Friday, January 18, 2019

Stuck


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Herman Desi passed away on Saturday. He didn't want to go.

Herman lived a long and fruitful life. At the age of 98 he left his wife of seventy years and two adult children. His death was a long and drawn out affair. The cigarettes he smoked for over eighty years finally caught up with him. It started with emphysema. He was on a respirator for his last ten years. Even then he still stubbornly enjoyed a good smoke several times a day.

It was the lung cancer that finally did him in. Even then he didn't go easily. He laid in a hospital bed set up in his living room for over a month. He passed away in the middle of a major thunder storm, and only then because a bolt of lightening crashed through the living room window striking and killing him instantly.

Herman Desi didn't go. He was taken.

One can only imagine what was being discussed on the other side of life to cause such a thing to happen. Seems Herman needed to be drug across the threshold between life and death. God, or maybe the Devil, would not be denied. Either way, Herman Desi was forced to take his leave from this world and depart to the hereafter.

At Herman's funeral, those who knew him had a chance to publicly say their good-by's. As his oldest son was at the podium a strange thing happened. The church organ suddenly began to play a single note for a full ten seconds before it stopped just as suddenly. No one wanted to think it was anything but coincidental.

Strange things began to happen at home as well. A full time caretaker was at the house seeing after Herman's wife. At times, in the middle of the night, the caretaker could hear the sound of Herman's favorite rocking chair creaking. The smell of a freshly lit cigarette occasionally filled the house. The most telling sign that Herman may not have made a full transition to the afterlife was on the mornings when a fresh cup of steaming hot coffee was found sitting next to the Keurig machine in Herman's favorite cup.

It got to the point where the family was concerned about the safety of those in the house. There was even talk of bringing in a Catholic priest to perform an exorcism, or a shaman to smudge the house.

Herman's wife was not keen on making him leave his own home, even if he was dead. Her family convinced her, at the very least, to see if she could talk Herman into continuing his journey. She reluctantly agreed.

One evening when she was alone, she called to her husband who, to her surprise, appeared before her. They had a heart to heart talk. It seems he had wanted to stay so badly that he had gotten himself stuck between life and the hereafter.

Herman's wife helped him make the transition and he was never heard from again.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Living the Dream


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Greg and Milo were welders at a machine shop. They always had interesting conversations at the lunch table.

One day, they were complaining about their lot in life. They each wanted to do something different.

Milo made a comment that Greg totally disagreed with.

You know, Greg, we're only here because we create our own reality. We can change it if we want.”

Greg gave Milo a look. “What? I didn't create this reality. I'm not here by choice. I'm here because my dad is a welder and that's what I know. It's where I'm suppose to be. Plus it pays the bills and has a retirement plan.”

I don't agree,” replied Milo. We make choices all our lives and each choice moves us closer to where we are right now. We're welders because of the choices we've made all our lives. If we start making different choices, we can change our reality to what we really want.”

And what is it you want?” Asked Greg.

I want to own a vineyard in the South of France.”

Greg had to laugh. “Ya, right. And I'd like to write the great American novel. Problem is, I'm a welder. I don't know the first thing about writing a book.”

You have to change your reality,” replied Milo.

Back to that again, are you. Tell you what, you try to change your reality and I'll watch you grow old as a welder.”

The conversation was dropped.

Greg spent his free time as a couch potato, watching sports programs. Milo continued to work toward making a change in his life.

For the next year Milo used his free time learning to speak French. On weekends he volunteered at a local winery. He learned about growing grapes and the wine making process. He learned about viticulture and socialized online with French vineyard owners.

For his yearly vacation he flew to France for a first hand look at the business. He personally met with several of the vineyard owners he socialized with online.

Periodically, Greg would tease Milo about not having changed his reality yet. Milo didn't say a word, but kept his focus on his soon to be new reality.

Exactly one year and six months later, Milo dropped an airline ticket on the table in front of Greg.

Going to France again are we?” Chided Greg.

Milo replied, “Oui, mais cette fois pour de bon. That means Yes, but this time for good.

Greg was surprised. “You know how to speak French?”

For the past eighteen months I've spent my free time learning all I could about the wine industry and how to speak French. What have you been doing to learn how to write your great American novel?”

Greg admitted he had done nothing. “You're really doing it. You're changing your reality.”

I told you it was possible. I leave tomorrow.”

That night, Greg started his own research on how to write a novel.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Constant Consumer


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Madge Parnell was the product of a consumer society. Born and bred to be a taker with no conscious thought of ever giving back.

She didn't know when to slow down, let alone quit. To make a bad habit worse, she had expensive taste. She bought according to the name on the label not the price on the tag. She had to have a new car every year to display in front of her new house in a posh neighborhood on the expensive side of town.

Her husband was a slave to her spending habits. He worked hard for the money he earned. He made a good living but barely managed to pay the bills which included six credit cards that were always charged up to the max. Aside from her line of credit, come payday, Madge was always first in line for a “cash advance”. Well ahead of the many creditors she constantly supported.

The shopping channel was a good friend when her favorite stores were closed. Packages arrived daily. It was like Christmas morning all year round.

One day Madge just happened to be outside when her next door neighbor drove up in a brand new Lexus LX. She called for Madge to come over and take a closer look. The woman couldn't stop bragging about how her husband surprised her with it. “And it wasn't even my birthday.”

After the brag-fest, Madge went back to the house and Googled the Lexus LX. It cost $100,000. Madge had to have one. But how? Her husband would never agree to spend that much on a car. Even with her trade-in, she would still need another $45,000 or so.

Maybe you could sell some of your jewelry,” suggested her husband.

Maybe I could sell that book of old coins you have?” she quipped.

Do that and it will be the last thing you do,” he sternly replied.

Madge was upset at her husband for not wanting to help her buy a new Lexus. Selling her jewelry was out of the question. She schemed for days on how to come up with the money.

One day while her husband was at work she pulled out his prized coin collection. “why does he collect these dirty old coins anyhow,” she thought.

She couldn't help herself. She took the collection to a coin dealer who offered her fifty thousand dollars. Madge didn't think twice. She agreed. That day she bought herself a brand new Lexus LX. It was parked in the driveway when her husband came home.

When he walked into the house, Madge was all smiles. “I got a new Lexus and you got five thousand dollars for those dirty old coins you collected.

Those dirty old coins were worth $150,000. What the hell did you do?”

I sold them, I had to.”

Her husband calmly replied, “I'm filing for a divorce... I have to.” He walked out of the house and drove away.

In the Lexus.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lost in Paradise


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Nathan Orland was a confirmed bachelor. He answered to no one and he liked it that way.

Earlier in life he thought he would follow in the footsteps of his family and friends. They all found the loves of their lives, got married and settled down. Many of these “forever loves” ended in divorce.

Nathan had a change of heart as he watched the train wrecks pile up. He would rather not make the commitment. He did have his share of romances, but he was never willing to slip on the ring and settle down. He loved his life the way it was. For now, he had no plans to change a thing.

In his late twenties, Nathan got the itch to travel. He spent hours on his computer reading and watching video's of others who were traveling in paradise. Nathan wanted to find his piece of paradise. He was a decent writer and like his father, a good photographer. His father specialized in night sky photos. He enjoyed landscapes. He knew he could earn what he needed blogging and photographing his travels. He figured if others could do it, so could he.

In October of 2010, Nathan sold his belongings, said his good-by's to family and friends, then boarded a plane to Costa Rica.

He started blogging from day one. Anyone who wanted to know what Nathan Orland was up to could check his blog, see some recent photo's and read the latest news. Over a two year period, Nathan had developed quite a following. Thousands of people were reading his blog and purchasing the books he had written about his adventures.

One day, without notice, the writing stopped. No more blog posts. No more photos. His family started to worry. They had always been able to get in touch with him by phone. Now there was only a prerecorded message that said “Don't worry, I'm fine.” It's as if Nathan had fallen off the face of the earth.

His father traveled to his last known whereabouts. He had no luck locating his son and eventually returned home.

One month later his family received a photograph. Hand delivered by an employee of a company called anonymous whereabouts. They specialized in delivering information for people who didn't want their whereabouts to be known. Apparently Nathan didn't want to be found.

The photograph was of the night sky. On the back was a note. I've found my paradise. I'm happy. It was signed Nathan.

Two weeks later, Nathan's father knocked on the door of a room at a Buddhist monastery in New Zealand. Nathan answered. He smiled when he saw his father. They talked for hours. His father soon realized that Nathan had found his piece of paradise. He reluctantly accepted Nathan's choice.
How did you find me?” Asked Nathan.

The photo of the night sky. I had someone determine the ground coordinates according to the stars in the photo. It led me to the courtyard outside your room.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Pride Before the Fall


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Cliff Waters was wrong and he knew it. He wanted to fess up to his mistake. His employees deserved that much, but his pride was too great.

He was known as the golden child. Always making the right decisions under pressure. He thrived on short deadlines and reveled in the win. Compliments stroked his ego and puffed him up. For Cliff Waters, being the center of attention was as good as it could get.

The tailspin started when Cliff got wind of a new software development his competitors were making to a laser cutting machine they manufactured. Cliff's company also manufactured laser cutters. It was a highly competitive market and both companies constantly jockeyed for prime accounts. The new software would put his company at a disadvantage.

Cliff was proud of the fact that he had successfully placed a mole into a key management position of his competitor. This was the main reason he had been able to keep pace. His mole wasn't privy to the software development department so the information he was able to get was sketchy at best. He was working on getting a copy of the actual software. Cliff needed him to get the information before it was released. His reputation depended on it. His ego required it.

~~~~

Yancy Jacks was Cliff's competitor. He knew about the mole Cliff had placed within his company. He fed him classified information every now and again just to keep him in his place. The time would come when he would use him to take Cliff to the mat.

Yancy's company was putting the finishing touches on a new software program that would revolutionize the industry. He knew the mole would be looking for it. He had his developers come up with a close replica that included a deadly virus. One his company could release at the appropriate time. He then placed the infected software in a file where the mole would find it. It didn't take long.

The mole had good news for Cliff. He had managed to get his hands on a copy of the new software. He also let Cliff know that Yancy was planning to release the new software in one week. Cliff was ecstatic. He had his developers quickly rebrand the software to look like they had developed it. If he released it before Yancy. He would take the credit and his companies stocks would soar.

His company released the updated software with much fanfare. The industry was excited to see it in action. One week after its release, Yancy Jacks unleashed the deadly software virus. It worked quickly. Three weeks after the software's release Cliff's company was scrambling. They were in trouble. The software was crashing all the machines that had installed it. Cliff's software team worked feverishly to find a patch.

Yancy 's company released the real software as a replacement.

Cliff had been beaten, but his pride wouldn't let him admit it. He blamed the software problems on his employees instead.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Underwood Story


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

It was said the old Underwood typewriter once belonged to a famous author.

My name is Quinton Shep. I had purchased it from a guy off Craigslist. The guy didn't have any paperwork to prove his claim, but he did have a good story.

Seems his great uncle worked as a butler for a wealthy couple back in Connecticut. The man of the house was an author. (He didn't know his name.) Apparently this author was about to begin writing a new novel. Said it would be his masterpiece.

Unfortunately he passed away before he had a chance to start it. His wife went to live with relatives in North Africa. The woman gave the great uncle the typewriter as a parting gift the day he was let go. The guy put it in his attic and never looked at it again.

When He died, the typewriter, still in its case, went to a second cousin who gave it to another family member. The typewriter, being a thing of the past was about to be donated to the Goodwill. The guy snatched it up and posted it on Craigslist which is where I happened to see it. He said it hadn't been used since the “Author Dude” owned it.

I'm an author myself and a sucker for old typewriters. I'm not sure if I believe the story, but true or not, this is an old Underwood still in its case. It's in great condition. I bought it and took it home.

I'm about ready to start my next book. I've decided to give the old Underwood a try and use it to write my story outline. I spent an hour with it. As I typed, my mind kept wondering. I kept thinking of the original owner. The “Author Dude” as the Craigslist guy called him. I wondered what the book he never had a chance to write would have been about.

I finished off the evening by rolling a clean sheet of paper into the carriage so I'd be ready to go in the morning, then went to bed.

In the middle of the night I woke to a tapping sound, like a typewriter. It was coming from my study. I figured it was my imagination. I must have been dreaming and went back to sleep. The following morning I went into my study to continue with my outline. To my surprise, the clean sheet of paper in the old Underwood had been typed on. It looked to be the title of a book.

The following night I left another clean sheet in the Underwood. I slept through the night. The following morning there was a full chapter on my desk. I read it and it was damn good.

Could it be. Had the original owner of the old Underwood come back to write the “Masterpiece” he had planned to write while he was alive? I set a full ream of paper next to the typewriter and closed the door.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Hampton Family Reunion


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

The Hampton family reunion was a big affair. Multiple generations from across the country were set to meet on the sixth of June on Delmar Hampton's ranch.

Delmar's wife had spent countless hours for a full year putting the plans in place. Invitations were sent, the catering was ordered, the music was planned. Everything was set for the big day. It would be perfect.

A few family members with motor homes arrived early. They helped set up the reunion area. On the sixth, people arrived in droves. It was a reunion like no other.

Mid-way through the day a long black limousine slowly pulled through the front gate and drove down the drive. People couldn't help but notice. Julia, Delmar's wife was standing next to her husband. She nearly choked on her drink when she saw the limo.

Good God, Delmar! Did you invite him?”

No, don't you remember. The subject came up and you threw a fit.”

Well I'm about to throw another. Do something about this. I don't want that man ruining this reunion.”

He is family you know.”

He's a black sheep. He doesn't fit in here and I can't stand him. He's going to ruin everything.”

Oh calm down, Julia. It'll be fine. It's only for a few hours. We can't hardly send him away.”

Then you better deal with him. The sooner the better.”

Delmar headed toward the limo as Julia stood and watched.

Delmar reached the limo just as someone was stepping out. “Hey there little brother, you're late.”

Jason was staggering and Delmar could smell the liquor on his breath. “Late, hell. You never sent me an invitation. I only heard about this little shindig through my Facebook account.”

Not so, Jason. I sent you an invitation. You should have gotten it a month ago.”

Well I have been real busy lately. So, where can a man get a drink around here?”

Delmar stopped him. “Rule number one. Stay away from Julia. I don't want you two causing a scene.”

What? Is she still upset about that little mishap I had with her fancy pony? It was an accident.”

It's that, and everything else you've 'accidentally' destroyed around here.”

I've always made good on my mishaps, haven't I?”

That's not the point. She can't stand you.”

Well she'll have to get used to me, cuz' I got a surprise.”

Please don't tell me you did something to 'liven up' this reunion.”

Nope, but I see Julia. Let's walk over and I'll tell you both together.”

Justin disregarded Delmars first rule and made a beeline for Julia. “Hey there, Julia. I was just telling Delmar I have good news.”

What, you're moving out of the country.”

Nope, it's better.”

Julia was all ears.

I'm retiring and I bought the house next door. We're neighbors.”

Julia's drink hit the ground a split second before she did.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 11, 2019

No Gold in the House


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Max Cliff sat at his dining room table enjoying a bowl of vanilla ice cream with strawberries on top. A knock at the front door startled him.
It's darn near dark. Who would be calling this late, he thought.

He went to the door. As soon as he opened it, two men burst in. One had a handgun. They forced Max back inside and pushed him to the couch.

OK old man, where is it?” Questioned one of the men.

Where's what?” Max was bewildered, not knowing what they were talking about.

Don't play stupid with us. We know you have a stash somewhere around here.”

A stash? I'm no damn pot head.”

We're not talking pot old man. We know you have gold and silver bars...and some money stashed away. We want it.”

You're sadly mistaken, son. I've got none of that here.”

The kid with the gun put a bullet into the couch next to Max. “The next one goes into your gut if you don't cough up the loot you'll be coughing up blood.”

~~~~

Jimmy Catlin was Max's next door neighbor. He was also the head of the areas neighborhood watch group. He noticed the suspicious car out front and he could see something going on in Max's house through the window.

Being an ex-cop he had a good hunch that something wasn't quite right. He slipped his old .357 service revolver into his jacket pocket and walked next door. When he knocked, no one answered. He knocked again. “Come on Max, open the door. I know you're in there.”

The door opened, but it wasn't max. It was the kid with the handgun. “Get in here,” he ordered.

Jim walked in. Seeing Max on the couch he asked him if he was alright.

I'm fine. These punks think I have gold hidden here. I tried to tell them I didn't, but they're not buying it.”

Gold? What makes you boys think ol' Max here has gold?”

We were tipped off by a reliable source. Said he had a stash of hidden gold.”

Well I think your source was wrong, boys. There ain't no gold hidden here.”

How the hell would you know. You don't live here.”

No I don't, but Max is a good friend of mine and I know he doesn't have any gold in the house, other than what's in his mouth.” Jim chuckled at his own joke.

That ain't funny mister. We have it on good authority. There's gold here and we want it, now.”

OK, ok,” replied Jim. “Max, I don't want either if us getting shot. I'm going to show these boys where the lead is hidden.”

We're after gold, not lead,” replied the kid.

Well lead is what you're gonna' get.” Jim quickly pulled his revolver and shot the gun from the kids hand.

Sorry boys. There's no gold's in this house.”

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The New World Order


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Carl Peyton was sixty-nine years old. He hadn't worked in almost five years. Today was the first day of his new job. He was working again. Not because he wanted to, it was because he had to. There was no choice. The new world government made it mandatory for every able bodied man and woman over the age of eighteen and not enrolled in college, to work.

If you went through twelve years of indoctrination, you worked the job you were given. You had no say. If you were a college grad, you went to work in your area of study. You only went to college if it was appointed to you. And that was only if you were a sheep who stood out in the flock by sucking up to the system. If you made trouble, you could expect a job in the mines or the cold country. It was best to toe the line.

Carl Peyton had worked as a home builder all his life. At sixty-five he retired to his three bedroom house and five acre plot of land. His pension and Social Security was more than enough to live out his days in relative ease. He had earned it.

Six months ago all hell broke loose. World Governments were overthrown by a powerful elite only alluded to by so-called crackpots and conspiracy theorists. Most people didn't believe them even though the signs were all around them. Geoengineering, Weather Modification, Agenda 21, Public Education and the Militarization of local police forces were all there but were talked down and outright lied about by National News Organizations.

The NNO's were all part of the control system. Network television in general was used to pacify people by the billions with sporting programs and passive mind control. When the overthrow happened and a world government took over, most people were in a state of shock. Police forces around the world became the local control that kept the peace by either killing or cracking the heads of those who resisted.

Carl Peyton lost his pension and his Social Security. He wasn't alone. Everyone did. He also had his house taken from him. His bank account was drained and he was moved to the city and placed in a 300 square foot apartment with a roommate he didn't even know. To survive, he was assigned a job as a finish carpenter.

If he had refused, he would have been considered a useless eater and sent to a FEMA settlement camp where he would have been forced to comply with the new order or disappear for good. Useless eaters were not part of the program. So Carl complied with it all. Life as he knew it was now over. He should have payed more attention, caused a ruckus when he had the chance. Now it was too late... or was it.

Turns out Carl's new roommate was a wolf in sheep's clothing, and he wasn't alone. Causing a ruckus was still in play.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Early Harvest


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

William, I'm not asking you again. Shut those dogs up!”

I'm watching the teli. I'll do it in a minute.”

William Allen finished off his beer and cracked open another. He took it with him as he went out the back door to where the dogs were tied up.

You boys need to quiet down or the misses will be sending you two down the road. And maybe me right behind you.” He tipped back his beer. When he looked up he almost choked. In the air just above his wheat field were two orbs of light, not much bigger than a basketball.

They were circling the area faster than he could track them. One second they were on his left, the next they were on his right. How they kept from running into each other was beyond Williams understanding.

William ran back toward the house. Tripped on the top step and fell through the door landing in a heap at his wife's feet.

Where's my camera? There's something out there. I have to get a picture before they're gone.”

William picked himself up and ran for the camera. His wife went for the back door. By the time she got there, there was nothing to see. William came running out with his camera. “Where are they?” He exclaimed.

Where are what?” His wife replied.

The orbs. They were flying out over the wheat. Didn't you see them?”

They were gone when I got here. How many beers have you had tonight?”

I tell you, they were there. You'll see. Come tomorrow morning, first light, you'll see.”

I'll see what?” She replied.

What's out there. I know what it is just as sure as I'm standing here.”

William's wife went back into the house without another word.

The following morning, just before dawn, William and his wife were rudely awakened by a loud noise over the house. William put on his robe and ran down the stairs to the back door. When he stepped out he was met by a man in a military uniform. Overhead was a helicopter circling his wheat field. A man was leaning out the side door taking pictures.

When were you going to harvest your wheat?” Asked the soldier.

Not for another week,” replied William.

The plan has changed. You'll harvest it today.”

It ain't ready,” protested William.

Harvest it today or watch it burn,” replied the soldier.

William went back to the house in a huff. “They want me to harvest the wheat,” he told his wife.

But it ain't ready,” she protested.

That's exactly what I said.”

William dressed, hid his camera under his jacket and headed out to the barn. Before he started the combine he climbed up into the loft and looked out over the field. “I knew it. A crop circle.”

William harvested the entire field as the soldier stood by and watched.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Nightmare Too Real


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Oswald Cleaver woke up in a cold sweat. He was dripping wet, breathing heavy and shaking uncontrollably.

He didn't move a muscle, but scanned the dark room with his eyes. Nothing. He listened intently. Nothing. It must have been a dream, he thought. It sure seemed real.

Oswald cautiously got out of bed. The sheets were soaking wet. He stumbled into the bathroom and turned on the light, looked in the mirror and screamed.

He was covered in blood.

He immediately started to wash himself off looking for the source of the bleeding. There was none.

Feeling sick to his stomach, he sat on the toilet and relieved himself, then threw up in the sink.

He stepped into the shower and let the tepid water beat down on him as he sat on the floor trying to recall the nightmare. Was it a dream or was it real? Oswald couldn't decide. It seemed like a dream, but where did the blood come from?

The shower stall seemed smaller than he remembered, and the color didn't seem quite right.

He remembered walking down a dark street in an unfamiliar town. He was lost and needed some direction. Whenever he tried to speak, nothing coherent would come out of his mouth. Just a bunch of garbled nonsense, like he had a mouth full of marbles.

He had his cell phone on him but he couldn't make it work. Every time he tried to punch in a number he would hit the wrong one. Then the thing just went dead altogether.

He kept walking and soon found himself in a bad part of town. No matter which way he went, it only got worse. Soon people were giving him dirty looks and asking him what he thought he was doing in their part of town. He was beginning to get nervous. The people were beginning to look pale and moving slow, as if they were the living dead.

Soon they started to crowd in on him. Pushing him. Reaching out. Tearing at his clothes. He tried to run but couldn't get his feet to move fast. He tried to call for help, but still nothing would come out.

He began to fight back but his punches had little affect. For some reason he found he had a knife in his hand. He lashed out with it. Several people were bleeding but they kept after him. He didn't stop and soon found an opening where he crawled through the crowd.

He moved as fast as he could. They were behind him now but not far enough. He kept moving. They were catching up to him. Suddenly he was at his house. He ran inside and locked the door.

Then he woke up.

Oswald decided it was a dream. It had to be. Suddenly he heard loud banging at the front door. He ran to the window and looked out. They had found him and they wanted in.

Seems Oswald was still dreaming after all.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Leaving Home


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Charlie Hackle and his wife of seven years were not getting along.
It had been a tumultuous marriage from the beginning and Charlie had had enough. One morning he told his wife, Rebecca, he was going to the store. After several hours passed, Rebecca started to get concerned. She convinced herself that he had probably stopped off someplace for a drink. It was becoming a regular habit with him.

By evening, she was concerned enough to call his cell. There was no answer. Now she was worried enough to make a few phone calls to friends and family. No one had seen him all day. She called the local hospital but no one named Charlie Hackle had been admitted.

Charlie didn't come home that night and in the morning Rebecca called the police on the off chance he may have been arrested for something. They had no record of him being arrested. She then filed a missing person report.

A week went by, then two. Rebecca was beside herself. Was he hurt and laying in a ditch somewhere? Was he dead or had he just up and left her? The worst of it was she didn't know for sure.

~~~~

Charlie Hackle had had enough. He couldn't take the screaming, fighting, nagging and door slamming any longer. He told his wife he was heading to the store. He stopped off at a bar in town and nursed a couple of cold beers trying to decide what to do. He didn't want to go back home.

He decided to get a room for the night. He didn't call his wife and he turned off his cell, knowing she would try to call it. He didn't want to get into it with her over the phone.

In the morning, Charlie went to his bank and withdrew half the savings from his account. He got in his car and started to drive, not knowing where he was going. He only knew he was getting away, and the farther the better.

With each new day he felt more at ease and with each new day he felt more remorse. He knew he should contact Rebecca and at least let her know he was alright. He just couldn't do it.

~~~~

A full week had gone by. Charlie was torn between disappearing for good and returning to try and salvage his wreck of a marriage. Against what he thought to be his better judgment, he turned the car around and headed back toward home. He needed to try and work things out.

Two weeks had gone by when Charlie pulled into the driveway. He went to the front door, took a deep breath and cautiously stepped in. When Rebecca saw him she had two choices. Either accept the fact that they had issues and try to work them out or tear into him for what he had done. She decided to tear into him.

This time, Charlie felt much better about driving away from Rebecca.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Coast Rail Challenge


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

His name was Saul Porter. He was a travelin' man. On the road for three years come June.

The road was a stretch of tracks along the Pacific Coast between Seattle and Los Angeles. He knew them well as he had traversed them from one end to the other on several occasions.

Saul wasn't your ordinary homeless and hungry transient living on the streets of some big city. He was a self made transient, or hobo as he preferred to be called. He shunned the city streets and kept to the tracks. Living off the land and the generosity of others. He did odd jobs in exchange for food or money. Was always polite and as clean as he could keep himself.

Three years ago Saul Porter was an American history professor. Specializing in the early twentieth century depression years. Particularly the life of the American Hobo. He was in his thirties, had a good job and money in the bank. His friends knew of his “hobo obsession” as they called it. How he would drive to the coast from his home in Eugene, Oregon and wander down to the tracks that ran along the rim of the west coast. How he looked for hobo's just passing through and gathered information for a book he planned to write some day.

One day a friend challenged him. “You'll never know what it's really like unless you live the life yourself. Take a year and become a hobo.”

Saul accepted the challenge. In late June he packed up a few essentials, put a twenty dollar bill in his pocket and hit the road.

Saul wasn't an authentic hobo? He had the luxury of knowing he would be home in a year. That he could stop at any time. Even so, he tried to make the experience as authentic as possible.

There was a definite learning curve involved. Meeting up and camping with other homeless men along the tracks could be challenging. Some were genuinely nice, but most only wanted what they could get from him. No one used their real name, so he gave himself the moniker of Moukey. He learned to keep his personal possessions close and to keep a wary eye on anyone who appeared overly friendly.

He learned to hop slow moving freight trains and enjoy the passing scenery from a box car door. Food was a challenge and Moukey quickly learned what plants were edible, where to find fruit and berries and how to make due with little. Hobo stew became a staple.

Finding odd jobs close to the tracks was challenging but not impossible. People were generally helpful if he was sincere and polite. Whenever he had more than he needed, he shared it with others in need. They did the same. It was one of the many unspoken rules he learned along the way.

After a year, Moukey decided to extend the challenge to three. Only then would he feel qualified to write about the experience.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Cub Reporter Story: Mobile Sentinel Security


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

I had just gotten to work when my boss approached me.

Don't take off that jacket. I have a lead for you.”

what have you got?”

Have you ever heard of a company called Mobile Sentinel Security?”

Nope, can't say I have.”

They've been under the radar for years developing high tech security stuff. They say they've developed an interesting product and for reasons they're not sharing they want to take it public. I told them we'd take a look. Here's the address. Bring me back something good.”

~~~~

I walked into Mobile Sentinel Security and introduced myself to the receptionist. She looked at me as if trying to recall something. When it hit her she smiled, came around the desk and shook my hand. “Yes, Scott from the Daily News. You're expected. We have high security here, you'll have to put on this name badge.”

This doesn't seem like high security to me, I thought.
I put on the badge and followed her.

Is that Paul Sebastian after shave you're wearing?” She asked.

Yes it is, you have a good sense of smell.”

Yes, I do,” she replied.

We entered a conference room where two men introduced themselves as Jack Robinson and Paul Basco. Paul asked me to take a seat. He started right in. “Scott, you've been invited here today because it's time for MSS to go public with our newest security product. This product has been under development for the past ten years. It's the most sophisticated high tech security product in the world. It goes well beyond anything the general public is aware of. That's about to change.”

So what's the product?” I asked.

I'll unveil it to you in a minute. First let me tell you what it's capable of. From the moment you walked in the front door you've gone through a sophisticated series of security clearances which includes a face recognition scan, retina scan, voice scan, fingerprint scan, smell detection scan, sound scan and a detailed background check. We've learned more about you in the past ten minutes than those who've known you for years.”

How's that possible?” I asked. “All I did was put on this badge. That doesn't seem like State of the art security to me?”

Jack suddenly spoke up. “Scott, let me introduce you to our newest product.”

This is Paul.” He stood up, removed Paul's scalp and opened the back of his head revealing an array of sophisticated electronics and the fact that for the past fifteen minutes I'd been interacting with a robot.

I was amazed. “Do you mean to tell me all the while I've been sitting here this robot has been scanning me?”

We prefer to call then androids, and the answer is no. We had total access to your information before you entered the room. It was all done by Haley, our android receptionist.

Needless to say, I had my story.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Wake-up Call


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Samantha Gale was a party girl. A very rich and very beautiful party girl. She was also spoiled rotten. Her self centered shallow mind didn't think much beyond her selfish ambitions, and in that, she was very focused.

Her money came from her parents. A highly successful industrialist and his materialistic wife who excelled at the art of spending money on expensive and worthless things. Everything Samantha knew she learned from her parents.

Samantha's saving grace was that she understood numbers more than most. Certain people tended to overlook her shallow view of the world in order to gain access to her uncanny ability to choose favorable stock positions in undervalued companies just by glancing through their spreadsheet.

Samantha didn't realize she was being used. She thought it was just a parlor game that made her the center of attention.

The world began to change for Samantha on the day her parents were suddenly killed in a plane crash. Everything was left to her, but she had no clue about how to manage any of it. Her fathers private lawyer offered to handle the family fortune for her. She blindly agreed.

Within months she began to grow curious about just what her late father owned and at the suggestion of a good friend she sat down with her lawyer to go over the estate in detail. The lawyer didn't realize Samantha had a head for numbers so didn't try to explain the financial details of the companies she now owned.

When she asked for copies of the companies books he almost laughed out loud. He gave them to her and she spent the rest of the day going over them. What she found out shocked her.

The numbers didn't add up. She asked her good friend, who ran a successful company of her own, to come by. She had questions she knew her friend could answer.

That evening Samantha pointed out certain discrepancies in each of her companies finances. The two women concluded that all the books were being manipulated by her accountants, and her lawyer was skimming a healthy sum of money off the remaining profit before it was deposited into Samantha's bank account.

It was the wake-up call she needed. It was time to take hold of the reins of her empire before she lost the entire fortune to opportunists.

With the help of her good friend she hired honest companies to help her. Once everything was in place, she brought in lawyers who filed charges against the accountants and her lawyer.

She took pleasure in stopping by his office with two officers at her side. She personally handed him the warrant. He was speechless as the officers cuffed him. Samantha's smile spoke volumes.

Over time, Samantha went through a miraculous transformation. She dropped her self centered shallowness and her mothers spendthrift ways. She slowly took on more of her fathers business sense and grew her empire. She started several charitable organizations dedicated to helping people in need.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Chester Franks, Nobody Special


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

The old man lived in a modest house in a middle class neighborhood.
He didn't entertain or socialize. His neighbors didn't know much about him. He was a recluse who kept to himself. The neighbors talked about him among themselves. It was a game to them as they tried to figure out more about him.

All they knew was his name. That happened when one of the neighbors accidentally got his electric bill delivered to their box. The neighbor took it over to him. He graciously thanked the man but didn't invite him in. If someone saw him outside, they would say hello and he would respond in kind, but no conversation ensued.

His name was Chester Franks. That was known. A couple of the more nosy neighbors did some online research. There were several Chester Franks, but no way of knowing which one was correct. One was rich and secretive. One was a noted author who hadn't been heard from in awhile and one was nobody special. No one wanted to foot the bill for a private investigator to find out for sure, so it was generally assumed that their Chester Franks was nobody special.

Chester always took care of his property. He hired a maintenance company to keep the yard clean and the lawn mowed. His groceries were delivered. He didn't own a car but took a cab somewhere every now and again. Usually with a pet carrier. It was assumed he had a cat. One that never went outside.

One day in late Summer, there was some excitement in Chester's yard. The neighbor across the street noticed a couple of teenage boys picking on Chester who happened to be outside. As he walked across the street to intervene one of the kids punched Chester and they took off running.

The neighbor helped him into his house. It was the first time anyone had seen the inside. The house was very well kept. A bookcase held many books. An old Underwood No. 5 typewriter sat on a desk and a stack of papers sat next to it. Chester thanked the neighbor for his help and then did something out of the ordinary. He offered the neighbor a cup of coffee. The neighbor accepted and for a full hour he listened as Chester reveal the most fantastic life.

He was not the man they had all thought, but the well known and very prolific author who had not been heard from for a time. He talked about how he first enjoyed but eventually shunned the fame his books had brought him, so he took a pen name. When those books became popular, he changed his name again. He had written over fifty books. Thirty were best sellers and seven had been made into movies. He was a millionaire several times over.

Chester Franks was both rich and famous, but all he really wanted was to be nobody special. Just a simple man who enjoyed his writing and his privacy.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Johnson and Johnston (With a T)


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Eric Johnson and Eric Johnston (with a T) were good friends. They had known each other since their college days. Their names were constantly being confused with each other. It was always an honest mistake by people not paying close enough attention.

One evening in late October, the two men were returning from a football game where they watched the home team kick butt. They were in a good mood, laughing and joking. Eric Johnson was driving and not paying close enough attention to the road. A drunk driver pulled out in front of him and they hit the car head on at close to fifty miles an hour.

The cars were mangled. The emergency crew worked hard at getting both Eric's stabilized, transported to the local hospital and admitted to the emergency room.

Eric Johnson was unconscious. He had a ruptured spleen, two broken ribs, a head injury and a broken right leg. He had also lost quite a bit of blood. As soon as he was able, That is, if he survived, he would undergo emergency surgery to remove his spleen.

Eric Johnston (with a T) was in better shape. He was conscious but in a lot of pain. He was given some medication that pretty much knocked him out. He also had a head injury, a back injury and a broken left leg.

The doctors in charge were moving fast to get the two Eric's out of danger and into the recovery room as soon as possible.

Their wives were notified and were soon at the hospital. One of the emergency room doctors came out to consult with the two women. He had a copy of their charts and went over their injuries and how they were currently being treated. When the women asked to see the charts they realized the doctor had mixed the two up. Mrs. Johnson's husband was about to undergo surgery for a ruptured spleen and Mrs. Johnston (with a T) realized it was her husband who had the back injury.

The women quickly pointed out the mistake to the doctor and were quite adamant about making sure the right Eric went into surgery. The doctor assured them it was an honest mistake and that that type of a mix up only happened on television. There were protocols in place to protect the patient and the hospital from such accidents. No such thing would happen here.

After visiting with the two women, the doctor went back to the emergency room. Just to be on the safe side he decided to check the charts. As he looked at the chart of Eric Johnson he noticed a discrepancy. This Eric had a broken right leg, but the chart showed a broken left leg.

He went to check the chart of Eric Johnston (with a T) but found the patient and the chart were gone. “Where's Eric Johnston?” He asked the charge nurse.

They just rolled him down to surgery to remove his ruptured spleen.”

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Sultan's Lamp


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Jared was visiting his parents ranch in Arizona for the Holidays. He had grown up here and knew the property well. He recalled an entrance to a small cave he had found as a kid. Being an adult now, he wanted to satisfy his curiosity and had come prepared to explore it.

It took him a couple of hours to relocate the entrance. It was small and he had to dig it out in order to squeeze in. Not sure as to what the cave might be like inside, he came prepared with lights and rope. To his surprise and disappointment, it wasn't a grand cavern. In fact it wasn't much larger than a good sized room. There was clear evidence of animals having used it. As he looked closer he found where a fire had once been made.

Jared searched for Native American artifacts. He knew if he found any he would have to report them to the proper authorities. There was nothing Native American, but what he did find surprised him. It was an old lantern. Someone had already been here. The lantern was old. Probably a couple hundred years.

Jared also found a small wood box hidden in a crevice. It was ornate with leather straps. He took it outside to get a good look at it in the light of day. When he opened it, he was shocked. Inside was a small oil lamp and a few foreign looking gold coins. The lamp looked to be solid gold with small jewels adorning it. There was also some writing on it that he couldn't read.

He took the lamp back to his parents house and showed them what he had found. They kindly let Jared keep it. He was tempted to rub it to see if a genie would appear, but resisted.

He took it home and tucked it in a closet for safekeeping. After some deep research he found it to be from Morocco. It was very old and worth a small fortune...unless it was a particular lamp he had read about called the Sultan's Lamp. A lamp that once belonged to a rich Sultan from Arabia. It had mysteriously disappeared along with other treasures. Everything had been found and returned except for the lamp.

If this was it, he would be obligated to return it.

Jared sent an image of the writing to a friend of his. A university professor who would be able to translate it.

The professor got back to him immediately. “Do you know what you have?” he asked.

No, that's why I contacted you.”

I'll be at your house in one hour.”

The professor confirmed his suspicions. The Sultan's Lamp had indeed been found. Now the question was what to do with it.

After careful consideration, the decision was made to not return it, but to sell it on the black market. The lamp once again disappeared.

Jared and the Professor retired and lived out their lives like kings.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.