The Street Signs Of Santa Cruz

I saw this humorously sarcastic no-parking sign in front of a condominium complex while bicycling along West Cliff Drive.  Only in Santa Cruz.


Redwood Summer Chapter 13

“So now Alex is trying to hook him up with a job so he can pay off his bills and his back rent!” Mike said loudly to Jason over blaring party music.

Hook who up?” Jason responded just as loud.

Curtis!” Mike repeated.

Oh, good for him!” Jason yelled back. “Hope it works out!”

“Maybe he can find something for you!”

“I’ll need to make more than what Curtis is willing to work for!”

“I heard that!” Mike agreed.

They looked around the unfamiliar house at the shifty, uneasy crowd.

“Know anybody here other than Darren?” Mike asked loudly.

Jason scanned the horde of party goers. “A couple of familiar faces, but no one I know personally!”

They milled around and tried to fit into the agitated atmosphere of the party. Some were drinking heavily and clustered around in separate, loud conversations. Others went in and out of a bedroom at the end of the hallway, closing the door every time they entered or exited.

The night wore on then loud, angry voices clashed over the blasting music. Jason and Mike looked toward the clamor and saw people hurrying toward the front room. They followed everyone and saw Randy and another party goer screaming and pushing at each other as others yelled at them to stop or egged them on. Jason and Mike moved toward the conflict but merged into a flood of people that quickly filled up the front room. The crowd surrounded the two fighters as the mêlée escalated and they tried to wrestle each other down. Jason and Mike struggled to push through the crowd but were stuck. Jason watched the fight from a distance as spectators from the crowd finally reached in and tried to pull Randy and his opponent away from each other while others continued to incite them. Jason tried to keep his footing in the lumbering crowd then someone hollered that a neighbor had called the police.

Everyone quickly untangled themselves, broke away from each other, and dispersed out the front and back doors. Jason and Mike along with Darren got a hold of Randy while the other fighter was pulled away by other disappearing party goers.

Where is that motherfucker!” Randy yelled.

“Chill, dude!” Darren said.

Let’s get the fuck outta here!” Mike ordered as he and Jason pushed Randy out into the backyard and were trailed by Darren. They met up with Brian and Terry and joined a line of people running along the side of the house. They emerged into the front yard and everyone fled into the night under the hazy glow of street lamps.

Lit up police cars rolled up the street, and Jason, Mike, Brian, Terry, and Darren grabbed Randy and took off in the opposite direction. They raced down one street, then another. Jason was fueled by a rush of excitement as he deeply breathed in the cool night air. They kept running through the neighborhood then slowed to a jog, and then a walk as the houses gave way to the large expanse of a high school. They tried to catch their breath as they approached the front of the campus.

Got away,” Brian said between breaths.

So who was that guy you were brawling with?” Jason asked Randy.

“One of Tony’s asshole friends,” Randy said. “I think his name is Frank.”

“Well what were you two fighting about?” Jason asked.

Fuck if I know,” Randy said as he wandered onto the yellow lit school grounds.

Well that explains things,” Brian said sarcastically. “I thought it was something important.”

“You guys should’ve back me up!” Randy insisted.

“We tried but the place was packed,” Mike replied. “We could barely move.”

You’re lucky we got you out of there,” Jason said to Randy. “You’re in no shape to be talking to cops right now.”

They would’ve dragged you away on sight,” Terry added.

Yeah, yeah,” Randy said dismissively. He wandered further onto the school and looked around at the institutional, rectangular buildings. “Haven’t been here in a while.”

I had to get out of that party quick,” Darren said. “I think I still have a warrant out on me.”

That the only reason why you’re so jumpy?” Terry asked knowingly.

At least they didn’t send that helicopter with the spotlight,” Mike said.

Randy continued to survey the school grounds. He walked through the outdoor commons and everyone followed. “Can’t believe it’s been five years already.”

Time marched on,” Brian reminded.

Hope they don’t bust Tony,” Darren worried.

They shouldn’t,” Terry answered. “He just threw a noisy party, that’s all.”

Yeah, as long as nothing is in plain sight,” Mike reminded.

They’re just there to break up our fun,” Randy said as he pulled a can of beer from his jacket pocket. “Shit, like they got nothing better to do.” He opened his beer and foam hissed out of the can as he took a drink.

Hope you brought enough for everybody,” Brian chided.

I might have an extra,” Mike said as he felt inside his jacket, pulled out one can, then another,

and handed one to Brian. Jason then felt his front jacket pocket, found a beer he had forgotten, and

pulled it out. As they opened their beers they all shot out foam.

Randy held up his can. “To the old school,” he said solemnly, and they all took a drink. Jason took a foamy drink that tasted warm and acrid.

Not too often we get to see the old school,” Randy reminisced.

You didn’t see too much of it when you were going,” Mike kidded.

Yeah, but when you’re in high school you can’t let classes get in the way of having a good time,” Randy asserted.

Can’t argue with that,” Jason said half seriously.

That’s right,” Terry agreed. “So what if you weren’t the valedictorian.”

Yeah, I was a pain,” Randy acknowledged, “but I never thought I was going to miss it.” He looked around the campus longingly as he walked ahead. “Now it’s all a bunch of kids who were in fucking junior high when we were here. Can you believe that shit?” Randy quickened his pace as he went by a row of lockers. Everyone else jogged after him while trying not to spill their beers until they came upon the courtyard in the middle of the school buildings. They all stopped, and Randy looked around the open space nostalgically.

“Sure looks empty with nobody around,” Terry said after a while.

Yeah,” Jason agreed, “and smaller.”

Randy gazed around raptly then focused on one of the larger buildings. “The cafeteria,” he spotted. “Did a lot of Saturday school there.”

Couldn’t have been as much as me,” Mike said.

I remember this one time a food fight broke out in there,” Terry began. “When no one was looking, I walked out with a case of Fanta.”

Did you guys hear someone else?” Darren asked warily.

That’s nothing,” Mike said to Terry. “One night I carved donuts on the soccer field with my old Camaro.”

I think that’s just our voices echoing,” Brian said to Darren.

Yeah, I tore it up good,” Mike reminisced as he pantomimed making a sharp turn with a steering wheel.

“Oh, I remember now,” Terry said to Mike. “It was after that party when…”

A piercing scream suddenly erupted from Randy. The echo reverberated off the buildings and briefly filled the vacant courtyard. Everyone looked around startled. “You’re right,” Randy said to Brian.

“Goddammit, Randy! There are cops around!” Jason said angrily.

Hope nobody heard that,” Darren worried.

“Oh, that was heard,” Mike remarked.

You’re awfully jumpy tonight,” Terry said to Darren.

“He’s always jumpy,” Brian added.

“Cops won’t come,” Mike predicted, “they’re busy rousting Tony.”

Aw, man,” Darren lamented.

Randy walked further into the courtyard. “You know how people that say that high school is the quickest four years of your life,” he began, “well it’s been about five years since we all left, and those four years were a lot more fun than the years that came after. Ain’t that a bitch.”

Life was better then and we didn’t even know it,” Brian observed.

Couldn’t wait to get out of here,” Randy said as he looked around the open space longingly, and here I am.” The yellow lights on the buildings glowed beside him and his shadow stretched across the ground and moved with him. Jason watched Randy as he wandered to the center of the courtyard and appeared to be lost in memories. “Back then we were always hanging out with each other, like family. Now we don’t see each other the way we used to.” He stood by himself in the middle of the courtyard. “Especially since some of you are whipped by your girlfriends.”

Jason suspected the last comment was directed at him. Randy looked around some more, thenfocused on one spot in the far corner. “The center of it all,” he said happily. “The smoking section.”

That isn’t the smoking section anymore,” Terry informed.

What?” Randy looked stunned. “Where the fuck is it?”

They don’t have one anymore,” Jason said.

You’re shitting me!”

All the high schools got rid of them,” Mike said, “new state law. Didn’t you hear?”

Randy lowered his head in disappointment. “Everything good in life, they take it all away,” he brooded. “It’s bullshit!” He paced around angrily. “Where are you supposed to go now to hang out with your bros and smoke a bowl?”

Library?” Mike joked.

Goddammit I’m serious!” Randy yelled from the middle of the courtyard. “We have been betrayed by a bunch of fucking new rules! Freeways cover up our old stomping grounds! It’s getting too fucking crowded here! Shit is getting too expensive! We’re losing our freedom!” he declared with fists clenched. “Where’s the fun? Where are the crazy adventures? The memories!” A tense pause filled the air.

Life ain’t that bad,” Mike finally said. “Why stress?”

Because we had something!” Randy emphasized. “We were the big men on campus, and nobody could fuck with us! And now it’s all gone! Fuck!” He flung his can of beer and it skidded across the blacktop then struck one of the buildings as it left a wet trail of beer in its path.

Hey, that’s alcohol abuse,” Terry joked.

“You think I’m kidding?” Randy shot back.

“You need to relax,” Jason advised.

“Fuck that!” Randy paced around some more. “You don’t get it! All you motherfuckers are relaxing too much!” he accused as everyone watched him. “Everything we had is disappearing! And you’re all settling into your nice, boring routines! Dull, predictable lives!” He moved in closer. “You’re all dying inside.”

“Whoa, Randy, that’s heavy,” Mike cautioned.

“And take it easy. There are cops around!” Jason warned.

“What the fuck is wrong with you guys? Are you even listening?” Randy yelled. He pulled out another can of beer from his jacket pocket, opened it, took a long drink and moved closer to everyone. “In the old days you would’ve backed me up.”

“We tried but everybody rushed in,” Mike said. “We could barely move!”

“And then someone said the cops were on the way,” Brian said.

“Yeah,” Jason agreed. “What the fuck were we supposed to do?”

“You’re not supposed to forget who your brothers are!” Randy shouted. Everything fell silent again.

“Okay, Randy, sorry for not jumping in on time,” Brian finally replied. “We didn’t know you were going to start a fight with some total stranger.”

“Fuck, man!” Randy continued angrily. “I didn’t start shit! That fucker bumped into me on purpose! Then he started shooting off his mouth! I couldn’t let him get away with that!” He appeared to wait for a response. “It wasn’t my fault!” he insisted.

“It never is,” Terry remarked.

“Fuck you!” Randy shot back. “You’re supposed to be on my side!”

Let it go,” Brian advised.

“No! Fuck that!” Randy yelled. “I don’t want to hear any more of that pussy bullshit! I’m not letting it go!” he emphasized. “I know what’s going on. No one wants to hang out with Randy anymore.” He paced around again. “Your girlfriends don’t like having me around. They think I’m an embarrassment. They think I’m trouble. But don’t you all forget that I’m the one who makes things happen!” He stared at them accusedly as the tension rose up again. “What would you have done without me, huh?” he asked pointedly. “Sit around and jack off all day? All your memories are because of me! I’ll be the one you tell stories about whenever you all get together! I made your pasts!” He moved in closer. “You can’t escape that.”

“No one has forgotten,” Jason finally said.

“That’s right,” Mike agreed. “Always the life of the party.”

“I was the party,” Randy declared proudly. His eyes appeared to light up from a recalled memory. “You guys remember that party we went to in the east side? At that ranch up in the foothills? Big place, kegs everywhere. And we met those farmer chicks, I think they were drunker than we were,” he said with a laugh. “And there was that one I hit it off with, Rhonda or something. Then we went behind a shed, and we had our party,” he added luridly.

“Yeah, I remember that party,” Terry reminisced, “or at least I remember going there. I think I blacked out at some point.

One of those girls had her hands all over you,” Randy said to Jason. He moved toward him. “You could’ve fucked her. How come you didn’t?”

Jason was caught off guard. “I was going out with Jenny at the time.”


“So I didn’t want to cheat on her.”

Well good for you,” Randy said ominously. “That shows loyalty.”

Jason began to feel uneasy. “What are you getting at?”

“I remember a time when you were loyal to your friends,” Randy said as he moved closer to Jason.

Aw, c’mon!” Jason refuted. “Where do you come off saying shit like that?”

Tell me I’m wrong.”

Jason felt the heat of persecution. “I went with you to Tony’s sketchy party, didn’t I?!”

“After I begged you.”

“I can’t hang out like we’re cutting classes anymore!” Jason argued. “I’ve got responsibilities now, bills to pay!”

“And a new class of people to hang out with,” Randy accused.

“What the hell do you want from me, the old Jason? You don’t think I don’t want to do all the fun things we used to do? I miss those days too, but I can’t be a kid forever!”

No more room for Randy,” Randy said with angry self pity.

Hey! I’m here now!”

“Chris finally let you off her your leash.”

“Goddammit! If you can’t keep a woman that’s your problem!”

“I can get any broad I want! Even yours.”

“You better watch your mouth!”

Randy stepped closer. “I have known you a lot longer than she has! We grew up together! We played ball together! Partied together! Did everything together! We used to go after the same girls, and they never got in the way!”

Jason felt the heat Randy’s righteous, accusing glare. Shared memories and the lure of nostalgia tempted him and reminded him of the stresses of his present life. Buried fears of a lost, happier past, fading comradery, and an unknown future arose. The gulf between his past and present widened, and dread began to haunt him. “What is your fucking problem?! Christine is the woman I love! Not some party skank! And do really think my life is some kind of fucking fairy tale? I’ve got all kinds of new problems to deal with! A job I can’t stand! Credit card bills! Mooching off of my parents like I’m still a child!”

“Oh, so I’m holding you back,” Randy further accused. “Is that it?”

Anger and frustration boiled over. “You’re holding yourself back! You’re making the wrong choices! What the fuck am I supposed to do, lead you around by the hand?!”

“You’re supposed to remember who your brothers are!” Randy shot back. “Todd would have backed me up! And Alex, Dwayne, even Curtis!”

“They’re not here!”

“Well where the fuck are they?!”

“I think there at Stu’s,” Mike interjected.

Stu’s throwing a party and you didn’t tell me?” Randy fumed.

“You wanted to go to Tony’s!” Jason reminded angrily.

“I think it’s more of a get together,” Mike added.

“Well we’re not at Tony’s now!” Randy shouted back at Jason.

“Yeah, you had something to do with that,” Terry reminded.

“Fuck you!” Randy threw his almost empty beer can at Terry. Terry quickly moved out of the way and the can thudded against a wall.

“Whoa! What the fuck, man!” Terry said hotly.

“Get a hold of yourself!” Mike ordered.

“Fuck Stu! We’ll have our own party!” Randy declared. “We’ll get some more beers and drive down to the beach!” He began to leave then looked back at everyone. “C’mon!”

“We’ve been drinking all night! We can’t drive over the hill!” Jason asserted.

“You see, that’s the kind of pussy bullshit I’m talking about! Not willing to jump in and take a chance!”

“You’re out of control,” Mike cautioned.

“Who’s with me?!” Randy shouted. “Who’s got a car?!”

“Dude, we’re not driving over the 17 in the middle of the night after we’ve been drinking!” Terry argued.

Shit! I can drive that hill blindfolded!” Randy bragged. “Darren, we’ll take your car!”

“No way, the brakes are shot.”


“Are you kidding? My alcohol level has to be twice the legal limit right now.”

“Don’t let me down, Terry!”

“Fuck it, I’m heading home,” Terry said, then started to move away.

“Guess I don’t need to ask you,” Randy said flippantly to Jason.

“I’m out.” Jason also began to leave, then Mike.

“Darren!” Randy said with exaggerated friendliness. “You won’t leave me.”

“Sorry, bro, I gotta keep out of sight.” Darren left and jogged up to everyone else leaving.

“So that’s it?” Randy called out as everyone exited the courtyard. “Just gonna leave ol’ Randy all by himself?”

Everyone continued down the corridor toward the school entrance.

“Well I don’t need any of you motherfuckers! Go back to your boring lives! I’m a one man party! I am a creature of the night!” Randy’s voluminous voice became distant as Jason and everyone else approached the school entrance. “That’s it! Keep going! Don’t worry about Randy! I’ll go invade Stu’s! Or find some other party!” Jason heard footsteps in the courtyard moving away quickly in the opposite direction.

Jason and everyone else made it to the street and walked along the sidewalk. A couple of them took a last drink of their beers and tossed them into a nearby trash can. 

“Well this has sure been a crazy night,” Mike observed, and everyone muttered in agreement. They then saw a police car driving down a cross street, and everyone froze for an instant.


©2017 Robert Kirkendall

99 Word Prompt: Busy

September 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

Silvio the waiter moved from table to table taking customer’s orders and answering their many questions about the menu. He then ran back to the kitchen, quickly arranged various plates of food onto a serving tray, and ran back out with the tray on his upturned palm. He adroitly sidestepped other servers and bussers on his way to table.

“Waiter!” an obnoxious customer screeched.

Silvio halted and looked down at the customer contemptuously.

“What’s this fly doing in my soup?” the customer demanded as he pointed down at his soup bowl.

Silvio glanced down at the bowl. “The backstroke!”

Ailurophobia – A 10 Minute Play

(This play was inspired by Mooch, the tuxedo cat in the above picture. He belongs to my girlfriend, and when I was rehearsing another play at her townhouse, Mooch would join us, bother the actors, and generally make himself the center of attention. Good kitty.)


DARCY – A tenant

ROSEANNE – A tenant

TABITHA – A tenant

GEORGE – A tenant

WHISKERS – A tuxedo cat

Scene: Darcy’s apartment

Time: Early evening, Present

(The living room of DARCY’S apartment. DARCY is seated on the stage right side of a couch that’s at upstage center and facing the audience. ROSEANNE is seated to her left on other side of couch. At stage left is TABITHA sitting on a chair or a love seat. At stage right is GEORGE sitting in a chair. At center stage is a coffee table with some glasses of water and a pile of papers. There is a back wall upstage with two large windows on either side. Everyone has a sheet of paper or two that were printed by DARCY.)


Thank you all for volunteering for the steering committee. We’ll be considering and discussing the new proposed rules for the Glenwood Complex. Let me begin by saying that I take our responsibility to our fellow tenants very serious. These are problems that we all want to be addressed, and I will give this all my attention without distraction.

(Everyone else nods in approval.)


Now some of these new rules attempt to deal with complaints about parking availability, the lack of night time lighting for certain parts of the complex, as well as the recent worries about transients intruding onto our property.

(WHISKERS, DARCY’S tuxedo cat, enters.)


Now I share everyone’s concern when it come to unwanted intruders, and I believe something needs to be done about it, but I also believe we need to be cautious in how we approach this problem.

(Whiskers starts rubbing up against DARCY and meowing.)


Not now, Whiskers. Can’t you see I’m busy?

(To tenants)

You’ll have to excuse my cat. He does love being the center of attention.


Oh that’s all right. I just love cats!


And you’re just an adorable little kitty!

(WHISKERS starts rubbing up against ROSEANNE and purring.)


Aw, how cute!


He is one handsome looking cat. Where did you get him?


He was a stray. He just showed up one day when I was down in the laundry room. Poor thing was starving, probably an orphan. I couldn’t resist, I had to have him.


Well cats are my favorite.

(WHISKERS goes over to TABITHA.)



Aw, you’re such a pretty little kitty!


I have to admit I’m not much of a cat person myself.

DARCY (Concerned)

If it’s a problem I can put him in my room.


Well, as long as he doesn’t disturb our meeting I don’t see a problem.


You don’t have to worry about Whiskers. He’s actually very well behaved.


Oh, okay.


So, back to the meeting. I’ve proposed that more security cameras be installed.


Good idea.


But before we do that we should fix the cameras we already have. A couple of them don’t work anymore, which I know is more of a maintenance issue, but…

(WHISKERS walks up to GEORGE and starts rubbing up against him. GEORGE is a bit uncomfortable.)


Whiskers! Leaver George alone!


I’m really sorry about this. He’s friendly to everybody.

TABITHA (Humorously)

Cats always find the non-cat person.



Want me to get him away from you?


Well, as long as he’s not biting or clawing or endangering me in any way it should be all right.

ROSEANNE (Affectionately)

He’s marking you!


You can go ahead and pet him. He won’t bite.


(Pets WHISKERS carefully)

I’ve never lived with cats, half my family is allergic.


He’s helping you with your ailurophobia.


Ailuro what?


Ailurophobia, it’s an irrational fear of cats.


Well I don’t know if it’s an irrational fear, more like unfamiliarity.


You’ve made a new friend.

(To GEORGE, jokingly)

And so have you.


Um, yeah. Can continue with the meeting?

(Stops petting WHISKERS)


Of course, let’s back to it.


George does make a good point about the cameras we have now that aren’t working. If we get those fixed, maybe we won’t need new ones.


I agree, we should save expenses where we can.

(WHISKERS walks over to coffee table, peers at a pile of papers, starts batting at them.)


And while we’re at it, we should really do something about the lighting.


Oh, definitely. Better lighting would keep away the trouble makers.


Yeah, like one of those spotlights that turns on automatically when you trigger a sensor.

(WHISKERS knocks pile of papers onto the floor.)




Cats sure do like knocking stuff over.


(Picks up papers)

Especially this one. Bad kitty!

(WHISKERS meows back.)


We’ll play with your cat toy later. Right now momma has company.

(WHISKERS mews some more, then sulks away. He slowly makes his way to window next to GEORGE.)


For a male cat he can be a real diva.


My mom’s cat is the same way, a real attention magnet.


So was my old cat. Maybe I should get a new one.


There’s plenty up for adoption.


Yeah, I just need to find the right cat. One who’s as adorable as this one!


I hate to interrupt but shouldn’t we be discussing the agenda of this meeting?


(Sits back down and lays papers on table)

Yes, yes we should. I believe we were discussing security cameras?


Yeah, as well as lighting.

(To WHISKERS, unctuously)

We just got a little distracted by little kitty!


Okay. Like I was saying, if we fix the cameras we already have, or even replace them with advanced cameras, that could solve our problem.


You know, looking into new cameras would be a good idea. The new ones have such a better resolution.


Exactly. I’ve been looking around online and the prices of 2K cameras is starting to come down. They might actually now be in the range of our budget.

(WHISKERS look downward out window at stage right, then raises his hackles and hisses.)

GEORGE (Nervously)

Uh, what’s going on here?


Oh it’s just another cat that lives in the complex. They’re having one of their territorial wars again.


He won’t attack me on accident, will he?


Of course not, you have nothing to worry about. You’re not a rival cat.

(WHISKERS continues to howl and hiss, then runs over everyone and knocks some of the papers off of table again on his way to other window. He continues to howl and hiss out other window.)


Whiskers! That’s enough!

TABITHA (Affectionately)

He’s just a little bundle of energy!


Well he is a stray so he still has a lot of wild still in him.


I’ll say.


I think it’s cute.


He can be a handful, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.


Whiskers! Get away from that window and behave yourself!

(WHISKERS finally stops howling and hissing, then walks to front of coffee table down stage.)


That does it, I’m adopting a new cat! There must be cats waiting for homes who are just as special as this little guy.


And you’ll be saving a cat’s life.


That’s right.


The thought of all those poor kittens waiting for loving homes just gets to me.

(TABITHA fights back tears, DARCY and ROSEANNE console her.)


Um, the meeting?


Oh, of course. Once again distracted by the feline.

(WHISKERS meows back at DARCY.)



Not now, the people are talking.


You were saying?


Good. Now in addition to new cameras we should also consider other security measures.


Oh, agreed.


Maybe we can hire a security guard.


Yeah, the police don’t patrol this area nearly enough.


I know, it’s like we’re on our own out here.


But can we afford a security guard?

(A fly starts buzzing around and WHISKERS follows it intently with his eyes.)


We can shop around, but I think we really need to look at that option. It’ll help keep out the criminal element.


Okay, but I’d hate for this place to become a fortress. One of the things I like about living here is all the friendly neighbors. I wouldn’t want it to feel too authoritarian.


Of course not. We need just enough security to protect us from dangerous types and the trouble makers.

(WHISKERS starts to go after fly, knocks over a glass of water off of coffee table, water spills on GEORGE.)

GEORGE (Stands up angrily)



Whiskers! Get a hold of yourself!


I’m really sorry, I’ll get a towel.


Your cat is a menace!


I’m so sorry, George! He didn’t mean it, really he didn’t!

(WHISKERS continues to chase after fly, then bumps against GEORGE causing him to stumble toward window and teeter over the window sill.)


Oh no!

(Falls out of window)


(WHISKERS looks out window, then stars preening himself. Sound of GEORGE crashing outside.)

DARCY (Hands on hips)

Whiskers! Bad kitty!

(WHISKERS meows back innocently, then goes back to preening himself.)

©2017 Robert Kirkendall

Current Affairs: A Fake Interview Show – Episode 2

(Originally written as a short play during the summer of this year, posting it here after failing to get it staged.)






Scene: A local television station

(A local television studio where an afternoon talk show is about to air. The host and the three guests are seated around a coffee table. The host, Charlene Beaumont, is seated at stage right. She is intelligent and informed. To her left is Amelia Kirby, an officious but dense person. Next to Amelia is Harvey Cheswick, obsequious and two faced. Seated at stage left is Rex Paulson, a menacing heavy.)

CHARLENE (Addresses audience)

Good afternoon, and welcome to Current Affairs. I am your host, Charlene Beaumont. Since the election of Arnie Fowler to Congress, things have been very different for District 7. In addition to an increased emphasis on security measures and a decrease on social spending, there has been a very concerted effort to go after immigrants, both documented and undocumented, environmentalists, human rights observers, women’s groups, minority groups, LGBTQ groups, civil libertarians, unionized workers, teachers, intellectuals, journalists from all forms of media, the entire county board of supervisors, people who speak with accents, appear too swarthy, and have last names that are, quote, funny sounding. With me to discuss his new administration is Congressman Fowler’s chief of staff Amelia Kirby.


Thank you having us, Charlene.


The Congressman’s governmental advisor, Harvey Cheswick.


A pleasure to be here, Ms. Beaumont!


And also with us is…(Looks at her notes), Director of Special Operations Rex Paulson




Well, it’s been a hectic time in District 7 since the election. How have you all adjusted to your new positions as well as your sudden presence in the public spotlight?


Well I’ve adjusted just fine, and I really don’t know what all the controversy is about. Congressman

Fowler was very expressive about his vision during his campaign so for me there were no surprises. Plus I’ve had plenty of experience when it comes to dealing with an upset public.


And where was that?


Customer service for United Airlines.


I see. And have the rest of you readjusted to your new positions?


Like a hand in glove! When Mr. Fowler tells me to jump, I don’t even bother to ask him how high, I just jump.


But as his governmental advisor aren’t you supposed to inform him of the duties of his job? Especially if he’s about to do something illegal or make some other kind of mistake?


Ha! Oh my, you are so naive. Congressman Fowler never makes mistakes. He told me so himself.


Okay. And you, Mr. Paulson? Have you acclimated yourself to your new position?




All right. Now Ms. Kirby, how has the Congressman reacted to the slew of protests that have plagued him since he took office?


Well I just remind Congressman Fowler, and the rest of us, that the protesters represent only a small minority of voters and doesn’t reflect the majority of opinions.


And I have it on good authority that all these so called protesters are bussed in from out of state and are funded by George Soros.


A conspiracy.


Now protesters claim assiduously that they are local, and they contend that Congressman Fowler only won through voter intimidation.


Sore losers, ha ha!


They’re making that all up. I have yet to hear any examples of this so called intimidation.


Well, some of the voter disenfranchisement techniques cited by protesters include closed polling stations, voter intimidation by brown shirted protesters at other polling stations, and one instance of a man in a security guard uniform who claimed to be a ballot inspector, and went around looking at filled out ballots looking for irregularities. He ended up throwing away hundreds of ballots.


Mr. Fowler denies knowledge or involvement in any of these alleged activities.


They’re not alleged, there’s plenty of video footage. All the local TV stations and many online sources have already shown footage.


They’ll be dealt with.


I beg your pardon. What do you mean by that?


Uh, Mr. Paulson was merely being sarcastic.


Of course! Rex is very well known for his sarcasm.


Is that true, Mr. Paulson?


Yeah, sure.


Moving on. Another complaint from citizens is that the Congressman is rarely at his office. They accuse him of spending too much time golfing, bowling, playing poker, and when he does meet with constituents, it’s usually at a strip bar.

REX (Agitated)

Are you accusing Mr. Fowler of meeting with Reds?


No, (Enunciates) a constituent. It means someone who lives in the Congressman’s district.

REX (Beat)

I knew that.


Back to voter concerns. Many are worried that the Congressman is not only shirking his duties, he doesn’t take seriously the very responsibilities of his job.


Now I think I can put those worries into perspective and ultimately to rest by pointing out that candidate Fowler ran a very unique campaign. So of course after winning he going to be a unique, outside the mainstream congressman.


And let me add that no one takes his job more seriously that Congressman Fowler. You should see the passion with which he yells at the TV when he sees a news item he disagrees with, especially when Sylvia Brown is on.


Yes, the Congressman’s opponent during the election. Why would he still be angry with her?


Because she said some mean things about Arnie.


She sure did.


But since Fowler won and became Congressman, it seems rather unnecessary to harbor bitter feelings toward Mrs. Brown.


But she never apologized for her mean comments.


Actually Sylvia Brown said very little about Fowler, especially toward the end of the campaign. Most of her ads were just clips Fowler’s more outrageous accusations, especially the obviously false claim that Mrs. Brown killed Vince Foster for the Clinton’s, and that they paid her in heroin.


But can you prove that it didn’t happen?


You can’t prove a negative.


Aha! More pseudo intellectual hooey!


No, it’s just common logic. You do understand the basic tenets of logic, right?

(The guests stare back at Charlene blankly.)


Okay, let’s move on. Another area of concern is the shroud of secrecy that surrounds the office of Congressman Fowler. Access to him has become more restricted, and most people have no idea what happens during a typical day at the Congressman’s office.


Well then let me explain it to all those anxious, worried people. In the morning we put together his briefing. We keep it simple. He likes it when they have pictures and lots of color graphs.


Is anything substantive said at these briefings?


Of course! Mr. Fowler is a very complex man who takes his job very seriously. Just the other day I attempted to bring up an important issue that I referred to as an elephant in the room. But when I said it that way, Congressman Fowler jumped to his feet and said, where’s the elephant? where’s the elephant? Then he excitedly ran around the office looking for an elephant. When we finally explained to him that it was a figure of speech and not a real elephant, he was extremely upset. He even broke down in tears.


It does seem alarming that the Congressman has a hard time controlling himself.


But would you rather have some cold blooded, unemotional leader who doesn’t have feelings and only does things calmly, and rationally?


But how do you deal with Congressman Fowler when he acts in such an emotionally unhinged way?

HARVEY (Reassuringly)

Oh, we know how to handle him when he gets in one of his special moods. A box of crayons, some paper, and he relaxes like a tranquilized animal.


I see.


I’d like to state for the record that Mr. Fowler does not inject tranquilizers or any other drugs. He just says no.


I believe that was a metaphor.


That’s my fault. I should have been more plain speaking, like our beloved Congressman, instead of relying on the crutch of metaphor.


Okay. Well one thing Congressman Fowler has been open about is his desire to return to policies that are fading, like mandatory minimums, suspension of civil liberties, and general prison expansion.


He is merely reacting to the wishes of the people.


Actually public opinion is going against those policies.


That’s absurd!


Not really. And many speculate that these policy opinions are because the private prison industry was a major donor to Fowler’s campaign.


But they are merely supporters who are showing their appreciation by donating to Congressman Fowler’s campaign. It’s really all quite innocent.


But donations give the appearance of influence.


Might I remind you that money is speech?


Citizen’s United, sweetie.


Okay, currently money is considered speech, but that decision has been steeped in controversy, so just saying money is speech doesn’t seem to satisfy the public.


Well maybe the public needs to pull itself up by its own bootstraps instead of asking for a handout.


I’m not sure how taking issue with moneyed interests having a disproportionate influence on elected office holders makes one a seeker handouts.


You see? You just answered your own question.


That doesn’t make sense.


You need to stop thinking and just go with how you feel.


Okay, I think we’re going off course here. Now I want to bring up the nagging and persistent questions that continue to surround the last election. More specifically, Fowler’s connections to figures in the criminal world.


Oh please! Congress are the real criminals.


But Mr. Fowler is now a Congressman.


A new kind of Congressman, without that Washington taint.


But these connections between Fowler and the criminal underworld go back years, long before he got into politics. He plays golf with members of various South American drug cartels, is suspected of having ties with members of the Yakuza, and has been accused of brokering money laundering for Russian oligarchs.


But as you can see Congressman Fowler has very diverse friends.


You think the pointy headed elites would at least give him credit for that.


Uh, I think you’re missing the big picture. Now that Mr. Fowler is a congressman he is under greater scrutiny, so all those connections to criminals that he was able to hide when he was a private citizen are now in the public arena.


Those charges are baseless!


And there’s Congressman Fowler’s insistence that climate change is a hoax despite all scientific evidence to the contrary.


The Earth is still around last time I checked.


But the Congressman is at odds with most of his constituency. Isn’t he afraid of a backlash?


If Arnie took his critics seriously he would have given up long ago.


And he knows how to deal with his critics.


How does he?


Oh, he has a plan.


What plan?


A little thing called martial law.

REX (Jumps up)

You’re not supposed to mention that!




No! I didn’t say anything!


That does it!



(Rex grabs Harvey and drags him off stage.)


What’s going on here?!


You didn’t see a thing!


We’re on live TV!

AMELIA (To audience)

You! At home! You didn’t see or hear a thing! Got it?

(Runs off stage after Rex and Harvey)

CHARLENE (Pause, to audience)

Well this is flabbergasting. When we come back from break we’ll try to straighten out this mess and then discuss the Congressman’s voting record.

(Harvey runs back on stage screaming for help and then runs down the center aisle while being chased by Rex, who holds a pair and manacles or a large net, and Amelia.)

CHARLENE (To offstage)


©2017 Robert Kirkendall

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.”