The Neighbor

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Taylor awoke and cautiously looked around the room. It was a small room in a large building and it was quiet and dark with no windows. The only light coming in was from a small skylight. He stood and softly walked to the door and put his ear to it. He could hear faint noises but couldn’t tell what he was listening to.

     ‘How the hell did I get here?’ he thought. ‘What I was I doing?’ Oh yeah I was trying to look in my neighbors back yard because I heard strange noises coming from there. Then everything went blank.

     He looked at the wall and there were pictures of wolves on it. Then he noticed the word ‘Run’ written in what looked like blood. He inspected it closer and decided it looked more like crayon than blood. The pictures were of some lovely wolves, in many different poses, it resembled a group of family portraits only not humans.

    Taylor had never seen any dogs of any kind, wolf or otherwise, at his neighbor’s house but there was a tall fence all around it which is what he was trying to look through when someone must have hit him over the head.

     His neighbor was rangy with long shaggy dark hair but he didn’t look particularly scary. He’d moved in a month ago and never seemed to have any visitors. They had never spoken.

     Taylor slowly turned the door handle and opened it just enough to stick his head out. He could hear what sounded like a television but all he could see was a hallway. He walked out and around the corner and suddenly was in the living room.

     “There you are, how do you feel?” The neighbor was sitting on the couch staring at him. A wolf was lying on the couch next to him and two more were sitting on the floor at his feet.

     “Like someone hit me over the back of the head with a bat.”

     “What did you think would happen when you trespassed on my property and spied on me?”

     “I wanted to find out what the noises I heard were. I was checking to see if everything was alright.”

     “Then why didn’t you just knock on my front door?” His dark eyes narrowed and kind of sneer formed on his lips.

     “I don’t know, I guess I wanted to see if there was really something wrong before I bothered you.”

    “Nice try. I think you are just nosy. I bought a lamb yesterday which wasn’t happy I took it away from its mother. If you had come to the door I would have told you that was what you heard. My name is James. Who are you?”

     “Taylor. I heard the lamb making noise I guess but I don’t know what they sound like. I’m really sorry I bothered you. ”

     “I bet you are. Are you scared?”

     “No, why would I be?”

     “So what do you do Taylor?” He put a lot of emphasis on his name.

     “I’m a writer.”

     “That’s nice. Where’s your wife?”

     “I don’t have one. Where’s yours?” Taylor was annoyed at James line of questioning.

     “Now don’t get mad. I just wondered why no one has come looking for you. You have been out for a few hours.” James stood up and strode up to Taylor and put his hand out as if he were going to be friendly.

     “I’m not your friend. I’m going home now. I won’t press charges since I was trespassing, even if you didn’t have any cause to attack me.” Taylor pushed his arm away and started backing towards the door.

     “Tristan, get the door!” The large silver and black wolf stood up and blocked the exit.

     “What the hell! You can’t stop me from leaving.” Taylor started to panic and his eyes showed fear.

      “We are ready to eat dinner, why don’t you join us?”

        James smiled and Taylor noticed his front teeth were large and his canines looked like   fangs. “No thank you. I have dinner plans. They will come looking for me if I don’t show up.”

     “Don’t lie to me. You don’t have any plans and no one is going to look for you. Relax. You will enjoy dinner. Let me get you ready first.” James walked down the hall and motioned for Taylor to follow. Taylor looked towards the front door and the huge wolf was still standing in front of it.

     “Where are we going?”

     “Back to the family room, the room you were in earlier.” James said and entered the wolf picture room. Taylor followed and noticed one of the other wolves followed them down the hall.

     “Now what? You’re going to kill me?”

     “Of course not! I’m going to turn you into a vampire!”

      James was at Taylor’s neck before he could even move. It felt good when his teeth sunk into his jugular. He heard dying was peaceful and it certainly seemed to be. He woke up lying on the floor just like before. He looked around, the pictures of the wolves were still there but the word ‘Run’ was gone. The door was closed. He got up and opened the door and cautiously walked down the hallway to the living room.

      James was sitting on the couch with a woman, a boy and a wolfish looking dog were sitting at their feet.

     “Hi neighbor! Are you feeling better now?”

     “What happened?”

     “You passed out in our front yard so I brought you in the house. You came to for a minute and said you needed the pills you had in your pocket so I gave you one. You said you needed to sleep a little. You were breathing alright so I let you sleep. My wife said I should have called an ambulance but you seemed fine. We’re having fresh lamb for dinner would you like to stay?”

     James smiled and when Taylor saw his fangs he ran out the door.

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Thief In The Night

Thief in the NightTheif In The Night

  

In the pitch black a lanky tall man with long brown hair neatly tied back with a bandanna moved stealthily around the building trying to find an open window or door to gain access to the house through. He eventually found an unlocked window and crept through it. He silently climbed up the stairs and gazed upon the soundly sleeping couple. He then entered the other bedroom and the young girl in it was also dead to the world so he went back down the stairs and entered the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator and made a sandwich and ate all of it except a couple of bites which he left sitting on the counter while he quietly stole out of the house.

X X X X

     “Anna. Get Cassie and bring her into the kitchen?” Dan yelled.

      Anna went to her daughter’s bedroom and asked her to come down the stairs with her.

     “Which one of you two did this?” Dan glared at them as they entered the room.

     “Did what?” Anna didn’t know what Dan was upset about.

     “Look at the counter. It’s a mess.” Dan was staring at what looked like the remains of a sandwich setting on the counter.

     “So what? If Cassie was hungry it’s alright if she wants to make a sandwich.” Anna couldn’t believe Dan was making a big deal out of this. “We have plenty of food.”

     “I didn’t do that!” Cassie looked back and forth from her mother to her father.

     “And what difference does it make who did it anyway?” Anna asked her husband. “Why do you always have to blame someone?”

     “So neither of you made this mess?” Dan was yelling now.

     “I didn’t get up in the middle of the night and make a fricking sandwich! Cassie you won’t get in trouble if just tell your father you got hungry last night.”

     “But I didn’t.” She looked at her parents like they were crazy.

     “I suppose someone broke into our house, made a sandwich, ate it and left?” Dan said.

     “I guess they did.” Anna defiantly answered. She couldn’t believe what a big deal her husband was making over a stupid sandwich.

     “Then you better call the police and tell them about it.” Dan replied.

      Anna went over and picked up the phone. “Hello. I would like to report a burglary.” She couldn’t believe how silly her husband was acting but she didn’t feel like fighting about it.

     “What’s your name?” The man asked.

     “Anna Baxter.”

     “When and where did the theft occur?”

     “Last night at our house. We live at 2755 Elm.”

     “What items were stolen?”

     “Well, food is all we can tell for sure.”

     “What do you mean, food from the freezer?

     “No not exactly.”

     “Quit wasting my time. What was stolen?” The man on the other end was very brusque.

     “Someone came in to our house while my husband and I were asleep and it looks like they made a sandwich and I think they ate most of it and left.”

   “You are kidding right?” Came the skeptical question.

   “No. I thought I should report it but I guess I was wrong. Sorry I wasted your time.”  Anna quickly hung up the phone and looked at her husband sitting there watching her. “They thought I was kidding so I hung up.”

     “Well when the next house gets broken into and someone gets killed they will be sorry they treated this like it was a joke.” Dan seriously replied.

     “That’s probably true but I didn’t get the impression that they believed anything I said. I felt really stupid. I tried to warn them just like you wanted me to do.”

     “That’s all you can do. Don’t worry about it.”

X X X X

       The man ran around the outside of the house pulling at all of the windows but none of them came open. Then he went to the back door but it was also locked. He walked up to the front door and when he turned the door knob it opened right up. The man cautiously entered the house. He located the bedrooms at the end of the hall. There was a man sleeping in one bed and a woman sleeping with a child in another. He pulled the doors shut and went to the kitchen and looked in the refrigerator. He found a package from the labeled ‘stroganoff’ and opened it, ate it and put the empty box back in the refrigerator. He opened a bottle of wine and poured some of it into two glasses and left them sitting on the counter and drank the rest of the bottle which he took with him when he left the house.

X X X X

     When the woman woke up she got up to go back to bed with her husband. She noticed the door to the bedroom was closed and she knew she didn’t close it so she assumed her husband came in to check on her and their child and decided to just let her sleep. That was sweet of him. Then she went to their room and noticed he had shut that door as well. That seemed a little odd but then she didn’t usually get up and sleep in their son’s room. She went ahead and shut the door since she found it that way and got in bed with her husband.

     “Why did you get up and shut the door last night?” Georgie heard her husband say as she was waking up.

     “Because when I got up from lying with Isaak after he woke up yelling you had shut his door and our door when I came back from his room.”

     “I didn’t shut this door or Isaak’s door. I didn’t even know you were in his room last night.”

     “What do you mean?”

     “I didn’t shut either door, why would I?”

     “Last night when I heard Isaak yell I got up to see what the problem was and then I fell asleep on his bed. When I woke up and left his room the door was shut. Are trying to tell me that you didn’t get up and shut his or our door last night?”

     “No I didn’t.” Hal was starting to think Georgie was imagining things so he just shut up and went to the kitchen. When he got there he couldn’t believe what he was looking at. “Georgie, would you please come in here.”

     She was starting to get a little freaked out at the odd way her husband was acting. She put on her sweats and went to the kitchen. She was shocked by the sight she was looking at. “You want me to start drinking wine this morning?”

     “What do you mean? These two glasses were sitting on the counter when I walked in here.” Hal was looking at her like she was crazy.

     “Yeah, right, sure they were.” She couldn’t figure out why he was screwing with her like this.

     “I am dead serious. Are you trying to tell me you didn’t pour these two glasses of wine?” Hal looked really mad. Georgie was getting a little worried. What the hell was going on here she wondered?

     “No I didn’t pour the wine. What the hell is going on?” Georgie was starting to think she was in an episode of the twilight zone. If Hal didn’t pour the wine and she didn’t that only left Isaak, right? “Do you think Isaak could have done this?”

     “I seriously doubt it but if he could why would he open up a bottle and leave two glasses with wine in them on the table? Wouldn’t he just drink it?” Hal was giving Georgie a very odd look.

     “I have no idea, but why would I do it?” Besides getting freaked out she was getting pissed off at being accused of doing something that made no sense.

     “Well if you think he could have done this then get him out here and ask him why he did.” Hal was deadly serious.

     This couldn’t really be happening. “Isaak doesn’t know how to use a corkscrew. He isn’t even tall enough to even reach the wine glasses. Let’s get reasonable.” She was pleading with her husband to act reasonably.

     “If we are going to be reasonable then you must have done this.” Hal was glaring at Georgie.

     “Okay. I am going to get Isaak dressed and take him to school. Then I will come home and we’ll talk about this.” She didn’t know what else to do.

     “Okay. I’ll get the cereal out and you go get Isaak and bring him in to the kitchen and let’s see how he reacts to the wine glasses at the breakfast table.”

     Georgie didn’t like Hal’s suggestion but she didn’t know how else to handle this situation. She went in to Isaak’s bedroom. He was already up and getting dressed.

     “Did you have any more nightmares after I left your room?” She watched to see what kind of reaction he had.

     “No, I just had the dream that scared me that someone was in my bedroom. Then you came in and it went away.” Isaak sounded sincere.

    “Finish putting your clothes on and lets go eat some cereal. I am going to drive you to school this morning instead of your dad.” She wasn’t about to spill the beans about how odd things were going at the moment.

     “Okay. I need to go to the bathroom.” Isaak left his room for the bathroom. Georgie went to the kitchen.

     “Boy I don’t know what to think. Isaak is acting normal.” Georgie looked at Hal’s back as he was just standing in front of the refrigerator looking into it. “Can you bring the milk to the table?”

      Hal just stood by the refrigerator. “Did you eat the stroganoff we got from the market last night?” He sounded odd.

     “Yeah, right after we finished the lasagna we heated up for dinner.” She thought he was teasing so she kidded him back.

     “It’s not in the box. The box is in the refrigerator but it’s open and it’s empty. The wine bottle is also missing.” He sounded kind of freaked out.

     “This is getting too weird. What’s happening?” Georgie was getting scared. What the hell was going on?

    Isaak walked into the kitchen. He sat down at the table and looked at the bowl of cereal on the counter and looked at his parents. “Where is the milk for the cereal?”

     Hal turned and looked at him blankly. Georgie jumped up and went to the refrigerator and took out the milk and brought it to Isaak. “Here you go dear.”

     “Thanks.” By this time Isaak had noticed his parents were acting strangely. “Why do you have wine glasses on the table?” He looked at his mother.

     “Oh they are left from last night.” Georgie quickly answered.

     “You and dad had beer last night. You let me have some.” Isaak looked to his father for confirmation.

     “That’s right. I remember that you didn’t like it did you?” Hal responded.

     “It tasted icky.” Isaak replied.

     “Finish up your cereal and I’ll take you to school.” Georgie was getting freaked out about what was going on. Either Hal or her must have gotten up in the middle of the night and raided the refrigerator but she had no memory of it or Hal was lying. Either answer was scary.

     Isaak finished his cereal and Georgie drove him to school.

    “Are you okay mom?” Isaak asked after they had been driving for a few minutes.

    “Sure honey.”  Although she was far from being certain when she said that. She hoped they would both drop the subject when she got home and leave it an unsolved mystery.

X X X X

     The man was casing another house and this one was going to be much more challenging than the last one. The house was three stories and had so many rooms in it he felt needed to get a good look inside before he entered in the night. He had volunteered as a coach’s assistant at the middle school which the couple’s children attended.

X X X X

     “James. Would you go help show the boys how to set up the ball thrower and how to safely use it?” The coach told him. This was a good thing.

     “Alright kids gather around and I will show you how to use this machine.” They were all quite interested in the contraption. It could be a little dangerous if you weren’t careful. James wasn’t interested in hurting any children. It was the adults he had a problem with. He spent half an hour working with the boys showing them how to load the balls and where to stand when they were batting.

     “Thanks James. You are really good at doing this.” The coach told him and the praise made James feel good. He hadn’t received much of it when he was growing up. He was walking off the field when one of the parents came up to him.

     “You are really good with my boys. Thank you.”

     “You’re welcome. Whose father are you?” James asked, even though he already knew he didn’t want to appear over eager.

     “Kelly and Les are mine and my name is Mark, Mark Noonan.” The father volunteered.

     “They are two fine young men. You should be proud of them.” James was so excited he could hardly contain himself.

     “Would you like to join our family for dinner this evening to thank you for volunteering here at the school?” This was exactly what he had been hoping for.

     “That’s a nice offer but it isn’t necessary.” He didn’t want this man to suspect how badly he wanted this.

      “Nonsense, you’ve been very helpful to my kids and having you to dinner is the least I can do. I wrote the address on this piece of paper. We usually eat around six thirty but feel free to come by any time after six o’clock.” The father walked away and James celebrated a personal victory. He was in! Everything was going as he had hoped for.

     James showed up at the house a little after six and was greeted by Mark at the front door. “Welcome to our house. I forgot to ask your name earlier. My wife thought I was a jerk but I told her it wasn’t important.”

     “You are right that it isn’t important. My name is James.”

     “Come on in James and let me show you the house.”  Mark turned and led the way to give James a tour of the house.

      This was even more than he had hoped for. James eagerly followed Mark while he led him through the house. This had been so easy.

     “This is my wife Opal.” Mark introduced James as he was taking him on the tour of the house.

       Dinner was excellent and James really enjoyed eating with the family. He almost felt guilty for what he was about to do. Almost.

       James now knew where the family’s beds were all located and now all he had to do was come back in the night.

     “Thank you for a lovely dinner.” James told Opal and Mark as he took leave of the house.

      “You are welcome and thank you for volunteering to help our boys with the softball practice.”

      “With food like this I would be happy to help them every day. Just kidding but this was one of the best meals I have had in a long time.”

      “You are welcome here any time.”

      “Don’t say that or I will have to take you up on it.”   James replied.

      “We really mean it. Come back to dinner on Friday if you would like.”

      James could hardly contain his excitement. “Oh you don’t have to do that.”

      “Of course we don’t have to. We insist.”

      “We’ll see if you really mean that on Friday.” James said teasingly.

     “See you then.” The couple said and James knew he was in.

X X X X

     James grew up in a poor family and his mother would make dinner for them one night and the rest of what she cooked was saved for them to eat the next night when she was working at her night job as a janitor three days a week. She made a lot of one dish meals, like lasagna, tuna casserole and macaroni and cheese.  James’ dad would get up in the middle of the night and eat some of the leftover food and blame his son for it when his wife discovered it. James was constantly punished by his mother for eating the food that was supposed to be for the next night’s dinner. He grew up with eating disorders and even now he got really distressed when he went to people’s houses for dinner and they saved the leftovers. It brought back the horrible years he was constantly being punished for doing something his father finally confessed to doing after James’ mother died. He had nightmares about food and he set out to make them go away by getting someone’s father in trouble to them pay for what his father never paid for but he had. 

X X X X

     The next evening the family barbecued chicken for dinner and had made extra so they all would have leftovers for their lunches the next day.

X X  X X

      That night James entered the Noonan house through an open window and after making sure the family members were all asleep he went to the refrigerator and took the leftover chicken and put it in the bag he brought with him. He ate a piece of chicken and left the bones from it lying on the counter. He carefully left the house so it didn’t look like anyone had entered it.

X X X X

     Opal was the first one up and when she walked into the kitchen she saw the bones sitting on the counter, obviously one of the boys got hungry in the middle of the night, no big deal.

     Les was the first one up after his mother. He looked at the chicken bones on the counter “Are we having leftovers for breakfast?”

     “No. Someone got up last night at ate this. I guess it wasn’t you?” She looked at her son and waited for his answer.

     “No it wasn’t me.”

      Mark entered the kitchen. “Is the coffee ready?”

     “Yes. Sit down and I’ll bring you a cup.” She poured a cup for herself and Mark and took them to the kitchen table.

       Mark saw the chicken bones on the counter. “Someone didn’t want eggs for breakfast huh?”

      “I guess Kelly got hungry last night because the bones were on the counter when I got up.” She figured that it had to be him since everyone else was up and obviously didn’t know anything about the chicken bones.

     Kelly finally walked into the kitchen as Opal was finishing up cooking scrambled eggs for breakfast.

     “It’s about time you got in here lazy bones.” Mark said to his youngest son. “Maybe you aren’t as hungry as the rest of us.”

     “I’m hungry.” Kelly replied.

     “I thought maybe that chicken you ate last night spoiled your appetite.” Mark teased him.

     “We all had chicken last night.” Kelly didn’t understand what his father meant.

     “Yes but some of us had some in the middle of the night.”

     “Who did that?” Kelly responded.

     “You didn’t?” Mark said.

     “No I didn’t.” Kelly said.

    “It’s alright if you did honey.” Opal added.

     “I didn’t eat anything after dinner.” Kelly was adamant.

     “Well someone did.” Mark said

     “It wasn’t me. Is breakfast ready?”   Kelly said.

     “It’s almost ready.  Sit down and have some orange juice.” Opal told her son.

     “Someone got up in the middle of the night and ate some of the leftover chicken out of the refrigerator.” Mark informed Kelly.

     “Well it wasn’t me. I never get up and eat in the middle of the night. It was probably the dork.” Kelly smiled at his brother.

     “Don’t call me a dork. You probably did it.” Les stuck his tongue out.

     “If it wasn’t either one of you and it wasn’t me or your father so I guess we must have had a chicken burglar. Maybe it was Caspar.” Opal added.

     “Ha Ha mom. That’s funny.” Kelly laughed.

     “Okay so I guess it must have been Caspar, it doesn’t matter anyhow. Let’s finish breakfast.” Mark was failing to see the humor in this any longer.

     Opal put the scrambled eggs and toast on the table and sat down to eat. When they were done eating she got up and started to put her son’s lunches together.

    “What the heck? Alright there is more chicken missing than the piece on the counter.” Opal was mystified.

     “What are you talking about?” Mark walked over to the refrigerator. “Are you sure you even put it in here?”

     “Where else would I put it?” Opal was getting frustrated.

     “I don’t know. I was just asking.” Mark wasn’t sure what to think.

     The boys finished eating their breakfast and as oddly entertaining as the saga of the missing chicken was they needed to go to school.

     “Who is driving us to school?” Kelly asked.

     “I will take you on my way to work. Get ready.” Mark looked at his wife. “I don’t understand what happened last night. I’ll just give the boys some money so they can buy their lunch.”

     “That sounds like a good idea. This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen. How can leftovers just disappear from the refrigerator? Oh well. I guess what’s done is done no matter how it happened. We can call this the mysterious case of the chicken burglar.” She laughed and started cleaning up the mess from breakfast.

     Mark dropped the boys off at school and went to work.

     That evening James knocked on the door. This was evening he had been waiting for his whole life. Father was going to get in trouble.

     “Come on in James. We just started to cook dinner. You have good timing.” Mark showed James to the family room where he and the boys were taking turns playing foosball with each other.

     “Now we can play teams!” Les excitedly yelled out.

     “I’m not very good.” James protested.

     “Trust me, neither are we! You can be Les’ partner and I will be Kelly’s. I would team up with you against the kids but then they would really kick our asses.” Mark smiled and led James to the table.

     After a few turns on the table Opal called out that dinner was on the table.

     “When Mark reminded me he had invited you for dinner tonight I decided it was a good excuse to have something special. We don’t seem to ever have time to go out to dinner so I decided to make something we always enjoy from our favorite Italian take out, Lasagna.  Except this was made by me and not by a store or a restaurant. I also made garlic bread and a salad.”

    “Wow this sounds even better than the barbecued chicken last night.” Mark complimented his wife.

     “I don’t know about that. The chicken was so good someone broke in and stole our leftovers.” She smiled at James when she said that.

      How did they know he broke in and took the chicken, he was starting to get nervous.

     “Very funny dear.”  Mark looked at James and as if he needed to explain what his wife just said. “We seemed to have misplaced the leftover chicken from our dinner last night. That’s what my wife is humorously trying to tell you by saying someone broke in and stole it. As if anyone would ever do that.”

    James just about choked on his lasagna. This wasn’t going as he had planned. “Someone broke into your house and ate your food? That sounds like an inside job to me.” He was trying to steer the blame back to the husband.

     “It does sound kind of chicken doesn’t it?” Opal said with a smile and a wink.

     James felt they were getting back on track. “Who would break in to your house and steal your food?”

     “That’s what we all wondered this morning but after no one confessed it seemed kind of pointless to beat a dead chicken.”

     “I thought you said Caspar did it.” Les offered.

     “It seemed like it was a possibility.” Opal replied.

     “When I was a kid my dad used get up at night and eat the leftovers and then blame me for it in the morning.” James tried to lead the family in the direction he wanted them to go in.

    “Really. That’s a terrible thing to do. Why would he do that? It’s only food.” Kelly couldn’t believe someone would get in trouble for eating food.

     “Well we were kind of poor and my mom worked a lot and she made dinners that part of them were supposed to be left over for dad and I to eat the next night when she was at work. Dad didn’t want mom to know was hungry so he would eat some of the food for the next night and blame it on me and then I would get in trouble.”

     “That’s horrible. I’m so sorry that happened to you James.” Opal was appalled at James story.

     James was surprised by the way this family reacted to his story but mostly he was surprised that these people hadn’t reacted in the same way his family had. Maybe all parents weren’t screwed up, just his. He started feeling guilty about what he had done but he wasn’t going to admit he had done it. For the first time in his life he felt what growing up in a normal family life might have been like, or at least in one that didn’t punish their kids for things they hadn’t done. He never had any problems with food after that and for the first time since he could remember he enjoyed eating Lasagna.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

Knock, knock, knock. I heard at the front door. I saw my friend Steve’s gold colored Monte Carlo parked in the driveway through the peep hole and when I opened it there he was standing there. He greeted my dog Pepper and came in the living room and sat down.

“I just had an unbelievably weird morning.” He announced.

“What happened?” I inquired.

“Monte needed a timing belt and I didn’t have the equipment to do the job so I went to the only repair shop in town I trust and left it there yesterday. The owner gave me a ride home. This morning I got up and called up the shop and they said it was done so I asked mom to give me a ride down there. It’s only a mile or so from the house. She’s a terrible driver but even she can make it a mile I figured. She leaves the house and instead of turning left onto the road that goes right to the place she turned right.

  “Why did you turn right” I asked her.

     “I never turn left.” She answered.

     “What do you mean you never turn left? You can’t never turn left.” I was puzzled by her answer.

     “Yes I can. I will turn right at the next street and then right again.” She earnestly answered me.

     “So do you always turn right three times to go left?” I was dumbfounded.

     “Of course I do dear.” She seemed totally nonplussed by my amazement. ”Why wouldn’t I?”

       “I didn’t say anything as I could tell logic wasn’t going to get me anywhere. She dropped me off and I went in and I paid the bill and left with my car. I decided to come over and visit you rather than go right home. I turned on to the main street that goes to your house and was following an old white Thunderbird. When it came to the side street I needed to turn on the car suddenly turned the direction I was going so I followed it. The car was going really slow so I was hoping it would keep on going straight when I got to the street I needed to turn on to get to your house. Just before it passed that street the car quickly turned the same way I was going. So I went ahead and followed it. Then the car just stopped right in the middle of the road. No signal or anything. I couldn’t believe it. What an asshole. I was just about to floor it and go around the car but I decided to go and see what the problem was. I walked up the driver’s side of the car and looked in. It was a lady and she was leaning over the seat doing something on the floorboards. I knocked on the window and she looked up with a startled expression. She rolled down the window.

What the hell are you doing?” I managed to get out.

     “My purse fell over and spilled.” She answered.

    “So you just stopped the car in the middle of the road?” I was getting heated.

     “I didn’t realize there was anyone behind me.” She looked worried.

     “Why didn’t you use your turn signals?” I was hopping mad by this time.

     “Oh I never use them.” She now looked scared.

      I don’t know if there was anything she could have said at this point which would have appeased me but that wasn’t it. I reached in the car and broke off the turn signal and dropped it to the floor. “Then I guess you don’t need it.”

      She looked terrified. I turned around and walked back to my car, got in, went around her and came over here. I wonder how she is going to explain this to her husband. At least my mom really is crazy.” Steve finished.

By the time Steve was done telling me the story I was laughing uncontrollably. I can’t stand people who don’t use their turn signals. It is such an easy thing to do and saves a lot of people from running into each other. I was also visualizing his mother driving around town and turning right all the time to get somewhere that was in the other direction.

Lunch At La Posada

My mother, sister and I started meeting for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant after both my sister and I had moved out and were living our own lives. My sister got pregnant soon after and had a charming baby boy named Cisco. When Cisco started eating the same food as the adults did, and he was old enough to take out, my sister brought him to have lunch with me and our mother. He was raised in a “foodie” family of foodies and always was a good eater. We met at my sister’s house and went to the restaurant together in my car.

La Posada was a small café type restaurant with windows all around the front with booths next to them and some smaller tables in the middle. We always had enough people to sit at a booth by a window. I had my first brand new car and I liked to sit where I could keep an eye on it, not that it was so valuable anyone would mess with it.

The waitress seated us and brought a high chair for Cisco, he was probably somewhere between two and three and had a pretty good vocabulary. We had never spoken baby talk to him and being my sister’s first child, my mother’s first grandchild and my first nephew he had received a lot of attention and we all spent a lot of time reading to him and doing things with him.

“What are you going to have? Should we spring for some guacamole since we haven’t done this for a while?”  I asked.

“Sure. That sounds good and will give us more time to decide what to order.” Mom replied.

“Have you decided what you want?” The cute little waitress asked us.

“Not entirely but will you bring us three Dos Equis, a small orange juice and an order of guacamole while we decide.” My sister answered her.

What I really liked about this restaurant is that it had lots of a la carte type dishes you could mix and match and you never had to order too much food like was the custom at many of the Mexican restaurants offered. I usually would get a cup of spicy ‘tomatos con chilies y arroz’ soup, a chicken taco and Mexican rice. It was all I needed and I didn’t have any leftovers.

Cisco had only been taken out to breakfast once or twice before this so he was having a good time. He was a very gregarious child and had a sunny disposition, he is still my favorite nephew thirty years later, but don’t tell his two brothers that.

When the guacamole and drinks arrived Cisco was given his own little plate with chips, salsa and guacamole. He started eating and looking around the restaurant at the people sitting at the tables near us.

“Hello.” He announced as he looked at the people right next to us. They didn’t say anything.

“Hi!” He said a little louder and still they ignored him.

He didn’t like being ignored by strangers, he was used to being the center of attention and everyone loved him. What was these people’s problem?

“Cisco. Do you like the chips?” I asked trying to distract him.

He didn’t answer me. He just looked around the room at the various people. “Fuck.” He said very matter of fact, it was actually pretty funny but of course I dared not laugh. Our mother had taught us that it was better to ignore things like this so that’s what we tried to do.

“F***!” This time a little louder, but not much, he wanted to be paid attention to.

“Shssh Cisco. Eat the chips.” My sister told him.

Oh no that wouldn’t do. “F***. F***. F***.” Still in a calm tone of voice but he was determined to get a reaction. My sister and I were trying not to look at each other because we were giggling. Our mother didn’t help because she really laughed. That was all she wrote.

“F***. F***. F***.” Again and since discipline was not something any of us were any good at my sister took Cisco out to the car and put him in the front seat where he could see the three of us in the restaurant and locked the car door and came back inside.

“I don’t know what else to do.” She said and then we looked at Cisco who had a crestfallen expression on his face. We waited until the food came and my sister went out and brought Cisco back in.

Cisco immediately started eating his food.  He got the hint that if he didn’t behave himself he wouldn’t get to sit with us.

There are many times through the years when I see parents hit their children for things like this I think back on this incident where we actually outsmarted the child.

Just Deserts

 

        I answered the phone and my girlfriend Kay was on the other end.

     “Hi. Joanna and I are thinking about going out and having some dinner and a couple of drinks at the Lost Dutchman, would you like to go with us?”

     I was living in a duplex with my younger sister and her three year old son. My boyfriend had just moved to Southern California to go to work for the railroad and I was waiting until he went through his training in Dunsmuir before I moved down to join him. A night away from my sister and her kid sounded like fun.

     “Sure. What time?”

     “Joanna is coming over at four and I’m going to cut her hair which will only take about half an hour. Come over whenever you want to. We will probably be ready to leave the house by five thirty or six.”

      Kay used to be a hair dresser before her husband was killed in a car wreck by an insane guy who crossed the centerline and hit Ray and Kay in attempt to commit suicide. Of course he was barely hurt and the steering wheel crushed Ray’s chest and he died the next day and Kay broke her pelvis. She bought herself a baby blue firebird six months later after her body had recovered enough from the accident she could drive again.

    Kay had always been small, small boned and small busted, and after she was back on her feet again she decided to have breast augmentations to give herself a much needed ego boost, at least that’s what she told me. Ray had been the love of her life and she was totally crushed when she lost him. She wasn’t healed yet but she was determined to move forward for her daughter’s sake. Her sister Joanna was going through a divorce and was in an anti-man frame of mind. We just wanted to go out and have a girl’s night out with just us girls.

     “That sounds good. I’ll be over before five.”

      Kay only lived about ten minutes from my house and the restaurant and bar we were going to was only ten minutes away from Kay’s. We hadn’t seen each other for a couple of months. Joanna and I both worked full time and our two days off weren’t the same very often. Kay was still recovering from the accident and had her six year old daughter to take care of. Her name was Keila.

      I went over to the house and when I got there Kay was just finishing up Joanna’s hair. Their youngest sister, Ronda was already over there so she could watch Keila while we went out.

      I wore black jeans and a silk blouse and Kay and Joanna also wore jeans along with brightly colored tops. We weren’t dressed to impress, we just to look acceptable, we each had our own reasons for not wanting to draw attention to ourselves.

     It was a Saturday night and we got were there early enough that we were able to get a parking spot in the second row in the lot across the street. The small restaurant was already full so we ate at a table in the bar. That was fine with us. We had a lot of catching up to do with each other’s lives.

     We treated ourselves to steak and lobster. We almost never went out so this was a big event. I was the youngest person at 24, Kay was 28 and Joanna was 26. Kay and I were both about the same height, and after her surgery we both had about the same figures, 110 pounds with curves, I was a blonde and she was a brunette. Joanna was tall and leggy with beautiful dark blonde hair, I think it was bottle blonde but who cared. We were all pretty attractive women.

    There was a local band playing at the bar that night and we knew the gal that was the lead singer as well as the lead guitar player. They were really good and we were looking forward to hearing them play.

     The band played good rock and roll cover songs, the year was 1980 and they specialized in rock and roll from bands like the Hollies, Bad Company, Boston and Aerosmith. We were so busy talking and visiting with each other we hadn’t noticed that several guys had sat down at a large table next to us and were loudly trying to get themselves noticed. Since we weren’t there to pick up guys we didn’t pay much attention to them. They finally started asking us to dance with them and we kept turning them down telling them we were just there to visit and listen to the music.

     They were not taking no for an answer very well and kept on bugging us. A couple friends of the band, who were also friends of ours, came over to our table and visited a little while and they talked us into dancing with them. We did. After we did that the guys who had been sitting next to us, who had kept bugging us to dance, were getting even more aggressive. They thought we were dissing them because we danced with our friends and wouldn’t dance with them.

     Finally, just to get them to leave us alone, we agreed to dance to a couple of songs with several of them. We did and it was fun but though we said that was all we were interested in doing they started to get even more obnoxious. They were insulted because we weren’t interested in them.

     We had been at the bar long enough we decided to just leave to get away from the constant verbal harassment we were getting. It seemed easier to just leave. We hadn’t been successful in making them understand we weren’t there to pick up guys so it was better just to go home.

    We walked across the street and got in Kay’s firebird. She was driving and I was in the passenger seat and Joanna got in the back seat.

      Just after she started up the car Kay looked in the rear view mirror.

     “What the hell?” She said and I looked behind her car and a big four wheel drive truck was parked right behind her. Two of the guys who had been harassing us got out of the truck and started walking over to her side of the car. Her window was down. One of the guys stood next to the back of the car and the other one reached in the window and tried to put his hand on Kay’s hair. She had automatic windows, I know all cars have them now, but in 1979 this was one of the first cars any of my friends had with automatic windows. Kay was fast on the control because she had the window zipping up just to catch his arm at the elbow.

    “Ouch, you have my arm in the window!” The man yelled.

    “No shit, pull it out and I’ll open it.” Kay responded.

     As he did as she told him she barely lowered it and quickly raised it back up. We looked all around and the only way to get out of there was to back up until she was up against their truck and then turn the wheel sharply and drive over the front curb.   

     Fortunately the car on the other side of the parking place had already left so there was a space to go to so she quickly backed up “You ran over my foot,” the guy who was standing by the rear of the car yelled and then she shifted into a forward gear.

     “Then you should move.” We all yelled at him simultaneously.

      Kay revved her car up enough to get it to hop up the front curb and then she raced out of the parking lot while the assholes all loaded up into the truck and whatever other vehicle they had there. Kay flew around the corner where she quickly headed for the police station that was only a couple of blocks away.

     Apparently, and not surprisingly, they took a while to get moving so after we sat there for ten minutes she cautiously took a back route back to her house and parked in the garage.

     We ran in to the house and kept looking out the window for a while to see if they had managed to follow us. They hadn’t. She lived off the main road so the odds that the creeps would find us were very slim.

     I couldn’t believe those jerks. We tried to be nice and dance with them after they had such a fit because we danced a couple of times with our friends. Then they wouldn’t take no for an answer. We weren’t teasing them in any way. We weren’t there to pick anyone up, only to have a good time.

     Joanna and I spent the night in Kay’s spare room and the next morning we got up and made breakfast and sat around visiting with Ronda drinking coffee.

     There was a knock at the door and Keila answered it.

    “Mom, there is a policeman here.”

     Kay went to the door.

    “Is this your firebird parked in the driveway?”

    “Yes.”

    “We got a complaint last night that It was involved in a hit and run accident.”

    “You’ve got to be kidding.” Kay answered him.

     “Early this morning a man reported your car hit his truck and drove off and he gave your license plate number.”

     “Are you referring to the jerk at the bar last night? Yeah I hit him, after he and his buddies tried to block me from leaving. Come in the house and I’ll tell you what really happened, I have two witnesses that were with me last night.” Kay was pissed off.

    The policeman came in the house and took Joanna and my statements. We could tell he believed us. After we were done telling him what really happened he inquired if we wanted to press charges.

     “It sounds like you should be charging him for this incident. Do you want to?”

     “No. We looked at the car last night and I hit him with my bumper and I can’t see any damage. If he wants to report a hit and run we will report a physical attack and possibly an attempted rape, but only if we have to.”

    “Well that sounds like that might have been a possibility. I am going to go visit the man who called this in and if he doesn’t drop the charges I will be back in touch with you. I have a feeling he will after I tell him what you three women have told me. You should have gone into the police station last night and reported him.”

     “Unlike these creeps, we didn’t want to do anything but go home.”

     “I understand that but if they had chased you down something much worse could have happened. Also they might do it to someone else.” This was the earnest response of the policeman.

    “That’s why we waited at the station long enough that we felt like they didn’t follow us. It never occurred to us they took our license plate number down while they were so busy harassing us. It was a good thing it was late at night and they couldn’t get ahold of anyone to track down the license number.”

    “I want all three of you to sign a short statement of what happened and I will talk to the man who called in the hit and run and tell him you have charged him with harassment and I am pretty sure that will be the end of this.” The officer was getting pretty worked up over the false crime he had been sent there to investigate.

    He left and it sure was a good thing this happened back before the computer era or we might have had to worry about those creeps tracking us down. That was the end of this episode but I have come to think of it as a very lucky break for the three of us that Kay was able to get away in her car. I have no doubt something worse could have happened had we not have managed to get out of that parking lot.

     We hoped the men got a scare in being told that they were going to be prosecuted for harassing us women but it was a real and scary situation that fortunately didn’t have a bad ending. Those guys got what they deserved by way of the policeman telling them we were going to prosecute for harassment but the ending could have been a lot worse. 

What Can You Get With A $1 Tip?

The doorbell rang and when Sherrie opened the front door a tall and beautiful brunette was standing there.

“Hi Amber come in the house.” Sherrie was petite compared to her visitor although she was a beautiful buxom blonde.

“What are you up to this afternoon?” Sherrie inquired of her visitor.

“Carrie, Tessa and I are going to the Gateway Tavern tonight to see some male strippers. Terri Purdy was going to come with us but she got sick. She was going to bring us some party favors. What are you doing tonight?” Amber sat down on the couch.

“I was just going to watch television and wash some laundry.” Sherrie answered.

“That means you aren’t doing anything. I already bought the tickets because they said the show was going to sell out and it did. I have Terri’s ticket and it’s yours if you want it.” Amber was being very persuasive.

“Where did you say the show is and what time?” Sherrie was mildly interested. “I haven’t ever been to a stripper show before.”

“They are a lot of fun. It’s at the Gateway in Springfield at ten. You have plenty of time to get ready. We are all going to meet there at nine so we can get a good table. They are going to have a pretty good band playing there before the show and afterwards as well.”

“Alright, it sounds like fun. I’ll meet you there at nine. That gives me a couple of hours to take a shower and get ready.”

“Cool. I am going to go over and get the goodies from Terri she got for us to take to the show. There will be enough for you if you want some. Well I better get going.” Amber got up and went to the door.

“See you later.” Sherrie walked her to the door and then started getting ready to go out.

Two hours later Sherrie pulled up in the parking lot. Amber was right, the place was packed with cars though she figured everyone probably each drove their own car there just like the three girls she was meeting. Sherrie was dressed in skinny tight black Calvin Klein jeans, a low cut black sequined top and short black suede leather boots. Classy, casual and comfortable was her idea of the perfect outfit.  She scanned the floor and there were guys out there dancing with the women, though there were overwhelmingly more women than men. As she was looking at the dancers she felt a hand on her elbow and when she looked it was Amber and she pointed towards a booth next to the dance floor and led her over to it.

The booth was perfectly located near the stage and right next to the dance area. The other two girls were already seated there. They were all about ten years older than Sherrie. She had met them through the brother of Amber’s husband at a party about a year ago and they had been doing things together occasionally ever since then.

“Hi girls! You snagged a good location here. I have never been to one of these shows before!” Sherrie sat on the outside seat that was open.

“You are in for a treat. I saw these same guys here a couple of months ago and it was a lot of fun,” Tessa filled Sherrie in on what was going to happen. “There is a really hot Hawaiian guy who comes out dressed like a fireman and another guy who looks just like Tom Selleck. There are five guys and they all dress as different characters and dance and strip to rock songs.”

“If you want them to come close, or get them to dance at your table you need to have one dollar bills to tip them with.” Carrie added.

“I don’t have any ones. Besides that I didn’t come here to meet anyone. You guys are all married aren’t you?” Sherrie inquired of the group.

“We are. That’s why you should meet them and tell us all about it.” Amber laughingly added.

“I’m just here to look like the rest of you. I am surprised there are so many guys here.”

“They will kick them out when the show gets ready to start and then let them come back in to dance to the band when the show is over. At least that’s what they did last time.” Just then there was an announcement from the stage that it was time for the guys to go next door to the bar which was going to be closed off for the strip show. The band also left the stage but they left their equipment set up but it was set off to the back and a curtain closed around the instruments left on the stage. Another curtain enclosed the rest of the stage and tables and chairs were quickly set up on the dance floor for the women left on it to sit at.

Then sirens go off and a guy dressed in a police uniform comes out onto the stage.  “Hello Ladies! How are you all doing tonight? I would like to tell you some of the rules. First you cannot touch. You can put bills in their g strings but don’t touch the merchandise. We are all from Southern Oregon and I my name is Tyler and I hope you ladies enjoy the show.” Then the song “Jump” started blasting out and Tyler did his strip show on the stage. The next young man started walking around the room walking among the tables that were surrounding the edge of the dance floor.

Sherrie had seen the Chippendale dancers on television once before and it was obvious these guys were not professionals but they were nice looking and working hard to be very entertaining. They were using the men’s bathroom as a dressing room so when the ladies went to the bathroom they would walk by the men as they were standing behind the stage waiting for their turn to dance. Sherrie thought a couple of them were pretty hot as she stole an appreciative glance while walking by. The dancers were also checking the women out as well.

The hottest guy was the man who was several inches over six foot and was pretty close to a dead ringer for Tom Selleck. He started his first number dressed as Indiana Jones and he worked the dance floor between the tables and chairs set in the middle of it to the booths spread around the edges. Women were shoving dollar bills in his thong and plenty of them were trying to steal a feel of his biceps and abs. He looked to be a little older than the rest of the guys.

When the Hawaiian fireman came out Tessa went nuts. She was gesturing at him trying to get him to come over. “Sherrie, since you are on the outside will take one of these dollars and see if you can get him to come over to our table?” Sherrie tried to do her friend a favor by holding a bill out to get his attention. She was successful and when he came over and started dancing in front of her she handed the bill back to Tessa so she could have the thrill of giving him the bill.

The Tom Selleck clone came out again this time he started out dressed in a white tux and as he worked his way around the room he was wearing nothing but a thong. He eventually got to Sherrie’s table and he proceeded to do a dance right in front of Sherrie so Amber slipped her a bill to reward him with. She did and he leaned down and whispered to her “Can I come and sit at your table after the show?” She was surprised and nodded yes. He danced off to perform his way off the floor.

“What did he say to you?” All three girls were inquiring.

“He asked if could sit with us after the show.”

“Cool. I hope he brings a friend. We’re lucky we brought you tonight.”

The show ended after about an hour and a half. The girls were buzzing with excitement thinking about the stripper coming over to their table after the show. They opened the bar up to the men again and the band came back out and started playing.  After twenty minutes the man came out and came over to their table. They all moved over so he could sit next to Sherrie at the booth.

“Hi, my name is Don.”

“I’m Sherrie and this is Tessa, Amber and Carrie.”

“It’s nice to meet you.”

“Can you get the Hawaiian guy to come over here to visit too?” Tessa blurted out.

“Sure, he’s pretty shy but when he comes out I will have him come over.”

“Why did you pick our table to visit with?” Sherrie asked Don.

“It wasn’t the table, it was because of you. I think you are cute and you were the only one not trying to stick your hands down my pants.” He replied.

Sherrie started laughing. “You’re kidding right?”

“Unfortunately I’m not. You wouldn’t believe all the things women stick inside my thong. I get joints, a lot of phone numbers along with money of course. It gets kind of weird sometimes. Would you like to dance?”

“Sure.” They went out on the dance floor and afterwards they went to a small table to visit. He told her that he had just started doing the strip shows a few months ago.

“I just do it for a little extra money on the side and to have a good time. I went to work for the Three M Corporation when I was eighteen and I married my high school sweetheart a year later. I was a youth pastor at the church in the small town outside of Medford that we lived in. My wife had two children within a couple of years and they are now teenagers. I started working as a river guide on the weekends for a little extra money and it’s something I have always liked to do. My kids are thirteen and fifteen years old and last year I caught my wife having an affair with our neighbor and so now I’m divorced. I quit the church and started going out to bars and doing all the things I never did before since I got married so young. I ran into this group of guys that were doing this strip show so I started doing it just for fun. I don’t know how long I am going to do it but I am enjoying it for now. This is only the second show I’ve done with this many people. Usually we just do our shows at small bars in the small towns near where we all live.”

Sherrie and Don spent the evening dancing and visiting at the bar and then since he was staying at a motel she invited him to come over to her house and they visited all night and he left with her phone number and promised to call her.

The next day, which was Monday, Sherrie went to her job she had just started a few months before. Her nineteen year old assistant was really excited to hear about her twenty six year old supervisor’s adventure with a male stripper. Later on that afternoon Darcy answered the phone and put it on hold and announced to Sherrie:

“It’s Don on the phone.”

She was a little surprised he called her that quickly. “Hello.”

“Hi. I told you I would call you. I would really like to see you again. What are you doing this weekend? Since it is Memorial Day I have four days off from work.”

“I would love to see you again. Would you like to come up and stay with me? My roommate is going camping so I will have the house to myself.”

“Sure. I will call you Friday and you can give me directions to your house.”

“That will be great, bye.”

Don drove up to Eugene from the town he lived in and they spent the holiday going out to dinner and going out on the river with a friend of hers who had boat he took them out on. Don said he really enjoyed going fishing when someone else ran the boat because as a guide he was usually the one running the boat.

On the next weekend Sherrie drove down to him place and he took her to his stripper practice and then to a baseball game he played in. They started visiting each other every other weekend and she moved in with him after six months and within year they were married. The year was 1984 and fifteen years later Sherrie and Don are still married and he is a full time river guide with his own business. It was her one and only experience with a stripper and his only brief time being one. It turned out to be the best value she ever got for a dollar tip.

Life On The Outside

The smallish black cat lays on top of the dark manhole cover warming his body on the forest green metal that has absorbed some of the winter sun’s rays. He once thought he wanted to be inside the house but he slipped in there one time when the lady wasn’t looking, she didn’t notice he was on her heels, when she opened the door and was greeted with extreme hostility from the cats and dogs that already lived in the house.

He tried hiding in the entryway between the kitchen and the bedroom behind the door with a small hole in the bottom just the right size for a cat to go through. He got to lay there in the warm air coming from the wall for a couple of hours before the male cat who lived in the house noticed he was there and started growling and howling from the other side of the door.

Eventually the dogs came over to see what the cat was having such a fit about and started to whine at him. This brought the lady of the house over to see what the problem was and she discovered the small fluffy black cat with light brown fringe huddling behind the door and she gently shooed him outside to obtain peace in the house again. He had been hiding out at her little farm for several years. She wanted him to leave, and had tried to get him to by not feeding him. She had been told by a neighbor that he belonged to another neighbor who lived on the other side but this kitty wasn’t going to go home.

His owner had gotten in a bad car wreck three years earlier and was gone for a long time and so he had to start finding his own food. At first he started out by sneaking over to the neighbor who fed his cats outside of the house on the porch where he could steal some of the food when the cats were elsewhere. Unfortunately the man also had two dogs, they were not kept in a fence like the lady whose place he moved on to, and they would chase him and threaten to bite him until he climbed up high. That was when he ventured on to the place off the road which had a barn and a nice field to hunt mice in and he became a very good hunter. He rarely went hungry.

After two years of hoping the little cat would leave the lady felt sorry for him, even though he didn’t ever seem to be skinny, and after a big snow one winter she started feeding him food outside the house in a small bowl. That was when he started living under her front porch so he could hear whenever she came to the door. He always greeted her and then ate half of the food she gave him and saved the rest for later in the day. If she left in the car he would save some for when she got home so he could be eating it when she came back in the house. She would stroke his fur when she walked by him eating and that felt good. After two years of being on his own he finally had place to sleep and eat again. He tried to go home once to his first house but the man no longer came outside and fed him anymore so he went back to his new place. At least he felt safe and loved in a way. It was better than it had been before he came to live outside her house.