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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Family · #806627
Writers Cramp entry 1/25/04
"Fish and guests stink in three days."
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac.

Use the above quote as your inspiration for a short story / poem including guests, at least 2 goldfish and a golf ball.

Gobble Gobble!

“Joe? When are they gonna leave?”

“I really don’t know dear. But, I know they’ll be gone by the end of the season.”

“Oh my!” What more could she say? She knew turkey season didn’t close for another two weeks.

In the back of my mind I wished they were gone already. Who was it that said that famous quote? You know, the one about not being able to go home again? Well he, or she, was right. You can’t go home again and you can’t visit relatives you haven’t seen for thirty or so years either. I was pretty sure that was written somewhere in the Constitution. And Benjamin Franklin was wrong. In our case, our guests started to stink from the moment they arrived.

“Hey Joe, explain to me again what that is in the back yard?”

“The pond?”

“No, no, the other thing. Over there by the fence.”

I looked at the middle aged, pot-bellied balding man standing on my deck dropping cigar ashes into my wife’s flower planters. It was hard to believe that thirty years ago we hunted, fished, camped and chased girls together, sometimes all at the same time.

“Bill, I told you this morning. That’s a model railroad. Could you flick your ashes over the railing? Linda gets upset when her flowers die.”

“Oh sure, sorry about that.”

I watch as Bill flicks the butt of his cigar into the yard, watching it land in the pond, next to one of the lily pads. A startled bullfrog makes a huge swan dive and splats against the rock embankment on the other side of the pond. Several twelve-inch goldfish come up and nibble on Bill’s floating turd of a cigar. “Probably get cancer and die, ” I thought.

“Model railroad? Does it belong to one of the kids? They’re all grown up and gone, aren’t they? I’m surprised you didn’t tear it up and put in some tomatoes and cabbage. Get some use out of the ground. And what’s with that pond? Is that where you’re keeping your live-bait for fishing? Jack thinks you should be keeping snapping turtles in it. They make good soup. Where is Jack anyway?”

Jack was Bill’s older brother, who, ever since he arrived here a week ago, had developed a deep love of our one and only bathroom. After the second day when Linda and I had to hop in the van and drive down to McDonalds to use the facilities we pretty much had figured out why. That didn’t stop Bill from explaining it to us.

“Oh don’t worry about Jack. He’s got some intestinal problems. Probably aggravated by the water around here.” A chuckle and a jab to my ribs drove home the point that he was taking a shot at my chosen occupation, water quality specialist. “ Just give him a candle and a good magazine. He’ll be fine in a week or so.”

I said a silent “Thank you” for listening to my wife last year and installing that commercial exhaust fan in the bathroom. Now if we could only get Jack to use it.

“The railroad belongs to me Bill. I like to watch the trains go round. The pond we built so we could enjoy feeding the fish and listening to the frogs. The sound of the waterfall helps us to fall asleep at night. It’s a little bit of heaven in our backyard. “

I really didn’t expect Bill or Jack to understand. Yesterday Jack kept wandering around the house making train noises and pulling an imaginary whistle. Then he wanted to know if he could snorkel in the pond. They had shown up a week ago wanting to stay at our place while they went turkey hunting. They said they remembered all the turkey that we used to see in the mountains outside of town and that now, since they retired, they figured they had time to hunt them. Neither had ever married. Little surprise there when you look at their personal hygiene habits. Last night Linda came to bed, spittin’nails, “If I sit in the toilet one more time I’m going to be the one bagging a couple of turkeys!”

Only half listening to what she said, I responded, “Dear, don’t you mean on the toilet?” You’d think after twenty-five years of marriage the couch would finally get comfortable. It hasn’t.

At first we figured it would be two, maybe three days, tops. After all we did have an awful lot of turkey around here. So many that nobody really got excited about hunting them much anymore. But it soon became apparent that Bill and Jacks methods for turkey hunting and their marksmanship would make this a long turkey season, unless they were lucky enough to run over a couple of birds with their car.

And then it began to rain.

It was one thing to have Jack and Bill around the house part time, quite another to have them full time. After the third straight day of rain I came home to find Linda in the kitchen singing and preparing supper in a most joyful mood. A quick look around revealed no Jack or Bill. I asked for an explanation.

“They wanted to go golfing.”

“In the rain?”

“Yep. Bill said he remembered an indoor course around here somewhere. I sent them over to Raleigh to play at the Sunnyside course. They’ll be gone for quite awhile.”

“The course down in the valley by the river? The one that floods when it rains and where they close the road when the bridge floods?”

“Yep. Funny thing though, the last thing Bill said on the way out the door was he hoped they didn’t have a windmill hole. Said he can never get his golf ball past it. What do you suppose he meant?”

“Hmmmm…I wouldn't have a clue. What’s for dinner?”

“Turkey, of course.”

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