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November 20, 2017

I felt a little strange when I learned this morning that Charles Manson had died. It’s not like I was a fan of his or anything, or thought him anything less than insane, but Charles Manson has been a part of pop culture since I was something like 12 or 13 and for lack of a better word, he was fascinating. Nowadays cults and violence and mass murder seem to be the norm and things that we think about for a day or two before going back to our lives, but back in 1968 (Vietnam notwithstanding), it wasn’t that way. At least not to my young eyes. 1968 was crushes on girls I’d never talk to, trumpet lessons, Mod Squad and Land of the Giants and the F.B.I. and Gomer Pyle. And when Charles Manson made the news it was like a real live monster in the living room.

So I won’t really miss Charles Manson but the thought that he was dead was just odd.



Yucky Baked Potato

November 20, 2017

I made a baked potato last night. It was one of the regular brown russet potatoes and when I cut it open and got ready to drizzle a little ketchup on it and I found this big, ugly, black crusty-looking thing in the middle. It looked to me like an unborn twin potato, or like an alien that had burrowed in there under cover of night and died before it could fully mutate into something resembling a potato with the goal of infesting every other potato on the planet and it was kind… I take that back, it was really nauseating to look at.

So I threw the potato away and silently mourned the loss of the bulk of my dinner. After I had recovered from that trauma I went to the Idaho potato website and I asked Dr. Potato what the heck that monstrous looking thing was and I learned that my yucky potato had what’s called “Hollow Heart”. Despite the fact I’ve never seen it before, it’s apparently a common problem with potatoes and it has something to do with slow and fast growth alternating during the growing months after the potato has been planted. Makes no sense to me but who am I to doubt the good doctor. The doctor went on to reassure me that it’s not a disease and that the yucky part can be cut out and the rest of the potato eaten.

Good chance of that ever happening in my house.

For all I know, Dr. Potato is covering for the aliens that are trying to take over Earth’s potatoes.

Dear Doctor Potato: while I thank you for reassuring me, there’s no way I’m going to eat a potato with “Hollow Heart” in it!

(Does all this talk of ‘potato’ and ‘potatoes’ make anyone else remember Dan “Potatoe” Quayle?)

Hollow heart. Hopefully my potato ordeal wasn’t an omen of some sort and trying to tell me something.

Alas, affairs of the heart. Hollow heart 😦

Hollow heart 😦


Day 19: The Anniversary

November 19, 2017

Day 19: Write a story set in the year 1919 (I kind of fudged a little on this one!)

The Anniversary (503 words)

June 15, 1995

The first time I kissed Helen was 76 years ago. It was our wedding day, June 15, 1919, and a beautiful day it was. Truth was, it was raining to beat the band, but Helen was beautiful and she made the day so just by being in it and standing next to me in that white dress. I was 20 and Helen was 18 and we were both scared as can be, and if I were so inclined I could tell you everything you’d ever want to know about that day but I’m old and I’m old enough to know that folks, folks like you, despite what they might say, aren’t really so inclined to listen. Oh, there’s some that’ll listen, but you don’t get to be 96-years-old without picking up some, I don’t know, some instinct on this kind of thing so I’ll save boring you on the details for another time.

If you’re reading this you’re a bit younger than me so you probably think it’s odd that a boy and a girl could be married without ever having so much as kissed, but I’m here to tell you that’s the way it was back then. And I’ll also tell you that it was a good way. I won’t say I never thought about kissing Helen because I did – pretty near every minute of every day I did – but I also thought about how special she was, and how comfortable I felt when I was with her, and about that funny feeling I felt in my gut that I was told by my daddy was love, but that I didn’t come to realize it as such, or how important it was, until much later.

It was October of 1991 that I left Helen here. A patch of grass and a concrete slab; me up here and she down there. I would have laid down with her and let them cover me too if I could have. It’s just not fair. If you’re listening, God, it’s not fair.

Once a year I go to visit her. I’d go more often if I could but the children are all gone and the grandchildren, well, they’re just the grandchildren. Rich, he’s an aide here at the home and he takes me over to help me remember the anniversary and he waits while I visit. He’s a good fellow, Rich.

It’s a nice day today. October 23rd. The day I lost Helen. The leaves are on fire and I know Helen would have loved them. Rich waits patiently a few steps behind me and I lean on my walker and I tell her all about them and for a while I’m transported back to 1919 and I’m a tall, lean 20-year-old looking into the blue eyes of the woman who was about to become my bride. And I feel those same old funny feelings in my gut; still there after all this time. And I smile. Yes, it was a good way.

– End

What is FlashNano: “Created by Nancy Stohlman in 2012 in solidarity with NaNoWriMo. FlashNano is in its 6th year!” Click HERE to learn more.

(Please pardon any typos or grammatical errors. My goal at this point is to just get the story down. I can worry about fine-tuning and editing later if I want. Thanks for reading!)

Day 18: 01/09/18

November 18, 2017

Day 18: Write a story that uses word(s) from another language.

01/18/2018 (500 words)

Although it had changed some over the years the tradition was centuries old, dating back to 1790. He thought of his place in history and smiled. He felt a few butterflies kick to life in his belly and ignored them. Silly, he thought. I don’t worry. Not about this, not about anything. Peeking out from his ready room in the chamber he watched as all the others arrived and took their seats. The murmur of conversation bothered him and then he thought, They’re talking about me, they’re all talking about me. and with that thought his annoyance settled into a feeling of joyous anticipation.

All of them are here to see me, he thought. Powerful people, every one of them, but they wish they were as powerful as me. He smiled with the new thought.

His thoughts then flashed for a second to Ben, spared all the pomp and circumstance and sitting safely at home and he thought he’d almost rather change places but the thought disappeared as soon as it appeared. Yes, he thought. Everyone waiting to listen to me.

He backed away from the door and readied himself with a few deep breaths while running his hands through his wet hair. Finally the door opened. “It’s time, sir.”

“I’m ready, Paul.” And checking his watch, “I believe you’re a little late.”

“Yes sir. If you’ll follow me.”

“If you don’t mind, Paul. I’d rather lead.”

“But sir, tradition dictates—”

“Never mind that, Paul. This is a new tradition. Just walk behind me. Can you do that or do I need to find someone who can?”

“Yes sir,” Paul said as he stepped to the side to allow the man to pass and then fell in silently behind him.

They walked down the hallway and as they neared the door to the chamber the man could see everyone standing and talking and waiting. All waiting for me, he thought. Every one of them. The man stopped at the door and motioned to Paul. “OK,” he said.

Paul stepped around the man and the crowd turned and quieted. Paul waited for two seconds and then announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.”

The man elbowed his way past Paul who, he made a mental note to remember, didn’t move out of the way quickly enough, and he hurried his way to the dais ignoring the smiles and hand offerings of those waiting to greet him on both sides of the aisle. Having refused earlier to share copies of his speech with the Speaker and the Vice President he proceeded to step up to the podium where he adjusted his microphone while raising his hands to silence the crowd. Look at them, he thought. They all wish they were me.

The man looked out at the assemblage, cleared his throat and formed a circle with the thumb and index finger of his right hand, and with right pinky finger extended, began. “Moy chelovek amerikantsov…” My fellow Americans…

– End

Please pardon the Russian translation. I don’t speak Russian and it was the closest I could get using an online English/Russian translation website.

What is FlashNano: “Created by Nancy Stohlman in 2012 in solidarity with NaNoWriMo. FlashNano is in its 6th year!” Click HERE to learn more.

(Please pardon any typos or grammatical errors. My goal at this point is to just get the story down. I can worry about fine-tuning and editing later if I want. Thanks for reading!)

Day 17: Apartment 18B

November 18, 2017

Day 17: Write a story involving an illness

Apartment 18B (924 words)

Shelly Floros lives in apartment 18B. She’s a few inches shorter than me so I’d say, I don’t know, maybe five foot six, she has black curly hair, shoulder length, although she more often than not wears it pulled back, and dark green eyes. She’s a nurse at Fairmont Hospital and her hours rotate. I live in apartment 17B which is directly below Shelly Floros and that’s how I know, you know, because of the sounds above me, that her hours rotate. I’ve never talked to her much during the nine months she’s lived above me, I’ve seen her in the elevator from time to time and that’s how I learned the little I know.

If I were maybe 20 years younger you could, I suppose, say that I have a crush on Shelly Floros but it sounds better to say that I’m “interested”. The problem is I’m lousy at small talk so when I see her in the elevator or at the mailbox, after, “Hey, how you doing?”, and “I’m OK, how are you?” I’m a mess. The only reason I know she’s a nurse is because I saw her wearing nurse clothes once so I said, “So, you’re a nurse, huh?” She said, “I am.” And I said, “Cool.” Duh. And no, I didn’t follow her to see where she works, I just read her name badge.

So I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can get to know Shelly Floros better and I invent and rehearse conversations over and over in my mind and while I’m prepared enough to make a troop of Boy Scouts proud, whenever I’m face-to-face with her, I fumble and stumble and fail. Like last week at the mailbox.

“Hi, how are you?”

“I’m OK, Steve, how are you?”

“Oh, I’m OK.” Silence. “So, I, uh… I’ll see you later.” Duh.

The look she gives me isn’t a ‘funny’ look but it feels funny.

“Yeah, take care.”

This afternoon at work I had an idea that what if I were sick and I needed help and instead of going to the Urgent Care, I knocked on Shelly’s door. I thought about it and couldn’t think of any downside beyond feeling like a fool mixed with a little self-hate over my apparent inability to form a conversational sentence and needing to rely on a silly ruse to talk to her.

Wednesday evening she was home, and I know that because I heard her footsteps upstairs, and I put my plan into action. First thing I did was scratch my neck a lot to make it look red and warm which, I thought, would give me a nice I’m-not-feeling-well-and-need-attention look. Then I rubbed some Vaseline under my eyes to make them look baggy and like I hadn’t slept in a day. Finally, I dropped some artificial tears into my eyes to make them look watery. I put on a shirt and buttoned it incorrectly because who can button a shirt when they’re feeling well, and I headed out to Shelly’s apartment. I ran up the stairs to the 22nd floor and back down to make it seem like I was having a little difficulty breathing and I scooted out of the stairwell on 18 and knocked on apartment B.

My heart was pounding from the stair climbing as well as the thought of actual face-to-face contact with Shelly and when she opened the door and her eyes widened at my appearance I took some comfort in knowing I’d done a good job.

“Hi Shelly.”

“Steve, what’s wrong, you don’t look well.”

“Yeah, I’m not feeling too good. I don’t know, maybe the flu or something.”

“Here,” she said stepping close to me. “Let me feel your forehead.”

Her hand was soft and warm and my heart sped up in reaction to her touch.

“You’re warm. Give me your hand,” she said and when I did she felt my pulse. After a few seconds she looked up at me and she took my by the elbow and ushered me inside. “Steve, you sit here on the couch and I’ll be right back, OK?”

“Yeah, sure.” Duh.

She came back a few seconds later and sat down next to me, took my hand again and started rubbing it with her thumb. “How long have you been feeling like this?”

“Oh, I don’t know. A couple of hours or so.”

“You really don’t look well, Steve, and I’m concerned.”

“I’m pretty sure I’m OK, Shelly. I just thought you being a nurse and all that you’d maybe have a suggestion or something for the flu.”

“I don’t think you have the flu, Steve.”


I heard the faint sound of a siren in the distance.

“I think it might be your heart, Steve. Your pulse is very fast and your neck and face are red and I don’t like the look of your eyes.”

“I’m sure I’m just—”

“I called an ambulance Steve. I think you need to be taken to the hospital.” The siren got louder and matched the sudden ringing in my ears.

“I really don’t need—”

“Shh, it’s best if you’re just quiet, Steve.”

“Shelly, it’s not what you think. I—”

The door opened and two guys with medical gear and a stretcher walked into the apartment. “Did someone call an ambulance?”

“Over here, Tony.”


“Thanks, Shelly.”


“Steve, this is my fiancé, Tony. He’s a great EMT and he’s going to take good care of you. Just try and relax.


– End

What is FlashNano: “Created by Nancy Stohlman in 2012 in solidarity with NaNoWriMo. FlashNano is in its 6th year!” Click HERE to learn more.

(Please pardon any typos or grammatical errors. My goal at this point is to just get the story down. I can worry about fine-tuning and editing later if I want. Thanks for reading!)

Day 16: Pizza Delivery

November 16, 2017

Day 16: Write a story involving money

Pizza Delivery (512 words)

I met Jane when she was delivering pizza for Gustino’s. It seemed that every time I ordered pizza she was handling deliveries that night. With familiarity came conversation and with conversation came an eventual date. Jane’s good looking, I’m not so good looking, so when we were waiting in the lobby of the Heights Theater for the 6:00 p.m. revival showing of Casablanca to let out I asked her what it was that made her agree to date me.

“You give good tips,” she said.

I thought it was a strange answer and I didn’t totally believe it, because, I mean, look at her: Jane’s good looking, did I tell you that already? And my experience is that women who look like Jane, who, if I haven’t already mentioned it, is pretty good looking, don’t seem to ever be interested in shlubs like me, but I nodded and smiled. Jane smiled back and maybe sensing that I didn’t totally buy her answer said, “And people who are generous to strangers, that’s a rare trait. And I like it.”

And that’s when I defied my pounding heart and that little persistent little voice in the front of my head and reached out and took her hand. When she squeezed my hand and smiled that little voice melted into the background.

We hit it off and started seeing each other regularly and after six weeks we decided to make our relationship exclusive which was more than cool with me. Sitting on the couch one Friday night watching Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past, we were chatting and sharing secrets and right after Mitchum fought Steve Brodie after Brodie tried blackmailing Mitchum and calling his girlfriend a “cheap piece of trash”, Jane told me about a fantasy of hers.

“You really want to hear it?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“It’s a little embarrassing, but OK. I think about delivering pizza to a house where a guy answers the door to accept the pizza wearing only a towel.”

Jane started laughing to cover up her embarrassment and I suggested that Sunday afternoon we make her pizza delivery fantasy a reality. “How so?” she asked and I told her that I’d call Gustino’s at 4:00 and order a pizza and when she delivered it I’d be Towel Boy.

Sunday comes and at 4:00 I make the call. I get undressed and wrap a towel around myself and sit back on the couch and wait. At 4:27 the doorbell rings – I’ll be damned if they ever go past that ’30 minutes or free’ time limit – and I stand up from the couch and walk to the door. As I’m reaching for the door I decide to give Jane a surprise that goes beyond our role playing so I pulled the towel off and let it fall to the floor and I took the last three steps to the door naked. I reached out and grabbed the handle and with a smile on my face I opened the door.

“Hi babe is that my… Mom? MOM!”

– End

What is FlashNano: “Created by Nancy Stohlman in 2012 in solidarity with NaNoWriMo. FlashNano is in its 6th year!” Click HERE to learn more.

(Please pardon any typos or grammatical errors. My goal at this point is to just get the story down. I can worry about fine-tuning and editing later if I want. Thanks for reading!)



FlashNano Day 14: 4:00 am Dance

November 14, 2017

Day 14: Write a story that takes place during sunrise

4:00 a.m. Dance (755 words)

“Turn it down, will ‘ya”, Ray?

“What’s that, hun?”

“The music, turn it down some.”

“What’s wrong, you like Miles.”

“I do, but I don’t need him blowing in my damn ear in the middle of the night. Just turn it down.”

“Sweet, it’s not my fault you’ve got that sonar hearing thing! You’re just more sensitive than…”


“C’mon, babe, look at me. Now how about a smile? Better yet, put down your drink and let’s dance.” I stood up from the couch and walked over to stand in front of her where she sat, ankles crossed, in the worn, dark yellow vinyl armchair and offered a dignified bow fit for a queen. I held my right hand out, looked up and said, “Let me spin my girl around the floor like Ginger Rogers. What do ‘ya say?”

“Turn it down, Ray.”

“Aw, sweetheart, dance with me. Let me sweep you away. You know I’ll do anything for you. Anything and everything, Mel.”

“Anything for me?” more mumbled than spoken.

I bowed and swept my left arm behind me while reaching for her with my right. “Yes, for you. For your enjoyment. For your pleasure. For your, what’s the word -  your delectation – milady!”

She uncrossed her ankles and leaned forward, a light in her eye. “For my delec…?”

“Yeah, that.” I laughed. “Because I love you.”

“Ray, stop.” She leaned back.

“You know I’d do anything to make you happy, right, babe?”

She wasn’t smiling which was a bit of a worry. She usually smiles when I try to be charming. She just looked at me now, pursed her lips and closed her eyes tight. Her cheeks clenched and her eyebrows grew together to look like a chunky, brown caterpillar. She only makes scrunchy eyebrows when she’s getting ready to cry.

She crossed her legs and put her hands over her eyes. “Just turn it down, okay, Ray?”

I walked over to the stereo and turned the volume down. “What’s wrong, Melanie?”

“Dammit, Ray, just stop already!”

She put her drink down, got up from the chair and walked to the window. She pulled the cord, let the blind down and stared out at the empty 4:00 a.m. street. Sunlight was just starting to drown out the streetlights. I walked up behind her, put my hands on her hips and leaned in to brush my lips along the back of her neck. Her hair brushed my cheek. I opened my eyes and looked out the window to see what she was seeing and saw the flicker of the streetlight outside our window tossing random dancing shadows on the sidewalk. It had begun to snow.

“I’m  sorry, Mel. I didn’t mean to…”

I felt her stiffen.

She didn’t so much drop the blind cord as slam it down against the sill. It bounced twice and then settled into a slow pendulum motion, a counterpoint to Paul Chambers’ hypnotic bass line floating under Blue in Green.

She turned to the side and slid away from me and walked to the closet. Shocked, I turned my head to follow her, the rest of my body, not having time to catch up, remained frozen like a pale, t-shirt clad mannequin. She pulled out her coat and shrugged into the oversized red wool and headed toward the door.


She stopped but didn’t turn around. “Don’t make me do this, not now, Ray.”

“Melanie. What’s… Where are you going, it’s four in the morning for crying out loud.”

She turned around and there was no trace of scrunchy eyebrows on her face anymore. Hers was a face of cold determination that looked me in the eye. “There’s nothing going on, Ray. I don’t know how to… Shit… I don’t love you anymore. There.”

“Mel, what’s…”

“Stop, Ray. I don’t know. I don’t know what to say right now, but I can’t stay here. I’m leaving.”

I backed up a few steps and sat down in the chair she was in just a minute ago. Her warmth was still in the vinyl and that made me uncomfortable. She watched me sit and held my eyes with the same conviction that I thought I held her heart with. I grabbed the arms of the chair and squeezed and she turned back to the door. I looked at her drink on the end table, the condensation rolling down the outside of the glass reflected my face in a thousand fractured images.

“I’ll call you, Ray. I’ll call you tomorrow or something.”


What is FlashNano: “Created by Nancy Stohlman in 2012 in solidarity with NaNoWriMo. FlashNano is in its 6th year!” Click HERE to learn more.

(Please pardon any typos or grammatical errors. My goal at this point is to just get the story down. I can worry about fine-tuning and editing later if I want. Thanks for reading!)






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