Categories
A Certain Verified American Life Fiction

WE GOT A NEW COFFEE MAKER

A short story draft — because we only write drafts at this point in our lives, because life is too short, and because everyone else writes multiple edited drafts. That would be too confusing. 
By Kenny Eoin and Morgan Philips – Guest Writer

By Kenny Eoin and Morgan Phillips and the computer keyboard

We got a new coffee maker. There was nothing wrong with the old one. It was not a good one, but it worked. It made coffee every day when we asked it. Sometimes it made coffee several times a day. Those days usually required us to stay awake for extended periods of time. It never complained, which was unlike my wife and sometimes myself. When I had to stay awake for extended periods of time I periodically became grumpy. Sometimes I will yell at people for no reason. I am not sure if it was because I was tired or irritable due to the coffee.

The coffee maker never made good tasting coffee. We were glad it made coffee. We tried, (we meaning myself, and sometimes my wife, but mostly me) all types of coffee from all over the world. Some came from Africa, some from South America, some from Jamaica, and some from Walmart. They all tasted the same. My wife would have been fine with the taste if only we could program it to brew in the morning before we got up. It was not programmable. She would always complain. “This coffee tastes awful,” is what I heard most of the time. Sometimes she would add an expletive to help me better understand her point of view. I believe mostly she did not like having to physically make something she knew would taste bad and then drink it every morning to wake up.

On Christmas day we were at my parent’s house. They always have their place looking nice with decorations. I am proud and happy to visit them during this time because it looks so nice. My mom and wife always exchanged compliments with each other about the things they did for the holidays. My mom was also insightful, and maybe at some point overheard my wife or myself complaining about the coffee we made every day. In a box under the tree, there was only one present for my wife and me. It was a medium-size box. We did not receive one present because we were bad the previous year, we got one because we now have kids. It was all agreed upon by my brother’s wife, my wife, and my mom the attention should be on the kids. As it should be I thought.

The next day, I had almost forgotten about the new coffee maker because of the general overwhelming that occurs during Christmas. I was also in some hot water with my wife due to not getting her a present. ( a whole other story) In my defense, I am pretty sure the focus on the kid’s rules applied to us. She did get me a nice unexpected present, (another whole story) When I woke that morning the kids were already up. I don’t understand them because when I was a kid in school, on break, I always slept as long as possible. I looked at them in wonder, started to explain the sleeping in concept to them, but stopped. But, it was too late they got what I was trying to explain. I thought this might bite me in you-know-what later. The last thing I want to do is start prying them out of bed every morning. Then I saw the new coffee maker box. It was saying, “Open me and make your first pot Mr. Crow.”

When I unpacked it, I had a feeling life was about to change. First, unlike the old one, it had lots of buttons. The old one had one button, on and off. I counted six buttons, two knobs, and a lever. I also had the suspicion I would have to read the manual to get it fired up and running. It looked strange sitting on the counter all shiny and clean.

It did not take long the make our first pot. It brewed beautifully. The aroma filled the house and woke my wife. We sat together with smiles enjoying our first cup. Our kids had the TV blasting and were destroying the living room, but we did not care. We looked each other in the eye and I knew I had been forgiven for my lapse in giving a gift. The taste was a lot better, but not spectacular. I thought it must be the coffee brand. I made a note to buy something better. The best part, however, was this new maker was programmable. We could set it up to make it before we came down from getting dressed. I would be able to smell it brewing while putting on my clothes. What more could you ask for in life? It was the best present this year.

Thirty-one minutes later, it was 8:30 AM, now 9:01 AM, and when I discovered a possible issue other than the taste. The carafe was warm, not hot. Our old make did not make great tasting coffee, but if I came back in thirty-one minutes it was at least hot (with the taste of being burnt, which I did not mind too much since it already tasted bad).

There is a knob on the new coffee maker that says Carafe Temp. It’s marked L, M, H. I thought, let’s put it on H and make another pot. It did not work. Thirty-one minutes after a new brew, it was warm again. Something is not right. I called my mom to consult her. She has the same one. She told me it stays hot for two hours. I made another pot. No change. I decided to consult the manual. It had one sentence about the knob. “You can control the carafe temp with this knob.

Then my wife discovered the warm coffee. “Why is the coffee cold?” she said, and then “What good is a coffee maker that does not keep it warm?” I knew at that point things might go downhill. I immediately went and bought some expensive coffee and made her a pot. It tasted really good for thirty-one minutes.

We were now beginning the fourth day of having bad coffee made from our new coffee maker. I did not want to come right out and say it, but well, “I’m pretty pissed off.” It could also be I have not had much sleep. Since it was about to be a new year. I have been mulling over all that went wrong this past year and it was keeping me up, including the new coffee maker. I am now positive the kids got better presents than we did.

We got a new coffee maker that made bad tasting coffee like our old coffee maker, but there was some comfort, it is new and shiny. It now tastes bad at all times, but I think it is mostly psychological. We did try coffee from Africa, South American, Jamaica, and Walmart. It made no difference. It continued to taste bad.

My wife suggested I go to Starbucks and ask the people who make coffee for a living (or part-time) if they have any advice about our bad tasting coffee. My kids have slept in all four of the past days a well, and I have had to pry them out of bed. I used TV cartoons and hot cocoa as a stick and carrot for them to get up. I knew it would come back to bite me.

At Starbucks, I asked if I could speak to a manager. It was the manager I was speaking to. I considered it a good sign that I did not have to wait for the manager. Maybe, she would have an answer to my problem. I asked the manager if can I speak with her star barista. I said it in a way she would not be offended if she thought I was implying she was not the best. Long story short, she was the best, however, she was not so good at explaining how to make coffee. After several minutes I realized what she was trying to say was, “If it’s not in the Starbucks coffee making manual she could not help me.” It was frustrating, but on the way home I thought about something my wife said. something I read in the manual (the Starbucks barista made me think about manuals again) and something my mom said. After putting one, one, and one together I had an idea.

Problem solved! We are very happy now. The carafe temperature needed to be programmed as well. It did not say it in the manual, but I gave it a try and it worked. Now it is programmed for me to smell coffee brewing while I get dressed. All psychological stigmas are gone. We have great tasting coffee from Africa, some from South America, some from Jamaica, and some from Starbucks. And every day thirty-one minutes later it was HOT!

Note: This is draft ONE. In draft two, I will make sure I talk more about my wife not getting her present. The unexpected present she got me (even though she broke her own rule), and my subscription to Fresh Cup Magazine.

Note 2: “Yes Mrs. Parrish,” (my 5th Grade grammar police officer — teacher) I will work on my spelling and grammar in the next draft.

Categories
A Certain Verified American Life Fiction

Living life 2 feet from the edge

The story and design of Oakhurst Outfitters’ – 2 FT FROM THE EDGE badge.

This design was inspired by a recent adventure story and photo a family member sent me in the middle of the night (a couple of hours time difference here). Early that day he’d been hiking an Idaho mountainside near Stanley. In the photo, you could see one direction went straight up and in the other, it was straight down. He was on a ledge and in the middle of the night looking at the photo I got a massive adrenalin rush just looking at it. I could not imagine actually hiking the trail. It did inspire the graphic badge.

Miguel Hermoso Cuesta  Background Photograph 
Get 2 Feet from the Edge Swag here.
Categories
A Certain Verified American Life Fiction

ON THE WAY DOWN

A short story by Morgan Phillips

It’s an early afternoon in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Two friends are hiking along a thin ledge when they slip and fall to their death.

CIRCA 2004 

This is their conversation on the way down. 

14,000 Feet and falling

Well, here we are.

Yep.

I guess you were right, it’s beautiful on the way down. I’m seeing much more this way.

Yeah it’s beautiful.

I wish I brought another pullover.  It’s a little chilly.

It’s nippy… should we talk about anything or just enjoy the view?

I don’t know.  How high up did you say we were?

The guide said Fourteen thousand or so.

Wow…Is that the highest you have ever been?

Yeah, and you?

Definitely… I think the highest I’ve been is Eleven thousand.

So…What do you want talk about?

Forget about any religious or political topics. Takes up to much time and energy.

Too much! 

We could say a pray.

Cool, how about later though.

How about….The meaning of life? 

13,000 feet

OK…slow down mister, let’s keep it light.

Cool….Hey….quick look out!  Watch that cliff edge.

Wow!  Thanks, man,  that was close.

What were we saying?

I was talking about keeping things light.

You’re right.  How about we get that prayer out of the way?

That might be a good idea.

Do you know any?

Not really.  I didn’t ever ask for much.  I figured he would like me better if I didn’t bug him.

Man, you should know he will listen to you no matter what.

I know.  I just figured I’d give him a little break from me.  It would be one less person for him to deal with.

That’s cool.  I didn’t really ask much either but felt like I should at least keep in touch.

Great, now that you said that, I’m begining to think that I caused him more trouble by not staying in touch.  It probably took more time for him to check on me than it did for me to check in with him.  

I think you will be OK.  What’s done is done. 

You think? 

Well it’s a little late now.  I guess you will find out real soon.

Do you think we should go ahead and check-in?

I guess we better.  Couldn’t hurt.

OK, well, you start and I’ll follow.

I don’t have much to say.

We don’t have much time.

Umm…God bless us.  OK, that’s it.

Cool…Amen then.

Glad that’s over.

Me, too.

12,000 Feet

I think I just saw a llama.

Really, where?

Back up there.

I see it.

How fast do you think we’re going?

I think I heard that ski divers go about 120 miles an hour.

Really?

Sounds crazy….

Hope I don’t hit a bug.

Me, too.  It would be a real mess.

I wonder if any one is watching us?

It’s possible.  Maybe some of those gorillas we were told about are watching.

Maybe.  I was hoping we would run into some.

In a strange way, I kind of did also.  I wonder what they would do to us?

Maybe they’d take us hostage and hold us for ransom.

That would have been scary.

Do you think it would be scarier than this?

Funny you say that…I was thinking that I’m not really scared.  I mean,  I probably would be really scared if I were by myself.

Really?  I’m a little scared.  

I think talking on the way down has made things a little easier to deal with.

I think so, too.

11,000 Feet

What did you think of this country?

I was contemplating moving here.

What would you do for a living?

I think I’d start an advertising agency.

An ad agency? I would have guessed a scuba diving business.

Hmm…That does sound better.  What would you do?

I think I would start the first ever blues & jazz restaurant in Lima, where you could bring your hungry diver customers.  Of course, you would always eat for free.

How do you know it would be the first?

I don’t;  I was just dreaming that it would be.

That’s cool.  What kind of food would you serve?

I don’t know.  What would you serve?

You could be the first blues & jazz sushi bar.

What about the people who don’t like sushi?

Screw’em.

Do you think?  Maybe, just a good old hamburger and fries?

Yeah, that could be on the alternative menu.

If we only had it all to do over?

10,000 Feet

I wonder what’s going on back in the States?

I saw a newspaper before we left.  I couldn’t read it, but it had a picture of the president on the cover.  He was shaking his fist, and smiling in a black Cowboy Hat.  

Some people hate him and some people love him, but I think that he’s accomplished the impossible.

Well, one thing is for sure: our country is safe now.

Sometimes it really makes my head hurt talking about politics.

Some people would say that is unpatriotic.

I’m always thinking about what my place is in this world.  What do you think?

I know what my place is.  It’s to help people.

Cool.

I figured the more I know about this world the better I can understand and help people.

You’re right.

I bet you know your place.

Are you trying to help me?

Well, only if you want me to.

I want to help people, but I just don’t know how.

What ways have you thought about?

This may sound weird, but I want to help people through entertainment.

What kind of entertainment?

With movies,  not documentaries, just movies.

What kind?

That’s what I haven’t figured out yet.  I don’t really want to make the standard underdog to hero movie.  It’s only has a one message.  That good prevails.

Maybe that’s all that’s needed.

Maybe, but I guess it doesn’t really matter now.

No, not really.

9,000 Feet

Did you talk to your parents?

When?

Anytime before today?

I talked to them before the trip. I haven’t since then.

Me neither.  I hope they will be OK.

My parents thought I was crazy.  They said this was dangerous.

My mom was also worried, but she was more excited than nervous.  She is happy that I‘m seeing the world.

My parents toured the world a few times.  They say our country is the best in the world, and that I should be happy living and seeing everything there.

That’s to bad.  There is a lot out there.

I think that it’s too much for them.   They’re happy living in their own little world.

I think I just got a chill.

8,000 Feet

These Andes Mountains are cool.  I bet the Incans didn’t get to see them like this.

Maybe a few of them did.

Their little secret will never be revealed.

What do you think we are doing? 

Well, I guess we are making our own little secret.

We not revealing the secret?

I guess, but it’s ours.  What if that Inca was murdered?

Murdered? 

Nothing…My mind was wondering.

Do you think people will know what happened to us?

Well, I didn’t tell anybody that I was going to be blown off a cliff in the Andes.  I certainly didn’t think about it when I woke up this morning.

Should we write a note to our families?

We could, but I think it would be to complicate to explain.

How about we just keep it our little secret.

That works for me.

We’ll make the news all over the world.  Some people will think we were murdered.

Some might think that we planned it.

I guess we’ll be the only ones who know what really happened.

Let’s talk about something else.

7,000 Feet

I guess we could talk about sports.

I’m not too much of a sports fan.

Me neither, but I do keep up just in case I find myself in a situation where I need to know at least the big news..

I don’t really bother.

My dad and brother, more so my, brother are real sport fans.  I like talking to him about them.  He is one of those situations.

I have a couple of friends who are big sports fans.  They’re always quoting the stats.

Ahh….the good old numbers and stats.

6,000 Feet

Well, one good thing, no more numbers to worry about from work.

Yeah, I hate numbers.  I’m not a salesman.

I did love helping our clients though.  It made my day when someone was really successful in something that they truly worked for.

And,  what about the ones that didn’t have that same success?

I helped them all.  No matter what, even if they were not successful with everything, relatively speaking, they all achieved something.

Cool, man.

What do you think they will say about us?

Does it really matter?

Not really, I guess.  I do wonder, though.

I guess I do, too.  I know one thing is for sure, a memo will be sent around.

I think I hate memos, too.

Especially the ones that say memo on the top.

Yeah, talk about redundancy.

5,000 Feet

I wonder what will our friends say?

You know man…I really don’t have a whole lot of friends, just a lot of acquaintances.  I do hope that the friends that I do have will say good things.

Having a lot of friends is a lot of responsibility.  True friends anyway.

I know what you mean.  Maybe that’s why I don’t have a lot.  I don’t want to let down the ones that are true

It does take a lot of time to have friends, but it’s worth every minute.

I think in my next life if there is one,  I will work on making a lot of good friends.

It’s my number one priority.  I love all the people I know.

When do you know they are true friends?

I don’t think there is ever a specific time.  They just seem right.

That’s great.  You have an unbelievable capacity true friendship.

I never put fences up, I just keep the door open.

I’ll try and keep that in mind.  In fact, I think that I’m going to take down all my fences in my next life.

Just remember one thing.

What’s that?

Everyone will make mistakes and you have to give empathy.

All right then….

4,000 Feet

I wonder what my cats are doing?

I know mine are sleeping.

Yeah, they’re probably sleeping or eating.  Do you think they miss us?

If they could miss us, then they probably are.  They are in good hands though.

What was your first pet?

My mom’s cat.

Me too, I did have a hermit crab for a while.  It was my first real pet.  It was pretty cool.  It didn’t do much though:  It crawled around a little when you took it out to play.

Cool.  My friend had a lizard.  It was really cool.  And super fast.  I remember one time when he lost it for a week.  He was sad.  We thought it escaped out the window.  If it did it must have liked it in its cage because we came home one day and it was miraculously back in its cage.

Wow, that’s crazy.

Now that I think back on it, I bet his mom did buy him another one.

Probably… It would be really cool if it did come back on it’s own, though.

3,000 Feet

So do you think there’s an after life?

I thought we were going to keep this light.

This is light.

I think if we are apart of a solar system and our solar system is part of the Milky Way, and the Milky Way is part of the Universe, then I have to wonder what contains the Universe.  I mean, if the Universe is expanding, then what is it expanding into?  With that thought, I think anything is possible.

So you think that there could be an after life?

Sure, and if that’s the case, then as soon as this is over, we’ll be sitting in our rocking chairs, on the porch of our beach house in Figi.  We would be talking about our travels and wondering what will become of the world after we leave.

In an alternate Universe?  What if we turn out to be flies or city rats or cockroaches?

In that case, I would like to be a fly on the wall when JFK was with Marilyn Monroe in the White House.

Yeah, I think that I’d  want to be a fly on the wall when Hitler finally realized his time was up.

That’d be really cool.

Maybe that would be a movie in the alternate Universe.  Like everything here on earth was a movie in another dimension.

I would write it and you could direct it.

I don’t know anything about directing.

I bet you know more than you think.

2,000 Feet

I have an idea. Do you have your camera with you?

Yeah, hold on, here it is. Why?

So when they find us they can see our last moments were happy.

Cool idea.  I hope I can smile.

Me too.  OK, I’m going to fly over to you. Get the camera ready.

It’s ready.

OK, I’m ready.

Smile!

Cheese!

OK, now how do we protect the camera?

Maybe if you put it in your backpack it will be ok.

All right, then

1, 000 Feet

Do you have anything to drink?  I think my bottle fell away when we first went over.

Here you go.

Thanks.

Hey, do you have any more of those coca leaves.

I think I do.

Cool we can have a snack.

Cheers!

Cheers!

We’re getting closer.

Yeah, I can see the ground.

It’s almost time.

Yep.

Any regrets?

Yeah, you?

I wanted to see China. And you?

Yeah, I forgot to tell her that I loved her.

Well, It’s all good because we’re probably just one giant simulation and the artificial intelligence will take back over at some point in the future.

THE END

Alternate story:

Damian – Oh Shiiiiiitttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!

Fabain –  Fuccccccckkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!

THE END

Categories
A Certain Verified American Life Fiction

RIDING SHOTGUN IN LIFE

A short story draft – because I only write drafts at this point in life
By Kenny Eoin – Guest Writer

The windows were down and the engine was roaring. Dusty and hot in the fast lane, we were cruising. Tim drove while I sat shotgun on the mission. Our priority? Get some end of the day suds. Slapping up drywall at our construction job produced serious thirst.

We had not a care about being filthy dirty for the operation. Smiling from ear to ear we rolled down the road in a modified, over the top, souped-up convertible built-to-the-tilt 1969 Camaro. It is lightning blue and ferocious. At a stoplight we jumped out and flipped the ragtop open to maximize cooling.  It’s our after work routine.

Tim stomped it when the light changed.  The tires smoked up in an instant. The rear of the car screamed in a fishtail with all the rage of manhood.

He bang shifted two gears, each time ripping the tires and pavement, while we screamed,  “Hell yeah!”

And then it happened. Something flew into my mouth going straight to the back of my throat.

Hack…hack…ugggh…uggh!…Gulp!  

Tim looked over.  I looked back.

“Man… I just swallowed something!”

Tears formed and I felt my face turn a couple of shades past red.

“You OK man?”

At first I thought I was OK, but something was all wrong.

“Dude, you’re hacking on a big ass bug? I saw it!”

Gagging and grasping for air, I couldn’t utter a word.

“I saw it man, it was huge!”

I was looking for something smart to say like, “It’s my dinner,” or some other crack, but it became apparent something was way wrong. I couldn’t swallow. It was hard to breathe and whatever it was, it’s alive and moving.

Tim saw that I was having a tough time with it, pulled over, and for a moment, I thought things would begin to chill out. Yes, it seemed to calm as if it had given up and moved down into the old food churner.  I was able to breathe a little better and my skin was changing back to its normal color.

I thought, now all I have to do is live with that uncomfortable feeling…“Gulp”…hacking that occurs when you swallow something, “hack,…HACK”… the wrong way, until we get a couple swigs of those suds. You know the feeling, you hate it. It just lingers around.

“Dude that is the funniest thing I have every seen!” was the remark Tim made right before it happened.

::::WHAM! :::: A piercing sting into the back of my throat! It felt like a giant needle-sharp thorn had just stabbed into the most sensitive part of my body!

I went epileptic. I had no control. My body was in pure reaction. My arms were flapping all over the place. My legs were stomping the floorboard, and I slammed my back into the seat with convulsions. “I’m going to die!” I screamed.

Tim edged towards shock himself at the sight of me. He jumped as far away from me as he could inside the car. No room for laughing now.

I was in pain and he was scared!

As fast as the pain came, it went away. What was going on?  Tim was now fumbling with his cell phone trying to call for help.

“Wait I think I’m ok, hold on a minute.”  He lowered the phone momentarily.

“Yo wild man, I don’t know – you’re freaking me out.”

My mind was in an intense seesaw struggle.  One minute I’m out of control, next I feel calm and really mellow.  In fact, I feel really good, kind of numb, and sleepy.

That’s the last thing I remember before I woke up in what I thought was barn with all my cloths missing and my body covered in an odorless, clear slime.

:: ONE SECOND LATER -TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THREE UNIVERSAL YEARS LATER ::

Squaaaak….CRRRRRRK…Can you read me?..Hello READER…Crrrrrkkkk…CAN you read me now?…Can you read me now?

That should be good. Pardon my interruption of your reading…It’s me Alex.

Well I did remember a flash, I think.  It could have been just a sneeze. At this point it is but a faded memory.  My name is Alex Coogle.  One thing is for sure, that day was the beginning of all the new in the future days of my life.  I call it a renaissance coming out of the dark ages.

I have to tell you, that day, well, it went straight to the top of the charts of my WOW!… days.  I never saw my friend Tim or my family again. I become rather lonely in thought when I think of them, but I manage it.

If I were in your shoes right now, I might be wondering what the heck just happened with this story, but before I get into it, I have to warn you, what I am about to express is not for everyone. I can also tell you, if there was ever any doubt in your mind that we are not alone in the universe, please let me be clear as possible, WE ARE NOT ALONE.

You see, once I was a young redneck southerner with absolutely no clue about life. Now, due to extraordinary circumstances I am a well traveled galaxy hopper. And, the coolest thing is only one second of my Earth life has passed, but I have lived 253 universal years.  You’re probably smirking and saying, “Oh boy this is a real zinger,” and maybe you might even be considering moving on to another story, but I say just wait a few more paragraphs then I will let you go.

I know, I said I would explain what happened. You are curious as to what I was gagging on and what immediately changed my life forever, but it’s actually not the point of this story. You see, this is not a normal story. The whole first part was used to get your attention.

That day I was riding shotgun in a hot rod muscle car from the nineteen sixtes and now I am the new managing sales director of Universal Life Travel Company.  Recently, we upgraded our system to better accommodate human planetary space travel. Since I was formerly human, I now manage team of sales people throughout the 42nd sector of what you know as the Milky Way Galaxy. And, no, I did not borrow that number from Douglas. Just go ask one of those real smart physicists they will tell you there is such a place.

Before managing and being a company salesperson, my long time idea was to expand the untapped market of Earth and its surrounding life bearing planets. After all, it’s the home planet. So, if you are reading this, please know it’s an advertisement and you’re potentially a great candidate to receive a trial travel pass. It’s free and with full family and friend reinstatement guarantee if you are not satisfied.  It has been placed in special places to attract mavens who can help slowly spread the word about the ability of space travel.  You see, we, and by “WE” I mean the people of the SETTA (or better yet the Beings of the Universe) cannot just show up on Earth and say, “Hello, Here we are. Would you like to travel around the Universe?”  It would be a real mess. You have seen the movies. The governments would get involved and try to destroy us, or the rich people would try to buy and hide us for themselves. No, we cannot do it that way. So what I decided to do was write a couple short story contest entries, then enter them periodically over time in various competitions and wait to see who could figure out the secret code. I think the secret code thing is primo. Everyone always seems to like things that have mystery. We’re all just a bunch of problem solvers. I did try to remember how people were communicating around the time I took the new form, but all the FacedIn and PwitterBook stuff was just too much of scrambled up mess to get any real message out.

What I needed was to get in front of the people who can really get the word out in a positive way.

So to re-cap: The first part of this story was created to get your attention, the middle part of this story is to let you know you are not alone in the Universe and to let you know you can travel beyond any limit you can ever imagine. And, the final run to the finish is to let you know there is a code within the story that, if broken, will give you the directions on how to contact me Alex Coogle KB3MXV and learn how you can become a Universal Life Traveler. Good luck in finding the solution. If you do find it, then know you are who we are looking for to help spread the word….Signing off now…..crrrrrraaackkk…

:: THREE DAYS LATER – SEVERAL UNIVERSAL MILLENIUM YEARS LATER ::

“My sympathies. Mr. and Mrs. Coogle, I’m keeping you and your loved one in my prayers.” Thank you Tim. “You’re welcome. Who knew he was allergic to bees?”