Coffee Cup Series B

… The behinder I get…

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but I simply will persevere with humor!

As a young person trying to find adulthood, I was greatly influenced by the man who took care of our family — eight children and Mother — and who had a quick, stalwart, and calm smile no matter the circumstances in which he found himself. That man was my Dad, whom we lost in 2011. (Mother passed away in 2015.)

My Mother had many challenges in raising eight children, six of whom are younger than I. From her, I learned perseverance, also, and an appreciation for poetry and writing.

What did Dad offer his eight children? He was there, so he showed steadiness. He love us unconditionally, and bragged that he had one of everything — a musician, a singer, a writer of fiction, a journalist, a mechanic, a farmer, an engineer, and beloved house-wife. So he was a good and loving, proud papa.

But it was his sense of humor, and his constant suggestion, through dialogue and example, that it’s a good idea to possess humor in one’s makeup. Humor, he insisted, was the main ingredient that will get one through life’s bumps — which would be many — without to many sustained bruises. Although he also demonstrated that faith was important, he chose to mainly pass along to us the idea of humor’s power.

Was he ever right! Thanks, Dad! I’m game for all the humor I can experience!

Here’s a cup to you, Dad, with heart-felt acknowledgement of your valuable life lessons and, of course, with much good humor (turtle-fashion!)

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Credit:
Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

— Find more stories about my self-publishing efforts at;
http://www.shortstoriesandstoryart.wordpress.com

and my writing life at
http://www.mywritinglifexposed.wordpress.com

 

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Interlocked Excerpts — One

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Excerpts from the novelette (Novel In A Nutshell):
Interlocked
   by Barbara Anne Helberg

CHAPTER A excerpt —

Just like she had had to kill Craig, Mira wrote…

She had to. It would be all right now. It had been before.

It would be easy because Lawrence never would expect it…

He thought she was in love with him, too. Like Craig. She was not. She hated him now.

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CHAPTER B excerpt —

Jimy, they called Lawrence Higgins.

Lawrence closely resembled the famous author Jimy Lafayette… the works of the master creator of written horrors were Lawrence’s favorites at an early age…

After a time, they began to call Lawrence Higgins “Jimy L.” It was shorter and more to the point… Lawrence and Lafayette…

Unfortunately, Lawrence’s fascination with Jimy Lafayette took on the trappings of fanaticism…

But this was five decades before he met Mira. Fifty years of obsession would not be put off lightly. Truthfully, Jim L. did not want — never had wanted — to put off the obsession. He had, in fact, searched for a Mira — like Lafayette’s fictitious Annabelle — all his life

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+++ Credit:
Story excerpts and Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Nine Excerpt

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FANS
by Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Nine Excerpt — An Opportunity

I waved away his concern. My wife’s illness was long and unpredictable, as cancer can be, like a constant predator. “The key was an invitation to make up your mind,” I said. “You didn’t come back to West Central to stay?” I watched the conflict play across his face and had no idea who had the privilege of being the players of the moment.

Rodd hung his head. “Guess I don’t know why I came back. Spur of the moment.”

“Something must have triggered your decision. We haven’t seen you around here since –”

“Yeah.” Rodd’s look cut me off. He shrugged. “The Blade ran a two-incher on Coach Archmiller. I…I felt…strange.”

“Yes. We all do. It’s a sad thing. Herm was part of the community. It’s a shock.” I pointed to my spare chair, said, “It doesn’t get crazy around here for another hour. Take a load off. Relax.” I took a slow dive into my high back desk lounger, my tattered pride and joy whose purchase had celebrated my acquisition of the very healthy Town Crier some twenty years gone by.

“Any ideas what happened?” Rodd asked.

He took an uneasy position in the chair I’d indicated, but I quickly tuned into his obvious and natural curiosity. There was no hesitation, no shaky indecision. It was a glass smooth tone of interest from a long gone reporter type. A light bulb turned on in the dimmest part of my brain. “The police haven’t said anything new,” I told Rodd. I tapped a pencil on my desktop and looked at him.

Rodd chewed on the information while I chewed on the possibilities. Why not? I thought. Nothing lost if it doesn’t work out. A lot gained if it does. “Rodd, you just asked me all five of the classic questions on a mystery situation we already shared.”

“What?” Rodd’s face pinched together, then relaxed. “Yeah. I sorta did, didn’t I?”

“We already shared ‘who’, before you asked ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘how’.  The reporter’s six-question Bible. Why did you come back, Rodd? And what will you do?”

Rodd shook his closely-cropped head. “I don’t know, and I don’t know.”

“You came back because you couldn’t stay away. You want to find out what happened to Coach Archmiller, and you had nothing keeping you anywhere else.”

Rodd fidgeted in the chair, his meatless bones scraping. “That’s true,” he said after a long consideration. He squeezed it out around what appeared to be embarrassment over his displacement. I remembered suddenly how I’d always felt my fatherly instincts kick in whenever I was in the presence of this mild-mannered, highly vulnerable and talented high school athlete. I was doing it again. He seemed to need it desperately now. His last layer of tough, grin and bear it was worn through. I, perhaps, could provide a little push in the right direction. “Rodd, you’ve got a nose for this business. How about hiring on for a bit of freelance snooping?”

Rodd fidgeted again. The false leg thumped against the bottom chair rail.

007

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*** Credit:
FANS Excerpt and Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg, Author of “FANS”

 

Spooky Stats

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They are the Champions!

My son sent me this T-shirt, a duplicate of the one the Cleveland Cavaliers wore during their 1.3 million-fan-strong parade in Cleveland June 22, 2016, after they won the city’s first ever NBA (National Basketball Association) title.

Now, what are the spooky stats?

Here’s something for you fans and gamers. This is spooky:
Cleveland amassed 610 points through the first six games of the series, while the Golden State Warriors scored a total of 610 points through the first six games of the series. Then, in the final Game 7, the two teams were tied 89-89 with less than a minute to play! And that means each team had scored 699 total points in the series to that final minute, even though all the first six games were runaways in winning point margins.

Cleveland persevered on a three-point shot by Kyrie Irving and a final free throw by LeBron James to win the title, 93-89, in Game 7.

Four points separated the two teams in total for the seven-game series!

Do the math: Game One
Golden State, 104; Cleveland, 89

Game Two
Golden State, 110; Cleveland, 77

Game Three
Cleveland, 120; Golden State, 90

Game Four
Golden State, 108; Cleveland, 97

Game Five
Cleveland, 112; Golden State, 97

Game Six
Cleveland, 115; Golden State, 101

Game Seven
Cleveland, 93; Golden State, 89

Cleveland, 703; Golden State, 699.

In addition, Golden State failed to score another point over the last 4:30+ minutes of Game 7; their point total for the series was already stalled at 699.

For frosting on the cake, Cleveland completed the first ever NBA Finals comeback to win after going down three games to one in the first four contests.

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+++ Credit:
Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Scrabbled Short Story II

Can you build a short story in ten, or less, words?

On the Scrabble board below, is a seven-word story.

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Try your hand at unscrabbling the short story.

Scrabbled Short Stories appear as feature posts on this blog as a fun example on the laconic side of story writing!

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*** Credit:
Scrabbled Short Story and Scrabble board Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

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ANSWER on the Board:
“Deadend Baited, We Careen.
Moments Later, Nobody Team.”

FANS Chapter Seven Excerpt

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FANS
by Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Seven Excerpt — Destiny?

He had gone on for awhile, two years, perhaps. What had he gone on with after that? After the truck accident, he had shriveled, turned his back on life and the pursuit of anything worthy. His wife and son had suffered the results of his quitting. He had let the devastation track him. A bit of fate, he had said bitterly. Destiny…a dead sister, sweet little Sarah, a broken marriage after the accident, a distant son, the divorce. His effort in his short-lived marriage had mocked the tried and true forty-year union of his hard-working, loving parents. His failure with a vengeance to pick up the pieces after the accident had fed his bitterness and cost him everything. Pumping gas, drinking, chili and chips loneliness, Lizzie and Mark left in the ashes of his burning non-response. That’s what he’d gone on to. Some destiny, he thought.

Destiny? Rodd queried himself. His life had been more like forced imprisonment in a cycle of sorrow, bitterness, and impotency in every niche of his existence. He hadn’t seen his parents, or even corresponded with them in a decade, since his attachment to the bottle had detached him from his previous living experiences. His dad couldn’t find an excuse for him. His mother expressed her sweet love for him. He turned away. Grief over Sarah’s passing was explainable, they said. They had all suffered that and each of them had reconciled his feelings and put them aside, let go and moved on. After his college drop-out, over which they argued, then his inexcusable recession into continuous drunken bouts and neglect of his family, over which they parted ways, his parents, already in their sixties, had chosen retirement in Florida. Rodd hadn’t seen them again.

He hadn’t tipped a bottle once over the last ten months, and the question of his destiny, recently, had been a daily replay. He wanted to see Mark.

Rodd stared at The Blade page. Destiny, he thought. Herman Archmiller is dead at fifty-six — his destiny? To die in a locker room at West Central High School? Or someone else’s game plan? Why? Tapping his fingers on The Blade, looking straight at the wall, Rodd made up his mind.

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*** Credit:
FANS Excerpt and Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Six Excerpt

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FANS
by Barbara Anne Helberg

FANS Chapter Six Excerpt — Newsprint

The pouring of a second cup of coffee after the usual supper of chili and chips was routine until Rodd’s browsing brown eyes fell on the news item on page twelve of the quarter folded Toledo Blade. The item that stopped him in mid-pour was a two-inch story datelined “West Central, OH”.

The hot coffee missed Rodd’s cup, splashed onto the countertop, bounced back up in large drops to scald his cheek and lips, for he had bent low toward the paper to read. Nearly dropping the heavy-bottomed glass pot, he managed to control its remaining descent enough to avert wholesale spillage. His left hand, freed from the pot, brushed at his stinging lips, but his eyes re-glued themselves to The Blade neatly folded under a right hand that somehow had not budged from a spread-fingered grip on the newsprint. It was as though protecting the two inches of black-on-white had been paramount even above balancing the burning liquid in its glass cage.

West Central, Ohio, was his hometown. Long lost, Rodd thought. By fourteen years.

But those dateline words were not the ones that had altered the delivery of his liquid refreshment. The next nine had. “A high school boys’ basketball coach was found dead…” was about the juncture at which Rodd’s coffee derailed from its straight line journey from pot to cup.

Rodd grabbed a red-lined pattered kitchen towel, instinctively dabbed his face with it, then swiped the towel across the countertop, leaving brown trails of tiny beads in his haste. He felt his heart swell and gain a tick, or two, as he completed — successfully, this time — the filling of his cup. Scooping up the cup and carrying The Blade, he returned to the diminutive, square, chrome-trimmed kitchen table with its two chrome chairs that claimed most of the usable space in the room.

Lowering himself into a chair, he read: “West Central, OH — A high school boys’ basketball coach was found dead in the lockerroom of the high school gymnasium in this rural farm town yesterday.

“Local police said Herman Archmiller, 56, a 24-year varsity boys’ basketball coach at West Central High School, was discovered shot to death at 8:15 p.m. last evening. Charles Westgate, a school custodian, found the body.”

007

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*** Credit:
FANS Excerpt and Artwork from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Coffee Cup Series A

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A sense of humor, of course, became a family thing because of my Dad’s marvelous way of putting a light-hearted take on serious situations.

Our family get-togethers were ripe with humor and hearty laughter, and several of my five brothers were especially adept at telling stories and jokes.

This pictured coffee cup was a birthday gift from my son and his wife, who actually picked it out just for me. They understand that writing is my way of life!

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*** Credit:
Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg