The Trials of Miriam – Part Three

The Trials of Miriam – Part Dos


The Trials of Miriam – Part Trois

“This is taking forEVER!” Miriam impatiently said to the clerk as a long line of Englandish men stood waiting to buy their wives flowers after their business trips. One man in particular that she didn’t notice stood behind her. She didn’t notice him because, like her, he was an international spy too. His name was…Christopher.

“Go, Miriam! I’ll pay for the flowers.” Chris held up a wad of fivers and whipped two bills out and slammed them on the counter. “Go, gosh darnit!”

Miriam ran. She had to get to the Tube station before the next train left along the line to Piccadilly Circus where she would surely lose him in the crowd. She ran so fast she had a fleeting thought that she could have won a Gold for her country in track and field at the Olympics that were held here only months previous. Oh yeah, this takes place in 2012.

The train hadn’t arrived yet but she felt the warm air being forced out of the tube tunnel and heard the screeching of the train cars. She found her mark, whose name happened to be Mark and breathlessly walked up to him and handed him the flowers. Stunned and speechless and slightly embarrassed, he stammered a weak “Thank you” amongst all the Thinging Thespians who said a collective and slightly stereotypical homosexual sounding, “Awww”, in perfect harmony, as they boarded the train.

Still out of breath, Miriam turned and ran back to the flower counter where Chris was finally signing the credit card receipt refunding the amount, minus the exchange rate, and charging another fee for refunding the money back into American dollars. In the end she paid more for the flowers in banking fees than the flowers actually cost.

“So you found him I see.” Chris said observantly because she wasn’t carrying the flowers anymore.
“Only barely,” she said. “It had the effect I wanted. He was stunned and embarrassed and didn’t know what to do. I needlessly brought attention to myself which all good international spies mustn’t do, but that was exactly what he was expecting, so by doing the unexpected, he suspects and expects nothing to come of it. But, therein lies the beauty of the plan because now I have the upper hand of knowing what to expect.”

Chris took a moment to complete the loop of logic in his mind before proceeding. Once he did, he handed her some cash, “Here’s your change for the flowers. Let me know if you need any help on the case. I’ve been assigned by your boss as your Angel for this mission.”

Angels were created out of a need to protect important assets. They hung around in the rafters trailing the asset and protecting them from unforeseen and foreseen dangers. They were the second best in the Agency, the best being the assets themselves. But they were still pretty darn good. Most everybody owed their Angel a case of beer for pushing them out of the way of a speeding car or taking down an assassin in the middle of Times Square in broad daylight or pulling the emergency cord of an Amtrak as they sped off in Nebraska before the train hit a herd of deaf buffalo that couldn’t hear the train whistle and therefore wouldn’t get out of the way of the train…….stay tuned for more Trials of Miriam!!!!


The Trials of Miriam – Part Two (No, there is no Part One)

The Trials of Miriam – Part Dos

So tired of all the bickering she has to do between her and the thousands of insurance reps she must deal with on a business daily basis, Miriam decided she needed a holiday. But this was to be no ordinary holiday, no it was to be a working holiday. But you, dear reader, surely you must be wondering, “Why would she choose to have a working holiday if she’s trying to escape work?”
Ah, but therein lies the answer to the secret. Miriam and her eighteen brothers and sisters were international spies for the United States government. Their ethnic background of being half Cherokee, half Canadian, half Austrian, half Scottish and half Flemmish put them all in the perfect position to speak feather Indian, Canadian, Austrian and Scotlandish. In addition, Miriam knew Spanish and Pig Latin and each one of her eighteen brothers and sisters knew at least one other language besides those that they were born knowing, namely, feather Indian, Canadian, Austrian and Scotlandish.
On this particular adventure, Miriam took only a few of her eighteen brothers and sisters. Josiah and Caleb went with her as her personal body guards. Abbie also went because of her ability to speak a particular dialect of Scotlandish called Englandish. Their destination? London, England….*insert dramatic music… da da daaaaa*

Flash forward eight or nine hours, depending on how the jet stream is behaving, and we arrive at Heathrow in London. Miriam and her secret agent siblings make their way through the throngs of thespians that are their way to thing (this word, “thing”, is supposed to be “sing” pronounced with a lisp. The better to continue the alliteration. Please continue to use this rule in the rest of the sentence for words that don’t make sense.) for the queen and her thisters at the Three Thinging Theater Thespians Pub in thentral London.

They come up to a flower shop when Miriam decides she needs to buy flowers for the man she is trying to catch, she doesn’t know why she is trying to catch him, only that her government needs her in this darkest of political days to catch this man whom nobody seems to know who or what he did that would require such drastic measures as to call Secret Agent Miriam out of her mundane existence as an Insurance Collector in Tennessee and fly her and three eighteenths of her brothers and sisters to help her track down this most nefarious of plotters against the government.

Knowing that the previous paragraph was one ginormous run-on sentence, she also decides to send Caleb, Josiah and Abbie ahead to get to the hotel to set up headquarters. With so many decisions already made, she decides, once more, to pay for the flowers with a credit card, partially so she wouldn’t have to do the dollar/pound conversion and partially for the exceptional exchange rate her credit card company offered her. Needing to take the flowers directly to the man whom she is tracking but isn’t supposed to know she is tracking, she is in a hurry because he is expected to leave the Tube platform in exactly about 3 minutes. But the credit card company is having a most difficult time translating Englandish pounds into American dollars!

Cliffhanger – Part 1 (DP Challenge)

Sam woke up on a bright sunny, yet chilly November morning. The warmth from under the covers was reason enough to not get out of bed. His pregnant wife, who was sleeping soundly next to him, was the perfect reason not to get out of bed.

Sam rolled over to face his wife, Sara, and gazed upon her. She glowed even when she was asleep. These were the perfect moments that he lived for. Just to look at her.

He reached over to stroke her hair and moved a lock behind her ear and then ran his finger down her cheek to her chin. She stirred and smiled before opening her eyes and looking at Sam.

“Good morning, beautiful.” Sam said with a smile.

“Morning, honey,” she answered. “What’s for breakfast?”

“Whatever you and junior want,” Sam said with a smile.

“Bacon. I would like some bacon. And an egg.”

“You stay right here. I’ll be back in a few minutes with bacon and an egg.”

Sam got up and went to make his wife breakfast. He heard his cell phone ring a special ringtone. He froze and the blood drained from his face. He went to his phone and looked at the display. It read Unavailable. The phone rang for the fourth time and he answered it, but no one said a word on either end.

“Hello,” he stammered.

“Mr. Smith?” The voice was soft and inviting. She had a sweet southern accent and the image of a short, beautiful woman with wavy flowing auburn hair came to his mind.

“No, I think you have a wrong number.”

“Is this 848-5083,” asked the voice sweetly.

“No, it’s 848-5038,” came the automatic reply.

“Silly me! I’m so sorry to disturb you.” The line went dead and he stood there with the phone still pressed to his ear. A million questions went through his mind all at once overloading his circuits. He began to tremble and dropped the iPhone to the ground causing the glass to splinter just as if it was a windshield that was hit with a bullet.

What did they want him to do? Why now after seven years of silence? He trained nonstop for two years for this and waited for seven. What the hell is going on?

He went back into the bedroom and looked at his wife who was just beginning to maneuver out of bed. Sam started to get dressed and didn’t say anything.

“Honey, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!”

“I, uh, it was the office. I’m so sorry but I have to go in for a little bit.”

“But Sam, it’s Sunday morning! They never call on a weekend.”

“I’m sorry babe. They just said it was urgent.” He avoided eye contact with her. He hated to lie to her, he was never good at it and she could always see through it. But lie he did, and she didn’t seem to notice.

He finished getting dressed and went to the side of the bed where she silently sat and gave her a kiss on her forehead and then knelt beside her.

“I’ll give you a call when I can. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to make your own bacon and eggs this morning.” He smiled, lifted her pajama top over her swollen belly and kissed it before he left without saying goodbye or I love you.


Sam sat on the park bench overlooking a pond with the city skyline as the backdrop. It was still chilly out and he took a sip of steaming coffee while he waited. He impatiently looked at his watch for the third time in as many minutes. Every jogger, every dog walker, every person that walked past him caused the pit in his stomach to be a little deeper. What could they possibly want now?

“Hello, David,” a male voice said behind him. He began to turn and thought better of it. “How’ve you been?” An older man walked around the bench and sat down beside Sam. Sam didn’t say a word.

“You never were one for unnecessary talk, were you?” When Sam didn’t speak the man laughed. “Right. Well, I’m sure you’re wondering why you’ve been called here. After all, seven years four months and nineteen days is a long time to go without hearing from your employer. The truth is, we didn’t need you until now. We have a job for you. You’re not going to like it, but if you don’t do it we’ll do it for you and it will not be pretty and you’ll be included in the contract. I wanted to get that out of the way right off the bat. Are we clear?”

Sam paused and considered his options which weren’t many. “Clear,” he said quietly.

“Good,” said the man jovially. “I don’t need to remind you why you volunteered for this job do I?” He emphasized the word “volunteered”.

“No sir.”

“Good,” he said in the same jovial tone as before. “All you need to know is this contract is high priority. An enemy of the state that has eluded us for years who we just found three days ago. This is a terrorist that has bombed clinics, refugee camps, cafes, hospitals, you name it, they’ve bombed it.

“She joined al Qaeda as a special operative in 1999 in Lebanon. Her two brothers were a captain and a major in the Lebanese army and deserted to join the terrorist group with her. They aided the men that attacked New York in 2001. She’s pretty important if al Qaeda allowed a woman to be in the inner circle.”

Sam sat there and listened not knowing what else to do. He had trained for this. To be a sleeper agent. To do one job and then disappear. To help his country in its time of need. To do his patriotic duty. He knew he received paychecks from the government, but they went to a secured bank account that he would get the information to only after the job, whatever and whenever it was, was done.

The man reached under his coat in the special breast pocket and pulled out a large envelope. It was paper-thin and sealed. He handed it to Sam, who paused before he took it.

“I’m going to need more information if I’m going to find and kill this terrorist.” He couldn’t believe he was saying this. He never willingly hurt anyone in his life let alone killed them. But he was caught up in the patriotic fervor of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and signed up for this knowing full well what it entailed. But that was eight years ago. He was a different man eight years ago. He had a wife now, and a baby on the way. He had two other people to think about now. He wasn’t on his own with no family to answer to like he was back then.

“There’s a photograph in there, David, of the contract. That’s all you’ll need. On the back of photograph is an address. When the contract is filled, you will go to that address and ask for John Carter. You will be shown into a room with a safe deposit box. In that safe deposit box will be the bank account information which will be your paycheck and a key to another safe deposit box. Further instructions will be in that box.”

The man got up and started to walk away as if nothing had ever happened.

“Sir,” Sam called out to him. The man stopped and turned around to face him. “I don’t mean to question your judgement or the agency’s judgement, but am I really capable of filling a contract on such a dangerous terrorist?”

“David,” the man said as he took a few steps closer to the bench, “We conducted an extensive background check on you eight years ago. We know your background. When we found out about this terrorist, we went back seven years ago and tracked your every move up until last Thursday. You signed a contract with the government of the United States of America. You will fill this contract and you will fill it gladly because it will protect future citizens of this country. You will then drop of the face of the planet. Sam will cease to exist just as David has ceased to exist. You will grow old and bounce your grandkids on your knee and will not be able to tell them of how you saved them from the terror and horrors that children all over the world suffer through every day. You won’t be able to tell them that. But you will be able to talk to them and bounce them on your knee. That is reason enough for you fill this contract. Your physical life will continue on even though Sam’s will not. You will be monitored periodically for the rest of your life. You won’t know if the nice lady next to you in the checkout line at the grocery store is an agent or not. You will not know if your child’s little league coach is our agent or not. You will not know. But as long as Sam ceases to exist, you will not have a problem. You are capable of doing this. We wouldn’t have assigned it to you if we didn’t think so.”

With that the man turned on his heels and walked away. Sam sat there for a minute which seemed like an eternity holding the envelope in his hands. He turned it over and slid his finger under the sealed flap and ripped it open. He felt inside and pulled the photograph out. He looked at it and his heart stopped beating for a fraction of a second. The picture caused his breathing to stagger and he felt as if he was punched in the gut. He was looking at a fifteen year old photograph of his wife.

To be continued…

Copperhead Road

This short story was inspired by the song Copperhead Road by Steve Earle. 

In the middle of the hills in Eastern Tennessee lie the charred ruins of small cabin that dated to colonial times when the area had all been virgin forest except for a tiny settlement of trappers and hunters which banded together for protection from the Cherokee Indians.

In addition to the dangers of Indian attacks, the area was home to a large population of copperhead snakes and the settlement became known as Copperhead.  With the rise of Knoxville and Johnson City in the mid 1850s, Copperhead fell off the map and the town was abandoned.  But Copperhead Road, which was the main street of the town, still existed in the early part of the 20th century known as the Roaring Twenties, and it’s at the abandoned cabin where our story begins.


Tommy walked quietly on the fallen leaves in the forest with his shotgun held loosely in one hand and a satchel slung over his shoulder.  Every now and then he would stop and listen to what the forest was telling him.  It was mostly quiet today so he kept walking.  Lost in his thoughts, he wandered clear up to the cabin.  After a moment, he realized where he was and he gripped his shotgun a little tighter, his senses more attuned to his surroundings.

This is it.  This is where his pa had told him never to go to.  Bad people lived up here.  Godless people who would just as soon take your soul then give you the time of day.  He was a little bit scared and a little bit intrigued all at the same time; the way most 16 year olds see danger.

Tommy saw movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to see a man pointing a rifle at him.  He saw a few more men coming out from behind the trees and he pointed at them from the hip.

“Don’t you raise that pop-gun at us, boy.  ‘Less you aim to die today.” Tommy relaxed his grip and let the gun point back down to the ground.  His legs started to tremble.  “What’re you doin’ in these here parts, boy?”  Tommy’s mouth went dry as cotton.

“Uh…just huntin.  Sir,” Tommy managed to say. He could hear his father say clear as day, “You stay away from Copperhead Road, son.  Nothing good comes from up there.”  Tommy thought he was going to die.  His father had successfully scared the crap out of him and here he was about to have the crap literally scared out of him.

The man who was talking lowered his gun and the others followed suit. “You’re Bill Anderson’s boy, ain’t you?”

“Yessir,” Tommy said.

“You’re pa ever tell you to stay away from here?”


“Good advice, boy.  Why you around here then?”

Tommy shifted his weight nervously.  “I, uh, just sorta lost track of where I was I guess.”

“Well you shouldn’t lose track of that around here.  Shouldn’t lose track of that anywhere.  Now go on, git.”

Tommy shifted his weight again.  They didn’t seem like the devil’s people.  They’re letting him go after all.  He wanted to ask them why they didn’t want anyone nearby.  Why did people say they were so bad?  “Uh, sir?  Can I ask you a question?”

The man stood there perplexed.  Nobody had ever stuck around long enough for him to tell them to git, let alone ask a question.  “What is it, boy?  Ain’t got all day.”

Tommy looked at the man square in the eye.  “What do you do here that everyone says you got to keep away from Copperhead Road?”

The man grinned and spit tobacco juice on the ground.  “You know why.  Everbody knows why.  Nobody wants to do anything ’bout it though so we keep on doin’ it.”

“You make good money at it? Is it exciting?” Tommy asked with growing curiosity and confidence.

“You sure do have a lot of questions, boy.”  The man walked closer to Tommy to get a better look at him.  The other men stayed put.

“Uh, I’m sorry sir,” Tommy stammered, his confidence wavering.  “My pa said you was… uh, bad people and you’d kill me if I came up here.  But you don’t seem too bad to me if’n you’re lettin’ me go and all.”

The man walked up to Tommy and stood a good three inches taller than the still growing boy.  “Well boy, I ‘spect some people think we’re bad.  We do bad things from time to time.  But I reckon most people do bad things from time to time.  Don’t you?” He looked at Tommy with steely eyes before continuing without waiting for an answer.  “What we’re doin’ isn’t nothing too bad.  What our pa’s did ‘fore us, and their pa’s did ‘fore them.  We just have to do bad things ever now and again cause it’s against the law now.”

Tommy processed this as fast a boy could.  A million questions came up in his mind and he figured he’d have a million more if only a few were answered.  But the one question he wanted to ask the most came blurting out of his mouth before he could stop it.  “Is it fun?”

The man started chuckling which evolved into a full-blown belly laugh.  The other’s behind him started laughing too. “Is it fun?” he mocked between laughs.  Tommy looked embarrassed as his face became hot and red.  “Boy, let me tell you somethin,” he said as he regained his composure. “We get drunk whenever we want.  We get to drive souped up cars real fast at night with the headlights off.  We get paid good money and we get any girl we want.  Ain’t that right boys?!” The half-dozen men started hootin’ and hollerin’.  One even shot his rifle up in the air.  “Yeah, I guess you could say it’s fun.” He spit another stream of tobacco juice on the ground about an inch from Tommy’s boot without even looking.  “You wanna see for yourself?”

Tommy’s eyes lit up.  “For real?  Me?”

The man chuckled at the boy’s enthusiasm.  “Yeah, you.  Course you know you can’t tell no one at all about our operation. Not your daddy, not your girl, not even your little brother.”

“No sir.  I won’t tell a soul.”

“Well good then.  You come back here tomorrow mornin’ and we’ll get you started.  You’ll start at the bottom of the barrel and work your way up, now.  It’s hard work, boy, but you’ll get to play hard when the workin’s done.”

“Yessir!” Tommy was all grins as the man started to walk away from him.

He walked back the way he came thinking about what he had just done.  Had he sold his soul to the devil just for curiosity or the chance to have fun?  Were these people really bad and just pretended to be ok?  He recalled a sermon one time where the preacher said the devil can show himself as an angel of light sometimes.  He shivered at the thought that he would go to hell because of this.  But his youthful mind was full of money and girls and booze and all kinds of fun.  Tommy put a little spring in his step on the way home.  He was now in the moonshine business.


To be continued…

The Lavender Flowers

Remy passed through the cemetery at twilight on a brisk November evening.  The sky along the horizon looking out to the vast Pacific Ocean was a rich tapestry of reds and oranges.  The sky directly above was a brilliant shade of lavender which gave way to the deep, rich blues that faded to black over the eastern horizon.

Remy looked up and through the lavender in the sky, the first of the stars were beginning to twinkle.  He saw Abigail’s star, lazily hanging over the Pacific following the sun.  Her star was actually Venus, the planet named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.  How appropriate, he thought, that Abbey’s star was the planet Venus.

Remy remembered the first time he ever set eyes on Abigail.  They were on a cruise from Le Harve, France to Portsmouth, England, and finally to New York City.  It was the third day after leaving Portsmouth he was ambling on the deck early in the morning when he saw Abbey watching the sun rise leaning on the railing.  Being the consummate Frenchman, he thought quick on his feet and grabbed the nearest set of flowers he could find, three-day old lavender blossoms that were beginning to wilt in salty ocean air.

“Pardonnez-moi, mademoiselle,” he said softly not trying to startle her.  Abbey jumped anyway and put her hand to her heart.

“Oh my, you gave me a scare!” Abbey giggled.

“For you,” Remy said in his seductive French accent holding up the flowers to her. “I am sorry they appear to be old but, you see, this was the best they had out here.” He waved his hand over the vast ocean before them and handed her the bouquet of flowers.  Remy saw the twinkle in her eye when she looked up at him while smelling the lavender blossoms.  In that moment, he knew he would marry her.  Years later, she would confess to him that she too knew in that very same moment she would marry him.

“They’re beautiful.  Thank you.” She involuntarily shivered, partly from the chill in the air and partly from the effect Remy had on her.  She turned around and watched the sun peek its face above the horizon.  Remy took his jacket off and put it over her shoulders.  She could smell his cologne and she closed her eyes and leaned back into him.  After a few moments like this together they began to talk and walk which would last for hours that day.  One of the first things they talked about was the ‘morning star’, which Abbey refered to as hers.  He explained it was Venus and that sometimes it was seen in the west as the ‘evening star’.

They were very nearly together every moment the rest of the trip to New York under the watchful, albeit very tired eye of her tutor, who also served as guardian on her grand tour of Europe.

Determined to make a name for himself and to win Abbey’s family over, he made a small fortune for himself with some shrewd, if not shady, business deals in New York.  He would not let Abbey’s father think he was to marry her for her money.  Abbey’s father was a gold speculator and had also made a small fortune mining for gold.  He established other businesses and ventures and was very well-known and respected in the whole of Northern California even before Abbey was born.

Remy smiled fondly at the memories he had of Abbey and the life they built together.  He smelled the fresh bouquet in his hands and looked up to Abbey’s star with a tear in his eye.  “I love you more than anything, ma chère,” he said in his still thick French accent.  He put the flowers on her grave, said a silent prayer and walked away.  He strolled for a little bit enjoying the solitude, but still wishing his Abbey was walking beside him.  He left the cemetery and vanished under the gated archway on Evergreen Street amid the noise and bustle of Santa Cruz in the early 21st century.


Shortly before Abbey’s 50th birthday in 1919, she would succumb to the ravages of the Spanish flu epidemic.  It left Remy heartbroken, and every year he would put lavender flowers on her memorial headstone in Evergreen cemetary on their wedding anniversary.  Remy was buried beside his beloved wife in 1935.

Every year, people will find bruised and wilted lavender blossoms on Abigail’s grave.  The legend says that Remy’s ghost still puts the flowers on the grave on their wedding anniversary and the flowers wilt and age because they pass from their world to ours.  Nobody has ever seen the ghost or any fresh flowers and, therefore, nobody really knows the true story of The Lavender Flowers.

I Don’t Have Much To Say

So I don’t have much to say,
My life is quite boring, but hey,
It’s my life to live.
I have a lot to give.
It’s up to you if you stay.

But remember this if you do,
My moods can sometimes be blue.
They can also be great,
Full of love, not hate,
It’s my choice and not up to you.

So if you’re still here that’s fine.
I’m going to have a glass of wine.
Join me if you will,
We’ll take a big swill.
And we’ll all have a merry old time.

The Soundtrack of My Life

This week’s challenge is to pick a song and write about how it changed your life.  Or a musician, band or composer or lyrics or something musical and how it changed, inspired, or moved you. 

For me this is an impossibility.  Music truly is the soundtrack of my life.  So many moments in my life have music tied to them.  Corny music, serious music, happy music, weird music, rock, classical, country, blues, oldies, movie soundtracks…it’s all shaped me in some way. 

If I want to think of my very young childhood, I can listen to Hey Good Lookin’ or You Are My Sunshine and think of my mother singing to me.  If I hear the song In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry I’m taken back to my freshman year of high school and my first serious girlfriend.  Lazy Mary takes me back to Aunt Mary and Uncle Phil’s house for big Saturday afternoon Italian meals.  Alan Parson’s Sirius takes me back to the early 1990s when I watched the Bulls with my dad.  Just the beginning two notes of Just A Little by Liberty X brings back the gut wrenching memories of my first real heartbreak.  The name “John Williams” reminds me of my years in my high school concert band.  Even More Blues But My Abcessed Tooth Is Fine Now Thanks takes me back to high school jazz band and winning second place in the Augustana Jazz Festival my junior year.  Blues Before Sunrise, Rhapsody in Blue, Zorba the Greek, L-O-V-E, Wanted, Theme From Batman….the list goes on and on.  All of these songs take me back to a moment in time.

So you see, Daily Post, I can’t just pick one…well, maybe I could…LMFAO!!!

Stupidity – Epidemic of the Ages

If you could create a painless, inexpensive cure for a single ailment, what would you cure and why? Photographers, artists, poets: show us HEALTH.

If I were King of the World, I would have all my potion makers and healers and alchemists create a pill that would cure stupidity once and for all.  The land would be pure and stupidness wouldn’t exist.  That’s not to say that people wouldn’t have their differences.  It wouldn’t take our minds away like you see in so many dystopian movies and books.  No, this would take the “How have you survived so long because you’re so stupid” stupid out of people.  This cure would make people that park in two spots because they don’t want their precious cars dinged not be so upset when someone purposely dings their car because they couldn’t fit properly, or they had to park three miles away.  After having the stupidity pill, they might still park that way, but they would say, “Golly gee.  I probably shouldn’t have parked that way, huh?  Next time I’ll park like a normal human being.”  I’m sure you can think of tons of other examples of how the world would be a better place without stupidity infecting the minds and hearts of its inhabitants.