Listen Up

“You must pay attention.” Four seemingly random words that, when put together in a certain order, have the ability to shut down listening centers of nearly all teenagers in Mr. Carver’s class. Yet, those very words were uttered at the beginning of the rafting trip. All day, he crossed his fingers that everyone heeded his warnings to pay attention. Many did. Some did not. That was the last rafting trip Jefferson High School ever approved.

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The Bunny

Michael’s rejective personality permeated every ounce of his being. If something was not the way he liked it, it was not good enough – no matter what it was. Sales clerks were never informative enough, food service was never fast enough, and children were never quiet enough.

It was his life and it suited him well – until Jessica entered his life. She tolerated his personality, but she never tolerated his attitude. One night, after a particularly stressful day listening to Michael comment on and critique their twin toddlers, she put her foot down. “You either learn to accept others for who and what they are, or we are through! The world does not need anymore bullheaded people in it.”

Michael watched as the bedroom door slammed in his face. The hallway to the living room was littered with toys that mocked him as he passed. Mollie’s stuffed bunny rested on the couch and Travis’ cowboy hat filled with megablocks perched on the pillow.

As he sat, surrounded by the life and love that Jessica provided him, he started to cry. Images of his father berating his mother over serving the wrong wine at dinner to his guests played in his mind. Memories of hearing his sister cry on her fourth birthday because she laughed too loud while opening her gifts cracked his heart. His mother’s last words, “see all the faults,” crushed him. He finally understood. It wasn’t the world’s faults – it was his father’s faults she wanted him to see.

He picked up the bunny and looked at all its imperfections – its perfect imperfections and hugged it.


Tailoring a New You (FTS 2019 #8)

The small shop sat on the corner of Houston and Parker for more than a century. Any piece of clothing a person ever needed could be found there. They even sold hand stitched underwear. The Frederickson family owned the shop from the day it opened, and everyone loved the family.

It wasn’t just the customer service, low prices, and great quality that brought customers back for generations — it was the other things the Fredericksons offered. They say a new pair of clothes can change a person, and at A New You, they meant it. One had to be careful when requesting a custom suit – you didn’t want to get your specifications wrong. Why, even one misplaced check mark could have dire consequences on a person’s future.

Take Emilio for example, he had listened to his Father Fausto for years, since indeed when he had been knee-high to a grasshopper crediting and hailing the Fredericksons or as his Father pronounced it the Frederickshons for their exquisitery and finery in being able to produce something absolutely remarkable from sometimes the most staidest of cloth and if not that then there was this magical element to the garments, you didn’t just wear the suit, the suit wore you!

Fausto, had been a young man when he had first ventured into the German tailors at the bequest of his own Father Gregorio, Emilio’s Grandfather only armed with the words — ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover Fausto, this family are from a long line of magical tailors. They enthuse the garments with not just love and beauty, nor experience and wisdom but if l didn’t know better, l would say with their very souls and blood, indeed it is almost like wearing another person’s skin, but in suit form. For the best suit anywhere in this world, this is the only place to be.”

“The moment you slip inside the fabric, it’s almost like you are a different person. My last bit of advice is you must know what you and who you want and where you want to be in life? Then the master tailor Gunther he will make you a masterpiece of craftsmanship. There will never be anything like it ever again, it will be your one and only suit from the time you start your professional life to the day you stop working, then you MUST take off that suit and return it to the family of the Frederickshons, so that they can destroy it, do you understand what l am saying to Fausto?”
“I think so Father, yes.” Fausto answered rather confusedly.

When Fausto had gone to the family tailors he had been made a suit so fine, so fitting that he never needed another suit ever again in his life, he had wanted to be rich and successful and within a very short time Fausto had become one of the cities most sought out grocers. No one had fruits or vegetables of the quality that Fausto had. No one could ever outsell him, outbid him, outsmart or outfool him. After 50 years he had built up an empire of grocery stalls that was the best in all of the Americas! Fausto had wanted his favourite and only Son Emilio to take on the family business, but Emilio needed his own power suit, his own successful three-piece so he could follow in his Father’s footsteps ………

.….except Fausto hadn’t actually asked his Son what and if he wanted to follow in his Father’s shadow, or if he wanted to lead his own life?
Of course the truth had he been asked was indeed different — Emilio wanted his sister Alessandra to take on her Father’s business. His sister had always been keenly astute on that side of the business, she was very taken with fruits and vegetables and herbs, she was a fabulous cook, who knew all the right ingredients to make each dish spectacular – she was in her own rights their families best chef! You see Emilio, well he had other interests, and they didn’t involve cucumbers, broccoli or marrows. He used to play with bananas and pretend they were guns. And even more recently he had made friends with Alphonse who had even bigger dreams.

Alphonse had at one time been a Five Points Gang member and was shrewd, he was also closely associated with the notorious Johnny Torrio. Alphonse himself was a right ‘snorky’, and also used the Frederickshons for his own suits, but he had many made and needed more than one, for his many shades of personality and success. Snorky was the terms for ‘sharp dresser’ and Emilio wanted to be like Alphonse too!

The year was 1923, the location was Chicago and Emilio and Alphonse walked into the Frederickshons Tailors where Gunther upon seeing them, greeting them both, “Emilio, your Papa Fausto said you would be stopping by with your new friend, but l never knew, this was the type of suit you wanted!” Turning to Alphonse, “Mr Capone it is so good to see you again, a new suit is it?”

“Gunther, not at all, I want you to outfit my new boy here, Emilio, tell the man what you want?”

Emilio, smiled a big proud toothy grin and said, “I want to look drop dead gorgeous.” He liked the ladies, but so far in his life, they seemed to realise he was a low life scumbag who liked gangs and violence and so stayed well away.

Unfortunately the Magical Tailor, Gunther, was become a trifle deaf. He was coming up to two hundred years old and was way past retirement age. Being slightly deaf, he failed to hear Emilio’s last word. You would have thought that it would have occurred to him that Emilio’s request was rather strange and therefore he must have misheard, but senility was creeping in, so he crafted the suit according to the very request he had heard.

Within a week of wearing it, Emilio had dropped dead.

The consequences of Gunther’s auditory and mental deterioration were even more drastically displayed when poor Tristram Van De Gould went in for a fitting.

He asked for a waistcoat that would make him appear slimmer, what he ended up with was a straightjacket that prevented him from eating at all. He died of an empty stomach.

If you thought things couldn’t get any worse, you were wrong because next……..

The taxicab stopped in front of the shop and a disparate group of Americans piled out. “Hey!” yelled the driver. “Someone needs to pay me!”

“Someone pay the poor guy, for Pete’s sake,” Bernie said. “What’s the matter with you people?” And he walked into the shop, bumping his head on the door. “Owww.”

“I’d love to pay him,” Kamala said, “but I gave all my money to that sweet little girl at the airport who said she was homeless.” She went into the shop too. Amy and Beto and Liz ran after her. “Wait for us!” they shouted.

Joe rolled his eyes. “Geez, I’ll pay him. I always get stuck with the check when I go out with those guys,” he said to the cabbie. “It’s just the weirdest thing!”

“I sympathize, buddy,” the cabbie said. “My in-laws are exactly the same. Have fun shopping.”

Trailing after the others into the shop, Joe found them already arguing with the suit maker, who was nearly deaf, apparently. Everyone was yelling. “CALM DOWN!” Joe shouted.

“I was here first,” Bernie insisted. “I should get to order my suit first.”

“Fine.” Amy plopped down in a chair. “I’ll just sit here and have some of their free juice. Can I drink it out of one of these shoes, Gunther?”

The ancient tailor heard his name and turned in her direction. “Ehh, no one here named Sue, honey. We have a Lucy, but she’s off today.”

“‘Scuse me!” Beto said. “But we don’t call women honey anymore. I got in trouble for making some jokes earlier, so now I intend to be an annoying sourpuss wherever I go. I think my suit should reflect my new personality of a serious man who has meditated deeply upon–”

Bernie waggled a finger in his face. “MY TURN MY TURN MY TURN!”

“Ahem,” Kamala said. “This is a perfect example of why we need a woman in charge. Men just feel so entitled to everything. It’s definitely time for women to show how things can be done in a more orderly and peaceful manner.”

“You hussy!” Liz cried. “You winked at my husband at the rally last month.”

“What are you talking about?” Kamala said. “Have you gone off the reservation again?”

“LOL!” Amy laughed, coughing on her shoe juice.

Beto tried so hard not to laugh he waved his arms around madly and knocked over a rack of ties. Joe picked them all up.

Liz showed Kamala a video on her phone. “See? There you are winking at my sweetie.”

“I was crying,” Kamala told her. “I have hay fever. I had to take a Benadryl.”

Gunther hobbled over and said, “Alrighty then, dearies. Who’s next? I’ve measured the men.”

Kamala went next. Liz said to Amy, “I don’t even know why we’re here. It seems so silly, but I didn’t want to be at a disadvantage when you all said you were getting these special suits made.”

“I know, right?” Amy shrugged. “They’re supposed to be magical, or something.”

“Hillary had a suit made here,” Joe said. “But then she didn’t wear it. I’m not sure why. I’d ask her, but she won’t talk to me anymore. Who can even understand women, am I right?”

They just glared at him. “Oopsy,” Beto said. “Uncle Joe needs to go for retraining. Perhaps some yoga.”

“What?” Joe looked around, bewildered. “What did I do?”

“This shop needs to unionize,” Bernie announced. “Who’s with me on that?”

Liz frowned. “I don’t see any employees, Bern. Plus, it’s another country. They don’t need your help.”

“Everyone needs my help!” Bernie waggled his finger at her.

Gunther finished up with Liz and Kamala, and now all six Americans had been measured and fitted for their custom suits. They had told Gunther exactly what their hopes were for the coming year and he would take that into account when designing their apparel. He tallied up the final bill and brought it back out to the front.

“All the suits should be ready in three weeks,” he said to the group. “I can have them air mailed for an additional fee, since I know everyone has to zip back across the pond to his and her busy lives. Now did you want separate cheques?”

Everyone looked at Joe. He sighed and took out his Amex. “No, I’ll put it on my card for the travel points. We’ll settle up later.”

“Thanks, Joe!” everyone said. “You’re the best! We’ll PayPal you!”

The suits did arrive three weeks later, as promised. But none of the suits fit. They were not only ill-fitting, but threads were ripping and the materials appeared to be cheap and frayed. And most disconcerting, there was no magic whatsoever.

Each of the customers complained to the Better Business Bureau, which immediately opened up a comprehensive investigation. After months of hearings and interviews, the BBB uncovered a vast conspiracy to undermine the manufacturing on the suits.

It turned out that that the tailor had, long ago, constructed a technicolor dream coat for a Russian autocrat named Vlad. And when Vlad found out about these new suits the magical tailor had been asked to make, he contacted an American mob boss who went by the name of “Tiny Hands,” who sent his son-in-law, Jared (aka, “The Kush”), to get his friend in high places, MBS, to lure the tailor to his country’s embassy, where he was dismembered and replaced with a body double imposter.

And the rest, as they say, is future history.

The End.


This story was brought to you by:
The Haunted Wordsmith
A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip
Tales From the Mind of Kristian
Light Motifs II
This, That, and The Other

Beware What You Say

The new owners shoved through the front door with their shoulders. Nels chuckled under her breath. Who knew one little door would require two burly men to open it. Stale, musty air escaped its confines and made the trio cough.

“Oh, man, what died it there?”

Jeff looked at Steve and shook his head. “Nothing. Just old air.”

“Smells better than your mustang,” Nels joked as she stepped across the threshold and looked around. “This is amazing!”

Jeff and Steve joined her in the foyer of the large house and looked around. “It does have potential, doesn’t it,” Steve said.

The three walked past a little girl in a grey-stained nightdress and looked around the front parlor. She followed the group as they walked through her home from room to room.

“What was this place?” Jeff asked as they opened a door on the third floor and found a large room filled with old metal bed frames.

Nels shivered as the little girl walked through her and joined the other children. “I don’t know, but this is creepy.”

“Used to be an orphanage,” Steve said. “Dr. Julian Hawkins ran it. The guy was a total psycho.”

No sooner was Dr. Hawkins’ name mentioned, the girls huddled together in fear. The trio were too busy listening to Steve’s story to hear the front door lock shift into place. The Doctor was in.