Near 500 words: The Nates

The two Nates met on a Saturday night. It was a Blind Date. As they were eating their burgers, Natalie said, “Wouldn’t it be funny?”

“If we fell in love?” Nathaniel finished her sentence.

“And got married?” Natalie finished his sentence.

“Let’s do that,” Nathaniel added.

The Blind Date turned into more dates till finally Nate asked Nate to marry him. Nate agreed and began to plan the wedding. They sent out invitations with N & N engraved on them.

Instead of a wedding dress and a tux, the bride dressed as Tweedledee and the groom was Tweedledum. It was the thing Nates would do. After all, she was tall and he was tall. She had long auburn hair and him, his hair was not so much.

He was bald. Gravity had tugged on his hair and pulled it through his head and downward into a long beard. But it was a nice beard, well-groomed in a groom sort of way.

In the chapel, they did their I-doeses to the applause of friends and family. At the reception, the best man, whose name was Charlie, toasted the couple. The maid of honor looked across the table and gave him the look. You know the one. The one that says it’s love at first sight. Her name was Charly.

Nate turned to Nate and said, “Before you know it—”

Nate finished the groom’s sentence, “they’ll be doing the Charleston.”

Then Nate and Nate went off to Hawaii for two weeks. They surfed. They snorkeled. They went to a luau. They rode motorcycles up the side of a volcano.

They came back pregnant. Soon Nate’s belly was balloon-size. They were having twins. The babies were born. Charly and Charlie came to the hospital to see the newborns. Charly was pregnant.

“When are you due?” Nate asked from her hospital bed.

“Seven months,” the beginning-to-show Charly answered, then smiled as she looked at the newborns.

Charlie looked up from the babies in their crib and over at Nate in her bed. “She has your smile.”

“He has your eyes,” Charly said to the father, standing beside his wife’s bed. “Do you have names picked out?”

“We do,” Nate said through his beard.

“I suppose,” Charly said as she felt her belly. It felt like a kick but it probably was too soon for that.

Her husband added, “it will be Nate and Nate.”

“Heck no,” Nate said from her bed. “That would be dumb.”

Nate agreed. “No, we’re calling them—”

From her bed, Nate said, “Smith and Jones.”

The soon-to-be father, asked, “Which one is Smith and which one is Jones?”

The new mom announced, “The girl is the older one. So her name is Jones.”

“And the boy is Smith,” Nate said.

Both Charly and Charlie gave them a look that said, “How did you choose which was which?”

Nate’s wife answered, “Oh that’s easy. The first one out was Jones. So it’s obvious that Smith has to keep up with the Jones.”

 

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Near 500 words: The Great Hat War

Doris came home from the market upset. She stormed through the front door and passed Charles on the sofa and into the kitchen.

Her husband of forty years closed his newspaper and folded it neatly. He rose and followed his wife into the kitchen. She was angrily putting things away. Charles went to kiss her on the cheek.

She glared at him. “Don’t you dare.”

“What’s wrong, Sweet’ems?” he asked.

Sweet’ems was in no mood to be Sweet’ems. “Don’t Sweet’ems me.”

This was not good. Not good at all. Charles was concerned. He had not seen his wife this upset since the Big Shoe Expedition of 1896.

Doris glared at Charles. “Fine mess,” she mumbled. “That Henrietta Dumpling and her snide remarks.”

Uh-oh, Charles knew there was going to be trouble. He just had to figure out how to escape the firing squad.

Doris finished her work in the kitchen, then headed to the bedroom, mumbling.

Charles went back to the living room and his newspaper. This Serbian thing was getting serious. Austria-Hungary declaring war. That was not good. Soon the Russians, then the Germans. Before you knew it, France would be in the thick of it and he’d be called up to serve in the General Staff. He did not have a good feeling about this. He remembered the last time France and German were at loggerheads.

Doris came out of the bedroom. “Does this or does this hat not look lovely?” It was the blue hat with the fruit in Doris’ hand.

Charles remembered how much the hat had cost. “Of course, it’s beautiful.”

“That Henrietta Dumpling just laughed at it.”

Charles sat the newspaper down and went over and hugged his wife. “What are you upset for? Henrietta Dumpling has absolutely no sense of style at all.”

“She laughed at my hat. My beautiful hat.”

To calm his wife down, he gave her an offer she couldn’t refuse. “Tell you what. We’re going out and buy you a new hat. Then you can wear it to the opera Saturday. I have tickets to the Puccini and Rosetta Arpin is singing the lead.”

Doris kissed her husband.“You know how much I love Rosetta Arpin. And a new hat. You are the best. Tonight you will get a special treat.”

“You have to promise one thing.”

She had that look on her face like she was not sure she was going to like the promise. But then again it was for a new hat. And the opera.

“No more mention of Henrietta Dumpling. You promise?”

“She is always at the market.”

“That she is. We’re just going to have to come up with a strategy. After all, she has crossed the Rubicon. Insulting my Sweet’ums’ hat. How dare her?”

A fishy smell story

Gabriela’s husband was a fishmonger. Every night Juan came home smelling like fish. She hated that smell so much. Sometimes it made her sick. But she loved Juan all the way to her deepest heart. He was a wonderful father to their baby, Pedro, and he had the kindest of hearts. She wanted better for the man she loved and for her son.

Gabriela went to see Father David. She told him how she felt about Juan and the fish.She picked up her baby who had been crawling on the floor. “Father, I cannot stand the smell.”

“That is a problem.” Father David did not have an answer for Gabriela, except to say she perhaps Our Lady would help with the smell.

On her way out, she lit a candle for Juan and prayed the Hail Mary. Then she asked the Mother for help.

Father David watched her walk down the dirt road back to the shack where she and Juan lived. He smiled. These were two of his best parishioners. Unlike the others, they never complained about their lives. Except for this once.

The next evening Juan came to see Father David.

“Father, I have a problem.”

“Yes,” Father David answered.

“It is Gabriela. I love her so much.”

“I know. I see you together.”

“It is the fish.”

Father David could smell the fish on Juan.

“They stink,” Juan said.

“Yes, they do.”

“Gabriela cannot stand the smell. And I do not blame her. Things were good when we first married but now. They are bad.”

“I am sorry to hear this.”

“I could get a job as a carpenter. I am good with my hands and I am good with the wood.”

“Wood doesn’t smell. It’s true.”

“But there is one problem.”

“There is always a problem. This is why God is there for us.”

“I’m afraid this one is not so easy to solve. Even for God”

Father David had seen God perform miracles. He had seen Him change hearts. So there was no problem God could not solve.

Juan hesitated, then he let out what was on his mind. “I am a sinner.”

“We are all sinners.”

“No, I am a sinner. I cannot resist temptation.”

Father David assured Juan, “You must pray to Our Lady. She knows your heart.”

“No, Father, my heart is wicked.”

Father David was taken aback by Juan’s insistence. “You must pray. What sin could there be Our Lady would not help you with?”

Juan’s voice went into a whisper as if others could hear him. No one could. The church was empty. “It is women. They love me. And I cannot resist them.”

Father David was floored. He choked down his response, then said, “Women love you? I don’t understand.”

“In the days before I met Gabriela, every night three or four women were after me. I was not a happy man. Then I met Gabriela. She was different than all the other women I had known. I had to come up with a plan. Even on my wedding night, there was a woman knocking on my door. That is why we left the city and came here. That is why I became a fish monger. The women now all turn and runaway when they smell me. I cannot go back to the days before. I love my wife so much. But I am about to lose her.”

Father David was stunned. He did not have an answer. Except one. “Let us pray to Our Lady and Her Son.”

The two prayed.

Our Lady heard Juan’s prayer. She went to Her Son and told Him the story. Her Son was taken aback. “Women cannot resist this Juan? That is a dilemma. Let Me give it some thought.”

That night the Lord couldn’t sleep. He lay tossing and turning. Juan’s dilemma was a challenge. He had looked down and seen Juan’s treatment of his wife and son. And how he even treated the beggar on the street. If ever there was a kind man, it was Juan. What could He do?

Like so many of His ideas, the Lord came up with a solution while taking a shower the next morning. He would send an angel. And so He did.

The angel’s name was Derwood. While Gabriela slept, Derwood sprinkled some stardust on her nose. The next morning Gabriela woke up bright and early. The birds were singing. The cat was meowing. It was like Gabriela was experiencing a whole new world. Juan came to the table for his usual breakfast. Funny thing was Gabriela couldn’t smell the breakfast. She couldn’t smell Juan.

That night when Juan came home, he wore his usual bad smell. But Gabriela couldn’t smell him. She realized that she couldn’t smell. She was so happy. She kissed her husband. And it was the best of kisses. Our Lady and Her Son had performed a miracle.

The next day, she and Pedro went to the church and lit a candle of thanksgiving. As she left the church, a beautiful woman approached her.

“Senora, you have a very handsome son. Can I hold him? He is so irresistible.”

The April Fool’s Day Bride

Teri was a lovely bride. Mika had never seen any lovelier. Dressed in white from her shoes to the veil on her head, Teri made her way down the aisle, her train following two feet behind her. When she passed Mika, she turned toward her sister and winked that wink she had. It said that Teri had a surprise in store for her groom. Mika just knew that wasn’t good. Teri’s surprises could be extreme.

Teri had chosen April Fool’s Day for a reason. John, the groom, objected but Teri was adamant. “It’s that day or not at all.” Teri could be stubborn like that. John knew Teri’s sense of humor and the practical jokes she pulled. They were legendary. So he stood at the altar, anxious as all get-out. He wasn’t sure what was to come but he knew something was up. He just had to wait.

Teri’s parents knew trouble was on its way as well. So did the rest of the wedding attendees. Many were on pins and needles waiting for the axe to fall down. Others came just to see the surprise Teri had planned.

Teri reached the altar. Like the supporting actor he was, her father kissed his daughter on the cheek, then moved offstage. The couple said their I-doeses. The minister introduced the Mr. and Mrs. to the world, then the couple rushed down the aisle.

Mika gave a sigh of relief. Teri had held back on her surprise. Now it was on to the reception. That must be where Teri was to deliver her whammy. The wedding reception went smoothly, not any sign of a practical joke.

When the waiter brought in the wedding cake, Mika thought that this must be it. The cake would blow up, and there would be a mess everywhere. Mika managed to get to the back of the attendees just in case. The bride cut the cake, then the waiters laid slices of cake on plates and passed them out. Mika took a bite. The cake was delicious. Finally, it was time for the bride and groom to head for Hawaii for their honeymoon.

After they were gone, Mika asked her mom, “What just happened?”

“I don’t know. She’s not planning on destroying the honeymoon I hope.”

“I hope not too.”

“Poor John.” He mother shook her head.

Deep down there was terror in Mika and her mother’s hearts. They remembered Teri’s prom. She almost blew up the gym. She would’ve if her father hadn’t stopped her plans. They remembered how she had made her college campus news. Somehow she had switched every one of her sorority sister’s clothes around. It took weeks for each woman to get all her clothes back. The stunt had gotten Teri expelled.

On her first date with John, she had put jalapeno peppers in his chocolate mousse. After he calmed his mouth down, he had a good laugh over the incident. During their year of dating, Teri had given him a lot of good laughs.

Two weeks later, Teri and John came back from Hawaii. When asked, John commented, “I’m not sure what happened. But something’s coming. I just know it.”

Mika took Teri aside. “What’s going on?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

“The joke? When’s it coming?”

“Oh, that.” Teri laughed.

“You’ve got something planned. What is it?”

“Sometimes a joke is no joke at all.” There was that impish grin on her face.

“What?”

“I’m just saying,” Teri said. “One thing is for sure.”

“And what would that be?”

“He’d better remember our anniversary. Otherwise–let’s just say, I’m saving up.”

 

 

Wedded Bliss

As Dave walked through the front door, he stopped in mid-whistle. Norah did not greet him with his coming-home kiss. Instead she stood in the living room with her hands on her hips. It looked like she was ready for combat.

“The bed was unmade,” Norah said to her husband. “Your bed was unmade.”

“Yes?”

“Why did you do that?” Anger was in her voice.

“I was in a hurry.”

“You wanted me to make your bed, didn’t you?”

“No. I would do what I used to do. I would make it when I got home. I’m home now. I’ll make my bed.”

“You’re turning into a husband. You know that?”

“Well, I am your husband. Why are you getting so upset?”

“Oh, I hate when you do that.”

“When I do what?”

“That smug tone in your voice.”

“What smug tone in my voice?”

“Oh,” Norah said frustrated, then she walked away.

Dave looked at her back. “What? No welcome home kiss?”

Norah turned and glared at Dave. “You know what you can kiss.” Then she left for the kitchen.

Dave went into the bedroom. Both twin beds were made. He walked back toward the kitchen. Then decided against it. This was no time to be near her. She might throw something. Most likely she would miss but why take chances.

Dave had fallen in love with Norah because of her passion. The thing was lately she was getting passionate over things that didn’t matter. Then he remembered his father’s advice. “It’s the little things that matter.”

Thinking about his father’s wisdom, Dave sneaked out the front door. Fifteen minutes later, he was back. He walked into the kitchen and said, “These came for you.”

Norah turned and saw the roses. She rushed into Dave’s arms. They kissed, then she said, “I’m sorry.”

Dave smiled and said, “I’m sorry too. From now on, I’ll make the bed.”

Recently, at their fortieth wedding anniversary, they were asked, “What makes a good marriage?”

Without thinking, Dave said, “Making the bed.”