The Recon Job

Harry walked into the crime boss’s office and plopped a canvas bag on his desk.

“What’s this?”

“That is a bank bag,” said Harry.

“I can see that, but you were supposed to do a recon job for me, not bring me a bank bag. What happened?”

“Well, I didn’t get the recon job done.”

“Why not?” exclaimed the crime boss.

“May I sit?”

The crime boss nodded and Harry sat down on a chair facing the desk.

Harry sighed, “I went to do the recon job as you asked. I had left early so I would have plenty of time. But as I was heading there, I came upon a Mexican restaurant serving Jalisco style food. I really like Jalisco so I stopped for lunch and had a wonderful meal.”

“What’s that got to do with the job?”

Harry pulled out a cigar, “May I? It’s Cuban.”

The boss shook his head, “I don’t like the smell of cigars.”

Harry put the cigar back into his front pocket, “After I left the restaurant, still having plenty of time to get to the recon site, I felt a rumble in my stomach which quickly moved down to my bowels. Thinking it was gas, I lifted my right cheek. Unfortunately, it wasn’t gas. I sharted myself.”

The boss looked confused, “Sharted? What the hell is that?”

Harry hung his head and said, “Well, a shart is when you go to pass gas and more than a fart comes out.”

The boss laughed and indicated for Harry to continue.

“I quickly pulled to the side of the road. It was a back road, so no one else was around. As my stomach was still rumbling, I leapt out of the car and ran twenty feet into a field by the road. I barely got my pants off before my bowels erupted.”

The boss steepled his hands below his chin.

Harry continued, “Then I went to the trunk of my car and pulled out a towel and a shovel. I always believe in being prepared, but I hadn’t thought of bringing a spare pair of pants. I used the towel to clean myself off.”

“That is an image I’d rather not picture. What’s with the shovel?”

“Well, there was no way I was going to put my pants and the towel back into the car. I didn’t want to litter either, so the shovel was to dig a hole to bury them and the mess I made in the field. There I am, digging away in the field by the road, naked from the waist down when I heard a thunk.”

“A thunk?” the boss leaned forward glancing at the bank bag.

“A thunk, then as I continued to dig, more thunks until I unearthed a old wooden box. I lifted the box and it crumbled in my hands. But there was that bank bag inside.”

“This bank bag?”

“Yes. I peeked inside and saw it was filled with money. I took three of the hundred dollar bills to buy a new towel and new pants. Also to get my car thoroughly clean inside and out. Since I was supposed to be doing a job for you, I figure that the money is yours. I don’t know why someone buried it. Maybe they were dumb and forgot about it.”

“I’m disappointed you didn’t do the recon job, but I do believe you have redeemed yourself by bringing me this bag. Consider your debt to me paid in full.”

“Thank you so very much!”

The boss opened the bag and dumped the money on his desk, Bundles of hundreds and fifties spread all over his desk. The boss grinned widely. Then he picked up one bundle with a curious look.

“This is different, I wonder why…”

BANG! The dye pack hidden in the bundle exploded with purple dye. The dye went everywhere. All over the money, on the boss and also the wall behind him. The boss froze in shock.

Harry quietly said under his breath, “I guess the bank robbers weren’t as dumb as I thought,” as he slunk out of the room.

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

Expecting A Show

Wrote this one early in my blogging days. Seems appropriate for today.

Writing with Cancer

Photo by Peter Spencer on Pexels.com

“Hey Joe!”

I looked over the hedge dividing my house from my neighbor. Sam was waving.

“Oh, hi Sam.”

“Ready for the big show tonight? We’ve all been looking forward to it.”

I grimaced a bit and then said, “Well, it’s not going to be that great of a show tonight. What with Mary Sue’s operation and little Jimmy breaking his arm, the budget is kind of tight.”

Sam frowned, “But there is going to be a show, right?”

With a bit of exasperation in my voice, I said, “Yes, there is, but it won’t last more than a minute or two.”

Sam smiled, “Well, even a minute or two will be great. Got to keep the tradition going. See you tonight!”

My mood darkened as I walked into the house. I can’t believe my neighbors sometimes. We had only been here a little…

View original post 594 more words

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

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

Weekly Writing Challenge #23 – The Window

Prompt – Outside the window, you see something you can’t believe.

Finally a chance to sit back and relax with a hot cup of coffee. It had been a hectic day at work full of stress. Somehow I muddled through all the requests, demands and outright weirdness that encompasses my work day.

Sitting back on my favorite recliner I faced the fake fireplace with my flat screen TV over it. I picked up the remote and turned on the flames that soothed the savage beast inside me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement outside my window. I turn to look and see nothing amiss. Perhaps, as my wife would put it, I saw the ghost of someone I know. You can only see them out of the corner of your eye supposedly. I usually just smile and nod whenever she talks about ghosts. I don’t believe for one second there are ghosts.

Sipping my coffee, I flick my shoes off and lean back in the recliner putting the foot rest up. Again, I see something out of the corner of my eye. Maybe I should go get my eyes checked? I’ll have to put that down on my mental checklist. I turn slowly toward the window and I have to blink my eyes twice. I can’t believe what I see. A man dressed as a Samurai is standing on the street looking right at me. It’s too early for Halloween.

I put the foot rest down and lean forward in my chair getting ready to stand and the Samurai disappears. Confused I pause where I’m at. Could this be an optical illusion? Or am I going crazy? I slowly lean back keeping my eyes on the window. The Samurai doesn’t reappear and I sigh. Maybe I’m having a brain aneurism and it’s causing me to hallucinate. I start to call for my wife, but take another look at the window.

There! Not a Samurai, but a monkey dressed as an Indian riding what looks like an armadillo. Now I know I’m going crazy as it becomes a veritable parade of the weird and crazy. Pink spotted Giraffes with the face of my mother-in-law. A dancing coffee cup being chased by tiny army men. Not to mention the up side down naked lady riding a lawn mower.

Instead of being alarmed, I start to enjoy kooky parade. For some reason it calms me the more outlandish it gets. I look around the neighborhood, but no one else is around or looking through their windows. Then the parade ends with a black mist that seems to be growing and coming straight toward my window.

I cry out in horror! I try to get up out of my chair, but I’m frozen in place. My legs are kicking and my arms are flailing about to no end. The black mist reaches the window and then oozes through a tiny crack in the corner. I knew I should have fixed that. The black mist grows and seems to be getting solid. I’m frozen in fright.

As the apparition closes on me and everything goes dark, I scream!

My wife turns on the light and grabs my shoulder shaking me. I’m in my bed sitting up.

“Honey”, my wife gently says, “are you having another nightmare?”

Whew, what a relief! It was just a nightmare. Granted the strangest one I have ever had. I close my eyes in relief and start to lay back down in my bed.

A bright light flashes in my eyes. I hear voices indistinctly. The light goes away and I am back in darkness but I can hear the voices becoming clearer.

A man’s voice says, “I’m sorry, but your husband has no brain activity at all. The machines are the only thing keeping him alive. When you are ready, nod and we will shut everything down.”

I scream “NOOOOOOO!”

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 #22 – Snow

Prompt – It’s June 13th, the snow won’t stop falling.

Photo by Jakub Sisulak on Pexels.com

It had been the coldest winter in memory. The snow started falling on New Year’s Eve. It didn’t stop for ten days. At first, the snow was wonderful. Walking on the fresh snow hearing it crunch with each footstep brought back childhood memories. The freshness in the air wiped out the smell of cow manure when I went to milk our cow in the early morning. Huddled next to her I kept warm as I methodically milked the udders. Invariably the barn cats would line up for me to shoot a stream of milk into each of their mouths.

Carrying the full bucket of milk and a basket of eggs from the chicken coop, I tramped back to the house, my footsteps from earlier already starting to fil in. After my morning chores, I sat by the fire and watched the weather report. The meteorologist had predicted a mild winter. Little did we know he was tragically wrong. From January through April, we had 18 major snowfalls lasting at least a week each.

Rumors abounded among the farming folk as to why it snowed so much. Some thought there must of been a further tilting of the earth from true North. Others thought that the Chinese were experimenting with weather controls. The most wacky rumor was that the Russians had used atomic bombs in the Artic.

In mid February, we lost electricity. The snow by then was 10 feet deep. I had stamped out a path to the barn that now looked like a canyon. In the first week of March, I spent two days carving out a tunnel to my reserve woodpile. By the end of March we were down to a few chickens. Each one had been a meal that we made last three days.

Finally in May, the snow stopped, but the weather remained cold. Very little of the snow melted. I strapped on my snowshoes and trekked to my neighbor three miles away to inquire if he had heard any news. His brother had made a perilous journey to town, a distance of twenty miles. Returning he had reported that the entire town had frozen over. Only the farm folk had survived.

Disheartened I went home wondering if this was going to be the end of the world. Where was our government? Why hadn’t they come with National Guard troops to bail us out? Was it this bad or worse everywhere else? Not knowing, I had no choice but to try to survive until the snow melted.

Then in the last week of May, it started snowing again. My reserves of wood were almost gone. The last chicken had gone into the pot yesterday. I had tried hunting, but all the wildlife had fled weeks ago. Soon I would have to make the hard decision to sacrifice our cow. She had been with us for years and I knew her meat would be tough, but it would be enough to keep us from starving. The pantry was bare.

It’s June 13th, the snow is still falling. I’ve scavenged everything that can burn. Chairs, tables, bed frame and closet shelves all eventually made its way into the fireplace to keep us warm. There is nothing left. We have meat from the cow, but without a source of fuel for the fire we will freeze to death. I’m too weak to go out to the barn to scavenge wood. The back half of the house collapsed two days ago from the amount of snow on the roof. I can hear the creaking of the roof above our heads.

My teeth chattering from the cold, I looked to my wife. Underneath all the clothes she wore, I knew she was as gaunt as me. We huddled together and whispered ‘I love you’ as the fire sputtered for one last time plunging us into darkness.

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

Trying Something New

I’ve been writing a novel off and on for a while. I like how it’s going, but have this nagging fear that it isn’t going to be any good. Yes, I know, Imposter Syndrome strikes it’s ugly head once again.

I came across this forum that you can post your story in chapters. All rights are reserved to the author. I went back and forth on deciding to post my book there. Finally I decided to take the plunge. As it gets lots of views, I think I’ll get good feedback on it. I posted the Prologue and Part 1, Chapter 1 today. I plan on posting a chapter a week. This should keep me motivated enough to keep writing the book until it is finished.

Or it could crash and burn into a million fiery inglorious bits. I’ll deal with that if it happens.

If you want to follow along and read the story as it unfolds, then go HERE and bookmark the story. You don’t have to register to read it, only if you want to comment on it.

The nice part of this forum is that I can have the story pulled if in the future I decide to publish it. Of course, I’ll probably have to do extensive rewriting.

Weekly Writing Challenge #20 – The Clearing

Prompt – Write about a character who finds an odd-looking egg in the forest.

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Harry Greun dreaded going into the forest. He told them that he only wanted urban assignments, but they ignored his protests and insisted he was the man for the job. He wore brand new hiking boots, jeans and a plaid flannel shirt with a knit cap. He thought he either looked like a Seattle hipster or a lumberjack.

Harry checked his compass carefully and then started the perilous trek amongst the trees. He needed to hike three miles due north to get to the compound. Of course, the underbrush was thick and he had to take a lot of detours. Checking his compass frequently, he estimated he was only a mile from the target.

A rustle in the bushes to his left made Harry stop and hold his breath. Snake? Bear? To his relief, it was only a rabbit that hopped out and curiously looked at Harry for a moment and then dashed away. Harry let out his breath in relief and in the same moment cursed this assignment. He checked his compass again and lamented that his cell phone didn’t have a signal. GPS would have made this a lot easier.

He looked at the sun on his right and checked the compass again in disbelief. If he was truly going north, then the afternoon sun should be on his left. This couldn’t be right. Harry turned in a slow circle looking while glancing at his compass. Puzzled, he realized that he was probably lost. With only a few hours until the sun went down, Harry needed to make a decision to keep pressing on or abort the mission.

Looking ahead, there were several downed trees blocking his way. On a whim, he decided to climb up and over them instead of circling around. As he got to the top, he spied a clearing, the first one he had seen since starting this adventure. It wasn’t a very big clearing, maybe twenty feet across. He kneeled down on the tree he was standing on and took a closer look at the edges of the clearing. Seems there were downed trees all along the perimeter. Surprisingly, there were no stumps in the clearing, only wild grass and wildflowers. In the center, there looked to be a small mound.

Thinking this could be a bad idea, but throwing caution to the winds, Harry jumped down toward the mound. At first glance, he thought it could be a really big ant bed, but he didn’t see any ants. He glanced at his compass and the needle was swing around wildly. Mystery solved why the compass wasn’t working correctly. Harry pulled out his Bowie knife and gingerly probed the mound. A clink made him catch his breath once again. Could it be treasure he thought?

Digging carefully, he finally unearthed what looked like a metal egg. It was bigger than a goose egg, but smaller than an ostrich egg. The metal looked to be somewhat shiny, possibly steel. Why on earth would someone craft and egg and then place it in a clearing in the middle of a forest?

Harry decided this was something that his friend John Ang would love to see. He reached down and grasped the egg. A thunderous roar and flash of light made Harry clinch his eyes shut. He slowly opened them and found himself in front of a door in a hallway. Confused he looked around and realized he was outside John’s office. Looking down, he found that he hand was grasping nothing. He opened the door and there was John busy at his desk working on calculations.

“Harry! Isn’t it a bit early for Halloween?”

Harry eased himself on the sofa and took a deep breath, “Um, I’m not sure what happened.”

John peered at Harry with concern, “You okay? Tell me what you remember.”

Harry thought about it and then shook his head, “No, I think I’ll keep this one to myself.”

John laughed, “This is one for the history books. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in such a state.”

“Put it this way, I’m never, ever going to take an assignment that involves a forest again.”

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 #19 – The Rain

Prompt – Write a third-person story about two friends playing in the rain.

Photo by Viktorya Sergeeva ud83dudc99ud83dudc9bud83eudec2 on Pexels.com

The dark clouds rolled in from the east toward Sunnyvale Retirement Home. Ethel and Mabel had been enjoying the view of the lawn with the distant trees in the background from the porch.

“Mabel, we better think about getting up and going in, rains a coming.”

“Pfft, Ethel May, don’t tell me you is afraid of a bit of rain?”

Ethel shook her head, “I’m not afraid of rain, but I don’t want to get my good Sunday dress wet.”

Mabel took a sip of her lemonade and said, “I do declare, you must have a month of Sunday dresses as I’ve never seen you wear anything but them.”

The heavens opened up with a gentle shower. The air freshened with the sweet smell of rain. Puddles started forming in the low spots of the gravel road that led to the home.

“Oh look, Ethel, isn’t the rain nice? Do you remember when we used to play in the rain?”

“Oh lordy, child. That must have been a hundred years ago. I’m getting way too old to play in the rain.”

“And too cranky,” muttered Mabel.

“What? What did you say?”

“Never mind, I jus think we ought to have at least one more time to play in the rain. Look at all those puddles jus beggin to be jumped in. Do you remember all the fun we had when we was youngin’s? When is the last time we actually had fun? I swear on my pinkie finger, I haven’t heard you laugh in forever.”

Ethel glowered at Mabel, “I remember. I also remember the scoldin’s we got when we came in all muddied up tracking dirt in the house. Besides, that rain looks cold to me, I don’t want to die of pneumonia, I’d rather die in my sleep dreaming of my late dear husband.”

“Pshaw! You mean the husband that you nagged to death. I saw the relief on your face when he finally passed on.”

Ethel put on her shocked face, “Mabel Kay, I do declare! You shall not disparage the memory of my husband. He was the finest …”

Mabel interrupted, “Yes Ethel Mae, we all know about your sainted husband, but lest you forget, I was there with you crying on my shoulder all the times he was mean to you. Oh look, the rain is lightening up. Come on Ethel, while we still have the chance. Please come and play in the rain with me.”

Ethel took a slow look around, “Well, maybe. No, what am I saying! I won’t be found frolicking in the rain with you or anybody else.”

Mabel narrowed her eyes and said in a low voice, “Ethel Mae, you either come play in the rain with me, or I’ll let everybody know you have been sneaking into Mr. Charles bedroom for years, even before your so-called sainted husband passed.”

“You wouldn’t dare!”

Mabel got up from the chair and took a step toward the edge of the porch. She looked back and with a knowing smile said, “I would dare. Now get up and humor this old woman one final time.”

Ethel slowly stood, “Is it cold?”

“Of course not. You know as well as I do that summer rains here in the low country of South Carolina are always warm. It’ll be jus like takin a shower.”

Mable and Ethel gingerly walked out on to the lawn in the rain. The paused next to a small puddle and Ethel brought her foot down splashing water and mud all over both of them. They laughed and moved to the next puddle where Mabel splashed them with even more mud. By this time, arm in arm, they were laughing and giggling like a pair of loons.

The Sunnyvale orderlies eventually came out and whisked them back inside to get them clean and dry.

“Miss Mabel and Miss Ethel, I can’t believe the two of you. Ninety-eight years old and playing in the rain like you was young again.” said the head nurse.

The old southern ladies grinned at each other and headed to their shared room to lie down for the night. Morning came and the orderly checking on them discovered that Mabel and Ethel had passed in the night. They both wore grins like they had been dreaming of playing in the rain.

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

Author’s Note: Usually I have a good idea of what I’m going to write in these weekly challenges before I get started. This time, I sat down and had no earthly idea what to write. Somehow, the story slowly took shape and then like a locomotive at full power took off. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Confetti

Denise the bartender of Six Sentence Café & Bistro glared at Harry Gruen every time he ordered another drink because he kept calling her Luv.

Harry being Harry was oblivious and thought he was charming Denise with a twinkle in his eye and a disarming smile.

Eventually Denise, Mimi and Nick started to approach Harry together with the aim of throwing him out of the SSC&B.

Harry grinned and stood up saying, “Mimi, I have a message from your cousin”, as he withdrew a long tube from his jacket and pointed it at Mimi.

With a quick jerk of the tube, out popped colorful confetti covering Mimi, “Tag you’re it!”

Harry pressed a business card into Denise’s stunned hand saying, “Luv, give me a call sometime, we’ll go out,” as he sauntered toward the exit.

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 “Confetti”, and here’s where you join the party: Six Sentence Stories

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