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Help decide which stories are included in the 2022 CWIA Anthology: "Never Say Never"

Read the excerpts below and give a star rating for each on how well you think it fits our theme, and how well you like the story. The over all star rating will be factored into the final judges score to determine winners and ranking. One vote per person please.

Entry 1001: Together in Time

A crash shook the walls of the old house and rattled the windowpanes. What was that god-awful noise? Muttering an oath, Beckett flew to the stairs. His wife’s voice from long ago screeched in his head, Never say never, Beck. You’ll eat your words. You’ll find I’m not the only one you’ll grow to abhor. The crone’s cackling laughter still haunted him. 

    Just then a gust of cool fall air slammed the door, almost jarring it from the hinges.

     Was a little peace and quiet too much to ask? The only thing he desired was to be alone in the drafty old house where he’d died. Just that one thing. Right before the harpy he’d been married to had pushed him down the stairs that night and broke his neck, he’d told her he’d never known anyone he’d come to despise so much.

    Eating crow didn’t go down especially well when faced with another who appeared capable of making life equally miserable.

    The truth was the current resident must’ve taken a page from his sour wife’s playbook. Emma Willows had barged into his house proceeding to tear out walls and rip up flooring. Nothing was sacred to the woman. Sure she had the kind of beauty that stopped men in their tracks, but little did she care that the house was one hundred years old, been through a marital war of epic proportions, and yet stood the test of time.

    Well, to be perfectly honest…it was in a sad state of disrepair.

    But that’s what he liked about the vacant place. It had strong bones. Good bones. And he liked the musty fragrance to it.

    Wasting no time, Beckett floated downstairs and got busy. He moved the workers’ tools and even hid some. Changed the air temperature to frigid. Tripped them. He made things fall on their heads and blasted them with loud music. Their eyes wide with fear, they ran from the house leaving the door wide open.

    Emma Willows was mighty put out when she arrived to find them gone. Quickly dialing the contractor’s number and getting the scoop, she switched to boiling mad. She stood at the bottom of the stairs, hands on her hips. “Who are you? Why are you doing this?”

    Beckett swooped in close and stuck his tongue out then blew cold air in her face.

    She shivered. Scowling, she rolled down her sleeves. “I know you’re here and you’re not going to run me off. I bought this house and it’s mine now. Leave this instant. I don’t want you here.”

    This was a declaration of war. He’d just see about that. Little did she know who she was messing with. Beckett knew every trick in the book and wouldn’t be happy until his solitude was restored.

    With a raised fist and a frown, Emma marched out only to return a short time later. Beckett eyed the male intruders unloading a bed, blankets, and tons of comforts females required. Even a sofa, TV, and dining table. Hmph!

Entry 1002: A Thousand Words, Worth a Million Dollars

     I have heard more than one person say “We will always have a house note and a car note. Those are things you can never get away from,” and “I will never be able to retire.” That is pure bull poop. Here is a short read that will tell you how to get away from a house and car note and become financially secure. Never say never when it comes to your finances - you may be amazed what you can do by following a few simple rules. 

     If your net worth is over a million dollars and you have no debts, feel free to skip this read. This is just logic from a blue-collar worker who learned finances the hard way – by not having money for many years and wanting something better. I have only broken 50k in wages once in my life, and started out with nothing, so everything I write is something I have lived. My wife and I work hard, but without a plan, we would not be in the good position we are in now. You could distill sound financial advice to ‘spend less than you make and invest for retirement’ and do well, but here are some tips to make it easier. 

     First, you must know your motivation regarding money. Most people have never thought WHY they care about money. Take a few minutes and make a list of your top few priorities in life, and have your spouse do a list separately. I am willing to bet that every priority involves money somehow. Keep this list handy and where you can easily refer to it. On any money decisions, look at how it will impact your priorities. Does taking a trip to Maui every winter align with your priorities? If your goal is to retire at 45, then maybe not. If your goal is to visit family there every year, and you have money to make the trip, it might be an effective use of your money. Your ‘why’ is the reason you are trying to work on your finances. Be concrete, i.e. ‘I want to retire at 50’, ‘I want to travel to a different country for 10 days every year’, etc. Once most people find their priorities and their why, the numbers work themselves out magically. I guarantee this step will help you, so if you take any advice from me, this is the one to use. 

     Make a budget and track your spending. Yes, that is a four-letter word to most of us, so call it a spending plan if that is more palatable. This does require work, but it lets you know where your money is going. Tell your money what to do, don’t let it boss you around. Can you skip making a budget? Yes, under certain conditions. If you can save some money, invest money, and pay extra on your bills every month, then it is not 100% necessary to budget every dollar. If you are deeply in debt, or not able to keep up with your current bills, then do a budget.

Entry 1003: Negative Ellie and the Voodoo Priestess

     Ellie pulled into her driveway with a sigh of relief. She was home, safe now, ready to enter her sanctuary of solitude. Yet again her day had not gone well, so all she wanted to do now was sit quietly and revel in the silence. Things never ever turned out right for Ellie who had never had a never say never attitude.

     It wasn't as if her day had started out too terribly bad. On the contrary, she actually woke up when her alarm rang. Ellie thought that meant her luck was finally turning around, right up to the moment she realized she had to go to work. 

Oh, don't get her wrong, she loved her job at the ad agency. It was just the people she had to interact with that rubbed her the wrong way. These were quite possibly the most annoying people on earth. It was only when she was left alone in her office designing something that she truly felt content. But someone always came along to ruin that feeling.

For instance, today she was required to be on site at the zoo when they filmed the 'Turning over a New Leaf Lettuce' commercial. It might have been fun if the actress who was supposed to play the lettuce hadn't gotten a head cold and ended up sounding like a Neanderthal. When touting the benefits of a light salad, a sweet lilting voice is required. In quick improvisation the director expected her to take over the role. That meant public speaking which she absolutely loathed. She also hated to draw attention to herself, and wearing a large head of lettuce didn't seem to fit that criteria.

     On top of that, the Galapagos Giant Tortoise they employed went rogue and charged her. Granted, turtles are notoriously slow but she was wearing high heel shoes and just like in every horror movie ever made, her heel broke at the wrong time. As the turtle bore down on her, she struggled to stand but the lettuce costume was cumbersome and very round. She eventually ended up like a turtle flipped on its back, unable to move, totally helpless.

     The only positive thing that happened was when her assistant threw herself in front of the slowly charging turtle and sacrificed her lunch in an attempt to draw the tortoise away from Ellie's helpless leafy body. As the assistant did so the package of salad dressing broke and splattered Ellie's glasses with what could only be the thickest Russian dressing to have ever been made. It got in her hair, up her nose and down the front of her shirt.

     As she laid there humiliated and vulnerable she was further insulted by the tortoise's rejection of her when it realized the lettuce was fake. Definitely not a good day. Ellie's never were good.

Entry 1004: Pilatus

     A bitter cold swept down from the towering mountains over the city of Luzern. The night air hung at a steady two degrees Celsius. Shades of frost painted the edges of the windowpanes. It was a good night for an extra blanket.

Dr. Günter Wagner slept soundly in the luxury suite of the Hotel Schweitzerhof, unaware the rising sun would deliver him to the greatest challenge of his mortal being. Although one of Germany's most notable physicians, Günter was a proud and arrogant bastard. His medical skills surpassed that of most of his colleagues. He considered them to be butchering, ineffective dolts. At the same time, his expertise provided him the luxury of time and money to enjoy the long weekend in the mountains.

The clanging alarm clock shattered his deep sleep. "Shut up!" Günter grunted. He pulled the pillows over his head and muffled the clock's constant noise. He had stayed up late in the hotel lounge with his financial manager and several hangers-on, hungry to be seen in the company of the famous surgeon. They enjoyed an abundance of cocktails, and suddenly the night was gone. Times like that were precious, and a person had to take advantage of them when they arose. 

     He had mused throughout the evening at the good-natured teasing from his associates—if he climbed Pilatus, he would be too exhausted to enjoy the bodily feast of Anna, the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

     "Never say never," he replied to their taunts. "Never say never because that woman will be my slave." 

*

     He reached his hand from the warmth of the duvet and groped in the early morning darkness to silence the alarm. If he were going to reach the Pilatus trailhead by first light, he would have to face the realities of life and start by putting his feet on the cold floor. One step at a time. He found the button and shut off the alarm clock. A peaceful quiet filled the room. Only then could he bring himself to slide his foot off the edge of the bed and reach for the floor. One foot, then the other, until he finally found himself sitting on the side of the bed. He shivered when the cool air swept over him.

     The luminous hands on the clock showed it to be exactly four o'clock. Two hours before sunrise. If all went well, he would reach the peak of Mount Pilatus by five o'clock in the afternoon. He allowed himself about three-quarters of an hour leeway in case the hike was more challenging than he remembered. Nevertheless, he should be at the top before dark. It had been ten years since he last climbed the rocky peaks of Pilatus, but he was in better shape now than he was when he first scaled its steep ridges.

1005: Matilda

     Never say never. My grandfather’s words rang in my ears, although he had died many years ago. No, I wasn’t hearing voices, but his message came to me with clarity. With his immortal words hanging in the air, I began to dig. A life depended on it.

My grandfather, the only man I ever called PawPaw, was Cherokee Indian and quite proud of it. He had been raised on a reservation in Oklahoma and spent a great deal of his young life there. His family didn’t have much and the poverty level on the reservation was severe. But he was a go-getter and his mantra at a young age became, ‘never say never’. He never let anything stop him. 

     When he was just a small lad, he would carry groceries to kin and the elderly on the reservation. Later he graduated to riding a bicycle to deliver bread. When he was a teenager and had saved enough from his scant earnings to buy an old, junked truck, he fixed it up and had it running even though it smoked like a giant cigar. But he kept working on it until he had it purring and began delivering anything he could from the back of that old truck. He started out with watermelon and fruit. Sometimes corn and beans. 

     He became known for his dependability and the jobs lined up. With each successive job, he saved for and bought a medium duty truck. Later, he graduated to a big rig and semi-trailer and began hauling almost anything for any business needing his services. With his persistence and his ‘never say never’ attitude, he progressed to owning several eighteen-wheelers and hiring several drivers. He moved to Fort Worth when I was about six years old and his small trucking business expanded and made a decent living for him, Granny, and several employees.

     PawPaw was known for his stories about animals and all the things we could learn from them. Fondly referred to as animal medicine, he told many stories, but I loved his native teachings about the horse because horse medicine embodied my grandfather’s character. He loved horses and always cared for them in the stables next to the garage where he maintained his eighteen-wheelers. Horse meant power, he told me and my siblings. Before horse was domesticated, humans were sluggish on land, but horse enabled them to carry heavy loads and move quickly. Perhaps this is why he loved trucks so much. Engine power is described as horsepower. PawPaw was quick to add that those who abused power, would never have wisdom. 

     We grandkids couldn’t wait for our summer trips to our grandparent’s place. Anytime any of us would find a creature of any sort, he would tell us it was meant as a sign for us. When my sister found a cocoon hanging off a tree limb, he told her she must ask herself what she was doing to make her ideas come true. My brother would catch baby horny toads by the dozens in PawPaw’s flower beds. PawPaw told him the horny toad was a sign to remember your dreams for there was magic in dreams.

1006: I Don’t Quit

I

Never

Say Never

Life is filled with

Many surprises

Choices become fewer

And the roads are more narrow

I leave my heart open for Him

To change, mold, and become what He needs

Me to be. Never? That is for quitters.

1007: Hope

Never say never is what not to say

when,

bipolar puts your mind on a rollercoaster full of sharp dizzying turns going this way and that,

soul wrenching sheer drops of depression 

and the head sounding like a ceasing engine screaming highs of mania

or

the ground breaking away to lows casting me into a bottomless pit of hopelessness 

that shrinks the sun to candlelight 

growing ever smaller.

With both extremes, 

there is a seductive voice 

tickling my ear 

first 

telling me to open my veins

so the worries 

the doubts 

insecurities

inadequacies of not being good enough 

trickle out

into 

blissful

nothingness.

Lately the voice instead of telling me to do it

asks

Why haven’t you done it?

Diligence

in  

taking bipolar medication 

seeing psychiatrist 

talking to someone trustworthy 

about 

all of the 

hopes 

fears 

and mostly 

suicidal thoughts that might rear their ugly heads.

I make sure I do all of these healthy things along with falling into the arms 

Of my Lord and Savior

which makes

my life 

quite 

Wonderful!!!!

1008: You Don't Know What You Know

                                      – a poem beginning with a line by Paul Allen

You can’t grow up spending summers going to Maxey Park,
across town from Tech Terrace with its two-story brick houses
and Cadillacs without learning something – brown, white,
poor, day worker, boss. Your backyard barebone from the Texas sun.  

You’d swing toward the sky while watching the skateboard kids. 
Their boards’ wheels lit up, flashing like stars at the start of night. 
They’d whiz by in a whirl up and down 24th street between you
and the park – cool-headed streaked blondes in Ray Bans and Van Nuys.

You’d go home on CityBus no. 9. Back to lowriders and mixed tongues,
cinder block houses and churches with Virgin de Guadalupe murals.
Back to taggers walking on foot, weighed down by cans of spray paint
in their backpacks, and you travelling on cracked sidewalks where weeds
and ant hills laid claim to the concrete turf and chaos of getting by. 

You don’t know what you know – until you’ve been on both sides;
never say never until you cross over the where, when, and why
and grown past many summers to learn that home is what lies inside.

1009: Smoke

     The overhead chimes rang out in the small country store, and the men gathered in the back drinking coffee around the battered wooden table stopped their conversation to turn and observe the grizzly-faced newcomer as he shuffled into the store. He lifted his chin in recognition of the men and they stared solemnly as he gathered a few essentials from the nearby shelves. 

Finally the store owner, John Hastings spoke up. “Hey, Ben. Sorry to hear about Smoke. That dang dog scared the bejesus out of me, but Lord, he was a faithful cur.” The men in the circle nodded and added their condolences as Ben gruffly acknowledged the John’s words. He gestured to the new fishing lures John proudly displayed behind the counter on his bragging wall.

    “You ain’t gonna catch nothin’ with those pitiful flies, John. I brought ya some I been lucky with…” He took a box from the battered pack pack and set them on the battered counter. “Cutthroat are running up on the Animas, and I’m mindful of headin’ up that way. Been a long time since I been up there, and I want to walk the canyon before the rains come.”
   John shook his shaggy head, “I don’t advise it, Ben. The ranger was up there a few weeks ago and he said the road washed out and the canyon walls see’d a torrent what knocked down some of those boulders and the trail overgrown and he heard wolves. No one’s been up there since the tourists stopped comin’ after Carl died. I reckon he was the only man to walk that trail in the last year, and none of us ever knew the trick of it.”
   “No trick or secret to that canyon, Ben. Me and Smoke fished that canyon prolly a dozen times in the last few years. And we’ll not have a problem this year.”

    “You got someone going with you? Who’s the we, Ben?” Old Charlie, not the sharpest tack in the box spoke up.

    “Just a slip o’ the tongue. Going by my lonesome, Charlie. As always. But if you don’t see me next week to come for my groceries, get the ranger to fly up and check on my cabin. Then help yourselves to my flies and gear. I prolly got eaten by that old bear hanging out on the mesa. The sheepherders came by yestiday complaining about losing some ewes and drank the rest of my coffee whiles they were at it.” He didn’t add they told him they sure missed Smoke because he kept that old bear off the high range. His eyes, never very expressive darkened and he grabbed another pound of coffee off the shelves in case the trio of herders came back by his little place. They spoke little English, and he only spoke a spattering of Spanish, but company was company, even to an old hermit such as himself.

    Ben paid for his items and tucked them into his old college backpack. He fingered a few books on the shelves and then sat in the empty chair at the table.

1010: Shopping for Prosperity

I had sufficient quantity of adequacy, but it was prosperity I sought

Finding deficiency instead in abundant supply

Shelves emptied by hoarders and shortages too

Check back tomorrow their only advice

 

Finding deficiency instead in abundant supply

I sought prosperity every day

I never said never, I brought my own bags, extended courtesy along the way

With a smile on my face, determined to be kind to one and all

 

I sought prosperity every day

Shopping most diligently

I pushed my cart with a smile, letting others go first

Helped the elderly, greeted each worker by name

 

Shopping most diligently

I found only despair

There would be no backorders or rainchecks they said,

No prosperity in stock for purchase today

 

I found only despair,

My cart remained bare; the clerk’s help I sought

God is not, she laughed and said with a grin

The rewards program at a grocery store

And prosperity, she said, you will not find here

For it simply cannot be bought

1011: A Stain On My...Honor

     I was never leaving the house again. Never. Never never never. NEVER.

     Well, never say never.

     The day had started off so well, too. It had started early, but well. I got up in the dark and dressed in the cute tan sweater dress I’d bought the day before, the brown riding boots and scarf that made me feel like a walking Instagram post and took my big-girl self off to the airport for the first flight of the day to Austin, Texas. 

     I was going to a day-long work meeting at the Texas Department of Public Safety, across the street from the state capital. I had been a grownup for a long time, but this was the first time I’d done something like this, by myself, and I was proud. I felt smart and capable. And cute, which never hurts. 

     When we broke for lunch, I took off down Congress Avenue in my city girl confidence, searching for something to eat. The street filled with workers after the same thing. 

     A man behind me said, “Excuse me, miss? I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but it looks like maybe you’ve sat in something and it’s on the back of your dress. Gum or something?”

     What? I twisted to see what he was talking about. I’m sure I looked like a fool, turning round and round to look at my own backside in the middle of a crowded sidewalk.

     As he passed me, the man gave me a sad smile and said, “I’m sorry, I know it’s going to ruin your whole day.”

     What?!

     Ruin my whole day? Just how bad was this?

     Several things slammed into my consciousness at the same time. 

     Apparently, I had a big blob of something on my butt. 

     I was on the street with thousands of people. Exposed.

     All these images of what I must look like from behind flooded through my mind, and not a one of them was good. A big nasty splotch! On my butt!

     When? How long had I been walking around like this? Since early morning? Had everyone at the airport seen it? 

     All my work colleagues? 

     Was I viral already? 

     I was several hundred miles from home. I had nothing else to wear.

     I had to hide.

     I yanked open the nearest door. It led into a Starbucks, packed by the lunch crowd of suit-wearing downtown Austin people. The panic must have been plain on my face, because looks of mild alarm greeted me. I searched frantically for a bathroom. 

Once I got in there, I was never coming out. I’d call my husband. He’d have to fly to Austin and bring me some different clothes, which admittedly was a big thing to ask, but this was a life-or-death emergency. 

     If I had to go back and face work colleagues in that meeting, I would die.

     All I had to do was hole up in that Starbucks bathroom and refuse to come out for, what – three or four hours? What were they going to do, arrest me?

1012: Two Negatives, a Blessed Contradiction

An old saying goes, we should “never say never!”

But what sort of thing, “old sayings” aside,

Is being suggested with such infinite flavor

That has sheer potential to feed or dent pride.

 

Knowledge or feelings behind such prophecy?

Or simply the end goal of “I told you so!”

To grab the limelight and attention, you see

How insightful or right!?;  is it all for a show?

 

“Two wrongs won’t make right!” we often hear.

One tacked to the other makes bad only bigger.

Yet a “positive” answer will always be clear

When any two negatives are multiplied together.

 

Some say some marriages will never last.

Just what do they know to make such a prediction?

But what of that when some fifty years past

True commitment prevails b’yond lust and affliction!


 

Hate-filled and determined was a man from Tarsus.

With a blinding light, Christ helped Paul to see.

Augustine seemed lost in the ways of the flesh, 

But with prayers of a mother, a saint he would be.

 

Then should we ever say, “Never say never!”?

At times the temptation can be oh so strong.

In life there’s irony around every corner.

Ready to humble as being so wrong!

 

Then again “Never say never” may rightly suggest

Hope in the end that all will be better.

Optimism for you, me and all of the rest.

Blessed contradiction in irony for all and forever.

1013: Lunchtime in the Diner of Good and Evil and Everything In-Between

     Mr. Meatloaf and Ms. Egg Salad Sandwich waved at Sophie and walked out of the diner. Their real names didn’t matter. What mattered was their money. They left a dollar and two quarters between the salt and pepper shakers. Sophie Nolan’s seven-year-old twin girls would have milk in their Cheerios in the morning. She dropped the money into the pocket of her apron.

    The rush of rain-soaked wind from the opened door cooled Sophie’s clammy skin. She resisted the powerful urge to follow the customers out the door. She longed to stand in the rain and let it wash the stink of onions and cigarettes out of her hair. Her feet ached but there were bills to pay, mouths to feed.

She stuffed her tip money through the hole in the plastic lid on top of the old Folgers coffee can she kept under the counter. Halfway through her first shift of the day, the amount of cash and coins grew as steadily as the rain fell. Three years after carving the crude hole in the plastic lid, she could wait tables with her eyes closed.

    It would be better if she didn’t have to listen to The Partridge Family sing “I Think I Love You” at least twice an hour on the jukebox. The song’s popularity baffled her and Julie, her friend and fellow waitress. Each time they brushed by one another carrying trays of food in the cramped space, Julie whispered, “I think I love you” in her ear. It was never not funny.

     Sophie smelled booze on Julie’s breath. “Are you drinking?”

     “Yeah, want some?”

     “I never drink at work.”

     Julie grinned at Sophie. “Never say never.”

     Ding. The bell rang indicating food was ready. “Order up,” Walt, the cook, said. Julie headed in his direction with a little extra swish in her hips.

     Sophie scooped two dimes and a nickel off the counter. She added the coins to her Folger’s can, picked up the coffee pot, and held it in front of Mr. Corned Beef on Rye. He didn’t stop talking to his neighbor on the stool next to him. He simply nodded and continued singing the praises of J.D. Salinger. “Holden Caulfield is my favorite fictional character,” he said.

     Sophie topped off his cup and held her tongue. She had a lot to say on the subject but arguing wasn’t in her job description.

     Two women, weighed down with wet shopping bags, walked in. Julie took them to a booth near the large fan blowing warm, stale air around the room. She handed them menus and took their drink orders. The blonde lit a cigarette.

     “I’ll be right back with your drinks,” Julie said.

     Ding. “Order up,” Walt said.

     Sophie delivered the blue-plate special to a man who never looked above her breasts. On her way back to the counter, she walked past the blonde.

     “Sophie, is that you?”

     Sophie stopped and stared. The woman who’d made her life miserable in college stared back. Julie set two glasses of tea on the table and stepped away. The blonde took a sip.

1014: What Now

Started at 3:55 am and finished at 4:18 am  

 

You ask what’s next? 

The feeling of What now? 

may appear out of nowhere.

Perhaps you start

like gangbusters, but 

then you lose your way. 

What Now?, you ask. 

 

Perhaps you’re certain

about the promise of  

friendship or love

in your life, but now 

things are complicated,

and you’re not sure anymore.

What Now?, you ask. 

 

You land a new contract, 

start a different job,

write the first chapter, 

and then, something is off 

and nothing seems right. 

What Now?, you ask. 

 

You start a course, 

sign up for a class,

but it’s not smooth sailing, 

and you don't belong anymore.

What Now?, you ask. 

 

You have your life 

mapped out, and plans 

are complete, but 

you take a detour,

and it feels right.

What Now,? you ask. 

 

You plan your dream trip,

make deposits, and 

pay for tickets, but

uneasiness gnaws at you.

What Now?, you ask. 

 

You choose the right career,

finish the program, and

earn a prime position, but

it seems lackluster and 

your energy evaporates.

What Now?, you ask. 

 

You create a course, 

teach online, or host an event,

but learning magic tricks

captivates you, and 

passion catapults you 

into a different universe.

What Now?, you ask.

 

You want to write a book,

start a product line, 

and make a sale, but 

you feel like a salmon 

swimming upstream.

What Now?, you ask.

 

Get into your boat and 

turn it downstream. 

You don’t need to

know the way or have

all the plans first.

If you are rigid and

unyielding, you may

miss the signposts

along the way.

 

Life is not meant 

to be one neat package

wrapped with a bow

or a pre-planned journey.

The most fruitful and exciting 

adventures pique your curiosity. 

 

You will find subtle guidance 

from angels as they 

show you another path,

project, or passion.

Ask questions, pay attention,

and follow the 

nudges from within.

You don’t need to have 

all the answers. 

It’s better if you don’t. 

Then you are free

to create and repeat 

What Now?

1015: The Gargoyle in the Drain

I moved to a new house not long ago

where beauty dwells and ideas grow.

 

I swear it is haunted by a strange little ghost.

But that’s not the thing that I feared the most.

 

By the sounds from the drain, a gargoyle lives there.

He croaks out a message, while in the shower I’m bare.

 

At first it was frightening, this drain with a sound.

But after a while I discovered and found,

 

This creature that stirs where the water runs down -

his words inspire. Let’s hope he won’t drown.

 

He spits and he burbles, he sputters and chews.

He grumbles and rumbles, the words out he spews,

 

“Don’t give up. Do your best.

Get back to work or get some rest.”

 

One time he asked, “What’s wrong with the water?”

He hissed again, “Can’t you make it hotter?”

 

I turned the spigot and was happy to find,

the warmer water helped ease my mind.

 

Now don’t think I’m crazy – I swear that I’m not.

But I get these messages when the water runs hot.

 

I’ve always loved mystery – I love the occult.

Ouija boards, horoscopes – I’m not too adult.

 

His name is Trevor, this gargoyle in the drain.

And “Never say never!” is his favorite refrain.

 

He may sound grumpy but he’s really quite nice

He growls a lot but gives good advice.

 

I asked him such things as, “What should I wear?

What do you think I should do with my hair?”

 

He gargled out loud, “That’s pretentious stuff.

What’s important to you?” He asked in a huff.

He’s always quite willing to offer advice

Though sometimes it doesn’t come out very nice.

 

I thought for a while and told him my trouble,

“I can’t seem to get this. It’s bursting my bubble.

 

This jingle I’m writing, can’t leave me alone

The words won’t come, I’m dry as a bone.”

 

“Quit your complaining,” he garbled with a rumble.

“You’ve got this made,” he spewed with a grumble.

 

Grumpy old thing, I thought to myself

As I took a towel from off of the shelf.

 

I tried to explain, “The rhythm is wrong,

and none of the words are stringing along.”

 

“Never say never, “old Trevor did boast.

“Give it your best, give it your most.”

 

“That’s all I’ve got – my brain is fried.

I did my best. I really tried.”

 

“That’s all you can do,” he grumbled and growled.

He spit and he chewed, a little too loud.

 

He hissed out this message, “Just get it done,

you’ll feel better, then have some fun.”

 

No, I’m not mad. The voice that I hear -

Though underwater, it’s always quite clear.

 

I’m not crazy, I’m really quite sane.

I refer to it now as the drain refrain.

1016: There Will Never Be A Blessing Without A Fight

A father wrestles with the LORD

A woman risks’ her life

A child saves thousands with a stone

They’ve all been confronted with strife.......


 

To them it was their only chance

To finally get it right

To gain their freedom, win the prize

Never a blessing without a fight.


 

X


 

There will never be a blessing without a fight

No freedom there will be

No promised land without going through

A deep red parted / scarlet sea.......


 

Trust GOD and stand firm on His word

Endure with all your might

And work until you reach your goal

Never a blessing without a fight!


 

X


 

A man named Jacob sought the LORD

He had done his brother wrong

Stole his blessing, tricked his Dad

Although his Mom knew about it all along…


 

But just before he made amends

The LORD he fought all night 

Endured, until the LORD said “YES”!

Never a blessing without a fight.


 

X


 

There will be no blessing without a fight

No win; without a woe

Even if your body is stricken with pain

Hold on and don’t let go.


 

Like Jacob, wrestling with the LORD

Your future will surely stay bright

If you’d head on and never quit

Never a blessing without a fight.



 

“…….The feast called Purim…….You know the story…….”



 

A girl named Esther, born a Jew

Was chosen by a king

From all the others, to be his wife

A new song she would sing


 

For such a time as this, Esther

Raised a nation to a lofty height

Because she chose to trust the LORD

Never a blessing without a fight.


 

X


 

There will never be a blessing without a fight

She helped to set a nation free

Declared a fast, exposed a plan

Brought an imposter to his knees


 

Who tried to cause the Jews to lose their lives

Instead the noose became tight

And became the victims of his own foiled plan

Never a blessing without a fight.


 

X


 

And what about the little boy

Who took a stone, and slew

The giant, when all the others ran

His faith shown pure and true


 

No one but David had the nerve

To stand, to punch, to bite

Face Goliath, face their fears

Never a blessing without a fight


 

X


 

Never a blessing without a fight

It took a child to show us how

To face our fears, be courageous

Show how GOD honors a vow




 

And when we do, others will see

And be led on, led by our light

For faith and hope will be our guide

Never a blessing without a fight


 

X


 

So you must do like Moses did

When Pharaoh sought his very life

In a fit of rage, with angry mob

Chased him to avenge Pharaoh’s son, Pharaoh’s wife


 

Stand firm, and watch, the sea divide

And the firestorm, Oh, what a glorious sight

And watch the salvation of the LORD

Never a blessing without a fight

 

1017: A Thousand Scars

     “Never say never.” That is what the soldier said to me the night before I died. 

     My name was Viatrix. I was the youngest child of my family, the only daughter to survive infancy. My two brothers and I were free Romans, born and raised in that great city. That meant something until Diocletian began his persecutions. 

The emperor’s traditional religious values encouraged the anti-Christian academics and greedy civic cult priests to speak against the Christians. Executing Christians produced confiscated land and other assets. This pleased the priests and, of course, the gods.

     And we cannot forget the moral fervor of the citizens. There is nothing like a scared, hate-filled mob to get a persecution going.

     I should have been safe. I was the most powerful sorceress and clairvoyant in Rome.

     The large prison cell I shared with the Christians was dark. Little sunlight filtered through the two small, barred windows near the street-level ceiling. Every time the heavy iron grate in the ceiling opened, the Christians waited anxiously to find out who would die next. Sometimes, it was food. I kept my mouth shut, even when they begged me to tell them if they would die or go to the mines.

     I adjusted my cloak tightly around my shoulders and closed my eyes. The smell of urine and dirty bodies burned my nose. The crawling, itching sensation around my waist and in my hair let me know I had acquired lice.

My arms began to itch. The rawness around my wrists, from rope restraints during torture, was beginning to heal. The tortures gave me other scars, but my clothing hid them. The wounds left by the Roman soldiers’ tortures only served to reenforce my obstinance.

     These Christians counted it an honor to die as their saints did. A year ago, I never would have imagined, one day, being imprisoned, awaiting punishment with a bunch of them. When I got out of that prison, someone was going to pay. They would pay dearly.

###########

    Two years earlier, a well-dressed man came to my rooms, asking for the use of my skills. At that time, my abilities were discussed in such places as brothels, gambling dens, and political offices. I knew with what kind of man I was dealing. He had not made an appointment nor arranged for an introduction from one of my established clientele. I made a point of saying so as a way of letting him understand that I chose who received use of my gifts, not the other way around.

The man bowed deeply and apologized for the offense. He lifted his face to me and looked deeply into my eyes. A jolt of energy shot through me, prickling my skin. I did not yet sense why he exuded such power, so I kept my composure. I accepted his apology and bid him welcome.

    Gesturing to a plush, richly embroidered cushion, I asked him to be seated.

1018: Unanswered

When did I ever?

A melancholy shiver

Never say never

 

Why do I bother?

An unrequited lover

Never say never

 

What is forever?

Regret lives long as fever

Never say never

1019: A Tale from the Raincheck Room

    If you’re new to Hollywood, you may not believe the following story, but soon you will learn to never say never. Anything can happen.    

    I was on my second bourbon when the gorilla took a seat next to me at the bar. 

The lunch crowd of the Raincheck Room had thinned out and only the regulars of out-of-work actors and writers stuck around with nowhere else to be. I was on my way to becoming one of them myself. My streak of bad luck in Hollywood continued while my fondness for bourbon was blossoming into a full-blown love affair.

    “Manhattan,” the gorilla said to the bartender with a muffled voice. Furry black hands reached up and lifted the mask off the man’s face. Having had several drinks during the last hour, a tiny part of me had hoped a genuine simian had stumbled from the wilds of Africa to join me to drink away the hours.

    I shook the ice in my empty glass to get the bartender’s attention. “What’s with the costume?”

    “Got a job at the Roxie.” His face and hair were drenched from sweat. “Had to get a drink to cool off a bit.”

    “The movie theatre?” I asked as the bartender poured me another shot.

    The man nodded as the bartender placed his drink on a coaster. 

    “What they got you dressed up like that?”

    He turned to me and smiled, his eyes blue as ice. The man had the rugged good looks of someone that could make it in this town. “They’re showing this horror film about some mad scientist who’s trained this gorilla to be his henchman. About midway through this gorilla grabs this hot dish of a woman and carries her off over his shoulders. The owner thought it would bring in crowds if someone dressed as a gorilla came in and terrorized the audience when this scene comes up.”

    “And you are the lucky one that got the job?” Any acting jobs were hard to come by in Hollywood.

    “Lucky me,” he said with a shrug.

    We were silent for a few moments, enjoying our drinks. The jukebox played Herman’s Hermits over the sounds of pool balls violently clanking against each other. The front door opened at times and bathed parts of the bar in sunlight, hurting my eyes.

    “The name’s Chuck,” the man said, offering his hand. I set down my drink and shook it.

    “Harry.”

    “Nice to meet you. So, I take it you’re an actor, too.”

    “I like to think so, but no one’s paying me. Today I’m playing a drunk for free. Soon I won’t even be acting the part.”

    Chuck smiled, his teeth white and glowing, taking a look around the room. “No, man, you’re not going to turn out like these guys. Their glory days are far behind. We both have youth on our side.”

1020: What N Negates

Words that start with N smart:  
nauseate, neglect, nasty, nefarious,
even neurotic are all uneasy.
Take the idiom ‘never say never’
meaning you should not say
that you will never do something
because nothing is impossible.
For instance, the letter N rolls off
the tongue to naturally deflate
the mouth into a frown. It negates
the negative – like in words
such as neither or nor or nuance. 
All fading into shades of difference.