Our Drive Home from Colorado

It was fifty-four degrees and mostly sunny when Sydney and I arrived in Limon, Colorado on Sunday, April 30, returning to Kansas from a writer’s conference in Colorado Springs. I had just passed the convenient store (even though I strongly needed a pit stop) because Sydney had just laid her head to the side and closed her eyes.

I was confused when I saw the flashing sign that said I-70 was closed. As I pulled onto the shoulder of the off-ramp with a dozen other cars I woke Sydney because I needed a map and my flip phone wasn’t up to the task.

Assuming I-70 was closed due to the high winds we found another east/west road and proceeded south.

By the time we stopped at Eads, Colorado to eat we had learned that western Kansas had received up to eighteen inches of snow. Although we didn’t have any reason to doubt our source, it was hard to believe there were traveling issues when we continued to drive with mostly clear skies and an occasional snow drift.

During our stop we heard highway ninety-six was reopened. Um, okay, maybe there is more going on than we realize. Further south, highway fifty remained closed. It was time to turn east.

Yes, it had snowed in Colorado Springs the previous day. But the roads were fine and there was barely any snow remaining. So at this point we still didn’t grasp the severity of the snow that blanketed western Kansas and stood between us and home.

As the sun set behind us and we entered Kansas (yes, it was almost that dramatic at the state border) reality began to take shape. It seemed like we passed across an invisible barrier that kept the cold and snow inside the Wheat state’s borders.

At one point the temperature dropped ten degrees almost instantly. Our speed was slowed to a crawl and we saw cars and semis stranded in deep snow drifts in the ditches. We wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

Flashing lights and ten-foot high snow banks were the only indication we had entered a town. We learned from the officer that the electricity of Leoti had been off for over ten hours, the motel was full, and he thought one of the churches was opening up to provide shelter for stranded travelers. Oh, and they were stopping vehicles because the road ahead was down to one lane. As we tried to get across the highway to the motel parking lot to wait the Camry got stuck. Five guys and a tow freed us. In spite of the officer’s warning, several vehicles that had been stuck behind us drove ahead toward Scott City. We decided the roads couldn’t get much worse than they were in Leoti so we followed.

We continued to see cars in the ditch as we slipped and slid and watched the car in front of us do the same. We called ahead and found out that both Scott City and Dighton had motels that were full and churches opening up for those in need.

At the convenient store in Scott City we asked other travelers (including the ones who had been sliding in front of us) if they knew how the road were ahead. The consensus was that the road east was improved over what lay behind so we gassed up and continued on.

The roads improved between Dighton and Ness City but a light drizzle began to hit the windshield. It was well past midnight so we decided to stop.

The motel wasn’t anything to write home about. Well, okay, maybe it was, but not in a good way. An empty pool in the middle of the lobby without barriers, a bathroom door that took both Sydney and I to open, and a room that had seen better days are certainly stories that can be shared.

After a few hours of sleep we loaded up (neither of us brave enough to shower) and finished our journey with clear skies and a dry road.
I dropped Sydney off at Sterling College by eleven and I arrived home by noon – a mere twelve hours and one long adventure later than expected.

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April Storytime Bloghop

Storytime Blog Hop January 25th, 2017

Welcome to another chapter in Storytime Blog Hop. We have new short speculative fiction tales from authors around the world.  My contribution below.  Follow the links to all the other stories and participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you!

Flipper’s Pick-Up Lines

“Are you sure about this?”

Flipper had used one of his best pick-up lines yesterday on his crush, Neva. He believed it went well – she had giggled and touched his arm – but Neva still liked Josh. Since Josh didn’t feel the same way about Neva, Allison talked him into telling Neva so she could stop thinking about him, which might give Flipper a chance. At first Josh didn’t want to talk to Neva, but Allison was persistent and he relented, mostly because Flipper was his best friend. She went with Josh for that conversation and now she was going with Flipper to help him talk to Neva.

“I know it went well last time but I’m still scared.” Flipper shook his arms nervously.

“Just be yourself,” Allison said.

“What if I don’t know what to say?” Flipper asked a little panicky.

“If you’re stuck just ask her a question. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Here she comes.”

Neva smiled. “Hi Allison. Hi Flipper.”

“Hi Neva!” Allison elbowed Flipper when he didn’t respond.

“Um, um, did it hurt?”

“What?” Neva asked, confused.

“When you fell out of heaven?”

Neva giggled.

Allison elbowed Flipper again. What was he thinking? When neither of them said anything for several seconds, Allison asked, “Are you going to the game tomorrow night?”

Neva nodded. “I want to if my dad will let me.”

“Is your dad an alien?” Flipper chimed in.

There were a few moments of awkward silence.

Neva hesitantly said, “No. Why?”

Flipper quietly answered, “Because there’s nothing else like you on Earth.”

Neva giggled again and Allison swore she was blushing.

Flipper seemed to be gaining confidence. “Are you a magician?”

Neva smiled. She was hanging on Flipper’s every word. “No, why?”

“Because every time I look at you everyone else disappears.”

There was no doubt now, Neva’s cheeks were red. Her giggles turned into laughter.

“Were your parents thieves?”

Neva shook her head.

“They must be because someone stole the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes. Do you have a map?”

Neva was laughing too hard to answer, which didn’t slow Flipper down at all.

“I need one because I keep getting lost in your eyes.”

Allison couldn’t stand to watch any more. She loudly cleared her throat. “Flipper can I see you a minute.” She pulled on his arm and they walked several feet away from the hysterical Neva.

Allison whispered, “What are you doing?”

Flipper shrugged his shoulders. “You told me if I didn’t know what to say to ask her questions.”

“I meant ask her questions about her and what she’s interested in. I didn’t mean bombard her with lousy pick-up lines.”

“Hey!” Flipper protested. “These are some of my best lines.”

Allison sighed. “That’s all you’ve said to her.”

“I can’t help it. I open my mouth to ask a question and the only thing that comes out are pick-up lines.” Flipper grinned. “Well, she’s getting to know the real me.”

 

“I tell you what,” Allison continued to whisper so Neva couldn’t hear. “I’ll start the topics and you follow my lead.”

Flipper agreed.

They rejoined Neva.

Allison apologized. “Sorry about that. We were just talking about how we were looking forward to fall and the cooler weather.”

That was his cue. Flipper searched for what to say. “Yeah, it’s hot, Neva. You’re hot. I mean, you’re hotter than the bottom of my laptop.”

Neva giggled so Flipper continued. “Did the sun come out or did you just smile at me?”

Neva melted. “Ahh!”

Allison shook her head in disbelief. She tried to change the subject again. “Do you go to church?”

Neva nodded. “I go with my parents to Grace Community Church.”

Allison looked at him in anticipation. Flipper met her eyes. His eyes were watering. He realized he was holding his breath and exhaled deeply. Allison adamantly shook her head. She was going to kill him but he couldn’t resist. “Somebody better call God because he’s missing an angel.”

He slowly walked around Neva without taking his eyes off of her. When he completed the circle he said, “Where do you hide your wings?”

He was positive she snorted when she laughed. He could feel Allison’s ire, but he couldn’t stop. He didn’t know what else to say and his mouth just seemed to have taken over.

“What time do you have to be back to heaven?

Neva laughed even harder.

“When God made you he was showing off.”

Neva was laughing so hard her face was red and she wasn’t breathing. She removed her glasses and wiped her eyes.

“Your eyes are blue like the ocean. And baby, I’m lost at sea!”

“Oh, good grief,” he heard Allison mumble before she walked off.

 

After dinner that evening Flipper met Allison at Josh’s house to talk about his encounter with Neva.

“How did it go?” Josh eagerly asked.

“It was horrible to watch.”

“I tried to act normal, I really did! But every time I opened my mouth one of my pick-up lines came out. It seemed like once I started I couldn’t stop. That’s all I could remember.”

“It was that bad, huh?” Josh asked.

“Actually, she really thought it was cute,” Flipper said. “In fact, she was flattered that I liked her.”

“I hear a but coming,” Josh interjected.

“We agreed just to be friends.”

“I’m sorry,” Allison consoled. “Are you okay?”

Flipper smiled. “Actually, I’m relieved. It was a lot of pressure trying to impress Neva.”

Josh shook his head. “Gosh, you worked so hard to memorize all of those pick-up lines. I thought surely one of them would work.”

“Actually, one of them did.”

Josh scrunched his head and Allison wore a puzzled look. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Before we agreed to be just friends,” Flipper explained. “She responded positively to my final pick-up line.”

“Which one was that?” Josh asked.

Flipper’s cheeks turned red. “Your lips look so lonely…Would they like to meet mine?”

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope you enjoyed!

If you enjoyed Flipper’s Pick-up Lines check out my newest books, Vetrix and Before Vetrix, for more adventures with Flipper, Allison, and Josh.

Read more stories by selecting the links below. These are fellow writers and friends of mine.

 

The Scorpius Gate by Sandra Fikes
V is for Vortex by Elizabeth McCleary
Deep Dive by Juneta Key
Bugs by Gina Fabio
Secret by J. Q. Rose
Journal of Anah by J Lenni Dorner
The Vineyard at Mar Mozambique by Karen Lynn
Stealing Space by Barbara Lund
The Day I was Clever by Katharina Gerlach
Never kid a kidder by Angela Wooldridge
The Color Of… by Chris Makowski
Nightmare by Erica Damon

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Upcoming Appearances

Here are my coming speaking engagements:

Thursday, April 27, 7:50-8:20 a.m. – Halstead Middle School assembly, grades 4-6

Saturday, May 6, 6-8 p.m. – Book signing with Bob Lutz, Sips Coffee, 225 Main St, Halstead, Ks

Saturday, May 27, all day, Yates Center Days – Will have a booth set up with books for sale by Blake and Bill Bush and by Phyllis Roth Lewis. Courthouse lawn, Yates Center, Ks

Monday, June 19, 7-8 P.M – Book signing with N. Jade Gray at Newton Public Library, 720 N Oak, Newton, Ks

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Front Page of the Newton Kansan!

My son Blake and I made the front page of the Newton Kansan in anticipation of our first book signing.

Thanks go to Patricia Middleton for writing a wonderful story!

Read the Story here

 

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Vetrix

Vetrix (Flipper Book 1) by [Bush, Bill, Bush, Blake]

Two alien species. One threat to Earth.
But who is the real threat and who can be trusted?

Twelve-year-old Flipper didn’t believe in aliens – until he was kidnapped by one.

When he wakes up one morning on the planet Vetrix he is trapped in the midst of an inter-planetary war. As Flipper struggles to survive and find a way back to Earth he discovers he may be a descendent of one of the warring species and that his intervening in the war may be his destiny, if destiny is decided by a computer program.

On Earth, Allison begins having dreams that turn out to be real experiences. When she watches a purple man disappear with her cousin, Flipper, no one believes her. Allison’s best friend Josh agrees to help and together the two sixth-graders begin their own investigation that leads them to the truth behind the Roswell Incident of 1947 and current alien activity on Earth.

As they try to gure out how to expose the secret colony of aliens and their plans to destroy the human race, Allison attempts to use her dreams to locate and rescue Flipper.

 

Vetrix may be purchased here:

Print
Print or Electronic

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Before Vetrix

Before Vetrix (Flipper, Allison, and Josh) by [Bush, Bill, Bush, Blake]

 

Three friends-eleven adventures-one good time.

Before Flipper is kidnapped in front of Allison and
Josh (details in the book Vetrix), the three best friends had a relatively normal life, though these short stories show that even ordinary kids doing everyday activities experience extraordinary moments.What kind of fun lies inside these pages?

– Josh and Allison get kicked out of a field trip

– They each share their most embarrassing moment

– Flipper uses his best pick-up lines on a girl he has a crush on

– The kids play a prank on Christmas night

– Allison and Flipper help Josh deal with a bully

– An indoor activity sends one of them to the emergency room

– Flipper and Allison battle against a tarantula that is stalking them

– Flipper fights a goat

– Allison becomes a sleuth

… and more

Experience the trio’s friendship as they have a good time together, no matter the circumstances.

Copies of Before Vetrix can be found here:
Printed Version
Printed and Electronic

 

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Who’s to Judge Another’s Love: Unconventional Love Stories

My newest book, Who’s to Judge Another’s Love: Unconventional Love Stories, is now available on Amazon.

The great thing about love is that anyone can love, and anyone can be loved. These stories put that to the test.
Unlike your traditional love stories, Who’s to Judge Another’s Love provide a glimlpse of unusual love stories that typically don’t get told.

Unconventional love stories. Keep an open mind.
And if you’re one who likes the traditional love story, there’s one for your tastes too.

View it on Amazon

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January Storytime Bloghop

Storytime Blog Hop January 25th, 2017

Welcome to another chapter in Storytime Blog Hop. We have new short speculative fiction tales from authors around the world.  My contribution below.  Follow the links to all the other stories and participating authors in the blog hop.  Leave us comments.  We love hearing from you.

Jesse and Tyler

“What if they don’t like me?”

My nerves were shot. Tyler and I dated for two years and tonight I was going to meet his parents. He just recently told them about us because he knew they would have a hard time accepting our relationship. They agreed to meet me and to try to keep an open mind.

Tyler calmly smiled. Those were two of the traits that endear him to me — his ability to remain calm and his smile. “Jesse, they know all about you so there won’t be any surprises. Besides, what they think about you won’t impact my feelings for you one bit.”

“I wanted to hear ‘they’ll love you’ or ‘everything will be fine’, but I knew better. Tyler is too honest for such white lies. I appreciated that ninety-nine percent of the time. This just happened to be a one-percent moment.

I watched him set the last plate on the table. He looked handsome this evening. He didn’t wear anything fancy — a blue polo shirt and Khakis — but he wore them well, if you know what I mean. I had a strong urge for some physical contact when the doorbell rang.

Tyler opened the front door. His mom looked at me, gasped and slapped her hands over her mouth. Her face flushed. She may not have been surprised but she didn’t handle this well. She quickly tried to recover. “Um, it’s nice to meet you, Jesse.” Apparently his mom didn’t have trouble with white lies.

“Jesse, this is my Mom, Mary, and my dad, Wayne.”

“I’m glad we finally get to meet,” his dad said. “Tyler has told us all about you.”

“Welcome to our house,” I said.

Things went fine during dinner. Small chit-chat prevailed. Afterwards we retired to the living room for more talk.

His parents shared stories about Tyler as a child, which were entertaining and very enlightening. When his dad mentioned how Tyler had taken his first step at nine months his mom started crying. “I’m sorry.” She blew her nose.

“What Mary is trying to say is that we have looked forward to being grandparents. As you know, Tyler is our only child. If you two stay together, well…”

“There is no if!” Tyler said through gritted teeth. “We love each other and are committed to making our relationship work.”

“We know you are dear,” his mom managed. “Maybe given enough time we can adapt and accept Jesse.”

“Mary, stop it!” Wayne scolded her. “We can’t accept this relationship. Jesse, I’m sorry. I know Tyler thinks he loves you and you seem nice enough, but you’re too different for us to ever be comfortable with. This just isn’t normal. You’ll be societal outcasts.”

“I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks,” Tyler snapped.

I had already felt guilty that Tyler would never have children if we remained together. Now I felt even worse as I listened to his parents’ disappointment. “Maybe your parents are right,” I managed through my sobs.

“No, Jesse. I love you! I don’t care what you look like and I don’t care what society thinks.”

He turned to his parents. “I know you would love and accept Jesse for who she is if you could see past what she is.”

Mary started to say something, burst into tears and fled out the front door. Wayne followed, but stopped in the doorway. “Son, you’ll have to walk this path on your own. We cannot support our son being married to a ghost.”

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope you enjoyed! Read more stories by selecting the links below. These are fellow writers and friends of mine.

The Poisoner of Time by Karen Lynn
New Stork Inc. by Katharina Gerlach
THE THIEF & THE POCKET HEART by Juneta Key
Hello Again! by J. Q. Rose
Reflected by Elizabeth McCleary
Veronica by Jessica Kruppa
Last Stop by Erica Damon

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Embarrassing Moments

Josh double bounced on the diving board and dove into the pool. When he hit the water his swimsuit scooted down to his knees. He frantically pulled it up before he resurfaced.
He looked around expecting everyone to be laughing at him. He scanned the pool but no one paid him any attention. He couldn’t believe his luck. “That was close,” he said to himself, then swam to the four-foot area and joined his best friends, Flipper and Allison.

“I just had a horrible scare.”

“What happened?” Allison asked, concerned.

“When I dove off the board my shorts fell down. I barely got them pulled up.”

Flipped laughed. “That would have been embarrassing!”

“It would have been awful!” Allison agreed.

“What’s your most embarrassing moment?” Josh asked Flipper.

Flipper answered immediately. “It was in third grade P.E. I really had to go to the bathroom. We were doing sit-ups. When I finished I noticed Melanie starring at me with her mouth open. I looked down and I had peed a little.”

“You didn’t notice?” Josh asked astonished.

“Not until I saw the wet spot on my shorts.”

“What’s yours?” Allison asked Josh.

“Last year we flew to California to visit my Mom’s family. On the flight home we sat in the second row from the front. I went to the bathroom in the back of the plane. As I walked back to my seat I noticed people were laughing. When I sat down a guy in a seat across from me pointed down the aisle. I looked and saw a string of toilet paper from the bathroom all the way up the aisle. It had stuck to my shoe and I had drug it in front of everybody.

“Oh, that’s horrible,” Allison laughed.

“The worst part was walking back down the aisle to pick it all up.”

“So what’s your most embarrassing moment?” Flipper asked Allison.

Allison thought for a moment. “Last year in Mr. Burke’s Social Studies class he asked a question and I blurted out the answer without even raising my hand.”

Flipper gasped. “Did they suspend you?”

Allison giggled and splashed him. “Shut up. I wasn’t finished. Anyway, he said ‘Are you sure?'”

There were several moments of silence. Finally, Josh asked, “What happened?”

“That’s it,” Allison explained. “I got the answer wrong in front of everybody!”

Flipper continued mocking her. “I don’t think I can hang out with you anymore.”

“That’s not a big deal. I get answers wrong all the time,” Josh countered. “Besides, that’s not your most embarrassing moment. Remember after the soccer game last spring we saw that boy you like – Alex. You saw him wave and you waved at him all excited but he was actually waving at his friends behind us and not you?”

Flipper laughed hard. “That’s so embarrassing!”

“I DO NOT like Alex!”

“You do too,” Josh argued. Then doing an imitation of her he said, “You turned red and waved like he was a movie star!”

Allison splashed Josh then jumped on his back and dunked him. Josh had an alarming sensation that was confirmed when he got his head above water.

“Is that brown in the water?” Flipper asked.

Josh was horrified. “I think I have a new most embarrassing moment.”

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Sledding Inside

Flipper loosely gripped the book in both hands. He moved his thumb and fingers back and forth causing the book to flip up and down. It was his trademark activity – where he got his nickname. It was a habit, probably a compulsion. He paced as he flipped, which meant he was deep in thought.

He was in his cousin Emma’s upstairs bedroom with their best friend Josh. The three fifth graders had been playing video games but Emma’s mom told them to find something to do that didn’t involve a screen. This meant, of course, they were now bored.

Josh jumped up from the floor. “I know! Let’s slide down the stairs.”

Two minutes later they were in the hallway looking down the steep staircase, almost drooling. Emma sat in a clear tote waiting to be launched.

Flipper was worried Emma might get hurt. “How is she going to stop?”

“She’ll stop at the bottom.” Josh stated like the answer was obvious.

“But what if she crashes?”

Flipper’s question caused them to pause, each pondering the revealed risk that had previously escaped them.

They lined the walls with pillows and padded the bottom of the stairway with cushions and blankets. Flipper insisted on going first to make sure it was safe. He wore Emma’s bike helmet, had on a pair of goggles instead of his normal black-rimmed eyeglasses, and was tightly secured in the tote he was sharing with three blankets.

Emma peered from the bottom of the stairway holding her IPad just below eye level, recording this historic feat.

“Are you ready?” Josh asked.

Flipper leaned forward. He stuck his left arm, his dominant, in the air giving Josh a thumb’s up, then laid his arms on the sides of the tote.

“One, two, three.” At three Josh pushed Flipper over the edge.

The next day Flipper would agree that sliding down the stairs in a tote was a bad idea, but for the first eight steps he was having as much fun as he did when he played video games. Unfortunately, the staircase consisted of thirteen steps.

On the ninth step the front of the tote caught and sent Flipper and the tote tumbling. It turned out the bike helmet was a good idea. Another good idea would have been arm pads. Flipper instinctively reached out to break his fall. It would be only seconds before he realized that was a terrible idea.

Flipper lay at the bottom of the stairs trying not to cry. The pain in his left arm and the large lump near his wrist made that extremely difficult.

Five hours later Flipper woke up in the hospital bed, his arm in a cast. The first face he saw was his mom.

She smiled and gently brushed his hair back from his forehead. “The surgery went well. You have to wear a cast for a few weeks but your arm is going to heal just fine.”

Flipper’s dad, his Aunt Lavon, Emma, and Josh were also in his hospital room.

“Did you get it recorded?” Flipper muttered.

Emma nodded her head but didn’t speak.

“It was great!” Josh exclaimed. “It might have won money on America’s Funniest Videos.”

“What do you mean ‘may have’?” Flipper asked.

Aunt Lavon put her arm around her daughter. “Emma erased the video. It was disturbing to watch.” A tear fell from her eye. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know what you were doing. I would have stopped you…”

Flipper’s dad cleared his throat. “Lavon, remember two years ago when Emma fell and broke her arm while I was watching them at the park?”

Lavon nodded her head.

Dennis smiled. “Well, I guess now we’re even.”

 

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