BLOGS and SHORT STORIES

“THE LESSON”

The silence in the classroom spoke volumes as students sat in their seats, stunned by the display of two jocks tormenting the ‘nerd’ who attempted to make his presentation. Most hated the juvenile behavior of the steroid-enhanced muscle heads, but no one did anything to stop it. Instead, they waited for the instructor to return to the classroom and hoped this time he would have the courage to kick the reprobates out of the class.

Such antics were expected and considered amusing in middle school and even high school; not so in the junior year of a respected academic university. A few rotten apples spoil the entire barrel and, in this case, the barrel was a nationally ranked football team and the jerks involved represented two-thirds of the starting backfield. Even if the instructor wanted to stop it, he couldn’t. His hands were tied as the coaches, the athletic department, and the university administration would not allow disciplinary action to interfere with a potentially national championship.

Christopher Langston stepped into the classroom and a quick glance encompassed all he needed to know. He moved quickly to the podium and, ignoring the two instigators who towered over him, he took the arm of the shaken presenter and led him out of the classroom. He spoke gently to the gifted student, giving the boy time to regain his composure before directing him to wait in the library.

“Alex, we’ve talked about those clowns and others like them many times. They harass you out of fear. They are aware they have maybe two years left in the limelight before joining the ranks of the unnoticed for the rest of their lives. Worse yet, they fear that you or someone like you will be in control of their remaining days.”

Alex covered his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt, blotting away tears before he spoke. “That may be true, Mr. Langston, but it does little to ease my humiliation at the moment. They need to be taught a lesson. To know how it feels to experience helplessness in front of your peers. Everything goes right for them. The hero worship from the younger set, the adoration of the prettiest girls and plenty of cash slipped to them by football worshipers, many who never attended a single class on this campus. What chance do I have to defend myself against all that?”

“Life is a lesson in itself, Alex. On the first day in my class were you aware of the lesson plan for that day or for the days to follow?”

“No, sir.”

“Then let fate take care of things. Just as you adapted to the changing lesson plans, learn to adapt to life as well. You can’t predict what will come about to put a different spin on things.”

***

The next day Alex was conspicuously absent from the class. At the end of the session, Mr. Langston directed Jim and Scott, the offending players, to remain for a moment. After the other students left, Langston took on a totally different demeanor.

“Hey, seems I missed the show a couple of days ago. I heard you guys were really funny and made Alex look like a jackass.”

Jim flashed a smile at Scott. “It’s easy to make a jackass out of nerds. They don’t have the balls to stand up for themselves.”

“Hey, I’m not knocking it. Got to have a little fun along the way. It’s too bad you even have to attend class. Some schools aren’t as tight on the rules as ours. You may not know the history, but our beloved university has been burned before and the administration watches attendance very carefully. That doesn’t mean you have to study all that hard to get an A in the class. Just make sure you show up. I’m in pretty tight with the coach and he knows I’ll take care of his boys.”

Scott bumped shoulders with Jim. “Mr. Langston, you the man. I thought you were different.”

“It takes a while to get to know your students. Young instructors, like me, don’t have tenure and we have to be careful. I’m not a lot older than you guys and I still like to have fun. I’ve got a condo down by the river and I’d like for you to stop by sometime. I’m sure you guys aren’t into any kind of bad stuff, but something might be there to strike your fancy. Some of the young ladies in class aren’t on athletic scholarships and have to earn their grades in other ways. Get my meaning?”

The two jocks smiled when they swapped fist bumps. “Any special days?” quizzed Jim.

“Hell no. Your schedule is tighter than mine. Drop by after practice sometime. I know you don’t spend your evenings studying.”

***

The first several encounters at Langston’s place proved stiff; all parties feeling out each other. After Jim and Scott scored with a couple of cuties, they arrived as early as they could after practice. It didn’t take a lot of encouragement from the girls present to loosen up and have a few drinks. Alex had made it clear that no drugs would be available. He couldn’t afford to get the star players in trouble with the coaching staff. The more they came to trust him the easier the liquor flowed.

Langston encouraged the jocks to mix their own drinks. He advised them to be careful when they went to fraternity parties to make sure someone didn’t spike their drinks. Disarmed, they were easy prey when he added enough Rohypnol to one of the mixes to sedate a horse. When they awakened nude the next morning in the backseat of Jim’s Toyota Camry, neither could remember how they got there nor remember the photographer who took at least twenty pictures.

Puzzled, they skipped classes the next day and remained out of sight until time for practice. Greeting them at the entrance to the athletic facility was a giant blowup of one of the pictures taken the night before in the car. Beneath the picture was the caption: OUR STAR QUARTERBACK  AND RUNNING BACK PLAY GAMES OFF THE FIELD.

Langston excused himself from the class the following Monday and left Alex in charge to present the lesson for the day. Things went smoothly and the classroom appeared as usual except for two vacant desks at the back of the room.

THE END


 

“THE HAIRCUT”

What can I say? The boy is three years old and has hair longer than his older sister. Ringlets sprouting from his head are so thick and heavy, the curls hang down to his shoulders. Something must be done.

Since the combined thought of scissors and her baby made my wife emotionally unstable, the mantle fell on me. First time since his birth, I wished he belonged to someone else.

Getting him in the car is a cinch. While attaching enough car seat straps and buckles to safely send my son to the moon, my right ear (the closest to my wife) is constantly bombarded by shouted instructions by her.

“Be sure and save ALL his hair, and not from the floor. That could be anybody’s hair. Make sure the barber traps it on the apron. Don’t let the barber cut off too much.”

“How much is too much?” I asked this question in jest since I already anticipated the harangue I would experience when I got home. If I drove him around town for an hour and never went to the barbershop, I still would catch hell for allowing ‘our boy’ to be scalped. Didn’t she know that women are allowed in as well as men? Actually, she didn’t hear my question as her heavy sobs prevented conversation.

My little man always enjoyed car rides, so this day wasn’t any different. He squealed with glee the entire trip and once we reached our destination, he took my hand and bounded up the steps into the shop. Fascinated by the mirrors in front and back of the chairs, his giggles continued when I placed him in the revolving chair and he burst into laughter when the barber pumped up the hydraulic chair to a level where their eyes met. There was a brief break in my son’s joviality when the large apron covered his tiny body and the collar fastened to his neck. The tiny frown became a smile again when he became fascinated by his reflection in the surrounding mirrors.

THEN…the barber turned on the clippers. The boy’s short legs shot straight out and he stood upright in the chair. His arms whirled like horizontal blades cutting me and the unsuspecting barber down like ripened hay. Undeterred, the barber leapt to his feet, grabbed the top of my son’s head and the fur (hair) began to fly. After a few strokes with the electric gadget, I could see the left ear. Thankfully it was still attached to the side of his head and not on the floor.

A maddening shriek pierced the air! The barber lost his grip and I lost my nerve. The boy rocketed out of the chair and bounded around the room like a shroud-covered monkey.

“I can’t take this job anymore,” cried the hysterical barber.

By this time, I was crying as well. “Well, I can’t take him home like this!”

On one of the circuitous trips around the room my son passed by the chair and I dropped him with a NFL quality clothesline tackle and covered his writhing body with mine.

The barber piled on and made several whacks with the clippers. With several passes he severed long locks of hair, and on two occasions took chunks of flesh from my arms.

Finally he stood and announced, “I am through!”

I removed the apron from my son and stood him in the chair. Both ears remained on the sides of his head and appeared unharmed. I couldn’t say the same about his scalp. Areas of exposed pink flesh peeked through remnants of curls.

I reached for my wallet, but the barber waved me off. He handed me a plastic bag of blond curls. “No charge if you promise to never bring him here again.”

When we reached our house, I handed my son the bag, opened the car door for him and pointed him in the direction of the hysterical woman standing at the edge of the driveway with something resembling a long iron bar in her hand.

I quickly retreated and drove to my brother’s house.

Two days later, my wife allowed me to return home.

When my son got his second haircut, he drove himself to the barber.

THE END


 

JERRY ALLEN

Jerry Allen is one of those guys who is intelligent, handsome (not in a rugged way), witty and attracts women who possess a maternal instinct. Courteous to a fault, he is insecure around strong women thus is drawn to Linda Baldwin, a quiet, dependent type from an upper middle-class family. She is spoiled, always pampered by her parents and a good match for Jerry as she never challenges him.

A follower rather than a leader, Jerry is shocked out of his comfort zone when fate makes him the protector of two women while lost in the wilds of the Smoky Mountains and pursued by a psychopath. Can Jerry measure up to the task?

 


 

FROM WITHIN ONESELF

 

Let me introduce my new website by presenting Linda Baldwin, a key character in my latest book Trail of Deceit.

Linda, a sweet southern debutante, is a go-along girl. Intelligent and beautiful, she is well acquainted with things usually going her way. When college friends challenge her to join them on a week long trek along the Appalachian Trail, she agrees.

Faced with primitive conditions on the trail, she soon learns she’s in over her head. One thing drives her on: reveal no weakness to Diane, her so called friend who is after Jerry (Linda’s boyfriend).

When a madman attacks them on the trail for no ‘apparent’ reason, the four students find themselves in a battle for their lives.

An accident separates Linda from the others and she is discovered and taken by the psychopath. To survive, she searches within herself for the mental and emotional strength it will take to outwit her capturer. What she discovers astounds both of them.

Meet Linda for yourself and find out the fate of the others. Trail of Deceit is now available. Published by Limitless Publishing  www.limitlesspublishing.com

Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency www.loiaconoliteraryagency.com

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Where do I get my ideas for a story?

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A question I’ve been asked before in regards to So Shall You Reap and Choices, but never as much as I’ve been asked for Trail of Deceit.

Trail of Deceit

Readers are curious if I’ve experienced trauma or witnessed trauma on the Trail. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Days and nights spent on feeder trails in the North Georgia Mountains and Western North Carolina were like a piece of heaven. Scenes so picturesque and so peaceful, camera shots couldn’t do them justice.

My friend, Wayne Wier (Tall Guy in my book) and I used our time in the mountains to unwind from stressful occupations. We didn’t hunt or fish. We hiked different trails to experience the stress busting fatigue on switchbacks up and down the mountains, interspersed with lazy hikes following the Chattooga River.

On the majority of our trips we didn’t see another person, and then those were people rafting down the Chattooga. Most of the trails were like our private domain.

Wayne and I both love to read and after a morning of exploring we would settle down by a fire or sit on rocks in the river and lose ourselves in a good mystery or thriller.

Wayne is extremely knowledgeable of the wilderness and often I picked his brain regarding variations of trees, brush, flowers and berries. He recognized much of the flora and pointed out plants useful for medicinal purposes and others that were edible. Thankfully I never was ill or hungry enough to test his knowledge.

You don’t have to be a thru-hiker to enjoy the Appalachian Trail. The internet is a great source of information for starting and stopping points on the AT or on smaller feeder trails. Using maps you can mark out a loop so you end up where you started and only need one vehicle.

Get proper equipment and clothes, plan for the weather, pack light, and until you are comfortable with the area, check in with the local Ranger and inform him where you plan to be and how long you plan to stay.

Most of all enjoy nature and be kind. Pack out your trash along with wonderful memories.

In my next installment, I’ll cover what prompted me to write So Shall You Reap.

Until then, read, read, read.