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Short Stories

In the early days of MS

I started writing short stories for make-work

and to do something positive.

Many got reworked into bigger projects

but here are a few of the originals.

I have plenty and am still lifted up by them.

I'll change them around from time to time.

You may recognize some.

Have a chuckle on me.

Short Story Audio CD's

Some heartwarming
and humorous life story lessons.
Heres a sampler now.
The Velvateen Rabbit Goes to Mexico
The Velvateen Rabbit goes to Mexico
00:00 / 05:58

A
Slo-work
in progress

                                                       Quality Shoes (2011) 541 words  April 2017

 

How teachable life can sometimes be. Like my hundred and twenty US dollar shoes in Charcoal Creek, the highest price I ever paid for shoes. Hard evidence to the fact that sometimes the harder we try, the further off we are. As my Easy Spirit shoes from San Diego’s Fashion Valley can attest to.

     Always on the look-out for a bargain, and especially shoes to feed my fetish, I hit upon a pair in JC Penny’s in the States while on a mission. They were $120 US when the clerk saw my serious interest. She wandered over and offered me 50% off right there. 30% off right off the bat, then an additional 20% if I signed up for a credit card. Which I never do, but today I made an exception since the shoes fit all my needs. They were feather light, easy to get on, a comfortable good fit, and most important of all, they fit my brace in a stylish way. Besides I could write them off on income tax as an aid to my mobility issue. I started humming my friend Wayne’s favorite song, Quality Shoes by Mark Knoppler as I smiled at my good fortune.

     What the clerk failed to disclose was the 30% off was hidden behind a promo pull tab. An unknown pull tab. We must’ve ripped through a 12-inch stack before we came across a 30%er. Then we had to fill out all the paperwork for a credit card. Another 30 minutes. But the thought of half price kept me pleasant, kind and humming. When the statement arrived a month later, they dung me a $40 ‘set up fee’ because I was Canadian. Buggers. Knocked down a notch but not deterred, I was still happy and considered them still my “good shoes”. 

     Not long after, I had to get a new leg brace that only would work in those shoes. So as Murphy would have it, they became my ‘everything’ shoes overnight. Black in summer. Leather in winter. But oh well, they fit my brace and for the amount of winter walking I did, they looked half decent. 

     One brilliant April day, after being cooped up all winter, Brinkley and I took a drive through Turtle Valley to Falkland. We stopped for a pee break at Charcoal Creek, at a pull-out right on the side of the secondary highway.

As we drove the 50 feet in, we hit pay dirt. There was a quaint government park beside a crisp babbling brook, not to mention matching outhousees with two picnic tables. It was a picture-perfect setting and I really had to go. And Brinkley needed to stretch and have a drink.

     But I got more than I bargained for. Besides the babbling brook of an unlimited fresh water bowl, there were endless gopher holes, many live. My chances of a fast pit stop were dwindled. Pouncing on holes in no particular sequence, Brinkley’s tail flapped faster than my windshield wipers in a storm. I held out a milkbone but was lame in comparison. She just looked at me as if to say duh, and pounced on another hole. I chased her to and fro trying to catch her. From river to gopher-hole-land several times, dragging the bad leg through two inches of pine needles and giving my ankles a workout over round river rock. And the more I tried, the more annoyed I got and the more exuberant the game became – wiggling butt and wagging tongue. 

I finally surrendered on the bumper of my hatchback to wait it out. With nothing more to do than  gaze down at my dusty, scuffed, and scratched Quality Shoes wondering if they were still my good shoes. 

Having time to reminisce sitting on the tailgate, I concluded the shoes clearly illustrated want vs. need. I wanted those shoes. I didn’t necessarily need them. Even though they had some definite attributes. But the shoes weren’t the problem, I was. My attitude. The fever of ‘having to have them.’ It’s funny how I can justify anything. And when it turns out to be less than anticipated and disappointing, I look for blame. 

     If it hadn’t been for Brinkley playing with live gopher holes that day, I wouldn’t have stopped long enough to ponder my Quality Shoes. And wonder where else I may have careened off course in the name of a good deal. Putting wants ahead of needs and then justifying it all the way to the bank.

How teachable life can sometimes be. When the student is ready. 

     Thanks Brinkley.

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A Sharp Spoon    194 Words     Sept 2014

An early attempt at writing a scene: A Sharp Spoon

Mom and I were in the kitchen. She at the table, me by the sink.

“While you’re up will you get me a sharp spoon please”, she asked with all sincerity.

“I didn’t know we had sharp spoons”, I answered bordering smartass with student. Mom caught the humor but replied seriously.

         “Yeah this cantaloupe isn’t quite ripe. There’s one pointy spoon in the drawer. That one please.”

Examining all the teaspoons in the drawer was a first for me. Barely looking up from her newspaper, a broadsheet spread across the kitchen table, she exchanged eating instruments.

“Yeah that’s the one.” 

Hoovering close by, I broadly grinned waiting for her to dig in. Holding the bowl steady with the one hand, she easily wedged out a giant chunk of orange melon eyes not moving from the page.

Mom must’ve sensed me watching her and managed a smirk before she opened extra, extra wide.

 

We both giggled.

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The Mo's Mobile   2014    1493 words

“Oh pleeeeze God, not another winter on my bicycle”, I blurted out loud with hands clasped and knuckles white. I knew it wasn’t right to pray for things but this day I made an exception.

Prior to my bicycle days, I cruised through life in a propane converted hatchback my Uncle Al helped me buy. It was a decent car, kind of sporty, and a bit of a pick-me-up for just having come through a serious lengthy illness. Together with a new lovely flat, I felt I was getting my life back. Until I rear ended someone on the Alex Fraser bridge. Not only did I loose my safe drivers discount but was slapped with a whopping 20% surcharge, or $2,200 a year, for emphasis. I was 31 years old. I had no choice but to give up driving. Hence three years on my bike. Which included three winters. I suppose one can be considered lucky to be able to do a winter on a bicycle at all, but that's not exactly how it felt some days.

But it wasn't all bad. I covered many miles exploring the lower Mainland that I never would’ve done in a car. There were pockets of Greater Vancouver I thoroughly enjoyed: tugs on the river, sailboats in the bay, brambles along the border, migrations at the bird sanctuary, water at the watershed.  From shady downtown streets to wide open gravel roads, under bridges and over passes. From the grocery store to the college campus. I felt proud of myself for maintaining a satisfying life without a car. Making lemonade out of lemons. I didn't particularily enjoy riding in the winter– the wind, the rain, the wet - but it did teach me the fact that driving was indeed a privilege not a right.

By the time my fourth October rolled around, I was done. I covered 80 k a week to and from work all summer and did not want to pedal through another winter. 

 

Two weeks after my plea to God, I got a call from my dear old Aunt Jennie.

“Well, I'm getting rid of the old car,” she said. “I asked David if he wanted it and he said no, then I offered it to Heidi and she said no, so you're my third and final offer or else its going to the wrecker’s.”  Wow…

Having grown up with Aunt Jennie, I knew her family well. They took care of things. Including the car. They bought it brand new, a mid size 4 door box suitable for a family of 5 – a family that was now grown and long gone. It was probably their second car in life. I’m guessing the first one lasted 20 years as well. Although it was no screaming heck to look at, a Chevy Malibu Classic four-door sedan, basic beige inside and out, that looked like old ghost-style cop car. I’m sure that’s why David and Heidi refused it. But I knew it would be sound. So with a gusty “Thank you,” that was the beginning of The Mo’s Mobile. 

I had to customize it. Naming it was a good start. It reminded me of my first car way back. I had fun picking off the ½” chrome -r-c-h across the hood, going from Monarch to Mona. But something about the word Oldsmobile across the trunk of that car struck a happier chord. I always thought to order a couple more letters to rejig it to ‘Mo’s Mobile’ but never did get to it. The name always stuck with me though. So with that in mind, I ordered two decals in 4” black vinyl letters using a character font, and proudly christened the Chev’s hind quarters The Mo’s Mobile. Already it was feeling like mine.

Trinkets hanging from the rearview mirror came and went. Tropical freshies, Mardi Gras beads, and a crystal prism to name a few. My personal favorite was, as my cousin Blair called it, the “obstruction”, a giant strawberry sponge the size of a softball with no real function. It was just a big, and colorful. Which was just what the non-color background needed. My version of a spongy dice.

 

After a couple of months, the ceiling fabric began to sag. Another month went by and it began to rub your head like a balloon to stick. Being from a family of runts, it didn’t really bother me all that much but it really irritated my passengers. Which I found hilarious so didn’t rush to replace it. Plus it was an ugly job to do because there was a layer of foam insulation underneath the loose fabric that was disintegrating and sprinkled down like black gun powder. I knew it would be a mission to get rid completely, so kept putting it off. But the day finally came. 

I got the idea to go to the Superfluity Thrift Store for inspiration. I was thinking old curtain or something. But the most perfect 1970s bedspread with dark brown, tan, and pumpkin colored geometric shapes leapt out. My eyes lit up and it was sold. The lady took my two dollars and I happily skipped out of the store. 

On a bright morning, I layed out all the supplies for surgery. Glue, paint brush, scissors, exacto blade, drop sheet, rags. The old lining lifted out easily but the crumbling insulation snowed down coating everything in black baking soda. But I persevered looking at the funky bedspread on the doorstep. Getting it up against gravity wasn't exactly a fun job either. I smeared bottles of LePages glue on bare metal, then cut fabric to fit. It was a good exercise in body contortions. But the job got done and it looked terrific. 

Other bits of spunk and flair got added along the way and The Mo’s Mobile turned out to be one of the best cars I ever had – aestically and mechanically. I grew to love its basic beige. My aunt and I marvelled it hid the dirt so well you could go months without washing it and never know it. 

**

Six months after I got the car, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. The number of trips that car made to Campbell River and back is impressive. The number of ferry line ups, sailings and missed ferries is staggering. How often I’d stretch out across the bench seat gazing at the strawberry from the bottom up, or absently studying those 1970’s geometric shapes. How many times I threw my bike in the truck, and an overnight bag in the backseat.

As my mother continued to decline, the trips back and forth became more and more frequent. Sometimes with her and sometimes not. I remember one particular occasion when Mom and I were speedily racing down island to get to catch a ferry when we got pulled over. 

The cop got to the car and I rolled down the window waiting for instructions. In a louder than necessary tone, Mom made no bones expressing her concern about missing the ferry. The cop was either deaf or gracious as he asked for my drivers license and registration.

We scrambled for them, mom still muttering in disgust as I tried to hush her. 

He walked back to the cruiser and took seemingly hours to return.

Leaning back in the window, he noticed the ceiling. 

“Is this your car?” His comment quieted mom.

“Yeah” I said slightly smirking back. 

He really looked at and then nodded. 

“Nice.” 

After a further long pause, he told us to slow down, and have a good night. Mom and I let out our breath. We were thankful for the interior decorating gods and they did slow us down, enough to catch the next ferry. 

That whole year the The Mo’s Mobile purred like a cougar cat and never failed once. Mom passed in June and we had a full-scale celebration of life in Burnaby on a Friday. And the timing belt on the car went on Saturday. 

 

I guess we all were a little tired.

 

***

 

PS. That rear ender on the Alex Frazer and those three winters on my bike did something. Weather had become so insignificant compared to what was really important. 

Mom had exactly one year from diagnosis to passing and in the last weeks when homecare came to relieve me, I’d go for a bike ride. 

Rain or shine. Living completely in the moment, the breeze rushing through my hair and fluttering in my heart. Being so drenched with life itself, the weather couldn’t touch me.