Long time, no write! Another birthday and road trip plans…

IMG_1989.jpg
Cheers! Celebrating turning another year older and wiser (?)

I realize it’s been a long time since I wrote and posted anything—April 25th to be exact—and I’m guilty of preferring early-morning reading over writing as of late. I know that doesn’t help with finishing the Work-in-Progress, but there just hasn’t been that drive or sense of urgency to regain that much-needed discipline. Be that as it may, I have been busy with other things as well.

We’ve been piling up the miles since spring, with trips to Omaha, Nebraska, Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and Canton, Ohio. In Wisconsin and Ohio we successfully indulged in genealogy research in libraries and historical societies and visited some obscure cemeteries to locate and say hello to some ancestors.

Plus, June is the month when I turn another year older on the 11th. Happy to say that I had a wonderful and relaxing time quietly “celebrating” that annual occurrence last weekend at my sister and brother-in-law’s home in Marblehead, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. My mom even had a cherry pie—my favorite! And it seemed altogether appropriate to spend my birthday with her. Happy to report that she’s doing quite well for an 88-year-old lady.

As for those highway miles, we’re just getting warmed up! In mid-September, we’re going to “head out on the highway” (Route 66, that is!) from home here in Illinois and drive to the other end of the Mother Road that is Santa Monica, California. We’re allowing over two weeks for the drive that has been on my “wish list” for a long, long time. The return trip will find us skirting up to Colorado for a few days and then on to Omaha once again for the annual Walk for the Cure cancer walk in early October.

But, before all of that, we’re going on an Alaska cruise in August. Flying from O’Hare, we’ll head to Vancouver for a two-day/night stay before boarding the MS Noordam that will take us through the Inside Passage, Ketchican, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and on to the Denali National Park via rail. Then we’ll fly back home from Anchorage. This will, no doubt, be a memorable adventure for the ages. As the summer begins to roll along, I’m getting thoroughly excited about what lies ahead.

To say the very least, I certainly won’t be stumped for things to write about as this summer and fall get going. My plan is to thoroughly enjoy every minute of our trips and capture as many wonderful memories as possible and to share as many as I possibly can. Perhaps there will even be further inspiration for getting back to serious writing to complete that obstinate Work-in-Progress!

 

Off to that make-believe world…

It’s early morning—still dark out. Up early, coffee made, and the need to write coursing its way through me. Music from Internet Radio’s Cinemix plays softy in my ear buds, providing the background soundtrack to my writing efforts this morning.

I’ve been up since shortly after five. I checked the iPhone for any overnight e-mail or texts (not much to talk about there) and a quick scan of Facebook. Frightening just how greater the divide in this country is becoming!

Even so, I will try to shut all of that out while, at the same time, immersing myself in a world of fiction, where characters act and talk and think, hoping to move my story along to a logical and good conclusion.

The beauty of writing make-believe stuff is all about control. We control everything that happens in that world, and, ultimately, the outcome and the actions leading to that outcome. Were it so easy in the non-fiction world!

After a couple of hours, when the writing stint is finished, I will come face to face once more with that non-fiction world where my usual tasks and errands await.

Sadly, my time with my characters and their story won’t alter any of the growling and griping by so many people (of all political persuasions) who are bent on ripping and tearing this country apart!

The first light of the new day is showing itself. I like to believe that there are still promises of good things ahead on this day, beginning with a visit to my make-believe world with my make-believe characters. And that’s where I’m off to now…

Here’s to a good day to you all!2015-09-15 06.34.40.jpg

Summer reading…my list

images.jpegLast week I mentioned that I’ve been doing more reading than writing, and though I should probably feel guilty, I really don’t. I guess it’s because I don’t always have much to say, but I always have the desire to read. And so my mornings usually are given over to reading in the peace and quiet of the cottage on Magician Lake.

Although I enjoy fiction, my tastes have really turned more toward non-fiction, specifically biographies and history. I like to keep a pattern of alternating between the various types, following a biography with a good thriller or mystery.

So far this summer, these are the books and authors I’ve finished and enjoyed, in one way or another:

  1. Stealing America-(Dinesh D’Souza) – An intriguing work that explains a lot of things about the current state of the Democrat Party.
  2. The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball-(Charles Fountain) – For baseball fans who enjoy the history of the game, and for a White Sox fan such as I, this is a wonderful book that provides so much background of the circumstances that helped create the most notorious scandal in the history of Major League Baseball, the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
  3. Sycamore Row-(John Grisham) – Another fine legal tale from Grisham that is a sequel to his first successful novel A Time to Kill. The main character, Jake Brigance, is once again caught up in a very strange case that keeps one turning the pages to see how the whole thing will turn out.
  4. The Edisons of Fort Myers: Discoveries of the Heart-(Tom Smoot) – I bought this book on our trip to Fort Myers, Florida, where we visited the Edison-Ford Estate in March. It was a fascinating work that explained how Edison came to Fort Myers in the first place and his love of the community, making this his winter home for many years.
  5. Papa: Hemingway in Key West-(James McLendon) – This is another book I picked up on our recent Florida trip, specifically in Key West. Hemingway’s life and times in Key West and how the “Papa” myth grew is explained in this nice little book. Makes one want to dash on down for a cold drink at Sloppy Joe’s!
  6. Night-(Elie Wiesel) – This very small—but extremely powerful—book has rested on my home bookshelves for quite a long time, with my having every intention to sit down and read it. Ironically, when I packed this in with the other books to take up to the cottage, I had no idea that the author would pass away shortly thereafter. This is Elie Wiesel’s recounting of the horror that came to his family and other Jews during the tragic Hitler years, before any kind of help in the form of liberation eventually materialized. It is the story of perseverance in the face of hopelessness and inhumanity. Rest in peace, Elie Wiesel! Your story shall not be forgotten, nor any of those people who suffered.
  7. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty-(Charles Leerhsen) – Another biography and baseball book about one of the game’s greatest players, yet historically misunderstood. The book enlightened me as to the misconceptions I have always held about Ty Cobb, who was cast as a racist and overall mean person on and off the field. Leerhsen provides clear evidence that just the opposite was actually the true picture of Cobb.
  8. The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindberg, and the Epic Age of Flight-(Winston Groom) – The author has interwoven the stories of these three Americans who showed uncommon courage and never backed down from the challenges they faced in the world of aviation. It seems as though when faced with daunting adversity, each of these Americans ratcheted up his inner fortitude and met the challenges head on.

images-2.jpegThere are still several weeks remaining, and I do plan to devote much of that time to my writing. But there are still more books to read and enjoy as well.

What's next to read?

Under the March Sun: The Story of Spring Training-(Charles Fountain) Yep, another baseball book, but what can I say? There’s always room for books about baseball in the good, old summertime! Can’t wait to get to it.  🙂

What are some of your favorite summer reads this year?

That morning I’ve been awaiting…

IMG_1052.jpg
The “lane” through the cherry orchard to the cottage

It rained sometime in the pre-dawn hours. I heard its pleasant patter on the roof above my head upstairs as I was about to get up to put the coffee on. I pulled the covers back over me and lay there and enjoyed the sound.

Now, a couple of hours later, it’s gray, a slight breeze ruffles the wind chimes out here on the screened porch, and all is quiet on the lake and surrounding land. No wave runners or zealous ski boats are churning things up this morning as the “reality” of mid-week settles in.

Coffee cup filled now, it’s time for me to get to “work.” My trusty MacBook has waited patiently these past few days for me to be inspired enough to fire it up and catch up on my writing. Instead, my mornings have been given over to reading rather than the creation of my own words, and all of the noise and excitement of the 4th of July weekend wasn’t too conducive for getting any kind of writing going, either.

This morning is different, though. My current “read”–The Aviators–rests inside and will stay inside until I’m finished with this post and some work on the novel.  Later, we’re heading away from the lake for lunch and a visit to an Outlet Mall in Michigan City. With the change in the weather, I suppose it’s a good day for that, too.

With some company arriving this coming weekend, I guess getting this sort of weather out of the way now is a good thing, and, besides, it is that inspiration for me to start up the MacBook and get back to writing! Let’s hope so…

In my next post, I will share my thoughts about all of those books I’ve read rather than spend time writing. Which causes me to wonder: When did/do all of the good and famous authors find time to read and get their writing done?

Have a good week, everyone. 🙂IMG_0866.jpg

 

 

 

Hey, thanks for everything!

One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.
This week…

I didn’t post last weekend due to being away from the old “writing machine” for IMG_1118.jpglonger than I had expected. It has been a stretch of days where the weather has been such that the duties outside took precedence. Besides, when it’s finally in the 70s and absolutely gorgeous out there, I find it very difficult to be inside at my desk trying to concentrate on writing!

At any rate, there are many good things of which to write, and they all rank very high on my personal scale: Weather; grandkids; Carolyn’s job.

IMG_1722.jpg
Late-afternoon fire on the patio
As I’ve written recently, the weather has finally come around to provide us the opportunity to get outside, to breathe the good air, to soak up the warmth of the sun, and to watch the grass, plants, and trees come alive.

The farmers have begun getting their fields ready for planting (corn or soybeans) and it’s always a good feeling to know that soon new life will be sprouting all over this part of northern Illinois.

The writing front…

Having been a bit lax and negligent of seriously getting work done on my current work in progress, a novel titled Birchwood’s Secret, I chiseled out time this past week to actually make some progress with it. It was a good time to look with a fresh vision at what had been sitting for a while. I was glad to be back among my characters at the resort where I left them. I think I’m ready to move the whole thing along to a conclusion. Stay tuned!

Soccer & retirement…

Saturday morning—a perfect one it was—found us at our grandson’s first soccer game of the season. The event was even more special for my wife, Carolyn, since it was the first time she’d had an opportunity to see the boys play soccer–or anything else, really–on a Saturday because she’s always been at work during those times.

IMG_1611.jpg
After 46 years, a celebratory beverage is in order!
After 46 years of working as a hair dresser, she’s finally calling it quits on May 25th. Recently she began the process by “phasing out” the Saturdays and is now down to just two days a week. She’s excited, yet will miss her many clients and co-workers.

The road ahead…

We will be able to plan more things to do together and enjoy both of our retirements more fully. Her retirement will also mean that this summer will be the first one she will actually be able to spend more time at the lake cottage.

Plans for a trip to Alaska in 2017 are in the planning stages as well as fall and winter road trips and little excursions to see things in our own backyard.

When I sat down to write this post, I wasn’t entirely certain which direction it would take. But after a couple of minutes, I realized that I didn’t have to sweat it at all. It’s quite clear that I have so much for which to be thankful, and that’s always easy to write  about.

Until next time, that’s one good thing…IMG_1226.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Ten minutes for my thoughts…

Today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.

OK, to get this new week off and running, I’m going to kick-start my writing by following the prompt above. It’s something I haven’t done in quite some time, and I feel the need to try it on this gray and still-wintry April morning.

IMG_1228.jpg
Monday sunrise  from our deck, kicking off another busy week ahead.

The weekend, as usual, flew right on by, but it was still one that kept me busy. Following Friday’s visit to the doctor for a follow-up after my recent echo test, I relaxed and proceeded to get on with feeling OK about things—at least for now.

I find it very hard to focus or accomplish much writing when I have “stuff” on my mind—“stuff” such as doctor appointments! But, in the end, those kinds of worries never seem to turn out as bad as my mind led me to believe they would. Perhaps I need a shrink instead of a cardiologist!

Saturday morning was our men’s book club. We discussed a very interesting one titled How We Got to Now by Stephen Johnson. It was a rather easy one to read, as I managed to do so all within three days.

I particularly enjoyed the overall premise that when something is invented or devised, other things—totally unrelated—spring forth. For example, the Gutenberg Bible/printing press creating a need for glass and, eventually, reading glasses. It’s something the author described as “The Hummingbird Effect.”

Sunday was church and then a trip back to our former town for another book club, this time our friends’ couples group. The book there was H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald, and though we all read it, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for it.

What’s in store for this week?
IMG_1415.jpg
Not looking very springlike off our back deck!

Plans for the next phases of yard work—removing the chicken wire and stakes from around the bushes, mowing, bringing up the deck furniture from the basement, edging and trimming, etc., are all on “hold” for the time being.

That is, at least until the weather warms up enough for us to be outside without heavy coats and mukluks. (Just kidding about the mukluks!)

This Thursday is our grandsons’ school Open House for Grandparents, so I’ll make my annal visit to their school and enjoy seeing their classrooms and meeting their teachers. It’s always fun to see them in another setting other than familiar hearth and home.

IMG_1691.jpg
Our 4th grade grandson

Friday morning will find me leaving very early for Ohio for a quick visit to my mom’s and  my sister and her husband’s. I’ll be back sometime Sunday afternoon.

IMG_1692.jpg
Our 2nd grade grandson

As the week wears on, I won’t have much time to keep up with my many blogging friends nor reply to their wonderful posts.

But I’ll do as much as time will permit, since I’ve decided that my writing time needs to be devoted to Sandbar’s Secret.

Right now, my ten minutes are up. This little exercise was good, and it’s amazing what one can write in ten minutes.

Have a good week, all!

 

 

My foray into flash fiction, oh my!

My blogging friend Luanne over at Writer Site posted about a free online program that generates writing prompts for flash fiction. It’s called The Story Shack Writing Prompt Generator.

Curious, I checked it out and found it to be pretty cool. And the fact that it’s free doesn’t hurt, either!

How it works

When one presses the “Generate” button, five things pop up: Genre, Character, Material, a Sentence to Use, and Word Count.

Like Luanne, I like some basic “constraints” on getting my writing started, and this appears to be the perfect tool for doing just that.

Yes! I thought I would like to tackle this head on for my first blast into flash fiction.

I tried it out, and the first one that popped up was as follows: Romance, Fat Baker, A Painting, “He can change” & 600 words.

What follows is my first effort into flash fiction and using Story Shack Writing Prompt Generator’s criteria. It was fun, and I plan to hit that “Generator” button frequently each week.

What kinds of “constraints” (if any) do you prefer when beginning a writing project? If you try Story Shack, let me know your opinion of it. Happy writing, all!

The Baker’s Tale

 He was slowly steering a tall cart of pastries on their way to the glass showcase in the front of the bakery when he saw her after so many years. He was overcome with a sort of panic. God, what if she recognized him?

Sweating, something he did frequently, he stopped. Was it nerves? Morbid obesity? A combination of both? All he knew was that the pastry cart wasn’t tall or wide enough to shield him from her view as she waited nonchalantly, browsing the baked items.

Cringing behind the aluminum cart, he recalled how they’d once loved and shared and just how lovely she was—her smile, especially—and never an unkind word toward anyone—especially to him!

Life had been good, dreaming young dreams and promising young promises. He, the debonaire and handsome guy in her life, had dropped out of college to pursue his love of painting. But a severe lack of confidence in his own efforts had been the great barrier.

The manager was busily serving customers and would soon spot him in the middle of the place, like a stranded shipwreck victim, clinging desperately to the last bit of flotsam. He had to do something.

He’d tried like hell to be the person she’d first thought him to be—the one she’d fallen in love with one rainy summer weekend at an old cottage in Michigan, where he’d gone to paint rustic scenes in watercolors.

She’d loved his first creation at once, even wanted to buy it from him. But he didn’t feel it was very good at all.

Trying to hide now, sweat stinging his eyes, he mentally kicked himself. If she hadn’t been so nice to me and hooked me right off, I wouldn’t be in this mess right now.

He glanced her way again and saw that she was blithely scoping out the peach coffee cake, another of his creations he’d finished baking less than an hour before. Great!

Worse, he still didn’t know how to proceed without causing an obvious scene. He’d been hiding behind his cart much too long, and he had to get the baked goods to the front as the bakery was filling with hungry, early-morning customers.

Having no other option, he heaved himself up from his bent over posture and felt his heart nearly jump out of his thick chest. The exertion was killing him, he knew, but he had to move forward, unload the baked items onto the empty shelves, and get back to his baking. 

If only she’d pick something and leave! He knew that wouldn’t happen before it was too late. Karma is about to rear its ugly head. He sighed, resigned to his fate, and resumed his cart-pushing directly toward where she was standing, his heart hammering wildly. A 350-pound person isn’t designed for this sort of thing!

Just then, her number was called and she pleasantly asked for two cherry-filled crescent rolls. A quick exchange of money for the white bakery bag the manager handed across the showcase, and she smiled that smile. He saw this and felt like running to her (as if he could!) and taking her in his arms again.

But he didn’t. He watched her step out onto the busy sidewalk, carrying her white bag of crescent rolls, and disappearing from his life all over again.

He then remembered what she’d told a friend once who wondered what she saw in him: “Not much, but he can change.”

But he really hadn’t.

The Day the Heat Came

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week. 
(Note: Yesterday, I posted part one of a story I’d written back in the 80s titled “The Day the Heat Came.” Here is the conclusion of the tale that was a lot of fun to write.) 

The old, shady maple-lined street was now a river of pitch-black sludge, tar, asphalt, and crushed stone—now liquefied beyond belief!

Good old Maple Street had seen its share of weird things, but this was the doozy to top all doozies! Not even the rain of bowling balls a few years back, or the monsters coming to Maple Street out of the Twilight Zone, could top this.

images.jpeg
Photo courtesy of  olmparish.org

A minute later, Mr. Beasley, the mailman, floated by in his mail truck as though he had set sail on a voyage on the rushing torrent of black goo.

Florid faced and hair wild, Mr. Beasley was desperately trying to get the truck into gear, but there was no more street left on which to maneuver. He was losing the battle quickly as the vehicle of the United States Postal Service began to cant and tilt and was soon swallowed up by the roiling river that had been Maple Street.

Not far behind was patrolman Nace Wimbish, frantically trying to extricate himself from his police cruiser that had begun its river-like journey. Seconds later, he and the blue and white squad car met the same fate as Mr. Beasley and were suddenly sucked under the whirling and swirling flow of asphalt and tar–gone for good.

As this was happening, all of the trees that lined the once-peaceful street began to droop and wilt and turn to sodden piles of vegetation.

Boz Corndexter, the town drunk, was next! All that remained of his 400 pound self was oozing and sloshing around in Mable Froom’s rain barrel, into which he had stumbled when the heat came.  Ol’ Boz’d had the misfortune to be sleeping off one of his mean drunks in the shade of the old widow’s back porch. Wrong place, right time!

Witnessing all of this, Eve and Tommy began to feel trapped and afraid and alone. Aunt Gert had gone off to her weekly poker game at the Ladies League of Elkville, so chances were pretty good that she wouldn’t be home soon–if at all–as things were developing.

“Do you think we’ll die like them?” Eve was trembling now, more worried than before, staring out at the chaotic scene outside.

“Let’s hope not,” Tommy said, moving closer to his little sister. “I have big plans for my life.” He glanced at his book of Jack London stories he’d been reading on the porch and imagined that he’d be able to overcome whatever this evil force of nature was that was causing all of this mayhem.

Tommy and Eve stayed at the window for the rest of the afternoon, looking out at more and more of the craziness enveloping everything about the place. The thermometer on the porch had reached its highest calibrated marking and then, without any warning, burst and cracked and splashed itself into oblivion. Almost at once, the pungent odor of burning wires and metal crept through the vents. The temperature outside was now beyond measurement!

At that exact moment, the porch swing that had hung on the same rusty chain for forty years, suddenly screeched and screamed, seemingly in agony, and then crumpled and gushed into a puddle on the battleship gray porch floor.

Eve and Tommy were stunned as they stood and watched things melting all around them, realizing that it had been only a short time ago that they had been reading Jack London stories and playing make-believe with dolls and otherwise whiling away a summer’s day on that same swing. Now it was no more!

There was silence in the house now, except for the grinding and throbbing of the air conditioner that still seemed to be trying to right itself, and Aunt Gert’s tiny fan that kept at it like The Little Engine That Could.

Despite the terror that was going on outside, the air inside was strangely fresh and very comfortable. The curtains fluttered ever so slightly as the coolness wafted up from the floor vents below. The acrid hint of smoke that had been drifting in moments before had as quickly disappeared without a trace.

Outside, the sky was a fierce red, and the steam and heat all around their neighborhood continued to take its toll on things. A few houses like Tommy and Eve’s had managed to avoid whatever miserable force the deadly heat had brought, but most of the others were gone or soon would be.

Tommy realized at that moment that life as everyone had known it had quickly descended into the furnaces of hell and would probably never be the same again. He wondered, too, if others were watching in horror behind their windows? 

Nothing was moving out there now, other than the flowing Nile that had been Maple Street just a short time before.

Poor Boz Corndexter! Going out in a rain barrel was no one’s idea of a classic exit from the here and now. And Nace Wimpish would be hard to replace as the town’s best cop–that is, if there would ever be a need for a cop again! Whatever was happening, a future in this town seemed pretty bleak.

Tommy could see something lying on the far corner of the next door neighbor’s steaming yard near the flowing street. It was Mr. Beasley’s mail pouch, which at that moment exploded and hurled its contents soaring, scattering them high into the heated atmosphere where they immediately became engulfed in flames.

Tommy and Eve felt as though they couldn’t watch any more; they’d seen enough of the horror that had come their way. But despite their efforts to turn away from the morbid scene, they couldn’t force themselves to look away from the nightmare outside their window. 

After a time, though, and after they’d seen all they cared to see, the two young people turned away from the window and slumped down to the floor and knew that life as they knew it would never be the same again. The whole apocalyptic inferno had pushed them both past any sort of rational sanity.

The air conditioner, finally having worked the kinks and gremlins out of its system, steadily hummed away now. Aunt Gert’s tiny fan whirred gently on and on. And the heat kept on coming and the river that was Maple Street oozed and slurped its way forward, intent on swallowing the rest of the town.

Until next time, that’s one good thing!

My vault of forgotten short stories

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week. 

Earlier this week, as I was delving into various cabinets, file boxes, and folders (with the intention of “cleaning house”) I happened upon a thick and worn notebook that I hadn’t seen for years. Inside were bits and pieces of things I had written a long time ago.

Looking through them squelched any thought of “cleaning house,” and, instead, I spent a good portion of the morning reading—and remembering—the time of my life when I first wondered what all it would take to become a writer.

Once in a while we come upon unexpected remnants of our past, and they often serve as reminders of dreams and goals we’d once had. For this weekly feature of One Good Thing, I thought it might be a fun thing to share one of those “first efforts” from my “forgotten archives.”

One such lost “treasure” was written sometime in the early 80s for a short story writing class I was taking. Because it is a bit lengthy, I’ll break it into two parts. Part two will be posted tomorrow.

The story, based on a prompt we were given, was lots of fun and whetted my appetite to write some more. I’d like to think I’ve grown as a writer since those “early days” when I thought seriously of being a writer. Regardless, I had an extremely good time writing this one.

The prompt: Write about a day that begins in typical fashion but for some reason takes a very different direction.

Without further ado, from my vault of forgotten short stories, never before seen by anyone else, here is…

THE DAY THE HEAT CAME

July 23—The day the heat came…

Tommy Edgeworth and his sister Eve sat rocking gently back and forth on the weathered swing that hung on the wide front porch of the old white clapboard house, where they lived with their Aunt Gert, when it came.

Tommy, reading Jack London’s “To Build a Fire,” and Eve, carrying on a conversation with her Barbie doll, never saw it coming. Until that very moment, nothing was unusual about this typical summer day.

6c8b888e8d592b7666c9b34264ea99ed.jpg
photo courtesy of weather examiner

It was exactly 11:53 a.m. when the mild, gentle morning breeze ceased completely, replaced by an oven-like atmosphere. Exactly one minute later, the neighbors’ chimney melted.

The orange-red bricks all ran together and oozed down the steep pitch of the eighty-year-old house and plopped over the edge to the ground far below, as though some careless kid had spilled a super-sized ice cream sundae all over the driveway.

Tommy and his ten-year-old sister were spellbound! She began to whimper a little but stopped because that caused too much discomfort in the increasing heat. Tommy took off his shirt and used it to wipe the sweat from his body, which by now was beginning to look like he had just stepped out of the shower.

“I think we better go inside and crank up the air conditioner,” he said, his voice weak and drained from the rising heat that was  now radiating all around them.

In they went, just as the Wupperman’s TV tower across the street suddenly bent limp like some wilted iris in the garden out back. There wasn’t any crashing or rending of metal, merely a quick squishy sound—like molding clay would make…or silly putty…in a kid’s clenched fist.

Tommy and Eve raced through the house, slamming windows shut and drawing shades and curtains closed for added “protection.”

Precisely two minutes later, Tommy clicked the thermostat on the living room wall to start the air conditioning unit that had reposed quietly out behind the lilacs alongside the house for most of the pleasant summer—until now. The old A/C compressor seemed to awaken with a startled, wrenching groan.

“Eve, run quick, up to Aunt Gert’s room and bring her little fan down!” 

Beginning to worry just a bit more, but without saying anything, the young freckle-faced girl dropped her doll and chuffed up the eighteen steps to the second floor.

By the time his sister had come back down with the small General Electric table fan, its cord trailing off behind, Tommy had established his lookout post at the front window directly above a floor vent, which was trying mightily to crank out cool air.

He grabbed the small fan from his sister and set it on the highboy chest next to the window and plugged it in and turned it on. The little fan whirred gently but didn’t do much to provide any real relief, other than moving the air about.

Looking out and down the street, beyond the melted burnt orange steaming pile that had been the chimney of the house next door, Tommy could see Mr. Cloon’s Buick crumble into mega zillions of dust particles on the street in front of his house.

No one was in the car, thank goodness, but what startled Tommy most of all was that there wasn’t a trace of oil, gas, or any other motor fluid of any kind—anywhere! A once healthy automobile had now heated to the extent that it had simply turned to dust.

A split second later, old Mrs. Clechmeyer, who was out for her late-morning stroll, suddenly became a boiling mass of goop and glop. For one brief, desperate moment, she tried to shout, but no sooner had she opened her mouth when her face completely melted away. One second she had been walking upright; the next she was diminishing into a non-human puddle of muck and mire!

In a most bizarre sort of way, this wretched scene reminded Tommy of his favorite moment from The Wizard of Oz. He could almost imagine Mrs. Clechmeyer’s words—had they been able to be vocalized just before she melted away—to be, “I’m melting, my little pretty!”

“Tommy, do you think we’ll be ok?” The fright in his sister’s voice drew Tommy’s attention away from the morbid scene outside.

“I don’t know, Eve, but it sure is weird. Nothing this strange has happened since the time it rained bowling balls for three days. Remember?”

Eve thought for a moment, continuing to stare at the wicked tableau outside.  “Yeah, I remember that. Uncle Mavis really got nailed when that happened.”

Tommy said, “And we would’ve gotten nailed, too, if we hadn’t ‘ve been down in the root cellar with Aunt Gert, helping put up canned tomatoes and pickles.”

Eve shook her head and said, “At least this time it isn’t so loud—just way too hot!” She had moved over beside her older brother at the window. The air conditioner and the whirring of the little fan were the only sounds they could hear, and, fortunately, the house seemed to be holding its own against the inferno outside. 

Neither spoke for a long time, each wondering when their house would meet a furious, fiery fate. Nothing much happened for the next few minutes, until a loud, gurgling sound out in the street erupted, sounding like a giant drain being unclogged. What they saw, as they peered once more out the window, was that the gurgling from the street was the street itself!

To be continued…

Until next time, that’s one good thing!

 

Coming soon: One Good Thing…

100_5400.jpg
What good things await around the bend ahead?

I’ve come to the realization that we’re enveloped in a world swirling with negativity, problems, issues, unhappiness, etc., etc., and, if we’re not careful, we can quickly get eaten up with it all and lose our sense of what is good. At least I know I’ve found myself slipping into that realm, where it’s way too easy to look on the dark side of things, hiding any chance of seeing what is good and decent.

Here at Down Many Roads, every weekend I intend to focus on one good thing that showed itself during the week past. If I’m not careful, I’ll probably have more than one, but there will be at least one about which I’ll post each weekend.

It could be a simple photo. Or a sentence. Or a paragraph. Or a 300-word essay. I won’t know until I get there at week’s end. I do know, however, that my purpose is to promote the good that is in my life–kind of like that old song that told folks to “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative…”

Understanding that it will be impossible to rid the world of negativity, I merely want to reaffirm each week that at least one good thing occurred in my life and share it here in the weekly feature I’ll call One Good Thing….

It doesn’t mean I’ll no longer grumble and grouse about things, but I am determined to refocus the light and shine it on the good side of things each weekend. It has been so easy to forget or overlook the good that is often right in front of me! Time to start over and start seeing again.

That said, I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead.  Stay tuned…