Flash Fiction – Day Four & Final

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Whoooo, yes! Fist pumps and happy jigs. I managed to pull off this massive stretch goal of writing a new Flash Fiction story four days in a row.

I’m not going to lie to ya, this has been challenging. Getting today’s story done was tough, and I think it reads like it. This challenge really took some work.

Today, the overworked Muse got a little silly. I hope you’re willing to come along for this final ride.

Tomorrow, as promised, I’ll be posting an oral reading of a New Mexico folktale as my wrap up of this crazy off beat week of Flash Fiction and Fables.

It’s a good one, I think you’re going to like it, especially the readers/listeners from my home state.

But for today, my randomly generated word is: portability

Without further ado:

The Device

by Karen Fayeth

Darryl and Sean worked quietly, side-by-side in the corrugated metal work shed they referred to as “The Lair.”

Work was wrapping up on their invention, a device without a name so far. If you asked them, it was totally a fusion reacting, power providing, super über top of the line invention.

The whole deal was this, it was a small reactor that creates enough power to run a small city. Clean burning, no electricity or fuel required, and it only fills up a small footprint.

The genesis of the invention came when Darryl had entered a project in his college science fair to show how he could make small fusion reactions.

Sean had also worked on an entry for the fair, but wasn’t able to complete it in time. His was a device for efficient distribution of power in a small space and without heat or exhaust.

The two ideas put together was an invention in which Pajaro Ventures had invested $3 million in R&D money. It would totally pay off, assuming they could get the device to be stable.

Initial trials were not as successful as they’d hoped.

The Lair had been replaced three times due to what the boys referred to as “misfires.”

But if they got it to work right, they could rule the world. Literally, they hoped, because that would be cool.

When they weren’t working on, or fighting over what to call the device, they were arguing over what to call themselves. Darryl favored Captain Hazard as his superhero slash evildoer name. His costume included a bright yellow vest, the kind road crews wear to be seen by passing cars.

Sean was leaning toward Dr. Reaction. His costume was a bit more ill defined, consisting mostly of a white lab coat with nuclear symbols attached to both shoulders like epaulettes.

The U.S. Army was interested in the unnamed device, as they needed strong, reliable power at many of their installations in the Middle East. A clean burning self-contained unit that kept them off either generators requiring gasoline or power lines requiring infrastructure was looking real enticing.

However, the U.S. Army was a bit skeptical that two recent college grads had the gonads to actually pull this thing off. No matter, the risk was on Pajaro Ventures. If it worked, Parajo got a huge contract. If it didn’t, Pajaro ate the R&D fees and the U.S. Army would keep on looking.

Early on, Darryl and Sean had flown out to Washington to meet with senior ranking officials, including one five star general. The field commanders gave the boys their list of must haves and nice to haves around this thing.

The team agreed on device specs. Darryl and Sean would come back in six months to demo their progress.

That demo was due to take place the next morning. After a good night’s sleep, the boys rose early and got ready. A black Suburban rolled up and men in dark sunglasses loaded up The Device and the boys and delivered them to the airport, where they boarded the Parjaro private plane headed for the Pentagon.

The flight went without a hitch and soon Darryl and Sean found themselves in a large auditorium surrounded by a lot of people, most wearing dark green uniforms.

“Yeah, so, ok, let’s get right into this,” Darryl said, doing the talking. He was the more eloquent of the two.

The Device sat on the floor in front. When signaled, Sean hit the go button.

Fans whirred, parts rumbled and the machine’s lights flashed.

“As you can see,” Darryl said, “It takes only a few moments to come online. Once you see an orange light here, at the side, it’s fully charged and ready to go.”

The light came on, and Darryl took the plugs from a refrigerator, a clothes dryer and a microwave and plugged them into the outlets built into The Device.

“These high power drawing items are but a fraction of what The Device can power. When up to full capacity, this device could power a small city, say the size of Austin.”

The assembled crowed murmured their approval.

It worked. The Device was generating smooth power. It shook a little, but no fires so far.

“Gentlemen, I believe this meets your requirements for high voltage yet safe and steady power. We have achieved your list of must haves. Oh, wait, there’s one more item we haven’t demoed,” Darryl said, flipping a red switch on the back panel.

Immediately a bright blue undulating hole, about a foot wide, ripped into the fabric of time and space above the machine.

“And there you have it, General, sir. Your requirement is complete.”

General Johanssen looked at the eerie opening in the air that was starting to exert a gravitational pull.

“What the sam hell have you boys done?” he shouted.

“You said that your key requirement was portal ability. We’ve succeeded. The Device not only facilitates powering your base camps, but also provides the beginning stages of time travel. This really is a cutting edge machine.”

General Johanssen’s face turned tomato red with anger. “I said it was mandatory that this device have PORTability, meaning moving the stupid thing as our troops relocate around the world. I did NOT ask for goddamn portal ability! What the hell is that, anyway?”

Darryl and Sean looked at each other, eyes wide. Darryl began frantically fiddling with the red switch.

“Boys, close that goddamn worm hole before someone gets hurt!” a major called out from their left side.

“Um, I’m trying, sir,” Darryl said, sounding panicked.

Suddenly, a nearby office chair was sucked into the depths of the wormhole and sent two thousand light years ahead into space. It landed with a “whump” on the fifth moon of the planet Kranon, killing the opposition leader of the attempted violent overthrow of the King of the Kranonians.

Two thousand light years back on Earth, Darryl could only reply, “Whoops.”

Creative Commons License
“The Device” by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

And that’s doin’ it right

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If you are a fan of any professional sport, major or minor in their designation, then over the course of your life, you’ve heard a LOT of renditions of the “Star-Spangled Banner”.

T’was written by Francis Scott Key and set to the tune of a drinking song. Where there is beer, oh yes, they’re playing our song!

And, may I quote from Wikipedia, “With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing.”

So much so, that large crowds will actually applaud a performer who can hit all the notes. That is a rare performer. Very rare, indeed.

In fact, over the course of my life, I’ve heard quite a few very, very bad renditions of our country’s anthem.

I’m not talking about local first grade choruses limping and wheezing through the tune or the high school marching bands galumphing and cymbaling their way along.

No, no I find those charming, actually.

What get’s me are the hand waving, trilling, note runs that many people (especially young ladies) try to throw in there to make you *think* they are hitting the notes, when they are, in fact, not.

I once heard a man at AT&T Park with a deep baritone voice who sang the song and dropped the highest notes of the tune down half an octave, and it sounded fine. Lovely, in fact, and we didn’t have to watch him struggle to hit impossible notes.

I find it’s the people who go easy with it and don’t try too hard that make it through all the ups and downs of the Star Spangled the best.

This past Sunday, just when it appeared the SF Giants vs Oakland A’s game was due to start, The Good Man and I saw a vision in pink descend the steps to the field and enter the grassy area, bowing low to allow her very tall Glinda the Good Witch crown to clear the gate.

“Oh wow!” I cried out, “It’s a performer from Beach Blanket Babylon!”

BBB is a long running San Francisco musical stage show. Bawdy and very vaudeville in nature, they tend to make fun of current events.

They are also known for their top-notch performers, so I figured this was going to be fun.

On this day, we were treated to a lady by the name of Misa Malone, a recent addition to the BBB cast, and she was out in full Good Witch regalia.

You know, it’s awfully hard to ignore a lovely woman in a huge fluffy pink dress and a bouffant pink wig. It was even harder to ignore Ms Malone who took her time with the Star Spangled and used her immense vocal power to master that difficult song from the first note.

I admired how she used her breath, taking in air in places amateur singers tend to over look, taking air wisely to get power to her pipes in time to hit those high notes.

And hit them, she did, which earned wild cheers and applause from the crowd.

I have to say, not only did she sing the you-know-what out of that very difficult song, she also *owned* that crowd of almost forty thousand people.

We were all paying rapt attention to every note, every syllable, every gorgeous smile she handed out like candy.

THAT is a true performer.

Wouldn’t you love to have the power to command a room, much less a stadium, like that…just once?

I sure would.

____________________

Had I managed to have a memory card in my camera (see yesterday’s post) I would have provided an awesome photograph of Ms Malone at the park.

Instead, you get a photo of Prince Charles looking very awkward with the BBB cast. To the far right is not Ms Malone, but it IS the costume she wore on Sunday.

Taking the Challenge

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Blogging friend and frequent commenter SinPantalones has challenged her readers to answer ten of her personally handcrafted questions.

Then, once answered, we are further challenged to write ten of our own and present them to our readers to do the same.

Sort of one them thar internet meme things, I think.

Anyhoo, I’m easily entertained by such things, and so, I officially take the challenge

Here we go:

1) Breakfast sausage: Patties or links?

Oh patties, hands down. I may be in the minority on this. I sort of hate the skin thing that links are wrapped in. I know it used to be animal intestine, but now it’s something weird that I can’t quite digest. Plus, with patties, your odds of a fully cooked sausage are much higher. I can’t tell you how much I hate biting into a link sausage and finding it uncooked in the middle. Bleeecky.

2) I hate to do this to you, but I’m going to resort to the age-old Desert Island question. Which three LPs/CDs/musical collections and which three books would you like to have with you if you were stranded on an unpopulated desert island?

Okay, this is a tough one. Three records: The Mavericks “Music for all Occasions, Alison Krauss & Union Station “I’ve Got That Old Feeling” and probably the George Strait box set.

As for books…”Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry, “Moby Dick” by Herman Mellville (because hell, I’ll have some time on my hands and a long book might be helpful) and maybe “The Sun Also Rises” by Hemingway.

3) Toilet paper: Over or under?

Over. Absolutely over. I’m very, very firm about this.

4) If you could wish any one celebrity completely and utterly out of existence–POOF!– who would it be?

I was going to say Heidi Montag, but she’s not really a celebrity and her 15 minutes are up soon.

So I’m going with Tom Cruise. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why.

5) As regards dating/attraction, what are your three biggest dealbreakers? What three qualities/attributes/characteristics can you simply not stomach?

Hmm, this is a tough one. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about how every person has something that is intriguing. Yes, I said everyone.

So turn offs have to be pretty serious. I guess going back over my sketchy dating past, I’d have to say anyone verbally and/or physically abusive is a no go. An alcoholic and/or recreational drug user is also a no way. And finally, someone who is unwilling to put me and our relationship as top priority.

That last one is a big deal for me.

6) What is your favorite television commercial and why?

My bologna has a first name, it’s O-s-c-a-r…

Cute, catchy and makes bologna sound appetizing!

7) What is your comfort food?

Oh so hard to pick just one. Probably Velveeta cheese chile con queso over fresh corn chips.

8) It’s 1979 and you are a heterosexual man. (Or a homosexual woman, actually. Either one. You choose.) You can have a steamy one-night stand with Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, or Olivia Newton John. Which one?

Ooooh, tough call between Stevie and Tina. I think Tina would scare me so bad (but in a real nice way) that I’d have trouble stepping *up* to the challenge, so to speak.

Steve is probably a little freaky. Ok, I’ll go Stevie.

9) When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Or was that even something you were thinking about at the time?

Weirdly, I used to play that I owned my own business when I was a kid. My folks had this huge adding machine that I used as a cash register and I made up these invoices with carbon paper between the pages.

I cringe now thinking on it, but it’s true. I played at being a business lady.

Strange ass kid. Where were my dreams of being a superstar?! A model?! An actress!? A ballerina? Nope, Little Miss Practicality….

10) If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about your physical appearance, what would it be?

My genetic disposition to a lower tummy. No matter how much weight I lose, no matter how skinny the women in my family get, there is always that belly out there.

Ever since I was a little kid, I yearned for a flat tummy. I’ve never in my life had it.

______________

Ok, on that low self esteem note…here’s my ten questions.

I challenge my readers to answer on their blog and post a link in the comments. I look forward to reading your replies!!

1) What is your favorite fast food place, and why? Any answers of “oh, I never eat fast food” will be disqualified.

2) If you could be any one famous person for a week, who would it be and what would you do as that person?

3) Regarding the gas tank in your car, are you one of those “never let it get below half a tank” people, or do you run it down to fumes before getting a fill up?

4) If you could be gifted with either the talent of truly gifted athlete (think Willie Mays, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky) or the intellect of a Nobel Prize winning scientist (think Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein), which would you choose, and why?

5) Slushies come in three flavors: grape, orange and cherry. Which flavor do you choose?

6) Do you play the lottery? If so, how often and have you ever had any luck? If no, why not?

7) Have you ever “borrowed” somebody else’s stuff from the office ‘fridge? (lunch, CoffeMate, yogurt, etc)

8) Speaking of the office. Here’s the scenario: You need to make a copy so you walk up to the copy machine. The readout flashes, “paper jam”. Do you turn around and walk away, or do you try to fix the problem?

9) Who is the most famous person you have ever actually met in person. As in shook their hand or had them speak directly to you or signed an autograph for you personally.

10) After living a full life where you have accomplished all of your goals, you find it is your last day on Earth. You are provided a last meal consisting of whatever food and beverage you choose. What do you order?

Ok class, grab your #2 pencils and let’s get to work! I look forward to reading your answers!

Anyone for a Mojito?

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So let’s see, I moved to this odd and fascinating Golden State of California in 1997.

This is now 2010…

So that would make it…let’s see, do the math…carry the one…

Ah yes. Thirteen years that I’ve lived here.

Thirteen. That’s a lucky number!

And you’d think that in thirteen years I would have arrived at the place where I no longer pick hayseeds out of my hair.

You’d think.

But you’d be wrong.

What a yokel I am.

Here’s the latest.

Brace yourself for another backyard adventure.

Today I was out in my side yard. There is this scrubby, invasive, grows too fast tree/bush thing out there that I *hate*.

It’s so unlike me to have vitriol for something that is only a plant. But I do.

So I was out there hacking away at the damn thing because if I don’t stay on top of it, soon it will grow taller than my roof and the neighbors will complain. It tends to invade the nextdoor neighbors yard as well.

Ticks me off.

So I trim the crap out of it.

Here’s how it looks now:

Never fear, oh mighty plant lovers. In a month it will be back at roof height. Gawd I hate that thing!

Anyhoo. After I was done committing gross violence to a bush/tree type a deal, I looked down and saw a few huge weeds. Well…I had my gloves on and the ground was soft, so I started wiggling them durn weeds out by the root.

At one point, I noticed a row of different looking weeds growing from the crack where the outside wall of the house meets concrete.

So I gave them a hearty tug.

Suddenly, all I could smell was this minty odor. I smelled my hands. Leather gloves and mint.

Weird.

So I took a small plant sample inside so I could Google it.

Sure enough. We have mint growing wild in our yard

I have no idea where this came from and I don’t recall mint growing in the yard before. It just, I don’t know, appeared out of nowhere this year.

Look, I’m from New Mexico. I’m used to coaxing things to grow in the yard with a lot of vigor and pleading.

Not here. This sh*t just grows wild! There ya go! Something magical. Didn’t even have to try.

Next up on the list of fruits ripening in my untended backyard:

Figs!

Yes! Love fresh figs.

I’m ready for ’em!

Anyhow. This has been a very big day. Maybe I need a nap.

Oh, and in closing…this for my friend Natalie who likes bird of paradise.

That’s a biggun!

I swear to god that thing blooms all year long. That shouldn’t happen. And yet..it does.

Just Another Marble in the Brain Jar

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of memory.

Mainly, because my own memory sucks.

What was I saying?

Oh yes.

Some of this memory loss is, I think, is a hazard of having put in a few years on this ol’ planet. Over time, one tends to collect a few things in the closets like bottle tops, tattered paperback books, and stacks of memories, both good and bad.

I sometimes think of my brain as a big storage device. Lots and lots of space. Too many bits of memory get shoved in there, and it’s time for an upgrade.

But maybe that’s a little too Silicon Valley for my tastes.

Let’s try another metaphor.

Maybe my brain is more like a big glass jar filled with marbles. Some are large, some small, some are in between. So as I go about living this crazy mixed up life, these marbles roll their way toward the jar and drop in. These new residents tend to push out the old when I’ve run out of space.

There is only so much room in the jar, of course, and once filled to capacity, something’s gotta give.

As I was getting my hair cut last night, I spent the color “cook time” working over this particular visual metaphor. Unfortunately, I was thinking about it while also pouring over the pages of the current “People” magazine.

Without my consent, some fresh, small marbles found their way into my jar.

For example, I don’t really need to know that one of the Jonas brothers broke up with his girlfriend. *plink*

Or that Jon and Kate plus 8 lady just celebrated the birthday of her sextuplets. *plink*

That some blonde chick named Heidi needs “time alone” from her overbearing husband. *plink*

And that weird Svengali-like husband of that sad, tiny, actress that recently died has now also shuffled off this mortal coil. *plink*

These are not vital memories. These don’t need to be kept in the jar. If they do manage to stay in the jar, then other, better, memories have to slip out.

Oops, there goes making Thanksgiving turkey drawings by tracing my hand onto the paper.

And there goes the name of my childhood friend who lived by the park, across from the swimming pool. We took gymnastics class together at the YMCA. What *was* her name?

Don’t tell me a Jonas brother shoved my friend out of the brain jar!

I suppose the trick is to let those lightweight worthless marbles flow in for a moment and then find a way to shove them right back out.

If I get too many of the trivial marbles, there’s no room left for the big meaningful marbles to find a permanent home.

Of course, some of those big marbles are so heavy, they can’t possibly be washed out. My wedding day. Holding my oldest goddaughter for the first time (I cried). Cracking jokes with my pops while he was in the hospital.

The big ones stick around, no matter. The middlin’ sized tend to go all floaty without my permission. They are the hardest to hold onto.

But I try. Oh I try.

Let’s just hope that at the very least, I can manage to hang on to most of my important marbles.

Because I surely would hate to, you know…lose my marbles.

Photo from the KM&G-Morris public Flickr photostream.