Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Where'd You Come Up With That?! Wednesdays "Viral Smiles"

The short story "Viral Smiles" is about a young lady who reads an article about how contagious smiles can be, so she decides to put that theory to the test. The results of her experiment are not what she expects. Her entire day goes horribly wrong, which makes for a humorous read. 

I come up with this story after the big swine flu outbreak in 2009. I read how some people just seem to have immunity to certain viruses. My daughter is actually one of them. She is almost 21 years old and has been exposed to chicken pox several times during her childhood and never got them. So, it seems that there are always some people who just don't get certain viruses. 

This is what started my imagination stirring. Maybe smiles are contagious and maybe they're not. It all depends on the person you're trying to infect. And for pessimistic people, smiles don't seem to change their attitude at all. 

Here's an excerpt:

Smiles, according to an article I read entitle, Viral Smiles, smiling is supposed to be contagious. A smile sends out little contagions that attack a grouch and infect them with happiness and understanding, at least in theory, but I have to disagree after putting that theory to a test.
It all started on a beautiful Friday morning. The sun was glowing orange against a clear sky. The birds outside were singing and the tree limbs were waving as if inviting me to come out and enjoy the day. The view outside my window was lovely, until I saw Mr. Grammar, the neighborhood grouch. He always wore the same gray wool sweater over a white wife-beater shirt. And ironically, his nose hairs were the same dusty gray as his sweater. His scalp was dotted with age spots that dodged a white hair here and there, and I argued with him daily about his scruffy little poodle leaving presents in my yard. If I didn’t complain, he’d never pick up the dog’s pooh.
I decided to try infecting him with a lethal dose of viral smile. On my way out to the car, I checked to make sure my front door was locked securely before turning toward the steps. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mr. Grammar watching me. I walked down the steps to the driveway before I saw it. A tiny turd lay by my car. I waved at Mr. Grammar, “Hello, nice morning, isn’t it?” I proceeded to bend down, tissue in hand, and remove the brown squiggle without complaint.
The old grouch lumber up to me. “What are you going to do with that?”
I stretched my lips back into a cheerful smile. “I’m going to throw it right over there in the trashcans.”
“You don’t fool me, Miss. You’re up to something.” He snatched the little poop from my hand. “Give me that.” As he walked away he mumbled, “I know a mischievous smile when I see one, that girl’s up to something.”
 I stood stunned for a moment before getting into the car. On the drive to work the more I thought about his behavior, the angrier I got. What did he think I was going to do with dog feces?  Does he own the poodle that secretes golden turds?  I was fuming by the time I got to work, but I decided to take a few deep breaths and enjoy the rest of the day.

"Viral Smiles" was first published in The Other Herald in the April 2011 Volume 5, Issue 2. 

You can read in now in Flashes of Fiction: Volume 1.  

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Classic Movie Mondays--Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?

Where do I start with Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? First, it stars Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and George Segal (from the sitcom Just Shoot Me!).

The first thing I noticed was that Elizabeth Taylor didn't look like her usual glamorous self in this picture. And second, she does a great impression of Bette Davis at the beginning of the film. I loved it!  Here are clips of Taylor's parody and the actual clip of Davis from Beyond the Forest courtesy of  YouTube.

So, what's it about. Well if you haven't seen it, an older couple, George and Martha, invite a young couple over  early one Saturday morning after a party. And let's just say things get weird. While I was watching I keep thinking if I was invited to their house, I would have come up with an excuse to leave. But later I found out that the younger couple, Nick and Honey, are pretty darn crazy, too.

Images courtesy of
In my opinion, it's a really strange movie, but as the secrets of both couples slowly start to leak out,  I couldn't stop watching it. The bickering between them all and strange behavior kept me hooked. And in some ways I felt sorry for all them at some point, especially for George and Martha when I learned that their son was not real. They were so desperate to have a son that they made him up. 

I know the title has some significance to the play that become a movie, but the real hook is watching the train wreck of lives taking place on the screen.

Elizabeth Taylor was very good in the movie and it was interesting. There were also some funny parts, but I don't think it's one I'd watch again. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Classic Movie Monday--Tomorrow Is Forever

Tomorrow Is Forever stars Orson Wells, Claudette Colbert, and George Bent. The movie is about a married couple, Elizabeth McDonald (Colbert) and her husband John (Wells) who are separated when the husband goes off to war. But he promises her he won't be in combat and he'll return. 

Before John's expected return, Elizabeth receives a telegram that John has been killed. He hasn't. He's in an Austrian hospital begging the doctors to let him die, but the doctor refuses. John lives, but he is disfigured and disabled. No one knows he is, so he sort of adopts another identity. I think injuries cause him to lose his mind in a way and his memories.

Actor George Bent plays Larry Hamilton, a guy who has loved Elizabeth from afar. After John dies, Larry takes Elizabeth in and cares of her and her unborn child. After the child is born, they marry. And even though the child (Drew) is John's, Larry raises him as his own. 

Cut to 20 years in the future, John aka Erich Kessler returns to work for Larry as a chemist.He has a young girl with him. He is caring for because her parents were killed by the Nazis.  The story really picks up when John is invited to Larry's home and he sees Elizabeth. 

Okay, it's at this point that you can tell that John recognizes and remembers Elizabeth, but she doesn't seem to react to John.  This is where I'm sitting on the coach saying, "Don't you recognize your own husband!" I know it's 20 years and she thinks he's dead, but I would think you'd at least think, "Hey, this guy looks  a lot like my dead husband."

Elizabeth does finally start to realize who he is, but not before he makes several visits to her home and meets his son. 

During the movie, John does remember things, like their old home, Elizabeth and you can tell he knows that Drew is his son. 

But there is a conflict between Elizabeth and John because Drew wants to join the fight in WW II against the Nazis. John seems to encourage it while Elizabeth doesn't want to lose another loved one to war. Drew even tries to sneak away and enlist, but John goes after him and brings him back home. 

Photo courtesy of
My favorite part of the movie is when John brings Drew home to Elizabeth. Then is when she confronts John about his identity. He won't admit to being the man she once loved, but he does tell her that even if he was, they can't go back to what once was. She has to let go of the past. What she has now is good and she shouldn't ruin it by chasing what one was or what might have been. 

I get the feeling that it is difficult for John to remain silent about his true identity, but he does it because it's what's best for Elizabeth and Drew. 

I think that scene could have been a good ending to the movie, but it doesn't end there. Maybe because it might have left some unanswered questions. 

John's death at the end did bring closure, and we did see the note that proved he knew who he was, but it was a tear jerker for sure.

Overall, it is a good move, and one I'd watch again. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Anyone Else Out There...

Image courtesy of

Who absolutely loves old black and white movies?

I just love them. I watch classic movies whenever I get the chance. I even stay up later than I should to watch a good movie coming on TCM. Some I've watched over and over again. 

These old movies used lighting, direction, talented actors and intriguing plots instead of gore, profanity, and special effects to attract an audience. 

And how could anyone resist a movie with  Bette Davis, Joan Fontaine, Orson Wells, Cary Grant, Cary Cooper, Barbra Stanwick, Shirley Temple and all the other greats? 

If you love the oldies, join me here for Classic Movie Mondays each week and talk about the old greats. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Where'd You Come Up With That?! Wednesdays "The Weed Whisperer"

"The Weed Whisperer" is a short story about a man, Simon Parker, with a prickly, weedy secret. 

Simon is a gardening guru. Weeds never dare to grow in his garden or flowerbeds, but Simon learns that weeds will attack if provoked. 

I actually thought of this story while pulling weeds in my own garden. Wouldn't it be nice to keep weeds out for good? I thought. It seems like no matter what I do, they always come right back and bring their friends!

So, with that in mind and the fact that people do talk to their plants, I came up with The Weed Whisperer. A man with a secret that has been passed down through generations about how to deal with weeds. And it worked for him for years, until a young couple bought the property behind his. 

Here's an excerpt: 

Simon Parker kept the most beautifully tended gardens in all of Jamestown. It was as if weeds were afraid to enter his humble grounds. Simon refused to tell anyone his secrets and became known around the neighborhood as a gardening guru. The town’s admiration of Simon and his  magnificent  grounds  would  have  changed  if  they only knew  his secret.

Simon had built a privacy fence around his entire yard. Neighbors failed to see a portion of his property behind the fence in his backyard. There were no houses behind Simon’s place, only a wooded area, so the neighbors had no idea his yard extended past the fence. This was where his green, prickly secret hid. Directly behind the fence and extending to the edge of the wooded area lay Simon’s ultimate disgrace. Weeds of all varieties grew rampantly. Crabgrass stretched the entire length of the area, poison ivy twisted and climbed and yellow dandelion heads poked up between the cloverleaves.

Simon’s secret remained hidden until the day a young couple, Bill and Susie Danforth, decided to buy the wooded area behind his home. The couple came to Simon one warm summer morning to request he kill the patch of weeds growing behind the fence.

Simon looked the young man in the eyes and said, I’m sorry, cant do that.”

Sir, were building a new house, we don’t want to look out our lovely bay window and see your ugly weed patch.

Simon shook his head. That weed patch is not even on my property.”

Bill pulled out a map. Look, your fence is not even on the property line.” He pointed out the difference in distance. You can move your fence back a good six yards, and then you can keep weeds on your side.Simon looked over the map. He knew his property line extended beyond the fence, but he had his reasons for it. I see what you mean, young man. Simon scratched this prickly chin. I will see what I cado.”

Bill offered his hand. Thank you, sir. And by the way, you have lovely gardens. You’ll have to give Susie some tips.”

Simon glanced at the fence. I don’t give away my secrets.” Simon lumbered up to his house and went inside. He climbed the stairs to the attic and took out the book of gardening secrets that had been handed down through generations of the Parker family. Let’s see, how do I reason with these earth loving creatures? He thumbed through page after page describing the personality of each weed. Ah, yes, we have something. He scrunched his nose and squinted, trying to read the worn passage. Ground ivy is the most rational of the weeds. If a problem arises, explain the problem to the ivy and ask them to help in reasoning with the other species.” Simon placed the book back in its hiding place. That was the answer, after dinner, he would go visit the weed patch and find the ground ivy.

You can read "The Weed Whisperer" in Flashes of Fiction: Volume 3
You can also listen with Audible and iTunes.

Happy Reading! (And Listening!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Where'd You Come Up With That?! Wednesdays "The Crayon Box"

The Crayon Box is a very short horror story about a little boy who looks innocent, but he's not. He's evil. 

I wrote this story for a flash fiction contest on One of the words to use in the prompt was crayon box, so I tried to think a little outside the (crayon) box. Kids are usually what comes to mind when I think of crayons, and so does just about everyone I'd guess. But not everyone thinks of a little boy who uses his crayons to illustrate his victims. Do they?

Why no! So that's where I took it--to the dark side. I also wrote it in second person because I had recently read a story that Ray Bradbury wrote in second person,"The Night," and I loved it. So, I tried it. 

Anyway, it won the contest, and you can find it now at MicroHorror.

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Flashes of Fiction: Volume 5 Excerpt "Time"

Enjoy this excerpt from the short story "Time" from Flashes of Fiction: Volume 5

When I was young and naive, I saw myself as indestructible. I didn’t count every minute. I wasted precious moments every day without realizing that once they were gone, there was no going back.
Why was I so naive to think it was a good idea to know the age I would die? It’d been hell watching the years fly by taking me closer to the end. My brother Tom warned me not to play with the Ouija board. Convincing myself it was just a harmless game, I sat there on the last day of my life thinking back to that night, wishing I could change the past— wishing I didn’t know my fate.
I was fifteen, and it was Halloween. The guys and I were too old for trick-or-treat, so we came up with the bright idea of summoning a spirit through that wicked board. It was a unanimous vote to ask the spirit how long each of us would live. Placing our fingers on the planchette, it began to move around the board. I remember the words yes and no in the top corner, the alphabet written in two rows in the middle, and a row of numbers beneath them.
Jim went first. “At what age will I die?” The planchette glided across the board, showing us the number one and nine.
I was next. “What age will I be when I die?” The spirit moved our fingers to the number two and nine.
I remember thinking our little game was ridiculous. We all laughed as each took their turn. Ron would die at twenty-five, and Leon at forty.
The next few years, I never gave the board another thought, until Jim was in a car accident and died at the age of nineteen. I told myself it was a coincidence. An eerie one, but it didn’t prove anything.
Then Ron died at twenty-five. He committed suicide, probably because of all the strange voices he heard in his head. Tom told me that once you got involved with the demon spirits, not even God Himself could save your soul. That’s what he believed happened to Ron; he was possessed by demons.

So, on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, I waited. I didn't know how I would die, only that by midnight my soul would be taken. I wrote goodbye letters to my son, my ex-wife, and Tom, the three most important people in my life.

Read the rest in FOF Volume 5!

Happy Reading!