Flash Fiction by David Nelson Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith

wpid-IMAG0287.jpgSometimes you really, must, take a leap of faith. I had always known that. You take a lot of them really. Really really really. When you choose your wife or husband, when you pick out a house, when you have two daughters and a cat . . . when you pick your church, when you pick your church because of the pastor who is a track star from some forgotten Olympics who owns three GNC stores and plays guitar during hymns and choir, you take a leap of faith.

So this is the real wife, Denise who lately started weight lifting to lose weight, and this the real house on Smart Street in the City of Encinitas, our kitten is the real Mrs. Catsandra Clare author of the Night Hunters series, book one, Bowl of Bones, book two, Bowl of Dust Bunnies and she’s working on Bowl of Lost Bones. And this track runner and body builder with the black hair and the four-door Porsche and the family support payments the size of my salary is the real pastor of the real church.Forgive me, I accept you and voila; forgiven. I could tear my hair out.

Forgive me, I accept you and voila; forgiven. I could tear my hair out.It also didn’t make any sense that Denise’s church calling as congregation secretary required her to work so late counting tithing and seeing after the billing to the utilities and arranging food deliveries to the poor. Seemed that most of the money that came in went to his ex and almost no one else and yet his Porsche note was never late and his suits were tailored from the floor up instead of pulled down from the rack like mine. You see I’d stayed late with her once or twice which she had found more than irritating to the point of starting a fight about it.

It also didn’t make any sense that Denise’s church calling as congregation secretary required her to work so late counting tithing and seeing after the billing to the utilities and arranging food deliveries to the poor. Seemed that most of the money that came in went to his ex and almost no one else and yet his Porsche note was never late and his suits were tailored from the floor up instead of pulled down from the rack like mine. You see I’d stayed late with her once or twice which she had found more than irritating to the point of starting a fight about it.I grew more and more depressed over time. How long could I wait this out? I suggested moving and in a round about way had convinced Janie and Jilly’s pediatrician that they needed a dryer climate away from the beach so much that he even said it to Denise one day without any prodding. She picked a different pediatrician instead. Goodbye, Doctor Early and hello Doctor Shumway.

I grew more and more depressed over time. How long could I wait this out? I suggested moving and in a round about way had convinced Janie and Jilly’s pediatrician that they needed a dryer climate away from the beach so much that he even said it to Denise one day without any prodding. She picked a different pediatrician instead. Goodbye, Doctor Early and hello Doctor Shumway.Then one day when I was at what my ex-brother in law would have called rock-bottom, which is why he’s the ex-brother in law, I had already decided to take that huge leap and move on. Without the kids and the cat, just me off on my own in a new country, where I’d never been before. I was going to leave her to her Rich, her track star pastor, chiseler of all things taxes. I saw that surprise moment of direction which takes you from the failure you are to success you always dreamed you could be. Rich the rock-star Pastor Rich slipped on a stair going up to the altar during one of his Thursday practice sermons. Denise had been going to every one of them as part of her secretarial duties, and today, I’d called in sick to the firm, so I could come with her. Sick at heart, so sick I’d even given notice that they’d need a new associate starting tomorrow. I’d just wanted to be with her one last time before going off without telling her.

Then one day when I was at what my ex-brother in law would have called rock-bottom, which is why he’s the ex-brother in law, I had already decided to take that huge leap and move on. Without the kids and the cat, just me off on my own in a new country, where I’d never been before. I was going to leave her to her Rich, her track star pastor, chiseler of all things taxes. I saw that surprise moment of direction which takes you from the failure you are to success you always dreamed you could be. Rich the rock-star Pastor, Rich the guitar playing crooner for Christians slipped on a stair going up to the altar during one of his Thursday practice sermons. Denise had been going to every one of them as part of her secretarial duties, and today, I’d called in sick to the firm, so I could come with her. Sick at heart, so sick I’d even given notice that they’d need a new associate starting tomorrow. I’d just wanted to be with her one last time before going off without telling her.

No one else was there, no one else had come to the practice session. I didn’t miss the little look they exchanged when he saw me come in behind her. I must have paled because he said, “you’re looking a little green there, is everything alright? Maybe you should head on home?” No wonder his sermons had been losing their former shine. Maybe he had a medical license I didn’t know about, but more likely he’s probably a massage therapist on the side. Practice makes perfect, doesn’t it? If you’re already forgiven I guess it doesn’t matter, does it?

When we’d first picked this church anyone could come to the practice sessions and help him choose a turn of phrase or make things clearer or more understandable and sometimes less offensive. Though not many, but at least a few were always there back then. But now, here today, there was no one. It was like all the regulars had been uninvited. The vampire’s invitation had been revoked, but it was the vampire who uninvited the sheep so he could suck the life out of my Denise instead.

So as he slipped in slow motion before my eyes, and his guitar flew in one direction, his other arm went up to his face to protect it but he still planted his nose on the back of his hand and his hand hit the carpet with a thud. It was nice, he managed to not get a drop of blood on the carpet. I was wearing a red shirt which I took off and wiped his hand and his nose. Making sure to place the front of the shirt in his face, we got him to the bathroom nearest the altar and started to clean him up.

“Thank you,” he said, “I appreciate not having to clean that out of the carpet, and I’ll buy you a new shirt of course.”

“How about two. It’s a lot less than the carpet cleaners would have cost,” said Denise.

“Hmmpf.” Was all I could think of. Two shirts and you lay off my wife, I thought but then I thought I didn’t like how it sounded and kept it to myself.

Shirtless, in the stairwell, alone, my Denise was seeing after her Rich in the bathroom, I shut the door. I pulled the shirt on and rubbed the tears on my cheek with the soft collar. I rubbed one hand in his blood and cracked the door open a little. It was quiet, and I could hear the water running through the pipes of the building. They were still in the bathroom. I smeared some of his blood on the door handle. Shutting the door again, I smashed my nose with my right hand, my ring is on my left. I winced and croaked like a little frog and started crying like a child. Through bleary eyes, I rubbed my blood on the other hand and opened the door a crack a second time and put some on the handle and some on the door jamb. Shut the door and then pushed against the knob on my side as though I were holding it fast.

I ran soft-footed up the stairs to the roof, smearing blood as I went. At the roof door, I smeared blood on the jamb, handle, door, and pulled it hard shut on the outside. Then I peeked over the edge of the roof. It was a flat roof four stories high with a little wall, sort of like a crenelated castle. I kicked up the gravel all over the roof and snorted blowing blood drops all over. I smeared his blood on the top of the little wall. Then I slid into third base on my knees in the gravel and smashed my shin and ground my side on the top of the little wall, took seven steps back and bolted for the edge.

I twisted in the air like Mrs. Catsandra Clare and falling with the wind at my back I watched the roof recede into the clouds, I wondered if the police would match the stains on the back of my shirt to the ones on the front, but scrunched as it had been I didn’t think they were that good.

Just then I realized, I could have just up and gone to Scotland instead.

By David Nelson

Flash Fiction

© 11/17/2016

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If You Don’t Kill the Kitten You Get 500 Pounds

Um, so why didn’t she just take the kitten out of the box? Video by Derren Brown, Could You Kill A Kitten?

 

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Chapter 4: Annika’s Grandmother

FrightBox-GrandmotherAs we drove, Annika explained that we were going to meet her Grandmother for breakfast. She made a look on her face that almost resembled a smile. “Everyone in the family has to meet Grandmother Sissel. Even Marty had to take his girlfriend to meet her. Grandma Sissy hated her.” Annika’s face broke out in a genuinely happy grin.

“And if she doesn’t like me?” I asked.

“No worries, she’s going to love you.” I’m her favorite granddaughter. “Now she’s very old and I want you to be prepared for a couple things, first, she’s very very old.”

“You said that already.” I quipped.

“Yes, but she’s very very old. Over 110 but we’re not exactly sure because there aren’t any records of her birth that anyone can find. Second, she’s losing it a bit, she thinks she even older than we do.” Annika turned to me and smiled, “you’re going to love this place, it’s a Swedish restaurant so the food is like heaven, the my mother used to cook.”

We parked in front of Dansk. I sat in the car and blinked my eyes. Annika asked, “What is it? Is it the name, is says Dansk which means Danish but the owners are Swedish.”

“Oh, it’s just that, um, this is where I ate after I met with Martin about the insurance.”

“Oh, Makes sense, his office is only just down the street.” Annika wrinkled her nose at me and sucked air in her nostrils hard. “Sorry,” she added, “I don’t mean to snort at you, I just had an itch in my nose.”

Asking for a table outside, we were shown to the same table where I’d eaten yesterday. But something happened here, didn’t it? Something weird, but I couldn’t remember, and my head hurt to think about it. I gripped my glass of ice water, then lay my forehead in my palm. When I looked up there was an elderly woman wearing a full length sable coat. Over her head lay a thin shawl. Reaching both hands up, she adjusted her shawl slightly out of her face so see me better.

It seemed to me that she’d just sprung up out of the seat that she was sitting on. I know I was staring in disbelief, I’m sure that I’d never met anyone so old before. Somewhere in the darkened cobwebs there must have been eyes. I was searching for them.

She extended a withered hand to me, and I felt that the only thing to do was to stand and then gently bend and kiss it. Icy, it reminded me of frost on a windshield which reminded me of waking in my car and the migraine returned.

“Bra,” the old woman said and slowly she turned to Annika and said, “han är söt.”

“She says you’re cute.” Annika translated.

“Men, kanske vi kan låta honom veta nu?” Annika asked her without offering me any translation this time. But I was busy closing my eyes and resting my forehead in my palms again. From far away I heard the gentle tapping of a spoon on a glass. Maybe there was a wedding party about to have a toast. At least my migraine had downgraded suddenly to a mere severe headache. I heard the tapping a second time and my headache went away.

When I looked up Annika was grinning and the woman as old as stones was staring at me severely. She didn’t look a day over 98 to my eyes. I saw the side of her mouth twitch a micro-smile for just a splinter of a moment. And then I remembered the beautiful raven haired woman who had sat in front of me yesterday. Her face was porcelain and her eyes were golden brown with more golden than brown. And in another 100 years that gold eyed brunette would look just like this elderly matriarch sitting in front of me.

“She’s my daughter too,” said Grandma Sissel.

“I’m sorry, who is?” I asked.

“The woman you met yesterday, here at this table, she’s my daughter too.”

“Grand, um, granddaughter? Yes?” I stammered.

“Daughter, granddaughter, granddaughter’s granddaughter, it’s hard to tell after a while,” said Grandma Sissel.

“Call me Grandma Sissy.” And okay, I thought, I’ll call you anything you like. I was remembering more bits and pieces from moment to moment.

“She slapped me.” I said.

“Who did?” asked Annika.

“The black haired woman with the gold eyes who met me here yesterday.” I blurted it out so fast that I half couldn’t believe myself. “She slapped me. Then she said, ‘come with me’ and we went just like that to some sort of a forest or whatnot and, and then she slapped me again and was shouting catch me, and running away.”

Now Grandma Sissy was grinning and Annika giving me a hard stare. “Did you catch her?” asked one of them, but I don’t remember which. I had to think to remember before I could answer.

“No, I chased her but I never tried to catch her. Thing is I was like born in that moment, born to run in circles, to run after her, but I felt like catching her would be wrong. But I didn’t know why it was wrong, so I never even tried.”

“Bra, bra pojke, gott hjärta, hör hans hjärta till dig.” Said Grandma Sissy. I must have been staring because Annika waved her hand at me. Either it was American sign for “Hi” or Queen of England for “stay away from the royal carriage or my guards will mow you down.”

Annika wiped a tear from her cheek and said, “she says your heart belongs to me.”

Grandma Sissy added, “och blodet alltför.”

“What was that?” I asked, and Annika just said it meant “forever.” Well my great great grandparents were Swedish but I didn’t know any myself. “But who was that raven haired woman really, and how did she make me forget, who I was, or where I was?”

Annika shook her head. Running her fingers through her hair, she said that we’d get to that but that she had a question first. “Tell me where you were this morning?”

“I woke up in my car in the driveway . . . in the passenger’s seat.” Finally I could think about that frosty white baby’s hair all over my windshield without feeling like I was about to have a stroke. So, I told them about the frost. Annika turned a bit of a paler white than her usual Caucasian self and Grandma Sissy, screamed something that sounded like “fawn”. But I couldn’t see what a young deer had to do with anything. Grandma Sissy followed up with a couple of what must have been expletives that sounded rather like a spitting sound.

“Men, at least we know certain that you two can be married.” Grandma Sissy said. Annika sobbed quietly.

“What, what, what? What is it?” I asked but Grandma Sissy answered with a bunch of questions while Annika continued to cry. Starting with my last name, my parents names and my grandparent’s names. Six of my great grandparents were English and I couldn’t recall their names. But two were Swedish. Great Grandpa Lyssna had been married to Grandma Ane Brun Lyssna.

Grandma Sissel clapped loudly and said, “she är min daughter också, also.” I must have looked perplexed because she continued, “Granddaughter’s daughter.” The old lady smiled and launched into a brief but detailed description of Grandma Ane.

She knew that my grandma’s little fingers on her right hand were bent outwards because a bull had stepped on them when she was small child. She knew that Ane’s favorite food was lingonberry jam over pancakes. So what, I thought, find me a Swede who doesn’t like that. She also knew that Ane hated her parents and had killed her cousin Arne when he was attacking her in the hay barn. That was why Ane left Sweden. She came to America with a small bag of gold, that I learned for the first time in the garden patio of the Dansk restaurant, had in fact come from Grandma Sissel herself.

I leaned back, Annika had a tear stained puffy face. Using the tree’s branches I counted from my dad, to grandpa Lyssna to Grandma Ane, to the daughter of a granddaughter who bore Ane into the world. Grandma Sissy was claiming to be my sixth great grandmother. Best guess, she would have had to be born about 1780ish give or take 20 years.

“Forget it, it’s a bunch of bull.” I said as I moved next to Annika and put my arms around her and her hair rested in my face. I could feel her sobbing again. “What is it? What’s wrong?” I pleaded with her, but she didn’t answer.

Grandma Sissy growled at us, “Doesn’t matter, done is done. You get married today, right away. I will fix it. She will be punished.”

Annika whispered in my ear, “it’s good you got the insurance when you did.”

Until Later . . . 

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Chapter 3: Waking In My Car

FrightBox-Frosted-GlassShivering, I awoke in my car. Parked in my driveway, the interior smelled of autumn forest. Sort of a rotten pine scent with overripe blackberries. So cold. Raising my seat to its nearly upright position, I realized that the steering wheel was on my left. Since it’s not an English car I began slowly to worry about what had happened since lunch. Or even at the restaurant since I couldn’t remember having eaten . . .

Outside my car window it was dark and fuzzy or foggy. I rubbed my eyes, it was foggy since I could see my hands clearly enough. Fully dressed, freezing and prickly beard, I looked like I woke up late and wasn’t going to make it to work on time.  Keys in the ignition made a tinkling as I tried opening the stuck shut door. I grabbed them. Putting them in my breast pocket, I pulled my cell phone out first and checked the time.

On the face of the phone it was 5:05 am and the app displayed a picture of the moon with no clouds around it. The door didn’t budge, but leaning into the driver’s seat, I lashed sideways with my shoulder and it burst open. In another life I must have been a fire fighter. Cool morning air rushed in, yet it was much warmer than inside the car.

I welcomed the morning, and stumbled out of the car falling to my knee. Stiff and cranky I stood up and stretched. My back cracked in 3 places which was unusual. Turning to shut the door, I noticed frost on the window, door handle and hood of the car. It was on the roof and doors and as I pulled the door open again, it was on the inside and outside of the windshield. What was that about?

I shut the door and clicked the fob. My grass wasn’t icy. My walkway was clean and dry. Passing to my neighbor’s car, it wasn’t covered with frost. Just mine. And it was hoar frost. Like my windshield was covered with short wispy baby’s hair.

Inside my little house in Camdten Gardens near San Diego State I stretched and felt rested enough. Made sense I guess since I must have slept since late afternoon yesterday. But where had I been. Thinking about it gave me a headache, but not thinking about it, made me feel at ease and free. That made me uneasy and anxious. So I set to wondering about why I didn’t care where I’d been and that gave me less of a headache than thinking where and what I’d in fact been up to since yesterday afternoon.

Placing my thoughts directly on the frosty hair that had been on my car gave me a migraine complete with swatch of plate glass window running through the upper right side of my visual field. I was going to have to find an answer in a more unconventional way. With the volume down I turned on the TV and switched over to Netflix. Perhaps an episode of Voyager would give my headache a rest. I closed my eyes and listed as Captain Proton saved the Galaxy from invasion yet again.

Suddenly I was back at Dansk, a young dark haired woman sat down in front of me as I was devouring my pancakes and those wonderful sausages. “You don’t want to raise your cholesterol like that, besides, it’s time to start your diet.” I put down my fork and finished chewing and swallowed. Wearing a Donna Karan business suit not quite à la Ally McBeal, she smiled at me. Dark wavy hair caressed her shoulders and lay across her clavicles. Golden brown eyes stared into mine. I believe she said, “I can see why Annika likes you.” But the sound of it to my mind was like it was fading away as she spoke or did her lips even move. Between my ears it echoed for a couple of moments saying “Annika likes you, Annika likes you, Annika likes you over and over.”

If I answered her I don’t remember it. If she ever said anything else I don’t remember it officer. But there were no police, I was interrogating myself. I could feel my body was running free now, like in a dream when you’re running across a field of grass just before you start to fly away. Not like the dream when you run and run but you go nowhere, but like I was running and running and there was a beautiful woman and either I was chasing her or she was chasing me. But I don’t remember what she looked like. Sandy blond mane or black and wavy, it seemed to me that there were both in my dream.

Maybe I was chasing one and the other was chasing me. I began to think it was more like running in a circle so that you are simultaneously doing both; chasing and being chased.

Door opened and I awoke. Annika walked in and laughed at me. “It’s 10 in the morning and you’ve missed half your work day?” Which was true, I usually started at 6am in order to handle the east coast business before starting on the central, mountain and pacific times.

“What?” I almost shouted at her.

“Don’t sweat it,” she said, “I called at 6:30 to see if you wanted to do breakfast and they said you weren’t in yet. So, I waited a couple of minutes, called back and said you were sick today and that you wouldn’t be in until tomorrow, so you’re cool like school.”

“Really?” I was gradually remembering the prior day and my head ached less for having slept through half a season of Captain Janeway’s trek through the Delta Quadrant of our Milky Way. I wanted to ask about the stethoscope but thought the better of it. Perhaps the preferred mode of inquiry would be to help with the wedding planning and see how much of had in fact been done.  Were we really going to the Wedding Chapel by the Sea, was there really an Italian string quartet coming to play her processional music down the little chapel’s aisle?

But she was so beautiful and she was here and smiling in scrubs with little . . . were those flecks of blood on her shirt? She caught me staring, “Oh that, I was visiting with a friend in the E.R. and got blood sprayed by the gsw victim of the day.”

“It’s not ketchup?” I asked.

She let out a maniacal laugh continuing, “you got me, dang I thought you might fall for it, yes of course it’s ketchup and I’m sure I’ve sat on mustard too.”  As she turned and showed me her butt there was in fact a yellow spot not unlike what you might expect if you had sat on mustard. Pulling her light cotton pants tight, I couldn’t help smiling. I felt a bit more relaxed, and embarrassed, and those didn’t usually go together but just now for the first time, they did.

“Listen, I’m going to go and change, then we’re going to go have breakfast.” Peeling as she walked away, I clicked off the TV and watched her reflection disappear down the hallway.

“I’ve got your back!” I yelled out.

“What?” she answered walking back into the hall wearing a tan sweater.

“I’ve got your back,” and I thought curses foiled again.

“Oh, great, I guess.” She headed back into the bedroom. No, she hadn’t yet moved in, but as a fiancée she’d taken drawer privileges even though she was a traditional girl and when she visited, I was appointed to my slumber on the couch. My friend Scott gave me the book called, She’s Just Not That Into You, but I haven’t read it yet. I was pretty sure he was wrong anyway, women who aren’t into you don’t make wedding and honeymoon plans.

“Dude, she is, she totally is, but she’s a traditional girl.” I’d handed the book back but he wouldn’t have it, he just shoved it into my briefcase instead.

“If she doesn’t want you before the wedding, she won’t want you after either. She’s up to something.” He’d said. But what? I’d wondered. I’m not rich, not famous, not going to be. I’m lumpy dumpy and kinda funny, so maybe just maybe she was really in love.

Momentarily the dim and distant memory of seeing her kissing the used Vampire Insurance salesman was edging in on my good feelings. There she was leaning over my shoulder from the back of the couch pressing the bell of a stethoscope on my chest. “You’re alive!” She cried out.

“Where did you get that?”

“From my boyfriend.” Smiling she continued, “there was this young doctor that washed out of the program and he gave all of his gear away to hospital staff before he left making sure not to give any of it to any of the doctors or other interns.”

“What?” I asked, well that was odd coincidence.

“I heard you met with my cousin Martin about the insurance.”

I felt such a relief. Then I felt a creeping anxiety coming up my spine. Why should I feel relieved that all this set of coincidences should come together all at once. And I still couldn’t think about my car without the swatch of glassiness spilling across my vision like spraying and freezing water on a windshield. Damn, there it went again.

My right eye squinted shut, “your cousin is our used vampire insurance salesman?” I asked. My head began to feel better.

“Yup.” Annika furrowed her eyebrows at me, “he thinks you’re paranoid and told me to marry someone else. He’s an ass but he’s family. How did you find him bytheway? That’s an odd coincidence.”

“I couldn’t have said that better myself,” I said. “He’s like, I don’t know, cagey about everything, he even said that he didn’t know you.”

“Oh, hmm, how did you get to ask him about me? That’s even weirder . . .”

“I was I don’ know, embarrassed. So I was looking for an insurance agency out of the way, you know, off the beaten path and found him.” I said. Yawning I stretched, and saw that she was still waiting for a more comprehensive explanation. “Well I heard him on the phone say that he’d just gotten a referral from Annika his best referrer. So, I asked how he knew you and he said he didn’t and claimed he’d said Anita. But I know better, he plainly said Annika.”

Annika tied her hair in a pony tail and asked, “Well, did I tell you to go to him?”

“No, I found him on my phone.”

She crinkled and sniffed hard, “well, he’s an a-hole, and I think he’s been in sales for too long. Come on, I know this great little restaurant.”

And I still couldn’t think about that car anymore.

Til Next Time . . . 

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Watch “Bunnies can fly…proof” on YouTube

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My Calculator has been Assimilated

image

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Blowing Up Stuff in a Microwave

Just had to share this one.

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Waiting to See Mickey Mouse

IMAG1912-1

While waiting to see Mickey Mouse in line at Disneyland, I noticed that a family of ghosts was waiting to meet his soul. They were sorely disappointed to find that he has none.

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Sometimes it’s Worth Risking Everything

Animated Video on Youtube of a Kiwi that does whatever it takes to be able to fly.
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Annika

FrighBox Annika Potrait2 “We’ve got a live one, yes from Annika, she’s our best referrer.” Martin Springafalt looked up surprised to see me walking back in.

“Um, you have an Annika who works for you? Is that my Annika, I mean that’s a rare enough name.  You know.” I asked. I was nervous, pausing too long before adding the “you know” but my Annika, how could he know her?

“Oh no,” he smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “That’s Anita. What can I do for you?”

“Well I had just gotten to my car and noticed that the binder says there is an exclusionary period of three months.” His mouth smiled again. “What’s that about?” I asked.

“In case you’re related to a vampire or have a good friend who is a vampire and you’re both trying to buck the system . . . it prevents fraudulent collusion, that’s all it is.”

“What! What do you take me for?” I asked but he just continued to smile like nothing was amiss.

“Mr. Lyssna, it’s sort of like the suicide exclusion on page 7 of the policy and two paragraphs down on he binder’s page 2.” He said.

“But I’m high risk.” I protested.

“Exactly why you should go home and forget about the binder and in 90 days you’ll be covered. If you don’t start the policy today, then your 90 days won’t start until that later date when you do start it. You know I once bought a dental insurance policy with a 90 day exclusion and was angry that I couldn’t get in for a cleaning for 3 months, just like you. On the 95th day, do you know what happened, bam, broken molar. I was sure glad I had that policy.” Leaning back he smiled a relaxed smile and put his hands behind his head and interlaced his fingers. Was he trying t to fly away? Teeth cleaning? Really? Does that work on everyone? I guess it probably did because it was working on me. But I was starting to think that Mr. Springafalt was no more than a used vampire insurance salesman.

“Where do you work?” he asked me.

“Conway Ritter Financial Systems downtown office. I’m uh, an accountant there. Annika works the hospital across the street. She manages the cafeteria, that’s where we met, in the cafeteria at the hospital, across the street.”

“That’s nice, and if you’re truly concerned,” That’s nice I thought, if I’m truly concerned with my next dental cleaning. Nope, I’m more concerned with my next hematectomy, you know, dialysis by vampire. He continued “then spend a lot more time at work. A well lit public building downtown is not the kind of place that vampires are going to haunt, even for your blood type.”

“You seem to know an uh, an awful lot about vampires.” I said to him. I remember specifically looking him in the eyes while saying it. That he knew more than the general public and it seemed to me that he also knew more than the average vampire insurance salesman.

Smiling again but with a sense of utter peace in his eyes, he said, “well, I do take my continuing education very seriously. But I do have a new appointment arriving soon so if there’s anything else?” Mr. Springafalt stared at me hard waiting for me to leave.

“Referred by Anita?” I asked, I could feel my heart racing. I was still sure that he’d said Annika but the door was creaking shut when I was walking in, my own foot falls could have masked the sound.

“Yes, that’s right Ms Chavez, that agent is our best referrer.” He sighed and confessed that he had some errands to run before his new appointment arrived. So, I left with my binder that immediately covered property damage, and my 90 day exclusion and my high risk factors for vampire attacks.

I drove around the sleepy village of La Mesa looking for a Starbucks. Maybe if I joined the coffee achievers I’d feel revved up and calmed down. Of course if I changed my mind they do have great hot coco and they do have garlic bagels.

Finding a restaurant at the base of a hill called Dansk, it had an inviting outside dining area covered with trees near the sidewalk. On the sign read, Scandinavian Breakfast. That sounded good so I parked and went inside. Once sitting I noticed the Starbucks was located across the street. Okay so I’d sacrificed good coffee for what was clearly and even greater plate of pancakes and sausage. Somewhere in heaven surely there was a lonely angel leaning over a cloud and soaking up the aromas from this little cottage restaurant among the La Mesa woods.

I ordered a coco. I didn’t feel like achieving much except to eat breakfast for lunch and to try to sweep away the uneasy feeling that I’d just been had for $102 and 51 cents.

As I sipped the not so bad coco and waited for my meal, tall tanned and Thor-som walked up to Starbucks and flicked a cigarette into the street. I leaned back in my chair to put a tree trunk in between us.

Looking into the windows he was pulling out his iPhone and checking messages. Annika walked up to him and putting her hand on his shoulder they kissed each other cheeks French-style and walked into the Starbucks.

So there it was, Annika wearing full scrubs and a stethoscope around her neck was his star referrer. I had just thought that everyone in a hospital wore scrubs but . . . a stethoscope? Since when do you put one of those up to a dishwasher?

She’s like a really specialized ambulance chaser. Sifting the high risk blood types and sending them to the used vampire insurance salesman, I wondered how much of a commission he paid her. I wondered if he was her boyfriend, husband or cousin.

Kissing on the cheeks isn’t normal in La Mesa, not among everyone but foreigner’s do it enough. Still I didn’t guess they were French. Afterall, his name was as Scandinavian as my breakfast.

Clearly I was a mark and not a fiancé. So why was she hiring caterers and a string quartet? Maybe she did want to marry me. Perhaps she didn’t hire anyone and only said that she did.

Well I had no idea, but after spending $102.51 I couldn’t afford to miss breakfast. I thought I’d just finish my food first and then jaunt on over and just walk up and sit down with them. Say nothing and see what they did. That was my plan.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

More Later

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