Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Story #30: "The Malapropistic Minister"

Okay, here we go! My June Writing Challenge to myself was to write 30 stories in 30 days and publish them here on the blog. That's right, #astoryaday for an entire month. And with this story, I have officially completed my goal. I'm not sure if this is the worst thing (taste-wise) or the funniest thing I've written all month. But here it is nonetheless. I should probably define the term "malapropism" (of which "malapropistic" is a derivative) for those who aren't familiar with it. According to Merriam-Webster, a malapropism is "an amusing error that occurs when a person mistakenly uses a word that sounds like another word but that has a very different meaning."  Enjoy?  ~  JH

"The Malapropistic Minister"

Good morning to you! Let's try that one more time! I said: Good morning to you! That's better! It is truly a blessing to see all your smiting faces this morning. Turn to your neighbor and tell them, "It's a good day to be in the horse of the Lord." Amen! Palm 118, verse 24 says, "This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be clad in it." Song 100, verse 4 impales us to "enter into His grates with thanksgiving, and into His course with praise." Amen? Amen! A couple of prayer upstates to share with you this morning before we bow to rescind our offering. Millicent Stopper's gallbladder obfuscation went reminiscently well and she was able to go home from the hospitable on Friday evening. Slim Yumping is scheduled for a follow-up visit with his ornithologist this coming Tuesday, to determine whether or not he is going to need Tommy Chong surgery. Beverly Honeysuckle is going to remain in the Re/Max center for a couple more days while she recovers from her most recent heart amputation. And finally, Julian Watermark asks us to remember his sister, Earlene Vodka, in ferment prayer. She is suffering from Stage 3 esoteric cankers and, at least as far as Julian knows, she is unsolved. Let us play…

Story #29: "Running Away From Homeless"

Okay, I'm almost there. It's still Day 30, and this is now Story #29 of my #astoryaday June Writing Challenge. One more story left to write. This one here derived from a (supposedly) clever title I'd come up with weeks ago. I finally thought up an appropriate story (supposedly) to accompany said title. Hope you like it. If you don't, that's okay. Thanks for sticking with me this far if you have.  ~  JH

"Running Away From Homeless"

I have this recurring nightmare in which I am running at top speed from a dingily dressed man waving a cardboard sign that reads: "HOMELESS VET PLEASE HELP GOB BLESS." 

It's not the man himself that frightens me, or even the way he is dressed. It's that typo on his sign that frankly scares me to death.

Did he mean to write "GOD BLESS"? That would be the logical conclusion, and one can only hope that was his intention. But what if it wasn't?

Could it be that the man is actually a life-size turkey disguised as a human and the sign is supposed to read "GOBBLES"? Could he know that I am terrified of all species of birds, but most especially the kinds that walk on two legs and fly infrequently? Oh, the horrors!

Or maybe the message means just what it says. That his goal, in chasing me down, is to "BLESS" me with a "GOB" of…of what? Phlegm? Partially digested bananas? Blood? I start to shudder just thinking about it again! And no matter how hard I try, I can't stop thinking about it!

I've made various attempts to send myself off into a peaceful slumber, free from this terrifying reverie, by reading about completely unrelated things right before I fall asleep. Like An Ecological Approach To Turnip Farming, for instance, or the latest issue of Stamps Monthly. But it's all to no avail.

Perhaps I am doomed to sleep, perchance to dream of the homeless vet/turkey-man/phlegm-spewer every night for the rest of my life, and there is no way to make him go away. 

Or maybe, just maybe, the next time I see an actual person in need in my waking hours – whether it be a homeless vet, a struggling single mother, or whomever else – I should extend my hand and if needs be the contents of my wallet to help them. Maybe my reticence to do so is the greatest purveyor of nightmares of all.

Story #28: "A Word In Edgewise"

Here's Story #28 in my #astoryaday June Writing Challenge. I bet we all have one friend (or ex-friend) like this guy. Either of them, actually. Enjoy?  ~  JH

"A Word In Edgewise"

"See, that's exactly what I'm talking about! That confounded attitude of yours is gonna get us both in trouble one of these days!"

This isn't the first time Rodney has gotten on my case today without provocation. In fact, it is the eighth. The first seven times, I tried to shrug it off without saying anything, which only further served to "get his goat," as Rodney likes to say. But I'm getting pretty tired of hearing him jaw at me over any and everything, and now it's time to nip it in the bud.

"Rodney, you and me – we've been friends for a long time now, right?"

"Right, but –"

"And in the course of our long-standing friendship, we've had some pretty good times, wouldn't you agree?"

"Yes, but –"

"And also during that time, we've had our fair share of disagreements, wouldn't you also agree with that?"

"I reckon, but –"

"And through it all, Rodney, wouldn't you say that I have been a faithful friend to you no matter what?"

"Well, sure, but –"

"But what, Rodney? Why must there always be a 'but'? Why do you always insist on having the last word – and indeed, nine out of ten words – on every little thing? Does it make you feel powerful? Does it make you feel in control?"

"I don't –"

"If so, why do you feel the need to control me? What did I do to deserve it? What's in it for you?"

"I –"

"Answer me, Rodney!"

"Well, I would, but –"

"There's that word 'but' again! Why do you always have to get so defensive about everything?"

"I ain't never known you to go off on anybody like this, much less on me! What gives?"

"You never really gave me much chance to, did you, Rodney? You're a talker, no question about that, but you're the poorest listener I've ever met, and I've known some real doozies."

"Well, I'm sorry, but –"

"That again! Rodney, I'm tired of hearing myself talk, because I've already made my point at least half a dozen times now. But I'm even more tired of hearing you talk. Why don't you take your 'confounded attitude' and hit the road, before I have to show you what trouble really is!"

"But – OUCH! Hey, what the –? Ugh, alright, alright, I'm going!"

Story #27: "Where This Finger's Been"

It's Day 30 – otherwise known as "do or die day" – in my #astoryaday June Writing Challenge. This is Story #27. One more story is already in the hopper. The other two are yet to be written. We'll see if this all comes together. I didn't know where this particular story was going until it was finished, and I was surprised by the outcome. Like a few other stories I've written this month, the narrator/protagonist here is female, so you should read it with that in mind. Oh yeah, and enjoy!  ~  JH

"Where This Finger's Been"

You don't know where this finger's been. If you did, you'd treat it – and me – with a lot more respect.

When I was ten years old, in front a packed courtroom, this finger pointed accusingly at the man before me who had stolen my innocence a few months earlier. He had lured me into his clutches by posing as an undercover police officer, and I believed him. My rapist was subsequently convicted and sentenced to spend the remainder of his life behind bars.

When I was eighteen years old, this finger – along with its digital companions – grasped the hand of my friend Stacy and pulled her to safety. The two of us had been rock-climbing in the mountains, and Stacy had slipped over the edge at the precipice, shortly after having disengaged her safety harness.

When I was twenty-four years old, this finger caressed the cheek of the man with whom I would soon be spending the rest of my days. He'd just graced the next-to-last finger on this same hand with a gleaming diamond ring. I reinforced my "yes" with a long, passionate kiss.

Two years later, this finger first grasped the tiny palm of my newborn daughter. She'd been born eight weeks prematurely. It would be several weeks yet before I would be able to hold her in my arms for the first time. I would be hard-pressed to ever let her go thereafter.

Early this morning, this finger was clutching the trigger of a gun. The gun was aimed at the head of the man who violated me all those years ago. He had escaped, or been paroled, it didn't matter which. What did was that he was here, that he had found me. In that moment, my daughter was cowering next to the body of my dead husband in the bedroom adjacent to where I stood. 

I hadn't heard the glass break on the French doors in the kitchen. I hadn't heard my husband cry out, though my daughter told me afterwards that she had. I had been upstairs asleep. My husband had come down to grab a drink of water and had surprised the intruder.

This finger was sweating and trembling more than a little as it hovered over the trigger of that instrument of death. I knew, if my daughter and I were going to survive, that I must squeeze it. The gun I held was that my rapist's. How I had wrested it from his grip was and still remains beyond my recollection. But I had it nonetheless, and I was going to have to use it.

The blast was deafening, but it hit its mark. In that horribly triumphant moment, I relaxed this finger for the first time in a very long while.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Story #26: "Your Biggest Fan"

It's still Day 29, and this is Story #26 in my #astoryaday June Writing Challenge. I like to play with words and phrases, especially in the titles of my stories, and this one is no exception. Nothing earth-shattering here, just a neat little slice-of-life vignette to end the day on a decent note. Enjoy!  ~  JH

"Your Biggest Fan"

Well, you've certainly come to the right place. Come on in, let's have a look-see!

Now over here, you've got your basic, economy-line ceiling fan. Nothing wrong with that a tall, assuming you only like to be mostly cool. You don't mind your cool air maybe going on hiatus halfway through a hot night from time to time, maybe shorting out for no good reason a tall, then this right here is the fan for you.

Then you got your mid-range model here. All the standard features, three variable speeds, single-bulb light fixture, and what have you. She's gonna cost you a little bit more, but you will literally feel the difference when the heat is on. This one is guaranteed to run on the highest setting nonstop for two months straight and not miss a beat. And you can take that to the bank, as it were. 

Now this one right here, this is what we like to call the top-of-the-line, primo-deluxe edition ceiling fan. It's the biggest, most powerful, quietest, and smoothest-running ceiling fan you're gonna find anywhere. It's got five different fan speeds, four independently controlled light bulbs, and a built-in alarm clock, all conveniently controlled by this here handheld remote. 'Course, this one is gonna set you back a few more clams. Matter of fact, right many clams indeed, but you won't regret your purchase for one nanosecond.

Yes sir, this fan right here's the one you wanna go with, trust me on that. Don't believe me? Ask our satisfied customers! I sell ten, maybe fifteen of these suckers every single day, 'cepting the Lord's Day, on which we're closed. Indeed, with the exception of this here floor model, which isn't for sale, we only have one more of these bad boys currently in stock, right out back in our warehouse. Got more on backorder, by popular demand, you see, 'cause we can't keep 'em on the shelves fast enough. Now, have we got a deal, or have we got a deal?

Story #25: "Knew Me When"

I don't know where this #astoryaday June Writing Challenge story (#25 in the series) came from. I neither hold any animosity toward any of my former classmates (high school or college), nor do I ever anticipate becoming as successful as the guy in this story aspires to be. But it's interesting nonetheless. To me, anyway.  ~  JH

"Knew Me When"

Someday I'm going to write a New York Times bestseller, and you're going to say you knew me when. And I'll say when exactly was that? Because when I was nobody, just some guy in your class with a head full of ideas and no real outlet for them, you were not even an acquaintance of mine. Sure, we were both aware of each other's existence, but neither of us could have cared less about the other. The only reason you'll want to act like you know me then, when I'm rich and famous, is for your own selfish benefit, and maybe a little piece of the pie, for old time's sake. But there are no "old times" to speak of, and you know it. You're actually a bit of a horrible person, when it comes down to it, for even thinking of leaching off the successes of others when, with a shred of initiative and a measure of hard work, you could have achieved the same or even a greater level of success than I will one day. But you're too stinkin' lazy to put forth the effort, and that's why, when I make it big, and believe me I will, I'll never take a second glance back at you or anyone else who thought that I was foolish to dream.

Story #24: "The Man Upstairs"

Here's Story #24 on this, Day 29, of my #astoryaday June Writing Challenge. The end of the tunnel is approaching. I can see the light. This story may very well not be what you were expecting it to be by its title, but I think you may still enjoy it.  ~  JH

"The Man Upstairs"

The man upstairs is spying on me. 

He listens at my doorway when he thinks I'm not paying attention. Sometimes, he calls me on my phone and when I answer, he says nothing, only breathes heavily and grunts incomprehensibly. When I go out at night, he peeks down at me from his bedroom window, jostling the blinds carelessly and giving himself away.

I know what he wants from me, but I'm not going to give it to him. After all, it's only the twentieth of month. The rent's not due for eleven more days. 

Sometimes I feel like screaming out loud – and maybe I should, because he's probably listening – "Payday is what it is, man! You can't squeeze blood from a turnip, and you can't stalk me into paying up early. It doesn't work like that. We have an agreement!" 

But it probably wouldn't do any good anyway. He'd probably slink upstairs like the snake he is, and do whatever it is that creepy people do in their spare time; and the second he got bored, he'd be right back at my door – the wretched mouth-breather.

Five months is a long time, but it's all I have left on the lease. I can neither afford to buy out my lease, nor can I risk the consequences of breaking it. 

Occasionally, I've fantasized about opening the door when I know he's out there listening, binding his hands, and dragging him forcefully back up the stairs to his living quarters. But I'd probably get arrested for that. And I can't afford to let that happen, either.

Not to mention the fact that my mother would probably bawl her eyes out and never forgive me. You see, the man upstairs – he's her husband.