Double Losers

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

Ruins

Ruins (Photo credit: StephYo)

I knew two men who were giants,
Not really, they just thought they were;
They both were so defiant,
Brought themselves and others great hurt.
In their hearts they each were always right,
‘Twas the other who was always wrong;
With those mind sets, and both willing to fight,
The question was who was more strong.
They pitted the battle not once but twice,
And the battles were several years spaced;
They cared not the cost, who or what paid the price,
It became a fight to save face.
Neither won, so many lost, the rubble is all that remains,
Two ‘little men’ thought they were giants, did nothing but cause great pain.

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

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The Almost Fight

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

When faced with confrontation, do you head for the hills or walk straight in? Was there ever a time you wished you’d had the opposite reaction?

Fight

Fight (Photo credit: Philippe Put)

Danny and Tommy were walking quickly to the back side of the rural school house followed by at least a dozen of their classmates. It was Tuesday evening and teachers and parents were inside occupied with their own drama in a scheduled Parents and Teachers Association meeting. The meeting presented a perfect time for the ‘feud’ to finally be settled.

There actually was not a real feud. It was more like the ongoing torment of a young bully, Tommy, taunting his unwilling, fearful victim, Danny. The more Danny had tried to negotiate peace and friendliness with Tommy, the more ‘the bully’ came out of his tormentor. The other classmates didn’t help, but only aggravated matters by chanting together like a young schoolboys’ choir. They would chant things like, “Danny is a sissy, Danny is a sissy. If he had girl clothes then he’d be prissy.” This only served to embolden the bully and torment the victim.

Finally, Danny could take no more and had agreed to face his biggest fear. They would fight it out on Tuesday night during the PTA meeting while parents and teachers were occupied inside.  All the boys, mostly 5th graders, had purchased hot dogs and sodas at the vendors so that no one would be concerned when they headed outside to enjoy their snacks. Danny had marched along with the group feeling like he was being carried along like a small log in a river stream.

The group of rowdy boys finally reached the open area behind the school that had been designated for ‘the rumble.’ They all took time to eat their hot dogs, however, before forming their ‘circle of doom.’ Tommy seemed to wolf his food down in his normal huffy, puffy manner. Danny, the smallest boy in the crowd, took his time slowly eating as though it was his ‘final meal’ before execution.

Something happened inside young Danny as he slowly and intentionally stretched out the eating of his hot dog. He suddenly remembered the characters he had played over the last few years in school plays and church drama skits. As he finished the last few bites of his hot dog, Danny began starring down his bigger than life opponent. As he starred, Danny began slowly pacing around Tommy as though he was sizing him up and choosing his moment. Danny was suddenly in character as one of the gladiators from eras past.

Feeling now like a young gladiator, little Danny threw the last bit of his food down and balled his fists. Knowing he would most likely lose this fight he had determined within himself to at least redeem his reputation with the other boys. Yes, he would wear his ‘whipping’ with pride. As he circled the bully with his fists raised and the best look of a fighter he could muster from memories of television and movies, Danny decided he would attempt the first punch.

Fight, fight, fight.

Fight, fight, fight. (Photo credit: theirhistory)

With the circle of boys chanting, “Hit him, pop him good!” Danny made his move. Just before he could land the ‘first lick’ as the boys called it, Tommy suddenly ‘chickened out’ and stepped back.  Now, the bully was the fearful one and began backing up and whining like a little wimp about fighting not being necessary to settle their differences. “We can just shake hands and agree to not cross each other’s path. I’ll be happy with that,” the bully now whined. Danny realizing that he was in a winning position without having to throw a single punch took a step back and lifted his chin. He magnanimously agreed while extending his open hand in friendliness to his past tormentor.

“Ah, man!” the young chorus cried as they watched the disagreement being settled without fisticuffs and wrestling on the ground. Someone cried that the concession stand was still open and the entourage headed back to the front of the school building to buy candy and gum. On this return trip, Danny, the smallest of the group, now felt larger than all the rest. Several slapped him on the back and congratulated him as the winner while the bully sullenly brought up the rear looking sad and dejected. Tommy’s reign of terror was over; not only with Danny, but with the rest of the boys as well.

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

The Red Hot Sports Car (short fiction)

Daily Prompt: Weaving the Threads

Draft a post with three parts, each unrelated to the other, but create a common thread between them by including the same item — an object, a symbol, a place — in each part.

The young state trooper slid behind the steering wheel of his recently assigned patrol vehicle. The time he had spent in the Army as part of the Military Police had been a factor in being hired into a job he had dreamed of for years.  His civilian training was completed and he was now working the job of his dreams. As one of the newest hires it came as no surprise that he would have to work the “graveyard shift” as many referred to the hours from late night to early morning.

Mazda-rx7-3rd-generation01 (OA)

Mazda-rx7-3rd-generation01 (OA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With an eye-opening ‘cup of joe’ in him, John eased the patrol vehicle with the high performance engine and high speed stabilization package out of town to cruise the rural stretch of Highway 18. The cruiser reminded him of the little red sports car he had purchased by special order years before while in the Army. John had enjoyed cruising around base and the nearby city in the hot little number he had owned for a couple of years before he had received orders to ship out on overseas deployment. Reluctantly, he had done the smart thing and had sold his little red sweetheart.

As Patrolman John Steerforth began his sift, a few miles further south on Highway 18 a young, blond haired high school boy suddenly bolted awake as his car shook under him. In a moment’s time Kyle Smathers realized he had fallen asleep while driving home from a date and had run off of the road. Startled, he looked up to see a row of rural mailboxes directly in front of his little red Mazda RX7. Instantly, he knew he would not have the time to avoid the postal boxes by steering back onto the paving, so he chose to take his chances on the slope of the roadside.

Startled wide awake, adrenalin had taken over and Kyle was amazed at how well the low profile sports car was holding the bank. All went well for 200-300 feet until a drainage washout caused Kyle to lose control as the vehicle was suddenly pulled violently left and in no time a pine tree now was the danger. Luck had run out for Kyle as he and the little red car plowed head-on into the large pine tree.

When Kyle came back into consciousness a few minutes after plowing into the tall Georgia pine, he wondered at first if he had been killed as he felt no pain. As his head cleared he then realized the safety air-bag had done its job. The doors were jammed closed as the vehicle had folded like an accordion in some places. Remembering the RX7 had a large rear hatch window, Kyle reached down and pulled the latch by the seat and released the rear window and crawled out of the vehicle and back up the embankment to the edge of the quiet country road.

Realizing that no traffic could be hoped for in that stretch of rural highway in the middle on night, Kyle started walking back in the direction of the mailboxes.  Hoping to be able to find the houses associated with the postal boxes in the dark, great relief flooded over the young man as he saw someone with a flashlight walking in his direction. The farmer in the big house across from the mailboxes had been awakened by the sound of the crash and had slipped on his trousers, grabbed a light and came running after telling his wife to call 911.

Shortly after reaching young Kyle, the older gentleman, Frank James, consoled the young man after having ascertained that he seemed to be physically fine and that no one else was involved in the accident. By the time the State Patrolman rounded the curve with lights flashing Kyle was already lamenting the loss of his sweet little red sports car that had been a special gift for graduation.

Upon arriving on the scene, Trooper Steerforth, took things quickly under control and began his accident scene procedures. First, he determined for himself that Kyle was not injured and was not in need of medical attention. Then, they all went down to the accident site to verify that no one else was in the car and that no other vehicles were involved.

A couple of local citizens who knew Kyle and his father as well as Mr. James, had happened by the accident scene and had stopped to offer assistance. Having determined that the situation was secure and after checking the young man for a “Driving Under the Influence” violation, Trooper Steerforth returned to his car to fill out the accident report. Satisfied with the test results and seeing that no property except the vehicle was damaged, he had agreed that the friends of the family could drive Kyle to his home and parents who were only about five minutes away as soon as he was finished.

With his cruiser window down the patrolman overheard the young man now begin to lament the loss of his beautiful red sports car to his father’s friends. The friends already knew it had been a graduation gift that Kyle had received for graduating with high honors. Listening to the sad young man Trooper John was reminded of the similar feeling he had experienced watching his own red sports car departing the day he had sold it several years earlier.

Mr. Jack Jones had answered an advertisement in the paper the shipping out soldier had reluctantly placed in order to sell his heart’s delight. John had agreed to meet with Mr. Jones and his wife, Susan, for a test drive of the beautiful little red two-seater. The middle-aged Mrs. Jones drove for the test drive and John wondered why a lady almost old enough to be a grandmother wanted with a car that only seated two. When they returned to Mr. Jones the deal was made immediately. Mr. Jones said that he did not need to drive the car if Mrs. Jones was satisfied. Money was paid and papers signed and the young soldier watched with great sadness until ‘his’ pretty red car was out of sight.

“Don’t worry, Kyle,” Trooper John heard someone speaking and it quickly brought his focus back to the accident scene. “You have a long life ahead of you. Just be thankful for now you are safe. Your dad will help you get another car. You’ll own many cars throughout life.”  The patrolman smiled to himself for he was quite sure that he knew what the young man was thinking at that moment: “Yes, but it won’t be the same as ‘my special’ red hot sports car.”

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

The Saga of the Talking Tree

Daily Prompt: Freedom of Facebook

Facebook has recently come under attack for failing to enforce its own guidelines on hate speech and violent imagery. Is it a website’s job to moderate the content users post, or should users have freedom to say what they want? Is there a happy medium? If so, how would you structure it?

As a Facebook member and user who enjoys many things about Facebook and despises many as well, I offer limited analysis. I will share the same advice my Dad gave to me in regard to participating in things some might question: “Be as smart as cows. Eat the hay and spit out the briers.”

With that I now give you my observations and lesson of another social meeting site:

The Saga of the Talking Tree

Tree

Tree (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

In the middle of an open lot
The Talking Tree stood tall and proud
The gathering place in the center of a little rural town

Down one side ran unused tracks
Calm city streets around the other three
Short grass everywhere except right under the tree

The name came from the local moms
who loved to sit and chat in the tree’s shade
Sharing life as their children ran, laughed and played

Soon others began to come and sit
Many joined the conversation
Decency lasted for a while, then came verbal stagnation

Mothers did not want their children to hear
Many things that were then being said
Ladies and gentlemen also chose to go elsewhere instead

In time the tree became a troubled spot
A site of nefarious deeds and vulgar words
Authorities were asked to act lest things grow so much worse

The tree and the grass remain there so alone
No one now wants to return
Reputation is hard to reclaim once it’s sullied and burned

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

A Happy Poet?

Pensive

Pensive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a poet how can I be as history’s best
I may have too much joy
I’ve moved on from life’s toughest tests
I’m living in the moment
No sad respite that keeps me down
No lingering melancholy
Except for pains from aging now
I remain carefree and jolly
Pensive tones are hard to invoke
When happiness rules my days
I remember the times my heart hurt so
‘Twas easy then to turn a sad phrase
But I’ll keep my joy; others may lament sad sorrows and woe
I’ve learned life is short; to enjoy requires some letting go

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

You Just Had To Go There, Didn’t You?

Daily Prompt: Say Your Name

Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

Donald Duck as he first appeared in The Wise L...

Donald Duck as he first appeared in The Wise Little Hen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You just had to go there, didn’t you? It was just too tempting, huh? You couldn’t leave it alone. You…you knew….somehow you knew. Somehow you knew that ‘the name’ is a sore spot with some of us.

Some wear the names of relatives or great people in history. Me? Although not named for him, I share the first name, Donald, with one of the largest narcissistic megalomaniacs in modern history, Donald Trump. How would feel if the first thing people did upon hearing your name was to look up to check out your hairstyle? Or, wouldn’t you love it, if upon hearing your name many said, “Quack, quack?” Donald Duck is the second most famous use of my great name. Thanks, Mr. Disney.

Oh, sure, some revel in the name that they wear with great pride. I have three brothers who are named after different family members. My oldest brother, James, is named for our Dad. Next is my older brother, George, who is named after not one but two grandfathers. Even my younger brother, Shelby, was named in honor of Mom’s closest brother. My first name, Donald, was chosen not by my parents but by older sisters who were enamored with stage and movie star Rex Harrison. They insisted on my middle name of Rex and chose my first name because they thought it ‘went well’ with Rex.

So there you have it. I’m named after someone famous after all, a greatly respected actor who was knighted for his great volume of work, Sir Rex Harrison. But you didn’t ask about the middle name now did you. You only wanted to know about the first. Thank you.

To be more serious let me say I do like my name, Donald. It means ‘world ruler or leader.’ My sisters did well after all.  I have had a few issues, however, with my name. Along with those already listed, I had to shorten my name to “Don” for the purposes of business years ago. Born and raised in the southeastern United States, I speak with a heavy southern drawl. In the early 1980’s I worked as production manager in a textile mill. Much of my business was conducted via telephone. Many times upon stating my name, “Donald”, in my beautiful slow southern dialect, I would be asked, “Ronald?” So came the truncating of my name to “Don.” I have been “Don” now for all purposes except business and legal purposes for thirty years.

I like “Don” possibly because it was my choice. Soon after shortening my name I also entered ministerial training. It has been easy for people to remember. Children as well as adults can easily remember and say my name. I am known as Mr. Don, Pastor Don, Brother Don, and now Papa Don. I have been teased by some friends calling me Don Juan, but no one now calls me “Duck” thinking themselves to be funny. And no one now feels compelled to check out my hair.

I am truly proud of my name now that I’m older. I proudly affix it to anything I create. I’m especially thankful that in our large family, of which I was ninth in birth order, that Mom and Dad didn’t resort as one large family did to giving numerical names. My Dad worked with a man whose actual first name was ‘Eleven.’ When my Dad asked how he came to have that name, the gentleman said, “I guess they just ran out of the names of relatives and friends by the time I came along. My mother was sick and they asked my father what name to put on the birth certificate and he said, ‘Just make it number Eleven.’”

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

A Memorial Day Tribute

President Truman attends Memorial Day ceremony...

President Truman attends Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and lays a wreath at the Tomb of the… – NARA – 199727 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soldiers bled
Great tears were shed
Oh, the price paid
Wreaths are laid

A nation remembers and celebrates
with solemnity and with joy
That’s the way we say, “Thanks!”
for our fallen girls and boys.

To the families who weep
our hearts are with you
Freedom is more sweet
because your heart is so bruised.

So instead of a dirge
we give a salute
And give thanks for all who died
for the Red, White and Blue.

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013