Monday, April 9, 2018

Don’t Forget to Eat

“Don’t forget to eat. There’s lunchmeat and cheese in the fridge, and bread. Make a sandwich when you’re hungry,” she said before leaving the house. She was the sweetest thing and never stopped worrying about her four boys, the scamps. They had attained teenage years, but still she worried. The fifth child was a daughter, too sensible to need such basic warnings as this.

The four irreverently joked after she walked out the door, ‘What, forget to eat? Come on.’ They continued with the electric racecar track they had set up taking turns to see who had the best lap time. They then played a game of Monopoly, the board game, always a lengthy ordeal, this game. The hours dropped off before they split off to their own devices. The oldest grabbed a record, put it on the stereo in the living room and laid down on the carpet for a listen. The second went to his room to play his bass guitar, the other two went to play a strategy game, the goal being world domination. They were all occupied and content.

The oldest awakened from a nap after who knows how long. The record had played itself out, but the stereo had an auto restart feature and the record played on. He was sprawled out on the floor just as he was when he first started the record, but his strength was gone. He couldn’t get up and could barely move. He had barely strength enough to yell to his brothers. 

“Mike, are you out there? I can’t get up. I forgot to eat,” admitting the absurdity.

“Tom, that you? Can’t get up either. Been trying for a while. Can’t even turn over. On my bed wiggling my fingers. All I can do,” Mike replied.

“Bill, Ed, you guys there? Can you help,” yelled Tom expending what seemed the last of his energy.

“I’m here with Ed,” responded Bill. “We’re immobile, can’t move. Ed’s not responding but I can hear his shallow breathing. You guys forgot to eat, too?”

Their plight was clear. They had neglected to engage the proffered lunchmeats and cheese. Very tantalizing, the thought of sandwiches heartily laden with the various meats. So close, yet they might as well be locked away in the belly of Fort Knox. These boys were helpless to help themselves.

When she returned home the quietude indicated that something was likely awry. Four boys in the house alone and the only noise was the record player flowing from the stereo. With bags of groceries in her arms she called the boys’ names in sequence of oldest to youngest. “Tom, Mike, Bill, Ed,” she calmly called out while setting the bags down on the kitchen table. There was no response. She went to the living room and saw the oldest flopped out on the ground with the music still playing. The oldest was a good boy and the music was never played too loudly. Even now, the stereo’s volume was absolutely correct. He was still alive, but not responding. She called the other three while she quickly, though unhurriedly, returned to the kitchen for a slice of American cheese. She tore off a piece, tucked the cheese into the oldest’s mouth and went upstairs looking for the others.

She was a wonderful mom. Her actions were consistently flawless, especially when trusting her motherly instincts. She was worried, to be sure, but not panicked. She’d handled worse emergencies than this; broken collar bone from seeing one boy fall out of a tree, emergency late one Sunday night for teeth to be pulled after a face forward fall onto concrete steps, tetanus shot after one of the boys stepped on a rusty nail that went through a shoe. Heck, she thought to herself, these four flopped out because they forgot to eat will be one of the easiest emergencies I’ll have the privilege of serving.

The other three were located, cheese tucked into their mouths as she did with the first. The cheese would get the salivation glands going, it would be digested, nourish the boys and slowly restore their consciousness. She got more cheese and two slices of salami each. As consciousness and energy were regained they could gobble up the salami slices under their own volition. She put away the groceries and started an early supper.

It was the night to clean the kitchen floors so that meant tacos for dinner. They were good eaters, when they remembered to do so, but a messy lot. Cleaning up after a night of tacos and ground beef was not for the faint of heart. But this mom had the program figured out. Prepare the messiest meal immediately beforethe floors are to be cleaned, not afterthe floors had been cleaned.

The boys slowly regained consciousness and started calling to their mom. “You’re OK. Come down to dinner when you feel strong enough,” she called back to the first one to regain himself.

Their dad came home, “Wow, this place smells great, like tacos! Why’s it so quiet?”

“They forgot to eat,” she replied matter of factly doing her best to stifle laughter.

“Again,” said the father shaking his head in disbelief.

“I fed them each just enough to rouse them. They’ll be down to dinner soon.”

“Well, a pleasant evening like this calls for sangria. Can I pour you a glass of orange juice and wine,” he offered.

The peace and quiet would not last long. A few of the boys were already starting in on their salami slices.

[Inspired by words of warning Mom Klem would call out to her boys when stepping out for a few hours.]

Saturday, March 17, 2018


He was on a surfboard bobbing up and down in the ocean like a big red apple in a ‘bobbing for apples’ tub. Lying on his back with arms and legs splayed out and dangling deep into the ocean, he awakened suddenly and popped up sitting on the board. The day was bright, the air cool, but not cold, and the wind was strong. Nothing but ocean as far as he could see.

Passed out on a surfboard out in the ocean for who knows how long. As his surfboard was carried up and down on the waves he couldn’t see anything but ocean. Where was he? Where is shore, what direction and how far? To say that these questions were frightening to him would be a vast understatement. He was terrified! Frantically, he looked around in those few seconds at the top of each wave, but to no effect. There wasn’t enough time or height to see any distance. He decided he would look in only a single direction while atop, then turn his viewing angle 90 degrees for the next crest. This went on for two circle cycles and the panic in him became stronger when nothing certain was visible. In an act of growing desperation he stood up on the board with the idea of waving his arms at the top of the next wave. At what or to whom he might be waving he knew not, and it was then he thought he saw land. With two more waves and continued viewing in that direction he was convinced. Three or more miles away, but there lay land!

The terror and panic immediately receded. With much relief he sat back down, took several deep breaths, collected himself, and knew he’d be OK. There was a rumble in his belly which must be addressed at some point, hopefully soon, but given the circumstances this concern was rapidly discarded. He had no fear of the ocean or the mystery of what lay beneath, even this far from shore. The water, almost any body of water, had a soothing effect on this one. The fact is, he figured, right or wrong, he knew what was below the surface. Mostly just empty water and, with few exceptions, the animals beneath the water wanted less to do with him than he them.

Miles out to sea, donning a spring wetsuit, he rolled over onto his belly and started paddling. He must have been passed out for a long time because his arms and body were completely at rest. His arms felt fresh. Good thing, because he had a long way to go and the ocean was less than calm. It would simply be a matter of paddling one stroke after another. The ocean was bumpy this far out and the pesky wind would considerably increase his effort. With no choice but to paddle, he paddled.

A mile from shore he heard the sound, it caused him to sit up and look around. The surf was huge! The massive waves were being fed by the wind hugging the ocean’s surface and then crashing near the shore with alarming violence. ‘What the hell,’ he thought, ‘no way I’m going ashore through that.' He did not recognize the beach, at least not from this vantage point. He couldn’t place where he was. What beach? What city? He took a moment and thought how delightful it would be if he had a waterproof sack with a snack and sip of water. Nothing to do but decide the course of action. The beach appeared to be very tight, not very deep, almost just a cliff. He knew only that he wanted not to venture through the wilds of these death-defying waves. He started paddling to the left, in what he thought was probably a northwest direction, perpendicularly away to the monster waves while remaining parallel to the shoreline.

He kept this up for 30 minutes occasionally sitting up looking for a spot to come ashore. He eventually found a sandy beach with manageable surf and touched down. ‘Land ho,’ he said under his breath before crawling the final 20 feet out of the surf to the sand. He put his board down, sat on it, and took inventory while he regained his terra firma equilibrium. A surfer wallet was hanging from around his neck and tucked into his wet suit. This was a small plastic waterproof case with a $20 bill and car keys, a Toyota. In addition to the short-sleeve spring wet suit he was wearing neoprene water shoes with rubber soles. He was thankful for this given the amount of walking he anticipated ahead of him. He allowed himself the luxury of a five-minute break before walking. Where to walk he knew not, only that it’d start with a sip of water from the drinking fountain at the nearby public restroom.

His trek commenced with the car keys in hand. Every so often he’d clicked the button listening for a panic alarm to sound off identifying the target vehicle. He walked up and down the nearest beachside public parking lot to no effect. He was on the street walking east and eventually came to another public parking lot. Same routine, periodically clicking the panic button again to no effect. With no choice, he continued his trek eastward on the street overlooking the ocean and stayed on this route for a mile before eventually stopping at an outdoor eatery on a cliff overlooking the ocean and beach below. Exhausted he took a seat near the perimeter fence of the eating area so that he could put his surfboard just on the other side of the fence and out of the way. He was hunched forward looking down collecting himself as to his next move.

“Hey, ugly,” came a friendly voice.

A pair of well tended feet donning rubber flip-flops with plastic daisies on the toe-straps. The tops of the feet were adorably festooned with freckles. He looked up and saw the golden haired beauty who had addressed him. The sun was directly behind her head washing out the facial features but also furnishing her with a commendable halo effect on her gently wind rustled hair. He was pleased with his good fortune at landing at this dining establishment. “Pardon,” he responded feebly.

“You’ve got the ugliest board I’ve ever seen,” she said correctly. “I tell you that every time you’re here. You ready to order?” The board was a mess of colors seemingly haphazardly splashed together as if the manufacturer threw the remnants of a few near empty paint cans at it. The thing was ugly.

“Sorry, I’m a little out of it this morning,” he responded, confused by the ‘every time’ remark.

“Yeah, you look it. Also, it’s afternoon. Getchya the usual,” she suggested.

“Please,” he said, not sure what this ‘usual’ would entail. He also noticed for the first time he was wearing a watch, 2:45 in the afternoon.

He looked out over the ocean. Truly beautiful, and especially from this vantage point. He zoned out again, but this time it was just because he was worn out and hungry, rather than zonked out in a mysterious cloud of lapsed consciousness. He snapped out of it when she returned.

She dropped off two plates and two glasses. Blueberry pancakes, hash browns with a sunny side egg on top with bacon. A pair of frosted strawberry pop tarts with sprinkles, a purple smoothie of some sort and a glass of water no straw. “We’re not supposed to serve breakfast this late, but you looked like breakfast was what you needed. Plus, it’s not that busy right now and the cook didn’t mind. Let me know if you need anything more.” She picked up the table condiments and departed.

“What if I need those,” he said referring to the condiments.

“You won’t. You never do,” she replied over her shoulder without stopping.

He ate in a civilized manner despite his urge for a good gorging. In so doing he took in the savoring delight of each bite. Also taking time to think about his next step. Who he was, name, where he lived, how to get home, where was home? Keep walking, he figured.

He finished the meal, placed his $20 under the glass so it wouldn’t blow away, hopped over the low railing, grabbed his board, took one last long view of the ocean and continued his walk. There were cars parked all up and down the busy coastal highway, both sides of the street. He’d walk to the next light, clicking the panic button on his key fob every so often, then decide whether or not to continue forward or cross the street and walk back on the other side. But plan B became curiously unnecessary.

An older model Toyota 4Runner immediately responded to his key fob. There was a familiarity to it, and to this ocean view. He’d been here before, spent time just looking out over the ocean from exactly here. The rack on the roof was definitely meant for such things as his ugly surfboard. He put it in place, strapped it in, then got inside the car.

There was an ice cooler on the passenger side floor. A sheet of notebook paper was taped to the top of the cooler ‘Did it happen again? Home address is on the reverse side.’ The note appeared to be aged. The tape looked to have been removed and replaced several times. The paper had clearly been folded over before. There it was, his home address, with cross street drawn in. He need only now check the address of the diner from his receipt and complete the puzzle as to his starting point. He opened the cooler to luke warm water sloshing around, whatever ice had once been there had long ago melted. A bottled mineral water and a Dr. Pepper. He rolled the windows down, confirmed the adequacy of the fuel and turned on the radio. He chose the mineral water, started the car, signaled to merge into traffic and was underway.

[Inspired by a dream.]

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Keg on Skate

Six fellows had been enjoying mugs of beer on a Saturday night. Money had been collected, a keg of inexpensive beer had been purchased and the contents were being imbibed. A mild commotion made itself known nearby and the good natured fellows went to correct the disruption. They were very capable, these ones. Well, five of them at least. The sixth, being of slight build, was charged with transporting the keg to the next locale instead of intermingling with a potential scuffle. The group disbanded and the sole waif refreshed his mug before taking on his transport mission.

He hefted the keg, still three quarters full of precious gold carbonated liquid, and moved it out the front door to the tiny porch. Really tiny, the porch was no more than a three-foot by three-foot square of raised concrete intended as a point of demarcation from the apartment complex’s concrete walkway. He grabbed his skateboard, lifted the keg onto the skate and was on his way.

The rendezvous locale was three blocks away and he would travel without his muscled escort. The neighborhood was not one of violence, but at this hour on a Saturday night in a quadrant of highly populated dilapidated apartments occupied by students in the city of Isla Vista, immediately adjacent to the university campus of Santa Barbara, there may be opportunists of unsavory intent. With that thought lightly weighing on his mind he quickly put his concerns to rest. ‘It’s just three blocks. What’s that, five minutes? Here I go.’

He felt like a king in charge of this whole keg while on a skateboard. Covetous looks were showered upon him from student-aged pedestrians. He pompously pretended to be oblivious, but enjoyed the attention.

One might think that a keg of beer, a full-sized keg, not one of those diminutive pony kegs that could be easily lifted as if conducting a set of arm curls, this full barrel, one’s first impression, might be that an awkward ride was to commence. Not so. He quickly discovered a keg on the skateboard was an amazingly effective stabilizer! The added weight allowed the skate to hug the ground without so much as a jolt when rolling over each sidewalk crack, twigs or small stones. Debris that might otherwise present a possible err was to be overcome without hesitation. Turning was also vastly enhanced. The keg easily overhung each side of the skateboard such that effecting a left or right turn was easily performed by a mere leaning on one side of the keg or the other. Smooth sailing, in sea-faring parlance.

First block down, he’d be pulling off cups of beer in no time. So elated at the ease with which this perceived difficult task had turned that he noticed not a wit that the next block was rather dark. And when I narrate that it was dark, the street lights were mostly inoperable or had been actively disabled. Ominous one might say.

The corner turned, no cars, pedestrians or other skateboards. It was entirely clear, nothing but the pleasant sounds of his skateboard tooling elegantly down the street with a prize possession in his entire care, custody and control. Except, of course, for the house on the right with a fire pit in the front yard and a balcony loaded with eight rabble-rousers. The sound of the skateboard regrettably won their attention and the rowdies got eerily quiet while heavy metal music continued to wail from the stereo system. Waif looked toward the house, all rowdies were looking at him. No words spoken, eyes locked, mental motion began to spin. The rabble rousers huddled hastily and hushed tones were eagerly exchanged. Waif was a silly fellow, but not a dumb one. He recognized that this might be a good time to expedite his arrival time.

The street was smooth as if recently paved. This allowed him to confidently increase his rate of speed without a significant corresponding chance of a wipe out. While the rowdies expended precious moments deciding on their course of action, he did not need confirmation, he knew the decision, only not how long by which the result would be accepted widely enough to set their plan in force.

The home was deeply set back from the street so the rowdies, already appreciating inebriating effects to their motor skills, wasted additional time fighting their way downstairs and picking out their bicycles from the haphazard scrum of two-wheeled vehicles on the front lawn. Isla Vista is a land of self-propulsion devices necessitated by the expansive university campus. Bicycles were possessed by most as the choice vehicle of self-propulsion. Waif, as we see here, however, chose a skateboard. He was a block away from the destination where he hoped reinforcements would be present, but this hope would be rendered futile if he did not first get there.

He was traveling well, if at a reckless pace by now, when he heard the cluster of rabble rousers hit the streets. His lead was 100 feet and they would close quickly. Less than half a block away he saw the driveway, his goal was within sight. He was skating at full speed as the luxury of safety no longer intersected with his circumstances. A pothole would easily spill him and the barrel of beer harshly across the asphalt. That risk he accepted knowing this to be a game of all or nothing. They were too fast, he could hear their breathing! The cat-calling started, “Hey, we just want a refill, fill up our cups and we’ll leave you alone.”

The muscled reinforcements, oblivious to the brewing confrontation, in a beautiful gift of timing, walked out from the driveway awaiting the arrival of the keg. It was the five from the onset. They’d completed their brief task, traveled to this locale and were ready to reengage the keg.

The skateboard pulled into the driveway as the rowdies rode by with parting wicked remarks. The reinforcements laughed immediately realizing that waif had been in a race for his proverbial life and emerged unscathed by the thinnest of margins. A brief breath catcher, and a refill. Those next few sips were very sweet, much sweeter and tastier than if there had been no chase.

[Inspired by a true life event circa 1990 up to and including the rabble-rousers on the balcony, except for the chase.]

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Test Tubes

It was Kilroy’s first day reporting to work and he was more than eager. As a recent science graduate of a prestigious university he was in awesome spirits having attained employment at a laboratory. The office handed him a key, provided the lab room number and he was sent off to begin his work. He was employed as the test tube cleaner! He was seeking more elevated permanent employment than this, but it would do while that search continued. The lab room was located and he confirmed the number match on the key. ‘This is it. I go,’ he played out in his head. The door opened, he stepped in.

‘Oh shit,’ he said in his head, immediately regretful of the harsh tone in his thoughts. This was a full-sized 2,000 sq. ft. laboratory stacked with innumerable crates of test tubes. Well, sure, not exactly innumerable, but there were very many, more than he had imagined possible awaiting his arrival. The chemical odor from the dirty tubes was strong and the air still. The window blinds were in disorder casting an irregular louvered effect on his vast uncleansed inventory with the early morning light. The tables, desks, aisles and most surface area contained bins and cases of spent tubes. Clearly these tubes had been waiting months for him, or anyone, to clean them and release them back into circulation. But holy cow, the mass quantities were difficult to accept.

Just then a knock at the door! A greeting party? An introduction to the task at hand and how best to proceed? With a hopeful stride he returned to the door and opened with a smile.

Hi, I’m a scientist in the lab next door. I heard a test tube-cleaning monkey had been hired, looks like you’re it. I’ve got this dolly full of dirty tubes for you. I know a few other labs have been holding their dirties because this room has been full for a while. They’ll probably bring them by soon. Thanks.” The scientist departed without hesitation and took the dolly leaving the carts of tubes outside for Kilroy’s manual effort. No introduction, no solicitation at all for the ‘monkey’s’ input. The final indignity had been delivered.

Kilroy was a guy accustomed to getting things done, monkey or human. The load was hauled in, he locked the door behind him, donned his gloves and goggles and got started. Monkey, he thought to himself. The local lab boners had underestimated this one and it fueled his rage. Two hours passed, it was nearing lunch with no visible progress. Positive visual effects were still days away. Another knock at the door, “Hey, I’ve got more test tubes for you. I was told someone was here. Are you in there?” ‘Screw them,’ thought Kilroy, ‘this monkey’s busy right now.’ The knock at the door was ignored.

Day two, he arrived to two additional dirty test tube deliveries. Eight hours into this job and he was deeper in the hole than if he had not started at all. The tubes were hauled inside then he unpacked his backpack. A CD-player loaded with a compact disc of Pink Floyd was turned on to lighten the mood and would be followed by Rush, King Crimson or Blue Oyster Cult depending what was needed at the time. He locked the door, again donned his Personal Protection Equipment and knuckled down. Kilroy had things to do and they would get done.

At the end of day two the number of cleans trickled in to fill several crates registering as the tiniest of victories. He would win this battle, but wow, how long? And how tedious?

By day three the cleaning protocol was in full swing. Dirty tubes were introduced en masse to the presoak. While the new batch soaked the prior batch of tubes were removed and forwarded to the test tube washing machine. Tubes in the next phase progressed from the drying rack to the autoclave for sterilizing. Test tube caps were cleaned, sterilized and dried, then matched with clean tubes. These finished tubes were proudly packed in the crates and placed by the door for pick up.

The lab room and its related duties had been under Kilroy’s reign for two weeks now. There had been no further ‘monkey’ references by the lab workers. They sensed that this one was powerful, a catalyst. Crates of clean tubes had been rolling out in impressive and efficient quantities. The quality was above reproach and a corresponding respect had stirred in the air.

It took two months before the inventory of dirty tube had been extinguished in their entirety. His work, this miserable task, had concluded. The blinds were uniformly drawn closed, the lights turned out and the door locked. A scientist looking through the window saw Kilroy departing. “There he goes,” he said to nobody in particular. Kilroy walked away in triumph continuing the search for more meaningful employment. It would be found and they’d be lucky to have him.

[Inspired by a job my brother had for a brief period of time many years ago.]

Friday, December 29, 2017

Air Raid

Germany, 1944 in the late fall

The air raid sirens broke the peaceful silence of the cold cloudy night. For the third time this month momma was frantically bounding around the house getting the kids out of bed to go to the bomb shelter. Willy, the oldest, was not having any of it and remained steadfast calmly lying in bed.

“Willy, get up, we’ve got to go to the bomb shelter. Don’t you hear the sirens?”

“No, I’m not going tonight. I’m staying in bed.”

At ten years old he was the oldest of five children and was wildly more mature than his years. Growing up in World War II Germany would do that to a kid. The first time the air raid sirens went off was four months ago and it was very frightening causing the kids to scream and cry. By now the frequency of the siren brought a more mundane nuisance aspect to the bombing that is difficult to comprehend in peace time. Mother and the kids hopped to action, but not Willy, at least not tonight.

“Willy, we need to go now! We’ve got to go! Get out of bed, your brothers and sisters need you.”

“Momma, I’m not going. It’s cold tonight and I finally got this bed nice and warm, I’m not getting out. You go ahead, I’ll be fine.” He was stubborn, but as the oldest he was not to be trifled with.

The arguing carried on for only two minutes as she called out to the other four to get ready. She couldn’t continue expending valuable time on him any longer knowing it would be to no avail. The others were up and had their jackets as the protocol was by now ingrained in their young minds, and away they went running to the neighborhood shelter. Willy remained behind cool as a cucumber having secured this one-time reprieve.

The bomb shelter was tight, cold, dank and filled with neighbors. Huddled up in close confines for two hours breathing air that rapidly became more stale was a miserable experience, but they were safe with the sky full of Allied bombers. The Americans usually bombed during the day with their B-17s. A nighttime raid, Willy figured correctly, would be the British Lancasters. This raid would be conducted with a relatively light 80 bombers, a bomber sortie could easily consist of 150 or more. Tonight’s bombers were not loaded with the white phosphorus incendiary bombs that would soon eliminate Dresden. These aircraft each carried 14,000 pounds of general purpose bombs with a mix of delay fuses and instantaneous [nose-armed]. This was the bomb load specific to carpet-bombing an industrial target, as in tonight’s case, a city playing host to factories and many miles of railway.

Within ten minutes of his mother’s departure the skyward rumble could be heard along with the ‘ack ack’ of the German anti-aircraft guns. The explosions of the bombs were distant but their result was easily felt this far away. Willy lay in bed more upset at the nuisance and commotion than scared of a direct hit. Living through war since one’s earliest memories will alter that sentiment regarding the possibility of dying. When death seems ever present its ability to cause fright is diluted. War is hell, people are apt to say. Empty words, those, when delivered by someone who hasn’t lived it.

The explosions were steady and far enough away where the rumble yielded a soothing effect while he lay in bed. Industrial buildings and railway infrastructure were being decimated along with innumerable homes and citizens. An hour passed, the bombers passed, the fire fighting and emergency brigades were at work. Momma and the kids returned safely, tossed their jackets on the sofa and checked on their big brother. He had rolled over on his belly and was sound asleep!

[Inspired by Opa’s real life events.] 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ant Moat

It was a land of miniature ants. Sure, such beasts are already minute, but these guys, these ants, were tinier than most. And quick, oh they were fast on those six sets of tiny ‘toes’. That, then, sets the stage for this trip to the Bahamas.

The waifish fellow was on vacation with his lovely fiancée. How he got her to commit to marriage was a question for which he was never fully sure he could answer, though grandly thankful he was. He tasked himself to suppress the surprise every time he thought of the forthcoming marital vows. But I digress. This fellow had a silly inclination of pilferage, as it pertained to food. An inclination is, admittedly, too delicate a term. A driving compulsion, however, was speaking in the proper measure.

The two were enjoying an all expenses paid vacation. Dining was at no additional charge regardless of how much he could stuff down his gullet. As each meal neared conclusion he would take his tertiary perusal of the food quadrants and scout out his pilferage options. Upon meal conclusion he made his final swoop, secured the chosen items, carefully wrapped them in a napkin and the two young beauties left the dining area. Returning to the room the food was placed on the countertop. They changed into their swim trunks and stepped out for a beachside read and swim. The weather was truly delightful.

Nearly two hours elapsed. They returned to the room where they promptly opened the window to soak in the sea breeze, turned on the ceiling fan, and she turned on the television to watch the baseball game. The month was October and her favorite ball team, the Cleveland Indians, was in the playoffs facing the Baltimore Orioles. She desperately hoped for an Indians’ victory and hopped on the bed hugging a pillow to watch the ballgame. She was always exquisite in her nervous pre-game jitters. Meanwhile, his top priority, check on the pilfered grub.

He was alarmed at the activity taking place where the food had been set. It resembled the surface of a fast moving river. Bending his torso closer to the countertop he saw that the motion was a sea of ants! Oh, so tiny. And fast, they moved so fast that he quickly stood up straight to put some distance between him and them. Despite the fright he successfully stifled a squeal of alarm. The ants had commandeered his two cookies, one of which he claimed was for his fiancée, but there existed vast amounts of doubt as to whether she would have actually received the cookie instead of him gluttonously consuming both.

Defeat, dammit! While the food acquisition had been a success, his care, custody and control had failed outright. He grabbed two squares of toilet paper, opened the front door, quickly snared the ant-laden cookies, and forthwith efficiently hurled them into a nearby garbage bin in the courtyard. He cleaned the countertop of intruders to the best of his ability and returned to watch the ball game. He sulked in silence and pondered the next day’s pilferage effort.

They awakened to another glorious day of light blue skies, two puffy pure white clouds and more limitless servings of food. They spent the morning with a several-mile beach walk, farther than he had anticipated but there was no stopping her. At lunch he again made his tertiary scouting trip to review the daily changing meals and dessert options. He found what he wanted, wrapped the items in a napkin and the two young beauties returned to their room where they would change into their swim trunks so that they might prance upon the beach. Late in the afternoon they would return to their room to throw open the windows to enjoy the sea breeze and watch his fiancée’s Cleveland Indians’ playoff baseball game. But first, he must administer care for his pilfered goods.

Twenty fours hours had passed since his last engagement with the ants. It was time well spent thinking through a crafty rebuttal. He started with a rectangular plastic tray. It was the size of a small tv tray with a short lip circumnavigating the entire perimeter. He filled a plastic cup with water and emptied it into the tray. ‘That’s a good start’ he thought and did it again. The tray was now a reservoir. He placed the unused ice bucket into the middle of the tray. His treasured food items, still wrapped in the napkin, were placed into the bucket, and the lid was then added as a final touch. A moat, an ant moat, this should work. Pleased with his work, he changed into his swim trunks and they engaged the beach and the sea.

Nearly two hours elapsed, they returned to the room, opened the window allowing in the wonderful sea breeze. She turned on the ceiling fun and ballgame, then hopped on the bed smiling with her pre-game jitters and got ready for the game’s broadcast. Her every motion was irresistible to him.

Before changing into his leisure shorts he scoped out the food. His protocols were deemed a success as there were no ants! The ant moat had worked! He offered one of the jumbo chocolate chip cookies to his soon-to-be-bride and they watched the ball game cheering her Tribe to victory.

[Based on true events on a trip to the Bahamas in 1997.]