The Language of Relationships: A Blog Hop Story


Bruce: “Here’s a nice bench.  Let’s sit here.”

Carl: “What a gorgeous November day this is.” 

Bruce: “It sure is. So peaceful.  So calm.”

Carl: “What’s for lunch today?”

Bruce: “I have pastrami on rye.”

Carl: “Ah!  With hot mustard?”

Bruce: “Mayo.”

Carl: “Mayo?  Who puts mayo on pastrami and rye?”

Bruce: “My wife does. She puts mayo on everything. It’s sort of a thing with her.”

Carl: “Why don’t you say something to her? Or make your own sandwiches?”

Bruce: “I don’t want to take that away from her.  She thinks she’s being helpful. God love her.”

Carl: “She’s a sweet lady. But you shouldn’t treat her so delicately. Let her grow up.”

Bruce: “Since when did you become a relationship expert?”

Carl: “My third wife was a marriage therapist. She taught me a lot.”

Bruce: “Hey, Dr. Phil, how about helping me move that log over for a stool?”

Carl: “Sure.”

Setting down their lunches, they roll a large log over beside the bench.

Carl: “So Alexandra, my third wife, the therapist, used to say, ‘A woman is a vowel. A man is a consonant.  A woman can stand alone, but together with a man can express more meaning.”

Bruce: “Wow.  That’s profound.  Whatever happened to Alexandra?”

Carl: “She ran off with a mime.”

Bruce: “Oh, sorry for that.”

Carl: “Yeah, it was tough for awhile.  Until I met Samantha. Sam is the long ‘e’ to go with my ‘m’.  She fits me perfectly.”

Bruce: “Boy, you could write greeting cards.  You know that?”

Carl: “Thanks. So how’s the pastrami?”

Bruce: “I’ve had better.”

Carl: “Even with mayo?”

Bruce: “No. The mayo pretty much ruins it. You want the rest?”

Carl: “No thank you. I’ll stick with my ham and swiss.”

Bruce: ”Unlike your wives.”

Carl: (laughs)  Hey, I resemble that remark.  No, I don’t see how you do it.  How long have you and Joanna been married?

Bruce: 23 years this October.

Carl: Boy.  23 years. What’s your secret?

Bruce: Avoidance, mostly.  Things are better left unsaid.

Carl:  Like the mayo?

Bruce: (laughs) Exactly.

An alarm sounds.

Carl: Well, time to head back to the spaceship.

Bruce: Yeah, we don’t want them to send out a search party.

Carl: No. Hey, whatever happened to that Lewis fellow that was always late coming in for lunch.

Bruce: They vaporized him.

Carl: Oh.

Bruce: Hey, that reminds me of your ex-wife with the mime –  a long “o” with a silent “h.”

Carl:  Ah.  That, too.

(This story is part of the Blog Hop found at Writings and Ruminations. Photo courtesy Leanne Sype)

My Birthday Bash: A Publishing Debut and Sex with a Viking Princess

For a change of pace, I decided to visit downtown Columbus this afternoon.  I went to the local bookstore – Viewpoint Books  and asked where I might find a locally-owned business that served coffee and offered Wi-Fi.  Terry, the owner, ushered me to the back of the store, put on a K-cup and gave me the store password.  Take that, Starbucks!

Viewpoint is a rare breed.  It has been an independently owned bookstore since 1973.  They sell a wide variety of new and used books as well as book-related items.  I see by their website, they are now starting to sell Kobe e-books, which I’m going to look into.  I would much rather spend a little more money investing in local, service-oriented businesses than deal with a monolith like Amazon for a few pennies less.

In other news… it appears I’m going to enter my fifth decade as a published writer (dare I now say “author”).  Midlife Collage has accepted a story I wrote called “In the Beginning: My First Time (as a storyteller)” which they will publish on-line in July.  It will also be entered into a contest for a cash prize.  I will keep you posted, as it involves reader participation.  As the Chicago alderman said, “Vote early, and often.”

I had an absolutely wonderful birthday yesterday.  After a morning of editing, I crafted a new piece of flash fiction for the Wednesday Blog Hop called “Stopping Along a Well-Paved Road“.  After sprucing up the piece for Midlife Collage, I polished up a family story called “Oh Columbus” and sent it away to Crunchible for consideration.

For the cover letter at Crunchible, they ask you to share 5 identifiable characteristics of youself and indicate if you would consider being a regular contributor.  I wrote –

Tony Roberts

Muse: Singer/songwriter John Prine

Ethnicity: Kentuckian

Archetype: Jonah

Fatal Flaw: An unquiet mind

Superpower: A way with words.

I will consider a regular writing gig as long as it doesn’t interfere with my shower schedule.

I think I may change my Gravatar profile to this.

I capped off my birthday celebration by going to a new writer’s group.  It was great, in some respects and not so great in others.

It was great in that the participants were very adept at critiquing the technical aspects of writing to improve the quality.

It was not so great in that it was held at a Starbucks and I had to pay $3.22 for a cup of coffee.  I handed her 3 dollars and 2 dimes, hoping she would show pity on me.  She was unmoved.  I considered taking the 2 pennies out of the tip jar, but acquiesced instead and handing her another bill.  Starbucks is a pox on mankind (sic).

On a bright note, I got to hear a story about a time-traveling werewolf who has sex with a Viking princess.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

viking princess from Cathy Stout in Costumes

Stopping Along a Well-Paved Road: My Birthday Blog Hop Story


(randomly generated) Mandatory words: potato, magazine, carrot, day, cough

A balding 49-year old Hoosier with an unquiet mind and a way with words lifts a voice recorder from his shirt pocket and pushes the “record” button.

49 years old and what do I have to show for it?  Another rejection from an on-line magazine.  A former smoker’s cough.   A body that increasingly looks like a potato. 

Still, it’s a beautiful day.  The road is well-paved before me.  I can’t see into the distance, but well-rooted trees line my path.

He clicks the “stop” button.  He puts the recorder back in his pocket, sits down on a bench and pulls a carrot out of a brown paper sack.  As he puts it to his lips, two squirrels scamper up to his feet.

He smiles, breaks the carrot in half and places a half on the ground next to the squirrels.  One squirrel begins to munch on the carrot.  The other looks up at him with a pleading expression.

He smiles.  “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away,” he says to himself, laying the other half of the carrot next to the second squirrel.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Word Count: 199

An Indonesian Homecoming (Blog Hop Story)


Kim walked into the shack and saw a toothless grin on the face of the old man staring back at her.

The old woman behind him started to laugh, rising from her chair.

“Selamat dating.  Selamat dating.”  [Welcome]

Kim smiled and fumbled with a worn phrase book.

She looked down at the scuffed wooden floor and spoke with great care. “Aki, Memanjakan.”   [Grandfather, Grandmother]

Kim bowed deeply.  She had imagined this scene countless times yet could not have prepared for the strange yet familiar sense of joy welling up inside her.

Kim thought of a verse she had learned in church –

“…the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Kim smiled through her tears, as her grandmother directed her to a chair before a table filled with food.

Cas.  Cas.”  [Eat.]

Together, they sat around the table and feasted on the rice and vegetables set before them.

Kim thought of a saying she once heard – “When you’re stuck with scarcity, binge on your blessings.”

Terima kasih.” [Thank you.], said Kim.

Her grandfather looked up from his bowl and spoke lovingly – “Cucu perempuan, terima kasih kembali”  [Grandaughter, you’re welcome.]

They ate in a comfortable quietness, serenaded by the soothing sound of grey-crowned babblers foraging around them.

Kim looked down at her bowl, then glanced at her grandmother and grandfather.  There was something she had to know, but she was afraid of what she might find out.  She looked at them with a tentative smile.  A bead of sweat fell from her grandfather’s brow.

Mana ibu?”  [Where is mother?”]

Her grandmother looked down at the wooden floor.  Her grandfather slowly rose to his seat.  He knelt beside Kim and started to speak, but then burst into tears.  He stepped out of the shack.

Apa memanjakan?”  [What, grandmother?]

Kim’s grandmother looked up.  Her face became stone stiff.


Kim fumbled quickly through her word dictionary to find the meaning – “Soldier”.

Apa Prajurit?”  [What soldier?]  Kim fumbled for the words.  Her grandmother sat silent beside her.  Kim feverously dug through the book.

Prajurit membunuh mana?”  [Soldier kill mother?]

Kim’s grandmother looked away.  A tear formed in her eye and struggled to be released.  She looked back at Kim and spoke slowly.

Tidak.   Ibu adalah seorang prajurit!”

Kim didn’t need her book to translate.  She could read her grandmother’s eyes.  Her mother had been the soldier.

She looked deeply into her grandmother’s eyes and felt a degree of sadness she had not thought possible.  She wanted to cry, but the burden was too heavy to be unleashed.

Her grandmother took her right hand and laid it on Kim’s cheeks.  Her stone face turned soft and she declared with a smile,

“Ibumu mata” [Your mother’s eyes.]

Kim smiled and as she did the tears flowed through her mother’s eyes.

Word Count: 466

Writer Wednesday Blog Hop Stories and Photo Reveal (3/14/20013)

writing, writers, blogs

Carrie K Sorenson of Chasing Revery is hosting the blog hop this week.  Check out her site for helpful information.

In the meantime, check out these stories from last week’s prompt:

A Back-Street Affair by Tony Roberts

Gut Instinct by Scott Taylor

Obedience and Opportunity by Jenna

Home at Last by Anne

Abduction from Huge Stone by Chris Shawbell

Backstage Spotlight by Carrie K Sorensen

If you are interested in participating in the blog hop, here are the rules:

1) Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story
2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday to link up your post.
4) Link up with your blog hostess (Nicole, Carrie, Tena or Leanne) when you’re done via the inLinkz linky below.
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.

This week’s photo:


This week’s words – laugh, saw, lord, degree, binge


A Back-Street Affair

Creepy French Street
The five words – gallows, tide, mat, section, staple
          Tom stole away after dinner. It was pitch dark, with only the orange glow of the streetlights to shine on his path.  He told himself he was only going for a stroll – a catwalk (you might say) – but his legs were carrying him in a definite direction.  Like a convicted man moving toward the gallows, his steps were guided by a force beyond himself.
          There was a time when Tom was happy at home with Julia.  She was loving and kind.  Tom was a faithful companion.  They would lay together for hours each evening in the glow of the fireplace, listening to Dave Brubeck, reading French novels.  But the tide had turned.  Tom had grown restless of late.  He went off looking for something more.  Someone to feed his longing, his desires, his hunger.
          He walked toward the Italian section of town and tried to think of better days, searching for a reason to turn back.  But all he could picture was Luigi.  Young.  Dark haired.  Strong hands.   If Julia ever found out, she would be crushed.  She worked so hard to feed him – body and soul.  To think that there could be another would be just too much for her.
          Tom knew it wasn’t right, but his legs kept moving him onward.
          Tom entered the alleyway and moved steadily to door and stood on the mat just outside.  He called out, softly at first, and then more insistently.  More demanding.
          The door opened.  It was Luigi, with a plate full of spaghetti.
          “Ah, my little Tom-cat,”  Luigi said lovingly as he knelt down and stroked Tom’s cheeks, scratching behind his ear.
          “You are the only cat I know that loves spaghetti,” he said, putting down the plate in front of Tom,  “And I love you for it.”
            Spaghetti had become a staple in Tom’s diet.
            Tom rubbed his cheeks against Luigi’s strong hand, wishing it was an affectionate goodbye, but knowing instead he was marking his territory and that he would be back again.  And again.
Word Count: 343

Blog Hop Photo Reveal (3/6/13)

This past week I decided to draw some inspiration from a “Blog Hop” and I was fairly pleased with the results, so I decided to have another go at it.  I invite you to join me in the adventure.  Nicole Pyles is hosting our Writer Wednesday Blog Hop Prompt this week.  Check it out!
First, I encourage you to check out last week’s entries…

The Sad Story of Max Josephs by Scott Taylor

Stormy is the Heart by Christopher Shawbell

One Fine Day by Yolanda

The Ones We Love

Next, write a story for this week.   Here are the rules –

1) Use the photo (below) and the 5 words (below the photo) provided in your story.

2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.

3) You have until next Tuesday to link up your post.

4) Link up with your blog hostess when you’re done via the inLinkz linky below

5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.

And here is the photo for this week –

Creepy French Street
The five words – gallows, tide, mat, section, staple
      Submit your entry to the weekly writing prompt using the link below! Make sure you have followed the rules of the blog hop to be eligible for the monthly prize.

The Distant Mountain and the Barren Tree (a Blog Hop Story)

I found this Blog Hop Photo Reveal from Writings and Ruminations and decided I would give it a shot.  I hope you enjoy it.

Car and Mountain big

Words:  cook, help, relative, tears, finger

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?

The verse flowed from Joseph’s lips as tears trickled down his cheeks.

Joseph reached in his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, wiping away the tears.  Out of his other p0cket, he pulled out a letter, already opened. He began to read through his reddened eyes, following each word with his finger as if trying to decode a hidden meaning.

Dear Joseph,

I never expected I would be writing this to you.  I want you to know how much you have meant to me.  The last thing I wanted to do is hurt you, but I suppose that is exactly what I am doing.

 I have met someone else.  We are getting married.  What more can I say? 

Please forgive me,


Joseph stared at Leila’s name and an image came to his mind.  The day he said goodbye, just outside her house.  He was on his way West to work as a cook at a summer resort.   But he wanted to see her one last time.  She pledged her love for always.  He simply replied,  “Thank you.”  Not “I love you, too.”  Just “Thank you.”

She looked hurt, as if she had fallen and no one was there to pick her up.  That was just two months ago, but it might as well have been an eternity.  Time is so relative when you are young, when your whole life is ahead of you like a distant mountain.  Only, there is no way to cross.

Joseph stared at the snow-covered mountain in front of him.  He stepped to the edge of the cliff.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?

The question kept repeating itself in his mind.  There had to be more, but he couldn’t think of how it went.  He just stared at the distant mountain and imagined Leila’s face.

He took another step with his right foot.  Suddenly his left leg gave way and he fell to the ground.

Reaching out, he grasped hold of a hitching post and pulled himself up.  He lay on the ground, heaving for breath.

Then the words came to him –  “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.  He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.”

Joseph lay on the ground silently.  He looked up at the heavens and took a deep breath in.  Relieved.  Grieving, but grateful.

He climbed to his feet and walked back to his car.  He fumbled for the keys and started the engine.

Before pulling out, he looked over and noticed a tree near the cliff.

Its branches were nearly barren, but it was standing firm.