Wed. Dec 8th, 2021

Microwave ovens and presets on microwave ovens:

I like microwave ovens. They have made our lives better, I truly believe that. How else can you get a hot cup of coffee from yesterdays leftover coffee in just about 120 seconds? Not that I do that.. I mean drink yesterdays left over coffee… Okay… I do.

Here’s the thing though, it’s coffee! That’s my only argument. It should be enough though. I mean it’s like sacred, isn’t it? If I were living in a cave and discovered the coffee bean and bought it to my fellow cave dwellers they would probably build a shrine for me and worship me… Paint pictures of Coffee beans on the cave walls instead of hands, horses and signs for water. History would have been changed! Well, would have been changed had that happened.

So, no. I won’t throw out coffee. I guess that is a shocking admission, but it’s true.

Once, I can’t remember the movie, some western, the character threw the dregs of the coffee in his cup on the fire. The other guys around the fire looked at him like he was crazy… Crazy! And he must have been. I was just a kid at the time and I thought he was crazy! After that the other cowboys ostracized him. And he wasn’t asked along for the next roundup. That’s how serious a thing coffee was for cowboys back in the day. So I don’t throw away coffee. Which brings me back to microwaves. Don’t you wish your mind worked the way mine does? See how I came right back to where I wanted to be? Okay, I don’t even know how my mind works, I just thank God that it does. So Microwaves…

I like the idea of a Microwave, but I do have some issues with them. First, you can not make popcorn consistently. In fact I went to make popcorn the other day and the bag said “Do not use the Popcorn Setting on your Microwave.” Huh. Then why have the setting there? Isn’t that the whole idea? Ease of use? Push one button? Well we’ll get to that in a minuet. The bag went on to give precise microwave instructions. If you have this many “Watts” use this amount of time. This many, that amount of time. I had a headache when I finished reading it. Finally I put the popcorn back into the cupboard and got some chips instead. I sank into a deep depression over the whole technology thing. How can you eat microwavable popcorn if the button settings are wrong and you have to spend three hours figuring out wattage? You can’t just get out a pan and some butter, tear open the bag and do it that way, can you?

Well, as I sat eating my chips that I didn’t want I thought about that. There are a lot of buttons on a microwave. For instance, there is a beverage button on mine. It doesn’t work for beverages though. It leaves them too cold or too hot. But what if you accidentally pushed the popcorn button? And what if you then found out the popcorn button worked for beverages? Wouldn’t that be great? Well it does. I tried. But the beverage button will not work for Popcorn. What a mess that was. But in the end, I did go back out there, rip a popcorn bag open, and put it in a pan with some butter. Guess what? That did work.

As for the coffee on the popcorn setting it did come out pretty good, but I have an aversion to using a button marked Popcorn for coffee. But I wonder. If the popcorn companies don’t want you to use it, why do the microwave companies still make a popcorn button? Hmm. And if the beverage button doesn’t work for beverages, what the hell good is it anyway? And if coffee is the most nuked beverage, why not a Coffee button? And, stay with me here, if the Popcorn button isn’t used anyway, why not re-label it Coffee? Then I wouldn’t have to feel so bad about using the popcorn button for my coffee. Hey, I’m going to get one of those little label makers and make a coffee sticker and put it right over the Popcorn label. That will solve my problems for now. Feel free to just copy my idea and paste it on your own Microwave! No need to say thanks.

That only leaves the power button on mine. But that is kind of cool. You can press it, set the time amount, and watch the little turntable go around and around….

Hey take a look at Zero Zero. Zero Zero is the first novel length story I wrote. I began this book at 16 and did not finish it until I was in my fifties. I had an idea that writers were magicians, and I just didn’t know how to do the magic. I learned that it doesn’t matter whether the writer thinks it is magic as long as it takes the reader away from life and life’s worries for a while. I realized that in my thirties, but by then the book was lost to time. I happened to get it back because someone had saved a manuscript copy all those years before and so when I mentioned it my mention of it jogged their memory and they went looking; found it, and presented it to me along with other novels and short stories I had forgotten about.



Published With Amazon Digital

Copyright 2014 Dell Sweet

Copyright 1976, 1983, 1987, 2009, 2014 independAntwriters Publishing & Dell Sweet. Copyright renewed 2015, Dell Sweet. All rights reserved

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Much Thanks to: M. Laughlin, C. Maxon, G. Dell, C.J.

Peters had gotten up from the kitchen table as he spoke, apparently, Frank thought, to get the shotgun, and Frank followed him into the living room as he finished speaking.

He supposed a shotgun, even an old one, was better than no weapon at all. He nodded in approval, and then wandered back out to the kitchen to grab himself another beer, as Peters shuffled off towards his bedroom to locate the old shotgun.

As he opened the refrigerator, he thought, good thing I brought some food with me, this thing is totally empty. Wonder what the hell the old guy eats? Cat food? He had noticed earlier when he had placed the sack in it, that the only other thing in the General Electric, had been a six pack of beer, a half-eaten pizza, and twelve unopened cans of cat food. In fact the whole house had a slip-shod appearance to it, like Peters maybe didn’t spend a whole hell-of-a-lot of time in it, but where the hell else would he be, he asked himself, if he wasn’t here?

Frank popped the top on a can of the beer; closed the door; and turned to head back into the living room, to see if Peters had located the shotgun. It was a good thing he turned when he did, he told himself later, re-playing the scene over and over again, Peters’ was standing in the doorway with the old shotgun leveled at him.

Frank instinctively dropped to the floor as the shotgun roared in the small kitchen. He rolled quickly to the left, and then just as quickly he jumped from the drop-roll, and tackled the old man’s legs, taking them both into the living room. Foam, from the dropped can of beer, had spread quickly across the worn kitchen floor; Frank had almost slipped in it and lost his balance as he lunged for Peter’s legs.

His will to survive took over.

Frank wrestled the shotgun from the old man’s grip in the living room, with a well-placed punch to the throat, which caused the old man to release his grip and fall to the floor gasping for breath.

“What the fuck did you think you were doing?” Frank yelled, as he gained his feet, and leveled the shotgun at the wheezing old man on the floor.

Peters glared back at him as he struggled to catch his breath, and said between gulps of air, “I kill you for that if I can, you bastard.”

Franks eyes almost popped from his head as Peters spoke. He had almost convinced himself that it had been some sort of an accident. Maybe the gun just went off accidentally, he reasoned, and maybe you nearly killed the old guy simply because the damn gun went off.

Peters was struggling to get up off the floor, and Frank kicked him hard in the stomach, driving him back down onto the worn carpet of the living room.

The display of bravado Peters had attempted ended, as Frank roared the question once again.

“What the fuck did you think you were doing? What the hell is going on here?”

Frank was in no mood to take any shit from Peters, and when he didn’t immediately answer, he roared the question again, while pointing the shotgun threateningly at him.

“Okay… Okay,” Peters said, gulping air. “You’ll never make it anyway, you stupid fuck. We were wise to you before you got here.”

Frank’s mouth dropped open as he finally realized, that the accent the old man had demonstrated was now gone along with any pretense that he hadn’t known a thing about Frank’s situation, or why he was in Fort Drum.

“The only reason you’re still alive,” the old man continued, “is those stupid ass-holes that were sent to take care of you, killed the kid by mistake. If I hadn’t wandered over to look the place over myself yesterday morning, we wouldn’t even have known about it… Sincerely, you’re fucked Franklin, you might as well just give me that shotgun and call it quits,”

Peters fixed Frank with his old gray eyes, before he continued.

“You’re dead meat pal, this deal is much too big to allow some second rate reporter like you to screw it up. You think my supervisor doesn’t know you’re still alive? You think I’m that fucking stupid? If you don’t hand that shotgun over, and let me up, you’re gonna be in a world of shit.”

The bravado was returning to his voice as he spoke.

“Sincerely buddy, give it up, it’s not like you can just kill me or something, and it won’t make any difference at all. We’ll still get you, there’s nowhere to go.”

Frank was incredulous, and was having a hard time digesting all of what Peters was saying.

They had known he was coming?

They had been waiting?

What the hell was so important that they were willing to kill me to stop me from finding out about it? He wondered, and if they had known before he had left Washington, did that mean they had possibly taken the kids? Or hurt them? Or worse? Had they gotten to Jimmy?

He turned his attention back to the old man on the floor.

“Who are you,” he asked. “I mean who are you really?”

Peters just glared back from the floor.

“You had better speak if you intend to see the end of this day,” Frank said, in a deadly calm voice.

“If you’re thinking that I won’t shoot, you’re wrong buddy boy, I will. I’ll shoot you and leave you laying here, now TALK!”

“CIA,” Peters replied with a sneer. “Now, don’t you think it might be smart to put that shotgun down?” Peters was trying for the false bravado again, but the fear was evident in his voice as he spoke, and he kept glancing nervously at the shotgun that Frank held.

“And?” Frank asked.

He jabbed the shotguns barrel into Peter’s ribs, and shoved him all the way back onto the floor.

“And what?” Peters asked.

“Don’t you, and what, me, you son-of-a-bitch, what’s the real deal here?” Frank struggled to bring his temper under control, before he continued, and he began to speak in a calm, but deadly serious voice once he did.

“Listen, I’m not in the mood to play your stupid games Peters, if that’s really your name. I want the truth, and I want it…right…now.” He punctuated his speech by once again jabbing the shotguns barrel into his ribs.

“Right.” jab…”Now.” jab.

Peters began to talk, and in the end, when Frank was sure he ought to just kill him, he hadn’t been able to.

Instead he had kept the old man talking through the night, gleaning every detail he could. Then he had taken the old guy, whose real name it turned out was David Black, down into the cellar when the sun had come up, and securely bound him to one of the old kitchen chairs, he had brought down from the kitchen for just that purpose.

“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay there.” Frank warned him. He settled his green eyes on him as he spoke.

“Because If I see you again… I’ll kill you.”

Frank climbed the rickety old cellar stairs to the kitchen, reached into the refrigerator, and plucked out a cold beer, considered, and then grabbed another and sat down at the table to think.

He wasn’t sure whether he believed Black’s story entirely or not. He desperately hoped he hadn’t been lying when he had said that Patty and Tim were all right. Frank didn’t think he had been, as he had rested the shotgun on his chest, and had told him he would just as soon kill him. The bravery had fled, and Black had looked pretty damned scared as well. Frank supposed he would have been too.

He hadn’t seen a phone anywhere in the house, he realized, as he sipped the beer thoughtfully, and peered around the kitchen.

Wonder how he kept his supervisor up to speed on me, without a phone?

He left the kitchen and walked back down the cellar steps to where Black sat tied into the kitchen chair.

“Where’s the phone?” he asked without any preamble.

Black looked confused.

“The phone, you piece of shit,” Frank yelled. “You know, ring-a-ling-ling, a phone? You must have a phone here somewhere, if only to keep in touch with your supervisor, right?”

“In the car, under the front seat,” Black replied quietly, and then continued.

“Look, nobody hurt your kids Frank, this thing was strictly aimed at you.”

“Like I’m really gonna believe somebody like you?” Frank asked, as he turned and re-climbed the cellar stairs.

“Suit yourself,” Black called from the basement behind him.

Frank walked out to the car, glad now that Black had parked it out back, and retrieved the cellular phone. He carried it back into the kitchen, and re-locked the door behind him. He wondered briefly whether the phone could be traced, or was maybe being monitored in some way, but he placed the call to Cora anyway. He had to know that the kids were really okay, and he couldn’t just take Black’s word for it. In the same breath, he didn’t want to scare the kids. So he made up his mind to only speak to Cora, even though he desperately wanted to hear their voices, so that he could put his mind at ease.

In the kitchen of the old Pratt farm, the phone rang twice before Cora picked it up. Before Frank could say much more that hello, she spoke…

“I knowed you’d be callin’,” Cora said, “and don’t worry, the kids is safe. Go do what you got to do, Frank.”

Frank was caught entirely off guard by Cora’s remark, but with everything else that had transpired since he left Washington, he supposed it, at first, to be just an old woman’s suspicions, and not of any great significance. In truth it hadn’t really even clicked, until a few seconds after she said it.

“Do you believe in God?” she asked, before he had fully comprehended what she had said when she answered the phone.

“Of course I do, Cora,” he stammered, although in truth he was really not sure if he did or did not; she had expected that answer, so he had given it, as he had hundreds of times before when he had been asked. But, to say he really did, or did not believe would have taken a great deal more thought, and he was pretty sure the answer would actually be no.

“Then you oughta do some prayin’ fer yourself, and the kids too,” she said, as he listened over the static on the cellular phone.

“But…” he started, when she cut back in.

“Just go, Frank,” she said, “just go, before it’s too late.”

She hung up the phone on her end, before Frank could say another word, but he had heard the children’s laughter, as they had played in the background, and it eased his mind. He sat at the table, puzzling over what Cora had said to him.

In all the time he had known her, he had never known her to be afraid of anything. She hadn’t really sounded afraid this time either, but she had sounded upset, and her message had seemed so urgent.

The longer he sat at the table, the angrier he became. He had to control that anger before he got up from the table and went back down to the cellar and did something he might not be able to forgive himself for, he decided to leave. Enough was enough, there had to be answers, and he was through stepping around the edges of them.

The decision made, Frank got up from the table, and found the box of slugs for the shotgun in the bedroom. With the slugs slipped securely into his pocket, he locked up the house, and drove Blacks car into the woods to conceal it. He then made the circuitous trip through the woods to the house across the road, where he now waited patiently for dusk to arrive.

After he was sure that the children were okay, he had begun to worry about making the phone call. While it was true that they hadn’t done anything to the children, that didn’t, Frank knew, mean they wouldn’t. If they did go after the children, he was sure they would have one hell-of-a-fight on their hands from Cora, and somehow, Frank told himself, he would find them, and kill them, no matter who they worked for, if they hurt the kids.

The other thing that may not have been smart about the phone call, he realized, was that if they had traced it, it would lead them directly to him, so it probably wouldn’t be smart to hang around for long, Frank had decided.

Black had also told Frank, with some urging from the shotgun that he had kept tucked under his chin, about Jimmy.

They had killed him. Black had made no bones about it at all. They had taken him out, the same way they had intended to take Frank out.

Apparently Jimmy had gotten far to close, and they had waited for him to return to his apartment one night. Before he had really known what was going on, they had killed him by garroting him with a thin steel line.

“Quick and easy,” Black had said, “and no mess just in case somebody came nosing around to see where he was.” The cock-sucker had sounded proud, Frank thought, as he waited for darkness, deep within the shadows at the edge of the woods.

They hadn’t bothered to question him, Black had said, as they knew that he knew too much.

“That questioning shit,” Black had told Frank, “only takes place in the movies.”

The worries he’d had about the kids, and the knowledge of what they had done to Jimmy already, kept him indecisive for a few seconds, and he had hovered at the door to the basement, wondering if he should go back down and put a slug right between the old man’s eyes. If he somehow managed to escape, and get out of the basement, he would be able to tip off his cohorts about Frank, and what he intended to do.

Instead he had descended the cellar steps once more; checked the ropes to make absolutely sure they were tight enough, and then before he could change his mind and shoot him, he had left without saying a word to Black.

Darkness descended on the woods where Frank stood waiting, and he crouched low as he ran the few yards to the garage; fished the keys from his pocket and inserted one into the lock on the old wooden door. The door itself was still intact, and since he hadn’t seen anyone approach the old house as he had sat watching it yesterday, he supposed that was a good sign. Still he was cautious as he raised the door, keeping the shotgun pointed into the interior of the shadowy old garage.

It was empty, except for the small car he had left inside.

“Guess they figured I wouldn’t need it,” Frank said aloud, in the small space.

The sound of his own voice startled him for a second, causing his finger to tighten on the trigger of the shotgun. He quickly released it and let the gun swing down to his side.

No sense shooting the car, he thought.

He moved quietly to the car and after first peering cautiously inside, opened the driver’s door, and climbed behind the wheel.

He had been positive, while waiting in the woods, that somehow the car would not be there, but when it was, he had become equally sure that the car would not start. So sure, in fact, that he had to fight an urge to exit the car and open the hood, to see for himself whether the new wires were still attached to the distributor and battery. In the end he simply inserted the key, turned it, and it started with no problem.

He toyed briefly with the idea of trying to follow the old man’s directions to an alternate entrance to the caves. The problem was, he could not be sure if the old man had been telling the truth, and if he had been, he could not be sure that someone would not be there waiting for him.

He made up his mind to take the direct route. He had his press pass, so he could at least flash it, and try to get in that way. If it worked he would have to wing it from that point. There was no one he could trust to call to help him, and he had not thought the plan out any farther than that.

Frank pulled the small car out onto the highway and headed towards Watertown…

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