Use the Forest

Finally Friday! Why is it that everyone lives for the Fridays? What a pointless life, spending five out of every seven days doing something we don’t even enjoy. However, I guess that’s life. The good news is that Friday is now, and I’m only 15 minutes away from leaving this tedious job.

After counting down every last second until five, the time has finally come. I’m out of here. I join the stampede of co-workers as we shove our way out the door. I have to squint as I exit the building as the natural light is harsh to my eyeballs that have been caged in the dark for the last eight and a half hours. I slide into my car with a sigh of relief. The week is over, now onto something fun, and hopefully something meaningful.

Saturday morning dawns early and I race the sunrise up the steep mountain grade, heading deeper into the forest. Iroad-5 am on my way to join a group of other volunteers near the summit and begin wilderness rescue training today. I am a little apprehensive about this plan. I don’t know what to expect, and I’ve never been great at fitting in with people that don’t really know me (and understand my dry wit and sarcasm). Yet, here I go. Here’s a way I can maybe make a difference and perhaps even enjoy some of God’s beautiful creation at the same time.

I pull into the dirt lot at the top, joining multiple other dirty pickups, jeeps, and SUVs. I assume they are all here with people just crazy enough to volunteer for the same thing I have. I unfold myself from the driver’s seat of my small car, already different from everyone else up here who all have four-wheel drives. I sidle over to the group and stand on the fringe hoping to catch what’s being said without having to introduce myself. Alas, I’m out of luck and the instructor spots me, stopping in mid-sentence to ask my name and tell me to introduce myself to the rest of the group. My face flushes red as I stammer out my name and profession.

After some initial instructions, each of us are given a pack and told to pair up. Wouldn’t you know it the only one left not already paired up is the least outdoorsy looking of everybody. Great. This ought to be a ton of fun. I remind myself though, that I shouldn’t judge by appearance. For all I know, this kid could be the next Davy Crocket.

We step onto the dirt track out of the parking lot into the woods, and my new partner turns to the rest of the group and says “May the Forest be with you.”

It’s going to be a long day.

 

 

BlogBattle Week 47  Genre: Comedy ?

http://rachaelritchey.com/category/weekly-entries-to-blogbattle/

Rules:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/orinclude a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!
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Lurking In The Shadows

There she was, the object of my affections. I had been waiting for this day for oh, so long. Tonight I was finally going to make my move.

I sat and stared, ogling the most beautiful one in all creation. I longed to go into her warm embrace and satisfy my desires.

Some would say it’s wrong to lurk in the shadows peering at the object of one’s desire, but I could not be stopped this night. I had to satisfy this urge and the cravings that had been pestering me for weeks now. My car was parked deep in the shadows of this large parking lot where I hoped no one could see me and recognize my face.

I finally pulled together the necessary courage and stepped slowly out of my car. I darted across the inky parking lot tip-toeing from shadow to shadow hoping to avoid all observation. I made it all the way to the doors in secrecy. So far so good I thought, now to gratify my deepest impulses.

“Hi. I’ll have the extra large Rolo Blizzard please”, I managed to choke out.

I sure hope no one has seen me in here and reports my indiscretion to my wife or to my workout gym. I’m pretty sure no one has seen me come in here, so I think I’m safe.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw her lurking around the corner. It was the neighbor girl! Sweat dripped down my brow and my limbs became shaky. I turned my head hoping against all hope that she wouldn’t recognize me. But, alas it was not to be so. “Hi, Mr. Gartman! What are you doing here? I thought you promised your wife no more ice-cream at last summer’s block party. Mrs. Gartman will sure be surprised to find out I saw you here.”

UGH! Here I’d been so careful. I’d even become a black belt lurker. I’d satiate my desires tonight, but there would be calories and ears burning tomorrow.

©KarlGartman2015

This is part of the #blogbattle run by the fabulous @rachaelritchey

Here’s the rules lurking at the bottom of this post (in case you wish to see them and/or wish to participate next week). Please join us in using these weekly prompts to stir your imagination and allow others to enjoy your ruminations.

Rules:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Seeing Red

Where are they? Where the heck are they? I know they have to be here somewhere! I am bound and determined to find them. I’m like a Bounty Tracker. I’ve waited all my life for this day, and I’m NOT going to leave here without them.

I began to think back to all the events that had led up to this very moment, and wondered what I had missed to end up so entirely disappointed that I couldn’t find them here. I’m such a Butterfinger sometimes, that I could’ve easily let something slip my grasp.

I landed here yesterday morning (at least I think it was morning back where I came from). The landing capsule had come to settle on this dusty red surface of the planet we call Mars. People had been talking for decades about putting a person on Mars, so I suppose I should really find that a reward in itself that out of the billions of people on earth that I alone was chosen for this mission. Yet, this didn’t bring me any satisfaction with the knowledge that I haven’t found what I’ve come up here for. I made it through the Milky Way to the other end of the Galaxy it seemed like.

I’d been training for this day most of my life. Since Kindergarten, if I recall correctly. That was when I decided to become an Astronaut. Both of my buddies said they would become astronauts too (we were like the 3Musketeers) yet somehow, I’m the only one to make it. All of my life since then BarNone, had been spent pursuing this goal of being the first boy on Mars. It had taken a little longer than I had planned, so truthfully I’d be considered a man now, but still a boy at heart.

Yet, now I’ve failed. I was so angry with myself I could see red!  So much for the Revels and Celebrations. GoodnessKnows I won’t be getting any Kudos. Sure, I completed the mission for space command by simply landing on this planet, but my own personal mission was a bust!  I hated to think about the 100Grand I’d spent on school, or the Crunch of my fender on 5th Avenue when I rear ended another vehicle while watching a space launch.

I climbed back into the space capsule and buckled up for the short return flight to the shuttle, with a longer ride home to follow after that. I did look forward to seeing my wife and my BabyRuth, but I would have a long long time to think about this on my way back to earth. I could hear the voice of that bratty little girl and her Snickers from my Kindergarten class taunting me already… “Girls go to Mars to get more Candy Bars, boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider!”

I sure didn’t find the candy bars. Guess I’ll have to sign up for that mission to Jupiter when I get back home.

© Karl Gartman 2015

This was a short story for Rachael Ritchey’s Blog Battle.

Be sure to go check out her blog www.rachaelritchey.com

and buy her book! The Beauty Thief

If you don’t know the rules, here they are. Be sure to join us next week with your own short story:

Rules:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Just Out of Our Grasp. (I mean Reach!)

It was just over the next rise. It had to be! We’d been riding all night and were plumb worn out, but we couldn’t stop until we got there. Our goal seemed to remain always just out of reach.

It all started a couple days back, in Lubbock, TX. I was making my way up the dirt road just minding my own business and also looking out for any horse business which happened to be lying in my path. A stage coach careened around the corner on two wheels nearly toppling and I jumped out of the way to avoid being trampled. For some reason, being trampled to death by horses has never made it onto my bucket list. I scrambled to my feet, dusted off my clothes, and took a look around to get my bearings. It appeared I was in a small alley, not unlike many other small town alleys I’d been in over the course of my life. I could see that I was close to the Nicolett Hotel where I was staying, but I wasn’t ready to go back just yet, so I walked up the alley to check it out.

I reached in my back pocket for my comb. One needs to look presentable no matter what the situation is, so I had to tame my wild mane. Much to my surprise my comb was missing! Darn it, I must’ve dropped lost it when I dodged the coach! Oh, well. I ran my hand over my head instead and turned out I didn’t have any hair anyway. I’m not sure what a bald guy is doing carrying around a comb in the first place. So, after bemoaning my lost comb, I moseyed on down the alleyway.

I reached the end of the alleyway and that’s where I met Oliver. This is where my story took a tragic turn for the worse. Oliver was just standing there in the alleyway looking dejected and lonely, so I had to stop and have a chat. You can’t just leave one standing depressed in an alleyway by themselves.

I meandered a glance around and noticed that he was standing next to a fence with an old wooden plank on which was written a single word. “Oliver”. That’s how I knew his name was Oliver. I figured at the time that he probably had problems with his short term memory and needed this reminder of his name nearby.

“Oliver”, I said, “Today is your lucky day! You no longer have to stand here all alone in this alleyway looking depressed and dejected. I’m here! My name is Olaf and I’m here to talk to you, and can be your very best friend.” So, I proceeded then to make conversation with Oliver, but he stayed silent through the entire conversation. This is weird, I thought. I know I’m a brilliant conversationalist and super interesting and intelligent, but usually those I talk to have something to say back, or at the very least a gesture of some kind they aim in my direction. Something was not right about this Oliver. I looked more closely at Oliver now and could see there was a rope around his neck! No wonder he’s not talking!

I quickly untied the rope and led him quietly down the alley. We wouldn’t want his captors to see poor Oliver loose. We had only 100 feet before we would reach the road, when a loud shout was heard behind us, “Bring Oliver Back!” That’s it, we had to skedaddle out of here like we had fire ants in our pants.

We took off at a brisk run, leaving Lubbock in the dust behind us. If only we could make it to Juarez, then we could be free of Oliver’s captors for good. The only problem is Juarez was 344 miles through the desert. If only it could’ve been through the dessert, that’d be SWEET!

The desert crossing was hard and perilous. We’d been out here for 5 days and we were now out of food, out of water, and out of luck. Oliver’s captors were still hot on our trail. I hadn’t been able to get Oliver to say a word for the whole trip, so I still had no idea why they wanted him tied up so badly. Our only piece of good news, was that Juarez was on the other side of that next ridge, I knew it, I could feel it!

We crested the ridge, and tears came to my eyes as we saw Jauarez sparkling up at us from the desert floor. What a beautiful sight that was.

Out of nowhere, came a deep gravely voice, “Reach for the sky O’bannen!” It just about made my heart jump out of my throat, and pretty sure it scared the poop out of Oliver too! How did they know my last name, and how did they get in front of us, and why do they want Oliver so badly? These were all questions that plagued my mind as I stood there like a fool, waving my hands in the air like I just did not care.

A large group of men arose from their hiding positions among the scrub-brush and cautiously edged over to me. The leader of the group stomped right up in front of me and brushed my coat aside to reach his hand in my holster. Imagine his surprise when he found a banana instead of a gun.

“I don’t care what you’re carrying, O’bannen”, the big man growled, “ a horse-thief is still a horse-thief”.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, growing more confused by the second. “Just ask my new friend Oliver, I’ve never stolen any horses! The only thing I’ve done is help Oliver escape his captives. I guess no good deed goes unpunished. I’m sorry Oliver, we almost made it. Freedom was within our grasp! (um…I mean REACH!)”

© Karl Gartman 2015

This was a short story for Rachael Ritchey’s Blog Battle.

Be sure to go check out her blog www.rachaelritchey.com

and buy her book! The Beauty Thief

If you don’t know the rules, here they are. Be sure to join us next week with your own short story:

Rules:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Orchids Are Great.

An orchid lies there at the foot of my porch stairs. I don’t know how it got there, but it’s one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Orchids have always been my favorite flower, but why there’s one lying on my sidewalk I just don’t know.

I pick up the orchid, a purple one with white tinges, and continue on to my bus stop. I can hear the bus lumbering up our bumpy dirt road, spurning up the dust with it’s wheels as it bounces over the washboard ruts. I’m the first pick up on this bus route, so I know the hour long ride to school will be miserable as usual. I seriously think a prison bus would be much preferable to the Adeline High School bus. Certainly the riders would be better behaved! The bus pulls up, interrupting my thoughts, and opens it’s door with a hiss. I climb aboard and make my way towards the back where I normally sit.

What is going on! How is this possible! , are the thoughts that pop into my head upon finding yet another orchid lying on the bench seat I normally sit on. This one is a pale peach color with just a hint of red on the edge of the petals. I pick it up and add it to the first one, still in my hand from earlier. The bus ride continues as it normally does, with hooligans, fighting, cussing, and yelling. Definitely not my favorite. I sigh with relief when we finally reach the front doors of the high-school.

After shoving my way through the bustling humanity, that somehow passes itself off as a school, I face my locker and enter the combination. Much to my surprise there inside, is another orchid! I can’t even fathom how this is possible! Nobody but me knows the combination to my locker, nobody but the bus-driver gets on the bus before me, and nobody from school has ever visited my home or knows where I live! Where are all these orchids coming from!

I’m certainly not complaining. After-all, I do love orchids. The only thing better than having orchid flowers would be having a live orchid plant. I’m just flummoxed over where they could be coming from. I manage to survive homeroom and then Math and even English by the time the lunch-bell rings. After going through the grub-line (I really do believe they must be using real grubs) I take my tray over to my usual table. Somehow, someone has managed to place yet another orchid right there on the lunch table. I look around, but there seems to be nothing out of the ordinary, and no one I would think could possibly be responsible for this seemingly impossible surprise.

After school, and my bus-ride home, I head up to my room to accomplish some homework. I don’t know what teachers are thinking giving out homework. Seriously, if you’re not a good enough teacher to get the information across during class, we as students shouldn’t have to pick up your slack, and teach ourselves! And even the thought of asking a parent to try to figure these homework problems out, is more frustrating than struggling through it ourselves. Our poor parents have spent the last 20+ years of their lives forgetting everything that they had to learn in school. Anyway, enough with the rant. I buckled down to get to work and glanced over at the picture of my dad. He was in his Air Force uniform and it was the day before he was deployed. That was over 5 years ago now, and no one had heard from him since. Even though I’d been without him for the last handful of years, I still missed him dearly, and loved to look at that picture, imagining what life would be like if he hadn’t been lost to that stupid war.

Strangely, the picture of my dad was not where it always resided on top of my dresser. Instead in it’s place there was a potted plant. You guessed it, an orchid! It was the most beautiful orchid I’ve ever seen, and yet hadn’t even known these colors could exist in orchid form.

From outside my door, I heard a familiar voice. I couldn’t quite place it at first, but tears quickly flooded to my eyes as the melodic tones became clear to me and the memories came rushing in.

“Kendra. That orchid is nowhere near as beautiful as the fine young woman my daughter has grown up to be. I love you, and I always will.”

“Daddy!”, I yelled as I jumped off the bed and went running out to the hallway to be embraced in his arms.

Only, when I rounded the door-frame, there was no one there. No Daddy, no nobody, just nothing. This was the worst day ever. How could somebody torture me in this way? If this is just a dream, how could God be so mean and get my hopes up.

Sure enough, I hear my alarm go off. CRAP! it WAS just a dream!

I opened my eyes, and nearly jumped out of my skin! There, sitting on the edge of my bed, staring down at me was my Daddy!

“Good Morning Kendra. You’ve turned out to be quite the beautiful young woman. More beautiful than the most exotic orchid on earth. I’m so happy to be home and be able to see you again. I’m home. Home for good.”

Orchids are great, but Daddys are better!

Copyright Karl Gartman 2015

The Big Giant Head

It was a dark and stormy night.

Well, not really. It was actually a clear and pleasant night with the stars shining and temperate weather (but that doesn’t sound nearly as interesting). We had been bugging mom all day to come to the carnival that was setup in our local mall parking lot, and finally she gave in and let us come. We were here, the fun could finally begin!

We entered through the cattle chute opening and took in all the sights, sounds, and smells. Rides were blaring their garish music, the game operators were all shouting about how easy it was to win at their games, and the kids all around were shrieking with excitement.  But there was just one thing I was interested in tonight. It wasn’t the rides, wasn’t the games, wasn’t even the delicious,greasy,carnival,deep-fat fried, flatulence producing, gut busting food available everywhere we looked.

I came for one thing and one thing only.

I’d heard about it on the radio earlier in the week and then read about it on multiple twitter posts this morning. “Head on Over to See the BIG GIANT HEAD!” all the articles beckoned. “It’s Gigantic. It’s Enormous, It’s Gi-normous!”  I don’t know why, but I just had to go see that head!

I figure I’m a pretty smart cookie. In fact I’d say I’m the smartest person I know. But… I had never seen a Big Giant Head, so this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss!  I didn’t want to be the only one at school Monday morning who hadn’t seen the Big Giant Head.

I dragged my sister through the crowds, ignoring her pleas to ride the rides and play the games. We finally reached the small tent where a large sign with lights flashing all around it declared “See the Big Giant Head! Only $2”  After making our way through the seemingly never-ending line waiting to get in, the Carnival Barker standing there reached out a hand to take my money. “Are you ready to see the most amazing thing sonny?” He barked out. “Only $2 to see the Biggest Head ever! Do you think you’re pretty smart son? Do you think you’re the smartest person you know? If so this attraction is perfectly suited to you. We guarantee you’ll never see a bigger head.”

I thrust my $2 into the man’s hand, overwhelmed with excitement about what incredible oddity I was going to see. I ditched my sister outside and strode bravely into the tent while expecting something gruesome.

It was unbelievable!  I was flabbergasted!  How can this be? I had never expected such a preposterous sight!

There, standing all alone in the middle of the tent, was a vanity. The kind with a mirror on top that showed you a perfect image of your head. Only… It was MY head in the mirror. I was looking at my own head!  I had paid $2 to look at my own head in a mirror!  Man! Sometimes for being the smartest guy ever I could still get suckered. I was furious and started planning how I was going to get my money back from that no-good cheating carny, when it hit me.

I got to see EXACTLY what I paid for.

A big giant head.The guy who thought he was smarter than everyone else.

Nobody is going to know about this!

At school the next day the stories about what the Big Giant Head looked like were astounding and all completely different. But not a single person admitted to what they really found in the middle of the tent that night. I guess we all learned a little bit of humility that dark and stormy night. (and how to make up an incredible story Monday morning!)

© Karl Gartman 2015

This was a short story for Rachael Ritchey’s Blog Battle.

If you don’t know the rules, here they are. Be sure to join us next week with your own short story:

Rules:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!