“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

Chapter Four

Mission accomplished…Gee returned to the kitchen where she sat back down at the kitchen table.  She momentarily put the gun down to light a cigarette.  (I know.  I know.  But let’s give her credit for not cracking open the bottle of Jim Beam that sat next to the toaster…okay?)

That done…she propped the gun on a turned over jar of grape jelly and just stared intently at the back door…wondering…were there more?

Gee…my gutsy, pregnant mother sat there…at the ready.  The gun was in one hand and a Lucky Strike cigarette in the other.

Minutes later, there were a couple of loud knocks on the front porch screen door.

Gee calmly took one steadying drag from her cigarette, put it carefully out in the ash tray, picked up the gun and walked slowly into the living room.

She paused by the stairs that led to the second floor and listened to hear if either Durwood or Duke had woken up from all the commotion…they had not.

She unlocked the solid and very heavy wooden door that led to the screened-in front porch.

After opening it only a few inches, Gee flipped the switch that would turn the porch light on and clearly illuminate anyone standing on the front porch.

HOWEVER, the light didn’t go on because Clive...that lazy son-of-a-bitch…had forgotten to replace the burned-out bulb…a simple chore that Gee had reminded him to do several God damn fucking times…so she hollered…rather absurdly when you think about it…”Who’s there?”

A silent pause for about 3 seconds…then…

“It’s the police, ma’am.  I’m Officer Daniel Nelson.  Are you Mrs. Johnson?  Did you call for assistance…ma’am?”

Now Gee was no fool.  “How do I know you are the police?” she asked skeptically.

Officer Nelson…who was a VERY, VERY new police officer hesitated for a moment…and by doing so…completely destroyed any confidence Gee may have been building with him.

“Well, ma’am…” Officer Nelson said slowly, “If you open the door, I could show you my ID…and my badge?”  And because he was only 23 years old, he unfortunately sounded like an extremely nervous 12-year old boy.

Gee hesitated and pondered her next move.  But then…as I was later told…I kicked her…rather sharply.

“Fine…fine.” She said…somewhat distractedly.  “Hold on a second.”

She tugged open the heavy mahogany door that led to the actual porch with her left hand…

…and because it was so heavy and because she was so pregnant…she used her right hand to help open it…

…and simply forgot (who could blame her…really) that she had a loaded gun in her right hand…and quite accidentally fired off a shot (obviously unintentionally) in the direction of Officer Nelson who was standing a mere eight feet away…separated only by a flimsy screen door.

“Son of a bitch!…ma’am…”  shouted the always polite Officer Nelson..in a weirdly high voice…as he was sure a bullet had just sailed right by his ear.

He was absolutely correct.  The bullet…it was later mentioned in the official police report…had lodged in one of the Bur Oak trees that the previous owner of the house had planted just last June…and which crime scene investigators subsequently determined could remain there…forever.

“I’m so, so sorry…I didn’t mean to do that.” Gee said very apologetically…because she really was sorry.

“Are you okay?” She asked as she walked thru the front porch area toward the outer screen door.  But still on alert…she also asked…

“Do you now have your badge and ID out, Officer Nelson?”

And then…Gee sighed.  She was suddenly feeling very, very pregnant…because she was.

She unhooked and pushed open the outer screen door with her left hand…and then she raised her right hand…again forgetting there was a loaded gun in that hand…at this point the gun almost seemed to be a part of her…

…and she started to use the barrel of the gun to push an errant lock of her long blonde hair from her face…which was now highlighted by the piercing beam of a flashlight held by Office Nelson…which  he had produced to help her see his ID and badge.

It was unfortunate…and later, much, much later…some would say even amusing…that two other police officers, who had come to assist the rookie Office Daniel Nelson, saw the silver gun flashing in the light.  They immediately took cover by falling to the ground…unintentionally sinking completely out of sight in a huge drift of newly fallen snow.

 

 

 

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

Chapter Three

The deal was done…one gun…fully loaded…brought home to Gee who…

…picked it up rather haphazardly from the kitchen table where Clive had so proudly placed it…

…and…in her defense…being completely unaware at how surprisingly heavy a loaded gun could be…

…and…while asking Clive in a somewhat dismissive voice…”How the hell does this stupid thing work?” and not actually looking at the gun as she was talking…

…accidentally pointed it at my father and pulled the trigger.

Well…you will be relieved to know that she missed.

But…it was a tense night in the Johnson household.

The gun was summarily placed on the top shelf of the kitchen cupboard next to the sink…with “vague plans” to “someday” visit a gun range for lessons from “someone” who actually knew what they were doing…and that “someone” would definitely not be “Scotty”.

A couple of weeks later…it was about 11:22 p.m. and Clive was at work.  Gee was in the kitchen having a cup of coffee, laced with the addition of milk and sugar…a Scandinavian requirement.    Then she lit a cigarette.

Hey…give her a break!!!  This was 1943 for Pete’s sake.  Pregnant women smoke and drank…and…there was a world war raging out of control!!!  These were stressful times…

Back to the story…let’s re-focus…

Gee…in kitchen…Durwood…cozily asleep in his little bed upstairs…puppy named Duke asleep right next to him.

Outside…snow, mixed with sleet, was falling heavily and gusts of wind blew snowflakes against the single pane windows.

Suddenly, there was a sound on the back-porch steps.  Then…a furtive scraping on the back-porch door.  “What the fuck?” said Gee who never swore…except when she occasionally did.

She did not move right away…instead she put one protective hand on her stomach…or…you know…me.  Then she heard glass breaking.

Well.  What exactly does one do at this point?  Do you scream?  Do you faint?  Do you call the police?  Maybe…or…

…do you slowly get up and take three steps to get a loaded gun down from the kitchen cupboard?

You get the gun, right?  Right.

More glass breaking and then as Gee is getting down the gun…she turned slightly and saw thru the back-door window someone whom she definitely knew should not be there.

Without one single hesitating thought…Gee completely turned toward the door and…because of “previous experience”…used both hands, raised the heavy gun, pointed it and…pulled the trigger…just once.  The intruder screamed angrily and swore loudly.

Gee…whose fearless grip on the gun had not loosened one bit…shot two more times thru the now completely shattered glass window…whereupon she heard another scream and within mere seconds…heard a loud thud.

She then carefully walked over scattered shards of glass, into the hall between the kitchen and the living room where there was a convenient little “telephone nook”…a recessed area only big enough for a chair and a tiny table that held the household telephone.

Gee sat down, placed the still warm gun next to the phone…all the while keeping an eye on the back door…picked up the receiver and dialed the operator and said…in a remarkably calm voice, “I need the police.”

 

 

“I just ate less…among other things…”

HERE’S THE DEAL…

I have done so much damn research on this I am almost blind…

But.  I have double checked the results and I can report beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can eat one whole Hershey’s candy bar (no nuts) every day after dinner and it will be just fine.

I AM NOT KIDDING YOU.  I WOULD NOT KID YOU!!!!!

Listen to me…I NEED that candy bar…now…more than ever!!

My daughter just informed me over ZOOM that I won’t be seeing her or my 2 AWESOME granddaughters and super son-in-law until…maybe…

NEXT THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!  AS IN 2021!!!!!!!!!!

IKR? WTF!!!!!!!!!  😦

Have a nice day…

 

 

 

 

“QUITE BY ACCIDENT” Chapter 1

The Paperback Edition…

PROLOGUE

THIS IS A TRUE STORY…KIND OF…

For as long as I can remember and that would be about 20 years…who really remembers the early years…I have always started my “sleep ritual” the same way…no matter how tired I was.

First I would lay on my right side for a couple of minutes, almost falling into the sweet bliss of sleep but…not quite…

Then I would slowly roll over on my left side, tuck my left arm under the pillow as I re-fluffed it a little more with my right hand and then lower my head and fall instantly asleep, waking only when my alarm buzzed in the morning.

Every.  Single.  Night.

Except…not THIS night.

THIS night…I did not fall instantly asleep.  THIS  night…for some inexplicable reason, I quickly flipped BACK over to my right side and in the oddity of bodily position change, my eyes flashed open and there it was in the corner of my bedroom…a 6-foot tall ribbon of blackness. 

I knew right away it was not smoke.  It was like a black, shimmering waterfall and it was about 3 feet wide.  It was swaying from side to side but then it suddenly stopped.

I was afraid to blink or look away…so I just laid there…and stared wide-eyed, completely forgetting to breathe.  The always reassuring night-light still beaming softly from my bathroom…

 

 

 

“Quite By Accident” Chapter 2

The Paperback Edition…

I was so tired that snowy, cold November night.  All I wanted to do was eat a very  unhealthy (read that very tasty) frozen something from my freezer, add a bottle of beer, some Cheetos Puffs (of course this is a plug for Cheetos Puffs…HAVE YOU NOT EATEN CHEETOS PUFFS?) and then collapse in front of my big screen TV.

I had worked an extra shift at The Book Shop.  I was the assistant manager.

Don’t be impressed by the title.  It only means I get an extra 5% discount on the books I buy and 20% commission on the books I sell.

And…it also means I get to fill in for those employees who fail to show up for work when there is a major snow storm…for instance…like the one we had tonight.

My name is Tobey Larson and I’m 24 years old.

Tobey Larson is not my real name, of course.  I’m not going to tell you my real name.  One does have to be very careful when sharing odd experiences.

Look what happened to all those people who reported seeing flying saucers…

I don’t remember…do you?

“Quite By Accident” Chapter 3

The Paperback Edition…

“It was a dark and stormy night”…see first paragraph, Chapter 2…

I had arrived home about 9:30…covered in snow flakes…and was greeted most lovingly by my devoted and scrappy little cat, Emma.

“How are you Tobey?  Are you well?  Are you going to feed me rather soon?”

Of course, she doesn’t really talk like that…I’m not crazy.

She is much more polite than that.

“Yes, yes, hang on a second.  Just let me get my coat and boots off.”

I lived very close to The Book Shop.  I did so because I have no car and have chosen to try to do without one for a while.

To say I was trying to “go off the grid” would not be completely true but I was trying to do something like that…but less drastic.

So now I watch very little TV.  Maybe the news on CNN…if  I’m feeling brave…and, of course, who can pass on “The Housewives of New York City” for heaven’s sake.

I browse the web about 30 minutes a day,  but I try to avoid it completely on the week end.

But much to my surprise, after doing this for about five months, I felt absolutely no different…which I thought rather odd.

I expected to feel more “Zen-like”.  Peaceful.  Centered.   But I did not.   And “Housewives” was wrapping up their season.

Maybe I needed to come up with a ‘new plan’…or at least a ‘better plan’.

 

 

“Quite By Accident” Chapter 4

The Paperback Edition…

I had graduated from the University of Minnesota this past Spring with a degree in English.

Considering that I had no desire to teach, it wasn’t very practical or useful but I enjoyed every minute of those five years.

For some inexplicable reason…people were so impressed when they found out I was shooting for a degree in English.

“Wow!  You’re an English major…Wow!”  And many times the conversation died right there.  Go figure.

I had lost contact with all school friends.   We had gone our separate ways, mostly to different states and even though we had ever so sincerely promised  to keep in touch…we had not.

I had no boyfriend and no prospects.   sigh.

Both parents were dead.  I had one sibling, sister Karlie, who was two years older than me.

She was delightfully married to George and very busy with a 1-year old toddler, Annie and a little mutt named Cantor.

I lived in a luxury (read that safe) apartment complex…in a luxury (also read safe) suburb…because even though it was very tragic and sad that my parents had both died ridiculously young…they had left a really sick amount of money to be shared equally between me and sister Karlie…but not until we BOTH turned 30.

However…in the meantime…we were given a “very nice” amount of money that very nice  lawyers doled out to each of us every month…to see us through to the “big payoff”.

Don’t hate me.

“Quite By Accident” Chapter 5

The Paperback Edition…

My parents, Iris and Rain, or “The Parents” as they later became known, loved the wealthy, carefree lifestyle that only piles of money can buy.   Apparently, “The Great Gatsby” had made a big impression on both of them when they were young and…well…impressionable.

Luckily for them, many dazzling but solid investments made by Rain’s father and grandfather, assured “The Parents” they would never, ever have to work at any job…but must always give generously to worthy charities…which they did quite happily and quite often.

They loved me and my sister so very much.  There was never any doubt about that and of course, we adored them.

However, they just didn’t like the idea of ‘parenting’…and unfortunately did not quite realize that until about 5 hours after Karlie was born.

Grandma Sylvia moved in before the next sunset and when I accidentally (go figure) appeared two years later…well…no worries…Grandma Sylvia didn’t blink an eye.

She drank red wine during the week and whiskey sours on the weekends.  She was also fond of those little sweet-smelling cigars and Maria Callas.

She was beyond brilliant, spoke French, Spanish and Chinese and most importantly loved Karlie and me to the moon and back.  She took pretty good care of “The Parents” as well…

Sadly, she died when I was thirteen.

“The Parents” earnestly tried but could not find one other adult relative they could trust completely to replace the irreplaceable Sylvia…

And…as odd as it may seem…neither could they find an adult relative that they could entice with extraordinarily large sums of money to become a “semi-foster” parent to Karlie and me.

So…they rashly decided “what the hell, let’s give it a go.”

“What could go wrong?” They told us…ever so confidently…

What indeed…

“Quite By Accident” Chapter 6

The Paperback Edition…

“The Parents”‘  first attempt at ‘parenting’ was to volunteer at my 7th grade “Welcome Back to School”  dance.  This was, incidentally, was my first foray into “socializing” on a grander scale than play dates with neighborhood kids.

Two weeks before the dance, “The Parents” descended unannounced upon a clueless Principal Nelson…he was such a nice, normal man.  I believe he took early retirement…

He had previously been informed when Karlie began 7th grade that the parents of Karlie and Tobey Carlson had been tragically killed on their third attempt to climb Mt. Everest.

“The Parents” had bravely tried to rescue their loyal Sherpa who had unfortunately fallen into a deep crevasse.  As the story went…all three bodies were never recovered…so Karlie and younger sister Tobey were now being lovingly raised by a grandma named Sylvia…so you can just call her if anything came up.

This compellingly sad tale had been created by our highly imaginative grandma Sylvia after a couple of glasses…perhaps more…of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Both Karlie and I thought it was a very sound plan and we all heartily agreed that there was no reason whatsoever to mention this to “The Parents”…ever.

But now…“The Parents” told the puzzled Mr. Nelson, that “Yes!  Of course we’re Tobey’s  parents!  Who else would we be?”

And then they added for good measure, “We’re Karlie’s parents too!”  They figured this  further claim would seal the deal.

A hesitant and slightly confused Principal Nelson said he “would check and see if they would be needed.”  He then rose to politely show them the door…vaguely remembering a sad tale involving a sherpa and Mt. Everest…and he pondered this as he walked toward the door with them.

However...”The Parents” were on a mission and ‘parenting magnificently’ had become their Holy Grail.   They were not going to be turned away…

So they made sure of being ‘needed’ by donating $200,000 toward renovating the teachers’ lounge and also gifting the school library with another $200,000.

This generous gesture of goodwill insured that no more questions would be asked on whether or not they would be needed.

They were more than ‘needed’…they were now revered.

Imagine riding a roller coaster with no safety bar to hold you in place…that was my life for the next 6 years…