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Wonderful News… for me anyways

15 January 2013 in A Day in the Life

Good news for me and for anyone who may be still on the reading end of this blog:  I’ve started with my creative writing courses once again.  Starting tonight I will update at least once per week for the next … 10ish weeks anyways.  If I do my homework, it will be even MORE frequent.

What I’m also hoping for is a commitment to myself to continue the weekly writing beyond the end of my class.  Who knows – if i do this regularly and assert myself, i could potentially make enough money to buy a coffee every now and then.

In the meantime, I am calling upon you – the internet – to comment and criticize everything I do.  I really want to hear what you have to say.

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On The Vine

16 September 2012 in 20 Minute Stories

* Note – Although I’ve listed this as a 20 Minute Story, this was actually closer to ten.  Sorry for anyone who was expecting more story after such a long break.  I promise to everyone, but especially myself, that more is coming.
He wasn’t quite sure where things went wrong.  Life started out in sunshine and bliss.  Surrounded by family and friends, he grew quickly and became plump with sweetness and joy.
But then things shifted.  The days grew hot and long.  People started to come to his home and stare, almost as if they were inspecting him and his family.  Judging them silently.  On occasion, they would grab him or one of his siblings and give a little squeeze.
It was an uncomfortable summer.  The humidity teamed up with torturous heat, and it seemed as though the hotter the weather got, the more people would come by to stare, squeeze, observe.
Then there was terror.
Early that fateful morning they could hear the machines.  He’d lost many of his family and friends that summer and wasn’t sure he could take whatever horror these noises would bring.
The roaring of the machines grew louder, closer, louder, closer. He was torn from his vine, sucked into a tube and dumped into a massive pile.  Thousands of his kind lie there motionless, silent.  Were they dead?  Maybe they were playing possum in the hopes that this monstrosity would release them.  He could take the chaos of sorting through the bodies of his departed brothers if it meant at least some of them would survive.
But things didn’t go as he dreamed.  When the machine finally stopped, it wasn’t to release him, his friends and his family.  En masse, they were dumped onto a conveyor belt and passed under artificial lights, each a dozen times hotter than the hottest summer day he’d ever experienced.  He could feel his skin cooking and shrinking on him.  He gasped.  No amount of rain could save him now.  He looked at himself, and around at his family.  Their flesh browned and wrinkled in front of him.
The conveyor belt continued, then suddenly stopped, and he dropped through the floor.  He and and a hundred of his friends dumped instantly into a box, squished down tight.  Everything went dark.
“Pierre, the only thing I love more than my kitty is a good box of raisins eh!” exclaimed Jean-Jacques.
Jean-Jacques was an ox of a man.  Nearly seven feet tall and closer to three hundred pounds than he cared to admit, he could fall more trees than most of the other lumberjacks he worked with, but he had two weaknesses:  kittens, and raisins.
Jean-Jacques ripped the red boxtop off the box of sunmaid raisins and dumped them all into his mouth at once, then turned to Pierre and grinned.
Pierre, an unusually small grey tabby with one normal ear and one slightly folded ear, looked off to one side as if to say “je mange les souris, pas les raisins secs…”
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JACK THE STRIPPER

11 February 2012 in 20 Minute Stories

*  Note – I’m seriously debating making this a longer story.  Let me know what you think!

Jack had weighed out all of his options and he was convinced that this was the best way to earn a ton of money, like NOW.  Every movie or TV show he had seen over his forty-two years of existence led him to believe that this was a perfect way to make money, as long as he could stay away from drugs.

Drugs.  He wasn’t sure if he had a problem with them.  The only ones he took were the ones that his doctor gave to him, but even then he knew he could quit those if he wanted to.  It has been a week since the last time he took one of his pills, the longest he’d gone in over ten years he figured.  The last couple of days were starting to bring back memories.  The vivid dreams and Tom’s friendly advice were coming back.  Jack had to be careful how much he listened to Tom though.  That guy could be great company when he woke up screaming in the middle of the night from the dreams, but sometimes the things he told Jack to do were in poor tastes, or sometimes just plain dangerous.

Stripping was all Jack’s idea though.  Tom offered a few laughs when Jack mentioned the idea one day at work.  Jack hated when Tom laughed at him at work.  It always made him lose count of the coke bottles as they whisked by.

Jack let the bottles whisk by just a few seconds longer.  He loved how when he shifted his focus the line almost seemed like a huge python slithering quickly past.  Man, he hoped that python doesn’t bite.

A shake of the head and Tom went back inside for a while so Jack could count bottles and ponder his future in exotic dancing.

“Easy money,” Jack thought, “I already take my clothes off AT LEAST twice a day.  Three times if you count pyjamas.”  He knew the perfect place to apply for a job too.  There was that new club “The Landing Strip” out by the airport.  They’ve had a sign for ages that said “We’re Always Looking for New Talent.”

Jack smiled a little, wondering what talents he’d need as an exotic dancer.  He knew he was great at carving and sculpting.  He had six shelves on the bathroom wall with gargoyles carved from soap.  Irish Spring for the most part.  He always loved how that brand smelled.  His doctor always cautioned him against hobbies involving knives though.  Jack didn’t really pay much attention to what Dr. Grant had to say any more.  The only reason he kept going back to the doctor was for the pills, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to take the pills at all any more because he had really been missing Tom lately.

Jack’s shift at the cola plant ended at eight thirty that night.  Usually he would stick around with the guys, listening to how they’d done things with their girlfriends that their wives would kill them for.  He did this mostly to try to fit in, but the guys never invited him anywhere.  Lately, Tom had been dodging the post-work hangout.  Everyone looked at Jack weird when he talked to Tom, and if he ignored Tom, he’d never hear the end of it when he was trying to sleep that night.

Tonight was the night, he figured.  He was going to The Landing Strip to apply to be a stripper.

Forty-five minutes and three buses later he arrived.  He gazed up at the huge sign and couldn’t help but return the smile of the beautiful woman painted upon it.  A deep breath and then a pause.  Surveying the parking lot revealed not only Jerry’s car, but Al’s as well.  He loved Jerry’s car – an Oldsmobile 442 with racing stripes on it – but this was completely unexpected.

“Get this over with or I’m gonna let you have it,” Tom threatened.  One more deep breath and Jack walked in.

Jack wasn’t really sure what to expect before he set foot inside the dimly lit, smoke-filled club.  Movies were one thing, but those were just movies.  These were real women.  Real NAKED women.  He could hear Tom laughing at him, but he ignored the laughter and ridicule and kept on walking.  He couldn’t determine if the unwelcome stares from the semi-nude women around him were tricks of the trade, or jealousy epitomized, but he definitely had plenty of job interview discomfort and no support whatsoever from Tom.

The man in the far corner of The Landing Strip was easily six foot six and three hundred fifty pounds.  Three feet of braided beard hung down in front of him masking a beer stained Landing Strip T-Shirt with a silhouette of a woman on it.  His eyes looked at every customer with a message of “don’t screw around.  Not in my place, bud.”  Jack assumed that since he was the only person wearing a shirt to represent the place, that he would be the person to talk to.  He slowly, deliberately made his way over.  He could see Jerry and Al out of the corner of his eye.  Jerry was pointing in Jack’s direction, probably jealous that he didn’t come up with the idea first.

“What do you want a–hole?”

Not the greeting Jack was expecting from the braid-bearded man, but it would have to do.  Jack was here for business, so he couldn’t let himself take things personally.  “I’m here about the sign out front.  The one that says you’re looking for new talent.  I love dancing, strip very well, and am very talented.”

“What, are you effing retarded??  Come back when you grow some tits, and until then eff off before I personally throw your butt through the window.”

Again, not quite the reply Jack was looking for.  Especially since there were no windows.

“Kill him now,” said Tom.

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Groundhog Day

2 February 2012 in 20 Minute Stories

Elton gazed at his door from his bed.  He’d been dreading this day for months.  Every year those tall, loud creatures would gather around the front door, staring intently, waiting for him to come out.  He could never figure out the purpose of this tradition.  Sometimes he would forget that they were going to be there and their ecstatic cheers would scare the crap out of him, causing him to haul ass back inside and hide with his head under the covers for six more weeks.  Such a pain.  This year, he was ready for them though.  He had been listening to the thunderous stomping of their fat feet all morning.  They had no grace, no respect.  He was ready this year.

He looked around at the mess.  He was so glad the tall, loud creatures weren’t smart enough to come inside to find him, and that they seemed to spend the cold months forgetting about his existence.  Every January 16th was Groundhog’s Day of Vengeance.  A day when the Groundhogs would gather in groups and track down one of those smelly, sloppy creatures and kill it for their annual feast.

In recent years, the village of the tall, loud creatures just outside of Groundhog Village had been growing in size, making the annual feast more plentiful and the annual hunt much easier.  Elton smiled as he recalled tales his grandfather used to tell about having to go into the tall, loud creatures’ dens to fetch one of the smaller ones.  Nowadays the hunt was much more simple.  They could go out in smaller groups, hide in the shadows between the tall, loud creatures’ dens and pick off one that was injured or had that oddly sweet smell to them and was walking funny.  He liked those ones the best, their meat always had a better taste to it.

This year, Elton kept souvenirs.  Usually the village elders all kept something from the annual kill.  Elton hadn’t quite risen to the ranks of village elder, but he was older than most of the others in the village that weren’t elders and he felt this was his year.  He looked at the eyeball in the corner and wondered if it was looking back at him.  He kind of hoped it was.  Thank goodness those creatures outside couldn’t see in.  A few years ago one of the creatures picked him right up off the ground.  They could be deceptively strong, especially when the numbers were turned in their favour.  That year Elton bit down on the hand that grabbed him, which resulted in chaos.  A quick drop to the ground, then two others grabbed him, bagged him, and threw him in a cage.

He spent weeks in that cage, practically starving on the weak rations of green vegetables and seeds that they fed him, and the bowl of dirty water they put in his bed.  Vegetables and seeds were good as side dishes, or a snack while out on the hunt, but not as a meal replacement.  And who puts water in their bed?  The best he could do was kick some of the wood shavings into the water, hoping that it would soak it up, making caged life a bit more comfortable.

The weeks in that cage were long.  There was no darkness.  The sun never set inside the tall, loud creatures dens.  It was virtually impossible to tell how long he had been there, what time of day it was, and whether he would ever be free.  For the first few days he could gauge the time by the hunger pangs, but the terrible prison rations the tall, loud creatures kept feeding him turned the pain of hunger into a continuous ache that slowly sucked out his free will and independence.

As the isolation continued, the insanity slowly crept in.  His fear began to turn to acceptance.  At the beginning of his imprisonment, he loathed his captors.  With each day seamlessly slipping into the next, he started to welcome their company.  Occasionally they would give him a good scratch behind his ears, or rub his slowly emptying belly.  Then, as quickly as he was captured, he was dropped off at the far end of their village, just a little too close to enemy lines for his liking.  This is where the coyote clan lived, and although there WAS peace with the coyotes, tensions were always high with them.

The two day journey back to Groundhog Village left Elton with a new respect for the tall, loud creatures.  He went to great lengths to avoid being seen by them, while continuously dodging the paths that he knew were frequented by the coyotes.  His grandfather, a wise old groundhog who had served as chief elder for two seasons before being killed in the last great coyote war, had always advised to stay away from anything that seemed too convenient.

Elton shook his head.  He had been lost in the gaze of the eye.  It reminded him of lessons learned and wisdom to be passed to further generations.  He smiled, licked his hand and ran it through his hair, nibbled on a tick and headed towards the door.  He was ready for the crowd.  He would keep his cool this year.  He could smell the mild dampness in the air and knew that it would be overcast today.  You had to be careful out there.  Seeing the shadow of something creeping up behind you was something you had to be wary about, and an overcast day meant no shadows.

It had been a few years since it was overcast…

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Ice Flow

31 January 2012 in 20 Minute Stories

*  Note, this story is quite incomplete, but I felt like putting something here for people to read in the event they wanted something to read.  Enjoy!

It was supposed to be a joke.  Now he was standing there drifting further and further away.  No cell phone reception, no radio.  Just himself.  It was no longer a joke.

That summer holiday was supposed to be the best.  James had been waiting his whole life for this summer vacation.  As early as he could remember, he’d dreamed of exploring the arctic.  As a child he would spend hours every cold winter day creating snow caves, snow mountains, snow trails.  Every day he explored the uncharted regions of the back yard and every night when it finally became too dark to explore, he would recount the details of his expeditions to his mother in great detail over hot chocolate … with marshmallow icebergs, as he explained to his mother.

Twenty years later, here he was.  Sitting on a six foot by eight foot piece of ice, floating just a little too far away from shore.  It was supposed to be a joke.  James had seen the prison cell sized piece of ice just slightly off shore, hopped over to it and pushed off just a little bit.  He had absolutely no idea that only a meter off shore the current would grab the miniature non-marshmallow iceberg and carry it quickly away from safety.  Shouting to the rest of the expedition crew proved to be futile; the winds picked up quickly, carrying his voice in the wrong direction.

By the time the rest of the crew came back into his line of sight, he was hundreds of feet off shore and not properly dressed for the swim back.  James started mentally preparing himself for the endless ridicule and I-Told-You-So’s that were inevitably awaiting him when he got rescued.  Through the years of university and the plethora of warning from his crew, he knew that this ranked pretty high on the list of stupid things to do.

So James stood there and waited.

And then he sat down and waited.

And then he stood back up and waited some more.

The rest of the expedition crew were long out of sight now.  He wasn’t sure if his waving and shouting had done any good.  Thankfully he was mindful enough to choose the traffic-cone bright orange snow gear today, so when the helicopters or boats came by he would be easy to spot.

More standing, sitting, and standing soon followed.  James checked his wrist where his watch should be, only to remind himself that it was too cold for the LCD display to work.

He looked up.  The sun hung low in the sky that morning.  Or afternoon.  James had no idea.  It could be evening for all he knew.  He was far enough north that the sun never really set at this time of year and he had no idea how long he’d been standing, then sitting, then standing again.  What he did know was that his toes no longer hurt from the cold and his fingers were definitely a blueish hue.  Although he was starting to lose sensation in his fingers, he could feel the frost on the stubble that had accumulated on his face and he didn’t want to think of how moronic he looked with the snotcicles he had tired of wiping from his nose.

The hours dragged on and James hoped and prayed for an ending.  He closed his eyes and pictured himself as a child, chilled to the core, shivering, crawling through the snow tunnels.  He knew that when the down-deep cold started to set in that he could leap up through the escape tunnel and make a mad dash into the kitchen where there was no doubt a mug of hot chocolate waiting there for him in his favourite mug, the green one with the very hungry caterpillar on it.  If he had made his bed that morning, his mother would let him have a cookie to dunk into his hot chocolate too.

This morning, James had made his bed, and right now he really wanted to leap out of the escape tunnel.  But there was no escape, there was no cookie, and there was no hot chocolate.  James gave up the standing part of his routine some time back in favour of sitting and holding his legs close to him …

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Overheard

26 January 2012 in 20 Minute Stories

*  Note, this story took slighly longer than 20 minutes, and was broken up into two writing sessions.  Not necessarily homework for my writing class, but along the same lines.  Enjoy!

Henry stared intently at her lips as she spoke.  “Not quite sure about the shade of lipstick she’s wearing, but it isn’t terrible” he thought to himself.  He found generally if he focused on the movement of people’s mouths, it helped him to focus on what people were saying out loud to him.  Now if only he could drown out the voices of what they WEREN’T saying, his life could go back to the “normal” he had before his office building burned down.  He’d managed to track everything back to that one day five years earlier.  A fantastically bizarre assembly of circumstances that left him with the ability-turned-curse of being able to hear what everyone was thinking as if they were saying the words out loud.

That damned building fire.  Henry cursed it at least once a day.  The chain reaction of events set in motion by some disgruntled employee two floors down from his own office and ended up with him standing outside with an open afternoon and the ultimate decision – spend an afternoon trying out something new at “Uncle Ronnie’s Hot Yoga and Massage Studio” or spend the afternoon trying something he typically tried on thursdays – all you can eat afternoon buffet at “Fried China!”  He gazed into the window of Uncle Ronnie’s and was met by the blank, empty stare of the employees.  Everyone that worked there had the same expression.  In one way it was devoid of emotion and thought, but at the same time longing for an escape from the mental prison.  They almost never spoke unless it was to tell you of availabilities or prices, or so he’d heard.  The office was full of gossip.  “I wish i could hear what you all are thinking” he mumbled to himself, lost in the same blank, empty stare.  He was quickly jolted out of this trance as an old lady with far too many grocery bags for a person her age to be holding bumped into him from behind.

“Chinese food buffet it is,” Henry decided to himself.  He wasn’t quite ready to validate or debunk the rumoured oddities that Uncle Ronnie may or may not have to offer in his studio.  A healthy dose of Pineapple Chicken Balls was the perfect addition to a day that had already been comprised of two conference calls and an office fire.

The staff seemed particularly mouthy that afternoon, and the slightly below average sized crowd seemed excessively loud.  It sounded as though there were twice as many people yammering on about completely incoherent things.  It wasn’t until he heard the waitress’s snide remark of “Oh great, this guy tips worse than my grandmother” while the waitress’s mouth was saying “Here is your change sir” that he realized something strange was afoot.

For the first few weeks Henry got a real kick out of his new found ability.  Cutting off his boss with the great idea his boss was thinking of, telling his clients what they wanted to hear before they could say it… being able to hear what people were thinking seemed fantastic.

As the weeks passed and turned into months, the blessing started to evolve into something less desirable.  He used to think that it would be great to know what people were thinking when he passed them in the street, but those thoughts were not always pleasant ones to hear.  Many of the bad thoughts that entered his mind when he saw people as “undesirable” were just as bad, and often worse, coming from the people he encountered by chance on a daily basis.

Henry found himself growing more self-conscious as each day passed.  Every thought of “oh, i can see his nose hair,” “gross, look at that pimple,” or even “did that guy get his cologne out of a toilet at an amusement park?” drove him more and more over the edge.  Showering repeatedly couldn’t get rid of the smell, and no matter how many swipes of the razor, eyebrow hairs plucked, or shirts run through the laundry, he couldn’t escape the criticism that practically screamed from people’s minds.

As time passed, Henry began forcefully drowning out people’s subconscious voices with loud music.  Five long years it took him to live with his “ability,” to accept that it had happened, and to learn to listen to people’s internal and external voices.  There was no way he could drown out the extra voices, but he learned how to listen to the ones that needed to be heard.  To him, it became like focusing on a conversation with a friend in a crowd – not always the easiest thing to do, but certainly tolerable.

Now Henry was here on his first date in years, the first date since that fateful building fire.  He focused intently on her red lipstick and her long auburn hair.  She had intriguing earrings that he was sure could carry on a conversation themselves.  He studied the print on her dress – fashion from the early sixties he was certain.  Slightly odd, but delightfully eccentric.  He loved how the conversations flowed from her lips and poured out of her mind.  Both conversations were so riveting for Henry, it was quite difficult for him to focus on just one.

Now if only she would just think of what her name is…

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WATER BALLOON FIGHT

20 January 2012 in 20 Minute Stories

* Although this story will be placed in the 20 Minute Stories category, in the interest of full disclosure it DID take me a little longer than 20 minutes to write.

Additionally, the inspiration for this story came from the Machine Of Death collection of short stories.  Go HERE to read the back story first or none of this will make sense, then continue on to the jumbled mess of verbs, adverbs, adjectives and nouns I’ve assembled below.  Enjoy!

Chuck had always maintained that the idea was ridiculous.  “You’re not supposed to know how you die.  No creature on Earth should be burdened with that knowledge.  Do you think a gazelle would want to go on living knowing that it’s going to be eaten by a lion?”

“Of course it knows it’s going to be eaten by a lion.  Gazelles spend their whole lives eating, crapping, and running away from lions. You do have a point, you just need to make it.”

Trixie, his wife and high school sweetheart, always had a way of making him feel both smart and stupid at the same time.  She had the test done five years ago when the machines first started popping up in doctor’s offices.  Her card said TOAST.  It didn’t phase her at all though.  People who got bizarre cards usually had these life-altering moments.  Epiphanies, he supposed, where they decide they’re going to turn their lives around in some effort to cheat death.  Ten years and millions of cards with millions of accurately predicted deaths around the world proved that not only was the machine abundantly right, but also that it was abundantly weird.  Far too vague and ironic with its predictions for Chucks unsettled mind.

“You’ve been stressing about these damned machines for years.  Complaining, protesting … how many more sleepless nights do you need to go through?  How much more money do you need to waste on therapy?”

Again, she was entirely right.  For years, Chuck had been as obsessed with the Machines of Death, as he liked to call them, as his mother was with collecting ceramic Virgin Marys.  And anyone who had seen what Chuck’s mother had done with his room after he moved out would realize just how bad things had gotten for him.

That night was no different than most others.  Trixie fell asleep watching repeats of “Golden Girls” while Chuck stared at the stucco on the ceiling.  He found that by studying the subtle differences in the little stucco bits, he could start to lose himself in the seemingly infinite combination of shapes rather than wonder if the reason Betty White was still alive was because she was the only one who didn’t get the test.

As the TV shut itself off, Chuck’s attention turned to the clock.  There would be no sleep tonight, just counting the minutes as they ticked past.  Every change of the time was a new possible prediction of his demise.

“What if it says CANCER, and I have nothing worthwhile to be stressing about?”

“What if it says COCAINE OVERDOSE?  I’ve never done it before and don’t have any intention of doing it?”

“What if it says WATER BALLOON FIGHT?  How the crap am I supposed to figure that one out?  I’ll go crazy with that one.  More so.”

Four hundred and seventy five scenarios later, Chuck hauled himself out of bed.  Even if he did manage to find sleep, his hyper active obsessive compulsive brain dragged him out of bed at five minutes to six every single day.

“I would die EVERY MORNING if that stupid card said COFFEE.”

The wittiest remark he would make all day was followed by the sound of crickets chirping.  Which reminded him that he needed to feed the iguana later on.

He glanced at the now-empty pot of coffee, then up at the clock – 7:05 am.  He was getting worse.  It used to be that he at least felt awake by seven o’clock; lately he was just debating a second pot of coffee by seven.  If the stress of worrying about the Machine wasn’t going to kill him, it would surely be a caffeine overdose that did him in.  He was pretty sure that he consumed so much of it every day that he probably smelled like a Tim Horton’s most of the time.

That was it.  He called into his boss’s office phone and turned on his best sick voice.  It wasn’t too difficult for him considering he hadn’t slept more than two hours in the last 72.

Chuck chose the Wal-Mart on the far side of town.  When they’d enacted the bill to privatize health care, the machines started popping up everywhere.  Wal-Mart had the best price (of course), being nearly five dollars cheaper than anywhere else, but you had the line-ups to deal with.  Most important was the “other side of town” part.  Chuck, being the type to dwell on the worst of outcomes, was hoping that if he ended up making a scene, that at least nobody would recognize him.

The line-up was more torture than Chuck was expecting.  The woman in front of him smelled like she had spent the last week sitting on an open package of bacon in a poorly ventilated house while smoking the second least expensive cigarettes on the market.  She kept exclaiming to everyone and nobody in particular that she’d been here four effing times and even though she’d cut back to ten smokes a day the effing thing kept telling her LUNG CANCER.

Sixteen minutes and four horribly irritating people later, it was Chuck’s turn.  He could feel the stares of the people in line behind him while he himself stared at the machine in disbelief.  There was no turning back now, although he was REALLY regretting not calling his therapist before coming here.  It wasn’t until he dropped his credit card on the floor that he realized his hands were shaking terribly.  University acceptance letters and his first job interview didn’t hold a candle to how he felt now.  Sweating, sleepless, unshaven and disheveled … the thought of how he’d probably end up on the People of Wal-Mart web site distracted his anxiety long enough for him to swipe his credit card and stick his hand in the receptacle of the machine.

Chuck didn’t even notice the pin prick had happened, or that the blood test was in progress until the tell-tale “DING” went off and his card popped out of the slot.  In recent years, the machines had been designed to spit the card out upside down to give you the last-minute opportunity to put your tail between your legs and run away without seeing it.

One last deep breath and a moment of calm warmed over Chuck.  It was as if the sun had come up on a warm summer day and he had just awoken to the sweet smell of cinnamon buns baking.  He grabbed the card, flipped it over and glanced at what was printed on it.

The baking cinnamon buns were gone.  The clouds rolled in.

Chuck’s smile disappeared as quickly as it came; his face went as grey as the sky was that morning.  He simply dropped the card to the ground and stiffly walked away.

Elvis, or so he preferred to be called, was next in line.  At six foot eight and well over three hundred pounds, he always figured he could end up in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Elvis Impersonator if he had a little more time to work on his singing voice.

He picked up Chuck’s card off of the floor and walked off with it thinking to himself, “What a dummy. Now I get his card and I don’t even have to pay!”

He flipped it over and read it.  WATER BALLOON FIGHT.  Man, he couldn’t wait for the guys at Dominic’s Forklift and Spoons Warehouse to hear about this.

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1

Friendly Stranger

19 January 2012 in 20 Minute Stories

*  A quick note – the following story was written in 20 minutes as homework for my first creative writing class.  Enjoy!

“Is she going to make those awesome cookies?”

“Of course she is.  You know she always bakes when we have people over.”

“Well if your woman is baking, I’ll be there with bells on!”

It was always that extra line that got to me.  I’d noticed the last few times I invited Tom over that instead of an immediate response, it was always a negotiation that was somehow quickly by resolved by my wife’s company.  Is she making cookies? Is she going to buy a round of drinks?  Can she be on my team for Wii Bowling? and the one that grated me the most… “Dude, your wife is like my favourite person in the world.”

I always wanted to respond with “Dude, YOUR wife should be your favourite person in the world, not MY wife,” but the words never came out.  I mean, he’s my best friend right?  For a long time too. We go way back.  Years now.  Heck, he was the best man at my wedding.  Come to think of it, it was my wife … well, my girlfriend at the time … that introduced us.  When we were still just “seeing” each other, I bumped into them at the mall and we all had an awesome day.

Just once though, I’d love to be able to hang out with the guy and not have my wife’s presence be the key factor in that happening.  Come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve ever hung out with Tom for an extended period of time when my wife wasn’t around.  Tom never came out to poker nights, bowling apparently bothered his back, and despite him being my best man, he was MIA for my bachelor party.  Nobody knew where he was that night, and rather than an explanation the next day, just a promise … “Don’t worry dude, I’ll TOTALLY get you back for last night.”

What the hell did he mean by that anyways?

I swallowed my jealous feelings with the last sip of Guinness in my glass.  I had developed a taste for stout in high school when everyone else thought it just tasted foul.  Fifteen years later and I can’t seem to go a day without it.

Standing up proved a little more challenging than expected.  The daily routine of stopping for a pint had developed a tumor of sorts on Thursdays, one that measured several pints in diameter and generally resulted in a lot of pain on Friday morning.

A glance around after I had gained my post-pint stability showed there to be no Tom.  A survey of bar staff showed that I was no longer to be served, and that the guy in the plaid flannel shirt and acid wash jeans had left some time earlier after grabbing my car keys while I was wallowing in self pity and mumbling incoherently.  Good thing he grabbed my keys though, I was certainly in no condition to drive.  And it didn’t involve my wife’s cookies.

Consulting the GPS on my phone, I discovered West with Magellan-like accuracy and set off on the sixteen block mystery trek towards home.  I’m pretty sure my wife was going to be less than impressed at my ability to consume pints of Ireland’s finest stout, but there would be no doubting the pride she would be overwhelmed with when i recounted my adventure through mounds of snow through velociraptor filled streets to get home to her, where she was no doubt waiting with a fresh baked pie.

Okay, so the quantity of carnivorous dinosaurs was negligible, but after a block or so I noticed something following me.  Two hundred million years of evolution and plate tectonics reminded me that the probability of dinosaurs was quite low.  My powers of deduction, now enhanced by Guinness and pretzels, drew me to conclude that the subtle footsteps I was hearing were likely coming from a human-like creature, most likely wearing shoes.

I spun around with the grace and stealth of a ninja with a drinking problem and saw only shadows and an old Buick parked in the wrong direction.  People were always parking their Buicks in the wrong direction.

On I walked.  Or Stumbled.  I didn’t remember having so many pints that I should feel quite this inebriated, but hey, what can you do.

My Spidey-Senses were still tingling though.  The distinct feeling of being followed was accompanied by the sound of footsteps.  Having just recently been disappointed by both my skills as a ninja and a dinosaur tracker, I decided that walking faster would be preferable.

A quicker pace and a message in my mind saying “don’t look back.  People in the movies don’t get killed until they look back …” didn’t drown out the dull thud of the non-reptilian feet approaching rapidly.

So I stopped.

Dead Silence.

Take THAT horror movies!  I’ve conquered you!  Don’t look back, stop in your tracks.  Recipe for success.

THUD.

My head hurts.

“She was mine first …”

Apparently, I dream about Unicorns.

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De-Stress Yourself by Doing Hot Yoga

18 January 2012 in 20 Minute Stories

*  A quick note – the following story was written in 20 minutes during my first creative writing class.  Enjoy!

It came to me in a fortune cookie.. “You may experience stress in the coming week.  De-stress yourself by doing Hot Yoga”

The fortune couldn’t have been more true.  Six high-profile clients have contracts up for renewal, we’re short-staffed by two people and for some reason, I deemed it to be a logical idea to quit drinking coffee this week.  Now I’m standing here with a fortune in one hand and a brief case in the other staring confusedly at the “Uncle Ronnie’s Hot Yoga and Massage Studio” sign across the street from the office.  I often joked with my boss about the place.  Just the name itself screamed “shady” to me.  “You’re kind of the shady guy in the office anyways, so you’ll fit right in,” he usually countered.

De-stress yourself by doing Hot Yoga

Was it ridiculous to try something just because I was told to by a cookie?  Hard to say, really.  The $20 I won from the “lucky numbers” in Lottomax were pointing my mind in one direction, but I had yet to encounter the wish-granting Gypsy.

I fished through my pockets for the other fortune.  There it is among the mounting pile of receipts … “A Gypsy will grant you a wish.”

I had been overly cautious over the last week to avoid saying “I wish” to anyone I encountered in the off chance they happened to be a Gypsy and I ended up getting stuck in a monkey-claw scenario I could only assume would end unfavourably.

Maybe Uncle Ronnie was a Gypsy?  Maybe my weekly craving for Lemon Chicken and Fried Rice were somehow a divine symbol.  Maybe the gods that sent me regularly for deep fried lunchy goodness were trying to reward me with ultimate relaxation and the potential for ultimate luxury.

Just one wish.  So much responsibility.  What if, upon seeing some horrifying mess in “Uncle Ronnie’s” studio I wished I could erase the memory from my mind … and Gypsy Uncle Ronnie didn’t hear me properly and erased my memory completely?  Maybe he has some sort of deal going on with the chinese food place and this is how he assembles cheap labour.  Maybe Uncle Ronnie’s Hot Yoga and Massage Studio is employed entirely by corporate slackers like myself that were hoping for some sort of easy-out.  The Big Score – a Hot Yoga session and the big lottery win.

How long have I been standing here debating this?  Snow had been accumulating on my dropped briefcase while I stared with a glazed look at the Yoga and Massage Studio sign with a crumpled fortune in each hand.  Whatever happened to the “in bed” game?  I scolded myself quietly for taking the fortunes so seriously, but remained motionless.

“This is ridiculous,” I thought again.  Fortunes shouldn’t really come true.  And even if thy did, what are the odds that Uncle Ronnie is not only a Gypsy, but also able to grant wishes.  In my mind I wished for a coffee while an old lady bumped into me from behind…

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Comments Off on There’s a nail stuck in my tire

There’s a nail stuck in my tire

23 April 2010 in A Day in the Life

Somehow in the last couple of days i managed to run over a nail and not really notice.

Two days ago i put air in my tire thinking it was a little low.  Did it occur to me to try to find the reason so much air had released itself from my tire?  No.  And as I think more about it, I probably should have looked a little harder at this.  Tires aren’t designed to release air like an uncle that’s had too much chili and beer.  Tires, in theory, should stay relatively inflated.

Thanks to the general laziness of the contractors in my neighbourhood, I’m now out 1 tire and several hours of sitting in the lobby of a toyota dealership watching a guy named Satan play hockey.  Under normal circumstances I would be more enthusiastic about the root of all evil playing hockey for the Boston Bruins, but I could be mistaken aboot his identity.  If my memory serves me correctly, the big red guy was more of a soccer guy – it gave him more opportunities to combine his foot with other guys’ tackle boxes.

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