99 Word Prompt: Comet

August 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

YOU SHOULD’VE LISTENED TO ME!

“I see a dark omen ahead for you,” the sorceress warned.

“Well that’s a bummer,” the man said nonchalantly.

“Heed my words!” the sorceress reiterated. “When a comet appears that is aligned with one of the planets, it will spell your doom!”

“How does a comet align with a planet?” the man said dismissively. “That doesn’t even make sense.”

“Doubt me at your own peril!”

“Planets move in orbits, comets go in a straight line,” the man explained condescendingly. “Crazy old bat,” the man chuckled and left.

He crossed the street and was struck by an old Mercury Comet.

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99 Word Prompt: Peering

August 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

SAD CAT DIARY: WILDLIFE EDITION

The mountain lion came up to the forest’s edge drawn by the scent of food.  She peered from the woods at a flock of livestock in a nearby pasture.

One of those sheep could feed me and my little ones for a week, the mountain lion thought as she longed for the forbidden sustenance, but if I take one, the humans will come after me and kill me!  I only want one, the lion moped, and they have so many, it isn’t fair.

The dejected feline slouched in defeat.  Why must the humans be so cruel? she wondered piteously.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I imagine it’s quite easy to spot the mistake in the above picture, taken on the Sunday afternoon of July 22, 2018 across the street from my building. But in addition to blatantly parking right next to a fire hydrant, this vehicle had neither a parking a sticker nor a day pass hanging from the rear view mirror. Because it’s next to a major tourist attraction, this is a permit parking neighborhood, and there are signs up and down the street announcing that (including one on the sign post in this picture).

Now I know what an ordeal it is to search for a parking space as you remain stuck in your overheated vehicle crawling form one block to the next, but is it really worth the $58 ticket? And that doesn’t include the extra fine for parking right next to a fire hydrant. Does the owner of this Ford have deep pockets, or were they just desperate to escape from vehicle hell and considered the fines a small price to pay for freedom? Or maybe one of the passengers had to use the john real bad.

Ultimately Santa Cruz just isn’t big enough to handle its volume of summer tourist traffic, and its geography between the ocean and the mountains places limits on how much it can expand. But it’s tourist money that helps keep the local economy going, so there’s always going to be a need for tourists. Now if they could just get here without their cars. There used to be a direct train route that connected Santa Cruz to San Jose, it was called the Suntan Special, and ran from about 1880 to 1940. High time it was brought back, but that’s another story for a later post.

20180722_154340 And as you can see, the owner of this vehicle was properly ticketed. I wonder how much was added to the local coffers?

Hope you enjoyed this rare non-fiction post written in my first person voice that allows me to communicate directly to you, the reader, I know I did. Next post will be a return to fiction and my opaque third person voice.

©2018 Robert Kirkendall

99 Word Prompt: Buttons

July 5: Flash Fiction Challenge

BIG AND SHINY

Now listen here, swine!” Claude bellowed with inflated self importance. “Now that I’ve put in charge of this department things are going to be different! There will be order!”

The employees looked at him blankly.

First rule, my cubicle is off limits! Nobody enters my territory! Nobody messes with my stuff! You will respect my authority!”

The employees rushed Claude, tackled him, knocked down all his cubicle walls, overturned his desk, scattered his paperwork, and threw his laptop out the window.

If you don’t anyone to push your buttons,” an employee reminded, “don’t make them so big and shiny.”

99 Word Prompt: Not All Is Lost

June 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

 

YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE

 

A city person pulled into a rural service station.  “Excuse me, sir, do you know the way to Davenport?”

“Davenport?” the rustic attendant answered.  “Don’t reckon I do.”

“How about Greenfield?”

The attendant pondered.  “Nope, don’t know the way there either.”

“Well can you tell me the way to the nearest Interstate?”

“I suppose if you keep driving down this highway you’ll run into one, but I don’t rightly know exactly where.”

The driver became frustrated.  “I must say, you don’t seem to know your way around here.”

The attendant chuckled.  “Yeah, but I’m not the one who’s lost.”

All In The Island – A 10 Minute Play

A Gilligan’s Island spoof in which the roles of the Skipper and Gilligan are reimaged as played by Carol O’Connor (he read for the part of the Skipper) and Rob Reiner. The rest of the castaways should appear as portrayed by their original actors. Gilligan’s Island debuted on CBS on September 26, 1964, about a month and a half after the Gulf of Tonkin incident that escalated the Vietnam War, and the premise here is that the SS Minnow was supposed to be a part of the operation but was surreptitiously steered off course by Gilligan because he is opposed to escalation.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

SKIPPER (ARCHIE BUNKER)

GILLIGAN (MIKE STIVIC)

MARY ANN

GINGER

MR. HOWELL

MRS. HOWELL

PROFESSOR

Scene: An uncharted island in the South Pacific

Time: Day, August 1964

(MARY ANN and GINGER are sitting on a log talking while sewing a net.)

GINGER

I sure hope Gilligan and the Skipper can get the Minnow fixed. I’d sure hate to be stranded on this primitive island.

MARY ANN

I’m sure they will, Ginger. The Skipper is very capable and experienced.

GINGER

And Gilligan?

MARY ANN

His incompetency keeps everyone amused.

(Holds up net)

What do you think of the repair I did?

GINGER

Oh, that’s very good, Mary Ann! I wish I knew how to sew like that.

MARY ANN

It’s not that hard. Let me show you.

(Demonstrates)

See? Nothing too it.

GINGER

Oh, I see. I never had a chance to learn how to sew. If one of my costumes had a rip during one of my shows, our costumer would sew it up.

MARY ANN

Wow, that sounds convenient.

GINGER

Yes, it was. I wanted to bring him along on this trip, but his husband doesn’t want him traveling overseas.

MARY ANN

Wait a minute, his husband? That’s not legal.

GINGER

But why not? If two people love each other, they should be able to marry no what their gender is.

MARY ANN

This is 1964, remember?

GINGER

Oh, the dark ages.

(SKIPPER and GILLIGAN enter. They are both upset.)

SKIPPER

Gilligan, you meathead! We’re supposed to be in Tonkin right now, not this island of cannibals!

GILLIGAN

We have no right to be in Southeast Asia! Our foreign policy is firing at everything that moves!

MARY ANN

What’s wrong, guys?

SKIPPER

This dumb Polack sabotaged us!

MARY ANN

Oh no, Gilligan! How could you?

GILLIGAN

I didn’t sabotage anything! I merely diverted our course to this island to avoid any danger.

GINGER

But what if no one rescues us?

SKIPPER

Yeah, genius! Did you think of that?

GILLIGAN

We’ll be fine! We just hit a reef a little too hard, that’s all. We’ll fix it. And I’m sure the natives here

are very friendly people who’ll be more than willing to help us.

SKIPPER

Oh my god! Are you serious?

GILLIGAN

I am. And I’ll bet they’re not at all like those stereotypes you believe in.

SKIPPER

I’ve had enough of your commie peacenick talk! We work for Uncle Sam, not Ho Chi Minh!

GILLIGAN

And why do you assume this island is populated with cannibals? Because they’re different from us, and therefore must be uncivilized?

SKIPPER

Oh yeah? I bet you wouldn’t want one living next to you!

GILLIGAN

It wouldn’t bother me one bit to have a Pacific Islander as a neighbor.

SKIPPER

What, you’d live next to an Oriental? Would you live next door to a colored as well?

GILLIGAN

(Proudly)

I’d live next door to anyone. We are all equals.

SKIPPER

Meathead, of all the stupid things you’ve said, that’s the stupidest one yet!

(Rest of castaways enter.)

MR. HOWELL

What’s all this fighting about?

MRS. HOWELL

Yes, you boys are making such a terrible racket.

SKIPPER

This pinko steered us off course!

GILLIGAN

We’ll fix it! Now enough with the anger.

MR. HOWELL

Well please hurry because we need to get back out onto sea and get to Tonkin as fast as we can. My friends at Bell Helicopter are counting on us.

MRS. HOWELL

And Lockheed, and Raytheon, and Northrup Grumman.

MR. HOWELL

Yes, lovey, I was just getting to that.

GILLIGAN

Don’t you see? We’re fighting for corporations!

SKIPPER

Corporations made America!

GILLIGAN

That is so narrow and misinformed! Isn’t there more to America than just taking wealth from other nations?

MARY ANN

Gilligan, I think you’ve been reading too much I.F. Stone.

MRS. HOWELL

Yes, Gilligan, you really should avoid those dreadful radicals.

MR. HOWELL

Bomb throwers they are!

GINGER

And I’m not taking anything, Gilligan. If anything, I’m giving of myself.

(The Castaways give words of agreement and support.)

PROFESSOR

So you see, Gilligan, there’s more to this mission than just corporate profitability. For instance, I’m doing experiments with a new chemical compound I’ve developed for Dow Chemicals.

MRS. HOWELL

That’s right. And how is the new defoliant coming along, Professor?

PROFESSOR

So far amazingly well. I predict a bright future for Agent Orange.

MRS. POWELL

That’s just wonderful. Isn’t it, dear?

MR. POWELL

Yes, we’ll destroy the jungles of Vietnam in no time. I’ll bet they surrender within the year!

GILLIGAN

So that’s our strategy? Defoliating their entire country?

MARY ANN

Oh it’s harmless, we use the same stuff on the farms back in Iowa. And except for the occasional birth defect or serial killer we haven’t had any problems.

GINGER

But will this operation only last a year? I’ve been working hard on my USO act and was so looking forward to performing for our boys.

PROFESSOR

Well perhaps our involvement will be more than a year, maybe it’ll be two years.

GINGER

Just as long as I get to entertain our boys.

SKIPPER

Don’t you worry, Ginger. We’ll get you to your show, just as soon as we fix the Minnow. We just had a little problem thanks to Gilligan’s meatheadedness!

GILLIGAN

Skipper, we have no business taking part in another country’s civil war!

SKIPPER

Haven’t you ever heard of the domino principle? If one country falls to Kremlin Joe and Chairman Mao they’re all going to fall.

GILLIGAN

But it is so much more complex than that! How can you reduce the complications of world politics and conflicting ideologies into a kid’s game?

PROFESSOR

So people can understand it. Otherwise the average American won’t be able to appreciate our Southeast Asia mission.

GILLIGAN

It’s that kind of dumbed down thinking that leads to war.

MARY ANN

But that’s how progress is made. When this skirmish is over we’ll have a new ally in the Cold War.

You have to look at the big picture, Gilligan.

GINGER

Yes, the Soviet Union will come crawling to us.

MARY ANN

That’s right. And once we win the Cold War that’ll be the end of world tensions once and for all.

PROFESSOR

So as you can see, Gilligan, we’re on a mission of peace.

GINGER

That’s right. In the future people will be appreciative how Vietnam brought peace to America.

GILLIGAN

But how do we know that the Pentagon isn’t lying to us?

MR. POWELL

That is absurd, my dear boy. Our government would never lie to the public.

MRS. POWELL

But they do keep some secrets, like classified military operations.

MR. POWELL

Well of course, lovey, but that’s not the same thing as giving out false information, something our government would never do.

GILLIGAN

Ha! And you call me naive!

SKIPPER

No, we call you meathead.

GILLIGAN

But why believe everything the government says?

MR. POWELL

Because we conservatives believe in maintaining our institutions, not overthrowing them.

MRS. POWELL

Oh, Gilligan, you really should come to your senses.

GILLIGAN

But I have! That’s what I’m saying.

PROFESSOR

So what makes you so skeptical about our mission, Gilligan?

GILLIGAN

Well, look at what happened to the French.

SKIPPER

Oh don’t get me started on those frogs!

GILLIGAN

But don’t you remember how they got bogged down over there? And they had colonized Indochina for almost a hundred years! We can’t let the same thing happen to us.

PROFESSOR

France was weakened by German occupation during World War II, so maintaining their colonies was becoming extraneous.

SKIPPER

And they did it all wrong because they were too busy swilling wine and being rude! Uncle Sam has to go in there and finish the job!

GILLIGAN

And how’s it going to be different for us? What if we get stuck in the same quagmire?

MR. HOWELL

Because we’re America, dear boy! And America doesn’t do quagmires.

MRS. HOWELL

Yes, quagmires are so tedious.

GILLIGAN

But nobody intends to get into a quagmire! They happen when you underestimate your situation and you end up getting bogged down by unforeseen obstacles.

GINGER

But Gilligan, must you be so defeatist?

MARY ANN

Yeah, Gilligan, you need to jump on the bandwagon and cheer America on for the big win!

GILLIGAN

I don’t trust sports analogies, they usually happen around a cover up.

PROFESSOR

But you need to have more faith in the government, Gilligan. They may get it wrong sometimes, but only by accident. They would never purposefully get us into an intractable situation.

(Everyone except GILLIGAN agrees.)

GILLIGAN

Okay, hear me out. Suppose, hypothetically, that our government is in collusion with certain business interests to make sure this military operation lasts longer than they’re saying.

(Everyone except GILLIGAN is disbelieving.)

MARY ANN

Now would they do that?

GILLIGAN

Because war is good for business.

SKIPPER

Now wait a minute, nobody said anything about a war! We’re providing support for a police action!

GILLIGAN

Yes, that’s how it starts, but then it’ll escalate, just like Korea!

SKIPPER

We handled that!

GILLIGAN

That ended with a cease fire, technically we’re still at war there.

PROFESSOR

Technically, yes, but do you really think little North Korea will ever pose a risk to us?

MARY ANN

Yeah, it’s not like they’re a nuclear power.

GILLIGAN

But still, that kind of heavy handedness creates pockets of oppression, frustration, and discontent, and then people lash out.

SKIPPER

Then an air strike is called. Case closed.

GILLIGAN

But I thought we weren’t at war! Clearly an air strike is an act of military aggression.

SKIPPER

An air strike doesn’t mean a war, it’s about protecting our men serving overseas!

GILLIGAN

Ah, and why are our men overseas if it’s not for military purposes?

PROFESSOR

It’s all part of the overall plan of world peace we’ve discussed.

SKIPPER

Yeah! Weren’t you listening?

GILLIGAN

(Facetiously)

Of course, peace through war! Makes perfect sense.

MARY ANN

Gilligan, you may not like our foreign policy, but as long as we’re all stuck on this island, you won’t have a chance to express your views.

MR. POWELL

And I won’t get a chance to build up my stock portfolio.

GINGER

And I won’t get a chance to perform for our boys.

MARY ANN

Yeah, Gilligan, you really need to repair the Minnow.

(Everyone tries to convince GILLIGAN until he relents.)

GILLIGAN

Okay, okay! You’ll all be happy to know that I’ve already got the bow fixed. So we can all get off this island and resume our dubious Southeast Asia mission.

(Everyone lets out cheers of satisfaction.)

MR. POWELL

At last! We can leave this island of primitives.

PROFESSOR

And I can get back to work on my death ray.

GINGER

And I can entertain our boys!

PROFESSOR

And what do you do, Mary Ann?

MARY ANN

(Puzzled)

You know, I’m not sure.

SKIPPER

Well I make sure you all get to your destinations, now let’s get going!

(Everyone exits toward the Minnow, except MRS. POWELL, who stops the SKIPPER to ask him a question.)

MRS. POWELL

Now Skipper, before we get going, I was wondering if you could help us load our trunk back onto the Minnow. I tried to talk Thurston into leaving it on the boat, but he insisted on bringing it on shore. He almost threw his back out! Poor thing. I keep telling him, lovey, you’re not on the college polo team anymore, but he doesn’t listen. Hardly ever does really, mother tried to warn me. But the trunk shouldn’t give you any trouble, certainly not a strapping sea captain such as yourself.

(During monologue, SKIPPER will pantomime suicide, one of Archie Bunker’s classic shticks when Edith talked too much.

MRS. POWELL

And I was also wondering if wouldn’t be too much trouble to make a stop over in Thailand? They make these lovely looking figurines, and I was hoping to pick some up as Christmas presents. Now I know Christmas is still months away, but they are such lovely figurines, and I really don’t know when Thurston and I will be in the South Pacific again. Did I ever tell you about the time we dined with King Rama? A gracious host, but oh so serious. A guest who had had too much to drink had made an off color remark that really upset the King. He was going to have the man publicly flogged, but fortunately for him the CIA station chief intervened and we are all spared the indignity of seeing poor Senator Kennedy whipped in front of all those peasants.

(The SKIPPER pantomimes tying a rope into a noose, then hanging himself dead while MRS. POWELL talks obliviously.)

HangingArchie

CURTAIN

©2018 Robert Kirkendall

99 Word Prompt: Fishy Story

April 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

“So I caught a fish this big,” said a fisherman, his hands slightly apart.

“Oh yeah? Well I caught one this big,” bragged another fisherman, his arms stretched out farther.

“That’s nothing,” another fisherman chimed in. “I caught one this big!” He strained his arms apart as far as they could stretch.

“Hey, guys!” announced Spiderman foe and public nuisance Dr. Octopus as he approached. “Wanna hear how big of a fish I caught?” he boasted, a proud smile underneath his coke bottle thick eyeglasses. He eagerly prepared to extend his four extra metallic arms to maximum length.

“No!”

99 Word Prompt: Sun Silly

April 5: Flash Fiction

Horace ran around the town square under the midday sun laughing and whooping while doing flips and cartwheels.

“Horace is acting rather strange,” a townsperson observed.

“He sure is,” another concurred.

“Must be because it’s spring,” a third interjected.  “He does act strange when the seasons change.”

“But this is out of control,” the first said.  “And look at that suggestive move he’s doing to one of the pillars in front of the courthouse!”

“Perhaps it’s time to kick Horace out of our respectable community,” the second townsperson suggested.

“Agreed,” the third agreed.  “He’s too weird for Santa Cruz.”

99 Word Prompt: Balloons

March 8: Flash Fiction Challenge

Timmy brought the balloon animal to his family.  “Look at what I got.”

“Why look at that balloon dog!” his mother said.  “How cute!”

“No,” father disagreed, “it’s a horse.”

“You’re both wrong,” grandma interrupted.  “It’s obviously a rhinoceros.”

“Let me look at that,” Uncle Wally requested as he took the balloon animal and inspected it.  “Just as I thought, a pelican.”

Aunt Sue grabbed the balloon animal and looked it over.  “No, it’s a lobster.”

“You’re all wrong,” Timmy said as he took it back.  “It’s just a bunch of balloons randomly tied together.  You people are weird.”

 

99 Word Prompt: The Edge

January 25: Flash Fiction Challenge

Terry looked over the screenplay he was cowriting and hoped that the alteration he made would be acceptable.  He went to the director.

“There’s something about the script I think should change,” Terry said.

“Which part?”

“The title.”

“The title?  What’s wrong with Edge of Doom?”

“Well, it’s a bit clichéd.”

“But it matches the theme perfectly!” the director asserted.

“True, but I was thinking of something a little more imaginative.”  Terry handed over the rewritten script.

The director looked at the title page.  “Seriously?” he laughed.  “Who’s going to want to watch a movie called Dr. Strangelove“?