Tag Archives: Humour

College Athletes: Why Stress them Out!



Universities spoon feed athletes with gilded promises while also making out checks of gold to them on the sly, oh and perish the thought if the athlete is injured and then suddenly all the help they were promised, for a degree for a profession, by staff dries up – oops! Out of luck! So, what’s a college student to do without the promise of big money, new car and lots of empty promises? Greed sounds about right. Hoping for big money in a contract, thinking that scouts might be interested in them and not realizing that most team owner are mainly focused on making money than being good role models for their players. What would any of these kids do for a million dollar contract or better yet 2 million? Poor examples are not only set by coaches and team owners but by major league players who set the tone for those to come. Going on strike if they do not get that 6 figure contract and big raise they think they deserve. So, what would happen if someone finally put the Cabash on salaries and actually made them work for the pleasure of playing a sport they claim to love?


Young college athletes learn from the best, or the greediest and are so overwhelmed with what they think will be their future they fail to see what is at the end of the yellow brick road: GREED, MONEY AND hopefully good health insurance incase they get hurt. Teachers and doctors work hard to instruct students and save lives and if they went on strike every time their unions did not pay up with big money or insurance companies skimped on payments, what would your nation’s medical care be like. Of yeah: Doctors are not any different than athletes everyone wants more and more money. Why do athletes feel they should be handed everything they want and have to not strife to earn it? Oh Yeah! Because they are athletes, good at what they do or maybe just okay and the school needs the revenue from the games and the concessions to keep the athletic department afloat.


“The pressures faced by young college athletes are too overwhelming and often drive these poor overworked students to drink, take steroids, drugs or even worse have no time for the mundane assignments required of them,” says the head coach of a small college. “Sometimes the pressure,” he continues, “ can be so unbearable, so great that while taking courses like beginning ceramics or pottery in this way they will be able to create their own casts if they have any broken bones remembering that they can put harmful stress on the players fingers and hands, and caution has to be heeded to make sure that they don’t burn themselves when using any of the tools like the kiln or ovens. Making sure they have extra accident insurance would help too. Football players might be offered a course in basic geometry in order to learn the differences between circles, diamonds and triangles and how these shapes might come in handy when reading their play books or formulating new plays. Baseball players might be offered courses in batting practice or hitting a piñata in order to strengthen their arms and enhance their batting averages. Basketball players might profit from the courses in basic shapes in order to be able to tell the difference between a sphere and a circle, which would help them find the hoop.


Athletes put themselves on the line every time they enter the playing field, the basketball court or just enduring a strenuous workout or practice. The academic curriculum and course load puts undue stress and pressure on these young people requiring them to stay up past curfew to study, to assignments and unfortunately have brain overload which might prevent them from doing what they are really in college to do and that is win games.


So, let’s be realistic and come to an understanding of how we as college coaches and college officials can lower the bar for them in order to attain some type of success. Incentives are the answer and eliminating the worry of having to live up to the high GPA of 2.0 is another way to prevent failure and insure that no one will be cut from the team. After all these athletes have a short lifespan on the field and within three or four years they will have outworn their worth and be ready for a more lucrative career working in McDonalds or even pumping gas.


Academic overload is dangerous and these young people should not have to bear the headaches, bodily aches and fear of getting cut from the team when many should have a course load of no more than one or two classes of their choice. But, these athletes provide such pleasure to spectators and bring in the funds that support the athletic department why not pay them for their skills? Getting into college must have been difficult if not traumatic for them until they either got daddy to hand over a big donation to the school or maybe someone wanted a star athlete and looked the other way when viewing their grades. Not every athlete cannot handle the workload but let’s be fair: the average athlete has to do his assignments, practice before and after class and on weekends, have weight training, conditioning and be sleep deprived. So, rather then stress them out the school should fund the bill for tutors to help them with their assignments, a massage therapist to work out their kinks and a heavy paycheck to make it worth their time. Minimum wage would not suffice after all they can get that working in Burger King or Subway. The colleges might even want to come up with pay scale based on athlete productivity, which team wins the most games and pay players accordingly. Incentives do work and paying them to score big points, practicing and doing the job they came to college for seems to be a step in the right direction.


Sports for profit that’s what it has come down too. If actors can demand their fair share of the million dollar pie then why shouldn’t young athletes get paid some big bucks too after all child stars get money to star in movies so why not pay for their services too. After all it’s only temporary. How long can they last? Legs, arms and bodies burn out, muscles can be strained, discs can rupture and even worse trigger thumb or finger from signing autographs. It’s all about money: Education needs to take a back page to the importance of paying a young superstar what he is worth. Is it really sports for profit? Have we lost sight of why people enter the sports arena? What happened to playing football, basketball and other sports because you have a passion for it? Money, Greed, Five Star Contracts and maybe even a stint as a host on ESPN. Is that what being an athlete has become? What’s Your Opinion?

 Fran Lewis


Fran Lewis: Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters Degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure. The title of my new Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey; Ruth’s story and Sharp as a Tack and Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain? Fran is the author of 11 titles.

She was the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites. You can read some of my reviews on Ezine.com and on ijustfinished.com under the name Gabina. Here is the link to her radio show www.blogtalkradio.com,


 Sal relaxing on Virgie's porch in Yukon.2003
Thomas Marshall is reported to have said nearly a century ago, “What  this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.”  But what did he know! As Vice President of the United States in President Woodrow Wilson’s administration (1913-1921), he once told a bodyguard that his V. P. job was pointless. “Nobody ever shoots a Vice President.”


Let me add that since the Surgeon General’s report in 1964 linked smoking to lung cancer, cigars, cheap or otherwise, along with cigarettes, are best left unlit.


So what then does this country really need? My father used to say, “If you want answers, go ask somebody who knows what he’s talking about.” So don’t you think it makes good sense to ask King Solomon, reputed to have been the wisest man who ever lived? Looking him up in the Good Book, I found, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17: 22). Ah hah! A merry heart, of course.


And what does a merry heart do? Henry Ward Beecher said, “Mirth is God’s best medicine.” Mirth is gladness expressed by laughter. Of course, his sister Harriet might not have agreed. The abolutionary author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was all seriousness, and in that novel, rightfully so.


How can laughter be precisely what our country needs? Looking around, can we find much of anything to laugh at? Wars and natural disasters are not so funny. Neither is hunger and homelessness. Politically, we are at the mercy of two parties who have traded in their dedication to service for a senseless Mexican standoff. Ecologically, our beloved Earth is in a heap of trouble, inspiring naysayers to predict our planet’s imminent demise. How can laughter in some small way smooth the wrinkles on the face of our nation?


Norman Cousins (1915 – 1990) was an American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate, who suffered a massive heart attack in 1980. Three years later,W.W. Norton and Company published  his book The Healing Heart. Its main premise stated that laughter could heal a literally broken heart.


I have always believed in the health value of laughter. To me it is truly the best medicine (except where a good strong prescription is required; let’s say, in the case of contracting a flesh-eating virus. You want to laugh, but honestly, it’s hard to laugh off a virus with a voracious appetite).


As a child growing up, I delighted in making my parents and siblings laugh. I told jokes. I performed ridiculous slapstick that usually backfired and earned me a few slaps from Mama or a belt, in absence of a stick, from Papa.


My older brother Alfonso once reassured me that I would never suffer a heart attack because I knew how to laugh away stress. My sister Anna once warned me, “You do that one more time and see what happens.”


My father was my best fan. He loved my humor. I’d get him laughing so hard, tears would pop out of his eyes, he’d reach for his back pocket and withdraw a large white handkerchief that he’d wave for truce. Mama would beg me to stop when Papa would laugh that hard. She’d pull on my arm as if the jokes were flowing out of my fingertips. She’d shake me like a jar of Ovaltine and milk, but I kept it up until my father wiped the last of his tears, sat down, and shook his head. If I said a word, his hand shot up and I knew he had had enough medicine for one day. An overdose would not have been in his good interest nor in mine.


I like reading stories and novels that make me laugh. In my younger days, I read Max Shulman’s hilarious novel Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys; Jack Douglas’ My Brother Was an Only Child and Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver; Joseph Heller’s Catch-22; Erma Bombeck’s  If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?


Humor, like music, soothes the savage beast, and while we have so many bloody novels about zombies, vampires, werewolves, serial killers, and spies, I think authors should try their hand at comedy. Come on, make us laugh! Remember that during the Great Depression (when almost everyone was depressed), folks spent their nickels at a picture show. They’d go to the movie houses and howl at the silent antics of Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Ben Turpin, Mabel Normond and a monkey barrel full of other very funny stars.


For some writers humor comes easily. One of them I know is Bob Rubenstein, author of Ghost Runners, which is not a funny book, a rather serious one set at the 1936 Olympics, but Bob is one of those people from whose mouth and pen gushes out humor, sometimes unintended. On the death of Sid Caesar he wrote on Facebook, “I remember his zany antics … the Japanese theater when he introduced his lovely daughter …Schmata. He was a man who fought alcoholism, drugs, and maybe that was the reason his life was cut short at 92. Who knows?”


Have I made my point that laughter is just what the doctor ordered? An apple a day is good but a laugh now and then everyday is even better.


I’d like to end my article with a truly funny event that literally knocked me off my feet


Many years ago at a dinner party in our apartment, my friend Pete told a very funny joke about an old Englishman who had loved going on safaris when he was much younger. Speaking in the British dialect of royalty (the old man was an earl or a duke), Pete told how one day while hunting the ferocious tiger, the beast suddenly lunged upon him and he screamed, “AAIYY!“ then fired his rifle, explaining that, out of fear, he had embarrassingly soiled his trousers.


Changing his voice somewhat, Pete spoke for one of the old man‘s young friends, “But Sir Henry, that is quite understandable. After all, it was a ferocious tiger that attacked you, and ––” Then back to the old man’s voice, Pete delivered the punch line, “No, you do not understand. When I just now screamed ‘AAIYY!‘ I soiled my trousers.”


Well, we all laughed for a long time. I let myself drop to the dining room floor. Then John followed suit, then his wife Barbara, then Tony and Rosalye, and then Pete and his wife Barbara.


At that point, all of us still rolling on the carpet, my ex-wife, the only one standing and the only one not laughing, made this prediction, “Sal one day is going to die laughing.”


From her mouth to God’s ear.





Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available athttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci


He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.





FLASH BULLETIN: Today’ s the perfect day to order copies:



Lucille Ball

It is a fact of life that all the mechanical lemons of the world end up in my home. I have reason to believe that there is a collective intelligence among electrical appliances that prey on unobtrusive women like myself.


I became suspicious of deliberate sabotage after moving into my first home, with all its modern conveniences. The vacuum cleaner, for instance, only ran in reverse. I never complained, until the day I vacuumed myself out the front door, which had an automatic lock. Three hours later, my husband came home from work and let me in. He tried to convince me the belt was on backwards, but I was reluctant to believe him.


The kitchen appliances were hardest on me, perhaps because I relied on them the most. The blender had twenty-five speeds, and all of them did the same thing – mixed everything together and spewed it across the kitchen. The coffee maker was particularly cruel. I set the timer for 7 A.M. and never got my coffee until 7 P.M. I was impressed with the pot-scrubbing dishwasher, until I realized that it washed only what it felt I needed, grinding the rest into an unrecognizable mess. My sixteen piece china setting was reduced to four in that many weeks. Fortunately, I gave small dinner parties. I gave up completely on the electric can opener. If I wasn’t a fresh food faddist, I might have starved to death.


The microwave oven sat smugly on the counter, daring me to try it. The first and only time I used it to defrost a bagel, it flashed HI at me. I never knew what that meant, but it seemed an obvious ploy to intimidate me, reminding me of my neighbor’s talking refrigerator. Every time she broke her diet, it told her husband. They’re divorced now.


My well-meaning husband bought me a miniature vacuum, knowing my problems with the upright. It ignored the crumbs on the rug, but greedily sucked up the freshwater pearls that hung from my neck, before it coughed and died. I considered getting an outside job in self-defense. I don’t want to tell you what my electric toothbrush did. It was too horrible for words.


I also owned one of the notorious sock-eating washing machines. Mine returned the socks, but only after I threw the survivors away. The machine was a rogue, bent on vibrating itself out of the laundry room, and dragging the hot water tank with it. I had no idea where it planned on going.


When my mother-in-law gave me a whirlpool for my bathtub, I screamed in terror, ran into to my bedroom and hid. The woman never forgave me for marrying her son. I wasn’t safe, even there. The air-conditioner tried to freeze me to death in my sleep.


Only my faithful sheepdog shared my aversion to appliances. My husband brought home a set of electric dog grooming scissors, which didn’t please either the dog or myself. When I turned them on, they jumped out of my hands and attacked the poor animal, who howled, took off down the street and spent the next two days with neighbors.


Even the iron turned on me, spitting every time I tried to fill it with water, giving me a healthy jolt when I shook it to make it stop. It scorched two out of every three shirts, getting especially steamed up over silk.


I thought that eventually my friends and family would accept the fact that appliances despised me. But no, they just kept buying me more. I threw the electric eyebrow tweezers away as soon as I unwrapped it. The possibilities of the pain it could have inflicted were limitless.


I didn’t particularly appreciate the weed trimmer I received for Easter, either. It tore across my once lush, green lawn with a mind of its own. After ripping up six feet of sod, it headed for the flower bed, where it neatly decapitated my tulips, roses, and the little ceramic elf that was supposed to bring good luck. In a final splurge of fury, it wrapped around my Dogwood stripling, and strangled itself to death. I sighed and walked back into the house, ignoring the startled looks of my overly inquisitive neighbors.


Don’t try and tell me that my appliances weren’t vicious. The electric garage door slammed down on me when I was half way into the garage. I swear I never touched the remote control button. Even my car had it in for me. It was a new model with a lot of buttons; entirely too many buttons. All I needed or wanted was OFF and ON. The first time I drove it, windshield wipers danced wildly on a sunny day. The temperature inside the car had to be over a hundred degrees, and messages flashed all around me; fasten seatbelt, close door, get gas, water, oil, etc. I never was able to figure out how to get into the trunk of that car. It suffered a major nervous breakdown on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and had to be towed away; supposedly because I poured water into the hole where the oil went.


It was rumored from time to time that I was abusive to my appliances. There was absolutely no truth to that. If the vacuum hadn’t rebelliously pulled away from me, it wouldn’t have fallen down the stairs. And if the food processor hadn’t choked on a carrot, I wouldn’t have stuck the wooden spatula between the blades and…well, you get the picture. I certainly had nothing to do with the washer’s escape attempts. The manual stated quite clearly that the machine could handle two king size pillows, which should equal six regular size pillows. The only time I may have been a touch abusive was when I kicked the refrigerator to make it stop humming. And it worked, although the automatic ice-maker spurted fifty pounds of ice cubes at me in retaliation. No, it wasn’t me that was abusive. Appliances hated me.


Initially, I harbored no animosity towards modern conveniences. After generations of roughing it, the human race deserved a little help. I just resented mechanisms that tried to outsmart me.


The computer was good at that. It chewed up discs like fourteen year old boys at a pizza party. To humble me, it flashed SYNTAX ERROR, STOP, and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING, refusing me access to any of my programs. Eventually, I discovered the secret of control–and unplugged it.


The most recent present I received was a digital calculator. It not only added, subtracted and did calculus, it also called the IRS. I knew then, my days were numbered.


Memoirist and humorist Micki Peluso is the author of  And The Whippoorwill Sang

April Fools’

Dear Readers,

With April 1st just around the corner, we just had to do something. For those of you who caught it, we posted a very funny story by James Secor, one we had published before. For those who didn’t, April Fools’. And now the real fun begins…



The Pommie

[Excerpt from “Grog Wars”, Coming Soon!]


Anne Sweazy-Kulju

I’ll take the little hinny with me on patrol. But it’ll be a Pig-shearing Expedition”, he grumbled.

“I’m afraid I don’t know what that means, Queensy. But I do appreciate your taking Bleeker with you”.

Queensy smirked and asked his friend, “Have you ever tried shearing a pig?”

“Certainly not; why would anyone do such a–”

“Exactly, Mate! It’s too much squealing, and too little wool. When it comes to hunting Indians with the Pommie, I think I’d rather take my chances with the pig”.


“You there, Pommie, three of us are heading out tonight; we’ll leave in an hour, maybe two. Hard to notice you haven’t been of a scouting party, so far, and here you’ll be leaving us tomorrow when we reach the fort”. He clucked facetiously. “So you know what that means, Pommie? Tonight is your night. We need a fourth, an’ you’re it”.

Bleeker stared aghast at Queensy for several long seconds before he found his voice. By then, Queensy was already headed back to check on the horses and cattle. “I wouldn’t go to a party with the likes of you, ever–Indian or otherwise, Mr. Queensy. I don’t bear fools”, he hollered after him, tossing his nose into the air.

Queensy stopped in his tracks, turned slowly and smiled wicked at the snit they called Bleeker. “Well, I find that wonky queer, mate. Your mum certainly did”.

Bleeker could only spit and huff at Queensy–to do more would be to invite pain. He snatched up his journal and pencils and hurried off for his buckboard.


Detergent blue sky, birdcalls and nothing else; it was too early to be morning already. Queensy shook his friend’s shoulder until he woke. “Georg-without-the-e didn’t make it back last night. Don’t know if he’s off on the one-way trail, or not. The, uh, the Pommie didn’t make it, either–so they tell me. One of the others in our party, that meaty-pawed cooper, he saw Georg in a bit of a pickle, he told me. At the time, he was locked in fierce battle himself and couldn’t be of a help to Georg. He went looking for him later on, but there was nothing for it. Everyone was gone”.

Burke shook the cobwebs from his head and expelled them with a yawn. “What…well, how bad a pickle was Georg in, did the cooper say?” Burke asked, concerned.

“Well, the cooper said Georg had hollered to him that his sidearm only had two pops left in it. When the cooper looked Georg’s way, he saw an Indian on Georg’s left, and another savage to his right. An’ as I mentioned, the bookish little pommie, Bleeker, whinger about everything under the sun, including the sun, well, the cooper caught sight of him too—of course he was carrying on like a hinny, savages all around and he’s worthless as tits on a bull—I tried to tell you, Burke, pig shearing…”

Burke exhaled audibly. “We all know how you feel about him. Well, did the cooper say whether Georg had managed to shoot the Indians?”

“That’s just it, Mate. Georg didn’t shoot either one! The cooper said Georg shot that pommie twice, instead!”

If you agree with Anne Sweazy-Kulju (and Anatole France) that history books that contain no lies are extremely dull, visit her website: www.Historical-Horse-Feathers.com, and read more of the author’s fun perversions of the past!







Kenneth Weene

Curtis had never been this far before. It was a big step. His father would have been pleased, but the old man was dead.

“That’s what happens when you take risks,” his mother had lectured. Her words had become the foundation stone of his life — a life lived within the safety of a metaphorical rock bunker.

“What am I doing?” Curtis questioned himself. He had to stop and hold on to a parking meter, to give himself time to think through his options. There were two – go forward or retreat.

“Tick. Tick,” the meter was counting seconds. Five minutes left.

Home beckoned: The safety of his front yard.  The comfort of the living room, where the television offered glimpses into a world so seductive yet so terrifying to enter. The security of his bedroom and the soft quilt under which he could lie and dream of love.

Love — that was the force which impelled him forward.  If she were not worth the risk, then there would never be a reason to leave his house, his yard, and especially not his room.

The parking meter clicked. The red flag.

She was his dream, the focal point of Curtis’s energy. For her he would brave the world.

Stumbling, he let go of the parking meter and moved forward. One more block. He could see the sign.

Another guy was going in. “What if they run out?” The thought pushed Curtis onward. “She’d never forgive me.”

Breathing heavily, Curtis burst through the door. “Do you have it? I have to buy it for her.”

“What?” the woman behind the counter asked in a removed voice not unlike his mother’s.

“The new Disney magazine. The one with Miley’s pictures. On the show, she told me; she told me to buy it.”








Sal Buttaci

We all waited for Ivan Petrovsky’s luck to change. No, not change. Melt into a dark viscous residue of terribly bad luck. Okay, we were over-the-top jealous of Ivan Petrovsky who dreamed of owning and living in the only gated dacha house on Bartholomew Street.

We were less-than-neighborly neighbors, mostly renters of post-World War II dilapidated tenements that groaned under the weight of neglected years, including 114 Bartholomew Street where Petrovsky made what he called “his temporary residence.”

“Going some place?“ Scanlan the tailor asked him.

Then in an almost undetectable Russian accent he cryptically replied, “Dreams come true.“

In his childhood Ivan, his engineer parents, and his brother Sergey lived in an eye-captivating dacha in Pitsunda on the Black Sea. In fact, as Ivan told us numerous times, “Nikita Khruschev owned the next dacha.“ We would have fared better with Nikita next door than with Ivan.

He had won several lotteries. Nothing like millions, but enough to create a “Mr. Lucky” reputation. Once he said he would bet one dollar on 0-0-0-0. The following morning we checked the newspaper. 0-0-0-0. Petrovsky won five thousand big ones!

He had panache. You could see it in his swagger and that enigmatic pencil-thin smile. Though friendly enough, he felt superior because his family centuries ago sat in the czarist courts. The consensus of the neighborhood? If only we could all move to Winchester Circle, smile mysteriously, and hold up our noses like Ivan Petrovsky.

He was the picture of “imperially slim,” but unlike the poet Robinson’s “Richard Cory,” he harbored no hidden despair, no gun, and no bullet for his head. He was capital D dapper.

I’d been living on Bartholemew Street since grade school. Petrovsky in his early twenties   moved in close by. Ever meet folks with a one-track mind? No matter the conversation, they unrail it and set their wheels on their favorite subject? Obsessive Ivan droned on about the eggshell-white dacha he would one day own.

One February morning, a few cities away, I came across a contest announcement in the daily free newspaper. “Win a Dream House” it read. The picture showed a huge plantation home. A  possible win for the man who seemed to win everything? In several copies I filled out a few contest entries with Petrovsky’s name and address. The winner would be announced at the start of April.

No surprise. Ivan won the dream house. A rep from the sponsor, a three-man bugle band in tow, delivered it to his apartment on April 1.

“Congratulations, Mr. Petrovsky. You won an excellent replica of Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage House, fashioned by American Cast-Iron Edifices! Place it on your mantle. Use your Home-of-the-Month discount card to purchase more houses from our impressive collection.”

When the implacable Ivan Petrovsky confessed his bad luck to Donovan the bartender after several shot glasses of Stolichnaya, the revelation traveled up and down Bartholomew like a Russian MiG-31 Foxhound jet.

We all applauded Ivan’s sudden turn of events.



Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available athttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci

He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.






The Case of an Ape Gone Berserk

The Case of an Ape Gone Berserk:

an “I Was There Mystery”


James L. Secor, B.A., M.S., Ph.D., Q.P.Q.

Any PI just out of school could have solved this case but it came to me because the Zoo was my territory. Perhaps this was because of my circus background. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I was there. I had a job to do.

I was called about 6 PM. I was just sitting down to a nice TV dinner, beef bourgoyne with mashed potatoes and gravy, and a can of Hamm’s Special Light Lager when the phone rang. Damn! I thought. Just when Dialing For Dollars was getting exciting. I reached over to the end table and picked up the phone, a red Nextel I took off my belt when I got home. As always.

“Hyellow,” I said.

“Is this Sammy Thimblerigger?”

“Sypeaking. Syammy Thimblerigger in person. Nyot an answering machine. Hate the dyamned things. Whyat d’ya want?”

“This is the Downtown Zoo. We got a problem with an ape. She’s gone mad. Jeez, you should see her! We can’t do nothing with her. We think it was something somebody gave her.”

“Syounds like the yape’s gone berserk. Tried a byaseball byat? Thyirty-four inch signed Reggie Jackson issue?”


“Hyow about an aluminum byaseball byat?”

“No. We can’t get near her.”

“You got a case there. They usually respond to this kyind of treatment. Yonly thing they understand.”

“This is a different kind of ape. Baba’s special.”

“Thyat’s what they yall say. They’re all alike. Yan ape’s an ape’s an ape. I’ll be right dyown.”

I sighed. No TV. No beef bourgoyne. What could be worse of an evening? So, I lifted my TV tray away, cursing the day I’d left the bargain on the wheeled variety go by, and carried my dinner to the kitchen. I drained the Hamm’s and put the dinner in the fridge carefully wrapped in Best Buy clear plastic wrap. It didn’t stick well. Maybe I’d break down and buy the more expensive brand next time. Be that as it may, I’d be back before too long. “Styupid yape,” I muttered under my breath as I crushed the can and tossed it in the garbage under the sink.

I got to the Zoo in no time flat. Lucky I guess. Hit a pocket of light traffic at traffic time. Even these people should be at home, I thought. What’s the matter with them?

They were waiting for me at the front gate. There was alot of growling and hooting and hollering going on behind them. The Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Secretary to the Superintendent in spine-tingling short skirt, Head Zookeeper, Assistant Head Zookeeper, the Ape House Supervisor and Winkin, Blinkin and Nod the three Ape House Attendant Drudges led me to the screaming meany. The Superintendent, dressed in white linen suit, shouted at me the entire way. The din was unbearable. I was literally deaf by the time we reached the offensive primate.

“Baba is special. She’s one of Koko’s apes. Speaks sign language.”

Yeah, right, I thought. An intelligent ape. A berserk intelligent ape. Sheesh.

We gathered around the eight-foot square cage. As the black hairy beast flung itself, not for the first time, at the iron bars and shouted at us incoherently, pearly whites flashing, we stepped back. She dropped to the concrete floor and began hooing and hawing and making furious hand signals. Baba was clearly disturbed. She beat her chest in cliché fashion. She jumped up and down. She flung herself at the bars again, reaching through and punching a huge undulating fist at us. We took another step back. This was one ticked off simian.

The lot of us retreated to the Superintendent’s office. He sat behind his oaken desk with the burnished gold pen and pencil set and the marble paperweight in the shape of a seated elephant and the glass ashtray that looked all the world like a turtle giving birth. The others took up their respective positions, Winkin, Blinkin and Nod on the fringes, near the door. I sat in one of the wing-back brown leather chairs with brass studs.

“Yokay. What’s the big yape saying?”

“We don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“We don’t know.”
“Hyave you called an interpreter?”

“We thought it best to wait til you got here.”

I knew just who to call. I’d worked with her before. Had several of her cards in my card catalogue at home. She’d had lots of experience with outrage before.

“I know just hywho to call. Lyet me see your phone.”

The Superintendent handed me a 1920’s stand-up job that looked all the world like a giraffe. I dialed the orange and white dialer. Modern kitsch, I thought. A dial pulse tone phone.

“Hyellow. Is Deb Brown in?. . .Thyis is Sammy Thimblerigger. . . .Hi to you too, officer. Heh-heh. . . .Dyebbie old girl. Y-it’s Sammy. Hyow ya doin’?. . . . Syorry about that but they’re gonna hafta fend for themselves. I got a hot one. . . Yat the Zoo. . . .Dyowntown. . . .Yeh. . . .Meetcha at the front gate.” I hung up. Passed the giraffe back to the Superintendent. “Problem solved. Dyebbie Brown is a Level III Interpreter. Shye’s good at dealing with myad people. Yif they don’t cuss too much. Shye doesn’t like signing them words. Makes her hyands feel dirty. Yif you know what I mean.”

They nodded. We waited. I went to the gate. Deb was there in no time.

“Hi, Sammy.”

“Hi, Deb.”

“What have you got?”

“A myad ape.”

“And you need an Interpreter!?”

“Thyis is Baba. Yone of Koko’s breed.”

“Oh. I see.”

Baba was still acting up. She quieted down as soon as Deb started in with the hand jive. After a few frantic exchanges, Deb turned to me.

“I can’t say all that, Sammy. She says she wants George.”

“George is a male?”

“George is a human male. She says she loves him and must have him.”

“Thyat’s disgusting.”

“She says they talked for some time. He said he loved her, blew her a kiss and disappeared.”

“Yand she wants him back?”

“Yes. She says she’s ready to make a commitment.”

“Yokay. Lyet’s go byack to the office. They’ve got cameras. Syee?” I pointed upward and waved.

We got back to the office. Deb and I sat down in the wing-back brown leather chairs with the brass studs.

“She wants George. Apparently some guy came by and made a pass at her. She’s ready,” Debbie reported matter of factly.

“I see you have video camera coverage. Cyan we see the filum?”


Winkin, Blinkin and Nod departed. We waited.

“They should be ready now. Shall we go?”

The Superintendent led us all to the Security Booth. We all crammed into the small room behind the seated Security Guard in his mauve and blue epauletted uniform. He sat before a wall of 12″ TV screens. TNTC. He pointed to one.

“Dis heah is da ape cage camra.”

“Whyat time did Baba begin exhibiting this behavior?”

“I dunno. I wadn’t on den.”


“Winkin, Blinkin and Nod?” he asked in turn.

“About 2 PM,” they chorused in three-part harmony.

So, we had the Security Guard backtrack to about 1 PM. Sure enough, there was a man dressed in blue serge and red tie signing to Baba. Baba became excited. She came right down to the bars. They signed some more. The gent signed “I love you” and blew Baba a kiss. As he turned away, the camera caught a full facial.

“Thyat’s our man! Whyat’d he say?”

“I’m embarrassed to say. But the nicer parts were that he loved her and he wanted to marry her and something about a big banana. He’s kind of awkward at signing. She’s easier to understand.”

“Thyat’s our George!”

“Georgie Porgy puddin’n pie, kissed the girls and made them cry.”

“You’re perverse, Deb.”

“Just a little levity. May I go home now? I’ll send you the bill.”

She left. We got a picture of the perp. I went about my business. I’m a private eye.

To make a long story short, we found our man. Baba was insistent. There was nothing we could do. The long and the short of it is, if you go to the Downtown Zoo, you’ll see Baba and George together at last. George looks a little sheepish, though, without his suit.



Jimsecor is a long time social activist. As a playwright, he fell in love with Absurdism and this approach to writing has stayed with him. He’s written essays and articles and award winning tanka, become over-educated and traveled the world. His latest work is Det. Lupée: The Impossible Cases. But the very first detective mystery was the above, a flight of fancy. He can be found at home or at http://labelleotero.wordpress.com.



Murder in the Supermarket by Stuart Carruthers


I’m after a book, I know the shop that has it, and I know what it costs. I don’t like to waste time shopping. In fact I’m slightly obsessive about saving time.

The Internet was my godsend.

I browse online for books, but I buy them from my favorite bookshop. Why don’t I buy books online if I don’t like shopping? Life is far from ideal and not easily answered.

I work in a drab building 60’s tower block, which, like many of the older inmates, has cancer. The functional furniture was designed by engineers, engineered for space and efficiency, with no thought given to the inhabitants. The fluorescent strip lights stings my eyes, so at lunchtime, I escape for some fresh air and rush to the bookshop, followed by a Marks and Sparks sandwich and fruit juice and a sit in the park with my new book.

If it’s raining or very cold, I head over to a peaceful back alley deli for a freshly made pastrami and honey mustard sandwich on crusty farmhouse bread and a glass of squeezed juice. To warm the bones there’s also a daily soup. It’s pricey, but as an administrative manager for a bank, I can afford it occasionally. A wife, a child and a 40 mile commute take their toll on the rest of my pay packet.

About a week ago, one of my underlings royally fucked up and nearly failed his three-month probation. He had committed several clerical mistakes that resulted in some of our credit card customers being overcharged. Several complained and threatened to change banks.

As his supervisor I took most of the responsibility and was hauled across the coals. I was stressed not only because my team had screwed up but because I could have prevented the mistake by doing my job. Instead, I killed time at work browsing online for books just out of sheer boredom.

Being bollocked makes me feel inadequate, just the way I was as a 14 year old at school. “Hunter” my math’s teacher would shout “what is x if –b plus the square root of b2-4ac divided by 2a?” and I’d stand there and quiver.


“I what Hunter?”

“I don’t know, sir”

“You don’t know? Weren’t you listening?” and then, without waiting for an answer he’d turn to someone else and in a withering tone say  “Johnson tell Hunter what the answer is”.

Of course my carpeting wasn’t anything like that, 30 years on. It was all a bit more civilized. But my ingrained reaction was the same, and my bowels churned.

I angrily left for lunch in a rush from the barren walls, fluorescent lighting, stale air and most of all the noise, the constant chit chat and shrill squeal of the temp agency girl flirting with the young men. Any other day I’d envy them and let it wash over me. Today, I felt they sensed my anger and were carrying on this way deliberately to bait me.

The crisp February air and sunshine were a welcome change from the murk of the office. I still felt unhinged, my head filled with a dense fog. It was like a serious head cold that causes stupid errors of judgment or retarded performance of even the simplest tasks such as getting on the right bus or checking that the road is clear.

I walked down the street, got on the tube, caught the train and went home, calling in sick from the train. It may have looked a bit suspicious, but I was more afraid of what might have happened had I stayed in the office.

Arriving at the station, I walked the 15 minutes home. Nobody would be there, my wife was at work and my daughter was at school.

Shit. It was half term. I’d forgotten all about it. I leave for work before my daughter gets up and return home after her normally. I’m a bit out of touch with her schedule.

“Hi Dad”, she said as I walked through the door

“Hi Jess…ah struth, its half term, isn’t it?”

“Er yeah? What you doing home?,

“Oh, I’m sick.”

“Bunking off more like,” she smiled

“Yeah, something like that.”

The mist had cleared a little. I liked seeing Jess. I missed her when I didn’t see her and as we grew older we were seeing less and less of each other.

“Say seeing as we’re both at home, do you want to go to a movie and grab a pizza for dinner?”

“Sorry Dad, I’m meeting Dianne and Susan in town in an hour or so”

“Ok, have fun, I’ll go to Sainsbury’s and treat myself.”

I went up stairs to change into jeans, t-shirt and jumper, pulled on some shoes, pulled the car keys off the rack and went to the car.

The drive was uneventful. But, because it was half term, the place was full of mums and their kids. It was like hell on earth and I was about to enter the seventh circle of it.

Hell is other people, according to Sartre. I’d say hell is a supermarket or shopping center during a school holiday.

The vegetable aisle thronged with human cattle. The elderly pulling along bags ready for an extra bottle of booze or a pack of biscuits; the chronically unemployed shy and feckless in their pajamas and slippers; mums of all types who needed to get something for the night’s tea as the half term upset their normal routine; and a few who fitted no category, people who should be working but weren’t. Maybe they’d finished for the day, were throwing a sickie or taking the afternoon off just as I was.

I let out a deep sigh as the mental fog descended again. I didn’t want to be around people and expected the supermarket, in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week, to be a quiet haven. I felt as if I were suffocating.

All I needed was a space at the deli counter for some nice pate, cheese and biscuits and then the wine aisle. Instead, I was blocked at every turn by a trolley or a small child and forced to perform little hopscotch-style jumps and shuffles to get through.

At the deli counter, I was out of breath and turning puce. Gripping the top of the counter, I deliberately took deep, slow breaths. It took a few minutes before I began to calm down.

Then some Neanderthal, halfbreed blubber babe in pink fleece pajamas and pink slippers wailed at a kid called Jedward and bumped, I should say rammed, into my back. She was walking at full speed and suddenly turned to clip Jedward around the head. I know his name because she was yelling it in his ear.

But then, to my utter incomprehension she wailed on me and spewed forth a  string of expletives about how I was in her way. I took it for over a minute before I pulled out a night stick and beat her senseless – well, dead, actually. She was senseless before I laid a splinter on her. Her head cracked loudly and the blood scattered around the scene like droplets of mercury on a science lab desk. Her kid screamed in terror.

What was his problem? He was free now to change his name and escape the brutality of his life.

His fat mother, eyes popping out of her skull, jaw hanging loosely, would never speak abusively to anyone again.

I pulled off my jumper and t-shirt, wiped the blood off my face and walked calmly from the store. Time was frozen, and I walked through it. I didn’t hear anybody scream. Everyone parted as silently as the electric doors through which I left.

At least that’s what I wanted to have done as I slowly stirred from my dream of what might have happened.

The woman stopped shouting obscenities; I turned to the deli server and ordered. She poked me again.

“Are you gonna say sorry?”


“You deaf or stupid? Are… you… gonna… apologize?”

“For what? You bumped into me, I was just standing here”

“ You want a slap mister?”

I was beginning to wish I had the night stick.

“I’m sorry for bumping into you” I said without a hint of sarcasm.

She still picked up on my lack of sincerity. “You being funny mister?”

“No, I mean it I am truly sorry”,

“Well what you gonna do about it?”

The image of her dead body sprawled on the floor returned briefly.

“I’ve apologized, what more, could you want?”

“You could compensate me”,

“I don’t think so”,

“Buy me my shopping or I’ll claim sexual harassment”

I smiled at the thought of someone molesting this hag. I leaned back to breathe out of my mouth, to avoid the smell of cigarette smoke on her breath.

“What you laughing at?”

“Nothing, nothing”, I said before turning to the deli server, and asking him to pass me his meat tenderizer.

Stuart Carruthers is a sceptical deist, pseudo geek and frog herder. Having escaped British winters he now lives in Taiwan where he shares his house with his wife and two kids.


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I Don’t Want to Leave!


            A park in Paris. What could be nicer? Or, as we French say, “Qu’a pu être plus gentil?” The weather was lovely. The smells perfect. It was heaven. Pigeons and sparrows to watch. An occasional dog to be ignored. After all, they are beneath me. I have been in shows and have a reputation. My parents had taken me to Paris as a birthday present, and I was going to show those French dogs how a real poodle prances. Others who took no notice of my presence must have never been privileged to my status.

They had taken me to see all the sites, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, L’Arc de Triomphe. We stayed at Hôtel Regina at deux Place des Pyramides with a golden statue of Jean d’Arc in the center of the square, next to Rue de Rivoli and the Louvre. Four star all the way. Dad and Mom took me for evening strolls in front of the museum. Very fitting in my estimation, especially when Dad had to pick up after me. Class all the way, no mess left behind. I do enjoy a good walk. “J’apprécie une bonne promenade avec les humains.” Besides, boring walks are for those beneath my celebrated stature.

“It’s time to leave,” Mom said as she stifled a yawn.

I don’t want to leave!

“Gigi needs to take a nap before dinner.”

No I don’t! Just because you’re tired doesn’t mean I am!

Dad checked his watch. “Yeah, it’s five-thirty. She was a royal pest last night at the café. So overtired, she wouldn’t stay still, kept going from lap to lap.”

I wasn’t overtired. I was bored. Parents can be so misinformed.

My father picked up the bags of souvenirs while Mom gathered her camera and my leash.

“Come on, Gigi,” Dad stated. “Time to get back to the hotel for your nap.”

Nap? Je n’ai pas besoin d’un petit somme; je veux jouer! No nap for me !

A fragrant leaf fell nearby. I investigated with a whole-hearted sniff. Is that hamburger with a dash of béarnaise sauce? The French sure know how to cook!

Mom pulled me towards the exit. I made my objections known.

“Tisk,” I stated. “Tisk, tisk, tisk.” Why don’t they respond? I’m dead serious about my unhappiness. “Tisk, tisk, tisk!”

“Honey,” Mom said to Dad, “isn’t Gigi so cute? She’s upset about leaving the park and is tisking.”

Renversement? Naturellement je suis bouleversé.

“She’s a sweetie,” he admitted lovingly.

I know I’m cute. I’m the Dauphine. It’s says so on my papers—Dauphine Giselle. That’s a royal French title. Since I’m the Dauphine, I shouldn’t have to leave this park. This is Le Tuiliers and was intended for royalty like me! This is MY park.

“Have you noticed all the people who want to pet her? She’s the prettiest toy poodle in Paris,” Mom spoke to Dad.

Prettiest toy poodle? I bet I’m the only toy poodle; all the others are bigger and not nearly as beautiful.

At the crosswalk, Mom picked me up. She gave me gentle kisses on the top of my head. This won’t get you off the hook. All those kisses won’t change the fact that you took me from the park. Waiting for the light to change, I kept tisking. I hoped by some miracle my pleas would cause them to turn around and go back to the park. Then I tried the pout. You know that ploy that few parents can resist. Nope. Not one reaction.

Once we crossed the street on the same block as the hotel, Mom spotted a dog. A nice old lady held a snippy little Yorkie named Luc. He was cute and sniffed at me, but definitely not my type. He was a dog after all and not a poodle. There are some standards, which must be maintained. Poodles are people, and in my estimation, all the rest are dogs. I greeted him cordially and wasn’t rude, but he clearly knew his place in the social stratosphere. Luc’s Mom patted me on the head. She was kind and I didn’t hold it against her that she didn’t recognize the superior qualities that is poodle.

In the lobby, we paused to enjoy the luxurious surroundings. Still very disheartened with my parents, I made a point of stopping at the reception desk to voice my objection, stood squarely and looked up at Jean-Paul, the concierge. “Wow, wow, wow,” in my best French accent. “Wow, wow!”

“Monsieur and Madame, Gigi is adorable,” Jean-Paul replied with a thick French accent as he looked down from the towering desk.

            Adorable? Non. Je suis magnifique!

“Merci, Jean,” Mom answered. “We’re off to our room so Gigi can have a nap.”

She’s back to the nap thing again. Mom’s got a one-track mind.

Dad added, “You know how children can be when overtired.”

Mom received my famous eye roll. She didn’t get that message either. Resigned that there would be no more park for the rest of the day, I headed to the elevator.

“Look, after only one night, she knows the way to the elevator,” Jean-Paul mentioned.

Of course, I remember where the elevator is—I am a poodle after all!

When the elevator doors opened, Mom released the leash. I scampered down the hall to room 318. Dad and Mom trailed behind as I sat there giving the cutest tail wag I could muster. It seemed to me, they wanted the nap, and I was merely their excuse.

“Gigi is so smart,” Dad mentioned proudly. “Look, she knows where the room is.”

Duh, Dad. You were holding me when you checked into this hotel, and I remembered the room number. Jean-Paul must’ve mentioned it at least twice. After all, I can read, all poodles can; it’s dogs who can’t read.


Card-key in slot. Familiar buzz sounded. I ran in and around, jumped on the bed and settled between the two pillows. Don’t nap, I told myself, just rest my eyes so they think I’m sleeping.

The next thing I remembered was Mom waking me up for dinner. A nice piece of steak was my reward. I’ll never admit to taking that nap!

Note from author: Is there a real Gigi in our lives? Yes. She’s a breathing, pompous white toy retired show poodle who stole our hearts and runs the roost. The incident described is the truth, as I imagined what thoughts ran through her cute little mind.


© 2013 Cynthia B. Ainsworthe

IPPY Award Winner, Front Row Center, romance

Reader’s Favorite International Award Winner, The Speed of Dark, fiction anthology, Clayton C Bye

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Front-Row-Center-Cynthia-Ainsworthe/dp/0980245907/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345825833&sr=1-1&keywords=cynthia+b+ainsworthe

The Write Room Blog: http://www.thewriteroomblog.com/?p=366

The Trouble with the Joneses – A Harry Patterson short by Stuart Carruthers

“Oi that hurt. Stop it you crazy cow.”

That one was an orange onyx ashtray and it bounced off my shoulder before leaving a hole in the grass. Any higher and I’d have been lying spark out on the garden I was standing on.

It all started a week before when I got called into my editor’s office after a few weeks of reporting on Christmas nativity scenes.

“Harry, Joe ‘Jawbreaker’ Jones, has been nicked, go and cover his trial and the impact on the community. Take Max with you for the photos when the trial ends.”

“Yes boss.”

I’d only been in the job a year, and this was my first real assignment. I’d covered court cases before as a trainee when I went and watched cases about minor stuff like shop lifting and drunks being wheeled out in front of a magistrate, but Mad Joe was serious. He and his family had been terrorizing the area for the last 20 years and he’d got away with it every time. He was a nutter. The case lasted a week and it was a foregone conclusion, he was going down and when the judge returned to pass sentence he was given five years. His family, sitting next to me, shouted and booed when the pronouncement was given and when I started to ask questions I was given a thinly veiled threat from one of the younger members of the family.

“Piss off unless you want your pretty little fingers broken,” was how he phrased it. My fingers are neither pretty nor little. These gnarled things had worked hard on my late father’s farm and good genes had made them the size of dinner plates, but I took his point and left it for a day or so to go and talk to some of his victims. They were scared, the family had long arms and they were keen that their protection racket wouldn’t stop funding their middle class lifestyle just because Pa had gone away for few years. A few “off the record” conversations with no names and no pack drill hadn’t given me enough for a paragraph, never mind the four columns that my editor expected for the Friday edition. I needed to do something drastic.

“Max, I need some decent snaps so I can build a story, let’s do some detective work.”

Max, was the same age as me and just getting started. Luckily he was as keen as I was stupid and he was up for any plan I had.

“Alright ‘arry what’s the plan?”

The plan was to follow the little thug that had threatened me and find out what he was up to. He was easy enough to find, the ‘family’ drank in a shithole of a pub where they were given free drinks in exchange for not burning the place down. Walking through the stained glass wooden doors we approached the bar and the place fell into the kind of deathly silence that would have allowed a gnat’s fart to be heard. All eyes fell upon us like the spotlights on an escaping prisoner. I leaned on the bar and ordered a couple of beers from the barman, who looked at one of the family, before being given the go ahead.

“What do you want, pal? I told you to get lost unless you want your hands broken.”

“I just want a drink is that so wrong?”

“Drink it and leave, it’s on the house.”

I expected as much, and Max and I necked our pints before peeling my jacket sleeve from the sticky, beer drenched bar and heading out into the frigid February air and into our car that parked up the road.

Three hours later and we were still there, feeling like castrated metal apes.

“Jesus it’s cold,” I complained for twentieth time, as I breathed on my hands.

“Oh shut up ‘arry, it’s fuckin’ winter. You know it’s gonna last for another few months. Anyway I reckon he’ll be out soon, he must have something to do today.”

Max’s intuition was spot on and next time we looked up, this bloke and a couple of mates were leaving the pub. They climbed into a nearby Cosworth and disappeared round the corner before my Montego had even got warm.

Just as we turned the corner, in the same direction that they’d gone, and cursing myself for not keeping the engine running, we saw the same red RS had been stopped by a Panda and the boot was open with a police officer holding, in his gloved hand, a sawn-off shotgun.

“That’s one for the good guys. Max, get a picture of that will you, I think I have my story, but first let’s go and tell the poor man’s mother.”

A five minute drive and we were outside Ma’s house and I knocked on the door.

“I know you. You were outside the court when my Frankie was sent down. Barry told you to get lost.”

“Yeah, I just saw him having a conversation with the policeman holding a shotgun. It seems like you may be losing a son as well. Now do you have anything to say for the Herald?”

She slammed the door in my face and the next thing I know pots, pans and a lot of abuse are being thrown at me from an upstairs window.

The photographs were great; especially the ones of me cowering behind my car after the ashtray nearly dislocated my shoulder and her other children speeding down the road to rescue Ma and coming over with baseball bats to damage my hands and Max’s camera. We sped off for the good of our health.

Barry was locked up for a six months, and I was given a death threat, which, after the windows on my car were broken, I took seriously enough to hand in my notice and see what Hong Kong could offer to a probationary hack.


Stuart Carruthers was born in England, where he lived until 2005 when he decided to sell everything and move to Taiwan because “no one he knew had ever been there”. Several years later he married and had two children. He’s written 2 short stories about Harry in Hong Kong which can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/Stuart-Carruthers/e/B008LR5FRM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1