Your Destination Is On Your Right

“Turn left onto Oakfield Burns Avenue and continue for four miles.”

The distinctly female voice seemed almost snarky to Jim as he flipped on his turn signal and slowed for the light.  Oakfield Burns Avenue looked like a country road to nowhere.  Even in the fading evening light, he could see the spot up ahead where the asphalt stopped and it was just a dirt and gravel road after that.  After making the turn, he pulled onto the shoulder and shifted into park.

“Maybe I typed the wrong address,” he muttered, picking up his phone and expanding the map screen with his thumb and forefinger.  The streets zoomed up, names and places becoming clearer.  He stared at the map in confusion.  Oakfield Burns came to a dead end at Oakfield Cemetery.

“What the hell?”  

The location icon was on, he could see it at the top of phone’s screen.  What was wrong with the GPS?  He paged back through the screens to the starting point and retyped the address he wanted.  It only took a few seconds for the app to process his location and show him his route.  He pressed the navigate symbol and listened for the instruction.

“Continue on Oakfield Burns Avenue for four miles.”

Gripping the smartphone a little tighter he gritted his teeth as a sudden shiver went through his shoulders.

“This is crazy.”

“Continue on Oakfield Burns Avenue for four miles.  Your destination will be on your right.”

This time he was positive the voice sounded snarky.  Who programmed these things anyway?  He tossed the phone on the passenger seat and pressed on the brake pedal as he shifted into drive.  There was a gas station back about a quarter mile.  Maybe he could buy an actual map?

“Continue on Oakfield Burns Avenue for four miles.”

“Yeah, that’s not going to happen.”  He executed a perfect u-turn into the next lane and accelerated.

“Make a u-turn onto Oakfield Burns Avenue west and continue for four miles.”

“Oh Christ, that’s enough from you!”

Slamming on the brake, he grabbed the phone and exited out of the useless GPS app.  Once the screen was dark, he tossed it back onto the passenger seat, face down.  Grabbing the steering wheel with both hands he let go of the brake and pressed the accelerator again.

“Make a u-turn onto Oakfield Burns Avenue west and continue for four miles, Jim.”  Bitter, demanding and louder than was reasonably possible, the electronic, female voice filled the car.

His foot stamped on the brake pedal in shock as a flurry of goosebumps spread down his arms.  From the corner of his eye he could see the phone still on the seat, face down, just as he had placed it.

“Turn around, Jim.”

Another shivered rolled through him, this time along his spine.  Pressing his lips tightly together he made the u-turn and accelerated along the road, wincing slightly as his back tires skidded coming off the asphalt onto hard packed dirt.

“Continue on Oakfield Burns Avenue for four miles.”

“I know!”

“Your destination will be on your right.”

Holding the steering wheel with both hands as the car rocketed along, spinning gravel and rocks from beneath the tires, he refused to look at his phone the entire four miles.  Cresting a small rise, he saw the Oakfield Cemetery fan out below, the main entry gate directly across the road.

“Your destination is on your right.”

Slowing for the gate, he looked to the right.  A large, broken piece of statuary guarded the entrance.  It looked to be what was left of a once, white, angelic being heralding the way to eternal rest.  He stopped the car, his front bumper barely crossing the invisible threshold.

Pressing the button to roll down the passenger window, he grabbed the phone and hurled it at the statue.  A nasty smile spread over his face as heard the screen break.

“You have arrived at your destination,” he screamed!

Shoving the car into reverse he blasted away from the cemetery.

Monologue #20

This week has been one I would like to forget.  A few days ago my entire department descended into chaos and still hasn’t straightened itself out.  The company hired a new Big Guy who has been making changes that a lot of us are not comfortable with.  I’m sure most people like to believe they have a certain value within the company they work for, and to find out that value exists only in their heads can be ground shaking.  Well, that’s where I’m at.  My ground has been shook.  Once the dust settles, I hope to find myself in a slightly improved position with my day to day functions, but it has been an experience I do not wish to repeat.  The value I believed I had has been shown to be zero, a non-number with a value only as a place holder.  I am a body in a spot.  A different body can be put in my spot.  Eight years of service along with my twenty-three years of experience means nothing.

My dad had the ability to walk away from things without looking back.  I’m pretty sure he developed this ability after multiple encounters with disappointment.  Self-loathing is a terrible feeling.  To hang onto something or someone so fiercely that you compromise your own values simply because change is terrible, leaves you with questions about yourself you might not want to know the answers to.  I may not be as skilled as my dad was at saving my soul and walking away, but I certainly understand why it is necessary for me, as a person to cultivate this skill.

A job is a job.  Unfortunately I can’t replace this one with one of equal or greater financial value without ripping apart the life I have built.  I can only walk away so far.  When the dust truly settles I will be on a new shift working with people I barely remember.  This not a bad thing, it’s just different from what I’m used to.  It’s change.

Have a good week everyone.  Make like trees and bend in the storms.

I Know Your Face!

The sign on the door read: Laundry Thief!  5’ 4”, brown hair, hiding under the stairs.  I know your face!

Um, okay.  The stairs leading to the basement of my apartment building, a.k.a the laundry room, are actually quite open and non-threatening.  Aside from knowing there are twenty-nine of them, I’m not too bothered by the climb.  The picture below is not the actual stairs, but it gives you a good idea of how a saw them.   See all the light?

safeStairs

 Thanks to that sign, written in brown marker, and taped to the inside of the main entry door, I now have to go to the laundromat.  

notSafe

Monologue #19

I like to think I’m closing in on the end of my first novel.  There are still changes happening which has me a little concerned about time, but I’m still making progress so I’m just letting it happen.  The actual finish line isn’t as close as I would like it to be though.  My personal goal was to have this wrapped up by the end of June.  It’s looking like I’ll be pushing into July now.

I’m still looking mostly at Kindle for publishing.  The overall amount of information available through a simple Google search is mind-numbing.  I’m probably jumping the gun a bit, but I find myself researching when my brain has rejected the notion of writing anymore for the day.  It seems like I’m going strong for a few days, then BAM!  I’m staring at the computer screen without a single idea about how to connect my thoughts.  That’s when I shrug it off and spend a couple hours looking at publishing options.

Is anyone else partially writing their book on their phone?  Lol.  I spend a lot of my breaks at work tapping out words with my thumbs on my Note 5.  I can’t help myself.  Ideas ramble into my brain and I need to get them written down before I lose them.  Back in November, when I started this project in NaNoWriMo I think I wrote a full quarter of my word count on my phone.  It’s a tough way to go, but it works.

Happy Father’s Day!

Snippet #17

The instructions read: Push in on perforated area and pull up.  

Cassie stared at the perforated area, a small, triangle of space surrounded by tiny cuts in the cardboard.  Placing her finger over the spot she pushed lightly, testing the strength of the cuts.  In theory it should just break inward with a satisfying popping sound.  In theory…

Pressing harder, she noted the bowing of the top corner as the cardboard ignored the perforations, and its own printed instructions, and simply bent inward under the pressure.  Her lips compressed into an irritated line.  Why did she bother?  The instructions never worked yet she always gave it the old college try.

She hadn’t even gone to college.

Was that why she couldn’t open the box?  Was the trick to getting the perforations to work really just a matter of having a degree in something?

The entire, narrow side of the box collapsed under her finger as she pressed hard enough to explode a peach pit.  Still nothing.

Huffing angrily, she stopped pushing and grabbed the lid, forcing her finger under the glued edge and shredding the box top.  Dumping the contents into the pan of boiling water she grabbed a wooden spoon and maliciously churned the silver cheese package around with the macaroni.

Wolf Lessons

Charles snuffled the grass at his feet, dragging his snout through the dew and loose ground.  He could easily smell the squirrel.  It was so close he could probably swing his head around and find it staring him in the face.  Squirrels might be quick and all, but they weren’t the smartest.  Slow and deliberate, he stepped backwards, one foot at a time, like he wasn’t really thinking about turning around, just sniffing in reverse.

Mocking chitters rang out behind him.  Whirling on his back legs, Charles reared up and brought his front paws down hard on the empty earth behind him.  Blowing air through his muzzle, he glowered at everything he could see, looking for some sign of where the squirrel was hiding.  It was no good.  Not a blade of grass twitched in the night smeared forest.  He straightened his spine and whined into the darkness.  More chittering spilled down from the branches of the oak beside him.  Wrinkling his nose he looked up, his fangs flashing in the sliver of moonlight that managed to burrow down through the leaves.

“Well, that’s just rude,” he said staring at the tiny black orbs looking down at him.  “How can I ever catch you if you keep running up a tree?”  With a soft, complaining wuff, he dropped his rear end tiredly onto the ground.  “I give up.”

“I would expect you to have learned to look up by now.”  Giving him a scowl that only a squirrel can make, the rodent inched onto an overhanging branch and stretched out, letting its tail hang down.  “Wolves are especially praised for their intelligence.  What happened to you?”

“I’m tired.  We’ve been playing for hours.”  His voice was almost a whine.

Rubbing one foot across its face, the squirrel looked down with an expression of extreme judgement.

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I thought you wanted to learn to hunt.  If you’re too tired, by all means we will stop.”  Thoughtfully, it pulled at the small, branching leaves and let them pinwheel to the ground.

“You don’t need to be a bitch about it.”  Aggravated and not in the mood, he shook his shaggy head back and forth, dislodging the tree litter from his fur.

“Ooo, somebody needs a nap.”  

Another leaf floated down, twirling across his nose as it landed.  He gave the branch, and its occupant a hard look.

“We can start again tomorrow night.  I need to get some real food and try to sleep.”  Pushing against the ground with his front paws, Charles raised himself back to a standing position and tilted his head to stare at the red rat.  “You look like you could use a rest yourself.”

“How considerate of you.  Thinking not only of yourself at a time like this.”  With a sneer, it dropped another leaf.  “You are a prince among wolves.”

“Whatever!”  Charles wanted to rip the bushy tail down from its branch and fling it against the tree trunk.  The whole night had been nothing but chittering and mockery.  He was sick of it.  Maybe he would ask one of the cats to help him.  They at least knew how to hunt.  What did squirrels know about it?  The gathered nuts and stored them in knotholes.

“Fine, go home and take a hot bath like the human that you are.”  The squirrel sat up and began combing through its tail with its paws.  “When you decide you are serious about being a wolf, let me know.”

Lowering his head, Charles let his ears droop and looked stricken.

“You don’t have to be so mean,” he said softly.  “You have been a squirrel for years.  I have only been a wolf for a month.”

Pausing in its grooming, the squirrel twitched its nose and sniffed at him.

“My bad.  Clearly you should be given special consideration because you’re new.  The safety of werefolk everywhere should be disregarded while you grab a sandwich and a soda.”  The sound of the voice rose high in aggravation, morphing into a chitter.

Belatedly Charles realized that he could understand it.  Their conversation had changed from words to growls and squeaks.  Delighted with the novelty of it, he grinned, letting his tongue loll freely out one side of his jaws.

“Pffft!”  The squirrel pointedly turned its back and scratched at the branch with its back legs, sending a shower of bark down on the wolf.

With a tremendous leap, Charles sprang high into the air and closed his jaws tightly onto the bushy, well-groomed tail.  The squirrel shrieked with surprise as it was dragged forcefully to earth.

“Very clever,” it gasped, its whole pinned against the dirt by one massive wolf paw.  “You tricked me.”

“Not really.”  Charles growled through his teeth without letting go of the tail.  “I just got tired of your chatter.”  Lifting his foot, he gave a sharp twist of his head and flung the squirrel against the trunk of the oak.

Lightly he pawed at the body, confirming that the spine had broken.  He snuffled it thoroughly before crunching it between his jaws.  It wasn’t a large meal, not nearly enough to fill his belly, but definitely satisfying.  He had been correct, Squirrels were not the smartest animals in the forest.

Monologue #18

Another week has flown by.  The temperature here is close to 90 degrees and my antique AC unit is struggling.  This means I am not sleeping well.  Hopefully the maintenance guy will come tomorrow and fix it.  I have done as much as I am able with my trusty can of compressed air.  Now it’s their turn.  I have taken evasive action and strategically positioned my fans to produce a wind-tunnel effect in my small apartment.  The internal temperature is still in the low eighties but at least I have a breeze.

Smashing Pumpkins is pretty much on schedule.  The rough sleep has slowed down my concentration right now so I’m not moving as quickly as I was last week, but I’m still thinking I can be finished by the end of the month.  I’ve been trying to establish a workable format so I won’t have a ton of things to do when I’m ready to turn all the files into book form.  The mighty Oracle of Google has shown me a number of ways to accomplish this.  I even have cover art now!  My wife was kind enough to bust out her mad skillz and produce some options for me.

Also, I want to give a shout out to any LGBT followers.  It is June and that means… HAPPY PRIDE!  The festival here in Milwaukee was in full swing this past weekend.  While I did not participate this year due to my devotion to getting my book finished, my wife spent all of Sunday having a blast at the festival grounds and riding  with friends in the parade.  Our community here is strong and beautiful!  Stay Proud Milwaukee!