Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Not Biting

An audio version of this post can be found at:

   I padded up the stairs and ran to the front door. Alma Beeler's smiling face looked at me through the screen. She was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and walking shoes.
   "Oh, hi Alma. How are you?"
   "I'm fine, Chris ... I was just out for a walk and saw your door was open ... I thought I'd stop by and say hello to Cheryl."
   "She's not here ... she had to stay late at work ... some sort of a conference ... come on in, anyway." I swung the door open."
   "That's okay ... I don't want to take up your time. I haven't seen Cheryl, and now that we're getting out and about, I thought she might want to join me in a walk."
   I held the door open with one hand. "I'm sure she'll be sorry she missed you. How far do you go?"
   "Oh, about two miles."
   "That's pretty good. Can I get you something to drink ... water?"
   "No thanks, I'm all set." She pushed out her hip and I noticed the nylon holstered water bottle.
   "So I see."
   Alma stood there looking at me. Finally, she said, "What time do you think Cheryl will be home?"
   "I'm not sure ... probably around seven or so."
   "Oh ... well ... maybe I'll catch up with her some other time."
   "Yes, I'm sure you will."
   She looked around for a second, then said, "Have you seen your Uncle lately?"
   "Billy? Yes, I just got back from taking him grocery shopping."
   "Well, that was nice of you ... how is he doing?"
   "Fine. He's going to the hockey game tonight."
   "How exciting ...  I didn't know there was one."
   I wasn't sure how she could have missed it. The local news sources had been covering the Red Wings non-stop since they defeated the Ducks to make it to the second round of the conference playoffs. "Yep, they're playing Chicago tonight ... his neighbor seems to have tickets to all the big sporting events, and I guess he had an extra one, so he invited Billy."
   "But he didn't have one for you, eh?"
   "Unfortunately, no."
   "That's too bad."
   She stood for a few seconds, then said, "Is your Uncle going to Eb and Becky's wedding?"
   There it was. "I don't know, Alma ... he never mentioned it to me."
   "Really? Well, I was just wondering ..."
   "It's a ways off ... I'm sure you'll talk to him before September."
   "I'm not so sure ... I haven't heard from him since Easter ... I've been wondering what he was up to."
   "You know Billy ... bowling is winding down and the golf leagues are starting ... he's always got something going."
   "Yes, he's a busy guy."
   "Do you want me to send Cheryl down when she gets home?"
   "Oh ... no ... I'll give her a call later ... maybe we can hook up on the weekend."
   "I'm sure." I swatted at a fly buzzing through the
open door.
   "Well, I don't want you to have a house full of bugs ... I better get going."
   "Okay ... have fun on your walk."
   "Thanks."  She turned to leave.
   I let the door shut and watched her go down the steps to the sidewalk. She stopped in her tracks and turned toward me.
   "Oh listen ... will you let your Uncle know I have a new recipe for chicken cacciatore that I'd love to try out with him?"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Handicapping Billy

An audio version of this post can be found at:

   Cheryl snapped her phoned shut. "These things always seem to get complicated."
   I eased into the left turn lane. "What?"
   "Weddings ... there always seems to be drama floating around ... who's running things ... who is invited ... who gets left out ... you know."
   "I suppose ... I do my best to not get involved."
   Cheryl rolled her eyes. "No kidding."
   I turned onto our street. "So, who was that?"
   "Alma Beeler."
   "Oh, she wanted to know if we were going to Uncle Billy's friend's wedding."
   "Eb and Becky's?"
   "Of course."
   "How'd she even know about it?"
   "I assume she saw a Facebook post ... there have been quite a few."
   I glance over at her. "I thought you hated Facebook."
   "I do ... but I still look at it every now and then."
   "I see .. so, why is she interested?"
   "Oh. Why do you think? She wants to know if Uncle Billy is going to ask her to go with him."
   "Oh ... yeah."
   "Do you know?"
   "Billy never mentioned anything to me."
   "Do you think he might ask Clara?"
   "Like I said ... he never mentioned it."
   "Yes, but do you think he might?"
   "Who knows? Billy is likely to do anything ... he might ask the maid who cleans his apartment ... or he might not even go himself."
   "Do you think you can find out?"
   As the condo came in sight, I hit the garage door opener. "That's a tall order."
   "I know, but I'd like to be able to tell Alma something."
   "I wouldn't tell her ... even if I knew what Billy was doing ... it just none of my business."
   "Okay ... I'll ask Uncle Billy myself."
   "Good luck with that."
   I eased the car into the garage next to the Jaguar, which now sat on cement blocks. Cheryl got out and stared at the rusting hulk. "I see you're making progress."
   I ignored the cynicism in her voice. "Yep, it's coming along nicely."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bunnies and Mules

An audio version of this post can be found at:

   The door was open and strains of Spike Jones's Der Fuehrer's Face poured out into the hallway. I walked in and saw Uncle Billy sitting at the kitchen table, hunched over his ipad.
   I went to the counter and turned down the ipod player. "What are you doing?" I asked.
   Billy looked up, a little startled. "You snuck up on me."
   "No, I didn't, Uncle ... your door is wide open."
   He looked past me at the doorway. "Oh, yeah ... I told the maid to leave it open ... I wanted to get a little cross ventilation."
   I walked over to the screen door that opened onto the patio. "It is a lovely day ... Michigan at it's best."
   Billy's gaze had followed me. "Yeah, I guess ... it's just nice to open things up and blow the stink out of here."
   "Well, if you put it that way ... " I walked back to the kitchen table and looked over Billy's shoulder. "So, what are you doing?"
   "Sewing coconuts together ... what the hell does it look like I'm doing?"
   "Uncle, all I can see is that you're staring at your ipad."
   Billy looked down at the tablet. "Yeah ... well, I'm checking tweets."
   "Oh ... anything interesting?"
   Billy looked back up at me. "Are you kidding?"
   "Well, why do you check them?"
   "Every now and then there is something worth while ... you just never know."
   "Like when you read about Eb's wedding plans?"
   "Yeah ... even that moron has a newsworthy tweet ... the rest of them are ridiculous things about his books."
   "Things about his books? Like what?"
   He scrolled through the list of tweets. "Like this ... " He held up the pad for me to read.
   "Do bunnies float ... Bunky does ... and what's the rest? ... a link of some kind?"
   Billy looked at the tablet. "Yeah ... a link to the Facebook page for Bunky Learns to Swim."
   I pulled out a chair to sit down.
   Billy held up his hand. "Don't sit down ... I want to get to Manny's before it closes."
   I pushed the chair back in and sighed. "Uncle, we've been though this ... Manny's never closes."
   Billy shut down the ipad. "Remember what the farmer said when his mule died ..."
   "Yeah, yeah ... it never did that before."
   He stood up. "Right, Boyo ... let's get a move on."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Twits and Ten Pins

An audio version of this post can be found at:

   "Well, congratulations, Eb!" I said.
   Uncle Billy frowned. "Ssssh ... Hank needs to pick this spare to give us any chance at all."
   We watched Hank launch his ball down the lane.
   Eb turned back to me. "Thanks, Chris ... but I'm surprised you hadn't heard about it."
   I watched Hank's ball rolled harmlessly past the ten pin. "How would I have?"
   Eb ignored the action on the alley. "I Tweeted it yesterday."
   "Nice goin', Hank ... that outta ice the loss," shouted Billy.
   Hank walked back toward us. "Sorry, guys ... I guess this just isn't our week."
   "Not the way you're rolling 'em," said Billy. "You sick?"
   Hank sat on bench next to Billy. "Hey, I rolled a one eighty-two, for Pete's sake."
   "Forget about it, Hank," I said. "Uncle's upset because he rolled a one fifty-six."
   "What was that, mister one-forty?" asked Billy.
   I turned back to Eb. "I don't really follow Twitter all that closely."
   "Really? I would've thought you'd be big Twitter fan," said Eb.
   "What's on Twitter?" asked Hank.
   "Eb and Becky are getting married," I said.
   Hank perked up a little. "Hey, congratulations, Eb."
   "Thanks, Hank," said Eb.
   "You guys didn't know that?" asked Billy.
   "You knew, Uncle?" I asked.
   "Of course I knew ... don't you monitor your Twitter account?"
   "No," I said. "I don't have a smart phone."
   "But you do
have an account?" asked Eb.
   "Yeah ... but I just check it once in a while ... when I'm on the computer."
   "What? Like once a day?" asked Eb.
   "More like once a week," I said.
   Eb shook his head. "I imagine it's pretty hard to stay current with your followers like that."
   "I suppose ... but I really don't have have very many anyway."
   "Like how many?" asked Eb.
   "I don't know ... maybe twenty or so ... how many do you have?"
   "Gee, it's over two-thousand now."
   Billy looked at him. "You have two-thousand followers on Twitter?"
   Eb blushed. "Yeah."
   Billy shook his head. "Why on earth would two-thousand people follow you, Eb?"
   I answered for him. "He does have successful book, you know."
   "It's a children's book ... kids don't have Twitter accounts."
   "Yeah, but their parents do," I said.
   "Too bad their parents don't read thrillers, eh, Ace?"