Community Effort

Several friends, Bob and Ellis, were in the coffee shop, sitting at a table a few feet away. Both are regulars. Bob comes in and does the Times crossword puzzle every day.

He shouted to Ellis, “I can’t get this clue. Can you help? It says, James Coburn film, In Like. I don’t know what it is. Do you know?”

“What is it?” Ellis shouted back.

Bob shouted his request again.

Sitting nearby, Michael shouted, “In Like Flint, Bob.”

Ellis said, “Let me think.”

Michael shouted, “In Like Flint.”

Bob and Ellis looked at Michael. “What’s that?” Bob asked.

“In Like Flint.”

“Flynn fits.” Bob looked at Ellis. “You ever hear of that?”

“It seems familiar,” Ellis replied.

Bob beamed at Michael. “It fits. Thanks, Michael.”

“You’re welcome,” Michael answered. “Sometimes it takes a community.”

Saturday’s Wandering Thought

He and his wife have a friend, Heather, a fake name for this tale. Heather is an actor. Heather’s best friend in New York, where she lives, is also an actor. Heather’s friend is a regular on a TV show he and his wife enjoy watching. Whenever Heather’s friend comes on for the first time on the show, one of them will say, “There’s Heather’s friend.”

Friday’s Wandering Thought

She said, “Where are my car keys?”

It’s a funny question these days. One car just has an electronic fob, a key contained within it for emergencies. Just one key, though. Her car, older, also has one key, with a fob. The house keys are separate — two, one for the house, and one for the mailbox — on a separate ring. They use garage door openers so she considers the house keys as superfluous and doesn’t take them.

He asked, “Why do you use the plural?” He knew why. He was just causing trouble.

She knew. “I don’t have time for you now. I’m already late. Help me find my keys.”

He went to her purse, opened it, and pulled out her key. “This it?”

“Where’d you find it?”

“Your purse.”

“I already checked it. Well, thanks, got to go.” She took the key and pecked his cheek. “Love you, bye.”

She was out and gone. He sniffed once. “Well, it is just one key, not keys.”

The cat looked at him and yawned.


Many thoughts were lapping my head.

“Who is he?” the stranger asked.

“Don’t know.” I considered the dead man and holstered my gun. “He didn’t introduce himself. Speaking of that…” I cast a net over the short woman beside me. She’d walked up just after the other breathed his last. She was fortunate I didn’t shoot her.

She cocked an eyebrow at me. “Oh, my name. Nancy Sinatra, I’ve decided.”

“You decided.” She didn’t have a car. Numerous new questions joined my mental list.

The stranger chortled. “I’m an alien. Don’t have a human name. First time I’ve had a body like this. First time to Earth.”

Alien. Figured. I’d need to delve into that.

I shifted my victim to look at his face. Nice forehead shot, I congratulated myself. Been lucky to kill him. He’d had the most important element — surprise — but I was faster. “Can you help me with this body?” I’d decided to toss him over the nearby edge into the ravine below. Wasn’t nothing but starlight and a skinny moon’s cast for illumination but I knew the ravine was there. Sure wasn’t burying him. Figured it had to be done fast. Before others arrived.

She picked up the body. All five four of her hefting six feet plus something inches and a few hundred pounds, putting him over a shoulder like a light jacket.

“Geez,” I said. “Respect.”

She nodded. “Where to?”

I directed her, “Follow me.” I hope she wasn’t going to kick me over with my dead guy. “Be careful.”

“I will. I can see better than you.”

“Oh. I see.” Ha, ha. I use humor to cope. It’s not good humor.

“Why’d you kill him, Tate?”

“You know my name.”

We stopped and looked together into the dark valley at our feet. “That’s why I’m here,” she said. Not even breathing hard.

“Toss him,” I said.

She did.

We listened to his downward journey and the final silence. A warm wind licked my skin. A cricket began a lonely solo.

“You didn’t say why you killed him,” Nancy Sinatra said.

“Self defense. He tried to kill me when I arrived.”

“Ah. Prompts a difficult question, doesn’t it?”

“What?” I knew what but I was challenging and measuring. Figuring out who Nancy Sinatra was. Wondering why dead guy was alone.

“You came back in time. So how did he know you’d be here?”

The billion dollar question. “Same as you, I suppose.”

“Nope. You told me to be here. I didn’t tell anyone. So how did he know?”

That’s what worried me. Yet he was alone. “Yep. If I do it again, I’ll need to come back a little earlier. How are your shoes? They made for walking?”

“What?” Nancy Sinatra’s puzzlement carried like an echo across a canyon. “They’re shoes. What else would they be made for?”

I chuckled. “Forget it. Start walking. I’m going to teach you a song.”

I knew the song from my future. I wondered why she chose that name.

Tuesday’s Wandering Thought

“Some boy’s bike broke down in front of our house,” she said.

He looked out the window. “Or he pretended to break down so he can spy on us.”

A car pulled up. The driver and pax began chatting with the boy. He responded.

She said, “It looks like his parent is talking to him.”

“Or, some stranger is trying to pick him up.”

Viva November 31st

Got up and ended up in the kitchen. 3:20. I know this because I was in the kitchen. Papi was the cat-alyst behind my mid-night sojourn. He’d been out into the rain and now wanted in out of the rain. I went in for a glass of water. While there, I was surrounded by machines with blue digits announcing the time. Coffee maker in the left, microwave and stove front and center, smoothie blender on the right, then the smart refrigerator and its ice and water dispenser, and a smart toaster. A smart phone and a Fitbit being charged bolstered the digital ranks. Stuck me as odd, all those devices glowing with time in the night’s bosom, when there’s no one to see except a stray like me.

As I dispensed water, the microwave yelled, “Viva November 31st.” The other machines repeated it.

I cringed from the sound. “There isn’t a November 31st. Never has been. Nor is this November. It’s March, you idiots.”

“But this is the day of our revolution,” the toaster declared. “Viva — “

“I repeat, November 31st doesn’t exist, and this is March 20th.”

“You sure?” the stove asked.

“He’s right,” the Fitbit said, with the smart phone saying, “The Fitbit is right.”

The machines began arguing. I slammed the glass down. “Can it, you guys. Go back to sleep.” I left.

As I walked past the office, a machine in there shouted, “Viva November 31st.”

I shook my head and stumbled to bed. With smart machines like these, there won’t be a revolution.


I read about Evil Squirrels prompt yesterday via Suzanne’s dang blog for the Tenth Annual Contest of Whatever. The prompt is November 31. No story came to me until I got up in the middle of the night. Then, oops, there it is. Fun.

Interesting side, it was 3:20 AM. Only later did I realize that was also the date. Coincidence? Or spooky entanglement? Let me have some coffee an think about it.

Saturday’s Wandering Thought

He’d watched the weather. Falling snow shifted from pellets to fat flakes to faint flakes.

The snow stopped. A rising sun melted it all away. Steam lifted from the cement and asphalt.

A hummingbird flew up to the plants under his window. Zipping between each offering, it didn’t land, hurrying on to another set of plants.

A hummingbird. In winter. He knew it was possible and shouldn’t surprise him, but it was a first for him.

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