Friday, December 18, 2009

Truman Learns that Adults Sometimes Lie. A Harsh Reality Check.

Truman was the first to jump up to get the swine flu shot when the nurse arrived to administer the vaccine to Miss Maple’s 5th grade class at Confederacy Elementary in Cloverdale. He wasn't afraid like the other kids because he was told the Swine Flu shot wouldn’t hurt, and he trusted his mother and teacher. He also wanted to impress Lucy Olpin with his bravery. Lucy was his girlfriend of two days, which was a new record for Truman. Truman works hard at getting noticed by the 'hot' girls in the class. He courted Lucy for three months by sending notes, leaving little gifts in her desk, and downright giving her money before she agreed to 'go' with him.

“Come on everyone. My mom says the shot won’t hurt,” he said to his classmates, many of whom were still in their seats - reluctant to willingly allow someone to poke a needle into their arm. Lucy sat in her desk admiring her new boyfriend. His bravery easily compensated his moderate to average looks. She glanced at her friends. They looked jealously at her, envious of her good fortune to land someone like Truman.

“I don’t like shots,” Loopy Langford said from under his desk.
“Loopy’s right,” said Carrot Top from the back of the room. He was perched in the open window, ready to jump out to the playground below. Miss Maple approached Carrot cautiously, urging him to get back to his seat.
“The shot won't hurt,” she said. Carrot Top looked at her distrustfully. “Don't jump out the window. Stay calm and come sit down."
Carrot looked at his teacher. He remembered his depression when he saw he was in her class at the beginning of the school year. To date, things haven't gotten better. "Your friends don't want you to jump either,” she added in her condescending voice.

Carrot Top glanced across the room. Several of his classmates had the same idea as Loopy and hid under their desks. Others gazed blankly back at him, having switched their emotions off to succumb to the inevitable flu shot that awaited. They were too weak to resist the camp commandant's (Miss Maple) orders. A few, mostly girls, were nodding their heads up and down at the teacher’s suggestion. Billy Murphy urged him on by mouthing the word “jump”. Miss Maple crept closer and closer, her arm outstretched in a gesture of friendship and love - something Carrot knew was foreign to Miss Maple.

“We’re your friends Carrot Top,” she calmly said while waving her arm in the general direction of his classmates. A simulated smile cracked across her porcelain face, exposing her yellow, coffee stained teeth.
Billy Murphy snorted out, “Speak for yourself Miss.”
“Billy!” Miss Maple shot a dirty, crusty look in Billy’s direction. “100 lines after school.”
“Not if I don’t jump first,” Billy answered back sarcastically. Billy slumped down in his chair and stared straight ahead. He’d lost interest in Carrot Top’s attention getting stunt.
“Carrot, its just a swine flu shot. Everyone is getting them. It won’t hurt a bit,” Miss Maple's blood pressure rose as Carrot scooted further through the windowsill. In her 40 years of teaching no student ever successfully escaped her classroom and Carrot wasn't about to upset her unblemished record.

“He’s going to jump!” Penny Packer screamed. The sudden shock of Penny’s scream nearly sent Carrot plummeting out the window and to the playground three feet below.
Billy raised his hand to offer a solution. “Can I push him out and get this over with?”
Miss Maple shot back by adding 200 more lines to his 100. Billy slumped further down in his chair and started blowing spit bubbles through his lips.

“Carrot, look at Truman - already up front ready to get the shot. You trust Truman don’t you?”
“Yes,” Carrot answered. Carrot and Truman were best friends. Miss Maple knew that and used that knowledge for leverage. A skill fined tuned over her several decades of tormenting children.
“Truman, are you scared to get the shot?”
”No Miss. Like I said. My Mom said not to be afraid because it wouldn’t hurt a bit.” Truman unbuttoned his shirt, pulled half of it down to reveal his arm and waited.

Carrot froze along with the rest of the class. All eyes were on Truman. Even Billy sat up, knowing if the nurse missed and shot him in a vein there would be blood, lots of blood, and he wasn’t about to miss that. Loopy crawled out from under his desk. The squeamish in the class covered their eyes. Alice Tinker put her head down on her desk remembering her tendency to faint when exposed to disturbing images.

The nurse swabbed Truman’s arm. Truman’s smile straighted out with the smell of alcohol. The nurse produced the needle, uncapped it and started for the boy’s upper arm. Billy licked his lips. Loopy went back under his desk. Alice blanked out. Penny stifled a scream with both hands. Miss Maple started praying, hoping her lie about the shot not hurting wouldn’t be exposed.

Truman watched the needle advance. He looked at the nurse's face. Her tongue protruded a few centimeters from her closed lips as she lined the shot up before striking. She looked like she was trying to thread a needle. Her concentration frightened Truman. He felt ice water pump through his veins as the needle grew closer and closer.
"Now this won't hurt a bit," she said with subdued pleasure. Truman panicked.
“No I don’t wan...........” Truman started to say. The needle found its mark. The nurse pushed it in with full force.
“Awesome!,” Billy shouted. “Here comes the blood.”
Something happened inside Truman. The shot did hurt. His mother lied. His teacher lied. “Do adult’s lie?” he wondered. An explosion of grief and pain blasted out from his lungs, filling the room with a scream only a young child can produce. Miss Maple covered her ears with both hands. The nurse worked quickly to cover the puncture with a band aid. Billy stood on his desk to see the blood.

“I’m outta here!” Carrot shouted and leaped out the window into the void. He was quickly followed by nearly everyone else in the class. Miss Maple watched helplessly while all 30 of her students, except Billy, Alice and Truman jumped out the windows. They ran, all of them ran for the playground’s edge.

It was a bad day at Confederacy Elementary School in Cloverdale.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bessie Benton, KiddieCandid's First Customer

KiddieCandids is Cloverdale’s first professional photography studio. It opened yesterday in a converted Winnebago Camper Trailor parked near the south exit of the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. Paul Bloomer is the owner. Many local residents know Paul because of his years of work as the one and only photographer for the local newspaper, the Confederacy Times.

Paul Bloomer Stands Ready to Capture Your Candid Shot.

Paul retired last month from the newspaper. He spent his first three weeks of retirement sitting at home watching his wife. She kicked him outside when she'd had enough of his moaning about being 'majestically bored'. His forth week of retirement found him taking long walks. Those long walks gave him time to take an inventory of his life. Depression followed the inventory. He eventually came to the conclusion the only thing left for him in life was a career in alcoholism. Then one day a friend asked him to take pictures at his grandson’s 10th birthday party. He accepted the offer. For one day he had a reason to get out of bed. That very day Paul Bloomer fell back in love with photography.

KiddieCandids, Cloverdale's First Professional Photography Studio

During the party Paul reconnected with his camera and found a new reason to live. The next day Paul was at his computer writing a business plan. With his wife’s support, he took out a small business loan, bought a used Winnebago trailer he found online, scoured the Salvation Army Thrift Store for costumes and props and opened KiddieCandids just in time to cash in on the holiday portrait market. Luckily Paul is a good friend of the Piggly Wiggly’s manager. By pulling in a few favors he got exclusive rights to the parking lot.

The Bentons were Paul’s first customers. They knocked on the Winnebagoe’s outside door shortly after 9:00 A.M. The sat at the kitchen table and looked over the different Christmas Photo Packages before deciding on the least expensive single shot with one prop for $9.95. Little Bessie Benton was put on the bed with the Santa Hat. Ten minutes later Paul captured his first masterpiece.

KiddieCandids is open every day from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. You can find it on the south end of Piggly Wiggly’s parking lot. Just look for the Winnebago. If the temperature isn’t too cold you’ll find Paul sitting outside on a lawn chair bundled up in his green parka with a cup of hot coffee and a smile.

Morning Funnys From The Confederacy News

Santa has a problem with today's contemporary homes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cloverdale Weekend Television. Counting Down to Christmas. Holiday Music

Tonight on Cloverdale Weekend Television. International Christmas Music featuring the St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig Germany.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cloverdale's Religions Unite for Christmas Giving

Cloverdale’s Churches are united in an effort to ensure all villagers have a happy Christmas. The Baptist's Lady's Guild are sponsoring the food drive and urging their members into action. Our good lady Baptists are going door to door collecting food to fill the village’s food bank kept at the Busy Bee Storage Facility on Highway One. The food drive is an excellent opportunity to clean our your pantry by giving the Baptists the food you just bought last week at the Piggly Wiggly. You'll also be delighted to know the Baptist will testify to you in an effort to reclaim your soul from the fires of Hades while you rummage through your food reserves. So, in an effort to save your ears, take the following advice. Fill their plastic bag with canned goods. The women find it difficult to hold a heavy plastic grocery bag while reading to you from the Bible. This encourages them to be brief in the scripture reading thus leaving you to your sinful ways for another year.

Members of St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church opened the church’s school as an emergency shelter for any passing traveller needing shelter or assistance during the harsh winter months. The shelter is administered by the Sisters of Ever Increasing Hope. As you read before, he Baptists use the food drive as a way to bring the lost to Christ. The Nuns, not wanting to be short on the soul count, use the shelter as a way of ensuring your place in heaven. Its been rumored that during the night the nuns organize the baptisms of the non Catholic. Considering a Catholic baptism consists of water dropped over the forehead by a priest accompanied by the Baptismal prayer, the process has been easy. The traveler sleeps peacefully while getting secretly baptised.
"If the Mormons baptize the dead, then we can baptised the sleeping," said the Reverend Mother when I asked her about this unorthodox practice. Of course I was sworn to secrecy so I'll leave you to keep this one locked away in your vault of never to be discussed secrets. Just exercise caution when seeking shelter at St. Batholomew's.

Members of the local Lutheran congregation organized the village’s Secret Santa program. Every gift has a matching gift kept at the church. Retrieving your full Christmas will therefore require a visit to the Pastor's office on Christmas Day. Members of the Seventh Day Adventists are the sponsors of Shop with a Constable Program for disadvantaged youth. No shopping on Saturday's though, that's the Sabbath Day to an Adventist.

Cloverdale’s Methodists and Anglicans are collecting money through the local banks for the Home for the Holiday’s Program - helping the less fortunate unite with their families by giving them train and bus ticket vouchers. There are no strings attached to receiving the travel vouchers. Cloverdale's Methodist and Anglican churches think of themselves as the Country Clubs of the faithful. The down and out might feel uncomfortable attending services with the village's upper crust.

Cloverdale’s Mormons joined forces with the local Salvation Army to raise money for the needy through the Red Kettle Drive. Salvationists and Mormons take turns manning the Army’s Red Kettles throughout the village. You’ll find members of both congregations ringing bells and collecting donations at the following locations:

  • The Piggly Wiggly and Red Owl grocery stores.
  • Donaldson’s Department Store
  • The Hairy Lemon Pub
  • The Kicking Donkey Pub
  • The Train Station
  • The Post Office.

In the picture above you see Sister Stevens, the local Mormon Relief Society President, ringing the bell and collecting donations in her Red Kettle outside Donaldson’s Department Store. Her Kettles collect more money than every else's. She has no inhibitions and has no problem putting herself between exiting shoppers and their cars. She has even been know to place the Kettle right behind the luxury cars and SUVs in the parking lot, forcing a donation before their owners can back out. To thank them for their donation, Sister Stevens will stop all other cars so they can back out and exit without delay. It's just her way of offer that 'extra holiday touch'. Sister Stevens knows nearly everyone in Cloverdale because of her position as head nurse in Cloverdale’s Medical Clinic.

There is another reason Sister Stevens is so successful at getting her kettle's filled faster than anyone else's. She is a loud talker and likes to discuss people's medical conditions. Its her way of giving you a free, parking lot, follow up exam - just to see how you're getting along.
Now, this verbal intrusion into your private life can be handled one of two ways. You can steer clear of Sister Stevens and her Red Kettle, only to have her shout you down from across the parking lot, sharing your ruptured hernia or lose bowels with the whole village, or when you exit your car, wave at her, and WALK STRAIGHT TO HER. She will wait to talk to you until you get to the Kettle. Of course, while you discuss your 'issues', a donation into the bucket will be expected. To make sure you do, Sister Stevens continues to ring the bell while you talk until your donation is properly inserted through the slits.

This uniting of religions is one way our village of the bewildered ensures everyone in Cloverdale has a warm, loving Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Everlasting Hope Funeral Home and Taxidermy

The Everlasting Hope Funeral Home and Taxidermy sits across the street from the Nearly There Rest Home for the Elderly and Infirmed in Cloverdale. The Mortimers opened Everlasting Hope in 1973 and are proud to be the villages only full service mortuary and taxidermy. Bob and Gale Mortimer specialize in the ‘Nearly Perfect’ method of restoring your recently departed to a nearly life like state using a combination of creams, make up, and wood glue mixed with finely ground saw dust.
“My Henry hasn’t looked this good in years,” testified Madge Truby during her husband’s funeral last week.
April Newsome was so pleased at the funeral of her great aunt in November that she inquired if the ‘Nearly Perfect’ age reversal process could be used on the living.

Of course, this masking process has its drawbacks. The deceased’s skin cannot be touched once the application has set and moving the casket must be done delicately. No sudden jerks or tilts beyond 20 degrees.
“The application can and does crack something fierce,” Gale Mortimer told me during my inquiries for this post. “So to prevent an emergency closing of the casket during the viewing it is important that everyone be instructed to look and not touch.”

The Mortimers have signs posted throughout the Home warning people not to touch the deceased. Non reading children are given a coloring book and box of 8 Crayolas when the walk in the door. The first two pages of the coloring book depict a dainty young girl being hoisted up by her father to see the deceased in a casket. The second page focuses on the girl’s look of horror after touching the face of the ‘dead and gone‘ (as the Mortimers call their deceased clients). The ‘dead and gone’s‘ face has multiple cracks radiating out from where the girl’s finger touched the cheek. The detached nose lying to next to the left ear is a nice touch. The artist did an amazing good job recreating that same look you get by tapping a hard boiled egg on a counter top before peeling away the shell. The rest of the coloring book show simple pictures of the Funeral Home, caskets and nearby local cemeteries.

The Mortimers spent Saturday decorating the funeral home for the holidays. “Christmas funerals are hard enough on a family,” Bob said while stringing the lights around the front window and setting up the plastic snowman. “Anything we can do to brighten the mood is appreciated.”

”Not to mention the joy our display gives the poor dears across the street at the Nearly There Rest Home," Gale added. "They see our front window from their day room. Here, take a look.”
She led me to the window and pointed across the street. I could see the large plate glass window of the Nearly There's Day Room. I could see several residents sitting in their wheel chairs. Some were asleep. Others were looking out in our direction. Gale waved. The alert ones waved back.
“Bess their hearts,” she said. “They know they’ll be ours soon enough, so I like to establish a relationship with them before its their time, you understand.” I nooded.

“Gale bakes cookies for them weekly, don’t you sweetheart?” Bob chimed in while bending over to plug in the snowman.
“I do. I do,” Gale replied modestly. “A little added service for the ones that have burial contracts with us and for those that don't.”
“That’s very generous of you to share with non customers,” I said.
“Well, what can one do? You can’t bring a plate of cookies and not offer one to everybody? It just wouldn’t be neighborly. Besides, maybe one of my Chocolate Chunk Delights may swing an undecided our way. It’s been known to happen.”
“Right you are,” Bob said while standing back to admire his Christmas window decorations.

“Look here,” Bob said pointing back out the window.
“Well I declare,” Gale said in astonishment.
The lighting of the window display caused a commotion with the elderly spectators. I saw many of them celebrating by swinging their canes in the air. One older gentleman was spinning doughnuts with his wheelchair. Orderlies moved quickly to restore order by dispensing tranquilizers.

“You see how they enjoy the little extras we provide,” Gale said as she lovingly clutched the arm of her husband.

Before leaving I spent a few more minutes with the Mortimers looking at their other seasonal options available to those that pass on during the holidays. On my walk home I passed the Nearly There's large day room window. The residents were secure in their wheelchairs - looking heavily medicated. They’d had enough excitement for one day.
A kindly old woman waved at me as an orderly gave her a pill. I laughed the rest of the way home after seeing her spit it out when he walked away.