Friday, September 6, 2013

Fashion is a Two-Faced Bitch: Clothes Medium


I'm Chicken.  I like to think of myself as a typical Rhode Island Chicken.  But I have a very special gift.  I talk to your clothes. No matter where I go, clothes call out to me,  and I am compelled to help them.  This is not my job.  This is not even my life. This is my blog post.

Episode 1: Scene 1 

As a Chicken, I love shopping!  Today I'm at the Garden City Center with BigB. We're shopping for yoga clothes, but first we have to stop at Starbucks because I can hear a caramel soy sugar free extra extra macchiato calling my name.  I also hear food products sometimes.   I didn't mention that before.  

Delicious Latin American Voice:  1, 2,  cha cha cha, 1, 2 cha cha cha, ooohhh want to dance, dance, take me dancing, cha cha cha, let's dance cha cha cha, don't be an oaf, cha cha cha, oh why did you buy me if you weren't going to cha cha cha

Me:  Big B. Do you hear latin music?

BigB:  No I don't.  Can we go home?

Me:  I hear tango music.  I think it is coming from that guy's pants over there.  See him?  Wow,  he's...kinda big....and scary looking... but I have to help these pants.  I'll be right back.  Don't forget the whipped cream on my macchiato!

BigB:  Shit, not again.  We can't go anywhere anymore.

Me:  Excuse me, Sir?  Sir, hi.  What's your name?

Chuck:  I'm Chuck.  Why?  Whaddaya want?  I'm not buyin'

Me:  Hi Chuck.   I'm Chicken!  I'm a Clothes Medium?  I can hear the thoughts of your clothes?  Chuck do you like to dance?

Chuck:  Whaddahya, a joker or something?  Ya flirtin' with me?   Sorry, Chicklet, I don't dance!

Chuck's Pants:  See?  See what I deal with? He never takes me out, never takes me dancing.  He sits at home with the potato chips and the porn.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't mind the porn.  But I was made to dance.

Me:  Chuck, did you like to dance as a little boy?  Did you...Chuck, did you take ballet?

Chuck:  How did you know that?  You been talkin' to my sister?  I'll kill her.  I. Will. Kill. Her. This is a joke, isn't it.  Kimberly?  Kimberly, get the BLEEEP out here.

Chuck's Pants:  Ohhhhhhhh!  Oooooh you touched a nerve.  Good!

Me:  Chuck, please know that this is your pant's way of stepping forward and validating your love of dance. Take a Salsa lesson already,  you big goof ball

Chuck to  BigB:  Hey you, over there, ya you.  This your wife?  You gonna get this crazy broad  outta here or we gonna take it outside?  Your choice.

BigB:  Sigh.  We're gonna take it outside, Chuck.  Nobody calls Chicken crazy except me!  (Scuffle,  xo#$%) punch, SLAM, Bang)

Me:  Mmmm.  God, I love Starbucks.

Two Hours Later with the film crew at Billy's Frosted Mug:  

Chuck:  Yeah, I gotta admit, I danced when I was a kid.  My mom signed me up. Secretly, I loved it, but guys in the neighbahood made fun of me, ya know, so I quit.  Been completely heterosexual all American ever since. That Chicken, give her credit, she tapped inta something. When I bought those pants, I was thinking they might be great for a night out,  ya know, but I don't really go nowhere but Billy's, here, so..not much dancing, ya know? I might havta check out Arthur Murray or somethin'.

Chuck's Pants:  Yes!  Thank you, Chicken!

BigB: Hey, Chuck, it's your round.

Episode 1 Scene 2:

Chicken:  I have a private reading today with Michele at her home in East Greenwich. Michele just moved into her home and has been experiencing loud voices, unsettling feelings, overwhelming discomfort, and a sense of suffocation.  She feels her house might be haunted.  I think Michele might have me confused with a different kind of medium. Let's see what happens. 

Chicken:   Hi Michele, I'm Chicken!  What a beautiful home you ha....

Dark Entity:   Arrrrrgggghhhhh Arrgggghhhhhhhh Geeetttt OUT!  No. I mean Get ME out.  Get me outta here or I will kill this BLEEP BLEEEP, I will. Let me loose.  I'm in helll.

Michele:  Hi Chicken.  So, what I've been experiencing here has made me really uncomfortable

Dark Entity:   Mwwaaahhhhhhh, BLEEEPPP....You're uncomfortable?  You're Uncomfortable???  Give me a break. Chicken person, help me out here.  I am begging you.

Chicken:  So Michele, you've been feeling this...aggression... since you moved in?

Michele:  Oh, before that.  I think it started a few weeks before that. The day after we put in the purchase offer, in fact.  I remember because we went out shopping to celebrate our new house, and after that, I just kept getting this uncomfortable feeling.   It's tied to this house, I know it is.

Chicken:  Oh you like shopping? I like shopping too!  Wait a second, I have to sage this place, whooo, I love the smell of sage, don't you?  So tell me, where did you go?  What did you buy?

Dark Entity:  Me! She bought ME...a size too small! Are you gonna help me or are we gonna burn sage leaves all night?  Focus, Chicken!

Michele:  Oh, the usual, you know  Macy's, Chico's, Victoria's Secret,  DSW...

Dark Entity:  Arrrrgggghhhh Worst BLEEEEEEPPP day of my life....

Chicken:  Did you buy a bra that day?   Black lace?

Michele:  Oh my God, I did.  I did buy a bra like that!!!

Chicken:  Oh,  look, see how I just wrote down Bra right here? Please know that this is your Bra's way of validating the connection.  Your bra is telling me, "Chicken , I can't breathe. She's got my straps pulled up to her ears.  And her implants are suffocating me!  That's what I am hearing.  Does this make sense to you?"

Michele:  Oh my God, it totally does!  My shoulders hurt.  I've been in such pain.  I thought it was the stress of the voices.

Dark Entity:  And here we go again, it's all about you, isn't it Princess? Are ya kiddin' me??? 

Michele:  But I look so hot, I've been ignoring it.  

Dark Entity:  Well, we do look hot.  Have to give us that.

Chicken:  Michele, did you also buy a pair of of shoes that day?  I'm  Black  pumps, slingbacks?  

Michele:  Oh my God (starts to cry).  I did. You're amzaing, Chicken.  I bought a beautiful pair of black sling backs and our new puppy ate one last week.  I miss them so much.

Chicken:  Your bra is bringing forth the shoes, now.  Your shoes want you to know they are fine and they would have given you plantar fasciitis eventually, anyway.  Please take what has been given to you today as a gift and allow your soles to heel.  This is your Bra's way of saying that, while you do look super hot, it might be time to loosen your straps a little and relax.  Maybe even get a back up bra with a generous cup and nice wide shoulder straps for extra support.  Give your girls and your bra a rest, you know?  You've had a beautiful reading today and your bra wants you to know it will  watch over your breasts and keep them supported and safe.  When you hear the song, 'Wind Beneath Your Wings', please know that this is your bra's way of validating its connection to your breasts.  

Later at Michele's House:

Michele:  I can't believe how quickly Chicken tuned into my discomfort.  I took off my bra as soon as she left, and I haven't felt anything but peace, and love, and just this general feeling of well-being ever since.  I think that sage thing she did really worked!

Dark Entity:  

Dark Entity?

Apparently Dark Entity has left the building.

Even Later at Billy's  Frosted Mug:

BigB and Chuck:  Yo, Dark Entity it's your round!!!

Episode 1 Scene 3:

Teenager Who Lives in the Basement (TWLITB) just got his permit.  Today, we are getting in some driving practice!  I' m so nervous!  Look at me.  I'm shakin' over here!

Me:  TWLITB, I'm trusting you with my life here, and I take my life very seriously.  I have important work to do.  So don't kill me.

TWLITB:  Chicken, relax, it's all good

TWLITB's pants:  hhhhhheeeelpppp meeeee.  I'm gonna diiieeeee.  h-h-h-h-elllpppp.  

Me:  TWLITB, your pants are very scared right now.  Have you talked to them about driving with you? What to expect?  How it's going to go down?

TWLITB:  What?  What are you talking about?  No, I don't talk to my pants.  It's bad enough YOU talk to my pants.  I prefer not to think of my pants as animate objects.

TWlITB's pants:  Screw you, TWLITB.  The only reason I'm inanimate is because you never wash me.  I'm so tired.  I don't think I can go on.

Me:  When's the last time you washed your pants?

TWLITB:  What do you mean, washed them?  Why would I wash them?  I just got them like a month ago.

Me:  Seriously, that's abuse. No wonder your pants are suicidal.  

TWLITB:  My pants are not suicidal.  Stop it.

Me:  They are.   I"m sorry, we can't drive today. I'm not going anywhere with suicidal pants.  

TWLITB:  Seriously?

Me:  Note to self:  Must call AAA about driving lessons.

TWLITB's pants:  So that's it then?  You're not going to make him change? You are just going to let me languish here?

Me:  I'll pray for you, pants.  

Later at Billy's Frosted Mug:

Chuck, Big B, Dark Entity:  Hey.  TWLITB.  It's your round.

TWLITB:  I'm not 21

Dark Entity:  Are your pants 21? Come to Mama, pants

Much cackling ensues.  

Tune in next week when Chicken talks to the shoes of a runway model in Milan

Chicken out

Chuck's Pants.  The fantasy.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Which Came First, God or the Black Hole?

Hi World,

Littleb and I were in the car on our way to pick up Apple, my five-month old granddaughter. (Her name is not Apple. That's a nickname. I feel like I have to mention this thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow.). The conversation was all about babies.  After we exhausted the subject of what babies like to do, who owns all the  babies we know, how babies learn to talk, and about 3 million other details specific to babies, the talk segued into this conversation:

littleb:  Well,  everyone is a baby at first.

littleb:  Except God.  God is the only person  who was never a baby, right?

Chicken:  I guess so

littleb:  I can't figure out where he came from.

Chicken:  Nobody can.  Or at least nobody agrees.

littleb:  Well, maybe scientists, right?

Chicken:  Ummm.  Not sure about that kiddo.  Do you think so?

littleb:  Of course, scientists would know.

Chicken:  Maybe.  Hey, maybe God came from a black hole...

littleb:  No (laughs)

Chicken:  Why not?   He could have come from a black hole.

littleb:  Silly. Black  holes aren't even real!  (laughs)

Where did I go wrong?

Chicken out
Photo of a black hole.  Not full  dilated.  Note to self:  Show littleb

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weird Science: Robo Bee

Hi World,

You've probably heard about the honeybee situation, by now.  If I've heard of it, in the sheltered little community of my psyche,  where I co-exist peacefully among my imaginary friends,  venturing out only when required to cook, nurture  or earn, then I can't imagine how you would have escaped hearing about it.

And you may have even read these words allegedly spoken by Albert Einstein:

If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.

I say "allegedly" because it seems to me that anytime some person on the internet wants you to buy into their opinion, that opinion will, 56% of the time, have some tie-in to something Einstein once said. The rationale is, if Albert said it, not only is it true, but it is far more complex and  misunderstood than you are capable of digesting because Albert was a genius and clearly you are not.  The quote will be followed by some sort of testimony that goes something like this.  "My ________ _______ ________ ____________ _____ back in __________ and so you should listen to me and buy my ____________."

You can fill in the blanks however you want.  Here are a few examples:
  • My Mother's grandfather's brother worked on his team back  in 1916 when  he developed the theory of relativity, and  these new magnets, developed by me using my grandfather's brother's notes, demonstrate many of those findings.  I will sell you some.
  • My Aunt's parents were his neighbors in Great Neck in 1950, and they often played Canasta together.  This is the deck  of cards they played with, and I will sell it to you for 90 million USD.
  • My Grandfather attended his funeral in 1955 and the Rabbi said that the last thing Einstein said is "This is the best spaghetti sauce from a jar I have ever tasted".  If it was good enough for Einstein, surely it is good enough for you? 

It's fun, right?  It would make a great game for nights when the electricity goes out.

I'm not saying that Einstein didn't say anything about honeybees, but I will reference the game of Telephone. You probably played Telephone in grade school.  You whisper something in someone's ear, and  they whisper it in someone's ear, and  so on, and at the end of the line of 10 people or so, you find out that what was originally said, and what was allegedly  said, are two different things.  And then you all have a good  laugh about it.  "Ha ha, I never said let's build an atomic bomb, what I said is let's make popcorn and watch Wizard of Oz again."  Something like that.

Maybe what he actually said was, "If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth,  man would still have another 400 years left to live".  And somehow, through thousands of translations over time, we end up with only four years.  Or maybe, what he originally said was, "If I get my hands on that bee,  I'm  going to smack it off the face of the earth, because I have four years worth of research to study, and I can't get through a single page with that incessant buzzing."  How do we know it wasn't something like that?

Also, assuming he did say that exact thing, word for word, how did he arrive at 4 years?  I think all  Einstein quotes should be required to show their work, because even Einstein probably had bad days when he got sick of people asking him things, and just said whatever came into his head.  If I were a genius like Einstein, I would make up things all the time.  I would make up some  real whoppers. Actually, I do make up stuff all the time, but I'm not a genius so nobody really takes me seriously.  That's a real blessing.

Wow, I am so off topic here,  it's  kind of spectacular.  It's like the Cirque du Soleil of blog posts.  Or the Siegfried and Roy of blog posts.  I could, potentially, get eaten by a lion at the end of this post.  Einstein once allegedly said something about that, according to my Grandmother's hairdresser.

Back to the honeybees, I think we can all agree that if the honeybees were to die off, we would be in a pickle.  Or perhaps not. Because.

*******THE POINT OF THE POST******brought to you by SueBee Honey... (NOT TRUE).

Scientists are now working on a robotic bee that, once developed, will be produced in swarms in order to ensure that pollination continues to take place. The bees would be the size of an insect, would fly and navigate under their own power, would  adapt to changing circumstances, and would  also work together as a group.   And once these bees are developed, you and I will no longer be needed, so we will be required to have a crystal inserted in our arm, and when the crystal turns black, we'll need to report to the nearest government extermination center.  Oh,  wait, that's Logan's Run.   Never mind.  Okay, back to the bees.

These artificial bee swarms should be ready to go in the next 10 years, give or take. I can't wait to see what the real bees make of them.  Wouldn't it be ironic if the robobees felt threatened by the real bees and attacked them and wiped them out?  There's a plot Hollywood should get a head start on.

And  that makes me think...why robobees?  Aren't there other ways to go about this?  For instance,  maybe we could raise  more bees, or perhaps stop killing off the ones we have.  Or, maybe we could grow some new bees using that 3D printing technology that I talked about a couple of weeks ago (Meat Cubes?).  I read last week that they are using that same technology to potentially grow replacement organs.  If they can grow a liver or a cube of bacon, why  can't they grow a honeybee?

In closing, if we can't raise more honeybees, or grow some honeybees,  or successfully build robobee swarms, maybe we could take some of the honeybees we have, and  rebuild them.

Surely, we have  the technology?
We have the capability to make the world's first bionic insect.
The honeybee will be that insect.
Better than it was before.
Better, stronger, faster.

Science is stranger than Science Fiction.

Chicken out

If you are interested in reading the actual article that I skimmed, you can find it in
the March 2013 issue of  Scientific American, along with this picture, which I also borrowed because I like pretty things.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bad Salsa and Vampires

Hi World,

Please listen closely.  This  is important.  If I should die tonight for no apparent reason,  I need  you to do me a favor.  Please write to the medical examiner's office in Rhode Island and let them know that I ate Salsa past the expiration date.  The evidence is still in my fridge.

What can I say, I've always been a rebel.  Assuming that, by rebel, we are talking about a person brave enough to eat tomato and vinegar products past the expired date, and not a person likely to, say, run a red  light in broad daylight, jump out of a plane, talk back  to cops, or express exactly what they are thinking at any given point in time. I used to be the latter form of rebel (rebela youtha stupidicous) but have become the former version through a natural process called growing a brain.  Or aging. Whichever.

Anyway, it's late. My family has gone to bed, and I could potentially soon die for my gastronomic escapades without anyone knowing why, because I just cleaned up the evidence.  Note to self:  If you are going to be a culinary rebel, leave the evidence. If I do die, the authority might start looking at my husband as a "Person of Interest", because most people my age do not just die in their sleep.  There's usually foul play involved, and it is a known fact that I annoy the hell out of BigB a lot of the time. BigB has little tolerance for fairy sightings, meandering thought process and made-up theories. He lacks the gene for imagination, but that is not his fault, any more than it is my fault I can't add three single-digit numbers in my head.  I'd hate for BigB to spend his retirement fighting off men in prison, who have bought him for 10 cigarettes, when his only crime was marrying me. Well, that didn't come out quite right, now, did it?  Luckiest day of his life, more like!

Plus, if BigB is sent to the Big House, littleb would then have to be raised by Teenager Who Lives in the Basement (TWLITB), if only because he's not tame enough to be raised by  wolves. I'm not sure which son I would  feel more sorry for in this arrangement.  On the one hand, TWLITB might gain a stronger sense of responsibility, but he would probably be chatty chattered to death within 2 months. And littleb might turn out to be an Olympic medalist in the 100K, but that's only if he survives being TWLITB's snack mule for the next few years.

Oh my God. It's just occurred to me that I've provided BigB with the perfect opportunity to do away with me.  I eat my salsa, I go to sleep, BigB suffocates me with his pillow because he's had it with me coming to bed without brushing my teeth, and then you guys all start writing to the medical examiner yelling, "CHECK THE SALSA, CHECK THE SALSA, IT WAS EXPIRED!"  So then the medical examiner rules my murder as death by accidental salsa poisoning, and my littleb grows up to be a vampire.


Oh yeah, that could happen.

So, let's say I'm gone.  Passed over.  Crossed the road.  You get the idea.  And here is BigB sitting pretty with my  millions in life insurance, and this adorable little kid.  Well, the first thing crossing BigB's mind, of course, is, "I've got to find me a new wife because if I have to play one more game of Monopoly with this 40 pound dictator,  I may have to turn myself in, and start selling hand jobs for cigarettes."  So BigB will dress littleb in a cute medly of mismatched clothes that looks so awful, it looks totally fresh, and then he will drive to the destination that he hates above all others; Anthropologie.  He'll troll the displays with a bit of a sad look on his face, as he exclaims, in a louder than conversational voice, "Oh look, littleb, Mommy would have liked that, wouldn't she?  Too bad she's dead."  And he'll make no attempt to keep littleb from examining every breakable, rippable, ruinable item in the store.  At some point, some young, gamine woman is going to be drawn into his web of deceit, if only because she works there and is obligated to protect the inventory, and BigB will offer to buy her an $87 yogurt sundae at Pinkberry.  He won't even notice when she doesn't eat it (because she only feeds on living things).  They will get married, and she'll be littleb's new Mommy.  His Vampire Mommy.

So, now that I've talked it through with you, internet friends, if I should disappear tonight, please write the medical examiner and say, "BAD SALSA IS JUST A PLOY.  BIGB DID IT AND NOW LITTLEB IS GOING TO BE A VAMPIRE IF YOU DON'T DO SOMETHING QUICK."

And also, BigB,  if you are reading this right now, just to clarify, there are no Life Insurance millions.  I totally made that up.  How stupid do you think I am?

Chicken out

This is not littleb.  This is the kid vampire from  Salem's Lot. He is much creepier than I remember.
If littleb shows up outside your window looking like this, DON'T OPEN YOUR WINDOW.
Wait.  What am I saying?  My baby has to eat, too,  just like everybody else.  Don't be a dick.  Open your window and share some blood.  You've got, what , 10 pints of it?  You can spare a cup for my littleb.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Writing Practice

"Hi, Brenn?"

"Yes, this is Brenn."

"Hi, Dear, it's Ann over at Lincoln El?  Just checking in on Janie. Is she sick today?"

"What? She's not in school?"

"No, she never arrived. Lynn Johnson was by-she said Janie never showed at her place, either.  You might have a message from her. She said she left one.  You were  expecting her to be in school, then?"

"Yes.  Let me call you back. Something must have happened.  Please call me if she comes in late?"

"I will.  Let us know what you find out."

"Thanks, Ann, good-bye".

Brenn hung up her end and hit the auto dial for Bryce's cell phone.  One of them  must be sick, but it didn't make sense that he hadn't called,  unless his phone had died.

The phone rang and rang, then went to voice mail.  "Bryce?  It's Mom? Are you o.k?  Is Janie alright?  Call me."

Bryce stared at his phone.  He didn't want his mom to worry, but he couldn't pick up the call. He had no idea what to say, first of all.  "Hi Mom, Gran stopped by and told us not to go to school today." wasn't going to fly.  He'd have to lie.  She thought Janie's issues were because of Dad dying. They all went to a therapist once a week to talk about how they were if saying, "My Dad died and I'm sad.", using different adjectives every week would make things better.  Whatever.  He knew his Mom was doing the best she could.  She  wouldn't give them permission to stay home if she knew the truth,  but he couldn't take Janie to school and leave her there alone.  Also, if Janie was right, then they needed to get Mom home.  A text was the obvious solution.

Brenn's phone beeped, signalling a new message.  Bryce.  Thank God.

"Hi Mom, Janie doesn't feel well.  I gave her 2 tsp of children's Tylenol and she's sleeping.  Can you come home?"

"Did you take her temp?  Is she throwing up?  I will be home as soon as I can.  XO  Mom."

Brenn called back Ann at Lincoln and left a message that Janie wouldn't be coming in after all, thanking her for the follow-up.  Then she called Lynn Johnson to let her know that all was well and to apologize. She'd have to speak to Bryce about communicating better when these things happened.  He was mature for his age, and so responsible that it was easy to forget sometimes that he was still a child.  After the calls were made, she reached for her purse and dug out her keys. She was headed out the office door when the lights went out.  Strange, she thought.  The weatherman had predicted a sunny day.  Was it storming out? A few seconds later the school generator kicked on.  She locked up, and walked down the corridor to the principal's office.  When she got there, she was surprised to find that no one was around.  She  was headed to the teacher's lounge to see if anyone was there when something on the front door security monitor caught her eye. The principal, his secretary, Joan, and the school's janitor, Mike, were all gathered at the door. The janitor seemed agitated about something happening outside. Brenn headed down to the first floor to see what all  the commotion was about.

"Hey guys,  what happened to the lights?  Everything ok?"

Pete, the principal, turned towards her. "Depends on how you define ok.  You ever see anything like this?" He gestured  towards the window. Outside, hundreds of insects could be seen in the playground area.  The ground was  covered with them. None seemed to be moving.

"It's the attack of the locusts", Mike joked.  "Must be all the rain from this summer, but that don't explain how they all got here so fast.  They weren't here an hour ago."

"Ewwww",  Brenn said.  "Global warming doing its thing,  I guess.  Can't say I'm sad to see a bunch of insects bite  the dust but what a mess!  Not to change the subject, but I have to leave.  Janie's sick.  Bryce is home  with her. I'll give you a call as soon as I have it all sorted out."

Pete's phone rang, and he answered, holding up one finger in the universal "wait a second" sign.  "Pete Bishop here..."

"Hi  Jenny...Yes, we have it here, too.....don't let anyone outside? What's going on?....Ok, I'll let everyone know.  Thanks for the call.. We'll wait to hear from you."

Pete tucked his phone back into the breast pocket of his suit jacket.   "That was the superintendent's office.  There have been some problems....the mayor wants everyone to stay put until they figure out what to do. The county has declared a state of emergency.  Brenn, can you call your kids and tell them to stay inside for now?  I'm sure it will be resolved in no time."

"What?" Brenn asked.  "What do you mean, 'problems'?"

"I mean that they've got guys in hasmat suits outside  testing the air because they aren't sure it's safe to breathe.  Stories are out on the AP that a number of areas are experiencing issues similar to ours. People are showing up at the hospital in droves with some kind of flu.  Until they've ruled out natural disaster or terrorism, they want everyone to stay inside.

"Oh my God. I can't  stay here. My  kids are home alone!  No offense, but the mayor can take a flying leap. I'm going home."

She made it about twenty feet from the door before she started to feel nauseous.  She clasped her hands over her ears, attempting to shut out the vibrations, and sank to her knees as her legs began to give out underneath her. Pete and Mike were suddenly by her side.  They each grabbed an arm and pulled her, stumbling, back into the building.

"Holy Fuck!" yelled Mike. "Sorry! Brenn, are you ok?"  Mike was leaning over at the waist, one  hand against the wall and the other on his knee.  "What the hell was that?"

Brenn was sitting on floor, leaning over with her head between her legs trying get control of the  nausea.  "I'll be ok, just give me a sec"

After a few minutes, Pete heaved himself up off the floor.

"Ok, then, it looks like we  have a situation here.  We  need to get the word out to all the classrooms, but without causing a panic.   We'll have to go door to door.  Anyone that needs to call home and check  on their families can use  their cells or call from the office. Brenn, after you get in touch with your kids, can you go to the teacher's lounge?  Mike, you go to gym.  All  kids and teachers should go back to their classrooms. Make sure all the windows in the school are closed.  Close the shades over the windows, for now.  Most importantly, nobody leaves.  Joan, the phone is probably going to start ringing off the hook shortly. The message should  be consistent.  The school has been secured, everyone is safe and inside,  parents should not come to the school to pick up their children until the all  clear has been given by the mayor's  office. Got it?"

"Got it,  Pete", said Joan. "You coming with me,  Brenn?"

"I'll be there in a minute.  I'm just going to give the kids a quick call."

"Bryce?   It's Mom.  How's Janie?  How are you?"

"We're  okay, Mom, Gra..."

"Listen, I can't come home right now, honey.  I'm at the Falls school.  The electricity is out, and something seems to have happened in the neighborhood.  We've been told to stay inside.  I'm  sure it's nothing serious. As soon  as I get the go ahead, I'll be home, okay?  Can you handle it until then?"

"Mom, it's okay, that's what I'm trying to tell  you. Grandpa's here."