Friday Fictioneers – Heavy Fuel

(Author’s note: I am hoping, very soon, to be able to do longer stories like did a couple years ago. Biggest problem: Exhaustion after work. The job I do is mind-numbing. I come home, and I fall asleep. Doubly so on days when I exercise. So, here’s to hoping things work soon. In the meantime, here’s today’s fictioneers.)

coffee-table-prior

© Yvette Prior

Heavy Fuel

by Miles H. Rost

“Dad, you’re only 51. You’re gonna die if you keep doing that.”

My cousin was berating her dad. He just finished scarfing down a triple monster cheeseburger, 2 hand pies, and a thick chocolate shake, all while lighting up an unfiltered cigarette.

He paused, and looked her straight in the eye.

“Lindsey, what do I do for a living?”
“You work at the mine.”
“And what do I mine for?”
“Vermiculite.”
“What’s another name for vermiculite?”
“Asbestos”
“And what does asbestos do?”
“Gives you lung cancer.”
“Exactly.”

He sat back, and gave her a smile.

“Enjoy every minute of this life, Sherry.”

wpimg

 

 

Advertisements

Friday Fictioneers – Hold Your Head Up

(No message today, but may have some things in the cooker for the weekend. 20 year class reunion this weekend. Enjoy the fictioneers today!)

sandra-crook-stacks

© Sandra Crook

Hold Your Head Up

by Miles H. Rost

Chuck beamed with pride.

He finally finished. It took months, but he did it with his own hands. He ran inside, and smiled at his dad.

“Dad! Come take a look!”
“What is it, Chuck?”
“Come with me!”

His dad walked out to the greenhouse and looked. Seeing Chuck’s creation, he smiled.

“See Chuck, I knew you could do it.”
“I know, Dad. But it’s real now! And you can put things in it.”

His 17 year old son created something useful. Down Syndrome didn’t stop him. His dad smiled, knowing his son was going to create beautiful, workable things.

wpimg

Friday Fictioneers – Cruel Summer

(No note. Just right.)

dawn-in-montreal

© Dale Rogerson

Cruel Summer

by Miles H. Rost

“It’s way too hot.”

Midori looked up at the hazy afternoon sky, the big yellow disk broiling the city of Aomori.

The worst summer on record, and Midori couldn’t go out to enjoy it.

“The pool, the arcade, the beach. All my places, and I can’t go.”

She stared up as the sun slowly meandered across the blue carpet, until she heard a knock.

Her dad walked in.

“Honey, wanna go to the pool?”

Midori’s eyes opened wide.

“You bet!”

As she moved her wheelchair, she grabbed her swimsuit from the bed. The pool was fun, even with no legs.

wpimg

Friday Fictioneers – My Father In Me

(Author’s note: Sorry for the lateness, folks. But this is what happens when you start working at 6A-2:30P shift. You don’t get to stay up and be #1 on the list. That’s okay, though. Y’all still get me anyways. Enjoy today’s fictioneers, while I get back to finding a new place to live.)

russell-working

© Connie Gayer

 

by Miles H. Rost

“Once we get these raspberries up on wires…” I started to say.

“…we get to working on moving the lemon verbena out of the corner. It’s annoying,” Dad replied.

“I just thought that. I really don’t like that shrub. But that leaves room for the quince, right?”

“There’s no quince over there.”

“But the leaves popping up over there are clearly quince.”

“Really? Let’s go look…”

We walked over to the corner of the yard. Kneeling down, he took up the stem and leaves.

“Well, son, that is definitely a quince.”

“I know. I picked up on it from you.”

wpimg

 

Friday Fictioneers – Got A Hold On Me

(Author’s Note: Nothing new to report. Here’s a fictioneers story.)

gateway-jhardy

© J. Hardy Carroll

Got A Hold On Me

by Miles H. Rost

Harley Parkinson looked at his inheritance, an old structure of a building he once lived in.

“Harley! Came to look at the place?”
He saw her. His old friend, and caretaker of the residence, Carissa Blanks.

“You’ve taken care of the place.”
“Since you left a decade ago.”
“Well, you’ve always been a good friend of the family.”
“Though, I’ve always thought it would be better to be part of the family.”

Harley chuckled, as he looked up.

“Remember what we did in the attic?”
“Yep. Have proof of it.”
“Huh?”

A 10 year old girl peeked from behind her mom.

wpimg

Hunters Of The Night

Hunters of the Night
by Miles H. Rost

Feet pounding the pavement.

Quick pacing, left-right-left-right.

Fabric of short jean shorts riding up.

Two miles to liberation.

Melinda Charles swiveled her head around as she ran, keeping an eye out for anyone who may be trying to report or record her moves. She knew that her dad would be keeping tabs on her, and really didn’t want to see herself kept locked up in her house.

Locked up for love, she mused, Sounds like a great song title. 

The 17-year old knew that her legs could take her far, in distance and in life. She was a medal winning medium-distance runner in track and field, having endurance to carry her for miles. Yet her legs were also toned, exuding feminine strength and allowing her to receive offers to do leg modeling ads after graduation. Legs that could take her far also drove the guys at school wild.

Half a mile gone. Not too long now.

She paced herself as she ran, reaching back every so often to remove the wedge of her shorts from her bum. Beads of sweat were starting to form on her neck, soaking into her shirt with every pounding of her feet. Fenceposts marked out a 1-2 beat, a visual reminder of how rhythmic she was moving.

The afternoon sun shone upon her face, the glistening sweat making her face glow, and softening the shape of her nose and chin. To her, nature was working its magic to put its own makeup on her as she ran. She had some time to see if the effects would work, but hope was welling in her heart.

One mile down. One to go. 

She thought back to the day, over a year ago, when she met this young man. She started thinking about how wrong she was at first sight of him. He looked like the stereotypical nerd, head buried in his comic books, a 17-year-old with unruly brown hair and coke-bottle glasses. She didn’t realize that under that exterior lay a man with a heart of gold, and a passion for music.

She didn’t realize it until one blustery day in October.

She remembered that she forgot her hoodie at home, and couldn’t go back and get it without being late for school. With the temperatures plummeting by the minute, she shivered while walking on her way.

“Melissa!”

She turned around and saw him. She immediately started to groan, not wanting to interact with Mr. Coke-Bottle Glasses.

“What are you doing without a coat?” he asked her.

She turned to the side, cheeks flushed.”I forgot it at home. Didn’t think it was going to be this cold this quick.”

He reached into his backpack and pulled out a green hoodie.

“Here. You can use mine for today. It’s Jupiter Green.”

She looked at him, in disbelief.

“Why should I?”
“Because if you don’t, you’ll get sick. You get sick, we won’t have you ready for the upcoming basketball season.”
“What?”
“I don’t want you getting sick. It’d make me sad.”

She stared at him in disbelief, but grabbed the hoodie. Wrapping herself in it, she realized that she was quite cold.

“Thank you.”
“When you’re finished with it, you can give it back.”

She started to jog away from him and head towards school, her schoolbag striping her hands red from pressure.

He started to walk down the street, and for only a second, as he looked up from his shoes, he noticed Melissa looking back at him, before disappearing around a corner.

Half-mile left. Time to do a little diversionary work. 

Melissa took a sharp left across the street, running into the woods and down a path that seemed to have little foot traffic. Hearing a short screech behind her, she smirked as she picked up the speed. The diversion was going to make it a little longer to make it to her destination, but it would keep her father’s guard off her back until she arrived there.

The woods opened up into a grassy field, where she followed a lesser worn trail that followed the wood line. She remembered the April day when things changed for her.

Early April, and the first of three track meets at her school had come around. When track athletes heard the name Melissa Charles, they knew that there was trouble coming. Getting ready for the 4-by-800 relay, she started to prep herself. The day was still cool, and she wore the dark green hoodie that she had received many months back.

“Hey, Makoto!”

She looked around, the voice familiar in her mind. She looked and saw him again, this time waving. She smiled, as she walked over to the fence separating the fans in the stands from the athletes.

“Well, hey there, stranger. What’s with the Makoto thing?”

He smiled, his eyes crinkling at the sides.

“You’re tall, you’re wearing green, you got long legs and you have a fighter’s attitude. You’re basically Makoto Kino, Sailor Jupiter.”
“That’s a first. Do you always charm your friends with comparisons to anime characters?”
“Only people I have respect for. Besides, the word’s out. You’ll likely hear it a lot more.”
“You didn’t…”
“I didn’t. Brian Parker did. And I don’t even like him.”

She laughed out loud, a hearty laugh that got the attention of one of her teammates.

“I guess that means I should probably start looking the part, right?”

She pulled back her hoodie. Her average brown hair now had auburn tints to it, and was put up in a high ponytail with a greenish-ball hair band.

He had taken a sip of soda, when it suddenly spat out to the side. His eyes bugged out.

“You….whoa. What prompted this?”
“You, silly!” she giggled, as she started to jog in place.
As he was about to open his mouth, the call for 4 x 800 relay runners came over the loudspeakers. He smiled at her, as he walked over to a small group of classmates.

The first runners took their mark at the line, and with a shot, they took off. Melissa, as the anchor runner, stood off to the side as her classmates watched. Two runners from another high school tied for the lead after the first two exchanges. As the third runners took off from their lines, Melissa put herself into her lane. Her sweet spot was lane #3, and today was her day. She waited, as her teammate pulled past the second place runner, though she was lengths behind the first place runner. As the first place runner got the baton, Melissa’s teammate gave her the sign to start moving.

The baton hit her hands, and Melissa was off with a shot.

One-two-one-two-one-two-ma-ko-to-ma-ko-to

The mantra in her head suddenly switched, and she listened closely. The sound of her new nickname resounded through the stands when she took the first corner. A faint smile peaked on her face, as she increased her strides.

“Ma-ko! Ma-ko! Ma-ko!” said the boy, smiling as Brian Parker and others started chanting.

Taking the third and final corner, she was within touching distance of the first place runner. Taking inspiration from the character whose name she was adopting, she put lightning in gear and increased her speed in the last sprint to the finish. Pounding, pounding, her feet pounded like kettle drums in time with the chants.

One second, she pulled up to the side of her opponent.

The next second, she stretched her legs and chest further.

The last second, the starter pistol went off in the air. The entire Charter Oaks High School spectator section went up in cheers!

Melissa “Makoto” Charles had won the race by a half a foot.

She looked over to the stands as she slowed, and saw the boy, her friend, smiling at her.

500 feet. Just need to hit that last stride. 

She weaved her way around trees, making sure that she kept her opposition in her peripheral sight if she could. Looking straight, she could barely make out a flat wooden fence in the distance.

“If you could only see me, honey,” she muttered, as she dodged trees to make it closer. She got closer, knowing she was less than 100 feet from freedom.

80 feet, she swiveled her head around and saw nothing.

60 feet, she saw his shape rushing towards the fence.

30 feet, she was getting herself ready to jump onto and over the fence. She saw him stop suddenly right at the edge of the fence.

She felt a painful prick right below the back of her knee and stumbled to the ground. Within a few seconds, her leg started to go numb. She felt someone jump onto leaves and land near her head. As she looked backwards, she saw three men running towards her. She was sat up, and her head turned towards her beau, who was looking at her without his trademark coke-bottle glasses.

“I’ll help you in. Those guys won’t do anything.”

The men approached, and yelled at the two young people.

“You! Boy! Get your hands off her!”

It was her father, the man who tried to rule her life with an iron fist.

She looked up at her boy, and slowly dragged herself to the fence. She pulled herself up, standing on one leg. She looked at him, eyes focused and steely. .

“Get back over the fence.”
“I can handle him.”
“My fight. Let me do it.”

Melissa’s father growled as he continued to walk towards her. Her beau returned to his property, while she faced her father.

“You’re coming with me young la-”

Before he could finish, she fired a taser at him. As he rode the lightning, she glared down at him.

“I. Am. Not.”

He whined and growled as the electricity stopped. His nerves on fire, he laid there for a time. His men stood near him, but stayed back from the scene.

“Dad, I’ve had enough.”

He took a sharp breath as she spoke.

“You have been restricting everything I’ve been doing. The one time I get something I want, you try to take it away. You got me kicked off the track team because you didn’t want me hanging around with him. You monitored my cell phone, because you wanted to know if I was with him.”
“I only…wanted to keep…you safe…”
“From what, Dad? Someone whose dad you put into a locker during high school? Someone who has very little to do with his life?!”

Her dad grimaced, as he slowly sat up.

“I got the story from him, Dad. I found out why you had him followed. You were afraid that he was going to use me to get to you in revenge. But with everything you did to try to protect me, you forgot one piece of information: He hasn’t talked with his dad for 10 years.”
“That’s…a lie…”
“NO! When he says dad, he means his stepdad. If you weren’t so shallow minded, Dad, you would have actually known this.”
“That’s…”
“Shut it. Just…stop, Dad. When he told me about all of it, he asked me if I was with him because of revenge. I told him the truth, that it was because he was a nice guy, even if I had it ingrained in me that girls like me could never be with a nerd.”
“You little…”
“I told you to shut up, Admiral!” she screamed, pointing at him. “You do not get to talk until I am done!”
She slowly lifted her legs and tried to slowly scale the wooden fence.
“Dad, you showed me how to fight for what’s mine. And that’s what I’m doing right now. He loves me, and showed me that he loved me that first day with the hoodie, the green hoodie that you absolutely hated.”

She lifted herself again, sitting on the top of the fence with her long legs dangling down.

“The hate that you had for him and me became the love that we have. He’s my nerd, I’m his Makoto. If anyone is responsible for that, it’s you. ”

Her father spat on the ground, as he started to stand. The pain was evident and obvious on his face. The man with him and another man walked over and lifted him to his feet. Slinging his arms over their shoulders, they held him up to look at her.

“Daddy, I love you. You need to give me time, but I will be back.”
“And yet, you run…”
“No. I’m 18 tomorrow. I have made a decision to not be with you. I will come back to you, a woman and someone who can give you the respect you deserve, in time. But you have to earn the respect of a father. You don’t have it because of what you’ve been doing.”

Her father just glared at her, as she flipped her legs over the top of the fence. She looked back at him.

“Dad, he and I are hunters. We’ve been searching for each other and found…us. Now let me live, and let us live.”

Her father just stared, as they turned to walk him out of the woods.

Melissa looked at her father, as he walked away, and slowly lowered herself off the fence and into the waiting arms of her man.

“You really are like Jupiter, Melissa.”
“Because I stood up and fought?”
“Because you took charge and won the day.”

The young man looked out at his property, and smiled.

Melissa turned his head and gave him a tender kiss. After a few seconds, their lips parted. He moved to carry her, until he heard the “uhn-uh”.

“Nope. I’m walking off this Novocaine. You’re gonna just have to wait for me.”
“Can I at least help you walk up to the house?”
“You can lean on me,” she smirked
“Lean on you?”

They laughed, as they hobbled their way up to his house.

 

Reflections (aka How I Survived…)

Reflections
(How I Survived…)
by Miles H. Rost

(Author’s note: This is a fictional account based on stories relayed to the author by a third party.)

PFC Rocky Andersen was not a happy camper.

He was laying on the ground, grumbling in pain as he waited for help to arrive. The stocky marine had problems with his legs in recent days, and having to climb telephone poles at his base was not a good thing for him to do. Camp Pendleton was the Marines’ West Coast base, and it was also known for being remote in some parts. This meant that help may not arrive for a half an hour or so.

At the medical truck approached his position, his gunny, Gunnery Sergeant Charles “Brick” Brigman, leaped out.

“Andersen! What in the blue hell happened to you?”

“I was climbing the telephone poles, Gunny Brick, and I got blindsided by a bird,” he said, crisp yet with a strip of pain.

“Well, what are you laying there for?! Get up and walk!”

“Gunny, I can’t move.”

Hospital Corpsman Roger Baltrick had run over from the main truck and took a look at the PFC’s splayed legs. After a cursory exam, he looked up at Gunny Brick

“I can tell already that his right leg is broken in two places. We’ll have to look at his left leg back at the infirmary, but I have a feeling we may have a double break.”

Gunny Brick furrowed his brow.

“Well, this is just fan-freaking-tastic, isn’t it?! Andersen, you may have just lucked out. Your platoon is being called to Vietnam! They’re outta here in 2 weeks, and I hope to see you on that flight out.”

Rocky just grimaced, as the threat from the imposing Gunny reverberated through his head.

Two weeks after he arrived back at the base hospital, Rocky looked out the window of the room, his leg still elevated and bound in casts and slings. He looked down at the field, where he saw his fellow platoon mates lining up to head to the airfield at El Toro to fly out.

Over the previous two weeks, various platoon mates with the nicknames of “Grunt”, “Pickle”, “Big Zeb”, and “Sticky” all came by to say their goodbyes and swap stories of what’s been going on. Even on that last day, Gunny Brick even came in to say goodbye, though no one would call it a “goodbye”, formally.

“Andersen! You better get out of those casts and get on the next flight once you do!” he said, looking down with a slight smile on his face.

“Gunny, where are you guys heading for?”

“Our next orders are apparently going to be Khe Sanh. Seems like more of our boys are there right now.”

“Thank you, sir. Drop me a postcard once you arrive.”

Gunny Brick smiled at Andersen, shaking his head as he left.

“Don’t get thrown in the brig while I’m gone, Donut. I don’t want to have to come back to bail you out again.”

Andersen laughed, being reminded of the many times he was thrown in the brig for being UA or being stuck on “weird duty” at Treasure Island.

—-

The middle of February was unusually cool for California. It wasn’t normal for the temperatures to be any lower than the 60s, but it got into the high 40s at night during this period.

Rocky was finally out of his casts, but he was on restricted duty until his legs healed permanently. That means five more weeks of therapy and processing papers, along with such fun jobs as helping in the mess tent or assisting in other tasks. His gunny sergeant for this end, GySgt. Mike Layton, was less abrasive but more of a rules-man. He appreciated Rocky’s work, though wouldn’t always say so.

Rocky was finishing the stamping of important base requisition forms, when Gunny Layton walked in. Rocky saluted.

“Andersen, as you were.”

‘Yes, Gunny.”

“Andersen, I received some news this morning from Cam Ranh. It’s about your platoon.”

“Gunny, sir?”

“Your platoon landed at Khe Sahn. As they were deplaning, they were hit by mortar fire and  snipers. Gunny Brick and about half of your platoon didn’t make it to the terminal.”

Andersen’s blood ran cold.

“What’s left of your platoon is being merged with another in Khe Sanh. You and 5 others who are still here will be assigned to a new platoon.”

“I…understand, sir.”

“Andersen, you can be real with this. You don’t have to hold it in. Ya lost some of your friends, and so have I.”

Andersen used his crutches to move himself a few feet back to his desk, and sighed.

“I was supposed to go, Gunny.”

“Yeah, I know. But, Andersen, you have to realize that things happen for a reason. Gunnery Sergeant Brigman and the others had to go over there. Apparently, someone else had plans for you.”

Rocky blinked, as he sat looking straight at his superior.

“When are they arriving?”

“Within a couple weeks. They will be brought to Oakland from Da Nang, then either families will pick them up there, or we’ll bring them back here for the families to identify and receive. I would like you, if you can, to accompany the ones who will be brought back to Pendleton.”

Rocky sat for just a moment before giving a salute and a “yes, sir.”

“You’re relieved of duty for today. Head on back to the barracks, and you can do what you usually do. Consider this time to grieve.  Be back at this post tomorrow at 0800.”

After a salute, Gunny Layton turned his heels and departed.

Rocky lifted himself on his crutches, and hobbled out the door. The 15 minutes it took him to cover the length from the main base office to his barracks, he though about all of his buddies who were over there…and those who were gone.

He barely made it back to the barracks. Seeing no one around, he collapsed on his bunk. His tears, for part of that evening, were his only companions. And while he felt like he should have gone over with his boys, he yet realized that for him, he was given a gift that many in his platoon did not receive: The gift of being able to live to an older age.

This gift would be borne out in 3 children, who he was able to see grow up and become their own people. He would never forget the contributions of his platoon, as it was his children who were the result of that sacrifice.

(This is your birthday gift, Dad. Semper Fi, and I love you.)