Friday, July 18, 2014

Ridiculous Story Hour

Welcome to Ridiculous Story Hour here at The Crooked Clothesline, featuring another recycled post. This was originally written as an assignment with a strictly enforced, crippling word limit for an online writing class. The two stars are silly characters previously created for an altogether different story during the madness of National Novel Writing Month. I hope you'll enjoy...

Through the bug-encrusted windshield, fifty-four year old, Agatha Lovelost watched as the woods of southern Indiana grew denser. She became more and more enveloped by the very adversary with whom she must contend before her prize was won. Ah, but 1959 was going to be her year. She trained her bold gaze on the husky young man in the driver's seat, an American who had answered her classified ad for a field assistant with his own vehicle.  Kevin appeared to be gentle and soft-spoken, someone she could knead and shape as necessary.

"Pull over, lad." She climbed out of the car, stretched her manly frame to its full six feet and strode to the back of the car. "We must hike into the remotest part of the wood...into the forest primeval."

"Sure, Miss Lovelost, but this seems as good a place as any to observe flying squirrels."

"Indeed..." Agatha thought quickly. "But if we were able to achieve this location by simply motoring in, others might do likewise. We mustn't allow our work to be disrupted by a truckload of beastly hunters, raping and pillaging!"

"But I don't think...well, okay, sure."

They hiked south for more than two hours. Agatha stopped abruptly, her green eyes trained on a strange arrangement of broken tree limbs. 

"We shall set up base camp here, then do a bit of scouting."

"I betcha' we'll see plenty of flying squirrels after dark!"

"I must confess, old chap...I have deceived you. I've not come all the way from England to watch a squirrel foraging nuts. I seek the elusive creature known to your red man as Sasquatch."

"Bigfoot?" Kevin raked his fingers through his Brylcreemed curls. "Ah, gee, Miss Lovelost! There's no such thing! I'm a zoology major.  At least, I would be if I had the money to go to school. Point is, I took this job for the field experience. Now, I hate to hurt your feelings but I can't put 'Hunted Bigfoot' on my resum√©. It would make me look foolish!"

"Quite right, my lad.  You are free to go. No hard feelings."

He wavered a moment and then, as she had hoped, dropped his backpack to the ground.

"Sheesh, I'd have to be a real heel to leave a woman alone in the backwoods. But count me out of that Sasquatch business!"

At three-thirty in the morning, all was silent in the camp. The flying squirrels had sailed home to the safety of their rented woodpecker holes. In the distance, a pack of coyotes yipped like a woodland acapella group. There was a violent rustling in a nearby cluster of bushes.  From out of the limberlost burst a wild-eyed Agatha with twigs and leaves tangled in her graying blonde bob. She groped her way to Kevin's tent and unfastened the flap.

"I say, my boy, is this a good time?"

Kevin must have thought Bigfoot himself was addressing him, judging by the unmanly scream that rang through the treetops.

"Splendid, you're awake! Follow me!"

Several minutes later, they both stood on the bank of a small stream. Kevin sported untied hiking boots, striped pajamas, and a dumbstruck expression as he stared down at the enormous footprint of a bipedal humanoid. Agatha clapped him on the back.

"A believer now, eh? Soon National Geographic will be begging me for a pictorial spread and Louis Leakey can choke on his Olduvai dust!"

By the time the sun was up, Agatha had checked off several items on the day's agenda.

Only one item remained:

Later that morning, as they fought their way through the thicket under the increasing heat of the sun, a thought occurred to Kevin.

"You got a gun with you, right?"

"Good heavens, man! I intend these creatures no harm. It's only Leakey I'd like to murder."

A strange sound reverberated through the treetops. Agatha threw an arm up to signal a halt.

"Does that sound like two rocks being struck together?" she whispered.

"Maybe. Why?" Kevin whispered back.

"It's a classic sign. Smell that?"

Sniffing the air, he instantly gagged.

"Another classic sign," Agatha informed him.

Silently, she bid him follow. The striking sound rang out erratically, intermingled with the birdsong above their heads. They entered a clearing to find a small wooden structure several yards away.

"Looks to be a primitive shelter, perhaps built by your famous pioneers."

"Sheesh, get a load of that stench! It's getting stronger!"

Agatha held up her hand for silence, her eyes rounded. The striking had ceased.

"Ready the Kodachrome, lad."

In the thicket, a twig cracked. Something was moving toward them. Kevin's hands shook as he fumbled for the camera that hung around his neck.

"Whatever you see," Agatha commanded, "no matter how disagreeable, you must record this historic moment!"

A wild thrashing agitated the underbrush. Kevin couldn't stop the camera from shaking.

No matter the outcome, Agatha assured herself, he will regret throwing me over for that cow, Goodall!

She lifted her chin to meet the angry force that was bursting out of the treeline. Kevin, squeezing his eyes closed but keeping the camera aimed, threw himself in front of Agatha to shield her. However, the image he snapped was not that of a savage beast but a tall, skinny, unshaven man in worn clothing, pointing a shotgun.

"Looka' here, law man!" the man hollered as he advanced, "Ya' ain't got no call to be a'trespassin' on this here lan'. Ain't no still in these parts. Now you two fellers jes' step away from my outhouse and be on yer way, if'n ya' know what's good for ya'."

A swig of Agatha's scotch was required to convince the man they weren't interested in his still and the rest of the bottle to persuade him to pose for journalistic photos. Agatha was disappointed to learn that he was married but she rallied at the thought of possibly selling the story to National Geographic. Furthermore, her rendezvous with Bigfoot mustn't be postponed. As she surveyed the land from Jedediah's cabin door, she heard the forest calling for a rematch.

**Nature photos by Timothy Christopher Bastek, stolen by his mother with his kind permission.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Over Seven Billion Lines Open, No Waiting

Some twenty years ago, my sister and her husband had the audacity to spend two years of my life in Sweden.  My sister is, as Cassandra Austen described her own sister Jane, "the sun of my life." 

My world stopped rotating with a violent jolt. I was stuck on one side of the planet while the sunshine, my best friend, was on the other side.

For you young'uns who don't remember, back then we cave dwellers communicated by telephones bolted to kitchen walls. So during this time of separation, my sister and I were forced to rack up the world's most horrendous long-distance phone bill. This was because it was heart-rending for the flow of conversation and commiseration and relation to be severed. When I was forced to hang up, either by my then-husband's distressed looks or the phone company's more effective
"interruption of service," it was always with an aching for more of my sister. I remember one day wheezing with laughter
 as we joked around about how great it would be if we could each have a tiny phone surgically implanted in one ear so we NEVER had to hang up. Then at three in the morning, if one of us wanted to talk to the other, she only had to whisper, " awake?" 

Of course, this isn't as funny since the advent of the Bluetooth but at the time we thought it was ground-breakingly hilarious.

The point is this mind-blowing "technology" has always been available between us and God.  He's right here. For each and every one of us.

Psalm 139:8-10 says, "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."

His love, companionship, comfort, and guidance are never interrupted.  He is with you  - in the car, at the kitchen sink, in the hospital room - and ready to listen.

Not only is God available to hear your prayers any time, any place but He WANTS to hear your prayers. 

Isaiah 30:18 says, "The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a god of justice.  Blessed are those who wait on him." 

What bigger thrill can there be than knowing that the same Creator who dreamed up, designed and created DNA and photosynthesis and seashells and tectonic plates longs to hear your prayers and bless you?

...and...these little white flowers.
( I didn't have a picture of tectonic plates.)