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Archive for February, 2010

Sunday my son called my bluff. He sent me a link that gives me an opportunity to enter a short story contest. It wasn’t malicious, actually it flattered me that he thought of me when he discovered it. Six hundred words, at first I thought, a short story in six hundred words? I’ll be lucky to make three hundred and fifty.

The rules were simple, take a photograph that they had supplied on the link and write a three minute story, it could be no more than six hundred words. I studied the photo, its composition was rather simple. I bantered around a few ideas and started typing. An hour later the story was nearly finished, it needed a few clean ups, a period here, a coma there, but it was done. Satisfied that I had accomplished my objective, I hit tools in the tool bar menu, tapped on word count…638 words! You got to be kidding me! How in the hell am I going to cut 38 words from this? Much to my surprise a six hundred word story is much harder that I thought.

So heres the deal I’m going to take a picture and write a six hundred word short story, now this will be   different, as I will get to select the composition, but as I sit here in Waynesboro Pennsylvania, I ain’t got nothing better to do!

“Caleb get back here! You don’t know whose lookin.” The young man held fast to the others shirt.

“Shoot Simon, I’s freezin’ an starvin’, just look at em there. It ain’t right, I’m goin to kill us one!”  Caleb Green was 16, he had joined the cause in the summer of 64′; he had seen his first snow in late November, it was now February. He and his older brother were all that was left of their small regiment from Tennessee; they were cold, hungry and just wanted to go home.

“We gotta wait tttill dark, then we cccan get one”. Simon could barely form the words he was shaking so badly, they’d spent the night out in the open, no fire, or food, it was shear dumb luck that they had stumbled on this small herd of cattle.

“God damn-it Simon, I’m too damn hungry to wait, I ain’t had nothin for, shit I can’t remember when.”

“Caleb Green you watch your tongue, just cause you killed a man, don’t mean you gotta talk like at. We’s still Christians, and good Christians don’t talk atta way, you hear me?” Caleb looked down at the ground; he respected his brother and promised his Momma, that he would listen to him.  “Yea Simon, I’s sorry.”

Their raspy whispers had gained the attention of a few cows in the herd, with broad heads they turned their way. Puffs of white vapor came blasting from frosted muzzles as they tried to gather a scent from the two voices within the trees. They methodically worked their jaws, as if mocking the two young men.

Off in the distance, a dog with an annoying bark, three evenly spaced yelps then a pause, it had been repeating the same pattern for nearly an hour. “I’m goin for it Simon!”; Caleb lurched forward and stumbled from the cover of the trees, falling into the deep snow. The branch just above his head shattered, a plume of gray smoke and a distant crack from across the open field, had Simon holding his breath. He could hear his heart beating in his ears; he felt it in his throat. The shivering had stopped.

“God Damn-it Caleb, I said not until”…. Simon looked down to his brother, the once white snow was stained red where his brother lay motionless, pieces of bone and flesh; matted to the trunk of the tree with the broken branch.  “Aaww no, no…. Caleb, I told you to wait, … just a little bit longer, that’s all, just a little bit more.” Sobbing  and crying Simon raised his brother in his arms, he could feel every bone in his frail brothers body.  He was done fighting, he just needed it to stop, he wanted it to end so they could go home. Stepping from the thick cover of trees, Simon heard a second crack, like a stick breaking from under his foot.

Simon wasn’t cold any more, the emptiness in Caleb’s’ stomach was gone; it felt like spring. They knew any minute Momma would come running from the front porch. She’d be wearing the white dress with the little blue flowers; her hair would be braided in a crown. With open arms she’d grab them both and hold them tight. They were home.

The snow was falling harder, the dog in the distance continued to bark. A pure white snow covered what would become hallowed ground; there would be no memorial, no marker. Two brothers who loved each other, lying together, one looking out for the other, had found their home.

Talk to you later.

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I Hate Potty Runs!

The damn dog hit the door for the second time this morning in as many hours, that would put the time around 6:30 am. It’s my turn, left unanswered it could result in a wet clean up in aisle 1. As I roll from the warmth of our bed, I hear a muffled “aanngg ooo” from the pillow next to me. I assume she meant; “Thank you”, I suppose it could of been; “It’s your turn”, either way I’m up. I plant my feet on the floor and rise to a standing position. The room is still dark the only ones up are me and the damn dog with the overactive bladder, the sun won’t appear for another 19 minutes.

I fumble around in the dark, hands on the floor looking for some thing to cover my fat naked body, my modesty runs deep, I doubt the dog could give a rats ass what I was wearing when I open the bedroom door to greet her. I feel the waist band of my jockies, rolled up into some kind if cotton burrito laying on the floor, the effort to unravel them in the dark disqualifies them as the proper garment candidate . I search, like a blind raccoon looking for crustaceans in a murky pool of water, until I find what I’m looking for. The familiar texture and heft assures me this is it, why my terry cloth robe is laying on the floor of the bedroom and not hanging from its hook in the bathroom is anyones guess, right now I really don’t care. I leave those weighty questions for my wife. “Who left the toilet seat up?” knowing damn well, that there hasn’t been another male living in this house for over six years.

I slide one arm in and turn in a counter-clock wise circle searching for that elusive second sleeve, only Red Skelton could have executed that vaudevillian move with greater timing and grace. I cinch the tie around my waist, open the bedroom door and greet the dog with a  disgusted  expletive. The grateful dog scampers down the hall, her 16 tiny toe nails clicking on the laminate flooring give evidence to the urgency of this early morning wake up call.

I shuffle behind her toward the sliding back door, images of Tim Conway and the  octogenarian  fireman flash into my memory, as I hear her pawing frantically at the glass door. I think, she must really be in a desperate condition. I give the door a tug, the familiar sound of  vinyl sliding on a metal track squawks out, breaking the peaceful silence of our house. She tears off into the pre-dawn light. A CAT? YOU GOT ME UP TO CHASE A CAT! Stupid fucking dog.

Talk to you later.      

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Today as I drove along C-470, the Dakota Hogback also known as Dinosaur Ridge, rose gently to my left, the remains of yesterdays dusting of snow covered the terrain. Off to the side of the highway midway up the ridge, a coyote nosed her way through the rugged landscape. They are an opportunistic animal, whose adaptability never ceases to amaze me. As south bound cars flew by at 70 miles per hour, she hunted among the rocks and brush nearly undetectable in a tawny coat faded by the elements. If I could I would have stopped my vehicle along side the highway just to watch as she poked and shuffled from rock pile to rock pile stopping momentarily to check out the traffic as it went by.

A summer time shot of Dinosaur Ridge.

The vegetation this time of year is wheat straw brown, dead or dormant until mid April or early May. Small eruptions of pale green Yucca dot the slopes along South Table Mountain. Their   withered spires sporting empty seed pods that gape open, the obsidian black seeds that were inside long since scattered in the wind. Tufts of white snow and ice adorn the lance shaped leaves.

I wait patiently for the wild blue flax, and chicory to signal the arrival of warmer days.  Splashes of Indian Red Paint Brush and the salmon colored flowers of  Red Penstemon will make their debut in late July, and well into August. Springs arrival will be assured with the return of the Western Kingbird flashing it’s yellow breast as it takes flight in hot pursuit of a Miller Moth.  By July I’ll be riding in the mountains, the pastures near South Park will be so full of Wild Iris, that Monet would have reconsidered his choice of landscapes, had he seen them.

Right now it’s Yucca and tumbleweeds caught in the fence lines that catch my eye, Colorado’s’ version of hedgerows, with the occasional coyote to provide comic relief. I can hardly wait for the glacial retreat of winter, soon I can don my leather jacket, crack the throttle on my bike, and lean into my first gravel laced turn,… yup, Spring time in the Rockies could it get any better than that?

Talk to you later.

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Is It Spring Yet?

Once again it feels like we’re in the final grips of winter.  From under a few sparse patches of snow, brave green shoots struggle to push their way through a white crusted surface. It’s still too early for the crocus, but I anticipate their return in the next several weeks.

Signs of spring.

Soon the seed and bulb catalogs will be filling our mail box once again, provided our mail carrier hasn’t cast them into the dumpster behind the Postal Sorting Center. Like a spirit journey from a peyote induced  dream,  I watch as my wife  wonders through the garden center at Lowes, preparing for the arrival of spring. As she shuffles through the aisles, bags of grass seed and fertilizer tower well over her head. The sound of her black rubber Crocks flop against her heel and the 12 x 12 squares of white speckled linoleum. She glides to a stop, and reaches out to a display of garden tools at the end of the row. Gently her hand caresses the smooth wooden handle of a new Hori-Hori  knife, favorite weapon of the gardening Ninja. Her breathing becomes shallow, a slight smile appears on her face, it’s Norman Bates meets Mr Green Jeans.

Bruce Lee's favorite garden tool.

Lately I’ve found myself daydreaming about the return of warmer days too. Day long rides on my motorcycle, pulling into the Coyote Canteen at Johnson’s Village to enjoy a cold beer on the ceder wood deck out back. Over my shoulder the massive snow capped peaks of the Collegiate Mountain Range, reveal how small we really are. Returning to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison with it’s challenging twists, turns and breath taking views,  sneak a peak too long and… yeah! Mountain riding at it’s best.

So until then I’ll continue to daydream, and my wife will begin shopping for a new Hori-Hori knife, while waiting for the Spring Bulb Sale at O’Toole’s Garden Center in Parker.

Talk to you later.

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With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, the predictable script of a Hallmark Movie unfolds before me on the T.V. screen. It is interrupted every twelve minutes, by the images of little black velvet boxes, and luscious pools of liquid chocolate, reminding every one with an X Y chromosome that we have less than 10 hours to get every one with an X X chromosome, something special.

Love Hurts!

Watching this reminded me of the first date I had with my wife.

Our relationship started out rather slow, imagine trying to boil 16 gallons of water with a box of Strike Anywhere Kitchen Matches, eventually the water will get hot but it requires a great deal of  patience. The genius of my plan was to appear as non-threatening as possible. An innocent  comment like; “That’s a nice sweater, did you make that yourself?”  Set my plan in motion. The sweater really did look great, I had no idea that she had crafted it herself, that part was just pure dumb luck. The thing about asking a question like that is knowing how to recognize an opportunity, and coming up with the proper response. Most 20 year old men are too impatient and insecure about themselves to successfully navigate through that mine field with out losing an appendage or two.

So when she thanked me for the compliment, adding in the fact that she did make the sweater herself, I without hesitation said; “You know… I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit.”  It was cunning, no self respecting Pipefitter would ever publicly announce that they would like to learn to knit, least of all in the audience of 25 male counter parts and a lesbian. Dumb luck or not, the plan worked perfectly. A knitting date was set, I covertly received the encoded directions to her apartment. Never mind that she never bothered to inform me of the cyphering logic to unravel the encrypted message. It took me more than an hour, two wrong addresses and a half a tank of gas to figure out that all the right turns were lefts and vice versa.

She came to the door dressed in the now famous sweater, and denim jeans with white stitching on the back pockets. Dressed for knitting? I think not! I entered the apartment it had a warm appeal to it with soft earth colors, it was the 80s. It was a far cry from what I had at my place; two Budweiser posters, seven Green Grolsch Beer Bottles with their unique ceramic stoppers and rubber seals  lining the window sill. It was nice.

We made our way to the couch and sat at opposite ends, a red ball of yarn skewered by two gold #9 needles sat on a glass coffee table in front of me, if I had any ideas of something other than knitting  going down, they were soon put to rest. She was nervous and so was I, she cast on a string of stitches and proceeded to show me the  European method, knitting that is. It took me about ten minutes or so, but soon I was knitting without too much trouble, she was a good teacher. The gentle sound of the metal needles clicking together made the minutes tick away ever so slowly. We took a break, and she opened a bottle of wine, she talked and I listened. I don’t know if it was the wine or my nerves, but after knitting a swatch about 4 inches square, while staring into the bottom of my second glass of wine, Sigmund Freud came to call.

Maybe it was wishful thinking, or maybe just an innocent slip of the tongue, I couldn’t say for sure; like water babbling from a brook, I heard the words coming from my mouth. “Who would have guessed it, here I am in your bedroom, learning to knit.”… It got real quiet in the softly lit room, as a cool breeze made it’s way through the once warm atmosphere, I didn’t realize that I had even said it at first. She gently set her knitting down on the glass table and very succinctly stated; “This is my living room, you will very likely never see my bedroom, do I make myself perfectly clear.” I swallowed hard.

Knitting My Bedroom? I Think Not!

It was a pretty rough start for a first date. I quickly picked up my little red patch of fabric and began knitting furiously trying to put as much distance between her and my Freudian faux pas. It took some time, and quite a few kitchen matches to get the kettle to warm but we became good friends and eventually lovers. And you know, I don’t think I ever did do any knitting in her bedroom. Happy Valentines Day.

Talk to you later.

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Rush Hour.

It’s 4:00 p.m. and I’m running late. With a setting sun at my back, I accelerate, herding my service van into the traffic flow of  Eastbound C-470. I hear a familiar tune on the radio, Sweet Home Alabama, and I jack the volume up. Driving down the highway I can see the elongated shadow of my vehicle in front of me as I hopelessly attempt to over take the elusive image, try as I might the quest appears fruitless. Adjusting the cruise control to 68 miles per hour, I remove my foot from the gas pedal and pull into the left lane.

G-d I love rush hour!

A blue Toyota Camry pulls into the lane in front of me, the 2 second rule has just been revised; one thousand one, one thou… I turn the volume up another notch as Pink Floyd takes me to that Comfortably Numb place. Passing the car on the right I smile, amused by the heated conversation taking place with the guy and the invisible man to my left. The animated driver flails his arms in Mussolini fashion trying to make some kind of obvious point to his unseen passenger. I see an opening in the lane to the left, I drop the directional signal down and ease into the space, it’s clear sailing until the next entrance ramp.

Rounding the curve from Eastbound C-470 to Northbound I-25, my van shimmies as I hit the junction of two bridge sections at 60 miles per hour, the yellow sign marked 45 MPH was merely a suggestion. I hear some thing on the shelf in the  back relocate itself, I’ll figure out exactly what that was the next time I open the van door. Traffic is moving  surprisingly well for a Monday afternoon. The tunes keep coming, I look down, 70 miles per hour in a 55 I ease up on the accelerator in an effort to avoid some kind of automotive equivalent to a rectal exam with the Lexus in front of me.

We don't need no stinking trains!

The 4:25 RTD light-rail, Denver’s answer to clean air and open highways; leaves the loading platform at I-225 and Dayton. The electrical interference from the overhead lines that power the tram crackle and hum, distorting Peter Townsend as he asks the age old question. Who Are You!, Who Who!, Who Who!

This has got to be the best drive home I’ve had in a long time.

Miles from office to home: 29.7

Time to make the commute in minutes: 28

Idiots on the highway, not counting the invisible man? 1

Chances this will ever happen again? Not in a million years!

Talk to you later.

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