Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I never met a list I liked

The despised list was on the kitchen counter.  Man, how he hated her and these lists! He looked to see what the hell she was getting now.

At first he doubted what he was seeing. He started to reread it when she snatched it out his hand.

“Hey, I was looking at that,” he said.

“No need for you to see it! “she snapped,” it’s just my grocery list.” She stopped and started to hand it back to him. “Unless,” she smiled, “you want to get groceries.”

“Yeah, right,” he snorted. Pointing at the list he asked, “Why do you have rat poison on it?”

She looked at him as if he was crazy. “If you would go down in the basement once in a while, you’d notice all the signs. They’re starting to take over the place.”  She gave him a disgusted look. “You haven’t cleaned that basement for weeks.”

He looked shocked. “What do you mean?! I threw away all those old golf clubs, even if I REALLY didn’t want to.”

“True,” she answered, “but did you clean out some of that other junk?”

He huffed. “Some of those are antiques?”

“No,” she said as she walked out the door, “just stuff you’re afraid to throw away since you MIGHT use them again”

“Yeah, right,” he said to himself as he got a beer out of the fridge.

That night at dinner he said, “You’re right, there may be mice down there.”

“Did you put any of that poison I bought on them?”

“You need more potent poison, “he grumbled, “You don’t want the critters holding on to die in the walls.”

She sighed and shook her head. ”I’ll be sure to get some today.”

Her lists were driving him insane.  She was always doing them, and she seemed compelled to do everything on them as soon as possible. She couldn’t do anything without them. At least she didn’t use sticky notes; they’d be all over the place. He thought that it may not be a bad idea; he wouldn’t have to paint the walls anymore; but no, she kept her lists in the top drawer in the kitchen.  She never threw any away---she had a scrapbook that she would put the overflow in.

One day he asked her. “Why do you do that? That’s beyond weird.”

She gave him a dirty look. “I wouldn’t talk about being weird if I were you.” She looked back at the book. “This is all I need. Every list has a date on it, and the time I began and the time I finished. All I have to do is look at one and know what happened that day.”

He shook his head. “Whatever floats your boat,” and walked away.

At dinner a few days later, she was making another list while they were eating dinner.

“Come on, can’t you give it a rest? At least while we’re eating...Geez!”

She smiled at him. “Ok, I will. She finished what she was writing and put down the pencil. “Sorry ‘bout that. I just wanted to get this down before I forgot.”

He glimpsed at the list. Picking it up, he asked “What’s this one for?”

“A list of those coming to the family reunion,” she said, reaching for the list.
He held on to it. “Don’t invite Aunt Emilie. She laughs with her mouth full.” He shuddered. “It makes me sick to see it.”

“I can’t do that. She’s family, no matter how bad her manners are,” she grimaced. “Now give me that back.”

He started to hand it over, when something struck him.  He checked the list again. “How come my name’s not on it, and who’s this Paul Cheroot?”

“Oh, it’s the butcher down at the market. He always gives me the best cuts, and he arranged to get this good beef at a reduced cost. He’ll even cut it up.” She grinned, “I think he’s sweet on me.”

He grinned. “You, know, I used to work in a butcher shop.”

She grimaced. “Yes, I’ve heard that story before; and how you especially enjoyed beating the sides of beef. Made you feel like Rocky.”

“Those were good days,” he sighed.

“Until the boss fired you for breaking all the ribs,” she said.

He gave her the list. “You didn’t say why I’m not on the list.”

She smiled as she took it back. “Of course you are, dummy. You know you’re going to be there.”

The reunion was a great success, and more people showed up than were not on her list. That was ok; there was more than enough rib steak and other goodies to go around.
Aunt Emile walked up to him. He tried not to look at her already stuffed mouth.

“Great affair!” She said, surprised he could make it out, or she managed to get it down. “Where’s your wife? I wanted to thank her personally about the spread.” She stopped for a moment—she had to swallow.

“She’s around her somewhere,” he grinned. “She was on the list.”

She suddenly looked at him with wide eyes. “Did you hear what happened to Paul Cheroot?”

He shook his head slowly. “Too bad; you have to be careful when you’re cutting alone.”

She carried on. It seemed like she had a gleam in her eye as she talked. “Hit a main artery in his leg, and bled out before help could arrive.”
She paused, taking another mouthful. “Well, I guess it’s good news for you. They needed a new butcher, and you were able to fill in.”

He stared at the crowd eating their steaks with gusto. “Yes,” he said, “very lucky.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Trouble Always Comes in Threes

Charlie had told him, "When you walk into the bar the killer will be the brunette in black." He looked at the threesome there. "Great, Jason. This ought to be fun" he said to himself as he tried to think of how to go about this. He decided he needed a drink first.

"Stoly on the rocks," he told the bartender as he sat next to the brunette on the right. She turned at him and smiled, so he smiled back. "Hello," he said.

"Hello to you," she said back, and before he could dazzle her with his charm, the bartender interrupted with his drink. "Thanks," and before he walked away, Jason asked him, "Is there a phone I can use?"

"Phone's in the hallway leading to the bathrooms," the bartender said, pointing to his right.

He picked up his drink and headed for the phone. "I'll be right back," he said to the woman and smiled.

"I certainly hope so," she smiled back.

He almost finished his drink by the time Charlie answered. "Guess what? There are three killer brunettes in black here."

"What?" Charlie answered. After a moment he said, "The killer's name is Nannette, if I got the information correct."

Just then one of the other brunettes walked by him heading for the ladies room. He took a chance.

"Hello, Nannette," he said before she got to the door. She turned around for a moment, smiled at him, and then shook her head before she headed in.

"Well, one down and two more to go," he told Charlie. "You got anything else?"

Charlie was quiet for a while. "I think she's carrying a red purse."

Jason looked back at the two at the bar. Both had red purses. "Great," he said

"But one of them has a gun in it," the voice behind him said, "and it's pointing right at your spine."

She had walked up behind him from out of the bathroom. He took a small breath and said,"Talk to you later, Charlie," and hung up the phone.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Seeing Rod Serling Live

I was fortunate to hear and see Rod Serling in person when he gave a lecture at Georgia State University. I can’t remember the exact date, but there are some things I’ll never forget. One, how short he was (he was only 5’4” I think). I had heard or read about that earlier, but really wasn’t prepared for seeing him in the flesh.

Before the lecture began, a man came out from the curtains and carried a box that he placed behind the lecture. We all wondered why at first, but when Serling came out on the stage (to a big round of applause) and walked over to the lecture, he had to stand on the box in order to reach the microphones. They only had a big wooden lectern, so the mike could not be lowered, but it was just as well. Since you couldn’t see his legs, it gave the illusion that he was of average height.

However, when he started speaking all that didn’t matter. The Voice! The voice that still to this day sends a thrill through me. You knew this was Rod Serling, and I was enthralled with it. So enthralled that I can’t to this day remember what he actually talked about in his lecture. I guess I was thinking I was in The Twilight Zone hearing him so close.

The one thing I do remember came at the end when he held a Q&A session. One student asked, “Do you believe there’s life on other planets?”  He smiled. “Absolutely, and they’re filming us and sending it back to their home planet as a soap opera.” He laughed. “And it’s a big hit.”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

"The Road Back"        Part XIV        The final chapter...

He sat back and closed his eyes. This had to be a nightmare. He shook his head and looked at Sam.

“How in the hell do you figure that? You were at my house killing Deidre.” He looked at the extra drink Sam had ordered. He wanted it badly now.

“Go ahead,” Sam said. “I know you need it.” He lit a cigarette. “Don’t worry, “he smiled, “I didn’t put anything in it this time.”

He took a long drink from the glass. It calmed him, and he looked at Sam. “Ok, tell me how I’m supposed to help you.”

Sam held up two more fingers at the bartender. “I forgot to mention that there are more than my fingerprints at my house,” he paused, “especially on the knife.” He looked at him, grinning. “Of course, since you’ve never been fingerprinted they won’t have any idea who it is.” Sam was enjoying this, he knew. “However, if you don’t go along with this game then they might have to fingerprint you and they will find out it’s you who killed my wife.”

He stopped for a moment, and looked deep in thought. Finally he said, “Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention there’s also some of your blood on the knife. When they compare that with your DNA they will definitely know it’s you.”

He shook his head. “Why would they even suspect me?”

“That’s up to you, buddy boy,” Sam said. “Like I said before, if you don’t play along then I’ll suddenly remember that you and my wife might have been having an affair.”

Unbelievable, he thought. “What did you do with Deidre’s body?”

“That’s for me to know, and for you to find out.” Sam paused. “She could be buried in the back yard.” 


Sam held up his hands again. “Don’t worry; she’s not.” He took another drink, grinning. “But you’ll never know. Just don’t drink any water from that pond behind your house.”

He wanted another drink, but this had to end. “So now what happens?”

“You’ll make up with your wife and her and the kids will come back home.” He looked at my empty glass. “And this time I don’t think you’ll backslide this time. There’s too much at stake.” 

He finished his drink. “Once the sensationalism of my wife’s murder dies down, and the police have no clue as to who did it, then I’ll quietly leave the country with my wife’s money. Find a place in the islands to live, and spend every night toasting your health at a tiki bar.”

He looked at Sam hard. “Since you haven’t used me as an alibi yet, then what’s your alibi now?”

“Don’t you remember?” Sam laughed. “I was at an AA meeting at the time. You know there are always a lot of people there, and the counselor’s memory is getting bad.”

Sam got up. He leaned over to him and said, “And let’s keep it that way.” As he put on his jacket and started to head for the door, he said, “I know you’re too smart to try anything else.” He patted him on the shoulder. “See you in the funny papers.” And then he was gone.

He sat there for a while. When the bartender asked him if wanted another drink, he just smiled and waved him off.  He reached into his pocket and took out the digital recorder. Next he removed the tiny microphone from the button on his shirt.

“Yes, I am pretty smart.”

Friday, December 27, 2013

"The Road Back"     Part XIII         The killer talks...

He motioned to the bartender for another. 

“You tried to stop me from killing Deidre,” he said, “that’s when I cut you with the knife. I thought you were going to remember that, but you were so far gone you just fell back in your Lazy boy and passed out. 

He started to protest. “It takes a lot to get me to pass out. Did you slip me something in my drinks?”

“Bingo,” he replied, pointing a finger at me. “That’s another reason I picked you. You’re smart.” The bartender brought two drinks and left. “You’re smart enough not to go to the police.”

I shook my head. “I have to. It’s the only way I can clear myself.” 

“Clear what?” Sam replied. “Here’s what we have now. My wife is dead in her kitchen. The only fingerprints are mine, but it’s my house.” He took a drink. “I have an alibi for the time she was killed, so they’re not going to go after me.” Sam paused.

“What alibi do you have?” he asked, incredulously.

Sam smiled. “You are, partner.”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"The Road Back" Part XII              "The Plot unfolds"

Sam slid back in his seat, and after a deep drag on his cigarette, said. “Once upon a time…”

He started to reach for Sam again. Sam put his hands up. “Ok, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version.”

He snubbed out his cigarette and sat back. “Well, I had been going to AA about six months before you showed up.” He paused. “That’s the truth,” he mockingly said, “I was serious about it until right before you showed up.”

He paused. “Then everything went to hell.” He took another drink. “My wife was suspicious about my girlfriend, and Diedre, my girlfriend, was starting to get demanding.” He shook his head. “I started to think about how to get out of this situation.”

He smiled. “And then you showed up at the meeting, talking about how you had to quit because of the blackouts you were having.” He paused. “It was perfect. You now gave me a way to take care of my problems.”

He shook his head, now really wanting to have a drink. “It's crazy,” he said, shaking his head. “All this is because of my blackouts?”

Sam laughed. “It was perfect. You even mentioned that you couldn’t remember what happened during those blackouts, which would sometimes last 3-4 hours.”

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"The Road Back" Part XI        Barhopping...      

Smitty’s Bar wasn’t a place you take a date. You might take your mistress, though, if you were married. The bar was dimly lit, smoky, and even though the place was crowded, everyone just talked to their own partner at the table or bar. No one seemed to notice anyone else.  It was perfect for an affair---no one would admit seeing you there because it meant he, or she, had been there too.

As he looked around for Sam, he thought of the times he had been here. Not with a mistress, though. When he was hitting the sauce heavily, it was his mission to hit every bar in town.  He almost did.

He finally saw Sam at a corner booth. He didn’t see him until he was almost at the booth.

“Hey, buddy!” he said smiling. “You’d better sit across from me or people will start to talk.” He winked. He slid onto the stool across from him. He was controlling myself pretty well, he thought, since he hadn’t smashed him in the face when he was close enough.

“Ok, I’m here,” he said, trying to stay calm. “What’s going on?”

“Don’t you want a drink first,” Sam said grinning, “it might calm you down a bit.” He started to go to the bar.

He grabbed his arm before he could get up.  Hard. “No, I don’t.”

Sam sat back down. “Your call.” He took a long drink from his class. “Ah,” he said slowly, “now that hits the spot.” He watched him, and when he didn’t do anything he sighed. “You're no fun at all.”

That was too much. He reached across the table, grabbed his shirt, and starting pulling him out of his seat. “Enough!”  he said between clenched teeth.

“Whoa, partner,” he said , putting his hands up. “You don’t want the police here, do you?” he nodded towards the bartender, who was watching them. He let him go and settled back in the booth.

“Calm down,” he said. “You can relax; you didn’t kill anyone.” He paused for a moment and smiled. “I did.”  relax; you didn’t kill anyone.” He paused for a moment and smiled. “I did.”