Online Writers Guild #12: No, We’re Not

chickenvacationAre we there yet?

Are we where?

There! Are we there?!

I don’t know what you mean.

I’m asking, are we there?

Well, I suppose.

Then, why are we still driving? I want out.

OK, but then what?


Then what?

You said we’re there, so that’s what.

We’re no longer there.


We’re here, not there. There is back…there. Now we’re here. Oops, no, sorry, now we’re here instead of there. The other ‘there,’ which is also back there. With the other ‘there.’ Oh, and now, here’s a new ‘here!’ Aren’t road trips fun?

No, not really.

Aw, c’mon. This is fun! Why would you want to be there when there is so much here to see?

Why? Because I want to sleep. In a bed. I want to eat a meal. At a table. With utensils. I want to walk, not be transported in a vehicle. I want to stop moving. Stay put. I don’t want to be here. Here is not there. I want to be there. So, I’m asking: Are we there yet?

(I swear, kids these days)



You say something?

Forget about it.

Seriously, did you just say something?

Hey! Forget about it, OK?! Leave me alone!

Alright! Jeez!… All I was asking, was if … if we have yet arrived at our destination.

And all I’m saying is, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

OK, but does this journey include ever getting there? I’m hungry and I’m tired. And, I have to pee.

(sigh) Whatever.

This week’s OLWG prompts are: Are we there yet?; These kids today; Scram. And, guess what? I wrote it AND edited within the 25 minute rule!

Online Writers’ Guild #11: The Waiting Room

The waiting is the hardest part. Sitting. Sitting, not moving. Sitting for one minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes. Jeffery looks at the clock on the wall. Five minutes.

The flowers are all over the wall. They flutter and bend each time the oscillating fan on the side table blows air over their field, but the clock doesn’t do anything. Six minutes, seven minutes, eight minutes, nine minutes. Why doesn’t the clock move? Why?!


Jeffery catches it. This time. This is a good thing. The carpet is still. Good. This a good thing. Carpets are still. He catches it this time. This is a good thing.

He carefully raises his glance to face whatever is across the room. Feet. A woman’s feet. Now a child’s feet. Now the child’s feet are gone. Now they’re back. Jeffery cautiously moves his eyes to the left. A man’s feet and then the same child’s feet. The child’s feet go up, one at a time. They don’t come back. Jeffery slowly, very slowly, raises his glance. Knees. The man’s knees. The woman’s knees. Now whole legs. The man’s. The woman’s. And the child’s. On the man’s legs. The child’s chest. The man’s chest. The woman’s chest. Her chest. Her chest. The child’s face. The child’s face looking at Jeffery’s face.

Behind the child’s face the flowers flutter and bend left. Then still. Flutter and bend right; flutter and bend left. Then still. The child’s face is pink. Now purple. Now green, with each sweep of the fan. The child’s eyes are pure black. The child’s hands are growing toward Jeffery, long green fingers growing, growing, changing color to pink, purple, black, green, with each sweep of the fan. The flowers flutter and bend left over the child’s orange face. Then still. Flutter and bend, and twist around the fingers, growing and growing, faster and faster…


A woman’s voice. Calm. Insistent. Her hands on top of Jeffery’s shoulders. Jeffery forces his eyes open. A placid, smiling face of a woman with her hands on Jeffery’s shoulders. She pushes on Jeffery’s shoulders, forcing his knees to bend. She bends her knees as well. Throat. Shoulders. Chest. They sit. Chest. Hello, my name is…Dr. Brenda Chatsworth. Red letters. Black letters. Not moving. This is a good thing.

“It’s OK, Jeffery. Here.”

Her hand. Not green. This is a good thing.  A white paper cup. Clear liquid. Fingers, not growing, this is a good thing, and a pill. This a good thing.

“You’re Dr. Chatsworth,” Jeffery says staring at her name tag.

“Yes. You can call me Brenda.”

“You are not Dr. Anderson.”

“No. That’s right. I’m not.”

This week’s OLWG prompts are:  Wait for it!; Can I call you Brenda?; It will tarnish

OLWG #10: “C” is for Cancel…

…as in, “Cancel that Cancer. All Clear.”

good news

TNKerr, the author of AOOGA-The Unofficial Online Writer’s Guild, as well as his own blog site, announced he received the good news that the year of treatment, positive thinking, listening to what his doctors, nurses, therapists, wife, children, friends and family told him to do, along with all the rest that goes into “battling cancer,” worked. He is fully on the mend.

Many of us are enduring cancer, either as a patient, or as someone providing additional care and moral support for another undergoing treatment. So, the news that someone made it through is uplifting.

The time was the prognosis was almost certainly fatal. As a child, I remember the overwhelming feeling of shock and sadness when we learned that a member of the family or someone we knew had been diagnosed. These days, the initial shock and sadness remains, but it’s followed by what would have previously thought unbelievable: A sense of hope, that, however awful, however trying the months ahead will prove to be, full recovery might just be possible.

I have to hold to this hope because so many in my life are, or have received cancer treatment. The most recent is my manager’s husband. His condition is such that she must take family leave. There are three other cancer diagnosis scenarios at my workplace in the past two years. A few years ago one of my sisters underwent a long 18-month ordeal with throat cancer. One of my brothers-in-law has undergone treatment for four separate diagnoses over the past decade, and currently is undergoing what can only be described as treatment for a cancer so aggressive, he must be routinely scanned and treated throughout each year of his life. He says all he can do is live life one treatment at a time. An old acquaintance has survived two bouts of leukemia and feels much the same way: Live life one day at a time/one treatment at a time and always hope for the best.

Of course, there are the losses, which is why we feel such dread when we learn of a diagnosis. A grandmother and an uncle were the ones to introduce me to the terrifying world of cancer, followed just a few years later by a brother. Cancer was thought of as something that happened to older people and chain smokers, not young men in their prime. Since my childhood, I can count on both hands the family, friends and others with whom my life has crossed paths who have succumbed to cancer.

I always dream of a time when disease of any sort can be, at best, eradicated, or at least, managed. I mean, who doesn’t dream of that outcome? Who doesn’t aspire to live life as best we can with a simple chronic condition, rather than a painful and debilitating disease, and with the hope that, when the time comes, we pass quickly and quietly in our sleep? Or die laughing, as my other grandmother did (Truly. While playing Pinochle with friends. Someone told a joke that really hit her funny bone. She let out a huge laugh and collapsed face down on the table of a massive stroke. Never knew what hit her).

Now, if you’ve read through the post to the end, you may wonder why I bolded a couple of words. The highlighted words are this week’s OLWG writing prompts: Unbelievable; Well, my wife told me…; I’ve dreamt that before.

Three cheers for my blogging buddy, tnkerr! I expect your celebrations involve something to do with NM, hockey, disc golf, drawing, family, friends, and, of course, writing!

OK redhead

(Looks nothin’ like me, btw…)

OLWG #9: One Ra’s Family

This week’s Online Writer’s Guild prompts are: Come hither; He had a really hard time shaving today; Ra, the sun god

It was a perfect morning. The sun held back the cowering rain clouds to the tops of the foothills by the sheer force of its brilliant radiance. Ray couldn’t wait to get to work.

He woke his teenage son, Stu. “Come on, buddy. Let’s go. Up, up!” He clapped. “Let’s go!”

The boy groaned and slowly sat up, rubbing his face. Ray called again from the hall as he headed downstairs. “Now Stu!”

“I’m UP!” Stu growled.

Both men skipped showering. Ray made them a quick cheese sandwich for breakfast, and rushed out the back door. On his way to his truck he called for his Border Collie, who came running at full speed from his doghouse. In a single long leap, the dog jumped in the cab and took up his spot in the truck, happily panting, also eager to get to work. Ray’s young daughters came running out of the house, followed by their sullen older brother.

“Can we go with you today? Please? Please?” asked Tiffany. She bounced on the balls of her feet, making the best imploring, sad face she could. “You said we could!”

“Not today, honey.”

“DAD!” yelled Basha, “You promised. Not fair!” She crossed her arms and stamped her foot, also doing her best with the sad face bit.

“Not today. I didn’t say you could come along today. I said sometime it’d be OK, but today is going to be a very long day. It’s the height of the season, kiddos. We are going to be working nonstop, probably past dinner. That’s too long for you guys to come along. You’ll get bored and I can’t leave just to drive you guys home.”

A cacophony of protests broke out from all three children. “Stu can drive us home!” “Dad! I’m going to the Mariner’s game with Harley’s family tonight! You didn’t say I’d be there all day!” “Mom’ll come get us!” “If Mom comes gets them, can I go back with them too?”

“Mom will do nothing of the sort,” Ray’s wife Heather said as she walked up to the truck. The children stopped yammering, knowing further argument was pointless. Heather handed Ray a paper grocery bag through the window, which he placed on the seat next to him. The dog and Stu peered inside.

“Just leftovers, sodas, a couple apples. Also treats for the dog,” Heather said. Ray leaned over to give her a kiss, but she playfully recoiled. “Not with those whiskers! Yikes.”

“Come on, girls,” she continued. “Another time.” The girls fussed and whined about promises made. “Ray, Stu does have plans tonight. Harley’s family can pick him up at the winery,” Heather suggested.

“Tell you what,” Ray said to his daughters as he started the engine. “I’ll bring the falcons home tonight and tomorrow morning we can work with them a little bit before Stu and I have to get back to the winery, OK?”

Tiffany and Basha jumped up and down, clapping and cheering.

“For just a little while, though, OK? Right?” The girls nodded. “It’s my busy time of year and we can’t tire out the birds. But I promise.”

(The Sun God Ra is typically pictured wearing a Falcon headpiece, which reminded me of an article I read some time ago about vintners hiring falconers to rid their vineyards of starlings. Ra had several children, three of whom are Shu, Tefnut and Bast. One of his wives/consorts is Hathor. Hence the play on names—and yes, I took time to look all this up. Suffice it to say this took longer than 25 minutes!)

OLWG #8: Dating Advise (not)

This week’s Online Writer’s Guild prompts are: Selective, Bipolar, Alliteration. The additional instruction is to use all three. Not sure I got ‘alliteration’ right, but here goes:

two guys“You could say, I’m selectively bipolar.”

Bates frowned. “I have no idea what that is, ‘selectively bipolar’”

“Well,” Cahill replied, “it’s a little complicated to explain. Easily. I can explain it, just not easily.”

“Because you’re making it up.”

“No, I am bipolar. When I want to be.”

“Why would anyone choose to be bipolar? I mean, how does anyone select to be bipolar?”

“It has its uses.”

“Like, when?”

“Like, when it’s useful to be, you know, unpredicable. To appear to be unstable.”

“Gets you a lot of dates, this choosing to be bipolar thing?”

“There are many women who are caretakers by nature.”

“And taking care of a man who chooses to be, what did you say, ‘unpredicable’ is attractive?”

“Hey, there’s no accounting.”

“No, there’s no accounting. Seriously? I call that just being a plain ol’ regular asshole.”

Bates shrugged. “You deal with life your way, I deal with it my way.”

Me ‘n Gert

I couldn’t resist. A story gets left open-ended like that, I simply cannot just walk away. I’ll put my mind to this week’s Online Writers’ Guild prompts later, but in the meantime, here’s how I think tnkerr’s little preamble ditty concludes:

me n gert

Me and Gert the day we got married.

That was 45 years ago. That freckle-faced red-head and her munchkin in the back seat became my wife and son about a month later. I changed my name to Chispa Flores. Gert insisted I change my name. Time came we all went by Flores. As the boy grew, he wanted to go by “Will.” Even Gert had to admit times change, but to her, he’d always be Wildfish.

Gert and Will hung around Santa Cruz for the most part, and I kept traveling the roads and rails, working odd jobs when work was to be found. I made a point to always circle back to Santa Cruz, staying for as long as I could, but when Gert got pregnant with the twins, Taiyang and Chunji (Gert took up Eastern philosophy and medicine by then), I gave up my wandering ways. We moved into a place near Salinas, an old homestead we found one day on a hike. The land belonged to a generations-old farming family. We convinced them to rent the place to us and let us fix it up.  Gert opened a Yoga studio in town and went to school to become an acupuncturist. We plopped all the kids in school—which was a big change for ol’ Will, but he managed—and I went to work as a conductor for Amtrak. Every summer we held a whiskey barrel tapping party for our friends. Sent everyone home with jars of the stuff. Some men’s wives make pies and cakes, but my Gert’s always had a knack for makin’ booze. She eventually sold the Yoga studio and joined friends in on a small winery, but she kept on with the acupuncture. She loves making people healthy. We had one more kid, named him Bob, after my father. Good guy, my dad. Lived with us the last two years his life. Glad we got that time with him.

Tomorrow’s my last day at Amtrak. Bob’s off to college, if you can believe that, and the other kids’ are scattered all over the world. Will’s in Panama (we think, hard to know with him sometimes), Taiyang’s married, expecting our first grandkid, and loves living in Ketchikan, and Chunji sends emails almost every day about Beijing. She said folks there get a kick out her name. She’s loving teaching English and Spanish.

Anyway, Gert and I figure, with the kids grown and gone, we’ll sublet the old homestead and get a mobile home and head out on the road trip we started 45 years ago but never finished. Plan is to head up to Alaska to meet the grandkid and then maybe drive across Canada. I’ve always wanted to see Nova Scotia. Beyond that, who knows.

Maybe I’ll publish a book with all those stories about all those people I met along the way. My kids’ are always reminding  me I’ve always liked to write.

OLWG #7 – Song of Daniel

The rain was coming down in buckets; large drops splashing nearly a foot high as they fell. Daniel sat in the corner of a neighborhood pub with a finished pint of beer in front of him, idly scrolling through apps on his phone.

“Another?” the bartender called out from behind the bar.

Daniel looked up and pointed to himself. The bartender nodded. Daniel shook his head and went back to his phone. The bartender pulled another pint anyway. Daniel sighed and muttered to himself, “Even the bartender doesn’t give a shit what I say.”

The bartender set the beer in front of Daniel. “I’ll order you a burger, or something. When’s the last time you ate?” he asked.

Incredulous, Daniel snapped, “I’ve ate.”

“Yeah, right. I’ll order you a burger.”

Daniel picked up the pint and took two big gulps. After a long month of feeling about as blue and numb as he could remember, the chill of the glass in his hand and the warmth of the alcohol down his throat was a welcome sensation. He took another gulp and then resumed picking his way through various web sites on his phone. He wasn’t looking for anything, nor reading anything. Just passing time.

The burger arrived surrounded by a stack of onion rings and a heaping mess of salad. A giant steak knife was stabbed through the middle of the bun.

“I also got you a salad. We need to be smarter about eating balanced meals,” the bartender explained.

As the smell of grilled beef hit his nose, Daniel realized how hungry he was. He devoured the monster sandwich in a matter of seconds, not bothering to cut it in half, as the presentation with a giant steak knife suggested. He shoved the onion rings in his mouth just as fast, pausing only to take bites of the salad and gulps of beer. When he was done, he pushed the demolished plate away from him and sat back. Closing his eyes, he could hear the rain drumming on the roof. So calm, so peaceful. Maybe he’d just sleep here a bit.

“Tell you what,” the bartender said, interrupting Daniels reverie. “I’m the owner of this place, and I know a guy down on his luck when I see him. Tell you what: How ‘bout you come work for me.”

Daniel was taken aback. “I…don’t…”

“Look, I noticed you’ been in a lot these past weeks. You aren’t working, at least, not at a regular job. Your girl, or boyfriend,” the bartender held up a hand, “I’m not judging, just sayin’ I bet you’ve been through a breakup as well.”

“Something like that,” Daniel confessed.

“Occupational hazard,” the bartender smiled. “It may be a cliché, but it’s also a fact. Run a pub and you learn to read people real fast, and what I read about you is that you are a good guy down on his luck. And I can use the help, else I wouldn’t be tending bar, waiting tables, as well as running the joint.”

“I don’t know…” Daniel began.

“Ever tended bar? Wait tables?”

“Sort of. In high school. I worked at a Baskin Robbins.”

“Good enough.”

A group of three people walked in. The bartender excused himself to wait on them and then came back to talk to Daniel, who was now up and putting on his coat. He handed the bartender wad of cash for his bill.

The bartender counted the cash and handed back a ten. “I’m Jack. Jack O’Connell,”

“Ah. Jack at Arms,” Daniel nodded, shaking the man’s hand. Hence, the name of the pub, he thought. “I’m Daniel. Shapiro. You made the wrong change,” handing back the ten.

Jack shook him off. “Keep it.”

“Look, Jack, I appreciate whatever it is you’re doing man, and the job offer, but I don’t know about it, I…”

“No worries. Just think about it. Gimme a call later today,” Jack walked to the register and handed Daniel a business card.

“What I was going to say is, I do work. I mean, I have a job. But, here’s the thing: I work from home. Freelance, so sometimes I’m stretching it to make bills…I mean, what I’m saying is, I’ll think about it.” Daniel shook Jack’s hand again and headed out into the rain.

There are worse things than working in a pub, Daniel thought has he made his way to his car. Having a reliable, regular source of income, no matter how small, would help. Maybe this was the sort of change he needed to put the misery of the past month behind him.

This week’s OLWG is a continuation of last week’s story. The prompts are: Rain drumming on the roof; I don’t know about this,; Snickersnee. I absolutely did not write and edit this in only 25 minutes (tee-hee). I enjoyed writing this too much to limit my time. In case you want to catch up, the Susan and Daniel story started here and then went on here, then back to here.