He Had It All Planned

Last week’s Crimson Creative Challenge was the picture of an old bridge with a tunnel underneath. See it Here. I wrote this story in my head, but only now have I got it in a proper file.

It’s a modern romantic tale — a bit silly perhaps. Sadly, it violates Crimson’s 150-word limit by almost 600 words, so I’m going to use a different picture and post it as my response to today’s Word of the Day prompt: CAREFUL. Nevin’s plans were carefully made, but he didn’t factor in one little unknown that made all the difference.

 

Tunnel.Nuremberg

THE TUNNEL OF LOVE

“Here we are.” Nevin and Wendy got out of the car. “Let’s get us one of those paddle boats and sail away.”

Wendy’s eye sparkled. “I love paddle boats.”

Ten more minutes, he thought, smiling. Everything’s set up and the operation will be in full swing before she catches on.

But Wendy had stopped and was staring toward the dark opening. “Umm… Is that the tunnel you want to go through? It’s so…dark.”

“That’s the idea, sweetheart. Couples do a little smooching in the shadows before they come out the other side.” He kissed her cheek. “And I’ll be right beside you.” He took her hand and tugged her toward the paddle boat rentals.

She turned to him, her face pale. “Uh… I don’t think I can do this.”

Nevin raised his brows in surprise. “Why? You’re not scared of the dark, are you?”

“No. It’s just that when we were children my brother and I explored a cave one day. We didn’t know bats were roosting in it and our light scared them.” She shuddered. “We were so terrified. All those bats flying around us…and that awful squeaking. I’ll never forget it.”

“But there’s nothing to be scared of here. You can believe the River Council won’t allow any bats to roost in their tunnel. Come on. You’ll like it inside.”

They walked closer to the tunnel’s mouth and Wendy peered in, just as several high-pitched squeals drifted out of the tunnel. “Ack,” she shrieked and jumped back.

Nevin groaned. What’s he doing in there anyway? Tuning the thing? I’m gonna have some sharp words for him about his rotten timing.

Wendy was clinging to him now. “I’m sorry, Nev. I just can’t go in there.” The desperate note in her voice tugged at his heart.

Nevin pictured his careful plans sailing south. “Okay, I don’t want to force you to do something that terrifies you. You go back to the car, Wendy. I have to make a phone call.”

He pulled out his cellular as Wendy walked back to the parking lot alone, probably still thinking about bats. He kicked at a protruding cobblestone. Once he knew she’d be out of hearing, he dialed and waited for Cole to answer.

“Plans blew up,” he said. “Who knew she’d be scared of dark tunnels. And bats.” Nevin gritted his teeth. “It didn’t help that she heard some squeaks from the tunnel at the worst possible moment.”

“Hey, man, so sorry about that. I had no idea. Just doing a bit of…never mind. I’ll still get paid, won’t I? It’s my time. I need the cash.”

Nevin blew out a sigh. “Yes, you’ll still get paid. We’ll work something else out.” He ended the call, shoved his one back in his pocket and headed for the car.

“Who knew,” Cole grumbled, replacing his violin back in its case. He brushed the strings lovingly before closing the lid.

“Women!” He yanked at the balloon strings he’d wrapped around a loose stone. And what was he supposed to do with these? The neighbour kids would probably like some balloons. They wouldn’t care about the writing… But they couldn’t be left floating around; he’d best just pop them.

He frowned when several strings pulled loose. Before he could grab them again, a capricious breeze swept the two bobbing balloons out of the tunnel. Cole shrugged and took a better hold on the others. Picking up his violin, he headed out the other exit.

“Look, Nev!” Wendy, standing beside the car, pointed. “Those balloons just blew out of the tunnel! Hey, there’s even some writing on them.”

Nevin slapped his forehead. He was so going to have words with Cole. Maybe I’ll only pay him half what he asked for.

If the breeze would at least move the things away, but no. The balloons dipped down and bobbed toward them; now Wendy was racing to catch one. Talk about the best laid plans going awry.

She succeeded in grabbing the end of a dangling string. “It says… Oooooh,” she squealed. “It says, ‘I love you Wendy. Please marry me’.” She turned to him with a huge grin. “Oh, Nevin, you’re so romantic!”

“At least I was trying to be,” he replied. “Things didn’t work out as planned.”

“Oh. You had these in the tunnel…and I spoiled it. But these balloons popped out at just the right time. And my answer is yes!” She flung herself into his arms. “I would be delighted to marry you.”

He grinned and wrapped her in a tight hug. “Then we have a perfect ending.”

The Winnings Disappear

Here’s Sammi’s latest writing challenge. You can check out the rules at her blog HERE. Many thanks for hosting this, Sammi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 89-word tale is a take-off from an account I read on another blog. The writer was the one watching the frustrated lotto winner waiting for the check that never came. Be careful out here. As someone once said, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

The Winnings Disappear…And What Else?

“Unbelievable! Great! See you there.” Gord hung up and turned to Marlyss. “We’ve won big, sweetheart! They’re bringing our check to CrackerJacks. Let’s go.”

“We’ll replace this furniture,” Marlyss said as they dashed out.

“We’ll replace this house,” Gord amended.

Two hours later, frustrated, Gord ended the call. “Three times I’ve given them directions. I can’t believe they can’t find this place!”

Another diner leaned their way. “Better check what’s happening at home. Maybe better take a cop along.”

Exchanging looks of horror, the couple dashed for the door.

The Worrywart and the Cave

Today’s Word of the Day prompt is GALLERY. I was dismayed when I saw this word, wondering what I could ever write about a gallery. My only thought being art gallery, until I checked with Merriam-Webster and learned that an art gallery is only #4 on their seven-point list of definitions.

The preeminent meaning is: a covered promenade or corridor.
The second is an outdoor balcony, porch, or veranda
The third is a long, narrow passage, even a subterranean passageway in a cave or a mine shaft. Ah! A twinkle’s coming through…

One definition is: “the highest balcony in a theater commonly having the cheapest seats
b : the part of a theater audience seated in the top gallery
c : the undiscriminating general public”
This variation brought to mind an expression we teens used half a century ago:
“No comments from the peanut gallery.”

Now that I have a wider range to work with and the twinkling of an idea, I’ll begin my response to the prompt.

The Worrywart and the Cave

“Just discovered it last week and went through again yesterday,” Ozzie told his sweetheart, “It’s absolutely gorgeous down there, and no one else has found it yet. Come on, I’ll show it to you.”

Polly frowned. “Are you sure it’s safe? What if we get lost?”

“The path is easy to follow and I’ve got a great flashlight. Trust me, it’ll be perfectly safe. Listen, sweetie, being a worrywart is a drag. You can’t always think about what might go wrong or you’ll never try anything. You’ll miss out on LIFE. Come on, let’s check it out.”

A few hours later they parked in a secluded spot not far from the cave entrance and set out on their spelunking adventure. Polly grabbed her purse as they left they car.

“Surely you’re not going to take your purse along? It’ll just be a weight you don’t need.”

“I’m not leaving it in the car. Someone might steal it.”

Ozzie rolled his eyes. “There’s no one else anywhere near here. You worry about the silliest things.”

“I’m taking it. A girl never knows when she’ll need a tissue or something.”

Fifteen minutes later the couple was deep inside the cave. Polly followed Ozzie through the gallery with a little stream flowing beside it. “Don’t you think we should have brought another flashlight, just in case,” she asked.

Ozzie groaned. “This has lots of power left. Stop fretting and enjoy the scenery!”

A moment later the passageway opened up in front of them and they saw the most beautiful display of natural architecture. Ozzie’s flashlight played on the stalagmites and stalactites in intriguing formations. “And here we are. Didn’t I tell you it was awesome? Nature’s limestone gallery in grand display!”

Polly gasped. “This is so amazing!” She looked at the clear pool of water beside the ledge they stood on. “That must be the purest water ever. Do you think anything lives in there?”

“Can you imagine anything living in this kind of darkness?” He shut off his flashlight.

“Now, aren’t you glad you came? You wouldn’t want to miss an adventure like this.”

“Oh,” Polly squealed. “Be careful. It’s so black!”

“Absolutely devoid of any light” Ozzie spread his arms enthusiastically. The hand holding the flashlight bashed against the cave wall. There was a metallic clunk and a splash.

Polly screamed. “What was that? Ozzie, turn the light on!”

“Uh… That was the light. I banged my hand on the wall and lost my grip.”

“Oh, no! What’ll we do? How will we find our way out?” Polly’s voice rang with terror.

“Not to worry. We’ll just turn around and follow the ledge back out again. Easy peasy.”

Polly heard Ozzie moving and guessed he’d turned around. She squeezed against the cave wall to let him pass.

He brushed by her. “Just follow the sound of my voice and we’ll be out of here…aaah!” Polly heard a big splash, then a lot of floundering.

“S-s-slippery. I…fell in,” Ozzie gasped in the darkness. More splashing. “It’s deep…and so cold. Where’s the ledge? I can’t find it.”

Polly sighed, then groped in her purse and pulled out the little flashlight she always carried. She clicked it on and the cave was dimly lit. She set the light carefully on the ledge and reached into her purse again.

“Grab hold of this and hang on,” she ordered, tossing Ozzie a length of nylon rope.

A few minutes later he was sitting on the ledge, dripping wet and shivering.

Polly picked up the flashlight. “We’d better get out of here. You’ll want to get changed.”

Ozzie nodded and shivered some more. Then he got up and stumbled along the gallery behind Polly.

As they made their way to the car, Polly suggested, “Maybe we worrywarts are such a drag because we haul along all the things we might need in an emergency?”

“Yeah. I don’t suppose you have a towel in there, too?”

Book: Patrolling the Heart of the West

True Tales of a Nevada State Trooper

by Steve Raabe

Patrolling the Heart of the West: True Tales of a Nevada State Trooper by [Raabe, Steve]

Every now and again I finish a book and think, “Everyone should read this!” That was my reaction yesterday when I finished the final chapter in Trooper Steve Raabe’s accounts of incidents in his life patrolling the highways in Nevada.

Five Stars from me! I found the writer’s on-the-job tales informative as well as interesting and well told. I think every American — and motorists everywhere — should read this book to get a clearer picture of what the job entails for the man behind the badge, the officer who pulls them over to warn them about that missing tail light, hand them a citation for speeding, or order them to buckle up.

I learned something myself in regard to an experience I once had in the States, when I came up to, and finally passed a patrol car going about 10mph below speed limit. Officer Raabe explains why this is a practice among patrolmen, how it’s helpful for spotting problems, like expired license plates and shifty-looking drivers. 🙂

Raabe shares his memories with compassion and a delightful humor. I appreciate that he hasn’t sensationalized or gone into gruesome details of accidents. He tells a few stories about speeders who paid the price, and of needless deaths because the driver and/or passenger wasn’t/weren’t buckled in. Yet he doesn’t come across in a preachy tone.

In addition to the on-the-road threat of armed-and-dangerous criminals, department favoritism or hostilities can sometimes make a cop’s job miserable. In one chapter we read how, sadly, even in the police force, administrative high-handed interference and imprudence can derail a promising career.

I think this book would be useful in driver training classes, a great asset for fostering understanding and compassion between police and beginning drivers. While the writing is overall quite clean, there are a few places where the author repeats the exact words spoken to him.

The Yellow Brick Road?

Here’s my response to Crimson’s Creative Challenge #40. A bit of nonsense maybe, but I had fun imagining where this trail might take a person. 🙂

Can This Be The Yellow Brick Road?

“You need to follow the yellow brick road,” someone told me. “That’s where your dreams will all come true.”

I googled yellow brick road and it brought up an album by Elton John. It appears his dream has come true, but I was actually hoping for a successful career on Wall Street.

So I programmed the navigation system in my car for “yellow brick road” and followed the voice carefully. However, when the synthetic lady told me to head west on County Road #64, a narrow lane, I got a bit nervous. What kind of career awaits me out here in the boonies?

I abandoned the car when the country road morphed into Shady Trail. After a thirty-minute hike I’m seeing a shining path ahead, but it doesn’t look like yellow bricks. Still, I kind of like the peace and quiet here. Perhaps I’ll become a famous naturalist.

The Project

I’ve decided to try the 50 Word Thursday Challenge #31, offered this week at Tales from the mind of Kristian.

You are to write a picture to go with the following image. Your story must be between 50 and 250 words, in 50 word increments. (so 50, 100, 150, 200 or 250 words). Mine is exactly 200. And you must use the following line in your story:
“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

DSC07310.JPG

 

THE PROJECT

“Can’t you just see it?”

“Nope. Nope. Never.”

“Hey, where’s your fighting spirit? This site would be perfect.”

“Do you have any idea how much opposition we’d face?”

“It may not be as bad as you think. Listen, Ashton, if you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

“And moving all these graves… We can’t just pave over them. The descendants will howl.”

“I don’t know about that. People are tired of this old mess — they’d be delighted to see something attractive. We’ll set the stones along one edge and this can be the new Fifth Street Park.”

“Well, that’s one option… And the church would be easy enough to knock down. Someone’ll be delighted to salvage the beams and windows.”

“Now you’re talking. I’m positive that if we offer the City Council a high-rise hotel here, stressing the revenue potential, and throw the promise of a park, they’ll get on board.”

“Okay. I’ll draw up a plan and get an architect’s rendering to present. But you’re the spokesman for this project, Lance. You deal with hostile descendants, reporters, and feisty seniors from the Historic Preservation Society threatening us with their brollies.”