Jack Pepper quietly fiddled with the plastic tubing beneath his hospital gown and sighed. Throughout his seventy odd years he had led what most would call an unattached life with no regrets; until this very moment. The sight of watching urine bubbles move up and down the tube and disappearing into a yellow bag attached to his leg at Veteran’s Hospital Buffalo had him wondering what it would be like to have family who thought this was as bad as he did. Jack’s life was one of a revolving series of jobs, relationships and searching’s. A thin ruggedly looking salt and pepper bearded man who now found himself with bladder cancer. So, when his nickname was called out from across the room, he was not quite sure if he was hearing things or daydreaming. “Hey, Pepper Jack.  That you?” A raspy voice queried?” Only a select group of men had ever called him Pepper Jack, and that was eons ago. Jack did three tours of Vietnam and if he was honest about it, that is the place where he felt among family. He never belonged with or to anyone as he did that group of guys and despite his many attempts to understand and explain it, he never could. Looking up to acknowledge his name, Jack found the voice in a row of lounge chairs attached to Iv’s, several feet away. “Hey you old bastard. I knew it was you.” Replied the man in the chair. Jack smiled and responded, “Jefferson, how come every time I see you, the world is going to hell in a hand basket.” “Tell me about it. Just tell me about it.” Sitting there alone with an old friend Jack Pepper was Pepper Jack again and despite it all, began to feel much better.


The long row of shaded headstones mimicked an early morning muster of soldiers cued up for morning mess. The cemetery, an odd collection of spires, rounded caps and rectangulars of granite and stone befriended the once open field of maples ashes and elms. What trees not cleared to make way for the next of kin obviously were rooted in next of kin anyway. One might even with a bit of imagination hear the headstones chattering roll calls of dates time and specific calamites that had befallen those therein once the afternoon sun had warmed the stones up a bit. Except maybe about the stone of Sarah Floyd; long gone but not interned. As the date of birth demarcated; Sarah’s birth was noted as November twenty, eighteen sixty. Death however never noted. Her stone erected beside what appears to be that of her late husband who is posthumously professed as, “loving father and husband, sadly missed and not forgotten.” To a modern-day Sherlock then surely a mystery is a foot? Records in the dusty basement of a local courthouse expound the fact Sarah left this earthly community on the evening of September sixth as a wave of cholera decimated the town.  Perhaps her remains had been dispensed to a mass grave neither marked nor noted? The kind often used to keep the diseased from infecting those still alive? Or maybe her final resting place was many miles away in a spot perchance she had chosen? If the stones indeed could talk would they tell a tale of an abused wife who did indeed find love after the tyrant and perpetrator of her abuse had passed? Eventually finding her resting peace by the side of a man never aware of Mr. Floyd? Indeed, if the stones could talk or just whisper.

My wallet is full of spies; they follow me wherever I go. Credit cards, debit cards, grocery store cards, sporting equipment cards all chanting away in a cacophony of informational bliss impressing companies near and far regarding details of my whereabouts and purchase’s. They spill their guts without the slightest hint of coercion. Just today when I bought donuts and coffee while unbeknownst to me as I slid my debit card they began chatting away like a bunch of five-year-old’s in Santa’s lap! First, they told the bank I was alive or at least someone posing as me was; using the card. Then they told the store adding up how many doughnuts they sell not just what I was buying but that I was a regular customer and to offer me a discount! On the plus side I think that helps them to have my favorite jelly filled on stock but more then likely because they know the next time I slide my card I also will need coffee. After that my blithering babbling bits of plastic enabled a credit company two thousand miles away to figure my credit score and to select for me a new master-card that specifically offers gym membership; because there is an algorithm that says people who eat donuts surely are in need a gym! Oh, and they were long from being done chit-chatting away. My bank let the local merchant association know an active customer was shopping in town. As my day went on the gasoline station recorded the total number of gallons purchased and readjusted their gas order. My hair dresser had her inventory updated and my lunch debit alerted the restaurants suppliers another Reuben had been sold. I am sure they made no mention if I liked the sandwich or not.


Welcome to geos299 .. A site dedicated to telling a story in just 299 words. Not the easiest thing to do! I encourage all writers to try it. It's a great exercise in getting to the point! Please feel free to share my words and invite others to visit the site and the archives! All comments welcome! Geo
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April 2020

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