Bastet

The archeologist labored in the hot sun.

Lionel Pantheon, expert archeologist, dug

with his flunky, Doctor Simeon Watkins.

 

“Oh, pray tell.” said Simeon Watkins.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Look at the treasure I found. A statue of

Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess. This must

be worth millions! We’re going to be rich!”

 

“No, I’m going to be rich.” said Lionel

Pantheon, producing a handgun, and shooting

a bullet through Simeon’s skull.

 

Lionel looked around to make sure nobody

was looking, and shoved Simeon’s body into

the hole in the desert sand. Continue reading “Bastet”

Loch Ness Monster, reincarnated

Simon Jones was born to wealthy parents in the suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Growing up, his parents showered him with all kinds of fancy but expensive gifts.  But what interested Simon most was reading the science fiction as well as stories of unusual mysterious creatures from around the world.  He was always fascinated by the tale of the existence of the Loch Ness monster, called Nessie, that reputedly inhabited the water around the Scottish Highlands.  Throughout his academic career Simon excelled not only in his studies but also in extra-curricular activities.  He wrote for the school newspaper, eventually becoming one of the co-editors.  At the same time, he took part in several athletics programs.  With such an all-rounder profile, Simon’s parents expected that he would be interested in the academic program of an Ivy League institute like Harvard, Yale, or Columbia. Continue reading “Loch Ness Monster, reincarnated”

May you live in interesting times

As a little girl, her father, Zhao Shaoqi, walked her to school every morning, even though the elementary school was only a few kilometers from their apartment in Shanghai.  Born in nineteen-sixty, Zhao Xiao Jun came of age in the tumultuous times of the Cultural Revolution.  What was the inherent purpose of the Cultural Revolution?  No one really seemed to know.  Falling on the heels of the failed Great Leap Forward, where thirty million died, many thought it was Mao’s attempt, not only to stay in power, but to keep the revolution proceeding forward in Red China.  Where her parents were once highly respected civil engineers in the Middle Kingdom, now, because of the revolution, they were the prey to other Chinese of lesser stature, particularly the Red Guard, which was largely composed by the young, high school or college-aged, true believers in Mao and his Communist regime.  Openly taunted as he walked Xiao Jun to class by the Red Guard, they beat her father on at least a score of occasions, depending if their blood was up.  Once her father had been beaten senseless, and other times the Red Guard threw stones at him.  Once, Zhao Shaoqi was struck on the vertex of his skull by a large rock thrown by a young cadre who appeared no older than a junior high school student.  This was the second time he was knocked unconscious.  Her mother, Tao Fei, cleaned and bandaged the ghastly wound without taking him for formal evaluation at a local hospital simply fearing that it would incur further retribution.  Such was the flint of China during these times. Continue reading “May you live in interesting times”

The Snowman

Alan Fredericks was a New England teacher, a single

parent who had custody of his three daughters, Ella, Greta,

and Jan, who he loved dearly but feared the day that they

would be the spitting image of their mother.

 

Not unlike New England, there was so much

snow towards the end of the school year that the schools

had no choice but to close down the schools a week

early. The kids were excited, till they groaned when

all teachers gave their kids homework to do during

the holidays.

 

Alan Fredericks had to do the same thing

to his students, but his daughters went to a different

school. Ella was in sixth grade, Greta in third, and

Jan in first.

 

So Alan Fredericks had taken his kids to

a cabin in the Vermont woods, a little hole in the

wall that was better used for summer. He’d never

been there in winter, and didn’t realize he wasn’t

prepared for staying. Continue reading “The Snowman”

Pasture statues

Millie mooed.

Cate mooed with her.

The cow stared at them.

Millie giggled at the old joke, a pure, authentic song.

Cate giggled with her, exaggerated, trembling notes.

The cow stared at them.

Millie continued to pet the cow’s cheek. Cate stroked the other, looking for signs of impatience in the otherwise stoic animal, searching its blank yet somehow knowing eyes for knowledge of her charade. What made her want to release the scream that had been lodged in her throat for inconceivable minutes was how Millie, sitting comfortably in her numb arms, was so far away from screaming; Millie, who had every justification for adding her shrill voice to the one behind them.

She hadn’t asked Millie if she was all right; doing so would have given her the impression something was wrong. She hadn’t asked Millie her actual name; as far as the little girl’s amiable behavior indicated, they had known each other all their lives, and names didn’t matter. She hadn’t asked Millie her age; from the moment she took the little girl into her arms, she could tell the small human being was no older than her career. Continue reading “Pasture statues”

Herbert Farnsworth

To Hubert Harold Farnsworth, the dying were legion.  Never hesitating to broach his Pro-Life views on anyone willing to listen, Tom, the eldest of the Farnsworth clan, noted as he grew older his parents were invited to fewer and fewer social gatherings.  To Tom, his father’s life seemed to revolve around his professional work as a detail man for GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals; his religious life at St. Stephen’s Church, where he was he collected the tithe at every Sunday Mass; and, his participation in the Knights of Columbus, the right arm of the Catholic Faith, and all that that entailed.  As a Knight of Columbus, Tom had to listen to him rant and rave about abortion.  Millions of lives were snuffed out by godless gynecologists across the country.  Roe v. Wade was the sorriest decision ever handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States.  For his father, fighting abortion became the touchstone of his life.  It was what he lived for.  It was the itch he couldn’t scratch. Continue reading “Herbert Farnsworth”

Beyond good and bad

Matthew and his brother Charles, eight and eleven respectively, were quietly playing with their tiny trucks on the living room floor. As their father sat reading the paper and drinking his martini, a juvenile tussle erupted, beginning with the usual insistence of ownership over a particular truck.

“Quiet down boys. Be good,” was the request of the impassive father.

“Yes, father.” A duet.

The boys were thus pacified and returned to their mild play. They were taught to always be good, that being bad was a monstrous offense to righteousness and civility that could not be tolerated. To their young minds, father was the paragon of good. Churchgoing, professional, loving in a reserved way, kind to the beleaguered stranger or bereaved widow, a reader, stoic, restrained. The two boys and their dutiful mother lived almost idyllic lives in the tranquil home that father created, until the fateful day to be recounted by yours truly.

That weekend, the happy crew were to descend upon their lake house about a hundred miles away. The two boys dared not fight in the back seat, despite their boredom, for fear of being bad and incurring a less wrathful reproach from father. They arrived, unpacked, the children dutifully helping with the smaller bags, and the repose of a happy weekend, to be shattered, began. Continue reading “Beyond good and bad”

Those who serve humanity

In a trip through various South-East Asian nations, American John Stuart was traveling by bus from Phonm Penh, the capital of Cambodia to ancient city of Siem Reap to explore iconic Angkor Wat Temple complex.  In a rest stop, he got acquainted with a fellow traveler Mike Thomas, a millennial German youth.  After exchanging pleasantries, John learned that besides English, Mike also spoke fluent Chinese (mandarin).  After graduating from the university in Frankfurt, he landed a job with a multinational organization, subsequently migrating to Shanghai.  This was the time when the celebration of a Lunar New Year just started in China.  Like his fellow Chinese colleagues, Mike was also allowed to take a week off.  Instead of going back to Germany to visit family, he’d decided to visit this part of Asia, now heading to explore Angkor Wat complex

Next day, in a coincidence, John again met Mike, both of them being signed up with the same tour company to guide them through the mammoth temple complex.  Over next few days the duo bonded more while exploring the ruins, spread over several kilometers.  They also began to hear news coming out of China about a new virus causing flu-like symptoms and in some cases mortality.  Not surprisingly, international traveling, a byproduct of globalization was beginning to ferry out this new virus across the international borders.  Mike remembered hearing a rumor about the emergence of this new virus at his workplace.  Soon the sight of populace wearing face-masks became ubiquitous in various tourist sites as the fear of a pandemic began to prevail. Continue reading “Those who serve humanity”

I don’t want to grow old

Steve Hale, a forty-year-old billionaire, lay on a couch in the office of Dr. Mark Carr, a psychiatrist. “So, Mr. Hale, what brings you here?”

“Worry. Anxiety. Fear.”

“What do you worry about?”

“My fortune. I’m afraid I’m going to grow old and die and have to leave my estates and my yacht and everything I’ve worked for behind. What I have belongs to me and I don’t want old age and death to take what’s mine away from me. Dr. Carr, I grew up with nothing. My father ran off, and my mother cleaned houses to put food on the table. Sometimes, we went without food, and I swore that I would never be poor again. I worked hard and finally made a fortune, and I want to keep my fortune.”

“Mr. Hale, I understand why you feel the way you do, but everybody grows old and dies. It’s inevitable. Can’t you just enjoy what you have while you’re young?”

“I do enjoy what I have, but my fear of growing old and dying is always on my mind. I don’t know what to do?” Continue reading “I don’t want to grow old”

Lemon Meringue

Kelly’s boyfriend dropped her at Vancouver International; they were off to visit their respective parents for the long weekend. Kelly flew to Sault St. Marie, Aaron drove to Kelowna. On Tuesday evening she would return to the west coast for her next shift as a rookie police officer in the city, a different world from her years growing up in Northern Ontario.

Aaron’s parting comment was, “Enjoy the home cooking!”

Kelly’s mom, Clara, was a wonderful cook. In Kelowna, it would be snacks, Timmy’s coffee and Swiss Chalet for her boyfriend. Continue reading “Lemon Meringue”