Thursday, January 27, 2022

Baud Youngfellow (Part Two of Three Parts)

 dontravis.com blog post #534

 Image courtesy of Joom

 


Last week we met Tod and Baud. And there seemed to be electricity in the air, at least from Tod. Let’s get right to it and see what develops, shall we?

 

****

BAUD YOUNGFELLOW

I didn’t see Baud Youngfellow again for a few days, but his big Bentley was often parked at the boardinghouse as I passed on the way to school, so he was still in town. Then my heart sank when it wasn’t there one morning. He’d left. My Oklahoma Adonis was gone. Nothing but a minor blip on my personal radar.

Except he wasn’t. That same morning I overheard some girls talking in the hallway, causing my spirits to perk up.

“Have you heard?” one of them asked, giving her brown curls a flip. “That dreamboat with the big car rented a house.”

“So he’s staying?” another asked.

“I hope so,” the third girl said. “Can you imagine what it would be like to get with him? His name shouldn’t be Baud… it ought to be Bawdy.”

Titters from them, a flash of jealousy from me. I mentally beat my head against the lockers. What did you expect? If he sent your pheromones scrambling, what did you think it would do to the fairer sex? I stopped looking for competitors among my own gender and expanded it to the whole of womanhood.

That very weekend, I ran into Baud as he came out of the hardware store. My knees went weak when he addressed me by name.

“Hi, Tod. It is Tod, isn’t it?” My head bobbed independent of my will. “I thought so. Is that with one d or two?”

“One.” Nobody’d ever asked me that in my whole life.

“Okay, Tod with one d, how’d you like a job? Part time till school’s out. Then we’ll consider making it full time.”

Flustered, and frankly addle-pated at the moment, I responded in the worst way possible. “I usually work at the Town Market summers.”

“Oh. Okay, maybe you can recommend—”

“Uh, what kind of job is it?”

“I’m doing some renovations on the Hawkins place. I’ve rented it with an option.”

“Option?”

“To buy it.”

Wow! That sounded permanent. “Well, I did some carpentry work for my uncle when he built a couple of sheds.”

“So you know which end of a hammer to bang with,” he said with a grin. “That’s good, but this is a little more delicate. Delicate, meaning scroll work, which is pretty touchy. I’m wainscotting the den, which will be my office, with some pretty expensive wood after I fashion it the way I want.”

“Fashion?”

“It’s fancy scrollwork. Artwork, actually. I’m a wood carver.”

My mouth got away with me again. “Woodcarving supports a Bentley automobile?”

He grinned, and as usual, my knees acted up. “It’s a Flying Spur, not the most expensive model. But seriously, my art isn’t what bought the Bentley. You know I come from Tulsa, right?”

I nodded.

“Well, back in the day, my family was in oil. That was when oil was big. So you see, I’m a trust fund baby. And I didn’t buy the Bentley. I ran around in a Volkswagen until my grandmother got fed up with that image and gave me my dead grandfather’s car.”

“Oh.”

“So what about it? Are you interested?”

My head answered for me again, nodding enthusiastically. “You bet. I used to do some wood carving, but that was back when I was a kid.” I think I blushed. He probably still considered me a kid.

“Atta boy. It’s proper that the first man I met in La Rosa is the guy who hooks up with me.”

Knees again. And my stomach joined them. Man, he’d called me a man for the second time. And hooked up? I’d hook up with this guy any way he wanted. My smile about ripped my lips apart. At the very least, my cheeks hurt.

We made arrangements for me to report after school on Monday for a couple of hours’ work. Only two more weeks remained before the term ended, and I looked forward to that. I’d work so hard he’d be sure to make it a permanent thing for the summer. After that, I floated home.

****

It didn’t occur to me until I was pedaling up to his driveway that a bicycle would instantly paint me with the “kid” label, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. My dad let me use the family car occasionally, but not every day. Most of the guys rode bikes to get around. La Rosa was that kind of town. Not big. And not affluent enough for everyone to afford a car. Maybe the cowboy hat I’d dug out of the back of my closet would be enough to change my image.

Baud stepped outside and watched me lean my bike against the garage wall. My shame evaporated with his first words.

“You know, I’ve been thinking about using a bike to get around town. Costs a fortune to simply fire up the Bentley.” He patted his flat belly. “Besides pedaling helps keep the weight off.”

Man o’ man! Working around this guy was gonna be something else. Any time he touched any part of himself, I wanted to go touch it too.

“Come on, let me show you what I’m up to.”

Gee, if he were only up to the same thing I was. Actually, I was impressed. The wainscotting he’d already installed was a rich walnut with fancy work along the top and the bottom of rectangle of wood… a panel he called it. Every second panel had sort of a gargoyle-head right in the middle. A relief panel, he explained.

I would have said this was professionally done until I spotted the partially completed panel at the worktable he’d set up right in the middle of the room. Come to think of it, it was professional quality. This guy was good. How in the hell was I going to help him?

He showed me. Before long, I was plying a special carving tool, a gouge, I think he called it, to some inexpensive throw-away wood to learn its application. He kept me at that for the entire three hours I worked. He stayed at my side in the beginning, but after I got the general hang of the thing, he went about his business, checking on me occasionally to correct something or show me some mistake I’d made. It wasn’t that hard to learn, once I got over being in a hurry. My biggest problem was keeping my eyes on the work instead of watching his trim butt or the muscles play in his back or roll in his arms. Did he work without a shirt in the summer, or did he stick with the thin T-shirt he wore now? Oh, wow. This was going to be exquisite torture.

 ****

So our local high schooler is in love. What about the worldly Oklahoman who set him afire? So far, no clues… except that Tod thought Baud’s gaze lingered overly long below the belt the first time they met. Oh, yes. And Baud sought him out to hire him for a part-time job. Wonder what happens next. By the way, how do you like the picture of Tod in his tan hat?

 Until next week.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.                                                                                                                                 


Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Baud Youngfellow (Part One of Three Parts)

 dontravis.com blog post #533                                                          

 Image courtesy of Joom

 


Thanks for indulging me while I wallowed in nostalgia last week. This week, I’ll get on with regular business. Hope you enjoy.

 

 

****

BAUD YOUNGFELLOW

 

Baud Youngfellow hit our little New Mexico town like an Oklahoma tornado. I said Oklahoma because word got around that’s where he came from. And I said tornado because that’s the effect he had on me. He simply drove in one day in the fanciest car anyone had ever seen. A big affair with a stately grille, a rich maroon color—that wasn’t quite like any other maroon I’d ever seen—with the word “Bentley” stamped on it.

When he got out of the driver’s seat, he took off what must have been the biggest hat in the state—and certainly in La Rosa—and ran a hand through a shock of thick, blond hair with dark highlights and a bit of a curl. Boots that were snakeskin or lizard skin or something. A diamond ring on his left hand flashed in the sun about blinding me. And when he smiled at all the gawkers—including me—his teeth were so white they about finished the job.

But what got to me was how handsome he was. Not picture handsome—you know like those photos of movie stars you know they photoshopped—but interesting handsome. Well, sexy handsome, I guess. Guess, hell, I know. Just tall enough, a little over average height. Carrying just the right amount of weight—around one-seventy, I’d guess. And broad, broad shoulders that narrowed down to a small waist, and hips that flared just a little.

The wide stance he adopted as he scanned the area let you know that here stood a man. When he spoke—to me yet—his deep baritone just shy of a bass, confirmed that impression.

“Wonder if you can direct me to a good place to stay for the night?”

I went weak in the knees as his green eyes scanned me. The whole me. They seemed to linger just a tad below my belt, but that might have been my imagination… or my hope. When I say green eyes, I mean green. Green like tiger’s eye marbles with a pupil in the center of each.

I gulped and told him the boardinghouse on Broad Street was his best bet.

“Thanks, young fella,” he said. Young fella? He couldn’t be more’n four or five years older than my eighteen. “Can I ask the name of the first man I’ve met in La Rosa?”

I gulped again and tried to speak through a dry throat. “Tod. Tod Halton.”

He held out a broad, strong-looking hand. “Baud Youngfellow. Glad to make your acquaintance, Tod.”

I mumbled something—hopefully appropriate—as I imagined that warm hand grasping something else. That’s when I realized it was love at first sight. At least on my part.

When he released my hand, I tucked it in my left armpit to try to hold onto the warmth of his touch. Realizing he was about to move on, I grasped for something to keep him here.

“Bob?” I asked. “Did you say your name was Bob?” Stupid, I know, but I was pretty stupid at that moment.

“No, it’s Baud. B-A-U-D. That was my grandfather’s name on my mother’s side. William Baud. Unusual, but it serves the purpose,” he said with a laugh.

“You just passing through?”

“Well, not sure about that. Looking for a place to land, and La Rosa seems promising. I’m sick of cities. Lived in Tulsa all my life and ready for a change.”

My hopes rose. “This is a nice town. You’ll like it.”

“How big is it?” he asked.

“About five thousand,” I said. In my temporary role of town promoter, I babbled on. “Bout a third Hispanic, fifty percent Anglo, the rest made up of Indians and a few blacks, and some Vietnamese who came after that war.”

Those fascinating eyes roved me again. “And which are you?”

I probably blushed. “My grandma used to say I’d make a good flag. Some brown, some white, and a dash of red.”

His eyes examined my face. “Makes an interesting mix. You’re a good-looking fella.”

“T-thanks. You are too.” I know I blushed then, no doubt about it. “Except you’re really… uh, handsome.” I’d almost said sexy.

He winked. “Helps with the ladies, doesn’t it?” He clamped his hat on his head, touched the brim in a sort of salute, and walked into the drug store.

I almost followed him inside, instead, I floated all the way home. Must have been floating because I couldn’t feel my feet hit the ground. I made it home in my non-alcoholic drunken state all right, said hello to mom and went straight to my room, tossing my books on my desk before flopping on the bed where images of the dreamboat I’d met floated endlessly before my eyes. My skin puckered when I belatedly realized he’d said I was the first man he’d spoken to in La Rosa. Imagine that, a man.

That brought me around to another subject. Or, at least, forced me to face the present one. Who was I? What was I? Eighteen years old, a senior in high school, and I still didn’t know. I wasn’t sissy-acting. Played sports and all that, but I seemed to hang onto my childhood buddies tighter than they did me. They all had steady girlfriends—even if they changed them up a lot—while I just dated now and then. Chances were that given the option of a date with a pretty girl or a clandestine beer with a buddy, I’d opt for the brew.

My carnal experience was limited with either gender. I’d gone all the way with a girl before her family moved out of town. Twice, and I liked it. But I couldn’t ever, ever forget jerking off with my best friend Josh. Half a dozen times before he started going steady with his girlfriend. When I was honest with myself, I got steamed up more with remembering my time with Josh than with Wren.

But I had never reacted to anyone like I had to Baud… funny first name or not. I decided at that moment, I had to figure a way to get with Baud Youngfellow. And by get with, I meant “Get With.”

I bounced off the bed and rooted around in my closet until I found what I was looking for. It was a little battered and tan rather than white… but it was a hat. And it looked good on me, even if my hair and eyes were brown instead of blond and green.

 

****

So our narrator is smitten to the point he’s dug out a cowboy hat just like—well, almost like—his newly found idol’s. Wonder what happens next.

 

Until next week.

 

Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 

My personal links:

 

Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 

See you next Thursday.

                                                                                                                                 

Don

 

New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

It’s That Time of Year Again – My Blue Period

dontravis.com blog post #532                                                          

Once again, I ask your indulgence while I spend some time and effort at personal healing. Yes, it’s my blue period again, but as you’ll see below, there’s more to it this year. I’ve kept it shot so as not to intrude upon your time too much. Thanks.

The first photo is of my wife, Betty, taken years ago. Although it doesn't look like it in the picture, she had coppery red hair at the time.

This one is of my older son, Clai. Like his father, you need to look closely to determine his hair color. 

The unusual spelling of his Christian name, Clai, is derived from his mother's maiden name: Claiborne.



 I haven’t heard from anyone speculating on Widget Jackson’s story. Would like to have your take on it.                                                     



****

DARKLING CLOUDS, RESTLESS SHADOWS

Those who have read my blog for any length of time know I take time out once a year to do some personal remembrances and grieving. I once called February through April my “blue period.” Alas, now it stretches for nearly half a year. Let me explain.

My wife Betty died at Kindred Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 12, 2009 of respiratory failure, renal failure, and sepsis.

I met my future wife when the US Army transferred the 47th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Division from Ulm, West Germany (as it was designated at the time) to Fort Carson, Colorado. Four of us enlisted men bummed around together and had a marvelous time in Germany. I was the Second Battalion clerk, Carl was Headquarters Company Clerk, and I don’t recall the MOS of Ernie and Kurtz.

Once we landed in Colorado Springs, we discovered Carl had a sister in Denver with another single woman as a roommate. Lo and behold, there were two single women living right across the hall in the same apartment house. Long story short… Carl, Ernie, and I ended up marrying one of the gals, and Kurtz got away. I married Carl’s sister.

After leaving the army, I found employment in Denver. Our first child Clai was born there. Eventually, I was transferred to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I fell in love with the place immediately, but Betty, a natural redhead, had allergies… one of which was to dust. It took awhile for her. Our second child Grant was born here.

So why did I call February to April my blue quarter? Betty was born March 13, Died in February, and our wedding anniversary was April 8… all dates that called her to mind.

When did my Blue Quarter become a half-year ordeal? My older son, Clai, died in St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana, Texas of sepsis on January 22, 2021; his birthday is May 14. Ergo, my sensitive dates now stretch over 5 of the 12 months of the year.

Clai was a sickly child, as well as a prickly child. He grew out of the sickly stage for a while and turned into a very good auto mechanic. He was bright but not always practical. He suffered from what he called ADD (which I called Multiple Personality Disorder) and did not make friends easily since you had to figure out who he was at any given time. Clai was more of a loner than his old man. Clai never married. He became further disabled because of a severe back problem and moved to Texarkana to be near my mother—his grandmother –whom he loved dearly. When she died, he remained in Texarkana. An alcoholic, he received his 23-year sobriety pin before developing a series of worsening ailments, including heart trouble. A failing heart was the reason behind the sepia that eventually took him.

I miss them both.

 PS: My younger son suffered a heart attack last November. Fortunately, he was in the waiting room at Presbyterian Hospital with his wife when it struck, so the wheeled him into emergency where he received an angioplasty and a stint. A little rocky there at first, but he seems to be recovering.

****

Thanks again for putting up with this for another year. Otherwise, I survived the holiday season and the end of last year in reasonable shape. Hope the same is true for all of you.

 Until next week.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.

                                                                                                                                 

Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Widget Jackson, Part 2 of a Short Story in 2 Parts

 dontravis.com blog post #531                                                          


I trust everyone survived the New Year’s celebrations. As usual, a quiet night for me. Well, except for the exploding fireworks and occasional gunshot fired into the air. Albuquerque’s notorious for that.

At any rate, let’s get back to poor Widget Jackson. He’s literally panting after a handsome, popular jock named Roger. In the first part of the story, we saw Widge manage to get on Rog’s radar when he fixed his hero’s stalled car. Wonder what happens next?

****

WIDGET JACKSON

I saw Roger around town a couple of times after that Sunday, and he always waved and tossed me a greeting… usually using my name. He worked in his dad’s hardware store over the summer, and I gave 40 hours to a local service station, so our paths didn’t cross too often. But then came the magic Sunday afternoon following my “saving him,” as he put it. I was parked at the city park, backed into a semi-screen of foliage, as was my wont, when a car pulled up beside me. To my astonishment, it was Roger’s Impala.

He got out and walked over to my driver’s side open window. “Hi, Widge, what ’cha doing?”

I held up the book I’d been reading. At that moment, I wasn’t capable of intelligent speech. Roger the Awesome had sought me out and was talking to me. “Reading,” I managed to say.

Hey, guy, I…. Well, I was thinking about you rescuing me last week. Remember when I offered to pay you?”

My head bobbed of its own volition. “Uh-huh.”

“There was something about the way you said, ‘I don’t want your money, Roger.’”

“W-what do you mean?”

“I dunno,” he said, a slight smile adorning his fantastic lips. “Just something unsaid. Like, I don’t want your money, but there’s something else you can give me.”

I swallowed hard. I’m sure people across the field on the baseball diamond could hear it. “Uh,” was my skillful riposte.

He leaned his arms on my lowered window frame and peered at me, so close I thought sure I’d swoon. “Look, Widge. I’m not trying to be insulting or demeaning or anything. But I’ve heard things… just rumors, you understand. You don’t have to say a word, but I’m going to stand up straight, maybe lean against the car. And if you see something you want… well, it’s yours, guy.”

Certain my ears were hearing what they wanted to hear, not what was being said, I just gaped at him. And then, he did it. Leaned against the car, his denim-covered groin an inch from my nose.

Well, he was right, I didn’t say a word, but my hands acted independently of the rest of me, feeling everything they could reach. After a minute of feeling him through his clothing, I woke up to the fact that his trousers had an elastic waistband. Immediately, I yanked them down, afraid at any minute, he’d jerk back and tell me the joke was on me.

But he didn’t. Instead, he rose to the occasion. I feasted my eyes… and a feast it was. Like everything else about Roger, his equipment was made with exquisite care. My hands had a ball… two of them, in fact. Oh wow! He was firm where he ought to be firm, soft where he needed to be soft, throbbing where he needed to throb, and his bush was soft and silky. Afraid any minute he’d change his mind, I felt and tasted and manipulated in a frenzy. And then, as I feared, he withdrew, covering himself as he did so. I’d been suckered.

He leaned back in the window. “Felt good, Widge. But this is not the place. Your place available?”

Halfway hopeful again, I shook my head. “Uh-uh, my folks are home.”

“Same here. Look, you know the old, abandoned cabin on the back road to Willtown?”

“The one just across the river?”

“Yeah. Just across the river from that peculiar bend before the bridge.”

“Where the old bridge washed away a few years back, and they build the new one?”

“Yeah, that’s it. I’ll meet you there, okay?”

“Meet me? We can go together. Your car or mine?”

“I’m going on to Willtown to visit my grandmother when we’re finished, so I’ll take the old road.” His smile was almost a leer. “But I’m not in any hurry. We’ll each go in our own car.”

“You ready now?” I asked. I’m sure I was panting.

He flashed a grin that melted every bone I had… except for one. And he noticed that one. His grin got bigger. “You follow me.”

I nodded and started the Rambler before he even got back in the Impala. I contained myself until he backed out and headed down the road. Then I followed.

I didn’t keep right on his tail, but I was pretty close as he flew down the highway, testing the speed limit. But when he turned onto the old road, it was so bumpy we had to slow. I fretted and grumbled fiercely, sure that I was going to lose it even before we reached our rendezvous. Wow! I liked the sound of that… Rog and Widge’s rendezvous. I got so excited, images of his groin pressed in my face back at the park, his essence revealed to me, began to play before my eyes. Luscious. That was the only word for it.

I got to imagining that view so much, I hit a rough spot in the road so hard the old Rambler let out a squall. Better pay more attention. But it was useless, that vision was so fascinating, so promising, so enthralling, I had to keep shaking my head to clear it away.

I didn’t even know I’d missed the bridge at that kink in the road until the Rambler began falling. I hit the water and rode the waves for a minute before the old car headed downstream with the current and quickly sank.

****

Oh, crap! You guys will have to write your own ending to the story. Did Widge drown in his Rambler an unfulfilled man… when he was sooo close? Or did Roger the Hero, strip off his shirt (baring that manly chest) and dive into the river to save Widge? If so, can you picture them in that abandoned canyon, shivering and naked, drying one another off… leading to something wonderful? Or did Widget get out of the car on his own but is too panicked to continue with his much-anticipated assignation? As I say, you write the ending and let me know what it is.

Until next week.

Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

My personal links:

Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.

                                                                                                                                 

Don

New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Widget Jackson, Part 1 of a Short Story in 2 Parts

dontravis.com blog post #530


Hope everyone had a good and safe Christmas. Thanks for your comments on Happy the Elf.

Today, let's get the first part of a tale about a youth with the unfortunate name of Widget--Widget Jackson--and see how his name influenced his story. Enjoy.

 ****

WIDGET JACKSON


Who names a kid Widget? My hippie parents, that’s who. At least they were hippies when I came along. Since then, they’ve become more mainstream… a little stuffy even but, you know, respectable. They moved on, but they left me indelibly marked by their former hippieness… that name. Most of the kids end up calling me Widge. But I answer to Widget, Widge, or Jackson. I blamed my odd first name for the way I turned out. Odd. As in gay, queer, or whatever label you want to put to it.

I don’t have a problem with that. Well, I do on occasion, but not a major one. My big problem is named Roger. Roger Redding, to be precise. You see, I’m hung up on the guy in a serious way, and I doubt I even register on his radar… much less gaydar, if he has any. Probably doesn’t know my name. Well, in a town this size, he knows that much about me but not much more. You see, he’s physical—as in jock—while I’m more mental. Don’t get me wrong, he’s bright enough, but his tastes run more to footballs, basketballs, baseballs, and the like, while mine seem to center on his.

Come to think of it, he had three names too… at least for me. Roger the Handsome, Roger the Sexy, and Roger the Unapproachable. All spot on. Some good-looking guys are bland, you know, pleasing to look at but don’t raise the blood pressure. And we’ve all known plain looking guys who get under your skin, stir the blood. Roger’s one of those spectacularly handsome youths who make you think of the bedroom or the back seat of a car or the local men’s room or anywhere you can be alone with him. I would be alone with him in the middle of a crowd if he wanted me to.

Then came the glorious day that Roger the Magnificent’s car broke down. I know that’s an odd way to put it, but that’s me… odd. One Sunday afternoon, I was on the way back from the lake after some alone time along the shore during summer break when I rounded a curve in my old Rambler and saw a car with the hood up. I recognized that Chevy Impala. It was Roger’s. His old man had bought a new one last year and gave the old one to his son. Relying on an ancient Rambler for transportation necessitated that I be handy with a wrench. Accordingly, I pulled up behind the Impala and parked. As I got out of the car, I saw the unbelievably handsome head of Roger the Faultless look around the car. A spot of dirty oil had the temerity to mar his flawless forehead. But even that looked rakish on him.

“Trouble?” I asked.

“Hi, Jackson. You know anything about car engines?”

Wow! He did know my name, at least my family name. “Enough to keep this old Rambler running. What’s the problem?”

He swiped his forehead with a muscular forearm, smearing the smudge. “Damned if I know.”

“Mind if I take a look?”

“Be my guest.”

Crap, why couldn’t I come up with suave comments like that? Obediently, I stuck my head under the hood, but my first good look was at his lower extremities since my eyes were hidden from his gaze. Nothing wrong with what I saw.

I recovered my senses, and started tracing and testing wires from here to there like I did on my rambler. Of course, the Impala was different… it was ruled by computers while my Rambler didn’t even know what one was.

“Get in and try to start it,” I said in as manly and masterful a voice as I could manage.

Obeying my instructions—imagine that paragon of macho following my instructions—he crawled in and made it easy for me. The starter dragged for a few seconds and then went to clicking.

“You been having trouble starting the car?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s been a little balky.”

“Your starter’s gone.” I frowned. “Did the car die on you while you were driving?”

He dropped his gaze. “Uh… naw. I pulled over to take a leak.”

Oh my lord! A few minutes earlier, and I might have been able to behold that awesome sight.

“And then it wouldn’t start.”

“Right.”

“I can give you a lift to the auto parts store.”

“Thanks, but what do I do then? Maybe I oughta call for a tow.”

“I can probably install it for you.”

“For real? Thanks, man.”

Man! He called me a man. Well, probably not. Just a jock term of address.

Shortly thereafter, Roger’s shapely butt was planted in my driver’s side seat as we headed to town. I might not let anyone else sit in that seat ever.

At the auto parts store, we waited while a man fussed around in a big book before poking on his computer for a few minutes. Then he walked away and came back holding a Chevy Impala starter in a box. Roger whipped out a credit card—imagine that, a credit card of his own—and we were on our way back to the stalled car.

“Don’t you need tools?” he asked.

I liked it when he looked at me… gave me substance.

I nodded to the back of the Rambler. “Every tool I own’s back there.”

Once we reached his crippled car, I dragged out my toolbox and went to work. For an hour I felt like the king of the world. Roger the Handsome snapped to, handing me this tool or that one on order. And he stood close, watching what I did, which gave me a dozen—a hundred—satisfying glances at his buffed form… his buffed lower form.

That was the shortest hour of my lifetime. Long before I was ready, the starter was in place, he fired the engine, and it caught. Purring like it was rearing to go.

He got out of the Impala as I slammed the hood. His broad smile turned my knees watery.

“You’ve got magic in your fingers, Widge.” He did know my name. “What do I owe you?”

I held up my hands. “Nothing.”

“Aw, come on. It would have cost me a fortune.”

I shook my head. “I don’t want your money, Roger.”

 ****

Jeez, I feel for the guy. Have you ever worshiped someone from afar, especially as a youth? It can be excruciating, can’t it? Well, Widge has his foot in the door now. Let’s see next week if he can wedge something else in, as well.

 Until next week.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.

                                                                                                                                 

Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Happy the Elf

 dontravis.com blog post #529

Image Courtesy of dreamstime.com:


This week, it’s time to wish a merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday season to everyone. But it’s important to remember there are those among us who don’t always share in this time of celebration and good cheer. So take a gander at the following.

 

****

HAPPY THE ELF

I spotted the kid sitting alone on a bench in the far end of the Coronado Mall. He’d chosen a seat with the least foot traffic in the whole mammoth complex. I stood and watched him ignore the squeals of happiness and good Christmas cheer echoing all over the place. Even though I was obviously watching him, he didn’t seem to notice me. Lost in his own loneliness and misery, most likely.

I glanced at my watch. I still had half an hour before I needed to be back at Santa’s throne in the middle of the mall. I walked in front of the kid, and as anticipated, he didn’t even notice me. And I was dressed in a bright green, goofy elves’ costume padded to make me look chubby. I turned and headed directly for him. Good-looking kid around sixteen or seventeen, dark, wavy hair slightly disheveled. I’d bet anything his eyes were the color of dark chocolate M&Ms. When I invaded his space, he lifted his gaze and proved my point. Good clothes, gray chinos and a brown coat with a tear on the sleeve. There was a light dusting of grime on him that would only grow deeper with time.

As I invaded his space, he looked slightly startled to see a five-foot-ten green creature in tights with red stripes circling his legs. When it became obvious I intended to share his bench, he shifted to the far end and started to rise, but I caught his arm.

“I’ve got a problem you can help me with.”

Suspicion—and probably a little fear—claimed his features. “Wh-what’s that?”

“I have more energy bars than I can eat. I’ve got to go back to work in a few minutes, and I don’t want them poking out my costume at awkward places. Can I give you some?”

Something lighted his eyes for just a moment. “Yeah, sure. Guess I can help you out.”

He held out semi-dirty hands as I unloaded six or so energy bars into them. They were for the kids visiting Santa, but I figured he needed them more than those kids.

“T-thanks,” he stuttered.

I eyed him sharply. “You have noticed I’m dressed like the Jolly Green Giant with red banded legs, haven’t you?”

He mustered a smidgen of a smile. “Yeah. Figured you were with that bunch down yonder playing Santa and his Elves.”

“Right you are. I’m the Happy Elf on a dinner break. And you are…?”

“Sam,” he said after a moment’s hesitation.

I held out a clean hand, and he clasped it with a grimy one. “Glad to meet you, Sam. You can call me Happy. Only people who’re pissed at me call me Happy Elf.”

No response. He was withdrawing again.

“Care to share your story?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Do you mind if I take a few guesses?”

“Don’t guess I can stop you.”

“You could get up and walk away. But if you do that, you’ll miss an opportunity to communicate with someone, and my first guess is you don’t have anybody. Right?”

He nodded this time.

“Guess number two. “You haven’t been out on your own for very long.”

He relaxed his lips long enough to say. “A week. Five days, actually.”

“Third guess. You’re homeless.”

That almost brought a sob, but he nodded.

“Guess number four. They threw you out. Probably, your old man.”

He really had trouble with that one, but finally got out the word “Yeah.”

“Kinda rough out there, isn’t it, Sam? Worse this time of year. Albuquerque gets cold at Christmas time, but a guy can survive that. It’s the Christmas spirit all around you that makes it harder. Wish I had a place to offer you, but I don’t. That’s not an excuse, it’s fact.”

“Thanks.”

“You obviously come from a good home.” I paused to reconsider. “Well, what I mean is your clothes are good quality, you’ve got an expensive haircut.” I frowned. “Shoes don’t match the rest of your clothing, but—”

“Guy took them from me last night. Don’t even think they fit him, but he took them anyway. Left me these ratty old tennies.”

“Naw. He took ’em to sell ’em. Make some coins.”

Sam indicated his torn sleeve. “Tore my coat when he tried to take that too. But I hugged myself so tight he couldn’t get to the zipper. So he took my billfold and left. Had everything I owned in the wallet.”

“I get it. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. And the predators rise to the top of the food chain. I’d help you out with some cash, but I won’t get paid for this gig until Friday. I looked at his handsome face haunted by a hangdog look. “You got a foxhole?”

“Foxhole? Oh, you mean a place to sleep. Got a box in an alley… if someone doesn’t take it away from me tonight.”

“You had anything to eat yesterday… today?”

He nodded, and mumbled “hamburger,” blushing as he did so, telling me how he’d gotten the money. He’d sold himself. Probably for the first time.

I leaned back on the bench, my green, padded belly sticking out obscenely. “Care to tell me how you got kicked out?”

His chin dropped lower, and his cheeks really flamed. Once again, he revealed the answer.

“Hey, kid. I’m easy to talk to. Go ahead, tell me. I already have a pretty good idea.”

He looked at me then. For the first time, really. “You do?”

“Sure. You came out to them, didn’t you.”

He bit his lower lip and fought to hold onto his emotions. He nodded.

“And the old man objected.”

“M…my mom too.” A tear hid in those words. “She agreed I was an abomination.”

“But it was him who made the decision.”

His head bobbed up and down.

“So he drove you down to East Central and let you out.” A little silence grew as I let him try to regain control of himself. “You know, Sam,” I said at last, “believe it or not, I know someone just as miserable as you.”

“You do? Who?”

“Your folks. You think you’ve had it bad for the last five days, but I’ll bet they’re suffering as much as you are.”

He shook his head.

“Don’t be fooled. It wasn’t easy on them either. Maybe you’ve all learned something.”

“But… but I haven’t changed. I don’t think I can, Happy. I… I even let a man pick me up and… and….”

“I know. But that was to earn a meal. Doesn’t mean a thing. Forget about it. Well, maybe don’t forget about it, but put it in its proper place. When you came out, you weren’t talking about getting with men for money, you were trying to explain how you felt about someone you know.”

“H-how do you know that?”

I smiled. “I can tell just by looking. Offering yourself to strangers never even crossed your mind until you went hungry for a day or two. But the thing that made you be honest with your family is lots stronger than that. You know what, it’s as strong as what drew your folks together. Just as strong.”

“It is, isn’t it?”

“Damn right.” I smiled. “Elves aren’t supposed to swear, but I needed to make it strong enough so you’d hear. Look, Sam, I can’t offer you a place to stay or money to get by with. But I can offer you one thing that’s just as important.”

“What’s that?”

“This,” I said, holding out my cell phone. “Call home. If nothing else, you’ll hear your mother’s voice once again.”

“But they said—”

“I know what they said. But call and see what they meant.”

After a moment of indecision, Sam took the phone and punched in a number.

I nodded to a bench about twenty feet down the mall. “I’ll wait over there.”

After taking a seat, I watched the attractive young man hesitantly say something into the cell phone. A deep frown claimed his features before morphing into an uncertain smile. I watched the sadness and loneliness fade away as he spoke. Then I saw the moment of crisis when I imagined he was telling one of them—likely his father—that he hadn’t changed. More uncertain moments passed before the kid beamed and held out a fist—thumb up.

Moments later, he came over to return the phone, enthusiasm battling with happiness wrestling with relief painted across his features. “They’re coming for me. They want me to come home. Can you believe it? They… they love me.”

“Did you doubt it?”

He went serious. “Yeah, for a minute. Anyway, thank you, Happy. I wouldn’t have called them if it hadn’t been for you. Don’t know how to thank you enough.” He clasped my hand and then gave me an awkward hug.”

Sam headed for the mall main entrance, still thanking me, pausing now and then to give me a huge smile, a thumbs up, and a heartfelt, “Merry Christmas.”.

My pleasure for him didn’t carry me far. He wasn’t yet out of sight before I sank back on the bench, wrapped in my own memories. My dad had driven me to what he called “Indian Alley,” and literally pushed me out of the car before driving away in a rage.

I’d had similar experiences to the ones Sam described, except worse. For about a week, an older, stronger youth had claimed me as his “bitch,” raping me at will. I only escaped his clutches when a younger, fresher mark showed up. I managed a phone call or two, but my father hung up the phone when he found it was me on the other end of the line, and my mother was too afraid of him to help me.

In time, I found how to survive without debasing myself. I took odd jobs and was able to afford a rooming house where I could rest and clean up and clean my clothes. After a year, it wasn’t all that bad, except for the loneliness. I really missed my little sister.

The guy I wrecked my life for by confessing my love for him to my parents? So far as I know, he never looked for me. Like the bully, he’d probably found someone else.

The kicker? I’d seen my old man pick up a kid a time or two. To make matters worse, he saw me and knew I was onto him. That was the final nail in the coffin. I never even tried to phone home again.

But hey, I’m Happy the Elf. At least for now. So it’s time to go blow some happiness toward all the little guys and gals who still believed in the spirit of Christmas.

 

****

Makes a guy think, doesn’t it. At least, I hope so. Everyone have a Merry Christmas or a Happy holiday season. Put away the cares of life for a brief instant and celebrate.

 Until next week.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.

                                                                                                                                 

Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

And the Widow Wept (Part Three of Three Parts)

dontravis.com blog post #528


 Thanks for your comments, guys Appreciate them. Today we wind up the story with a very long ending that might should have been done in two parts. But I wanted resolution, so here it is.

****

AND THE WIDOW WEPT

I clearly remember the day my life changed forever. Still at the police station, I answered my cell phone and heard the unmistakable sound of Chess’s baritone stutter, “Uncle Drew, you…you b-better come. It’s Dad. He’s dead.”

“What happened?”

“Dead.”

“Chess, what happened? Accident? What?”

“Killed.”

“Call 911 and ask for an ambulance. I’m on the way.”

I closed the call and headed out the door, not even bothering to say a word to my partner. Didn’t need to, he followed on my six. Once we were moving and heading north on I25, I filled him in.

“Where in North Albuquerque Acres do they live?” he asked. I gave him the address. “That’s probably in the county.”

“You’re right. It is. Phone the Bernalillo County Sheriff and fill them in. Tell them we’ll be on hand because of a personal connection to the victim.”

“Are you sure there is a victim.”

“Chess Mendes said his father was dead… killed.”

The county must have had someone in the vicinity because they were already on site and tape was up by the time Detective Jon Murphy and I arrived. Chess immediately broke away from a county deputy and raced to meet us.

“Uncle Drew, thank God!”

“Settle down. Let’s go back to the deputy so you can finish giving your statement, okay?”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever you say.”

Our shields got us through the crime scene tape and into the presence of the deputy, who’s name tag read “Ramirez.” We introduced ourselves, told of our interest, and asked what happened.

Ramirez decided to be cooperative. “The victim, identified as Zorn Allen Mendes, age 36, was found dead by this young man in the family den at approximately five-fifteen this afternoon. He called you, Detective Gainer, instead of the county. I understand you relayed the message to the sheriff, and here we are.”

Things were beginning to straighten themselves out until the county undersheriff arrived and tossed us out on our ears. Zorn was a prominent attorney, and the sheriff wanted the case for his department, not the Albuquerque Police. The Mendes residence would be declared a crime scene, so I suggested a hotel to Chess and asked him to call me when he was free to do so. Lynnann and the other children were being interviewed inside, so I didn’t get an opportunity to speak to them.

Jon and I mulled over what we’d learned from Chess and the deputy, Ramirez. Lynnann claimed to have been at the country club for a dinner with friends. That’s where she supposedly was when Chess called her about the tragedy he discovered after returning from an early date at the local swimming pool.

Edwin had attended a soccer game with friends, and Zorn, himself, had apparently played a round of golf at the country club, declined to join his wife and her friends for dinner, and returned to the family home, a large mansion set on a three-acre estate in Albuquerque’s Far Northeast Heights, with his daughter. So the twelve-year-old had been in the house when her father died. Upstairs and playing in her room, according to Chess.

There was no sign of a break-in, so Zorn knew his killer… or it was a family member. Or one of their two domestics. Or a host of others. That gave me a start. If our situation came to light, I’d be added to that list. No one else had such a “personal” connection as I did.

As soon as we arrived back at the station, I caught my lieutenant as he was leaving and asked for a conference. Thereafter, I detailed my relationship with Zorn Mendes to my boss so it was on the record, and my partner so he wasn’t blindsided. I had no fear of being seriously considered as my lover’s killer because Jon and I had spent the afternoon together, questioning people in a developing white crime case that was likely to become headlines. The possible bribery of a juror on a murder trial panel.

Chess didn’t call until late and sounded so despondent that I ignored convention and went to his room. When he opened the door, backlit by lamps inside, I was momentarily taken aback. It could have been Zorn inviting me in.

Uncle Drew,” he said, using our handshake to lever me inside and close the door. He dry-washed his face and started over. “Drew, I can’t believe it! Dad’s dead. Gone.”

I drew him into my arms and held him tight, as I’d done many times over the years as he grew up. “I know it seems like everything’s falling apart, but you’ll be all right. You all will.”

His voice, muffled by my shoulder, was faint. “Even Cicily?”

I held him at arm’s length. “She’ll likely have the hardest time of it because she’s the youngest, but with your support, she’ll be all right.” I paused and then stuck my nose where it shouldn’t have gone. “Do you have any idea of what happened? Was anyone else in the house?”

He shook his head. “Not that we know of. Just Dad and Cicily.” He shrugged. “But who knows? The servants were off that day, and there was always someone coming around.”

“Did Cicily hear anything? She seemed almost dazed when I saw her at the memorial service.”

“She says not. But I do know she saw Dad’s body when they brought her downstairs. She shrieked and went to pieces.”

“Who was first to get home after you called?”

“Mother…thank goodness. She was there when Cicily fell apart.”

“How did Lynnann react?”

Chess’ eyes hardened. “Like it was nothing. Oh, she said all the right things, even cried, but there was nothing behind the words… or the tears,”

His attitude didn’t surprise me. Zorn had long ago confided his marriage was one of convention, held together only by the need for a “loving” family in the background and the presence of the children. He’d threatened divorce, as had Lynnann, more than once over the years. Lately, he’d remained in the marriage only because of the children, especially Cicily.

“My parents despised one another, Drew,” Chess said. “She hated him more, but I understood.”

“What do you mean?”

“He had you. She ran around too, but she didn’t have anyone permanent. So she poured all of her attention on my sister and totally screwed her up. Made her mad at the world… her world, anyway. Sis and Dad had been having awful squabbles lately.”

His words sailed over my head as I realized what he’d said earlier. He knew? I didn’t even try to deny it. “Who else knew? About Zorn and… me?”

He shrugged. “Everyone. When Mother found out, she made sure we all knew Dad was the philanderer in the family.” He looked shocked and grabbed my shoulders. “I mean—”

I know what you mean, Chess. How did she find out?”

“That’s the one thing she never told us, but I suspect she hired a private detective to get something on him.”

She obviously found something. Wonder why she never acted on it?” I dismissed that thought and moved on. “What was everyone’s reaction to her accusation?”

“Edwin just shrugged. You’re his Uncle Drew, and she wasn’t going to bust that up. Cicily, I don’t know. She never talked about it, at least to me.”

“And you?”

He avoided my eyes for a moment before staring directly into them. “It’s the reason why I’m included in the suspect pool.”

“What do you mean?”

He studied a bland commercial painting with a lot of blue and orange hanging on the wall for a long moment. “I was jealous.”

“Jealous?”

He shifted his gaze back to me, his big, brown eyes haunted. “He had what I wanted.”

I had trouble drawing a breath. “And what was that?”

“You. I’ve been jealous of him since I hit puberty even though I didn’t know why. Not until Mom said it out loud. He was your lover. I wanted that for me.”

He moved before I got over my surprise. I allowed the kiss to linger longer than I should have before gently pushing him away.

“Chess, we’re all in an emotional stew right now. Once things have settled down, we’ll talk about it. But not right now, okay?”

“No, it’s not okay. Now’s when I need you, but I understand. You need the time, not me. But I’ll be here whenever you’re ready.”

I hadn’t known a nineteen-year-old could be so mature.

****

The county sheriff’s office never solved the Zorn Mendes case, most likely because they were not willing to consider the obvious. Cicily never quite recovered from her father’s loss. She wasn’t exactly catatonic, but she wasn’t far removed. Eventually, it became obvious to even Lynnann that she needed help. Couch visits with psychiatrists didn’t help, and six months after Zorn’s death, she was admitted to a psychiatric ward in a noted hospital. Her mother was inconsolable.

Edwin transferred to a college back east at the first moment possible. We had a long talk before he left, reaffirming our friendship and fondness for one another. He made it clear he was leaving in order to get away from his mother who had become something of a shrew… his word, not mine.

Not long after that, Chess came to my house and sat opposite me on the couch. After studying the ottoman between us, he lifted those beautiful, brown eyes. “I don’t know about you, but I’m ready.”

My heart took a lurch. My smile built slowly. “So am I, Chess. So am I.”

Then he was in my arms. His kiss was reminiscent of another, but definitely had its own taste, its own distinct thrill.

After we drew apart, he gave a smile. “By the way, I told my mother.”

“Told her what?”

“That I was yours, or soon would be.” Then he went about undressing me as if he were experienced at the task.

And the widow wept.

 ****

Now you know as well as I do, that my intrepid investigator BJ Vinson and his sidekick Paul would never have ended a story this way. Nonetheless, there it is. We don’t know why little Cicily took a club to the back of her father’s head, but we can be pretty sure it was something her mother carped about again and again. So was Cicily guilty of murder… or was her mother? All Detective Gainer knows is that it’s not his case and that in its own perverse way, justice has been served.

Hope you liked the story.

 Next week? I haven't a clue.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/ambxgy7e5ndmimk/CutiePieMurders%5BThe%5D.zip?dl=0

 My personal links:

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.

 

Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time. 

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