July 30, 2010

Fibonacci Sequence

1. Thump.
1. Thump.
2. Thump-thump.
3. Her heartbeat
5. Goes ever faster.
8. She knows this is the man she loves.
13. She knows this is the man for whom she has been waiting.
21. She knows that from this day on, no one can tear them asunder, only death can part them.
34. Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump. Her heartbeat steadies as she gazes into her bridegroom's eyes, her forever lover and her always companion.

July 28, 2010

Change of Heart

"Help! Somebody help me!" Stella gasped for breath as she broke into a flat-out run down the sidewalk. She could hear feet pounding behind her, so steady that she never dared to look back at him. A cold line of sweat trickled down her face, blurring her vision, and making patterns on her brand new striped cotton blouse. She ran past Rosina's deli, past the Pergello's bakery, past the five-and-dime store. She ran as fast as any marathon runner could run, her kitten heels keeping up a jazz-like rhythm on the sidewalk.

She had been walking home from Tenth Street after meeting with one of her clients. It was later than usual, but she had grown up in the city and knew her way around. Plus, she had a small can of pepper spray on her keychain. Her mind had been on the meeting; things had gone exceptionally well, and she could sense an opportunity for promotion if all went as planned.

As she turned at the corner of Ninth and Broad, she sensed a presence behind her. Half turning her head to look, she saw the man reach out for her, and her heart rate just about doubled. Her feet flew into action as if they had minds of their own, taking her on autopilot down the streets of the city. Not for the first time did she wish for more streetlights and a busier nightlife. Finding help was going to be as difficult as finding a safe low-priced apartment in downtown Chicago. But still she tried, crying out with every breath she exhaled, praying with every one she took in.

And then the unthinkable happened; she was crossing the intersection with Mead Avenue and saw someone out of the corner of her eye. Without thinking, she turned onto Mead and headed straight for the man on the sidewalk.

"Help! Please! Help me!"

The man turned, and his eyes grew wide as he saw her. He sprang towards her, his hand reaching out to catch her. Stella stumbled into the brick wall next to him as she fell against his arm, scraping her forehead and smearing blood with sweat. He inadvertently pushed her further against the wall, deeply cutting his own hand in the process, as he put his other hand out to stop the pursuer.

"Freeport Police! Stop right there!"

The pursuer, a surprised expression on his face, stopped himself an inch from the officer's outstretched hand.

"Sir, you don't understand. This isn't what it looks like."

"I'll say what it does or doesn't look like. Now turn around and put your hands behind your back."

"But sir - "

"Do it!"

Stella stared hard at her pursuer. Was he - did she recognize him? As he turned she saw a familiar white scar along the base of his ear. She hesitated for a second then ventured a guess.

"Randy? Randy, is that you?"

The man named Randy twisted his neck around to look at her, and she knew.

"Randy! Hey, officer, it's okay. Let this man go. I know him. Randy, what in the world are you doing here? I thought - I thought you were dead!"

"Stella, honey, relax. I wasn't trying to hurt you at all. I just wanted to surprise you! I'm back in town, and I'm back for you. Everything over there is done, it's over. I promise. I'm yours."

Stella inhaled sharply and winced as her head began to throb. She had been holding out hope for months now that Randy would come back, but doubts had begun to creep in as weeks went by and she heard nothing from him. She looked at him with hope, a question in her eyes.

"I have the paperwork to prove it, Stella. I'm out for good. We can get married tomorrow, if you'd like."

The officer was still there, still waiting for an excuse to put Randy in handcuffs. Now he realized he recognized the man, the soldier who had been missing for almost thirteen months, the soldier he'd doubted would ever return. And now - the man was here, right here, standing in front of him. He wanted to give the couple a chance to reconnect, but not before he introduced himself as a new friend. He would start believing now, knowing that there was hope for every missing soldier, hope for families everywhere, that their loved ones would return someday.

July 27, 2010

Life-Changing Facebook Status

I stared hard at the screen.

“Enjoying Disney for the week,” it read. I could hardly believe my eyes: this was my lucky break! My sights had been set on 112 Ridgefield Avenue for about four months now. And now I finally had my chance.

Dollar signs danced in my eyes. This was it! I could finally get ahead of the game, finally make Renny proud of me (that’s my girlfriend) and prove to myself that I knew how to make things work.

I picked up the phone to dial Wes, my long-time buddy and typical partner-in-crime. Yeah, I know, bad pun. He really is my partner-in-crime. I was the one who found the opportunities, and he was the one who made them happen. The brains behind it all, I guess you could say. He’d been waiting for this day to come just like I had, and even had a plan all worked out already. I grinned as he answered the phone, imagining his response when I told him the news.

“Hey, Wes, old man. How’s it going?”

“Hey yourself, Steve. Wassup?”

“Well, man, I was just down at the library, on their computers, and you’ll never guess what I laid eyes on down there.”

“I’ll never guess, huh? Let’s see. You didn’t find a job for us, didjya?”

“We-e-e-ll . . .”

Wes kind of growled at me, and I finally gave in and told him what I’d seen.

“WHAT! The McFarley mansion? You’re not joking with me, are ya, Steve?”

“No sirree. Looks like they left today and  they’ll be outta town for a week. When you wanna get rich?”

I let him talk it out, figuring he knew what needed to get done before we did the job. We decided on Sunday morning, while people were out at church. That gave us two more days to get everything in place . . .

When Sunday finally came, I got up before the sun did. My hands were kind of tingly, but I just put it off as excitement that this day had finally come. Sure, we’d made a few bucks here and there, but this job would give us enough to hole up for a while and keep us off the radar. A thought flew through my mind that maybe it was setup, maybe they were on to us, but it pretty much went in one side of my head and out the other. I methodically got myself ready, paying attention to every little detail that had to be put together.

Little did I know that my premonition had been right. Four hours later, right in the middle of unhooking the McFarley’s brand new plasma television, we heard the sound we most dreaded.

“Newton Police. You’re surrounded. Come out with your hands up!”

July 26, 2010

New Holiday

Attention all citizens of Mayberry County: next Friday we will be celebrating National Letter Writing Day. We encourage all citizens to put away their electronic communication devices in favor of writing a few handwritten letters to friends and family. In addition, we will be holding a contest for the most letters written on that day. Guidelines are as follows.

1. Participants in the Letter Writing contest should arrive at City Hall by 8:30 AM on the day of the holiday. Bring your own supplies. Spare paper and pens will be provided when necessary, but everyone should have plenty of their own to start with.

2. Writing will commence promptly at 9 AM. Participants are allowed to bring water; light refreshments will be provided at hourly intervals. One hour will be dedicated for lunch, starting at noon, during which time no letters must be written. Also, all participants are to leave the premises during that hour. We will re-commence activities after lunch and continue until 4 PM.

3. To qualify, each participant must write original compositions of at least 400 words each, and each entry must be written on the premises during contest hours. As each entry is completed, it may be given to a nearby supervisor to be counted and entered under your name. While supervisors may look over the letters to ensure each work is original, the actual content will not be studied or posted anywhere for the public to read.

4. Judging will commence at 4 PM. The participant with the most handwritten, original letters will receive the grand prize of a year's subscription to Writer's Digest, an authentic Italian stationary set, and a $50 USPS gift card applicable toward postage. Three runners-up will be chosen; each will receive a pad of writing paper and a free book of postage stamps.

5. As a bonus for entering the Letter Writing contest, each participant will be allowed to mail their handwritten letters from the premises via free, prepaid postage.

July 25, 2010

A Day in the Life of an Ant

Green. That's what I see when I leave our home every day. Green. And more green. These tall things that wave back and forth and go way above my head. And they're all green. Well, not all of them. I saw one once that was yellow. It was really hard and didn't wave at all. And it kind of crackled too. But usually they're green.

Every once in a while, this giant alien comes by makes this really loud noise and some of the green stuff disappears. I swear, it has to be magic. The green things get really short all of sudden when the alien walks over them, and then I can almost see over them. One of my brothers – I only have forty-seven brothers, but one of my friends has a hundred and two! – anyway, he told me that when I grow up I’ll be able to see over the tops of the green things after the magic alien comes. I hope so. I want to see what’s out there.

Don’t get me wrong, I like our home. It’s really comfortable, and when it gets really hot outside, our home stays really cool. And then when it gets colder outside, sometimes we can’t even get out and we just stay inside and sleep mostly. But when it’s warm again, then we have to go out, and we have to find food and bring it all back so we can have food to eat when the cold comes back. We have to work really hard to find the food sometimes. And sometimes the aliens come and make our home all wet with this funny smelling stuff (Momma calls it poysun), and we have to dig deeper and get away from the wetness. One of my cousins was sleeping one time, and didn’t get away fast enough, and she never woke up after that. But I always run as fast as my six little legs will take me and I always get ahead of the wet stuff.

But the aliens aren’t always mean like that. Sometimes they come by and sit for a while, and when they go, they leave food for us. Momma says the best food comes from the aliens. The best food they leave is something called puhtayto chips. They’re really good and they last a really long time, so there’s always lots of them for when it’s cold outside. I actually just finished my second crumb for today. I wanted to have another piece but last time I did that my abdomen hurt really bad. So now I only have two crumbs a day.

Well I am supposed to go back outside now and look for food in the green things. It’s really hard to find sometimes, but maybe I’ll get lucky this time and the aliens will be there.

July 24, 2010

New Life in a New Town

I stared at the peeling paint on the generic white door of apartment #324, wondering how I had gotten to this point. My fingers fumbled as I pulled the key out of the pocket of my new black jeans. At least one good thing had come out of this arrangement: a new-to-me wardrobe. No more Momma telling me what I could or couldn't wear, no more church members looking down their noses at my low necklines and above-the-knee shorts. Nobody to judge me if I felt like wearing skull and crossbones or dark eye makeup. I sighed, realizing that I had to cross the threshold at some point. Might as well get it over with.

My cell phone rang as the door squeaked open. More like my tracking-anklet-in-a-pocket. It was my witsec inspector with a newsy update.

"Alex, how's it going? Have you gotten into your new digs yet?"

I feigned an excited affirmation for her sake and let her continue her monologue.

"Listen, I've been looking into a few job opportunities and want you to come by this afternoon to check out some places with me. Also, I found a place where you might be able to get a washer and dryer. It's at Sam's Appliance Store over on Jude Street. I can take you by there later if you'd like. Oh, and your utilities should be on by noon today. Let me know if there's any problems with that."

I mumbled a complaint under my breath as she finally hung up. Part of me wanted to keep her on the phone as long as possible, while I explored my new home, if it could be called that. Part of me wanted to toss the phone out the third-story window and have it land in the path of an oncoming trailer truck.

Then again, I could barely see out the window to know whether there was even a road out there. I rubbed the glass with the end of my shirt-sleeve, just enough to let a small circle of sunlight in. The frame looked like it was painted shut; maybe the inspector could be good for something after all.

A quick survey told me that the rest of the place was in just as good a shape as the window and the door. The kitchen looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since Nixon was in office. I wasn’t sure whether the fridge would even work once it got plugged in. The carpet looked like it had been through a dozen toddlers, two dozen pets, and a handful of teenagers. The faucet probably put out rusty water, and the smoke detector would probably go off whenever I used the oven.

It felt like a long day already, and it was only nine in the morning.