A lab technician just wants to go home from work when he finds himself thrust into an abandoned amusement park where he must find specific documents to save mankind.
“Dana?” I asked as I peered through the open car window to verify the picture of the driver on my rideshare app.
“Yes. Sam?” Dana, the rideshare driver, reciprocated the verification and answered hesitantly.
“Yes,” I responded and stepped into my ride share heading home. I could not wait to get home. I had a long day, turning into night at work, trying to get caught up with all my lab sample processing.
“Nice night,” my driver began conversing as I was distracted by my phone. Looking up, I realized we were not moving in the right direction. “Ah, why have you driven off course?”
Pausing and pumping the gas moving us faster, she responded, “This is the course to your next destination.” I reached for the door handle, the doors locked, the windows blackened, and a screen shot down like a guillotine between front and back seats, trapping me. Stopping seemed inevitable, my blood pressure rising with each turn, looking at my watch, we had only driven fifteen minutes before stopping abruptly.
I sat in anticipation, planning for when the door opened. A slam, pausing silence, then a blinding light shone as my door opened to her silhouette where I found myself being dragged out of the car. “Sam, you must find the hidden box containing documents detrimental for mankind. Here are the supplies you will need. You must go alone. I cannot help you. I will be waiting to pick you up. Any questions?”
“Of course, I have questions! What is this? I’m a lab geek, not a secret agent!” I exclaimed.
“You received an email yesterday. You have the credentials to save mankind once you find the documents. Your work as a lab technician is only a cover for what you can really do. We know about your background in cryptology. You are the decipherer.” Dana instructed.
“Dana, this is a mistake. I did not get any email. You have the wrong man. Some of my education is in cryptology, but this cannot be happening…” I implored.
Dana interrupted, “Sam, you are the only one to save us. You have no choice. We have units watching your father if you refuse. He will not be waiting for you if you walk away. Take this bag, enter the gate, and find those papers in a locked blue case. I’ll be waiting…” Dana responded moving into the car quickly, driving off, and leaving me looking up at the entrance to Hubert’s Hoppy Land, an abandoned amusement park that closed twenty years ago.
I walked through the gate thinking, “How hard can this be to find some case in a defunct park?” I walked past the turn-styles and ticket booth to a large, dust-covered map of the park. Removing twenty years of filth, I studied the map areas and rides: Tree Hollow Lane, Firefly Express, Tadpole Junction, and Lily Pad Kingdom to name a few. Pondering what to do first, I felt a nudge in my brain to look in the bag Dana gave me. It contained a knife, a jar of flies, night goggles, a rope, a park map, a pair of boots with a sticky bottom, and a letter. Unfolding it, the note read:
Find the blue case. Do not assume you are alone. These items will be helpful, but you may only use them once. Upon retrieval, use your cell phone to call this number, only once. Remember, “The prince must kiss several frogs before finding the princess.”
“I guess I’m the prince. How did I end up here? Wait, this must be some type of scavenger hunt game my friends planned! Okay, I guess I’ll play along.” I repacked the bag and moved to a sign pointing in two directions. Logical thinking told me to go left, but I felt a prod to move to the right.
As I arrived at the Firefly Express, a train around the park, the sky went darker. I found an entrance hoping to find a clue in one of the cars. The train moved throwing me back onto a seat. “What the…?!” Quick thinking brought me staggering to my feet moving through the cars looking for an off switch because I noticed the track was out just ahead. Holding onto the seats, swarms of fireflies came through with high beam lights almost blinding me. “Goggles!” I screamed, tearing open my pack and putting them on. I could see! Finding the engineer’s station, I pulled the lever hard to an astounding stop, jerking me back. I ran outside to find myself at the top of the park next to Tree Hollow Lane, a log ride.
From the train, I hopped to one of the logs. Hearing sounds, a giant frog, or costumed man, appeared lunging at me as I began dodging him. He came at me again. I pulled out the knife and stabbed him. He limped away, dragging one webbed-footed leg and me losing the knife. Jumping in the hollowed log, I pushed myself and started gliding down the tube-like path gaining momentum. I looked closer and saw years of debris blocking my way where I would crash. My brain on high alert told me to grab the rope. I launched it around a tree branch, swinging myself to the bank landing with an unharmed thud.
I stood up and saw a pond with tons of lily pads waiting for me to hop from one to the other. The map revealed this was Lily Pad Kingdom. “The sticky-bottomed boots, I must put those on.” Slipping them on quickly and with a running start, landing on the first pad, almost sinking, the boots saving me, I kept on leaping until I found stability seeing the castle in sight. “The case has to be there!”
My hopping seemed endless as dozens of frogs appeared springing toward me. They were covering the lily pads where it would be difficult for me to pass. “Wait, the jar of flies!” I tore open the jar and out they came, frog tongues shooting out like rubber bands catching flies as they sprang off the lily pads chasing them. Leaping to land, I entered the castle to find what appeared as a female frog dressed as a princess sitting on something blue. “I get the message now…kiss her, then I’ll get the case, and probably get the girl. I will still have to decipher the documents. This was tough, but I would save mankind! Who would believe it!” Moving towards her, I puckered my lips, only a whisper between us…dizziness…darkness…
“Oh man, I can’t believe I didn’t see the Frog Wizard giving the princess poisonous breath. Darn it, I was right there about to win! So close! Jeremiah, hit reset,” commanded Tommy.
“Okay, do you think your mom will bring us some more juice boxes?” asked Jeremiah.
A sculptor finds love in a coffee shop but faces a dilemma with the truth about the girl of his dreams. Will his Yesterday become his Future or not?
On a breathtaking day in April, Dom left his apartment to walk down to the coffee shop he frequented. The minute Dom walked in, Truman, a gallery owner, he worked with, ran up to him, firing questions like bullets to find out about the latest client he wrangled for him, “So, what was she like? What is she wanting? How much is she paying?”
Dom gave him a look, which he did often, “Chill man.”
“You met her this morning, right?” Truman asked curiously.
“I met yesterday,” Dom returned with an annoyance in his voice trying to find a table.
“Yesterday? You met Yesterday, and you didn’t call me last night?” Truman exclaimed.
A lovely voice approached them out of nowhere, “Yesterday, I am Yesterday.” Both men puzzled, as Dom turned to see the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. “I was saying to my friend I met yesterday. I’m confused…What do you mean you are yesterday?”
Answering with a soft voice, “Oh, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have butt into your conversation. My name is Yesterday. I thought you meant you met me, and I wanted to see if, indeed, I knew you.”
“It’s nice to meet you Yesterday,” Dom holding his hand out to shake with hers never taking his soulful caramel eyes from her gaze, “Oh, uh, I should…my name is Dom.”
“Nice to meet you Dom. I realize now I haven’t met you. What would you like from me?” Yesterday asked reciprocating the same smoldering between them.
Dom, taken aback, “Uh, what do you mean?”
“I mean, do you want a latte, coffee black, tea,” she responded as Dom was hoping she would say me after tea and then realizing she worked here.
“Oh, sorry, I’m kind of in a haze, probably since I haven’t had my coffee. Coffee black will be great, thank you. Did you just start working here?” Dom responded.
“Yes, actually I started yesterday,” as she turned with a wink and a smile, cute dimples and all, to go retrieve his coffee. Dom sat down with Truman to discuss his new client, but he could not get Yesterday out of his mind. “So, tell me how it went with Mrs. Vanhousen?” Truman asked again anxiously.
“Sorry Truman, it went fine. She wants me to sculpt a nude of her and she wants it by August 26th for her birthday party for a big reveal. She is eccentric, extremely rich, and absolutely everything I do not like in people. However, I did take the job. It pays very well.” Dom stated and showed him his notes with the amount.
“Dom, that is awesome! You need to get over your feelings about the wealthy. You keep going at this rate with your art, you will be in that same club. When do you start working with her?” Truman asked.
“I’m heading over there today to start my sketches. With the deadline only a few months away, I want to get started immediately.” Dom replied distracted by wanting to turn towards the counter where Yesterday was standing.
“Dom? Uh, hello Dom? Don’t waste your time on a coffee waitress. You are heading towards bigger and better things. Focus all your efforts on your work. You don’t need any distractions.” Truman demanded noticing Dom was too focused on Yesterday.
“Truman, I’ll get my work done so you can earn your commission. Stop worrying!!” Dom, tipping his hand in a saluting manner to Truman, stood up to leave, looking one more time at Yesterday, planning to come back the next day to ask her out without the condescending eyes of Truman.
Dom arrived at the Vanhousen manor and was let in by her butler to the conservatory. The room contained a turret structure made of glass panes. It was breathtaking with all the exotic plants and flowers. Right in the middle of the greenery was a chaise lounge with a robed woman, Mrs. Vanhousen. “Hello Mrs. Vanhousen, are you ready to begin?” Dom asked.
“I certainly am, Darling,” she said as she stood up and dropped her robe to reveal a voluptuous woman in her late fifties with a healthy body and graying hair that only added to her refined ways, “the question for you though, are you ready?”
Dom blushing, “Of course, this is what I do.”
“You are such a precious artist. I am so excited for this! My husband is so generous to have this commissioned for me to show the world how beautiful I remain after all these years of exercising and luxurious living, even after having my daughter at such a young age and becoming a widow by my first husband at only thirty years old. I have been through so much,” Mrs. Vanhousen added dramatically.
Dom thinking to himself, how fast can I get these sketches done so I can get out of this place. “I’m sorry for your loss, but that is wonderful you have a daughter from your first marriage. From when we talked yesterday, you seem very happy.”
“Oh Darling, I am. You need to meet my daughter some time. She is the spitting image of me when I was her age. She already shows signs of being just like me as she is planning on owning her own business and living here at the mansion where she can be pampered with no cares in the world,” she continued to go on about her carefree life.
“I am sure I will meet her soon enough. We just need to finish up these sketches today so I can begin my work in my studio. I want you to be happy with my art.” Dom replied rolling his eyes in his mind at thinking of how awful, spoiled, and pretentious her daughter must be.
“Sweet boy, with the model you have to work with, this will probably end up being your la obra maestra. I’m fluent in Spanish. I have ordered your lunch to dine with me on caviar, French cheeses, and a bottle of Merlot from our vineyard we own in Napa.” Mrs. Vanhousen kept on where annoyance spun in Dom’s ears.
“Oh, thank you Mrs. Vanhousen, I actually have a lunch meeting to attend, so I’ll have to pass. Maybe another time.” Dom politely declined and hurried with his drawings so he could get the hell out of there. As he drew, he lingered on Yesterday.
The next morning, Dom stopped at the coffee shop on the way to his studio. Excited to see her, at the counter he found another barista and no Yesterday. Dom asked if she was in the back, but the barista told him it was her day off. Dom paid for his coffee walking out glum. He walked to his studio and began working immediately wrapping himself in his work for hours.
Not realizing how late it was, glancing at the clock seeing seven o’clock and streetlights beaming into his windows. Wow, he could not believe he worked that long, he was deliriously hungry. Nothing was in his pantry, so he stopped at his favorite pizza place, Luigi’s. He moved in line behind three people. Knowing it would take a few minutes, he pulled out his phone checking his email. While he was waiting, he heard a sweet voice ordering, “Yes, that’s right, double pepperoni, red sweet peppers, pineapple, and bacon.” Two odd things occurred to Dom, the voice seemed familiar and this woman was ordering the Dom special.
“Name for the order,” the worker asked.
“Yesterday,” she responded.
Dom felt like he was in a world of surrealism, spontaneously he called out, “Yesterday!”
She turned around to see Dom, smiling, and walked over to him.
“You are Dom, coffee black, from the other day?” Yesterday quizzically remembering so not to seem obvious.
“Yes, how are you?” Dom asked grinning.
“Very well, just getting a pizza on my way home. I can’t believe I lucked out living this close to such a great neighborhood pizza joint. I just live around the corner,” she responded.
Dom surprised, “So do I, in the Shane building. What made you…”
“Wait, I live in the Shane building on the third floor. Sorry I interrupted.” She said coyly.
“No worries. Wow, I live on the first floor. How did you come up with that concoction of a pizza?” Dom asked.
“The first time I moseyed in this place, I couldn’t make up my mind studying the menu like it was a test. One of the workers was taking a pizza order, now my pizza order, over the phone and brought me back to reality and later into pizza heaven. Yum! It sounded so good; I told the worker I wanted my pizza from the phone order too. Once a week for the past six months that has been my order.” Yesterday exclaimed.
“This is going to sound weird, but that was my order. I have lived in the Shane and have been coming to Luigi’s for five years. Early on, Luigi, the owner, was the only one working one night and I told him to make me a pie and surprise me. He came out and said this is the Dom special. I have been eating it ever since.” Dom said enthusiastically.
Yesterday added, “Since you haven’t ordered, why don’t we just eat mine here together. I’ll share. I would have just eaten the rest for leftovers anyway.”
“Sure, sounds nice.” Dom accepted and they found a table in a quiet corner, talking excessively until the pizza came, and then talking even more until the place closed at midnight. Dom walked her to their building and up to the third floor to her door.
“Dom, thank you for a wonderful night. Also, thank you for allowing me to steal the best pizza order of all time. I don’t want to share that pie with anyone else but you.” As Yesterday finished, she leaned into Dom as he grabbed her at the small of her back pulling her closer to him and kissing her with the passion that had been encircling his brain about her for the past two days. They parted lips and looked at each other as Yesterday said, “I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.”
“Funny you should say, my name means tomorrow, but it is past midnight, so today is tomorrow and we had our first date yesterday…” Dom quietly said as he left her slowly backing away, then hearing the lock click on her door as he walked down to his own apartment reeling in her charm and all the coincidences that came with this girl named Yesterday.
As the spring turned into summer, Dom and Yesterday were together every day. They both learned almost everything about each other: both were artists, and all they wanted was to share their art with the world to make it a better place. They both loved the simple life and hated excessive luxury. He told her about his project he was currently working on, but did not share who his client was because he did not want to seem negative about her to Yesterday. He also thought Yesterday might get commissioned work from some of the people in this same jet set crowd and he did not want her to turn anything down because of him.
Dom continued working on his sculpture for Mrs. Vanhousen as he was coming close to his August deadline. Yesterday had gone on a trip, leaving him to focus on finishing, but they talked every night. He couldn’t wait for her to come home so they could celebrate.
August 26th finally arrived with Yesterday coming back from her trip that very day, keeping it a surprise from Dom. She knew she could attend an obligated engagement while he went to his party, and then get home before he did and surprise him.
Dom arrived at the Vanhousen Manor where limo after limo was dropping off local celebrities and the richest families in town. He had taken a ride share and walked in the door to find what looked like the gala of the century with decorations galore and waiters with endless trays of champagne and hors d’ouevres. He was handed a glass while he winded his way through the trail of bow ties and sequins to the conservatory to find Mrs. Vanhousen. “OH Darling! I am so happy to see you! I can’t wait for everyone to see ME unveiled.”
“Happy birthday Mrs. Vanhousen. Glad you like it. I am very proud of my work.” Dom gleamed.
“You should be. Here is your reward,” as she handed him an envelope he tucked away in his sports coat. “As promised, my daughter will be here. I know you fancy me, but you will really like her. It’s like she’s my doppelganger in every way. Luxury suits her well. She has been abroad and has returned to me today.”
“Great, can’t wait…” Dom said trying to keep a straight face. All he could think about was being back with Yesterday.
Everyone gathered around the sculpture as Mr. Vanhousen introduced his wife, then she introduced Dom to drop the cloth. He said a few words, pulled the cloth off, and everyone gasped and applauded in joy at the beautiful work of art. As the cheering went on, in glided the most beautiful creature with silver shoes and a silver off one shoulder glistening gown. Aphrodite could not compare. Dom was electrified as he walked towards her surprised thinking, “How did she know I would be here?”
Mrs. Vanhousen ran towards her, embracing her saying, “Dom, come here, this is my daughter, Yesterday.”
Dom’s jaw dropped. Yesterday was a farce, she played him for a fool. To keep his composure, he greeted her, but she said nothing of even knowing him, let alone dating him to her mother. Once her mother was distracted, Yesterday pulled Dom aside, “Dom, I had no idea you were the sculptor my mother was working with. Your work is amazing. Why didn’t you tell me who your client was?”
“Who my client was? What about who you are? I can’t believe I fell for you with all of your talk about hating the rich and luxury was a disgrace. How could you do this to me?” Dom asked devastated.
“All of that was true, please believe me. How could you think I was lying? You don’t…” Yesterday pleaded.
“I feel like I don’t know you at all. You lied about who you really were. You betrayed my love I have for you.” Dom interrupted. After looking at her with locked eyes and discontent, he dropped her hand walking away leaving Yesterday in disbelief and tears.
Several weeks passed and Dom would not answer Yesterday’s calls. Truman asked him to meet at Luigi’s. Dom arrived as Truman said, “I’ve put your order in.”
Dom replied, “Thanks.”
“Dom, you need to either get over her, or call her.” Truman bluntly stated.
“Give me a little time,” Dom sullenly looked down.
Truman replied, “If you aren’t going to give her time to explain, I won’t give you time to sulk. I have talked to Mrs. Vanhousen and you have Yesterday all wrong. She walked away from her trust to make it on her own. Her mother just knew she would come back to her realizing her mistake. Mrs. Vanhousen has been making up stories about her daughter on an extensive trip traveling the world because it makes her feel like she has not done something wrong by Yesterday. Give Yesterday a chance. Hey, pizza’s here.”
Dom still looking down heard, “One Yesterday special for Dom…”
Dom looked up and saw his order was his special pie, but with one extra ingredient – Yesterday. “Thanks Truman.” Dom shamedly said as Truman left the table grinning.
“Dom, I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you about my family, but I am truly the person you came to know. I never thought to tell you who my mother is because I was so sick of the pretentiousness. My last name is not the same because Mr. Vanhousen is my stepfather. I walked away from all that excessiveness and telling you about my family would have just kept me stewing in my feelings about walking away and being independent…I love you.” Yesterday pleaded.
“I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have rushed to judgment before hearing you out. This is all my fault for not trusting who I have spent all my time with for so many months. I love you more than you know. I was a fool for doubting you. I want every one of my todays and tomorrows to always contain Yesterday.” Dom said pulling Yesterday to him and kissing her like he never had before.
It is not kindergarten, or teen angst, or a driver’s license, or a first vote, or a first drink, or a rental car, or an age of “something.”
It is all those things rolled into one leading up to this point on the path of sidewinding life.
Life renews now for something grander than before.
Growing pains have vanished while the lines of wisdom gain momentum with exuberant beauty.
It is a midpoint in this thing we call life counting high towards 100.
Always reaching! Always thinking positive!
It is Tin, atomically speaking, when in its solidified pure state reflects as a mirror seeing the reflection of yourself as “fifty-fifty.”
It is golden, a jubilee of life shimmering as the sun rises at dawn.
It is a collection of states, United that is, where every experience in your life happens somewhere, and is tied to a unique, specific place nestled in the photo box in your mind.
Vision and hearing seem to begin a slow decline with shiny spectacles and louder volume as accoutrements to enhance the evolved view of the wonderful world mixed with the sagacity and savvy plucked along the way.
Thirty was denial, Forty was scary, Fifty is freedom.
Last week, our Kindergartners celebrated the 100th day of school and I wrote this poem for them.
100 School days…
A number larger than ones and tens we would say.
Oh, a number so big!
It even makes us dance a jig.
How much have we learned along the way?
Many colors like red, blue, green, and even gray.
100 words read by bright light.
100 words we recognize by sight.
Counting to 100 on the path we stayed.
How many ten frames is 100, Oops, we will save that for another grade.
100 CVC words such as…c…a…r.
Sounding it right, makes us all shining stars.
Our teachers provided us all the tools for our brains.
Where we all have made lots of reading and math gains.
100 School days have passed,
Always practicing our writing with sky, fence, and grass.
100 School days smarter are we!
Dancing in celebration with utter glee.
100 School days…Not letting our teachers down.
Today, proudly wearing our 100 School days crown.
After 49 years of marriage, surprising Cassandra, the obstinate, was difficult. She has always had a logical brain like a Vulcan, questioning me when I bring things up as if there is some conspiracy behind my actions. Even when I proposed she asked, “Is that what I think it is?”
On our fiftieth anniversary, I handed her a note. Quizzically reading it aloud, “Blindly promise to take me somewhere next Saturday. No questions.” She agreed hesitatingly.
Saturday morning arrived; bags were secretly packed in the trunk. “Where am I taking you?” she asked with probing skepticism.
“Airport. We are celebrating our fiftieth in Alaska, travelling to your fiftieth state. I always promised we would meet your goal.”
“Alaska? You would have needed me to plan with you? You must be joking?!” Cassandra answered still questioning me.
With loving eyes, I said, “It is true I usually ask you to tell me what you want to see on trips, but this time, I wanted to just whisk you away to fulfill your dream.” Smiling with happy tears, she kissed me like we were teens, putting the car in reverse, heading out to the road fulfilling her blind promise to me so I could fulfill my promise to her.
I wrote this poem back in May during the “Safer at Home” time. I was missing being at school with all of the teachers and students. A virtual meeting with a few teachers brought this “displaced” feeling to the forefront to bring about this poem. We discussed what really is the heart of the school – the people who come in and out every day. Enjoy!!
Does a school have a heart?
Does it reside without people only in part?
Is it more like a rib cage surrounding the beating muscle?
Or do the teachers pump the energy in and out as they hustle and bustle?
Brick and mortar prolong the life by standing tall.
However, the little ones ignite life by flowing through the halls.
Two months have passed, almost three
Of missing beautiful smiles and minds of wonderment and glee.
Distance will finally come and go,
Holding on to wait until the world says so.
A building is just an empty shell with a face.
Right now, its heart is only temporarily displaced.
In this time of separation,
Remember the intention.
Especially now, there is no time for rejection.
Hold onto your connections!
Connections are now different than before.
They take place behind a closed door.
Away from the maddening crowd of our yore
Voice and virtual command our communication floor.
These times should make you appreciate
Everyone to whom you relate
Whether by blood or fate.
Cling to your connections beyond the expiration date…
Of our locked in world right now and here.
This is only temporary, so please persevere.
Situations are dynamic and eventually move behind us somewhere,
But your connections are static always needing your care.
In the early minutes of morning twilight,
There is a certain quiet that lingers.
In the distance, you can just hear
The subway’s wheels screech
Like an owl landing on its prey.
As the dawn breaks,
The hustle and bustle of heartbeats
Move throughout the city –
Getting to coffee shops
Getting to work
Getting to school
Moving to and fro,
Tourists add to the foot pounding beat on the pavement.
The noises of walking, running, traffic, and talking loiter
Into the twilight of the evening just before dusk.
In places like Times Square,
The buildings come alive
As the lights switch on
Around 42nd Street and Broadway.
Even in Central Park,
The rhythmic patterns exist
With the squirrels frolicking,
The hot dog vendors selling,
The skaters at the rink swishing,
And organ music of the carousel
Adds a whimsical childlike tune of yesteryear.
The sounds of people never stop,
Repeating over and over,
A similar song from day to day…
Except for that brief period of the morning before dawn.
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