Since he couldn’t abide the heat and humidity that descended over the Mid-Atlantic region in late April, he didn't enjoy track season. To him competing outdoors on the track amounted to pain, torture, and agony—sweat pouring into his eyes, sun sapping his strength even before the gun. So he favored cross country. The season began in September, summer’s last gasp. Then October, his favorite month, gently shouldered September aside—temperatures fell, the sun shone obliquely, the fragrance of rotting leaves flared his nostrils as he ran. October allowed him to run full bore without restraint from the climate.
Lynn stood at the start line, sketching angles and lines of force in the dirt.
“You know that’s not going to help,” Roger taunted.
“Not your beeswax,” Lynn snapped. She continued to check her numbers, working her protractor and compass at lightning speed.
“No one says beeswax anymore,” said Roger.
Lynn reared up on her heels and fixed Roger with a glare.
“Do I look like someone who gives a shit?”
He held up his hands. “Whoa, whoa! Hold your horses, lady!”
“Then stop bothering me. You’re being a twit.”
He backed off, but kept watching Lynn take her measures.
“Beer?” Bob asked.
“I’m driving. Melissa asked me to drop this off,” Tom replied.
“Okay, coffee then,” Bob insisted as he flicked the TV remote.
“Have you been talking to Melissa?”
Tom was desperate to get to the bank but noticed the £1,000.00 cheque Melissa had written as Bob pulled it out. He was about to do the unthinkable when something on the news caught his attention. He froze. According to reports an ex-convict was holding bank customers hostage. He realized then that Melissa’s dream had come true. The errand to Bob had been her way of delaying him…
If you can recall your school mathematics lessons, 'vectors' are distances to which direction has been applied. Their practical use really only dates from the mid-eighteenth century, but they're known as 'Euclidean' vectors because it was the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid who first spotted their importance.
A keen runner, he ran in the 10,000 metres finals at the 272BC Olympics. Trailing in a distant ninth, Euclid suddenly realised that after a great deal of effort running 25 laps, he was simply back where he'd started.
Euclid thus proved it was more efficient to be a couch potato than a runner.
The first time we met, he said my gabardine suit wasn't hiding my obvious curves. I turned and left. Next week, he continued with innuendos during my presentation. Proud of the sale, I quickly left for my office, processing the contract. I arrived home exhausted, ready to unwind. Five minutes later, the doorbell rang. I wasn't expecting anyone, so I continued to relax until my roommate banged on my door, telling me about a man on our couch. How did he find my address? He had followed me home. Six years later, I was still trying to get rid of him.
Naturally, when the rapture came, I stayed behind. All of us did. I joined Vinnie at a crowded deli. "Not many Christians tonight," I said. He pointed to a table. "Preacher and his mistress," he smirked. We took our beers and sandwiches to a deck with a view of Jersey. "I'm gonna miss the Evangelicals," I admitted, "I wonder what those crazies are doing now?" Vinnie just swished his tail at a fly while I picked pastrami out of my tusks. "Gotta hurry," he said, "Big gambling den in Brooklyn." "Poor schmucks," I said, while we split the tip.
Before sunrise, I finish the last swipe of pita and humous, take my tools and head out to the tunnel under construction below the school grounds. Other men gather and we bow down barefoot on the ground to pray the first Morning Prayer. Ahmed sets the timer for the rockets towards Israel. Then he joins us underground digging the tunnel towards our enemy, Israel. Hands and faces, black and grimy, but we are fired by an inner passion to overcome our enemy, the Jew.
After a few hours of labor, we rest exhausted on mats. Suddenly, an explosion.
Dave was proud of his library, prouder still of having read nearly all of the several hundred works of literature it contained and his ability to expound at length on Proust, Twain, Woolf, Hemingway and so many other illustrious authors. He tried not to sound as if he were bragging when casually mentioning that he read about forty novels a year.
But now he was looking at a mere two sentences, a scrawled message that had stumped him for the past eight hours. What could it mean, he thought.
Dave, I had to leave. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Then he decided a second version was worth posting:-
Dave was proud of his library and of having read nearly all of the several hundred literary works it contained; proud, too, of his ability to expound at length on the likes of Proust, Twain, Woolf, Shakespeare. He tried to sound casual when mentioning that he read about forty novels a year.
But a scrawled message had stumped him for the past eight hours. What could it mean, he thought.
Dave, I’m leaving. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
He took a copy of The Taming Of The Shrew from his bookshelves. Perhaps the answer is in here, he muttered.
Dr LDN did research that showed liver cancer in rats caused by a liver carcinogen could be prevented. He extrapolated his findings to use on human cancers, with the statement that its use with cancer victims would improve their remaining quality of life. He did so with some 500 cancer victims, including those who had been treated with the toxic accepted procedures without success - some given as little as 2-6 weeks to live were sent home to spend their last days with family. The results presented at a Cancer meeting were not accepted by the establishment; they also claiming they were a placebo effect, even though it’s known this does not work with cancers.
I’m just trying to live my daily life here, but the obstacles I face are unbelievable. I head out to grab some food for the family, and people just swat me around like I’m a nuisance. I find some nice unclaimed stuff on the ground, but when I go in to snag it, others just brush me off as if I’m no one. I wish I were better able to stand up to them and not back down, but all I can do is zip away before they squash me. Life’s tough as a bug, but I’ll make it somehow.
Striking the red tip match, the old woman's eyes danced against the darkness. She could see the dog's breath wafting towards the pile of trash. "There. That should keep us warm through the night. Now don't you worry. I will get you a warm cup of water in the morning. Come on. Get here, get under my long wool cloak. That'll keep the new snow off your back. Be still now and don't let the cold, damp air get trapped in your tent. There. You should be quite comfortable now. Wish I had somebody to keep me warm. A cup of hot soup would be nice. Not to worry. Maybe there will be a cup waiting for me somewhere. Tomorrow."
“Three minutes! Move it!”
“Got it!” Joy yelled.
I dashed over to Setup, dropping the cloak and ripping the grey wig-crown from my head.
Connie had my skirt and heels ready to step into. She grabbed the blonde wig-hat, while Joy lifted the skirt and fastened it.
“Jacket. Come on come on,” I snapped.
Joy pushed my hands into the sleeves and pulled on the jacket. Connie pinned the wig, digging the bobby pins into my scalp.
“One minute!” I heard.
“Ready to go,” Joy said. Connie smiled.
I teetered onstage for my final solo. Blood trickled into my eyes.
Mennonites speak their own language, speak English with a Swedish accent, call us English, a slanderous term; drive horse-drawn buggies; yank their kids from the Mennonite school at fourteen to put them to work soon after which they marry to make babies; eschew automobiles but ask for rides; shun inside land lines to keep wires from their houses but speak on pay phones and proliferating cellulars; avoid alternating current while embracing batteries and diesel-fuel-powered generators for well pumps and power tools; sit brothers on the right, sisters on the left in church; and fervently believe we English are hopelessly damned.
A familiar theme is that LinkedIn doesn't work properly, prompting suggestions from some that we're being spied on...
“I think I’ve got a hot one!”
“What? Like Netanyahu, or Angela?”
“No, we got busted on elected leaders – you know that.”
“This guy writes fiction. Len –“
“Hey you dweebs!” Everyone in the NSA boiler room turned towards the boss.
“Just how many of you guys are tracking this ‘Len Nourse?’”
There was a lull, a pause. Silence. Not a good sign.
“Do you mean, ‘tracking’ or ‘messing with?’”
All heads looked around to see who the guilty ones were. About fifteen hands went up.
“I’m just messing with his garage door… and publishing renig’s”
“FIND TERRORISTS, KNUCKLEHEADS.”
In the ninth grade intramural football championship, our quarterback counted signals in an idiosyncratic way. He shouted a list of pie flavors. He always told the center to hike the ball on the second “co” in coconut pie. Usually he threw only to the good players. But toward game’s end, he lobbed the ball to me in the flat. I had short legs so could immediately reach full speed. Two major studs gave pursuit, but I outran them the length of the field to score a touchdown. That was in 1962. I never scored in a major football game again.
“Oh Rebecca, I’m SO very sorry about you losing your Mom. I just know how difficult this must be. How awful –“ Nancy continued talking in her sing song way. The words didn’t register. Her smile and obvious glee were such a contrast to the day. Everyone else was solemn, quiet. Rebecca felt the ire rising.
How DARE you, you fair-weathered friend. Not one returned phone call. No answered e-mails, snail mails, tweets – nothing but you show up for the tragedy. Really? You’re enjoying this. Eat shit and die!
“Thank you for coming, Nancy, help your self to some food.”
Thomas had observed their passion silently.
From within the crowd, he might have passed as obedient.
But he had considered what he saw. It reformed him.
Now, he tried hard to concentrate.
He knew a little French. He thought: maybe a good fire. Victorious..
Later: in the next world, perhaps it might be called a Bonner-fire; a keen instrument for curing apostasy.
Then he realised: a bone-pyre, created to turn bodies into ash.
He was being punished with transubstantiation.
His legs started to blister. There was a hiss as he began to melt into the tapering flames.
“It’s the flamin’ job of opening ceremonies be kitsch!” John fumed, whilst composing a huffy and yet dignified response to his Twitter critics.
The lyrics had been trashed, his politics questioned, his part-time Scots accent mocked, the purple tartan suit royally condemned AND he’d been upstaged by Scottie dogs.
“Me, the dancing teacakes and the burd in the kilt NAILED IT,” he tweeted, resolving to turn off his iPad before he/it exploded.
He took one last look at his newsfeed. The gay kiss had gone viral and praise flooded in. Perhaps he’d keep his iPad on a little while longer…
So this is what it's come to after all these years?
Don't you remember? I was there when you cried yourself to sleep at night. I caressed your body when you needed my touch; I could be firm if you needed me to be, or I could be soft and warm. You and I have shared the most intimate moments. I've supported you through thick and thin.
Yet now you've dumped me out in the street alone, thrown over for another that's taken your fancy.
I hope your new mattress is vile. In fact I hope it comes with bedbugs.
At the crowded shelter, they had called her “Puppy 23.” But the man who took her home with him called her Chiquita. She didn’t care what he called her; she loved him. He gave her food and water. They played ball and went for walks. On one of her walks, she made a sad old woman laugh.
“Chiquita,” said the man, “I think we have new career.” She didn’t understand the words, but it sounded nice.
Carlos, the town’s leading caterer, sometimes donated tasty snacks to the local retirement home. That’s how he knew the home needed another therapy dog.
”I want you to think about submitting a few of your flash fictions to a competition,” Professor Galloway said to Genna.
Genna looked down, her eyes watering again. “But I can’t write anything credible that’s longer!”
The professor tilted her head, lowering it slightly to try to meet Genna’s eyes. “Have you ever tried stringing some of your 100-word stories into a longer tale?”
“That’s so bogus,” Genna muttered, her eyes resolutely glued on the floor. “Sounds like some sort of experimental hippie writing exercise.”
Professor Galloway straightened up, smiling benignly. “Well, not everything from back then was so awful.”
“Damn folks, it went Zap as control flew to temper.”
“Dad control yourself, it’s not the end of the world.”
“Yes Auds is right, so why not in the meantime write some more FFs.”
“In this mood I could only write ones of anger.”
“Well then do that but just don’t use swear words.”
“Doe these count $BH@&*&@H$ELL?”
“Maybe you should ask the group but do so with a grin.”
“Goodness no, that will frighten them all away.”
“Please not your Cheshire smile, although maybe I’m wrong because I see even Henry and you are now chuckling – that’s rare.”
*The title of this story is a quote from Mr Darcy himself. As a result we are now claiming Jane Austen as the latest FFF contributor.
Her beauty and intellect arrested me immediately; I lost notice of all others in the room. I desired to converse with her only, to discover who she might be—her name, her age, her accomplishments, where she resided, her family, and all other quotidian details which in total comprise one’s first impression of a new acquaintance. Alas, her interest in me did not approach the level of mine in her. I found this particularly disheartening as I can offer the finest connexion and as I am in possession of a most substantial fortune, a handsome visage, and the finest manners.
What is it about Pride And Prejudice? This story from Emma, posted on 11th July, started some nonsense off...
Their first meeting was a not a success. She thought him too proud. He thought her, well, vulgar.
The path of true love never did run smooth. Her eyes worked their magic, and he fell for her charms. Despite the handicap of her mother, a proposal was issued.
Declined! The ARROGANCE of the man.
The opportunity for redemption arrived when he was able to rescue her sister. Who doesn’t love the “I-can-look-after-you” display of bravado?
Marriage ensued; a happily after ending?
but Gordon Lawrie added the following later that day:-
Robb & Steele, W.W.S., (Solicitors)
Dear Ms Baird,
We act on behalf of our client Mrs Bennett, wife of Mr Bennett and mother of, amongst others Jane and Elizabeth. In your recent report of the events leading up to the marriage of Ms Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, you refer to Mrs Bennett as 'handicapped'.
Mrs Bennett wishes to make it clear that she fully sound of mind and body, and demands your immediate retraction.
I look forward to your immediate reply,
J. Austen (solicitor)
Next day, Emma offered this defence:-
Dear Ms Austen, thank you for your letter. My use of the word "handicap" was not intended to imply that Mrs Bennet was not of sound mind and body. I know full well this esteemed lady thrives, despite early 19th century privations. My use of the word was intended to convey her - well, vulgarity, which any right-thinking male might baulk at when contemplating marriage to her daughter.
I hope this settles the matter.
E Baird (plagiarist).
On the day after, 13th July, Saundra Rees stated:-
Dear Ms. Austen and Ms. Baird,
While the meaning of "handicap" was understood as Ms. Baird used it, I would remind Ms. Austen that Mrs. Bennet was quite vocal in expounding on the extremely delicate condition of her nerves and that on several occasions (especially the unfortunate episode with her youngest daughter Lydia) she was quite disabled by their impinging on her ability to function normally. Thus I would contend that Mrs. Bennet was NOT in fact "fully sound of mind and body."
Mrs. Gardiner (sister to Mrs. Bennet)
On 16th July, the theme was still going, this time from Cate Lloyd:-
Most esteemed friends,
Lady Catherine has authorised me to offer a fresh perspective on the communiqués between Miss Baird, Miss Austen and their various legal representatives.
Having visited with Mrs Bennet, I can certainly bear witness to the manifestation of her nervous complaints. I am, however, regretfully, able throw illumination upon their cause.
The true source is her obstinate, headstrong daughter, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
Had she but agreed to marry me, the added burden upon Mrs Bennet of the prospect of losing her home would have been relieved, and thus her innately cheerful nature restored.
Mr (William) Collins.
The nonsense carried on. Saundra Rees again, by now it's the 17th...
While I did point out the source of Mrs. Bennet's nervous disorder, I would not have anyone believe it would have been better had Miss Bennet accepted your generous offer. Miss Lucas is clearly better suited to your disposition and position in life.
To this day I find myself most displeased over the way Miss Bennet wormed her way into my nephew's life, making him forget all he owed to himself, his family, honour, decorum, prudence, interest, duty, and gratitude. My dear, sweet Anne is bereft.
Could anyone in my position ever forgive her?
Lady Catherine deBourgh
Then Eric Smith (I said it must be something about Pride & Prejudice) – in his own unique style – joined in on the same day....
Miss Austen's Omnipresence
Some of the waitresses made no secret of their disdain for us. I doubt we ever dropped more than fifteen percent on a bill, which I suppose could annoy any waitress, particularly considering we were regulars and thus always occupied space. Sometimes the ladies pretended not to notice we were there. So Loretta, a thin young woman with a crazy frosted die job, waited on us even when we weren’t sitting in her station. She was like Elizabeth Bennet’s big sister, Jane—Okay, not beautiful like Jane, but she saw only the best in people. It was a knack.
Gordon Lawrie was inspired by Eric's contribution to try to précis the whole thing, US-style...
Pride And Prejudice, Finger-Lickin' Style
I remember the day Bingley and the Darcy guy hit town like it were yesterday. Bingley was looking for chicks; the Darcy guy was harder to read. Soon they'd landed with the Bennet girls, although neither Ol' Man Bennet nor his wife had any swing with their daughters.
Anyway, Bingley and the eldest girl Jane hung out, but the next one, called Lizzie, was tougher. Hot with a Winchester. But Darcy pulled her; Lizzie picked up a bad apple in that guy Wickham and Darcy rode to the rescue.
These days Darcy and Lizzie live on that big ranch Pemberley.
Back on the main event, Cate Lloyd added this. By now the theme's been going for a week:-
Dear Lady Catherine,
I am exceedingly mortified, most esteemed Patroness, to have written anything so improper as to have caused such great dismay.
I do agree completely with your opinions: my wife’s complaisance has fortunately surprised me; Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s excessive individuality simply continues to alarm.
As to Lady Anne’s grief, I offer Proverbs as comfort: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
I shall give consideration to your need for justified unforgiveness in next Sunday’s sermon.
Mr (William) Collins.
(Mrs Collins also sends her best regards.)
Saundra Rees (sorry, Lady Catherine) graciously acknowledged this letter immediately:-
Dear Mr. Collins,
As always you show charming consideration. My felicitations to your wife.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Then there was a "dramatic re-enactment" story from Saundra Rees:-
The Theatre, The Theatre
Pride & Prejudice opened last night. It's a good show and went well except for the few normal glitches, but it's a long show. Hopefully, the audience is entertained enough to not get restless.
Lots of compliments on my Lady Catherine wig. Nobody commenting on what a good job I did emoting over anger at Elizabeth though. Isn't that what an actor really wants to hear?
By curtain, we're all exhausted and it's late. Time to change into my own clothes and get outta here. Uh-oh, here come a couple of costume ladies. A new costume to try on! Really?
Now, from Gordon Lawrie, a Scots version of the whole thing:-
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE N' A SINGLE DEEP-FRIED MARS BAR, A' WI' SALT'nVINEGAR PLEASE
Bingley and Darcy swanned in lookin' fur lumber. Bingley got aff wi' Jane Bennett; Lizzie telt Darcy tae awa'n bile his heid. Yon Bennet lassies, mind, were ootae control. But Darcy 'n Lizzie? Ach, wan wis as bad as the ither. Meanwhile Collins, who'd bag off wi' onythin in skirts, ended up wi Charlotte.
Onywise, they a' skirled aboot dancin' awhile, there wis sum stuff wi' Lydia and a nyaff ca'd Wickham so Darcy paid them tae get married. Lizzie was fair cowpit, married Darcy and ended in yon big hoose!
In Scotland there'd have been a pagger fur sure.
On Tuesday 22nd July, Cate Lloyd offered this groundbreaking "Strine" version of Pride And Prejudice:-
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: AN OUTBACK COURTSHIP
Darce and Bingo parked the ute. The B&S was going off .
After ten minutes, Darce reckoned they were Bogans. That Bennet woman was a two-pot screamer.
But… a single bloke’s got to do etc.
So Bingo eyed up Janey. Darce put the hard word on her sister, Liz.
Deadset. Tall poppy syndrome.
Then Liz pissed Collins off, so Darce had another crack.
Liz called him FIGJAM.
Still, Darce helped Liz’s sister after she got off with that dropkick, Wicksy.
Liz gave Lady C. a gobful. Turns out, she thinks Darce is a top bloke.
She’ll be right.
BAILED: left in a hurry, often angrily
B&S: Bachelors’ and Spinsters’ Ball, a social gathering designed to give young singles living in the remote outback the chance to meet
BINGO etc: polysyllabic names are reduced to shorter nicknames; but single-syllable names, like Jane, are elongated. This demonstrates Australia’s great sense of egalitarianism. (However, not even an Australian can do something witty with ‘Mr Collins’.)
BOGANS: scruffy, uncouth people
DEADSET: without doubt, often used in frustration
DROPKICK: despicable loser
FIGJAM: an acronym for F*#k I’m Good, Just Ask Me
GAVE A GOBFUL: verbally abused someone, usually with some justification
GOING OFF: rowdy, good fun
GOT OFF: use your imagination
HAD ANOTHER CRACK: had another go
PISSED SOMEONE OFF: callously brushed them aside
PUT THE HARD WORD ON: chatted up
SHE'LL BE RIGHT: a positive outcome is assured. (This is sometimes used ironically.)
STRINE: Swarms of flying insects in the bush means one’s mouth remains closed. Everything is said via the nose. Consequently, this is the outback pronunciation of ‘Australian’.
TALL POPPY SYNDROME: figuratively, lopping the heads of those that stand out above the crowd. More egalitarianism.
TWO-POT SCREAMER: a person whose modest tolerance for alcohol is evident after just two beers
UTE: a small utility vehicle with a driver’s cabin and a large tray on the back
Who knows, there may be more?
The girl, in raw panic, stumbled as she ran, pursued by a deranged doupleganger, who she was certain wanted to kill her. She’d escaped from the chains when he’d fallen asleep and fled from the dungeon garage of the young man’s home. She’d just met Harvey yesterday in person. The man had used her photo and personal information on a dating website to impersonate her. He’d even dyed his hair blond and gotten blue contacts.
Wearing only a t-shirt, Mia raced through the open field, toward the woods, to hide from the horror, the sicko and the naked moonlight.