Thursday, October 26, 2023

Lovestick (Part 1 of 2 Parts) blog post #625

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I hope you enjoyed the story of Buddy, the gray squirrel buddy of my childhood. It brought back a lot of memories.


This week, we’ll go with a purely fictional piece—or is is?





By Don Travis

“Hey, Lovestick, where you going?”

Larry Lovestock gritted his teeth and turned to Gil Robbins. Everyone thought it funny when Gil had corrupted Larry’s last name into “stick” from “stock.” Everyone except Larry Lovestock. To complicate matters, Gil was his best friend. Had been ever since the Robbins family moved to town last year and the two of them met in homeroom and later on the football field. They’d clicked right away.

But Gil was also his greatest tormentor, twisting his last name relentlessly. Wouldn’t have mattered a couple of years ago, but seniors in high school—at Trinity High, at least—always called one another by surnames. And it didn’t take long for everyone to follow their quarterback’s lead and call him Lovestick.

Now he faced his friend, or was it tormentor? Friendly tormentor? Tormentor friend? Didn’t really matter, once Gil smiled at him, Larry’s resentment melted away. “Heading home.”

“Let’s hang.”

“And do what?”

“Nothing. Just hang.

“Got homework.”

“Me too, so let’s hang and do homework.”

Seemed reasonable, so they went to the park and claimed a vacant picnic table, settling opposite one another on stone benches.

Gil threw him a lopsided grin. “Be the earliest I’ve got my homework done all year. Hope it doesn’t set a precedent for my mom. Wouldn’t wanta get a rep as an ‘early bird.’”

Early bird was locker room talk for a guy with no staying power, and Gil smirked at his double entendre, unconsciously preening a little as he did so. Larry felt a shiver play down his back, making him wonder once again why he reacted so physically to his buddy. A bead of sweat popped on his upper lip at that uncomfortable thought. Was there something wrong with him? Did… did Gil mean something by giving him that suggestive nickname? Could… could….

He swiped at his upper lip and drilled the page of his algebra book with a stare that ought to have burned a hole in it. Gil started bitching about one of the problems, and the world returned to normal.’


Larry looked forward to Friday night because he and Gil were double dating. They were taking their gals to see The Lion King. If past was precedent--or was it prologue?--they'd park out on the mesa and smooch for a while before heading home before curfew. Given the way his thoughts trended the other day, he wondered which meant more to him. Being with Gil—even if it meant sharing him with Marcie—or his own date with Helen Sweetwater. Everyone called her Sweet—because of her last name—but just to be different, he called her Water—because of her last name—to which she responded, “That was sweet.”

Gil picked Larry up in his snazzy maroon, ’ninety-five Chevy Baretta GT, and they headed out to collect the girls. Their dates always liked to sit beside one another in the movies, separating him from Gil so that they couldn’t talk much except by leaning across the girls for a pithy comment now and then.

Afterward, they headed for the mesa where Gil and Marcie proceeded to heat up the front seat while he did his best to boil Water in the back. To be honest, he kept glancing up front to see how Gil was doing… probably more than he should have. When the other couple disappeared from sight, he figured Gil was gonna score at last. That revved Larry up enough to give Water some quality attention.

Things were getting serious in the back seat until Marcie’s voice from the front said she had to get home. When called on to do so, Water agreed, although Larry thought she agreed a little reluctantly. Nonetheless, in short order, they headed back to town for the goodnight routine with the girls.

As soon as they pulled away after dropping their dates at home, Gil pounded the steering wheel in frustration.

“Stick, I was so close! She was feeling me up something crazy, then she just demanded to go home.”

“Probably to keep from giving in,” Larry said.

“How about you?” Gil asked, that loopy, crooked grin on his lips. “You close to scoring?”

He nodded, feeling like one of the guys. “This close.”

“Screw it, I gotta do something about it!” With that pronouncement, Gil headed back for the mesa. Soon they were parked in the same area, but this time without a girl in sight.

“Man, I gotta take care of this. You want me to get out of the car and give you some privacy?”

Larry shook his head while struggling to get the words out. “Naw. You just take care of what’s ailing you, okay?”

“You too!” Gil said, ripping open his Jeans. Before Larry could move, his buddy’s britches were down around his knees, and his love knob waived around in the air as if hunting for something.

Gil’s demand, freed Larry from his paralysis. He undid his slacks and slid them down.

“Man, that’s an awesome lovestick,” Gil said, gripping him briefly.

Larry about fainted from the touch, but Gil grasped himself and began working on his problem, so Larry followed suit. No one said a word for a good quarter-hour. Nothing but grunts and groans disturbed the night, until Gil let out a loud, heartfelt “Ahhhhhh!” A moment later, Larry expressed his own pleasure.

He felt awkward as he cleaned himself with a handkerchief, but Gil didn’t seem embarrassed at all. He chattered nonchalantly about the clandestine event as if it had no real meaning except as a means of relief.

When Larry went to bed that night, his head was full of misgivings. Especially when he physically reacted at recalling Gil’s hand on his manhood for one brief moment. Larry’s breath caught in his throat. Geez… was he one of those guys?


Well, is Larry learning something about himself? Wonder what next week brings.

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:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Buddy the Gray Squirrel (Part 2 of 2 Parts) blog post #624

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I’ve been posting this blog for something over twelve years, and I can count on one hand the times I’ve missed a posting time. It’s always been because of illness or some other emergency, but this time, I simply let it get away from me. I’ll blame it on my TV going out and an ongoing fight to get a new one delivered and set up… no mean task for the electronically challenged. Took a solid week.


You have my deepest apology for my mistake.


Here we go again with my tale of Buddy. As I said last week, this is therapy for me.





A Biographical Story in Two Parts

I only recall going on one other squirrel hunt in my life, and that was in the following spring, which seemed no less freezing at that time of the morning than the previous fall. We didn’t bag any squirrels that hunt, although my father did find a baby squirrel so tiny, it still didn’t have a coat of fur.

He held the naked little creature in his hand. “You want it?”

“Why was it just lying on the ground?” I asked.

“Something probably happened to its mama, and the little guy got pushed out of the nest somehow.”

“So the mama’s gone?” I asked.

“Most likely. You wanna take it, or do you want me to put it out of its misery?”

“No!” I said, a ripple of fear rolling up my back. “Don’t kill him.”

“If we take him home, you’ll have to take care of him.”


“Feed him with a bottle dispenser.”


“You know, the kinda bottle cap you use to dispense medicine. Has a rubber thing on top to squeeze.”

“Oh. I can do that. What’ll I feed him?”

“Milk, at first.”

So my dad put the helpless little creature in his warm jacket pocket, and we headed home for an adventure that lasted a couple of years.

For the next few nights, I got up almost hourly to take the little creature—which we named Buddy—and fed him milk through a dispenser cap. Each time I crawled out of bed, I was certain the squirrel would be dead, but he persevered… and grew.

After he was weaned off milk, my mom took over the task of feeding the little guy at more reasonable daylight hours. I don’t recall what she used to nourish him, but it worked. He kept growing. We were reluctant to let him outside for fear a hawk or something would get him. So he lived in the house.

He slept with me at night, and roamed the house… usually hovering close as I played. Sometimes, he played with me. Those were the days when I was fascinated by little plastic dinosaurs, humans, and other animals. The dining room windowsill was my favorite hangout, and Buddy liked it too. Often as not, I’d get into the swing of a play-story in my head, when he’d butt in, scattering my story characters all over the place and demanding his share of attention.

Surprisingly my mother put up with this… until Buddy got so big that climbing the curtains tended to rip them to shreds. Then she put her foot down. Outside.

That was a catastrophe, at least to me. How would he live? Something would get him. Eat him. (Surprisingly enough, my father hadn’t suggested that we do exactly that.) She pointed out that we had five oak trees in the yard, all of which could be reached from the roof of the house except for one.

So, sniffing back tears, I took my four-legged pal and placed him on the bole of one of the oaks. He froze for a moment, and then scampered up the tree and disappeared into the foliage. Convinced I’d seen the last of my friend, I waved a sad goodbye and went back into the house.

How wrong I was. Buddy thrived in that environment. There were more acorns than one squirrel could handle. A faucet in the front yard leaked enough so a small puddle at the front afforded him water whenever he had the need. He hid in the trees and chattered happily at anyone who entered the yard.

One day, as I played beneath a tree, I was startled when something fell onto me. And there was buddy, perched on my shoulder, as big as you please. And he stayed right there, adding his chatter to mine as I went about whatever game I was playing. And that established a pattern. I’d come outside, and he’d come for a visit… and a treat, of course, something my mother concocted for him.

I think Buddy had been with us for something like a year when one of my mom’s uncles gave us Boots, a beautiful collie that was reputed to be the best squirrel dog in Arkansas. (Don’t know how she’d stack up in Oklahoma, where we lived.) Wherever she stood in the world of squirrel dogs, she was down a few notches by the time she went back home.

Of course, Boots discovered Buddy the day—probably the hour—she came to the house. And Buddy discovered her, remaining high in the trees and venting his spleen in agitated squirrel chatter while she barked non-stop. No more riding on my shoulder or playing with me. He stayed in the trees.

Then a game of another sort began. One oak tree at the back of the house leaned quite noticeably. One day, we heard Boots putting up such a racket, we went outside to investigate. There was the dog jumping and wiggling in agitation, and there was the squirrel sitting on the bole of the tree just out of reach, resting on his hind legs, forelegs folded as if in prayer while he nattered at the frustrated dog. They played that game often after that. I’d see Boots getting a running start at that oak and run halfway up the slanted trunk while the squirrel scrambled to get out of the way. The little rodent enjoyed the game. The canine did not. I’m sure she was worthless as a hunting dog by the time she went home. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she was more determined than ever to help catch any squirrel she could.

Buddy was with us for around two years or so. Then one day it dawned on me that I hadn’t heard any chatter and hadn’t been joined at play for quite some time. We never found a body or any clue to what happened to my childhood friend. I can only hope he expanded his horizons and discovered a seductive female of his own species and lived a long and fruitful life post his childhood at the Travis household.


And so ends the story of me and my rodent pal, Buddy. At the time, I was a sickly kid and a loner, so the little squirrel’s friendship was especially meaningful to me. Thank you for living through it with me again.

 Again, my apologies for missing my posting time.

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:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Buddy the Gray Squirrel (Part 1 of 2 Parts) blog post #623

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The impetus  of the story for the next two weeks is sort of complicated. My father has been gone for many, many years (he died of a heart attack when he was only fifty-three), but for some reason, he’s been on my mind a great deal lately. Most of my memories of him are not great ones. We all know some marriages are a mixed bag, but I don’t believe most of us consider father/son relationships that way. Ours was. For the most part, I blame it on my childhood tuberculosis and dismiss it as: he was physical; I was cerebral. Naturally, it’s far more complicated than that. The following doesn’t attempt to explain our tortured relationship, merely highlights a bit of it.

 Bear with me. This is therapy.




A Biographical Story in Two Parts

My father was a sportsman. Football, basketball, baseball, it didn’t matter, so long as it had a ball attached to the game.

I was not.

Dad was a man’s man, hunter, fisherman, gambler, drinker, good-old-boy, hail-fellow-well-met.

I was not.

I was tubercular—at aged six—and grew up as far away from sports fields as I could get. The library was my dueling arena, not courts and turfs and fields. Any wonder then we grew up with a strained relationship?

Not that he didn’t try. Tried to make me into his image, that is. I don’t know how many times he dragged me out of bed and hustled me off to sit—cold and unhappy—in some boat with a fishing line over the side wondering what I’d do if some poor bass grabbed my bait. Never happened. I do remember catching a sun perch once, but that was the extent of it.

The best fishing trip I ever took—one I about halfway enjoyed—was on a warm summer day and extended overnight. Turned out, it was an excuse for a poker game. Dad and five or six of his buddies came in off the lake and started playing, with me left to stare at the men, the woods, the water, or whatever. I was too chicken to go exploring on my own, especially after nighfall. But I soon discovered something to occupy my time and hold my interest. One of the players asked me to bring him a beer from the cooler. I did, and was rewarded with a one-dollar tip. Someone else asked, and rewarded me similarly. By the time I ran out of steam and headed for bed in the back of Dad’s pickup, I had fifty of those one-dollar bills stuffed in my pockets. That was more money than I’d ever seen in my whole life. I was rich. But as soon as I settled into my blankets for what was left of the night, my dad showed up and talked me out of it, saying he’d had a bad run of luck and needed it to finance his recovery. Needless to say, that was the last I saw of my fifty dollars. Last mention of it too.

Frog gigging (a big thing down in my part of Oklahoma) was the worst. Somebody’d stab one of the unfortunate creatures, and sometimes I’d have to crawl into the water to make sure it was firmly impaled before drawing it into the boat. Then—ugh!—I’d have to rip the poor frog’s carcass off the prongs. Not for me.

My father managed to get me at bat in a softball game once—as a substitute for some other guy. The pitcher threw, I closed my eyes and swung… and hit a two bagger. I was so shocked, they had to tell me to run. The pitcher threw two more outs, so I never got past second base.

Dad insisted I go him hunting with him, and the worst jaunts were for squirrels. He hunted squirrels in the cold of autumn, and in the mountains, the falls were cold. I was skinny as a rail, and the wind whipped right through me, didn’t matter how many layers of clothing I had on. Miserable from start to finish.

On one such trip, Dad planted me at the foot of a big oak and told me to go on watch for the squirrel we heard chattering but couldn’t see. He went on to a spot he considered more likely and was soon out of sight.

I sat on the cold ground, as uncomfortable as could be, and concentrated on keeping warm. An impossible task, by the way. I had no interest in or intention of watching for that noisy critter hidden somewhere in the tree limbs. But after a while, when I caught movement in the branches, I automatically threw up my single-shot, twenty-two rifle, closed my eyes, and pulled the trigger.

To my astonishment, the little rodent fell out of the tree and landed on the ground with a plop. That’s where my dad found me, standing over the dead squirrel gaping at it. He’d heard the gunshot and came to investigate. Should have been a real moment for me. A turning point for us. I’d been man enough (even though I was still a child) to bag and carry home dinner for my family.

Not for me. I’d killed something I didn’t want to kill, and now it lay still and stiff and bleeding on the ground. He made me gingerly pick it up by the tail and put it in a bag with another couple of dead animals, and we went home.

That evening, we had squirrel for dinner. And my poor victim was served to me on a platter. The critter was almost inedible because my lucky shot had entered one eye and run down the spine, splintering vertebrae throughout the pitiful creature. It’s a wonder I didn’t get lead poisoning from the few bites I managed to get down. My dad, of course, ate my victim with relish.

I only recall going on one other squirrel hunt in my life, and that was in the following spring. Next week, I’ll tell you about that one and introduce you to Buddy the Gray Squirrel.                                                                                                                           


Hope you stuck with me on my journey back into my past. The second part of this particular trip is much lighter.

See you next Thursday.

 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:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.


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


Thursday, October 5, 2023

Gotta Soldier On blog post #622

 Image Courtesy of Clipart Of:


The lesson from last week’s post… don’t marry a harpy.

 The Singaporeans are still checking out the site big time. Appreciate their interest and invite comments.

 This week, just a short story. A little longer than flash fiction, but not much. Hope you enjoy.






Tweaking the bow tie and rolling my shoulders to settle the tux jacket more comfortably, I inspected myself in the mirror. Had to look just right for my retirement dinner. My wife Mabel had elected to go ahead of me to the Windhaven Hotel with her closest friend, who was the wife of one of my senior vice presidents. The one who would succeed me, in fact. Joe Horgan was a good choice… my choice.

After a final inspection, I turned away from the mirror. Jacob James Childerson still cut a figure at something under fifty. I still had a good number of productive years ahead of me. So why retire, most of my friends asked. Because I’d had enough. Wanted to do something else… what, I wasn’t sure. I liked to paint—landscapes mostly—and was decent at it. Or maybe write. I had plenty to share after taking Childerson Electronics from a small computer repair shop to a business with a thousand employees and multi-million-dollar contracts spread around the globe. Not repairing computers, of course, but by advancing their capacity manyfold through a new chip I’d invented.

Satisfied with the way I looked, I went downstairs just in time to see the limo the company had sent pull up into the circular driveway. I called to our maid Hilda that I was leaving and stepped outside before the driver could even get out of the vehicle. He introduced himself—the limo was a rental—as I ushered myself into the back seat, and we whisked away for the twenty-minute drive to the hotel.

Except it didn’t work out that way. As we approached the bridge across the river, the motor began to knock. In the middle of the structure spanning the waterway, it decided to quit altogether. The obviously embarrassed driver bailed out and stuck his nose under the hood. I joined him as traffic rushed around us.

“Just call for another limo,” I suggested.

“Think I can get it running before another one can get here.”

That didn’t work out either. My wife had called twice, and I was on the verge of trying to hail a cab when the motor finally caught. Didn’t sound too healthy to my inexperienced ears—I was into electronics, not mechanics—but it moved the vehicle along okay. The driver nursed it along until we were ten blocks from the hotel. Then it died with a finality that was evident.

“I’ll walk from here,” I said. “Be quicker than trying to catch a cab.”

Glancing at my watch, I exited the limo and made it to the sidewalk safely. Deciding running wouldn’t look dignified—especially in an expensive tuxedo—I high-stepped it toward the Windhaven. I’d only gone two blocks when a black-clad man ran out of a store and crashed into me, sending me flat on my back onto the rough concrete, my hand clutching my right jaw where he’d elbowed me.

I sat up to take inventory and look for the careless oaf. He was nowhere in sight, and my fellow pedestrians all scurried away, eyes averted. I got to my feet, lamenting a huge rip on the left sleeve of my jacket. Brushing away the dirt as best I could, I took a few limping steps before the cramps let up and then started to run. I was so late the dinner would be over before I got there to make my speech.

The police sirens intruded on my consciousness as I approached the alley at the back of the hotel. I’d cut in there. They had a bell to summon an attendant at the rear entrance, so I could save some time.

I heard a screech of tires and a raised voice as I turned into the alley. More yelling. Loud footsteps. No matter, the bell was within reach. I’d just given it a short ring when somebody crashed into me, sending me to the ground. This time, I rolled and crashed against a garbage can. The force of the blow popped the lid off the receptacle and toppled it over, dumping smelly goo all over me. There was a perfectly good dumpster just feet away, who needed a garbage can?

While still dealing with that, rough hands dragged me to my feet and pinned my hands behind my back.

“What’s going on?” I demanded. “Let me go. Get your hands off me.”

“What’s going on is robbery and murder, buddy.”

“What robbery? What murder?”

The policeman, a pug-faced ape running to fat punched a fist into my chest. “Robbery of the Diamond Liquor Store, and the murder of the owner. And if the security guard dies, you’re going down for two murders.”

“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why are you arresting me.

“Witnesses saw you running away from the store. Plenty of witnesses.”

A second cop grabbed my face in his grubby hand and turned my head to the side. “Looks like Lou got in a punch before you shot him. Lou Grissom’s a pal of mine, you dirty bastard. You’re lucky I don’t handle this my own way.”

“Who… who’s Lou Grissom?” I sputtered. It was getting hard to hang onto my dignity.

“The security guard,” the first policeman said. “He was an ex-cop. Lotsa friends on the force. You shot the wrong guy, you son-of-a-bitch.”

“What’s going on here?” a voice demanded. We all turned to face the manager of the Windhaven. The hotel attendant who’d answered my ring and summoned him stood at his side.

“Just dealing with a robber and a killer, Mr. Ratchet. We’ll be out of your hair in a minute.”

The manager stepped forward. “You’ve made a mistake. This is Mr. Jacob Childerson, President and Chairman of Childerson Electronics. I doubt he robbed or killed anyone.”

The cops settled down and allowed me to explain about the man who’d run into me outside of what turned out to be Diamond Liquors. When they were finally satisfied, Ratchet had the attendant brush me off as best he could.

“You have to hurry, Mr. Childerson,” he said. The dinner is over, and everyone is waiting for your speech.” He stood back and frowned, his nose twitching. “They’ll just have to wait a bit longer. That tux is ruined… ripped and stained.”

I waved him away. “I’ll explain what happened. Just get me to the ballroom.”

When I entered the big room, packed with officers and employees of my company and their mates, everyone stood and applauded. Then as I stepped to the podium, the applause died, replaced by audible gasps.

Joe Horgan’s jaw dropped. He frowned uncertainly, then smiled and let out a laugh. “Jake, you old dog, you’ve only been out of a job for a day, you haven’t had time to become a bum yet.”

The audience roared with laughter. My lifelong reputation as a practical joker had caught up with me. Nothing to do but go with it. Soldier on, you know.

I stepped to the microphone and told what had happened, putting a humorous spin on it. Everyone gasped and oohed and aahed and laughed. It wasn’t the speech I’d intended, but it worked well, I think. Like I said, a guy’s gotta soldier on.

Only thing was… when I glanced around, everyone at the head table had retreated a safe distance. Guess they figured I’d carried things a little too far by rolling around in garbage.

Mabel told me later—after we arrived home in separate cars I might add—it was my finest hour.


Birds of a feather, I say.

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:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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


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