You could be a Special Victim of Organized Crime at your own residence. Where there is Criminal Intent, it is certain that Law & Order will return! This Caper previously appeared on SERENDIPITY.

The Big Blanket Caper, by Rich Paschall

Crimes like this often go unreported. Perhaps there is fear of confrontation. Perhaps there is an embarrassment. Perhaps the deed is temporarily forgotten in the light of dawn. It is evil, nonetheless. Victims need to come forward without fear of retribution. Action needs to be taken against the perpetrators.

The evildoers of these deeds may feign ignorance of their wicked actions. They may say to those who will care to listen to their lies that they meant no harm if harm was done at all. HA! These especially heinous crimes should be pursued by an élite squad known as the Special Victims Unit in order to bring Law and Order back to the home.

The Big Blanket Caper

We are, of course, talking about those dishonorable reprobates who steal the covers in the night. As a victim you may find that while you were once comfortable in your own bed, a wicked and immoral person has rolled himself (herself) up in your covers, exposing you to the open air. The warmth and safety that you once felt have been taken away by a corrupt person next to you.  Try as you might, you will never recover your portion of the big blanket that was a part of your property. You are left out in the cold, so to speak, while this iniquity goes unpunished. Prior to the light of dawn, there is no way to recover what is rightfully yours so you can re-cover yourself. This depraved action leaves you deprived of your security and domestic tranquility.

As if this encounter was not vile enough, there is also the matter of real estate. You may think that your stake in a territory would be sacred. You may believe what is yours is, well, yours. There are, however, dishonorable “land grabbers” that will sneak in to take your space if the opportunity presents itself. You must protect yourself against the wickedness of those who would swoop in to encroach upon the land.

A property deed will not protect you. No proof of your ownership is respected by these degenerates. The pain and suffering they will inflict upon their victims are absolutely unspeakable. The worst criminal offenders should be pursued by the detectives of the Major Case Squad. Often, however, these atrocities go uncaught and unpunished.

The Case of the Real Estate Mogul

As you have probably guessed, we refer to those corrupt beings who are not satisfied with half of the bed. These noxious mates will take additional territory as if it was the Wild West and they were free to stake any claim they want. It is time to fight back against this villainy. Tweet your dissatisfaction with the term #MyLand. Let the world know we will no longer stand for this wrongdoing.

Victims of the real estate scheme are particularly vulnerable if they momentarily leave their space in the middle of the night due to the calling of nature. It is impossible to ignore this call as if it were a phone that would not stop ringing. But beware! You may return to find that the malevolent mate has swooped in to claim half of what was once yours. You are left with just a sliver of land and little recourse against this sin.

Finally, the Big Blanket Caper and The Case of the Real Estate Mogul are not your only worries at night. Corruption will also take another form. The pernicious conduct that may befall you may actually and quite literally make you fall. If you think the unpleasant actions that have been taken against you are a mere accident, think again!

The Department of In-Home Security has issued a black and blue alert as a fair warning of the cruel and mischievous outrages that may lay in your path.  These ITDs (Improvised Tripping Devices) may surprise you in the middle of the night as you tumble in the dark. Shoes, flip-flops, gym bags, shopping bags, and any other item that may be used as a weapon will be left where you will not see them. BAM! You have fallen on your trip to the washroom or midnight raid of the refrigerator. You have been an unsuspecting victim in what you thought was a clear path in the night. No mere 4-watt night bulb is likely to provide protection against the disgusting action for which the villain will pretend was an unfortunate error.

Rest assured you are not alone and may speak out to bring down these troublemakers.

There are eight million stories in the naked city, these are just a few.  Feel free to bring these sinister actions to the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders!

See Also: A Trip In The Night


A Mini-series review.

This sixteen-part Thai drama is a complex tale of crime, hate, anger, and murder that tears apart the friendship of four families and sends us on a ten-year journey for truth, revenge, and redemption.  At the very opening of the first episode, before we even see the opening credits, Mai’s family is called to Marcus Theater where they are asked to identify a body. Mai has been shot and killed. Following this dramatic opening, we see some of Mai’s story leading up to his death. More will be revealed through flashbacks in future episodes.

In episode one, we see little Phukao (Phoo Phooripun Kruthirun), a boy of about 8. He idolizes his older brother Mai (Pluem Purim) who is about ten years older.  Even though their father owns an outdoor theater, Mai takes Phukao to the Marcus Theater to see movies. Mai has other reasons to go there which we will learn throughout the series.

Phukao is protective of the younger Kongkwan, a girl from a neighboring family, and he looks after her when she starts school. Kongkwan’s older sister Sutthilak (Pahn Riety), a new teacher, is secretly in a relationship with Mai, still a high school student. It is a forbidden romance.

Lokzo is the daughter of a single father and is friends with the other children. Plu is a few years older than the others and tries his best to keep the younger generation together, despite all that happens. In addition, when he is older (Off Jumpol) he tries to take care of his grandparents who he lives with.

We get to know the families and the younger children in the first episode and see them all together at the outdoor theater, Santi Movies, which has fallen on hard times and is going to close.

Later in the episode, we return to the opening scene. Mai’s girlfriend surprisingly admits to murdering him. Little Phukao is completely traumatized by the scene.  His terrified screams are absolutely gut-wrenching.

Even from the little that we have seen of what happened at Marcus Theater, we will soon begin to doubt that “Lak” actually killed her boyfriend. Because of the scandalous event, Lak’s family moved away.

10 Years Ticket

The second episode begins 10 years later. Phukao (Ohm Pawat) is still hurt by the loss of his brother 10 years earlier. The return of Lak’s family so that Kongkwan (Tu Tontawan) can attend the same high school that Phukao is attending brings back pain and anger to Phukao. The sight of Kongkwan and her family is a reminder of Lak’s killing of Mai.  As time goes on, Phukao forces Kongkwan to take him to the prison to see Lak. He has to know why she killed his brother. Instead of learning anything, seeds of doubt are planted that she committed the crime.

As we progress through the early episodes the circle of suspects who might have actually killed Mai begins to widen. It is not immediately apparent who are the bad guys and who are not.

There is a large cast of characters and storylines here. You will have to watch carefully to keep up with who is who. There will be several moments along the way when you will admit, “I didn’t see that coming!”

The parents and Plu’s grandparents all have stories that affect other characters. Mai and Phukao lived with their father (Bank Pawalit) and Phukao’s mother (Nicole Theriault). Mai had a different mother from an earlier marriage. Phukao’s mother tries to be a parent to both boys but has her own complicated backstory. She had a relationship with Pin (Tai Penpak), a woman we see delivering films to the theater.

Sor (Gunsmile Chanagun) is Mai’s best friend and is involved in some sort of intrigue with Mai. Later, Plu will take Mai’s place. Chalee (Marc Phuan) is the son of drug dealers and the older Phukao’s classmate.

Piak (Chalad Na) is the Marcus Theater owner who has taken in Sor and given him jobs. The police Inspector (Foei Patara) appears to be the son of the local mob boss. Many others populate the story. It is why you must pay close attention from the outset.

A short review such as this could never touch on all the characters and storylines. The interconnectedness of all things is exactly the element that will keep you hooked.


Mainly the story is about Phukao and his need to know why his beloved brother was murdered.  Phoo Phooripun and Ohm Pawat turn in stellar performances as Phukao. Often when we see children playing the younger versions of someone, it is hard to accept them as the same person. Phoo looks enough like young Ohm for you to believe him, but more importantly, he holds his own against this large crew of seasoned GMM TV actors. He is seen in frequent flashbacks in the series which help to explain what was going on 10 years earlier.  Ohm embodies the pain and anger Phukao has been feeling for ten years.

You will have found out almost everything about the various crimes, including the murder of Mai, by the end of episode 15. What follows is a protracted denouement for episode 16. This attempt to tie up all of the loose ends and present an odd speech by Sutthilak gives us the only awkward moments of the series.

You may find another surprise during the closing credits. If you have followed Ohm Pawat, you may know that he started taking singing seriously at the beginning of last year, likely the result of the encouragement and coaching from his good friend, Nanon Korapat.  It was due to their frequent public appearances together that Ohm learned to sing together with Nanon. His hard work at singing for the Fan Meeting in Thailand (ON Friend City) is well reported.

The OST (official soundtrack) for 10 years Ticket includes a closing song, “Unlovable,” performed by Ohm. It is his first performance on an official series number.  There is also a music video that includes scenes from 10 Years Ticket.  He gives an excellent performance and may give his close friend Nanon some competition in the best OST category.


The following short story ran last year on SERENDIPITY.

No Longer Playing, by Rich Paschall

It was a bright winter day. The sun was out. The temperature was above freezing, and it seemed like a good day to get out of the house. So, Art got into his car and drove the short distance to George’s house. He found a parking spot in front and went up and knocked on the door.

The house was quiet, so George was able to hear the knock clearly. When he answered, he was surprised to see Art standing on the front porch. “Oh, is the doorbell out again? I recently changed the batteries.”

“I did not even try it. That thing never works.” George pressed the button several times without success. “See?” Art said with a grin.

“I guess it needs replacing. What brings you by?” George asked.

“I thought we would walk down to that Colombian bakery you are always talking about and get a cup of java and some pastry. You need to get out of the house.”

“Jon loves that place,” George exclaimed. “He would go for the breakfast foods they make and come right back. He always gets too much.”

“Let’s go then. The walk will do you good.”

“No,” George stated in a sad voice. “Jon does not like me to go out, considering how things are right now. I only go to the supermarket or the post office when necessary. Why don’t you come in? I just made a pot of coffee, and I am sure we have something else you would like.”

That defeated the purpose of Art’s visit, but he went in anyway.

Art never knew how to react when George brought up Jon’s name, and he would do it often. If truth be told, Art never liked Jon and he took a few opportunities to tell him so in the past.

The mention of Jon was a conversation-stopper for Art, but George would just go on anyway. There was no telling what was in George’s head and Art did not know how to bring up anything about Jon, so he left it alone. George had to know the truth. Everyone knew the truth.

“It looks like you have been cleaning and organizing since I was here last,” Art noticed.

“Yes, I am only working part-time from home and will give it up completely very soon. I now have the opportunity to do some of those things I have been putting off for years. Jon never liked it when I left papers on the kitchen table or the counter. He is always complaining about it. So I am working on the clutter. Did you ever see all the papers on the desk in the backroom or on the radiator cover? None of that stuff is mine! I guess I will have to clean up all of that too,” George declared with an air of exasperation.

For the next hour, the two old friends talked about a variety of topics from sports to local politics. On occasion, George would mention Jon, and Art would resist commenting. He tried not to say anything in the past and now… Was there any point in saying anything now?

Finally, Art decided it was time to go. He grabbed his coat and headed for the door. “So what are you going to do this afternoon?” Art inquired.

Jon, rice, beans, and kitchen clutter.

“I will have to decide on dinner. I don’t have to make chicken, rice, and beans every night lately. Besides Jon was much better at…” George began choking on the words so Art jumped in to help out.

“Well, you were always a lousy cook anyway. Maybe you should just open a can of soup,” Art said with a bit of a smirk. George nodded.

“Jon would be glad we stayed in. He’s so concerned about me getting sick. Odd, isn’t it?”

It was indeed odd. There was no denying that.

Jon often stated his concern about George going anyplace and getting sick. For a while, Jon called every few days from work or from the gym to ask George if he was alright. “Sick? Are you sick? Are you sure?” George would always assure him that he was fine.

Jon was much younger and apparently in excellent physical condition. He worked hard and worked out harder. He never thought he himself would get sick. He was healthy and he was vaccinated. Then it happened. A breakthrough case landed him in the hospital and George was in quarantine. George had the booster shot but it was not yet available to Jon when he got sick.

In the early fall, on a day that was cloudy and cold, Jon passed. George had been waiting at home at Jon’s insistence. When the phone rang, George just stared at it, frozen in place, with a single tear running down his face. He knew without answering.

Since then George does not refer to Jon in the past tense. Some wonder if George realizes what has happened. Could he be in denial? Or does he just want to remember things as they were, with the belief Jon is about to walk through the door with a bag of Colombian pastries?


Last year on SERENDIPITY we brought you this faux review of a fictional series. We are happy to say it has not been renewed for another season, but like many other tired series, it could always be brought back for another run. Let’s hope we do not see it on the schedule again.

Season Two, a faux review by Rich Paschall

Last year at this time we were hoping this depressing story would not be renewed for a second season. By mid-July, it looked like there would be no new episodes. But one of the networks actually worked hard to have it continue and by Fall there were all-new episodes on the schedule. These not only had elements of the previous season to contend with, but also variants the viewing public did not expect. Here we are again, with the same heroes and villains bringing new plot twists.

The Grinch has nothing on the evildoers of this storyline. They have worked to keep the pandemic going much to the chagrin of the other characters, and of course, the audience too. No one can miss the element of irony introduced this year, as the work of the villains is actually killing off many of their supporters. Nevertheless, they persist in the actions that add more episodes to the second season.

Everywhere from the Small Village to the large metropolis, theaters were closed. Many restaurants were closed too. Some schools were forced to return to remote learning. Live events had to once again limit the audiences. Sports saw cancellations and delays. This is the “freedom” the antagonists had convinced the people they all wanted. Many of the characters in the show cheered these developments.

This leads to some sad story arcs that do not seem appropriate for holiday-themed shows. Hospitals were overwhelmed which introduced us to the characters of overworked doctors and nurses. Courtroom dramas became a new element as the guys in black hats took their battles to the conservative courts. With the programs going off in so many directions, it would only seem right that the Neilsen ratings begin to turn against this show.

Despite the convincing roles played by the villains of this drama, we give this series just one star. There is nothing redeeming about the presentation and we are hoping that this is the final season. Unfortunately, the FAUX network has pledged to bring it back until they have enough episodes for a syndication run.

Last season the holiday episode brought just one bright moment, as one of the heroes looks back on the crazy year. It was the closing number of the show.

The fictional review above is just a bit of satire running around in my brain. However, David Archuleta really did drop the above song on us right before Christmas last year. It seems like it fits the holiday season again this year.


The Old Ball Team, by Rich Paschall

When they started the monthly get-together it was almost 15 years earlier. There were a dozen of them then, and two of the “boys” had already retired. They had all known each other since childhood and were within a few years of one another in age. They went to the same park as kids and most played on the same teams.

They had decided years ago to meet once a month for dinner, so they could be sure to see one another regularly. Over the years dinner changed to lunch, as some of them did not want to drive or be out after dark. The sessions remained as lively as ever. It seemed none lost their boyhood personalities.

With the passage of time, the group had dwindled in size. While the first ten years saw no loss of participation, recent years were not kind to the group. Three had passed away and another three were no longer well enough to attend. One just seemed to disappear. No one could ever say what happened to Roger, although a few tried hard to find out.

nationals in DC baseball

The meeting was now on the first Tuesday of the month at 1 o’clock. Most of the lunch crowd was gone from the Open Flame Restaurant by then and the old guys could sit around and reminisce for as long as they wanted. Today they wanted to hang on just a little longer.

Raymond had arrived right on time which was his way all through life. Like the others, Ray was retired now. Unlike the others, he carried a secret with him that he would not tell, even to his best friends.

Bob came with Ray. He was no longer able to drive and in fact, needed a good deal of help to get in and out of Ray’s car. Ray always allowed enough time for Bob, so that they could walk slowly together and get in and out of the house, the car, and the restaurant safely.  To Ray, Bob was like a rock, the anchor of the team. Now Ray was Bob’s rock of support. There was a certain irony in that, and Bob would never know it.

Frank still worked a little. It is not really that he wanted to do it, but he could not shake free of some business obligations he had over the years. He did not need the money and tried to steer any business to someone else. If you asked, Frank would tell you he was retired.

Bill was always late. Everyone would have been surprised if he had been on time. He maintained an active life and was always finding more to do than he had time. This seemed to keep Bill healthy and robust.  Perhaps he was the only one of the remaining members in such good shape.

Without any doubt at all, Jerry was the talkative one of the bunch. If others wanted to tell a story or share some news, they had better do it before Jerry showed up. He was likely to dominate the conversation from the time he arrived until the time the check came. It was guaranteed that Jerry would tell his favorite stories, although all of these guys knew them just as well as Jerry. In fact, one or more of them probably participated in whatever episode he was recalling.

At every meeting, Jerry was sure to get around to the championship baseball game.  “What were we Bob, 12 or 13?  What a summer that was!  I remember when Bob dove for that ball in the last inning.  If that got through the infield we were screwed.  Raymond was so damn slow out there in left field.”  They all would laugh, even Ray.

Usually, the boys would be planning to leave around two, but they told stories and laughed their way past 2:30 in the afternoon.  Finally, Ray called for the check. Over the objections of the others, Ray paid the bill. They had always split the check evenly. No one ever paid for everyone, but Ray was a diplomat and a businessman and knew how to get his way. The matter was settled.

They all made it out into the warm autumn day together and stood on the sidewalk for a moment.  Raymond gave them all a long hard look but said nothing. He knew Bob could not come out any longer.  Bob’s wife had strongly objected to Raymond continuing to take him to lunch. This would be the last time, for sure. Raymond was dying of cancer but kept it to himself. He looked well enough, so the others just did not know.

As the two walked to Raymond’s car nearby, the others said goodbye to Frank. It seems that Frank’s wife had been insisting that they move to Michigan to be nearer to the kids and grandkids. Since Frank was the practical one of the group, he also realized it was better to have a safety net of younger people nearby if the need should ever arise. These old guys may have promised to always be there for one another, but that now came with the heavy reality that it just could not be so.

As Frank wandered off in the other direction, Bill and Jerry stood looking at one another, and big, knowing smiles came across their faces. Nothing more had to be said.  It was all right there before them. Words, tears, and hugs would have been out of character.

Finally, Jerry left Bill with the same words he issued for years, “I’ll see you at the next game. I’ve got the ball and gloves, you bring the bats.”

“OK, Captain,” Bill said and walked away.


A family short story by Rich Paschall

It was not like Billy’s dad to just walk into his room. At 17 years old he really expected his parents to knock first. He quickly closed out of his chat and turned around to see what his father wanted.

“What’s up, dad?” Billy began.

“Son, I think there is something you should tell me.” Billy’s father paused and waited for a response. Billy was clueless. He could not think of a thing he should say, so there was this long awkward silence as the two of them shot puzzled looks at one another.

Over the last two months, Billy’s father had noticed the nature of his son’s friendship with a handsome young classmate named Josh. They went everywhere together. They studied together and they spent hours on the phone together. Going to the movies on a Saturday night was just like the dates Billy’s dad had with his wife when they were teenagers. Billy would spend a lot of time getting ready. He picked out his best date-night-type clothes and he absolutely lit up when Josh appeared at the door. Dad felt he could not be mistaken.

empty chairs

“No, Dad, I can’t think of anything,” Billy finally said in his best “I’m innocent” voice.

“Are you gay?” his father shot back. All of a sudden something heavy fell on Billy’s chest. It must have been the weight of reality hitting him. He was unprepared.

“Yes dad,” Billy responded as boldly as he could after the truth was already out there anyway.

“And this Josh fellow, is he your boyfriend?” Billy did not want to out Josh to his father but he figured that he somehow knew so he gave up that truth too.

“Yes, dad.” Once again they stared at one another until Billy could finally throw that weight off himself and speak up.

“So, it’s OK then?” Billy asked. His dad did not want to say “yes” because it was not alright with him, but he did not want to say “no” because he recalled how difficult teenage love could be and just figured that gay teenage love was even harder. After a few moments deep in thought, Billy’s dad had a course of action in mind.

“Son, I want you to tell your mother this week. Am I clear about that?”

“No dad, please,” the boy replied in horror. “Can’t you tell her?” If his dad was not all “open-arms” about this he could not imagine his mother’s reaction. She was far more right of center than dad.

“Billy, if you think you are old enough to be making out with another boy, you are certainly old enough to man up and tell your mother exactly who you are.” At that, Billy’s dad left the room and quietly closed the door on the way out.

For the rest of the week, Billy was a nervous wreck. Every time he saw his mother he could feel a knot in his stomach. His father started shooting him angry glances for failing to tell his story. Billy did tell two people though, Josh and his sister, Mary. The latter was a tactical error, to be sure.

One night when they all happened to be at the dinner table at once, a rare occurrence for two busy parents and two teenagers, Mary could not hold her brother’s secret any longer. “So, little Billy, did you tell mom yet that you’ve been kissing boys?”

Billy’s mom immediately looked like she had seen the ghost of her dear departed mother glaring at her. “Robert, did you know about this?” Billy’s mom shouted across the room at her husband. He did not respond but she could tell after twenty-three years of marriage what the response would be. “How dare you!” she screamed at either Billy or her husband, neither was quite sure, and then she stormed out of the room.

Over the next few weeks, Billy’s parents argued often about why the boy was gay. Each thought the other had a hand in it, but only mom was mortified and angry beyond reason.

“If you had been a stronger father,” she took to telling him almost daily, “This would not have happened.”

To which he frequently responded, “I tried to discipline the boy but every time I did he would run to you and get off the hook. I would say you are the reason he’s a mama’s boy.” From there it only got worse.

After one particularly stormy session, Billy’s mom finally declared she was through. “I want a divorce. We can not continue these fights in front of the children.” Robert agreed and went to their room. A stunned Billy, eavesdropping in the next room, began to cry.

Robert called his brother and asked to stay a few days. He packed a bag and prepared to leave when Billy ran into his room. “No dad, please don’t leave. I am sorry, it’s all my fault. I’ll change, I promise. I won’t be gay anymore. Please.” Billy buckled at the knees and went down to the floor. His dad helped him up and sat him on the edge of the bed.

“Look son, my marriage was over years ago. It took something like this to point that out. You can not change this anymore than I can change who you are.” At that, he reached over to hug the boy. He planted a kiss on his forehead, got up, grabbed his bag, and walked out the door.


The following appeared last year on Fathers’ Day on SERENDIPITY.

A Father and Son story

The knocking on the door was expected. Jack got up, shuffled across the room, and opened the door for his neighbor. “Well, old-timer, I hope you have the coffee ready,” the guest said cheerfully. “Who are you calling old? If I recall correctly, you are older than I am,” Jack replied

It was true. The neighbor was in fact almost a month older.  It was Jack’s reminder whenever David called him an old-timer. The two had been friends for over 50 years and neighbors for almost 40. Now they were old and alone and sharing coffee two afternoons a week.

Conversations at Jack’s kitchen table ranged from sports to high school antics. A few stories had probably been told hundreds of times. It was not that they forgot they told the stories, it was just that they loved recalling certain memories. It was their way of passing a little time.

If David stayed on too long, he would meet up with Jack’s son, John.  It was John Junior, actually, but no one dared to call him that. He hated being referred to as a Junior and would tell you so if you tried it. Many things seemed to annoy Junoir so there was no reason to add on to it.

This was one of the days David stayed too long. Junior had arrived.

John stopped in around the same time almost every day of the week. He would ring the bell, then let himself in with his own key so his father did not have to get up. Jack liked to answer the door just for the exercise of it, but Junior was impatient.

“I see you two are drinking coffee late in the afternoon again,” John began without any greeting.

“We have a rule, no coffee after 6 PM,” David explained.

“It’s almost six now,” John declared.

“And we’re almost done now,” Jack replied.

“Well don’t be telling me how you can’t sleep at night when you are drinking coffee at this hour, because I don’t want to hear it.” Exasperation was seeping out of Junior faster than the sweat on his forehead. Following that declaration, he began his inspection like a drill sergeant checking up on hopeless recruits.

“Dad, you have put the empty coffee pot back on the hot burner again. Can’t you turn this off when you are done?” Junior looked right at David as he continued, “One day last week I had to clean this thing up. There were coffee grounds in the water section.”

“I guess I must have gotten confused and put some grounds in the wrong spot,” Jack said in an embarrassed tone.

“I guess you really need to concentrate on what you are doing,” John said. “Last week I found the soup all cooked away in the pot and the stove was still on. You are going to burn the house down one of these days if you are not careful.” Junior’s annoyance had now reached the level of full-on lecture. He reminded Jack of all the things he needed to do better. He admonished his dad for not concentrating on the task at hand and just sitting down and forgetting about things.

“I guess I better check on everything else while I am here. There’s just no telling what other problems we have going on.”

The two elderly gentlemen sat in embarrassed silence as the Junior one went from room to room looking everything over. He checked what was turned on and what was off. He looked at electric cords to make sure they were in good condition and not in the way. He took up throw rugs and moved items around. He returned to the kitchen armed with his report.

“Dad, you’ve got shoes and slippers in your path from the bed to the washroom.  You need to put those things out of the way.  Some night you are going to trip and fall.”  Jack just nodded. “You should get one of those buttons you wear to call for help.”

“They are too expensive,” Jack reasoned.

“You won’t say it’s too expensive if you fall some night and die right there on your bedroom floor,” Junior declared in a disheartening manner.

porcelain sink sunshine BW

David leaned across the kitchen table and said to Jack, “Yep, I am pretty sure you won’t have much to say then,” and he gave him a wink. John the junior one completely missed it.

“One more thing, I see you are still leaving the light on in the bathroom. Can’t you at least turn it off during the day?”

“I might not get there before dark,” Jack explained.

John shook his head. “I see I am going to have to get some night lights. OK, I can’t be spending any more time here today. I have my own things to do.” The visit had reached its peak on the Junior annoyance meter and it was time to go.

“I guess I will stop by tomorrow. Please be careful, dad”

“All right, son.” Junior was already at the door by the time Jack got out those three short words.

When John was out the door, David said, “You know if I talked to my father in that tone he would have slapped me. As a matter of fact, he is 95 now and I think he would still slap me. You should not let him talk to you like that.”

After a moment’s reflection, John explained, “Sometimes I think about how I talked to my mother as she got older. I was always impatient and frustrated. I did not like having to take so much of my time to deal with her issues. She was forgetful and as she got to 80 and beyond I should have realized how she struggled with certain things.”

Jack looked off in the distance and saw the past float by, “I guess it is true.”

“What is?” David asked.

With regret written on his face, John answered. “What goes around, comes around.”


A short story of gratefulness from Rich Paschall. The following originally appeared on SERENDIPITY.

Max had to get an early start on Monday.  Three times a month it was the most important day of the week and he did not want to be late.  It was quite the walk to the Methodist church but he felt he was up to it.  Anyway, he did not want to ride part of the way on the bus as that seemed a waste of money.  If he had a good haul, however, he would definitely consider public transportation on the way back.  Even though Max was not a Methodist, he was headed to the Methodist church.

Next door to the church stood a small wooden building.  It was painted grey, like the church building, and it seemed too small for most uses.  No one recalls why the building was there originally, but now it served as the neighborhood food pantry.  Three churches participated in the collection of goods.  Each took 1 Sunday a month to collect canned goods and non-perishable items at their services and then bring them to the pantry.  The Methodist church got the honor of running the pantry because it had the extra space and the Reverend Lawrence J. Shepherd had the time three mornings a week to hand out goods to those in need.  The fourth and sometimes fifth Sunday of the month found no collections and the food pantry was likely to run out of food.  In the final weeks of the month, the Reverend Shepherd asked his own congregation to consider bringing in items again.  If there was a fifth Sunday in the month, the good reverend was practically begging.  He would call local stores asking for assistance.  It was the small shops that would donate, never the big supermarkets.

UU door

It was a good plan to be at the food pantry at 9 am when the Reverend came to unlock the door.  It was also a good idea to bring a sturdy bag with you, one that was good for carrying goods a long distance.  If you had no bag, the reverend always had some used plastic bags from the markets and the donated supplies.  People seemed more willing to recycle their old plastic bags than to actually give food or money, but the reverend was thankful for anything that would help him out.

“Good morning, reverend,” Max said in a cheerful voice.  Max always had a smile on his face and seemed to absolutely light up when he ran into anyone he knew.  People were as glad to see this happy person as he was to see them.

“Hello Max,” the reverend said.  “I think we have some good items this week.”  That pleased Max very much.  He felt quite fortunate to be getting good food.  It was not something that Max could afford on his own.

When Max was pushed out of his job at retirement age, he had little savings.  Almost half of his fixed income went to pay his rent.  The utilities and regular monthly expenses took about a third.  He only filled prescriptions that were low-cost and skipped the others in order to stretch his funds.  The little that was left did not exactly cover the food costs.  That is why he saw the food pantry as a blessing that was bestowed upon the neighborhood in general and himself in particular.  He just could not imagine why he was so lucky to have the pantry.  He knew other neighborhoods did not have one.

After the reverend had gathered up a nice selection for Max, he handed him back his bag filled with goods.  Max was not one of those people who asked for specific things from the shelves behind the counter.  He was pleased with whatever he was handed.  “I guess we will see you next week, Max,” Shepherd said.  “Bless you.”

“Bless you too, reverend,” Max replied happily as he reached out and shook the reverend’s hand. It was just as if he was shaking God’s own hand right there in that little building next to God’s house.  Of course, it was not the house of Max’s God, but he figured they all pretty much belonged to the same supreme being.

Despite a brisk north wind blowing right at Max, he bravely made his return trip on foot. He did not feel that being handed some excellent cans and boxes was any reason to turn around and throw away good money.  His fingers and toes were rather numb when Max got into the small apartment and finally sat down.  He would make the trip again the following week and the week after.  The reverend only allowed you to come once a week.  Few showed up on the weeks when there had been no collection of goods that Sunday.

Each Sunday Max made his way to his own church.  They participated in the food collection once a month and did their best to minister to the needs of the parish poor.  After such a fine selection of goods that Monday, Max felt it was very important to show up at church on time the following Sunday.  He greeted everyone with a smile as he walked in.  He paused at the back of the church where there was a small safe.  In the top was a slot to receive donations for the St. Vincent DePaul Society for the poor.  Max reached into his pocket and found a quarter, dime, 2 nickels, and a penny.  He dropped them into the old safe.  Even though his coat and gloves were given to him by the Society, Max did not consider himself one of the poor.  Instead, he felt obligated to help out if he could.  He helped on the coat drive, the Christmas tree sale, the donut sale, and other activities to benefit the poor.  Why should he not help, when he had so much?

As he moved up the center aisle, Max spotted an empty pew.  This meant he could get a nice seat on the aisle where he could look right down the middle and see the service.  He stepped in, knelt down, and gave thanks for the bounty in his life.


This short story originally appeared on SERENDIPITY. It was also previously presented here. I must confess that it is one of my favorites.

A piece of home alone fiction by Rich Paschall

The alarm went off at 6 am as usual.  Instead of hitting the snooze bar, George turned off the alarm and got up.  It was Wednesday, trash collection day in the small Florida town.  He no longer had Ethel to push him out of bed so he had to muster the resolve to get up and take care of the chores.  Jack, the faithful terrier, got up as well and was running around George’s feet as he tried to go through his morning routine.  Terriers do not lack morning energy.


After he got dressed and made his way to the kitchen, he started the coffee.  Ethel used to take care of this while George took care of the hyperactive dog, but his wife of 40 years was gone now.  George had to make his own coffee. George had to do all the chores, had to eat his meals alone.  It was not the retirement George had envisioned.

A little over two years earlier, George retired and moved from a big Midwestern city to a small town in a warm climate. This was the retirement George always wanted. He was no longer going to cut the grass. There was an association for that.  He was not going to do major repairs because there was an association for that too. And he certainly was never going to shovel snow again. Before he moved south, he sold his snowblower, gave away his shovels and winter coats, and vowed never to return north in the winter, if at all.

As the coffee was brewing, George set down a fresh bowl of water for a disinterested terrier. Then he went to the kitchen door that led into the garage.  As he started down the two steps to garage level, he reached for the button that opened the garage door. At that Jack came racing out the kitchen door and when the garage door was open just enough, he ran under it and onto the front lawn. There he ran around in a circle for a couple of minutes before looking to see what George was doing.

George was busy dragging the plastic trash can down the driveway to the street where he parked it right next to his old-fashioned mailbox.  After that, he walked back to get the recycle bins.  One bin held old newspapers and magazines and the other had some cans and bottles.  He put one on top of the other and then maneuvered them onto a two-wheel “hand truck.”  They were too low and too heavy for George to drag down the driveway.  When this task was complete, George went back inside to get his American flag, which he promptly took down to the post that held his mailbox.  On the side of the post, he had affixed a flag pole holder so his flag could be seen as he came down the street.  George would never admit that it was a reminder of where his driveway began so he could find it easily when he returned from a drive, but that is why it was there.

“Come on, Jack,” George called and the dog raced halfway to George and stopped.  It was a game and Jack expected George to play.  George was well aware of this game, every time George would move, the dog would race around in a circle and stop.  There he would wait for George to make another move and the race was on again.  George was too old for the game today and went into the garage and headed toward the kitchen door.  Jack watched carefully from the driveway.  When George hit the button to close the garage door, Jack raced inside.

On their return to the pale yellow kitchen, George put down a bowl of food for Jack.  Then he fixed some toast and took that, a cup of coffee and a newspaper he collected from the front porch and went to sit on the screened-in patio.  Jack came and laid down at his feet.  George liked reading the local news each morning.  Everything about small-town America seemed exciting to him.  He read about civic improvements, about events at the library, and about meetings at the town hall.  He read about the plans for the upcoming year and even the New Year’s party at a local hall.  George survived Christmas on his own and guessed he would not even be up at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Without dear Ethel, he had no desire to stay up late.  While ringing in the New Year at a party might help bring back fond memories, they would also recall his dear wife who was gone too soon.  He was not sure he could bear that.

When the news had been devoured, George got up slowly and took his plate and coffee cup to the kitchen sink and placed them there.  He looked all around the room and could not decide on another thing to do so he thought he would go lay down awhile.  It was 10 am.  At that moment, the phone rang.

“Hello,” George said with a hint of surprise that anyone would call him.

“Hello George,” Ethel said softly.

Soon after George and Ethel moved to Florida, Ethel’s father had passed away.  He left her the big family house in rural Iowa.  It was the sort of house Ethel always wanted.  It had a big front porch where she could rock away the summer hours in her own rocking chair and a nice fireplace where she could get warm and read good books all winter.  George had no idea this is what Ethel had wanted for years, just as she had no idea he would take them to Florida on his retirement.  When she got the big Iowa house she announced to George she was moving there without him, and soon thereafter she was gone along with virtually every personal effect she could take.

Once every few months she called to see if George was OK, nothing more.

“Please come home, Ethel,” George said with a heavy dose of sadness in his voice.

“I am home,” she said and quietly hung up the phone.


This short story originally ran on SERENDIPITY.

The Inconvenience Store, by Rich Paschall

It was a peaceful summer evening.  The sun had just set.  The air was warm and the light breeze was refreshing.  Jorge had walked three blocks from his small apartment to the local convenience store for a Big Drink and Big Sandwich combination.  He had little food at home and did not feel like making anything anyway.  It felt good to take a walk on such a pleasant evening.  There was nothing quite like summer in the city.

There were a few others in the small store but Jorge paid no attention to them.  He went directly to the soft drink machine and then on to the Sandwich Stop.  After he made his selection, he noticed there was a bit of a commotion at the front of the store.

Three young men rushed in.  They looked like they were in their late teens or early twenties.  Two were tall and wearing white t-shirts and baggy shorts.  The third was a large guy wearing a black sleeveless shirt with some design Jorge could not make out and black baggy jeans.  The big guy was also carrying a machine gun or automatic rifle.  Jorge was unfamiliar with weapons and was not too sure.

Do Not Cross

Do Not Cross

“Don’t anyone move,” the big guy commanded.  “Don’t anyone make a sound neither, not a sound.”

One of the others told the cashier to give him all the money if he wanted to live, and the third thief looked down all the aisles to see if anyone was hiding or there might be trouble there.  The few people in the store had not moved.  The aisle checker then stopped at the cooler and reached in for a twelve-pack of beer, but paused like he did not know if he should steal it.

“Just take it,” the big guy shouted, “and let’s go.” He grabbed the beer and the thief at the counter only collected a small amount of money which he put in a backpack.

As they prepared to leave, there was a small whimper from the next aisle from where Jorge was standing.  In response, the big guy sprayed the aisles with bullets.  Jorge hit the floor.  There was a sharp burning sensation in his abdomen.  His head was groggy and he could not make himself move at all.  He slowly drifted away from the conscious world.

The cashier gasped and as the big guy got to the door he turned and sent a few shots in the direction of the cash register.  The convenience store worker had already hit the floor and shots went over the top of him and heavily damaged the display behind the counter.

As the thieves got to their car, the police were pulling up to the lot.  The cashier had set off a silent alarm when the trouble started and the response had finally arrived.  There was an exchange of gunfire as the young men were able to get in the car and out of the lot, with a squad car in pursuit.

police car

Two officers wearing bulletproof vests had their guns out and cautiously entered the store.  The cashier saw them in a monitor high on a wall and shouted, “Help them, help them.”

One officer carefully went around the counter to find the cashier lying on the floor.  He approached slowly with his gun pointed at the young man.  He had to be sure it was not a trick.  Finally, he helped the trembling cashier to his feet.

The other officer looked down the aisles and immediately called for medical attention for multiple victims.  He searched the aisles before going over to one of the victims.  By the time he checked to see if the first one was alive, more police were in the store and in the parking lot.  One ambulance came onto the lot closely followed by another.  A police officer outside was now obviously taking charge of the scene and ordering onlookers away.  Paramedics rushed into the store and observed pools of blood in two different aisles.  There was a lot of damage caused by the bullets of just one man.

The next thing Jorge was aware of feeling was the burning of his stomach.  It was the sharpest pain of his life.  His head was heavy and he could not open his eyes.  It seemed, however, that he was now lying on his back, rather than face down on the tile floor of the convenience store.  In his stupor, he could not tell where he was or even if he was alive.  He drifted off again.

Three adults were taken to The Resurrection Hospital.  It was the closest trauma center.  The Catholic hospital had become familiar with treating gunshot wounds.  It seems they saw someone every week who had been gunned down.  The victims may have suffered from a gang dispute, domestic violence, armed robbery, or were just innocent bystanders.  The increase of guns had brought an increase of gunshot victims to the Emergency Room.

Sometimes the medical staff could do little more than calling the chaplain to say a prayer.

Back at the convenience store was one more victim.  A ten-year-old boy was going to be taken directly to the morgue.  He would not whimper again.