V is for Vacant


I’ll be honest with you. I was having trouble coming up with a V-word for today’s A to Z Challenge post. I was going to use “vote” because I really think that the only way we’re going to get rid of Donald Trump is to vote him out of office next year. But I figured a whole host of people would have that same thought and would use the word “vote” today.

But then yesterday afternoon when I was walking my dog, I noticed that a house on my block that has been vacant for about two years continues to remain vacant. And then I remembered reading a headline from a few weeks ago in the local newspaper, which claimed that “an estimated 100,000 homes are sitting empty in the San Francisco Bay area.”

I also saw another statistic saying that there are more 30,000 vacant homes in the city of San Francisco alone. And that’s not just in the shitty parts of the city, either. There are around three or four properties that have been sitting vacant within blocks of where my wife and I live.

That’s when I decided that “vacant” would be my V-word.

Another article I recently read estimated that there are between 7,500 and 8,000 homeless people living in the city.

So I thought that if there are 30,000 vacant homes, some percentage of which must be fit for human habitation, and only around 8,000 homeless people, couldn’t we make a big dent in the city’s homelessness problem by housing many of the homeless in habitable, currently vacant houses?

Well, just a thought.

Previous A to Z Challenge 2019 posts:

Fish Story

CDC40A5D-77CB-4252-A499-072919C08EE4Rory, aka A Guy Called Bloke, has this new game he calls Spin the Keyboard Yarn. Rory has asked us to create a 300-word yarn and today’s yarn is to be based on this topic:

“I caught a fish … it was THIS big?!”

At the end of my 300-word story, you, the reader, will be asked to vote, on a scale of one to ten, how believable my story is, where one is not at all believable and ten is totally believable.

Got it? Good! So here’s my 300-word fish story.

When my cousin and I were about 12, my uncle rented a boat on a lake near St. Louis one summer to introduce us to fishing. It was a large, beautiful lake and my uncle told us that the lake was teeming with bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish.

By mid afternoon my cousin, my uncle, and I had managed to catch around a dozen fish and we were stoked. We were also sweltering, as it was very hot and muggy. Since none of us was wearing bathing trunks, my uncle suggested we strip down to our skivvies and jump into the lake to cool off.

Unbeknownst to us, a fish native to the Amazon basin, the pacu fish, which has human-like teeth and can weigh up to 55 pounds, had been spotted in the lake.3D6F049D-91FB-4A49-B074-85D80743247BPacus use their teeth to crack the tough shells of nuts and seeds. But Pacus have acquired the nickname, “ball cutters,” because they have developed an affinity for using their human-like teeth to crack a different kind of nut — human testicles. Honestly, I’m not making this up. Google “pacu fish” if you don’t believe me.

But back to my fish tale. The three of us had dived into the water to cool off when my uncle started screaming. My cousin and I swam over to him, saw lots of blood in the water, and somehow managed to drag the man over to and onto the boat. What we saw sent chills up and down our spines. A huge fish’s mouth was clamped shut on his ball sack. I picked up an oar and pounded on the fish until it eased its grip and then my cousin threw the fish back into the water.

My uncle lived, but, according to my aunt, their sex life was never the same after that.

Now it’s audience participation time. In the comments, please tell me what you think of my story. And most important, please rate my story. Out of ten, how believable do you think my story is?


Time To Write — Politics as Unusual

65FABB36-29AC-4D35-9CF2-1C97B924E983“What happened?” Jane asked her husband. “Oh my God, what happened?”

“It’s nothing,” Archer said.

“Nothing?” Jane exclaimed. “Look at yourself. You’re eye is swollen shut and is turning black. Your lip is cut and bleeding, as is your nose. What the hell, Archer?”

“Just a slight altercation with a guy at the office,” Archer said.

“An altercation? You mean a fist fight,” Jane said. “With who and about what?”

“Dan, my cubicle mate, was late because he voted this morning on the way to the office,” Archer explained. “He asked me if I had voted yet and I told him that I had voted by mail last week. Then he asked me who I voted for. I told him that I learned a long time ago to avoid talking about sex, religion, and politics at the office.”

“Okay, but then how did this happen?” she asked, pointing at his face.

“He kept pestering me about who I voted for, so I finally told him,” Archer said. “And that’s when all hell broke loose.”

“What exactly happened?”

“He was pissed. He said that my vote canceled out his. Then I said that since I voted before he did, his vote canceled out my vote. Things went down hill from there.”

“But how did things turn physical?” Jane asked.

“I dunno,” Archer said. “He said I was unpatriotic, called me a globalist, said I believed all the fake news, and that I wanted illegal immigrants to overrun our county.”

“You’re kidding!” Jane said. “So he hit you?”

“Well, I might have said a few things back at him,” Archer admitted. “And suddenly fists were flying. Our coworkers had to pull us apart and our boss sent us both home. We both got formal warnings and are on work probation.”

“I hope Dan looks as bad as you do,” Jane said, hugging her husband.

“Worse,” Archer said, a painful smile appearing on his face.

Written for Rachel Poli’s Sentence Starter prompt.

One-Liner Wednesday — Vote

F288B686-B838-4A93-A189-125455455BE6Next Tuesday is Election Day in the United States. Without exaggeration, I can say that this is the most important midterm election in our lifetimes, in that the fate of our American democracy and way of life is at stake.

I never thought I’d see happen what has happened to this country since Donald Trump became president. He has nearly torn the very fabric of America apart. And the only option we have to stop him from tearing it to shreds is to go out and vote on or before next Tuesday. Vote to elect people to Congress who will enable it function, as the Constitution requires, as an appropriate check and balance on Trump, something the Republican-led Congress has refused to do.

So if we care for this country, we must vote. We can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and depend upon others. Voting is our civic responsibility, our duty.

But, hey, I’m just an old man. I may not be alive a decade from now, so while it breaks my heart to witness the events of the past two years, I won’t suffer the brunt of the damage Trump has done and, if left unchecked, will continue to do.

But my children and grandchildren will. So I implore you millennials (and post-millennials who are old enough to vote) — you whose future is on the line — to stand up and be counted. You need to be Supermen and Superwomen. I know it’s a corny cliche, but you need to fight for truth, justice, and the American way.bece7a21-d392-4b3d-8a71-72e966adcc5f.jpeg

Written for Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt.