Easy (fiction)

From the Internet

A frigid wind whipped through the football stadium, and Edie thought she would freeze where she stood. She wished she’d stayed home and watched the game on TV. Rather than dealing with such discomfort. She could be curled up on her sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a hot buttered rum. For sure, she wasn’t a dyed-in-wool football fan. Stadiums were man-made low pressure areas, a place that generated arctic winds all their own. If her baby brother wasn’t quarterbacking for Colorado State she would not here at all.

“You’re a dollar short, lady,” the concessionaire growled.

“But that’s all the cash I have,” Edie said, gazing at the hamburger that, if measured, would be somewhat smaller than her father’s snuff can. “I can buy a Big Mac with fries for less than you’re asking for this miniature thing you’re offering me.”

“Then you’d best trot over to McDonald’s, lady. But If you want this one you’re gonna have to find more money.”

“Take this dollar and shut the hell up, Pal.” said a voice in the line behind her.

Edie whirled around to find a large man putting his wallet away. His sandy hair was parted on the left side. His well-trimmed beard and mustache were both a shade darker and curly. He smiled at Edie. “I’d wear a mask if I had to work here,” he said, directing his words at the concessionaire

“Thank you, ah, I don’t know your name.”

“Folks call me Easy. It’s short for my first two initials, E and Z, Elmer Zumwalt Tailor as your service, Miss.”

She waited while he bought coffee, then she introduced herself. Together, they made their way back to her seat near the fifty yard line, but halfway up. After they were settled she explained that winter sports were not her cup of tea. Adding: “If my baby brother hadn’t bought my ticket I wouldn’t be here at all.” Then she abruptly stopped talking. “But I’m ranting, aren’t I? Sorry.”

Easy didn’t explain what brought him to the game. Instead, she learned he is the new broadcast engineer for KPMG TV in Denver, having arrived from Seattle the previous day.

“Does that mean you are an announcer, or a weatherman?”

“No, it means that if something goes haywire with the transmitter I get called out of my warm bed – rain, sleet, or snow – to make the problem go away, no matter the hour.”

“Oh. I see,” she said, though she didn’t understand at all She didn’t have the foggiest idea what could possibly go wrong with a television station.

“I’m a CPA,” she ventured, hoping to divert the conversation to something of which she more familiar.

“That sounds interesting. It’s inside work. That’s a huge plus in this country during the winter months.”

“One would think so, that is until an auditor darkens the door. Then the environment can turn frigid very quickly while all CPAs do an instant recall of their previous six months, hoping there are no loose ends,” she said as they caught the shuttle for the trip up town.

“Without a doubt. I’m new in town. You wouldn’t happen to know of a Starbucks nearby, would you?” Easy asked as they stepped off the shuttle near the transit authority building.

“As a matter of fact, there is one two blocks from here,” Edie replied.

“Great. Will you join me in a cup?”

“Absolutely. It’s a great place to relax and warm our bones after that frigid football stadium.” And with that said, she guided him in the direction of Starbucks.

“So you said you’re new to town. How did you come to choose Denver?” she asked after they had their coffee and found a quiet, corner table.

“It’s my job,” he said, repeating the fact that was the broadcast engineer for a Denver television station, channel 7. “I was transferred from Seattle,” he relied, his pale blue eyes nailed to her face while he tested his coffee.

“I see. So are you an announcer, or are you the weatherman?” she asked.

“Neither one. I’m the guy who keeps the transmitter working properly,” Easy explained.

Easy sensed she was trying gloss over her last question, so he went into greater detail.

“I earned my electrical engineering degree at Oregon State and my first job took me to Binghamton, New York to help build a new station. From there I went to Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Scranton company owns the Seattle station as well as this one in Denver.”

“So your folks live in Oregon?”

“No, I grew up in Los Angeles. How about you?”

Edie remained silent for a moment, regrouping. “Well, I’ve done nothing so dramatic. I’ve worked for the same company, occupied the same desk in the same office since the beginning of recorded time – well fifteen years, actually.”

“Didn’t you ever marry?” Easy asked.

Wow, this guy gets right to the point, she thought to herself.

“Yes. I married Ted nine years ago. I’d probably still be married if he hadn’t died in a car crash four years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Any kids?”

“No, we were never blessed with children,” she said. The thought of no young ones always stung. She quickly rose from her chair and went for more milk, a diversion until the moment passed. With her back turned, she added, “This stuff is bit too bold. It needs more diluting.”

“Mine too,” he said, following her to the milk pitcher.

“We’re you ever married?” she asked.

Following her back to their table, he seemed focused on something only he could see. She couldn’t determine if it was good or bad, so she held her tongue and waited.

“I married a girl I met at Oregon State. Sharon. She was a party girl. Hard to keep up with. Our relationship was physical. Exciting, but getting an engineering degree was no cakewalk. I had to work at it. She thought I spent too time hitting the books and she finally gave me a choice – be her husband or be an engineer. I was stunned, but most of the passion and smoke had cleared for me by that time, so we drove to Reno over a Thanksgiving weekend and unwound everything. That was about eleven years ago. I haven’t heard from her since,” Easy explained through a crooked smile, his eyes downcast.

Edie sensed he still wasn’t over her, so she waited for the moment to pass.

“Can we do this again?” Easy finally asked after throwing down his last swallow of coffee.

“I’d like that,” she said jotting her home number on a napkin.

“Great. I’ll give you a ring in a few days. Maybe you can show me around Denver.”

She smiled and nodded.

After they returned to the parking garage to retrieve their cars Edie headed for home. She was going start watching more channel 7.

A frigid wind whipping through the football stadium, and Edie thought she would freeze where she stood. She wished she’d stayed home and watched the game on TV. Rather than dealing with such discomfort. She could be curled up on her sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a hot buttered rum. For sure, she wasn’t a dyed-in-wool football fan. Stadiums were man-made low pressure areas, a place that generated arctic winds all their own. If her baby brother wasn’t quarterbacking for Colorado State she would not here at all.

“You’re a dollar short, lady,” the concessionaire growled.

“But that’s all the cash I have,” Edie said, gazing at the hamburger that, if measured, would be somewhat smaller than her father’s snuff can. “I can buy a Big Mac with fries for less than you’re asking for this miniature thing you’re offering me.”

“Then you’d best trot over to McDonald’s, lady. But If you want this one you’re gonna have to find more money.”

“Take this dollar and shut the hell up, Pal.” said a voice in the line behind her.

Edie whirled around to find a large man putting his wallet away. His sandy hair was parted on the left side. His well-trimmed beard and mustache were both a shade darker and curly. He smiled at Edie. “I’d wear a mask if I had to work here,” he said, directing his words at the concessionaire

“Thank you, ah, I don’t know your name.”

“Folks call me Easy. It’s short for my first two initials, E and Z, Elmer Zumwalt Tailor as your service, Miss.”

She waited while he bought coffee, then she introduced herself. Together, they made their way back to her seat near the fifty yard line, but halfway up. After they were settled she explained that winter sports were not her cup of tea. Adding: “If my baby brother hadn’t bought my ticket I wouldn’t be here at all.” Then she abruptly stopped talking. “But I’m ranting, aren’t I? Sorry.”

Easy didn’t explain what brought him to the game. Instead, she learned he is the new broadcast engineer for KPMG TV in Denver, having arrived from Seattle the previous day.

“Does that mean you are an announcer, or a weatherman?”

“No, it means that if something goes haywire with the transmitter I get called out of my warm bed – rain, sleet, or snow – to make the problem go away, no matter the hour.”

“Oh. I see,” she said, though she didn’t understand at all She didn’t have the foggiest idea what could possibly go wrong with a television station.

“I’m a CPA,” she ventured, hoping to divert the conversation to something of which she more familiar.

“That sounds interesting. It’s inside work. That’s a huge plus in this country during the winter months.”

“One would think so, that is until an auditor darkens the door. Then the environment can turn frigid very quickly while all CPAs do an instant recall of their previous six months, hoping there are no loose ends,” she said as they caught the shuttle for the trip up town.

“Without a doubt. I’m new in town. You wouldn’t happen to know of a Starbucks nearby, would you?” Easy asked as they stepped off the shuttle near the transit authority building.

“As a matter of fact, there is one two blocks from here,” Edie replied.

“Great. Will you join me in a cup?”

“Absolutely. It’s a great place to relax and warm our bones after that frigid football stadium.” And with that said, she guided him in the direction of Starbucks.

“So you said you’re new to town. How did you come to choose Denver?” she asked after they had their coffee and found a quiet, corner table.

“It’s my job,” he said, repeating the fact that was the broadcast engineer for a Denver television station, channel 7. “I was transferred from Seattle,” he relied, his pale blue eyes nailed to her face while he tested his coffee.

“I see. So are you an announcer, or are you the weatherman?” she asked.

“Neither one. I’m the guy who keeps the transmitter working properly,” Easy explained.

Easy sensed she was trying gloss over her last question, so he went into greater detail.

“I earned my electrical engineering degree at Oregon State and my first job took me to Binghamton, New York to help build a new station. From there I went to Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Scranton company owns the Seattle station as well as this one in Denver.”

“So your folks live in Oregon?”

“No, I grew up in Los Angeles. How about you?”

Edie remained silent for a moment, regrouping. “Well, I’ve done nothing so dramatic. I’ve worked for the same company, occupied the same desk in the same office since the beginning of recorded time – well fifteen years, actually.”

“Didn’t you ever marry?” Easy asked.

Wow, this guy gets right to the point, she thought to herself.

“Yes. I married Ted nine years ago. I’d probably still be married if he hadn’t died in a car crash four years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Any kids?”

“No, we were never blessed with children,” she said. The thought of no young ones always stung. She quickly rose from her chair and went for more milk, a diversion until the moment passed. With her back turned, she added, “This stuff is bit too bold. It needs more diluting.”

“Mine too,” he said, following her to the milk pitcher.

“We’re you ever married?” she asked.

Following her back to their table, he seemed focused on something only he could see. She couldn’t determine if it was good or bad, so she held her tongue and waited.

“I married a girl I met at Oregon State. Sharon. She was a party girl. Hard to keep up with. Our relationship was physical. Exciting, but getting an engineering degree was no cakewalk. I had to work at it. She thought I spent too time hitting the books and she finally gave me a choice – be her husband or be an engineer. I was stunned, but most of the passion and smoke had cleared for me by that time, so we drove to Reno over a Thanksgiving weekend and unwound everything. That was about eleven years ago. I haven’t heard from her since,” Easy explained through a crooked smile, his eyes downcast.

Edie sensed he still wasn’t over her, so she waited for the moment to pass.

“Can we do this again?” Easy finally asked after throwing down his last swallow of coffee.

“I’d like that,” she said jotting her home number on a napkin.

“Great. I’ll give you a ring in a few days. Maybe you can show me around Denver.”

She smiled and nodded.

After they returned to the parking garage to retrieve their cars Edie headed for home. She was going start watching more channel 7.

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Her (fiction)

Photo Source: Internet

I awakened from a fitful sleep when the southbound Greyhound rocked heavily and the diesel engine flared as the driver took the Gold Hill exit off Interstate 5. Darkness had settled over the Rogue Valley while I dozed and scores of glowing windows greeted us as the coach slowed. Then the air brakes hissed and the coach rolled heavily as the driver edged off the highway and then came to a stop at the Shell gas station that served as the Gold Hill bus station. This is unusual, I said to myself, as a young slender woman boarded and then made her way down the aisle.

“May I sit with you?” she asked in little more than a whisper, her hand resting on the aisle side armrest.

“Of course. By all means,” I said, quickly straightening up in my seat and then switching on the overhead light. I was pleased that she had chosen to sit by me. “It’s snowing?” I asked, noting her tracks on the aisle floor. In reality, however, I was trying to justify why I could not pull my eyes from her face.

“Yes, its started minutes before the bus arrived. My name’s Cynthia,” she said as she took her place beside me.

“I’m very pleased to meet you. My given name is Sonny, but everybody calls me Legs.”

“Legs? I’m certainly interested in hearing the story behind that name,” she said, a gentle smile spreading across her face, exposing straight teeth.

“Well, it’s a name given me early in my air force career.”

“You’re in the air force? So am I. I’d like to hear more of your story.”

I wished I’d not mentioned Legs. But…. “We were issued short pants at the start of air force basic training. I swore I’d never wear them, but it didn’t work out that way. In order to reach our electronic school we had to pass a reviewing stand, all 640 of us marching twelve abreast. The powers that be dictated a uniform-of-the-day. And every Wednesday, believe it or not, was short-pants-day.

The first Wednesday people made remarks about my legs and before the first day was out the others addressed me as such. I finally asked a friend about it, what was wrong with my legs. “They’re, twisted or something,” the guy said. “Gee, thanks, buddy. Thanks a lot,” I said.

Tech school lasted nine months. By the time I’d finished the name Legs had stuck. It’s followed me everywhere. It was like the word was stenciled on my forehead,” I explained.

She remained silent for a long moment, smiled but made no comment.

I asked how far she was going while my eyes admired her rich auburn hair

“California. You?”

“I’m returning to Beale Air Force Base. It’s near Marysville. I’ve been visiting my folks in Portland,” I replied. “Where in California are you headed, exactly?”

“I’m going to Beale also. I’m a clerk typist. What’s your job?” she asked, half turning in her seat. I tried not to stare, but her breasts were straining hard against her blouse and they captured my eyes like a magnet attracts iron filings. My groin tingled and for a moment I thought I’d lost my voice.

“I’m a maintainer in the A&E Squadron,” I replied after a pause that lasted far too long. I forced my eyes back to her face, but not before her breasts had burned an image into my retinas. My ears burned like they were recovering from frostbite. I could only imagine how red they were.

“Maintainer? What’s that?”

“i work on the flight line. I fix airplanes – avionics, com/nav shop. We call ourselves maintainers. It’s our job to maintain the communications and navigation systems, keep them working at factory specifications so the flight crews can locate their assigned targets and then find their way back home,” I explained.

“Okay. I think I understand.”

By this time her skirt had moved several inches above her knees. My brain began multitasking, at least trying to and I was thankful she didn’t ask me any more questions because I was having trouble focusing.

We both sat in silence for several minutes. The sound of the bus engine changed. Glancing outside I noticed the we were starting into the Siskiyou Mountains. Through the windshield I saw the snowfall had increased significantly. I turned to bring her attention to that, but in our brief silence she’d dozed off, and her head had rolled to the side facing me and she’d dozed off. Maybe I spent too long admiring her, because she seemed to sense something. Her lids fluttered. Then she came fully awake and smiling at me.

“I must have dozed off. I’m not very good company,” she admitted.

“No worries. You’ve just proven the truth in one of Greyhound’s jingles,” I said.

“And what is that one?”

“Take a bus and leave the driving to us,” or something to that effect.”

She smiled but made no remark, closed her eyes instead.

“You don’t care for bus travel, do you?” I asked.

“If I owned a car I would have driven and traveled on my own schedule. So to answer your question in one word – No.”

An extended silence followed except for occasional bursts of small talk. Soon, she dropped off again and as we rounded a turn she said over against me, her head on his shoulder.

Gray dawn was spreading over Marysville as we waited for the baggage handler.

“What’s your grade, Legs?” Cynthia asked.

“Staff Sergeant. Yours?”

“I’m just an E2. I’m surprised being an E5 you don’t own a car.”

“Oh but I do.”

“If I owned a car I certainly wouldn’t have ridden this bus,” she explained.

“You slept a good many of the miles we traveled. If you ask me, I think you’d have stopped at a motel during the night or found yourself stuck in a snow bank. There’s one thing for sure.”

“What’s that?”

”If you’d driven I would have never met you.”

She opened her mouth as though she had a response ready. But my statement brought her up short. A smile spread across her face and then she reached out and touched his hand. “You are absolutely correct, Legs. But now with that part of our trip solved how are we going to get to Beale, walk?”

“I’ll call somebody to come fetch us. But first things first. Let’s put our bags in a locker in the bus station. Then let’s hike to Richard’s Diner and solve our problem over a plate of ham and eggs, my treat.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. Come along, lady,” I said taking her hand. “So when do you have to sign in from leave?” I asked after we’d claimed a booth.

“Tomorrow at midnight,” she replied. You have any suggestions besides the barracks day room or the beer garden?”

“Well, I’m suggesting a few hours sleep. What say I pick you up about noon today and we’ll drive to San Francisco – check out Fisherman’s Wharf, listen to some Dixieland Jazz at Club Hangover, ride a cable car, for openers? What do you think?”

“That sounds wonderful.”

“Then it’s a done deal,” I said as I moved my arms so the waitress could deliver our breakfasts.

Travels With A Donkey In The Cerennes,

I was elated to discover Travels With A Donkey In the Cerennes on line, free of charge through LibriVox Recording. Strange as it may seem, I was not aware this book existed until a dozen years ago while reading Footsteps, by Richard Holmes, a British Romantic Biographer.

Holmes followed Stevenson’s path across France duplicating his trek, taking his meals at the same time and sleeping where he slept. Holmes achieved his goal for the mostpart. However, the driving force behind this journey would remain a mystery for awhile.

From published essays Holmes determined that Stevenson was on the trail of Fanny Osborne, An Indiana woman ten years his senior, the woman he would eventually wed.

1964 Hurricane

Our Rented House

The resent flurry of Atlantic hurricanes caused me to focus on my 1960s experiences. Of course, my recollections don’t nearly approach the damage Maria caused the island of Puerto Rico and her neighbors.

I think it was 1964 when a hurricane brushed across the southern part of the island, causing damage to the city of Ponce.

Barb and I were renting a concrete house near the village of Isabela while our landlord and his family lived behind us in a questionable house (causing me to recall the story of The Three Pigs) made of wood which he claimed his aunt had built sometime in the last quarter of the 19th Century.

Come stay with us so your family will be safe,” I suggested. “Thank you, but we will be find,” he replied.

Yet, sometime after midnight, while the wind shook everything that it could move, we awoke to a pounding at our door. He, his wife, and their three children were on our stoop and in dire need of shelter.

Unlike Marie, the hurricane left our electrical power and our other conveniences intact. Barb rolled out of bed to make sandwiches, coffee, and cookies for our wet visitors.

By dawn the storm had moved offshore and then stalled, churning in place, as it were. Noting this unsettling phenomenon, our “weather-guesser” assigned to our Ramey Air Force Base Television Station – a low-powered UHF station – assured us that we could forget the hurricane. “They can’t back up,” he stated. His advisory was still ringing in my ears when the storm began seesawing back and forth across Cuba – four times in all – causing Fidel to issue machetes to every able-bodied citizen in order to harvest the sugar cane before it rotted in the fields.

A few days later our bomb wing returned and life returned to a dull roar.

The Street Vendor

A lifetime ago I used to walk to Woolworth’s Five and Dime on Friday night and wait on my mother to finish cutting window blinds. She always stopped at the corner of Colorado and Maringo Streets to by ready-to-eat tamales from the street vendor. They were the size of today’s pound hamburger roll and cost five cents (It was 1945).

Fast forward 72 years….Barb made tamale pie for lunch today using cornmeal, chicken, brown sugar, and mustard seed. The first bite sent me back to the vendor man.

Once Again September Has Come and Gone

This year the trees answering their DNA memories are dropping their leaves in spite of an extra warm autumn. It’s time to give up what has been cherished all summer long. Some things are not so willingly released. The presence of our dog, Mr. Black, is one case in point.

He came to us from a Texas animal shelter as a $10 dog. And he stated low maintenance for more than a decade. We were honored to be his guardians for nearly 15 years. During that time he became a full-fledged member of our family with privileges given thereof.

The gleaming things on his color are bells. He rang them to gain our attention when the need arose.

Rocking Horses

In our neighborhood is a need for children’s toys. So I’ve begun doing what little I can to bring joy to little ones using a jig saw and sand paper, paint, and patience..

I built a couple dozen while we lived in Texas, so this isn’t a shot in the dark. There are seven pieces in all. I have them cut out.  The photo is proof of progress. I should have this one ready by Wednesday and ready for deliver. More pictures coming.

It’s fun, but I’m tired.

Whatever It Took To Save Lives

From the Internet

Whatever It Took To Save Lives

My American Legion magazine arrived in my mailbox today. Though it covers many subjects the one that interested me most was the story of a Vietnam Nurse. She served in what was called MASH during Korea. Her story was not much different from a book I read many years ago. Even though her story impacted me, I I’ve long since forgotten the title. If you were to ask me, in a single sentence, what I took away from the book, it was that after Korea five years passed before she could eat beef.

I’m an air force veteran who served ten years active duty. No, I’m not a combat veteran. I don’t have any metals, ribbons, war stories, or battlefield injuries. I was an aircraft maintainer – airborne communications-navigation.

My first duty station after boot camp and then a year-long electronic education in avionics was Charleston AFB, South Carolina. My job was to maintain aircraft flying troops to and from Europe, Africa, South America, etc.. But about twice each week an air evacuation plane – a hospital flight – arrived from Germany with injured troops bound for Walter-Reed.

The aircraft commander always called ahead with his safety-of-flight problems and we were issued priority repair orders. Fix it as quickly as possible. Each patient had his own nurse and the atmosphere in the fuselage was absolute silence, with the exception of the sound of the ground power unit.

The aircraft I was most often assigned to was the C-121 – Super Connie – and some my equipment was located in the baggage area below the floor. A trapdoor gave access to this super-hot area beneath the floor we called the Hell Hole. Often I had to have the medic move a gurney wheel far enough to gain access.

Focus

I was four when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and Gabrial Heatter shared his radio news hour with FDR. Most of the words the president spoke were beyond my vocabulary. I didn’t even fully comprehend why my four uncles responded to their draft notices. But I understood rationing of food.

We had no Kix, Cheerios, Lucky Charms, or Shredded Wheat shot from Cannons (so the commercial claimed). Instead we had the un-rationed oatmeal, porridge, gruel – call it what you like. I consumed my share. When the thought of it with molasses for sweetener turned my stomach I could have crackers and milk or bread and milk.

Today, 2017, a bowl of either brings my young childhood back into sharp focus.