At least that is the firm assertion of the protagonist in this New Year's fiction short story.
She ended up alone on a mountain with two men. One of them was evil. One was a hero.
Would she choose the right one to save her?
And Kaitlyn Mae, now four years old and knowing everything, celebrates her 4th Christmas. In this post, pics of the tot as she models Grandmother's fine homemade creations.
Pic of the Day
A New Year's Eve Double Date
I was through with men; drop dead, honest-to-God, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die, through with men. I still liked men, mind you....very much. I still had some hope that there might be a man out there for me. But for New Year's Eve, 1994, and as a result of my resolution for 1995-I was definitely through with men.
It was time to reconnoiter, I had decided, as regards the men issue. In 1995, I had resolved, I was definitely going to seriously scrutinize that sign over my head that said "Weirdos stop here." For the three semi-serious relationships that I had with the males of my species in 1994 all ended up as disasters to have me examining my judgement of people, men in particular.
So when my friend Danielle called me about ten days before New Year's Eve and invited me to her drop-dead, neato New Year's party in a ski cabin located on a mountain near Aspen, I accepted eagerly, with no compunction for my total lack of any sort of date object. I was through with men and since this party would start in one year and end in the year of my resolution, I figured this was the perfect occasion to begin to be through with men. I accepted Danielle's kind offer, told her I would be dateless, then explained that I was through with men.
Danielle chuckled and informed me she would be taking bets on how long this resolution would last.
"Maybe I'll get all the stews to start up a little pool to see how long Marianne Josephine Grabinski will remain through with men," my friend and stewardess on the same airline with which I labored, said.
"You just go right on and do that, because I will be flying out to your mountain for a New Year's party followed by a day of skiing, unfettered and unencumbered by any man. And you know what" I continued, "I simply do not care and am not worried about it. No man is sure better that the ones I have been getting lately. You'll see.....this lady is through with men."
Danielle was still chuckling as she hung up the phone. But I vowed that she would see. Marianne Josephine Grabinski was through with men, at least for one year. Little did I know that this New Year's eve party would be the occasion that I would finally meet the man of my dreams. And I would have TWO to chose from.
"So, I heard you were going to Danielle's little party," Eileen said in that gossipy way of the female. "I also heard," Eileen said, as she poured more coffee for the pilots, "that you were through with men. Could it possibly be?"
I busily arranged the Danish on the platters and pretended to be nonchalant. "You heard right, Eileen my good buddy. I am through with men. I can't believe you are even surprised. Or have you forgotten my last boyfriend, the charismatic Al, who stole everyone's wallet while pretending to be a magician. Or let's not forget the wonderful Ray, the drug dealer. Yup...this lady ain't bothering with any male type of beings until she figures out what is going wrong."
Eileen giggled, wished me luck, and carried the coffee to the pilots. I followed behind with my tray of Danish.
I was quite sure that Eileen remembered my former boyfriends, not to mention the pilot who ended up to be very married and very determined to stay that way.
New Year's eve, as well as New Year's day, were the happening holidays for airline personnel. While almost everyone in America had somewhere to go on Thanksgiving and Christmas, there was very little travel on the New Year's holidays. Many airline personnel postponed their Christmases until the New Year span, just to be insured of being with their families. For myself, I intended to hop a flight to Colorado the day before New Year's Eve, spend a quiet evening at the airline hotel, then have a rollicking New Year's Eve followed by a day of shushing down what Danielle assured me was a wonderful slope. When my co-workers, many of whom would be in attendance at Danielle's party, saw me without a man, then they would believe. Marianne Josephine Grabinski was through with men.
I couldn't believe my eyes when the hotel van dropped me off at the base of the mountain on which sat the little ski lodge that Danielle had obtained from a pilot for New Year's eve party use. The setting was spooky as all get out; a large mountain looming directly up from the curving road. What looked to be a rather ancient ski lift was rigged up, ostensibly to carry residents up the mountain to their lodges or to ski.
Danielle had given me instructions earlier in the day. "Just hop on a chair, push the button on the pole, and you will be delivered directly to the door of the lodge. When you hop off, push the button to stop it. It's the only way up."
I looked up at the mountain then surveyed the raggedy ski lift. This equipment had most definitely seen better days. I lugged my skis and pole to the lift chair adjacent to the button pole and pondered the wisdom of this trip.
"Hey, wait up!"
I heard a male voice call from somewhere, and turned to ascertain the source. A tall man was struggling up the little incline to the lift chair, dragging skis and poles behind him.
"I guess you are going up the mountain to the party?" the voice's owner said, huffing and puffing from his recent jog.
The fellow required some serious scrutiny.
He was a little over 6' tall, I judged. A shock of wheat-colored hair fell to completely cover one eye . His other eye was a very deep brown. Since I was through with men, I cut my appraisal short.
This guy, I thought, was no doubt an axe murderer and here I was at the base of this spooky mountain about to ride up with him on a rusty ski lift to some lodge in the sky.
There was, however, just he and I, and I had to consider my options.
"I wonder where all the other party people are?" I asked my breathless buddy. "Seems to me there should be other people here ready to go up."
"Beats me. I'm a co-pilot with National airlines, and I didn't know about the party until this morning. Caught the first flight from Philadelphia to get here. But, hey, this must be the right place cause you and I are here, right?"
Both of us studied the lift chair, then decided to jump on. Only I heard yet another male voice in the distance.
"Wait up!" the voice shouted.
Walking up the incline was yet another handsome male, calling for me to wait.
This particular fellow was wearing no ski apparel and carried no poles or skis.
"Wear you party clothes under your ski gear. And bring your poles and skis!" Danielle had exclaimed during her instructions. "Cause we will be sleeping over in the lodge then spend the next day...skiing!"
"You going to the New Year's party?" my Philadelphian called to the man loping up the slope. He wore a pair of jeans, a button-down shirt covered with a burgundy sweater, and a pair of tennis shoes. I could have smacked my city of brotherly love friend. Suppose this guy was the axe murderer?
The fellow finally reached the chair lift and introduced himself as Jack Roberts. My Philadelphia friend, who had introduced himself as Chad Rubinski, asked Mr. Roberts just where were his skis
"I don't ski, man," the Roberts fellow answered. Again, it was incumbent upon me to perform some serious female scrutiny. He was also over 6' tall, about 35 years old, I estimated. His hair was cropped close to his head in the manner of the then popular George Clooney of ER. He certainly had a set of interesting eyes.
They were cobalt blue and sparkled like...well like George Clooney's of ER. His chin was very square, resolute, I thought.
"I just came for the party. No skiing for me."
I was a little annoyed with Danielle, who did not warn me of this spooky setup. And where were the other people? Last I heard, there were over forty people expected. It was 9 o'clock, the time Danielle said to head up on the lift. Then again, I reasoned, maybe they will arrive in dribs and drabs, .just as had my two male companions. If we waited much longer, more would probably show.
Our trio observed the lift chair, and figured three of us could ride up together. If Jack had ski gear with him, we would not have fit. As it was, I felt better riding up with the two of them.
Chad reached over to push the button. The three of us had snuggled, a bit tightly I thought, into the lift chair. We held our breath that after the effort the thing wouldn't work. The lift began to move. Not that it was the safest transport in the world. The thing creaked and wheezed and bounced as it struggled up the mountain. I almost decided to jump off while I could without death, when it stopped.
Chad, Jack and myself sat in the lift chair and surveyed the quiet mountain. There were no lights visible that would indicate cabins or lodges or any human life. We all looked down. We were almost a hundred feet in the air, Chad estimated. To jump, even with a snow cushion, would not be wise.
Jack reached inside his sweater and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He lit one up, and stretched his arm around the lift chair back directly behind me. He crossed his legs and shifted himself to comfort in his lift chair corner.
"Ain't this a fine mess," he said, exhaling a cloud of smoke. I figured a cigarette to be in order, and pulled out my own pack of smokes.
" Do you guys have to smoke?" Chad whined, pulling his head away from the smoke clouds.
Strike one against Chad, I thought. Doesn't like smokers.
"I don't know what to suggest here guys," Chad said, looking at the drop below and surveying the mountain in front. "We could just wait until someone else comes to get on the lift. Should be a crowd of people here soon, I would think."
It was obvious to me there wasn't any other choice. We couldn't jump. A pole, with spikes to climb down, was about fifty feet in front of us. In a life or death situation, I surmised, we could hang on the wire and go hand-over-hand to the pole and climb down to safety. It was dangerous though. The wire was covered with ice. We would just have to wait. I looked at my watch. It was ten after nine. There should have been loads of people about.
To make conversation, I thought I would quiz these fellows as to their occupations and hobbies. Chad I already knew to be a co-pilot with my own airline. I asked Jack what he did to earn a living. I figured there had to be an airline connection some how.
"I'm a mechanic, " Jack responded to my query. Ah, a mechanic. Airline mechanics make good money. And were stationed in one place. Good for families and wives. Although Chad, my co-pilot buddy made a handsome living too. He had a strike against him with the cigarettes already. Other than that, it was neck in neck.
" I wonder why nobody's here yet," Jack shouted in frustration.
Almost forty five minutes had passed since the lift stopped, and no one had showed up yet. The cold was getting serious, even with my ski clothes. Jack, I knew, had to be very cold. I had to admire his stamina. Not once did he complain.
Chad once again surveyed the surround and once again pronounced it hopeless.
Jack was getting to be positively jumpy. His lips were starting to turn a slight blue, and he was shivering.
"We are going to have to get help," he announced with a resolve that matched his chin.
I was impressed, very impressed. For by this time, I saw that as the case also. Another hour in that cold, I wasn’t sure we could make it. Jack definitely had a problem with his lack of warm clothes.
"I'm going to go hand-over-hand on the wire, get to the pole and climb down," Jack finally announced. "I'll get out to the road and flag down some help or I'll walk until I find help. You two just stay put. You should be okay for a while with your warm clothes."
Chad nodded solemnly, content to let Jack take the risk.
Jack climbed out of the chair lift, shaking the thing silly and scaring both me and the spineless Chad half to death. He managed to walk hand-over-hand over the icy wire and reached the pole safely. He placed his foot on the first spike on the pole and it held his weight safely. Slowly and carefully, Jack climbed down the pole. About five spikes down, a spike broke. Jack lost his grip and fell to the ground.
Other than a quick yelp of surprise, Chad and I did not hear another sound. Furiously we yelled to Jack on the ground below. He did not answer. Chad and I both leaned as far out of the chair as we could, beseeching an answer from Jack, or at least to see if he was all right. We could see nothing from our angle and through the wispy fog below.
"We have to help him, " I finally said.
"I know Marianne," Chad said quietly but made no move.
In desperation and fear, I reached right out and slapped the quiet Chad directly across the face.
"Listen to me! We have to get out of this chair. Jack is down there below, with a broken back or concussion. He needs help quick. And we have to get down sooner or later anyway...."
"I hear you Marianne," Chad answered in a monotone to my hysteria. "But I need to think this through."
I finally decided that I would get down off that thing myself. Chad, baby, I thought, of all the disgusting men I have encountered in this last disgusting year, you are the worst.
"Wait, Marianne," Chad grabbed me in my clumsy attempt to exit the lift. "It's not safe. How are you going to climb down the pole? You saw what happened to Jack. What on earth good would it to do for another one of us to get killed or seriously hurt? Hold on!" Chad shouted, then forced me back into the chair as I tried to exit upon hearing his stupid speech.
"I'm serious Marianne." Chad said through clenched teeth as he pinned me back down onto the chair, forcing me still with the full weight of his body. I stopped struggling. Please don't let me find out this guy is now some kind of rapist and will take advantage of me in this vulnerable position. Although it was so cold and the chair so wobbly I couldn't imagine any kind of lust thing going on in Chad's mind, much less rape on this swinging lift chair.
"Look," Chad began, as I sat up but remained still. "I have a plan. Listen. Our watches are wrong."
I straightened my ski jacket, then paused to consider. He was right! Colorado was two hours earlier in the time zone than from where Chad and I had come. It wasn't 10:25pm, as our watches indicated. It was 8:25pm. You'd think two airline people would have been more careful.
I said just this to Chad, who laughed along with me. He shook that shock of wheat hair out of his eyes, and I found myself gazing into two of the deepest and handsomest brown eyes I had seen in some time. Even Chad stopped his laughter with a thoughtful gaze into my own eyes. My stomach did some weird kind of flip-flop that had nothing to do with the fear I should have been feeling.
No! I pushed Mr. Chad away, firmly and with resolution. I was through. Through. And even if I wasn't, this Chad guy had already proven himself as unsuitable and without the bother of an awkward first date.
"But what about Jack?" I said, after Chad advised that the best thing to do was for us to wait.
"Here's the choice," Chad stated, "we try to get down to help Jack, whereby one of us falls, .just like Jack, and be of no help to him. Or we wait about twenty more minutes until someone shows up. I think it wise to wait."
Okay, so it made sense. This Chad guy still was a coward in my book, but his plan was sound. I would give it a half hour. After that, I told Chad, I was climbing down.
Exactly fifteen minutes later, the first guest arrived.
"Call the police!" Chad shouted as a man and a woman climbed up the incline, ostensibly to ride the lift to the party, only to find two people dangling on a broken chair lift. "Tell them to bring rescue equipment, and tell them that there may be an escaped prisoner badly injured. Make sure they check if there were any prison escapes recently."
I was so excited to see other humans, I almost didn't hear Chad's words. As they registered, I turned to look at him, my eyes filled with questions.
"Sssshhh," Chad commanded. The man and woman acknowledged Chad's instructions and ran back down the incline to seek help.
"I got suspicious of the guy when he put his arm around the back of the chair lift, " Chad was explaining to my mute and shocked self.
"His undershirt had prison numbers on it. When he shifted, I caught a glimpse of it where it stuck out from his shirt. It didn't register that they were prison numbers, just grey letters. At first I thought they were for laundry."
I was still quiet at Chad's explanations. Could we really have been on a ski lift with an escaped prisoner?
"Then I got to thinking why he didn't have any ski equipment. His explanation could have been right, but this with the prison numbers on the t-shirt, well. Then there was his haircut."
"Why didn't you say something?"
"First, I couldn't say anything while he was on the chair. Besides, I wasn't sure. It wasn't until he started to hand-walk the wire that I was fairly certain my suspicions were correct. I definitely saw a gun sticking out of his pants pocket."
"Well, why didn't you tell me then?" I asked in the ten minutes before help finally arrived.
"You were hysterical enough! If my first plan didn't work, and you insisted on climbing down, then I was going to tell you. I realized the time problem almost right away, but didn't want to say anything in front of this Jack guy. HE was operating under the right time, remember. Only he didn't know what time the party was to start. With us stuck with him on that ski lift, I figured it was best to have him believe people would be coming soon. I was quite glad when he decided to climb down, although I was pretty sure he would not send any kind of help. In fact, I don't think Jack is even down by that pole. I think he survived the fall and just took off."
The next few hours were chaos. The snow on that spooky mountain reflected the red, blue and yellow lights of the various rescue equipment and police cars.
They did find Jack, whose real name was Stanford Williams and was indeed, a recent escapee from nearby Waltherford prison. Mr. Williams did have a badly sprained ankle but had managed to hobble over to a nearby copse of woods. When our rescuers called the police as instructed by Chad and told them of Chad's suspicions that an escapee was nearby, the police came right up to the mountain. There had been a recent escape from the prison and the police were instantly alerted when our rescue call came through.
Danielle was beside herself over the incident and in tears over our possible danger. Although, she reminded both Chad and I, had we had the correct time we would not have met up with our prisoner friend, who just happened to consider the whole thing an opportunity for who could guess what.
"I don't know what he was planning," the crusty Colorado detective told Chad and I to our speculation. "Criminals don't reveal what they already did, much less what they plan to do. Most likely he was going to try and get some hostages, maybe even you two when you got up the mountain. Whatever was his plan, it wasn't a good one. The best thing that could have happened was that lift breaking."
We did have a little New Year's party that night, and managed to get it started a few minutes before midnight, Colorado time. At the stroke of midnight, I kissed the man who owned the deep brown eyes and who I had earlier thought to be a coward.
Chad pulled away, fumbled in his pocket, and pulled out a packet of mints. With a smile he stuck a mint in my mouth, then proceeded to kiss me again. We did things with that mint that I would have thought impossible.
I made a “new” New Year's resolution. I decided it was time for me to quit smoking.
Fiction doesn't do all that well on this site but I'm sticking to my guns. Besides, out there somewhere there might be a student of the scribe. And since I do teach a writing class, well below is a short story I wrote that employs one of the most difficult things a writer can do. Which is, specifically, to describe a smell in prose.
Okay, besides the would-be writing lesson, the story is appropriate because it's a New Year's story and if I do say so myself, quite clever.
For Hell might be very different than you'd expect
NEW YEARS IN HELL HERE
Time for some fiction. Carve out some lunch time to read this little Sci-Fi type tale called The Syndrome.
Which many of yon readers, I assert, are afflicted with right this minute.
Check in to find out your future.
It's not good.
THE SYNDROME HERE
It's fiction but this piece won many prizes and was featured on many web sites.
So I thought I'd post it on my own Blog.
For "The Fattest Prom Queen" is a compelling tale, filled with twists, turns and a surprising ending that will leave you in thought.
FATTEST PROM QUEEN HERE
Kaitlyn Mae’s Fourth Christmas
She was, like every other young American child, so excited in the days leading up to Christmas that she could barely contain herself.
Since she would be spending Christmas at her paternal grandmother’s, I always arrange for Kaitlyn to spend an evening close to Christmas here with her Mom-Mom.
Kaitlyn was as excited by the gift her mother bought for me and this is a good thing. At some point we have to make the young ones understand that Christmas is as much about giving as getting.
Although 4-year-olds, including 4-year-olds who know everything, would rather get than give, at some point I imagine Kaitlyn’s mother told her to be sure to give Mom-Mom HER gift from us.
It brought to mind one of my favorite Christmas memories, a bit of a bittersweet one. My daughter was, interestingly, four years old her self. Her father died when she was only 3. The Christmas following his death was an especially difficult one.
I went all out that Christmas feeling that if the child didn’t have her father this Christmas, she should at least have a lot of Christmas gifts. Perhaps my logic was ill-thought but buying my young daughter an entire room full of toys, including a toy kitchen set that spanned the room, somehow made me feel less guilty about the loss of her father.
It was just me and Melissa that sad Christmas morning. No one was there to hand me MY gifts. Sure, later in the day Melissa and I would make our rounds to various relatives and no doubt there would be gifts for me. But on that Christmas morning following my husband’s sudden and very young death, there would be no gifts for me under the tree.
…it would seem that young Melissa had a gift for me. The amazing thing was that even with a pile of gifts under the twinkling Christmas tree and even with a toy kitchen set that went around the room, Melissa’s main concern that Christmas morning was HER gift to ME.
Melissa regarded the kitchen toy set with wide eyes. I knew she wanted to get busy playing with it. But she held her glee and ran over wildly to retrieve a package from under the tree, a package that I did not put there the prior Christmas eve. It was wrapped in construction paper of all things. A childish crayoned scrawl said “MOM”.
It was a dish that she had decorated at her day care. The dish was a simple plastic thing. On it was painted a child-like drawing of a tree, a house and some stick figures. Her day care provider had all the children make this gift and had the dish somehow laminated that it would be a keepsake cherished by parents as a first handmade gift from a beloved child.
I still have that little Christmas dish. Yes, it’s a cherished memento but what could not be laminated was the memory of that sad Christmas morning and the little girl who ignored her plethora of gifts to eagerly give me the gift she had made for me.
Kaitlyn too saw the gifts under my own Christmas tree that she knew was for her. She too refrained from running to the bounty and urged me to open the gift her mother had bought for me.
For all I knew Kaitlyn had been warned by her mother that I must open my gift before she could open hers. Kaitlyn’s Mom could have given the child a lecture about the joys of giving versus getting. Whatever the case, Kaitlyn did express great joy at the prospect of giving ME a gift.
In the montage above, Kaitlyn models the scarf and poncho I made her. Kaitlyn got a bevy of other gifts from Mom-Mom and she was a happy child.
I’m not sure Kaitlyn or her mother will ever know the bittersweet memory Kaitlyn’s fourth Christmas gave me.
FOCUS ON KAITLYN
Kaitlyn Mae is what it's all about. No, not MY Kaitlyn Mae but her generation. For they are the children who we are charged with leaving a society and environment at least as moral and pristine as we inherited; ideally even better than we inherited.
So I document her life as one little American baby is born, grows and learns about life and the world around here.
Some examples below:
Kaitlyn's birth. Her mother amazed the medicos but unborn Kaitlyn's two grandmothers were not fooled.
Kaitlyn's first birthday party was a huge success. Although there was the mystery of Kaitlyn's rather unusual way of expressing her joy.
It was Kaitlyn's second Easter. She was but a little over a year old and such as giant rabbits did tend to scare the child.