Good Morning Ted and Jody:
The other day at lunch a couple sat down at the table next to us and told us about their lives. Now, keep in mind that in restaurants I do have a bit of difficulty hearing everything that someone says when children object to what they are eating, people fill their cups with ice and the staff communicates with one another at maximum volume. However, I am relatively convinced that I got about 12% of what the couple told us. The wife lost her pension when the firm she was working for went belly up and she is not yet on Social Security. The husband used to own a hotel where he paid $70,000 in insurance premiums for his employee’s health care. His brother, in his 90s, bought him a Mercedes (answering Janis Joplin’s request of the Lord), that he thinks is a hoot to drive around in. They have two horses that cost $400/month each to board and that does not include feed. The wife was in the hospital the day before when her blood pressure dropped to 70/40 because of dehydration (but she feels much better now). While from San Francisco the moved to this area because of the children. And, the only place to get sourdough bread in town is Safeway (but it is the most expensive grocery in town). All of this information and I don’t have a clue as to what their names are.
Yesterday, Nancy and I drove separate cars due to odd appointment times for her. I got to lunch first and as soon as I sat down the Mercedes driver came in, got a soda and sat down and expanded on his story. His brother saw an Alfa Romeo for $48,000 and wanted to by him that. He demurred as it was over 15 years old and he is unlikely to find parts for it if he needed repairs (I guess Mercedes are easier to get fixed in SW Washington. He was out buying parts for a weed wacker as he had plum trees in his backyard and wanted to be able to pick the fruit when it ripened. He has only stopped for a drink so he could as he put it, kill a little time and work his nerve up to actually whack the weeds (he is, at base a funny man). I am going to guess his name is Rick, or his brother’s name is Rick, given the vanity plate on the front of his Mercedes. I have a feeling he and his wife will be a fixture at the next table once they figure out our schedule. That will not be bad., It will just take a little getting accustomed to for us.
We are looking at July 5th weather today through Sunday with 90 being the minimum high-temperature forecast. Looks like more watering is on the schedule as pots dry out much faster than the soil around them.
I trust this finds you happy, healthy, wealthy and cool.
Warmest regards, Ed
005 Mrs. Calkins Is Temporarily a Bit Disoriented
Fiction in 1213 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
Aida Calkins did not understand why they did not bind or blindfold her. She was in the backseat next to a burly man who made no pretense to hide his face. She looked at the door handle and the man next to her shook his head and said, “Child protective locks,” and then snorted. She knew the route well. She had driven it many times on her way to meetings out of state. ‘I guess they are escaping the state to throw off pursuit.’ she thought. But then the car made a sharp right onto Douglas Street and went past the hospital. But what confused her most was when the car went from daylight to night and from a paved to a dirt road in the blink of an eye. “What in the world just happened?” she blurted out.
No one answered. The SUV continued for only a few more seconds before it pulled up to an old fashioned, gravity fed, gasoline pump that showed the fuel to be dispensed in the glass at the top of the pump. She recognized the flying red horse, the old Mobile brand markings. The doors clicked and the man next to her asked the driver, “Do we need gas?”
“Not that gas, the lead in it would mess up the engine,” replied the driver.
“You mean it would mess up the catalytic converter,” said the man next to Mrs. Calkins.
“Whatever,” said the driver. “This is where the lady gets out. She has had all the free ride she is going to get from us.”
The door opened and the man next to her pushed her out. “Out lady, you have arrived.”
As she struggled not to fall down,“Where am I?” Mrs. Calkins asked.
“Here,” said the man laughing as he pulled the SUV door shut and the vehicle drove away in a cloud of dust.
Mrs. Calkins looked around. She was indeed in an old fashioned looking gas station. There was one bare bulb hanging in the back of the shop. The interior of the shop contained odds and ends and a small soda machine in the corner. She took her cell phone from the fanny pack she wore under her jacket, activated it and found she had no bars. The time on her smart phone showed to be 7:55 A.M. With no location. Switching on the flashlight app she found a notice in the window proclaiming June 15, 1926, to be a day of mourning for the recently deceased founder, Nathan Ladoga. Above the notice ‘Ladoga Wyoming Post Office’ was stenciled in black on the window. She put her face against the window and tried to use her cell phone flashlight app to see more of the interior of the store. There appeared to be a crank style, wooden, telephone mounted on the side wall. Walking around the outside of the building to that side of the store, she could see two wires running from the store to two poles by the road. One wire ran to roughly where she thought the old fashioned phone was in the store and one higher up. The poles with the wires ran in only one direction. Mrs. Calkins turned off her flashlight app and switched on the compass app and noted the wires ran South-East from the gas station. The road, she noted ran North-West as well as South-East. ‘I guess the folks to the North-West don’t have a telephone or electricity. Or maybe no one lives that way,’ she thought.
Her thoughts, however, were interrupted by a man calling out from behind the building. “Who goes there? What do you want? Step out where I can see you.”
Mrs. Calkins first instinct was to move closer to the building. But she could see a light bounding about on the dry grasses and weeds to the South-East and decided if there was a light that could be a good sign. She took several steps away from the building until she could see a man holding a railroad lantern in his right hand and a stick of some sort in his left walking toward her. “Over here,” She called out and waved her hand even though it was unlikely the man could yet see her in the darkness. “I’m over here.”
Mrs. Calkins stood still and waited for the man. As he got closer, she has second thoughts as the turned out to be a rifle. To try to keep him from using the rifle, she spoke loudly and calmly, “My name is Aida Calkins, Mrs. Aida Calkins. Two men who robbed the place of business where I worked this morning threw me out of their car just a few minutes ago. I must have been hit on the head, or drugged for I do not know the time, day, or year or where I am. I do know I am Aida Calkins. Can you help me?”
The man reached her and said, “Yes, I saw the lights. Never seen lights that bright nor tail lights that bright red. I thought there was a bunch of cars, there was that much light. You sure there was only one car lady?”
“I was in one car,” replied Mrs, Calkins. “There could have been more, I have no way of knowing. But there were two men in the car I was in, the driver and a big man in the back to keep me from bolting.”
“Why did they take you hostage?” asked the man.
“They told the other workers if they called the police they would kill me,” explained Mrs. Calkins.
“Cowards,” the man said as if he were spitting. Then he put the lantern down, fired the rifle in the air, turned toward the direction he had come from, cupped his hands and yelled, “THORA, PUT THE KETTLE ON.”
From the sound of the blast and the flames from the barrel, Mrs. Calkins knew it was not a rifle but a shotgun.
Picking up the lantern he turned to Mrs, Calkins and said, “Thora is my wife. We don’t have the paper that says so yet, but will when the preacher comes for service in the next month or so.”
Mrs. Calkins asked, “Shouldn’t we call the sheriff or someone?”
“Can’t til after Norma Rae opens the switch board in the morning after she milks,” replied the man. “Oh, my manners, you told me your name, I’m Tom Ladoga.” He swung his arm. “My pop built this place 40 years ago as a stable and place to water horses. He was a blacksmith by trade.” He laughed, “He watered men too, if you know what I mean. Imported potatoes from back east and made vodka just like his pappy taught him back in the old county. Pappy died two days ago. We will have a lot of folks here later today for the funeral. The sheriff will be here with his four deputies. Pappy’s going to be buried on the only hill for miles,” Tom Ladoga pointed off to what Mrs. Calkins realized was North. “That way he can keep watch over the place he built and loved. Lived here from the time he was 18. Six days shy of 98 when he died”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Mrs. Calkins said. She thought to herself,. ‘I must be asleep for it can’t be 1926 like the notice in the window says.’