D. A. Blankinship

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Short Stories, Poetry, & Satire

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Short Stories, Poetry, & Satire

Barton's Mission
Granddad's Adventure
Shelly's Defense
A Cherished Companion
Ballad of Crusoe & Ruger
Bartholomew's Obituary
Bertha's Obituary

Barton's Mission

It was familiar. He had been here before.

He studied the ground: no signs of trouble. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply through his nose. He could smell them. He watched for twigs or anything else on the ground that might make noises as he gently placed each step.

He felt strangely alone. A year ago he would have had backup; a year ago his father was not laid up in bed. Time plays tricks on the toughest warriors.

Jeff Barton had only had a few weeks to train for this mission. His first time out he had rushed everything. He had been anxious on approaching the 'roost.' What a strange name for the hiding place of these monstrous creatures. His dad had told him stealth was essential. In the early morning hours he could slip in and slip out. Their vision is bad in dim light. Failure was not an option: his family must eat today.

He felt the hair on the back of his neck go rigid. He was being watched! He did not know where the lookout was or what to expect. He froze in place.

The soundless, huge grey shadow crossed the ground and disappeared into the dense underbrush. A shiver ran up his spine as he thought of these silent assassins that patrolled the forest. The darkness was their world. He was lucky; it had not seen him or it wasn't hungry.

For the next few minutes, he inched his way along the crude path leading to their lair. The cavernous vault was silent. If they were there, they were asleep.

He had heard them last night, at dusk. He heard them fighting among themselves over a morsel of food or something. He could only imagine the carnage as talons tore into a hapless creature who had stumbled into their domain. Some poor thing helpless to outrun them.

It was his moment to decide. He wanted to run home and be safe; but what is safety when the family is hungry?

Slowly, he moved into the lair. One of the creatures moved. He was motionless. He smelled the stench of the waste. He heard insects hovering around the remains of last night's feast. He knew he must press on. He thought of his father, his mother, and his younger brother. They would eat or he would die trying.

He crept along a wall that had been worn smooth by years of abuse. Perhaps when these creatures fight, they heave their opponents against this wall. He worked his way closer to the ground, searching for abandoned or unprotected young. He found one and then another. They were oddly silent; perhaps innocent; maybe they trusted him. They could not know his plans.

He had six; that would be enough.

The creatures panicked.

He ran for the exit. If he got away, they would not track him. They were terrifying; but they ran mindlessly in every direction. Moments later, he ran into his house panting.

"Leave them by the stove," his mother said. "Call your dad, he has slept long enough; tell your brother to start the toast."

"Can I get the eggs tomorrow?" his little brother asked.

"No! You're too young," Jeff said smugly. "This is man's work."

After reading Barton's Mission, Cindy King sent this story to me. It helps us realize how entertaining life can be. Cindy has kindly granted us permission to reproduce the story here.

D. A. Blankinship

Granddad's Adventure: A True Story

Cindy Burch King

One of my granddad's favorite stories (and it's absolutely true!) was about an encounter at the chicken coop.

On more than one occasion within the past week, someone or some thing had been getting away with one of grandma's hens during the night. So, when Granddad heard a commotion start about midnight, he jumped out of bed wearing only his standard faded red one-piece long johns (complete with backside flap, of course, if you've ever seen these amazing garments).

He grabbed his shotgun (what was he thinking?) as he flew out the back door and ran to the chicken coop. He stood there in the moonlight trying to let his eyes adjust, trying to spot the culprit. About that time his old hound dog quietly approached from behind, saw Granddad standing there with that backside flap wide open and so the hound stuck his nose in to investigate. The shotgun went off and off and off.

Granddad never did see the culprit, but he and Grandma were up all night cleaning chickens.

Shelly's Defense

As she turned off the engine, she realized her hand was shaking.

“This is silly,” she thought, “what could happen here?”

She unlatched her safety belt and stepped out of the car. The light blubs flickered out as the garage door finished closing. She stood in darkness.

“Just a coincidence,” she whispered to herself as she rummaged for the penlight in her purse, “no reason to get excited; lights burn out all the time.”

Shelly and Burton Thomasin had been married for one month. Neither family had supported their engagement or marriage. Their courtship had been a struggle and their decision to wed had only set off a contest as to which family was the most disappointed. Shelly's family thought Burton's family was odd: they were immigrants and their English was rough. Burton's family thought Shelly's family was crass and nouveau riche.

Using the penlight, she made her way to the door. The light dimmed and threatened to go out. She felt her mouth go dry and she froze in place when she heard breathing; something above her. Dust cascaded gently down in front of her dimming light. It was behind her now, she was certain. Something powerful and supernaturally evil.

Cold fingers wrapped around her throat as fingernails dug into her flesh. She was trapped.

She tried to resist, her body would not move. Her pulse raced; her blood throbbed through her neck, her palms wet with panic. What would it do?

She felt its breath against her shoulder. Another hand lifted her hair from her neck. She tried to scream, her throat was silent. She dropped the light and it shattered on the floor. Utter darkness surrounded her. She reached for the wall. It must be here. Yes, the brush saw!

Her fingers grasped the saw's handle and with one great sweeping arch, she spun her body to confront her attacker. She slipped on the floor, and smashed her knee into the concrete. Crying out in pain, she dropped the saw. She was going to die. She would die in this garage. A young, helpless bride doomed to extinction before her honeymoon had ended.

She heard its steps touching lightly on the floor. It was behind her!

She sat motionless. She did not breathe. What would it do? Can it see her? Doesn't everything need light to see? She ran her fingers over the garage floor. Where was the saw? It was deadly. It would rip and cut flesh. She would be relentless. It had dropped into a box of flower bulbs. She felt the handle. Carefully, she pulled it from the box, and prepared to begin swinging viciously at the attacker.

Wait, just wait.

Seconds later, it grabbed her and struggled to force its fangs into her neck. She had the saw; but it was useless! She couldn't get to her attacker. She swung it wildly behind her back. The saw grazed it and the fiend screamed out in pain. She broke free, stood up and swung, hitting an arm. The beast leapt through a window and ran from the garage into the night.

"How?" she wondered, then she smelled the garlic bulbs.

Poetry

bennyIf you have ever known a dog who read your mind or anticipated your moves, then you know how strong a bond can be between people and dogs.

I titled this poem "A Cherished Companion" because he was my companion. For years he laid next to my chair in the office while I wrote stories.

I still miss him.

Will Rogers is credited with saying, "If dogs do not go to heaven, then I'd rather go where they go." I couldn't agree more.

D. A. Blankinship

A Cherished Companion

We saw you first, on an April day;
We chose you and took you away.
We packed you up, into the car,
Drove down the road, to a place, afar.

We carried you in, to a house all new;
You sniffed and searched, for another like you.
Food and water and a chewy bone,
There wasn't a moment when you were alone.

You wept that night, whimpered so sad,
We heard your grief, missing mom and dad.
You thought you were abandoned, a lonely time,
We whispered assurances, you would be fine.

Weeks and months passed, you played and grew,
We were the pack, with so much to do.
We formed a strong bond, people and place,
We knew your mood by the look on your face.

You watched the house when we were away,
When we arrived home, grab the Kong, let's play.
We shared steaks and broccoli, other strange foods,
You studied us and you knew our moods.

We moved across country, we traveled for days,
You were always impatient to be on your way.
We'd park at the rest stops, for drinks, runs, and pee,
You'd pace by the car, let's go was your plea!

A new home and smells, grass, shrubs, and trees,
So many things: squirrels, birds, wasps, and bees.
You chased all the critters that dared to trespass,
Running rings around trees, muddy paths in the grass.

Time seemed eternal, idyllic, no end;
No one could see the end of this friend.
On a cool spring morning, we called, you delayed;
Rushed to the hospital, surgery, you stayed.

Days and weeks passed, as you slipped away;
No chasing the Kong, you were too weak to play.
Your eyes twinkled love, now you assured me,
We knew you were leaving, but how could that be?

We had scratched your belly and tickled your ears,
We had watched you grow older for more than eight years.
We had watched you swim, saw you smile and frown;
Now we watched you fail, as your body shut down.

Shouldn't great dogs have a life without end?
Isn't this a reward we would give to a friend?
The house seems less lively; he's not at the door;
But, he's not really gone; just not here anymore.

We have been fortunate to have had many dogs as part of our family. Three years ago, we added two more German Shepherd Dogs, Crusoe and Ruger. They are brothers and like siblings everywhere, they have not yet agreed on who is the 'top dog.' I wrote this ballad for them when they were about six-months old.

D. A. Blankinship

Crusoe and Ruger

The Ballad of Crusoe and Ruger

Hyper in the morning, and they're fussing to get out;
Knock each other over as they scamper all about.
Rushing to get outside, then they lay beneath a tree,
And I stand there asking, "Have you forgotten how to pee?"

Crusoe and Ruger they are brothers in a race,
They know what really matters is goin' in the right place.
They eat and poop and run and bark and drink all through the day,
And even though it's late at night, they don't want sleep, just play.

Spent the morning in their kennels and it's time to gulp some chow;
So they run around the kitchen spill their water--"grab a towel!"
Then they race out to the backyard and they try to catch a bird,
Then they pause for just a moment they both squat and wag their tails.

It's afternoon and raining and nature calls out loud;
Lightening and thunder, rain pours down from the clouds.
But, these two happy puppies run fearless through the door,
They return in fifteen minutes, scattering mud across the floor.

It's evening and it's quiet so the pups must be outside.
They run and dig and bark and bite, and when we call, they hide.
They know it's dark, it's bedtime; they want to play, they're pups.
Still they run into their kennels, piece of hot dog, snap it up!

Crusoe and Ruger they are brothers in a race,
They know what really matters is goin' in the right place.
They eat and poop and run and bark and drink all through the day,
And even though it's late at night, they don't want sleep, just play.

Satire

Bartholomew Gildoff Heraldisturn (Faux Obituary)

LACUNAE, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Bartholomew Gildoff Heraldisturn (or “Giddy” as he was known to both of his friends), passed away peacefully in his sleep, last Friday, while driving home from the successful revival-screening of his directorial début, “Blackout!”

Giddy was born July 9, 1908 in a small hamlet in middle-state New York. He attended school where many of his teachers recalled his quick mind and curious habit of talking to his hands.

Best known for his groundbreaking work in silent film ventriloquism, Giddy was a Hollywood idol and perennial favorite of the hard of hearing.

A life-long member of Our Church of Perpetual Misconceptions, Giddy sang in the hand-bell choir and lead the restoration effort that removed the stains from the stained-glass windows.

Giddy is survived by his wife, Evelyn, who took a cab home; his brother, Alex, of Newport Beach, Oklahoma; and six children, each of whom declined to be named.

His visionary documentary, “Blackout!” was a critically acclaimed film about power outages in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the film’s reputation was marred years after its release by the admission by the camera operator that he had forgotten to remove the lens cap.

Often sited for his memorable quotation, “I am under the general impression that the impressions have been too general,” few people claimed to understand anything written or spoken by Giddy, though many others were just indifferent.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Screen Actors Guild; though it is not likely they will ever admit Giddy into the Guild. Memorial gifts may also be made to organizations that work for the blind.

The Heraldisturn family wishes to remind everyone that Giddy never supported any cause that was not good and kind. They further note that Giddy was confused during the two years that he was the national spokesperson for the American Nazi Party; he had not seen a written description of the group and thought it was working against visual impairments (American Not See Party).

Graveside services will be conducted during the burial and well-wishers are asked to keep their frivolity to themselves.

Bertha Blanche Beckett (Faux Obituary)

MIA CULPA HEIGHTS, CALIFORNIA—Bertha Blanche Beckett died in her home as the result of a misdiagnosed recovery from a rare form of swine flu. The 104-year-old Ms. Beckett argued unsuccessfully, that since “pigs don’t fly, who could believe any doctor who says ‘swine flew?’”

Ms. Beckett worked for six years as a school crossing guard. To her credit, not one crossing was stolen during her tenure. Her talents were recognized at an early age when she was promoted from School Crossing Guard to Head of Swing Set Security, and later to the elite Teeter-Totter Terrorism Task Force. She was credited with pioneering the rocket-assisted teeter-totter evacuation protocol adopted by the school district.

She retired from public school security work when a rocket malfunction led to confusion about crediting a third-grade student with being the first American to go into orbit just two days before John Glenn’s carefully documented success.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, well-wishers may leave cash or beer.

Services will be held at the Mountain Valley Crematory and Composting Center and internment will not be necessary.