Monday, December 31, 2018

A Matter of Perception


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Larry and Tom had planned to hike the Grand Way Trail. Larry was the type who didn't put too much planning into the things he did. Tom on the other hand tended to over plan. He didn't like surprises.

Larry wanted to catch a ride with a friend who was going past the trailhead. He would pick them up that evening. Tom wanted to take his car just in case something unforeseen happened and they needed to leave early. Tom won out. They had to pay a fee to park the car and now Tom was concerned about it being vandalized.

As they hiked through the woods along a small river, they came to a fork in the trail. The main trail kept to the river. The other climbed to a high meadow then back to the main trail. Larry wanted to take the high trail. Tom wanted to stick to the trail they were on. The side trail looked steep and he wasn't sure where it went. They decided to part and meet up again where the two trails re-converged.

Larry took the upper trail. It wound through beautiful high meadows full of wild flowers. He took photo's of the grand vista with no less than five sno-capped mountains in the distance. He also saw a black bear with two cubs. It was well worth the trip up the hill.

Tom kept to the well used river trail. He had his taser out and picked up a big stick as he walked along. He hoped he wouldn't see a bear or a cougar. He kept his eyes on the trail ahead.

When the two met back up, Tom was relieved that he hadn't somehow gotten lost.

They came to a waterfall. A small trail led hikers behind the falls. Larry was all for taking it. He had never been behind a waterfall before. Tom wanted no part of it. The trail was narrow and looked slippery. If he wasn't careful he could end up in the river. He would have to hike the rest of the way in wet boots.

Tom sat on a stump and waited as Larry easily took the trail and experienced the thrill of walking behind a waterfall. He sat back for a few minutes and took it in. When he came back to the main trail, Tom was waiting. “Thought you got lost or something,” commented Tom.

As they walked on they came across a couple who were camping just off the trail. Larry struck up a conversation with them and they invited the two to join them for a cup of coffee. Larry was all for it, but Tom was concerned. He didn't know these people and was leery about drinking their coffee. He reluctantly took a seat by the fire but kept to himself.

The following day, Larry couldn't stop talking about what a great time he had. Tom thought it was a boring trip and doubted he would ever go back.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Decision


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Neal Brackett is my top hand. A foreman like no other. He has an easy way about him as long as you stay on his good side. Cross him and you'd swear the devil himself was coming down on you. I depend on him to handle all the necessary requirements needed to run the Bar D.

Our usual Friday meeting was about to begin, and as usual, Neal entered my office from the outside door. What was unusual about his entrance is that he blew in like a cold wind before a winter storm. He didn't sit down. Just stood at my desk like a man with something on his mind.

I had a good idea as to what, or should I say who it was about. I had hired a man named Tex several months earlier. A hard worker and smart to boot. Born in a saddle with a rope in his hand. I was damn happy to have hired him.

To my dismay, he turned out to be somewhat of a braggart and a loudmouth who constantly felt the need to be the center of attention. That didn't set well with me and I figured it would cause trouble between the men at some point. I expected I'd hear about it soon enough. Seems the time had come.

I was at my liquor cabinet when Neal stormed in. “Drink?” I asked.

No thanks, boss.”

Cigar?”

You know I don't smoke.” he politely replied.

I know. Thought I'd ask, just in case you've changed your ways.”

Not a chance in hell.”

Thought not, I haven't changed my ways either.”

I slowly poured a full glass of bourbon and took my time lighting a good cigar. I motioned for Neal to take a seat as I took mine. I savored a long draw and filled the small room with a haze of sweet smoke. I proceeded to knock off the ash by slowly rolling the cigar tip on my desk top. It was an old habit I had yet to break. I took a sip of bourbon and set the glass aside.

Neal sat patiently as I savored the moment.

I decided to open the conversation with what I suspected would be the topic. “How's Tex working out?”

We have a problem with Tex,” replied Neal. “His personality has become...how can I put this...incompatible, with me and the men.”

Is that so. Tex is a top hand. Are you sure this is a Tex issue?”

Without a doubt, and with all due respect, it's been decided, if Tex doesn't go soon, the men and I will.”

Sounds like an ultimatum. You're putting me in a hard spot I don't rightly appreciate.”

I took a minute to consider all my options.

Send Tex in. We'll settle up.”

One more thing,” I continued. “If you ever pull a stunt like this on me again, I'll be settling up with you.”

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Cub Reporter Story: A Fallen Angel


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

I was sitting in a bar with two of my reporter colleagues. We were discussing the strangest story we had ever reported on. I thought I did well relaying the story of my day as a passenger in an overcrowded stagecoach as we reenacted a fifty mile ride along the same route as the first stage line in Oregon. But it was not to be. My buddy, Harmon took the prize. Here's his story.

This is a story I reported on several years ago. It's strange, but I swear it's true. I know it for a fact because I was there. It's so vivid in my mind, I recall it as if it happened yesterday. It was around nine o'clock in the evening. It was a warm night. My wife, our two good friends and I stepped out onto the patio for a couple of cold beers.

We were discussing recent events when we noticed something streak across the sky just above our heads. We all wondered what it might be since it was so close. A few seconds later we heard the crash. It was on the back side of the property about one hundred yards away. I grabbed a flashlight and we all headed toward the area where the sound came from.

When we arrived on the scene, we found that whatever it was had crashed into the side of an empty outbuilding. We cautiously opened the door to look inside. Even though it was a warm night, the room was frigid cold. There was ice on the walls. Everything inside the building was frozen.

We stepped inside and looked around. I shined the light to the back of the room and there we saw it. A nude man, but yet, not a man. I mean, it had arms and legs and looked human except...it had wings. Big... black... feathery wings and a few feathers on it's body here and there. It was laying still. We weren't sure if he...if it... was dead.

Not sure of what to do we called 911. When they arrived, we took them to the outbuilding. As soon as they started working on the “man”, we were ushered out of the building. They immediately called the police who quickly arrived, as did several unmarked cars filled with serious looking men. My guess was some sort of security people. The body was hauled away. I'm not sure if it was still alive. We never heard another word.

The following day I made some inquiries but got nowhere. I wrote up the story and my editor refused to run it. Said it was too unbelievable for our mainstream readership.

I ended up selling the story to a tabloid under a pseudonym. I think they titled it Bird Man Falls From the Sky.”

We had a good laugh. He assured us it was true. Believing him would have been a stretch, but then, who really knows, stranger things have happened.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Hardest Decision


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

The fire was getting close. The air was almost too hot to breath.
Adam Tipton was in his Chicago office on the fifty-first floor. The day had started out like any other. He hit the snooze button on his alarm twice giving him a late start. He skipped breakfast but made his usual stop at Starbucks for a triple shot Americano on the way in.

Ever since 9/11 and the Twin Towers event, he had been paranoid about getting caught in the building if it should ever catch on fire. And now his worst nightmare had happened. He recalled seeing the images of people falling to their death after they had jumped from the tower windows. He often wondered if these people just took the easy way out or if they had some delusion of possibly surviving the fall.

Some of his coworkers had smuggled in parachutes and hid them in their file cabinets. Adam had done the same. He had taken a few lessons so if it ever came down to it, he was prepared to jump, and to survive.

~~~~

When the alarm had gone off a couple of hours earlier, several people had sprinted for the stairs, but they were turned back due to heavy smoke in the stairwell. The fire had started just three floors below and was quickly spreading out of control. Many of the office workers decided to head for the roof.

Two of his friends had put on their parachutes and were busy breaking out a nearby window. As soon as they did, they jumped.

There was a woman in the office. Her name was Ann. She was a mother of two young children. She sat at the desk next to Adam and he and Ann had become good friends. She was in a panic. She was trying to call her husband but the phones were not connecting and now she was sitting at her desk crying, not knowing what to do. Adam felt bad for her. She didn't have a chute.

Once the fire had reached his floor, Adam made the decision to strap his chute on. He walked over to the window his friends had broke out. He wanted to say good-by to Ann, but couldn't get himself to do it.

He was ready to jump when she called out to him. “Please take me with you!”

I don't know if the chute will carry both of us,” he replied. Adam now had to decide if he should take the chance.

Against his better judgment he took off the chute and strapped it on Ann. “I have a better grip. We're both going to jump. Either we make it or we don't.”

Adam grabbed Ann and they jumped out the window together. He quickly pulled the cord and the chute opened. He was right. The weight was too much. They were falling too fast.

Adam needed to make another decision. It wasn't easy, but he did it.

He let go.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Lakeside Cabin


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Neal and Eileen had rented the lakeside cabin for the weekend. It was a chance for the two of them to get away from the city. No electronics allowed. The plan was to just relax, unwind and reconnect with each other.

Neal was a Prosecuting Attorney. For the past two months, he was under a lot of pressure to convict a high profile mob figure. The trial wasn't easy. The first jury was dismissed due to jury tampering accusations. His life had been threatened twice and his land line was found to be tapped. In the end, he had won the case. He knew there would be blowback. It was something he would worry about on Monday.

Eileen was an emergency room nurse. Her job was rewarding but very stressful. In the ER, cool heads prevailed and for the past five years, she was the one who never lost control of a situation. She always prevailed. Her plan was to do nothing but relax this weekend.

Saturday evening was warm. There was a full moon and Neal had planned a relaxing and romantic candlelit dinner on the the lake at the end of the dock. No phones, no laptops, just relaxing conversation about anything but work.

At the end of the evening, when the wine was gone, the candles had burned out and the moon was sinking low, Neal suggested a starry night cruise on the lake. There was a small rowboat tied to the dock, beckoning them to continue the evening. Eileen thought it was a great idea as long as they took the dessert. She grabbed a knife and the cake and climbed in. They paddled out to the center and sat quietly looking up at the stars.

Suddenly, something came up out of the water near the boat. It was someone in a scuba suit. They grabbed the side of the boat and tried to tip it. Neal picked up one of the oars but before he could swing it, the diver disappeared under the water.

What in the hell was that,” Exclaimed Eileen.

Before Neal could reply the diver came up again. A spear from a speargun grazed Neal's shoulder knocking him to the edge of the boat. In a flash, the diver grabbed Neal and pulled him over. Eileen's ER training kicked into full gear. She made a quick assessment of the situation, grabbed the knife and jumped in after them.

It was dark, but she knew there was a struggle going on right next to her. She reached out and grabbed hold of whatever she could get her hands on. It happened to be the divers air hose. Not wanting to stab the wrong person, she cut the hose. The struggle suddenly stopped. She grabbed Neal and helped him to the surface.

Once on shore she tended to his wound, helped him into the car and headed for town.

Again Eileen insisted. “What the hell was that?

Blowback,” was Neal's only reply.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Death of Silas Penny


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

It was a slow death.
Everyone at the table agreed on this point. A glass was raised and a toast was made. “To Silas Penny. May his death be only temporary, his passing but a moment in time.”

Silas Penny. To many he was a champion. The type of person most men looked up to, and wanted to be. He was young, handsome, smart and witty. A ladies man with money to burn. There was no doubt about it, If anyone was to live the Life of Riley it would be Silas Penny.

I remember the day things first turned South for ol' Silas,” recounted one of the men at the table. “Silas showed up right here at the Schooner with a new girl wrapped around his arm. She was a sweet looking thing. Seemed friendly enough, although, if I do recall, she was a little acidic when it came to having a sense of humor. I seen her give Silas “the look” that evening when he came back at her with some friendly banter over something she had said. Silas shrugged it off, but I'm sure he felt the sting.”

Silas did feel the sting that evening.

His new girl, Evelyn, had latched on to him several days earlier. She knew a good catch when she seen one. Silas took the bait and never knew what hit him. She set the hook hard and refused to give the line an inch of slack. She played him well. Evelyn was the one who insisted on going to the Schooner that night. She wanted to let everyone know that Silas was no longer available. She had exclusive rights and would use them as she saw fit.

That night she put out the “No Trespassing” sign on her new piece of private property.

Over the next six months his friends saw less and less of Silas. They were surprised and a bit leery when the wedding invitations starting showing up. It was a proper and expensive affair. Evelyn would have it no other way. She had reeled in her trophy catch and now she was proudly holding him up for all to see.

The marriage was a stormy affair from the very beginning. Whenever Silas tried to be his own person, Evelyn shot him down. Yelling, door slamming and pouting was a nightly routine. Silas couldn't take it any longer. It was only when Silas threatened to leave that they came to terms. They worked it out, or should I say Evelyn worked it out. She agreed to give Silas some peace. In exchange Silas agreed to hand Evelyn his last vestige of independence, both his balls and his backbone.

The few friends that remained couldn't believe the change. Silas Penny was not the same and the change was not for the better. Over time, they too slipped away from Silas.

Silas Penny may not have realized it, but he had died. His friends knew it and they mourned his passing.


© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

An Impossible Recovery


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Houston, we have a problem.”
Not since Apollo 13 had those words been uttered by a NASA astronaut. But there they were reverberating into the headphones of Jim Keller at NASA's Huston Control Center.

Keller needed to be sure of what he had just heard. “Repeat your last transmission,” asked Keller.

Keller turned on the speaker for the whole room to here. “Quiet,” he ordered.

The room fell silent as the words crackled from the intercom. “Huston, we have a problem. Major Levine has come unlocked.”

Unlocked? Please explain, replied Keller.

Captain John Decker turned the modules camera toward the outside platform where Major Levine was working on the spacecrafts stuck solar panel. It was empty. “The foot clamps malfunctioned. They opened.”

What about his safety cable?” asked Keller.

Sir, you know this maneuver required it to be repositioned. He had it unhooked.” Captain Decker trained the camera on Major Levine as he free floated 100 feet from the capsule. His mike was turned on.

Levine was talking. It was a private last message to his wife and kids. Keller turned off the speaker and monitored the last words of Major Levine. The recording would be played for his family at the appropriate time.

Major Levine suddenly changed the subject. “I see a bright light. I'm heading toward it. It's surrounding me and I'm being pulled into it. I feel very calm, as if I'm being well taken care of.”

Keller thought he was hearing the last words of a dying man being drawn toward the lighted tunnel of death itself. What he didn't realize was that the light wasn't a tunnel, but a shaft. A beam that was pulling Levine into a craft that had been cloaked. It had been monitoring the NASA module for days.

No one could see the beam of light. What they saw was Major Levine suddenly and inexplicably disappear.

~~~~

That afternoon, Lester Gibbs was at work. He owned the only gas station/convenience store within 100 miles. It was located in the middle of the Nevada desert. His head was under the hood of a car when he heard the noise. By the time he was able to look around it had stopped. His two dogs were barking wildly. He yelled at them to stop but they wouldn't listen.

Damn dogs,” thought Lester as he continued to work on the car. After about fifteen minutes Lester had had enough. He walked around to the back of the building where the dogs were caged. As soon as he turned the corner he abruptly stopped. Sitting on a picnic table with his feet on the bench was a man dressed in a space suit. His helmet was in his lap.

Where am I?” he asked.

Aaahh, Nevada,” replied Lester.

I can't move. This suit's too heavy, and I can't take it off without help. Do you have a phone? I need you to dial a number for me.”

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Substitute Santa


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

December 18th, six days before Christmas eve. Santa was in his workshop going over some last minute details. He was trying out a new technique for getting down a chimney. He was hoping to shave some seconds off his entry and exit time. He cut things pretty close last year.

Santa wasn't getting any younger and he certainly wasn't in very good shape. Mrs Clause had bought him an exercise bike, but It only sat in the corner collecting dust.

Santa still had his magic to get him in and out of those tight chimneys, but his weight was beginning to slow him down. He decided to compensate by upping the power on his lift off back up to the sleigh. He tried it out on his own chimney to make sure it was going to work. He put on his gear, grabbed up a bag of toys, stepped into the fireplace and hit the switch. He blasted up the chimney like a rocket. Two of his elves happened to be outside at the time. When they heard a strange sound they turned just in time to see Santa shoot out of the chimney like a cork out of a champagne bottle. There was even a loud POP when he cleared the top.

Santa over shot the roof by a good one hundred feet. The elves couldn't believe their eyes. They had never seen Santa get that much air before. It was pretty impressive.

Unfortunately, the fall was less impressive. Toys went flying every which way. Santa showed very poor form all the way down to the roof, which he hit with a thud. He slid down to the gutter and then over the edge. When he finally hit the ground, he didn't move. The elves ran to his rescue. They were in a panic. Santa was out cold. One ran to get Mrs. Clause. She knew first aid and would be able to help.

It took half an hour to get Santa up and back into the house. He had a concussion and a broken arm. “A little too much oomph,” was all he could say.

Santa was hurting bad. Mrs. Clause gave him some Valium to ease the pain. Christmas eve was coming on fast. Something needed to be done in a hurry. Mrs. Clause took matters into her own hands. She had the elves load up the sleigh. Then she had the head elf show her how to use Santa's oomph magic. It took her a few tries up and down her own chimney, but she got the hang of it fast enough.

On Christmas eve she hitched up the reindeer, told the head elf to hop in. He knew the route and she needed his help. Then she took off. The rest of the elves were taking bets on whether she would make it to the end of the route before morning.

Not only did she make it, she beat Santa's time by over an hour.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Cold Beer and Hot Sausage Saloon


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

For over 100 years, Ernst Keller and his family had been in the business of making some of the best beer and sausage in Germany. Ernst saw great potential for the trade in America. Especially out west where a great migration was taking place. Land was cheap and newly formed gold field towns were busting at the seams.

Ernst was smart. He sifted through all the outright lies, deception and hyperbole he was hearing about the western expansion of America and made an honest assessment of the bigger picture. He felt he could expand the family business in America and build upon their growing fortune. His family agreed and Ernst was sent to find a suitable location for the business.

Upon reaching California he scouted the town he had in mind. Unfortunately, it didn't have what he needed most of all. A flowing artesian well. He searched towns for miles in all directions, but none met his needs. He was becoming discouraged. If he couldn't find what he was looking for he would have to return home empty handed.

A small town in Northern California looked promising. It had plenty of water, but no artesian wells. He inquired about his needs to several business owners in town and soon heard about a small ranch a mile to the East that had water flowing from the ground. Ernst was excited at the news and quickly paid the rancher a visit. It was exactly what he was looking for. Ice cold water bubbling up from the ground.

He tried to work a deal with the rancher, but he was unwilling to sell his property at any price. Ernst, being an honest man made the rancher one last proposition. Since there were other sources of water on the property, sell him one acre of land including the well at a handsome price and he would give the rancher a small percentage of his businesses profit. He would also buy cattle from the rancher when he needed the meat for his sausages. The rancher, knowing a good deal when he heard one, agreed and a deal was made.

Ernst contacted the family and they agreed to send all the equipment necessary to get the business up and running. Meanwhile Ernst went about constructing a small factory to make German beer and a very spicy sausage from an old family recipe.

It took a full year before the factory produced its first batch. The front of the building was turned into a fashionable saloon. It sold German beer made with artesian water, and kept ice cold in vats of circulating water coming directly from the well. It was the best tasting and coldest beer for miles around.

The Cold Beer and Hot Sausage Saloon quickly built a fine reputation. Soon the beer was being shipped as far south as San Francisco and North to Portland, Oregon.

Ernst made a fortune for the family business and for the rancher who agreed to sell him the well.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Blue Rose


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Candice had purchased the winter coat at an upscale used clothing store in New York City. It was a fawn colored mid-length coat of fine leather with an exclusive label. Normally, she didn't shop in used clothing stores, but the coat was in the window and it caught her eye as she passed by.

It was only $400 and well worth every penny. The shops owner told her it was part of an estate purchase. The woman who owned it had married and moved to Europe. She took nothing more than her new husband and a suitcase.

Candice researched the coat's label. Turns out the company was originally located in Chicago, but had gone out of business over ten years ago. At that time, the coat cost $1800. She was pleased with her new purchase.

As she examined the lining, she realized there was a small inside pocket. It was hidden within the folds. There was something in it. She reached in with her fingertips and pulled out a photo. It was an image of a very handsome young man, maybe in his early thirties.. Dark hair, hazel eyes and well dressed. On the back side there was a note.

It read, “Dearest Hope, This coat reminded me of you. I hope you enjoy it. I'm sorry things didn't work out as planned. No matter what. Remember me and remember our date. I'll meet you in the lobby of the MET in New York City on November 11, 2020, noon. Looking forward to seeing you already. I'll be wearing a blue rose in my lapel. It was signed, Ben.

Candice believed in synchronicity. That things happen for a reason. Could this be meant for her? Everything seemed to line up. The coat, the picture, she was single and Ben was about her age. Then there was today's date. It was October 28, 2020. November 11, 2020 was only two weeks away. but the most interesting detail of all was that for the last six months, she had been working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The MET.

For the next two weeks Candice tried to find out all she could about Hope and Ben, mostly Ben. She fantasized about meeting Him. He would be disappointed that Hope didn't show, but would be enchanted with her. They would fall in love and live happily ever after.

On November 11th Candice was a bundle of nerves. Just before noon, she slipped on her coat and stood off to one side looking intently for a man with a blue rose in his lapel. She noticed him as soon as he walked through the door. His eyes were searching. At 12:20 Hope had not shown. Just as Candice stepped out of the shadows a woman stepped between her and Ben. They embraced, kissed and walked off together in deep conversation. Candice, somewhat disappointed, turned around and literally ran into an old friend she hadn't seen in years. They talked. He asked her to dinner.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Leroy and the Kid


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Leroy Martin had just finished stocking the cigarette shelves behind the counter when a young man walked into his store.

What can I do for you kid?”

The kid stood quiet, as if contemplating something. Red flags went up in Leroy's mind. He had seen this before. His store had already been robbed twice. He wasn't a stranger to the signs.

Let me know when you're ready,” remarked Leroy. He knew the kid was thinking about either pulling a gun or walking back out the door.

What are you carrying?” Asked Leroy.

The kid turned his attention to Leroy. “What?”

I asked you what you were carrying. I've seen kids like you before. I know you're deciding whether to pull a weapon or walk out the door. You'd be better off walking out the door.”

What do you know about it, pops.”

I know your type. You either got a knife or a pea shooter in your pocket. Either way, you should keep it there and walk. Ever been to the big house?”

Big house?”

Ya, the state pen. It ain't nothing like the county lockup.”

How would you know?”

I've been to both. You're a good looking kid. You'll end up as somebody's bitch. I can guarantee you that ”

Wouldn't happen. I know self defense. I can take a man down no matter how big he is.”

You won't be dealing with just one, and that's a fact.”

I could just off you on my way out and no one would know. I'd never get caught.”

You don't know the ways of the world, kid. I got security here you aren't even aware of. You'll be caught whether I'm around or not. I'm assuming it's a pea shooter you got. Either pull it or walk out the door. I'm getting tired of this conversation.”

Leroy was hoping the kid had at least a flicker of intelligence about him and would walk. His hopes were dashed when the kid pulled a 9mm from his jacket. “I've made my decision. Hand over the cash.”

Well, A 9mm. That ain't no pea shooter.”

You got that right, pops, now hand it over.”

Leroy emptied the register and the kid ran for the door. He wasn't expecting it to be locked. He hit it hard and it dazed him. When he turned back toward Leroy he was looking down the barrel of a .45. “I told you I had security here.”

As an ex-con it's illegal for you to have that gun. How are you going to explain that. We might be cell mates,” the kid remarked sarcastically.

I lied,” replied Leroy. “I'm Not an ex-con. I'm just a man trying to protect what's his. I gave you a chance didn't I?”

As the cops cuffed the kid, Leroy spoke up. “Do send word and tell me if I was wrong... about the Bitch thing.”

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Sir William Goodfellow


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

At the far end of Main Street a mule entered town. It bore the weight of a rather rotund man wearing colorful clothes in shades of blue, green and gold.

He reined up his mule in front of two men sitting on the boardwalk and spoke up in a rather pompous tone.

Ahmmm, Good afternoon gentlemen. You didn’t per chance happen to feast your eyes on a very colorful wagon passing this way have you? It is delightfully painted with the name ‘Sir William Goodfellow’ in a grand scale across the side.”

The men thought for a moment before one replied. “Nope, you’re the most colorful thing we’ve seen all day.”

Well then, allow me to introduce myself. I, am Sir William Goodfellow, Minstrel, poet and Bard to the queen... and knighted by the very same I might add. I am traveling these parched and desolate lands spreading the glorious sounds of music, song and poetic verse to all those who shall lend me their ear. I seem to have been separated from my wagon. The driver is of little account. He should not be trusted, but I am at his mercy for he carries the tools of my trade. I shall wait for him at the nearest establishment of libation, if you would so kindly direct me.”

Both men had a puzzled look as they silently tried to decipher what they had just heard. Finally, one of them spoke up. “Well, my name is just plain Frank, and to tell you the truth Bill…”

Goodfellow cut him off. “Excuse me good sir, but I’m very afraid ‘Bill’ will not do. My full and rightful name is Sir William Goodfellow, the third I might add, but you may call me Sir William if you so have an affliction to the length of my good name.”

As I was saying, Sir Bill, I didn’t understand half of that flowery talk especially that last libation part. What the hell is that?”

Establishment of libation, house of bibulous concoctions, a, a... what do you people call it? Oh yes, a saloon, a place where I may moisten these withering lips and quench my parched cords for I’m afraid my vocals are beginning to fail me and that will not do.”

Frank reset his hat and rubbed his chin. “That was quite a mouthful Sir Bill. If you’re looking for a saloon, you have two choices. The Silver Saddle and the Ponderosa. I don’t suggest either one of them, the way you’re dressed. But if you’re insistent on 'quenching them there cords', you can find them both straight ahead toward the end of the street.”

I thank you for your kind directions,” replied Sir William. “I think I shall place an extended visit to the house of the Silver Saddle. My keen intuition assures me it will more than suffice.”

As Sir William headed down the street, Frank thought aloud, “Betcha I smell tar in less than an hour.”

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

World Class Travelers


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Clarence Class was a world traveler. At age 90 he stopped. Not because he wanted to. It's just hard to do when you're dead.

At age eighty Clarence and his wife Eunice began their travel adventures. They were partners. They went everywhere together. The middle East, The Far East, Europe, Africa, North America, South America. They even made it a point to travel through all fifty states.

They saw the Great Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, The Great Wall of China and many other world wonders. They visited many islands. From Hawaii to Tahiti to the Maldives. They had been to so many they eventually lost count.

To Clarence and Eunice, each day was an adventure that needed to be lived to its fullest extent possible and that's exactly what they did.

They filled their library with souvenirs and picture books from many of their adventures. They organized travel parties and promoted their way of budget traveling. At times they invited friends to go with them.

It all started on a cold Winter day when Clarence was feeling a bit confined. The snow was piling high and the temperature had dropped into the teens. Clarence decided he needed to get away. A tropical vacation was on his mind so he got online and began to research sunny warm places. Soon he and Eunice were on Ambergris Caye just off the Coast of Belize. From that day on, the travel bug had them hooked.

For seven glorious years the two of them traveled. It was a time of renewal for them both. It brought them closer together, strengthening their relationship and increasing their perspective of the world they shared. It was the best time of their lives.

Eunice passed away while they were in the middle of visiting Isla Grande off the coast of Panama. Clarence felt so bad he gave up his travel lifestyle for close to a year, but the pull was too great. He needed to see more of the world. Before he know it, he was off to the Mediterranean. His first stop was Portugal, from there, Spain.

For the next two years Clarence traveled. Nothing, including his age, slowed him down. He collected more souvenirs to add to his burgeoning library.

Then he turned ninety. His kids held a party for him and he enjoyed their company while they were there, but soon they left and he began to feel lonesome.

He missed his wife and travel partner, Eunice.

He did little traveling for the next couple of months. His kids were getting worried.. When they hadn't heard from him for several days, his oldest son stopped by the house to check on him. His dad had passed away.

He found him sitting at his computer. He had gone back to traveling. Watching YouTube travel video's. This time he had traveled to Italy. His Google maps program showed he had been touring the streets of Rome and his Amazon account showed he had just ordered another souvenir.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Hillburg House


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

It was just for one night. How bad could it be.”
Ashton didn't know what he was saying. He obviously hadn't done his research.

The Hillburg house had a long history and none of it was good. Built in 1879 by a sea captain named Charles Hillburg. He built it for his beautiful and charming wife, Haily. It might be fair to say that Charles financed the project, but it was Haily who actually built it. She had the plans for this three story Victorian home drawn up. She oversaw the carpenters, the bricklayers and the landscapers. Nothing got past her eye for detail.

She made more than one enemy as the list of “incompetent” contractors continued to grow. They either did it the Haily way of they moved on to their next job.

Charles Hillburg was oblivious to the process as he spent most of his time at sea. The home would be his and Haily's retirement residence once it was complete.

Charles was always faithful when he was in a foreign port. Haily was no angel at home. She had a string of affairs leaving many bleeding hearts and broken men in her wake.

Thomas was different. She actually fell in love with him. Together they devised several plans to do away with the Captain once he returned home. In the meantime they hoped a severe storm or other unforeseen mishap would take care of the problem for them.

It didn't.

Prevailing winds helped Charles arrived home well ahead of schedule. The house was complete. Charles was anxious to see it for the first time as well as spend some quality time with his wife. With a bouquet of fresh picked Spring flowers in his hand he slipped in the back door hoping to surprise her.

He did surprise her, but not until he entered the master bedroom where he found Thomas and Haily in the throws of passion. The scene shocked him. He lost all control and pulled a pistol from his jacket. They begged for mercy but he had none to give. He shot them both.

Charles was distraught. He went down to the formal dining room and found a bottle of apricot brandy. He drank it and then turned the pistol on himself. The bodies rotted where they lay for three full months before they were discovered.

With no will or next of kin, the house and everything in it was boarded up tight. For years, strange things took place at the house. Oftentimes gunshots and screams could be heard from inside. Twice, smoke could be seen coming from the master bedroom chimney. In 1930, the first rays of light in fifty years streamed in through the front door.

The house had been auctioned off by the city to pay back taxes. Ashton Crofton had been the high bidder. Ashton didn't believe in ghosts. He would spend his first night in the very bed of Haily Hillburg.

He was found dead the next morning.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Cub Reporter: The Church on Hollow Hill


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese


As a reporter I'm always on the lookout for a good story.
Here's one you might like. As I was driving through Tennessee I happened upon a small rural town. At the edge of this town was a hill with an old white church prominently sitting on the very top. I asked one of the locals if there was a story behind the old church.

Why yes,” replied the local. I know the story. It's called the Hollow Hill Church and here's why...
Two brothers, twins in fact, came to town sometime in the 1840's. One was a preacher, the other a merchant. The preacher was named James. He built that church. The other was named Michael. He built the old general store that sits at the bottom of the hill.

Michael began to raise a lot of curiosity in town when a mound of dirt began to show up just outside his back door. He told anyone who asked that he was digging a root cellar. Fact was, he was digging a tunnel into the center of the hill. Once he was under the church he dug straight up, finally breaking through directly under the building.

Once connected, The two brothers then dug out a large room where the tunnel turned to go up.”

Now my curiosity was up.”Why would these two brothers dig such a tunnel with a room in the middle?” I asked.

Well,” the local continued. “Turns out Michael and James had a motive from the day they came to town. Seems they were involved in what is now known as the underground railroad. They would take in runaway slaves and hide them in their secret room. The two brothers would purchase food, clothing and blankets with their own money and distribute them to those in need. This went on for several years until slavery was finally abolished. No one was the wiser.

Once the room was no longer in use, Michael decided to expand it and use it as a storage room and real root cellar for his store. While expanding the room he happened to hit upon a vein of pure gold. It was a small vein that petered out pretty quickly, but it was enough to give the two men a very comfortable living for the rest of their lives.”

So they were repaid in the end,” I commented.

Yes, the Lord works in mysterious ways, doesn't he,” replied the local.

I suppose He does,” I replied.

I thanked him for the history lesson, then walked on over to the general store and introduced myself.

The store and the church were now both museum's. Turns out the woman at the counter was Michael's great great granddaughter. She was happy to add a few more details to what I had already been told, Plus, she was kind enough to give me an exclusive tour of the tunnel and the room.

I left town with another good story.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


You can read more (and longer) cub reporter stories, and others, on Scott's website, Rope and Wire.



Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Power Struggle


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

It was turning into an old fashioned power struggle and things were beginning to heat up.
Money and power. Men go to great lengths to achieve it and even greater lengths to keep it. For some, the compass of morality no longer applies. They answer to no one but expect obedience from all.

Alex Caldwell and Emmett Schmidt were partners. Caldwell & Schmidt Attorneys at Law. Representing the rich and famous. It was a lucrative clientele. Life was good, until the day she walked into the office. Her name was Hanna, Hanna May Levine. She was rich and wanted to keep it that way. She needed a first class law firm to represent her.

Hanna explained her situation. She was the wife of a second class aristocrat named Sir William Holt. He was a spoiled rich kid. A playboy with a bad temper. Hanna was his plaything. A kept woman for whenever the urge came upon him. She wanted out, but Sir William wasn't having any part of it. She was his for evermore as far as he was concerned.

Seems like nothing more than a simple divorce case as far as I can tell,” commented Alex.

Hanna disagreed. “He owes me and I want every last cent I can get. I want to squeeze him dry and see him cry like a baby. Thing is, he'll go whine to his family and they'll fight for him. After all, it is their money.”

Alex and Emmett took the case. The publicity would be good for them.

They worked up a brief and sent a copy to the Holt family lawyers, then waited for a response. The Holt family lawyers came back at them with blind fury. They threatened to file paperwork against the two men that would reveal strong evidence of corruption. It would “put them behind bars for life”.

It was all a lie, but they had enough power and money to pull it off.

Caldwell and Schmidt never backed down from a fight. If corruption was the topic of choice, so be it. They dug deep, looking for incriminating dirt on the Holt family. It wasn't hard to find. They shot back with their findings and a few threats of their own.

It escalated from there. Becoming more brutal and personal with every volley. Not one paper had been formally filed and yet both sides were feeling the heat. This had evolved into more than just a simple divorce case.

The day Caldwell and Schmidt were to formally file, Hanna, flanked by two Holt family lawyers, paid them a surprise visit. She seemed... distraught. “William and I have settled our differences. I will no longer require your services.” She quickly turned and abruptly left the room.

That's bullshit,” remarked Alex.

Bullshit or not, we're done here,” replied one of the Holt lawyers. He handed Alex a check.

Alex passed the check to Emmett. “Yes, I believe we are,” he replied.

The check was for $500,000.


© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Friends and Deceivers


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Hazel Crane lived her life like a delicate reed, swaying with the whims of the prevailing breeze.
It was a blessing and a curse. The blessing was that she never conformed to a ridged way of thinking... about anything. She just floated along with the current wherever it took her.
The curse was that she was a follower who conformed to the thinking of whoever she was around at the time. She always marched to the beat of another drummer, but never to her own.

Hazel Crane had a problem. She was incapable of making a major decision. She tried. Whenever the need arose she would honestly try. When she thought she had succeeded she would be pleased... for about a minute. Then doubt would creep in as other options showed themselves. Then the second guessing started and soon she was totally confused. She would become so upset with herself that she would end up “sitting on her hands” and doing nothing.

She depended on others to make the major decisions in her life. She was not her own person. Once married she was content to allow her husband to run her life. She loved him and followed his lead like a puppy on a leash.

In her later years, her husband passed away. Leaving her brokenhearted and in charge of her own life. She didn't know how to cope. She wanted to lay down and die, but sometimes life can be cruel. She continued to live her life, alone. She carried on as best she could. Her husbands Social Security, wise investments and a lump sum life insurance payment sustained her standard of living.

Hazel was now forced to make her own decisions. She wasn't good at it. She relied on others with good hearts to give her some direction. Unfortunately, there were a few who knew Hazel and took advantage of the situation. They gave her bad advice. They pushed her to do things that were “in her best interest” even though it clearly wasn't. She didn't realize it and blindly went along with whatever she was told, happy to have someone “helping her” along.

A so-called friend convinced her to let him handle her financial affairs. She mistakenly trusted the man and happily allowed let him make those types of decisions on her behalf. Whenever he brought her legal documents to sign, she did it without asking questions. Her relatives weren't concerned enough to intervene. They let things slide. It was easier that way. They figured they would get a piece of the inheritance pie when she passed away.

At the age of eighty-five Hazel died. She never realized that she had unknowingly changed her will. Everything she owned was to be given to the “friend” who made her decisions for her. The relatives were livid but there was no way for the iron-clad will to be contested.

The friend had taken it all and disappeared. He would soon become the “friend” of a widow named Clare.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


Friday, December 14, 2018

A Top Gun Implosion


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

The space station was beginning to feel confining.
Stan Powers, playboy, flyboy, top gun. A high achiever. He excelled in everything he put his mind to. Top brass, seeing his potential, tapped him for a special assignment. His mission would be a test of human endurance. He would spend three years on the International Space Station as a member of an elite team. But there was a catch. The rest of his team would only spend one.

Stan didn't need to be asked twice. He jumped at the chance to fly that high. To Stan, this special assignment was an honor and a privilege. The extended duration would be a first.

He figured a three year stint on the ISS would make him a national hero. His name would be in history books. It would set him up for the rest of his life.

He and four other men trained hard enduring a grueling schedule that lasted a full year. Launch date was set for a June liftoff.

In May, Stan was given a taste of the publicity he expected to receive when he returned. NASA paraded the crew before countless reporters and press conferences as they built up National pride in a program many thought to be outdated and over funded. Stan loved the attention.

Among his other duties, NASA planned to have Stan host a weekly radio show from the station. A publicity stunt to build up lagging support for the space program. Stan was all for it. He figured it would cement his popularity and assure the success of his future political ambitions.

On launch day good luck wishes made the rounds. The launch went off without a hitch. Stan was finally in space heading toward his new home on the ISS. Docking was picture perfect. The personnel change was quick and the shuttle returned to earth.

~~~~

A busy first year flew by. The men he had docked with went back home and a new crew came onboard. Stan handled the crew's departure with class even though he secretly wished he was one of the men heading back.

In his second year, NASA informed him that due to lack of interest, the radio program was being canceled. He enjoyed the show and was disappointed to see it go.

After a long second year a new crew came onboard. Stan had been feeling homesick and when he was left behind once again he became depressed. He thought he was keeping it to himself but in such tight quarters he wasn't fooling anyone.

He started to get frustrated at small things and soon became belligerent toward the other crew members. At times he refused to carry out his duties. Eventually he became delusional, threatening to sabotage the station so he could “go home early”. The crew began to fear for their lives.

Early one morning a crew member was looking out the window.
Stan, in his space suit, floated by.
The crew members were more relieved than alarmed.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Leo and Cleo: Betrayed


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Leo had it made, but then Cleo showed up.
Suddenly, without prior notice, He was no longer the focus of attention. There was a new kid in the house. Leo was not happy.

Sure, he still got his three meals a day, personal access to the outside world and a warm bed, but that didn't matter. Now he had to share the space, the attention and the lap of the woman. Nope, this was not going to work. Leo needed to put a stop to this nonsense immediately.

The first thing he planned to do was claim his territory. Show this little hussy what was his and what was NOT hers. He had just started putting out markers in certain rooms and on certain pieces of furniture he laid claim to when the woman grabbed him up.

Leo complained all the way to the door. “Wait a minute. I'm not done yet.” The woman acted like she didn't understand a single word he said. As soon as she put him down he tried to run back in, but she quickly locked his personal door. “What the hell,” thought Leo. “This has never happened before.”

He ran around to his favorite window and looked in. There she was, Cleo, In the woman's lap. They were fawning all over each other. He could hear Cleo purring from the other side of the glass.

Leo was livid. “This is not right, not right at all.” He decided the next time he encountered Cleo he was going to set her straight. Bat her up side the head a couple of times and let her know who was boss.

That evening after dinner, Leo saw his chance. He walked up to Cleo and got in her face. “Listen here little lady. If I were you I'd pack my bags and hit the street. This is my place and I'm not about to share it with the likes of you.” For emphasis Leo swatted her. Cleo wasn't about to be bullied. She went after Leo and the fur began to fly.

Once again Leo found himself on the opposite side of the glass looking in at Cleo. This time she was curled up on the woman's lap.

OK, that does it. Time to get my buddy, Gunther from the house next door over here. I'll get him to take care of this intruder once and for all.”

The plan was set. Leo would pretend to play nice and invite Cleo outside where Gunther would be waiting. He would put the fear in her and chase her so far away she wouldn't be able to find her way back home.

The next day everything went according to plan. Cleo came outside and Leo convinced her to check out the neighbors yard while he sat in a nearby field waiting for a mouse.

After twenty minutes he went looking for Gunther. He found him, befriending Cleo.

Gunther had betrayed him. Leo went back to the field... defeated.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.