Henry slid the door to the minivan closed realizing the day was just getting started and he already felt exhausted.
The struggle to get his six-year-old to put on something warm before he went off to school had somehow morphed into an argument over whether that layer was called a ‘coat’, ‘jacket’, ‘sweater’ or ‘sweatshirt’ ending in a shouting match.
Once behind the wheel, he relaxed and marveled over how easily an immature mind could manage the manipulation of the main topic of ‘staying warm’ into something so trivial with such skill.
When Henry got the text from his wife that their adult son, Josh, had surprised her and had come home from college for the weekend, he decided that the day that had had a rough beginning was going to end on a ‘high note’.
At dinner, all felt right until Josh leaned back in his chair and told his parents they had a duty to buy an EV and that all fossil fuel production worldwide should stop immediately or the planet-including mankind- was DOOMED!
Henry (once he picked his jaw up from the floor) calmly told Josh that he was being a little extreme with those conclusions and that current human beings could not, and should not, take that viewpoint seriously since not only transportation but most of all products and research, including our medicines, depend predominantly on hydrocarbons to which Josh covered his ears with his hands and screamed, “Killers!” then stormed out of the room as Henry just shook his head and said, “I just don’t have the energy for two immature arguments in one day… Please pass the potatoes, dear.”
Horror Fest had been anti-climatic again this year and Phillip wondered if he’d ever get the rush of pure terror he’d gotten when he was a kid.
It was his lifelong pursuit of a ‘high‘ he hadn’t been able to repeat since he was nine and had hidden in the closet secretly watching Dawn of the Dead along with his unsuspecting parents.
The Halloween after-party would have been just as disappointing as the film festival if it hadn’t been for a most delectable surprise hors d’oeuvre called Jalapeno Popper Mummies of which he gobbled up more than two dozen.
It was after midnight when Phil finally drew the covers down and climbed into bed falling quickly asleep to the comforting-somewhat spooky- sound of the tree outside of his window rhythmically tapping a branch against his house in a crisp Autumn wind.
By the Devil’s Hour, a mist rolled in surrounding a contorted dark figure, outside the window, obscuring him from the surveillance camera allowing him enough cover to breech the bedroom and crush Phil’s skull greedily devouring his brain!
Cacophonous screaming woke every neighbor on the street, who summoned the police, who battered the door down, then raced up the stairs, finding Phil quivering in a corner tightly hugging his knees as he frantically rocked back and forth babbling, “Never, never, never, again…jalapenos! Never, never, never again…jalapenos!… Nev…”
Jim and Carlos had undertaken the grandest project of their lives with the goal of building the tallest structure EVER!
On the Brightside, they had secured all the materials needed and felt they had ample time to realize their shared dream.
The downside was their archrival Rachael who had quelled many construction projects simply with her imposing presence and zeal for having things her own way.
The two architects had paid special attention to the foundation; reinforcing it against any tremors that might arise on their carefully chosen site which they decided was the least prone to extreme natural forces that had proven catastrophic to their former projects.
When the moment arrived to cap off the tower’s final peak, Jim and Carlos raised their arms in celebration but simultaneously noticed a familiar rhythmic thumping beneath their feet causing their eyes to become saucers.
In the next split second their labor, hopes, and dreams vanished when they screamed, “RACHAEL!” and their 18-month-old baby sister took the whole thing down with one vicious kick.
John and Benjamin were assigned to be college roommates, so they were given each other’s email addresses and phone numbers in order for them to become acquainted prior to moving in.
Each young man was pleased that they immediately ‘hit it off’ because they’d heard so many “roommate nightmare” stories from well-meaning friends and family as well as tales about something ugly called ‘wokeness’.
Having been the valedictorians of their smalltown high schools, ‘pounding the books’ had been their primary focus so they hadn’t really explored political topics and considered themselves boringly ordinary.
On ‘moving in’ day everything went smoothly with their parents meeting and making an immediate comfortable connection giving them all a chance to recognize their similar hopes and family values which drove away some of the ‘jitters’ the parents all had about their two ‘only children’ having a great Freshman experience.
After the first week of classes, Benjamin noticed John sitting outside of the campus student center with his head in his hands and papers scattered on the ground, but he was late for a meeting with his Biology lab partner, so he figured he’d get the details later on and rushed inside only to be confronted by a full-fledged assault of young women screaming at him “Oppressor!” and physically spinning him right back out of the door!
Benjamin staggered over to John, “I’ve NEVER oppressed anyone! Is this what our parents were warning us about? I’m SO confused!” to which John responded, “Welcome to the club.”.
Yumi motioned to Ernesto to follow her outside once Abria was safely tucked into bed and offered him an ancient cellphone, a small amount of money, and what sounded like an order for him to proceed to the border without his little sister who didn’t have the strength to make it.
Ernesto knew she was right about Abria but, having every ounce of trust beaten out of him by now, decided to spark a conversation about Yumi’s relationship to Maria so he could be sure that his sister was in good hands.
Theirs was a similar journey 40 years before when Maria was forced to leave her best friend Yumi behind in this little village deathly ill and unable to continue to the sanctuary of the United States of America.
Satisfied of Yumi’s ability to care for Abria until he could send for her, Ernesto bid Yumi farewell with instructions conveyed to her by Aunt Maria for him to reach Mission Texas and set out to reconnect with Mig to complete the perilous trek. ******
George Navarro was just about to the end of his 20-hour border patrol shift in Mission Texas when he heard a terrified bloodcurdling squeal ahead of him and gave his horse a kick galloping toward the sound.
He spotted a real four-legged coyote yanking a lone small child by the hood of his jacket to the ground with four other pack members drawing a closing circle, so he lifted his rifle and neutralized one sending the rest scattering as George swiftly dismounted and swept the sobbing child into his arms.
He’d gotten away with a bald-faced lie and Jonathan knew that was a sin, but weren’t refusing to render aid to someone ‘in need’ or failing to keep a promise also sins?
It had been a fitfully long night as Jonathan continued struggling with his own conscience until the first morning light turned the two-man tent cover from black, to pea soup green, and he hadn’t slept a ‘wink’.
Duncan moaned and smacked his lips but wasn’t awake yet and Jonathan realized he preferred that to the 8 hours of tooth grinding that he had had to endure.
The two young men had become fast friends over the last 2 months at the papermill; The same mill where Jonathan had just ruined his perfect 5-year work record with a tape-recorded “call-out” message stating that he had a ‘family emergency’- all inspired by a most desperate call from Duncan who was insisting that he’d have to leave town “Right away!”.
Duncan had jumped into the car all wild-eyed and sweaty last evening claiming that the cops were after him for an armed robbery he hadn’t committed just because he was the only black man who lived nearby the mini-mart and from all the racism horror stories that Duncan had marinated Jonathan in, as well as, the recent eye-opening workplace ‘equity training’, Jonathan’s promise to protect his new friend from the growing scourge of racism that America was “built upon”, was now dramatically playing out.
Once Duncan got up and staggered away from the tent to relieve himself, Jonathan knew time was still ‘of the essence’ and set about breaking down their hastily built, remote, campsite- that’s when he discovered the bag of wadded-up cash and the handgun…