Reprising a little fantasy I wrote for my granddaughter in 2019.

When I tap my hat with this magic wand and say the secret words you will instantly turn into a Blackbird!” declared my brother, Jude. “Are you ready, Lucy?”

“Sure, Captain Marvel” I replied with about as much enthusiasm as a piece of Norwegian Wood

Ok, here goes. Ob-La-Da!” ZAP! And nothing happened. “Hey, what’s going on? Don’t Let Me Down, hat” wailed Jude, truly stumped. 

Hey Jude! Here’s a wild guess: maybe you got the words wrong,” I suggested. “Take a look at this”, and I produced my cherished copy of the White Album. “See, you got it wrong.” 

“Oh yeah! Ok, let’s try again. Ready?” Jude ceremoniously whirled his wand and said Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da!” ZAP! 

And the next thing I knew I was Flying through the sky, gliding Across the Universe. I gazed in amazement Here, There and Everywhere at all the clouds, the water, the tree tops, Abbey Road, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. I spotted a row of houses below and swooped down, perching on a windowsill. Hopping inside I landed right on top of a bathtub.

“Well, hello little Girl! What have we here? A tiny housebreaker?” exclaimed a voice behind me.

“No, silly! I’m a blackbird. I Came In Through the Bathroom Window” I said and turned around to see the one and only George Harrison! 

Welcome, blackbird!” George said, not at all surprised to find a tiny talking bird sitting on his bathtub. “You remind me of a little ditty John and Paul wrote. Would you like to come with me to visit the lads?” 

“You mean John, Paul and Ringo?” I warbled with excitement. 

Well, actually just Paul and John. Ringo had a bit of an accident and he’s in the hospital. But do try to Act Naturally. Ringo doesn’t always have the most confidence and at the moment is moaning ‘I’m A Loser‘! Poor fellow!”

“Oh no! Now I’m Down! What happened to Ringo?” I asked in Misery. 

 George whispered Do You Want To Know a Secret? Ringo was following the Fool On the Hill and he couldn’t Slow Down. He fell head first, he did, crashing right into a pen with a bunch of Piggies who started nipping poor Ringo all over!” 

“Oh, my goodness! Wasn’t there anyone to Help?” I asked tearfully. 

Just the Two Of Us!” exclaimed triumphant voices in unison. George and I turned to see Paul and John had joined us. “We arrived just in time to drag Ringo out from the pigpen but he had sustained quite a few little bites” continued John.

“You’ll be happy to know we got Ringo to Doctor Robert straight away and he’ll be right as Rain very soon. He had a Hard Day’s Night but he’s Getting Better All the Time” added Paul.

“So tell us, Little Child. Do you have a name?” asked John

Paul spoke before I could answer. Something tells me, Johnny, her name is Mother Superior. Can’t you see this little Baby’s In Black, just like a nun’s beautiful habit? Oh! Darling, am I right about you?” inquired Paul. 

“No, my name is nothing quite as impressive as that Because I’m just plain Lucy”. 

“Just plain Lucy!? Rubbish! Let’s see – I’m sure your name is much more modern than Eleanor Rigby, definitely easier to pronounce than Semolina Pilchard but every bit as pretty as Dear Prudence!” exclaimed John. 

George reached into his pocket and took out a teeny pair of pink glasses. He delicately balanced them on my little beak. “Perfect! The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes! Let’s go introduce you to Ringo and we can’t forget to bring the Honey Pie! Ringo loves it so!”

And off we went to catch the One After 909, singing Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds. And A Splendid Time Is Guaranteed For All!”

Suddenly I was in my bed and I wasn’t a blackbird at all. The Lads weren’t here either. Yesterday was over and it had all been a wonderful dream. I knew I had to carry on and Let It Be.

But when I looked over at my nightstand I couldn’t believe my eyes; there sat a teeny pair of pink glasses. Imagine that!

NAR © 2023

Please stop by The Rhythm Section today
and check out my post At The Movies.


When Chris woke up Monday morning, he knew something was not quite right. He was always the one to jump out of bed full of energy, ready to start the day. Not this morning. His neck and shoulders felt stiff and achy, probably from helping his brother repair his deck over the weekend. He didn’t overthink it, figuring a couple of Advil and a hot shower should do the trick.

And they did. Chris felt much better but by noon the tightness in his neck and shoulders was back. Rubbing his neck made the soreness feel a little better; that was when he remembered the masseur at his gym. He decided he’d stop by after work for a massage.

When Chris arrived at the gym, Rick – the front desk guy – told him the masseur was no longer there and his replacement hadn’t started working yet. Rick leaned forward a bit and quietly said, “Look buddy, I could get in trouble for telling you this but my cousin Alex recently opened a massage therapy practice. It’s not easy getting a practice up and running so I offered to help out by referring a few gym members. If you’re interested, I’ll share Alex’s contact info with you.”

Chris knew he didn’t want to spend another night suffering so he decided to take Rick up on his offer. Rick sent his contact information to Chris and five seconds later he had the number for ‘Alex Brody, Massage Therapist’ in his phone. Thanking Rick for the tip, he left the gym and headed to his car.

Chris always kept his gym bag in the car with a fresh change of clothes. He sent a text to Alex, saying he was referred by Rick and explained his situation; Chris added that he hoped he could get an appointment that evening. It didn’t take long for him to receive a reply; Alex agreed to see him in 45 minutes. He was good to go – just enough time to grab a cup of coffee and head over.

Chris arrived at Alex’s place with a few minutes to spare. He grabbed his gym bag, climbed the stairs and rang the bell. The door was opened by an attractive woman in shorts and a t-shirt. She extended her hand and said “Hi. You must be Chris. I’m Alex. Nice to meet you.”

A look of surprise and confusion registered on Chris’ face, then he gave a little chuckle and said “Oh, I see what’s going on here. What’s your full name, Alex? Alexandra?”

Alex withdrew her unacknowledged hand. “That’s right. Is there a problem, Chris?”

“Yeah there is, Alexandra. The problem is women like you who dupe unsuspecting people like me by using a guy’s name simply because they lack the confidence to make it in the big bad world by using their real name. I thought I’d be dealing with a man tonight.”

“You know what, Chris?” quipped Alex. “I thought I’d be dealing with a man tonight, too.”

And she shut the door in his face.

NAR © 2023

Don’t forget to join me today
In The Groove at The Rhythm Section;

we got a thing going on over there.


“These aren’t my panties, George.”

“Whatever do you mean, Carla?”

“What could I mean? I think you know, George.”

“I have a confession, Carla.”

“I knew it!”

“Those panties are mine.”

“Say what?!”

NAR © 2023


One of the best things about being empty nesters is not having to cook full meals every night.

Bill’s easy, always has been; he’s not the meat and potatoes kind of guy. We’re happy with soup, BLTs, burgers on the grill, my sensational ham and cheddar omelets … you get the picture.

There are some days when I feel the urge to cook and will prepare a lovely risotto or perhaps seared sea scallops over a lentil ragù. Rare but it does happen. I’m very content taking it easy these days.

But I have to draw the line at one thing: Chef Boyardee ravioli in a can. Six words that never should be put together. It’s a travesty; it’s also one of Bill’s favorites.

I was raised on pure, natural homemade Italian food. “Pasta” in a can is not food. Correction – it’s food: bad food, eye-averting food, gag-inducing food. It’s a treat for Bill to eat this staple from his childhood. He gets practically giddy buttering his bread and dipping it in the (dare I say) sauce in anticipation of that first mouthful. That, my friends, is a scene that once seen cannot be unseen.

Me? I won’t even open the can.

Gag me with a spoon!

NAR © 2023



When drunk, my wife Blaire could be a sexy vixen or a slutty bitch; tonight was definitely the latter.

Sprawled out on the deck of my boatMariposa’, Blaire slowly got to her feet and staggered toward me, one hand grasping the boat railing and the other a bottle of vodka.

For fuck’s sake, James, why do you always have to wear that ridiculous outfit?” Blaire slurred. She drained the bottle, dropping it on the deck.

This is proper nautical attire, darling, perfectly appropriate for every occasion” I replied. “But you don’t know the meaning of proper and appropriate. You’re all but falling out of your dress.”

Blaire ran her hands up and down her tanned body. “What’s wrong, Captain? Don’t you like the way I look? All the other men do” Blaire purred tauntingly.

Darling, you’re such a drunken whore” I snarled and she reached up to slap my face. I grabbed her wrist and shoved her out of the way. She fell, hitting her head. Putting the boat in neutral I quickly checked on Blaire; she was dead. I adjusted her dress and looked around the boat making sure nothing was out of place.

Heading for the dock, I made a frantic call. “Mayday! Mayday! Emergency on board ‘Mariposa’!”

The police asked a few routine questions but it was obvious my wife had too much to drink; she lost her balance and fell. It happened so fast I couldn’t prevent it … even if I wanted to.

NAR © 2023

Once again I rise to the Unicorn Challenge hosted by Jenne Gray.


“Course One: Escarole Soup. Course Two: Manicotti and Salad. Gina, what is this – Sunday dinner or a reception for the Pope?” 

My girlfriend Gina showed me a copy of the menu her mother had planned for dinner. It was a seven course feast! “Do you eat like this every Sunday?” 

“No, silly – only when we have company. This week it’s my dad’s side of the family. There’s a lot a people and mom always says it’s better to have too much food than not enough.” 

“Wait a second. There’s going to be other people besides your parents? Like how many?”

Gina started counting on her fingers.  “About 18, maybe 20.” 

“The first time I meet your parents I’m also going to meet 20 strangers and you didn’t think to warn me??” 

“Oh, don’t worry. They’re gonna love you.” 

“No. They’ll be employing Sicilian interrogations tactics. They’ll chew me up and spit me out. I’m Irish with blonde hair and pale skin. I don’t stand a chance!” 

Gina laughed. “Oh stop exaggerating. We’re not The Mob, ya know. Just mob!” 

And she was right. I couldn’t believe the number of people that descended on her house. They were loud, funny, loving and very welcoming.

Gina’s mom set the table extravagantly, using her best dishes, utensils and glasses. And the food was incredible. Besides the soup, pasta and salad there was fresh baked bread, an antipasto, a huge platter of meatballs and sausages, two roasts, a bunch of vegetables, fennel, fruit, nuts, a slew of desserts I couldn’t pronounce and coffee. Gina’s uncles and male cousins ate like there was no tomorrow and no one stopped talking the entire time – except for Gina’s grandmother who didn’t utter a sound and stared at me with beady eyes the whole day. Honestly, that tiny woman dressed in black from head to toe scared me to death. 

As the woman cleared away all traces of dinner, Gina’s dad got up, went to the cupboard and returned with a beautiful box made of highly polished wood with the finest Italian marble inlay. Placing the box on the table, he opened it to reveal an assortment of expensive imported cigars. The men lit up and a bottle of anisette appeared out of nowhere.

Gina’s Uncle Vito produced a deck of cards from his vest pocket. “Ya know how to play Red Dog, Phil?” he asked me.

Um … it’s Bill, sir. And no, I’m not familiar with the game.” 

“Hey, no problem, Irish. We’re gonna teach ya. And don’t look so nervous. We may rob ya but we ain’t gonna kill ya. For some reason our Gina likes ya and if she likes ya, we all likes ya.” 

While we played cards, Gina’s cousins Louie and Frankie played their accordions and the women danced; it was the most surreal and unforgettable experience of my life. 

I watched as Gina’s grandmother rose from her chair. Slowly she walked over to me and looked me square in the eyes. She grinned and pinched my cheek till it was beet red. And la famiglia howled.

I swear – 53 years later her stamp of approval is still on my face. 

NAR © 2023
Originally posted in 2019

Join me today At The Movies
for another interesting post

and a great music video.


Grundy sat in his favorite spot: a dilapidated bench on the boardwalk at Coney Island overlooking Brighton Beach. He was celebrating the sixteenth anniversary of his divorce from Barbara, the “Bitch of Brighton” as he called her. And he was getting drunk as he did every night. 

His routine never changed. After his shift at McDonald’s, he’d grab a Big Mac, walk across the street to the Liquor Loft, buy a $7.49 bottle of Old Crow Kentucky Bourbon and a pack of Camel cigarettes, then stroll over to his bench and settle in. 

Grundy’s Bench … his home away from home. Well, not literally. Thanks to his cousin Marcy and her husband Phil, he had an actual roof over his head. Grundy was real close to Marcy, growing up together and all, and Phil was as nice as they come, humble but with the bearing of a prince. Grundy lived with them and their three kids and all Marcy asked was for Grundy to cook Sunday dinner for the family. Hell, he’d cook dinner every night for those precious people if he wasn’t always shit-faced after work.   

“Pretty sweet deal” Grundy thought as he took a swig of his Old Crow. “I’m a freaking loser, an embarrassment, yet they treat me with a love I don’t deserve.” He had his own room, a TV and Marcy did his laundry. He mostly kept to himself, getting home late. He had the day shift, breakfast and lunch included. The pay was lousy and so was the food but it beat a blank. 

How the fuck did he end up here? Carl Grundy, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, working in some of the finest restaurants in the world … once one of the best chefs in New York … now a burger flipping drunk in Brooklyn. 

So what happened? Bourbon happened. He wasn’t much of a drinker – an occasional beer – but one night after a particularly ugly argument with Barbara, he surreptitiously chugged a shot of the restaurant’s finest bourbon. It was ambrosia and he had another. Before long it became a ritual, then a habit and finally an addiction. He got caught, fired and the cycle began. Land a new gig, drink their booze, get sacked. Eventually the only job he could get was at Mickey D’s and Old Crow was all he could afford. 

Out of nowhere he recalled the words of some televangelist his mother used to watch: “Your decisions cause your circumstances”. Damn straight! He didn’t even realize he was crying. Well, enough reminiscing for one night. 

Grundy gave his beloved bench a pat and stood up to begin his walk to Phil and Marcy’s. Suddenly he felt a searing pain in his chest and crumbled to the ground.

“Oh, Lord! I’ve made a fine mess of things” Grundy gasped. “I’m hurting and I want to go home. Mom and Dad are waiting for me.”

He died alone that night, his hands still clutching an empty bottle.

NAR © 2023

It’s that time of year.
Come on over to
In The Groove;
find out what’s the buzz.


“Walnut, definitely walnut” declared Sylvia Klein. “Look what is says in the brochure”: 

Honor your loved one by choosing an exquisite solid wood casket.
The strong, stately Elite Walnut is a timeless casket that comes with
beautiful platinum swing bars and a secure locking mechanism.
Like most of our funeral caskets, the Elite Walnut features
an Eternal Rest Adjustable Bed and matching pillow.
The luxurious silk velvet lining makes this casket an excellent choice
at the remarkably low price of $17,000.

“Doesn’t that sound ideal, Lenny?!” Sylvia exclaimed to her husband. 

“$17,000?! What else is in there – the Crown Jewels?! Who pays that kind of money for a casket?! Sylvia, for that amount we can give our grandsons a bar mitzvah feast fit for a king!” 

“Did you see the part where it says ‘adjustable bed and matching pillow’? Oh, Lenny, think how comfortable I’ll be.

Comfortable?? For crying out loud, Sylvia, you’re gonna be dead. D-E-A-D dead! This isn’t a week at the Ritz Carlton! Adjustable bed my ass!” 

“Lenny, why are you acting like an old tightwad? You always said money is just a number. This means a lot to me!” Sylvia exclaimed tearfully. 

“Sylvia, calm down. When have I ever been a tightwad? Our daughters had extravagant weddings. You wanted that chandelier for the dining room which, I’ll remind you, cost a pretty penny. Then there was the Steinway mahogany baby grand and you don’t even play the piano! Let’s not forget the Jaguar with all the bells and whistles and more cruises than 10 seasons of ‘The Love Boat’! Everything you ever wanted I happily gave you but this – this is just a big waste of money!  

“Leonard Klein, how can you say that?! My final resting place and you’re calling it a waste of money! Sylvia wailed.

“Sylvie, I’m sorry. Calm down. Can we please discuss this later?” Leonard pleaded

“Wait, Lenny. You haven’t heard the best part. This is a special for Rosh Hashanah – buy one, get one at half price. That’s only $25,500 for two – one for me and one for you!” 

Leonard sighed deeply. “Oy vey, Sylvia, I don’t need all this stuff! Put me in a plain pine box and toss me off the yacht. You can even write on it ‘Leonard Klein sleeps with the fishes’!” 

Sylvia started sobbing. “Oh, Leonard, how can you say such a horrible thing? The thought of you being nibbled on by fish and crabs and God knows what … I could die!” 

Sylvia, please stop crying. I was just making a little joke. If you want this ‘Elite’ whatever, we’ll get it. Ok? You feel better now?” 

Sylvia sniffled and nodded her head. “Oh yes, Lenny! You’ve made me very happy! Now one last thing: I can’t be buried. I’m terribly claustrophobic. The thought of being underground – I’d die! I want to be cremated.” 

Cremated?!” Leonard yelled, running his fingers through what little hair he had. “Now you want to be cremated? Are you meshugenah, Sylvia? $17,000 for a piece of firewood?!” 

“$25,500, Lenny” Sylvia replied

NAR © 2023

Check out my new
Name That Tune
post today in
The Rhythm Section


Copyright Ayr/Gray

Coffee mug in hand, I leaned over the railing of my little vacation rental staring out at the Great Smoky Mountains. Recently divorced and childless, I was now truly alone for the first time in a dozen years.

Glorious sunrise, isn’t it?” a smooth southern baritone voice remarked. I turned my head to see a ruggedly handsome man with unruly blonde hair in jeans and a sweater.

We exchanged smiles and appreciative glances. I replied that it was indeed glorious. 

He lingered for a moment or two, then declared “Well, I’m off. Flapjacks, bacon and a great cuppa java for breakfast”. He walked a few steps and turned. “I wonder, do you like Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon? “

I sipped my coffee thoughtfully and said, “I haven’t had the pleasure but I do enjoy a good chilled white wine.”

“Meet me right here tonight; if you think this is a thing of beauty, you should see the sunsets. They’re astounding.” And he walked off, the clop of his boots on the deck the only sound.

He was right about the wine and the sunset. That was the last night I would ever be alone again.

NAR © 2023
(Renamed and repurposed for The Unicorn Challenge, April 14, 2023. The gauntlet has been tossed and the challenge accepted. Write on!)


Originally, the Chelsea Piers evening boat tour was scheduled to depart at 6:00 PM but was cancelled due to dense fog. Disappointed, Emma consulted her tour guidebook for something else to do. She read:


“Hmm. Now that’s intriguing” Emma thought “and it’s nearby.” 

Just a short walk later and Emma arrived at The Vortex, a secluded and rather alluring place. Finding a seat at the bar, she ordered a dirty martini. Reflected in the mirror behind the bar was the image of a retro-looking poster. Sliding off her barstool, she casually walked up to the poster for a better look. She snapped a photo and returned to the bar.

More people were coming in now – an intriguing and diverse patchwork of ethnicity, race and sexual orientation. Emma found it all so exciting and very New York! When the bartender brought her drink, she commented on how electric yet relaxing the atmosphere was and asked “Can you tell me something about that poster?”

“Sure! It’s a beauty, isn’t it?” he replied. “The Vortex is an edgy and somewhat somber play written by the literary giant, Noël Coward. It premiered in London in 1924 garnering Coward great critical and financial success. It’s a story about a nymphomaniac socialite and her cocaine-addicted son. Many thought the drug was a cover for homosexuality. As you can imagine, it was considered pretty shocking back then. Rumor has it that Princess Margaret owned the original poster for a while. She was a free spirit and loved a good lampoon, especially those directed at the upper classes and British aristocracy.”

“Wow! You certainly know a lot about that poster! It’s all very fascinating!” Emma exclaimed. “Something tells me there’s more to the story.”

“Oh, there is” the barkeep agreed. “During the run of “The Vortex”, Noël Coward met an American director and producer named Jack Wilson. They ran with the same crowd where drugs, booze and same-sex relationships were prevalent. Wilson became Coward’s business manager and lover. We thought ‘The Vortex’ was a cool name for the bar. My mother recently brought that poster to me; it looks great there, doesn’t it?”

“It does! Sounds like you might have a personal connection to this story” Emma suggested.

“Yeah, in a circuitous way I do. My great-great-grandmother was once a chorus girl and she got on famously with Jack Wilson – so much so that she and her husband named their first baby Jack Wilson Morrow and asked Jack to be the baby’s godfather. The tradition continued through the years; lots of my relatives were named Jack Wilson so-and-so. In fact, my name is Jack Wilson Connors.”

“Pleased to meet you, Jack Wilson Connors” Emma laughed as she extended her hand. “I’m Emma Peterson Kennedy and you have officially blown my mind with that great story!”

“I like you, Emma Peterson Kennedy! Always nice making new friends. How about another drink – on the house?”

Emma blushed a little and said “Yes, I’d love one.” 

While Jack was preparing Emma’s drink, all sorts of thoughts were running through her head … ‘He’s cute, friendly, great personality and no wedding ring. It’s been far too long since I went out with a really nice guy who didn’t have a lot of excess personal baggage. He likes me, he seems interested. I wonder – should I? What have I got to lose?’

“For my lovely new friend, Emma. One perfect dirty martini” Jack said with a flourish. “I hope I get to see a lot more of you.” His engaging smile revealed two incredibly delightful dimples that melted Emma’s heart on the spot.

Trying to sound nonchalant, Emma said “You know, Jack, it says here on the poster that there’s a performance of “The Vortex” tomorrow night. If you’re not working, how about we make it a date?” 

“I’d really love to see the play with you, Emma” Jack said “but my husband and I already have plans for tomorrow night.”

“Husband!? Oh my God, Jack! I’m so sorry! This is so embarrassing. I didn’t realize………”

“That I’m gay? No worries, Emma. It runs in the family.”

NAR © 2023

I have a brand new post for you today
At The Movies in The Rhythm Section.
Why not stop by a take a took?

Way Of The Warrior – Courage

An incredible post by my friend Spira.
It’s not necessary to have read his previous
posts to feel the depth of this one but that
would definitely be your loss.


Chapter V of Way Of The Warrior.

 (previous chapters can be found at the dedicated page of the blog, here)

{Written in Six Sentence form.}

View original post 372 more words


It was a beautiful Saturday morning when my son Tom called.

“Dad, Allie’s gone into early labor! We need you to stay with Molly.” He sounded excited and nervous.

I’m on my way!” I immediately answered.

As soon as I arrived Tom and Allie left for the hospital.

Grampy, can we go to the school fair?” Molly asked. “Daddy was gonna take me today.”

Sure, pumpkin. Let’s go!” I replied – anything to help pass the time.

The playground of Molly’s school, St. Cecilia’s Elementary for Girls, had been magically transformed into a carnival with food stands, games of chance and a giant inflated pirate ship.

Look, Grampy! A bouncy ship!” Molly tugged at my sleeve. “Can I go on, please?”

“You bet, honey! Looks like fun!” I gave my granddaughter a boost. I was half in and half out when the ship started bouncing, taking me for a ride I’ll not soon forget!

Well, a bouncy anything is no place for a 60-year-old man and 20 little girls. They were rolling all over me and every time the damn thing came to a stop, I tried getting out but kept losing my balance.

Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, the pirate ship was surrounded by police. One cop with a megaphone shouted “Sir, this ride is for children only. You’re in serious trouble. Come out now or we’ll come in and drag you out!”

I finally managed to crawl my way out. My clothes were in total disarray, little girls were crying and I heard someone yell “You sick bastard!”

Arr! I made the news that night. My fifteen minutes of fame!

NAR © 2023

I have a new post up today
at the Rhythm Section for
In The Groove.
Why not stop by and
check it out?


“Come, I want you to see something” my mother beckoned.

She showed me two graduation portraits, one of me, and one of my twin sister.

Pointing to my portrait, she said “That’s my beautiful daughter, Nancy.”

 She looked at my sister’s portrait, cocked her head and declared “I have no idea who that is”.

Blissfully unaware, no longer cognizant. 

NAR © 2023

Written for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt #306


Two young brothers were on their way home from the bake shop with sweets they purchased for Easter. Taking a shortcut through the woods, they greedily ate their delicious treats.

To their surprise as they rounded a bend, they came upon a gnarled old tree branch blocking their way. Because the path was exceedingly narrow and the brothers were exceptionally chubby, they knew they would not be able to walk around the branch.

They decided to toss it into the murky pond below.

The brothers wiped their sticky faces with pudgy fingers and licked the crumbs off their hands, then wiped them on their shirts. Just as they reached out for the branch, it growled angrily at them.

“Get your fat, gooey hands off me!

The boys were too pudgy to jump back and only teetered like Humpty Dumpty. “Who are you? What do you want?” they asked the branch.

I am Groot. I was once part of the oak tree in your yard until you uncaringly jumped on me. Your hefty weight caused me to break away and here I lay, forgotten.”

The boys were indifferent. “We were having fun and you are only a branch.”

Without warning Groot’s arms began to grow. They wrapped themselves around the boy’s ankles and flung them into the pond. The brothers sank to the bottom, never to be seen again.”

Groot smiled. The couple who mindlessly used him to hang their heavy swing was approaching.

“Come to me”, he thought.

NAR © 2023

Written for the April 7, 2023 edition of The Unicorn ChallengeJenne Gray and has thrown down the gauntlet and I have accepted the challenge.


DAY 1 – Today, as I walked the hills, God spoke to me. We’ve had many talks before but today was different.  There was a certain unhappiness in his voice and he didn’t say much. Later, right in the middle of dinner, I heard God calling: “Noah? NOAH!” Oh, for Christ’s sake! Always when I’m eating! I got up and went to our usual spot. God said that he was going to start a torrential rain that would flood the earth, essentially killing everyone. Then he told me to wait for instructions. OMG! This is heavy duty. I totally lost my appetite.

DAY 15 – Two weeks later God called again and said he wanted me to build a boat … actually, he called it an ark and it had to be a certain number of cubits (Note to self: Google cubits). After it’s built I can bring only my wife Na’amah, our sons and their wives. In truth I did ask if I could leave the women behind but God just laughed and laughed. He said there was a method to his madness and I’d thank him later. Now, here’s where it gets really m’shuge: God told me I had to bring two of every animal, male and female, and enough food to feed every living thing for forty days and forty nights. I don’t think even He knows what a monumental undertaking this is.

DAY 18 – Tonight I told the family what we had to do and they looked at me like I was from Mars. I said “I know, I know! Enough with the looks already! As nuts as it sounds, that’s what He wants so that’s what He’s gonna get.” My sons began helping me build the ark while the women baked plenty of unleavened bread, cured meat and picked legumes, vegetables and fruit. 

DAY 318 – Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we finished the ark. You should have seen the crowd we attracted! I guess these people have nothing else to do all day except watch us work and crack jokes. “Just wait; you’ll see” was all I could say. So now came the major task of collecting the animals from their holding bins and loading them all onto the ark. Just as we got the last of the animals on board, the skies opened up and it started to pour. Rain like I’ve never seen before came down in sheets. The water rose quickly and we pulled up the plank, making sure everything was totally secure. We could hear the people outside; they weren’t laughing at us now. We felt the support beams fall away and the ark was afloat. Soon we were far enough away and all was quiet except for the sound of the rain. It was not easy and the women were very upset but I knew I was doing God’s will.

DAY 358 – Let me tell you, these last 40 days were no pleasure cruise; I don’t remember ever being locked up with four women and no means of escape. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. Today we opened the hatch and discovered the rain had stopped. We released one of the doves; after a while it returned with a branch and we knew the waters had started to recede. Things looked promising; we even saw a rainbow. Then out of nowhere my wife says “Noah. There’s a problem. Nobody noticed we forgot the unicorns.” Well, I sure had a good laugh over that one. “You believe that fairytale??” I guffawed. “Next thing you’re gonna tell me is someone’s gonna write a book of biblical proportions about us. Maybe they’ll even make a movie. Na’amah, you crack me up!” 

NAR © 2023

Please join me today
At The Movies
in The Rhythm Section.

world music – e

Deb’s got something fabulous
and exotic going on today.
Check it out!

The Rhythm Section

Welcome to World Music – a musical journey around the world. The object of this segment is to showcase artists from around the world, and in particular the musical styles synonymous with each country. Last week we went to wonderful Denmark, but I suspect you might need your sunglasses for E.


Music has been an integral part of Egyptian culture since antiquity in Egypt. Egyptian music had a significant impact on the development of ancient Greek music, and via the Greeks it was important to early European music well into the Middle Ages. Due to the thousands of years long dominance of Egypt over its neighbors, Egyptian culture, including music and musical instruments, was very influential in the surrounding regions; for instance, the instruments claimed in the Bible to have been played by the ancient Hebrews are all Egyptian instruments as established by Egyptian archaeology. Egyptian modern music is…

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“Did I look at them?! Are you kidding me? Of course I looked at them! They’re phenomenal!! I thought my eyes were gonna bug outta my head!” my brother Paul jokingly remarked to his twin Patrick. I obviously walked in on them in the middle of a private conversation – probably about girls or sports – two subjects constantly on their 15 year old minds. They quickly shuffled the books and papers on Dad’s desk into one big pile, their faces turning red.

“What are you doing here, Penny? Aren’t you supposed to be at math club?” Patrick asked nervously. 

“Yes but today’s session was cancelled because our math teacher had a meeting. But what I’m doing here isn’t nearly as interesting as what you’re doing here in Dad’s study.” 

Paul and Patrick both started talking at once, turning even brighter red and getting more nervous every second while fiddling with the mound of papers on the desk. “Who, us?” asked Paul. “Nothing much – just the usual. We were talking about some of our favorite ball players … you know like A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken, Roger Clemens.” 

“Yeah, that’s right” agreed Patrick. “We were looking at our baseball cards and magazines and comparing stats. No big deal.” 

“Oh, is that so?” I challenged. “Then explain to me why you sounded so excited if it was ‘no big deal’ and why you’re here in Dad’s study using his desk – which you know is off limits – when all your baseball cards, magazines and what have you are upstairs in your bedroom?” 

My brothers started squirming as I continued. 

“I know you boys and I’m sure you’re up to something. Where are all your cards? Where are all your magazines? I don’t see anything baseball related at all. So you see by this simple matter of deduction, your lame answers are wrong and my reasoning is right!” 

The boys looked at each other, quickly gathered their piles of papers and books and began running to the stairs and the safety of their bedroom. In their haste to get away from me, everything they were holding slipped from their arms and fell to the floor. 

And there it was – the thing they were so desperately trying to hide – a copy of Playboy with Farrah Fawcett in all her glory on the cover. 

I gasped in righteous indignation. “I’ve never been more ashamed of you two! That’s a filthy sex magazine! Do you know what she is??” 

Paul sighed deeply and whispered “She’s a goddess.”

“Yeah, a goddess” repeated Patrick breathlessly. 

“She is not a goddess!” I yelled. “She’s a Hollywood bimbo, a floozy … at least that’s what Mom says.”

“I don’t think Dad would agree with that” replied Paul. “After all, it’s his magazine. He’s got quite a collection!” 

Dad’s?!?” My hands flew to my face in shock and all my books fell to the floor. 

“Well, what have we here?” quipped Patrick. “Playgirl magazine, Penny? I’m appalled!” Paul pretended to faint. 

“Oh, you two think you’re real funny. I bet you won’t be laughing when I tell you it’s Mom’s magazine!” 

Mom’s?!?” the boys shouted in unison. “But she’s … Mom!!” 

“Looks like we’re at a standoff, wouldn’t you agree, boys?” I said conspiratorially “Let’s put both these magazines back in the desk where we found them.” 

“And no one will be the wiser” agreed Paul. 

Just then we heard a loud AHEM” and spun around to find our parents behind us

Dad was angry. “Well, it’s obvious you little snoops can’t be trusted. You were caught red-handed and now you’re going to have to pay the price. I’m very disappointed in the three of you. You’re all grounded for two weeks.” 

On my way upstairs to my room I heard my parents laughing and Mom teasingly saying “Could you imagine if they found our stash of VHS tapes? Good thing I keep them well hidden!”

“Oh, you are so right! Come here, my little vixen” Dad replied in a voice that sounded strangely like Ricardo Montalbán.

Ew! Gag me with a spoon! 

NAR © 2023

Don’t forget to join me today
as we get In The Groove
at The Rhythm Section.


She’s not a bad girl, not really.

True, she’s defiant. Unruly.

Aren’t they all at that age?

Pushing the corners of
their little envelopes simply because
girls just want to have fun.

No, she’s not a bad girl.

Mischievous, naughty, uncontrollable.

But look at that adorable face.

How can anyone stay mad?

She’s not a bad girl.

Unrepentant and willful
but for heaven’s sake;

It was only a plant!

NAR © 2023


It had only been two weeks since Diane moved into her house in Sag Harbor and she was already questioning her decision. The house once belonged to her grandparents and she’d visited often as a little girl. Diane didn’t remember the neighborhood being so quiet back then.

The area was beautiful with its charming architecture but she saw no one except for an occasional jogger or dog walker. She hadn’t realized just how far off the beaten path her grandparent’s house was.

Now here she was, a recently divorced thirty-something with nothing but time on her hands. The cottage was lovely but she wondered how many hours she could spend in the pool. No, she needed to find something to occupy her time. She needed a job.

Diane poured herself a cup of coffee and set up her laptop on the little table in her backyard. She was about to scan the job listings when she was distracted by noises next door. Looking up she saw a man leaning a ladder against her neighbor’s house.

“They must be having work done” Diane thought and went back to her laptop. Another noise caught her attention and she saw the same man preparing his tools. She also couldn’t help noticing he was rather handsome and well-built. When he removed his shirt in the hot afternoon, Diane decided she was being a bit hasty about looking for a job.

She would be quite content here in her yard enjoying the view.

NAR © 2023

Written for the March 31, 2023 edition of The Unicorn Challenge. Jenne Gray and  C. E. Ayr have thrown down the gauntlet and I have accepted their challenge. Let the quest begin!


I’m sorry, ma’am, there’s no one registered here by that name.” The young man behind the desk looked at me with a mixture of embarrassment and pity.

“You must be mistaken” I replied quietly. 

“There’s no mistake, ma’am. Perhaps you have the wrong hotel” the clerk suggested, trying to give me a way out. 

Well, of course I didn’t have the wrong hotel! Frank and I had been meeting at the Pierre the second weekend of every month for three years. I checked my phone for any texts or missed calls; there were none. Rather than stay in the lobby looking distraught and abandoned, I walked into the lounge and ordered a martini. I sipped my drink and waited for Frank.

After thirty minutes and two martinis I began feeling paranoid. It was painfully obvious, at least to me, that everyone who saw me sitting by the bar thought I was either an elegant call girl just past her prime or a now lonesome and tedious woman who had been stood up. 

I became aware of someone approaching. Expecting to see Frank, I looked up, smiling; it was the concierge. Whispering discreetly, he handed me a note. It read: “Dearest Christine. I have treasured our little trysts but now we must go our separate ways. Farewell. Frank” 

Our little trysts!” I was shattered. 

Just like that, as suddenly as it began it was over. Looking straight ahead, I gracefully walked out of the hotel. After buying a bag of roasted nuts from a vendor on the corner, I walked over to Central Park. I sat on a bench feeding the pigeons, thinking of everything and nothing.  

NAR © 2023


It was the middle of February, probably one of the coldest days of the year, but that didn’t bother me. I liked the cold; people just assumed my persistent runny nose and watery eyes were from the harsh weather when in reality the cause was yet another hit of cocaine – my constant companion, my best friend and my most insidious opponent.

I was waiting outside the NY Public Library in Manhattan for my guy to show up with that lovely little glassine envelope of blow. He was running late, as usual, and I was freezing my ass off, so I decided to wait in the lobby. At least it was a little warmer.

Just a few feet from the entrance sat a bench where I took up residence. I was starting to get agitated, my fingernails tap-tapping on the wooden slats. It had been several hours since my last snort – an eternity for an addict – and I couldn’t still my scattered mind. A disapproving prune-faced woman sitting on a bench opposite me kept looking from my fingers to my face, clearly annoyed. Self-consciously I put my hands in my pockets, immediately coming in contact with my little amber bottle with the attached spoon – what a clever design that was, although I must admit the one with the little golden spoon neatly built into the inside bottom of the lid was pure genius. You know the one I’m talking about. OK – this was a nice surprise! I’d completely forgotten about it when I changed jackets the other day; I always keep my stash in my backpack.

Elated, I wrapped my fingers around the bottle, delighting in the feel of the all-too-familiar smooth surface. I could just walk to the corner of the lobby and pretend to blow my nose while actually taking a hit. I’ve done it a hundred times. One quick glance at the bottle and I cursed; it was empty. Hoping against hope, I decided to check my backpack just in case I’d hidden a spare bottle.

I reached down to retrieve my backpack from under the bench when I caught a glimpse of a bright pink book, obviously forgotten or misplaced by a library patron. Being a curious sort, I reached over to check it out and my heart stopped; in bold black print was the title of the book – QUITTING COCAINE: YOUR PERSONAL RECOVERY PLAN. That book and I stared at each other for a full minute. Was this some kind of joke, a sign of divine intervention or just a crazy coincidence? Well, I’m not the type who believes in coincidences; everything in our lives happens for a reason, whether we like it or not.

My leg was bouncing up and down like a jackhammer – something that always happened when I needed a hit – so I put my backpack on my lap, crossed my legs and snuck a peek at the book. The first line was a blistering slap across the face: “Keep shoving coke up your nose and you’ll be dead by this time next year.” No “probably” or “there’s a chance”; just a flat-out death sentence, literally. I read the first chapter in five minutes; still no sign of my guy so I continued reading. Forty-five minutes later I’d read the whole book and still no delivery. But I realized my leg had stopped bouncing; when did that happen?

Slipping the book into my backpack, I noticed the author’s name on the back cover: Dr. Arnold M. Washton, an internationally recognized psychologist and author specializing in substance abuse treatment. A little further down was a picture of the good doctor, an email address, phone number and the location of his office. Holy shit! This was definitely no coincidence. His office was about a three-minute walk from where I sat at the library.

For the first time in my pathetic and broken life I felt like I had a purpose. I left the library and walked straight to Dr. Washton’s office. I had no idea if the place was even open but I knew I had to take the chance. When I arrived I hesitated for a second, then rang the bell. Immediately there was a buzz and the door unlocked. As I entered I heard a man’s voice call out “In here” and I walked into a dimly lit office. It was a very calming room with the smell of leather and black cherry pipe tobacco.

Dr. Washton sat in a large over-stuffed chair next to a blazing fireplace reading a book. He took the pipe from his mouth and looked up at me; his eyes were warm and kind.

“I need help” was all I said.

“Then you’ve come to the right place” was his response.

And I knew I had.

NAR © 2023

Don’t forget to check me out today At The Movies.
I have another great video for you!


Despite great wealth and prominence, nothing could save Andre Deloitte’s wife Claudine.

The year was 1910. Andre, Claudine and their ten-year-old son Henri lived on Breakneck Lane in the exclusive Garden Heights section of New Orleans, Louisiana. Their majestic manor, “Mon Rêve”, was Claudine’s dream home but she detested the foreboding name of the street. Andre reassured Claudine she was just being silly and superstitious and the family happily settled into their home. The popular couple hosted extravagant parties and entertained the rich and famous from all parts of the world.

Andre owned the illustrious Deloitte Jewelers. His clientele was elite – oil tycoons, judges, entertainers, governors and successful entrepreneurs such as Miss Lulu White, “Queen of the Demi Monde” and madam of the elegant bordello Mahogany Hall in Storyville, the infamous red-light district of New Orleans.

It was during one of their lavish soirees when the Deloitte’s dreamworld turned into a nightmare. Claudine was making her usual grand entrance down the marble staircase when the heel of her shoe became entangled in the hem of her gown. She fell, landing at the foot of the stairs like a mangled doll, her lovely neck snapping like a twig; she died instantly. Claudine’s apprehension towards Breakneck Lane wasn’t so silly after all.

Andre was devastated by Claudine’s death and threw himself into his work. Henri was left in the care of the household staff and a kindly au pair named Josephine. The boy missed his mother very much but thrived under the tutelage of his caregivers. As he grew into his teen years it became obvious to Josephine that Henri needed his father’s guidance more than ever. Andre decided the best course of action was to bring Henri into the family business.

Henri enjoyed being in the shop with his father and soon became quite knowledgeable about gems and precious metals, even demonstrating a flair for designing jewelry. Andre told Henri he had a highly regarded client located across town who was interested in buying several one-of-a-kind pieces. Andre urged his son to accompany him to his patron’s residence where they would display Henri’s unique creations. The client was Madam Lulu White.

Mahogany Hall was home to “women of the night”. Girls lounged on sofas, their unfastened robes revealing supple naked bodies. Others wore filmy shawls with intriguing thigh-high striped stockings and high heels. Henri blushed when he realized a few of the girls were eyeing the bulge in his pants – something that bewildered yet excited the inexperienced teen.

Henri spoke to his father about the allure of Mahogany Hall and his desire to return. Andre realized there was no stopping Henri and smiled knowingly as he drank his cup of Bowdoin Chicory Coffee. “Just don’t fall in love, son” was Andre’s advice.

Fascinated by everything about Mahogany Hall, Henri returned the next day. As he walked around the estate he became aware of soft music and followed the sound to a small parlor. There, at a spindle leg table in the middle of the room sat the most alluring creature imaginable. She sipped a glass of Raleigh Rye, her lacy manteau barely covering her breasts. There was a hint of a smile on her face and her eyes fluttered in a dream-like state. Sensing Henri’s presence, she looked up and smiled. Placing her glass on the table, she slowly removed the pins from her hair. Her eyes danced seductively as waves of chestnut hair cascaded around her shoulders. Mesmerized, Henri could not control his burgeoning erection. He smiled back.

Enchanté. I am Henri Deloitte.”

The girl replied “I know who you are. I hoped you would ask for me. I am Isabelle Broussard.”

Despite his father’s warning, sixteen-year-old Henri fell hopelessly in love.

For the next year Henri was a frequent visitor at Mahogany Hall. He made his wishes clear to Madam Lulu that Isabelle was to see no other men; he was happy to pay dearly for the luxury of having her exclusively to himself.

In November of 1917 the government abruptly shut down Storyville and Mahogany Hall was forced to close its doors. Henri searched frantically for Isabelle but Madam Lulu and all the girls were gone. Despondent, Henri joined the army, fighting overseas in World War I. The young lovers never saw each other again. The birth of Evan Deloitte the following May was Isabelle’s most treasured memory of her blissful love affair with Henri.

NB: This story is fiction; however, Madam Lulu White and Mahogany Hall were very real as was the government shut down of Storyville in 1917.

NAR © 2023

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