Adults say the darndest things

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I had it made as a kid.  My parents were co-owners of a coin laundry, a bakery and then a Sub shop that also served ice cream.  There were a few arcade games in the sub shop and Defender and Asteroids ate many of the quarters that were once my allowance.  I was the living version of a kid in a candy store.

My dad also sold real estate during the same time period, so to say he had many irons in the fire is a gross understatement.  His office was located conveniently up the street from the sub shop so I would bounce back and forth from each business and soon became a runner for the agent’s ice cream requests.  I will never forget Ken Robinson.  He was in his seventies, had white hair like Santa Claus and a severe penchant for mint chocolate chip ice cream.  He and I became quick friends once I learned that he shared the same love for that minty, chocolate deliciousness as I did.

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Every day, Ken would hand me his money and I would gladly run down the street to retrieve his afternoon treat.  I ran in to the office one hot summer day to find Ken’s desk unattended.  I asked the secretary where he was and she could not look me in the eye.  Instead, I was told to talk to my father.  Ken had died of a heart attack the night before.  I was devastated.  Ken had been the first person I had known who had died.  After many days of tears and avoiding the office, I finally gathered the courage to go back.  Carl was there with his ill-fitting sport coat and bad seventies mustache.  I will never forget how nonchalant he was when he spoke to the 11-year old me and said, “You musta killed him with all that mint chocolate chip ice cream.”

I carried that burden with me to Ken’s funeral and for many years after.   We went to the service as a family and I can still remember the dress I wore.  We paid our respects to his family and approached his open casket.  I was terrified that Ken’s wax-like body was going to sit upright, point at me at scream, “you did this to me”.   I could barely breathe.

Now, as an adult, I still have difficulties at open-casket funerals.  The logical side of my brain assures me that a deceased body cannot move, but the young girl and the writer in me still have that nagging doubt.

I can only hope that Carl eventually outgrew his horrendous mustache (and Herb Tarlek wardrobe) and learned to think before he spewed any further erroneous judgement on young, impressionable minds.  Either that or he has had ten children and countless grandchildren of his own and Karma has finally paid him a visit!

Losing their control of “control”

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“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” ~ Spock

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I do not live, nor have I ever lived, in the United States so I am decidedly unqualified to comment on their gun laws.  I am, however, a member of the human race so that gives me as much right as anyone to voice an opinion on the senseless loss of lives in mass shootings.

 I have never attempted to purchase a gun.  And while I understand the unequivocable right afforded to U.S. citizens in the Second Amendment to the Constitution to ‘keep and bear arms’,  this amendment seems glaringly outdated and egregiously misused.

Perhaps using a quote from Star Trek may seem trite but the needs of the many human beings on this planet, innocent people being cut down by automatic weapons designed for mass casualties, must, in some realm of reality, outweigh the needs of the few making these weapons legal to purchase and own.

The world is crying out.  Its citizens are angry.  The right to bear arms is understandable when we keep in mind its original intent was self-defense.  The right to easily obtain a weapon meant to be a destructive killing machine seems to stretch the boundaries of that amendment to infinitesimal proportions.

How many more lives have to be unnaturally extinguished before someone says, “enough is enough”?   This is a new world, an angry world.  And the more we fuel that world with the means to spread hatred quickly and efficiently in a hail of bullets, the faster the human race will destroy itself and everything else in its path because they were allowed to buy legal armaments to make it happen.

We have already seen it too many times on our television and computer screens.  Hate is a powerful force.  And knowing that hate can simply walk in, go through the necessary channels and readily purchase an automatic weapon to spread its message scares the shit out of me.

Keeping an eye out – fiction

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This short story was written for a collection called F*&$ed Up Fairy Tales.   I thought I would post it here to get my creative juices flowing and get back into the twisted spirit needed to get working on my novel.

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The sputtering neon sign cut through the malignant darkness, blinking as the electric current passed through the wires.  It simply read ‘vacancy’.  He knew wayward travellers would soon appear at the only motel for miles and he had meticulously prepared for the arrival of stragglers lost on the unforgiving stretch of highway.  Each room had been cleaned by him and the deodorizer had been applied liberally to extinguish any remaining scent of decomposition.  He surveyed each room, his eyes focusing on anything that may have seemed out of place, and closed the door leaving the room ready for the next guest.  He sat in the tiny office waiting for the first sign of headlights he knew would be coming.  He sensed that she was near.

The storm winds had escalated and the rain began to pelt down on the tin roof of the motel.   The staccato beat of water on metal soothed him.  He closed his eyes and let the sound bathe him in its rhythm.  She was closer.  His eyelids fluttered opened to see the high beams of the oncoming car slash through the darkness and his pulse quickened.  He could almost hear her heartbeat racing as she maneuvered the car through the puddles.

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The flashing pink sign looked like a strobe light as the wipers furiously tried to keep up with the rain on her windshield.  Her grip was tight on the steering wheel and she could hear her mother’s voice in her head calling it a ‘white-knuckle’ drive.  The vacancy sign grew brighter as her car made the turn into the motel parking lot.  She was almost positive she hadn’t been followed but parked the car at the back of the motel just to be certain it wasn’t spotted during the night.

She collected the small travel bag from the passenger seat and reached into the glove compartment for the Glock, tucking it into the side of the bag and concealing it from plain sight.  Exhausted from the drive, she headed to the motel office and hoped for a short reprieve from having to constantly look over her shoulder.  This motel, in the middle of nowhere, may be the one place she could silence the voices in her head and shut out her warped reality, if only for a few hours.

She pushed the door open and immediately noticed the odours.  The deodorizer hit her senses first but her keen sense of smell detected the pungent scent of death lying in wait underneath the lilac spray.  This essence was no stranger to her and she continued forward to ring the bell on the unattended desk.  Her hand absently moved to the side of her travel bag and traced the outline of the pistol.

He came out of the back office and greeted her with a warm smile, welcoming her to the motel.  The menial task of signing her false name was done and he moved around the desk to show her to the room.  Her hand never left the side of her bag as she followed him along the concrete walkway.  His gait was confident and his silence was comforting.  They exchanged no words as he handed her the key to the room that was meant only for her.  She opened the door to the room and felt his stare burning into her back.  As she closed the door and turned the deadbolt, she knew he was still standing a foot from her door.  She could hear his breathing and rather than feeling unnerved, she felt connected.  Nothing about this quiet man made her feel uneasy and that was the feeling that scared her the most.

She poured a Scotch and stripped out of her rain-soaked clothes.  The acrid stench of decomposition was evident in her room as well but the smell dissipated slightly with a few more sips of whiskey.  She cranked the water in the shower and listened as the pipes vehemently argued with having to work.  The hot beads of water from the shower stung her skin but she welcomed the pain.

Skin flushed red from the hot water and cheeks blazing from a half bottle of whiskey, she teetered across the floor and poured herself into bed.  The duvet felt like silk against her bare skin and the pillow was perfectly plump but, as much as she tried to fall into a deep sleep, she could not find a comfortable position on the bed.  She tossed and turned and what she hoped would be a fitful rest was a combination of half hour naps.   She awoke in the morning, achy and wearied.

Determined to find the cause of her lack of sleep she tore the duvet from the bed, letting her hand roam the top of the mattress to detect any imperfections.  Nothing was out of the ordinary.  She grasped the handles on the side of the mattress and lifted it from the box spring.  The orb was not as round as it should have been but that was from the pressure of the mattress.  The noticeably cloudy film and dilated pupil stared into nothingness as the human eyeball lay lifeless in front of her.

She moved across the room and took a long swill of the single malt Scotch directly from the bottle.  The murky eyeball seemed to follow her as she crossed the room again to get dressed.  Whiskey was not her first choice for breakfast but, given the circumstance, she didn’t care.  She packed her bag, tucked the Glock into the back of her jeans and collected the human remains that thwarted her slumber.

He was in the office when she arrived, coffee in hand and wearing the same warming smile he had worn the previous evening.  She was not surprised that his first question was to inquire as to how she slept.  She gently placed the slightly misshapen ocular sphere on the desk and simply tilted her head, lifted her eyebrows and waited for his reaction.  His smile never wavered.

He spoke first, “It’s almost perfect, isn’t it?”

His words hung in the air as he eagerly anticipated her response.  The ticking of the incessant second-hand on the clock seemed to echo in the tiny room and his brain felt like it would explode.

Her response was succinct, “Show me more.”

He knew it would be her. From the moment the winds changed and the rain foreshadowed the previous night, he knew it would be her.  The Prince of Darkness had finally found his Princess.

Got Milk?

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For the greater part of my life I have lived in a small town.  I branched out into the bustling metropolis for a few years to attend college but the pull of our tight-knit community was too strong to ignore and I came home.  Much to the chagrin of my city dwelling friends, I have never regretted that decision.

There is something comforting about seeing the same people on a day-to-day basis.  It may feel a little too close for comfort at times when they know more about your life than you do but it has become the safety blanket of my existence.  The community that began as a collection of strangers rapidly transformed into an extended family and I take solace in the fact that I could knock on any door and receive the same warm welcome from any one of them.

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The milk of human kindness flows more freely in a small town – at least that has been my experience.  And in the summer of 2013 that lesson was inked into my skin in colors more vivid than any tattoo.   My mother had a slight episode while on her scooter as she was making her way home from her shopping excursion.  Her dog had broken free from her collar and, in the chaos that ensued, my mother had toppled from her scooter and lay on her back on the pavement.  As fate would have it I was driving through town just as the mishap occurred and I was able to pull over and help.

In the time it took for me to pull over, a handful of people were already either assisting my mother or madly looking for the frenzied dog that was dodging parked cars and moving vehicles.  It was controlled chaos but in the end my mom was fine and the dog was recovered without incident.

There is an overwhelmingly consolatory feeling knowing that if I had not been there my mother would have been just as vigilantly attended to and things would have still ended well.  Knowing that the milk of human kindness flows freely through the veins of my community makes me glad that I made the decision to carve my life into the growing trunk of the tree in this rural atmosphere.

There may be moments of my life that I will look back on with regret but choosing to live my life in this town and the community of people I share it with is not one of them.

My only wish, especially now, is that the kindness we experience here could be broadcast on a much grander level.  Whatever happens in this world, we must not let the anger and hatred of the few be able to quell the kindness that resides in the many.   Fight hate with love and keep your hearts open.  The more we hate, the more they win.

 

The things that go quiet in the night

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The time on the clock read 2:29 am.  The waning moon shared its luminescence with the corner of my bedroom and my eyes blinked repeatedly with the harsh difference between the blackness behind my eyelids and the moonlight permeating my bedroom.

love the moon

The sound that woke me was shrill and I was trying to convince myself it had followed me from a nightmare.  My dog’s uneasiness confirmed the polar opposite of that theory and together we looked out the bedroom window to discern where the awful noise was coming from.

My initial thought was that a baby raccoon was lost and crying out for its mother but as the cry continued it became much more visceral and intense.  My tension escalated with the suffering sounds of nature.  There was nowhere I could free myself from the wretched sounds of terror that animal was shrieking.  I now know how poor Clarice Starling felt in The Silence of Lambs.  Somewhere deep inside you want the shrill cries to stop but you also realize the outcome of the slaughter when the night regains its stillness.

The cry did lose its intensity and that sound of terror became more and more staggered until it was replaced by the silence of the night.  It took me a long time to get back to sleep.  Between my over-active imagination and my staunch passion for Criminal Mind’s crime scene photos, I’m sure I had created over 200 plausible crime scenes by the time I finally nodded off.

I can only hope whatever predator was outside has moved on to a new hunting ground.  And I sincerely wish we will not have to, ever again, listen to the unfortunate nocturnal requiem of the untimely death of wildlife that once felt safe to roam through our woods.