A Hot Summer’s Day – A Short Story

Prompt:  Take a road map, close your eyes, and point to it at random.  Have a character drive or walk through the nearest town and stop in at a bank, shop or restaurant.  Study the surrounding area on the map if you like.  Invent the details.  Or:  Write about a place you can’t return to.

“A Hot Summer’s Day” – A Short Story
by Luke A. Bunker
• • •
I had woken up this morning in a cheap, dank hotel room whose owner apparently hadn’t seen fit to outfit with a full set of blinds.  Unable to sleep much past 6:04 (the red numbers threw a cantankerous glare on the opposing wall and, subsequently, on my day), I decided it was time to hop back onto Interstate 10 from the town I was staying in near San Antonio and seek refuge in another place, determined to drive as long as my gas tank would take me.
About 6 hours of being baked by an unforgiving sun later, I pulled off the freeway into a small town called Crowley, dust flying at my heels and heat waves emanating off the concrete ahead of me.  In the heart of Southern Louisiana, Wikipedia told me, Crowley was known for two things – rice and crawfish farming.  Oh, boy…
I stopped at Sal’s Service Station (the neon sign was still emitting light, even at this time of the afternoon, its three S’s glowing red on a yellow background) and filled my Yukon with unleaded gas.  Since they didn’t take credit cards at the pump (and, really, why would they?), I walked inside and spoke with Sal himself, who said, “It’s a hot one today.”  I responded in the affirmative, grabbed a Diet Coke, and was soon on my way to finding sustenance.
Rosa’s Eatery was calling my name.  It was around 1:00 by this time, their parking lot was full, and older gentlemen could be seen rubbing their bellies and emitting eponymous laughs as they clapped their hands to their friends’ backs before heading elsewhere for the afternoon.  I rolled into a diagonal space directly in front of the establishment, not even bothering to lock-beep-lock-beep my car, and opened the creaky wooden door to the aromas of fried chicken, collared greens, mashed potatoes and well, pretty much the stereotypical smell of all things fried.  “Breakfast All Day” adorned yet another neon sign, this time indoors, flashing intermittently and promising 100% Fullness Guaranteed.
A 20-something girl who went by the name of Tammy Sue was hostess that afternoon, and she, like Sal, commented on the heat and seated me at a Formica booth in the corner, across from two grey-haired women who were no doubt gossiping about the men who had just left.  I placed an order for coffee (cappuccinos and other perks were nowhere listed on the menu) and activated my cell phone’s power button to check in on the day’s events back home.  To my utter disbelief, I saw nothing but five empty bars and a nice big “R” next to the digital clock; this was at the very least the seventh time on this journey to “self-discovery” that I was not connected to the non-peripheral world.  Which, to be honest, was fine with me.
As I put my phone away, a woman of a certain age, flaming curly red hair tied up into a bun straight from the fifties and a yellow dress camouflaged by a red-and-white polka dot apron entered my space bubble with a highly-annunciated, boisterous “How the heck are ya this mornin’, sir?”  I checked my watch to verify the time-space continuum, and responded, “I’m fine.  How are you?”  I instantly regretted my politeness (thanks, mother) and sat listening to her talk about how her neighbor had shot her dog yesterday afternoon after it chewed on one of his prize-winning petunias and, my, you never know what’s going to happen in these parts these days, what with the degradation of the Bible, and thank Jesus I still have my cats to love on!
I proceeded to order an omelette, since it was “still morning” and all, and soaked in the gossipy women’s banter, the kitschy yet oh-so-typical diner décor on the walls, and the feeling you get when you’re clogging your arteries in small-town America.  I finished my meal, left a twenty on the table, and like many times before, left the eatery and heaved myself up into my conveyance and was on my way to another place, another time, another memory…  The road to self-discovery was one fraught with the unknown, and I was only somewhat eager to see what lay ahead of me after Crowley  that hot June afternoon.

Intelligence (Poem)

Writing Prompt:
Abstraction + verb + place
Attire
Summarize an action

Each of these five items were listed independently on the board, and each member of the class added one or two items to each list, with no real coherence because the above task was not yet given.  After we had made the list as a class, the instructor had us use the list to make a short, three-line poem with an abstraction, verb and place in the first line, attire in the second, and the summary of an action in the third.  Given the amazing things that some people came up with (you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!), I think I might do this exercise more often.

So, because of the nature of the task, we all had some input into each others’ poems last evening, so this is really by Luke Bunker, et al.  🙂

Intelligence

Intelligence interrogates within the mind,
Its yellow cap and army fatigues
Unfurling a kite and playing a game.

"What Do You See, Luke Bunker?"

I am finally back in the writing mood!!  I think the Creative Writing class I’m enrolled in this spring has helped get me back to my creative roots.  I hope to create and share more of my writing this spring, and so far am off to a great start with several prompts that I enjoyed.

The following poem is inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem, “Salut au Monde!” and one of our prompts at last evening’s class was to answer the question, “What do you hear?” or “What do you see?”

“What do you see, Luke Bunker?”

What do you see, Luke Bunker?
I see the proud displays of chocolate-makers throughout the city.
I smell the dank and dirt of a place where being clean seems to be an afterthought.
I feel the intensity of sun rays beating on my weary body.
I hear the chatter of men and women going on about their daily lives.
I taste the world’s worst and most expensive coffee in a place where it feels just right.
I am alive in this moment.

Can anyone guess what place I’m referring to??  First person who gets it right gets a virtual cookie!

365 Travel Memories Project – 003/365

003/365 (January 3) – July 8, 2011

Another collage created with the amazing web app at http://pixlr.com/express/.
The day was July 8, 2011, and we began one of our most memorable days as a family in Fruita, Colorado, with our friends Les and Tyina (brother and sister; my dad worked with Tyina at the hospital).  We traveled via the Million Dollar Highway to an old mining town, Silverton, where we saw a horse-drawn carriage traipse across the small town and the famous Durango-Silverton train come to a graceful stop just feet away.
Tyina and Les asked if there was a place my mom wanted to shop (as if!!), and she mentioned a place that sold old Indian jewelry a friend had told her about.  She was beginning to leave the store after her purchase when she asked about the symbols on her ring, which the shop-owner had said was a sign for water.  Right then, she got the call from my brother, Josh, wondering what it was like for Mom when her water broke.  As has was telling her what Sheri was going through, Mom told them to head to the hospital because little Zoe, my niece, was on her way!
As you can imagine, we were all so excited and emotional when we heard the news.  I had a good feeling that our little one would be born later that day.  Being over 500 miles away was difficult because I wanted to be at least somewhat close when (who I now call) my little Zopapilla came into the world.
As we finished the day out, waiting to hear further news, we traveled to Animas Forks, where my dad caught up with my mom’s friends from Okeene’s daughter, Robin (tough to keep straight, but stay with me!) – what are the chances!?!  Animas Forks is a beautiful ghost town situated in the San Juan Mountains; it is truly one of the most beautiful places I have visited.  The flowers perked up for us and everything was in bloom and full of lush greens.  As we left Silverton and Animas, we got a text from Josh, “Labor is a go.  Your granddaughter will be here soon.  :)”  I was so excited, I could barely stand it!
After Animas, we took a photo op at the beautiful Molas Pass area, smiles beaming brightly on our faces.  Just minutes later, we saw a double rainbow near our favorite town of Ridgway and got the call that our Zoe was born.  Mom starting tearing up, of course, and it was a special moment to share it with some of our best friends.
What a special day!!!

Happy Saturday!

Have you ever put something off so long that, out of the blue, you just get the motivation to get it done and move on with life?  Well, my goal for today is getting the contents of all my memory cards verified with my laptop and external hard drives, clearing them off, formatting them, and getting them put back in their proper case and into my new (OK, got it as a gift last year but just now using, LOL) camera bag!

The biggest task (probably bigger than one weekend of productivity can match) will be making sure that my new 1TB external hard drive (purchased rather than dealing with formatting issues between my PC and Mac) gets everything onto it, edited, processed and organized!  No more duplications of folders and thousands of pictures from this point forward!  Or, so I tell myself…

Coffee = Productivity
(c) 2012 – Luke A. Bunker.  All Rights Reserved, dammit!  🙂

Armed with coffee and a rambunctious niece, I am on a productive roll!  Might head to the office to get some things wrapped up before I go back to school (still in Dodge) next week.  It will be my last shot at overtime for a while, and I need to pay for those Bose headphones and get a handle on the holy mess that is inventory!!  😉  I’m also hoping to catch up with a friend who is on break from university and finally see Les Miserables.  Also on the docket for this weekend is figuring out my schedule, which has been giving me a total headache and I am ready to put it to rest!  I plan to pay for my classes and get one or two of them changed on Monday and visit my high school journalism adviser.  I think I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my TripAdvisor reviews will never be complete, but that’s OK!  Life is too short to worry about such trivial things.

So much to do and so little time!

Happy Saturday, everyone!

365 Travel Memories Project – 002/365

002/365 (January 2) – June 5-6, 2012

It may qualify as my first real, in-depth conversation with a European couple.  En-route from Minneapolis to Amsterdam in Seat 31G (and, in true Delta style, an hour at the gate), Eduardo and I spoke with a wonderful older couple from Amsterdam, Hans and Colette.

Colette worked for an organization that researched and helped abuse victims, and you could tell within seconds that she was a kind, caring and compassionate woman, particularly when she got very serious and motherly, saying, “There are so many, and we have to help them.”
The couple was heading back home after a tour of the American Southwest, a popular circuit for Europeans traveling to the U.S.  They reflected with a laugh how, when in Las Vegas, they got lost at their mega-hotel and thought to themselves, “What is going on here?!?!”  Colette used the word “nice” a lot to describe not only her home country, but also America.
Hans was quieter, a retired gentleman, content to let his wife converse with Eduardo and me about our studies, schools, holidays, foods and each others’ travels.  It made me reflect in my journal that “only through travel do you really get a view and window into other ways of life.”
As the plane began to depart, our conversation dwindled with just a few moments of conversation later in the flight, interspersed with her confession for loving American TV, particularly “the HBO.”  As we got our Sudoku puzzles with dinner (Delta can be quite funny at times!!) and subsequently made a few mistakes, Colette (“the Dutch woman”) was happy to give us their extras.
During our descent into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Eduardo and I said our goodbyes to Colette and Hans, with Hans’ statement “You will be seeing old buildings!!” said with a big grin on his wrinkly, wise face, setting us up for our latest European adventures.  “Yes, we will!” I said in reply.  It was wonderful meeting the two of them, and it was the perfect exchange to start our European trip.

365 Travel Memories Project – 001/365

001/365 (January 1) – June 11, 2012

A few of us went to the market in Munich on a Monday morning, fresh off an early lunch at a delicious little restaurant and just around the corner from Munich’s famous square, Marienplatz. A few of us (my friend and fellow traveler, Hannah, comes to mind!) shopped around for berries and other market goodies before lunch, and then I decided to take another turn at it before we headed to Dachau, and later in the trip, our journey to other parts of Europe (needed road food, and something fresh!).
OK, background out of the way, I must tell you about our morning at the Munich market. A very nice guy, probably a bit older than me, helped me pick out some different fruits, from apples and grapes (didn’t care for them, they were a bit different!), and a unique, orange-lookalike fruit that was unique to Munich and in-season. He was very proud of his trade and it was fun to see him passionate about fruit. He also told me about his visit to America as we chatted for a little bit (believe it or not, Europeans don’t bite!!), pulled out his iPhone, and showed/told me about the white Mustang convertible he rented when touring in California. It is always compelling to me to converse with people I meet about their travels – I find it’s a great icebreaker to discuss travels to each others’ countries.
This came to mind today (Jan. 3), and inspired me to start this project! I’m sure not all of the posts will look as graphic-ized as this one, but I hope you enjoy it all the same!

A Different Kind of 365 Project…

Well, it’s a new year.  Whew!  2012 was such a whirlwind – intensifying schoolwork and a boatload of new responsibilities at work, crazy and fun travels, and difficult family issues and losses.  Although excited to begin anew, I think this year helped strengthen my character as I struggled to balance it all.  And, my goodness, was it tough some days!  I wouldn’t say I was necessarily depressed, but I’m sure it’s the closest I ever came to it as things simply got too overwhelming a majority of the time.

Unfortunately, in the process, I managed to stress eat (something I’d prided myself on never doing in the past) my way back to my pre-weight-loss weight from the first half of the year.  With everything going on, I let my addiction to food get the better of me.  I am eager to get back to the gym next week and get started on a healthier me; this has included saying “no” to projects that I simply don’t have the time or energy for, and trying to focus on a few things I can really dedicate myself to.

When stress calls, travel beckons —  I look forward to attending a coworker/friend’s wedding in Richmond in February and a week-long retreat to visit my friend Laura in Florida for Spring Break.  I’m hoping to squeeze a trip to my favorite continent (so far!) in sometime after I graduate and before life gets even more complicated.  I know it will all work out and what’s meant to happen will happen.  🙂

Along the lines of a new year, I find myself going back through my mind, remembering some of my happiest moments.  Not shockingly, many of them involve travel.  In the spirit of a new year and fostering creativity (which I have NOT done lately), I have decided to post a picture, memory, moment from my travels that has affected me in some way or brings me back to a happy place and time.  It’s my hope that with these posts I can not only do the previously-mentioned, but also give wings to the travel bug that itches so many of us.

It will take a while to catch up (it’s already the 3rd, lol), but I think this is a good way to put me on track  to a happier me, amidst the stress of a new semester starting next week and impossible circumstances and situations at work.

I hope this post finds its readers with a happy heart and a peaceful outlook on the new year.  I know I’m trying to get there!!

Luke