Here is the long awaited second installment of last month’s story of trolling through the high seas. Enjoy the next part of “Bound For Buenos Aires”.
We sailed that afternoon. As we got out of the Gulf of Mexico and into the Caribbean the sea got rough. The Caribbean wasn’t as “smooth as glass,” as my Dad had experienced. It was rolling and pitching. The captain said, “I’ve never seen this part of the Caribbean so rough. Chris said, “That’s because I’m on board.
Passengers ate in the dining room with the crew. There were eight passengers on our freighter: Chris and me—the young marrieds; a mother and her late teen daughter; a Brazilian couple bound for their home in Santos; a pair of American Catholic priests, bound for Rio de Janeiro to spend the rest of their lives in in church service in Brazil. One priest was in his fifties, the other in his late twenties. The younger one, like Chris, didn’t have “sea legs.” He said that he belonged to the “Railroad Irish,” who didn’t respond well to travel on water. The young priest and Chris didn’t come up on deck much during that Caribbean crossing, and neither came to meals in the dining room. The captain told me to tell Chris to limit liquid intake and to eat hard rolls. I took hard rolls to our cabin for Chris after every meal. Somewhere off the northwest coast of South America the sea became calmer and both Chris and the young priest got feeling better.
Dr. Larry Day is a former potato picker, reporter, copy editor, foreign corr., Fulbright lecturer, coach of journalists on 3 continents, author & now, he’s an ol humor writer. You can pick up his latest book of short stories, Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia on Amazon.com
If you are looking for my November column, this is it. Yes, I am celebrating Halloween in November!! Move over Tom Turkey!! I write for The Kaw Valley Senior Monthly and it just so happens that with printing and mailing schedules, this month’s column landed on doorsteps and in inboxes on Halloween!! It was only fitting I write a spook-tacular piece so goofy it lasts ’til Thanksgiving.Enjoy!!
Early one Halloween night I was nursing a soft drink in a back booth at The Enchantment. That’s a dingy roadhouse north of here. I was on my second bottle of pop when Kaybe rolled up.
KB 11.2 (Kaybe for short) is my alien friend from outer space. He looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set arms sprout from the curved sides of his body. Three spindly legs drop from the flat underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet, and three sensor-eyes wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top of his lid. Kaybe eats drinks and communicates telepathically.
No one at the Enchantment even looks up when Kaybe rolls in. If fact, some of the patrons, including Harry the Hulk and his diminutive pal Miniature Mike, are also aliens from outer space. So is the waitress, Four Finger Fanny.
Kaybe gave me a telepathic “hi,” and joined me.
“Kaybe, where’ve you been?” I asked.
“Doing some business in a galaxy far away.”
“Well I’m glad you’re back. Let me buy you a drink. Fanny, please bring Kaybe a Sarsaparilla.”
Just then four costumed customers walked in and sat down at a booth near us. There was a green-faced witch wearing a pointy black hat; a short, potbellied Frankenstein monster with a realistic looking bolt in his neck; a realistic looking Chewbacca, and an aging Princess Leia.
With all three eyes, Kaybe stared at the newcomers.
“What galaxy are they from?” he asked.
“Those are earthlings,” I said. “It’s Halloween. Those folks are just wearing costumes.”
“Is it some kind of holiday?” Kaybe asked.
“Yes. It used to be called “All Hallows Eve,” and was started to honor the dead. Nowadays children dress up in costumes and go door to door saying ‘Trick or Treat’ and hold out sacks. People give them candy. After people put candy in their sacks, the kids run to the next house. They go all over the neighborhood gathering sacks full of candy.”
“The folks in that booth over there look pretty old to do trick or treat,” said Kaybe.
“Halloween has evolved, and now adults celebrate Halloween too. They put on costumes and go to parties, or out to bars and restaurants.
“WOW!” said Kaybe. The words appeared telepathically in capital letters in my head. “That sounds like fun. I’ve always wanted to go around town and see the sights, but the way I look I’d cause a fuss. Tonight I can roll around and no one will think anything about it.”
“Hey guys,” Kaybe communicated telepathically with Harry the Hulk and Miniature Mike and three strange-looking aliens in the bar. “Let’s go trick or treating.”
“Will you be our guide?” Kaybe asked.
“Of course. Parents take their kids trick or treating. The parents stand out on the sidewalk while the kids go up to the doors.”
“You want to go trick or treating, Fanny?” called Miniature Mike.
“No,” she called back. “I’m still on duty. Beside my feet hurt. But you can take my truck.” Fanny tossed me the keys. “It’s the old blue pickup in the back corner of the parking lot.”
I boosted Kaybe into the passenger seat, and the others jumped in the back of the truck. I drove by a supermarket and picked up trick or treat sacks for everyone. When we got there, my neighborhood was awash with goblins, ghosts and phantoms.
My alien friends were shy at first, but Kaybe encouraged them.
“Come on guys. This will be fun.”
At the first house, I stood out on the sidewalk. Harry the Hulk put Miniature Mike on his shoulders and marched up and rang the bell. Kaybe and the other aliens crowded on the steps behind him.
A woman came to the door.
“Trick or treat,” said Harry the Hulk.
“Wait just a minute,” said the woman. “George,” she yelled, You’ve got to see this. These are the best costumes I’ve seen all night.” -30-
Dr. Larry Day is a retired foreign correspondent and KU J-School professor. He is now the author of countless short stories and the author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia. http://www.daydreaming.co
Miss Bunker (I can’t remember her first name) was principal of East Side School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, circa 1945, when I was in Miss Melton’s (I can’t remember her first name) fourth grade class. Dean Larsen, who sat in front of me in Miss Melton’s class, wrote a smart aleck note and passed it back, unnoticed, to me. I wrote “Screw You!” on another piece of paper and passed it back. Miss Melton saw me pass the note back to Dean, and told me to bring the note up and put it on her desk. She went on with the class. I forgot about the incident until the next day when Miss Melton told me to go see Miss Bunker. In the Principal’s Office, Miss Bunker had the note in herhand.
Miss Bunker: “What does this mean?”
Me: (scrubbing my foot on the floor and looking down) “I don’t know.”
Miss Bunker: “What does this mean?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Miss Bunker: “I’m going to call your mother on the phone.”
Me: (in desperation) “It’s the title of a story.”
Miss Bunker: “A story?”
Me: “Yes. I’m writing a story about a boy who gets a tool box for Christmas.”
Miss Bunker: “I want to read that story. Bring it to my office by the end of the school day or I’m going to call your mother.”
That’s how I became a writer. From that time to the present I’ve written a lot of fiction. Some of it was written for newspapers and international new services. I’ve reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register, The Deseret News (Salt Lake City) The United Press International (from Buenos Aires), the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, The Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star, Universal Press Syndicate. Everyone knows that newspaper stories aren’t supposed to be fiction. But with tight deadlines, and because journalism is more art than science, a lot of creativity is involved in covering the news.
I’ve written news stories from the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean (including Cuba), the Sudan (Africa) Botswana (Africa) (the old) Yugoslavia, England, Hong Kong, and Letongaloosa (a fictional town in the U.S. Midwest). Many news stories, carrying my byline, were actually published by newspapers or by news services.
For the past dozen years I have been writing humorous fiction for the Kaw Valley Senior Monthly of Lawrence, Kansas. Do I notice a difference between the fiction writing I do now and the news writing I did as a journalist? Yes, I do. Fact checking is more rigorous on the Kaw Valley Senior Monthly than fact checking was during the days when I covered coups and earthquakes in Latin America.
-30- (that means “the end” in journalese)
Dr. Day’s book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia, a collection of fun and goofy short stories is available on Amazon.
Many of you may or may not know that before I was a humor writer, I had multiple careers. I was a hand model/ copy writer, a foreign correspondent, and a J-School professor. Now, I’m a humor writer. But before ALL of that, my FIRST job was being a potato picker in the potato fields of Idaho..
My Life As A Potato Picker
I had a whole youthful career in the potato fields of Idaho. From about age 8 a neighbor girl and I were “partners,” in picking potatoes. The school district shut down school for two weeks in (I lived in Idaho Falls) October and all the kids got their year’s spending money picking potatoes. The plows turned up the potatoes in rows and the pickers went up the rows with half-bushel wire baskets. Each partner picked a basket full and then the two poured the potatoes into a burlap potato sack (distributed along the rows by the tractor driver who was plowing the field). We were paid 6 cents a sack (between us that meant 3 cents each). We sometimes made $12 a day which was big money for 8-12-year-olds in those 1940-ish days Later in my youth I was a potato sack “bucket” who followed a slow moving horse-pulled or truck pulled trailer and hoisted potato sacks onto the flat bed of the back of the truck or trailer. The loaded trucks were driven to “potato cellars” l(long earth covered holding areas) where the potatoes stayed through the winter and well into the next summer and were sold by the truck load on the potato market. That’s more than you wanted to know about potato picking.
Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co
By Larry Day
Some years ago a stand-up comedian who was known for his self-deprecating humor, was arrested for fighting in a bar after his show. The comedian had smacked his opponent in the face. When the case got to court and the judge asked the comedian how the fight started.
“He laughed at me,” said the comedian.
There are nearly five billion websites in cyberspace. There are more than a billion unique You Tube users on the planet. There are six billion hours of video in 61 languages on the World Wide Web.
In this interconnected world, millions of people use Internet to invite total strangers into their lives. They invite everyone from elderly Mongolians in Ulan Bator, to Argentine teenagers in Mar del Plata, to connect to their websites and view intimate details of their lives. Then these website owners are stunned to find out that crooks, scam artists, identity thieves, Internet marketers, and digital sales representatives have honed in on their websites and have exploited the information they found there.
That comedian became rich and famous by inviting audiences to laugh at his fabricated foibles. But when a stranger in a bar laughed at one of his real foibles, the comedian doubled his fists and started swinging. Lots of folks are like that comedian. They spread their personal information all over the Internet. But they get mad as hell when they hear that authorities are analyzing Internet data flow patterns to see if they can find information that might thwart a terrorist attack. Whoa. Whoa! That’s a violation of people’s privacy.
Finding out what constitutes acceptable government surveillance and what is considered unacceptable prying, is a valuable process. Most of that process is serious, but sometimes it can be funny.
Consider this story: Back in 2010 forty-year-old Ginger Pitchfork of Mound Tree, Texas, phoned the U.S. Census Bureau to lodge a complaint. She said a census worker had called and asked about her marital status and her vaccination history. Ginger said that Census call was an unwarranted government intrusion into her privacy. What was hilarious was that at the time Ginger was operating a website that chronicled intimate details of her love life.
And how about this?: A herd of pigs broke out of their sty on a Midwest farm and ran down to a four lane highway. Kurk and Wadley, a couple of forty-something city dwellers, were driving along in a heavy duty pickup truck and saw the pigs. They decided to round up the pigs and put them in the truck and drive them to a nearby stockyard.
Kurk and Wadley figured that since they had found the pigs on the highway it was a “finders keepers,” and they offered to sell the herd to the stockyard manager for $200.
The stockyard manager declined their offer, and retrieved ownership data from tattoos on the pigs’ ears. He called the owner. The owner was looking for the pigs and was not far from the stockyards. When he arrived, the owner thanked Kurk and Wadley, and gave them each$40. Then he loaded up his pigs and drove back to the farm.
Wadley and Kurk were fascinated and amazed. They didn’t know how the pigs had been identified. They jumped the conclusion that there was a government surveillance system so powerful that it could even keep track of an obscure herd of pigs.
Kurk and Wadley organized a series of workshops to tell their story. They told those who attended: “If the government can spy on a herd of Midwest pigs, what do you think it’s finding out about you and your family?”
After that, Wadley and Kurk found what they considered evidence of government surveillance in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. So they set up a network of vigilance websites to warn people of an impending dictatorship that would take over the country as soon as the government had processed all its surveillance data. Kurk and Wadley shut the website down after it become a target for stand-up comedians and late night talk show humor.
Larry Day is the author of Day Dreaming: Tales from the Fourth Dementia available for Kindle on Amazon.com: . Retailers e-mail Larry: email@example.com