Path

Spying a group of men lined up across the street, my curiosity got the better of me.

I crossed over and said to the men, “I say, good gentlemen, what are you queued up for?”

All but one man ignored me studiously.

One man without looking at me said, “I’m not queued up for anything, I have no idea what the other gentlemen are doing here.”

Confused, I had to slake my curiosity and asked, “Why are you here then?”

The man slowly turned his head and slyly winked at me, “I’m on my writer’s path, perchance this is your path too?”

The challenge? Write a story in 6 sentences, no more & no less, and if you’d like, share your creation or just visit and comment on others’ ideas, with GirlieOnTheEdge, Denise. The prompt is “Path”, and here’s where you join the party: Six Sentence Stories

Weekly Writing Challenge #30 – Balloon Heist

Prompt – Write about purple glasses. Black hair. Polka dot shoes.

Photo by Padli Pradana on Pexels.com

“Start from the beginning, what happened?”

“It was the darnedest thing. This guy walks into store. He looked funny.”

“What do you mean, funny?”

“Well, the first thing I noticed is that his shoes made a slapping sound. That’s because he was wearing those big clown shoes.”

“Clown shoes? What color where they?”

“Well, they were red with white polka dots. I They were so big, I couldn’t help but think that they would be hard to walk wearing them.”

“What else did you notice about him? What was he wearing?”

“Look, I’m sure everyone else has already told you what he looked like.”

“Yes, but I want to be sure about all the details, so go ahead and tell me everything about how he looked. Besides that, you were the closest to the guy.”

“Okay, he had on these big purple glasses. You know, the ones you get at a carnival or novelty store. He also had what looked like a wig.”

“Wait? A wig? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, it was definitely a wig. I would say it was a Cher wig. You know, black hair that was way too straight and it came down to his knees.”

“Interesting. Go on”

“Well, he was carrying a bunch of balloons.”

“In his right hand or left?”

“Definitely his left hand. Then he stopped in front of me and pulled out a toy gun.”

“Did you know it was a toy gun immediately?”

“Oh yeah, not a doubt. It was bright orange and yellow. He pointed it right at me and pulled the trigger. There was a light pop and a flag came out with the words ‘Bang’ on it.”

“Then what happened?”

“I figured it was a practical joke and I started laughing and looking around to see who had paid this guy to do this silly stunt.”

“When did you know it wasn’t a joke?”

“Well, he pulled out another gun…”

“With his right or left hand?”

“It was his left hand for sure.”

“Wait, wasn’t he carrying balloons with his left hand?”

“Yes, but when he pulled the trigger on the toy gun, he let the balloons go and they floated up to the ceiling. See up there?”

“Yes, I see them. What did he do with the toy gun?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. One moment it was in his hand, the next it disappeared. Anyways, with the other gun, he shot the two Brinks guards that were collecting the days receipts.”

“Was the gunshots loud?”

“No, they were like an airsoft pistol. The guards slapped their necks and then went down. I could see darts sticking out. Are they okay?”

“Yes, they were apparently knocked out by tranquilizer darts.”

“Well, that’s good to know. I was worried about them.”

“They are already awake and the EMT’s are checking them out. So what did he do next?”

“Well, this is what made this whole thing surreal. He put his left finger to his lips like he was telling me to be quiet and then…”

“Which hand did he use?”

“That’s what made it strange, he used his left hand again. I don’t know what happened to the gun. I mean, he could have put it back into his coat. It was a long trench coat. Dark brown, I think.”

“That is strange. Keep going.”

“Well, he picks up a bag of cash from the one guard and then walks out almost in a saunter with his shoes slapping the whole way.”

“What did you do then?”

“Quite frankly, I was frozen in shock. I couldn’t believe all that had happened. Have you guys caught this guy yet?’

“Um, no unfortunately. But we are getting closer each time.”

“Wait? He’s done this before? Why hasn’t there been any news about it?”

“Quite simply, this is the fourth place he’s hit today. I’m sure we’ll get a break pretty soon.”

“Detective! Detective! They spotted him over at the Avenues Mall, looks like he’s hit another place already.”

“Damn it. Um, thank you ma’am. If you can think of anything else, let one of the patrol guys know.”

“Sure, okay. I’m not sure who are the bigger clowns here, that guy or you cops.”

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

Weekly Writing Challenge #29 – The Harvest

Prompt – Write a story about something weird that happened on a full moon.

Full Moon (201507310004HQ) by NASA HQ PHOTO is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

I remember it vividly. The first full moon of the fall. Or as the early settlers in West Texas used to call it, the Comanche Moon. That signaled a time for the Comanche warriors to raid white settlements killing, raping and capturing anyone they came across.

Nowadays, it is a peaceful moon. For the farmers, it is called a Harvest Moon as you can keep working the fields well into the night just by the glow of the moon. I was baling alfalfa for the unheard of ninth time this season. The barn was bursting with alfalfa bales to feed the horses around town. The weather had been perfect all summer long, raining at the right moments between cuttings.

I bale at night, so the humidity packs the alfalfa bales tighter as the baler behind my tractor gathered up the alfalfa. Ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk went the baler. A comforting rhythm during these long hours in the field. With the moon so bright, I turned off the lights of the tractor. Times like these are rare and to be treasured. A familiar swoosh went by my head as our barn owl hunted rabbits being flushed out by my tractor.

As I reached the end of the field and turned around to follow the next line of alfalfa, a strange thing happened. The barn owl, which I had only glimpsed before, landed on the front end of the tractor. It’s wingspan was at least six feet. But once perched on the tractor, the wings folded up so neatly, you would swear they were only a foot in length.

I couldn’t help but smile. No one would believe me, but that was okay, I knew in my heart I was witnessing something special. Half-way back toward the barn and the owl gracefully spread it’s wings and with a couple of flaps took off into the night. I settled back into the rhythm of driving the tractor on my lonely vigil up and down the field.

After making my regular turn by the barn, I headed off toward the far end of the field. Half-way there, I saw something weird. Maybe the moonlight was playing tricks on my eyes? Seemed there were men on horses at the far end. It could be the fenceposts causing this illusion, but the horses were very near each other. I must be getting tired and seeing things. Perhaps I should turn my lights back on.

I decided not too, as the sight of the horses mesmerized me. Nearing the end of the field, I saw that the men on the horses looked to be wearing Indian clothes. I pulled the throttle back on the tractor and shifted into neutral. I kept shaking my head and blinking my eyes furiously, but the weird sight didn’t go away. Am I losing my mind?

I reached down and cut the engine of the tractor. Silence fell. I could then hear the nickering and pawing of the ground by the horses. This was no illusion! This was real! The Indians as one lifted rifles and pointed them directly at me. I knew then the dreaded Comanche had come to kill me.

Resigned to my fate, I closed my eyes awaiting the blasting of bullets to tear into my body. Then my cell phone started ringing. I looked down and grabbed it from my front pocket and saw my wife was calling me. As I lifted it to my ear to answer, the Indians vanished.

“You okay? Why did you stop the tractor?”

“Um, I thought I saw something weird.”

“Like what? I’ve been watching you with the binoculars and I didn’t see anything.”

“It’s nothing, I must be tired. I only have about an hour of baling to do. I’ll be fine.”

To this day, I don’t know if the Indians were real or a figment of my imagination. Not wanting to find out for sure, I never ever baled alfalfa during a Harvest Moon for the rest of my life.

Coffee

A cup of joe, jitter juice, java, morning jolt and go juice are a few of the slang phrases for my favorite beverage.

I like my coffee dark and bitter, just like my soul.

Some choose to dilute the wonderful fragrance and taste of coffee with all sorts of evil and vile substances like milk and sugar.

In the bible, it says that bread is the staff of life.

I say nay, coffee and only coffee is the staff of life.

How else could the Dunkin Donuts guy get up so early in the morning to make donuts?

The challenge? Write a story in 6 sentences, no more & no less, and if you’d like, share your creation or just visit and comment on others’ ideas, with GirlieOnTheEdge, Denise. The prompt is “Coffee”, and here’s where you join the party: Six Sentence Stories

Weekly Writing Challenge #28 – Oy Vey

Prompt – Write about someone getting their driver’s license for the first time.

Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

In the mid 90’s, while stationed on the USS Kauffman FFG-59 in Norfolk, Virginia, I held the role of Leading Petty Officer. In civilian parlance, this meant I am the team leader for 10-15 men. It’s a bit different in the Navy, as we not only work together, but while at sea, we eat, sleep and do everything together.

One Friday, in port, one of my younger guys came up and asked me if I could drive him to the car dealership so he could buy a car. I didn’t have anything planned, so I agreed and off we went.

I walked around with him and the salesman until he picked out the car he wanted. The salesman asked for his driver’s license to make a copy of it and then we could do a test drive. The young guy hemmed and hawed and looked at the ground.

“You didn’t leave your license on the ship?” I asked.

“Um, I’ve never had a license.”

Oy vey! I forgot this kid was from New York City. He was used to getting around on public transportation. I apologized to the salesman and took him to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a learner’s permit.

Over the next month, I let him drive my car all over Norfolk, teaching him how to drive. I grilled him every night for the driver’s test. Finally the day came. He took the test and got his driver’s license. We went back to the car dealership and found the same salesman as before.

I stood there proudly as he handed his license to the salesman. Luckily, they still had his preferred car on the lot and we did a test drive. A couple hours later after helping him navigate the purchase of his new car, he proudly drove off by himself.

Going above and beyond for not only this guy, but all the guys in my team is what made me the success I was in the Navy. As a side benefit, when my own children got to the age of being able to drive, teaching them was a breeze as I had already been through the stress once.

Weekly Writing Challenge #27 – The Notes

Prompt – “There are three notes waiting for me on my doorstep.”

There are three notes waiting for me on my doorstep. They are each labeled with a number. I opened up the first one and read, “Harry, you need to duck! Right now!” Wait a minute, was this a joke? I looked around to see if I saw any hidden cameras. The street looked empty and quiet. I opened the second note to see what it said. “Harry Gruen, this is John Ang, your friend. I’m telling you again, you need to duck down immediately!”

I chuckled, as I knew this was a practical joke by John. Except … I had never known John to play any practical jokes. He was humor impaired, as I liked to say. This made little sense whatsoever. Scratching my head, I looked behind the bushes to see if someone was hiding there. Maybe they were going to pop out and surprise me? I considered walking away from this seemingly insane joke. However, the third note made me curious. I had to open it and just let everything play out.

The third note said, “Harry, you always were a dumb bastard. I’m sorry for the headache you are about to have. Signed, Harry Gruen.” Wait? What? Harry looked up, dumbfounded. In that instant, an egg hit Harry on his right temple, causing him to fall over and hit his head on a rock. At almost the same time, a bullet just missed the back of Harry’s head and embedded itself in the door he had been standing in front of.

“Computing trajectory and got it, two doors down to the right across the street in the attic window.”

“Got him in sight,” said Harry. The rifle barked in his hand.

“Good kill,” said John. “Okay, let’s return to our timeline.”

“Wait, what about the notes? When I wake up, won’t the notes clue me in to what’s going on?”

“Harry, are you serious? I made sure the notes would dissolve in water and it is going to rain in approximately ten seconds from now.”

Harry looked up as the clouds overhead let loose their load of rain. He shook his head and laughed. “Of course you thought of everything. I wonder how many more times we are going to have to save myself from getting assassinated in the past?”

John stared at Harry with an exasperated look. “As many times as it takes to figure out why anyone is so concerned about what you do, that they risk coming back in time to kill you off.”

Harry laughed, “Hell, I have no idea what I’m going to do every day that I’m alive.”

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

All stories of Harry Gruen are now linked on the Storylines page if you wish to read them all.

Weekly Writing Challenge #26 – The Flight

Prompt – Set your story in an airport, as someone rushes for a flight.

Photo by Riccardo on Pexels.com

Sigh, the flight is delayed once again. Despondently, I walk back over to my seat near the boarding gate. The gate attendant said it would be at least an hour before she could call for boarding. The groans of the passengers waiting were audible. Soon, the noise grew as everyone snatched up their cell phones to call their loved ones or boss. A few stayed and yelled at the gate attendant until security stepped near.

Eventually, the passengers settled down. Most sat with their head bowed. One would think they were praying for the Airline Gods to speed up the boarding call. Alas, they were all engaged in their smartphones and tablets. Oblivious to everything around them.

When I had retired a few years back, I had given up wearing a watch or having a smartphone. I had a basic flip-phone that I could make calls if I needed to. I considered calling my son across the country to let her know I would be delayed, but as tuned into technology as he is, he probably knew before we did that the flight would be delayed.

Instead, I occupied my time by people watching. A young couple, dressed affluently, sat close to each other, shoulders touching, with their heads leaning towards each other. A young mother, clearly exasperated with two young fidgeting children, while their dad paced back and forth talking on his cellphone.

Not to mention all the people who looked like they were talking to themselves until you noticed a little device in their ear. They always confused me when it looked like they were staring at you and talking. Most times, I initially thought they were talking to me. Sometimes I yearn for the days before the internet.

Suddenly, I sense a disturbance. Looking down the concourse, there is a man and a woman running through the airport. I don’t see security rushing after them, so I assume they think they are late for the flight. I imagine they will feel relief that the flight is delayed. I take a second look and I’m surprised that the man is wearing a blue uniform. Could it be our pilot?

The woman running next to him looks familiar, like I should know her. As they get closer, I see it is my wayward daughter. My mouth opens in shock. The pair slow as they get closer and then the man in the uniform turns to my daughter and gives her a big hug and a kiss. He turns to the gate attendant gives a wave.

By this time, everyone’s eyes are on the pair. The gate attendant announces we can now board the flight. I smile and think about letting my daughter know I’m here. I shake my head and decide not to. I don’t want to embarrass her. Even though I know she is the reason, why our flight is delayed. The beaming smile on her face warms my heart. I thought she would never find someone to love.

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

Strike

Years of dedication, training, and withstanding pain all came down to this.

I wiped the sweat off my brow and tried to control my breathing, while the crowd hushed.

With my shoulders slightly hunched, I slowly took my first step with my left foot.

Stepping with increasing speed, until I slid to a stop on my left foot with my right leg bending behind as I threw the ball perfectly down the lane.

Strike!

The crowd went wild as I breathed a sigh of relief at bowling three perfect games in a row.

The challenge? Write a story in 6 sentences, no more & no less, and if you’d like, share your creation or just visit and comment on others’ ideas, with GirlieOnTheEdge, Denise. The prompt is “Strike”, and here’s where you join the party: Six Sentence Stories

Weekly Writing Challenge #25 – The Haunting

Prompt – Write about a place where two rivers meet

There is a place, a special place where two rivers meet. This point is not like other meeting points of rivers. The rivers are two distinct types. One is crystal clear, the other is brown from all the sediment. Where they meet the mixing is a slow process.

This isn’t what makes this place special. An ancient spirit haunts the land between the two rivers. Legend has it that there is only one night in the year when the spirit comes out to haunt whoever dares to camp at the meeting point. It is never the same day each year.

I’ve scoured the internet and books on this meeting place. Tremendous amount of rumors abound, but no one ever agrees on how the haunting takes place. The only common thread is that it happens during October. I think it is about time to debunk this fable. Planning took most of the summer, but I’m ready to camp out until I’m haunted or the end of October comes.

I’ve set up webcams around the campsite. Paid for an entire month of Livestream. I’ve plenty of provisions and a comfortable tent and hammock. The webcams will shift to night vision every evening. Now comes the hard part; waiting.

To keep myself occupied, I keep a running commentary going. Interacting with whoever is watching the Livestream. Once word gets out, my audience grows like wildfire. I’m enjoying the brief notoriety till it gets tedious. My audience soon becomes bored with every day being the same.

Plenty of false alarms every night as small wildlife comes to the river to drink. I am tiring of staying up all day and night. October 31st can’t come soon enough. I’ve stopped shaving and bathing. Instead of talking to my audience, I’ve started talking to myself. I’m slowly going crazy out here.

Finally, Halloween is here. I’ve only one more night in this hellhole. I’m pretty sure I’ve completely debunked this myth. The sun sets, leaving me in darkness. The dim glow of the campfire keeps me company. My plan is to stay awake until midnight. I stare at the embers, completely mesmerized. It’s almost hypnotic.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spot a dim floating light. Quickly my head turns, but the light disappears. Maybe it was a firefly? I struggle to see, as my eyesight is not completely adapted to the dark after staring at embers. Then I hear a branch breaking. The ghost is here!

My heart pounding, I hold my breath. A raccoon trundles toward my campfire. I let out my breath with a sigh of relief. Silly me, I’ve been in the woods for far too long. My imagination has run wild. There is no ghost, no hauntings. It is all a tall tale to scare people. I look at my watch and see it is after midnight. Shaking my head, I turn off the webcams and shut down the livestream.

Icy hands encircle my neck from behind. I knew instantly I had been horribly mistaken.

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

The Process

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Tomorrow I start my patented stop smoking process. Well, not really patented, but this process is one that I came up with the last time I stopped smoking. It worked then and I know it will work this time. The trick is to stay stopped which is as hard as stopping. My doctor has agreed to keep me on Wellbutrin for a year this time. Last time, I was on it for three months and within a week or so after stopping Wellbutrin, I started smoking again.

I’ve been on Wellbutrin for two weeks now and definitely get a bad taste in my mouth from smoking. Time to start the weaning process. First some prep work. I get a brand new carton of cigarettes and tear off the top of the carton. Usually I keep my cigarettes in the car, but this time I’m keeping them in the kitchen.

Day 1 (tomorrow) First thing in the morning, I pull one pack out of the carton. There are twenty cigarettes in the pack. Before I go to bed tomorrow night, I will smoke all twenty of them. Once the pack is empty, I’m done for the day. Last thing I do tomorrow night is I open the next pack of cigarettes. I take out one cigarette and place it in the now empty pack. Then I label the top of that pack with a 1 and place it back in the carton.

Day 2 (Sunday) – I grab my pack for the day. It has nineteen cigarettes. Once I smoke all nineteen, I’m done for the day. Then I open the next pack and take out two cigarettes and place them in the empty pack and label it with a 2. I continue with this until I’ve opened all 10 packs. Each day smoking 1 less.

On day 11, I grab the pack that is labeled 10 and that is all I smoke for the day. At the end of the day, I throw that pack away. At the end of twenty days, I’ll be down to only 1 cigarette for the day.

Why so elaborate of a system? I don’t have to count how many cigarettes I’ve smoked each day. When the pack is empty, I’m done. I’ve tried in the past to count how many cigarettes I’ve smoked in a day. That works for two or three days and then I forget and smoke way too many. This way, in the evening, I can look at how many cigarettes I have left and figure out how to stretch them to last the rest of the evening.

By the time I get down to the 14 cigarette day, I’m now counting the time between cigarettes in order to make it last. Each day, I gradually extend the time between cigarettes.

One last thing. I found in the past there was a day or two where I’m about ready to go to bed, but I still have cigarettes in my pack. Instead of saving them for the next day, I stay up and smoke all of them until the pack is empty. To me, it’s important to keep to the ritual of having an empty pack each night. Otherwise, I’ll be tempted to carry them over to the next day and defeat the whole process of smoking 1 less each day.

This is my plan. I’m sticking to it because it worked before.