Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Story-A-Day #384: Movember


There are many who do it as an excuse to look ridiculous.  They are missing the point.  Movember isn't meant to be about growing a mustache, it is meant to be about raising awareness, and funds, for prostate cancer.

Sure there is something fun about growing facial hair.  It gives you a month to feel like someone different.  It gives you a month to not have to worry about having a perfect shave for work each and every morning.  I used to set out to sculpt the most ridiculous 'stache I could into my month's worth of growth.  This year, I decided for a more simplified approach.  I decided to go the classic route instead of the ridiculous.

This year, I had another reason for growing a mustache though.  This year, I knew someone who had been through the very illness I was aiming to raise awareness of through facial hair growth.  I don`t know him well, but I know him well enough to know that he is a strong, intelligent, and dedicated man.  He is strong enough to have beat his cancer, intelligent enough to radiate wisdom and dedicated to not just his family and his career, but his entire city.

On its own, that would be enough.  When it comes to this particular individual though, there is even more to it.  He is a survivor.

I mentioned that he is not someone that I knew well, but that is not entirely true.  He is someone who I grew to know well enough over a very short period of time.  I learned to appreciate his quick wit, open friendliness, and fierce intelligence during that time.  I grew to know what he stood for, what was important to him, and what he believed in.

Much of what he believed in centred on his family.  He has worked hard to become the man he is, the leader, the father, the husband.

Everyone needs a reason to support the cause.  Mine happens to be the Deputy Mayor of North Bay and the father of a good friend.  That is why I grew a moustache this year.  To raise awareness and support so that more people like Peter might live to survive.  We need survivors in this world, people of character and strength.

We need more people like Peter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Story-A-Day #383: Cheese Ball


People call me a lot of things.  Some of the are true, some of them are complete and utter...well you can imagine where I might have been headed there.

I guess it is human nature.  There are people who find it necessary to call others names as a means of brightening their own existence.  Their are people who would go so far as to accuse others of perpetrating certain acts as a means of justifying their own actions, or lack thereof.  There are those who would even go so far as to accuse people of committing acts that are so beyond their character because the words they spill are so fundamentally untrue.  Those are the lowest kind of people, those personalities who are so insecure and low upon themselves that they would aim to drag the innocent down for a moment in the spotlight.  They are the lowest kind of people, and they do not warrant any further rumination.

Not more than three days ago, I had someone very close to me call me a cheese ball.  They did so in a loving manner and as a response, I did the only thing that seemed fitting under the circumstances.  I stormed out of the living room and into the kitchen.

At first, she thought I was sincere in my outrage.  It was a sufficient show I suppose.  I assured her with a smile and told her to keep watching the show.  I assured her that I would be back within the next 15 minutes with a surprise.

I spent the time wisely, shredding some aged cheddar, and mixing in the food processor with some cream cheese.  I added in a dab of hot mustard, a few healthy squirts of Worchestershire sauce, and a few other secret ingredients.  I threw it all in the fridge for a moment, then set about chopping some pecans and parsley.  When the chopping was complete, I mixed the nuts and greens and spread them out on the chopping board.

I took the cheese mixture out of the fridge, rolled it in a ball, and rolled it through the mixture.  It clung to the exterior nicely, a succulent skin of parsley and nuts.  I placed it in the middle of a plate and spread some crackers around it.  With a final flourish, I jabbed a small knife into the ball.

"What have you been up to in there?" she asked.

"Living up to my potential," I replied, and placed the snack on the coffee table before her.  "Enjoy."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Story-A-Day #382: Portal


We have no idea where it came from.  Every study we have conducted has resulted in inconclusive results.  That being said, the results have been somewhat astounding.  There are wavelengths and frequencies radiating from the cracked fissure that seemed to open over night.

At first, we figured it was a sinkhole of some sort, but the radiation was something we could not account for.  The gusts of antimatter, were a whole other concern entirely.

It became clear to us, fairly quickly, that the cause of the fissure was not the primary concern.  Once it started pulsating, we realized that our initial excitement was the entirely wrong reaction.  What we needed to do was not study the cause, or the effect, but put a quick and substantial end to it all.

When we discovered the first alien creature near the crack in the pavement, we realized that what we were dealing with was in fact a portal of sorts.  There was no other real explanation.  This hole in the ground seemed to be an access point to a different realm entirely.

We were lucky that the first creature we discovered did not appear to have survived the crossing, but that did not mean that the next attempt would result the same way.

Out initial attempts proved futile.  The contents of four entire cement mixers disappeared down the void.  Our latest attempt has been to fuse a solid iron plank over the opening, bolted into the surrounding earth and fused tightly to multiple adjoining surfaces.  So far the prognosis is good, but there is no way we will know for sure until the project is complete.

All we can do for now is cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Story-A-Day #381: Dirty Getaway


The most important aspect of a heist is the planning.  If you aren't fully prepared for a full range of potential situations, you will inevitably fail.  You need to have contingencies in place, you need to have a backup plan, and an escape clause.  You need to be prepared for any eventuality to ensure that you succeed.

The heist itself is the easy part, as long as you appreciate that the devil truly is in the details.

The problem is, there are some occasions you can never plan for.  Most aspiring thieves believe that a crime should be committed under the cover of night.  Of course it makes sense, but people tend to be at their most vigilant when suspicious activities are being committed in the dark.

In my experience, it is easier to execute your plan in broad daylight.  If you walk right into your selected scene of crime, make it look like you have every right to be there, the average person will not question your presence.

The problem is, you can't plan for everything.  Weather is something you can never plan for, and although we had accommodated a number of different scenarios, we did not take into account the light dusting of snow that fell overnight.  Snow means evidence.  We will inevitably leave traces of our presence here: footprints, hand prints, all manner of evidence.

Still, our window is small.  It has to be today.  When in doubt, create a plan C.  In this case, we will buy new shoes, cheap generic ones that will be harder to trace.  Each of us will where the same shoes, in the same size.   That will make the prints more confusing than anything.  Was there a single person on the scene, or multiple suspects?

We get in, acquire the item, and get out.  No questions, no suspicions, no doubts, and no easy evidence.  It almost seems to easy; and that's the other thing you need to be careful of.  If it seems like it will be too easy, then it probably is.

Regardless, today is the day, and we will succeed.  That is what we came here to do.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Story-A-Day #380: Fine Wine


It was a blend of varietals and the result was a medium bodied delight with notes of plum and blackberry, and just a hint of spice in the finish.  It clung to the walls of the crystal goblet delightful, sheer red curtains on the pristene surfaceof the glass.

I took another sip and let the liquid swirl around my mouth for a few moments before pulling a whistle of air in through my pursed lips.  The delicate subtleties of flavour fluorished and I let the wine slowly slide down my throat.

I pick up a small piece of aged cheddar from a silver tray and place it in my mouth.  I chew it slowly, letting the sharp flavour of the cheese mingle with the lingering remnants of the fine wine.  It is a perfect fusion of tastes.

I pick up the decanter from the tableand swirl the wine gently.  It clings to the sides, just as it did in my wine glass.  I pick up the empty glass, and fill it halfway once more.

I decide on a brief cahnge of venue, and pick up the cheese tray with my free hand.  A few moments later, I am settled into my arm chair, in front of a blazing fire on the hearth.  I sip the wine again, and pick up a piece of pepper encrusted salami from the tray, and another piece of cheese.  They mingle and dance in my mouth, a swirling concoction of taste sensations.

I am normally a beer drinker, but I must admit there is a rare delight in drinking a fine wine, and pairing it with just the right foods.  It is a lovely way to spend a cool saturday evening in November.

I turn on the television and flip through the channels.  There must be something good on one of the travel channels, a nice diversionary escape.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Story-A-Day #379: First Snow


It started as a bitter day, a cold wind blowing down from the north.  By the time I finally got home, you could feel it coming, that firsst dusting of snow that marks the beginning of a long, cold winter of discontent.

We have been lucky this year.  ususally the first snow comes on Halloween, a light dusting that clings desperately the the ground as a harbinger of the winter to come.  This year, we managed to last until late November before the inevitable change arrived.  But change is inevitable.

When the first snow arrives, it a portent of things to come.  The first snow shows that while the world can be a beautiful place when all goes white, it is a strange disconnect.  Winter can be beauty, but it is also a beast.

When the world is blanket in that pure white blanket, it is a beautiful place.  It is beautiful as long as you are looking at it from the inside.  When you are out in that world though, it can be a fierce and commanding experience.  Wind gusts every which way, blassting stinging particles of snow and ice across your already wind ravaged skin.

It is the winds of winter that bring the true misery.  On the calmer days, it truly is a paradise.  On the rare days where the snows fall fat and fluffy, it is a true paradise on earth.

This is the first snow of the year though, and no matter when it comes, it always seems too soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Story-A-Day #378: Birthday


It was a day like every other, but it just so happened to be my birthday.  I am of an age, where celebrating my accelerated distancing from youth no longer holds much merit, but when I walked into the house after a long day at work, I can not deny that it didn't make me happy.

I could see the balloons and streamers of course.  They were impossible to miss, but that didn't change the fact that something special had been done.

"Hello?" I called out from the bottom of the stairs as I slowly unlaced my shoes and placed them on the rack.  "I'm home."

There was no reply.  I shrugged out of my coat and hung it in the closet, then climbed up the stairs to the main floor.

"Surprise!" A chorus of voices greeted me.  And it was.

I had not expected this, not in the least, and I felt a warm wash of emotion pass over me as I surveyed the room.  This was magnificent.  I had stepped into a room full of family and my closest friends.  I scanned their smiling faces, and felt myself smiling in return.

The impromptu standoff came to a quick close and I accepted a cold drink into my hand.  I'd started off the day with no intention of making a celebration out of this day, but it was hard to not get caught up in the moment.

Being in a room full of people who are happy to be there on your account has that effect.  It is almost impossible to deny.  I slowly made the rounds, talking to the people I had not had time to see or visit with in weeks, and sometimes months.  You reach a certain age and it is hard to find the time outside of your existing obligations to enjoy the finer things in life, and the finer people who are a part of it.

But sometimes, it is the little things that remind u of what is important.  Sometimes it takes a moment in time to remind us about the things that truly matter in life.  A job and money are important, but they should only be important as a means of supporting what truly is.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Story-A-Day #377: The Weeping Tree


"I've been in jail," he informed me.  It was a casual, off-the-cuff remark between two strangers at a bar, not one designed to intimidate, but one that intrigued me.

"Is that so?" I replied.

"It is.  I did a bad thing, and I did my time, but I don't regret a moment of it."  He took a long swig from his pint, and followed it up with a shot of whiskey.  "I can show you the place it happened, where I did what I did to that son of a bitch."

I shrugged and finished off my beer.  "Might as well," I replied.  "Nothin' much else going on today."

We stepped out into the dull grey afternoon and I followed my new aquaintance down the road as he told his story.  It was pretty horrific, and I found myself on more than one occassion, wondering what the angle was.  It seemed too unreal to be true.

He had been in love once, with the most incredible girl he ever did lay eyes on.  They married just out of highschool, and bought a small house together.  They were happy.  They were in love.  It lasted the better part of four years, and then one day, on their anniversary, he got home and found the love of his life in bed with the man he had thought of up to that point, as his best friend.  He hit her once, and dragged his friend outside where he delivered a furious beeating.  When his knuckles grew too sore, cracked and bloodied by the pumelling, he dragged his naked friend over to a weathered old tree and tied him to it with a length of barbed wire.  He then sat down in the dirt and watched as his friend whimpered and moaned out of existence, then called the police himself.  He called them because he felt guilty about hitting his wife.

"I've been out for a three year stretch now, on account of good behavior and recognizance for what I did that day," he told me, a mouthful of exhaled cigarette smoke wafting up past his face as the final words escaped his lips.  "I only regret that I laid hands on her."

He paused and gazed across a desolate patch of land, then extended a finger towards a gnarled old tree.  "That's where I strung him up.  That where I watched him die."

He dropped his cigarette onto the dirt at our feet and ground it out with the toe of his boot.

"I call it the weeping tree," he said.  "On account that what happens is so sad.  You have yourself a good day."

I watched as he wandered off across the empty plot of land towards the gnarled old tree in the distance.  I could hear him whistling, a low and mournful tune.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Story-A-Day #376: Hockey Night In Canada


I never played hockey.  I never really got to experience first-hand, the thrill of racing along the ice surface, chasing after a puck sliding just out of reach.  I never got to experience the bone crushing body checks, the elation of a game winning goal late in the third period.  But I did get to experience the game.  As a spectator, and a fan, and a son who was thrilled to spend an evening in the arena with his father.

My dad has always been a busy man.  I think that is a big part of why those nights at the game together all those years ago still hold a special place in my heart.  It was a few hours of quality father/son bonding time, that I might not otherwise have had.

My father was a teacher, and there was a great deal of responsibility for him to complete the unrealistic workload that teachers are tasked with.  The fact that he found time in his busy life to take me to those games was inspiring to an eight-year-old version of me.

We would snack on chocolate bars, squirming restlesslt in those rigid, wooden arena seats, and watch as Les Barons took on the other local high school teams.  I wouold sit next to him with my notepad and a pen, and chronicle the games' progression.  Period One; 4:56; #7 penalty for roughing, Algonquin; 2 minutes.  Period One; 8:10; goal, #9, Algonquin.  I guess even then, I had journalistic tendencies.

I relished those night's out with my father.  It was a different experience than any I had known up to that point, a moment between father and son where nothing else mattered but our time together, and the thrill of the game.  He surprised me one year with a trip to the dressing room where I was presented with a hockey stick autographed by the whole team.  Sure, they were just a bunch of high school kids, but to me, they were icons.  They were heroes of the rink.

To me, that is what hockey night in Canada is all about, the bonding experience of fans and players sharing in their love of the sport.  I miss those nights.  I miss the casual innocence and simplicity of it all.

I am fortunate to have had those experiences, and more fortunate still that in adulthood I am blessed with even more time to spend with my father - and my mother, and siblings.  We don't always need a catalyst like a night at the game to get together, but as a young, impressionable boy who idolized his hard working father, moments like those reinforced the importance of the familial bond.

Even today, those are some of the brightest moments of my long and storied life.  Those are moments that I still cherish as strongly as any.  Thanks for the memories dad...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Story-A-Day #375: A Day In The City


It is difficult not to feel excited.  Everything is different in the city.  The buildings don't all lay low to the ground.  They are not all mirror images of eachother.  In the city, the buildings stratch skyward with pride, icons of power and dreams fulfilled.

There is excitement around every corner; new things to see and experience.

She inhales deeply and a rich, fiery curry scent fills her nostrils, overriding the smell of exhaust and garbage.  A group of people pass by, chattering rapidly in an unknown tongue.  She smiles at them, and nods her head slightly, but they pass by oblivious.  She doesn't mind.  She is simply greatful for the experience of brushing elbows with a different culture.  It feels good to have different shades of humanity mixed into the white with which she is accustomed.

She wanders down the crowded sidewalk seeking an unknown destination.  She feels a little lost, and honestly, she has no idea where she even is at the moment.  That's part of the adventure though.  She doesn't really want to know, at least not until it is time to go home.  For now, she is quite content wandering aimlessly, no particular destination in mind.  Eventually something will jump out at her, and when it does, she will have found her destination.

Until then, she will continue walking.

She hopes that at some point she will strike up a random conversation with a stranger, prefereably a cute guy who is also aimlessly wandering through a day in the city.  She hopes they will strike a chord and become fast friends.  He will take her on a tour and show her places that tend to be off the beaten path; a grungey pub filled with off beat characters, or a forgotten flea market stocked with impossible deals, or better still, a deserted art gallery filled with magical works of prose and paint and chisled marble.

It's best not to have a schedule on a day like today.  It's best just to wander about and wait for that inevitable something, or someone, to find you.  That's the beauty of a day in the city, knowing that something is always about to happen.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Story-A-Day #374: Dream House


I have a dream house, but mine is not like yours.  Most people have dream houses, idealized visions of where they would choose to spend their days.  Maybe yours is an open concept living space; maybe it has stainless steel appliances in the kitchen; maybe there is a library with sliding ladders to access the dusty tomes on your upper shelves.

My dream house is not like that.  My dream house is not even close to that.  It is an ominous, decrepit shell that is caving in upon itself.  It is not the dream house I would have selected given the choice, but it is the one that comes to me in my dreams and haunts my waking hours.

Entire walls are missing from this house.  Nature has started to reclaim it, to finish destroying this evil place.  Eventually nature will reclaim this house and erase it from memory, but for now it still lingers, a place where unspeakable things once occurred.  Nature is a natural cleanser, but there is only so much that nature can accomplish without assistance.  What nature achieves can only happen over time, excrutiatingly long stretches of minutes, months, and millenia.

I know this house inside out.  I know the lay out of the kitchen, the corridor that leads to the bedroom, the small living room with its peeeling floral wallpaper.  I know the mud floored basement, etched with the footprints of occupants long forgotten.

This is not a happy place.  It is home to tragedy and misfortune.  You can see the remnants in the blood stained fabric of the work bedroom carpet.  You can see it in the festered remains of meals long abandoned on a cold November morning.  You can see it in the neglect that has since befallen this place.

This is my dream house and it is a place of perpetual nightmares.  If you stand still at night, you can still hear the whimpering ghost voices calling out for help; for release from their torment.  This is not a happy place, nor a friendly one.  This is not a place where one would choose to spend time, but it is one that I can not seem to escape.  It is as much a part of me as I am a part of it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Story-A-Day #373: Graveyard Ernie


It is a decrepit old church on the south-western coast of England.  If you were to put it in a line of similar churches, you would be hard pressed to pick it out of that line.  So for all intents and purposes, this is just another quaint church in a small English seaside town, despite the slight lean to the tower that comes from too many years on a shifting seaside terrain.

Unlike some other churches of its stature, however, this one holds a secret.  In the graveyard that fills its rear gardens, there is a hedgerow.  Beneath that hedgerow, for those who are astute and observant enough, you might notice what looks like a collection of trash.  You would not be remiss to think that it had been blown there by the tidal breezes off the channel.  If that were what you thought though, then you would not be looking close enough.

Beneath that row of hedges is a home.  Sure it is made of the tattered remains of tarpaulin, cardboard boxes, and other seemingly innocuous items, but that is in fact a home, and the home to a bedraggled, but brilliant man at that.

At first glance, most people would walk the other way.  He tends to be filthy, his curly hair, long and greasy, not unlike the beard that clings to his jawline.

His tendency to mutter to himself tends to be another trigger for most people.  Most people cross the road when they see him coming.  The thing is, as with all things in life, there is often more to any situation than meets the eye.

Don't look at Graveyard Ernie as a homeless guy.  He is much more than that.  Sure, it is easy to lump people into simple definitions based on appearance, intellect, and position in society.  That's something we can all do with a simple glance.

It is much harder to actually get to know who a person really is.  Ernie was obviously not always a homeless guy who lived under a hedgerow in a graveyard.  There was a time when he was no different than you or me.

In all honesty, there is a good chance that he was once better than most of us.  Ernie's story is a private one, but it is one that resulted in him being where he is today.  We all make decisions in our lives, and we all experience events in our lives.  Those moments define us, just as they define Ernie.

That doesn't mean that Ernie is a lesser being than any of us, it simply means that Ernie has experienced things that have put him in a lesser place.

If anything, we need to go out of our way to make people like Ernie feel welcome and included; especially in a world they no longer understand.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Story-A-Day #372: Tropic Of Cancers


There is something to be said for a mid-November getaway, especially when the destination is a tropical one.  The promise of sunshine, white sandy beaches, hot women, and an open bar is almost impossible to resist.

If you had the chance, would you be there today?  Would you be basking in the sun and sipping on a nice tropical drink on the edge of an expansive blue oasis?  Of course you would.  You would be a fool not to embrace such an opportunity, especially with the first wisps of winter starting to lick along the streets of the place you call home.

You are there now...

A bright green lizard skitters across the patio as you return to your lounge chair from the nearby bar, a sweating mojito in each hand.  You settle back down into the lounge chair and adjust your sunglasses against the impossibly bright glare of the sun.  The pool glimmers brightly before you and you take a moment to survey the scene.  Fit people wander to and fro in skimpy outfits.  Festive music drifts out from the poolside bar, mingling with the laughter of those frolicking and splashing in the pool.

You knock back the generous cocktails and rise back to your feet, slipping into your sandals.  The ocean beckons.  You wander off around the pool, nodding to the few acquaintances you have made over the past few days, and along the narrow dirt path that leads to the boardwalk over the dunes.

You climb the wooden stairs and grab another drink at the thatched roofed cabana bar the leads down to the expansive, white sandy beach.  You can see the ocean stretching off to the horizon and smile.  You descend the stairs, find a free lounge chair, and throw your towel down.  You screw your drink down into the sand next to the seat, kick off your sandals, and pull off your sweat soaked t-shirt.

The ocean beckons and you sprint towards it, kicking your legs out to the side as you enter the warm salty water.  Eventually, the waves trip you up and you flop down into the water, letting the waves sluice over your body.  After a few moments, you roll over to face the sun and float effortlessly in the salty ocean water.

This is paradise, an abundance of sun and drink.  It is the place you would most like to be.  It is the place that you are furthest from.  You are now at 23.5 degrees north, and it is as north as you would ever want to be.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Story-A-Day #371: The Fog


It is thick to be sure, but it is already burning off as the sun slowly rises and basks the world in its radiant glow.  When I was younger, I used to find the fog scary.  What sort of monsters and creatures could be travelling under cover of the fog.  These days, I find it to be more peaceful and beautiful, than terrifying.

There is nothing more tranquil and serene than an early morning lake blanketed in rolling sheets of fog.

There is something magical about fog, something myseterious and unknown.  Sure, I no longer think of fog as a covert shield for the monsters of my youth, but I do still like to think that there could be mysteries contained within those rolling earth-bound clouds..

What secrets might be hidden in that gossamer sheen, tucked away in that moist obstruction?  What mysteries might await?

On days like this, I like to walk tohrough the cool mists of morning, peering off into the hidden distances and waiting as the fog evaporates and the world as I know it slowly reverts back to normal.

I realize on this morning, that I am not likely to discover any hidden secrets in the fog.  It is burning off quickly now, slowly seeping away into nothing.  Perhaps tomorrow will bring another opportunity?

For today, I will carry on with my day.  I will go to work, eat my meals, and eventually crawl into bed as my days draws to a close.

When I awake tomorrow, I will hope to be greeted by another foggy morning.  If I am, I will walk through those swirling mists and see what can be discovered.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Story-A-Day #370: First Kiss


He was nervous, filled with that unique kind of apprehension that can only be felt by a fifteen-year-old boy on his first date with perfection.  They arrived at the fair just as the sun was setting over the city.  They wandered the grounds for what seemed like an eternity, laughing frequently and talking sporadically.

She was incredible; a beautiful picture of youthful perfection.  He wanted this night to last forever.  He would have been more than happy to ride this moment out for the remainder of his existence, languishing in the pure bliss that her presence instilled in him.

They went on the rides, rocketing around in the Gravitron, rattling around the lame rollercoaster, sweeping up and down in the zipper, and dashing through the cavernous emclosures of the two fun houses.  Smiles nestled permanently on their faces, and while his was starting to feel numb and sore, he wouldn't lose that smile for the world.

They took a stomach-settling break for a moment from the rides and played some of the games.  He spent more than he could afford, but finally he wins her a prize; a giant pink stuffed gorilla in sunglasses.  She was thrilled and the look of pure joy on her face and celebratory shout of success as he finally won filled him with a fierce sense of pride and accomplishment.

He caught a glimpse of his watch and his heart sank.  It was getting close to eleven which meant two things: curfew was quickly looming, and the fair would soon close for the night.  It was a fleeting moment of dismay though as he feels her slender arm loop through his.  She pulled him across the ragged, work grass and they step into the line up for the ferris wheel.

He had wanted to ride the ferris wheel all night, but his nerves had kept him from approaching the monolithic wheel.  It wasn't that he was afraid of heights.  It was something much different.  Ever

since he asked her to go to the fair with him, even before she had said yes, he had imagined how this possible scenario could play out.  The music rising all around, the slow rotation of the wheel, and the eventual kiss at the pinnacle beneath a sheet of shimmering stars.

He swallowed hard and wiped his hands on his jeans.  He was nervous, more nervous than he had ever been.  Finally, after a tormenting wait, they climbed into a car and lurched into motion, and rose slowly upwards into the night.  They rose and decended, then slowly rose again.  Just as they reached the pinnacle, the ferris wheel lurched to a stop.

A nervous laugh escaped unbidden, but before he could say anything to mask his nervousness, she leaned towards him, angled her head back ever-so-slightly, and planted her soft, moist lips onto his.

His whole being erupted.  It was a moment of pure perfection, utterly and brilliantly perfect.  It was his first moment of true love.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Story-A-Day #369: The Shallows


I dip my head beneath the surface.  The hollow sound of my breathing fills my head, rythmic inhalations and exhalations through the snorkey in my mouth.  The mask is sucked forcefully to my face and I peer out through the plexiglass surface and out through the shallows.

I can see the rusty pole that supports the dock, and in the distance, a row of rocks stretching off through the shallows.  I kick my feet gently and the big plastic flippers slow push me forward and out through the shallows.

It is one of my favourite ways to pass a languid summer day, cruising slowly across the surface of the lake, basking in the sun's radiant heat.  This is the way life should be lived; exploring new horizons and searching out new discoveries.

As the water grows deeper, the sandy bottom of the lake slowly slips away.  I pass over sunken logs and small piles of rocks and boulders.  I angle my way out across the lake towards the small islands scattered across the mouth of the bay.  There will be sites to see there.  There will be adventures to have.

The waters surrounding the island tend to be full of fish.  Bass, perch, sunfish.  They dart through the nooks and crannies, tucked away in the boulders and small schools of minnows dart through the water, shimmering silver clouds that move in uncanny unison.

I kick onward and slowly circle the island, reaching out towards the fish as they dart by.  I kick onwards and baqsk in the warmth of a perfect summer day.

I role onto my back and close my eyes against the glare of the sun, my legs slowly sinking into the waters below me.

When I open them again, I am back in my bed, a bitter wind guting past my window.  I should have known that it was too good to be true.  My lazy days of summer were still months away.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Story-A-Day #368: Bed Rest


I'm not sure how it all started.  To be honest with you, I am not even sure how I wound up here in the first place.

 The last thing I remember was sitting on my couch watching television.  It wasn't anything special, just a show about people hunting for homes in exotic international locations.

The young couple was about to make their decision when I nodded off.  When I woke up again, I was here, a needle crammed into the back of my hand and a flimsy gown ridding up around my waist.

I reposition myself and scan the room.  It is small, and bland - what you might call hospital standard.

I pushed the button next to my bed and waited for the nurse to arrive.  When she did, I didn't delay.

"Why am I here?" I asked her.  "How did I get here?"

She picked up the chart and scanned it quickly, leafing through the pages.

"Your girlfriend found you.  You were non-responsive so she brought you in.  We're just waiting on results from some tests that were run last night."

"Any idea what happened?"

"Nothing yet, but I suggest you get some rest.  We'll probably be releasing you later today."

It's an uncomfortable feeling not knowing what is wrong with you.  Being in the hospital after an unknown incident makes it even more disquieting.  I knew there was nothing to do for now so I decided to take the nurses advice.  I let my eyes slowly flutter closed and waited for sleep to draw me into too its warm embrace.

The answers would come soon enough.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Story-A-Day #367: Tentacles


It was a long day at the office.  I stumbled out through the doors, after a day of mind-numbing mediocrity, and into the face numbing chill of November.  It was cold, and oh so not cool.  It was a brisk walk, hands curled deep in pockets like a pair of sleepign cats trying to keep warm.  I could feel the hot burn of winter on my cheeks, forehead, and ears; I could feel the wind's cold carress slipping slowly up the rear of my jacket.

I trudhe onward and within 25 minutes, am greeted by the welcome site of my home and the door that will admit me into the warmth of my haven.  It was a very happy moment.

I slid out of my coat and made my way straight to the kitchen where I turned on the oven and got ready to prepare dinner.  I was chopping some celery and onions and had a pot full of water slowly boiling to life on the stovetop when I first felt the presence.  It was like a cold whisper on the back of my neck.

I paused for a moment and listened, but all I could hear was the slow roil of the water on the stove next to me.

I resumed the chopping for a moment, but I could not shake the feeling.  The cold tickle rose up my neck and through my hair.  Finally, I turned to scan the kitchen behind me and noticed the icy tentacles slowly reaching towards me from the back door.

Confused, and scared, I swiped at it with the knife I had been using to chop the vegetabbles.  The end of the tentacles fell off and shattered across the floor with a crystalline twinkling.  The tentacles wilted back, seeming to shrink back towards the cold outside.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Story-A-Day #366: Shimmer


The leaves glow under the dull blaze of the security light. The recent rainfall causes a shimmering effect, a resplendent cascade of fiery red in an otherwise dark night.

It is an almost magical effect, one that momentarily stops you in your tracks.

A soft cloud of exhaled air escapes your lips and dissipates into the night.

You wish she were here in this moment with you, sharing the inherent enjoyment that comes from a moment of such simplicity. Her company is the only thing that could make this moment better.

Things are always better with her by your side. That is an undeniable truth.

You inhale deeply, feeling the cool air turn warm in your lungs, and release another small puff of steam into the world. You have made up your mind.

You turn and head in the other direction, hands crammed deep in the woolen pockets of your coat.

Twenty minutes later, you arrive at your destination and find yourself staring down at a small granite placard dusted in snow. You see her name there and smile.

You have missed her so much. You close your eyes and a fleeting image of her shimmers across the movie screen of your memory.

She is exactly as you remember her, a picture of perfection, beauty, and youth.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone. Please excuse auto corrected errors!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Story-A-Day #365: 11/11/11: Monuments

11/11/11:  MONUMENTS

What do we build monuments for?  Is it so that we can communicate a sense of accomplishment?  Is it so that we can commemorate an a particular moment in time?  Monuments are typically erected as a testament to an achievement that is either perceived as planned or passed.  We either build towards the future, or to remember the past.

There are an abundance of war monuments on this world and they serve a solid purpose.  They remind us of those who gave their lives so that we might be able to pursue our own.  They memorialize the fallen soldiers who might otherwise be forgotten by those not directly related.  The soldier's monument tends to be a solemn one, one that conveys a sense of grace, dignity, and respect.

Were you to erect a personal monument, what would it be?  What effigies best represent the essence of you and your lifetime achievements?  Would you be a stethescope?  Perhaps a pint glass, or a golden goal, or a head of lettuce.  What is it about you that truly defines you?  Are you a videogame controller, a cash register, a diamond ring, or even a family pet?

It is easy to pay tribute to those who have achieved greatness in life.  It is easier still to pay tribute to those who have achieved greatness in death...

But what about the rest of us mere mortals?  What is it that would become our legacy monument?  Each of us will be remembered, at least for a time, but what would be the one thing you would choose to be remembered for, were you given the chance?

Perhaps your defining attribute is a colour, a place, or an animal.  Maybe you are a magenta, or Bristol, or a giraffe.

Knowing who you are is importnat, but knowing what you represent is equally so.  We all have our monuments.  We will all leave a legacy.  Mine will likely be words and stories, and it is a long, proud legacy that I am happy to be a part of.  My family has a long history with the English language, and it is a legacy that I am proud to be a part of.  My monument might by a quill, or a laptop, or a battered old notebook filled with implied scribblings.

What will yours be?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Story-A-Day #364: The Thing


It was a freak storm, one of those random early-November filibusters that just creeps up out of nowhere and buries the world under a cold blanket of white nothingness.

I was on my way home from work, having just finished the night shift, and I was squinting into the gloom, my face stinging with each icy pellet that zinged off my cheeks, chin and forehead.  I pulled my jacket in tighter and nestled my head a little deeper into the collar.

I was not dressed for this.  Not even a bit.  I was dressed for the day it had been earlier, a brisk afternoon that didn't even carry a hint of portent as to what was to come.  What came of course, was a twenty degree drop in temperature and about five inches of the white stuff.  It was a surprise, but admittedly not a shock.

This time of year has always been known for its randomness.  What it is not known for, is creatures of the night.

I rounded the corner, still squinting into the blinding squall that had descended, and noticed the figure coming towards me.  It seemed human enough at first, possibly a drunk who had experienced better days.  Then it lunged at me.

It just so happened that my right foot hit a patch at the same time as the creature lunged at me.  I was lucky to tumble when I did and by the time I had regained my feet, I realized I was not dealing with a drunk.  This was something different, a much more complicating concern.

It sniffed at the air as I rolled out of my way and scampered back up onto my feet.  It waved its arms around in a comically Hollywood-zombie kind of way.  Then it did something completely unexpected.  Up until that point, I could have accepted the normalcy of this potentially being a drunk, but drunks don't spit fire.

I turned and fled into the night.  I didn't care that I couldn't see, because I had recently seen things that I didn't care to see.  I didn't even want to remember this night, and that fire-spewing mouth was enough to ensure the right level of trauma to ensure that by tomorrow morning, I would not have any recollection.

First though, I had to escape.  If I didn't live to see tomorrow, then none of it would matter.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Story-A-Day #363: Steaming


I take a long, hard pull from my cigarette and gaze out over the steaming pool.  It's cold out, too cold for this old cotton suit I am wearing, but still, a man has his vices and this particular nook of the world is now opposed to the graceful art of tobacco smoking.

It's just as well though.  These types of events always put me on edge.  When it is still this far from Christmas, who really feels in the mood for peace and love.  Christmas parties in November end up being more about the hate and fight that people have within.

There are too many glassy eyes in that ballroom.  Too many slack jawed associates with dribble lines down the front of their jackets and gowns.

Things are heating up on the dance floor, and at the bar.  The sound of breaking glass drifts out through the crack in the patio door behind me, loud laughter follows, and raised voices...

People who get mad when they drink, should not drink.  People who get stupid when they drink, should not drink.  People who can not handle their drinks, should not drink.

It really is that simple.

This is meant to be a party, and parties should be fun, but at the moment, this does not feel fun.

There is an ominous feeling in the air.  You can feel the people inside slowly, sloppily spiralling out of control.  It is an ugly vibe, but an expected one.

Bringing out the best in people, often brings out their worst.  I stub my cigarette butt out into the tall pillar-shaped ashtray and turn my back on the warm embrace of the steaming pool.  If I were younger, I might hop the fence and douse myself in those warm waters, let the steam rise up around me.  i might not even take off my suit to do it.

A shout erupts within the bar and I sigh.  Time to clean up another mess.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Story-A-Day #362: Gossamer


Autumn tends to be a time for reflection, especially when it stretches out a little longer than it does most years.  An extended autumn is almost as good as an endless summer, but the former brings with it a little less whimsy and nostalgia than the latter.

When autumn rolls around, you are ready to begin the hibernation process.  You are ready to figure out the most painless way of making it through the next few months of sub-zero nonsense.  Looking out through the gossamer curtains on  warm autumn day, it is easy to remember just how relaxed and beautiful things can be.

It is a little harder to see what might be looming on the horizon.  You know that the cold will not hold off for long, and you know that your driveway will soon be buried in something much more laborious than a dry dusting of leaves.

Autumn is the gossamer filter that divides us between the life giving vibrancy of summer, and the frigid wasteland of winter.  It is that moment where we remain in a permanent state of flux: clinging to the warmth nostalgia of the long days of summer, and repulsing the dire, short days of winter.

We need that gossamer sheen in order to process the harsh differences between the two phases of existence in this part of the world.  We need that shimmering blanket of to help us process and distinguish between the two opposites.  Such is the nature of seasons.

Such is the nature of the human mind...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Story-A-Day #361: A Reminder


There is a spackling of snow on the ground outside, which normally would depress me a little.  Today though, I find that it serves as a reminder about a time when things wetre better.  Not in some crazy world-altering way, but just better, more simple.

Mostly, what I find cheers me up the most on days like today is thinking back to the summer when all was well.  There is a simple sense of peace that comes with the easy days of summer.

What I will miss most through the long cold winter is canoeing though.  There is something both tranquilizing and invigorating in heading out on the lake by yourself in a sixteen foot fibreglass canoe.

The sun beats down from above, baking your naked back and neck as you pull the paddle through the water, long, deep pulls into the light wind.  The front of the canoe weaves back and forth across the surface of the lake, small waves lapping around the bow.

A dragonfly skitters down out of the skies and alights on the gunwale of the canoe, its wings twitching gently with anticipation.

You slice the paddle through the water, pulling hard towards yourself and curving it outwards in a j-stroke to maintain the straight projectory you have chosen.

It will be months before you can comfortably escape in such a fashion, but for the time being, it is almost enough knowing that eventually you will be able to.  Eventually, you will be back out on the lake, fighting against nature for a small moment of piece.  It's nice to have that as a reminder of things to come.

It is nice to have something to look forward to.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Story-A-Day #360: Airwaves


What could they possibly be broadcasting from this thing?  It's been at least a decade since anything commercial was broadcast over the airwaves, and yet, this tower is the target, and it was heavily guarded.

Military, maybe?  It's possible, but the guards were definitely civilian.  Private contractors.  You can always pick them out because of their thick necks and the tendency to have necks as big as the average thigh.  Still, they were the easy part.  The other thing with private military is that they operate under a false sense of arrogance and pride.

They think they are the best of the best, but they have no idea what they are up against this time.  The world is not what it used to be.  the world has changed.

I might be an army of one, but an army of many lives within me.  I have come to detroy this tower, and in order to do so, I destroyed their pathetic little army.  They were neither men, nor soldiers.  They were scared boys playing dress up.  They were victims of  a war they did not sign on for.

I plant the final charge and take a moment to watch as the digital display slowly counts down towards zero.  I have plenty of time to make my mistake.  I will be compensated for my efforts within the hour.

Out of curiosity, I pull an antiquated device from my pack and slowly turn the knob.  Static hisses out of the small, portable radio.  I continue scanning the dial until a faint, feeble noise breaks through the white noise.

"If you can here this, we have a cure.  We have broken down the genometric sequence and have figured out what this is all about.  We need to be delivered safely.  There is a cure.  We are at 79 degrees 24 degrees west and 43 degrees 40 degrees north.  Please come find us."

Brow furrowed, I glance down at the digital clock as it slowly clicks towards zero.  There are too many units planted.  There is too little time.  It suddenly dawns on me that I have done something horribly wrong.  This is not what I signed up for.  With less than a minute on the clock, I flee into the woods.  for now, it is all I can do.

I set my mind to make things right, but I will have to be cautious.  They can't know what I know, my employers, or it is all going to be for nothing.  The ground ripples beneath my feet and I realize that I have ruined something important.  I have destroyed an importnat message, but I will make ammends.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Story-A-Day #359: The Lot


He sits and he waits.  That what he does.  He has learned to be patient.  He has learned that sometimes the hollow ticking of a wall clock is the only company you will have during a long job.

He knows all this because this is what he does.  He sits and he waits.  His job is about moments in time, a single instance where seveeral pieces come into place and where one final action constitutes a job well done.  That moment has not yet come and while he knows it is looming fast, he is comfortable waiting.

That is his job.

He teached into the pack of sandwiched he brought with him and pulls one out, ham and swiss on ancient grains with a healthy dosage of hot mustard.  The mustard keeps his passages clear, a good idea in case things get suddenly heavy.

H gazes out the window at the parking lot below.  There are a handful of cars down there, and a core of people going about their daily business.  None of them are of any real connsequence though.  He only had eyes for one of the vehicles below, and even that will be of no real interest for at least a few more minutes.

The work day is winding day and in a few more ticks of the anxious clock, his job here will come to an end.

As if on cue, he notices the small figure scurry across the road below and into the parking lot.  The tiny figure crosses over the parking lot and steps up to the small white car.  It is time.

He quickly stands and gethers his small alottment of supplies for the day, cramming them all back into the briefcase.  The switch he leaves out, grabbing it right after he slid on his black leather grub and opened the door into the hallway.  He lets the door swing closed on its pneumatic hings and presses the button just before it closes.

He feels the building rock beneath him, a light tremor, as he strides quickly towards the end of the corridor.  He presses the button for the elevator and waits.  He is good at waiting.  It is what he does.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Story-A-Day #358: Fenced In


Have you ever had one of those days?  You know the kind of day where everything just seems to go to hell?

Well, I have had one of those days, weeks, and months.  It's been a rough ride for me for sure.  A really hard few weeks.  It's been just one pile of crap piling on top of the next.  Seriously, I am neck deep in this nonsense for the better part of a month, then one day I run into this guy and bam.

It started off as a simple enough conversation.  Man to man.  The next thing I know, I've been patsied; set up as a killer of woman.  Yes, singular, and yes, she did mean something to me.  In fact, she meant the world to me.  Now that she is dead, I honestly have nothing left to lose.

That's the horrible beauty of this situation.  My reason for living is dead so I have nothing left to lose.  There's some poetry to it all.

A really shitty kind of poem that I would rather not read.

That is why I went to meet the caller.  I knew it was a trap, but I also knew it was as close as I would get to meeting the people who were responsible for ruining everything I had left to care about.

I met the guy, and he got the best of me.  That was my mistake.  That was my last mistake.

I woke up in the storage locker maybe three hours later.  I was a little dazed, and a lot confused, but I was ready.  I jimmied the lock and scooted out into the cold autumn afternoon.

They were out there and I would find them.

They would pay for what they had done, and they would not be paying with money.  This was a debt that would be paid in blood.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Story-A-Day #357: Dark Skies


People used to always laugh at us, but boy were they the ones who should be laughed at now.  "Aliens?  What a couple of fools", they would say.  Well who's laughing now you bunch of smarty-pantses?

We always knew they was out there but people would just laugh at us.  Now we know who was the smartest of all though, because those little green bastards have landed and they are taking over this town.

I would say "I told you so", but it seems kinda imaaturish.  I would say, "good luck because you are on your own now suckers", but that would be a lie.  An even bigger lie than the one that they have always been telling us about extra-terrenial lives not being real.  Saying you were on your own would only land us into a bigger pile of poop, and to be honest with you, we just want to get us out of this poop.  We need to work together now.

All of that being said, this whole distrust kinda lands us in a whole different set of issues.  Sure, we knew they were coming.  Sure, we were among the select few who had always planned for this here alien invasion.  Problem is though, we never really did know what it was we were planning for.

The helmets were a stroke of genius to be sure; a guarantee that those little green bastards would not be able to scramble our brains and turn us into some sort of meat puppets who would willingly do their bidding.  As much as I hate to admit it though, that was the end of the line as far as our thinking went.

We`re kinda in one of them catch 2-4 situations now, or whatever they`re called.  We knew they were coming, but we don`t know what they want.  They came out of the dark skies, on a bright sunny day, but we still have no idea why they came.

We can point to the skies, just as we can point to the people in charge who hid the truth from us, but at the end of the day the only way we will get the truth is through a close encounter of the third kind.  That means a face-to-face with the invaders.

Who`s game?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Story-A-Day #356: Iced Lettuce


It isn't really lettuce. That part is obviously just in your head. But it is iced. That part is real. Undeniably and unequivocally real.

It's a little weird for sure, but that is the world you live in: a world of iced lettuce. It kind of makes you want to laugh a bit doesn't it?

Iceberg lettuce, sure. Ornamental lettuce-type garden accoutrement covered in a thin layer of ice? Doesn't make as much sense.

One should not be able to coexist with the other. Am I right?

The thing is, this "lettuce" is an outdoor plant, and outdoors is slowly sinking into a sub-zero climate. A sub-zero climate known as winter.

That's right my friend, winter is upon us. It won't be long before we also have iced roads, windows, doors, cars, and faces added to the list. For now though, we are gifted with iced lettuce. Not a bad exchange when you get down to it.

Sure things will only get worse as the temperature continues to drop, but for now - this is where we are. For now, we live in a world of iced ornamental lettuce. In a month, or a week, or maybe even a day, we will undoubtedly be in a whole new world of iced everything.

Be happy for now, that your biggest concern only needs to be a frozen non-edible head of faux lettuce because things are only going to get colder and less edible as the days grow shorter and winter grows longer. Such is the nature of the frigid beast that is upon us.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone. Please excuse auto corrected errors!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Story-A-Day #355: Escape


There comes a time in every year where summer becomes a missed commodity.  At least there does in this part of the world.  Once October rolls into November, it seems like the will to escape back to the long, heady days of summer becomes almost inevitable.

As the temperature drops, sinking ever deeper into the sub zero realm of winter, it becomes inevitable that we long for the warmer climes.  Remember those backyard barbecues?  Remember those beach parties that you had so much fun at?  Remember skinny dipping with your true love after a night of gastronomical excess and a few drinks?

Now is the perfect time to reclaim those moments.  Now is the time to escape.

There is no point waiting until the real bulk of winter arrives, but that must be obvious.  That's what they told me anyway, and it makes sense because if I booked a tropical escape and got snowed into a December airport, I would not be a happy camper.

No, I will do my escape right now.  Now is the time.  I will jump on a plane and head to warmer climes and while I am there, I will reach the ultimate point of relaxation, soaking up the sun and basking in the warm, lopping rays of the ocean.  I will sit at a rattan bar and order cocktails full of fruity juices and sugary liquors.

I will let my skin bask until the point of peeling because I would rather do so than suffer the first snowfall of winter.

We all deserve an escape and there is no better time than the present to seize that moment.  Carpe Diem and all that crap.  Make today your day and benefit from the beauty of an extended summer.  You owe it to yourself, just as I owe it to myself.

Embrace the sun and your new found freedom.  Otherwise you can kiss summer goodbye.