Category Archives: Light

Starring in the Very Special Olympics

I will admit, I was in kind of a weird mood when I wrote this. But it makes me laugh, so I make no apologies.

It was like a nightmare, standing before crowds of drunken fans, naked, but for a Speedo. How had he gotten here?

The gun fired. Six people dived, followed by six wet slaps.

The water was Jello.

The crowd whooped. They’d known.

He pulled himself along, wallowing like an epileptic badger. Some got in his mouth: Tropical Fusion flavor, damn them.

He woke with a start in the locker room. It was a dream.

“Harrison, there you are!” the coach said from the door. “You got your 10-meter maple syrup dive in five minutes. Come on!”

He pinched himself.

No luck.

 

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Moaning the Lonely Ghost Blues

FF206 Jean L Hays

Copyright Jean L. Hays

The late Johnny White sulked. He barely had enough spirit to make the temperature dip.

“Hey, Boo!” Jessica said, sliding through the wall. “How’s the haunting?” She looked around the empty ruined house. “Oh.”

“You’re lucky,” Johnny said. “Your house gets lots of visitors. Nobody even knows I died.”

“My husband did brutally murder me,” she said sympathetically. “Look, if I ever manage to write in blood, I’ll say ‘Go down the road three miles. It’s super scary.’”

“You don’t think we could . . . co-haunt?”

Jessica looked skeptical. “That’s sweet, but I’ve only known you a few centuries. Maybe next millennium.”

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The Lost Tribe of Levy

appalachian mountains

Benjamin Levy eased the Model T onto the berm next to the sign for First Mountain Baptist Church. He tried to remember whose idea it had been to spend their honeymoon exploring the hinterlands of Appalachia. He blamed his wife—privately, of course. They had spent the last few hours jolting along on dusty mountain roads and now it was mid-afternoon, and they were low on gas and thoroughly lost.

“You sure this is a good idea?” Miriam asked, peering out at the picnic.

“We have to ask someone.” He could feel his heart beat faster. Looking around, the people seemed normal. No white hoods, not even any guns in sight.

A rotund man in a brown suit had spotted them and was ambling over. Ben rolled down the window.

“What town is this?” Ben asked when the man was close enough.

“This here’s Vicco. Where y’all headed?”

“We don’t know exactly. We’re just exploring. Is there a town near here with gas and a hotel?”

“Sure, sure. There’s a couple. Hey, ya hungry? We got lots of food here.”

“No, that’s fine—”

“Oh, come on,” the man said, opening the car door. “You must be famished.” He stuck out his hand. “Name’s Bobby Lindon.”

“Benjamin Levy,” Ben said, climbing out and shaking the man’s hand.

Bobby nodded, pumping Ben’s hand in unison with his head. Then his eyes widened. “Hey, are y’all Jews?”

Here it comes. “Uh, yeah.” Ben’s eyes swiveled, looking for pitchforks.

“That’s great! Come on and meet everyone. There’s no Jews in these parts, but the pastor talks about them nearly every Sunday. Hey Pastor, come meet the Jews!”

A moment later, Ben and Miriam were surrounded by a crowd of eager faces, looking at them like a pair of recently arrived angels. They were seated at a table and plates of food were heaped up in front of them. They looked at each other and started eating. Ben tactfully avoided the pork ribs, even though they been piled extra high on half his plate.

“So, have you been to the Holy Land?” Pastor Gorton said as he sat down across from them, apparently starting a second meal to keep them company. “I’ve studied Palestine for years but it’s a long way away.”

“I’ve never been there,” Ben said. “I’m from New Jersey.”

“Do you know Hebrew?” The pastor’s eyes lit up. He jumped up and returned a minute later with a battered commentary. As Ben ate, Pastor Gorton peppered him with questions about the translations of various words in the Old Testament and Ben wracked his brain to remember Hebrew lessons from a decade before.

Meanwhile a group of young people were trying to get Miriam to sing and dance with a tambourine like the Miriam in the Bible. One went and got a tambourine and set it on the table near her just in case she changed her mind. They seemed disappointed, too, that neither she nor Ben knew how to play a shofar, but they were fascinated with her descriptions of Hanukkah. A few of the boys pulled out jackknives and started whittling dreidels as if they were going to play then and there.

Pastor Gorton brought Ben in to see a Star of David he had on the wall of his office. He came back out to find Miriam surrounded by a group of children, all making choking sounds as if they had fishbones stuck in their throats.

“They wanted to learn some Hebrew words,” she said. “They’re fascinated with that one sound.”

She stood up and grabbed his lapel, pulling him closer. “They want us to stay here tonight,” she said in a fierce whisper. “They’re talking about having a seder supper and making a replica of the Tent of Meeting.” He saw the panic in her eyes. “We gotta get out of here,” she said. “I don’t think I can take much more of this pro-Semitism.”


Torahman

FF 205 Roger Bultot

copyright Roger Bultot

“I want something like Bibleman, but cooler. And for Jews.”

Jeff wasn’t sure how the rabbi had heard of Bibleman. “So, you want me to create . . . Torahman?”

“No, that’s too stereotypical. I want something original. And tougher. How about The Maccabee?”

“Okay.” Jeff didn’t know how to draw a Maccabee. “Does he throw stars of David?”

“Sure.”

“And his sidekick could be Dreidl Boy.”

The rabbi frowned. “That seems stereotypical.”

“Does he kill people?”

“No! He just teaches kids about Judaism.”

“He teaches? So he’s basically. . . Torahman then.”

The rabbi looked deflated. “Fine, Torahman. And stick Dreidl Boy in there too.”

 

 

When I finished writing this, I did a Google search and apparently there is a Torahman already, although his sidekick is called Mitzvah Boy. It seems you can’t make this stuff up.

 

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The Secret Conversations of Kids

Alice sat in the café in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and sipped her coffee, watching her daughter Priscilla romp around, burning off excess energy. The other moms were discussing toilet training, but luckily Alice was through that by now.

“Mom, I want my cell phone,” Priscilla said. Alice pulled the plastic flip phone from her purse and handed it to her four-year-old daughter. It was a dollar-store variety that didn’t even take batteries and had a sticker for a screen.

Priscilla grabbed the phone and flipped it open with one hand. For a while, she went around the café, holding the phone up and pretending to take pictures of the display of baked goods, the walls, the cups for sale, even other patrons.  A few stopped to flash smiles and pose while Priscilla squinted at the sticker screen, moving the phone until it was in just the right position. Alice tried to keep an eye on her as she moved around.

Priscilla wandered back, flipping the phone open and shut. Then she looked down at it, flipped it open and put it to her ear.

“Hello?” She listened a moment. “Oh, really? I’m at the coffee shop now. Where are you?”

One of the other moms asked Alice a question and she turned to answer. Priscilla continued to talk and listen for a long time. She started to pace back and forth, her frizzy hair bouncing. At one point, she held the phone between her cheek and her shoulder to use both hands to gesticulate.

“I-O-WA,” she said, making lines in the air with her finger as if she were spelling the word. “I-O-WA.” She stopped and listened for a bit. “No!” she exclaimed. “Oh. My. Goodness.”

“They start early, don’t they?” one of the moms said, and the others tittered and agreed. They were all watching Priscilla’s antics now. A two-year-old of one of the other moms toddled up to Priscilla, reaching for the phone. Priscilla made a shushing gesture and turned away, cupping her hand around the phone.

“It’s amazing the things they pick up from us,” Alice said. “It makes me worried what else they notice.”

“Okay, bye!” Priscilla snapped the phone shut.

“Have a good talk?” Alice asked. Priscilla only nodded happily and bounced away to take more pictures.

*     *     *

“That’s quite a talk you had,” Subin said to her son Hojun when he stopped talking. They were walked from his preschool back to their apartment in Pohang, Korea.

She put the toy cell phone back in her purse. “I don’t know where you come up with this stuff sometimes. Honestly, I don’t even know where Iowa is.”

 

This was inspired by sitting in my local coffee shop today, seeing a little girl carry on a similar conversation on her toy cellphone.


Rare Steaks

I got this idea for last week’s Friday Fictioneers, but couldn’t fit it satisfactorily into 100 words, so I am posting it as a stand-alone with a different picture.

Rare Steaks

The driver backed the truck inexpertly up to the loading dock of the meat market. The manager was waiting when he got out. “I got a shipment for you,” the driver said.

The manager nodded. “You’re not the regular guy. Where’s Todd these days?”

“This is a special load. I thought I’d come by and see if you were interested in it.” The driver fumbled with the latch and opened up the back.

“Hey, it’s all fresh. Is this locally sourced?”

“Yep, it’s from the area.”

The manager picked up a package and inspected it. The meat was cut into irregular pieces. Whoever processed it must have been new on the job. “You know, we usually cut it up here. What is this, veal?”

“Uh, yeah. Veal.”

“Sure, I’ll take it. I can sell it at a discount. Lemme get some guys to unload it. Just hold on.” The manager called for a few employees to start unloading the truck, then sat down and picked up a newspaper. The driver stood by uncertainly.

“What do you think about that boy scout troop that disappeared a few days ago?” the manager asked conversationally. “Crazy, eh? You think they’ll find them soon?”

“I’m sure they’re fine. They’ll turn up,” the driver said.

The manager pointed to the picture of the missing troop in the paper. “You know, you kind of look like their troop leader.”

“My . . . twin brother. We’re all shook up about it.”

“Well, thoughts and prayers and all that.” The manager looked up and pointed. “Geez, what’s that?”

A strip of dark green cloth lay on the floor of the truck, uncovered as the men unloaded the truck. The driver stepped over and snatched it up. The manager caught a glimpse of merit badges sewed in rows on it as the driver pushed it into a plastic bag.

“My nephew’s,” the driver explained. “He was going to a scout meeting when I was loading the truck. Must have left it.”

“Well, he’s going to miss his sash,” the manager said. “You’d better wash that good before you give it back. It looks pretty fouled with blood and juice.”

“So, how can I get paid?” the driver asked tentatively.

“We’ll send it to you by next week,” the manager said, going back to his paper.

“Could I get it now, in cash?”

The manager looked up, frowning. “In cash? No, that’s not how we work.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, they’ve got the truck unloaded. I’ll just go now.”

“See ya.” The manager flipped a page. What a weirdo, he thought.

 

Breaking News! The local TV station’s chyron screamed the next day. Carnage at Santa’s Village!

“Police uncovered a grisly scene this morning at the local Santa’s Village which is closed for the season,” the reporter said. “The entire herd of reindeer that is housed on the grounds was found slaughtered. The culprits were soon found in the area, the missing scout troop 3245. Their leader has been arrested for child endangerment, theft, and illegally trying to sell the meat to a local market. He insists it was all for a fundraiser so the boys could attend the national jamboree.

“Scout officials confirm that the boys have been reprimanded, but will also receive their merit badge in poaching.”


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