140.0…and

four days until Christmas goal of 139.0…

Yesterday…in the spirit of Christmas and baking and the Scandinavian  genes that run amok throughout my body…I baked three different kinds  of cookies.

Why would anyone desperately (and I do mean desperately) trying to lose weight…bake cookies?  Am I completely mad?

Perhaps…or perhaps I am just a mother/grandmother who finds it hard to say NO to requests of this nature…

The cookies were nothing special…just the favorites of my eldest granddaughter, my youngest granddaughter and my only daughter.

And…because I feel it is the responsibility, as matriarch of this tiny family unit,  to make sure that what I give them to eat will not…you know…make them sick or kill them…I had to… “taste test”.

Now…as any good or even mediocre cook knows…the “taste test”…is probably the most important step in the cooking process…AND…the most fun.

So yesterday…I thru caution to the wind (as I so often do) and taste tested to oblivion!!

I THOUGHT this morning’s scale encounter would show a weight gain…it surprisingly did NOT

Has there been some sort of “shapeshifting occurrence” of which I am not aware?

I am very fearful for what today might bring.

Have a nice day…

“Defining Moments…in MY life…

One Very Cold Winter Day…

It was December 28, 1958. The day dawned dark, dreary and supremely cold.  Did the sun even come up?  Oh, I guess so…it always does.  But in my world it was a a perfect day for watching football…I was just getting hooked on this incredible sport. 

(Did I just say hooked?  Oh.  My.)

Christmas?  A memory.  New Year’s Eve?  A  maybe plan.  A football game?    Why not…pop that corn and curl up.

The New York Giants, America’s Cinderella team, was playing the Baltimore Colts…the NFL championship game to be later crowned as  “The Greatest Game Ever Played”.  

The Baltimore Colts, artistically guided by the diminutive, Weeb Ewbank  and led by the  incomparable quarterback, Johnyy Unitas, who threw pass after pass to brilliant wide receiver, Ray Berry…secured a massive upset victory with only mere minutes left in the game… and in the process… led me down an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole to years of football addiction….

I have stories…oh…I have stories…

BUT…today the story is simply this:

Eating not one but two Hershey’s candy bars and two popsicles and half of a donut in one afternoon (before a dinner of nachos) and then follow that the next afternoon… with pizza. hamburgers, homemade fries and  just a sliver of Neopolitan ice cream plus, of course, customary Hershey’s and popsicle and you have…drumroll please…

141.4 POUNDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no excuse.  Well…”I don’t know how he missed that field goal…AGAIN!!!”

Today…I weigh 140 pounds and am just hoping for the best…and to achieve my Christmas goal of 139:)

Have a nice day…

139.2 POUNDS!!!–WOO HOO!!

Okay…CLOSE

BUT NO CIGAR (as they used to say a million years ago)

Okay.  Here’s the deal.  I am fully confident that I will reach my goal of 139# before my Christmas Day deadline…I have ALWAYS had an abundance of confidence…perhaps occasionally TOO much abundance…if that is possible?…  Trust me on this…it is.

But that is a tale for another day…

SO…if I reach my 139# goal…say on December 12th or…December 15th and then it stays for a couple of days…then what?

(I consider weight staying gone for 2-3 days to be the litmus test for success…because…

AS WE ALL KNOW TOO WELL…weight can mysteriously re-appear out of the blue…the very next day…after you have celebrated your loss by doing a rather joyful dance around your living room…NOT NAKED!!!)

SO…back to me…

Do I change my goal to 138 pounds?  That seems harsh…right?   I could just set a new goal  after Christmas Day…right?  Or on  New Year’s Eve…right?

Yeah.  I like that.  I’m not changing my goal weight…but…I’m not going to eat more either or stop weighing myself…because then I would have to change the title of this blog and I’m definitely not going there…

Have a nice day…

“WOO HOO!!!!”

140.06 pounds…two days in a row!!!

I wanted to tell everyone this fantastic news yesterday…but then I thought…some really deep thoughts…

“What if this is just some quirk in the universe?  A miss-alignment of the planets?  A black hole…whatever…?”

I personally blame the ‘black hole phenomenon’ for everything…good and bad…because…well…why not?”

So yesterday I decided to just stop eating…just to make sure the weight would stay off…

HAH!!  Just kidding.  I actually ate normally…and may I suggest the “thin” little chocolate cookies with the white stuff in the middle”?  Okay I will.  Just one.  Dipped into coffee…so it doesn’t break a crown?  So yummy!

However…back to the beginning…two nights ago I was SO DAMN TIRED!  

Even though I have gotten just a “slightly bit older” (I have such a way with words, don’t I?) I don’t always know when to stop doing things and just take a little nap…

So…two nights ago I got into bed and because I was so EXHAUSTED, I skipped the small bowl of potato chips I now have (instead of the wheat crackers I used to have).

Will you quit yelling at me and let me finish? 

Chips can be very good for you…mentally…and…and emotionally! I’m pretty sure about that…

And…WAIT!!!!  I almost forgot!!  This little bedtime snack actually stopped my acid reflux!!!

SO…ANYWAY…I read one page and my eyes started to close.  My head started to droop.

And before I could even put one chip into my mouth, I shut off the light and went to sleep.

Weight in the morning was 140.6!

I danced around  for about 10 seconds… make that 3… (you read the ‘slightly bit older’ part didn’t you?) and then wondered why my weight has gone down. 

Being the unrecognized genius that I am…I then remembered that…

I had skipped the chips!  

So…last night I did the same thing and this morning I ran…I am so funny…I dragged myself slowly to the kitchen, eyes still almost shut and weighed myself…

140.06 pounds!!!!!!

Don’t you just love science?

Have a nice day…

 

 

(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 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…

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 was 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…

 

“Sometimes the truth can be so boring…”

Chapter 1

It was possibly the most beautiful day of my whole entire life…a life presently consisting of twenty (almost twenty-one…but not quite) years.

It was September in Minnesota and most of the leaves on the oak and elm trees had just started turning from their humdrum shades of green to the brilliant, intense colors of yellow, red and orange.

“I should still be back lying on the beach…enjoying these last few hours of summer,” murmured Cooper Malone to herself as she looked wistfully out the window of her best friend’s car.  There were far too few of these beautiful late summer days left.

But no…instead I was sitting in the front seat of Franny Sherman’s brand-new, 1966 Candy Apple Red Mustang…chain-smoking one cigarette after another…trying to get up the courage to walk into the very popular neighborhood saloon…”The Friendly Inn”…knowing full well that I was not of legal age to drink.  I took a deep breath.

“They will demand to see my ID and then…when they notice that I am underage, they will call the cops and I will end up in a tiny, little jail cell,” I complained to Franny who… as my best friend…seemed to be paying little attention to me…and my pathetic exaggerations.

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 2

“Cooper, be serious. This is just a little, nothing, neighborhood bar that serves 3.2 beer, cheese pizza and hamburgers to the families that live around here. My God you can’t even get french fries at this place!

“My parents have been coming here for years! I’ve been coming here forever. Everyone knows me…you’ll be fine.

“And on Saturday afternoons, all the really cool guys come in here to play pool and drink beer before they hit the clubs downtown which…as you have reminded me a zillion times…you will never go to before you’re twenty-one .”

I took another deep breath and said very calmly…or as calmly as was possible…considering I was potentially facing a stretch in the slammer.

“Franny. How old are you?” I asked, as I made a very obvious move to turn in my bucket seat and look at her as she was carefully tilting the rear-view mirror to check her make-up.

“Cooper…I’m twenty-one,” she answered quite patiently…ignoring my burning stare.

“You know that…remember?  We all went out last March to celebrate at the River’s Edge Grill.  Did you stay out in the sun too long today?”

Then she pulled a bright coral lipstick out of her purse and painstakingly applied it to her lips, not once letting her eyes leave the mirror.

I knew, of course, she was kidding about being out in the sun too long…and in passing…I must admit we both looked pretty damn great with our ‘fresh’ tans and slightly sunburned noses.

“Yes.  I DO know that.  And…I also know that I am NOT twenty-one.  And this stupid fake ID looks so…so…fake!  I don’t even look like a ‘Shelley Harris.”

“Oh my gosh, there’s Mike Shaw and Danny Wilson walking in…they are so precious!  Stop whining, Cooper, let’s go!”

Then she carefully re-adjusted the mirror and dropped her lipstick into her purse and got out of the car.

“C’mon, Coop.  Get a move on.”  Franny called to me over her shoulder as she quickly walked around her car and over to the sidewalk where she almost ran down to the corner.

We had parked on the street because Franny didn’t want to park her brand-new car in the parking lot that The Friendly provided.

She didn’t want anyone carelessly opening their car door into the side of her new car.  Can’t say as I blame her…that Mustang was awesome.

I finally got out…but at a much slower speed.  One could even say I was dawdling….and one would be right.

Even though I didn’t really care what I looked like right now…I guess I had to consider the customary “mug shot” one gets after you’re arrested…so I bent down and looked into the car’s side view mirror.

“Sometimes the truth can be
so boring…”
Chapter 3

The mirror’s tiny image showed a ruffled, Clairol-assisted, bleached-blonde, pixie haircut, in desperate need of a comb, hazel-brown eyes with green eye shadow (a little smudged…but who cared).

I smiled big…noting in my teeth.  My…just a tiny bit crooked…nose showed the effect of hours of basking in the sun.

My slightly ‘bent’ nose was a result of me foolishly not wearing my catcher’s mask during warm-ups earlier this spring during a fast-pitch softball tournament that I was unfortunately unable to participate in…since I was sitting on an old, very hard, plastic chair in the ER of Minneapolis General Hospital.

Incidentally…broken noses really do produce an un-Godly amount of blood.  Anyway…

I guess I looked okay.  Good enough to be arrested at least.

Franny seemed to be speed walking as I slowly dragged along.  I caught up with her at the corner…still unable to think of a way I could wriggle out of what I was certain to be a horrible disaster.

I had considered and then discarded my possible, upcoming promotion at work as an excuse.  I was in line to be made assistant to the circulation manager at the Minneapolis Journal…the newspaper where Franny and I both worked.

She was one of the local advertising reps and I was slowly moving up in the circulation department.  (No pun intended…)

However sad this sounds…I had to face the reality that most everyone at the paper had ‘liquid’ lunches and sometimes even ‘liquid’ afternoon breaks…so no one would bat an eye if I got nailed for underage drinking.

Most…including my boss, Mr. ‘party guy’ Ross Taylor…would probably consider it just a “rite of passage” into the wild world of adulthood.  

As we waited for the light to turn green, I heard a roar of motorcycles coming up from behind.

I turned and noticed two guys on Harley-Davidsons who had also stopped at the red light.

Ever since I had seen the movie “The Wild One” with Marlon Brando, I had…for some odd reason…become a big fan of motorcycles.  Don’t ask me why…I have no idea.

Even though they were both wearing aviator sunglasses, I could see they both looked pretty sweet!  Oh, c’mon!  Aren’t all guys on motorcycles sweet?  You know…all that leather and… you know…stuff??

Being the friendly sort of person that I am, I sent a huge smile in their direction…you know…as in “Hey welcome to the corner of 34th Avenue and 51st Street.”

Don’t judge me!  I am a very sociable person by nature.  I smile at most people…and when I am out walking…I say hello to every dog I meet as well.  As in…”Hi, dog!”

The biker closest to me pushed up his sunglasses and smiled back…may I say he had really incredibly vivid blue eyes?  I will…he did.

His smile was just a tad inviting… kind of slow and lazy.  Okay.  It was slow, lazy and sexy.

He was wearing a white tee shirt that had seen better days and faded jeans.  His scuffed, black, leather boots looked older than me.  No matter…it was working.

He was really tan and his longish, blonde hair was sun-bleached almost white…just like I was trying to get mine to look.

He was, actually…if you must know…drop-dead, fucking magnificent.

He looked quickly over at his friend and then back at me.  His friend had nodded what appeared to signal some sort of agreement…

“Want to go for a ride?” he asked me.

I think I stopped breating…no really…no intake of air was present for many seconds.

 

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 4

I was walking toward his bike before I even knew what I was doing…other than putting one foot in front of the other..and managing somehow not to trip and fall down.

Then he revved his bike’s engine…the sound was like a siren call.

“Sure…” I said, with not one single, intelligent thought floating around in my brain.

(And…I might add…whose voice was that coming out of my mouth? Certainly not my voice. My voice was perky and bouncy…one could even describe it as sprightly.)

This voice sounded like I had been drinking whiskey for the past twelve hours…during and after my job as a piano-bar singer in a smoke-filled nightblub while I was still recovering from laryngitis.

“What about your friend?” he asked and raised up his head in question…indicating, of course, friend Franny.

“What?” I said. (There was that strange voice again). I had a friend?

But then a sharp poke in my side quickly brought me back to reality.

“Oh, right!” I yelped. I turned to look at Franny who had left the curb and was now standing right next to me.

We whispered out a quick deal. We would both get on the bikes, go for a ride and then later I would go into The Friendly Inn with her. I would not quibble at all…not one quibble.

She knew that “Roger”…the guy she was really hoping to see tonight…wouldn’t be showing up until much later.

So, for her it was really a win-win situation…especially since the other biker…who had now also taken off his sunglasses…was also drop-dead good looking. That was a plus.

And…the deal was done.

“We can only be gone for a couple of hours,” Franny said to nobody in particular…because nobody in particular was listening.

“We’re meeting some people later at The Friendly.”

Then she walked over to “Biker # 2”.

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 6

But really…how hard could “being a passenger” be?  I had ridden a “bicycle” for years when I was a kid…in fact, many times somehow steering my trusty, old Schwinn (don’t even ask) with no hands.

I actually remember cruising down the sidewalk…waving my arms wildly in the air…and shouting to anyone who cared to see…”LOOK!!  NO HANDS!!”

I also remember “being a passenger” on my friends’ bikes…I just jumped on the handlebars or on the bike’s cross bar.  See?  Easy…

No…being a passenger on this motorcycle was not going to be a problem…provided I could actually get on it.

A few seconds passed as I continued to look around for something to grab.

Then…my “no-name biker”…flipped down the kick stand on his side,  got off the bike and came over to me.  (Jesus!  What was he going to do?)

In one swift motion…he grabbed me around the waist, picked me up and set me on the back of the seat.

“My name’s Hank.”  He said grinning, as he got back on his bike.

“You?”  He asked, turning slightly around to look at me.

“Cooper.  I just love bikes!”  Oh my God.  I sounded like I was five years old.

But Hank smiled at me and said, “Yeah, what’s not to…”

Then he looked over at Bob and gave him a head nod.

The light had changed a couple of times as the four of us had been talking, but now it was green and Bob took off.  I saw that Franny had her arms around Bob’s waist so I did the same.

Hank looked back at me.  “Ready?”

“Absolutely!  I’m ready.”

“Well, Cooper, hang on.”  And I did.

We went around the block and rode back towards Lake Nokomis, the lake where Franny and I had just spent the whole morning and a lot of the afternoon.

We circled it and then headed for the freeway which would take us south…thru the southern suburbs and then out to the farm fields that surrounded the city.

Obviously, we weren’t going to cruise around the ‘mean streets’ of Minneapolis.  I was fine with that.  The speed of the bike was exciting!

Before I knew it, we were whizzing through one yellowing corn field after another…no longer on the interstate.

Hank had passed Bob and Franny a ways back and then had abandoned the colorless freeway.  He shouted to Bob over his shoulder that he was taking a more scenic route.

In the distance, I could see lots of hills vibrant with the early, bright colors of Fall.  It was spectacular.

(Okay.  Here’s the part when you, as the reader, might be saying…perhaps even out loud…or thinking…

“Hey!  These two nit-wits don’t even know these guys!”…And…if you did say OR think that…well…good for you.)

Exactly what the holy hell were we thinking?  Aside from how cute these two guys were…we were thinking absolutely nothing…zero.

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 7

Feeling so relaxed after laying in the sun all day…and then having a late afternoon, slightly chilly breeze blowing thru my thin tee shirt…my eyes slowly started to close and I just ‘ever so lightly’ put my head down on Hank’s back.

Before I knew what was going on…Hank had abruptly pulled over to the side of the road on the gravel shoulder. My semi-closed eyes flew wide open.

I quickly raised up my head and looked around…wondering if “we were there” or at least “somewhere”.

“What the hell were you doing? You can’t fall asleep on a bike! You want to fall off and hit that asphalt going 70 miles an hour?”

Hank was yelling at me and pointing angrily to the black highway next to us. Just then a car flew by us so fast, I couldn’t even see who was driving.

“Were we really going that fast?” I asked. “Wow!”

Yes. Yes. I know! I was obviously missing the point since Hank was not smiling…nor was he answering my question.

Bob and Franny had driven past us but now had turned back, circled around and parked next to us.

“What’s up, man?” asked Bob. Franny was peering out from behind his shoulder…she looked pretty happy. Well good for her.

She wasn’t getting yelled at…by a complete stranger no less.

“She started to fall asleep…” said Hank. He had gotten off his bike and was trying to light a cigarette. I could see his hand was shaking a little…

“Didn’t you give her the “passenger instruction” spiel?” asked Bob…looking first at Hank and then at me.

“Why would I?” said Hank…sounding totally exasperated and talking about me like I wasn’t even there.

“She’s ridden hundreds of times on her brother’s Harley!” He looked over at me…and shook his head in disbelief.

It was at this point, that Franny…my FORMER best friend…burst out laughing…and she really shouldn’t have done that.

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 9

“You know…I saw a sign advertising a restaurant just a ways back,” said Bob, starting his bike.  “I think it’s just a few miles ahead off the next crossroad.”

“Let’s head over there and get some burgers and beers.  We’ll all feel better then.”

I saw Franny pat his shoulder in agreement and without waiting for us to say anything…they took off.

“Well…aren’t they just the two little love birds,” I muttered sarcastically under my breath.

Hank looked at me and I saw the beginnings of a smile…

“Owen?”  he asked.

“Well…” I said, lifting my chin up a little defensively.

“I read somewhere that if you’re going to lie…you should make it as believable as possible and Owen is a really believable name…”

Then I rashly continued…with just a trace of pride in my voice.  “I’ve used that method before…:

“Oh, I just bet you have.” Hank said as he got back on his bike.  The hint of a smile had turned into a full grin.  I liked this look a lot better…it was ‘dagger free’.

So off we went…but not before he gave me a couple of motorcycle “PASSENGER RULSES” as in…NEVER fall asleep and NEVER grab the arm of the biker…while you’re in motion.

Well!  That all made perfect sense to me…now that I knew.

In a couple of minutes, we turned off the main highway and headed down a smaller country road.

Ahead of us in the distance, I could see Franny…my ‘former best friend’ and Bob.

I was hungry…we hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast and then it had only been coffee and a…

Hang on…wait a minute…brain engaging...

Had Bob said “beers?”  He had.  He had definitely said “burgers and beers.”  I remembered that very distinctly.

Dammit!  I wonder what small town jails were like…

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 11

Bob and Franny were waiting for us on a bench outside the restaurant.

They were talking a mile a minute and laughing…like they had been friends for years.

In my paranoid, self-centered world, I prayed Franny wasn’t sharing any personal information about me…like how old I was.

Hank got off the bike and then before I could make any attempt to get down…or should I say…before I wasted any more time trying to get down…he just lifted me off the seat and placed me on the ground…like I was three years old.

I swear…I though he was going to pat me on the head…as in ‘good little girl’…but he instead just smiled at me and then walked over to where Bob and Franny were sitting.  I followed.

“This looks like a good place,” he said, peering inside the restaurant windows and then turned to me.  “What do you think, Cooper? he asked. 

He said my name so…so pleasantly.  Much better than before…when he was yelling at me

“Looks great to me.  Let’s go in.” I said.

Then I almost fainted when Hank grabbed my hand as we headed to the door…like this was an actual date.

There were booths along the back wall of the restaurant, tables by the front window where the family was sitting, a couple of tables in the middle and then a long bar than ran from the front to the back.

There were three men sitting at the bar and they all turned and smiled at us when we walked in the door.  I just love small towns.

I bet their jails are nice too…not that I would be seeing one…but just saying…for the record…I don’t mean ‘a record’ as in ‘ a police record’…I mean…

(OH SHUT UP COOPER!!!) *

* As the author of this piece of fiction, I give myself full permission to yell at any character I have created.  It’s just one of the perks of the job…along with raking in piles of cash…

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 14

“Are you kidding me?”  I thought to myself.  Not only was he married…he was trying to hide it by taking his ring off.  What a complete idiot!!  Didn’t he see the white band?

I tried to shoot a ‘look’ at Franny so she could also notice the tell-tale white circle but her head was down as she was digging out her wallet from her purse

“Hi, folks…got to see those IDs you know.  Don’t want to lose my license serving any underage kids.”  The bartender said all cheery-like…

I should have appreciated this moment…especially after my stellar performance…but now…not so much.

After checking everyone else’s IDs, the owner looked over at me.

“How about you, dear…” the bartender asked.

“I’m just having a Coke.”  I said flatly.

“Oh.  Okay then, I’ll bring those drinks right over.  Enjoy your food and thanks for coming in…usually Saturday afternoons are pretty quiet around here.”

Polite chit chat with the owner filled the air for a couple of minutes and then he left.

Franny was all smiles and happy…apparently Bob was beginning to tell her some witty little story.  She leaned in to listen to him and I couldn’t catch her eye.

“You know…” Hank turned to me and started to say something but I gave him a tight, even smile and put up my hand to stop him and then said to Franny…

“Come to the ladies’ room with me, okay?”

My tone was more of a friendly order than a request.

“Huh?  Oh, sure,” Franny said, giving Bob an apologetic look since he was in the middle of his story.

Hank stood so I could get out…such a polite, nice…married man.  I think he said something to me but I paid no attention.  I just walked toward the “Restrooms” sign.

“What’s up?” asked Franny when the door had closed behind us.  I checked to make sure no one else was in the stalls…then I whispered to Franny…I don’t know why I whispered…

He’s “married!”  That’s what’s up.”  I said…while looking in the mirror to check out my hair.  “What a creep!”

“How do you know?” asked Franny…who was also checking her hair in the mirror.  We were such “girls”.

“When we get back, look at his left hand and see the little white band of ‘non-tanned’ skin on his third finger.”  I said while pointing to my left hand.

“Nooooo!!”  I can’t believe it!” exclaimed Franny.  “I’m so sorry, Cooper.” She put her hand on my arm.  

“What kind of guy goes around picking up girls when he’s married!  What a jerk!  He probably even has kids!!” continued Franny.

Oh, that comment made me feel good…I hadn’t even thought about that…a little ‘Hank’ running around somewhere…waiting for his “ratty daddy” to come home…

“Well,” said Franny.  “I’m pretty sure Bob’s not married…at least I hope not…I’m going out with him Tuesday night.”

“Dinner at Charlie’s Cafe and then we’re going to see that new film, “The Russians Are coming, The Russians Are Coming”.  I heard it’s really funny.  I’ll have to check his left hand when we get back, to see if he has any tell-tale ring marks…”

I looked at her reflection in the mirror and she was turning her head from  side to side…admiring her new haircut…which was actually identical to mine.  Franny was always so happy and positive.  I was glad she was my best friend.

“Hey!  What about your plans to hook up with ‘Roger’ later this afternoon?” I asked her.  “Are you no longer interested in him?”

“Sure am!  Absolutely!!  But Bob is fun and super cute.  I’ll see what happens.  I just feel bad for you, Cooper.  Are you going to say anything?”

“No…of course not.  I mean…what can I say.  I kind of picked him up…really…and we are just ‘riding around”…after all.  But still…it is crummy.”

I put on some fresh lipstick…might as well look good anyway…and then we both headed back out into the restaurant.

“I hope the damn chicken is good.”  I said and let the door bang shut behind me.

“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.

“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.

“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!!!

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 19…The 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

“How crazy is this???”

‘BTW…I’ve done worse…but that’s a tale for another time…’

Last night…about midnight…I was just about to turn off the harsh and mostly unforgiving bathroom light and head off to dreamland…when…

…I sleepily glanced in the ‘HUGE‘ bathroom mirror and noticed that my hair looked really awful…kinda straight and stringy…no snap…

Now…to be fair…the morning had been ‘hectic’…and I didn’t really get a chance to…you know…”style” my ‘bob length” hair.

However…I had run a comb thru it in the morning and…during the day  I had probably ‘fluffed’ it every time I looked in any mirror (which was often)…but I had not officially put a curling iron or flat iron to an actual hair strand.

So…about 12:11 a.m….I got out my curing iron…and plugged it in.

Then I did a slow stroll out to the living room to look out the patio door window into the dark courtyard to see if there was anyone lurking out there…(there never is…but I continue to look nonetheless)…and then I returned to the bathroom…

…where I proceeded to completely curl and carelessly style my hair.

…SO… that I would look good (or hopefully less horrible) when I got up in the morning.

And…full disclosure…at 6:03 a.m. this morning…I looked pretty damn good!!

Have a nice day…

 

A very small story about life.

You know how sometimes in life…certain events just unfold that massively affect you but you have absolutely no control over them?

Like when…

Someone sneezes behind you while you are waiting in line at the cash register at your local Walgreens to purchase a bottle of Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow nail enamel…and then four days later…YOU sneeze?  Like that…

Or like when…

You are sitting in your car at an intersection waiting…ever so patiently…for the red light to change to green, and then someone crashes into you from behind…and your nose gets broken from the air bag and as blood is still streaming down your chin and onto your brand-new silk blouse…the driver of the car that has crashed into you…who happens to be a very young girl…rushes up to you as you are dazedly trying to get out of your car…and tearfully confesses to you…

“I am so, so sorry, but…but I don’t have any car insurance.”

And then…later in the ER your husband…who is so very, very sweet but at times slightly addlebrained…confesses to you that…”He is so, so sorry, BUT…” he forgot to renew YOUR car insurance?  Like that.

Or like when…

You pull a pair of your “used-to-be” favorite, old jeans out of the dryer…having just washed and dried them because you have recently lost 7 pounds and you are now really, really sure you will once again fit into them and…you do!!

…and then…when you are very, very happily slipping out of them, you discover two forgotten $20 bills in one of the pockets…and it turns out that right now…today…you really need that forty bucks?  Like that.

Or like when…

You “impulsively and later most regretfully”…tell your high school sweetheart named Jake, who loved you more than life itself…that you want to break up with him.  And, even though you never tell him why…it is because your Freshman English 101 professor at University has been asking you to come into his office on Thursday nights for some extra ‘teaching’…and you desperately want to go…even though you know he is married but you don’t care…because he is so…INTENSE and ‘DEEP’ and…CUTE!!!

However, three months later, you realize that Professor Ames is a conceited, cruel and thoughtless bastard…not to mention a hopeless alcoholic and has been asking all the girls in his Freshman English 101 class to come to his office…and so, you drop the class and never see Professor Ames ever again.

Tragically however…you feel that too much time has passed…and you are too ashamed and embarrassed to call Jake and beg him to forgive you and take you back…because you now know what you did was completely and stupidly wrong…

But then…25 years wander by and…

…one night at exactly 12:16 a.m. (and you know this because you have just looked at your watch before) you turn the corner and enter the mail room of your very large apartment building where (unbeknownst to either of you)…you both now live…

…with spouses that neither of you love anymore or even like very much…and…

Jake is standing there looking at the cover of the current issue of US Weekly and he looks up and sees you…

And…you pause for only a split second and then slowly walk the ten feet that separates the two of you…hoping with all your heart that he will open his arms to you…and he does…and neither of your lives will ever be the same again…

And…that is a good thing…

…because suddenly…all the years have melted away and he is once again that handsome 18-year-old boy who loved you without measure and transformed your young life in so many ways and you are that enchanting 17-year-old girl who cherished his love and returned it in ways that knew no bounds…

…and now both of you are together again…forever.

You know…like that.

The End.

 

 

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.

 

 

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…

 

 

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.”

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Final Chapter…

The very brave Officer Daniel Nelson, a member of the police force for only three days, swallowed hard and even though he was now looking down the barrel of a very shiny but deadly weapon…he resisted every instinct he had…to pull out his own gun and shoot this obviously demented woman…who could probably end his life and/or his career this very night.

But instead…he took a deep breath and somewhat calmly said…with only a slight quiver in his voice…

“Mrs. Johnson…would you please put your gun down?”

My mother was a sucker for polite young men…so she promptly did exactly what she was asked to do.

And then…from the backyard…Officer Roger Small, who was Officer Nelson’s partner, hollered…

“Hey Danny!!  There’s a dead guy on the back porch!  And he’s wearing a Halloween mask!”

It was the first time that cold, winter night that Gee smiled.

The End.

ASTONISHING

COVID-19 BENEFIT…perhaps…

Here’s the deal.  Today I was taking my daily walk…okay…my almost daily walk.

I had just purchased some really cool looking face masks…HELLO!!!  COVID-19 (in case you were wondering)…..

So I decided on the black and white checked one.    I also had to put on my large black (super cool Ray-Ban) sun glasses because it was……….sunny!!

Since I was starting my walk in an area with no people I just had the mask pulled down below my chin…covering the…you know… “jowls” area.

For those youngsters who may not know (yet) what  jowls are…well good for you!!!..  But please allow me to enlighten you.

They are an area beneath your chin that you will almost assuredly get as you age and will also most assuredly not like hate.

But guess what?  No one could see them!!!   HAH!  (Important only to those who might care about that.)  (I do..on occasion.)

THEN…a couple of people came strolling down the lane towards me…not wearing masks.  Just so you know, I consider people who do not wear masks to be terribly unaware.

So…anyway… I flipped mine up and continued walking.  I wasn’t sure if I knew them…it is a relatively small apartment complex where I live so…I might have.

However, when I walk I keep my head down when people are approaching…I’m not into the stop & chat bit..so we passed each other and no one said anything.

After they passed…it suddenly occurred to me that most of my face had been  covered…I was basically unrecognizable.  I could have been anyone…and…any age!!!

So where is all this taking me?  I can now appear to look as young as I feel with no plastic surgery!!!

So there.  Take that corona virus.  I win.

Have a nice day…

P.S.  Still rocking 134.4 and NO, I AM NOT GIVING UP THAT DAMN CHOCOLATE BAR!!! !!!!!!!!!:)

 

 

 

I am a complete and total failure…

and I’m pretty sure it’s not my fault…

134.4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s the deal.  How is it humanly possible for me to gain weight by just eating only one lousy candy bar…one…that unfortunately I am totally addicted to…every night after dinner?

I really don’t want to eat one every night after dinner!!!!

I love that damn candy bar…what is it…213 calories?

OH STOP!!!!!!!  I HEAR YOU…….

Getting back to “it’s not my fault”…I think that I should do an experiment. 

I believe if I got up and only drank black coffee and water ALL day long for a month…I would still gain weight…if I only ate “my precious”* candy bar for dinner.  I totally believe that!!  

I KNOW I would also probably die…so I won’t be doing that…in case you were wondering…

There are a lot of other things “I totally believe”…but those are tales for another time.

*Did you catch the ‘Lord of the Rings’ reference?  heh heh heh…

Have a nice day…

Chapter One

I slowly opened my eyes.   A little sliver of light was trying to peek through the edge of the shade covering the window in my bedroom that over looked my back yard.  Normally, it was a pleasant light, but this morning it hurt my eyes,  so I quickly closed them again.

A few vivid images of a more than slightly out of control young woman dancing with abandon at Doyle’s last night flashed through my mind like a movie trailer…yeah, that was me.  I winced…a bad movie trailer.

I remember pulling out the little notebook I always carried and then writing down  my observations on all the drunken people around me.

They were dancing and drinking and…being mostly drunk myself…not knowing how pretentious I appeared and in fact…was.

But last night I did not care one straw.

I wondered what nonsense I had thought was so wildly insightful the night before when 4 (maybe more?) whiskey sours had given me such a false sense of importance.  Whatever it was it would be in my notebook.

I carefully and slowly turned my head on my pillow.  Lately I had had too many mornings like this one to know how painful a quick turning of the head could be.

I was…unfortunately…becoming very learned in the art of drinking…

And there it was…lying on my bedside table where I had thrown it last night.

Chapter Two

I had read someplace or perhaps been told by one of my  journalism professors that if you plan on writing “The Great American Novel”…which incidentally, I actually did…you should always carry a notebook or some other kind of recording device with you at all times in order to remember anything you may find memorable.

However…for the past year… weekend mornings had not proven to be very productive… or perhaps just not memorable.

Sometimes I was lucky to just be able to read the scrawls that I had “so importantly” jotted down the night before.  I picked my notebook up and blinked a couple of times to clear my vision.

My little notebook was not the standard reporter’s notebook that I always carried to work each day…stuffed into my messenger bag.

That size notebook would be too bulky to carry into bars or restaurants plus it would attract a lot of attention.

My “little notebook” was small enough to fit into any of my handbags or even the back pocket of my jeans.

These days I almost always just wore jeans and a tee shirt.   The color varied…black or white.  In the winter I added a blazer or jacket.  If I had a meeting…which was rare… I added a scarf.

It was pretty basic…some might even say boring…but it worked for me.

I flipped the notebook open and placed it in front of my half-opened eyes.  Squinting a little, I saw that I had only managed to scrawl on two pages and neither page had any of my trademark exclamation marks…well, well…

Two pages were hardly worth the effort it would take right now to decipher.  I was pretty sure it was just junk anyway…

I had been in a junk mood yesterday.

Chapter Three

It had been the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.  She had been killed instantly by a teenage girl texting a friend.

The girl blew a stop sign going 45 miles an hour and never even braked.  My beloved mom was only 53.

She had been walking home from Peterson’s Java Cup with a medium latte in one hand and the latest copy of US magazine in the other.

The driver’s text said, “I know I’m late will hurry.”

That one short sentence…which wasn’t even a proper sentence…killed my mother instantly.  Gone forever…my ‘mommy’, my teacher and my ‘forever always’ best friend.

That stupid text changed my life in way too many ways.

And so last night…in an ironic tribute to my mother who never drank…I had had too many whiskey sours.   Four?  Maybe 6.  Too many for sure…

Even Doyle’s new bouncer was giving me looks and the bouncers at Doyle’s never give me looks.  I’m the good one.

I seem to recall tossing out some drunken words of philosophy before faithful friend Hannah…ever so gently…pulled me toward the back door exit.  I don’t know…

I actually can’t remember.  But it seems like something I would have done last night.  Crap night.  Junk night.

Do I even remember his name?  I think I met him…

Chapter Four

Head clearing slightly…yes, of course, I knew him…but nope…couldn’t remember his name…but Hannah would.

Having just exited a crummy one-year marriage, she had become superbly single and made it a point to get to know all drop-dead, good looking single men.

Dearest Hannah…excellent co-worker and fellow enthusiastic bar attendee.

She always made it a point to become friendly with the bouncers.  Occasionally…not often…but occasionally…Hannah could get a “little carried away”.

That was when the bar’s ‘friendly force’ was good to know…and if that ‘force’ happened to be handsome and single…it was a plus for Hannah.

Doyle’s new bouncer certainly fell into that category.  He was tall and no stranger to the gym.  He had dark, golden brown skin and intense brown eyes.  There was a small scar on his right cheek.  He also wore no wedding ring which, of course, made Hannah very happy.

But as good-looking as he was, he always looked so serious.  Come to think of it, I had never actually seen him flat-out smile.

I had seen him frown though…even look angry…at me…like last night.  Sigh.  Crap night.

It was about a month ago that he had shown up at Doyle’s.  Hannah always asked the new bouncers to dance…and so after a couple of weeks…she had approached him.

Very few men refused the beautiful Hannah…and yet…

“Bouncers aren’t allowed to dance at Doyle’s,” he politely explained to her.  And that was a complete lie.

Most of them did dance at the beginning of the night.  I think it was just to get the feel of the crowd and to blend in a little.

Then a little later…just for fun and because Hannah dared me…I also asked him to dance.  He had paused for a couple of seconds and I thought he was going to say yes…

But then he said “No.”  And he just walked away.  No polite lie to me.  Nothing.

Maybe it had something to do with my spotting him a couple of days earlier at the Minneapolis Court House where I was doing some follow-up on a story for the newspaper where both Hannah and I worked.

He looked really disheveled and was surrounded by 3 or 4 Minneapolis policemen.  They were all talking and then he looked over and saw me standing there.

I was about to smile that ‘friendly little smile you give people when you don’t really know them all that well…but you don’t want to be rude and ignore them  smile’…you know what I mean?

Then…all of a sudden they put hand cuffs on him and led him into the jail part of the Court House.

I quickly looked away.  But he had seen me.

 

Chapter Six

Don’t worry.  I haven’t lost my mind.  I know you’re probably thinking, “I thought we were talking about someone named Hannah.”  And you’re right…we are.

The names Karla and Hannah refer to the same person.  Also.  I am called “Teddy” when in fact…my real name is…Charlie.  Let me explain.

Hannah and I are both reporters at the Minneapolis Journal.  Currently, we are assigned to cover the  crime beat in  Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs.  Once in a great while we get a by-line for writing an extraordinary story.

In the past couple of years,  both of us have had a few sketchy encounters with readers of the Journal who were pretty angry or upset with the way we had covered a story or…believe it or not…with the general philosophy of the Journal.

These encounters had always taken place in a “bar-like” setting and in all times the ‘upset’ people had downed a few too many ‘bottles of beer’…or whatever…

So last year, my long-time, very good friend Abby,…who is quite absolutely brilliant and devious came up with the idea of what she cleverly called a “protective cloak of anonymity” for Hannah and me…to be used at our discretion.

We both still worked for the Journal but…

“Karla” (Hannah) worked in circulation and “Teddy” (Charlie…me) worked in accounting.  Throw on a title of “Assistant Manager” to these jobs and BINGO…two very boring jobs that did not encourage any further questions other than an occasional complaint to “Karla” about a late delivery.  IKR…

So if “Karla” was asked to leave Doyle’s after one or two more margaritas than was prudent…she would do so…gliding peacefully out the door, into the night and down the block to the Minnehaha Grill.

It was our go-to late night restaurant on the weekends.  Black coffee, pancakes, eggs and bacon…with an occasional side order of hash browns…was our standard order.

And so that is where we had gone last night…because we both knew how bad I would feel the next morning if we did not.

We pretty much had the drinking/partying ritual down to a science.  I know what you’re thinking…not good at all…and…maybe you’re right.

But…regardless…last night was rubbish.

Chapter Seven

I sighed and flipped the notebook back on the night stand.

“I miss you mom,” I whispered.   I closed my eyes but not quite fast enough to stop hot tears from running down my cheeks.  I reached over to grab a Kleenex.  When would this horrible pain go away?

Last year…after a couple of halfhearted attempts…I had finally decided to get my own place.

I had lived at home while I was going to the University of Minnesota in order to save money…and since my mom and I were such good friends…living with her was a pleasure and just pure joy.

But I knew that after I had been working for a while that it was time to get my own house…and…it would be a smart investment for me.

We had had so much fun looking around for places in the Hawthorne area of Minneapolis…the neighborhood where I lived now…where in fact I had been born.

I wanted to get a house close by so I would be able to walk to the same shops and favorite restaurants that I did now…or even walk to mom’s house if I wanted.  Why venture too far away from the nest, right?

But then she had been senselessly killed and my life had been shattered.

I simply could not move.  Dad had died when I was 7 and even though I had only vague memories of him, they were all connected to this house.

I saw a man raking leaves or shoveling snow or walking up the back steps.   But then that  quick puff of memory would float away.

My mom had been a passionate gardener and the yard and boulevard were filled with trees, bushes and flowers that she had raised from little sprouts…just like me.

No.  I wasn’t moving…not for a long time.  Maybe not ever…

Chapter Eight

So…let me properly introduce my best friend Abby…last name Jones…who has been my best friend since kindergarten.

Abby decided (and there would be absolutely no argument) that it was not a good idea for me to be living alone in this big house.

So…she told her mom and dad that it was time for her to leave the family nest.  And she did.

She moved three doors down the block to my second bedroom…the one that overlooks the front yard…and an amazing crab apple tree.

Abby Jones.  Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend like Abby…

One day in fourth grade…during recess…two really mean girls pushed me down into a pile of dirty snow.  My brand-new, beautiful, red winter coat was ruined; stained with salt and wet sludge from the street.

Now when you’re in 3rd grade, you just don’t go crying to the teacher if someone pushes you down.  Right?  Right.  So I told my mom (who most certainly would have gone to see the teacher) that I had slipped on some ice and fallen.

But Abby Jones was my very best friend and she wasn’t just mad at those bullies.  She was fuming.

A couple of days later, she somehow managed to get those two girls alone in the bathroom before school began.  I was the “look-out”…standing just inside the door so I wouldn’t attract attention.

I’m not exactly sure what she said…I couldn’t hear everything…she was talking very quietly.

But I heard the words “mob”, “not really Jones”, “call in a favor”, “not very pretty” and “you’ll be sorry”.

I looked back over my shoulder and the two girls were standing there with their mouths hanging open.  Abby was a pretty awesome storyteller…she watched a lot of TV.

Then she did the classic “I’ll be watching you” bit and put two fingers to her eyes and then pointed them back at the girls…who were frozen in place.

Then…to my horror…I looked closer and saw that Abby had her father’s antique “Wild West” six shooter pistol strapped to her waist under her jacket.  I had seen it hanging on the wall in their den for years…next to an autographed photo of John Wayne.

She pulled the gun out of its holster and did the classic gunslinger twirl…and a real bullet fell out and bounced on the floor.  After one second…both girls threw up.  Hell…I almost threw up.

Abby calmly bent down, picked up the errant bullet, turned on her little Mary Jane patent leather shoes, grabbed my arm and we walked out into the hall just as the bell rang for classes to begin.

“I thought it was empty!” she whispered in my ear…while  grinning from ear to ear.

Introduction of best friend Abby Jones…complete.

Chapter Nine

No one…told anyone…anything…ever.  And I never had any more bullying problems and neither did my little “connected” friend Abby.

What a memory to have with a record hangover. ..but I did smile.  I always smiled when I remembered that story.

I started to roll over.  My head felt too heavy for my neck.  What time was it?  I knew it was Saturday.  Thank God I had it off this week.

But…if I had had to go into work…I would have gone into work.  That’s how it is when you work for a daily newspaper. 

You.  Go.  To.  Work.  Among all the changes in the newspaper business…that’s the one thing that has never changed…unless you could send in your stories digitally from home…but neither Hannah nor I had achieved that status…yet.  We would need a couple more years of seniority before we had that luxury…and privilege.

Right now we had desks and cubes and a computer.   Our editor expected to see us sitting there… at our desks…unless we weren’t out on assignment.

Just like old school…without, of course, the free-wheeling lifestyle enjoyed by most  newspaper reporters of the 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s.

Back then…when newspaper ink really ran in your veins…there were always 2 or 3 bars within walking distance of every newspaper, in every U.S. city…big or small.

The success of those bars depended on how much the reporters and…let’s be totally honest here… pretty much everyone else who worked at the newspaper drank.   

And…to be honest…everyone drank a lot back then.

A Bloody Mary and a cinnamon roll for that morning coffee break?  Of course.  Martinis at lunch?  Why not.  A couple of beers before heading home?  I am surprised you’re even asking…

The office Christmas parties were legend and mostly banned in the mid-sixties.  Actually banned…I wish I could have gone to at least one.  I heard they were outrageous…and great fun!  

Now…to celebrate the Holidays…we get a complimentary (alcohol free) luncheon buffet…and maybe a candy cane.

Chapter Ten

I didn’t sit up.  I wasn’t yet sure how my stomach would react to any movement…and I didn’t want to clean up last night’s “after-drinking, food frenzy”.

I’m pretty sure I liked it the first time and didn’t want to spoil the memory…

Hannah and I almost always closed the bars.  We never left while there was still loud music slamming against the walls and bouncing around our ears…we were “dancing fools”.

We didn’t want to miss a second of the night.  We both worked hard and right now we saw no reason not to play as hard as we worked.

We had both started working for the Journal at the same time…about two years ago.  Hannah had worked for the St. Paul Gazette for almost a year but left after hearing too many rumors that it was folding…it did.

The ink on my journalism degree was still a little wet as I sat down for an interview with the City Editor of the Journal.

Every week the newspaper held a mandatory orientation/tour meeting for all new newspaper employees before they actually starting working.

Hannah and I found ourselves sitting next to each other and as we waiting…began talking about our ‘nail polish art’.  She had little yellow ducks painted on her nails and I had shooting stars painted on mine…we clicked instantly..

Afterward, we both agreed that even though it was only 2:00 in the afternoon, greasy hamburgers and cold beers at The Little Pony, a favorite ‘reporter hang-out’ across the street from the newspaper, sounded like a great idea.  A friendship was born.

Hannah had been married for only a few months when she realized that “oh so foolish” husband Harry was having too much fun on the road as a clothing rep for Nike.  Marriage done and done.

She didn’t believe in second chances and when you saw Hannah…you totally understood why.

She was beautiful inside and out…from head to toe.  Men actually stopped talking when she walked by them.  She was sweet, friendly, bat-shit smart and shared the title of “best friend” with my new house-mate, Abby…who was now yelling at me from the living room.

“Charlie!!  Are you awake yet??  Her voice…even from far away…made my brain hurt.

“I’m going over to Jack’s for some cinnamon rolls…and other stuff….”  Abby’s voice was way too cheery for me this morning…not to mention way too loud.

“I’m up,” I whispered loudly toward my open bedroom door and then I hear the front door slam.  Ouch.

Chapter 15

I spotted an envelope lying on the bench on the other side of the carrier.  I reached for it and opened it without even thinking once…much less twice

Hey…I was in this…whatever this was. The note read:

“Her name is Stella.  I adopted her from this place two weeks ago.  She is about two months old.

“I did not know I  was severely allergic to cat hair until after I got her home.  I think she’s pretty smart.  She has been to a vet and she is completely healthy and has had all her shots.

“She is already litter box trained and she is very loving.  I am truly sorry.  And I am very sad.  Please give her back for me.  It’s just too hard for me to do.  Thank you for your trouble.”

And there were two brand-new $100 bills inside the envelope.

“HOLY CRAP!” I exclaimed…rather loudly, I’m afraid…and looked at Stella…who was now looking at me…

“What?  What?  Am I dying?” asked Stella, ever so quietly.

“No, you’re fine,” I told her.  “Let me read this again.”  I patted her head a couple of times as I re-read the note.

This must have been his plan all along.  Come to the shelter on a Saturday when they’re busy and just leave the carrier with the note next to someone who looks like a helpful person.

People have always told me I looked very helpful…

Well.  Now I had a situation here… 

One thing I was pretty sure of…this kitten would never want to jog with me around Lake Nokomis every morning…or, let’s be honest…ever.

But…I was also pretty sure that this kitten, now officially named “Stella”, was not going to be brought up to the desk and returned.

I looked around and everyone was busy doing their own thing…mostly filling out forms. 

Even my previous loud exclamation of surprise had not jolted them.  Perfect.  I too…will do my own thing.

I gently pushed Stella’s little head back into the carrier, zipped it closed, tucked the note and the money in my purse and picked up the carrier and headed for the exit…tossing the unfinished application in the trash bin by the door.

Well…I thought.  That was easy.  I didn’t even have to sign any papers  Plus, I vaguely remember reading somewhere that having a cat for a pet was much easier than having a dog.

“Welcome to my life, Stella.”  I said happily and pushed open the door.

“I think I’m cold.” said Stella.  “And really, really hungry.”

Chapter Seventeen

I sat up completely and put my feet on the wooden floor…it was not freezing cold.  To my delight…Abby had remembered to turn the heat up this morning.

You would think that after living in the frigid state of Minnesota for her entire life, Abby would naturally and even unconsciously realize the importance of heat when the outside temperature is struggling to reach -15 below zero…which was the forecast high for today.  But…you would be thinking incorrectly.

Abby…like me…had spent her entire life…living in the comfort and security of her parent’s house and was not accustomed to the inner-workings of a wildly complicated heating/cooling system…as in…turn the heat on when it is cold and turn the air conditioning on when it is hot.

But…I digress…today the floor was toasty warm and therefore…I was happy.

I stood up.  So far so good.  I turned slowly and glanced at myself in my full-length mirror.  I had hung that mirror when I…surprise, surprise… realized at age 12 I didn’t want to look like a boy any more.

Stella wandered back from the bathroom and sat down next to me.  She also looked at the mirror.

“Even with the waviness of this cheap mirror, I don’t look too bad for a completely hungover 24-year-old,” I said optimistically.

Stella…with her head cocked to the side…seemed to be appraising me.

I smiled down at her, looked back at my reflection and then fluffed my short, brown hair, pulled my little side-burns in front of my just a bit too large ears and patted down my always errant bangs which would never…even in the best of circumstances…lay straight.

I patted my cheeks to add some natural color and looked a little closer at the mirror.  Bloodshot eyes.  For sure…sigh.

“Well, Stella…not completely horrible.  But, I do think I should buy a new mirror.”

“Doesn’t drinking alcohol age a person?”

 

Chapter Eighteen

And with that little caustic comment on my lifestyle, Stella was out the bedroom door, gone in search of breakfast #2 or possibly #3.

Abby was in charge of Stella’s meals.  I was in charge of the “result” of Stella’s meals.

Abby often forgot if she fed Stella so she would just feed her again and quite amazingly…Stella continued to look like a teeny 6-month old kitten.

Let it be noted I would kill for that kind of metabolism…

“Only dogs will eat more than they should,” Abby informed me one day as I commented on her opening a second can of Mighty Mouse cat food for Stella’s morning meal.  “Cats know better and will space their food out.”

Stella spaced her food out all right…as much as she could get…whenever she could get it.

Since I had the day off, I had no firm plans except to try to recover from last night…and maybe think about where Hannah and I would go tonight.

That was actually a no-brainer.  We always went to Doyle’s on Saturday night.    Saturday night was “amateur night”.

For the first hour they encouraged and welcomed members of the early bird audience to come up on stage and sing with the band.

They gave you the words and let you sing your little heart out.

This was the real deal.  They even gave you a live mike…hoping like hell you had a somewhat decent voice.

Every Saturday night…Hannah faithfully put her name in the wicker basket that the band placed on the stage.

Hopeful participants would put their names in and wait…full of excitement.. to be chosen.

Hannah had yet to be chosen…going on two years now…

Personally…I thought it was fixed.  I had heard Hannah sing…and so had members of the band at a private, after-hours  Christmas party a couple of years ago.

I had never…in my whole life…heard “Jingle Bells” sung so completely out of tune as I had that night.

“I don’t understand,” she would whine…week after week.  “Who has this much bad luck?

“I know! I know!”  I was always very sympathetic.  “Maybe next week.”   And I would pat her shoulder…just like I did every week.

“I should just give up…” Hannah would say every week…voice dripping with disappointment…

“Really?” I would carefully ask..

And then…because I loved Hannah so much…I would also always say…

“You know…you have such a…pretty voice…”

…which is why Hannah would be putting her name in the basket tonight.

.

Chapter Nineteen

For some reason (insert Stella The Cat here) my pillow ends up on the floor almost every morning.  I bent down to grab it and my head started to seriously pound.

I quickly sat back down on my bed.  The room was not exactly doing the infamous “drunk spin”…but I definitely felt better sitting down.  Crap.  I am such an idiot.

I tried to remember…did I take 2 aspirin before I went to sleep last night?  Because if I did…I should not have such a bad headache.

This was a classic hangover prevention trick that one of the older reporters had shared with me and Hannah  one morning when we were both miserable from a night of partying.  He swore by it and it actually worked…when I remembered to take the damn pills.

“Maybe I have the flu…Jeez Louise… who hopes for the flu?”  I muttered to myself.

“You are so pathetic,” Stella said as she jumped up on my bed.  “The flu.  Indeed.”

“You could be more sympathetic,” I challenged her.  “I take such good care of you.  You are one of my very best friends.”

“One of…?  Well, that’s nice.  I love…being qualified.”

I patted the little bit of golden hair on Stella’s head and then turned to look at my new hair cut in the mirror.

Back in the 60’s there was a geometric hair style called a “Sassoon” named after Vidal Sassoon, the stylist who had created it.  The cut sported very short hair with sharp V sideburns and 2 deep V’s cut in the back.

It was really radical back then so of course every one had loved it. 

And…apparently it was coming back in style..or so said Seth…my favorite stylist.

He has been cutting my hair for about 4 years, and he was not taking no for an answer.  Seth said I had perfect  “little sticky-out ears” that would look so awesome with this new cut.

“You’re gonna look just like Anne Hathaway…” he ventured…

“Whatever….”  I agreed…you just can’t argue with Seth…and Anna Hathaway looked pretty good.

Seth was adorable and very persuasive.  I loved him dearly.  It was too bad he played for the same team.

I heard the back screen door bang and almost felt the blast of freezing air that came rushing  in as Abby pushed open the inside door.

“I have breakfast!” Abby shouted from the kitchen.

Stella’s ears shot straight up at the word “breakfast” and she jumped off the bed and raced through my bedroom door.

“You just ate!  You’re going to get so fat!”  I hollered after her.

“Not me, kiddo…” she shot back…as she raced down the hallway at warp speed…sliding thru the doorway that led into the dining room…and then…

“Abby!!!!  I’ve been waiting so long for you to come back!!!”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake”  said Abby.  “Stop talking to me!!”

I chuckled…even though it hurt…and knew it was time to get moving.

133.8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT…I’m on this.

I realize now that I had forgotten to allow for the “X” Factor” when I was doing my  recent “Hershey” candy bar research…you know…the research that almost left me blind???  (What kind of scientist am I for heaven’s sake?) …

(Well, Tina…you are the “I Am Not a Scientist” kind).

I don’t know exactly what the hell the “X” Factor” is…I may have been partially blind at that point during my research…however…

It is possible that I am the “X Factor”…which would make sense since I have now discovered (I WORK SO HARD FOR THIS DAMN BLOG!!) that the definition of “X Factor” is:

“Telling yourself what you want to hear (or finding facts…however outrageous on Google…((I LOVE YOU, GOOGLE))!!!!) so you can feel really good right now…but will later come to realize that perhaps those ‘facts’ were wrong and that you are a completely idiotic person and you better now stop doing whatever you are doing to get yourself to this point (where you do not want to be)…like…

…RIGHT NOW.”*

*This definition might be slightly flawed…or maybe a little incorrect…or possibly skewered a tad…and…’bat-shit crazy’ will also work here.

Have a nice day…

Chapter Twenty-Two

“Older, white-haired man makes fool of himself trying to flirt with young girls.  SO SAD…”  He could be their father”

“Our oh so handsome  bouncer gently removes slightly out-of-control female drinker quietly and efficiently.  Five star to whatever his name is…”

“You aren’t talking about you or Hannah here…right?” asks a worried Abby…her coffee cup pausing halfway to her mouth.

I gave her a withering glance as I looked up from my notebook.

“Hey don’t get so huffy…I just thought I’d ask,”  Abby said with a little smile.

“Hannah can get a little too ‘joyous’…as we all know.  Please continue.”

“Two phony looking but very cute,  guys  about 21-25 enter the bar near closing, looking for a couple of mostly drunk young ladies they could quickly impress for a little action after last call.  They look over at me and Hannah and we both roll our eyes.  They move on and continue looking.”

“Bobby looks at me while he is singing a love song and then he winks at me when he’s done.  I wish he would ask me out!.” 

I hear a low groan from Abby.  She is not at all fond of Bobby, lead singer in Doyle’s house band., The Continentals.

“Jake comes over and sits down.  He takes my hand in his and is just about to ask me something when we hear a loud crash from across the room.  Trouble somewhere and he leaves.”

“He’s married, you know…Hannah and I both agree.” says Abby very pointedly.  “He is absolutely married and you are being a total fool…just saying…”

I ignore her comment completely.

“And that is almost it.”  I pause and close the notebook and take a bite of my roll and glance out at our snow-covered back yard.

It was January in Minnesota and this year we have three or four feet of snow in the backyard.  I was just about to explain the ‘almost’ part…when Abby started talking.

“I have two very important things to say,” said Abby.

“One.  Doesn’t Bobby already have a girlfriend or maybe three?  And…I agree completely with Hannah…who can spot a married man a mile away…Jake is married.”

“Well…” I argued, “Bobby is the lead singer of the band and also extremely good looking…and that means he has lots of girls…you know…like groupies…always hanging around the stage…and him”

“But…I think he really likes me.  He always goes out of his way to say ‘Hi’ when Hannah and I come to Doyle’s for their Wednesday lunch buffet.  Sometimes he even stops practice to come over to talk to us…you can ask Hannah!”

I knew I was sounding pretty lame…and pretty thirteen-oldish…but still…

Abby scoffed…and continued talking.

“And…and the second thing…Jake Marlowe …”

“Stop.”  I ordered, holding up my hand to silence her.

“I know both of you guys have my best interests at heart, blah, blah, blah.  But…just because Jake hasn’t really asked me out on a proper date and just wants to go for a drive down to the Lakes after closing means nothing.”

“I think it would be romantic.  He doesn’t get a lot of free time and I have a job too.  We could really get to know each other.”

I took another bite of my roll and looked defiantly at Abby…who countered…as I knew she would.  She was Abby Jones, after all.

“And yet…you haven’t gone with him ‘down to the lakes’.  Why?”  Abby questioned, tilting her head to the side.  She looked just like Stella.

“I’m not sure, ” I mumbled.  “But I think I will…soon.  I’m really holding out for Bobby.  I know if I go out with Jake, Bobby will never ask me out.  I don’t think they like each other much.  Plus Jake is kind of like Bobby’s boss…so there’s that.”

“But when Bobby asks me out, I’m telling him my real name and where I work!”

I paused and looked out the back window.  A bright red cardinal had landed on the porch railing and was trying to pick up a piece of bread one of the squirrels had dropped.

I turned back to look at Abby who had stood up to go to the refrigerator.

“Anyway…as I was saying before you interrupted me…just before we left Doyle’s last night, it got a little complicated.”

Chapter Twenty-Four

I took a large bite of my second caramel roll, put it down and then…not thinking… pushed the plate with the half-eaten roll on it in Stella’s direction.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Stella doing a super, slow-motion, low crawl toward the abandoned roll, her tongue hanging out in wild anticipation.

“Oh, no you don’t,” I said and moved the plate out of her reach.

“Foiled!” Stella muttered…and then used her dangling tongue to quickly smooth some errant hairs on her front paws.   With her tail twitching in annoyance, she returned to look out the window.

“You know, Abby,” I said.  “This whole cockamamie fake name thing was all your bright idea.”

“I know, I know,” agreed Abby.  “And I still think it’s a great plan…almost as good as my ‘fourth grade mob’ idea…”   Then she grinned from ear to ear.

I also grinned and patted her hand.

“Nothing will ever top the ‘mob incident’…that was pure genius.  You were brilliant.”

“I was, wasn’t I?” Abby agreed.  “And to think I was but a mere child.”

We both laughed at that never to be forgotten event in our lives.

“You should come out with us once in a while,” I said to Abby.  You don’t have to dance or anything.  You don’t even have to drink.”

“Just sit with Hannah and me.  It would be so much fun.  The band at Doyle’s is great.  Your name could be,” and I paused…thinking of some of my favorite names.

“Annabelle,” I said and slapped my hand on the table.  “I love that name.”

“Okay…that’s never going to happen…” Abby said firmly.  “However… you can remember that for my bachelorette party.  We can all go to Doyle’s and I’ll be Annabelle Jones!”

I sighed…thinking of Abby leaving and pushed that sad thought to the back of my brain…

“So…back to me and my problem.  How does someone know my real name, a name that I never use when I am out at the bars?”

“Do you think in addition to knowing my real name…whoever it is also knows I’m a reporter…and that I work for the Journal?”

“I’m still here…”

You know…I saw this damn virus thing coming around the second week of January…

There was this ever so tiny, two inch article…buried deep on page 5 or 6…in my local newspaper that caught my eye…something along the lines of … and I’m PARAPHRASING here…

MYSTERIOUS VIRUS IN CHINA WILL JUST ABOUT KILL ALL OF US!!!!!

And then I remembered noted University of Minnesota doctor of diseases…Michael Osterholm saying on PBS about a dozen years ago that “SOME HUGE PANDEMIC IS COMING AND DON’T THINK FOR ONE MINUTE THAT I AM WRONG BECAUSE I AM NOT!!!!”

I also remember looking over at my husband and saying…”Wow…who is this dope?”

So I was wrong…shoot me.

Anyway…back to ‘I saw this damn virus thing coming’...

There was something in those few words that led me to Google…Wuhan, China.   (God I love Google…so beats the “Guide to Periodical Literature” for fact finding)…

And there I saw an interesting map with red, not so red, and pink circles, showing how many cases of ‘this new virus’ there were today…and…MORE IMPORTANTLY…how many there were.. yesterday…OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THEN…I Googled…:)…Japan…(Don’t know why..) and saw empty shelves on which toilet paper used to be sitting…and that scared the crap (no pun intended) out of me.

So…long story short…I started buying some “extra” toilet paper and enough food to last…for enough time.

BUT…I have not been able to “BE WHO I AM” and so…I have not lost any more  weight…AND IN FACT…have gained A POUND!!!!!!!!!!

But…here’s the deal.  You know how when you go to prison for doing some really horrible stuff?

And then they’re going to “gas you or electrocute you or inject you (not with disinfectant…I might add…lol) with poison? …you know…to kill you?

Well, they ALSO  let you have your favorite meal the night before…right?

RIGHT???  You bet they do…

Have a nice day…

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Complicated and drawn out conversations were not Stella’s cup of tea.

She tended to stare off into space if I talked too long…and in Stella’s world…too long was defined as one or two minutes.  A yawn often escaped.

“I wonder,” I said, as I scratched behind her ears, “if this beautiful rose is connected to the someone who said ‘good-by, Charlie’…or whatever…to me last night?”

“And…how did that someone know my real name?  We still haven’t figured out that mystery.”

“I should call Hannah and see if she remembers if anything out of he ordinary  happened last night.  Or…even better…maybe she even knows who shouted out my name.”

“She’s still sleeping, I bet,” said Stella.

I continued…

“…because I’m so sure this rose has something to do with last night…”

“Of course, she had been pretty busy with that cute cop that wandered in around midnight.  I vaguely remember he was pretty interested in her too.”

“You know she’s asleep.” persisted Stella.

“So you say.   I should call her anyway to see if she still  plans to go to that party tonight at that after-hours place.”

“I thought you were done going to those places…didn’t the cops raid one of them a couple of weeks ago?”

I ignored her comment…even though I knew it was correct.

I totally knew neither Hannah nor I should go to any after-hours clubs.   If they got raided while we were there, we could lose our jobs.  Hell… we would lose our jobs.

Sometimes it sucks to be young and have a really great job.  You have to be so responsible.

“You weren’t very responsible last night.” said Stella.

“I know.  I know.  That…was the last time…for sure.  I promise.”

“I’ll be keeping track.” said Stella.

I pulled her close and nuzzled the top of her little furry head.

What I really wanted to do tonight, was to just stay home with Stella.

I would curl up on the sofa…eat hot buttered and generously salted popcorn, followed by my favorite ice cream, Haagen-Dazs Belgium Chocolate…and…watch the ‘Gilmore Girls’.  Again.

“I love the ‘Gilmore Girls'” sighed Stella.

Chapter Thirty-Two

LATER THAT NIGHT…

I was leaving Doyle’s a good twenty minutes after closing.

Everyone else had cleared out.  I had sent Hannah on her way with her new boyfriend, reassuring her that I was right behind them.  The “new boyfriend” was that cute cop she had met last night.

He was new to the Minneapolis ‘cop shop’…neither Hannah nor I had seen him before….and he was drop dead good-looking.  Hannah was absolutely on fire about him.

She had talked of no one and nothing else all the way to Doyle’s…wondering if he would show up tonight like he had promised.

She had also told him that she would probably be singing with the band.  Oh.  My.

They had been inseparable since the minute we had walked in.

I never got a chance to ask her if she knew who had called out my name last night during my rather sketchy departure.

To be brutally honest…I was a little embarrassed to admit…even to Hannah…that I was drawing a blank about some of last night’s activities.  It’s pretty scary when you don’t remember…

Just as we were all getting up to leave, I realized that I did not have my favorite pen…the one that I always use to take notes.

I told Hannah and her “little detective”…to take off since I was sure I would find it shortly.

I searched my purse again…for the umpteenth time and was not looking forward to pawing thru the rubble on the floor but I knew that was my next mission.

Even the bright white lights they usually put on to hurry us drinkers out into the forgiving darkness…had now been replaced by the bar’s glowing, red security lights.

At most clubs, when the last note had been played, people quickly left in droves.

There were after-hours parties to go to and “romantic” hook-ups that needed completing.  But…I wasn’t going anywhere until I found that damn pen.

It was an old Peterson family tradition to give a 14 KT Gold Cross pen to your son or daughter at their high school graduation.

Even though my dad knew he wouldn’t be able to do this himself…he had died when I was seven…he had instructed my mom to to buy one and give it to me on the day I graduated from Hamilton High School.

I was not leaving Doyle’s without that pen.

As I was searching around underneath the nearby tables, I finally found it under a bunch of grubby napkins.  Gross…

When I stood up from the floor, I felt a little dizzy so I sat down in a nearby chair  and waited for my head to clear.

Chapter Thirty-Six…The Final Chapter

“Charlie!  It’s okay.  I’m a police officer…I’m an undercover cop, MPD.  My name is Mike.  Mike Foster.”  The words were clear and simple and strong…meant to be calming.

His voice…it sounded so familiar…and then it slowly dawned on me.

It was the same voice as the one who had asked me last night if I was “driving home”.  I now remembered Hannah whispering in my ear…

“That Mike is sure a cutie.” Hannah had said, referring to Doyle’s cute , new bouncer as she had guided ‘my drunken self’ out the door.

I slowly turned around and looked up.  It was him.  My mind raced… no wonder he was with all those cops at the court house.  Of course.  He must have seen me and didn’t want to take a chance on blowing his cover.

“Mike…” I murmured under my breath.  “Right…”

He let me stand free for a moment as he put his gun away.  I swayed a little and he grabbed my elbow to steady me.

“Hey, take it easy.” he said softly.

Quiet tears of relief started to stream down my cheeks and I started to shake.  Shock and the freezing cold began taking their toll on me.

Mike pulled me a little nearer and tried to close up my coat, saying soft, comforting words as he fumbled with the buttons.

Then he stopped and took his hands and lifted my face so he could look me in the eyes…

“Charlie.  It’s all over.  You’re safe now.”  He spoke very slowly, carefully choosing his words… to be sure I understood.

But I was so cold.  I couldn’t stop shivering and I couldn’t stop crying.  I just stood there unable to speak or move.

Graphic images I had seen too many times from crime scenes I’d covered the last couple of years were flashing thru my mind.

I knew just how bad this could have been.

“So cold…” I managed to whisper.

Mike gently pulled me next to him.  His jacket was open and he wrapped his arms and his jacket around me.  I could hear sirens in the distance.

“Thank God I was still here,” he said, his voice ragged with emotion.

I sighed and sank into the safety and warmth of his body.

After a few minutes, my tears stopped and I was shaking less.  But I didn’t want to leave the warmth of Mike’s arms.  And he didn’t appear to be in any hurry to let me go.

I pulled back just a little, looked up and asked, “The rose?”

It was the first time I had ever seen Mike Foster smile.  He had a great smile.

  “The End”

The Paperback Edition…

My bedroom walls are covered with black & white blow-up posters of all the places I would like to visit but will probably not…Paris, London, Gloucestershire, anywhere in Scotland and  Stockholm.

Did I mention that I am just a teeny bit claustrophobic?   Oh.  Well, now you know.  Otherwise normal…very normal.

I also have huge posters of every animal I have ever owned…except for the 4 goldfish I once bought at Sam’s Club.  They actually died before I could come up with exotic names for them…

“Hello, Emma,” I whispered to my sleeping cat…most beloved cat…

She looked up at me from her favorite resting spot…the top of my bed pillow…and smiled.

“Are you going to have your customary glass of red wine tonight, Tobey?” she asked.

Do you think it’s odd to talk for your  pet?  I mean…to give a voice for your pet?Or…perhaps even to have a conversation with your pet? 

Well here’s the deal. If you ever move into an apartment building that has a lot of senior citizens who have pets, you will find that it is not odd at all.  It’s normal…very, very normal.

And besides…if someone asks you a question, it would be rude not to answer…right?

I turned on my bathroom night-light and politely answered Emma’s question.

“Not tonight dearest, I am exhausted.”

I was only able to read for about ten minutes which really ticked me off since the book I was reading was so exciting.

But my eyes were starting to close so I put the book on my night stand, turned off the floor lamp by my bed and cursed because I had forgotten to turn off the hall light.

I dragged myself out of bed and padded down the hall, hit the switch off and cursed again since I was now in almost total darkness…having also forgotten to turn on my living room night-light.  Using the light from the courtyard I went over and turned it on.

I literally staggered back down the hall to my bedroom.

As I sat on the edge of my bed, I apologized to God for being so tired as I said my nightly prayers.

“Dear God.  I’m sorry.  Thank you.  Please help everyone.  Amen.”

I put my head down on the pillow and rolled over on my right side…then I rolled over to my left side…almost unconscious at this point… but then…I rolled back over to my right side…AND THEN…

..here we go…

 

 

 

 

 

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…

The Paperback Edition…

I ran over to my bed and dropped to my knees.  I started pulling out all the under-the-bed bins I used for storage…calling Emma’s name…but only hearing the deafening and increasingly irritating blare of the fire alarm.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks…my heart felt like it was literally breaking.

I sobbed, “Dammit Emma, where are you?  I’m not leaving you!   You’re my best friend, Emma!!   You’re my…my only friend.”

Oh God, I thought…where in the holy hell is she???

I laid full out on my stomach so I could reach farther under my bed and then suddenly I felt that soft fur, so familiar to my touch, and I grabbed a bunch of it and held on tight.  I scooted backwards and dragged Emma out from under the bed.

Her little blue eyes popped open and she looked at me and coughed.

“Did you burn dinner again, Tobey?”

“C’mon you little rascal, we’re blowing this pop stand.”

I sat up and put Emma under my tee-shirt and tucked it into my sleep pants and then pulled the drawstring tight underneath her.

I was only taking little breaths but they all felt like pure  smoke.  The only light in the room was from my laptop on my desk…thank God for battery mode….

With my left hand firmly under Emma, I pulled up the window blinds, climbed up on my desk chair and then onto my desk.  Crouching low, I slid open the window and cold, fresh air rushed in.

I took a couple of deep breaths, backed up to the edge of my desk and then I ran…head and right shoulder down… full force through the screen!

There was so little resistance…I flew through the air!   My butt landed with a smack on a snow-covered bush.

I looked up and there was Fred…shimmering on a snowbank…about three feet away.

“Well…I see you two made it.”

Happy Valentine’s Day…

…to ME!!!

And before you start thinking…”Oh that’s pretty pathetic…selfish…nutso…let me explain.

Even though I am still at 132.2…RATS…and have not (yet) returned to the glory day of January 25, 2020 when I weighed in at 130.6…I AM ALSO NOT AT 141.4 which was my weight LAST February 14…

SO…now what do you think…pretty swell, huh?

I thought you might agree…and I hope you also agree that I deserve a treat…one full-size Hershey bar that has been living in my top drawer for months…waiting just for me.

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Have a nice day…

I Have Already Eaten 2 Cookies…

…and I have only been up for an hour!!!!!!!!!!!…

 

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Okay.  The first cookie was just to see if they were still soft and as wonderful as they were yesterday…and the day before…kind of like a ‘scientific experiment’.  Right?

THEY WERE!!!!  Okay, let me log that in my scientific journal…not.

The second cookie was…was…I have NO DAMN reason for eating the second cookie.

I have less than 10 months to lose 5 pounds and I am sliding down a slippery slope so fast I am dizzy.

I am completely out of control…using ‘old age’ as an excuse for ‘seizing the day’ (and by that I mean eating more cookies).  OMG  What’s next?????

Well, let me tell you…

NFL FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SIX PLUS HOURS OF SITTING…PERHAPS SWEARING…PERHAPS GROANING…PERHAPS CHECKING TO SEE…

IF MY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES ARE STILL SOFT???…

I AM SO SCREWED…

Have a nice day…

 

 

 

 

I will be so mad if I die before I lose 5 MORE pounds…

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St. Peter will not be pleased to see me…

Well, perhaps that is a little strong but SERIOUSLY…I realize that last November 2019 when I had failed to reach 125 lbs….which was my original goal from November 2018… losing 5 more pounds before November 2020 seemed like a  genuine, doable goal.

AND…don’t get me wrong…it is!!!!  I mean…losing 5 pounds in 12 months…pretty easy  stuff.

However, if you happen to reside in the +70 age range, the doability of that goal is a bit sketchy…in that I could “kick the bucket” (so to speak) at any moment.  I feel fine…thanks for asking.

(COMPUTER…DO NOT SPELL CHECK ME …DOABILITY IS A WORD…I DOUBLE  CHECKED…even though not used in most dictionaries…but still).

Every morning I get up and the numbers on the scale vary only an ounce or two up or down…but there doesn’t seem to be a downward trend.

Just a simple request…one tiny, little favor…

…and please understand that I am still very, very grateful that I know what time it is...ALL THE TIME…like now it is 10:09  p.m. CST.

Have a nice day…