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Louder without content is the modern way
Thoughtless screaming masses with a lot to say
Memes shall lead us forward, standard for us all
Without thought or content happy to catcall

Laugh at intellectuals, they’re all out of touch
Thinking is for losers, wherefore art thou Rush?
Denigrate the mustache, or the bulging pooch
Research is for losers, devil’s on the loose

Repeat ad infinitum transparent lies
Garbage from trough swilling in no way belies
Obvious contradictions of simple facts
Unearthed with some research: Got no time for that

Easier to hold tight to absurdities
Flatter the Fat Tyrant, Sword of Damocles
“I serve at the pleasure of the president,”
Who can fail to see humanity’s been rent?

We have our own Great Leader, Dotard on The Hill
Who extols our past greatness way pitchman will
Man that rules our nation, leader of Free World,
Like Dorian’s portrait his evil’s unfurled

Stand and face the nation, vile Head of State
must undo your evil, pray it’s not too late
See yourself as master, perhaps even god?
Clothes Emperor’s wearing must leave him cold

Power to The Sheeple! Those who bleat and moan
About strength of character Great Leader owns
Evil touted as goodness, weakness as strength
Donny’s moral standards lower’n a snake’s

“I serve at the pleasure of the president,”
Modern way is screaming without thought content
Research is for losers, devil’s on the loose
Repeat ad infinitum lies passed off as truth


Vanishing Point: Fifteen of 101


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Stacie Shannon had dealt with volatile parents in the past but the level of Marti Kohnen’s anger in response to the minor inconvenience of being made to wait ten minutes at dismissal time was not something she’d even considered as she’d mentally worked her way through the necessary steps in following up on Skylar’s certainty that her dead father had visited the Interlachen playground. At school conferences when the focus of conversation had been on Sara’s school progress, Stacie had conversed almost exclusively with Mark Kohnen. When Stacie was praising Sara, Marti had remained largely unresponsive, so much so that the woman had checked her phone multiple times during that phase of the meeting.

When the conversations shifted from the myriad things Sara did well to the few areas of concern Stacie had for the little girl, Marti Kohnen had eclipsed her husband and become the couple’s driving force. The meeting’s dynamic had been so odd and unpleasant that at the end of conferences Stacie had mentioned to Louise Henagar how Marti became far more attentive when talk turned to the child’s weaknesses and had wondered to her fellow teacher about the toxicity of Marti and Sara’s interactions. The interactions that Stacie had with Marti left her feeling that Sara’s mother had what Stacie labeled a sugar icing personality, one that was sickeningly sweet on the outside but that covered over a most unpalatable interior. An exterior that, as today indicated, was easily washed away at the first sign of inconvenience to Mrs. Marti Kohnen.

Stacie consciously squelched her desire to lambaste Marti and tell her exactly what she thought of her saccharine exterior with its just beneath the surface poison and instead chose to remain plaintive and placating. “Oh, Mrs. Kohnen, I’m so sorry, it’s just that Skylar was deeply troubled, and I promised her that I’d follow up on what she thinks happened and I felt it best to let you know. I’ll call her mother and fill her in. Again, so sorry to have inconvenienced you.” Stacie diverted her gaze from Mrs. Kohnen and addressed the girls. “I’ll see you on Monday, girls. Have a great weekend together,” she said before turning on her heel and departing the scene before anyone could respond.

“Weekend?!” Marti demanded of Sara. “Who said anything about a weekend? I said overnight. Skylar, your mother knows that we’re dropping you off tomorrow, right?”

Skylar had stood frozen, head down and eyes tilted up, from the beginning of Marti’s tirade, hiding behind her friend in an unconscious attempt to be invisible to Sara’s marauding mother. In response to Marti’s sharp voiced inquiry the girl looked up the bare minimum required to make eye contact and responded with four minute nods of her head.

“Are you certain?” Marti demanded.

“Yes,” Skylar said in a trembling voice so soft that even Sara could barely hear.

“Was that a yes?” Marti asked harshly. “You need to speak up, girl. I can’t hear a word that you’re saying.”

“Yes, Marti,” Sara interjected. “She said yes. Er, I think you’re scaring her.”

“What? Don’t be ridiculous. Why would I be scaring her?” Marti inquired, voice flinty hard. “Listen, if you’re scared, Skylar, I can drive you home now if you’d like. Is that what you girls would prefer?”

“No, Marti!” Sara wailed immediately as Skylar shook her head back and forth, eyes downcast.

Marti sighed, shook her head and said, “Wow. This is shaping up to be a stellar sleepover so far. Okay, put your helmet in your backpack and let’s go,” she added, staring at the girls.

Sara did as instructed and then looked back at her stepmother, head turned to the side and tilted, unsure what to do next. “Well?” Marti asked, “are you going to get your bike, or shall we leave it here?”

“Oh. Right. Okay,” Sara responded, nodding her head vigorously. “The bike. Okay,” she added as she twirled the bike lock’s tumblers to 0, 3, 1, 9 and freed it from the rack, “Okay. Ready.”

“Marvelous,” Marti responded the corners of her mouth downturned, shaking her head in dismay. “This is going to be the best sleepover ever,” she said sarcastically.

Skylar looked at Sara who said, “Come on, Skylar. It’ll be okay. We’re parked over at the church. Come on,” she added, following in Marti’s wake, “we’ll load the bike in the SUV and then drive home.”

Dynamic Duo (Plus One!)


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     Up until my fifty-fifth birthday two-years-ago, I thought I was aging well, then fate, genetics or karma pulled the rug out from under my feet. Seemingly overnight, I went from being fit and fast (for an old man) to pain filled and glacial. Activities that I once enjoyed, running, cycling, swimming, HIT Tabata workouts and hiking, became unbearable. Aching, twisted joints and ever-present pain are huge deterrents to activity and my wife, a hard-driving, gifted athlete, wondered where her training partner had gone.

     Depression and weight gain led to a downward spiral that interfered more and more with daily life. Having moved to Trinity, Florida I began to visit chiropractor Stelios Zografakis, who helped this spiral to slow and then lessen. Stelios Spine and Health, in conjunction with massage therapist Genevieve Courtwright, brought back a shadow of my former self, but moving from Florida to Raleigh stopped my chiropractic visits

     I knew stopping chiropractic was a big mistake. After all, I’ve seen three chiropractors in three states since I was thirty-five and over the score of years have learned that the older I get the more help I need in health maintenance. I knew it, I just didn’t follow up.

     I didn’t follow up until the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune became so bad that I needed relief just to get through my day and that was when I began visiting Tri Myers of Omega Chiropractic in Cary, North Carolina. Doctor Myers, along with physical therapist Carolyn Baskir are a hard-working Dynamic Duo laboring to put ol’ Humpty-Dumpty together again.

     My proximate cause for seeking relief is constant pain on the left side of my neck that fluctuates between moderate to severe and is accompanied with restricted mobility. That’s the big pain-in-the-neck, but Dr. Myers paid close attention to my complaints of joint pain and swelling along with my eating habits. We’re working not just to correct the life-robbing issue of neck pain and lack of mobility, but also to increase quality of life through diet, stretching and specific, problem-area strength-training.

     Physical Therapist Carolyn Baskir is a patient instructor/task-master/cheer-leader all rolled into one. I am not the most coordinated of old men and Carolyn listens patiently and instructs adroitly as she works to help me increase my quality of life by repeated tutelage of exercises that put me on a path to greater strength and flexibility.

    And don’t let me neglect Alfred, er, Vera Barrett! Vera is Omega Chiropractic’s Girl-Friday, a warm and welcoming, dead-pan deliverer of a receptionist/office-goddess/majordomo. I seem to have developed a penchant for forgetting the exact time of my Omega Chiropractic appointment and Vera shakes her head and laughs off my befuddled call asking, “Hey, Vera. It’s Keith Kenel, when was my appointment again?”

    Today marks three weeks under the Omega team care; I’d like to say my recovery from pain, improper diet, poor posture and swollen, aching joints enjoyed a miraculous, instantaneous recovery. I’d like to, but I can’t. I know that recovery, rehabilitation and rediscovery of my wife’s training partner will take time and effort and here’s to the team that’s helping me find a path back to a life that is less painful and more enjoyable.

     Light up the Bat Signal! I’m off to see my Dynamic Duo!

Vanishing Point: Fourteen of 101


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     The wall clock in Stacie Shannon’s third-grade classroom room read four-oh-three and only she, Sara Kohnen and Skylar Kisor remained in the room. Sara was visibly agitated, and Miss Shannon was confident that the little girl was concerned that her mother would chastise her for having remained inside Interlochen school a third of an hour after dismissal time. “Girls?” she asked her two students, “Sorry to keep you till the very last but I wanted to speak to your mother, Sara. I waited until everyone else was dismissed before releasing you, so I could come out with you and have a little chat with her.”

     Stacie’s brow knitted in surprise at Sara’s mouth opened, eyes widened, and shoulders drooped response. “Oh!” she said, quickly assessing the girl’s non-verbal response. “You haven’t done anything wrong! I just wanted to mention Skylar’s strange playground sighting, that’s all! If you’re ready, we’ll go find your mom and then you two can head off to your overnight together.”

     Sara’s immediate release of tension was obvious as she declared, “Woo! When you said that, I was afraid that I’d done something wrong! Skylar? You ready?”

     Skylar brought up her right cheek in a crooked grin and declared, “Sure am! Let’s get this shoe on the road.”

     Miss Shannon tilted her head to the side, looked down at Skylar and asked, “Did you say shoe, Skylar? Are you sure you didn’t mean, show on the road?”

     Skylar retracted her head in response, brought her eyebrows together and replied, “Show? Miss Shannon, I don’t mean to sass you none, but that doesn’t make a lick of sense. We don’t puts shows on the road, we puts shows on TV. We puts shoes on the road. Everybody knows that. Sometimes you say the strangest things. No offense, ma’am.”

     Stacie began to respond with an explanation of the idiom’s origin, immediately changed her mind and instead smiled and said, “None taken. Now, let’s go find Mrs. Marti. Oh. And Skylar?” she continued, pulling the slip of paper with Caleb Ezra Morse’s name written on it, “remind me of your mothers’ phone so I don’t have to look it up. I may want to call her too.”

     Skylar recited her mother’s phone number quickly and Stacie added it to the paper with Caleb’s name before proceeding to the front of the school with her two students. Marti Hoefer Kohnen, having changed from tight, revealing workout clothes to a tight and more revealing minidress, stood by the nearly empty bike rack in a mouth puckered, nostrils flaring, arms clenched under her silicone augmented breasts, declaration of impatient wrath. Upon seeing her stepdaughter accompanied by Miss Shannon, the woman’s barely contained scornful ire surfaced with an indignant, “Goodness gracious! Sara Anne Kohnen, what have you done this time?! Miss Shannon? Whatever is going on here?”

     Stacie bent her right arm at the elbow and held her hand palm facing forward at waist level. “I’m sorry to make you wait, MS Kohnen,” she replied quickly. “Sara hasn’t done anything wrong-”

     Marti’s body clutching arms shot outward so that her now balled fists of hands rested aggressively on the lean, fit hips of her wide-stance, belligerent pose. “Oh my God! So, what? It’s Skylar for God’s sake? Sara, this is exactly what I was talking about this morning!”

     Stacie, the two third graders hiding in her shadow, walked closer to Marti, right hand pivoting left and right at her wrist in negation of the other woman’s anger. “No, no, Mrs. Kohnen. No one’s done anything wrong. There was just a little odd circumstance today on the playground that I wanted to alert you to. Nothing to worry about, just, well a stranger who Sara and Skylar saw loitering around the playground during recess. He reminded Skylar of her father, that’s all. I just wanted to inform you before you took the girls home in case either of them mentioned it to you. It was probably nothing, but we had an incident report filed-”

     In poorly contained hostility Marti responded staccato style, declaring, “You. Are. Kidding. Me. Right?” and then, shaking her head, added, “And for this you’ve had me cooling my heels in this sweltering heat for over ten minutes. Ridiculous!”

Couple Of Franks


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Couple of Franks went off to sea,
my wife’s father and my daddy;
both of them served in time of war,
on destroyers they were deployed.
Just two young men, loved their country;
red, white and blue; land of the free.
One from New York, other Midwest;
Separate world views, I must attest.

Couple of Franks, they both did wed,
had slew of kids, half-dozen-fed.
Though they saw world quite differently
Franks knew value of family.
My Frank and hers pontificate
value of love, family at stake.
“Don’t be petty, don’t you be mean,
brothers, sisters, keep them supreme.”

My dad spatted with brother Jack,
Francis Tierney Kevin shellacked.
They learned lessons, implored kids so,
“Love your families, don’t let ’em go.”
Siblings and me, quite diverse crew,
but Dad’s message in heart it grew.
They think I’m nuts, maybe they’re right;
we disagree, but we don’t fight.

I got their backs and they got mine,
know where to turn in hardest times.
Lesson Franks taught we taught it too,
passed to our kids, “Let love shine through!”
Heard other day from my Katie
mothered grandchild, now family.
She sang our praise concerning love,
looked to the skies, Heaven above.

“Hey, Frank and Frank,” said with a wink,
“love is winning, what do you think?”
Who would have thought, who would have known?
That these two Franks’ lesson has grown.
“Don’t be petty, don’t you be mean,
brothers, sisters, keep them supreme.
Love your families, don’t let ’em go,”
a life-lesson Franks let us know.


Vanishing Point: Thirteen of 101


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With the departure of the bused students, control of releasing the third-graders reverted to Miss Shannon, MS Ewell and Mrs. Henagar, all of whom stood just inside their doorways and called on individual students to be dismissed. “Rob, John, Nancy and Nikki?” Miss Shannon asked, “You may head down to the Wildcat Warren for after school.” The students stood and began to make their way toward the exit when Stacie added, “And be sure to walk. Nikki and Rob? I want to hear good things from MS Deidra tomorrow!”

John elbowed Rob in the arm in response to the teacher’s admonition to his friend and Nikki answered, “Okay, Miss Shannon. We will,” as the quartet exited toward the school’s gymnasium.

Stacie stepped across her room’s threshold and called to Shawn Ewell. “Shawn? Skylar mentioned that there was a man roaming around the front of the school during today’s recess; is that true?”

Shawn diverted her attention from her students and asked, “Pardon? Oh! Yes. There was a man out at the playground fence. I called up to the office while Jim went over and spoke to him. Why? Do you know who it was?”

“Oh, no. Or at least, not so far as I know. Skylar has this idea that the man is her father.”

“Really? She did speak to me about him just as recess was ending but she didn’t mention that to me. Is there a, I mean, does he have parental rights? I’ve only seen Skylar here with her mother, uh, Karla, right? Does her father live with them?”

“Well, that’s exactly what I asked, but Skylar’s answer was very odd,” Stacie looked over her shoulder and checked on her students before stepping across the hallway and speaking quietly to Shawn. In a very subdued voice she added, “Skylar said that her father has been dead for quite some time now and when I pointed out that the man must just look like her father she insisted that, logic or not, he actually was her father. I promised her I’d follow up.”

Shawn tilted her head and looked at the young teacher from the corner of her eyes, “Stacie, honestly! Follow up? On nonsense? Every year a small minority of students take up a majority of a teacher’s time and Skylar Kisor certainly falls into that category for you. Goodness. What are you going to do? Hold a séance? I suppose you should follow up with Suzann, as ridiculous as the whole thing obviously is.”

“Yes, I was going to. Speak with Suzann that is. I’m sure Jim got the man’s name?”

“I’m sure Jim asked the man’s name,” Shawn replied acidly, “whether the man told the truth or not is another story.”

“Did he mention the man’s name to you?”

“Yes? I think so. It was right at the end of recess and once the man left I was concentrating on herding children. Something with a K? Or maybe a C? Caleb maybe? I don’t know for sure. I’d ask Jim or Suzann, I’m sure Suzann made an incident report.”

Stacie’s eyes got big and her face grew pale in response to Shawn’s announcement. “Stacie?” Shawn asked, sincere concern in her voice, “Are you alright? You look like the devil’s chasing you!”

“I, I don’t know for sure. If not the devil, then maybe a ghost. Let me talk to Jim and Suzann and I’ll fill you in on what I learn, okay?”

“Sure, sure. Better get back to your class; dismissal waits for no one, either living or dead.”

Vanishing Point: Twelve of 101


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Stacie Shannon did not forget her promise to Skylar, but the busy afternoon did not present her with an opportunity to follow up with either her two fellow teachers nor with Suzann down in the main office.

Shawn Ewell was a veteran teacher with over three decades of teaching experience whom Stacie frequently turned to for guidance. Granted, MS Ewell’s teaching style and interactions with her students was markedly different from Stacie’s, but Shawn could be counted on to follow procedure. Shawn Ewell’s teacher/student interactions were harsher than Miss Shannon’s as Shawn operated from a no nonsense, take no prisoners, my way or the highway authoritarianism, but knowing and following the rules gave Shawn power and in the three years that they’d worked together Shawn had shown time and again that she enjoyed being in positions of power. Shawn could be counted on to dot her i’s, cross her t’s and follow the rules, whether for the sake of the children or to keep herself out of the sights of any disciplinary cross-hairs.  Whatever the reason, Stacie knew that if Shawn smelled something fishy concerning Interlachen or its students she was certain to cry foul.

 Stacie suppressed a smile when she thought of Jim Lance. Jim was a very caring PE teacher who took his students’ safety needs to heart. Jim came across a bit rough at times, but he was as sweet a man as ever walked the earth. Had she had playground duty and a stranger had come lurking around Interlachen Jim would be the very person she’d want as her teammate. He had a physical bearing that exuded confidence and the ability to switch back and forth from a strict though fair disciplinarian to a concerned but professional confidant. The thought of Jim overcame Stacie’s ability to repress herself and the corners of her mouth curled upward. Truth was, she was just a bit sweet on him and sometimes her mind wandered over to daydreaming about them dating. Hint as she may he hadn’t yet asked her out and her interest in him was growing to the point where she was considering making more overt overtures.

Stacie shook her head vigorously, smiled at herself and returned her attention to her class. She’d promised Skylar she’d follow up on her ghostly playground sighting and she would, but right now there were thirty odd third graders who needed her attention and Skylar’s odd imaginings would have to wait. She stole a surreptitious glance at her little waif and pushed down the urge to mother the neglected child. After all, warmth and support were important but so was professionalism, and after three years in the classroom Stacie was still trying to decide just where the need for one ended and the call for the other began.

 The end of the school year was always difficult and the end of the day on the penultimate Friday of the schoolyear made for distracted and excitable third graders. The day’s final lesson was a review of irregular verbs which some of the children took to well while others struggled. Skylar was one of the students who had to be reminded of standard English grammar as she and half-a-dozen other students had parents who used words like tooken in place of taken and expressed themselves with double negatives such as, “I ain’t got none.” Balancing the need to inform and educate standard English grammar without stifling creativity or demeaning her students was a challenge for Stacie who was mindful of the fact that many people in the South used idioms that were frowned upon in Iowa where she’d grown up.

Stacie looked at the clock and told herself that she’d chat with Shawn as the bus students were leaving. “Okay, class,” she announced, “Mrs. Layher’ll be calling bus students in a minute so we need to wind things up.” She glanced at the wall chart of weekly responsibilities: “Adam, Tristen, you need to tidy up the room, please. Bus riders, focus on getting ready!” The sheer volume of parents who transported their children by car was destined to create logjams and logistical nightmares and because of this, keeping drivers reined in was an essential element of student safety.

 The classroom’s noise level increased as the students swirled with activity. The noise level reached a pitch before dropping to near zero when Suzann’s voice came over the intercom. “Teachers, please pardon the interruption,” she said with a slight accent, “the red, orange and green buses are here. Repeat, the red, orange and green buses are here. Thank you.”

Suzann’s utterance of, “Thank you,” brought the noise level up again and Miss Shannon spoke above the noise. “Red, orange and green bus students! You need to line up quietly. Class, if we’re not ready to go I can’t dismiss you.”

Suzann announced other buses as they arrived, and the room’s hubbub continued until all the bused students had been dismissed. “Walkers, riders and car-poolers. I would love to dismiss you, but we need some third-grade decorum,” Stacie declared. The class grew quiet and she began to call individual students to line up.

Vanishing Point: Eleven of 101


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     “I’m sorry, Skylar,” Miss Shannon said quietly. “I didn’t realize that your father was dead; that must be very difficult for you and your mother. So, when you say you saw him, you must mean that you saw someone who looked just like him?”

     Skylar shook her head. “No’m. That’s what I thought at first, but he looked so much like my daddy that I think he really is him.”

     “I see,” the girl’s teacher said gently, nodding her head three times slowly. “And how would you explain that? Seeing your father on the playground even though he’s passed?”

     “I don’t have a explanation, I just know that the man I saw had to be my daddy.”

     “Sometimes we see people that remind us of others. I’ve had it happen to me lots of times. Did anyone else see this man?” Miss Shannon asked.

    “Well, yeah. Sara did. And so did MS Ewell and Mr. Lance. Mr. Lance was talking to him and when I asked MS Ewell if she knew who he was she said she didn’t and told us to go line up and the more I think about it the more I think it was my daddy.”

     “Mr. Lance spoke to this man? Where was this exactly?”

     “Just outside the fence. Me’n Sara was over playing foursquare.”

     “Honey, I know it must be hard moving as much as you and your mother do and that you must miss your daddy terribly but if he’s dead it just couldn’t have been him; right?”

     “Well, I’m not stupid. I know that if he’s dead he can’t be out walking around by the playground, but I know what I saw. You can ask Mr. Lance who it was. Him and MS Ewell were on the walkie-talkies talking about him.”

     “And how would you know that?” she asked gently. “That they were talking about this man who looked so much like your father? Were you standing so closely that you could hear them?”

     “No’m. But I saw them looking at him and then whispering to each other and then I saw MS Ewell looking at my daddy and talking on the walkie-talkie and then Mr. Lance did the same thing after he talked to Daddy.”

     “I see. Well, that is very strange, and from what you’ve told me I’m sure it couldn’t have been your father, but I’ll be happy to talk to Shawn and Jim about it later. And I’ll ask Mrs. Layher as well. If there was a stranger lurking around the playground during recess I’m sure they were letting Suzann know about the situation.

     “Listen, honey, I know it’s hard, but can we try to just put it on hold for now and get back to work? I promise I’ll follow up later but for now we have work to do.”

     “You promise?”

     “I do. I absolutely will.”

     “Okay. Thanks, Miss Shannon. I know you’ll do it if you say so.”

     “I will. Oh! And what’s your father’s name?”

     “Caleb. His name is Caleb.”

     “Okay, let me just write that down. ‘Caleb Kisor.’ Got it.”

     “Oh, no’m. My daddy’s last name is Morse. My mama and me went back to being Kisors after Daddy died. Daddy’s name is Caleb Ezra Morse.”

Nothing to Complain About


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Image may contain: one or more people
I got n-n-n-nothing to complain about
Yeah, I got nothing to complain about
All kinds a people who all they do is shout
But me? I got nothing to complain about.

Rise up every morning quarter after three
Bed is toasty warm and baby’s next to me
Stretch over from my side of our king-sized bed
enumerate my blessing from A to zed.

 She’s alpha and omega, beginning and end
Wound up with a jackpot, believe me, my friend!
Scratch my back when I need it, she does real fine
My baby’s all sevens, so proud she is mine.

I got n-n-n-nothing to complain about
Yeah, I got nothing to complain about
All kinds a people who all they do is shout
But me? I got nothing to complain about.

 Some people live for money, others long for fame
My favorite pastime is fanning my flame.
Baby is a winner, she’s a royal flush
Wish I could show her that I love her so much.

Every life has obstacles, we all take pratfalls
Readily admit I’m at baby’s beck and call
Whatever darling wants I long to provide
Being worthy of her love’s greatest source of pride.

 I got n-n-n-nothing to complain about
Yeah, I got nothing to complain about
All kinds a people who all they do is shout
But me? I got nothing to complain about.

I got n-n-n-nothing to complain about
Yeah, I got nothing to complain about
All kinds a people who all they do is shout
But me? I got nothing to complain about.

Vanishing Point: Ten of 101


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The girls had barely begun to play when Mr. Lance blew his piercing, hundred plus decibel, Fox referee whistle long and hard. Skylar startled visibly at the sound and Sara grabbed the red-rubber-ball that the pair had been bouncing back and forth in a lackluster, lackadaisical, anemic two-person pantomime of Four Square. “Come on,” Sara commanded her friend as she started walking to the shaded area where the ball crate rested. “We’d better take our ball back to MS Ewell or she’ll ball us out for sure.”

MS Ewell took the ball from Sara in a perfunctory way, her mouth twisted in a sneer that was likely intended to be a smile, and nodded to the girls in a silent, dismissive gesture.

“MS Ewell?” Skylar asked.

Startled from her silent staring MS Ewell minutely shook her head before taking her eyes from the distance and looking down at the young girls in front of her. “Yes?” she asked quietly before remembering to be gruff and demanding, “Yes? What is it, girls. You need to go line up.”

“Yes’m,” Skylar acknowledged. “It’s just that man you’re staring at looks right familiar to me an I saw Mr. Lance go over and speak to him. Can you tell me who he is?”

MS Ewell flared her nostrils, tilted her head to the side, squared herself toward the children and stated, “No, I’m sure I couldn’t. Now please go line up. Recess is over.”

“Yes’um. It’s just that-”

MS Ewell did not find out to what Skylar’s, “It’s just that-” referred as she interrupted the girl with the command, “It’s just that it’s time to go line up. Now!” she punctuated her dictate with a pointy fingered, arm fully extended, gesticulation toward the space where Miss Shannon’s class was queuing.

For a single second Skylar stood, mouth agape, until Sara grabbed her friend’s shirt sleeve and tugged on it. “Come on,” she whispered forcefully, her eyebrows rising as she jerked her head in the direction of the line where her class was gathering. “Let’s line up.”

The girls entered the queue and stood silently. Mr. Lance’s regimented release of each class from the playground was predicated on still and quiet students standing in straight lines. Skylar and Sara knew this but frequently caused their class to reenter the building last but seeing the man that markedly reminded Skylar of her deceased father made her immotile with melancholy. The gym teacher looked down the dozen columns of sweating students, moved to the front of the Miss Shannon’s room’s line and said, “Miss Shannon’s class is dismissed.”

Entering the building, the children found Miss Shannon standing just inside the entryway, her arms hanging loosely, her hands gently enfolding one another and her face wearing a small yet sincere Mona-Lisa esque smile. She nodded to Monika at the front of the line and waited for her class to pass before following in their wake. As they neared a water fountain Miss Shannon said, “Monika? Stop at the water fountain please. Anyone who would like a drink, now’s the time to get one. Everyone else, you may continue into the classroom.”

Less than a quarter of the class waited for water at the fountain. Though the fountain cooled the water it still held the omnipresent, unpleasant mineral taste shared by central Florida’s municipal water supply. Miss Shannon followed her class to her room but waited just outside the door where she was able to monitor both groups. Most of the children in the classroom pulled bottled water from their desks and sipped on that while the children who either forgot or could not afford bottled water took varying amounts of semi-refreshing H2O from the tap. Sara, who had bottled water at her desk, took a small sip while Skylar, who did not, took a long pull on the unpleasant, though potable, potation.

Once finished the children walked to the classroom where Miss Shannon greeted each with an inviting smile. Sara smiled back, entered the room and took her seat. Skylar stopped at the door way and said, “You know what, Miss Shannon? I think I saw my daddy outside by the playground.”

Miss Shannon tilted her head to the side and said. “Your father? I don’t believe I’ve ever met your father before; just your mom. Does he live with you?”

“Oh, no’m. My Daddy’s dead.”