Oh, Dear (Fiction inspired by Emilio Pasquale photo)

This story is inspired by Emilio Pasquale’s photo. I didn’t ask permission to post the photo here, but you can view it in another window by clicking the link on the first sentence. (Trust me, you should see it!)

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“Yes, Mr. Collins. The cabin will be set just how you requested. I took excellent notes.”

Samuel tapped his fingers on his desk. “You’ve got the dozen pink roses and the box of truffles in the bedroom?”

“Yes, sir.”

He exhaled. “Thank you, Josie. Everything has to be perfect; exactly like it was twenty years ago.”

He hung up the phone and rested his forehead in his hands. He knew his future depended on the success of the upcoming weekend. Twenty years ago, he had taken Deana to the rustic cabin on their honeymoon. They hadn’t had much money and, although the cabin was only two hours north of Phoenix, the climate was a world away. Three weeks ago, Deana moved out. Now, he had to prove to her that he still loved her. Recreating our honeymoon for Valentine’s Day is perfect!

He picked up the phone again and pressed the first programmed call number.

“What do you want?”

He gulped. “Listen, Deana. Just give me a chance.”

“I’ve already given you too many.”

“Please, just meet me at the Ponderosa Inn and Cabins on Saturday.” When the silence dragged on for several awkward seconds, he continued, “Cabin 9. Just one more chance. Please.

“That’s where we spent our honeymoon.”

“I remember.”

“I don’t think-”

“Don’t think, just show up.”

She sighed. “Fine.”

He exhaled and his shoulders slumped with the release of tension. “The room is ours at two, if you want to head up early. I have a couple things to take care of, but I’ll be there by four.”

She snorted. “Another one of your business weekends, huh? Never mind. We’ve been through-”

“No!” He took a breath to calm his panic. “No, wait, it’s not like that. I’ve reserved two hours of spa time; you pick the services.”

“Oh.” She paused. “They have a spa now?”

“They added it a few years ago.”

“Okay.”

He smiled. “You won’t be disappointed.”

He hung up the phone and dialed the Ponderosa Inn.

“Hi, this is Samuel Collins,” he said once the front desk picked up the line. “I need to schedule two hours of spa services for Saturday.”

“I’m sorry. The spa is fully booked until Sunday afternoon.”

“How much would it cost to make it happen?”

“Sir, it’s Valentine’s Day. The schedule is full.”

“Okay, okay.” He ran his fingers through his thinning hair. “Can you call people who are scheduled between two and four to find out if they will sell their appointment? I’ll pay any price.”

“Sure, Mr. Collins. I’ll see what I can do.”

“I appreciate it, Josie.”

***        ***        ***

On Valentine’s Day, Samuel called Deana. “Yes, the spa appointment is all set. When you check in at the front desk, ask for Yolanda and she’ll get you started.”

“I’m impressed. I didn’t think you could pull it off. I always planned our vacations.”

“I’m full of surprises.”

“Wait a second; you didn’t have your assistant set everything up, did you?”

“Actually, no.” That would’ve been smarter. “I’ve made our dinner reservations for 6pm, so that should give you enough time to get ready.”

“All right.”

“I love you, Deana.”

The line disconnected. She’d avoided saying she loved him for months. He didn’t pick up on it at first. A twinge of pain ran through his chest. He should’ve asked questions. He counted out twenty-three one hundred dollar bills; enough to cover the spa appointment and tips. He folded the wad in half and shoved it into his blazer pocket. He grabbed his overnight bag and headed to the car.

At four-twenty, he parked his car in the dirt parking to the left of the main building. He patted his pocket and strode into the lobby. The heat from the fireplace across from the front desk enveloped him as the door eased closed. He detected a sweet smell commingling with the pine scent, and just then, he noticed the plate of chocolate chip cookies on counter.

A brunette with large eyeliner-rimmed brown eyes greeted him with a smile. “Good afternoon.”

“Hi. You must be Josie?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’m Samuel Collins. I wanted to thank you for your help getting this weekend set up.” He pulled out the wad of bills and peeled four bills away. He handed her the cash. “This is for you.”

Her eyes widened. “No way!”

“Do you have an envelope?”

Josie reached into a drawer to her right and pulled out a letter-sized envelope with three green pine trees stamped in the upper left corner.

He took the envelope from her manicured fingers. “Are the Davenports dining in the main room tonight?”

Josie’s nails clicked the laptop keys. “They have a six-thirty reservation.”

“Perfect. I owe them for the spa appointment.” He stuffed a few bills into the envelope and tucked the rest into his pocket. He handed the envelope to Josie. “Please see that this gets to those who attended to my wife today.” His phone vibrated in his pocket and he checked the screen. Deana. He tapped the screen. “Hi, hon-”

“What is wrong with you?” she shrieked.

He pulled the phone from his ear and turned away from Josie after catching sight of her perplexed expression. “I have no idea.” He didn’t know how to answer. “How was the spa?”

“Nice, until I got back to the cabin!”

“Why? I had them set it up exactly how it was for our honeymoon.”

“We didn’t have two deer in our bed on our honeymoon!”

“What?”

“Two deer. In our bed!”

“Hold on.” He turned to Josie. “She says there are two deer in our bed?”

Josie nodded. “Yes sir, just as you requested.”

“I didn’t ask for that!”

She pulled out a manila folder and flipped through some papers. “Right here.” She handed the paper to him. Scrawled in purple ink was, ‘two deer for our anniversary.’

Samuel rubbed his forehead. “No!  It was supposed to be a card that read, “To my dear for our anniversary.”

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If you didn’t check out the link to Emilio’s photo at the beginning of the story, here’s a second chance. You really should see the photo that inspired this story – it’s awesome!

I purposely left the ending open so you can determine how it plays out. If you’re a romantic, then she ended up finding the mixup “endeering” (sorry, that was really bad) and laughed at the mishap and they lived happily ever after. If you are a cynic, then she was so mad she drove home that night and reconciliation hopes were dashed :)

I still have a lot of “stuff” going on, but I couldn’t resist this distraction from the weight of life. I appreciate all the kind comments and prayers that many of you have sent my way. You all rock! I hope to be back more regularly soon.

Little Obsessions

Little obsessions run in my family.... kids can't stop talking about snow (and it looks like yet another storm has missed us!)
Little obsessions run in my family…. my kids can’t stop talking about snow (and it looks like yet another storm has missed us!)

Have you ever been fixated on something and you can’t stop even when good sense dictates you should let it go?

Oh. Maybe it’s just me.

On Sunday night, I noticed that some of the shaped poetry on my blog isn’t displaying properly now. I haven’t changed themes, and at one time, the formatting was fine. It was eleven o’clock at night when I ventured into the WordPress themes. I previewed no less than thirty themes and found a reason to not use each of them. By the time 2:30am rolled around, I resorted to keeping my same theme and just replaced the text of the most messed up poem with an image so it would display properly.

What happened here is classic “me.” Something gets stuck in my brain and I obsess over it, analyze it and basically over-think it until I end up doing nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is a decision, but other times it’s simply sticking with what I know because I’m unsure about what I don’t know. Too often I fall back on clinging to the familiar.

There are occasions when the obsession does turn to action, though. Like when I eat one Reese’s peanut butter cup and save the other one for later. “Later” turns out being ten minutes of non-stop thinking about how yummy that chocolate and peanut butter would taste. I won’t mention what happens when I have Oreo cookies or chocolate-covered cherries in the house…

In retrospect, I realize staying up that late and beginning the work week on three hours of sleep wasn’t smart. It’s probably no coincidence that I’m now fighting off a cold and sinus infection. I’d like to say I’ve learned my lesson, but I know it’s just a matter of time before the next little obsession worms its way into my consciousness.

I was all set to end this post, when an envelope scribbled with my messy writing caught my eye.

She carries more baggage than an airport carousel.

One thing they taught me was that my affections are currency to be bought, sold or bartered

Beneath the envelope I found a folded paper with a forgotten young adult story idea. It began, “Marty Hines used to be the most popular girl in school. Now, she’s the prettiest has-been in juvi.” I don’t normally write YA, so I set this aside several months ago.

I discovered yet another partially-written story. I had a vague recollection of it as I skimmed the text, some of which I couldn’t read. Have I mentioned my handwriting is horrible? I paused at these lines: I was his ego trip. I brought him the adoration he could get from a puppy, except I was potty trained. 

I can’t say why these thoughts were tossed aside to gather dust. Something about timing, I think. Perhaps in all this randomness hides a glimmer of my next obsession.

I’ll know if I’m frantically typing at midnight, paying no mind to the passing of time or loss of sleep.

Holiday Survival Discovery: They Don’t Call Me Bonnie (And I Don’t Know Clyde)

12-10 Lights

Last year, my older son had a sometimes job of exercising an elderly lady’s dog. She had been ill, so it’d been over a week since the dog had been walked. One Sunday, Sarah* called. (Coincidentally, this was the day following the lice debacle and the kids decided the day must begin for me after a mere four hours of sleep.)  She asked if I could run some errands for her because her helper didn’t show up. I told her I could.

We arrived half an hour later, as she requested. On her counter, she had a list of items she needed. She crossed off paper towel. She read through the list again and crossed off a couple more items. I saw orange marmalade and water and asked her if she had brands she preferred. “You don’t need to worry about that stuff,” she said as she crossed those items off as well.  “I just need a couple things to get me through the holidays.”

“Okay. Which things do you need?”

“I need a carton of cigarettes.”

“All right.”

“And a bottle of LTD.”

I had no idea what that was, until she opened her cabinet and pulled out a nearly-empty bottle of Canadian whiskey.

I smiled and stifled a laugh. Cigarettes and whiskey to get through the holidays. Maybe I should try that!

She handed me her car keys, but I insisted on using my own car. Then she handed me her bank card. “Are you comfortable with using this?”

I hesitated. “Um. Okay.” What I meant to say was, Are you crazy? Of course I’m not okay with it!

“I’ve never had an issue with it before. I have plenty of bucks in the bank,” she assured.

“Um, okay.”

I drove to the place she told me to get the cigarettes.  What if she’s setting me up and she reported this card stolen? I shrugged the nagging thought off and chalked it up to writing too much fiction.

I handed the gal behind the counter the empty cigarette pack. “I need a carton of these, please.” I’m sure I didn’t ask  like a smoker would. She set the carton on the counter and I handed her the card. Please don’t ask for ID. If she asks for ID, do I run or try to explain why I have a bank card that wasn’t mine?

She didn’t ask for ID. I returned her wish for a Merry Christmas and breathed a sigh of relief, still unable to believe a carton of cigarettes was nearly $57 dollars.

Next, I pulled into the parking lot of the liquor store she said to go to. I wonder if LTD is a secret code for something illegal? Again, I shook off the worries and blamed it on watching too much crime TV.

I don’t drink (except for Lipton on the rocks) so I stepped inside and marveled at the sheer number of bottles. I found the bottle I’d snapped a photo of. Mission almost accomplished. I wondered if I was tempting fate and jail time by using this card a second time.

Again, as I checked out, they didn’t ask for ID. As I drove back to her house, another worry crept into my mind. What if this was a test? She might ask me to score some medical marijuana next time.

Oh no, there wouldn’t be a next time. She’d have to wait for her helper.

The constant worry confirmed what I always knew: I was not cut out for a life of crime (or using someone else’s bank card with permission.) But I did walk away with a new bit of wisdom imparted by our elderly acquaintance. If the holidays get too much, I now know that whiskey and cigarettes can get me through!

*Name changed to protect the wise :)

Do you have any secrets (legal or not) for making it through the holidays?  I love this time of year, so I don’t usually get too stressed… but it doesn’t hurt to keep ideas on hand!

Did My Google Searches Finally Catch Up With Me?

Well, I knew it was only a matter of time before my Google searches drew the attention of authorities.  (Like the search I mentioned at the end of this post.)  Earlier this week, my WiFi connection dropped and when I tried to reconnect, I had the following list of available networks:

10-28WiFi

The first two are mine, but the last one was quite unexpected.  I have never seen it before, and I haven’t seen it since.  (For those not from the US, “FBI” stands for “Federal Bureau of Investigation.”  Intimidating, sure… but honestly, the IRS – Internal Revenue Service – scares me more!)

Normally, I’m a paranoid person, but this time, I opened my blinds and waved.  I had a good laugh imagining the boredom of anyone assigned to watch us.  They would need lots of Red Bull and doughnuts :)

Just a bit of mid-week silliness here.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sigh. Wildlife, 4; Humans, 0

Made a fool again.

White flag waved (with crossed fingers)…

Ready for next round.

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Early Monday morning we discovered the wildlife had another crazy night of partying. Somehow, they are able to keep their rabblerousing down enough that we sleep through it; however it’s obvious we were the benefactors of the animal equivalent of toilet-papering a house. I have the “trashy” pictures to prove it:

At least dirty laundry wasn't aired...
At least dirty laundry wasn’t aired…

As my older son and I scooped up garbage donning very fashionable surgical gloves, neighbors slowed to stare as they drove by. One man stopped and rolled down his window.

“Ah, the javelina got ‘ya?” he asked.

I shrugged.

“This is what the javelina do,” he said with a nod.

“Well then, I guess our trash won’t go out until I hear the garbage truck.”

I should’ve known! I bet it was that javelina that gave me “the look” after her baby finally freed itself from our garden. I feared she wasn’t done with us and I was right.

10-6 javelina-edit

Arizona Game and Fish has pretty much tied our hands, as it unlawful to injure, kill or trap them. I don’t really want to hurt them anyway, but they aren’t taking the hint that they aren’t welcome around here. Since I’m not likely to lure a pack of coyotes as pets to patrol our land, I’ll have to do more research on all the things javelina hate and start doing more of that!

Stay tuned for our next failure :)

(It’s hard to show confidence when our efforts thus far make Elmer Fudd look competent!)