Paying Too Much for Stolen Stationery He Planned to Donate

school-supplies-300x187“He waited for an hour.”


He waited for an hour. The line still had not moved so he put half the composition books into his messenger bag. That would teach them.

Another hour passed and the rest of the composition books went into his bag as well. He still couldn’t see the checkout counter.

He looked at the lady standing behind him in line. Mercifully two of her noisy brood had fallen asleep in the shopping cart. The third, her youngest was quiet now, but was still swinging from her hair, his face red from a prior bout of screaming.

Reaching back into his bag, he produced a cookie, “Is it OK for him to have this?” he asked and held it out when she nodded assent.

“Thanks,” she said as she sat the boy in the cart with his bikkie.

His bag then produced a bottle of water which he offered to her.

She took it, drank. She said, “You’re like Felix the Cat.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“You know, Felix and his bag of tricks. What else do you have in there?”

“A bunch of composition books I’m planning to steal.” he said. “They have ‘em on sale; ten for a dollar. I’ve got about four dollars worth. But, if this line doesn’t start moving soon I’m going to have some pens, pencils, paint brushes, scissors, rulers and slate boards as well. Along with some other miscellaneous stationery supplies that I plan to donate to the school. If I have to wait here much longer, I’m going to wet my pants.”

She nodded at her youngest. He was sitting in the cart with his cookie sticking out of his mouth. His eyes were at half mast and a large wet stain was getting larger on the front of his trousers. “Looks like Malcolm beat you to it.” she said.

Wordlessly he stuffed the rest of his intended purchases into his bag. He grabbed a box of envelopes and a pen off the shelf near to where they were standing. He carefully extracted a single envelope and dug in his hip pocket. He was dancing a little bit as he peeled a fifty dollar bill from his money clip and sealed it in the envelope.  He wrote:

Manager, Staples, Soquel Ave. Live Oak

“Have a nice day.” he said to the mom who had been toughing it out with him in the line and he walked away, making a bee line towards the exit.

“See ya later, Felix. Thanks.” She said to his back as he walked away.

He stopped briefly by the frantic cashier. Handing her the envelope he asked, “Can you give this to the manager?”

“Yeah sure,” she stuck it under the counter to deal with later.

He left. As he passed through the door an alarm sounded and he took off running down Chanticleer. He must have really had to pee. He ducked onto the grounds of the assisted living center and headed towards the back. He must have jumped the fence into the creek bed beyond. No one saw him again that day. He might have gone north towards the mountains or south towards the beach.


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Daily Prompt: The Mirror Crack’d

Daily Prompt: The Mirror Crack’d

You wake up one morning to a world without mirrors. How does your life — from your everyday routines to your perception of yourself — change?


 

Life is good. I have everything I could ever want. Strangers want to give me money and jewels. Women offer sex. I have power. I have these things because I remembered. I remembered how stuff was made.

It was only two or three years ago when it happened and it was not a local thing either, it was global. All the mirrors were gone, in their place were murals. Primitive murals executed with crayons or tempera paints hung where the mirrors had once been. No one really noticed – no one but me, apparently.

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I waited for big business or big government to intervene and fix this problem. Meanwhile people went out with bad hair and bad makeup. They would peer deeply into the crayon drawings and believe that they were looking at their reflections. You could not go out without seeing folks whose clothes were hanging funny, or whose shirttails were untucked at the back. There was a lot of stress and two countries with large fashion industries, Italy and France, actually declared war on one another. Fortunately, UN intervention put an end to that without any shots being fired.

It slowly dawned on me that nothing was going to be done. Apparently the recipe for making a proper mirror had disappeared with the mirrors themselves. Why did I remember how it was done? What made me special? I decided that the answers to those questions didn’t matter. I set to work and began experimenting with silvering the back of glass sheets in my garage. My products were primitive but functional. I began selling. Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Duluth, money was rolling in. People craved their reflections. I sold by word of mouth, no marketing or advertising budget required. Soon I expanded to the international markets and it just got better and better. Mirrors in homes were all the rage and I capitalized on their popularity. Mirrors on automobiles were soon recognized as a boon to safety and I jumped into that market as well. The building industry jumped on the bandwagon and started to clad high rise buildings with my product. There was no end in sight. I was rich. I was all-powerful. I was omnipotent.

But, there was a dark side. I became ruthless. Employees, workers, were not allowed to leave the company under penalty of death. When a competitor surfaced in Sri Lanka they woke to find their factories burned to the ground and their families missing. I did what I had to do to protect my business but I don’t feel good about it. It’s hard to face myself in the mirror these days. I’m going to have all the mirrors in my house removed and replaced with murals; murals done in crayons and temperas. But, then I won’t be able to leave the house any more.


Daily Prompt: Pains and Gains

Daily Prompt: Pains and Gains

Do you agree with Jane Fonda’s favorite exercise motto, “no pain, no gain?” Is it impossible to attain greatness without considerable hardship?


 

Some are born with a silver spoon but most get ahead through other means. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there. Which path do you choose? Some of your choices are as different as night and day, while some are separated only by subtle nuance.

Daily Post likes Ms. Fonda’s credo, “No Pain, No Gain”
Is there a reason that strugglingartist is one word?

The Bible tells us that if we are meek we will inherit the earth
Gandhi, Mother Theresa

Old wives and philosophers advise patience and tell us that “good things come to those who wait”
True enough if you want good things. What if you want to conquer? Is there always a difference?

Mark Twain, in all his wisdom, reminded us that we need to get started if we want to get ahead
Get off your rusty-dusty?

“There are two ways to get ahead in this world,” advise many captains of industry, “by your own industriousness and through the stupidity of others”
Synonymous perhaps, with, “work smart, work hard, and take advantage of opportunities when they are presented”

Maybe it’s just ‘luck’

Perhaps ‘fate’ and preordination are the keys

Do the scouts have it right with their motto, “Be Prepared”
Definitely wisdom with this one. Whether when striving to get ahead or merely to survive

 

I know only, that this is not a multiple choice quiz and that you don’t get a lot of chances to get it right.
First, define what ‘success’ means for you.
Remember that what works for one may not work for another.
Choose wisely children and be kind.


Winter – In the Places I Live

Photo Challenge: Dialogue


 

 

Nikon CoolPix L20 f/4.8 1/76 sec
Winter – Santa Cruz
Nikon CoolPix L20, f/5.5 1/402 sec
Winter – Lincoln County

 

Daily Prompt: New Dawn

Daily Prompt: New Dawn

 How often do you get to (or have to) be awake for sunrise? Tell us about what happened the last time you were up so early (or late…).


 

I wake and go down to the kitchen with ‘spot on’ timing,
Mr. Coffee is sputtering his last, through the grounds and into the pot.
As I dress, I drink my first cup. Dark and warm.

Jeans,
Flannel shirt over wife beater,
Lace-up work boots.

Grab an apple
Fill a travel mug.
Fire up the truck and start north.
I’ll stop for breakfast in a couple of hours.

Watch the sunrise.


 

I Threw It Away


Saturday, 17.May.2014

 

“Soledad?”

“Si Senora.”

“Uhm, ¿Por favor… como se dice?… Do you? No, no… ¿Sabes, que pasó los papeles, que estaban uhm, sobre la mesa aquí?

“Very good Señora. Tu español es cada vez muy buena.”

“Thank you Soledad, but I’m looking for those papers. Do you know where they are?”

“Si, Señora.”

“So, where are they please?”

“Bueno, para ser honesta me tiré a la basura.”

“What?”

“I threw them away Señora. Old newspapers, envelopes and scraps was all that was in that pile, did you need them?”

“No, I guess not Soledad. I thought my Lotto ticket may have been there and I was going to check my numbers. It’s not important I probably tossed it already. I never win anyway.”

 

Saturday, 30.August.2014

 

“Buenos días Soledad. Cómo estás?”

“Bien, gracias, Señora. But my mother is not well. I have to go back home and help look after her.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. When will you be going?”

“Monday morning Señora. We are worried that she may not last much longer.”

“Monday? Oh no! This is a problem. When will you be back? Who will clean my house?”

“I don’t know Señora. I have to go home to my mother. There are plenty of girls looking for work. I am sure you will not have a problem.”

 

Sunday, 31.August.2014

 

Soledad threw the last box into the back of the new red truck that she bought last night with some of her cash. It was the first she had dared to spend. She had had to give her cousin half of her winnings, he was a US Citizen, but she still had almost 25 million dollars in the Caymans. That would go a long way and do a lot of good in Oaxaca. She would give some to the church, she would give some to the orphans and she would build a school. Maybe they would name it after her: The Maria Soledad Esperanza Marquez School. It would be a fine school indeed.


 

flash-fiction-badge1Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt-35

Daily Prompt: August Blues

Daily Prompt: August Blues

 As a kid, were you happy or anxious about going back to school? Now that you’re older, how has your attitude toward the end of the summer evolved?


 

Irene was wearing a pink and blue flower print cotton shift and standing on the front porch with her hands on her hips as she watched the school bus pull away from the curb. “Thank God summer is over.” She said out loud, speaking more to herself than to Jenny; but no one else was there to hear her so Jenny assumed that Irene was speaking to her, and she replied.

“Amen to that,” Jenny said. “We should go inside and mix up some Bloody Mary’s. Celebrate the kids going back to school.”

“I don’t want some Bloody Mary’s,” Irene said, “and, I’m not all that happy ’bout the kids going back to school neither. I’m gonna miss having ’em around the house. I like ‘em being underfoot all day.”

“Yeah, I’m gonna miss ‘em too,” Jenny parroted back distractedly. “The little bastards do kinda grow on you. Who are we gonna kick around now?”

“What the hell are you talkin’ about Jenny?”

“I’m talkin’ ’bout, what with the kids gone back to school, I can start drinking at 8 o’clock – when the school bus leaves. I can drink till noon and then take a nap till 3:30 when they come home from school. Hell, if Billy makes the team I can sleep till 4. Summer really puts a kink in my drinking habits. Why, what are you talkin’ ’bout Irene?”

“I’m talkin’ about how the traffic is gonna ease up without so many folks comin’ to the beach. It’s gonna be a lot easier to get around. What are we gonna do with you Jenny? Do we gotta have another intervention?”

“Not yet,” Jenny said as she pulled a flask out of her bag. “But, maybe ’round Thanksgiving time.”


 

Daily Prompt: Why, Thank You?

Daily Prompt: Why, Thank You?

 What’s the best (or rather, worst) backhanded compliment you’ve ever received? If you can’t think of any — when’s the last time someone paid you a compliment you didn’t actually deserve?


August 2014

It was hot that day. Not just hot, but really hot. Somehow I had gotten roped into helping my daughter’s new boyfriend’s mother move to her new apartment. This is the price I pay for driving a pickup truck. In all fairness I would have helped her any way. My daughter had asked nicely if I would do it and I had agreed. I thought it would be a good way to get to know the new boyfriend. I would have picked a different day though.

New boyfriend’s mom is named Jo Anne and she is a very nice, albeit petite, lady. I could tell that she was not going to be much help carrying the sofa or the refrigerator. Her son’s name is Jason. He’s a big boy and he would be there to help with the heavy lifting. The move was pretty much directly across town but it’s not a big town. She had rented a fair sized truck, and we had my Ford. It looked like we would have three or four loads for the rental truck and the same for the pickup. My daughter, Donna, and Jo Anne had worked the day before packing boxes so this shouldn’t take too long. We were starting at 1000 and I thought we should be done by 1700. Read that as “right through the hottest part of the day.” I didn’t plan for “Africa” hot.

The apartment Jo Anne was moving out of was on the second floor of a two story building. The apartment she was moving into was on the second floor of another two story building. There were no elevators at either end. This meant that everything would have to be carried downstairs, loaded into one of the trucks, driven across town, unloaded from the truck and carried upstairs. Donna would be stationed as coordinator in the old apartment and Jo Anne would be in the new. They both did an outstanding job of queuing boxes and small pieces of furniture close to the door for removal and moving boxes and small pieces of furniture to their proper destination rooms on arrival. Jason and I functioned as mules.

A routine was quickly established. Jason and I would unload the departure living room to the trucks, drive across town and unload the trucks to the receiving living room. By the time we got back to the departure house most of the next load would be in the departure living room and we would do it again. Did I mention it was hot? Like Sahara Desert hot? Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate was the watchword. Jason and I were drenched before the first load was in the trucks and it never let up after that.

I’m not real good with small talk and don’t really need it. Jason didn’t really know that about me and he was trying hard, maybe too hard. As we were loading for the first run he tried sports, “How about those Dodgers?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, “with no televised games this season, I’m having a hard time keeping up.” … Long awkward pause, “How are they doing?”

“Pretty good, I think. I’m having a tough time following them this year too.”

It got better though. We settled into a routine. We could talk about the heat. We could talk about the pizza his mom had ordered for lunch and how much we both liked pepperoni. We could talk a little about his work, but I don’t know much about Architecture. We could talk a little about my work, but he doesn’t know much about electronics. The silence was not uncomfortable though. I liked this kid and I hoped he liked me as well. I thought that I couldn’t ask much more for a first time bonding experience with someone Donna cared about. I was feeling good about the day.

We were getting ready to go back to the old apartment for the fourth and final load when Jo Anne pressed cold sodas on us both. As Jason and I were standing at the door of the new house chugging Orange Crush he commented, “Man, I am really hot. I don’t remember ever sweating this much.” Then it popped out of his mouth. “You’re handling the heat pretty good though,” he said. “You sure don’t sweat much for a fat man.”

His hand shot up to cover his mouth as it snapped shut. His eyes got really wide (like twice their size) when he realized what he had just said. His mother shook her head and seemed to shrink in stature as she tried to become invisible. Jason began a string of verbal stumbles, “Uh, Jeez, um, that’s not, what I meant was.”

I let him struggle for about three seconds before I couldn’t help it and burst out laughing. He grinned a little bit, still not sure if I was angry or amused. “You thought you were sweating before,” I laughed, “You should see yourself now.”

Slowly, he broke into a sheepish grin, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”

“Sure you did.” I said. “You can buy the six pack after we get this last load.” I shook his hand and we walked down the stairs.


 

Put Your Heart Into Your Work


 

Everything hurt.

It shouldn’t, I shouldn’t let it get to me, but it always did. Another rejection letter. Christ, I could wallpaper the parlor with them, I had so many. I used to enjoy writing until I started trying to get published. It was not always the same, but the pattern was consistent.

I would send a manuscript.
It would come back with a note: “Great character development but too long,” they would say.

I would tighten it up and send it back.
It would boomerang home again with another note: “Too short, but love the cast.

Rewrite, edit, find a happy medium.
We just don’t like it. The protagonist is wonderful, so real, but the hook doesn’t work… not enough conflict… the resolution leaves us unfulfilled.” Always, words to that effect.

I had to figure out a way to make it work. I had to change things up, take charge of my own destiny. So I sat down to analyze the situation. What was I doing wrong? What was I doing right? What could I do better? I scratched out a list and realized that I had a knack for characters but apparently had trouble drawing in the reader; injecting believable conflict; and worst of all, a penchant for wishy-washy endings

It made sense. My methodology had always been to create the characters and let them tell the story. In retrospect, it was clear to me that when I surrendered control of the story to my cast, things went downhill.

I could fix this.

Rolling a sheet of erasable bond into my old IBM Selectric, I drafted a quick character sketch. His name was Dr. Raymond Concord, a literature professor at a distinguished Ivy League school. He had studied writing and grew up listening to his grandfather tell him stories of “Wild West” shoot outs, of hold ups, and bank robberies; stories of war and destruction. He knew how to craft and tell a story. He knew how to write one as well.

Beyond that, he also knew how to kill. He knew how to kill slowly, painfully, he enjoyed it. He had killed his parents when he was eight years old. Smiling, he had watched them thrash and bleed out after running the blade of his father’s razor across their throats, one at a time. He knew he had been lucky that first time. He had been reckless and impulsive but no one had suspected him. He was just a child, after all. He was forty-three now, and he was an accomplished master.

I suggested a story line to Dr. Concord and let him run with it. In a matter of only a few weeks he crafted the exact story I had hoped for. He had really put his heart into it and it took on a life of its own. In the story Raymond is a professor who needs to be published, for tenure. He continually receives rejection letters, not unlike the ones I had been receiving. In fact, I had shown him a selection of my rejections for inspiration. Unlike me though, Raymond is incapable of creating characters that come to life. He is incapable of sketching a protagonist so real that they can literally leap off the page. In his story, Raymond has to deliver his manuscript in person. He handed it to the editor himself, ensuring that he knew who was readying the rejection letter. That night he would pay them a visit and wielding his considerable powers of persuasion he would painfully convince them to write an acceptance letter and a contract before mercifully killing them and posting the letter to himself.

I had to make few revisions before the manuscript was ready to send for consideration, but the changes were minor. A week after I handed it to the FedEx driver, I knew.  I saw the story on the morning news. Late the night before, an editor at a major publishing house had been brutally murdered in his office. His throat slashed deeply, from ear to ear. I knew the panic he had felt as he watched his blood soak into the desk blotter, his life slowly ebbing away. I knew also that he had been cruelly tortured before he was killed. The anchorman said that there were no suspects.

Three days after the editor’s death made headlines, I received an acceptance letter from my publisher along with a contract. A contract with very favorable terms, I might add.


 

I count 747 for 176