Showing posts with label Leigh Lundin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leigh Lundin. Show all posts

02 August 2020

Merciful Air Conditioning Appreciation Festival



steamy Florida writer man Leigh
Steamy Florida Man
I’m celebrating MACAF, Merciful Air Conditioning Appreciation Festival. Village lads luge ’cross frozen cobblestones on home-grown ice blocks. Hyperboreal maidens dance around The Great Icicle stalactite streaming ice-blue ribbons. Famed artists compete to carve the bestest ice sculpture before melting in the ƒ-ing Florida heat.

You guessed it. My air conditioning went out, in Florida, on a weekend (naturally), coinciding with a record heat wave, and my brain cells are dehydrating. Why, oh why always on weekends?

The original York A/C had passed its 40th birthday. While it would have happily celebrated its quinquagenary (I cheated and looked that word up), experts claimed its inefficiency was killing glaciers in Manitoba.

I desired a heat pump manufactured in North American, one that wouldn’t keel over milliseconds after the warranty expired. To be fair, LG claimed a unit in Nunavut was rumored to have lasted eleven years. Guinness disqualified it — it hadn’t been plugged in.
My salesman said, “I can offer you a Rheem…”
“No kidding, I saw the prices.”
“… or we can talk Ruud.”
“That was, wasn’t it.”
“You need the Atlas Kazoom Freezer-Kool Polar 3000, fully automatic, four barrel, thirteen stage, multilevel, max-filter, micro-fibre, zip-lock, four-on-the-floor, orthopædic super-traction, six-gigawatt, five-speed, 29 SEER, solar-ready, entertainment-prepped, streaming, IoT featuring Apple Siri, Google Home, Alexa alert, corona-virus secure, mercury-free, gluten-free, biometric, child-proof, NASA-approved, UL listed Intel Inside HVAC with the opt-in hyper-glow platinum-plated Coldplay thermostat…”
“Uh, I just want an air conditioner, you know, a heat pump.”
He gave me a pitying look for my failed foresight and lack of regard for his commission, just when he needed new golf clubs.

I opted for Lennox, still made in America’s heartland, boasting a 125 year history. The outside condenser’s dimensions astonished me, the size and price of a small apartment building. Micro-miniaturization doesn’t apply in the physics of air conditioning. Apparently the ‘SEER’ energy rating grows along with bulk, but at least my house’s interior has dropped below triple °F digits.

So now I’m celebrating Air Conditioning Festival where village dogs pull faux sleds and bark at heat thermals. The madness should fade as the temperature drops.

The following shows my original heat pump, the new one, and the model the salesman tried to foist on me.

The Hypothermia Headliners

I needed to replace the Baby Bear original…

The Baby Bear A/C model
1978 Trash-a-Rainforest Pain-in-theTush model (T.A.R.P.I.T)

So I bought the Mama Bear…

The Mama Bear A/C model
The Woefully Inadequate Middlin’ Pump (W.I.M.P) model

Instead of the recommended Papa Bear…

The Papa Bear A/C model
Penumbra 6000, 3rd largest American Air Heat for Home, Hut, Hovel, House, Hotel, & Hamlet (AAHHHHHHH)

Hey, this is Florida!

19 July 2020

Florida… Oh No, Not Again!


Florida postcard
Florida’s bizarre politicians overshadow our usual weird news. But let’s take a stab at the strange.

Gator Cater

West Palm Beach, Florida.  No, I am NOT the guy who reads and sings to calm alligators not receiving their share of tourists. Everyone knows I can’t sing.

Marathon, Florida.  I also deny knowledge of the iguana that wrestled a guy and his bicycle to the ground. A spokesman for the bicycle said…

Tampa, Florida.  Nor do I have anything to do with neighbors preventing access to a landlocked bird sanctuary. (I have sympathy in this case. Orange County politicians turned over a county road to a private cattle company, preventing property owners access to their land.)

Head Honcho

St. Petersburg, Florida.  A jogger found a human head on a grassy knoll. Police confirm it is not that of Governor DeSantis, who is known for having lost his mind but not his head. Yet.

Softball Questioning

Jacksonville, Florida.  A hard-hitting woman batted eyelashes at her police detective boyfriend, who gave her a pass during a murder investigation. They made it beyond third base but not quite home when they were called out.

The Mother of All Gifts

Clearwater, Florida.  We missed reporting on Mother’s Day that a spitting, angry Pinellas County wife beat her husband for remembering and giving her flowers. Uh wait. I’m guessing she didn’t want flowers.

Clearwater, Florida.  Another woman attacked her man with a candy cane. And a brick. And a pen. Somehow after a brick and a yard-size candy cane, a pen doesn’t seem all that much.

Micanopy, Florida.  So her boyfriend, see, well, she was on her phone, actually, and her boyfriend, just sorta, kinda, tripped on air and fell on a knife, twisted it in maybe, and writhed and stabbed himself umpteen times or not and raccoons attacked… No flowers for her Mother’s Day.

Sanford, Florida.  Lest ye think it only women who’ve gone corona-mad, there’s the crazed man who stabbed a roommate then turned on police, screaming something about Satan and worms and… You see? Some normal Florida things still happen.

Deltona, Florida.  We mustn’t forget another man who attacked a roommate who’d kindly made him breakfast. Oh wait. The breakfast chef woke him at 5am. That’s like the middle of the night. Last time someone woke me at 5am, police found me sharpening my teeth.

coronavirus
Another Reason to Close the Bars

Indialantic, Florida.  She just spread the love or a message or coronavirus. Just because she kissed strangers without a mask, was that any reason to stop a sunny welcome?

Try as I might, I can’t seem to get away from COVID-19 stories.

Taking the Cure


Bradenton, Florida.  The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing continued selling their Miracle COVID Cure after a judge ordered them to stop selling industrial bleach for human consumption. This is the same chemical their leader wrote about to President Trump who subsequently claimed this wonderful detox would knock out the coronavirus in one minute. Side effects include heartburn, death…

Fort Myers, Florida.  That guy in Costco, you know, the dude who felt threatened by a 60-some year old lady who asked him to wear a mask… from Florida, of course. He’s a star insurance salesman; you’d think he’d want everyone to masque up.

Holly Hill, Florida.  The Costco guy wasn’t as nasty as the woman who spit into Walmart’s fruit and vegetable bins ruining $350 or so of foods. Because of the corona hoax, of course.

Homestead, Florida.  A couple wanted soooo bad to visit the Florida Keys, but those stupid Keys officials didn’t want to spread that hoaxy COVID and like all illegally tyrant-like keep non-residents out, which is soooo Naziish. Anyway, this freedom-loving couple took a teenager prisoner and forced her to drive through the checkpoint. They struck such a blow for freedom, not the terrified girl’s, of course, but theirs. Except they’re locked up.

Cadillac atop cars
Hernando, Florida.  Local drivers might not be as bad as Boston’s, but how do you drive backwards and park atop other cars? And we don’t even get snow?

Reedy Creek Control District, Florida.  One guy decided to self-quarantine in Walt Disney World. He shacked up on Discovery Island, Disney’s former zoo of sorts before Animal Kingdom.

Gainesville, Florida.  If you live in Florida and someone removes your testicles, you might be a politician. Or an adopted kitten. Who knew a stuffed dragon might not protect you?

Full Blown Politics

Tallahassee, Florida.  At the same time the White House blames poor coronavirus response on the media for too much coronavirus reporting, Florida’s governor blasts the media for too little reporting. Indeed, Governor DeSantis says the press reported nothing about COVID-19 until April, so he assumed all was okay. Which is weird, because like a kidnap hostage, I can hold up copies of the Orlando Sentinel and Miami Herald dated back in January. Doesn’t he know the Keys have been off limits to visitors since 22 March?

Grim Reaper on Florida beach
© Tampa Bay Times and Shorty Awards
Florida is famous for costumed characters and since February, the Grim Reaper has patrolled Florida’s beaches warning visitors about the virus. In March, that Grim Reaper, revealed as Daniel Uhfelder, Esq, sued the Governor’s office to require face masks. So apparently our Governor doesn’t check the news, he also pays no attention to lawsuits.

Earlier this month when I wrote about Florida landing the sad position of Nº 1 and setting new pandemic records every day, I hadn’t expected the Sunshine State to continue setting new records. As one observer put it, if Florida was a separate nation, it would rank among the worst countries on the planet for infections.

Governor DeSantis calls that ‘a blip’. Because, you know, the Black Plague was ‘a bump’ and reporters ‘a bleep’. Such ingrates! Florida has done soooo much to keep the numbers down. Like firing our heroine, Rebekah Jones, the state’s database administrator who revealed Florida’s government was grossly under-reporting cases. And sheriff offices complain that as infection hotspots soared, the state cut off critical information to police agencies including addresses of known outbreaks. And the state ordered medical examiners not to release autopsy data. Because no info, no problems.

Milledgeville, Georgia.  Above our border, Georgia’s Brian “Screw ’em” Kemp is posing a challenge to Florida’s Ron ‘Who Me?’ DeSantis for dumbest governor, but I’m afraid Georgia will have to settle for Miss Uncongeniality. Kemp is suing cities that require masks in public. Because no masks, no problems.

Oh God, the clowns! We’re all gonna die! But keep shaking your head and laughing.

05 July 2020

Florida Number 1 !


coronavirus
Few recognize the name François-Marie Arouet but probably know his pseudonym, Voltaire. An advocate for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state, he’s little known for writing one of the earliest detective stories and some of the first science fiction, truly a writer ahead of his time.

Voltaire is best known for a satire, Candide, in which “all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.”

And here, in the best of all possible Floridas, we’re setting daily records! For, umm, coronavirus infections. We’re bigger than Texas! We’re bigger than California! We’re bigger than New York!

Florida! We’re number 1! We’re number 1! Er, wait…

COVID-19 coronavirus infections per day
COVID-19 coronavirus deaths per day

We recently broke 10 000 COVID-19 infections per day. Yesterday’s increment came in at 11 458 as the state approaches 200 000 cases and more than 3700 deaths.

Meanwhile the United States is quickly closing in on 3-million infections. It seemed only days ago we wondered if the nation’s death toll would hit 100 000, but already it’s 131 549 and growing. Once our infectious response teams led the world. Now third world nations shun us.

The US has 4¼% of the world’s population, but more than 25% of global infections… and deaths. Yet, in this best of all possible Candide worlds, 41½% of Americans think our government acted just peachy. Ironically, one of the organs the coronavirus attacks is the brain.

US world population versus infections

This is today’s take home message. I don’t give a damn what your politics are. I simply ask you to error on the side of caution and stay safe.

Additional Risk Factors
  • Age– the older you are, the more you’re at risk.
  • Sex– males are 6 times more likely to succumb than females.
  • Race– blacks are more susceptible than whites.
  • Blood– A and AB types pose a significantly higher risk.
How to Be Smarter than the BBC

If you can bear with the numbers a moment longer, the death rates bandied by news outlets, including the venerable BBC, are often in error. Their non-mathematicians typically divide the number of deaths by the number of cases– wrong! To get the correct number, simply divide deaths by the number of recovered patients. In other words,

COVID-19 Death Rates as of 4th July 2020
525 491 ÷ 5890052 = 0.0892 or 8.9% worldwide
131 549 ÷ 864 996 = 0.1520 or 15% nationwide

21 June 2020

Statues of Limitations


In the initial wave of Black Lives Matter, I was astonished how many moderates misunderstood the message, good-hearted but befuddled people who responded with “All lives matter.” The debate reminded me of a marital argument where husband and wife talk past one another, those moments when she just wants him to listen.

I hope it still doesn’t need spelling out, but supporting Black Lives Matter is hardly tantamount to, say, embracing the Black Liberation Army, that mirror image of the White Aryan Resistance.

Yes, of course all lives matter, but realize BLM is literally an existential issue for black folks, and by existential, I mean life…and…death. This year more people– not everyone but an accelerating number– begin to understand marginalization and how tenuous the life of a black man can be. I still haven’t got past the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice playing by himself in a Cleveland park on a snowy day. There’s no rationale, man.

Feet of Clay


A professional photographer I knew said, “The Klan does a lot of good. You know they feed children.”

“To what?” I said.

I’m not sure he got it. Hitler liked children too, very, very white ones.

Ten days ago, Brian Thornton wrote about monuments, D.W. Griffith, and the sanitizing and romanticizing of slavery in this country. I commented that a Jacksonville, Florida school only recently changed its name from a founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince, painting © Morry
The Happy Prince © Morry
Perhaps a balance should be sought about the value, equitability, and fairness of controversial statuary. A soldier doing his job, maybe. A murderous jayhawker or bushwhacker, nooooo. A founder of the KKK, nooooo, decidedly not. Just a thought.

Feat of Kaolin

Brian also mentioned Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias’, which reminded me of a great short story by Oscar Wilde, one I thought infinitely sad when I was a small child.

In that classics spirit set forth by Brian, here is Wilde’s fable…

The Happy Prince

by Oscar Wilde

07 June 2020

3-5-0-0


This past week America witnessed an attack on peaceful protestors at a park in our nation’s capital. Even more disturbing, the government chose to deploy the United States military against its own people, harking back to the days of our founding mothers and fathers. That was dire enough, some units, possibly from the Bureau of Prisons, entered the fray without identifying insignia or nameplates, a violation of the Rules of War.

For those reading or writing thrillers based on the reality, following is a capsule summary of some of the ‘non-lethal’ but nonetheless potentially deadly weapons at the disposal of our government to use domestically. This list does not include contact weapons such as truncheons, tasers, and stun guns.

grenade launcher
Aerosol Chemical Weapons

CN – Mace
Mace™ or chloroacetophenone is weaker than CS gas but its affects persist longer. Chemical Mace is a liquid that temporarily immobilizes and disables a person, blinding and disorienting them and causing intense pain in the eyes. It is generally prepared as an aerosol spray.

CR – Fire gas
DBO or dibenzoxazepine is a type of tear gas developed by the British Ministry of Defence as an incapacitating and lachrymatory agent. More powerful than CS gas by a factor of six to ten, it’s also extremely persistent, lasting up to two months, one reason to leave it on the shelf. It cannot be washed off.

CS – Tear Gas
O-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile represents the classic tear gas. Banned by the Geneva Convention for use in War, a number of countries, including the United States, freely use it against its own citizens.

OC – Pepper Spray
Intended for non-lethal use in standoff situations, oleoresin capsicum was develooped by the FBI’s Kamran Loghman in the 1980s. Although deemed non-deadly, deaths and contributions to death have been caused by pepper spray. Its inventor regretted its use against peaceful protestors, saying, “I have never seen such an inappropriate and improper use of chemical agents.”

grenade launcher
Disorientation Grenades

Flash-Bangs
A type of stun grenade, a ‘thunder flash’ or ‘flash-bang’ was intended to be a non-lethal mass disabling device. Nevertheless, fatalities have occurred from proximate detonation (including a North Carolina SWAT officer), smoke inhalation, chemical burns, and heart attacks. Injuries can be severe including burns, retina damage, and auditory damage. Minneapolis has undergone more than one unfortunate incident including the deaths of an elderly couple after a grenade set their home afire during a ginned-up drug raid.

Stun Grenades
Concussion devices and flash-bangs fall under the umbrella term of stun grenades. These often use the same packaging and delivery systems of conventional grenades. In addition to attacking sight and sound, some anti-terrorism types instantly consume available oxygen, making breathing difficult. This latter effect should not be confused with smoke and gas grenades.

Sting Balls
Stingers™ and their ilk are built like conventional fragmentation grenades, except they’re constructed of hard rubber instead of pot metal. Typically they pack up to a hundred rubber balls and oftimes powdered capsaicin II (PAVA) to add to injury. Because the projectiles cannot be controlled, they often result in severe injuries including loss of fingers, hands, and eyes.

AR-15 assault rifle
Kinetic Impact Projectiles

Bean Bags
Called by the manufacturers ‘flexible baton rounds’, beanbag bullets consist of pouches loaded with 2mm #9 lead shot stuffed in shotgun shells. While deaths are infrequent, beanbags can stop the heart, puncture vital organs with a broken rib, crush the larynx, snap the hyoid bone, and shatter the skull.

Pepper Balls aka Fireballs
Often employing PAVA powdered capsaicin II, pepper-spray projectiles are fired from militarized paintball weapons. Also called ‘fireballs’, they’re noted for their sting on contact followed by a painful, debilitating dust or mist.

Plastic Bullets
Intended to be less lethal than rubber bullets, plastic projectiles have largely replaced their rubber counterparts. However, plastic bullets can still prove deadly, especially when targeted above the waist and particularly amongst children.

Rubber Bullets
The British invented so-called ‘batton bullets’ or ‘rubber rounds’ for use in Northern Ireland before they made their way to the United States. Due to their uncontrollable ‘bouncy’ nature, rubber rounds have a death toll of 2-3% and a 15-20% permanent disability rate.

Sponge Balls
Police spokespersons call these ‘nerf balls’, but these are serious weapons-grade projectiles intended to be a little less lethal than rubber, plastic, and wooden bullets. They are capable of breaking bones, as a Florida woman learned when one shattered her eye socket.

Wooden Bullets
The Nazi SS found wooden bullets inflicted lethal wounds that could not be operated on, leaving the victim to face a slow, painful death. When fired into the head, the Germans further learned the wood wreaked terrible destruction without exiting the skull, making them a ‘safe’ bullet. Described as ‘short bolts’, wood projectiles date far back in history but were deployed last week in Washington for ‘pain compliance’ in crowd control.

Are there other ‘compliance’ weapons we readers and writers should know about?

24 May 2020

The Murder of Me, part 2


Narrows Gorge Underwater
Narrows Gorge Underwater

Last week, a boating companion left Leigh trapped upside down in an overturned canoe in surging waters, fighting to free his ankles. If Leigh didn’t smash face-first into boulders rising from the depths, a whirlpool lay ahead.

He had been targeted for murder.

We return to the story…
— Editor

gorge map
Upside down in churning, freezing glacier melt, I fought to free my ankles. Threaded under the seat, my long legs proved difficult to extricate from a crevice not made for anyone over six feet. One foot pulled free… tug, twist… then the other. Still submerged, I yanked off my boots so I could swim.

My life preserver popped me to the surface. To my right, a ledge extended. I climbed like a wet rat, reaching that shelf, momentarily safe.

At a distance below, Jeff clung to the capsized canoe, orbiting the whirlpool. He screamed up at me, violently swearing.

Only one way off the ledge presented itself. I needed to plunge back into the freezing waters. It seemed a twelve-foot drop, but was probably half that.

I jumped. I swam for the circling canoe.

One of my boots bobbed there. I never knew hiking shoes could float. The other came within reach. Jeff cursed me the entire time.

“Shut it,” I said. “We need to empty the canoe.”

“How?”

“Give me the paddle,” I said.

“No.”

“The paddle, else stay stuck in this spin cycle.”

“No, you’ll leave.”

“I’ll leave if you don’t.”

He didn’t know how to get out of the predicament. He swore and tossed me the paddle.

“Rock the boat like this,” I said. “Slosh the water out.”

He followed instructions until we emptied much of the water. I stretched across and pulled myself into the stern. Jeff followed suit, clinging to a thwart. I ruddered the canoe until it separated from the grip of the whirlpool. It bounded down the rapids battering the hell out of the hull.

We spotted the portage. Bill, Sandy, and Lauren huddled there, stamping their feet against the cold.

“Where were you?” they said. “What happened to you?”

“Leigh fucked up,” said Jeff before I could speak. “He tipped us over. Leigh lost one of the oars and he’s fucking paying for it.”

The women hovered over Jeff, cooing and cawing. “You poor thing."

“Let’s hike,” I said. “Hypothermia. We need to get warm and dry.”

Moments later, Scott appeared. As the others climbed the trail, he and I hefted the canoe over our shoulders to portage it. In relative privacy under the shell, he spoke quietly.

“Weirdest thing, Leigh. I inched along the cliff face and kept you in sight.”

“You picked your way across that bluff?” I was impressed.

“Yeah. As the canoe aimed at those rocks, I remembered the stern guy steers. When Jeff started rocking the boat. I’m convinced he deliberately capsized it.”

I said, “Pretty much what happened.”

“Why do that? You could have been killed.”

“I don’t know, Scott. I can’t explain it.”

Jeff Summerfield's Malfoy sneer
The Malfoy sneer
The Cool

Back at camp, the only warmth arose from the fire. Jeff held court, regarding me with his down-the-nose Malfoy gaze.

He might have been practicing the campfire tale of my misfortune for hours, days, even weeks. His dramatic recounting horrified a sympathetic audience. He held my incompetence forced the canoe into the rocks. I panicked, lost my paddle, and needed rescuing.

“The great canoeing expert man,” he said. “Good thing no one else trusted lives to him. Guy can’t hold onto a paddle.”

Bill glared at me accusingly. “You almost got Jeff killed.”

A childhood defect often renders me speechless against untrue accusations.

Scott remained silent. I imagined he’d filled Sandy in as they glided back to camp, but her eyes showed doubt as Jeff told and retold his story. Who would deliberately capsize a canoe in dangerous waters?

The Cold

Lauren took my protests as churlish and unfair to Jeff. On the drive back to Minneapolis, she hovered under a blanket with him, not me, signaling the beginning of the end of a lengthy relationship.

Thereafter, she brooked no criticism of him. The more I sullenly avoided Jeff, the more Lauren cozied up to him. Except for curt, one-word replies, she stopped speaking with me.

The day came when Lauren called it quits over the phone.

Next morning, Sandy rang me. She couldn’t contain the breakup headline news update.

“We barely got her stuff moved into a condo and in waltzed Jeff with his backpack and ski poles. He sat in the easy chair and ordered the rest of us around, where to put this, where to arrange that. We can’t believe her. Can’t you stop this?”

“Not any more, Sandy. Not any more.”

The Ice

During those moments of the river ‘accident,’ I didn't have time for fear. The real impact came later, shock and internal pain… Once upon a time Lauren caused my world to revolve. Then the planet tilted, stopping dead in its tracks.

No way. I’m a tough guy, big, resilient, not gutted, not hurt, no bruised soft tissue, no seared scars, no brutalization of betrayal, nothing to see folks. No jagged spear tore out a wretched pulsing, pumping organ that couldn’t be mine. No salty water blinded my eyes, no unending oceans of agony, no treacherous waves hammered soft shoals, no dark tunnels flooded with torture and torment, no anguish, no fiery cauldron of pain, no. No problem, nothing, nothing at all, just a… just a fourteen-digit number on the Richter scale of heartbreak.

General Armstrong Custer, Jeff Summerfield look-alike
Custer, Jeff look-alike
Casting Stones

In the time I’d known him, Jeff had become an expensive acquaintance. The never-ending lending for lunch or dinner was the least of it. Around him, things broke, things disappeared, things died.

The year before, he’d mysteriously blown up the new engine in our little Triumph Spitfire. I never let him drive another car, but he persuaded Lauren to let him try out our newly purchased Dodge– an hour after midnight– while I was at work, when good little children should have been sound asleep. Claiming he hit a patch of ice, he’d slammed it into a guardrail on Interstate 494… at one in the morning.

Jeff manifested a couple of peculiarities, especially compulsive lying. Our expanded circle of friends merely wrote that off as Jeff being Jeff. But the cash bag from Lauren’s shop vanished in Jeff’s presence. And animals… critters left in his care curiously died.

The women in our larger circle noticed something else. They remarked how Jeff exhibited a penchant for dating young widows.

Lauren had nearly become one– a young widow.

Constant nightmares haunted me. With difficulty, I caught my breath and began to recover. I threw myself into my work.

That should have marked the end of the saga. It didn’t.

Sherburne County Sheriff
Castle Breached

A freezing January day found me consulting out of state. An emergency phone call rang in from Lauren, she was visiting the house. My peaceful home in the woods– a state forest– had been burglarized and badly vandalized.

Sherburne County’s Sheriff might have presided over a frozen rural fiefdom, but he was no slouch. While his fingerprint maven dusted enough powder to mount a community theatre production of Chim-Chim Cher-ee, the sheriff explained the situation over the phone.

Wood chips from the supposed point of entry were scattered inside, not outside the back door. The sheriff found no footprints in the snow, none, nor footprints anywhere around the house. The only trail was tire tracks straight into the garage. A large screwdriver left at the scene suggested a burglary tool used to break into the house, except… it had come from my toolchest… already inside the house.

“Kinda strange, doncha think?” the sheriff said.

“Very.”

“Anyone besides Lauren have access to your garage opener?”

I unloaded suspicions that had built from the moment she phoned. She’d mentioned Jeff acted particularly odd when she announced her intention of checking the house. Normally Lauren defended him tooth and nail. Now she hesitated.

The sheriff promised to call me back. He did, sooner than I expected. Deputies had picked up Jeff skulking along country roads… in January… in subzero Minnesota.

The sheriff said, “Thirty minutes after question one, our boy painted himself in a corner so tight, he confessed to crimes we never asked about. FYI, this guy hates your guts.”

I said, “Why? I gave him work, I lent him money for lunch and dinner.”

“That’s the problem. You need to pick better pals. He pretended to be a friend while he hung around your companions and targeted you. He invited himself into your group, into your shop, and into your home. He gave the women little gifts stolen from others, robbing from Petra to pay Paula.”

The sheriff continued. “This boy profiled you. He asked innocent questions, gathering personal ammunition. On your previous canoe trips, he said it was goddamn hard to get you talking about yourself, getting you to reveal the private you, but he managed.”

“Why so much effort to come after me? I never did anything against him.”

“He admits that. You gave him lifts when he didn’t have a ride. You often paid for his meals. What you considered generosity and sharing, he took as deliberately showing off and humiliating him. Jeff envied you, he hated you. You had material things he wanted: lovely woman, house, and a couple of cars. Your occupation allowed you to travel. What did you do with your advantages? Nothing, by his reckoning. You didn’t buy fancy stuff, you just kept working. It wasn’t fair, he thought. You didn’t deserve it, he did. So he set out to destroy you and take what he could.”

“Sheriff, did you ask about the canoeing accident?”

“Clearly no accident. He didn’t give us a thing to charge him, but he enjoyed mocking us. It was like he challenged us to prove anything. He fed us cocky TV dialogue and cute tidbits like, ‘An accident couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.’”

“Sheriff, I never intended him ill.”

“Son, you do not understand evil. No one believes you wronged him. He’s a total narcissist. His world has a population of one. He gets what he wants manipulating innocents. For him, screwing others is more rewarding than working. In the future, try not to be so damn trusting.”

Farmers Insurance
Castle Defence

Jeff’s game wasn’t over.

The sheriff’s office filed burglary, theft, and property damage charges. However, the state attorney wouldn’t prosecute until my insurance company weighed in, and Farmers Insurance hadn’t obliged. For months, they refused to pay for the damage and destruction.

My insurance agent resembled a red-bearded Hagrid. Two metres tall, 6½+ feet of Midwestern muscle, my rep sumo wrestled professionally in the US and Japan. He could have shaded Jesse Ventura, but he proved no match for Jeff. When he sat down with me, he looked morose.

He said, “Farmers won’t pay, they won’t subrogate, they won’t prosecute. This guy’s going to walk.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Jeff persuaded the company investigator you masterminded the burglary of your own house and snared innocent him in your scheme.”

“I’m the guy who wants to see this case go to trial. The sheriff wants to try him and so do I.”

The agent shook his massive Hagrid head.

“The adjuster’s convinced the sheriff got it wrong and you’re the bad guy.”

“How? On what evidence?”

He drummed fingers the size of hammers on his desk.

“The company investigator turned in dinner expenses for two. She said she needed to get Jeff to open up.”

“Why does she…? Oh, no, no. She wined and dined Jeff? He played her?”

“In-depth investigation, according to my secretary.”

“That’s a pun? They’re dating?”

“Who’s to say? Who investigates investigators?”

Farmers’ confidence in their private detective cost them. After I hired counsel, the underwriter realized their statutory window of time to sue Jeff had run out and they could no longer collect. The company begrudgingly paid my attorney and sent a check for replacement and repairs.

The investigator’s position caused further fallout. Because Farmers Insurance contradicted the findings of the sheriff, the prosecutor didn’t indict. His office explained the defense would simply call Jeff’s tame insurance investigator and undermine their slam-dunk case.

After mere days in jail, Jeff skated. A homicidal grifter now walked free.

Case Closed

For a year, nightmares haunted me. They didn’t stem from fear of Jeff, but fear of my inner rage. In my violent dreams, he died a hundred imaginative deaths. That wasn’t me, not the person I wanted to be. During waking hours, I clamped down my anger, but when freed to roam dreamscapes, my nightmares would have terrified him; they certainly horrified me.

For my own well-being, I needed to escape. I stravaiged around Europe, working, consulting, trouble-shooting. A couple of times, word drifted over from the States.

Lauren entered the hospital for a couple of weeks. Her parents confided that absent a meal ticket, Jeff promptly moved in with a younger girl, and then another, always another.

Last I heard, he married a wealthy widow. No word if Jeff was involved in her premature widowhood.

Leigh Lundin
Final Word

It’s taken years to write this, mostly because of my difficulty talking about myself. My words sound all wrong, I can’t properly document my emotions. Please, my apologies.

Ultimately to a writer, everything is fuel or fodder. I experimented, crafting nightmares into a story, which I might yet finish. In my version, the bad guy finally gets his comeuppance. Perhaps that dark chapter inside me could yet open to the light of day.



Years later, another man– this one a pillar of his church and the Orlando community– would tell me those same words, “You don’t understand evil.” Thirty days later, he and his wife would die violently.

17 May 2020

The Murder of Me, part 1


Leigh Lundin
Once upon a time, I became a murder target. This is the story.

Intent

Scott volunteered his garage for staging the trip: three canoes, three tents, sleeping bags, air mattresses, backpacks, and supplies. Sandy had purchased a chuckwagon of victuals to feed six for a three-day weekend.

Five of us had met a couple of years earlier as part of a larger wildlife and zoological collection of friends. We often lunched or dined together.

Scott, a serial obsessor, was currently learning film-making and canoeing. His self-professed ‘political lesbian’ girlfriend Sandy invited Bill, her grip, gaffer, and gofer to join us. They asked my inamorata Lauren and me to participate in their fledgling film-making. Their high-energy projects were social and entertaining once we learned to tune out Scott and Sandy’s bickering. Sandy and Scott argued about nothing– all the time.

General Armstrong Custer, Jeff Summerfield look-alike
Armstrong Custer
Jeff slipped into the group late, at 23, the youngest among us. Women admired his flowing blond hair and beard, a General Custer look-alike in three-quarter scale. He always wore white, even after Labor Day. Due to an East Coast work commitment, I didn’t meet him right away. When he discovered I enjoyed canoeing, he suggested the two of us canoe the upper Mississippi.  We made it a sixty mile run from Monticello to south of the Twin Cities.

When news of the jaunt reached Scott, he suggested Jeff and I guide our group on a camping-canoe trek in the northern part of the state. Major consultations ensued, debating whether to venture onto the Cloquet River, the St. Louis, or the St. Croix.

“They’re too bourgeois,” said Jeff. At times, his lip curled like Draco Malfoy.

Sandy perked up. Marxist memes got her blood pumping. Her capitalist man Scott rolled his eyes.

I was curious. “Too bourgeois?”

“Especially the St. Croix, touristy, everyone does it, even Cub Scouts. Let’s run the Vermilion, I know those rivers super well.”

Super well won out over ordinary well. Lauren checked the weather. I gathered maps and charts. Sandy and Scott bought enough food to feed a village through a long winter. Jeff borrowed three canoes. Bill provided an oversized SUV with a roof rack.

According to a hidden agenda, one of us wouldn’t return– ever.

Me.

Frank Lloyd Wright Service Station, Cloquet, Minnesota
Frank Lloyd Wright Service Station
The First Strike

Scott recommended a historical stop, the Frank Lloyd Wright Service Station, Cloquet, Minnesota. Up close, it resembled a diminutive airport control tower, well worth visiting. Jeff said he’d keep an eye on the car while the rest of us took advantage of the restrooms.

As we walked back, a gold glint flashed in the sunlight. My brass lensatic compass lay crushed on the pavement. It was quite old and I was fond of its craftsmanship. Now it lay broken on the tarmac next to our tire.

“It must have fallen out of your pocket,” said Bill, “and someone drove over it.”

Confused, I said, “It was in my pack, not my pocket. How could a vehicle maneuver this close?”

“Sorry, Leigh,” said Scott. “Let’s have the maps.”

“They’re on top of…”

The canvas map case had been stacked on top of our gear within easy reach. Where the hell was it? We dragged out packs and bedrolls without finding it.

Jeff said, “Christ. You were responsible for one thing, and you left it at home.”

“No. No, I didn’t.” I frowned, thinking back. “I bundled it with my radio…”

“Your what? The great outdoorsman brings a radio on a camping trip?”

“Shouldn’t you? Weather band, AM direction finder?”

“Jesus. Leigh can’t get enough dance music, but he forgets maps and charts.”

The others tittered. I gritted my teeth.

“I’ll get us there.”

“Sure you will.”

Matters had only begun to go awry.

Strike Two, Three, Four…

After an hour of old-growth, deciduous forest, we entered Kabetogama where we found an ideal campsite on the lake shore. Sandy, Lauren, and Bill built a fire for dinner. Scott and I trenched a latrine and erected tents.

I unrolled our down bags and… What the hell? Mine was soaking wet. Unzipping it revealed my canteen missing its cap.

Sandy laughed. “Leigh, you shouldn’t roll your canteen in your sleeping bag.”

“I never do.”

“Clearly you did. Guess who’s sleeping in the wet spot?”

I spread it near the fire and returned to inflate the air mattresses. Mine had been slashed open.

“With a knife,” I said. I stared at Jeff. “Why are you screwing with me?”

“Me!” He chuckled. “You’re paranoid, man. Some people can’t take the wilderness.”

Bill’s forehead wrinkled. “Why are you picking on Jeff?”

Scott said, “Stay cool, Leigh. There’s probably a simple explanation.”

“Like being gas-lighted? Lost maps, broken compass, uncapped canteen, sopping sleeping bag, and a slashed air mattress?”

“You’re acting really weird,” said Lauren. She moved away from the fire and merged into the shadows, soon giggling with Jeff.

Scott sat beside me. “What’s the deal with Jeff?”

“At the gas station, he chose to stay with the car. That compass was no accident. He had plenty of time. I just don’t understand why.”

When Lauren finally parted the tent flaps, she unzipped her bag from mine and turned away. Scott and Sandy fared better. Their daytime sniping softened into a shut-up-and-fuck-me aphrodisiac in the still of the forest night.

canoe parts
Daybreak

The lonely wail of mournful loons awoke us. Practical joker Jeff kicked loose the pegs, collapsing my dew-soaked tent over me. Lots of yucks. Jeff acted oddly testy as I cheerfully washed up. Although I started the morning cold and wet, we’d soon be on the water, which I loved.

After breakfast, I gave a twenty minute summary of my superb canoe training:
The strokes: forward cross, the back stroke, and the J-stroke. A bowman powers, the stern steers. Life vests, always. In rough churn, down on your knees. Don’t get stupid. Don’t get killed.
“Fuck man, they get it,” said Jeff. “Let’s hit the trail. They’ll learn on the way.”
canoe Scott and Sandy

Sandy and Scott’s trademarked squabbles affected their steering. They spiraled downstream, paddling in circles, entertaining the wildlife. Otherwise, the first couple of hours went smoothly.

Midmorning, the current quickened. We approached a canyon walled by sheer cliffs. The gorge plunged downward and narrowed until it forced the river into an abrupt 90º L. We glided to the left bank so Jeff and I could study it.

gorge map
Midstream, boulders spaced over a hundred yards peeked above the thrashing water line, canoe-killers centered in the rushing turbulence.

A few feet past the rocks, channeled by vertical palisades, the river thundered headlong until it swept into a whirlpool at the heel of the ell. From there, the swirling maelstrom emptied down stair-step rapids. Beautiful and challenging, it demanded respect.

Although Jeff and I gauged it navigable with competent handling, we couldn’t be certain until we’d run it once. If we succeeded, he and I would thread each canoe one-by-one through the gorge.

If we found it too perilous, the gang had located a downstream portage trail through the woods. Steep, rough, and given the limited strength of half our party, portaging appeared much less attractive than canoeing the whirlpool and rapids.

Cast Off

I handed my wallet and keys to Lauren. Until that point, I’d worn my life vest loosely. Now I cinched it tight.

Jeff laughed. “What, Leigh? You scared? Are you a pussy?”

“Prudent. It’s called prudent.”

Since he’d collapsed the wet tent over me, Jeff had grown more and more belligerent. As the only other member with experience, he should have known better.

I selected the sleeker of the three canoes. I started to step into the stern when Jeff stopped me.

He said, “I’m going to steer. I want the back.”

“Not a good idea, Jeff. No offence, but you’re what, one-forty? I outweigh you forty, fifty pounds. We need the bow light and the weight aft. Going in prow-low adds needless risk. There’s no 911. People can die out here.”

Jeff’s lip curled. “Back up, man. We got only your word you’re experienced. I’m responsible for the boats, not you. I drive or it’s your fucking fault this trip’s over.” 

The women rolled their eyes. Sandy said, “Christ. It’s just a stupid canoe. Who cares who sits in first class?”

Lauren glared at me. “You’re ruining our trip.”

Damn. Jeff had expertly manipulated the situation and I was losing. He said, “You, the great white canoe instructor, just a control-freak.”

“Yeah.” Sandy just couldn’t keep quiet. “Canoeing is a lot easier than you let on.”

Bill said, “Give Jeff a chance to show what he can do.”

I protested but…

Five people glared at me, thinking me unreasonable. Reluctantly, I acceded. I’d lost their confidence, but with care, I could still guide the canoes through the turbulent gorge.

canoe bow bulkhead and seat
bow bulkhead and seat
Cast the First Stone

An unexpected problem arose, kneeling in the bow to lower the center of gravity. The pointed ends of our canoes housed a secret compartment, a little wedge of flotation foam hidden behind a bulkhead, right where my knees needed to be. The bow was not made for people well over six feet tall. Jamming in my long legs locked my ankles under the seat.

We’d planned to return a hundred yards upstream and line up the canoe for the run. Now in charge, Jeff bounded directly into the ravine. The low-lying boulders dominating the center of the river loomed ahead.

“Rocks,” I yelled. I plunged the paddle deep, using it like a rudder to edge the prow aside.

Inexplicably, the canoe swung back, aimed toward submerged stone giants that’d resisted the river long before early man walked its shores. I seized advantage of the momentum to force the canoe toward the other side.

“Sheer off!” I shouted over my shoulder. “Veer off, man! Veer!”

The response defied comprehension. The nose swung back toward the rocks. Disaster raced toward us.

“Jeff…!”

We hit the first boulder. To my astonishment, the force of the rushing current swept us up and over it. Eons of gushing water had polished the granite smooth. It thumped our ass, but the little canoe survived.

For the moment.

I couldn’t fathom the actions behind me. As the second set of buried boulders sped toward us, I thrust to offset the trajectory– to no avail. Speeding toward us…

Instead of the boulder tearing out the canoe’s bottom, the river yet again launched us to safety over the hazard. We didn’t deserve it, but the rushing turbulence repeated its magic trick a third time.

The little craft and I breathed a moment’s respite until hitting the whirlpool. Before I could process events…

Rummmph! The canoe rolled violently to the left.

Instinctively, I rocked the other way. The battered hull righted.

Rummmph! It rolled to the right. No rocks. We hadn’t struck anything.

I twisted around. “Jeff! What the hell’s going on?”

The words barely left my lips before I felt it rock left again.

We’re going over, I realized. Oh, no. The bulkhead held my knees trapped, locking my ankles and hiking boots under the seat.

Tossing away my paddle, I tucked and carried through the roll, not fighting the canoe as it capsized. Upside down in foaming, freezing Canadian runoff, at risk of slamming face-first into a boulder rising from the depths, my life hung on a thread.

Minnesota Narrows Gorge
Minnesota Narrows Gorge

Next time…



Don’t know, never asked.[1][2][3]

03 May 2020

20 to Go


The Rule of Four (novel)
Experts suggest the COVID-19 coronavirus took root in the US sooner than believed, possibly as early as January. Personally, I believe it infected state and federal executive branches much, much earlier.

I’ve been astonished to learn of deep-seated efforts to fire Dr Anthony Fauci. Thus explaineth the lovely Haboob:
Far left and right conspiracy theorists reach remarkably similar conclusions. Both insist Dr Fauci masterminded a Clinton Foundation-funded Deep State effort to develop a virus fabricated in a Wuhan lab. Their profit motive was to make lots of money selling the world a co-developed vaccine, but the virus got away from the Chinese. Parting from the left’s hypothesis, the ultra-right maintains that the greatest intellect the White House has ever known leapt into action, averting an Obama-driven disaster in which tens of victims might have perished were it not for this great man who saved the planet. Or something like that.
We don’t do politics or low crimes and misdemeanors, just death and destruction. It takes great writing to top the tales coming out of national and state capitals. Gathered here are twenty exquisite murder mysteries, some new, some classics, some unusual, many recommended by others (thanks Sharon), most lengthy for that immersive read.

As viruses simmer in the summer cauldron, enjoy reading in a cool arbor bower.

The Cartel Don Winslow
Cult X Fuminori Nakamura
The Eighth Girl Maxine Mei-Fung Chung
The Historian Elizabeth Kostova
The Honourable Schoolboy John le Carré
L.A. Confidential James Ellroy
The Last Tourist Olen Steinhauer
The Luminaries Eleanor Catton
The Man Who Loved Dogs Leonardo Paduro
The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco
Natchez Burning Greg Isles
The Rule of Four Caldwell & Thomason
The Secret History Donna Tartt
Shantaram Gregory David Roberts
Six Four Hideo Yokoyama
Three Hours in Paris Cara Black
What’s Left of Me is Yours Stephanie Scott
The Witch Elm Tana French
2666 Roberto Bolaño
and the novel that started it all…
A Study in Scarlet Arthur Conan Doyle

What are your favorites?

19 April 2020

Florida by the Numbers


Florida postcard
Thursday, a hundred rankled Orange County protestors and children converged on Orlando City Hall to demand an end to government stay-home oppression. They cried out against the horrors of forced unlabor. They sought to be loosed from the bonds of dictatorial rule and set free. And Mike Huckabee clamored in Florida courts to be unshackled from the Orwellian tyranny that required him to follow laws like ordinary, common citizens. He needed to be liberated from onerous beach-front activity restraints because… something.

When Michigan activists protested in drive-in Operation Gridlock, police noted that in their cars, citizens were inadvertently practicing safe, social distancing. Not so in Orlando, where unmasked citrus cankers breathed and sneezed and coughed at will. The numbers can’t be real: 2⅓-million cases globally, 33 383 in Canada, ¾-million in the US, 25½-thousand in Florida, 3000+ in Central Florida– apparently fake news, including 78 local deaths.

The last time I agreed with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was, um, pretty much never, but damn, folks. We’re trying to save lives.

Central Floridians took matters a step further into the Twilight Zone. They contend Dr. Anthony Fauci is a lying, malevolent hoaxer who inexplicably holds the President’s ear, deliberately wreaking havoc at the Federal level. Fauci’s motives are, um, deep state, Obamacare-coddling, and a really nasty infection that afflicted Florida’s governor. Whatever, it demanded protesting.

By the Numbers

Politicians may choose to ignore the science, but it’s difficult to ignore the math. Updating as you read this, the count of cases and deaths are spooky.

Say, each coronavirus victim infects two other people, and those two each infect two others, etc. It doubles exponentially. (The reality is closer to 2½×, but 2× is scary enough and much easier to calculate.)

In an ancient tale from Persia (or India), a king agreed to pay the inventor of chess in rice, one grain on the 1st square of the chessboard, double that (two) on the 2nd square, double again (four) on the 3rd square, and so on for all sixty-four squares. Beginning with Square Zero (think Patient Zero) each square would contain:


results in…    
results in…    
results in…
0
1     22
4 194 304     44
17 592 186 044 416
1
2     23
8 388 608     45
35 184 372 088 832
2
4     24
16 777 216     46
70 368 744 177 664
3
8     25
33 554 432     47
140 737 488 355 328
4
16     26
67 108 864     48
281 474 976 710 656
5
32     27
134 217 728     49
562 949 953 421 312
6
64     28
268 435 456     50
1 125 899 906 842 624
7
128     29
536 870 912     51
2 251 799 813 685 248
8
256     30
1 073 741 824     52
4 503 599 627 370 496
9
512     31
2 147 483 648     53
9 007 199 254 740 992
10
1 024     32
4 294 967 296     54
18 014 398 509 481 984
11
2 048     33
8 589 934 592     55
36 028 797 018 963 968
12
4 096     34
17 179 869 184     56
72 057 594 037 927 936
13
8 192     35
34 359 738 368     57
144 115 188 075 855 872
14
16 384     36
68 719 476 736     58
288 230 376 151 711 744
15
32 768     37
137 438 953 472     59
576 460 752 303 423 488
16
65 536     38
274 877 906 944     60
1 152 921 504 606 846 976
17
131 072     39
549 755 813 888     61
2 305 843 009 213 693 952
18
262 144     40
1 099 511 627 776     62
4 611 686 018 427 387 904
19
524 288     41
2 199 023 255 552     63
9 223 372 036 854 775 808
20
1 048 576     42
4 398 046 511 104    

total:
21
2 097 152     43
8 796 093 022 208    
18 446 744 073 709 551 615

The total, my children, if your eyes haven’t glazed over, is 264-1, or 18 446 744 073 709 551 615, eighteen quintillion. Legends disagree whether the king made the maths wiz an economic advisor or executed the smartass.

The numbers, which start out relatively flat, soon zoom out of control. Relating to coronavirus, say the 10th generation victims infect a thousand more and the 12th another four thousand. The 20th level infects one million and the 30th one trillion. This is why it’s critical to disrupt the spread by masks, isolation, thorough cleansing, and sterilizing public places like Washington. But you knew that, right?

Please take care.

The Left Behind

Many are all atwitter about stimulus checks and several states have moved to protect landlords and tenants. In the rush to pass legislation, Congress and legislatures overlooked some citizens, including many college students and working teens. But here an Florida, another group in dire need has been forgotten. Sean Baker even made a movie about them starring Willem Dafoe.

Stay safe and read on…

05 April 2020

Customer Support Gig


HDD - hard disc drive
HDD

SSD - solid state drive
SSD
The Fates are having fun with me. I had to replace a computer and a central air conditioner in the same week.

My keyboard had been acting up– two dead keys, then a third. Apple has announced a new 14" MacBook Pro and days ago they brought out a gorgeous new MacBook Air with enticing specs. To tide me over until the we get to compare the new Pro, I ordered a refurbished computer from Amazon.

There must be some Jewish saying to the effect nothing is ever simple. Amazon shipped the wrong one, and I’ve been having polite chats with their India call center, who can’t understand what the problem is. I asked or a supervisor. The conversation went, starting with me…
“… and it arrived with a 500gig hard disc drive instead of a 512gig solid state drive.”
“So sir, you’re missing 12 giggy… gig things?”
“Gigs, gigabytes, but that’s not the major problem. It came with a HDD, not a SSD.”
“So if we send you 12 gigs, you’re okay?”
“Noooo. You’d have to send 512 packed in… a solid… state… drive.”
“But then you’d have more than a thousand gigs.”
“Therefore I need to return the computer.”
“Just for 12 gigs? Sir, I understand you are not happy and I apologize. I can offer you $15 in credit.”
Ah, writers got to love Mumbai Customer Support.

Next Time… Cooling my Heels in a Heat Wave

22 March 2020

Flash Fiction


I owe John Floyd for the impetus of today’s column, further examples of flash fiction.

Here is a bit of silliness first published in SleuthSayers…

WhiteWash
by Leigh Lundin

Bubbles was a slippery one. She tried to soft-soap me, but I strangled her in the bathtub, no trace, no prints, no evidence.

Me, I hate wet work, but the cops, they said it was a clean kill.

Clearly I had much to learn. This early tale is one of my two favorites…

A Night Out
by Leigh Lundin

"Darling, doesn't this hankie smell like chlorof…"

One of my first, an educational mini-lesson, appeared long ago on Criminal Brief.

The Power of Prepositions
by Leigh Lundin

Aladdin was getting along in years and found that he was unable to pitch a tent as he had done in his youth. Smart as well as lucky, Aladdin still had his magic lamp and, frugal with his wishes, he had one wish left.
He rubbed his lamp and the génie appeared. Aladdin begged him, “My camel can no longer thread the needle. Can you cure my erectile impotence?”
Genie said, “I can whisk away your problem.” With that, he rubbed his hands, evoking a puff of billowing blue smoke. Genie said, “I’ve dealt you a powerful spell, but at your age, you’ll be able to invoke it only once a year.”
“How do I use it?” asked Aladdin.
“All you have to do is say ‘one, two, three,’ and it shall rise for as long as you wish, but only once a year.”
Aladdin asked, “What happens when I’m exhausted and I no longer want to continue?”
Genie replied, “All you or your lady have to say is ‘one, two, three, four,’ and it will fade like a Sahara sunset. But be warned: the spell will not work again for another year.”
Aladdin galloped home, eager to try out his new powers of the flesh. That evening, Aladdin bathed away the dust of the desert and scented himself with oil of exotic myrrh. He climbed into bed where his resigned wife lay turned away, about to slip into Scheherazadic dreams.
Aladdin took a deep breath and said, “One, two, three.” Instantly, he became more aroused than he ever had in youth, a magnificent happenstance of tree-trunk proportions.
His wife, hearing Aladdin’s words, rolled back toward him and said, “What did you say ‘one, two, three,’ for?”
And that, dear readers, is why you should not end a sentence with a preposition.

A story inspired by a friend's comment…

Justin Goes to Jail
by Leigh Lundin

Police arrest Justin Bieber and send him to lockup. Dismayed but not disheartened, Bieber writes “Free JB!” on the walls in protest.

That’s when he learns his cellmate is dyslexic.

Following is my other favorite, but the story behind the story is wistful and runs far longer than the super-short piece itself.

My Pal George
by Leigh Lundin

I'm excited! For the first time ever, I'm taking my friend George shark fishing. Some might not understand how I could be so forgiving finding out about him and Joan, but he's my best pal, my chum.

Which did you like?