“In for a Penny…”


“In for a Penny…”

At first, I passed it off as two drunks trading archaeological war stories. I had never heard of Horacio McQuoid, and after completing my BA in Archeology at Cambridge, if he were of any relevance to the primordial world, I would have read of him at some time.

But hearing them lower their voices as their discussion seemed to become more heated, intrigued me. I ordered another boilermaker and settled in. I really had no place else to go.

They talked for another ten minutes or so and then left.

I was disappointed that I didn’t learn much else about this MacQuoid fellow, nor this mysterious skeletodial artifact. I left the waitress a generous tip. It was a Friday night and I had monopolized a top-drawer table for almost two hours.

Walking passed my drunken friends’ booth, I saw a ratty booklet laying on the seat. It looked the size of an old journal. Trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, I retrieved it and slipped it into my side pocket.

I left.

As luck would have it, my two drunken friends were at the trolley station just ahead of me. I had already wasted half my evening on them, so I stood two pillars down from them and waited. What was another two hours? It might prove informative if I knew more about them.

When they boarded, I followed.

I sat two seats behind them. I found a used copy of The Illustrated on my seat to peruse, so I settled in for the ride.

Soon, their conversation riveted me to my seat. Snatches of phrases captivated me. A scuba expedition… the Aegean Sea… Cyclops unearthed… Odysseus … an underwater temple to Poseidon … a Siren graveyard …

Either these men were massively delusional, feeding into one another’s fanciful imaginations, or I had stumbled upon a mythological impossibility.

Apparently, these drunken buffoons had discovered the historical proof to the stories of Homer …

Disembarking with my newfound friends, I shadowed them into the lobby of the Dorchester. To stay here, they, or someone they knew, had a silver spoon.

Catching their names and suite status at the registers, I nearly maxed out my Visa. This weekend, I would truly live out the old saying, “In for a penny…”

Written for Tuesday’s Writing Group (Write a story using the following ideas: Character- person who will do whatever it takes, an eavesdropper. Other – rest area, glue. The main character has to change during the story. You cannot kill the main character.)

Written for Sunday Afternoon Writings: A Zoom Writing Group. Requirements: Idea: Your legs have gotten stuck inside a fish. No matter what you do, you can’t convince people that you are not a merman. Take the prompt a twist it any way you like.


Don’t Call Me He-Man 

Photograph from Pinterest

Don’t Call Me He-Man 

Letters to the Editor

In response to the son of the Hot Dog Eating Champion…

Family dynamics can be excruciatingly painful.

Consider yourself lucky. Nathan’s Hot Dog World Championship happens only once a year. It’s a one-and-done.

I was blessed with seeing my father oiled up in a man’s thong, and nothing else, on national television every three months (like clockwork) for the chance at competing for the Mr. America Bodybuilding Championship.

Sure, parts of that life had its perks.

I got to travel. By the time I was ten, I had visited every state in the Union except Alaska.

But for every sunny moment (I was pulled from school often on Thursday afternoons), there was turbulent storm clouds (When I returned to school, with all my made-up assignments, each and every one of my loving teachers would ask me to share my adventure).

The girls were gushing over my dad. If there were any girls at the start of the year who did not visit my dad for their twice-a-year visits for teeth-cleaning, they were his adoring patient by the end of the year. The girls… I could handle.

It was all the jokes after class that my not-so-loving comrades-in-arms would ask me AFTER the structured share-time was over.

Making matters worse… I was not really a body-building specimen. I was tall for my age. That helped.

I weighed 52 pounds… wet. That didn’t help.

I had a great dad, I loved him dearly… when he WAS NOT in competition. Or the topic of share-time at school. Or the main issue of conversation in the locker room.

I think he truly understood my grievances.

But then he did the unthinkable.

For my 10th birthday, my parents went all out for a sports- themed party. I enjoyed sports. The friendships were great. I sat the bench most of the time. I was OK with that.

I invited my two best friends (from Robotics’ Camp) and my current sport’s team (baseball) to the house. We had a blast.

My folks had rented a huge Bouncy House and a blow-up slide that was twenty feet tall. The slide came with its own safety guards- twins that looked like young versions of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

I was rocking!!!

But as previously stated… Exquisite sunshine is often followed by torrential downpours.

It was time for the cake and presents.

My presents were awesome. A leather basketball from my uncles. FUBU sporting clothes from my aunts. A signed baseball- Chipper Jones- from my baseball team. How great was that!!!

But then, my dad’s present. Ever the dentist… he remembered a television commercial we had watched over the previous Christmas.

I received a He-Man Talking Toothbrush.

Dad thought I would be flipping-out over it. He was so proud of himself. (Well, I was flipping out… on the inside. But not really the way that Dad had hoped.)

From that day, August 15, 1981, I had a new nickname.

It became the go-to story that the parents would tell over family meals when the reminiscing started. Needless to say, it followed me throughout high school.

I loved my dad… still do.

But now that I’m in college … I never invite new friends over for dinner.

Written for Tuesday’s Writing Group (Write a story using the following ideas: Character- body builder, dentist. Other – letter to the editor, everyday ritual is interrupted. The main character has to change during the story. You cannot kill the main character.)

Videos of interest.


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.