And what happened next?

what happened next

Apparently a lot of readers didn’t like the way my post from earlier today ended. It was intended to be a short work of flash fiction in response to one of Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompts.

Some readers called it a cliffhanger. Some thought it ended too abruptly. A number of commenters asked me what was going to happen next in my short story.

One reader even reblogged my post and asked her followers to give her a hand by writing their own conclusions to the story. She said that she just had to know the answer to the question, “and what happened next?”

So since it was my story that started all of this, let me throw down this challenge to anyone brave enough to pick up the gauntlet and run with it. Here’s all you have to do:

  • Read the post in question here.
  • Write your own post on your blog* describing what happened next.
    • If you want, you can write a conclusion to this story.
    • Or write another installment to the story and then ask your readers to take it from there and write the next chapter.
  • Publish your ending (or continuation) on your blog.
  • Link your post back to this one, so for those who are interested, they can easily link back to your post and read what you wrote for your ending to, or continuation of, the story.

Have fun with this. I hope some of you will rise to the occasion and write what happened next. I am so looking forward to reading what any of you write.


*For those readers who don’t have their own blogs, feel free to post your version of “what happened next” in the comments.

 

I seen it all

Pedestrians

Trying not to panic, Ralph’s eyes darted all around the busy sidewalk in search of his younger cousin, Henry. Ralph knew that Henry wasn’t quite all there, but he had promised his Aunt Sarah that he would take her son with him when he took the bus into the city that Saturday.

Henry had been walking right behind Ralph just a few seconds earlier, but he seemed to have disappeared into the throng of people on the sidewalk. Ralph was feeling frantic. He started to walk back in the direction they’d just come from, glancing from side to side hoping to catch sight of his cousin.

And then he saw Henry running awkwardly toward him. “Hey Ralphie, Ralphie!” Excited and out-of-breath, Henry leaned his head up against Ralph’s shoulder once he caught up with him.

“Ralphie, I seen the whole thing,” Henry said, breathlessly.

“Huh?” Ralph said. “What did you see?”

“The whole thing, Ralphie. I seen the whole thing,” Henry repeated, still trying to catch his breath.

“What whole thing, Henry? What the hell are you talking about?” Ralph pushed Henry, whose head was still nestled into Ralph’s shoulder, away from him. Then he placed both of his arms on Henry’s shoulders and looked into his cousin’s eyes. “Calm down, Henry, and tell me what you saw.”

“I seen HER,” Henry said, brimming over with excitement. “I seen HER,” he repeated.

“Who’s ‘her’?” Ralph asked. “Who did you see?”

“I don’t know who she is,” Henry admitted. “But I seen her, Ralphie. I seen her back there.” Henry turned and pointed to the intersection behind him.

Ralph had never seen Henry this manic and it worried him. He wondered exactly who or what Henry had seen.

“Henry, can you show me who you saw?” Ralph said in a voice as calm and quiet as he could muster.

“I’ll show you what I seen, Ralphie,” Henry said. “Come with me.” Henry grabbed Ralph’s hand and pulled him in the direction from which he had just come running.

They walked to the corner and Henry pulled Ralph to the right. Ralph saw that the side street was blocked off about a third of the way down the block by several blue police barricades. A crowd of maybe 20 people had gathered around the wooden barriers.

“That’s where I seen her, Ralphie,” Henry blurted out, pointing to where the onlookers stood.

They walked toward the crowd and Henry pointed to the center of what was clearly a crime scene. The cops were attaching yellow police tape to the barricades to create a perimeter. In the middle was the body of a young woman.

“That’s her, Ralphie, that’s the woman I seen.”

“Henry, did you see what happened to her” Ralph asked.

“Yeah, Ralphie,” Henry responded. “I seen the whole thing.”

Ralph again grabbed Henry by the shoulders and looked straight into his eyes. “Henry, this is important. Did you see what happened to her?”

Now agitated, Henry responded, “Yes, Ralphie. That’s what I just said. I seen the whole thing. I seen what happened to her.”

“Henry, will you tell the policeman what you saw?”

“Yes, Ralphie. I’ll tell him what I seen.”

This time it was Ralph who grabbed Henry’s hand. They walked to the nearest police officer.

“Officer,” Ralph said.

The cop interrupted him. “This is a crime scene, son. You need to move on.”

“Officer,” Ralph said again. “My cousin says he saw what happened to the woman.”

The cop looked the two of them over. He seemed skeptical. “Wait here,” he said and walked over to another man who was not wearing a uniform. The cop and plain-clothed policeman glanced back that the two teenage boys.

The plain-clothed man approached the two boys. “I’m Detective Morrisey,” he said when he reached them. “Did you two see what happened here?”

Henry stood as tall as he could. “Me!” he said proudly. “It was me. I seen the whole thing. I seen it all.”


This post is part of this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt: “scene/seen.”

Twelve to one

Spam

I usually check my spam folder daily. And, just to ensure that no legit comments get erroneously tagged as spam, I usually go through them individually at the end of each day and delete — one at a time — all of the actual spam comments.

But since my escape from Snowpocolypse in Boston this past Monday, coupled with being quite busy with my job this week, it’s been a few days since I last checked my spam folder.

As I compose this post, 324 spam comments have accumulated in my spam queue. 324 spam comments!

There’s no way I’m going to go through them individually. I will simply have to empty my spam folder in one fell swoop without checking to see if any of them are not actually spam. I don’t have the time to do that.

But what I do find rather disconcerting is the message that “Akismet has protected your site from 228,330 spam comments already.”

That’s rapidly approaching a quarter of a million spam comments! And even more depressing is the fact that my blog has generated 2.7 times the number of spam comments as it has total views!

WTF!

My blog has had only 19,307 “legitimate comments.” At least according to the highly reliable WordPress stats. [cough, cough]

That means that spam comments outnumber legitimate comments by a ratio of almost 12 to 1. For those of you who are not familiar with how ratios work, that translates to 12 spam comments for each legitimate comment. That’s just crazy.

What about your blog? What is your ratio of spam comments to legitimate comments?

One fell swoop

And speaking about “one fell swoop,” what the hell does that mean? Well, I know what it means, but how did it come to mean what it means?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “fell,” in its adjective form, means fierce, savage, cruel, terrible.

One site suggests that the phrase “one fell swoop” was coined by none other than William Shakespeare, who used it in his play, Macbeth in 1605.

In Act 4, Scene 3. Macduff finds out that his wife, children, and servants have been savagely murdered. He laments to Macolm:

He has no children. All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?

The kite Shakespeare referred to is a hunting bird. He used the imagery of a bird’s swooping down to indicate a ruthless and deadly attack.

Hence, a fell swoop has taken on the meaning of a quick, sudden, downward movement by an attacking bird.

Or as a way to delete all spam comments with one quick, sudden click of the mouse.

The more you know….The  more you know

Premio Dardos

A while back I declared this blog to be an awards-free blog. And yet people will still occasionally tag this blog for an award.

I’ve already posted a rant about why I don’t accept blog awards. If you want, you can read it here. The long and the short of it is that I view blog awards to be like chain letters. And I’m not a fan of chain letters.

Premio DardosThat said, I do appreciate it when someone likes my blog enough to select it for an award, despite my having declared it to be awards-free. I am honored and humbled.

And so, when Angie K, over at Not Another Tall Blog, nominated Mindful Digressions for the Premio Dardos award, while I’m not accepting the award, I am acknowledging it.

What is the Premio Dardos Award, you ask? Good question.

Premio Dardos means “Prize Darts” in Spanish. It is an award given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.”

To be honest, I’m not convinced that my blog has any of those attributes, but hey, who am I to judge?

As with all blog awards, there are rules for accepting it. The rules for this award are:

  • Accept the award by posting in on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his or her blog. Done
  • Include the image of the “Premios Dardos” in the post. Done
  • Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement. Not Done

It’s that last rule that gives me pause. I am currently following 68 blogs, and quite a few of these bloggers post daily. Some even more frequently.

There are even more blogs than the 68 I follow that I consider to be worthy of attention and acknowledgement and that I would love to follow if only I had the bandwidth to do so.

I don’t. I do have a life outside of blogging, you know. And that prevents me from writing posts and reading others’ blogs 24/7. Plus I need to sleep every so often.

Take a Peek

If you look at the sidebar on the right of my blog, and scroll down just a bit, you will see 50 very worthy blogs listed there under the heading “Take a Peek.” I hereby nominate all 50 of them for the Premio Dardos award.

However, there are 18 others that aren’t listed because, for whatever reason, WordPress will list no more than 50. The 50 it lists are the 50 blogs I’ve started following most recently (or, in some cases, blogs I’ve had to re-follow because they mysteriously disappeared from my list of blogs that I follow).

So here are the other 18 blogs I follow. These blogs are not listed on my sidebar but are blogs that I also consider worthy of acknowledgement. They are the blogs I have been following the longest and should not be left off simply because WordPress sets an arbitrary limit of 50 that can be listed on my sidebar.

So thank you, once again, Angie K. And thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to nominate this blog for an award. Especially since I don’t do blog awards.

One-Liner Wednesday — The Scopes Trial

Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, 1925
Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, 1925

Today’s One-LIner Wednesday comes from the recorded transcript of the Scopes Trial, which took place in a Dayton, Tennessee courtroom in July of 1925.

Dayton teacher John T. Scopes was being prosecuted for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in his high school class, despite a new Tennessee state statute banning the teaching in public schools of any theory that denied the biblical story of Creation.

Chicago criminal attorney Clarence Darrow served as the defense attorney for Scopes and former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan acted as opposing counsel.

It was day seven of the trial and Clarence Darrow had called William Jennings Bryan, as an expert on the Bible, to the stand.

Darrow was asking Bryan when the “Great Flood” took place and Bryan said he couldn’t fix the date, although he did say that some biblical scholars put it at 4004 BC.

Darrow then asked, “What do you think?”

Bryan responded, “I do not think about things I don’t think about.”

Darrow’s response is today’s One-Liner Wednesday. He asked William Jennings Bryan:

“Do you think about things you do think about?”

Coolest school principal ever

Important Legal Disclaimer

This blog assumes no responsibility for your actions if you’re a parent who goes off the deep end upon hearing the song “Let it Go,” or a reasonable facsimile thereof, even one more time.

Matt Glendinning, principal of the Providence, RI prep school, Moses Brown, came up with a truly imaginative way to reach out to the school’s student body.

In anticipation of the impending blizzard, headmaster Glendinning took to YouTube for a special message to his students announcing a snow day closing of the school the next day.

Set to the tune of “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen, here’s Glendinning’s rendition of “School is Closed.”

Don’t you wish you had a cool principal like that when you were in elementary school?

Dear So and So

Dear So and So

Dear Reader,

Do you still write letters? Or are you primarily, like me, an email and text message kind of a person?

I rarely write letters anymore — even business letters. I mostly communicate via email.

When you do write a letter or send an email, do you start it off with the word “Dear” in front of the addressee’s name? Raise your hand if you still use “Dear” at the beginning of a letter or an email. Ah, I thought so.

How about “Sincerely yours” (or just “Sincerely”) at the end?

I’m not talking about letters to your close — or even extended — family members, where you might start it out with “Dear Aunt Barbara,” and end it with “Love, your nephew Jim.”

After all, you do want dear Aunt Barbara to remember that you’re her loving nephew when she’s preparing her last will and testament, right?

No, I’m talking about letters (and even emails) to businesses, co-workers, friends, or acquaintances.

Terms of endearment

I was taught that opening a letter with the word “Dear” in front of the addressee’s name — even if you’re sending it to a total stranger — is the proper letter writing convention. It’s not necessarily intended to be a term of endearment.

So even if you’re writing a letter to a client, a business associate, or virtually anyone else, you should always start your letter with “Dear” followed by the person’s first name.

If you don’t know the recipient’s first name, you should use his or her last name, such as “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Dear Ms. Jones.”

And if you know neither the first nor the last name of the addressee, you should use “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam.”

“Dear Madam”? Seriously, who does that anymore?

And you should always end the letter with “Sincerely yours.” Even a business letter. Because you want your sincerity in your business correspondence to shine through.

Dear Electric Company,

Thank you for sending me the latest monthly bill. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

Sincerely yours,

Me

I never use “Dear” for a salutation or “Sincerely yours” at the close of a letter or an email. I may sometimes end an email with “Regards,” but that is about as sincere as I get.

So, what about you? Do you still use “Dear” and “Sincerely yours” in your letters and/or emails? Or do you consider them to be old-fashioned letter-writing conventions whose time had passed?

Have we, as a modern society, lost something by no longer using them?

Sincerely yours,

Doobster