Friday, May 25, 2012

The Inspector and The Terror Redux

Once again, I was under inspection at work last week. It's not just me; the whole office is being inspected. Last week it was just my turn. For three days last week I had someone following my every step out there as I delivered my route, silently watching, clipboard in hand, keeping track of every mistake I might make.

Doesn't that sound like fun?

...Yeah, okay... it sucks. A lot. But occasionally there is a high point to the process. Strangely, my inspection high points seem to, quite often, involve The Terror. (For more information on The Terror, please see my blog entries titled "Introducing The Terror", "The Inspector and The Terror", and "Terrible Hunger")

This was no exception.

My last inspection was in January, so it was pretty deserted when I got to the old-age housing I have on my route. Theses are people who keep the heat cranked in their homes until the outside temperature reaches  90 degrees, and even then they may turn the heat off but they're wearing a sweater. They could catch a chill, by God!

This time it was May, with beautiful weather, so there were a few signs of life about the complex when I arrived there with my Inspector in tow. A few windows were open a crack to let some fresh air in, some ancient people were out wandering about wearing down parkas galoshes and three pairs of pants,  and handymen from the Housing Authority could be seen on people's front stoops putting fresh tennis balls on the feet of the tennent's orthopedic canes and walkers.

In other words, serious signs of octogenarian springtime.

When we arrived at the 4-unit building that houses The Terror she was sitting in a chair outside on her stoop, catching the springtime sun. What I mean by that is she had her parka unzipped to the waist and a thin sliver of her thick cable-knit sweater was catching the sun. What she thought she was doing I have no idea. My theory is that she was wearing so many layers of clothing to ward off the bitter 70 degree temperatures and the cutting 1 mph breeze that she had exhausted herself when she left the house, and that front stoop was as far as she got.

I, by the way, was wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt. But what do I know -- I'm just a kid.


As we approached the building the Inspector saw the old bundled form sitting by the door and he hung back to let me enter and make my deliveries. The Terror, however, looked right past me and saw the stranger with the clipboard lurking on the walkway. She perked right up (well, relatively perky) and started asking questions.

Now, for those of you who have never read about The Terror, I'll have to describe her voice for you. Picture a crow. A big one. Now, take that crow and seal it inside a 50 gallon drum -- one of those metal ones, so it's nice and echo-y. Have you got that so far? Good. Now, take a chainsaw and start to cut the drum open to release the crow. The crow, shrieking in fear as it tries to escape as the chainsaw whines and screams and cuts through the metal side of the drum, all amplified and given a kind of loud, hollow sound to it by the big near-empty drum... this all gives you a rough idea of the voice of The Terror. It's close enough. There is only so much I can do with mere words.

"Who's thaya!?"

Yeah, if you can force that crow-in-a-chainsawed-metal-drum voice into the kind of Boston accent they make fun of on TV, you're one step closer to understanding the full terror of The Terror. Wincing, somewhat at tone but mostly at the sheer volume of the din blasting out of that big empty cave on the front of her head she calls a mouth, I pointed back at the man with the clipboard.

"Him? He's with me, Ma'am."

"What?" she yelled.

"He's with me!" I shouted.

"With you?" she hollered.

"Yes Ma'am!" I hollered back.


"He's keeping an eye on me."

"I can't heah you," she fog horned at me.

"He's keeping an eye on me!" I bellowed.

"An eye on you?" she screeched.

"Watching me, yes Ma'am," I roared.

"Watching you?" she bawled.

Out of breath, I merely nodded vigorously.

"Why?" she brayed.

I tried for levity, but fell far short.

"Because I'm so good-looking!" I cried.

This she heard, but was so astoundingly baffled by my answer I would have been insulted if I hadn't been so exhausted from my efforts at communication. She blinked several times, reminding me of that little 'thinking' icon that your cursor turns into while your computer is processing something, then shook her head dismissively, as if having processed the hell out of it she still couldn't believe it.


The Inspector finally stepped forward, holding up a hand to me.

"I'll handle this," he said. "You can keep working."

I gazed at him, slightly stunned that he would throw himself upon this strange social grenade for me. The Terror bounced her gaze between the two of us a bit like a very weather-beaten scarecrow watching a tennis match. I finally smiled, shrugged, and went through the door behind The Terror to begin sorting the mail into the boxes for the building. The door closed behind me, closing out the Inspector's voice entirely though it barely muffled the Tones of The Terror. I listened to her half of the conversation.

"Who ah you?"



"But why?"

"But... but why?"

"So you think you know his job better than he does?"



"But why?"


"Well I don't understand. They're paying both of you to do his job today?"



"But why?"

I stayed in that hallway for as long as I could. I sorted the mail into the boxes. I set up the mail for the next building. Then for the building after that. Then I simply stood and listened for a little while, grinning and reflecting on that fact that while the Inspector had his clipboard, hand-held computer and rules that seemed to change minute by minute, I had The Terror. Using her was a little bit like winding up a tornado, or a hurricane, and turning it loose on someone. You couldn't control it, you could only dance around and anticipate its movements, and just hope things went the way you wanted.

This was so the way I wanted.

I opened the door and passed through into the sunshine-filled day, gave The Terror a wave and a screamed "Have a nice day!" as I strode by on my way to the next building. Behind me I heard the Inspector give a hasty "Well, I have to go with him now, it was nice talking to you Ma'am," as he hustled to follow me away from The Terror and her terrible domain. A screamed "What?" followed in his wake.

He remained silent as I delivered the next building, standing slump-shouldered and weary-looking. I just did my job and started for the next building in line, and it wasn't until we were half-way to this new building that he spoke in the most dazed and defeated tone I've heard in a long, long time.

"Yeah. That conversation I had with that woman. It didn't go like I thought it would. And it went on... for so long..."

I smiled the rest of the morning from that. Thank you Terror. Thank you so much.

Some people have guns. Some people have weapons of mass destruction. I have The Terror. I'm just using what God gave me.

Oh yeah.

Talk to you later!

Friday, May 18, 2012


I was standing at the back of my mail truck loading up my satchel to make some deliveries when I heard the boy screaming. I mean all of his voice, top of his lungs, voice cracking because he’s putting everything he’s got into screaming.

I spun around (as well as one can spin with a heavy bag hanging from one shoulder — the dang thing almost pulled me into a complete 360!) to see the boy standing on the corner behind me. He was small, smaller than most of the other children walking by, all of them ignoring him but for a glance in his direction, all hurrying home to enjoy the warm sunny afternoon now that they were out of school for the day. The young screamer was thin; spindly arms stuck out of a green Celtics tank-top that billowed about a body too narrow to fill it out, his dark blue knapsack an incongruous thickness on his stick-figure frame. He was facing to my right, down the cross-street, and from my angle I could not see what it was he was looking at, what had his attention as he screamed.

He was, however, screaming a name.

“Jason! Jason! Jaaaaasooooon!

The other children, as I said, simply walked around him as he stood. One quartet of young girls, deep in giggling conversation, actually split to go around him, engulfing him momentarily as they passed him two to a side. They parted and then merged again, like river water flowing around a stone, and paying him about as much mind, despite the fact that the little kid was red-faced with effort, with cords standing out on his neck as he strained for more volume. His voice, though, was topped out. He kept trying.


Concerned that the lad might do himself injury, wondering what in the hell was causing him to scream like that, I started to take a step toward him.


Jason!” He looked to his right, in my direction but past me, and one of his stick-like arms came up with a pointing finger as he turned back toward Jason.

Jason! The Ice Cream Man is stopped on the corner! C’mon! Run!

Ah. I turned in the direction he was indicating, taking a quick side-step to see around my own truck. Yes, there he was. The Ice Cream Man, parked at the corner and doing a brisk business with some of those kids who had hurried past my young screaming friend.

Screaming kids and the Ice Cream Man. Summer must be on the way.

Talk to you later!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Slap Happy

Welcome to the first of my weekly Friday posts. I hope I didn't lose a bunch of people by slowing this thing down, but we'll see. 

I wanted Handsome to clean his mess in the TV room. He decided he wanted to wrestle instead. He was moving at me through the kitchen like he wanted to grapple: feet spread wide, knees bent, hands moving in little circular motions like he was trying to stay loose and not be grabbed. Ready for anything.

“Go clean the TV room,” I said, and as he came at me I slapped him on the upper arm.

Now, for all of you who are cringing or frowning and thinking Bad parent! Child abuser!, let me explain. This is something I do sometimes when Handsome has decided he’s not going to stop, but will just continue wrestling with me despite my saying we are done. I choose a spot on him somewhere, preferably one with bare skin, and I slap it; not hard, but fast and loose. I’m not looking to bruise him, but to sting the skin. When he won’t stop, I slap it again. And again. And again. Every time he comes at me. It’s an open hand, sometimes just fingers without the palm (sometimes, rather than a slap, I’ll flick him in the same way, again and again), and none of these smacks, individually, does any damage. The first one or two aren’t even that painful, according to Handsome. The effect, though, is cumulative. Each successive slap on the same spot stings more and more as the skin on that spot becomes more and more sensitive.

The theory is that eventually he’ll decide he doesn’t want that to go on, and he’ll stop trying to wrestle with me and go do as I asked. The reality is that he’s very stubborn, and sometimes just refuses to quit. This may have been one of those times, but we’ll never know.

I slapped his arm.

I was wearing long sleeves, so rather than slapping me he punched my shoulder.

I slapped his arm.

He punched my shoulder.

I slapped his arm.

He punched my shoulder.

I slapped his arm, but he turned, I misjudged, and I slapped him harder than I meant to, right on the very sensitive spot I had so carefully cultivated. His eyes grew wide, and he looked suddenly angry, though this had been somewhat fun for him up until that point.

I have to admit I felt bad.

“Okay, okay,” I said. “I’m sorry about that. We need to be done now, seriously.”

He still looked angry, and like he was in no mood to let it go like that.

“Alright,” I said, looking to appease him and just get him to clean that TV room. “One free shot, okay?”

He braced himself to give me a good one as I bent forward and tucked up my arm to lower my shoulder into his strike zone and give him a good target. Leaned forward like that, I couldn’t see his face, but I had a clear view of his feet as he suddenly jumped up in the air. Expecting a hard punch to the shoulder, I was understandably confused… right up until his palm cracked down on the back of my head and neck.

Now my slaps to his arm, though repetitive, had sounded weak. They were more fingers than palm, and I was going for the sting. When Handsome’s hand came down in the back of my head there was a sounds like the bull whip makes when they do that act in the circus.

It was sharp.

It was loud.

And it hurt like @#$%^!!!!

I crumpled to the floor as the pain grew. He’d hit me so hard and fast my nerve endings couldn’t cope with the work-load all at once. The pain started out shocking, but grew to blinding as more of my nervous system was pre-empted to deal with the work and for a few moments I couldn’t see.

“…Holy… holy $#/T…” I said. When I could see again, Handsome was looking at me, concerned.

“You alright?”

“Go clean the TV room. I’m just gonna lie here for a while.”

By the time I could get up, he was deep into cleaning the room. I went into the bathroom and checked in the mirror. There was a beautiful red hand print right across the back of my head and upper neck. The skin there was still sensitive and hot to the touch hours later when I got home and got ready for bed.

No, I made no retaliation against Handsome for the slap. I had told him he had a ‘free shot’, and I think he just had as lucky a shot as mine against him was unlucky.

Next time, though, I won’t leave the ‘free shot’ so open. I’ll have to make some rules. Or wear a helmet.

Talk to you later!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

WYMOP - The Podcast Edition!

Welcome to While You're Making Other Plans, the Podcast Edition! Just use the player below to listen to today's post, or you can skip down below the player and read it for yourself. 
Sorry about the large gap beneath the player -- I have no idea how to get rid of it.
Oh -- and FYI, all the links mentioned in the Podcast are included and live in the text below.

Huzzah! Hip-hip-hooray! It’s my Cinco de Mayo Anniversary Blog!

You know, I really should have done something like this yesterday, since it was my 365th consecutive day writing While You’re Making Other Plans. Oh well, I actually drew a comment on my little dog lost story, and I always get a grin when I draw a comment. Thank you to everyone who posted a comment to me over the past year, to everyone who commented on my links to this blog on FaceBook, to everyone who let me know they were enjoying what I was doing here. That wound up being a big part of this whole year for me. Thank you to everyone who read me this year, from those who read a single page to those who came back day after day to check out the weird ramblings that grew out of the mulch-pile in my mind.

Tonight, I'm just going to tell you all what's going on now.

The Poll is in. The numbers were... staggering. Over the course of the past month I wrote 30 posts. In the time I spent writing those 30 posts, my blog showed just over 1,200 page views. 
That's a lot.
For three of those four weeks where I was accumulating those views, I had my poll up asking people's opinion about how often I should blog, since I won't be doing it every day any more. 

30 Days.
1,200 page views.
...8 votes. And I think one of them might be mine.

Not exactly an overwhelming response. More like pulling teeth. One of the high points of this whole month, however, was a wonderful comment I received from Kaye, out in Ohio, on my post It's Coming to the End... Sort Of? I won't re-post it here, but I will respond to it.

Now, I didn't respond to it at the time because I was a little surprised and very touched by it, and I wanted to give it some thought. The more time that went by, however, the more odd it seemed to go back and address it. When I was 'giving it some thought', though, what I was really doing was looking for a nice way to thank her for the wonderful things she said, and now, today, I think I finally have the right words.

Thank you, Kaye.

There. Simple. Thank you, and I appreciate everything you've said in every comment you've ever made here at While You're Making Other Plans. I appreciate every comment I've received over the past year, trust me, but hers was a good one.

Now to what I'll be doing here from now on. That too is simple. I'll be blogging. Not every day, but at least once a week. I'm thinking I'll be posting on Fridays from now on, unless something funny hits me during the week and I feel the intense need to share. I'm actually anticipating that happening  relatively often. If you are someone who, and I still can't believe I'm saying this, actually looks forward to reading what I write here, and you think you might want to know if I post something off-schedule and mid-week, you have an option. That little space in the sidebar on the right that says "Follow Me Automatically By Email". If you put your email address in that field you will receive an email of each posting I make, direct to your inbox the day after I make the post. Since something like half the time I'm making these posts in the middle of the night, most people are reading them the next day anyway. If you decide, at some later date, that you don't want my dreck filling up your inbox, each email contains a link to click to cancel the subscription.

How easy is that?

This cutting back of the blogging will hopefully have the effect of giving you only my more well thought-out blogs, and not the 'I'm only writing this because I need to fill the day' posts. I hate those. I'm pretty sure that if it's fun while I'm writing it, it'll be fun while you're all reading it.

The other effect this cutting back will have is to hopefully allow me some more time to work on writing aimed toward publication. I've recently written here about what I've gotten published in the past month,but here's what I have lined up for the immediate future:
I have two, and possibly three anthologies I want to submit short stories to that are due by the end of this month, and I haven't started them yet. I have one, maybe two anthologies I want to submit to that are due by the end of June, ditto on the 'started yet'. 
I have a short story collection, actually one novella and two not-so-short stories all in one book, called The Dead of Winter that's just about ready to be shopped about for a publisher, and the collection after it in the series, Dead Growth, is in the 'My God this needs a lot of editing' stage. 
I'm almost finished with the rough draft of my first novel, tentatively titled Home Grown, and I have an idea for another book to start once I finish that. And one after that one. And a werewolf series set in the fictional town of Spreewald Maine after that.
I'm about to offer my services as an occasional reader for the podcast Tales to Terrify, a weekly horror story show. I don't know if they'll accept me, but if they do I'll be sort of associated with some successful people in the writing business, and I see that as a good thing.
I have an idea for a podcast of my own, just for the month of October, but at the moment it's just an idea. It's an idea that I like, though.
...and I'll continue writing weekly horror short-shorts for Vamplit Publishing

All this, and I'll still be here at least once a week. If anybody out there can figure out how to get me a 28-30 hour day, I'd appreciate it!

All that writing stuff I just listed off, I'll still be keeping track of that on my website, Check there if you're interested in reading samples of my fiction, or keeping track of how my writing is going. All my Friday Flash for Vamplit is there too, just in case you're curious.

Alright, it's getting late, and Handsome is lying on the bed behind me snoring occasionally. Every once in a while he makes some noise from the other end, but I'm trying to ignore that at the moment. I still have some stuff to get done before I go to bed, and I need to get at least a little sleep before tomorrow comes so I can enjoy the little adventures he seems to bring my way. 

Good bye for now. Thank you all for a terrific year. It's been a lot of fun, and I hope this next year is even better despite WYMOP being weekly instead of daily. This being Saturday, none of you will be reading this until Sunday, so I'll be back at you here in about five days.

Or less.

Talk to you later!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Man's Best Friend?


I looked up at the small sound, craning my neck to see behind me. Back on the sidewalk I had just left as I crossed the street, head down and sorting the mail as I walked my route on automatic pilot, was a small dog. Black and white, a little barrel-bodied and slightly grizzled, the dog stood with his head hung low so as to look up at me from beneath his overhanging brow. His bulging eyes gave him a mournful look, and his tail was doing a slow wag. All it took was a quick look to come to the conclusion that his wuff had been an attempt to get my attention without getting himself into trouble.

“Hey, boy! I don’t have anything to feed you, but I can give you a pretty good scratching!”

I went back across the street as the dog watched me hopefully. Though my mail bag almost pulled me over backward with the move, I decided to squat next to him for the patting rather than leaning straight down to loom over him. He wasn’t looking all that confident about his decision to get my attention. I only had one hand free, the was other filled with the mail I had been sorting, but I started to work my fingers around his ears and the back of his neck. Scratching him like this accomplished two things. First, the little old guy decided he had been spot on to flag me down, and that I was going to be, at least for the foreseeable future, his best friend. Second, I was able to make sure he wasn’t wearing a collar.

He wasn’t.

That worried me. Though I didn’t know his name I was pretty sure I knew which house on the street was his, but he was five houses down from it and, I think, walking in the wrong direction. With no collar there was no way that anyone else cold know where to bring him. Hmm…

“Come on, boy,” I said, straightening up at about half speed so as not to startle him and put our new-found best-friendship to the test. I slapped my thigh, repeated my ‘come on, boy’, and strolled off up the street accompanied by a slightly elderly and out-of-shape Boston Terrier. I didn’t have to look down to make sure he was staying with me on the walk; every 2nd or 3rd step he would let out a wheezing breath. It was a little like taking a short slow choo-choo train out for some exercise.

We got to the house I suspected was his, and while I went to the front porch and rang the bell, my little gaspy buddy went up the driveway to the side stairs up top the back porch. I rang twice, but there was no answer at my door. Thinking perhaps that the bell was broken, I knocked loudly. Though I could see lights on in the back of the house and hear children moving about in there, no one came to the door. I went to the foot of the stairs and looked up the driveway to find my new little friend waiting for me on the bottom step to the back porch. The expression on his face clearly said “Dude, what the hell are you doing up there when I was clearly leading you back here?”

So I went and joined him on the back porch. He went right to the door, his little pushed-in nose pressed right to the white-painted wood.

I raised my hand and knocked.

And my little pal, my wheezy buddy, my very own little ebony and ivory all rolled into one, the little dog who had accepted my scratching, licked my hand, walked with me like he was my own, even invited me to come up and join him on this back porch, who had looked upon me as his best friend in the world for the past five minutes, took a step back and began to bark at me like I was a total stranger. All that goodwill and harmonious feeling we had built up as I walked him home was gone in an instant as he stood there, stiff-legged, quivering with indignation that I would deign to knock on his door.

“Hey,” I said, "you know me! You brought me up here!"

At my voice he barked some more, not aggressively, but in that 'I'm defending my house from you, stranger' way that most dogs have.

The door opened, and the woman of the house said "Oh, was he following you?"

"No," I said, "but I found him up the street a ways, and since he didn't have a collar I wanted to make sure he got home."

"Thank you," she said. "That was very nice of you! Come on in here!"

That last was said to the dog, who had continued to bark at me during the conversation. At her words he stopped his husky yapping, put what little nose God had given him in the air and stalked into the house. His stiff-legged little walk and the way he wouldn't even look back at me said, more clearly than any words could have, the he had put me, the intruder, in my place, and I was dismissed.

The door closed, and I stood alone on the porch for a few seconds.

"What the hell just happened?"

I received no answer.

Man's best friend my big hairy butt.

Talk to you later!

*Additional Note*

While I was looking for the photo of the Boston Terrier used in the above post, I stumbled across this photo of another Boston Terrier.
 BTs are cool little dogs. They are a part of nature. This, in my humble opinion, is a crime against nature. We need to take a stand against crimes against nature. 
You can help.
Won't you?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mail Bag! 5-3-2012

This is your last day to vote in my poll!  Two easy clicks to give me your opinion.
I'm just sayin'...

It's Mail Bag time again!

So, I'm going to choose a few items that appeared in my Junk Mail Folder in the past 30 days, and give you my 1st response to them. Off the top of my head. Just from looking at the Subject line, not actually opening them. It is all Junk Mail, after all...

  • Digital Deals: "Who doesn't love the Slushy Magic?
    • Me! Me! Over here! Can you see me waving my hand like it's on fire and I'm trying to put it out? That, that guy you're talking about -- that would be me.

  • Reader's Digest: "Immediate Response Requested"
    • Okay, how about this: Go @%$# your @!^%$ with a @%&!! you bossy @$$! That 'immediate' enough for you?

  • RealWritingJobs: "Rob, Do you want to get paid?"
    • Well, yes, now that you mention it. Doesn't everybody? However... unless you are willing to pay me an enormous amount of money, just the fact that you are asking me that question means you're too dumb for me to want to work with you. If I want to work for Stupid, I can just stay right where I am, thank you very much!

  • CRUISE DEALS: "REDUCED Caribbean Cruise Packages Available!"
    • Unless by 'reduced' you mean 'free', keep walking. Floating. Whatever.

  • Sugar Daddy:  "Beautiful Women Seeking Wealthy Men"
    • Okay, this one has to win the award for most up-front and honest line in advertising. The only way it could be even more honest would be if they said "Beautiful Women Seeking Wealthy Men Not Expected To Live Much Longer". The problem is, this is a little like telling a homeless guy he can get a new suit for just $100. New suits look nice, but he doesn't care. He'd rather have the $100. So would I.

  • Dental Plans: "Get a dental plan you can afford"
    • I already have a dental plan I can afford. It's a three part plan.
           1 - Toothbrush
           2 - Toothpaste
           3 - Dental Floss
      'Nuff said.

  • Dog Food Coupons: "Find printable dog food coupons on top brands here."
    • Okay people, I'd like to point something out to you all, something somewhat pertinent here:
           I don't have a dog.

  • Elementary School Teacher courses available: "Learn how to become a Elementary School Teacher" 

    • But I already learned to become a Secondary School Teacher. An English Teacher, to be precise. That's why I feel I should point out that it's 'an Elementary School Teacher', not 'a Elementary School Teacher'. One uses a before words beginning with a consonant sound, and an before words beginning with a vowel sound. Now I'm going to assign you this extra worksheet as homework...

...and I think that's it from the month of April. I hope you got at least a little laugh.

 I know I did.

Talk to you later!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Slow, Children

There is just one day left to vote in my poll! All it takes is one click of the mouse to let me know how you feel about my blogging. If you have an opinion, one way or the other, please, let me hear from you!

...and now, on with the blog!

I was walking along delivering my route this afternoon, wondering what to write about for you all today, when I looked up and saw a sign. Now, I was in a neighborhood that lies right between a school and a park with a playground, so there’s lots of foot traffic, especially kids. Thus, it made perfect sense that I should look up to see a “Slow, Children” sign. An old story popped into my head from when I was about 10 years old, and even today it still had the power to make me laugh. From that sign to my mind, and from my mind to yours, ‘The Slow Children’.

I was about 10 years old at the time, so that makes this something like 33 years ago. I was out playing at a friend’s house, and I’ll call him JL. JL, if he ever reads this, will probably know who he is.

So there we were, spending an end-of-the-summer evening playing catch with a tennis ball in the street in front of JL’s house. Now it was, and still is, a narrow street with a congested, sort of small-town feel to it. With parked cars lining one curb there was barely room for one car to pass down the street, and there was no way two cars could pass each other going in either direction, so it was a good thing it’s a one-way. The game had progressed from playing simple catch to playing catch by throwing the ball over the streetlight, and then to trying to hit the streetlight with the tennis ball; although if any adult had asked we would have staunchly insisted that any contact with that light high above the street was purely accidental. This lie would have only worked on someone who had not seen our little victory dances each time the light made a pong sound, but we weren’t thinking that far ahead.

We were 10. Thinking ahead was not something we were known for.

The summer sun was getting low in the sky when, as so often happens when one plays in the street, a car came around the corner behind me. In a custom that I continue to follow while playing in a street with Handsome to this day, JL called out “Car!” and headed for the sidewalk. I scooped up the ball on a bounce and did likewise.

Well, sort of.

Keep in mind that it was the end of Summer, and I had been out of school for a while. Add that to my age of 10, and quite often you get one thing: a wise-ass. I turned toward the sidewalk and performed a beautiful ‘Bionic Man’ run toward the sidewalk.

For those of you who are too young to remember the television show ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’, I’ll explain. It was a sort of superhero television show from the late 70’s, starring Lee Majors. The premise was that a man, physically destroyed in an accident, is rebuilt as a cyborg (this, though, was before the term ‘cyborg’ was even known) with one artificial arm, eye, and both legs, all called 'bionic implants'. There weren’t a lot of special effects in the 70’s, especially on television. What they would do to let you know he was using his ‘bionic implants’, they would run it in slow-motion. If he used his super-strong arm to bend bars, or used his super-strong legs to leap 30 feet in a single bound, he did it in glorious slow motion. They did splurge and give it a strange mechanical sound-effect as well.

Now, all this means that if the Bionic Man ran anywhere, which, according to the show premise he could do at upwards of 60 mph, he did so in slow motion. The faster he ran, the slower he moved. With splurgy mechanical sound effects, just in case you hadn’t caught on yet.

So, 10-year-old, end of the summer smart-ass that I was, I scooped up the tennis ball and ran across the street in front of the waiting car in glorious slow-motion.

With sound effects.

When I was finally out of the way and the car could proceed, the car did not pass. The driver pulled up only far enough that he was level with me and he laboriously cranked down the window (yes, children, this was way back in the days when cars with power windows were not widely owned, and we had to physically wind the car windows up and down. We also had to get up out of our chairs and cross the room and twist a knob to change to another of our 12 television channels, but that’s another tale). The window slowly lowered, and a hand was thrust out to beckon me over.

I was 10. I was a wise-ass. I was ready to ignore and possibly rebuff the tongue-lashing I was certain was in my future as I strutted over to the car. I thought I was ready for anything. But I wasn’t ready for this.

Did the driver berate me for crossing the street so slowly? Did he ask me what my problem was? Did he, as he probably should have, call me an ass?


He pointed to the sign on the light pole we were right next to, and spoke in a flat, deadpan voice.

“Are you one of the slow children?”

I gaped at him, but he simply rolled on up the street, cranking the window as he went.

I looked at the sign.

I started laughing.

I kept laughing.

By the time he reached the other end of the street and he was sitting, waiting to pull into traffic, one amber directional flashing and flashing, I was sitting on the curb right where he had left me, still laughing. I had tried repeatedly to tell my friend what was so funny, but every time I started telling the story I started laughing again.

That was the first time I can remember that I laughed until it actually hurt.

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Three Good Things/ One Bad Dance

There's just two days left to weigh in on my poll! It's just to the right, and all it takes is two clicks to give me some reader feedback about how often I should be blogging. Please, I'd love to hear what you think on the matter! 

...and now, on with the blog.

I've posted recently about anxiously awaiting word from Scarlett River Press about one of my stories, Justice, and its possible publication. It's been a while since I've had anything published, and I guess I was getting a bit antsy. Well, I sat down this afternoon to try to write this blog on my lunch (though I had no idea what I was going to write about), and I had an email waiting for me.

"Dark Eclipse 11 is now available.  Thanks to all of you for your hard work.  Now go promote it!"

If you follow that link you'll get to Dark Eclipse #11 on Amazon, and there, in the product description, is my name along with one of my stories, It's Not What You Think.

Huzzah! Published again! It's not word about Justice, but it'll do, right? So I was all happy about that, but I still had no idea what to blog about. I wound up staring at the screen (and occasionally flipping over to that Amazon page to look at my name) until my lunch was over.


Okay, so when I got home tonight I sat right down here at the laptop, determined to pound out a blog. I still had no idea what I was going to write about, so I paused and checked my email before I really got started. There was another email waiting for me.

"Congratulations Rob! Your story "Justice" has been accepted for the charity anthology "Scarlett Whispers." Please fill out, sign and return the attached contract along with a bio and any links to personal or work related pages. Thank you for submitting to Scarlett River Press."


Well, I sort of dove right in and filled out the attached contract, then got to work on a small bio, rewrote the bio, got one I kind of like, and sent the whole thing back just as quick as I could. The work was interspersed with happy little noises I couldn't seem to stop making. 

Okay, I said to myself. Time to buckle down and hit that blog hard. But, uh, what the hell am I going to write about?

My email alert went off. I, of course, having had such good luck with email today, checked it immediately. There was an email from Dark Moon Books.

"Attached is the edited version of your story, Finders Keepers.  Please go through and accept the changes as you see necessary.  Then send me a final version and we will get you into a publication :)"

The 'woohoo' was considerably longer this time, and accompanied by a small, embarrassing chair-dance which I will not even endeavor to describe. I'll just say overbite and Cabbage Patch, and leave it at that.

My first thought was to now dive right into the edit and see their suggested changes so I can get it back to them ASAP, but how many times can I sit down to write this blog and just not write it? But now, when I sit and try to think of something to write about, all I can think of are the emails I have been getting all day.

So here you are. Not funny, maybe not even entertaining at all, but it's the most significant thing to happen to me all day. And it was funny, or would have been, had you seen that dance. 

Thank God you didn't see the dance...

Talk to you later!