Not Long Tales … September 17th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4170)

6.

Walt

The name “Walter” was quickly selected by two frightened young folk, who found out that his had mixed with hers, to suddenly produce an us.

Walter was the name of the uncle who had purchased her a Volkswagen Beetle the summer before she headed off to college with aspirations of becoming a marine biologist. Instead, she ended up pregnant before the first semester was done. He and she decided that “Baby Three” deserved to have a Mom and Dad instead of a live-in boyfriend or a Baby Mama.

So Walter began his life with parents who worked two jobs while trying fervently to pursue college degrees. By the time he began school, he had already discovered that his name was different than most of the young kids who frequented his personal sandbox space. As his education began, the atmosphere of “Biancas, Brians, Alicias and Brocks” left very little air for a “Walter” to breathe.

Immediately, by consensus, the first-grade class unanimously agreed that Walter was a “stupid name.”

By the third grade they began to rhyme it: Falter, Halter (as in “one who halts”).

By the fifth grade, when he insisted they call him Walt, for some reason the class clown changed it to Wait. Yes—W-A-I-T.

Then, in the seventh grade, it became a joke, as people began to poke him with phrases like “losing Wait,” or “Wait a second.” Then there was “worth the Wait…”

Well, you get the idea.

By the time Walt graduated from high school and had finished his second year in college, he decided to spend a year traveling through Europe. There he discovered that the name Walter was not worthy of persecution, which caused him to yearn stay on the continent for the rest of his life. But instead, he returned home to finish his education, still socially stunted.

So much had he missed that by the time he was twenty-five years old, he had no driver’s license.

People found this odd, and often questioned him. “How did you get to be twenty-five and have no driver’s license?”

He tried several answers, searching for one that would satisfy the questioner but make him look as good as possible. He eventually landed on a pair of possible purposes:

  1. “I never had to drive anywhere.”
  2. “I didn’t want to get a driver’s license until I could buy my own car.”

Exactly nine days after his twenty-fifth birthday, Walt took the bus over to the local DMV to take his driver’s test. It was a Tuesday morning. (One might call it a beautiful Tuesday morning if one were not frightened to overuse the word “beautiful.”)

As Walt stepped into the DMV and glanced around, he surmised that there were about thirty-five people. Sure enough when he walked up to take a paper number—his place in line—it was 37.

Walt would wait.

In the midst of the sitting and trying to make a four-year-old magazine seem interesting, a young man burst through the door, walked immediately to the front desk and began to argue with the receptionist.

This would not have been horribly unusual, but it became louder and louder. Then they began to hit each other.

When a guy in a chair nearby stood to his feet, attempting to become the knight in shining armor to rescue the damsel in the dress, the shouting dude grabbed a letter opener on the counter and thrust it to the girl’s throat.

The room was suddenly chilled in a freeze frame. No one could breathe. No one could think. Speech was absent.

Walt, on the other hand, was pissed. Walt was done.

Maybe it was the countless years of criticism over his name. Perhaps it was regretting that he hadn’t stayed in France.

All he knew for sure was that he had come to the DMV to get his license, and godamn it, he was going to leave with permission from the State of South Dakota to drive a car.

He stood to his feet and began quickly walking toward the door, as if to leave.

“What the hell are you doing?” called out one of the astonished sitters.

The holder of the letter opener screamed at him. “You sit back down!”

Walt did not listen. He kept heading for the exit.

“Where are you going?” screeched the attacker.

And then, Walt stopped dead in his tracks, pivoted toward the accoster, and spoke calmly. “Well, it’s real simple. You see, there’s a gun store just two doors down. I’m gonna go and buy myself a pistol, get some bullets, and come back here and blow your ass away.”

“Quit it! Quit it! You’re gonna make him mad!” shivered a lady directly across from the action.

“I’ll kill’er! I’ll kill’er!” shouted the boyfriend.

Walt asked, “What’s your name?”

The young man paused for a moment, then said, “None of your business.”

Walt tilted his head back, examining the ceiling. “Okay. We’ll call you Angry Boyfriend, which is too long, so you’re just A. B.”

Completely baffled, the man slowly nodded his head as if approving the name selection.

Meanwhile, Walt turned to the girlfriend. “Now,” he said. “What’s your name?”

“Mandy,” the little lamb said sheepishly.

A. B. squeezed her neck tighter. “Don’t tell him your name!”

“Why not?” she said, mousy.

This completely stalled A. B., yet not wanting to appear indecisive, he recovered quickly. “Because then they’ll know!”

While A. B. was busy arguing with Mandy, Walt had turned back toward the door, walking again, ready to make his departure.

“Wait! Wait!” pleaded the angry boyfriend.

Walt giggled a little inside at hearing the word “wait.” Brought back some memories. Still, without turning back toward A. B., he said, “I’m sorry. I’ve gotta go get my gun.”

A. B., mustering as much macho-sinister tone as possible, spat, “But I’ll kill’er.”

Walt chuckled. Yes, he did. He turned around slowly, and said, “A. B., I don’t think so. You see, what you’ve got there in your hand is a letter opener—and by the way, I didn’t even know they made’em anymore. Who’s opening letters?”

Mandy piped up. “just every once in a while, it’s nice to have one around.”

A. B. shook her. “Shut up!”

Walt continued. “Well you see, back to what I was saying. What you have is a letter opener, which is supposed to be dull, so people don’t cut themselves and bleed all over their desks.”

A. B. glanced down at the letter opener and threatened, “I’ll make it cut.”

Walt laughed. “Well, if you want my opinion, and you want to come off as really dangerous, you better go ahead and test it. You know—find a place on her arm or her leg and see if you can even puncture the skin with it.”

From way across the room, a man’s voice objected. “Don’t give him ideas!”

A. B. thought for a second, ran his finger across the blade and had to agree—it was too dull to cut anything. He changed his strategy. “Then I’ll strangle her with my arm!”

Walt couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing. This caused the whole room to gasp, fearing he was going to taunt the boyfriend into mayhem.

“Come on, A. B.,” chided Walt. “By the time you tried to strangle her, three or four of us would be all over you.”

Suddenly, in the midst of the conversation, the front door burst open, breaking glass everywhere, and in came two policemen in full riot garb, each carrying a shotgun. Walt was barely able to jump out of the way and escape the spray of glass as it flew through the entranceway.

The policeman noticed Walt standing there and turned the shotgun in his direction. Nice and easy, Walt reached over, pushed it away and said, “No, no, no. It’s not me. It’s that guy over there with the letter opener, trying to decide if he wants to be the DMV Strangler.”

The policeman, confused, just peered at Walt.

The second cop spoke up. “What’s his name?” he said, shotgun pointed at the offender.

“Good question,” said Walt. “We’ve decided to call him A. B.”

“Abee?” challenged the cop. “Is he an Arab terrorist?”

Walt shook his head. “No, no. He’s a whole lot of fussin’ from ever creating terror.”

Walt again tried to leave, but all at once, A. B. beckoned to him from his unholy stance. “You stay! I can talk to you! Don’t go! I don’t know these cops—and they already got guns! All I’ve got is a…”

Walt turned around, stepped past the policeman and interrupted. “Yeah! All you got is a letter opener!”

The first policeman leaned in and whispered to Walt. “Would you mind staying? You seem to have a calming influence.”

Walt leaned back and glanced at him. The policeman repeated his request, much more loudly. “Would you stay? I’d like you to help us talk to this fellow.”

The whole room seemed to nod in mutual agreement. Walt was needed. Walt was valuable. Walt suddenly was worth the wait.

He smiled. Never before had he been honored or appreciated for anything. But now, Walt was not only the center of attention, but his abilities were required to diffuse the danger.

Walt nodded and slowly approached A. B., one foot at a time, as he spoke. “A. B., what you’ve got here is a situation where you’re in the middle of a fox hunt. You know much about fox hunts? If you don’t, in this fox hunt, y would be the dog. It works this way—when gentlemen go out on horses over there in England, and hunt for foxes, it’s the dog that does all the work. The dog gets dirty. It is the dog that crawls through holes, gets stuck by bramble bushes, and finally corners the fox, leaving it no place to go. And then the good men of the county show up with their guns and blow the furry creature away.”

Walt stopped his walking and looked squarely into A. B.’s eyes. He reached up and scratched his head. “Now, wait a second,” he said. “Maybe I’ve got this wrong. I mean, the story’s good. But maybe you’re not the dog. Maybe you’re the fox they’re gonna blow away. It’s just so hard to tell. You know what I mean, A. B.? But either way, if you’re not careful, you’re either gonna walk out of here completely as a stinkin’ dog—or a dead fox.”

A still fell over the room while A. B. considered his dilemma. Suddenly he let his arm fall to his side, as the letter opener fell from his hand to the ground. A. B. looked out across the room and spoke to the entire gathering. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I was just trying to argue with my girlfriend.” He glanced over at Mandy. “My cheatin’ girlfriend.”

Mandy suddenly gained full voice. “I was not cheating!” she said indignantly. “You never gave me time to explain! The guy I was hugging was my older brother, who just came back from basic training. Support the troops, loser!”

A. B.’s mouth dropped open. He wanted to object, but realized her story was not only possible, but likely. He hung his head, then lifted his eyes. “Well,” he muttered, “it sure looked like cheatin’.”

At this point, the two policemen stepped over quickly, apprehended A. B. and cuffed him.

The whole roomful of DMV-waiters, greatly relieved, burst into applause. As they took the angry boyfriend (A. B.) away, and the traumatized girlfriend to the hospital, the people turned and stared at Walt.

Yes, Walter who didn’t falter.

He, on the other hand, realized it was an excellent moment to gain some turf. He held up his tiny piece of paper that read “37.”

He walked slowly around the room. Then, speaking with a firm and deliberate tone, said, “Listen,” he said. “I don’t know who has Number 1—but get this straight. Whoever you are, you’re trading with me.”

He looked around and concluded, “Today I’m going first.”

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Not Long Tales … September 10th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4163)

5.

Pocket Size

Carl couldn’t stop staring at the small, cherrywood box sitting at the front of the church. He was very still, except every once in a while he got nervous knees and started swinging his legs, which prompted his mother to give him a quick, gentle swat, as she whispered in his direction, “Don’t you be actin’ like some peckerwood.”

He did not know what she meant by that, but every time she warned him in her stern tone, which still contained just a hint of her Norwegian upbringing, he was quite certain that even though he was a young fella, subject to fits of boredom, he did not want to be classified as a peckerwood, which based upon his mother’s disgust, must absolutely be a forsaken doomed child.

Inside that cherrywood box which drew his attention was his classroom friend. Her name was Lydia. They had told Carl that she was dead, though no further details were offered. Yet just by sitting quietly and listening to the adults on the way to the funeral, he was able to learn that his friend, Lydia, had been murdered by some stranger and cut into pieces, leaving behind only her blood-soaked dress.

All these words were so cruel and foul that Carl was unable to find an image in his mind to match them.

The funeral pressed on. Song after song, speech after speech. Especially terrifying to his young heart was when he saw Lydia’s mother and father break down in tears, a howling so intense it left him shivering, his skin crawling.

So he was relieved when they left the church, got into the big, black car with four adults including his mother, and headed off to the gravesite, where there would be more songs, talking and tears. Carl felt a little bad because he was grateful for the distraction.

Recently his life at school had become nearly unbearable. Living in the rural regions of Minnesota and having the last name “Bunyan,” Carl was constantly teased by all the children, because unlike his mythical ancestor, Paul Bunyan, Carl was a boy who was very small, slight, quiet, shy and sheepish.

Although these words were associated with goodness, they were taunted as failure by the overwhelming bullies. Last week, desperate, Carl went to see his grandfather, Peter. Peter Bunyan. He explained the trouble he was having at school because he was a Bunyan but didn’t have a mighty axe and seemed to be unable to “drink an entire lake.”

His grandfather listened carefully, stroked the boy’s flyaway hair and said, “When these boys say their words, you think this to yourself. I want you to memorize it. You think, then speak: Not small, not tall, not loud, not proud, just a lad, so glad, no lies, pocket size.

Grandfather reached down and tickled his ribs to prompt a giggling closing. Then he continued, “You see, that’s what you are. You’re perfect. You’re pocket size. You can be tucked away and carried anywhere.”

Even though Carl was not greatly comforted by the counsel and the bullies were unimpressed by the little rhyme he shared, his tensions were relieved.

And then the whole school received the news that Lydia, who had been missing for a month, was dead.

Now, standing at the grave, next to the hole in the ground where the cherrywood box would be placed, he was suddenly shaken with fear and grief. Since nobody was paying much attention to him, he scooted away and walked through the cemetery, heading toward the northeast corner where the bigger and older monuments covered with moss stood, worn but tall.

As he walked among them, he paused in front of one that still had some bluish-gray stone shining through.

“Is that you, Thomas?”

The voice seemed to come from inside him—out through the top of his head and into the surrounding air. “What?” he asked, looking around in every direction for the source of the question.

“Is that you, little Thomas? You haven’t visited for so long.”

Carl held his breath. He stared at the gravesite and realized that the question was coming from within it. He couldn’t help it—he was so terrified he peed his pants. He leaped away and looked in every direction to see if there was anybody who might possibly have been addressing him.

Embarrassed by his action of urinating himself, he looked over at the surrounding grass, and noticed some dribble of his own pee on the blades. Fearing being caught and punished, he ran over, took his foot and covered up the droplets with some dirt. As he did, the voice spoke again.

“Thomas, why have you come to see me?”

It was too much. Carl turned and ran at breakneck speed, not stopping until he literally collided into his mother’s leg, almost knocking her over. Having a maternal sense beyond comprehension, she gave a sniff and inquired, “Did you wet yourself?”

Carl was astounded, but replied, “Maybe. But I don’t think so. Nah.”

When they got home, he scurried out of the car and into his room, where he immediately changed. Merely wearing underpants, he lay on his bed, thinking about what he had experienced.

He must have been dreaming. Yes, maybe he had dozed off looking at the stones. Still, there was a tug from the adventuresome part of him—which usually hid away out of propriety and for fear of criticism.

He came out to eat dinner and asked his parents when the sun would rise. They gave him a quizzical look but told him that according to the newspaper it was set to rise at six-thirty in the morning. He nodded. They waited for an explanation. Realizing he needed to come up with something, he continued nodding, and mustered, “Schoolwork.”

“But tomorrow is Saturday,” objected his father. “There’s no school.”

Nervously, Carl replied, “Yes. But there is a sunrise, right?”

Carl’s mother found this funny, laughed, and the subject disappeared into the air. But the next morning, shortly after dawn, Carl headed back toward the cemetery. He brought along a canteen, a couple of candy bars and one of the small kitchen knives, just in case he had to defend himself. Of course, if ghosts were talking to him, a knife probably wouldn’t be very helpful. But it could scare them away.

Arriving at the cemetery, a walk of about a mile-and-a-half, he made his way to the gravestone where he had heard the voice. He edged forward until he was standing directly in front of the stone.

“Is that you, Thomas?” came the voice again, sounding identical to the way it had the day before. Carl immediately had the urge to run, but tried hard to stand still, his knees knocking.

“Not many people visit. Thank you for coming,” the voice stated politely. He quickly backed away, moving to the left, and found himself in front of another stone.

“My wife is my problem,” spoke a different voice. Frightened, Carl quickly leaped back to his original position.

“Hello, again, Thomas! Did you forget something?”

Carl carefully stepped across the adjacent grave and perched in front of another stone, next to the complaining husband.

“Do you know my husband?” A woman’s voice. “He is a philanderer.”

Carl didn’t know what the word meant, but inched back to his right, facing the other grave.

“My wife is nothing but a nagging machine!” intoned the voice.

Carl smiled. He was standing in front of the graves of a husband and wife. He moved to his left.

“I didn’t want to be buried next to him,” said the wife, “but the plot had already been purchased.”

Carl stepped again to his right, in front of the husband’s plot.

“It was bad enough that I had to live with her. To have her as a next-door neighbor is completely intolerable.”

Carl was terrified—but entertained at the same time. He spent the next hour going from grave to grave, hearing pieces of conversation—mostly complaints.

He wondered if death was a place where people realized that their lives were over, but they still kept their sadness. He had not yet decided whether to talk back to the grave-speakers, so forming what he thought was a very good question, when he was in front of the lady’s grave, after he heard her latest complaint, he asked, “Why are you so unhappy? I thought heaven was a place of joy.”

There was a long pause. Maybe Carl was not allowed to offer a contribution to the conversation. Then the voice responded, speaking softly.

“Heaven is unimaginable,” came the answer. “It’s just that every once in a while, we have to come back here to remember our lives, feel again, and pray for others.”

Carl shook his head. It was all so bizarre.

He had heard of a word—they had just learned it in school. Hallucination. Maybe that was what was happening to him. With all the tension of being bullied at school and the death of his friend, maybe his mind was escaping reality by creating a new world, separate from the pain. At least, that’s what the definition in the schoolbook said.

He slipped away, careful not to disturb any more gravesites, or souls.

As he was leaving the cemetery, he remembered the grave of his friend. Young Lydia. He wondered if it was proper to bother her so soon after her passing. But his curiosity overtook him.

He eased up to her grave and stood right in front of the marker that had been left, preparing for the arrival of the stone.

Nothing but silence.

Wondering if the hallucination time was over, he stepped over to his right. There was a woman’s voice, explaining the pain she had tucked away during her life.

On the gravesite to the left of Lydia’s, there was a young man’s voice, apologizing for drinking and losing his life in a car wreck.

But whenever he stood in front of Lydia’s grave, there was only silence.

Something was wrong.

Carl walked to the edge of the cemetery. About to head to his house, he realized that the town was only about a half-mile away, so he walked, jogged and ended up running to the police station. He had no idea what he was going to say.

He walked through the door. The entire station turned to look at him. He felt surrounded, realizing there would be no way to explain what he wanted to say without appearing to be the “crazy boy,” a dumb kid pulling a crank, or worst of all, coming off like a peckerwood.

A woman detective stepped forward, sensing something amiss. She took little Carl into her office and sat him down. She bought him a root beer. He loved root beer. (Mostly it was the taste, but some of it was being able to say he was drinking a beer, even though it had a root, too.)

After several sips, he relaxed. She was so understanding that he spilled his whole story. The funeral, the gravesite and the voices. He even told her that he had wet his pants. He explained that he had come back this morning just to see if he was nutty—or maybe just to confirm that he was wacko.

She listened carefully, hanging on his every word. When he was finally done sharing, she leaned in close to his face—so near that he could smell the coffee on her breath. “You’ve just had a really, really bad week. What is your name?”

Carl swallowed hard, knowing that once he gave his name, he was opening the door to his parents finding out about his weird comings, and now, weird goings.

“Carl Bunyan,” he replied dutifully. But he could not silence himself. The sense of dread overtook him, so he continued. “I know my story sounds crazy, but what if I’m right? Would you really hate yourself, ma’am, if you helped out a little kid? Even if I’m wrong, you can always say, you know…that you’re a good police person.”

Carl could see that she was considering it. She chuckled to herself and asked, “Well, what do you want me to do?”

Carl said, “I’m telling you—Lydia is not in that grave.”

The policewoman sat back and heaved a sigh. “Of course not. They didn’t find her body. I don’t want to spook you, but we think she was chopped up by her killer, and her body parts thrown in with the hogs down at the Spencer farm.”

Carl grimaced, but after he thought for a moment, he replied, “No—I mean, you know what you’re talking about, but I still just don’t think she’s dead.”

These seemed to be the magic words—the needed phrase. The detective patted him on the head and said, “Now you’ve given me probable cause. It’s my duty to follow up on every lead.”

She asked Carl to stay in her office while she checked some things out. It didn’t take very long. About an hour-and-a-half later she returned and awoke him from one of those “do nothing, go to sleep” naps. She was shaking her head. Carl noticed that her hands were also shaking.

“Carl,” she said, “I need to tell you—we went to the mortuary to talk to the undertaker who buried Lydia. At first, he was hostile. Do you know what hostile means?”

Carl nodded.

“I was suspicious of why he was so hostile,” the detective went on, “so I pushed him, and when I told him I was thinking about digging up her body, he broke down and confessed. Now, here’s the story. Carl, Lydia’s parents ran out of money, so they decided to go over to Beckersville. That’s about thirty miles away. They found some people who owned a big farm and they sold the girl to these folks so she could work for them. They got twenty thousand dollars for her. Before they took her over there, they drew some blood from her, telling her that she was donating to the Red Cross. And they worked out a deal to give two thousand dollars to the undertaker to keep his mouth shut—and to bury just the dress they had stained with her blood. So you, sir—you were absolutely right. Lydia was not there, and now she’s headed back home, to be with her grandparents. And three very bad people are on their way to jail.”

“Peckerwoods,” said Carl.

The detective frowned but nodded her head. “Yeah,” she agreed. “I guess they’re peckerwoods.”

Although the authorities kept the story as quiet as possible, it was leaked, and young Carl became quite the hero. He never, ever went back to the cemetery. He took the deceased at their word. The folks there were busy with their concerns.

He went back to school, and the bullies left him alone. Maybe they were all a little afraid that Carl might bring a ghost down on their heads.

Carl didn’t care.

Carl wasn’t unhappy.

Carl didn’t need to be famous.

He had decided he enjoyed being pocket size.

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Cracked 5… November 10th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2748)

cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Nearly Famous People or Events Whose Names Just Happen to Rhyme with Benghazi

 

A. Sven Losney, a young Norwegian skier who failed to make the Olympics because he broke his left fjord.

 

B. Manny Cosfulli, an aspiring pizza maker from suburban Chicago, who wanted to start his own pizzeria, but didn’t have the dough.

 

C. 10 Rospy: The number of Rospys it takes to qualify for the Creole Big Gumbo lottery.

 

D. Ken Nosey, a television producer who was assigned to locate the gentleman to be the next “Bachelor.” (He chose Pope Francis.)

 

E. Clem Bogly, a high school running back who was critically injured flirting with his razorback.

 

Cracked 5 razorback

 

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Untotaled–Stepping 15 (August 17th, 1965): Mr. O … May 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2243)

(Transcript)

I called him Mr. O because he had a Norwegian name with five syllables that I could neither remember nor pronounce.

He was older than death.

What I mean is, his flesh was so gray and his movements were so slow that he appeared to be a creature coming from the grave instead of one inching towards the tombstone.

I didn’t like him. He didn’t like me.

I think our mutual displeasure began one day when I was mowing the lawn and the grass clippings blew onto his beautiful, graveled driveway. He came out of his house screaming at me, explaining that all I had to do was turn the mower around and pull it towards me, so that the clippings would go into my own yard.

Honestly, it sounded tedious, meaningless and frustrating.

So when I went inside and explained it to my mother and father, they had the opportunity to do something inspirational. They could have explained that since it was Mr. O’s driveway, he had the right to decide how it would be decorated.

But I guess they had problems with him, too. Because they rolled their eyes, called him a few choice names and walked away, leaving me to believe it was my family duty to continue to aggravate him.

So I did. I refused to mow in the direction he requested, blowing my grass across his well-kempt drive.

In retaliation, every time one of my balls rolled into his yard, he retrieved it and refused to give it back.

It was a feud.

It was ridiculous and could have been so easily handled if I had been instructed to give place to the feelings of another human being. But instead my childish sensations were justified instead of rectified.

I think my parents thought they were trying to be cool and side with their son. But I needed more than that.

I needed to learn how to live in a world that demands sharing.

Before I could grow up and become a decent human being, Mr. O passed away. So many things I would like to tell him.

  • For after all, Mr. O had the right to determine what came into his own yard.
  • Mr. O even had the right not to like me.
  • And I must realize that Mr. O had the God-given right to be cranky.

For after all, if I am going to be mean to everybody I don’t like or who doesn’t like me, I’m going to be too busy pursuing vendettas … to ever enjoy myself.

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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