Saturday, May 28, 2016

One Night at the Chicken Shack

Young John Waldenthrottle rode his J.C. Higgins ten-speed bicycle over to the Chicken Shack and parked on the sidewalk in front of the plate glass window. Looking inside, he could see that most of the gang had arrived already so he walked on over to the door and went inside to join them.

“Hey Young John!” they all called out as he walked over to where they were sitting.

“Hey everyone!” replied Young John. “Sorry I’m late. I ran over a big sponge on the way here and it got all jammed up in my derailleur so I had to stop and dig it out.”  He went on over and sat down at the table with Agnes, Manticore, James and Albert.

At the next table over was Melvin, with Max on the floor under his chair, Cyclops with the duck on his shoulder, and Medusa. At the end of the table, they had opened the window so that Pegasus could stick his head inside and be part of the gathering. (It had taken some fancy talking to get the manager to allow Max and the duck to come in. They struck out completely when it came to the large, winged horse!)

The Chicken Shack girl brought out a tray with three pitchers of beer, nine mugs and two bowls (yes, the duck drinks out of a mug!) and distributed them to the tables.

Young John looked over to Agnes and asked, “So where’s Vera tonight? She have to work?”

“Yeah,” replied Agnes. “Her boss is being a real jerk. Hasn’t given her any time off since the night she missed work and didn’t call in. You know, the night we were 'stoned' at the cemetery.”  Then she looked toward the other table and said, “Sorry Medusa, no offense.”

“None taken,” said Medusa. “Oh, and I’ve decided to change my name to Marissa.”

“That’s right – I was gonna mention that,” added Cyclops. “People just really have this negative visual image of anyone named Medusa so we thought a name change would be a good idea.”

Then the Manticore piped up, “So when are you gonna get around to giving that duck of yours a name?”

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa there just a second, Manticore,” chimed in Melvin. “That’s no different than you being a Manticore and just going by the name Manticore – now is it?”

Hey now! I’ve got an actual name.”

“Oh yeah? What is it?”

Just as Manticore was about to answer him, a 1956 Ford Country Squire station wagon pulled into the parking lot out front.

“Hey look!” interrupted Agnes. “Isn't that the car that used to belong to…”

And before she could finish that sentence, the driver’s door opened and out stepped: Carl Simpson!

The whole gang stopped everything and just stared out the window as Carl walked around the front of the Country Squire and over to the passenger side where he opened first the door to the front seat and then the one to the back. Out of the doors stepped two absolutely gorgeous women. Carl closed the doors behind them and the trio began walking toward the door to the Chicken Shack.

Suddenly, Medu- uh, Marissa shouted out, “Hey, those are my sisters – Stheno and Euryale!” Immediately she got up and ran to the door to greet them.

As the sisters hugged each other repeatedly and started carrying on in that excited, giddy sort of conversation like three sisters tend to do when they haven’t seen each other in a while, Carl ambled on over to the tables where everyone else was and sat down.

“Man, it is sure good to see you,” said Melvin. “I was sorta wondering what happened to you. Whatcha been doing lately?” Obviously not ready to tip his hand too much in case Carl wasn’t really aware of exactly what all went down last weekBut he was definitely very curious as to what exactly did happen to Carl with regards to the aftermath of that fateful day. Melvin glanced over to Albert and James with a puzzled look on his face. He sensed that same puzzlement and curiosity in the looks on their faces also.

“Well,” began Carl. “The way I understand it from those two…” He paused to point over his shoulder to Stheno and Euryale. “...their sister, Medusa, turned me into a stone statue. That's the only part that I actually, vaguely remember. But according to what I learned from them, apparently some guy mowing the yard at the cemetery…” He raised his eyebrow in Melvin’s direction. “...bumped into me with a riding lawn mower and broke me in half. Then...” He turned his head toward Albert and James. “...a couple of grave digging guys assisted the lawn mowing guy in carrying the halves of my body over to the chapel - where they ended up locking me in a coffin and running off with the key.”

“Okay. Wait. Let me explain…” interrupted Melvin.

Carl raised his hand signaling Melvin to be quiet, and then he continued, “I’m not upset at all. It was a strange day to say the least. Apparently for all of us. Fortunately for me though, Stheno and Euryale… Wait, wait. They’ve changed their names to Juliana and Winnie. Which I’m totally okay with – I couldn’t properly pronounce those other names anyway. So like I was saying; fortunately for me, Juliana and Winnie witnessed the whole thing from the woods. When you guys left the chapel, they came in, broke open the coffin, and carried me off into the woods.”

As the three sisters approached the tables, Marissa said, “Excuse me everyone, I’d like to introduce my sisters - ‘Juliana’ and ‘Winnie.’ Girls, this is Agnes and Manticore and James and Albert and Young John. And here is Melvin and that’s Max on the floor and Cyclops and duck and you remember my son, Pegasus.”

“I’m changing my name to Alexander,” announced Pegasus.

Young John said, “Hi ladies. Carl was just telling us how you rescued him from the coffin.”

“Oh yeah,” replied Juliana. “If we hadn’t have glued the two halves back together when we did – My Zeus that would have been a big mess when he came back to life!”

And everyone laughed for a few seconds – then paused to think about what that would have actually looked like and went, “Eww!"

Gross!" said Young John. "Can’t you see that we’re getting ready to eat?”

At that moment, the Chicken Shack girl came back out of the kitchen with a big tray full of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, biscuits, another pitcher of beer and three more mugs. The sisters sat down and everyone passed around the food then started eating.

A few moments went by without a word being spoken then Melvin took a drink of his beer and broke the silence by saying, “So what is your real name Manticore?”

“It’s Manfred,” answered the Manticore.

Well that is strange," said the duck. "That’s my name too!"

And then they all really did live happily ever after.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Riding with a Can of Transmission Fluid

Making contact with Medusa, Cyclops wrapped both of his hands tightly around her neck and lifted her straight up off the ground. Their eyes locked together.  She was waiting for the transformation to start – the transformation that would turn her attacker into a helpless slab of rock. Cyclops, keeping his left hand securely wrapped around her throat, moved his right hand down and brought it around behind her. She started gasping for air – wondering why this creature was not turning to stone. Cyclops began pushing and twisting his arms with such force that her backbone would surely break under the pressure. He had conquered worse than her with his bare hands before. Face to face, their eyes never losing contact with each other. Medusa’s neck was twisted so far to her right that she felt that at any moment she would hear it snap. Their eyes, their lips within inches of each other – she could feel his beer and fried chicken breath on her face. Medusa, near helpless in his arms but still determined that she could get him to turn to stone at any moment, was on the brink of passing out when… Cyclops loosened his grip around her throat, brought her lips to his and kissed her.

He continued to look into her eyes and, now cradling her in his massive arms, he kissed her again.

As the tension rapidly drained from each of their bodies, violence turned to kindness; war turned to peace; anger turned to calmness; aggression turned to compassion – and then the physical metamorphosis began. Medusa’s skin started to lighten and smooth, scales began to disappear. Her fangs retracted and her hands, which were once claw-like and grotesque, became soft, gentle and petite. One by one, the snakes began to die and fall from her head until she was totally bald – the full moon shining brightly on her bare scalp.

Hmm,” said the Cyclops. “I think that look becomes you!”

I'm thinking I might want to get a wig,” replied Medusa. She started kissing him again.

Behind the caretaker’s house, next to the patio, the lid on one of the trash cans lifted ever so slightly – just enough for two eyes to peer out to see if there was any sign of World War III or maybe even Armageddon.  Other than what miraculously seemed to be a still, peaceful night, the only thing that appeared to be a little out of the ordinary was the statue of the Manticore sitting in a lawn chair with a box of fried chicken on its lap. Young John was about to crawl out of the trash can when suddenly the stone Manticore twisted its head as if to pop the muscles in its neck and shoulders.

“Ahhhh! That feels better,” said the Manticore with a raspy, crackling voice. Then little bit by little bit, the Manticore gradually started to lose its stony appearance as the flesh and hairy exterior covering started to reappear. He took a piece of chicken out of the box and bit into it. As he was chewing, he glanced toward Young John peering over the top of the trash can and said, “How long have I been asleep?”

“I’m not really sure,” answered Young John. “But I know it was about eleven or twelve hours ago that I saw you leave that cold cut combo at the sandwich wagon.”

“No wonder I’m so hungry,” he replied as he took another bite of the fried chicken.

Out on the front lawn, Max suddenly sprang back to life and immediately ran over to Melvin and started licking his stony face – eyes, mouth, nostrils – the works! James and Albert gradually started moving about over at their scene of disaster. The duck’s legs started twitching as its body returned to the living and breathing world. Albert lifted himself off of the bird bath and stood up. James started kicking at their bikes in an attempt to work himself free.

“OH GOOD GRIEF, STOP THAT!” shouted Melvin as he reached up and knocked Max away from his face. He pulled his feet free from the John Deere, stood up and started taking in the scene around him - wondering what all had happened while he was out.

At about that time, Young John and the Manticore came from around back. Young John, looking over at Medusa and Cyclops still lip-locked together, hollered, “For Pete’s sake – get a room!”

As they all were standing in the yard, checking themselves over – feeling to make sure that flesh was flesh once again; elbows and knees and such moved properly once again; and that everything was back to the way it was supposed to be – Agnes, Vera and Pegasus came walking down the path. “What the heck happened?” they started asking.

Young John stepped up and, pointing toward Cyclops and Medusa, said, “Well, she turned the duck to stone and then Cyclops attacked her. After that, I’m not really sure what happened.”

Medusa chimed in, “Apparently, I was unable to concentrate my power toward someone with only one eye. I tried as hard as I could but he just kept staring right at me with that single eye - like he was looking straight through me andand my powers were absolutely useless. All my life, I’ve only ever turned creatures with two eyes into stone. I really thought I was about to die and then - he kissed me." She glanced over at Cyclops with a loving look on her face and she said, "He kissed me and the horrible spell was broken.”

James and Albert, in unison said, “Awww!”

Then everyone, all together, “Awww!”

“Oh, just gag me!” said the duck.

Once everyone was back at the pavilion, they were able to push Agnes’ car out of the flower bed and get it started. The front grill and hood were a little dinged up but it was still driveable. Agnes and Vera offered the Manticore a ride and the three of them took off for town. James and Albert got their bicycles untangled and, after a quick check, determined that no mechanical damage had been done. Cyclops was planning on hanging out at the pavilion for a little bit with Medusa and Pegasus so Young John got his bike ready to ride back to town with Albert and James. As Young John was getting ready to mount his J.C. Higgins ten-speed, Cyclops walked over to his Schwinn Varsity to get something out of his rear bag.

“Here little buddy, catch,” said Cyclops. With that, he tossed a can of transmission fluid over to Young John Waldenthrottle.

And everyone lived happily ever after – well, maybe everyone except for Carl. They had all sort of forgotten about Carl Simpson. That was probably a real bummer to come back to life temporarily only to find that you’d been locked in a coffin – and chopped into two pieces, no less.


The next morning, all was peaceful once again at Resthaven Cemetery. Melvin and Max got up early and ate a hearty breakfast. Afterward, Melvin went out and started working on the John Deere mower for a little while before he had to go unlock the gates at eight o’clock. About thirty minutes later, people started arriving for the graveside services of Phil the Groundhog.

And with that, we answer the previously asked question,
“Who is that buried in Phil’s grave out at Resthaven Cemetery?”

Oh? You missed that question?
Then you need to read… 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Riding with – Uh, Nobody is Riding at All!

Cyclops and Young John worked their way along the western path from the pavilion and down the hill toward the caretaker cottage. As they walked, Cyclops moved his light left and right and from tree to tree, causing the shadows to constantly dance around them. In turn, Young John nervously jumped in perfect timing with each shadow movement, certain that each consecutive one was Medusa coming after them.

“Oh my God, what happened here?” questioned Cyclops as they wandered into the front yard of the cottage which was completely littered with stone statues. He shined his light on the John Deere lawnmower – wrapped around a tree with the statue of the driver spilled out on the ground next to it – feet still up inside the mower.

“That’s Melvin, the caretaker. I met him this afternoon,” said Young John. “That’s my pen in his shirt pocket.”

Moving his flashlight to the left, Cyclops illuminated the scene of two bicycles mangled together with a stone cyclist twisted into the framework of both bikes. The other cyclist was belly down, draped across the birdbath.

“Albert and James – gravediggers,” noted Young John out loud as if taking roll call. “I met them a little bit earlier this afternoon.”

“Seems like quite a few people that you met today had a somewhat shortened lifespan,” commented Cyclops.

“Whatever,” said Young John with a look of mock-disgust on his face. “Move your light a little further to the left. There – that’s Melvin’s dog – Max the Cocker Spaniel. My gosh! He doesn’t look like he’s very comfortable at all – what a horrible pose to be stuck in for all eternity.”

“Met him also a little earlier this afternoon, did ya?” queried Cyclops.

“Again – whatever!” replied Young John.

Suddenly, there was a thud on the ground near their feet. They both jumped as Cyclops swung the light around and shined it down on the ground. Then, at about the same moment he realized that he didn’t feel the weight of his duck on his shoulder any more, he cast his light on the little stone statue lying a few feet away in the grass. A split-second later, a brain-piercing shriek coming from the other side of the John Deere mower shattered the stillness of the night and sent chills straight up Young John’s spine, instantly paralyzing him in his tracks. Cyclops just stood there, looking down at his petrified duck. One by one, every muscle in his body tightened. The veins on his forehead started to bulge. His eye, narrowed with the growing urge to kill. The plastic housing of the converted handlebar headlight was on the verge of crumpling like paper in the death-grip of his clinched fist. The anger and tension was building up like the force inside a volcano about to erupt until… 

Cyclops let out a roaring scream as he charged in the direction of Medusa.

Young John Waldenthrottle dropped his staple gun to the ground, turned and charged for cover around the back side of the cottage.

Medusa stepped out from behind the tree near the mangled John Deere and moved directly into the Cyclops’ path. She stood there, her arms slowly rising upward from her sides as if she was summoning reinforcements of evilness from the furthest depths of the planet. She focused her deadly gaze in his direction as he continued to run toward her. Cyclops, wailing like an anguished madman and forsaking all care, tossed the flashlight and then the gun to the ground. Then, defying the very curse that he knew would immediately turn him to stone; he raised his head to stare directly into the eyes of pure evil - and then he ran even faster toward Medusa.

(Next Chapter)

(Previous Chapter)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Riding with Roadkill

Young John Waldenthrottle rode his J.C. Higgins ten-speed bicycle with a fury, westward out of town in route to Resthaven Cemetery. He was aerodynamically tucked in the draft behind Cyclops who was hammering down the road on a bright orange, 42-pound, vintage 1972 Schwinn Varsity.  (Never underestimate the strength and speed of a solid steel frame when you have a seven-foot-two, 348 pound giant spinning the pedals!) The duck was securely strapped into the bolt-on child carrier hovering over the rear wheel – feathers flapping in the breeze.

It was a quarter to midnight when the trio started up the last hill before the entrance to the cemetery. Cyclops had a headlight on his handlebars that lit up the entire road in front of them better than most cars. Young John had a cheap little metal bracket on his handlebars that simply held a regular flashlight powered by D-cell batteries – it wasn’t even bright enough for him to avoid running over the squished armadillo that he’d seen earlier in the day. They topped the hill and made the right turn into the drive… Wait – why were the gates still open? Young John was anticipating that they would have to sneak in through the fence about forty feet to the left of the gate. Over there, behind the row of hedges, were a couple of loose vertical bars that could be lifted up enough to allow a person to crawl through between the adjacent bars. It had been that way since Young John was in high school, back when he and his friends would come out here to drink, smoke and tell ghost stories on Friday and Saturday nights. But for some reason, on this night, the gate wasn’t even shut. They rode on through and headed down the central lane – Cyclops still in the lead, lighting the way.

They approached the round-about in the middle of the cemetery and suddenly their headlights reflected off the rear end of a sedan protruding from the flower bed that surrounded the base of the pavilion. They rode up to the car and Cyclops shined his headlight the best he could in through the passenger’s side window. Young John dismounted to take a closer look. Not being able to make out much through the tinted glass, he pushed some of the shrubbery away and opened the driver’s side door - hoping that maybe the interior light would help them to see inside. The door opened about a foot but no light came on. Battery was probably dead. Then Cyclops went around to the driver’s side of the car, shoved his bicycle through the flowers and shrubs right up to the door opening and illuminated the entire front seat area – along with the two stone statues that were slumped forward and up onto the dashboard.

“I knew it! I told you! I told you!” shouted Young John as he leapt back from the car. “That lady there, behind the steering wheel – she’s the lady that works at the sandwich stand. And that other lady – I’ve seen her before too. I think she works at the convenience store or gas station or something. I told you – Medusa was out here and turned Pegasus to stone – now she’s turning living people into stone! This is bad. This is real bad!”

“Calm down John – quiet,” said Cyclops motioning with his hand for Young John to lower his voice. “She may still be out here somewhere.” Then he reached around and pulled his Remington .357 Magnum out of the rear pouch on his bike.

“Okay. I’m feeling a little better now that I see you brought that along with you,” said Young John. “I mean, all I got in the bag on the back of my bike is office supplies.”

“Gotta staple gun in there?” asked Cyclops.

“I think so,” replied Young John.

“Let’s park our bikes here, walk around and check things out. I can take the headlight off my bike – use it like a flashlight so we can see where we’re going.”

“Whatever you do, if she’s still out here – don’t look at her – don’t look in her eyes!”

Young John and Cyclops leaned their bikes up against the side of the Honda Civic. Cyclops unbuckled the duck from the child-carrier and set him up on his shoulder. He loosened the bracket on his handlebar and removed the headlight. Next, he undid the Velcro straps that held the battery to the top tub of his bike frame. Using the Velcro strap to attach the headlight to the battery pack, Cyclops had a perfect 3500-lumen, high-powered flashlight. With that in his left hand and his .357 in his right, he was ready to get this cemetery patrol started. Young John Waldenthrottle had a staple gun. He was also going to carry his flashlight but as soon as he snapped it out of the metal bracket, the light bulb flickered off and on a couple of times then the batteries completely died. Good thing there was a full moon out.

‘Oh great!’ Young John thought to himself. ‘There’s a full moon tonight. What’s next?’

(Next Chapter)

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Riding with Cyclops and the Duck

Young John Waldenthrottle rode his J.C. Higgins ten-speed bicycle as fast as humanly possible down the tree-lined road and past row after row of assorted headstones as he made his way toward the main gate of Resthaven Cemetery. After passing between the massive stone gate pillars, he turned left on Cypress Road and took off down the hill toward town – never once daring to turn around to check and see if anyone was following him.

Meanwhile, back at the west end of the cemetery, Melvin Curtis was faced with his own issues. He had no clue as to when, or even why, the cemetery had acquired a life-sized statue of Carl Simpson. All he knew was that due to his apparent negligence, he had knocked it over and broke it in half. Along with the dents and scratches he just put in the brand new John Deere riding mower, he knew he probably wasn’t going to be earning any Brownie Points from the cemetery owners over any of this. Looking once again at the John Deere, Melvin figured he could get the mower down to his cottage, pound out the dents and sand the scratches smooth without too much of a problem. A little bit of green touch-up paint and it should be nearly showroom new again. A broken statue on the cemetery lawn would be a completely different story though. He needed to come up with some way to fix or cover this up – and fast.

Melvin walked the short distance over to where James and Albert were just finishing up digging for the next morning’s graveside service. He explained his situation to them with the hopes that maybe they would be able to help him to come up with some sort of a feasible plan. At this point, he was open to any suggestion.

Albert immediately commented, “Hey, didn’t you say that they never found the body that is supposed to be buried here tomorrow?”

“That’s right. Just gonna have a graveside service and bury an empty casket,” replied Melvin. Then, turning his head and pointing toward the chapel with his lips, he said, “Casket’s over there now. Delivered it earlier today.”

Leave it to a couple of odd-ball, grave-digging brothers to help formulate the most bizarre plan imaginable. Without another word spoken and in no time at all, Melvin, James and Albert were carting the broken pieces of the Carl statue over to the chapel where they placed them into the empty casket. Then they locked it - and took the key.

Meanwhile still, over near the back porch of the caretaker’s cottage, the Manticore was digging through the trash cans looking for some food. He had found himself wishing that he hadn’t raised such a fuss earlier in the day about something as silly as spicy brown mustard in lieu of yellow mustard – for now he was hungry. Luckily for him, Melvin had thrown out half a box of uneaten fried chicken from the Chicken Shack earlier in the day. With the crumpled box of chicken in hand, the Manticore walked over to the lawn chair on the back porch, sat down and was just about to take his first bite when suddenly a woman’s voice shouted out to him from across the lawn.

Startled, the Manticore looked up and there stood Medusa – all at once Resthaven Cemetery had another new statue.

Around on the front side of the cottage, Melvin was riding down the path on the dented John Deere mower. As he drew nearer, Medusa, munching on a fried chicken drumstick, stepped out from behind the juniper bush at the left-hand corner of the cottage. Melvin took one look at her and managed a meager, “What the…“ before he turned to stone and slammed the John Deere into the tree in the middle of the front yard. 

Hearing the commotion, Max came running out of the doggy door, barking loudly and headed toward the toppled statue of Melvin next to the crashed riding lawnmower. Sensing an intruder behind him, Max immediately did a one-eighty and started to attack Medusa. He was mid-way into an airborne lunge for Medusa’s throat before he made eye contact with her. Three loud yelps later, Max thudded to the ground as a finely sculpted statue of a charging Cocker Spaniel.

“What was that?” asked Albert as he craned his neck and peered off into the direction of Melvin’s cottage.

“Sounded like Max,” replied James. “Let’s go check it out.”

Five minutes later, Resthaven Cemetery had two additional statues - grave diggers riding bicycles – or more correctly, statues of two grave diggers who appeared to have been involved in some sort of a weird bicycle accident.

Meanwhile yet again, a dark blue Honda Civic pulled in through the entrance gate of Resthaven Cemetery. Agnes Simons, the driver of the Honda, had just gotten off work from her job operating a Subs-R-Us sandwich wagon at the corner of Louetta and Ella. In the passenger seat next to her was her mother, Vera Simons. Vera works the evening shift at the service station in town and, since she doesn’t have a car, Agnes always drives her mom to and from work. Usually there’s barely enough time from when Agnes gets off work to when Vera has to be at work but on this day, Agnes had closed down early because Vera had asked if they could go out to Resthaven Cemetery. Vera wanted to put fresh flowers on the grave of her husband – Agnes’ father. Due to her mother's request, Agnes had tried to call her manager, Carl, a couple of times to see if it would be okay to close an hour earlier than normal. He didn't answer his phone either time. Hoping that she wouldn't get in too much trouble, she decided that she would just take her chances, left him a message, then went ahead and closed early.

As Agnes rounded the pavilion in the center of the cemetery and was about to make the right turn toward her father’s grave-site, Medusa stepped out in front of the car. Both Agnes and Vera screamed as they saw the horrid figure. Agnes made an abrupt turn to the left and rammed the car into the base of the pavilion. Instantly the Honda’s horn commenced a constant, mono-tonal blare as two stone female figures lay slumped across the dashboard.


In town, the Cyclops and his duck were just sitting down at the coffee table in their living room with a couple of beers and a box of fried chicken from the Chicken Shack They were preparing to watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory when suddenly there was a violent knocking on the front door. As Cyclops opened the door, there stood the young man who had given him the can of transmission fluid at the service station a few evenings earlier.

With an alarming urgency, Young John announced, “Cyclops, I really need your help. There’s something horrible going on out at the cemetery!” Then he barged his way in through the front door.

While Cyclops and the duck made quick work of their beer and box of chicken, Young John sat on the edge of the footstool in their living room and, in eerie detail, proceeded to tell the story of Pegasus turning to stone right before his very eyes and assuring them that, beyond a shadow of a doubt in his mind, Medusa was roaming the grounds of the cemetery. No telling who else was in danger.

Within a matter of minutes, Young John Waldenthrottle, Cyclops and the duck, were on their bicycles, riding with a fury out of town and on their way to Resthaven Cemetery.

(Next Chapter)

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Riding with the Speed of Lightning

Young John Waldenthrottle’s  J.C. Higgins ten-speed special was propped up on its kickstand about  twenty feet away from where Young John himself was sitting at the base of an oak tree out at Resthaven Cemetery. He was about three-fourths of the way into eating his cold cut combo on wheat when he found himself engaged in an unexpected conversation with the winged horse, Pegasus, who had explained to Young John that he was on a quest to try and locate his mother.  They exchanged a handful of sentences elaborating on why and how and where and what for and how long and when was the last time and other such stuff before Young John paused to take another bite of his cold cut combo. He chewed the mouthful of sandwich three or four times and then, without swallowing, managed to mumble, “So what does your mother look like?”

As Young John began chewing again, Pegasus replied, “Well, I'm told that she’s kind of an attractive woman – maybe hindered slightly by the fact that she has horrid fangs and her skin is somewhat covered with scales. And uh, well– her hair is basically hundreds of grotesque, venomous snakes hissing and writhing about constantly. She usually complains of having a bad hair day. But other than that, I hear she’s a sweetheart.”

Young John swallowed then said, “You know Peg, I'm not so sure that it's such a good idea that you should be wasting your time searching for her. Now I don't wanna be dissin' your mom or nothin' but... it kinda sounds like to me that she could be one of the Gorgon sisters - maybe even the biggest, baddest Gorgon sister of them all - the one they call Medusa!"

Pegasus’ eyes lit up and he exclaimed, “Medusa! Yes, Medusa! That’s my mother’s name! Have you seen her?”

Young John was about to tell Pegasus that he obviously hadn’t ever seen his mother because he was still a living, breathing, flesh-covered being with squishy internal organs and still-liquid blood traveling through his unseen freeways of veins and arteries and that he was able to talk and walk and think instead of being a big old dumb chunk of solid stone but before he could begin to speak those words, Pegasus’ gaze shifted from looking directly at Young John’s eyes to looking at some point behind Young John.

As Pegasus’s eyes lit up even brighter than before, he shouted, “MOM!”

Young John Waldenthrottle dropped the remaining portion of his cold cut combo and froze. He stared straight at Pegasus – forcing his eyes to not move one fraction of the smallest fraction possible in either direction. Seconds seemed to turn into hours. Young John slowly forced his eyes to lower and look toward Pegasus’ hooves. He could have sworn he heard a faint crackling sound come from that location. A faint crackling sound made by the transformation of hooves and hair-covered legs gradually hardening to sculpted rock. The transformation then moved upward, slowly engulfing the torso of the horse, the neck, the tail, the head and finally the pair of outstretched wings, leaving Pegasus frozen for all eternity in a majestic failed attempt at flight.

Half a second later, Young John Waldenthrottle bolted toward his J.C. Higgins ten-speed and, without the slightest notion of looking over his shoulder, jumped on and rode out of Resthaven Cemetery with the speed of lightning.

No chance at all to Enjoy the Ride!


Out at the western edge of the cemetery where it backs up to the thick woods, Melvin Curtis the groundskeeper was busy mowing the grass. He was driving the cemetery’s brand spanking new, mega-impressive John Deere ZTrak  Z970R, 35-horsepower, 72-inch deck, Zero-Turn riding mower – while texting on his phone, I might add – right up until he came to an abrupt stop that killed the engine and somersaulted him off the front of the mower. As Melvin lay there on the ground, collecting his thoughts and trying to snap back to reality, he found himself staring into a familiar face. ‘How strange,’ he thought.

Melvin sat up. He looked at the mower. He rubbed his eyes a little and then looked down toward the front of the mower. The familiar face belonged to Carl Simpson – Jacob and Margaret Simpson’s boy. Melvin had gone to school with Jacob and Margaret back when they lived in Oklahoma – her name was Barfield back then. After Jacob came back from being in the Army, he and Margaret got married. About nine months later, Carl came along. Several years later, Jacob and Margaret were killed during a robbery at a restaurant. Carl took it pretty hard. He wanted nothing to do with Oklahoma anymore so he moved down to Texas. Also had his parents’ bodies shipped to Texas and buried in Resthaven Cemetery.

And now there lay Carl on the ground – or more precisely, there lay a statue of Carl on the ground. Broken in half at the waist after being rammed into by a John Deere ZTrak 35-horsepower riding lawn mower.

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Shooting Star

The sky is such a comfort to me
When the stars come out at night.
The moon smiles down,
"My son, you'll see,
Everything will be alright."

A shooting star is seen to glide
Across the sky
And then to hide.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Riding with Max the Cocker Spaniel

Young John Waldenthrottle rode his J.C Higgins ten-speed bicycle down the road with his new friends Albert and James, the gravediggers. He had originally planned to go home to eat his cold cut combo on wheat with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, banana peppers and healthy helping of spicy brown mustard but he had met up with Albert and James and found them to be a quite interesting pair of gents, to say the least, and so decided to alter his previous agenda. After all, the afternoon was early and there really wasn’t much he felt like doing around his apartment anyway. His television was broken, which really didn’t matter because his power was turned off two days ago and he couldn’t plug in his extension cord at his next door neighbor’s apartment until she got home around five thirty. Besides, Albert and James had suggested that he might enjoy riding out with them to the cemetery and see how they go about digging a grave. He gladly agreed to their kind invitation as he rode right on past the entrance to his apartment complex.

Resthaven Cemetery was a forty-five minute bike ride past Young John’s apartment. He figured he could hang out with Albert and James for a couple of hours then have plenty of time to ride back home before it got dark. The journey was fairly uneventful and Albert and James weren’t either one much on conversation – minimal verbiage, basic fact, to the point, men of very few words. But Young John found them kind of cool. (He started to say to himself, “in a creepy sort of way” – but he didn’t.) So he just rode along behind the brothers riding two abreast in front of him – predominantly in silence.

As they rode up the slight incline about a quarter of a mile from the cemetery entrance, James veered closer to the right edge of the shoulder while Albert simultaneously veered to the left, almost into the actual traffic lane. They both pointed down and slightly ahead into the now widen space between them and in unison called out, “Road kill!” Young John also veered to the right as all three of them rode past the armadillo squished on the pavement then on up to the entrance to Resthaven Cemetery. The trio made the right turn through the gates and then took the first turn to the left to head down the hill toward the caretaker cottage. Melvin Curtis, the groundskeeper, having already seen the approaching bike riders through his office window, grabbed his clipboard off the hook behind his desk. He then walked out onto the cottage porch and a few steps down the sidewalk to greet them.

“Lovely afternoon,” Melvin called out as Albert, James and Young John brought their bikes to a halt.

“Yep. Sure is.” (The minimal verbiage, basic fact, to the point, in unison reply from the brothers.)

“I suppose you’re here to dig the grave for the nine o’clock burial service tomorrow morning?” inquired Melvin.

“Yep.” (The brothers once more in unison.)

 “Sad thing about that one,” he said as he shook his head. “Never did find the body you know. Here – I need one of you to sign this form – as usual.”  He handed the clipboard to Albert and with his other hand patted his shirt pocket a couple of times. “Aw heck!  I don’t have a pen. Any of you got a pen?”

Young John piped up, “Oh hey! I’ve got a pen. I got a whole box of pens here in this paper sack on the back of my bike.” Then he reached into his bag of office supplies, retrieved a pen and handed it to Albert, who, in turned, signed the form on the clipboard and handed it back to Melvin.

Melvin took the clipboard, gave it a quick glance then said, “Looks good. It’s plot K174. Back up the hill and then to the left six rows. It’s not too far.” He put the pen in his shirt pocket.

James, Albert and Young John turned their bikes around and started back up the hill. About that time, a Cocker Spaniel darted out of the cottage door and went chasing after the bicycles.

“Max! Get back in that house!” commanded Melvin. The dog abandoned the pursuit, turned and ran back into the house. Melvin followed him in and shut the door.

The trio continued on up the drive, turned left at the main road, went the six rows over, then got off of their bikes and walked them down the row of headstones until they got to plot K174. James and Albert unhooked their pickaxes and shovels from their rear racks then started outlining in the grass where they were going to dig. Meanwhile, Young John opened the sack on the back of his bike, extracted the cold cut combo on wheat, walked over to the large oak tree about twenty feet away and sat down to eat his sandwich as he watched the brothers go about their work.

Young John was about three-fourths of the way through his cold cut combo when a voice called out from behind him saying, “Hey, young man! Do you think you could help me?”

Young John stood up, turned around and found himself looking straight into the eyes of the winged white horse, Pegasus.  He replied, “Uh, help you with what?”

“I am trying to find my mother. I heard that she might be around here somewhere.”

“To quote Norman Bates,” replied Young John Waldenthrottle. “Well, uh - a boy's best friend is his mother!”