THE PINGBACK SYNDROME

How many of you know what a pingback is and how to create one? Let’s see a show of hands. 

Wow! Looks like quite a few of you are in on the pingback secret … except for me.

Now, I am not a stupid woman and I’ve learned a lot about computers since I started my site in 2017. I’ve also wiggled my way out of some tough jams and solved problems the Happiness Engineers at WordPress were unable to do. Hell, I even found the solution to an issue that an Apple technician couldn’t help me with. I also taught myself to record and upload some of my stories for a prominent UK radio station – something I’m very proud of. I can figure out most things on my computer or learn something by seeing it done once or twice but this ornery pingback mosquito keeps evading me.

Some of my fellow septuagenarian friends on WordPress who still split logs and milk cows know how to create a pingback. I cannot. What’s the secret? And while we’re on the subject, what purpose does a pingback serve? Why is everyone pingbacking all over the damn place? 

So, to recap, the questions on the table are 1) what is a pingback; 2) how is a pingback created; 3) what purpose does a pingback serve?

Just for fun, let’s see how the dictionary defines pingback: “an automatic notification sent when a link has been created to a person’s blog post from an external website, allowing a reciprocal link to that website to be created”.

Hmm. Ok, what does Google say about pingbacks on WordPress? “A pingback is a notification WordPress sends to other blog owners when linking to their content. It will appear in a comment and only bloggers who activate the pingback feature will receive the notification”.

Confused yet? Me too. Try this on for size:

What??

When I told one of my friends I thought I didn’t do a pingback correctly, he asked me if I remembered to “lock it in”. No, of course I didn’t! I wasn’t even sure what I was supposed to “lock in”. Another friend explained creating a pingback like this: “To do a pingback: Copy the URL (the https:// address of my post) and paste it onto your post.”  Yet another friend posted a similar message: “To execute a pingback, just copy the URL in the address bar on this post and paste it somewhere in the body of your post.”

Now, those explanations sound pretty clear and easy and in my head I know exactly what they’re saying; however, when it comes to actually copying the URL, I can’t find it and when I think I’ve got the right URL, it turns out to be the wrong one! So far I don’t think I have successfully completed one single pingback. Pretty dismal, isn’t it?

I need someone to explain to me in easy-to-understand language how to do a pingback and show me where to find the elusive URL address I’m supposed to copy and paste. Speak to me in one syllable words if necessary. Observe the KISS Principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. I promise you; I will not be offended.

Somebody help. I’m terribly confused!

NAR © 2022

BALL AND CHAIN

Jim at Song Lyric Sunday has asked us to share our thoughts
about musicians who are members of legendary “27 Club”.
My contribution today is the one and only Janis Joplin.

Janis Joplin, one of the most successful and widely-known female rock stars of her era, was born on January 19, 1943. On the evening of Sunday, October 4, 1970 Janis was found dead on the floor at the Landmark Motor Hotel by her road manager. The cause of death was a heroin overdose; she was only 27 years old. Janis was cremated and her ashes were scattered from a plane into the Pacific Ocean. Hard to believe in two days we will observe the 52nd anniversary of her death. 

The passing of Janis Joplin stunned her fans and shocked the music world, especially when coupled with the death just 16 days earlier of another rock icon, Jimi Hendrix, also at the age of 27. Music historian Tom Moon wrote that “Joplin had a devastatingly original voice” and music columnist Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote that Janis as an artist was “overpowering and deeply vulnerable”.

I think you will all agree that is true as we listen to one of her most famous songs – Ball and Chain.

Lyrics

Sittin’ down by my window
Honey, lookin’ out at the rain
Lord, Lord, Lord, sittin’ down by my window
Baby, lookin’ out at the rain
Somethin’ came along, grabbed a hold of me
And it felt just like a ball and chain
Honey, that’s exactly what it felt like
Honey, just dragging me down

And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now hon’, tell me why
Why does every single little tiny thing I hold on goes wrong?
Yeah it all goes wrong, yeah
And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now babe, tell me why
Why does everything, everything
Hey, here you gone today, I wanted to love you
Honey, I just wanted to hold you, I said, for so long
Yeah! Alright! Hey!

Love’s got a hold on me, baby
Feels just like a ball and chain
Now, love’s just draggin’ me down, baby, yeah
Feels like a ball and chain
I hope there’s someone out there who could tell me
Why the man I love wanna leave me in so much pain
Yeah, maybe, maybe you could help me, come on, help me!

And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now hon’, tell me why
Now tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me why, yeah
And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, when I ask you
When I need to know why, c’mon tell me why, hey hey hey
Here you’ve gone today
I wanted to love you and hold you
Till the day I die
I said whoa, whoa, whoa!

And I say oh, whoa, whoa, no honey
It ain’t fair, daddy it ain’t fair what you do
I see what you’re doin’ to me and you know it ain’t fair
And I say oh, whoa whoa now baby
It ain’t fair, now, now, now, what you do
I said hon’ it ain’t fair what, hon’ it ain’t fair what you do
Oh, here you gone today and all I ever wanted to do
Was to love you
Honey an’ I think there can be nothing wrong with that
Only it ain’t wrong, no, no, no, no, no

Sittin’ down by my window
Lookin’ at the rain
Lord, Lord, Lord, sittin’ down by my window
Lookin’ at the rain, see the rain
Somethin’ came along, grabbed a hold of me
And it felt like a ball and chain
Oh this can’t be in vain
And I’m gonna tell you one just more time, yeah, yeah!

And I say oh, whoa whoa, now baby
This can’t be, no this can’t be in vain
And I say no no no no no no no no, whoa!
And I say whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Now now now now now now now now now no no not in vain
Hey, hope there is someone that could tell me
Hon’, tell me why
Hon’, tell me why love is like
Just like a ball
Just like a ball
Baaaaaaalllll
Oh daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy
And a chain
Yeah!

Songwriters: Willie Mae Thornton

Ball and Chain lyrics © Kenwon Music, Cristeval Music

Song Lyric Sunday: Ball and Chain – The Elephants Trunk

YOUR MAJESTY

It was Labor Day weekend, 1978, in Las Vegas. The temperature was 103º but we didn’t care. We didn’t have any plans for outside activities. We were there for one thing and one thing only.

Frank Sinatra.

Along with a few other couples from Goldman Sachs, we’d been invited by my husband’s boss for a weekend in Vegas. It was our first time seeing Sinatra in Vegas – or anywhere else, for that matter. He was scheduled to do the 9:00PM show at Caesar’s Palace Circus Maximus. Dinner would be served at 6:30PM, then Rich Little was scheduled for 8:00PM.

I had no idea what the ambiance would be like, but I was savvy enough to realize that the 9:00PM show would be an elegant affair which called for a very special outfit. I had packed four different dresses and I’d make up my mind which one to wear the night of the show. All eyes would be on Old Blue Eyes but I still wanted to look nice – for myself and to make Bill proud. This was the first time I’d be meeting his colleagues and their wives and I wanted to make a good impression.

After trying on all my dresses, I decided on a sapphire blue velvet little number with spaghetti straps dotted here and there with tiny crystals. It was form-fitting and about three inches above the knee but I had great legs and looked really good in that dress. I paired it with a silver purse, strappy sandals and a diamond and sapphire choker which Bill had given me for our fifth anniversary. 

The group had already gone downstairs and by the time we arrived there were only three chairs left at the long rectangular table; they were surprisingly close to the stage. We noticed that the end seat was marked ‘RESERVED’. For whatever reason, everyone else seemed intimidated by that chair. Bill and I sat, the vacant seat to my right. No one came by to tell us we couldn’t sit there so we made ourselves comfortable.

Shortly before dinner was served, the noise level in the room suddenly dropped and people all around us began whispering as a beautiful woman was escorted to the empty chair next to me. She had perfectly coiffed blonde hair and was wearing a shimmering white brocade gown with a mink collar. I couldn’t help noticing all her jewelry was diamonds and sapphires. We smiled politely at each other and her eyes landed on the delicate but elegant choker around my neck. She sweetly remarked, “What a lovely necklace, my dear” and asked me my name.

Thank you. I’m Nancy” I replied, touching my choker lightly and motioning to Bill on my left. “The necklace was a gift from my husband. I thought the sapphires would be appropriate for an evening with Blue Eyes.”

She laughed softly. “Well, you’re quite right and I see we have much in common. Nancy is Frank’s daughter’s name, you know. And I agree with you about the sapphires; Frank adores them.” She extended her jewel-bedecked hand. “I’m Barbara – Frank’s wife – and it’s a pleasure to meet you, Nancy.”

Well, if I had false teeth they would have fallen out! Here I was, a girl from The Bronx, chatting away with Mrs. Frank Sinatra! We had a nice little talk; she complimented Bill on his taste in gifts and I told her how excited I was to be there. Frank Sinatra music was always playing in my parent’s house when I was a kid. Barbara was a lovely woman, very attentive and easy to talk to, and I felt like I made a friend that night. 

Dinner was fabulous and Rich Little’s impressions were amazing and hilarious. Finally at 9:00PM on the dot the curtain opened to thunderous applause. Frank Sinatra sat on a stool by the piano, smoking a cigarette and looking incredibly cool. The room became silent and on Frank’s cue, the band started playing “Fly Me to the Moon”; Frank started singing and the audience went wild. 

Each song was perfection and Frank had an amazing rapport with the audience, cracking jokes and giving little background information about each song. At one point he said “I don’t usually take requests but when it comes from my wife you know damn well I’m gonna do it or else I’ll be sleeping in the guest room tonight.” Everyone laughed and Barbara whispered in my ear “I think you’re going to enjoy this.”

I sat there mesmerized, squeezing Bill’s arm as Frank sang my song – Nancy (With the Laughing Face). I felt like he was singing to me and, because it was Barbara’s request, he was doing exactly that.

After the show and a couple of encores, Barbara said to me and Bill “Come with me; there’s someone I want you to meet.” Out of nowhere two burly men came up beside us and escorted us backstage and into a large dressing room. There, sitting on the couch was Frank Sinatra; his tie was undone and he had a drink in his hand. He was so relaxed he looked like he could have been home watching the ballgame. 

Barbara introduced me and Bill as her ‘dinner companions‘ and I thought I would faint when Frank raised my hand to his lips and said “How ya doin’, doll?”

I never liked it when any man called me “doll”. I still don’t. But when I looked in Frank Sinatra’s sapphire blue eyes as he called me “doll”, all I heard was him saying “Your Majesty.” 

NAR © 2022

MACKINTOSH’S GOOD NEWS

I’m writing this for Song Lyric Sunday and just wanted to say that
Savoy Truffle is delicious but addicting! 😊

George Harrison wrote “Savoy Truffle” in September 1968, by which point the Beatles had been working on the White Album for over three months. This period was one of disharmony within the band, following their mixed experiences while attending a course in Transcendental Meditation in India early in the year.
Away from his work with the Beatles in 1968, Harrison increasingly spent time with Eric Clapton, leading to occasional musical collaborations between the two guitarists and a lifelong friendship. Having contributed to Harrison’s solo album Wonderwall Music, Clapton was invited to play on his White Album track “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” marking a rare appearance by another rock musician on a Beatles recording as Harrison sought to defuse tensions within the band.
George Harrison wrote “Savoy Truffle” as a tribute to Clapton’s sweet tooth. He derived the title and much of the lyrics from a box of Mackintosh’s Good News chocolates, which Clapton began eating during one of his visits to Harrison’s home. It’s been reported that Clapton devoured an entire box of the chocolates in one evening so George made a point of having a fresh box in his house whenever Eric was there. It was commonplace for Eric to eat a whole box of candy every time he visited George. Many of the confectionery names used in the song are authentic; others, such as cherry cream, coconut fudge and pineapple heart, were Harrison’s invention, based on the flavors listed inside the lid of the box.
I have chosen Dhani Harrison’s live video tribute concert for this post for one reason: it never ceases to amaze me how much Dhani looks and sounds like his father. I hope you enjoy this terrific video of George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle” performed by his son, Dhani.

NAR © 2022

Creme tangerine and Montelimar
A ginger sling with a pineapple heart
Coffee dessert, yes, you know it’s good news

But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

Cool cherry cream and a nice apple tart
I feel your taste all the time we’re apart
Coconut fudge really blows down those blues

But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

You might not feel it now
But when the pain cuts through
You’re going to know and how
The sweat is going to fill your head
When it becomes too much
You’re going to shout aloud

But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

You know that what you eat you are
But what is sweet now, turns so sour
We all know Ob-La-Di-Bla-Da
But can you show me, where you are?

Creme tangerine and Montelimar
A ginger sling with a pineapple heart
Coffee dessert, yes, you know it’s good news

But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

Yes, you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: George Harrison
Savoy Truffle lyrics © Westminster Music, Harrisongs Ltd

https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2022/09/24/-a-craving-for-sweets/


AN AUNT’S LAMENT

Our picture challenge – what do you see when you look at this photo.
This one was very difficult and painful for me to write.

Oh, my precious niece. Welcome to the family! I’ve waited so long to meet you and now you’re here.

I’ve longed to hold a little girl in my arms, to breath in that sweet baby smell.

You have two little cousins – my boys. They’re a bit older than you and they’ll protect you always, just as they would have protected their own sisters.

Yes, little one, I almost had baby girls, three in fact; it just wasn’t meant to be. The daughters I desperately wanted but never had. My body just couldn’t hold on to them.

They’re safe in heaven so don’t cry, my love; I cried enough to last a lifetime.

Now it’s time to say good night. Have no fear, sweet girl. I’ll always hold on to you.

NAR © 2022

Written for Sadje’s What Do You See prompt. Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema @ Unsplash.

GUEST POST: A BOTTLE FULL OF BOTTLED UP EMOTIONS

It’s been too long since we heard from my friend Paul Griffiths,
The Birkenhead Poet. It’s about time.
Please take a moment to bask in the sublime words of The Poet.

I’ve bottled up all my feelings of inadequacy.
Then I cast the bottle adrift down by Moreton shore.
Setting my feelings adrift in the great blue yonder.
I’m not in need of such emotions any more.

Sitting by a lighthouse bathed in the darkness.
With not another soul about.
The sound of sound waves breaking comes crashing in.
As all my angst starts pouring out.

Standing at the water’s edge.
With a bottle of bottled up emotions in my hand.
As the sea gently erodes away my fading footprints.
In life’s ever shifting sands.

Encased in glass, trapped like a genie in a bottle.
I cast away the best and worst of me.
As I stand here drowning on dry land.
Yet feeling all at sea.

A bottle crammed full of mixed emotions.
Goes bobbing off to who knows where.
I watch as the bottle drifts off to the far horizon.
But I’m too numb inside to care.

There’s no message in the bottle.
Just a bottled up primal scream.
Full of anger, confusion and resentment.
And every mixed up emotion in between.

A primal scream trapped in a bottle.
With the lid sealed nice and tight.
I sit in silence and watch my bottled up emotions.
Disappearing into the silence of the night.

A primal scream encased in glass.
Full of sorrow, woe and pain.
Cast adrift into the Sea of despair.
To be never seen again.

Will the bottle be swallowed by an ocean of tears.
Or will it reach some far off distant sandy shore.
Either way or neither way.
I’m passed caring anymore.

No tears shall I weep for I’m emotionless.
Nor words of regret shall be spoken.
As long as the glass bottle remains intact.
Then my new found resolve shall remain unbroken.

Time and tide wait for no man.
As I watch the turning of the tides ebb and flow.
I’ve bottled up my feelings for so long.
The time has come for letting go.

As the darkness of such lost feelings fade,
Today seems to be a brighter day.
As my bottle of bottled up mixed emotions.
Drifts silently further and further away.

PTG © copyright

OH MOTHER! WHERE ART THOU?

Here we have a pic of a rather disgruntled baby. Our challenge is to take 6 minutes and write a story inspired by this pic. Sounds like child’s play? Let’s see!

Ok, she said she was coming right back to read me a story. That was at least 10 minutes ago. I can hear her voice so she must be on the phone again cos I don’t hear anybody else. I’ve been laying here with Teddydeer waiting for that story and it better be the one about the snail crossing the road. If she tries to cheap it off with Goodnight Moon, I’m really gonna have a fit. I mean, it’s not fair. I can’t TELL her what story I want and when I cry she thinks something’s wrong and the whole story reading thing gets delayed. I don’t ask for much: milk, a clean diaper, cuddles and tickles, my blankie and Teddydeer. Is that unreasonable? I don’t think so. Ooh, I think I hear her coming up the stairs; and speaking of clean diapers, now I have a poopy diaper which she’s gonna want to change before we read. And boy is it stinky. Must be the kale nuggets she tried passing off as sweet potatoes for lunch. Well, serves her right for taking so long. Parents!

NAR © 2022

187 words

Simply 6 Minutes

OBLIVION

Liz sat on the edge of her bed in the darkness of her room. It was August yet her body shook with chills as though it was the dead of winter. She wrapped her heavy sweater tightly around her shivering body but the cold she felt was bone deep and she could not get warm. Her bottom lip began to quiver and her teeth clicked noisily. She rocked back and forth as overwhelming pain consumed every inch of her body. She ran her fingers through her scraggly hair, then grabbed her head and covered her ears to block out the voices screaming at her. Every time another wave of pain washed over her, it was worse than the one before. Her brain screamed in agony and she squeezed her head tighter to strangle the voices that were mocking her. Liz rolled onto her bed and pulled the blanket over her but it did nothing to block the cold and the increasing agony she was in. It wasn’t enough that every bone in her body hurt; her skin felt like a million razor blades were cutting into her flesh. She beat her fists against her head and opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out. In an instant she went from freezing cold to burning up. She threw the blanket off and clawed at her clothes, tearing at everything she wore until she sat there naked in the darkness of her room, sweat dripping off her. Now her head felt like it was going to burst and her eyes burned like hot pokers. Her body felt like scorpions were scrambling over every inch of her, their pincers digging deep into her skin. She felt them crawling into her ears and she crushed them hard against the side of her head. Her breathing was shallow and ragged and she knew this time she would surely die. She always wanted to die, to end this hell she was in. Through her excruciating pain she slowly stretched her arm out and reached for the crude nightstand by her bed. Scratching at the drawer she finally managed to open it. She reached in and blindly searched until her fingers came in contact with what she was searching for. Clutching the plastic bag, she dragged it from the drawer and pulled herself into a sitting position. Totally devoid of any emotion, Liz emptied the contents of the bag onto her bed. Her right hand barely had any feeling but she managed to tightly wrap the tourniquet around her arm and pull it with her teeth. She found the pre-filled syringe she scored from some stranger in the building. She slapped the inside of her arm hard until her veins popped and plunged the needle into her arm. The lovely liquid flowed through her body and she immediately began to relax. She slowly fell back onto the bed, the rubber band freeing itself from her teeth. She closed her eyes and melted into oblivion.

NAR © 2022

Flash Fiction Challenge #185,

HANKY PANKY

This week’s challenge asks us to share a period in our lives
when we seized the opportunity to try to get away with something.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” That phrase by the famous author Sir Walter Scott is so very true, especially in this scenario.

It all began when my boyfriend Bill (now husband) and I along with his brother Jim and girlfriend Lynne (now wife) came up with the idea of going away for a little weekend of hanky panky. Why we felt the need to get away is a mystery; I suppose being away from home made it exciting and naughty. We were doing just fine in the hanky panky department at home but we were rebellious teenagers who acted first and thought later.

We told our parents we were going skiing in Kingston, New York – about a 2-hour drive from where we lived in The Bronx. The first blazing red flag for my parents should have been the fact that I did not ski. If they had any doubts at that time about the validity of our story, they said nothing; I probably told them I was going to take ski lessons since Bill, Jim and Lynne all knew how to ski.

The brilliant plan we came up with was to tell our parents that Lynne and I would share one room while Bill and Jim stayed in another. In hindsight I can’t help but wonder why my parents would believe such a flimsy story. What’s even more incredible is they let me go! Maybe they just relaxed a bit after already raising one daughter who was a saint compared to me.

When the day of our get-away finally arrived, we drove up to Kingston and checked into our hotel. After a bit of alone time in our rooms to unwind from the drive, we all went out to dinner. I remember ordering a sloe gin fizz cocktail and a ridiculously rich steak dish smothered in a creamy mushroom gravy.

*At this point it’s only fair that I inform you, dear readers, that rich and creamy gravy goes through me like a freight train. TMI, I know, but it’s necessary info for this story. I can feel my stomach churning as I write this.*

After dinner we returned to the hotel and all hung out together in Jim and Lynne’s room for a while before heading off to our own room. A couple of hours later I woke Bill up complaining of intense stomach pains. I was in a bad way and he decided to take me right to the hospital. Not wanting to disturb Jim and Lynne, Bill and I went alone. If only we had stayed in our room and let nature take its course. These things have a way of resolving themselves but at the time it seemed more serious than it was and our impulsive nature took over.  

After arriving at the hospital and explaining the situation, I was politely but sternly refused treatment because I was underage and there was no adult present to sign any necessary forms. Sick as I was, I was cognizant enough to realize this could be problematic. In other words, we were up the creek without a paddle. There was even talk of notifying my parents. This meant trouble.

DUM DA DUM DUM!! The tangled web was becoming a knotted mess.

Well, this is something hospital personnel see all the time – kids out for some fun without their parent’s consent – and they cut me a little slack. Determining I had nothing more serious than a bad stomachache, they still refused to treat me but they gave me access to a private bathroom. Bill managed to get his hands on some Pepto Bismol at the drugstore across the street and after a while I started feeling better. We returned to the hotel a little while after Jim and Lynne had woken up; they were very surprised to find out I had gotten sick.

Even though I was feeling better, I wasn’t up to our weekend get-away and we all reluctantly agreed to return home. There was no need to come up with an excuse; we would simply tell our parents the truth – that I wasn’t feeling well and we came home early; however, we left out the little bit about the hospital.

Our parents were surprised to see us but agreed we did the right thing by coming home. Everything was going smoothly until later that night as we sat in Bill and Jim’s kitchen talking about our abbreviated weekend trip. Lynne inadvertently said “Yeah, Jim and I were surprised to find out Nancy had gotten sick; she looked fine when we left Bill’s room last night.”

Liar, liar! Pants on fire! The knotted web now had us in a stranglehold.

Of course, Lynne immediately realized her gaffe but it was too late. She sat in horrified silence, a nauseous feeling coming over her. Bill and Jim’s mother realized we had not been in separate rooms and the disappointed look on her face was too much for Lynne to bear; she quickly got up and went into another room. Bill managed to come up with an explanation to cover what Lynne said but we’re sure his mother only pretended to believe it.

I don’t know for sure if my parents ever found out about that night in Kingston; I have to believe they didn’t because I never would have heard the end of it if they knew. But was it just a coincidence that I was forbidden to attend Woodstock a few months later? That was never, under any circumstances, ever going to happen. There was no getting around that one.

I learned a lesson that weekend how quickly things can go wrong and how easily someone’s trust can be lost, even if temporarily.

It took me a hell of a lot longer to realize there are certain foods I couldn’t eat and drinks I couldn’t drink. After too many years of ‘discomfort in the lower tract’, I finally wised up and changed my crazy eating habits but I never lost my rebellious and daring spirit. I just learned to temper it.

NAR © 2022

#FBTF

SPREAD ‘EM

The Elephant's Trunk

Thanks to an similar story by my friend John Holton (see below), I’m submitting this post to Fandango’s One Word Challenge.
The prompt word is “chop”.
I’m also feeling mixed emotions for I see our recently departed friend Hobbo commented on my story when I originally wrote it last year.
RIP Hobbo.

This hairy hand is not mine!

When I became pregnant with my first baby in 1977, my husband Bill and I were over the moon! We were thrilled and dove headfirst into the whole pregnancy phenomenon – buying furniture and clothes and setting up a nursery. At the time I was 26 years old, weighed 105 pounds and stood 5’4” tall.

Throughout my pregnancy I craved barbecued hamburgers, fresh tomatoes and hot fudge ice cream sundaes every day. After nine months, I gained a whopping 72 pounds and at some point had to remove my wedding…

View original post 825 more words

LEND ME A HAND!

Greetings to all my wondrous WordPressing friends! It’s incredible how many friends I have made here; your challenges and word prompts etc., are amazingly creative.

When I first started my site in 2017, I figured I’d write a couple of little stories now and then. Well, five years later and one look at my site will show you how that turned out! It took on a life of its own and morphed into Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.

Not that I’m complaining ….. far from it. My site blossomed and I’m very grateful for all my followers and all the ‘likes’ you give me. Your complimentary and encouraging comments spur me on to be as creative and original as possible.

I’ve been following a lot of you, too, and trying to keep up with all the prompts you post; as much as I’d like to, it’s impossible to participate in and contribute to all of them. If I did, I’d never have time to write my own stories and let’s face it – that is my first love. I’m a storyteller and I think I’ve been neglecting my site just a bit by trying to keep up with all your sites.

Don’t look at me like that; you haven’t even read what I’m going to say!

I have no intention of bailing out on you, my WordPress friends. I just need to cut back a little and try to not spread myself so thin. If something really cool pops out at me on one of your posts (and I’m 100% sure that will happen) then I’ll plunge in and I’ll give it my best shot just like I do with all the stories I write.

This is not goodbye; you can’t get rid of me that easily. I’ll still be stopping by every day checking up on you, reading your poems and stories and taking up a challenge whenever I can.

Keep on keeping on, everyone. You’re the best group of people ever!

NAR © 2022

HIGHWAY STAR

Sadje at Sunday Poser # 97 asks the question of the week: “What’s your driving style?’

Based on my driving record – only one moving violation in 45 years – I’d say I’m a very good driver. I love to drive and do all the driving. I hate the way Bill drives and he knows it; too heavy on the brake and the choppy ride makes me car sick. I’m a much better driver than I am a passenger. 🥴

There isn’t much on the road that scares me but I don’t like those huge car carriers. I’m sure the cars are securely locked into place but I’m always thinking “What if one slides off right into traffic or the carrier topples over?” Some of those transport drivers are really hauling ass and you can see them swaying back and forth. One jerk of the steering wheel and WATCH OUT!! What a horror show that would be! 😳 The best thing for me to do is pass them as safely and quickly as I can and put them behind me. There are a lot of people who are hesitant to pass trucks and buses but I’m not. I’d rather be in front of them and as far away as possible. I like seeing where I’m going when I’m driving, not staring at the back of some big rig not knowing when it may suddenly STOP! 🛑

There’s another thing I’m not crazy about and that’s night driving. Bright headlights coming in the opposite direction cause me to squint and tense up, giving me a headache and making for an unpleasant ride. On the other hand driving on a dark country road with no streetlights – just my headlights – can be stress-inducing; encountering a deer in the road is no joke. It’s kind of freaky when it’s so hard to see, you’re not even sure if your own lights are on! 🦌

As long as I’m talking about pet peeves, let’s discuss another thing that gets on my nerves. Where we live we’re allowed to turn right at a red light unless there’s a sign forbidding it.🚦 It’s convenient and saves time; you just stop, make sure it’s safe to turn and go. There’s no law that says you have to turn right on red but it’s awfully rude for the people waiting to turn if the driver in front refuses to do so. What are these non-turners so afraid of? I don’t understand why they insist on waiting for the light to change to green before turning but I don’t honk them; I just sit and stew, quietly cursing them out. 🤬

When I’m driving around town running errands etc., I’m very cautious, especially if the grandkids are in the car with me. There are a lot of cars out and about these days and sometimes it feels like I’m driving in an obstacle course. Besides, you never know when a little kid will dart out into the street. There’s a great sign I’ve been seeing around lately; it says “Drive like your kids live here”. Now that drives the message home, doesn’t it? 👫 (no pun intended). It’s important to drive carefully in town but there’s such a thing as driving too slow and I’m not very patient with the slowpokes. 🙄 Sometimes being too slow is as dangerous as being too fast.

When I’m driving on the highway I admit I tend to drive fast but I’m not reckless and I’m in total control at all times. I don’t fiddle with the radio 🎶 or eat 🍟 or talk on the phone 📲 when I’m driving. I just mind my own business and keep up with the flow of traffic. Frequently you’ll see some big-shot highway stars changing lanes, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. 🌟 Where are they going that’s so important anyway? However, if someone is going too slow, I’ve been known to tailgate and that makes Bill jittery. 😵‍💫 He always says, “If I see brake lights up ahead and I don’t feel like we’re slowing down, I get nervous.” I can see his foot automatically reaching for the invisible brake by his left foot while his right hand is clutching the door, white knuckles showing. I know what I’m doing but if anyone is nervous while I’m driving, it’s time to slow down and take their feelings into account. I want my passengers to be comfortable, not on edge.

Bill is absolutely right, of course, and I will never fault him for reminding me to back off or slow down. Ever since our major accident more than 20 years ago, I can’t blame him. That was a freak accident and a harrowing experience. If you’d care to read about it, here’s the link: https://theelephantstrunk.org/2021/12/21/a-roll-of-the-dice/.

Aside from that major accident, I’ve been involved in two minor incidents: on two separate occasions I was rear-ended by school buses on the first day of school in the rain at the exact same location! 🚌 What are the odds of that happening? It’s rather mind- boggling! 🤯 There are few things scarier than looking up at your rearview mirror and seeing a large vehicle barreling down on you. Oh, I forgot to mention the time I was rear ended by some asshole who hit me while I was stopped at a red light. It was a quiet street with no one around, no witnesses. After this idiot hit me, I pulled off to the right to check for damages and he pulled a U-turn and took off! Nice, right? 😡 What’s with all the rear-ending? That’s why Bill warns me about tailgating.

 Cars these days come equipped with some amazing features and I make full use of them. I would be lost (literally) without my GPS 🤷🏼‍♀️; when I have no idea where I’m going, it’s very reassuring to have a kind voice giving me step by step directions. There’s also the backup camera which is invaluable; I don’t know how I drove for so long without one. The lights on the sideview mirrors which flash and beep when it’s unsafe to change lanes are very helpful, too, especially to warn you about those drivers who love to hide in your blindspot.

I’m not a risk-taker when I’m driving but at the same time if I’m stuck in a jam and I see a way I can safely get myself out of it, I’ll go for it. Getting behind the wheel of a car is a huge leap of faith; we never know what the other guy is gonna do – intentionally or not. There are so many things that can go wrong. I’ve heard it’s safer to fly in a plane than it is to drive a car; I guess I believe that but I feel a whole lot better on solid ground than up in the sky. ✈️

Drive safely, my friends, and watch out for those rear-enders! They’re a real pain in the ass! 😳

NAR © 2022

REBIRTH

The writing challenge from Fandango #FFFC #183: In what way does this image inspire? 

Unseen, unwanted and alone
I’ve stood here a thousand years
Until you came, a man forlorn
And I felt your salty wet tears

Whatever caused this pain in you
And made you feel this way
Whatever broke your heart in two
Now makes my branches sway

Please come back again to me
Lay your head upon my bough
Cry your tears so tenderly
And smooth your furrowed brow

Tis life I feel again in me
Love locked in by this earth
Come back to this abandoned tree
And instill in me rebirth

NAR © 2022

NANCY HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

Hey! I know that a chick. You know her, too. It’s ME, the artist formerly known as Nancy Richy. Knew I couldn’t fool ya!

Well, it’s never too late to make some changes in life, teach an old dog new tricks, give the house a fresh coat of paint, etc etc.

So, may I introduce to you the scribe you’ve known for all these years – The Sicilian Storyteller! I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse AND tell you a story at the same time! LOL!!

My website hasn’t changed; only my penname has been altered. It’s your same old friend with a new handle; don’t be afraid to turn that handle and come inside. I don’t bite – well, only those I like. 💋

Let’s get real: I’m proud of my heritage and the fact that I’m a writer; it’s who I am and what I do so why not go with it?!

Hello, all my friends! See you later! Ciau, tutti amichi! Ni sintemu doppo! 🙋🏼‍♀️

NAR © 2022

DOMINICK & PEPPINO

For this week’s challenge on Song Lyric Sunday we’ve been asked to go with novelty songs. I wanted to select two songs that I think some of us more mature bloggers may know, especially those of us of Italian descent.

The first song is “Dominick the Donkey” sung by Lou Monte, a funny sing-along Christmas record first recorded in 1960. It was brought to modern audiences in 2011, especially in the UK where Chris Moyles gave it regular play on his BBC Radio 1 breakfast show. In the run-up to Christmas of that year, the song reached #3 in the Christmas 2011 UK singles chart. Though “Dominic the Donkey” reached #3 in the UK, it never charted in the US.

Three years later, Lou Monte saw success with “Peppino, the Italian Mouse” another novelty song which peaked at #5 in the US. It had entered the Billboard Hot Top 100 Chart on December 2, 1962 and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100.

Here for your enjoyment are both songs.

Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)


Santa’s got a little friend,
His name is Dominick.
The cutest little donkey,
You never see him kick.
When Santa visits his paisons,
With Dominick he’ll be.
Because the reindeer cannot,
Climb the hills of Italy.


Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)


Jingle bells around his feet,
And presents on the sled.
Hey! Look at the mayor’s derby,
On top of Dominick’s head.
A pair of shoes for Louie,
And a dress for Josephine.
The labels on the inside says,
They’re made in Brooklyn.


Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)


Children sing, and clap their hands,
And Dominick starts to dance.
They talk Italian to him,
And he even understands.

Cumpare sing,
Cumpare su,
And dance ‘sta tarantel.
When jusamagora comes to town,
And brings do ciuccianello.


Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)

Hey! Dominick

Writer/s: Ray Allen, Sam Saltzberg, Wandra Merrell 
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided 
by LyricFind

Pepino, oh, you little mouse, oh, won’t you go away
Find yourself another house to run around and play
You scare my girl, you eat my cheese, you even drink my wine
I try so hard to catch you but you trick me all the time

Cesta no surecillo a basoccella dinda mur
Ogna sere quella esce quanda casa scura
Endo dindo la cucina balla sulasu
A parrano malandrino pura un gabo sapaur

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa

The other night, I called my girl
I asked her could we meet
I said, “Let’s go to my house
We could have a bite to eat”

And as we walked in through the door
She screamed at what she saw
There was little Pepino
Doin’ the cha, cha on the floor

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa

Quella non ci piace u formaggio American
Quella va trova no poca Parmesan
La fatto ghiata ghiat gusto ena cor
Quando cella camina para probino caladur

Pepino suracill ana parta scubari
Managa suracill a casa ma dai
Stasira da cucina nu poco di vino ci au lasciar
A quando si briaggo a Pepino giong apa

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Ray Allen / Wandra Merrell

Pepino The Italian Mouse lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

NAR © 2022

AND SO I DROWN

The prompt for today is Writing in One Sentence, challenge created by RXC:PROMPT #247, hosted by Reena

Just when I think there are no more tears left in me,
a thousand more worm their way out of the corners of my eyes
and trickle down my cheeks, falling on my breasts
as my fingers quiver over the keyboard,
its magnetic pull as strong as the waves of a tsunami
dragging me to you,
to reach out to you and lose myself in your eyes,
to dream of your hands on the small of my back
drawing me to you,
bringing out every passion every woman
throughout all of time has ever known
yet realizing if I do so I will lose myself forever
and so I drown in tears of sorrow and love and painful resolution;
O God, I despise my anguished body
which has turned against me so cruelly,
I hate these feelings I have for you,
and yet I delight in them
as I am devoured by the passion you have for me
and I die a million times over for I know the pain I suffer
will never allow me to be with you again,
the only one I truly long for.

NAR © 2022

 

THE TALK

When I was a little girl one of the things I dreamed about was some day marrying the most handsome, kindest and bravest man in the world. My little friends and I shared the same dream, as did most girls back then.

We would gather in my yard under Grandpa’s grapevine for the wedding of Barbie and Ken. Barbie was the princess bride; never was there a lovelier creature with her perfect figure and lustrous blonde hair. Her gown was like a million sparkling clouds sewn together and on her head she wore a diamond tiara that twinkled as brightly as her blue eyes.

Ken was her dashing groom – the epitome of elegance without a hair out of place (literally!). His tuxedo was the finest money could buy and his patent leather shoes glistened like the stars in the darkest sky. 

Since we always played in my backyard, only my dolls were allowed to be the bride and groom. My little friends would dress up their Barbies in matching gowns of blue velvet to be bridesmaids. One of my other friends was really lucky; she was the only one who had an Allan doll – he was Ken’s best friend and, of course, his best man. She also “borrowed” her brother’s G.I. Joe chaplain action figure, a very rare piece indeed, to be the priest. One time my friend accidentally spilled chocolate milk all over the chaplain and when her brother found out, she was never allowed near his stuff again. 

We took our Barbie and Ken weddings very seriously; we even had rings which our neighbors Mr. & Mrs. Maroni made for us. One was of shimmering silver thread for Barbie and the other was twisted copper wire for Ken. My mother was the caterer; after the ceremony she provided us with the freshest Hostess Cupcakes and the most delicious Nestle’s Quik. Afterwards Ken and Barbie would ride off in Allan’s convertible with a “Just Married” sign on the back. They would have the perfect marriage, just as all our parents had (or so we thought).

My parents fought just about all the time. From breakfast until the time Dad left for work they would argue about something, then it would all start in again after dinner. I’d hear them arguing while I did my homework. At night while trying to get to sleep I would hear other noises coming from my parent’s bedroom. They were pretty loud but they definitely weren’t fighting and the next morning they were all smiles. Go figure.

Then one day my friend’s older sister told us we had to have a talk; she was 12 years old and already wearing a bra so we paid attention. That was the infamous day we learned about S-E-X!! Boy, was that an eye-opening monologue; she talked while we all sat there in shock. I was a pretty curious and precocious child so after that talk I figured out darn quick what those noises were from Mom and Dad’s bedroom at night and why they were always so happy when they woke up in the morning.  

Right then and there I promised myself when I got married I would fight with my husband as often as I could. I mean, if Mom and Dad were that happy every morning, there had to be something to this sex thing after all.

NARA © 2022

JIVE TALKIN’

One day my mother and I were home alone; I think I was about 9 years old. I was doing my homework and mom was cooking dinner when we heard someone knocking on our door. It was our neighbor Dotty Pessin who lived a few houses away with her husband and two teen-age sons. Dotty hardly ever stopped by so we were curious about her visit. 

She and my mom made small talk for a little while then Dotty said in that whiney voice of hers, “So Nancy, I brought this record album over; I don’t know much about little girls so I hope you like it. It’s a record of kid’s songs. Why don’t you play it on your record player?”

Now this came as quite a surprise to me; it wasn’t my birthday or anything so I couldn’t understand why Dotty was giving me a gift. Even my mother was perplexed and said something like “That’s very thoughtful of you, Dotty” but Dotty just stood there smiling and watching me which was very surreal. Between you and me, I think she was a little simple-minded.

I removed the album from its jacket and placed it on my record player. I carefully lifted the arm and gently lowered the needle onto the record, then the three of us stood around listening to kid’s songs. I liked the record; I was 9 and they were kid songs. What’s not to like? After about four songs Dotty asked me what I thought of the record. I told her I thought it was very nice; I liked it a lot and thanked her for the gift.

I expected Dotty to say “I’m so glad you like it”, You’re welcome”, “Enjoy it” or “You’re just the sweetest thing ever”  – something along those lines. That’s not exactly how it went down. What she said was “Oh, it’s not for you! I bought the record for my friend’s 10-year-old daughter and I just wanted to see if you liked it. I figured if you liked it then she’d probably like it.”

Well, I may have been only 9 years old but I knew jive talkin’ when I heard it and I felt this whole scenario was pretty fucked up. My mother thought what Dotty did was rude, mean-spirited and misleading; I was just a little kid and mom gave Dotty a piece of her mind. My mother could really get medieval on someone’s ass when necessary. Dotty was bewildered and couldn’t understand why we were so upset. In a huff, she took the album and left. I think I may have cried; how would you have felt?

From that moment on Dotty Pessin became known as “Dotty Pessin, that Indian Giver” (which I realize today is totally un-PC and not acceptable).

But, come on; I ask you: who does that? After all these many years I remember that day like it was yesterday. Dotty-freaking-Pessin!

Sheesh!

NAR © 2022

TELL ME…

Written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt.
Linda’s prompt is to start our post with “why?”

Why do I always choose the public bathroom stall which has no toilet paper?

Why does a toothache always flare up on a holiday or a weekend?

Why does someone leave their shopping cart right next to my car in the parking lot? 

Why does someone have to tailgate me when we’re the only two cars on the road?

Why can’t I wear white after Labor Day?

Why do people sit on their horns and blast you the second the light changes?

Why don’t Twinkies ever go bad?

Why do people race to get into the express lane only to drive 50 MPH?

Why do people drive around with their radio volume turned up to “Bleeding Ears” level?

Why does the pizza place cram a large pie into a small box so all the sauce and cheese slides to one side?

Why does the guy sitting next to me on the bus smell like he ate a raw onion for lunch?

Why does the coffee at Starbucks taste like it was brewed three days ago?

Why do our driver’s license photos look like we just came off a three-day bender?

Why is there always someone in the audience at a rock concert who yells out “Free Bird!”?

Why is every other guy in England named Mick, Ian or Nigel?

Why is there always a kid kicking the back of your seat at the movie theater?

Why do pencils either have dried up erasers or no points?

Why do people recite their phone number at warp speed at the end of a voice mail?

Why is my favorite show always interrupted by some lame news report?

Why didn’t anyone ever call Kramer by his first name?

Why did The Beatles have to break up?

NAR © 2022

THE HARBOR VIEW

Do you see the third building on the left, the one painted cream with a terra cotta roof? Yes, that’s the one! And do you see the two small windows on the top of that building? I’m so intrigued by those windows and wonder what’s behind them. Why? Because some day I’m going to live there and it will be divine!

Quite a view, isn’t it? 

It’s a little odd that I daydream about living there; I have no idea where “there” is. I only saw a poster one day as I rode by on a crowded bus on my way to work. Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with getting out of this hectic, dreary city and moving to that lovely building by the brilliant harbor.

I imagine the sun glistening off the ocean every morning and the stars performing a water ballet of harbor lights at night. I can hear the street vendors calling out to tourists passing by to taste this or buy that. Children playing tag; their carefree laughter is so delightful. An old woman sells glimmering conch and abalone shells by the dock and people stop by her little table for small sandy pouches tied with string the color of lapis lazuli nights. The baristas at the outdoor cafes brew fresh coffee from the burlap bags of roasted arabica beans and the baker across the way brings out sweet fruit tarts and golden walnut and pistachio pies dripping with honey.

There’s a small hazy smoke shop nestled between two larger buildings and men stop by for hand-rolled unfiltered cigarettes and skinny cigars. Young beautiful women and men eye each other across the tables in the antique bookstore, perhaps searching for love as well as an antique yellowed copy of sonnets and poems.

The orange fishing boat has just returned and her haul was a good one. The little boat is heavy with various fish and the crew expertly fillet the catch. Mothers with babies strapped to their backs patiently wait for the fish to be wrapped in brown paper and handed to them for tonight’s dinner.

Somewhere in the distance a church bell chimes and dogs bark at the passing boats. The intoxicating salty aroma of the sea rises up to my rooms and I fling open the windows to welcome another glorious new day. I take a deep breath as the warmth of the sun caresses my face.

The booming voice of the overworked bus driver yells out “Fulton Street” and snaps me back to reality; my exquisite daydream is shattered … temporarily. Someday I will find my way to that cream colored building with the terra cotta roof on the glistening harbor. 

It’s quite a view, isn’t it?

NAR © 2022

Written in response to CCC # 198 and CCC# 199, hosted by Crispina Kemp

BEYOND THE PALE

Chloe’s wedding was planned for the end of the month. As she was being fitted for her gown, she noticed how washed out she looked; the white crepe fabric and her dark brown hair against her pale skin made her look anemic. Chloe decided she would get some highlights in her hair and build up a tan before her big day and honeymoon in Barbados. This was going to be her one and only wedding and she wanted to look stunning. 

Chloe heard about a new tanning salon called “Beyond the Pale” which had opened in town and she stopped by to check it out. When she arrived, she was surprised to see a high-tech device attached to the exterior wall; there were buttons, a speaker and a monitor which was flashing a neon red message:

THIS PROPERTY IS PROTECTED BY
AN ELECTRONIC SECURITY SYSTEM. 
TO SPEAK TO A RECEPTIONIST,

PRESS THE BLACK BUTTON BELOW.”

Times have certainly changed!

Chloe pressed the black button and was surprised when the message on the screen disappeared and was replaced by the image of an attractive young woman. Her voice came through the speaker: “Welcome to Beyond the Pale. I’m Nicole. Please press and hold the green button while speaking. So, how can I help you?”

Chloe pressed the green button. “Yes, hi. I’m Chloe and I’d like to talk to someone about your tanning packages.”

Sure! I’ll beep you in. You’ll hear a buzz and the door will slide open. Take the elevator to the 2nd floor.”

After the door slid open, Chloe entered the tiny hallway, jumping slightly when the door snapped shut behind her. She took the elevator to the 2nd floor and was greeted by the same woman she saw on the screen.

Hi, Chloe. Sorry about all the security. It’s the way of the world these days. So, you want to hear about our tanning packages?”

The two women discussed the various packages available and Chloe told Nicole about her upcoming wedding. Chloe chose a package suitable for her and Nicole showed her around the salon. She was surprised to see she was the only customer there. Nicole explained that Mondays were always slow and Chloe had picked a good day to come by; she could have her choice of any of the tanning beds. Chloe looked forward to her first session and was excited to have a deep golden tan for her wedding.

Chloe chose the futuristic Masterson 360 tanning bed; she entered the room and the door closed behind her. She noticed the keypad on the wall was flashing a red “5”; Nicole told Chloe during their tour that meant she had five minutes to undress and apply lotion before getting into the bed. Nicole further explained that Chloe had to say “Start” when she was ready to begin tanning; the lights would turn on and the cover of the bed would automatically lower and lock in position for ten minutes. At the end of her session, the tanning lights would turn off and the cover would open by itself. If Chloe needed to end the session at any time, all she had to do was say “Stop”; the lights would turn off and the lid would disengage and open. Chloe loved the easy, hands-free system; it was unlike any tanning salon she’d been to before.

Meanwhile, back at the reception desk, Nicole answered another call from the front door. Checking the video monitor, she saw it was her boyfriend Dean. She beeped him in and pressed a different button which changed the message on the screen in case any customers showed up. The message read: 

“NO ONE IS HERE RIGHT NOW.
THE SALON WILL REOPEN IN 15 MINUTES.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.”

Dean sidled up to the front desk, smarmy as ever. Nicole couldn’t resist the slick and fawning type of guy.

“Hey, baby! You’re looking fine today. You gonna show me how happy you are to see me?” The words practically slithered out of Dean’s mouth.

“I sure am, babe! I’ve been fantasizing all morning about getting it on in the massage room. You ready?” Nicole replied.

Dean grabbed her hand and placed it firmly on his crotch.

“Do I feel ready, Nic?” 

Nicole giggled as Dean followed her into the massage room, fondling her ass on the way. Nicole playfully pressed her finger against his lips saying “Ssh” as she listened for the sound of Chloe’s tanning bed starting up. Confident that Chloe would be occupied for at least 10 minutes, Nicole pressed a button on the wall keypad which electronically locked every door in the salon.

“There! Nobody can interrupt us. Now, show me what you got, baby!”

Dean and Nicole started going at it hot and heavy, the heated vibrating massage bed adding to their pleasure. They were really getting down to business when there was a sudden muffled “WOOSH” and the room went black.

“Whoa! What was that?” Dean whispered.

“Must have been a power failure. No worries, babe. It’s all high-tech stuff but I know how to override the system” Nicole answered. She tapped her iPhone flashlight app and padded over to the keyboard panel on the wall. She began pressing one button after the other but nothing happened. Nicole tried repeatedly to bypass the system with no luck.

“Shoot! It’s not responding. I’m gonna have to call for help; get dressed, Dean” Nicole commanded. To her dismay, she discovered she had no cell service. Getting dressed as quickly as she could in the darkened room, Nicole told Dean to try his phone. He also had no service. They soon learned the salon phones were not working either.

“Okay, no reason to panic. The salon is connected to a main security facility. I’m sure they’re getting our alert right this minute. We just need to sit tight and wait for them to reset the codes. This is a foolproof system. No worries.”

The duo sat on the massage bed waiting for the power to come back on. Nicole elbowed Dean saying “Listen! Do you hear that?”

“I don’t hear nothing” Dean brusquely replied, annoyed that their sexcapade had been cut short.

Well, I do. It sounds like a tanning bed is running.”

“How can that be if everything’s shut down?” Dean asked.

“Well, it shouldn’t be. But listen. Can’t you hear it?”

“Yeah. I can hear it now.”

“Oh my God!” Nicole cried out. Her hands sprung to her ears trying to block out the sounds. “I can hear her!”

“Hear who, Nic? What are you talking about?”

“Chloe. Our new client. Dean, she must be stuck in the tanning bed. Oh, God. Why didn’t the bed turn off? We have to help her!”

Dean tried desperately to open the massage room door; it wouldn’t give. There wasn’t even a window in the room they could try to open or break. The air conditioning had shut down and they were both now dripping wet. Nicole was starting to become frantic.

That was nothing compared to how Chloe was feeling.

☀️   ☀️   ☀️   ☀️   ☀️

Fifteen minutes earlier Chloe was oiled up and ready for her first tanning session. She slid onto the bed, said “Start” and chuckled a little imagining herself on an episode of Star Trek. The lights turned on and the cover slowly came down and locked in place. As the warmth enveloped her, Chloe smiled thinking what a great decision she made coming to Beyond the Pale. She relaxed.

Chloe thought about getting a new hairstyle for her big day and how fabulous she’d look walking down the aisle. And, of course, her mind drifted to her honeymoon in Barbados. She was so content, so happy and certain nothing would get in the way of her perfect wedding day.

The temperature in the tanning bed started getting pretty hot; this was only Chloe’s first session and she didn’t want to get burned. She had lots of sessions to use to build up a nice deep tan. Remembering what Nicole told her about turning off the bed at any time, Chloe said “Stop”. The bed did not turn off. Chloe squinted and tried to locate the speaker system thinking perhaps there was a button she could press. The glaring lights were too much for her eyes; even wearing the eye protectors, Chloe couldn’t locate anything that felt like a speaker. Her vision was obscured and she became more agitated.

The tight quarters of the tanning bed left no room for her to move around but Chloe managed to bend her arms until her hands reached the cover above her. She pushed on the lid to open it but it wouldn’t budge. She tried again, more forcefully this time, but nothing happened; the lid was securely locked in place. “Okay, calm down” Chloe said to herself. “The session is probably almost over and the door will pop open any second now. You can do this; it’s just a little heat.”

Chloe started doing her deep breathing exercises, slowly counting off each breath as she went along. She began to relax and was even able to ignore the heat, but then she realized she had counted to 75 and the lights had not turned off. She was definitely in the tanning bed longer than the allotted time and it was getting dreadfully hot. She pushed against the lid once more; no luck.

Chloe panicked.

She began pounding on the tanning bed, screaming for someone to let her out. She was acutely aware of her delicate skin beginning to burn. She was in pain now and could feel her skin sizzling like bacon in a microwave. She began hearing little crackling noises and her face was incredibly hot. Wriggling her arms up to her head, she recoiled in horror when she realized her hair was singed. Oh God! If she didn’t get out of there soon she’d burn up!

Chloe turned into a madwoman as the pain reached new levels; her skin began blistering and oozing. She could smell her body and hair beginning to burn. Her eyes throbbed and felt enormous in their sockets. Chloe screamed like a woman possessed and reached up to cover her face with her hands. Overcome with excruciating pain, Chloe passed out. 

🔥 🔥  🔥  🔥   🔥 

The emergency alert from Beyond the Pale reached the security facility almost 15 minutes earlier. When their attempts to get through to the salon failed, they called 911. The police and fire department arrived quickly but were faced with tremendous difficulty gaining access to the building. Since the salon was a free standing building with no other businesses nearby, there was no access other than through the salon itself. The door was made of industrial strength metal; the fire fighter’s axes didn’t even leave a dent and because it was a sliding door, there were no hinges to remove. There were only a few windows consisting of thick impact-resistant lucite cubes. The fire chief paced back and forth, trying to figure out how to get inside. As far as he could tell, the salon was in violation of many building safely codes; it was a horror show waiting to happen. In a last-ditch effort, the chief and a small crew climbed up to the roof and began carefully chipping away at the tiles. The last thing they needed was for the roof to cave in.

After what seemed an impossibly long time, a crack appeared in a section of the roof. Painstakingly making the opening larger, the team lowered a ladder into the opening and climbed down. Others followed and found themselves in the salon’s reception area; it was dark and hot and there was a low humming sound coming from one of the rooms down the hall. They also heard faint voices coming from the far back area of the salon.

Tubes of tanning lotion had burst in the heat, emitting a saccharine Tropical aroma, but there was no mistaking the smell coming from the tanning room; it was one first responders never forget – the stench of burning flesh.

One group of fire fighters followed the voices which led them to the massage room. They could barely make out the sounds inside and when they called out, no one responded. The door to the massage room was not a sliding door so the fire crew removed the hinges but it took an additional ten minutes to open the door wide enough for someone to squeeze through. Inside were Nicole and Dean; they were alive but overcome by the intense heat and suffering from dehydration. They were carried out by EMTs and transported to the hospital. A police car followed; once the patients were able to talk, questions needed answering.

Another team followed the smell to the Mastersun 360 tanning room; the door was searing hot and a bright glow was visible from under the doorframe. A fire hose was snaked in through the hole in the roof and the tanning room door was sprayed with water in an attempt to cool it down. It sizzled and crackled like fajitas in a Mexican restaurant. It took a long time for the door to cool down but at last the fire fighters were able to remove the pins from the hinges and pry the door open. To their disbelief, the tanning bed was still running; clouds of smoke billowed and sparks danced across the room.

There was no discernable way to turn off the bed. A risky decision was made to cut the thick cables with a giant bolt cutter. Everyone took cover as the fire captain started attacking the cables. They spit and hissed, sparks arcing, but eventually he cut through and the tanning bed ground to a halt. Now that the room was quiet, the feeblest of murmurs could be heard coming from the bed. Grabbing a crowbar, the fire captain went to work on the latch which kept the lid locked in place. With a loud SNAP the latch detached. It took four people to lift the lid.

What they saw made even the most seasoned veterans among them cringe; a few became physically sick. Lying on the tanning bed was what remained of Chloe; her body was seared and oozing, taking on the heinous appearance of a massive slug.  With excruciatingly slow movements, Chloe managed to tilt her head a fraction of an inch in the direction of the fire fighters, made a low gurgling noise and died.

A specialized detail was called in to remove Chloe’s molten body. The salon was cordoned off and an investigation would begin immediately.

Poor Chloe. All she wanted was a golden tan for her special day. She wanted to be a beautiful bride, something all women hoped for. Was that too much to ask? How could Chloe know her simple wish was unattainable, something beyond the pale?

NAR © 2022

THI

 

   

T“TTHIS PROPERTY IS PRO

   

 

THIS PROPERTY IS PROTECTED BY
AN ELECTRONIC SECURITY SYSTEM.
TO SPEAK TO A RECEPTIONIST,
PRESS THE BLACK BUTTON BELOW.”Times had certainly changed!

“NO ONE IS HERE RIGHT NOWTHE SALON WILL REOPEN IN 15 MINUTES.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.”
Dean sidled up to the front desk, smarmy as ever. Nicole was always attracted to the slick and fawning type of guy.“Hey, babyoDean’s mouth.

HORSE SENSE

What does this picture inspire you to write? Another challenge from my friends at “What Do You See?”.

“Hey, Charlie! Phil! Get a load of these jackasses!” neighed Daryl as he stared over the fence onto the country road. “Do they really think they’re capable of winning a race? On two legs?? This takes the cake!”

“Daryl, I’m pretty sure they’re not actual jackasses” whinnied Charlie. “They just look like jackasses!”

Phil kicked up his back legs and snickered loudly. Tossing back his glossy black hair, he gave out a hearty laugh. “That was hysterical, Charlie! ’They just look like jackasses!’ Absolutely priceless!”

“Well, they’re sure acting like jackasses! What the heck are they doing?” asked Daryl.

“They’re jogging – people run around all bandy-legged with arms flailing getting all sweaty going nowhere in particular and looking pretty dumb while doing it.” Charlie explained.

Phil trotted over. “Yeah. I read about these idiots in Horse Beautiful. It’s some kind of craze, far as I can tell .. some sort of asinine exercise routine.”

“Yeah” agreed Charlie. “What a total waste of time! And there’s even more of them running around the city.”

“OMG!” laughed Daryl loudly. “Check out these two in their matching his-and-hers outfits. Look at the shape they’re in! They gotta weigh 600 pounds combined. Can you imagine them riding us? Oh, my aching back! My screaming knees!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Look at what we got here, boys. Now that’s some fine-looking little filly!” exclaimed Phil as he moseyed nearer to the fence. “Oh yeah. I’d like to see her in a wet t-shirt contest!’

“She sure is something else, alright” Charlie agreed. “Check out those tiny shorts she’s wearing. She can ride me bareback any time she wants!”

“Man, now that’s one stacked number! I could watch her jog and bounce around all day!” Daryl smacked his lips.

“Hey! What are you three flea bags doing all this way from the barn? Farmer Brown’s gonna have a cow if he hears you jumped the fence again!” It was Barkley, the yellow lab who lived on the ranch. “Best get yourselves back home before someone notices you’re gone. C’mon! Giddy-up!”

“Race ya!” snorted Phil and the trio took off leaving Barkley in their dust.”

“Bunch of jackasses!” Barkley yowled indignantly. “Well, good riddance to them and woof to you, sexy lady. You jog by here often? Have I got a bone for you!”

NAR © 2022

#WDYS

SINGING HIS PRAISES

This weekend our challenge is to write a poem or story
in exactly 95 words incorporating the word “opera”.
 Please see the challenge link below the video.

About 20 years ago I discovered my son David could sing. He had been out at a karaoke bar and I heard he “blew the roof off the place” singing an Iron Maiden song.  

Well, that was enough for me. When I heard him sing I was stunned. I convinced him to join me in our church choir. He soon became lead tenor and joined several opera companies.  

Since COVID, David has not performed. You can be sure once he’s back on stage his dad and I will be right there in the front row.

NAR © 2022

🎶 🎶 🎶 🎶   🎶   🎶   🎶   🎶   🎶   🎶   🎶

NB – David is The Wandering Minstrel. This is the entire operetta starting at David’s entrance point. Please do not feel compelled to watch the entire show; however, if you do, I hope you enjoy the renaissance version of Il Mikado!

Thanks to my challenging friends at https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2022/08/27/weekend-writing-prompt-274-opera/

SALTY TEARS

My life-long friend sat beside me, holding my hand as I lay crumbled in bed. Her eyes were rheumy from too many tears, very uncharacteristic of her; I was used to her carefree, bawdy laugh – just one of the many things we had in common.

“Is there anyone you’d like to talk to … besides me, that is?” she asked, already aware of what my answer would be.

“If you mean a priest, you know better than that” I whispered in reply. “No. I’m ready to go. And you’ll be on my heels, toots!” My friend cackled; she knew I spoke the truth but it did not frighten her. Like me, she had enough of this mortal coil.

We’d been through a lot together, she and I. We thought of each other as sisters, not just best friends. There was only one secret I never shared with her or anyone and I would take that to my grave. I knew I wouldn’t have to wait much longer.

We had both lost our husbands a couple of years earlier; hers went first and mine followed shortly after. We were there for each other through it all. Part of me was relieved my husband went before me; he had always been the stalwart in our marriage, a steady rock who cared for our family without complaint. He was stronger than me; I always knew that and at times it made me feel ashamed because I doubted I could do for him what he did for me. He cared for me even when he was exhausted and ready to drop. How he cried seeing me in pain; he thought I didn’t know but I could hear him weeping late at night. He loved me with all his being until his last day; he slipped away in his sleep without a chance to say goodbye – perhaps the kindest way for both of us. It would have killed him if I’d gone first, leaving him alone.

“I’m so pissed off” I said, making my friend laugh again.

Tell me about it!” she replied colloquially. “I feel your pain, sis.” And I knew she truly did.

Damn this arthritis, this crippling disease that turned me into a twisted dried up old vine! “Remember when I was a hot number a thousand years ago? My melons were nice and firm back then!”

“Haha!! They called us ‘The Honey-Do Twins!” and we both laughed again, happy memories of our once supple bodies dancing around in our brains. 

“What the fuck happened?” and again we cracked up. Our laughs turned to coughs and gradually we calmed ourselves. I strained my eyes to look at my dear friend; at this point, my mouth and my eyes were my only body parts that moved on their own without pain.

I’ve got one regret” I whispered. “I should have fought harder. I let this damn crippler control me. I should have pushed myself, done more with my family and friends. I pray they understand and forgive me. I wanted to spend more time with them, live a fuller life; I just hurt too damn much.”

Tears ran down my face and my friend wiped them away. “Do you want me to call your sons?” she asked.

No, not now. Wait till it’s over. I can’t bear to look at them.” Even now I’m thinking of myself. What a coward! “Kiss me goodbye, sis. I’ll see you on the other side. I love you very much, you know.”

My friend leaned over from her wheelchair; she gently pushed my hair aside and kissed my cheek, our salty tears mingling. 

“Goodbye, my dearest friend. I love you” she murmured, even though she knew I could no longer hear her. “I’ll be right behind you.”

NAR © 2022

IGNOMINY

“MINOR ATTRACTED PERSONS”

Stop the pandering, the protecting, the outpouring cries of “civil rights” and call them what they are:

PEDOPHILES!
CHILD MOLESTERS!!

Where were the civil rights of the children they raped? Who protected the minors? Who heard their cries and screams?

My God, does no one see how hellacious this is? Does no one have a conscience? It would appear not.

Stop it! Just stop this disgusting pandering.

NAR © 2022

THE LONG SHOT

In response to my friends at Fandango’s One-Word Challenge,
today’s word is “gambler.”

“So, kid, your ma says you wanna work on my horse ranch. Is that right?” Micah asked Billy Bob.

“Yes sir. I love everything ‘bout horses and I asked my ma if we can get one and she told me we couldn’t afford one so the only way I can be around horses was to come work on your ranch” Billy Bob answered, feet kicking up dust as he shuffled around nervously.

“What is it you love so much ‘bout horses, kid?” asked Micah.

“They’re the most beautiful animals I ever seen. I like the idea of taking a wild horse and workin’ with him every day, getting’ him to trust you” replied Billy Bob, his eyes lighting up with excitement.

“Breakin’ in a horse is one of hardest things I ever done, kid. Everything ‘bout being a horse rancher is hard. You ready for that?” Micah asked the kid.

“I reckon. All I know is I need to learn everything there is ‘bout horses, what makes ’em tick, how to train ’em to be the best horses ever. I can’t think of anything more excitin’ … except getting’ rich, that is.” Billy Bob answered. He had a burning in him that Micah saw clearly now.

Micah removed his Stetson, pulled out a bandana from his back pocket and wiped his brow. “Well, kid. You sure got the desire, needin’ to know everything ‘bout horses. But you gotta understand one thing ‘bout workin’ on a horse ranch: it ain’t gonna make you rich. That’s a real long shot!” Micah waited for Billy Bob’s reaction.

Billy Bob didn’t hesitate. “That’s ok, sir. I’m smart; that’s what everybody says anyway. I’ll learn right quick. Besides, I don’t plan on workin’ on a horse ranch forever. No sir. Once I know everything there is to know ‘bout horses, I’m gonna follow my dream.”

“And what’s your dream, kid” Micah asked, his curiosity aroused.

“I’m gonna be the smartest, most famous and richest gambler that ever was” Billy Bob replied with proud determination.

NAR © 2022

TV OR NOT TV

Just like the bighorn sheep of North America who shed their wool in the summer, I’m about to do a bit of shedding of my own. I’ll be lightening the load, taking out the garbage, so to speak.

Does anyone else think there’s a whole lot of crapola on TV these days? Seriously – what do people watch all damn day long? I have to be sick as a dog in bed to even think of putting the TV on during the day. 

I know some people love to watch their game shows and others are hooked on the news. That’s fine. They can have it! I can’t take more than 30 seconds of that Mike Lindell guy screaming about his freaking awesome pillows or the endless stream of bobble heads on 24/7 news yelling at each other nonstop. They’re literally sitting two feet away from each other; why all the yelling?

And that’s just daytime TV; prime time is even worse, especially if you have to put up with commercials. Why is it everyone on TV ads has “moderate to severe plaque psoriasis” or “suffers from the embarrassment of IBS”?

By now you’ve probably figured out I don’t watch much TV; I’d rather write stories, listen to music or work on my plants than sit in front of the TV while my brain cells shrivel up and die.

Now I’m not talking about ball games or movies; they are the exception to the rule. I enjoy kicking back to a good move and will watch just about any baseball game that happens to be on but in my opinion everything else is garbagio.

I know nothing about Game of Thrones, The Good Doctor or La Brea. And what the hell is the point of Naked and Afraid? Why do the people have to be naked AND afraid? Can’t they just be afraid? I know I am!

I’ve never seen one minute of any reality show such as The Karadashians (gag me with a spoon!) or The Bachelorette (kill me now!). I watched about ten minutes of Jeopardy! with the new host whose name I can’t pronounce … you know, the one who loves to tell anyone who will listen that she has a doctorate in neuroscience. Who gives a rat’s ass? I’d rather watch Naked and Afraid.

Let me give you a rundown of the shows I watch:

  1. Days of Our Lives (which Bill and I record and watch in the evening)
  2. General Hospital (which Bill and I record and watch in the evening)
  3. America’s Got Talent (I like talent shows despite the over-the-top Terry Crews)
  4. Grantchester (a fantastic BBC show)
  5. All Creatures Great and Small (another fantastic BBC show)
  6. Outlander (yet another fantastic show from the UK with lots of men in kilts as a bonus)

NB – Quality shows like 4-6 usually take two years or more between seasons; why it takes that long to film 10 episodes is beyond me but we patiently wait for their return because they are bloody amazing shows. They’re also commercial free; gotta hand it to the Brits!

That’s all folks! Pretty short list, I know.

So, what did I mean about taking out the garbage? After way too many years of watching the mind-numbing Days of Our Lives and General Hospital, I have cut the “soap on a rope”. Why? Because they are stupid, insipid, a huge waste of time and an insult to my intelligence. My 13-year-old granddaughter could write better storylines. And you know what else? I won’t even miss them.

GOOD RIDDANCE!

One thing’s for sure: in the world of soaps very little changes. If I decide to tune in to either of those soaps five or six years from now, Lulu will still be in a coma and somebody in Salem will be possessed … again. Oy! Now that’s just stupid!

NAR © 2022