Guest Post: Gary Holdaway

I am delighted to be able to present a guest post from a young British writer, Gary Holdaway. Here is his own short bio.

A young writer from the UK with big ideas, and an even bigger passion for words. A multigenre author of both novels and short fiction, Gary has a flare for the suspenseful, the frightening, and the unknown.

It is a short story, inspired by this photo.

The Cabin

In the time it had taken Dr Mark E. Redwood to trek the nine miles through dense woodland before finally arriving at the cabin, he had tripped at least six times, soaked his feet in a failed attempt to jump a small creek, and had picked up multiple scratches to his face and neck fighting through malicious low branches. He was useless when it came to the outdoors. Hopelessly, utterly useless. But he didn’t care. He had to do this. For the sake of his sanity, God please, he had to do this.

Another day spent filing paperwork, flicking through Mr What-you-call-him’s files to find the correct dose of haemorrhoid cream —because Mrs What-you-call-him is oh so worried about his scratching again— he would reach into his desk drawer, take one final long drink of his aged bourbon, and blow his own head off with daddy’s antique shotgun. Nature was the answer, Julie told him, but not a holiday in the sun, no, that was too commercial. That’s what all the doctors do when they need a break, she said, sipping another of her vile green health drinks. He needed to get out into nature on his own, have nothing to do and nobody to speak to, rediscover himself.

He saw her logic, but with the frequent buzzing and wafting of mosquitos, he scorned it. He lugged some fire wood from the pile by the porch through the rickety door, stubbing his toe on a small chest as he entered. “Ah fu…God’s sake.” He stopped himself from cursing. Getting out on his own wasn’t enough, he had to try to control his anger, you see. Cleanse his soul, grow closer to God. (She told him.)

Searching the cabin high and low for rogue creepy crawlies took him most of the afternoon. To his surprise he only found one spider… but in it’s defence, it was frickin’ huge. That was an ordeal. By the time he found something suitable to whack it with, it had crawled off into the crack between the wall and the bed frame, a particular hiding spot that filled him with dread. He coaxed Mr Eightlegs out with a coat hanger, and from a distance you could only describe as laughable, threw the phone book at him. Why would a cabin in the middle of nowhere, without a phone, have a phone book anyway? He wrote it off as one of life’s mysteries and wiped the squished insides of the spider from the wall, hurling the phone book, and with it the butchered remains, far beyond the cabin’s porch. Just in case, you know… The little bastar— spiders, play dead. Dr Redwood, one, nature, zero.

The rest of the night was spent shivering by the fire wrapped in his duvet, once he got the damned thing lit of course. By nine-thirty, or maybe ten, he was asleep, and his sleep was heavy and dreamless.

Morning came along a stream of mixed birdsong. Dr Redwood’s watch told him it was five-thirty, and the sun was painting the sky with pretty oranges and pinks. It complimented the colours of the autumnal forest, and with that thought, he chuckled to himself. Here he was stretching out under a canopy of trees, in a cabin, on his own, thinking about colours and the beauty of nature —considering painting, even— when just yesterday he was behind Mr Sneath on all fours, with a latexed finger up his arse. Sorry, anus.

He considered for a moment, just a moment, the direction his life had taken. He had become a doctor just like his father had told him. He had learned to shoot clay pigeons, play golf, and meet with pharma reps. He had married his childhood sweetheart. That’s as far as that one goes. She hadn’t been his sweetheart since a few years after college, but he loved her well enough and she was already carrying his firstborn by then. He had stayed faithful, at least, which is more than she could say. It was his fault, she said, you’re never home. His parents simply stated that he had made his bed when he didn’t wrap it up and got her in the ‘family-way.’ So he worked, he smiled, he stayed true to his vow, and he done what every working family man must. He chugged along.

But here in the morning light, the thought intoxicated him like a drug. what if… What if?

He spent his day walking the forest. Despite looking like Rambo at the end of First Blood, he enjoyed himself. He lit the fire —using a lighter he snuck into his backpack when Julie wasn’t watching— and plonked himself before it in the rocking chair. He stared into the dancing flames, each ember casting shadows across the wooden clad of the interior walls.

Without first washing his hands, without first changing his clothes, he sat in peace, wrapped in his duvet, rocking back and forth to the cracking of the hearth.

Tomorrow he would go home. Back to Julie and her not-so-secret affairs and health drinks and yoga instructors. Back to haemorrhoids and prostate checks and writing antibiotic prescriptions for the common cold. He’d go back to his picket-fenced suburban home with his white marble floor tiles and grandiose ornaments. Still though, that thought, as he rocked back and forth in the calmness and serenity of his own mind.

What if?

(Copyright Gary Holdaway, 2018)

Gary’s own blog can be found here. https://gdholdawayauthor.wordpress.com/ I hope you will have a look at the rest of his work, and give this ‘revived’ blogger some support.

If anyone else would like to take up the photo prompt and send me their own story based on this, or any other photo, I would be happy to publish that too.

The London Grill

‘The London Grill’ is a regular feature on ‘Cabbieblog’. Contributors have to answer a prepared list of questions about London, and the answers are featured on David’s blog. The questions are always the same, but the answers vary widely, as different people obviously have their own views about that great city.

I am pleased to have been featured on the most recent ‘London Grill’, and grateful to David for the opportunity to choose my own bests and worsts about the capital city of England.

This is the outline, from ‘Cabbieblog’.

“We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly”.

And this is the feature, with the questions, and my answers.

PETE JOHNSON spent 60 years living and working in London, mostly in the Ambulance Service and the Metropolitan Police. In 2012, he retired to Norfolk, where he now writes, blogs, and walks his Shar-Pei dog. For some strange reason, he has never missed London at all, and has no desire to return to the city of his birth. Instead, he enjoys the silence and dark nights of a trouble free life in Beetley village. His blog can be found at beetleypete.wordpress.com

What’s your secret London tip?
Go south of the river to see some real history, away from the usual tourist hot spots

What’s your secret London place?
Highgate Cemetery

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Litter, and chewing gum on the pavements

What’s your favourite building?
London University, Malet Sreet building. (Art Deco) Or Bibendum.

What’s your most hated building?
Royal College of Physicians, Albany Street, NW1. (Out of context)

What’s the best view in London?
From the middle of Waterloo Bridge, looking east

What’s your personal London landmark?
Tower Bridge (Unique!)

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
London. (1994) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110377/

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
The Grenadier, Wilton Row, SW1. (Tucked away)

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Go to Greenwich. Visit the park, Observatory, Cutty Sark, and enjoy the views.

That is the whole text, but if you would like to see the original post, and more of that interesting blog, here is the link. http://www.cabbieblog.com/the-london-grill-pete-johnson/

Guest Post: Cabbieblog

I am very pleased to feature the book and blog of a retired London Taxi driver, David. He drove one of the iconic black cabs in London, and has written about his experiences.

His new book is called ‘Pootling Around London’.

Here is an extract, about the difficult process of learning the ‘Knowledge’ to become a London cabbie.

“A flatulent camel

List 1: Run 11 Timber Pond Road SE16 to Grocers Hall Court EC2

“Close the door and sit down.” It was 7th May 1991 and 56 days since I had attended the Induction Interview, my first time at the Carriage Office since being accepted on The Knowledge.
At that time we had listened to a short speech on what journey we were about to undertake and had been given the ‘List of Questions’ – known by anyone who visited this fortress-like building as ‘The Blue Book’ even though it had a pink cover.
A lot had happened since that first visit. We had been assigned to complete 5 lists, learning 90 runs, locating, and remembering, the many places of interest at each end of those routes. Except that for me, my father had died and I’d driven down to Dorset to support my Mother on numerous occasions.
“I’ll have your card. Now, do you have anyone in your family who is a cabbie?” Mr Lippiat seemed a fairly agreeable fellow, who clearly was putting me at my ease.
“Take me from Prince of Wales Theatre to Prince of Wales Drive.” I was like a rabbit caught in a car’s headlights, my brain refused to do anything except to keep me breathing.
“Well, how about Kings Cross Station to -——“, I stumbled out of his office not understanding, let alone remembering anything else. At least I remembered to make another appointment for an inquisition known by all as an Appearance on my way out.
“Who did you get, and what was asked?” A group of Knowledge boys were standing outside the building interrogating students as they came out of the building, in an effort to be forewarned of the possible questions.
“Mr Lippiat, but I can only remember the first question”, was my reply.
“Mr Lippiat, he’s a real gent, wait until you get Ormes”, my inquisitor warned me. What had I taken on? If that was easy how traumatic is this going to get, and looking at my card I realised that I had now to learn lists six to ten, finish the first five and was due back here at 11.30 on Tuesday 2nd July prompt.
I could hardly wait!

Timber Pond Road? This curious name comes from Middle English and the days of wooden ships, meaning a place where imported timber was stored and seasoned. Not that I know it, but during this run, I’m passing close to High Timber Street which similarly served the same purpose in the 13th century.
There seemed to be a dearth of points at this bend of the River, the curiously named Bacon’s College seems the only one point worth seeking out. Soon I’m riding down a street named after Britain’s greatest engineer – Brunel, but little else takes my interest. Until that is, I glance at my map and discover that one of the world’s most famous pubs is less than half-a-mile distant. The Mayflower in Rotherhithe Street has piqued my interest for this is where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America.
It was 5th August 1620 near a pub appropriately called The Shippe, where now the Mayflower stands that a group of separatists who found themselves persecuted after breaking away from the Church of England set sail to Plymouth via Southampton and bound for what was to become Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, the first European settlers in America.
Surely, when I get American tourists wanting a tour in a genuine London taxi, they will want to visit the embarkation point of their ancestors.
The Mayflower looks the genuine article, plenty of dark wood, its seating arranged in a series of small snugs, and a view of the Thames from the terrace. But, there is a problem, which I’ll not divulge to my tourists. It is that the Shippe was rebuilt as the Spread Eagle in 1780 and only renamed as the Mayflower in 1957, but being economical with the truth, surely, is the raison d’être of an entertaining tour guide.
It’s a long ride along Jamaica Road, presumably named from the nearby docks and the country of origin whose produce is landed and stored in the wharves. Turning left into Tanner Street that has an etymology far more interesting. As the industrial expansion took hold, some manufacturing was deemed too noisy, dusty or smelly to be retained within the Square Mile. Tanner Street, Morocco Street and Leathermarket Street give an indication this area saw the tanning of animal hides, a process which involved the liberal application of urine. Even during the plague in the 17th century, obnoxious smells were deemed beneficial to preventing the spread of the miasma and this little area for a short time proved to be a popular place to reside.
I turned into Tooley Street and the site of London’s largest conflagration in the 19th century. Taking two weeks to die down it would ultimately lead to the formation of the London Fire Brigade when insurance companies refused to supply pumps to protect their insured premises.
Crossing London Bridge I’m unaware that High Timber Street is just upstream from here and once served the same purpose as the area where I started this run. It’s onwards to the beating heart of mercantile London, today this junction is now a shadow of its former self, as all vehicles are now banned including cabs.
On the right is the Royal Exchange, its construction necessitated in the demolition of the curiously named St. Benet Fink. Mr Fink had restored a Wren church facing this junction and for his trouble was apparently canonised. Continuing into Poultry, like many streets here, Milk Street, Bread Street, it gives its name to the daily necessities of life where once they were sold, and in the midst of this old market area is our destination, Grocers Hall Court.
Its history dates back to the 14th century, the Company of Grocers is one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies. It was said to have been the first in order of preference until Queen Elizabeth I’s coronation. Following the Good Queen Bess’s enthroning, a procession wended its way through the City with the Grocers’ camel preceding Her Majesty. Unsurprisingly the animal started emitting smells, much to the disgust of the Queen, who just happened to be the Honorary Master of the Mercers Company, and she promptly promoted the Mercers to the top spot where it remains to this day.
Having survived almost unscathed from the Blitz, which had destroyed a fifth of the City, they managed to destroy the Grocers Livery Hall in 1965, when a light bulb was left beneath an oak lintel below the grand staircase. The conflagration necessitated a new hall being constructed in this present site.
————————————
Contrary to popular belief learning the Blue Book Runs is not just about going out on a moped and learning the current list of 320 runs. Any fool can learn by rote a series of roads, take Manor House to Gibson Square, it is spoken by many almost as a mantra. The list is only designed as a guide to what you are expected to learn and at an Appearance you are unlikely (and lucky enough) to be asked a Blue Book run.
Learning the Blue Book Runs is all about ¼ mile areas at the beginning and end of the runs, as well as the run itself. This process is more commonly known as the Dumb-Bell effect.

Understanding how alternative points of interest, roads and road restrictions within these ¼ mile radius areas relate to the Blue Book Runs is the basic foundation of learning the Knowledge of London. You will not acquire a sufficient Knowledge simply by either using a computer or a map, you will only gain the necessary Knowledge by actually travelling the ¼ mile radius areas and runs.

Runs are undertaken using this criteria: (1) learn the area and points within a ¼ mile radius of the Blue Book start point; (2) learn how to link these points up with the run; (3) learn the run itself; (4) learn the area and points within a ¼ mile radius of the Blue Book end point; and (5) learn how to link these points up with the run.”

Here is a link to David’s blog. http://www.cabbieblog.com/
And here is a link where you can read more of the book.
http://www.cabbieblog.com/pootling-around-london/?cn-reloaded=1

Guest Post: The Midnight Movie Vault

I am pleased to be able to feature a guest post, a film review from Em, at The Midnight Movie Vault. It concerns an unusual and disturbing war film, about Japanese atrocities. More film-related posts from that site can be found here. https://midnightvault.net/

Men Behind The Sun (1988)

During World War II China, the horrors of war were laid bare and taken to inhuman limits. After the Japanese occupation of China in 1937, Japanese internment camps began to sprout up in China, much like the Stalags of Nazi Germany. The most notorious of these camps, however, was the headquarters of Unit 731. Unit 731 were a Japanese military unit that conducted research into biological and chemical warfare, and the unit was led by Lieutenant General Dr. Shiro Ichii of the Imperial Japanese Army. The experiments that Unit 731 committed on prisoners of Chinese, Russian and Korean descent were absolutely inhuman. The experiments of Unit 731 are atrocities that should never be forgotten, and should never be repeated. Unit 731 has gone down in history as Japan’s worst offense, much like the Holocaust of Nazi Germany. However, unlike the officers of camps such as Auschwitz and Dachau, no-one from Unit 731 was brought to justice. Shiro Ishii was granted immunity by the American authorities for handing over all the experimental data from Unit 731.

Men Behind The Sun is Tun Fei Mou’s factual war drama about the horrific experiments that Unit 731 carried out. It’s possibly the most extreme Asian film I’ll ever cover and, although it has great historical significance, there’s no disguising just how depressing, shocking and disturbing the experience of watching Men Behind The Sun is for the common viewer. Story-wise, Men Behind The Sun is incredibly faithful to the factual events of Unit 731, from Shiro Ishii’s arrival at Unit 731 in 1936 to the disbanding of Unit 731 and the retreat of its officers in 1945. What’s interesting to note about the story of Men Behind The Sun, however, is the fact that it doesn’t just focus on Shiro Ichii and his officers. The story of Men Behind The Sun focuses on three groups of people: Shiro Ichii and his officers as they research, experiment and torture, the Chinese prisoners called Marutas (logs) who are subject to these vile experiments and desperately wish for escape, and the young boys who make up Unit 731’s youth corp. This multi-focused approach works really well for this type of movie. The children of the youth corp are created to be very empathetic, and their indoctrination, humanity, loyalty and moral stability are all tested throughout the course of the film. When the children are affected by the things that are going on around them that are perpetrated by the adults, I couldn’t help but feel so much sympathy for their situation. It’s clear that no-one should be put in their situation, and I felt for them every step of the way.

The portrayal of the officers of Unit 731 on the other hand are shown as uncaring, unfeeling adults with the fiercest of fierce loyalty. Although this was accurate to history as Japan’s army were intensely loyal, there are times when the officers seem to be almost maniacal, especially Shiro Ishii when he discovers the cluster effect of porcelain. This does affect the intensity of the characters somewhat, as it makes them seem like over the top villains, but this happens very sparingly, and most of the time the officers are portrayed in a very realistic, intimidating manner. This portrayal is supported by the fantastic acting on display from the entire cast. For example, Gang Wang is absolutely perfect as Shiro Ishii, because he carries an intense charisma to the role. His calm, reserved performance is absolutely intimidating to witness and it makes the character of Shiro Ishii incredibly powerful to see.

In terms of production, Men Behind The Sun isn’t exactly perfect. The cinematography could have been better and I noticed some audio sync issues, but the editing really stood out to me. Although I cannot find out the name of the editor, as the information on this film that is available is both detailed and sparse, the editing on Men Behind the Sun is perfect. It’s a tense and atmospheric movie which moves at a very appropriate pace, and the majority of that is due to the editing. The editor knew what shots to linger on, when to cut, what sequences needed to be faster and which needed to be slower. As a result, sequences which focus on the inhuman experiments are slower and more uncomfortable, whilst the climactic Maruta escape scene is fast paced and absolutely thrilling. I do wish I could find out the name of the editor because I would love to see other films that they may have worked on, as I applaud their work on Men behind The Sun.

However, I have to address the biggest issue about Men Behind The Sun: the special effects, or lack thereof. In the 1980s, although Hong Kong had a film industry, there was no dedicated VFX industry. This didn’t deter Tun Fei Mou, however, as he still wanted to show the graphic and horrific experiments that were performed by Unit 731. So, instead of trying to create realistic dummies with no special effects experience, Tun Fei Mou used actual corpses for the film’s death and dissection scenes. I want to iterate: nobody dies onscreen during Men Behind The Sun, but the film uses real corpses to ‘simulate’ the dissection and experimentation of the Chinese people by Unit 731. The most graphic of which is the dissection and organ harvesting of a ten year old boy, in which the scene is shown in heavy detail. It’s as uncomfortable, shocking and as disturbing as it sounds, and its the reason why the film is still very controversial and disturbing to this very day.  Because of this many, many criticize Men Behind The Sun as being nothing more than a cheap exploitation film, a Japanese equivalent to the heavily controversial Nazisploitation genre of the late 1970s, and Tun Fei Mou received death threats because of it.

As for me? I do not celebrate the use of real corpses, but there’s no hiding the effect that the use of real corpses had on me. I was upset, I was shocked, I was disturbed. However, I realize that that was the intention of the whole film. Men Behind The Sun isn’t a film that’s supposed to be enjoyable, it’s supposed to be disturbing, it’s supposed to be realistic, it’s supposed to stay in the mind long after it’s finished and it’s supposed to deeply affect the viewer, and for me, it did just that. I gave this movie a chance, and I only find out the fact that real corpses were involved after I had finished watching it. For the record, I will never be happy about a film using actual corpses instead of clever special effects, but Men Behind The Sun is the only exception to that rule because of its historical accuracy and lack of enjoyability. Someone’s death should never be used for entertainment, but Men Behind The Sun isn’t trying to be entertaining, it’s supposed to be hard hitting and realistic. I didn’t come away from this film feeling fulfilled, I came away feeling incredibly depressed and upset, and its clear that was what the film wanted me to feel.

In the end, I wouldn’t recommend Men Behind The Sun freely. A viewer has to be aware of what they’re about to watch and be mentally capable of watching these images without being scarred or traumatized.
However, I will say that Men Behind The Sun is one of the greatest war dramas I’ve ever seen. Its realism is unparalleled and aside from a few images of obvious symbolism, such as a Chinese Maruta being impaled with the Japanese flag, and the crying of a new born Japanese baby right at the end after the death of its mother (symbolizing the birth of a new Japanese way and the death of the old way), there’s never been a more frighteningly realistic portrayal of the atrocities that happen during a period of war. To quote the beginning of the film: ‘history is history’, and if one wants to portray it accurately, it should be presented realistically without any unnecessary romanticization or patriotism, and Men Behind The Sun is as realistically horrifying as it gets. If a viewer wishes to watch this film, I would recommend only watching it once, as the images and effect of Men Behind The Sun linger in the mind for years to come.

(All written by Em, and unedited.)

Guest Posts

It has been some time since I extended the offer to host guest posts on here, so here it comes again.

If you are someone who follows this blog, or someone I follow, perhaps you would appreciate a guest post slot on beetleypete? I have over 3,000 followers, according to WordPress, and all posts are also shared on Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+. Even if you don’t currently follow me, or are a brand new blogger, you might like to get a wider audience for one of your posts, or write something especially for the occasion.

Maybe you have a new book to promote, or a story you would like to be read by a new audience? You might just have something to get off your chest, or want to tell others about something good or bad in your life. Perhaps you would like to review a film or book, tell us about your favourite TV show, or a live gig you attended? The subject matter is not important, as I am happy to include all sorts of categories here. But there are a few rules of course.

1) No longer than 2000 words. (Under 1500 preferred)
2) Any images or photos to be scaled down into small files.
3) No bad language, swearing, or overt sexual references.
4) Absolutely no blatant selling or endorsement of products.
5) No links to anything sales or marketing related.

If you are interested, please send it as an attachment to petejohnson50@yahoo.com
Also send any images separately, and individually, to the same email address.

If I decide to publish it, I will not make any alterations. In the case of a book promotion, please send cover art and sales links by email, and I will decide what to include on the post. If I don’t decide to publish it, I will email you back, and let you know why.

This is a genuine and totally free offer, and you will receive 100% of the credit, as well as an ‘Author Bio’, if you want to send me one of those too.

Best wishes to you all, and happy blogging! Pete.

Guest Post: Third Floor Bingo

I am delighted to post this fictional story from David Miller. David is a published author, song lyricist, compiler of limericks, and an accomplished blogger. He lives in Nevada USA, close to Las Vegas, and is currently working on some new novels. You can see more of his work on this blog,  https://millerswindmill.wordpress.com/ and his books are available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Pope-Dole-Mr-David-Miller/dp/1490324593

THIRD FLOOR BINGO

Narrative:
Some years ago–I don’t remember exactly when–I got bored one afternoon, and so I called for a cab, and told the driver to please take me down to the local casino. You know, I thought I’d play me some bingo. I hadn’t played for a while. Maybe a good long while…
Anyway, once I got inside the casino, I looked around, and all I could see was playing tables, slot machines, a cashier’s cage, a buffet, and a bar. Everyone was busy, so I figured I’d ask a cocktail waitress for directions. I can’t picture her anymore, but I’ll bet you my bottom dollar that she was young and pretty.
“Young lady,” I said. “I’m looking for the bingo.”
She smiled–at least I think she did–and said, “Oh, it’s up on the third floor. Just take the elevator over there.”

Choir:
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
The bingo is on the third floor
The bingo is on the third floor
Third floor…

Narrative:
So, I thanked the waitress with a tip of the hat, and made a beeline for the elevator. Because there’s only one, you see. And it kept me waiting there for quite a while. When it finally did arrive, I stepped in, and took a look at the buttons. My stars, there must have been a dozen of them! And darn if I couldn’t remember which one to press! So I just pressed them all. When I got to the second floor, the door opened, and a couple of out-of-towners with a funny kind of accent jumped right in.
“I’m sorry to bother you, folks. But I’m looking for the bingo parlor. I don’t suppose you’d happen to know which floor it’s on…?”
“See that little sign up there? Bingo. Third Floor.”

Choir:
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
The bingo is on the third floor
The bingo is on the third floor
Third floor…

Narrative:
You know, those funny-talking folks were really nice because they made sure I got off on the third floor. And there it was, right across the hall–the bingo parlor! I walked through the big glass door, picked up a bingo card–they didn’t have all those fancy electronics back then–and I sat myself down at a table. There weren’t but a few people playing. But one of them grabbed me by the gut: a genuine pearl of a woman in a blue chiffon dress. She looked to be a little younger than me. And she was playing all by herself. So I upped and went over to introduce myself. That’s when I found out her name was Mabel.
“Mabel, would you like to have some company?”
“Oh, that’s so very sweet of you. But I’m expecting Mr. Sanchez at four o’clock.”
Or maybe she said five o’clock. I’m not sure. What’s important is that she was expecting him pretty soon. So I asked her who this Mr. Sanchez was, and she said they’d met a few years back, that they’d been keeping a correspondence through the post. After all that time, Mr. Sanchez had finally decided to come visit her, and maybe take her out on a date.
“And what if he don’t show up?”
She smiled–I do remember that smile! And she said, “Well, if he doesn’t present himself by four thirty, I’d be most happy to have you come join me.” She gave him half an hour past the appointed time to make good on his promise. So I prayed in my heart that he wouldn’t show up at four thirty–or five thirty, whichever it was.
“Mabel,” I said, “this suitor of yours might not be as punctual as you’d like. After all, it’s a big casino!”
But Mabel shook her head. “Don’t be silly! I told him I’d be right here on the third floor, playing bingo….”

Choir:
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
The bingo is on the third floor
The bingo is on the third floor
Third floor…

Narrative:
Well, that did it! I had to make a move, you see. So I asked her straight out, “If he don’t make it on time, would you be agreeable to go out with me on a date?”
She laughed–I do remember that laugh. And she said, “I suppose there would be no harm in that. Do you have a car?”
“You know how it is, Mabel,” I said. “We’ve got two cabs for every resident in town. Who needs a car anymore?”
And here, I’ve got to give Mabel some credit. Instead of calling me out for fibbing, which I’d done out of shame, she hatched a little grin, and–for just a moment, mind you!–she rested her hand on mine. Well, that hand was like a warm iron on my soul. It smoothed out the wrinkles, and I didn’t feel ashamed anymore.
You see, in my younger days, I used to tear up the county roads. Why, I even played chicken once, and kept a steady hand on the wheel while the other car ran off in the ditch! …But the time came when I had to give up the wheel. I don’t recall when I stopped driving–not exactly. But that ain’t important to the story.
Oh, and just so you know. Mabel didn’t have a car either.
Anyway, I went back to my table. And I played my cards, but I couldn’t get a winning pattern–or maybe they were playing blackout? Whatever it was, a few minutes before Mr. Sanchez was supposed to arrive, I got up and went over to Mabel, and told her I was going down to the bar for a drink, and that I’d be back soon, so don’t you worry about me. The truth is that I had to pay a visit to the men’s room. But I was coming back alright. I was curious to see what kind of fellow this Mr. Sanchez was.
So I got back on the elevator. And, to be on the safe side, I took note of what floor I was on before taking the elevator down.

Choir:
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
The bingo is on the third floor
The bingo is on the third floor
Third floor…

Narrative:
It seemed to me that the noise in the casino had gone up a notch or two. Maybe it had, or maybe I could just hear better because it was my spirit that was up. To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought because I had some urgent business to take care of.
On my way to the restroom, I played chicken with the change cart that was making its rounds. I nearly wet my pants, but I felt good afterwards because the change attendant avoided me by making a quick turn off the main aisle. Me, I just smiled and kept on going!
Now, I should probably mention that I didn’t need any help finding the men’s room. It’s pretty well marked, so you can’t hardly miss it. Anyway, I milked myself as dry as I could, and when I came out of there, I ran smack into that cocktail waitress again. And I realized that I’d somehow forgotten which floor the bingo was on.
“Young lady, just where is that bingo parlor, anyway?”
She must have thought I’d been looking for it all that time! Because she went to giggling, and nearly tipped over the drinks on her tray! Leastways, that’s how I remember it.…
“You see that elevator over there? You can take it to the third floor. The bingo is on the third floor.”

Choir:
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
Third floor bingo, wah-o-o!
The bingo is on the third floor
The bingo is on the third floor
Third floor…

Narrative:
Naturally, I directed my attention at the elevator. And what did I see? There was a curious gentleman standing there. He was wearing a white suit with a black western tie. And I knew right away that it must be Mr. Sanchez. My memory ain’t so good anymore, and, if truth be told, it wasn’t all that sharp back then either, but I’ve always had a keen sense of people.
So I excused myself from the waitress, and beat a path to the elevator.
I was so sure of myself that I walked right up to the gentleman in white, and I said to him, “Good day, señor! What brings you to these parts?”
Well, he was a friendly kind of fellow, and we began to talk. And, by golly, I was right. He was Mr. Sanchez, come to take Mabel out on a date. The elevator was busy as usual, but, of course, what goes up must come down. When it did, the arrow lit up with a ding, and Mr. Sanchez noticed, but I kept him talking, and we didn’t get on.
“I reckon you’re on your way up to Mabel’s room?” I asked him finally.
“No, sir…. She asked me to meet her in the bingo room on the third floor.”
“Now isn’t that odd? The bingo closed at three.” Or maybe I said four.

Choir:
No more bingo, wah-o-o!
No more bingo, wah-o-o!
No more bingo, wah-o-o!
The bingo has just closed the door
The bingo has just closed the door
No more…

Narrative:
Well, by this time, Mr. Sanchez had come to trust me. And so he just nodded, shook my hand, and walked away–at least that’s how I remember it. I stood around a bit, waiting for the next ride up. The elevator was in no particular hurry, of course. By the time I got on, and looked at all those buttons again, I have to admit that my mind drew a blank. But then I noticed the sign: Bingo. Third Floor. So then I knew which button to press.
As you might have guessed, I found Mabel right where I’d left her. I waved at her as I passed through the big glass door. And so as not to give a hint as to what I’d done, I sat down at my old table, and I waited….
And when the clock ticked past the thirty, I went over to Mabel, and took a seat beside her. We played a few games, and shared a laugh or two. And she didn’t seem to mind that Mr. Sanchez had failed to turn up. So I reminded her that she’d agreed to go out with me on a date. And she gave me a gentle pat on the cheek.
Some things you never forget!

Narrative:
So that’s the story. We never got married. But we ended up living together here at the home. Mabel got to feeling feeble after a while, so they put her in a wheelchair. And after my fall, I was given a walker. Believe me, it ain’t much fun getting old! But the nurses here take good care of people, and they set up the bingo tables every Friday night. Mabel and I never missed a game! That is, until she passed away.… She passed away on a…Tuesday? It don’t matter. She’s gone now. And on Friday, when the nurse comes by to ask me if I’m up for a game of bingo, I always say no. My heart just ain’t in it anymore.

Choir:
No more bingo, wah-o-o!
No more bingo, wah-o-o!
No more bingo, wah-o-o!
I won’t play that game anymore
I won’t play that game anymore
No more.

© David E. Miller (4/15/18)

Guest post with Nicholas Rossis.

My good blogging friend, published author, and all-round nice guy, Nicholas Rossis, has kindly published a guest post from me on his blog. It is about my experiences as an Amazon reviewer.
If you think this might be of some interest, please follow this link.
http://nicholasrossis.me/2017/12/11/guest-post-by-pete-johnson-being-an-amazon-reviewer-a-personal-experience/

Feel free to comment on his blog.