Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chapter 13

Chapter 13

    The next day started with a trio of phone calls at five o'clock in the morning. They each picked up their wake up calls and sleepily greeted the operator. After a few minutes, the showers of the suites two bathrooms could be heard, along with show tunes being sung loudly but beautifully from the smaller bathroom. The old man enjoyed the shower and the serenade, feeling fully refreshed and ready to start the day. He carefully dressed, aiming to go for sporty but comfortable, knowing they had a long day ahead of them.
  He emerged from his room of the suite, to see mike sitting at the table enjoying a cup of orange juice and reading the morning paper. The old man stretched and made his way to the table, pouring a glass of juice and sitting down.
     "What's for breakfast?" asked the old man.
     "Number fifty one." said Sukie coming out from the room behind them.
     "Fifty one?" asked mike.
     "You don't mean..." started the old man who trailed off as Sukie nodded.
     "Yep!" she answered excitedly.
     "Oh, awesome! We'll take a cab too?" asked the old man, the excitement palpable in his voice. Sukie nodded as the old man beamed. "that's two down early today. Excellent."
     Mike sat there for about half a minute in silence as he contemplated his juice, before the light bulb went on over his head. "Are we going to Tiffany and Company?" he asked.
    "Yes, you got it in one." answered Sukie. "figure, today, we'll be doing a lot of literary things in the morning."
    "Literary?" asked Mike. 
    "Yeah," said the old man, "If I'm not mistaken, we will be headed out to visit some of the places in some of my favorite books."
    "Which books?" asked mike, sounding very interested in what the answer would be. 
    "For starters, Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman capote." said the old man as Sukie and mike nodded. Mike glanced out the open window and saw the exterior of the museum of natural history framed by the trees of central park.
     "Let me guess," started Mike, as he glanced out the window again. "You still wonder about the ducks in the pond." said mike. The old man laughed and nodded. Sukie nodded her head as she said, "Yep, we're following the catcher in the rye today too."
  "I've always loved that book," missed the old man. "It's a sort of escapist fiction, I guess," he said as he shrugged. "It's always been my favorite genre. I guess, that's partly why I was inspired to make the list."
    A knock was heard at the door. The old man looked Down At his watch and said. "At least our man is pretty close to punctual. It's just about six now." Mike nodded in agreement ad he went to the door. He glanced out the peep hole, and took a step back and stood up straight as he opened the door.
   From the table, all Sukie and the old man could see was mike standing straight as a pillar peering through the open door. They heard a gruff voice say, "Permission to come aboard?"
     Mike smiled, and saluted as he stepped aside while saying "Permission granted, you old bugger! Get on in here!"
     The man who entered stood about six feet six inches, with an impressive beard and mustache on his smiling face. He was carrying a paper bag and a carrying tray with four coffees on it.
    "Mike, take this stuff, I gotta fix my gear." he said as he handed mike the tray of coffee. Mike walked inside and set the coffees Down onto the table, as the large man adjusted an impossibly large backpack. He carefully set it down, and made his way to the table.
    "Hey, I'm Don, I'll be your silent partner today" said the large man as he reached across the table and shook Sukie's hand first, and then the old mans next. "I got the call from Mr. Wong last night, and I happened to be in town, with plenty of free time, and so, here I am."
    The four chatted for a few moments, discussing the days plans. Don glanced at his watch, and said, "No time better than the present to get going, we can get a great view of manhattan henge, and the streets around Tiffany's won't be so clogged." They agreed, and put themselves together to go out.
    Ten minutes later, they were in front of the building, mike and don with cameras in tow, Sukie and the old man carrying breakfast, waiting for a cab. "You three in the first cab. I'll meet you there in a few minutes." said don, as he moved around filming.
    "you sure?" asked the old man.
    Don laughed. "Ronin picked me because I'm practically like a ghost if I need to be. You'll barely notice me, but I will be around." Mike nodded, "He's the best of the best. With him, there's nit a shot that will be missed."
     Don laughed, "Now, I'm going to end up with a swelled head. Okay. Enough chat. We'll meet up for lunch later. Have fun!"
     The hotel doorman waved down the next cab that passed, and opened the door for the three. Sukie climbed in first, followed by the old man and then Mike.
     "Where to?" asked the driver in a heavy Brooklyn accent.
    "Tiffany's, please." said the old man, beaming.
    "Okay." said the driver as he pulled off into traffic. The old man looked out the windows.
    "The city is so calm this time of day," remarked the old man as they easily navigated the streets. "Sukie, you gotta take a picture of is in the cab, you know, this is my first cab ride ever." The cab driver laughed as he heard the old man speak.  Sukie held the camera at arms length and snapped a photo of the trio in the cab. They looked out the windows, pointing out landmarks.
    They were driving through central park, and the old man leaned forward and asked the driver "Hey, sir, you ever wonder what happens to the ducks in the pond in the winter?"
     The cab driver laughed heartily then replied, "You know, I usually get that question driving through here. I ended up looking it up. Turns out the ducks never leave, they stay here year round, but if the weathers especially nasty out, they go and shelter themselves in the park."
     "Hey, thanks." said the old man. "I have always wondered about that as a kid."
    "You're nit the only one," said the driver. "They don't go into it in the book, so I looked it up in the computer. I think if google had existed when Salinger wrote that book, it would be an entirely different thing." the old man nodded in agreement. The cab pulled over in front of the granite facade of the famous jewelry store. They paid the cab driver before stepping out of the cab and stretching.
    Together, the trio walked to the first display window. Mike was careful to film the old man opening and taking the first sip of his coffee while he looked into the window in awe of the display. The diamonds glittered like prisms,and little rainbows showered the entire window.  Sukie and the old man pointed at particularly spectacular pieces in the window as they oohed and ahed.
    Eventually, they made their way around the entire building after carefully examining all the windows. An older man came out from the front door of the store, and approached the trio.
    "Hello, we were expecting you!" said the man. The three looked at him, surprised.
    "Expecting us?" asked the old man.
    "Yes, we have arranged a special private tour for you, Mr. Wong arranged it earlier, I take it that he left it as a surprise?"
    Sukie nodded her head. "Mr. Wong seems to be chock full of surprises on this trip."
    "Yes, I know him for many years," said the older man as he guided them inside the store. "He's pretty well known to us for spur of the minute things. We here at Tiffany's aim to please, as he always shows us in the best light. By the way, My name is Joseph, and I am one of the general managers here, and I will be leading your tour."
    They began the tour, looking through the multitude of cases on the first floor. As they finished, the old man thought that he has seen it all, until the older man guided them to the elevator in the back of the showroom. They visited all the floors, marveling at all of the amazing pieces. On the diamond floor, Joseph showed the trio a nearly flawless diamond the size of a marble. The sight of it nearly took their breath away, but the mention of the cost succeeded where the stone's beauty did not. As they finished up their tour, Joseph smiled and lead them back down to the main floor. 
    "As a token of our appreciation of you choosing to include us in your adventures, we'd like to give you a little token."  Joseph smiled and reached into the inside breast pocket of his suit jacket, and pulled out a small blue box.  He handed it to the old man. "Please open it, I insist!" he said, smiling. 
    The old man opened the box, and saw a little blue leatherette bag inside.  He finally understood why people loved getting gifts from Tiffany and Company- the presentation was impeccable.  Opening the little bag, he pulled out a small rectangular key chain, with the Tiffany and Company logo on one side, and the reverse was engraved, "Best of luck in all of your adventures, T & Co."  The old man's smile was huge as he marveled at the key chain.
    "Thank you so much! I've been collecting these, and it's a perfect reminder of this day!" The old man insisted to Sukie that she should take a picture of him and Joseph in front of the famous windows. She snapped the photo, and after they had said their farewells, they stood outside in the crisp air. They finished their breakfasts as they started walking up town towards Rockefeller center. 
     "What did Don mean when he mentioned Manhattan henge?" asked the old man. Mike smiled As he replied. "Manhattans buildings are on such a precise grid, aligned north, south, east and west, that if you stand in the right place on the right time of year, at the right time of day, the setting sun aligns with the buildings on the east west streets, and is really cool."
    "Is today the right time?" the old man asked.
    "Kinda. It might be a little early, but I could be wrong, we can check it out tonight to see." the old man was fully satisfied with Mikes answer, and they continued their way north.

Chapter 12

Chapter 12

     Together, they walked back to the hotel room. They chatted discussing how fast they were going to zip around.
     "Why don't we start tonight, no time like the present," said the old man. "We can make our way downtown, and get some amazing views of the statue of liberty."
     "Ghats not a bad idea, and we can head down through times square tonight, it really only photographs well at night, at least in my opinion." Mike shrugged as he continued. "And we can check out the lights on broadway, which will at least make for some amazing backgrounds."
     "It's fine by me," started Sukie, "But, not too late tonight, we have a day ahead of us tomorrow that's looking to be really long."
     "Agreed,"said the old man. "I don't want us to burn out on out first night here. Plus, whatever we don't get to, we can get to when we come back in the winter."
     Mike nodded in agreement. "we'll be able to get some better camera shots too with a second camera operator as well. EspeciLly in some of those tight spaces."
     After a few more minutes of enjoying the cool spring air, they made it to the hotel. Upon entering the room, they saw that the phone was blinking, indicating a message. Sukie walked to the phone and picked it up, dialing the operator as the two men picked ip their ukulele cases and brought them into the sitting room. They had planned to jam a little in the evening before bed the next day.
   Sukie set. Down the receiver, then walked to the two chatting men in the far end of the room. The look on her face was more perplexed than anything else. "The message was from Ronin." she started, "Our new camera man will be meeting us here at six tomorrow morning. He's also to have been given instruction to be a real silent partner, not allowed to be in any of the shots intentionally, and Mike, you are our in front and behind the camera voice." after this statement, the three shared glances.
     "ronin probably wasn't one hundred percent sure of the roll I sent him earlier." said Mike, shrugging. "Ronin, he's a big perfectionist, so everything he gets always has to be up to his standard, which really is a good thing, bit he's never willing to sacrifice anything to get exactly what he wants."
     Sukie nodded, "He'll tweak things till they're just right, and I think this actually will work. A second camera man, in this case will be much more fluid than A tripod, and will help promote the reality if the moment."
     "But wait," started the old man looking as perplexed as ever. "How on earth did ronin get the footage from before already?"
     Mike laughed for a moment. "I dck the cameras memory every night into the computer. Ronin reviews it every day and cuts out the most interesting bits and pieces. It's those pieces that get put into the final product, or at least it's those pieces that are featured the most in the program."
     "so you mean they're mKing the show as we do this?" he asked, sounding very amazed.
     "Yep," Sukie replied. "He will end up having one show for each major city we are in, and it will most likely be broken up into segments, which is why I think Ronin really got into the whole idea of speeding this project up."
     "I'm sure our sense of speed will really show through in the finished program." said the old man. "At least I hope that it keeps as exciting for the viewer as it is to us." he mused.
    "Well, I guess this puts a damper k our late night foray into the city tonight." said Mike. "Wanna go and jam tonight for a little bit before bed?" he asked while pointing at the ukulele cases in the sitting area.
     "No better time than the present," said the old man as he walked to his ukulele case. Mike and Sukie followed him, and the trio sat on the couches and chairs around the coffee table. They tuned their instruments and strummed a few chords. While mike and the old man rummaged through their bags for their songbooks, Sukie called Dow stairs to have some coffee went to the room.
     Together they played and sang some simple songs together. The trio heard a knock on the door midway through the next song. Mike walked to the door, still strumming, and  opened the door during a long rest in the music. He wheeled in the cart, then reached in his pocket  for a few bills to tip the young man at the door.
     He finally actually looked at the young man who happened to have a huge smile in his face for the first time.
     "Pete!" he exclaimed, nearly dropping his ukulele on the floor as he excitedly stepped closer to the young man. Sukie and the old man stopped playing and stood, looking at Mike who finally released the young man.
     "Man! I knew you lived here, but i never thought I'd run I to you like this!" exclaimed Mike as he nearly pulled Pete into the room.
    "Same here!" said Pete, who looked around the suite, and whistled. "Nice digs, so, I have to ask, what's going on, that you get the nicest suite in the building?"
     Mike quickly and very animatedly explained the while story. The old man shook his head disbelievingly at mike who to him resembled an overactive puppy during his recounting of the story. Mike did a short round of introductions then, Pete laughed and applauded at the end of mikes performance.
     "Wow! Good luck to you all!" said Pete as he made his way to the door. "I got to run before they start looking for me being on the job and all. Mike, I hope to see you on the jams soon!"
     "You mean, at the jam?" asked the old man. Mike and Pete laughed.
     "No, he means at." started mike, "My international uke group meets online at night, and we chat and play music to each other. It's how I know Pete."
     "Yep! You guys should join in if you have the time, the whole crew would get a kick out of meeting you guys." Mike and Pete chatted for a few more seconds at the door. Sukie and the old man returned to their coffee and ukuleles. Mike closed the door and made his way back to them at the couch. They each had a cup of coffee, and played a few more songs.
     Sukie yawned the. Looked at the clock. "Alright then, men, it's about midnight, and I think it's my bedtime."
     "midnight?" asked the old man, sounding shocked. "I don't think I have stayed up this late in nearly forever. Wow, I think I probably should cAll it a night too."
     "Well, I guess I should go to bed too, before I turn into a pumpkin," said mike. The three carefully packed away their ukuleles and songbooks, then plodded off to bed.

The long awaited chapter 11

Ok. I'm letting ya'll know, theres no way in anything I'll be winning nano... but I'm gonna see if I can get anywhere near the 20kish words I need by midnight...

And.. I apologise now for how horrid it's gonna get.  Chapter 11 is pretty awful.. I"m hoping the next 5 chapters are readable. (there will be continuity and other errors. I really do apologise now :) )

Without further ado... Chapter 11.
Chapter 11

    Mike and Sukie emerged from the other room minutes later.  Mike was equipped with his portable camera, and a knapsack full of necessities he'd require during his nights filming.  Sukie checked out her image in the large mirror on the wall of the main room.  She straightened her dress, and then turned to the old man.
    "So, how do I look?" she asked as she spun around.  The old man whistled and nodded his approval. "You look great!" he said as he stood when she approached the table.
    "Okay kids, we've got a teency bit of a walk ahead of us before we get to the center- we probably should get going so we can film all the what nots on the way there." said Mike as he made his way to the door.  He stood at the doorjamb looking at the two like a puppy wanting to be let out.
    The trio made their way outside, and the old man offered his arm to Sukie.  Gently placing her hand on his arm, they walked down the block as the sun set to their left. Mike followed behind them filming the scenery as they made their way across the street.  From a distance, he filmed the Rose Center for Earth and Space come into view like a giant ice cube sitting in the middle of the park. 
    The old man looked at Sukie as they saw the building. "Jeez louise! It looks like those crazy ice cubes Martha used to make, you know, with the cherries inside of them, for the punch bowl!" he exclaimed as they walked closer to the building. Mike had caught up, and was filming their reactions to the buildings.  "You know," started the old man. "Years ago, the planetarium was here, but it wasn't anywhere as spectactular as this is now.  The museum, though, it was always here as far as I know." he shrugged. "You know that book, 'Catcher in the Rye'?" Sukie nodded.  "The main character walks around the building, and describes it to a tee.  I'm pretty sure it's still the same way inside. It never changes.  Though, Holden Caulfield, you know, the main character, he never goes inside. Great book, you know?"
    As they approached the glass doors, the old man held it open as Sukie entered, and then followed her. They made their way to the ticket counter.  The young woman behind the counter smiled as she greeted her, and then handed her a prepared packet of tickets, as well as approved press badges for the three. Sukie thanked her heartily, then passed out the badges.  The trio clipped them onto their clothes as they walked around the main floor.  Various exhibits littered the floor, but the main showpiece was the nearly spherical planetarium set nearly in the center of the room.  The old man looked at it in awe, murmuring, "Yep, just like those crazy ice cubes." as he shook his head and laughed.
    Slowly he made his way around the room as he read all the exhibit placards.  He walked a complete lap, and ended up at the large asteroid, and marveled at its size.  He passed his camera to Sukie, and had her take a photo of him hugging the asteroid. 
    "Hey, Sukie, not to be a brat, but can I ask a favor?" asked the old man.
    "Sure, what can I do for you?" she asked.
    "Mind hanging onto my camera? I have a feeling there will be a ton of good photo opportunities here tonight."
    "Of course I don't mind- and it'll give me something to do when you're schmoozing."
    "Schmoozing. I don't know if I'd identify myself as a schmoozer. I might kibitz a bit, but I don't really know about schmoozing." he said, laughing.
    "Ok, go have fun, I'm going to to hang out with Mike, you go have the time of your life!" she said as she shooed him to go check out the room.  The old man made another lap of the room, knowing that Mike and Sukie were following him from a reasonably respectful distance.  After a few minutes of marveling at the asteroid again, a man behind him said, "You know, it really is pretty amazing."  Without turning the old man sighed and leaned against the railing surrounding the asteroid. "Yeah, you know, it really is.  I always wished I could be an astronaut when I was a kid."  The man moved next to him moved and leaned into the railing as well. "Me too.  Never quite got around to it, but I studied all about it a lot."
    The old man turned and looked at the man, and was taken aback to see that it was Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  "Mr. Tyson, it is truly an honor to meet you!" he said as he stood up a little straighter and stuck out his hand to shake.  The two men shook hands and spoke for a few minutes before an aide walked up and whispered into Neil's ear.
    "Alright then, Jim, it's almost time to get this show on the road, so I'll see you inside!"
    "Oh wait, before you go," started the old man, as he waved Sukie over to him. "Can I take a picture with you? My kids will get such a kick out of this!" Neil laughed and stood next to the old man. Sukie snapped the picture and then flashed a thumbs up.  "Ok, Neil! Break a leg!" he said to Neil, before he walked up into the planetarium.
    "Sukie! that was Neil Tyson! The Neil Tyson! Oh wow. I never thought he'd just come and talk to me.  Did you have any part in that?" he asked her as he shook his finger at her jestingly.
    "Honestly. No, he just meandered over here, and it looked like he took an interest in you."
    "Wow. What an honor!" the old man laughed. "Look at me, I'm like a schoolgirl gushing over her idol." they laughed for a moment before they heard the sound of bells chiming, inviting them inside to their seats.
     The old man made his way up the spiraling path to the entrance to the planetarium. He passed through the door and saw the darkened theater with wide eyes.  He looked around for a moment before taking one of the seats in the first row. Sukie and Mike took seats about half way around the theater in the back row so they would have a great view of the old man.
     After a few more moments, the crowd all got to their seats and settled down. The panel of men and women came in next and sat in the center of the room. Neil came in next and sat in the vacant seat in the middle of the group, as he would serve as moderator. The debate was spirited and lively, and the old man hung onto every word. It only felt like mere minutes has passed before they announced intermission.
     The old man stood and stretched for a few seconds before he headed over to Mike and Sukie. "What fun this is!" he said to them, while looking around the round room. "Thank you guys for making this happen" he said to Sukie. The sound of the bells ringing brought the old man out of his fan boy haze long enough for him to get back to his seat.
     The debate continued, and the old man was moved by many of the arguments presented. He knew he had plenty of food for thought from his evenings entertainment, but as the event came to a close, his mind went from food for thought to just food, as he was famished.
     The trio reassembled in the lobby area and they all had the thought of dinner on their minds. The old man glanced at his watch and saw that it was already half past eight. Together they decided to start walking down the block to the restaurant. During the walk down, mike and the old man were chatting about the debate they had seen, and how fascinating it really was. The two men felt as if they had learned. a whole lot if new information, and both knew that what they had learned was only scratching the surface of what there was to know.
     They arrived at the restaurant after the brisk but short walk. They introduced themselves to the hostess who guided them to the bar while their table was prepared. They made themselves comfortable as they watched the crowd around them. A young man impeccably dressed in a bright blue shirt came over and took their drink orders. Mike ordered a martini, Sukie a glass of white wine, and the old man a daiquiri. "Like Hemingway?" asked the waiter with a smile.
    "That would be the very one," he replied. The waiter wrote their order on a little pad of paper and walked over to the bar. The trio looked around, marveling at the scenery. The outside of the restaurant seemed tiny, and the inside was small, make no doubt of it, but the furniture was well placed to make efficient use of the space. Their drinks arrived but a minute later. The old man had a sip, and declared it to be perfect.
     The trio sat and chatted about their day so far. Neil was the recurring topic of their conversation. After a few minutes of conversation, Sukie's eyes lit up.  "I just realized who Neil is!" The two men cocked their heads to the side and looked at her.  "He's the guy who got Pluto demoted? Right?" she asked, looking triumphant in her recall.
    "Kinda sorta." Said Mike. 
    The old man nodded and replied, "It's a long story, he didn't go and say, 'Pluto, be a planet no more!'."
    Mike and the old man started talking about the whole story of how Pluto was reclassified, and the topic was of the perfect length to tide them over through their first cocktail, and straight through until the hostess walked over and said, "Alrighty then, your table is ready. I hope you don't mind, it's out in the walled garden."
    "Oh, no, that's fine," said the old man. 
    "Yes, Mr. Wong called earlier, and specifically for it," started the Hostess as she led them out the back of the restaurant. "He comes here often, and it's his favorite place to sit." She opened the door at the back, which was next to the open kitchen.  A fantastically landscaped but rather small garden sat behind the building, with four wrought iron tables, delicately draped with fine linens, with chairs that had small but elegant cushions standing at the ready.  They were set on a small paved patch towards the front of the space, and small trees lined the walls, and clusters of fragrant herb bushes sat in patches towards the back of the garden. Above them, a set of beams held squash and grape vines, the leaves serving as a roof of sorts, but further back, they could see the inky blackness of the sky.  For being in the middle of the city, this served as a sort of oasis that one could learn to crave within the concrete jungle outside.  "Oh, by the way." said the hostess as they sat at their table.  "I also want to tell you folks that usually we don't allow it, but for you, we'll make an exception, you can film in here all you need to. We'll be pleased as punch to see what comes out of it."
    "Pleased as Punch?" said the old man. "You don't hear that too often."
    "Well," she said, as she blushed slightly, "I guess I picked up the phrase in college, but I think punch is a rather pleasing thing, don't you think?"
    "I have to agree with you, miss.  Thank you!" said the old man, as she handed out the menus.  She placed a wine list on the table.  Before he looked at the Menu, Mike whipped a small tripod out of his bag, and set the camera up to take a clear set of shots from the table.  He sat down, and put a small remote control onto the table.  "Well,I'm not going to film all of dinner.  It'd be too much. I figure we'll only hit the high points or something." said Mike, with Sukie nodding her head in agreement.  The old man just shrugged, as he read over the menu. 
     The menu options were fairly limited, but there was a great amount of diversity within it. After a few minutes of reading through, the old man decided on his appetizer and main course. He closed his menu then placed it down flat on the table. A few seconds later, Mike and Sukie followed suit.
    After a few more minutes of small talk, a waitress came over to the trio and took their orders, writing it down on her little pad. She walked over to a computer terminal in the corner and pressed buttons on the screen. "Computers everywhere!" remarked the old man. "Years ago, they'd take a carbon copy and pass it to the guy cooking in the back. Now, tap tap tap, no bad handwriting to decipher. I guess it's an improvement but still, it's just still so modern."
     Their meals came soon after, and they fell silent for a few moments while they enjoyed their meals. "This is so good!" marveled Mike as he relished his pork chop. Sukie nodded as she chewed her chicken. The old man was clearly enjoying his steak. "At home, I never have steak. It's just too much or a hassle, but it really is my favorite whenever I go out."
    The trio ate their meals, discussing the topics of the lecture from earlier. The demotion of Pluto from a planet piqued some spirited debate at the table. "It was my favorite planet, you know?" said Mike wistfully.
    "At least Neil did apologize about it publicly," said the old man.
    "Yeah. But it was on a television show." responded Mike.
    "Still, you know, it's still an apology.  I'll take it." said the old man.  Sukie shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes at the two men.  "Boys, boys. Men! Okay, enough nerd talk!" she said, waving her fork at the the old man and Mike. 
    "So, then, Susan, dearest," began Mike, batting his eyelashes as he attempted to ooze charm in Sukie's general direction. "So, in your opinion, which we will indeed listen to and attempt, at most likely great personal expense, we will most likely go along with, what would you like to talk about?"
    Sukie rolled her eyes yet again, as the old man sat back and laughed at this interchange.  "Well, we've got places to be, things to do?"   
    The old man giggled as he interrupted, "Well, that's better than people to do and things to be."
    The looks on Sukie and Mike's faces were priceless.  Mike offered the old man a high five while Sukie just shook her head and laughed.  "Ok, boys," she said as she rolled her eyes and stifled a laugh. "Apparantly, age just is a number, not a disposition."
    "Hey- we resemble that remark!" said the old man, gesturing to himself and Mike.
    "Okay, we'll be serious for you Sukie," Mike said, the old man nodding in agreement. "But, only for a few minutes."
    "Well, tomorrow, I figured we'd take a walking tour of the city, check it out, we already have our list of things to do, and places to be." Mike and the old man giggled again at the statement. Sukie just ignored them as she continued along. "I figure, we'll hit as many of your New York related points tonight."
    "There's no way we can finish the list, its the wrong time of the year," said the old man, as he pulled the original list out of his pocket.  He pointed to an item about midway down the sheet of paper.  It read: "Watch the ball drop in times square at midnight on new years eve". 
    "Well, if we keep moving, we can probably use that as an end point this year, it's still 9 months away." 
    "But that'll really intensify our pace, I mean, we'll be running all over the place." said the old man, looking thoughtfully into the distance, before continuing.  "Do you guys think you'll  be up to it?" he asked, seriously looking at Sukie and Mike.
    Sukie shook her head at the old man in disbelief, "I thought broaching this topic would be a whole heck of a lot harder. Mike and I were talking about it earlier." Mike shook his head affirmatively as he chewed. "We're in if you're in."
    "Oh hell yes!" exclaimed the old man. "Lets figure this out over dinner, and then, tonight, lets have some fun!" The trio animatedly discussed their sped up schedule.  This seemed to the old man to be what seemed to be his wildest fantasy- an adventure, every day something new, a fast paced adventure, like a fantasy lifestyle. 
    As they finished their meals, they had a new list drawn up on the table.  They would be streaking across the world now attempting a speed run of the remainder of the goals on the list.  Sukie was assigned the old man's still camera.  Mike would do his darnedest to capture as much as possible on the video camera.  Mike and Sukie decided to text Ronin and let him know about their plans to push along a little faster.  Nearly instantly, Ronin reponded with a text, as Sukie said, "Ronin, he's near impossible to get on the phone, but if you text him, you can get him day or night.  I swear, I think he's connected to his crackberry in a rather immoral way.  The trio at the table smiled, then Sukie read the text.
    "Idea is impressive. Consider yourselves all stars.  Sending you another camera man soon, please keep him behind the camera, 4 is a crowd, keep me appraised on your status."
    "Wow.  Looks like we now have a silent filming partner." said Mike, shaking his head in approval.  "This'll make it easier to do a whole lot of things." Mike and Sukie looked very pleased as they ordered a round of champagne.
    They raised their glasses, and The old man, well, he was ready to go ahead and have the time of his life.  They toasted their new decision and their new plan with a glass of champagne over dessert.  "To insanity!" toasted the old man as they clinked their glasses. 
    They sat and joked as they paid their bill and left a handsome tip.  They had decided to go return to the hotel room and hang out a bit, so they could have an early start in the morning.  Together, they walked to the hotel, arm in arm. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chapter 10...

Chapter 10

    The old man woke and stretched.  They were still in the car, but from the look of it, they were further down the road. "So, where are we?" he said mid yawn. 
    "Good Morning, Sleeping Beauty," started Sukie. "We're just outside of New Paltz. I figured we could stop here for lunch, then its another ninety or so more minutes till we get to the city."
    "Oh, great, I think I could qualify as positively famished." said the old man, who continued to stretch a bit, as he has stiffened up in the car. "I also request a stop at someplace where I can buy a small pillow. My goodness am I stiff." he said, and groaned a bit as he stretched some more.
    "There's a Walmart in town, if I'm not mistaken, and there's a really great sandwich shop here too.  We're running a little ahead of schedule anyway."
    "Yep," Mikes sleepy voice piped up in the back. "Maria Andretti. Good thing I don't have a camera on your speedo, you know? Sukie? How long till we're in town?"   
    "Tops, twenty minutes, we'll be inside the sandwich shop." True to her word, nearly exactly twenty minutes later, they were inside the sandwich shop, enjoying their heroes and sipping their drinks.
    "You were right, this is a good sandwich" said the old man with a nearly full mouth. They sat and ate for another few minutes, before driving a little further into town and pulling into the Walmart parking lot. The trio ran in, and found a few nice cushy neck pillows, as well as a small throw pillow.  "Aha!" called the old man. "This is exactly what I wanted. It's so much easier to rest in the car when you have the proper cushioning." They made their way to the check out aisles, and stood on line.  The old man eyed the candy rack, when his eyes lit up. "Ooh! Turtles! My favorite," he said, as he picked up a few packets of the candies, and set them on the conveyer belt. After they paid, they made their way back into the car and drove down the road up to the edge of town. 
    "Coffee Stop!" called Mike, as he pointed to the donut shop.
    "Yep, that's our last stop in town, then its a straight shot into Manhattan." As she pulled into the parking lot, she assumed the demeanor of a Drill Sergeant.  "So, if you gotta go, go now, because this is the last stop on this ride kids!" The men saluted her before standing and stretching their legs one last time.  They all made their way into the restrooms, then headed up to buy some coffee.  The old man bought a half dozen donuts as well to share for dessert. "You know, I've always liked something sweet with my afternoon coffee." he said as he settled into the car, and passed out the contents of his donut box.
    As they continued on their way into the city, they ate their donuts and drank their coffee in relative silence.  The old man felt his sense of excitement build as they neared the city. They made their way over the Tappen Zee Bridge about an hour or so after they left New Paltz.  They continued along, and it wasn't long before they could see the iconic skyline of Manhattan fill their view.  A bit later, they were in Manhattan proper. The old man looked around, his eyes as big as saucers. "New York, New York, the city so great they named it twice."
    "Have you been here before?" asked Sukie
    "Sure, passed through a few times, never really visited or anything that spectacular.  I've been an upstate New Yorker all my life.  No real need to come down, you know?"
    They continued along the FDR drive, Mike repositioning his camera slightly. "You know, this place is a bear to photograph from this angle. All grey."
    "No worries, Mike, we're actually making a little loop of the city right now, we've got to cut across to the West side, and I want to do it just above the park.  You'll get some great color there."
    "So, Where are we going?" asked the old man.
    "We're heading off to the hotel first to unload most of this stuff.  We'll freshen up a bit, then head back out." As they headed across 110th street, they turned down Columbus Avenue, and then turned again a short while later at 81st street. "I think you'll really like where we are, Jim." she said, as she saw his eyes bug out as he saw the giant glass structure of the Rose Center for Earth and Space.
    "Oh man, we're across the street from the Rose Center. I'd love to go there."
    Sukie smiled, "We're going there tonight.  Seven o'clock tonight, its the SciCafe series. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is leading a debate on the planet earth.  The topic, if I'm not mistaken is 'Is the Earth Unique'."
    "Whoa! You mean the Neil Tyson?" said Mike. "We're going to meet Neil Tyson?" Sukie nodded her head yes as both men cheered and high fived.
    After the two men settled down a for a second, she continued. "I figured, we'd go ahead and check out the museum beforehand a little bit, maybe after an early dinner, and I've already gotten clearance to take photographs, and use the video camera inside."
    "Sukie, you rock." said Mike gratefully.
    "Indeed, you do rock!" agreed the old man. Sukie smiled at the compliments.
    "Hey, okay, gents, we're here!" she said as she pulled up in front of the Excelsior hotel. A bellhop came and helped them unload the car, followed by a valet, who pulled away in the car to park it.  The trio made their way into the hotel, the men sitting back in the lobby while Sukie went to talk to the young lady behind the desk.
    A few minutes later, she signed a paper, then recieved three room keys.  The bellhop swiftly moved the bags upstairs while she walked back to the men.
    "Okay guys, here are your key cards.  We apparantly were given a room upgrade that was prompted by Mr. Wong." Sukie began to smile bigger than they had ever seen. "We have the largest suite for the next week, with a beautiful view, and wow. It's just going to be so nice." Mike and the old man stood and nodded their heads in appreciation.
    "Wow, this sure is unexpected. I though you and me were sharing a room," said Mike to the old Man as they made their way to the elevator.
    "Well, it sure will make a nice backdrop to your filming." said the old man. "What a good place to start our adventure!" he said as they stepped inside the elevator, and pushed the button for the top floor. They stood there, silently anticipating what they would find upstairs. They heard the elevator door bell ding once, then saw the door open to a rather plain hallway.
    "The woman at the desk said it would be the last room on the left." Said Sukie as she took the lead walking down the hallway. The hall seemed impossibly long, but they arrived at the door. She held her breath as she inserted the key card, then pushed open the door. She gasped as she stepped inside, seeing the enormity of the sitting area. The three of them wandered around the room, looking through all the windows, and looking at all the paintings and shelves. 
    Their silent revelry was interrupted by the old man's phone beeping. He fumbled in his pocket and pushed the button to silence it. "That's a new beep for me" he said, walking over to Mike. "What's it mean?" he said as he handed it to him.
    "You've gotten a text message- mind if I open it?" he asked, and the old man nodded the affirmative.
    "Oh, wow," started Mike. "It says: Enjoy the upgrade. You have reservations at Ocean Grill at 9. Enjoy dinner on me."
    "Nice! Thanks Mike, you'll have to show me how to do that." Mike and the old man sat at the table in the sitting area, and Mike showed the old man how to send and receive text messages.  They heard a knock at the door. Sukie went to answer it, and was greeted by a young man with a trolley complete with a carafe of coffee, and enough pastries to feed a small army. They thanked the young man, and tipped him well.  There was a card on the table addressed to the old man. Sukie passed it to him. He opened it and read: "Best regards, Ronin." They sat and enjoyed the coffee and pastry for a short time, while they were chatting about their good fortune.  After a bit, they decided to clean themselves up a bit, and get ready for their night out.
    They opened the other doors of the suite.  Two bedrooms with huge beds stood before them. The first bedroom had a large king size bed, and french doors which looked out upon a balcony with a view of the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. The other room had two large double beds, with a matching balcony and view.
    "Ok, for the sake of photography, Jim, you get the big room, Mike and I will share the other room."
    "Are you sure Sukie? I can bunk up with him if you'd rather the big room"
    "Nah, we can use the room to hold the equipment too, and you deserve a little privacy. It's not like Mike and I are sharing a bed here either. It'll be okay, I promise."
    "Okay then Sukie, but if you change your mind, you let me know, and I'll bunk up with him, no problemo." replied the old man.  They each took a few minutes and cleaned up, and changed into fresh clothes.  The old man glanced at his watch, and saw that it was nearing 6pm.  He was pretty much all ready to go, so he headed into the sitting room to wait for Mike and Sukie to finish up while he enjoyed another cup of coffee and another pastry as he didn't want to be hungry during the event later.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yep, I admit it...

Well... I read the catcher in the rye today instead of working on my nano.

I suppose I needed a little bit of inspiration, and the nanoing will resume maƱana after work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Moving along nicely.

Well, I've gotten to the half way point thank god. Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near half done... But I'm going to have to speed through it. I'll put up chapter ten later today.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Last part of Chapter 9.

*Ok, this wasn't really a sprint portion... I just kinda took off with it, figure, about a 30 minute run.*

"This one here, is our forward view.  It shows the road ahead, nothing too crazy.  Kind of a where  we're going, versus where we've been." Mike pointed to another eyeball on the back window, near the brake light.  "This one is on only intermittently.  We really don't need it but you never know when it'll come in handy."
    "That's pretty interesting.  I was always fascinated by cameras and movie equipment. Somewhere in the house I have an old 35 millimeter camera.  It was Martha's, see, if you handed her a camera, the pictures looked like a pro did them. Now, if you handed me the camera, it'd be a miracle if the heads weren't chopped off, or the picture would be crooked, or out of focus." He shrugged, as he dug in his pocket, pulling out a relatively new model point and shoot camera. "My kids got this for me last year- it has all these features, I plug it into the computer, and it spits out pictures.  It's a good thing, but its just not the same. Anyway, I promised the kids I'd take pictures along the way." He paused as he turned the camera on. "That's ok, right? I know I forgot to ask earlier."
    "Yeah, we don't mind, just one thing though." said Sukie
    "What's that?" asked the old man.
    "Just send us the pictures too? It'll be great, alongside the B roll.  I bet it could be a lot like that Feasting on Asphalt series the they did on the food channel."
    "Oh, I loved that show! The host, he was great!"
    They continued chatting along, pointing out features until they hit the main highway.  They swiftly picked up speed. "Wow," remarked the old man as he glanced at the speedometer. "Maria Andretti in action!" Sukie laughed and continued down the road. "We're only going as fast as everyone else." He had to nod in agreement, she was keeping time with the trucks.  After about an hour and a half or so in the car, they pulled off into what looked like a shopping center, with a giant converted grain silo sticking up out of the middle of it.
    "Be still my heart!" said the old man as he read the sign next to the driveway. In big white letters, it read: The Worlds Largest Kaleidoscope.  "You know, I really wasn't paying attention to the road on the way down, I thought we were just heading roundabout to the thruway! I'm so excited, if I was my granddaughter, oh, what does she say." He paused for a second, looking for the perfect word. "If I were her, I'd squee!" He took his camera and snapped a photo of the signage.
    Sukie pulled into a spot while laughing at the old man's choice of words.  "Ok, Jim, we're here." Mike climbed out of the car, portable camera in hand. He set himself up to watch the old man get out of the car.  As he filmed, the old man got out of the car and stretched. After a moment, he flashed a thumbs up at Mike and said, "Ok, lets get this show on the road! I can't wait another minute!" before he turned and began walking up to the doors.
    As Sukie went ahead and bought the tickets, The old man wandered around with Mike in tow. After a few moments of looking around, he found a pamphlet with all the interesting details of the Kaleidoscope. He read to him the specifics of the kaleidoscope from the paper after clearing his throat. "The Kaatskill Kaleidoscope is the worlds largest kaleidoscope, measuring 60 feet in height. It is located in Mount Tremper, New York. It is housed in a converted grain silo. It was designed by '60s psychedelic artist Isaac Abrams and his son Raphael. It cost $250,000 to build and opened in 1996. The idea for its construction belongs to Catskills developer Dean Gitter, a local P.T. Barnum. You know what? This sounds positively Groovy." The old man giggled, and before long Mike was giggling alongside him.
    "Okay, guys, the show starts in about twenty minutes, you all want to check out the museum portion of the building" Sukie asked, while pointing to a gift shop area.
    "Sure thing Boss" said the old man, as he and Mike walked off to see the smaller kaleidoscopes.  He played with a few of them, oohing and ahhing at the views.  Mike walked to a huge model in the center of the room.  He focused the lens of his camera at the eyepiece and filmed the ever changing images. A few minutes later, Sukie came back and herded the men towards the large converted silo.  Mike filmed the old man entering the silo, then started to follow. 
    "You, there!" called an old security guard, who was hustling over as fast as he could. "No videos! But if you want, you can get the DVD in the gift shop." Mike shrugged, and took the camera off his shoulder before following the two inside. They were directed to lay down on the floor and look up at the ceiling.  A rather psychedelic display lit up the inside for the show.  Snippets of songs and freedom speeches filled the air. The trio laid there transfixed by the images on the ceiling.  All too soon, the show was over.  They sat up and headed back out of the kaleidoscope.
    "Well, that certainly was groovy." said the old man to Mike after he had gotten his camera set back up.  "Time for the gift shop!" he said, as he walked into the museum section once again.  He looked at the toy models, playing with a few as Mike continued to film.  After a few more moments, he picked a small key chain model, and brought it to the cashier's counter. He paid, then declined a bag.  Right there in the store, he attached the key chain to an empty keyring on his keys. He then had Sukie snap a picture of him with the smiling clerk. "I love pictures." he said as he retrieved his camera from her.  They left the worlds largest kaleidoscope, and continued south down the road.
    "We're a little behind schedule, but I think you'll like the next stop. It's not too far down the road."
    "Near here? There's only one thing near here!" exclaimed the old man as he got his bearings as to where he was.  "We're near the Spaceship!" Sukie laughed.
    "Yep, Jim, we're only a few miles away from there, and it's on the way."
    "Hoody Hoo!" he exclaimed, as excited as a young boy.  "I drive past this every other now and then.  I never got to stop by. It's so fun looking!"
    They continued along for a few minutes before they pulled off the highway and drove up to the building.  Just outside the building stood a futuristic 1950's spaceship, which looked as if it was ready to blast off.  The old man handed off his camera to Sukie, and insisted that she take a picture of him with the space ship.  Mike filmed as the old man posed with the giant sculpture.  After a few more moments, they continued walking around, marveling at the statues of a dinosaur made of auto parts. They eventually made their way into the fabulous furniture shop owned by the sculptor.  The quality of the pieces was impressive.  The old man walked through the shop touching nearly everything in the store. After a few minutes, a bearded man made his way out to the trio and introduced himself.
    "Hi guys! I'm Steve, and welcome to my shop! Is there anything I can help you all with?" Sukie introduced them, and explained what they were doing there.  "Wow," said Steve, "Thanks for coming on in, I don't mind you all here. Feel free to look around, and please ask me if you have questions about anything." Sukie talked to Steve for a few minutes as Mike and the old man continued to wander around. 
    "Hey Mike!" called Sukie. "Can you come here for a minute? Mr. Heller here has agreed to a short interview." Mike hustled over to Sukie, and promptly set up the camera.  "Ok, Mr. Heller, tell us a little about this yourself and this shop."
    Steve put his hands into his pockets and shrugged. "Ok. Well, This is my shop, and, I could have never imagined the fabulous life I've had. I am a self taught artist, woodworker, sculptor and car builder, who can go from one medium to another without a break. I have been blessed by having great family and friends, and everyone has always encouraged my insanity. For someone like me, that's a dream come true. Fabulous Furniture is both my place of business and my refuge. I get to do all kinds of things here, and people stop by and love it. What a treat!"
    Sukie smiled at Steve. "So, What's your secret formula that makes it work?"
He looked at her, and thought a minute. "Combining all my passions has been the secret of my happiness. I love that some people know me because they've lived with one of my dining tables for decades, while others look out their front windows to one of my life size dinosaurs, and still others drive the cars that Mike and I design and fabricate here."
    "So, any reviews, accomplishments or accolades you want to tell us about?"
    "This is my favorite topic, I think.  I have been written up in all kinds of magazines and newspapers, including Architectural Digest, Hot Rod Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and we are featured prominently in the book Weird New York."
    "In the last few years I've had some incredibly great things happen--- I was part of the Ed "Big Daddy" Roth retrospective at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles; was asked to bring some of my creations to the Art-Car exhibit at the New York International Auto Show; my guitar, The Stratocrusier, was the hit of the 2000 Guitar Festival in Woodstock, NY--- and then my custom car "The Marquis De Soto" won the NY Times Collectible Car of the Year Award! A year later, it won first in class at both the 2010 Grand National Roadster Show and the Sacramento AutoRama. Pinch me now." He laughed as he shrugged again.  "And, that's it in a nutshell, I guess." A dog came out from the back, and walked around Steve's legs.  "Meet Rocket Boy, the best dog ever." The dog looked up at the old man who was making his way back to Sukie.  He bent down to pet the dog.
    "Nice dog you got here, Steve!" said the old man.  Steve thanked him, and stood still for a moment when the old man handed his camera off to Sukie, and took their picture together.  They all shook hands, and the trio started to make their way out of the store as Steve excused himself to the back of the store.
    "Hey! Wait! I want to give you guys something, a souvenir." called Steve as he hurried back to the front of the store. He smiled and jogged up to the old man, handing him a small plastic piece that was attached to a key chain.  The old man took a good look at him, and his jaw dropped. "This is the little decoration that was on the front of the old Packards. I had one of these cars years ago! Thank you so much!" The old man shook Steve's hand heartily. 
    "Any time man, I figured you'd get a kick out of it, and this way you can keep it with you, to remember the shop." The old man attached the Packard emblem next to the kaleidoscope. They bid each other their farewells, and left the shop.  In the parking lot, the old man admired the emblem. He turned to Mike and said, "You know, I really haven't seen one of these in a very long time. My first car was a Packard- I bought it myself, used, you know? And, you know, it really was an awesome piece of machinery."
    They all climbed back into the car.  As they pulled away Mike filmed the large sculptures in the front of the store.  "It's better than having you guys pull away again," he said to the old man. "Here, its the highway, so, it'd take forever to catch up." Continuing down the highway, they wound their way to the New York Thruway.  As they sped down the road the old man pulled the list out of his pocket and placed check marks next to the completed items. "Two down, ninety something to go." he said, as he refolded the list and returned it to its resting place in his pocket."
    He turned to Sukie.  "Odd question.  Lets say, I was to rest my head back a bit, and take a little snooze. Would that be okay with all these cameras on me?"   
    "Sure, we'll wake you up when we get to anything interesting. We've got about three hours on this road, we'll probably stop for coffee two hours or so in, if you don't mind."
    "That's a more than welcome stop." said the old man as he snuggled into the seat.  He watched the world pass by as he got comfortable.  A few minutes later, he was quietly taking a nap as they continued along the road.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chapter 9, Sprint 3

 He climbed into the car, Sukie pulled off slowly. "Um, Sukie, I know he's a little strange, but aren't we leaving someone behind?"
    Sukie laughed for a second, as the old man turned around to watch Mike film their departure.  He waved at him once again. "He's just filming us pulling off.  We're going to turn the corner and wait for him.  Thankfully he's fast, usually." She looked back, and pointed. "Look, here he comes." Rolling down here window, she called out, "Come on pokey, lets go!" Mike just shook his head as he made his way to the car.
    "Ok, speedy, I'm coming, I'm coming! Hold your horses!" he said as he put the large camera into the trunk of the car, and pulled out a smaller more compact unit.  Holding the small camera, he climbed into the back seat.  "Alrighty then, I'm here, lets get going then." He clipped on his seat belt, the pointed to her. "See, Jim, we have two stops down the highway to make before we head into the city.  So, technically, we should have a five hour trip.  Watch. I bet she makes it in four, Maria Andretti here."
    The old man laughed. "Her? Maria Andretti? I don't believe it."
    "Believe it bud!" said Sukie as she pulled away from the curb. As they drove down through the town, on their way to the thruway, Mike busied himself connecting the small camera to the center console of the car.  Carefully, he aimed it at the old man. 
    "Ok, Jim, so you know, we have three cameras in the car right now." he pointed at the unit he had just attached to the center console. "This one is a portable.  It's small, but does a fine job of recording. If we happen to pull over and see something interesting, it can come out and with us." Mike then pointed to a small camera bolted to the head liner of the car. "This one here, it's trained on where your front should be.  It gives us two angles of you, which is nice, especially if you're looking out the windows, which leads us to the next camera." Next, he pointed to what looked like an eyeball in the center of the dashboard. "This one here, is our forward view.  It shows the road ahead, nothing too crazy. 

Chapter 9, Sprint 2.

  Feeling rather impressed with himself, he headed upstairs to shower and shave.  He whistled a happy tune as he shaved and dressed.  He put on a new shirt and pair of slacks.  No better way to start a new adventure than by dressing all fresh and new. He felt positively shiny as he combed his hair in the mirror.  As he made his way back downstairs, he heard the doorbell ring.  "Coming! Coming!" he called out, as he made his way to the front door. 
    Glancing through the side window, he saw Sukie and Mike standing there, camera in tow.  He opened the door saying, "Hey guys, good morning, come on in, make yourselves at home!" as he waved them inside.  Mike was filming their entrance.  "Getting an early start, I see," said the old man as he pointed to the camera. Sukie laughed, and said, "We've got to start getting the footage now.  Do you mind if Mike shoots some B Roll around the house?"
    "B Roll?" asked the old man.
    "Yeah, its those little bits of video you see as filler in scenes.  Usually entails some voice over, sometimes not.  It gives the audience a better idea of what they're looking at."  The old man nodded and waved at Mike. "Go ahead, you want a grand tour? Not that the house's to huge."
    "Actually," said Mike, "That'd be great! It'd work well in our intro episode.
    The old man led Mike from room to room, showing him the house.  Mike followed him and filmed him and all his descriptions and stories of what items were.
    "Jim, you're doing great! You're a natural in front of the camera!" appreciatively said Mike, who gave the old man a thumbs up.
    "Mike, I'm just talking to you, and you happen to be holding a camera.  If I think about it that way, it weighs a ton less on my mind, you know?"
    "Yeah, you know, I wish more people thought like you, it's making this a blast to film.  Most, if not all of this so far is usuable.  If you keep this up, we'll be golden."  The old man beamed with pride, and continued onwards in showing off the house.  A few minutes later, they were done.  Sukie was downstairs at the table with  a clip board with a yellow legal pad of paper in it. She was writing herself little notes.
    "What you doin' there Sukie?" asked the old man.
    "Working on our itinerary.  I think if we get going soon, we can be in the city by around 3 or so, and that's including all our stops.  I figure by the time we get there, we can go to the hotel, and freshen up before heading to our first city stop."
    "Our first city stop?" asked the old man curiously.
    "Yep!" was Sukie's enigmatic reply.
    "Ooh, a mystery!" said Mike. "Well, I'm not entirely sure either where we're going, Jim, so we'll have to trust her."
    "Ok, lady, I'm trusting you." laughed the old man. "You lead, I'll follow.  It's got to be fun!"
    Together, they cleaned up the coffee mugs and carefully dried them before putting them away.  The old man rinsed out the sponge a little more thoroughly than usual then carefully placed it to dry on its own special dish. Mike headed out first with the suitcases, then stood on the sidewalk and filmed the old man leaving the house, and carefully locking the door as usual.  He waved at the camera whistling the call to post, and said "And we're off."

Sprinting to make up for lost time....

Okay people... I have to make up WAY WAY WAY too many words tonight... so I'll be doing 15 minute word sprints... (which is you set the timer for 15 minutes then write as fast as you can... most of the writing is pure nonsense...)

But... I'll be posting the sprints here... I average between 500 and 800 words per 15 minutes... (which I know seems rather slow, at between 30ish and 50ish wpm... but, its getting made up as I think it up.. so it slows me down considerably.)

So, Chapter 9, Sprint 1.

The old man was sitting up awake on the bed as the alarm rang.  He leaned over and turned it off, then stretched and yawned loudly.  Rubbing his eyes, he was thinking that he couldn't remember the last time he had to have the alarm wake him, and he was surprised that he slept as well as he did.  He was excited and nervous about the first leg of his trip.  He walked to the small bathroom attached to his bedroom and washed his face.  Next, he put on his robe and made his way downstairs. 
    He set up for a cup of coffee, then walked down to the front door.  He opened the door and took in a great big breath of the morning air before he bent down and picked up the morning paper.  Closing the door behind him as he walked back to the kitchen, he yawned again, not because he was tired, but instead out of habit.  He dropped the paper on the kitchen table, and finished making his cup of coffee, a shake of creamer and a shake of sugar.  Sitting down with the paper, he glanced over the headlines.  "Never any good news in the front of the paper," he grumbled, flipping a few pages further back.  "Ahh, here we go." he murmured as he got to the birth announcements.  The old man always felt that it was best to start the day with good news, and progress past that point. 
    After he finished the page, he moved further back in the paper, and read the comics. He grew up on the older comics, but he really got a kick out of the newer ones.  He felt that the newer ones were funny and were indeed new, with new ideas and jokes, instead of the tired old gags in the old strips.  After the comics, he worked on the jumble and word search puzzles.  His talent though, really was the crossword puzzle, which he always saved for last.
    He pulled out the sheet containing the crossword puzzle, and then carefully folded up the rest of the paper.  No bad news today, he thought, as he pushed it across the table.  Next, he folded the sheet with the crossword paper, precisely into quarters, so that only the puzzle showed.  He leaned over to a can on the counter that held assorted pens and pencils and grabbed one of each.  His habit was to start the puzzle in pencil, but then to finish it with pen as he became more sure of the answers. He read over the clues, and started filling in the answers.  His current record for finishing a puzzle was 36 minutes, start to finish, which was usually the same amount of time it took him to enjoy his breakfast.  This morning though, it was him and the puzzle, he wanted to see  how fast he could get it done. He glanced at the clock above the stove before he started.
    Deftly, he filled in the little boxes, working from the top left straight through to the bottom right.  He filled the top to bottom answers next in the same order.  He paused here and there to think about the tougher clues, skipping some, and coming back once he had filled in more of the letters. 
    His cell phone on the table rang as he was filling in his last few clues. "Hello?" he answered after picking up the phone.  It was Sukie calling to let him know she was up, and getting ready to go and get him. He filled in the last few letters then looked at the clock.  "Yahoo! a new record! Thirty-four minutes!" he said, completely out of context to the conversation he was having with Sukie. He laughed when she asked what he was talking about, and told her he'd explain later. He looked at the screen of the phone for just a second before he pushed the spot on the screen to hang it up. 
    Feeling rather impressed with himself, he headed upstairs to shower and shave.  He whistled a happy tune as he shaved.

Chapter 8.

Yep, and still, oh, 10k behind... but before I was nearly 13k, so I'm slowly but surely catching up. We're sitting pretty at 20404.  We're nearly at the half way point... We've got this in the bag... I hope :)

And, I fully admit, most of this post is a cheat, and my full thanks is to the Axis of Awesome inspiring an amazing ukulele jam with the old man. Yay for 4 chord songs!

Chapter 8

    The car ride home was filled with the chatter of three very excited people.  They spoke about where they'd be off to in the morning.  "So, what do we have left to do tonight before we get on our way tomorrow?" asked Sukie.
    "Well, I don't know about you, but I need to pack yet. Thank goodness, I really don't have too much stuff to take." said the old man.  "I figure my shaving kit and my clothes can really fit in one bag.  I can wear my coat, and I'll carry the ukulele." he said, as he shrugged his shoulders. "I guess I've never really been one to travel with a ton of junk I really don't need.  I'm a light traveler, nearly to a fault sometimes I guess."  Sukie and Mike laughed, and Mike pointed to Sukie.  "That girl there, she'd pack an entire school bus for an overnight trip.  When we went to Pennsylvania to see Punxitony Phil, you know, that Groundhog?" The old man nodded. "Yeah, she brought a carry on, and a checked bag." Mike was laughing so hard, he could barely get the next sentance out, "For a one day trip!"
    "What? I didn't know if it was going to snow, or rain." she said sheepishly, as she navigated the road.  "I'm more like a boy scout, I guess. Always prepared."
    "Well, I guess that's not a bad thing, but this time, I'm not lugging all your stuff too! See Jim, I carry a lot of crap, but its all the camera junk.  I have my carry on, and usually a spare hat.  Last time- I think she thought I was her Sherpa!" 
    "Fine, fine" she laughed. "Fine, okay, I got it! No Mike the Sherpa, geesh!" After a few more minutes of talking and joking, they pulled up in front of the old man's house.  "
    "Home sweet home, last stop, everyone out!" said the old man, as he stepped from the car. They made their way inside, setting the packages down on the table. 
    "Man, I'm famished, guys, want to order in some food while we get ourselves put together?" Sukie asked. Mike rubbed his stomach, and the old man nodded his head.  "Great! Pizza okay?" she asked to the men, who both smiled and nodded. 
    "We'll make it a right party!" said Mike, who placed another ukulele case on the table.  "I'm no Jake Shimabukuru, but, I bet it'll be a load of fun."  Sukie called the local pizzeria from her cellphone, as the old man unloaded his bags, and carefully folded the clothes into separate piles.  He excused himself to go upstairs and collect his suitcase from the closet in the bedroom. 
    He carefully pulled the suitcase from the bottom of the closet, not wanting to disturb anything too greatly. After he had extracted it, he unzipped the case, and made sure it was empty.  Carefully, he took the picture of Martha from the dresser and gently touched the glass before he placed it into the inside zippered pocket of the suitcase.  Once it was secure, he zipped up the compartment so that it would not shift around.  Next, he tossed the duffel bag he took around town the day before up onto the bed, then dug through it, removing his shaving kit. He tossed it into the case then zipped up the suitcase and lugged it downstairs. Mike met him halfway up the stairs, taking the suitcase from him. "I really don't mind lugging this around for you- Sukie on the other hand, heh, well, I guess I really don't mind taking hers either."
    They headed down the stairs, and Mike placed the suitcase up on the kitchen table.  The old man unzipped it, and began placing the piles of the newly acquired clothing into the suitcase before restocking his shaving kit with his toiletries.  In no time at all, the case was full, packed securely with not an inch to spare.  "See, kids, this is how you pack! Its a full ten days of clothes in a carry on case." The old man pridefully raised his chin and puffed up his chest. "Sometimes, I even impress myself." Sukie laughed as Mike whistled his appreciation. 
    "Wow, even I can't pack that fast.  It's like a land speed packing record!" said Mike, thoroughly amazed at the old mans handiwork.  The two men were discussing suitcase packing techniques, (The right shoes are one of the most important things to thing of, followed only by your clothes folding technique." stressed the old man.) as the doorbell rang.  "I've got it!" exclaimed Sukie, as she grabbed her pocketbook and jogged off to the door.  She returned with an extremely fragrant box filled with an Everything Pizza, and a bag with a bottle of Cola.  Mike cleared the suitcase and bags off the table, and the old man spread plates, cups, and napkins around the table.  "I hope you guys don't mind paper plates, I figure it'll be less mess in the end."
    The three each took a slice of pizza and sat back in their chairs, quietly relaxing for the next few minutes, savoring the pizza. After a few minutes of relaxing, the old man asked, "So, what's our itinerary this week?"
    "Well, We're going to start down the eastern seaboard. Tomorrow, we're going to drive south to New York City, and we're going to spend a couple of days there, and I figure we can cross a couple of things off your list there.  Then, from there, we're gonna road trip it down to Florida.  We have a boat charter in about three and a half weeks, so that should be interesting. After that, it's a little of us playing it by ear.  The goal is to be back in New York for New Years."
    The old man beamed, his smile was going from ear to ear.  "I'm so excited, I feel like a kid again!"
    Mike raised his glass, "To being kids again!"
    The old man raised his glass and toasted, "May we never grow old!"
    Sukie raised her glass and said "Cheers!"  The three clinked their soda glasses, and drank deeply, celebrating the start of their adventure. 
    They finished their pizza and started cleaning up the table.  After everything was picked up, the old man set up a pot of coffee before he grabbed the ukulele cases from the table inside, and brought them in, handing Mike his case. 
    "Well, Mike, I only know about four chords, I'm really still a very new beginner." said the old man as he took his ornate ukulele out of its case. 
    "Truth be told, Jim, you only need about four chords to play any number of songs. Here, let me show you."  Might showed the old man four chords, C, A minor, G seven, and F, making sure the old man had them down before continuing.  "Ok, along with me, play the chords in that order, just four strokes down each." They practiced together as Sukie watched. "Oh, I wish I could join in, this looks so much fun!"
    Mike laughed as he pointed to his coat.  "Sukie, man, this is your lucky day.  Go take the keys from my coat, and go in the trunk of the car, and open my suitcase.  You'll see this tiny little case, it looks like a blanket- be gentle with it and take it on in."
    "Blanket?" asked the old man incredulously as Sukie made her way to the car. 
    "Well, that's it's name, and its what its wrapped in.  It follows a theme, you know, Michael Jackson's kid, his baby-- Blanket?" The old man laughed and shook his head. 
    "Yeah, I saw that on the news.  Poor Michael though, don't get me wrong, he was out of his gourd, but I've always been a fan." Mike nodded his understanding as they heard Sukie close the front door.
    "You found it?" he called out to her.
    "Yep. Man, this thing is tiny! You sure it's playable?" She asked as she handed the tiny swaddled bundle to him. 
    "Oh yeah! This is my constant travel companion.  Fits in my backpack, sounds like a dream." He handed his ukulele to Sukie, then pulled out a eency weency tiny little ukulele from the blanket bundle.  "Guys, Meet Blanket, my sopranino ukulele!" The old man shook his head again.  "Wow, that thing is tiny.  How's it sound?" he asked as he watched Mike carefully tune the tiny instrument.
    "Like a dream!" Mike replied, before playing a simple tune. "Okay kids," Mike started, while using one finger as an orchestral conductor would use a baton. "Lets practice our chords, and you'll get a kick out of this!"  Together, they practiced their four chords for a few minutes until they all had the hang of it. "Alright then," said Mike, as he pulled a small notepad and pen from his pocket and wrote down the chords in order.  "Just play these chords in this order, I'll sing."  They had a round of playing the chords and after a beat, Mike started to sing:
    "My life is brilliant, my love is pure. I saw an angel, of this I'm sure."
    Sukie laughed, and said, "Oh, that's James Blunt's Beautiful." Mike laughed and nodded. "Ok lets keep going. Suke's if you want, fill in the names but you don't have to.  I'm sure Jim knows at least a few of them."
    "Forever Young, I want to be forever young,"
    "Oh oh, I know it! Rod Stewart!" said the old man. 
    "I won't hesitate no more, no more, it cannot wait, I'm yours."
    "That's I'm Yours!" laughed Sukie. Mike nodded
    "This is the way you left me,I'm not pretending. No hope, no love, no glory. No Happy ending."
    "Ooh!" said Sukie, mid strum. "Happy ending!"
    "Cause you are amazing. We did amazing, things."
    "Amazing! I heard this on the television" said Jim, shaking his head.
    "If I could, then I would,I'll go wherever you will go."
    "Can you feel, the love tonight?"
    "Elton?" asked the old man, which was responded to with a vigorously nodding Mike."
    "And she will, be loved. Yeah she will, be loved."
    Sukie looked up in thought for a minute before blurting out "Maroon 5!"
   "Pictures of you, pictures of me,up upon your wall for the world to see."   
    Sukie nodded her head along with the song, and said "Last goodnight!"
    "Cause I cant live, with or without you."
    "Bono!" exclaimed the old man. Mike and Sukie cocked their heads to the side and looked at him. "What? I happen to like U2. I have a couple of cassettes around somewhere. One of the kids left over here." Mike shook his head, in disbelief as he laughed, before continuing along with the song.
    "And if I fall, at your feet. You'll let your tears;" "Crowded house I think," said Sukie, as Mike loudly interjected, "Am I not pretty enough, is my heart too broken." which set them all into a fit of the giggles. 
    "Ok guys, new rhythm. Just two down strokes for each chord. It gets better." said Mike, as he demonstrated.  With the others following along, he started again.
    "Double time! When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother mary, comes to me."   
    "The Beatles!"
    "Sometimes I feel like I dont have a partner."
    "Red Hot Chili Peppers!"
    "That's the way it's gonna be, little darlin'. We'll be ridin' on the horses, yeah yeah."
    "The Horses!"
    "No woman, no cry,"
    "Bob Marley!" 
    "Yeah, mama, it surely is a dream,"
    "Sex and Candy!" Sukie looked at the old man who just blurted out the song title. He just shrugged, as the song continued.                
    "I come from the land down under."
    "Men at work!"
    "Take on me,(When I come around)"
    "Green Day, and um, um," started Sukie
    "Take Me On,(When I come around)"
    "A Ha!" announced the old man victoriously.
    "I'll be gone, in a day or, two." Mike hit a high note here that was spot on in pitch, and got some impressed nodding of Sukie and Jim's heads.
    "Save tonight, Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you. Fight the break of dawn. Come tomorrow. There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do. Tomorrow I'll be gone."  
    "Eagle Eye Cherry," Started Sukie as she paused for a second. The old man, again surprising them, laughed and said, "Africa by Toto." Mike smiled broadly at the old man's knowledge of music.
     "I know she's playing with me, but thats okay 'cause I've got no self-esteem."
    "That's the Offspring," said Sukie, and the old man shrugged. 
    "With a thousand eyes and a good disguise, hit 'em right between the eyes, hit 'em right between the eyes."
    "That's them again!" exclaimed Sukie.     
    "Cause I'm not here for your entertainment, you don't really wanna mess with me tonight."
    The old man's eyes lit up, and he called out, "Pink!"
    "Cant read my, cant read my, no he can't read my, poker face."
    "Gaga!" called out the old man.
    "Come on Barbie lets go party."
    "Aqua!" he called out again. Mike and Sukie stopped, and just looked at him for a second.  "What?" the old man said laughing. "I happen to have grand kids, and we've been known to dance around the house every now and then,  Kinda hard to do the Charleston to them though, really." All three dissolved in piles of laughter before continuing in the song.
    "Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me."
    "The Fray, I think." said Sukie, which was met by more vigorous head nodding from Mike.
    "She wants to touch me woo hoo, she wants to love me woo hoo, she'll never leave me woo hoo hoo ooh."
    "That's Don't Trust Me!"
    "Control yourself,  take only what you need from it."
    "I think that's a MGMT song,"
    "Take your canvas bags, take your canvas bags. Take your canvas bags, to the supermarket. Take your canvas bags."
    "That's Tim Minchin!"
    "Nothings right I'm torn, I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel, I'm cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor. Illusion never changed, into something real,"   
    "Oh, that's Torn! Its by that Australian girl."                
    "I'm wide awake and I can see I'm more than a bird,I'm more than a plane, I'm a bird-plane, I'm a bird-plane, A crack a lackin' bird-plane."
    "Doesn't that sound familiar,doesn't that sound too close to home, doesn't that make you shiver, the way things could have gone. And doesn't that seem peculiar, cause everyone wants a little more. There's something I do remember to never go this far, thats all it takes to be a star."  Mike ended the song with an arpeggio.  Sukie and the old man applauded heartily as Mike took a small bow.
    "See, I told you guys, four chords, and that's only scratching the surface!" They sat around and played for a while longer, enjoying their coffee and each others company. Eventually, they took notice of the time, and packed up their ukuleles, so they could get going.  They all knew that they had a long drive ahead of them, and would need to go to bed relatively early.  Mike and Sukie helped the old man with the dishes, and straightening up the table before they started heading out to the door. The old man yawned and stretched broadly, before heading up to the shower and to bed.  Just like the night before, he set his alarm, and he was sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


You know, I'm looking at the blog... I can tell where I wrote different parts of the story, depending on what the formatting looks like.

One thing I wish I could find would be a dupe of the iPhone keyboard for android. Here's hoping.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch.

Chapter 7 *and yes, I know I'm 10k words behind!!!*

*a short forward to this is... yes, I'm 10k posts behind, I'm hoping I can play catchup this week- I'm off work tomorrow and Wednesday, so I can bang out 5k a day between now and then... easily. It's just the sitting down to do it.*

And now... Chapter 7...

Chapter 7

They made their way down to main street without any major difficulties, traffic was light before the lunch time rush. Sukie pulled into a spot at the to of main street. "Jim, are you sure you're going to be alright, getting the shopping done by yourself?"
"Yeah, I think so. I really don't need that much stuff, and worst case scenario, I'll have it ready ford pick up later."
As the old man stepped out of the car, he heard Sukie call his name. "I'll be back later to get you. Figure around the or so, where do you want to meet?"
"I'm going to have my last stop be the music shop. Odds are you'll find med there, and it's not too far from the telephone store." She agreed, and he set of walking down the block.

He walked into three first store, which was a very general sort of department store where he had hoped to get must of his supplies. First thing first, he selected a new sturdy pair of walking shoes, and plenty of socks. The thought of being seen with holy socks was definitely not a pleasurable one. He continued selecting other items of clothing and assorted sundries, passing through one section to the next until his arms were full. He realized that most, if not all of his clothing was in a state of disrepair, and he viewed to himself to take more care of his things.

 Eventually, he made his way to the cashiers counter, carefully placing all of the items down so they would not fall. The clerk folded all the items as he scanned the tags, and then placed all the items into bags imprinted with the stores red and white logo. 

The clerk smiled at the old man as he started to speak. "Your total will be," The old man held up his hand and interrupted. "Son, I don't even want to know."

The young man laughed and replied, "That's okay. Will that be cash or charge?"
"Charge."he replied as he dug the black credit card out of his wallet.

"What an interesting card" said the clerk as he swiped it through the cash register. With a beep the transaction was approved, end the receipt printed. The young man passed him the paper and a pen, and the old man signed it with a flourish, and handed it back.  He took his bag, and walked back outside.  He glanced at his watch and saw he still had plenty of time to go.  He'd managed the new shoes and clothing he'd figure he'd need for now, at least to look presentable.  Looking at himself in the refection of the storefront, he saw his dusty old windbreaker was certainly more the worse for wear, and figured, what the hey, he could always use a new one.
    He walked down past a few more storefronts, passing a jewelry store, and a candy shop, finally reaching his next destination- a mens clothiers.  Pushing open the door, he was greeted with the familiar sound of bells tied to the door, which every single shop all up and down this block seemed to have.  He shook his head at the thought as he was greeted by an older man. "Welcome, and how may I be of service?"he asked as he came forward.
     "I think a nice new jacket it's on order,"started the old man, who was fingering the frayed sleeve of his cost. The salesman nodded and walked with him over to the outerwear section of the store. They talked about the different types of costs and jackets. Eventually the old man decided on a move three season cost with a liner that zipped out and a waterproof outer shell. He felt so good, he wore it outside and seemed as proud as a peacock.
     Next on his list was the small drugstore, where he went to pick up more of the basic things, and he was careful to make sure everything was of the approved sizes for airline travel. He was ecstatic when he found soap, shampoo, and shaving cream in tiny little water activated sheets in these little compacts. The old man heard a noise behind him.
    "Just think, this is the future of travel." The old man laughed and turned around. Chuck stood there comparing cans of shaving cream. "So, Jim, getting the essentials?" He said, gesturing to the items in the old mans basket.
     "Yeah," replied the old man. "Just making sure I have everything so that I don't have to go looking around in strange places for the essentials, you know." Chuck nodded.
"You coming by the shop later?"
     "Yeah, I actually planned to go there next, after here I'm done until Sukie picks me up."
     "Sukie?" Chuck asked incredulously.
     "Hey, that's what she likes to be called. Shes taking me to go to the cell phone store a little later. She says I need a new phone."
    "Me," started Chuck, as he began digging in his jeans pocket, "I was really resistant to getting a cell phone at first.  Then, I got a very basic model.  It made calls, and it worked. I really couldn't complain about it. My son, though, he got one of those new smart phones." With a flourish, he pulled out a new model iphone. "Now, I have this thing, and I've no idea what I'd do without it."
    Chuck handed the old man the phone saying, "No buttons.  It's great, it turns into whatever you need it to be, whenever you need it to."
    The old man cocked his head to the side, "Like a tricorder?"
    Chuck laughed and touched the screen.  The phone let out a very recognisable beep, and the old man shook his head when he saw the screen change into that of a real tricorder. "Whoa. Does this thing work?"
    "You betcha!" Chuck showed the old man the parts of the program, and how they worked, before continuing. "It's great! I can manage parts of my business when I'm anywhere.  I don't have to be strapped down and tied to a desk, and, I can send letters to my kid in college.  She never picks up the phone, but, I send a note, and 2 minutes later I get a response. It's great!" The two men fawned over the phone for another few minutes before they agreed to meet back at the shop a little later. Chuck waved goodbye as he exited the shop and headed back down the block to his own store.  
     Walking to the checkout counter, the old man fumbled with his old style phone in his pocket.  He was stuck between wanting the most basic model, but the convenience of a new model, with all of it's features was really appealing.  As he paid for his goods, he came to the conclusion that he'd want to think more about it over a cup of coffee after he'd finished his shopping trip.
    The old man hefted his bags, and headed down the block.  Chuck's music shop was the next intended stop, as he really needed to set down the things he'd bought, and take a little rest.  Only one more thing was on his list to purchase, he thought to himself, and he smiled at the thought of picking up a fun item. 
    He got to the door of the shop, and saw Chuck and Jon sitting down, playing their ukuleles together, singing a song he did not understand.  The old man made his way over to one of the chairs and piled his bags to the side before stretching his arms above his head with a yawn.  Sitting down, he enjoyed listening to the end of the song, clapping heartily once it was over. Jon laughed and thanked the old man saying, "That's a fun song to do, I'm pretty sure it is in one of my songbooks here, if you'd be interested."  he pointed at a collection of thin songbooks strewn all over the coffee table. The old man looked through them, and picked one up that was covered in bright pink and yellow flowers.  The cover of the book read: "Aloha Jon's Super Ukulele Songbook".  He leaned back and paged through it.  In the beginning of the book was a blurb about the history of Hawaii. The old man read it, and was impressed at how much he didn't know about the island state, and knew how happy he was that he was going to go there in the very near future.
    "Aloha Jon? Is that you?" said the old man, looking quizzically at Jon.
    "That's him, the crafty bugger." Said Chuck, who placed a cup of coffee in front of the old man as Jon nodded his head.  "I sell the uke's, and he sells his books, and we're both pleased as punch to do it here." 
    Jon nodded his head, "At least, we know people are learning, that these things aren't being used as wall art, at least most of the time." said Jon, as he pointed at the book the old man held.  "That one there, its my first book.  You keep that one! I'll even sign it, I'm not much, but at least you can say you met the author." Jon pulled a pen from his pocket and signed the songbook. "Chuck here, he tells me you're an aspiring ukulele player."
    "I had a blast doing it yesterday." said the old man as he sipped his coffee. "It was fun, and easy to pick up.  Something tells me it'll be a lot of hard work to play as nice as you fellas now." The old man shrugged. "I figure its nice and portable, and during periods of extended travel, it'd be nice to keep handy to practice."
    Chuck nodded his head.  "Musical instruments can actually usually be carried into the plane cabin too, when you fly-- they don't always count as carry on luggage, and, they're small enough to fit under your seat."
    "Great! I didn't know that, I was only thinking car and train trips."
    "So, I take it, you'll be wanting to take one along with you?" said Chuck, who started eying his wall of ukuleles. 
    "Yeah,and I'm thinking I know which one I'm most interested in." The old man was gazing lovingly at the ukulele with the flamingo inlay. It had really caught his eye yesterday, and in the back of his mind, he knew that if there was a uke for him, that one would be it.
    Chuck looked at the old man, and saw him gazing at the ukulele.  In just the light from the front window, the ukulele glittered and shone as if it was lit up from the inside.  Standing up, Chuck walked over to the wall, and pulled the uke down from its hanger, and walked it back to the old man, who's smile practically lit up the whole room.  He took it, and began strumming it softly.  "Yep, Chuck, this one here, it's the one." 
    "I have to agree with you on that one, Jim. With some practice from you on your end, I bet it'll sound as good as it looks." The old man nodded, and played with the uke for a few more minutes before he set it down on the table. "Okay, Chuck, lets do the paperwork on this, so we're all squared away before Sukie gets here. But one thing first." Chuck looked quizzically at the old man.  "So, aside from the uke, what else do I need to go with it?" The old man laughed as he looked around the room.  Chuck rose and started showing the old man other ukulele essentials like tuners, cases, and spare strings.  The spent the next few minutes going over the items and picking out the best items for the old man.  They sat at the desk in the back, and were finishing the paperwork as Sukie and Mike walked in.
    "Hi guys!" she said as she entered the store.  Mike gave a little wave to all in the room.  She walked to the back end of the room, and nodded in appreciation at the ukulele in its new hard case. "Nice ukulele!" she said, eying it closely.  The old man signed the credit slip, then looked up at Sukie. "It's my fun item-- I'm not one for books and games, but I think it'd count as an entertainment device."
    "That's more than fine- I think Mr. Wong would get a kick out of it.  Rumor has it, he's a budding musician himself. I know he plays the guitar, but, I've heard he also plays the ukulele."
    "Small world then!" exclaimed the old man. 
    Mike came over, and looked at the  ukulele.  "Oh, very sweet man, I actually play too- My ukulele isn't nearly as nice looking as this one, but it sounds a dream.  I think you and I are going to have a blast on this trip! Here, let me take your bags, I'll leave you to your uke, and I'll put all this stuff in the car while you finish up around here." He thanked him, and carefully put his accessories into the case before closing it's lid and latching the locks. 
    "Oh, hey, Chuck," started the old man, as he fumbled around in his pocket. "Before I forget, I have the key for you." After a moments search, he found the spare house key and handed it to him.
    "Thanks, Jim.  I actually don't live too far from you, so stopping in here and there really isn't a problem." Chuck and the old man discussed the particulars about the house, and shook hands before he headed out.
    "So, when are you guys leaving?" Chuck asked to Sukie.
    "Well, our first flight is scheduled for tomorrow, late in the morning, and then we'll be back and forth a bit." The old man smiled and said, "We're heading north first if I remember correctly." Sukie nodded. "It'll definitely be an interesting trip."  After a few more minutes of chatting about the trip, they all shook hands and said their farewells.  They made their way out of the shop and walked down the block towards the cellphone store.
    The store was brightly lit and clean, the shiny phones sitting on little tables all over the store.  The old man was impressed by the videos playing on the tiny screens as he walked around surveying the phones.  Sukie followed him at a respectable distance to let him get his bearings.  He seemed to zero in on the simplest phone in the store.  It was black, it had buttons.  He was looking at the little placard next to the phone, when he shook his head in distaste.  The placard read "Perfect for older people looking for a simple phone."  The old man realized that a phone that simple would get the job done, but wouldn't offer the functionality that made him so enamored with Chucks phone.
    "Sukie, Mike, this old man model I don't thinks for me. Where are the tricorders?" At that, Mike cracked up, and said, "Beam me up captain! Jim, over here! You want to look at this baby!" He walked over to the display Mike was pointing to.  Four iPhones were on a clean white counter.  Mike was playing with the one one the end, flipping through the screens.  With a few touches, he brought up the same tricorder program that Chuck had showed him earlier.  The old man laughed, and played with the phone, Mike and Sukie showing him the various features.  Sukie breathed a sigh of relief as the old man said, "Yeah, I'll get this one, but you guys are gonna have to show me how to use it about a million times. This technology is all geek to me still."  They went to the counter and the old man took his old phone out of his pocket and placed it on the counter. He thought to himself, "Well, phone, I've sure gotten my money's worth with you." The clerk at the counter brought out one of the phones and set it up with Sukie for the old man.  She signed some papers, then handed the phone to him.  "Enjoy!" Said the clerk as they left the store.  They headed back to the car, then started heading off up to the old man's house.