Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Nightmare Before Thanksgiving

My wife, son and I celebrated Thanksgiving with the new couple in the neighborhood. We had not seen much of the husband, but the wife seemed very friendly, but there was a certain uneasiness about her that I could not pinpoint.
For one thing, she insisted we arrive after sunset. By this time most people have had their dinner, taken a nap, awakened and refreshed, ready to watch football and eat leftovers.
We assumed that the time of the dinner was dictated by some Slavic tradition. The wife had am almost indiscernible accent from some distant corner of the Balkans.
The Thanksgiving turkey itself was more the size of a Cornish hen, obviously a serving for one. Even more peculiar, our hostess grabbed that little chicken carcass and chomped into it with vigor. She didn’t even have a bowl of cranberries on the side for us to nibble on.
The door creaked open, and standing there—back lit like a character from a Steven Spielberg movie—was her husband. He was tall, gaunt, wan and handsome in a dead movie star sort of way.
Now the reason for the surprise dinner invitation was evident—we were not invited to eat a dinner. We were invited to be eaten for dinner.
The impact of this revelation was lost on my wife. She realized there was no food on the table except for the Cornish hen which at this point was—for all intents and purposes only bones suitable for a boiling brine to become a savory broth. She had adjourned to the kitchen where she poked around the refrigerator for something else to eat.
My son, who is a long-time corrections officer, wasted no time in breaking apart a dining room chair to create a wooden stake to drive into our host’s heart. This is one of his finer traits. He’s very good at disarming potential threats. However, most women do not find this talent very romantic so therefore he is still single.
Somehow we made it to the roof where our host was most intent on stalking me. After eluding him a few times, I noticed that our host had a problem adjust his direction rapidly. Taking this into account, I ran to the edge of the roof where my son stood with his stake.
I made an abrupt turn left, and our host ran straight into my son’s stake. With a loud gasp, he fell off the roof and turned into a million vampire particles before he reached the front lawn.
By the time my son and I returned to the dining room, my wife was feeding our hostess from a bowl of cranberries she had found in the refrigerator. She had been a probation officer so grief counseling was part of her job training.
I must admit being aghast when I heard my wife pitching our son to be our hostess’s next husband. I’ve never approved of marriage on the rebound. Also, I questioned the wisdom of our son’s marriage to a woman who just a few minutes ago offered him up to her now deceased husband as Thanksgiving dinner.
As a final note, as you may have guessed, this entire encounter had been one of my overly vivid dreams the night before Thanksgiving. We actually spent Thanksgiving dinner with a very sweet couple who gave us a pot of purple orchids. Our son, as usual, had to spend the holiday working at the prison.
Bah humbug.

Bessie’s Boys Chapter 11

The throne room was completely dark except for one brilliant shaft of moon light shining on the marble floor. Giggles and grunts emanate from shadows surrounding the throne itself. If one dared to enter the great vaulted hall and approach the sacred seat of authority one would be traumatized to behold Bessie in her nightgown and Robin in tights and loosely fitting shirt.
“This is fun.” Robin was barely audible because he had his mouth firmly entrenched in her bosom.
Elizabeth giggled and revealed, “My father used to bring all his wives here at midnight.”
“How romantic.”
Tiptoeing echoed through the hall just outside the large oaken door. Robin sat up. “What’s that?”
“Someone’s coming.” Elizabeth pushed him out of the way and jumped to her feet. “Quick. Behind the throne.
“Aww.” Robin whined like a disappointed schoolboy.
“We can still have fun behind here. Take my word for it.”
Elizabeth and Robin had just barely scooted behind the thrown when Clarence and Alice crept through the wooden door and looked about the room with childish apprehension. Sensing all was clear, Clarence swooped Alice into his arms and rushed the throne where they collapsed on the royal ermine seat cushion. They kiss passionately for a few moments.
“I can’t help but wonder what Elizabeth would say,” Clarence said in a naughty tone.
“Who cares?” Alice replied with a flippant disregard for courtly protocol. Elizabeth is not here to say anything.
“You know,” Clarence revealed shyly, “I don’t think I ever did anything even remotely wicked before in my life.”
Alice took his small but muscled hands and firmly placed them on her perfectly formed petite bosom. “Don’t you think it’s time to stop being so wholesome?”
Clarence was clearly eager to follow up on Alice’s invitation, when the throne fairly shook from a loud imperative.
“Get off!!” Elizabeth boomed from behind the throne.
(Author’s note: One must realize that even though Queen Elizabeth and Lord Leicester were advancing in years and still enjoyed healthy sexual urges, they couldn’t really hear worth a damn. Therefore, from a historical standpoint, most academic circles would agree that Elizabeth’s exclamation was not directed at the young couple but at some mishandled sexual maneuver by Robin.)
Clarence and Alice jumped from the ancient seat of kings as though they had received an electrical shock.
“You know I like to be on top!” the same voice erupted from behind the throne.
Alice ran into Clarence’s arms and quivered as he stroked her hair in order to calm her. “I always thought Elizabeth was all knowing but this is ridiculous.”
“I told you it would be exciting.” She clutched him even tighter. “It was exciting for me. Was it exciting for you?”
He held her small face in his small hands. “I’m so excited I want us to be married as soon as I return.”
“Marriage!” Alice stopped shivering in fear and began jumping in delight. “I can’t believe it! You’ve made me the happiest girl in the world!” She immediately stopped and looked at him in curiosity. “Return from where?”
“I can’t say. It’s part of what I must do to save England.”
“You can’t tell me where you’re going?” Suspicion tinged her voice.
“Especially not where I’m going.”
Alice predictably began to swoon. “I think I’m about to faint.”
She was about halfway down when Clarence shouted out, “Spain!”
Right before her bum brushed the floor, Alice straightened and smiled. “I feel much better now.” Her eyes widened. “Spain? My dearest! You’ll be in danger!?”
“Yes, I know,” Clarence said as he cringed, “but it’s for England.”
Alice embraced him and planted a wet one on his mouth. “Clarence! You’re so gallant!” After another kiss she pulled away. “And now, I must flee to my chambers before I faint again.”
“Yes, please. Go,” he encouraged her. “I love you.”
They could not resist themselves and went into another clutch, which, unfortunately, did not last long because a bellow exploded from behind the throne.
“The crown! Watch out for the crown!” The Queen issued another frantic command.
Clarence sighed and guided Alice to the door.
“Oh, stop complaining!” a male voice mumbled, from behind the throne. “You’re breaking the mood!”
After the young lovers left, giggles and moans from behind the throne continued. In mere minutes the large oaken door creaked open again, and Rodney and Maria entered, with obviously the same idea on his young sexually focused mind.
“Father said this was the most exciting moment in his life, better than jousting,” Rodney whispered, leading her to the throne.
Her Teutonic reply was predictable. “It is ours for the taking!”
They hadn’t even settled in well for a session of smooching when the Queen let go with another outburst.
“I said, get off!” Bessie bellowed.
Rodney and Maria were so startled that they fell off the throne, yet remained in romantic grip as they rolled away on the red carpet.
“Play the game by my rules or not at all!” Elizabeth growled.
Rodney jumped to his feet and helped Maria to stand. “Perhaps we should continue this later, after I return from Spain.”
“You’re going to Spain?” she responded with Castilian inquisitiveness.
“Uh oh.” His dumb—hand caught in a cookie jar—look covered his ordinarily handsome face. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
Maria’s eyes narrowed in German suspicion. “It’s a secret?”
“It’s for the queen,” Rodney proclaimed patriotically.
“For the Crown.” Her tone turned properly English. “I understand. Say no more.”
“You’re so thoughtful.” His dark eyes began to smolder. “No wonder I love you.”
“Je t’adore .”
“I didn’t know the door was open.”
Maria repeated in a language she knew Rodney could understand. “I love you.”
Before the young paramours could say another word, a male voice, sounding very infantile, pleaded from behind the throne, “Will you put down that scepter!”
“Oh,” Elizabeth grumbled, “you’re such a crybaby!”


The damn radiation treatment is finally over. The chest area affected is slowly healing, and my wife is feeling less discomfort as each day goes by.
On the bright side, her hair is growing back rapidly, and she looks like she has a pixie haircut. Back in the sixties girls cut their hair to about an inch long, and they looked like pixies. My wife went to college in Richmond, Virginia, and did not have her mother looking over her shoulder and telling her every move to make anymore, so she celebrated her independence with a pixie cut.
I went to college in Texas so unfortunately I never got to see her pixie in person, but she did have photographs. Now, she cut her hair as soon as she arrived for the fall semester so it would all grow out by the time she went home for the Christmas holidays so her mother would not have a conniption fit. In fact, I don’t think she ever showed the picture to her mother so the protectress of all things respectful never knew her daughter deliberately almost went bald just for the giggles of it. Her mother passed on more than ten years ago, so I suppose it’s safe to talk about the pixie hair cut in public without fear of private recriminations.
Personally, I think she looks just as cute now with her pixie as she did in the college picture, except back then she wore a miniskirt. If she decides she wants to keep the pixie, I’ll go shopping with her to pick out a miniskirt to match.

Those Holiday Dinners with the Family

I just hate holiday dinners with the family.
My children, of course, are fine. They know to eat what’s on their plates. We don’t threaten them with anything terrible if they don’t eat their vegetables. You don’t want vegetables. Fine. That means you’re full so you won’t have dessert. All of a sudden those green beans don’t look so bad.
What I hate are the backseat chefs, or whatever you call them. It never fails. My wife is making gravy with evaporated milk when her mother wanders up.
“You’re using a whole can of evaporated milk to make gravy? When we were growing up we were so poor we could only use half a can of evaporated milk and finished it off with water.”
“You had evaporated milk in a can?” my aunt counters. “We were so poor when we were young we only used water in our gravy.”
“You had gravy?” my mother-in-law’s aunt from a second marriage interjects. “My family was so poor we didn’t even have a stove. We stuck the chicken on a dead tree branch and held it over the fireplace. All the drippings sizzled on the logs.”
“You had logs?” Uncle Billy sits up at the table and waves his arms toward the women. Frankly, I don’t remember what side of the family he’s on. He just appeared one Sunday with someone, and they called him Uncle Billy. “We were so poor we had to burn dried cow patties. The smell was awful, but the chicken tasted mighty good. Better than that stuff wrapped up in plastic you get from the grocery store today.”
“You had cows?” Grandpa Grady grabs Billy’s arm and yanks it down. I don’t think Grandpa Grady likes Billy very much. “We didn’t even have cows. Only rich people had cows back in the good old days. We just had goats. And you try to start a fire with goat pellets!”
“I remember one year when we didn’t have any animals at all on the farm.” Grady’s sister Bertha meanders into the kitchen and sticks her nose in the saucepan where the gravy is simmering. She sniffs. “I hope that ain’t giblet gravy. I hate giblet gravy. That stuff gives me gas. You want to have a hard time cooking Sunday dinner? Try digging parsnips and carrots out of the ground and boil them in the bath water left over from Saturday night.”
“One Sunday we just ate dirt.” Billy brings along this woman who calls herself Ticey. I don’t know if Ticey is Billy’s wife, sister, cousin or girlfriend. No one dares ask. “We were from Oklahoma. That’s all we had. Dirt has a lot of good stuff, iron, minerals. And you thanked the Good Lord you had dirt to eat. Once in a while it rained so we got a treat. Mud pies.”
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, great grandma Donner comes in from the bathroom hitching up her drawers.
“That’s nothing. You should hear the story about Uncle Jim and his family going through this mountain pass one winter.”

Bessie’s Boys Chapter Ten

After the lady-in-waiting closed the door behind Rodney, Elizabeth looked up at Robin.
“Robin, I have startling news for you.”
“Oh no! The rabbit died!”
“No!” Bessie was shocked that Robin would even think she might be pregnant, not at this stage of her life. Her first impulse was to bop him over the head, but decided slapstick was not appropriate for this serious complication in English/Spanish diplomatic relations. “Clarence Flippertigibbit is alive.”
“I thought he had gone down with the Aquamarine Pigeon,” Robin mumbled, halfway to himself. He looked at Elizabeth. “So what’s he been up to?”
“Poor choice of words.” The Queen sometimes chose a most inappropriate confidante. “Let me phrase it this way. He’s been sniffing out a conspiracy.”
She rolled her eyes. “Another poor choice of words.”
“You have me thoroughly confused.” Robin shook his graying head.
Running her fingers through his hair, she said, “My dear Robin, you stay thoroughly confused all the time.”
“I’m sorry.” His eyes turned an endearing shade of hurt puppy dog.
“That’s one of your many engaging qualities that I love.”
Robin swooped her up in his arms. For an old codger, he still possessed quite admirable strength. “You always know what to say to cheer me up.”
(Editor’s note: At this time Robin headed to the royal bed. To avoid the images of two old people engaging in behavior unbecoming for English twilight, the author will jump forward fifteen or twenty minutes when the aging paramours are again properly attired.)
“I don’t know why you won’t marry me,” Robin said in a saucy insouciance as he sprawled across the bed.
Elizabeth had just removed her wig of brilliant red hair. She turned to smile at him, completely comfortable displaying her sparse, gray coiffure. “And you become king? I love England too much to allow that.”
“Why must you always hurt my feelings?” He sat up, now completely out of the mood.
“Don’t be hurt,” she said gently as she walked to him. “Just accept it as a fact of life.”
“And what fact is that?” he asked.
“You will never own the throne of England,” she paused to caress his face, “But you will always own the heart of the queen of England.”
Robin popped right back into the mood, stood and took Elizabeth into his arms. “If I can’t rule from the throne, maybe I can do something else on the throne.”
Bessie had an accomplished regal yet naughty giggle. “Oh, Robin, you scamp!”
Mistress Alice Wrenn, like the proper English maiden she was, had already retired, suitably snuggled under satin sheets. When she heard the doorknob creak, she sat up, pulling the covers to her delicate porcelain-like chin. As the door opened, she squinted to make out the figure entering her bedroom. When she recognized the intruder was Clarence, she gasped.
“A ghost!”
He leapt to her side before her petite body collapsed in a swoon. “Alice, my love! It’s all right! I’m not a spectral being! I’m flesh and blood!”
She quickly recovered and planted a wet kiss on his lips. “Hmm, and what flesh and blood,” she murmured.
“Your flesh ain’t so bad either.”
(Author’s note: extensive research into the family history revealed Flippertigibbit men, while dashingly brave and courageous in clothing choices, often slipped into lower forms of the English language when sexually aroused. This is all conjecture, of course, because Flippertigibbit is a fictitious family.)
“Oh Clarence.” She ran her slender fingers through his dark curly hair. “I’m so glad you didn’t drown when the Aquamarine Pigeon sank.”
“Yes, all those swimming lessons at Eton.”
“Thank goodness for Eton.”
They resumed their passionate kissing for a few moments until Clarence remembered he was a proper Elizabethan hero and stopped. “My main concern, while breast stroking my way to the nearest shores, was your reaction to the news of the ship’s demise.”
“I fainted.”
“I presumed you would.”
“I should have known you would have survived. You were always very good at the breast stroke.”
“Thank you, my dear.”
“Where did you come ashore?”
Clarence stood and walked away. “I—I don’t think the queen would want me to tell.”
“Then how did you return to England?” She followed him across the room.
“I can’t tell you that either.”
For a small woman, Alice’s tone turned dangerously suspicious. “I suppose you can’t tell me how you made your way into the palace?”
“That’s right, my dear.” Clarence took her hands and raised them so he could tenderly kiss them, but she yanked her pinkies from his grasp.
“I never thought you’d keep anything from me.” She stomped her tiny foot and turned away.
“It’s for England, Alice,” he pleaded plaintively.
In a quick change of heart, Alice ran to Clarence and threw herself into his arms. “In that case, I forgive you.”
They engaged in a lively round of tongue wrestling before Clarence came up for air.
“The next few weeks are going to be crucial for our island kingdom, my dear, and you must trust me if our people are to survive.”
“Are you going to put me in mortal danger?” Her tiny sparkling eyes crinkled.
“Yes.” Clarence was extremely hesitant in his reply because he was well familiar with Alice’s penchant for swooning. And, as though on cue, she began to fall limp. “Don’t faint! Please!”
Alice regained her composure with a surprising aplomb. “Since you asked politely.”
“You’re so considerate.” Those modest words rolled off Clarence’s tongue with such potent earthiness they bordered on impropriety.
“And you’re so brave and handsome and articulate,” she replied with lewd undertones to the last adjective that one might suspect she was referring to a meaning far different from academia. After another kiss, Alice giggled, “I have a naughty idea.”
Clarence cocked his head and smiled inquisitively.
Maria knelt by the altar in the palace chapel, surrounded by flickering candlelight. Her hands were clasped in fervent prayer. She began in a most appropriate Spanish.
“Dear Father, help me in my hour of need. My loyalties are torn. Am I disloyal to King Philip?” Her answer to her own question came out in proper English. “A tyrant deserves no loyalty.” Her Spanish side retorted, “But what of the land of your birth?” A sensuous smile sneaked upon her lips and in tones of pure French passion, she asked, “And what of love? That handsome Englishman takes my breath away.” Her praying hands balled up in a fist of determination. “You must conquer him!” she announced with Teutonic authority. Her head tilted in a Spanish flair. “And who will conquer England?” Pure English patriotism washed over her. “No one will conquer England!”
The four-way debate going on in Maria’s beautiful head dissolved as she heard steps coming up behind her. She turned to see Rodney, and her heart melted once again.
“Miss deHorenhausen, I’m so happy I found you,” he said, bowing deeply.
“I’m glad you found me too, Monsier Broadshoulders.”
Rodney laughed in embarrassment with a tinge of awkwardness. “It seems so funny calling each other by our last names.”
“I don’t mind if we switch to first names,” she offered in proper English as she extended her hand.
“You may call me Rodney.” His lips quivered as they touched her fingertips.
“My names are Maria Fleurette Hortense Hildegarde. Take your choice.”
“To show I hold no hard feelings against your scum-sucking king, I shall call you by your Spanish name Maria.”
Her dark eyes sparkled. “Gracias.”
“What?” Rodney wrinkled his massive brow.
“That’s Spanish for thank you.”
“Oh.” He helped her to her feet and stood so close that they could feel each other’s breath. “You’re welcome, Maria.”
She did not retreat. In her most aggressive German accent she asked, “I understand you are a great warrior.”
“I feel defenseless when faced by your beauty.” His eyes clouded over with passion.
“You also have a great command of the English language,” she observed in a clipped British tone.
Rodney displayed a crooked smile, tinged in irony. “Usually it has command of me. But in your presence the words seem to flow easily.”
“I am flattered,” she murmured, still most properly English.
His arms crept around her waist. “A great urge is coming over me to take you in my arms and kiss you passionately.”
“The quarter of me from France says you should follow your urges.”
“And what does the rest of you say?
“Take your opportunity to conquer,” her Teutonic side grunted.
“And what is the word from the English sector?”
Maria jumped into his arms. “Tally ho!” She launched a frontal assault on his mouth.
Between kisses Rodney murmured, “I’ve never been in love before.”
She held his cheeks in his palms and suggested like a true Frenchie, “If we’re lucky, once will be enough.”
“I just love the way you talk.” Rodney then launched his own incursion into her mouth.
Maria purred like a Parisian pussy. “”Let’s get comfortable.”
Rodney’s eyes lit with an idea, which did not occur often. “My father once told me of something he did when the old King Henry was laid up with gout.”
“How intriguing.” She was as curious as a lady-in-waiting hanging around Elizabeth’s back door.

Cancer Chronicles Twenty-Eight

The worst seems to have been saved for last. Pain from radiation treatment has kept my wife in constant varying levels of pain here in the last week of radiation treatment.
Six weeks ago the discomfort was minimal, but blasts of x-rays here, there and everywhere five days a week created patches of heat which were only relieved by wet paper towels applied directly to the flaming red splotches. She used this ointment three times a day throughout the treatment period but its effectiveness dwindled.
The focus of the radiation beams changed from one small area to another, each one marked in black marksalot. Unfortunately, the pain lingered after the treatment moved on.
At times effects were more discomfort than actual pain, but even that disrupted her sleep, leaving her energy even lower than usual. It didn’t keep her from getting out over the weekend and having some fun. We went to a local theatre and watched a musical and then went to a nice restaurant. But the next day she was really dragging.
Each day puts her closer to the last treatment, and she is counting them.
Enough already. I want the best friend I’ve ever had to stop feeling pain.

Thankful for Families

This special time of year is best spent appreciating all the wonderful sensations the holidays bring. One of the things that I have enjoyed the most in the last few years has been observing the American family. Despite what some may think, it is truly magnificent.
In May and October I tell stories at a local farm which creates five-acre mazes. All the generations come out to play. It’s just walking along paths through cornstalks or giant sunflowers, but everyone has a good time. Grandparents end up sitting under giant oak trees watching the little kids ride ponies and pet chickens, cows and goats. Parents have fun too but use the activities to teach their children to behave and play fair. The family which runs the attraction has grandparents supervising the entrance to the maze and making lemonade. The children help with the toting and selling bottled water.
I participate with a theatre group which involves all the generations. One woman talks about her “baby” going off to college. He’s six-foot tall, has a beard and plays the romantic leads in plays, but he’s still her “baby”, and I suspect he doesn’t mind at all. Other theater families cheer on their youngsters’ theatre ambitions, keep them humble when they have leading roles and encourage them to be the best chorus singer or scene changer they can be.
Another guy I know is at every baseball and football game his son plays in, and he lets everyone know how they went. Still another man planned an elaborate ceremony for his son’s eighteen birthday and encouraged his son to ask him anything he wanted to know about being an adult. No holds barred, no topic too sensitive.
I have seen the same families go through trials of illness and disappointments with the same unconditional love and support. When the troubles pass, the children are back at gobbling up life like it was a five-course Thanksgiving dinner.
Of course, there are the unfortunate persons who don’t quite comprehend this family dynamic, but they’re not anything new. My own childhood wasn’t exactly out of a Disney movie either. Anyone my age (and that’s pretty darned old) who claim children are less respectful and lazier today are deluding themselves or have really bad memories.
These families I watch from afar are of every socio-economic-political background. No one group can claim the virtue of family values, nor can one segment of society be labeled as less than desirable.
Cynics can say they haven’t seen this family quality around them. My suggestion is to get out of the house and try to make a positive impact in their community. That’s where they will find all the families that make us thankful to live here.

Bessie’s Boys Chapter Nine

Courtiers lined the hallway, waiting for Elizabeth to emerge from her private chambers and proceed to the great dining hall. The high vaulted ceilings echoed with muttering. Where was she, some of them wondered aloud because they were hungry and they could not even go to the table until she arrived. This was also an advantageous spot to engage in their favorite pastime—gossip about court intrigue. Rodney tried to look inconspicuous as he stood behind two middle-aged courtiers who hadn’t fought in a battle in years and their midsections showed it.
“Where’s Sir Walter Billingsgate?” one of them whispered to the other. “I haven’t seen him in a fortnight.”
“Didn’t you hear?” The second gentleman’s eyes lit up as he saw an opportunity to spread the latest scandal.
Rodney rolled his eyes. He had no patience for idle patter.
“Remember the queen’s reception for that prince from Denmark?” the second man began his story.
“Oh yes, the unpleasant fellow who dressed in black and was always mumbling to himself.”
“Well, Sir Walter made an unfortunate joke about killing his brother and marrying his brother’s wife,” the second man continued his story with gusto. “The Danish prince started a fight.”
“Yes, I remember. The queen was terribly put out that Sir Walter ruined her party.”
“Well,” the storyteller added with a snicker, “Sir Walter will never ruin another party again.” He dramatically moved his hand across his flabby neck.
Rodney began to rub his own neck as he recalled how he had pretty much ruined the queen’s reception that afternoon. Did the same fate await him? When the trumpets blasted to announce Elizabeth’s arrival, Rodney jumped so much, that the two gossiping courtiers turned to look at him. Rodney shrugged and giggled nervously.
“I always get excited when I see the Queen walk through the corridor.
Elizabeth’s grand promenade, with Robin properly a step behind, paused in front of Rodney, who broke out in a cold sweat.
“Rodney Broadshoulders,” she announced grimly, “come to my chambers immediately after supper.”
She and her entourage continued to the dining hall as the two courtiers turned to eye Rodney with apprehension. He unconsciously rubbed his throat again. Rodney hardly touched his food which was unusual for any male member of the Broadshoulders family who generally devoured their proteins with pronounced pleasure.
When Elizabeth and Robin left the banquet an hour later, Rodney tried to find a way to delay his date with destiny in the Queen’s private chambers. He attempted banter with the two gentlemen from the hallway, but sentences with more than two or three words were difficult for him. Eventually, he stood and walked to the door. Behind him he heard the men clucking in condolences. He knocked hesitantly at her Majesty’s door lightly, hoping they would not hear him. As luck would have it, a lady-in-waiting was waiting just inside the Queen’s chambers and flung open the door. He saw Elizabeth seated at her counsel table with Robin standing behind her. All sense of dignity escaped him as he rushed toward her, sliding on his knees to her feet.
“Oh, please, your Majesty,” he sputtered, “forgive me for speaking out of turn. I—I always open my foot and put my mouth in it.”
“Open your mouth and put your foot in it,” Robin corrected him.
“Please, Master Broadshoulders,” Elizabeth began wearily.
“But I didn’t mean to argue with you,” he babbled on. “I just lost my head—uh oh, poor choice of words.”
“Stand,” she ordered with gracious magnitude. “You are forgiven.”
“Oh thank, thank you, thank you.” Rodney kissed the hem of her gown.
“Stand!” she bellowed with such power that even Robin straightened his posture.
Rodney popped to his feet. “Yes, your Majesty!”
“Go to Spain incognito to discover the identity of the traitor in my court.”
“Go to Spain in what?” As pointed out earlier, Rodney, like most Broadshoulders men, was not good with words.
“Wear a disguise,” Robin prompted him.
“Return before the start of the invasion.” Elizabeth’s voice was tinged with impatience. “Now go!”
Rodney pointed out the door—(Author’s note: architectural historians hypothesize that the door to Elizabeth’s private chambers faced west, so Rodney actually pointed in the opposite direction of where he was headed. One must forgive his confusion at that moment, since he initially feared the Queen was going to have him beheaded.)—and proclaimed, “To France!”
“To Spain,” Robin corrected him, wagging his head.
“To Spain!”

Cancer Chronicles Twenty-Seven

My wife is entering her last two weeks of radiation treatment. After that we can plan to do anything or to go anywhere we damn well want to because there will be no more regularly scheduled clinic appointments. We can just stay home, eat, watch TV and take naps any time we feel like it.
For her, the radiation treatment has been a walk in the park compared to the chemotherapy. For me, however, I don’t like seeing this huge red mark on her chest, like someone had taken a hot iron and pushed it down on her skin. I want to take her in my arms and hold her tight to make the pain go away, but I don’t dare because the extreme redness looks like it is tender to the touch.
However, my wife says it does not hurt. She has a prescribed ointment to rub on the redness three times a day. What she doesn’t like about it is that the salve feels very greasy and grainy. It also dissolves the black marks where the technicians align the X-ray machine on her body. They have to mark her back up every few days.
She has done her research on radiation treatment, as she has done on every other stage she has endured during this time, and found out the last two weeks of the radiation are when the skin becomes more sensitive and painful.
However, if she continues to use the salve three times a day, the irritation won’t be as bad. Her research showed that if the patient did not receive refills on the ointment because she/or he decided they didn’t need it, the pain would become worse.
That’s why she puts the salve on three times a day even if she is not experiencing discomfort and she doesn’t like the sensation it created on her skin. She’s all stocked up on ointment and ready for whatever happens.
We’re at the goal line.

Tom Turkey’s Trick to Avoid Thanksgiving

When Tom Turkey arrived at the farm he really didn’t know what was going to happen. After all he had just broken out of his shell, shed those ugly baby feathers, and filled up and out. He was ready to strut his stuff.
However, he admitted to himself that he had no idea what the farm routine was. This guy placed him in a large pen with a bunch of chickens. After a few minutes he sauntered over to a hen and asked nonchalantly, “So what do you do around here?”
The hen looked at him with big blank eyes. “Well, mostly we stand around waiting for the guy with the bucket of seeds to come up and start throwing the seeds at us. Then we all scream and run towards him.”
“And what’s the point of that?”
We eat seeds of course. I thought everybody knew that.”
“No, I mean what’s the point of yelling and running? “
“Well, everyone else does it,” she replied. “I think it has to do with telling everyone to get out of my way because I’m hungry. And I run because if I walked, all those old biddies will eat every seed, and I won’t get anything.”
“So you go hungry sometimes?” Tom asked.
“Oh no, I always run and scream.” She was about to wander off when she stopped to add, “One last thing, don’t be greedy and eat too much. You’ll get fat and—“ She turned her head sharply when she caught a glimpse of the guy with the bucket of seed walking to the pen. “Food! Get out of my way! She screamed as she scurried toward the fence. “Move it! I’ve got babies to feed!”
Tom wondered what would happen to him if he gained too much weight. He sure as hell didn’t want to go to one of these fat farms, whatever they were. He saw a pig rolling in the mud near the fence. Trotting over Tom cleared his throat which must have sounded like plain old gobbling to anyone passing by.
“Excuse me,” Tom said politely. “A hen just told me to watch how much weight I put on. Do you know what she was talking about?”
The pig just then rolled onto his back and wriggled his butt, which must have relieved an enormous itch because he grunted in satisfaction.
Tom waited for the pig’s ecstasy to subside, hoping he would receive some sort of response to his question. None was forthcoming.
“Hey! You!” Tom hollered.
The pig’s eyes rolled to the side to observe the turkey.
“Huh?” he snorted.
“I said what happens if I gain too much weight?” He was so profoundly frustrated his feathers immediately puffed out to their fullest, including his tail feathers which looked like a beautiful brown and white fan.
The pig took a moment to wriggle his but one more time before answering, “They eat you.”
“What!?” Tom erupted with an out-of-control gobble.
“Listen, my friend, we all got to die one day so just enjoy the chow and the dames. Yep, we got Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up soon. Now if you don’t mind, one of those sows over there is giving me the eye.”
Then he wandered off, leaving Tom to ponder his future. He looked over to the other side of the pig pen where a cow stood placidly munching on some grass. The turkey ambled over and started a conversation.
“Now are you, my good cow?”
“I’d be better off if I could get rid of these damned flies.”
“So,” Tom continued slowly, “what do you think about the upcoming holidays?”
“I absolutely love Thanksgiving,” she crooned. “The guy gives me pumpkin to eat. He throws it on the ground and I ram my head into it, cracking it open. The taste is to die for.”
“Speaking of death,” Tom interrupted, “do you ever wonder about dying?”
The cow stopped in mid-chew. The grass fell from her mouth. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“The pig just told me the guy that brings the food kills pigs and turkeys. It’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Tom paused for the cow to say something, but she just stood there with a blank stare in her eyes. “Don’t people like to eat cow?”
“It’s called beef, darling, and we are delicious,” she replied. “Of course, I don’t have to worry about that because I’m so entertaining.”
“Entertaining?” Tom shook his head. He was getting hit by a lot of existential allusions, and they were wearing thin on his nerves.
“I have a beautiful voice,” the cow explained. “Thy guy is entranced by my mooing, so I moo all the time just for him. I have big brown beautiful eyes which I flutter every time he passes by. And I give him a big wet kiss. Men love to be kissed.”
Tom Turkey didn’t know what to make of this. “I don’t kiss.”
“Of course you don’t. You’re a turkey, but if you want to live you better find something pretty damn fast that the guy thinks is adorable or you’ll end up on the dining room table.”
Tom had not been around all that long, hardly any time at all, and to find out it was all going to be over before he knew anything about life caused him to shudder. His feathers puffed out again as far as he could puff them.
“Hey, that’s pretty cool,” the cow said. “Can you do that any time you want to?”
“Do what?” Tom asked. His patience with the other farm animals had just about reached a breaking point.
“Puff your feathers out like that. One minute they’re limp and, bam, they’re at attention. “Pretty damn impressive if you ask me,” she said and then lowered her head to pick up the grass that had fallen from her mouth.
“Puffing out my feathers? You must be kidding me.” By now he had calmed down and the feathers collapsed.
“Boo!” the cow bellowed.
The turkey’s feathers immediately went to full attention.
“See what I mean?” The cow winked at him. “You’re a star, baby.”
Later in the afternoon that guy with the bucket showed up again, and started throwing out the seed. Instead of running and screaming like the chickens, Tom popped his feathers up and strutted over to the fence like he owned the place.
The guy stopped in mid-toss and smiled at the turkey. He grabbed an extra-big handful of seeds and tossed them right at Tom. When the chickens turned to rush toward him, he gobbled as loud as he could which made the chickens stop abruptly. He then proceeded to eat at a leisurely pace. I could get used to this, he told himself.
The next morning, the guy with the bucket walked up with this woman and a couple of children. Instinctively Tom puffed up and strutted for all it was worth over to them.
“See what I mean?” the guy with the bucket told the others. “He does it every time.”
Tom let out a long, loud gobble.
“Boy, he lets you know when he wants his food too,” the guy said as he threw a big hand-full of seed at the turkey. “When the family comes over for Thanksgiving dinner we’ll have to bring them out here to see the turkey puff up.”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Tom said as he gobbled down his food, “I am a star.”