Occupant Vs Resident

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“Hey, Cookie Jar, git yurself back here.”
I sigh and turn around. The pavement is cracked and dusty and the temperature has soared into the upper reaches of heat stroke. I’m two steps past a bad attitude.
Several houses back, a middle-aged man waves a letter in the air. I set the mail pouch on the ground and crack open a bottle of water. Tired of retracing my steps, I wait.
After a moment, he gives up and lumbers over. “Mr. Post Office General, Sir.”
I’m wearing a skirt, culottes to be precise, but whatever.
“Listen here little girl.” His lower lip curls around a pinch of snuff. “You got to stop bringing me the wrong mail. These people don’t live at my house.”
Recognizing the letter clutched in his fist, I fight to clear my throat. “Um, Resident?”
“Yep, that’s right.” He thrusts the letter under my nose. “And don’t be bringing any more for that other fella, occu, occu . . .”
“Occupant?”
“Yeah, now you just do your job and don’t be sassin the people who pay your salary.”
“Yes sir.” I pluck the letter from his fingers. “I’ll do my best.”

 

Squelch it Bubba

11. E.G.H. Jr on dutyduring Korean War

It’s dark, it’s winter in Kodiak and I’ve just changed my tire, when a burly figure emerges from the gloom. “The watch captain said to ride with you.”
He notices the tire iron in my hand. “I’ll just check the lug nuts before we go.”
Joy, I get the newbie. He’s 6’2″ of roly-poly interference. I toss the iron in the back of the truck. “Get in.”
“I’ve never worked with a woman. Can I drive?”
Oh, hell no. I stare at him until he settles onto the passenger’s seat. I climb into the cab, buckle up and engage the gears. Bubba leans over and flips on the emergency lights.
“Really?” I swing my head in his direction and widen my eyes. “Would you like to run the siren?”
He reaches for the controls and I bat his hand. Satisfied he’ll sit with his hands in his lap, I ease onto the road and head for the harbor.
Bubba is quiet for 2.4 seconds when static crackles over the radio and he jumps. “Jesus, what’s that?”
“Static,” I mumble, “adjust the squelch.”
“Squelch? Where do I find squelch?”
Guess he can’t see the little knob on the radio. “Have you looked in the glove box?”
I bite my tongue as he rummages behind the vehicle registration and emergency flares. Maybe tonight isn’t a waste after all. I take a right and veer toward the air station.
“Not here,” he says, “now what?”
“Well.” I park in front of the hanger. “Pilots usually keep an emergency stash. Why don’t you run in and get a tube?”
“Okay.” He jumps from the cab and heads inside. In minutes, he’s back and flapping his arms. “They had no idea what I was talking about.”
I laugh, which means the gig is up, but to my surprise he joins in. “I know, right, how stupid can they be?”
Oh God, my insides quiver. How did this kid get through boot camp? I wipe my face, and when he’s fastened his seatbelt, I head for the docks.
The radio erupts in static and Bubba turns down the volume. “This is just wrong. What if there’s an emergency, what if there’s a fire, what if . . .”
“Relax,” I tell him, “there are three ships in port and one of them will have a spare tube of squelch. I park in front of the USCGC Storis. Bubba leaps from the truck and strides up the gangway. When he disappears below decks the watchman trots down to meet me.
“Hey Boats,” he says, when I lower the window, “what’s up with Doofus?”
I fill him in and when he stops laughing his eyes shine. “Want me to call the Morgenthau and the Citrus and give them a heads up.”
I grin. “Excellent idea.”
The remainder of the shift flashes past as we toy with Bubba. When I get back to my quarters I have a stitch in my side. Tomorrow I’ll tell him the truth.
The next morning, I sign in and reach for the keys as Bubba’s voice drifts from the squad room. “This isn’t a job for girls, why can’t I ride with someone else?”
Smoke furls about my ears. Brimstone fills my nostrils. I march out to the truck and call in a favor. This time I’m not messing around.
All too soon Bubba opens the passenger door and climbs inside. “So,” he says, “I talked to a radioman and there’s no such thing as a tube of squelch.”
My left eye twitches. “Radiomen.” I improvise. “Do not need tubes of squelch, they repair radios. We are an emergency response team. We do not have time to play around.”
Wide eyes lock with mine. “Understood?”
He swallows. “Understood.”
“Good.” I park at the infirmary. “Chief had a physical today and he left a tube of squelch at the front desk.”
Bubba heads inside. When he returns he shakes his head. “This won’t work.” He brandishes the tube. “This is just the base.”
What he holds, is hand cream with a bogus label. “Don’t worry,” I tell him, “we have lots of time to find a jar of active ingredient.”
 

Apples & Oranges

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Deep predawn colors of ink and cobalt are streaked with yellow and magenta as I work my way down the narrow aisle of a Boeing 737 as it levels off at 28,000 feet.

“Something to drink?” I set the break on the beverage cart and flip plastic glasses to the edge.

Nose buried in the Sunday Times, 9C eschews eye contact, and mumbles, “apple.”

The women in his row smile and chat as they make their choices. I nod, open the orange juice carton, and start to pour. Early morning flights are easy, sleepy affairs.

“Apple,” roars 9c, snapping his paper and breaking the silence, “apple, apple, apple.”

My chin whips around and I goggle at 9c. His face is blotched with angry streaks of red. His paper crinkles in clenched fists. He’s kidding, right? I snap my mouth shut and look at the women. They stare back with wide troubled eyes. I shrug and offer a smile.

9c levitates in his seat. “A.P.P.L.E.”

Heads are snapping all over the cabin and I can’t help it, I prop a hand on my hip and give him a bland look. “Yes,” I say, “you can spell, but the ladies are still having orange.”

Winter Warriors

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There is a breath of snow. The air is true.
As skiers hike the slopes of Mt. Tallac,
arrayed in peacock hues of green and blue,
to stand upon the vaulted mountain back.

Surveying slopes of pristine snow, and rock
crevasses, shining white, to bid adieu
to summertimes bounty, pine and bracken.
There is a breath of snow. The air is true.

Beneath deep azure skies they line in queues,
to wade through frozen drifts of snow, and pack
their gear across thick fields of ice, or slush,
as skiers hike the slopes of Mt. Tallac.

Aware of shifting winds, or sudden crack.
The raging avalanche debris, or flume,
announcing mother nature’s swift attack.
Arrayed in peacock hues of green and blue,

the fearless young advance the line, and plumb
their sights upon the challenge of the track,
as swift they climb with nimble grace, and crew,
to stand upon the vaulted mountain back.

Triumphant in their feat, no easy trick
to best Tallac, and then, to spiral through
thick drifts of pristine powder white, and back,
traversing frozen meadows far below.
There is a breath of snow.

Twisted Intentions

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“Oooh,” moans Brat, clutching her chest and doubling over. “Oooh, oooh, oooh.”

Brows raised, Beamer and I look at each other and then turn to stare at Brat. We’re in the middle of the baby supply aisle when our little sister goes into a full body spasm.

Brat rubs a hand across the front of her shirt and contorts her face. “That has to hurt.”

Beamer stutters a laugh. “What has to hurt?”

“That.” Brat points at the shelves.

Beamer studies the display. “The nipple brush?”

“Oooh.” Brat nods. “Oooh, oooh, oooh.”

I snort as Beamer says. “You don’t use the brush on your nipples, you use it to clean baby bottles.”

“Oh,” says Brat, as she saunters down the aisle, “never mind.”

Toga Party

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I eye the cocktail costume and shake my head. “Not my size.”

I know the women in wardrobe and I’ve baked them cookies in exchange for the longest skirt possible. “Can’t you let the hem out?” I ask.

“Oh stop.” Angela snatches the plate of goodies and points toward the dressing room. “You’ll look like all the other goddesses and you’re lucky, the Vegas girls have to wear Cleopatra ponytails.”

“I’ll look like a moron.” I snick the door shut behind me, take a took a closer look at the outfit, open the door and stick my head out. “Where’s the rest?”

“That’s it.” Angela plucks a second cookie from the plate.

With a baleful glance at the door, I shuck off my shirt and jeans and toss them on the chair. Rob is right, I’ll make more money on the casino floor than I will pushing papers in the food and beverage office. A lot more. I grab the gold trimmed toga, slide down the zipper and eye the industrial strength corset and cups.

Who’s kidding now.

I tug the outfit on and try the zipper, but there’s a four-inch gap across my back. Hah, I knew it wouldn’t fit. “I need a bigger size.”

Angela opens the door and I jump. “Turn.” She barks through a mouthful of pins.

When I comply, she grasps the sides of the dress and yanks them together. “Zip.”

Blowing out a breath, I follow instructions and my waist shrink three sizes. I inhale and my breasts pop high above the neckline.

My cheeks heat. “But?”

“But nothing.” She laughs. “Not so worried about the hem length, now are you?”

I shake my head.

She hands over an oval cocktail tray and shoves me toward the hallway.

The Tahoe property is small, and long before I’m ready, I push onto the casino floor, wobble past a bevy of towering Amazon Barbies and hide between the slot machines.

I give myself a pep talk.

Everyone I know at Caesars wears a uniform. Why am I embarrassed?

It’s not like I’ll ever see my folks in the casino, so I step into the flow of traffic and blanch.

“There you are.” Rob grins, but he’s not alone. “Mom, Dad, this is Kelly.”

I register silver hair, impeccable dress, smiling faces.

Oh, holy crap, dressed like Jezebel and face to face with June and Ward Cleaver. The tray trembles in my hands and I suffer a full body spasm. I’ll kill him. The minute Rob’s parents are out of sight I will kill him.

Oblivious, he rattles on, but eyes twinkling, Betsy clasps my hand in hers and smiles.

Pig Boy

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Elvis could’ve been a dealer.

He had the look.

He had the lip.

He had the leer.

As far as I know, Elvis never wore polyester in Pepto-Bismol pink. Not with puffy sleeves and wide collars. Not like the dealers of Circus Circus.

Not like me.

Arms crossed, hip cocked against the blackjack table, I stare into space and will the players to keep on walking. They never do.

Squeezed into a tiny tube top and teetering on stilettos, a woman peers at me. “How are the cards tonight?”

“Can’t seem to lose.” I shrug as she thanks me and moves on.

Poker Pete slides onto the stool at first base and blows smoke in my face. “Don’t worry,” he says, voice thick with gravel, “I’ll teach you a lesson.”

I deal a hand. He blows another plume of smoke. I hold my breath and smirk. I know this type of player. He thinks if he can make me angry, I’ll lose.

There’s just one problem. I like to win. Winning makes me happy and I like to be happy.

I sweep his last chip into the tray.

“You’re a bitch.” He hands over another hundred-dollar bill.

“The way you’re playing,” I say, “you’d better make that two.”

He snorts and peels a second note from his money clip. I toss him a handful of red chips, then one by one, take them back. When the relief dealer pushes in, I clap my hands and expose empty palms to the security cameras.

“You always like this?” asks Pete, as I step down from the box.

“Pretty much,” I tell him, “I’ll be back in twenty minutes and you can teach me a lesson then.”

He chokes down a laugh and I grin.

Back from break, I push in on another game. The table is packed. The drinks are flowing and the players are playing the big bucks. Not sure I’m in the mood for a rowdy crowd, I sweep a fresh deck across the felt and smile.

“Kelly” they shout in unison when they see my name tag. I heave a sigh. Thank you Cheers. Thank you, Woody. Before I can deal the first hand the players drum their fingers on the edge of the table and sing in monotonous C. “Kelly, Kelly, Kelly . . .”

Oh Lord, my head pounds, my luck holds and within minutes the rowdies have stopped chanting my name and are packing in their chips. The casino floor is quiet. Maybe I’ll get to go home early.

I cross my arms against my chest and cock my hip against the table. Before I can fantasize about what I’d do with a million dollars, if I ever played Mega Bucks, a snot-nosed college kid heads my way.

Well crap.

I narrow my eyes and curl my lip. Though Elvis would have been proud, Mr. Twenty-One-Years-And-Two-Days-Old doesn’t notice. He places one red chip on the table. I’ll bet it’s his last chip. All need to do is win one last bet and I can get rid of him.

I can go home.

I can have a glass of Merlot.

“No more bets.” I sweep my hand over the table and deal the cards.

He has sixteen. I’m showing a ten. Okay Pig Boy you’re going down.

He motions for a card. I deal a two.

Without looking at me he crooks his finger.

“Did you want another card?” I ask. “You have eighteen.”

He doesn’t answer, When he signals for another card, I smirk. I should’ve known better. Murphy is in the house and I’ve waved the red flag. I lay down a three and grit my teeth.

“Blackjack.” He leaps to his feet.

Oh, for the love of . . . “No Sweetie.” I shake my head. “You have twenty-one, not blackjack.”

“That’s a winning hand”” says Poker Pete, sliding back onto first and launching a smoke ring. “I’m ready to teach you a lesson.”

Well crap. I need an aspirin.