Friday, February 3, 2023

Heller and Shannon: Family

Heller started lining up resources for the root-cellar project. The Bockbecks had agreed to pay on a time-and-materials basis. Heller was to keep a running tab and they had the option of pulling the plug if they thought he was being extravagant.

Heller knew that he was going to have to figure out how to build the root-cellar in small bites given his work schedule. That required a bit more flexibility than some folks were willing to provide.

So, the first step was to tap family and see how much help they were able, and willing to provide. He started with excavating because that was the first task that needed to happen.

He looked through his contacts and found the number for his cousin Clayton.

“Hey Clayton, Heller here. How ya doin’?” he asked.

“Not bad, not bad!” Clayton responded.

“You and Uncle Ed getting along OK?” Heller wanted to know.

“Yeah, we butted heads a little bit at the beginning but we worked it out. It helped when Krystal reminded me that we were guests in their house” Clayton admitted.

“How’s the baby?” Heller asked. Digging around in his memory he added “Madison”

“Growing like a weed” Clayton said.

“So what’s up?” Clayton asked.

Both men were at times in their lives where it was passing by at a million miles an hour. Outside of opening day of deer season, the family reunion and a couple of bonfires in the summer, they only bumped into each other by accident. The prolonged introduction and catching up was Heller’s way of tipping off Clayton that he was going to be asking for a favor.

“Do you still have that skid-steer?” Heller asked. “I gotta side project where I gotta move some dirt.”

“Hmmm” Clayton temporized. “I kinda have it out on loan right now. Uncle Ed and the neighbors are using it to snake logs outa swamps to put up firewood.”

“When would you need it?” Clayton asked.

“Soon” Heller admitted.

“How big of a job?” Clayton asked. “Maybe we can work it in.”

The two men thrashed out the details. Based on Heller’s long work hours and commute, Clayton agreed that it would work best if he did the grading. Heller could pull the trailer with his truck and provide the diesel for the skid-steer.

Clayton agreed as long as he and Krystal got to meet Shannon. Apparently, Heller’s sister, Suzanna was quite taken with her. Suzanna and Shannon’s friend who worked in IT, Garth, had gone dancing and she was smitten. Shannon and Heller were not posting to Spacebook but Suzanna was blowing it up. Everybody had heard about the relationship, and Shannon’s part in it, but hardly anybody had met Shannon.

That was agreeable to Heller. Clayton was a first-rate hand with the skid-steer, and while it might not have been the tool-of-choice for the kind of excavation Heller needed done, it would work. It would just take a little bit longer.


“Anita” had four connection requests when Shannon popped open the account at the library the next day.

Shannon double-checked to make sure they were somehow linked to previous connections, and they were. She approved all four connections.

The account pinged within five minutes. One of the new connections had a question. “Why did you pick Michigan instead of California, New York or Illinois for your internship?”

“Anita” replied

The short answer is that my father will not pay for an internship in a big city.

My father is very protective and he has contacts that inform him that there are far more attacks on Asian women in big cities than the media reports.

My father is a devout Muslim and he is concerned that I will be exposed to too many corrupting influences in the big cities. While he has two cousins in Chicago, he does not want ME to be in Chicago.

The compromise he worked out is that Michigan is close enough to Chicago that I can report to my father’s cousins and they can keep track of my activities. I also agreed to stay away from Detroit but I can go to Canada.

He doesn’t need to know that a creative girl can find fun anywhere. Right? 8-)


  1. Clayton & Krystal are BACK ! ! !

  2. I see what you did there ERJ! Nicely done sir!

  3. Not to be picky, you've got a couple missing letters that bug me.
    - greed instead of agreed
    - skid steer IS the right tool for the job should be ISN'T

    1. Hey, thanks for the feedback. I made the changes.

      If you see anything that distracts from enjoying the story, don't hesitate to put it in comments. Maybe if I got paid for writing this stuff I could afford to have an ego.

    2. Still says “greed”

    3. OK. I had to fire the house-elf.

      Good help is hard to find.

  4. I guess we will find out eventually, but I'm lost as to who Shannon is trying to nail to the wall... Arranging consequences for Ce'Diff's malice doesn't seem related to statutory rape...

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  6. Joe, I have advice for Shannon. Posing as a non-native English speaker, she needs to write shorter sentences with less correct-but-idiomatic grammar and vocabulary than, for example, "The compromise he worked out is that ..." and "The short answer is that ..." A few grammatical errors and clumsy expressions would also help to maintain the persona.


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