Capital L

On Thanksgiving, our six year old son was nearly crushed by a 200lb, metal, lighted Santa Claus decoration. 

We went to the North Georgia mountains for the holiday to do some hiking and waterfall searching amongst the quiet of the pines, away from the hustle and bustle of destination resort town like our hometown of Orlando. 

It was great. At first. 

Then Santa slipped his tension wires just as our son was playing off-path in a park in Helen, GA. We told him repeatedly to come back, but he didn’t listen. The road less traveled was too tempting for him, and he paid the price. Let that be a lesson to all you would-be commencement speakers who quote Robert Grost. As a result, we spent Thanksgiving night in a remote Georgia ER, hoping for the bleeding to stop, and that our son had no brain abnormalities beyond those our genetics gifted him at birth.  

He was fine. No worries.  He DOES have a healthy distrust of Santa Claus now, though. Which is probably a good thing. 

In December, one of the stitches from my cornea transplant (from wayback in 2012) made its way loose. I had it removed, but apparently the place where said stitch used to be is now infected, which is a bad thing for transplants. The doctor says I’m 50/50 on whether I’ll lose the eye. 

“We’ll have to wait and see,” he said. Then, he added: “No pun intended.”

I’ve been here a few times over the years. Cornea transplants can reject easily, especially for those who are prone to rub their eyes with dirt-encrusted hands after wrestling with kids in the backyard. I’m hopeful things pull through. They always have up till now. It just means a few harrowing days of partial blindness and another doctor’s visit next Wednesday. Then, it’s either a few steroid drops and my eye becomes Arnold Schwarzenegger, or a I undergo surgery which will turn me into a white Nick Fury

Whatever happens, I’m living in the tension of waiting for things to return to normal, which is a tension I think we’re all familiar with lately. 

It would be easy to say that I can’t wait for Christmas break to end, for the kids to go back to school and me back to work. There IS a part of me that goes there, just like there’s a part of me that lamented being so far away from home when Santa assaulted my progeny. 

We yearn for normalcy, for predictability. But life isn’t normal. It rarely conforns to the best laid plans of mice and men.

When you focus on being normal, you miss capital-L life right in front of you. Like families laughing at each other when someone forgets to unmute themselves on the now-annual Holiday Zoom get-together. There is joy in the trenches and sadness in the peaks, because Life exists in both places. To focus on returning to Normal LIfe is to miss Life entirely. 

I’m spending the day after Christmas with the kids, watching Miyazaki films and eating popcorn (the same popcorn I got qs a gift from Captech as a gift for  Christmas. Thanks, CT!). Tomorrow, we’ll toss baseball in the backyard. On Wednesday, we’ll find out which path I take with my eyesight and go from there. Nothing I can do about it now, so there’s no point missing out on popcorn, movies, and baseball while we wait, right?

I feel good about this decision. 

Saturn’s Eye – Jamie Greening

A long-fought battle between two powerful forces finds a truce. But that truce is tenuous at best. Years after the truce was signed, rumblings of disagreements speak of a new war between the old foes, and the machinations of war once again resurrect to fight anew.

Is it the new Matrix: Resurrections film?

No! It’s today’s Fondue Christmas story from Jamie Greening, a sequel to last year’s story. It’s called Saturn’s Eye, and it’s ready for you, dear reader, over at the Greenbean site. Check it out. You will not be disappointed.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, that Christmas miracles really do come true.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Dr Paul Bennett finishes us off on Friday, and then it’s Christmas and a new year. We’ll be back in the Winter and Spring with the occasional Free, Holiday-themed short story (and maybe some other things). Don’t you worry. Until then, enjoy the holiday of your choice, watch out for the New Year’s Baby’s diaper, and, as always … don’t break anything.

An Other Christmas – Kathy Kexel

Aliens and Manger Scenes, Batman!

That’s the first thing that popped into my head when I ventured into today’s Fondue Writer’s Christmas story from Kathy Kexel. But that’s only because my brain is weird and operates in mysterious ways.

Today, Kathy Kexel blends Amish culture with science fiction with political intrigue and the Greatest Story Ever Told to come up with a wonderful tale of foreigners seeking refuge in unknown lands and finding a new place to call home.

There are also cows.

Check out An Other Christmas by Kathy Kexel.

Germany, place unknown | 2011 04 | Dairy cow on the “Kattendorfer Hof”.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, that Christmas miracles really do come true.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Jamie D Greening will be back with us on Wednesday. Until then, be kind to your neighbors, celebrate the miracle of Christmas with those you love, and, as always … don’t break anything.

Santa Who? – Derek Alan Elkins

One day, many years ago, I saw a movie in which a young woman was accosted by Bigfoot behind a dumpster. Shortly there after, Bill pullman was playing a saxophone in a night club, and then he exploded. After that, a mechanic was taken for a ride in a limousine, and the limo drove off the cliff, revealing a young woman who then made her way to the restaurant where she would later be accosted by Bigfoot.

There were also midgets. Because Reasons.

Today’s story is from the delightfully weird Derek Alan Elkins is kinda like that. I have no idea where it’s going and no idea what it means. But it’s there and it probably means something. Merry Christmas.

Check out Santa Who? by Derek Alan Elkins. And watch out for Bigfoot.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, that Christmas miracles really do come true.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Kathy Kexel will be back with us on Monday, then it’s Jamie Greening and Paul Bennet to bring us on home to Christmas. Until then, don’t take strange boxes from people with hamster fetishes, watch out for Bigfoot, and always … don’t break anything.

The Worst Christmas Miracle Ever – Rob Cely

The consequences of our actions spread out like a spiderweb throughout our lives. Approach an intersection and stop, and your whole life can change from what would have happened had you continued on.

Or, as we see in today’s story from Rob Cely, someone else’s life can turn on the pivots you make, even if those pivots are less than desirable from your perspective.

Check out The Worst Christmas Miracle Ever by Rob Cely and think about all the Maybes, all the What-Ifs, all the If-Onlys in your life .. and what unforeseen consequences might have resulted.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, that Christmas miracles really do come true.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Derek Alan Elkins will be back on Friday with the next story. Until then, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel, and, as always, don’t break anything.

The Best Christmas Ever

Ladies and Gentlepersons! Come one, Come all to the somewhat annual, Aawesometastical, Splendiferous Fondue Writer’s Club (and Bar & Grille and Laundromat)’s FREE FLASH FICTION CHRISTMAS EXPLODE-A-GANZA!

We have a lot of great stories in store for you this year, and we can wait for you to read them. Before we get into that, I just wanted to say thanks for joining us in our slog through the holidays this year. We hope you’re all healthy, that you’re all happy, and that Santa brings you everything you wanted this year.

In an effort to save the best for the “not first” position, I’m leading off again. Here’s my story … THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER
**** **** **** **** **** **** ****

It started off innocently enough. 

“Hey Joey. Wanna get some ice cream?” 

“Sure, Mom!” 

I was eight  years old, and my brain hadn’t developed enough yet to realize that when Mom comes right out and offers ice cream, there are always strings attached. 

Five minutes later, she pulled into the parking lot at our church 

“Just go to play practice, sweetie. We’ll get ice cream afterward.” 

“But MOM. I don’t WANNA be in the Christmas play.” 

Mom had been doing this to me for years, tricking me into being a part of the annual Children’s Christmas Cantata at Forest Park Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I was a wise man one year, and a cowboy on crutches the next. But the worst was the last year when I had to play the back half of the Christmas Donkey for an hour long manger scene. 

There’s nothing worse than making a literal ass of yourself on stage.

This year, I had vowed not to participate, but my mother was cunning, playing on my love of sweets, and as I watched her drive away I knew there was no getting around it. I had lost yet again. 

Because I was one of the oldest and most outgoing kids, the director handed me the lead part: the Angel Gabriel. I had to wear a flowy white gown, and say the big line at the end:  “His name will be Jesus, the savior of all mankind.” 

My friends caught wind of the story, and keyed in on the gown. 

“Dude! You’re wearing a dress? ON STAGE? I’m bringing a camera. I NEVER want to forget this!” 

Two months of agonizing play practice later, and the night of the play arrives. The audience is packed. My family is in the front, my friends with brand new disposable cameras sitting in the back. Everyone I knew or interacted with was there to see me make a ffool of myself yet again.

The play went on as planned. We got to my big line at the end, I stepped forward in my flowy white gown, heard the hundred snaps of disposable documenting my humiliation, and reached skyward.

“His name will be…. “

But my mind went blank. Nothing. Zip, Zilch, Nada.

In a Baptist Church on CHRISTMAS EVE, I had forgotten Jesus’ name.

But that’s not the bad part. The bad part is what came next.

“HIs name will be … F(UDGE), I orgot my line. 

Only I didn’t say FUDGE. 

Confession time. I come from a long line of people who RAISE the use of profanity almost to an art form. And in what was likely my most horrific display of artisanal linguistic prowess to date, I dropped the F-Bomb right there in church. 

I watched from the stage as the effect hit the audience like a tidal wave. 

Parents covered their childrens ears. The old ladies in the back frowned in disgust. The deacons snickered.  My friends in the front put down their cameras and just started clapping.

It was pandemonium. 

The last thing I saw was a little blonde girl in the front who turned to her mother and said “Mommy, what does F(udge) mean?” right as the curtain closed on yet another successful Christmas Youth Cantata at Forest Part Baptist Church. 

The car ride home was silent. I could feel my mother fuming in the front seat as the wheels in her brain turned over several sadistic punishments she would lay out for me when we got home. 

But My Father broke the silence

“You know what, son, I think you’re probably a little too old to be in the church Christmas play. I think this was your last year.” 

“Yeah dad?”

“Yeah. I was thinking that last year after the donkey incident.” 

“Alright!”  

Mom crossed her arms in a huff as her gauntlet of punishments evaporating into thin air. She would eventually find a way to pay me back for my insolence. But it would not be this day. 

“Hey dad?” 

“Yeah son?” 

“Can we get some ice cream on the way home?” 

“Sure! That sounds Great!” 

We hadn’t even opened presents yet and, already I knew this would be the best Christmas Ever.

**** **** **** **** ****

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, that Christmas miracles really do come true.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Rob Cely will be back on Wednesday with the next story. Until then, watch your language, keep an eye out for kids in flowy white gowns, and, as always, don’t break anything.

Pie Wars – Kathy Kexel

Kathy Kexel ends this year’s Thanksgiving Explode-A-Ganza with a story about family. And pie. And Family. And More Family. There’s an awful lot of family in there. Check out her story: Pie Wars.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, wondering if the monsters in our heads matter only to us, or if one day they might come out of the dark to terrify you as well.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Thanks for joining us on the Thanksgiving Short story Free fiction journey, everyone. We’re so happy you joined us. Check back in a few weeks for the Christmas party. Can’t wait to see you there!

The Second Thanksgiving – Jamie D. Greening

Some people like Turkey and Pumpkin Pie and all the trimmings when it comes to their Thanksgiving festivities. Some people can’t wait for the threill of late night or early morning Black Friday free-for-all’s.

And some people, like today’s Fondue writer, Jamie D Greening, like to include science fiction and psychedelic hallucinations, like a Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter S. Thompson love child.

Check out the strange gift Jamie has given us with today’s Thanksgiving story: The Second Thanksgiving.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, wondering if the monsters in our heads matter only to us, or if one day they might come out of the dark to terrify you as well.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Kathy Kexel finishes off the Thanksgiving Explode-A-Ganza tomorrow, then we’re off a few weeks, and then we’re back for Christmas. Peace, Love, and Tanksgiving, everyone.

The Best Thanksgiving – Derek Alan Elkins

Confession time. Derek and I sat together at a Buffalo Wild Wings this past weekend, discussing what we planned to write for our stories. There was discussion of MOnsters from the depth of insanity, strange diseases that wiped out the whole of humanity, and yet another ear-splitting album from mankind’s greatest enemy: Celine Dion.

But, in the end, we both KNEW we’d settle on something sweet and endearing. Scratch a horror/strange fiction writer and you have a big softie underneath. Scratch THAT, and you have another horror novelist. And so on. There are lots of layers involved.

Take a break from the hecticnessisity of the holiday season and bask in the glow of Derek Alan Elkins’s wonderful short story: The Best Thanksgiving.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, wondering if the monsters in our heads matter only to us, or if one day they might come out of the dark to terrify you as well.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Jamie Greening will be back with us tomorrow with his take on Thanksgiving. Until then, give your parents and grandparents a call, and make sure not to break anything.

What Remains Unseen – by Dr Paul Bennett

Paul Bennett knows relationships. He knows them so well, he could write novel after novel espousing the intricacies therein.

Today’s Thanksgiving Flash Fiction story is called What Remains Unseen, and it’s a beautiful story about a young woman and her grandpa. Follow the rabbit down the nostalgia hole here.

If you have the time, please check out the sites for ALL of the Fondue Writers: Joseph CourtemancheJamie D. GreeningKathy KexelDerek Alan ElkinsRob Cely, and Dr. Paul Bennet. If you like what you see, why not pick up a few copies of their books? It covers the cost of everything, and it gives us hope in those long, dark nights when we’re dreaming up new stories, wondering if the monsters in our heads matter only to us, or if one day they might come out of the dark to terrify you as well.

If you’d like what you see, you might also check out our first collection of short stories, The Covid Quarantine Catina, written during the first months of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It’s available in Kindle, Paperback, and Audio formats.

Derek Alan Elkins will be back with us on Monday. Have a great weekend, everyone, and try not to break anything.