Sunday, December 31, 2017

Moonshadow (Blogophilia 44.10)

Funny thing about Google searches. You start down one path and you find yourself in a world you never expected. Seems as though Turtle Boy may have been on to something. In the last several months, several writers had disappeared, one after another. One of the more puzzling was a guy named Dave, writing dispatches from the Snowy Badlands. Most people found his folksy humor endearing and his audience looked forward to his stuff every week.
One day, Dave’s empty Stetson was found on the grounds of the Arboretum outside St. Paul, with no indications on where he went. No witnesses or evidence was left behind. His car was still at his residence along with all of his belongings. A missing person’s report went into the round file, since he was (supposedly) an adult and there was no indication of foul play. A rumor he was feeding loons in Lake Woebegone circulated, but no one really believed that. Nothing had come up until I stumbled on a cryptic message from the Northwoods indicating the Aurora was involved. The date was the same as when Trevor’s sheep vanished. I needed confirmation.
I dug through my notes for T.B.’s contact. Picking it up on the first ring, he agreed to meet me in a seedy bar on the west side. One of those places where you do what you don’t confess. It took a minute to pick him out of the smoke, seated at a table with his back to the wall, Michaelagelo shirt this time. In front of him was a Blue Moon pizza. That puzzled me. That shop was clear across town. The barmaid looked at us like she was going to throw us out, but I ordered a couple of Third Coast ales and wings. She went away.
The place was so loud it was hard to keep up with T.B.’s patter. But the gist of what he said was a space ship was involved in all the disappearances, including the one at the Mystic Joleene’s.
Funny, He’d never give me a chance to tell him about that. I wonder.
But before I could ask, a cute girl in a black dress pulls me up off my chair for Karaoke. As we approach the stage, I try to tell her I sing like a frog. But her patchouli perfume overwhelms my senses. All I can think about is what is under the dress.
Never say never, I guess.
The song started. “Long Cool Woman”. That was fitting. As I croaked the words, a short dude comes waddling into the bar, wearing a leather jacket with a wool fleece collar. Something was very familiar about him.
Sirens started sounding in the background.
I knew I was in trouble.

Pic Guesses: Waddling (in blog) Happy Feet, Formal, Ping-u-win, Emperor, Snow Slide, Too Cold, Ice Capades,

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Late Night (Blogophilia 43.10)

"Hey, Heidy and Howdy. It's Harry Handy, your randy dandy late night DJ here on WOFT, old fart's radio, 101.1 on your internet dial. A big shout out to tonight's sponsor, the domestic litigation firm of Slappey and Sadd. If he gets slappy, we'll make him sad...and on that note, more sappy holday tunes..."
I clicked off the radio. Can't Christmas be over already? Every song played is super fast tempo, even "Jingle Bells." Like the stores want you to move faster, buy faster and think less. Yeah. Think less sounds about right. The older I grow, the wiser Ebeneezer sounds.
Shoot, even Santa's downsized to one Reindeer and he's an undocumented Caribou chased out by the oil fields.
How long have I been staring at this screen? 1:45 AM? Facebook is such a time suck. I never did get to those searches on Turtle Boy. But it was fun to find the ex's page. Looks pretty much like I expected her to, kind of pudgy and sad. Just as paranoid as ever, though. I'm surprised she even agreed to put up a profile picture.
And that couple saying how they were retiring to the Northwoods? Man, would you go already? I realize where you live isn't the most hospitable place and you have to sell your practice. But you've been touting that line for five years. It's time to fish or cut bait.
What's this? Someone posted a bottle tree. Kind of cute. After dealing with the psycho Psychic and Grim, I could contribute a few Holiday Cheer ornaments. Speaking of which.
{Opens a beer and takes a slug}
Anyway, I need to get at this project or the Roast Beast will be mutton, which would make Whoville sad. And the mailman's fe-mails won't be his to deliver.
That's creepy. Here's a recipe for crown rack of lamb.
Facebook is reading my thoughts.
Is the world crazy, or is it just me?
Merry Christmas, Martien Ecrits
1st writer prompt-Use a recurring character-Harry Handy
2nd writer prompt-Grinch Who Stole Christmas-Roast Beast, Whoville
1st picture submitted by Colleen Keller Breuning
2nd picture submitted by Doris Emmett
1st picture guesses-1) Bottle Tree (in blog), Holiday cheer (in blog), Wassail, Merry Gentlemen
2nd picture guesses-Santa Downsized (in blog), Undocumented (in blog), Caribou (in blog), Economy size,

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gripes of Wrath (Blogophilia 42.10)

All I could was shake my head as I drove out of the parking lot. That was the craziest circus I had ever seen. Was Grim insane? The meeting really wasn't going well, but still. Makes me wonder if he isn't the Terror
I had to admit the carny show was top notch. The disappearing globe was good enough to fool Penn and Teller. So, where did the Mary's and their lambs go? Gypsy Joleene is in on it, for sure. But, How? And more importantaly, why?
Let me think... Six months the email came. Some nitwit wanting to tell about writers disappearing. One with nationwide significance. It sounded kind of fishy and I was about to blow him off, when the boss said they needed something for Sweeps Week. I decided I'd go ahead and hear him out. Didn't know where it would lead, but all I had was time to waste. And I'm not one to turn down a free lunch.
We met at one those weird Asian places out on the Four Lane- something Hot Pot. He showed up dressed as Michaelangelo and wore a Rafael t-shirt-the Ninja Turtles, not the artists. It was a little over the top, but I had seen worse. Take the interview with Domo Kun Cosplayer at the Anime Fest, I couldn't understand a word through all that felt. Some people love their 'toons.
After we were seated, He suggested the Terrapin soup. The menu was in Chinese, so just too the lead. It wasn't like anything I'd ever had, that's for sure. The bowl seemed to be as big as the table and it was half filled with a thin broth with little flecks of dark green meat. Could have been Martian for all I knew. But the flavor...not really spicy, but it left a burning sensation down the back of my throat. I was thankful for the cold beer that came with it.
Anyway, Turtle Guy was hunting for someone who had disappeared in Florida. A friend that owed him money. So, why come to a two bit features reporter? It wasn't like some massive exposé involving the Governor, but a missing dead beat with no assets. He kept going on and on about the missing guy, evil turtles, and other nonsense. It was one of those interviews. I questioned his sanity and mine. Without missing a beat, the joint is lit in front of God and everybody. He offered it to me.
Looking nervously toward the door, I shook my head.
"This isn't a moonlight ride."
The smoke hit his throat wrong. After a full minute of coughing, he weakly replied.
"Let me get to the point." He said, dabbing his spit covered lips with a stained napkin. "You don't know how it feels. This Gypsy Lady took his money and mine, too."
I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. I never had any use for "Psychics" after that incident in college. Lucky the cop believed me rather than her, or I would have been expelled. But it did make finish the Journalism degree, so I guess I can't complain. Something I learned since then is all of those "New Age" types have a schtick; a scripted act designed to divert and distract. Every one of the scams has a kryptonite factor. The key was to find it and the truth would bust out like a butterfly from her chrysallis.
The pungent smoke was burning my eyes. I excused myself.
"I got to head on down the road." I said. "There's somewhere I've got to go."
I turned out on to the Four Lane to head back to the station. I looked up and realized I was passing the restaurant. Those poor lambs were in deep trouble.

Maybe I'll get lucky with Googling.

Dang. Posted this without the guesses. Must not have had enough coffee.
Pic guesses-Domo Kun (in blog), Monster, Gossamer, Scream, Anime (in blog), Japanese, My Boss.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gingerhead Man

The light was a blur around the edges of the darkness. Growing brighter it became stabbing pain in Jerry’s eye. Lifiting his head, he unsuccessfully tried to shake off the buzz.

“Jesus. Where am I?” 

He looked around. It looked like a bakery freezer. Blank boxes stacked here and there. A few package wrappers discarded on the floor. Jerry rolled over and realized his legs had been bound to a table. But who ever left him here kept his hands free. Strange.

The room was colder than his ex-wife's shoulder. Jerry pulled his parka tighter against him, trying to warm up. At least there was a thermos of coffee on the table, if he could reach it. He struggled to his knees and grabbed it. He took a long sip. It was cold, but did take a bit of the thirst off. Now, if he could beat this hangover.

He was still trying to figure out how he got here. A message had arrived on the secured account assigning him to a project. It was vague on details, but they all were. Go to a Russian nightclub in Brighton.Beach and wait for a drop. Not unusual. The most secret missions were done in the most public places and no one was any wiser. The drop would direct him to second location for the actual instructions. He didn’t give it any more thought. He  put on his parka and headed for Journal Square. The holiday decorations blinked and flashed, but he didn't notice. He never understood Christmas. Just a waste of time and money. 

It would take a while to get to Brooklyn from Jersey City. Time to plan his time. Always an advantage during one of these things. He always took public transportation to a meet. It was much harder to track, since everything was in cash.

As he was waiting on the platform, he noticed an older, obese Hasidic man a short distance away. The face was lined with a wild white untrimmed beard,a perverse clown in his hat and long coat. It appeared he was reading from some Hebrew document, but at the same time Jerry thought he might be looking at him. He shook it off. “Been doing this too long,” Jerry thought.

At Penn Station, he transferred to the line out to Brooklyn. As he was boarding the subway, he saw the old man on the platform with his newspaper. Jerry was freaking out. Had he been made? He didn’t know what the assignment was yet, but his instincts said he was doomed. He decided to ride the strap, in case he needed to make a move. Jerry started looking at his Post, his eyes shifting above the page to survey the car. If the old guy had boarded this train, it was on another car. Jerry began to relax and ponder his next move. At that was the last thing he remembered.

Jerry guessed it was a tranq dart. That was why he was so fuzzy. As he sipped the coffee, he noticed he was not alone. There were a group of red headed men on the other side of the room. They were bound at the ankles, just like he was. That was interesting. Jerry was also a redhead. Maybe there was a connection? His head was throbbing. All he knew, really, was he was cold, hurting and needed to get out of this place.

Jerry coughed and one of men shouted “Welcome.”

Jerry didn’t quite know what to say. 

The man continued: “You are in an old Keebler plant in Astoria. It has been converted a private bakery. Have you met the Geezer, yet? He’s the proprietor. I know you have seen him. The guy in the long coat and beard? He’s the one that brought you here. It is all part of some secret plot the Geezer thought up. We swear we have seen him somewhere before, but none of can place him. By the way, the name is Wayne.”


“I’d shake hands, but I’m tied up at the moment.“ Wayne suppressed a chuckle. “Anyway, the plot involves some form of special gingerbread cookies for the troops. I’m not sure if we are the delivery boys or the bakers. He won’t tell us. We have all been here a couple of days, we think. Geezer brings us food every now and then and leaves. Kind of weird if you ask me.”

There was a noise from behind Jerry. He turned around and saw the Hasidic Man. Only he was out of the long coat and in some form of thermal underwear. He eyed Jerry carefully. Once he was satisfied with what he saw, he spoke. “Good Evening, Jerry. I am the one who summoned you. My name is Ande Klauss. We have plans for you.” And he left.

Jerry looked at the closed door and wondered, what was it about him? Like Wayne had said, he was so familiar. He began to feel dread. Then it hit him. Ande Klauss? The Hasidic man was Anti Claus, Santa’s evil twin. What was he planning? He looked up and saw Wayne being pulled towards a door. The tables they were tied to were part of a production line. What was on the other side? Jerry didn’t want to find out. 

He noticed the coffee cup had a sharp edge. He quickly cut the rope around his legs. He bounded across the room and cut Wayne’s rope and some of the others. He could hear screaming from inside the door. He busted through and found a long table of human size cupcakes, shaped like heads and topped with red hair. Anti Clause was standing behind the table in his funeral suit welcoming the intruders.

“Merry Christmas, Jerry! Have a Gingerhead Man”

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dirty Laundry (Blogophilia 41.10)

All these screens were just boring. Image after image of size 2, enhanced cleavage and L'Oreal LB01. These girls either use the same stylist or they have zero imagination. I guess what they say about the entertainment industry is true. It is the most conformist place out there. Damn, they even dress alike. Evening news or talk show, every one toes the line on the look, super thin and super shiny.
The sets have a corporate look to them. Disgusted, I click off the video and pour another cup of mud.
It didn't used to be that way.
The Sixties had the California Sunshine, Dacron suits, and long hair. The Seventies were more earth tone, but you could tell Merv from Mike from Dick and Tom. There was variety. Now it is just a homogenized mass with one man, two flavor of the month women and a set from anywhere. A mono-cultured orchard giving tasteless fruit.
Outside the window, a Crab apple tree is blooming way too early. Shoot, it still the end of February and half the flowers are already gone. Maybe the Climate changers are right. So much has changed in thirty years since he started in this business.
In the old days, the beats were pretty defined. Police and crime, local government, features. They all had their pluses and minuses. But one thing was true; in all the chaos, there was a cosmos. And in all the disorder, a secret order. Take politics, for instance. All you had to do was follow the money for the story, good or bad. I had a liberal friend think that if he seized control of the treasury, their could be no more money for war. I half way believed that myself at one point. But naivité goes away after the second or third betrayal.
But at least the features desk was interesting. It wasn't every day you could traipse around town asking about missing sheep and their witless owner. You just had to be careful to present it in a non-demeaning way. Take the line about the spooky green mist. That could be taken a couple of different ways. But Trevor, the owner, didn't deserve to look like an idiot. You want the audience on his side.
And that was the truth behind the danger. The distraction effect for the general public was like early blossoms. People want to be happy. If Flopsie, Mopsie and Buttercup make it home un-sheared and un-butchered, then the public will forget about the latest slaughter of innoncents from wherever.
I take another slug from the coffee cup.
So, what is the next assignment? What? A follow up on the lost sheep? Who do they think I am?
I shouldn't even think that. I'm just as flawed as those nitwits in D.C.
Eh. I'll get free coffee out of it. And I can add a little on that expose of the Psychic lady. She's a real piece of work. Where’s my jacket?
Topic (The Truth Behind the Danger)-Tyler Myrth
Pic Guesses-Early Blossom (in blog), too early (in blog), Cherry and Apple, spring, New life, old wood, crab apple (in blog), impression, dream.