My Friends Wear Fur Coats!

He lies in the tall grass intently watching the three wild turkeys that are pecking around in the grass looking for food. The smallest hen is getting nervous. She looks around and comes face to face with the predator stalking as he comes leaping out of the grass. Before she can vocalize her fear she is pounced upon and her neck is deftly broken.

The other two turkeys let out shrill cries and fly off. The feathers from their fallen comrade flutter on the breeze as the beautiful silver and white wolf trots off with his prize hanging from his mouth. He lays the turkey on the ground in front of his mate. She is a brown, white and silver female with large expressive dark brown eyes. The two wolves start devouring the kill.

Hunter is a seven year old male and his mate is three years older than he. Their lifelong companionship started when he was thirteen weeks old and she was three. He grew up with her as a friend and then a lover and their bond is for life.

The brush is dense and bushy where the hunter is lying in wait for the pheasant that is warily eating on top of the mountain of dirt. The pheasant knows that there are many enemies that hide and wait for him to show himself. He has an advantage in his ability to fly but he does need a little time to get airborne. This particular predator has been waiting for this pheasant to get complacent and relax its guard for several hours.

The pheasant starts to go around the back side of the manmade hill of dirt he has been hunting seeds on for the afternoon. There are a couple of dogs in a backyard nearby that have been barking at him whenever they see him. He isn’t worried because they are inside a fence and can’t come close.

Out of the corner of his eye the bird sees a blur of action on one side of him and he prepares to take flight. On the other side of the dirt the hunter who has been lying in wait for such a long time has to make his move since his prey has been startled. Just as the large black cat comes leaping out of the brush to flank the pheasant the smaller cat clumsily comes running out in the open towards him after already giving its position away. The pheasant sees the two cats closing ground and takes to the air.

The muscular black cat has deep green eyes that shimmer with a look of liquid velvet. He looks at the fat calico female that just scared the pheasant off with disgust. All of his hours of patient stalking have been laid to waste by the clumsy female that he thought he left at home. This is not the first hunt of his that she has screwed up. Many times he has hunted mice and successfully has caught them. Occasionally he offers one of them to his female companion to kill after he has caught them. He feels like a mighty hunter when he can give some of his prey away to another to enjoy the kill. This female always fumbles the mouse and allows it get away. He should learn not give her live presents but he has grown tired of killing and eating the little creatures. He enjoys watching others when they get excited when he offers them a live mouse to kill so much that he wants her to enjoy it also.

Hunter looks up at me as I gently stroke him with his dark brown eyes that project love and mischief in the same glance. I tell him how beautiful he is and he sucks it up rubbing the top of his head against my leg. Saki barks as if to say “Hey I am in the room too, look at me!” We both look at her and she comes over and tries to wedge her way into the action. I pet her furry head with one hand while petting Hunter with the other. They are jealous friends and lovers for life.

I hold her tiny grey paw in my hand. She gently flexes her claws in a loving gesture of friendship and she looks at me directly with her soft olive green eyes. Then she starts purring loudly and curls up under my arm. There is no way to know what she is thinking but from the look in her eyes and peaceful ambiance it feels like love. What is love anyway? Mojo tromps up and looks at his friend curled up next to me and he starts washing her head, not gently either. At first she leans into him and enjoys the bath but as he continues to vigorously wash her she gets annoyed and hisses at him. He backs off a bit and stares at her, he won, he pissed her off and she walks off my lap which he immediately inhabits.

I adopted the 2 eighty percent wolf dogs when the male was thirteen weeks old and the female was three years old from a wolf and wolf dog sanctuary seven years ago in the neighboring state of California. They are now 7 and 10 years old and still beloved mates. The two cats I got from the local pound in Oregon and the male was 8 weeks old and his mother had been killed by a dog when he was three weeks old. The female was 6 months old and had been turned over to the pound by her owner, she was tiny and the reason was they said she didn’t get along with the other cat. The two cats became immediate best friends and still are to this day and they are fourteen years old. We all live together on my 12 acre mini ranch and they sleep together with me in the house at night. They are my best friends and companions and they all wear fur coats!

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Mojave

     The black car slowly makes its way down the smooth dirt road headed towards the ranch that is the destination for the occupants of the car. The sagebrush and cactus are barely visible beyond the headlights and the lights of the house they are headed towards are barely visible on the horizon. There is only a sliver of a moon hovering over the desert as the car glides down the road.

     “Stop the car, I see one laying across the road.”

Sherrie brings to car to a stop. “I don’t see anything.”

Tom has a large flashlight in his hand and he hands it to Sherrie. “It’s right there stretched out across the road. I want you to point this light right in front of me and keep it there.”

Sherrie grabs the flashlight and turns it on as Tom gets out of the car. She focuses the beam in front of him as he walks around in front of the car. All of a sudden she can see the six foot rattlesnake that is stretched across the road. It is soaking up the warmth from the dirt that has been absorbing the hot desert sun all day.

“Pay attention. You need to keep the light right in front of me.” Tom yells at her.

“I’m trying. I really wish you wouldn’t do this.” She wasn’t too happy when Tom told her his plan to kill a rattlesnake so he can skin it and make a hatband out of it. She suggested that they purchase an already dead snake. Tom said they were too expensive and he has killed them many times before. He used to live in this desert.

“Hold the light still.” Tom says as he takes the pitchfork he had put in the trunk when they left the house.  They went to go to the county fair in nearby Lancaster. It was a much bigger fair than she had expected considering how small all the towns in the desert were. It had quite a few rides and a lot of food booths. Tom won her a stuffed animal at one of the carnival games. They stayed a couple of hours and headed back to his parents ranch. “I’m trying to. Don’t move so fast.”

Just about then the snake became aware he was being stalked and quickly coiled up and lashed out at Tom. Sherrie screamed.

“Damn it. Shine the light on the snake. Do you want me to get bit?” He sounds pissed off.

“No. I would prefer you wouldn’t even be doing this.” She is totally freaked out after watching the rattler strike out at Tom.

“You have made that perfectly clear.” Then Tom lunges with the pitchfork and pins the snake to ground. “Shit, it just bit itself. Now we can’t eat it.”

Sherrie is just glad he has stopped it from striking. She couldn’t care less about the meat of the snake being ruined. “That’s alright. Didn’t you just want to make a hatband out of it?”

“Yeah, but I was hoping to eat it also. It really does taste like chicken.” Tom stabs the snake again to make sure it is dead. He picks it up and puts it in the trunk of the car.

Sherrie starts the car up and drives back to the ranch. When they get there she makes Tom walk in front of her as they go into the house. She doesn’t want to run into another rattlesnake. After he walks her into the house he goes back to the car and brings in the dead snake.

“One time when I was a kid my mom ran over a big rattler on the way to town and I got out and put it in the trunk. We went to the store and then started to come back here to the ranch. Mom spotted the snake on the back seat in her mirror and freaked out. She stopped the car in the middle of the road and jumped out. I took a stick and killed it but she didn’t want it in the trunk again. She made me sit on the trunk all the way home holding the snake. Dad thought it was funny.”

“I don’t blame her.” Sherrie watched as Tom skinned the snake that he had already cut the head off of. She couldn’t believe it as she watched the skinless and headless snake meat coil up as if it were going to strike. It was amazing what the natural reflexes of this creature were. It is a truly prehistoric monster.

When she went to bed that night she had a nightmare of a huge white headless snake striking at her. She knew where that nightmare had come from.

The next day Tom’s parents host a barbeque for their friends and neighbors to celebrate their son and his girlfriend coming to visit them. They had bought a lamb from one of their neighbors and they were going to bury it in a pit and cook it overnight. This made for a two day party.

The first day consisted of playing croquet and badminton on the grass and sand play ground that was set up next to the outdoor barbeque pit. All day long everyone played croquet and badminton in teams while taking turns throwing chunks of wood onto the rock lined pit under a large grill that they would barbecue chickens on for dinner the first night of the party. Everyone drank and ate all day.

That evening they dressed out the lamb and stuffed it with onions and garlic and poured jars of homemade salsa all over the outside. Then it was wrapped in wet burlap bags. The rocks in the barbecue pit were shoveled into a hole that was dug in the sand next to it and the burlap package of lamb slathered in salsa and onions was placed on top of the hot rocks and more rocks and then dirt buried the carcass.

The next afternoon the party started again and the lamb was dug up. The burlap was removed and the lamb that was falling off the bone tender was placed on platters. Piles of fresh tortillas and roasted vegetables were placed on a table for the guests to dig in. Cold beer was served along with the melt in your mouth tender lamb.

Later on in the evening, next to the barbeque, lay a six foot long rattlesnake. He is enjoying the heat provided by the warm rocks that were removed from the barbeque pit.

Tom is drinking beer and enjoying the succulent lamb along with everyone else. His parents are really excited to meet his girlfriend. He told them that they were planning on getting married. He walks over to the barbeque and walks right into the snake that is resting on the rocks. Before he has time to react the huge snake coils up and lunges at him.

BAMM!!!

The snake strikes him on the leg. No one has any weapons. They are all drinking and eating.

BAMM!!!

The snake strikes again. This time Tom manages to jump back and someone starts beating the snake with a shovel. The snake is killed.

Tom’s parents had a snake bite kit.They live in the Mojave Desert and it is home for rattlesnakes.

The Neighbor

My boyfriend Greg lived in a lower middle class neighborhood when I met him. Most of his neighbors were much older than we were and either had retired or were close to retirement age. There was a golf course less than a mile away that had a nice bar, with the not so unique name of “Tavern On The Green”, which served decent food and had live rock and roll on the weekends. It was the early ‘80s and there were a lot of decent young rock and roll bands around. In fact one of the bands that played there called “The Nighthawks” would eventually spawn two groups from its members that would both go on to achieve a decent amount of success. We really enjoyed having a good place to party that was such a quick drive. In fact when push came to shove, or if we got really wasted it was only a 20 minute walk. In the summertime we frequently would walk there. Life was good and we were having fun.

We also really enjoyed using the golf course there as well. Greg, with his buddies and I with my girlfriends. We tried going with each other a couple of times but that didn’t work so well. Women should never have a boyfriend teach them how to golf, men are too competitive. I will never forget the second time we went together with another couple and Greg got so mad at the 9th hole, after he kept hitting his ball out into the field next to the course, that on the third time he did so he threw his club at the hole and bent it. That was when I decided his idea of fun and mine weren’t the same when it came to golfing. After that I went with the girlfriends and wives of his friends who also didn’t understand getting so mad at the golf ball that you would let it ruin your whole day. After all it is supposed to be fun, or at least that’s what we girls thought. We just laughed if we kept hitting the ball so badly that it took up to six shots to get on the green for a par 3 hole. We would let everyone play through that wanted to and drink one of the two beers we put in our golf bags when we left the club house, if you took any more they got warm. With us women it wasn’t a sin to use the wrong club either, something which we had all found out how the men in our lives felt about that. Like I said, we thought playing a game was supposed to be fun. I used to like to golf with the girls on a nice sunny afternoon. Scores were way less important than having a good time. Greg and Larry would spend a whole afternoon sulking in pissed off silence if they had a bad game.

Larry and Debbie only lived a couple of streets over from Greg’s house, we could drive to it in five minutes and walk there in ten and we did both depending on the weather. We used to have dinner at each other’s houses quite often and we would go the bar at the golf course as well and party on the weekends. There was more than one memorable night through the years and some were good and some not so good. Like the time Debbie and Larry got so mad at each other they got in a big fight on the dance floor and we all got kicked out. After we got home neither one of them could remember what they had been fighting about. Debbie had been Greg’s girlfriend about six years earlier and she met Larry when she was dating Greg because they both worked for the same company and attended the same company picnics and parties. When Greg and Debbie broke up Larry asked Greg if it would be alright if he asked her out. Since Greg and Debbie had an amiable break-up he didn’t have a problem with her dating Larry. At least until they got really drunk, but most of the time everything was copasetic.

Greg had only one neighbor who was close in age to him and his friends. I was the baby of our group at 23, Greg was 31 as was Debbie and Larry was 33. The neighbor directly across the street from Greg was 35 and when we had barbecues and other parties we started to invite Bill to participate. We really liked his girlfriend, Jennifer, who was only a couple of years older than me. We really hit it off. As we got to know Bill we found out that he was an ex-alcoholic and didn’t drink. Jennifer did and Bill didn’t mind associating with people who drank, he just said that he couldn’t do it. We all understood we thought, though of the rest of us all drank.

Bill became an asset when it came to going out to bars to dance and drink, since he didn’t drink he could always drive. Greg and Larry had bought a 1968 classic Cadillac to go golfing in, the trunk was a lot bigger than new cars and they could fit four guys in the car and four sets of clubs in the trunk so “the boat” became a popular party car. It was in pristine condition on the outside and because it was a “joint venture” in ownership for the four guys to take golfing, which frequently took them some distance away, they spent the money to make sure it was a reliable “ride”. It was a very comfortable car to sit in for up to six people, it had a lot of acreage, inside and out.

Bill soon started hosting parties for his new friends as well as going to the parties we hosted. He worked for a company that I had been good friends with the president of for several years and several of the friends he had made at work attended these parties. We had a very fun and cool social scene going on. Whenever Greg and I went out of town for any period of time Greg had Bill watch the place and gave him a key to the house. We went to Mexico for two months one winter and Bill watered the plants and kept an eye on the place. When we got back we threw a big welcome home party and invited all of our mutual friends. We noticed that Bill was drinking but he didn’t do anything odd. It got our attention because for the previous three years we hadn’t ever seen him drink anything. When I mentioned it to him he said it had been long enough that he didn’t have a problem with it anymore. He didn’t seem to have any problem with drinking and his girlfriend was alright with it as well.

Greg and Larry got laid off from their jobs not long after this. A mutual friend of theirs had a construction company that was remodeling a motel complex in a small town. It was next to the freeway and about a six hour drive away and he offered to hire them for a month or two. They accepted and so Debbie and I became widows for two weeks at a time. The guys came home for about three days every two weeks. I had an apartment and a roommate that I lived with part of the week and I lived at Greg’s house for the other part of the week. Greg had asked Bill to watch over his house while he was out of town. Even though Greg was gone most of the time I still spent several nights a week there, I enjoyed the privacy of not having anyone around.

One night I was lying in bed reading and I heard someone opening the front door. I got a little freaked out but then I remembered that Greg had asked Bill to watch his house so I hid in the bedroom and waited to see who was letting themselves in. It was Bill and he apologized for not realizing that I was there. I said it was alright and I got up and spent several hours drinking a bottle of wine with him while we watched a stupid movie on TV. He never let himself on the house again while Greg was out of town.

Greg and Larry finished working out of town and started back at their regular jobs. One night soon after that I was at Greg’s and he told me that Bill had called him earlier in the day to tell him he had been arrested and asked him to go over to his house and feed his two dogs and cat. I went with Greg to take care of the animals. I noticed his house was in a state of disarray. There were empty bottles of beer all over the place and girlie magazines spread all over the house, he obviously hadn’t planned on having anyone see it like this. Bill was released from jail the next day. I happened to go over to my roommate and I’s friend Rick’s house the next night. The friend who was the president of the company Bill worked for. Rick’s wife was quite the gossip.

“Did you hear about Bill getting arrested?”

“Yes I did, I went over to his house with Greg last night to feed his pets. Do you know why he was arrested? Greg thought Bill said it was for threatening someone?”

“Yes, it was. He pulled a knife on a gal that works with him and Dana, she works directly under Rick. Supposedly she told Dana that she is pregnant with his child and said she is going to make his life miserable. Dana told Bill all about it and that he was afraid she will ruin his relationship with his fiancée. Bill followed her from work to the store and got in her car and threatened her with a knife if she didn’t leave Dana alone. She started screaming and jumped out of the car and ran. Bill ran away but the cops came and found him hiding behind the store and took him to jail.”

“That’s pretty weird. Why would he do that?”

“I don’t know but the police came to talk to Rick about it today. We found out Bill is a registered sex offender. They wouldn’t tell Rick what he did but if I were you I would stay away from him.”

Trust me I will!”

Erin and I stayed for dinner and then as soon as I got home I called Greg.

“Did you know Bill is a registered sex offender?”

“Who told you that?”

“It was Rick’s wife, Diane. You met her, Rick is Bill’s boss.”

“How did she know Bill is a sex offender?”

“Apparently the police came and talked to Rick about Bill’s threatening the lady they all work with and they told Rick. I don’t want to have anything to do with him.”

“I’d like to hear what Bill has to say. I think you are overreacting.”

“I don’t. I don’t have any tolerance for people who commit sex crimes.”

“I think we should find out the truth first.”

“From Bill? Do you think he would tell you the truth about something like that? Just to make sure I don’t have any more contact with him.”

“Whatever you want, but I still think you are overreacting.”

I went over to Greg’s house the next night.

“I asked Bill about what the police told Rick. Bill said that he used to a serious alcoholic and did some really stupid things but he was never in jail. He said there were minors involved so they had a file on him and he was labeled as a sex offender. He said they harass him whenever they feel like it. I believe him.”

I didn’t think that sounded right but I just let Greg think what he wanted to. I planned on having nothing to do with Bill ever again.

A couple of nights later I was visiting Greg and Bill came over. I didn’t say anything to him. He had just come over to borrow something of Greg’s and didn’t stay long. He seemed to be the same as he always was which made me wonder a little bit about whether he was being falsely accused, but not much.

The time drew near for Bill’s court date and he told Greg that he was sure that he would end up being found guilty and go to jail. He believed that the police were mad that he didn’t do any jail time from the case from ten years before and that they would make sure he did this time. He said they had questioned him over the years any time they could and that they had it in for him. It was starting to sound like a bit of a set up.

The house Larry and Debbie had been living in had been for sale while they had been renting it and it finally sold. They were frantically looking for a place to live. Bill offered to rent them his house. He was sure that he was going to do jail time and he would like it if they would live in his while he was in jail so he didn’t lose it because he wouldn’t be around to make the mortgage payments. He admitted he had been drunk and doing drugs again when he threatened Dana’s girlfriend. He was pissed off that she was trying to ruin his Dana’s life.  The sex had been consensual by both of them so he didn’t think it was fair for her to screw Dana over but he also knew it was none of business. He was upset because Dana was so stressed out that he was talking about suicide.

Bill asked Greg if he could stay at his house while he waited for his trial so he could rent his house to Larry and Debbie. He said even if he didn’t get convicted he would still rather rent them his house and live somewhere else that was cheaper since he no longer had a job. He said all he needed to do was find places for his dogs to live. Greg told Bill it was alright with him. I had been staying away since I didn’t know what to believe about the whole situation.

Larry and Debbie rented Bill’s house and moved in. His trial date was five days away. He moved into Greg’s spare bedroom but I didn’t know this yet. I went over to Greg’s house two days later. Greg was gone to a union meeting but I had left some things at his house that I needed the next day.  I was sitting on the couch when Bill walked in the door and sat down. I knew he was living there so I wasn’t surprised to see him.

“Hi, how are you?”

“Alright, how are you?”

“I’m not very good actually. I’m being framed because of some stupid things I did when I was drinking too much and doing drugs ten years ago. I’m sure I’m going to be sent to jail for doing something even stupider even though I didn’t hurt anyone. The police have been trying to send me to jail for ten years and it looks like they are going to get their wish.”

I was trying to be unbiased. “So you didn’t do anything wrong?”

“I did something wrong, I stupidly threatened Kim for trying to ruin Dana’s life. But that’s all I did and I was drunk and did some coke. It doesn’t really matter what I did. The police have it in their minds that I am guilty and they want me to go to jail.”

He sounded sincere. I began to doubt that Bill was dangerous, pretty stupid, but not a threat.

“Would you go out to dinner with me tonight? I really want to have one last dinner at the Valley River Inn before I go to court. I really love their food.”

I have always tried to trust my inner voice and it told me I had nothing to worry about. I felt Greg was right, “Sure I’ll go out to dinner with you, but I’m driving.”

“Fantastic, I will buy you whatever you want.”

I drove Bill and I to dinner at this very nice and expensive restaurant. We had a very good dinner and a nice time visiting, just like before he was arrested. He told me how freaked out he was about the prospect of going to jail. He asked me to stop in the park on the way back to Greg’s house and I did. We watched the teenage kids ride around on skateboards for a while. Then I took Bill back to Greg’s house and since Greg was still at his meeting I went home.

The next evening Greg, Larry, Debbie and Bill were watching a pay per view boxing match at Larry and Debbie’s house (Bill’s house that they were renting). Part way through the match Bill went over to Greg’s house to get something and a few minutes after he left there was a knock on the door.

“We are looking for Bill Snyder.” There were two policemen standing at the door.

“He just walked across the street.” Larry told them.

“Isn’t this his house?”

“Yes, but he is renting it to me right now.”

“Does that Camaro in the driveway belong to Bill?”

“Yes, but he is across the street at my house right now.” Greg is at the door with Larry.

“Can we go over there to talk to him?”

“Sure, I think he is coming right back. I can go over there and get him for you.” Greg left the house and walked across the street. The policemen followed him. Greg walked up to the front door and turned the door knob. He heard Bill say something.

“Don’t come in.” Bill yells out.

“What do you mean, it’s my house.” Greg said and the police are standing next to him.

The unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked can be heard. The policemen pulled their guns out. Greg yelled at them.

“Let me go in there.” He didn’t wait for an answer he just opened up his front door and walked in. He can see Bill lying on the floor with a gun in his hand and he has it pointed at his head.

“What are you doing?”

“Keep away from me!”

“I will. Don’t pull the trigger.”

“Why not? They want to arrest me and take me to jail.”

“No. They just want to talk to you.”

“No they don’t.”

“Why don’t you go to Serenity Lane, maybe they can help you. That’s where you went before right?”

“Yes. But they don’t care if I go there.” Bill still had the gun pointed at his head.

“Let’s go there and you can talk to them.”

“The police won’t let me go.”

“Yes they will. Let me call Serenity Lane and tell them you need some help.” Greg slowly grabs his phone book and looks up the phone number. “Hi, I have someone who has been through your program and he needs your help again. He has a gun pointed at his head right now. If I bring him down there will you talk to him?”

“Sure, what is his name.”

“Bill Snyder, he was there about ten years ago.”

“Alright, we will be expecting him.”

“Okay Bill, let’s go down there. I’m going to out and tell the police what we are going to do.”

Bill got off the floor and followed Greg to the garage and got in the car’s passenger seat, all the while holding the gun to his head. Greg opened the garage door and drove the ten minute drive to the alcohol recovery center and the while Bill held the gun to his head. When Greg drove in the parking lot he could see a SWAT team taking positions around the building. He looked at Bill to see if he had noticed. He didn’t seem to.  Greg pulled into a parking spot and turned the motor off.

He realized the police were probably going to shoot Bill before he got in the building so he tried to grab the gun out of Bill’s hand. Boom. One shot went through the floor of the car. Boom. Another shot went through the roof of the car. Bill yanked his hand free from Greg and pointed it at his temple again.

Greg realized he was not going to be able to overpower Bill so he got out of the car and walked towards where he saw a SWAT team member standing. As soon as he gets there he was grabbed and handcuffed to a pole. They weren’t going to let him risk his life again.

A SWAT team member walked over to where Bill had sat down on the curb next to the car, still holding the gun to his head. The guy started talking to Bill. He seemed to have the situation under control, and Bill lowered the gun and the guy slowly walked up to him. Just when he was almost close enough to touch him Bill put the gun up to his head and shot it. The standoff is over. Bill is dead.

The police told us the reason they came to the house was because the previous night a hooker had been abducted by a man in a 1969 Blue Camaro with a fuzzy dash board and she was raped and tied up to a tree with duct tape. Bill’s car, the one parked in his driveway, was a 1969 blue Camaro with a fur on the dash. They were coming to arrest him and he obviously knew it.

The next day I took Bill’s things out of the spare bedroom at Greg’s house and I found a handwritten piece of paper under the mattress. On it was written “dogs, duct tape, lye, rope, plastic”. I got a very sick feeling in my stomach. We never saw the dogs after Bill said he found them new homes. I felt very lucky to be alive and unharmed. I would never second guess my first instincts again.

Monsters in the House

The monster comes out when the girls go to bed.

There is an evil presence living in the house that creeps around and tries to be unseen.

Anne was lying on top of her bed doodling in a notebook when Susan walked in her little sister’s room.

“Aren’t you supposed to be doing your homework?”

“I am, but I don’t understand these math problems.” She quickly answered.

“Do you want me to help you?”

“Umm, okay. I have to give them to the teacher in the morning.” She sounded unhappy.

“Well then you better let me look at your homework then.”

“Okay. Let me get it out. Here it is.” She handed Shelly the papers with the math problems.

Shelly looked at the pages her sister handed her. “I remember doing these problems. Let me show you how to do them.”

“I don’t want to learn to do them, can you just write the answers down?” he sister pleaded.

“Let me go get ready for bed and I will come back and work on them until we have to go to sleep in an hour.” Shelly went to her room and put on her nightgown, went to the bathroom and brushed her teeth and went back to her sister’s room to spend the night in her sister’s pull out trundle bed. She had been sleeping on that bed a lot lately. In the morning Shelly went back to her own room and got ready for school.

“How come you slept in your sister’s room on a school night?” Her mother asked her when she came to the kitchen for breakfast.

One night they giggled and laughed until it was very late and they were late for school. Their mother told them they could only sleep together on the weekends or when they didn’t have to go to school the next day.

“She needed help on her math problems. It was late so I just slept there.”

“Alright, but don’t make a habit of it.”

“I won’t. I just helped her with her homework for an hour and then we went to sleep.”

Shelly didn’t want her mother to stop her from sleeping in her sister’s room. She felt safe when she slept in there.

Anne’s girlfriend, Trina, school came home with her on the school bus to spend the night on Friday. She lived farther away than most of her friends so she couldn’t play with her after school. The rest of her friends lived in the same neighborhood. They took turns playing at each other’s houses after school.

Trina took a different bus to get home. Every couple of weeks Trina and Annie’s moms would let one of the girl’s stay at the other one’s house. Trina and Anne liked to flirt with the boys that lived across the street. The boys were a couple years older and went to a different school. They would go to bed and talk about the boys until her mom told them to go to sleep.

Susan and her girlfriend Mary Lou both had horses that they kept in a pasture behind their houses. Susan liked to do stuff with her horse on the weekends and after school. There was always something to do with the horses every day. They had to clean the stalls out every other night, they took turns feeding them as well as riding them whenever the weather was nice enough.

Susan used to spend the night at Mary Lou’s on the weekends and she only lived two houses away. Mary Lou was one year older and this year she started high school and had new friends and new things to do. The only things they still did together were things to do with the horses.

Susan was in bed reading a story with her two cats, B.C. and Taffy, sleeping on the bed with her. She finished her book and turned out the light. A little while later she heard the door open and she lay in her bed with her eyes tightly closed and pretended to be asleep.

As she laid there someone entered the room and lay down on the bed behind her. He slipped his hand under the covers and slowly ran his hand over the top of her waist. He slid it down inside her underwear. She lay perfectly still. She tried to not even breathe. He moved to her breasts and touched them before he got up and quietly left the room. The cats knew him and they stayed where they were lying at the end of the bed.

This went on for what seemed like a long time to Susan. She kept waiting for her mother to stop her husband from coming in her room, but she didn’t. Susan was sure that her mother knew what was going on yet she did nothing. Her bedroom was right next to her mother and her stepfather’s room. When he wasn’t in bed with her mother Susan felt she had to know where he was. When she went to the bathroom at night it was right next to her room. Her mother had to know, yet she didn’t rescue her daughter.

Susan used every trick she could think of to discourage her stepfather but eventually he always came in. She slept with her younger sister as much as possible and he was not so bold as to approach her when she was sleeping with Anne. Unfortunately she couldn’t sleep with her sister every night. She hadn’t said anything to Anne. She didn’t want to get her little sister involved.

He used to invite Susan to go with him in his truck when he worked sometimes, but she was smart enough now to avoid being anywhere alone with him. She went with him one time when her mother told her to because she had somewhere to go, it was before he started coming in her bedroom. He trapped her in the cab of the truck and felt her over before they got back to the house. She was horrified and scared.

Who could she go to that would make him stop? She didn’t know what to do. He didn’t hurt her but she knew he knew it wasn’t right. Why else would he sneak in her room after everyone had gone to bed?

Susan was depressed and had given up thinking that he was going to stop. She discouraged him the only way she knew how, by not cooperating. She thought her mother must be scared of him or she would stop him, wouldn’t she? Susan didn’t understand why she let this go on. What was wrong with her mother?

One night when Susan was once again taking refuge sleeping in the trundle bed in Anne’s bedroom Anne told her that he had been in to visit her at night. Susan then told Anne he visited her also. That was it for Susan, the last straw. As soon as her stepfather went to work the next morning she went to her mother and demanded she stop her husband from coming in to her and Anne’s bedrooms.

Susan’s mother didn’t ask Susan or Anne any questions. Susan was really sure that she had already known what had been happening when she didn’t question her at all. Even worse in Susan’s mind was that she never said anything to her husband about what he did to her daughters. She put locks on her daughter’s bedroom doors so they could lock themselves in when they went to bed at night. No one ever talked about it or asked any questions.

Scruples and Other Moral Dilemmas

This is the first chapter of a novel I am writing, feedback please!

Chapter One: Scruples and Other Moral Dilemmas

“My turn, this question is for Randy. Your agent helped you get established when you were a struggling actor. Now a large agency wants to sign you. Do you dump your agent?”

Randy is a fairly handsome man and looks as if he could have possibly have been an actor. He looks up at Shelly and knows that if he doesn’t answer this question truthfully she is going to challenge him. He figures she wants him to answer yes and he notices that she is close to getting rid of her cards.

“No I wouldn’t.”

“Liar, I challenge.”

“Alright, let’s hear it.”

“When you were working for the car dealership, the one that gave you the first job after your wreck when no one else would, you immediately quit working there when Borden offered you your old job back. How loyal were to them? Not at all that I remember.”

“Yeah, but Borden offered me a lot more money, Annie and I wanted to get married and since she had a son I needed to earn more so I could support her and Ian.”

“You just proved my point dummy. I didn’t say you didn’t have a reason. I said that you would quit.”

“Okay everyone let’s vote on it.” Jack just wanted to get the game moving again. “1-2-3 vote!”

“And the winner is Shelly. Give Randy your answer card and let’s move on to Annie’s turn.” Jack is quite gregarious and is also handsome in a somewhat subtle manner.

“You accidentally damage a car in a parking lot. Do you leave a note with your name and phone number?” Annie has directed her question to Randy also.

“It depends on if there were any witnesses.”

“Unfortunately I believe you, it’s only illegal if you get caught, right?”

“Pretty much, so how did you think I would answer?”

“I figured you would say no, but you would have to admit it you got caught so I lose this one. It’s not that you have any morals though.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you always think you are superior to everyone else.”

“Alright you guys cool it. If you are going to fight we should quit playing.”

“That’s just fine with me.” Annie gets up from the table and leaves the room.

“I told you that this game is a good way piss people off.” Shelly says to Jack as Randy gets up from the table also and walks to the bedroom where Annie went to. Shelly noticed that Randy’s bad leg was really bothering him from the way he was limping.

Annie and Shelly are both attractive blondes, Annie is taller slightly more slender and Shelly has a bit more of voluptuous body type; it is very easy to see the similarities they share as sisters. They are only three years apart in age, with Shelly being the oldest.  Annie is wearing a very short skirt and a skimpy top and Shelly is dressed in jeans and a tight fitting tee shirt, they are both quite attractive.

“I knew that Annie and Randy were having problems but I thought they could manage to play a civil card game. Obviously I was wrong.”

“This isn’t exactly a normal card game. I have seen lots of people get mad when they are accused of being a closet cheat or a thief. If you read the box it does call the game ‘a moral dilemma game’, you don’t think that might me a red flag or something?”

“Never mind the cards!” Jack yells down the hall that Randy and Annie disappeared down, “Get back in here and let’s party!” He looks at Shelly, “I am a little bummed though, I have the card that lets me make up my own question and I was looking forward to using it.”

“What question did you want to make up? It wasn’t one that would piss anyone off was it?”

“I hadn’t gotten that far, but they all seem to do that, I guess it is probably better that I didn’t get to use it now that you mention it.”

Randy walks back into the kitchen and he has a mirror in his hand, it has lines of cocaine on it and he hands to Jack.

“Here, have a line. Let’s get back to our party before I have to go to work.”

“Where’s my sister?” Shelly asks Randy after she snorted her line.

“She’s still in the bedroom but she said she was coming back out here.”

Shelly handed the mirror to Jack. “Here, take this. I’ll go get her.” She went back to the bedroom and left Randy and Jack at the kitchen table doing lines.

Annie was sitting on the bed crying.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, it’s just that Randy always thinks he is right about everything”

“That’s why we call him Mr. Perfect.” Shelly said referencing the nickname her and her sister call Randy, behind his back of course, because he really did think he was always right.

“I am getting tired of his selling coke to his friends and then him leaving me to entertain them when he goes to work. Then he gets mad because he says I flirt too much, but that’s what he and his friends want me to do. I don’t understand.” She starts to cry.

Shelly doesn’t like the way Annie flirts either but she does blame Randy for leaving Annie at the house after drinking and doing drugs all night and expecting nothing to happen. It seems to Shelly that Randy is setting Annie up to fail. Annie has always been insecure and needs to be reassured that she is cute and that is just what Randy’s friends are more than willing to do for her when Randy leaves them alone with  booze and the cocaine that he had become addicted to after the horrible car wreck he was in before he met Annie.

Three years before this Randy had just gotten out of the army and was on top of the world. He was good looking, single and had saved a lot of money and to top it off when he got back from Germany his friend Jack’s father had hired him on at one of the biggest corporations in the country. Everything was going his way.

One evening Randy was on his way home from an afternoon of skiing and boating at a popular hot spot in his brand new Alfa Romeo with his beautiful fiancé. All of a sudden a man in a pickup truck crossed over the center line and in an instant Randy’s fiancé was dead and one of Randy’s legs was wrapped around his body and broken in pieces. The driver of the pickup truck was drunk, had no insurance and barely had a scratch from the wreck.

One year later Shelly drove up to Fall Creek Reservoir with Annie and Annie’s two year old son Ian on a hot afternoon to go swimming with some friends of theirs. They ran into lots of people they hadn’t seen for a long time and one of them was a young man Shelly had met four years before when he was home on leave from the army and a mutual friend of theirs brought him to a party she had thrown for Halloween. He had hit on her but she was already dating another man, but she did remember what a gentleman he had been and if it had been another time and another place something different might have happened.

While driving home in the car that afternoon Annie told Shelly about a nice guy she had met at the lake, he was in a full body cast after having been in a horrible car wreck the year before and they were rebuilding his leg with pins and metal plates. She told Shelly that he had just gotten out of the army when he got in the car wreck that he was still recovering from.

Thus began the soon to be tumultuous relationship of Annie and Randy and within a year they were married and had a son of their own to add to the son Annie already had.

Back to the party, Annie and Shelly were talking in the bedroom after Randy and Annie had gotten in the fight while they were playing the game called “Scruples”.

“I know, but sometimes you do get a little carried away with your flirting, but usually Randy doesn’t mind. Why don’t you come back to the kitchen and party with Jack and I. Randy will be going to work in another half an hour and you won’t see him again until tomorrow.”

“You’re right. Let’s go back to the kitchen.”

Annie and Shelly join Randy and Jack at the kitchen table. Shelly notices that the guys have put the game away. Good thing she thought. Randy offers the mirror with a line of coke on it to Annie and she takes it and sits down at the table.

“I have to get ready to go to work, why don’t you guys stick around awhile and party with Annie.”

“No problem, thanks man!” Jack remarks.

Shelly was thinking that there hadn’t ever been any doubt that he was planning on staying there. She was about ready to go home but she didn’t want to leave Annie there by herself to party with Jack, too much temptation for her little sister. She had spent most of her life looking out for her little sister and she wasn’t about to stop on this night. She stayed until Jack went home and then went home as well; one less evening for Annie and Randy to fight about, and one less “screw up” for her sister. There were a lot of Scruples on the line but Shelly knew that the game they had played this evening was the last thing that needed to be considered.

Crime Scenes Revisited

I wrote this story in a different style wanting to see which one is better. Let me know what you think!

Once in a while something will happen in life that after it has occurred things will never be the same again, if a person is really lucky that something will be a good thing and the things that happen subsequently are amazingly good, but the other possibility is that something incredibly evil will occur and that something terrible is the result. The following is a story about one of the latter types of occurrences. The things that couldn’t ever be undone and the chain of events that unfolded took a lifetime for the truth of them to be discovered.

Two little girls are huddled up by the fire in a small cabin on a beach by the ocean. They have a pile of magazines on the floor in front of them and they have one spread out on the floor in that are both intensely concentrating on.

“Look, here it mentions that this murder happened in Oregon!”

“Let me see. Where?”

“Right here.”

“Neat.”

“In a small town in southern Oregon a 16 year old girl was walking home from school one day but she never made it home.”

The girls were 6th graders and they were at the coast for their spring break along with their mothers and sisters. It had been raining the whole time from the minute they got there and so they had been forced to find inside entertainment. They were delighted to discover a wonderfully horrible treasure trove of the potboiler style publication of “True Detective.”  Their mothers would never have allowed the girls to read the magazines if they had realized what they contained in the pages, stories of rape and murder in language that was not appropriate for young teenaged girls, but they hadn’t noticed these magazines that had been in with the assorted comic books and other reading materials that the coffee table rack was stocked with.

Headlines like “Stabbing Death of the Blonde Babysitter” and “Case of the Traveling Killer” were eye candy to the curious little minds that wanted to be scared to death!

This classic potboiler magazine was complete with grisly crimes and gruesome descriptions of them and the two girls managed to scare themselves silly, delight in reading the lurid details of the terrible real life crimes.

They were delighted to discover a story in there set in their own state and eagerly read the story. The story they were reading was of a 16 year old boy who had murdered a 16 year old retarded girl and the crime took place in town that the girls had actually been to.

“This says the boy who killed the girl’s name was Elmer. My dad has a brother named Elmer and he used to be in jail, but I don’t know why. I just met him and he was really nice so it couldn’t be him.”

“Look Mary Lou, this says Elmer Bradley. That’s his name.”

That was too exciting to not follow up on.

“Mom, what did Elmer got jail for?”

“Why?”

“We were reading a magazine and it had a story that had a man with his name in it that went to jail. He also lived in Oregon.”

“Let me see it?”

They were forced to show the stash of magazines in order to get an answer.

“Where did you get these from?”

“They were here under the coffee table.”

Shelly’s mother read part of the story and looked at the girl’s. “Yes that is Dave’s brother but this is an exaggerated version of what happened. I don’t think you should be reading these magazines, find something else to do.”

The young man walked down the path that had formed along next to the river and as he walked along he kicked the little rocks that had rolled onto the trail back towards the steep rock wall that lined the other side opposite from the river.

     All of a sudden he stopped and looked around, he heard sounds coming from farther on up the trail, it was the sound of someone walking on it and he quietly slipped behind a tree growing on the bank of the river and he waited to see who was approaching.

     The sounds of someone’s feet walking on the dirt trail were very faint. As he peered through the brush from where he was standing the young girl he had been waiting for appeared on the trail beyond a bend in it. He quietly stayed hidden behind the tree and waited for her to walk by. It was a fairly large tree with a cluster of bushes growing at the base of it so that he was completely hidden as the approached.

     After she walked by where the young man was hiding he picked up a large rock from by the river and slipped up behind her. She immediately fell face forward on the trail and he immediately took off running frantically away. He crossed the shallow river up ahead and one of his shoes got caught in between some rocks in the river and when his foot slipped out of the shoe he just kept on running as fast as he could.

     Unbeknownst to the young man there was someone else observing what had occurred from another hiding place behind another tree. This fact would not be known to anyone for many years, no one knew there had been an eye witness to this.

    The young man ran home as fast as he could and never stopped to look back. When he got home he realized he had lost one of his shoes so he took the other one off and took it out to the trash pile outside the old house that he lived in with his mother, father and four of his five brothers and buried it under the trash that was waiting there to be burned.

     The news spread through the tiny little school as soon as everyone arrived.

“Did you hear about Betsy?”

“Hear what?

“They found her on the trail by the river, and she was dead. Somebody killed her!”

“I bet Elmer did it. Yesterday I hear Tom teasing him about getting her pregnant. Elmer started crying. He is a retard just like she was. I am going to go tell the teacher.

      The boy hadn’t gone to school the next because he was scared. When the police came to the house they had the shoe that they had found in the river by the girl’s body. When they found that it was the same size as the boy wore they searched the property and found the shoe he had hidden outside. The police figured that when he had been teased about her he got scared and solved the problem the only way he knew how to, with a rock.

The trial was held in the nearest large town and didn’t last very long as the 16 year old mentally challenged plea bargained to a 10 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter

`Jail hadn’t been easy for the boy and when he was released he was taken in by the church in the small town he grew up in and worked for them until his mother got old and needed his help around the house. He moved in with her along with a woman who he had met at the church and he married her and had two children with her.

Lillian had divorced Elmer’s father after he went to jail and started doing household chores for other people, eventually she ended up being a caretaker for a fairly well to do man. She and her sons had very little contact with the ornery drunk that she had left. When she died she left everything she had to Elmer and that was alright with the other brothers because they had all made a success of their lives.

     On his deathbed Harlan confessed to a priest that he had been hiding behind a tree when his son hit the girl over the head. He also confessed that she hadn’t died from that, she died because he killed her because it was his baby she had been carrying. He needed to get rid of the terrible secret he had been hiding for over thirty years before he died he said.

     There was nothing Elmer could do to get back the ten years he spent in prison but at least his name was cleared and his children had the peace of mind knowing their father was not a murderer.

     The little girls that read about this story in the magazine were very pleased to find out that the 16 year old boy in the story they read had been innocent even if it took a very long time to come out.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

A Dinner To Remember

My sister and I have had many incidents through the years where we have laughed so hard we could hardly talk.  There is one incident in particular that “lives in infamy” in my mind.  We went to a family reunion together and it was a road trip of about eight hundred miles.  It was the first family reunion that her and I had attended together at that particular point in time. Our genetic father died in a plane wreck when I was three months short of being three years old and my sister was three months short of being born. Our mother remarried when I was four and my sister was one, our father had several brothers and sisters that came and visited our family when Annette and were very young but my mother and stepfather became fairly anti-social as the years went by and eventually all of our relatives on our real father’s side stopped coming to visit. We had one aunt who always kept in contact by writing letters to my sister and I and as we got older and could drive we were always invited to the family reunion affairs that they held every memorial day at one of the aunt, uncles or cousins houses. We weren’t particularly interested in attending them as most of them lived in fairly unpopulated areas in the state we lived in and we were pretty much raised as “city kids” and weren’t particularly interested in what we considered the “back woods” life. One year I received a letter from my Aunt Rosalie telling of the recent reunion she had attended and that there had been a visit by a new neighbor of my Uncle Lester’s at that reunion. Lester lived in the most remote location of all of my relatives in a very small place that probably has a population of less than 30 people so the fact that Uncle Lester even had a neighbor was fairly rare but that he had an extraordinary one was virtually unbelievable. The story that was, and the one that is told, says that my Uncle and his son-in-law were playing their fiddles at a bar in one of the nearest real town of Lewiston Idaho and a man walked up to my uncle and said there was a man in the audience who wanted to play with my uncle and his band. It is said that my uncle asked if he was any good. The answer was “he used to play with Creedence Clearwater Revival”. My 65 year old uncle then said “so does that mean he is any good or not?” “Yes he is good” was the answer and John Fogerty played with my uncle that night and ended up buying a piece of property in Troy, Oregon and started up the Troy Resort (it was managed by the Shiloh Inn at that time) so that he had a place to stay when he spent time there. It was during the period of time that he had left CCR in the early 1970’s and was on his self-imposed sabbatical from the band. There is a small article about John and his time in Troy on the internet if you look it up. Well that made these family reunions way more interesting to us than they had ever been before.

I went the first one of those reunions after I found out that John might actually attend with a close friend of mine. John did not come to that one but nonetheless I saw some magnificent scenery and had a good time meeting, for the first time for most of my relatives, some very nice people.

John did show up at the reunion the first reunion that my sister and I went to together but that was only the reason we started to go to these events and not the real subject of this story. That actual family reunion is a story unto itself which I will save for another time and another story.  The story I want to tell about right now is about the funniest dinner I have ever had and definitely the most fun dinner I have ever experienced at a restaurant.

To make the events leading up to this dinner somewhat more minimal than they really were, let me suffice it to say that for the most part it was a very fun road trip with a certain amount of stress along with many other events that were novel to this particular road trip.  My sister and I are very good at traveling together, when one of us needs to stop for any reason we always happily do so, and enjoy each other’s company and have the same tastes in food and enjoy eating and drinking the same things for the most part.

On the last day of this trip when we were three hours from home (the place we journeyed to for the reunion was eight hours from where we lived so we made it a three day trip – one leisurely day to drive to the location of the reunion, one day for the actual reunion event and one day to travel home) and we were both hungry and we were approaching the last small town on our way home before we would be in a very large city at dead 5:00 rush hour if we waited any longer to eat.  So we decided to eat at the convenient location that is a well-known resort destination so we had high expectations that the food would be good and I had read good reviews of it.  When we entered the hotel we immediately got the impression that the place was a bit pretentious but we didn’t see any reason to let that deter us from having dinner there.

We first went to the bar to have a cocktail and relax a bit from the five hours of driving we had just completed. My sister and I walked into the bar and we both ordered a Bloody Mary from the fairly old waiter that asked us what we wanted.  It was the most boring one we had ever had and we started giggling when we both sipped on it and thought that very thought but what did we expect from a seventy year old man who looked like he only drank martini’s?.  A very young waiter noticed us laughing and came over to ask if we needed anything else and I told him that we wanted to have dinner there when we finished our drinks.  He told us that he would put our names on the waiting list and then he walked away.  My sister and I looked around to see who was waiting and there was absolutely no one in the bar or in the restaurant which had barely opened for business. We exchanged a smile with each other over the thought that we would actually have to wait to be seated when there was no one around but it was a hotel so maybe everyone was waiting in their rooms until it was time to eat.

We finished our drinks and walked into the restaurant and were greeted by a middle aged woman.

“Do you have a reservation?”

We looked around and saw almost all empty tables but politely replied “Yes, we had the waiter had put us down for a reservation.”

The woman looked in the reservation book and even though I couldn’t read it very well upside down it was obvious there weren’t very many names on it.

“I don’t see your name here but if you will be done by seven thirty I have a table that isn’t needed until then, will that work?”

My sister and I looked sideways at each other. It had only been 5:30 when we had gotten there and it wasn’t quite 6:00. “If it takes us more than an hour and a half to eat there would have to be a problem.  Oh sorry, that will be plenty of time, thank you.”

The lady took us to a table in the fairly large and totally empty dining room, though I did notice four people had just come walking up to the reservation desk as the lady led us to a table.  The table was by the very large window overlooking the scenic river that the hotel and restaurant were named after so we could at least look out at the beautiful setting the place was in even if the people working there were a bit on the snooty side.  The place might be a bit on the pretentious side but we were hoping the food would live up to our expectations and it looked like it possibly could from the way the dining room was laid out.

A waiter came to the table and asked if we wanted a beverage while looking at the menu and we couldn’t help ourselves.

“Bombay Martini’s please, shaken not stirred.”

Our order didn’t even get a smile from the waiter and he turned and walked away.  As soon as he walked off another man came to the table and said something with a very heavy accent that we later figured out were the specials of the day but there was no way we could understand what he had just said to us.  It was time to look at the menu.

“So did you understand any of what he just said?”

“Not much, it sounded more like he had marbles in his mouth than an accent, kind of odd if you ask me.”

“I guess I don’t want any of the specials since I don’t know what they are after hearing them explained in some language that I don’t think even exists.”

We started to laugh. “I didn’t know dinner was going to include entertainment as well as food but this should be fun, or should I say funny, as well as tasty I hope.”

Just about then the apparent maître-de walked over to the table behind us and we could over hear him explain the same specials, at least we assumed they were the same since we still couldn’t understand him, to the people at that table.  After the man walked away from the table one of the diners at that table said very loudly.

“What did he just say the specials are?  I couldn’t understand anything?”

Another person at the table answered. “I didn’t hear them either because his accent was so strong.”

Upon hearing that my sister and I looked at each other and we tried to laughed quietly.

There was a small room with two small tables in it which was off to the side of the main part of the restaurant and we watched as the maître-de and two young men dressed in waiter’s uniforms walked into it and we could hear the man address the young men in perfect English.

“I want you to move these two small tables together and cover both tables with one tablecloth and put a fifth chair at the opposite end from the doors leading in here. Set the table with place settings for five and then let the hostess know when it is ready.  Do you understand what I want?”

The two young men replied in the affirmative.

I looked at my sister and we didn’t even have to say a word before we both burst out laughing.  A waiter walked over to the table and looked at the two of us.

“May I ask you what you are laughing about?”

“Yes you may ask and then you can answer us as to why the maître-de talks so weird that no one can understand him when I just heard him speak perfect English to the help?”

“I had a feeling that was why you were laughing. He thinks that his having an accent will impress the customers.”

“It is impressive alright. I am impressed at what an idiot he is.  No one is going to order the dinner specials because they can’t understand what he is saying.”

“Let me help you with that part then, we have seafood special with a crab cocktail, a small lobster tail and large prawns. Both are grilled and served with a drawn butter dipping sauce along with risotto and a green salad.  We also have broiled lamb chops served with a red wine reduction sauce that is served with a stuffed baked potato and sautéed green beans.”

“Now that I can understand what the specials are that changes my order. I was going to order from the regular menu but now I want the seafood special.”

My sister ordered the lamb chops.  As the waiter walked away my sister and I burst out laughing again.  The waiter brought a basket of bread and a plate with an assortment of raw and pickled vegetables with a small dish of dipping sauce and placed the food on the table along with glasses of ice water.  Soon after that the maître-de brought us soup and said something else that was unintelligible as he set them in front of us.

That was the last straw and as soon as he turned away we started laughing so hard we were practically choking on our soup.  The people at the other table even looked at us because we were laughing so hard but all we could do was try not to look at each other because if we did we immediately burst out laughing.

The waiter came back to the table and he smiled a little bit.

“Your dinners should be ready in about fifteen minutes, is there anything else you would like before then?”

We managed to choke out an answer.  “Yes we need a bottle a bottle of the Napa Valley Chardonnay that was on your special wine list.”

The waiter brought out our wine immediate and the dinner in about the fifteen minutes that he mentioned. He set plates of very fine looking food in front of us and then asked if we wanted fresh ground pepper on anything.  I noticed that the small red potatoes that were mixed with new white potatoes had been trimmed up to look like mushrooms and couldn’t resist making a comment.

“Yes I would love to have pepper on everything and could I also get some butter for my mushrooms?”

“Actually those are all potatoes, the chef just likes to make the food look pretty and he trims the red potatoes up to look like mushrooms but they are really potatoes and I would be happy to bring you some butter as soon as I finish giving everyone fresh ground pepper that wants it.”  He looked at my face when he finished talking and he could tell by the smile I was sharing with my sister that I already knew that there were no mushrooms in the potatoes.  He didn’t say anything but my sister then made a priceless comment.

“We will make sure we put that in our review.”

The waiter kind of acted a little nervous and walked away to get the butter I had asked for.  We had ordered a nice bottle of wine so it gave my sister’s comment some credence that we might be having an official dinner and we were dressed up in the nice clothes we brought for the family reunion that we didn’t end up wearing (because we arrived on the day of the reunion instead of a day early like we had thought we were doing, but that is also part of another story) so we could have been working for a magazine.  Instead of paying cash like we had originally planned I put the meal on my company credit card just to complete the rouse of eating at the restaurant for an assignment.

The rest of the dinner was a nonevent; we had already had a very interesting dining experience. It was an excellent meal and the most fun I have ever had at a restaurant, still.CGH