A Little Song, a Little Dance…

Prompt: Bury


Dear Wednesday,

Have you ever made a speech at a funeral? I haven’t. I’ve lost my fear of speaking in front of small groups but there is no way I could pull myself together (and I’m not proud of this) and speak about someone I loved who had just died, without getting choked up, weepy, and unable to pay them proper respect. I did write the occasional eulogy which my older brother would then read. Are you, as a writer, asked to compose eulogies or newspaper notices?

In any case, may I present, in lieu of a selection of my favourite cartoons, the classic excerpt from the Mary Tyler Moore show, The Funeral of Chuckles the Clown.


And, ok, just one of my favourite cartoons, very tangentially related to today’s word prompt:

cartoon surpise dog in heaven


Joy, long life, and surprises…

~~FP

 

Pity

Prompt: Savage

fragonard woman with dog

“Pity!” Eleanor called. “Pity! Where are you?” She didn’t know whether to go left or right. “Pity! Where have you gone?”

Pity was about six blocks away. She heard the children’s voices from the Theodore T. Buttz-Montgomery Elementary School. They were on recess, and the squealing from the playground both attracted and frightened Pity, who could not resist moving a little closer.

Poppy Donovan stood on the concrete at the edge of the basketball court, looking out at the Adventure Playground, as they called it, though it was mainly a series of ladders and platforms painted bright blues and yellows. She was a substitute teacher, here today by virtue of Mrs Simmons contracting food poisoning from a chicken taco. Poppy would have liked full time work, but with three children aged three, ten, and seventeen, she had only a few hours a week to spare. She loved teaching, and at her in-home job as a kind of telephone companion, she often found herself dropping interesting facts about history or geography, much to her clients’ confusion.

In ancient Greece the courtesan Neaera, was so beloved by her patrons they organized to buy her freedom. From then on she gained the honorific, “Herself mistress of herself.”

She was a fierce parent to her children, savagely protective, and these children, laughing and running and climbing, were her children for the day. So when she saw Pity, not even half a block away, approaching slowly with her head down, she momentarily froze.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is one of the so-called bully breeds often labeled a pit bull. In fact, “pit bull” isn’t a breed, but a term used to describe the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Height: 1 foot, 5 inches to 1 foot, 7 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 30 to 85 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 16 years

Poppy Donovan approached the Adventure Playground, saying in a steady but firm voice. “Children, move back into the classroom now.”

Young voices rose and squealed and cajoled.

Pity raised her ears, looked up, and caught Poppy’s eye.

Human beings involuntarily give off chemicals called pheromones when they are alarmed. Because a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than ours, most likely a dog can detect those chemicals.

Walk, don’t run,” said Poppy.

Pity saw action, movement, and a tall thin woman staring, and it looked interesting. She picked up her pace to a trot.

Poppy now had a greater distance to get to the door of the school than the distance between her and the dog. She screamed.

Pity barked. She pinned her ears back. She was confused.

Poppy made a run for it, and Pity continued her trot, and then heard Eleanor’s voice getting louder and louder as she ran down the street towards them.

“Pity! Pity, come!”

Eleanor had a leash, and clipped it to Pity’s collar. “Naughty girl,” she said, “running off like that.”

“I’m going to call the police,” Poppy said to Eleanor. “Your vicious dog put my children in danger.”

Pity the pit bull dropped to the ground and rolled over, exposing the breast nubs on her belly. Eleanor gave her a good scratch, for not running away before she could clip on the leash. Then she stood up straight and spoke directly to Poppy.

“Sorry you were scared. Pity is harmless, even when she’s frightened, which is a good thing in a dog. If you want to teach those kids to be frightened by something they don’t understand, instead of learning about it, then you are going about it the right way. C’mon, Pity.”

Poppy watched them skirt the basketball court and cross the parking lot to the sidewalk. They disappeared around a corner.

It only takes a brief look at the history of pit bulls to realize that the dogs are not the problem; the humans who misuse them are. For over a hundred years, holding the owners personally responsible was enough to prevent attacks, and the breed was perceived as very child-friendly. With outreach and education, it may be possible to restore that image and rehabilitate the pit bull’s reputation, restoring an iconic American dog to its rightful place among mankind’s best friends.


Overthinking

Prompt: Roots


Wednesday! Here you are again.

It is spring, and here at home we are cleaning up last year’s weeds and debris, including those insidious roots that run under the grass and sand. We human beings think we are so smart, but roots are smarter. They come back no matter what we do to prevent them, so I have to give roots a lot of credit. We should devote more study to roots and other persistent indestructibles, like cockroaches.

Moving on from nightmare insects, another kind of root is our ancestry… we all have roots in the same primitive family that may have had the very conversation as the first of a group of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon they're all neanderthals


The other cartoons have no connection to the prompt “roots”, but it’s Wednesday, and they are about cats and dogs.

cartoon cat exec with string


cartoon dogs overthinking


Happy Wednesday!

~~FP

Just a Hint of Lime

Prompt: Champion


Since the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, which was one of the best nights of my existence, my life has lost all meaning. I was comfortable, content, smug, superior, self-congratulatory, and happy in my role as die-hard supporter of the greatest underdogs in baseball history. The Cubs previously won the World Series in 1908, you see, and that is more than a dry spell, that is lying for millennia in the desert at mid-day with your tongue hanging out. Then 2016 and the skies opened and the desert bloomed and my identity skidded into the ditch like a Harley in a rainstorm.

The upside, besides YAY!, is that so many people, of so many generations of Cubs’ fans, have said, “If only the Cubbies would win a World Series before I die”. And many passed away cruelly unfulfilled. Now, however, since 2016, people can die in peace. I am sincerely curious about the number of deaths in the months following the win, compared to other years.

Instead of dwelling on dreams fulfilled and life’s meaning erased, let’s have a look at a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is only tenuously related to today’s prompt, Champion:

cartoon baseball symphony


 

cartoon dog food and lime water


cartoon bees outside


Have a happy week!

~~FP

Focus Group

Prompt: Nervous


Hello Wednesday,

A little while ago I listened to a sample lesson from an online course about meditation. It was the usual routine (from what I’ve sampled): starting with the relaxing of every body part, and steps deeper and deeper, a scene by a lake, drifting in a boat…

Hello? Oh right, anyway this lesson also had me slowly clench my right fist, and then suggested that I could reach the same ultra relaxed state in the future quickly by simply forming the same fist. Guess what? It works.

If I’m feeling a bit stressed or nervous, it is a good relaxation technique, providing I’m not driving or operating heavy machinery.

Relating to the theme of nervous, may I present a favourite cartoon, followed by two others that are not related, but tickled my stressless funny bone anyway:

nervous cat


dog walk


focus group


Have a healthy, stress-free week!

~~Fluffy

Heat

Prompt: Desire

ring-necked-pheasant8d

I found a new home, not far from the farm. It’s a very small three-room cottage set amid an acreage that used to be farmland, now undeveloped and overgrown, just the way I like it. Little creatures of the usually neglected kind, like field mice and quail, have set up homes here; with new species, I’m sure, finding refuge from urban sprawl, building nests and homes too. I thought I saw a pheasant fly up in all it’s feathered brilliance when I accidentally slammed the screen door on my way out to the porch with my morning coffee.

Now I’m tap-tapping on my laptop, just as fast as I use to type, yet less accurate. I don’t keyboard much anymore, since I decided my days as a human being are numbered.

But I want to write this down in case things change. In case my step-daughter Melanie ever forgives me and wants to know what happened.

God, when I am in human form I miss so much the smells of the world! I miss my courage in the face of death— the complete lack of fear about the future. As a lone woman swaying on my porch swing, tap-tapping —oh! a soft grey doe and fawn just emerged from the broken fence, and are now grazing on sweet grass and new willow— as a lone woman, I feel all the anxieties that a complex world nourishes, and long for the simplicity of Maxine.

Yes, Maxine. I have almost stopped shape-shifting into any other creature, so much have I become Maxine. She is perfect, loving, fair; she sleeps without dread and wakes with enthusiasm and gratitude. She eats with appetite, she notices everything and cares about nothing.

She is (I am) in heat right now. This is something I hadn’t anticipated, but in any case it seemed a good time to come to the cottage for a day or two. Fortune (his new name) has healed rapidly and has stopped shaking when anyone comes near; he’s plumped up, the gaps in his fur have almost gone, and he has taken a great liking to me. I’m not sure I’m ready for— I can’t even write it down. I’m not ready to procreate like a dog. There. Crazy.

Mama deer has spotted me. I don’t have the calming, magical serenity of Bernard, and so she is staring at me, utterly motionless, as deer do. Then she and her fawn make their way off the property, across the broken fence again, and disappear into a copse of silver birch, just to be sure.

It’s a dangerous world. And an absurd one.

 


  • Image: RL Kothenbeutel

Superpowers

Prompt: Criticize

cars-buried-in-snow-2-1

Fred Mullen was not the handsomest man. He was of very average height, with a slight paunch, and a face that was chronically hard to shave, who was greying in a decidedly unromantic way, and whose features were anything but symmetrical.

He was not the smartest man. No one encouraged him to go to college; they could see as clear as the moon on a cloudless night that Fred’s talent was to be mediocre.

But Fred Mullen was a loyal man. When people were kind to him, he returned the kindness with an unwavering loyalty. If people treated him with respect, he repaid that respect with trust and fidelity.

So, he sat in the driver’s seat of his green, 1994 Volvo 960 sedan and watched the man who lived at 339 Havenridge Crescent. He took pictures of the man with his cellphone. When the man got into his own car, Fred followed him a discreet distance behind.

Over the course of two weeks, just hanging out at 339 Havenridge Crescent on his off hours, Fred got to know the man’s routine. The man mostly worked at a run down auto mechanic shop, breaking down old vehicles into salvageable parts and scrap. Fred half-suspected that the cars he worked on were stolen. But that was not his business, not right now.

The man was paid in cash daily for this work.

The man was younger than Fred, and average height, just like Fred, but much thinner, though on weekends Fred followed him to the community gym, set up in the basement of the high school. Fred used his powers of invisibility to follow the man inside the gym and also peeked into the dressing room. These powers were not supernatural: Fred was simply a nondescript, forgettable, middle-aged man of no apparent consequence.

The man used the weight equipment to build up his triceps and biceps. So while he was a bit of a scrawny person, his arms were strong and well-developed. He had multiple scars on his back. Fred took a picture of the man and his back, while seeming to be talking on his cellphone.

A red-headed woman sometimes came to the house at 339 Havenridge Crescent, and sometimes stayed for several days. At the beginning of the second week of Fred’s casual surveillance, the woman moved out of the house, strapped to a stretcher and carried off in an ambulance.

Fred took pictures. It looked like she’d had a bad accident.

Fred found out the woman’s name, by speaking to the EMT driver, who was on the same bowling team as Fred.

One snowy afternoon, when Fred’s Volvo proved again to be a match for winter conditions, he was calmly observing the man’s house when two dogs appeared. One looked a little straggly, but curled up on the porch. It looked a bit like the dog Fred had occasionally seen tied up in the yard during previous visits.

A short while later an old man and a teenager arrived at the man’s house and had some kind of altercation with him at the front door. One of the dogs bit the man in the balls. Fred had to wince. He didn’t interfere, but he took pictures with his cellphone.

He put his notes and printed-off pictures into a clean, new manilla folder, and the next time he had a shift in the regular part of the prison, he left the folder under the pillow of Miss Fisher’s bunk, while the inmates were taking exercise in the indoor courtyard. He liked Miss Fisher. Always had.