Writer’s Digest Story


     A couple months ago, I decided to submit a short story to Writer’s Digest. There was a 750 word limit and a simple premise: “A man who lives alone sees a set of footprints leading away from his house the morning after a heavy snowfall.”

Here is my submission. (I didn’t win, but that’s ok because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and dog doggone it, people like me!)   

Rick “Gator” Truman waited for his best friend to climb into the cab of his pickup truck before jumping into the driver’s seat. Bud, the four year old bull-mastiff was given to Huron, South Dakota’s new fire chief by the men in his company.

“If the weatherman is right, we’ll get at least a foot of snow tonight.” Rick said.

“Woof!” Bud responded.

Rick purchased a modest house, on a dead-end street, barely within Huron’s city limits. He enjoys the quiet, but the serenity comes with a major disadvantage; the fire chief was left to plow his long driveway. Rick drove through the sleepy town and pulled into his garage. The warmth of his king-sized solid oak bed was calling him, but one task remained.

“C’mon Bud, let’s get the plow onto the front end so we can get an early start in the morning.” Rick said.

The morning sun invaded every corner of the small bedroom, waking Rick from his nightly hibernation. The moment he opened the room door, Bud rushed in and jumped atop the quilt.

“Get down from there!” Rick ordered.

Bud quickly complied and landed on the ground. “Maybe I’ll try jumping on your bed and see if you like it.” Rick teased.

Bud ran and pawed at the exit to the garage as if he knew what was on his owner’s mind.

“Let’s go move some powder.” Rick said.

The garage door opened and God’s baby powder covered the landscape. Rick began to turn towards his pickup when a strange sight caused him to halt.  {I didn’t include the quotation marks when writing the word “god,” because I wasn’t sure how the publication would react to my atheism!}  

Inexplicably, a set of footprints leading away from his house seemed to have appeared from nowhere.

“Where the heck did those come from?”

Rick walked closer to investigate. The first track began in the middle of the driveway and trailed off into the street. Strangely, the print was clearly made with a pair of department issued work boots. The more startling fact was the shoe size; Rick was the only fireman who wore size eighteen, and his pair remained locked in the cab of the pickup.

“I knew we had ghosts. I can’t wait for the guys at the fire house to hear that I finally found proof.”

Endless jokes about the mysterious tracks filled much of the morning hours.

“C’mon Gator, the footprints are obviously not from a ghost.” Chuck Hose said.

“Ok Mr. Know-it-all, please explain where they came from.” Rick responded.

“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you…the Lord said.” Chuck teased.

The room erupted with laughter. Countless conspiracy theories were suggested and Rick planned on debunking all of the legitimate hypotheses.

“I’ll find even more proof. You guys can laugh, but I know there is a ghost on my property.” Rick said.

News travels through Huron faster than a tide rolls in Alabama. Two days elapsed before the fire chief earned a new appointment; Chief Paranormal Specialist. True to his word, Rick investigated every possibility for an explanation to the eerie footprints. There remained only one truth; a ghost walked from the driveway to the road. Rick couldn’t wait to reveal his findings.

“Regardless of what Chuck thinks, it sounds to me like you did some great detective work, Gator.” Kenny Manning said.

“Thanks Kenny.” Rick replied.

Chuck stood from his seat and commented. “Don’t thank him yet!”

“What are you talking about?” Rick asked.

“We have to tell you something.” Chuck continued. “Hey Mike, do you want to do the honors since it was your idea?”

Mike nodded his head and began to explain. “The footprints were just a silly prank.”

Visibly disappointed, Rick spoke. “Are you serious?”

“Sorry Gator, but we had to do it.” Mike said.

“It might be me, but that smile on your face says you might not be sorry.” Chuck quipped.

“Nonetheless, we all know how crazy you get about the supernatural, so we couldn’t turn down this opportunity. Once the snow stopped, we jumped into old Ladder 13 and made the extensive excursion to your property. I hopped into the bucket and Chuck extended the ladder out to the middle of your driveway. I’m sure you can piece together the rest of the story, Sherlock.” Mike said.

“That doesn’t explain the size of the footprints.” Rick challenged.

“Oh yeah! We ordered another pair.” Mike informed.

“You can keep them for being such a good sport.” Chuck added.

“I’ll get my revenge!” Rick threatened.




Winter Weirdness

California and Massachusetts are completely at the opposite ends of the country. The people are different, the accents are different, but more importantly, the weather is different. Growing up in Boston, I am accustomed to the unpredictable New England temperature changes. Everyone around the world is aware of the fact that Boston has four seasons, but what many may not know, is the fact that Bean Town residence can experience all four seasons over a four day period. (On rare occasions, Bostonians can actually go through four seasons in one day!)

This winter is a first for me; unless I am forced to travel home for some unforeseeable emergency, I will not see any snow. (Contrary to popular belief, I am not planning a skiing trip to Utah, or Denver!)

I’ve always wanted to experience a warm winter and I must say it’s great. I have to admit, reading all of the wonderful status updates from cold Bostonians has been a pleasure. Especially since we finished watching the Playoff game on Saturday and walked to a nearby bar, afterwards. The time change has been a welcome adjustment, but the fact that we spent a great deal of the night in an outdoor rooftop lounge, in the middle of January, is, in the words of comedian Russell Peter’s, mind blasting; it blasted my mind! (Russell Peters is hilarious! Do yourselves a favor and watch his stand-up act!)

Although the temperature is almost ideal, in a way, I miss the snow. Just kidding! I’ve shoveled enough snow in my lifetime to be able to comfortably say, shoveling snow is like showing my work after each math problem in one of Sister John Mary’s hundred question work sheets; I don’t miss the experience!

Every time I begin to think about how weird it is to spend an entire winter without seeing snow, I quickly remind myself about having to shovel out two different Boston city blocks, during each snowfall. I get over the nostalgia pretty fast.

Another wonderful aspect of the Los Angeles weather is the fact that it barely rains. After years of planning cookouts and almost being forced to cancel because of rain, it will be a pleasure to know that every day is a good day to barbeque. I can’t forget a few years ago when I decided to plan a birthday cookout in the middle of April. (What is everyone doing this year for the 18th?) I was inspired by the fact that the previous Saturday’s temps reached the low 80s. Due to Boston’s unpredictable weather, the party was a challenge, the temperature was a frigid mid-40s and we were forced to move the festivities indoors. (Shootouts to the big dogs who manned up and continued to cook with their hoodies on; the food was amazing!)

Bostonians are trained to adjust to any weather condition at a moment’s notice. I come from a city in which the weather report gives you three different options as far as what clothing to wear on any given day. My major adjustment will be figuring out how the heck I am going to make it through the winter, given the fact that I completely forgot to pack my winter coats!

I don’t even think Los Angeles news stations have meteorologists!

A person would have to be insane to miss this!