Twelve short stories wit.., p.9
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       Twelve Short Stories With A Twist, p.9

           Mario V. Farina
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can't represent you."

  "Why, for goodness sake?"

  "I'm representing your husband."

  "That buzzard?"

  "I'm afraid so!"

  "Can't you drop him and represent me instead, as one woman to another?"

  "No, I can't. I'm the other woman, Mrs. Olsen! I felt you needed to know sooner or later."

  The phone disconnected itself when Mildred dropped to the floor in a dead faint.

  Thou Art A Witch

  We live in a world of witches. This is more of a problem in other lands than it is in the United States because we don't use archaic language here any more. But we should know more about witches anyway. Here are the facts:

  There are many witches in our country. They look like ordinary people, both men and women. There are bad witches and good witches. The bad witches can cast spells; good witches cannot do this but they can remove them where they exist.

  If you say to a person, "Thou art a witch!" there may be a reaction. If he or she is not a witch, the individual may be offended, but nothing worse is likely to happen. However, if that person is a bad witch, he or she may cast a spell upon you. The spell will be such that it may be removed only by a good witch!

  I can't emphasize how important that last paragraph is!

  In my youth I was at a diner one time after I had been reading about witches. There was a lovely blond woman serving me and I thought I'd try a new line. I said, "Thou art a witch!" The plan was that if she complained, I'd say I had yearned to be placed under her spell. As it turned out, the woman was a bad witch! She became very angry and, indeed, placed me under her spell. She turned me into a coffee cup! The picture at the front of this book shows what I looked like at that time.

  Yes, that is a picture of me at the time. I was actually a coffee cup!

  I had not expected this outcome and spent several days in this condition. But I was optimistic. Every time I'd be placed on a table and someone sat there to eat, I'd say, "Thou art a witch!" My hope was that a good witch would hear this and remove the spell. Most of the time the result was, simply, shock. After all, who had ever heard of a talking coffee cup?

  After a week of this unpleasant existence, a pretty woman came to have breakfast. She was alone. I said, "Thou art a witch!" I was hoping she was a good witch so that she could remove the spell.

  "Yes," she responded. "I am a good witch." I was overjoyed and begged, "Would you please make me human again?" She was willing but in no hurry. She wanted to know more about me. We had a pleasant chat, which was interrupted only when the server, a kindly-looking older woman, came to take the her order. I had found out a lot of good things about the young woman, but all she knew about me, up to that point, was that I was a coffee cup.

  We continued our conversation, and I got the feeling that when I was a human again, we could take our relationship up to the next step. Eggs and bacon were delivered to her and she enjoyed this but I had nothing but coffee.

  After the good witch had eaten, she changed me back to a human. At that time, I found myself sitting opposite her. We continued to chat. At the end, we exchanged telephone numbers and she left. The server came back and stared at me. "I didn't see you come in," she said. "How could she have?" I thought. I had been there all the while as a coffee cup!

  I found this a little amusing and was chortling a little too loudly.

  "What's so funny?" she asked.

  I was laughing by this time, and I said through my tears of laughter, "I was thinking about the time I said something I shouldn't have and got turned into a coffee cup!"

  "What on earth did you say?" the server asked.

  "Thou art a witch!" I replied

  The woman's countenance took on a severe appearance "That was nasty!" she growled as she turned me back to a coffee cup.

  Voyage To Mars

  My name is Rex Snyder. I'm not an astronaut but Mrs. Snyder and I are on our way to Mars. We left Earth on January 1, 2040. Today is March 1, 2040 and we're a little more than half way to our destination. A great deal of progress was made last year in power generation and space technology. A new form of propulsion was discovered named fusion flame. A luxurious space vehicle was built by NASA, which enabled my wife and I to begin the trip and travel in relative comfort while underway.

  The distance from Earth to Mars varies from moment to moment. The minimum distance between the two planets is about 40 million miles but in traveling from Earth to Mars, we'll need to travel many more than 40 million miles; actually about 150 million. Because of this, NASA chose a happily married couple to make the trip. My wife and I are living in a bullet-shaped vehicle that doubles as a space ship and a luxurious home. It has every modern convenience that happy home owners could wish for. We won't need to do any driving since our entire trip has been computer programmed. When we get to Mars, we'll simply orbit the planet, then return home. There will be no landing. The entire trip was planned as a political coup. Several competing nations have been preparing to travel to Mars and our President decided it was imperative that our country be first. The voyage was begun even though the planning for it was only partially complete.

  During the time the voyage was being planned, there was a contest throughout the United States to select the most eligible childless couple to go, Happily Lucille and I were chosen.

  It's been fun so far. On January 1, 2040, there was a short dash on a runway at Dallas airport. When Mars One reached a velocity of about two hundred miles per hour, it rotated skyward and escaped Earth's gravity within a few seconds. Our ship is traveling at about 25,000 miles per hour. Lucille and I spend our time looking out the picture windows, enjoying elegant meals we prepare using the Fusion-powered range, reading, watching TV, listening to music, and, otherwise simply enjoying a life of leisure. We'll be returning to Dallas on or about March 1, 2041. We'll arrive at Mars on or about July 1, 2040. We'll need to stay in orbit with Mars for a few days before the window for a return trip to Earth opens. During those orbits we'll be taking thousands of pictures.

  This trip is tedious despite the comforts. Lucille and I knew this when we were chosen to make the trip, but it will all be worth it because of the service we're providing for humankind. I know she and I will be greatly honored when we return and I've been composing our arrival speech.

  May 1, 2040

  Something important has happened since I wrote the first part of this story. After March 1, life continued happily until today. NASA hadn't told us but several weeks after Lucille and I had begun our trip, further advances in space technology were made and another couple was launched to travel to Mars. Their ship was Mars Two and it was twice as fast as ours. Around lunchtime, as we were looking out our starboard picture window, we suddenly observed Benny and Helen Brown looking out the picture window of another space ship as it overtook and passed us on its way to Mars. We learned later that Benny and Helen were going to arrive at Mars well before us, and that our ship had been turned around for a return to Earth. This was disappointing but, at least, we thought, we'd arrive on Earth in plenty of time to get a small amount of glory.

  May 15 2040

  Today, as we were speeding toward Earth, we were looking out the port window and unexpectedly saw Grace and George O'Brien looking out the starboard window of still another space ship aimed toward Mars. This was Mars Three. Even further advancements had been made in technology and this ship was much faster than Mars Two. It was going to arrive at Mars before Mars Two. The latter ship had also been turned to return to Earth. This was bad news but we thought we'd arrive back on Earth first.

  June 1, 2040

  Alas, this will not to happen. We've just seen Mars Two forging ahead of us on the way to Earth. A few days from now, Mars Three will go by in the same direction. NASA told us that, actually, Mars Three will be first to arrive at Dallas. This will be on July 1. Grace and George O'Brien will get all the honors. Three weeks later, Mars Two will land. Lucille and I won't get back until September 1, 2040.
Our ship has been declared obsolete. There will be no welcoming ceremonies for us. What is worse, our ship will not even land at Dallas. As a convenience to NASA, it will be redirected and parked at a huge storage yard in Houston.

  NASA has scheduled our return to Dallas to be by bus but, at our own expense!

  Bottom of Form


  "What's your husband doing in Albany these days?" Jill asked.

  "I thought I had told you," replied Belle. "He's attending a teachers' convention and should be coming home at the end of the week. How did you know he was in Albany?"

  "I go there every so often to shop. I watch for the sales, and, you know me, I can't resist a good sale. I was on Western Avenue, and I saw Ed going by. Didn't have a chance to say hello."

  "The convention is on State Street," commented Belle. "I wonder what he was doing on Western Avenue."

  "Well, I don't think this has anything to do with anything, but he was with a nice looking young lady. Blond. They were deeply engrossed in conversation. Maybe they were on break and having some lunch. It was about two in the afternoon, I think."

  "Yes, that must be the reason. She's probably a teacher also. And they had simply gone for a quick lunch."

  Belle Cameron and Jill Wallace were having coffee in the kitchen of Belle and Edward's new home on Mason Avenue in Troy. They had been married almost a year and had recently purchased a small Cape Cod. Jill was a new friend. Belle did not fully believe what she had said about the meeting that her husband was having with a woman. She had full trust in him, and believed that there was nothing wrong, but there was just a slight hint of a doubt. "I'll try to ask him a simple, innocent question, when he returns," she thought.

  It was Tuesday, and the days passed slowly. Belle couldn't shake from her mind what Jill had told her. She was going to have coffee with Jill again on Thursday, and maybe she would learn a little more.

  When they next met, Belle said, "I've been wondering, Jill, how the conference is going. I'll be happy to see Ed when he returns tomorrow."

  "Funny you should say that," Jill interjected. "I was in Albany yesterday and was on Western Avenue again. Would you believe, I saw Ed with a different woman. Red hair! I knew I shouldn't do this, but I kept out of sight and followed them to see if I could find out what they were doing, so that I could tell you and relieve your mind, if you had had any suspicions. They walked together holding hands, until they came to a house on Wilson Avenue. They went in and I waited about an hour, but they didn't come out. I hope I'm not telling you anything that you wouldn't want to hear."

  "Well what you're telling me is disconcerting," replied Belle. "I will definitely need to ask him about this when he comes home Friday."

  "I'm sure there's a very good explanation for all of this," responded Jill. "I wouldn't worry about it a great deal."

  "Well I am worried. He told me he was going to be at a conference, but I have not heard from him since he left, and I've been wondering how he's been doing. I trust him completely, of course. But what you've told me doesn't seem to have a simple explanation. I just can't help but think that . . ."

  "I would feel the same if I were in your shoes," interrupted Jill.

  It seemed to take a week for Friday to arrive. Finally around four-thirty, the door opened and Edward walked in jauntily. "Hi, Belle, I'm home," he called out. She ran to him and they kissed their hellos. Belle resisted the urge to begin questioning him. This was not easy but she succeeded.

  After dinner, as they were sitting in the living room, Belle said, "Ed, dear, how did the conference go?"

  "As usual," he replied, "dull, but informative."

  "Were there many people there?"

  "Oh, several hundred, maybe."

  "What did you do for lunch?"

  "There was a Burger King at the end of the block. I usually went there and had a couple of burgers."

  "Did any of the others go with you?" She asked nervously.

  "No, I was usually alone. One day one of the guys came with me."

  "One of the guys?"

  " Yeah, I didn't know him very well. I think his name was Joe."

  "Anything else interesting happen?" she asked haltingly. "Anything that you'd want to tell me?"

  "No, nothing at all. It was all routine stuff."

  Belle was not satisfied with the conversation that she and her husband had had. As soon as she had an opportunity, she phoned Jill. "I talked to Ed," she said. He didn't tell me anything about the women that he had been with in Albany. "What do you think might be going on?"

  "I think it's very suspicious," responded Jill. "He and that redhead seemed awfully cozy together. I wouldn't put it past him to, well, you know! I have an idea; why don't you arrange a little dinner party and invite me, and some others, and I'll see if I can worm it out of him what was going on. I'm very good at finding out things that people might be trying to hide."

  "I'm not sure that will work," objected Belle, "but it's worth a try. I'll keep you posted."

  After they had hung up, she went back into the living room, and exclaimed, "I just had a wonderful idea!"

  "Tell me about it."

  "I'd like to have a party Sunday and invite Jill Wallace and your sister, Madeline, and her husband, Tom. How does that sound to you?"

  "Those are sudden invitations, aren't they, dear? Do you think they will be able to make it. It's a coincidence that I was just thinking of inviting my sister and Tom for dinner. So your idea comes at a good time."

  On the following day, Belle phoned Madeline and was pleased that she and her husband would happily accept an invitation for the following Sunday. She called Jill and told her that she had arranged for a party on Sunday, and, of course, she should attend.

  "Now, we'll find out what that scoundrel has been up to," commented Jill. "I've always been a little suspicious of him!"

  "He may be doing something on the sly, Jill, but you're judging him too soon. He could have had perfectly legitimate reasons for being with those women. I'm sure you'll find out. Besides, this will give you an opportunity to meet my husband's sister and her husband."

  "I'll come early so that I can help with the party," said Jill just before hanging up.

  On Sunday, Belle and the Jill worked on the arrangements for the party which was to begin at two in the afternoon. Ed was in and out purchasing last-minute items.

  Two o'clock arrived and everything was set for a gala afternoon. All that was needed was the arrivals of Madeline and Thomas, then the festivities could begin. Precisely at two, the doorbell rang. Belle opened the door and escorted the visitors into the living room. She turned to Jill, and said, "Jill, I'd like you to meet Ed's sister, Madeline, and her husband, Tom."

  Jill looked as if she had been hit with a sledgehammer. Her face turned various shades of yellow, blue, and green. She opened and closed her mouth, but no sounds came out. She stiffened as rigid as a statue and seemed to be on the verge of toppling to the floor.

  "Jill! What the devil are you doing here?" shouted Madeline. "I thought I'd never see you again. You have no idea the hate that I still have for you!"

  "What's going on, Madeline?" Belle objected. "Jill is my friend. Why are you speaking to her that way?"

  "She's a devious demon," responded Madeline. "When I met Tom and we began planning to get married, this woman, that you call your friend, and that I thought was my friend, tried to convince me that Tom was being disloyal to me. She told me about things that Tom was doing, that were perfectly innocent, but she made it seem as if he was two-timing me. And she made up fake stories completely out of whole cloth. She wanted Tom for herself and was using the most vicious of schemes trying to take him away from me. Tom told me the truth and I ordered this evil person to get out of my life and stay out!"

  Belle turned to Jill and exclaimed, "Those things that you were telling me about Ed and other women were lies!"

  Jill did not respond.

  "Belle," Ed said. "When
I was at the convention, there was a time when I was with Madeline. We were selecting an anniversary gift for me to give you for our first anniversary. She was the only woman I was with while at the convention. If Jill said there were others, she was lying!"

  "The next move is up to me," thundered Belle uncharacteristically. "Ed, would you open the door. I'm going to take this woman by the arm and escort her to the door, then, pardon my French, I'm going to push her out with a kick to her derriere."

  Brain Transplant

  "I'm talking about a brain transplant," Dr. Thorne stated calmly. He paused letting what he had said sink in.

  Ten minutes before he had made this statement, Dr. Wendell Thorne had leaned back in his leather armchair and contemplated his visitor leisurely. Robert Moore had waited for the older man to speak. "Now that the preliminary groundwork has been laid," Dr. Thorne had begun, "we can get down to business." Robert had gazed at the distinguished looking doctor. He had had the uncanny feeling that this meeting was going to change his life.

  The two men were seated in the doctor's tastefully, but inexpensively, furnished office at the State Prison. Several framed certificates on the walls mutely testified to the fact that the gray-haired man was qualified to practice medicine at the prison. There was a pause. Robert waited patiently.

  "Because of the work done by intermediaries, you and I finally dare to meet in person," Dr. Thorne said. "I won't waste any words. You are a very wealthy man, but are sentenced to death within six months because of an insidious disease in your body that cannot be controlled." He looked for Roberts reaction.

  Robert Moore slumped. Even as they spoke, he could sense the slow erosion that was taking place deep inside his body. Within a matter of months, perhaps only a few weeks, Robert Moore would cease to exist as a human being. Initially, he had resisted the ravages that were taking place, but he now had accepted the inevitable.

  He nodded. It appeared that Dr. Thorne had done his homework.

  "I'm offering you a possible way out," the doctor had said. "For a sum of money, which I'll mention presently, I can give you a new chance. In a sense, I can renew your life beginning at about age twenty-five."

  Robert had never been married. He was fifty-eight. The idea that he could be transported back to an earlier age spurred his interest to an immediate peak. He wanted to ask a thousand questions all at the same time, wanting immediate answers to all of them.

  Sensing Roberts impatience, Dr. Thorne raised his hand as if to bar questions, and continued with, "Please don't ask questions. You will learn quickest by letting me explain, step-by-step."

  "Benny Harris, who used to be a prizefighter, is on death row." Dr. Thorne had begun quickly making
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