Random Scribbles · The Blog Propellant · writing

He Got Lucky This Time


Chester studied the board for awhile then he looked up at the kid. The kid was watching the skateboarders across the park. Chester could tell that the kid would rather be over on that half pipe than here at the chess boards. He figured he should probably make short work of this kid so that he could skedaddle; do him a favour and let him get over with his friends doing ollies, and wheelies, and whatever other tricks the skaters were doing over there.

Yeah, he would cut the kid some slack. Beat him quickly. Chester moved his Queen’s rook forward. He figured he could beat the kid with four more moves. He slapped his timer.


He reached for his pipe thinking to get a smoke in.

The kid casually looked down at the board, moved a bishop three spaces on the diagonal, “Check,” the kid said and hit his timer. A passing girl caught his attention and he watched her, turning his head as she walked by.


“Jesus, Kid,” Chester said as he shook out the match, “I didn’t even get my pipe lit.” He studied what the kid had done. There was no problem. Moving a pawn forward one space would block that bishop from getting his king. Might take a few more moves to beat the kid now though.


The kid didn’t even look at the board. He was still watching the girl walk away. Grabbing blindly he picked up his queen’s knight. He tore his eyes from the girl and placed the knight on the board, the only place it could go. He turned his head back to where the girl had vanished around a curve in the path and then looked back at Chester.

“Checkmate,” the kid said, “Good game Mr. Wharton. Hey, I gotta go. He stood up and dropped his skateboard on the asphalt pathway, immediately pushing in the direction of the vanished girl.

“Will you be here next weekend?” Chester yelled after him.

“I’ll see you then, Mr. Wharton, we can have a rematch,” and he was gone.

“That kid got lucky again,” Chester Wharton thought to himself, “that’s one lucky kid! I’ll get him next week though.”


The Blog Propellant · Uncategorized · writing

On-line Writer’s Guild #21

  1. It’s good to see you Bernice
  2. A handy blade
  3. I need a crowd to get lost in

TBP’s On-line Writer’s Guild #21

I pushed open the door and stood inside letting my eyes adjust to the lower light level that was in the restaurant. The hostess greeted me.

“Good evening, sir, how many in your party?”

“I’m not sure,” I answered, “I’m supposed to be meeting someone. Can I go in and look around?”

She nodded, and turned her attention back to the iphone that rested on her podium. Sticking my head around the divider that separated the dining area from the entry, I scanned the tables. There she was at the other side of the room. Waving, bouncing up and down in her chair, I expected her to yell or whistle. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. I crossed the room and slid into the chair opposite her; she took my hand.

“Thanks for coming, David.”

“It’s good to see you, Bernice. What’s up?”

“It’s Danielle. I think she’s…”

That was when the waiter showed up, demanding our immediate attention in order to recite a litany of menu items we could order that were not on the board. Bernice ordered a Bouillabaisse and a glass of Chardonnay. I settled on a long neck beer and a cheese Panini because it was the closest thing to a grilled cheese sandwich that I was going to get here.

As the waiter turned to leave and go bother another group of diners I took the time to look at Bernice. She was a handsome woman and I had been her second husband. Our relationship, while it lasted had been solely physical. We couldn’t keep our hands off one another. Danielle had been the product of her first marriage: her marriage to Chet.

She had enjoyed the company of two additional husbands since she had left me. Danielle was her only child and had been two years old during my brief marriage to her mother. That seemed to have been a long time ago.

Danielle was the reason I had stayed with Bernice for almost a year. After the shine, the gloss, of the physical relationship wore down we both realized that we had nothing in common. We had nothing to talk about, except for the fact that we both adored her daughter. I used to delight in taking Danielle down to the park to feed the ducks in the pond, or push her on the swing. She loved the swings, I think she would have happily spent her life on the swings. I had stayed in touch with Danielle but maintained only limited contact with her mother over the ensuing years.

“Are you listening to me, David?” Bernice trilled. “Did you hear what I just said?”

“Of course, I heard you,” I answered.

“Well, what should we do about it?”

“Do about what?”

“Honestly, you haven’t changed, and you’re such a shit, you’re not listening to me at all. I said that I think Danielle is pregnant.”

“Pregnant? Are you sure?”

“I’m pretty sure. A woman can recognize the signs, you know.”

“Have you asked her?”


“Why not?”

“I was hoping you would do that.”

“Sure, I’ll come over this weekend and take her to the park. We still go to the park a lot. I’ll ask her then.”

Bernice and I didn’t speak to one another for the rest of the meal. When I left I drove downtown. I needed people. I needed to become just another anonymous face in a faceless throng of people. I needed a crowd to get lost in.

Instead I called Danielle.

“Hi, David.” She said when she picked up.

“Hey Danielle, I just had dinner with your mother. She tells me that congratulations might be in order.”

“Thanks, I’m about four months along.”

“How you feeling?”

“I feel great but I’ve been worried about how I should tell Mom. Guess I don’t have to worry about that anymore, huh?”

“Don’t tell her that I called. She wants me to ask you about it this weekend. I told her I would come by and pick you up so we could talk about it. Want to come to my place for a barbeque? You can bring your young man if you want.”

“That sounds great. Saturday?”

“Yeah, I’ll pick you up in the morning, around ten. I’ll grill burgers for lunch.”


The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP’s On-Line Writer’s Guild #20


  1. Kerouac, Steinbeck, Twain
  2. Stop me if you’ve already heard this
  3. Wasabi

There were four of us competing for the post.

Bonnie Kerouac was the front runner and favoured to win but Rich Twain had mounted a strong comeback. Bonnie was starting to get worried. Andy Steinbeck was considering dropping out of the race but was still discussing options with his advisors. Me? I didn’t care if I won or not. I had thrown my hat into the ring with the sole purpose of getting extra credit for my Poli-Sci class.

My name is Mailer, Thomas Mailer and I’m an English Major.

Rich Twain studied Marketing Communications. He carried a solid 2.0 GPA and liked to party more than he liked to study. He was a smart guy – if you could catch him sober. I think his faculty advisor had sobered him up just in the nick of time. The smart money was still on Bonnie but there was a faint glimmer of hope that he might edge Kerouac out of the race at the last minute.

I had dated Bonnie a couple of times during our sophomore year but nothing ever came of it. She was studying Computer Science – wanted to be a game developer. We had absolutely nothing in common, nothing to talk about, but the sex had been good. The parting had been amicable and we were still friends. I had led her on for as long as I could, but Bonnie Kerouac had dumped me when she understood that I was not prepared to give her the commitment that she wanted. She was looking for something long-term. I was chasing skirts.

Andy Steinbeck was a jock who had lettered in two sports, tennis and darts. He might’ve had a better chance in this race if he had played a higher profile sport than darts – maybe football or rugby?

The election was on a Tuesday. I woke early and headed to the library to vote for myself. I didn’t have any classes so I strolled downtown with a detour past The Bent Taco where I treated myself to a breakfast burrito. As is usually the case I wound up at The Bookshop and wandered in. I did a lot of reading at The Bookshop. The staff there was all hippies and they didn’t seem to mind if I sat all day, reading without buying a thing. I went straight to the shelf that held the book I had been slowly working through. It had been written by some guy in 1986 and was titled Miami and the Siege of Chicago. One of the TA’s had recommended it. I thought it was a little old fashioned but still entertaining. Yanking the copy I had been reading I made my way to one of the soft, easy chairs that The Bookshop provided. Thumbing through the book, I was relieved to find that my bookmark was still in place.

OOPS – I spent almost 35 minutes writing this much. I’m not going to edit. You get the rough cut, the first draft. Sorry guys, there’s no lipstick on this pig!

The Blog Propellant · writing

Parliamentary Procedures

  1. Time is on our side
  2. The squeak on the stairs
  3. Movie of the week

TBP’s On-line Writer’s Guild #19

They were gathered in the upstairs bedroom, the bedroom that looked out over the courthouse. The doctor called the meeting to order.

“Quiet everyone, quiet,” he said. “We have a serious problem here and we need to address it. I think you are all aware that a new family has moved into the house and they have begun redecorating. We can’t have that. When Bill died we all naturally assumed that the house would stand vacant and we would have free reign.” Doctor Johnson looked over at Bill, “What happened, can you explain it?”

“Of course I can. It’s my son and his wife. They have the house now! I told you about this before I died but all of you arrogant spirits didn’t want to accept the facts. You didn’t listen to me.”

“We’ve got to get them out of here.” Lamont said, “They’ll screw everything up.” Everyone began talking at once, and Dr. Johnson let them rant for awhile. He took inventory of who was here.

Lamont had been a railroad man who had worked at the roundhouse years ago when the rails were a viable concern in town. In a tragic accident he had lost his leg to the steel wheel of a boxcar. By the time he got to Dr. Johnson’s he had lost too much blood and he bled out in the very room where they now met. For thirty years Dr. Johnson had run his practice from this old house. When he passed away; he stayed. It had been his home and he knew that other spirits lingered. All of them had passed in the house. Lamont, from blood loss; Elizabeth had expired during childbirth; she was still here, but the baby had moved on. Randall, Buck, Leticia, and Carrie Belle were here and so was Patsy. Bill was the latest. He had lived in the house until his death three years ago. He was still here though, he had loved the house too.

Buck finally appointed himself as spokesperson, “We need to scare them out,” he said. “We’re ghosts, this should be easy for us.”

“No way,” Bill interjected, “I won’t have any part of this. That’s my son and his family. I won’t let you do it.”

“Nobody asked you,” Buck shot back with a sneer, “we need to get them out!”

“My boy won’t scare easy.” Bill said.

“We have the squeak on the stairs. That’ll scare him,” said Buck.

Everybody laughed at that. “What’s so funny?” Buck asked as he looked at each of them in turn.

Leticia answered, “A squeak on the stairs? A squeak on the stairs? That’s not gonna scare anybody, Buck. I think we oughta just get used to them. I think we oughta make nice. Be friendly. Ya know?”

Bill pointed at Buck, “you go ahead and squeak the stairs if you want, but I agree with Leticia. We need to make nice. They’re family and I kinda like having them here.”

“Let’s take a vote,” Dr. Johnson’s commanding voice silenced everyone. “All in favour of trying to scare them off say ‘aye’.”

“’Aye’,” said Buck immediately.

“Yeah, I suppose I have to vote ‘aye’ too,” Lamont looked at the floor and raised his hand. The rest of the ghosts were silent.

“All in favour of making friends and coexisting?” the doctor asked.

Randall, Leticia, Carrie Belle, Patsy, and Bill all raised their hands. Dr. Johnson looked at them all and raised his hand too.

“So it’s decided then. Buck, you and Lamont need to sign up for this, are you on board with the program? Or will we be kicking you out instead?”

“I guess I’m OK with it as long as I don’t have to listen to that music those kids play all the time.” Lamont said.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Buck grudgingly conceded.

“Meeting’s adjourned,” Dr. Johnson said, “Y’all all go downstairs and introduce yourselves.”


The Blog Propellant · writing

Grandpa’s Lunchbox

Cubing the Stories #1

It was not quite half past twelve when Grandpa carried his lunchbox to the fallen log. He liked to take his lunch there; it was cool with filtered sunlight and a view of the pond. He leaned his walking stick next to him and took off his work boots and socks. He let the long green grasses tickle the soles of his bare feet.

Grandma had packed his lunch, as usual. He never knew what she was going to send, but he loved the thrill of finding out. He could tell a lot about her mood by what she sent him for lunch.  He pulled the thermos out first and clamped it between his knees. He figured it was just water but he was hoping for lemonade and would be over the moon happy if it was filled with coffee. Grandpa liked his coffee black, no sugar. He was a no-nonsense guy. He decided to see what else was in the box before he opened the thermos.

A sandwich wrapped in wax paper with an elastic band holding it in place was the next thing he pulled from the old metal container. He undid the wrapping and took a look. Looked like the bread that she had baked night before last. It was cut in half from corner to corner, just the way he liked it and a thick slab of roast beef with plenty of mustard, tomato, pickles, and lettuce, dressed it up so that it looked good enough to eat. The roast beef must have been left over from last Sunday’s lunch, saved special for him. He needed to remember to give Myrtle a kiss as a thank you for this sandwich. She must have snuck this slab of beef from the table early, because the parson came for lunch after church last weekend and he usually finished off everything that was on the table. Grandpa shook his head and smiled; his wife, Myrtle, was a crafty one.

He dug a little deeper and pulled out a wedge of apple pie wrapped in newspaper. This was going to be a great lunch. With unbridled enthusiasm he pulled his kerchief from his pocket and spread it on his lap. He thought a big slug of lemonade or a cup of coffee sounded good so he unscrewed the cup from the top of the thermos and pulled out the cork from the top. He held it up to his nose hoping for the aroma of hot coffee but got the smell of something fishy instead. He tipped the thermos and curiously watched what poured into the cup.

“Damn, it’s turtle soup. Where the hell did that come from?” They hadn’t had turtle soup in over three months. Grandpa loved turtle soup.

As he ate he wondered, “What’s Myrtle up to? Why the great lunch? All of my favorites?” Usually he had to settle for store-bought white bread and a single slice of bologna or pimento loaf. His thermos was usually filled with tap water and ever since the city had put them on the water service and capped the well the water didn’t taste as good as it used to.

“Maybe, she’s feeling frisky or, she might have bought something. Oh well,” he thought, “if she bought something and it netted him a lunch this good, she deserved it!” He slipped his teeth from the pocket of his overalls into his mouth and took a big bite outta that sandwich. He might have time for a short nap here after he finished eating. Just a short one though. Still had a lot of work to get done today

So happy to get to write a story for the first ever cubing the story prompt! Thanks April.

Random Scribbles · The Blog Propellant · writing

Saturday Night – Game Night


Hillary lifted the corner of her hole card with her thumb and peeked at the Ace of hearts. She let it fall back to the table and looked at the faces of the other five players. She looked at the pot. The pot was huge. The biggest one of the evening.

Richard, Richard somebody, she couldn’t remember his last name, but he was the new guy. He  sat to her right. He had come with Marlene. The rest of these guys she knew, she had played with all of them before, but Richard was a wildcard. She studied his face and he watched her right back. One corner of his mouth twitched just a bit. Was that it, she wondered? Was that his tell. Did he twitch when he was bluffing or did he twitch when he was pat? Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he was toying with her? Drumming her fingers on the felt, Hillary scanned all the other players one more time. Had he twitched earlier? She tried to remember.

“What the hell,” she said. Using both hands she pushed her piles of chips to the center of the table. “I’m all in.” Leaning back in her chair, decision made, she grabbed a couple of cashews from the small bowl and dropped them on a napkin next to her glass of Chardonnay. Lenny folded, so did Marlene.

Gustavo finished off the last of his beer, Negro Modelo, “I’m out.” He said as he turned his cards face down.

“What the fuck, Hills?” Beth whispered, “You trying to buy this pot?” Beth picked up her stack of blue chips and dropped them slowly, one at a time, back on the table. Click, click, click. She took her time, pondered. Finally she turned her cards over, as Gustavo had done. “Too rich for me. Up to you Richard.” She pushed away from the table and stood. “Anybody else need a drink?” she asked.

All eyes were on Dick. The corner of his mouth twitched again.


Random Scribbles · The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP’s On-line Writer’s Guild #17


  1. Just got back from Idaho
  2. Turn that up, will you
  3. Complex in its simplicity

It was about three o’clock in the afternoon when I turned my truck up the recently graded dirt track that led to my cousin’s cabin in Eastern Oregon. She lives just outside The Narrows on about 30 acres of land. The house is modest, she’s not rich, but she is paranoid. As I pulled close I saw her on the porch waiting. She must have heard me coming from pretty far away. She had her shotgun broke open and lying across her left arm. I knew she had shot in both barrels and I would have bet that there were more shells in the pockets of her coat. I stopped about 50 feet away from the house, set the brake and got out of the truck with my hands up where she could see them. She doesn’t like to wear her glasses much, says they make her dizzy.

“Lila, it’s me; Gerald. Gerald Templeton. Your cousin. Your Aunt Clint’s boy.” I wasn’t sure if she could see me this far away or not so I opted to provide too much information, just in case.

She snapped the barrel of her piece back in place and I bent my knees; ready to run if I had to, but she set it down on the porch and leaned it next to the door. She was wearing a brown leather jacket over a flowered cotton shirt and a blue jean skirt with cowboy boots. A straw hat with a red bandana tied around, as a band, finished off her outfit. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail and fell down her back.

“Come on up Gerry,” she hollered, “The hell are you doin’ in these parts?”

I got back in the truck and pulled up to a DG pad next to the house; slotted in next to her Jeep. I could hear old songs from Credence wafting from the house.

We hugged when I got out of the truck and she invited me in. “Good to see you Jerry. Whatcha doin’ here. Somebody die?”

“Nah, I just got back from Idaho, on my way home and thought I should stop and pay my respects. Haven’t seen you in what? Three or four years?” I thought it was funny the way I slipped into her vernacular so easily.

“Choo doin’ in Idaho?” she asked.

“Mostly fishin’. Got a cooler fulla keepers, thought you might like some of ‘um.”

“Nice ‘o you,” she said, “hungry? I snared a mess ‘o rabbits earlier in the week and I got a stew goin’. You’re welcome to stay the night. I could use the company. Got any whiskey?”

“Matter of fact,” I pulled a bottle of Jack Daniels from behind the seat of my truck and tossed it to her. She grinned as she caught it and I slammed the driver’s door on the truck. I went around back, dropped the tailgate and pulled a cooler out of the bed. “I got some nice steelhead here. Figure I should leave you a couple.”

She held the whiskey in her left hand and hefted one side of the cooler with her right. I took the other side and we moved up to the house. It smelled rich with rabbit stew. Lila’s cabin was a single room, for the most part but the bathroom was attached. The front of the cabin was taken up by the kitchen and the dining table. There were a couple of recliners on the wall behind the kitchen pointed at the fireplace and her bed was behind that, close to the bathroom door. The sheets were a mess but that was just Lila. The rest of the house was neat as a pin.

I had the fish on ice and there was a nice one on top he was at least 36” and she immediately said that that one would be enough for her, thank you very much! “You gonna have to share with yo Momma and Marlene as well, ain’t cha? This here’ll be plenty for me and I ‘preciate it.”

She pulled the fish out of the cooler and set him on the counter, next to the sink. “Don’t mind if I fillet him before I throw the good bits in the ice box do ya?”  She moved to the counter opened a drawer and pulled out a fillet knife. She opened an upper cabinet and took out a couple of glasses. She set the knife down next to the fish, opened the bottle and poured a couple of fingers of whiskey in each glass. She handed one to me. “Here’s to family,” she said and drank it down.

I pointed to the tape player she had sitting on top of the refrigerator. John Fogarty’s voice was telling me that someday never comes.

“Turn that up, will you?” I asked her.

30 minutes. Edited in real time as I wrote, so it’s still a little rough.

I just went back and read this. “little rough” is a bit of an understatement. I won’t change this one but I may revisit this story with a red pen soon. Hope not to bore you if you have to read it again. Gosh, thanks for reading it the first time!


Random Scribbles · The Blog Propellant · writing

A Dinner Party for Ghosts


I hurried back into the house from the mailbox, clutching the envelope in my hand, careful not to mar it. If I was right, this was one of the most coveted invitations in the afterlife, and one had been sent to me. I held it, but savored the anticipation of actually opening it. I had all the time in the world.

I had been in this house for more than 100 years. I had been born in this house, I had married in this house, Maureen and I had raised four children in this house, and I had died in this house. My daddy and his daddy had worked together to build this house. This collection of hand hewn timbers and lovingly applied plaster was my daddy’s gift to his bride, my mother, on their wedding day. I don’t know why I’m the only one left here. You’d think some of them would have stuck around too, seems like they had a lot invested here; maybe even more than me.

I don’t know where Maureen is. My oldest boy, Lionel had been killed at the end of his war. I reckon he’s spending his eternity where he passed. I don’t even know if any of the other kids are still alive. I think probably not.

I hadn’t yet been born for the Civil War. I went to France, as a young soldier, for WWI. When I returned I married Maureen and we moved back into this house. I was too old for WWII.

I don’t get out much anymore. Specters’, such as I, are seldom invited to events or parties. There were some hippies living here in the 60’s. They would often invite me to play Ouija Board games with them and we had a blast, but the house has changed hands a number of times since then. I don’t think Eve and Steven, the only living occupants of the house now, even know I’m here. They are somewhat self obsessed.

Back in the kitchen I used a knife to slit open the envelope and removed the paper from inside. I was right. It was my invitation:

You are cordially invited to be our guest for dinner and celebration,
three nights hence
Dinner will be served on the village green promptly at midnight
Sheets are optional

I found the reply card in the envelope and checked the box that I would be attending and I looked at my clothes. I tossed the card into the air and with a twinkle it disappeared, winging it’s way back to my hosts, advising them that I would be coming.

The thing I remember most about dying was the disappointment I felt when I realized that I would have to wear the clothes I died in forever. Shit, had I known that in advance I would have dressed up, but no, I was doomed to spend forever wandering around in my nightshirt. That’s what I get for passing away in my sleep. I figured I should find a good sheet to wear – Something colorful. I started rooting around in the back of Eve’s linen closet.

A burgundy coloured flat sheet caught my eye. That might be just the ticket, I thought to myself. I pulled it out and hid it in the attic. Neither Eve nor Steve had been up there since they moved in. In fact the lead soldiers I had hidden in there, as a child, were still hidden there, after all these years. Tucked beneath the floor boards where I had stashed them so long ago.

It seemed an eternity while I waited for the appointed night to arrive, but when the time came I pulled Eve’s wine coloured bedclothes over my head and floated up to the roof. With a flourish I waved my arms and felt the snap that always comes when travelling this way. My eyes closed and when I opened them again I was on the green and a party was underway.

It was good to get out. It was good to rub elbows with the other haunts. I made my way to a rough table set in the grass and a barmaid set a large schooner of beer down in front of me.

“Dinner will be served in about an hour,” she told me as she set the glass down, “feel free to mingle. You might see someone you remember.”

I thanked her and she disappeared. My eyes scanned the crowd, there sure were a lot of us dead folks.