Sunday Prompt

Good morning everyone — or at least it will be when you read this, as I’m scheduling it for 8am. I want to set this up tonight because I’m not certain we’ll have an internet connection in the morning.

In reality it’s just past midnight here and I’m up late having a hot drink, watching the snow blow over the garage roof, hearing our windows and the internet dish on the roof rattling. Yes, our spring-like weather from this afternoon has vanished and March is coming in with a lion-like howling blizzard here.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for March 1st is STENTORIAN. I’ve chosen this word and hope bloggers will respond favorably to it. Here’s my tale, which I’ve written as a response to this prompt.

Takes All Kinds to Make a World

Though they were only thirteen months apart in age and could easily pass for twins, Royal and his brother Abner were two completely different natures. Folks who knew the family claimed that when the boys were growing up, young Roy, as everyone called him, talked and his younger brother listened. And when Roy was done voicing his opinion, Ab would put in a few sensible words at the end.

Roy’s stentorian voice is the talk of the town. He only has one volume, folks say, and that’s the loudest. Folks say when the family comes to town they can often hear Roy a mile away, giving orders to his youngsters. And if one of them misbehaves the whole town knows it. And you sure don’t want to be in the same room as him when he gets to discussing politics!

Livery stable owner Frank Tompkins says his horses get so nervous they started kicking in their stalls whenever they hear Roy’s angry tones roll across town. That might be an exaggeration, but Widow Smith maintains that he made Duke, her old horse, bolt one day. She claims she was driving by Roy’s farm when Roy came out of the barn and started roaring at one of his boys for some misdeed. Old Duke jerked his head back and ran like the wolves were after it. She barely managed to get him slowed down again. It’s a wonder she didn’t have a wreck!

Pete Brown said he sure hoped Roy never came around his barn at milking time. “My cows won’t let down their milk if they hear that trumpet of his.” Someone wondered how Roy got any milk from his own cows and another farmer explained that Roy left the milking to his wife and girls. They were all good with the dairy. “He wants his cream check, so he stays away from the barn when the women are milking.”

Opposites attract, you know, and Mrs Royal is a quiet, shy woman. Folks who get to know her say she’s rather hard of hearing. Maybe that helps. We wonder, though, if listening to him has made her deaf.

Mrs Abner, on the other hand, is never reluctant to speak her mind. Sometimes she seems a little impatient to have Ab hurry up and say his piece, but you can’t rush him. If you take the time to sit and wait while he mulls the matter over, he will come out with some pretty wise words.

“Takes all kinds to make a world,” they say. You just don’t think that two boys so opposite could come out of one family.

Back When I Was Ten…

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is JIVE

This prompt takes me back many a year, through the winding trails of my memory cells to the CHILDHOOD section and the SUMMER drawer in my mind-files, where I pull out the summer-holidays-at-the-swimming-pool folder. there was a Concession booth, a juke box in front, a large cement pad, and teen girls jiving to the recordings.

Teen boys? I don’t recall any on the dance pad. I suspect few ever attempted to dance with the girls — teen boys are that way. Or at least they were. A few shy attempts maybe.

Back to the dictionary now, where my eyes slip down to another meaning of the word— the #1 meaning actually: glib, deceptive, or foolish talk.

Apparently there’s always been some confusion between JIVE and JIBE, as the following tale indicates.

A nineteen-year-old male was apprehended early this morning inside a closed doughnut shop. Responding to a call from a motorist who noticed a moving light in the store, police officers arrived at 2:10 am and arrested the young man for break & enter. He’d reportedly consumed several doughnuts and a can of pop and was on his second when police arrived.

The suspect maintains that he was passing the drive-through window on the way home from a friend’s house and noticed the window open a crack. Concerned that a thief may have entered and be in the process of looting the store, he climbed in the window to prevent the theft. He claims he was relieved to discover that this was not the case, but admits that he did help himself to some product. “Payback of a sort,” he contends.

Police officers claim that his story doesn’t jive with the facts. Two employees verified that the drive-through window was locked before they left the premises. Also, the officers discovered a crowbar behind a shrub nearby, and evidence that it had been used to pry open the window.  The crowbar is being held as evidence in the case.

The suspect initially claimed to know nothing about the tool, but officers rejected this as all jive. In spite of his avowal that he was attempting to prevent a robbery, fingerprints taken at the scene indicate that the suspect did make some attempt to open the till.

According to prosecuting attorney, Bette B. Have, the young man’s story simply won’t wash in court. “It doesn’t compute,” she stated. “Not with that crowbar near the window and his fingerprints on the till.”

A Grandchild’s Worldview

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is RETIRE

My response will be this short fiction tale about a grandpa’s morning out:

Murray’s a grandpa a dozen times over and loves all his grandchildren. He especially enjoys being with the youngest ones before they begin their school years. He regrets not having had as much opportunity when the older ones were small, but those were his working years. He’s retired now, but still in good health and can enjoy some playtime hours with the little ones.

One day he was out with five-year-old Amanda, pointing out different interesting things to her as they walked to the children’s park. As they strolled along Murray noticed a cat cross the street in front of them. He pointed it out to Amanda and said, “I wonder where that cat belongs? It shouldn’t be wandering on the street.”

“Maybe that’s the one Grandma was looking for. Oh, Grandpa, we should catch it and take it to her right away, in case it is!”

Murray was puzzled. “But Grandma doesn’t have a cat.”

“That’s ’cause she let it out. I heard her talking on the phone before and she told the other person that she should have been more careful and not let the cat out of the bag. She said now somebody’s going to know about it and they aren’t supposed to. If we catch the cat, maybe everything will be okay?”

Amanda was so serious that Murray swallowed his chuckle and gave her a comforting answer. “I’m sure that’s not the cat Grandma let out of the bag. I’m sure that one is still in our house somewhere.”

“How come she was keeping it in a bag?

“You’ll have to ask Grandma that when we get home.”

“Cats don’t like to be put in bags, do they, Grandpa?”

“No, I don’t think they do.”

“We should tell Grandma she shouldn’t do that. And cats don’t like it when you put baby clothes on them and stick them in a pram, either.” Amanda nodded knowingly. “Our kitty jumped out and ran away. Then she got all tangled up and clawed the doll dress and Mom said I shouldn’t do that again.”

“Your mom’s right. You shouldn’t try it again.”

Soon they arrived at the park and Amanda rushed toward the swing sets. Murray helped her get seated and started pushing her, thoroughly enjoying himself. He grinned as he thought about the explaining Grandma would have to do when they got home — if Amanda remembered.

“Grandpa, I’m sure glad you don’t have to go to work like Daddy does. He can only take us to the park on weekends.”

“That’s one of the good things about being retired,” Murray told her. “I can go for walks and come to he park with you whenever you come over.”

“What’s retired?”

“It means you’ve worked long enough and earned enough money that you don’t have to get up and go to work every morning anymore. You can stay home and you get paid anyway.”

“My Daddy has to go to work all the time. I told him he should stay home with us, but he says he has to work ’cause we need the money to buy food and clothes and stuff.”

“Yes, your Daddy has to work some years yet before he can retire. I worked many years, too, before I got to retire. When your mom was a little girl, I had to go to work every day, too. That’s how it goes.”

“When I grow up, I’m going work just a little bit, and then I’m going to retire like you,” she said. “Then I can stay home with my children and we can all come to the park and swing every day. You and Grandma can come, too.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” Murray agreed. Oh, to be young and so blissfully innocent!

The Elephant

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #64

Plus this morning’s Word of the Day: ASTONISHMENT
and Your Daily Word prompt: DEFINE


“And what’s this?”Amy walked toward the metal sculpture.

Carl studied the thing. “Rather hard to define.”

“You said it!”

“Perhaps it represents some animal,” Carl suggested. “Yes! It’s meant to be an elephant.”

“A six-legged elephant?”

“One prong’s the trunk and one’s the tail.”

Amy sniffed. “But no body.”

“Sculptor ran out of metal?”

Just then the curator joined them. “I see you’ve discovered our war memorial.”

“War memorial?” Carl eyed the sculpture. “Not an elephant, then?”

Her eyes opened in astonishment. “Elephant! My good man…”

“A war memorial,” Amy repeated.

“Quite right. Commemorates British-Danish joint efforts in the Battle of Copenhagen. Isn’t it brilliant?”

Some other tourists were beckoning so the woman left them to ponder the curious representation.

“I was right about animals,” Carl declared. “It must represent Mark Anthony’s “loosing the dogs of war.”

“But one’s missing two legs,” Amy protested.

“War does that.”


Perusing the Prompts

Good morning everyone!

I’ve been perusing this morning’s offering of writing prompts and noting how they might mesh together quite nicely.
The Ragtag Daily Prompt — my choice this morning — is WANDER
The Word of the Day prompt is WISTFUL
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge is WAIT
and Your Daily Word Prompt is OTIOSE
(Had to look that last one up; it means futile, idle, at leisure, or without purpose or function.)

Put these together and you can imagine someone wandering “lonely as a cloud,” as the poet William Wordsworth termed it, going along without purpose, hoping something interesting will present itself. Perhaps he’s rather wistful, pondering something he’s done —or not done. Or maybe he feels a little lonely and wishes he had a friend to walk beside and converse with.

In the course of his otiose ambling through the lovely park he pauses, perhaps to watch the ducks in a pond or chivalrously step aside to wait as a slow-moving senior passes. Shall we give our percipient rambler “a host of golden daffodils” to gaze at? Or maybe the falling leaves of autumn, allowing him to contemplate the brevity of life. But then he continues on his way, thinking maybe a strong cup of coffee at the local bistro will perk him up.

Oh, wait! Coffee and writers go together, so let’s make him a writer puzzling over a plot twist. His wandering isn’t otiose after all; as he walks he’s working out scenes in him mind, hoping he can get fresh ideas for that manuscript he’s been working on. Now we can understand and feel with him in his quandary. Haven’t we all been there, wondering how to make the characters believable or get them out of the mess we’ve put them in?

But wait! There’s one more writing prompt to work in. Daily Addictions has given us the word HOSE.

So, en route through the park, our writer is suddenly smitten by another angle for his book. Driven by his brainwave and no longer perceptive of his surroundings, he trips over a hose the gardener’s been using to water one of the flower beds. He staggers, loses his balance, and lands in a patch of freshly puddled earth. A.k.a. mud.

A small price to pay for a brilliant new angle.

Maritime Morning

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word for today is GOODBYE.

I wrote this short story some years back, but I think it will be a suitable response:

Maritime Morning

It was the perfect day for sorrow.

Grey veils drifted across the sky and mist blanketed the sea, a reflection of the murky future. Only the tiny waves rippling toward the shore disturbed the ocean’s dark surface; only a gentle rise and fall bore evidence of the giant sleeping below.

A small row-boat bobbed up and down ever so slightly with each swell, its docking rope barely pulling at the mooring. The big fishing boats were still at rest, shrouded in the mist, waiting for the fishermen to fire up their engines and point them seaward. The sailors were still at home, lingering over their morning coffee, waiting for the fog to lift.

All was silent except for one old horse that plodded along the gravel road, still half asleep. Some farmer riding out to check his fields; saving gas and trusting his horse rather than his battered old truck. No danger of him losing his way in the gray mist; habit had mapped the route indelibly in the old horse’s brain.

Down at the wharf a boy sat all alone on the lower dock, legs dangling over, toes not quite touching the water. He gazed over the sea, recording the muffled cries of invisible gulls and sandpipers as they scavenged along the shore and the far off droning of some foghorn. He studied the small seabirds as they paddled on the water’s surface, appearing and disappearing amidst patches of fog. He strained his eyes to define the that elusive line where water met sky.

From his small space in the universe, he contemplated the power of the sea. That great expanse that fed them, that bobbed them up and down from one shore to another, that challenged and tested their mettle. One day it held them so gently on the palm of its mighty hand; the next day dashed and crashed them from towering peaks into deep green troughs. Troughs that could swallow a fleet of ships at a gulp, the old-timers said. He’d seen the tails of those big waves lashing these docks and he right well believed it!

The subject of his contemplation was at this moment as docile as a lamb. The expanse of sea was as gray as the sky overhead, as gray as the fog that blanketed the shore. The only variation he could see as he looked around was a thick dark line away beyond the clearing behind him; the woods were too big to hide completely in the fog.

Somewhere on the eastern horizon a red sun would be peeping over the ocean; his watch told him so, though not one beam penetrated the cotton batting that wrapped the small town. Yes, this was a perfect day for sorrow and regret, for leaving the people and the home you love.

He stood to say a last goodbye, looking around at every familiar thing, taking mental pictures, wanting to have these scenes filed away for the lonely days ahead. He wanted to drink in as much of his home as he could before the ferry left at ten.

The sea. Would he ever see it again?