’re done, Julia. Let’s take a look.” “That’s me,” said Julia. “That’s you,” said Ansee. “Well, are you ready to make your debut, Julia?” Ansee further says “let’s go to the dining room.”
“Jamal, we are ready.” Jamal asks all to stand. Ansee leads the way followed by Julia. Ansee says “Everyone, presenting Julia Mae, this is her “Sari Night.” Everyone applauds and bows to Julia. Julia bows back gracefully with a beaming smile.” Nestor walks up to Julia and escorts her to the head of the table. All are seated for a light dessert of a saffron yogurt mousse. Coffee and tea are also served.
After dinner all bid farewell to Julia. All say “me-oh-my-oh!” Julia says back “me-oh-my-oh, y’all.” Everyone laughs and party is ended.
Nestor and Ansee escort Julia down to the dock with the limo waiting for her. Julia says “Ansee, I haven’t changed back into my clothes.” “No need to, Julia, this sari is yours to keep. I have your other clothes packed and they are already loaded in the trunk.”
“Oh, Ansee, that is so generous of you.” Nestor to Julia “Remember we are friends forever. Me-oh-my-oh.” Ansee says “yes, indeed, Julia, we are friends forever. Next time. Me-oh-my-oh! A hug a piece and Julia is escorted into the limousine, she waves and off they go their separate ways. “Me-oh-my-oh!”
“How long have you been a ninja?”
“My whole life,”said Vickey.
Customer responded, “Really?”
“Yup! My entire life. It all happened twenty-two years ago. I have birth parents. They knew there was something different about me. But couldn’t figure it out.”
“Mom and Dad witnessed my super human strength. When I was two, the family car had a flat along the highway. We had no spare, and the closest exit was five miles away, and nightfall was near. I told Dad I could fix it in a minute.”
“All I had to do was pull the nail and seal the tire with my laser sword. Then I used the super wind power of my lungs to blow air back into the tire. Just pulled off the valve, and inflated the tire to its exact PSI and off we go.”
“We had a burglar in the neighborhood for about a week. He had struck and robbed many households on the street. One night I saw his shadow near the window of a neighbor’s house. A street light gave him away. I approached the silhouetted figure. He could not see me.”
“I used my mind waves to zap him of his strength, and he fell to the ground. Simply used the power of my index finger to lift him up and threw him out front to the street. He ran off quickly and was rather confused. That’s what my mind power can do. As I told you, ninjas work by night. Again, I protect.”
“Does anybody here, at the gas station, know about you?”
“They don’t have a clue. Bill, the owner of this establishment, hired me as a clerk. He doesn’t know that I’ve been sent here to protect him for another reason. A recent break-in here, in the night, got me this assignment.”
“Who assigned you?”
“And who is your master?”
“I can never tell. Ninjas can never reveal their source.”
“What do you mean, source?”
“The source, man. You don’t get it. Only a ninja would know. This dude in line doesn’t even know it, but there are five ninjas, including me, surrounding him. He can’t see us. We stay in our shadows by day. We are protecting him for a reason. He is about to find out, here at this store, that he has just won the fifty million dollar lottery. He needs all the protection he can get. He must go into hiding. We must take him there.”
“Where is there?”
“You can’t tell me?”
“Let’s say it’s somewhere you have never been or seen. It’s a different place. A world of our own.”
“Are there others there like you?”
“Yes, many of us.”
“All ninjas and one master.”
“What is your mission?”
“As I said, it is to protect. There are ninjas around you, but you can’t see them.”
“We have to remain hidden. We are protecting you too.”
“Yes, we are.”
“Can you tell me why I need protection?”
“In time, you will know.”
“Soon, very soon. But, we are with you at all times. You are safe.”
“You said Bill, the owner, needs protection.”
“Everywhere Bill goes for the rest of his life, we will be in his shadow. Protecting him for a reason. The reason, I will reveal to you, but you must never tell Bill. He will be in a low-profile position, but in a very special role. He will be the only galactic receiver of intelligence from another world. Our world. The ninja world.”
“Can you tell where?”
“It’s somewhere out there.”
“We can never tell. He will know in time. Only he will ever know. Remember, our mission is always to protect.”
At the clubhouse, Champions Golf at Bluff Creek.
“Hey Howie, buddy, how are ya?”
“Good, Jamie. And you, buddy?”
“I’m good, Howie. A nice day to play the course.”
“I already trekked the green. I goofed today.”
“Goofed today?” said Jamie a bit puzzled.
“Yeah, I played golf,” said Howie.
Jamie replied, “Oh, you did goof today! Well, did you tee off?”
Howie to Jamie, “Of course, I made it that far. How was your game today?”
Jamie replied, “Always good. I made par. I aced the hole four times. How about you, Howie? Parred under one hundred yet? Last time, I remember your par was about one- twenty. Any better? Probably not. Try to get it under a hundred, if you ever can, Howie. Really, how is your game?”
“Well, I did a bogey on hole two.” “Not bad,” said Jamie. “What about the rest of them?”
Howie thought to himself, I’ll exaggerate about my game, just like Jamie and the rest of them off the green. A little bluff can’t hurt. They all do it. One thing I did do today, I got out of the sand trap in two strokes. Jamie doesn’t know it. Actually it took ten times, but he doesn’t need to know.
“Jamie, did you tear up any turf today? Leave any work for the maintenance crew?” “I never dig the earth, ever!” replied Jamie, a bit annoyed. “Me neither,” said Howie. “Oh really? How come, Howie, I seem divots everywhere after you play a hole?” “There’s gophers underneath. They can’t seem to get rid of them.”
“Howie, you’re doing good for a ‘lefty.'” “What do you mean, Jamie?” “You could use some lessons from a pro. But since you’re left-handed, I doubt you will ever find a left-handed pro. Just aren’t any around here. Check with the clubhouse manager, he may know of someone.”
“You know, Jamie, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson are both lefties. Phil won the Masters at least three times.” “Well, Howie, they both learned to play the game the right way and then switched over to the left. Howie, I doubt you will ever be able to learn how to play golf the right way. You’re just a ‘lefty.'” “How do you know that, Jamie?” “I just know.”
“Jamie, golf is a game you play on your own. It’s your game and you’re not competing against anyone, unless you’re a pro and playing for the big money.” “Howie, you will never play for the money. It takes years to become a pro, I know.” “Well, Jamie, has the PGA invited you to join?” “Not yet, but I’m hoping.”
“Howie, you will never see Augusta.” “Well, Jamie, I don’t see you putting on a green jacket ever. By the way, I have been to Augusta. The most beautiful green I’ve ever seen and so many azaleas. Jamie, when you’re at the Masters, you just feel the greatness of all the pros who have won there. Arnie, Jack, Tiger and Phil. The excitement is just electric. What a thrill! Arnold got jackets. Nicklaus got several of them, and so did Tiger. Phil got three of them, and Bubba just got his second one. He’s a southpaw and always makes par. Just had to say it again. Nothing like Augusta.”
“Well, Howie, I gotta go. Glad you had a better game today. One day you will play golf, but until then, you’ll just goof along.” “Jamie, I know you will never admit it, but I betcha you played goof for awhile and then became pro, now that you are a real golfer.” “Never goofed!” “You’re a bluff, Jamie!” “I bet you are too, Howie.” “Aren’t we all, Jamie? All of us at Bluff Creek.” “I’ll never say, Howie.” “No one will, Jamie. It’s a ‘green code of silence.'” Both exchange smiles and winks.
“Howie, next time at the club? I expect to see you here.” “Jamie, I know I’ll see you here. You’re such a champ. I idolize you.” “Now, you’re talking the right talk, Howie.” They both laugh. “See ya, Jamie.” “You too, Howie.”
By the way, Jamie and I are friends outside of golf. I like him better there. We are buddies, I think?
Goof or golf. Whatever you call it, its just a game, but it’s always par for the course. Even if you fib a little about it. That’s what Bluff Creek is all about, a bluff club.
Giovanni Vanelli, Proprietor Established 1799, Genoa, Italy Brooklyn, New York “I can fixa dat shoe.”
“Papa Giovanni, I got a blow out. Can you patch?” said Leonardo in an excited tone of voice. Leo continues, “I was running the court, my sole came apart. I fell, so I was pulled out of the game. Basketball is my game, you know. I need to get back in a flash. I’m the star player. I slam dunk more than the others. Please hurry, Papa.”
“Calm down, Leo. I have to do a diagnostic. If it’s fixable, I will fix it for free,” said Giovanni as he looked closely at the shoe through his spectacles along with a magnifying glass. “I see this is one of those high tech designer shoes. They don’t hold up and not worth the money. Okay, one is fine, the other is totaled. So, I can’t fixa dat shoe. But, no time to waste, here’s another pair just like them. They’ll hold up till you win that game. Good luck!”
“Ooh, la, la. Look what’s coming here.” Store door is pushed open and the door bells jingle. “Good morning, sir. I have one shoe that needs a quick fix. The bow came off and needs to be reattached. Can you fix? I need to make it to brunch in the Village in an hour. Pardon me, Mr. Vanelli, I’m so preoccupied with the time and the brunch, I’m Annalise.” “Pleased to meet you, Annalise. You can call me Gino. Let me do a quick diagnostic. Yup, I see the problem. I can fixa dat shoe. Just give me five minutes.” It’s understandable why this woman caught his eye. She is very attractive. Tall and slender with sparkling blue eyes. A blonde, always a plus to men, and so stylish. She is fashionably dressed in a sea green linen jacket and slacks. A pink necklace of small fan shells separated by a small golden bead between each. And, of course, very high style flats of the finest shell pink leather. The shoes are high class. The finest in Italian footwear. Salvatore’s for sure.
“Annalise. This is a very fine shoe. All Italian. I just fixa da shoe. Ready to go,” said Giovanni as he does a diagnostic on this fine woman. “Thank you, Gino. How much, please?” “Nothing for you. A lady of class to come in here with this fine footwear gets it for free. Plus, I like your personality. Enjoy your brunch.” Annalise leaves out the door and bells ring. He continues to do a diagnostic on Annalise as she returns to her car. “I hope she comes back and tells her well to do friends about me. What a morning. She made my day. Glad to fixa dat shoe.”
“Good a mornin, fine sir. What can I do for you?” “Embarrassed to say, I have no shoes, do you have a worn pair you can give to me?” The gentleman with hair out of sorts and appears very disheveled. “I see, no shoes. Come right in. I fixa you right up. Foist, let me make ah you a hot cup of expresso. Here, enjoy. Now, I make ah you the finest Genoan salami sandwich. Here. Hot and pressed and the best from Italy. Your name, sir?”
“I’m Giuseppe. I have no home and I have no work. I do have a trade. Like you, I am a cobbler.” “Hmm, ya know, I think I can use you here. You can do some basic repairs and keep track of the orders. Will you do?” “Gladly, thank you, Giovanni. When do I start?” “Right after that salami sandwich,” said Gino in a playful way with a laugh. “Also, three things you must always do. Greet the customer. Then say ‘I can fixa dat shoe,’ and ‘let me do a diagnostic.’ Remember we are professionals and take pride in our trade. Got it?” said Giovanni looking directly into Giuseppe’s eyes. A little serious, but instructive of how the business is run. “I got it, Gino. Thanks for the chance to prove myself and to gain back some self respect which I lost.” “You are on your way to happiness, I will fixa you and Mamma will fixa you, too. She’s been my love for forty five years. She’s Genoan and I’m Sicilian. We lived in Genoa for years. I was known as the ‘Cobbler of Genoa.’ We came here with an invite from family. They made us feel at home and Brooklyn is our home now. Grab an apron and let’s get started,” said Giovanni with a smile and eager to perform his trade, ‘fixa da shoes.’
Door bells jingle. Giuseppe said, “Good a mornin. I can fixa dat shoe.” The lady laughs and said, “I’m his old lady, Ivanna. I’ve been trying to fixa him for years, but it’s never worked. So we live together in peace and harmony. He stays here and I stay at home,” she laughs with a smile. “Now, stop it, Ivanna. We have work to do. Giuseppe is my new assistant. He’s a cobbler, too. Somehow related to you. His heart always goes back to Genoa. So, let us be. What time is dinnah? Add a plate for Giuseppe. We will treat him like family.”
One last customer for the day. The door is pushed open and the door bells jingle. “Liza, how good to see you. What can I do for you? By the way, this is my new assistant, Giuseppe. He’s a cobbler, too. Now, two in Brooklyn.” “Gino, I need a used pair of baby shoes. My third grand child, a girl, is nearly a year old and I’m on a budget. I figured you had a lot of them after the children grow out of them,” said Liza with anticipation. “I see you have a Snoberiche shopping bag. What expensive shoes did you buy for yourself today? I know you women all like Italian. I won’t ask how much, but you paid too much.”
Giovanni thinking to himself…I can’t believe it. Used shoes for her grande bambino. Shame on her. I know just the thing to get her to change her mind. And she will.
“Liza, I have a basket of baby shoes for you to see. All worn, torn and dirty. Not really fixable. A new and sturdy pair is what a baby needs. Remember, the best shoes for a correct walk for the rest of her life. Do you really want these? I can never, out of good conscience, fix or sell these shoes to anyone. Here’s a coupon to ‘Baby Feet,’ just two doors down. Andrea will fit the shoes good, but you must bring bambino with you to get a proper fit.” “Thank you, Giovanni, you have convinced me. Arrivederci, Gino, and to you Giuseppe.”
“Well, Giuseppe. Day is done. Lock the door and close the blinds. One last thing. You need a place to live. Let me call my cousin Marco, he owns the block and the rentals across the street. I’m sure he has one for you. Remember, you are family.” “Cousin Marco, how are ya? Cousin Giovanni, here. Never heard of me? I’m your cousin, our papas are brothers. All from Sicily. I have a favor to ask of you. I need a place for a cousin to live. Yes, he is family. Do you have a rental across the street? His name? Giuseppe. Never heard of him? Doesn’t sound Sicilian? He’s Genoan, on Mamma’s side of the family. That doesn’t count? He is blood. You can trust me. You will? Yes, I will tell him to behave himself and if he doesn’t you will be around to see him. Thank you, cousin.” “You have a place to live. Now, dinnah is on the table. Always remember, you are family. Don’t need Marco upset. He runs the family business. Now let me hear that line once more, please.”
Giuseppe said “I can fixa dat shoe. And, I need to do a diagnostic.” “Great, Mamma should have table set and an Italian feast waits for us.” “Hello, Gino and Giuseppe. Dinnah’s on the table. Have a seat.” “These are salami sandwiches. Is that all?” “That’s all, the best of Genoa. You fixa da shoes. I fixa da dinnah. We are family.”
From the Palette of Life.
You know, we all paint stories every day. We write our days in what we say. Every day we tell a story about our day. We talk about our days every day.
Days of our lives…
“Donnie, Marie, out of bed. Oatmeal on table. Eat it fast and don’t complain. Let’s go, time can’t wait. We’re late. No time to waste. Hurry along!” “Yes, Mom.”
“Ben, have a great day. Please don’t forget to pick up the pizzas, as I told you. One for you and one for me. One for the kids and one for the dog. Need a note? I’m not cooking. My night off. And don’t be late. Love you dear” said Lorraine.
“Mornin, Joe. I’ll have two loaves of French bread buttered across the top.” “Yes ma’am, Joyce. Just as you like.” “Also a half gallon of the seafood gumbo.” “Good taste, lady. Anything else?” “Just hurry, Joe, gotta go.” “Have a good day.”
“We have a new sales goal to meet. See, on the chart, we’re down for the month. Sales better be up next month, if you know what I mean. Get with it, said Bill, sales manager of Brooms n’ Mops.”
“I thought I left early enough for work. Never expected this. Why are the Shriners taking up collection during rush hour? This is just unbelievable. There’s another bunch across the way collecting, so they say, for their worthy causes. Such cons! Lou is not having a good day.
You know, these days don’t paint a perfect picture. Just think what our days could be? Maybe, just maybe, we can write a better picture of our days. Let’s see. Let’s try.
“Wonderful, children. Thanks for being up and ready for a new day.” “Yes, mom, we are so excited.” “Wonderful, kids. Did you eat? Oatmeal always warms your heart.” “Mom, you’re wonderful, too. There’s no mom like our mom.” “Its’ going to be a delightful day” said mother with a smile.
“Thanks, Ben, you really are a sweetheart for doing dinner for me. Now, remember, four pizzas. One for you and one for me. One for the kids and one for the dog. I can tell you won’t forget. Mmm, the supreme pizzas smell like Italy. I am delighted. Here come the kids and here comes Hugo.”
Joyce to Mr. Drew “It’s a great day to be alive. Let’s savor every moment. You agree?” “I agree. Now, how may I help you?” “I’ll have the New Orleans gumbo and two hot and buttered fresh loaves of bread.” “Okay, there you go, ma’am.” “Joe, you are so polite and such a gentleman. It’s a wonderful day, wouldn’t you agree?” “I agree. Be on your way, Joyce. I mean, have a great day.” “Next?”
“Team, in advance, let me thank you for going over the top. Our sales are up and we have our jobs for one more month. I couldn’t be more pleased.” Bill said in a warm and friendly voice.
“I’m so glad I left an hour early. It really makes a difference. I have a new attitude. I really admire the Shriners for doing it for the kids. Don’t mind the delay at all. Lou, a happy man today.
Which painting do you prefer? A broken frame or a perfect portrait? A broken frame makes a miserable day with rattled nerves throughout the day. But a portrait can make a delightful day, although it’s not a perfect day. It depends on the painting you write.
Remember, we write our days in what we say. We paint it all in what we write.
We live in a crazy world. The demands of daily life can become too much to handle, at times. Meeting the needs of family and home, managing an increased work load, and doing more for less in less time. So, what do you do? Fight? Deal with it and become more time efficient. Accept it as a challenge and become turbo-charged with energy to handle it. Flight? Just ignore it and pretend it will go away, which it won’t do. Go run and hide. Flee the scene. So, if you don’t fight, you don’t flee, and the pressure is on, what else is there to do? Go Bonkers. Yes, go crazy. That way you won’t have to accept responsibility for anything in your life. We all get served a daily plate of crazy every once in awhile. There are better ways to handle it. There are options. Thus the creation of a new game show, “A Daily Plate of Crazy.”
Studio C at Television Central. Commotion is stirring, the chatter of the audience, movement of cameras and crew on the set, contestants are set in place and the host is checked for appearance and is instructed by the director to follow his cues and to speak from the script as it rolls through the teleprompter. One last sound check. Director turns to producer with thumbs up. Ten seconds to live, five, three, one. Live. The set becomes flooded with light. The music begins with a lively dixieland sound of brass and clarinet, along with a rousing rendition in song of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” sung as “Crazy Days Are Here Again.”
The studio audience joins in song with clapping and shouts of “crazy” and “bonkers.” Then continue with “fight, flight, go bonkers!” “Fight, flight, go bonkers!” Enters onto stage, our most bonkerous host, Crazy McSane. Short and rotund, his face covered with a wash of white paint with large arched brows. His lips are large and red. An accentuated red bulbous nose. Two bolts of hair each side his head. He’s dressed in red checkered baggy pants with a purple jacket adorned with shimmering orange sequined petals. A glittering silver bow tie around his neck. Yes, Crazy is a clown. He knows a lot about life and has been served many daily plates of crazy. Crazy knows crazy and handles it well. Ready to play? No? Well, then sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Maybe you’ll be the next contestant on “A Daily Plate of Crazy.”
Crazy McSane walks out to the audience waves and takes bows, he walks back to the set and greets his contestants with a hand shake. Balloons drop and confetti falls, the show is on and now it’s time to play the game. Crazy steps up to his podium and speaks out with joy to the studio audience and directly into the camera to viewers at home. “Welcome, interrupted by applause, welcome to the debut of ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.’ It is such an honor, and I am thrilled to be a part of something that I hold so dear to my heart. This show is about me. It’s about you. We all have challenges we face every day in our lives. Some are simple and easy to handle, but others, not so easy. ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy,’ is a game about fight or flight. This is a simple game. Three choices for each challenge. Fight, flight, or go bonkers. I added bonkers for comic relief and to give us an out just in case we feel that we are unable to handle the challenge. And that’s okay. We’re here to learn. Not in competition, but to help and support one another. So that’s the basics of the game. We’ll start right after this break. Stay tuned, we’ll be right back.”
“Welcome back to ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.’ Now, let’s meet our contestants. Number one, your name, I see, is Zeenee. Tell us about yourself.” “Yes, I’m Zeenee. I’m from Barbados. I’m here to learn bravery.” “Number two, about you, sir.” “I’m John Rosenthal. Retired! Well, from the metal works business. Ornamental iron was my specialty. New Orleans is my home. My wife sent me here. She said I needed to be here.” “Okay, number two, you can learn to be brave, too.” “And number three, tell us about yourself, young lad.” “My name is Randy Lee. I’ve been wanting to get on a game show for a long time. Some of these big time shows you have to audition, I never got the chance. Too many others smarter than me, I guess. But, I’m here now.” “Well, it’s about time, Randy Lee. You already have something that many people lack, you have persistence. You’ve heard the expression, ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ I can tell, already, that you have fight and certainly not flight. Welcome all and good luck to each of you. Almost forgot, yes this is a game and you do play to win. We play to learn, but you do win a prize. Each of you have already won a tin of cookies and can win an additional tin for each challenge you are able to handle. Right after this short break, we will begin to play ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.'”
“Okay, folks, this is the moment. Contestants, there are three rounds of play. Each round has one plate of crazy. Each plate has one challenge. Each player has three choices to the challenge. Fight, accept the challenge and play. Flight, refuse the challenge and not play. Lastly, may choose to go bonkers. The purpose of this game is to try to fight and handle the challenge. Try to avoid going bonkers for this removes you from the round of play. If the pressure becomes too much, then press the bonkers button. In front of each of you are three colored buttons. Green for fight. Yellow for flight. Red for bonkers. Also, each of you have a mouse to use as a pointer to make a selection to answer the challenge question. Let’s go through a trial play. Number one, let’s give it a try, okay? This will certainly be your time to be brave. You will do well. Okay, in front of you, Zeenee, you see a blue plate marked ‘plate of crazy.’ I will ask you, do you want to be served? You must say, yes, I want to be served. Then I will open the plate and it will reveal the challenge. Then you will make your choice to fight, flight, or go bonkers. Got it?” “I got it,” said Zeenee.
“Let’s play ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.’ Number one, do you want to be served?” “Yes, I want to be served.” “The plate is now opened. Read your challenge, you have ten seconds to respond.” Which must you do now? Change the baby’s diaper. Wipe up spilled milk. Take the dog for a walk. You have five seconds, make a choice. Zeenee pressed green button to fight and to accept the challenge. “Now, use your pointer to select what you think you must do now.” Zeenee points and clicks on change the baby’s diaper. Smiley face appears. “You are correct. You just handled a daily plate of crazy. Congratulations,” said Crazy with a smile as he hands Zeenee another tin of cookies.
“Way down yonder in New Orleens…ready to play ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy?'” “I think I am crazy. Oh, I mean, I think I am ready, Crazy.” “Don’t worry about it , metal man. Let’s do a trial play.” “Number two, do you want to be served?” “Yes, I want to be served.” “The plate is now opened. Read your challenge, you have ten seconds to respond.” You’re late for work. It will take you thirty minutes to get there. The client will be there in forty five minutes. This will be a big sale for you. You can’t find your reading glasses. What must you do? Look for them. Go directly to work. Walk the dog. You have fifteen minutes to spare. You have five seconds, make a choice. John pressed the green button to fight and to accept the challenge. “Now, use your pointer to select what you must do.” John quickly clicks on go directly to work. Smiley face appears. “You are correct, iron man. You just handled a daily plate of crazy,” said Crazy with a smile and with an iron grip of a hand shake and John gets another tin of cookies.
“One last trial and that’ll be you, Randy Lee. Ready to play ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy?” “You bet I am, Mr. Crazy.” “Number three, do you want to be served?” “Yes, I want to be served.” “The plate is now opened. Read your challenge, you have ten seconds to respond.” There has been a change in the school bus schedule for the new year. Due to a reduction in personnel, one bus driver must handle two routes. A pick up at seven a.m. to arrive at school at eight a.m. A second pick up at eight thirty a.m. with arrival at school at nine a.m. Mom is not able to pick you up after school today. Your first class starts at nine a.m. today, what do you do? Have Mom drop me off at school. Take the second bus to school. Walk the dog. You have five seconds, make a choice. Randy Lee slams the green button to fight and to accept the challenge. “Now, use your pointer to select what you must do.” Randy Lee thinking to himself, Maybe Mom could drop me off and I’ll ride the bus home. I’m not going to walk the dog. I much rather ride the bus than walk two miles to school. My first class is science and I can’t wait to discover new things. Randy Lee points, then clicks take the second bus to school. Smiley face appears. “Randy Lee, you are correct, you made the right choice. Congratulations,” said Mr. Crazy as Randy Lee reaches for his tin of cookies.
“I want to say thanks and congratulations to each of our players. All three chose to fight and to accept the challenge of a daily plate of crazy. And none of them have gone bonkers! I would also like to thank everyone involved in the production of this new game show. A lot of thought, time and energy were spent on it’s development from an idea into a game format that is easy to follow and enjoyable to play. Studio audience, you are the greatest. And viewers at home, thank you for watching and hope to seen you soon on the next ‘A Daily Plate of Crazy.’ Til then, bonkers!”
A Nickel and a Dime.
I found a nickel on the ground. Tarnished and covered with dirt and grime. I know not where it came, but it was found by me. Finders, keepers.
A little blonde haired, blue eyed girl approaches a wrinkle-faced man. “Mister, did you find my nickel? It was there, over there. I need it back for me to keep. Finders, keepers.”
“Little girl, here’s your nickel, but you can’t keep it. You must pass it on. It’s meant to travel. Leave it somewhere for someone else to find.”
“But, it’s my nickel. I do not want to give it away. It goes with two others and that makes three. Fifteen cents. I need one dime more, then I will spend it for an ice cream cone.” The wrinkle-faced man said, “So, it’s for an ice cream cone. What’s your flavor?” “Fudge Ripple. A ribbon of chocolate all throughout. Just what a little girl needs.”
Wrinkle-faced man says, “Little girl, ribbons of chocolate for you to eat? I thought ribbons were for little girl curls. Once nickels are spent, you have no more.” “Okay with me. It’s just what I wanted. The delight of chocolate within my soul. Mmm, the taste of it all. Now, give me a dime for ribbons of swirl.”
The wrinkle-faced man said, “Again, little girl, it’s not for you to keep. You must pass it along for someone else to keep.” “Someone else to keep and not me?” “Yes, that’s where it must go. It’s not meant for you to keep.” “That’s not fair, I won’t let it go. It’s mine. Finders, keepers.”
“You may not know this, little blue eyed girl, but it has been said, once you find a nickel and pass it on , another may come your way. Maybe two.” The little girl said, “Really? I need a dime then. That will make it two nickels plus three nickels, enough for my ice cream cone.”
“Well, here’s a dime. I found it, too. But you can’t keep it. It always travels with the nickel.” Little girl said, “But it can’t go, I need it for me. I want it now, please.”
The wrinkle-faced man said, “It seems hard for you to let things go. You want to hold on to the nickel and dime as if your life depended on them.” “Please, no, I can’t let it go. What will I do without my nickel and dime?” “Well, what can you do without the nickel and the dime?” “Nothing at all. No ice cream cone, for sure.”
The smiling wrinkle-faced man said, “You know, an ice cream cone can come to you.” “Really, how?” “All you need do is ask for it. No nickel or dime needed.” The little blonde haired, blue eyed girl smiles and says, “May I have my ice cream cone, please.” The wrinkle-faced man said, “Yes, here it is for you. Double scooped with swirls and ribbons of chocolate just as you like. Enjoy your ice cream cone, just for the asking.”
Moral of story: sometimes you have to ask for what you need. No need to hang on to a nickel and a dime. All you need do is ask. Now, how about an ice cream cone?
Pause for a moment and just enjoy. Savor the moment. Savor the flavor of life. Enjoy the flavor of something as much as you can by eating or drinking it slowly. I sipped my coffee, savoring every mouthful. Tasted so good.
Jason in his tee, shorts and slippers eases back in his chair to enjoy the moment of a new day. “I enjoy my time on the deck savoring the sunrise. The birds begin to chirp. I hear them, do you hear? There’s a lark that sings every morning for me. The sparrows jump from limb to limb, then they perch on the fence to begin a new day, you see them? A blue jay, with feathers of blue and white, just dropped down to the ground. He is already attacking the cat. He does this every day. A mockingbird is rustling through the leaves and brush on the ground, do you see it? Take a look, John. Here’s my binoculars. Look up there. A bluebird, another one, sings a song to me. I’m a bird watcher. This is my morning delight.”
John replied, “I hear them. I see them. Never noticed before. I’m out the door in a rush. Never take the time to slow down. Marie is good to me, but she gets in the way. I don’t have time for her. She wants me to embrace her for a moment. I’ve done it. She gets so emotional. I don’t have time for her nonsense.”
Jason thinking to himself, He’s married to his work. That’s all he does, work. I’m sure she has thought about…well I won’t say it. A woman needs tender loving care.
“Well, I’ve got to go, Jase. The bird show was interesting. You’re retired. The way things are going, I’ll never retire. I hope you and Edith have time to savor the moment,” said John with a wink as he left out the door.
“Here darling, fresh cinnamon twirls right out of the oven. Iced and buttered just for my man. Enjoy, savor the flavor,” said Edith. “Maybe later to have and to hold?” said Jason. “Maybe later,” said Edith with a smile.
Rap, rap, rap. “Well, what a surprise. How are you today, Marie?” “I just made this peppered omelet, It’s still hot. Would you like it? It was for John. As you know, he’s always in a hurry going somewhere, but really nowhere with us. No appreciation whatsoever. He doesn’t savor the moment,” said Marie.
“Have a seat, my friend. You and I can enjoy the omelet. I’ll cut it in half. Coffee? It’s hazelnut. Love the taste. I savor every sip. Here you go, dear. And fresh fruit, chilled from the fridge. Apples and oranges. Like? “Indeed, I do.” “How about one of each? Have your pick. Fresh from the market,” said Edith holding the bowl for Marie to choose.
“Let’s see, a Washington State, and a sunshine orange from the groves of Florida. Nothing like them,” said Marie. “Yes, indeed. Only the best for you. You said Washington, then you’ll have Washington. Florida citrus is the best. Have a little sunshine.” Edith thinking to herself, Actually, these are from Pennsylvania and California. Amish country and Pleasant Valley Ranch. Both organic. The very best. Glad I noticed and removed the small oval labels. One with Amish on the apple, and the orange labeled California. She won’t know the difference. But she will taste the difference.
“Marie, just thinking, there is a solution. It worked with Jason after he retired. He was so grumpy and restless. All of a sudden he was doing nothing, where he was doing something. He worked all the time, just like John. But I found a way to soften him up. See on this sheet, chocolate chips. One hard, the other soft. How did I turn a hard cookie into a soft cookie? It has to do with the ingredients. For a hard cookie, add extra flour. It stiffens the dough. A double dose of brown sugar will make a soft and chewy cookie. It depends on which you prefer.”
“Hmm, you think I can make John into a soft cookie?” “Yes you can. Add extra sugar and he will melt in your hand. Here’a what you do, simply pamper him. If he comes home stressed, draw a pleasant warm shower for him. Give him time and let him savor his shower. When he steps out, be there for him. Have a soft towel for him. Next ingredient, pat him dry. We may be moving a little fast with this recipe. Just hand him the towel. Later, you can pat him dry. Savor the moment with him. He will begin to like it.”
“Edie, you are so inventive. Thank you for the recipe.” “You will notice the difference in him and he will feel the difference. Give him time to soften up. Don’t want to rush, let him enjoy the moment with himself. We all need that time. That’s what I did and Jason is a new man. One last thing that is universal about men, feed them well. The way to their hearts is how much sugar you add to the dough. Sweeten him up for a flavor to savor. He will savor the flavor with you.”
The Docks at Hidden Inlet.
“Hey, Fred. We have a new boat at the dock. Have you seen it? Looks weathered, but a sturdy vessel. All white and trimmed in marine blue. I couldn’t read it’s name. Just about faded away,” said Marco.
“Just saw it this morn. I was at the dock getting ready for my next trawl, then I saw him and I met him. Well, sort of. I said hello with a smile. He said opa in a grumpy sound of voice. He went on about his business washing his deck and pushing around some crates with all types of grunts. He looked a bit weathered, like his boat. Yeah, weathered, that’s what we are. We have weathered many a storm. Heard his name is Angelo. Also known as ‘ the Greek.’ The name of his boat is the ‘Athena.'”
“Describe Angelo to me, Fred.” “He is short and stocky. His hair is grayed, and so is his beard. He is very tanned and burly chested. A very robust and solid man. He wears a torn shirt, dirty baggy pants, and dark blue rubber boots. He wears a cap, it’s black with no bill, but a visor. There’s a black braid between the visor and the top of his cap. He sees with rounded spectacles. One lens is cracked. He has a distinct belly. Most of us do. And yes, he smells like fish. I said to him with a smile, ‘ You’re new here. Must know how to fish. I’m Fred, the friendly fisherman.’ He glared at me and said opa again. Not friendly at all. What did I do wrong, Marco?”
“You did nothing wrong. Fred. Just being your friendly self. So, the boat is named ‘Athena?’ That’s Greek. She was a Greek goddess. It means divine wisdom. He probably originated from the Greek islands. You know about Athens, don’t you?” said Marco. “You bet I do. Once a ‘dawgs’ fan, always a ‘dawgs’ fan. I already feel a chill in the air,” said Fred. “No Fred, you knucklehead. Athens in Georgia is named for Athens in Greece. Look at the globe. We are here and Greece is all the way around here,” said Marco. Fred replied, “Just about around the world. Learn something new every day. I just knew there had to be Bulldog fans elsewhere. Just knew it.” “This ‘Angelo the Greek’ knows something. Let’s watch him and see what catch he brings to the docks tomorrow morning. Maybe there’s more to know about him than opa,” said Marco. Both laughed.
The next morning at the docks. “Well, how’d you do, Fred?” “Well, you see it. Not too much. And you, Marco, a bounty of a catch?” said Fred. “Nope, nothing but a few crabs and some trash fish.”
Marco sees in the distance another boat coming to dock. “I think it’s ‘the Greek.’ The ‘Athena’ moves closer into the inlet. “It’s Angelo and just look at his nets. About to burst with fish on both sides. He certainly is doing something the rest of us aren’t doing. We’ve got to find out.”
“I see he has a crew with him. A young, tanned, musculared torso, and slender waisted man tending to the nets. And there is a beautiful young woman,” said Marco. “What do women know about fishing?” said Fred. “They know more than you think, Fred. Fishing with the Greeks is a family effort. It’s their livelihood. They all fish. Let’s greet them and congratulate them on their catch,” said Marco.
The well tanned young man, ties the boat to the dock. “Good Mornin, said Marco, what a catch!” “Absolutely sirs, a beautiful day. It’s an ‘opa of a day.’ You fellas going out tonight? Pappa said today is the day to drop our nets. He always knows. Gentlemen, pardon me, I’m Theo, and come on out, sis. This is Thena. My kid sister. I’m first mate and she is second mate.” Thena says playfully and with spunk, “I may be second mate, but I’m not second rate. I am a Greek woman and the best fisherman on this boat, and Pappa knows it.” All laugh. “Your names, sirs?” said Theo with a smile and his long wavy black hair blowing in the breeze. “I’m Fred. Fred Friendly.” “I’m Marco. Marco Polo.” “Oh, you really know how to navigate the seas.” “Well my ancestors did, but not me. But I am proud of my heritage.” Theo to Marco, “You should be. You’ll see how proud Pappa is of his Greek ancestry. A proud man.”
“Hey, Pappa, come around to this side at the dock. I have some gentlemen for you to meet. They are fishermen, too.” Pappa comes around to dock and eyes Fred. Pappa thinks to himself, I see the so called ‘friendly fisherman.’ I can’t believe Theo made friends with him. He’s nothin’ but a nincompoop to me. Well, I’ll try to be friendly and say another Opa!
“Pappa, these gentlemen paid us a compliment on our catch. They would, formally, like to meet you and us, ” said Thena. “Okay, your names first.” “I’m Fred Friendly.” “I’m Marco Polo.” “Nice to meet you. I’m Apollo. Actually, I’m Angelo Pappadoris. My son, who thinks he knows how to fish, is Theodoros and my daughter, Athena, ‘Thena.’ Fishing is all we are. It’s our everything. Hard work, but we are happy and we are happy family.”
“Mr. Pappadoris, may I can you Angelo?” “Yes, you may, mate.” “Me and my friend Marco are amazed with all the fish you net? What’s your secret?” “Simple. We always pray to Christos for protection, where to drop our nets, and thank him for his blessings.”
Fred to Marcos, “maybe we should pray, too.” “Next time out, we pray together. In the mean time, Thena bring these men a breakfast pita. Flat bread with scrambled eggs, lamb and topped with feta cheese. You will like. Here.”
“One last and most important question for you, Angelo. What is Opa?” said curiously by Fred. “Opa means celebrate life. Maybe yahoo to you. But it’s more than an expression, it’s about our heritage and who we are. We are fishermen and the sea is our home away from home. So, opa to you and thanks for your welcome. Once we become ‘real friends’ maybe we have a Greek feast. We will eat, we will dance, and we will all say Opa!”
Exclusive and upscale living.
“We have a restrictive covenant that prohibits trucks in here. The homeowners association will make you remove it. Tell Tom he will have ten days to move his truck out of here,” said Elliott Sizemore, president of the association.
“Oh no, that’s my truck. He likes luxury, but I like power. It’s a ‘Meteor Classic,’ loaded with all the luxuries plus power. It is super powered by a rugged hemi 16 cylinder engine. Just a tap of the pedal and you will zoom out of here. Twenty two hundred horses power this baby,” said Audrey proudly with a delightful smile.
“This truck is not you. Ladies don’t drive trucks. Only men drive trucks. You are a woman with class. You need luxury and not power. The ‘LaMonte’ is your style,” said Elliott hoping to convince Audrey to return to conformity.
“Look Elliott, I’m a new type of woman. Free to be me. I will have it no other way. It’s time to change the rules here,” said Audrey with a stance ready to fight. The right leg is bent at the knee and firmly planted in front of her. Audrey’s left leg is stretched behind her to provide support for her as she moves forward. She makes a one, two punch forcefully to her side looking Elliott straight in the eye. He stares her down hoping to intimidate her into submission. Audrey just ignores him and does another one, two.
“You cannot have this truck in here. It’s not what we want. I wonder what the neighbors will think. This is ‘Alegria Estates,’ not ‘Hillbilly Hills.’ We are high class and not trash. This is an eyesore and a classless nuisance. It must go. It will go,” said Elliott with his finger pointed directly at Audrey.
Audrey points her finger back at Elliott saying “You are not the almighty here. How dare you dictate to me. I will fight to the end. I will not make it easy for you, and I mean it.”
“Look at it, jacked up ten feet above the ground with monster tractor tires. This vehicle will never fit into your garage. You know that everyone is expected to park their cars inside their garages at seven p.m. sharp. That truck will never fit in there,” said Elliott.
“My truck does has style. It’s painted with a metallic raspberry red with sparking specks across it’s finish. On it’s side panel, as you see, there is a graphic of silver stars spilling down from the sky from the upper left corner of the door. At the base of the panel, the stars become iridescent flowing like a river across the the edge, then rise up to the upper right corner, then streaking across the tail gate. Across the panel of stars, scripted in pink and outlined in raspberry, are the words in a lower case, ‘free to be me.’ Now that is magnificent. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Audrey, your truck does have class and it is luxurious, but I’m afraid it must go. The association will vote against it.” said Elliott.
“Elliott, who makes the decision about my truck?” said Audrey in a resigned manner.
“It’s the association. The bylaws of the association already make it clear that no truck belongs here. There’s nothing I can do about it. I got an idea. How about the ladies from the association board take a look at your truck?” said Elliott in a hopeful tone of voice.
“That’s fine with me. Where shall we meet and when?” said Audrey with a hopeful tone of voice, too.
“Well, Audrey, it will be the women of the committee. There are three of them. You know them well. They will be awfully critical of it. The three are, Countess Vanessa LaFortunata, the richest woman here. Second is Stella Alvarez. She has tagged herself as the ‘queen of Alegria.’ It was she that drafted the ordinance including a clause that no trucks are allowed here. She knows how to charm and influence the committee to follow her dictates. We already know her decision. It will be no,” said Elliott in a resigned tone of voice.
“Lastly, Maybelline Avonage. She knows what is beauty and what is not. Maybelline has an eye for glamour. She may like the style and color, particularly the raspberry red frosted by a sea of stars.”
“I will even add a man, Sir Anthony of Empathy to view your truck and to give an honest opinion about it. He is someone who has good judgement and he will try to give a fair assessment of it. He is no knight in shining armor. He may or may not rule against you,” said Elliott in an assuring voice.
“Again, Elliott, where shall we meet and when?” “At twelve noon tomorrow at the clubhouse. Look your best and have your truck sparkling like diamond stars. See you then,” said Elliott. “I’ll be ready to accept their approval. Got to be positive about it,” said Audrey.
The three ladies and gentleman arrive at the association clubhouse. Audrey is standing next to her truck moving her hand across it’s hood and side panel to point out it’s most noticeable feature, the graphic of shining stars.
“Well, what do we have here? I see you have lowered your standards, Audrey. This is a nuisance and quite vulgar, I must say. It must go. I’ll see to it,” said Countess Vanessa LaFortunata.
Stella Alvarez speaks her mind. “Simply, it must go. I will direct the committee to see it my way, and they will, Audrey,” in a snobbish manner and her arrogant way.
“Maybelline Avonage, your opinion, please,” said Elliott. “You call this luxurious with class? I think not. It has no glamour. Audrey, you should have, at least, applied some blush and lip gloss. And a string of pearls would have swayed my opinion, but it does not.”
“Sir Anthony of Empathy, your assessment, please?” said Elliott with an appeal for Audrey. “Mrs. Ventura, I will give you an unbiased assessment of your truck. It has charm, it has style, but it is not a ‘LaMonte.’ Common sense tells me a truck is not a car. It has no luxury at all. I’m sorry, Audrey, but to tell you the truth, it doesn’t belong here.”
“Ladies and gentleman, and you too, Audrey. We will meet here at the clubhouse tomorrow at seven o’clock in the evening. Audrey, you and Tom, both, must be there. See all of you then,” said Elliott with style and charm.
Audrey and Tom appear before the homeowners association. “Mr. and Mrs. Ventura, you have violated the rules here. We have a restrictive covenant that requires every homeowner to drive motorcars of class. A truck does not belong here,” said association president Elliott Sizemore.
Audrey to the committee. “I have come to the realization that I no longer fit the mold here. Conformity is not for me. I’m a new type of woman. Free to be me,” said Audrey.
“Mr. Ventura, what do you think of your spouse’s rebellious ways?” said Elliott waiting to hear his comments about the ‘new type of woman.’ “Well, Audrey is not the same. She attended a seminar a month ago called ‘For Women Only.’ She came home so excited. Audrey said, ‘I’m a new type of woman. Free to be me.'”
Committee chair, Elliott Sizemore, seeks recommendations from the committee. “Countess LaFortunata, your decision?” “Mrs. Ventura no longer belongs here. Although she has wealth, she no longer is a lady, but a woman who wants her freedom. She must be granted her wishes.”
“And you, Sir Anthony, you are a man of wisdom and stature, your recommendation for the Ventura’s?” “This is a matter of principle. Logic tells me it doesn’t make sense for them to stay. My judgement is to expel them from ‘Alegria.'”
“Maybelline, does Audrey appear to be a woman of class and distinction?” said Elliott hoping for a sway to the positive in favor of Audrey. “No, Elliott. She no longer cares about keeping up appearances. She has let herself go. She is not a lady of glamour and has to go. A truck is not a ‘LaMonte.’ Sadly, Audrey, you must go and your truck, too.”
“Senora Alvarez, your judgement call?” said Elliott with the last appeal for Audrey. “They longer are elitist. She has lowered her standards. Women of class do not drive trucks. The bylaws state that a truck is not allowed here. It must go.”
Chairman Sizemore to Mr. and Mrs. Ventura. “What do you want to do, conform or rebel?” “I’m a new type of woman. Free to be me. I want to go,” said proudly by Audrey to the committee. “Mr. Ventura, since Audrey is a ‘new type of woman,’ she deserves the freedom to go. Now, Mr. Ventura, your decision?” “I’m a new type of man. Free to be me. We must go,” said in a joyful tone of voice by Tom Ventura.” “I, and the committee, rule in your favor, you are free to leave,” said Elliott Sizemore to the Ventura’s.
Tom to Audrey. “My darling, you’re free to be you. I’m free to be me. Remember we belong to each other.” “We do, indeed,” said Audrey with a sparkle in her eyes.
Tom and Audrey embrace and leave the clubhouse arm in arm. “Now, who is driving what? You the LaMonte and me the truck. You know, women don’t drive trucks,” Tom said laughingly. Audrey responds with a smile, “I drive a truck and men drive luxury. I’m a new type of woman. Free to be me.”
“A pack of dogs, on the run? Mutts, junkyards, pedigrees? Crossing Pine at Magnolia? Coming my way, get Lillie in? Don’t need a dog n’ cat fight? Where is Buffy? Bring my dillywhacker, meet at street, no time to waste? Call Lurleen? A pack of five? On my way dear,” said Emma to Mary Lou. “Calling Sam, our reliable dogcatcher. He knows how to handle rabid dogs. Catch net and whistle will subdue them all. He’s a man of courage. We can count on Sam,” said by Mary Lou to Emma.
“Lurleen, this is Emma. Dogs are on the loose. Mad dogs and foaming at the mouth. Bring your artillery.” “Hanging out my wash. Will clothespins do?” said Lurleen. “Bring them. Must hurry. It’s a pack of five. Call Virginia!” said Emma in a hyper tone of voice.
“Virginia, this is Lurleen. Vicious dogs heading your way. Heard they are hungry. Bring in ‘Pom Pom’ and her pork chop, too. They can wait for lunch in pound. Hurry. Bring your broom. We need to make a clean sweep. Call Lolita. No time to waste. A pack of five,” said Lurleen.
“Lolita, need you right away. Deranged dogs on the run. I know Jim and Joyce are hiding in the closet. Record ‘Hospital Lovers’ for later. They will still be there tomorrow. Grab your rake. For heaven’s sake,” said hurriedly by Virginia, “And call Daberta.” “She’s watching ‘Hospital Lovers,’ too. Never misses an episode,” said Lolita. “Get her away from the tube. Bring your mace, I mean your tape and lace. We will round them up and tie them down. Hurry!” said Virginia.
“We pick up today where we left off. Jim eyes Joyce across the hall. He nods his head to signal to Joyce his desire for her. Joyce nods her head back to Jim. ‘Hospital Lovers’ will continue in a moment.” “Nurse Cratchet, please monitor patient in critical care. We cannot leave him alone. He needs to be nursed back to health. A professional is needed. Thank you,” said Joyce in a nervous and rushed voice.
Joyce, thinking to herself. My lover awaits me. My heart is pounding. My, he looks so fine. Jim can’t wait to get with me. I know this is not appropriate behavior, but with Hospital Lovers, anything goes here.
“Not a good time to call. In the middle of things. Rinsing greens. Peas in the pot. Cornbread with peppers in the oven, spread with a coat of butter. Banana pudding cooling in the fridge,” said Daberta and back to Lolita. “Girl, I can’t miss ‘Hospital Lovers.’ Jim and Joyce just closed the hall door. Just know it’s hot in there. Oh, I am so hot, too.” “Killers on the run. This is urgent. Mongrels hunting for prey. A pack of five,” said Lolita. “Need to bring ‘Prissy.’ She knows how to charm the men. Dabbing her with ‘Alure,’ from head to tail, as we speak,” said Daberta back to Lolita. “Okay, bring her. A distraction may lure to our defense. Let’s get out of here!”
All are meeting one street over, Carnivore Alley. “Yes, this is risky, but we must do. A pack of five. All killers ready to prey. Got your weapons, girls? Broom, rake, mace, I mean lace, clothespins, and my dillywhacker. Here, leather boots, coats, and pants. None of us can afford to go rabid crazy. Must use caution, and listen to my commands. That way we will all know the plays. A strong defense is what we need. Ready to fight? Ready to strike? A battle we will win,” said by Mary Lou in a commanding and spirited voice. “A pack of five. Five of us to match their might. Again, we will fight and we must strike,” said again by Mary Lou in a devious and shrewd snicker.
“I see them coming, over the hill. A calvary of five. Sprinting by ground and in air. An aggressive assault, defeat their intent. We must stand strong and fight to the end. Ready? Charge!” said Mary Lou with dillywhacker in hand.
“Yap,yap, yap, yap. Growl. Yap, yap, yap, yap. Swat, swat, swat. Snap, snap, snap. Swat, snap, swat, swap, swat, snap. “Where is Sam?” said Lurleen in a panic. “Two at me. Please help. Oh, please help me. The mace, the mace, the lace, the lace,” said Emma in a panic of fear. Swat, swat. “Take that, you little varmint,”said Virginia, as she swipes her broom. “Let me at ’em. ” said Mary Lou with dillywhacker in hand. Whack, whack, whack. Swat, swat, swat. Swat, whack. Snap, snap. Swat, whack, swat, whack. Snap, snap, snap. Yap, yap, yap. “Oh, you want to fight? How’s that whack?” said Mary Lou fighting the ferocious little mongrel. “Take that, take that, you little killer.” One last, swat. One last whack. “Now, get out of here.” All cower away in defeat.
“Whew, what a fight,” said Emma gasping for air. “Me, too. What a strike,” said Daberta. “Where were you? Certainly not on the front line,” said Lolita. So, ‘Prissy’ fizzled out in fear?” said Mary Lou. Virginia to all, with chin on broom. “We really swept them away. I really swept them away.” “Says who?” said Lurleen irked at Virginia. The heroine of the hour. “We are all heroes. We banded together and victory is our win,” said Mary Lou smiling with glee.
“I’m hungry. wings anyone? The treats on me. Dilly Dog?”said Daberta in an apologetic sound of voice. “I’m in. I’m in. I’m in and I’m in,” said Mary Lou, Emma, Lurleen, Lolita, and Virginia. “Can ‘Prissy’ go, too? She cheered you on. On the side line, I was rooting for you,” said Daberta to all. “Yeah, come on. You did say the Dilly’s are on you? Then, you’re in,” said Mary Lou. The other’s all say. “You’re in.”
“Did anyone see them?” said Mary Lou. “I don’t recall, but they were small,” said Lurleen. “There’s the ‘Dilly Dog,’ up ahead. All, in a fast pace, “here we are at the ‘Dilly Dog, Dilly Dog, Dilly Dog,” all in unison. “Familiar, I see,” laughingly said by Emma. “There’s the pack of five. All killers, I see. Ha, ha, ha,” Lurleen exclaimed. “There’s Sam, dog in hand and soda, the other,” said Lolita with a laugh and a smile. “Now, ‘Prissy,’ mind your manners. Mama’s got a dog for you,” said Daberta in a motherly way.
“Now, Sam, I knew we could count on you. Reward this pack of five and you are forgiven,” said Mary Lou awaiting a reply. “All of you, the pack of five, it’s on me.” “I see you rewarded the pack of five. A hot dog for each, I see,” said Lurleen with hands on hips and jokingly to Sam. “All killers, I see,” said Virginia, bent over with a laugh. “Pack of five meet the pack of five,” said Sam with a gleam in his eyes and a smirk on his face.
“Muffin, Ginger, Pom Pom, Spice Girl, and Buffy. Where have you been? So, you’re the pack of five,” said Mary Lou. “Muffin, bad girl,” said Emma. “You have been naughty, Ginger. Never again,” said Lurleen. “I would have never thought, you in a pack of mongrels, Pom Pom. Shame on you, shame on me. Enjoy your dog. No pork chop tonight,” said Virginia. “This is just like you, Spice Girl. You are grounded. Oh yes, grounded. No TV for you. Not on my lap. No ‘Hospital Lovers,'” said Lolita in a rebuking tone of voice. “You know, Buffy, I warned you about this. Back gate opened. You’re in lock up for the rest of the day, after your hot dog,” said Mary Lou. All laugh.
Daberta to all, “‘Hospital Lovers,’ thirty minutes away. Ice cream on me. Must hurry, out of the closet today.”
Old Town Neighborhood.
“Walk softly, because the termites are holding hands.”
“Hello, young folks, come on in. Ready for the keys to your new home? I’m Doris, agent on duty today. Can I get you a cola or coffee? Well, all right, have a seat and we will take a look at our listings. Excuse me, your names? I have no manners.” “I’m Jillian, and this is my hubby, Jim. We are ready to look at homes.” “No, you are ready to buy your home, today. I will show you the home, point out all it’s special features and then, you will, sign on the dotted line. That’s all you do. I will walk you softly through it all. We can close today,” said Doris. She’s the the top seller at Old Town Realty.
“Well, have you folks done some looking around? You’re young, I bet this is your first home. I thought so. This is special for you. We will find the right home for you, today. Where do you want to go, intown or the burbs? It’s your choice. Since you are young, I already have some affordable listings for you to see. You’ll sign your offer, today. A lot of young people want intown, in the old neighborhoods. I bet you do, too. These homes can be a lot of work, unless you are a handyman. You won’t have to contract the work out, Jim. You look like a man of knowledge. I bet you have the know how to do it all. Many want to do it themselves. You can, too,” said Doris. She wants to go for the close, today. She will get it. Doris, ain’t top seller for nothing.
“We’ve been driving around some old, intown neighborhoods, and we just love them. The old red brick homes have the nice, extra wide, wooden porch with a decorative wooden rail that wraps around all three sides. There are old wooden steps that climb from the walk up to the porch. The large framed windows are great for flower boxes. A decorative wooden entry door with very nice ornamental wrought iron bars across the door, and on the windows, too. Also, there are two ornamental wrought iron rails up each side of the steps which rise from the walk to the porch. I’m sure they all add value to the home,” said Jillian.
“The other houses, on this oak shaded street, have ornamental wrought iron door bars and window bars, too. Oh, I feel home already, just thinking about it. One last thing, I really liked, was the nice neighborly hexagonal sidewalk that runs across the front, passing from home to home. The walk just brings the neighborhood together,” said by Jillian in an excited tone of voice.
“The one thing I really like about the house is that the yard is small, less grass to mow. Also, one great feature are the two hanging porch swings on each side of the porch. Great for a summer breeze and a nice cold one, when I need it. I’m sure we will entertain and the porch is extra wide for dinner guests for rest and relaxation, too. They, too, can enjoy their beverage of choice on the cool shaded porch. There will be rockers there,” said Jim.
“Sounds like you already know what you want. Let’s get out of here. I always say that because there is no time to waste. Some other young couple is looking at the house right now. We’ve got to beat them to it. We will make the best offer that the seller won’t refuse. You will buy your home today. I got the papers in hand, all we’ll have to do is fill in the blanks. Then you will sign on the dotted lines, and I will present your offer. The seller will sign while you wait in the car. This will be a fast deal, let’s get out of here,” said Doris. They all laugh.
“All right, the old, historic, neighborhood is right up here, on the right. Getting excited? Yes, the name of the subdivision is ‘Old Town.’ Our agency is exclusive in this neighbor hood. We sell most of the homes. I sell most of the homes. That’s why I‘m the top agent. You got the best one. I know how to sell homes. The intown neighborhoods are in high demand. The first one there usually gets it. We will get this home today. Here we go into this lovely neighborhood. See the shade trees? Majestic. Smell the honeysuckle? Heavenly. We’re here. Oh, yes, you did say that you already saw the home. One quick look is all it takes. I bet you already have mental ownership. Yes, Hon, this is already your ‘home, sweet, home.'”
“Oh, Jim, this is my home. I want it. I can see the window boxes of red geraniums. Can’t you? Doris is right. No need to look inside, you are a handyman. We will fix it up. I am so excited,” said, Jillian. “Now, Jill, calm down a little bit. We do have to look a little closer at the home. Maybe we need to call Roy to do an inspection. He will be able to tell us about the shape of the house and what needs to be done. I’m going to be doing the work. I need to know,” said Jim, in a bit of an anxious voice. “Oh, Honey, don’t cry. You want the home, we’ll get it and forget about the inspection. We’re nervous. We’re about to sign our lives away. That’s what I thought on our wedding day, but here we are happily ever after,” said Jim, again.
“Okay, folks, we’ll take a quick look, sign the papers, then get out of here.” All laugh. Doris thinking to herself, You darn right, we are going to get this home first, today. That Rosemary is a sly one. She beat me out of the bungalow, two houses down. I really sold the home, it was my listing. I should get all of the commission. I don’t share anything.
“I really like the house. It’s got charm. Just like my gram’s old neighborhood. She had a home just like this one, Jim. I think I’m going to cry, I’m so happy and excited. My home!”
“Okay, let’s take a look, then run. Beautiful home, and oh what a porch. Lemonade in the rockers. The steps? Nothing wrong with them. What do you mean that there are loose buckled boards with rusted nails popping up? Just get a hammer and nail them down again. A loose rail, here? See, this can be secured with a power drill. The stairs are pulling away from the porch? I don’t think so. What do you mean there are brown spots in the lawn? A little grass fertilizer will bring it back to life. No big deal.” He’s getting difficult. I know how to deal with a fault finder. I’ll work with her, not him.
“Oh, Jillian, you’re rocking in the rocker. And the baby will love it. No baby yet? Once you settle in, before a romantic dinner by candlelight, there will be all night loving. Oh, that just slipped out. Just reminds me of my nights with Charlie. Yes, we had five of them. All from loving.”
Jillian to Jim, “Honey, come on up next to me. Sit here, in this rocker. This is a nice sturdy rocker for a stud of a man. That man is you. What do you mean, don’t talk like that, it’s embarrassing? But you’re my man, and I’m your woman. No need to pace, everything will be all right.” “You’re right, Jill, all will be fine. Already worrying about our baby. Worrying about the future.” “Honey, the future is now. Tomorrow will be tomorrow. Let’s enjoy today.”
“Ready to sign the papers? We can go as low as you want on the bid, the seller is really motivated. She will take your offer.” Doris to herself, The seller said she will take anything for the house to unload it. I don’t need any more questions. He will never know about the problem, it’s between me and the owner.
Jim to Doris, “I just don’t know. There seems to be some problems. Loose boards, the porch is missing some decking, I saw some scratches on the warped grayed boards. Some of the wood looks rotten underneath the porch. Could there be something wrong, Doris?”
“I know what you’re concerned about, it’s not a wood infestation. The house is just old. Old houses need a lot of care. Yes, you will have to do some work on the house, you already know it. But some things will be minor, like replacing a few rotten boards. I’m sure there are not many. Look at Jillian, she’s already at home. Come on Jim, let’s sign the papers.” “Let’s sign the papers, Honey. No time to waste. We got to get out of here.” All laugh.
Doris to herself, I don’t know why I do this kind of work. Most of the time it’s easy. This time it’s not. They’re young. I know he doesn’t know much about fixing houses, but you got to push for the sale, otherwise they will never move forward. They don’t know it, but I’m doing them a favor. I own the house. I’d like to give it to them. I am so sorry I didn’t tell the whole truth about other houses I’ve sold, but this time I have told the truth.
“Ready to sign? Half price, already on the paper. Here, sign here and here. The house is sold ‘as is,’ Now the seller needs to sign the paper. Doris M. Malone. That’s me. Now, let me get out of here. Enjoy your life here.”
At least that Rosemary didn’t get this one. We just hate each other, at times. That happens in this business. Cut throat, at times. But good times like this one.
Walk softly with your life. Don’t be hard on yourself. Be soft.
County Limerick, Ireland
Mo mhuirnin ban (Gaelic). Pronounciation: Moh vor-neen bahn. Translation: My fair darling.
In a field of clover. A hidden charm fog over.
It glistens in the night. A gem that is so right.
Luminescent green, a wonder never seen. Aglow beneath the clover, a love it will redeem.
Meet me there at midnight, something to delight. Underneath the bed of clover, brilliant, out of sight.
You’ll never know luck, my darling, til you see it there. A lover’s gift for you. My heart will glow for you.
A glistening emerald shamrock, beneath a field of clover. Lucky me. Lucky you. Luck and love, forever more.
The Havana Café Tampa, Florida
“Jose, tienes que limpiar las mesas. Los clientes están esperando. Pronto!” “Jose, you have tables to clear. Customers are waiting. Pronto!”
“I’ll be right there, Carmina. Four tables are ready.”
Carmina to Diego, “Four pressed Cubanos. All the way. Pronto!” “Yes, Carmina, orders are up.”
“Senors, there’s a booth over there. All set and ready for you,” said Carmina.
“Hello, I’m Alana, your beverages?” “Mango Tango.” “Cafe con Leche.” “Just water.” “A Coconut Creme, please.” “Thank you, gentlemen.” “Here you are. Mango, leche, water and cream. I see your sandwiches are ready. Senors, Cubano, Cubano, Cubano, and Cubano. Enjoy!”
“Jose, tienes que limpiar las mesas. Los clientes están esperando. Pronto!” “Jose, you have tables to clear. Customers are waiting. Pronto!”
Jose is a busboy. He’s the only busboy. He has three things to do. He clears the tables. He washes the dishes, and he sets the tables. And he does whatever he’s told to do. He never complains. Always greets customers with a smile. He has class. He has finesse. Alana is the hostess and server. She greets guests, seats them and is very attentive to their needs. “Welcome, I’m Alana. May I have the honor of serving you? ” She is friendly. She has class. She has finesse.
Diego is the cook and sandwich maker. Prepares sandwiches custom to order. He does it well and the customers know it. Never forgets to make the sandwiches just right to the customer’s delight. He takes orders well. Carmina knows how to yell them out to him. “Hey, Diego. We have eight guests waiting. Cubano, chilli. Cubano, gazpachos. Cubano, avocado. Cubano, salad. Cubano, pressed and cut. Cubano, vegetables, no meat. Cubano, cubano, two. Cubano, add extras peppers. Got it?” “Yes, Carmina.” Diego thinking to himself. She’s a bossy thing. So demanding. I don’t know how much longer I can take her. So obnoxious. But, I have a job to do. So get to it, Diego. Pronto! By the way, he has class and he has finesse, too. He knows how to take good care of the luncheon guests.
Now, there’s Carmina. She is the owner and the manager. Some finesse, but loses it when the pressure is on. She panics when the luncheon crowd increases. She gets overwhelmed by their demands and needs to get them in and out and on their way. She yells out orders, she rings up sales. It’s up to her to keep the patrons moving at a steady pace. She is very dependent on Jose and Alana. Without them, she would be a nervous wreck, but she already is. She can lose her patience and can be rude to rude and demanding customers. No longer a friendly greeting. Just herding the cattle in and out the door. Always makes sure no one leaves without paying, even if the service is bad. She ain’t in business for nothing. No free food. Thinks to herself. No free lunch on me. This ain’t the soup kitchen. These people, all dressed in business attire, think they can run my business. Oh no, I run this show.
“Jose, tienes que limpiar las mesas. Los clientes están esperando. Pronto!” “Jose, you have tables to clear. Customers are waiting. Pronto!”
“Hey, Jose. Can you help me out? I have eight guests to seat. I need two tables pulled together, now! Please hurry up. Customers are waiting. Pronto!” Now, Alana is feeling the pressure. Jose to Alana, “Right away, boss. Pronto!” Both laugh.
Jose to Alana, “Just look at her. She’s about to crack up. About ready to snap at any moment.” Alana says, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” “Jose, I need to tell you something. I’m leaving after this shift. Start at the Barcelona on Friday. Carmina doesn’t know. I will wait till the rush is over and before I leave at three, I will tell her. I have to leave, the Barcelona is a big step up for me.” “The Barcelona? You’re going to work there? Can you take me with you? It makes me sad, but I’m glad for you. You deserve to be at the Barcelona, you have class and you have finesse. I’ll miss you.” Alana hugs Jose and gives him a kiss. She holds his hands and saying, “Your day will come. I know you have a dream. It will happen for you. Dreams do come true.”
It’s just past noon, the line grows in size and many are waiting outside the door. Carmina sees them out the smudge filled glass. The name “Havana Cafe” is painted on the glass and it has peeled and cracked over the years. So has Carmina. Peeled and nearly cracked for good.
Carmina ringing up sales at the register. She says, “Your lunch satisfactory? Thank you.” “Your lunch satisfactory?” “Yes, Carmina. Are you okay? You really look stressed. I’m concerned about you,” said Anna Marie. “Oh, I’m fine. Just a bit nervous. That’s all.” In a low voice to Anna Marie, “I have issues and I’m seeing the doctor. He’s really helping me out. He’s pushing me to shut this place down. But, it’s Harry’s dream. That was forty years ago. Got to keep the business going for him.” “Just concerned, Carmina. Glad you are getting help. Love you dear.” A quick hug and Anna Marie is on her way.
“Senora, please, my client and I have to sign some papers. Only twenty minutes, then we must go. A table for two?” “Yes, senor, right over there in the corner. It’s private and quiet there.”
Very impatient business woman says, “What’s taking so long? You are so disorganized.” ” do my best, lady.” “Don’t you know anything about time management? Is the manager here?” “You’re looking at her.” “This is ridiculous. I want to talk with the owner.” You’re looking at her.” Lady leaves in a huff saying to customers waiting in line “Hey, you others, it’s not worth the wait. I’d leave, if I were you.”
“I need a table now!” said irritated, demanding man. Carmina responds, “Well, is that so? Seat yourself at that dirty table over there. Someone may be with you soon.”
“Jose, tienes que limpiar las mesas. Los clientes están esperando. Pronto!” “Jose, you have tables to clear. Customers are waiting. Pronto!” Jose replies, “Okay, Carmina, okay.”
Carmina feeling more pressure at front counter. Continues to take orders and ringing up sales. “That will be ten dollars and ninety-nine cents. Gracias, come back soon.” “Don’t think so. You are so slow. Can’t you speed it up? Here’s a quarter. Next time, you may get a dime, too.” “You are too kind, sir. Thank you for the tip. Have a mint.” “Here’s your money.” Man throws money on counter. “It’s all there. I know you can’t count. By the way, here’s that extra dime.” He leaves and kicks open the door. Cursing as he goes out the door.
It’s the end of the lunch rush. Carmina with heart pounding and feeling dizzy sits in a chair and says, “Maybe my doctor is right. This has become too much for me. I just hate to disappoint, Harry.”
Alana sits down at table with Carmina. “I need to tell you something. I’m leaving. Start at the Barcelona on Friday. It’s been great working here, but I must move on.” Carmina shocked at the news, starts shaking and says to Alana, “What am I going to do? I depend on you and Jose so much. Please don’t leave.” “I’ve got to go. Good luck.”
“Jose, it’s just me and you and Diego, now. I need you to do Alana’s job, too. So, please don’t let me down.” “I won’t Carmina, I promise.” So weeks go by and they manage to get the customers taken care of haphazardly. Carmina yells out to Jose. “Please hurry, I have guests to seat. No time to waste.” “Come this way sirs, welcome to the Barcelona, I mean, to the Havana. I have a table over there.” Jose starts to daydream and thinking to himself. I need to move on, too. I have to go to a better restaurant where I can use my finesse. I have class and know how to take good care of the customers. I want to go to the Barcelona, too. Maybe my dream will come true. I will pray to the virgin. She will intercede for me. Thank you, holy mother of God.
Jose continues to do as he is told. He greets all guests with a genuine smile. He says, again,”Welcome to the Barcelona, I mean the Havana. This way please.”
“Please, senora, seat us now. We don’t have much time.” “Alana, it’s you. Welcome back. Ready to work?” Alana replies, “No, Carmina, My friend and I just need two leches and flans.”
“Jose, we have special guests, seat them now. They are already over there. Treat them nice.”
“Yes, ladies, welcome to the Barcelona, I mean the Havana.” Both women laugh. “Alana, it’s you. So good to see you. And you ma’am, welcome as well. The best dining experience for you. At your service.”
“We’re actually here to see you. I wanted Maria to see you in action.” Maria to Jose, “You are just what I need at the Barcelona. You do your job so well. You have class. You have finesse.” Jose says to Maria, “Thank you, so much. I do my best.” Maria to Jose, “Here’s my card, come see me.” Jose looks at business card. Barcelona. Maria Barcelona, General Manger. “Wow,” said Jose. “I’m Maria Barcelona. It’s our family name and business. Established for nearly fifty years. Excuse me, I have a phone call to make. I’ll be right back.”
Alana to Jose, “I brought Maria here to see you in action. I can tell she is pleased. She would never give anyone her business card, unless she is serious about hiring them. I’ll see you soon at the Barcelona.” Jose smiles and gives Alana a hug, then holds her by her arms saying, “You came through for me.” “Yes, I did, Jose. I planned it all along that you would go with me.” Maria returns, “Jose I’ll see you on Wednesday. We will talk about what you will do at the Barcelona. You will fit in well. Welcome to the Barcelona.”
Jose gets hired and is working at the Barcelona. He is so happy and he is taking good care of the guests. Finesse with caress.
By week’s end, Carmina tells customers, particularly the regulars, “I’m closing the restaurant. Next Friday, I will close the doors for good. My doctor and Harry would want me to do it. I’m taking their advice.” Patrons, each, tell Carmina, “Thank you so much for being here for us. Yes, Harry would be proud” All applaud.
Jose gets his dream. Dreams do come true. “Welcome to the Barcelona,” Jose says with a bright smile. He made his dream come true, along with the help of Alana and Maria. Carmina helped him, too. She prepared him to become his best.
“You owe me an apology.” “For what?” “Edgar, this morning at my kitchen table, you had the nerve to say that my biscuits were dry. They’re never dry.” “They were, Mildred.” “Well, you always show up when I take them out hot from the oven. You’d always say ‘flaky and tasty.'” “I do, but not this morning, hon.”
“Well, Edgar, where’s my apology?” “I ain’t apologizing. Just telling you the truth. Maybe they’ll be better tomorrow. By the way, to soften them up, add a pat of butter to each or some red eye gravy. Then, maybe, someone will be fool enough to eat them. But not me.” “Edgar, please leave, I don’t need anymore insults. I have my rolling pin on the counter, just to the left of the oven.” “I’ll see you tomorrow ‘Betty Crocker'” “See you then and I’ll expect an apology before I serve you anything.”
Edgar thinking to himself Mildred is not herself. Her biscuits are never dry. She’s been so touchy lately. If she wants an apology, I’ll give it to her tomorrow. Maybe she’s going through the change. Women are not in their right minds when this happens. Elsa hasn’t been the same since. Edgar passes through the hedge over to his porch. He will rock the morning away.
“Your son owes my daughter an apology.” “Oh really, for what?” “He called Ginnie Mae a spoiled brat.” “Well, is she? I’ve heard she gets everything she wants.” “Marge, she is not. Now, ask him.” “Freddie, did you?” “Yes, mom, I did. She brags all the time about money. She’ll say ‘I’m worth five dollars and you are only a quarter’s worth.’ Now, that hurts. She makes me and the other twenty five cent kids feel worthless, but we are not.”
“Come on, Marge, make him apologize.” “Joann, I will not follow your command. Freddie owes no apology to Ginnie Mae. Just stating the truth about her.” “Well, Ginnie Mae, let’s go. We don’t need an apology from these undesirables. They’re low class. Beneath us.”
“You owe me an apology.” “For what?” Jeb to Connor “you made a fool out of me on the court this morning. I don’t know what happened, I just couldn’t return your serves.” “It’s not like you, Jeb, to net every ball. I need some real competition. Someone who can at least volley the ball.” “Oh, I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I’ll get over it.” “Hey, Jeb, I know someone who can help you get your serve back. My ten year old daughter, Tina, will work one on one with you. She’s really good. How about it?” “No, thank you, Connor.” “You seem a little upset” said Connor. “I am, but I’ll be okay. Tomorrow is another day.”
“You’re my buddy, Jeb. I was just playing with you. Your friendship means more to me than a tennis ball. Forgive me?” “You’re forgiven, you jerk!” Both laugh and leave the court.
“Oh Harry. I need to talk with you.” “Mornin, Miss Abilene.” “Mornin, Harry.” “I think you owe me an apology.” “For what?” ” Harry, you mowed over my day lilies. They were so lovely and yellow bright. Every day, new ones open up and just make my day grand.” “Well, their blooming season is about over. I do it for you every year and you approve.”
“This time something is not right about it. I must tell you, I had a dream about you last night. In the dream, you were in a crazed state of mind mowing over my lillies in the middle of the night. I heard you say, and you were laughing about it, ‘no more lilies, gone forever, yee ha ha.'” “But it wasn’t me, Miss Abilene. Only a dream.”
“Oh it was you all right. For sure. I heard your mower and saw your tractor lamps. You kept yelling out ‘yee ha ha, yee ha ha.'” “Sounds like a nightmare to me, said Harry. But it was only a dream, not for real. Look out your window, see your day lillies?, bright as the day.” “Oh Harry, you don’t owe me an apology. I should apologize to you. I judged you.” “Miss Abilene, are you okay, now?” “Yes, I am Harry. Would you like some fresh coffee and biscuits on my front porch? There we can both enjoy my lillies.” “Yes ma’am!”
“You owe me an apology.” “For what?” “You called my Zsa Zsa a stinking little poodle. Zsa Zsa does not stink. I perfume her every day of the week. When you insult Zsa Zsa, you insult me, too. James, now your apology, please.” “I ain’t apologizing. Next time give her a bath, too. Here. This is a coupon from the ‘Bow Wow’ boutique. They’re giving free baths this week. The bath is on me. That’s my apology.” “Zsa Zsa, you’re too cute to stink.” Zsa Zsa says “yap, yap.”
“You owe me an apology.” “For what?” “Brother, well, fifteen years ago, you said something to me in front of my girl friends that really embarrassed me.” “So this happened fifteen years ago?” “Yes it did, I was so upset that I held it inside of me all these years. I’m now in anger management and my therapist suggested that I resolve some of these long held grudges.”
“So, you’re at the top of my list.” “What did I say, sister?” “That dress you’re wearing looks like a rag you got at the discount thrift shop. That really hurt. I haven’t been in the thrift store for years because of it. A bad memory.” “Well, I’m sorry, sis. I really mean it. Just don’t hold on to hurt for years, the bitterness can really eat you up inside. Anything else you want to confront me about from fifteen years ago? Let me take you out to breakfast. Okay with you? No more hate?” “Only love now, brother. Only love for you.”
Chicken House on Red Rooster Road Valdosta, Georgia
When the rooster crows, the hens lay eggs. “Here comes Boss Wringer. I wonder what he’s gonna crow about this mornin?” said Ester Lee. “He looks very concerned and is moving kinda fast toward the hen house. This makes me nervous. I think I’m gonna need a nerve pill. I just know it,” said Florence shaking and fluttering.
“Girls, get ahold of yourselves. I know what it’s about. It’s a request and not an order. Our eggs are in high demand right now. Girls, don’t panic, just listen to him.” Boss Wringer walks inside the hen house. “Mornin, girls, look plump and juicy this mornin. I have some news to tell you about and it does make me a bit distressed. Two chicken houses have shut down and have been converted over to poultry plants. We don’t want that, lordy-lordy.”
“Well, what happened to the hens, Boss Wringer? Were they transferred to another chicken farm?” said Laydalee. “I’m afraid to say. Well, their necks were wrung and each wound up on the butcher’s block. They were southern fried or became stock in a noodle soup.”
“Oh no, they didn’t?” said Ester Lee. “Yes, that’s what happened girls, but we can prevent this from happening here. We can determine our future and not let fate lead our way” said Boss Wringer. “This is just shocking. I can’t bear the thought of it,” said Florence and she said further “I’m about to faint, girls. Help me. Someone please catch me.”
Isabella voiced “I need to save my neck. I’m the lead soprano in the chicken choir. My vocal chords are tightening up. I’ll do anything to save myself. Anything!” “I got mouths to feed,” said Laydalee in a sobering tone. And she said “My chicks depend on me for feed. For them, I will not let this get the best of me. I gonna come out fighting, just like Rocky.”
“Each of the two chicken houses had one hundred hens. They produced one thousand eggs per week. So, I have made an agreement with ‘Eggs on Demand’ that we could meet their need for one thousand eggs each week,” said Boss Wringer.
“Oh my,” said Ester Lee and she said “We’re doing good to lay our one normal egg each day. This is not doable. What do they think we are, an egg factory? ” Henrietta to Ester “Hon, we are an egg factory. We’ve just got to produce. A lot of hard work, but if we work together and efficiently, I believe we can do it.” Boss Wringer agreed.
“Boss man, we’ll do our best, but I need to remind you of what happened last year when you pushed us to produce more eggs,” said Henrietta. “Go on, tell me. I think I already know the effect of it all. Not good,” said Boss Wringer.
“Remember Geraldine? She collapsed and mm…mm…mm, bless her heart. And Florence, she’s now on nerve pills and our elder hen, Irene, is still in chicken psychotherapy. She nearly lost her mind from the strain of it all. And…” “Tell me no more, Henrietta. I remember it all. That will never happen again,” said Boss Wringer.
“Well said, boss. Now, girls, as Wringer said, we need to produce one thousand eggs per week. Relax for the rest of the day. Tomorrow morn, when the rooster crows, hens lay eggs. Now, go nibble on some chicken feed. See you at the crack of dawn,” said Henrietta.
In place on the fence post, outside the barn, Boss Wringer crows out “Cock-a-doodle-doo. Cock-a-doodle-doo!” “Okay, girls, on your nests and start a laying. Cackle, cackle, one egg down chute. Cackle, cackle, another egg down chute and another and another. Conveyor filled with eggs.
After one hour, Henrietta yells out, “Stop production. Break time. Fifteen minute stretch and back on nests. Ladies, this is wonderful, you doubled your production in one hour. Two hundred eggs laid.” After another hour, two hundred more eggs down chutes. Three hours later, five hundred eggs.”
“Chickadees, what got you motivated?” asked Henrietta. Laydalee and Ester Lee said “That poster of him. Brutus the rooster. He’s a massage therapist and he is one hunk of a bird. Boss Wringer said whoever triples production, gets an hour with him for a private massage.” Henrietta announces “And the winner is…all of you. Each one of you will get a fifteen minute massage with Brutus. Ten today and the others over the next two days. We’re off till Monday. Enjoy your time with Brutus.” Ester Lee says with excitement “Oh, I will and me first.”
A rooster can crow. A demand can be made. Pamper a hen and you may get more eggs.
Dixie’s–“the prime place for steak.” Cattletown, Texas
The power of suggestion. One of the most persuasive ways is to make a subtle statement. The most effective ads today are subliminal. Not direct, but indirect, but heard over and over again, till the customer believes that it’s true and that it’s right for him. So he takes the bait. This story will demonstrate how the power of a subliminal statement can convince customers at Dixie’s to choose their “juicy prime steak” just by a subliminal suggestion.
A crowded restaurant, Dixie’s, filled to the brim with diners. A leisure lunch. Business lunch. Power lunch. Just lunch. It’s so crowded that it takes time to take and to deliver their orders as quickly as they normally do. So, in the mean time, luncheon guests enjoy pleasant conversation with a thirst quenching beverage while they wait and listen to country pop tunes played overhead in the sound system throughout the restaurant.
“Hey, Bubba. Darlene, you look great. What can I getcha? I know it’s hoppin in here right now, but I’ll put you at the top of my prime list,” said Maxine. “Can you give us a few minutes, Maxine? We have one more coming. Don’t know what’s the hold up with Donna Sue,” said Darlene and she said “should be here shortly, then we will be ready to order.” “The same ice tea for all of you?” “Yes, ma’am,” all said. Be right back folks.”
Music playing over sound system. “Rockin and rollin at the honky-tonk. The place where guy meets girl. Love is in their eyes, but they don’t know it. Our juicy prime steak is the one for you. For love may be the thing for you.”
“Well, Donna Sue, where ya been?” said Bubba. “Waitin in the line at the post office. Just for one single stamp. They are pushin the book now and said the single stamps will soon be gone. Waitin thirty minutes for a postage stamp.” “Donna Sue, ice tea is on it’s way. We haven’t ordered yet. Maxine will be back soon to take our orders,” said Darlene.
“Listen goz, said Donna Sue. That’s Dolly’s new hit.” “A hillbilly heart is so sincere. It’s from the heart and know that it’s so real. Just remember our juicy prime steak are just a grillin. It’s the thing that’s just for you. A hillbilly heart is so sincere. A hillbilly heart made just for you.” Donna Sue singing along with Dolly. “A hillbilly heart is so sincere. It’s from the heart and know that it’s so real. Just remember our juicy prime steak are just a grillin. It’s the thing that’s just for you. A hillbilly heart is so sincere. A hillbilly heart made just for you.”
Maxine returns. “Okay, folks, wha-da-ya have? Hey, Donna Sue.” “Juicy prime steak. Juicy prime steak,” said Darlene and Bubba. Donna Sue, “for some reason, juicy prime steak comes to mind. I’ll have it, too.” Back soon. Maxine thinking to herself, “Hillbilly Heart works every time. Donna Sue doesn’t even know that the lyrics with the message ‘juicy prime steak’ convinced her that it was her choice to make and she did it. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”
“Ben, where have you been? We need to close this deal now. Only thirty minutes. Sign here, Gilmer. Ben, here. I will notarize. I am a notary. Always been. Have to be ready to seal the deal.” Ben to Eddie “Sorry, Eddie. You’re always in a hurry. Fast Eddie!” “Okay, fellas the deal is done. A one hundred thousand dollar deal for three floors of office cubes. Lunch is on me. How does juicy prime steak sound? It just sounds like a good deal, I mean an excellent choice for three hungry men.” “Good to me,” said Ben. “Me too,” said Gilmer.
“Hello, gals. Where ya been?” said Bertha. “Pretending that we know how to play bridge, but we don’t,” laughingly said Doris. “We deal the cards, then play fish,” said Iris. “We enjoy the bridge mix and then lollygag and gossip the rest of the time.” said Anna Belle. Bertha to the three “where’s your fourth, June Bug?” “Couldn’t stay. Big dinner plans. Likes to prepare a nice meal with the entree, of course, being the juicy prime steak,” said Doris. “Ice tea for all three?” “Yes, ma’am, Miss Bertha,” said Anna Belle. “Back in a jiffy.”
Doris to Iris and Anna Belle “Every time I come in here, I always listen for Elvis. I just love his trilogy of ‘Dixie and the Land of Cotton.’ Just brings tears to my eyes.” Iris to the other ladies “Hey, listen, that’s an old tune of Loretta’s she never released. Just listen and it just about tells the truth about some men. It’s called ‘Fetch Me That Man.’ Good tune, but he ain’t no man to catch.”
“Fetch me that man. He’s the only man I ever dared. I’m ready for his heart, but I’m not in his heart. A juicy prime steak will cure the ill in your heart. He’s a sorry catch of a man.” “Ready to order, girls?” said Bertha. “Juicy prime steak, juicy prime steak and juicy prime steak,” all three agree. Bertha to herself “Just unbelievable, ‘Fetch Me That Man’ with that subliminal line caught every one of them.”
“Hey, Miss Marie,” said all three youngsters. “Hey to you darlins and hey to you Mama.” “Marie, the kids will all have the juicy prime burgers and I’ll have the same, too.” “All juicy coolers for you, babies?” All three say “Yes ma’am, Miss Marie.” Comin up!”
Geoffrey to his mom, “Hey, Mama, that’s your favorite song. You and Miss Marie always like the lyrics.” “Hey Bev, here’s the meal. Enjoy!” “Here’s our song Ree. Just listen.” “Only a woman understands a woman. A man will never understand. A juicy prime burger, a man will never know. Juicy prime burgers do understand.”
Dixie to restaurant staff “We broke a record today. We served ninety six juicy prime steaks in our three hour lunch. Ninety six is just unbelievable. We’re gonna keep our same tunes with our subliminal line “juicy prime steak” for quite some time. Sing Dolly’s song with me and then a juicy prime steak lunch for all of us.”
“A hillbilly heart is so sincere. It’s from the heart and know that it’s so real. Just remember our juicy prime steak are just a grillin. It’s the thing that’s just for you. A hillbilly heart is so sincere. A hillbilly heart made just for us!”
“Hey, stop by Dixie’s. There’s a juicy prime steak waiting just for you.”
Frank Clark is proud to announce that his new book, “Frank Clark Short Stories” is now available. Humor, Imagination and Introspective. Creative writing style. Book is available in 3 formats, hardback, paperback, and e-book. Kindle and Nook are included. Available at these on-line book sellers. Xlibris.com, my publisher. Barnes & Noble, bn.com, and amazon.com. Perfect gift for any occasion.