Dang Jack Rabbit

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Bill runs into his neighbor Fred at the local feed store.  In conversation, Bill tells Fred, “I noticed that there back tire on yer truck is a mite bit low on tread.”

Fred replies back, “Ah, dat there tire has quite a few miles left da go.”

The men depart and finish up their business in town before heading back home.  As Bill drives down the road, he comes upon Fred’s truck, rolled over on its side, off of the road.

Bills stops and surveys the situation.  Fred appears okay, much of his cattle feed is scattered on the ground, and the suspected tire has blown nearly clean off of the rim.

Bill calmly asks Fred what has happened.  With eyes growing bigger by the second, Fred excitedly tells him, “A vig jack rabbit nearly ran me self off this here road.  Look vat he did to ma perfectly good tire.”

I appreciate you stopping to read another of these very short stories.  If you missed my previous micro short stories, you can find them from the links below.  Enjoy!

Grandpa’s Doughnuts

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Grandpa snuck away from Grandma one morning.  She was busy with her quilting, and he felt an urge to satisfy his sweet tooth.

Just down the street, a little doughnut shop waited with the hottest coffee and the most treasured, sweet creations ever made.  Without Grandma nearby to fuss at him, he could enjoy coffee, doughnuts, and some conversation with whomever dropped by the shop.

He orders the usual:  coffee with his two favorite doughnuts.  Boston-cream and maple-covered long john, each looks mouth-watering and delicious.

Behind him, the shop’s door opens, and two little children bust in with giggles and way too much energy.

“Grandpa, Grandpa!”  His grandchildren, Ben and Lydia, just happen to discover where Grandpa is hiding out.

A moment later, Grandpa is enjoying coffee, spending time with two very special children, and sharing his doughnuts.

There will be another time for enjoying doughnuts, but loving Lydia and Ben . . . Precious!

 

Final Shot

I have been enjoying some fun with writing micro short stories.  Here is my second attempt with 99 words.  Enjoy the suspenseful surprise at the end!

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The gymnasium thunders with cheers as the Bears steal a pass and score to lead by a single point.

The game clock counts down the final seconds.  Whistle blows!

One of the Bears’ starters falls with injury.  A little-used sub enters the contest, appearing anxious to enter the big game.

To seal victory, the Bears only need to pass the ball inbounds.  Beneath the opponent’s basket, stands a wide-open player—the sub!

He cleaning catches the pass, faces the basket, and shoots.

Score!

Oh my!

Game over!

The eager sub just scored the winning basket for the other team.

 

If you enjoyed this small taste of my short story writing, perhaps you are ready for one of my previously published short stories.  While these are longer in length, they have proven to be quite entertaining.

Honey Tree

Here is a micro short story with a length of 115 words.  I was shooting for about 100 so I missed the mark by a little bit.  Tell me what you think.  Should I write more of these types of stories?

brown and black bees

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A famished black bear rummages through the thick, overgrown forest.  His endless appetite resembles a midnight thief raiding the fridge for a sweet tasting snack.

His ravenous mood brings him to an ancient tree trunk, containing a large opening.  The tree might as well display a flashing sign:  HONEY!

The bear’s sweet tooth needs to be satisfied, but before he can explore further . . . a warning signal vibrates through the inside of the tree.

The colony of honeybees has been notified that an intruder has arrived at their honey factory:  HONEY ALERT! 

A swarm of bees flies into attack position.  The lead striker says, “We have the target in sight.”

GO!     GO!     GO!

Rebel and the Red-Neck Bears

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Deep in the woods stands an enormous and beautifully built cabin.  The cabin has been the most magnificent home in the immense woods for many years.

The cabin provides a well-to-do home for the Red-Neck Bears.  They keep the inside of their cabin looking pleasant, and the yard is always maintained to look better than any found in the woods.  Someone always asks, “Why are they called the Red-Neck Bears?”

The Bears always wear colorful red scarves around their necks.  The bright red color separates them from the other bears that live throughout the woods. The Red-Neck Bears are a family filled with plenty of sophistication and class, and their lifestyle is the envy of all who live in the woods.

Some may feel that they already know the story of the “Three Bears” from childhood stories from long ago, but this is the sequel that few have ever heard of.  Sit down now, relax a spell, and enjoy the story.

True, there are three bears.  The family’s patriarch is Papa Bear, a mighty beast with a loving and soft heart.  His lovely wife, Mama Bear, keeps the home running smoothly with tender love and care.  Their child, Baby Bear, is so grown-up now that Papa Bear likes to refer to him as Junior Bear.

The Bears awake early on this warm summer morning (as they always do).  Each puts on a fresh and clean red scarf as is the family’s tradition.  Mama Bear prepares the usual breakfast of porridge (some habits never change).  As expected, the porridge is much too hot for anyone to eat so the family leaves their cozy and comfortable cabin for a quick, morning walk while the porridge cools.

Now, let’s see where the rest of the story goes.  Remembering of course, this is a sequel in the storyline of the “Three Bears”, aka “Red-Neck Bears.”

While the Bears are away, mischief arrives in their front yard.  A curious and sometimes naughty thirteen-year old boy, Rebel, stumbles upon the cabin.  He has run away from his family who live in the big city on the other side of the woods.  Rebel is always in trouble back home, and his parents have threatened him with a harsher life filled with fewer privileges until he shapes up.  He is on his way to becoming the most obnoxious of all juvenile delinquents.

As Rebel steps into the yard, he quickly discovers three four-wheelers parked in a perfectly straight line, just like they have been waiting for his arrival.  The Bears enjoy taking rides throughout the woods on their splendid machines.  It can be quite exhilarating to experience the vastness and beauty of the woods while riding these sporty vehicles.

Rebel jumps on the gigantic four-wheeler, but the seat feels much too large and too hard.  He accidentally spits out his hunk of bubble gum, and it lands squarely on the seat.  Looking to his right, he moves to the next four-wheeler.  The seat fits better, but it feels much too soft.  Frustrated, Rebel deflates one of the tires just because it seems like the right thing to do.

Jumping off, Rebel steps over to the final machine.  Everything feels just right as he sits on the seat.  He eagerly cranks up the motor and takes off for a spin around the front yard.  Being a city kid, Rebel has never driven anything like a four-wheeler.  He quickly loses control.

Crash!

A mammoth maple tree blocks the path of the small four-wheeler.  Unhurt, Rebel hops off.  He seems unfazed by the damage done to the tree, much less the mangled front end of the machine.

Meanwhile, the porridge continues to cool in the kitchen.  The Bears are enjoying their early morning venture into the woods, but they realize that they must soon turn around and begin heading back before the porridge becomes cold.

Rebel scampers up the front steps and boldly enters the cabin without any fear.  He has assumed, correctly of course, that the home is empty.  Afterall, no one came running outside when he foolishly crashed into the majestic maple tree.

Inside the living room in plain sight are three different sizes of video screens.  The Bears enjoy gaming on each of their individual screens.  Walking right past the three comfortable-looking chairs, Rebel checks out the enormous video screen, but he cannot figure out how to operate the remote.  Frustrated, he throws the remote at the wall, and it shatters into several pieces.

Sliding over to the slightly smaller screen, Rebel becomes frustrated with the poor quality of the video.  His impatience ruptures as he slams the screen to the floor, cracking it in more than one place.  Anyone can see that young Rebel has a temper that boils over quickly and easily.

Last of all, Rebel spies a small mobile game device sitting on an end table, and it looks just right.  He has used a similar device before at a friend’s house in the city.  Happily, he begins playing on the device before slipping through the kitchen and dashing past the cooling porridge.  He takes the device with him, thinking that he will keep this for the journey home.

Meanwhile, the hungry Bears are nearing their home.  With a brief stop to gather some fresh berries for their porridge and some firewood for the wood stove, they will be back in less than ten minutes.

As Rebel glides out the back door, he realizes that his family is probably quite worried about his sudden disappearance.  He is set to begin his walk back through the woods towards the city, but three hot tubs catch his wondering eyes as he hurries across the backyard.  A morning dip appeals to him before he begins his journey for home (and a stern talking to from his parents, who have been distraught all morning).

As he approaches the tubs, he kicks off his shoes and socks.  Rebel dips a hand into the enormous tub, but he discovers that the water is much too hot for him.  Moving over to the next tub, he dips a bare left foot into the calm water, but swiftly pulls it back out.  With the water feeling like ice cubes, he accidentally loosens his grip on the gaming device.  The device falls to the bottom of the tub where it suffers a frigid, fateful plunge.

With one hot tub left to check out, Rebel cautiously approaches.  He feels the warm water beckoning him to jump in . . . and he does, clothes and all!  The steamy water feels just right as he slumps down in the perfectly sized tub.  Hmm, he feels like he could stay here forever.

Soon, the perfectly heated water serenades Rebel to sleep.  His long trip away from home has left him more fatigued than he realizes.

A few minutes later the Bears arrive back home.  Finished with their walk, yet famished, each of them looks forward to enjoying a warm breakfast bowl of porridge with some of the berries that they harvested during their uneventful walk.

“What’s this!”  Papa Bear roars with frustration and anger.

In the front yard, all three bears witness the carnage done to their treasured four-wheelers.  In shock and disappointment, Papa Bear sees that his machine has moved a few feet from its accustomed parking spot, its headlight has been left on, and a huge blob of bubble gum is stuck to the seat.  Mama Bear, in disbelief, agonizes that one of her back tires is flat.

Junior Bear screams, “Who crashed my bike into the maple tree?”

Sure enough, Junior Bear’s four-wheeler is crumbled like an accordion against the magnificent tree, which now sports a nasty divot in its massive trunk.

Papa Bear’s temper is beginning to swell as the family proceeds into the house.  In the living room, they find that their sturdy, comfortable chairs are untouched.  “Thank goodness for that,” whispers Papa Bear in a quiet, uncertain voice.

“Oh my dear!” Mama Bear cries out as her eyes scan the rest of the room.

The three view the damage done to their prized video screens.  Paper Bear finds his remote . . . well, at least the shattered pieces left on the floor.  Mama Bear stands over her smashed video screen, which is lying upside down on the floor.  Both are feeling their usual calm demeanor heating up into a fiery rage.

Junior Bear frantically surveys the room and cannot find his brand new mobile game device.  He growls, “Someone is going to pay for this!”

Now all three of the Red-Neck Bears feel their emotions burning hot—nearly as red as the scarves that are tied around their necks.  Junior Bear runs upstairs to the bedrooms, looking for his game device.  Sadly, he returns downstairs empty-handed, but he reports that their bedrooms appear untouched.

Hurrying through the kitchen, the family barely notices the full bowls of cooling porridge waiting on the table for their starving appetites.  Their hunting instincts lead them all out the door into the backyard.

Papa Bear walks up to his gigantic hot tub, and he finds a pair of beat-up sneakers and dirty socks lying on the ground.  Hmm, someone has been in the backyard, too.  Mama Bear hurries to her tub, and she immediately finds Junior Bear’s gaming device drowned and dead at the bottom.  She begins to “bear” her teeth.

“Mama, Papa! yells Junior Bear.  The Bears surround the final and smallest hot tub.  Sleeping in the tub is Rebel, the thirteen-year old, delinquent boy, who has turned their tranquil and contented world upside down.

All three of the Bears hiss and growl!  Their razor-sharp teeth are showing, and their ferocious claws look ready to carve up the skinny, teenage boy from the big city.

Jumping up awake in an instant, Rebel takes one look, and his final expression says it all.  He is frightened, and his face turns totally white with terror.  Will he be the Bears’ morning meal?

Screaming, he jumps out of the hot tub and rushes back into the woods—barefooted and soaking wet!

Rebel continues running all the way home.  When he reaches his destination and safety, he tumbles into his warm bed—exhausted from his frightening ordeal and escape from certain death.  He has never felt so frightened or tired.  Sleep overtakes him almost immediately.

But hang on . . . the story is not finished yet!

Several hours later, Rebel wakes up from a deep sleep as the morning has started without him.  He quickly realizes that he has been dreaming the strangest of all hallucinations.  His shoes are scattered in a corner of his disheveled room.  His dry clothes and socks are piled on a chair, and he is wearing his worn and faded “Three Bears” pajamas.  Everything looks and feels just right.  He sighs and smiles . . . being home feels just right!

Meanwhile back in the woods, the Bears have returned from their usual morning walk.  Their four-wheelers, waiting for an afternoon ride, are perfectly parked in a straight line in the front yard.  In the living room, the furniture and video equipment look like they are ready for another day of use.  Junior Bear looks out the kitchen window, and he is already thinking of some hot tub time after breakfast.

The Bears’ morning is going just right.  Their world is unspoiled here deep in the woods.

Their porridge has cooled, and it tastes just right.  Everything else looks and feels just right . . . except!

Junior Bear walks past the kitchen counter and discovers three red-colored scarves resting there.  He asks, “Where did these red scarves come from?”

I hope that you enjoyed this update of a classic story.  If you hunger to read one of my other short stories, feel free to checkout “The Flying Trash Can” and “Panic on the River.”

 

 

Panic on the River

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Planning for an adventurous river trip for the past six months, Pete joins his long-time friends Randy, Bill, and Fred.  The men have been looking forward to floating the Little Gulch River, and their expectations run quite high to enjoy a fantastic time.  All of them have floated this river before except for Fred, who will travel this river (or any river) for his first time.

For this time of the year, the river is running extremely high with an unusually swift current.  The local people have never seen the Little Gulch so full at this time of the annual spring run-off.

Twenty years ago, the sometimes treacherous river took the life of a careless fisherman.  The novice angler stood up in his small boat, and his poor balance sent him into the rapid-moving water.  With no help nearby and lacking a life vest, the old man was no match for the Little Gulch.  He perished quickly!

The excited river floaters plan to use Randy’s large eight-man rubber raft.  It will offer plenty of room for all of the fella’s supplies . . . extra life vests, paddles, a cooler filled with a delicious lunch, a few bags of salty and sweet snacks, and beer.  Randy’s water-worthy craft is large enough to handle any of the challenges that the Little Gulch brings their way.

As the “captain” of their vessel, Randy is an experienced river man.  He has floated the Little Gulch numerous times, and he is intimately familiar with most of its twists and turns.  The rest of the crew will depend on Randy’s expertise, more than they can ever imagine on this fateful day.

This day’s journey begins early in the morning at Sleeping Bear fishing access.  Few river travelers begin at this point along the river.  This section of the Little Gulch is only floated by the most experienced and skilled boaters and their sleek and stable river crafts.  Confident in his skills and vast experience, Randy looks forward to a routine, uneventful, and safe trip.

Bill looks forward to today’s trip as he enjoys floating the river with Randy and Pete.  The men have known each other since high school, and they have managed to stay in touch throughout the past several years.  These days find them separated by hundreds of miles, but the Little Gulch will provide a scenic backdrop for an exhilarating reunion.  Yes, exciting may not be a strong enough word to describe what awaits the men on their journey down the tricky and sometimes devious river.

The entire day looks to be sunny and warm.  The river’s temperature will be chilly, but it will keep the guys’ six-packs of beer cold in order to quench their thirsts later at lunchtime.  At the bow of the raft, Randy has cleverly secured ropes to safely transport and chill the cans of brew while they remain slightly below the water line.

Pete, having been on the Little Gulch just a few times, is not as experienced as Randy or Bill.  His experience may come in handy at a critical moment today, especially his skills as a competitive swimmer from his high school days.  Somewhere at his home, buried and nearly lost in an overflowing hallway closet, lies a small box with a cache of swimming medals.  Almost forgotten are these achievements!

The guys set out on their adventure.  They expect to have a marvelous time as the raft moves swiftly downstream with the river’s strong moving current.  Randy’s itinerary provides for a mid-day lunch (remember the chilling beer) at an island on the river.  In checking his map, skipper Randy expects the stop to be perfect for food, beer, and a bit of rest.  Over 30 miles downstream awaits the small town of Clifton and the arrival of the fun-loving foursome on board.

The last member of the boat’s crew, Fred, is floating the Little Gulch for his very first time.  With some reluctance, Randy has offered Fred an opportunity to make the trip.  He will replace a much more experienced river man, Mark, who is laid up at his home with a broken arm.  A recent tumble from a ladder puts Mark on the bench for this trip, and Fred is thrilled to be taking his place.

The river cruising quartet enjoys the bright sun and a gentle breeze.  The large rubber raft will likely make a speedy trip down to Clifton.  The men plan to eat dinner at a tasty steakhouse before driving Bill’s old, beat-up pick-up truck back to Randy’s brand new beast of a truck, which has been left at Sleeping Bear.  After loading the raft and supplies into Randy’s truck, Randy and Fred plan to stay overnight in Clifton while Bill and Pete will drive all night to catch an early morning flight back to their separate homes.

As the oversized boat journeys downstream, majestic cottonwood trees line the river bank.  The guys relive past stories and throw out a few new jokes.  The sun is heating up the raft’s surface, and Fred feels thirsty.  Sitting at the bow, he slyly pulls a cold beer from the chilly river water.  Nature provides a perfect way to keep these barley pops cold, and Fred intends to enjoy a few.

Bill and Pete, sitting in the middle of the boat, pay close attention to the river as they paddle and assist with the steering of the craft.  Randy, the mighty river navigator, hardly notices Fred pulling a beer out of the water.  Steering the raft from the stern, he notices that the Little Gulch is running much higher than he expected.

With the river cresting at such a high level, the boat continues to pick up speed in the churning waters.  Randy glances at his watch, and he figures that they will reach Clifton about an hour earlier than expected.  “No worries,” he ponders.  Thinking to himself, perhaps the gang can enjoy a longer lunch break several miles away.

The buoyant raft slides into a long stretch of challenging whitewater.  Everyone begins to feel an adrenaline rush, excitement builds, and the men prepare to float the most exciting segment of the river.

Meanwhile at the bow, Fred pays little attention to what lies ahead.  Another icy, cold beer is sliding right down, and the deceptive Little Gulch will soon bring on more excitement than anyone can imagine.

The eight-man raft picks up speed again, and Randy steers the boat on a straight and steady course.  The large craft is handling the whitewater and rapids without much difficulty.

Out of nowhere, a swarm of mosquitoes attack the crew.  The fellas do their best to fend off the biting invaders.  Suddenly, the overwhelmed craft becomes airborne as it maneuvers more like a large rubber tube instead of a hardy and manageable river craft.  Jumping up and down violently in the quick-moving water, the overmatched boat swirls along as the river attempts to swallow it whole.

Bill and Pete, feeling perspiration running nearly as rapid as the Little Gulch, continue to perform yeoman’s work to keep the boat on a somewhat straight course through the ever-increasing rapids.  Randy, feeling a bit of panic, realizes that he must stay extra alert and as steady as those ancient cottonwood trees lining the river’s edge.

The buzzing mosquitoes are beginning to fly away when Fred excitedly stands up.

Rule #1:  Never ever stand up in a moving boat!

A final attack of the airborne, vampire bugs proves too much for a beleaguered Fred.  In the middle of his thoughts, he remembers his father, Fred Sr.  The elder Fred died a few years ago when he fell off the roof of his home and struck his head.  Perhaps he should sit back down before he falls out of the boat, but fate decides to intervene at its most opportune moment.

Fred continues to stand and swat wildly at the raging mob of mosquitoes.

Randy yells at him, “You need to sit down.  Now!”

Rule #2:  Always listen to the boat’s captain!

Well . . . sometimes worthy advice shows up a bit too late!

Splash!

Fred tumbles into the powerful waters of the Little Gulch.  The guys hear his screams of terror before the river surrounds him and pulls him under the violent surface.  Randy strains to keep the raft steady as the river seems intent on possibly dumping the large boat upside down.  The Little Gulch’s pace quickens—as if on cue!

Bill and Pete glance at each other, wondering what to do next.  Bill, who cannot swim, tightens the straps on his life vest and looks forward to where Fred was just sitting.

Oh no!

Fred’s life vest is nestled at the front of the boat.  In their haste to get the trip started, everyone missed Fred sliding his life vest under the bow area.  Fred is now fighting for his life—just the river and him!

Pete screams, “How could Fred be so incredibly stupid!”

He hurriedly scans the river, and finally spots Fred’s head and shoulders popping up above the foaming whitewater.  Fred, in a semi-drunken state, is splashing around helplessly.  Everyone hears his muffled cries of panic and despair.  How will these three men prepare a plan to save foolish Fred?

As their boat hurries down the wild river, the guys realize that Fred is likely doomed.  But . . . fate always finds a way to tantalize and tease at the most extreme of moments.

Amazingly, the Little Gulch’s ravaging current pushes Fred towards the shore where the ageless cottonwood trees conveniently dangle their branches just above the river’s boiling surface.  As a waterlogged Fred reaches and grabs one of the branches as a lifeline, the fellas watch as he tightly grips a lone branch for his very life.

“Help!  Help me!” echo screams of help from Fred.

The raft dashes to catch up to Fred, who is looming closer and closer.  With a few more yards yet to go, Fred may soon be saved from the clutches of the river.

Out of nowhere, a large tree limb cuts between the raft and Fred.  Like a large water snake gathering speed, the enormous splinter of wood rushes through the water towards Fred.

Whack!

Fred’s grip loosens as he is knocked back into the main waters of the Little Gulch.

Randy and Bill groan in utter disbelief at Fred’s terrible misfortune.  Pete senses that it is now or never for saving Fred.  He alerts his boat mates with a shout that he will try to save poor Fred.

Before Randy and Bill have a chance to persuade Pete to remain safely in the boat, he jumps into the high tide of the Little Gulch.  Unlike Fred, Pete’s life vest assists him as he manages to keep his head above the surface of the river’s furious charge.

Calling upon his swimming prowess (remember those high school medals), he furiously sets a pace to reach Fred as quickly as possible.  Fred, who is about to breathe his last gasp of air, begins to feel the final power of the river upon his tired, weary soul.

Stroke after stroke, Pete’s “state championship” swimming form propels him forward as he cuts the distance quickly.  Ignoring the aching pain in his long-dormant swimming muscles, Pete doggedly pushes himself to reach a nearly unconscious Fred in time.

Meanwhile, Randy and Bill struggle to keep the bulky rubber tube plowing a straight line towards their pair of friends in the water.  Randy hopes that both of his friends survive the death grip being applied by a nasty and angry river.

The Little Gulch prepares to take Fred with her, and possibly Pete, too.  The river’s “Grim Reaper” stands poised to claim another drowning victim or two.

Feeling his last bit of strength giving way, Fred succumbs to the river’s never-ending power.  He is totally out of energy; out of any more willpower . . . the river stands ready to claim final victory!

Pete is reaching his physical limits.  He feels his arms and legs beginning to cramp, but he tries to push on.  If he quits now, Fred’s final doom is sealed.

Death, the river wins!

Looking ahead, his water-filled eyes can no longer locate Fred.  Yet, Pete finds a hidden reserve of energy to continue his sprint to where he last saw Fred.

Where is Fred?

Has the Little Gulch pulled his lifeless body to her rocky bottom?

Where will she spit out his body for others to find so that his passing can be treated with dignity?

So many questions to answer as time seems to stand still momentarily.  Randy and Bill trail behind in the cumbersome boat.  Pete is pushing himself beyond his physical capabilities.  Fred seems to have perished from an “accidental drowning” (as the weekly Clifton newspaper prints in its next edition).

Fred and Pete may well have met their match with the Little Gulch, which stands poised to render both of them as new victims on the river’s scorecard.

Randy and Bill strain to see what lies ahead.  Unbelievably, their eyes locate something or someone rising out of the water just ahead.

Hooray!  Fred is back!

The unforgiving Little Gulch has made a tactical error.  Her death grip has maneuvered Fred to a gravel bar, hidden just below the river’s violent surface.  The guys cannot believe it!

Slowly Fred gains more consciousness.  He realizes that his nightmare has finally ended, and he will live to see another sunrise.  He ungracefully stands on his feet—a bit wobbly, but slowly regaining more strength and balance.

By the same miracle, Pete is also deposited upon the same narrow gravel strip.  He is exhausted, his lungs appear to breathe no more, and he lies there silently and very still.  Fred looks down at his would-be rescuer, and he begins to weep.  His own stupidity and panic have allowed the river to take away his dear friend.

The raft approaches a standing, remorseful Fred and a motionless Pete.  Randy and Bill fear the worst for their stricken comrade while thinking that Fred’s transgressions started this terrible sequence of events in the first place.

Without warning!  Another spectacular outcome is witnessed by all.

Pete’s lungs begin to take in fresh, life-supporting air.  He sluggishly feels his exhausted body trying to recover some of its misplaced energy and strength.  He has no idea of what has happened to Fred.

Glancing up, he notices a shadow above him.  “Is that really you Fred?”

Fred kneels down and gives Pete a big hug!  He feels overjoyed to see his good pal, who risked his life to rescue him.

Rushing in, Randy and Bill beach the raft a moment later.  The disheveled boat is partly filled with water from their ordeal.  Everyone helps to bail out the remnants of the Little Gulch’s fury and to examine their possessions.

Bill finds the empty rope at the bow, which used to be securely fastened to the cold beer.  Now like an empty fish hook, the beer has been swallowed up by the thirsty river.  Much of the lunch is water-logged and will have to be thrown away.  Actually, food doesn’t sound too tasty as this particular moment.  Perhaps the steakhouse at Clifton will offer a better tasting menu.

But at least, the men are safe and together once again.  They are feeling an urge to celebrate just a little bit, but their mood will need to stay calm until they reach Clifton.  The three look at Fred with more than a morsel of disappointment and frustration.  His brazen insanity has ruined a “memorable” float trip on the Little Gulch and nearly taken two men to their graves.

From his pocket, Fred retrieves an unopened can of beer.  He hurriedly pops its top, and begins his own private celebration.  Afterall, he has survived the river’s best shot, and his heart is still ticking!  Amazing!

Pete gingerly walks towards Fred, and rips the can from his grasp.  Pouring the liquid out slowly cannot conceal Pete’s hidden anger and annoyance with Fred.  While Fred protests, Pete pays little attention.  With the empty beer can gripped in his right hand, he crushes the aluminum cylinder into Fred’s forehead.

Fred crumbles to the bottom of the raft, and Bill quickly dresses him in a life vest.  The men make haste to finish their journey without any more adventure from Fred or the Little Gulch.

Eventually, the quartet of river adventurers reaches their final destination at Clifton.  While trying to enjoy a delicious four-course dinner at the well-known steakhouse, the men feel exhausted and rather subdued.  There will be no celebration tonight!  Even Fred looks tired and rather apologetic for his actions.

As the evening’s full moon shines brightly in a cloudless sky, everyone (with the possible exception of Fred) feels that this will certainly be the only time that Fred will ever float the Little Gulch.  The worn out trio of river rats still desires to return again in the future to enjoy their friendship along with safe, adventurous fun.

Without crazy Fred . . . stirring up another day of panic on the river!

For anyone who missed my first short story, take a look at “The Flying Trash Can.”

The Flying Trash Can

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Pete arrives at Aaron Burr High School eager to kick off his teaching career.  He is a first-year teacher who is feeling more than a tad edgy as he begins teaching high school students.

His preparedness from the university is masked by his nervousness and anxiety.  Sometimes, he feels more like when he was standing in the batter’s box as a 12-year old, and he struck out with the bases loaded to end the game in defeat!  He asks himself over and over again, “Will I really make it as a teacher?”

Why the community named its high school after Aaron Burr is a bit of a mystery.  Afterall, about the only milestone ever noted about him in history is that he prevailed in a duel with Alexander Hamilton many, many years ago.

Nonetheless, Pete sets up his classroom with both apprehension and enthusiasm as he spends two days preparing it for the first day of school, which is arriving soon.  His classroom is a computer lab where he will teach students in the applications of Microsoft Office in their personal and working lives (now that is mouthful of expectations).

He sometimes wonders why he could not have been the entrepreneur behind Microsoft’s enormous success instead of Bill Gates.  Pete remains a big dreamer who hopes one day to make it to the top!

He is unaware of the challenges that are secretly waiting for him, just as a snake waits to spring upon its prey.  Being a “rookie” teacher and a bit naïve, Pete is walking into a miserable swamp instead of an honored school.  Nearly all of the teaching staff is new to Aaron Burr.  As the opening bell awaits, they may remember the maiden and ill-fated voyage of the ocean liner Titanic.

The school district, in its infinite wisdom, has provided a half-day of training on how to be “successful teachers” during the soon-to-start school year.  In reality, this much-anticipated professional development session ends up being pretty much a total waste of time.  Pete remembers a few of his boring and totally inept professors from his university days.

Perhaps Pete and the staff would be better served to use “Welcome Back, Kotter” as an orientation for what is in store for all of them.  They could watch past episodes of this iconic television series.  Learning from the shenanigans and antics of Vinnie Barbarino, Arnold Horshack, and the rest of the Gabe Kotter’s dysfunctional classroom headaches, they would be better served than recalling educational psychology in an aging textbook from their college days.

Last year’s senior class graduated less than half of its students.  Therefore, the entire school has been placed on third-degree probation by the State Education Department.  A “perfect storm” sets up the school year to be an impending disaster for Pete and his very “green” and unproven colleagues.

The opening day of school arrives without much fanfare.  Pete feels both nervous and excited—dearly wanting to jumpstart his teaching career on a positive note.  Hmm, does anyone hear a bulldozer’s engine running behind the school (ready to begin demolishing the ancient building)?  Well, maybe not quite yet!

Aaron Burr’s student body is dominated by the sub-culture from the streets outside of the school building.  Sadly, the administration can do very little to control the unruly students or maintain any type of discipline.  Pete and the newly arrived staff do not see what’s coming their way—a film, with a disaster theme, would be a more appropriate setting!

Pete’s first-period class is filled with freshmen and sophomores, with a couple of juniors thrown in because they need another failing grade.  Pete assumes (without much forethought) that his beginning class will prepare the rest of his day for even more success.  Pete looks down and suddenly realizes that his socks do not match—one black and one blue.  He feels a bead of sweat forming around the collar of his shirt.  Perhaps he should loosen up the colorful tie that hangs (too tightly) around his neck.

Reggie is one the juniors, and Pete immediately realizes that this “man-child” will be a handful to cope with.  Reggie stands nearly as tall as Shaquille O’Neill with the maturity of a middle schooler.  He aspires to play in the NBA, but no scouts will ever find his talent (or lack of it) as his GPA is a lowly 0.2.  His only passing grade was during his freshman year in Physical Education. Somehow he squeezed by with a “D-” on his final exam.

Traci and Clyde are sitting next to each other, and school is definitely not on their minds.  Clyde falls asleep at his computer—it seems that he is not quite ready for his summer vacation to end.  His preferred field of study is researching the short story written by American author, Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle.

Traci pulls a bottle of fingernail polish out from her purse.  She decides that her nails need a touch-up.  Afterall, she wants to look her best on the first day of school.  Traci seems more interested in making a good impression with some of the boys in the classroom.

The rest of Pete’s class appears to be settling down, and most seem fairly well-prepared for their return to the boisterous halls of Aaron Burr.  Pete tries to be as calm as possible, but this first day in the trenches begins to cause him to sweat even more!

Ah!  Before one forgets, Pete’s classroom . . . aka the computer lab (prison to Reggie and many others) . . . doesn’t look like a traditional classroom.  The computer lab is part of an enormous, open classroom area with four large computer labs filling the space.  There are no windows, permanent walls, or classroom doors.

The school designers wanted to set up an office-like atmosphere so that students could better assimilate into the world of work.  One wonders how many of Aaron Burr’s finest and not so fine will actually make it in the real world, much less graduate on time.

Each of the four classrooms is separated by office-like partitions.  The walls, looking more temporary than permanent, rise about seven feet.  There is ample space between each wall and the ceiling.  Pete doesn’t appreciate the room layout much, but there is little that he can do about it.  He will have to make the best of it for now.

The school’s mascot is the Ravens.  For Pete’s sake, it is very unfortunate that this blackbird cannot serve as  a lookout for him.  His adventures have only just begun!

Pete again surveys the room, and he feels a bit more comfortable.  Clyde still seems to be enjoying a pre-winter nap.  Traci is applying another color of polish to her perfectly manicured nails, and she wants to be finished before lunch.  The rest of the class is working quietly—at least it seems—on an assignment.

The classroom is only half full on this inaugural day of school at Aaron Burr.  It seems that many students are still on summer vacation—probably until after Labor Day.

Hmm . . . where is Reggie?

Reggie, who is as nutty as a fruit cake has disappeared from Pete’s sight.  Pete checks out each corner of the half-empty room, but Reggie is nowhere to be seen.

Pete now begins to feel a band of cold sweat dripping down his back, but he truly has no idea what is in store for him.  Past memories take him back to the day that he was stuck in a gigantic snow drift while driving along an abandoned highway last winter.  As he was sweating it out under his heavy, winter parka, he figured that he would never be found.  Fortunately, a helpful truck driver (Pete’s guardian angel) came along and pulled his car back onto the road.

A few minutes pass.

Pete wishes that the clock would move more swiftly so that the bell will ring to end class.  He has a planning period next, and he is seriously thinking of going home.

This teaching stuff just doesn’t sit well with him.  He wonders for a minute or two why he ever changed his major from Accounting to Business Education.  Another of life’s decisions is about ready to provide Pete with another notable experience to write about in his already overflowing journal.

The clock is slowly approaching the time to wrap up the first class of his teaching career.  Pete begins thinking that perhaps the remainder of his day will turn out better.  He is feeling a bit more relaxed and confident.  Didn’t the Titanic’s captain feel confident as the huge iceberg loomed ahead?

The room grows unusually quiet.

Then . . . Suddenly!

Bam!!

A large, heavy, cast-iron trash can hurdles the wall and lands at Pete’s feet.  The airborne projectile narrowly misses Pete’s head by a couple of inches.  The flying trash can strikes terror in Pete’s inner soul, and he feels his heartbeat racing while a torrent of sweat runs free over his entire body.  He pivots around and suddenly realizes that this day really is not going to be an outstanding experience.

Pete, standing all alone in the middle of the room, is visibly shaken and greatly disturbed.  His face has turned a ghastly white color, and his blonde hair is all amiss.  He turns to face the class, and the students are all snickering.  Many are falling out of their seats and roaring with more and more laughter.  Even Clyde wakes up and joins in with the impromptu celebration.  Traci excitedly claps her hands and smudges her still-wet nail polish.

Twisting around, Pete runs quickly out of the room, down a vacant hallway, and out the front door of the school.

Reggie slyly creeps back around the wall to rejoin the class.  His thumbs-up gesture arouses even more of a deafening thunder of applause and shouts for his exploits.  Somehow, the epic sounds have not reached the central office . . . yet!

Clyde joins Reggie at the front of the room, and they both announce their marching orders for the rest of the day—“TAKE OVER THE SCHOOL!”

Without a teacher in the room, the unruly mob leaves the computer lab and launches into a riotous journey down the hallway into the rest of Aaron Burr’s no longer quiet hallways.  Another opening day has turned into a disaster of nearly Biblical proportions.  What happens next will be anyone’s guess; just be on the lookout for Reggie, the new kingpin of the school!

An hour later, the police arrive to take charge of the disorderly student body, which resembles an unruly and disorganized mob.  Meanwhile, the administration has been hiding in their offices, and the teaching staff finds refuge down in the school’s boiler room in the basement.

The bell rings to dismiss school for the day, but Pete is missing permanently.  Thoroughly shaken, he never returns to Aaron Burr.

As the curtain closes on Aaron Burr High School (this will be its final, unforgettable school year), the wrecking ball will finally arrive to turn the property into a parking lot and city park.  Many citizens around the community curiously wonder whatever happened to Pete, the novice teacher who dashed away.

Rumor has it that he is now the Principal at Alexander Hamilton High School in a distant city.  According to an inside source, all classrooms have permanent walls and include lightweight, plastic trash cans.