El Camino Real

My prompt for Week 27 at More Odds Than Ends came from Leigh Kimmel: The song “Sausalito Summer Nights” by Diesel is the story of a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The Wikipedia article mentions that Sausilito is north of San Francisco, in a context that implies that the songwriter mislocated it as being south of San Francisco. In fact, the lyrics clearly mention crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to get into San Francisco. Why does the narrator of the song go east around the Bay to get to San Francisco instead of heading north on El Camino Real? Visiting a friend in Marin County on the way? Wanting to avoid the possibility of getting stuck in Silicon Valley traffic with a car prone to overheating? Some other reason? Tell me the story.

Just reading the prompt sent me back in time to the hundreds of times I’d made the drive from LA to SF in all sorts of weather and at all times of the year (including the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week…never again!). Single file over the Grapevine in a blinding snowstorm guided by the flashing lights of the CHP car leading our convoy. Bright sunny days that led to stops at Fort Tejon at the top of the pass. Flying down the north side of the pass and gaping at a truck in the emergency stop gravel hill. Getting stuck in Los Banos because my engine froze due to lack of oil (there was a leak) and spending four hours in the Burger King waiting for my friends’ mom to drive down from Sacramento and pick us up so we could get back to LA. Telling my dad that I left an hour or so earlier than I did because I didn’t want to get lectured on driving too fast. I think that drive up I-5 is a rite of passage for every California driver.

I had to look up the lyrics to the song and sure enough, it mentions trouble on the Grapevine and implies taking the long way around to get to San Francisco. Combining my memories of the route and the lyrics, I give you this:


El Camino Real

“But, it’s the El Camino Real! The Royal Road! Don’t you want to travel the royal road?”

“No, it’s 101 and it’s not nearly as interesting as you think. We’ll go up 5 and then over to 580 and across the Richmond bridge. That will give us a straight shot to Stinson Beach without having to go through the City.” Like a lot of locals, Brian capitalized the word “city” when he was speaking about San Francisco.

He knew he was getting overly snippy with Madison, but he was the one doing all the driving and he sure as hell didn’t want to get stuck in that Silicon Valley rush hour traffic. It would add at least two to three hours to the trip. And, then going through San Francisco…the stuff of nightmares traffic-wise.

“Well, I think you’re cheating me out of the wonders of California. This is my first trip and all I’ve seen is Disneyland and the interstate,” Madison pouted.

Brian sighed and made sure his tone was softer. “Not exactly accurate, but I know, babe. But if we do it this way now, when we leave Stinson Beach, we can go back through Sausalito and then over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco.” She was right. He was returning home, but this was her first trip to California, and he had promised to show her as much of the state as they could afford in terms of both time and money.

They had flown into Los Angeles and spent a few days there going to Disneyland, Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevard. This morning they had pointed the rental car north and headed up to the Bay Area. There was a brief issue with the radiator on the Grapevine but since that was a common problem on that stretch of highway there were water stops about every quarter mile, thus easily fixed.

Brian wanted to show Madison something other than the primary tourist spots of LA and San Francisco, so he’d decided they would spend a couple of days in Stinson Beach and then go into San Francisco, hence his roundabout route and leaving the “Royal Road.”

“Besides,” he went on, “we can spend a night in Sausalito this way and you can sing that song you like so much while we stand on the ferry dock and look at the lights of San Francisco.” She did smile at that.

Madison would get her Camino Real on the way back to LA. Brian planned on taking Route 1 down the coast over the course of two days. He was going to pop the question on the beach in Cambria. He had made reservations at a B&B and planned for a wine-tasting as well.

He reached over and squeezed her hand.

She squeezed back. “I love you, too,” she smiled. “And I trust you on your choice of routes,” she gave him a haughty look and a wave that was meant to convey royal privilege.

He laughed. “I love you! And, thank you so much for your trust milady!”


Fiona Grey got the prompt I sent in: Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, decides she’s done playing coy and lets a boat full of tourists see her. How does that end? and she did a very cool piece with it. Head on over and check it out!

Thanks for reading and please join us over at More Odds than Ends. We’re a bit crazy and silly, but a lot of fun as well!


This is Week 26 for Odd Prompts from More Odds than Ends. This week I was given: A visceral memory (yours or fictional as you prefer), brought to mind by a scent, taste, song, etc. from Fiona Grey. My prompt was, The noise woke me up. I looked out the bedroom window to see two fully armored knights rolling a stone into my back yard. The stone had a sword protruding from one side. What is going on? and it went to Leigh Kimmel. Head over to both of their places to see what they’ve done with current and past prompts.

This rattled around in my head for a few days and finally came out as part of the next installment of what I’m provisionally calling Cursebreaker. This is the first time I’ve managed to make one piece follow directly from a previous piece. Previously I wrote them in a sort of chronological order, but not one directly after the other. I’m working on putting the pieces together into a coherent whole. So, to that end, I present the next part in the life of Jack McKnight, Cursebreaker.

Previous installments can be found here. Our protagonist has just freed his brother-in-law and family from the confines of a figurine.


Monica hugged Rob hard before reaching for her sister-in-law and niece. After Monica moved on, Jack and Rob exchanged a long stare.

Jack finally spoke. “I’ll get you…us…a drink. Let’s sit down and figure out what happened.”

Rob nodded. He looked over at the cluster of his young daughter, two dogs, his wife, and his sister. “Yeah. They seem to be handling things. You got any whiskey?” he turned to Jack.

“You know it.” Jack pointed at the couch. “Sit. I’ll get it.” He walked over to the small liquor cabinet in the corner of the living room, grabbed two low ball glasses and the bottle of good Scottish whiskey he kept for special occasions. Or, as in this case, emergencies. He was pretty sure Rob would want it neat. He certainly did.

Walking back to the sofa, Jack glanced over at Monica and the others. Bruno was hovering over Sophie, seemingly reluctant to let her get too far away, while Ralphie lay in Julia’s arms occasionally reaching up to lick her chin. Sophie sat on the floor and leaned against Bruno. Monica and Julia were deep in conversation.

Jack handed Rob his glass and sat down in the chair next to the sofa. Rob raised his glass to his face and inhaled the peaty aroma of the whiskey. He smiled.

“This takes me right back to when we all went to Scotland, what, ten? twelve? years ago. Monica and Julia were shopping, and you and I bought a bottle of this, and headed out of town to one of those old seventeenth century bridges over the river and drank half the bottle. I can feel the stones under my hands, the sun on my head. That was a great day.” He took a sip and smiled.

“Yeah, we got lucky with the sunshine. Remember it rained almost the whole time we were there. But it was still a great trip,” Jack raised his glass in a salute to his brother-in-law and took a sip himself.

Jack let the smokey liquid slide down his throat before looking up at Rob. “Dude. What the hell happened? Who cursed you and why did they curse Julia and Sophie too?”

Rob took a deep breath and let it out. He followed that with another sip of whiskey. “It was two witches, Camilia Sharpe and Armina Grove. I had asked them to help me strengthen my working circle. Witches have a stronger connection to the elements than sorcerers do, and I figured if they helped me repair the circle, the combination of magic would make it stronger. We had a contract, and yes, I read it over very carefully. I know I didn’t breach any part of it. But about a week later the two of them showed back up claiming I had broken the contract. Before I could say anything, they cursed the whole family. The last thing I remember is seeing one of them holding up that stupid figurine. Next thing I know, we’re standing here.” He paused. Another sip. He looked up at Jack. “That’s all I got. How did we get here?”

Jack mirrored Rob’s pull on the glass of whiskey. “Bruno and Ralphie brought you. I should tell you, you are the fifth or sixth magic worker cursed into a doll and brought over by their dog that I’ve seen in about three weeks. What the hell are you guys doing? Is this a new trend or something? Or is somebody out to get rid of magic workers?”

Rob sighed and stared into his glass. “I wish I knew. There were a couple of rumors, but I didn’t pay much attention to them. You know how clique-ish the magic community is…”

“Tell me about it,” Jack responded. He tried to keep the bitterness out of his voice. Freelance curse-breakers like him were treated like a necessary evil. Not seen as true magic workers, even though they were the ones who got to undo all the b.s. curses that magic workers tended to throw around. He took a deep breath and willed himself to calm down. Rob wasn’t like that. This wasn’t his fault. A wet nose pushed into his hand and Captain nudged him until Jack was forced to pat the big German shepherd on the head. He smiled and delivered the requested ear scratches, feeling better immediately.

He smiled at Rob. “Yeah, you guys are worse than high school. Let me go get my notes from the others and let’s see what we can put together.”

Rob nodded and tossed back the last of the whiskey. Before he went into his office to gather his notes, Jack grabbed the bottle and put it on the coffee table in front of Rob.


Thanks for reading! If you’d like to join in our Odd fun, just head on over to More Odds Than Ends. The instructions are posted right there and the one rule is to have fun!

Image by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay

Big Changes

I resigned my faculty position at the end of May. Today, I finished cleaning out my office. Walking out of the building today, I got a little verklempt and teared up. I’ve joked that this is the end of an era, but it really is. My senior year of high school we were asked to write down where we saw ourselves in ten years. I wrote (which I rediscovered at my 10-year reunion) that I would have a PhD in political science and be teaching at a university. At that point, (my ten year reunion) I had just started my MA program. Four years later (took me three to finish the MA while working full-time, and then I took a year to apply to PhD programs) I started my PhD. I finished that and started teaching full-time in 2000. I went through two visiting positions before I landed the tenure-track position. Got tenure, and now I’ve resigned. Twenty years of teaching, 17 at the same place. All told, this job was my goal for 40 years!

It really is the end of an era and it’s the end of what I thought was my dream career. I love teaching, I really do. So, I know that will be a big loss, but one I am prepared for. I like research, but I found that I don’t like being pressured to do research on someone else’s time line. I also don’t like having to “stay in my lane” research-wise. Meaning, I like branching out and wandering through different areas. But, that is not the academic way. Small loss. Generally, I despise committee work (the “service” part of the trifecta of research, teaching, service requirements), so no loss there.

Two years ago, I had a sabbatical in the spring semester. I started out going full-bore into a new research project that looked really interesting (I still think it is, and I think there’s something to my thesis), but after a strong start, I basically lost interest in pursuing the necessary background research. I started reading lots and lots of fiction…urban fantasy, swords and sorcery. All the things I have always loved reading since I was a little kid (starting with the color fairy tale books…Red Books of Fairy Tales, Yellow Book…) And, I started wondering if I could write a story myself. So, I started. That first draft was horrific. Really bad. But, I was hooked. I read “how-to” books, how to describe, how to create characters and character arcs, how to reveal necessary background information and on and on. I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote.

I finally had a version that I felt confident sending out to beta readers. I got positive feedback, incorporated the suggested changes…and voila! I uploaded it to Amazon the other day. I was so excited I was vibrating. I’m still jittery. I’ve published non-fiction in academic journals, and that was pretty cool. But this is different. This is a part of me out there. It’s very exposing, but a hell of a lot of fun! As I said in the previous post, there are a number of people I owe a huge debt of gratitude to. Both for the writing advice and the encouragement to just write. The outpouring of support from my friends when I announced that the book was live on Amazon has been amazing as well.

My author page on Amazon says that I consider myself to be a “recovering faculty member” and that is true. I quit a job I couldn’t get fired from and I feel like I broke out of prison. It’s crazy. Scary, too. I’ve jumped…this has to work! And, I have every confidence it will.

Today is our wedding anniversary, so I took the day off. Plus I’ve been told (and experienced in the academic side of things) that it’s a very good idea to reward oneself for a job completed. Monday, I will get back to plotting the next book in the series.

So, here’s to changes big and small. Go out and make those changes that appeal to you. Have a great weekend!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Odd Prompts – Week 24

It’s been a busy and somewhat chaotic week to ten days. I missed last week’s prompt for a variety of reasons, and almost missed this week’s (here I am Tuesday morning writing it. Last week I started cleaning out my office at work. We’ll finish that up on Friday. Seventeen years at this university. Twenty years as a faculty member. Definitely the end of an era for me. But, Having mostly shed the office, my last physical tie to the university, I finally feel like I can give my full attention to writing. It’s a relief and nervous-making. No more excuses. All the time in the world to write. So, write!

Since I missed last week altogether, I didn’t get a prompt assigned to me. So, for this week’s prompt, Week 24 at More Odds Than Ends, I used a spare: In the back seat of the bus, there was a huddled pile of clothing. Then it moved… This led me back to Jack McKnight and the string of dolls and dogs that keeps showing up at his house. Who is cursing these people, magic workers, into all these dolls and why? What is the connection between these individuals? Why does every doll come with a dog? I have no more clue than Jack does. I’ll be sitting down today and tomorrow to try to figure it out. In the meantime, it taking the bus can bring interesting adventures and maybe one was meant to take the bus that day:


Jack grimaced as he moved toward the back of the bus. There was a reason he didn’t like public transportation. Too many people treated the buses they were meant to be destroyed. Seriously. A pile of clothing on the back seat? Who the hell leaves clothing on a bus?

He shuffled back trying to make room for the people crowding on behind him. Not only public transportation, but public transportation at rush hour. The fun just never ended. He was mildly grateful that there was an empty seat, even if it was next to the pile of abandoned clothing. Truthfully, it was probably available because it was next to the pile of clothing. He had a long ride ahead of him and a seat, even a less than desirable one, made it a bit more bearable. He sat back and pulled his book out of his backpack.

A small movement at the edge of his peripheral vision caught his attention. Did the pile just move? Jack glanced around at the other passengers. Nobody seemed to have noticed. Or, more likely, they were purposefully ignoring the pile.

The last few weeks had involved a series of cursed dolls showing up at his office, so Jack didn’t put anything past the universe these days. He turned to look at the pile. Yep. Did it again. Shit. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and gingerly picked up the piece of clothing closest to him and pulled it back. A small black nose poked out of the pile followed by a pair of dark brown eyes and the rest of the small Jack Russel terrier. The dog gazed soulfully at Jack and whined softly. Oh, for…Jack picked up the rest of the clothing and sure enough there was a doll lying next to the dog.

As he shifted through the rest of the clothing pile it occurred to him that the clothes were clean and lying in a pattern that suggested their owner had simply vanished like somebody in a story about the Rapture. Had this person been cursed while on the bus?? The dog whined again. Jack dug into his backpack and emptied out the plastic grocery bag. He put the clothes into the bag and stuffed them into his backpack. Then he picked up the doll and put it in on top of the bag of clothes. He carefully closed the backpack leaving an opening through which he could see the doll’s face. He still wasn’t completely sure that the person stuck in the doll needed air, but he didn’t want to take any chances.

The dog was wearing a harness with a leash attached. The harness had a small metal name tag that read “Sampson.”

“Okay, Sampson. We’ll figure this out and take care of things. I promise. I guess I was supposed to take this bus home,” he picked Sampson up and put the little dog on his lap. Curse-breaker and dog settled in for the rest of the trip home.


Looking for a fun challenge? Head on over to More Odds Than Ends (MOTE) and pick up a spare prompt! Have a prompt to contribute? Submit it to oddprompts at gmail dot com. If you contribute a prompt you will receive one assigned to you. It’s a creative and fun way to challenge yourself.

Good vibrations

As the shutdown grinds on, I am finding more and more impetus for writing. Of course, it helps that the semester is over and I have time now. Week 21 of More Odds Than Ends promises to give us interesting stories. Mike Barker (again) got the prompt I sent in: You come home from a long day at work and plop down on the couch with a beer. The cat looks up and says, “Hey, can I have one too?” My prompt this week came from Cedar Sanderson: The vibrations of the plucked notes ring through flesh and bone. I had to let this percolate for a while before something came to me. And, what showed up was another vignette in what appears to be an ongoing story of the freelance curse-breaker Jack McKnight.


They stared at the object on the porch. Jack swore under his breath as he stared at the doll figurine that contained his brother-in-law, his wife, and their daughter. The dogs whined as Captain tried to comfort them.

Monica took a deep breath and looked up at Jack. “Honey? Jack? What are we going to do?” Her eyes were shiny with tears.

“I’m not sure yet. But I promise you. We’ll get them out safely. I promise.” He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head.

Monica nodded. She bent down, carefully picked up the figurine and walked into the house. The big Newfoundland and small Chihuahua gave identical brief wags of their tails while Captain gazed at Jack.

“I know boy. I know. We’ll figure it out. We will.” He knew he was trying to convince himself more than the big German Shepherd. He waved at all three dogs.

“Come on, guys. Let’s get you some food and water while we work on this puzzle.” Captain bumped noses with Bruno, the Newfie, and bent down to do the same to Ralphie, the brown Chihuahua. They all trailed behind Jack as he went back into the house and headed for the kitchen.

A couple of hours later, Jack looked up from his books and papers. He rubbed his hands across his face and sat back in the chair. That just might work…Monica will have to play the music, but it just might work.

He stood up and stretched. Captain got up from the dog bed in the corner of Jack’s office. Jack picked up the book he had been reading and opened the door that led into the main part of the house. Monica was sitting in the living room watching TV. Or at least, the TV was on and Monica was sitting on the sofa. Ralphie was curled up in her lap, and Bruno lay on the cushions next to her. The figurine stood on the coffee table in front of them. Monica looked up as Jack came in.

“I think I’ve got something, honey,” Jack sat down next to her and gave Ralphie a pat on the head. Captain sat at Jack’s feet.

“What? Can I help?” Monica asked.

“Yes. In fact, you’ll have to do most of the work since you’re the musician in this family,” he smiled, trying to soothe her fears.

“What? What do you mean?” She sat up and looked at him.

“I’ve been digging around. After what happened before…” He looked down at Captain and gave him a pat. “I wanted to see if there was another way to undo a curse like this. I found something. It’s music. That’s where you come in. I need you to play some very precise measures on your violin. And, not with the bow. They have to be plucked notes.”

“What? Sorry. This is a lot to take in. What do you mean precise measures?”

“Well, there are very specific instructions in one text. It doesn’t look complicated, but it’s precise. Here, I’ll show you,” he opened the book and passed it over to Monica.

She stared down at the page he indicated. “Yeah, you’re right. That’s not that complicated. I can do that.” She gazed up at him. “Do you really think it will work?”

“Yes, I do. I really do,” he answered softly.

“Okay. Let’s do this.” She gently picked up Ralphie and put him on the cushion next to Bruno and stood up.

She came back into the living room carrying her violin. “Give me the book. I need to see the music.”

Jack passed the book over and moved to set up the working circle. He carefully picked up the figurine and put it in the center of the circle.

Turning to the dogs, he said, “I need you guys to stay there on the couch. Captain, you, too. Get up there.” Captain cocked his head but turned and jumped up onto the sofa. “Good boys.”

He looked over at Monica. “Are you ready, babe?”

“Yeah. Let’s just start.”

“Okay. Start playing.”

Hesitantly at first, but with greater confidence, the notes flowed from Monica’s violin. Jack stepped in to the circle and walked counter-clockwise around the figurine, starting at North and pausing to mark each point of the compass. As he returned to North, the music reached a crescendo and the air grew hazy around the figurine.

Monica kept playing and Jack repeated his circuit. The second time he reached North the haze over the figurine was thicker and there seemed to be movement within the haze. Monica reached the final crescendo and brought the music to an abrupt stop. Jack held his breath.

The haze seemed to shiver and coalesce before suddenly breaking apart to reveal three people standing together in the pose created by the figurine. They stared around like people coming out of a dream.

Jack quickly scuffed a break in the circle as Monica dropped the violin onto a chair and started toward the little group.

“Uncle Jack? What happened?” Sophie gazed up at him. A loud woof sounded from the sofa as Bruno jumped off and dashed over to Sophie, slobbering all over her. She giggled and hugged the big dog around the neck. Ralphie was close on his heels and jumped into the arms of Julia, Monica’s sister-in-law, yapping and furiously licking her face.

“What the hell happened?” Rob, Monica’s brother, looked between Jack and Monica. “I could feel music, literally feel it, vibrating in my bones. What did you do?”

Monica gave him a hug. “Just freed you from a curse. No big deal,” she laughed in relief.


Need some inspiration for your writing? Or want to try your hand at writing? Head on over to More Odds Than Ends. Responses can be long or short or visual…whatever you come up with. Didn’t send in a prompt? There are always spares from which you can pick and choose. The key is to have fun!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

The beach fixes everything

Prompt time! This is Week 20 of Odd Prompts. This one comes from my own wanderings on the Oregon coast thanks to a friend of mine who owns a house in a small town out there. Sadly, due to the Wuhan flu madness we won’t be able to get to Oregon this year so I will miss my beach wanderings. Sigh.

My prompt came from Mike Barker: When she held the seashell to her ear, first she heard the crashing waves, then the songs the mermaids sing, and then… a timid little voice said, “Mommy? I want to go home now?”

The prompt I sent went to Kat Ross.

The Beach Fixes Everything

The waves crashed against the beach and Maria sighed with happiness. She loved the beach. The sound of the waves was soothing, the far distant horizon promised unending adventure (even if she didn’t venture over it), and the cool water washing over her feet smoothed away all her worries, stress, and fears.

She wandered down the beach watching her footprints appear and disappear in the wet sand. Tiny, glass-like jellyfish were scattered about and she was careful not to step on any of them although she was pretty sure they just oozed further into the sand if she did. Every now and then she paused in her wanderings and bent down to pick up a particularly interesting shell or rock. Once in a while she was lucky enough to find a piece of sea glass to add to her collection.

It wasn’t a particularly sunny day, so there were not a lot of people out. Locals and their dogs were almost permanent fixtures, but the tourists were more likely to be in town wandering through the shops. Maria felt incredibly grateful that she was able to make this trip once a year. If not for the generosity of her friend Sinead it would not be possible. Sinead owned a house in this small coastal town, a house she planned on retiring to one day, and Sinead let Maria stay in the house when she came out to the coast.

She continued on down the beach kicking the water as she walked and getting lost in the sound of the waves. A white bump in the darker, damp sand ahead of her signaled a buried shell and she altered her wandering path to dig it up. It turned out to be a giant conch shell, unusual for this area. In a burst of whimsy, she held the shell up to her ear listening for the distant sound of the ocean.

As she listened and drifted away on the soothing sounds in the shell, she fancied she heard mermaids singing in the sighing of the ocean. Entranced, she gazed out at line where the sky met the ocean and simply listened. A small tug on her hand interrupted her musings.

“Mommy? Can we go home now? I’m tired,” a timid little voice said.

Maria looked down at her daughter and smiled.

“Of course, mija. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize we’d walked so long and so far.”

“You like the beach a lot, don’t you Mommy?” Lena said.

“Yes, mija, I do. I like it very much.”

“I do too, Mommy. I want to be a mermaid when I grow up.”

“That’s great, baby. I love that idea. Maybe tomorrow we’ll come back and find a mermaid for you to talk to about what it’s like.”

“Really? That would be fun! How do we find a mermaid?” Lena’s voice rose in excitement.

“I’m not sure, sweetie, but we can come back tomorrow and figure it out!” Maria laughed.

She bent down and swung the child up into her arms and headed back up the beach to the house. There were still three more days for walking on the beach. And, perhaps, finding a mermaid.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Turning the tide

It’s Week 19 of the More Odds than Ends prompts. Hard to believe I’ve been doing this consistently for 19 weeks! My plan is to say the same thing at Week 52. My prompt went to Mike Barker (again). This week my prompt was a photo from Kat Ross, “Dawn in the Cemetery”.

I used it to add a sort of epilogue to the short story In Defense of All We Hold Dear (link at the top of my page). So, here is Epilogue: Turning the Tide:


I stood stock still, staring around me. The ghost army, my ghost army, had done it. We’d taken the British supply depot that sat outside Trenton. We’d actually done it! We had turned the tide.

And, not a single one of my people had been lost. Yes, some were wounded, but everybody was alive, and the wounded would recover. We had regrouped after the fierce battle to a nearby field that bordered an old cemetery.

“The sun will come up soon, Miss…we have to leave,” a soft voice said from behind me.

I turned around and looked at the ghost of my father.

“I know…Pop, I really miss you, you know,” I was trying really hard not to cry.

“You are a good leader. I’m very proud of you. And, it’s a cliché, but I am always in your heart…I hope,” he responded with a grin.

Laughing, I reached out to hug him and got the best bear hug the world has ever seen. No, I don’t know why I could actually hug the ghost of my father, but at that moment I wasn’t interested in any explanations. I only knew that his bear hugs were one of the things I missed the most about him and somehow, this night, for this time, I got to experience them again.

Our mission to beat the Brits at their supply dump was a success. Finally, the on-again-off-again 250-year war for our independence might just be won by us. And we couldn’t have done it without the ghosts of all those past revolutionaries and soldiers.

He sighed and stepped back. I could see the shadows appear through him. I turned around and saw the sun coming up over one of the headstones.

When I turned back, he was gone.

“Bye, Pop,” I whispered.


Thanks, Kat. I enjoyed finding an ending to this short story and talking to my dad one more time.

Image by Keturah Moller from Pixabay

Strange Days, Indeed

It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 weeks since Cedar started the whole More Odds than Ends weekly prompts. This week, my prompt went to Mike Barker: “So, he found a dead body when he was wakeboarding off of Jersey.” I was the recipient of Fiona Grey’s prompt: You’re at a drive-up diner, eating your meal, when up next to you sidles a bison. She gives you a polite nod, and orders a cheeseburger. This was a fun exercise in imagination. I really like both reading and writing the mixing of every day life with magical or supernatural beings and/or occurrences. So, here for your reading pleasure, my (very) short take:


It had been something of a tiring and strange day when I pulled up to the order window. My brain made a decision without consulting me and I turned in at the classic drive-in diner. I realize that fast food is probably not the best end-of-day stress reliever, but screw that.

This was my favorite place to go for a cheeseburger and fries. It was the last of a dying breed, the drive-up diner. They even have servers on roller skates who brought your food out to you. I always felt like I’d traveled back to a more relaxed time when I came here. I rolled down my window and pushed the button.

The speaker crackled. “Hi! Welcome to Dave’s Drive-In Diner! What can I get ya?”

“Hi. Bacon cheeseburger and loaded fries, please. And, a large chocolate milkshake. Thanks!” What? It’d been a long, strange, tiring day. I’ve earned that milkshake.

About five minutes later, the 19-year old server glided up to the car and deftly attached the tray to my window. “Here you are! Do you need anything else?”

“Nope, I’m good. Thanks!” I was already salivating at the sight of the cheeseburger.

I picked up the burger and was getting ready to take a big bite when movement in the next spot caught my eye. I froze with the cheeseburger part-way in my mouth. What the hell?

A huge bison was standing at the speaker. Yes, a bison. I was still staring when the humongous head swung around and gave me a polite nod before turning back to the speaker. I clearly heard the chirpy welcome spiel coming out of the speaker.

That was followed by a low rumbling sound, but I know I heard the words “cheeseburger” and “fries.”

The bison ordered a cheeseburger?? The chirpy voice on the other end of the speaker didn’t hesitate. I couldn’t wait to see what happened when the server came out with the tray. I finally took my first bite of my own cheeseburger.

Another five minutes and the server glided out of the main building toward the bison. There was absolutely no sign of surprise or shock. I was the one looking shocked…if anybody had happened to glance my way. The server was pushing one of those catering carts with the cheeseburger and fries sitting on top.

The bison was apparently a regular customer? I took a long sip of my milkshake. It was as delicious as it looked. I glanced back over at the bison and got a wink and a nod before she lowered her head and tucked in to her own cheeseburger.

I shrugged and nodded back. Yep. Strange day. But the milkshake is divine.


Thanks for reading and please join us at More Odds than Ends for weekly prompt fun. You can submit a prompt to oddprompts@gmail.com or drop by the web page to pick up a spare prompt. The “rules” such as they are are on the main page. Come throw out a prompt response or two!

Rampaging Beast

Once again, it’s time for an Odds and Ends prompt! I slightly modified the prompt I was given. I’m dealing with end of semester whining, attempts to gaslight me about assignments I created, and general angst that college students bring no matter what. That’s probably what gave me this little scenario.

Here’s the prompt from Misha Burnett: The supernatural creature rampaged through the crowded store, killing everyone but you. Why were you spared?

And here’s my response:

Rampaging Beasts

The noise was deafening. Between the shattering glass, crashing shelves, and screaming customers and staff, the store was chaos.

The rampaging werebear wreaked unimaginable havoc. It was roaring incoherently and throwing itself around the store like a toddler having a massive temper-tantrum. Nobody seemed capable of or willing to stop him.

From my hiding spot towards the back of the store I kept an eye on the beast and tried to come up with an idea. Abruptly, the werebear made a gesture towards the front door as if it were throwing a ball. All the remaining customers were flung out the door. Some went through what remained of the front window.

I knew that move! Suddenly confident, I stood up from behind the back counter. The werebear turned and started toward me.

“Goddammit, Brian! I told you not to experiment in the mall!” I stood my ground, arms out as if to hug it. My warding rod hung from its strap on my left wrist.

The giant creature came to a sudden halt. It stood panting and drooling about ten feet away. Slowly, its form appeared to flow and a disheveled young man about 19-years old stood before me, still panting and drooling.

“I-I’m s-s-sorry, d-d-Dr. Jones. I didn’t think…”

“Clearly you didn’t think! I warned you about this several times in class. Congratulations, you have just failed this exam. And, don’t even get me started on the damage and injuries. You’d better hope there were no deaths! If you are going to be successful in this class, you need to pay attention when I’m lecturing!”

Brian hung his head. “I’m sorry.”

“Good grief. Start cleaning this mess up.”


I hope you found it slightly funny. The whole thing just kind of popped into my head after dealing with repeat emails from a couple of students.

Image by Waltteri Paulaharju from Pixabay

Miracle garden

It’s Week 16 of Odd Prompts. I missed out on last week’s prompt due to a number of work-related stresses compounded by the quarantine/lock-down/house arrest we’re all dealing with. I’m hopeful that the reopening of the country which started yesterday will continue apace. I finally got back to writing yesterday evening and realized, I think for the first time, how truly important it is for me. Yes, it’s a form of escapism, but it also let’s me create problems and then create solutions to those problems. I dove back in to the editing I need to do on Book 1 and that should be done this weekend. Then I’m going to dive in to figuring out Kindle and working on Book 2. I’m also working on putting the series of cursed dolls into some sort of coherent story line. I think that’s going to be a new series.

I did write a small bit for the Week 15 prompt which I posted directly in the comments section over at More Odds than Ends and you can head over there to read that if you feel so inclined (I recommend going over to read the prompts from everybody over there simply because they’re all so good).

For this week’s prompt, I got this picture and this statement from Kat Ross:

“He’s been dead for 30 years, yet his flowers still bloom.”

Here’s my response:


“Wow, check it out!” Greg stopped on the side of the path.

“Whoa! Those are gorgeous. How did they get there?” Andrea smiled at the large swath of deep red tulips that seemed to flow alongside the path.

“There’s a sign over here,” Greg pointed. The couple moved closer to read the inscription.

These tulips were a gift to the park from Samuel Beckwith (1900-1990). He planted them here every fall until his death in 1990. The following fall, park gardeners neglected to replant the bulbs, yet that spring, this river of tulips bloomed. Since then, the bulbs have never been replaced and the tulips have bloomed every year. This patch of ground was dubbed “Sam’s Miraculous Garden” by park gardeners. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Greg and Andrea stared at each other. “Tulips aren’t perennials!” Andrea breathed.

“I know,” Greg answered. “Damn. Thirty years after his death and they still come back. Samuel Beckwith’s Miracle Garden for sure!”

The tulips swayed in unison back and forth and then were still again.


Short, but I like it. It’s sparked an idea for a short story and I’m allowing myself to take the weekend off from teaching/grading stuff so I think I’m going to chase down this idea.

Enjoy your weekend, get outside, and ignore the busybody Karens telling you how to behave! Don’t be afraid.

Image by monicore from Pixabay