Author Archives: flap jack

Fit as a fiddle

… continued

But Suje hesitated. He couldn’t get his body to move. He wasn’t frail, but also wasn’t fit as a fiddle. Retro was the muscle of the group. What if the creator of that sound was larger than he and the only option was to flee? Or defend himself?

“Suj! Come on!”, Retro persisted.

Suje thought, “what sound? I don’t know what you’re talking about”. But retracted that from his mind.

They slowly made progress to cover the distance. Suje was overthinking it, as usual. What if it was nothing. Retro was off, a few paces ahead with no concern.

“Thud!”. A lump entered Suje’s throat. That was heavy. He stopped, considering if it were more important to complete his chores for mother. But, what would his friends think? They’d think he was the steady head in the group. Always the one considering the long term investment effect.

The wind picked up. The tree tops rustled. Enough to keep the air from entering his lungs, a little gasping for breath as no air was near his face. Or that was was he felt.

“Hey, what’s over there? Is that where the cave is?”, he yelled at Retro who was joyously strolling toward the treeline. A rapid gate, stick in hand, waving at grass tops and bugs along the way. “Hey!, slow down! Retr….”, he saw his friends posture and stopped promptly.

Retro froze in his tracks. Suje finally caught up. Nothing catches Retro’s attention like there to hold him. A statue. In a softer voice, not wanting to alarm anything around them, as though the sound of his resinating voice would awaken a grasshopper from it’s slumber. With gentle reprieve, Suje said “what got you dude?”. A blank stare in his eyes, off in the distance. What could be there?

The dust came out of nowhere. In a spiral upward lift, the twisting cloud surrounded them almost instantly. Screaming to keep up with the level of the wind “RETRO!!”, Suje lost sight of his friend. Being pushed backward, sumlbing to maintain his posture. He collapsed to the ground to lower his center of gravity, but that meant he couldn’t find his friend.

“What do you want!?”, a frustration and annoyance resonated from him, as though he was screaming at a knocking at the door in the middle of the night.

And then it stopped. The dirt settled. The noise was gone. The chaos that instantly surrounded him was not there anymore. And neither was Retro.

Fit as a fiddle

Keep your shirt on

Suje walked the same path he always walks. Beautiful scenery attracted him here each morning. A mixture of earth, dirt, nature and peaceful farm countryside. A few conversational hellos to locals and friends as he passed. From all appearances, this would be another day like all the others.

“You know”, he thought, we should go fishing today. After work. I’ll ask my friends, Retro and Laus. What an enjoyable time we will have. Friends, joking, swimming, fishing.

As a young man in the eastern town of Serpentine, he was expected to pursue the careers set out by his father and family. His older brothers were in the tax collection business. He had little interest in this. But, he was not getting younger and soon his father would push even more for him to finish his schooling and come to work with the family.

His sisters were smarter than his brothers. They combined efforts and created their own business designing custom defense gear and clothing. Lightweight yet sturdy and strong. Most everyone needed some sort of protection from the surprise visit of the locusts. Those buggers could chew through your clothing and into our skin in a few moments surprise. So, better to invest in some sort of protection that run the risk of bleeding everywhere. That’s what their advertisement brand is built on. Not a bad idea if you ask me.

They let him try out some of their newest season apparel. His friends got a good laugh out of capturing some of the biting creatures and testing the endurance of the material. He was not as thrilled, but it was helpful information to give back to his sisters.

He was almost at the grain storage silo. After filling his basket for the morning and returning that Mother, he’d be able to finish his choirs and have the rest of the day to himself. It really was a wonderful time in his life.

Never did it cross his mind that today might be different. Not without struggles, he understood, but nothing overly difficult.

Coming back from the silo, following a different path than he used to arrive. Similar enough, but there was something about changing the pathway home that gave him a sense of journey. It took the same amount of time and difficulty. He saw the way home differently that the walk path to arrive. The wind blew slightly and a dark cloud covered the tree tops to his right. “That is strange” he thought, but kept moving. His brothers did teach him to pay attention to his surroundings. He tried to apply that in most situations. But with a positive spirit and adventurous mind, he most likely forgot this more times that he should have.

That feeling of ‘strange’ flowed up the spine of his back. No recognising something was different, he increased his gate. A rumble noise from the tree line. A shaking of the ground. Like when a boulder falls from a cliffside. A thud and shutter. Felt, more than heard.

Does he run home or stand his ground? Time for the thimble to decide. He reached into his pocket and returned in his palm the thimble. A small sewing device his sister Bella gave him to stitch small tears in the fabric of his shirt. He used this in times when he couldn’t logically determine what to decide. Spinning it and waiting for it to stop. The direction told him how to continue. The small end pointed toward the trees. Face it.

He sat calculating his options. Weapons? None. A basket of grain, which if he lost would only hurt him later or he’d have to return to get more from the silo.

One lesson he did remember from his brother Fredric was “if it makes you look up, you might want to look down”. One distracting thing might actually just distract you from the real threat. Just in time he turned with suspicion and caught a glimpse of the blur of the object as it passed his head. He quickly rolled to the ground. Got his body weight under control and recovered his feet under him in a way that would allow him to defend himself from the threat if needed.

His eyes glanced through the grass field. Nothing.

“BAAHHH!” a leaping Retro jumped out from the grass only a few feet from him. He fell over backwards in stress. His feet tangled and heels caught on the ground. A sense of regret, annoyance and fright. As his breathing slowed, his thoughts turned from pain to laughter.

Retro, now standing over him smiling, caring about the wellbeing of his dear friend, but also giggling at the surprise tactic he was able to pull over on his friend. “Keep your shirt on buddy”, no one is here to hurt you. Boyhood pranks meant to solidify friendships as well as safely learn to deal with anguish and turmoil. This time very unexpected.

“Why are you not with you mother at the market?”, Suje asked.

“Oh, she don’t need me with her. Besides, I fooled her over that I wasn’t feeling well. I figured we’d go fishing today”.

“I wanna go, but I have to get this basket home for lunch and then choirs. How did you make the noise?”, stated Suje.

“What noise?”, proclaimed Retro in confusion. “What were you spooked about a minute ago? You rolled your thimble dude. You freaking?”

With a little quiver in his voice, Suje said “I heard a noise over there. It was big.”.

“Man, you crazy, come on. We check it out”.

Oct 28, 2020
Keep your shirt on
Down to earth


Needle in a haystack

“You don’t understand,” he said.

“Yes I do, I get it but you can’t take the shot from that angle” his captain said. She was more experienced than he. And had been in more battles. She didn’t need to remind him.

“Roger that. Green 2 pulling back”, he replied.

She felt relieved but frustrated. They may have just missed their turn to complete the task.

“Let’s try this again. Green 4, it’s your turn”, she stated over the airwaves.
“Roger that. Circling around into position”, green 4 said. No with a bit of trepidation in his stomach. It was different being second in line to complete the task, now the pressure was on him.

As his plane descended within the few seconds into position, he relied on the computer systems to update the exact location of the target. Not a large target. A needle in a haystack, if you will. A quick fly-by and no one would be the wiser. Actually a brilliant location for the enemy to hide the armory storage. Never would have been found if not for the quick thinking of their insurgent on the ground.

Weeks in the making, probably years, but never easy. The progress was slow and specific. Never revealing identity. Never phoning home when undercover like that. Even getting the information back to the team was multiple layers of messages. Secret words or phrases that meant nothing to the common person, but in the right location and the right time would be translated into the details the team needed. He completed that task just two nights before and was now running across the mountain range to get away before being located and killed, for sure. A two day headstart and he assumed he would be far gone by the time his team got the message and engaged the mission. He couldn’t look back.

“Psssh” the sound of static breaking in the radio sequence. Not a squelch, but more like a sizzle. Everyone was used to it by now, having trained with it. You never payed attention to it anymore. “In position now”, said Green 4, in a very casual voice. “This is like popping bubbles in a bathtub”, he said to himself under his breath.

The low murmur of the targeting system as he approached, increased. If he waited too long, progress would be lost and they’d have to try again, wasting more time and putting the team in jeopardy. Teams in the air and on the ground.

Meep, meep, meep. The sound was increasing in volume and well as frequency. “On track”, he reported to his team. Captain could see every bit of his targeting system from afar, all systems stayed in sync and she could see what he was seeing on his screen.

“Don’t forget the adjustment for the wind differential as you enter the causeway between those cliffs”, she reminded the young pilot. Not wanting to miss this opportunity.

“Roger that. Compensating thermal updraft systems. Check”. As a low hum from the system engaged.

A flock of birds flew over his head. He heard the sound coming again. Another pass? What happened the first time? Must have missed. He wasn’t happy to see that. He really better move now if there was a miss and now a second shooter, they will notice he is gone for sure and start on foot. With enough time between explosions for a few men to come look for him. A swig of water and a moment to look at his footprints in the sand. Uh oh, they might find him for sure. But he can’t stop now. Maybe a brief backtrack but he has to keep moving.

Captain was accustomed to missions like this. She knew there was never time to stop and think. Only react. “PPssshh, I see you now”, a crack in the lines and a strange message.

“Keep the lines clear!” She enforced over the line. Wait, the team knew that. This was different. A small welp in her stomach and thoughts about the safety of her team.

MEEEEEEEEEEP, the computer indicator of Green 4. Lost? Lost.

“We’ve lost number 4, ma’am”, said the program controller.

“Pull the others out. Send that message now”, she stated. With haste, but not panic. There is a difference and must. She must not show stress to your team. They must have a level of confidence and comfort, even when losing members of the team.

“That shall be the last attempt from you”, the voice appeared again.

“Switch to alternate channels. And can we get a report from the ground?”

The mystery voice again, “We have your channel’s decoded. We have your spy in sight. We’d like our package returned. We will not let you destroy our storage building”.

“We don’t play games with the enemy. You are being tracked and you will also be destroyed”, she sounded a bit over confident, but she believed every word of it.

She switched to a private direct line to the Corporal. “Corp Mahony, can we get movement toward the source of that disturbance? Keep radios clear. I only want the simple progress. I want it don’t quick and let’s get out of here and go home”.
“Roger ma’am”. From the other end of the line.

In a low whisper “you heard her”. Let’s snuff out the problem. This time pieces of shrapnel fell from the sky. He knew was it was and a small tear wrapped his emotions. He was driven by revenge now.

Quiet steps. Quick movements to keep their cover and 3 of them moved through the cover of the trees. Was it enough? Could they find the enemy before one of them was killed?

Oct 21, 2020
Quick on the draw
Needle in a haystack


Between a rock and a hard place

…Quiet steps. Quick movements to keep their cover and 3 of them moved through the cover of the trees. Was it enough? Could they find the enemy before one of them was killed?

So we crept under cover. As a soldier, you know that your training takes over. You can’t think about your movements. They have to be part of your instinct. If you’re thinking, you’re dead. You move as one group. Reading each other’s minds without talking. That leaves you free to observe the surroundings. Looking. Listening.

Jenkins remembered the days his father would take him squirrel hunting in the woods. Quiet, which was hard to come by in those days. They lived out in the middle of Tennessee, which was remote from the big cities, but not too far away from the struggles of his small town and school. He struggled in school. He was smart, but now by the measures of the classroom. He didn’t act up, but couldn’t pay attention to the details of the subject matter. He struggled to get by. Hunting with dad was a way to get away from that stress. Dad loved him as did his mom. He didn’t want to kill just to kill one of God’s creatures. It was learning a lesson. “If you’re gonna kill it, you better be prepared to eat it”, his dad always said. He could still hear the voice in his head. Snap out of it, no room for distraction, dreams or being far away.

“Pssh” noise on the radio line. They all stopped and crouched instantly. What was that? Who was on the line? Radio silence from the captain. They picked up and started again.

“Phssh, grgrgrgrgrgr”. There is was again. But this time more noticeable but no words could be made out. Was it friend or foe? Everyone waited for a signal from squad leader.

The charred debris still falling from the sky from their lost friend. A brief victory for the enemy, maybe. Always hate to lose someone, but everyone knew the task at hand was bigger than one person.

“Phssh…. Click click. Grrr-echo gggrrr-avo. gggrrr -ictor”. Echo? Bravo? Victor? That was the distress signal. But who and where was it coming from? Was that for them? They kept moving this time. A little faster. Tracking the last rendezvous place agreed upon to meet Johnson for pick up. But he didn’t have a radio.

Hold. The signal from the lead to stop at something interesting up ahead. A noise? A person? Nerves up but also under control. It’s never this way in training. There is nervousness but also the feeling that it’s not live bullets during training. This was no training exercise.

Something on the ground. A foot print. Bare foot. That might be him. The team tracked it to the right between two trees. They stopped. Disappeared. “Hoo, hoo”. They looked up. Quick turn around and at ease. Johnson. Sitting in a tree, like he was playing a game of hide-n-seek back home. Let’s get out of here and radio back to station.

The recovery choppers always came in fast and low for pick up. And they hit hard. Not enough room to land, so it was ascension via a ladder, but worth the ride. Johnson was first. Secure him as the others faced outward watching for anything suspicious. Better hurry. Not much time now, they will see them and fire upon then at any moment.

Two more were nestled into the chopper. One more. When he’s on it’ll be a quick turn and high-tail back to the dock.

“Rubber ducky to the Momma, we have the eggs and headed back to the Nest”. Overheard in the comms from the pilot. Still on guard even though we were headed away from danger, it was still ever present, like a giant weight pressing down.

Getting back from that retrieval the team felt a little bit of victory even with the defeat of losing a friend. The team was not aware of the status on the initial target. “Were we able to get?”, one member asked.

“We got it! Right after you guys hit the ground, we circled back around and blew that thing to the moon. Like putting popcorn in the oven. BAM!”, Stevens was always a bit dramatic, but who could blame him. We all needed a win. And we needed some emotional out. I was comforted by his enthusiasm.

We started packing our gear, which wasn’t much. It was time to pull further out across the border into safer territory. We did our part for today as part of the bigger plan. That was our payment, if anyone was looking for an equalizer.

The cargo trucks were loaded up and everyone aboard. Not much was left behind except the dirt and dry spot from their station. The smoothness of their operation installation and removal would leave anyone impressed. It was a hard place to be and they made it look easy.

Oct 22, 2020
Between a rock and a hard place



Give a man a fish

You know, there’s a time when you realize that you gotta focus. A realization hits like a brick to the face. Telling you, wake up, get moving.

He was there on the edge of loneliness. Everything in front of him. No stress other than the no understanding what to do with what was in front of him.

There is no doubt he was bound for greatness. His skills were perfected. His mind was clear. His body is strong. His past was washed away. The best use of his time was to let it all go and move on. But to where?

Sometimes you gotta forget what everyone was telling you. Go fast. Slow down. Hurry up. Come on man. Just say it. AAAGGGHHHH!!!!! Shut up. Give the man some quiet. Why will this person not listen? Just like everyone else. Always output, never a moment of input. Huuuusssshhhhhh.


There we have it now. Breath deep. A moment of clarity hit him. He looked beside him and said it “I’d like a medium GoGo Basket, fries and the tartar sauce. A cola to drink with no ice, Thank you”. The window rolled back up. Peace and quiet from all the outside noise. The chaos of the outside world was a mess. A few more minutes of time to himself without any pressure to decide and yet again, someone else asking his opinion.

Looking forward to that fish basket. It’s been so long since the warm feeling of fried catfish entered his pallet. Maybe good for the hunger, not so great for the body. But that’ll be ok.

But it was more than that. The food satisfied his hunger, but not his thirst for answers.

Here’s the deal. You can give a man a fish, but you can’t make him eat it. Wait, that’s not right. He sat there in his moment of clarity and decided he now knew what needed to be done. He was going to open his own restaurant. He could serve a better fish than this. And he would teach others how to prepare the flame to perfection. A few simple rules to follow. A recipe, the right flavors and equipment. He was going to do it.

The first step was hard. Cooking out of his house and delivering food to his neighbors. Then on line to those that ordered. Needing enough to afford a mobile kitchen. A name and logo and he was off. Fish From the Basin. From my plate to yours. He could deliver the best tasting culinary anyone has tasted. And they’d be coming back for more.

“How may I help you?” He asked. Ok, that’ll be twenty-five dollars. “A number 2 with a spud stack and some liquid quenchers” he yelled to the back. He now had a staff. What a great story about growth. Going from a lackluster experience with a fish sandwich and now his own drive thru. Customers lined up around the corner. Franchises were in his future. Multiple locations. Managers at each place. Workers. Investors. Merchandise. Flamethrowers 😉

“Charlie, it’s time for dinner” he heard a voice. Who was that? Oh wait, snap out of it. “Coming mom”, he yelled back. “One minute”. He put down the shovel and bucket of sand. Jumped up, dusted his pants and ran toward the house. Another successful day.

Oct 14, 2020
Break the ice
Give a man a fish