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Hi, May I Help You, Please

November 25, 2022 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,
Photo by Mike on Unsplash

I was sixteen and working my first job at Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers. We were a lively crew. Jerry had the front register, Juanita and Javier were making sandwiches and scooping fries, Greg had the grill, and I was on the back register.

It was a hot day, scorching hot, hot as only Texas does hot, when the big boss, the district supervisor, left his skyscraper in Dallas and drove down to inspect and grade us. He didn’t know, and didn’t care, that we enjoyed the camaraderie of our team, took pride in our work, and routinely invited our family and friends to come to the restaurant. His opinion of us was all too clear in the way he strutted about, his huge smile never touching his eyes. It didn’t matter that the restaurant ran like a well-oiled machine; we were lazy hoodlums that needed to be whipped into shape. After he’d chastised Jerry and the others for trivial mistakes—I believe Javier wasn’t properly using the pickles to spread out the ketchup on the bun—the district supervisor meandered on back to my register to judge me.

Just so you know, I might have inherited a bit too much Texas ornery, Texas gall and Texas stubborn. Of course, I personally don’t think a person can have too much ornery. And gall, life is just plain boring without gall. Stubborn though . . . well . . . stubborn does tend to get a person into trouble.

Ding.

I stepped on the pedal. “Hi, may I help you please?”

Through the speaker came a broad Texas accent I easily recognized, “Yeah. I’ll have fries, a large Sprite, a single, with cheese, tomato, everything and extra ketchup.”

Reader, are you paying attention? The customer said, “Everything and extra ketchup.” Javier, standing not ten feet away, ears pricked to the speaker, laid a bun open on the sandwich board. Greg dropped a single patty of meat dripping melted cheese onto the bottom half of the bun.

I wrote the order down on the outside of the takeout bag. Fries, lg sprite, single, cheese, tomato, everything, no mustard, no mayonnaise.

Right on cue, know-it-all-supervisor-guy spoke, “He said extra ketchup, not no mustard, no mayonnaise.”

I didn’t bother to turn my head and look at him. No, that would’ve been polite. Instead, I opened the bag and put it on the end of the sandwich station and spoke with my back turned toward him. “But he meant no mustard, no mayonnaise.”

Without seeing the supervisor’s face, I knew his fake smile was history. Tension vibrated from his body. After all, time was running out. The car would begin rolling forward any second. If he wanted to clarify the order—

“Ask him if he wants mustard and mayonnaise.”

At the sandwich station, Javier never paused. He kept right on making the sandwich—with no mustard and no mayonnaise. I always liked Javier. Juanita dropped the fries into the open sack and gave me a wink.

The district supervisor repeated, “Ask him if he wants mustard and mayonnaise.”

“I will not,” I said, pulling the drink. “He’s already given me his order.”

The beast shoved me aside and stepped on the pedal. “Sir, would you like mustard or mayonnaise on your sandwich?”

The customer’s loud Texas twang echoed through the speaker, “NO! I told ya, I only want ketchup!”

I tried and failed, to keep the grin off my face. Javier chuckled as he put the neatly wrapped hamburger in the bag.

Yeah, we were only teenagers, working a summer job for minimum wage, but we knew how someone from our hometown ordered a hamburger.

You know, that big boss, that supervisor guy from the corporate office, he didn’t say another word to me all day. Sometimes you’ve just gotta love that Texas stubborn.

Kidd has stories in the following anthologies.

Kidd Wadsworth is also the author of the fantasy novel “The Death of Magic” which you can now read for FREE at https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/59915/the-death-of-magic

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Get Me Outta Here!

October 25, 2022 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , , , ,
Photo courtesy of Olga Guryanova on Unsplash

Get Me Outta Here!

by Kidd Wadsworth

We arrive at 6 am. I sign a piece of paper which informs me of the risks of my day procedure using phrases such as “unforeseen side effects, including death.” A plastic bracelet is secured around my wrist. Promptly at 7 am, I kiss my husband goodbye and follow a stern-looking nurse through a side door. She points me to a changing room.

“Nothing on underneath. Only the gown.”

I obey.

She takes my clothes, my shoes, my underwear. I am left barefoot in a nearly see-through gown I hold shut in the back with a tight grip on the gaping cloth.

“Lay down.” She points to a narrow bed on rollers.

Again, I obey.

Three seconds later, I have a tube in my arm. Another nurse takes my blood pressure and my pulse. “Did you have anything to eat in the last twenty-four hours?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“No cereal, no fruit, no bread, no banana . . . “The list continues. On and on.

“No.”

“If you’ve had something to eat, I need to know.”

“No, I have not had anything to eat.” Does she think I’m lying?

“This form says that I’ve asked you if you’ve had anything to eat and you’ve said, no. Sign here.”

I sign.

Too late, I realize I didn’t read the form. As she walks away, I almost call her back, but that’s stupid—isn’t it? I mean, why am I so nervous? This is just day surgery.

They wheel me away down a hallway, into an elevator, and then into a room crowded with people. Surely this can’t be correct? This is minor surgery. What are all these people doing here? I count fourteen. Really? Fourteen?

Two nurses or doctors—let’s just call them people in scrubs and masks—strap me down to the table.

Why straps? Do they expect me to try to make a run for it?

“Just relax,” one of the people who had strapped me to the table says.

Does he really think the phrase, “Just relax,” makes people relax? I think unstrapping me might make me relax.

Above me lights, so many lights, perhaps fifteen or twenty, glow brightly, each one with a shiny metal hat to direct the beam. Moving my head slightly from side to side, I intently examine the fixture. Something’s wrong, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Then I realize that although the fixture is polished and highly reflective, I can’t see my reflection on any surface. Someone has deliberately designed the fixture so that I, the patient, cannot see myself strapped down to the operating table.

My heart pounds in my chest.

I gasp for breath.

Calm down. It’s only day surgery. This probably isn’t a horror movie. Surely, they aren’t going to harvest my organs and sell them overseas or implant an alien fetus in my uterus.

Yet, there is something about those lights, as if no one wants me to realize what a precarious position I’m in. Precarious? No, helpless! And the masks? Of course, they are wearing masks. That way I can’t identify them in a police lineup when I finally manage to escape and notify the authorities.

As every instinct in my body screams, “Get out! Get out now!” the nurse/doctor/whatever who had strapped me down, injects something into my IV.

I want to shout, “No!” But I don’t. Afterall, what can I do? I AM STRAPPED TO THE TABLE!

“Count backwards from a hundred,” he says.

I try to control my shaking. “One hundred.” I am so obedient. Why am I so freaking obedient?

“Please keep counting.”

“Ninety-nine . . .”

I’m an educated, adult woman. Why did I allow someone to strap me, nearly naked, to an operating table in a room full of strangers?

Strangers?

My doctor? Where is my doctor? Am I in the right room? What if there’s been some clerical error?

I realize I never read the name on my bracelet.

What if they think I’m someone else? What if they amputate my leg or remove my brain!

 I lift my head, straining to see the thin slip of plastic. I can’t quite . . .

I wake in recovery. Home by super. The operation is a complete success.

Nope, never going back.

Kidd Wadsworth is the author of the high fantasy novel: “The Death of Magic” which you can read for free by clicking here: https://www.scribblehub.com/series/588059/the-death-of-magic/

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NOT GUILTY

September 25, 2022 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth tagged as , ,
Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

———————

To my Writer Friends,

In the following piece, first the reader watches as the trap is set. Then the action is drawn out allowing the reader to fully anticipate the moment when the trap will spring shut. Finally, the climax comes, the poor unsuspecting victim is caught, and we, along with our protagonist, almost feel guilty. I find this type of humor easier to craft than any other form.

Give it a try,

Kidd

______

NOT GUILTY

Kidd Wadsworth

I think I have screwed up DNA. Amidst those A’s, C’s, G’s and T’s I must have a J or an L. You see, I just don’t feel guilty. Nope. Sorry. Well, actually I’m not sorry. I don’t even feel guilty for not feeling guilty.

I suppose it was the 1980s. My dad scores four Ranger baseball tickets. Dad invites me, my brother-in-law Curt and my boyfriend, John, to go with him. On the day of the game John shows up with his mitt.

I grin. “You brought your mitt?”

“I’m gonna catch a ball.”

We have great seats. Right behind the catcher. In front of us, are some Yankees. Not baseball player Yankees, but rather, you know, northerners, fellas rooting for the other team. We give ’em grief, and they give it right back. Yup, we were having ourselves a real good time.

And all the while John sits in the seat next to me punching his fist into his glove.

Now behind us, about 10 rows up are two little old ladies. I mean they are Hollywood type cast: skinny, white-haired, wrinkled, but spry. Nolan Ryan isn’t pitching that night, so the rest of the seats are empty. It’s just us, the Yankees, and the two grannies.

Up to the plate walks this stocky dude. Whack! The ball flies over the backstop and what do you know, the little old ladies catch the ball. I kid you not. I told you they were spry. Twice more he fouls, then strikes out. As the dude hustles on back to the dugout, an evil idea forms in my mind. Being guiltless I can’t resist. It’s like trying not to sigh when you drop into the hot tub.

“John,” I say adding a dose of southern bell to my Texas accent, “would you get me some nachos?”

He looks at me like I’m the stupidest woman on the planet. With that look, his fate is sealed. I mean, I’m guiltless, but occasionally I do take pity on people. But after that look? Poor, poor John.

“How can you ask me for food at time like this?” he says. “Did you see that foul ball?”

I lean in closer. Oh, did I tell you that I’m cute?

“John,” I have the southern belle accent going again, “please.” I draw out the word please until its twelve syllables long. I kiss his cheek. “Besides, this is a different batter. He’s gonna hit that ball somewhere else. You know that.”

He sighs. As he gets up, I say, “Leave the mitt.”

His eyes narrow, like he’s some Neanderthal looking at a creature he’s thinking about killing and having for dinner. I hold out my hand and smile, oh, so sweetly. He rolls his eyes and hands me the mitt. Ten seconds later he disappears behind the stands, and I get up to go talk to the sweet little old ladies. Yeah, you got it. They’re not quite as innocent as they look. I ask to borrow their ball. One shakes her head. The other smiles like the Chester Cat. I return to my seat with the ball tucked into the pocket of John’s mitt. Below me one of the Yankees says, “You’re an evil woman.”

I smile at him, oh, so sweetly.

Two batters later, John returns with my nachos. I’ve still got that borrowed ball snuggled into the pocket of his glove and the glove folded closed around it.

Now, I should pause here and tell you that Dad and Curt haven’t said a word. Dad because it’s Mom’s DNA I inherited and he gave up a long time ago, and Curt because my sister got the DNA too, and Curt believes John needs to be prepared for his future life of agony should he choose to propose.

As John starts to sit down, I proclaim, “John, John, I caught a ball. I caught a ball.” Of course, immediately everyone is paying attention: Dad, Curt, the Yankees, and the little old ladies, but they don’t say a word. No, not one word.

John rolls his eyes. “Really?”

“Yeah. Really. It just sailed over the net.” My eyes go up in the air like I’m watching an imaginary ball. “It came right to me.” Here, I pause, for dramatic effect. “Well, actually it came right to your seat, but I just reached over and caught it.”

“You did?” He rolls his eyes again. I’m getting real tired of that.

“Yes, I caught a ball.” I act all excited.

“You caught a ball.” Again, with the eyes.

“Yes,” I say, like I’m truly hurt that he doesn’t believe me. “I caught a ball.”

“Well, then.” He gets this disgusting smirk on his face. I mean how dumb does he think I am? And he says, “So, where is it?”

My face, my pulse, my sweat glands would have stood up to a CIA lie detector test. I reach into the pocket of that mitt and like I’m so happy I’m about to burst I say, “Here it is.”

Oh, the look on his face. Like a little boy whose puppy just died. I almost feel guilty. Really. I ALMOST did. You know, there was this brief twinge of, of, of . . . something. But it disappeared.

He sinks dejected into his seat. Those Yankees shake their heads. Ten rows behind me I hear smothered giggles. I get up, and as John watches, I hand that ball back to the little old ladies. Everyone bursts out laughing. My stomach aches from it.

Of course, when I try to sit back down, I have to climb over John. He refuses to move his legs. Doesn’t give me any nachos either.


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Signs and Dart Guns

July 18, 2020 by in category Writing tagged as
Kidd for President!

You know those signs on doors? One says “In” and one says “Out”? But exactly half of the time, I think those signs are wrong. Stay with me here. Aren’t you always going “In”? If you’re always going thru the door, and you can’t go thru something unless you’re “In” it, you should always be going “In”. I mean, theoretically, you could be going “Out” once you’ve passed the halfway point. But unless we want the signs to electronically change when we pass exactly halfway over the threshold, we should always go “In” the “In” door, regardless of whether we are entering or leaving a building because we are always going “In” the door itself. These subtleties appear to be lost on sign makers. Many times I’ve been inside a building and I’ve tried to exit by the “In” door. Nope, won’t budge. Inevitably, a bunch of well-meaning people will point to the “In” sign over my head. Yeah, like I didn’t see it!

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with signs most of my adult life. Take those diamond signs that classify chemicals. You know, the ones that say things like hazardous or oxidizer. I love those signs. I think we should use those signs to classify people. The friend who whispers about you behind your back—Toxic. The boss that plays video games on his computer all day. Obviously, an inert substance. How about the person that keeps nagging and nagging until you give in? Corrosive. Then there’s my neighbor—Irritant. Know anyone that’s explosive? I think we should abolish the entire field of psychology and just hire those sign guys to observe people and stick colored diamonds on everyone’s forehead.

But more than bad signage I detest bad drivers. That’s why, in addition to changing half of the “In” and “Out” signs, and hiring thousands of chemists to observe and classify the population, I believe every licensed driver should be issued a traffic dart gun. Here’s my idea. When you get your driver’s license, the state would give you a dart gun with three darts. These darts would have super strong suction cups on the end. When you see someone committing an obviously stupid, illegal, driving maneuver, you’d pull out the ole dart gun and stick one to the offender’s car. Three darts; automatic ticket. See a car with fifteen darts on it? Hey, it’s time to pull over, get out of the way, and let that dude drive on by. I’d even be willing to pay for my dart gun. Wow, a new source of revenue for the state. Need more darts? Make your check out to the IRS.

Why am I telling you all these things? Haven’t you guessed? November is coming up. I’m running for office. Yes, you too can have correct signage and dart guns! Vote for Kidd Wadsworth.

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Writing Truth

June 18, 2020 by in category Infused with Meaning by Kidd Wadsworth, Writing

The elusive goal in writing appears to be the creation of magic moments: the beauty of ice coating the bare branches of a tree in winter, the thrill of racing down a basketball court, jumping, and YES! perfectly blocking an opponent’s layup.

But magic moments are pretend writing, like a little girl playing dress-up in her mother’s high heels and pearls. When we grow up, we write truth. More accurately, we sneak truth by the enraptured reader.

We humans like to feel good—think whole body massages. We covet delicious food: prime rib, strawberries, did I mention chocolate? We seek to be entertained: music drifting through high quality ear phones, comedians doubling us over with so much laughter we cry out in pain, “Please, please stop.” We are hedonists content to drift along on the surface of life. Truth? We don’t want truth, that’s way too much work. So, we writers, ensnare our readers in the emotions of our main character. Then as the character encounters truth, so does the unsuspecting reader.

But so powerful is the art form, that if we write without knowing the truth, sometimes the truth reveals itself. 

Several years ago, I sat across my kitchen table from a wonderful woman as she told me that she had been sexually assaulted. “Well, I was stupid,” she said. “I shouldn’t have gotten in the car with him. I was trained in self-defense, but I…It was really all my fault.”

I gripped the edge of my chair to restrain myself. “It wasn’t your fault,” I whispered. “He committed a felony. He’s a criminal.”

“No, you don’t understand. I had been drinking.”

“Did you say no?”

“Well, yes.” She shook her head back and forth, put her head in her hands, self-disgust in every movement.

“So, you did try to fight him?”

“Yes,” she stood, looking for her purse. “Don’t you see, I knew all these Kung Fu moves.” Her voice got louder with each word. “I should have been able to get free. It was my fault!”

“It wasn’t your fault. He attacked you.”

She found her purse, but not her keys.

“I’ve got some fresh organic lemon. Let me get you some for your tea.” Remembering the cookies, I put three on a plate in front of her, tempting her. “Want some, two kinds of chocolate chips?”

She collapsed into her chair. I brought a box of tissues; gently touched her arm. “Why don’t you write that story.”

“No,” she shook her head. “I couldn’t.”

I tried again. “Perhaps if you wrote it, someone who read it, might stop blaming herself. Maybe she’d realize that what happened to her wasn’t her fault.”

But that’s not what I wanted to say. What I wanted to say was, “Perhaps if you wrote your story, you’d realize the attack wasn’t your fault.”

A few minutes later she made an excuse and left. I get it, even speaking about what happened thirty years ago was overwhelming. But still she doesn’t write her story; she doesn’t write her truth. And I know as I pen these words that she still believes the attack was her fault.

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