J.J.K. (Father’s Day 2014)

Published June 15, 2014 by kdorholt

J.J.K.

A man, a myth-maker, a mystery
a mystic, merciful and merciless
meticulous, middle class, muddler
a clotheshorse, a clown, a choir boy
a crier, a connoisseur, a cook
a hot-tempered, handsome, Hungarian
a healer, a hard worker, hopeful and hopeless
sentimental, sacrificing, a serviceman
sarcastic, scathing, a Santa Claus
a carpenter, a crooner, a Catholic
inventive, insightful, insufferable
a dancer, a drinker, devout and destructive
a patriot, a perfectionist, a preacher
fiery, flamboyant, flawed
forever forming who I am
My father—J.J.K.

Plodding Tired (Writing 101 Just Write June 2014)

Published June 3, 2014 by kdorholt

Plodding Tired

Today I am
plodding tired,
a day-long’s
listless languishing.
My frowsy fingers tapping
sluggishly along convoluted,
complex computer keys.
Will I succeed to
the next stroke?

I’m writing wearily
under weighty water.
My head heavy—
from my sunken
eye sockets
to the top
of my shrunken
skull soaking in
sultry lake algae

My murky mind
of floating thoughts
drifts through
muddy waters
empty sluggish efforts
What does algae
linger on?
Discarded fish droppings?
Let it leave me.

I want to awaken
crystalline. My fingers
gliding glissando.
Caressing each
computer key
at a pristine
piano-concerto pace
to touch the next
with zestful zing.

I want my mind
to bask in the
bright sunshine.
Brilliant ideas bursting
radiant on the page.
Soaked in sun.
The source of
energy evolving.
Singing out secrets!

Check back tomorrow.
My mind report
may scintillate.
One can always hope—
Even with a muddled
mind of algae water
Even with thudding
feckless fingers
Even plodding tired.

Oh, Christmas Tree (StoryADay 2014)

Published May 29, 2014 by kdorholt

As Brent and Kay drove to the Boy Scout’s Christmas tree sale in Shopper’s City parking lot, merry thoughts pranced through Kay’s head. Their first Christmas as husband and wife. It would be a holiday of her dreams—she just knew it and the perfect tree was just the beginning. She couldn’t wait to pick out the balsam fir that would stand in the corner of their living room, its fresh pine smell filling the house with the reminder that Christmas season had arrived. She knew exactly what the tree would look like, the strings of big lights glowing, lots of lights, showcasing the ornaments and glistening off the tinsel, the star crowning the tree and directing all eyes to the nativity set that she would place below the tree.

Her mother had given her Grandma’s old set as a bridal shower gift, and Kay was looking forward to using the heirloom for the first time. She couldn’t wait to create a manger scene, just like her family always did. She’d wrap a white bed sheet under the tree to represent snow and to hide the tree stand. Underneath the sheet she’d pile books at various strategic spots. There’d be the mountains and hills. The shepherds and their hut decorated one of these, sheep randomly dotting the hill and at the bottom, a “pond,” represented by a purse mirror, would lie, a few sheep lapping from its “water,” a shepherd or two watching over that part of the flock. And of course, angels would grace the scene bringing the “glad tidings” to the shepherds. Luckily, she had happened upon a sale of nativity figures at Woolworth’s earlier and picked up some extra angels. Some of Grandma’s figurines were too defaced now with chips here and there from years of use.

The wise men and their camels on the other side of the tree would climb another hill in their journey to Jesus. In the center of it all, the focal point, would be the manger topped with another star. Inside she’d scatter some bits of straw and in the corners would lie Mary’s donkey on the left side and a cow on the right. Jesus’s “guardian angel” would kneel between the two animals. She’d place Mary in front of her donkey and Joseph in front of the cow. In the center, in front of the angel and in between the kneeling Mary and Joseph, Jesus would lie in his manger bed filled with bits of straw for his newborn comfort.

Kay’s eyes filled with tears of joy and anticipation and she leaned her head back on the headrest as she savored her dreams.

Meanwhile, Brent was building the Christmas-tree scene of his childhood dreams. He couldn’t wait to find the best Norway, maybe Scotch, pine and decorate it with a few little lights—too many looked garish—that would highlight the ornaments and garland just enough. Underneath the tree he could picture the festive Christmas-tree skirt he planned on buying at Shopper’s City once he and Kay bought their tree. He hoped they could find a skirt like his family’s, adorned with poinsettias and Santa and his reindeer flying through the sky. On top of the skirt, he envisioned the Christmas gifts wrapped with colorful Christmas paper and bows, enticing in anticipation of Christmas. So many gifts, that most of the Christmas tree skirt would become almost invisible. At the top of the tree he’d place an angel, sparkling in gold, hands open in welcome to all who entered their home during the season.

Brent could feel the nostalgia of past Christmases and family traditions fill his heart and head as he drove into Shopper’s City parking lot and stopped the car close to the trees.

“Are you ready, Sweetie?” he asked as he turned and smiled at Kay, his eyes twinkling like the lights he hoped would adorn the tree.

“I can’t wait!” she said smiling at Brent in return, her eyes reflecting his excitement.

Arm in arm, they walked toward the awaiting snow-dusted trees leaning against the exterior fence. At the same moment they both took a breath of the pine-scented air, almost like one person, of one mind. Brent looked at Kay and gave her a quick kiss on the forehead. “Let’s go!” he said, as he turned to the left toward the Norways and Scotch. However, he was stopped by a tug. Kay was turning in the opposite direction. “I thought we were going to get a tree,” he said.

“We are, Honey,” said Kay. “They’re over this way.”

“No, they’re over here. See the Norway and Scotch pines this way?”

“Norway and Scotch? Those aren’t Christmas trees,” Kay said as she shook her head and gave a little laugh. “Those are just big bushes. The ornaments don’t even show up on them. Balsam is a Christmas tree.”

“But we always have Norway or Scotch,” explained Brent.

“Well, then you’ve never had a real Christmas tree,” Kay said as she tried to pull Brent closer to the balsams.

The newlyweds were in for a not-so-festive, long night full of discovery.

Final Torture (StoryADay 2014)

Published May 27, 2014 by kdorholt

The Final Torture

Another cold blast of air hits Alex like a steel beam forcing from her what little heat she has stored since the last blow only seconds earlier. She takes a deep breath as she moves her leaden-like legs once more up the mountain, her feet ankle deep in snow. She knows snow is supposed to be light, fluffy, full of fun, but this stuff is hard and heavy and scraps her ankles, leaving ice scratches with every excruciation step.

The searing sting of the wind and snow pierces her and she reaches to pull her down-filled coat closer to her body, maybe button the top button, pull up the collar. But wait! Her coat is not there. She feels so exposed, naked! Her stomach begins to bubble like lava and her mind is as frozen as the snow that is impeding her journey. She looks around frantically to either side and behind her. Has the wind blown her only source of heat off her? Has her coat dropped from her shoulders without her noticing? How can this be?

She must sit and think. What to do now? The warnings about freezing to death flash in her mind like the red light on a police car. She’s a Minnesotan. She knows the danger of stopping and hypothermia—-frozen digits, even death. But all the lessons she’d had in health classes can’t outweigh her need to sit.

As she does, the snow beneath her feels more like chilly linoleum, like the high-school floor too long in air conditioning. Her hip begins to ache with the cold. Her head has hit something smooth and hard, uncomfortable. Alex feels her head throbbing. Her blood vessels near her temple and left cheek are beating like a heavy-metal song. She hates heavy metal. It always gives her a headache. And she’s numb like someone has given her a shot of novocaine.

Wait! What is this? She’s not on a snowy mountain! It’s not even a snowy day! Alex shivers with the knowledge. It’s late May. The chill she feels is the air conditioning piped up to intolerable levels.
She forces her eyes open and until they adjust from her sleeping she sees only a blurry white.

She focuses harder. Ah, yes familiar concrete blocks painted that grayish white. Of course, she’s in the counselor’s conference room—-that claustrophobic den of the derided and devious students. Must have fallen asleep. But why is she here? What has she done this time? The bubble of dread gurgles in her stomach as reality riddles her body. Why had she decided to miss the calculus final? Why had she pretended to be sick so she could have one more day to study? Why had she squandered most of the day watching reruns of American Idol? Now she’s secluded in this raunchy room to take the test. She feels the cry in her chest vault to her throat, but she keeps it locked there. She won’t let it out.

Slowly, Alex rouses herself and grabs onto the cheap, plastic gray chair sitting askew at the graffitied brown table in the center of the room. She must have dozed off and fallen from the chair. Who is the idiot who decided to put those chairs with the slick runners in the rooms with linoleum? Kids are always falling off those things, especially if they tip back a bit. Why hasn’t somebody sued? Maybe she has a head injury or brain damage now. Maybe she can be the one to sue! Nah, that’d never be her luck.

As she lifts herself a bit more, Alex notices the door at the end of the small room. Her chance at freedom. Her only means of escape. The desire to run to it and fling it open, to smell the air of freedom rushes over her like the cold winter wind she felt in her dream. But she knows before she can feel that freedom, she must finish the taunting task at hand—-the calculus final!

Trembling once again, Alex sits in the gray chair, her thighs feeling the chill of the over-air-conditioned plastic and slides the dreaded pieces of paper waiting for her on the table into her view. Her chest contracts as she tries to breathe. She shuts her eyes and forces herself to calm down by counting backward from ten, a method Mrs. Jenson, the school counselor. has taught all the students to do before they take standardized tests. After she calms a bit, she breathes deeply and opens her eyes. She picks up her pencil and writes “Alex Winters, Block 3” in the top right-hand corner and begins. The only way to escape this hell is to endure one “final torture.”

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure (StoryADay 2014)

Published May 27, 2014 by kdorholt

Tommy was just a little guy, about ten. He accompanied his mom to every estate or rummage sale she went to—and that was a bunch. His mother was trying to supplement the family’s lower-middle-class income by selling antiques or curiosities at local metropolitan flea markets, so Tommy’s weekend world whirled around scavenging through others’ unwanted items looking for discarded treasures.

He was a hit with the estate/rummage sale crowd for many reasons. Most didn’t expect such a young kid to be so interested in old items. He could carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone about their favorite collector’s item. And that face of his! Curly auburn hair, large hazel eyes surrounding by long curly eyelashes, freckles dotting his nose and cheeks, and a wide gap-toothed smile. He could have been a member of The Little Rascals reborn.

With the money he had earned doing odd jobs around the house and neighborhood tucked away in his old, brown leather coin purse that he had discovered once at a sale in the “Free” bin, he set out with Mom every Saturday with a child’s hopeful heart that that day would be the day that he’d stumble on the lucky find. Most of the time the items he loved were too expensive for his coin purse, and even though he tried to bargain down the price, he didn’t succeed too often.

Yep, he was outnumbered there, so he relied on what most adults didn’t want to do—go through the trash that the people holding the sale didn’t even think would have any takers in the “Free” bin. He’d walk up to the people running the show, usually at the table where “salers” paid for their finds and ask if he could maybe look through the discards, usually overflowing in trash cans or multiple garbage bags. Few could resist the charm of that polite, hazel-eyed, gap-toothed,freckle-faced urchin, and only once had anybody said, “No.”

One Saturday, he and his mom had hit about ten sales and Tommy’s take was pretty paltry—a couple old pictures of people he didn’t know and some raggedy postcards. Mom hadn’t had a very good day either, so even though their limit for a Saturday was usually ten stops, Mom suggested they try one more. It wasn’t that far out of their way. They could afford a few more minutes. By the time they reached the rummage sale in Northeast Minneapolis, he and his Mom could tell that items had already been quite picked over just by driving up to the place. The garage was pretty empty and only a few items of particle-board furniture remained in the driveway. “Should we stop, Tommy, or just drive on?” his mother asked him with a look that told him she was disappointed and tired.

“Yeah, Mom. Let’s just try,” he said, giving her his most sincere expression. “Their trash bin is overloaded.

“Okay, Tommy. We’ll go in, but we only have about ten . . . fifteen minutes.

Tommy looked at the trash bins at the side of the garage. He’d have to work fast if he was going to comb through all that junk—that is if the owners even let him near it. But he wanted to try. Something was calling to him in those trash bins, like they were giving out vibrations that only he could decode.

The owners gave him the go ahead but not much reassurance when he asked if he could look through the trash they threw away. “Go ahead,” said the rotund man behind the cash table, as he wiped beads of sweat from his forehead. “I don’t expect you’ll find much. It’s been gone through already. But you’re welcome to give ‘er a try, son.”

Tommy thanked the man and went to work, that vibration calling to him. However, about twelve minutes later, he was near the bottom of the trash and almost out of time. So far, he had zilch, nada, nothing even close. Yet there was that vibration he had that something was there for him. He stretched as far as he could into the last trash can and removed a crumpled piece of brown packaging paper when he uncovered a small cardboard box. As Tommy peered closer he could see that it was decorated with embossed colors of orange, pink and gold. Interesting. He reached to grab it, but the side of the can kept blocking him, even when he bent in as far as he could go, he couldn’t quite grasp the box. Finally, he tipped the can to its side and the box and the rest of the rubbage at the bottom slid down the side until he could claim his prize. The box had seen better days. It was smashed down in corner a bit and the gold leafing was worn on the edges. Tom opened the box and found a round ball of white, homemade soap inside. Like the box it was pretty rustic. To Tommy it looked like some kid had rolled up some Play Doh and left it. Still something about the weirdness of it intrigued him.

He took what he had found to the check-out table and asked if he could have it. The man behind the table took the box and examined it. “Doesn’t look like this is worth anything.” Then he opened it as Tommy had done and found the ball of soap inside. He scoffed as he turned it around in his hand. “I can see why someone hid this!” he said and laughed. “I wouldn’t want anyone to see this if I’d made it either. If you want it, it’s yours,” he said to Tommy as he offered him the box.

“Thanks, sir,” Tommy said as he took the box from the man.

When Tommy got home, he placed the box on one of his many bookshelves in his bedroom and it lay there, untouched for five years where it was totally hidden from view by other oodles of curiosities Tommy had picked up during that time. Finally, one day his mother said, “Tommy, you have to clear off those shelves. There just too crowded. Do you even know what you have on them anymore? Just do one a day. In a week, you’ll be done.”

Tommy had to agree he did not, so reluctantly, he began sorting through the free finds on his book shelves. Two days later, Tommy came to the bookshelf that held the soap box. Tommy shook his head as he grabbed it and remembered the vibration that called him to that box years ago. He opened it and the soap ball landed in his hand like a heavy stone. With a smile, he tossed it a few times into the air and caught the thing. Once it fell and big chunks of soaps smashed into his bedroom carpeting.

He still can’t tell you to this day what made him take the ball to his desk and begin chopping away at it with his letter opener, but he did. Little by little he chopped away until he came to the center. Something was wrapped in what looked like a blue jewelry-cleaning cloth. Carefully, Tommy unwrapped the parcel. Out dropped a ring—quite a gaudy thing, really. Tommy was pretty sure it was some old costume piece, but maybe it would get him ten dollars at a flea market. Actually, it reminded him of an engagement ring—gold band, one round diamond-like stone in the center with four smaller diamond-like stones on either side. He laid the ring on his desk and continued his task of cleaning the shelf.

At dinner time he brought the ring to the table showed it to his family during dessert as they enjoyed there pudding cake. (He’d washed off all the residue “gunk” on the ring so the stoned glistened more brightly.) The family reactions ranged from, “Where’d you get that fake piece of junk?” to “Wow, it hurts the eyes!”

His mother gave the best advice, “You should go have that checked out by a jeweler. It could be real. You never know.”

He did. It was! He and his mother tried to recall where he had picked up the treasure, but they had been to so many estate sales and rummage sales by then that hey couldn’t remember which house it came from. He put an ad in the “Lost and Found” section of the paper. No response.

Tommy learned a valuable lesson from this experience: Pay attention to those “good vibrations.” His next big find—a photo album filled with original pictures of Jimi Hendrix. He tried to give the album back to the owners. Their response to him was quite clear, if brief, “We know what it is. We threw it away. You can keep it.” Obviously, they weren’t sharing in Tommy’s “good vibrations.”

Arnold Jameson Prisner (StoryADay 2014)

Published May 23, 2014 by kdorholt

Most of the seniors reacted to the student-chosen quote under Arnold Jameson Prisner’s picture in the yearbook with the same thought. It was 100 percent Arnold all the way— something from Shakespeare, of course. Most of them had just googled “inspirational” or “yearbook quotes” and used something listed there that reflected them somehow. Others chose lines from favorite songs. A few singled out a quote from literature or poetry. But only one was geeky enough to pick a three-sentence quote from Shakespeare—Arnold Prisner. It would be read aloud during the night’s graduation ceremony, now underway, along with his plans after high school like every other graduate. That had been Highland High School’s tradition ever since anyone could remember.

Why some had designated Arnold for their torturous treatment of him during his high-school career was clear enough. He was weird—easy as that. What was up with those ties and white shirts he wore every day to school? He always looked like he was about to “Jehovah Witness” the whole classroom when he walked in. Arnold wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness either. Nope, he attended Our Glory Lutheran like plenty of other graduating seniors—was confirmed with them and everything. Why did he insist on being called “Arnold”? Any one of his classmates would have established another name by then. His middle name was “Jameson.” Anybody with half a brain would have insisted on “AJ,” but not Arnold. Even “Arnie” would have been better, but not for this dweeb. He stuck to Arnold. And it wasn’t like he was too stupid to think of something else either. He was graduating near the top of his class. He would have been valedictorian if the school hadn’t just changed its policy this year and counted P.E. in the grade point average. Not that he was all that bad in P.E.—he just wasn’t A-range, that’s for sure.

Arnold’s name and choice of dress weren’t the only reasons this guy was the class joke. He always had the longest answer to any question on any subject a teacher asked. His hand was the first in the air. Teachers often used his work as exemplars. Not to mention, he had been selected as “Student of the Month” by some teacher or another more than anyone else in their high-school career. Talk about teachers, he was polite to every one, even the substitutes. He didn’t use his phone to play games or text during class, always asked if there was extra credit—even though he was assuredly getting an “A” anyway, said “Sir” and “Ma’am” when he talked to someone “in authority,” gave them a smile. It wasn’t that the other kids weren’t nice, too. Most of them had learned their manners, but Arnold was always overboard, didn’t seem to realize he took everything to the next level, a Twilight Zone the rest knew not to enter.

Arnold Jameson Prisner never seemed to notice. He just steered along on his own course like he knew some secret nobody else did. How many “swirlies” did a guy have to endure before he figured out he should change his ways if he wanted to be left alone? This guy took his cousin from Iowa to the senior prom and wore “his late father’s” (that’s how Arnold referred to his dead dad) wedding tuxedo. Had one of his senior photos taken in it too. As a matter of fact, that’s the one Arnold chose for the yearbook. There he was on the page, in between Josh Prior (who was surrounded by various athlete equipment and trophies) and Jessica Privlan (standing in a meadow of white daises), smiling like he was the happiest, coolest kid in town in some dead guy’s old-fashioned get up. Sure it was fine to miss your dad. Other kids had had fathers who had died, too, but they weren’t wearing his old clothes. (Some of the seniors had to admit that their moms had tears in their eyes when they saw the picture. That in itself was a clue.) Actually, the senior picture didn’t look enough like Arnold Jameson Prisner. They’d photoshopped out his three cowlicks and the acne breakout usually dotting the left side of his face like the South Sea Islands.

Well, not too much longer and they wouldn’t have to think about Arnold Jameson Prisner or Highland High any more. The superintendent was already rattling off the students whose last names began with “P,” and once she got to Scott Zellman, they were out of here.

She clears her throat a little and says, “Joshua Charles Prior. ‘Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there,’ (Bo Jackson). Joshua will be attending South State University on a football scholarship. Congratulations, Joshua.”

There’s a good bit of applause for Joshua as he shakes the superintendent’s hand, then holds his diploma in the air, gives a “Whoop!” and leaves the stage in a swagger.

“Arnold Jameson Prisner. “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” (William Shakespeare). Arnold will be attending Harvard University on an academic scholarship. Congratulations, Arnold.”

The graduates can hear the superintendent say that last part a little more proudly than she has about any other graduate so far. Arnold smiles and shakes the sup’s hand. They can see him slightly bow his head in gratitude and read his lips, “Thank you, Ma’am.” He turns and smiles at his classmates. A few of them applaud along with the invited guests, but most of them sit in the silence of the dead. What Arnold? Harvard? What the . . .? When did he do that!? Some of them cough a bit, trying to catch a breath.

Arnold smiles at his classmates, tips his hat. (As he does the crowd can see the bottoms of his father’s tuxedo pants.) Then he walks off the stage likes he’s just won an Academy Award—which all of his classmates know he kind of has—and proceeds into his future.

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JUMP FOR JOY! Photo Project

Showcasing the beauty of the human spirit -- in mid-air -- around the world

iKu2e

Truth as it is!

The Blahgg Blog

life by design in a small and still charming town.

The FireBird: A Phoenix's Aria

"A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Stories in 5 Minutes

Why waste an entire day reading a novel when you can read the story in 5 minutes

Peace, love and patchouli

A blog of life according to me.

Daily (w)rite

A Daily Ritual of Writing

Words. On the Internet.

And perhaps some punctuation?

Here

Nowhere else

Theme Showcase

Find the perfect theme for your blog.

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Salsachica's Ramblings

A place to share a chica's thoughts about food, life and music

Don Charisma

because anything is possible with Charisma

Julian Sherman

Building A Business While Having A Life

craftedincarhartt

a blog about women who do amazing things

Cassiann Anderson

fitness. yoga. books. cats.

lauraagudelo272

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Indie Hero

Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller

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