Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oh Edward...A Short Story

Weekly Writing Prompt

This one was fun (at least, for me...). For those who don't know what the Weekly Writing Prompt is, basically some cool bloggers (Nicole and Carrie this week) and others post a picture and five words on their blogs each week. Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to write a short story, 500 word max, using both the photo and the five words. Here are the original rules:

1) Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story.
2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3) You have until next Wednesday to link up your post.
4) Link up with your blog hostess when you're done via the inLinkz linky.
5) Have fun, don't stress, let those creative juices flow.

Go to Nicole's site: HERE, or Carrie's site: HERE and post your story. Come on! It's fun! The five words for this week are:


Here's what I came up with. Enjoy!
Oh Edward...

            “Gina! There’s snow on the satellite dish!” William yelled at his wife who took the advantage of a college football game to escape from her husband for a few hours and cozy up (for the third time…) to Volume One of Stephanie Meyer’s world of teenagers, werewolves, angst, love, and redemption.
            “Well, Bill! Go outside and brush it off!” Gina answered back, matching her spouse’s tone, volume, and emotional timber. “Use that invention of yours,” Gina said. The housewife enamored with young adult literature heard her husband get off the couch in a quest to re-establish communication from the game being played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, beamed to a satellite 275 miles above the surface of the earth, then down to their home in Hannibal, Missouri.
            William cursed as he rose from the couch and stomped through the kitchen. He moves pretty fast when he wants to, Gina thought as Meyer’s words transported her to a world of arboreal wonder. “That dish system is worse than cable!” William’s screamed, as he slammed the door to the garage.
            Gina knew William’s string of obscenities would likely continue once he entered the garage and tried to find his homemade satellite cleaning implement stashed somewhere in the clutter. Swear words, muffled through the rather thin walls separating the home from the garage, proved Gina right.
            As she tried again to lose herself in the pages of Ms. Meyer’s story (the title of which is known worldwide…) Gina heard a crash coming from inside the garage. After a moment of silence, William’s profanity began with renewed vigor. If the silence continued, Gina knew her husband was hurt; his resumed tirade told his wife that he was unharmed. Gina next heard the sound of objects being thrown about…a box, a garden hose (maybe…), the bicycle William just had to have but has never rode. That thing must have been buried good, Gina thought as the sound of items becoming airborne continued.
            “Must have found it,” Gina said to herself as she turned yet another page and heard the sound of the garage door opening. William didn’t like being outside, especially in the cold. He’ll get that dish cleaned and he’ll be back soon. Oh Edward…, Gina thought as a printed page gently fell upon one previously read.
            As Edward wooed Bella Gina heard the garage door close, the scraper-thing tossed back into another heap, and the door from the garage to the kitchen open. Her husband had slain the beast—humanity triumphed once again over the cruelness of nature. The wife heard her husband make his way to the couch.
            “You get it cleared off?” Gina asked, her tone exactly matching her indifference.
            “Yeah,” William said as his excess settled into the overburdened furniture. “The snow froze on the dish so I had to chisel it off. “Damn dish! It’s worse than cable!”
            “That’s nice, dear,” his wife responded. Oh, Edward… Gina thought again.

Word Count:  490

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Three Cheers For Farmington City Snow Removal Crews!

As I turned onto my street today after a long shift at work, I was shocked by the scene before my eyes, when, in reality, I shouldn't have been. At the end of our cul-de-sac I saw huge mountains of snow piled high at the end of our street. We had so much snow to move, the city sent not a snowplow today, but a front-end loader.

As many of you know, our winter's been quite productive as far as snow is concerned. We've been hit several times with many epic storms. The snow from the last storm didn't even get a chance to melt before we got hit with freezing rain, then another foot or so of the white stuff.

Through it all, I must commend our local municipality and their diligent crews that have allowed me to drive my little car up a huge hill through all the storms. I was only stranded at the bottom of the hill once, but a an hour or so later, they had the hill plowed and I got home. When I arrived home today two of my sons were climbing the mountains of snow. Why were they climbing them? Because they were there... I just had to snap a few pictures.


It's easy to criticize. I'm sure some of my neighbors are less than satisfied with the job done by the snow removal crews, but for at least one family at the end of a cul-de-sac on the hill in Farmington, I am more than satisfied. Good job men and women driving the big machines!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

State Of Care...Part Of A Story


Last year I had an idea for a story about a potential future world where we might all live. It's always fun to start new stories.

And, as with many of my attempts, the unfinished (and barely begun...) story went into a folder on my desktop and there it has stayed. I thought I'd dust it off and include a portion of the story in today's post. I'd love to hear what you think.

State Of Care

            Leisha rushed to turn off the quickly cooling water. She knew her warm water allotment ended a minute earlier, but she felt like standing in the shower longer in hopes of erasing the memories of the previous day. The electronic brain sealed in an iron box located just inside her front door regulated the water temperature, and after five minutes her time was up. Leisha could have continued her shower for an additional three minutes, but the water would have turned ice cold. After three minutes, the electronic brain shuts off the shower completely. Leisha allowed that to happen only once. She learned her lesson, a lesson she never wanted to experience again.
            "What time is it?" Leisha said to the darkened bathroom, a singular dim fluorescent bulb (its brightness also regulated by the brain*) gave only the necessary illumination to allow the room's occupant to function in a manner for which the room was designed. Leisha glanced to a small clock sitting on the counter. The hands of the vintage timepiece showed 5:45.
            Was that right? Leisha thought. Did she forget to wind the ancient contraband travel clock again? If so, it could be either 5 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. She knew it was still dark outside, but after a fitful night's sleep, she might have rose and showered after only a few hours of interrupted slumber. Leisha grabbed the clock, turned it over and found the winder. She began to gingerly turn the once golden-colored metal key to test for resistance and found the key movement hindered. She must have wound it last night though she didn't remember it now. Leisha stared at the clock, the clicking emanating from inside the plastic and metal contraption soothed Leisha's tired muscles, something the tepid water of the shower failed to do.
            The realization of knowing the correct time caused a deep exhale to come from deep within Leisha's lungs. The woman carefully folded the clock back into its protective case, opened a drawer crammed with feminine health products and underwear, and placed the small package at a point at the very back of the drawer. The soft vibration of the second hand's tick stopped the moment her fingers released the clock and all evidence of the clock's existence disappeared as the drawer closed. It was illegal for Leisha to own the item, an item not connected electronically to the home's brain and―by extension―the network, and if she were caught in possession of the clock, the ramifications would be dire, but to Leisha the risks were worth it. The small item was the only connection she had to her family.
            Leisha stood in the low light of the room and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She stood naked except for the white towel wrapped around her. Her 42-year old body held up pretty well, she thought as she looked more intently at her face. Sure, the wrinkles were there―some there for decades, but the recent thinning of her once thick auburn hair brought the latest health concern. An article she read said hair thinning could be a symptom of a particular nasty disease, a disease she thought she might have, but the same article said it could be something else.
            After a few moments of contemplative thought Leisha left the mirror and her reflection and got dressed.  Leisha already had the outfit she wanted to wear planned out in her mind so dressing went quickly. She knew the home's electricity would shut down at 6 a.m. whether or not she was out of the house. One final look in the mirror, this time a fully dressed woman, and Leisha left the small bathroom wondering if the clothes she chose to wear would have the desired effect on her health advocate, an effect she needed him to see. Maybe this time, she thought. Maybe…
            Leisha briskly walked into the home's small kitchen/dining room/living room/ area and glanced at the black box hanging omnipresent near the front door. A white digital readout showed 5:55 a.m. In another minute the lighted numbers would begin blinking, followed after two minutes by an electronic beeping―a sound meant to be non-offensive and even cheery. It ended up being anything but. Leisha hated those damn beeps and she had only minutes until the thing went off.
            Leisha opened the small refrigerator door and grabbed a paper bag containing her breakfast/lunch. She shut the door, turned and snatched her purse and a packet of paperwork off the kitchen counter, then headed straight for the front door. Leisha threw open the door and was halfway out into the brisk spring air when a terrible thought hit her.
            "My phone!" Leisha whispered. In a mild panic Leisha stopped and searched her purse.
            "It's not here!" Leisha said a little louder. "Where is it?" Now Leisha was scared. She had to get out of the house, not just because of the annoying little beep that would begin any minute, but because if she didn't leave by 6 a.m. she would miss the train and then miss her appointment with Hank, the government man.
            Leisha turned and ran into the house. She threw the paper bundle on a chair and ran into her bedroom. The phone! The phone! The words flashed in Leisha's mind. Where did I leave it? Did I make any calls last night? I don't think so…where is it?
            Leisha looked at the nightstand where some dirty dishes, her electronic reader, and a half-eaten box of crackers sat as if frozen in time from the night before. Leisha looked from the nightstand to the bed, then back to the nightstand where a small black object tucked under the crackers caught her eye.
            "There it is!" Leisha yelled in triumph and she grabbed the phone hitting the box of crackers in the process and spreading the contents on the floor and under the bed. The usually tidy woman barely noticed the flying food as she jammed the small electronic communication device into her purse and left the bedroom. I can't be without my phone, Leisha thought. If being caught with a non-networked clock was bad, being without your phone was extremely serious. Without your phone, the network wouldn't know where you were. It wouldn't be able to make sure you attended all your classes, or trainings, or work shifts. And, most importantly, if the network couldn't pinpoint your location pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Without her phone Leisha's wage allocation wouldn't be transferred into her bank account. Plus, the fact that being without a phone was a criminal offense made Leisha more thankful that she found the phone in time. Leisha grabbed the bundle of paperwork off the chair and left the room just as the first beep erupted from the brain and echoed throughout the empty home. An electronic message from Leisha's phone told the brain that Leisha had left the building and the quiet beeping immediately stopped. With the phone out of the house, all non-essential functions inside the house ceased leaving the residence as active as a tomb.

* Photo used without permission from:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Re-Introduce Myself...I Really Wanted To

A few of the blogs I follow posted a link to Stephen Tremp's blog where he asked people to sign up their own blogs and then on January 28, 2013, or today, everyone who signed up would visit each other's blogs and read them and comment on them. His goal was to get 100 people sign up. He got well over that amount. You can check out his author site: HERE.

When I signed up my little blog, I thought it would be fun to check out other people's blogs. Of course, I forgot that I would be busy from 7am to 5:30pm working, then I had rehearsal from 7pm to 9:30pm. At rehearsal tonight I kept getting e-mail messages that others were checking out my blog. I received several comments and even picked up three followers. For my humble little blog, that's a good day.

It's now late and I have to get up early to work tomorrow so there's no way I can participate in the event like I wanted to. So anyone out there who participated and checked out my blog, I thank you! I'll try and do my best to re-introduce myself at a later time. Goodnight all!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I was told when the costumer met the cast of the show, that she wanted all men to grow out their hair. Ugh, I thought. That's the second time in as many shows that the costumer gave the men in the cast that instruction.

But there was a glint of hope...the costumer said they wanted the show to have a "modern" look. Yesterday I had a chance to speak with the costumer and I casually asked her if I could shave my head? What's more modern than a bald head. I was glad to hear her say, "Yes." Today I buzzed what little hair I had and then removed the rest with a razor.

I had not cut my hair since August 2012, but you'd hardly know it. It really wasn't that long. I didn't like it--it was long and unmanageable. And I couldn't wear a baseball hat like I usually do. I mean, when I can only grow a narrow band of hair that only goes halfway around my head, I might as well shave it all off. Tonight I'm free from the follicle bonds that bound me. Yeah!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Tale Of Two Parking Situations...

Something happened to me that has never happened in the 32 years I have lived on the this street. There were too many cars on our road and it prevented us from getting to our house. The reason for this can be attributed to two things. One, snow from the the huge snow storm we had 2 weeks ago is still on the road, and two, our neighbor is now the bishop of a single's ward and they occasionally come over to hang out.

It was obvious our minivan (with seating for eight...) could in no way maneuver between the cars on the street and so we had a decision to make. We could let everyone out, give the kids the garage door opener so they could get in the house and have my wife go to the neighbor's house and nicely ask one of the drivers to move his/her car so we could drive by and get our van home...


We could do what someone else chose to do when my wife and son went to meeting this morning in another town. That neighbor called the cops and complained because one of the people at the meeting parked their car on the wrong side of the street. Apparently the car was not blocking anything or parked in front of a fire was just parked backwards on the street.

We chose the first option. Sure I had to wait in the car an extra few minutes after getting home late because we had just watched a great production of "Arsenic & Old Lace" with my kids and in-laws (thanks Rita for the tickets!) and I wanted to get home. As I waited I thought about how we could have called the cops, but it was really no big deal. It wasn't my neighbor's fault and it only took a few extra minutes to get home. I can only hope I'll act this way all the time when faced with similar situations.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It Had To Have Airplanes...A Short Story

Weekly Writing Prompt

It's time again for the weekly writing prompt. And it's such a fun and (potentially...) easy thing to do. If you'd like to participate, here's how:

Write a short story 500 words or less.
Use the five randomly chosen words listed below.
Use the picture posted above.
Complete the story by next Tuesday.
Go to these websites: HERE and HERE (thanks Nicole and Carrie!) and link your blog post on theirs.
Sit back and watch the accolades, fame and fortune come rolling in!
Okay, maybe I went a little overboard on that last one...

But is is a lot of fun! Here are the five words for this week's prompt:

Here's my attempt for this week. I hope you enjoy it.
It Had To Have Airplanes

"Jimmy...Jimmy! What are you doing, honey?" Jenny Fairbanks said to her son who had wondered away from his parents. The boy took a moment before he finally looked away from the teal door that for some unknown reason held his attention. Slowly he turned his head and gave his mother an expressionless stare, the same stare she saw almost every day and had seen almost every day since Jimmy was born.

"Come here, dear. Come over to mommy and daddy, okay?" Jimmy obeyed without giving any outer sign that he had even heard his mother's kind words. He walked to them and raised his left hand--always his left hand--and his mother took his hand in hers. The family continued their walk silently down the tree-lined street near their home.

"It's autism; it's not a tragedy." Jenny heard the words of their child psychologist in her mind for the hundredth time since he was diagnosed years earlier. "Children have so many battles to fight. This is Jimmy's. Don't spotlight it, but don't downplay it either. You've got to learn to live with it," he told the confused and nervous parents. Easy for him to say, Jenny thought. It wasn't his son. He didn't have to deal with all the unanswerable questions Jenny and her husband Bill dealt with every day.

The family passed a city park, the sun glistened off the small pond and shown in the family's eyes. "Look at that bird," Jenny said pointing to a pretty turquoise and black bird lazily swimming in the pond. "What is that? A duck?"

"I think it's a mud hen," Bill said with confidence. "You see the mud hen, Jimmy?" Jimmy continued looking forward, his small hand resting comfortably in Jenny's. He did not look at the bird.

Jenny looked at her son, his blue backpack bounced lightly with each step the child took. He never went anywhere without his backpack. Jenny remembered searching for it and remembered trying to find one with airplanes--it had to have airplanes. Ever since the family drove past the airport and noticed Jimmy completely enthralled with a jumbo jet taxiing down the runway, the family knew their son loved airplanes. Though he didn't show it, they somehow knew part of the reason he loved his backpack was because of the planes.

"Oh, look, Jimmy. Someone's playing a guitar," Jenny said as the family spotted a musician in the park, his guitar case open inviting compensation for his talents. This time Jimmy stopped and looked at the player, his flamenco music filled the pollen-laden afternoon air in the park.

"You like that?" Bill asked his son. Jimmy nodded.

Word Count: 445

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Just A Little Freezing Rain...

I know that in some areas the weather phenomenon known as freezing rain is part of something people deal with in winter. 

But not where we live...

Watching the Weather Channel they'll show video of cars sliding down hills or people slipping on a frozen sidewalk and I never really understood just how bad it could be. And then we woke up and all the things we've seen on TV were taking place on the side streets and interstates where we live.

Luckily I left for work before the ice had  gotten too thick. Others were not so fortunate. Many friends relayed stories of overconfident drivers in large 4 x 4 vehicles sliding uncontrolled on the frictionless Utah roads. This is how my car looked after my shift at work today.

When I got home it was warm enough to allow me to clear the driveway of the frozen stuff. It's amazing how several cups of ice melter, gravity, time, and a metal shovel can all work together. And as cool as the roads, driveways, sidewalks, mailboxes and outdoor Christmas lights encased in ice is, the sheen that covered the several feet of snow that is still on the ground from the Gandolf blizzard that his us exactly two weeks ago from today was even cooler (figuratively, that is...).

We don't get freezing rain that often and for that, I am glad.

Glenda Rigby, From Farmington...


When you live in the same town you grew up in, something as simple as a glance down a tree-lined street can flood your mind with memories. If I chose to, I could spend endless hours just remembering how things used to be, how things have changed, and how many who made our town what it is, are gone. As an adult with children of my own, life gets busy and even though I drive the same streets I walked on and biked through and skateboarded over decades earlier, I'm not thinking about those days that have passed--I'm thinking about the present and the future.

And then someone dies. It's not always a death that makes me remember my life as a child. Sometimes it's a windstorm that blows over a huge pine tree. Sometimes it's the local fire department running training maneuvers by purposely burning down an old house, a house where people I knew actually lived in and where I used to visit. Sometimes it's seeing deer tracks in newly fallen snow and I remember seeing a doe and her fawn in the back yard as they made their way up the mountain.

But not many things can force my mind to recall childhood memories like the passing away of one of the town's favorite citizens. Today we said goodbye to Glenda Rigby. I probably haven't seen her for over twenty years, but when I think of her, I think of when I was a child and she read to us on the steps of the old fire station. Of course, it was not the old fire station at the time. I remember her brother who walked the streets of Farmington and we would say hello to him and he would always wave back. Just thinking of those people makes me remember my best friends who have all moved away and have chosen to raise their families in other communities, allowing their children to experience childhood memories where they live, letting them ride their bikes and skateboards on the uneven sidewalks of their hometowns.

As the years come and go, more and more of those we knew would always "be around" no longer are. It makes me realize that the life I knew is forever disappearing as surely as the trees and the buildings and the people we love. Thank you Glenda for reading to me as a small child, and...for everything else.

* Photo used without permission from:
§ Photo used without permission from:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Congrats To Rovali's Ristorante Italiano!

Here's another post for the Vertical Challenge (as part of my "posting both posts on both blogs" series, which will be ending around March, 2013...).

Rovali’s Ristorante Italiano is the winner of last week’s Facebook Like contest! Congratulations to them! We want to thank all the new Facebook “Likes” we picked up over the past two weeks! But don’t let the contest ending to “Like” our Facebook page–we love being able to connect with new people and help make the Vertical Challenge even better!

The 6th Annual Bob’s Vertical Challenge is only 5 weeks away! Now’s the time to get your friends, family, and work colleagues assembled and form teams to compete in this year’s Vertical Challenge. What could be better than spending a day at Snowbasin Ski Resort, one of the country’s best skiing destinations? Not much! And the fact that you’re enjoyment on the slopes with good friends and family helps benefit Scoutreach, the charity arm of the Trapper Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America makes it that much better!

Please join us on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at Snowbasin Ski Resort and be part of Bob’s Vertical Challenge! We’ve got the snow, now all we need is you! For details and sponsorship information, please contact Andrea Abbott, 801.447.4200 or via e-mail:

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Time To Dance...

I dropped my oldest son off today at The Dance Factory, a local place where--for a fee--you can learn how to dance. Many of my son's friends were already involved in the classes and he was asked to join and he did. He takes ballroom dancing lessons once a week.

I envy my son's opportunity, and his willingness to try new things. I think it's impossible not to have children and think back of when we were their age. When I was my son's age the thought of taking a ballroom dance class would have been met with a completely different reaction from that of my son. First I would have been terrified and then to hide the fear, I would have possibly made fun of those in the class. Never to their faces, of course.

But, looking back, I wish I had taken a dance class. There's a lot to learn in such a class and much of it has nothing to do with dancing. My son does a lot of things I wish I would have done. I wonder, if he has the opportunity to have children of his own, if he will look back on his life and think about how things might have turned out different, if only different choices were made. Maybe he won't have as many regrets. We'll see...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rickenbacker's Steak House...Yum!

Two years ago, for my wife's birthday, we decided to try a new restaurant called Rickenbacker's (their website can be found: HERE). My wife's parents joined us and we had a wonderful time. The food was fabulous, and the location was top notch. The restaurant overlooks the Ogden Airport. How cool is that? Very...would be the proper response.

My in-laws called a few weeks ago and wondered if we would like to join them again for dinner to celebrate my wife's birthday this year. Of course...would be the proper response. Last night we ventured out into the cruddy air and had another wonderful time.

It's my understanding that last year the restaurant closed down for a brief period, as restaurants are known to do. Luckily they re-opened and, from what we could tell last night, business was brisk. I hope it remains open.

Looking around, I found they changed the decor a bit. Last time the restaurant had framed photographs of old airplanes and the way the land looked when the Ogden Airport was only a flat field. I could look at those photographs for hours. There are plenty of airplane-themed things to look at if you go, if you like those kinds of things.

I've discussed the building, the decor, but I haven't touched on the food. The food was very, very good, and the most surprising thing to me was how reasonable the prices were. You think a nice steak house and you think meals costing $30 to $50. They did have some expensive meals, but most were under $20...I mean, that's Sizzler prices.

If you haven't gone and are in the area, I highly recommend either Rickenbacker's, or the Doolittle's Deli--haven't eaten there, but heard it's also fantastic. Just food for thought...of food.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The $100 Gallon Of Milk...

A friend of ours calls Costco--the membership, shop in bulk store--the place where you can pick up a $100 gallon of milk. It's not that the gallon costs $100, but it seems impossible to leave the store without spending at least $100.

I believe the person who came up with this tag for Costco was really onto something, namely, she was basically spot on when it comes to the store. Yesterday we needed to pick up milk and printer toner. Of course, other things fell into the cart...things with evil intent. 

We bellied up to the checkout counter and the total for four gallons of milk (plus the evil extras...) totaled almost $100. And, we didn't even get the toner, which cost a cool $65. Many of you may be thinking, "I wish I could only spend $100 each time I go to Costco." And to you I say, "I hear you...I understand."

All in all, the adage proved true. We did spend $100 going to Costco yesterday. But since we bought four gallons of milk, I suppose we could call Costco the place where we can pick up a $25 gallon of milk.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Spam Haikus...A Guest Blog *

 Around 15 years ago I began working for my current employer. There were six of us who began on the same day and of those original six, only two remain. I am the only one who didn't leave and come back.

Why am I explaining this and what does this have to do with Spam? You see, one of the people who started the same day as me had a sister who dabbled in the written word. One day, he gave me an original work written by her, 15 haiku poems. It was titled: Spam Haikus.

I've had these poems in my possession ever since. I'm including them in this blog post, but I must reiterate, these haikus are not from me--oh how I wish I could have written them.

Since the internet can reach almost anyone, if you are the person who wrote these haikus (and I'll know if you are if you can answer a few questions...), or you know this person, please contact me. I would LOVE to give the author credit for these amazing gems.

But, for everyone else, please sit back and enjoy! You'll never think about Spam the same way again.

Spam Haikus

1 Blue can of steel

What promise do you hold?

The salt flesh so ripe

2 Can of metal, slick

Soft center, so cool, moistening

I yearn for your salt

3 Twist, pull the sharp lid

Jerks and cuts me deeply but

Spam, aah, my poultice

4 Silent, former pig

One communal awareness

Myriad pink bricks

5 Clad in metal, proud

No mere salt-curing for you

You are not bacon

6 And who dares mock Spam?

You? You? You are not worthy

Of one rich pink fleck

7 Like some spongy rock

A granite, my piece of Spam

In sunlight on my plate

8 Little slab of meat

In a wash of clear jelly

Now I heat the pan

9 Oh tin of pink meat

I ponder what you may be:

Snout or ear or feet?

10 In the cool morning

I fry up a slab of Spam

A dog barks next door

11 Pink tender morsel

Glistening with salty gel

What the heck is it?

12 Ears, snouts and innards

A homogeneous mass

Pass another slice

13 Old man seeks doctor

"I eat Spam daily," he says.


14 Highly unnatural

The tortured shape of this "food"

A small pink coffin

15 Pink beefy temptress

I can no longer remain


*Photo used without permission from:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Rocky Mountain Inn, Cardston, Alberta, Canada...A Short Story

 The Weekly Writing Prompt

For those unfamiliar with the concept, my interweb friends (their sites can be found here: Nicole, Carrie, and Leanne) have sponsored this little writing exercise. The rules are: 500 word maximum, the story must be posted to Leanne's blog HERE by next Tuesday, and you must use five mandatory words within the story.

This week's mandatory words are:

This one was tricky for me. I began a story yesterday and I just couldn't finish it. I mean, the picture's interesting enough and the words aren't all that difficult, but something didn't click. It wasn't until I had an idea today for the story I wrote that it finally fell in place. I hope you enjoy it!

The Rocky Mountain Inn, Cardston, 
Alberta, Canada

To the management of the Rocky Mountain Inn, Cardston, Alberta, Canada:

I wish to state from the onset that I am disappointed that I must write you this letter. I wish my disappointment could end there, but unfortunately, it cannot. Due to the “service” we received at your establishment, you have made our 19th wedding anniversary one to remember—for all the wrong reasons.

Our first issue has to do with the look of your building. Were you aware that the main entrance of your hotel looks like a giant human-eating monster? Well, it DOES and it scared my poor wife to death when we arrived. She had nightmares each night we were with you. Please fix this. 

Next, we must take issue with a situation we experienced in room 237. The room was a little warm so we opened the window just a crack. During the middle of the night (between my wife’s nightmares…) a pigeon flew in the window and landed on the headboard, which caused us both to wake with a start. The shock of seeing a living, breathing, and—regrettably—a pooping bird in our room caused my wife to scream and bolt upright out of bed. This caused her to tweak her neck, which in turn, required her to sleep with a scarf for stability. The window situation is dangerous, I tell you. You must find a way to keep these rogue pigeons away from women with sensitive necks while staying in your inn. Maybe cats… I’ll leave that decision up to you.

The bed was lumpy, the room was drafty, the pillow mints were horribly undersized, and the bathroom—oh, Heavens! What your call a bathroom fan was hardly that. After my wife’s shower the mirror was covered with bead upon bead of perspiration. She could hardly recognize her reflection when she was done. Thank goodness she packed her travel fan to help lift the humidity from the room. You should either fix the fan or get rid of all that hot water in the showers. This is my opinion, of course, but the lack of hot showers seems to do the trick at our house.

Finally…the bill. I am not a proud man. I have no issue with a business earning a profit or paying for the services my wife and I have accrued, but I do draw the line with tipping for what I determined to be subpar service, and so we did not tip anyone. The looks we garnered from the staff as we departed…well, let’s just say, if looks could kill I would not be around to write you this letter.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions and/or concerns you may have.


Thomas J. Sidwell, Jr.

P.S. See you next year. 

Word Count:  472

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A View Of Cedar...A Slightly Longer Short Story


I wrote this story a few years ago for a writing contest. I never heard back (many of you know how that goes...) so I thought I'd post it here. Hope you like it.

A View Of Cedar

“Dad?” James looks at the digital clock on the car’s radio and notes the time when his son’s meek question signals that the six-year old has awaken from a sound sleep in the back seat of the car. It’s 4:25 a.m. and James had hoped the boy would have slept longer, but this will have to do.
“Dad,” the boy stirs and sits up. James sees the boy’s spiky blond hair more disheveled as usual as his only son peers out the fogged rear passenger window. “Where are we?”
James hears the innocent question and contemplates his answer. “Just driving, son.” He knows the answer lacks specifics, specifics his inquisitive son will need in order to satisfy his ever-expanding brain. The boy’s reaction surprises the tired driver.
“Oh, okay.” James cranes to see the boy in the rearview mirror and is pleased when he sees his son lay back down in the small back seat and pull the blue blanket over his body. Please sleep! James silently prays as if sleep will erase the events of the past 24 hours—will erase memories that James hopes his son never remembers. He checks again and sees the bundle of straw-colored hair poking out of the blanket. The bundle doesn’t move and James knows his son sleeps.
James continues driving. The hauntingly straight road extends for miles, though the car’s lone working headlight illuminates nothing beyond a few feet. If it weren’t for an occasional headlight traveling parallel to him from the opposite direction the moonless night would completely swallow everything in James’s world. The road could suddenly disappear 20 feet from the nose of James’s aging import and James wouldn’t know it until it was too late. James imagines the car not being able to stop in time and the car would plunge off the edge of the world, infinitely falling, and the nightmare that is James’s life would never end.
These and other thoughts swim through James’s mind as the car continues forward. The road on which father and son travel is still foreign to James, he having taken this particular strip of tarmac only a few times in a quest that consumes the man behind the wheel. James again looks in the rearview mirror. His son still sleeps.
The darkness remains as the car heads east, but James sees a thin uneven line as the mountain range in the distance separates earth and sky. James knows the sun will soon lighten both the celestial and telestial forcing the black cloak of secrecy to disappear for another day. Hopefully, I’ll be 200 miles from Vegas by then, James thinks. The further from Nevada’s most populated city, the better. Thoughts of the modern-day Babylon and what remains behind in Vegas sparks a nervousness that runs up James’s spine. James depresses the accelerator closer to the car’s floorboard and the tired Toyota lunges reluctantly forward into the morning dawn.
The world rotates and beams from the stationary sun spike through a dip in the mountain range and hit the cracked windshield as the car continues driving atop the cold desert road. James grabs his sunglasses and puts them to his face as the yellow glow rises in the white morning sky. The glasses and the lowered visor help in allowing James to see the road, but only so much. James engages the car’s windshield washer lever to clean the dirt and grime and bugs long since dead. The wipers dutifully begin swiping back and forth, but James does not see the magical cleaning agent squirt from small rubber nipples on the car’s hood onto the windshield. James curses as he remembers the washer fluid reservoir has been long since dry due to other more important tasks that needed doing. The wipers continue to mix the dried dirt and the carcasses of unlucky insects which creates arched streaks across the windshield further impairing James’s vision.
The sunlight brings with it an increase of fellow commuters traveling both with and against the father and son. After many miles James looks into the back seat and sees the blue blanket move. James thinks of his sleeping son and remembers something. He remembers something he forgot—something important. There is no child seat in the car. Suddenly James scans the no longer straight, but curving road for any hint of a police car. The thought of being pulled over causes the blood in James’s hands to retreat leaving his appendages cold. James grips the steering wheel harder as he unconsciously reduces the car’s speed.
The drive continues uneventful until James again hears his son’s voice.
“Dad?” the voice filters to the front seat followed by the sounds of a child stretching. James’s thinks only of a car seat and where he can buy one.
“Hi dad!” James looks in the rearview mirror and sees his son’s brilliant smile as the boy patiently sits in the middle of the back seat, a deep red line imprinted across his son’s cheek where a vinyl seam from the back seat met his son’s face. The boy’s sleepy eyes convey a tired, but contented look eager to experience the wonders that fill the child’s world.
“Well, good morning,” James says a little louder than he expected. The father looks at the son and all the planning, the worries, and repercussions of his actions over the past week disappear. “Did you have a good sleep?”
“Uh huh,” the son hums.
“Dad? Where are we?”
“We’re driving home,” James replies and the worries begin anew.
“Where’s mom?” the son asks.
James stares ahead. The drone of the semi-bald tires revolving over the road fills the car’s interior space. James prepares to give one of several answers he’s rehearsed thousands of times in his mind. Somehow all his planned answers evaporate from his mind.
            “She’s not coming with us this time. She’s at home—her home.”
            “Oh,” says the son and he looks out the window. The silence makes James sweat.
            “Cows!” the son yells as he spots a herd of large black and white animals lazily grazing in a mountain field by the side of the road. A startled James wonders what his son will think about once the little car crests the upcoming hill and the meadow and the quadrupeds will forever vanish in their rear window.
            “Daddy, I like cows—they look so cool!” James looks in the mirror and sees his young son kneeling on the back seat, his hands perched on the vinyl strip just underneath the passenger side window as he soaks up the visual treat the cows offer. The son makes several sounds, doing his best to mimic the moo of a cow. The sounds make James smile, but only temporarily. The need for a child car seat jumps to his foremost thought. James knows there’s a city 20 or so miles ahead and they will need to stop to make their commute more legal.
            The car reaches the exit, the first of three for the medium-sized town. James takes the business loop frontage road and searches for a store. The child spots the universal sign for fast food and says, “Dad, I’m hungry.” James is hungry, too.
            James pulls into the restaurant’s drive-thru and orders off the breakfast menu. James directs the car to a parking lot next door; the appliance repair shop is not yet open for the day. The two eat their food and say little.
            As they eat, James spots a large supermarket store and he knows two things—that the store is open and has what he needs. He also realizes that he lacks the adequate cash needed to buy the car seat outright. He could put it on his credit card, but the thought scares him. He knows the second that card is scanned anyone looking for him or his son will immediately know his location, and after that, well, it’s only a matter of time.
            James wonders if he can make it to Colorado without the seat. After all, they’re about halfway home. But if he’s pulled over between her in Utah and his home in Colorado Springs, his journey—and his quest, will be over. As James scans the city’s layout from his vantage point atop a slight slope, he notices a Salvation Army sign. The sign (faded and in desperate need of either a new paint job or replacement) stands above a small building (also in desperate need of a new paint job or replacement). James checks his watch and wonders if the thrift store is open. He wanted to be somewhere on I-70 by now, but things happen…
            “You done?” James asks his son. A nodding toe-head answers the father’s question. Wrappers gently fall to the car’s floor as the reliable Toyota merges into the morning traffic and James drives to the second-hand shop. Before they exit the car James pulls out all the available cash he has on hand. He quickly does the math and thinks they might have enough money for gas and food if he can find a car seat under $15. If he can find a seat, he could stop and get some bread and peanut butter at a grocery store as they leave town. That would have to feed them both for the next 8-10 hours, but that’s do-able. If a seat costs more than $15, he couldn’t buy it and he’d have to have to risk the rest of the drive without it.
            James and his son get out of the car and enter the store. Exactly seven minutes later James and his son leave the store and get in the car. Before they drive off in search of a grocery store, James secures his son into the new (to them…) car seat they found because some mother decided that this particular car seat would not adequately protect her child because it was more than two years old. James doesn’t care how old the car seat is as long as it makes any cop between Utah and Colorado ignore them as they drive by. James smiles to himself as climbs into the driver’s seat and cranks the engine, an engine that never—ever failed to turn over for him, even in the Colorado’s coldest winter. With the price of the car seat lower than even he expected, James thinks maybe he could pick up some candy along with the peanut butter sandwiches as a treat for his son. If anything, the little boy deserved at least that.
            The car eventually finds its way to the Interstate-15 on the city’s third exit, or the city’s first exit if coming in from the other way. The two resume their trip. James looks at the clock illuminated in red on the car’s radio. All things considered, James thinks to himself, things are going pretty well. He turns on the radio and hits the SCAN button. After finding a rock music station, a talk radio station, and a lot of static, the radio finds music James prefers. The country music fills the car as James continues driving. The son in a search for more cows happily looks out past his father to the open road ahead, the car seat lifting the child and giving him a higher perspective, which affords him the opportunity to see a panoramic view of his new life.

* Photo used without permission from: