Category Archives: Published Short Stories

The Best Men

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The Best Men

The best men know spear chucking, archery, running swiftly, kill the mammoth are natural, and when accompanied by the fine arts of roasting, and saucing, tilling and wenching are as important! …… These are good,…… these are good and make the whole man. A kerchief around the neck seasoned with sweat, tanned crown of thinning silver hair…… some leather and a glint in his eye ……….. Aye! ….I’m almost out of bourbon….. so a bit of shopping too! Aye…..LOL, LOL
Good Friday Evening to you.

Ronald Douglas Drobeck

The Rest

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THE REST

This summer, on my way home from visiting all of my good friends between Tucson and the far corners of South Dakota, I stopped at a rest stop on I-25, above Trinidad, Colorado. It was 8:30 at night, terribly windy with heavy driving rain, and I was tired.

Not wanting to do the expense and formality of a rent, a room, turning on the TV and falling asleep, I had prepared a space in the back of the Trail Blazer for one man to stretch out on a camping cushion, with a pillow, and a warm blanket, in the valley between all of my stuff.

After having been cooped up in a house, doing housework, 3 Chihuahua’s and all the stuff going on in the world for a couple of years, I lay down in that space with the rain tapping on the roof, safe, the wind rocking my nest, and slept the sleep of a Weary Traveler for the next six hours. What a great feeling.

Then, trained as I am, I poured myself back into the driver’s seat, fueled up at the first place I found, and took myself home, refreshed and excited without question.

The rest, so hard to explain.

My Ism’s

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Crooked people tend to collide more often because they can’t go straight!

Like soldiers advancing into battle, not knowing if they were going to come out of this one alive, we have to take the chance that the mass of good will overcome the mass of bad. There are NO guarantees! …. Fortunately, there is a weakness in bad that bad can’t overcome, which gives us the edge in the end. Unfortunately, we are forced  to do the battle. rdd 07/29/16 VOTE

Welcome to me!

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To Whom it May Concern:

I have been forgetting and misplacing things my whole life. I started walking into rooms and forgetting why I was there since I was sixteen. I’ve never been able to remember names even if I like you. I’ve gotten lost driving at night forever, and spell something correctly 5 times and then miss it once.
I can’t type as fast as I think so I miss words. I will lose a train of thought because a new one has jumped in the middle.
I think in pictures so seem to be a little slow sometimes. I have to interpret everything I see. Often times, when people are talking to me, something you said sends me on a mental movie adventure as my imagination takes over. (One of my favorite things to do).
Sometimes I have to refine my sentences to fit the people I am talking to, because I already know what you are going to say, or YOU won’t understand what I just said or am about to say. That causes me to look at you funny which you interpret as stupid.
SO, DON’T TELL ME IT’S BECAUSE I’M GETTING OLD!!!
I’ve been like this for frickin’-frack ever!
YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO ADJUST YOURSELF TO ME, or just wave hello as you keep going away. I will attempt to acknowledge that I saw your greeting if I’m on even the same planet. If I do not acknowledge, forgive me, for I may have been on another adventure. rdd

Prairie Spirit

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Prairie Spirit

Ronald Douglas Drobeck

 

One sunny day, while driving for the Big Stone Cheese Factory, I’d made my right turn off of Hwy 212 onto a gravel road somewhere below the Wilmot Whipple farm.

I picked up milk here and there until I had to downshift my way up a long gravel incline that eventually allowed me to overlook the great Whetstone Valley on my right.

As I began to gain speed again at the top of the hill, a girl with long black hair trailing behind her was galloping her ‘paint’, bareback, on the prairie grass covered hilltop to the right of me.

She appeared as if I was witnessing a flashback, a moving picture of this black haired girl riding over that rolling hill with the valley in the background. There was the hill green and the sky blue, the rocks and the prairie grass, a little haze off toward the eastern horizon, that black hair waving in time with the gallop, and the white and brown horse, all flashing past my little truck window frame.

In an instant, this vision of the prairie hill’s past burned into my mind, somewhere southeast of Sisseton, South Dakota.

If asked, I would say this was one of my favorite snapshot memories as I was taken purposely back in time for an instant.

Whimsy from a prairie spirit?

Yes, romantically my mind tells me it was. I won’t give that up.

At this writing, you are the first to know. I’ve kept it to myself until now.

Why do I feel that a prairie spirit ‘touched’ me?

There is more to the story!

This spirit and I may have made contact a few years before…… in another story, on another special day.

The Duck Suits

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The Duck Suits

So, some brilliant chicken suits in Fowl City have decided to have a discussion about the police profiling of ducks who may be carrying and spreading ‘foot and beak’ disease in their droppings.
It was decided that even though it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck on a Chickentown street, it cannot be stopped or questioned until after it ‘unloaded’ on a Chickentown sidewalk in plain view of everybody.

All Chickentown leaders have to follow the new mandated protocols commanding that, until damage is done, and foot and beak disease has spread throughout the area known as Chickentown, the police must ‘ignore’ all ducks.

In another vote, it was decided that it is still lawful for Chickentown cops to stop and question suspicious crowing and clucking chicken residents for non-licensed laying!

Meanwhile, down at the Duck Suit Store, and knowing that ducks can not be stopped, questioned, or ‘harassed’, …… duck suit sales are booming!

 

 

They Day I Saved the Army

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The Day I Saved the Army

My son’s boot camp graduation somewhere in the southeast.  After the graduation ceremonies at Army boot camp, the parents of the recruits and the recruits were invited to eat lunch in a room that had a folding pocket door room divider.

So many people showed up for this graduation that they had to open this wall so more people could hear the commanding officer welcome everyone, have a short prayer, and eat hastily prepared chicken.  The General at the podium, realizing the door needed to be opened, ordered the officer standing next to him to have that door opened. That officer told the  lower ranking officer next to him who ordered the sergeant standing next to him, who ordered a another one and on down the line.

Anyway, it went down through maybe 7 ranks. Finally, the last man corporal walked over and turned the locking handle and then went to the wall to switch the switch that electrically started moving the folding doors toward the pocket.  A couple of the folding doors went in to the pocket on queue and then the doors would stop moving, would rattle like a stopping train and then jam. The corporal would move the switch to ‘open’ the two doors would come out of the pocket, the wall would be made and he’d switch to ‘close’ again. The same thing would happen, two doors in, it would make that sound and then jam.

This happened several times while everybody was watching, including the General with all of his little duckies heads turned to the right staring at that door and the little corporal switch switcher.

After several minutes of people trying to command this wall into the pocket, I pulled back my chair, walked over to a joint that I could see was jammed opposite of the way it needed to be.  I motioned to the kid to hit that switch, two doors went in and I banged the contrary joint in the correct direction with the side of my fist just before it was required to bend.

There was a steady hum and movement as each panel slowly followed the other into their little pocket as designed.

I very business like, calmly walked back to my seat and sat back down next to my son to enjoy that terrible chicken more than anyone else in the place as the General spoke his piece.

Nobody knew……………………I was X-Navy!

True story! It’s one of those medals I awarded myself that only Jesse and I can see, tucked into the vapors of unwritten history……….until now!

 

Grandma’s Upright Grand (a Christmas story)

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It was late afternoon by the time we left the house, the Rambler station wagon packed with suitcases, bedding, gifts, and boxes of food. My Dad could not close his business until the last customer left his store at five, so he’d packed as much as he could the night before.

Mom finished wrapping gifts and baking during the day so as to be ready when Dad pulled into the driveway at five-thirty. With the sun sinking fast, we were ready and helped carry everything out to the rear of the station wagon. Dad would fill what few spaces were left and off we’d go.

With Dad driving and mom in the front seat, we three kids, in full winter gear, including mittens, were squeezed into the back seat, tight. There were no complaints. As a matter of fact, it was exceptionally quiet. We’d done this before and were about to do it again.

We were on our way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas!

Their house was on a farm near a little town that only had one bright streetlight at night. The town was about three and a half hours away from our house in the city. As long as it was still daylight, there would be constant scenery change going past the Rambler side window. A few miles and dad would turn on to a highway. We could go faster on the highway so what we saw would change faster. Soon there would be miles and miles of snow covered farmland. As the sky turned black, little lights would pop up here and there, and then go past.

th405J2HP1As it started to snow, the pop up lights out of the side window were getting harder to see and had the illusion they had little halos around them. I heard Dad tell Mom that it was about thirty degrees out, and the road was turning white. He could still see tracks from a car that was somewhere ahead of them so, we were still all right. Driving in the snow was a skill you just developed in this part of the country.

When we met a car coming from the opposite direction, its headlights made the snow look as if it was going sideways. The sideways snow would try to hypnotize you and then suddenly disappear as the car passed. The dark, the sideways snow, the hum of the engine and the warmth of all those clothes made us very sleepy. Soon, it made the three and a half hour trip seem like one hour. We only woke up when Dad turned right on to the little towns “one light” main street.

Through the town and just a little bit more, we would turn right again. It was the driveway to Grandma and Grandpa’s. It wasn’t very far and just over a little hill.

There it was. A place of special magic; where snow covered tree limbs overhung the driveway and blinking multi-colored lights surround the frost outlined windowpanes. I could see into the house because the shades were up. There were two faces, one high, one low, watching for us.

The car stopped. I don’t know why but everyone just sat for a moment. It was very quiet outside except for a little hiss caused by snowflakes hitting the roof of our car. The flashing Christmas lights, gentle snow falling, lack of motion, and silence was Christmas card like, peaceful and very relaxing.

Out from the back porch door poured a grinning Grandpa and Grandma. They were running a Grandma and Grandpa kind of run, trying not to fall on the fresh snow. They didn’t even have coats on and were breathing out steam!

Grandpa opened the back door on my brother’s side and pulled him right out of the car. As I watched with mouth open, my door opened and my cinnamon smelling Grandma had me. She squeezed me so hard, I couldn’t breathe. Our littlest brother in the middle was heading over the top to the front seat. Grandpa quickly caught him by the britches in mid-flight, and out the door he went. The problem was, he is so light, when he let go of the seat, it threw Grandpa off balance and down into the snow they went.

This brought Mom and Dad out of the car quickly. My other brother and I thought it was a game and piled on top. My mom screamed for us to get off. Her loud order scared us so much, we quickly got off Grandpa, who then rolled to a sitting position laughing!

Ok, so now we’re all out of the car! That was pretty much the end of peaceful relaxing.

Dad walked to the back of our station wagon and had just opened the fold down door, when another set of headlights turned in to the driveway. The bright lights blinded all of us for a moment. It pulled up right behind our Rambler, the doors flew open, and our cousins, from another city farther away than us, piled into the drive way.

There were four girls, and their Mom and Dad. I remembered them from last year. Even though they were girls, they knew how to run, sled, and throw snowballs. The sisters were all a little older than me. My Mom said they won all kinds of awards for poem writing and stuff like that. I didn’t know you were allowed to be good at both at the same time!

Everything got unpacked and brought into the house. This farm house had raised five kids in its time. Grandma and Grandpa had worked hard to provide for their family, and the land had been good to them. The house had plenty of room for everyone to be comfortable and we all spread out to our assigned places.

My brothers and I were in one of the “upstairs bedrooms”. The only way to get to those bedrooms was up a wide, worn, oak stairway. There were what they called “registers” in the floor of each second story room, which allowed a little heat to float up from the first floor rooms. My Dad told me that sometimes, it got so cold in his bedroom that the drinking water on his light stand would freeze during the night. He remembers pulling his clothes into bed with him to warm them before he would put them on to go to school. He also told me, with a wink, he did not waste much time in the bathroom.

I only mentioned the stairway so I could tell you about coming down it. After unpacking, I came down that stairway that emptied into the family living room. One of my favorite memories occupied that room.

There stood GRANDMA’S UPRIGHT GRAND. It was one of her prized possessions. It was here, flashing lights, trees, presents, and troubles were all forgotten, and magic would begin. The family and their families would gather around on Christmas Eve, and Grandma would make music come out of that piano. Her fingers would bend, and her arms would move back and forth. She would read the dots in that music book and everyone would read the words and sing Christmas songs. I couldn’t read, but I’d hum until it came to a part I knew. Nobody cared. That was good enough for them.

At some point, Grandpa opened a beat up black case and pulled out his fiddle. The music seemed to liven up when his fiddle started to sing. Although Grandpa’s fingers didn’t move real fast anymore, the expression on his face made it feel like the tempo picked up.

Christmas Eve was a day of snowballs, sledding, sliding, feeding the animals still left on the farm, and eating. The music was the Grande Finale of a long day. The traditional last song of the Grand Finale in this house was Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. My favorite part was about the Star. It was something about “how still we see thee light!”

I was pretty young when I was told about “The Star”. I can’t remember when it was, but a little boys imagination is a wonderful thing.

That night, after the singing was over and everyone went to bed, I thought I heard something outside. I went to my “upstairs” bedroom window to see if I could catch Santa Clause delivering presents. Catching Santa flying is a little boy priority and for a moment, I thought I had him. To my surprise, it was not the sleigh and reindeer I saw.

Through the floating snow, I saw a single bright light with a halo around it. I knew I was looking at “Thee Star”.

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“Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee light!”

Yes, I had it wrong. It should have been “how still we see thee lie!” I really thought they were singing “how still we see thee light!”

It’s been many years since the trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s. I, of course, learned to read music and became a musician, a writer and many other things yet still, hang on to pieces of my warmest childhood memories as most people do.

I still sing that line the way I originally thought it was, and I still walk out on the porch on Christmas Eve, wherever I am, to see if I can see “thee light” and capture a small piece of the magic around “Grandma’s Upright Grand“!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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