99 Word Prompt: Lighthouse

July 6: Flash Fiction Challenge

Wendy and Jack approached the old lighthouse with other tourists.

“I just love these old buildings!” Wendy gushed.  “Don’t you, dear?”

“They’re okay, I guess,” Jack replied.

“But it’s so grand looking!  They knew how to build things then.”

“It’s just an archaic brick building with no more use.  Modern ships rely on more advanced technology.”

“But it’s historical!” Wendy reminded.

“It’s useless,” Jack insisted.  “There is no more need for it.”

Just then the long, ugly sound of a ship crashing upon rocks and resulting screams filled the air.

“Okay,” Jack admitted, “maybe this lighthouse is still useful.”

Sketch For Community TV Mixer

This is a short video of a sketch I wrote and appeared in for Community Television of Santa Cruz.  The event was a social mixer that was held last Friday March 17.  The sketch is a humorous look at challenges that a CTV producer may face.  I hadn’t planned on appearing in sketch, but I couldn’t find an actor in time.  Looking at this I realize that I could definitely lose a few pounds.

Power Play

(This is the second installment of the Andrew chronicles; a hapless, comical figure trying to get through life. In the first installment, Diridon Station, Andrew runs into an old flame that he has a hard time remembering. In this story, we see Andrew at his workplace.)

Andrew left the break room after lunch feeling sated and slightly caffeinated then a hand grabbed him and pulled him into an empty office. He was face to face with three of his coworkers.

“Can we trust you?” Sterling demanded.

“Uh, what’s going on?” Andrew wondered.

“We ask the questions here!” Damien barked. “First you must swear not to betray us,”

“But what’s going on?” Andrew asked worriedly.

“I don’t think we can trust him,” Gwen said suspiciously.

“Dammit, you must swear!” Damien ordered. “You don’t want to piss off this one,” he warned as he pointed to Gwen.

“Okay, I swear,” Andy promised hoping to reduce the tension.

The three workers eyed Andrew intently. “I think we can trust him,” Sterling finally said.

“What’s happening?” Andrew finally managed to say.

“So how do you like working here?” Damien asked leadingly.

Andrew thought for a moment. “I can’t complain.”

“Hmmm,” Sterling pondered. “Interesting.”

“He doesn’t complain about anything,” Gwen mocked. “When we got a cake for him for his birthday, he took so long getting to the break room that we ended up eating the entire cake before he showed up. Remember?” she said to Andrew.

“Well, total strangers do walk up to me and tell me that I should lose a few pounds,” Andrew placated as he looked around his waist.

“That’s why we call him No Cake Andy,” Gwen continued.

“Oh,” Sterling said with enlightenedness. “I thought it was because of the hazing incident of ‘05.”

“Guys, I think we need to get back on track here,” Damien advised.

“Of course,” Sterling agreed. “Now to the business at hand.” He placed his hands on his hips.

We’ve decided to stage a coup,” he announced as he looked directly at Andrew.

“A coup?” Andrew puzzled. “Where?”

“Here!” Damien added. “Aren’t you sick and tired of slaving for Mr. Weatherby?”

“Well, he’s not that bad,” Andrew replied.

“He is a dangerous, out of control demagogue!” Sterling declared.

“A dictator drunk on his own power!” Damien yelled.

“A multi-headed hydra that must be slain!” Gwen rallied.

“Figuratively of course, right?” Andrew queried.

Gwen appeared amused by Andrew’s question. “Of course.”

“So what brought all this on?” Andrew asked sincerely.

“Increased hours!” Sterling began.

“Stagnant wages!” Damien followed.

“Oppressive and uninspired work environment!” Gwen completed.

“But don’t some of those things have to do with the current world economy and are out of the control of Mr. Weatherby?”

“Don’t those things have to do with world economy?” Gwen mimicked sarcastically. “He’s the one in charge, he’s the one that needs to be taken down!”

“Have you thought this through?” Andrew cautioned.

“Yes,” Sterling answered. “With strength in numbers we’ll confront him and he’ll have no choice but to give in to our demands!”

“Which are what?” Andrew wondered. “That he depart into exile like an overthrown junta?”

“That he let’s us sit in on the board meetings,” Sterling answered.

“Oh, I thought you would’ve had a bigger plan than that.”

“Dammit, you have to start somewhere!” Sterling vociferated.

“So here’s the plan,” Damian began conspiratorially. “We’ll all march in together, shoulder to shoulder!”

“That way Weatherby can’t get around us!” Gwen informed.

“Let me finish,” Damian demanded.

“Who died and made you king?” Gwen shot back.

“Let’s stay on point, guys,” Sterling counseled. “Now here’s the plan. We’ll all walk up together. I’ll start in on him with how we have to work too many hours. When I’m done, Damian,” he said to Damian, “you address how we’re all underpaid. And Gwen, finish him off! By expressing how ugly and uninspired the workplace is.”

“What about me?” Andrew wondered.

Sterling grabbed him by the shoulders. “You’re the point man.”


“Of course,” Gwen answered. “You’re shorter than us.”

“You’ll go in for the first attack,” Sterling continued.

“I can’t do that,” Andrew argued. “I don’t want any involvement in this!” He pulled away from Sterling’s grip.

“You’re already involved,” Damian reminded.

“In deep!” Gwen added.

“But this is all your idea!” Andrew protested. “You dragged me in here against my will then told me all about your plan without me asking to know about it!”

“Ha!” Sterling laughed as he placed his hand on Andrew’s shoulder in a fatherly way. “Well you know all about it now.”

“And if I say no?” Andrew queried.

“Then you’ll be going airborne ,” Damian warned menacingly as he nodded his head toward a window.

“We’re on the ground floor,” Andrew reminded.

“It’ll still hurt!” Damian shot back.

*                     *                     *                      *                     *                     *                     *

They all stood forebodingly in the cramped elevator as it rose up through the building. Everyone looked straight ahead without saying anything. Andrew watched the floor number display count upward as his apprehension grew.

“Everybody remember what they’re going to say?” Sterling pierced the silence.

“I make the demand for increased pay,” Damian said importantly.

“I point out what a junk heap this once proud company has become,” Gwen declared.

“Great! And I’ll address his autocratic ways,” Sterling asserted.

“What am I supposed to say?” Andrew asked.

“You provide the backup,” Sterling answered.

“Why me?”

“We need a regular person,” Damian elucidated.

Andrew was puzzled. “Aren’t we all equal as employees?”

They all chuckled.

“If it’s just us exceptional people,” Sterling said as he pointed to himself, Damian, and Gwen, “Weatherby will never buy it”

“That’s right,” Gwen agreed. “The three of us are known to be above the fray and able to see the big picture, and that scares Weatherby. But if we bring just a plain, regular employee, he’ll know we have a broad base of support.”

“And I’m just a typical worker?” Andrew pondered.

“So typical that you blend in anywhere,” Damian said.

“That is so true,” Gwen added. “Just a typical, nondescript, boring, bland employee, a person who isn’t remarkable in any way.”

“That’s right,” Sterling concurred. “People may say you’re dull as dishwater, but in this instance your dullness is an advantage.”

“Oh,” Andrew said with realization. “Well, glad I can help.”

The elevator dinged when it reached its floor, and the doors slid open.

“Let’s go,” Sterling ordered and they exited the elevator. Sterling, Damian, and Gwen walked purposefully through a corridor toward Weatherby’s outer office as Andrew kept up. Weatherby’s office grew larger and more daunting as they approached. An ominous looking secretary appeared on the right. She sat her desk like a sentry.

“Is Mr. Weatherby expecting you?” the secretary demanded as they came closer. She glared at them unpenetrably.

“No time to explain!” Sterling replied. “It’s too important for you!”

“Nobody gets past me without an appointment!” The secretary picked up a heavy glass ashtray and threw it at them like a Frisbee. Sterling, Damian, and Gwen dodged out of the way of the spinning object and it struck Andrew on the forehead. He staggered back as pain shot through his head.

“We’ve been hit!” Damian shouted.

“Aw, shit!” the secretary shrieked. “Is that No Cake Andy?”

“Damn right!” Sterling said gleefully, “and his uncle is a high powered lawyer!”

“And we are witnesses!” Gwen chimed in.

Andrew held his head in pain but remained upright. “I think I’ll be okay.”

“We can’t take any chances!” Sterling declared. “You better get a first aid kit stat if you want to save this company from a lawsuit, or worse!”

“You’ll be going to the big house for assault and battery!” Gwen warned.

“You’ll be living Orange Is the New Black!” Damian added.

“Fine, I’ll look for the first aid kit.” The secretary ran off.

They waited until the secretary was out of sight. “Let’s go,” Sterling uttered. They walked up to the door leading to Weatherby’s office. Andrew was still shaking off the pain as he stood behind them.

“Wait,” Damian cautioned, “our point man.”

“That’s right,” Sterling agreed. He grabbed Andrew and placed him in front. “How’s your head?”

“Still hurting, but getting better,” Andrew answered.

“Here, have a Vicodin,” Damian offered. “I always carry these.”

“I don’t think I need a…”

“Take it,” Gwen ordered as she took the pill from Damian and stuck it into Andrew’s mouth. Andrew resisted then ended up swallowing the pill.

A second Vicodin appeared in Damian’s hand. “How about another just in case?”

“Better safe than sorry,” Gwen said as she took second pill and stuck into Andrew’s mouth. It slid down his throat and he started to feel numb.

“Now everybody remember what we’re going to say?” Sterling asked.

“Money,” Damian said.

“Work environment,” Gwen said.

“And I address the dictatorial nature of this workplace,” Sterling said.

“What am I doing here?” Andrew asked as he started to feel woozy.

“Backup and moral support,” Damian reminded.

“You’re everyman, remember?” Gwen reminded further.

“But…how do I?” Andrew’s mind started to become foggy.

“No time to answer that,” Sterling said as he pushed the door open. The spacious office was wood paneled and foreboding. The half open vertical Levolor blinds let in just enough light to show Weatherby’s face in half light and half darkness, like a heavy in a film noir. Andrew felt a shove push him forward into the lair.

“What the hell do you want?” Weatherby glowered.

“Uh, well sir.” Andrew looked behind him, and Sterling told him to say something. His impaired mind struggled to remember something to say. “I am here,” he finally began, “because I was enlisted to express grievances that some employees may have.”

“Are you the ringleader?” Weatherby accused.

“No, sir, I’m a…” Andrew struggled, and looked behind him again for an answer.

“I bet you are!” Weatherby reiterated.

“A concerned worker!” Sterling suddenly blurted and stepped in front of Andrew. “You see, Andrew here typifies the average worker who feel, how shall I say, oppressed.”

“Oppressed?” Weatherby said with shock. “This isn’t a banana republic!”

“Of course not, sir,” Sterling relented. “We live in a democratic state.”

“This isn’t a democracy!” Weatherby continued. “The only people who get a vote are the board

of directors! The rest of you are plebes who are damn lucky to have a job!”

“Of course, sir,” Damian agreed as he stepped in front of Andrew and next to Sterling. “It’s just

that lots of people are struggling, and a modest increase in pay would be very helpful. Andrew here

would like to visit his aunt in the old country, but he can’t afford to because he just makes enough to pay for his rent and bare sustenance.” Andrew tried to remember if he had an aunt somewhere in another country. “He still eats Top Ramen, it’s sad.”

“Well there’s nothing I’d like more than to give all you bums a raise,” Weatherby began as he stood up and emerged from behind his large oak desk, “But there are factors that have to do with the world economy, and are totally out of my hands! Did you ever consider that?”

“Yes, sir, that’s a good point,” Gwen agreed.

“Of course it is, I came up with it!” Weatherby proclaimed. “And what’s your beef?”

“Oh, I was just thinking about improving the overall work environment,” Gwen replied. “You know, a new coat of paint, maybe some artwork, things that would inspire the employees.”

“Artwork?” Weatherby blasted. “This isn’t a gallery!”

“No, sir, it isn’t,” Gwen concurred.

“And if you want inspiration think about your next paycheck!” Weatherby took note of Andrew’s intoxicated appearance. “What’s your problem?”

“He had a splitting headache so he took some pain pills,” Sterling jumped in.

“An agitator and a hophead,” Weatherby said accusingly. “I should’ve known!”

“He only does it out of medical necessity, sir,” Damian reassured. “We didn’t know he had taken too many.”

Andrew swayed as he tried to remain upright.

“I’ll make it simple,” Weatherby condescended, “No raises, no interior decorating, and no

democratic reforms. Now you four idiots get back to work before I fire your asses!”

*                     *                     *                    *                     *                     *                    *

Sterling, Damian, and Gwen silently exited the elevator at the ground floor as Andrew staggered along behind them. They stopped at their maze of cubicles and hesitated before entering.

“We tried,” Sterling finally said.

“Maybe we needed a better plan,” Damian suggested.

“We should’ve got more people involved,” Gwen said.

“Well, these things take time,” Andrew struggled to get out from his still narcosis fogged mind. “The fight for workplace equality is a long one, in which people had to overcome a lot of defeats to achieve their victories. And the struggle continues to this day.” Andrew was impressed that he was able to say all that despite his temporary impairment.

“If you don’t mind, Andy, we’d like to discuss this without you,” Sterling requested.

“But don’t you need more people?” Andrew asked feeling suddenly puzzled.

“Yes, but we just can’t trust you anymore,” Sterling answered.

“I have to agree with Sterling,” Damian said.

“Yeah,” Gwen agreed, “it was a mistake to take you in.”

“How come?”

“Because,” Sterling began, “you’re an agitator.”

“And a druggie,” Damian reminded.

©2017 Robert Kirkendall

Current Affairs: A Fake Interview Show

(Inspired by the peculiar election season of 2016)


LIONEL TROWBRIDGE – The interviewer

TANYA BICKFORD – The interviewee

Scene: An interview studio


Good evening, and welcome to Current Affairs. I am your host, Lionel Trowbridge.  Tonight we’ll be discussing the entertaining, if not controversial, congressional campaign of Arnie Fowler with his most recent spokesperson Tanya Bickford. Thank you for joining us, Tanya.


Thank you for having me, Lionel.


So you are the the newest spokesperson.  How long have you been in the inner circle the Fowler campaign?


Hmm, let’s see.  (THINKS) Since this morning.


And what happened to the previous spokesperson?


Well the police and the FBI are still looking for him.  Hopefully they’ll catch him before he flees the country. Who would think that a former Wall Street lobbyist would turn out to be an embezzler. Sure had us fooled.


Yes, quite. So, Arnie Fowler.  Last week he accused his opponent, incumbent Sylvia Brown, of being not only a sympathizer of ISIS, but a doner of money and time to the cause.  He even claimed that Brown runs an ISIS training camp on her palatial estate.  Now after a through search by our staff, we determined that all these claims were beyond false.  In fact, the palatial estate Fowler claimed to be owned by brown is actually a two bedroom townhouse next to a busy freeway.  How do you explain Fowler’s apparently false claims?


Well, Mr. Fowler didn’t actually claim these things, he was merely speculating in the spirit of debate.


But debate requires two opposing sides.


Well, yes, that’s the standard, mainstream way of debating, but Mr. Fowler likes to push the envelope of what are considered the accepted definitions of reality.


I see.  Now let’s move on to another of Fowler’s statements. He referred to appellate court judge Margaret Tanaka as a “disgrace to the bench and women everywhere,” a “stupid broad,” and “proof that only men were capable of being judges.”  He then followed these statements with a series of stereotypical karate motions and sounds in an apparent swipe at Judge Tanaka’s heritage.  How do you explain such behavior?


What Mr. Fowler said was taken completely out of context by a media that is obsessed with political correctness and doesn’t really care what the average middle American is thinking.  And Judge Tanaka did rule against Mr. Fowler and his business associates planned project to revitalize the city.


Was that the project that was going to demolish an old folks home so they could build a golf course?


Yes, that one.


Back to your previous comment, are you suggesting that middle Americans are thinking the same things and feel the same way as Arnie Fowler?


I’m just saying you can’t know until you stir things up, and Mr. Fowler has been drawing sizable crowds. Why at our last rally a bunch of supporters all showed up in white.  They were even wearing these white hoods.  Very supportive, and so many of them.


Now that brings me to another point.  At many of Fowler’s speeches, there have been verbal and physical assaults against peaceful protesters, a number of which were egged on by Fowler.  And at one rally Fowler handed out cattle prods and autographed ax handles to his supporters. Are you at all reticent about working on a campaign that seems to endorse violence?


Mr. Fowler is a man of the people, and he likes to keep that relationship close.  He doesn’t need the filter of handlers and political insiders who are so called experts on campaigning.  All these high priced consultants claim that all they’re doing is trying to save their candidate from embarrassing and campaign killing situations. Mr. Fowler isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind at all times no matter the consequences.  Some even say that Mr. Fowler is beyond embarrassment.


Hmm.  Another recurring theme in the criticism of Arnie Fowler is his consistent ignorance of history and today’s news events, as well as his constant disinformation.  Care to comment?


Glad to, Lionel. People are sick and tired of being told what to do by snobby, overly educated elites.  Just because they’ve studied and learned more than most people doesn’t make them experts.  People want a candidate they can identify with, who’s just like them, humble and god-fearing, not some intimidating brainiac who knows how to read.


(PAUSE) Are you saying that Mr. Fowler doesn’t know how to read?


He does know the alphabet. He just still has trouble with words longer than two letters.  But you know what?  People like an underdog.  They don’t want a candidate who claims they can solve every single problem, they want a candidate who’s willing to admit his shortcomings. That’s what makes Mr. Fowler so relatable.


Actually Fowler has claimed to be perfect and mistake free on many occasions, and he regularly ridicules people for their mistakes and flaws.  And his recent embrace of Christianity seems to go against past comments in which Fowler referred to church goers as (LOOKS AT NOTES), “dumb sheep who’ll believe anything.”


Ah, but Mr. Fowler was merely being sarcastic when he was saying those things.  Certainly the people know the difference between truth and sarcasm.


Interesting. Any final comments on the campaign of Arnie Fowler and why people should vote for him? 


Yes. People are tired of the same old same old.  They want a fresh perspective with a new agenda that isn’t beholden to special interests like the human rights agitators and union bosses and intellectual elites. A vote for Arnie Fowler is a vote for political honesty and against political correctness.  Mr. Fowler is candidate who always speaks his mind without concern of how those words words will affect others.  You see, deep down Mr. Fowler has the innocence of a child, and like a child there is a purity to his demands. That’s what matters to his supporters, and that’s why people should vote for Arnie Fowler.


Well thank you for joining us, Tanya.  (TO AUDIENCE)  And thank you for watching another edition of Current Affairs. We have been speaking with Tanya Bickford, the newest campaign manager for congressional candidate Arnie Fowler.  I’m your host, Lionel Trowbridge. Good night.

©2016 Robert Kirkendall


Tales From The Studio

A friend from college who’s been making industrial films for 25 years allowed me to guest post on his blog Tales From The Set, a behind the scenes look at his film making.  My post is about the making of my live TV show Pacific Television Theater and is called Tales From The Studio.  In this post I talk about finding rehearsal space.  I did take some liberties with the narrative to make the post more interesting, but the underlying truth is the same.

A big thanks to Sean Frame from Frame X Frame Productions for letting me post on his blog.


Your Place Or Mine? – A 10 Minute Play


SHEILA, a woman of about 30

GEORGE, a man of about 30

UNCLE LEO, a man of about 50

AMY, a girl of 10

BRIAN, a man in his early to mid 20’s

Scene: The front room of Sheila’s house

Time: Contemporary

(The front room of Sheila’s residential house. Upstage is the front door at one corner, and a hallway leading to the rest of the house at the other. A couch is downstage facing the audience. It is night and the room is dark. The front door is unlocked, opened, and Sheila and George enter.)


Here we are!


(Kisses Sheila)

Nice place.


You haven’t even looked at it.


(Looks around)

Place looks beautiful, now let’s go see the bedroom, heh heh.


Oh you! I just want you to have a look around so you know me a little better. After all, we’ve only just met.


Uh oh, are there some skeletons in your closet that are going to surprise me?


Of course not, I just like to make a good first impression.


I like everything so far.


Same here.

(They kiss some more)

Why don’t we get more comfortable.

(They go to the couch and try to sit down, but stand right back up.)


Hey! What the?


(Turns on lamp)

Uncle Leo?

(Uncle Leo, who was laying on the couch, sits up.)


Oh, hi, Sheila. I didn’t here you kids come in.


Well what are you doing here?


Bad news, dear, I was foreclosed upon.


(Sits on couch)

Oh no, that’s terrible!


(Less interested)

Yeah, that’s too bad.


Just my luck, I bought at the wrong time.


I am so sorry. I heard you were underwater and having trouble with the payments, but I didn’t know you were about to lose your home.


Your mom said I could use the guest room until I get back on my feet, I just fell asleep out here.

(Gets up off couch)

Anyways, I’ll get off to bed and leave you two alone.


Yeah, nice meeting you.


Now wait a minute, how come you didn’t short sell?


(Sits back down)

Well, ever I since my back injury I missed out on a lot of work, so I went through my savings, and insurance didn’t cover everything, so all these medical bills piled up, then I was a little late on the mortgage. Next thing I know the bank was foreclosing.


How many payments did you miss?





They foreclosed after one missed payment?


Yeah, I should have read the fine print.


(As Sheila is speaking, George becomes increasingly annoyed)

Well you should go see a lawyer, because you know what, Uncle Leo? A lot of those foreclosures are illegal. Seriously, I’ve been following this issue, all those sub-prime mortgages are bundled, packaged, and resold to other banks with inflated ratings. You see, mortgage backed securities are toxic assets based on a faulty foundation of repackaged debt, and in the unregulated derivative market large banks bet against their own mortgages, and when the whole scheme is about to collapse they get a bailout from the government so their profits are privatized while their losses are socialized.


Of course. How did I not see that?


Because The mainstream, corporatized media doesn’t cover these issues. It all goes back to the ending of the Glass Steagall Act back in ’99 which removed the protective firewall that separated commercial banking from investment banking and ushered in a new era rampant speculation. So you get some professional help.


Thanks, Sheila, always so supportive.

(To George)

Is this a good girl or what?


Uh, yeah, that’s what I was thinking.


(Gets up)

Okay, I’ll get to bed now. Good night, you two.


Good night, Uncle Leo.


Nice meeting you.

(Uncle Leo exits through hallway.)


(Sits down next to Sheila)

Now where were we?


Just getting started.


(Starts kissing Sheila)

Sure wasn’t expecting that.


At least we’re all alone now.

(George and Sheila start kissing. Sheila reclines back on the couch as George leans on top of her. As they’re kissing, Amy, Sheila’s young daughter, enters from the hallway unnoticed. She stands at the end of the couch and looks at the top of George’s head. George looks up and sees Amy.)


Hi there.

(Goes back to kissing Sheila, then looks up shocked)




(Pushes George off of her and sits up)

What are you doing up at this hour?


Waiting up for you, you’re late.


I’m sorry, honey. I must have lost track of the time.


(Sits on couch next to Sheila and George is pushed aside)

You were supposed to help me with my geography homework.


That’s right! Oh, I’m so sorry dear.


That’s okay, I got the answers off the internet.

(Looks at George)

Who are you?


Amy, this is George, he’s a friend of mine.


Good to meet you, Amy.


(To George)


(To Sheila)

Got a letter from dad today.


(To Sheila)

You’re married?


No, we’re divorced, and you don’t have to worry about him coming around.


Oh, good.


He’s in prison.




Amy, dear, you’re making George nervous.


No, I’m not nervous.


Could have fooled me.


Amy! That is no way to talk to an adult!


But every time you bring home one of your friends I end up having to do my own homework. That’s what made dad upset and caused him to do what he did.



What did he do?


It was nothing.


He assaulted one of mom’s friends.


He did what?


It was barely a scuffle.


Are you kidding? The poor guy spent a month in traction.


Okay, so he had a couple of broken bones.


And it took a year of rehab before he could walk again.


But he’s fine now.


Except for the lingering psychological damage.


I think it’s time for you to head off to bed, young girl.




Good night, dear.

(Kisses Amy)


Nice meeting you, Amy.



Yes, it was thrilling.

(To Sheila)

Good night, mom.

(Amy hops off couch and walks to hallway.)


Try not to make any noise, you two.



Well, now you’ve met some of my family.


Will there be any more surprises?


No, not at all. Now we’re all alone.



(They start kissing)

So any crazy relative living down in the basement, ha ha.


No, just my brother.


You’re brother lives down in the basement?


Yeah, well ever since he got back from Afghanistan he’s had trouble readjusting and finding work. Any one of us would have let him have one of our rooms, but he insisted on the basement.


So, there isn’t any chance he’ll sneak up on us?


No, not at all. Brian likes to keep to himself. If he is still up he’s either reading or watching the History Channel.


Well anyone willing to serve our country is a stand up guy.


Yes, we’re very proud of him.

(Brian appears and is crawling slowly crawling across the floor on his belly. He is carrying a broom handle in his arms.)


He must have seen some intense action.


Yes, he doesn’t like talking much about the war. It really affected him.


Does he have PTSD?


As long as takes his medication he’s all right.



What happens if he doesn’t?


Hallucinations mainly.

(Brian has sneaked around to behind the couch, then quietly stands up with the broom handle which he holds like a rifle.)




Yes, he has a psychotic break from reality and imagines he’s back fighting in Afghanistan.


There aren’t any firearms around the house, are there?


No, there is nothing deadly like that laying around, of course he’s always bragging how he can turn anything into a weapon.

(Brian advances upon them from behind.)


But he usually just keeps all that to himself. He doesn’t like to be agitated.

(Brian jumps downstage and points broom handle at George.)


Halt! Who goes there?!



What the hell?!


Brian? Have you not been taking your medication?


Ma’am, will you please step away? This insurgent may be a suicide bomber.




(Stands up off couch)

Brian, you put that broom handle down right now and get back to your basement!


Ma’am, we need to get this insurgent back to Bagram so we can interrogate him.


(Jumps up)

Oh no you don’t!


Hey, Sarge! We need a translator!

(Uncle Leo runs in from the hallway with a bottle of pills, Amy runs in right behind him.)


I’ve got his pills!

(George runs from Brian, then Uncle Leo and Amy run after Brian.  Chaos ensues.)


I can’t get this childproof cap open!


(Takes pill bottle)

I’ll do it.

(Amy open the pill bottle while Uncle Leo gets a hold of Brian and wrestles him down onto the couch.)


Hold him down!

(Amy climbs onto couch, pours pills into Brian’s mouth, makes him chew and swallow, then Brian starts to relax while jabbering indecipherably.)


That does it! We’re going to my place!

(Takes Sheila by the hand and goes to the front door)


Where do you live?


A place where there’s more peace and quiet and less racket and danger!


And where’s the that?



©2012, 2015 Robert Kirkendall

From The Archives – Diridon Station

(I first wrote this story three years ago while taking a class at Cabrillo College and posted it on my old blog.  This is rewrite of that previous version.  It’s a tale of love lost, then found again…sort of.)

Andrew and his briefcase were pulled along by a mass of evening commuters moving through the atrium of Diridon Station. As they all headed to the front entrance, Andrew exited the stream and stopped at the schedule chart and system map up upon the wall.


He turned around and saw an bouncy, youngish woman looking right at him. “Excuse me?”

“Yes! It is you! Two Drink Andy!”

The woman’s colorful attire was quite striking to Andrew and reminded him of a bowl of fruit punch. “Um, do we know each other?”

“It’s me, Wendy,” she declared hand upon her chest. “Wendy Bartlett! Don’t you remember me?”

“Oh, Wendy,” Andrew drew a blank as he turned away from the wall schedule to get a better look at her. “Uh, where do we know each other from?”

Wendy was taken aback. “You really don’t remember, do you?”

Andy tried to think. “Sorry, not ringing a bell, Wendy…what’s your last name again?”

“Wendy Bartlett!” she reemphasized a little louder. “I was just over there coming out of the tunnel, and then I look over this way and I’m all, ‘Oh my god, it’s him! Wonder if he remembers me?’”

Andrew was disoriented by the seeming stranger who apparently knew him. “So where and when did we meet?”

“Ha! We did more than just meet.” Wendy smiled slyly.

Andrew was taken aback. “Really? What did we do?”

“Oh my god!” Wendy laughed. “What didn’t we do?”

“But…how did we first meet?”

“At Shady Brady’s! Don’t you remember?”

A dizzying confusion came over Andrew. “Um, where is this Shady Brady’s?”

“Oh stop it, you know where perfectly well where it’s at. Shrouded in the fog of Seabright,” Wendy said with a dramatic sweep of her hand, “attracting unsavory sorts from the waterfront. And on one fateful night you and your friends showed up.”

“Oh, yes, of course, I remember,” Andrew said having no idea where it was, but assumed it was somewhere over the hill in the Santa Cruz area, a favorite spot of his friends for mischief making and evidence hiding.

“Yes! All you guys were doing shots while I was across the bar being hit on by some loser who worked at a vitamin company. And then your friends dared you to talk to me and ask me to dance.”

“Why can’t I remember that?” Andrew said partly to himself.

“Your friends said you couldn’t handle too much alcohol. They said that’s why your nickname is Two Drink Andy.”

Andrew was flabbergasted by the new information. “Oh. I see.”

Wendy leaned forward. “Also, I think they slipped something into your drink,” she said confidentially. “I think it was STP.”

The shock continued for Andrew. “Isn’t that a hallucinogen?”

“You know, it may have been the fuel additive. But don’t quote me.”

Andrew recalled the tomfoolery of the old gang and was slightly relieved by the explanation. “Yeah, that sounds like them,” Andrew said knowingly, but a question gnawed at him. “So, what happened that night?”

“Well, after the flaming brandy shots, you lost all your inhibitions and we sashayed out onto the dance floor for some dirty dancing,” Wendy said provocatively.

“Really? That doesn’t sound like me.”

“That’s because whatever you were on loosened you up, and you sure did have some moves!” Wendy said as she sexily demonstrated how they had danced.

Wendy’s boldly expressive manner intimidated Andrew. “Well that sounds like it was a fun night,” he managed to say. “Glad we were able to have a dance with each other.” He looked toward the opened brass framed, glass pane doors of the front entrance and tried to move toward them.

“That wasn’t the end of our night.”

Andrew stopped before he could get away. “Uh, what else did we do?”

“We went to my place for a game of Monopoly.”

“Oh. That sounds harmless enough.”

“Strip Monopoly.”

Andrew was startled. “H-how is that played?”

“Well, every time one of us passed Go, we had to take off a piece of clothing. And if one of us ended up in jail, we had to get strip searched.”

“That…doesn’t sound…the rules,” Andrew said as he tried to search his memory.

“It was your idea.”


“Oh yeah. And if one of us landed on the other’s property and couldn’t pay the rent, other arrangements had to be made,” Wendy said luridly. “That was my idea,” she added proudly.

“Well, at least we both contributed,” Andrew said lamely.

“Yes, we sure did. You even let me win,” Wendy said as she playfully grabbed Andrew’s side. He recoiled slightly from her ticklish touch. “My, that was some night,” she reminisced.

“Did we even finish the game?”

“Yeah, we were finished all right,” Wendy said with a laugh.

“Sounds like it was quite a night,” Andrew said, more puzzled than ever.

Wendy gripped Andrew’s forearm. “I felt things I’ve never felt before.” She looked into his eyes with an unsettling sincerity.

Andrew was alarmed by the whole experience. He felt overwhelmed, then slowly realized the possibilities. “So,” he began cautiously, “are you doing anything this weekend?”

“What?” Wendy suddenly pulled her hand away. “Are you hitting on me?”

“Oh, uh…”

“The nerve of you! Whatever gave you the idea that I wanted anything to do with you?!”

“But, those things we did.”

“I’m married now!” Wendy shouted as she held up her wedding ring. “I’m going home right now to make dinner for my family! I was only trolling places like Shady Brady’s because I was going through a dark period in my life! What do you take me for?!”

Andrew held up hands defensively. “I’m sorry, really, I didn’t know.”

“Get away from me, you sicko!” Wendy stormed out the front entrance. Andrew looked around the train station confusedly. He noticed a young, menacing security guard looking directly at him through the conflux of commuters. Others seated on the pew-like benches were completely indifferent to his plight.

The security guard began to advance toward Andrew while reaching for something on his belt. Andrew panicked and quickly left the station in a state of confusion. He went around the half circle driveway and scurried across Cahill Street to the parking lot. The sun was setting and twilight was nearing as he approached his vehicle. He thought more about that night. Did the guys really slip me a Mickey? he wondered. Aw, they were always doing stuff like that, he remembered somewhat nostalgically, said I needed to loosen up. He unlocked his car with his remote, got in and placed his briefcase on the passenger seat. He started the ignition and the multi speaker stereo surrounded him with easy listening music in the sound proof interior. He slowly drove out of the parking lot and proceeded with the surrounding traffic. He then merged onto a main highway and headed toward his suburban neighborhood.

Andrew tried to recall more of that night as he was driving. I remember going to a bar that night with the guys, he thought, and I remember hanging out there, but then everything becomes a blur until the next afternoon. He then recalled how when the shots were served, one of the shot glasses was pushed upon him as the guys grabbed all the other ones and drank them which forced him to drink his. He also seemed to remember that his shot glass may have been fizzing. Maybe I should’ve said something, he thought, but I didn’t want to kill the moment. He remembered awakening back in San Jose, and surmised that his friends must have picked him up from Wendy’s. He then had the unsettling thought that his friends were also at Wendy’s, perhaps as spectators, or even as participants!

As the entire, murky experience played out in Andrew’s mind, he began to reexamine his own life. Once again I can’t meet the right woman, he thought, something always seems to goes wrong. I thought I’d be married by now, he lamented, I never wanted to rush into wedlock, but am I being too cautious? He ruminated over his life, how he was moderately successful at a reputable employer, and how he thought that was all it took to find a woman.

I should be more like Rory, he thought. He remembered how Rory had lived boldly, without abandon, and was by far the craziest out of all his friends. And even though the motorcycle and fireworks mishap had resulted in Rory not being able to have an open casket funeral, Andrew knew he should learn from his example on how to live life.

Andrew passed his exit and drove further down the highway and onto the next exit. He navigated through a maze of suburban streets and arrived at his parent’s house. He knocked on the front door and his mother answered.

“Why hello, Andrew! Come on in,” his mother greeted. “We’re just sitting down to dinner.” Andrew ate with his parents while talking about his women problems.

“There is no reason why a man like you shouldn’t be married,” his father asserted. “You need to get out of your rut, change up your routine, visit new places.”

“Oh, I agree,” his mother said. “A change of scenery would do wonders for you. Have you ever tried a place called Shady Brady’s?”


©2015 Robert Kirkendall