Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, AITA for Using My Side Hustle to Help My Boyfriend Escape the Clutches of Death? by Aimee Picchi

“Something coming back from the dead was almost always bad news. Movies taught me that. For every one Jesus you get a million zombies.”

― David Wong, John Dies at the End

Molly’s at the Market, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Thursday, February 3, 2003.

Disappointment

We never did bring those crabs back from Galveston – I was worried that they needed deeper water so we put them back in the surf. Nick really wanted some though, so Candy bought him a couple at a kiosk in the mall. The things had gaudily painted shells – one looked like a soccer ball and the other was bright red with yellow stars.

Nick really liked his hermit crabs, though they seemed awfully shy. I remember the shoreline in Panama along the Atlantic reef. I wasn’t much older than Nick then, really. We would walk along, looking for shells (I had a thing for cowries). There would be a little inlet full of shells and when I’d walk up they would all pick up and scatter – they were all hermit crabs. Those weren’t really too scared of people – if you picked one up and held it still on your palm it would come out and start to walk around pretty quickly. Maybe it was the heat.

At any rate, Nick liked his two crabs even though they would rarely come out where you could see them. He’d give them baths – little spritzes of distilled water. He said they liked that.

Today he picked one up to spray him and he fell out of his shell, dead. Nick said he thought he’d been dead for a while – he didn’t smell too good. On the phone, I asked Nick if he wanted to bury the crab in the back yard. “I’ve already flushed him,” Nick said. I told Nick I was on the way and would be there soon.

When I drove up, Nick had obviously been crying. I didn’t really talk to him much, mostly let him tell me about it and said I knew how bad he felt. We offered to get him another, but Nick hasn’t decided. He’s scared that one will die too.

I didn’t tell Nick what I thought to myself. I don’t think it’s a very good idea to get too emotionally attached to something you bought at a mall kiosk.

Molly’s at the Market, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

AITA for Using My Side Hustle to Help My Boyfriend Escape the Clutches of Death?
by Aimee Picchi

from Flash Fiction Online

Aimee Picchi page

Aimee Picchi Twitter

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, On the Origin of Species by Lee Thomas

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Trees reflected in a pond, inverted, with Chihuly, Red Reeds

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Sunday, September 6, 1998.

Experience an “Earthquake” Sensation

I’m sitting here typing on my laptop and trying to read a book I checked out from the library: “Endurance – Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing. It’s a non-fiction account of an expedition that tried to reach the South Pole in 1915, only to be caught in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea. It took several years for them to escape the ice and to be rescued. I saw a show about this on cable TV a couple weeks ago, and was fascinated.

I’m glad to find this story. It meets my criteria of enjoying reading about disasters while mollifying my concern over becoming too morbid. I know from the TV show that, despite incredible odds and terrible hardships, everyone survives.

I’m afraid my own challenge and adventure is quite a bit more pedestrian today, like every day. This is the centerpiece of a prized three day weekend, one dominated by a soccer tournament held in Arlington, Texas (A large city, a suburb of the Metroplex, located between Dallas and Fort Worth, about forty miles of city freeway driving from our house in Mesquite).

We played a game at nine o’clock this morning, and have another at one this afternoon. The Wildcats won the early game handily (seven to nothing, five different players, including Nick, scored). The afternoon game will be much more difficult, I doubt we can play with our opponent. This morning I saw them dominate a team we tied yesterday.

The real struggle isn’t with the other team, though (the kids have fun whether they win or lose), it is against the weather. The heat continues at an unbelievable level. Friday was 108 here, a record high for any day in any September. At our house, we haven’t had a drop of rain since early June. Yesterday wasn’t too bad, it was hot, but dry and windy. Today it is calm, hot again and very, very humid.

So between games we brought a bunch of the kids here, to a newish Burger King at Interstate 20 and Great Southwest Parkway, so they can play inside in the cold AC of the playland. The plastic structure towers three stories high, tunnels and slides and padded slopes. It is supported by a cubical scaffold – a lattice of steel pipes covered with bright foam padding held tight with plastic cable ties. Black nylon mesh sides and blue soft floors. Bright colors everywhere, Plexiglas bubble windows smeared with children’s handprints of catsup and hamburger grease. Screams and running, stockinged feet (and for our kids – shin guards), French fries and cold drinks and plastic bags with clever little toys. A blue fabric holder, pockets crammed full of children’s shoes.

There is a sign on the giant structure:

EARTHQUAKE TUNNEL
THE ABOVE PLAY EQUIPMENT IS FREE MOVING SO CHILDREN MAY EXPERIENCE AN “EARTHQUAKE” SENSATION

I’m sitting at a table with my book and my laptop. Next to me is a window to a special room set aside, a little girl is having a party in there; presents, camcorders, the kids all wear gold paper crowns. A parent just brought in a purple bicycle with training wheels and a basket.

Every couple of minutes a child in a red soccer uniform will pass by where I can get at ’em and I’ll repeat my mantra “Stop screaming, watch out for the little kids in there!” Candy and the other parents are all out in the main part of the Burger King (I had typed “restaurant” there, but it didn’t look right), chatting, relying on me to keep some kind of an eye on the kids. They should rest before the next game but I know better than to expect that.

They are playing some sort of tag and hide-and-seek. I hear screams of “Who’s It?” and “I’m on the base!” The noise is incredible. The floor of the room is tile, the walls glass, the plastic tubes amplify the hootn’ and hollerin’. The sound bounces and grows. A high pitched deafening cacophony.

The music of my life.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

On the Origin of Species by Lee Thomas

from New Millennium

Lee Thomas Page

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Vicarious Transubtantiation, by Emilee Prado

“No one motorist can cause a traffic jam. But no traffic jam can exist without individual motorists. We are stuck in traffic because we are the traffic. The ways we live our lives, the actions we take and don’t take, can feed the systemic problems, and they can also change them…”

― Jonathan Safran Foer, We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Monday, December 14, 1998.

The City at Night

….. I’m writing another entry sitting in the van, waiting in a parking lot. This time it’s a long way from home. I have a focus group at eight thirty, on the tenth floor of a big office building, at Park Central on the northern arc of Dallas’ LBJ freeway loop. I have better things to do with my time than sit here, but they’ll pay me a hundred dollars, cash. Allowing an hour to get here, it only took twenty minutes, so I found this lot in a commercial strip right off Central Expressway. About a half hour to kill before I drive back to the building, that’s how long the batteries in this old Dell can hold out.

I had wanted to go exercise after work and there is a club located between there and here. I forgot my damn shoes again, can’t very well work out in steel-toed safety boots, so I stayed in my office a couple hours late. Time is becoming so precious, it drove me nuts. Nowhere to go, no money, nothing much to do (I was so sick of work, it was tough to get anything extra accomplished). So I sat and did some light computer stuff and watched the hands turn.

At least the van is a good place to type. The middle bench seat is roomy enough for me to hold the laptop on my lap, there is enough stray light from the parking lot to illuminate the keys without washing out the screen. Also, the van isn’t stalling. I was about to give up yesterday, when I put another fresh tank of fuel in her, and presto- no more problems. My guess is that the recent cold snap condensed water into the gas tank, it took a refill to work itself out.

Across the street from here is a big hospital. This is where both Nick and Lee were born. It seems like I’ve been there a hundred times, for childbirth classes, medical emergencies, routine checkups. We don’t have the HMO anymore, so we don’t come back here now. One reason I dropped it was because I was concerned about the drive from Mesquite, it scared me to think of Candy driving over here in the awful traffic with a sick kid strapped in beside her.

The traffic is scary. The intersection of LBJ and Central may be the busiest in the Metroplex, maybe the country. Lines of white, lines of red. Going either seventy or stopped. I constantly look at these thousands and thousands of cars speeding past and wonder where all these people are going. What are their dreams? Are they happy? Do they really want to go where their car is pointing? Why are they in such a hurry to get there?

Honk! Honk! Honk! The car alarm on a big sedan is going off. A woman gets out. Is it her car? Is she confused by the alarm and can’t shut it off? Or is she stealing the thing? I don’t care. It stops, she gets back in. Nobody calls the police. There the car goes.

Behind this strip, this line of office supplies, fast food Chinese, medical equipment, and podiatrist, is the dark slash of a creek. I know that linear wilderness better than I know the wild street; the White Rock bicycle trail runs back there. It starts five miles to the south at the lake and winds along the creek embankment, using the floodplain to cut through these civilized islands unseen and undisturbed. The day was dry and warm, I wish I had my bike and was able to get some late season fresh air back there today. Or I wish I had a nice light and could run the trail now. Swooshing along in the dark, heart pumping, legs pumping.

Oh, well.

I think I’d better wrap this up, save the file and get going. I’m not sure exactly where to park (there is a maze of garages around the office complex) and I don’t want to be late. They won’t give me my money.

Thanks for listening to me ramble, thanks for helping me kill a few minutes away from home, thanks for the memories and the city at night.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Vicarious Transubtantiation, by Emilee Prado

from Hobart

Emilee Prado Instagram

Emilee Prado Page

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, A Girl Forages for Mushrooms, by Ruth Joffre

“All Fungi are edible.

Some fungi are only edible once.”
― Terry Pratchett

Mushrooms along the creek in back of my house.
Huffhines Creek in back of my house, Richardson, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Sunday, May 12, 2002.

Walk (snippet)

Everything was warm and wet and near the end of my walk I came across a field of mushrooms. I’ve always wanted to be able to tell poison fungi from delicious. It would be so cool to be able to go out to a field and pick a few, carry them home and make an omelet. I picked one out and put it in my pocket – to take home for no particular reason. I thought of Lee and how he is always picking up rocks, feathers, old bones, or anything else useless to haul around and pile in old shoeboxes.

I know where he gets that from.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

A Girl Forages for Mushrooms, by Ruth Joffre

from Flash Fiction Online

Ruth Joffre Twitter

Ruth Joffre Page

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, This Is How You Fail To Ghost Him, by Ash Reynolds

“Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.”

― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Flora Street, Dallas, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Monday, February 15, 1999. It is so weird to read about my reaction to technology from (only) twenty years ago.

Eyelid rub

Shit, what a long, tiring day. Oh, look at the top of the page, it’s a Monday. No wonder.

I sat the morning through a two hour Lotus Notes class, a professional trainer, twenty years younger than me explained in excruciating detail everything I already knew and displayed his ability to scrunch up his nose when I asked a question.

Meanwhile, the hourly folks in the class had a lot of trouble. I really felt sorry for them, the instructor would rattle off, “click here, go back, minimize.” He would always say click when he should have said double click. Not that the poor hourly guys can double click anyway. They are used to terminal emulators with tacked up dog-eared Xerox copies of lists of odd key combinations. They’ll be alright, they’ll get gooey eventually. Those tough callused hands trying to push a mouse around, that look of confusion; it’s a difficult world.

I spent most of the class leaning slightly forward with my eyes closed rubbing the corners of my lids.

The rest of the workday was meetings. More lid-rubbing.

I didn’t really do anything, did I? I sure was exhausted when I came home. My head was splitting, my right ear isn’t working again, I should have gone to a cycling class, but I booted. I should have played with the kids, worked on the garage, written some stuff, read some chapters, but I didn’t.

All I managed to do was flounder around horizontally, watching some sports on TV.

And rubbing the corners of my eyelids ’til the headache finally went away.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

This Is How You Fail To Ghost Him, by Victoria McCurdy

from Monkeybicycle

Victoria McCurdy Twitter

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Thankful, by Ash Reynolds

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.”

― Irving Berlin

Thanksgiving Square, Dallas, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Monday, March 01, 1999.

Lunchtime

It’s lunchtime on Monday, the first day of a new month.

The calendar might say it’s still winter but you’d never know by looking around. The temperature might get to eighty today but it’s ’round seventy-two right now, as perfect as can be. Candy gave me a dollar and I found seventy -some cents in the floorboards so I could afford two bean burritos. So I drove to the little park near my work and am sitting at my green picnic table. The winter sun burns down through the leafless trees, warm on my skin. It also washes out the screen of the laptop, hard to see, hard to type; but that might be my only complaint. Even my pager, my ever present belt-bee, is quiet today, I hope he stays that way for awhile.

Two little girls are at the new playground with their mom. It’s sort of a cheap, little playground, but the girls don’t seem to mind, they’re giggling up a storm. There is this green spiral pipe, set vertically around another central pipe. I think it is intended to be used as a ladder. The girls are small enough that they can slide down this spiral, spinning ’round and ’round.


“OK! Here I go!” one calls out and twists down, spinning like a loose wingnut on a bolt.

I wonder what about this day these little girls will remember when they are my age. The spiral will be a tall tower, not a six foot piece of pipe. Will they remember the weather? Of course not. I never thought about the weather when I was little, never thought about if it was hot or cold or raining or snowing. Well, I guess I thought about it if it was snowing. That was something special.

I splurged yesterday and bought myself an insulated-stainless-steel-spillproof-tapered-on-the-bottom-to-fit-most-cup-holders drinking cup. It was an impulse purchase, on a display in the aisle when I went out to buy some drain cleaner. When I found out it cost twelve dollars I almost put it back. I can afford it, but I’ve been well conditioned to the “thousands of starving third world children that can’t even afford a plastic spill-proof mug, let alone a stainless-steel one,” feelings of guilt about spending more that five dollars on something that I don’t actually need.

But I bought it anyway.

There’s a little blue paper, a flyer, on the ground by the trash can, let’s see what it is.

It’s from a local church, the Praise and Prayer Notes from yesterday. The scripture on it is from Revelation which is usually not a good sign, but this little note is fine.

A list of things to be thankful for:

  • C… N… is back from Russia and feeling better,
  • D…K… is recovering from a triple bypass,
  • J…A… has been accepted at Multnomah Bible College,
  • B…E… says that L… has been seizure free for 6 months and is driving again.

This is followed by a list of things to pray for:

  • M…S… is six months old and may need surgery, pray for the doctor’s appointment on March 15th,
  • R…P… has had an asthma flareup,
  • S… W… needs sale of property and finances for a wedding,
  • J… B… died in a skiing accident ten days ago.

I think I’ll praise this warm, quiet hour. The feel of the sun, the sound of the birds. The cheap, spicy burrito. My steel cup of ice and Dr. Pepper that doesn’t leak.

I think I’ll pray for those two little girls, pray that in forty years they remember how happy they were sliding down that green spiral. I pray they don’t lose those giggles.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Thankful, by Ash Reynolds

from love letters magazine

Short Story of the Day, Poetry, Billy Collins, by Erren Geraud Kelly

“The mind can be trained to relieve itself on paper.”
― Billy Collins

This woman was waving a turkey leg out of her food trailer. When someone came up to buy one, she said, “Let me get you a fresh one hon, this is my demo model, I’ve been waving it out this window for hours.”

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Saturday, September 29, 2001. Exactly twenty years ago.

Sidekicks

Nicholas had accumulated two free tickets and a two-for-one coupon for the Dallas Sidekicks indoor soccer team game tonight. He asked a kid from his team to go with us and Candy and I used the two-for-one.

Dallas has built a new sports arena – but the Sidekicks, practitioners of a non-major, second or third tier (for Texas, anyway) sport remain in the old, smaller, less tony, and luxury skybox-less arena. Fine with us. The smaller place is more intimate and you can see the game better.

Most important of all, the nachos (actually a skimpy paper holder with some stale chips and two tiny plastic cups – one full of motor-oil-like fake cheese sauce, the other loaded with some sort of brown bland bilious chili-resembling substance) are sold sans jalapenos, but there are condiment stands nearby with all the sliced peppers you can pile on. I piled on plenty. As a matter of fact, I made two trips from our seats up and back to the condiment stand for more hot peppers. I was going to buy a Diet Dr. Pepper but while I was in line the guy in front of me ordered a beer and it simply looked too good to pass up. The beer and nachos came to nine dollars and fifty cents.

That’s what sports is all about, isn’t it. I was sitting in a cramped plastic arena seat drinking a five-dollar lukewarm beer and eating grease laced with so many hot peppers the top of my head sweated. I had to keep rubbing my hair because so much capsicum-induced heat was rising up and shooting out the top of my head.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

And a piece of poetry for today:

Billy Collins, by Erren Geraud Kelly

from West Texas Literary Review

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Harvest Moon, by Scotch Rutherford

But there’s a full moon risin’
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
We know where the music’s playin’
Let’s go out and feel the night

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon

― Neil Young, Harvest Moon

The moon rising over the Dallas skyline and the pond at Trammell Crow Park. From the October Full Moon Ride.

Full Moon Tonight. It’s the Harvest Moon. I remember when we would go on bike rides at night on full moon nights. The last year and a half – it’s been so bad… Sometimes I feel I’ll never do anything fun again.

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Wednesday, December 4, 2002. A longish entry, about falling stars.

Leonids

I have always wanted to go camping during a meteor shower. I’ve tried to schedule a trip to West Texas, Big Bend, during one but the timing has never been right. One year I did drive out with Nicholas, then only a tad bigger than a toddler, and ended out in a cornfield east of Rockwall; but Nicholas was impatient, we were still in the pool of city light, and ended up seeing nothing. Last year I was ready to go out and see the Leonids, but the state was swathed in a belt of thick clouds and nothing would have been visible.

Last Month I read that this year was going to be the last predicted good Leonid storm for a long time, and I didn’t want to miss it. I have a snotload of vacation left that I have to take before the end of the year so I scheduled a day off the next day and drove out after work into East Texas, heading for Lake Tawakoni State Park, where we had gone family camping a while back.

The park office was closed when I pulled in so I dutifully filled out a little envelope, put my fifteen dollars in (nine for the campsite, five for the entry fee, and one because I didn’t have change) and dropped it into the heavy metal tube. The park was almost completely empty – only a few RV’s scattered here and there. I picked a spot on the first loop, choosing one right next to the trail to the bathrooms. It only took me a few minutes to set up my tent.

While I wrestled with the aluminum poles I spotted a bright meteor crackling down between two trees. I watched for a while but didn’t see anything else. The peak was supposed to come somewhere around three AM, so I set the alarm on my IPAQ PDA and settled down in my tent to read myself to sleep. Even if I didn’t see another meteor, at least I had spotted one – and my trip wouldn’t be completely wasted. I tried calling home but was on the very edge of cell service. I could hear Nick answer on the other end, “Hello! Hello! Who is it?” but he couldn’t hear anything I said.

It wasn’t much longer until a big diesel pickup rumbled by, screeched its brakes, backed up, and started shining a powerful spotlight on my tent. I dragged myself out and walked over to the official truck.
“I paid in the box out front,” I said.
“Oh,” said the bearded, grizzled man in the truck.
“You here for the meteor shower too?” he continued.
“Yeah,” I said.
“They say this will be the biggest one for thirty years,” he said, “and we’ll be at another park by then, for sure. There’s a bunch in the other camping loop that’s going to meet down at the dock at three and I think the wife and I will go down there to watch.”
“Thanks.”
“Well, have a good night.”

It was starting to get cold, so I slithered back into my bag and fell deeply asleep until my IPAQ started buzzing.

The full moon was out and very bright. The park was lit with what looked like a flat blue daylight. It was light enough for me to easily move around and set stuff up. If I had had a newspaper, I could have read it without trouble. There were some engines running and people moving around down towards the lake, and I thought about joining the folks down at the dock but ultimately decided to go it alone. The trees at Tawakoni are thick so I set my folding chair up in the middle of the park road and wrapped myself up in a blanket and my unzipped sleeping bag. My folding chair leans way back which is unpleasant for what I usually use it for (it stays in the trunk of the Taurus) – watching soccer games – but was perfect for stretching back and looking up at the sky. Some small animal, probably a possum (too quiet for an armadillo) shuffled around in the grass beside the road, and then shambled back into the woods.

The bright moon washed out a lot of the stars. It would be impossible to spot any faint meteors. I thought for a few minutes that there wouldn’t be anything and I’d go back home empty-eyed. But after a few minutes the shower started.

The meteor shower wasn’t spectacular; it didn’t make me think of the Fourth of July. Still, it had a powerful ephemeral beauty. There would be a pause, a minute or so, when nothing would happen, then maybe a single quick transient streak across the sky. That would be followed by a little burst – a cluster of four or five and the activity would keep up for a few minutes until it tapered off for another pause. A few falling stars were big enough to scream across a big arc of the sky, leaving behind a little trail of sparks for a split-second. I know they were silent but I could imagine a crackling sound as those fell.

It was obvious how the meteors appeared to flow from a single point, in Leo. They would radiate out, the big ones lingering, traveling across a big chunk, the tiny ones merely a fugacious slash across the dark. It was this temporary nature of the display that fascinated me – a tiny sliver of an instant… then they are gone. I had a big grin on my face, half-frozen there by the cold air.

I watched for a little over an hour or so until the show petered out. I never really went back to sleep – it wasn’t long before the sky began to lighten in the east and I packed everything up. Driving back into the city, I realized that I could go on in to work – it was early enough.

I decided to take the day off anyway.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Harvest Moon, by Scotch Rutherford

from Every Day Fiction

Scotch Rutherford page

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Appearances are Deceptive, by Mary Papas

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”

― Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones

A wide angle view of Dealey Plaza at dawn on the morning henge day (or two days later). The brick building in shadow on the far left is the infamous Texas Schoolbook Depository. President Kennedy was shot on the curved road on the left, almost fifty years ago.

Took a day off work – the COVID-19 vaccination mandate is overwhelming everything – there are so many questions unanswered. It’s been a while since I had my jab and am thinking about a booster, but the FDA Booster Shot decision is putting it into the fog like everything else (I don’t turn 65 for a few months).

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Friday, January 1, 1999 – More than twenty years ago. The kids, at that age, were connoisseurs of fast-food ball-pits – we knew all the ones in a ten-mile radius of our house and most of them along the highways radiating in all directions.

Saturday, January 1, 1999, McDonald’s with Playland

….. House is empty.
Holiday is spent.

I needed to get the kids
some exercise.
Drizzling Wet Warm Fog
No day for outside.
So it’s off to
McDonald’s with Playland.

Nick and Lee are good enough
I can let them go around
on their own.
I can sit and write.
notebook on green laminate.

Lee borrows my pen
to follow the numbers
on a placemat puzzle.
He says he knows
it’ll be a snowman.
he traces the outline
still.

Three
amazingly fat women
sit at the next table, here in the
McDonald’s with Playland
without any children.
So close I can hear them talk.
at least snippets.
Recipes – they are trading
“I get these headaches,” one squawks
“Then I go eat me some chocolate.”
Hmmmmmmmm – the others intone
worshipfully.

Nick and Lee want ice cream
I give them all the cash
I have
and send them to the counter.
They come back with cones
and a single dollar bill
and three pennies.
One so sticky I leave it behind.

A young mother
excites into her cell phone
in Spanish.

A toddler drops her
Orange Drink.
The thin liquid puddle grows
as she stares mute

An older man- a customer
cleans it up.
A teenager- a worker
appears with a mop and bucket.
“Don’t touch that!”
The old man growls.
He rants on about how dirty
the mop water is-
and cleans up the mess
with his own cloth handkerchief.

He must be nuts.
Nobody carries a cloth handkerchief.
Anymore.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

Appearances are Deceptive, by Mary Papas

from the Short Story Society and Flash Fiction Society

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, 100 Word Story, The Phone Call, by Janice Siderius

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

― Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry Into the Limits of the Possible

Downtown Square, McKinney, Texas

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Saturday, September 8, 2001 – Exactly twenty years ago. Wow… only twenty years ago… and coming up only three days from 9/11. It’s so strange reading my thoughts from the point of view of a semi-distant future. I talk about getting a new cell phone and a Pocket PC. An iPhone or a Smart Phone only a dream of the future..I (we) had no idea.

Saturday, September 8, 2001, Gadgets

The folks at work, in all their infinite wisdom, have bought me a couple of new cool toys lately.

I try to resist the temptation of becoming a gadget-freak. A fascination with technology is a powerful, seductive trap in this day and age, this best of all possible worlds. The underlying geek-gene is there, though, I can’t deny it. Plus, if somebody else wants to buy me cool stuff… so be it.

I was one of the last hold-outs against having a cell phone. When I finally picked one up with my new job, however, I was hooked. Especially with all the soccer stuff going on, with Candy and I hardly ever being home, driving all over the place, and with me stepping up my business travel, the cell phone became, finally for me, the irreplaceable part of life that it is for everybody else.

Now, they have replaced my run-of-the-mill phone with a new service, one designed for corporate, industrial use. It’s a Nextel phone, with the two-way radio and, especially seductive, internet access. I had to attend a training class, read a big thick manual, and spend hours punching little buttons and fooling around on web sites to set up and learn all the features of the silly thing.

I always thought web access on a cell phone was sort of useless, but it does have its geeky charm. I especially like the movie service. I can code in a film, punch in a zip code, and it will tell me the closest theater and show times, along with directions to get there. It has an amazing word-completion algorithm for entering emails from the otherwise-almost-useless numberpad.

The only problem is that it does not play cool songs when it rings (I had my old phone set to play the theme song from the old puppet TV show – Thunderbirds are Go). When I complained about this to our phone rep she replied, “This phone is intended for the corporate market, we don’t go for the cute sing-song stuff.”

The really cool gadget they bought me, though, wasn’t the cell phone, but a Pocket PC – a Compaq IPAQ. Compaq is apparently discontinuing the black and white units, offering them for an insanely low price, plus a fifty-dollar rebate, so I ordered one.

I think I like this one better than a color unit anyway. The screen is readable enough and the batteries last forever.

A Pocket PC definitely falls into the category of one of those things that you can’t imagine using until you get one, then you can’t imagine living without it. Especially Syncing it up with my PC – downloading maps, Avant Go,… geez, the free ebooks. It isn’t much for writing fiction or journal entries (my Alphasmart is perfect for that, anyway) but it is fine for writing short poems. The slow process of handwriting recognition actually helps the poetry process.

It’s a digital voice recorder and an alarm clock. It’s a crude sketchpad and a file transfer utility.

Of course, like all things addictive, there are add-ons and additions I want. At the top of the list is a big flashcard memory or two. That would let me use it as a killer MP3 player, perfect portable music. Next, a Targus folding keyboard – then I could use it for significant text entry. Then, especially in conjunction with that flashcard, there’s software. I’d love a powerful dictionary and thesaurus program. There’s even something out there that will turn the IPAQ into a programmable multi-function remote control.

Now that’s a gadget addiction.

And a piece of flash fiction for today:

The Phone Call, by Janice Siderius