The Long and the Short

Another writer wrote yesterday that the two-word tale, “Cut short,” is considered micro-fiction. I found this idea fascinating and started to consider a number of similar micro-fiction possibilities.
Like “Guillotined.”
Or the more polite, “Corporate shakeup: head dismissed.”

I suppose “Paid in full,” would count, too.
Or the more detailed, “We finally own our car, dear.”

Then I imagined an announcement telling that Kellogg’s cereal sales were down: “Snap, Crackle and Pop caught in crunch.”

In contrast, the gentlemen in my tale below, vying for the chess championship, are loquacious types. Not into brevity. This scene is my response to Fandango’s prompt for today: OPPONENT.

For those fond of unique words I’m also tossing in Merriam Webster’s word of the day: FUGACIOUS (fleeting)

The Gracious Rivals

The eager audience began a hearty applause and media cameras whirred as the two champions appeared on stage. An ornate chessboard had been placed on a low table in the center of the circular stage, with a comfortable chair for each player. This match could take hours — days even.

Everyone fell silent as the two players approached each other and bowed courteously.

“Esteemed opponent,” said Zakaruscu, the older of the two, “It gives me great delight in meeting you for this game. I expect to be defeated today by such an admirable adversary as yourself.”

“Honorable rival,” Lo Chan replied, “It is my highest pleasure to match wits with you. Your prowess is notorious. Though I dare to challenge you and hope to play the man, you will undoubtedly be the winner.”

“Oh, worthy contender, I know you for a passionate devotee of chess. You’ve defeated many a great player and I’m certain you will put my skills to the test. Though I shall play to the best of my ability, I can easily see that you will emerge the victor in this game.”

“Oh, highly respected competitor,” Lo Chan countered, “Though I do hope to gain the victory in this match, I am certain your advanced years will give you a tremendous advantage over my lesser experience.”

Zakaruscu bristled. “I’m not that ancient.” He unclenched his teeth and took a deep breath. Onlookers noted his fugacious smirk. “Au contraire, I’m sure your youthful intelligence, fresh from the cradle, will give you a decided advantage.”

“Fresh from the cradle!” Lo Chan glared at his opponent in a most disrespectful manner. “Though I be your junior, I plan to tax your skills to the utmost in this match.”

“I’m certain that you shall, creditable competitor. However, I shall do my utmost to prove your abilities insufficient to overcome my mastery of the game.”

“I believe you shall find yourself soundly trounced, my renowned fellow pro.”

From off-stage someone yelled, “Three-minute commercial break! And after this, could you two sit down and start playing chess.”

The audience gave a rousing cheer.

Haiku Just-for-fun

My last just-for-fun haiku was well LIKE’d, so here are a few more that might give you a smile this morning. Which one do you like best?

abashed ambassador
sent home for breach of conduct
feeling disconsulate

*********************************

playing Monopoly
the money we made and lost
a rich childhood

*********************************

the last notice is terse:
time has come to be blunt —
their lawyer’s next vacation

Missing Ferrari

While I’m on the subject of jigsaw puzzles, here’s a humorous fiction piece first posted on Mar 13, 2016:

Mrs Carmine Incendia
988 Perplex Place
Perdue, AZ

Dear Madam,

Your letter of complaint arrived with the incoming post this morning and was immediately drawn to my attention. I can well believe that you were almost inconsolable on finding that the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle you purchased from us was incomplete.

As head supervisor in the packaging department it is my duty to ensure that none of our customers are inconvenienced in this manner. And may I assure you that the highest standards of quality control are exercised in our factory, far above — really quite incomparable — to other manufacturers of jigsaw puzzles and games.

As your letter has informed us, the box arrived at your home in good order with the pieces correctly sealed in their plastic bag. So any deficiency — if there be one — might possibly be due to some incompetence on our factory floor. It was very helpful of you to include the inspection slip with your letter so we can check this out further.

As you stated further, you alone opened the package and you alone worked on the puzzle in question. Having done jigsaw puzzles myself for years now, I trust it’s not inconceivable that one or two pieces may fall on the floor and be lost. However, I believe it is incomprehensible how twenty two pieces may have been omitted in packaging the product. And moreover, that these pieces should be the exact ones required to assemble the Ferrari in the photo would definitely indicate non-mechanical involvement.

As to your statement that a lawsuit over this is inevitable, permit me to suggest that lawsuits nowadays are expensive and, even in our society devoted to the good mental health of all residents, the sum of $2 million for “mental anguish incurred because of missing puzzle pieces” may be looked upon with some skepticism by most judges.

I’m happy to inform you that incidents like this are quite incompatible with our products and service as a whole. In fact, we’ve never had a complaint such as your before. We will definitely look into any impropriety on the part of our workers. By means of reimbursement, I am forwarding a new box containing this same puzzle plus two others in the same series that I trust you will enjoy.

May I also suggest, before you think of litigation, that you make inquiries of any young visitors to your home in the recent past — for example teenage grandsons — to ascertain whether they might have removed the aforementioned pieces, either as a practical joke or for some other personal reason. Should you decide to pursue legal action, no doubt law enforcement officers will be questioning your acquaintances closely on this matter.

Please address all further communication about this matter to me personally.

Yours most respectfully,

Tanner P Twiddleworth
Head of Quality Control
The Euphonic Puzzle Company, Incorporated

cc: McIntyre Bunkowski LaVentura Corporate Law Office

The Journey that Makes You Kind

Struck out

Struck out!

To the victorious:
the ribbons, the cheers,
the flush of accolades.

To the defeated
who’ve also run the race:
the pain, the tears.

Remember, my son
those who’ve tried and failed;
walk a mile in their shoes.
The journey will make you kind.

C.G.

From my upcoming book, Silver Morning Song

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