Me and Meatloaf

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Me and Meatloaf

It’s just me and Meatloaf. He goes with me wherever I go. We’ve been roommates for the last three years. Meatloaf was a rescue cat. And ‘Yes’… I did crochet both of our scarves.

My mother’s go-to relaxation skill was crocheting. She and I would work on projects together while waiting for my father to get off stage. He was a stuntman for Universal Studios.

I am still very ‘crafty’ because of my mother’s influences. I suspect that I got into body -sculpting building because of my dad.

I have been to all fifty states in the United States and every U.S. territory. I have also traveled to 112 different countries.

I am employed by the U.S. Marines as a consultant. Much of my work is classified, so I will not be a huge fan of “Honey, how was your day?”

My job has many perks; one of them is the ability to travel- a lot! As a military consultant, my flights are hassle-free and Meatloaf and accompany me… no questions asked. (In case you were wondering.)

Five things I enjoy:

  • Classical Music (especially Mozart, Vivaldi, and Tchaikovsky)
  • Movies: Gladiator, The Patriot, Top Gun, National Treasure, Raiders of the Lost Ark (series), Shrek (series), Braveheart, and The Batman (series). My tastes depend on my mood and the company. Meatloaf enjoyed the gamut- as long as there are treats.
  • Sunrises on the beach
  • Daily taekwondo training and surfing or swimming
  • Trying the fine cuisine from the places that I visit (especially pancakes!)
  • Fast cars (my Achilles heel)

Yes, I know that is SIX. I am also a (modest) overachiever.

If I sound interesting, swipe me.

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #18 Today’s prompt is to write someone’s online dating profile.

The Perfect PB&J Sandwich


The Perfect PB&J Sandwich

Have you ever made a mess all over the front of your shirt while eating your delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Has the bread from your beloved sandwich ever been so soggy that the jelly gooed-out, getting all over your fingers and then you wiped them on your pants without a thought?

Let me explain to you how to fix these calamitous situations.

Step One

Collect your ingredients and place them on the counter.

        • Peanut butter (Crunchy or Smooth.)
        • A jar of jelly (Go wild, there’s so many to choose from.)
        • 2 slices of bread (Be as healthy as you desire.)
        • 1 plate (Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Plus, I usually do not always have the cleanest of countertops?)
        • 1 knife (No, it doesn’t have to be sharp.)
        • 1 baggy (I prefer the Zip-Locked ones.) to slide your sandwich in once you have completed this task.

Step Two

Spread peanut butter on one side of the bread. DO THIS TO BOTH SLICES!

As you compete the spreading of the peanut butter, place each slice, DRY SIDE DOWN, on the plate.

Be as generous as you desire with the peanut butter. It’s your sandwich.

FYI: With peanut butter on both slices, the jelly cannot seep through and soggy-up your bread!

Step Three

Select the slice of bread which you would like to bless with your jelly. Just do it. As you have competed the task of spreading your jelly, gently invert the slice and place it upon the twin brother (or sister) awaiting to complete your sandwich.

Step Four

Firmly grasping your knife (by the handle, please!) cut your sandwich into its desires shapes.

FYI: I prefer the crisscross method. (This gives me FOUR small sandwiches to eat.)

Step Five

If you have crisscross-cut your sandwich, like me, place the bottom triangle in first. Then its sides. Then the top.

Step Six

Zip it!

Step Seven

Once you have completed the skill work necessary for this new-and-improved, never-soggy, never messy peanut butter and jelly class, send me an signed affidavit stating your success, I will gladly send you a graduation certificate.

FYI: Don’t do Step Seven. There will not be a certificate awaiting you in the mail. Get real!

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #17 Today’s prompt is to write a second-person how-to.

My Mom’s New Friend

My Mom’s New Friend

“Any bites yet?”


“Well, sunset is a great time for the fish to change their minds and come up to grab a tasty worm.”

He was trying so hard. My mom was so happy with him.

I was too, mostly. Except for days like this.

I wanted to tell him I had plenty of bits. The mosquitos were feasting on my legs.  

I wanted to ask ‘If the fish are nibbling so great at sunset, why have we already been here five hours!’ But I wasn’t going to say a word.

Mom was happy. Happier than she had been for a long time.

I was happy… mostly… just not today.

So I kept my mouth shut.

Dragging his three-legged chair over, Jeff sat down. “Bring your line in. Let’s check the bait.”

Reluctantly, I did.

“Wow!” he exclaimed, “they’ve munched that old worm to bits. Let’s put on another.”

I reached in to lift out another night crawler. These things are so disgusting. I hope my squeamishness doesn’t show on my face. Bravely, I threaded its head- I guess that’s its head- and wrapped its body around my hook twice. Just like Jeff had shown me. Then I hooked its other end firmly in place.

I cast.

Pleased my bobber landed midway in the lake, I relaxed.

Jeff had done likewise as he was watching me… casting downwind so that our lines wouldn’t cross.

“You gotta dance your line a little. Make’em think that old bugger is alive.” As he showed me how to dance better I watched his bobber jump slightly out of the water and land. He did that several times. “Now, you give it a try.”

I tried.

“Almost,” he said. “Use more wrist action. Pretend you are a gunfighter in one of your X-box games and just give your rod a swift draw.”

I did.

“Great. Now a little slower, but be jerky with it,” he continued. “Prefec…..”

I screamed. “My bobber…. My bobber… It’s gone. Something’s got it!”

“Easy. … Easy.” Jeff had laid down his rod and was right by side. “Reel him in slowly. Keep the line tight.”

I tried. The bobber was busy going downstream.

“You’ve got a bigg’n.” he said. He sounded as excited as I felt.  “Just keep the line tight and slowly wind him in.”

I was shaking all over.

Maybe the day wasn’t going to turn out so bad after all.

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #16 Today’s prompt is to write about boring becoming something exciting.

So, How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?


So, How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?

The three of them collapsed on the grassy incline.

Jenny smiled. “I told you, girls can do anything boys can do.” Her face was aglow as she was only beginning to gloat about her second place finish.

Aaron had known Jenny was fast. She was the headstriker on the girls’ soccer squad. He had been confident he could beat her in the mile, but he had warned Jeremy that maybe he should keep the time on this trash-talking event.

Jeremy had held tight to his pride. He refused to not compete.

Aaron had thought that he was the most competitive person ever, until he had been assigned as a roommate to Jeremy last year. The two of then were a dangerous match. They competed for grades in classes. They competed in sports. They competed in food-eating competitions. They held nothing sacred.

That was how they had met Jenny… on a dare.

Aaron had accepted a dare to get Jenny’s digits. Jeremy had given him three minutes to accomplish the digit-acquisition deed. At stake had been fifteen wind-sprints after the next basketball practice. The dare had been a public dare- in front of the entire basketball team; to not accept the challenge was unthinkable.

It had turned out to have been far easier than he could have hopes. He did not think that there was any real chance at succeeding in this digit-acquisition, so instead of trying to charm his way through the task, he was completely up front. He told Jenny of the challenge. And how competitive he was. And simply begged.

She found it hilarious. Surprisingly, she had four younger brothers who were always doing stupid things like this. She traded her digits for the right to watch Jeremy run the wind sprints.

Since then, the three of them had been inseparable.

Jeremy was still panting from his third place finish. “Alright,” he said. “A double-or-nothing challenge. I accept that you beat me in the race, but I bet I can hold my breath longer than you.”

“Jeremy…” I tried to intervene.

“No!” he said firmly. “This is no big deal. We had the same contest with three of the freshman in the hall last night. We’ll just have a new one tonight.” He paused smiling. There was an evil glimmer in his eyes. “That is… If you’re up to it.”

Thank God for Jenny’s four brothers. “Before I say ‘yes’,” she said, “Tell me all the rules.”

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #15 Today’s prompt is to write someone who needs to take a deep breath.

Who Wants Seconds?

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Who Wants Seconds?

We had had to wait a full week before trying out my new portable, tabletop grill. The previous afternoons had been rain filled, or I had had to put in extra hours at the office.

But today was perfect.

Alicen, my wife, picked up the kids immediately after soccer practice and headed to the course.

I had changed my tee time from four that afternoon and had pressed it forward to noon.

We were going to meet at the picnic area by Logan’s Run at as close to five o’clock as we could make it.

***   ***   ***

Arriving one right after the other, the boys and I set up the grill and started the burgers while the girls found a stop by the river for our supper.

The burgers on the new Char-Broil 9500 were impeccable. The potato salad and the cole slaw that Fredrick, my youngest and self-proclaimed aspiring chef, had prepared… divine.

After completing the meal, I went to the car and retrieved the Frisbees from the back and we paired off in teams for quick round of Frisbee golf.

About half-way through the game we heard Sarah, our oldest, scream. She had remained at the site with Alicen to enjoy the shade trees and catchup on some leisure reading.

The game was forgotten as we raced to the rescue.

Instinctively, I spread my arms as wings of a fear-bound hawk to stop the boys from getting any closer.

There, chowing down on Ramon’s uneaten half-a-burger- complete with paper plate, rested the largest alligator I had ever seen in my life.

As the boys and I stood glued in astonishment at this frightful sight, Alicen and Sarah joined us.

“Are you guys OK?” I whispered.

Sarah gave a nervous laugh. “Why are you whispering, Dad?”

I looked puzzled. “I’m just making…” Ramon finished my thought. Thank the Lord. I had no idea what I was going to day.

“Dad’s whispering ‘cause I’m on the phone with the Park Rangers. Their sending Animal Rescue here now. We’re to slowly move to the car and wait on them.”

***   ***

Once in the car, Sarah reached around each of us and personally locked every door.

Ramon stated laughing.

I found it impossible not to join in.

It was infectious.

Soon, the car was rocking for our hysterics.

“Don’t guess anyone in interested in seconds after the game?” I said.

“I think they’re taken,” Fredrick said. “But we can still have more potato salad and cole slaw. I packed it back in the cooler before the game.”

That brought on fresh round of stitches.

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #10 Today’s prompt is to write about an animal.

Dating a Murphy

Dating a Murphy

“Oh, the pictures in my wallet? Yes, they are a little unusual. I call them my Murphy Stories. This first one… …”

I should have known better. Ever since meeting Tisha, nothing ever went as planned.

But honestly, that was one of the things that made her great. Most of the adventures were enjoyable. And besides, with her last name being Murphy, I joked with her, what else would I expect?

On our first date, I ran out of gas. Yes, I know how cliché that sounds, but it happened.

We had decided to go the National Forest for a hike up to The Knob. The trip there… easy peazy.

The hike. It was awesome. Talking to her was like finding my long-lost best friend.

The views from the overlook. Spectacular!

It drizzled a little on our way back. The rocks in the pathway were getting very slick. Amazingly, we arrived back to the car without one of us falling.

But coming out of the intersection from the overlook parking I had to pass the shuttle bus bringing the last group of sightseers to the top.

As I veered to the left, my Subaru slide off the macadam.

There was a harsh thud. I was sure that I had dislocated the muffler of the car.

Continuing down the road, there was not a huge roar following me, so I figured I had just hit the frame of the car on the corner of the macadam.

Not so.

Less than an hour later, as the sun was setting on the horizon, so was my car setting by the side of the road. The gas gauge read EMPTY. I had, apparently, knocked a hole in the tank.

We chuckled about the meaning of it all, and awaited AAA to rescue us.

Within thirty minutes, they had towed the car, and us, to the local garage.

We waited at the Exxon/Subway next to the garage for AAA to deliver a replacement car.

Seeking sustenance, we split a cheesesteak and chips. Laughing at the bad luck of the night, I jokingly said,” Well, I think our luck is going to change.”

I slipped out of the bench setting and walked to the counter. “Two JungleCrush tickets, please.”

I handed Trisha one of the tickets as I slide back in the sat.

Quickly scratching the surface, I found mine was a dud.

Trish just sat there.

She was white.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Didn’t the sandwich agree with you?”

“Nothing’s wrong. I think tonight’s date is on me,” she said.

Handing me her ticket…. She had won $15,000.

“You meant the one with the hot air balloon. That was from the day I asked Trisha to marry me.”

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #9 Today’s prompt is to write about a surprise gone wrong.

Ramon Sees Red

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Ramon Sees Red

Ramon, third-generation matador want-to-be, carefully donned the waistcoat of his great-grandfather’s traje de luces. Clutching the muleta under his left armpit and a single banderillo in his right hand, he ran out the door in pursuit of his prey.

The neighbor boy had called and reported seeing Diablo, the Disperser, running like a banshee in the backyard again.

The Disperser had won the last battle.

It had cost Ramon two days of school (not that he had minded that), and three evenings of soccer practice (that he did mind) and three consecutive nightly hour-long soaks in a tomato juice bath.

Between the evils of a bath, and the forced absence of soccer practice, Ramon was not in a forgiving mood.

His mother had been horrified when Ramon entered the house after the first battle with Diablo.

He knew he stunk.

But the way she ran away from him… screaming never-before-spoken words…

For that, he would never forgive The Disperser.

His father had laughed.

In fact, every time his dad had replenished the bathwater on the back porch with another gallon of heated tomato juice, he had had a renewed fit-of-laughter.

After the third evening of baths (at least now he was allowed in the house facilities), his father had sat him down and they had the talk.

Not, thank the heavens, the one about birds-and-the-bees. But the one about when life hands you lemons, make lemonade?

He wasn’t real sure what lemonade had to do with bathing in tomato juice, but his dad had been very serious in the tone of his voice and the seriousness of his message.

Ramon tried to grasp the jest of the lesson.

Find the hidden truth.

Make right the wrong.

Slay the dragon.

Maybe the ‘Slay the dragon’ was just the inner- Ramon wanting out of the tomato-bath to rise and a fight again.

The Inner-Ramon straightened his spine.

There were unforgiveable wrongs to right!


Traje de luces: The traje de luces[1] (‘suit of lights’) is the traditional clothing that Spanish bullfighters. (Wikipedia)

Muleta: A muleta is a stick with a red cloth hanging from it that is used in the final third (tercio de muleta or de muerte) of a bullfight. It is different from the cape used by the matador earlier in the fight (capote de brega). (Wikipedia)

Banderillo: Banderilla most often refers to the colorfully decorated and barbed sticks used in bullfighting. (Wikipedia)

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #3 Today’s prompt is to write something that incorporates the color red.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner: Week #3. 

Scarborough’s School-of-Laughs

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Scarborough’s School-of-Laughs

“Am I under arrest?”

“Of course not. Have you done something wrong?”

“No! I mean, what could I have done wrong? All that happened was this flat tire.”

“A flat tire. But it wasn’t as simple as that. Tell us about the robbery. Officer O’Malley said that you were robbed?”

“You mean the clown?”

“Yes. That was the reason you gave Officer O’Malley for not having any identification.”

“Yea. Sure. This nutter of a clown just comes out of nowhere. I’m kneeling down trying to change my tire, and then from behind me I hear, ‘Give me your wallet.’”

“The man appeared from nowhere?”

“Well it was much darker then. I guess that’s why he was able to sneak up on me.”

“I see. And you gave him your wallet?”

“Of course I did. I didn’t want him to shoot me.”

“Did the clown have a gun?”

“Uhhh. No! No. I don’t think he did. He just had a crazy look in his eyes. Like he wanted to kill me if I didn’t listen.”

“Then what happened?”

“He took my wallet.”

“But you still have your wallet. You gave it to Officer O’Malley.”

“I know. He gave it back to me.”

“The clown took your wallet and then gave it back to you?”

“Yea. That’s right.”

“Did he say anything when he gave your wallet back to you?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“You don’t think so. OK. Then what happened?”

“The clown took off walking down the road and he was picked up by a passing big rig truck.”

“An 18-wheeler stopped to pick up a man dressed like a clown?”

“Yea. The clown just stood there with his thumb out and the rig picked him up and drove away.”

“Officer O’Malley showed us your wallet. He was having it fingerprinted. Did you know that you still have over fifty dollars in your wallet?”

“I told you the clown was a nutter. I don’t know why he just took my driver’s license and left my money?”

“That does seem strange?’

The lad just nodded.

“Can you describe the clown?”

“No way? I was too scared. I thought I was going to die.”

“Can you describe anything about what the clown was wearing?”

“You don’t think he’s still wearing that stuff. I’m sure he’s already thrown his clown outfit away.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Because I could tell you want he looks like and he wouldn’t want that.”

“But, you can’t describe him?”

“Well, no. I was too scared.”

“Can you describe the 18-wheeler? What color was it? Did you see its license plate?”

“Huh uh. I was still too scared. I thought I was going to die.”

“You can’t tell us anything about the big rig?”

“One thing. It was from that circus in town.”

“The circus that closed last night?”

“Yea. That’s the one.”

“How do you know?”

“It had this great big sign on the back. School-of-Laughs.”

“Great job, Tommy. I think we’re done here. Now, will you let us take you home? Your foster-mom’s been worried about you. She called you in missing just after midnight. You missed curfew.”

“She don’t care about me,” the lad replied… then caught himself. “Who’s this Tommy kid you’re talking about?”

Written for Tuesday’s Writing Group (Write a story using the following ideas: Character- rescued child, a runaway. Other – clown school and deadline. The main character has to change during the story. You cannot kill the main character.) I used the photo from Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner.

Regenerative Immortality


Regenerative Immortality

Wheeling over to the auxiliary tank, Gerald twisted the evacuation value to allow the ten gallon experimental overflow to fill. As it filled, a small multitude of turridos[1] escaped with the run-off.

He had been experimenting with these miniature jellies since high school. Amazingly, his high school oddity had blossomed into a full-scholarship to MIT and summer internships at the Mayo Clinic. Now, it seemed that these pets might offer the key to his own renaissance.

His initial attraction to the Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish was their claim to immortality. This mystical claim fit right in with his geekish boyhood desires to be a superhero, hence his enormous Sci-Fi comic book collection, and his, former collegiate successes at the pro circuit, thrill-seeking hobby, of motocross.

Adjusting his chair to allow him maneuverability to release the lower valve of his experimental habitat for the turridos, Gerald emptied the experimental tank into the foot bath.

Today was the first implementation day testing his new theory: turrido-spinal/muscular regeneration.

A mere fluke had caused his personal research to take a turn.

About three months ago, Gerald had been completing his bi-monthly measurements and counts of his pets using the auxiliary tank when his left hand had inadvertently dropped into the turrido’s tank. The turridos, in a survivalistic frenzy, had viciously attacked his useless fingers.

Luckily, stinging turridos were not poisonous.

Gerald retrieved his hand from the tank without any harm. Just scores of small red dots.

That night, as he was dressing himself for bed, Gerald discovered that the fingers on his left hand had regained intentional movement. They could not actually grasp anything, but they moved. Previously, any form of movement had been nonexistent.

Gerald forced himself to wait a week before testing out his new hypothesis. Stings from turridos might have healing-regenerative powers that could prove useful for paraplegics.

Now, after four additional self-inflected skirmishes with his left hand, enjoying the flurried agitations of turridos, Gerald was going to allow the turridos access to his left foot.

The fingers on his left hand could now not only grasp his clothing as he was dressing, but he could successfully hold eating utensils. He was not sure if this miraculous success was brought on by the aggressive attacks of the turridos or by his thrice-weekly rehabilitative efforts, but he was not going let what might have been mere happenstance hinder the chances of a momentous discovery.

Once, the confinement to his wheelchair had seemed permanent. Now, new options, options that had been previously laid to rest, were bursting forth from his imaginations.

Twisting the value shut after filling the foot bath, Gerald lifted his left leg from its confinement and gently placed his foot into the bath.

Through his fluorescent-enhanced googles, Gerald witnessed the no-holds-barred attack.

Three minutes later, Gerald lifted his foot free and set to dry on the toweled floor.

Renewed sensations in his fingers could have theoretically been a coincidence. If tonight, there were any noticeable changes in his toes… a whole new world awaited him.

Written for Tuesday’s Writing Group (Write a story using the following ideas: Character cards – witness, person in a wheelchair. Other – bid for immortality, key that no one else has. The main character has to change during the story. You cannot kill the main character.)

[1] Turritopsis dohrnii are known as the immortal jellyfish. This species of jellyfish are found worldwide in temperate to tropic waters. Turritopsis dohrnii can transform themselves from adulthood back into it fetal state (a polyp) anytime there are uninhabitable changes in the environment (like sudden changes in the temperature of the ocean waters, or an unhealthy density of the salinity of the waters, or if something caused harm to its jellied dome). It would then recreate itself into an identical turrido.

Geppetto’s Gift

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Geppetto’s Gift

“She doesn’t bark.”

“What are you talking about?”

“She doesn’t bark. The dog grandpop made for me. She doesn’t bark.”

“Bradford. You’re twelve-years-old. The dog Grandpop Rossi made for you is a classic. It is a hand pull-toy crafted from imported Ceylon ebony and Ponderosa pine. It is a collector’s toy.”

“I know that. But I wanted a dog that barks. One that I can go to the park and throw Frisbees with and he’ll bring them back.”

“Well, we don’t always get exactly what we want.”

“But Grandpop is always telling me stories of him and Papa when Papa was just a boy. Every night he would tell these remarkable stories of trips through the Great Forest to find just the right piece of wood. And all about how he carefully carved each of Papa’s parts. How he lovingly whittled and sanded and whittled and sanded until every piece fit just right.”

“I know the stories.”

“The stories must be true. Papa said that they were true.”

“Papa wouldn’t lie to you. But what else did Papa say?”

“Without love, unabashed love, it never would have happened.”

“Well, there you have your answer.”

“I just have to love Piddle’s, that’s his name, I just have to love Piddle’s until he is real?”

“Sounds like that’s what Grandpop would say.”

“Good. Mom, what’s unabashed mean?”

Written for Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner.