A. L. Kaplan Wins This Week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge.

AL Kaplan is the readers’ choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge.

The winning entry is rewarded with a special feature in their site today and a place in there collection of winners which will be published as an e-book at year end.

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PASTRY WARS

“Pies of the world unite! For years we’ve been upstaged at every party. It’s time we take back our glory. We should be at the center of celebrations, not relegated to some back-shelf. By the time we’re done, those smug little cakes are going to lose their frosting.”

“Can’t we all just get along? You know, play cards or something.”

“This isn’t a game, Chess. It certainly wasn’t a game when Uncle Bing proposed a merger with that two timing Chocolate Cake. Poor Black Forest still doesn’t know who his true father is. Cake has betrayed us at every turn and I’m not going to stand for it any longer. Now who is with me?”

“The Apple is in, dearie. And I’ve almost finished knitting our flag.”

“Thanks, Grannie. It’s beautiful.”

“You can count on us.”

“Glad to hear, Rhubarb. And congratulations to you and your blushing bride, Peach. Aw, nuts. Pecan! Shoo Fly! Get these bugs out of here. This is a bakery not a dump. Custard and Cream, you two man the beaters.”

“Will do.”

“Cookie.”

“Sir, yes sir.”

“Oh for goodness sakes, stop sir sandwiching and grab that glass of milk.”

“Sir, yes sir.”

“Pumpkin, wipe that silly grin off your face. Has anyone seen Coconut?”

“The wacko is hanging from the lamp again.”

“No need to be so tart, Lemon. Coconut! Quit goofing around and get the rolling pin. Mince, hand out the knives. It’s time to crumb some cake.”

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WHAT HAPPENED TO COURTESY?

A recent flight cross-country made we wonder what some people are thinking. In an age of electronic gismos you’d think folks would remember common courtesy, but that is far from the case. There were children on this flight and children are, well, children. A certain amount of squiggling is expected on a long flight. The occasional, yet gentle, butt-massage from the kid behind me wasn’t a problem, and even my daughter could overlook the repeated hammering on her seat. It was the noise that we found irritating. I’m not talking about screams or cries, or even loud talking. This was very loud movies and TV shows playing on various devises. Hey, it’s nice that airplanes now have Wi-Fi and lots of folks have tablets with millions of downloads. That’s great, really. But that doesn’t mean everyone else wants to listen to your favorite movie for five hours. I don’t fault the kids for these behaviors, they don’t know any better. It’s the parents I hold responsible. I mean, what ever happened to earphones?

In this case, the parents wanted to watch the movie too. The parents didn’t think about others trying to sleep, read, or otherwise concentrate on other things. So where does this leave our kids?

Courtesy to others is an important lesson that needs to be taught to our youth. It starts at home. Get some earphones and start using them. Teach your kids to use them. Go buy a splitter so you can listen with your kids and friends without forcing everyone around you to partake. Otherwise, watch a silent movie.

 

PS: Last night, in a nice Italian restaurant with my husband, guess what we were treated to? –a twenty something couple watching a video on their phone with the volume high enough to hear across the room. Sigh.

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Restaurant Review: Peking Chef — If You Like Bland Food This Place Is For You

Peking Chef restaurant says it specializes in Hunan, Szechuan and Cantonese Cuisine, but we found their food bland. They also offer sushi.

On a recent Sunday evening my family and I decided to give Peking Chef a try. Located in a corner of the Hickory Ridge Village Center at 6420 Freetown road in Columbia, MD, Peking Chef’s décor is clean and spacious with a clear Asian influence. We were greeted and seated right away, in the nearly empty restaurant. That’s about where the high points end. When we looked around to order, no one was in sight. Even the sushi chef had left his station. Eventually someone showed up and we placed our order.

First out was my husband’s Hot and Sour soup which was heated with black pepper but otherwise unseasoned. My daughter’s Egg Drop soup was flavorless. They were almost finished with their soup before my Chicken with Corn soup arrived. Any longer and I would have sent it back untouched. I found it bland with a hint of corn flavor and the unpleasant texture of dry chicken crumbles.

For appetizers we ordered fried dumplings and Barbecued Spareribs. While the filling for the dumpling had an ok flavor, the dipping sauce was mostly vinegar. I ended up using strait soy sauce instead. The ribs were dry and completely tasteless. Even duck sauce couldn’t save them, especially not the thin watery kind they offered.

Portions on the main course were very good sized for the price. Sadly, the Soft Shell Crab with Ginger Scallion Sauce had a soggy gummy texture. It was slathered in a sauce that would have benefited from much more ginger and scallions. The Shrimp Pad Thai had lots of large shrimp tossed with Chow Foon noodles. Other than a slight smoky flavor, it was bland as well.

Overall we found both the food and service unimpressive. We didn’t sample any of their sushi, but judging by the lack of turnover, I wouldn’t want to try it.

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An Important Job

Soot billowed up with every step Jim took. He tightened the rag covering his face and trudged on. Nothing could keep the noxious partials from seeping into every crevasse of his clothes. Before he was even halfway to his destination his skin felt gritty and uncomfortable.

Satellite dishes studded the barren landscape. Most of the huge white structures sported mounds of debris. They were meant to detect incoming enemy missiles so the projectiles could be destroyed before obliterating humanity. Disaster came anyway, but not from an attack.

He closed his eyes, remembering the day the world ended. Explosions roared across the planet, jettisoning debris from the bowels of the earth into the sky like an unkempt pimple. Earth’s skin contorted with waves. Yellowstone vanished in seconds, along with most of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

It was only by some strange twist of fate that the satellite dishes survived. Even Jim’s survival was a quirk. A colleague called in sick last minute, putting Jim at the monitoring station when the super volcano erupted. Designed to withstand a nuclear holocaust, the underground bunker was well protected and stocked. Too bad the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the country.

Jim climbed up into one of the dishes and pulled a shovel from his pack. There was no one left to fire missiles, but it was still his job to maintain these machines. With each shovelful he removed debris, letting bits of his sanity drift in the breeze with the dust.

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Dragonfly Arts Magazine: Reflections on Life, Love, Trauma and Hope

Dragonfly Arts Magazine: Reflections on Life, Love, Trauma and Hope was recently published by Hope Works. Hope Works is dedicated to eliminating sexual and domestic violence in Howard County, Maryland. This insightful collection of poetry and art touches not only on the many aspects of abuse, but on renewal and healing as well. Dragonfly Arts Magazine was made possible by the Howard County Arts Council through a grant from Howard County Government.

 

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THE DONKEY CURSE

Incessant braying rouses me from slumber. Hot smelly breath wafts over my face. Waving at the offending odor earns another head splitting shriek. I pry open my eyes and stare at a pair of mournful brown globes on a long gray furry face. Nonsensical images flash through my mind as my head smacks the roof of the pickup. Another plaintive bray sends goose bumps up my spine…a very naked spine. Memories of last night escape me.

An old gypsy shoves the donkey away. Her bony fingers clench the edge of the car. The look in her eyes makes me shiver. Even the jingle of the silver bangles, that hang from her ears and arms, makes my skin crawl. I break from her gaze and watch a bronze medallion sway across her chest.

“You soulless wretch. You’ll pay for what you did.”

“I didn’t do anything.” At least that’s what I try to say. The words come out garbled.

The crone laughs and steps back. I jump from the car and run. Within three steps I trip over my own legs…all four of them. Head spinning, I lay on the sandy ground. I’m a donkey, a god damn donkey.

“You treated my granddaughter poorly last night. I gave you a body to fit your actions. You’ll need to earn your way back to human form.”

A coarse rope pulls me to my feet and down the road to a raven haired woman. Bruises model one side of her face and nail gouges mar both arms. Memories return. I did that. I back away and pray for escape, for another glass of whiskey. All I find is the crack of a whip.

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