“A story of death…”

 

(A true Minnesota story…)

This is what happens when 18 zillion inches of snow fall to earth in the autumnal days of October…and foolish you go outside even though your wife tells you “Don’t do it…”

So yesterday I was sitting here writing and looking outside my patio doors and the birds were flying past like it was a damn freeway during rush hour.

I was busy…writing…so I didn’t get up to investigate. I would have failed miserably as an investigative reporter…

THIS morning I walked over to see if any of the 18 zillion inches of snow had melted (some had) and I happened to look down…and saw a broken sprinkler head…except it wasn’t a broken sprinkler head…

It was a robin. Deader than a door nail. It’s little feet pointed straight up. Wings slightly fluffed. Red breast looking almost alive… I couldn’t see his head…under the snow…I hope.

So now I know why all the birds were flying by my door yesterday…it was a “fly by funeral”.

Today…like just now…I saw one robin walk stoically by my window heading for the dead robin…which was out of my current range of sight. It was a female robin. Perhaps this was “the wife”.

I know just what she said as she looked down at his little dead body… maybe even pecking his cold, frozen corpse for emphasis…

She said, “I told you not to go outside…but noooooo....you had to get one last worm before we left for Texas.”

Is there a moral to this story? Yes. She’s always right…

P.S. I was going to attach a photo of Mr. Dead Robin (not that I could actually do this with any semblance of professionalism) but chose not to…since after looking again at Mr. Dead Robin…I don’t think there actually IS a head. You’re welcome…

Have a a nice day…

“I just ate less…among other things…”

“I can’t believe I didn’t just kill him…

OMG!!!!!”

So.  My Husband needed to see a dermatologist for some odd growth removal on his jaw…don’t worry…it was nothing.

However, a consultation was needed in addition to the procedure so we were looking at two long journeys.   The office was in an unfamiliar suburb several miles away.

Now…I personally like to take the non-freeway road option on my map app whenever I can.

Even though I know I am a very competent driver I also know that others are often times not…and they generally pass me even when I’m going 70-80 MPH…in a 65MPH zone.

Yes!!!!   I do know that I am currently speeding at this point…but only a little…and these idiots are passing me anyway!!!!

Now this particular non-freeway road option was unusually complex and winding… with a couple of signage errors (not my fault)…so that I unfortunately made a couple of wrong turns.   A couple of minutes were lost…whatever. 

Things like this do not bother me at all…  Husband, however…is another story. 

Husband apparently had something important to do when we returned home that day.

Note:  He had nothing important to do when we returned home that day. 

However…in the interest of keeping Husband happy…see how nice I am?…I mentioned to  Him that I happened to notice a sign to an entrance ramp for a major freeway that could get us home a tad sooner.

I did this before looking at my map app… THAT WAS MY SECOND MISTAKE.  (My first mistake…involved wedding vows…but I digress.)

“Oh.  YES!!!  We MUST take this route home!!” He said gleefully.   

While He is getting ‘consulted’ about his slice and dice procedure…I looked at our return trip on my map app…via freeway road option.  Oh my…

I want you to now imagine 6 strands of cooked spaghetti, cut up into two or three pieces and then whimsically thrown on a dinner plate. 

Detailed directions accompanying this “map photo” went something like this…

Go right, go left, go right, go right again, take the third left, go left, go back, go around, go left again, go to Hell.

(I should mention here that I have just a teeny, tiny vision problem…when it comes to reading signs…at a distance…going 70 MPH.

And also…sometimes I occasionally confuse…just momentarily mind you…right and left…but never red or green…okay there was that one time but that was all.)

Suffice it to say…as I was desperately trying to figure out where the hell the EAST entrance ramp was  and which lane (there were 4) I needed to be in right now in order to access it…(going 55 MPH) LIKE EVERYONE ELSE…yeswe ARE ALL EXCEEDING THE SPEED LIMIT!!!)

Husband says to me…in a tone that suggested that he had absolutely nothing else going on in his little mind) as I am frantically trying to read and recognize signs…and pay attention to…I don’t know…EVERYTHING…and NOW going 60 MPH LIKE EVERYONE ELSE…

“Can you spray the windows?  I can’t see very good…there’s a little smudge here…right in front of me…”  He points…

“YOU CAN’T SEE VERY GOOD???…  

I  AM SO CLOSE TO CAUSING A MULTI-CAR CRASH… KILLING US…OR AT THE VERY LEAST CAUSING SERIOUS BODILY HARM TO EVERYONE…SO I CAN GET YOU HOME 5 MINUTES SOONER…AND THERE’S A LITTLE SMUDGE IN FRONT OF YOU????”

There wasn’t a competent judge in this world who would have thrown me in jail had I just brained him on the spot…but then…the definition of competent these days is a little sketchy… right?

I didn’t want to take a chance.

Have a nice day…

“Yeah…me too.”

I picked up my phone and called his number.  Again.

It hadn’t changed in over 30 years.

I had called it so many times I knew it by heart…and I always ended the call before entering the last number.

But not this time.  This time…I forced myself to finish..

It rang seven times.  I waited…seven times.  My heart beating just a little faster after each ring.

And after each ring…my other hand…as it had done so many times before…moved a little to disconnect.  But not this time. 

“Hello…”

It was him!

My God…he sounded so young!  I hadn’t expected that…

Suddenly the years disappeared and we were both seventeen again and he was asking me…to go to the football game…to go to a movie…to go to dinner at Freddie’s…or…or…

…to find out if I was pregnant…and then when hearing I was not…laughing nervously with me in relief.

Now…I couldn’t speak.  I didn’t know what to say.  This was a mistake.  I had made a terrible mistake.

What if he had forgotten me?

I couldn’t bear that…my heart would shatter into a million pieces…dreams vanishing in a split second.

I had waited too long.

But then…

“Riley?”  His voice was now urgent, intense….

My hand started to shake so hard, I dropped the phone. I grabbed at it with both hands.

“How did you…?”  I whispered but then stunned into silence.

“Oh, Riley…” he said…ever so softly…and I could tell he was starting to smile.

“I’ve kept track of you…I’ve waited for this call for so long…for you to…”   Then suddenly his voice broke and I could hear the tears in his eyes.

“Yeah?”  I could barely speak…my voice cracking as well.

“Are you…okay?”  That familiar deep voice was back…but sounding a little hesitant…perhaps wondering if he had the right to even ask…now…after all this time.

“I’m okay…” I sighed.  I could breathe again.  It would be all right.  Somehow I knew…it would be all right.

“God, I’ve missed you, Riley.”

“I’ve missed you…”

“It’s been almost 40 years…”

“I know…”  My words dropped into the depths of unspeakable anguish.  The pain of so many lost days and nights slashed like a razor into my heart and would not let me say more…

“Riley…?”

“Yeah?”  I struggled to answer as hot tears were streaming down my cheeks.

“I still love you…I still love you, Riley.”

“Yeah…me too.”

The End…

 

 

“I just ate less…among other things…”

“Okay… Here’s the deal…”

I am not dead!!  Woo Hoo!!!  Super!!!

That being said…what I have been doing is… writing/publishing my latest short story…“One guy…One girl…One motorcycle or…”  which…

…is appearing…somewhere in this blog…

Do not even ask where…because I don’t know how to tell you how to just push a button and get there…because…because…I just don’t know…)

I (personally) think it’s just a miracle I managed to mentally, emotionally and spiritually figure out how to use the new BLOCK  EDITOR! *

*(Okay, I am not really using it…I just push that little ‘classic’ square and go from there…DO NOT TELL ANYONE!!!)

And now before I begin my next story…which is Christmas (holiday) themed/cookie related…I am making a checklist of all the boring  stuff I have to do before I can start writing again…and  one of the items on my list is: LOSE  10 pounds…5 pounds…1 more fucking pound…

If you recall (or care) I was stuck at 140 pounds FOREVER…AND…I had been and am still refusing to give up my daily chocolate bar…and a couple of potato chips…(Oh…stop shaking your head…)

BUT in spite of all my horrible addictions, I somehow magically have lost one pound and now weigh… 139 pounds.!  Yay Me!!

AND…this is not just some… “One day I forgot to eat!!!”  deal...which I have done and really should never.. ever do again…but that’s another tale for another day…

So…without my “not-eating all day diet”…I am consistently weighing in at 139 pounds.

NOW…the next thing on my ‘TO DO’ list is:

Oh…I even hate to put it in print because then it becomes SO FINAL.  Okay.  Here goes…

I HAVE TO CLEAN MY HOUSE…  There.  I said it.  Everyone happy now???  

Have a nice day…

“One guy…One girl…One Motorcycle or…”

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Final Chapter…

“…SHELLEY!!!”

Franny shouted the name out so loud, two guys sitting at the bar near us turned around. 

Franny composed herself and in a normal, sane voice…continued…

“Shelley…meet Stanley…the nicest bartender in the city of Minneapolis…and the lousiest bumper pool player.  I’ve made a fortune off of him!

I finally found the courage to actually look up at Stanley and I tried very hard to appear casual and…you know…over 21.

“Hey.  Nice to meet you, Stanley.”

“Same…uh, it’s Shelley…right?” He said laughing.

“Yup.” I said confidently as I noticed him getting ready to take our order.  Maybe he wouldn’t even ask to see my ID…could I get that lucky?

Franny ordered first.

“I’ll have a small tap beer and a small cheese pizza.”

Stanley looked over at me.  I wanted to say, “I’ll have a Coke…” but I really did want a beer…so…in for a penny in for a pound…

“You know…I’ll have the same…and an order of onion rings, please.”  I am so very polite.

“Okay, ladies, I will place your order and get your beers for you.”  He ripped off the order slip and turned to walk away…but then…but then…

He turned back to us…

“Oh hey…we’ve got a new owner as of last month and he’s pretty careful about underage drinking here, so he’ll be over to check ID’s in a couple of seconds.  I’ll be back soon with your drinks.”  And then he left.

“Dammit!  I thought you were good to go.” said Franny.

“That’s it, I’m leaving.  I can’t do this, Franny.  I’m a nervous wreck.  I just want to go home…I’ll call a cab.  No problem.”  I made a motion to get up.

“Cooper, don’t worry!  You’ll be fine.  Your ID looks almost just like you…and you really do look twenty-three…especially in this light.”

“Just be cool…”  Franny reached across the table and patted my hand.

“Hey…do you want to hear something funny?  Bob asked me on the way back here if you had a ‘drinking problem’ since you made such a big deal out of ordering a Coke at the restaurant.”

“Oh, yeah?” I said…half listening to her as I was digging in my purse for my wallet…and… my fake driver’s license.

“So, what did you say?” I said.

“Oh, I just told him the truth…that you weren’t twenty-one.”

My head flew up and I reached across the table to put my hand over Franny’s mouth.

“Franny!!  Quiet!!”  I whispered loudly and looked around but Franny just ignored me, batted my hand down and kept talking…

“Oh, stop…no one heard me.” she said giggling.  “I wonder what time Roger and his friends will show up…”

Nothing ever bothered Franny…she was always so happy and positive.  It’s what I loved about her.  It’s why she was my best friend.

I relaxed a little…glanced down at my ‘fake license’…I guess it did look kind of like me.  And then I looked up to agree with Franny…

But her mouth had fallen open and her eyes had widened in horror as she gasped…

“OH MY GOD!!  I’ll be damned!!”

I didn’t think twice.  Whatever was going to happen next was not going to happen to me…I was completely done with this day.

I grabbed my purse, slid across the leather seat of the booth and started for the door.  But just as I reached for the handle, a hand grabbed my arm.

“Excuse me, young lady.  Are you even old enough to be in here?  Let’s see some ID.”  The voice was loud and angry.

Oh.  Fuck!!  I wrestled my arm free and without looking back I yanked open the door.

“I’m leaving!  I’m leaving!”  I yelled to the guy over my shoulder and I almost ran outside.

“Not before you give me your phone number!” he said and followed me out.

What was going on?  Was this guy some kind of psycho?

In the dancing Fall shadows of a late September afternoon…and feeling safely ‘legal’ now that I stood on a street in Minneapolis and not in some bar that required me to be something I was not, I angrily whirled around.

I found myself looking into the very intense, laughing blue eyes of the new owner of The Friendly Inn.

Or…as I had come to know him just a short time ago…’Hank’…who was now wearing a white chef’s apron that said, “Yes, I AM the cook” over his raggedy white tee shirt and jeans.

Stunned…I, of course, swore madly.

“What the hell is going on?  Who are you anyway?”  I shouted at him, not enjoying the smirk on his face one bit.

“Well,” he said and pointed to his apron…

“I’m Hank Sullivan.  And as of two and a half weeks ago…the new cook and owner of The Friendly Inn.”

He reached up to block the sun’s rays from hitting his eyes and I noticed his left hand where there was now a simple gold wedding band resting on his third finger.

“And…I guess you’re also still somebody’s “faithful” husband as well…” I said accusingly.

I knew who had the upper hand right now…and it was not Mr. Married Guy…no matter how cute he was when he grinned…and he was grinning now…from ear to ear.

“Cheating on your wife is not funny.” I said indignantly.  “How would you feel if she was biking all afternoon with a strange young man?”

I was on a roll.  When you’re right…you’re right.  And I was definitely right!

“Plus…it’s not fair to women like me who…who…trust that you’re not married if you ask them to go for a ride on their motorcycle…”

I knew I was on shaky ground here since I had sort of instigated the whole “going for a ride idea” by kind of flirting with him in the first place…but still…

“Really?  That’s the best you can do?” he laughed.  “You’re trying to drink illegally in my bar which could cost me my license, a ton of money…which I don’t have right now…and possibly destroy me.”

I looked at him questioningly…”How do you know I’m not…”

Before I could finish…he said.  “Bob called me.”

“Oh…”  Well.  He had me there.  We were both wrong.

“Okay,” I said grudgingly…looking down at the sidewalk.  “I guess we were both wrong.”

“Nope.  Just you.  You’re the only one who is wrong.  I’m completely innocent…of all wrong doing.” he said smugly.

My head popped up.  

“What!  What the fuck do you mean?” I said totally dumbfounded.

“Well,” he said.  “I’m actually not married.  I only wear the ring to keep young women from hanging around the bar area and costing me business.”

“The previous owner suggested it…he was single when he bought this place 40 years ago…and it really does work.”

“Only I keep forgetting that it’s on when I leave here.  It doesn’t take long to get a tan line when you ride a motorcycle.”

He slipped off the ring  to reveal the tell-tale white band.

“I tried to explain that to you a couple of times back at the restaurant,” Hank continued, “but then you seemed kind of angry and not that interested in me so I thought what the hell.”

“I see…” I said softly…looking down.  Feeling a little stupid…I was at a loss for words.

Hank, however, was not.

“So.  How old are you, Cooper?”

“You mean today?” I said a little flippantly…”Or in December…when I will be twenty-one?”

I looked up at him…Oh…those eyes…

He gave me a huge grin…slowly shaking his head from side to side.  Then he came over and threw his arm around my shoulders…pulling me next to him.

“C’mon back in, Cooper.  You can hang out with your friend as long as you don’t order any beer…I’ve got an in with the ‘owner.'”

As we started walking back toward the entrance to The Friendly, Hank said, “It’s Sunday tomorrow and we’re closed.  I hear it’s supposed to be another great day…”

“Want to go for a ride?” he asked.

I stopped for a moment and then said…looking up at him…

“Do I need an ID?”

The End

“One guy…One girl…One motorcycle or…”

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 18

As we neared The Friendly, I realized I didn’t want to be done with ‘married Hank’…not just yet.

When we got to the corner where this hopeless misadventure had all started, Hank pulled the bike up close to the curb.

He shut it down, got off and again quickly picked me up and put me on the street.  This time his hands lingered lightly on my waist.

“You know, Cooper…” he began…

I didn’t say a word.  I didn’t even look at him.

I just pulled away and walked over to the sidewalk…ignoring him completely.

When I got there, I looked back at him.  He hadn’t started up his bike yet…but was just watching me walk away.

“Hey!” I hollered back to him.  “Don’t forget to put your ring back on…your wife might get a little suspicious if you’re not wearing it when you get home.”

And then…I turned around and quickly walked right across the street into The Friendly Inn.

I was absolutely and completely unaware of where the hell Franny was but…as it turned out, she was right on my heels.

She and Bob had parted ways, quickly exchanging phone numbers before he took off.

Franny and I stopped for a couple of seconds in the entryway of The Friendly to let our eyes adjust to the inky darkness of the bar.

“Cooper…” said Franny. “That was beyond cool! What a put down. I looked at Hank’s face right after you yelled at him and he was completely stunned.”

“I guess he thought he had you fooled.”

“Oh, look,” she pointed. “That booth is empty. Hurry before someone else takes it.”

Franny gave me a little shove from behind and I all but fell into the first booth. She didn’t want to sit on the side that faced the door…she wanted me to sit there…she took the side looking into the bar.

“Now. When Roger comes in, just kick me a little under the table…but don’t say anything.”

“And don’t be overly obvious, okay? I know that sometimes you think you’re so funny…” I interrupted her…

“Should we have a code word…like ‘Rumpelstiltskin‘” I joked. But Franny was dead serious.

“Cooper! I am dead serious. That’s why I’m sitting here on this side…if I see him coming in the door, I’ll get all crazy acting. You know me…So just do what I asked…please.”

“Oh. Here comes Stanley.”

“Hi, Stanley!  It’s really crowded in here this afternoon.”

And that’s when my heart started beating so hard I thought I would pass out.  A life of crime was definitely not in my future.

“Hey, Franny!  Haven’t seen you in here for a few weeks.  Find another place to hang out and steal a guy’s money while you break his heart?”

“Yeah, I guess it has been a while.  Oh, Stanley, this is my best friend…”  She smiled and  turned to look at me…

And…that’s when Franny’s mouth stayed open…but no words were coming out…

She had completely forgotten the name on my fake driver’s license…tick, tock, tick, tock…

Oh My God!!!  I was so screwed!!!

 

“One guy…One girl…One motorcycle or…”

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 17

“Nope…I always pay my own way,” I said briskly…and I pushed the money back at Hank.  I knew I didn’t sound too friendly…because then…

He turned to me and looked really puzzled at my sudden change in tone…

It was as if he was trying to guess what I was thinking.  Well…good luck with that…

Then…getting no reaction from me other than a humorless smile…he just shrugged his shoulders, took my money and added it to the pile for Nan.

“Everyone ready to go?” Hank said…looking across the table at Bob and Franny…who were again deep in conversation.

We all got up and headed for the door.  Hank held back a little and walked over to the owner.  After a couple of minutes, he joined us outside.

“Cinnamon,” he said with a pleased look.  “Good to know.”

And then we were all on our way home…

There was a decidedly different feeling between Hank and me now.  Well.  It wasn’t my fault.  I wasn’t the one with the “little wifey and nine kids” waiting at home.

The ride back was not nearly as exciting as the ride to the restaurant.  I was really disappointed and kid of sad that Hank wasn’t single…and available.

He was super cute and fun…and he seemed to have a good sense of humor which I especially like in guys…

And…he could have stayed mad at me for my stupid move on the motorcycle…but he hadn’t.

And…even though we hadn’t had much chance to talk…I felt a small connection…at least when he wasn’t yelling at me or when I wasn’t lying to him…

Then I remembered that little “happy feeling” I had felt when he grabbed my hand as we first walked into the restaurant.  Now…surprisingly…tears stung at my eyes.

Oh damn.  I blinked my eyes and focused.  Maybe I would meet some great guy at The Friendly tonight.

According to Franny, half the single men in Minneapolis showed up there on Saturday afternoon…we’ll see…

I blinked again and looked at my watch…it was only 5:12…the night was still young and full of possibilities.

I sighed…

“One guy…One girl…One motorcycle or…”

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 16

So…when I made no move to stop him, he continued.  “More recently, I’ve been working at a little restaurant in St. Paul…The Blue Onion…have you ever been there?”

I actually had heard of The Blue Onion…it was very popular now and everyone was talking about it.

“Yes.  I have.  I’ve never been there though…maybe we should go there sometime…”

I let the suggestion hang in the air for a couple of seconds as I looked Hank in the eye while smiling…just so he would think that I was possibly hinting for a future date…

And then…just as it seemed he might be interested…I quickly turned to Franny and very deliberately continued my question to her

“…eh Franny?  You’ve heard of the Onion, right?”  I knew she had and she fell right in line with my little charade at Hank’s expense.

“Oh, yeah.  We’ll have to go there sometime and see if this guy can cook.”  And then she grinned at me…knowing that I had scored.

I turned back to Hank…gave him a slightly, mischievous  smile…and went in for the kill…

“So…what’s it going to be?  Want to come and play some pool with us later?”  I also looked over at Bob to include him…I had a hunch it wouldn’t matter…but I wanted to appear polite.

“You know…that sounds like fun,” said Hank, looking very meaningfully at Bob first…and then back to me…

“But,” he said after a huge pause, “It’s my mom’s birthday and the whole family…including Bob, who is like part of the family, is getting together tonight.”

“We’ll have to take a rain check.”  Apparently, Bob can’t speak for himself…since he didn’t.

What a swell lie.  I was so impressed I almost believed him…mother…birthday…such a good son…such a good, loving, ‘married’ son.

Nan breezed by and left the bill.  I put $10.00 on the table.  I knew that would cover my food and my share of the tip.  Hank pushed it back at me.

“My treat!” He said looking at me.  Damn…he had the most amazingly, beautiful blue eyes.  I hadn’t noticed them before…oh well.  That’s life.

“One guy…One girl…One motorcycle or…”

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 15

“Are you going to tell Bob your real name today or wait until Tuesday?” I quietly asked Franny as we headed back to our booth.

“Oh, I’ve already told him.  He thought the whole ‘fake name thing’ was really a cool idea.”

“Oh, yeah?” I said.  “Well good for old Bob.”

Yes, yes, I know…I sounded just a little bitter.

As we approached the table, Hank jumped up right away so I could get in and sit down…so very courteous.  Whatever…

“Everything okay?” he asked, again sounding a little worried…

“Peachy…just peachy,” I said with a big (maybe a tad phony) smile.

The bartender had brought over the drinks while Franny and I were in the Ladies’ Room.  I took a swallow of my Coke.  I was so thirsty.  It was icy cold…perfect.  Who needed  beer anyway?

I glanced sideways at Hank.  You know…I could play games too.  Maybe I would have a little fun with ‘my married date’.

“So…Hank…” I asked.  “What are your plans for tonight?  Franny and I were going into The Friendly Inn when we met you guys…want to come in with us when we get back?  Play some bumper pool?”

I was trying to sound normal and friendly but I know I wasn’t carrying it off very well…but like I cared…right?

Hank looked at me and tilted his head…almost as if he was debating what to say…it was odd…but then he laughed a little and said…

“Well, actually…” and then Nan appeared with our food and Hank didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence.

The food was really great and nobody talked much while we were eating.

I popped a last fry in my mouth and said, “Wow, that was excellent!”

“I wonder what that sauce was the cook put on the hamburgers?” Hank wondered out loud.  “I’ll have to ask Nan when she collects the bill.  It was really different…but good.”  Bob nodded in agreement.

I gave Franny a look.  What an odd comment from a guy about his burger.  It seemed strange to have a guy so interested in the food.

“What…are you a cook or something?” I asked Hank…a little bit sarcastically…for no other reason…than because he was “a married rotter”.

I wasn’t usually sarcastic to people…in fact I was never sarcastic to people…so it came out a little heavy-handed.

I instantly felt bad…but oh well…if you’re going to “cheat on your wife and abandon your babies”…you get what you deserve.

He paused…obviously feeling the sting of my remark…but then said…

“In fact, yes.  I worked for a couple of years at the Leamington Hotel in Minneapolis as a sous chef.  Then I moved over to the Nicollet Hotel.  I worked there for about a year.”

“It’s what I do.  I cook.”  He gave me a tentative smile…maybe wondering if I was going to stop him from talking…again.