Pees [sic] Porridge Hot [uh… really sick]

SUBTITLE: Sonny Sows His Wild Oats

Once upon a time… not too far from the hubbub of The Big Apple… there lived a sophomoric, imbecilic, narcissistic 7-year-old bully named Sonny. One mid-morning he ordered his chauffeur to lead-foot it back to the family estate where… upon entering their zillion dollar, palatial mansion… he immediately began snorting, sniveling and whining…

“Mumsy, why don’t everybody in da hood love me?”

It being a school day, Mumsy just knew her little wittle son was playing hooky. But since his gruff Dadsy typically growled ungrammatically, “Sonny, youse knows more than all dem dummy teachers”, she didn’t DARE even breathe one word re her boy’s habitual truancy. Knowing, too, that she had to take enough time to guard her words, YET, rapidly concoct some sort of a plausible sounding cock and bull story… all the sudden… the figurative light bulb lit up over her noggin. Trying her best not to sound patronizing, said she…

“Sonny, we both know that To Know You is To Love You. So, it only makes sense that to get everyone to love you, all you need do is make sure everyone knows you.”

With Sonny suddenly growing livid… his face flushed into a bright orange hue, he bellowed…

“So you ARE saying that everybody don’t love me!”

“Sonny, we both know that you’re a stable genius who’s never, ever wrong… so… how could I not agree with you?”

“But Mumsy, dem kids should be coming to me. Me going to dem would be too damned much hard work. I know… why doncha call up all their folks and order dem to order all their kids love me?”

Somehow Mumsy fought off the urge to roll her eyes. Once again, thinking on her feet, got her off the hook. The trick, here, was to really “sell” her schmooze the classmates scam to her ne’er-do-well boy. Indeed, to sound even remotely sincere, she’d need to lie through her teeth. And lie she did…

“Sonny, I’ve got a tremendous idea! Why doncha invite all your classmates over for a backyard, Sunday oatmeal brunch? You could even show off your cooking skills… I mean… we both know how you get a kick out of dumping the dry rolled oats into the boiling water.”

“Oh, do I ever! I always pretend each oat is someone I hate. But Mumsy… you got to be kiddin’! Cook for dem commoners? NO WAY! They not worthy of such a feast. Besides, it’d all be too much work. Why doncha order our cook to do it for me?”

“Sonny, you’re too smart not to know that you can’t WOW them unless you’re the Chef who’s cooking up the porridge! I give you my word… they’ll be so impressed by your magnificence that you’ll have them eating out of your hand. They’ll remember you for the rest of their lives. Hell, were you to ever run for President, you could always count on their votes.”

Reluctantly, Sonny agreed… on one condition… that Mumsy had to be the one to send out all the invitations on his behalf. Of course she’d never fess up that she had actually tasked that out to her social secretary. It didn’t take too long for the dozens of RSVP’s to began flooding in.

By the time Sunday finally rolled around… as his guests arrived, Sonny felt elated by the massive turnout. Hell, he estimated crowd attendance to be at least 3 MILLION… possibly up to 30 MILLION! He even caught himself musing…

“Hmm, maybe Mumsy had been right, after all?”

Sonny being the ringleader of his nasty gang, naturally, he did gravitate more to his homies. Of course, it was inevitable that there’d be a couple of scuffles between them and the non gang members… BUT… things began to cool down when the cauldron grew hot… when the boiling, bubbling water told Sonny it was time to dump in the oats!

With nearly the entire student body cheering / chanting rhythmically in time with each stirring, swirling motion of his YUGE spoon, he felt giddy from the outpouring of adulation… even though, in actuality, it was their love of oatmeal… not for Sonny that so inspired them. Anyway, all seemed to be going well.

HOWEVER… towards the end of the five minute cooking time… something just didn’t seem quite right. The porridge was way too thick… way too dry. Dumbfounded Sonny didn’t quite know what to do next. With this being a day off for their entire grounds-keeping crew, there’d be nobody to boss around… nobody to snap to attention and exclaim “Yes Sir!” to his barked out command…

“Uncoil that damned hose and add more water!!!”

Just as Sonny was about to panic, he experienced his own light bulb over the noggin moment… came up with what he deemed to be an ingenious idea! He unzipped his fly and… well… let’s just say he cooked up a Pees Porridge… one that never, ever must be confused with the totally different recipe known as Pease Porridge. Surprisingly, even above the loud piddling noises, audible were the multiple horrified gasps accompanied by the veritable chorus of EEEWWWS!!!

By the time Sonny had zipped up and looked back up, the crowd of kiddies had thinned dramatically… so much so that all who were left were members of his ugly gang.

Naturally, with Sonny being a germ-o-phobe, he absolutely had zero intentions of ever consuming this porridge. However… as for his sycophantic gang? Well, since they knew how easy it would be to PISS OFF Sonny they didn’t DARE turn up their noses. More importantly… they all knew the highest form of praise would be to pretend that nothing was wrong… i.e., that the “alternate facts” told them that Sonny’s unhealthy oatmeal was actually healthy to chow down… no questions asked! And chow down they did!

Well… it is now… some six decades later and we find sicko Sonny and his entire gang of sicko sycophants satisfied by their trade-off of NYC for DC turf! Since these rowdy underlings having, long ago, proven their undying loyalty to their sophomoric, imbecilic, narcissistic boss, he has vowed to never, ever again cook Pees Porridge. After all, for him, it’d be too damned much work! Even so, all of his toadies are still ready, willing and able to take whatever (hopefully figurative) shit he chooses to cook and serve up.

 

 

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The Life and Times of a Posting Prospector

 

INTRO: The PB of this blog’s companion video will enhance our reading experience. So will our allowing virtual narrator Gabby Raconteur’s dramatization to play out in the theater of the mind. Let’s all now give a “listen” to the western frontier tale…

 

The Life and Times of a Posting Prospector

 

As our story unfolds, the sun rises over Dark Canyon. In days of yore, it had been a Wild West, bustling boomtown. These days? Well… DC… no… not THAT DC… has nearly become a rundown ghost town. This faltering community… nestled within Dystopia, USA… is as windswept as the Great Basin desert which surrounds it. It is here that the town-folk harbor a heartbroken spirit as desiccated as the post January ’17, dried up American Dream.

About one dozen miles west of this far-flung locale, we find the crusty, cantankerous curmudgeon, Mr. Merlin Luther, awakening from a fitful sleep… facing down yet another day of metal detector prospecting for silver and gold.

“Life” within this hemmed in by mountains, forgotten by time, ofttimes, telecommunications / internet dead zone is fraught with both online and real world woes. It is that fact which… in the hearts and minds of the locals… has made Merl, a man with a knack for storytelling, a much admired and sought after source of amusement. Words do come easily to him, however, the thoughts they oft convey are not always popular… well… that is… outside of Dark Canyon. Although he is a true blue patriot, he suspects his free-thinking posts have unjustifiably pegged him as disloyal… branded him a reviled, blue-hued pariah… well… at least in the small mind of a particular, peculiar, deplorable, deranged, DC despot… yes… THAT DC / THAT despot.

With last night’s campfire now reduced to smoky ashes, while Merl gathers more firewood and kindling, he feels the icy winds of change in the air. There’s also a dryness in his mouth and pangs of hunger in the pit of his stomach. Now back at his campsite, he folds up his tattered sleeping bag while chawing on beef jerky and crunching on trail mix… eventually washing it all down with a few swigs of Jim Beam™. As he sits atop his makeshift, sleeping bag chair, leaning up against a boulder, he stretches and yawns, rubs the grit from his lifeless eyes and strokes his grey, scraggly, Father Time length beard.

He feels fortunate that his innovative, tech savvy son, Merl Jr…. just prior to headin’ off for the greener, Silicon Valley pastures… had set him up with a couple of his patent pending devices… a wifi turbocharger and mini-solar array… both of which have proven themselves invaluable in keeping Merl Sr’s laptop fully connected and charged at all times.

Logging in, a quick check of the Weather Channel confirms what he already knows… the overnight desert cold will soon be changing over to blistering heat. He next opens his email and… within a nanosecond… is feeling duly pissed. Once again, the ISP and social network big shots are both demanding that he squander his precious time pouring over and agreeing to updated versions of their verbose, arcane, legalese loaded, Terms of Service and Privacy Policies.

Merl, feeling himself heading for an epic, full-blown, intracranial conflagration, opens up a word document and lets his keyboard poised fingers “do the talking” / channel and vent his rage against “the system”. Within fifteen minutes… minus two for… ahem… a behind a cactus pitstop… he is ready to publish his scathing screed. With his typical posting time nearing, he pauses to weigh the pros and cons… all the while wondering if he has overreacted? Merl decides to throw caution to the wind.

But just prior to posting, he proofreads it one last time. Let’s all peer over his shoulder to follow along…

 

 

Upon opening up my email inbox this early a.m., once more, I discovered a couple of those online ultimatums… you know the drill…

“Please read and accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy so you can continue using… BLAH… BLAH… BLAH.”

Firstly… “Please?” Aw shucks pardner… ain’t that sooooo heartwarmin’? As if sugarcoatin’ a demand with pseudo courtesy makes something that’s deep down NOT OK… somehow… some way… ALL OK?

Secondly… you’d have to be a some sort of Pollyanna clone to ever believe that privacy… either online or real world… even exists anywhere… anymore! Not with that veritable alphabet soup of three-letter acronymed spy agencies stumbling about our once great land. Hell, their agents’ Job #1 is to ensure that not one of us can even surreptitiously fart without that “momentous” event getting documented and filed… in triplicate… within our already bulging, computerized dossiers.

Thirdly… we are dealing with power-tripping, in CYA mode, muckety-mucks ISO our validation. Why must we legitimize their illegitimate terms / policies, which rarely, if ever, benefit anyone other than those who authored them? Let’s cut to the chase. What their tossed word salad is really saying is, “We choose to do whatever we damned please and you cannot do one damned thing about it!” One can practically hear their haughty “So theres!” and stuck out tongued, spit spewing Bronx cheers.

Fourthly… just what the hell does the word “agree” even mean, anymore, when it’s obtained by disagreeable coercion? And let’s not forget coercion’s passive cousin, “who” admonishes us that our very act of Logging In is akin to our agreeing to ALL of their mucked up terms… whether or not we’ve even skimmed over them.

Lastly… if we opt not to knuckle under to their high pressure, “my way or the highway” arrogance, the highway will be our reward.

Seeing how my POV could easily offend the ubiquitous, vengeful ISP and social network gods… this could result in my being summarily punished… oh… say… dropkicked out of cyberspace… real world exiled within climate change fried Dark Canyon and Dystopia USA. Fated to spend whatever time I have left stranded and stumbling about this sweltering, windswept, sandstorm prone, hellhole desert… tantalized by mirages of oases ahead… threatened by fanged rattlers aground… stalked by the starving buzzards circling above… birds of prey just “dying” for me to bite the dust.

Well, my friends, if any of you are out there… cruising and crisscrossing Dystopia’s system of crumbling highways and byways… should any of you just happen to find yourselves in the vicinity of DC… Dark Canyon… not THAT other DC… and you spot me staggering about…

Either pull over to rescue me… or… at the very least… try not to make roadkill out of me.

 

ADDENDUM: Hmmm… about the only thing worse than excessively long Terms of Service / Privacy Policy statements are the Terms of my long-read screed. Of course the big diff, here, is that you’ve read this voluntarily!

Even so… please forgive my long-windedness.

 

 

 

 

The “I” of Life’s Storm

 

Preface: For the past twelve years, I’ve called four social network communities home… have befriended countless bloggers who’ve frequently expressed their dissatisfaction with life… two of them at the point of wanting to end their own lives. In both instances, we, their friends/followers, had hopefully, permanently, comment box counseled them into changing their minds; persuaded them to choose life. Even so, I’ve oft wondered about the (not so) strong silent types, who’ve never blogged their cries for help.

If you are someone who is suicidal, know that help is always available. Crisis Center telephone numbers, worldwide, can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.

I’m also presenting the following, hopefully helpful, “real feel” fiction. Written in the more gender neutral, first person singular, this might facilitate everyone seeing life through my protagonist’s eyes?

Of course it’d be far too easy to misconstrue the “I” word to be referring to me, so let me emphasize that it’s my main character who is suicidal. That said…

Let our (your?) story begin…

Part One

Preface: My warmest wishes and welcome to all on this brand new day. I’ve committed my story to this word document in the weeks leading up to my demise. So sorry my tripping down memory lane must start off on a rocky road but trust me, there’ll be several unexpected detours before story’s end. That said…

Throughout most of my life, I was assaulted in various ways. Childhood’s playground bullies mercilessly, verbally punched me out. Adolescent skin problems “punched” me in the face. Adulthood’s workplace time clocks punched me out, too, by enslaving me; emotionally shackling me to non-union, non-living wage, life sucking, dead end jobs; my labors being absolutely alien to my more creative talents.

Not the best way to get into a “I love life”, “let’s party hearty” mood, eh?

Indeed, each post-workday “happy hour” involved crying in my beer. Misery loves company they say? Don’t count on it! In fact, many a time I drank alone; sometimes to excess. Although I had escaped alcoholism, chronic depression did set in. Eventually, a suicidal death seemed to be the perfect gift for the person who, at first glance, seemed to have nothing.

It had been on the day just prior to what might’ve been my last day on Earth, when I got the opportunity to take a second glance. It had been my own mother, who had, unknowingly, come to my rescue.

On that pleasantly sunny, summery, late August afternoon, she had phoned me; asked me to stop by the old homestead to help my father complete some much needed, routine household maintenance. Needless to say, I’d do anything to help my folks. And I’d be totally competent, too, since my handyman dad had successfully taught me all he knew.

Fortunately, it had taken several hours to complete these mundane tasks, for it was while we chatted, at times even reminisced, where something far more meaningful had occurred; my realization that I could never abandon my aged and ailing folks. Suicide averted postponed.

However, it was many years after my folks had passed away when I began to suspect that helping them had been my only purpose in life; discovered that my having been selfless to a fault was at fault; had played a significant role in creating my self-destructive state of mind.

You see, while being their caregiver, I had neglected to take care of myself; had let life’s parade truly pass me by. Family, friends and old co-worker contacts were long gone. Worst of all, I hadn’t paid enough attention to a potential soul mate; thereby squandering my last chance for love, marriage and parenthood?

Topping my list of worsts, this time around, there could be no eleventh hour communing with my parents to snap me out of my deep blue funk. Or could there?

Part Two

On yet another pleasantly sunny, summery, late August afternoon, I found myself, once more, plotting my own death. However, it was while tying up many of life’s loose ends (in particular, loading up the recycling bin for the very last time), when I just happened to pick up a still unread, three-month-old newspaper. Despite the fine layer of dust, a front-page story headline instantly grabbed my attention.

The reportage focused on a suicidal person who had had an “exit Earth” MO eerily similar to mine; that troubled soul winding up a paraplegic who retained just enough awareness to realize the old reality had been far better than that new, bedridden alternate reality.

Stunningly, that story had not ended there. That newspaper had a very specific dateline; none other than the anniversary of my late mother’s birth! In jaw dropping disbelief I realized that, once again, my mom, even in death, had, somehow, found a way to save my life.

Knowing I always did my best thinking while traipsing through wilderness settings, in the weeks ahead, I set forth on many sunrise, Sunday nature walks. With autumn rapidly approaching, I eventually revisited my favorite park; where a recent springtime windstorm had toppled a centuries old oak tree.

While seated on a nearby bench, listening to the white noise of a babbling stream and the off in the distance church bells ringing, I marveled at the persistence of life. In barely two Earthly seasons, this once mighty, towering oak’s still viable root system had transformed that massive stump into a densely leaved shrub. If a mindless tree wanted to live why shouldn’t I?

Turned out someone else shared similar feelings.

Part Three

“That oak just won’t give up,” the approaching, cheerful sounding voice first stated and then asked, “OK if I join you?” Looking up, I replied with my smile and vertical nod. We quickly exchanged introductions and other pleasantries; eventually conversing as if we’d been lifelong friends.

Was it just my imagination or was love at first sight, maybe even love eternal, in the air? Were my feelings mutual or destined to be unrequited; nothing but wishful thinking? Well, it didn’t take long to find out. One year later, with that surviving oak’s lush foliage providing Mother Nature’s backdrop, we were exchanging our out-of-doors “I dos.”

Within that short span of time, my spouse’s circle of friends had become my own; two of them proving to be valuable literary contacts; folks who could and did transform my ages old writing career fantasy into my new reality. Indeed, this freelancer’s essays were getting published, regularly, in a slew of e-mags and in print periodicals.

Before we celebrated our third wedding anniversary we had, twice, become parents. What a joy it has been to eyewitness our own combined, microscopic DNA manifesting itself in macroscopic ways; allowing us to observe all the developmental stages of our children’s lives; their imaginative, carefree, pre-school playtime; their scholastic and extracurricular successes; their career triumphs; their seeking and finding soul mates, falling in love, marrying and starting families of their own.

On yet another pleasantly sunny, summery, late August afternoon (now decades later), I realized how the thinning calendar was analogous to autumn rapidly closing in on my own life.

Part Four

While gazing out our bedroom window, with the sun sinking beneath the horizon, I considered how we all start out restricted to the confines of the womb and our eventual cribs; how (if all is well) our first baby steps, in time, become steady enough to take us wherever we choose to go. Naturally, life’s circle inevitably winds up closing in on itself. First we’re limited to sticking around in our hometowns. Next we stop venturing past our neighborhoods and yards. Towards the end we become shut-ins rarely leaving our hospital / hospice guard railed beds; those, which so closely resemble our days of yore barred cribs. At the very end our remains/cremains wind up in our tombs. As for our souls? Well, what we believe or choose not to believe is left up to each individual.

And, indeed, with old age asserting itself, my final days were now closing in. Just as with newborns, my sleeping hours were beginning to far outnumber my wakeful moments. At that juncture I could no longer be seated at my computer keyboard. I’d have little choice but to merely envision how my final moments of life would be playing out.

I did ask my spouse to read my story after I had died; to comment on, and edit these final paragraphs wherever necessary; i.e., to tell you all how close my predictions (which now follow) were to the actual occurrences.

Spouse’s Commentary: In all honesty, I did read my beloved’s fine essay well in advance. It was my heartfelt intent to ensure my spouse’s final moments would meet (perhaps even exceed) as many expectations as possible. True it’d be impossible for any mere mortal to confirm every element but, my being a spiritual person, I harbor no doubts. That having been said, let’s continue.

Concluding Part Five

Just as my physician had surmised, with only the minimal administration of meds, my natural death’s final moments were now playing out as an eyes-wide-open, relatively pain-free, peaceable cessation of life; where my loving spouse, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, colleagues and other well-wishers had all assembled to see me off. We fondly reminisced and even managed to crack a few jokes.

Indeed, from my having so selflessly “been there to the very end” for both of my parents, all of that good karma had now come back to me; more than a thousandfold.

As a stray tear of joy streamed down my nine decades, wrinkled cheek, I could taste its saltiness on my lips. With a sense of awe, I gazed upon the vast sea of familiar faces; both earthbound and those who now awaited to welcome me in the great beyond. As my spouse leaned in for our “till we meet again” farewell embrace and kiss; our last exchanged dialogue involved the three best words two deeply caring souls have ever expressed to each other:

“I Love You!”

While inhaling Earth’s sweet oxygen for the very last time, I could feel my facial muscles forming my wide grin. I did experience one final, unexpected sensation; my shudder of horror as exhaled my very last words:

“Oh, the truly marvelous, joyous life I had, twice, nearly thrown away!”

 

 

Crisis Center telephone numbers, worldwide, can be found by CLICKING HERE.

 

 

Meet Mr. Greedy, Mr. Grimy & Mr. Groper (99 Word Blog #075)

 

Once upon a time King Grump conferred with his royal advisors… Misters Greedy, Grimy and Groper.

Mr. Greedy advised Grump to continue wallowing in dirty money generated by his dirty corporations.

Mr. Grimy counseled Grump to continue dirtying up his kingdom with the dirty, pollutant byproducts generated by his dirty corporations.

Mr. Groper recommended Grump indulge in some “playtime”, too… keep on being a dirty old man, who degrades and objectifies every woman, whose life (and body) he touches.

Eventually, this greedy, grimy, groping, male chauvinist King irreparably mucked up his entire empire’s economy, ecology and society.

The End!

 

Meet Gangbangers Truncheon and Puma

 

Once upon a time there were two gangbanger hoodlums whose street names were Truncheon and Puma. Actually… both were corrupt, wretched, wicked little boys, who were each vying for absolute power… for total domination of their respective home turf. They were also surreptitiously plotting to overthrow each other.

To that end Truncheon… as his very name suggests… was relying heavily on his swaggering, overbearing, temperamental MO… one where he’d hammer in his wildly unpopular, multifaceted POV… thoughtlessly pummel his nation’s economy, ecology and society while, simultaneously, exhibiting his zero tolerance for dissent.

Indeed, he flat out demanded unconditional love from each and every, average Jane and Joe citizen who he attempted to dominate. In the process all he actually accomplished was wringing out every ounce of hope from anyone who could still think for themselves.

Naturally, these disgruntled and depressed gals and guys fully realized that Truncheon was leading everyone off a cliff… that his rule could only result in a stagnant and retrograde society… perhaps even leading up to an apocalyptic end to said society.

But alas… the knowledgeable were amongst a dying breed.

Additionally, decades worth of Truncheon’s likeminded, predecessor gang leaders and propagandists had laid in the devious, devastating, cancerous, perhaps irreversible groundwork… thereby making any lasting, civilized change everyone could believe in next to impossible to achieve… let alone maintain.

Thereby ensuring Truncheon his absolute power… which corrupts absolutely.

On the other hand, Puma… as his very name suggests… was far more catlike… deviously relying on brains over brawn, stealthy, manipulative, sneaky little shit tactics. He did so, even to the point of sucking up to Truncheon, who ignorantntly, simplistically and erroneously believed Puma to be his staunch ally.

Needless to say… nothing could’ve been further from the truth!

You see… Puma fully realized he could affect a no-shots-fired coup d’état… oust gang leader Truncheon and then casually waltz in to usurp his turf. To accomplish that feat, all Puma had to do was bide his time… sit back and laugh his ass off while watching harebrained Truncheon’s do-it-yourself self-destruction of his nation’s individuals and infrastructure.

The End

Snow Days (Chapter 3)

 

A few houses up Carl and Cathy’s street resided their school’s head custodian, Phil Anders, who was also home on this snow day. His philosophy of life could best be summed up as “Make love AND war!”

As for the “love” element to that phrase, according to the neighborhood grapevine, he and his live-in gal pal were “friends with benefits” decades before that phrase would become popularized. There was even some clever wordplay, which had morphed his name to the nickname, “Philanderer Phil”.

As for the “war” element, this guy harbored “I’m as mad as hell” anger management issues that, a decade later, could’ve easily inspired actor Peter Finch’s portrayal of TV anchorman, Howard Beale in the big screen flick, “Network.”

Indeed, he could’ve spun a sphygmomanometer into perpetual motion and blown his top skyward with such a force, his shiny cranial bone fragments could’ve easily reached escape velocity to create safety issues for 60s era NASA astronauts orbiting the Earth in their Gemini space capsules.

Physically, Phil was a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger (minus the accent) and the Incredible Hulk (minus the green). Were it not for his receding hairline, under dim lighting conditions he could’ve even triggered a few bogus Sasquatch sightings, too. As for battling the winter elements, with such a burly physique, he was a natural.

He was always loaded for bear (loaded on beer, too) and ready to engage any DPW’s snowplow driver who had the gall to “home deliver”… from the roadways to his lower driveway… the mega-tonnage of oft thigh-deep snow and icy sludge.

When in his full-blown wild-man mode, he was not only the maestro of middle digit sign language, but he also had a knack for providing the neighborhood youngsters a liberal education… expanding their vocabulary with words never heard in the Bible… well, at least not his choice, four letter synonyms. His protégés even developed an appreciation for poetry once they heard how well he could form crude couplets involving the words truck, trucking, trucker… well… you get the idea.

On this particular snow day, he even introduced his captive audience to his precision snow shovel hurl event… targeting… you guessed it… the moving DPW truck! With a bit more training, a bit less beer and proper self-promotion, he could’ve created a whole new Winter Olympics event.

Carl could already smell that approaching plow truck’s diesel, hear the telltale Doppler shift effect of its roaring engine and the scraping sounds of blade applied to asphalt when… reverie broken… he returned to the here and now snowstorm… just in time to hear the sounds and catch a whiff of the actual thing.

Gazing up the street through the whiteout conditions, he was just in time to spot the DPW snowplow rounding the bend. Carl could only imagine how Phil would’ve reacted for that madman had passed on decades ago.

Mere moments later, the driver had blocked his driveway with a ton of hefty, heavy, slushy, snow “boulders”. Though sufficiently PO’d to morph into Phil’s persona, he suppressed the urge to reintroduce his snow shovel hurl. He was forced to concede that this was the one and only efficient and cost effective snow removal method available.

So there Carl stood… momentarily leaning on his shovel… figuratively and literally snowed under by the new task at hand. Armed with only his muscles and shovel, for the second time that day, he was again slaving away to clear his lower driveway.

He did chuckle a bit as he caught himself muttering some of the very same profane couplets ol’ Phil had taught him in his younger days.

After a half hour had passed, it was mission accomplished. Even better, the snowfall had eased up a bit, too. Carl was finally heading back for the warmth of his home. Turning the key in the lock, just prior to turning the doorknob, he did linger a moment to take one last look up the street… set his gaze upon the house once occupied by his unforgettable neighbor.

Through the upward wafting frozen clouds of Carl’s exhaled, condensing breath, he offered his thanks to Phil for all those fun, fond memories. And just in case that wild man had, instead, wound up taking the “down escalator” ride, Carl sent those same thanks hellward, too.

 

Snow Days (Chapter 2)

 

The flash of rare winter lightning and subsequent rumble of thunder, as well as a sudden onrush of cold air had briefly snapped Carl back to the present-day snowstorm. A fierce wind gust had also blown his down jacket’s hood backward. Hurriedly refastening the Velcro, he resumed his seemingly endless, snow shoveling routine. As he battled the winter elements, his reverie returned and zeroed in on a long ago snow day of his youth… and, regrettably, that included a childish battle with his dear sister Cathy.

On that particular day, their bickering had gone way beyond the typical sibling rivalry. Adding to the tensions were Carl’s unscrupulous business practices. His devious MO was to sell to her his transistor radio’s used (nearly dead) 9V batteries.

It had been quite by accident that he’d discovered how, after these dry cells had failed, they oftentimes (albeit briefly) came back to life. Ergo, whenever his sibling’s radio went dead, like a circling vulture, he’d swoop down and set up shop. Of course, that day’s snowstorm… one that had rendered the roads into town nearly impassible… made it far easier for him to close the sale. For Cathy, it all boiled down to either buying his shoddy wares or missing out on listening to her fave new Beatles songs.

In feeble defense of his compromised, faltering ethics, he did warn her she was buying used merchandise and, if lucky, she might get up to an hour’s worth of music out of her radio.

However, once her luck ran out… her battery conked out… her justifiable indignation boiled over, which powered her high decibel demands for a full refund… only to be met by her brother’s smug reminder, “Sorry, all sales are final!”

While present day Carl took a breather from his shoveling, he tempered his memories with a grown-up perspective. He realized that a well-timed parental intervention had made him the principled man he had become. He fully credited Mom and Dad’s stern lectures for successfully curing him of his crooked, conman conduct. Had they not?

Well… he could’ve easily morphed into a predatory lender or, perhaps, even some rank, high-ranking, power-tripping, eccentric, egocentric archconservative. Hell… he might’ve even metastasized into a “too big to fail”, global economy plundering, Wall Street bankster and/or tyrannical, egomaniacal, whining, crybaby, capricious, Constitution gutting, corrupt, corporately owned, unpresidential president.

Carl’s thoughts once again bridged the decades… back to that particular snow day of his youth… how he had looked over his left shoulder just in time to catch a glimpse of his own Mom rolling her eyes and slowly, glumly shaking her head side to side.

With his now grown-up perspective, he could totally dig her reaction… even caught himself mimicking her same gestures.

He realized that there are still far too many spoiled rotten boys who never received that much needed, inter-generationally imparted wisdom… and, as such, too many of them were doomed, forever, to remaining little boys, hopelessly, helplessly trapped in adult bodies… that such infantile misbehavior / arrested development represents much of what is wrong in his homeland… indeed… the entire world.

Once again Carl resumed shoveling and remembering… picking up where he had left off…

By that time, young Cathy and Carl’s poor, sleep deprived Dad had realized that there could be no extra ZZZ’s for him. And adding to this already considerable racket, Mom would be revving up her vacuum cleaner; employing this “white noise” as a means to drown everyone out.

So desperate for some peace and quiet, both parents teamed up and used their best con job to convince their kids to go outside and play in the snow. Their logic… what better way to get them to “chill out”? Dad could barely contain his chuckling as he handed them both snow shovels and said, “Have fun kids.”

And once they were out-of-doors, it was only out of parental love that he had resisted the strong temptation to haul out some nails and oak 2 X 4s to hammer barricades across both front and back doors. Of course, the fact that his kids were now unknowingly and obediently clearing the sidewalks and five car length driveway for him could only help get them back into his good graces.

Their labors had also netted them a fringe benefit. The resultant snow piles were the stuff snow forts were made of. Once their opposing “military bases” had been completed, the snowball fights erupted; approaching levels of viciousness that only could’ve been an extension of their earlier indoor skirmish.

It probably would not have even shocked Carl had Cathy gotten one final usage out of all of those used batteries he had sold to her… by hiding them inside her snowball WMD… the sis vs. bro battle “powered” by dead batteries.

Well, eventually, the hostilities subsided. Not unlike Carl’s used batteries, yet another dwindling energy issue had occurred… as the morning had worn on, their sugar buzzes bad worn off.

Just about the time the siblings had gotten the rage out of their systems and declared peace, that’s when aggression of a different nature kicked in… courtesy of their nearby, madman neighbor, Phil Anders.

 

Chapter 3 to be posted tomorrow.