Fed Up Moving

Fed Up Moving by Elizabeth McLaughlin

The other day while out on the road with the bicycle taking in nature, I stopped at a crossroad and looked to the side and there scattered on the ground was a blue vacuum cleaner and stereo receiver unit. How horrible it is to find such stuff just tossed onto the side of the road.  Again, it became another interesting road-side display that I could craft into a short story on how I think it ended up on the side of the road.

Tracey worked for a local retailer in a small town and diligently kept the specialty gifts immaculately clean and appealing to upscale shoppers. She enjoyed her job, especially when the owner would permit her to use new concepts for featured displays. In order to make ends meet Tracy worked long hours and also had to bounce from one job to another  to make living costs to cover rent, food, car payments and toddler support. Tracey lived on a quaint old street, lined with established maple trees. Her favorite tree on the street had huge roots that bulged up above the gray granite stone sidewalk. It had such a unique appealing natural quality, a smiling face etched in bark. The neighbors were great and Mrs. Teabody, a retired school teacher took care of Thomas during the day and into the early evening. It was the perfect situation for a working single mother to find these days. After all the nightmares experienced in renting apartments and juggling expenses, questionable day care centers, Tracey finally found an affordable cottage in the back of the Peterson’s huge soft green painted Victorian mansion with bright white trim. A lovely family that did not take advantage of people in need of housing. Here she could feel a strong sense of security and stability that she already benefitted from for two years. Upon moving in Tracey eagerly white washed the wooden clapboard on the front porch and loved finding at local yard sales decorative antiques that added a warm inviting comfortable touch. She always wanted a garden, and planted beautiful bright blue, purple, red and yellow flowers from the local garden nursery. It looked like the perfect tiny home that one would find in a Country Magazine. Thomas also had his own nursery, decked out with a French antique wooden crib, dresser, toy box and shelving for all of his plush stuffed animals and story books.

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It was a quiet Wednesday evening, and Tracey was preparing Thomas for bed. Rocking in the chair, reading fairy tales became a cherished moment that they could gaze into each others eyes and cuddle. The phone rang at the downstairs kitchen wall telephone and Tracey gently placed Thomas into his crib to sleep. She dashed quietly down the narrow carpeted stairs and picked up the mellow yellow colored telephone. “Tracey it’s Liz, sorry to have to call this evening but I was wondering if you could open up the store tomorrow. I really need your help because my daughter Betsy has a doctor’s appointment.” Tracey sat on the Costco red metal kitchen stool and replied, “Yes, don’t worry, not a problem, I understand.” As soon as she hung up the phone it rang again. Tracey picked up the receiver slowly and answered, “hello.” On the other end she could hear static noise. “Hello, hello, stop calling here or I will call the police”, Tracey said. For weeks that phone would ring at odd hours of the night but no one responded.

The next morning Tracey woke up at the crack of dawn to prepare for a very hectic day of work. She walked down the gravel driveway toward the main street to collect the mail that she neglected picking up the previous day, and the thoughts of the extra work money would come into handy savings for emergencies. After sifting through the mail she noticed a hand written envelope with just her name on it. Upon opening the letter she read two printed words, HELLO, HELLO. “Now this is going beyond a prank phone call and the person knows where I live.” she cried. The mail collected dropped to the ground and scattered onto the street. Stacey fumbled to gather it up and out of nowhere a speeding car screeched by only to disappear into the thick morning mist. And, all she could notice seeing was a dull black sedan. The Peterson’s bedroom light partially lit up the front lawn and Mr. Peterson opened up the large pained window and screamed. “Are you okay Tracey? That car sounded like it hit you!” Tracey responded, “I have no clue Mr. Peterson, perhaps it was a kid trying to be smart. I will talk to you later and have to get to work early.” The window slammed shut and all that Tracey could think of was not to have created any bad feelings with the Petersons. After making Thomas his favorite oatmeal breakfast and dropping him off at Mrs. Teabody’s, Tracey drove her cream-colored van down main street to the early period stone clad store. A black and white police car was parked at ‘The Flying Flamingo Cafe’ and Tracey could view Vince through the window making his to go order at the front counter. Little did Tracey know, Vince was attracted to her when he places his order to her at his night shift and was still seeking the courage to ask for a date. Tracey drove to the back parking lot of the store where employees parked, walked up to the back entry only to find the metal door not locked. She decided to enter and flipped all the light switches on and proceeded to the front of the store by walking to the main reception room. Footsteps creaked the floor boards coming from the second floor and Tracey froze. A muffled familiar whistling tune filled the air, and then Tracey relaxed, yelled up the stairs, “Jasper is that you!” Jasper responded, “yes mam, just finishing up waxing the floors for Ms. Lizzie.” “Well that is a relief, I thought you were a break-in”, said Tracey.

The morning hours flew by because it was unusually busy with customers. The director of the Women’s Rotary Club made an outstanding order for the groups Derby Days luncheon benefit and show! Tracey worked hard to complete the order as directed and knew that Liz would be pleased with the sale. Liz arrived at noon and before Tracey could explain about the sales, she headed up to her office with a look of distress on her face. Within ten minutes the intercom telephone buzzed at the main sales counter and Liz asked Tracey to come up to her office for a meeting. Tracey closed the register drawer, handed over a customer purchase and headed to the elegant pine staircase that led up to the office. Liz sat at a massive intricately carved cherry wood partners desk and directed Tracey to have a seat. The veins in Liz’s neck began to bulge as she blurted out as if in pain, “Apparently I had a very disturbing encounter this morning with Wendy, the director of the Women’s Rotary Club. She explained to me in detail about the unprofessional shopping experience received today at the shop. Please tell me how this could possibly happen in my shop?” Then there was a brief silence and Liz continued, “I was totally mortified in front of a lot of people. Tracey, I assured her that this type of service cannot be tolerated and I would ask that your service be immediately terminated. I will have Jasper bring your things and paycheck.” Tracey’s mouth quivered and she could not believe what she was hearing. As soon as she opened her mouth to speak Liz lifted up her hand and raised a trembling finger to her lips. At that point Tracey got up, walked out of the room, closed the office door, quickly ran down the stairs and past a startled waiting customer. All she could hear in the distance was a sobbing crazed woman.

The route along a country road to home was picturesque maybe calming. The cream-colored van swerved around corners and then Tracey decided to pull over, get out of the vehicle and just run through a field of tall grass until collapsing. Hours went by and only upon hearing black birds cawing from a baron tree did Tracey come to her waking senses. There was no doubt that Thomas was waiting to be picked up at Mrs. Teabody’s but he would have to wait because it was important to stop off at the Peterson’s as promised. Tracey decided to pick some flowers from the front garden to make a bouquet for the Peterson’s. She knocked on the door, bouquet in hand and was greeted by Mrs. Peterson. “We were worried about you this morning, Tracey, and I think it is time that we had a chat.” she said. Tracey could only think about the horrific meeting just experienced with Liz and her knees started to tremble. Mrs. Peterson offered Tracey a cup of tea and thanked her for the lovely bouquet and proceeded to explain that Martha their only daughter was about to enter Med School. She described a great financial burden and said, “Today the costs are extremely frightening for Martha to attend a private institution and unfortunately we have to double the cottage rental.” Tracey said, “Mrs. Peterson, you know that it is impossible for me to afford such a high rent and I will have to move.”

Tracey picked up Thomas and explained to Mrs. Teabody her misfortunes for the day. Mrs. Teabody offered to inquire with friends about finding a new rental and not to worry. She said, “Just take some time off and rest dear, tomorrow is a new bright day, things will fall into place.” It is easy for people to say but to Tracey it seemed like a far off dream. At least she still had the job at The Flying Flamingo Cafe! A few weeks passed and by a small miracle so did the mysterious phone calls and a yard sale to eliminate most stuff. She decided to take Thomas with her for the drive down Route 206 to the local dump. It was quite expensive for garbage disposal and undeniably unaffordable for a single mom working part-time. Tracey came to an intersection stop and opened up the back door to the cream-colored van. The sight of Liz moving her finger to lip brought up anger as Tracey glazed over at the black receiver and blue vacuum cleaner. Tracey picked it up, tossed both items violently to the side of the road and guiltily drove off. Later that evening Vince appeared to make his usual order to go at The Flying Flamingo Cafe. He said, “Tracey so sorry to hear about your job loss, the shop closing and Liz loosing her daughter to illness. I know it’s not the right time but it sure would be nice to take you out to a fabulous night out on the town!” Tracey stood there feeling like a played fool, caught her emotions, and replied with a yes.

Record Player Revival

Record Player Revival by Elizabeth McLaughlin

It’s back! Lately, the record player and collecting of old vinyl albums is trending. The other day I took a bicycle ride to a local antique outlet and rummaged through large boxes that contained a variety of old albums. For just a few dollars a piece, I was able to start a collection of memorable favorites. However, it takes work to find one that you like in excellent shape without any annoying scratches. Do not be afraid of the condition of an album cover, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover two perfect discs in one album case. In case you’re wondering, yes, vinyl albums are on sale brand NEW but be prepared to spend more dollars. I could not wait to use my new red Victrola record player and enjoyed the experience of using the arm lift to gently place the needle onto the album surface. It’s wonderful to sit back and observe the graphics, art on the album and researching the history of the bands online. Typically, the lyrics to songs are printed on the inside cover or sleeve to the album.

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At the antique outlet, in one corner of a consignment booth there sat an oversized antique record player and it was housed inside its original wooden cabinet. A great find for someone who could bring it back to life, but for my purposes too bulky and heavy. I ended up with a new one that has a suitcase handle for ease of use, portability and light in weight for travelling. Although, the speakers are not the greatest, it did produce enough sound to fill up a room and I also used it outdoors at the patio picnic table. To boost up quality of sound, RCA outlets in the back of this player make it easy for portable speaker hookup. Lately the radio transmission for automobile and house in the area I reside has been on the static fritz but it did not affect the record player! Perhaps the electromagnetic problem was due to solar interference. Another great reason to have a record player on hand! Even if an electric power outage occurs this new record player operates on very low-wattage that most back-up solar panel arrays could handle.

Here is the line-up of my start-up album collection.

Bruce Springsteen – Album Title: The River

Ted Nugent – Album Title: Nugent

The Who – Album Title: It’s Hard

Bay City Rollers – Album Title: Rock N’ Roll Love Letter

 

Ghostly Encounter and a Rusted Rimmed Tire

On my walk along the road side, I noticed that someone placed a large used truck tire with rusted brim up against a street sign. The perfect item to write a short story on how it may have ended up on the side of the road. This is part of a series about ‘Things I Find On The Side Of The Road.’ by Elizabeth McLaughlin
052017-9It was sunrise and there Frank sat at a worn out marbled linoleum topped, chrome legged kitchen table contemplating about that days work. Usually the last sip of hot strong coffee from his favorite diner sized ceramic mug always tasted its best! Being in the demolition business  presented a different challenge each day and often required going into Trenton where most of his client base resided. This particular job Jason was going to assist Frank with the removal of a dilapidated commercial warehouse and was already on his way to work. Although, Frank was a contractor he held  an intrinsic conservative work ethic rule. His grandfather always instilled into him that everyone was to be on time whenever it was his dime.
Trenton could be a very sketchy place to work and the warehouse location was far from being situated where modern industry flourished. Frank made a left hand turn onto Chambers Street and the only sign of life was an oversized rat scurrying across the broad street. Abandoned, skeletal framed warehouses were sandwiched in-between a few vacant row houses.  All scheduled for demolition to make room for future development. The old red Mac Truck made its way down a weeded, broken black top driveway, its heavy wide tires drove over parts of broken porcelain sinks and grey metal file cabinets. From a few partially glossed windows faux brown leather office reception chairs dangerously dangled and could crash onto the street at any given time. Jason stood at the entrance to the warehouse, holding two cups of coffee. “This place sure does look like the creepiest job site we have ever worked”, said Jason. Frank nodded and took a sip of coffee and placed it onto a window ledge and then reached into his denim coat pocket for a key to the padlock. And, with a stern look in his eyes, Frank ordered, “Today we have to inspect the structure and start moving some debris out, tomorrow the rest of the crew will come with heavier equipment.” Jason’s eyes almost rolled over thinking how dumb it was to think it really mattered unlocking the padlock because just a few feet away a portion of  metal siding was peeled off the exterior wall. However, Jason knew better and restrained his emotions because it would only stir bad feelings with his macho boss. Frank yanked the brittle deteriorating doors and suddenly both became unhinged, twisted and dropped with a loud bang landing at their feet. They peered upward to see a few wooden ceiling beams had collapsed.  “This building is supposed to be just debri”, Frank gasped. Jason could not believe it, huge wooden spools of cables lined the warehouse floor and at the far end on the second level he spotted a leaded glass enclosed room. “That must be the office, let’s check it out, we can get a better view from that platform”, Frank said. The rotted out wooden stairs were very unstable but Jason volunteered to be first and test its integrity. The antiquated staircase had two platforms and after arriving safely to the first it was Franks turn. Although Frank had a lifetime of experience dodging debri he still took cautious steps, one at a time only to feel the staircase swaying back and forth with each step taken. CRACK! One step collapsed under Franks weight but he was able to recover by balancing most of his weight onto the railing. Upon reaching the platform they both gazed in amazement at the expansive structure. Architecturally beautiful for its industrial days, massive wooden beams formed a linear perspective of pure elegance from the 1800’s. The sun shone a hazy beam of light through the roof-top. Pigeons circled and landed at the other end of the warehouse. “Those F-ing, stinking pigeons made nests inbetween all those iron beams.”, “Now, Terry did not tell me it was a warehouse for old suspension bridge parts. This could be part of the freaking Brooklyn Bridge”, screamed Frank! His voice echoed and bounced off the brick walls that created a massive scattering of  birds.” “Don’t scream too loud Frank, the platform might collapse”, “And, this has to be THE worse job ever case scenario that Terry pulled on us”, Jason whispered. They both decided it was still safe to continue their venture up an iron ladder and onto the next platform leading toward the office.
Oversized, dense spider webs draped the office entry. The wooden door creaked open and to their surprise a few old wooden filing cabinets with matching desks and chairs remained in near perfect condition. Time stood still for many years in this room, even the tops of desks had stacks of papers ready to be filed and a working Remington typewriter. An eerie, unsettling aura filled the toxic air mainly because of all the company portraits that hung on the mold laden cracked plastered walls. Directly in the center of the portraits displayed a photograph that stood out from the rest. It was an extremely angry moustached faced man, dressed in a typical period suit, hair parted down the center and slicked down.   Jason turned and said, “Oh man, this guy is the creepiest. Look at his penetrating eyes, Frank he is following us wherever we move, it seems.”, “I bet he must have owned the business, sorry Frank, but something is not right about his hands being mangled.” In order to gain a better view of the warehouse floor, Jason had to use his leather work glove to remove a thick coating of dust. Both turned their backs to the company portraits in order to glance out the leaded window frame when a distinct number of clicks caught their attention. “Did you hear what I just heard?”, murmured Jason. Frank replied, “Yes, it came from over at that desk with the typewriter.” A frozen tingling sense of fear overcame them that accompanied a natural reaction to panic and dart out the door. But no muscle could be moved.  Instead right before their eyes the gentleman in the portrait appeared in solid form with a grimacing worried smile and quickly faded into thin air. Their paralysis lasted for seconds but it felt like an eternity to the strong men. Suddenly, CRASH! The photograph flew off its holding nail and landed up against the filing cabinets. Picking through the pieces of glass, and overturning the gold leafed, hand carved frame they decided to peel off the thinly worn wood backing. Out fell a yellowed envelope and upon opening it discovered a notepad. Frank flipped through the pages to discover that it was a map of a bridge with hand-written engineering notes. In the introduction was written in elegant script, The Brooklyn Bridge Project.
Jason’s mouth dropped wide open in shocked disbelief. Frank read out loud a notation, “whoever finds this writ shall hold the key to unimaginable wealth!” “I don’t know exactly what we have here Jason, it needs to be studied in detail, so let’s get the hell out of here now!”, Frank said. The office door mysteriously slammed shut, Frank ran to it and grabbed the crystalline door knob. The solid door would not budge so Jason started to kick at it with his work boot. Still the door remained sealed which left the men with only one more option and that was to break the windows. They lifted up the heavy metal typewriter and threw it through the window and climbed over the radiators. It was a frightening experience and the men scrambled for the iron ladder, again Jason went first as it creaked and swayed with the bottom detaching from its brace.  Upon reaching the platform safely, Jason yelled up to Frank, “This is going to be extremely tough  Frank, I hope it can hold your weight!” Jason reached over to a pile of pallets and found a thick rope, attached it to the ladder and tied it to a beam. “This may help some, take your time.”, said Jason. Frank swung over and tightly grasped the iron ladder to make his decent, the upper brackets heaved back and forth, and with a sigh of relief, the rope did its trick. Quickly, Jason started to go down the stairs that swayed even more than ever before. He reached mid-point and the stairs just gave way, hurling Jason like a bouncing rubber band, suspending, darting back and forth over iron beams and spindles of industrial roping. It would not make for a soft landing, only to a pigeon. He clung to the railing screaming until it lodged itself between two wooden posts. Jason precariously positioned his body over the suspended railing. Jason pleaded with Frank, “you have to do something and quick buddy, I will not be able to hang here for a long time.” Frank looked around the platform and spotted the rope that was used to secure the iron ladder. It was long enough and a spools worth of roping. He made a huge thick knot and tossed the end to Jason.  Before he could secure the wooden spindle the iron beams gave way to the wood debris holding it up and Jason plunged down. The wooden spool holding the rope slid towards the edge of the platform and Frank did what he could and even placed his heavy body weight onto the spool to prevent it from moving further. Miraculously, the spool caught the edge of the platform side-wall just right and secured itself. Frank looked over the platform edge and could see Jason dangling, almost lifeless from the rope which he had tied around his waist. Jason looked up at Frank, and smiled and said, “I made it buddy. That was one hell of a staircase!” Jason was able to untie his lifeline and jump to the warehouse ground. Frank was feeling the heat, large beads of sweat dripped down his face. Jason knew it would be a complete embarrassment for macho Frank to call First Responders to save him, therefore, the only decision out of this mess for him was down that rope. Frank decided to make a harness rope, he learned about this process from the First Responders class. At the time he laughed about doing it and vowed that he would never have a need to use it. However, this training class came in handy and Frank was about to make his own primitive harness from a piece of rope and securing a military grade clip from his key chain. “Okay, I am coming down, it should be a breeze”, said Frank. And surprisingly it was, Franks sweat disappeared as he reached to safe ground. They both decided to take the rest of the day off and meet up early the next day at a local diner.
Frank turned his red Mac Truck onto route 206 and all that he could think about was surviving the day and the mysterious contents inside the notepad. That is, until the red Mac Truck dropped. “Shoot!”, said Frank. Yes, he had a blow out and the truck needed to be pulled over to the side of the road for its repair. Luckily he was prepared and had a spare tire on rim ready to go in the back of the truck.  Frank hobbled to the side of the truck, slowly bent down and made the necessary tire change and hopped back up into his cab forgetting the flat tire on the side of the road.
Mitch was travelling to work the next day and spotted the huge tire on the road, decided it was a danger to other vehicles and propped it up against the street sign. And this is how the rusted rimmed tire was found on the side of the road.

A Few Flowers and Landscapes

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A landscape business down the road planted elegant bright blue flowers and I could not resist capturing these beautiful floral clusters. It certainly brightened up my day along with natures neighboring forested swamp.

Overcast Day

Sunday was overcast with rain in the forecast. The docks and lake take on a different hue and projects a unique rustic mellow mood.  Soon the beach will be open to club members and families will gather for swimming meets, fishing and boating excursions. The trails have fresh fine white gravel prepared for hikers, dog walkers and bikers. Throughout the woods shimmering sunshine tries its best to brighten up small wild daisies, leaves and casts its warm glow against trees.

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This Years Garden Box

I was hoping to be traveling and setting up the garden box at a new location but here it is summer again and still not on the road. I planted summer squash, tomatoes, assorted sunflower mix, lettuces, parsley, mint and peppers. So far there is growth coming up out of the soil and I look forward to this mix in the garden box. A beautiful hanging basket adds color until the seedlings grow up.

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Desert On My Mind

I wanted a brownie but all I have is meatballs. Tonight I over fried the meatballs to hard crusted shells. Brownies came to my mind and perhaps it was from a blog that I was reading that somehow left an impression. Now if I only had the proper ingredients and someone out there in culinary land has a recipe that can transform meatballs into brownies I could turn these meat bombs into something sweet!

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