A visit from my dearly departed father.

Last night as I lay sleeping, something unusual happened. It was an otherwise clear and cool night, a night cool enough for me to open the windows and let in some of that fresh air that helps me sleep so well.

No, last night was a little different. I don’t know if it was a dream or not but I first noticed the air becoming very cold as the breeze gained strength to turn into a very strong wind that stirred up the clutter in my bedroom and sent it flying in all directions. I was freezing cold even with the blanket and the heavy comforter covering me and my body began to tremble and shiver.

When the chaos in my bedroom had eased, I noticed there was a glowing blue figure standing in front of my bed, the light too bright for me to identify exactly what it was.

“Hello, Ichiban.”

That voice. It sounded very familiar. And there was only one person who called me Ichiban.

“Dad? Is that you?”

It couldn’t be him. My father had left this life two years ago and I thought he was gone for good, although there were plenty of occasions when I got the sensation he was watching over me and even manipulating my mind to guide me towards doing the right thing when it came to managing my life and my finances.

“Yes, it’s me,” my father said. “I’m just checking on you and making sure you’re all right. After all, just because I’m gone doesn’t mean my fatherly duties have to end. Having said that…”

I sat up, my senses in awe of the ghostly being that was and will always be my father. I awaited in anticipation of what he would say next.


Happy 2023, I think.

mjbdiver> hello room!
ghost> oh no divers back
ralph> ghost just ignore him
dragon> so ralph your on twitter but not facebook?
ralph> no im on facebook but not twitter
ghost> what about instagram
ralph> sometimes
mjbdiver> im on instagram
*** ghost has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (CHILL)
*** ghost has joined channel #chat
ghost> why did u do that
*** ghost has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (BECAUSE I CAN)
*** ghost has joined channel #chat
ghost> u kicked me twice
*** ghost has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (THIRD TIMES THE CHARM)
*** ghost has joined channel #chat
ralph> at least its ghost and not me
*** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (AT LEAST ITS YOU AND NOT GHOST)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
ralph> dragon you hurt my feelings
ghost> so ralph your not on twitter anymore ?
ralph> no it hasnt been the same since elen must bought it
ralph> elan smock
ralph> elton john
*** ralph has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (ELON MUSK)
*** ralph has joined channel #chat
ralph> yea thats him
ghost> elton john bought twitter ? ? ?
ralph> dragon you hurt my feelings
dragon> no ghost its elon musk
ghost> isnt elon musk a lotion ?
ralph> instead of twitter im on parler
dragon> so your on facebook and parler but not twitter
ghost> and instagram
ralph> sometimes instagram but not as much as facebook but more than twitter
ghost> i thought u use twitter more than facebook
dragon> but not parler
mjbdiver> here we go!
ralph> no I go on parler but not as much as instagram or facebook
dragon> but more than facebook
ralph> no im on facebook more than parler
ghost>  i thought u use instagram more than parler
mjbdiver> 10!
dragon> what about snapchat
ralph> ocasiobaly but I use instagram more than snapchat but not as much as facebook or twitter altho i use parler more than snapchat or instagram
mjbdiver> 9!
ghost> I thought u use facebook more than instagram
dragon> what about tiktok
mjbdiver> 8!
ralph> no, im not into tiktok as i am with snapchat but i use tiktok more than i do instagram or facebook but sometimes i go on snapchat instead of instagram or facebook altho i go on Facebook before snapchat or tiktok but sometimes i go on parler instead of tiktok or instagram
ghost> i thought u use tiktok more than snapchat
mjbdiver> 7!
dragon> what about truth social
ghost> eeewwww truth social
ralph> id rather be on twitter
mjbdiver> 6!
dragon> i thought you didnt use twitter
ralph> no not as much as instagram or snapchat but i go on facebook more then i go on tiktok instead of parler
ghost> or truth social
mjbdiver> 5!
ralph>  no not truth social id rather be on snapchat
ghost> i thought youd rather be on twitter
dragon> he doesnt use twitter
ralph> no i dont use twitter
ghost> u dont use twitter ?  ? ?
mjbdiver> 4!
ghost> elton john mustve really messed it up
dragon> no its elon musk
*** ghost has been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (GETING DIZZY???)
*** ghost has joined channel #chat
ghost> that wasnt funy dragon
mjbdiver> 3!
ralph> oh look at diver hes counting down again
mjbdiver> 2!
ghost> dragon do the honors please
mjbdiver> 1!
*** You have been kicked off channel #chat by dragon (SEE YOU NEXT YEAR)

Countyline Racing.

Chico stepped on the gas as he turned onto the on ramp leading to I-95, almost tasting the sweetness of victory ahead. Then uncertainty set in as he had no clue who his opponent would be. Would he emerge triumphant with an improved racing record or would he just sink lower to the point of eternal shame? That question would soon be answered tonight.

Chico merged into the light traffic on the interstate and set about searching for his opponent. He flashed his bright lights twice in rapid succession and looked around for a response. No luck. He tried again and the car ahead changed lanes to move out of his way. Not the response he was looking for, but one slightly comical in tone to ease the moment’s tension.

Then he flashed his bright lights again and this time he got a response from one of the cars ahead. Its driver had tapped on the brakes twice to signal an acceptance of Chico’s challenge. The race was set to begin.

As Chico sped up to line his car up with his opponent, he was momentarily startled at the sight of blue flames shooting out of his opponent’s exhaust. No doubt a muscle car. But when he saw just what kind of car his opponent was driving, he began laughing.

His opponent was driving a Ford Pinto, but heavily modified for racing. The engine was so big that a hole had to be cut in the hood and the car rode on larger than usual tires. The bumpers were heavily padded to reduce any chance of explosion. Chico himself was driving a 1980 Datsun 210, also modified for racing. It boasted a powerful engine and some nitro boosters that helped secure his solid racing record that earned him a spot in the semifinals set to begin tonight. This was going to be a good race, if not a close one.

The two opponents nodded at each other in a final gesture of agreement to the race before they began their preparations, both mental and mechanical. The starting point was at the sign indicating the exit for Hillsborough Boulevard and the finish line was the Palm Beach County border. There were some spectators watching the race from the overpass, eager for some illegal excitement.

The exit sign for Hillsborough Boulevard zipped past as the two cars accelerated to begin the race. The other cars had to swerve out of the way of the speeding cars eager for a spot in the finals.

Chico was fully focused on the road ahead but to his annoyance noticed the Pinto was at his side and making no attempts to gain the lead. He was sorely tempted to use his boosters but he always saved them for the last stretch for they made controlling his car extremely difficult. He floored the gas pedal but it did little to gain any lead.

The race was now nearly half over but the two cars were still side by side. Chico began to worry about the race ending in a tie, which would have meant another race to determine the winner. Some racers utilized this strategy to wear down their opponents but Chico just wanted the race over with. His races never ended in a tie thanks to his boosters but he was hoping not to use them.

The sign indicating the upcoming exit for Boca Raton was now visible, marking the home stretch. Chico reluctantly decided to use his boosters and had reached for the button when his opponent suddenly slammed on the brakes and swerved off the road for no apparent reason. Perhaps the opponent conceded early and decided to let Chico win, unless there was a speed trap nearby. Chico quickly scanned the area and saw no patrol cars anywhere. He had won the race.

Then came the overpass where the cheering spectators offered their enthusiastic approval of Chico’s victory. As Chico drove underneath, his car was quickly buried by the $500 in pennies poured from buckets overhead.

This racing business isn’t bad, Chico thought, but the payout system is in dire need of improvement.

The Fart Test.

The door to the waiting room opened as renowned scientist Ranaan Bargaindeli entered to summon the five men who were waiting to take part in an ambitious experiment. As ordered they had been eating baked beans in preparation for the crucial second and final phase of the experiment.

“Come with me,” Bargaindeli commanded as the men rose from their seats to follow him to a large, darkened room illuminated only by a single overhead light in the middle. Numerous members of the press were present to document the unfolding of this unusual experiment about to take place. The five men stood in line in sideways formation while facing the audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Bargaindeli announced, “Here you see five married men. They all claim to be faithful to their wives, but one of them is a cheater. How will we find out, may you ask? Observe.”

Turning to the men, he smiled and said, “Gentlemen.”

The first man stepped forward and strained before letting out a loud fart. He stepped back with an awkward grin. There were whispers of disbelief among the reporters clearly wondering what flatulence had to do with advancing scientific progress.

The second man too stepped forward and farted loudly before stepping back while trying to keep a straight face despite the sound of the fart being humourous to his ears.

The third man had to strain more than the first two men, his face turning red from holding his breath trying to force the expulsion of his intestinal gas. He then leaned forward, put his hands on his knees and took some deep breaths before the gas finally came out with a long, deafening roar that shook the walls of the room. He laughed with an embarrassed grin before stepping back to join the other men.

In one smooth motion, the fourth man stepped forward, let loose a loud ripper before he stepped back. Finally, the fifth man contributed his brief fart before concluding the smelly phase of the experiment.

After several cans of air freshener were sprayed to render the air of the room more breathable for the reporters, Bargaindeli returned to the center of the room to address the audience.

“You may be wondering what flatulence has to do with advancing scientific progress,” he said. “You have just seen and heard from the five married men who say they are loyal to their wives, yet one of them is a cheater. Judging from the farts we just heard, I am guessing our cheater is man number three. Am I correct?”

The third man hung his head and stepped forward, amazed at how he was so identified just by his fart. “Yeah, I cheated on my wife. I work at night and she works during the day so I hardly ever see her anymore, so I started an affair with one my coworkers. But how did you know it was me who was cheating?”

“Simple,” Bargaindeli explained, “When confronted with the harsh reality of cheating, the stress causes all your muscles to tighten, including your rectal muscles, which blocks the expulsion of intestinal gas. When relaxed, however, the high volume of gas is then released through the longer than average flatulence.

“In other words, those who cheat fart longer.”

For his work, Bargaindeli became the 2022 recipient of the Dummbel Prize in Marriage Management.

A phone call from the future.

I was trying very hard not to panic.

There I was, five miles from home on the interstate and stuck in extremely heavy traffic that was backed up for miles. Normally that would’ve been all I’ve had to worry about but there was one more detail that made this unpleasant predicament all the more unbearable.

The orange fuel light on the dashboard was glowing and the trip odometer indicated I had 8 miles of gas left. To try conserving gas I turned off the air conditioner and had opened the windows to let in the hot summer air, leaving me soaked with sweat. Meanwhile traffic was barely crawling above a snail’s pace, drifting ever closer to the scene of the major accident responsible for so ensnaring the traffic. I was definitely trying hard not to panic.

Then my phone rang. I picked it up to see who was calling.

I saw my name and phone number displayed on the screen as the source of the incoming call. Either there’s a serious glitch with the network or I’m actually calling myself.

What the heck, I’ll answer this call. Anything to get my mind off my worsening situation.

I answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Hey,” a voice sounding very much like mine answered. “Listen, you’re going to make it.”

I was confused. “Who is this?”

“I’m you, ten minutes from now. Believe me, I’m just as confused as you are. But you will make it.”

“Make it where?” I asked.

“Out of that traffic jam you’re in. In exactly three minutes you will be back up to speed and in another five minutes you’ll be at the gas station close to home with 3 miles of gas to spare. See ya.”

Click. The call ended just as strangely as it began. My mind was left overwhelmed with questions I was struggling to answer. Was that really me? Is it really possible to call myself this way? Or is there a serious glitch with the network?

So preoccupied was my mind that I didn’t notice that traffic finally began to speed up after passing the overturned tractor trailer. A few minutes later I was back at normal driving speed, greatly relieved to have made it out of this nightmare. A few more minutes after that I was pulling into the gas station near home to fill up my nearly depleted tank. Before I turned the engine off, I took a glance at the odometer and gasped.

The trip meter indicated exactly three miles of gas left.

Now I was really confused. Is it really possible to call myself in the past? What if it’s not a glitch but a hidden perk of my phone service? An emerging technology that truly makes our lives more sane and less stressful? Why didn’t anyone tell us about this? Is it really possible to call myself in the past?

I’m going around in circles. Time to put this to the test.

I went to the received calls log in my phone and found my number. Strange, it appeared to be my phone number as if I really did call myself a few minutes ago. I selected the dial icon and the phone prepared itself to initiate the call. After dialing my number, I could hear ringing as the call commenced.

A few rings later, someone answered.


That’s odd.

That’s me.

Binghi’s Market vs. Sunshine Flea Market, Part 2.

The day Sunshine Flea Market opened, Binghi’s Market was a virtual ghost town with very few customers, including a few hardcore octogenarians who vowed to stay loyal regardless of what the competition had to offer. Vendors became bored and resorted to bugging owner Khatoosh Binghi to build his own movie theater, circus and amusement park to match the competition and help bring back the customers. Again Binghi refused, citing his limited finances. At once the vendors began calling Binghi stubborn, mule-headed and stupid, insisting he needed to build the attractions in order to save his business and their jobs.

Meanwhile Sunshine Flea Market enjoyed record crowds in the tens of thousands, yet none of them were interested in shopping at the vendor area. Instead they chose to go straight to the movie theater, circus and amusement park where they could have their fun for free. The management became frustrated and tried to lure customers to visit the vendors yet none of them were interested.

The vendor area was a huge problem for the Sunshine Flea Market management. There were booths set up for approximately 2,000 vendors but only 12 of them were occupied with vendors desperate for customers. Some of them ventured outside where the customers were and tried selling them their wares but once again they were disregarded. The free attractions were tremendously popular but without the needed revenue from the vendor area, there was no way to keep the attractions funded. The management would have to find another way to keep them open, but that would mean summoning every ounce of their ingenuity while there was still time, and time was running out.

Back at Binghi’s Market, the vendors were considering moving to Sunshine Flea Market but Binghi held firm to his gut and refused to let the vendors leave, instead telling them to hang tight for the time being. There had been too few customers throughout the day and word of Sunshine Flea Market attracting huge crowds infuriated the vendors. Once again the name-calling resumed, with Binghi finding himself the target of an endless barrage of insults. Yet, his only response was, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

To be continued…

My top 5 ordeals.

As I recover at the hospital from my latest ordeal, I’ve been keeping my mind busy by ranking my previous ordeals at work, and it turns out I’ve been through quite a few of them. Little wonder that I’ve earned the nickname “The Ordeal Kid”, and its tone tends to be more biting sarcasm rather than affection. Here then is my top 5 ordeals I’ve endured at my job at the home improvement store.

5. The Carpet Ordeal. I was playing with the machine in the flooring department that unwinds those large rolls of carpet into smaller rolls when somehow my foot got caught in the machinery and I was wrapped up in one of the smaller carpet rolls. I was rescued 4 days later.

4. The Toilet Ordeal. I was curious if it’s really possible to flush myself down the toilet, so I stuck my foot into the bowl and it got stuck. I was rescued from the men’s room the following morning.

3. The Ceiling Fan Ordeal. One of the giant ceiling fans in the store mysteriously began spinning in the opposite direction at full speed, which literally sucked me off the floor and into the fan itself where I clung on to one of the blades for dear life. I was rescued a few hours later once the management figured out how to cut off power to the store. I still haven’t told them I was tinkering with a knob on the wall, and no, it wasn’t labeled.

2. The Hardware Ordeal. I got stuck in the small space behind the shelves while trying to retrieve a small screw I accidentally dropped. I was finally rescued a week later when management was investigating a strange smell coming from the hardware aisle after I farted.

1. The Electrical Room Ordeal. I wandered into the electrical room that has the scary sign on the door that reads “Danger, high voltage. Unauthorized personnel keep out”. The door locked itself behind me and I was trapped inside for 3 weeks. The management was NOT impressed.

Of course, none of this tops my latest ordeal in which I went to the cleaning supply room to check out the ladder that went to the roof. The hatch to the roof was open so I ventured out onto the roof and wandered about for about an hour before deciding to head back. Only I couldn’t get back in the store as someone had closed and locked the hatch. I was finally rescued after a month after police came to investigate “a strange man on the roof”.

I will spend a few more days in the hospital before I go back to work. I hear that they’re hanging a sign in my honor in the break room counting the days since my last ordeal. The scary part is that it’ll only be a matter of time before I’m stuck again. Who knows where, but it’ll definitely happen again. And again. And again.

Binghi’s Market vs. Sunshine Flea Market.

For over 30 years, Binghi’s Market has been an ideal shopping destination in Dadeland, Florida. It has 140,000 square feet of shopping with well over 500 vendors, an award-winning food court serving cuisine from all over the world, complete with a stage for live music and of course daily magic shows from magician Stutz Slinghi. The market has adhered to founder Khatoosh Binghi’s vision of a flea market where quality goods from local vendors are sold at discount prices, and this vision has helped his flea market become one of the largest in the southeastern United States.

However, a new threat has arisen just down the street on Palm Tree Boulevard that could very well become Binghi’s Market’s fiercest competitor. Sunshine Flea Market is set to open next month and when it does, could very well usurp in a matter of days what Binghi spent years building.

Sunshine Flea Market claims to be the world’s largest flea market with a massive building occupying two square miles that will house some 5,000 vendors. Its food court also claims to be the world’s largest, with every single fast food chain setting up a presence there, including numerous deadly rivals sworn to each other’s destruction. But the opportunity to serve potentially thousands and thousands of customers each day has the restaurants willing to establish a truce, albeit an uneasy one.

Additionally, Sunshine Flea Market plans to offer some free attractions, including a large 50-screen movie theater, a 2-ring circus with trained animals, acrobats and clowns, a full-scale amusement park featuring two roller coasters, a haunted house ride and a carnival with plenty of games giving away oversized stuff toys as prizes.

Indeed, the hype surrounding Sunshine Flea Market has reached dizzying levels as pressure mounts on Binghi to build the same attractions to counter those of his competitor’s. But he says he cannot afford to build them, so he plans to stick with his instincts to keep things the way they are. He has tried assuring customers and vendors alike that he really doesn’t need to do anything to rise to the competition. As for the size of his competitor, he simply says, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

What will happen once Sunshine Flea Market opens? Will Binghi’s Market be forced out of business? How will this play out? Are there too many questions in this paragraph?

To be continued…

Incident at the Malugg Motel.

Following is my summary of the horrific events that unfolded last night during my stay at the Malugg Motel in the slummy dump of a town called Malugg.

I admit I was attracted to the surprisingly cheap rate of $20 per night but when I walked in my room that’s when I knew I had been suckered. There were no sheets on the bed, the mattress badly sagging down the middle and something disgusting seeping from under the bed. There was no bathroom but there was a back door leading to the bushes outside. Instead of a TV there was an AM radio missing both of its knobs, and the entire room was illuminated by a single light bulb dangling perilously from the ceiling by a badly frayed wire appearing ready to break at any minute. Immediately I regretted my decision to stay here but I was exhausted from a long day of driving and needed to rest. But the worst was yet to come.

Hours later, while I was still trying to sleep on the very uncomfortable mattress, a beer keg suddenly came crashing through the window and landed near my bed. I immediately got up and looked around outside my room but saw no one around. Immediately I went to the front desk and woke up the clerk who was sleeping behind the desk. When he surveyed my room he berated me for not “wheeling the keg through the doorway”. When I told him the keg came flying through the window, he laughed and told me I would get charged for the broken window and whatever damage it caused in the room. The motel has a bizarre policy that holds the guest liable for damage from flying beer kegs. And before the clerk left, he decided to charge me for the disgusting thing seeping from under the bed. This is an outrage and a blatant disregard for our precious right for a good night’s sleep.

After the unpleasant exchange with the clerk, I simply waited an hour before sneaking out of the room to my trusty car where I drove off into the night, forever grateful that I paid for my room using cash and a false alias. I knew that trick would come in handy some day.