Friday, October 30, 2015

Tooting my own horn...

Beastly Bear Fiction

Hi Folks!

Those that know me already know, those that don't will find out.
I'm not really one for blowing my own horn, never have been.

Probably stems from my school days where I was quite accomplished in Drama Club. I won several "best actor" awards in local and regional competitions and was duly proud. In discussing this with my extended family, I was later told that someone I was very fond of thought that I was very conceited about my successes.
I never spoke of them again.

Fast forward to this week.

I entered the Yeah Write weekly micro story challenge. This weeks prompt was "where can I get one of those?". You may not use the prompt in the body of the story or in the title, but you must convey the idea so that even someone that doesn't know the prompt would understand.

I lucked upon a pretty good idea I thought, going with a Depression-era story.

Lo and behold, I actually won this week by a single vote. Just eking by EagleAye and his "Curious Encounter" (he is really great, check out the link to his site). Only fair he took third last week with one more vote than me. Lol

My deepest thanks to any that voted for me, and a deeper thanks to those who took time out of their day to read all the entries and vote.

So this is my Horn blowing post! I still have tons of room to improve, (as not even half of the 36 voters thought I was one of the top 3) but this is encouraging. 

So, I will wear my badge proudly and display it here as well as my regular blog Den of the Beastly Bear. Stop by if you enjoy my writing, there I tell true life stories in what I hope are entertaining ways.
There, now you will hear no more about it!

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear

Monday, October 26, 2015

Not so Evel Knievel...

Den of the Beastly Bear

(Please note the new button in the upper right that will take you directly to my fiction/challenge site! Thanks.)

Hi folks!
I'll bet you're all dying to know just how this motorcycle obsession of mine started, aren't ya?
Well that's just plain rude, but I'll let it slide this time!

As you may have guessed, it started with dear old Dad.
See, Dad had himself an old burgundy and cream Indian motorcycle. Which I pestered him endlessly for rides on.

One day Dad asked me if I wanted to go for a ride in the truck with him. He had something he needed to pick up. Of course, I was as eager as any 8-year-old boy to spend time with him. So we piled into Dad's '68 sky blue and white Chevy pickup.

Out we drove into the countryside, past farms and fields bouncing down dirt roads. The sun peeking through the canopied trees over the roads. Until, at last he finally pulled into a small farm with an actual red barn and little white country house.

The thing I remember the most? The smell. You see in front of the barn was a pen filled with 10-12 hogs, and the smell was, in a word atrocious! I was fascinated however, so wandered off to watch the pigs as Dad talked business.

Finally, a price was agreed upon, money changed hands and the doors to the barn parted. Revealing this...well not this particular one but you get the idea!
A bright yellow minibike with a 5 hp. Briggs & Stratton engine! I couldn't believe it! A bike of my own!!!

On the ride home rules were discussed, the consequences for the breaking of those rules reinforced by stern words and harsh looks! Dad was an ex-Marine after all!

I couldn't wait!

I was after all the terror of our neighborhood on my Raleigh 3-speed banana seated bicycle!

My first time, Dad fueled her up and showed me how to start her up. It was a she of course! After the engine warmed up, Dad pointed me towards the middle of the back yard.
He explained the centrifugal clutch, hand brake, and engine stop. "Start out slow..." He admonished me.

When I was fully prepared to Dad's satisfaction, my helmet was donned and I was ready. Mom and sisters came out to watch the maiden voyage...
So with fantasies of Evel Knievel and Ceasar's Palace fountains I was off.

Things went swimmingly at first as I accelerated into the yard. "Wow," I thought. "I'm a natural..." 
When another thought occurred to me...I've never driven this fast before!

And that's when panic set in.

So, I was instructed in what to do...grab the brake, the brake? Where the HELL is the brake?!? I know I was told, but where is it? My bike had peddle brakes, no that's not it. As I searched in vain I neglected to pay attention to where, exactly the bike was headed.

Just as I remembered handbrake! My forward momentum was suddenly arrested by my Mother's prized Forsythia bush!

While the bike stopped suddenly, I did not...
And just like my hero, I Evel Kneiveled right over the handlebars into the woody bush. The bush, however, had other ideas and having bent under my weight sprang back launching me back over the bike and onto the lawn. Arms and legs all akimbo, flat on my back.

"OH MY GOD BOB! I TOLD YOU HE WAS TOO YOUNG!!!" I knew that voice!!!
Suddenly Mom was there ripping at the helmet as Dad retrieved the bike, I wasn't sure which of us was in more trouble.

So, thinking fast I hoped up, disentangled myself from my Mother looked to Dad and said "Can I try it again???"

He smiled at my Mom, patted my shoulder and said "Sure, just remember the brake is up here." 

And that my friends was the start of it all.

May your travels be fair and your crashes few.

Be well Folks,
Beastly Bear

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The things you see when you're not paying attention...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I'm generally credited with being a rather observant person, but every now and then even I miss a thing or two.

I've spoken of my experiences driving for Perry Drug Stores. I worked there for 11 years and let me tell you, you see a lot, you just don't always know what you saw.

One hot August day, on the South side of Chicago...115th. and Washington Ave. to be exact. My stalwart, though not overly bright companion Leon (of the Coca-Cola perm incident) and I were unloading the truck. We had newly installed liftgates that allowed me to bring the load to their door, one pallet at a time.

The sun was beating down on us like a hammer, and the humidity hovered around 98%. As we toiled away, a white van pulled into the alley from the other direction, ahead of my truck. Three men got out, all dressed in white coveralls with company logos on the left breast pocket. We watched as they took particular interest in the air conditioning unit attached to the wall of a business farther down in the plaza.
As hot as it was, we assumed heating/cooling repairmen.

Tools came out next and among animated discussion, the A/C unit was removed...plywood blocked the hole and they loaded up and pulled away.

Well it wasn't but about 15 mins. after they left we heard:
"AWWWWWwwwwww HEEEEeeeeelllll NOOOOOoooo!!!"
This exclamation drew our attention to the skeletal, 6'4" white pants and pink polyester frocked black man that sashayed our way with great haste! I could only assume this was a hairdresser of some type, that or we were about to be assaulted by a RuPaul impersonator. Eyeliner and all.

When he was close enough he pointed one thin arm back towards the place his A/C unit used to reside and said. "WHAT in the HELL happened to my Air conditioner, Humph???"

He looked back and forth between Leon and I, as if we were the culprits to blame for his misfortune...Leon couldn't take the pressure.
"They tookted it!" he blurted out, staring at the ground.

"Who "tookted" it?" he demanded air quotes and all. Before crossing his arms under non-existent breasts which clearly showed his name, LaVonn in bright red stitching.

"The repairmen," I interjected taking some of the heat of that gaze off Leon "just a couple of minutes ago, didn't they tell you they were taking it?"

"No, cause I didn't call no damned repairman..." he said, head weaving as his eyes flashed to me. He looked me up and down and didn't like what he saw.
"God DAMN!!!" he stomped his foot, spun on his heel and sashayed back the way he'd come.

"What the hell was THAT?" I said to Leon, starting to chuckle.
Joining me, Leon explained. "He own dat hair salon a couple doors down, he alright but damn he shore is mad!!!"

About a half hour later the cops were there, took our statements, asked us questions we obviously didn't know. Come to find out this crew has been ripping off air conditioners all over the neighborhood the past week.

"We'll get'em," the cop said. "or somebody will." with that he gave his partner a smile and off they went to fight crime and write reports.

Couple weeks later when I rang the buzzer, Leon could hardly contain himself with the news. "Dey got'em, Oooo boy dey got'em!"

"Got who Leon? what are you talking about?"

"Dem brothers what ripped off the air conditioner from the hair salon!" He replied.

"Good, I'm glad the cops got them..."

"Ohhh da cops didn't get'em, no sir..." he was beside himself.
"Somebodies from the neighborhood catched'em takin one, an dey whooped dey asses wif baseball bats! Cops come and had to take dem away by ambalance!!!"

"What about the guys that caught them? They get in trouble?

Leon shared with me a big broad grin. "Ahhh nobody seen dem..."
And he busted out laughing. 

Now I'm not for vigilante justice, but you don't screw with a man's A/C in August!!! Just sayin'.

Hope you're all a little more observant than I...

Be Well Folks,
Beastly Bear

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi folks!

Back in the bygone days of yore when I was not gainfully employed in any significant manner, I sold my soul into the bondage of babysitting...or more to the point Demon sitting!

You see, there lived in our hamlet a single Mother named Maria, who was a Nurse by trade. Divorced, she had custody of her children Carl 6, and Lisa 8. Such sweet looking children...little would you have known that they were, in fact...demon possessed.

I came to be lured into this Faustian bargain as every single female in the neighborhood of child watching age had been approached and run screaming when asked. Citing previous hellish encounters, those that didn't flee sat gibbering nonsensically to themselves as they rocked, hollow-eyed and trembling.

Having a date, and at her wits end Maria asked me if I'd be interested. I was skeptical at first, but the lure of $15 for about 3-4 hours work was to my '70s era mind the deciding factor.

I was 14 at the time, not tall but big for my age and frequent visitor to our schools weight room during gym class. What had I to fear?!?

That first time was the sweet-spot, that made me think how foolish these girls had been to turn down such easy money. Perhaps it was that they were not familiar with me that kept them at their best behavior. They listened, ate dinner and went to bed with absolutely zero problems. They were polite and well behaved, the picture of contrite compliance.

It was not to last...

When asked if I'd be willing to do it again, I was quick to say I would. Remember now, the minimum wage was $2.35 at the time.
This should have been a clue.

From the start Maria had told me, in front of her kids even, that should they require it...she was more than ok with me paddling their asses. I assured her that I didn't think that would be necessary, and turning to the monsters...I mean children said, "Right guys?"
I got open-mouthed, wide-eyed nods.

As our times together progressed, and they became more familiar with me they started acting out. Not in big ways, but subtly pushing boundaries.

Finally, the masks came off and I learned just why I was the only one brave, nay foolish enough to watch them.

They had a slightly older cousin, a toe-headed little blond child of the corn that I sometimes watched with them for an extra $5. I can't recall her name but things were always more of a problem when she was there.

One night things were quiet, the kids were playing in the playroom...soft talking and giggles were all I heard. I was in the living room looking at Maria's new coffee table book, "The Treasures of King Tut". The exhibit was making it's U.S. debut and was all the rage. The Bee Gee's were softly singing "More than a Woman to Me" off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack when I heard a "Smack" followed by an ear-splitting shriek!!!

I sprang off the couch and was almost to the playroom when Lisa shot out the door and down the hallway perpendicular to the one I was in, screaming like the devil himself were after her...and he was. Carl, hockey stick over his head like an irate Samurai was hot on her heals. I glanced into the playroom where the cousin was cradling her arm and crying.
I backtracked, heading them off as they came up the other hallway.
I turned sideways to let Lisa shoot past me, then turned full on filling the opening and blocking Carls path. He showed no signs of slowing down even as I reached out and snatched the hockey stick from his grip. This brought him up short, and he looked up at me with a perplexed expression on his face for a heartbeat...before drilling me right in the nuts!!!

He was at the perfect height, and his straight-armed shot could not have been more effective had it been delivered by Muhammad Ali.
He put everything he had into it.
Air left my lungs, my knees buckled and my vision dimmed...and then the little shit laughed.

You know the saying "Don't poke the bear"? There is a reason it remains in our common vernacular.

Surprise and pain gave way to anger, and as I straightened up...Carl knew. As he tried to back away I snatched him up by a handful of Scooby doo T-shirt, brought him to eye level and said "ENOUGH!"
I carried him that way for the 5 or so steps to his room, opened the door and tossed him on his bed.
"You come out of this bedroom for anything other than the bathroom for the rest of the night and you won't sit right for a WEEK! Got me???"
He nodded and I slammed the door like a thunderclap.
Pictures bouncing, but not falling off the walls.

Lisa, who had seen my handling of Carl was frozen to the spot.
I knelt down and quietly asked her if she was ok, did Carl hit her with the stick too? She shook her head and the tears started, I scooped her up and she clung to my neck as we went to check on the cousin.

She was still crying and had a nasty welt on her forearm so I moistened a dish towel and filled it with ice. I cracked it against the counter a couple of times to break it up into smaller pieces then applied it to her arm.

There were no VCR's or cartoons to watch so the two of them ended up on my lap looking at the book with me.

Carl came out only once, to use the bathroom and apologize, then started crying when I made him go back to bed. I told him he could have seriously hurt the girls, maybe broken his cousin's arm. His excuse was "They wouldn't play with me..."
My response was "Well, who's playing with you now???"

When Maria got home I told her everything, she listened intently, asked if I was ok and...was I free next Saturday? 

*sigh* "Sure."

I came to dread watching them, it was something every damn time.
Finally, I got a part-time job at the sporting goods store and was able to buy back my just wasn't worth it.

Let's hope your experiences were better than mine!

Be Well Folks, 
Beastly Bear