Family Day

veterans day parade 2018

© James Pyles

Yesterday, my son texted me at work and suggested spending Saturday together. He had a very specific agenda.

So this morning, I met him at his house, and we got the kids ready to head into downtown Boise so we could attend the annual Boise Veterans Day Parade (hence the image above). The parade has been held since before my family and I moved here 24 years ago. I can remember when my kids were in marching band in Junior High and High School, they’d perform in the parade each year.

We picked a corner near the start of the parade and met a lot of nice people, including a woman whose 13-year-old daughter was in it this year.

I took a ridiculous number of photos (and fortunately for you, I posted only one). The air was cool and crisp and if you were dressed properly, it was a great day to go to a parade.

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A New Home for Diablo

chicks

August MorgueFIle 139596857318u1t

“Bubbe! Baby chickies!” The enthusiastic three-year-old girl let go of her grandmother’s hand and ran over to the heated glass enclosure. She pressed her palms and nose against it and then pulled back. “It’s hot, Bubbe.”

“It’s okay to look, but don’t scare them, Dani.” The sixty-year-old bent over and put her hand gently on the child’s shoulder.

“Look, a kitty-cat.” The toddler spun to her left when she spied the black feline out of the corner of her eye. Surprisingly, when she zipped over to the edge of the counter to pet it, the cat didn’t even flinch.

“Your cat is amazingly calm,” the grandparent said to the young cashier.

“Yes, and he needs a new home, unfortunately. The former owners had to move and couldn’t take Diablo with them.” The woman’s raven hair was as dark as the cat’s fur.

“Diablo?” The older woman quickly pulled her phone from her purse as her granddaughter continued to pet the cat. “Jim. It’s me. How would you like to give an abandoned cat a new home?”

I wrote this for week #42 of Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 176.

I admit that the photo didn’t immediately inspire a pulse-pounding, dynamic tale of action and adventure, but I remembered my wife telling me that she took our granddaughter to a local gardening and feed store the other day, and they did have a cat there needing a new home. On a separate occasion, I’ve visited another branch of the same store and saw chicks in a heated case, so I put the two events together.

And no, we didn’t adopt the cat. I made that part up.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. As of this writing, I’m the first to contribute, so please consider adding your own wee tale.

Thanks.

Brothers

flagon

Found at “The Flagon” twitter account

“One for sorrow, two for mirth.” Tom raised his flagon of ale at the bar, smiling at his brother.

“Aye, brother. Here’s to mirth.” Chris raised his as well and clumsily pressed the two together. Then they both drained their drinks by half and slammed them down on the counter before them.

Tom leaned over and hugged his elder sibling. I’ve missed you, Chris. You don’t know how boring things are when you’re not around.”

Chris broke from the clinch and patted Tom on both shoulders. “I must admit the same. Life just isn’t as much fun when you’re not with me. Whoa.” The large blond had to grab the edge of the bar to keep from teetering off his stool.

“Had one ale too many, eh, brother?” Tom took another drink, but just a sip.

“Not at all, Tom. The stool must be faulty. Here. Another toast. To family.” He again lifted his flagon.

“Yes, dear brother. Family.” Tapping their containers together, they both took another long swallow. Then setting his drink down, Tom said, “Of course, there isn’t much family left. Our father…”

“Yes, the dear departed. I miss him a great deal.”

“In spite of the lies he told?”

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The Last Hrtedyp

fall

© Sue Vincent

There were tears in seventeen-year-old Latoya Kelly’s eyes as she hiked toward the small waterfall and realized this would be her last Hrtedyp. It was always held on the first full day after the Fall Equinox, precisely at 4:33 p.m. She had only been five when she had her first Hrtedyp, and that had been by accident. She had been camping with her parents and grandparents, and the tiny child wandered off. She had been lost, and hungry, and scared, but by the time Daddy found her, she was full of Bueno Nacho, Everlasting Gobstopper, and was laughing and singing in a language nobody knew anything about. She tried to tell Mommy and Daddy about the Hrtedyp, but they thought she’d fallen asleep and had a dream.

Every year, they’d camp in the same place to welcome autumn, but she hadn’t been able to sneak away again to attend the Hrtedyp until she was eight. Then, she always made an excuse, year after year, to go on a hike alone, always from just before four until right after sunset.

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What’s Important

baby

© James Pyles

I’ve been thinking about what is and isn’t important lately. Yes, there are a lot of arguments on the web positing this cause or that as important, and the authors declaring anyone who isn’t wildly enthusiastic, embracing, and endorsing of their project as horrible, terrible human beings.

Oh well.

I admit to being caught up in all that from time to time…okay, most of the time, but then I stop and realize that for the sake of my emotional and mental health, I can’t let other people or groups wind me up like I’m their toy doll. For instance, occasionally, I’ll get a troll in my one of my social media feeds attempting to rile me, but when I confront him, he denies it, saying he was just trying to understand my position more.

So it goes. Most of the time, I don’t even respond to him. His presence is almost always one where I can predict what he’ll say and even on which of my posts he’ll respond. A few others like him who used to do something similar, while remaining my Facebook “friends” or following me on twitter, otherwise are absent, but I must admit, I have also “muted” them as well, again because I don’t need the aggravation (and now that I’ve satisfied the requirements of Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Opposing Forces challenge, on with the show).

So what is important? Lots of things, but I’m going to focus on my three-year-old granddaughter. My son and his ex are divorced and one week the kids stay with their Mom, while the opposing week they stay with their Dad (and with us much of the time).

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The Loneliness Disease

grandpa

From the March/April 2014 issue of Discern – No photo credit provided

Charles felt his forehead calescent and damp. Struggling to free himself from the comfort of his bed sheets, he staggered to the window. Pulling open the blinds, he unlatched and then lifted the frame, letting the cool morning breeze into his bedroom.

A violent paroxysm of tremors accompanied by dizziness seized him, forcing the older man to kneel on the carpet, resting his head on the window sill.

After a few minutes, he felt his temperature go down a bit, and he risked trying to stand. Hesitantly, he made his way into the kitchen and put the tea kettle on. As the water heated, he opened his back door and several more windows attempting to cool his stiflingly warm house.

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Getting Ready for School

bench

© Wildverbs

“You seem depressed, Joey. The older man looked at his nine-year-old grandson sitting on the bench beside him.

“I’ve got less than two weeks of freedom left.”

“What do you mean?”

“School. I won’t be able to hang out with you at the park and tell stories.”

“I thought you liked school.”

The boy absent-mindedly caused a small whirlwind to lift some water from the lake to the roots of a nearby tree. “I guess so, but every year it gets harder.”

“Every year, you get smarter, and the discipline’s good for you. By the way, so close to the lake, the tree doesn’t need extra water.”

“I know. I was just bored.”

“That’s exactly why you need to go to school. You’ve had plenty of rest and now your restless.” Grandpa casually waved his hand and adjusted the humidity level of the dirt under the tree to optimal levels.

“Do you think I’ll ever be as good a wizard as you, Grandpa?”

“Keep going to school and practicing. You’ll make a great sorcerer one day.”

I wrote this for the 177th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

Initially, I didn’t think I’d write for the prompt this week since it seemed similar to something I’d seen just recently, but then again, I considered that a challenge too.

My grandson really is lamenting that he has less than two weeks of freedom until summer vacation ends and he has to go back to school. Since we hang out a lot together and tell stories, I decided to mine that conversation with a slight twist.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Breaking the News

san juan island

© Ted Strutz

I took Mom and Dad to their favorite restaurant at the end of the pier. We ordered what we always order, creatures of habit and all that, and I admitted to myself I was going to miss it.

“I don’t know how to say this, but we’re moving away.”

“Moving? Tom, did you get another job?” It came as quite a shock to Mom.

“You’ve lived here all your life, son.”

“I know Dad, but it’s gotten so expensive. The cost of living here is out of control. I’m moving the family to Idaho. I promise we’ll visit often.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use the image above to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.

I feel I’ve written half a story. When I saw that the photo credit was Ted Strutz, I looked him up and found he lives in San Juan Island, Washington. I’ve read about how the exceptionally high cost of living in major western population centers such as Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco is driving people to other communities, including Boise and its suburbs. The story sort of put itself together after that, and an expanded version would probably tell a more complete tale.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Going Up

swing

Image credit Gamze Bozkaya via Unsplash

“Get back here, Deric! Do it now!”

The minute Enoch Fischer noticed the boy was missing, he knew there’d be trouble, but he didn’t suspect that not only had some fool strung up a swing at the edge of the cliff, but that the fifteen-year-old would use it.

“Relax. I’m fine. Can’t I have some fun once in a while?” The boy turned his head around as far as he could, but Enoch still could hardly hear him.

“That’s not fun, it’s suicide. Get off this instant.”

“Poor choice of words on your part, Dad.” He was laughing, taunting his adoptive father the way he had since he was able to walk. At the apex of the arc out into empty air, Deric pulled himself up by the ropes, twisted, and then falling, grabbed the seat with both hands. On the return swing, his legs were low enough to drag on the dirt and grass pulling him to a stop.

“You should have seen the look on your face.” He stood and swatted dust off of his pant legs, still laughing at the effect his stunt had on the older man.

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Hope is Being Sucked Out of Life One Person at a Time

memorial

A Boise mass stabbing left nine people hurt, including six children, after a man attacked a 3-year-old’s birthday party on Saturday, June 30, at an apartment complex near West State Street and Wylie Lane. Four of the victims were critically injured.

I don’t know if I successfully communicate this on my blog, but I do try to understand people who aren’t like me. I may not always agree with them, but I want to know where they’re coming from. After all, I’m not the sole source of human knowledge, and I’m not the ultimate moral and ethical authority in the universe. I suppose my efforts are wasted, at least with a few folks who really, really need the world to be polarized, and if you aren’t like them, you’re evil. Nevertheless, I do want to get some sort of comprehension about people, even those who (probably) hate me.

This stuff like this happens and it sucks all of the hope out of the room. Really, I’m suffocating.

A 30-year-old guy was staying in an apartment complex in Boise, Idaho near where I live. He’s from Los Angeles, and I can’t really glean from the news stories why he was here in the first place. Apparently, there was some sort of trouble with the apartment manager and/or tenants, and he was asked to leave.

So what is his response? He gets a knife and, targeting a child’s birthday party, stabs nine people, including the birthday girl who was turning three. She was flown to Salt Lake City for treatment and just died of her injuries.

A three-year-old little girl is dead and for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

The suspect is in custody and being held without bail. The victims were all recent immigrants from Ethiopia, Iraq, and Syria. All they wanted was to escape the violence of their countries and make a new life here in the U.S. This guy (I won’t honor him by posting his name or photo) took away the hope they found here.

Every time something like this happens, my faith in humanity diminishes just a little bit more, I become more cynical, and I become more like the pundits on social media who demand the (metaphorical) heads of their enemies on a platter just because they dared to disagree with them.

I know we live in an evil world and human nature isn’t really a great nature. We have to work hard to overcome the lowest levels of who we can be. Apparently, this person didn’t feel like working that hard and now a three-year-old girl is dead.

My granddaughter turned three last week.

I don’t know what to say. I don’t like people very much right now.