Story for August// had to be hot

HEAT

Jack did a little dance step as he crossed a crack in the sidewalk. He did this for the next fifty feet.
Alan had to walk faster to keep up. “Slow down. What’s your hurry? I’ve never seen you trot to the library before. Those history books will still be there.”
“She’s hot, she’s hot.” He danced across the intersection smiling at the people in the two cars. “She’s hot, really hot.”
“Whoa.” Alan blocked Jack from dancing down the street. “Who’s hot? Who are you talking about?”
“She smiled at me last night. A big smile. She’s really hot.”
Alan nodded as Jack jumped over a crack in the sidewalk. “I assume she will be at the library. What’s her name?”
Jack quit jumping over cracks and began walking normally. He walked ten feet before answering. “Betty.” He walked another ten feet. “I think it’s Betty. It might be Betsy.” He kept walking. “I’m not exactly sure about her name.” He turned toward Alan and grinned. “I remember her smile. She has a really hot smile.”
“You sure her name isn’t Hetty? Teddy? Zetty? Just how long have you known this girl with the magnificent smile.” Alan stopped. “That reminds me of ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.’ Does she by any chance have a dragon tattooed on her shoulder?”
“How would I know that? She had her clothes on in the library.” He slowed for Alan to catch up. “And I’m certainly not going to ask her about any tattoo. She’s hot. Hotter a hot rod with a four-barrel carburetor.”
“Maybe I’ll ask her.”
Jack stopped completely. “Ask her what?”
Alan walked on for five seconds. “If she has a dragon tattoo. She might have one on her rear-end. Now that would be hot. Jack’s girl has dragon tattoo on her rear. Hot. Hot. Hot.”
Jack shook his head. “Don’t ask anything like that. You would embarrass the poor girl to tears. Plus she would never speak to me again.”
Alan ignored Jack’s statement and altered his steps to step on cracks. “Step on crack and never fear, see the girl with the tattooed rear. She’s hot. She’s hot.”
Jack stopped on the first step of the library. “Why don’t you sit at a different table from Betsy and me. I don’t want you to be embarrassed with your lack of knowledge about American history.”
Alan was on the top step before he turned around to face Jack. “What does my knowledge of American history have to do with this hot young thing. Is she some kind of history nerd who looks down on us C-minus students.”
Jack shook his head as he opened the library door. “Betty is a tutor. She is helping me prepare for the mid-term exam. It’s mostly about the Civil War. She says she is highly regarded by her instructor.”
“When you’re hot, you’re hot. The history professor may think she’s hot, too. That’s why she is so highly regarded.”
Jack ignored Alan’s comment. “Just sit at another table. Don’t even look at her. Read the comics in today’s newspaper.” He entered the library leaving Alan standing beside the door.
Alan waited five seconds, just enough time for Jack to find a table. He entered, stood with other students and scanned the room. Jack and the hot girl were not to be seen.
He rubbed his jaw and eyed the four private work rooms on the far wall. He took his time walking around the room to the first door. He peered into the room through the huge window in the door.
The girl looked up and smiled. Thoughts ran through Alan’s mind as he stared through the glass: a smile that went from ear to ear, teeth that glistened, a dimple in just the right place and hair with a well-care-for-wind-blown look. His mind snapped back to normal when she beckoned him in. “She is hot. Real hot.”
Jack twisted around, shaking his head and mouthing a silent no. “What are you doing here? Don’t you have some work to do in your remedial arithmetic class? Multiplication tables or something like that?”
Alan ignored Jack remarks. “Hi, my name is Alan and I need help in Civil War history and Reconstruction.” He held out his hand.
She gave Alan a magnificent smile.
“Jack has done nothing but brag on you all day.” He held her hand a second too long. He released her hand and glanced at Jack. “Aren’t you going to introduce us.”
Jack tried to frown at Alan and smile at the girl at the same time. “I’d like you to meet Mary, my friend and tutor.” He turned back toward Mary, “Alan is an exchange student from Somerset County, so his knowledge of the Civil War is very limited.”
“How nice. I just love the way Somerset natives talk, especially the Smith Islanders.” She leaned toward Alan and gave him a dazzling smile. Her blouse opened a bit. “Any chance of you speaking that awesome dialect? I would give anything to hear it spoken.”
Alan shook his head and tried not to stare. “No, my dialect is strictly Marian Station. But I have been to Smith Island.”
“How quaint. I just love these little villages that keep their village station status like Marian Station and Ironshire Station.”
“Enough.” Jack pushed on Alan with his elbow. “Don’t you have somewhere else to go? There’s a ping-pong table in the basement.”
“No games for me when there’s history to learn. I want to catch up on details from Sherman’s March to the Sea.”
Mary turned a loose-leaf page in her notebook. “General Sherman is not on my lesson plan for today. We are going to go over causes and what led up to the first shots being fired.”
Jack put both elbows on the table. “Yes, we were going over yesterday’s lesson on slavery, so why don’t you hit the road.”
Alan dropped his eyes to Mary’s blouse. “I really loved Rhett and Scarlett. The whole Civil War, especially Sherman’s March to the Sea, is told by their lives. Don’t you think so?”
Mary pulled her blouse together. “I’m not familiar with Rhett and Scarlett. Whoever they are, they had absolutely no bearings on the outcome of the Civil War.” She spoke without smiling. “Don’t you have somewhere else to go? Jack and I want to continue with today’s lesson.”
Jack moved back a few inches. “I kind of liked Rhett and Scarlett, too.”
Alan’s opinion of the girl shifted a hundred and eighty degrees. He smiled widely. “You do know who we are talking about, don’t you? Rhett and Scarlett are in American lore like apple pie and ice cream.”
Mary leaned back and folded both arms across her chest.
Alan moved in like a terrier looking for a bone. “Jack says you have dragon tattooed on your rear-end. Is that right?”
Mary used both thumbs and sent a text message. A few seconds later the door opened.
“I’d like you two to meet my boy friend, Rocky, from the university’s football team. He and I have an important meeting to attend. So this tutor session and all future sessions are canceled.”
The two-hundred-fifty pound defensive lineman smiled, showing a missing front tooth.
Alan jumped on a piece of pine bark on the sidewalk. “Step on the bark, break Jack’s heart.” He stopped at the next crack. “You know, nobody can be hot if they haven’t read Gone With the Wind.”
Jack nodded. “She really wasn’t that good looking either.”

1277 words 7/5/17

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Death

REAPER

Somebody was walking up his sidewalk. He dropped the morning paper on the table and reached for his coffee. He leaned closer to the window. A man wearing a brown toga and hoodie was pulling a woman along in broad daylight. The person was also carrying a huge scythe. In a split second he made up his mind not to answer the door.

“Mr. Jones.” The man pulled a huge smart phone from an inside pocket. “It’s Ralph, isn’t it. Ralph Wilmer Jones.”

“Whoa, not so damn fast.” He spilled a few drops of coffee. “How in the hell did you get in? The screen door was locked and so was the entry door.”

The man waved the phone at Ralph while keeping a tight grip on the woman’s wrist. He ignored Ralph’s question. “I had an appointment with you this morning. Or rather you had an appointment with me.” He consulted his phone again. “At eight this morning and you missed it.”

Ralph slid back a few inches from the breakfast table. “What the hell is going on? Are you crazy?” Ralph was distracted by the woman frantically nodding her head. He tore his eyes from the woman and back to the man. “I was in bed this morning at eight, sleeping like a baby.” He thought for a second. “How did you get in? The doors were locked.”

Again the question was ignored. “You were supposed to have been at the bus stop at eight. We can’t allow this to happen again. My superiors are getting angry and blaming me. I’ve done nothing wrong.” He held up the phone. “My records indicate that this is the fifth time you have failed to keep your appointment. This cannot go on. It has to stop right now.”

Ralph slid back to the wall giving him a narrow escape route. “Where did you escape from? You are a certified lunatic, aren’t you?”

The woman nodded vigorously and tried to pull away.

The man’s phone emitted an ominous church bell sound from an old deserted graveyard. He fumbled with the phone and accidentally released the woman. She bolted into a bedroom, slamming the door, causing a hanging light to sway.

The man made one step toward the bedroom. His phone gave out two peals from an ancient bell. He halted and tapped the phone once. He glanced at Ralph. “I have an appointment to keep. Right now. I can’t waste any more time here.” He walked quickly to the door. “Stay here please, I won’t be too long.” He paused a moment. “And don’t let the woman leave under any circumstances.”

Ralph glanced at the bedroom door for a second. He looked back at the entry door. The man was gone. He sat perfectly still listening. Not a sound. He slowly sipped his coffee and stared at the bedroom door. He walked over and tried the knob. Locked.

He rapped on the door lightly. “You can come out now. He’s gone.”

A faint whisper came back. “Are you sure​? He is sneaky and sly as a fox. Check your sidewalk.”

He waited a few seconds. “I checked. No one there.”

The door flew open. She glanced around the room. A second later, she jumped at him, arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. “We have to leave. Right now. Let’s go to Las Vegas. He’ll be back soon. We don’t want him to find us.”

“Whoa. Stop. What the hell is going on? Who is he? Who are you?” He resisted her pulling him toward the door.

“I’ll explain everything later.” She tugged on his wrist. “There’s a park down the street. Let’s go and I’ll tell you everything there is to know.”

At times she was trotting with a death grip on his wrist. He was panting slightly when she pushed him onto a park bench. “Alright, stop the damn nonsense. First, who is this guy?”

She kept a firm grip on his wrist and took a deep breath. “He’s a Grim Reaper or sometimes just called Death. Let’s go to Vegas.”

Ralph was shaking his head and trying to free his wrist. “How dumb do you think I am? He’s crazy and I’m beginning to believe you are also crazy.”

“No, no. Remember him saying you had cheated him five times. The first time was in the army. You bent over to pick up a dime and the sniper hit the man behind you.” She paused. “Do you remember that? Death told me all about you. The second time you cheated Death was when you got into the wrong taxi. The other taxi exploded and killed the driver and passenger.”

Ralph barely nodded. “I remember those weird incidences.”

“Just this morning you were supposed to be at the bus stop at eight. A man was killed. Death was waiting for you and you stayed in bed. He was extremely angry.” She suddenly hugged Ralph with her head on his shoulder. “Don’t look. Death is walking up your sidewalk. He went in. Now he is in front of your house. He’s furious, he’s jumping up and down shaking both fists at the sky. We should leave for Vegas right now.”

Ralph tried to look but she hugged him tighter. “He’s consulting his phone. He has another appointment to keep. He’s gone.” She relaxed her hug a bit.

Ralph pushed her away roughly. “What in the hell is wrong with you? Who are you?”

“We can go to Las Vegas. Death won’t find us there.”

“Stop talking trash. I don’t believe a word you are saying. Who are you?” Ralph paused a second. “And why was he pulling you along?”

Her shoulders sagged. She looked at the grass at her feet. “I’ve cheated him four times. Last week he came to my home. My husband was supposed to kill me.” She paused too long for Ralph.

“What happened?”

“I killed him.” She kept on quickly. “But it was an accident. I didn’t mean to kill him.”

Ralph slid to the edge of the bench. “Holy cow! You murdered your husband!”

Her voice dropped to a harsh whisper. “I told you it was an accident. He came into the living room with a big shiny pistol. He shot at my head and just missed. He pulled the trigger again but the spent shell hadn’t ejected. His gun was jammed. In the second he was trying to get a new bullet in, I grabbed a fire-place poker. One with the hook on the end for pulling on burning logs. I swung. He fell with the hook buried just above his right eye.”

Ralph shuddered. “What did you do?”

“I ran into the kitchen. There he was. Death was standing in the doorway waiting.”

Ralph looked up and down the street. “What was he waiting for?”

“Death was waiting for me. He was very upset that I was alive and it was my husband who was dead. He said I messed up his appointment book.” She looked at Ralph and squeezed his knee. “Let’s go to Las Vegas. He won’t look for us there.”

“Forget Las Vegas. You just killed your husband. I wouldn’t even go to the next city with you.”

Suddenly Death was standing next to them. “Well, I see you two have found each other. A good pair. Both of you cheated death.”

Ralph tried to see his face. It was hidden in the shadows of the brown cowl. Death idly let his scythe twist back and forth in the sunlight. The reflected light from the blade seemed to stay in Ralph’s eyes.

“Purely accidental. I certainly didn’t mean to screw up your appointments.” Ralph stood and tried to look Death in the face. “You don’t have an appointment with either of us. So why don’t you leave us alone. Go wave the scythe at someone else.”

The scythe spun emitting all the colors of the rainbow. Death was gone.

The woman hugged Ralph tightly. “You were so brave to talk to Death like that.” She moved her lips closer to Ralph’s ear. “Let’s go to Las Vegas. We be safe from him there.”

Ralph hesitated a moment feeling her body heat radiate out to his body. Then he thought, No way. She just killed one man. Death wants her badly and she’s crazy as a bedbug.

He pushed her away. “You can go to Las Vegas by yourself, Sweetheart. Don’t bother me any more.” He walked to his home without a backward glance.

A month went by without incidence. Ralph checked everything. He stood in the doorway of the bus and looked over the riders. He sat and tried to relax. Someone was sitting down beside him.

It was Death. The scythe glittered.

“Go away.” Ralph’s voice wavered and cracked. “You don’t have an appointment with me.”

Death ignored Ralph. He studied his phone. An eternity flew by. Death touched Ralph’s knee. “Something is going to happen at the next stop.”

Ralph’s muscles turned to jelly. His eyes filled with tears as the bus stopped. The woman stepped in carrying a fireplace poker with a hook.

Death touched Ralph again. “I gave her an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas. She was very appreciative.”

1570 6/22/17

http://www.eastcoastwriters.org is the place to go

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Novel

Novel

“Well.” She paused for a short second. “How many words do you have?”

He leaned closer to the computer and didn’t acknowledge her question.

She waited two seconds for an answer. “How many words do you have? You’ve been sitting at that computer for three months. Your novel should be at least a quarter done by now.”

He thought for ways to avoid her question. Five seconds went by. “A lot.”

His wife slowly shook her head. “A lot. What kind of answer is that? It doesn’t tell me beans.”

He studied the screen a few more seconds. “I really don’t know. I haven’t been keeping track of the word count. But I’m sure it quite a lot.”

She was shaking her head the whole time he was talking. “No, no, no. Quite a lot is worthless also.” She moved closer to her husband. “Doesn’t your word processor have a word count icon? What word processor are you using? Microsoft Word? Word Perfect? Something else?” She tried looking over his shoulder. “Regardless, it doesn’t make any difference. All modern word processors have a word count icon.”

He kept his eyes on the screen. “I’m really busy right now. I’d like to finish this page this afternoon.”

“This afternoon! It’s a lovely Saturday afternoon in May. You should be outside working in the garden. I want some big red tomatoes this summer.”

“OK, OK. I’ll roto-till the garden and plant some Better Boy tomatoes just for you.” He paused a second. “How does that sound?”

She nodded but didn’t move away. “I still want to know how many words you have.” She pointed at his computer. “Click on tools at the top of the page and then on word count. Simple as ABC.”

Reluctantly he followed her instructions. “It says 5140.”

“Not very much. You’ll be ten years finishing this thing. Tom Clancy or Mary Higgins Clark would write that much before lunch.”

A few seconds went by. “I’m not trying to be like either one of them. I just want to write my own novel my own way. Since this is my first novel, there are a lot of things I have to learn along the way.”

“I can go along with that.” She nodded faintly. “What type of novel is it going to be? A sci-fi? Historical? Adventure? A murder mystery.” She stopped and smiled briefly. “I hope it’s not going to be one of those Bodice Rippers things? One of those novels where a big hunk of a man always gets the fair maiden on the last page?” She paused again. “Heaven forbid, I hope it’s not one of the porn novels. Think what the neighbors would say.”

He leaned away from the computer for the first time. “No porn. I could write all I know on the first two pages and then be at a total loss for words and ideas.”

She smiled at her husband. “What is it, then? I hope it not a top secret and you can’t tell anyone.”

He ran what he had written and what he hope to write through his mind. “I think it’s going to be a murder mystery. The old hard-boiled detective that Bogart and Mitchum use to play in the movies. The bad guys are going to be like Greenstreet and Lorre.”

“I loved those guys.” She glanced at the computer. “How are you describing them? Is one bad guy going to be big and fat? The other guy short and thin?”

Her husband nodded. “I’ll change some things. I don’t want the reader to think I plagiarized everything.”

“What about the woman?”

“What woman?”

“The woman in your detective story. There is always one there. Sometimes she’s a good guy, sometimes she’s not. Is she tall and willowy like a clothing model?”

He glanced at his tall wife. “Oh, maybe five-foot-seven. But I really haven’t described her yet.”

“Is she sexy?”

He resisted glancing at his wife. “I think so. I’ll make her a combination of Jennifer Jones and Lauren Bacall.”

She nodded in approval. “What about the guy? Your detective? The hero of your novel? Is he sexy?”

He managed to hold back a grin. “I’d like to think so.”

“What does your detective do?” She paused a moment. ‘When does he do his best work?”

He faced his wife. “He does his best work after having sex with a sexy woman on a Saturday afternoon.”

She held out her hand and grinned widely. “That should have been on the first page.”

760 4/24/17

http://www.eastcoastwriters.org is the place to go

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Fool

This was written for the First Saturday Writers.

Fool was the key word to be used in any way, shape or form.

This is my contribution.

Nelson

Singing Fool

Sergeant Evans heard the rattling sound of a bullet hitting some loose stones nearby. A full second later he heard the sound from the rifle. “Zeke, I thought you said there were no snipers in this area. Where in the hell did that come from?”

Zeke shrugged his shoulders. “There wasn’t any yesterday. He must have snuck back in during the night.”

The sergeant pulled his steel helmet strap tighter under his chin. “Well, take care of him while I check if anyone was hit. He’s probably in that old farm house across the valley.”

Zeke held his rifle over his head enough for it to rest on the ledge of rocks. He fired a two second burst in the general direction where he thought the farm house stood.

“What the hell good did that do?” The sergeant crouched lower behind the large boulder. “You didn’t even come close to the building. Stand up there and aim at the building. We can’t let a lone sniper pin us down all day.”

Zeke slammed a full clip into his rifle and began filling the empty clip with bullets. “Do what! You want me to stick my head up and look for the sniper? What kind of fool do you think I am? He’d blow my damn head to smithereens.”

Another bullet hit close by. This time the sound was steel on steel followed by the retort of the rifle. Sergeant Evans looked down the narrow path between a mountain and a field in Northeast Afghanistan. “Get that damn sniper before he hits somebody.”

“Sarge! Sarge!” A young soldier poked his head around a boulder. “Jack has been hit. The dumb fool stuck his head up looking for the sniper.”

Sergeant Evans crawled along the stony path on his hands and knees. The stock of his rifle hitting rocks on the side of the mountain. Two soldiers were pulling a body to a secluded area behind a tall rock pile. “What in the hell happened? Where is he hit? Is he alive?” He crawled to the body and stared at Jack’s face. “I don’t see any blood. Where was he hit?”

One of the soldiers moved a helmet toward Evans with his foot. “Look at Jack’s helmet, Sarge. The bullet hit his helmet a glancing blow and bounced off.” He knelt down beside Jack. “I see his chest moving so he’s still alive.” He felt of Jack’s neck. “I was crouched right beside him. It made a noise like a clap of thunder and poor ole Jack fell like he had been hit in the head with an ax. His helmet flew off and bounced against the mountain side.”

“Why in the hell didn’t you warn him?” The sergeant rolled Jack’s head back and forth. “You knew it was dangerous to be sticking your head up when there’s a sniper around. Did you tell him?”

“I did. I did. I called him ever kind of fool in the book. Just as I called him a dumb fool, the bullet knocked his helmet off. Dumb fool were the last words he heard.” He pointed at Jack’s face. “He just blinked. Did you see that?” He slapped Jack’s cheek three times. “Jack, old buddy. Can you hear me?”

Jack opened both eyes and nodded. He rubbed the right side of his head. He sat up and pushed himself against a rock. He began singing.

“What in the hell is wrong with him?” The sergeant shook Jack’s shoulder. “Why are you singing?”

Jack closed his eyes and kept on singing.

“What is he singing?” Evans kept his eyes on Jack’s face. “It sounds like a lot of nonsense to me.”

The soldier stood. He leaned his rifle against the rocks and listened to Jack’s plaintive monotone for thirty seconds. “I think I heard parts of Fools Walk In, A Fool in Love and Fool is a Dangerous Thing.” He stopped and listened for fifteen seconds. “Now he’s singing Send in the Fools.”

Sergeant Evans listened for ten seconds as Jack changed to Deep in the Heart of Fool. “All right everybody, listen up. We got a wounded comrade here. We are taking him back to camp. We’ll let the medics look at him.” He waited as Zeke crawled into the clearing. “We’re going back to camp in a few minutes. So revive Bing Crosby there and get him ready to walk. You stay close to him.”

Zeke prodded Jack with his rifle stock. “Hey Jack, on your feet. The tavern is open. Let’s go get a nice cold beer.”

Jack opened both eyes, smiled and began singing I’ll have a nice cold fool from St. Louis. He staggered getting to his feet and leaned against the boulder.

The sergeant handed Jack his helmet. “You stuck your damn head up and the sniper nearly blew it off.” He pointed at the dent. “Look at that. Another inch or two to the left and it would have been right between your eyes. Put the damn thing on and let’s move out.”

Jack lovingly caressed the dent. He held it up and looked at the helmet from all angles. He sang My fools got a hole in it. He put the helmet on three times. Each time he tightened the strap a bit more. He started singing Big Eight Fool Coming down the track, your true loving fool ain’t coming back.

The sergeant shook his head in sorrow. “That bullet must have hit his helmet at the exact same time Bill was calling him a dumb fool. Somehow fool is imprinted in his brain. I don’t know why he wants to sing.”

Zeke waited a second. “What was Jack doing at the time of impact besides looking for the sniper?”

“He was singing.”

“Well, what the hell was he singing. We don’t have time to play twenty questions.”

The soldier shrugged his shoulders. “Jack was singing I was a fool when I enlisted in the army. It was his favorite song.”

“I don’t care what he was singing or what was said when he was hit.” The sergeant looked first at Jack and then at Zeke. “You take care of him and get him back to camp.”

Zeke stared at Jack for a moment and then at the sergeant. “I don’t know if I can stand this all the way back to camp. He’ll drive me crazy and attract the Afghans. We should make him stay about a hundred yards behind us.”

Sergeant Evans picked up his rifle and checked his watch. “That’s OK with me if you want to stay back there with him.”

Zeke shook his head emphatically. “No way I’m bringing up the rear with the singing cowboy. What are you going to say to the captain when we return without finishing our mission? We are supposed to go five more klicks and check for enemy activity.”

“Hell, we got an soldier wounded in the line of duty. He was injured in an enemy engagement. He may get the Purple Heart out of this.”

Zeke slowly shook his head. “All Jack has is a slight concussion. He may be fit as a fiddle by the time we get back to the captain.” He shook Jack’s shoulder. “How are you feeling? Can you walk back to camp?”

Jack broke out singing I could fool across Texas with a fool in my arms.

“I take that to be an affirmative answer. If he can waltz across Texas, he can certainly walk back to camp.” Sergeant Evans dropped to his hands and knees and began crawling away. “Keep him quiet. I want to get back as quick as possible. I want Jack to sing a few tunes to the captain.”

Zeke crawled behind Jack until he thought they were far enough away from the sniper to be able to stand. They walked fifty feet and heard a single shot a half mile away. Jack fell to the ground and began singing I heard the fool a coming right around the bend.

“Get up, dammit.” Zeke kicked Jack’s boot. “That shot was at least a mile away. If you fall down every time you hear a shot, we’ll never get back.” He kicked again, leaned down and whispered harshly. “Git the hell up. Here comes the sergeant. He’ll kick your ass all the way back to camp.”

“What in the hell is wrong with him?” Sergeant Evans kicked Jack’s boot. “Why is he on the ground and holding up our return to camp?” He kicked Jack’s boot again. “Get your sorry ass up. We don’t have time to fiddle dick around. I just got a radio message from the captain. There’s a small Taliban unit off a few klicks to the north. We are to engage and destroy.”

Jack jumped to his feet. He pointed his rifle straight up and fired fifteen rounds, emptying the clip. He started singing Praise the fools and pass the ammunition as he slammed a full clip into his rifle.

“Holy shit, what in the hell is wrong with him.” Sergeant Evans grabbed at Jack’s rifle and missed. “You dumb fool, you just alerted every insurgent within five miles of us. Let’s get the hell out of here. I’m not going any klicks out of the way to engage insurgents. They’re probably on their way to engage us.” He walked away, stopped and turned around. “If Jack does that again, hit his head as hard as you can with your rifle butt.”

Jack broke into song. He began singing Ghost fools in the Sky.

The sergeant broke into a trot getting away from Zeke and Jack. “All right everybody. Let’s move out. Double time. That dumb idiot Jack has told the insurgents where we are. Get a move on before they get between us and the camp. First round of beer is on Jack if we all get back safely.”

Zeke crawled behind Jack for a hundred yards, alternating between whispering shut up and hurry up. He stood up and prodded Jack into a trot to keep up with the sergeant. “Get a move on, Jack. If you don’t, we’ll be late for happy hour.” He started to say no singing but was too late. Jack began singing Happy fools are here again.

Sergeant Evans was waiting around the next bend. He fell in behind Jack at a trot. “Jack, if you sing again I’m going to stomp the living shit out of you. Do you understand? Or did that bullet mess your mind up worse than it all ready was?”

Jack sang Make the fools go away.

Sergeant Evans shook his head and sprinted away from Jack and Zeke. Twenty minutes later, Zeke and Jack trotted into a clearing protected by rocks and trees. The other members of the squad were on the ground resting except the sergeant. He was using his binoculars. He beckoned at Zeke. “Come here and look.” He handed the glasses to Zeke. “See the insurgents on the other side of the valley. They are even with us. I want you and Jack to give us a five minute head start, then open up on them. They are too far away to do any damage, but you will slow them up enough for all of us to make camp safely.”

“What! Have you lost your mind again? You want me to stay behind with Elvis.”

“It’s only going to be five minutes. Empty a few clips in their direction and take off after us. You’ll probably catch us after a quarter mile. If not, run like hell. We are only five miles from camp.”

“I still don’t like it. Jack may decide to stop and sing.”

Sergeant Evans pointed at Zeke’s arm. “Do something brave and earn those stripes. You are the only corporal here and second in command.” He turned back to the men still sprawled out on the ground. “All right men, let’s trot. We’re not going to stop until we hit the beer parlor.” He nodded at Zeke. “Remember, five minutes.”

Zeke grabbed Jack’s arm. “The sarge wants us to stay for five minutes as a rear guard.” He waited while Jack sang a few lines of There’ll be a fool time in the old town tonight. “In five minutes, we are going to open fire on the Taliban across the valley. Are you ready?”

Jack touched Sergeant Evan’s arm. He sang I loaded sixteen fools and what did I get.

Sergeant Evans shook his head in sorrow. “Poor boy, he’ll be in a section eight hospital the rest of his life.” He started trotting away. “All right, let’s move out.”

Zeke waited until the last soldier was out of sight. He pointed at Jack’s head. “Did you understand what the sergeant said?”

Jack nodded. He sang Here’s a quarter, call a fool you know. His voice echoed around the valley.

Zeke slumped back against a rock. He glanced at his watch. He realized Jack only sang after someone said something. He held up four fingers to indicate they had to wait four more minutes.

Jack quickly aimed his rifle across the valley and fired a four round burst. He grinned at Zeke and sang Let’s have a fool for the road.

Zeke pulled Jack to the ground as a thirty round burst from a heavy machine gun raked their side of the mountain. Pebbles seemed to explode and chips of stone rained down. A few short bursts from about ten of the lighter AK47s sprayed the area a hundred yards behind. Zeke hugged the ground for an eternity as the heavy machine gun sporadically alternated between three round bursts and four round bursts. He waited until after a ten second lull before getting to his feet and peering gingerly over the rocks.

“The hell with waiting three more minutes. They are starting to run in our direction. They are still too far away.” He stopped as Jack fired the entire clip in one long burst. He laid his rifle on the rock and fired his entire clip. Jack was singing Great Balls of Fools. Zeke watched Jack crouch down and fire another clip straight up into the air. “That’s enough, dammit. Let’s catch up with the squad.” He bent low and began running down the path toward camp. Jack brought up the rear singing I met my fool on Blueberry Hill.”

They stumbled into camp two hours later, tired, thirsty and nearly out of ammunition. The captain met them at their squad’s area.

“Sergeant Evans said you two sterling soldiers volunteered to stay behind in a rear guard action. Your heroism and devotion to duty is outstanding. How many of the enemy do you think you two brave soldiers killed?”

Jack broke into one of Jerry Lee Lewis’ hit songs, Thirty-nine fools and holding.

“Is that right.” The captain rubbed his hands in satisfaction. “I’m going to put you both in for the Bronze Star.” He held up four fingers. “The first four beers are on me.”

Jack aimed at the sky, fired a four round burst and ejected the empty clip to the ground. He began singing Willie Nelson’s old song. Turn out the lights, Fools, the party’s over.

2600 words. April Fools Day 2017

http://www.eastcoastwriters.org is the place to go

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novel

NOVEL

Our son went somewhere. It’s been so long ago, I’ve forgotten where he went. But the thing of it is, he left us his new Tandy 2000 computer. A big heavy thing with separate computer, keyboard and monitor. It had 640 kilobytes of memory.

I had been loafing for a good while. I was getting tired of it. So, I told Jeanne, my wife, I was going to write a book. No short story or a poem. I was going to start at the top and write a novel.

Jeanne showed me how to turn on the Tandy, get to the word processor, how to save and exit. She turned the computer off and left the room. Ten minutes later I was looking at the beautiful blue screen of Word Perfect. I sat there staring at the little white light blinking in the upper left corner of the screen.

I leaned back and ran all the different kinds of novels through my mind. I was leaning toward writing a science-fiction story since I had always been interested in astronomy. Loved Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers as a kid. But after twenty minutes, I decided to write an ordinary murder mystery.

I kept my plot simple. A woman was missing for six months. All my main characters were in their forties or fifties. The Berlin police chief and his sergeant were searching. The Worcester County sheriff and his chief deputy were also looking. The sergeant wanted to run for sheriff in the next election and the sheriff wanted to run for the Maryland House of Delegates. Whoever found the missing woman would be a shoo-in at the next election.

To make the book appealing to women, I brought in Madame Z, a fake fortune teller retired from Army CID (Criminal Investigation Command), and Martha, the sheriff’s wife.

After one day of writing, I had five hundred words. I was shooting for a hundred thousand words which is a little above average. I did a little arithmetic. I had one half of one percent done in one day. If I could keep up this pace, I would be finished in two hundred days.

The next day, I wrote another five hundred. After only two days, I was one percent finished. It would be a walk in the park.

I kept my character’s names simple. There were Sheriff Abel, Chief Deputy Baker and Mr. Charlie. I named some by colors. Mr. Green, Mr. Black, Miss purple and so-on. I would use “find and replace” later to change names to fit.

I printed whenever I finished five thousand words. It was a nice feeling to see what you had accomplished in print. The printer had a black, red and green ribbon. Later, I would have a green version, a red version and a black version.

I didn’t do an outline so I didn’t know where my story was going. I had fifty thousand words before I knew where the missing woman was located and who was her killer. Once I had my murderer, I could go back and change things and add clues that would eventually point my sleuths in the right direction.

I kept the story local. It was set mostly in Berlin where the crime occurred and in different areas in Worcester County.

An ending that makes sense and explains the crime and motive is hard to do. I muddled through with a shoot-out in a blizzard, a blood hound chase and hostages.

The title was the last item. Madame Z was constantly threatening to talk with Edgar Cayce and find the woman. The sheriff was afraid this was true. So, I titled the novel, Edgar Cayce and the Sheriff.

600 words 1/25/17

http://www.eastcoastwriters.org is the place to go

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Swarm

The queen was agitated. The workers had fed royal jelly to a developing embryo and a new queen would soon emerge from her cell. The queen with her entourage of attendants went to the nursery. She repeatedly inserted her stinger into the embryo, killing it before it ever had a chance to fly. The workers stood by and did nothing to hinder the queen. It wasn’t the correct time.

A few weeks later, she sensed another queen bee was ready to emerge. Again she went to the nursery with murder on her mind. But this time the worker bees would not allow her to kill the emerging new queen.

The hive was overpopulated and the workers had decided to start a new colony. There would be no fight. Sometimes the new queen leaves, other times it is the old queen who starts a new colony. It was decided the old queen would leave.

Dad noticed the activity in the morning. Bees were flying around the kitchen window; thousands were crawling all over the old hive. The queen had not left the hive. Dad was ready.

A new box or super was at the end of the row of hives. Frames were in place for the bees to build their honeycomb.

Lois and I were off to one side of the flying bees. Both of us had an old pot and a large spoon. We were hitting the pot and making as much noise as possible. I have no idea if this did any good.

The bees were so excited about the queen’s soon departure from the hive that they didn’t sting anyone. Bees were everywhere. Lois and I stepped back a few more feet.

We didn’t see the queen leave the hive but suddenly a ball of bees began to form on a low hanging limb close by the house. The ball grew as the teeming mass of bees increased. The air was empty of bees. They were all clustered around the old queen in a mass the size of a basketball.

Luckily it was a lower branch. Dad approached the ball slowly. He held the branch with one hand and with his knife or snippers severed the branch. He took the ball of bees to the empty hive and gently shook the bees loose. If all goes well, the bees fall into the hive. At other times he leaves the branch and bees in the hive. He placed the top on and we have a new populated hive.

Sometimes things do not go according to Hoyle. The queen may fly to a top branch and the swarm forms there. She may fly completely away to the woods. Scouts find a hallow tree and she forms her colony there. We are out of luck.

465 words 9/26/16

January is here.

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END

“It’s got to be a boy. Who ever heard of Joseph and Mary having a little girl? Nobody will believe it. You’ll be the laughing stock of Berlin.”
Dolores shook her head. “She’s going to be a queen. Just wait and see.”
“You are all dumber than Balaam’s Ass. What’s going to happen now?”
“We have to go soon.” Joseph stepped over and shook my hand. “The Romans will soon be looking for us.” He stopped and listened to a noise approaching.
Two Shepherds, three Kings and three Wise Women quietly entered the barn. The other Shepherd was backing a large cargo van into the barn. In ten minutes the barn was empty except for me. Jeanne and Dolores had jumped into the van and had disappeared along with Joseph, Mary and the baby girl.
Betty was typing fifty words a minute. “Great story, Nelson. The newspaper will love it.” She lowered the lid of the laptop. “But what really happened to Jeanne and Dolores? No one in their right mind is going to believe they went off with Joseph and Mary. What did you do with their bodies?”
“I told you. They went off in a ratty old van with the farmer from Ironshire.”
Betty looked down the lane. “You have more company. It’s three men in uniforms.”
“Oh my God, it’s the Romans.”

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