The Three D’s

The Three D’s

Photo Prompt: Al Forbes (A Mixed Bag)

They called themselves The Three D’s. Alike in age (early 60’s) and occupation (mainframe programmers), the comrades worked for a large financial institution, performing menial maintenance tasks on the old legacy system.

On this Friday afternoon, they met at a local bar to commiserate over another week of irrelevancy.

“I’m tired of feeling useless, “Bob told his companions. “I should retire.”

Friend Steve piped in. “The boss insists I learn those new-fangled computer languages. As far as I am concerned, JAVA comes in a coffee cup and PYTHON is a snake.”

A few tables away sat the 12-years olds, a crack given their fellow co-workers due to their age and inexperience.

“Look at them,” said Ed. “They don’t even talk. I bet they are texting to each other.”

“What we need is another Y2K,” said Bob.

As if on cue, a breaking story flashed on the television screen above the bar. Another hack. Sensitive customer information stolen. The target: their beloved employer.

“According to the CEO, the antiquated mainframe system needs an extensive code fix to prevent future breaches,” said the reporter.

Triumphantly, Ed raised his glass in a toast. “Who said dinosaurs are extinct!”


The photo prompt suggested a different type of dinosaur. For the first 20-odd years of my career, I was a mainframe computer programmer. In early 2001, my company made a strategic shift from mainframes to relational database systems. We all knew it was coming and given fair warning: learn modern technology, or else. What ‘new technology’ meant was anyone’s guess, but I knew I needed to do something. I signed up for a JAVA programming course at the local college. This class-based, object-oriented language was nothing like my English-like business-oriented COBOL. But to a certain extent, it was fun and challenging.

Java Man
I call this JAVA man. The one remnant of my class I chose to keep.

Fortunately, the Universe took pity on me. During the class, I learned I had been selected to evaluate a commercial system my company was considering as a replacement of our antiquated mainframe system. This was a TOP SECRET assignment (REALLY), thrusting me into the world of Business Analysis. I never had to learn any of those new-fangled languages. Except SQL. I am pretty good at that, if I say so myself.

Mainframes have not disappeared into the night (as some predicted) and the dinosaurs of the COBOL era are still in high demand. And highly paid, I might add.

And yes, young developers are still called 12-year olds.




The Weekend

The Weekend

Photo Credit Jan Wayne Fields

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly challenge to write a complete story in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and Jan Wayne Fields for this week’s prompt. I was beginning to think I couldn’t come up with anything this week but then a  small spark of inspiration led to exchange below. 

“Remember that old TV show Fantasy Island?”

“The one with the little guy that yelled out ‘da plane, da plane when the guests arrived?”

“Yeah, that’s the one. I thought we could binge watch it this weekend.”

“Nah., I think I would rather watch Twin Peaks.”

“Is that the one about the homecoming queen being murdered in a small town? I’m down for that.”

“Are you calling in for pizza, or am I?”

“You call. I’ll set up the TV.”

“Extra-large supreme with extra cheese it is.”

After Party

After Party

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Al Forbes (A Mixed Bag) for providing this week’s challenging photo.

April 22 2018
Photo Credit: Al Forbes

I wake to the sound of dogs barking. An ambulance wails in the distance. With each beat of my heart, the pain in my head intensifies. If I could just throw up.


There was a party, I was with Charlie. I remember drinking wine. Was it one glass…two? A whole bottle?

I am not sure where I am, but it is not my bed. Too hard and cold. Ah, the bathroom floor.

I feel something sticky against my cheek.

I open my eyes. The light intensifies my nausea.

I swear on my mother’s grave I will never drink again.

I hear a muffled voice and I call out.


It’s not Charlie’s voice that answers.

“Tess, I’m officer Kendall. Can you hear me?”

I grunt. Why is there a cop at my house?’

“Tess, you’ve been shot. We are taking you to the hospital, but first, I have a few questions.”

A matter-of-fact voice announces, “Male victim, gunshot to the head.”

Charlie’s dead?

I start to remember.


Crying. Screaming.

A gun.

My finger on the trigger. One pull, then two.

Officer Kendall patiently asks, “What started the argument, Tess?”

It started with a glass of wine.


Prolific Storyteller – Louis L’Amour

Prolific Storyteller – Louis L’Amour

Daily Worth Photo Challenge Prolific
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

When I saw that this week’s Daily Post’s One-Word Challenge was PROLIFIC, I immediately thought of Louis L’Amour, one of America’s most prolific writers. During his life, L’Amour published more than 100 books and 400 short-stories, many that have made their way to the big screen. His popular westerns were fashioned from his experiences of being on the road during the hard-times of the 1930s. What makes L’Amour special for me (besides being my husband’s favorite author) is that he started his writing career in my town of Choctaw, Oklahoma.

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Everyone Loves J.D.

Everyone Loves J.D.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly challenge to write a complete story in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and Douglas M. MacIlroy for this week’s prompt.

April 18 2018
PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

Everyone in the small Texas town loved J.D. McCaskill.

J.D. was what you’d call a good-old boy. Whenever a neighbor needed a hand, J.D. was first to offer his. Once he loaned his brand-new truck to a stranger who needed to haul some hay. And if you ever crossed one of his friends; well, you’d better watch out.

J. D’s life was an open book. Married 30 years to wife Elaine, father of five fine boys. No surprises.

Yep, everyone loved J.D. Everyone except that 17-year old girl chained up in his cellar. She might have different story to tell.

The Boogeyman

The Boogeyman

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly challenge to write a complete story in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and Yarnspinner for this week’s prompt.

Yellow House
PHOTO PROMPT © Yarnspinnerr

I froze, eyes fixed on the ramshackle yellow house in front of me. Fifth-graders sniggered, calling us sissies, but fourth-graders knew the Boogeyman lived in that house. My eyes shifted downward, to the papers and books splattered on the sidewalk, dropped in my haste to race past the house. As I squatted to gather my belonging, I heard a car engine. Looking up, I saw the open garage door, brake lights flashing red as blood. Slowly, the car inched toward me.

I was never so glad to be in fourth grade. A third-grader would have peed herself.


This tale is based loosely on a an experience I had in elementary school. There was an old house that I passed on my way to-and-from school, and there was a mysterious rumor about the old man living there. One day, on my way home, I dropped my papers in front of his house (full disclosure; I was on the opposite side of the street and there were four lanes of traffic between him and me). When I saw his car backing out of the driveway,  I hastily picked up my belongings and rushed home. Dry as a whistle, I might add.

Star Witness

Star Witness

 Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Al Forbes (A Mixed Bag) for providing this week’s challenging photo.

April 15 2018
Photo Prompt: Al Forbes

Overweight white male. Mid-40’s. Balding …

“Looks like a heart attack. Happens with these guys. Out of shape when the mid-life crisis hits. They forget they aren’t 20 anymore.”

Detective Harris ignored his partner’s observation and studied the dead man sitting in the back of the gondola. His eyes told a different story. Wide-open and full of terror. This guy knew he was about to die.

“No visible wounds?” Harris asked.

“Nothing obvious,” his partner replied. “No blood. I tell you, it’s a heart attack. The guy….”

Harris cut him off. “Who was he sitting with?”

“Blond chick in a pink ski jacket. Said she barely noticed him,” his partner huffed.

“Any identification?”

“Lift ticket in his hand said his name was Franklin Matters.”

Harris recognized the name. Matters was a key witness in a Senate investigation and scheduled to testify next week. Star witnesses do not go on ski trips days before testifying. Not without security, that is. Harris peered out the gondola window and noticed the small group of detained passengers. No one in the group was wearing a pink parka.

“This was no heart attack.” Harris raced toward the door, shouting, “Find me that blond!”



CWW Photo Challenge – April 13, 2018

CWW Photo Challenge – April 13, 2018

CWW BadgeCee’s Which Way Challenge is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails, steps, signs, etc. we use to move from one place to another. There is no specific topic to this challenge. The only rule is the “way” visible and the focus of the photo.


Walkway from our cruise ship.CWW (2 of 1)

Bridge – Medicine Park, Oklahoma

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Wooden bridge over small creekCWW (1 of 1)

Pathway through Will Rogers Park, Oklahoma City





CB&W Photo Challenge – April 5, 2018

CB&W Photo Challenge – April 5, 2018

The theme for this week’s Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge is Cars, Trucks, and Motorcycles. These were taken at various car shows over the years.

A vintage VW microbus.

Vintage VW Microbus
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

This VW microbus was a sunny yellow and perfect for glamping

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

I don’t know how old this Impala is, but the interior of my car never looked this good

DSCF8850 (2)
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

This car reminds me of the Sunday drives my grandparents took me on when I was a child. Of course, it wasn’t in a car like this.

DSCF8857 (2)
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

My lone motorcycle for the week

DSCF6827 (3)
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding


Martha (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Martha (Sunday Photo Fiction)

Photo Credit: Alistair Forbes

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Al Forbes (A Mixed Bag) for providing this week’s challenging photo.

Jacob hesitated before pushing the SEND button on his cell phone.

Martha has arrived.

Three simple words, setting in motion events that would change destiny.

Jacob’s heart pounded in his chest as he waited for a reply. His years of work taught him many things, but patience was not one of them. Seconds later, the sound of a xylophone signaled a response. Along with a question.

The prophecies are true?

Jacob disavowed religious mumbo-jumbo, but his pious patron would never understand the complexities of DNA genomes and genetic re-engineering, let alone accept the concept of wormholes and time travel.

They are true, Jacob lied, then added,

Make sure your operative is in the right place.

Or this will not work, thought Jacob. He could not be certain that Martha would return to her last home, the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens. It seemed the logical destination.

His patron, sensing his doubts, sent a reassuring message.

The surveillance technology of the Western world will be defeated.

God will ensure our success.

Jacob walked to the small cage and peered inside. A small brown pigeon pecked at her food.

“Eat well, Martha. You deliver an important message today.”


The inspiration for my highly fanciful story is the real Martha, the last of the Passenger Pigeons. It was only after I wrote my story did I find out that a Carrier Pigeon and a Passenger Pigeon were not the same bird. Even though my story may be for the birds, the real story is fascinating, and I recommend you check it out.


Century After Extinction, Passenger Pigeons Remain Iconic—And Scientists Hope to Bring Them Back