Tag Archives: Story

Monument

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Monument

A cow is screaming across the arroyo. Fireworks explode in honor of whatever saint’s day is being celebrated this week, drowning out her loud shrieking bellows. It is twelve hours later that someone finds the cow, her horns caught in the wire fence. Too late to save her, they do the kind thing and a single shot rings out. When her owner leaves her for the buzzards, a stench settles over the neighborhood, and we pay a man to cover her in quicklime. It is months later that someone ventures up to find a perfect effigy of the cow—jaws open in her last cries of agony. In mistaking concrete for quicklime, the man we paid to do away with her has instead constructed her monument. Immortalized on that mountain where few others will ever see her, I often see her in my dreams.

For dVerse Poets, we were to write a story of 144 words or less that made use of the line about the screaming cow above. You can read the stories others wrote on the topic by hitting the dVerse link above. This one is exactly 144 words. True story, by the way.

Three Stories Miraculously Bonded into One

Click on the first photo to enlarge all photos and read the captions.  You must do this first to reveal the mystery.  What do all of these things have in common? Can you guess before reading the complete story printed after the photos and captions? Do you even want to?

Annie just peed in my shower––I mean a man-sized stream that arced up from where she was standing on the floor in front of the shower, over the 6 inch ledge and into the shower, where  it ran from a couple of feet away right down the drain. I shouted, “No, no,” but she finished and ran away. Then I remembered that I’d cleaned out her box this morning in the location where it is located in the  guest room shower and had to empty all the sand and wash out the box and under it because there was pee all over the shower floor, probably because all the cats were in yesterday and had used it and it was not pleasant to enter, so she just peed in the shower, or they did.

Anyway, I had sprayed ammonia over all the floor and box, scrubbed them both and then sprayed again with an odor eradicator and stood the box on end to dry while the shower floor dried. Then I closed the door so she didn’t go in there while it was drying. Unfortunately, I then left to drive Yolanda home, do a bit of shopping and stop by the fraccionamiento office to see if I’d paid my special assessment. I then stopped by a couple of neighbor’s houses to apologize for Diego’s barking while I was gone–another story–forgetting that I hadn’t opened the door to her guest room bathroom and set up her litter box again, so she had nowhere to pee. She did it in the easiest place to clean. Good girl.
Phew. Telling about it took as much effort as doing the two cleanups, but now the plot thickens.

Yesterday I knocked a bottle of dark rose-colored nail polish off the counter of my master bedroom bathroom and it dropped and broke on the eggshell-colored ceramic tile of my bathroom, spraying across 8 feet of floor, over the new rug I had just bought in the states, and a bit up the wall. Rapidly drying pools of bright polish and splatters mixed in with shards of glass and tiny pieces of glass made passing through the bathroom to the tub nearly impossible! Damn! How to clean it up without walking through it and cutting my fingers to shreds? I ended up wadding Kleenex and toilet paper and picking up what shards were big enough to see, then used nail polish remover pads to tackle the polish, removing big gobs with Kleenex, then carefully scrubbing with the pads. When I ran out of pads, I put polish remover on wads of Kleenex, but it was a big job.

When I had cleared away most of the bigger puddles and largest shards and removed most of the polish off the wall and rug, I had just the decorative splashes left—about 3 feet of them—it occurred to me then that the first thing forgottenman would say when I told him the story was, “Did you take pictures?” No, I hadn’t. So, now that most of the mess was already cleaned up,  I did.  Secondly, it occurred to me that I should just pour the rest of the bottle of polish remover over the floor and use my foot in my Croc to rub Kleenex over them. I wouldn’t have to worry about glass and could apply more pressure. I finally got it all up and then put more remover down and rubbed over larger areas to remove the stain, as that porous area now sported an overall  pinkish glow.

Finally, coming up to the present and Annie’s peeing in the shower, when I was mopping up her urine with toilet paper so I could flush it, I found a pretty good sized clear shard of glass from the top part of the jar which had no polish on it to make it obvious, jagged end facing up, in the shower just where I would have stepped when I took my next shower. It had flown up and over the edge and into the shower when the nail polish bottle broke! Good Annie! Her foresight (or hindsight?) in peeing in my shower probably saved me a serious injury.

But! Did I really say finally? As I was writing this post, the plot thickened again. Just before I started writing this post and taking the photos to accompany it, I had put a small pan of Brussels sprouts on to steam. Since there were only seven largish sprouts, I used a steamer basket in a small covered saucepan with water up to the bottom of the steamer bottom.  I had cut the tops of each sprout almost through to the bottom in an X pattern, and as I sprinkled them with “No Salt,” pepper, garlic powder and a bit of balsamic vinegar, I was remembering the last Brussels sprouts I’d had when I first got to Sheridan two months ago.  They were served as an appetizer in a restaurant and since both my sister and Jim, her husband, hate them, it was up to my friend Patty, her boyfriend Duffy and me to polish off the whole batch.  That was no problem.  They were delicious—piquant and a bit charred with a wonderful smoky flavor.  I was wondering how I could duplicate that recipe.  Would I steam them first, then char them? What were the spices? For years I’d been using a friend’s recipe which I loved but I liked these even better.

At any rate, the present day Brussels sprouts went on the gas stovetop to steam and I went to the bathroom to survey the scene and to write this story, then to my desk in the bedroom to finish it.  One thing led to another and a half hour had passed before I finished typing the story.  When I came back to the living room to plug in my computer, edit photos and post, I heard a sizzling and rapid rocking sound and smelled a burning smell.  Damn! The Brussels sprouts!  I quickly turned off the gas under the completely waterless smoking saucepan, removed the sprouts with tongs and took the pan to the sink, running hot water over the charred black inside of the pan.  Yes. More hissing and steam, but then, mindlessly, I turned the pan over and ran cold water over the burning hot pan.  Instantly, an explosion of steam so intense that it removed the color from the outside of the enamel pan that was nearest to its bottom. 

Luckily, I had a huge box of baking soda and two partially full bottles of cider vinegar.  Into the pan they went with the expected chemical reaction: rapidly swelling foam and more hissing. I did a rigorous scrubbing with a scrubber sponge and Spongedaddy, using lots of muscle power as well as more soda and vinegar.  Scrub scrub scrub.  Although I got some of the char off the sides, I made little progress with the bottom of the inside of the pan. 

As I left the pan in the sink to soak, I spied the Brussels sprouts neglected on the counter.  I mixed up a bit of stevia in balsamic vinegar and sprinkled it over the sprouts. Swirled them a bit, then decided to taste. I think you’ve guessed the ending.  Yup.  They tasted exactly like the Brussels sprouts appetizer in the restaurant in Sheridan, Wyoming.  So, again, thanks Annie. I’ll think twice before scolding you for any future misdeeds.  But I’m going to have to buy a new pan.  xoxoxo

First Offense

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First Offense

He took a cursory look at the damage. Just a paint scratch, really—one that could probably be removed from his back bumper with a little turpentine. Taking a look at the vehicle that had rear-ended him at the street light, he doubted that it had insurance, so it was a good thing that he’d already decided that there was no need to file a claim or to persecute the offender. It would make a good yarn once he got to the office and a perfect excuse for his being late. 

“Better stay on the sidewalk after this,” he yelled at the back of the toddler pedaling his toy car quickly away from the scene of the crime, his little friend in the toy patrol car pedaling down the sidewalk after him in pursuit, red light blinking, siren wailing as they rounded the corner.

 

The prompts for today are yarn, being, cursory, and persecute.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/rdp-82-yarn/

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/08/21/fowc-with-fandango-being/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/cursory/

https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/ persecute

“My Humorous Anecdote” by Sarah Southwest (Reblog)

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I love this poem that Sarah wrote for dVerse Poets this week.  I’ll prime the pump, then you need to go to her blog to read the rest:

My Humorous Anecdote 

                                 –by Sarah Southwest

We have a funny story
that we often try to tell,
so funny, when we start it,
we giggle for a spell

We can’t remember how it starts
or recall how it ends,
so perhaps we shouldn’t share it
with our dinner party friends

but it’s really so amusing,
it always makes us smile,
so we keep on trying to tell it,
and we struggle for a while –

we argue on location,
can’t recall the time of day,
but it was so hilarious,
we must tell you, we say, . . . .

(To read the rest of this poem, go to:  Sarahsouthwest’s Blog.

Fourth Floor (17 minute Writing)

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4th Floor

When I was a young girl, I worked as a maid in a small hotel in Puerto Vallarta. It was not one of the big all-inclusive monster hotels, but rather a place small by comparison. Perhaps twenty-five rooms per floor, four floors. Esmerelda, my best friend, got me the job. She had worked there for many years and so had the prime assignment on the first floor. I, being new, was assigned to floor 4. That entire floor was my responsibility. The sheets, towels, trash cans, restoring chairs moved by large parties to other rooms back to their prescribed place, restoring order in rooms seemingly hit by a big wind—clothing strewn here and there, drinks spilled, sometimes crude messages scribbled on the mirrors with lipstick or dripping creams whose origins I didn’t care to guess. This job was like a new book that I read each day. What of the person who had slept in that room last night still remained? What did the condition of their room tell about them?

One day, after I had knocked on the door and announced myself, hearing utter silence, I entered a room to find a man still sleeping in the bed. I could tell it was a man because of one foot which stuck out from under the sheet. He slept on his stomach, very near the edge of the bed that faced toward the center of the room, his face turned toward the space between the two queen-sized beds. He slept soundly, which is a strange adverb to describe the way he slept because he actually made no sound. Not a whistle of breath through nostrils. Not a loud inhale through the mouth that seemed to catch against barbs in the throat to create a snore. Not the soft vibrations of lips as he exhaled. No inhalation or exhalation, now that I grew closer, and suddenly I became sure that this man had died in the night in this bed that I would have to strip and remake in this room that I would need to clean many more times if I continued in this career in this hotel and that I would always remember that a man had died in this room and feel a slight hesitation as I put the key in the lock.

Feeling already that this would be my true future, I moved closer to the bed to meet my fate as well as the fate of this stranger. I sat myself on the bed across from him, moving my head down to his level to look closely at his face to see if his eyes were open—to see if his last thoughts would be revealed in them or in the curl of his lips, upwards or downwards. To see what sort of a man he might have been. To see what he might look like with life leaked out of him before making the call to the desk for someone to aid me in dealing with this matter.

It was a pleasant face with no panic written on it. A face at peace. A face with a day and night’s stubble on it that would have been shaven by now had he had one more chance to do so, as it was clear there was no more than 24 hours of stubble on those swarthy cheeks. He was handsome. I was sad to have such a man departed from this world.

I do not know what possessed me that I reached out to touch this man on the hand that hung down a bit from the bed, as though it had dropped there absent-mindedly, unconsciously, in sleep. Expecting to find it cold, I was surprised at its warmth. I held it more firmly, seeking with one finger to find a pulse.

“Hello.” The eyes opened. Those lips breathed and they spoke. Those lips smiled, as did mine. And that is how I met your father. And that is how I came to be your mother instead of a girl who cleaned rooms on the 4th floor of a small hotel in Puerto Vallarta.

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During our four day writing retreat in Puerto Vallarta, we did a series of four to twenty minute timed writings to prompts.  In this one, our “leader,” Judy Reeves, told us to take ten photos, then to choose one small detail from one of the photos to write about for seventeen minutes. This was the piece I wrote yesterday to that prompt.  I’m now home, promptless, as WordPress hasn’t published the prompt yet.  I soon have to take a friend to the airport, so will share with you this bit of our lovely four day get-away with writing friends.

Snowball in Hell


I just got home from a luncheon where I was surprised to discover I’d received the 2017 Ojo del Lago Award for outstanding literary achievement in the category of best fiction for a short story, “Snowball in Hell.”  I don’t believe I’ve ever published it on my blog as it was done as a timed writing for my writing group in La Manzanilla. Since it loosely follows the prompt for today, which is “tentative,” I’ll stretch things a bit and publish it today:

Snowball in Hell

“There’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell,” she snarled at him as he beat a hasty retreat out the door. Everyone knew she was a feisty old dame, but she still felt compelled to prove the fact often enough to remind herself of the truth of it. Lately, she’d been feeling herself mellow. Growing teary-eyed at the sight of kittens on YouTube videos—having little heart-flutters when she glimpsed other women’s grandchildren in photos on cell phones.

When she stood back to consider this strange new course of events, she could only view it as she might view a mysterious disease—look at the symptoms, try to figure out a cure. Surely, being around children or kittens might help. Nothing like reality to pop the bubble of a fancy. Kibbles underfoot and gumdrops in the sheets could surely cancel out cute. Although she had no experience with such cures, since they’d never been necessary before.

Jake had wanted kids long ago. Actually, he’d gone on wanting them for a good twenty years—as long as she might have provided them—but her refusal had been as determined as her response today, when he had asked if she perhaps would be interested in a Caribbean cruise. Her on a cruise ship with old men in madras shorts and women in beauty-parlor hairdos? She tried to think of what she would do on a boat. She had taken a mental oath years before to never play shuffleboard and bridge made her dyspeptic. She’d discovered this in college, waiting for Karen Schuller to play her hand, drumming her long perfectly polished fingernails on the bridge table, screwing her little red cupid box mouth into a perplexed knot.

“Play the damn card!!!” she’d screamed internally, afraid that if the bitch ran one more finger tattoo on the table that she’d slam her fist down on that perfect hand. It seemed easier to give up bridge than to give up the aggression she felt every time she heard the sharp drumming and viewed that pensive mouth.

Cruise ships, she was sure, were full of Karen Schullers, all grown up, with fingernails an inch longer, lips forty years more wrinkled. And they made you eat things like lobster and crabs—giant underwater bugs that no one would ever convince her were meant for consumption. But the truth of it was, that aside from these irritations, being cooped up in a cabin with Jake for a week or more must didn’t carry any attraction for her any more. The old coot got stranger by the day. Just last night, on the couch, watching Ray Donovan, he had tried to hold her hand. Forty years married and like a teenager, furtively reaching over. They’d been done with all that syrup years ago, but now, why was he thinking hand holds and Caribbean cruises?

What month was it? She tried to sort out a reason. Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas––not that they ever observed any of them. Finally, she gave up. There was no accounting for old men in their first states of senility. She would just have to put up with it, but she didn’t have to go along. She settled herself more solidly into her chair and grabbed the remote, switching on the TV connected to her computer. Millie Perkins had Facebooked her another puppy/bunny video. She tried to resist, but found herself moving the mouse over to the arrow. The bunny had loppy ears and the puppy had very long hair and a little vest. She clicked off the TV quickly when Jake came into the room, but didn’t greet him.

“Clara?” he asked tentatively. She pretended not to hear. “Honey?” In his hand was an envelope that looked sort of crumpled and a bit dusty, like he’d been hanging onto it for awhile. “Remember your last checkup? The results came a few days ago.” She looked up at him, and his face looked soft––like the face of the bunny. Something was written on it––a different sadness that she hadn’t seen before. He sat down beside her on the couch and risked once more taking her hand. And this time she let him.

http://chapala.com/elojo/index.php/218-articles-2017/september-2017/3872-snowball-in-hell

The prompt today was tentative

On the Road in Sonora

 Busy day today…ten hours of driving and many adventures, beginning with the night before, when we ate at a wonderful restaurant/patisserie called Panama’s in Mazatlan.  Unfortunately, they didn’t serve any alcohol and Blue, the friend I’m traveling with, was dying for a glass of white wine.
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Remember The TV show “House Party,” where Art Linkletter inspected purses from the audience members and gave prizes for certain objects if they were found in their purses?  I still pack a purse as though I expect to be picked in House Party!  So, I just happened to have had in my purse a flask given to me recently by my friend Dianne which I had stocked with a fine Anejo rum! Blue and I both ordered a pineapple-coconut blended smoothie and I spiked them with rum from the flask.  I had always wanted a flask, and I was feeling happy on both counts and then, as usual, overacted as Blue snapped a second picture with my camera.
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So, we had a wonderful meal and afterwards, went in search of boxes of wine–easier to pack and Blue isn’t terribly picky about her wine, other than the fact that she actually has it–every night!  So, we went to several stores that didn’t sell wine before finding one that did…a large store similar to Target, but remember, we are in Mexico.  We stood in a very long line and finally got to the checkout stand…only to be told by the clerk that they couldn’t sell wine after 8 p.m.!!  We couldn’t believe it.  We asked if this was a Mazatlan law and she said no, just a rule of this particular chain store.

So, we went to a 7-11 store. Blue asked if they had white wine and the clerk just motioned at the wall behind her that was covered with shelves of liquor bottles.  Blue asked again in Spanish if she had vino blanco and the girl, who was playing a video game on her phone, again just waved at the wall, where Blue could see they had only red wine.  Off we went to search out another 7-11 store.  Same story.  Only red wine!  So, we retreated back to our hotel.

The next morning, because we had a very long drive, we got on the road early, but when we passed another Ley’s store (the chain that wouldn’t sell us wine the night before.) I asked Blue if she wanted me to stop and she said yes, so I went in to get batteries and met her at the checkout.  She preceded me in line, blissfully holding her two boxes of wine…unbelievably, to be told by the clerk that they couldn’t sell her wine before 8 in the morning!!!!  By now it was getting surreal!!  Or, like a sort of south of the border Candid Camera.

We left the store, shaking our heads, unbelieving.  Blue has lived in Mexico for 19 years and I have lived here for 14 and neither of us has ever heard of this!  Nonetheless, we proceeded to drive northwards and eventually, we came to another town.  It was our good fortune to see another Ley’s store right off the Cuota road and since it was now an hour later, I exited, knowing Blue was anxious to buy her wine.  This time I remained in the car, sure that I’d soon see her emerging triumphant from the store.  She did in fact emerge–but not triumphant. She opened the car door empty-handed.  ????  I couldn’t imagine what had happened this time.  It turns out that once again, she had been told that they couldn’t sell her wine before 8 a.m.  It seems as though unbeknownst to us, we had passed into another time zone and once again, it was earlier than 8 a.m.!!!

Certainly by now we should have gotten a hint that some force in the universe did not want Blue to have her wine, but we share a certain stubborn streak and so several hours later when we passed yet another Ley’s store in yet another town several hundred miles north of our last stop, we stopped again and this time she emerged triumphant with two boxes in her shopping bag.  We drove on and when we arrived in San Carlos and got our room, she was looking forward to her first glass of wine of our trip.

As I set the luggage out for the attendant to carry up the stairs for us (no elevator), Blue called out that she had to go get the wine that she had forgotten to remove from the car!  Two men who were just unloading their car called out, “Oh yeah, can’t forget the wine!”  Of course, Blue had to tell them the story, at which point they said, “That’s a law all over Mexico.  It’s a church thing–you can’t sell alcohol between 8 pm and 8 am.  When we tried to tell them we’d lived in Mexico for many years and this wasn’t so in Jalisco, they were adamant.  So, we let the matter be.  Blue was anxious to have her long awaited first sip and there is no arguing with some people.

Unfortunately, the wine was warm, there was no ice machine in our hotel and the hotel restaurant was closed, so Blue trooped across the road and paid 20 pesos for a glass of ice, then returned to the room and ahhhhh poured her first glass of wine.

I can’t quite duplicate the sound that issued from her mouth when she poured the wine.  She was at the sink out of sight from  where I was lying on the bed, but it was not a pretty sound.  Nor was the wine a pretty sight when it emerged from the box a bright orange color.  Obviously, something had gone wrong in terms of the procedure for wine storage in that store.  Perhaps the demand was not that great for boxed wine or white wine or perhaps no one else had been able to manage to buy it within the prescribed hours, but clearly, this wine so hard won was not to be the prize hoped for.

Something there is that does not want Blue wined.  She poured the wine down the drain and we trooped across the road to a wonderful palapa restaurant perched on a rock high above the ocean and had an adventure not involving white wine but again involving pina coladas, a fall off a bar stool, brash gulls and a toothpick.  But that is a story for another post.

Tomorrow, we cross the border.  The next time you hear from me, we’ll be in Peoria, Arizona, and you’ll get another chapter of our drive northwards.  Yes, we’ll be stopping for wine as soon as we cross the border.  No, I won’t be drinking it, but I’ll still be packing my trusty flask.  Thanks, Dianne!!!

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