Friday, December 21, 2012

November Morning

“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day.”
- Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association, December 21, 2012

The pale November sunrise insinuated itself between the slats of the venetian blinds and shone apologetically onto the bed. Gavin stirred and woke as the feeble warmth of the sun hit his face. He tumbled out of bed and took his six-foot tall lanky frame into the bathroom to wash and shave. A pair of resolute steel-grey eyes stared back at him from the mirror as he went over his plan once more. It was flawless.

Once dressed, Gavin had a light breakfast – no coffee today – then headed for the garage. It was a typical suburban garage, filled with a work bench, garden tools, and the accumulated junk of 15 or so years. At the back was a steel cabinet, secured by a combination deadbolt lock.

Gavin surveyed the garage, satisfying himself that its carefully randomized clutter was undisturbed. Only then did he spin the dials on the combination lock. He heard a click as the final tumbler fell into place. He opened the cabinet and surveyed its contents: two Glock pistols, a Bernardelli 12- gauge double-barreled shotgun, and a Remington M-24 sniper rifle with a laser-assisted telescopic sight. And plenty of ammunition.

He took the rifle out of the cabinet and set it on his work bench. Expertly, Gavin stripped down the gun, then cleaned and reassembled it. He mounted the telescopic sight onto the rifle and did some practice sightings to check the laser alignment. Satisfied, he removed the sight from the rifle, unscrewed the barrel from the gunstock, and carefully placed each component into its molded compartment in a foam-lined case.

Gavin checked his watch. He picked up the case, went back into the house, and walked out the front door to his Taurus. After gently placing the case on the floor of the car, he slid behind the wheel. He buckled his seat belt, started the car and carefully drove to his objective – this was no day to get a traffic ticket. Parking the car down the street from his intended destination, he circled the block on foot to look for any sign of trouble, then entered a ramshackle office building through the side door.

Gavin walked stealthily up three flights of stairs and let himself into the room he had scouted three weeks before. He moved the window curtain a few millimeters and surveyed the street below, then looked across the street at the window where his quarry would appear. Satisfied, Gavin retrieved an air mattress from the closet. He pumped it up until it was the correct height for him to assume a prone firing position while resting his rifle on the low window sill.

He glanced at his watch again. “Better get set,” he told himself. “The Bitch will be in my sights in about 15 minutes.” Gavin affixed the telescopic sight and settled himself and his rifle into position. He looked through the sight and satisfied himself that everything was aligned. Ten minutes to go. The hardest part was the waiting. Five minutes; now two.

Wait, there was motion inside the room across the street. Gavin took a deep breath and held it as his target loomed large in the gunsight – the laser dot centered on the President-Electʼs head. Gently, he squeezed the trigger and saw the bullet strike, spattering blood, bone and brains all over the room.

“Nice shooting!”

Gavin jumped, startled out of his reverie, as the gun club manager handed him the paper target. “You hit the bulls-eye dead center.”

©2012 Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.

A Note of Explanation: ”November Morning” was my submission to the 9th round of National Public Radio’s “Three Minute Fiction” contest. The theme of this contest was “Pick A President.” I hadn’t planned to post this story, but changed my mind after reading the transcript of the National Rifle Association’s December 21st response to the Newtown school shooting.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Twenty Candles Snuffed

December 14, 2012.- The following poem is in homage to the twenty children who were massacred today in Newtown, Connecticut.
Twenty Candles Snuffed
Twenty children went to school
On this December day,
Their eyes a-gleam with eagerness
To learn. To laugh. To play.
Twenty children sat in class.
Their teachers stood before.
Twenty children shrank in fear
When Death walked in the door.
Twenty empty beds are left
A testament to homes bereft;
Parents bowed down in their grief,
Filled with sorrow and disbelief.
In twenty Newtown homes this year
The holidays will bring no cheer.
For twenty futures have gone dark.
Twenty candles snuffed.
©2012 Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Still Waters

Canadians are known to be quiet and reserved. Canadians who were born and raised in England make the rest of the population look like wild barbarians. And then there’s Auntie Minnie.

Minnie was the primmest of the prim – a true, proper, English lady, with manners fit for the Royal Court. Everything about her was diminutive: just five feet tall, always soft-spoken, always dignified. Never a hair out of place, her back was as straight as her perfectly vertical stocking seams. Yes, Auntie Minnie was the epitome of British-Canadian comportment – the Dowager Duchess of our family.

When her Grand-nephew, Gordon, decided to take a bride in Toronto, the entire family was invited to his wedding. Although my parents decided to travel by car, most of the Montreal contingent – including Auntie Minnie – chose to take the train. Rumor has it that the wedding party began on that train ride, in the train’s “refreshment” lounge. I don’t know how many bottles of gin, bourbon, vodka and Crown Royal were emptied during that six-hour revel. What I do know – what the rest of us learned after the “gang” poured into the hotel where all of the wedding guests were staying – is that prim, proper, petite Auntie Minnie was the life of the party.

The story of Wild Auntie Minnie became a family legend, epitomized in the bit of doggerel that made the rounds all weekend, and that was sung loudly on multiple occasions during the wedding reception:

My Wild Auntie Minnie,
Remember when she was skinny.
Now look at her today,
All old and gray,
My Wild Auntie Minnie!

Some say that booze will shorten one’s lifespan. But I don’t know. Minnie was only 70 years old when she had her fling; she lived to celebrate her 90th birthday. Still prim, still proper, still petite. And, to us, always our Wild Auntie Minnie.

Sunday, December 2, 2012



I turned at the sound of her soft, yet insistent, voice. “Mais qu’est ce que vous faites dans mon laboratoire?

Yikes! I’d done it again. Meditated my way to another out-of-body experience during my morning tai-chi exercises. It was getting to be a habit. But, today, I had outdone myself. Not only had I traveled through time, I had crossed the Atlantic in the process. And landed in the lab – almost in the lap – of my heroine.

Excusez-moi, Mme Curie,” I stammered. Fortunately, she saw my linguistic distress and asked again – this time in heavily accented English, “What are you doing in my laboratory? And, why are you dressed in those strange clothes? Answer me, or I shall call the gendarmes.”

Quickly, I explained that I was meditating and had no idea how I had landed in her lab, in Paris, on the very day that she and Pierre had succeeded in purifying radium.

“I am not certain that I understand,” she said, frowning in her puzzlement. “But as you are already here, would you like to see my laboratory?”

Enchantée,” I replied, as I followed her. The lab quite resembled the set from the 1943 black-and-white film about the Curies. I was amazed at how well MGM had nailed all the details. Even the little crucible of radium was sitting on its stand, glowing proudly as though it had done something wonderful all on its own.

Suddenly, there was a crash and the sound of loud hammering. “Qu’est ce que c’est?” I exclaimed, shocked back into French.

“Just the construction workers starting up next door,” my husband replied as he walked out onto the deck. “Aren’t you done with that tai-chi stuff yet? It’s almost time for breakfast.”

“And, by the way, when did you learn to speak French?”

I heaved a sigh, whispered an “au revoir” to Marie, and went inside to dress.

©2012 Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.

A Note of Explanation: This prompt (Marie Curie + tai-chi) was the result of a random draw. Each member of the group wrote the name of a famous person on one slip of paper and an activity on a separate slip. The papers were placed into two envelopes, after which each of us drew a name from one envelope and an activity from the other. The challenge was to write a coherent story that included both the famous person and the activity.