Cousin Eric’s Burger

I’ve been thinking of trying something on the darker side for a change so I hope you’ll accept this second response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt. My efforts at inserting a dark and sinister twist to a tale will begin with this scene from Friday Fictioneers Family picnic.

Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, a gifted writer of historical fiction. Check out her blog for the “Blue Frog” link to all the other stories written for this prompt. This week’s photo prompt is supplied by CE Ayr a writer of short fiction tales with a twist. (Please note: this photo is copyright and cannot be used elsewhere without the owner’s permission.)

PHOTO © CEAyr

Cousin Eric’s Burger

Cousin Eric enthralled the children with his “alien space rock” story at the FF picnic.  Little Andy, especially, peppered Eric with questions until his mom finally shushed him.

While fixing their burgers by the grill, Andy piped up again. “Uncle Eric…”

“Hush! You’ve pestered Uncle enough.”

“But Mom…”

Dad frowned. “Not another word until after dinner.” Andy sighed and shrugged.

After they’d eaten Eric said, “Now Andy, what did you want to tell me so badly before?”

“Two flies landed in the ketchup on your burger and you didn’t see when you put the top on. It doesn’t matter now. They’ve…uh…disappeared.”

~~~~~~

Afterwards:
Our beloved Aunt Ardatha Flint, attending the event, took notes on the ruckus Andy’s announcement caused, for anyone who’s interested:

Andy’s mother and father were duly horrified, embarrassed and chastened. (Hop it, Mark Twain. Long live adjectives!)

Cousins Eric and Martin wrote a new blues tune for the occasion. Sounded something like, “There’s a bier on my steer,” but don’t quote me.

Cousin Shelley and other tender-hearted ones were blinded by tears. Cousin Dale — a bit sassy — burst something while rolling on the floor laughing. Didn’t catch what; I think she said it in French.

Cousins Bill and Russ gagged — but they’ve swallowed worse in their day. (We all know who munch the mums last week.) The Scottish cousins insisted, “Nothin’ but mutton for me!” Cousin Sandra, the cook, threatened to stuff them with haggis.

Cousin Sabina mulled over this extra spice while Cousin Reena vowed to reinvent the hamburger. The vegan cousins, feeling vindicated, were blooming with good cheer.

Cousins Iain and Indira I’d us indecisively; Cousin Kat searched for one of her nine lives that escaped in the ruckus. Cousin Keith puzzled over a text message he insists was written in Greek.

The British cousins bristled when they heard others joke about doing a Brexit from this unprofitable clan. “Rubbing salt in the wounds!” they wailed. Then when the Yanks started yukking it up about “Boston iced tea” I feared we’d have a Donnybrook.

But Cousin Linda urged everyone to remain calm, Cousin Sarah dealt with the pottier ones and Dr Ali in front of the stair, attempted to reprogramme the hotheads.

Cousin CE, just in from France, offered to make a short story of the fuss by feeding us all to Nessie. However, I’ve heard her bite isn’t too sound anymore.

Cousin Chris was extremely cross when her membership in the Miss Marple Mystery and Mayhem Society was suddenly and inexplicably annulled. (How I love adverbs!)

Just A Clueless Tourist, Sir

Guilty As Charged

A writing exercise one day was: tell about an adventure you had while traveling, focusing on one particular scene during the trip. So here’s a scene from when I drove my daughter to Mississippi for a Teacher’s Summer Class.

Twelve years ago our daughter wanted to attend a week-long workshop for teachers — the event being held in Mississippi, no less. She didn’t want to drive all that way alone, so I accompanied her and did most of the driving. I was excited about the trip, having never been to the Deep South before. We were living in Quebec at this time, so had two long days on the road, entering the US at Detroit and heading more or less straight south on Interstates.

The second day found us somewhere in Kentucky on a nice four-lane highway and I was behind the wheel when we came up behind a line of about six cars, every one of them in the right lane, doing almost 50 mph. I found this curious, as the speed limit was 55 mph and the left lane was completely empty. I craned my neck and peered ahead as best I could, expecting to see some extra-wide vehicle causing this slower traffic. Nada. Just a line of ordinary-looking cars.

Now I was really curious. Had the speed limit changed and I hadn’t noticed the sign? Last thing on earth I wanted to do was get nailed for speeding in the States. I knew the chain gang was passe but I’d read some pretty awful accounts of arrests at gun-point and strip searches, etc. Not to mention fines and fees for a US lawyer.

A few minutes later we passed a sign: 55 mph. So why is everyone doing below 50? As the road went round a curve I got a better look at the lead car. A police cruiser. Aha! He was cruising along at a lower speed and the drivers behind were all meekly following, no one daring to challenge his authority. I joined the line and took it easy on the gas for another mile.

Would it surprise you if I mentioned here that I can be a rebel at times? As I drew near yet another 55 mph sign, I wondered,  “Am I going to poke along at 50 mph for an hour in deference to the whims of those officers? Can they arrest me if I don’t just meekly follow? Have they got any reason to stop me for driving at the speed limit?”

Nope. At least I sure hope not! So I pulled into the left lane, sped up to 55 mph, and slowly overtook the police car, making very sure I wasn’t speeding. If I was indeed committing some other social faux pas, I trusted my Quebec license plate would tell him I didn’t know any better.

They say about sheep that when one sticks his head through the fence, the others will surely follow. People are much the same. When I was some distance ahead of the cruiser — we didn’t have cruise control so I kept one eye glued to the speedometer the whole way!— I saw in my rear-view mirror that other cars had pulled out and were also passing the cruiser. I suppose they’d been anxious to see if I’d get into trouble and when no lights started flashing they decided they could get away with it, too.

Now I can say I led a mini-coup — a social rebellion of sorts — in a foreign land. I can just imagine those policemen sitting at the doughnut shop later and chuckling about it, just as I am now.

What would you have done?

Breakfast Bar

How Do YOU Like Your Eggs?

Do you like your eggs happy with sunny side up?
Or should they turn over and land with a plop?
Do you like your eggs mashed with small blobs of butter?
And should you crunch eggshell, will you fuss and mutter?

Would you rather them sandwiched with mayo on bread?
Or put them in egg cups and knock off their heads?
Do you like your eggs fluffy, as in soufflé dream?
Or want them in custard, topped with whipped cream?

Would you like your eggs cheesy in omelette bakes?
Or rather they come to the table in cakes?
Do you fancy an egg roll with rice and stir fry?
If the eggs were served raw, would you give them a try?

Do you long for them pickled and pink in a jar?
Or like your eggs fishy with canned caviar?
Would huevos rancheros be more to your taste?
Or will you have egg-plant with anchovy paste?

Will you eat eggs so they don’t go to waste?
Or make a big fuss if they’re not to your taste?
Must they eggs-actly be cooked as you like?
Or are you an eggs-pert at being polite?

— C.G.
Just for fun. 🙂

Old Grandma Shoes

OLD GRANDMA SHOES
Author Unknown

When I was very little
All the Grandmas that I knew
Were wearing the same kind
Of ugly grandma shoes.
You know the kind I mean. . .
Clunky heeled, black, lace-up kind,

They just looked so very awful
That it weighed upon my mind,
For I knew, when I grew old,
I’d have to wear those shoes.
I’d think of that, from time to time
It seemed like such bad news.

I never was a rebel,
I wore saddle shoes to school,
And next came ballerinas
Then the sandals, pretty cool.
And then came spikes with pointed toes
Then platforms, very tall,

As each new fashion came along
I wore them, one and all.
But always, in the distance,
Looming in my future, there,
Was that awful pair of ugly shoes,
The kind that Grandmas wear.

I eventually got married
And then I became a Mom.
Our kids grew up and left,
And when their children came along,
I knew I was a Grandma
And the time was drawing near

When those clunky, black, old lace up shoes
Was what I’d have to wear.
How would I do my gardening
Or take my morning hike?
I couldn’t even think about
How I would ride my bike!
But fashions kept evolving
And one day I realized
That the shape of things to come
Was changing, right before my eyes.

And now, when I go shopping
What I see fills me with glee.
For, in my jeans and Reeboks
I’m as comfy as can be.
And I look at all these little girls
And there, upon their feet
Are clunky, black, old Grandma shoes,
And I really think that’s neat.

Winnie Plays Monopoly

Another tale of Winnie, our blog’s crotchety, opinionated senior. These days she hopes to alter her widow status by altar-ing Ernie Harris.

Casserole

When Ernie opened the door, Winnie gave him her most cheerful smile. “Brought you a casserole for lunch, Ernie. Thought you might like a little bit of good home cooking once in awhile.”

“Why, that’s right nice of you, Winnie. And your good food just hits the spot. I can’t cook to save my life, but at least I’ve learned how to heat things up in the mike. I haven’t mastered boiling water yet, though.”

“You just need someone to teach you these things.” Winnie paused, arranging her next thought. “Ernie, we’ve known each other a long time, so I’m not going to beat around the bush. Have you ever thought of getting married again?”

“Oh, yeah. I started thinking about it a couple of weeks after Barb passed and I’ve been thinking about it every day since. A fellow gets lonely, you know.”

Winnie’s cheeks turned a bit pink. “Well, maybe we…you and I…”

Ernie deftly derailed her train of thought. “But I know it’ll never happen. No woman would be fool enough to marry me. Not with all my bad habits. In fact, Barb often threatened to get an apartment downtown where she couldn’t hear me snoring every night. Nope. No one with any sense’d have me.”

Winnie shut her mouth and stared at him a moment. “Well, I’d better be getting along. Hope you enjoy the casserole.” She shoved the dish into his hands and hurried back down the sidewalk.

cooking-1363061_640Ernie took a deep breath. That was close one. He chuckled and carried the dish to the fridge, setting it beside the ones Agnes Jones and Phoebe Folden brought around last night. He chuckled as he took out the beef stew and lemon pie Francine Miller dropped off this morning. Sometimes it paid not to know how to cook.

“Still, Ernie,” he advised himself, “You’d better keep on your toes when these old chicks start bringing casseroles or you might end up being hen-pecked for the rest of your days.”

He was still chuckling about his quick wits half an hour later as he passed the gas bar and saw Abner Stilsbie getting his tank filled.

“What are you looking so happy about, Ernie?” Ab called. Ernie joined him by the pumps and the two men chatted awhile. He wasn’t going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, so he didn’t tell Ab exactly what transpired. But…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey, Winnie.” Abner Stilsbie tapped her on the shoulder in the grocery store later that day. “How’s life?”

“Oh, hi, Ab. Well, I can’t complain. My arthritis isn’t so bad today and I’m getting used to them new blood pressure pills the doctor gave me. I’ll sure be glad when the weather cools off a bit, though. I haven’t been able to take the heat so well since I hit fifty, but I take it easy on days like this.”

“I hear you’ve taken to playing games with Ernie Harris and you almost won.” He winked. “Did you buy Park Place and Boardwalk. Or maybe you bought up all the railroads?”

Winnie stared at him. “Abner Stilsbie, whatever are you talking about?”

“I saw Ernie just before dinner and he was looking like that cat that got the cream. I asked him what he was so happy about and he said he’d been playing Monopoly with you. He said for a moment it looked like he was headed for jail and bankruptcy, but at the last moment he pulled out a “Get out of jail free” card.”

Winnie gasped and her brows formed a deep frown.

“I supposed you must ‘a bought up some of them pricey digs and were charging high rents. Though honestly, I’d ‘a never took you for one to play Monopoly, Winnie.”

Winnie’s eyes narrowed. “So he was playing games, was he? Well from now on he can
live on baloney sandwiches.”

Ab’s eyes widened. “What’s Monopoly got to do with baloney sandwiches?”

“Ernie Harris can go boil in his own hot water.” Winnie grabbed a tin of coffee from the shelf. “And I hope it’s pickle brine.” She marched away in a fury.

Ab’s eyebrows shot up and he shook his head. “Talk about a sore loser. I’ll never understand women. Never!”

Monopoly

A Willing Heart

The six-year-old girl eyed the young man sitting next to her in the church pew; she’d never seen him in their church before. In fact, his few words of greeting to her father before the service started revealed a different accent than the little Scottish girl was used to hearing in their town.

She was eager to “show herself friendly” as the Good Book said, and make him feel at home. But how? In her mind she rehearsed the words “Welcome here. I’m glad you’ve come,” but she was too shy to actually say it. Still, might there would be some way?

Right then a hymn was announced, number 489. She saw the stranger pick up a hymn book. On impulse she slid over toward him and whispered, “I’ll help you find it. I know those big numbers can be hard to sort out.”

“Thank you so much,” he whispered back. “I can manage alright until 100, after that it gets tough.”

So she helped him locate hymn #489 and he offered to share the book with her. She smiled up at him and they sang the verses together, the Scottish lass in first grade and the Englishman with a Degree in engineering.

Quote of the Day:

If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth.

– Sir Allen Herbert

(Anecdote retold from an account in and old Friendship Book of Francis Gay.)