The Prequel (Grocer and Writer)

I’ve been here since Ten O’Clock in the morning. Tirelessly I place bottles and jars of salad dressing onto the shelves. I then pull the expired ones off, Not to many other workers do the latter. Of course, I have to walk the line while other employees get away with so much. If the owners and management at The Downtown Grocer would put more effort getting their older products sold before the expiration date, then maybe they wouldn’t have to take the losses and could afford to pay me more than eight dollars an hour. I hate this God awful job with a passion and am ever so thankful that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I will be off.

I continue working into the evening, placing new jars and bottles of salad dressing and placing the numerous expired ones in a shopping cart.

As I work, I think about my miserable life, my desire to be a writer and my loneliness.

I’m twenty-two years old and always thought I would have done so much more by this point.

Both my loneliness and my God awful job are definitely sources of inspiration for my writing. I know I have a lot of strikes against me, being mildly Autistic, but if there would be someone who loved me for me and just gave me a chance, I would love her immensely in return and treat her with the utmost reverence. For now, I turn to my writing as an outlet for all these passions.

Now I am getting the urge to write, but unfortunately, there is still work to be done. I know tomorrow I will drive to the park, sit down on a bench and write until my heart is content.

I continue working, mentally trying to remember all of my inspirations coming to me in waves.

I’m finally done my cart. I look at my G-Shock, which indicates that it is now nine twenty-seven at night.

Now I have to help front and block all the aisles. This is to make the store look pretty. It may look pretty on the outside, but this miserable place is figuratively and sometimes literally rotting and stinking on the inside.

I assist the other stockers with the fronting and blocking.

There is enough of us to get it all done in forty-five minutes.

Exhausted I walk to to the time clock to punch out.

Suddenly, the assistant store director shouts, “Not so fast!”

I sulk.

“I need you to sweep the warehouse and take out the trash. If you clock out now, don’t bother to ever come back.”

Hurriedly I sweep the warehouse, then I place all the trash bags in the outside bin.

The assistant store director then says, “All right, you may go now, but get your butt here bright and early on Black Friday.”

I look at G-Shock. It is now two minutes after eleven.

I clock out then walk to my trusty old Toyota in the parking garage.

I unlock it, then enter and drive to my house.

Upon arrival, I park the car against the curb, then I enter my hurricane fence.

My neighbors are all on welfare and are rolling and smoking joints on their front porch.

Hurriedly, I cut across my front yard in the brisk November night air.

I walk up against my steps, across my porch and into my front door.

Then I take off my work clothes and go straight to bed.

Hopefully, I will be able to write something beautiful tomorrow…

Back to “Grocer and Writer” Stories

A Review of the SwissGear 3598 City Backpack

For the record, I do not own the featured image on this page. It is property of SwissGear and/or Group III International.

I have been owning and using Wenger then SwissGear backapcks since 2006, mostly for attending trade school.

I have been using them for EDC since 2008.

I have owned five Wenger backpacks purchased from 2006 to 2011 and carried between 2006 and 2015.

I also owned two Victorinox backpacks which I purchased from 2015 to 2016 and carried between 2015 and 2017.

I will say that while Wenger and SwissGear were more affordable and more durable than their Victorinox counterparts.

They are also more available at brick and mortar retailers.

In November of 2017, I purchased a SwissGear backpack, which is the successor to Wenger.

Then on October 10, 2019, I purchased a SwissGear City Backpack Model Number 3598, which this review will be about.

This will be a review of my initial reactions, because I haven’t even owned it for twenty-four hours at the time of writing this.

However, I want to do a backpack review since they are instrumental in the world of EDC and I have been EDCing since the age of seven.

As a child and up to age twenty, I had carried my posessions in an Out Door products duffel bag. I did so until the zipper broke.

When I began trade school at age nineteen, I carried my books and laptop in my first Wenger backpack.

I had other backpacks to get me through trade school which I graduated in 2009.

At some point in trade school, I had realized that a backpack is better than a duffel bag for EDC.

So I used mostly Swiss branded backpack since then, except for a few brief times.

On October 10, 2019, I had some cash on me and was in the market for a new Swiss backpack.

I went to Target where most of them are sold and had a team member check the prices on each one I was interested in.

All were out of my price range of the cash I had on me when taxes factored in and I didn’t want to use my credit cards.

But then I saw the most basic model had a display tag of $39.99 even though it was scanning for $44.99.

I was able to get it sold to me for $39.99 of which I had enough to cover the sales tax without using my credit cards.

God was definitely with me on this.

I left the store and went home to set it up.

My initial reaction to it was that it was more narrow and lighter than what I had previously been using.

It also seemed more rugged.

The engineering on this bag is genius as far as space management goes.

I am able to fit just about everything I was previously carrying, including my computer repair tools, yet it is considerably more compact.

The only device I have yet to find a spot for is my graphing calculator, but I don’t really need to EDC that anyway.

According to SwissGear’s website, the 3598 is, “…an everyday backpack that entails modern functionality for commuters and travelers.”

Also according to SwissGear’s website;

Some of the features this backpack provides are:
-Padded, Airflow back panel with mesh fabric for superior back ventilation and support.
(excellent for everyday carrying outdoors in the Louisiana heat.)

-Padded shoulder straps with breathable mesh fabric and thumb ring adjuster pulls.
(perfect for carriers of different sizes and statures.)

-Front Panel pocket with side zipper for extra storage space.
(ideal medication/medical supplies storage for everyday carriers with special needs.)

-Front organizer panel with divider pockets and compartments for IDs, credit cards, smartphone, travel documents, and other essentials.
(handy when traveling in foreign countries.)

-Spacious main compartment features a padded tablet pocket.
(useful for holding reading/writing materials research or studying while on the go.)

-Mesh water bottle pocket.
(esential to keep the user hydrated whilst on foot.)

-Side accessory pocket.
(this is where I personally store my computer repair tools.)

-Side compression straps to tighten down load.
(genius design secures load better.)

The SwissGear 3598 has the following specifications:

It is made of durable enough Polyester.

The physical dimensions are 18 inches (45.72 cm) tall, 9 inches (22.86 cm) wide and 7 inches (17.78 cm) deep, which make it small enough to take just about anywhere.

The tare weight is 1.5 pounds (0.6804 kg), though depending on the contents it should not weigh the user down too much.

The total storage volume is 15.9 Liters (4.2 US Gallons.), so it should allow the user to take at least the essentials and maybe a little extra.

I know I have only had this for less than a day, but so far I am impressed and pleased!

By the way, if I am not pleased or if it fails, then there is ten year extended warranty.

Right now I give it a five out of five stars, especially because of the space management!

Back to “Product Reviews”

Severe Love Warning

…Spring 1975…

On a hot and humid May afternoon, Cade Jennings was walking around on his family’s vacant property. A moderately strong tornado had passed through the previous week and he was charged with the task of repairing the damage. The fence along the property line had been ripped out of the ground and many posts broken.

Cade came from a very well off, well respected family, and lived in the rural community of Checker. He was an only child, and but had three cousins. His dad; Van Jennings owned a hardware supply store. His paternal aunt; Margie Jennings Fitzgerald owned a diner called Margie’s. Cade worked for his dad’s hardware store, since the age of sixteen. He was able to avoid service in the Vietnam Conflict because he worked fervently as a highly skilled carpenter and equally skilled electrician. Also his family was well off. Cade’s work consisted of the building, wiring and repairing structures on houses and farms. His family’s land had been unoccupied for many years. It was once farmland and still had a small wooden house near the gravel road. There was also a storm shelter in the back fields. His great-grandparents originally bought the property, generations ago. Cade’s dad and aunt had ended up with it during the war. In the 1950s, they built a shelter there, to protect themselves against a foreign missile attack. In later years it served as a haven for stormy weather. It was highly valued by the family, as there was plenty of foul weather in the area. In fact, that shelter was the main reason for keeping the land. Cade’s aunt Margie also wanted to build other houses on the property, for her children. The only thing was they could not decide what to do with the small wooden house. It had sentimental value to Cade’s dad and aunt, as it was in the family for generations. Cade loved the house too, and stayed there whenever he could. In fact, all the while he was making his repairs, he stayed there. Helen Williams, their troublesome neighbor, constantly complained about it. She said it brought down the value of her property and that it was too small and too old.

Cade was a a decent young man of twenty-five years. As he was walking along the broken fence at the property boundary, he saw a young lady tending to the Helen’s herb garden. She was short and soft bodied and clothed in a yellow sun dress. Her appearance drove Cade crazy. He was instantly attracted to her, as she was bent over with her back turned toward him. He knew, however, that her boss Helen Williams held her workers to high moral standards. She demanded her employees to be celibant. They were forbidden to be in situations that would hint that their celibacy was broken. Still, at that moment, Cade was very attracted to her. He wanted to at least get to know her. Reluctantly, he unfixed his eyes from her backside and began working on the fence.

He said to himself “My God, she is so beautiful, if only I could get her to notice me.” He thought for a moment, then said to himself with a slight laugh and smile. “Wait, I know what I am going to do.” He pulled the broken post out of the ground and then tossed it into the bed of his truck. The sound of the wood landing on the metal frightened the girl. Cade did exactly what he wanted, and got the girl’s attention. Immediately she turned around and looked in Cade’s direction.

He spoke to her, trying to hide his smile, “Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.”

She smiled back at him and answered “That’s alright, I am glad that it was only you.”

Cade continued working on the fence. He placed a new post into the ground and forced it in with his pile-driver. He then took the U-shaped fasteners and hammered them into the new post, to secure the wire mesh. He did all of this while watching the girl at the same time. She couldn’t seem to be focused on her work.

Cade said to himself, “Good lord, she is even more beautiful than I first thought. I wonder what she is thinking right now?”

He continued working, trying to be as loud as possible in hopes that she would come up to him. Finally the girl got up from her work and walked over.

Cade again said, trying to hide his smile “I am sorry, I don’t mean to be making all of this noise. I hope I am not disturbing you.”

She spoke “No, you’re not, don’t worry about that. It’s just, I have never seen you around here before. What brings you here?”

Cade replied “Well, my family owns this property, and they are paying me to repair it. I am fixing the damage from the severe weather last week.” He paused then asked “Were you around here when the tornado came through?”

The girl replied “Oh yes, I was very frightened. I am deathly afraid of the weather.”

Cade asked “Where did you go for it?”

The girl replied “I had to stay outside, even though the sky was ominously black. It was lightening and thundering. I was so afraid of getting struck. A tornado warning was even issued; in fact I heard it on my Flavoradio. It keeps me company during these long work hours.” She paused and then continued “Ms. Helen kept us working, until she actually saw the funnel cloud touch down.”

Cade replied “Good Lord! Is she that horribly ruthless? I cannot believe that she would put her workers in that kind of danger.” He paused then continued “Someone so delicate and beautiful like you should be protected from danger, not put in the face of it. I bet you’re not even sixteen.”

The girl smiled and blushed, as she said, “Twenty-one, actually, but thanks for the compliment” She paused then continued “I am sick of working for her. She doesn’t appreciate us. She makes us work from sun up to sun down. We have to work five, sometimes six days a week and we are grossly underpaid. We don’t work on a set schedule either, so we can’t really plan anything far in advance. Worst of all, she tries to to control our personal lives as well.” She paused then said “If any of us decide to marry; we would be fired.” The girl paused again then continued “Don’t try having sexual intimacy outside of marriage either, because if she finds out she will fire you for that as well. She forbids fornicating, and even being in a situation where people might think you are fornicating. How’s a girl supposed to have any release?”

Cade also blushed and replied, “Dang, I knew about the celibacy, but I didn’t realize she did all of that other stuff. It is unjust and should be illegal”

The girl then said “I’m Amelia Esterwood by the way.”

“Cade Jennings.” He replied, then continued “Amelia, I have a confession to make: I think you are very beautiful and I would like to see you again. I could only see you from behind, but I thought you were so beautiful. Then, when you turned around, my thoughts were confirmed. I just wanted to be honest with you. I was making all that noise purposely to show off and get your attention.”

Amelia’s blue eyes lit up, as she replied “Well Cade, I had a feeling you were trying to do something like that.” She continued “You made me feel special, because of your attempts to attract me. That’s why I came over to talk to you. It wasn’t so much about the noise. I came because I think you are so cute and sweet.” She then leaned over to kiss him, but then stopped and said “Wait, you don’t look a day over fifteen. How do I know that I am not robbing the cradle?”

Cade blushed as he said to Amelia with excitement, “Well I just made twenty-five. I would be the one that is technically robbing the cradle, but not breaking the law.”

“Well, it is good that we are both legal, but if I wasn’t, you can rob my cradle any time.” Amelia said as she kissed him.

With ecstasy, Cade replied “Wow you really like me too, don’t you?”

She answered, “Of course I do. They don’t make ’em like you anymore.”

Cade asked, “What do you mean?” Amelia replied “You are so sweet and honest.”

She continued, “I can’t believe you don’t have a girlfriend.” He answered “Nope, there aren’t any young ladies around these parts.” Cade paused, blushed then said “Well except for you that is.”

Amelia leaned over to kiss him again, and said “Would you like to have one?”

Cade simply said “I hope you are talking about you and me.”

Amelia giggled, nodded her head and then kissed him again. Cade then kissed her, awkwardly. He blushed and asked “When could we see each other again?”

She replied “Hopefully, I have tomorrow off. If I do, could I meet you early in the morning?” Amelia paused, then continued “But, I will have to be discreet about it.”

Cade smiled and then said “You sure could. Stand near the property line, and face my bedroom window.” Cade pointed it out. Then he continued “I will be up at half past five. What do you mean by being discreet about it?”

“Well, Helen can’t know about us, so we have to be low key. At six thirty tomorrow, wait for me inside your bedroom. As soon as you see me coming near the property line, get ready. I will give you a hand signal like this” Amelia pushed her two hands together in the shape of a heart. She then continued “I will pretend my bike is broken. When I do that, get your truck ready and start it up. Ride it to where the gravel road meets Route 9.” Amelia paused then continued “I will take my bicycle and follow you. We will meet up at that highway. Helen won’t be able to see us way over there.” Amelia paused, then said “She will be too busy at that hour waking up the rest of the girls, anyway. I will keep a distance between my bicycle and your truck.”

Cade smiled then said “And when we meet near the main highway, you can put your bicycle in the bed of my truck. I have some tarpaulin to cover it up. That way no one will see that I have your bicycle and it will be protected from the weather.” Cade said as he smiled from ear to ear. He continued “This is going to be so awesome.”

Amelia smiled as she said “It’s a date.”

Cade replied, happily “I cannot wait until then.” Amelia winked and blew him a kiss. She then pranced back to the garden with her sun dress swishing from side to side. Cade stared at her with a mixture of love and lust. They both got back to work, not being able to talk for the rest of the day. As Cade was repairing the fence, all he could think of was Amelia; her beauty and their mutual passionate feelings towards each other. Cade admired her while she was working in the garden, as he continued walking along the property line. He was very busy pulling up and replacing fence posts and throwing the broken ones into the bed of his truck. He repeated the process of pile driving the new fence posts down in their places and fastening them to the wire mesh. When he finished repairing the fence all along the property line, he moved on to the rest of the yard and fields. Cade worked on the fence until the sun began to set. Just as he wanted, Cade stayed in the old house for the night. He prepared his supper, scrubbed himself down and then listened to the weather report on the bedside radio, a Realistic 12-652, until he fell asleep.

The next morning he was looking out of the bedroom window, waiting for Amelia. Not long after, she was standing near the property line. Just as planned; Amelia, wearing her backpack, gave him the hand signal. Cade nodded then walked into the living room then out the door. He started up his truck, then drove up the road. Amelia waited for Cade’s truck to leave and create some distance. Amelia took off on her bicycle and followed Cade just as planned. While waiting for Amelia, Cade parked his truck on the side of the road, perpendicular to the highway.

A sheriff’s deputy pulled over and then asked him “Engine trouble?”

“No sir” Cade replied

“Then why are you parked here?”

Quickly, Cade answered “I am waiting for my girlfriend.”

The deputy then asked “Well where is she coming from?”

“Down this gravel road, she is coming on a bicycle.” Cade replied

“Well why can’t you meet her down there?” The deputy asked

Cade answered “She is not exactly allowed to see me.”

“Is this girl 18?” The deputy asked.

Cade replied “21 actually.”

“And how old are you?”

“25.” Cade replied, and showed the cop his license.

The deputy then asked “Why can’t she see you?”

Cade replied “Her boss doesn’t want her to marry or even date.”

The deputy then said, rolling his eyes “That sounds like Helen Williams. Am I correct?”

“Yes sir.” Cade replied.

The deputy then said “She has committed and still does commit quite a few infractions, like renting out rooms illegally and unfair treatment of workers.”

He paused, then continued “My boss just as soon be in bed with her. My hands are tied, she uses her money and influence to make him look the other way.”

Cade then said with an irritated sarcasm, “Well somehow I am not surprised.”

The deputy then said “Just try not to get her too angry or she will make your life a living hell.”

“I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything.” Cade replied,

and the deputy said “Well you just be careful. I have to go now as I am on duty.”

“Thanks, and have a nice day.” Cade replied.

The deputy drove off, and a few minutes later Amelia arrived on her bicycle. She kissed him.

Cade asked her “Are you ready?”

She nodded and then asked “Where should we go today?”

Cade suggested “There’s a diner right when you get into town. My aunt owns it, so I figure we can go there.”

Amelia smiled and then said “Like I said before, it’s a date.” She set her backpack, behind the seat, then Cade lifted her bicycle into the bed of his truck, covered it and closed the tailgate. Cade then helped her into his truck and was accidentally flashed by her. He saw right up her pink sun dress and was overcome with lust. Her white panty caught his eyes and for a brief moment, time stopped and he stared at the beautiful sight.

Amelia ended the moment, though softly, as she smiled and said “You better give me a kiss!” Cade kissed her, then climbed into his side and they drove to the diner.

Upon arriving, they found a booth and sat down.

“Aunt Margie, are you here?” Cade called out. “There is someone I want you to meet.” He continued

She replied from her office. “Just a little bit, Cade.” Not long after, she came out and greeted them.

He introduced her saying “This is Amelia Esterwood, she works for Helen Williams, you know next door to the property.”

He paused then said “Don’t tell anyone, that we are together because she could lose her job for going out with me. Helen Williams is so uptight.”

Cade’s aunt said “Don’t worry, Cade, my lips are buttoned. She seems like a nice girl though and she is very pretty. You have good taste.”

Amelia blushed, then said “Thank you for saying that. Helen usually cuts me down and makes me feel horrible.”

Cade’s aunt said, “Yes, she is a nasty neighbor and a source of misery to all of us. You shouldn’t let her bring you down, because you are much better than her.” Cade’s aunt paused then continued “Now, anyways, what could I get for you two?”

Cade looked at Amelia and asked , “What do you want?” She replied “Strawberry pancakes sound good. And I’ll have a glass of milk.”

His aunt then asked, “And for you Cade?” He replied “I’ll have two sausage biscuits with cheese, and scrambled eggs. I would also like a glass of orange juice.”

“Coming up.” His aunt replied, then continued, “Cade, I think I should give you an antacid with your breakfast. You better take it.”

Cade looked at Amelia’s backpack, “So what do you keep in there anyway?”

Amelia replied, “Oh some potions I have been working on, from plant extracts. I also have my pocketbook, sunglasses, keys, an Eveready penlight, my Flavoradio, perfume, my mirror and my diary.”

Cade then said, “Wow that’s a lot of stuff. What kind of potions do you have?”

Amelia replied, “I have created some aphrodisiacs, tranquilizers, pain relievers, elixirs and antidotes.”

“That is so awesome, especially the aphrodisiacs.” Cade replied; then blushed afterwards.

Amelia said, “Well I tried them on myself once, and they brought up some powerful urges in me. I could never act on them until I was in my room by myself.”

“I would like to try them,” Cade replied, then continued “You know, you only live once.” She opened up a bottle and then placed some crushed powder into both of their glasses of water. They toasted each other and drank both of the glasses.”

“Wow this tastes strange,” Cade said.

“Yes it does, but it is sure potent,” She said, then kissed Cade. The kiss was followed by an awkward silence. Little did they know, there were others in the diner that were listening in. It just so happened that Cade looked around the dining room, and saw everyone whispering and staring.

Cade noticed them and said “Durn it, I hate how these small town people are so nosy. I wish it was like the city, where everyone minds there own business.”

Amelia added in, “I’m from the city actually, but I took the job here because I also needed a place to stay for cheap. Helen Williams rents out some rooms on her property for the girls that work there.”

Cade looked around again before he whispered, “Yes, and I heard she does it all under the table. I guess that’s so she will not have to keep a lease or pay taxes.”

Amelia then said, “Yes, and because she does not sign a lease, she is not required to keep us there if she would decide to fire us.” The people began to point and whisper some more, and Cade was getting very irritated. Before they were even able to finish their breakfast, they decided to leave.

Cade paid his aunt, tipped her and said “Can we take this food to go? I don’t want to waste it, but I also can’t stand these nosy people in here.” His aunt nodded and they walked out of the diner.

Amelia said, “I see what you mean about nosy small town people. I hope that word doesn’t get back to my boss.” She paused then asked “Where could we go to be alone?” “Well there are several places to go, but I wouldn’t take you there.”

“Why not?” Amelia asked

Cade replied, “Because, you are a lady, and those places are either full of nasty men or thugs.” He paused then said “I would take you to the house, but Helen might see us walking in together.”

Amelia then asked, “If it’s all right with you Cade, why don’t we take a ride somewhere?”

Cade smiled and said, “That’s a good idea. Now, let’s just see where we can go.” He pulled his map from under the windshield on the dashboard. He studied the map and said “We are on Route 10, running concurrent with Route 9.” He pointed at the flashing 3 Way Stoplight, then said “That’s where the two highways split off.” He said, then continued. “We can go northwest on Route 10, or southwest on Route 9.” He then said “We can go to Native Crossing, and I can buy you some sexy clothes at this store I heard of.” It is about 10 miles southwest of here, on Route 9.”

Amelia nodded and said, “That’s a wonderful idea, but just so you know, I would go anywhere with you.” She leaned over to kiss him, and once again Cade was turned on. They drove towards Native Crossing, on Route 9, entered the city limits, and then into downtown. Cade parked his truck on the street, and they went walking along the sidewalk. They came in front of the clothing store.

Amelia looked in the window and said, “Imagine how I would look in one of those skirts?”

“Let’s find out.” Cade said. They walked in and Amelia asked the clerk, “I would like to try on some of those skirts”

Cade told Amelia, “I could also get you a night gown and maybe some underwear.”

The clerk was an old and old fashioned woman. She asked, sternly ,”Are you two married?”

“No,” They replied simultaneously.

The clerk said, “Well I can’t have both of you shopping for clothes here together, especially underclothes. It’s just not proper. A boy should NOT see a girl’s nightgown or underwear unless she is married to him.”

Cade showed her a handful of cash, and then asked “What if I paid a little extra for her clothes?”

The old woman grabbed her broom as she said, “What kind of sell out do you think I am?” She continued, “I don’t care how much you want to pay me, I will not sell you two any clothes. What is this world coming to?” She then chased them out with her broom.

They ran out of the store and onto the sidewalk both laughing.

Amelia said, “I have an idea.”

“What’s that?” Cade asked.

Amelia answered, “Give me a big kiss and hold me tight.” She giggled and then said “Now rub my butt a little.” Cade was now getting turned on, likewise Amelia. She then said “Now lift my dress a little.”

Cade began to do it, when the old lady from the clothing store came out, yelling “Knock it off you two animals, before I call the police.”

Filled with a rush of affection and laughter, they then ran to Cade’s truck and left the the downtown area of Native Crossing.

They came to a filling station, and Cade said “Oh better fill the truck up. Could I get you anything?”

Amelia replied “A cherry cola would be nice.” Cade walked into the store. He looked at the little gadgets under the counter and the soft drinks in the coolers.

He picked up two cherry colas, and then looked under the counter and asked “I see that tradesman’s pocket knife down there. How much?”

The attendant replied “For you, $8. That’s a very good deal. It is made locally, not overseas. It is not like the junk they sell at those new fangled department stores.”

Cade then asked “And what would you suggest for my girlfriend, she is waiting in the truck and I would like to surprise her.”

The attendant went into the back room and said “How about this?” He blew the dust off the box, then continued “It’s mighty fine Ladies Rolex watch.”

Cade looked at it, and then studied it closely. It was a shiny gold and had had a blue face and bright sparkling hands and markings.” ”

“$350,” The attendant said.

Cade pulled out his cash and asked “Is this real?”

The attendant said “Look at the minute hand. Do you see how it sweeps instead of ticks? That means it is real my friend.”

Cade asked “Well, how did you come across one of these?”

“I have a friend who is in the jewelry business. When he has new old stock on clearance, he sells them to me. I then sometimes resell them,” The salesman replied.

Cade then paid for all the goods. He then placed another $5 on the counter, as he said, “I also need to fill up my truck.”

The cashier took the money and Cade put the watch in his left pocket and knife in his right. He then went out to pump his fuel. He opened the door and Amelia playfully swung her legs out, to cause Cade’s lustful feelings to come forth. He kissed her and handed her one of the soft drinks.

He then said, “I know where we can go.”

“Where’s that?” Amelia asked.

“We can go to where the two waterways cross. That place is how the town of Native Crossing got its name.”

He paused and then continued, “We can sit on the tail gate of my truck, and watch the boats pass by.

She smiled and said, “That could be fun.”

Cadee finished pumping fuel into his truck then they drove down to the canal intersection. Cade pulled out his new knife and began to clean his fingernails. Amelia watched him and giggled.

He asked “You like my new knife?” She said “Yes, it looks very neat.”

Cade then said “I have a surprise for you later. I think you will like it.” Amelia smiled from ear to ear, and then grabbed his shirt and wildly kissed him.

Cade took his Realistic Patrolman Mini radio from behind his seat and said, “I have a radio too and I can tune in the boat captains, bridge tenders and deckhands talking to each other on it.”

“That’s neat, my Flavoradio only gets AM, but there’s lot’s of good music on there.”

They sat there for a a few hours, both flirting and touching each other with affection. Amelia then fell asleep in Cade’s lap to the chatter of captains, bridge tenders and deckhands. She rested for a few hours. The whole while Amelia was sleeping Cade massaged her and kissed her.

When she woke up she looked up at him and said “Wow, I thought it was a dream. This is better than any dream.” She paused then said “Now I am feeling very frisky.”

Once again, the western side of the sky was getting blue. Just as Amelia wrapped her legs around Cade, there was a bright flash of lightning followed by a loud and disturbing thunder.

“Durn it, looks like another storm is moving in.” Cade said

“Where will we go now?” Amelia asked.

He opened his truck door for her and she stepped in “We can head back to Checker. There is a storm shelter on my family’s property. It used to be a bomb shelter but now we use it for weather like this. It’s dark and cramped in there but at least it is safe and private. We should go there.” He paused and then said, blushing “I’ll only take you there, if you want to.”

“Sure, I think it would be a good idea if we could go somewhere we would be alone.” Amelia said as she winked and shook her dress playfully. They were both feeling extremely lustful towards each other, when Cade’s truck radio sounded an alert tone for a tornado watch.

Amelia, now frightened said “Yes, I definitely want to go there. I want to be safe from this weather.”

“Your wish is my command.” Cade said, and with that pounded the accelerator pedal they drove back to Checker as fast as possible. In a short while they made it back to the property and then to the entrance of the shelter.

It was a small building embedded in a hill. The shelter had only been used when there was the threat of stormy weather and when the family had the ability to get to it in time. Cade parked his truck then reached in his glove box for his 3 Cell Kel Lite flashlight and turned it on. He then escorted Amelia into the shelter, as the winds were starting to pick up. He pointed the flashlight at the steps, so they could see through the dark pathway that led to the main room. Cade figured that his aunt’s children were all in school and would probably be kept there until the weather had passed. He knew his dad would be working in his office which was in the very center of the building. He then figured that his aunt and her employees would go in the stockroom of the diner which was also the safest place to be. He walked back to the entrance and pulled the keys out of his pocket. He locked the entrance door behind him, and walked back down to the main room. There was a Realistic Weatheradio 5, a first aid kit, a mattress with blankets, and a box of Radio Shack batteries and flashlight bulbs. For food there were gallon jugs of water, and crates of military surplus chocolate bars. By the light of the Cade’s flashlight and Amelia’s penlight they sat down on the mattress.

Amelia smiled with mischief and lust as she said, “You know Cade, we can have plenty of fun in here.” She then blushed

Cade asked, with a shaky voice, “You mean we can make love to each other?”

Amelia replied “Well of course! What did you think we would do?” She paused then said “Now, why don’t you come a little closer!” Amelia motioned for Cade to come. He hadn’t fully approached her, when she leaned over grabbed and kissed him, as she said “Whatever we we do in here, no one will ever know!” Cade, who was now lustfully turned on, but also anxious, said “I am a virgin. Are you as well?”

There was then an awkward silence.

Cade then apologized “Sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Amelia replied “Yes, except for my fingers that is. A girl needs some release.”

“Well in that case, my thumb and fingers deflowered me a long time ago.” Cade replied, then continued, “if we do become intimate, I still want you tomorrow and in fact every day after that until the end of time. I hope that’s what you want.”

“Yes, I want that as well. You’re cute and you have a wonderful heart,” Amelia replied, lovingly.

Cade humbly stated, then continued, “Maybe it’s your potion talking, but I desire your body intensely right now!”

Amelia said, as she lifted her pink sun dress at him, while saying, “Good, because I know you’ve been wanting to see under my dress all day. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. Here’s your chance.” She then pulled him on top of her and wrapped her legs around him She then spoke “Take me, Cade. Now!”

Cade replied, “I am a little nervous.”

Amelia said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get through this together.”

Cade then said, “Well I am ready then.”

At last they commenced in lovemaking.

After they felt the bursting of release, Amelia rubbed Cade’s chest and asked “Can we really be together forever?”

“We can and as far as I am concerned; we will!” Cade said, then continued, “I had the word forever about to be spoken myself, but did not want to repel you from me.”

Amelia replied, with her heart on her sleeve, ” Well I love you, Cade, and I hope you are not repelled by that.”

Cade said “Love was on the tip of my tongue as well and I am so happy that your feelings are the same as mine.” Amelia then kissed him.

Cade got dressed and stepped out, to check the weather. It was still pouring down raining. He then made his way back into the shelter by the light of his flashlight, to see through the pathway.

He stared at Amelia for a moment then said “My God, you are beautiful, Amelia.” They sat down on the mattress and began talking; Cade asked “How are we going to be together?”

Amelia then answered him “I don’t know but our love will find a way.”

He asked her, “You really think so?”

“I know so,” Amelia answered then continued “For my entire life, I wanted someone like you. Now that I have found you, I filled with bliss!” There was another awkward silence, then Amelia asked “How’s the weather.”

“The sky is still dark, and it is raining hard I think we should stay in here for right now.”

Amelia then said “Maybe we can spend the evening together, I don’t have to be at work until seven tomorrow morning.”

Cade looked at his Micronta watch then said “It’s one in the afternoon, let me tune in the weather forecast on the radio.” Amelia nodded. Cade turned the radio on, but heard nothing but static. He stood on top of the mattress and held the radio up to the ceiling. There was much static, but he heard the meteorologist coming in. “There is severe weather moving through the Checker and Native Crossing areas, from the west. Expect strong thunderstorms for the rest of the afternoon and all night long. We are also under a tornado watch until midnight. Stayed tuned for more updates on this weather station.”

Cade then asked “Do you want to stay here or go into the house?”

Amelia replied “Let’s stay here, for in case there is a tornado, they are very common this time of year. Besides if Helen sees us walking into the house together, she will get very suspicious.”

Cade replied “You’re right, we’re be better off in here.” Cade paused then asked “So how were you able to come up with potions like that? They obviously work, just look at what happened.”

Amelia replied “Well, I have been experimenting with botanicals and natural medicine since I was 16. I have read many volumes on the subject. In fact, that’s what made me want to be a gardener, so I could harvest the plants to make my potions.”

“That is awesome, especially that love potion. I never felt so passionate.” He paused then said “All that love making made me hungry, especially since we weren’t able to eat much of our breakfast, and no lunch. I have some food in here, it’s not the best though.” Cade said, and continued “But it should give us energy to sustain us. Would you like some chocolate?”

Amelia nodded then said “Most definitely, if we mix chocolate with my love potion, imagine the passionate intimacy we will experience.”

Cade said “That’s very true.” He paused then continued “Well, say no more, I will get us some chocolate.” Cade reached into a dark corner, by the light of his flashlight and reached into the crate for two bars. Suddenly he heard a hissing sound and then a painful grip on his arm. He looked at his arm and saw two puncture wounds. It was now burning. “Dang it, a snake just bit me.” He screamed in pain.

Amelia asked “Is there anything to kill it with?” Cade was shrieking in pain and then said “Get my Kel Lite, I am going to beat it to death.” Amelia ran to the door, retrieved the long flashlight and handed it to Cade. With the aid of his flashlight in his right he searched around the room. Finally he spotted the snake “Die, you miserable creature!” He screamed then struck the snake’s midsection. There was an angry hiss from the snake that was immobilized and bleeding. Cade then smashed the snake’s throat just below the head with the tail end of his KeL Lite.

“Get a drinking cup and the snakes head, I can heal you.” Amelia said. Cade took his new pocket knife and cut off the snakes head. He then handed it to Amelia. She took her penlight and examined his wound. “It’s not that deep, but I will make an antidote for you just in case any venom was injected into you.” Cade began to have chills and blurred vision. His arm burned horribly also. Amelia hurriedly took the cup and searched into her backpack for an antidote potion. She then opened a jug of water and poured it into the mixture as she said, “Here drink this.”

Cade immediately drank the mixture, in one gulp. Amelia then said “Now you just rest, Cade. I will take care of you.” Amelia said, as she rested his head into her lap. She felt his head and spoke “Oh, you have a terrible fever, but that is your body killing off the venom proteins. The potion should do the trick in time.”

“You are truly a life saver, Amelia, I know before this happened I said I want you forever, but you saving my life confirms this feeling that much more. I owe my life to you and I will be your husband as soon as I am better.” Cade said as he breathed hard.

Amelia rubbed his face and spoke, “Just rest now, you will get better in time.” He smiled and nestled his head in her legs.

She kissed his forehead and said “I will take good care of you, and when you are better, I am going to make wonderful love to you again.” Cade smiled up at her.

Hours passed.

Amelia felt Cade’s forehead and spoke gently, “Your fever is going down, let me check your eyes.” She took her Eveready penlight then said, “Your pupils are looking normal. Looks like my potion is working.”

Cade looked up at Amelia, then said “I have my dad to thank for selling me that Kel Lite at a discount price.”

“Well I normally don’t like weapons,” Amelia said and continued “I am a healer, or at least I would like to think of myself as one. But I guess I can see a purpose for them.”

Cade said, “You are a healer in my book, you saved my life and I am in debt to you. I will give you anything I can afford.”

Amelia smiled and asked, “Do you still want to get married?”

Cade replied, “More than ever, are you sure that’s all you want?”

Amelia nodded and said, “As long as you promise to love and cherish me for the rest of your life.”

Cade smiled and said, “It is done, and believe me I will give you that and much more.” Cade reached into his pocket and handed Amelia the watch.

“Oh Cade, it’s beautiful,” She said.

Cade replied, “And that’s just the beginning if we are to get married.”

Amelia smiled and kissed him, then said, “You rest.”

He fell asleep in her arms and she watched him through the night, looking at her new timepiece and counting the hours. Finally it was the hour of three A.M. She woke Cade up kissing him on the forehead. Cade arose and Amelia asked him, “How do you feel?”

Cade answered, “Like a million dollars. Those drugs you gave me really worked.”

Amelia smiled and asked, “Are you still serious about marrying me?”

Cade replied, “I am serious as the complications I would have had from that snake bite had you not healed me.” She smiled and kissed him.

There was a silence for a moment then Amelia asked, “You think you’re able to drive?”

Cade replied, “I don’t see why not.”

Amelia then said, “Well, can you take me to the property line, so I can go back to work? I want to be back at Ms. Helen’s, under the cover of darkness so she does not get suspicious.”

Cade replied, “Your wish is my command.” With that they exited the shelter. By the light of their flashlights, they walked to Cade’s truck. There was a dampness in the early morning air, as they stepped into the truck. Cade said “I am going to miss you so much. How did Shakespeare say it? Parting is such sweet sorrow?!”

Amelia smiled and said “It’s only for a little while. I cannot wait until the next time I am in your arms.” She leaned over, grabbed and kissed him. Sadly, they drove back to the house. The sun had not yet come up when Amelia said “Cade, I have to go now, so I can get home without Ms. Helen knowing anything.” She gave him a long passionate kiss, then said “I cannot wait to see you again though.”

Cade asked “Can I see you later today?”

Amelia replied “I will try to work next to the property line again, just look for me.” They kissed once again then Amelia said “You rest for a while, go lay down in the house.” They then departed as Amelia blew Cade a kiss.

Cade unlocked the house then went lay down in the bedroom. He turned on the bedside radio and listened to the weather report. The meteorologist said “There will be hot temperatures and high humidity all through the day. Be prepared for possible heat generated thunderstorms in the mid-to-late afternoon. For tonight warm and muggy.” After listening to the weather report Cade turned off his radio then set the alarm on his Micronta watch for nine and went to sleep. Cade fell asleep and dreamed many dreams about Amelia. He woke up at nine in the morning to the buzzing of his watch alarm. He then got dressed, and walked to the telephone on the wall, to call up his dad. He dialed the number

His dad picked up, “Jennings Supply. Van Jennings here.”

Cade replied, “Hey it’s me. I am almost done with the fence. I stayed overnight on the property.”

“Alright, that is fine,” His dad replied.

Cade continued, “I met a young lady, whilst fixing the fence. She is a gardener for Ms. Helen. I guess I’ll just say the truth: I spent the evening with her.”

His dad said, sternly, “Well, you know you had better be prepared to marry her then.”

Cade replied “Yes, I know. She already wants to.”

There was a silence on the phone, then Cade said “I have another story to tell you.”

He paused then continued, “We spent the night in the shelter. I was bit by a copperhead in there. She healed me and saved my life. She knows to how create natural medicines from plant extracts, and thank God she had an antidote potion in her backpack. She cured my snakebite.”

Cade’s dad replied, “I want to meet this girl. We will definitely do something for her, as a reward for saving your life.”

“Could it be something that takes her away from Helen Williams? She hates working for that horrible woman, and if she is going to marry me she will be fired. Worst of all if she gets fired she will be thrown out of her dwelling on Ms. Helen’s property.”

His dad then replied, “I’ll see what I can do, and what the rest of the family is willing to do. Until then, you finish fixing up the fence and if there’s anything else that needs to be repaired you tend to that as well. I have a lot of paperwork to catch up on.”

“Will do,” Cade said and they both hung up the phone.

Cade prepared his breakfast, ate, then continued working on the fence. The weather was just as the meteorologist predicted. While in the middle of repairing the fence, he needed to get some more U-Shaped fasteners from the shed. He walked in to see the work bench soaking wet. “There must have been a leak in the roof.” He said to himself with disgust. All of the hand tools were full of oxidation, many of them were antiques. All were ruined; screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, sockets, ratchets, nails, wood screws, files, and sickles. Even the U fasteners he was looking for were encrusated with oxidation. All of the electrical tools were also soaking wet and ruined too. He cussed and kicked the wall of the shed “Durn it and dang it and son of a gun! Those tools have been in my family for generations. Now one stupid storm damages the shed roof, rain leaks in and they are all ruined. He took a rag, and wiped all of the water off of them. He then located the can of used oil and tried his best to coat them. After oiling the rusted implements, he brought them into the utility room of the old house and set them down. He then went back to the tool shed and cut off all of the breakers on the electrical box. While in there, he heard arguing. It was coming from Helen’s property. Instantly he placed the tools in his truck then drove to the property line to listen, because he had heard both Helen’s and Amelia’s voices.

Ms. Helen was reprimanding Amelia with anger, “People all over town are gossiping about how you and Cade Jennings were sitting in the diner, talking about aphrodisiacs. They are even saying that you and Cade mixed them in your drinks. Is this true?”

Cade stepped out from his eavesdropping and said “What if it were true? I am so fed up with all this small town gossip. Why should she be punished because of something I convinced her to do. It was my idea to drink her potion.”

Ms. Helen adjusted her glasses and looked sternly at Cade, as she spoke, “So it’s you that did this? I would have thought much better of you, Cade. You come from a family of upright people and then you go and do this? I am very disappointed in you.” She paused and then spoke to Amelia “And you, if you want to work for me and have your affordable housing, you better stop this filthy behavior right now.” She then told Amelia, dismissively “Now get back to work. And Cade you mind your own business.”

Cade replied, “Tell all those other nosy small town people with nothing better to do, that they should do the same.”

“Why should they?” Helen asked with anger and continued “If you are not doing anything wrong you should have nothing to hide.” Helen paused, then said “If anyone is doing something shameful, then he or she should and will be shunned. That way it will deter people from doing all things questionable.”

Cade who was now irritated once again said “Well what if everyone knew how you were illegally renting out rooms on your property? Don’t act so self-righteous.”

Ms. Helen grew very angry and agitated, “Shut your mouth young man. Didn’t your parents teach you not to question your elders?”

Quick-witted, Cade replied “Well didn’t yours teach you that honesty is the right thing to do? The way you treat your workers is very dishonest!”

“How would you know how I treat my workers?” Ms. Helen asked with great irritation.

Cade replied “It’s the talk of the town. Isn’t it something how you say that everyone should know if someone is doing something questionable.”

Ms. Helen was speechless.

Amelia smiled brightly at Cade.

Finally Ms. Helen broke the silence and said, “Cade, I am highly offended by your disrespect, but I don’t have the time to argue with you. Your parents are going to hear about that mouth you have, rest assured.” She looked at Amelia, then said “Come with me now, you have been standing here, not working all the time Cade and I were arguing. I am going to dock your pay.”

Amelia reluctantly followed from a slight distance, but turned around to look at Cade. She blew him a kiss, discreetly lifted her white sundress at him and then silently said “I love you Cade.” He read her lips and then spoke silently “I love you too, Amelia.” He then blew her a kiss.

He went back to working on the fence, with the few U Fasteners he could salvage. He felt quite proud of himself for telling that hateful old woman off. However, Cade felt worried for Amelia. He was very concerned that she was probably on the brink of losing her job. He knew of his dad’s strong suggestion for him to marry Amelia. The problem was that they would not have a place to stay. All the while he worked on the fence, until he was finished. He decided to stay the night on the property, and for the rest the weekend as well. After picking up the equipment from repairing the fence, Cade walked into the old house. He retrieved the Eveready screw top lantern and switched it on. He did it as a joke to himself, thinking the battery would be dead. He then was very surprised to see the light come right on. Cade grabbed a sickle and a file to sharpen it. When it was razor sharp, he placed it in the back of his truck. Then put the screw top lantern on the floor board of his truck and drove down to the storm shelter.

“Payback time!” He said to himself.

With his Kel Lite under his arm, screw top lantern in one hand and sickle in the other, he entered the shelter. He made it down to the main room and set the light down in the middle. With his tough leather boots on, and both the weapons in his hands, he began to kick all around the boxes and corners. He heard hissing and rattling. He could see a medium sized rattlesnake crawling across the floor. Immediately he hacked it in half then stomped on the head.

“I’m going to show those durn belly crawlers who owns this building, my family not them!” He said with an arrogant anger. He then kicked around a space between two boxes in a corner. He heard a very loud rattle. He backed up, and shined the light, which revealed a giant rattler. He swung down as hard as he could with the sickle striking it in the spine, then hacked it to pieces. There was another snake, this time a Coral. Cade made it his business to kill this one. Quickly, he chased it, then when it was cornered it. Quickly, he struck the snake’s head with his blade, then hacked it to pieces. After killing snakes, he picked up what was left of their bodies, and set them in an ice chest on the bed of his truck.

He went back into the house and dialed up his dad who answered, “Jennings Supply. Van Jennings here.”

Cade replied, “Dad I have some good news and some bad news.”

His dad then said, “Well, tell me the bad news first.”

Cade replied, “The storm shelter is snake infested and the tool shed’s roof was leaking. All of those antique tools in there were ruined.”

His dad then asked “Well, what’s the good news?” Cade replied “The fence is fixed.” His dad said “Well I want you to fix the roof of the shed. Any insurance money I get from those tools will be given to you and Amelia. I have also been considering giving that house to you and Amelia, if your aunt is all right with that. I wanted to give it to you, since you always like to be there and because you work hard. I figure you can fix it up with the insurance money.”

Cade then said “Well that would be awesome.” He paused then said “Are you sure, I know that house has sentimental value to you and Aunt Margie.”

His dad then replied, “We both have homes of our own, and if you will be getting married, you need a place of your own. The Lord commands it.”

Cade then asked “What could I do to repay you.”

His dad answered, “Always work hard, and do your best. Marry Amelia to get it right with the Lord. And gosh durn it, give me some grand children, I didn’t think you would ever give me any, now there’s hope for that.” His dad paused then said, “Now Cade, I have to go. I still have a lot of paperwork to file.”

Cade said “Well thank you, dad. I will try my best to make your proud.”

After hanging up, Cade feverishly worked to repair the roof of the shed, then went to the general store for mothballs. He charged them to the Jennings Supply account.

After the transaction was completed he placed them all around the shelter.

He searched all the rooms for snakes and killed several more.

Cade and Amelia would secretly meet at times throughout the days, usually before dawn or after dusk.

Amelia’s next day off was that Sunday. Cade heard at knock at the door as he way lying on the sofa listening to a Realistic Pocket Weather Radio.

The meterologist stated, “A severe thunderstorm will affect Checker and the surrounding area in about ten minutes.

He answered it and beheld Amelia, with her backpack. She smiled at him and asked, “Could I come in?”

Cade replied, “As if you even have to ask. Come right in. A storm is coming anyway.” She smiled even more and walked inside. Cade continued, “Well I have good news for you. “I talked to my dad about what happened with us in the shelter.” Amelia got nervous and began to shake.

Immediately Cade said, “No, don’t worry. He is not mad at us or anything. In fact he said that we need to get married, because of what we did. Furthermore he commanded me to give him some grandchildren.”

Amelia smiled as she said, “Well that is wonderful, it is what I wanted, and what you promised me.” She paused then said “But what about my job.”

Cade replied to her, “Well, I have more good news; I told my dad how you healed my snakebite and saved my life. He also feels in debt to you, and is willing to give you something of value. I suggested to him that it should be something to get you away from Ms. Helen.”

Amelia then asked, “How do you know that you can get me away from that witch?”

Cade replied “Well, my dad wants us to have this old house.”

Amelia kissed Cade, then asked “What would you like to do?”

Cade replied “What do you think?”

Cade made love to Amelia until she collapsed with pleasure on top of him. There they became intimate once again, with a bursting of release just as the lightning flashed and the thunder sounded. They cuddled on the couch for an hour, holding each other completely naked, passionately kissing and petting.

There was a knock at the door, suddenly, Cade asked, shouting “Who’s here?”

It was Ms. Helen as she spoke, “Who do you think it is?”

Cade whispered to Amelia, “Take your clothes and go hide in the bathroom.” She nodded in fear and went hide. Cade put on his trousers and his undershirt, and opened the door. Immediately Ms. Helen barged in through the doorway and into the house.

Cade demanded, “Hey what do you think you are doing? I didn’t give you permission to enter in here.”

“Shut your mouth, your just a little fledgling out of the nest, I don’t need permission from you to do anything.”

Cade, walking to the phone on the wall, warned, “If you don’t leave now, I will call the sheriff’s department.”

Ms. Helen, even more angered, “How dare you! Just try it. I personally know the sheriff and his deputies won’t dare do me anything.”

Cade, basically out of options asked her “What do you want from me?”

Ms. Helen replied, “First of all, I want you to lose that disrespectful attitude you have. Then I want to know where Amelia is.”

Cade once again angered said, “Its her day off. What do you want with her?”

Ms. Helen replied with great irritation, “Don’t question me, she is my worker and this doesn’t concern you. Anyway, how would you know it’s her day off?” She paused then continued “What’s that musty odor in here? It smells like you have been screwing in here. That’s why you took so long to answer the door. Amelia is in here, isn’t she? And you are fornicating with her, aren’t you?”

Cade reached in the nightstand drawer for his granddad’s old Peacemaker revolver. He pulled the hammer back pointed it at her and then said, “Get your old, ugly behind out of here now! You are not welcome here ever again!”

Ms. Helen left. As she exited she said “Mark my words, this isn’t over. You can tell Amelia she is fired, for being such an ungrateful little whore.” She stormed out of the door, slamming it behind her. Cade watched her leave the property, then knocked on the bathroom door.

Amelia asked “Cade is that you?” “Yes Amelia, it’s me. Get dressed and come out, we have some trouble.”

Amelia, who was already dressed stepped out of the bathroom and asked “What’s the matter?”

Cade replied, “Ms. Helen has decided to fire you.”

Amelia asked in distress, “What? Why? I did nothing. At least nothing that she knows of.”

Cade then said, “She could smell your girly scent in the room, after she barged into the house. I guess that was enough proof for her to know that we are fornicating.”

“Well how did you convince her to leave?” Amelia asked.

Cade replied “My granddad’s old Peacemaker scared her off nicely.”

Amelia laughed, slightly, but then was overcome with anxiety. She asked Cade “Where will I stay now?”

Cade answered, “I think we should go talk to my dad, and see what he can do for us.” Amelia nodded.

Cade continued, “We can go talk to him right now, if you want. He is off today, and this is his only day off.” Cade paused then said “I’ll only take you to meet my family if you want me to.”

Amelia replied “Yes, let’s go. I only hope that they help us.”

Cade reassured her, “Well the fact that we have fornicated, they will definitely want us to get married. Furthermore, you saved my life, I don’t think they will forget that.”

Amelia smiled and nodded.

“Let’s just wait for this storm to pass,” Cade said.

“I would make love to you again, but I’m very shook up,” Amelia said sheepishly.

Cade turned on the Realistic Pocket Weatheradio again and they listened.

Finally they had heard of how the severe weather warnings had expired.

With that Cade grabbed his keys, they walked to his truck and drove to his dad’s house.

Cade drove his truck up the gravel road.

Amelia said “I am so nervous, I hope your dad approves of me.”

Cade replied “He strongly wants us to marry. He even said he wanted grandchildren from us.” Cade paused and then said “Just act proper, and he will like you very much. My dad obviously already knows we have been intimate. That is why he wants us to marry.”

Cade parked in the driveway, and escorted Amelia out of the truck. He knocked on his dad’s door, and was greeted immediately. Cade’s dad motioned for them to come in. Both Cade and Amelia sat down on the dining room table as Van talked to them. He said “Well, she sure is a pretty young lady, Cade.”

Amelia blushed and said, “Thank you Mr. Jennings.”

Cade’s dad replied “I’m old but not that old. Call me Mr. Van.”

Amelia smiled and nodded her head. Cade’s dad then said “Now, in all seriousness, I think it is urgent that you two marry as soon as possible. I want your relationship to be right in the eyes of the Lord.”

Both nodded.

Van continued “Now I am going to have to call Aunt Margie over, so we will all be in agreement over who gets what on the property.” Mr. Van called his sister on the phone, and immediately she came over.

She opened the door, and said, “Well hello again Amelia. It’s good to see you again.”

She then faced towards Van and said, “All right, I understand that they want to be given the old house. I am fine with that. I would like my three kids to have the unoccupied land adjacent to that house.” She paused then continued, “I also want you to build their houses when the time is right. You’re a very good worker.” Cade smiled and said “Wow, that’s it?” Both his dad and his aunt nodded. His aunt then said, “I want all of us to have access to the storm shelter.”

Cade replied, “Well of course.” He paused then continued “Well speaking of the storm shelter, I had to treat it, because it was crawling with snakes, and at this time of the year we will need it the most.”

Both nodded.

Amelia then spoke “I have just been fired by Helen Williams. And the fact that I am marrying will not allow me to ever get my job back.”

Cade interjected, “Don’t worry about working, I will support you.”

“Well I am expecting that. You’ve got a durn good young lady here who saved your skin and you need to love her and cherish her for the rest of your life!” Van interrupted.

Amelia then continued “Helen Williams will be next door to us. She will probably cause us a lot of misery.”

Cade said, “Yes that is true, I was just talking to a deputy about that situation, and he told me his hands are tied from dealing with her because his boss has been accepting bribes from that wretched woman.”

“Oh really. Is that so?” Margie said with irritation, then continued “Well, I can put an end to that. I will tell the sheriff that neither he nor any of his deputies will never eat for free ever again at my diner. At least not until this is resolved.”

Cade’s dad then said “Well, I have been supplying the sheriff’s department with all kinds of gear at a great discount. Unless he deals with Helen Williams, I will charge him full retail price, plus an extra 25%. We will see if Helen Williams can carry on like she does.”

Amelia then said “She is also renting out rooms illegally on her property and she exposes her workers to all sorts of danger. She also pays very unfair wages.”

Cade’s aunt said “Well again, until she is fined or disciplined, I will not give any member of our Sheriff’s Department free food anymore.”

Van then said “Likewise for me supplying them at discount, now, Cade; I want you to get your stuff together. Since you two will move into that house; I want you to get married, pronto!”

Amelia looked at Cade with lust as she said “Could we do it tomorrow, and just go to the Justice of the Peace? I can’t take another day away from him.”

Cade kissed her and then said “It’s fine by me, Amelia. I too don’t know how I will be able to control myself.”

“Good, that’s what I wanted to hear,” Van said then continued “I want both of you to love each other, but make it right in God’s eyes.”

Back to “Works of Fiction”Back to “Works of Fiction”

 

 

 

A Millenial Childhood

Late June 1994:

Tuesday June 21 1994 On a sunny summer morning, seven year old Marshall Elks was playing outside in his front yard. He was surrounded by two houses. One was vacant and the other had a troublesome neighbor. He lived in the town of Checker which is a suburb of Melody. Marshall was slightly short for his age, skinny and had straight, blond, almost white hair. He lived with his mom; Leah and dad; Barry. They were your typical suburban family people. Leah would spend her days watching soap operas, cleaning the house, and socializing with her girlfriends. Barry worked at a warehouse in the city of Melody, but would spend his free time either in the arms of Leah or playing with Marshall. They were not people to cause trouble and they did a fine job raising their son. The only problem they ever had to deal with was their neighbor, Boyd Bachmann. Constantly, he was causing problems with them. He had frequently thrown cigarette butts and empty beer cans in their yard, harassed Leah, and even beat Marshall on several occasions.

As Marshall was playing in the backyard, his mother was inside talking on her cordless phone to Barry who was on his lunch break at work. They were discussing their plans for the evening. The pay phone had run out of call credits, so affectionately they said their goodbyes and hung up.

A few minutes after, Marshall came in and said, “We have new neighbors coming in.”

Leah went out to greet them. It was a single mother and her daughter. Marshall and Leah walked over to them and introduced themselves.

Leah spoke, “Hello my name is Leah Elks, and this is my son Marshall.”

The woman replied, “Hi, nice to meet you. I am Nadine Rayne and this is my daughter, Elizabeth.”

Marshall looked curiously at Elizabeth as she smiled at him. She was eight years old, had auburn hair and very pale skin.

Leah looked at Nadine and asked, “Is there anything that you would need right now. If you need anything, I would be happy to help you in any way.”

Nadine replied, “Well, if you really want to, could you help me unload all of my fragile glass items?”

Leah agreed, and started to walk over.

Elizabeth added in, “Could I go play with Marshall?-PLEASE”

Leah and Nadine looked at each other then smiled and agreed.

“Stay in the backyard, Elizabeth,” Nadine said with concern.

Leah added in “That goes for you too, Marshall. Now you two watch over each other.”

Elizabeth then took Marshall by the hand and they went play. While unpacking; Leah and Nadine began to talk as if they were old friends.

Nadine said, “I am so glad you helped me, Leah, I haven’t had a friend in a long time.”

Leah replied, “Well, I would like it if we could be friends.” She paused, then continued “You seem like a very decent person and a much better neighbor than the jerk who lives on the other side.”

Nadine simply smiled as she said, “My daughter and I have really been through a lot over the past few months and we are here to hide from my ex boyfriend.” She paused and then continued, “After my husband died I grew lonely. Our daughter Elizabeth should have been enough to fill in the hole he left, but I guess I foolishy didn’t realize that. I guess for years of not having a man I grew very desperate.” She paused, then continued, again, “I found a boyfriend, who at first, seemed wonderful. Unfortunately, not long after, he beat the daylights out of me and Elizabeth. I wasn’t hurt that badly, but Elizabeth has slight brain damage from the trauma. That is why she is a little slow and somewhat overweight.”

Leah began to have tears in her eyes as she said, “My God Nadine, that is horrible.” She hugged her then continued “Why haven’t you gone to the cops?”

Nadine replied “Unfortunately, his family has connections with the sheriff; they won’t doing anything to stop him.” Nadine paused, then continued, “I am so sorry if I am disturbing you or unloading all my problems on you.”

Leah answered, “No, no, don’t worry about that. I am your friend, or at least I would like to be.”

Nadine smiled and then said “Yes, I do consider you a friend. I am glad to have one like you.”

They hugged each other and continued unpacking.

In the course of the conversation, Nadine said, “The cable installer won’t hook up my service today. I wish I could see my stories.”

Leah replied, “I like to watch the stories too, I would be happy for you to come watch them at my house.”

Nadine smile,d and then said, “Thank you. They are one of the few escapes I have from reality .”

After unpacking, Leah and Nadine went in the den and watched TV.

Marshall and Elizabeth were playing in the back yard unaware that Boyd was watching them. He was sitting on his driveway; drinking beer and watching their every move.

Elizabeth was soon full of freshly mowed grass and itching. She asked Marshall to scratch her back.

He did so instantly.

She then said “Thank you Marshall. Can I pay you back with a kiss?”

Marshall said, “Sure, I would like that.”

Elizabeth giggled and kissed him on the lips. Boyd started to approach the property line with an unjustified anger.

Elizabeth asked, “Who is that?”

Marshall answered “That’s Boyd, he is my mean old neighbor. He used to beat me when I was younger.”

Suddenly Boyd began to confront them.

Marshall began to shake.

Elizabeth gave him a hug, then kissed him and said, “Oh, Marshall don’t worry about that mean man. Just walk to my house where he will leave us alone.”

She took him by the hand and began walking him to her mother’s new house.

Suddenly, Boyd bellowed at them, “What the hell do you little bastards think you are doing? You know damn good and well that boys and girls are not supposed to play together!”

Elizabeth replied dismissively “What we are doing is none of your business.”

Boyd roared at them in reply, “Come to me now, little girl. I’ll teach you to talk to me like that. I am going beat your ass.”

Marshall began to tremble as Elizabeth shouted, “No I will not come to you.”

Boyd began charging at them.

Marshall then said, “Let’s get out of here!”

Elizabeth nodded and they ran into the Rayne’s house locking the door behind them. Both caught their breath and let out a sigh of relief.

“That was close, huh!” Elizabeth said.

Marshall replied, “Too close. I am glad that he couldn’t get me this time.”

Suddenly there was a loud banging on the door, along with Boyd yelling “Little girl, you better open this damn door right now!”

Hurriedly Elizabeth and Marshall ran into the her mother’s study room and hid under the desk. They held each other tight as Boyd continued to beat on the back door. Finally the banging stopped as Boyd grew tired and left. From the stress of getting away from Boyd, they were also very tired. Marshall and Elizabeth fell asleep under the desk.

Back at the Elks’ house, the stories on television were ending for the day. Nadine headed back to her house. As she went turned the door knob; she discovered it was locked. She reached in her purse for the house key and unlocked the door. Suddenly she realized that her daughter and Marshall were not in the backyard. Nadine walked all over the house, frantically looking for her daughter. Finally, she came upon the study room and saw Marshall and Elizabeth holding each other under the desk. She placed her hand on her heart and also breathed a sigh of relief.

She watched for a moment, then quickly went back to the Elks house and got Leah, telling her, “Get a camera, if you have one. It’s so cute, Elizabeth and Marshall are snuggling together, under my desk.”

Leah got her Polaroid camera and took several pictures of them.

Both mothers looked at them snuggling, then quietly continued to unpack.

They continued unpacking the belongings until finally the hour of five in the afternoon. Barry was coming in from work and Leah greeted him with a hug and a kiss. She then showed him the picture of Marshall laying down next to Elizabeth.

“That’s my boy!” Barry said happily as he kissed Leah once again. He then walked over and gently tapped Marshall on the shoulder.

Marshall woke up and screamed, “Don’t hurt us Boyd. Leave me and Elizabeth alone.”

Barry calmly held his alarmed son and asked, “What’s the matter Marshall?”

Immediately he calmed down and said “Nothing, I guess I had a bad dream.” Barry took his son home and they ate dinner. Meanwhile Nadine gently woke Elizabeth up and they ate dinner, each a Banqet Spaghetti and Meatballs entree.

After dinner was over, Elizabeth told her mother, “There is a mean man who lives on the other side of Marshall. He came after us today, because I gave Marshall a kiss on the lips.”

Nervously, Nadine asked her daughter, “Did he touch you in any way?”

Elizabeth answered “No, he was about to beat us up, but me and Marshall ran inside the house and locked the door behind us.” Elizabeth continued “He started banging on the door, so we went hide under the desk.”

Nadine said, “That must be why Marshall screamed about Boyd when his dad came pick him up.”

Elizabeth nodded then said, “Marshall said that the mean man beat him up several times when he was younger.”

Nadine then said, “I think we need to go and talk with Marshall’s parents, we can’t have that crazy man bullying you or Marshall or anyone else.”

Elizabeth replied, “I think so too.”

With that they both walked over to the Elks’ house.

Nadine knocked on the door.

Leah answered and asked, “Hey, it’s good to see you again. What’s going on?”

Nadine answered, “It seems there is a problem with your neighbor. I think his name is Boyd.”

Leah replied, “Well, I am not surprised at all. What did he do now?”

Nadine said “Boyd got his draws in a wad because he saw Elizabeth kiss Marshall. He then threatened to beat them.”

Elizabeth continued, “Yeah, and I told him what me and Marshall do is none of his business. He came running after us, until we ran inside my mommy’s house and locked the door.”

Leah called for her husband, “Barry, come see.”
Immediately Barry came out of his workshop and into the kitchen then asked, “What is going on?”

Leah replied, “Boyd is making trouble with the Marshall again and now Elizabeth. He threatened to beat them, simply because they were kissing in the backyard.”

“Durn it! I am sick of that jerk trying to boss the whole neighborhood around. Who does he think he is? If he touched my son again, he will have hell to pay.”

Leah said “Calm down Barry, he didn’t strike Marshall this time, but he sure tried.”

Barry said “Well, that tears it! Boyd has gotten away with way too much. I think the three of us need to go there and confront him.”

Leah nodded in agreement.

Nadine asked, “Can Elizabeth stay here with Marshall while we go? I think they would be safer if they were together.”

Both Barry and Leah nodded in agreement.

Leah said, “I think Marshall would like that. He has grown so fond of Elizabeth already. They are so cute together.”

Nadine smiled and said, “Yes they certainly are.”

Marshall was playing in his room when his parents called him down.

As he arrived Barry said, “Son, Ms. Nadine, your mother and I have to go tend to some business. I want you and Elizabeth to watch over each other, and play nice while we are gone.”

Marshall smiled from ear to ear, so did Elizabeth.

Leah added in, “Don’t open the door to anyone except for us.”

Marshall and Elizabeth nodded in agreement.

Nadine, Leah and Barry then walked over to Boyd’s property. Barry rang his doorbell and he answered them in a mean and drunken state. He angrilly asked them, “What do you dumbasses want?”

Nadine angrily answered, “I want you to never lay a hand on my daughter. I know you tried to earlier today.”

Barry continued “And I am sick and tired of you trying to beat my son. I thought I made it crystal clear to you in the past; you have no right to do anything to my child. If you don’t want to listen to me, I will call the cops and have them re-iterate it to you.”

Boyd angrily replied, “Let me tell all of you that I don’t want to see your children acting like little perverted animals. I don’t want trash like you people bringing my property value down because of the way your kids act. I am good friends with the sheriff. Keep it up with me, and I will call him. OCS will take your children way because you let them carry on like dogs in heat.” Barry answered him “Look you imbecile, what my child or anyone else’s child does is none of your business. AND if you want to talk about bringing down the value of property, you do a fine job of that being the filthy drunken pig you are. How many times have you thrown cigarette butts and empty bear bottles on my property. My child could cut himself on the glass. It’s all you who brings down the value of this neighborhood, but no one else wants to stand up to you!”

Boyd grew extremely angry and socked Barry in the jaw knocking him to the cement floor. Boyd then said “Now, if any of you confront me again, it will be a hundred times worse. Now get your asses off of my property before I get my shotgun.”

He then kicked Barry and latched the door. Leah and Nadine helped Barry up and they walked home in defeat.

Meanwhile; Marshall and Elizabeth were inside home alone.

Elizabeth asked Marshall “Could I give you another kiss?”

Marshall replied with giddiness, “Yes, I would like that.”

She kissed him, on the lips, then he kissed her forehead. Both were greatly attracted to each other, if one could call it attraction.

Marshall asked her, “What would you like to do?”

Elizabeth answered “Let’s go up to your room and play with your toys.”

Marshall nodded in agreement then walked her up to his room, as he said, “We can listen to the radio,” as he pointed to his Blueberry Realistic Brand Flavoradio.

“Then we can dance with each other,” Elizabeth added in, then asked “Would you even want dance with me?”

“Of course.” Marshall said turning on the radio. He extended the antenna out and tuned the dial around until he found a station playing music.

“Yay!” Elizabeth said with excitement.

As if they were two adults, they held each other and danced on the bedroom floor and they kept on until the grownups rang the doorbell. Both Marshall and Elizabeth came down to answer it.

Marshall asked, “Who’s here?”

His mother replied, “It’s us Marshall, you can let us in.”

Marshall undocked the deadbolt and opened the door. Nadine, Leah and Barry all walked in.

Marshall saw the bruise on his dad’s face and asked, “Dad, what happened?”

He replied, “That good for nothing Boyd punched me in the face.”

Marshall replied in anger, “One day, when I am a big man, I am going to beat the living daylights out of Boyd.”

Barry smiled at his son.

Leah giggled for a fractional second. Her laughter was quickly replaced with hot anger towards Boyd as she looked at her husband’s bruise.

She then spoke, “Baby, let me put some ice on your face.” She prepared a dish towel with some ice cubes and handed it to her husband, then they all sat down at the kitchen table. The two children and the three adults all began discussing the situation about Boyd.

Leah said to Marshall and Elizabeth, “Now, kids, if you two want to play together, go in each others room or somewhere safe inside.”

Nadine nodded then said, “Boyd won’t be able to see you and he certainly won’t be able to touch you.”

Barry interjected with frustration, “It is a shame that our kids have to play inside, it is as if we lived in some ghetto.”

Leah looked at Barry and then said, “I know, I know, but you know how corrupt the sheriff is. If he is friends with Boyd and Boyd is our enemy, there is a potential for much trouble on our end.”

Nadine said “The sheriff will only protect those he knows. He also persecutes anyone who disagrees with his cronies.” She paused in distress, then continued “I have to tell all of you something, but promise me you won’t repeat it. After my husband died, I met a man. He became my boyfriend, but he was very abusive. One night he took us into the woods and started yelling at me. He then beat me. Elizabeth being the wonderful daughter she is screamed ‘Don’t do that to my mommy.’ He then drew a gun and told us to lie on the ground. He forced me to the ground and cuffed me, then beat me with a large branch and raped me, in front of Elizabeth. I blacked out, but what he did next was so horrible. He took Elizabeth and pistol whipped her in the head. After he was done he slammed her to the ground. He then un-cuffed me and drove off as he said if an evil laugh, ‘We are done, but if you ever tell anyone about this, I will kill you.'” Nadine paused then continued “He said ‘Don’t try going to the cops either. I know the sheriff personally I will find out and you will wish you had never been born.'”

Barry and Leah were shocked and horrified at what was just told to them.

Barry asked, “Did he do anything sexual to Elizabeth? Because other the state police might come to our aid if he did, despite what the sheriff thinks.”

Elizabeth added in, very frankly, “No he never did anything like that to me, just my mommy. He would beat me though if she didn’t sleep with him.”

Nadine then said, with a tear in her eye, “That is why Elizabeth is like she is, but she has a heart of gold.”

Leah went over and hugged Nadine while she said, “I am so sorry, Nadine. If ever you need to vent about this, come over and talk to me. I will try my best to listen and help you.”

Nadine replied, “Thank you, Leah, you are a true friend.”

Barry said, “Sounds to me if your ex boyfriend knows the sheriff and Boyd knows the sheriff, we are all on the brink of a living nightmare.”

Both Leah and Nadine nodded in a dsitressful agreement.”

Elizabeth then said, “Let’s try not to think about that but instead enjoy our company.”

“You’re right, baby girl,” Nadine replied.

Nadine looked at Marshall, then said sternly, “You know Marshall, when you and Elizabeth start school, the other kids might harass her. I hope you will stand by her then too.”

Boldly, Marshall said, “Of course I will. I’m not a popular kid either, but I think Elizabeth is really pretty and sweet. If any kids pick on her, they’ll have to answer to me!” Marhsall then took off his shirt and made a fighting stance.

Barry smiled with pride and said, “That’s my boy!”

Leah added in, “Don’t hit any girls that pick on her, though.”

Marshall replied, “I know. Instead, I’ll just kiss Elizabeth in front of them and say how Elizabeth is better and they could never have me.”

Leah beamed and said, “That’s my sweet boy!”

Elizabeth kissed Marshall in front of everyone, then spoke, “You make me the happiest girl there is, Marshall!” She kissed him again.

The grownups all smiled as they sat at the kicthen table.

Marshall and Elizabeth sat together on the kitchen floor.

They talked on into the night, as if they were all old friends. Finally, Leah looked at the clock on the microwave oven told Marshall, “Time to go to bed.”

Elizabeth interrupted and asked “Can I kiss Marshall goodnight?”

All of the grownups laughed then, Leah said “Sure, hurry up.”

Whole-heartedly, Elizabeth hugged Marshall tight, then kissed him on the lips.

The grownups giggled once more.

Nadine said, “They are so cute together.”

Barry added in, beaming with pride, “That’s my boy.”

Nadine then continued, “I just hope that Elizabeth can live a normal life after what my ex boyfriend did to her. I know she has brain damage, but we have her teachers and doctors helping her.”

Leah added in, “Let’s just say Marshall and Elizabeth end up together. If he is as sweet to her as he is now, I think they can lead a normal life.”

Nadine answered, “That would be wonderful.” She paused, then said “Well we better get going.”

Leah answered, “Well, come back soon.”

Nadine answered, “I sure will, thank you for being a friend Leah.”

“Sure thing, anytime,” Leah replied.

And with that Nadine picked Elizabeth up and walked home. After putting her daughter to bed she sat down in her living room with a glass of red wine and watched the television.

Not long after, Leah and Barry went to bed.

Leah told Barry as she turned out the light, “I am proud of you for standing up for what is right, I just wish we could get back at Boyd for hitting you like that.”

Barry replied, “I didn’t see it coming I guess, otherwise it would have been him on the floor and not me.”

Leah replied, “No Barry, then you would have gone right to jail, or worse, gotten shot, remember he is friends with the sheriff.”

“That corrupt sheriff is the one who belongs in jail. That goes for Nadine’s ex boyfriend as well. They ought to take him hang him up by his nuts and then pour honey and red ants all over him. I can about imagine what Nadine is going through. If anyone did something like that to Marshall, I would slit his throat with a good heart.”

Leah stifled him as she said, “Watch your temper, Barry!”

To which Barry replied, “You know I am passionate about protecting my family.”

Leah giggled and asked, “What else are you passionate about?”

He replied “You.”

They at once became intimate.

Later on in the night, Barry and Leah awoke to hear Marshall screaming, “Get out of my room Boyd.”

Barry came in with a 3D Maglite flashlight, actually thinking Boyd was in his son’s room.

He shined his flashlight at his son and said “What is going on?”

Marshall was now awake and said, “I had a night mare that my wall facing Boyd’s house was gone. Then he had walked into my room and was fixing to beat me and Elizabeth. He wanted to beat us because we were dancing in my room.”

Barry said, “Well thank God it was only a dream. Are you okay now son?”

Marshall replied “Yes I am okay now. It seemed so real.”

Marshall closed his eyes and then said, “Goodnight dad.”

Barry smiled and said “Goodnight son.”

At the same time, Nadine woke up to hear Elizabeth screaming, “Leave me and Marshall alone Boyd. We are just dancing and it is none of your business.”

Nadine walked to her daughter’s room and said, “What is the matter Elizabeth?”

She was shaking and said, “Boyd was trying to beat me and Marshall because we were dancing together.”

Nadine replied, “I think you just had a night mare.”

“It seemed so real,” Elizabeth said.

Nadine commented, “I wouldn’t put it past Boyd.”

Elizabeth was falling back to sleep when Nadine kissed her and said, “Goodnight Elizabeth.”

“Goodnight Mommy,” She replied.

Wednesday June 22: The next morning, after Barry went off to work, Leah invited Nadine over for coffee. They were sitting down at the kitchen table discussing different matters when Boyd came up in the conversation.

Nadine said, “You know my daughter had a night mare that Boyd was trying to beat her and Marshall, because they were dancing.”

Leah set down her coffee cup in disbelief as she spoke “Really? Marshall had a similar dream too. He was screaming blue murder for Boyd to get out of his room.” Barry retrieved his Maglite flashlight, because he actually believed that Boyd was in the bedroom. When Barry walked in, Marshall had completely woke up and said something about Boyd was trying to beat him and Elizabeth. What strikes me as odd, is that he too said something about him and Elizabeth dancing.”

Nadine said “Oh, I have read that certain people who have strong emotional ties to each another can experience similar thoughts and dreams-at the same time. I know they are getting close to each other and they are so cute together.”

Leah added in “Wouldn’t it be something if they ended up marrying each other when they grow up?”

Nadine replied “Yes it would be something. I would be happy for them because they would have experienced no heartache, since they found each other at such a young age.”

Just as Nadine finished talking, Marshall was waking up and walking into the kitchen.

Leah asked him, “Hey Marshall, is Elizabeth your girlfriend?” Marshall simply nodded his head, blushed awkwardly and smiled from ear to ear.

Nadine added in, “Are you going to marry Elizabeth one day?”

“I sure hope so,” Marshall answered, blushing even more.

They both laughed and then Marshall said, “Speaking of Elizabeth, where is she?”

Nadine replied, “Oh, she is sleeping, but it is time for her to get up. Do you want to go to my house and get her up?”

Once again Marshall smiled from ear to ear and nodded his head.

“Come on, I’ll walk you there,” Nadine said, then took her house key out of her pajama pocket, as they walked over to the house. Nadine and Marshall walked into Elizabeth’s bedroom.

Gently, Marshall kissed her on the forehead and said “Good morning, beautiful. Time to wake up.”

Elizabeth rubbed her eyes and then realized who was waking her up. She then smiled from ear to ear and pecked Marshall on the cheek.

Nadine giggled at them and they all walked out of the room. The three of them headed back to the Elks’ house.

On their way walking Elizabeth said, “Can me and Marshall play together again today?”

Nadine replied, “Yes you sure can, but I want you and Marshall to play inside, on account of Boyd. The good have to suffer for the bad unfortunately.”

Elizabeth replied, “That’s all right as long as Me and Marshall can play together, I would feel safer if Boyd couldn’t get to us, anyway.”

They arrived back at the Elks house, Marshall and Elizabeth went up to the bedroom.

Leah and Nadine sat in the kitchen and continued talking.

“I’m glad Elizabeth has found someone who makes her happy. She has been through a lot, but it seems that Marshall brings that bright smile back to her face,” Nadine said.

Leah replied, “It is good that they have each other because Marshall needs someone to interact with.”

Nadine nodded, and they continued to talk on through the morning.

Up in the bedroom Marshall and Elizabeth were sitting in the window seat enjoying the view, well except for the fact that Marshall’s window faced Boyd’s house. They saw Boyd sitting in his driveway on a lawn chair drinking beer. Quickly they backed from the window seat and decided to play with one of Marshall’s toys. They opened his back pack and found his Blueberry Falovradio.

Marshall said, “We can listen to music while we play.”

Elizabeth nodded and continued looking through his back pack until she found Marshall’s green and pink Power Ranger figures.

Elizabeth smiled and said, “Look it’s Tommy and Kimberly. We can play like I am Kimberly and you are Tommy.”

Marshall nodded and then asked, “Who is the monster we will be fighting?”

Elizabeth giggled as she answered “That’s easy, we can pretend that Boyd is the monster.”

Marshall nodded and laughed.

They turned the radio on and began to play with the action figures when Leah walked in the room to check on them.

She asked, “What are you two playing?”

Very matter of factly, Marshall answered “We are playing Power Rangers, I am Tommy and Elizabeth is Kimberly.”

Elizabeth added in “Yep and Boyd is the monster we are trying to defeat.”

Leah laughed and then went downstairs to get Nadine. They came back up and Leah told Elizabeth, “Tell your mom what you and Marshall were playing.”

Elizabeth repeated, “We are playing Power Rangers, I am Kimberly, Marshall is Tommy and Boyd is the evil monster.”

Nadine covered her mouth out of shock but began to laugh out loud, then asked, “How are you going to defeat Boyd the monster?”

Elizabeth replied, “The Pink Ranger is going to run away from him and Boyd is going to chase her.”

Marshall continued, “Then Boyd is going to start running really fast and the Green Ranger is going to trip him. Then he will fall down and explode.”

Both of the adults giggled hysterically. They played until the hour of Nine AM, when Leah and Nadine came up to feed both of them breakfast.

Nadine and Elizabeth left the house but not before Elizabeth gave Marshall a kiss.

After Elizabeth and Marshall were done eating breakfast, this time Marshall came over to the Rayne house to play. He brought his transistor radio with him, so they could have music to dance too. Marshall entered Elizabeth’s room and they sat down on her mattress together and talked for a while.

Elizabeth asked Marshall, “Are you my boyfriend?

Marshall smiled brightly and said “Yes.”

Elizabeth then asked, “Even though I am slow and chubby?”

“Of course, I want you forever! And I think you’re beautiful!”

“Are we going to get married when we grow up?” Elizabeth asked.

Marshall kissed her and then said “I would love for us to get married.”

Elizabeth smiled sweetly and hugged him.

Marshall then asked, “What do you want to do now?”

Elizabeth replied, “Snuggle and kiss you.”

The air conditioning unit was running at full blast in that room, so it was quite cold in there. Both of them were shivering. They covered under Elizabeth’s blanket, then kissed several times.

Marshall then told her “You have pretty hair. Could I play with it?”

Elizabeth nodded in agreement.

Marshall began to run his fingers through her hair, gently.

She said “Oh, I like it when you play with my hair, Marshall.”

He kissed her on top her head.

There was a moment of silence, until Marshall asked “Why don’t we listen to my Flavoradio?”

Elizabeth smiled and said “Okay. That would be nice.”

Once again, Marshall pulled out the antenna and tuned the dial around.

He picked up The Pretenders singing “I’ll Stand By You”

Elizabeth said “This could be our song.”

Marshall kissed her and said “This is our song.”

They listened to the lyrics as best as they could. Elizabeth said “You know I was beaten, and now I am messed up in the head and I’ve also gotten fat, which makes me hurt so much on the inside. I try not to show it though. When I am around you Marshall, I feel better. I want you to be my boyfriend forever. I want you to stand by me.”

Marshall kissed her again and said, “I will. I want to stand by you forever.”

Elizabeth threw her arms around Marshall and said, “Hold me tight.” They held each other for a while as Elizabeth cried slightly. She was thinking of what her mom’s ex boyfriend had ruined her life, but also how wonderful Marshall was to her.

Nadine walked in on them and saw Elizabeth with tears in her eyes.

She asked “Elizabeth, what’s the matter sweetie?” She replied “I am hurting because of what your ex-boyfriend did to me. But I also have tears of happiness because Marshall is kind to me.” She paused then said “When me and him grow up, I want to marry him.”

Nadine covered her mouth and was holding back tears herself. She then collected herself and asked Marshall “Do you want to be her boyfriend and no one else’s?”

Marshall nodded and blushed. Nadine continued “Well I am very happy about that. Just make sure you two are good to each other.”

Marshall and Elizabeth sat up in her room until it was lunch time.

Marshall went back home and Elizabeth was fed by Nadine.

After Nadine and Elizabeth finished eating lunch, they went shopping at the Service Merchandise in Melody.

Nadine needed some small appliances and housewares. Marshall stood in the driveway watching them leave and anxiously waiting their return.

Leah came out and said “You miss Elizabeth don’t you?”

Marshall nodded and then said, “She is my girlfriend and she belongs with me.”

Leah said “Well, you come in. I don’t want Boyd making trouble with you.”

Marshall agreed and walked in.

He went up to his room and sat in the window seat. Marshall listened to his Flavoradio, hoping for the song ”ll Stand By You” to come on. He listened to hours, but it never came on. He saw Boyd walking to his driveway and sitting down to drink beer. Immediately he walked away from his window seat, as he didn’t want to be seen. Marshall laid down on his bed and shined his Mini Maglite flashlight up at the ceiling for a while. It came bundled with the bigger Maglite his Dad owned and had bought two summers ago after a tornadic thunderstorm had knocked the current off. He was sad being away from Elizabeth. He began to look in his backpack where he kept all of his toys. He found his set of Realistic FM walkie talkies.

Marshall said to himself, “I could give one of these to Elizabeth, and we can talk to each other from our rooms.” He checked both of the radios for a 9 Volt battery. Thankfully, each radio had a battery installed. Marshall smiled and tested both of them out, to which they worked perfectly. To keep himself busy until she came back, Marshall pulled out his tape recorder. He knew it would be a good idea to tape himself, then give it to Elizabeth as a message.

He pressed the record button, held the microphone to his mouth and began to speak, “Elizabeth, I am so happy that you are my girlfriend. I am so sorry that you had to go through all of those bad things. I want to make you feel better. I feel sad when we are not together. I want to be yours forever. Every time we hug and kiss; I feel wonderful. I wish we could play outside in the grass like the day we did when we met. I wish I could protect you from Boyd. I love you Elizabeth.”

After recording the tape he placed it in its jacket then in his bag. Marshall then went to the other side of the house where he could see Nadine and Elizabeth coming in from shopping. For about 45 minutes he waited. Finally he saw Nadine’s Dodge Caravan coming down the driveway. Marshall walked down with the tape and the two walkie talkies. He greeted Elizabeth and they kissed. He then gave her the tape and one of the walkies. He told her before you go to bed tonight, listen to this tape. Then you can call me over the walkie talkie. We can talk until we fall asleep.

Elizabeth smiled brightly and then asked, “What’s on the tape?”

Marshall replied, “I have message from me to you.”

Elizabeth kissed him again and said, “Thank you for the gifts.”

Nadine called Elizabeth and said, “Come help me unload everything.”

Elizabeth then asked, “Can Marshall come too?”

“He sure can,” Nadine replied.

Nadine opened the back door to her mini van and said, “Now you two bring the goods to my kitchen table and be VERY careful.”

“OK, Mommy,” Elizabeth replied, then continued “Come on Marshall, let’s get to work. After that we can go to my room.”

For the rest of the afternoon, they sat up in Elizabeth’s room playing and talking; kissing and hugging. Nadine checked up on them every so often and sometimes had to fight back tears. The way Marshall brought back the smile to Elizabeth’s face and the way Elizabeth gave Marshall someone to interact with, brought plenty of happiness to Nadine. If it was not for the problem with Boyd, Nadine was willing to admit that her life was wonderful again. It was now time for dinner, so Marshall went home.

As he left, he told Elizabeth “When the clock on the cable box says 8:00 PM turn you radio on and call me. We can talk until we go to bed.”

Elizabeth’s eyes twinkled and she kissed him.

Marshall went home and then ate dinner. Both sat in their dens waiting for the cable boxes to display the time of 8:00 PM. Hours crawled by. Finally, Marshall went up into the loft and turned his radio on.

A minute passed then Elizabeth’s voice came crackling in.

He smiled as they began to talk.

Elizabeth spoke, “What you told me on that tape was really sweet. I am going to keep it close to my heart forever.”

Marshall replied “I meant every word of it. I am your boyfriend and I am going to be the best boyfriend ever.”

Elizabeth replied “I wish I could kiss you right now.”

Marshall replied “Tomorrow we will kiss.”

“Yes we will,” Elizabeth said happily.

There was an awkward silence, followed by a sudden sequence of dial tones. Both were startled.

Soon they heard Sotty’s voice. In fright, they continued to listen. They could only hear his voice and not the voice of the other party.

He spoke, “Hey, I know it is late, but I have a favor to ask you.” Boyd continued “My neighbors have young children and they allow them to act innappropriately. They hug and kiss each other and I find they play inside together a lot too. It is disgusting and it is bringing down the value of the neighborhood.” There was another pause and Boyd spoke again “I would like you to send some of your boys out to just watch them, see if you can arrest them for anything.” “Okay, thank you. That should show those sick bastards.”

They then heard a disconnect tone and Boyd was gone.

Elizabeth came in over the radio “Do you think he is gone?”

Marshall replied “I don’t know but I think you need to tell your mom and I need to tell my parents what we heard.”

Elizabeth replied “Yes, let’s go tell them now.”

They both signed off of the radios.

Marshall walked out of the loft and saw his dad watching television in the den. In distress, he walked up to him and said “I was talking to Elizabeth on the walkie talkies and we heard Boyd talking on the phone. He was telling someone to have his boys watch over the neighborhood because of the way me and Elizabeth play together.”

Immediately Barry took the remote and turned off the TV and spoke with anger, “That control freak has gone too far this time.” He paused then said “Leah, please come see, quick.” Leah came in and Barry continued ” Boyd is plotting against us. Marshall tell your mother what you just heard.” Marshall repeated the events.

Meanwhile Elizabeth went to her mom and explained the situation.

Nadine told Elizabeth, “This breaks my heart and it will break your’s and Marshall’s as well, but until all of this blows over, you two will have to stay apart.” Both burst into tears and hugged each other. Nadine then said “I am going to call Leah and Barry.” At the Elks’s home, the phone rang.

Leah looked at the ID screen and answered “Hey.”

Nadine asked, “Did Marshall tell you and Barry what he heard on the walkie talkies?”

Leah replied, “Yes, Barry and I were just discussing it. I am in complete anger and disbelief that Boyd is plotting against us. I wish we could get a lawyer or something.”

Nadine replied “I am afraid for my life. What if my ex boyfriend finds out where I live?”

Leah spoke in total distress, “I don’t know, I wish there was a way we could protect ourselves.”

Both broke down in tears and hung up.

Nadine, still crying, said “Elizabeth, maybe you and Marshall could send each other a tape recording of each other, every day but you two cannot play together or talk on those walkies. It will get better once school starts though, then you will see each other everyday.”

Elizabeth ran to her room crying.

Back at the Elks’ house, Barry was talking with Leah and Marshall, “I think I know how I can handle the situation. There is a young man I work with, his name is James Ryan. He listens to a device called a police scanner, . It allows anyone to hear what the police are talking about on their radios. As soon as I see him tomorrow, I will talk to him about what I need. I would call him tonight, but it is late.”

THURSDAY June 23 1994: Marshall woke up at 10:00. He sat in his room bored and miserable. He wished he could be spending his time with Elizabeth, but due to Boyd’s hateful actions, he couldn’t. Likewise, Elizabeth was sitting in her room, crying.

Nadine walked in the room and asked “What’s the matter, baby girl?”

She replied “I miss Marshall. He is really nice to me and I want him to be my boyfriend forever.”

“I know, I know.” Nadine said as she hugged her.

Elizabeth continued, “It seemed everything was going woderful and I find Marshall, but that mean old Boyd stops us from being together.”

“I know what I am going to do,” Nadine said.

Elizabeth asked, “What?”

Nadine continued, “I am going to call Leah and see if we can get together and take you and Marshall to the park.”

“You really will?” Elizabeth asked with excitement.

Nadine smiled and said, walking to the phone, “Of course I will. You and Marhsall should be able to be together one way or another.”

Nadine dialed the phone.

Leah recognized the caller I.D. and picked up, “Hello?”

Nadine said, “Are you talking on your cordless phone?”

Leah said, “Yes, hold on, I will switch to the corded one.”

Leah swapped the phones.

Nadine continued, “How is Marshall?”

Leah replied, “Very sad, all he does is lay down in his bed.”

Nadine said “Elizabeth is crying her eyes out here and wishing that she and Marshall could play together.” She paused and then continued “What if we all went to the park? Boyd won’t be able to see us .”

Leah replied “Sure that sounds wonderful. I am going to tell Marshal the good news and have him get ready.”

Meanwhile Barry was at work on his coffee break.

James was walking by drinking a bottle of orange juice.

Barry said, “Hey James, come see.”

“What you got, Barry?” He asked.

Barry continued, “I have heard you have a device which can pick up the police. I want one and would like your advice on how to work it. The cops are making trouble with my neighbor and I am trying to help her.” He paused and then said “She is a widowed mother and has already been through plenty.”

James asked in disgust, “What could they possibly want with her?”

Barry replied, “We live in Checker and that should tell you enough about the sherriff there. He can be quite corrupt.” Barry paused and then said “My neighbor on the other side of me doesn’t like the lady I was telling you about. Unfortunately he is friends with the sherriff. I am trying to be prepared for my family and her and her daughter’s sake.”

James said “Well, I would be happy to help you my friend.”

Barry asked “Could you tell me where I would be able to get one and how much it would cost?”

James said “They are sold as Radio Shack and a good one costs between three and four hundred, unfortunately that is what you need these days.”

“Durn it.” Barry said.

James continued, “I have a charge account at Radio Shack I can buy it for you on time. Just pay me back and it doesn’t have to be all at once. I have money-I guess it’s because I am young and single.”

“That is true.” Barry said, then continued “But my wife and my son are my world and you don’t know what you are missing.”

“Maybe you’re right. I just want to find the right girl though before I make any committments.” James said. He paused, then asked “Do you want to go to Radio Shack on our lunch break?”

Barry said “Sure, that sounds like a plan.” He paused then asked “How ’bout I buy you lunch?”

James said “Nah man, don’t worry about that.”

Barry replied, “No I insist. We can go to Subway and I will get you a foot long sandwich of any kind. It’s even in the same mall as Radio Shack.”

“Well all right, that sounds good to me.” James answered. He finished his bottle of juice, looked at his watch and said “Well, I have to get back to work.”

“Yes, I do too. Thanks again.” Barry said and shook his hand and punched back in.
Where I plan to go with this:

Later that day:
Barry buys a scanner, a Radio Shack Realistic Pro 2022 on James Ryan’s charge account.

They then eat at Subway. Barry buys James a Footlong Turkey Breast while he eats a Footlong Honey and Ham Dijon.

When he gets home, he installs it in his kitchen. He talks to James on the phone on how to program it properly.

Later on in summer:
Barry is listening to his scanner and hears the cops talking about their plan to plant drugs on Nadine and her house. He tells Leah and Marshall. Quickly they warn Nadine to leave as soon as possible. She grabs Elizabeth and a few of their belongings then gets in her car and leaves. This is a very emotional good bye for Elizabeth and Marshall. They don’t see each other again until the summer of 2003.

Barry confronts one of the cops and warns him how he knows what the sheriff is up to. He threatens to alert the feds and reminds the young deputy about the potential loss of his job. Barry also describes Nadine’s situation with her abusive boyfriend she is trying to hide from. Deputy comes to his senses and goes with Barry and Leah.

By this time though, Nadine and Elizabeth are out of contact with the Elks…

Back to “Works of Fiction”

A Review of the Streamlight Pro Tac 2 AAA Tactical Penlight

Just for the record, I do not own the featured image on this page. It is actually the property of Streamlight Inc.

Since my teens, I have been a self-taught computer technician.

I had become considerably proficient at fixing computers in my early twenties and by my thirties, people are frequently coming to me for a repair or at least consulting me for advice.

I guess I can say that I am a computer nerd. And I am proud of it!

However, there are those that want to make trouble with people like me.

And then there are those who just want to make trouble.

There are people like these even in the best of workplaces.

Then there could just be someone off the street who wants to commit a robbery, I mean computer equipment is very valuable and computer repair equipment is also somewhat valuable.

How does one defend oneself against such a belligerent individual?

I mean, they are probably more fit physically and carrying a weapon of any sort is at best heavily regulated and at worst downright illegal.

Meet the tactical flashlight!

Specifically, meet the Streamlight Pro Tac 2 AAA model, which this piece will be a review of.

I have owned three of them, but misplaced two.

I bought my first one in January of 2018, then another in March of 2018 and my current one in March of 2019.

I EDC my current one with the rest of my computer repair tools for self-defense purposes, rather than general or specific illumination.

This neat little flashlight is slightly longer and thicker than an ink pen, meaning it can be tucked away in a backpack or purse and not noticeable until needed.

The Streamlight Pro Tac 2 AAA can be programmed to three different configurations, which is a feature known as “TEN-TAP® Programming.” The three different modes are:

1. high/strobe/low

2. high only

3. low/high

I have kept mine set on the default high/strobe/low configuration (more on why in a bit.)

The LED light engine has somewhat generous specs, at least for its hardware setup:

High Mode features a 130 lumen 70-meter beam, runs for 1.75 hours and has a beam intensity of 1,230 candelas.

Low Mode features a 20 lumen 30-meter beam, runs for 13 hours and has a beam intensity of 230 candelas.

Strobe Mode runs 3.5 hours and is available for signaling help or disorienting an opponent for defensive purposes.

This flashlight is somewhat water-resistant and has a rating of IPX7 which means the unit is waterproof to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes.

It is also impact forgiving and was tested to withstand a fall from a height of 2 meters.

It is constructed of a very durable and abrasion-resistant machined aluminum with a Type II Mil-Spec anodized finish.

The openings are O-ring sealed to keep harmful fluids out.

The glass lens is more robust than say a polycarbonate lens.

It is 5.62 inches (14.27 cm) long and weighs 2 ounces (57g) with batteries installed.

So how is this flashlight a potential self-defense instrument?

I will explain:

First off it is made of a hard Aluminum.

Then, the front bezel is scalloped making a semi-sharp striking weapon.

Finally, it features a strobe which can disorient an attacker, especially in darkness.

The idea is one knows he or she will near any trouble makers to have this flashlight in a place where it can be quickly deployed.

Then if confronted by a violent or threatening individual, especially in the dark, the idea is to activate the strobe, which is done by two quick presses of the switch and shine it in the opponent’s eyes. As the opponent shields his or her face, the next step is to either run away and get help, or to stike the opponent as hard as you can with the scalloped bezel. Places to hit would be the face, eyes, throat or temple as hard as you can. When the impact is made, push and turn into the point of impact as this will break the skin and cause more pain and therefore more stopping power. There are a few videos on sites like YouTube that can show how to execute these movements with better precision and effectiveness than what I am simply describing on my blog. Yes, this methodology turns a small flashlight into a potentially lethal weapon. The good part is that, while it is not considered a weapon legally, it, therefore,may be carried almost anywhere.

Also for the record, I am not liable for any criminal or legal penalties you, the reader, may incur for using this as a weapon. Take my advice and the advice of others at your own risk.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that punishes people for simply defending themselves, even against armed and dangerous criminals. This is a curse that seems to be falling onto the entire Western World.

However, it is better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

I would advise using this only if the opponent is wielding a weapon, has battered you first or has demanded your property.

This is meant to be a defensive, not an offensive weapon.

Still, it can be a legal equalizer without the red tape, obligations, and requirements of a concealed carry weapons permit.

My one complaint about this flashlight is the faulty pocket clip.

That design needs to be completely redone, as it was the faulty clip that malfunctioned and caused me to misplace my first two.

I keep my third one in a dedicated compartment of my EDC backpack with my computer repair tools and if I felt the need to carry it, I would not clip it to my pocket but rather store it deep in my pocket.

I wish the LED could also be at least 200 lumens instead of 130, but that I pushing it, I get it.

All in all, I give this product a 4.75 out of 5 stars because of the faulty pocket clip.

If the pocket clip were as robust as its 2 AA sibling, I would give it a full 5.

This, therefore, concludes my review of the Streamlight Pro Tac 2 AAA.

I hope you, the reader, have been informed and entertained…

Back to “Product Reviews”

A Review of the Victorinox Cyber Tool S Swiss Army Knife

For the record, I do not own the featured image. It is the property of Victorinox.

As I’ve frequently mentioned before, I am a self-taught computer technician.

Repairing computers is one of my more useful hobbies.

Since July of 2018, I’ve added to the items that I everyday carry when working on computers.

I still have everything previously mentioned except for the Baval branded case, which broke on me-I was sorely disappointed.

In addition to the Incandescent Mini Maglite (which is carried with these items just for general personal lighting in a post EMP situation), a Texas Instruments TI-36 X Pro (which is for assisting a computer programmer or computer scientist, though probably overkill), an Energizer HardCase Inspection Light (for looking inside a tower or mainframe while it is running) the usual USB flash drives and a Victorinox Cyber Tool S (which is for actually having to open up a computer and what this piece will be a review of.) I have since added an additional flashlight, a 2 AA Streamlight ProTac in march of 2019 (mainly for personal illumination protection should I be needed to work on a computer in a shady area or be confronted by a trouble maker in any area.) These items are all kept in a dedicated compartment of my Wenger SwissGear EDC backpack.

I have been using Swiss Army Knives on and off since 2005.

I purchased this particular Swiss Army Knife (a Victorinox Cyber Tool S) in 2018 and it is currently my favorite one.

I use this mostly for when I am working on computers, but I will also open a canned meal with it or if I have to cut something open. Though the blades are some of the sharpest steel I’ve ever encountered, I wouldn’t advise using this for self-defense purposes unless nothing else is available. I see this as much more of a tool for nerds than a weapon for a fighter.

This is what Victorinox had to say about its awesome product, “We took the traditional Officer’s knife functions and added tools like a bit wrench to match new standards in the electronics industry. And that legend continues into the digital age with the CyberTool pocket knife. It’s everything you need to become a superuser.”

Victorinox is a very reputable manufacturer, that should be common knowledge. I mean they’ve been around since 1884. And Victorinox is a Swiss firm, which I believe the Swiss are the world’s finest craftspeople, change my mind! For the record, I am not Swiss, but I do indeed admire them as a people and a sovereign state. I’ve purchased their products many times before and they have always served me well. Furthermore, I have used this particular product frequently in conjunction with my computer repair hobby, so I completely and wholeheartedly agree with their aforementioned statement. The MSRP is 75 American Dollars. Yes, Swiss goods come at a premium price, but they are worth every single penny. Swiss Army Knives easily outperform and outlast all of their East Asian knockoffs and are a hair above their American-made Leatherman counterparts, or so I’ve read. The Swiss take pride in their work, probably more than anyone else, so their products are indeed superior so that is why they have a premium price tag. I justify this purchase because I use my computer repair hobby to assist others, especially since many times cannot afford a new one. Probably the most important lesson I learned at the high school I attended was the importance of being kind to others and I do get a tremendous amount of happiness when I can be a blessing to my fellow human being.

This handy gadget is 4 inches long, 0.8 inches thick and has a net weight of 3.4 ounces. This means that it is lightweight and compact enough to be carried in a pocket and not noticed until needed, but offers a plethora of useful items when deployed!

In addition to the main features of large blade, small blade, corkscrew, reamer, punch, and sewing awl, can opener, screwdriver (3 mm), bottle opener, screwdriver (6 mm), wire stripper, key ring, toothpick, straight pin and tweezers found on many medium sized Swiss Army Knives, there are also the following implements which are indispensible for all computer technicians: a pressurized ball point pen, a precision screwdriver slotted bit which fits onto the corkscrew, a slotted screwdriver bit (size 4), a Phillips screwdriver bit (size 2), a Phillips screwdriver bit (size 0) (Pozidrive), a Phillips screwdriver bit (size 1) (Pozidrive), a Torx screwdriver bit (size 10), a Torx screwdriver bit (size 15), a bit case, a bit wrench, a female Hex drive (5 mm) for D-SUB connectors, a female Hex drive (4 mm) for bits, a Hex screwdriver bit (size 4), and a Torx screwdriver bit (size 8.)

The handle is made of a red translucent plastic known as Cellidor, which means it could easily be located in a backpack when needed.

Actually, Swiss Army Knives are mostly red because there is a lot of snow in Switzerland and they need to be easy to locate should they be dropped in the snow! Probably also the colors of the Swiss Federation are red and white.

This is the least expensive of all the Victorinox Cyber Tool models, yet it has everything I need and even things I probably won’t need, but are still good to have.

The most useful implements in relation to computer repair are the Philips, Hex and Torx Bits. Of course, the Hex wrench that drives these bits is equally important.

These bits have just about every size needed to open up a computer and even a disk drive for the most advanced of users!

Honestly, if Victorinox could make a Cyber Tool without any knife implements, but instead had those important bits and a high capacity flash drive (such as 128 GB or 1 TB) where the knife blade would be, I would definitely save the money and buy it. The reason why I could want such a high capacity flash drive is to store all of the image files of the Linux distributions that I download. Also, if such a tool existed, it could be taken to school without the owner catching a charge and on a plane without getting confiscated. This would be a hit with IT students, professionals and even amateurs like me.

As I’ve said before, the knife implements are some of the sharpest steel I have ever seen and felt, but I would much rather a flash drive in their place.

The can opener implement would, of course, be useful for getting lunch out of a can in the break room or just to have should the power fail and one needs to eat canned food.

The bottle opener implement would be useful for drinking beer or high-quality soft drink after a stressful day when all the equipment had a mind of its own.

The wire stripper on the bottle opener implement would be useful for any computer technician should he or she have to assist maintenance personnel with wiring a receptacle or switch.

And I could take or leave the corkscrew, but I fully understand it could have a use when opening that bottle of bubbly to celebrate a career milestone.

The precision screwdriver bit that attaches to the corkscrew could be used to perform minor repairs of eyeglasses on the fly, Lord knows most computer repair people both amateur and professional will need some sort of eyewear because of all the reading of screens, components and motherboards that ages the eyes prematurely.

I don’t have any complaints about this product whatsoever, I just wish a more legal version was available.

This, therefore, concludes my review of the Victorinox Cyber Tool S.

I hope I have been informative and entertaining.

Back to “Product Reviews”

All of the Industrial Grade Flashlights I’ve Owned-Written from 2013 a Conversation on CPF

Back in February of 2013, I was consulted on Candle Power Forums because I had frequently talked about industrial grade flashlights on there.  So I sent a private message detailing all of the industrial grade flashlights I had owned up to that point.  I had recently added to the list since it was dated.  At some point in 2015 or 2016, I had switched to more tactical models, but I still have extensive experience with the industrial models and they will always have a place in my heart.

 

Without further ado, here is the piece:

 

“…Well, I like the explosion proof models most. I don’t know why except for the fact that they are common in my area (South Louisiana.) We have plenty of sugar refining, oil production, grain storage, chemical processing and people working on boats. Incandescent explosion proof flashlights are significantly dimmer than a flaslight with a Krypton bulb. This is because the surface temparature of a bulb filled with a noble gas is much hotter than a vacuum bulb. This keeps the flashlight’s temparature below the ignition point of the hazardous dust or vapor that it is approved to be used in. I try to buy only American Made lights, but I have experience with both. IMHO I find smooth reflectors out preform faceted ones. I don’t know who brilliant idea (sarcastic) was it to start making those durn things. I will attempt to list, describe and review every industrial flashlight I have ever owned or used.

Rayovac Industrial 2D (1990’s version.) I have had mine since February or March of 2000. It is actually the flashlight that I have had the second longest. It has always preformed wonderfully and has a uniform beam. It came with a powerful, high quality PR Krypton bulb. It is American Made. Bought it from Wal-Mart when I was 13. Faceted reflector.

Eveready Industrial IN-251 (1990’s version.) Made in Macau. Incandescent. I had one for over a year from 1994-1995. From what I remember, it was VERY bright for its time. I remember one night I was playing in the backyard at dusk and my neighbor [and uncle by marriage] was coming in from working in the shipyards and I shined it at him from about 200+ feet away. He acknowledged it by shining his bigger and brighter flashlight at me. He also likes flashlights, in fact it was him who gave me my first flashlight. (playskool 2c lantern.) This was probably the flashlight that made me interested in industrial flashlights. The bulb blew finally and instead of buying a new bulb, my mom bought me an Eveready Value flashlight (the good 1980s-90’s version.) Came with a high quality PR bulb. Smooth reflector.

Eveready Industrial 1151 (very similar to previous model, 2000’s version) Made in China and no where near as good as the 1990s version. Bought several around 2007-2008. Unless I got used to brighter lights, this one seemed dimmer. Faceted reflector.

Rayovac Industrial MSHA (1990’s/2000’s version.) I bought one at an aviation supplier and hangar in 2006. It preformed just like my original Rayovac 2D, just not as bright. This is because it uses a standard PR bulb and not a Krypton bulb. I lent it to my aunt during Hurricane Gustav and never got it back. Smooth reflector.

Eveready 1251 (2000’s version.) I’ve had several of these and I plan to buy another. It is American Made. Almost as good as the Rayovac Industrial 2D from the 1990s. It also uses a high quality Krypton PR bulb, but is slightly dimmer. This is because of the contact point at the bottom of the bulb socket. It easily gets oxide on it and that comprimises the connection. Produces a uniform beam. Bought it from my local NAPA auto parts store. I gave the damn thing away. Faceted reflector. UPDATE: I also have a few of the 1990’s versions of the Eveready 1251 and I must say that they are brighter somehow and just look cooler in general.

Eveready 1259 2D and 1359 3D (1990s versions.) I currently have each. They are not as bright as their Krypton counterparts, but they have a much better connection system at the base of the bulb socket. Instead of a Copper or Bronze contact at the base of the bulb socket, it has a stainless steel wire coil. This makes a very solid connection and with fresh bulbs and batteries, it produces a decent amount of light for its class. They are both American Made. It does not produce an even beam and that is about the only drawback for a light in its class. Got the 1359 off ebay and the 1259 from Motion Industries. Smooth reflector.

Bright Star 2618 2D Incandescent (2000’s version) and 2618 LED (2010s version.) American Made (shame.) At first they seem like very good flashlights, especially for their price. BUT stear clear of them! Their switch mechanism, though replaceable, lasts only a few weeks with regular use. I bought the LED version a few weeks ago. Very bright and efficient (40 lumens for 200 hours,) however it also has a failing switch system and gave out within about a week. The good news is that Koehler-Bright Star stands by their products. They sent me a 2217 LED as a replacement. This one has a much better switch and also the LED engine that gives off 40 lumens for 200 hours. The Incandescent came with a high quality PR bulb. The LED produced a perfect beam. Got the 2618 LED from Bright Guy and the 2618 Incandescent fro Motion Industries. Faceted reflector.

Bright Star 2217 2D Incandescent (2000’s version) and 2224 3D (2000’s version.) They have a much better switch system than the 2618. It is more rugged and doesn’t move as much. I have had the 2D for almost 3 years and the 3D for almost 2 years. They are starting to flicker, but ONLY because I tampered with them and shouldn’t have. If I would have left them alone, they would still be working wonderfully. American made and came with high quality PR bulbs. Got them from Motion Industries. Faceted reflector.

Bright Star 1618 2D (1950’s version.) This is the ancestor of the 2618 and works almost infinitely better. It has a similar, but much better switch system than the modern 2618. It also has better contacts at the base of the bulb and metal rings pressed into both ends. I gave mine away because there was something on my shelf that ate the lens. These are getting harder and harder to find and many times they cost much more than what they were worth when they first came out. I personally call it the “Kel Lite of Industrial Flashlights.” It was American made and produced a very uniform beam. Also came with a high quality PR bulbs. Got it off ebay. Smooth reflector.

Eveready 330 2D (1970’s version.) This is American made and produced a decent beam. It worked fine in lieu of its age and came with a high quality PR bulb. Got it off ebay. Smooth reflector.

Railtek 992-321-AG Trainman’s Lantern 6 Volt 908 (2000s or 2010s version. Both LED and incandescent. Has a screw base Krypton bulb which has a specific model number. I am trying to look it up but the site seems to be down or slow. I have no idea what is the country of origin. It was given to me by a railroad dispatcher whom I initially heard on my scanner than looked up online. I have it as a shelf queen, so I don’t know how it would preform under harsh conditions. Supposedly they are very rugged since they are used by conductors and brakemen which are exposed to some of the roughest conditions a job can present. Faceted reflector.

Duracell Industrial-I was given this by some BNSF Railway maintenance of way workers. I seriously don’t know what the issue with this light is. It comes with a decent quality Krypton PR Bulb. The connection is very stable, but there has to be some kind of loss of current in circuitry. But it only gives off 6 lumens on a fresh set of batteries. It is made in Thailand. Beam is dim and ringy. Faceted reflector.

Garrity R300G 2AA Mini Rugged Lite (1990’s version.) It looks like an industrial flashlight and it could be used as an industrial flashlight. It is, however, also marketed to consumers and even children. This was my favorite flashlight growing up. It was made in 1994 and I got my first one in the summer of 1998 (age 11.) I’ve had several of them over the years. They were made in Macau. Garrity is now back in business and I will strongly petition them to bring back this flashlight again. It came with a VERY high quality Krypton PR bulb. Had a ringy, but very focused and uniform beam. The rings were produced by the Fresnel lens. These are now EXTREMELY rare and a fellow CPFer mailed me one. May God immensely bless him. Smooth reflector.

Energizer Hardcase 6 Volt 908 lantern (2006.) Made in China and built like a tank. It floats too. IIRC, it came with a Xenon PR bulb. Could have also made a good self defense weapon. Got one in the summer of 2006, but lent it to my now ex in laws and never got it back. Smooth reflector.

Energizer 4 AA Hardcase swivel flashlight (2000’s.) Made in China. Decent brightness. smooth reflector. Built like a tank.

Rayovac Workhorse 2 AA (1990s version.) Made in Malaysia. Focused, neatly ringed beam. Bright, Krypton PR bulb. I bought one when I was 12 and had it for years until I lost the spring. I even EDCed it on and off as a child and teenager. Smooth reflector.

Garrity G600G G-Tech Floating Lantern. Made in Thailand. This is not as rugged as an industrial flashlight, but it still rugged enough for the outdoors. It has plenty of features to brag about. High quality Krypton PR bulb. Strong, decent beam. I personally called my “fisherman’s lanterns.” I had two of them, [my now ex-]wife bought them for me at West Marine, two of the last three on the shelf. Faceted reflector. UPDATE: My divorce was semi-nasty and I gave back just about everything she gave me, including these lanterns. I told her to give them to her nephews.

Bright Star 575 2D made in USA, shame. (been around for a long time.) Do NOT buy one of these, unless only for shelf display. One of the flimsiest flashlights I have ever laid my hands upon. smooth reflector. I honestly don’t know how these railroad journeymen put up with such a flimsy flashlight, but it is very common among railroad electricians.

Lumilite Industrial 5451 with push button switch 2 AA. Made in China.  Bought one in the late winter of 2004. It lasted until about 2007, then began to flicker. Don’t remember too many details.  Faceted reflector. How do these railroad journeymen put up with such a flimsy flashlight?”

UPDATES (not in orginal text):
Eveready Commander Lantern (1970s version.) Made in Hong Kong. This was probably the flashlight that sparked my interest in flashlights. My Paternal Grandpa (God rest his soul) carried one on his job and also used it into retirement and there is a picture of him showing it to me as an infant. It produces a sharp beam, especially when the PR-13 is upgraded to a KPR-113. It is reasonably rugged, constructed of HDPE. It has a white riveted sliding switch.

Rayovac Industrial 2 D flashlight (1970s version.) Made in USA. I am not sure of the model number, but have one in near mint condition that was supposed to be company issue for the Kansas City Southern Railway. I could see it being rugged enough for an engineer, but not for a journeyman or conductor. However, it does cast a sharp beam and it is bright enough with fresh batteries. It has a smooth refelector and a Fresnel lens. Constructed of rugged enough PP.

Star 292 Conductor’s Lantern (current version): Made in USA. It seems to be built rugged enough, but the internal circuitry is very delicate, so don’t tamper with it. It runs on a 6 Volt 908 lantern battery and has a light for both signalling and car inspection (both KPR113 bulbs.) I’ve had mine since May or June of 2017.

Star 2012 Conductor’s LED Lantern (2012 to present version): Made in USA. It also seems to be rugged enough and the internal circuitry is all electronic, which adds to the ruggedness. It too runs on a 6 Volt 908 lantern battery, but is all LED. There are dedicated LEDs for both signalling and inspection or they could all be turned on. This is probably the most expensive industrial flashlight I own and I keep it as a shelf queen.

Energizer HardCase LED 2AA and 2AAA (mid 2010s to present version): Made in China, but built very well. Bought in December of 2015 and July of 2017, respectively. I use these for working on computers and other electronics. I mist admit the they are rugged (constructed of ABS.) They are also very bright and give off a pure white light. These are one of my favorite Energizer products.

Garrity Tuff Lite 2D and 2AA (1980s and 1990s versions): Made in Thailand. These are built very well and come with high quality Krypton bulbs. I’ve had my 2D model since Christmas of 1998 and it is the flashlight that I’ve had longest! Many men in my neighborhood also had these. The newer Garrity Tuff Lites (starting in 2004, or so) don’t hold a candle to these.

Garrity Power Lite 2AA (1990s version): I’m not sure the country of origin, but I bought a four pack of them in late 2017. They seem to be built fairly decent and cast a sharp pin point beam. They are fitted with Krypton bulbs and have a slide switch system in addition to a monentary on off button. I’m not sure though how much abuse they can withstand, and I imagaine they are on the fence between industrial and consumer grade. They do come with a Fresnel lens and a smooth refelector.
I hope I have been helpful. I hope you, the reader, have been informed and entertained.