I still write but….

I had decided not to share all my ideas. I guess you’ll each have to wait until I am a famous writer. =)

Sorry, I haven’t written. I’m getting over bad weather funk.

   The up-until-recent cold temperatures have kept my brain in suspended animation. I have little more than voluntary muscles control maintaining heartbeat and breathing for the last several month. I hope this 70 degree weather weekend helps drag me out of it.

    I have had many ideas recorded into my digital recorder. However, I need to get them on paper.

    Wish me luck!

The Vampire who almost missed cheerleading practice

          The headlight glare of an oncoming car drifted across the face of a young woman driving home. The moonlit shadows of trees took their place again on the road as the pair of growling engines return to quiet purr of of one. Although her high school football team had won the State Championship earlier that evening, Cindy was coming home after her own private celebration. Knowing her parents  wouldn’t be expecting her home early tonight, this hard-working straight A student knew she’d come home to a quiet house.  Normally, she wouldn’t have to do a lot of explaining. Tonight’s celebration, however, had gone farther than she liked. Behind the wheel of the family Buick, she reached for now overstretched collar of the dark sweater she wore and felt the sticky moistness of coagulating blood on it. Her hands slid down her front to check again if she’d been hurt. Free from obvious injury, she wiped the remaining blood from her chin and rested her hand back in her lap as she drove. Relieved that her letter jacket had escaped the red spatter, she left it folded in the seat next to her.  Blood could always be cleaned up, but things were more complicated now. Her problem was still sitting in the back seat. The body of the boy was slumped over, dead.  His remaining blood had filled the footwell below him. In the morning, the opposing team’s community would discover their star quarterback was missing. They would be looking for him. This, she thought, could be a problem.

   (This is my first attempt at a horror story.  I simply wanted to write a compelling first paragraph to draw the reader in. I may flesh this story out (pun intended) later.)

Old Nick, Line One

The mid-morning sun continued bleaching Calvin Phillip’s beige blinds white as he sat quietly in the office of his rural Pennsylvania home. Sunlight reflected off the walls filled with dark wooden plaques with etched brass plates. File cabinets stood guard in front of sun-faded floral wallpaper. Warm dry air of the room held the scent of old paper and pencil shavings. A pair of padded winged chairs, retired from living room use, sat in front a busy Mr. Phillips at his large oak desk. While his desk held a collection of old family pictures, paperweights, and bins; this room represented a lifetime’s commitment to insurance. Today would be another day. There was a policy to sell. There were always policies to sell. That would all change with one phone call.

 

     Calvin Phillips found himself in the insurance profession early in life. Spending time in his father’s insurance office led to the discovery of a career that celebrated his love of number crunching. Working summers evolved into a full-time desk job. Calvin would answer the phone, do filing, and eventually became a licensed agent. Being a traditional young man, Calvin followed his father’s advice of settling down and married his high school sweetheart shortly after graduation. His family, like his father’s business, had grown. Along with bringing 4 children into the world, Calvin had also tripled the customers to his father’s agency. However, the good news of the success had been cut short with his father’s sudden death. Calvin’s new role lengthened his work day and his work week. Getting up to speed with the finances changed into trying to regain customers. Calls couldn’t be returned. Relationships were lost. Time was needed to rebuild them.

 

     His wife pleaded with him to take time for his family, too. Baseball games, swim meets, and piano recitals would come and go without him. He compromised by setting up his office at home to work from there. His family later discovered that his physical presense still did not replace his emotional absense. He said that he wanted to provide a good home for his family, and work is how he did that. In time, futility silenced the pleas for being a more active father. Graduations came and went until finally only Calvin and his wife shared their home. The pleas for attention returned briefly. However, the vacations and get-aways that were held off were eventually we no longer planned. He reassured her that he was working to make sure they could both retire comfortably.Until one day, he became a widower after his wife died in a car accident not far from their home. The insurance company had been their for him. He missed his wife but he thought they had a good life together.

 

            With an empty house, he now devoted all of his time to selling insurance. Telling himself it was to keep him from grieving but he had never had time for emotion before. He felt he had achieved much of the sales success in life because he was able to manage the few emotions he let himself feel. The focus should be on the customer.Part of that focus had been to shun all forms of technology. He didn’t want anything between him and his clients. Subsequently, the last form purchased had been a calculator which was employed only to double-check his handwritten work. The computer was not to be trusted and would just add to an already stressful job. His father was able to build his success this way and so would he. His clients had always been slightly amused at this quirk but had always trusted his thoroughness. They were still all grateful his compromise included having a telephone. However, he fought any efforts which would have him relinquish his large beige rotary phone. A small row of buttons awaited their turn to glow white with incoming calls.

 

      This morning started slowly which was usually the case. However, as the day approached noon, he started wondering why his work had not been interrupted by any calls. He reached for the receiver, listened for a tone, heard one, then replaced the handset. It sounds like I still have service he thought. Things will probably pick up after lunch. So he returned to review the paperwork of one client before he mailed it to the company. He carefully folded his work and placed it in an envelope. He glanced over at his mail bin on the corner of his desk. That’s strange he thought. The mailman hasn’t been by either today. I should probably call the post office and have someone come out again. He picked up the phone and dialed. The pulse dial clicked through the numbers and the phone went silent. Calvin hung up and tried dialing the number again. The clicking yielded the same response. As he set the phone down, he noticed the pile of mail had grown. This was very odd. He remembered his lack of phone calls and saw that it was now 3:00 pm. There had been no customers, no mail, no calls. Something was not right.

 

     Suddenly, the phone rang. Calvin picked it up before the third ring. He warmly greeted his customer and tried to assess his needs. He encouraged his male caller to come in for a free review. Bringing in your current policies would be helpful but not necessarily for the visit. The caller declined. Calvin tried to determine what his caller was interested in when finally the low voice asked about life insurance. Bingo he thought to himself. He had his focus now. He probably could have the policy written and signed by the end of the week depending on the man’s schedule. The man said he had a few questions about life insurance. Calvin said he’d be able to answer anything asked of him.

 

            “Let’s say a son was reviewing his father’s life insurance policy after the father had just passed away. Would he get the money?” the man’s voice asked.

 

            “It depends on who the beneficiary is. It also depends if there is a surviving spouse.” Calvin stated.

 

            “Let’s just say he was a widower” the man replied.

 

            “In that case, the life insurance policy would be terminated and a check would be sent in the amount of the policy” Calvin explained. Not having the life insurance sale here could still mean selling other lines of insurance he thought.

 

            “After I got the check, could I use that money for anything? Would I be able to pay off a gambling debt? What if I wanted to set a mistress up in an apartment? Could I use it to support my drug habit?” the man playfully asked.

 

            “I am not sure why you are telling me all of that. I am not really interested in hearing about any illegal or immoral activity, but I can answer you to say that you can use the money for anything you’d like. However, I would recommend consulting with your financial advisor on how it could be used for provide for you and your family. I am not licensed to discuss such options, but….” Calvin said.

 

            The voice on the line angrily interrupted.” I don’t care about my family. I just want to understand what I want can do with the insurance money!!”

 

            “O.K., sir. I’d still like to help. Would you like to schedule an appointment to review what the policy says?” Calvin asked.

 

            “No, but can I read some of it to you,” the voice replied. “What do you want to hear first?”

 

            “Who is the beneficiary? Do you see that listed?” Calvin inquired.

 

            “Charles Arthur Phillips” the voice said.

 

            Calvin’s face froze in recognition of his eldest son’s name. Calvin nervously asked, “Who are you?”

 

            “Let’s just say someone who is familiar with Charles. Arthur, by the way, is his mother’s maiden name. He said he never did like it, but never go around to changing it” the voice explained.

 

            “Why are you telling me this?” Calvin screamed into the phone.

 

            “Because this policy was terminated and Charles is waiting for his check!” the taunting voice replied.

 

            “That’s impossible. I am still here.” Calvin said that as doubt of it being true crept into his mind.

 

            “Look around you. You will see I am right” the voice said.

 

            Calvin looked around his office. Confused at what the voice meant, he still glanced around just to make sure everything was still there. This could be some kind of bizarre prank. I just….Calvin caught his breath. He had just noticed the pile of mail on his desk. It hadn’t grown, but this time it was covered in dust as if it hadn’t been disturbed in some time. He also noticed the phone. He still had the receiver in his hand, but no lights were on. Usually, an active call would show as a white light. No light meant no power. No power. No phone. Yet I talking with someone. What the….?

 

            “Did you notice anything yet? Did you notice the phone has stopped? How about the layer of dust over everything? Your kids didn’t even bother to clean out the house where they grew up. After the ambulance hauled your body out of the house, they left everything were it was. Do you remember now?” the voice asked.

 

            “I…uh….when….” Calvin stuttered. Thoughts cascaded into his mind that hadn’t been there before. Brief scenes that looked like excerpts from a dream appeared in his head. Sounds of muffled voices came from outside the front door. Bursts of ambulance radio blare came through describing a his body. Two emergency vehicle technicians were rolling him through the house. Once outside, the ghostly doubles hopped into their vehicles and left Calvin in a new awareness of his surroundings. He was now looking at an abandoned office. Files, folders, and various supplies had been spilled on the floor. Small dust clouds scattered sunlight as if Calvin’s last vision had actually been there. Flecks of dust had settled into new positions as the voice on the phone returned. The handset still in Calvin’s grip.

 

            “Well, my job is done. I have to get going.” the voice said.

 

            “Wait! What about me? Where to I go?” Calvin pleaded.

           

            “You’re already where you’re supposed to be.” the voice said.

 

            “I know I didn’t go to church much, but I was a good man. This isn’t heaven.” Calvin pleaded.

 

            “You’re right. It’s not heaven. I was going to bring you where I am, but I thought since you did such a good job building your own world that you should enjoy it longer.” the voice said as it softly chuckled into the phone.”I hope you enjoy it. You’re going to be

their awhile.” The voice laughed then hung up.

 

            The phone went silent as he returned it to its place. Slowly sitting back down at his desk, he noticed the clock still showed 3:00 pm. His eyes rolled slowly over the desktop landscape of pictures and momentos. Faded pictures of the woman and children stared back at the man who once shared their lives. Calvin reached for the phone again and found it had no dial tone. He set the phone down again. He stared out the window at a sunny afternoon that he didn’t think would be ending anytime soon.

 

(1,874 words – Insurance meets Sixth Sense with a dark twist) 

I finished my book! (yesterday)

  Yes. My first manuscript has been written. I finished it yesterday. I am taking a little bit of a writing sabbatical, as I have really put in some long hours. I promise to come back very shortly with more witty, breathtakingly exciting writing that will either make you soil yourself with laughter or inspire you to start your own religion….or not.

   In the memorable words of Goober (someone I knew my freshmen year in college);

“Three crackers floating downstream. ‘Ride Those Wild Waves,’ screamed the frenzied masses.”

 Never before did words ever ring this true.

 -sj

What exactly is a superpower?

Since the age of 5, I have always wondered what it would be like to be a superhero. Having a remarkable ability that would not only stand out among my peers, but to also do something cool like fight crimes. You also spend more time daydreaming about the costume you’d wear rather than think about what superpower you’d have.    You’d want to have something useful, yet not already taken. Superman had strength. Batman had determination. Spiderman has radio-active induced skills. Aquaman limited himself to water-related crimefighting. Green Lantern had a ring. Wonder Woman would have bulletproof bracelets and a heaving bosom wrapped in a bright red bustiere, and an invisible jet plane that she’d always manage to find.  What could possibly be left?

     Having the power to bring laundry dryer lint to life as small, handmolded animals? The ability to psychically communicate with cheese? Would all my powers reside in an item of clothing such as my Chuck Taylors? Would I be rendered helpless if bad guys were to strip me of them? Could I have Kari Byron of Mythbusters as a sidekick? What if I wasn’t exposed to lab-experiment-gone-awry and had to hone some crime fighting skill on my own?  Could I masterfully learn how to throw lunchmeat at villians to foil their plans of taking over the world?

     Well, how about I make the costume first then go from there?

Reminiscing about a simpler time

It probably all started when cavemen told their children of their childhoods. Even though we didn’t have fancy things called a wheel or fire, we were still happy in those days. Life was simple. If you were running for your life from a charging beast, you were hiding in a cave. We would forage for nuts and berries, and sometimes die because we didn’t always make the connection between poisonous and edible things. You kids today are spoiled. Hitting stones together to sharpen them before going on a hunt, or to make sparks for a fire. Taking advantage of the new age opposable thumbs. Learning how to avoid dangers. My own sense of history pulls us closer to the present. I remember my grandmother telling me of the school days where it all happened in one room. A small group of kids ranging in age from kindergarten to high school, sitting in a large drafty room with a woodstove providing heat. When things get stressful, always cast your mind back to a simpler time.

    My grandfather told us of a time when a doctor in the small rural Northern Ohio town where he grew up had purchased an automobile. The first car in the county. The entire town would stand in this man’s driveway and watch a parked car for hours. Those were the days.

    My mother talked of times before television. When it did arrive, it was large and was black and white. Entertainment was a radio program. Telephone numbers had 3 digits. People actually pumped gas at a gas station. Life didn’t get any simpler than that.

    Even I remember a time before the Internet access, CD players, and cell phones. Portable communication was a Citizens Band (CB) Radio. People aspired to talk like truckers with their 10-4 good buddies. Our video game was PONG.  Luckily, I am young enough to remember what it was like to only have one e-mail address. I am old enough to remember a time BEFORE Paris Hilton. If we could only go back to those days, right?

    My children today aren’t old enough to remember dial-up access. Elmo was a tv character, stuffed animal, mouse pad, and screen saver to them – all at the same time.  Cameras have always been able to show you the picture you have just taken.  People like Ashton Kutcher have always been in the media to them….and to think they call this progress!?!