Random Word Story # 32~ Moving Along to Nowhere

5211895183_cc7770c5dd_bcombatant…hard…fantastic…square…habitual…defector

Here is my story:

There was something dark about the store clerk at the new Dollar General. She stood with rounded shoulders, and a defeated look in her eyes, as I approached the counter to check out. I would have guessed that she was much older, if we weren’t face to face. She was not much beyond the age of twenty, as I would learn, yet had the demeanor of a lone surviving combatant from a long lost battle.

Her southern drawl set her apart even further.

“You aren’t from around here, young lady.” I said.

“No ma’am. I’m from Alabama. Been he’ ah for two weeks, or so. I’m hopin’ to bring my kids he’ah soon.”

“My… you have children? You’re just a young thing.”

“I was twenty last month and I’ve got three baby boys back home with my momma. Their daddies were scumbags and I cum up here and met the love of my life for sure!”

Her grin was bright and happy but the sadness in her eyes did not fade. She nervously chewed on the side of her tongue as we spoke. It occurred to me that she may have been a beautiful child, once upon a time. Her face was heart-shaped and she had large blue eyes but her hair, seemed as though it was as stressed as her posture, with frizzy ends on a carelessly gathered ponytail.

I saw her as a defector. She’d left her children, after all, while pursuing what I could only imagine was an habitual trail of scumbags. Without having to ask, she went on…

“Met James on the internet. He’s going to bring my boys up soon and we’re buyin’ a house too.” She grinned as her eyes looked through me to an imagined “happy place”.

“That is fantastic! A new beginning, in a new place. I’m happy for you.”

Then I noticed  scars in both of her thin eyebrows and one that ran along her chin too. As she packed my items, her hands trembled.

My, too quickly made judgement, softened as I asked myself, “Why  do so many young ladies have to live such hard lives?”. I felt the urge to hug her and to tell her that things would get better…that she would find her happy ending, but I didn’t believe the latter. Not everyone gets a square deal. Her children would probably have similar fates without the foundation of roots and family and I felt helpless, very helpless to remedy her troubles. In fact I, shamefully, wanted to get away from her as quickly as I could, as if hard luck and ignorance were somehow catchy.

She continued, “James will be picking me up soon and we’re gonna call my kids to tell them about our house. We ain’t been approved yet but we’re hopin’ to hear this week. That ‘ill be ten dollars and seventy cents ma’am.”

“Thank-you. Best wishes to you and James.”

That night, I said several prayers for her family. I held on to a glimmer of hope for her sons, realizing that they might have a slightly better chance to find stability, simply by not being  “beautiful” daughters.

It has, now, been six months … and I have not seen her at the Dollar General again…

—————————————————-

My other Random Word Stories were complete fiction. Sadly, this one, came from a true encounter that I had last Fall.

Random Word Story # 31~ The Prize

Deutsch: Filzhut

Deutsch: Filzhut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

aerodynamic…checker…quests…weeks…icier

Here is my story:

At 23 years old, Martha was growing tired of video quests. She’d spent the last 6 years, huddled in her bedroom with a cramp in her gaming hand. But she knew this wasn’t living. At least, that was what everyone told her. The only, sure thing, was that she hadn’t felt anything but empty, since forever.

On Monday morning, she disconnected her x-box and got out of bed before 7:00 am. She said no online “good-byes” and walked away cold turkey. “Done” , she thought. She had big hopes that her afternoon job, as a checker at the drugstore, would take on new meaning… Her daydreaming might turn to the ordinary and her future companions would, at least, have a heartbeat. Yes, an exciting real quest had just begun!

Over the next few weeks, Martha had terrible moments of withdrawal. As she rode along in her car, the landscape would, on occasion, morph into unnatural colors and appear two-dimensional. Customers would randomly remind her of barbarians she once knew. She caught herself wondering how her gaming friends were getting along and had anyone really missed her? Several times, she plugged the game in, late in the loneliest hours, and sat poised to press the power button. Martha resisted. Her new quest, after all, must have her full attention just like the others.

She had realized in the first day, that she was a “junkie” when her new freedom caused her to enliven senses she had forgotten. A cherry snow cone had tasted icier than she had ever noticed. Martha had also felt weightless out-of-doors. She tilted her head to the sky and embraced a color blue that could not be produced by artificial means. Her campaign caused her to start walking the mile to work.  But, a strong north wind reminded her, humorlessly, that the upright human body was not aerodynamic when, one day, she was swept right off of her feet.

Martha’s quest became less of a struggle over a month. She had secretly hoped for her Prince Charming to appear for the “happily ever after” she felt was due… every quest has a prize. He didn’t. Oh well, she was enjoying a brand new attention to a neat appearance, just the same…no doubt she’d “level up” soon.

But one day, she found herself listening to the lyrics in songs she, had thought, were familiar. Martha would spring out of bed thinking about the new movie she wanted to see and an organizational chart project she’d begun at work. On one of her walks, she’d noticed a library. She had NEVER known it existed. Martha was spending days without a thought of gaming. Her co-workers started begging her to take her break with them, once they found out, that she had an ability to make them laugh. She felt an eagerness that no other quest had ever offered. What a feeling!

Today, her boss offered her a raise and gave her a hug. It was then, in that moment, she realized her quest had no levels. This quest would go on as long as she did. To touch, to taste and to, embrace the little things, was her prize. At least, she was “in the game” every day.

Random Word Story #30~ Git a Grip

Chuck At Work

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by randomwordgenerator.net

homophobes…Hawaiian…siftings…menaces…hexagram

I found Charlie Rainwater sitting cross-legged in an adobe hut. A single gray braid hung like a pet snake over his shoulder which nearly reached the dirt floor. He was ancient and when his milky eyes lifted at the sound of me, I could tell he was blind.

The only visible modern convenience was a portable AM radio which had a dancing red light but no sound. He’d summoned me through the mail. Apparently, he was a big fan of my morning radio talk show and had instructed one of his 22 great-grandchildren to drop me a note. Charlie could not read or write but he was up to date on the issues.

When he lifted his hand in greeting, I expected a deep voice filled with “ughs” and TV injun-style moans. To my surprise, he chuckled and a boisterous high-pitched “Howdy David, Thanks for cummin’!”, slapped me in the face.

Our interview started immediately.

“Didn’t think I had, Ellen’s chance at guest speaker for a convention of homophobes, to get you here Davy. Welcome.”

“It’s fine to be here sir. I’m glad to have the opportunity for this interview. Never expected this.”

“Well, betcha never thought a Hawaiian would be president neither. Goes to show ya, anything can happen nowadays!” Charlie lifted his chin and laughed. “Now drop that sir crap en call me Chuck won’t cha?”

“Alright, Chuck. You seem well informed. You mentioned, in the note, that you have a message for me. I’m anxious to hear about it.”

“Straight to the point, Davy. There aren’t enough points gotten to in the politics. Heck, a hexagram has six but politicians are smooth, too smooth, my boy. They are just plain menaces when it comes to makin’ THE point.” Charlie looked up toward the ceiling and sighed. “I like your show and I wanted to tell you that you ask the right questions, you’re honest and care about things. BUT, There’s much for you to learn about what my grandfather called, Shiftings and Siftings.”

“Yes Chuck, I have one heck of a time getting to the facts, for sure. I appreciate your interest.”

“Ever tried to nail an eel to a tree Davy? Slimy devils. The trick is finding the right grip. If you’re wearin’ a glove it won’t work t’all. All those other interview shows wear gloves. Slimy gloves make it too easy for the eel to shift and git away. What we need are more bare handed interviewers like you. Grip them eels ’til you can sift out that truth, boy!”

“Fine wisdom sir. I’m honored and I won’t forget that.”

“Oh yeah, one more thing Davy, don’t never try to nail an eel to a tree. It ain’t kind and serves no purpose. I step on ’em myself.” With that Chuck’s chin dropped to his chest. Moments later he was asleep.

—————————————————-

“Good morning Nevada! This is David Sands on Talk 105. A special thanks to my new friend Chuck Rainwater. My guest today is our mayor who intends to ban pee-wee football, sugary soft drinks and fun in general… welcome to the first segment of “Git a Grip and Watch Your Step”…

Random Word Story #29~Humble Pie in your Eye

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by randomwordgenerator.net

wordplay…scrubland…kinswoman…pill…irratatingly

Here’s my story:

It’s a common occurrence  in families. Doctors come from a long line of doctors…teachers seem to be generated within blood lines too. So when Jillian decided to become a water witch she suspected that she was the “fly in the ointment” of her scientific family.

Jillian spent her Thanksgiving reunion in a silent fuddle. Her Dad, the physicist, tipped his head toward her with a raised eyebrow and asked, “So how are those studies going?” He emphasized studies in a way that she was familiar. He could irritatingly infer that she was a kook even when his interest seemed genuine. No one else had been informed of her career choice so the introduction of the subject stung a bit.

She’d spent 6 months in a desert scrubland with no positive results and was beginning to question her skills and whether or not she just might fit the kook label after all. Failure was a hard pill to swallow in her family, especially hard for a deviant from science like herself. She had a dozen successes under her belt. That certainly wasn’t a shabby record. Jillian had stepped in when “scientists” had failed more than once.

Dowsers use divining rods attempting to find water. The practice was ancient and had saved many a farm from dust and despair. Not knowing every reason for a practice certainly cannot preclude it from being scientific. Jillian stiffened her posture.

Dad continued to poke fun, “Jillian, dear, it would be divine if you’d pass the gravy.”

With that, Jillian decided to “come out of her mystic closet”. Dad’s wordplay was getting to her, big time. Suddenly her shame was from hiding her beloved profession.

“So, has everyone heard about my studies? I’m a water witch. A darn good one too!”

Heads lifted. Aunt Barbara condescendingly snickered into her napkin while cousin Frank, the legally blind entomologist, squinted at her through “coke-bottle” glasses. Jillian had always wondered why he didn’t study BIG creatures. What a joke!

Great-grandmother was the only accepting face at the table. She was also the only one who spoke.

“It appears you have a tough crowd to please, Jilly. I’ll bet they don’t know about a fine kinswoman who made her life as a dowser. My great-grandmother worked for Abraham Lincoln himself don’t ya know. She’d be so very proud.”

Every face fell.

Jillian felt redeemed and raised an eyebrow directly at her father.

“Hey Dad, want some humble pie with that gravy?”

Random Word Story # 28~ Testy Terms

Random words generated by: randomwordgenerator.net

adequately…light-headed…laminates…refresher…testiest

Here’s my story:

Gomme_da_masticare

There was nothing Mia could do once the agreement was signed. She needed a roommate and Holt was the only one who had answered her ad. So she overlooked his testy attitude which was a big mistake.

Holt had answered her invitation with questions galore. Some like, “Would he have bathroom access between 6:00 and 7:00 am?” were understandable. Asking her not to ever chew bubblegum, in his company, was bizarre. But, his references checked out and were stunning, to say the least. Even his credit score, which he should have embossed on a medallion and worn on a chain, was as close to perfect as she’d ever seen. Mia worked, afternoons and evenings, at a savings and loan and she was impressed. His testiness could be overlooked in favor of paying the rent on time. Mia was hopeful for the weight of debt to be lifted.

As Holt set up his basement abode, his tidy nature served as a refresher course in organized behavior. Everything had its place and she found his labels, which of course he laminates, quite efficient. Holt was going to be a life saver.

He hadn’t even cared that the basement was dark. He assured her that he could adequately light it with fragrant candles and a bare 25 watt bulb.

Months went by and Mia never saw Holt, never heard him either, but she was very happy to discover his rent money placed in her mailbox with a laminated note, FOR RENT, on the first of each month.

When she received her Amazon purchase wrapped in many layers of bubble wrap, Holt was the furthest thing from her mind. With a child-like grin she playfully stomped the heck out it beneath her shoe.

“Pop, padda, pop,pop!”

Seconds later, Holt burst through her door carrying an assault rifle. His eyes were wild and his attitude was, well, the testiest! Mia dove for the floor as he sprayed her apartment with bullets until all that remained was the clicking of an empty magazine.

Within minutes, police surrounded her building and extracted a blubbering heap once known as Holt. Mia would be nauseated and light-headed for days.

It was three months before she recovered. The accumulation of new debt was enough for her to try out a new roommate. This time, she presented the prospect with her own questionnaire. The woman read and answered every question, then giggled, “What does bubblegum have to do with anything?”

Random Word Story # 27~ The Gloved Hand of Fate

Random words generated by…creativitygames.net

sparrow pillow policeman headline hygiene definition

Here’s my story:

English: A pile of pillows.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Newton was the definition of perfect hygiene. Ever since he was small, he was germ conscious. So when it came to choosing his new pillow, Newton took no chances.

He spent hours, which became days,…and months, choosing the most hygienic replacement for the place his face would rest, half of the time, in each day. Sampling was his biggest obstacle though. How might he give a new pillow a serious try when other customers would have placed their germy noggin upon any prospect? Newt had become an expert in avoiding contaminants in his 22 years and the “pillow problem” was not going to defeat him. So, he devised a solution by covering his head and face with extra-large surgical gloves. It was quite a stretch, indeed. But Newton was determined and the scoffs and laughing of patrons did not interfere in the least.

His inspiration for the “war on germs” was a near-death experience with influenza as a child. Newt vividly remembered struggling for air and the pictures of the doctors faces, sullen and clueless. His mom’s sobbing from somewhere beyond, still woke him out of dreams in a cold sweat. His asthma was a condition not a death sentence, after all.

The term “all natural” had become his signature. “All natural Newt” researched his selection and was thrilled to find a shop which proclaimed everything beyond its door held the desired title. Naturally Nature, a small store next to Organic Offerings, had an ad in the directory and pillows were boldly printed in their inventory list. Newton, armed with surgical gloves, was finally optimistic about finding his new pillow. He made a purchase and his first, direct, contact with his $200.00 gem came that evening.

The headline in the newspaper two days later: Man Killed by Sparrows

The article read: A policeman at the scene, tried to resuscitate Newton Jones who appears to has suffocated. A pillow filled with sparrow feathers was found beside the deceased. Although illegal in this country, sparrow feathers are used in imported products. Apparently, Mr. Jones had a violent allergic reaction to the feathers. When the victim was discovered, foul play was assumed due to the surgical glove stretched over his face. After a brief investigation, it was deemed a desperate attempt by Jones to relieve his symptoms. Coroners claim he suffocated by his own glove…hand.

Random Word Story #26~Not for Profit

Infrared remote control receiver for Arduino

profit…ticket…old man…vet…sofa…war

There was a battle going on and Ben, this time, was only a spectator. He felt powerless…

As he wrapped himself in the afghan and settled into the sofa, he automatically probed the spaces for his TV remote. He considered what to watch realizing, only then, that he was unaware of the day and date. How long? His mind scrambled for a recent event that he could use as a landmark. Nothing… He was a military vet, now at  war, with himself.

A chopper roared overhead and as the dust cleared, he was back on base. The US flag gave a crack, as the wind wrestled with it, straight above his head. #1 mess hall was emptying. There were fly boys everywhere. He was momentarily startled but smiled broadly when his “brothers” approached him. They were cackling with laughter and he couldn’t wait to hear the joke.

Ben raised his hand to wave and brought the remote from between the cushions. He wasn’t quite sure where he was until he noticed that Comedy Central was on. The TV was blaring laughter … now applause. Clap, clap, clapping…

Snap, snap, snapping went the artillery. It was dark. He was so afraid.

Covering his face with his hands, he felt wiry stubble and tried, oh so hard, to remember his last shave. An image of himself in the bathroom mirror pressed through the fog. He was wearing his Air Force uniform. Blood trickled from a shaving cut at the corner of his lip. He was no longer a ragged old man. His posture was stiff and his eyes were steady. As he wiped the blood with the back of his right hand, he noticed the TV remote was still in his grasp. Behind him was the sun coming through the living room window. He was wrapped in the afghan and standing beside the sofa. He licked his lips. They tasted like iron.

Benjamin decided to make himself some tea to calm his nerves… the warmth and flavor always helped to anchor himself in the “here and now”. Whatever and where ever that was.

As he returned to his well-worn place, he felt steadier. It was Monday…yes, he was sure of it. He had reached to the bottom of the tea container for the famous quotation ticket and noticed he still held it in one hand. Ben shook, a bit, as he read it. Then he tore it into tiny pieces and tossed it into the air.

“Madness is tonic and invigorating. It makes the sane more sane. The only ones who are unable to profit by it are the insane.” Henry Miller

Random Word Story #25~Carl’s Adventure

An area of the Sierre Madre jungle

An area of the Sierre Madre jungle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by creativitygames.net

bird…threat…shadow…capital…sand…chewing gum

Here’s my story:

The jungle was thick, steamy and oppressive. Carl had no idea when he’d become lost. Guess that’s how getting lost happens. It poses more of a threat, though, when you’re in a jungle rather than on the highway.

The humming of insects was deafening. He faded back and forth, noticing the din, then ignoring it …feeling afraid, then exhilarated. His vacation was almost over and his adventure was only beginning. He fumbled through his backpack taking inventory of his supplies. A compass…dang, why hadn’t he asked someone how to use it?… One unopened apple juice box …and one piece of chewing gum.

He felt helpless, yet for a moment, he was amused.

He thought, “MacGyver would even fold with these tools. Sucks to be me.”

Carl was a level-headed fellow. He considered himself safe until he wasn’t safe. No need to panic.

As the grin was fading from his face, there came a shadow from over head. A brightly colored bird was circling. It reminded him of a vulture from those Tarzan films he watched as a kid. When vultures arrived, folks knew they were in trouble with a capital “T”. He decided it might be a good idea to follow the bird. When he looked up again, he was hit in the face with a tremendous, wet dropping!

It was sandy and warm. His arms flailed! He couldn’t see! He couldn’t BREATHE!

“DUDE! Chill! It’s just a towel.”

Carl’s first sight was a purple kite flapping in the wind overhead. His next sensation was sound. Waves of the approaching high tide were drumming. His heart felt as though he’d just run a marathon. There was an afternoon steam rising from the over-baked sand in front of his beachfront accommodations…

It was then, the lifeguard retrieved his wet towel from Carl’s chest and walked into the sunset.

Random Word Story #24- The Coffee Shop Caper

Setta,japanese-leather-soled-sandals,japan

Setta,japanese-leather-soled-sandals,japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by creativitygames.net

Here’s my story from random words.

junk…power…croissant…sandals…pajamas…crowd

It appeared that the bloody sandals were all that remained of the unknown victim. The grizzly discovery was near the dumpster of the Dunkin’ Doughnuts that occupied the corner opposite the new Starbucks. It was 7:45 am so crowd control was a nightmare. The police officers had been stopping on their usual rounds of the coffee shops. A stereotypical event for sure.

There had been a wave of panic in the small city after it had been shaken to the core with two murders in two days. Officer O’Malley (yes stereotypical) barricaded the area with his 260 pound , mostly muscular, body.  He waved at civilians, some in pajamas, and shouted for them to keep their distance. There was great power in his baritone voice.

“This is a crime scene folks! Stay back!”

In the meantime, the workings of the coffee shop continued unabated. Even the screams of the elderly bag lady who discovered the shoes had not risen above the din of fans and pans in the bake shop. So when Maurice swung open the back door with an armful of junk, he visibly jumped from the start that the scene gave him.

Officer O’Malley appeared beside him.

“Maurice, you’ll have to stand back inside. We have detectives about to arrive. ” He pointed to the ground a few feet away. The sandals had already begun drawing flies. They were sticking to the coagulating redness.

Maurice pressed on. He had work to do. They danced from left to right until Maurice took an opportunity to dip beneath a bulky arm.

After depositing the junk in the dumpster he scooped up the sandals. He raised them to his nose as a collective gasp and one wretch of nausea came from spectators.

“Yup, strawberry.”

He tossed the sandals back to the ground and re-entered the shop abruptly slamming the door behind him.

A taxi blaring an impatient horn was the only sound for miles. Then pockets of snickering ending with a back slapping roar as the misunderstanding became clear.

About 20 minutes passed before O’Malley, still red-faced, sauntered to the counter on the inside. Maurice shouted, “The usual 3 strawberry cremes and a decaf?”

The officer looked at his shoes as he whispered,” Make it a croissant today, will ya?”

Random Word Story #23-Bromance

English: Rainbow trout

English: Rainbow trout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another in my series of short stories.

I’ve yet to write it but sit armed and ready.

The random words are generated at creativitygames.net

My words are:

beer…champagne…TV…hammer…tapestry…fish

Here’s my story:

The fish cleared the water’s surface and sparkled in the sunlight then disappeared, head first, back to the black depths. The fishing pole reacted just  like a divining rod, as it tipped and touched the surface pointing out exactly where the fish re-entered. Dale couldn’t believe the exhilaration involved in this wonderful, brand new activity.

He’d made friends with Chuck quite accidentally. Chuck was the first responder when Dale’s compact car had become wedged beneath an 18 wheeler with Dale pinned inside. Chuck’s reassuring voice had kept him calm. Chuck’s skilled hands had saved his life and their friendship was taking him places he’d never considered.

It was while Dale watched the heroic news video on TV at the hospital, that he had decided to thank Chuck personally.

They met at a local pub for drinks. Chuck ordered a draft beer and Dale had a celebratory glass of champagne since his hospital release had been only two days before. Their choices of beverages pretty much described their backgrounds. The odd, yet colorful, tapestry of a wonderful friendship had been started in that meeting. Some would call it a” bromance “…just two guys who really enjoyed each others company.

Dale had offered Chuck a guest membership at his country club. To Dale’s amazement, everyone liked Chuck immediately. He was in one word, genuine, and that transcended all social preconceptions of his worth. Crowds gathered ’round him to listen to stories, in improper grammar, of what he considered “just a job”.

Now off of the lake, Chuck was frying Dale’s prize catch.  He was not at all intimidated by social status. In fact, Chuck seemed happily unaware for the most part. Their wives had encouraged their outings and Dale was feeling a weight, greater than that semi, lifted from his spirit.

“Maybe we should invite your buddy Jackson next time old man? I’d love to see him baiting a hook with those pink gloves of his.”

“I don’t think he’d come , Chuck. He wouldn’t know what the proper angling attire is.”

“Neither did you and I’d say you are doing alright.”

They sat down to the fresh trout dinner and realized that they had forgotten to bring eating utensils.

“Use your fingers Dale. The fish won’t bite cha. We’ve got soap and water you know.”

Dale ate the best tasting meal in his memory, with his fingers.

“Here, try the eye. You fellas would pay big money for those if they were served on a plate with capers and a fancy sauce. Go ahead, old man.”

As the sun dropped behind the trees and long shadows reached their retreat, Dale reached for his cell phone. His wife wasn’t going to believe the wild adventure that he was having. There was NO service. He was disconnected.

As Chuck handed him an ice-cold beer, he could see the angst in Dale’s face. He casually reached into an old toolbox and approached him with a hammer. Dale suddenly felt as though it had all been a mistake. He was with a crazy man, a Neanderthal, maybe a serial killer. Why hadn’t he listened, why had he trusted?

Chuck laughed out loud at the sight of his new friend in total panic. What a boob!  His work with Dale was far from over, he could tell that for sure.

” I can fix that phone. Let me at it. ”

Later that evening they sat by the campfire and laughed until their sides hurt.