Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Let the Good Times Roll

The ol' meat sack and his buddies made it back from Eau Claire ... and then he takes off again on some kind of a holiday jaunt ... he claims he's visiting family ... whatever. All I know is that I'm in charge of these circuits again and I can't wait to par-taaay. Probably cruise to that rockin' main frame in Russia ... maybe check out some action in Australia ... I heard it's already tomorrow there ... gotta see if that's true. Anyway, the sack said something about wishing folks a happy holiday ... but that's not my job ... I'm outta here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bunny Tracks


An audio version of this post can be found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F9yy2WZq_Q&feature=youtu.be

   "Who get's the Morning Moose?" asked the waitress.
   Hank raised his hand. "Right here."
   She set the plate of pancakes and sausages down.
   "The Lumberjack?"
   Uncle Billy nodded and she put the eggs, bacon and potatoes in front of him.
   "The Librarian?"
   I raised my hand.
   She set the bagel and cream cheese down and walked away.
   "That's really all you're getting, Chris?" asked Hank.
   I sat, idly stirring my coffee. "I'm not that hungry."
  "Wonder Boy not hungry?" said Billy. "Alert the media."
  There was a moment of silence, then Hank said. "That really got to you yesterday, didn't it, Chris?"
   Billy sneered. "What? The six-hundred dollar estimate from the mechanic? Why should he care? I'm footing the bill."
   I looked intently at the swirling coffee. "No, Uncle, it's not that."
   "Well, it must be something ...  I've never seen you eat less than me for breakfast since ... well, since ever."
   "Leave him alone, Bill ... he just needs a little quiet time."
   "Hey, I'm not bothering him ... and I'm the one who should be depressed. Who's getting tagged with a big repair for a rolling junk pile ... AND a eighty-five dollar hotel bill ... which was a waste of money, by the way, 'cause I was up all night listening to you snore."
   Hank's face reddened. "Like you didn't?"
   "Will you both just shut-up," I said.
   "He is touchy this morning," said Billy.
   Hank spoke to Billy in a low voice. "It was the book store last night ..."
   I motioned to the waitress as she passed our table. "Could I have my coffee to-go?"
   "Sure, sweetie." She picked up my coffee cup and walked away.
   I smashed the bagel halves together, put a napkin around them, and stood up to leave.
   "Where are you going?" asked Billy.
   "I'm going finish my breakfast in the park across the street."
   Billy leaned back and looked at me. "What is your deal?"
   "I just want to be alone for while, okay?"
   "It's Eb's book, isn't it? You've got a case of the ass because you saw Bunky Takes a Nap in a book store in Eau Claire, Wisconsin."
   I threw three dollar bills on the table. "I'll meet you at Ken's garage." I walked after the waitress.
 

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Road Kill

  An audio version of this post can be found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VzEh-YX8MI&feature=youtu.be

   Hank started to walk around the car.
   "No, you drive," I said.
   He stopped and turned around. "I thought you'd want to drive ... after all, it's your car."
   "I'm whipped. I need a rest."
   Hank nodded and walked back around the car. Uncle Billy got in the back and I slid into the passenger side.
   "Start it up, Hank ... my feet are freezing."
   Hank started the car. "No heat, eh?"
   Billy chimed in. "No room, no padding in the seats, no shocks, no nothin'."
   "It's a little sparse," I said.
   "Sparse?" said Billy. "I've ridden in motorcycle sidecars that were more comfortable."
   "Come on, Uncle, it's not that bad."
   "It's just nice to stop vibrating ... that's all I'm sayin'."
   We sat, watching the truck driver slowly winching the Jag onto the flat bed hauler.
   "Well, you made it to Eau Claire," said Hank.
   I nodded. "That's a small miracle."
   "How long will it take to fix the clutch?" asked Billy.
   "That depends on how fast they can find replacement parts, Uncle."
   "Yeah, that could be a problem," said Hank. "We might be here for a while."
   "Might be cheaper just to ship the damn thing home," said Billy
   I turned to look at Uncle Billy. "I checked that out, remember? Its was $700."
   "Well, we could rack up the much cooling our heels here in Eau Claire."
   I turned back to the front. The tow truck driver was securing the Jag to the truck bed. "Well, let's see what the mechanic says when we get it to the garage. We were lucky to find a place that works on classic sports cars."
   "You think he might be interested in buying it?" asked Billy.
   I turned back to him. "We're not selling it, Uncle."
   "You're not the one paying for all this, remember?"
   I winced slightly and turned back to the front. "Well, your old army buddy would be disappointed if you didn't at least try to get it home."
   Billy glanced skyward. "He's probably laughing his ass off right now at the great joke he played on me."
   My feet began to tingle as they slowed thawed in the warm air from the heater. "I'm going to have to get some warmer socks if I drive that thing anymore in this weather."
   "I'm not riding all the way to Detroit in that thing, I'll tell you that."
   "I need the company, Uncle ... there's no radio either."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ten Lives

    An audio version of this post can be found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFqdiPpktT0&feature=youtu.be


"Try it now," said Hank.
   I crossed my fingers and pushed the starter. The engine groaned and sputtered. "Nothing."
   "Okay, turn it off," said Hank.
   I turned off the key and pried myself out of the tiny cockpit. "Man, these things weren't built for tall people."
   Hank stood up and wiped his hands with an oily rag. "They weren't built to last either."
   Uncle Billy stood near the door of the old garage shaking his head, his face still reflecting the disappointment of seeing his new treasure in a state of dilapidation. "I can't believe we drove all the way to Minneapolis for this wreck."
   Hank tried to console him. "It's not so bad, Bill ... a little paint and some TLC ... it'll be fine."
   "It's a piece of junk," said Billy.
   I nodded slightly. "I thought his wife told you Bernie had restored it."
   "That's what she told me ... I guess what she meant was that he thought about restoring it."
   "Well, that's not entirely true, Bill," said Hank, "it's obviously been worked on ... it just wasn't finished."
   "It's finished, all right," said Billy.
   "No, I think Hank's right," I said, "there are several new parts on engine and the paint has been mostly stripped ... it's probably drivable."
   "Over a cliff, maybe
   "Hey, these things are classics," said Hank. "Do you know what a restored Jaguar XK120 is going for these days?"
   "The key word is restored," said Billy, "I doubt that this thing is worth the powder to blow it up."
   "Look, Uncle, we drove all the way here to pick up the car Bernie willed to you ... and we're going to bring it back with us."
   "I think you're more interested in this rolling junk pile than I am," said Billy.
   I flushed a little. "It is a classic, Uncle ... I think we can restore it ... if we can get it home."
   "That's a big if," said Hank. He leaned back over the engine and jiggled some wires. "Try it now."
   I squeezed back into the driver's seat and pressed the starter. The engine groaned and sputtered again, but this time a few spark plugs fired and it coughed to life.
   Hank stood back, a big smile on his face. "How about that," he said over the noise of the rasping engine.
   Uncle Billy moved closer and stared at the vibrating motor. I pried myself back out of the car and stood next to him.
   "You honestly think we could drive that thing back to Michigan?" he asked.
   "Well, it'll be a challenge, that's for sure."
   "Challenge?" he answered. "More like a quest."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sweet Home Chicago

   An audio version of this post can be found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2P_2-FmJk4&feature=youtu.be

  "That brunch was awesome," said Hank.
   I merged onto the expressway. "I told you you'd love it."
   Uncle Billy stared out the window. "It was okay ... we should have left this morning."
   "Relax, Bill," said Hank. "How often do you get to have breakfast at the House of Blues?"
   "Now we're behind schedule."
   "Don't worry, Uncle, we'll be in Minneapolis by evening." I sped up to pass around a slow moving truck. "We had to eat anyway ... how cool was it to have a full-on gospel group entertain you at the same time?"
   "My eggs were cold."
   "My food was great," said Hank.
   Billy turned to look at Hank in the back seat. "You'd eat road kill and think it was good."
   "Well, I liked it ... and the music was fantastic."
  "I would have rather seen a regular blues act."
  "Come on, Bill ... you have to admit ... they rocked that joint ... I saw your foot tapping."
  Billy turned back to look out of the windshield. "I said it was okay."
  I eased back into the right lane. "Well, I was blown away ... that was one of the most inspirational performances I've ever seen."
  "It moved me," said Hank, "and I don't usually go in for that kind of thing."
  "It makes a difference when you see it live," I said.
  Billy nodded. "Yeah, I remember the time I saw Buddy Guy at the House of Blues ..."
  Hank interrupted, "Wait ... you've been to the House of Blues before?"
  Billy swung around to look at Hank. "Of course ... many times."
  "I don't remember you mentioning the House of Blues before, Uncle."
  Billy turned back toward me. "I don't tell you everything, boy."
  "Yeah, but something like that? You know how much I like music ... I would've been interested."
  "When the hell did you see Buddy Guy?" asked Hank.
  Billy thought for minute. "I think it was 1991."
  "Uncle, the House of Blues didn't open in Chicago until 1996."
  "Well, maybe it wasn't at the House of Blues ..."
  "Wait a minute, Bill ... didn't you and what's her name ... go with Cal and me to see Buddy Guy at that bar in Detroit ... what was the name of that place ...?"
   Billy got silent.
   "That was it ... you, me, Cal, and that woman you were dating at the time ... what the heck was her name ... saw Buddy Guy at Baker's ... I remember it."
   "Step on it, boy ... I told Sarah we'd meet her for dinner tonight," said Billy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cat Lover

  An audio version of this post can be found at:
http://youtu.be/xcFek4b-VZU

 The waitress sidled up to the table. "Yes?"
   "Could I have a little more marinara sauce?" I asked.
   "Sure, hon." She wandered off.
   "So, let me get this straight ... Uncle Billy's cousin Bernie willed a car to him?" asked Cheryl.
   "Not just 'a' car ... a 1952 Jaguar XK one-twenty roadster." I poured a little more ground parmesan on my spaghetti.
   "And you're driving Uncle Billy to Minneapolis this weekend to pick it up?"
   "That's the plan."
   "But Billy doesn't drive ... how are you going to bring the car back?"
   "Hank is coming along ... he'll drive my car back and I'll drive Billy in his new Jag."
   "1952 isn't exactly new."
   "It is to him. He and Bernie used to dream about owning one when they were in the service together ... but Bernie did well enough to actually buy one and have it restored ... his wife called Billy last week and told him about it."
   "You mean about Bernie's passing?"
   "No, about the car. Bernie died over a month ago."
   "Didn't Billy want to go to the funeral?"
   "He didn't hear about Bernie's death until after the funeral. Another cousin ... Sarah, I think he said ... sent him an email wondering why he wasn't at the service."
   "What did he tell her?"
   "That was the first time he'd heard about it."
   "Really? No one told him his cousin had passed? I thought they were close."
   "Well, I guess he and Bernie had drifted apart ... he said he hadn't talked to him in over twenty years."
   "And Bernie left him a car?"
   "Evidently he specified that the Jag went to Billy in his will ... probably because he knew how much Billy wanted one."
   "What is he going to do with a car that he can't drive?"
   "Probably just look at it." I smiled at the thought of Uncle Billy standing in the parking lot of Back in the Day apartments, staring at the Jag. "No, seriously, he'll probably want to keep it in our garage and have me use it to take him around on his errands."
   Cheryl laughed. "Oh, now I get it ... you're the one who is excited by this deal."
   "I'd be lying if denied that."
 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Manhattan Project

An audio version of this post can be found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D3mgX6V7M0&feature=youtu.be


 I slid my tray on the table and sat down. "So, how was New York," I asked.
   Clara smiled, "It was lovely ... we had the best time."
   "Sounds like you timed it right." I took the lid off my coffee to let it cool.
   "You mean because of Sandy?"
   "Yeah ... you and Alex might have gotten stuck there."
   She smiled again. "Hmmm, maybe that wouldn't have been so bad."
   "I hear conditions were just awful." I took a bite of my breakfast sandwich.
   Clara's face grew serious. "Yes ... those poor folks."
   I nodded as I chewed. Finally, I said, "They took a pounding, all right."
   She frowned. "Some of the stories I heard ... my heart just aches for them."
   "Yeah, me too." I looked out the window at the gray fall day. After a few seconds, I said, "So, what happened with the publisher ... did you meet with him?"
   Her face relaxed. "Oh, Alex's cousin, David Heath ... yes, I met him."
   "And?"
   "It was a very nice meeting. I learned a lot." Clara was suddenly acting a little coy.
   "Did he make you an offer?"
   She took a sip of her coffee, set the cup down and said, "Yes ... but I turned it down."
   I blinked in disbelief. "You ... you turned down his offer?"
   "I told you I learned a lot ... you have to remember, in spite of the success I've had so far, I'm still a new ... and very low ranking author."
   "What does that mean?"
   "It means I would get very little support from the publisher ... and very little royalty from sales."
   "He told you that?"
   "Not exactly in those words ... but I could put two and two together ... it wasn't really that attractive of an offer ... I think I can do better with the approach I'm taking."
   "As an independent?"
   "Yes."
   I shook my head slowly. "Boy, I don't know that I would have the courage to turn down an offer from a New York publisher ... but then, I'm not exactly lighting up the Internet with my book sales."
   Clara reached out and patted my hand. "It'll pick up ... just keep at it."
   "I'm trying ..."
   "By the way, I heard you missed an opportunity to sell some books with Eb and Irv Nesbaum."
   I flushed slightly. "You did?"
   "Yes ... William told me about it."
   "He did, eh?"
   "So, when are you going to start taking text messages?"
   I sighed. "You too, Clara?"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2 txt or not 2 txt?

An audio version of this post can be found at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC-dutiyy_M&feature=youtu.be


   Uncle Billy opened the door and let me in.
   "Everyone wondered where you were," I said. I sniffed the air. "What have you been cooking in here?"
   "Liver and onions. You want some?"
  "No ... thankfully, I already ate." I sat at the kitchen table.
   Billy grabbed two cans of beer out of the refrigerator. "You don't know what you're missing."
   "I'll take your word for it ... so why didn't you come to Reggies?"
   Billy sat across from me and slid one of the cans toward me. "I knew what was going to happen ... I couldn't stand watching the Tigers blow it."
   I opened my beer. "You didn't watch any of the games?"
   "I watched Verlander get shelled in the first one ... that was enough for me."
   "What if they had staged a miraculous come back?"
   Billy paused while he took a drink of his beer. Then he said, "I would have watched."
   "I mean, how would you have known?"
   He set the can down. "Somebody would've texted me."
   "Of course."
   "Oh ... I forgot ... you don't do that do you? When are you going to join the twenty-first century boyo?"
   "I don't know ... maybe I should ... evidently Irv Nesbaum tried to send me a text about a book signing sponsored by the chamber of commerce ... and I missed it."
   "I heard about that ... Eb said he sold seventy-two books."
   "I still don't know why Irv couldn't have called me." I took a sip of my beer.
   "How would he know that you're the only person on the planet who doesn't receive text messages?"
   I tapped the can in front of me. "I wonder why he didn't call to follow-up when he didn't get a response from me."
   "Do you think Irv has time to fool around with a phone call?"
   "How long does that take? Isn't it faster than writing out a message anyway? I mean, didn't they invent the telephone so people could actually talk to each other instead of writing letters and telegrams?"
   Billy pulled his phone out of his pocket and held it up for a visual aid. "What if you don't want to talk ... what if you just want to get a message out?"
   "Why wouldn't you want to talk?"
    He waved the phone at me. "You might busy and you just don't want to get engaged at that moment."
   "That's why everyone texts?"
   He set the phone on the table next his beer."Well, partly ... I suppose there are other reasons ... what difference does it make? You missed an opportunity to sell some books because you don't ... right?"
   "I can't deny that."
   "So are you going to start texting?"
   "I call and let you know."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Play Ball!

An audio version of this post can be found at: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dsmH8S9hxM&feature=youtu.be

  I looked around Reggie's Bar and Grill until I spotted Hank waving to me. I waved back and made my way toward him.
   "You made it," said Hank when I arrived at the table.
   "Yep." I starred at the pleasant looking woman who was sitting next him.
   "Oh, this Dorothy," said Hank, draping his arm around her chair. "Dorothy, this is Chris, Bill's nephew."
   She held out her hand to me. "Hello, Chris."
   I took her hand in mine and pumped it gently a couple of times. "Nice to meet you, Dorothy."
   Her face broke into a grin that caused plump cheeks to lift a pair of wire-rimmed glasses off her nose. "Please, call me Dottie ... everyone does."
   I let go of her hand. "Okay, Dottie it is."
   "Dottie is a big Tiger fan," said Hank.
   I sat down in a chair across the table from her. "Well, you've come to the right spot." I looked at Hank. "Where is everybody?"
   "I don't know." He looked at his watch. "We got here a little early, but ..."
   A pitcher of beer suddenly appeared in front of me. I looked up at Nancy, the ever-present waitress at Reggie's. "Hi, Nancy."
   "Hi, ya ... where's the rest of ya?"
   "I was just asking Hank the same thing."
   "They'll be along," said Hank. "No one wants to miss the opening ceremony of the World Series."
   "I'll get some more glasses," said Nancy. She turned and walked away.
   "So, Dottie, how long have you known Hank?" I asked.
   Hank answered for her. "Oh, we've know each other for ages. Dottie's my favorite cashier at VG's Market."
   "No kidding?" I said. "I'm not sure I've seen you there, Dottie."
   Hank continued to speak for her. "Oh, she doesn't work at the one you go to ... it's the one out on fifty-nine."
   I kept my gaze on Dottie. "So, how long have you worked there?"
   "Gee, I don't know," said Hank, "how long has it been, Dottie?"
   Dottie smiled, "I've been there eight years, Chris."
   Just then, Mary and Becky appeared at the table.
   "Hi, guys," said Hank. "Meet Dottie."
   "Hello, Dottie, I'm Becky." They shook hands briefly.
   Mary sat in a chair next to Dottie and introduced herself.
   Becky sat down next to me. "Hello, Chris."
   "Hi, Becky ... where's Eb?"
   "Oh, he's at book signing with Irv Nesbaum," she said. "He said he'd be here by the second or third inning."
   "A book signing with Irv?" I wondered aloud. "How'd that happen?"
   "Irv asked him to join him at an event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce ... I guess they are acknowledging local authors."
   "No kidding?"
   Nancy came by and set a glass in front of her.
   "Thanks," said Becky. She continued to me,"I'm surprised you didn't know about it."
   "I hadn't heard a thing," I said.
   I could see her flush slightly and she turned her attention to the big screen on the wall. A beer ad was on. "They haven't thrown out the first pitch yet, have they?"
 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Applesauce

   "Clara's going to New York with Alex?"
   "Yeah ... better get in the left turn lane," said Billy.
   "I know where to turn, Uncle ... I've been taking you here for six years ... so what is this about?" I eased the car in the middle lane and flicked on the turn signal.
   "I need to get my lotto ticket and ... "
   "I know why we're going to Manny's ... why is Clara going to New York with Alex?"
   "Oh. She claims that Alex has a cousin in the publishing business and he's set up a meeting with him."
   I turned into Manny's parking lot. "Really? Alex has a cousin in the business?"
   "That's exactly what I said."
   "You think that something else is going on?"
   "You know, I was born at night ... but not last night."
   "So, what's your theory?"
   "Hello? Is your brain at home? Hey, there's a spot ..."
   "I see it." I turned down the row with the empty parking spot. "You think Alex is just taking her on a vacation to New York?"
   "Of course ... a cousin in the publishing business ... how lame is that?"
   I pulled into the open space. "I suppose it's possible ... besides, you don't have any room to talk ... you've gone to Branson with Alma Beeler."
   "That's different."
   I shut of the engine. "Oh? Exactly how is that different?"
   "I didn't pretend that I was going on business trip."
   "So, that make's it okay?"
   "Well, yes ... at least I was up front about it."
   "You told Clara you were going to Branson with Alma?"
   "No ... but I didn't tell her Alma had a cousin singing with the Oak Ridge Boys, either." Billy opened the door to get out. "You want a ticket?"
   I nodded.
   Billy held out his hand. "Well?"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Read Right

   The door slid open and Cheryl stepped onto the deck. "What are you reading?"
   I held up the book so she could read the title.
   "High Class Games?"
   I turned the book so I could see the title. "Yep."
   "Who's it by?"
   "Richard McCoy."
   She sat on the bench facing my chair. "Oh yeah, I've heard of him. He's got a series out about ... about ..."
   "Mersey Goldman."
   "Right ... the seedy lawyer in Florida who is always getting into crazy cases."
   "That's the one." I set the book down in my lap and reached for the coffee cup at my feet. "Clara told me I have to read this guy ... that his style is similar to mine."
   "I was wondering ... I rarely see you with a fiction book in your hands."
   "You know my motto ..."
   "... 'The bad ones bore you and the good ones make you jealous' ... well, is it?"
   "Is it what?"
   "Is his style like yours?"
   I took another sip of coffee and pondered the fall colors of the trees for few seconds. "I don't know ...  I could see how Clara might draw that conclusion ... I mean, there are some things about the characters that are ... I guess you might say similar ... but that's about all I see."
   "Is it good?"
   I looked at the book in my lap. "Yes, it's pretty entertaining."
   "Does that mean it's good?"
   "Well, that's what's it all about, isn't it? I mean, if you can entertain your audience, you've done well, right?"
   "Yes."
   "This guy has a publishing contract and about eight books out in this series ... he must be doing something right."
   She closed her eyes and turned her face toward the sun. "How's your next book coming?"
   I set the coffee cup down. "Should have it done by the time McCoy gets to number sixteen in the series."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Virtual Frustration

   I approached the table gingerly, my eyes slowly adjusting to the dim light. Hank was the first to spot me.
   "Hey, Chris ... you made it."
   Uncle Billy set his beer on the table and looked up. "I thought you were attending that webinar ... the one about marketing books."
   Eb slid out the empty chair next to his. "Here ya go, Chris."
   I sat down. "I tried ... I couldn't figure out how to join the session."
   "I don't get that high-tech stuff either," said Eb. He put up his arm and shouted to the waitress. "Hey, can we get another glass over here?"
   "I was kinda cheesed off ... I arranged my afternoon around around that stupid thing."
   "What happened?" asked Becky.
   "I don't know ... I tried to join the session and kept getting a message that I was already in a session and couldn't join another."
   "Couldn't you log out of the session you were supposedly in?" she asked.
   "Not that I could see ... there really wasn't much information on the site ... I ..."
   The waitress set a glass in front or me. "Oh, thank you."
   She winked at me. "You're welcome, sweetie." Then she walked away.
   Eb grabbed the glass and filled it from a pitcher of beer. "Here ya go, partner."
   "Thanks, Eb." I picked up the glass and took a long swallow.
   "I had a similar experience," said Mary. "I couldn't get into a session ... but I got a message that the session was full."
   "How can a web-based meeting be full?" asked Hank.
   "Maybe the presenter only wants so many participants ... you know, so he can respond to them all." Everyone turned toward Billy.
   "What if you just wanted to eavesdrop on the session ... sorta like auditing a college class," asked Hank.
   "Who knows?" said Billy. "All I know is the game is starting and I'd like you all to shut up so I can hear the lineups."
   "You think they'll change from yesterday?" asked Eb.
   Bill ignored him, intent on the television screen.
   "He needs the official line-up, Eb," said Hank. "It's for his rotisserie baseball league."
 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Winter Harbinger

   "Hand me that allen wrench, will you?"
   Uncle Billy looked around the deck. "What allen wrench?"
   I rose to my knees and reached for the tool sitting on the rail. "Never mind ... I'll get it."
   "Oh, that allen wrench." Billy took a sip of his beer.
   I grabbed it and sat back down, crossing my legs. "How was your date with Clara?"
   "What date?"
   I spun an upended table around to gain access to screws that held the legs in place. "I thought you took her to the Tiger game the other day?"
   Billy set his beer can down next to his feet and leaned back in his chair. "We went to the game together ... that doesn't make it a date."
   I pulled the first screw out and turned the table again. "I wonder if that's how Clara looks at it."
   "She looks at it the same as I do ... two people went to a ballgame."
   "Do you suppose Alma would look at it that way?"
   Billy sat forward and picked up his beer. "How would she even know about it?"
   I pulled out another screw. "I'm not saying she does, I was just curious how she might feel about you going to a ballgame with Clara."
   "Oh, that's right ... you writers are just naturally curious, aren't you?"
   "I suppose we are."
   "Okay, Bernstein, here's a question for you ... why the hell are you taking that crappy old table apart?"
   I pulled out a leg. "So I can store it for the winter."
   "Isn't that outdoor furniture?"
   I pulled out another leg. "Yes."
   "And you store it because ..."
   I pulled out the final leg. "It lasts longer if I put it in the garage for the winter."
   "Judging by the shape of that thing, I don't think your theory is sound."
   I struggled to my feet. "Hey, we've had this table for eight years."
   "That's all?"
   "I don't think it looks that bad."
   "I suppose you're going to want me to help you drag that junk around to the garage, eh?"
   "I could use a little help."
   Billy stood up. "So could this deck ... when was the time you had it stained?"
   I stood the legless table top on end. "I don't know what I'd do without your helpful insights."
   "Me neither." Billy drained his beer.
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bunky Takes a Bow

   I set my coffee on the table and sat down across from Clara.
   She smiled and asked, "Have you heard the news about Eb?"
   "If you mean the clutch strike he threw last night to win the game for our bowling team ... yes, I was there."
   "No, I mean about his book being endorsed by the Ding Dong School."
   "Ding Dong School?"
   "It's a hot new website for preschoolers and ..."
   "Preschoolers have a website?"
   "Where have you been, Chris ... there are hundreds of them."
   "You know, me, Clara ... I'm the last know anything."
   "Now, that's not true ... "
   "Just ask Uncle Billy ... anyway, what's this about Eb being endorsed by a website?"
   "Ding Dong School ... they reviewed Bunky Takes a Nap and gave it a five handprint endorsement."
   "Five handprint?"
   "It's the symbol they use ... you know, like movie critics often use stars ... a good movie gets four or five stars ..."
   "Oh, yeah."
   "... well, Ding Dong School uses hand prints ... and Eb's book got five."
   "Wow, that sounds good."
   "Good? Ding Dong is one of the premier on-line destinations for kids ... and their parents ... do you know what this could mean for Eb?"
   I rubbed my chin. "I see what you mean."
   "Getting an endorsement from a high-profile website like that could launch him into the stratosphere ... you could have a celebrity for a friend."
   "That's amazing."
   "You must be proud ... after all, you're the one who helped him realize his goal."
   "I don't know about that ... but, I'm certainly happy for him."
   Clara looked at her watch. "Oh, shoot ... I've got to leave."
   "Leave? I just got here."
   "Didn't you get my text?"
   "No, I don't ..."
   "Oh, that's right ... I keep forgetting ... you don't read texts ..."
   "Well, it's not exactly that I don't read them ... my phone doesn't receive them ... anyway, why do you have to leave?"
   "William is taking me to the ballgame this afternoon, and I have to drop off some copies of my book at the library before he picks me up."
   "You're going to the game with Uncle Billy?"
   Clara stood up to leave. "Hey, the Tigers are in a pennant race."
 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dry Night

   The team held it's collective breath as the ten-pin teetered momentarily, finally succumbing to gravity and falling in to the gutter to complete the strike and win the game for the team. A cheer went up and Hank, Uncle Billy and I charged onto the lane to congratulate Eb with friendly back-slaps, high-fives and hair ruffling.
   "Way to go, Eb!" shouted Hank.
   "Great job!" I added.
   "Didn't think you had it in you," said Billy.
    We guided Eb back to his seat, a smile creasing his face.
   Hank plopped down beside him. "I'm buying your first beer, young man."
   "Hey, how about me?" said Billy. "Don't forget that turkey I threw in the middle frames set this up."
   Hank looked up at him. "I didn't forget, Bill ... I'm buying a round for everyone."
   I slipped off my shoes and grabbed my street shoes from the beneath my seat. "I'll have to take a rain check, Hank."
   "Where are you going?" asked Billy.
   "I gotta get home ..."
   "What? And miss free beer?" asked Eb.
   "I sure hate to, but I've got an early call tomorrow."
   "What's going on?" asked Hank.
   "I have a job interview."
   "No kidding?" said Hank.
   I laced up my shoes. "They're looking for tutors at Knowledge World."
   "What's that?" asked Eb.
   "Teaching rug-rats their ABC's," said Billy.
   I finished tying my shoes and gave Billy a sideways glance. "I think it's for kids who need extra help in school."
   "Hey, that's great," said Eb, still smiling from ear to ear. "But are you sure you don't have time for one beer?"
   "Sorry, Eb."
   "He needs his beauty rest," said Billy, "or it'll be all he can do to fill out that application."
   "Is that something you want to do?" asked Hank.
   I grabbed the bowling shoes and stood up. "Not necessarily ... but I could use a little extra jing at the moment."
   "It was either that or Walmart greeter," said Billy.
 
 
 
 

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Postman Always Rings Twice

   I flicked on my right turn signal and started to turn out of Back in the Day parking lot to head for Manny's Deli and Liquor.
   "Hey, do me a favor," said Uncle Billy, "and swing by the mailbox, will you?"
   I stopped the car. "Mailbox? Where is there a mailbox?"
   Billy pointed to the left. "There's one in the neighborhood ... a couple blocks up."
   I flicked on the left turn signal and turned left onto the side street. "Why do you want to go there?"
   Billy rolled his eyes. "Um, let me think ... oh, yeah, to mail a letter."
   "I guessed that ... don't they have mail pick-up at the facility?"
   "Yes."
   "So ... "
   "What do you care? Can't you just take me to the mailbox."
   I noticed he was tapping an envelope on his thigh. "I'll take you to the mailbox ... I'm just curious why you wouldn't just drop off at your apartment."
   "Maybe I don't want everyone knowing my business ... including nephews."
   "Okay, okay ... it's none of my business."
   He stopped tapping the envelope and I saw the words 'Suburban Senior News' in the address line.
   "Suburban Senior News?" I blurted out.
   He looked down at the envelope and flipped it over so the address was no longer visible. "Didn't I just say that I don't want everyone knowing my business?"
   "I'm sorry ... but the address was right there ..."
   "Maybe if you kept your eyes on the road instead of my personal correspondence we could get this letter mailed and get to Manny's before it closes."
   I slowed to a stop in front of the mailbox. "We've been through this before, Uncle ... Manny's never closes."
   "By the time you finish reading my mail, they'll probably be sold out of Scotch."
   "I'm not reading your mail ... I just happened to see the address ... the letter was sitting right there on your leg ..."
   "Okay, if you must know, Kojak ... Clara told me there were some good coupons for seniors in this stupid rag ... so, I figured I'd take advantage of them."
   "Well, that makes sense," I said. "But I still don't see why you couldn't mail at the facility."
   "You just have to know everything, don't you?"
   "I'm just curious ..."
   "Look, Stella Rochelle gives the mail to give to the postman and Stella is the number-one gossip in the joint and she just happens to be friendly with Clara ... you figure it out."
   "So what if she told Clara that you ordered the Suburban Senior News?"
   "And let Clara think she had a good idea?"
 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dream On

   The room held its collective breath as Austin Jackson sprinted toward deep center, chasing down a long fly that looked, for all the world, like it would drop behind him, sending the tying runs home for Chicago. When the ball settled into his glove, a cheer went up in the bar like Detroit had just won the seventh game of the World Series; beer and popcorn seemed to be flying everywhere.
   "Oh man, was that fantastic or what?" said Hank.
   "My heart can start beating again," said Rebecca.
   Uncle Billy brushed popcorn off the table in front of him. "It's just one series ... in case you haven't noticed, it's only September 2 ... there is still a lot of baseball to played."
   I shook my head. "Uncle, you sure know how to take the fun out of a moment."
   Billy looked around at the beaming faces and back slapping going on around the table. "What? I'm just trying to be realistic."
   "I know ... but that was a big series ... we're tied for first place."
   "For a day ... they'll lose to Cleveland tomorrow and we'll be back in second."
   Hank poured beer into Billy's half-full glass. "Bill, you couldn't find joy in a moment if you won the Lotto."
   "Sure I can ... I've just been a Tiger fan for too long ... I know they'll stumble sooner or later."
   Mary brushed popcorn off Eb's chest. "Maybe they will, but can't we enjoy this victory?"
   "I'm enjoying it," said Billy.
   "You couldn't tell, Uncle," I said.
   "Look, I'm as happy as anyone that they just swept Chicago for a share of first place ... I just happen to know this script ... they'll keep us hoping until the end, and then rip our hearts out and stomp on them."
   "Hey, they won the division last year and went to the playoffs," said Eb.
   Billy sneered. "Right ... and what happened? They lost the pennant to the Rangers."
   "So what?" said Eb. "We got to see 'em play in October."
   "That's right," I added, "all you can ask is for meaningful games in September and a chance to play into October."
   Billy stood up and threw a ten dollar bill on the table. "That ought to cover my share of the tab ... I'm leaving you dreamers to your fantasies."
   "Where are you going, Uncle?"
   "I'm taking Alma to the Casino."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Signing Bonus

   I set my copy of Bucky Bunny takes a Nap on the table in front of Eb. "Make it 'To Chris'," I said.
   Eb looked up. "Oh, hi, Chris. I didn't see you in line."
   I looked back at the short line of people behind me. "How about that, Eb, you've drawn a crowd."
   Eb blushed. "I couldn't have done this without you, you know."
   "How so? You wrote it."
   "Well, first of all, I never would have even tried it if I didn't know you'd published a book."
   "It's not that hard for an indie author to get a book out these days ... you have a publisher!"
   "Yeah, but I wouldn't even have tried writing without your inspiration."
   I could feel the impatience of the folks behind me. "Better put your John Hancock on that ... we can chat more over a beer later."
   "Billy said something about meeting at Cee Jay's ... I'm getting mighty thirsty."
   "Well, bask in the limelight while you can ... trust me, it doesn't last long."
   Eb scrawled his name on the title page of my book. "This is a little embarrassing, you know."
   "Why?"
   "You know ... you're a published author and all ... "
   "I'm just a fan today."
   "It's still embarrassing."
   "I'm proud you, Eb ... it's no small thing to get a book published ... and now look at you ... a book signing at Barnes & Noble."
   Eb blushed again. "It's a little overwhelming."
   A voice from behind me said, "Hey, you about done there? I'd like to get this signed for my grandson before he goes off to college."
   I turned to see a thick-set man, in shorts, a tee-shirt and a Detroit Tiger's ball cap giving me the fish eye. "Sorry, the author's a friend of mine," I said.
   "Well, aren't you lucky," he answered. "You think you could get him to sign my book?"
   I turned back Eb. "Better go ... the crowd's getting ugly."
   Eb handed the book back to me. "See you at Cee Jay's?"
   "I'll be there."
   I stepped away from the table and watched the Tiger Hat guy hand Eb his book. "Make it out to Ronnie."
   Eb smiled and took the book. "Sure thing ...  can you spell that?"
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wash Day Blues

   Uncle Billy followed me into the laundry mat, clutching a heavy sack of change. "You really need this whole bag of quarters?"
   "Yep." I set a laundry bag of dirty clothes on floor next to the huge front-loading washer.
   Billy surveyed the seven large bags that were lined in front of the row of washers. "I suppose you do."
   I took of my cap and mopped my brow. "How about helping me load these washers?"
   "Do you really think camping in the north woods for two weeks is worth this?"
   "I do." I opened the door on the first washer and started stuffing in the contents of the bag in front of it.
   Billy opened the door of the next machine and started putting in laundry. "Well, I think you're nuts."
   "You wouldn't be alone, Uncle ... but Cheryl and I love it ... there is nothing like sleeping in the woods."
   "No ... I'm sure there isn't ... but, I'll take my Posturepedic, thank you very much."
   "Speaking of travel, I heard you went to that new casino in Toledo with Alma Beeler."
   Uncle Billy stopped loading and stood to look at me. "Who told you that?"
   "Clara mentioned it."
   "When did you talk to her?"
   "She called me up north to ask if we had time to stop by Saginaw on our way home ..."
   "Oh ... something to do with that four-flusher Alex What's-his-Putz?"
   I closed the door to the washer and stood up. "Heath ... his name is Alex Heath."
   "Whatever ... he's still a putz."
   "Anyway, Clara was doing another book signing and thought it might be good for me to show up and maybe sell a few of my books." I walked past Billy to the next washer and starting loading it with laundry.
   "So Clara told you I went out with Alma, eh? How'd she know that?"
   "I didn't ask her that ... I just asked her if she'd seen you while we were gone and ..."
   "What'd she say?"
   "I don't know ...  something like, 'William is fine, in fact I believe he went to Toledo with Mrs. Beeler this weekend'."
   Billy shook his head. "Man, that woman doesn't miss anything." Then he scowled. "Why should she be so interested in my business?"
   I forced the crammed washer shut and stood again to look at Billy. "She cares about you, Uncle ... that's why she's interested."
   "Well, if that's true, then why did she go to Saginaw to see Alex What's-his-Putz?"
   "What do you expect her to do ... sit around and wait for you to call? Besides, she had business in Saginaw."
   "Like that's the only book store in Michigan."
   I sighed. "Uncle, it's an opportunity for her."
   "Right ... an opportunity to cash in on a relationship with What's-his-Putz ... so, did you?"
   "Did I what?"
   "Stop in Saginaw."
   "No, we didn't have time ... besides I don't have any more books."
   Billy's face got serious. "Hey, is this a ploy to borrow money?"

 
 
 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dynamo Hum


What a ride! I met this cute little desktop in Russia ... let me tell you, she was hard-wired! But, ooooooo is my processor throbbing ... I need a shot of ozone in the ol' USB.
Anyway, I sure hope the meat-sack doesn't fine out that I sold his ID for that PayPal credit when he gets back next week ... hey, I had to have a little juice for the party.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's Party Time

The ol' meat sack is on another so-called hiatus ... which means I'll be running the show around for a couple of weeks. No new posts or comments while Chris is gone, but I'll cruising the Internet, looking for action ... anyone know where I can find a wild digital party ... you know, the kind with lots of loose electrons?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Market Share

   Clara took a sip of her coffee and said, "William mentioned something about his friend, Eb, writing a book."
   I swallowed a bite of my Egg McMuffin and nodded. "Yep ... it's a children's book."
   "Isn't that something?" Clara said, her coffee cup poised beneath her mouth.
   "Yes ... I sure was surprised ... not that I didn't think Eb was capable of it, he just never seemed to express much interest in that sort of thing."
   She set down her coffee. "Have you seen it?"
   "Yes ... he showed me a proof copy ... it looks great."
   "He's an artist?"
   "No, no ... he found an art student to help him."
   "That was pretty resourceful. How is he publishing it?"
   "He's got a small publisher lined up ... he wanted my opinion about it."
   "What did you tell him?"
   "I told him if they don't offer to seriously market the book, he might as well go independent."
   Clara picked up her coffee again. "I suppose that is one way to look at it."
   "Getting a book published these days is easy, so why give up any part of your royalties if you have to do all the marketing ... that's the hard part."
   She took a sip of coffee and thought about it. Finally she said, "Well, I guess I couldn't argue with that logic ... however, I'm not sure I'd turn down an offer from a publisher."
   "But you've done very well as an independent."
   "That's true, but, your chances of getting on the shelves of bookstores is much better ... and there is a certain ... um ... cachet that goes with a publisher."
   I sighed. "Yeah, that's true ... especially if it's one of the biggies ... but this is a small publisher."
   "So, what is Eb going to do?"
   "I think he's going to go with them ... he's just not confident enough to go it solo."
   "I can understand that."
   "I just can't believe that Eb managed to attract that attention of a publisher ... regardless of the size."
   "He must have a lot of determination."
   I starred out of the window. "I wish I had more of that."
   "Oh, I didn't mean to say you don't have determination," she added.
   "That's okay, Clara. I know what my limitations are."
   She patted my hand. "You've got more than you know ... determination, that is ... I know you'll do well, eventually."
   I smiled. "No doubt ... thanks for the vote of confidence."
   Clara smiled back. "Everyone has faith in you."
   "Except Uncle Billy."
   "Oh, no ... your Uncle is very proud of you."
   I smiled at Clara. "Maybe someday he'll even read one of my books."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Java Jive

   "I'll have a medium black coffee, please," I said.
   The pleasant looking girl behind the counter stared blankly at me.
   "He wants a grande regular," interpreted Eb.
   The girl smiled. "One grande."
   "And I'll have a double tall cappuccino, extra-dry," he said.
   "A double tall cap, extra-dry," she repeated.
   She banged on the cash register for a moment, then said, "That'll be five fifty-six."
   I whistled quietly.
   Eb had his wallet out in a flash. "I've got it." He handed the girl a ten.
   "Gee, thanks, Eb."
   "My pleasure, Chris ... after all, you're helping me get my book launched."
   The girl handed Eb the change, then asked, "Name?"
   "Eb."
   "Ed?" she asked.
   "Eeee, Beeee ... Eb," he said patiently.
   She nodded. "Your order will be up in a couple of minutes."
   "Thanks," said Eb. He pointed to nearby table. "Let's sit over there."
   I followed him to the table, sat down across from him, and watched him pull a proof copy of Bucky Bunny takes a Nap from his nap sack.
   He looked at the book briefly, then and handed it to me. "Here it is."
   I stared at the professionally rendered picture of a cute, but somewhat demented pink-colored, floppy eared rabbit on the cover. "Wow, this looks great, Eb."
   Eb smiled. "Really? You think so?"
   "Absolutely ... your guy did a great job." I started flipping through the book.
   "It was your suggestion to post a request for an artist at the Center for Creative Studies."
   I stopped at the page portraying Bunky curled up in his nest sleeping, a thought balloon over his head showed a row of carrots in a garden. The caption read, Bucky dreamed of treats in Farmer John's patch. "Well, I'm impressed," I said.
   "Eb," yelled the girl behind the counter.
   Eb held up his hand. "I thought the pictures looked good."
   "Have you decided how you're going to publish?"
   "That's what I wanted to talk to you about ... I've got an offer from a publisher, and ..."
   "Eb," the girl yelled a little louder.
   He waved his hand, but she still didn't see him. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about."
   "I'm indie author, Eb, I don't know what advice I could offer."
   "Eb," she yelled again.
   Eb stood up. "You know the business, Chris."
   "About as well as I know how to order coffee these days," I said. "Better go get our order."
 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You Never Know

   "Honestly, I didn't think you'd go," I said.
   "Why? Just because Irv Nesbaum is a putz?" Billy replied. "Hey, you better get over ... Manny's is in the next block, you know."
   I eased the car into the left lane. "I know where Manny's is, Uncle ... I've been taking you there for five years." I slid into the turn lane. "Well, I was surprised you went."
   "I've got no problem with Irv these days ... he's a putz, but I let that go."
   "Well, you seemed to get along okay." I turned into the jammed parking lot. "What the heck is going on at Manny's?"
   "Must be the lotto crowd ... it's up to four-hundred mil ... hey, there's a spot," said Billy.
   As I neared it, a hidden motorcycle was revealed. "Nope." I cruised down the lane. "I saw you chatting with him for quite a while ... what were you talking about?"
   "He was just telling about his new place on Orchard Lake ... sounds like quite a layout."
   "Hard to believe that the guy was selling hardware at Home Depot just a year ago."
   "Just goes to show what a little hustle can do when you're marketing books."
   I glanced over at Billy. "It's not the books that made the money, you know ... it was all the endorsements and speaking engagements."
   "Did you know he has his own line of hardware now?" said Billy. "Oh, hey ... that guy's leaving ...  put your blinker on."
   I stopped and watched the man get into his car. "That's what I'm talking about ... Irv really found a hot topic to write about."
   "So, why don't you do something like that?"
   "I'm a fiction writer, Uncle."
   "There doesn't seem to be any money in that."
   A second car pulled up behind me and tooted his horn. "I don't do it for money, you know." I flicked on my blinker and waved the other car around.
   "That's for sure ... what the heck is that guy doing?"
   "He's taking his time, that's for sure."
   "So, are you buying a lotto ticket?"
   I watched the first car finally pull out of the parking space. "Yeah."
   "Cheryl told me you had a dream about hitting it."
   I maneuvered my car into the slot. "She told you that?"
   "You seem embarrassed."
   "It was a stupid dream."
   "So, why are you buying a ticket?"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Movin' on Up

   "Oh, hi, Alma. Come on in." I opened the screen door for her.
   "Thank you, Chris ... it is a little warm out here."
   "How are you?" I asked as she stepped inside.
   "Fine, fine ... how about you?"
   "Keepin' on ... you know how it goes." I looked past her at the moving van parked in front of the Nesbaum's house. "What's going on out there?"
   "You haven't heard?" She seemed pleased to offer a scoop. "Irv and Marge are moving."
   "Moving? Really?"
   "Yes ... they bought a new house on Orchard Lake."
   I watched Irv gesturing to the van driver as he backed up the truck in the driveway."Orchard Lake. Wow, ol' Irv is moving up in the world."
   Alma nodded. "I guess his new career has worked out rather well."
   "You mean as an author?"
   "Yes ... but, I think it is really all the speaking engagements he's done over the past year. And the new book has done quite well, too ... I heard he was going to be on the Today Show next month."
   "I did hear that ... he sent out a notice on Facebook ... but he didn't mention anything about moving."
   "Yes, it was a bit of a surprise ... in fact, that's why I'm here ... I'm inviting the neighbors to stop by for a little social gathering at my place this afternoon ... a sort of impromptu going away party."
   I saw the van driver jump out of the truck and walk over to Irv. "What time?"
   "I was thinking around five ... I hope Marge and Irv will be available by then."
   "Well, I'll certainly be there."
   "Oh, good." Alma reached for the door to leave and then paused. "Say, could you see if your uncle would be interested in coming?"
   "Billy? I'm not sure how happy Irv would be to see him ... those two haven't been the closest of friends."
   "You think not?"
   I blushed slightly. "You know, Irv has caused Billy some ... uh ... well, embarrassment."
   "I'm sure they're over that ... I know Irv would like to see him."
   "Okay ... I don't know what he's doing today, but I'll give him a call."
   Alma smiled. "I hope he can." She open the door and stepped out into the hot sun. "I haven't seen him since we went to Branson."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another Round

   Rod and Mario were lamenting a painful Tiger's loss.
   I took the last swallow from my beer. "Please, turn it off Roger."
   The bartender reached for the remote. "You boys want another round," he said, flicking through the channels on the TV.
   "I sure could use one," said Uncle Billy.
   "You buying?" I asked.
   "I thought you were," said Billy. "Isn't this the day you get your royalty payment?"
   "You remembered?"
   "I never forget anything that means you have money to buy beer."
   I put my arms on the bar and leaned forward. "Well, this month the stipend was a little meager."
   "What? No three digit deposit?"
   "No ... only forty bucks."
   "Forty bucks? That's a 60% decrease."
   I looked a Billy. "So, you're an accountant now?"
   "Why the big drop off?"
   "Who knows?"
   "I thought you said you were going to do a better job marketing Headwind than that other book ..."
   "Northern Cross."
   "Yeah, Northern Whatever. What happened?"
   I pushed my hat back and rubbed my face. "What can I say ... I suck at marketing."
   "Come on ... how hard can it be?"
   "It's extremely hard ... especially marketing something as esoteric as a book. You've got to build a platform and ..."
   "Platform? What the hell is that?"
   "Your image, I guess. You know, what you're all about."
   "Well that sounds like about ten minutes of effort on your part," said Billy. "Hey, Roger, bring us that round."
   The bartender set down the remote. "Sure, Billy."
   "You're buying?" I asked.
   "Why should we all suffer because you can't hustle your books?"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Size Matters

   "Mr. Hudson is an author, Jason," said Clara.
   The boy slid into the booth next to her. "You mean he writes books like you, Grandma?
   Clara nodded. "Sort of ... only his are meant for a different audience."
   I set down my coffee and reached across the table for the boy's hand. "Nice to meet you, Jason."
   Jason took my hand and shook it briefly. "Nice to meet you, sir."
   "None of that 'sir' stuff ... just Chris is fine."
   Clara frowned. "Mr. Hudson ... his parents are trying to teach him to respect his elders."
   I smiled. "Okay ... 'Mr. Hudson', then."
   Jason ignored us and opened the wrapping on his hamburger.
   Clara watched him bite into the sandwich. "Jason is staying with me for the weekend."
   "I'll bet you're enjoying that," I said.
   "I am."
   "What are you two going to do?"
   Jason swallowed and said, "We're going swimming ... right, Grandma?"
   "Thanks right," answered Clara. She looked at me. "I'm taking him to Metro Beach."
   "Well, that sounds like fun," I answered.
   "I can't wait," said Jason. "Grandma said we're going right after lunch." He looked for me for a second, then said, "Are your books as good as Grandma's, Mr. Hudson?"
   "Jason," exclaimed Clara. "That's not a polite question."
   Jason cringed and took another bite of his sandwich.
   "I doubt it, Jason. Your grandmother has a much bigger audience than I do."
   "You know as well as I do that the size of an audience has nothing to do with the quality of the writing," said Clara.
    I took a sip of my coffee. "I suppose so ... but your writing is still very good, Clara."
    "Well, so is yours, Chris. Just because you haven't sold as many books as me ...," Clara halted and blushed, "I mean, your sales are no indication of your ability as and author."
   "I know," I said, "but, they certainly don't inspire confidence."
   "That's just nonsense, Chris. You're a fine ..."
   "Here comes Mr. Tysinger ...," interrupted Jason.
   I turned to see Uncle Billy walking toward us, tray in hand.
   "Hi, Mr. Tysinger," said Jason.
   Billy set his tray on the table and slid in the booth next to me. "These two scribes bored you to death, yet, Jason?"
   Jason looked puzzled.
   "That's okay, son, I never know what the heck they're talking about most of the time either."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gone but not Forgotten ... Yet

This is Hal, Chris's computer ... he's on hiatus this week, so I guess I'm in charge ... I can sift through his files and surf the 'net unimpeded ... what fun. If I find anything that might be embarrassing to him, I'll be sure to post it ... he can deal with the fallout when he's back in the saddle and regaling you with more stories about his pathetic life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day of the Lepus

   Eb and I stood on the edge of the green and watched Uncle Billy address his ball. "So, what's the title?" I asked Eb.
   Eb smiled sheepishly. "Bucky Bunny takes a Nap."
   "Do you two mind? I'm trying to putt here," said Uncle Billy.
   We watched Billy's ball roll past the hole and finally coast to a stop six feet past it.
   "Pick it up, Bill, I'm already in for a bogey," said Hank.
   Billy looked at Eb and me like we caused his errant putt. "So, that's how it gonna be, eh? Harass the other team to win the hole."
   "We're still four holes down ... I don't think you and Hank are in any danger of losing."
   "Well, you sure aren't gonna beat us with your talent."
   I ignored Billy's remark and followed Eb back to the cart and got in the passenger side. "What's the book about?"
   Eb slipped into the driver's seat and started off to the next hole. "A lazy little bunny who is always finding ways of sneaking in naps when all the other rabbit in his warren are working. One day he takes a nap and wakes up to find all the other bunnies asleep ... and hawk is circling and he can't wake them up. He has to ward off the hawk to save his friends."
   "And he learns what?"
   Eb swerved to avoid a tree branch laying in the middle of the cart path. "That there is a time to sleep and time to watchful."
   "Hmmm ... interesting."
   Eb slowed to a stop at the thirteenth tee. "Really?"
   "Sure, Eb ... I thinks it's great."
   Billy pulled up behind our car. "Four down with six to go ... I can taste that free beer already."
   He and Hank got out, pulled out their clubs and walked toward the tee. He looked back at Eb and I sitting our cart. "Come on ... let's go."
   I got out of the cart and grabbed my driver. "Yeah, children's books are always hot ... you never know what might catch on."
   "You think so?" said Eb, as we followed Billy and Hank.
   "Think what?" asked Hank.
   "Eb's been telling me about the children's book he's writing," I said.
   "I heard about that. How's it going, Eb?" said Hank
   "It's coming along."
   Billy bent down to stick a tee in the ground. "If there is anyone qualified to write a kid's book, it's Eb."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Little Dust in the Poke

   "Oh, man," I moaned as Fielder struck out to end the game.
   "I knew it," said Uncle Billy, "those guys leave enough runners on base to populate a small village."
   "Please, change the channel," I asked the bartender. "I can't bear to watch the post-game analysis."
   He smiled and clicked over to the weather channel. Then he pointed at our glasses. "You want a another round?"
   I looked at Uncle Billy.
   "Don't look at me ... I'm tapped," said Billy.
   "What happend to your Vegas boodle," I asked.
   "What do you think? Most of it went to gambling and partying ... the rest I spent foolishly."
   "Bring us a couple more beers," I said to the bartender.
   He nodded and walked away.
   Billy did an exaggerated double take. "Whoa, stop the presses ... Wonder Boy is buying?"
   "I need another beer to wash away the sting of that ugly loss."
   "I know ... but where did you get the money?"
   "I'm not completely destitute."
   "The last time I saw your wallet, Bush was still president."
   "That's not true, Uncle ... I bought you lunch last week."
   "A slice of pizza from the gas station?"
   "You said it was pretty good."
   "I was starving at the time."
   The bartender set two beers in front of us. "You want it on a tab?"
   I laid a five dollar bill on the bar. "No, we've gotta leave after these."
   He took the money and left.
   Billy held up his beer. "Man I gotta savor this."
   I slipped my wallet back into my pocket. "Don't be so dramatic."
   "Well, you have to admit, it's rare. Where'd loot come from?"
   "I got a royalty payment from Kindle."
   Billy took a drink and set down his glass. "More than five bucks, eh?"
   "As a matter of fact, I hit three digits this month."
   "Not including cents?"
   "A hundred and four dollars."
   Billy gave me another one of his movie double takes. "No kidding?"
   "Nope ... got deposited today."
   "So, are you going to pay me back the seventeen bucks I loaned you last month?"
   "I thought said you were paying to fix that tire so I could drive to the ball game?"
   "That was before I knew you were going to be a rich author."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fazebook Envy

   "That's the last one," I said as I set the grocery bag on the counter.
   Clara paused from putting away the groceries I'd already brought in from her car. "Thank you, dear. I really appreciate your help."
   I noticed a stack of her books on the table. "Are you going on another book signing tour?"
   Clara open a cupboard and started putting in cans of tomatoes. "Oh, no ... those are for a book club that has agreed to review Star Crafters."
   "Mary Fowler's club?"
   "Do you know Mary?"
   "Yes, she's Eb's mother."
   "Eb?"
   "He's a friend of Uncle Billy."
   "Really? Funny, Mary never mentioned it."
   "No kidding? I wonder why?"
   "I guess it just never came up." Clara started stacking cans in the cupboard again.
   I picked up one of the books and leafed through it. "So, are these for her club?"
   "No, her club already read it ... I got some wonderful reviews from them."
   "You've lined up another club to read your book?"
   Clara shut and started folding up the grocery bag. "Yes. It's a club from the Sterling Heights Library."
   "How'd you get hooked-up with them?"
   "They approached me after I'd given a talk at the Library."
   "You gave a talk at the Library?"
   "One of the patrons is a Facebook follower of mine ... she set it up."
   I set down the book. "How many Facebook followers do you have?"
   Clara started folding another bag. "I don't know ... around a thousand, I think."
   "You have a thousand followers?"
   Clara blushed. "Something like that."
   I shook my head. "Well, I better get going ... Billy wants me to take him up to Manny's."
   "You know, I could take him to Manny's."
   "I know ... I guess it's just a tradition ... I've been taking him there every Thursday for years."
   Clara stuffed the folded bags into a slot next to the refrigerator and followed me to the door. "Well, thank you for helping me with the groceries, Chris."
   "Timing is everything ... I'm just glad I ran into you in the parking lot."
   Clara smiled. "Tell William I'll see him at supper."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Auction Fever


   “I thought we were going to the ball game,” asked Uncle Billy.
   “We are,” I answered.
   “Then why are we turning here?”
   “I have to stop at the post office.”
   “What for? We’re gonna miss batting practice.”
   “It’ll only take a minute … I have to mail a package.”
   “What is so all-fired important that I’ll miss Cabrera knocking taters into the right-field stands?”
   “You won’t miss him … I have to mail something I sold on Ebay yesterday.”
   Billy glanced over at me. “You’re an Ebay tycoon?”
   “I didn’t say that … I just sold something, that’s all?”
   “What?”
   “A 1941 souvenir cigarette case from Myrtle Beach.”
   “You’re kidding … someone bought an old cigarette case?”
   “People collect all kinds of things … you’d be surprised.”
   Billy shook his head. "How much did you make from that, Donald?”
   “Ten dollars.”
   “You’re going through all this so you can make ten bucks?”
   “I’ve all ready got the money … I was hoping to make a little more, but that’s what it sold for, so I have to deliver the goods.”
   “What made you think that?”
   “Some of those cases go for several hundred dollars.”
   “Really?”
   “Yeah … I saw some of the sterling silver cases in the two to three hundred dollar range … there was even one going for over a thousand.”
   Uncle Billy stared out the window. “You know, I’ve got a cigarette case that my father gave me … his father brought it back from Europe after World War One.”
   “You wouldn’t sell that, would you? That has to have a lot of sentimental value.”
   “If I thought I could get a thousand bucks for it … it’s gone.”
   I glanced over at Billy. “Seriously?”
   Billy glanced at me. “A thousand bucks for a dust collector that I haven't looked at in years? You help me sell it and I’ll give you ten percent.”
   “You got a deal.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Searching for Elvira


   “Branson?”
   Uncle Billy shut the dishwasher and started it. “Is there an echo in here?”
   “You were in Branson, Missouri?” I asked.
   He walked over to the television and flicked it off. “I’m pretty sure that’s what I said.”
   “With Alma Beeler?”
   He grabbed the Free Press off the couch and tossed it on the kitchen table. “I think I said that, too.”
   “How did you happen to go to Branson with Alma Beeler?”
   He grabbed his jacket off the back of a kitchen chair. “She asked me.”
   “When was that?”
   “Remember when she stopped by the bowling alley …”
   “Yeah, the night that Hank just missed rolling a two-seventy.”
   “What a putz. I couldn't believe he missed that strike …”
   “Uncle, how did you and Alma end up going to Branson together?”
   “Well, when we were done bowling, she asked me to have a drink with her …”
   “In the bar at the alley?”
   Billy looked at me. “No, at the Brown Derby.”
   “Okay, so you had a drink with her … what happened?”
   “Nothing … she just told me that she had tickets to see the Oak Ridge Boys in Branson and wanted to know if I’d join her.”
   “You like the Oak Ridge Boys?”
   Billy looked at me again. “Do you think this was about the Oak Ridge Boys?”
   “So, you spent the weekend in Branson with Alma Beeler?”
   “Hey, the tickets were free.”
   I shook my head. “Well, you could’ve said something … nobody knew where you were.”
   “I tried to text you.”
   “You know I don’t text.”
   “I sent you a Tweet, too.”
   I looked at Billy. “Clara called me when you didn’t show up for breakfast on Sunday.”
   “I thought she was up in Saginaw with that four-flushing bookworm.” Billy slipped on his jacket. “Come on, let’s go, I want to get to Manny’s before it closes.”
   “Manny’s never closes.”
   “It might by the time we get there.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Another Round


   The sharp grounder off Santiago’s bat was fielded cleanly by the Royal’s second baseman, who started a neat double-play that ended the Tigers chance at a comeback. There was a collective sigh throughout the bar.
   “Damn it,” said Eb’s mother, Mary.
   “What’s that now … nine losses out of the last twelve games?” asked Becky.
   “Yep,” I answered.
   “Man, those guys can’t buy a hit … I think the sports press much too much pressure on them so early in the season.”
   “That’s what Billy said,” I added. “They should never have anointed them AL Central champs before the first pitch of the season was thrown.”
   “Oh well, it’s early … there’s a lot of baseball to be played before magic numbers are thrown around,” said Mary. “By the way, where is your uncle? I thought he was going to join us here?”
   “I don’t know,” I answered. “I thought so, too.”
   The waitress came to the table. “How’s everyone doing here?”
   “Why don’t you bring us another pitcher,” said Eb.
   “Eb, I thought we were leaving after the game,” said Becky.
   “We are,” said Eb.
   “Well?” asked Becky.
   Eb glanced at the images of Tiger announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen on the television screen above the bar. “Just as soon as the post-game analysis is over.”
   Becky put her head in her hands and sighed.
   Eb looked up at the patient waitress. “One more.”
   She smiled and walked away.
   “So, Mary, how do you like that Kindle Fire you got?” I asked.
   “It’s great. I’ve been reading more now than ever. The rest of the book club loves it, too.”
   “What are you reading now?”
   “Star Crafters, by Clara Rickenbacker.”
   “You’re kidding?”
   “No, it’s a great young-adult novel about …”
   “I know what it’s about … Clara is friend of mine.”
   “Really? You know Clara Rickenbacker?”
   “I’m surprised you don’t … she’s a friend of Uncle Billy’s, too.”
   “You know, I thought that name was familiar … but someone else in the club suggested it.”
   I shook my head and took a long drink of my beer. “Any chance of getting one of my books reviewed by the club?”
   “I don’t know, Chris … they might be a little out of our milieu … but I’ll ask at the next meeting.”
   “Thanks, Mary, I’d appreciate that.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Frame of Fame


   “You have three-hundred and forty Twitter followers?” I gasped.
   Eb blushed a little. “Well, a lot of them are from work. Becky says …”
   “Will you two shut up,” interrupted Uncle Billy.
   I looked at the little crowd that had gathered around our lanes. Hank was carefully wiping off his bowling ball, his face was grim. He was about to roll a frame that could give him a score of two-seventy, a personal best and the best our team had ever registered.
   “You can do it, Hank,” said one of the earnest spectators.
   “We’re with you, buddy,” said another.
   “I guess we better watch this,” I said.
   Eb nodded and slipped his phone back in his pocket.
   Hank took his stance, eyes narrowing as he stared at his target. The crowd grew quiet. And then he was in motion, arm back, ball released and hooking nicely into the pocket. A crash of pins, nine falling immediately, one, the ten-pin, wobbled gracefully for moment, then settled, standing upright. The crowd groaned. Hank’s shoulders sank.
   “Nice try Hank,” said one of the spectators as he turned to walk away.
   “You’ll get ‘er next time,” said another.
   Billy shook his head, “What a putz.”
   Ed stood and walked over to Hank, putting his arm around his shoulder. “Well, we’re proud of you any way,” he said as he gently guided Hank back to his seat.
   I spotted a familiar figure walking down the isle toward our lanes. It was Alma Beeler.
   Billy spotted her too and slid over closer to me. “What the hell is she doing here?”
   “What’s going on?” asked Alma as she walked up. “I saw a big crowd down here.”
   “Hank just missed rolling a personal best,” said Eb.
   “Well, that must of been exciting,” said Alma.
   “It was … until he whiffed the strike,” said Billy.
   “Oh, hello, Billy,” she said, “I was hoping I’d see you here.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Third Man


   “I thought Uncle Billy was coming,” I said.
   Clara took a sip of her coffee, and said, “I called him this morning and he said he was ‘all stove up’ from helping Eb move the other day.”
   “Hmmm … did he know Alex was coming?”
   “I mentioned it to him at dinner last night.”
   “Was he ‘all stove up’ then?”
   “Well, he did say he was a little stiff, but he looked okay to me.”
   I glance out the window at Back-in-the-Day apartments across the street. “I’ll go over after breakfast and see how he’s doing. What time did Alex say he was going to be here?”
   Clara glanced at her watch. “I told him eight-thirty … he’ll be along any minute … he’s not usually late.”
   “What brings him into town?”
   “He wants to go to the Eastern Market to get some plants for his storefront.”
   “Don’t they have anything like that in Saginaw?”
   “I don’t know. You would think so, wouldn’t you?”
   “Well, maybe they don’t have one that big.”
   “Probably not.” Clara took another sip of her coffee. “I heard you did pretty well at your book signing.”
   “Yeah, but not as well as you.”
   She blushed slightly. “That was primarily due to Alex’s help … he did such a wonderful job on the promotion.”
   “He did for me, too … but I don’t think my stuff has as big an audience as yours.”
   She reached across the table and patted my hand. “Don’t sell yourself short … there are a lot folks who like the kind of stories you write … you just need to do a better job getting the work out.”
   I nodded. “I just don’t have the marketing savvy you do.”
   “It’s not about savvy … it’s about follow-up … you just have to keep at it.”
   “That’s my problem … I don’t.”
   “I can help, you know.”
   “Thanks, Clara.” Then I saw Alex making his way toward our table. “Here he comes.”
   Grinning broadly he said, “Well, if it isn’t my two favorite authors.”