Thursday, December 30, 2010

Zanter Klauzen (Part 6)

Stranded in a cabin deep in a Minnesota wood, a woman and her two children face an uncertain Christmas. With their supplies dwindling she began to pray that they would survive to see the new year. Then he appeared, a strange man lurking in the shadows of the snow covered firs. How long would he watch them before making his move?

The story begins HERE

Things could have been, should have been different, much different. Norma was long on convictions, but much too short on compassion. Wasn't it bad enough that she'd driven him away so long ago? No, she had to do the same to their daughter.

He wiped away a tear lest it freeze upon his cheek. Through forlorn eyes he looked back at the cabin. A blast of arctic wind pushed aside a few of the tree's branches. He could just make out the snow-covered roof of the small structure.

He had built the cabin. He had spent his life savings to purchase the land. With his own two hands he had cleared the land, had hewn the fallen trees into the logs, and had created a secluded home for them in the forest. He had built it for her.

They had made love for the first time in that cabin. How long ago was it? Thirty years? Time may have clouded his memory of the year, but he remembered that their tender embraces took place on that very date, on Christmas Eve.

What happened that night while they slept? What came over her? When the rays of the rising sun peeked through the boughs of the stately firs, it was as if he'd awakened next to a stranger. She had accused him of taking advantage of her ... that he'd raped her!

She'd allowed him to take her home through the woods in his horse-drawn sleigh. She had vowed that she would never speak of what happened on the condition that he'd never see her again. If he refused her wishes, she would report his crime to her father and to the police.

Rebecca and Jon were trembling in her arms. They could hear the footfalls of the intruders on hardwood floors of the main room. Marilee squeezed them tighter in an attempt to comfort them. She could hear the voices of the men and strained to make out what they were saying.

"Jim, I don't think we should have broken into this place," said one of them.

"Nonsense," retorted the other, "who will know?"

"I don't know. No one, I guess. It's just that the place gives me the creeps."

"Ha!" the second man snapped. "Billy, are you afraid of the old man?"

"Knock it off. Of course not."

Jim slapped his nervous companion on the shoulder and announced, "It's perfect, don't you think? It'll make a great hunting lodge."

"Well, yeah," Billy nodded, "but do you really think we can buy the place?"

"Yes. Money talks and we've got the money. We'll make them an offer they can't refuse."

"Okay, if you say so," he shrugged. "Look, it's getting late and I don't want to be wandering around in these woods in the dark. Let's get out here."

The one named Jim looked around the room and said, "Look at that, would you? We have fresh logs next to the fireplace. We can start a fire, spend the night and take off in the morning."

Marilee, her ear pressed against the wall, gasped when she heard his words. They couldn't stay in their hiding place all night. She had to take action. She had to drive them away, but what could she do against the two men? She couldn't just march in there and tell them to leave. Could she?

She could just barely see the flashing lights as she came out of the curve. She stepped on the brake and exhaled a sigh of relief that she managed to slide short of the vehicle parked in the road. Through the heavy falling snow she recognized that it was a New Ulm police cruiser.

Flashlight in hand the officer approached her and waved. "Ms Jorgensen, why are you out in this awful blizzard? It isn't safe."

"I might ask, why in the devil are you parked in the middle of the road in this awful blizzard, Sergeant Barker? I wouldn't call that very safe?" she quipped in her usual sarcastic tone.

He ignored her sarcasm and cleared his throat. "We have every available officer in New Ulm and Mankato out on the roads. We're looking for two men."

"Oh? ...And why are you after these men?"

He leaned closer to her open window and replied, "About two hours ago two armed men held up the Cooperative Bank in New Ulm. The bank manager thinks they got away with about twenty-five thousand dollars."

She raised her hand to her mouth, "My goodness, how awful. You think they are still in the area and near here?"

His face was grim when he answered, "They were seen heading in this direction. We found their car abandoned about a mile ahead. The idiots ran out of gas."

"I shouldn't think they'll get too far on foot," she mused, "especially in this weather."

"True, but the snow is covering up their tracks almost as soon as they leave them," Barker asserted.

"Oh, dear. I really must get home. My daughter and my two grandchildren are there. They won't know what's happening."

The officer stepped aside, "Be careful driving. I suggest you lock down your cabin and stay alert. I'll send a unit over your way to check on you as soon as possible."

( To be continued ... Part 7 )


Monday, December 27, 2010

Zanter Klauzen (Part 5)

Stranded in a cabin deep in a Minnesota wood, a woman and her two children face an uncertain Christmas. With their supplies dwindling she began to pray that they would survive to see the new year. Then he appeared, a strange man lurking in the shadows of the snow covered firs. How long would he watch them before making his move?

The story begins HERE

Norma Jorgensen looked up at the sky. She didn't need to see the ominous clouds looming in the northern sky to know that a powerful winter storm was on the way. She didn't need to look at a barometer to know that there was a significant change of atmospheric pressure. To the contrary, she could feel it in her joints.

Her daughter used to laugh at her when she made her weather forecasts based solely on her aches and pains. Marilee would never comment when her weather predictions were accurate. On the other hand, she would be quick to cite any that proved to be incorrect.

She felt her heart flutter and she smiled. It would be good to see her daughter and her two adorable grandchildren. Her smile waned and she felt a tear forming in the corner of her eye. Why had she waited so long to contact her?

She wasn't sure if Marilee would come. Her daughter would've been justified to have ignored her letter and tossed it in the trash. What right had she, as a mother who'd abandoned her daughter, to expect her to come running to her? Had the roles been reversed, she was certain that she herself would not have made the trek.

She wiped away the single tear trickling down her cheek. Because she'd virtually used them up years ago, her present day tears were precious and few. The burden of her past actions and stubborn convictions weighed heavily upon her heart. It was she who'd driven away everyone she'd ever loved and as such, everyone who might have loved her in return.

She would never be able to undo the great wrong she'd done to her late husband, but perhaps there was a chance that she could make things right with her daughter. Although there was a chance her attempts of atonement would be rejected, she knew she had to try.

By the time she had loaded the bundles of groceries into her truck, the first of the snow had begun to fall. She grimaced and rubbed her shoulder. As usual, she and the weatherman were in accord. She had one more stop to make, a visit to the mall to buy some gifts for the children, before she could head home.
Zanter Klauzen trudged through the deep snow ahead of the two men. They displayed little regard for him, despite the fact that no one knew these wood better than he. It was obvious to him that they were part of the younger generation who had no respect for the elderly.

"It's not much further," he grumbled over his shoulder. "The cabin is in the clearing behind that stand of firs."

When they reached the small clearing, they moved hurriedly past him. One of them pushed aside a snow-laden branch which sprung back at him. A spray of snow flew into his face. He shook the snow from his long gray whiskers but no gesture of apology was forthcoming. Without even a cursory nod of gratitude, they left him standing amid the low branches of the tall evergreen.

"Harrumph!" he muttered. "I got you here. Let's see you find your way out of these woods without me."

He turned and retraced the footprints they'd left in the snow. He shook his head and mumbled some obscenities. He'd tried to tell them that Norma would have never had any interest in selling the place. They didn't want to hear it.

Marilee had been looking out the window when the two men emerged from the woods. What were they doing out here and on foot? She was filled with a sudden and great fear.

It had been two days since she last seen the old man. Although he'd shown no signs of aggression she'd been uneasy over his presence just the same. These two men, however, she feared were much more of a threat to her and her children.

Jon and Rebecca were too preoccupied with their crayons and coloring books to notice that their mother was keeping at an uneasy vigil at the window. Had they looked up, they would have seen her rocking back and forth on her heels.

She was greatly relieved to get away from the mall. The place had been crawling with people, all last-minute shoppers like herself. She hated crowds. It was the reason that she had moved to Minnesota and had bought the little cabin in the woods in the first place.

In the wind-swept snow the visibility was reduced to little more than a hundred yards. She could just barely make out the exit sign from the parking lot onto the road that would take her home.

She started the truck and waited for the interior of the cab to heat up before shifting into drive. Although her body shivered from the frigid temperature, she basked in the warmness that had been glowing within her heart.

From a payphone in the mall she had called the airline and a kind young woman had confirmed to her that the parties had indeed boarded the plane. According to the woman the plane was due to land before the storm arrived. They were probably already at the cabin, she thought.

The men were getting closer. Panic was beginning to set in but she knew she had to stay calm. She and her children were alone and defenseless against the two men.

"Rebecca! Jon!" she called out to them. "I want you to show me that hiding place you found in the closet."

"What's wrong, mommy?" Rebecca asked dropping her box of crayons onto the floor. She then went to her knees in an attempt to gather the wax implements.

"Leave them!" Marilee screeched.

Jon began to cry and whimpered, "Mommy, I'm scared. Why do we have to hide?"

"Hurry! Please hurry," she cried. "it's not safe!"

She followed the kids into the smaller of the bedrooms. Rebecca opened the closet door and allowed Jon to enter ahead of her. At the back of the closet Jon pushed his hands against a section of paneling. It swung aside to reveal a space nearly as large as the interior of the closet itself.

Once the panel was closed behind them she sat down on the floor and huddled the kids in the crooks of her arms. She didn't know why there would be a secret hiding place in her mother's cabin, but she was grateful that her curious children had somehow discovered it.

"Shh," she shushed them, "be very, very quiet. Maybe they'll go away."

She tensed when she heard the rattle of the front door. Rebecca and Jon were trembling when there was a series of forceful bangs upon the door. She relaxed when several minutes passed without a sound emanating from beyond their dark sanctuary. Then there was the sound of breaking glass.

She tightened her embrace on the kids and uttered, "My God, they've broken the window! They are coming in through the window!"

( To be continued ... Part 6 )


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Zanter Klauzen (Part 4)

Stranded in a cabin deep in a Minnesota wood, a woman and her two children face an uncertain Christmas. With their supplies dwindling she began to pray that they would survive to see the new year. Then he appeared, a strange man lurking in the shadows of the snow covered firs. How long would he watch them before making his move?

The story begins HERE

She didn't want to upset Rebecca and Jon and decided not to mention the figure in the woods. As such, she willed herself to take on an aura of holiday cheer. She hoped it would help to ease her own tension and fear.

Her suggestion for the three of them to finish trimming the tree was met with excited fervor by the kids. The laughter of her children was infectious and in short order she found herself immersed in the festive practice. She knew she would've never been able to get them to wait until she'd strung the lights around the tree before they started hanging the ornaments, but somehow she managed to accomplish the deed.

With Jon shrieking and Rebecca jumping about, she crawled beneath the tree and plugged the end of the lights into the outlet. Despite the uneven arrangement of the ornaments and tinsel, the multi-colored lights seemed to magically bring the tree to life. She made a mental note to relocate some of the ornaments and to redistribute the foil tinsel after the kids were in bed.

Her son folded his arms across his chest and announced, "It would look better with presents under the tree."

She knelt beside him and whispered, "Santa Claus doesn't bring the presents until Christmas Eve." She knew her mother would return to the cabin with her vehicle loaded with presents for the grandchildren she'd never seen. "Don't worry, he always come through."

She looked up to see the scowl on Rebecca's face. Thankfully, the shaking of her head and the wink of her eye was understood as a message to keep quiet by the eldest of her two children. Her lower lip extended into a pout, she nodded and winked back to her mother.

Marilee stood up and announced, "You must be hungry, kids. Let's go see what your grandmother has in the house for us to eat."

Fortunately her mother had left some cold cuts and bread in the refrigerator. While she prepared sandwiches Jon found some chips and in greedily tearing open the bag the contents were sent flying all over the table. His face turned ashen and tears welled up in his eyes.

"Don't cry, Jon," she said to him. "It's okay."

"But, mommy," he whimpered, "I did a bad thing. Santa doesn't give presents to bad boys."

"Jon, honey, it was an accident. Santa knows the difference," she replied trying to comfort him. Once again she found herself fending off any protest from Rebecca, this time by arching her eyebrows and raising a finger to her lips.

After they had finished eating Rebecca began to explore the confines of the cabin. In the smallest of the bedrooms she opened a closet and found some crayons and a couple of coloring books. She and her brother settled into the sofa with the found treasure. Marilee was happy that they had something to occupy themselves, if even for a little while.

With the children tucked in bed for the night, it was with heavy heart that she put on the kettle to have a cup of tea. Rebecca had questioned why she was allowing Jon to believe in Santa Claus. Their father had told her long ago that the bearded man in the red suit wasn't real.

She responded to her by saying that without his father he needed something to believe in, something to look forward to. She reminded her that in time, when he turned a little older, he would learn the truth. She then begged her daughter not to burst her little brother's bubble.

However, it was Jon's last words before falling asleep that had nearly brought her to tears. He'd whispered to her, "Mommy, I wish Daddy was here." She'd had to choke back the tears when she'd responded, "Me too, Jon. Me too."

Saucer in hand and the cup of tea raised to her lips she reflected on her life, especially the last eleven years. She glanced at the decorated tree in the corner and sighed. It was Christmas. It had always been Christmas.

True to his faith, Joseph her husband might have denied the spirituality of the holiday, but he had embraced its commercialism and as such his business had flourished. He had insisted that when they had children they should share his beliefs. On the other hand, her mother had insisted that any children born of their union should be taught the numinous meaning of the season.

So it came to pass, before their marriage and long before the birth of their children, that her mother had disavowed her own daughter. So it was, that she was standing there in that cabin, eleven years later, waiting for her estranged mother to come walking through that door. Her emotions were mixed. She longed to see her mother, and yet she dreaded the meeting.

Wondering what the conditions outside might be, she ambled to the window. She balanced the cup and saucer in one hand while pushing aside the curtains with the other.

She cried out and the objects in her hand fell to the floor. The man had returned. His face was pressed against the window pane looking in at her. She then felt a sudden dizziness.

Marilee opened her eyes. She was in bed. Sitting up she folded her arms and squeezed her palms on each of her elbows. She drew in a gulp of air and slowly exhaled. It had been a dream. She didn't remember going to bed, but she realized she had been tired and must have foregone the tea.

She stretched her arms above her head and smiled. She felt refreshed and well rested. She decided that it was the perfect time to have that cup of tea. Pulling the blankets aside she swung her feet onto the floor and glanced at her watch. It was six o'clock. She grimaced, for she didn't didn't know if it was morning or the evening.

She brought her hands to her mouth as she passed through the bedroom door. Across the room, on the floor beneath the window, lie a broken saucer and cup. A puddle of liquid surrounded the shards of china. It had not been a dream!

She gasped as her eyes fell upon another puddle, and another ... and still another. There was a trail of the puddles originating from the direction of the door. The liquid tracks ended on the other side of the room by the fireplace. The bin had been filled to capacity with fresh logs.

( To be continued ... Part 5 )


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

General Claus

December SpecOp Task Orders info
Army Christmas Operations Order 00-5689:
Subject: Christmas

1. An official visit by MG Santa (NMI) Claus is expected at this headquarters 25 December 2010. The following instructions will be in effect and govern the activities of all personnel during the visit.
a. Not a creature will stir without official permission. This will include indigenous mice. Special stirring permits for necessary administrative actions will be obtained through the C1. Mice stirring permits will be processed through the C2 for proper clearances and obtained through Veterinary Services, ARCENT-KU.

b. Personnel will settle their brains for a long winter nap prior to 2200 hours, 24 December 2010. See MAJ Dickenson for pre-napping medical requirements. See MAJ Adams for napping demonstration. Uniform for the nap will be: Pajamas, cotton, light, drowsing, with kerchief, general purpose, camouflage; and Cap, camouflage w/ear flaps. Equipment should have been drawn from homestation CIF prior to deployment.

c. Personnel will utilize standard Sharq Market sugar plums for visions to dance through their heads. Artificially sweetened plums are authorized for those in the unit weight control program. Specifications for this item will be provided by the servicing dining facility.

d. Stockings, wool, cushion sole, will be hung by the chimney with care. Necessary safety precautions will be taken to avoid fire hazards caused by carelessly hung stockings. ARCENT-KU safety officer will submit stocking hanging plans to this headquarters prior to 0800 hours, 24 December 2010, ATTN: MAJ Salada, for approval.

e. At the first sign of clatter from the lawn, all troops will spring from their beds to evaluate noise and cause. Immediate action will be taken to tear open the shutters and throw open the window sashes. PMO Plan (Saint Nick), Reference LO No. 3, paragraph 6c, this headquarters, 2 February 1998, will be in effect to facilitate shutter tearing and sash throwing. Section OICs will familiarize all personnel with procedures and are responsible for ensuring that no shutters are torn open nor window sashes thrown open prior to start of official clatter. See CPT Donley for hard copy.

f. Prior to 2400, 24 December 2010, all personnel will be assigned "Wondering Eye" stations. After shutters are thrown open and sashes are torn, these stations will be manned.

g. SSG Bekono will assign one each Sleigh, miniature, M-66, and eight (8) deer, rein, tiny, for use of MG Claus' driver who, in accordance with current directives and other applicable regulations, must have a valid SF56 properly annotated by Driver Testing; be authorized rooftop parking and be able to shout "On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, up Comet, up Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen".
2. MG Claus will enter quarters through standard chimneys. All units without chimneys will draw Chimney Simulator, M-6, for use during ceremonies. Chimney simulator units will be requested through SPC Oswalt on Job Order Request Form submitted to the Furniture Warehouse prior to 19 December 2010, and issued on DA Form 3161, Request for Issue or Turn-in.

3. Personnel will be rehearsed on shouting "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night." See LTC Pride for demonstration. This shout will be given on termination of General Claus' visit. Uniformity of shouting is the responsibility of section NCOICs.

Colonel, USA
OIC, Special Services Distribution:
Everybody Who Still Believes

...And now ... For something different


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Zanter Kaluzen (Part 3)

Stranded in a cabin deep in a Minnesota wood, a woman and her two children face an uncertain Christmas. With their supplies dwindling she began to pray that they would survive to see the new year. Then he appeared, a strange man lurking in the shadows of the snow covered firs. How long would he watch them before making his move?

The story begins HERE

Was this to be her day of reckoning? Was this her punishment for not trying to mend the relationship with her mother? Wasn't it her mother who had driven the wedge between them? Wasn't it her mother who'd walked out the door and never looked back?

... And surely God would not want her children to suffer! They were so young and so innocent. Why should the kids be punished? They had nothing to do with her relationship with her mother. They hadn't even been conceived.

Her mother had disapproved of the young man to whom she'd become engaged. She'd told her that she could not marry him because she was Christian and that he was a Jew! Defiantly Marilee had said to her mother, "For God's sake, mom. It's the twentieth century. That kind of thinking went out with the horse and buggy!"

Her mother had never laid a hand on her until that moment. The resounding slap across her face was painless compared to her mother's retort the day before her wedding, "I am not your mother! I have no daughter!"

The tears on her cheeks felt as if they were going to freeze. What had she been thinking? Her mother had had some nerve expecting her to drop everything, to hop on an airplane and to visit her in the middle of nowhere! Yet, there she and her children were - trapped in a snowbank in the middle of that nowhere. Another stream of tears formed as she realized the irony that her mother would soon have no daughter.

She felt warmth? Was that the last thing one felt before dying? She dared to open her eyes to see if there really was a light into which she would pass into an afterlife. There, to her right was a light! It was almost blinding!

She brushed away the snow covering her body. Strange, she thought, that it wasn't cold but was warm and it felt like down. She arose and took tentative steps in the direction of the light that beckoned her. She pulled aside the gossamer webbing before the portal.

She gasped! Someone on the other side was looking back at her. The kind face was old and was framed by long grayish white hair and whiskers. She could sense goodness in the countenance of the man. She began to tremble. Was she looking upon the face of God?

She blinked only once, but in that trice he was gone. She reached out to allow her hand to be bathed in the light. Unexpectedly, there was resistance as her fingers came in contact with some cold barrier. Confused, she backed away. It was glass, the glass of a window and the webbing was curtains!

Half giggling, half sobbing she realized that she wasn't dead. She was alive! Spinning around she gazed upon the four-poster bed in which she'd been lying. Pushed aside, atop the bed was a white down comforter. Her surroundings began to come into focus and to register. She was surrounded by paneled walls and above her was a high cathedral ceiling.

A sense of loneliness came over her. Where were the kids? At the very same instant that she thought of her children, Rebecca and Jon, she could hear their voices calling her from beyond the closed door at the far side of the room.

"Mommy! Mommy! Come and see!" they shouted in unison.

She raced across the room and bolted through the door. Throwing her arms around them, she swept them from the floor and squeezed them in a long embrace. Despite her efforts to hold them and not let go of them, the two of them managed to wrestle free of her arms.

"Mommy!" Jon shrieked, "Look at our Christmas tree!"

In the corner to her left stood a seven-foot fir tree. There were a few ornaments dangling from the lowermost branches obviously taken form the several open boxes which were lined against the wall next to the tree. From the smiles on their faces there was no doubt that they had been busy trying to decorate the tree.

She didn't want to ruin their fun, but they didn't belong there in some stranger's house. They were trespassing. She didn't know how they got there, but she knew they couldn't stay.

"Rebecca, Jon, find your shoes and coats," she barked at them. When they made no move she raised her voice, "Hurry, we have to leave this place!"

"But, mommy," Rebecca whimpered, "grandma invited us to come here. Why can't we stay?"

Little Jon grabbed a piece of paper from a table and waved it about, "She left us a note. She said we should decorate the Christmas tree."

She took the note from her son and studied the handwritten lines upon it. It was her mother's penmanship, of that there was no doubt. She moved to the table and picked up one of several envelopes neatly arranged next to a small lamp. It was a utility bill. The addressee, visible through the envelope's window was that of Ms Norma Jorgensen, her mother.

She backed into an armchair near the fireplace and looked upon the burning logs neatly stacked within the hearth. An uneasy sense of security comforted her for a few minutes. Her mind was racing a mile a minute. How had they escaped from the snowbound vehicle? How had they climbed out of that ravine? How had they found their way to the safety of that cabin? What were the chances that they would happen to stumble upon her mother's home?

Her thoughts were interrupted by Jon. "Mommy, aren't you going read your note?"

Shaken from her silent reverie she reached for the piece of paper her young son was handing to her. The note, dated two days earlier, had also been written by her mother.

You will probably reach the cabin and read this before I make it back. I drove into New Ulm for some supplies and a few things for the kids. The weather report is calling for a nasty blizzard in these parts.

You will need to go to the shed out back to get some firewood for the fireplace. It gets very cold here in the winter. Be careful when you go outside. There are wolves out there in those woods.

Keep the door locked at all times. There is a nasty old recluse who lives somewhere out there in the woods. He has been known to break into the cabins in the area. Don't wander far from the house. He thinks the woods belong to him and doesn't like anyone to be on his land.

If the storm is as bad as predicted, I might not be able to make it home right away. If that happens I'll be staying at a friend's house in town until the weather clears. In any event, I should be there by the afternoon of the twenty-fourth at the latest.

Trembling, she stood up and shuffled across the room to the large door. Beyond that door she knew there was a landscape full of snow. She was overcome with a sense of dread wondering what else might be out there.

It was clear that her mother had not rescued them. That left the burning question, who then was it who'd managed to get them to the safety of the cabin? She glanced back at the fireplace. Who was it who'd had gathered the wood and had started the fire?

She folded her arms across her chest and clutched at her shoulders. That man, the face she'd seen through the window - was he the recluse her mother had mentioned? Had he pulled them from the rental vehicle? Had he brought them there to the cabin?

She pulled open the door and gazed upon a world covered in deep white drifts. A swirling wind carrying particles of the snow assailed her the moment the door swung open. She studied the scene before her. The path, such as it was, appeared virginal. She could detect no tracks or footprints. Of course, she reasoned, had there been any, the wind-driven snow would have covered up any traces in mere minutes.

She studied the tree line several hundred feet from the cabin. A stand of evergreens stretched in both directions as far she could see. She thought she caught sight of something moving behind one of the fir trees. She strained her eyes and stared at the spot. A figure in a long flowing coat turned and moved deeper into the wood.

She slammed the door shut and fumbled with the dead bolt. My God, she thought, he's watching us!

( To be continued ...) Part 4


Monday, December 20, 2010

Naughty ... NICE !

How To Tell If Santa Has Been Naughty or Nice.

Soot has been tracked all over your wife's brand new $1500 carpet.

You leave him milk and cookies ... and he eats the last drumstick and drinks your last beer!

The refrigerator door was left open.

The lock to the liquor cabinet has been picked.

The living room smells like a brewery.

Your teenage daughter's underwear drawer has been rifled.

One of your Playboy magazines (open to the centerfold) is on the bathroom floor in front of the toilet.

The toilet wasn't flushed and the seat was left in the up position.

Outlined in yellow, "Ho-Ho-Ho" was traced into the snow in your front yard.

Your mother-in-law comes out of the guest bedroom with a silly smile and muttering "He doesn't call ... He doesn't write ..."

Half of the bricks of your chimney are scattered in your back yard.

A pay-for-view XXX adult movie shows up on your cable bill for 3:30 AM on 12/25.

For 12/25 a $75 phone call on your next bill is to one of those 1-900 Phone Sex numbers.

In the spring you find that your clogged gutters and downspouts are the result of reindeer droppings.

The following September your unwed teenage daughter names her son Nicholas.
Perhaps we should give the old boy a break. He means well, especially when it comes to the kids. I suppose he can't be blamed for wanting to have a little fun - to unwind. How would you like to be cooped up in a small cabin with a bunch of elves all year long?
Santa Knows Where Naughty Girls Live.
And Naughty Girls Know When He's Coming.
He Might Punish The Naughty Girls ...

...Or He Might Forgive Them!

Don't Think he Doesn't Punish Little Boys ...

...Or The Grown Up Boys.
Yeah, let's give the old boy a break. When Christmas is over, the only thing he has to look forward to is the company of those elves and a team of reindeer.

364 days a year he has to be inventive to find release.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Zanter Klauzen (Part 2)

Stranded in a cabin deep in a Minnesota wood, a woman and her two children face an uncertain Christmas. With their supplies dwindling she began to pray that they would survive to see the new year. Then he appeared, a strange man lurking in the shadows of the snow covered firs. How long would he watch them before making his move?

The story begins HERE

Everything was white. She blinked her eyes when she realized that the deflated airbag was pressed against the side of her face. Pain shot through her neck causing her to yelp as she pushed away from the steering wheel.

"Jon! Rebecca!" she shouted. "Kids, answer me!"

Ignoring the pain she fumbled with the release for her seat belt and shoulder strap. Once freed from the restraints she twisted around to see how her kids were. Although they weren't moving, she could detect the rise and fall of their chests. At least they were breathing she thought!

When she called their names again, they began to stir. Tears of dread that had formed in her eyes turned into a stream of relief upon her cheeks and she cried out, "Thank God! Thank God, you're both okay!"

They did not respond, however. It was as if they were sleeping. She then realized that she was feeling weak and groggy. She was struggling to keep her eyes open. She was beginning to nod and was finding it difficult to function. She almost gave in to sleep.

She realized that there was a muffled sound and she could feel the vibrations. "Oh my, God!" she cried. She began to fumble for the key in the ignition. The engine was still running. She didn't know how long she'd been out, but chances were that the exhaust pipe was buried in the snow. It was obvious to her that they were slowly being poisoned by carbon monoxide seeping onto the vehicle.

She knew they had to get some fresh air. With the motor off, she groped for the handle to open the window. Her frantic efforts to find the handle were fruitless, however. Then she remembered - there was no handle. She emitted a sigh of relief when her hand found the rows of toggles on the arm rest.

Nothing happened when she manipulated each toggle switch in turn. Desperate she grabbed the handle to open the door and tried to push it open. It was stuck! She threw her shoulder against the door but it would not budge. She fell back in the seat with her head pressed against the headrest. She was exhausted. She could muster no more strenuous activity. She closed her eyes.
Marilee tried to fight the inevitable sleep consuming her. Had she been alone, she might well have given up, but the thought of her children meeting the same fate was not acceptable. There had to be a way to save them.

She strained, willing her brain to function. She knew she was overlooking something. What was she missing? Wait! That's it, she thought. Any other time it would have been a simple display of common sense, but at that moment it was a momentous brainstorm ... an epiphany.

She winced in pain as her fingers found the key still protruding from the ignition switch. She pinched it between her thumb and forefinger and turned it. She gasped in frustration. The key would not turn! Her hand fell onto her knee and she began to sob.

She shook her head and used her forearm to wipe away the tears on her cheeks. She couldn't give up! She had to try again! She grabbed the key again and jiggled it. My God, she thought. The key wasn't all the way in! She bit her lip in anxiety, for she didn't think she could take another setback.

A forced smile of relief formed on her lips when the key turned. As if adorned in festive holiday lights the dashboard came to life in a display of yellows, blues and greens. The fingers of her left hand began a frantic dance upon the panel of toggle switches.

The gentle whir of the electric servers announced that the window next to her was lowering. A sudden avalanche of snow began to cascade over the edge of the receding glass panel. She cried out in protest even as the snow surged onto her chest and into her lap.

Realizing that the snow must have drifted against the driver's side of the vehicle, she pulled back on the toggle switch to close the window. She brushed away as much of the cold snow from her body as possible. Shivering, she then manipulated the window for the passenger side. Another a wall of snow tumbled into the car and completely covered the passenger seat before she could close the window.

Overcome with a pall of terror, Marilee visualized that the entire vehicle must have been buried beneath the snow. Out of desperation she turned on the windshield wipers. To her relief, the wipers pushed aside a thin layer of snow from the windshield.

Through heavy eyelids she could make out a steep embankment illuminated by the headlight beams. She leaned forward trying to see the crest of the hillside. She moaned, for it lie somewhere above and out of her line of vision.

She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. A gossamer cloud wafted before her face where her warm breath met the cold air. She ran her hand down her blouse and onto her lap where the snow had landed and had melted from her body heat. An involuntary shiver wracked her from her head to her toes.

She decided she needed to pray. It seemed that prayer was their only chance. She crossed her fingers and began by praying that there was in fact a God to hear her pleas. She raised her hands to her chin and interlaced her fingers. She closed her eyes and her lips moved to the silent words within her mind.
Why had she opened that envelope from her mother? She should have left it in the trash! If she'd ripped it to shreds, she wouldn't be in that mess. Why had her mother contacted her after so many years? It was her mother who had severed the ties, not her.

Her thoughts were interrupted by movement next to her. She opened her eyes to gaze upon her son, Jon in her lap. Beside her Rebecca was snuggled against her ribs. Had she nodded off while she'd been praying? They must have crawled into the front seat seeking warmth. "Thank God, they are still okay," she murmured.

Jon's blue eyes looked up at her and he whimpered, "Mommy, I'm cold."

Next to her Rebecca's weak voice could be heard, "Me too. I'm freezing. Can you turn on the heat?"

"Cuddle up tighter against mommy for now," she replied. "I'll put the heat on a little later." She was still alert enough to know that she would have to start the engine to use the heater. That was out of the question. She couldn't risk any more exposure to the fumes from the engine. Yet, freezing to death was an awful fate for her, and especially her children.

Little Jon uttered, "Will somebody find us, mommy? I don't want to stay in this car any more?"

"Yes, someone will find us ... and soon," she answered trying to sound positive. Her heart was aching, but she couldn't bring herself to tell her kids how dire their situation was. How do you tell two young children they might die?

She glanced at the dashboard and noticed the bright display of the GPS device. She pointed to the small unit and said, "See that black box there? It's not talking, but they can track us with it. They know right where we are. I'm sure that someone is on their way, even as we speak."

Though it seemed like an eternity, within five minutes the children had nodded off into a light sleep. As long as she could hear their breathing she would have to assume that they were all right.

She glanced at the GPS unit and hoped that someone knew that they had been in an accident. She allowed her chin to rest upon her chest and closed her eyes for a few moments.

(To be continued ... Part 3)


Friday, December 10, 2010

Butterfly Dreams (41)

(A sequel to The Strange Story of Mr. Black and Ms Gray.)

They had died when helping thwart a plan to undermine the government of the United States. Now Ben and Susan have returned from the dead and they must bring that government down. Standing in their way are Michael Black and Michelle Gray, the bodies of whom they now occupy.
-(The Story begins HERE)-
A Date With the Dead

Somehow, I was not at all surprised by Professor Jordan's proclamation. At that point, I was beyond shock. It seemed that nothing was impossible.

Since human minds had become little more than a deadly playground for the rich and powerful, they had to stopped. I considered the other passengers on the flight and grimaced. How was that assemblage, the nine of us, supposed to accomplish that feat?

Jordan was smiling and nodding at me when I said, "You swapped minds, didn't you? You are Bishop King!"

"It was his idea," he replied. "You see, he too was dying. He was diagnosed with cancer and was given two, maybe three years to live. Like me, he wanted to close down all of my work, his work and your work. Our goal was sabotage the whole works so that not even the military or the government had access to it. He didn't have the resources or the knowledge to go it alone. Thus we agreed that two minds were better than one."

I shook my head in despair, "So you think this little ragtag group on this plane can accomplish it?"

"Uh, wait a minute, Professor, er ... Mr. King," Baxter uttered, "just what did you mean that two minds were better than one?"

He touched the finger tips of both hands together as he answered, "Let me put it this way, the professor and I joined forces. We didn't swap our minds, we merged them."

"What?" Baxter and I yelped in unison.

The old man looked directly into my eyes, "Michael, you'll remember I told you that I was responsible for what happened to the minds of Mr. Black and Ms Gray? You'll also remember mention of a program called Persephone?"

Baxter leaned forward in his seat, his interest peaked by Jordan's words. As for me, I affirmed his query with a quick jerk of my head. It was somewhat reassuring to learn that my brother was about to learn something he didn't know.

"Jordan had developed a theory that an increase of electrical amperage through the neural headsets might result in more than a transference of the minds of the subjects. He reasoned that each subject could possibly retain some functions of their brains, most notably, memories."

"I'm not following what you're implying," I shrugged.

"When the minds of Michael and Michelle were transferred into the other, their subconscious memories and psyches remained in place. Bear with me, but I had never subscribed to existence of a soul, per se, but I found myself adopting an existential view of the concept. I've determined that the human body is but a shell of flesh which houses the soul. The mind, complete with its thoughts, is but the electrical function of the soul within the body."

"Let me see," Baxter said, "if I've got this straight. When the transfers take place, it is this ... er ... electricity that jumps from body to body?"

When I emitted a loud gasp, the eyes of both men turned to me. There was a hint of a smile that formed on Jordan's face. "No, that's not what happens, Jeremy. The electricity, as you referred to it, would be moving in both directions simultaneously - away from each subject."

The professor nodded, but it was King who spoke, "Understand, that this 'electricity' is not the same energy that powers a light bulb. On the contrary, it is the synaptic discharge of neurons to and from the respective brains. The headsets were designed to convert the brain energies to null charges, neither positive nor negative, which allowed them to pass through each other. The result of course was that they exchanged places - those places of course being the brains."

"I'm sure that the process must be more complicated than that," mused Baxter. "I assume you are over-simplifying the dynamics so that we might better comprehend."

"You are correct," he replied.

To my surprise it was all making sense. I offered my own conjecture, "The modifications that Michael and Michelle made to their headsets allowed them exchange thoughts with each other. Their synapses were attuned enough to give them the power of telepathy."

"Go on," he said. I paused long enough to be encouraged to continue by his words and the wide grin he was sporting.

Remembering his earlier admission I pressed on, "You altered the settings on the headsets, in effect increasing their power. You knew that their minds would be transferred into one another!"

"Yes. I also knew that their minds would remain somewhat linked. Perhaps the subconscious mind is intrinsically connected to the soul, I don't know, but I suspect that perhaps each mind, even when transferred into another body, is never completely severed from its soul."

Baxter scratched his head and said, "You've taken the process to another level, haven't you? You've figured how to make the transfers ... one way!"

He lowered his head into his hands. There was dread in his reply. "Alas, the merger of the minds of Bishop King and Jordan is not the first time this process was undertaken." He lifted his head and stared long and hard at me.

"Jesus Christ!" I cried. "I helped him pull it off!"

"I'm afraid so. You should, however, take consolation in the fact that you had no way of knowing."

Baxter bolted to his feet and began to pace in front of us. "This is not good. I thought he might have transferred minds. But not ..."

"I'm afraid it's true. General Julius Gates did not die. He is very much alive," Jordan murmured.

I shook my head and pondered the hopelessness of our as of yet undefined mission. Our date with the dead could overturn our nation's government. Our enemy was the most powerful man in the country.

( To be continued

Purple Mountain Majesty )


Monday, December 06, 2010

Zanter Klauzen

Stranded in a cabin deep in a Minnesota wood, a woman and her two children face an uncertain Christmas. With their supplies dwindling she began to pray that they would survive to see the new year. Then he appeared, a strange man lurking in the shadows of the snow covered firs. How long would he watch them before making his move?

M arilee Cohen tore the top page away from the calendar pad. Another day gone and alas, another day closer to Christmas she thought.

It was supposed to be a festive time of the year, a time to celebrate with family and loved ones. For her, however, it was anything but festive. In the presence of her two children she'd been wearing a thin veil of holiday spirit, but she knew they had seen through the guise.

The loss of her husband to a brain aneurysm two months before had turned their idyllic family life upside down. Because neither one of them had gotten around to purchasing life insurance, his funeral and burial had all but wiped out their meager savings.

Her salary as a check out clerk at the local grocery store had been serving as extra income while her husband was alive, but now she had to struggle just to makes ends meet. Then there was the crash of the economy. It wasn't long before her employer was forced to halve the hours of the staff or to resort to layoffs.

Bill paying had become a virtual exercise in futility. She'd had no choice but to resort to a Rob-from-Peter-to-pay-Paul method of budgeting and it wasn't working. Her credit had been shot to hell. The car dealership was threatening to repossess her minivan. Her banker had hinted at the possibility of foreclosure on the house.

The label of 'single welfare mother' appalled her, but it was exactly what she'd become. She, her five-year-old daughter and four-year-old son were facing an impoverished life unless they were to be blessed with some unforeseen miracle.

M iracles sometimes present themselves in unexpected ways and from unexpected sources. This miracle had been provided by her estranged mother. She glanced at her two children asleep in the seats next to her. She smiled at their peaceful repose, Rebecca's head resting upon Jon's shoulder. They were finally going to meet their maternal grandmother for the first time.

Only two days earlier while poring through the mail, mostly bills, she'd been surprised to find an envelope which had been postmarked from the small Minnesota town of New Ulm. The serif-flourished handwriting had been unmistakably that of her mother.

Accompanying a single sheet of stationery were three airline tickets to the airport serving Mankato, a prepaid voucher for a rental vehicle, and a map with a high-lighted route to the small town of Nicollet located halfway between Mankato and New Ulm. The words written by her mother were brief and to the point.
The time to mourn has passed. The time to celebrate as a family is now. Please, I need to see my daughter and my grandchildren while there is still time.
There was a slight jolt as the plane hit a small air pocket as it passed high above Lake Michigan. The children stirred but did not awaken. While they had been excited about flying for the first time, being awakened at four in the morning had caught up to them and they had succumbed to sleep after only a half hour off the ground.

Three times she had tossed the envelope and its contents into the trash can, and three times she'd retrieved them. It had been eleven years since she and her mother had seen each other. Ten years had passed since they'd last spoken.

She had experienced much trepidation about accepting her mother's peace offering, but it was much too late to be second guessing herself. Both intrigued and concerned, she couldn't help but wonder about the implications of her mother's written words. Was she dying? Was she reaching out to make peace before she closed her eyes forever?

P ostage stamp sized snowflakes were beginning to stick to the tarmac as the plane touched down upon the runway at the Mankato Municipal Airport. Awakened by the thump of the plane's wheels upon the ground, Rebecca sat up and looked out the window.

"It's snowing!" she squealed. "Wake up, Jon. Wake up!"

Marilee smiled at her kids' excitement over the falling flakes. It was the first time they'd ever seen snow. There was a time when she too would have been so happy to see the fluffy crystals, but alas, that was a long time ago. At that moment however, she was filled with dread because she was going to be driving in the stuff for the first time.

Thankful that they were able to retrieve their luggage so quickly, she hustled the kids to the car rental stand at the far end of the terminal. Within minutes the young man at the counter was handing her the keys to a four-wheel drive vehicle which was parked just outside the door.

Not only did he carry their luggage outside to the vehicle but he also stowed it for them. He then took the time to activate a talking GPS device mounted on the dashboard and showed her how to use it. The programmed instructions would take them northwest on Rt. 14 to the town of Nicollet. The address of their destination was the first right after the town and near Swan Lake.

She started the engine and glanced at her wristwatch. She let out a sigh of relief, for from the moment the plane had landed and she had placed the key in the ignition switch, only a half hour had passed. She peered through the windshield and saw that the snow was falling heavier and a strong wind was directing the flakes sideways.

Ten minutes later Mankato was in the rear view mirror. Ahead of her was a landscape that was quickly becoming a winter wonderland. She had to admit that it was a beautiful sight. Her fear of driving in snow was abating. According the soft female voice of the GPS they were fifteen miles away from their destination and as such, she had to remind herself not to get too complacent.

It happened so fast. It just seemed to appear out of nowhere. The large deer, frozen in the beacon of the headlights was directly in her path. By reflex she braked and swerved in the same instant. When the vehicle plunged from the road into the ravine, her scream became lodged in her throat.

To be continued ... Part 2


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Time To Make the Donuts

DONUT Lingerie Calendar.

Time to make the donuts? I don't think so!

(Thanks Cathy - I think?)

Friday, December 03, 2010

2011 TSA Calendar

The Terrorist Security Administration has released prints of its first ever calendar models. - (Thanks to my brother-in-law, Don.)

2011 Miss TSA Calendar Photo . . .