About Don Royster

Don Royster has spent many lifetimes accumulating adventures from a multitude of galaxies. Some of his magic carpet rides have taken him to Japan, the Phillippines, and Texas. Gifted with an insatiable curiosity, a love for creativity and a strange sense of humor, he has been a student, and still is, of everything from A to Zen and back again. Along the way he has written poems, stories and novels about his many adventures and travels. His latest adventure is the blog, Uncle Bardie's Stories & Such.

Near 500 words: TW and the Doorbell

TW (aka The Writer) shook himself awake. The clock above the TV read 7 a.m. The doorbell rang a second time. More insistent than the first time.

“Alright, alright,” he called out and pulled himself out of his comfy chair. Who could be ringing my doorbell this early in the morning?

A dog barked. It sounded like the bark came from down the street.

He opened the front door. There was no one there. That’s strange.

His eyes searched the street and the neighbors’ yards. There wasn’t a motion anywhere. Except for a neighbor walking his cocker spaniel.

A silver Lexus pulled up into his driveway and stopped. The door opened and Helen stood up. As he watched her walk toward him, he realized how attractive she was. Not stunning but attractive. She’d put on a few extra pounds the way some women do after they’ve had children, but not that many.

Her hair had turned gray from the dark brown when they had first dated. But it was the smile she always wore that had made him want to date her. She wore that smile, and she was asking him to breakfast.

“I’d like that. Give me a few minutes.”

She followed him into the house.

On the way to the neighborhood diner, they discussed the weather and how the vet hospital was doing.

As she parked her car, she asked, “How’s your writing going?”

He stepped out of the car and said, “I’m still searching for a subject.”

They ordered their eggs and coffee, then Helen asked, “How are you doing?” Her green eyes were warm and concerned.

“I buried Cat last night, then I fell asleep in a chair. I can’t get over it. She’s gone, and life has to go on.”

“I was worried about you after you left. Some people take the loss of a pet hard. But I haven’t seen any take the death as hard as you have.”

“I’ll be okay.”

The waitress brought their food.

After she was gone, TW asked, “Did you see anyone leaving my house? When you drove up the street?”

“Can’t say that I did.” Helen took a bite of her egg.

“That’s weird.” TW sipped his coffee.

She finished chewing. “Weird?”

“Just before you drove up, someone rang my doorbell. When I answered the door, they were gone.”

“Are you sure you weren’t imagining things?” She dipped a slice of her toast into her coffee. “Or dreaming it?”

“That was what I thought at first. But no. When the bell rang again, I was wide awake. Darnedest thing.”

As the waitress refilled his coffee, TW could feel that he was getting nervous. But then he decided to go ahead with what was on his mind. “So you and Frank are getting a divorce.”

“Got a divorce. It’s over between us. Sonny’s death was just the last straw. He’d been having an affair. I knew it but I kept hoping. When Sonny died, Frank went crazy. So much so that I couldn’t deal with it. I have the girls to take of care. I don’t need another child.”

TW reached over and put his hand over hers. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks. I haven’t gotten over Sonny’s death. That’s going to take a long long time. If ever. Me and the girls are starting to pick up the pieces and move on.”

She turned her palm upward, and he squeezed her hand.

TW’s words finally came out. “Would you like to go out sometime?”

She took back her hand and asked, “Have you let Sylvia go?”

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The Never Never Land of Teenage Angst

It was another time and another place, America in the early sixties. Teenagers found themselves in a musical wilderness. It was that twilight zone between Rock ‘n’ Roll and Beatlemania. Buddy Holly was dead. Chuck Berry was in jail. Little Richard was working for God. Elvis had been drafted. The music had lost its wildness, its ability to save our teenage souls.

And our rebellion had lost its bite. James Dean died on a motorcycle one dark night, leaving our teenage angst in limbo. Hollywood gave us the Gidgets and fake imitations of James Dean and Marlon Brando. Even Dick Clark failed us by offering up the Bobby Rydells and Fabians.

All we were left with was souped up engines. Cruisin’ Main on Friday nights. Takin’ Betty Sue to the Prom. Getting to first base. And that was about it. It was Happy Days all around. At least, for our parents. But it had no meaning for us. We had lost the soundtrack of our lives.

Then, from out of nowhere, there blasted out of the speakers of our transistors and car radios a sound that melted our hearts. Our teenage heroes had returned in the form of four fellows–Georgie, Abe, Teddy, Jeffy–from our very own Peanut Butter & Jelly High. (How the school came by the name is a whole other story. Let’s just say the School Board couldn’t settle on a President. And what said America better than peanut butter and jelly. It was right up there with Mom and apple pie.}

The four went off to New York City, entered the Brill Building, enlisted the aid of Duncan and Joy, two seventy year old songwriters with the hearts of sixteen year olds. And The Rushmores were born. Suddenly we had a soul again.

Their first number one was a tribute to teenage angst. “I wanna love love love you if I don’t love you I wanna do.” When I heard that coming from the radio in my hot rod lincoln, it was like Dr. Frankenstein had shot electricity through my veins. We’d all been through it. So we knew the guys had walked the walk, and now they were talking the talk. I’d just struck out with Betty Lou, and The Rushmores were commiserating with me.

The Rushmores were not one hit wonders. They had plenty of arrows in their quiver. The next sent us to the dance floor. After hearing “Looney Tuney”, nobody was doing the Twist.

Do the Bugs Shake
Do the Daffy Rattle
And the Porky Roll
It’s on with the show
and the what’s-up-doc
It’s time to do
the that’s-all-folks rock.

The Rushmores had caught a wave and there didn’t seem to be a wipe out coming. They were totally bitchin’ with their tunes.

Now I am sure y’all have heard those nonsensical songs from the fifties like “Yakety Yak,” “Sh-boo,” and “Alley Oop.” Well, The Rushmores number three was “Soda Jerk”:
He’s no clerk
he’s a soda jerk.
Chocolate, strawberry,
vanilla with a cherry,
root beer float
ice cream in a boat.

And their biggest hit, “Her Name Was Sherelle,” was one of those teenage-tragedy weepers like “Last Kiss” or “Tell Laura I Love Her”:
Her name was Sherelle
The Devil gave her his big sale
He played her heartstrings well
Then he took her to a motel
Now she’s go-go-going to hell.

Just as The Rushmores hit the big time, they were drafted. And that ended their musical careers. Last we heard Georgie died in Vietnam, Abe got knifed in a gang fight, Teddy got kicked by a horse, Jeffy OD-ed on heroin.

Now I hardly ever hear The Rushmores on those golden oldies stations. But there are a beaucoup load of fans out here. We remember the days when they looked down from Music Mountain, and we dream what might have been. The four lads from Liverpool would have had some real competition.

Near 500 words: TW and the Existential Threat

TW (aka The Writer) wasn’t sure why he had said, “Soon.” The word just tossed itself out of his mouth as TW stood beside Cat’s graveside. As he carried his shovel, his lantern and his Bible back to the house, he wondered about what Cat would think of the word. Surely she would have something to say about it. She always had something to say. And it would have been brief. Though the words came out in meows, TW always had the drift of her comments. It was almost as if they could read each other’s mind.

He sat the shovel and the lantern inside the shed and headed inside the house. The clock on the stove said one a.m. Sitting the Bible on the kitchen table, he grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. His eyes hit upon Cat’s food and water bowls. He should have placed them beside her in the grave.

Then he dropped into a chair in the living room, facing the TV. He let the TV be and closed his eyes to listen to the quiet and clear his head from the discombobulation of the day’s events.

He had gone to work early, then seen the director. The director had given him a year’s sabbatical beginning that afternoon. He went over to H.R., filled out the paperwork, then came home. The door was unlocked. He heard a meowing at the door. It was Cat. She was bleeding. He rushed her to the veterinarian hospital. Helen had been the vet on duty. She had gently let him know that Cat was…dead.

It was ten p.m.when he made it home. He buried Cat. And now here he sat in the living room in the dark.

The curtains to the front window were parted. As if in a dream, he saw Cat lying on the back of the couch, looking out at the half lit street. Her tail was moving like a windshield wiper. Her focus was amazing. She’d lay there for two, three hours at a time, looking. He’d lay his head next to her, trying to see what she was staring at.

His eyes moved around the thinly lit room. Everything reminded him of Cat. Her toys. The scratch board. The wadded up paper he threw at her and she kicked back at him, like the two playing soccer.

Then the loneliness hit him. His only friends, other than Cat, were his colleagues at work and a few of the faculty. And he wouldn’t have them now that he was on a sabbatical. He had never been someone who needed or wanted a lot of friends. He’d fallen in love with the idea of the writer as a solitary creature.

An idea came to him. He would write Cat’s biography. He had dozens of pictures. He was good enough of a writer to make it a book people would want to read. People would discover the person he’d spent his last eight years with.

The next thing he knew the doorbell was ringing.

Moonlight and midday

The sea is blue
at high tide at night,
a moon above
a great ball of light,
stars sprinkling on
a canvas of sky,
gulls cawing out,
“Come with us and fly.”

Dolphins and whales
through the seas they run,
singing their songs
under moon and sun.
Waves of water
rising and falling,
sea and the wind
hear the shore calling.

Blue and the blue
the sky and the sea
and the white clouds
and shadows of trees.
Sand brown beaches
nesting turtle eggs
till the sea calls
from the water’s edge.

The sun setting,
moon rise in the east,
stars returning,
the great and the least.
The horizon
a distance away,
sea and the sky,
moonlight and midday.

The sea is blue
at high tide at night.

Near 500 words: TW and the Egyptian Cats

It isn’t enough to say that TW (aka The Writer) was crying as he headed his car home. In the passenger seat was Cat, lying in a box. He was weeping.

Overcome by grief, he pulled his car over to the side of the road and cut off the engine. Sitting there, looking down into the darkness at the box, he could still feel Cat’s presence. “What am I going to do?” he asked the dead cat.

He heard Cat whisper back, “It’s okay. You’ll do fine. I may be gone but I will still be with your.”

A flashlight shone into his face. “Sir?”

TW looked up at the police officer.

“Are you okay?

TW shook his head. “Yes, I’m okay.”

“Are you sure?” The policeman’s voice was soft with caring.

TW managed to hold back his crying but his voice broke. “I just lost my cat.”

“I see.” Then the flashlight went off, and the cop was gone.

TW started the engine and pulled out onto the road. He drove slowly to make sure he didn’t have an accident.

When he pulled up into his driveway, it seemed like days since he had gotten into his car to take Cat to the vet. He eased himself out of the car. He went to the shed beside the house and took out a shovel.Then he went inside for a flashlight.

Standing on the back porch, he studied the yard and found the perfect place. One of Cat’s favorite spots in the yard. It was beside the azalea bush.

In the dark, he began digging. He pushed the shovel into the ground. The dirt gave way easily. Then again he did the same motion until he had a hole several feet deep. The sweat poured down his face.

He returned to the car and gently lifted Cat out. The weight was lighter than he remembered. He took the box into the living room. He sat Cat onto his coffee table.

For the next half hour, he showered, then put on a suit and tie. He couldn’t imagine giving Cat a sendoff without being properly dressed. It was only right. Cat deserved the respect. Then it came to him that this was why the Egyptians took so much care burying their cats. They weren’t just pets. They were friends, companions, soul mates.

Yes, Cat must have been his soul mate. That’s how close they were.

He finished the knot in his tie, buttoned his suit jacket, and checked his shoes to see if they were properly shined.

In the living room, he looked down on Cat. She looked peaceful on her tummy, her head resting on her paws. He took a Bible off his bookshelf and he opened it up to the Twenty-third Psalm and he read it to Cat. It was more for him than Cat, and it helped.

He laid the Bible down on the coffee table and picked Cat’s box up.

Standing beside the grave, he lowered the box into the ground. Under a full moon, he had one final look at his companion and heard himself say, “Soon.”