“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.”

 

 

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

Chapter Two

Our new home was an older two-story, with a screened-in front porch, a screened-in back porch, a couple of bedrooms upstairs…a nice back yard…a scattering of trees and a single car garage.

I drive by it occasionally…the screened-in front porch is still there…the now magnificent Bur Oak tree in the front yard is still there…and I’m sure the bullet…by now deeply embedded in its formidable trunk…is still there as well…

Because my father worked nights delivering oil for Midwestern Oil and Gas Company, he decided it would be a really great idea for Gee to have a gun…so she could protect herself when he wasn’t there.

Clive wasn’t exactly sure what Gee needed protection from…but still…a gun sounded like a great idea.  My father…as I was to later learn…quite often had a lot of really “great” ideas…and this particular idea was prompted by the unexpected opportunity to purchase above mentioned weapon…very, very cheap.

One afternoon while Clive was perched on his favorite stool at “Jimmy’s Dew Drop Inn” some rummy wino lurched in the front door waving a silver, six-shooter gun…visualize a ‘cowboy’ gun…yelling “Ten Bucks!! Ten Bucks!!”

Of course, everyone in “Jimmy’s” ducked because they thought the guy was there to rob the place…even though as they collectively reflected later…they all thought it was odd that he was demanding such a weirdly low amount.

Clive, however, did not duck but instead turned on his stool and said, “I’ll give you $5.00 for it, Scotty.  Does it have bullets?”

My father…as I was to also later learn…seemed to know an awful lot of people…

 

 

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

INTRODUCING…

“The Johnsons”

“Where the Simpsons meet the Sopranos…sort of…”

Chapter One

It was a bitter, cold December night in Minnesota…and even though I was not yet born…I remember very clearly every detail of that exciting winter evening because…

…my mother was an authentic genius with a tested IQ of 171 and could correctly remember absolutely everything that had ever happened to her and…

…because my father was a devilishly clever storyteller who could weave a tale that kept you listening…with your mouth hanging open…for hours.

Sometimes…in the middle of one of his stories that took place during my “non-remembered early life”…I would be holding my breath until my mom would gently tug one of my pigtails and say, “Lottie…don’t worry…you don’t die!”

So…as this particular story goes…it was on that cold December night when my “35 1/2 weeks” pregnant mother pulled a gun on a very nice policeman…who “as they so often do”…was just trying to help.

But…let’s begin at the beginning…shall we?

The 23-pound, golden brown Thanksgiving Day turkey had not yet even been carved…when Clive Johnson and his brainy and beautiful wife Gee (as in “Gee Whiz)…announced to all family and friends who had gathered together in Clive and Gee’s tiny  apartment…to celebrate this most beloved holiday event…that they would be moving the following week from their cozy but crowded one bedroom apartment with their adorable, chubby seven-year-old son Durwood and faithful hunting dog named Duke.

Worth noting:  My father did not hunt, had never hunted and would never hunt in the future…but had met some guy in a bar (of course he did) and the guy had been trying to sell his 6-month old purebred hunting dog…for a ridiculously cheap price.

Now my father really loved a good deal…but as he later told Gee, “His eyes just got to me, honey.”  And I’m pretty sure he meant the dog’s eyes…”

When I was able to talk…I called Duke “Thido Thia” for some strange, unknown reason.

 

 

“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 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 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 17

The Paperback Edition…

“WHAT are you doing out HERE?” I cried.

“And what part of guardian ‘watch over you’ angel…do you not get exactly?” asked Fred with just a hint of snippiness in his voice.

“I ‘watch over you’ ALL the time.”

I pulled out the breakfast bar stool and started to sit down and paused a bit to give Fred a not so friendly but rather meaningful look.  He wisely drifted slightly away toward the patio door.  He seemed to sense I needed some space…and why wouldn’t he?

I opened the bottle of Jim Beam and pored a couple of inches into my glass.  I took a sip…it was AWFUL!

I got up and walked over and opened the freezer.  I scrounged around and found some ice cubes in a bowl and tossed them into my glass.  I returned to perch on the stool.

“Here’s to livin’ the dream…” I said and I raised my glass in a toast to Fred.  He swayed a little.  I nodded back.

“If I go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow…will I remember any of this?  Will you still be here?” I asked.

Fred didn’t say anything for a minute or two.  I sensed that he might be thinking…or  perhaps not…

But then he said, “I don’t know…and…definitely yes.”

I took a bigger sip. It wasn’t that bad now…with the ice.  I swirled it around a little.

“I’m not sure I can handle this,” I said hesitantly…and stared at the bourbon in my glass.

“Oh…you’ll be fine, Tobey.  You’re pretty tough.  You have to remember…I’ve seen you in action…during the good times and some very bad times…I’ve been with you your whole life.”

“…I hugged you when you cried…helped you create new swear word combinations when you were furiously angry…I tried to steer you away from people who were not good to you or good for you…and I even let little words of encouragement and love from your mom and dad seep into your subconscious when you were sleeping.”

“I even helped you get this job and this apartment.  I could go on but I don’t want to brag…too much.”  Fred swayed from side to side…obviously very proud of his accomplishments.

“Wow!  That’s awesome!!  And you didn’t need…like…permission to do all of that…right?”

“Oh, no,” Fred said confidently. “That fell totally under my job description.  I can do a LOT of stuff.”

My glass paused on its way to my mouth…brain now seriously engaged in full speculation mode…

“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?