R.R.R. -a work story


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Renee phoned ahead.

“ABC Cyclery, this is Keith,” I declared into the phone.

“Keith?” a woman replied, “My name is Renee. Can I speak to the service department, please?”

“Sure, Renee, I can probably help you. What’s going on?”

“Well, my chain fell off and I can’t get it back on. Can you tell me about how much that’ll be to fix?”

‘About how much will that be to fix?’ is probably every service technician’s least favorite question. Back before cellphones and video streaming, one of the snarky things techs would declare to one another was, “I was about to tell her to hold the phone closer to the bike so I could get a better look at it.” Nowadays, if a mechanic asked that the customer just might oblige.

If age hasn’t given me wisdom it has at least given me patience, knowledge and experience; I’ve learned that it is better to deflect a question like that, so I responded, “Well, Renee that’s going to depend on a lot of factors, but I can tell you that we give free estimates. If you bring us your bike we’ll put it up in the stand, take a look at it and come up with an accurate estimate. Does that sound fair?”

‘Does that sound fair?’ is not a throw-away-question. ‘Does that sound fair?’ is a buy-in, a very important first step whenever one is asking for someone’s trust.

Rene sighed. “Yeah, I guess. Do you have any idea?”

Tit for tat, a Roland for your Oliver, Renee want’s some reassurance before she lugs her bike to the bike shop. “Well, how did it happen? Were you shifting gears? Did the bike get bumped? Did it happen in transportation?”

“I don’t know. It happened a long time ago and the bike’s just been sitting. I bought it from you,” she added, voice rising in inflection.

Rising inflection denotes a question or call for help. “I bought it from you,” means that Renee thinks we should go above and beyond because she’s earned some due process from us, a high level of care because loyalty should work both ways. Renee’s right. That’s the power of a Brick and Mortar, an actual location, Buying Local, rather than virtual commerce.

Some folks- low-lifes to be quite blunt- “shop” Brick and Mortar for the sole purpose of getting a good feel for merchandise, test riding models, getting a size assessment, trying on clothing; basically, picking knowledgeable salespeople’s brains.

They’re users, people who want expert advice who will then take their newly acquired knowledge to venture forth on the WWW in search of Amazon’s or Alibaba’s or what-have-you’s lowest price for a product. On-Line retailers are not known for knowledgeable sales-staff, they’re known for low prices. Their low-prices are a result of low-overhead.

Brick and Mortar costs money. Brick and Mortar is in easily accessed, attractive locales. Brick and Mortar should provide exemplary customer service because customers are paying a premium. Renee’s call is totally legit, but I still need to assess the situation.

“Yeah, Renee. I don’t know how much it’s going to cost but I can’t really do anything until the bike is here. Bring it in. As I said, I’ll look at it right away, figure out what’s up and then we can figure out what you want to do.”

Did you notice the change from “we” to “I”? “We” are a team at ABC. “We” are a brand. “We” get things done. But sometimes customers need an “I.” “I” will do that. “I” am here for you. Come see “me.” I’m telling Renee I’m her boy, she just has to, as the saying goes, “Help me, to help you.”

Before disconnecting Renee gave me another deep sigh. “Fine, Keith. I’ll see you in a little bit.”

And a very little bit it was.

A woman, roughly sixty-years-old, five-foot-two-inches, walks into the store and I greet her. “Hey! How are you? What brings you in today?”

Sales technique tells us we’re not supposed to ask the ‘What brings you in today?’ question just as we’re not supposed to ask our kids, ‘Who won?’ when they return from a soccer game. It’s crass. It’s not sophisticated. It emphasizes the wrong things.

My major job at ABC Cyclery is service writing. When clients role bikes in I have a pretty good idea what they want; service for their bikes. Our diminutive gal wasn’t pushing a bike. Force of habit. When you know better, you do better. Or not.

“Keith?” she asks.

“Renee?” I respond a big grin on my face.

“Yes,” she says.

“Pleasure,” I respond, extending my hand.

Renee’s grasp is firm. (I abhor a zero pressure, dead-fish handshake whether delivered by a man or woman.) Renee’s grip is firmer than the vast majority of women’s that I have encountered, thousands and thousands, but medium for a man. I don’t have long to think about grip strength because my ADD brain is focusing on her totally decadent, tri-color -green-hued, spangle-encrusted, sharp-as daggers fingernails.

I long to talk about her nails but it’s too soon. We’ve just met, and our rapport is perhaps a five on a scale of one-hundred. Before I “Keith” her we need to, excuse the expression, sniff each other out.

I am a Bull-Dog disguised as a Golden Retriever. Bull-Dogs latch on to one human whom they love for life. Golden Retrievers are loyal-to-none, dedicated to fun kind-a dogs. I love meeting people and getting to know them and to call me effusive is to describe the ocean as wide. I know Full-Keith can be off putting so I act normal at first. Believe me, it’s just an act.

“Is your bike outside?” I ask.

“No. That’s part of the problem,” Renee responds. “I don’t know how to get it here.”

‘I don’t know how to get it here,’ is catnip to this Bull Dog. It’s Pavlov ringing my dinner bell. It leads to, “Do you own a bike rack?” with the implication being, ‘You should own a bike rack.’

We talk about Renee’s bike.  She reiterates that the chain fell off a long time ago. “It fell off like the first time I rode it,” Renee declares. Renee whips her owner’s manual and sales receipt from her purse and hands them to me.

I glance at the material and say, “But you bought this ten years ago. It’s been sitting for ten years?”

I’m hoping, ‘The first time I rode it,’ is hyperbole, I mean, what kind of person buys a bike and lets it sit for a decade unridden because the chain fell off?

“Yeah. I’ve been busy,” she responds.

We talk a lot. About her bike, about places Renee has lived, that we’re the same age (I have a rule. If two people are over forty-years-old and were in high school at the same time, then we’re the same age. By that rule we’re the same age.) We talk, we bond, we laugh. Finally, I say, “Okay. Well, we can’t work on it unless it’s here; how about a bike rack?”

We go outside, and she shows me her little red Mercedes. I tell Renee that because of the little red Mercedes’ rear spoiler she’d have to get a trailer-hitch style rack,  Renee tells me her little red Mercedes is leased. We explore possible solutions and Renee decides that she’ll gladly pay a pick-up and delivery fee; we return to the store and walk to the service department check-in computer.

Consulting the service computer, I say, “Okay, let’s figure out when you’d like us to pick up the bike.

“Last name?” I ask.

“Raskind,” Renee responds. “R, A, S, K, I, N, D.”

Typing in Raskind I find that ABC Cyclery’s computer lists one Raskind, a Richard Raskind. “Any relation to Richard?” I ask.

This question is like a curtain on The Price is Right, one has no idea if there’s something wonderful behind the curtain or something terrible. Sometimes the answer is, “Yes! That’s my dad!” or, “She’s my sister!” or other bubbly responses. Sometimes it elicits frowns or stony faces, Renee gave me two-seconds of silence, so I say. “Oh. Sorry. Ex-husband?”

She squints her right eye, bobs her head up and down and says. “No. Just ex. Ex me. I used to be Ronald Raskin.”

“Really?” I gush. “I had no idea. Well good for you!” My sentiment is not feigned. If it’s good for her then, good for her!

“Yeah, I thought that’d be your response. You seem pretty open.”

“Me?” I ask, “I have a very conservative lifestyle, but I just want people to be happy and healthy. I figure if we’re not hurting anybody then what we do is our business, not anybody else’s. I’m just super happy that you felt comfortable sharing with me.”

“Yeah. Keep it to yourself though, okay? Some people just don’t get it.”

“Boy is that an understatement!” I declared.

We set up Renee’s pick-up appointment for later that day (BTW- that’s not her real name) and went out and collected her bike. After I looked the bike over I called, and we decided on a plan of action. ABC Cyclery is going to get her rolling again. I hope we have lots of opportunities to win her trust and her business.





Richard Raskind


Vanishing Point: Nine of 101


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By the time the girls got to MS Ewell she was having a whispered discussion with Mr. Lance. “Well, he could just be out for a walk,” she said to the gym teacher. Pulling a walkie-talkie from the hip-bag playground monitors carried she added, “Why don’t I talk to Suzann up in the office while you casually walk over in that direction?”

Mr. Lance bit his lower lip, nodded and said, “Yeah. I think I will. I’m sure it’s nothing but I don’t like strangers hanging out by the school. Especially during recess. And he is smoking on school property. I’ll be back,” he added.

Skylar and Sara waited until the two teachers were through talking before Sara asked, “MS Ewell?”

MS Ewell held up her spindly finger and declared, “One minute.

“Suzann?” the fifty-something, ultra-thin Latina with jet black dyed hair said into her walkie-talkie, “We have an adult male just outside the school fence. Jim is waking over to investigate.”

After a short pause Suzann Layher’s voice cackled back over the walkie-talkie. “Ten-four, Shawn. I’ll keep my eye on them. Have Jim buzz me back when he’s through please.”

“Will do, Suzann. Out,” MS Ewell declared into the walkie-talkie before redirecting her attention to Sara and asking. “And what did you want, Sara?”

“Just a foursquare ball please, ma’am.”

“You mean a red-rubber ball? Fine,” she said grabbing a ball while watching the stranger and Mr. Lance conversing by the fence. “Just be sure to bring it back when recess is done.”

“Yes, ma’am,” both girls intoned. Sara started to walk away but Skylar remained rooted at MS Ewell feet staring at the two men by the perimeter three-foot-tall chain link fence. MS Ewell, noticing that the girl was still there demanded, “Is there something else you need, Skylar?”

“Uhm, no. Uhm, I mean, no’m. Thank you, MS Ewell.”

MS Ewell looked down her nose at the girl, wrinkled her brow and shook her head before returning her attention to the approaching Mr. Lance. Skylar walked a few feet away and bent to tie her shoe as Sara rejoined her friend a few feet from where the two teachers stood in powwow. “Are we going to play?” Sara asked. “Recess doesn’t last very long.”

Skylar shot her friend a furtive glance, pantomimed shushing and ticked her head in the direction of the two teachers. MS Ewell looked at the girls, tilted her head and demanded, “Is there anything else, girls?”

“No’m,” Skylar said, standing up and brushing off the knee that had been in contact with the ground. “Thank you.”

Sara strode to an empty four-square grid and turned quizzically toward her friend who lagged yards behind. “Skylar! What are you doing? Recess is almost over.”

Skylar shuffled slowly to Sara, her head pivoting between her direction of travel and the whispering MS Ewell and Mr. Lance. “You sees that man over by the fence that MS Ewell and Mr. Lance keeps looking at?”

Sara glanced at the stocky, brown haired, brown eyed, late twenties-aged man standing just outside the playground’s perimeter fence. “Uh-huh,” she responded with gravelly voice, head tilted to the side in impatience.

“Well, he looks exactly like my daddy.”

“Oh. So?” Sara asked.

“I mean I’d swear he is my daddy. Except my daddy’s dead.”

Vanishing Point: Eight of 101


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As the second and third grade lunch slot cycled to a close Mrs. Escobedo and Mrs. Giunta dismissed the classes in the order that they had arrived. Sara’s half of the table was dismissed after Mrs. Henagar’s students had gathered their lunch remains and were discarding their trash into the bin and returning trays to the dishwashers waiting by their window; each student miraculously having found the inner resources that allowed them to quickly and dutifully perform the necessary tasks that stood between them and the haven of recess.

In the hall that led from the lunchroom to freedom Mr. Lance and MS Ewell, sunglasses perched on top of their heads, Mr. Lance wearing his signature French Foreign Legion headgear, stood by the exit to the playground as Miss Shannon’s class joined the children who had already queued. “As soon as you’re quiet we can go outside,” Mr. Lance declared, walking slowly between the double line of second and third graders. “It’s your recess, not mine,” he added perfunctorily.

After walking to the back of the line and then returning to the front Mr. Lance swiveled his head toward MS Ewell who nodded and declared, “I think they’re ready.”

Both teachers meandered to the large double-doors that led outside to freedom. MS Ewell pointed to the third grader at the head of each line and commanded, “Hold the door,” as she and Mr. Lance, having already transferred their sunglasses from the tops of their heads to the bridge of their noses, walked out into the bright, hot, Florida sunshine. MS Ewell migrated to a shady spot where balls were stored and watched the children enter the steamy heat from the relative comfort that the canopy provided. The teacher’s assistants had also donned sunglasses and after following the last students out and ensuring that the doors were securely closed and locked, separated and walked to the playground equipment and basketball courts. Mr. Lance did a quick perimeter walk of the playground area before heading to the soccer field where a few of the hot weather attuned youngsters, after getting a soccer ball from MS Ewell, would quickly form impromptu teams and square off against one another.

The hopscotch and foursquare painted blacktop that stood directly outside the double doors was the final bastion of school dictated delaying decorum. Students were required to walk from the doors to the grassy areas before taking off pell-mell for their desired recreations. Sara walked a half-dozen steps from the door and then slowed precipitously, thus enabling her friend to join her. When Skylar reached her Sara smiled, raised her right fist in the air and declared, “Freedom!”

“One more week of school and then we’ll have the whole summer off,” Skylar answered as the girls walked toward the jungle-gym. “You think we’ll be able to see each other?”

“Well, sure. You’re not that far away. Marti might let me ride my bike to your house. You said there’s only that one traffic light at Gunn Highway between your house and school if you go the backway, and there’s sidewalk all the way up and down Interlachen. Hey! Maybe we can get Marti to ride over to your apartment tonight or tomorrow. My daddy’s coming home late tonight. That way they can see how easy it is to get back and forth. You could borrow one of my bikes.”

“One of your bikes?! How many bikes you have?”

“Just two. My school bike and a mountain bike. Daddy takes me over to Starkey Park sometimes and we go riding there. I have an old helmet you could borrow.”

“Oh. Yeah. Cept I really don’t know how to ride right good. I only ever got to borrow one of my friend’s from my old apartment complexes. I don’t own one.”

“Really?! Wow. I’ve never met somebody who doesn’t own a bike before. We can for sure ride around my neighborhood. Marti and Dad let me ride in my neighborhood without them, I’m just not allowed to go outside the gate.”

“Mamma says we ain’t got no extra room to carry no bikes in the car when’s we move. She promised we could look for one at Goodwill next time we go but that we won’t be able to take it with us.”

“We need to teach your mom about bike racks,” Sara declared. “That way you don’t have to put the bike in the car. Wanna play foursquare?”

“Sure. Cept then we have to get a ball from MS Ewell. I don’t think she likes me.”

“I’ll get the ball. And I don’t think MS Ewell likes very many people; especially boys!”

I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.


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“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend,”
Entitled driver intoned again.
Man just passed me on blind curve,
with truck parked wrong way around me swerved,
slowed white Escalade with tap of brakes;
feared for my life make no mistake.

“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”

I thrust my hand into the air;
all digits up, no central error.
I slowed down but so did he,
feared might meet my end by SUV.
Pulled up on his right next thing I know
dude’s friendship mantra twice he droned.

“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”

“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend,”
with hollow words fool did begin.
Vehicle stopped for delivery
must move left to get round him, see?
Man of privilege in large white truck?
No time to slow, so best of luck!

“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”

Escalade’s bona fides repeats twice,
declares, “I ride two-fifty weekly.”
He ain’t hollering but lecture gives
bout me swerving twenty-feet toward him.
Twenty-feet? Man, that’s curb to curb!
Rich blow-hard’s words are just absurd.

“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”

Him as friend need no enemies;
great ally, just keep away from me.
Foolish man’s finger pointing way?
Respond, “That’s just great. Have a good day.”
The struggle is real to coexist,
save me from Alpha Dog that is rich.

Entitled fool impetus for ire.

“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”
“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”
“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”
“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”
“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”
“I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend.”

Will these false words spell my end?

Vanishing Point: Seven of 101


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Once the students were in the cafeteria teacher’s assistants directed Miss Shannon’s self-sufficient brown-baggers to their lunch table. As the students sat or waited in line Miss Shannon disappeared, her heals click-clacking on her way to the Teachers’ Lounge, her mid-day respite from chaos. Teaching Assistants Mrs. Escobedo and Mrs. Giunta, the former a larger Latina woman and the latter a small Philippine, pointed at each child as they filed in directing them with an extended digit or two toward the white plastic cafeteria tables that had been lowered from their wall niches, exhorting the students to slide over as far as the attached benches would allow.

Sara led Miss Shannon’s milk only section of lunch line and she quickly joined the kids who had already opened their lunch boxes or torn into their brown-bags and begun to eat. Sara was fifth from the wall and other milk buyers began to fill the bench to her left, each student admonished by Teacher’s Assistants to slide closer and fill the gap so that all of Miss Shannon’s 32 third graders could fit on the single, extra-large plastic picnic table.

        In addition to the taunting from the other third grade classes, being last to the cafeteria also meant less time to eat. Lunch/recess was blocked as a forty-five-minute slot, but the clock began at 12:10, not when the students sat down. Sara, having traveled through the lunch line quickly, had fifteen minutes to complete her lunch. The students who stood in line for Hot Lunch had even less time to eat as they arrived at the table even later.

Sara’s half of the table had filled and students on the other side were placing their lunch trays down, opening their milks and frantically spooning what passed for nourishment into their mouths. Sara, who was engrossed in finishing her food before the class was marched outside for their nominal twenty-minute recess, paid little attention when someone plopped a tray onto the table across from her. “Hi, friend!” Skylar’s voice rang out.

 Sara looked up in shock. Skylar was usually at the back of the Hot Lunch part of the cafeteria line while Sara was toward the front. This ensured that the two girls would be separated by a dozen students but because Sara was very far forward in line today, chance had arranged to have Skylar sitting directly in front of her. “Skylar!” Sara declared with surprise. “Fancy meeting you here!” she said, using her tongue to push her food to the side of her mouth.

“You ought a bring your lunch more often,” Skylar replied, curling her nose at the food on her tray. “That ways we could sit across from each other.”

“Yeah, I don’t think it works that way. We just got lucky. And you could bring your lunch too, you know.”

“No, I can’t. Mamma won’t make me lunch cept on the weekends. Same for breakfast. Oh, on holidays too,” Skylar added.

 “Yeah, Marti doesn’t like making me lunch either, but I only get to buy breakfast when she has to go to a job or an early exercise class.”

“Your mom has to go to a class for exercise? What for? Is there something wrong with her?”

“She’s not my real mom, she’s my stepmom. My real mom is up in Chicago. Marti goes to exercise class to be fit, not because she has to. Doesn’t your mom go to a gym?”

Skylar raised one eyebrow and tilted her head to the side. “No. Mamma works and watches TV. She’s too tired to go to no gym.”

Mrs. Escobedo tapped on the table between the girls. “Eat. You’re almost out of time.”

 “Yes, ma’am,” Sara said, taking another bite from her sandwich and a chug of chocolate milk. “It’s just you and your mom, right? When did your dad die?”

“When I was in first grade at Donehoo Elementary in Gadsden. Mamma and Daddy was separated and then one day I comes home from school and Mamma said he done died in Jefferson and that we had to go live someplace else and boom! we moved just like that. I was really sad because I hadn’t seen him since kindergarten and I didn’t get to say goodbye. That was the first time we moved. We been to cities all over the south. I miss my daddy.”

“I’m sorry,” Sara commiserated, reaching her hand out to squeeze her friend. “I miss my mom too. Not that it’s the same. You’d better eat,” she added, “we can talk at recess.”

Skylar beamed at her friend. “And we can play and talk all night!”

Grind, Grind, Grind


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Image result for beautiful Indian women

The grind, grind, grind starts my day
luscious hips gyrate under sway,
to my coffee I sashay.
(Whatdidyou think I was talking bout anyway?)

Each morning early arise
hands press sleep from my eyes,
long to slip tween lover’s thighs;
unrequited is song’s reprise.

Tick, tick, tick goes the clock
ticks away time I’ve not got;
long to be read but I’m not,
need to slash through Gordian Knot.

Diary for world to see
bout things that have happened to me,
capture feelings before they flee,
where is truth that sets us free?

One-hundred lost average minute of each day,
two-fifty replacements holding sway.
Twenty-two-million live in Mumbai,
Malthus assures us we’ll pay.

World full of haves and have-nots
Ninety billion worth of Jeff Bezos
Jerome Kerviel in debt six billion
nearly one-third in poverty rot.

McMansion in which I live
surrounded by populace oh so glib,
far too many take more than we give;
I’m off to serve the sahibs.

Vanishing Point: Six of 101


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Miss Shannon valued neat, quiet lines and she employed a robust use of peer pressure in achieving this end. “Alright, class we can line up for lunch just as soon as we’re quiet,” she announced daily from the front of the room.

Pasco County, Florida was booming with construction and Interlachen had been built with three third grade classes. There was covert competition between MS Ewell’s, Mrs. Henagar’s, and Miss Shannon’s rooms to be the first in group to head down to the cafeteria, with the gold medal winner procuring bragging rights that were used to taunt the silver and bronze classes out on the playground. With rumbling stomachs and a desire to beat the other classes to the cafeteria some of the children would start shushing one another as soon as they heard Miss Shannon call for quiet. This peer kvetching only extended the class’ time interval in purgatory, that space where they were not permitted to flee the controlled environment of the classroom and ascend to the comparative heaven that was lunchtime and recess, and yet the loud calls for quiet persisted.

Skylar, who was notorious for being one of the last to be granted line access, was also a true and vociferous believer in the power of shushing others. An informed bookie would no doubt lay long odds that Miss Shannon’s most recent pupil would be a major player in ensuring that the two other third grade classes would be on their way to lunch before everyone in Miss Shannon’s room was standing quietly in line.

Sara, after months of observing the inefficaciousness of shushing, had decided that repeatedly saying, “Shh! Shh!” was contraindicated. She would have gladly told her friend to stop doing it, but she realized that this would do nothing but add more hubbub to the aural brouhaha that swirled around the room. Displaying taxing constraint, the girl merely closed her eyes, flared her nostrils, inhaled and waited in silent, though inwardly agitated, self-control.

The lunch line consisted of three lines that were segregated by the needs of the students. The first part of the line was dedicated to the most self-sufficient third graders, those who packed a lunch that included a drink. These paradigms of preparation stood at the front of the line and once in the cafeteria were herded to the long, white, foldable lunch table that was reserved for Miss Shannon’s class. Behind the totally self-contained stood the lunchbox or brownbag corps who brought their lunch but needed to buy milk. The final and largest section of line was reserved for students who at the beginning of the day had selected either Main Course or Alternate for their hot, USDA approved midday meal.

Today, unlike most days, Sara had brought her lunch. The school provided a monthly lunch menu for each student and both of today’s selections had proven anathema to her. Typically, Sara preferred to purchase lunch rather than undergo the ignoble and unfashionable totting of victuals to school but once or perhaps twice a month her mother would prepare and pack a lunch for her.

In the five months that Skylar had attended Interlachen she had never wavered from purchasing the Main hot lunch option.

When comparative quiet had settled over the room Miss Shannon began calling on individual students by name and as they were called the children stood on either the red, white or blue tape that stretched in a line by the classroom door. The quietest and best behaved self-contained student stood at the front of the red tape, the first student who had been granted permission to stand in line but needed milk would walk to the white section of tape and so on. The routine was regimented, inefficient and designed to not only facilitate lunch-line flow in the cafeteria but to also demonstrate that teachers had power and that those who conformed to their standards received rewards while those who did not suffered consequences. Sara’s ability to mask her teeming irritability was rewarded when the girl’s name was called, and she dutifully grabbed her lunch box from her desk and took her place at the front of the white section of line.

As students’ names were called the classroom became quieter and Miss Shannon began calling out names faster and faster. Skylar managed to earn a spot only two-thirds of the way back from the front of the blue tape and everyone was in place before Mrs. Henagar’s third grade class began their march to lunch and a quantum of freedom.

From opposite sides of the hallway Miss Shannon and Mrs. Henagar watched as MS Ewell’s class shuffled quietly toward the cafeteria. The two remaining teachers looked at one another and Miss Shannon looked back to her students who, though quiet, stood in a slovenly, meandering line. She turned her head back to Mrs. Henagar and said, “No, Louise we’re not quite ready. Please go ahead.”

Mrs. Henagar smiled at Miss Shannon and said, “Well, Stacie. Maybe next time,” and motioned her class to follow as she led them to the cafeteria.

Miss Shannon’s and Mrs. Henagar’s short exchange elicited a muted moan from the students in her class which caused Miss Shannon, in fists on hips stance, to turn to her class and ask, “Would you like to sit down and start again?” After a pause she added, “I didn’t think so. Now, quietly and in a straight line. You may go Rachel,” she said, touching the girl on the shoulder.



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Image result for knife thrower

The knife blade brightly blazes in his hand,
Old rival’s throat implores to be its sheath.
His prize proclaimed by her simple gold band;
One slip, one misstep could deliver death.
The blade waits impatiently in the blocks,
Poised, primed, prepared to fly, to sail, to hit:
Sinew and synapse scream, “My point will stick!”
Laughing at the guileless bane’s spoiled secret,
Blood lust boils deeply within his chill veins;
The dish best served cold longingly beckons.
One scant wrist flick and naught will yet remain,
In full view of love the finale reckon.
Mercy has no sway on his heartless task,
The blade’s bright point journeys; no question asked.

Vanishing Point: Five of 101


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Sara carried Skylar’s bag into the classroom and placed it in her friend’s cubby-hole locker while Skylar headed to the cafeteria for breakfast. By the time Skylar had finished eating and entered her class all the other students were already at their desks. Skylar managed to walk by Sara’s seat and wiggle her fingers in hello as she snaked her way to her own seat three rows over. The girls had sat side by side for a few days when Skylar first started at Interlachen Elementary, but Miss Shannon had separated the girls when, as she’d said, “It just doesn’t seem that the two of you can concentrate very well when you’re side by side.”

Skylar wasn’t given much opportunity to get comfortable before the morning announcements came on over the intercom. After announcements, the class stood while Miss Shannon led the Pledge of Allegiance and then sat as she completed her absence and lunch slips. When the slips were complete, she called on the two Students of The Week to tote them to the cafeteria and attendance offices. Finished with preliminaries and ready to start her lessons she looked up to see Skylar waving her hand in the air. “Yes, Skylar?” Miss Shannon asked.

Stacie Shannon was a schoolbook picture of a young, Midwestern school teacher. She managed to dress primly but not dowdily, having refreshed her pleated maroon skirt and bright white blouse with a steam iron just prior to dressing for work.

 As a concession to the Florida heat, the woman wore her hair in a loose ponytail, and her freshly scrubbed look gave her a charmingly wholesome, if vulnerable, appearance.

“I got a note from my mom, so’s I can go home with Sara after school?” the girl said from her seat.

“Wonderful,” Miss Shannon answered. “Would you bring it to me please?”

Skylar reached into her desk, walked the handwritten note to the front of the room and stood by Miss Shannon’s desk, eyes on the floor, as she handed her teacher the multi-folded slip of paper.

 It read:
Miss Shannon
Skylers got my permission to go home with Sara Kohnen after school today.
She wont be riding on the bus.

Karla Kisor

Miss Shannon read the dated note that included Karla’s phone number, smiled, nodded and said, “Splendid. Are you spending the night?” Skylar looked up from the floor long enough to nod at her teacher who smiled, patted the girl’s shoulder and said, “Thank you, Skylar. I hope you have fun. Please return to your seat now.”

The morning routine rolled along and was punctuated with Mrs. Clark’s art class. While Miss Shannon’s room was arranged with individual seats in columns and rows the art room contained large tables where four students could sit comfortably and work on large projects. Technically, Skylar and Sara were not allowed to sit next to one another in art class either, but Mrs. Clark allowed the girls to sit at adjacent tables which afforded them a limited opportunity to speak with one another.

Mrs. Clark had introduced the third graders to the concept of a vanishing point in drawing and after revisiting the key concepts the students were now working diligently on their drawings. Skylar set her pencil down, leaned across the gap that separated her from Sara and whispered, “I know all about vanishing points. That’s what we do when we have to move.”

Sara looked up from her project and asked, “Huh?” before returning to her drawing of a railroad tracks receding into the distance.

“We disappear a lot, me and my mom. This is the sixth school I been to since my daddy died. Mom just says, “‘We gotta go, girl!’ and next thing I know’s we’re driving away with our car stuffed all full with whatever we can fit.”

“Girls?” Mrs. Clark asked as she walked toward Sara and Skylar. “Are we working or chatting?”

“Working, Mrs. Clark,” Sara responded.

Mrs. Clark bent down, lowered her reading glasses from her gray hair to her slightly age-affected hyperopia-afflicted blue-eyes, and picked up first Skylar’s and then Sara’s papers “Nice work, ladies. It looks like you have a fine understanding of vanishing point. But I shouldn’t be hearing a lot of chatter right now,” she added, looking down her nose and over her glasses at the two girls.

“No, ma’am,” Sara said, turning her head to her friend and shaking it.

Mrs. Clark smiled, patted Sara on the shoulder and walked to another table to check the progress of other students. Once the art teacher had moved away Sara hissed, “Don’t get us in trouble, Skylar. We can talk at lunch.”

“Okay,” her friend responded a bit loudly. “I just don’t like that idea of vanishing, that’s all.”

Warrior Enthroned


, ,

Sunrise, sunset. Step up, place bets.
All things must end; what we beget.
Each morn rising with apprising.
Structure, buttress; all has rusted

New horizon, our reprise is.
Fresh beginnings, feel not winning.
Each day, each step there’s some regret.
Stars shine, tears flow, heart aches, head knows.

Circle of life, circle round sun
one round ended, new one begun.
No turning back, we’re moving on
Sadness and grief? Joyful new song!

Heart’s beating strong, inside my chest!
I’m far from done, I’ll pass this test!
Not in the script, on with the show.
There’s more to me, than you all know!

Angel circle lifts me higher,
each year, each day, strength acquired.
Moon rise, moon-glow, heart aches I’ve known.
Hear me singing? Warrior enthroned.