Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wordzzle 45; I think

Wordzzle 45 - the beginning and the end

If you're new to Wordzzle; then let me ask you this question. "Where the hell have you been?" OK, whatever the reason, I'm glad you're here. Take a minute and run on over to the Raven's Nest. You'll find the lovely Katherine's stories, info about Wordzzle and links to all the other participants' blogs and stories.

Then if you have it in ya, come on back and get involved in another Wordzzle story series.

Below are this week's words:

The ten word challenge: When pigs have wings, Moonlight, Mystery, Tower of Babel, Butterflies, Bread and butter, Beef barley soup, Charley horse, Novelty, Cold shoulder

The Mini Challenge: Software, Lottery, Newspaper, Mailman, Ringo Starr’s drum

The New Series Title: Laughlin

This week's episode: Life is a gamble

The Laughlin Strip was no modern day Tower of Babel. The Casinos and adjoining hotels that lined the street on the Nevada side had names like "The Colorado Belle", "The Golden Nugget", and "The Pioneer". This particular cold December day found them with the lowest levels of occupancy in 25 years.

The town was struggling; trying mightily to reach its once faded glory, but the bread and butter clients, the cowboys, contractors and wealthy retirees that typically inhabited the city, were staying away. The few that did come were looking for deals and playing the penny machines. Since Laughlin didn't have the theatres and audiences to rate big name talent, the Casinos were stuck with things like a rock and roll exhibit featuring Ringo Starr's drum. The scant off season winter crowd was not going for it.

One enterprising Casino (the small and quirky Regency Casino) tried Moonlight Mystery gambling. This didn't work too well either. The novelty soon wore off after one customer won the mystery jackpot of $1000 on a dollar machine, but after putting in over $1700. Word got around the strip and the minuscule and strange Regency went back to hosting football parties and getting the occasional sucker to play its machines.

All of this meant little to Dan Griggs. He had come to this cultural backwater on the banks of the Colorado to kick back and take it easy. His small pension from the Tacoma police department, plus his salary as a part time armed security guard at the Pioneer gave him enough income to get by. Dan finished his beef barley soup and went back to the buffet bar for dessert. He had to be careful at his age, once you edged up on 60 you blew up like a balloon if you tried to eat like a kid. He passed by the cakes, pies, and chocolates and picked up a small bowl of Jell-O. "Exercise and nutrition" he grimaced to himself.

Since the shooting that had ended his career in law enforcement over 20 years ago, Dan had clung to a routine and regimen to stay as healthy as possible. It was a little harder for him than most. The 9mm slug that forced his early retirement had taken one kidney, a floating rib and his lifelong assurance of being the lucky one. Though in truth he was lucky to be alive. The vest had stopped two other torso shots (it's a myth that all crooks can't shoot their pistols) and he had managed to stop the guy with the last round in his service revolver. It was one of those instantaneous things that just happens to cops sometimes.

Still, it made his daily run along the "Riverwalk" more difficult with each passing month. Unless the mailman brought him a check from some long lost uncle or he won the lottery, his chances at regaining full motion on his left side without significant and costly reconstructive surgery, were slight. While he managed to run in a mostly upright fashion it was a struggle. The constant pressure to hold himself upright inevitably caused a Charlie horse in his right calve.

Dan gave the cold shoulder to these thoughts and the other goodies at the dessert table and returned to his seat. "Hey stranger" called out Carla Hodgenbottom. Carla was a "forty something" floor waitress at the Pioneer. "Hey Girl, what's shaking" Dan replied as he patted the seat next to him in the booth. Carla sat down and gave Dan a peck on the cheek before she dove into her late night breakfast. "You see the newspaper yet?" she quizzed Dan. "There's an article about the drowning down at Harrahs last weekend." "They're saying now it might not have been accidental" she finished.

Dan had indeed read the paper and he knew from a contact in the Laughlin PD that the drowning had appeared suspicious from the start. But instead of addressing that issue he asked Carla about going hiking next week if the weather turned warmer. She assented and didn't press him about the drowning.

Dan and Carla had been dating for about 7 months and things were easy between them. Neither seemed to want more than friendship and companionship with benefits. The nice thing for Dan was that Carla appeared to not care about the horrible scarring on his left side. He had started to almost feel comfortable with her without his shirt. Of course most of that time he was hard as a rock and they were engaged in activities that took priority over his qualms about his injury. Dan smiled at Carla and thought of how nice it would be to make love to her in their tent out in the desert. They would drive his 87 Ford Bronco out as far as it would go and then hike for miles. Finally they'd camp, make dinner and enjoy the beauty of the desert sky and then the pleasure they gave each other. She never even complained about the cigar and whiskey he always had when they watched the night sky and talked. All in all, at least from his side, it was a nice comfortable relationship; one without high expectations or too much drama. With that said, he still got butterflies in his stomach when she undressed for him by the light of the campfire.

For Carla's part, she enjoyed Dan's sense of humor and his knowledge of the world. She had been startled by the gunshot wound, but never put off by it. Dan was a wounded soul both physically and spiritually. This allowed her to take great joy in healing him with her body. She had always been a loving woman and not having children or a husband had injured her more deeply than the wounds that Dan had received. Their lovemaking satisfied something in her far beyond the physical and it showed in the way she treated him. For make no mistake, Dan was her man, whether he knew it or not. She felt in her heart there was little chance of him leaving her. As her Daddy back in Missouri would have said, "It just ain't gonna happen: unless the time comes when pigs have wings and learn to fly. Now that statement coming from a Missouri pig farmer from St. Joes was a statement of fact.

Carla felt blessed to have grown up on a farm and more blessed now to not be living on one. It was such a different time then and she was so much younger. The world had been full of possibilities till her Daddy lost the farm and they had to move into town. It had killed her father working in a factory, and for what?

The implement factory was long gone, the stark brick buildings still standing down on River Street, but empty for the last two decades. No, she was done with Missouri, bitter cold winters, and farming. She liked working in the Casino. It was warm in the winter and cool, even when it hit 120 degrees outside in the Summer. And hiking with Dan in the spring and the fall, sometimes even in winter when it was mild, was outdoorsy enough for her these days. The exercise helped her keep her figure, which was a prerequisite for being a floor waitress. Well, that and the damned push-up bras. Every server on the gambling floor wore a uniform showing extensive cleavage and required the dreaded booby proper upper to fill it out.

Dan thought again about what Corporal Stoddard had told him concerning the drowning. The woman had been internally mutilated. It wasn’t found out till much later and by then the police had decided to keep it quiet. The only reason Dan had been put in the loop was his police background and experience on a similar crime in Tacoma. Dan had never figured out what made men do that kind of thing to women. It was if they were wired different than the rest of us, or more likely he thought to himself, their software had some serious defects.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

It's the day before Christmas
As I sit at my desk typing
Ignoring the hoopla
and last minute shopping hyping

I've read my friends' blogs
Caught up on their news
Read their Christmas stories
And picked up on the cues

Now I'm feeling somewhat dodgy
Both Happy and Sad
Without being too stodgy
I want to be Glad

That Christmas is here
New Years just next week
This last year was a challenge
Not one for the meek

Let's wish it looks up
That Santa brings hope
Along with the regular gifts
So that we can all cope

With what life brings us
in this New Year
Along with the difficulties
And problems we fear

That the coming year may bring
something new and happy
We need some good news
So Santa make it snappy

When you visit tonight
When your sleigh comes to rest
When you come down my Chimney
Please bring your best

Bring some good news
Some faith, hope and love
To all those in need
From our Father above

May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Many thanks to all who've read and commented at the Bloggerhood this year. It has been my great pleasure to read your stories, comments and blogs.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wordzzle 43 - A Change in Modus Operandi

Take the time to go by the Raven's Nest and see what her stories and the other stories this week are about.

With the end of the serial about Sgt Johnson and the crew my wordzzles will take on a different tack. I will experiment with other things to write.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: Horny as a toad, Frankenstein’s sister, Greeks bearing gifts, Holiday, Cheese grater, Gridlock, Drip dry, Coffin maker, movie mogul, Turkish coffee
Mini Challenge: prenuptial agreement, The purple cow just hated the orange cat, potato chips, sari, Hammer and nails

Random thoughts concerning current events and such. As always it's just one mega-Wordzzle.

Perhaps you've listened to the news lately, though with the Holiday confusion and shopping you might have missed the auto bailout mess. It seems that the Republican holdouts (what Pat Buchanan described as Toyota Republicans) put the kibosh on any help through Congress. Probably just as well. If I were the auto makers I'd be aware of Greeks bearing gifts this time of year anyway. The thing that got my goat was the hypocrisy involved in the Senators’ actions. They approved all that money, you remember, 700 billion and counting, for the banks and Wall Street jerks, but balked at a measly 15 billion to keep the domestic car makers going till Obama takes office.

While this might sound like putting the hammer and nails to the coffin of the Big 3, it ain’t necessarily so. The Decider (still president George Bush) can still direct the treasury department to part with a bit of the TARP fund and keep American car makers from an early (though some say inevitable) appointment with the corporate coffin maker, bankruptcy.

If you have been shopping then you know that in spite of the economic downturn that stuff still costs a pretty penny. There may be some stores giving discounts, but lets face it, their crap was way overpriced anyway. From my experience shopping this year everything from Cheese Graters to Drip Dry trousers seems too expensive.

Some of you may have to deal with Gridlock and crowds to find the items on your gift list. You have my condolences. Take some time to enjoy yourself while doing it. Say "Merry Christmas" to everyone that you come into contact with and make the best of the time out with the crowds. Maybe a stop at the local Starbucks and some great Turkish coffee could be your treat to yourself. (Does Starbucks even have Turkish coffee?) Anyway, you get the idea don't ya?

And please be careful out there driving during this crazy season. Folks tend to be more distracted than usual while behind the wheel.

If you're in need of gift suggestions; let me remind you that the movie moguls are offering a wide variety of DVDs and Blue Ray discs of some great flicks this season. How about a subscription to Bride's magazine for your friends looking to a spring wedding? My advice if you do this: steer clear of any mention of prenuptial agreements. Please remember that if you give beauty products, like makeup or a hairdryer, that you must be careful. You wouldn't want your niece, aunt or wife to look like Frankenstein's daughter after using your gift.

Think outside the box if you get stuck buying a gift for someone. Something as exotic as an Indian Sari will work for the right person. If you have very young children to buy for then think about a custom story book as a gift. Let's face it, you won't get the chance to use a line like the "Purple cow just hated the orange cat" in many of your adult conversations.

For my part, I have a slight bit of shopping left for the first of the week and then we leave town for a few days for our anniversary. I'll be sitting in a bar in Laughlin eating potato chips, drinking a beer and getting horny as a toad.

Next Saturday I'm taking off while we celebrate, gamble and remember why we got married in the first place.

If I don't talk to any of you before Christmas, then please have a very merry one.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wordzzle 42, words that make you think or something.

After 42 weeks you should know by now that Katherine at the Raven's Nest is the founder of this weekly challenge. If you'll take a minute to go by her blog you'll find her stories and links to all the other writers participating in this exercise.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge is : think the rain’ll hurt the rhubarb?, B Vitamins, credit card, jolly, angels, mouse, three ring circus, haiku, sponge, copper

Mini Challenge: compulsive, trunk, African violets, curiosity, UFOT

This episode: Three weeks after the attack

The current president and administration had learned little from September 11th, 2001. They immediately started to spin the attack as an Al Qaeda operation. Of course it wasn't and some of the media actually picked up on the numerous leads and clues that Claude had sprinkled around DC. It quickly became apparent that the culprits were home grown and not your traditional terrorist types. The incident seemed more like an inside job the more that came out.

It was like a three ring circus around the white house. The outgoing executive branch cronies were nervous and uptight, in spite of the fact that the Secret Service had done a superb job in protecting the president and the white house grounds. The curiosity seekers watched from down the block on Pennsylvania Ave as barricades were set on the street to limit access to the White House.

The country was shocked then amazed, then pissed off about the whole affair, as it became more and more clear that the actions taken were the direct result of corporate and governmental malfeasance. A few in the financial world got wind of big losses and fortunes undone, but didn't make the connection.

Zan had survived her injuries though it was still unclear how much mental function she would recover. The shrapnel in her lung had come closer to killing her, but the head trauma would have more lasting effects. She clutched the African violets given to her by Sgt Johnson. The ambulance would take her to a private hospital after her stay in Walter Reed. Sgt Johnson sat next to her to keep her company. He even read her a simple haiku he had composed.

Thoughtful rain
Splashes silently
upon the mossy stone

"What's it mean Thomas?" she asked hesitantly. "Just a way of thinking about rain Zan, nothing special" he replied. "You mean like, think the rain'll hurt the rhubarb?" she asked jokingly. "Yea, something like that Zan." Johnson was glad she still had her sense of humor. Her memory and cognitive functions had been marginal, so this was a good sign.

In a small village in France, where once sat a large chemical plant, now deserted, the mayor received a check for the city from an anonymous donor. While this had happened on occasion, when some church woman or other would leave their pitiful estates to the town, this was very different. The cashiers check was for seven million francs.

Three members of the justice department were indicted on felony charges and their arrests lead to a number of others. The trail lead to the RNC and almost all the way to "K", but not quite. Two high ranking staffers for US senators committed suicide in the same week. Amazingly 4 US senators announced their imminent retirement and two of these would not finish out their terms.

In Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, St Louis, Charlotte, Miami, Kansas City, Boston, New Port, New Haven, Hartford, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Nashville, Little Rock, St Paul, Fargo, Montgomery, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and many other cities both major and minor, citizens of once expansive means found themselves in completely different circumstances.
The sheer magnitude of the operation was beyond imagination and therefore not imagined or considered a possibility.

The crashing economy explained so much of what happened to these captains of industry that few knew the truth. Of course none of the victims would admit it to anyone else, so its full extent was never known. Could anyone have put it all together they would have seen the redistribution of over 50 trillion dollars; all done in less than 24 hours.

To those on the receiving end of this largesse it seemed as though the angels had spoken and blessed them. What else could explain the anonymous donors helping the homeless, the aged, the poor, the sick, and the downtrodden of our societies?

The unintended consequence of all this was an upsurge in the belief in God and miracles. From the single Mom who had her maxed credit card bills paid by a mysterious philanthropist for a Christmas present to the sponge diver in Greece that received a new boat; it was a very merry Christmas for all. It looked like jolly Old Saint Nick was going above and beyond in this time of financial crisis. The copper miner in Baghdad that found a check for $100,000 in his mailbox the day after being laid off was but one of millions of recipients.

The beauty of the plan had never been in the implementation of the operation; that was just tech stuff. The beauty had been in establishing the organizations to make the donations and help the people. That had taken many years. Now the elderly in Spokane could afford their B-vitamins. The paraplegic in Ireland could get a hands free mouse to work on the web. These organizations had been manned with workers who were compulsive about helping others. Now they had the means.

Claude opened the trunk of the small sports car he'd had brought in to his island. Inside were Christmas presents for Justine along with pictures of some youngsters that had been helped by one of the NGOs he sponsored. The small village in Africa had seen three years of drought, raids by other tribes and then virulent diseases. The adult population had been ravaged. Had not Edith Eben-Ufot Ukembe come to their rescue the boys and girls would have starved to death. Claude and Justine would put each picture in an ornament on their tree.

Back in Arizona, McCool and Jean were just getting settled into their new home. The small one level adobe house was very different from their previous North Carolina abode, but once the Christmas tree was up, it seemed like home.

After the New Year Thomas and Jean would consider what course to take. The FBI consultant gig looked none too good after the experience at the White House. Perhaps as Jean had said, he was getting just a bit too old for that much action.