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Sunday, July 31, 2011 4 comments

Escape from FAR Manor! 2011.1

Vacation has begun, says I, typing this in a hotel room somewhere in Indiana. (Jim, Andi, sorry I didn't arrange to meet, but it's for the best, as you'll soon see.)

Mrs. Fetched has been “griping” for some time about how we need (i.e. she wants) a minivan. I won’t argue that it would be a big help, what with two toddlers (Mason and Skylar) in the manor — you can stick two car seats in the middle buckets and have room for two more in the back — but like the Good Book says, “all things work together for Mrs. Fetched’s conveniece… or they’d better.” I think it’s in the Book of Hezekiah.

Now Mrs. Fetched is a tenured faculty member of the school of DO SOMETHING NOW (whether it actually solves the problem), and I soon saw the old pattern. I made a couple attempts to slip a little reality past her armor, but soon gave up and said que sera, sera. So her mom got in on that act, and in a mad rush bought a 1998 Grand Caravan on Thursday. Just in time to take it to Michigan! It had a cracked windshield, but the dealer said they’d send someone out to replace it by Friday afternoon.

So I got home from work on Friday, to find the windshield wasn’t replaced. I’m shocked, SHOCKED!!! not Since it’s on the passenger side, we all figured it wouldn’t be an issue. (Besides, the less Mrs. Fetched sees while I’m driving, the happier we all are.) So we spent much of Friday night packing. Saturday morning was chicken house duty for the girlies, while I watched Mason and took care of a couple agenda items (like printing out the new insurance card and loading luggage). I have to admit, you can stick a LOT more in a van than even a four-door Civic. We could have taken a bunch more if we’d removed the back seat, but we brought all we wanted. With the A/C more than overcoming the 95°F day outside, we got on our way around 3pm.

We soon ran into rain, and the first glitch with the van: the intermittent wipers “crash.” That is, they’ll work fine for a while, then twitch and stop. Flicking to off or always-on cleared the problem, so I lived with it. Then, around the time we crossed into Kentucky, the A/C stopped working. Mrs. Fetched, who had done pretty well up to now, suddenly got grouchy. Fortunately, it was getting dark and cooling off a little, and Daughter Dearest said the A/C in back still worked. Maybe it’s another crash issue.

As night dragged on, Mrs. Fetched’s questions about where we would stop for the night got ever more pointed. Why she didn’t just shut up and sleep is beyond me, but she mentioned a Comfort Inn and I agreed to stop there. Then when I went past an exit, she went “What do you think you’re doing?” in that tone of voice that makes me happy neither of us go around armed.

“Going to the Comfort Inn like you said.”

“I don’t care that it’s a Comfort Inn!” Well, that’s Mrs. Fetched: the Princess of Precision.

We ended up at a Best Western across the street, because I couldn’t get anyone at the Comfort Inn. Looks like the hotels are pretty well packed for a race in Indy today (which I didn’t know about or I might have stayed in Louisville).

It’s always fun to take a new used vehicle on a 2000-mile shakedown cruise…

Friday, July 29, 2011 19 comments

#FridayFlash: I Quit

I had a crisis of confidence with the flash I was going to post, and didn’t remember I had this one until afternoon. It’s not any kind of “sign-off” — except that with impending vacation where I won’t have much Internet access, I probably won’t post (or read much) next Friday.

Anyway, this story was based on a writing prompt from Ian O’Neill. I’ve snatched a copy of the photo for the sake of convenience.

Pat sat on the toilet, smoking a cigarette. He had the door locked, the window open, and the exhaust fan going — maybe Becca wouldn't catch him in the act again. He really wanted to quit, but it was so hard.

He sighed and shook his head, taking a final drag. He opened his legs and dropped the butt into the bowl.

The toilet exploded.

He found himself in the corner. The ringing in his ears gave way to a frantic pounding noise. “Pat! What happened? Are you okay?” He shook his head, trying to clear it as Becca stopped pounding at the door, probably running to get the key. He looked at pieces of the shattered toilet for a moment, then winced at a dark smear across the tile floor. That stupid statuette she’d bought was lying nearby, spattered with more crap but otherwise intact.

He pushed himself up against the wall and stood shaking, bent over from the pain in his legs and in between. I quit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 2 comments

Wednesday Wibbles

Wow, two in a row! As always, welcome to the new follower:

  • Luca Veste — book blogger, adult student… and father of two daughters! Oh, I’ll bet we have some stories to swap about our kids.

With the manor rapidly re-filling — The Boy and Snippet are back (sigh), and M.A.E. and Lobster show no signs of leaving anytime soon — I’m getting crowded in both time and space. M.A.E. in particular seems to always need something, and isn’t exactly Janie-on-the-spot about helping out. At least Snippet is showing some sign of wanting to take care of Mason… even if she’s inadequate about it.

Speaking of Snippet, she came in yesterday with an awesome sunburn. She wanted to show it to me, and first pulled down the front of her shirt to show her neck — then hiked up the back to show me her shoulders. As she wasn’t wearing a bra, it’s beyond me how I didn’t get an eyeful of boobage along with the acres of redness. I found her some spray-on burn ointment, and it seemed to help. At least she didn’t pull her shirt off again. This morning, she headed to work with plenty of coverage.

With summer in full burn (see above), I made a pasta salad this evening for tomorrow. FARf-alle (bowtie) pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, an onion, a squash, a bell pepper, some broccoli I found laying around in the fridge, garlic, mozzarella fresca, and Vidalia tomato-basil dressing. Lobster doesn’t want to wait for tomorrow, when the flavors will be blended — he’s grabbing a bowl on the way to work. (Oh… did I mention Lobster has a job? He’s working night shift as a welder.)

At least I got some writing done yesterday! I’m going to try keeping up the momentum tonight.

Monday, July 25, 2011 5 comments

Amusing, but Only a Little

This evening, Mrs. Fetched and I went down to Big V’s with some chow — and Skylar. The big blond chunker is starting to think FAR Manor is home, but he’s always glad to see his gramma. Mrs. Fetched set up her morning meds — I think they’d be enough to fill her up and she wouldn’t need breakfast — while I had one eye on the Kindle (reading Seed by Ania Ahlborn right now) and one on Skylar. Meanwhile, The Boy was tasked with watching Mason.

We came home to find The Boy sacked out in the lounge chair and Mason playing quietly in the living room. He’d only pulled a few old VHS tapes off a shelf — and laid one on The Boy and two on the love seat. As I picked up the latter, he brought me the sleeves.

M.A.E. and Daughter Dearest were lurking nearby if anything came up, but Mason was being mostly good (if a little mischievous about the tapes). I’m glad it wasn’t Skylar; he’d have made a huge mess for sure and probably hurt himself. As it was, the results were only amusing. Yes, The Boy gets up really early for his job these days, but he needs to focus…

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 6 comments

Wednesday Wibbles

At last, I sit down on Wednesday night to catch up on things. As usual, let’s start with greetings to the new observers at the free-range insane asylum:
  • Cherie Reich — a fellow #FridayFlash’er, and reviews books on her blog as well. (I hope she gets to White Pickups when the time comes.)
  • Craig WF Smith — Craig’s fantasy novels, The Red Stone and Zoolin Vale and the Chalice of Ringtar, are in print. Zoolin Vale is also available on Kindle (Craig doesn’t know why the publisher released his second book first either). Craig also writes some #FridayFlash.
  • Tony Cowin — he writes horror! He reviews movies!
We went to the resort Sunday afternoon, along with M.A.E. and her new boyfriend as guests. I was surprised that Mason was reluctant to get in the pool, but maybe it was all the other people around. It took him about 20 minutes to decide he wanted to be in there, and that’s where he stayed until he was too cold to stay in. We did slather him up pretty well with sunscreen, so he didn’t burn.

I mostly had him through the afternoon, but Daughter Dearest and Mrs. Fetched did pitch in. I brought my Kindle, but never got a chance to do any reading.

On the writing end of things, my two #FridayFlash pieces Kate’s Wings and the follow-up Freak of Nature, gathered a lot of comments along the lines of “this would be a great YA novel.” That came as a surprise, as I never really set out to write YA. There are plenty of very good writers out there either publishing YA or trying to get published (some of whom commented on the two stories), and frankly the market feels a little crowded.

But… I did say a while ago that I felt like Something Big was brewing, and this could have been it. Almost against my will, I started thinking about how a story would develop — and things started click click click falling in place. But I’m committed to finishing Pickups and Pestilence, so it has to wait a while.

I remembered I’d downloaded a copy of a mindmap template called StoryMap a while ago, and decided to get the details organized so I could come back to it later (after getting the current project conquered and reading a couple YA novels to see how they go). The above is a screen capture of what I have so far — left side is world-building, right side is plot. You can tell what I’ve mostly focused on. ;-) I couldn’t remember where I’d found it, only that it was a guest post on someone’s blog. But when I posted on Google+, Trevor Mcpherson sent me the link, not realizing it was his template I was working from! By the way, StoryMap is a FreeMind map — FreeMind is free and cross-platform (a Java app) so you don’t have to worry about money or having the wrong OS.

Now if I could only find a way to download all this into Scrivener, with all the pieces in their proper pigeonholes. Scrivener has great organizational tools, but I prefer mind-mapping for initial staging. It just works better for me.

For those who think writing a story isn’t all that difficult, I refer you to John Wiswell’s How I Wrote My Novel, True Story of John 11 that he posted today. Even if you do understand what’s involved, it’s an interesting read and a great look behind the curtain as he wrote a 105,000 word first draft in five months. As he progressed, he talked about designating a day off from writing and sticking to it. I think that’s a pretty good idea, especially since I have a grandson (and a great-nephew) who are highly attached to me and a huge “to read” pile. So I’m going to designate an arbitrary day “Reading Day” and maybe another day “Me and the Toddlers Day.”

Speaking of toddlers, Skylar has the Screech of Toddler Rage™ down pat. If anything, he’s hit the Terrible Twos earlier (age-wise) than Mason. It won’t be long before they’re both bellowing, “MINE!!!

Work… is work. Looks like I’ll be flying out to the west coast for training in late September. This will be my first flight post-bin Laden’s demise, but I doubt the TSA will act accordingly. Weather permitting, I’ll travel in shorts, a tight T-shirt, and sandals. Even with nowhere to hide anything, I’ll still get yanked out of line and probed. I may try to embarrass them, although I’m not sure they have that capacity.

Monday, July 18, 2011 11 comments

The "Disposable" Price Point

J.A. Konrath is back from vacation, and brought home an interesting insight. He shares it in One More Nail in the Coffin. The heart of it is:

Kindles have dropped in price to the point where they've become disposable, like cell phones and laptops and digital cameras. Ever notice that you buy a new cell (or computer, or camera) every few years, even if your old one still works?

"Disposable" as a price point seems to have a pretty wide window. To me, it’s a lot closer to $20 than $114 (for the ad-bearing Kindle). Of course, I’m not the people he’s talking about: I’ll use a cellphone or computer until it wears out, or just won’t do what I need it to do. For me, MacBooks have a five-year use life (if they endure the life of hard knocks that laptops are heir to). Since I live in a rural area, and am often doing outdoor kind of things, my cellphones get banged around even more than laptops — if they last three years, they’re limping across the finish line with multiple injuries.

Yes, I’m a cheap so-and-so, and eBook readers are (IMO) nowhere near the “disposable” price point. But fear not, they’re following the same curve as calculators. When I was gifted a Kindle a couple years ago, it was 1974 for eBook readers: $250+, limited functionality. It's now 1976, maybe 1977: prices approaching $99 for basic models, features considered “premium” last year (touch, color) are rapidly becoming standard in the mid-range.

Come “1980” (3–4 years from now), the price wars and standardization shakeout will come. Most of us will have to replace our eBook readers, but that won't matter because they’ll be $49–$79 and will have tablet-like functionality yet with amazing battery life. If what I’ve been hearing about solar panel developments is true, we could see the high-end ($119) sporting a solar panel on the back (again, like calculators except for placement). Lay your reader face-down near a sunny window to recharge it while you’re off doing something else. If you read outside a lot, you could have potentially infinite battery life.

The next step is “1984.” That’s when I had a calculator built into my watch. I don’t know how the equivalent would work for an eBook reader — maybe a goggle display with controls based on eye motion? The end-point is around 1990, where calculators (with solar cells and lots of features) ended up in supermarket checkout racks at $19. The thing is, I don’t think it will take 16 years to get to that point for eBook readers… it might happen by 2020 instead of 2025. Either way, that’s when paper books will finish dying out — when eBook readers are truly disposable.

Friday, July 15, 2011 29 comments

#FridayFlash: Freak of Nature

This is a sequel to last week’s story, Kate’s Wings. Sonia Lal opined, “this story needs To Be Continued,” and I immediately thought about that adolescent need to fit in. So we continue, nearly five years later…

Freak of Nature

The screen door slammed behind Kate as she stomped into the summer night, her frustrated growl trailing like a plume of noxious diesel exhaust. “Don’t you understand I just want to be left alone?” she muttered as she made her way to the treehouse, the gravity of the big oak pulling her in the right direction.

She put her hands on the ladder, then shrugged and pulled the back of her tank top down. Nobody could see out here, and it felt good to fly. Her wings, the source of her adolescent embarrassment, unfurled and she rose through the darkness and foliage into the tree house. She alit and sat cross-legged, looking teary-eyed over the endless rooftops; the new moon allowed a few stars to force themselves through suburbia’s glow.

After a minute, the screen door opened and closed again. Kate heard footsteps approach, pause, approach.

“Kate?” her dad’s voice carried up from below. “You okay?”

No, I’m not okay, I’m a freak of nature! she thought to herself. Aloud she said “Yeah.”

“Sweetie… listen. I know it’s rough on you. But… I’m here. If you ever want to talk about anything, and I mean anything. I promise, I’ll do my best to just listen. Okay?”

Kate heaved a dramatic sigh. “Yeah. Okay.” It must have been enough, because Dad turned and went back inside.

“That would be a conversation from Hell, daddy-oh,” she muttered. “You can’t possibly have a freeking clue what I have to deal with.”

“Maybe not, but he wants to understand,” a voice came from behind her.

Kate gasped and spun around, poised for flight. “Who’s that?” she rasped. “Mom?” That would be so unfair, Mom flying up here to continue the argument, but Kate wouldn’t put it past her. Then again, Mom hadn’t ever come up here that she knew of.

“Not Faye. She’s still inside. Trying to decide what to say.”

Aunt Morgan? When did you get here?”

“Just now, dear.” Aunt Morgan rarely visited, but Kate felt closer to her than her own immediate family these days anyway. “I understand you’re going through a tough time of life.”

Kate sighed and sat. “Oh God, Auntie, you have no idea…” then she stopped. Like Kate, her mom and aunt were both what they called Enchanted Ones, and what Kate called freaks of nature — with wings and the ability to fly — and they had to be going on thirteen once themselves, didn’t they?

“I do know,” said Aunt Morgan. “That’s why I came. Your mom and dad don’t know I’m here yet, and that’s fine because I came to see you.”


“I want to show you something. Will you come with me?”

“Sure. Where’s your car?”

“We don’t need a car for this. Just…” Aunt Morgan’s wings whirred for a moment.

“Fly? Here?”

“Oh, don’t worry. It’s a new moon night, and nobody will ever see us. Even if they do… well, people are good at not seeing things. Come.” Aunt Morgan took her hand and lifted out of the treehouse. Kate followed without thinking much about it; as much as she hated her otherness, it felt good to fly and she’d resisted it for so long.

After a few minutes, the ground below them opened up and Kate realized they were over the Balsam Grove golf course. Daddy liked to come here on weekends to, as he said with a laugh, “hit a few balls in the water.” Aunt Morgan flashed a light in her free hand, and Kate nearly fell when a response flickered from a copse off to their left. They veered that way and alit on the ground at the edge of the trees.

A woman approached, first shining the light upon herself and then the ground between them. Aunt Morgan did the same with her own light, and the woman looked surprised then bowed. “Lady Morgan,” she said, “it’s an honor. What brings you here to grace us with your presence?”

“This is my niece, Kate Parr,” said Aunt Morgan. “She’s one of us, and it’s long since time she was brought into the fold.”

“I bid you welcome, Kate Parr,” said the other.

“What is this place?”

“This is a grove of the Enchanted Ones,” said her aunt. “We gather on new moon nights to talk, play, and not hide our otherness.”

As the sounds of chatter and high-pitched laughter came from above, Kate turned to her aunt. “Why did Mom never tell me about this?”

“Your mother…” Aunt Morgan sighed. “She’s always looking for just the right moment, letting the good-enough moments slip by. That’s why you nearly gave your dad a heart attack when you flew out of the treehouse on your eighth birthday.” She giggled, a most un-Morgan sound. “I wish I’d been there to see it!”

“Kate?” She turned to the new voice — a light shone in her face, then turned on itself, and there was Heather Smith from school! “Ohmygod, Kate, I never knew — you seemed so normal at school!”


Heather didn’t have a chance to respond — in moments, Kate was surrounded by girls, many of whom she knew from school. They clustered around her, chattering. “Is Lady Morgan really your aunt? That makes you royalty!” “Your wings are so beautiful!” “How did you hide so well?” “I thought you were normal!” “You must hang out with us when school starts back!”

That word, normal, rung in Kate’s ears, nearly drowning out the chatter of her new friends. She looked around — “Hey, aren’t there any boys here?”

A wave of giggles and laughs washed over her. “All the Enchanted Ones are girls!” one of them said. “Boys never are. With girls it’s fifty-fifty. We all got lucky!”

Kate startled, then smiled. “Lucky. Yeah.” Suddenly, normal didn’t seem all that attractive anymore.

Aunt Morgan always gave the best presents.

Monday, July 11, 2011 7 comments

Giggle Plus, and a Full Manor

Sometimes, the only way to get a blog post up is to just sit down and bang it out.

I got an invite to Google+ on Friday, and spent a lot of time this weekend setting it up, adding fellow #FridayFlash writers, sending out a couple of invites, and generally feeling it out. It strikes a nice balance between Twitter’s minimalism and Facebook’s overwhelming featurism. I’m using my real name there, as a warm-up to when I start putting my books on various sites.

It’s also a relatively quiet hangout — for now. It reminds me of when I was in high school; the local Baptist church had a “teen center” thing they did on Friday nights. Being in a small town with not much else going on, it was a pretty popular thing because there were lots of table games and a concession that sold various teen-ambrosia (pizza, soft drinks, snacks). It could get a little overwhelming at times… and that’s when a few of us would meander to the Congregational church’s version about a block away. It was much less of a “thing,” having (free) popcorn and a pit group to hang out on, with a checkerboard and chess board if you wanted a challenge. If you needed a place for some quiet conversation, that was it. And that’s what Google+ is like right now, with Facebook playing the Baptist version.

Right now, to get on, you need an invite — sent to an email address associated with a Google Profile. You have one if you have a Gmail address, or have a Blogger profile tied to some other address… which is to say, if you want an invite I’ll send you one.

The manor was pretty well packed when I got here. M.A.E. is here (with Moptop, oh joy) and her boyfriend (who is helping Mrs. Fetched with the chickens), along with Lobster, Skylar, and even EJ coming by. EJ and I hung out in the kitchen to chat for a while. The Boy and Snippet are visiting her mom in Florida, so they weren’t here, but they were here yesterday.

Friday, July 08, 2011 32 comments

#FridayFlash: Kate’s Wings

A short one this week. I enjoy writing these sub-500 word pieces, not only because I can start and finish them in a lunch hour.

Kate’s Wings

“Daddy! Look at me!”

“Hi Kate!” As usual, his daughter was up in the tree house he’d built for her last summer. That big oak tree was her domain, and she’d live in it if only her parents would let her.

“Look, Daddy! I got wings!” Kate twirled at the top of the ladder, making him grimace. She did have wings, sprouting from the back of her sun dress.

“Is that what Aunt Morgan sent you for your birthday?” This was Kate’s eighth birthday, and Faye’s sister always sent her niece strange yet beautiful presents. He couldn’t see the straps — it was just like Kate to tuck them under her dress — and the wings themselves were gorgeous. Shaped like a dragonfly’s, they came from her shoulders a deep blue, shot through with streaks the color of Kate’s honey hair, and faded to a near-transparent blue at the tips. The network of veins made them look so lifelike.

“Daddy! Watch me fly now!” Kate hunched over the top of the ladder.

“Kate, no!” he gasped. He knew his daughter: even as a baby, she had no fear of heights, and the bruising mishaps of life had done nothing to teach her caution. He leaped forward, thinking at least I can break her fall. He’d have to tear down the treehouse after this, and that would hurt Kate more than broken bones, but —

She launched herself from the top of the ladder and soared overhead, her laughter nearly drowning out the whirring of wings. He could only stand gaping as she flew laughing under the tree, flitting through the branches as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“Catch me, Daddy!” He instinctively reached up, and she alit in his hands. Still in shock, he hugged her to him, taking care not to crinkle those beautiful wings.

Kate looked over his shoulder. “Mommy! I flew! Did you see?”

Faye smiled. “Yes — you did very well!” She spoke like Kate had just tied her own shoes. “Your present from Aunt Morgan came, why don’t you go see?”

“Okay!” Kate squirmed out of her father’s embrace and ran inside, wings now folded against her back. Faye went to her husband, took his arm, kissed his cheek.

“Honey,” she said, “there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

Friday, July 01, 2011 28 comments

#FridayFlash: The One-Eyed God

This is another one of those stories I started long ago, didn’t quite finish, then came back to. Maybe I just needed more practice writing before I knew what to do with it. It’s a little teen romance, post-apocalypse…

The One-Eyed God

The family gathered in the living room for their evening worship. As always, Jason’s uncle Tom spoke the invocation to their one-eyed god:

“Oh SONY, hear our plea: be a light in our darkness, that you may return your light to our darkness. Awake, O SONY, and guide us as you did of old.” He ended the invocation with a snicker.

Jason gazed into the nothingness of SONY’s face, barely remembering when it last filled the living room with colorful images, before darkness filled the world. He was five then, seventeen now. His dad often said they were better off without “that idiot box,” yet come evening he sat in worship with the rest of the family. Jason’s mind, as usual, went wandering during worship time. Maribeth was… he’d begun to wonder if he really wanted her as his girlfriend, especially since this afternoon.

He’d been sitting on the sandy creek bank fishing, hoping to put a couple trout on the dinner table, when Heather Scott came walking upstream on the far bank. As suited anyone hiking the brush, she wore a loose shirt and sturdy jeans with boots, hiding a newly ripe figure.

“Hey, Jason! Catching any?” She swung an empty basket.

“Not yet. What’s up?”

“Just lookin’ for cress. You see any on that side?”

“I think there’s some here.”

“Good! Can I cross over? Where’s your line?”

“Don’t cross here, it’s too deep. Go a little ways upstream and you’ll see a place to cross. If you’re lucky, you won’t get your boots wet.”

“Okay!” She skipped upstream. She was fourteen, skipping was still allowed.

Staring at SONY’s blank screen, Jason guessed things would have been different if that trout hadn’t grabbed his hook just as Heather approached. She saw his fishing rod bend and ran to him, watching him reel it in. It was a perfect size, too: big enough to keep, not so big that he’d have to throw it back. She sat down next to him while he was distracted putting the fish in the creel.

“Ha, I’m good luck for you,” she said. Jason gasped; now he had to kiss her to keep the luck she gave him. In retrospect, maybe she’d played him like he played the trout. He thought, I can give her a quick peck on the cheek, no problem. Heather had other ideas, though: she wrapped her arms around him and locked her lips on his; in his moment of surprise, she unbalanced him. He fell back, with her on top.

What Heather lacked in experience (not that Jason was an expert), she made up in enthusiasm… and after a second, Jason decided he liked it. He embraced her and rolled her to his right, away from the fishing gear, so they were side by side.

A pillow caught him across the head, pulling him back into the living room. “Stop moaning,” his mom whispered.

Jason flushed, but nodded. He watched the blank screen and remembered.

“Maybe we shouldn’t,” he told Heather.

“I don’t think it bothers you much,” she grinned.

“You started it.”

“I guess.” She sat up and tugged his arm; he sat up and she scooted alongside him. “Well, I won’t tell. Are you taking Maribeth Collins to the Summer Day fiesta?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I asked her, but she’s all maybe and I’m not sure and I’ll think about it.” He made a sour face.

“That ain’t right. Dad says say yes or no, and have done. If you asked me, I’d say yes. You’d have to talk to Dad though, he says I can’t have no skulking-around boyfriend.”

A rumbling noise: Uncle Tom snored, then jerked up and looked around before refocusing on the black glass that was SONY’s eye. Jason did likewise.

They got up; Heather found her cress before coming back and kissing him once more, but quick. “Thanks,” she said, wiggling her basket.

“Yeah. Thanks for the luck.” He grinned, then his second fish took the bait.

After worship, Jason hurried at the dishes; it was his evening to wash. “You must wanna go somewhere,” said his mother. “That Maribeth girl?”

“No. Not her.”

“Good. She’s just stringing you along.” She smiled. “Go do what you need to. I’ll finish this up.”


Jason found Mr. Scott fixing his old ethanol tractor, Heather passing him tools. She looked up and grinned. Her dad gave him a curious look.

“Can I ask you something, Mr. Scott?”

“I don’t have no extra work.”

“It ain’t that.”

“You want something to drink?” asked Heather. They both nodded and she sauntered up the yard to the house.

“Bring him what I’m having!” Mr. Scott yelled. To Jason, “What brings you then?”

“Um… Mr. Scott, I want to take Heather to the fiesta tomorrow. Is that okay?”

The farmer looked him over. “You don’t run the rabbit around the tree. I like that. You ask her yet?”

“No, but she said she’d say yes if I did.”

Mr. Scott reached into his tractor. “Damn fuel filter again.” After a minute, he pulled it out. “That’s Heather, she gets right to the point too. Well, consider all the my-precious-daughter sh– junk said. You know that spiel, right? Yeah. I mean it all, even if I don’t say it. Understand?”

Jason stood thinking for a moment. “Yessir. I think I do.”

“Good. Now your dad and me know each other, and whatever gets back to one will get back to the other. Right? Right. Well, here comes Heather. You walk her down to the mailbox and ask her. It’s a big deal, gettin’ asked to the fiesta, even if you know what she’s gonna say.” He grinned. “Then you walk her back up here and we’ll drink a toast.”

Jason came home, and saw the glint of SONY’s single eye in the dim light. He placed a hand on its dusty curved top. “Thanks.”


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