The Famous Thanksgiving of 1977

‘Twas the famous Thanksgiving of 1977, the year I turned eight and sported my super-trendy Dorothy Hamill ‘do. The traditional holiday spread was to be consumed at Grandma Slovick’s house, but the real story lies in the Dexter family’s designated offering to the feast. I am speaking of none other than the star of the meal, the veritable symbol of the holiday itself. That’s right … the Thanksgiving turkey.

I was the youngest and, therefore, the cutest of the Dexter siblings. My brother, Paul had just turned eleven and Robyn, nearing seventeen, was several years our elder. In my younger and even more adorable years, I had followed teenage-sister-Robyn around like a lost puppy copying everything she did, much to her chagrin. Oh how I wanted to be a teenager. My aspirations for teenagehood are inscribed in my baby book where Mom eloquently penned, “When Jennifer grows up she wants to be a teenager.” I think this was a fine choice, really, and far superior to my brother’s grand ambition to become a trash man.

Our story begins at the point where Mom was rendered bedridden with sudden and excruciating back pain. With Mom incapacitated, the illustrious task of preparing the bird was left to Dad. Having never roasted a turkey, he ambled back and forth from the kitchen to the bedroom for instructions.

The conversation went something like this.

“There’s stuff in there?” Referring to the neck and giblets.

“Yeah, you gotta get it out.”

“Well, how do I get it out?”

Imagine, if you will, my big, strong, building contractor of a father. Six-foot-four, with a size-15 foot and large calloused hands to match. Standing at the kitchen counter grappling with a raw turkey, he endeavored to locate and unearth the neck from … well, who knows which end?

Twenty minutes later, with jaw clenched, he was long into the process of excavating his find. By now his pulsing temples were beat red, yet his determination to conquer his adversary was fierce and unwavering. He clutched his opponent with the firm grip of one hand, the other buried deep inside the cavity of the bird. Clasping the bag, he yanked with full force. Unwilling to submit, the turkey executed a sly maneuver. With impressive agility, that turkey slipped right out of Dad’s grasp and performed a beautiful nosedive directly into the sink full of dirty dishwater.

“Dagnabbit!”

Well, after the unruly fowl underwent a very thorough shower, inside and out, his innards were conquered and annihilated. No longer was he able to avoid the inevitable, and so it was that the turkey was finally roasted.

Transportation, however, was another matter altogether. With Mom disabled, Dad was obliged to stay home and play nurse. The task of transferring the turkey, along with little brother and sister, fell into the hands of teenage-sister-Robyn. Yet, oddly enough, she would not be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner either, on account of her gainful employment, waitressing at Alphy’s.

So, the very clean and very roasted star of the feast was loaded into the back of our late 60’s Ford Fairlane station wagon, which showcased a lovely shade of puke green.

And thus begins part two of the story.

Traveling north on Magnolia Avenue, teenage-sister-Robyn decided that this would be an excellent time to apply mascara.

You see where I’m going with this.

Sitting in the back seat, I stared at the bright red traffic light shining gloriously above the upcoming intersection, where an unsuspecting vehicle already lingered.

Umm … she wasn’t stopping.

“Robyn.”

No response.

“ROBYN.” A little louder.

Mascara was much more important.

“ROBYYYYN!!!!”

Teenage-sister-Robyn reacted with impeccable driving skill, thrusting her foot upon the brake with raw power. The station wagon careened to a screeching halt, mere inches behind the waiting car.

Whew! We were alive.

But what of the turkey?

Upon examination, it was discovered that the defiant turkey had indeed escaped, along with all of his juices, having glided freely about the slick vinyl space in the back of the station wagon.

The slippery suspect was restrained, and once again confined to his roasting pan. Sworn to secrecy, the Dexter siblings arrived at Grandma Slovick’s unscathed and boldly submitted their peculiar offering to the Thanksgiving feast.

Upon being questioned where the drippings were for the gravy, teenage-sister-Robyn just shrugged. “I don’t know. I have to get to work.”

Thanksgiving dinner was enjoyed by all and no one was any the wiser. 

 

 

 

Published in: on June 26, 2014 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Black Widow

FaithWriters.com Weekly Challenge
TOPIC: Spam (not the meat)
EDITOR’S CHOICE 3rd of 73
1st place Intermediate Division

NOTE: This story is loosely based on actual events.

 

What if spam could kill? And what if at the same time–in a strange twist of irony–spam could prevent the death of countless others? This is precisely what happened on December 31, 2010.

*   *   *

Darkness has fallen over Moscow. Temperatures remain below zero after last weekend’s freezing rain rendered 18,000 people without electricity, heat or running water. As of today, power has been restored.

Thousands of Russians prepare to brave the chilling temperatures in Moscow’s famous Red Square, where they will ring in the New Year with live music and a massive display of fireworks.

Towering above the square is the famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral, shaped as a flame of bonfire rising into the sky. To the west stands the Kremlin, a fortified complex and home to President Dmitry Medvedev.

Elsewhere in Moscow a woman readies herself to attend the event. She covers her body in a simple black garment and lays her black veil across the bed. Anticipation of the evening causes her gut to swirl. Her pulse quickens. Pausing with one hand on the dresser, she takes in a deep breath. For her, this evening is far more than the passing of one year and the beginning of another. Far, far more.

The woman, whose name is unknown, will later be dubbed “Black Widow”.

Standing at the foot of the bed, she initiates her prayer ritual by reciting the first chapter of the Quran. A sequence of bowing, lying prostrate, sitting and standing follows, all the while giving glory to Allah and requesting forgiveness, mercy and blessing. Then the routine begins again.

Moments later, with forehead to the ground, the woman begins to tremble with excitement as the plea of her heart is brought before Allah. “I am most blessed and honored to serve you, Allah. I pray that you bless my mission tonight with a high rate of casualties.”

*   *   *

Droves of partiers have now converged on Red Square. The atmosphere is festive and light. The huddled throng cheers as the first band is introduced. The music begins.

*   *   *

Back at the safehouse, the fervent prayer of Black Widow persists.

“Purify my soul so I am fit to see you, Allah.”

Her thoughts move to the suicide bomber whose mission was fulfilled Monday at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. “Thirty-five people were successfully terminated, Allah. Tonight, I follow him and countless other martyrs into Paradise.”

With black veil in hand, she proceeds to the living room. A man sits on the edge of the couch hovering over the coffee table. Her gaze is drawn to the belt bomb he is working on.

Her trance is broken when her handler, Zeinat, moves toward her. Zeinat is a beautiful woman, dressed in a traditional Muslim hijab. She smiles as she takes hold of Black Widow’s hands.

“Are you ready?”

Black Widow’s eyes dance. “Yes, I am. Glory to Allah.” There is no hint of hesitation. How long she has waited for this moment.

The man stands with the belt in hand. “Raise your arms.”

Black Widow complies, eyeing the belt as it is securely fastened around her waist. Facing the mirror, she drapes the veil over her head, allowing it to cascade down over the belt.

“The cell phone is right here,” Zeinat fingers the belt. “Turn it on right before you walk into the crowd. We will be watching. When you are in position, I will send a text to detonate the bomb. Understand?”

“Yes.”

The man moves toward the kitchen. “I must gather some things.”

Zeinat strokes Black Widow’s head. “Do you need anything? Let me get you some water.”

*   *   *

In the kitchen, the man rummages through a duffle bag on the table, while Zeinat fills a glass at the sink.

*   *   *

Black Widow, alone in the living room, drums her fingers on her leg in a nervous tick. Sliding the phone from its pocket, she depresses the power button and is satisfied when the screen lights up. Moving her finger to power it off, she flinches when the phone emits a piercing ringtone. The words “Happy New Year” appear on the screen, an automated text from the wireless carrier.

*   *   *

The shrill of the ringtone roars into the kitchen like a beast after its prey.

Zeinat drops the glass. Her screams are lost in the explosion, which propels her and the man across the kitchen in an enormous array of smoke and flaming debris.

Wounded, but alive, they stagger away from the remains of the burning safehouse.

*   *   *

Black Widow is dead.

 

 

Published in: on June 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jack & Jeannie

A couple of years ago I began to embark on the glorious work of writing my parent’s story, an amazing one at that. I wrote what was equivalent to about one chapter when my life took a detour and so did the writing of this biography. I envision one day finishing their story, but for I now feel compelled to at least post the humble beginnings of what I wrote.

1958

The ’58 Chevy Impala cruised down Long Beach Boulevard one late summer night. The Fifties, the era when cruising to nowhere in particular was standard amusement.

Jack Dexter and his late-model ride fit nicely in the car club scene. The metallic-blue looker was customized with fiesta hubcaps, cutouts and lowered to the legal limit–the width of a pack of cigarettes off the ground. And it was fast, having proven itself time and again at Lion’s Drag Strip.

Tonight the nineteen-year-old drove near the California coast with his buddy, Sonny, both from the neighboring city of Wilmington. The salty breeze rushed through the open windows. Windows down always . . . if you’re a true cruiser.

Tunes from artists like Elvis Presley and Fats Domino emanated from the radio before the voices of three young ladies filled the airwaves that night. The playful hit song, “Hula Hoop”–based on the latest fad to sweep the country–was catchy and fun.

Sonny piped up, “Hey, that’s the DeVille Sisters. I know one of the girls on that record.”

“Really?” Jack glanced at his friend.

“Yeah, how would you like to meet her?”

Jack shrugged. “Are you kidding? All we’re doing is burning up gas. Where do I go?”

“She works at Conley’s.”

The well-known Conley’s Record Rack, where Johnny Otis broadcast his radio show for KFOX, was located on Pacific Coast Highway. Turning east onto PCH, Jack drove about a half-mile down the iconic highway, pulled in front of the store and shut off the engine.

The two friends strolled inside where they caught the eye of Lori DeVille.

“Hey, Sonny.” Lori smiled from behind the register.

Sonny introduced the vivacious young woman to Jack and the three chatted a while.

Gazing at the flashy Chevy outside, Lori leaned over the counter with a twinkle in her eye and a dimpled smile. “Hey, my sisters and I are singing at the Art Laboe concert tomorrow night. How would you like to drive us?”

Jack eyed the car, looked down and grinned. He’d always surmised that girls were more interested in his car than him.

“Yeah, sure. I’ll take you guys.”

*   *   *

The next night Jack found himself driving solo to the home of The DeVille Sisters. He had assumed Sonny would be joining him, but since Sonny was going steady with Priscilla, it was wise to avoid escorting the three beautiful singers.

Jack was on his own.

The car crawled to a stop in front of the small house on Studebaker Road. Upon exiting the vehicle, Jack’s ears were greeted with the rantings of an agitated man inside the home, presumably the girl’s father.

Jack hesitated. His pulse quickened as he approached the front porch, stepped up to the front door, slowly raised his hand and knocked.

The door opened. It was not an uptight father who greeted him, but a stunning young lady. Jack’s heart began to pound.

The young woman looked up at the six-foot-four, slender guy on her porch and smiled. “Are you Jack?”

“Uh . . . yeah. I’m here to take you girls to the show.”

“Okay, we’ll be right out.”

Jack ambled back to his car in a bit of a daze and leaned against the front fender. Soon after, three beauties adorned in identical dresses floated out of the house and down the walkway. The gorgeous full-skirt dresses were white with red polka-dots and a red cummerbund. In addition to the identical dresses, the trio wore the same short and stylish hairdo. All brunette.

“Hi, Jack,” Lori grinned.

“Hey, Lori.” Jack opened the passenger door and leaned the seat forward. Lori’s two sisters slid into the back leaving the front seat for Lori.

Jack got behind the wheel and started the engine as Lori introduced her younger sisters.

“This is Patti.” She pointed behind her to the most petite youngest at sixteen-years-of age.

“And that’s Jeannie behind you.”

Jack eyed Jeannie in the rear view mirror, the one who had just caused convulsions in his chest. The moment her eyes met his he moved his gaze away. He was quite enamored with the girl, but would never have the courage to ask her out.

 *   *   *

The Chevy Impala rolled into a parking spot. The beautiful girls did not go unnoticed as they stepped out of the vehicle and strolled into the building. As Jack walked beside them he could hear the remarks of nearby onlookers.

“Oh, that’s The DeVille Sisters.”

Being seen with the notable singing group was something of a thrill for the young man.

The concert was MC’d by Art Laboe, the pioneering disc jockey, songwriter, record producer and record station owner, who coined the term “Oldies But Goodies”. His shows took place at various venues in Southern California, including the popular El Monte Legion Stadium, Long Beach Municipal Auditorium and others.

Regulars were West Coast acts like Sonny Knight, Jeanette Baker, Oscar McLolly and Ernie Freeman.

Out of town artists also made appearances including The Everly Brothers, Jerry Wallace, and Danny Flores of The Champs. Ritchie Valens appeared that year, having landed on the music scene with his hit song, “La Bamba”. Bobby Day also lit up the Art Laboe crowd with his smash hit, “Rockin’ Robin”.

Jack enjoyed the show that night, particularly when The DeVille Sisters performed their hit song, “Hula Hoop”. In addition, the “Doo-Wop” girl group graced the stage on occasion to sing back-up for Sonny Knight and other solo artists with their signature three-part harmony. All three ladies were easy on the eyes, but it was Jeannie who held Jack’s baby blues captive.

 *   *   *

Jeannie sat in the backseat of the parked Chevy Impala. Her date, Jim, nestled beside her, while Jack and his date, Patti, occupied the front bench seat.

The popularity of the drive-in theater was at its peak in the late 50’s, which is where Jeannie found herself tonight. Jack and his car club buddy, Jim, had managed a double date with the singing sisters, as it just so happened that Patti and her long time boyfriend, Denny, had recently split.

Jeannie wanted to watch the movie, but spent the duration of it attempting to evade the repeated advances of her date. All the while, she couldn’t help but notice all the chatting, joking and laughter going on up front. Jack was hilarious. Patti was clearly having more fun on this date than she was, making Jeannie wish she were in the front seat with Jack.

*   *   *

The girls had a gig at Long Beach Auditorium and drove their dad’s black ’57 Chevy DelRey. After the show, they were piling into the car when Jeannie piped up,”Let’s go cruise Jamar’s.”

“Gee, I wonder who Jeannie might want to see at Jamar’s”, Patti grinned and gave Lori a knowing look. It was common knowledge that the Wilmington drive-in restaurant was the common hang out for the Essens, Jacks’ car club.

“Why not?” Lori replied and drove the girls west to Wilmington. She pulled into Jamar’s parking lot and spotted the metallic-blue Impala. Rolling to a stop she called from her open window, “Jack!”

*   *   *

Jack had heard radio promos all day about the concert that night billing The DeVille Sisters and had thought about going. He instead found himself at Jamar’s shooting the breeze with a couple of car club buddies, who had hopped into his car.

One of his friends tilted his head and peered past Jack. “It looks like some girls over there are trying to get your attention.”

Jack turned and spotted the girls.

“Oh, that’s The DeVille Sisters.”

His friend snickered. “No way! You don’t know The DeVille Sisters.”

His other buddy concurred. “Yeah, right.”

“Hang on. I’ll go see what they want.” Jack opened his door and stepped out, ignoring the continuing wisecracks.

Jack stepped up to Lori’s window, put his hand on the roof and leaned over.

“What’s up?”

Lori looked at Jack with that twinkle in her eye she gets when she wants something. “Patti and Denny are back together. She and I both have dates tonight and Jeannie needs a ride home. You think you could give her a lift?”

Jack glanced at Jeannie, which sent his heart racing. It was midnight and Jeannie lived on the other side of Long Beach. Yet, lacking the nerve to ever ask her out, he knew this was his big chance.

“Well, yeah, I guess I could do that.”

Jack headed back to his car and opened the passenger door. “You guys are gonna have to get out. I gotta take one of these girls home.”

Suddenly the wisecracks dissipated. Then came the remarks of bewilderment.

“Whoa man! You serious?”

Jack held the door while the stunned teens fumbled out of the car and stepped aside for Jeannie DeVille.

*   *   *

The car hummed down the road with Jeannie in the front passenger seat.

“Would you do me a favor?” Jeannie’s voice was soft and sweet.

“Well, sure. What?”

“Would you cruise Grisinger’s?

Jack raised his eyebrows and contemplated what appeared on the surface to be a simple request. Grisingers Drive-In, the hangout of the Long Beach car club, The Vandals. While there were no gang wars between car clubs, there was indeed some friction. Jack feared he’d be taking his life in his hands, so to speak, if he cruised Grisinger’s with his Essens plaque displayed, clearly stating his affiliation.

However, for this woman? He’d take his chances.

He looked at Jeannie sitting on the far side of the bench seat.

“Sure, I’ll drive Grisinger’s, but on one condition. You gotta move over here next to me so nobody thinks you’re my sister.”

Jeannie complied with the request and slid over near him. Whether Jack was actually on a date with Jeannie DeVille or not, this is how it now appeared.

*   *   *

The Chevy Impala eased up into Grisinger’s driveway. Vandals club cars lined the parking area. Some members relaxed inside their vehicles while others lingered outside. A few leaned on hoods with arms wrapped around their girlfriend.

Patti’s boyfriend, Denny Parker, was there, with his lowered “49-50 Chevy Fleetline”. Denny had drawn the logo for The Vandals, which featured a man in a zoot suit with a hat and Tommy Gun.

Adrenaline rushed through Jack’s veins as his tires rolled passed The Vandals. His modified pipes gave off a low rolling rumble. He couldn’t help but notice many Vandals giving him “the bad eye”, yet he felt reasonably assured nobody would go after his drag strip winning car.

Jeannie’s ex-boyfriend, Alan Hughes, stood beside his newly famous black hotrod, which had recently appeared in the movie, High School Confidential. Upon Jeannie’s break-up with Alan, he had appeared on her doorstep to retrieve the chromed dual dipstick he had given her. While it was customary for most boyfriends to give their girlfriend a class ring, Alan gave his dipstick.

On the way to Grisinger’s, Jeannie had revealed to Jack that her secret motive to cruising the joint was to make her ex jealous. Jealous that she was with another guy or simply impressed by the car she was in, Jack wasn’t quite sure. Either way, her wish was his command.

After cruising around the parking lot once, Jack chose to take one more slow spin, once again receiving “the bad eye”. Having safely graced the Vandals twice around, Jack decided he better leave well enough alone. He pulled onto Atlantic having braved the Vandal’s hangout for a girl . . . the beautiful brown-eyed girl who still sat close beside him.

*  *  *

It was nearing 1:00 a.m. when Jack pulled into Jeannie’s neighborhood, but Jeannie wasn’t ready for the night to end.

“Just pull over here,” she directed. “If you park in front of the house my mom and dad will start flashing the porch lights.”

In the dark of night, the two continued their conversation. They talked and they laughed . . . and then they talked some more and laughed some more. Jeannie just couldn’t get enough of Jack’s comedic humor. He was a great story teller and so easy to converse with, which is part of what attracted the shy brunette to him.

An hour or so passed before Jack turned the key in the ignition. “You’re dad’s gonna shoot me. We better get you in the house.”

He pulled the car around the corner and stopped.

“Hold on.” He jumped out of the car, hurried to the passenger side and pulled open Jeannie’s door.

The couple dawdled along the walkway, their conversation picking up right where they’d left off. Having stepped up to the porch, the two lingered . . . and talked still more.

And then they sat down.

And the dialogue continued well into the wee hours of the morning.

*  *  *

Published in: on June 11, 2014 at 11:49 pm  Comments (1)  

Welcome to The Author Within

You’ve stumbled upon the creative writings of Jennifer Suchey. This blog is composed of several short stories I wrote as a newly blossoming writer. Most were written for the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge at faithwriters.com as a way to be challenged to write my best, and to learn and grow from other writers.

Short stories have taken a sideline lately to articles I now write on other sites, including BlissfulMiss.com where women can discover their bliss, live well, and be fabulous. I mostly write on natural health, beauty, self-improvement, relationships and the home.

While you’re here sip on some coffee and enjoy a story or two. Thanks for stopping by.

Published in: on August 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

What to Do wIth Your Amazing Stories

Renee loved to write, but didn’t know what to do with her stories and words of wisdom until a couple of mysterious beings provided some much needed direction.

Hovering discreetly, the two figures draped their legs over the banister rail. Below them they observed the antics of two women around a kitchen island.

*   *   *

“Are you kidding me? Give me that.” Renee grabbed the can of whipped cream and crafted an impressive mound atop her fudge sundae.

Sophie gaped at the concoction. “How do you stay so thin?”

“Well,” Renee’s words were muffled by the massive bite she had just shoved in her mouth, “I burn a lot of energy trying to figure out how to get you to write.”

Renee rolled her eyes. “I’m telling you, you’re the only one who actually wants to read my writing. I don’t even know why I let you read that story.”

“Umm . . . maybe because it was amazing? And maybe because you know you need someone to kick you in the booTAY?”

Renee licked her spoon and eyed her friend. “BooTAY?”

“Yes, booTAY. It’s that skinny thing you need to sit on while you think up more amazing stories.”

“Mm hmm . . . and just what do you suggest I do with these amazing stories?”

Renee shrugged. “Enter a writing contest?”

*   *   *

Zeke bumped the figure beside him, nearly toppling him over the rail. “This is your cue.”

“Cue for what?” Gus regained his balance and rubbed his arm.

“Don’t be a doofus. You know the reason the Father sent us here was to point Renee to FaithWriters.”

“Yeah? Well? So, why do I have to do it?”

“Because your the angel in training, not me. I direct. You do . . . so go . . . do.”

“Alright fine. I’ll just go tell her to check out faithwriters.com. How hard could it be?”

Zeke concealed a smirk as his feathered friend hopped off the rail, swooped into the kitchen and nestled himself on the counter between the two women. He looked Sophie in the eye and clearly enunciated the words, “Faith Writers.”

Renee scraped the fudge off the sides of her goblet. “Maybe there’s a website where you can post your Christian writing and get your writing critiqued.”

Gus twisted his head toward Renee. “Yeah. Hellooo. I just said it. Faith Writers. Go to faithwriters.com.

Sophie put the lid on the ice cream. “That would be great. I think I’d feel safer in a Christian environment. I wonder if there’s a site that offers Christian writing courses . . . maybe even opportunities for paid writing assignments.

Gus peered at Zeke. “What up? Clearly they’re not paying attention.”

Zeke smiled. “Yes, but it’s very entertaining from up here.” He moved his gaze to the laptop in front of Gus.

Gus eyed the open device. “What? You want me to . . .? Ohhh!

He flashed a gander at Sophie and then Renee, still gabbing with spoons in hand.

Tipping forward, he studied the keys on the computer. With his two index fingers he managed to locate the “F” key, and then the “A”. One by one he found all the letters that make up faithwriters.com.

He grinned at his accomplishment and eyed his mentor above. Zeke just shook his head in bewilderment. “How does he not know how to type?

Looking back at the keyboard, Gus hit the enter key and then jumped off the counter with triumphal expectancy.

His radiant smile vanished, however, as the women began to clean up their mess.

“I’ll put the whipped cream away,” Renee smirked before squirting a glob in her mouth.

“You’re hopeless.” Sophie wiped the counter near the laptop and paused.

“Hey, let’s do a Google search.”

“Okay.”

Sophie took a look at the screen and squinted. “What’s this?”

Tah dah!” Gus raised his hands in jubilation.

First place entry in FaithWriters.com Blog Contest.

Published in: on July 25, 2012 at 11:48 am  Comments (1)  

Baby Blues

FaithWriters.com Weekly Challenge
TOPIC: In The Kitchen

The little girl lay sunken in the overstuffed sofa mesmerized by the cartoon characters. Her left thumb lingered secure in her mouth, while her right arm cradled her favorite dolly.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” The thundering voice of Riley’s father drowned out the noise of the cartoon. Riley’s eyes darted toward the crack in the master bedroom door.

“Because I knew you’d react this way!” Her mom’s sharp voice was almost as unnerving.

Riley’s eyes followed Daddy’s movement toward Mommy.

“React what way? You mean like this?” The back of his hand swiped hard across his wife’s face, sending her reeling back into the dresser and tumbling to the floor.

Riley scrambled off the couch and ran into the kitchen with dolly clutched tightly. She shoved open the pantry door, tugged it shut behind her and huddled in the corner.

“Shhhh. It’s okay Bella. We’re safe in here.”

*   *   *

Monica bent over the bathroom sink and rinsed her face. Bloody water swirled around the drain. Peering into the mirror she examined the wound on her cheek and wondered if she would need stitches. Always the left hand, she thought. Ironic that his wedding ring, of all things, would send her to the ER.

She needed ice.

Taking a step for the bathroom door, she paused and winced. Her hand moved to her back, where it had thrust into the dresser.

Dave was gone now. He would undoubtedly return in a few hours with a dozen pink roses. He would be charming. He would apologize.

And she would forgive him.

Monica hobbled through the bedroom, the living room and into the kitchen. She opened the freezer and began to reach for ice.

“What did you do, Bella!”

Monica paused and looked around. “Riley?”

Then she heard a thump, like something hitting the wall nearby. Then she heard it again.

“I don’t know why you make me do this!” The screaming continued, as did the thumping.

Reaching for the pantry door, Monica turned the handle slowly and nudged the door open.

There on the floor sat her little girl . . . hitting her dolly’s head against the wall.

“Shut up, Bella. Stop crying!”

“Riley! What are you doing?” Monica crouched down next to her daughter and took hold of the doll.

Riley looked up at her mother with her big blue eyes. But these were not the eyes of Monica’s sweet baby girl. The innocent, carefree expression that Monica loved in her four-year-old child was replaced with something . . . something different.

Monica clasped her hand over her mouth.

She recognized the look in her daughter’s eyes. She had seen it in the eyes of Riley’s father . . . just before she crashed into the dresser.

“Bella made me mad again.” Riley crossed her arms and glared at the doll in her mother’s hand.

Monica eyed the doll and looked back at Riley. “Umm . . . again?”

“Yeah. She makes me mad sometimes.”

And then, in an instant, Riley’s expression changed. With eyes still locked on the doll, her baby blues softened, her furrowed brow diminished. Anger turned to sadness, and even remorse. She reached for Bella.

Her voice was now soft and tender. “Can I have her back?”

Monica, bewildered by the whole event, placed the doll in Riley’s hands.

“Bella, don’t cry. I’m sorry.” The little girl drew the doll close and hugged her. Riley’s upper body twisted back and forth, as if to console the doll. “I love you, Bella.”

Wide-eyed, Monica stared at the scene before her. And then her crouched body crumbled to the floor where she sat, propped up by one arm. Tears began to trail down her cheek.

“What’s the matter, Mommy?”

Monica stroked her daughter’s head.

“Mommy . . . what’s the matter? I told Bella I’m sorry, so it’s okay. You don’t need to cry.”

Monica sniffled and wiped her face. “No, honey. It’s not okay . . . come here.” She cradled her baby girl in her arms and clung firmly. “We have to go. We need to pack up some things and go.”

“Go where, Mommy?”

“We’re gonna go stay with Nana for a while. Does that sound like fun?”

Riley tilted her head up. “What about Daddy? Is he coming, too?”

Monica locked eyes with her daughter’s baby blues. She stroked her chin.

“No, honey. Daddy isn’t coming.”

Published in: on July 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nothing More Important

The beachside cafe bustled with activity. Patrons sat beneath red umbrellas engaged in conversation while enjoying California cuisine.

The ocean breeze blew strands of hair across Vanessa’s face. “I can’t believe Courtney Wilhelm is meeting us here. It’s been, what . . . twelve years since we graduated USC?”

Megan sipped iced tea and nodded. “The internet is a wondrous thing, right? I was shocked when I saw the friend request.”

“Vanessa Blackwell! Megan Roland!” The vivacious voice carried.

The two women locked eyes and grinned as they stood to face Courtney Wilhelm.

After hugs were exchanged the three friends sat and chatted for the next hour. Courtney’s life sounded amazing. Her career as a high-powered attorney intrigued Vanessa.

As the conversation continued, however, Courtney’s countenance began to change. Her face was now flushed and her eyes moist. Summing up her marital troubles she announced, “He got full custody of the kids.”

The words pierced Vanessa’s chest like a spear.

“Oh, Courtney.” Vanessa placed her hand over her friend’s. This was deep. This was real life pain her friend was experiencing and Vanessa had no idea what to say.

Megan turned her chair toward Courtney. “Courtney, do you go to church?”

Courtney dabbed her eyes with a cloth napkin. “I don’t have time for church.”

Vanessa then watched and listened with great intent as Megan shared the love of Jesus with Courtney, the gift of salvation and how when we rest in God, He carries us through trying times.

“You don’t have to go through this life alone, Courtney.” As Megan spoke she pulled a small book from her purse and set it in front of Courtney.

“This is the Gospel of John. Take it with you and read it when you get a chance. There’s nothing more important than your salvation, Courtney, so please promise me you’ll at least read it.”

Courtney took the pocket testament and flipped through it.

“Pay attention to the verses in bold,” Megan pointed to one. “They’re key to understanding new life in Christ. There’s also a section detailing the plan of salvation. You’ll find a clear explanation with some of the verses I shared with you today.”

“Alright.” Courtney looked at the time on her phone. “For you, Megan, I’ll read it.” She pushed her chair back and stood. “I’m late for a meeting.”

The three friends hugged and Courtney hurried off to her car.

Lingering in front of the cafe, Vanessa eyed Megan.

“How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Share Jesus with her so easily. I could never do that.”

“Yes you could. Go to The Pocket Testament League . . . ptl.org. You can order pocket testaments like the one I gave Courtney and get free evangelism training. It’s easier than you might think to share your faith.”

“Pocket Testament League?”

“Yeah, it’s a great site with wonderful resources, including free daily devotionals and evangelism tools. It’s where I learned everything I shared with Courtney today.”

“Really? ptl.org. Maybe I can be an evangelist.”

 

Third place entry in FaithWriters.com Blog Contest.

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm  Comments (1)  

Shy Boy

Two cowboys rested on tree stumps amid the green plains of Nevada. It had been a good day of rounding up yearlings, but this cattle drive was not so much about driving cattle as it was about a horse named Shy Boy.

Monty adjusted his hat. “We gotta keep our eyes open for those wild horses, cause I do wanna turn him loose, Caleb.”

Caleb sat with one hand perched on each leg. “You do?” The accomplished young horseman had grown an attachment to the horse.

“Yeah, I do. You don’t, huh?”

Caleb looked down. “Uh . . . you know, I’d rather not. I’m really not looking forward to that at all.”

Monty was thoughtful. “But . . . I don’t think he’ll go away. I think he’ll come back.”

Shy Boy, a bay mustang, had been born wild and free in these very plains. It had only been eleven months since Monty’s bold attempt to gentle the stallion in the wild. Without the use of an enclosed structure, Monty Roberts, “the man who listens to horses”, used his trademark method, Join-Up, to form a connection with the wild horse. The remarkable moment came when the mustang approached the horseman, dropped his head and allowed Monty to touch his face. Monty was then able to saddle, bridle and get a rider on the stallion in the middle of the vast Nevada plains.

“A good trainer can get the horse to do what he wants it to do,” Monty is fond of saying. “A great trainer can make the horse want to do it.”

With a keen desire to understand the psychology of a horse, gentling one in the wild was only the first part of Monty’s experiment. The now famous mustang was then cared for and trained as a western cutting and reigning horse. On today’s cattle drive he was put to the test with Caleb as his rider. Shy Boy performed admirably.

Yet, the hardest part was still to come.

Caleb looked at Monty. “I think if we turn him loose, he’s gonna go with them.”

“Well, that’s what a bunch of experts say. But, the way I figure it . . .  he’s had eleven months of good care. He’s had a warm place every night and a bucket of water . . . some feed.” Monty shrugged. “I think he’s coming back.”

*  *  *

The wild herd was spotted approaching from the north. As the sun drew near the horizon the horses appeared on the ridge overlooking the camp.

Monty stroked Shy Boy’s neck and looked him in the eye. “Okay, Shy Boy. What do you think? Wild or come home?” With a gentle nudge he pulled the stallion’s head to the left. “Can you see those horses?”

As the halter fell from his neck Shy Boy pulled away and flew toward the herd, ascending the hill with black tail high in the air. An uneasy feeling settled on Monty as he observed the horse entering the herd. Shy Boy was approached by a chestnut. The two nudged noses while others surrounded him. Monty marveled at the way Shy Boy was accepted without fuss.

“I mighta made a mistake.” His heart sank as he watched the herd trot off together . . . out of sight.

Monty took a long walk to the top of the hill. He searched but saw no horses. At sunset he rode his horse out and scanned the area some more. He could not find Shy Boy.

It was a sleepless night for the middle-aged cowboy, who kept watch like a parent waiting up for a child.

Daybreak arrived. Monty, Caleb and Caleb’s young sister, Tara, stared up at the hills. Caleb was solemn.

Monty turned away. “You guys get your horses. Let’s go.”

“Look, it’s him!” Tara pointed.

There on the hill above . . . stood Shy Boy.

Monty’s chest pounded with a flurry of excitement. Everyone stared in disbelief as the mustang meandered a little closer, stopped and glanced back at the herd above. Looking back to the people he began to move again. He was headed straight for them. His walk turned into a jog. His jog became a gallop. Entering sage brush the stallion began to jump and zigzag his way toward them with urgency.

Out in the open now his legs extended into a full gallop. He let out a loud neigh and then few yards from Monty he halted. Standing steadfast he allowed Monty to approach and place a rope around his neck.

Shy Boy had come back from the wild.

 ___________________
This is a true story.
To view actual footage of this story go to this link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BB4XCdQCts
This is “Shy Boy” Monty Roberts Part One. There are four parts to this story on You Tube.
Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Best Friends Forever

FaithWriters.com Weekly Challenge
TOPIC: Agreement/Disagreement

The small house nestled into a Pasadena neighborhood where two middle school girls sipped lemonade and swayed idly on the porch swing.Through the open kitchen window, Kita’s mom could hear giggles emerge between hushed tones. She smiled as she filled five small bowls with miso soup.

“Lunch is ready.” She spoke loud enough for everyone to hear while setting the bowls on the table with the rice and vegetables.

“Come on.” Kita jumped up and grabbed Helen’s hand. The girls came to the table along with Mr. Nakumura and Kita’s older brother, Makoto.

“Here you go, Helen.” Makoto pulled her chair out.

“Thank you.” She smiled.

“Let us give thanks.” Mr. Nakumura bowed his head.

After the blessing Helen picked up her spoon. “I love your soup, Mrs. Nakumura.”

“I am glad you like it. How was church today?”

“Good. Pastor Bentley preached on loving each other. How about your church?”

“We learned about Jesus’ birth. Does your family celebrate Christmas?”

“Oh, we love Christmas. We have a lot of Swedish traditions. I’m in charge of making the rice porridge this year.”

Conversation was interrupted by the black rotary telephone in the living room. Mr. Nakumura stood and picked up the receiver. A look of concern swept over his eyes as he hung up the phone, walked over to the mantle and turned on the wooden radio.

In that moment, everything changed.

. . . the island of Oahu. Japanese forces have attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor with a sudden and massive air raid. Peace talks appear to have been a subterfuge . . .

The stunning news reports kept coming. No one uttered a word. Kita’s stomach turned in knots.

The telephone rang again. Makoto answered and turned to Helen.

“It’s your mom. She wants you to come home.”

Helen looked at Kita with solemn eyes. “I guess I have to go.” She leaned forward to give her friend a hug. “I’ll call you later.”

“I’ll walk you home.” Kita stood from her chair.

“No,” Mr. Nakumura spoke up. “You can talk to Helen later.”

*   *   *

Kita stood by Helen’s locker in the covered walkway. Finally she spotted her.

“There you are. Why weren’t you on the bus?” Kita stepped back from the locker to allow Helen access. “I could have used a friend. Everyone was glaring at me.”

“My mom drove me.” Helen threw a book in her locker and grabbed another. “I gotta get to class.”

“Wait. Why didn’t you call me yesterday?.”

The bell rang.

Helen stepped away from Kita. “I – I had homework.” She turned and headed for class.

Bewildered, Kita watched her friend walk away. Looking down, she realized she had the wrong textbook for English. She hurried to her own locker where a message greeted her, written in red paint. Snap the Jap!

Kita drew in a sharp breath and covered her mouth with her hand.

“That’s right, Jap.” A boy’s voice came from behind, followed by a shove. “How dare you show your face here.”

Suddenly Kita felt something wet on her neck and realized it was spit. The second bell rang and the boy ran off.

Kita’s fell against the lockers and breathed shallow breaths. With tears welling she dropped her books and ran out of the school. Three miles later she staggered into her house and fell into the arms of her mother.

“Why is this happening?” She spoke between sobs.

Mrs. Nakumura stroked her daughter’s hair. “There is no sense to it, honey. We should not have let you go to school. Things are going to be different now.”

*   *   *

Kita sat on the steps of Helen’s house. She stood when Helen approached with school books in hand.

“Helen, are you still my friend?”

Helen stopped. “I don’t know what to say.” She looked down and brushed her hair behind her ear.

“How about, ‘I’m sorry everyone hates you, Kita. But I still love you and will always be your friend.’”

“Um . . . I don’t know if we can be friends anymore.”

“What?”

“My parents say your family could be spies.”

“Are you serious? We have treated you like family. Yesterday you ate at our table.”

“I know, but . . . “

“Do you really think we agree with what Japan did yesterday? This our country. We love America.”

Helen sighed and finally looked Kita in the eye. “I know. It’s silly. You guys are wonderful.”

Kita smiled and looked at her friend with longing.

Helen set her books on the steps and the two friends hugged.

“I’m sorry, Kita.” She held out her pinky. “Best friends forever?”

Kita slid her pinky around Helen’s and smiled. “Best friends forever.”

Published in: on January 28, 2012 at 10:10 am  Leave a Comment  

A Scurrying Flurrying Race Against Time

FaithWriters.com Weekly Challenge
TOPIC: Commitment
EDITOR’S CHOICE 10th of 74
2nd in Advanced Division

“Grab my hand!”

The roar of the helicopter threatened to drown the voice of the man dangling beneath it. His body looped around the landing skid with one arm extended toward a woman trapped on the roof of a burning building.

“Do it now! It’s gonna blow!”

The woman squinted from the smoke, looked into the eyes of the man and lunged toward him. The helicopter pulled away just as the top floor of the building exploded.

At least that’s how it appeared after special effects were added.

“Cut! That’s a wrap,” the director announced.

Still clinging to the helicopter, which was suspended within a large sound stage beside a green screen, Drew Ferring released his grip on the woman actor. She dropped to a soft air bag below followed by Drew. As he slid off the air bag he eyed his assistant. “Adam, what time is it?”

“5:30.” The young man looked at his iPad. “You have just enough time to make it to the meeting with Spielberg.”

“Adam, I told you to reschedule that.”

Drew grabbed a towel and began wiping makeup off his face as he walked off the set.

“Drew, come on.” Adam jogged to catch up. “You don’t reschedule Steven Spielberg. If you land his next movie – ”

“I can land his next movie tomorrow. Today I have an appointment.”

Opening his trailer door he stepped inside and glanced back at Adam. “Reschedule it.”

Drew flung the door closed, pulled off his clothes and threw on the button-down shirt and jeans he had arrived at the studio in. He slipped on his wedding ring and snatched up his keys and phone, which began to ring. Noting the caller, he answered while exiting the trailer.

“Hey Tom.” He took quick strides toward his car.

“Hey man. What are you doing?”

“I got a thing.” Drew lifted his key fob and unlocked his car.

“Well, cancel your thing. I got prime tickets to the Lakers and an invite from Kobe to a party after.”

“Oh . . . man.” Drew opened the door of his BMW and slid behind the wheel. “Dude, I can’t.”

“Okay, you did not just say that. Maybe I should clarify. When I say prime tickets, I mean we’ll need a towel to wipe the sweat as it drips off the players and onto us. We’re talkin’ –”

“Tom! I’m sorry, man. I can’t go, but thanks for the invite.”

Pulling onto Melrose, Drew checked the time again. It was going to be close. His GPS displayed a travel time of an hour and twenty to his Malibu home.

A conversation with his agent helped pass the time on the 10 Freeway. Fifteen miles onto Pacific Coast Highway his wife called.

“Hey, Babe. I’m on PCH . . . ten minutes away.”

“Okay, everything is ready. See you soon.”

Drew smiled. “Love you.”

It was 6:58 as Drew turned onto his street and pulled past the gate to his estate. He jumped out of the car and sprinted up the steps as the front door opened. His wife greeted him with a top hat on her head and tuxedo coat extended with both hands.

Drew grinned and gave her a quick kiss. “You’re so sexy in that top hat, but I think I’ll take that.”

He snatched it from her head and placed it on his own, then slipped his arms into the jacket. “Thanks, Babe. I believe I have a crumpet waiting for me.”

“Mmm, yes. Butterscotch. You better get going. It’s seven o’clock exactly. You mustn’t keep her highness waiting.”

Drew grabbed the handrail, took the stairs two at a time and knocked on a bedroom door. It opened, revealing a pink bedroom fit for a princess. There before him stood . . . his little princess; five years old, adorned in a lavender dress and sparkling tiara.

“Hello, Princess Brittany. Well don’t you look lovely?”

“Why, thank you, Lord Ferring. I was a little worried you wouldn’t make it.” Brittany moved to a little round table set with pink tea cups. Her teddy bear sat in one chair and her dolly in another.

“Sir Boo and Lady Molly have already arrived.” Brittany pulled a tiny chair out for her father.

“Thank you. I have so been looking forward to this tea party.”

Drew sat in the teeny chair while Princess Brittany poured invisible tea into his little pink cup. He took a sip.

“Mmmm . . . delicious.”

“Glad you like it, Lord Ferring. Crumpet?”

“Oh yes. Butterscotch . . . my favorite.”

Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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