Friday, January 20, 2017

No Grunt, No Glory

This is Day 15 of the 2017 edition of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is Zurich, SwitzerlandPlease visit the other participants for more adventures.

This is the third part in a continuing story in which I have borrowed some characters and their story from a (never before published) short story I wrote several years ago. If you are interested, you can click the tab called Short Story: My Brother's Son. We pick up the story with Charlie and Alex making their way from Philly to San Francisco via commercial air travel.


"I guess we're kind of spoiled," complained Alex as they wound their way through security at the airport. "I can't believe our jet was unavailable." 

"I know what you mean," agreed Charlie. "I can't remember the last tine I flew commercial. Things have changed a lot over the years. Security...excuse me, ma'am. Like I was saying - oh never mind, we're next."


Having successfully navigated security they found their gate and couple of seats and waited. Alex wasn't long on patience and kept fidgeting with his phone. Charlie pulled out a newspaper and sipped a cup of cooling coffee.


Flight 1650 for San Francisco now boarding. "That's us," Charlie grinned.


As they found their seats, Charlie was seated in 22B and Alex got 22C across the aisle. "I hope nobody has this seat, so I can get a few more winks," blinked Alex. 

"Excuse me, is that 22A?" Alex looked up from his phone with a frown which magically disappeared as he looked into the bluest eyes he had ever seen. 

"Why yes I am...I mean it is. Here allow me," and he steps out into the aisle to let her in. "Let me help you with your bag."

"Thank you! I am finding everyone here so friendly."

Since this was a non-stop flight, he knew she was going to San Francisco as well.

"Hi, my name is Alex." 

"My name is Nadja," replied the beautiful blond seated next to him.

And so the conversation continued for the next five and a half hours, and he totally forgot about taking a nap. Charlie, on the other hand, put on headphones and quickly fell asleep to some quiet jazz.

By the time the plane landed, Alex was totally smitten with his lovely seatmate, who was visiting the U.S. from Switzerland. 

"Charlie, this is Nadja. She's visiting her American cousins here in San Francisco,." said Alex, beaming.

"It's nice to meet you Nadja. I hope you enjoy your visit. San Francisco is a beautiful city. Now if you will please excuse us, Alex and I need to pick up our rental," stated Charlie, refreshed after his cross-country nap.

"I'll call you if I have any free time," said Alex with a sideways glance at Charlie. "Maybe we can get together for a drink."

"I'd like that," smiled the girl with the bluest eyes he'd ever seen.

Charlie wisely refrained from mentioning Jenna. Alex could manage his own personal life...or not.

They arrive at the San Francisco office to be briefed by Agent Rick Morrison. "Glad to see you. You two are really getting around. I hear you just did a week in Philly on this case, and all that hard work got you dragged out here. It seems your perp has his hand in a lot of pots. The most dangerous one being the Slashers. They are a gang that originated in LA about ten years ago and have spread like a wildfire in August. The gang leader, Enrique Hernandez, a.k.a. Crusher, is a major player in the drug trade."

Charlie has that focused look again, "As I recall, the Slashers and the Skulls mixed it up a few years back. Adam Richards and his nephew Josh are friends of mine. Adam's brother was murdered, we suspect, by one of the Slashers. Adam and Josh were up there at the time trying to get some answers. Long story short, there was trouble between the gangs, and Adam was forced to kill one of them who was holding Josh hostage. It all ended well enough for them but no arrest was made. We're hoping this ties in and that case will finally be solved."

Rick took all this in and said "Well, it looks like we've got the right team on this. Maybe we can finally pull the plug on their enterprise, and hopefully bring closure to the family of the man they murdered."

Alex, who had been listening impatiently, agrees, "I certainly hope so. I know we have a guy in custody, and should feel pretty good considering how far-reaching this operation is, but he is still just small potatoes."  It just feels like we have been chasing our tails this past week."

"I know," Charlie agreed, "but catching the bad guys isn't all action and glory, it is a lot of behind the scenes grunt work. As my mom always says...hurry and wait. Unlike kidnappings and missing persons, we have time to set up a good take down. The more of these vermin we can get off the streets, the better."

Charlie turns back to Rick, "Let's set up some surveillance on Crusher and see who he meets with. I'd wager at least one of his associates is part of the Mexican drug cartel. I sure don't like where this is going. We'll bring Kyle and Bobby up to speed when they get here." 

"Rick, how many agents do you have available? Given the multiple factions we're dealing with, there will be no lone wolves. Everyone works in pairs."

"I've got half a dozen agents skilled in gang and drug cases, plus a tactical team if needed," replied Rick. I'll pair them up,  brief them on the case and have them report to you, Charlie."

"Thanks Rick! I'll give Adam a call to see if he's heard anything else that might help."

"Okay Alex, it's time to rock and roll."




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Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Next Ten Years

This is Day 14 of the 2017 edition of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is The Next 10 YearsPlease visit the other participants for more adventures.

What will the next ten years bring? No one can really see the future? We can make predictions based on past and current events or statistics. We can make bucket lists, and daydream about marriage, kids, graduations, grandchildren, retirement or traveling abroad - things that the next decade could hold in store for us.

What do I think the next ten years will bring? For the world in general? I'd prefer not to hazard a guess. 

For me personally? I would like to think I'll be living a healthy, happy life among friends. I would like to travel more and visit places I've never been. I don't really have a bucket list or specific goals, but more of a mental "I'd like to go there or do that before I'm too old to enjoy it" list.

If any of us are still doing this ten years from now, one of the prompts could be "the past ten years" and we could see how things turned out.




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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fear(less)

This is Day 13 of the 2017 edition of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is Fears.  Please visit the other participants for more adventures.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt


Fear can multiply and build on itself until it becomes powerful and consuming, and unchecked it can eventually take the place of what caused the fear in the first place.  We need to keep fear in its place.  A little fear can keep us from making critical mistakes, but when fear takes over it is paralyzing.

We can get so caught up in our fear that our rational side is overwhelmed. How can we take control of a fear? That depends on the cause. We might try confronting the fear, such as flying or heights, and find that it is not as bad as we expected. Perhaps taking a step back and reaffirming the positive things we know to be true can provide some relief. 

Fear has many different faces and effects, and there is no one size fits all solution for managing or overcoming them. Sometimes you just want to Shout!

Enjoy at little Tears for Fears.




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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stressed or Knot?

This is Day 12 of the 2017 edition of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is Stress.  Please visit the other participants for more adventures.


Does stress have you tied in a knot? 
Stress. How about staring at a blank screen when you should be clicking publish on today's post. Stress. It is a simple word, a one-syllable, seemingly innocuous little five-letter word. Of those five letters, three are "s". S is the letter we use to make words plural and stress has three of them.  

A nonsensical way of looking at it, of course, but serving to stress the fact that stress is hardly a simple word. It's consequences and complications are something we have all felt at some time in our lives. The effects of stress are so widespread today that stressed-out is as common a response as - oh you know, same old, same old.

Another phrase commonly heard now is de-stress. People say they need to work out, meditate, do yoga, or whatever to de-stress. I guess this replaces wind down or unwind from decades past.

When stress has you in a knot, what are some of your favorite ways to de-stress?



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Monday, January 16, 2017

Modern Obsession?

This is Day 11 of the 2017 edition of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is Selfie NationPlease visit the other participants for more adventures.

What is a selfie? Some years ago I had to ask that same question when my niece mentioned selfies. She said that's when you take a picture of yourself with your cell phone camera. That's the way new words come into being. 

It seems we have become enamored with taking our own pictures. I will admit it is a good way to document your vacations and other adventures or be able to share photos of yourself when there is no one around to take your picture. 


I am usually taking the pictures which is fine since most of the time I don't like the way I look in photographs, especially at close range. Needless to say, I won't be posting any selfies here.


Yet there is the occasional instance like this one when I definitely wanted my picture taken. Obviously a selfie wouldn't work here since I had my hands full.




The downside of selfies is the obsession those of taking bunches of random self portraits or silly faces and sharing them with thousands of their closest friends via social media.  Selfies can also get to be hazardous when folks focus too much on getting the cool picture and not enough on what's going on around them.

The bottom line is I don't think taking selfies is bad unless it becomes an obsession, is disruptive, or poses a hazard to them or others around them.


And, because this is Monday, here is a selfie quote!

With the selfies, a photographer has finally found his place in a photograph.  Amit Kalantri

That is definitely a true statement!



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