Thad, you ain’t but nothin’ but a hound dog

“…That is Thaddeus Everett Pinfield, the Third,” the bartender pointed toward the door at a couple as they walked in.

“And, her?” I asked.

The bartender shrugged. “Who d’hell knows.”

“Seen her before? With him?”


“Any time before?”

“Nope. You’ll want another, I ‘spose,” the bartender said, nodding toward my half-full beer.

“Nah. Oh! Umm, yes, of course.” I said, picking up the bartender’s clue. I put a 20 on the bar. The bartender flicked his fingers toward him. I put down another 20. The bartender stuffed the bills in his pocket and walked away.

I had been intently watching the crowd at The Brick and Mortar through the mirror behind the bar since I arrived, waiting for the slick looking man in the picture I had in my jacket pocket to show up. None of the men in the place looked anything like him. I wondered if I had the right place. I showed the picture to the bartender when I sat down at the bar.

“Yeah, he’s a regular. Probably’ll come in today.”

“What’s his name?” I asked, making sure I also had the right guy.

“Thaddeus Everett Pinfield, the Third.”

The confirmation cost me my first 20, and the beer.

Even though the man in the picture didn’t look like he belonged here, I guessed the place was full of the usual crowd; construction workers and contractors from the Local 835, drinking a beer and shot, and shooting a little pool before heading home for dinner with the wife and kids. Only a couple of women were among them. Girlfriends? They didn’t look like the prostitutes that worked this part of the city. This didn’t seem like the sort of place guys typically brought their wives and girlfriends, so I was interested. Professional curiosity, I suppose. Something to do to pass the time while I waited for Pinfield the Third to show up.

Over the next half hour, people came and went. Then a caricature of a gentleman walked in with a young club-hopper on his arm. I was taken aback. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and these two looked like they were on their way to some fabled late-night uptown penthouse party.

The bartender came over to me. “That’s him…”

Thaddeus Everett Pinfield the Third was dressed in an expensive blue, double-breasted three-piece suit, starched white shirt, and a gold silk tie in a Windsor knot. He had a matching gold silk handkerchief folded with 3 peaks in his breast pocket, and a large gold signet ring on his left pinky finger. The faceted red gem in the middle of the ring reflected the afternoon sunlight, pouring in from the open door behind them, in crimson streaks shooting out in every direction. His salt-and-pepper hair was perfectly coiffed in an old-fashioned pomade Marcel swoop, and his black wingtip oxfords were impeccably polished. He was clearly self-possessed, with an easy grin showing off perfectly straight, gleaming white teeth.

She, on the other hand, looked awkward, and, when I thought about it, a bit frightened. Her long blonde hair hung past her shoulders in those long, inward coiled curls that ended in unfinished, stuck out ends, like women wear their hair these days. She had on a loose, hot pink satin camisole over her obviously bra-less torso. Her top was tucked into a painted-on tight black skirt that went down only as far down as was decent to be seen wearing in public. Long, bear legs directed the eye down to bear feet in strappy, grey crystal-studded stiletto platforms. Both earlobes sagged low from the weight of her Swarovski crystal chandelier earrings.

Good luck sitting down in that get-up, little girl, I smirked to myself. Unless you want every man in the place vying for a glimpse of what they hoped would reveal a Brazilian wax job.

Pinfield the Third escorted his bit of stuff to the other end of the bar, where he graciously seated her in the last stool against the wall before taking a protective position beside her, with his back to the room, virtually blocking the bar’s view of her. I stood to approach but stopped to glance in the mirror. Looks of disappointment passed over the men’s faces, obviously realizing they weren’t going to get a floor show after all. I inwardly laughed as I turned my attention back to Pinfield the Third and Club Girl.

He chatted with the bartender while her eyes roamed around the place. Her expression was confused and increasingly angry. Her face told me to wait a bit before proceeding further, and so I sat back down. The bartender returned with a Scotch, neat, for him and a glass of red wine for her. The smile never dropped from Pinfield the Third’s face. He raised his glass to the bartender and then gave Club Girl’s wine glass a gentle clink.

“This it?” I read her lips. She was glaring at him. He smoothed the front of his attire and took a sip of his drink. His stance was such that I couldn’t see his mouth, but he had a lot to say, whatever it was. He gestured with his drink in one hand, and then gestured with his other hand, in soft, sweeping loops.

“You said we were going out!” I saw her say.

Thaddeus Everett Pinfield the Third took another sip of his Scotch and again talked and gestured.


Wine was dripping down his face. The red stain on his shirt grew with every drop that fell from his chin. The rest of the bar did a lousy job pretending they didn’t hear or see a thing. Club Girl threw her glass on the floor, sending the shattering glass flying.

“HEY!” the bartender yelled. “Rein in your wild cat!”

The bartender threw a clean bar towel at Pinfield as he walked to the other end of the bar for a broom and dustpan.

“WELL?” the Club Girl yelled.

Pinfield gently wiped his face with the towel and futilely dabbed at his shirt, saying nothing. The girl grabbed her evening bag and marched to the door, shoving Pinfield into the bar. She passed close to me. I was surprised to see she wasn’t wearing make-up. Not even lipstick. I watched her as she slammed her full body into the front door, throwing it open with incredible force.

There was something incongruous about her. I couldn’t tell what, but one thing I knew for sure, she was no regular club-hopping tramp.

I walked over to Pinfield.

“You’ve been served. Twice, by all appearances,” I said, unironically as possible, as I handed him the subpoena I had folded in my jacket pocket along with his photo. I then walked out of the bar and went after the girl. I caught up to her three blocks away, trying to hail a cab.

“Hi. I, uh, I was at the bar just now. The Brick and Mortar? You OK?”

The girl frowned at me and turned away, waving at the cabs as they passed.

“You’ll not get a cab here. Not dressed like that,” I offered. “They don’t pick up business…uh, please! Let me help. OK?” I stepped in front of her and held out my hand at the first cab that approached It stopped. I opened the door for her, and hesitating just a moment, got in after her.

“Hey, man, thanks and all, I get it, but…” she cautioned.

“I don’t want anything. Seriously. Where you headed?”

The cabby looked impatiently at us through his rearview mirror.

“I’m serious, too,” she said, doing her best to pull the hem of her tight short skirt down as far as possible.

“Look, I just want to help…be the good guy here. Let me escort you out of this neighborhood to, uh, wherever you need to go.”

“Good guy? hmph. Right.”

“C’mon, lady,” the cabby snapped. “Where to?”

“Alright, alright!” The girl pointed at me, indicating my place was on the other side of the cab. “Well, I actually hadn’t thought about that. Ummm…shit! Can’t go back to Thadeus’ place. Not now. And I live too far out. Shit! I don’t know. Downtown? Uh…8th and Olive.” She then muttered, “I’ll text my roommate to come get me.”

The cab pulled into traffic and the girl thumbed a message on her phone. Then she turned to look at me.

“What’s your name?”

“Bill.” I held out my hand, which she took.

“I’m Vicki.”

“Hi Vicki.”

“So, why you wanna help me?” Her un-made up face had an easy, gentle beauty that looked out of place amid all the glitz and glam of her get-up.

“Well, actually, I was at the bar to serve Pinfield with papers, and,” I shrugged. “Don’t know. I felt sorry for you, I guess.”

“Really? He got served?! HA!”

“Any way you look at it, looks like your big date was over before it began, I guess.”

“No shit. I mean, OK,” she sighed, and then continued, “He calls, says, get dressed up. Babe, I’m taking you out on the town tonight! And I say, you know I don’t own anything nice! So, anyway, I borrow this stupid…” she grabbed at the hem of the skirt again, “slutty outfit my roommate wears when she goes clubbing, and then we get out of the cab, in southside? Seriously? I thought … oh, never mind. Sorry. I’m a fuckin’ idiot.” Vicki turned away, but then slowly smiled. Looking back at me, she said, “You actually served him papers?”

I nodded.

“Should’ve seen that coming, I guess. So,” Vicki quickly changed tact. “You really feel sorry for me, or you just hoping to get you a little sumpin’ sumpin’ tonight for your effort. ‘Cause you can forget about that. Had my fill of smooth-talking assholes for the rest of my life.”

I laughed at her bluntness. “You…remind of someone. Someone who could have used a little help when she was in a similar situation. It didn’t…turn out… good, for her, and…well, anyway. I’m helping you out.”

It had been years since I thought about the night my family got a call from the police announcing that my oldest sister had turned up in an emergency room, brutally beaten and raped. She was in her first, and what turned out to be her last, year at college. She and her boyfriend were out at a bar and they got into an argument. In a fit, she ran out into the street and decided to hitchhike back to her dorm. She became an angry, sullen, withdrawn hysteric, disappearing into alcohol and drugs. Eventually she got her life back together, but during those lost years, I missed having my sister around. A lot. I missed my sister a lot.

The cab pulled over at 8th and Olive and a car parked across the street honked and flashed its lights.

“Damn, she was fast!” Vicki turned to me and held out her hand. I shook it. “Thanks,” she said.

She awkwardly got out of the cab, holding down her skirt. She turned back to me and said, “Thanks. I mean, I…could I, like, buy you a drink, maybe dinner, or something? I have to invite my roommate to join us. I mean, I can’t let her just sit…fuck, she’s probably pissed with me, but, she’s alright. She’d be cool about it. You…”

“No, no. Thanks. You go on. But…take care. I mean it.”

Vicki took a moment to realize I actually meant what I said. “I will. Promise.”

She shut the cab door and waved, then ran across the street, wobbling on the crystal studded stilettos.

“Where to, man?” The cabby asked.

“Home, I guess.” I gave him my address and then pulled my phone out of my jacket. I looked up my sister’s number and pressed ‘dial.’

OLWG prompts this week are: The last time…; Let her go; The usual crowd was there.

Everyone has an Uncle Earl in the family, and a precocious Melissa

OLWG #41 prompts: Pull my thumb; It’s just a figure of speech; Have we seen this already? (and, presented in order, I might add).

Great Uncle Earl grinned as he held out his hand to his six year-old Grand Niece Melissa. “Pull my thumb. Go on! Pull it!”

Melissa turned to her father Jake for permission. Holding up a cautionary hand to both his daughter and uncle, Jake said, “Earl, please. Don’t.

“C’mon, kid!” Earl urged, ignoring his nephew. “Pull my thumb.”

Melissa warily obliged. Earl let loose a long, loud, baritone belch. Melissa giggled hysterically, as only a six year-old could. Earl winked at Jake.

“Thanks for not, you know,” Jake paused and smiled, “doing the other thing.”

“HEY KID,” Earl yelled, “Pull my other thumb!”

“NO!” Jake snapped, pulling Melissa close to him.

Earl laughed, thrusting his thumbs, one at a time, at Melissa, who gleefully squealed at each jab.

Later that night, as Jake tucked his daughter into bed, Melissa asked to pull her father’s thumb, obviously expecting a command performance.

“Honey, that’s just a figure of speech.” Jake said. “Great Uncle Earl was just having fun with you.”

Melissa pouted and huffed, pushing away the book Jake brought in to read to her.

“Tell you what,” Jake said, realizing he had to win this particular battle. “Let’s watch a movie. I’ll get my laptop and we’ll watch it together, here in your bed! Sound fun?”

Melissa flipped back over, clapping, “Yes! YAY!”

“OK, good,” said Jake. “How about ‘Frozen’?”

“We’ve seen that one, Daddy!”

“OK, which one do you want to watch?”

“Glengarry Glen Ross.”

Sunset at Heartbreak Cove

The 39th set of OLWG prompts are: It’s mostly true; We don’t make sense together; Derision. 

440858-seagullDevin steered his sailboat through a light chop, somewhere between the marina and nowhere in particular. He’d taken down his sail and was under power, trolling as slowly as the engine would go without cutting out. He was in no mood to argue with the southeasterly’s today.

As the shoreline grew larger on his aimless approach, Devin conceded he needed to determine an actual destination. He spun the boat about and arbitrarily headed north. He checked the fuel gauge. Plenty of diesel to poke along for hours. He had time to decide. Sudden inspiration or boredom would dictate where he would anchor for the night.

The July sun was a warm shield on Devin’s shirtless back against the damp, windy chill. Seagulls silently swept by, pausing briefly to survey Devin and his boat for anything promising. Devin had a strongly held theory that seagulls could smell junk food from fifty miles away. He closed the lid of his cooler, and tucked his lunch of Arnie’s Fry Basket fish and chips a little further under the bench.

If Leah were here, Devin mused, she’d be shooing off the gulls, pissed off that Devin had taken the sail down. Or, she’d say she was pissed. But, as it turned out, Leah said a lot of things that weren’t necessarily true.

When Devin first met Leah, getting together made perfect sense. Both were divorcees with children roughly the same age. Both loved doing anything that involved being outdoors. Music, movies, football, social injustice, art…he seemingly could talk to her about anything. She even agreed that butternut squash has no place inside pasta dumplings. That Galapagos “Boobies” ought to have been given another name long ago. That weekend getaways and vintage cars are two of the best things ever. She had never sailed before she met Devin, and told him she was loving learning how to. Devin believed he and Leah saw the world the same way.

“She’s so bull-shittin’ you, dude.” Leah’s eldest son’s scoff came back to mind, and Devin winced at the memory.

Devin was standing on Leah’s back deck, alone, nursing a beer. Leah had invited a large group of friends over to celebrate the spring equinox. On these occasions, Devin often found himself  alone on Leah’s back deck nursing a beer. Leah’s friends were focused only on each other, uninterested that anyone outside their circle was present.

Leah’s eldest son, a kid around 19 or 20 years old, was home for the weekend. Also feeling left out, he asked to join Devin, offering Devin a second beer. As the men made small talk, Leah’s loud cackling laugh suddenly filled the quiet night air. Her son shook his head in obvious embarrassment.

“She’s so bull-shittin’ you, dude. I’m just sayin’…” the kid shook his head again.  “I mean, seriously, I like you man. You’re way better than some of the other assholes she’s been with, but…yeah. Anyway.  I thought you should know. She’s fakin’ it.”

The blunt force of the boy’s blatant statement completely threw Devin off. First of all, the kid rarely, if ever, spoke more than two words together. Secondly, what other assholes? Devin couldn’t remember Leah mentioning past boyfriends. They only talked about their ex-spouses. She never said anything about other men.

Devin asked, “You saying, she…what? Says I’m a jerk?”

“No, not exactly. She bitches about you. Like, about always going sailing. She goes, ‘I don’t want to go sailing again! Leah’s son spoke in a snarky falsetto voice that sounded nothing like his mother. “But, like, when you’re around, she’s all, ‘Oh, Dev! I can’t wait!’,” again in the screechy falsetto. “Such bull-shit.”

Devin took a couple of long gulps of his beer, needing a minute to think. He knew the right course of action was to let it go, but curiosity got the better of him.

“Anything else, since you seem to want to share?” He hoped he sounded casual and not panicky, which was what he was feeling.

“Like I said, she bitches about you, a lot, about a lot of different stuff. Hey, I’m just sayin’, I can tell you’re really into her, and, like, you’re cool. I like you. I just thought you should know.”

Devin didn’t know what to make of the exchange with Leah’s son. On one hand, he wanted to punch the brat square in the face for going on like he was Devin’s good-guy buddy. More to the point, how could a young kid like him know about what really goes on between a man and a woman? On the other hand, he wanted the boy to tell him more and how he knew that Leah was “faking it.” Instead, he made apologies about feeling tired and headed home.

The next day Devin called Leah and told her about his conversation with her son.

“Oh, Dev. I’m so sorry. He shouldn’t have squealed on me like that.”


“Yeah. I mean, OK, it’s nothing. He’s mad because I told him he couldn’t, I don’t know, get a place in the city with his friends, or whatever his issue is with me these days. He shouldn’t tell you about private…He’s in a phase. Thinks I don’t understand where he’s coming from. He’s just getting back at me.”

Devin waited for Leah to explain further, maybe something about how her son misunderstood what she was saying, or better yet, reassure Devin that she loved him. But Leah said nothing more. The call ended, and that was that.

Devin dropped anchor in a small cove perfectly situated out of the wind, and with a full view of the now setting sun. He lit the small hibachi and plopped a hamburger on its grill.  He then went looking for the expensive bottle of Glen Levitt he kept aboard. It was Leah’s birthday present to him the year before. He took a long swig and then popped open a beer.

A seagull landed on the cabin roof, obviously curious what Devin had to offer. “You follow me all the way here?” Devin teased the bird. “Hey, I get it. I’d go a long way for an order of Arnie’s, too.”

He reached under the bench for the unfinished bag of fish and chips, and while he cooked his dinner and finished his beer, he threw French fries in the air for the seagull to catch.

Sometimes the prompts spark a story right away, and sometimes it’s more like a candle that keeps blowing out. The first story I wrote I abandoned  because it wasn’t shaping up to be a story so much as a character study with nowhere to go. This one was almost 3x as long, so I spent the week with a sentence sythe. 

Goodbye, My Pretty Baby. Oh, My Pretty, Pretty Baby, Goodbye

For OLWG 36. I got in 2 of the 3 prompts. The prompts are: Milwaukee; The cost of loving; Right at them.

The decision to let things go is never easy. If you arrive at the point where you have to consider letting go as an option, it means you have, from the first, put in the time. Most likely a lot of time. And, a lot of blood, sweat, and, no doubt, tears. All in the hope that someday, it will work out.

Wayne Newberry was at just such a point. He did whatever it took, whatever was needed. Time, money, you name it. It should be no surprise that everything else in his life suffered as a result. He was in deep debt. His friends stopped calling. His girlfriend broke it off with him. Wayne’s boss finally had to say he couldn’t give him any more salary advances or unpaid leave, not unless Wayne wanted to risk getting canned. When Wayne’s ex-wife’s new husband made a bid to adopt Wayne’s daughter, Wayne didn’t put up a fight. He never was a parent, not in the way it matters, anyway. No, he figured, his daughter was in a good place. The right place for a little girl. Besides, she could always come for a visit, so what is the difference? Besides, he had Bella.

Everything in Wayne’s life was because of Bella. It was all because of his love for his 1953 two door, rag-top Chevy Bel Air he called Bella, that made Wayne do things beyond all reason.

Since the day he got her five years before, Wayne worked tirelessly to bring the old girl back to her just-off-the-showroom-floor glory days. Every penny he had, plus whatever credit card he could max, was spent on parts, body work, a new rag-top, new chrome details, upholstery…you name it. He spent hours combing the internet and trade magazines for restoration retailers and long sleepless nights pawing through engineering and mechanics’ manuals.

When he wasn’t tinkering and fixing, Wayne took Bella to car shows and collector’s events. He had a custom trailer built to carry his precious Bel Air all over the country. Early on, Wayne had made the hard choice to install a 1955 engine, which disqualified Bella from showing at any of the high-end purist collectors’ shows, but that didn’t matter to Wayne. His next big project was to install an original 1953 engine. Someday.

What Wayne didn’t do was see any of the writing on the wall. Bella constantly broke down. Old components and parts routinely gave out. No repair or replacement was anything but expensive. When the collection notices started to roll in after his hours at work got cut, Wayne realized he had to open his eyes to the harsh light of reality.  But, the clincher was the afternoon his daughter refused to stop by for a visit.

“Seriously why would I come over to watch you work on your stupid car?” she said in a text message. “You are in love with that stupid car, and never Mom or me.”

Wayne stopped taking Bella out on the town for a spin. He left her in the garage, tucked in for the night under her cover. Instead,  over the next couple of months, he made an effort to see his daughter and join his friends in a game of pool every now and again. He made an effort to get out in the world, maybe look for a new job with better pay. People are real, Wayne coached himself. Cars are not people. Bella is a car.

As two months rolled into three, the pain of not being with his pretty baby Bella became more than Wayne could manage. One night after work he walked straight into the garage, threw off Bella’s cover, and went back to work on her. He finally collapsed on the couch in his living room around 4AM.

Then came the  awful day Bella wouldn’t turn over. Wayne tried every chewing-gum-and-spit fix he knew, but nothing held. He consulted with every mechanic he could find. He even considered shipping her to Jay Leno’s outfit in California, and paying the hefty price tag to have his people work on her, but the equivalent of a years’ salary was just too high a price to pay.

A guy from Milwaukee answered Wayne’s classified ad and made him a pretty good offer. And Wayne liked talking to the guy. He wasn’t going to sell his pretty baby to just anyone, so, he agreed to the guy’s offer. Wayne threw in whatever parts he had lying around, including the custom trailer. Wayne didn’t want any trace of Bella left behind.

The day before the guy flew out to take her away, Wayne spent the night in the garage, sleeping on a cot next to his pretty baby. Before the guy arrived to cart her off to her new home, Wayne grabbed his well-worn shammy to give the old girl one last polish.

He moved in slow motion, gently rubbing and caressing every inch of her surface. As he made his way along the long line of her chrome stripe, a large tear dropped off his cheek onto the garage floor.

Wayne knew he would never love another as much as Bella ever again.

 You think I’m kidding? Mention “The Rover” to my father—when he was still with us—or to my eldest brother, and just see if I’m exaggerating a bit.

From Whence You Came, Final Part

Though it was still early morning, the summer sun made itself known. Ulani was accustomed to hot weather, but not like this. The dry Kansas air seemed electric. The constantly whirling dust devils were an annoyance, blowing dirt in her eyes and making her skin itch, but standing on the side of the road overlooking the sweeping and swaying emerald fields against an endless azure horizon enthralled her. The only experience she had to compare were the times spent on an uncle’s fishing trawler, far out to sea. There, the ocean stretched for what seemed like forever against an equally unending bright blue sky.

Somewhere in the distance, in the fields, once stood her great grandmother Amelia’s family home. Ulani tried to imagine what it might have looked like, but all she could see were black and white photos from history books of farm life on the plains and prairies of middle America. She turned to see if she could see anything down the road. Somewhere, near here, once stood Aaron’s great grandmother Mabel’s family home. She looked the other way, but nothing stood out. Only the ever reaching green fields of soy bean and stalks of early corn.

“We’re in the right spot,” Aaron said, consulting the paperwork the local Grange could supply from their archived records. “Right in front of us was the Wright’s farm, and down the road, that a’way,” he said, pointing north, “was my great grandmother’s family farm. McAdams, it says here.”

Ulani looked at the paper Aaron held. “That name isn’t familiar?”


“Mabel McAdams. Amelia Wright,” Ulani mused.

“Only family names I’ve ever known are Greig and Rimouski,” Aaron shrugged.

“Holokai and Kapalakiko,” Ulani replied.

The two smiled at each other. Aaron continued, “Strange, to think there were people livin’ around here, back when.” He paused a moment. “Not now.”

Ulani shuddered a little. “Death is so weird.”

“No shit,” Aaron said.

“What do you think happened? Dustbowl migration?” Ulani asked.

“Nah. I mean, the Depression, sure. And, the drought was bad in those years, ‘course. But this area wasn’t the dustbowl. A little mercy in that, I suppose. Nah, farming changed, ya know? And, people went broke if they didn’t roll with the changes. Then there was the drought, like I said. And, then the Depression? The woman at the Grange said the train stopped coming through here sometime in the 40s. I mean, folks had to go where they could get work. Little towns, like Severy? Just dried up.”

“Looks like some came back.”

“Yeah. It never really went away, I suppose.”

Ulani giggled. “They got a gas station, right? Nail and hair salon, ACE Hardware? I saw a Real Estate office, and a feed and equipment yard, and a 7-11, so…” Aaron gave a short laugh in reply. Ulani continued, “There are many, many small towns in Hawaii that aren’t much more.”

The new-found cousins stood in silence for a while. Neither wanted to leave what felt like a sacred burial ground, but neither knew what else could be discovered by remaining a minute longer.

A pick-up truck approached, slowing as it came upon them.

“Help you folks?” an elderly man asked. Sitting next to him was a very old woman.

Aaron approached the driver’s side. “Nah. But, thanks. We’re just lookin’ at our old family homestead. You know the area?”

“Sure. Born and raised. This here used to be the Merrill’s farm. Part of FNC now. Twenty or more years, at least. Before Merrill, was the, uh…” the driver turned to the old woman, “Who owned it before the Merrill’s?”

“Wright,” the woman said, briefly glancing out the driver’s side window. As she returned her focus to out the windshield, she caught sight of Ulani.

“You Gregson’s kin?” she asked, pointing a finger at Ulani.

Aaron waved Ulani in, who had not heard the old woman’s question. “The woman asked about Gregson!” Aaron said, excited.

Ulani leaned in the driver’s side window, briefly acknowledging the driver. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. You know my grandfather?”

“You Gregson’s kin,” the woman stated.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Amelia Wright married a Polynesian. Had a boy, named Gregson” the old woman said. “Crazy thing.”

“Hawaiian,” Ulani politely corrected. “I suppose it was. It certainly was for my family,” Ulani smiled.

“Girl was trouble, start to finish,” the old woman said.

“How did you know my grandfather?” Ulani asked, ignoring the old woman’s comment.


“Lady asked how you know this Gregson guy, Ma,” the driver said.

“Came looking for Amelia.”

“When was that, Ma?”

The old woman shook her head. “A long while back. Years.”

Aaron interrupted. “You know the McAdams?”

The old woman looked at him. ” ‘course.”

“I’m Mabel McAdams great grandson!” Aaron triumphantly declared. The old woman did not respond.

“Well,” the driver finally said, “Mornin’ to ya.”

The men exchanged hat tips, and Ulani waved. As the driver put his truck in gear, the old woman reached out a hand to stall him. She motioned to Ulani to come back to the truck.

“Gregson was a kind man. A good man. Nothin’ like his Ma. Had his intended with him, time I met him. Pretty gal. You look like the way I remember her. Anyway, he were disappointed he couldn’t find his Ma, but we told him, we said, he oughta bid her good riddance and go on back home to Polynesia.”

“Hawaii. Why’s that?” Ulani asked.

“She were no good! Amelia were no damn good. Be glad you ain’t got none of her in you. I can tell. I can tell you got your grandma’s looks and I knows your grandpa’s good sense. I can see these things. Amelia were no good, and I’m sorry for you ’bout that. Time you leave her be.”

The old woman turned back to staring blankly out the windshield of the truck. Aaron and Ulani made their thank you’s to the driver, and the truck drove off.

Aaron started walking toward his own truck and Ulani followed. A stiff breeze pased through the field, making Ulani abruptly stop. For a brief instant of a single moment, she thought she heard a woman say her name.

Ghosts in the Fields…fini

From Whence You Came, Part IV

27 December, 1922

Dearest Amelia,

 Let me first start by saying “thank you” for your telegram! I was beside myself with worry when I had not received a Christmas Greeting nor letter from you. This holiday was almost totally without tidings of great joy, but for finally hearing from you.
It is so difficult to accept that our lives, my dearest cousin, are no longer in the same time, nor same place. I long for a letter, or any word from you! You must know how very excited I am for you, of course, out there in the world, and on such a grand adventure. I live vicariously through your travels! Please, please, do not forget your cousin and please keep sending me your letters!
I trust your new husband is well. Your description of Mr. Edward Holokai is transfixing! He seems very handsome and clever, the way you spoke of him in your previous letters. You must tell me what marriage is all about! It is your DUTY, as my nearest and dearest, to TELL ALL about your LIFE as a WIFE!
Life here in Severy is much the same as when you left. Papa and Uncle Earl complain about the state of the farm, the price of feed and seed, and the loss of so many farmhands to Kansas City, Chicago and St. Louis and God knows where else. I envy all of them. I envy you! All of you have made your own destiny and gone wherever you pleased. I promise not to carry on any further. You are most likely uninterested in all that you’ve left behind!
I won’t know where to post this letter until you send word of your whereabouts in the HAWAIIAN ISLANDS (just imagine that!)

Until the next time, your forever pal Mabel

2 March 1923

Dearest Amelia,

Pregnant!! Oh, you lovely, lucky darling! I’ve just finished reading your letter of 29 January and I am so full of envy for what must be such a state of BLISS! My fullest, hardiest congratulations, my clever girl! (and to Mr. Holokai, as well!)
You say that Honolulu is as modern a city as Wichita and Kansas City, but I wonder if you truly mean it, or if you are concerned that I will worry for your welfare if you do not tell me otherwise. Do you, truly, have the care of a doctor? Even old Dr. Wilkins would be better than some uneducated fellow from the jungle (if you can BARE the thought of being once again the care of old DW! PERISH the thought!) You must miss Aunt Bea so much at this time. I don’t know that I would want to go through pregnancy without my mother to guide me.
Oh, my darling friend, while I am overjoyed for all your good fortune, I am sad for myself, because this means you really are never coming home. I am afraid we have lost you forever, and all I will ever have of our friendship are letters and photos…of your CHILDREN (that’s plural, little missy!)
I look forward to more news from your Hawaiian islands.

Until then, your forever Mabel

13 May 1924

My Dearest Amelia,

I trust you received my telegram. “Thank You” for sending me the information where I can contact you in Seattle, WASH. 
I have so many questions! I am frantic with worry. Why must you leave Hawaii? Why are you not traveling with baby Gregson? You say he will stay with his father, but why? And, what is in Seattle? I did not even know where it was until I looked it up on a map! Lastly, why must I call you by your maiden name?
This letter will be posted to the address you gave me and will be there waiting for your arrival. Send word the INSTANT you read this. I will send money, whatever I have, or come to your aid. You know I will!

Until next we write or meet, your forever Mabel

P.S. – If you promise to behave yourself, I will introduce you to my darling Jared! I cannot wait to tell you all about him and share with you my happy news (very happy news!)

Inspired by OLWG prompt “Ghosts in the Field.” Scroll through my Home Page to get caught up with Parts I, II and III

From Whence You Came, Part III

The OLWG prompt “Ghosts in the field” inspired a short multi-part story. Get caught up with Part I and Part II

Ulani’s discovery of ancestry she did not know she had began a short time before her grandmother’s death. During Ulani’s grandmother’s final days, Ulani returned to Hawaii and, with other members of the family and friends, took turns sitting with the old woman in the hospital. She was in and out of consciousness, and in some pain, but there was nothing more the doctors could do for her.

One afternoon, when Ulani was with her, the old woman abruptly sat up in her bed. Her eyes were wide open, urgently searching about the room. When they landed on Ulani, the old woman smiled.

“Tutu? You OK? You need the nurse?” Ulani asked.

Ulani’s grandmother held out her hand and Ulani took it in hers. “No, my girl. No. Please. Come sit next to me,” Her grandmother said, patting the bed. “I’m so glad it’s you,” the old woman continued. “I have something to tell you. Something secret.”

Ulani raised her eyebrows and giggled. “Oh, Tutu, please don’t worry. Everything will be OK. We’ll all be fine. You just rest, now.” she teased.

“This is important, and, well, you, I can trust. Now come here,” she indicated once again to the side of the bed and Ulani sat beside her as instructed.

“I meant to keep our family’s secret, if only for your father’s sake. Take it to the grave with me. But, just now, I remembered the letters.” Ulani’s grandmother paused, and took both Ulani’s hands in hers. “He can’t find them. Your father. I’ll tell you where they are, and I want you to promise me, before I’m gone, you’ll get them out of the house. What you decide to do with them is up to you, but I wouldn’t share anything you learn from them with your father.”

Ulani mind jumped to a what she thought an obvious conclusion. “Tutu…are you trying to tell me, that…are you trying to tell me the letters are love letters? Are you trying to tell me Papa Gregson wasn’t daddy’s father?!”

“No, good Lord, no, girl,” Ulani’s grandmother shook her head with great exaggeration. “Nothing like that, at all. Your grandfather was my whole world.”

Ulani was relieved to hear it. “So, what’s the big secret? Why can’t daddy know?”

“You know your father. A very proud Hawaiian. It was bad enough, where he’s concerned, you marrying a haole. At least Arturo is Filipino, I told him. Anyway, you’ll understand. You are the one who will understand. I trust you, my girl. But some things are not for everyone to ever know. Promise?”

Next part sometime this week…

From Whence You Came, Part II

This week’s OLWG Prompt inspired a little multi-part short story. Catch up with Part I

“Bet it’s nothing like British Columbia,” Aaron said eventually.

“Nothing like it, for sure,” Ulani replied, putting emphasis on the last two words.

Aaron said, “I looked up pictures of Vancouver. Pretty.”

“Yeah, I think so. At least, the area. The Northwest. I love the Northwest. The city itself,” Ulani shrugged. “I liked Portland better.”

“You just haven’t given it enough time!” Aaron teased Ulani, wanting to be encouraging. “You think you guys will stay there?”

“For now. Until we can get my husband’s status ironed out. Hey, you know, I really appreciate this. You being so open and willing to show me around, and everything.” Ulani said, wanting to change the subject.

“Sure! It’s crazy to find out I have a distant cousin. Crazier to find out we got Hawaiian relatives!”

Ulani giggled. “Well, it’s been crazy to learn I have Irish roots, after all this time!”

“I tried explaining to my wife how we’re related,” Aaron continued, “but I think I got it wrong. Your great grandmother is my great grandmother’s…first cousin? Second?”

“No, you’ve got it right. They were first cousins. Their mothers were sisters. Very close. According to Tutu, uh, sorry, my grandmother, they grew up like sisters. Lived just a block apart.”

Until the day Aaron received Ulani’s letter, he had no idea his people were anything other than Midwesterners. As far as Aaron was aware, almost everyone in his family line were either from Kansas and Missouri, or from Texas. It was still strange to grasp that anyone from his family, however long ago, up and married someone from a completely different place in the world.

“Severy?” Aaron finally said. “Our great grandmothers grew up in Severy?


“Well, Severy is no Oahu. Or British Columbia. Or Oregon, for that matter.”

“I wouldn’t imagine so,” Ulani acknowledged. “But, the thing is, I’ve been thinking about this, you know, my family? My island ancestors? They also come from a long line of farmers.”

Part III, tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday. 😉

From Whence You Came

OLWG has just one prompt this week: Ghosts in the field. It’s inspired a little multi-part story.

Aaron stood by the entrance to Luggage Claim with a sign that read, “Ulani Aquino.” He cringed a little each time someone frowned after reading the sign. One woman deliberately rolled her suitcase over Aaron’s foot, giving him a slight shove as she passed. A man grumbled something as he walked by. Aaron didn’t have to hear the man’s words. He knew they were an insult.

When the first smiling face approached him, he knew it had to be his cousin. She was maybe 40, short, round, brown skin, with long dark hair she wore up in a clip, a pretty round face and bright amber eyes.


Aaron dropped the sign down to his side. “Yeah. Ulani?”

Ulani nodded and as Aaron went in for a hug, she stuck out her hand. They laughed and settled on a polite hug.

Once in Aaron’s car, he and Ulani made nervous small talk, about her flight, the weather, the traffic, how times have changed what Wichita used to look like, and polite questions about each other’s families, based on what they had learned about one another through emails and phone calls.

Once they’d cleared the city, their conversation ceased. As Ulani stared out her window at the passing scenery, Aaron wondered what it must be like to see a place like Kansas for the first time.

Part Two, tomorrow 

The Smithville High School Booster Club Marching Band

The OLWG prompts this week are: One of my favorites; What could go wrong?; Bandleader

untitled-1.pngI had to laugh when my friend told me Erin McMurray applied to be the Smithville High School Booster Club Marching Bandleader. Erin may have only been fifth chair clarinet in her Junior High School orchestra and last chair once she got to High School, but she doesn’t see why any of that matters. Nothing she does, or doesn’t do, or can’t do, which is more to the point, will make the band any more awful than it already is.

The Smithville High School Booster Club Marching Band isn’t a marching band so much as an excuse for a good time and to make a lot of noise. The members are a motley crew of goofballs from the drama club, a few alumni, kids that didn’t make cheerleader, drill team, or orchestra, and rock-n-roll wannabes whose only musical instruction is Guitar Hero. For the last thirty years, the school staff liaison is old Mr. Gleason, the Chemistry teacher. His claim to musical acumen is piano lessons at the age of three (not from the age of three, mind you, but at the age of three, which is approaching seven decades ago now). The kids with the kazoos are my favorites, primarily because they are the only ones with any rhythm or who can play in key.

The band plays at all the football games, of course, making happy fools of themselves, and, depending on how many members were passed over for cheerleader on any given year, taunting the cheer squad. They attend other school events, too. They “opened” one year at Prom and every so often a graduating class will invite them to usher them into the stadium for graduation ceremonies. They’ll show up at the swim meets and tennis matches, if you let them. One year, the band went to the school district’s debate club tournament, when Smithville High was the host school. They were shooed out of the commons hall by an irate judge, but not before they blasted Mrs. Weston’s sophomore team with their peculiar  rendition of Ragtime Cowboy Joe.

The be-and-end-all fun is watching the band “compete” in the the district-wide Marching Band Invitational. It is not to be missed. The other bands are really something else, so it’s a riot to see Smithville pretend they got game against bands that have been invited to play halftime at professional games, march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and in the Rose Parade. Smithville band’s only invitation has been to participate in the county’s Spring Fling Bacchanal Parade. Actually, only alumni members over the age of 21 get to go to the county Spring Fling. The “bacchanal” aspect of that parade is taken a bit too literally by many of the participants, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I don’t know whom Erin McMurray is up against for bandleader, but I think she’d be fantastic. She’s got bright pink hair and nothing to lose. Being such a tiny thing, they’ll have to put her on stilts in order to even see her, but I think a Smithville Marching Bandleader on stilts is a perfect addition to the crazy chaos. I look forward to seeing her strut her stuff!

Did not write this in the 25-minutes allowed. It was another one that had me stumped until I just started writing. Don’t think! Write!