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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

A Frog’s Tale

By David R. Moore

She screamed and slammed the toilet seat down.  Just seconds earlier, a frog stared at her from the toilet.  She must call for help!  Police?  EMS?  Fire department?  Family?  She decided to ring me, who in her mind was someone who may come over to help without doubling over with laughter. With panic in her voice, she pleaded for help.

“There is a frog in your toilet?  Ah, how big is it?”

“It’s BIG!”

“How did it get in your toilet?”

“I don’t know!”

“Well, frogs around here are not poisonous.  Just put on some gloves, catch him, and release him in your yard,” I suggested.

She didn’t like the idea but said she would try after she calmed down.  She phoned back and told me the frog froze after she raised the toilet seat, but he dove and swam out of sight into the toilet trap when she moved to catch it.

I rubbed my chin and, using my best sage advice, “He probably came up from the pipes. I don’t think he came in through your front door.  Just flush him on down. That will solve your frog problem.”

She called early the following day. “He’s back!”

She related how she flushed several times the night before, went to bed feeling happy the frog problem was swept away, only to scream again when she saw him again in the toilet at dawn’s light.  Later, she tried to catch him using a big stainless steel mesh strainer from her kitchen, but the frog was quick and dove into the toilet trap again.

“Well, obviously, this is not your ordinary toilet frog.  This guy seems pretty smart, quick, and uses his hands and feet to grip the sides of the porcelain tank.  We won’t be able to flush this problem away.  How about this idea?  Create a ramp made of cardboard or something similar so he can climb out of the toilet.  Once out, he should be easy to catch, but barricade the bathroom door with towels so he can’t escape the room,” I proposed.

She buzzed me later that day to say there was no sign of the frog climbing out of the toilet and believed the lid must be down for the frog to show himself and that may take hours.  She asked if I would come over to evaluate the situation, emphasizing that she can’t use that toilet until he is gone.

When I arrived, I found she had removed the crude cardboard ramp that the frog did not use and had the toilet lid down. I put on gloves and slowly raised the cover.  Yep, there he was. He looked like a leopard frog to me, but I don’t know frog species. He wasn’t big, but only a few inches in length.  I had confidence I could catch him.  Sadly, the frog dove and swam to safety as soon as I made a move toward it. He was fast, indeed. This situation was going to be more challenging than I thought.

Thinking hard for a change, I forced my old mind to come up with a new idea. If I could block the toilet trap to prevent froggy’s escape, it may be easy to catch him. Unfortunately, some details needed working out. First, the frog had to be out of the trap before the blockage. What do you use to block the trap? How do you block the toilet trap when he dives as soon as you move towards him? I went back home to ruminate on the problem and performed a cursory inventory of items in my garage. The toilet plunger may work, but I rejected that idea because of the plunger’s size and how you have to maneuver it over the opening. I thought the frog would be quicker. I found a plastic slat that was three feet by four inches and ¼ inch wide. Using my toilet as a guide, I rounded the end of the slat to block the trap effectively. I phoned her and told her my plan.

The following day, I arrived to find she had done what I had asked. Instead of closing the toilet lid, she placed cardboard over the seat, leaving a one-inch gap at the back. I speared the slat down through the opening to the trap with the assumption the frog came back. We removed the cardboard and saw the frog squirming his way past the slat, too fast for me to grab him. The size and curvature of her toilet’s bottom were different from mine, and the frog was able to squeeze through a narrow gap the slat did not close. The dimensions were such that resizing the slat would not work.

So, my next idea focused on the frog’s desire to be in or under shelter.  Froggy came out only when the toilet lid was down or cardboard was over the seat.  She suggested an empty ½ gallon almond milk carton and cut a two-inch by two-inch hole on its side.  I crammed it into the side of the toilet, so the opening was near the water’s edge.  She placed the cardboard cover of the seat with the idea the frog would come out again and find a more pleasant cavity for his safety.  The opening on the carton could be quickly closed by a hand, and with the frog inside the carton it could be ushered off the premises.

When I arrived the next day, I was dismayed as she expressed doubt in my frog-catching ideas. A few days had already elapsed with no success, and she was tired of using her other bathroom. I had to agree, and thoughts of being outsmarted by a frog also passed through my mind, so that is why I brought my stainless steel mesh strainer, more petite than hers but perhaps more maneuverable, and a fish tank net for Plan B in case the carton idea was a dud.

“It is going to take two people,” I told her and handed her the fishnet.

I put on my nitrile gloves and informed her of the plan.  She was to remove the cardboard cover, and I would close the opening on the carton and catch the frog.  If he is not in the carton, we will capture him with the fishnet.  She carefully removed the cardboard cover. There sat the frog next to the carton. He looked at me, and I looked at him. Instantaneously he dove as I plunged the strainer into the toilet.  He diverted his course to avoid the wire mesh, but she had already stuck her hand down to block the trap.  The frog made a quick U-turn giving me time to stick my other hand into the trap, blocking it.  With her hand now free, she was now able to focus on using the fish net. However, our efforts to catch him with the fishnet or strainer were futile. I have never seen a frog so fast and agile. I tried to catch him numerous times, but his body was too slippery. After several moments of frenzy efforts by all, he finally tried to squirm his way through my fingers that were blocking the trap. I then was able to cup him between my hands and capture the little guy.  We escorted him from the house to the nearby pond.  In just two hops, he dove into the water with a huge story to tell his froggy friends.

It was a happy ending.  So, if you ever find a frog in your toilet you should call for help, but please do not phone me.

A Modern Horror Story

By Julie Terry Cartner

Run! The only word storming through her brain. Run! Why that day? Why then? She wasn’t sure she even knew. And yet, she did. Run! Somehow, she knew she was down to two options, run or die. And even running didn’t guarantee she’d escape. As branches slapped against her face, bringing tears to her eyes, she tried to figure out what had escalated his behavior. Not that he’d been kind to her in a long time; truthfully, not since she’d said, “I do,” but this morning he’d seemed more … what? More tense? More angry? More on edge, she finally decided.

Part of her brain said, don’t worry about what’s going on, just run, but the other part thought, knowledge is power.  How many times had he told her, “You can run, but you’ll never get away from me. I’ll find you, and then you’ll pay.” Words.  They might have seemed like words, but he’d proven them true, the two times she’d managed to get away. She thought of the shed, the chains, the beatings. With a shudder, she knew. Never again. I won’t go back. Whatever it takes. She knew she couldn’t survive it again.

She’d learned, and she planned. The first time she’d escaped she’d seen a chance and run.  He’d been testing her, and she failed.  He caught her in less than an hour. The punishment had been swift and severe. The second time, she thought she had a plan, but she’d rushed it.  It took a bit longer, but he caught her and the punishment had almost killed her. She still carried the scars.

This time she’d taken her time, saved what little money she could, laid out false trails, and had contingency plans.  All she had to do was get to the bus stop. Once she was on the bus, she could disappear. But she had to get to the bus. She’d worked out, gotten stronger, run when she could, gotten faster. She’d hidden supplies in three places, all similar. She only needed one.

Reaching the first place, she barely hesitated. She knew he’d already found it, planned it that way. His game of cat and mouse; he liked to play with his food before he attacked. That’s probably why he seemed off this morning.  He probably had found it yesterday and was making plans.

Lengthening her stride, she ran past the second stash.  No point in taking a chance by stopping there either.  The third stash, now that was the golden one. Finally reaching the fence, she reached under the tree on the corner.  Stretching, she could just reach the bag, Her fingers flexed and grabbed the strap, and pulled. Slipping the straps over her shoulders, she ran the last half mile, then slowed down, catching her breath.

Still hidden by trees, she did what she could to change her appearance, putting on tinted glasses, pinning her hair up and covering it with a brightly flowered scarf. She’d tried similar tactics before. Now she knew more. Donning a maternity top, she stuffed the extra clothes under her camisole, creating a woman who appeared largely pregnant, then, grabbing the cane, she hobbled to the bus station, only a block away.  Hide in plain sight, she smiled to herself. He’d be looking for someone trying to hide, but she would stand out. Hopefully, he’d never guess that she’d be bold enough to draw notice to herself.

Within minutes, she purchased a one-way ticket for the bus about to depart the station. It didn’t matter where it went, this would be only the first step of her escape. With a strong accent, she wished the conductor a good day as she boarded the bus. Would it be her gateway to freedom, or would he be waiting at the other end of the line? As the bus started down the road, she could only hope.

*Every 9 seconds a woman in America is assaulted or beaten, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

*Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time in the relationship according to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program

Today

By Gaye Hoots

Today I woke up with sore back muscles, probably from mild horseplay with the twins. When their mom claimed them from my bed last night at 9 pm, I was so tired I went to sleep too. They leave early for preschool, so I have the morning to myself. I take an Ibuprofen, put a heating pad on my back, and send emails to address family issues. My next move is to make coffee and scan the headlines on the internet of all the bad news all over the world, floods, fires, murders, and mayhem. My favorite was the Turkish man who was reported lost and joined his search party for hours. When he heard them call his name loudly, he acknowledged it.

I check Facebook for news of family and friends. Lorene Markland is recovering from knee surgery and hopes to be home in two days. Many prayers were offered on her behalf. Bess Russ is preparing for a wedding for her daughter but having medical issues also. Four friends have birthdays today, and many pictures are posted of babies, grandchildren, and family gatherings. Most of the posts are positive and reassuring. Vance Hartley is recovering from COVID; even though he was vaccinated, he required hospitalization for a few days and is now on the mend.

There are no ugly or unkind posts on my site. All the messages are encouraging and positive. I have lost close friends recently and am thankful for all who are still here. The sun is starting to peek out over the water, butterflies are out, and some birds. The hummingbirds have been absent for a few days and are likely headed to warmer areas. Nature improves my mood, and I am grateful we are all alive.

I have someone scheduled to stain the deck tomorrow. He explained that three of his five workers were not working, and he was behind. My new dishwasher did not make it through a complete cycle without malfunctioning, and it has taken me weeks to get the repair service covered by the warranty to schedule an appointment. They are overwhelmed as well. I scheduled an appointment to have a plumber estimate installing sump pumps under my condo. The HOA is supposed to cover the cost, and I have been negotiating this for a year.

I have one more call to make to an estate lawyer. A recently deceased friend financed my condo, and I am trying to get the loan paid off. He died without a will, so this is going to be a lengthy process. My recommendation is that everyone makes a will, a living will, a healthcare power of attorney, and for many, a financial power of attorney to prepare for emergencies.

When I make the call, I can spend a few hours reading or searching the internet. When the twins get back late this evening, I will be ready to enjoy them again. They will soon be in their new home, and I will not get to see them daily. I am grateful my family is in reasonably good health, those who are not retired are employed and are making progress. Thankful for my family, my friends, and my life.

“I Wasn’t Through with Summer”

By Marie Craig

     It was hot this summer, but I don’t feel it now.  A few days ago, sitting on the porch and walking had to be timed to the cooler time of day, but that was OK.  Today, I could sit on the porch at any time and be comfortable.  I see some early red leaves on plants and trees.  Oh dear, I did it again.  I didn’t savor the moment this summer just like other years, and now it’s very gradually going away.

     I think MY hummingbirds have abandoned me again.  How sad.  I do love to watch them flit around and sip the sugar water I leave for them.  They didn’t even say goodbye.  I think I can hear their tiny wingbeats as they fly back to Central America, about 2,000 miles away across the Gulf of Mexico.  Their tiny hearts beat about 1,260 beats a minute.  They can fly thirty to forty miles per hour.  How do they do this — such a puzzle.  I’ll welcome them back again next mid-April.  Then I will say to myself, “This year I will savor each moment and be more aware.”

     I guess the lesson is to live in the moment no matter what season it is.  This autumn will be special as we enjoy the gorgeous colors and changes.  The electric bill will be lower.  Next month is Thanksgiving, but I should try to observe that each day.  Gratitude will change selfish and worldly thoughts to those of appreciation for what we have in the current season.  This pandemic has created uncertainty and loss of what used to be normal.  Perhaps our motto should be “We’re in the business of being flexible, patient, and appreciative.”

RWG Literary Corner

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