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Day #160: Colette in Crisis

The Story:

Cramped into the tiny space, Colette adjusted her aching knees, trying futilely to find a comfortable position. How long had she been in here? Time seemed to stretch out and away from her like ripples of heat rising off blacktop when viewed from a distance. She knew one thing though, if she didn’t get out of here and soon, she was going to lose it.

As if being imprisoned in this metal deathtrap wasn’t enough she was surrounded by thousands of people, going about their business of enjoying their freedom, completely ignorant to her plight. Colette had tried to call out to them, signal them somehow to solicit help but all her efforts were short-lived and complete failures. No one looked, no one saw. They just zoomed past, completely absorbed in whatever errand forced them on towards innumerable destinations. Colette tried to shut it all out, pretend that she was under the covers in her bed, safe and warm with cold feet being the worst of her troubles. She could almost feel the soft pile of her worn cotton sheets against her cheek before a back spasm catapulted her back to her desperate reality. At least she was able to maneuver her arm enough to rub the arch of her back and somewhat alleviate the pain- thank God for small miracles, and all that.

The metal box that was her prison was noticeably growing hotter with each passing minute- or hour; the two were interchangeable at this point. Having stripped down to just her cotton camisole, Colette leaned closer to the vent that allowed in a little air from the outside world. Swallowing the urge to spew at the stink of putrid air that greeted her nostrils, Colette steeled herself and after a few seconds was able to take in the cooler air, the smell of rot and wet city was almost pleasant now.

Suddenly, Colette was keenly aware that she was no longer alone. Had her captor returned? The thought sat on her brain like an olive skewered to the top of a muffuletta. If they had come back, would she be released or would her tortured be continued in some new unimaginable fashion? The possibilities instantly overloaded her already fatigued mind. A shadow by the door, the handle began to move… Colette could only wait.

“Hey honey, sorry that took so long. For some reason they didn’t have the order I phoned in, so I had to reorder everything, and of course there was a line…anyway, let’s get outta here so we can chow down on some barbeque, what do you say?” Colette’s mother smiled at her as she climbed into the driver’s seat after depositing their takeout in the backseat. After abandoning her in this Volvo-shaped tomb for at least 20 minutes, her mother’s ‘cheery’ demeanor paired with the drool-inducing smell of barbeque that now filled the car was obviously some kind of ploy to win the girl’s trust. Colette just shrugged- best to remain noncommittal in these delicate situations. No doubt her diabolical birth-giver intended to regain Colette’s trust only to dash it against the pavement later in another subversive fashion not slightly removed from outright torture. Cruel woman.

Driving out of the restaurant’s parking lot and into traffic, Colette’s mother whistled along to some vile tune being disgorged from the Volvo’s speakers allowing Colette time to reflect on what horrors might await her once they arrived home, green beans from the can? cleaning out Sniggles’ litter box? emptying the dishwasher?!? Colette shuddered at the possibilities.

Stop being so dramatic, you'll stunt your growth.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      A curse upon cars, the lot of them! After spending my entire evening inside one, trapped as it were- I can honestly say that if I were picked up in my sleep tonight and moved to a locale where there were no cars, or at least fewer of the dumb things I would hug my abductor and never leave such a wondrous place.  Ok, I’m being a little dramatic, but after riding/driving around on Orlando streets during a four-hour thunderstorm, surrounded by the soft-headed sock-puppets that are Orlando drivers I was so wound up by the time I got home I felt like I had just endured some kind of trauma. While I wasn’t trapped and actually elected to ride along/drive tonight, being stuck in a car from 5pm to 9pm and only going approximately 10 miles in any direction took its toll. The story is how I imagine a very dramatic pre-teen cataloging her ‘imprisonment’ in such a situation as her mother runs some errands about town.

That's a great idea... if you're suicidal (Orlando drivers can barely spell bicycle, let alone notice one as they careen down the road 20 miles over the speed limit... just sayin)

TWO:    One of our stops was at 4Rivers Smokehouse in Winter Park, have to keep mama happy while she’s riding shotgun- a bottle of Cheerwine and some fried pickles are definitely one way to do that. Nom… nom… nom… nom….burp!

Love & Squirrels.

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Day #140: Sunday Sunshine to the Rescue!

The Story:

“Drat!” She thought to herself. If she couldn’t free herself from this predicament, and fast, those poor unsuspecting citizens were in for a real unpleasant time. Pulling at her stuck shoe, Sunday Sunshine let out a frustrated grunt… how she had let that no-good Blustery Bill get the one up on her she’ll never know. In all her many days of fighting inclement and nasty weather for her Fair City, armed with her yellow umbrella, Sunday had never been foiled so easily, “By nothing but a common piece of gum, no less!” Sunday groaned and gave her leg another good tug.

She had been on her way to inform the thunderstorm that was fast approaching Fair City that it should consider changing its route or have to deal with her (she could be very persuasive, especially when her charmed umbrella was pointed squarely at whomever she was speaking). Skipping along, as her usual fashion, Sunday Sunshine thought nothing of the STREET CLOSED sign until she found herself in a dark alleyway she had not traveled before. Turning to head back to the main street, Sunday came face to face with her nemesis, that no-good Blustery Bill.

For some reason, Blustery Bill just wasn’t happy unless someone in Fair City was getting the raw end of some bad weather. Whether it be a gust of ill-timed wind to embarrass the Mother Superior of St. Anthony’s, a surprise thunderstorm to ruin a romantic picnic planned for a first date, or if he was in a really foul mood a tornado to destroy someone’s dream home. He was one mean igit, take it from Sunday… she had been dealing with him for longer than she cared to remember.

Now, eye to eye with the creep, Sunday clenched the handle of her umbrella and was about to deal with the sucker once and for all when, with a smirk the coward turned heel and ran. “Guess he finally got some sense knocked into that block of a head of his,” Sunday remembered thinking. Just as she was about to give chase, Sunday realized that she couldn’t move her left leg. She was stuck. Upon closer inspection, she realized what she was up against. Gum. Dirty, stinky, already-been-chewed, ooey, gooey gum. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was Spearmint. Gross.

Storm clouds were beginning to roll in from the west and Sunday knew her time to deflect the monster storm was almost out. Sunday was beginning to worry she wouldn’t be able to stop it in time. Just then she heard a happy whistle floating closer from up the street. Popping into view a cheery girl of about fifteen skipped merrily down the block. “Pardon me miss!” Sunday hollered from her end of the alleyway. Stopping mid-skip, the girl squinted down the darkened alley towards the voice, her lips still pursed for the now-forgotten whistled note. Coming closer to Sunday, the girl asked curiously, “Are you Sunday Sunshine?”.

“Yes, thank goodness your recognize me, I need your help!” Sunday said with great relief.

“Of course I recognize you! You’re a super hero!” The girl stammered a little awkwardly, becoming suddenly shy as she made the declaration.

Sunday blushed, still not completely sure if she really deserved such reverence but quickly recovered and said, “Here, take this,” and she thrust her trusty umbrella into the girl’s hands, “I’m stuck here and I need you to go stop the thunderstorm that is moving into Fair City. If we don’t stop it, it is going to cause tremendous damage to someone’s afternoon plans, and I just can’t stand to see that happen”.

The girl looked down in awe at the legendary yellow umbrella and almost dropped it in her attempt to return it to Sunday saying, “Oh, Miss Sunshine I couldn’t possibly! I wouldn’t know how!”.

Before the girl could go on, Sunday interrupted, “But you must!” she almost yelled at the girl. Continuing in a calmer tone Sunday said, “You can do it, I believe that you can. All you must do is walk to the edge of the storm stand still and point the umbrella at the center of it. With the umbrella pointing you must then say, Thundercloud! I ask you to go away!”. Looking at the sky, Sunday frowned and urged the girl to go quickly, for it would be too late if haste was not made.

As the girl went running to greet the storm, Sunday called out one last piece of advice, “And whatever you do, don’t forget to say please!”. The girl turned and gave the ‘thumbs up’ and then dashed out of sight.

With the storm now out of her control, Sunday turned back to her problem at hand… or rather, at foot. Her foot, swollen from a day of weather battling, was wedged tightly in her boot, impossible to pry out and she soon abandoned the idea of removing the gum-ensnared footwear as an option. As Sunday was attempting to pry her foot away from the gum with a discarded spork she felt the first drops of rain. Thinking that her young charge had failed, Sunday looked up to see a bright and sun-filled day, causing her to furl her brow in confusion. This was a first, rain and sun? She kept waiting for the weather to continue to deteriorate but it never did. It rained, quite hard at times, but all the while the sun shone on. It was quite refreshing actually. Even better, the moisture softened the gum and Sunday was finally able to pry free her imprisoned foot.

Hearing the familiar canter of her young friend, Sunday smiled as the girl skipped towards her, still wielding her yellow umbrella. “You did it!” Sunday exclaimed as she greeted the girl with a giant hug. “So what happened?” she could barely contain her curiosity.

“Oh, Miss Sunshine it was so amazing!” the girl exclaimed triumphantly. “I raced to the edge of the storm, just like you told me to, but when I got there there was already somebody else there. A strange looking boy who was just staring up at the clouds and laughing, it was a little strange to tell you the truth. Well, this boy he sees me running up and with your yellow umbrella, which is almost as recognizable as you are Miss Sunshine, and he asks me what I’m doing there. Well, you didn’t say nothing about talking to no strange boys, Miss Sunshine, so I just ignored him and did like you said. I pointed your yellow umbrella right at that angry-lookin storm and said, Thundercloud! I ask you to go away! And wouldn’t you know it, just as I was saying these exact words, that strange boy shouted out to the storm, Thundercloud! I ask you to stay! Well, I thought for sure that the storm would listen to him, on account of him being so much louder than me and having that flashy costume and all. But then I remembered what else you told me, Miss Sunshine. You told me don’t forget to say please and my momma is always getting after me about minding my manners so I screamed just as loud as I could, PLEASE! And do you know what, Miss Sunshine? I think that storm listened to me! The clouds, they kinda went from a black, murky color to a color more like my mamas’ tea service. Then just as the storm was rolling on its way I chanced a look over at that strange boy. Well, I hope you won’t be put out with me Miss Sunshine, but he looked so sad about the storm going away that I shouted out to the tail-end of the storm and maybe just a little rain for my friend here, if you please? Well, he was just pleased as punch, you could tell, when those first drops fell, and honest Miss Sunshine, I didn’t see the harm in it,” the girl looked a little unsure of herself as she told this last part.

Sunday smiled at the thought of her nemesis going toe-to-toe with this young girl. “No, there’s no harm in it. It actually did a world of good, see?” she said as she pointed to her sticky but freed boot. Sunday wondered if she had been going about her ‘calling’ all wrong. Maybe, she should be working with Blustery Bill and not against him. They could compromise and Fair City would benefit from both of their efforts. It was worth a try, at least. “Come on girly, I’m going to buy you a sundae for all your good work today… hey, what is your name anyway?” Sunday asked as she led the girl to her favorite diner.

The girl smiled shyly before replying, “Summer Showers”.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Today was a typical Florida day, weather wise… surprise thunderstorms followed by cloudless blue skies followed by a sun shower (rain when the sun is shining) and then ending on a kind of cloudy soup of a sky, as if Mother Nature couldn’t decide what to unleash next. Well, after being caught in the rain once, I decided to take along my umbrella as I ran across campus to several meetings. As I was on my way to my next meeting, yellow umbrella in hand, one of the passing faculty commented, “Going to ward off bad weather with that I hope?” (or something like that…). Well, I thought that was appropriate, it did kind of feel like I was wielding some kind of weapon or magical staff… plus I was wearing my big black belt and it totally could be part of a superhero costume. So I began to imagine a super girl, running around town, battling yucky weather with her trusty yellow umbrella. I liked the idea.

Off to fight another needless Florida thunderstorm... come umbrella, let us away!!!

TWO:    While walking to another meeting, umbrella still firmly clutched, I had a misstep… into a freshly discarded piece of chewed gum. Is that one of the worst feelings, or what? Bleck. It is never fun, especially as you are hurrying on to your next appointment and then are literally brought to an abrupt halt. So I thought it could be fun to throw that in to thwart our good-intentioned heroine.

Love & Squirrels.

Day #6: Jerky

Posted on

The Story:

Peering through the rain-obscured car window, Oscar was beginning to suspect the worst… they were lost. Sighing, he averted his attention away from the window, and braced himself against the bizarrely hostile argument now in full swing between his parents in the front seat. These spats always started the same. They would pick out a seemingly meaningless topic, state their differing opinions, civilly at first, and then without fail it would grow increasingly aggressive… which his parents thought were great fun. Oscar, on the other hand, couldn’t stand when his parents argued. When he was smaller he often got caught up in their arguments but now, as a wizened 10-year-old he had learned to cope. By concentrating, Oscar had learned to block out their bickering… he would just retreat into his mind and within a few seconds he was coming up with some story or a silly songs.

Driving in the middle of nowhere, any normal couple would probably by squabbling about how hopelessly lost they were, in the middle of a raging thunderstorm, no less. Frank and Beatrice were not a normal couple. “If it were about fat people, then explain to me why they included the line, ‘stand on their shoulders to retrieve your cat out of a tree,’ huh, Stan? Tell me that!” Oscar’s mother finished with a flourish.

“Well, Beatrice, that’s well and good, but you can’t ignore all the lines about them splashing all the water out of the pool and using them as beanbag chairs? It’s obvious they are singing about people carrying a little something extra around the middle and NOT about giants,” Oscar’s father countered.

Knowing this could go on for hours, Oscar tried to change the subject, “Mom, do you know where we are? I have to go to the bathroom.” Forgetting about the Aquabats instantly, Oscar’s mother turned to him with a look of maternal concern, “I’ll see if we can find a gas station, ok honey? Think you can make it?”, looking over to her husband in the driver seat she continued, “Frank can you plug us into the GPS? Oscar needs a restroom.” “Sure thing, Bea,” looking in the rearview mirror Oscar’s father looked back at him and said, “hang in there pal” and quickly redirected his attention to the road as a bolt of lightning lit up the sky.

Following the pit stop, Frank had the family back on the road in less than 10 minutes, beating his last record. Pulling out of the rest area, Frank searched the GPS for directions back to the highway  and waited for it to calculate.

“Turn Left at 2nd Avenue,” the GPS voice said into the dark car.

“I hate that voice,” Oscar said to no one in particular, “sounds like an alien or something”.

“Go 3.2 miles to Union Park Boulevard.”

“Mom, can you turn the voice thingy off? It’s giving me the willies,” Oscar said, his own voice coming out a bit squeakier than he would have liked. “No Oscar, your father needs to hear the directions so his eyes can stay on the road. Sorry sweetie,” his mom shot him a look of sympathy that did little to quell Oscar’s increasing sense of doom.

“Please make a U-turn at the next available intersection.”

“What did that damn thing say? What has it got me turning around for? Beatrice, take a look at that thing and see what the matter is,” Frank’s notorious irritability was beginning to flare up.

“I’m not sure what I’m looking at here, Frank. You know I don’t know how to use these thingies… I’m just gonna mess it up!” Beatrice said as she jammed her finger at the device.

“Never mind, Bea- I see a roadside shop up ahead, I’ll just pull in there and ask for directions.” Frank put on his blinker and slowed to turn into a small parking lot with a derelict stand-alone structure at the back of the lot.

The adults may not have noticed the sign indicating the type of establishment they were about to enter, but Oscar sure did. About 30 feet in the air, as clear as day (even on a very stormy night) shone a bright white sign which read: Alien Jerky. Parked in front of the small building, Oscar’s alarm was further intensified as he was now eye to eye at a 4-foot sickly green egg-headed alien with only the car’s windshield between them. Suddenly, the menacing figure was illuminated by another bolt of lightning, and Oscar realized it was just a plaster figurine holding a ‘welcome’ sign.

Hopping out of the car to follow his parents inside, Oscar still couldn’t seem to shake the dread that prickled his skin. Inside the store, he shook the rain off and looked for his parents. His mom was nowhere to be found and his father was at the counter talking to a very petite dark-skinned man. Giving the scene another quick scan, Oscar chided himself for being so easily spooked and decided to look for his mother. Strolling through the dusty aisles filled with odd trinkets and jerky touting names and flavors he had never heard of, Oscar was about to give up his search and head back to the counter when movement in the back of the aisle by the wall of refrigerated beverages caught his attention.

Slowly making his way to the spot where he thought the activity had occurred, Oscar looked around again but saw nothing. Shrugging his shoulders, he decided be better grab a drink the road before heading back to the counter. As he reached for the refrigerator door handle, Oscar suddenly froze. Unable to move, unable to process what he was seeing, Oscar simply stared at the scene unfolding behind the rows of chilled Pepsi and Sunkist Orange. In a gap between the stocked rows, someone had failed to refill the row that normally housed Grape Fanta and it now served as a peephole to the back cold storage room of the store.

As Oscar began to regain his facilities, his first thought was to run. RUN. The message took a little longer than he would have liked to get to his feet, but soon he was back-peddling and then running to the front of the store, and to his father. “Dad! DAD!!! We have got to get out of this place! Oh god! Where’s mom? Dad, what are you doing, we have to leave, NOW!” Why wasn’t his dad doing anything? And where was his mother? Oscar looked around the store in a frenzy for any trace of her.

“Dad, you have to find mom and we have to get out of here. Please, dad, listen to me!” tears were now streaming down Oscar’s face.

“Ok, ok, Oscar. Calm down. Well, that’s the last time I let you eat an entire bag of candy corn… sheesh, that sugar has got you acting like a crazy person!” Frank gave his son a tilted grin and turned back to the dark-skinned man behind the counter. “Sorry about that, we’ve been on the road a long time now, and I think the storm has him a little on edge.”

“It is not a problem,” replied the dark-skinned man in a strangely familiar voice. Oscar noticed that his nametag read “Bob”.

“Little boys can sometimes let their imagination get the best of them. It is not a problem,” Bob continued.

“Oh my God,” thought Oscar. “His voice sounds just like our GPS.”

Frank turned to his wide-eyed son who was once again struck immobile and shook his head. “Come on Oscar, we’re leaving.”

“What about Mom!?!?” Oscar almost screamed.

“What about me?” Beatrice had just vacated the single-stall restroom and was now standing directly behind Oscar wiping her hands on her jeans.

Lunging at his mother and throwing his arms around her, Oscar’s relief was palpable.

“Why all the fuss? I just had to take a whizz,” Oscar’s mom always did have a way with words.

Back in the car, Oscar thought he had never been happier than he was the moment the diabolical jerky hut began to shrink in the distance as their car was pointed once again towards the highway.

“What happened in there, anyway, Oscar?” His dad was actually showing a bit of concern as he glanced from the road ahead to his son in the back.

“It’s nothing… it’s just that I saw something, but I couldn’t have. It’s impossible. Just forget it,” in the safety of the car Oscar was beginning to feel a tad ridiculous for his hysterics in the jerky hut.

“Come on son, I need a good story to keep me awake while I drive this last stretch,” Frank shared a glance with Beatrice before looking in the rearview mirror at his son.

“There were aliens back there. Real ones. I know this sounds crazy, but I saw them. They were back in the cooler storage area behind the sodas. They were very small, shorter than me even. Their heads were big though, like a toothpick holding up a tomato, and they were…”

“They were what, son?” Frank was for once appreciative of his son’s overactive imagination; at least it was keeping him alert and entertained while he drove. “They had all sorts of body parts, but they were brown and leathery. I could see an arm and what looked like the top of a leg but it was hard to tell. They were… they were people, dad. And the aliens, they were… they were cutting them into bits and putting them in resealable baggies. I couldn’t make out what the baggies said but it looked like it said “New Chipotle Flavor—“.

“Frank! Watch out!!”

Tire wheels screeched as Frank lost and then recovered control of the vehicle before finally pulling off to the shoulder. Almost strangling himself in the seatbelt he forgot to remove, Frank eventually freed himself and leapt from the car and wretched into the wet grass.

In the parked car, Oscar leaned over the driver seat to make sure his dad was alright and immediately recognized the cause of his father’s violent reaction. Scattered on the vacated drivers seat were the contents of a half-eaten bag of jerky, the wrapper stating in bright yellow letters, “New Chipotle Flavor”.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

Hi everyone, just a heads up that I will be writing (and hopefully posting) from sea for the next several days, I’m on my first cruise! So be patient with me as I attempt to continue uninterrupted.

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE: On the drive to the Miami Port, where we departed for our 4

-night cruise today, I was amazed and dumbfounded by the sign of a local business off of I-95. Needing a bit of sustenance for the drive we pulled off the highway and on our way to Wendy’s saw a sign that read: “Alien Fresh Jerky”. I can’t make this stuff up people (ok, admittedly I probably could, but it’s so much more fun to incorporate the bizarre reality).

TWO: Ever dependant on technology, namely my smart phone, I punched the directions to the port into my phone’s GPS system. At one point, it directed us to get off of I-95 and onto another series of highways which inevitably returned us to I-95 15 or so miles down. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why my “smart” phone would take us on such a seemingly purposeless detour. The detour, incidentally took us on to several toll roads, which prompted me to comment, “this GPS is evil”. Ooooo… that’s good… what if my GPS was evil? What if everybody’s GPS was evil? What if aliens had come up with this system to direct unsuspecting humans to their layer in order to probe them or force them to River dance? Just go with it… that’s what I do.

THREE: Andy and I have this ongoing argument about a particular Aquabats song. If you’ve never listened to the Aquabats, this will probably be lost on you, but look up the song ‘B.F.F.’ and you’ll get an idea of how absurd this argument is. Andy is convinced that this song is about fat people while I, on the other hand, know- yes KNOW, that it is really about giants. We continue to agree to disagree on this point, but the whole conversation (not to mention the song) is so ridiculous I thought it would make for a nice addition to the story.

Love & Squirrels.