Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wordzzle #15

The words for this week's ten word challenge are: perpendicular, carpentry, garage, lute player, radishes, tin roof, wild flowers, stop light, gargantuan

The Mini Challenge: gravy boat, cat carrier, Madison, Wisconsin, March Hare, gratitude

"That's a Rap"

"I'm sorry we didn't have more time when I was in town Zan" Sgt Johnson said to his long time girlfriend Zandilla Morris. "This case takes priority over my personal life and you knew that going in" he finished. "Yea baby, I knew it, but living with it is something else" she countered. "I miss you darlin and there's no fixing it till you come home."

"Let me talk to you more this evening Zan, maybe you can fly down here for the weekend" he finished. "Bye baby" she answered and he replied with the same.

As Sgt Johnson hung up with his paramour he focused his thoughts and vision on the photos from the front yard. What was it about the picture and how did it connect to the brutal murder of famous rapper Eminem? Inside the house the slashed body of the hip hop star was still laid out in gruesome and grisly fashion. The "Alley Cat" murderer had sliced the skin off in ribbons and the resulting pain had left the stars face frozen in a most disconcerting rictus of death. The work had been done meticulously with neat perpendicular cuts. Some of the lines reminded Sgt Johnson of carpentry layout drawings, like the ones he'd used when he added on to his garage.

This had been juxtaposed against an intricate and bloody skin picture of a lute player. "Crazy' he thought to himself as he sidled through the garden. He noticed the radishes were looking good and as he looked up he caught the glint of sunlight from the tin roof on the neat garden shed tucked in the back corner of the lot. It had wildflowers bordering one side, a plaque that looked like a stop light on the wall next to the door and a gargantuan metal sunflower nailed to the back wall.

As he stepped through the door he noticed an ancient gravy boat lying on a shelf under the potting bench. In the far corner a brand new looking cat carrier stood with the door open. A wooden container for a cheese wheel labeled "Land O' Lakes Cheese Co." Madison, Wisconsin was tacked to the wall above the potting bench. A small plastic garden statue that resembled the March Hare of fairy tale fame owned the left hand side of the shed. On the opposite wall had been placed a plaque that simply read "Gratitude".

Sgt Johnson wondered about the owners of this home and garden shed as he placed the pictures on the bench. Then, as he looked at the tumble of children's toys in the photos for the umpteenth time he saw something. Racing back to the front yard he donned gloves and carefully picked up the light saber with the professional looking leather handle. It weighed more than a cheap plastic toy should, he thought to himself. Then he grasped the plastic cylinder used to depict the laser blade and felt it give. He gently removed it to reveal a sharp and blood stained sword. It resembled most a samurai weapon but without the slight curve given to the deadly Japanese Katana.

He called out to one of the crime scene techs. "Let's get this to the lab ASAP; it looks like the murder weapon."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

This is the day of the year set aside to honor our fallen soldiers. Please go here to read my post on Memorial Day.

I liked what Andy Rooney had to say last night on "60 Minutes.



Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wordzzle #14

This Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: flamingo, monster trucks, Darth Vader, cucumbers, sugar-free, banking, determinate, thurible, sarcasm, drums

Mini Challenge: procrastinate, memory lane, alley cat, argument, Florida

"The Alley Cat Murders"

Sgt Johnson looked down at the plastic pink flamingo by the front walk. It looked out of place standing so stately and upright within the tumble of toy monster trucks, Darth Vader masks (complete with light saber) and various children’s toys. He followed the adjoining side path to the small garden patch replete with ripe cucumbers and melons.

As he stepped through the back porch door into the tiny addition that served as a store room, he noticed the upended case of sugar-free cola from the local discount store. Johnson was banking on finding more evidence here at the victim’s home than what he had worked with on the Heller case; the determinate factor on that investigation having been Heller’s political leanings and off beat personality. Who would have thought she’d had become a thurible to the anti-war effort. Her untimely death at the hands of a neo-fascist gang, the sarcasm with which the news of her death had been met and her body found stuffed in the band’s drums were just part and parcel of the bizarre elements in her disappearance.

Sgt Johnson was glad to be back from the north. Once home he’d had little time to procrastinate or take a trip down memory lane. Instead, he’d been reassigned immediately to the “alley cat” murders” and he had left without argument for Florida the next day after returning home.

When the evidence led local police to believe they had an interstate serial kidnapper and killer on their hands he was called in. Of course it had helped that the latest victim was a very well known and high profile individual.

He walked down the central hallway, exited at the front door and started looking at the crime scene for the second of what would be many times. He took a picture of the yard flamingo and wondered. What was wrong with this picture?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Grandparents

If you here the sound of one hand clapping it's just me.

A story of mine, "My Country Grandparents," was published over at Ronni Bennett's Time goes by.

Check it out.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Hood has Talent!

I just finished reading Dianne's post " and I see your True Colors" at her blog.

Anyone with any sort of heart or the ability to understand compassion should read this story.

I remain in awe of knowing someone (even if just through our blogs and writing) with that kind of talent. There are many talented people respresented in my sidebar. I have read countless entertaining, hilarious, and moving posts from them.

Dianne's work in this latest piece is peerless and powerful. Read it and learn; live in another person's shoes, if just for the moment. You won't be sorry!

I start back to work tomorrow and will be here mostly just on Saturdays for the Wordzzle stories. Thanks for coming by and commenting. Don't forget to read Dianne's story.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle # 13

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: sergeant, lunatic, peanut butter and jelly, cyber space, flattery, musician, auspicious, cardinal, paprika, flowering plum tree
And for the Mini Challenge: sinister, magazine, American flag, rain storm, chess board

Go to the Raven's nest for the rest of the stories.

"The Case of the Missing Singer"

The Narwhale or more correctly Narwhal that sergeant Johnson observed surfacing aft of the ship resembled some lunatic version of an amphibious unicorn with a huge tusk over 10 feet long. Johnson pondered the wonder of these northern waters as he finished his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He went back into his cabin and sat down at his laptop, where he continued his search in cyberspace on Carla Heller and her band "Rude Flattery."

Carla was a musician of some repute. Her band's first album "Auspicious Anger" had hit number one in the alternative music category in just three weeks. Now the pop star from Finland was missing and Johnson knew the cardinal rule in missing persons cases was to not let the trail run cold.

That's what had brought him to be aboard this ridiculous little ship with a rusted hull the color of paprika hunting Carla. The "Flowering Plum Tree'" was a retro steel version of a Chinese junk used for carrying passengers and freight along the fjords of the Finnish coast. It was also the last place Carla had been seen.

When she had failed to meet her band in Helsinki they'd managed to backtrack her last known whereabouts to the ship. But no one knew what happened once she got aboard and if she ever got off. The captain and crew had a somewhat sinister look about them and Johnson wondered if it had just been a case of a crew member recognizing her from a picture in a magazine. She'd made all the papers in a top and mini-skirt made of an American flag. She'd worn this outfit in a concert in Paris, then ripped it off at the end of the concert and burned it on stage as she had stood there in camo undies.

The rain storm that had sprung up caught Johnson's attention and he stepped to the port hole to look outside. He wondered if somehow Carla's disappearance was another move made by right wing fanatics and if Carla had just been a mere pawn on the chessboard of global politics.

He'd know more after he interviewed the Captain and crew. After all, he had three more days aboard before they hit port. Some clues would surface...he hoped.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rants in the Hood

Dianne at Forks off the Moment and Jay at the Cynical Bastard have a couple of rants worth reading this week.

Jay's visit to Walmart the day before Mother's Day is a good read.

Dianne has found something besides the big-ass store to apply her considerable wit to with this post on getting Fiber optics in her home.

I enjoyed both these posts greatly. I wish either Jay or Dianne had been with me when I had a conversation with my neighbor lady yesterday.

She approached me as I stacked brush along our shared property line.

Neighbor lady: "I thought you were putting up a real fence"
Me: "If I could afford it I would, but I can't right now while I'm out of work"
Neighbor lady: Have the dogs been in your yard much?"
Me: "I run them off about once a day."
Neighbor lady: "Well, when you live out here in the country..."
Me: IN MY HEAD "WTF" we have paved roads, underground utilities and 3/4 acres lots, and you think this is the country."
Me: in reality, Smile....
Neighbor lady: "Are they doing anything in your yard?"
Me: "Just crapping in the yard and digging holes."
Neighbor lady: Smirk....
Me: IN MY HEAD "You and the Clampetts are a trip lady"
Me: in reality, Smile - and I keep stacking up the brush

OK, that's it for the rants.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle #12

This Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: florist, grave yard, sausage, magnificent, soap opera, linguist, columns, volume, French, canvas

Mini Challenge: suspension bridge, veracity, lunch, multi-faceted, house of ill repute

This week I got confused and did it backwards.

"French Eddie's Arizona Vacation"

The Glory Hole Bar and Grill was just a front for Jerome, AZ's oldest and fanciest house of ill repute. The Bar was the last remnant of Jerome's once vibrant and multi-faceted economy. Today it sported a sidewalk cafe and a tremulous air of respectability in spite of its reputation. When the copper mines had been running full bore James Douglas had built his famous mansion on the hill overlooking his mine. His guests would eat lunch while they watched the ore being brought to the surface from the shaft. Jerome in those days was the 4th largest city in Arizona. While the veracity of that statement seems doubtful when looking at modern day Jerome, it is true nevertheless.

The rumored plans to build a suspension bridge across the valley never materialized when the copper ran out and the town was deserted. Today its 450 full time residents of artists, craftspeople and new age hippies, played host to tourists escaping the heat of Phoenix. The old buildings of the town were a mere backdrop on a canvas featuring a mountain tourist trap.

That's why French Eddie knew he had to be careful. If he kept the pick pocketing to a reasonable amount, made his money on quality pulls and not volume, he would make enough to spend the summer among the columns of the Parthenon. While no linguist; his language skills were good enough to see him through a modern day grand tour. His somewhat hardy existence in Jerome could change to one more like a daytime soap opera amidst the magnificent cities of Europe.

The outdoor cafe of the Glory Hole was a good vantage point to scout for marks. From here he could see Zelda standing across the street waiting for his signal. She would be the "stall" and the distraction. He couldn't afford a full crew so he would carry the "poke" just long enough to strip the cash and any credit cards. The cards he would send to a broker in Phoenix by mail. If he could help it he never held the poke more than 5 or 10 minutes. His experience had taught him that wealthy marks raised a ruckus when they found out they'd been taken.

He finished the bit of sausage and egg left on his plate, left a tip for the waitress and walked away from Zelda towards the old grave yard off main. As he passed the florist shop he spotted his next take; a couple in their 50s sporting Rolex watches and expensive shoes. He walked past a poster for the coming musical play, “Glory Hole, Arizona’s Oldest House of Ill Repute” and dialed Zelda on her cell. “Looks like you’re another “take” closer to getting out of the business sweetie” he purred into the mouthpiece. “The marks will be coming out of Henry’s flower shop in just a second.” “Stall the man and I’ll make the pull.” “Sure thing sugar” she replied.

“Hang in there Darling; we’re almost out of here.” As French Eddie headed back down main to set up the stall with Zelda he pondered what it would be like when she could stop turning tricks. "Better" he said to himself, "Much Better." He had checked the street out of habit as he walked. What he hadn’t seen and wouldn’t know about till too late was the observer in the second story room over the flower shop.

At that exact moment agent Simmons was talking to his two person decoy team in the shop below. “I think he saw you” he told them. “Take another 3 minutes then head for the Bar down the street.”
Post Scriptum: with apologies to James Coburn and "Harry in Your Pocket"
Post Post Scriptum: for those reading it, the third episode of Murphy's Life is here

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wordzzle #11

This Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: cranberry sauce, amber, laundry list, coffin, morning glory, shalom, mystery, sparrow hawk, pumpernickel, stained glass

And for the Mini Challenge: margarita, gum wrapper, spring fever, Darfur, lace

Once again my laziness astounds even me.

"Romance in the Third World"

Noting the cranberry sauce stain on an otherwise spotless amber blouse, Nick thought the young lady was very attractive indeed. She possessed a couple of qualities on his laundry list of “things my future wife must have.” She was tall but not so tall she’d need an oversized coffin. (Why he thought like that he didn’t know for sure...perhaps it was from watching too much Dexter) Anyway.... she was pretty in a dark exotic way, feminine but not prissy; no morning glory or wall flower this one.

He uttered a soft “Shalom” and she replied “thanks and you as well.” There was mystery in her eyes; those grey green orbs almost hypnotic yet simultaneously sharp as those of a sparrow hawk. He offered to share his corned beef on pumpernickel sandwich and she accepted with grace and style; taking a hearty but still somewhat ladylike bite; then washing it down with the house red wine the color of rich stained glass.

Nick toasted her with his margarita. He picked up the gum wrapper next to his glass and tossed it into the ash tray. He had taken up chewing gum in an attempt to quit smoking. The urge to light up was like spring fever in High School, so constant and demanding, that he focused on his beautiful new dinner companion to relieve the desire for smoke and enjoy the desire for her instead.

“What brings you to Darfur, Miss? He asked. “It’s just plain Amanda, Amanda Bianforia” she answered as she wiped a bit of mustard from her mouth with the lace napkin. “And you are?” “Nick Jacobs, Amanda...nice to meet you.” “I’m here with the UN team investigating the recent outbreak of violence in the refugee camps.” “You didn’t say what brought you here Amanda” he finished. “Oh, I just came to drop off some cranberry sauce for the Thanksgiving meal tomorrow Nick, and to meet you of course” she added slyly.

Uh-Oh he thought to himself; playful and aggressive, that’s on the list as well. Sometimes good things do happen to good people after all. He wiped a spot of mustard from Amanda’s pretty amber blouse and wondered if she liked kids. That was on his laundry list too.

POST SCRIPTUM: Murphy's Life Episode #2 is here. Video below is a hoot. If you have a minute listen to Mrs. Hughes.