Six Bullets (Part 2)

Ulysses’ canteen ran dry yesterday at noon.  Both he and his horse had suffered ever since.  Finding the town was a Godsend.  Another day and he would have had to give up tracking Blane.  But even from a mile away, Ulysses could see the wooden shells and dust that made more of an outpost than real city.

A half hour later, the bounty hunter drug into the city as the sun began its fall into the western horizon.  Its decent offered only the slightest relief.  What really refreshed Ulysses’ spirit was the idea of a bath and a meal.

Ulysses brought his horse to a halt in front of a small saloon.  His horse went straight to the shallow trough as the older man pulled his heavy boots up the steps.  It wasn’t cool inside but it was out of the sun.  Ulysses pulled out a silver quarter and set it on the bar.

“Water.  As cool and clean as I can get it.”

The barkeep offered him a glass as well as a pitcher.

A moment later, the door opened.  Only a few even bothered to look up as Blane stepped into the tavern.  He had his revolver holstered and set so he could draw it quickly.

Ulysses took in the water as if he was discovering it for the first time.  He didn’t care that he stunk of sweat and the filth that clings to the human body.  All that mattered was the relief he felt with each swallow.

Then he looked into the filmy mirror set along the wall behind the bottles of whisky.  Blane was almost on top of him!  Ulysses spun and had his gun out instantly.  Two shots were fired in quick succession.  Both bullets stuck Blane in the chest just below the left shoulder.  They were fatal shots for a normal man.

Patrons jumped up; the backs of the chairs hitting the floor.  Shouts and curses came from most.  A few drew weapons but weren’t fired.  No one recognized either man.

“You’re a bit slow Ulysses!”  Blane’s fingers were made from shifting sand.  He bought them up to new holes in his leather vest.  Then he reached into the smoking holes and pulled out both bullets.  “I believe these are yours.”

Ulysses knew he was in trouble.  No one in the room was going to help him.  They were all dumbstruck by the instant change in the other man.  Many had their backs to the walls.

With his free hand, Ulysses grabbed the glass of water he had been drinking.  At the same time, he raised his revolver and aimed for the oil hat on Blane’s head. 

The outlaw saw the look in Ulysses’ eyes.  “No you don’t.”  He brought his free hand up and over his hat.  A bullet tore through one side.  Blane ducked and anther bullet grazed the sand that made up the side of his face.

The water came next.  The glass broke as it hit Blane in the chest and water went down his shirt, and pants.”

Anther bullet hit Blane in his right leg.  Someone else was trying to end the fight before someone was killed.  It was a disturbance the bandit didn’t need.

The outlaw fired a shot into the mirror just past Ulysses head.  It shattered bringing everyone to silence.  “Get out!  All of you get out!  This man’s hide is mine and I’ll take yours too if you’re still in here once I loose my patience!”

No one tarried.  Even the barkeep followed the crowd as they tried to exit as fast as they could.  Blane turned back to Ulysses and had the revolver shot out his hand. 

Blane reacted with amusement.  “Are we done now?” 

Blane reached down to picked up his gun and Ulysses fired again.  This time succeeding in taking the other man’s hat off.

Ulysses grabbed the entire water pitcher and tossed it at Blane.  The outlaw sidestepped the tin container.  It hit the floor with a thud and clatter sending water all over the floor.
“Wow, you’re fast!”  Blane laughed as he straightened.  “Frankly, I’d have to say you’re the best shot and fastest draw I’ve ever seen!  I tell you what.  I’ll go ahead and give you that open shot you wanted.”

The thief’s body shimmered a moment and the sand was replaced by flesh.  “There, now it’s fair.”

Ulysses kept his revolver pointed at Blane.  “I’m surprised you’ve given up.  You were winning you know.”

“Friend, I already have won.”  He pointed to the bounty hunters gun.  “That revolver you’ve got there only holds six bullets and do you know how many you’ve rattled off?”

Ulysses face went blank for a moment and set his gun on the counter.  He took off his hat with both hands and held it over his heart.  His gray head hung low.

“Like I was saying, let’s finish this.”  Blane started bringing his gun up.  “I’ve still got work to do here in this town.” 

A final shot was fired.  This one found its resting place right in Blane’s chest.  Without another breath the outlaw fell to the floor.

The old bounty hunter moved the hat held with a single hand.  His other hand held the small gun he had pulled from his vest.

“You know Blane, real cowboys carry more than one gun.”

Six Bullets (Part 1)

Blane rode into the Nevada outpost of Lost Well.  He was peering through the dust and grim for any sign of money.  The sun was up and the few townspeople had their eyes shielded under wide brims or bonnets.  The hard packed dirt that passed for main street wasn’t crowded but there were enough folks around to notice the arrival of someone they didn’t recognize. 

The oil treated cowboy hat sat tight around his head just like it always did.  It protected his messy, blonde hair from moisture of any sort.  Blane wasn’t like a normal bandit.  He had a magic that was granted by an old Navaho priest. 

“Or was it Apache?” Blane thought then shrugged.  “I never get that mess straight.  Of course, the important thing is that it worked.”

For six quarts of scotch and the finest rifle he owned, the priest offered Blane power to outlast the sun.  No longer did the cowboy need water to survive.  At will, he could change his very flesh to sand and back. 

It was a wonderful gift.  Bullets from bank guards and deputies ripped through his clothes and sank into his sandy torso.  Fire, bayonets, and even kitchen knives had been used to try to stop him but Blane laughed it all off.  He could just waltz in, make a large withdrawal, and walk out of town with no one able to stop him.

Many tried.  Blane had shot almost twenty men who were too heroic for their own good.  He never left his sandy state until he was sure those who followed him had given up or been sent to the grave.

The only problem was water and his hair.  Since his hair wasn’t a living part of his flesh, it stayed as it was whenever he shifted the rest of his body to sand.  If his hair was soaked by anything with water, he would revert to his normal body. 

“So no robbing banks in the rain.  At least without my hat.”  Blane mumbled his weary horse.  “It’s all fine.  I just stay where water is worth as much as gold.”

The bandit was wanted in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.  Now it was time to build his reputation here in Nevada. 

That is, once he got rid of a bounty hunter by the name of Ulysses.  The other man had followed Blane for weeks but never confronted him.  When rains came, Blane traveled a bit faster to out pace his pursuer even though his oiled hat usually kept him dry.  The rest of the time Blane would only notice Ulysses when there was a valley between them.

Now that he was in another town, Blane decided to pick out this troublesome burr before gathering any new ones.  “Let’s see, I can shoot him the moment he meanders into this town or I can wait until the mutt makes his own move.”

Blane lead his horse over to a trough to allow it have a good drink. 

“Well, there’s the courthouse.  I’ve seen the bank and the supply store.  I’m guessing there isn’t much else around here worth taking.  These are pretty lean pickings.  Perhaps I’ll just shoot that bounty hunter companion of mine then move on.  I think Carson City is only a few days ride west.”

Blane took his horse over to a hitching post.  Ulysses would have to come through here.  There was nothing else around and his supplies must be running low.  Blane waited three hours before Ulysses’ small silhouette appeared like a mirage on the horizon.

“Ha!”  Blane clapped his revolver shut.  “Here comes the old boy now!”

Interview with WAYS

Miss Nomer: “Good day and welcome to another old-edge, sharp-school investigative interrogation.  I’m Miss Nomer an exclusive correspondent to  No one else brings the life of F list celebrities, pan flashes, and wanna bes with such precision.

Today, my guests are three of the headliners for the kid friendly freak show known as WAYS, which stands for Wow, Are You Stupid.  My guest names are Joe Yidden, Daniel Murphy, and Hybib Azerbij.     

Hi guys.  Why don’t you begin by telling us what unique talent you have that allows you to perform with such a popular group?”

(All three laugh nervously) Joe:  “Ok, I guess I’ll get started.  I still can’t tell my left from my right.  It’s true.  People give me directions all the time and I just have to nod like a broke in bobblehead.”

Daniel:  “Yea, I’m forty-three and a standard analogue clock still doesn’t make any sense.  I don’t know why we have to cut the day into twenty-four hours then put only twelve on a clock!  And what’s this deal with measuring a day with seconds, minutes, and hours at the same time?!  Give me a break, right?!”

Hybib:  “Ok, my turn?  Ok, and mine is the freakiest of them all.  I still don’t know my multiplication tables.”  (Nods then drops his head.)  “Yes, it’s very true.” 

Miss Nomer:  “Great, well then what types of groups do you perform for?”

Daniel:  “We mostly perform for schools and places like that.  Schools with a lot of low achievers enjoy us a lot.  You know, seeing freaks like the three of us really boosts their self-esteem which is a school’s most important job.”

Hybib:  “Yes, and sometimes we really touch a kid who is struggling with the same ridiculous handicaps we do.  We recently told an ugly seventh grade kid to start his own performance group because right now each of us is pulling in almost twenty thousand a year.”  (Grunts of approval from Daniel and Joe.  Awkward high fives.)

Miss Nomer:  “Hybib, you seem very comfortable with the fact that you’re an imbecile.  Why?”

Hybib: “It’s a matter of principle.  Ok, I learned to add and loved it.  It was dependable and steady.  So when my teacher tells me about something that’s fast and easy it just felt dirty to me.  Yes, I decided not to cheat on my first love.”

Joe: “Liar, when you were called to the front to recite them you cracked like a wet noodle.  I’ll prove it.  What’s 2 *2?”

Hybib:  “4!”

Daniel:  “Joe, you moron!  That’s one’s the same as addition!  He knows that one!”

Miss Nomar:  “That’s ok guys, I believe you.  Let’s move on to you Joe.  Left and right?  What’s the big deal?”

Joe:  “It’s no simple matter.  I mean you look at both hands and what’s different?  Let’s see, four fingers, a thumb, and even matching warts!”

Miss Nomar:  “So why don’t you just tie a ribbon to your right hand or wear a ring?”

Daniel:  “He keeps forgetting what the ring represents!  You should see him staring at it and mumbling to himself!”  (Changes tone to mock Joe)  “Uh, I just can’t seem to remember, uh.”

Joe:  (Obviously upset)  “Well, either one makes a pretty good fist!”

Miss Nomar:  “Easy guys!  It’s ok!  Joe is there anything you wanted to add?”

Joe:  “I just wanted to say it ain’t easy.  I’ve taken girls to swank places for a night of dancing and once the Hokey Pokey comes on, well, I’m screwed.  Date over!”

Miss Nomar:  “That’s ok Joe.  You really shouldn’t be procreating anyway.”  (Hybib and Daniel nod in agreement.)  “So Daniel, analogue clocks huh?”

Daniel:  “Have you seen a digital clock?  The time is right there for everyone to easily read!  If it’s twelve twenty-two, then that’s what it says! 

I really believe knowing the correct time is a civil right protected by the Constitution.  Having to read some silly dial is like having a toll to cross a road or a valid ID to vote.  These are fetters that create an excessive burden on stupid folks like me!  I’m sick of loosing face and having my hands tied!”

(Joe, Hybib, and Miss Nomar snicker)

Daniel:  “Oh, you think that’s funny how about if I go Roman Numeral on you?”

(Daniel strikes Hybib.  Joe throws the wrong fist and knocks Miss Nomar’s tape recorder off the table ending the interview.)  

A Roach’s Tail

Hard-bitten by winter’s blast and summer’s treacherous heat, Dakota Territory continues in its unassuming way.  The rest of the country may ignore the northern prairie but Dakota understands that “no news is good news.”  In fact, this is the strange part of this humble territory’s beauty.

And one other thing, there are no roaches in Dakota.  (Note to North Dakota Tourism Commission:  You really weren’t dealt much so play with the cards you’ve got.  This roach thing really has legs…I mean wings…no that’s not right.)

The first time I ever encountered a roach was my sophomore year in high school.  You read that correctly, I had never crossed paths with those six-legged creatures until I was fifteen living at a boarding school.   

The school conscripted its students to take care of all the menial tasks.  Cleaning the classrooms, washing dirty pots, and hauling away the garbage was all done by the student body.  When a truck of food arrived, the resident administrator would roam the boy’s dorm looking for those without a book in their hands.

A team of able-bodied boys was lined up outside the kitchen.  I was among them just hoping to get the job over with so I could resume the video game I was playing on Leon’s computer. 

Leon tapped my shoulder.  “Now look, it’s still my turn when we get back.”

“I know Leon.”

“Well don’t forget because I’ve been playing for two hours and I don’t want to loose my work.”

“It’s not work Leon.  I believe the word you’re looking for is stupid-game-hogger.”

The truck was filled with sacks of shredded potatoes and other prepackaged produce.  The cook, a woman named Mrs. Patterson, stood just inside the door pointing and directing with all the flare of Patton.  With each armful, the other boys and I were closer to getting everything into the walk-in cooler.

“Hey, look at this!”  The voice was Sam’s and it came from inside the cooler.  “Someone get me something to put this on.”

Someone found a brick and took it into the cooler with all the other boys in tow.

“What did you find?”

Sam marched out of the cooler with a frosted roach.  It was only an inch and a half long with ice lacing its body.  The boys crowded around to get a good look.  The frozen roach was lifted like a prized catch and heralded like a prize-winning trophy. 

That is, until Mrs. Patterson caught wind of our discovery.  “What are you doing with that disgusting thing?  Here, throw it away!”

I was scarred by the experience.  I made a steel vow right there that I would never live in a land were such vile insects existed.  My vow has been thrown away but I still cling to my initial reaction to a roach…cringe, squeal like a girl, and back away. 

Oatmeal and Sausages (3)

The trailer the woman lived in was ancient and largely unlit.  Dust played in the few beams of sunlight that pushed their way through the battered blinds.  The furniture was as out of date as the family pictures that crowed every surface.  A worn TV tray sat between Roger and Gran Boykin.  

The old woman plopped her cards onto the tray and pointed a skeletal finger in Roger’s direction.  Her voice had the pitch of an angry crow.  “You lose again Oatmeal.  Boy, if you can’t play a decent game of cards, what in the world can you do?  Huh?”
Roger didn’t care for their card games but they were usually better than life at home.  He pulled up his worn pair of blue jeans and sat back into one of the musty corduroy chairs.  He looked at the clock but it never displayed the right time.  The decreasing sunlight meant it was probably time to go.

“Oatmeal, you listen to me.”  Every time she spoke, Gran Boykin’s teeth would move unnaturally.  It was no wonder.  She used her late husband’s dentures.

Roger leaned forward.  “There it is!  Gran Boykin, you know I don’t like that name.  I’m not boring!  I’m interesting just not in ways the podunks around here can understand.”

“You ain’t proper kin and need to take what God’s given to us to give to you and that name is one of them.  Besides, it’s funny.  You don’t hear half of my grandkids complain when their called Bubba do you?”

“Are we finished playing here?”

Gran tried to sit up and failed.  “Look see, before I forget and if I die, I want you to take care of my plants.  I’ve always had a green thumb and I just won’t be able to stand leaving this earth unless my house plants are taken care of.” 
Roger groaned and closed his eyes.  “Gran, plants are not family heirlooms.  And you should quit watering them!  Their fake!  They were replaced with plastic look-a-likes years ago.”

Something whacked Roger in the face.  He had forgotten she was armed.  The old woman had hit him with the disgusting, old fly swatter that she never kept far from her. 

“Don’t roll your eyes at me Oatmeal.  A little watering makes even plastic look a little better.” 

Roger stood up and adjusted his pants again.  He had been forced to adjust them all day and was becoming frustrated.  Everything was second hand for him.  He used his free hand to reach for his sweatshirt.
“Wait, wait.”  Gran Boykin’s demeanor softened once she sensed Roger was ready to leave.  She left her chair and started to shuffle into the nearby kitchen. “Don’t be going not having a can of piggy wee-wees.”

This time Roger really did roll his eyes.  “Gran, look, those things are called Vienna sausages.  When you call them piggy wee-wees you make is sound like they are…owww.”   Lightning quick, she had turned and hit him with the fly swatter again.

“You keep that filthy mind to your own self!”  She squinted at him, and finished with, “TV is doing that to you doesn’t it?   Now c’mon.”
When they reached the kitchen, they turned toward different locations.  The old crow’s white top meandered to the cabinets.  Roger made a line to the porch door.

“Look Gran Boykin, I need to keep moving.  Thanks for the card game and everything.  I’ll come by tomorrow if I feel like life can’t get any worse.”  She never caught the implied meaning and Kiser never felt guilty saying it.
Roger closed the screen door and took in a lungful of clean air.  He continued purging his lungs until he reached the end of the gravel driveway.  It blended almost seamlessly with the gravel road that stretched in both directions.  The sun had started throwing red hues, as its path to the western horizon was not far from completion.  It was late December and the atmosphere had turned chilly, which always coincided with dormant swaths of brown in the fields. 

He had a good walk home before it became dark.  All in all, it was a perfect opportunity for some quiet thought.


The doorbell rang but Skechenko did not move to answer it.  A few seconds later, Tim could hear the impatient sound of shaken keys.  Bolts gave way with a bit too much force then the door swung open to admit a woman of striking girth.  She wore loose fitting nursing scrubs and carried a large duffel bag.  Her hair was shoulder length and feathered back in the style of women who know their sex appeal is gone.

She gave both men a bland uninterested stare.  “Morning Mr. Skechenko.  Should I fix your usual before I get started cleaning the kitchen and bathroom?”

Skechenko had yet turn and face her.  “Yes Lena, that will be fine.  And fix a helping for this young man.  It looks like he will be staying for a while.”

“Ok, whatever.”  She tossed her bag onto a stack of newspapers and marched into the kitchen.  The sounds of pots clanging together was followed by, “Say, do you want that with guinea pig or without?”

“Woman!  I’m sure there’s still room for that big rear of yours back in Eastern Europe!  No doubt the crater from your last visit hasn’t been filled yet!”   The old man turned and shook his fist in the kitchen’s direction.  “You know full well that is prairie dog meat!  And you know how I like it!”

Tim recaptured Skechenko’s attention.  “Um, I think you were talking about Roger Kiser’s upbringing.”
“Are we still talking about him?!”  Skechenko covered his eyes with mumbled something unintelligible.  “Very well, Kiser dwelt in the delta region of the Mississippi River, just a few miles east of Lexa, Arkansas.  The view from his bedroom window was a landscape filled with ramshackle mobile homes, which by this point were mobile in name only, tin covered tobacco sheds, and ivy covered silos.  The northern horizon was usually obscured by the dust from a busy dirt road that separated his family’s farm from the usually lush fields of cotton and marijuana.“

Tim glanced over to make sure his tape recorder was still working.   “Sir, you have an incredible knack for detail.  How do you know all this?”

The old man just shrugged his shoulders.  “Well son, all you need are postcards and stereotypes and you can be an expert on any geographic location.  You should also know that everything I’m about to tell you is how it was relayed to me.  The story is one of extremes but Kiser would have it no other way.”

“So how much of this is going to be accurate?”
Skechenko shrugged again.  “There’s no real way of knowing.  But let me reiterate that when his family called him Oatmeal, they weren’t that far off.  He’s a guy who has an average build spread across the mean height for males of his age.  Dominant genes dictated his hair and eye color, and his choice of clothing was directed toward jeans, plaids, and solid, subdued earth tones. It’s a trend that he stubbornly continues regardless of the whims of fashion.
You see son, he didn’t want anything to do with the chaos everyone around here associates with him.   Roger viewed human beings as bumper cars in a rink that was too small.  They’re always forcefully bumping into each other, changing each other’s direction, and causing whiplash.”

Skechenko paused to let Tim finish his mad scribbling.  “So, uh, how did Roger Kilwein leave Arkansas and arrive in North Dakota?”

The old man delayed to gather his thoughts.  “Fine, he was walking home…”

Less is More

On the way to work, I witnessed two joes running along the highway.  They were side stepping trash and suffering the stares of every bored commuter on the road.  They were light years from anything in either direction.

I know I sound like a comedian whose run out of material here but…

What practical purpose does being able to run twenty-six straight miles have?  When was the last time you asked directions to the bathroom and they replied, “Uh, yea, take a right down the hall, go about twenty-six miles, and it’s the first door on your right.” 

I understand the health benefits of staying in shape.  But where do the benifits begin to lessen?  You could still live well into your ninties by running three miles four times a week.  (Heck, I know folks who grew old on beef fat and cigeretts and still won’t die.)

When you push your body’s limits, you grow stronger but you also risk injury.  And while recovering, you must endure a precipitous fall from the lofty performance heights you’ve worked so hard to achieve.  I know this from experience.

Training and conditioning are valuable but there isn’t a good reason to press the limits of the human body when you can maintain your health with as little as a good nightly walk.  Much of the same is true for light weight training, which keeps bones and tissues strong.  If it is done consistently. 

Since this is starting to sound like a normal blog, here’s a bonus story…

My calves are freakishly large.  Think softballs covered with skin and hair. 

They come up so often in conversations that I began making up stories about them.  I would drop phrases like, “Radioacive accident” and “Bio-mechanical advancements.” 

Then I began telling people they were silicone implants.  I point to a permanent knot in my right calf that sticks out a bit.

“Yea, that’s the nozzle where the doctors injected the silicone.  They cost me about four thousand dollars total but it was worth it.  I just cannot get them tatooed or I risk springing a leak.  You know what I mean.”

When delivered with a with a straight face, my story usually sticks at least for a few seconds.

Gender is Easy

 One of my favorite lines is, “Gender is easy.”  And yet, a group of confused males have adapted a style of dress and actions that are so deviant from the male norm that they have been christened with their own name, the metrosexual. 

In response, we have scientifically engineered a brief questionnaire.  This concise, self-examination will help one assign a “male index.”  You begin with 10 points.

1) You spend more than 5 minutes doing your hair.  (-2)

2) You spend less than 1 minute on you hair.  (+1)

3) You have a beard. (+1)

4) You pluck your back hair.  (+1)

5) You shave your chest hair. (-3)

6) You cut your own hair.  (+2)

7) You wear more than 2 rings.  (-3)

8)You wear hoop earrings.  (-3)

9) You’re proud of your farmer’s tan. (+1)

10) You cannot tie a tie. (-2)

11) You have an ugly T-shirt with pit stains. (+2)

12) You have an ugly T-shirt with pit stains that you wife is begging you to throw away and you refuse.  (+3)

13) You own a jock strap. (+1)

14) You change your own car’s oil (+3)

15) You cannot drive a manual transmission. (-2)

16) You have given pictures of yourself to other guys as gifts. (-6)

17) You don’t have a problem reading tabloid magazines in public. (-2)

18) Your primary vehicle is a mini-van.  (-1)

19) You have a purebred and proud of it.  (+1)

20) You have a mutt and are proud of it.  (+3)

21) You know the difference between a doll and an “action figure.”  (+2)

22) You, your wife, and your mom make decisions together. (-3)

23) You’ve had athlete’s foot, jock itch, or some other fungus problem. (+2)

24) You still have athlete’s foot, jock itch, or some other fungus problem.  (-1)

25) You plug the toilet about once a month. (+1)

26) Cold pizza for breakfast is no problem.  (+2)

27) You are a vegetarian. (-2) 

28) You’re a veteran of some armed conflict.  (+4)

29) You farm or ranch for a living.  (+5)

30) You enjoy a game of chess anytime. (+2)

31) You enjoy a game of bunco anytime.  (-3)

32) You don’t know what bunco is.  (+2)

33) You work out on free weights. (+2)

34) You clean up your own messes and expect hanky-panky. (+0)

35) You do a few extra chores and expect hanky-panky.  (+1)

36) You reach for candles and soft music and expect hanky-panky.  (+2)

37) You pass a group of ladies and you know they are dicussing you.  (+2)

38) You pass a group of ladies and you think they are discussing your shirt. (-1)

39) You cross you legs when you sit. (-1)

40) You cannot leave the house without cologne.  (-1)

 Less than 20 = You are obviously a woman and took the test just to mess around.  Find the nearest guy and tell him you appreciate the difference.  

30 to 40= We didn’t want to be the ones to tell you this but…your neighbor is confused and he/she is talking about you.  Hold a girl’s hand and walk by his/her picture window sometime.

40 to 50= You are safely in range.  Although we don’t recommend it, go ahead and wear that pink polo shirt your wife or girlfriend bought for you.

50 or More = You could converse in the locker room with a towel draped over your head instead of around your waist.  That’s masculinity!

Adult Education

I’m sitting across the table from four complete strangers.  They are wearing oxford blue button up shirts and black veils.  Obscured by the veils are the blaze of crimson eyes.  The strangers are a group of Satan’s henchmen and I’m playing Trivial Race against them for the fate of my very soul. 

One of them hands me a parchment.  It’s warm and singed on all sides.  The elegant script glows red having an alarming resemblance to fresh blood.  Listed are the categories for the game…
Orange- Things Competent People All Know  

Blue – History (Pre 1993)

Yellow – Rules For Crossing The Street 

Green – Continent, Country, or County?

Brown – The Constitution says…

White – Adding Fractions (Timed)

I am allowed to pick three people for my team from the young people I work with at the Parks and Recreation Department.  I consider the young minds who will help determine my fate.  In a slow deliberate motion, I put my head on the ebony table.

Pointing to my neck, I say, “So, are you minions of evil using a guillotine or a scythe these days.  Hey, could you put my soul between the guy who came up with photo enforced traffic tickets and the bozo who developed low-flow toilets?  If eternity is as long as they say it is, I’ll need all that time to complain.  Thanks.”

And yet, my dismissive attitude for today’s generation may be totally unfounded!  Listen to this…

During a long day at the pool, a couple of guards began discussing state laws banning people from using their cell phones while driving.  They understood that driving while involved in an intense conversation splits one’s attention.  Sam had even heard of a study that equated cell phone usage with driving intoxicated. 

It didn’t matter.  They all panned the law.

“It’s a horrible law.”  I agreed.  “Mainly because I know that drivers who can’t have their ears to a phone will have their eyes on a cell phone screen texting all their friends.  I don’t know about you but I’d rather have their eyes on the road.”

All three guards replied like members of the same chorus.  “But I can text without looking!”

I didn’t believe them.  “Ok, everyone have their cell phones handy?”  (Wasted pause)  “Of course you do.  Alright, without looking type in, ‘Mr. T is going to break my legs after work.”
A few moments of spastic thumbs and all had completed their assignment.  With only one typo, all three had typed in exactly what I had dictated!  I was shocked.

“Does everyone have this ability?”

“Everyone with a cell phone.  Geesh, Mr. T!  Don’t you know anything?”

Little Black Book

“Little black books are a little cliché.  I’m sure most men understand that the number of women available to them at any given time is fairly limited.  Perhaps a little black matchbook would be more appropriate.

That doesn’t mean that there’s no use for those faux leather notebooks!  I have kept one for some time even now that I’m married.  The difference is what’s between the covers.  I keep a few notes on successful tactics in love’s game.

Let’s flip through the pages and see if there’s anything I can offer to my fellow males…”

Matt opens his jumbo black binder filled with loose-leaf pages.  Does and don’ts crowd each page all written in indelible ink.  He looks at a few sticky notes tacked into each side of the binder and nods with approval.

“Oh, yea.”  He mumbles to himself.  “That one worked like a charm.”

Matt coughs and remembers that is listening. “Ok, here are a few things that men can do…”

Romantip #1- Flowers are a must buy at least four times a year.  It’s like an oil change, if you can’t remember the last time you did it then you’re probably way past due.  But don’t just leave it at flowers!  You can crank it up another notch by tagging each one with a trait she has that you appreciate.

If you can’t think of any, I do have suggestions.  Is your wife beautiful, thrifty, intelligent, capable, stylish, funny, a great mother, or amorous?  If not, she will be after this.

Romantip #2- Women want to know exactly how you feel about them.  When you are filling out a card, DON’T tell her only how great you think she is.  It’s lame and ambiguous!  Add a little creative thinking by making a dynamic comparison.

Try a few of mine…

…a fine bottle of wine (others may be younger, but she becomes more valuable with age, more intoxicating, and more highly prized.)

…a lock and combination ( only she can open your soul with exacting precision and you were made completely for each other.)

…a fine tapestry  (women like the sound of the word tapestry anyway, or is it me?  Mention each memory together is like another colorful thread weaving a tapestry of each other’s life together.)

Romantip #3- Draw her a bubble bath THEN stick around with a large cup to pour water over her shoulders.  You’ll find warm water relaxes the body and conversation.  It’s not a day at the spa but she may appreciate your time and thoughtfulness more.

Matt closes his black binder.  “Ok, that’s enough.  I’m guessing you’ll have her boasting to the other ladies in no time with that.”

Chaos Reconsidered

I have a perverse enjoyment.  It’s one I can’t seem to shake regardless of how hard I try.  There is no patch, gum, or therapy group that can help.  I know I should be disgusted by it but I’m not.

My secret kick is CHAOS in small doses. 

I enjoy standing aside while carefully laid plans unravel like a homemade afghan.  When students rush the hallway to witness a fight, I understand.

I giggle and clap my hands watching crazed shoppers burst through mall doors.  Grown women fighting over a Barf-On-Me-Sicko toy makes me laugh out loud!  As long as I’m watching at home from the comfort of a plush recliner.

When unexpected wave of winter weather throws school schedules into spasms, I smile.  A grin escapes my control whenever a faculty meeting turns into a great debate on issues that cannot be controlled.  I’m a kid at a puppet show!

Of course, three very specific rules must be in play.  One, I must have no ability to repair the situation.  If there is something I can do, my glee is replaced with guilt.  Secondly and this is important, it can’t be my fault.  My clapping hands must be clean.  And finally, the negative results cannot negatively effect my own situation in any way.

Strangely enough, I can’t stand the reality programming that has an ugly headlock on all 5000 television channels.  Each show seems so staged and contrived that it’s a little like Chaos-in-a-Can.  And watching the daytime freak (I mean talk) shows is exactly like watching professional wrestling in place of real sports.

Nope, I like confusion genuine and fresh squeezed but not too tart.

For instance…

Two friends and I had just driven up to a popular fast food restaurant.  We exited the car and were about to step away from our vehicles when David grabbed my arm.  “Wait, look over there.  Boy she is really going at him!”

Chris and I followed David’s eyes toward a brand new pickup where a female in the restaurant’s uniform was berating the young man.  He was sitting red faced in the driver’s seat. 

I listened for a bit.  Gathering her intent wasn’t hard.  The girl was yelling almost at the top of her lungs.  Apparently, she was upset the guy had ventured out and purchased a new pickup on his own without her knowledge.

“It’s a rookie mistake.”  I smugly told myself.  “If they’re married, there’s no way he should have done that without her knowing.  Of course, most guys make it a large television.  This guy is setting a new standard for bone headedness.  But wow, she is really tearing him a new one.”

Chris spoke up.  “C’mon, I don’t want to watch this.  I’m hungry and it isn’t for dinner theater.”

“Hold on.”  David waved him off.  “I want to know how many fireworks are in this package.”

I did too, although I wanted to be discrete about it.  David was staring at the drama like it was Mount Rushmore. 

We didn’t have to wait long before the embarrassed male had absorbed his fill of scolding.  He took his frustration out by slamming the shifter into reverse then hitting the accelerator.  The young man would have been wise to also invest a little angst into his review mirror.  He smashed into a full-size sedan packed to the gills with old women.

The girl crumpled to the asphalt right where she had stood.

I let out a deep breath.  “Man, that’s terrible.  I went from a chaos high to hangover just like that.  Maybe we shouldn’t have watched after all.  What a bummer.”

“There,” Chris interjected.  “Can I go in and get my number one now?”