Reintarnation (reprise)

“What in tarnation are you up to?” This question came up frequently when I was a child. For some reason, Mom felt the need to question my actions and scrutinize the purity of my motives. Ideas were sent hurtling across the vast expanse of my young mind at the speed of a sloth wading through molasses. So many in fact, that I had to plug my ears to keep them from spilling out onto my shoulders—especially when Mom used that dreaded word, “tarnation.” 

Flash forward fifty years.  ~  My wife revises Mom’s line of questioning to ask, “What in tarnation are you writing about now?” 

The repetition of this word brings me to the conclusion that there must be nation called Tar (located somewhere between my ears) responsible for the generation of brilliant ideas. Thoughts passing through this country more than once are subject to a process called reintarnation—a form of cerebral enlightenment.

If you are new to Friday Flash Fiction, the Queen of Cerebral Enlightenment is the fascinating Lady Victoria Wisoff-Fields.  To learn how to participate in this exercise of madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the FFF “Hollywood Squares” author seating chart click here.

copyright – Randy Mazie

As a kid, Billy spent a lot of time hanging out in the cemetery performing maintenance. Originally hired to keep down grass and control weeds, he found removing artificial flowers to be the most fulfilling part of the job.

Most of the time, Billy could be found lounging in the shade of a tombstone erected to the “Loving Memory” of Alfonso Spade.

Despite his billing, Spade, a reputed curmudgeon, was neither loved nor remembered. Visitors referred to him as an “old goat.”

Sensing a lack of family respect, Billy took it upon himself to water and fertilize the grave daily.

56 Comments on “Reintarnation (reprise)

  1. Dear Billy D, Gruff,

    I can imagine how Billy kept the grave fertilized. Keep pooping…I mean popping out those stories. Not sure I believe in reintarnation. 😉 Thanks for sharing your vacuous impressions of the past with us. Happy gnu year. Here’s to another 12 months of fun and frolic.


    Victoria W()F

    Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Lady Victoria W(missing T)F,

        The nation of Tar (between my ears) is a churning cauldron of new ideas sure to set your hair on fire over the next twelve months. Several have suggested building a wall (and having me pay for it) to keep this country from being overrun by immigrants from Tar. This calls for another government shutdown, I suppose.

        Happy Gnu Year to you & Jan,
        Billy D. Gruff

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Russell, I really enjoyed both of these. Nobody around here seems to take much notice of What in tarnation I’m writing about now? I don’t actually think my husband reads my blog anymore and my Dad has read one or two posts in six years. I have felt disappointed on occasions but then I find a strange freedom in the public private world and I definitely have two worlds…an online world and the so-called “real world” with some but little overlap. I do have to be proactive in being involved in my local community because that sort of practical every day support can only be done in person and ideally you’re putting in and taking out of the community pot.
    Best wishes,


    • I know what you mean, Rowena. None of my family or friends have shown any interests in my blog, or even my books for that matter. Like the Bible says, “A prophet is not recognized in his own home town.” (not that I’m a prophet 🙂 )
      I spent most of the summer mapping our local cemetery. At first, I thought it would be a rather boring task, but it turned out to be quite fascinating. The two oldest birth dates I found were a husband and wife who were born in the 1780s. His stone said Reverend, so I assume he was one of those traveling preachers who went by horseback. I documented 765 names and 248 graves that were just marked with a rock. This should be a help to those in the future who are traying to locate the grave of a long gone loved one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s great you could do that Russell. I am a voracious family historian and when you’ve bashing your head against a brick wall, these little details can lead to a breakthrough. I know I’ve really benefited from seemingly small details like this in the past.
        My best friend came up today and I was telling her about the divide between my real world family and friends and the online ones and how I can pour my heart out in my blog and yet no one physically close to me or my closest family reads any of it. It could actually pose serious problems for people going through tough times with people thinking they’re okay and they’re not and they’ve also reached out for help and connection.
        My 12 year old daughter said that she has similar with her online instagram followers and friends where people say things to people who are not part of their peer group on line and seek advice when they’re not ready to share in the real world. That could be quite helpful and hopefully moves them towards being able to share in the real world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Great observation, Rowena. A man at the company I used to work for committed suicide on December 27th. He was a highly-paid executive for many years, yet who knows what demons lurked in his mind that family and friends were unaware of. I don’t know if he had an online world or not where he spilled out his troubles, but if so, I’m sure it’s been discovered now (too late).


    • Wow, you really know your geography, Bjorn. Not many people know the capital of the Tar nation. There appear to be some weeds growing on Alfonso’s grave that resemble cannibis.


  3. Hmm, Billy “watered and fertilized” the grave? Mischevious young ‘un. I think we are from the same country, my mother asked the same thing often “what in tarnation are you up to?” I usually was up to no good though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think Billy was opposed to scientific undertakings. Once, he ate my physics homework. This is proof at last I wasn’t lying. Unfortunately, my homework was a miniature nuclear power plant. So my homework was gone, the goat was gone, my city was gone too. It was a lousy day all round. Loved this. I’m still grinning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear about your homework and resulting catastrophe. I bet you had a lot of homework mysteriously disappear (as did I). It’s a good thing we were both creative with our explanations of what happened to it–although my teachers weren’t often convinced.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Both these tales made me smile. A long time ago I took my lunch breaks in a cemetery. Quite peaceful after a morning of ringing phones and checking patients in and out and in and out…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • I spent a lot of hours this summer mapping our local cemetery. It was fascinating work and I didn’t get any backtalk or arguments from the residents. Quite peaceful indeed.


  6. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Two amusing tales for the price of one. In other words, they’re free so their’s so reason to complain. If you enjoyed these enlightening and amusing stories by Russell, you can find in the upper right of the blog two book covers you can click on to get more. To help Russell even farther, just reblog this post as I did. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And what a fitting tribute to the old curmudgeon! If you ever find the way to Tar Nation, do draw the rest of us a map, won’t you? Be interesting to see it after all these years of hearing about the place

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Once again, I know not which I prefer… the preamble or the story.
    However, under all that silliness, you managed to convey a loving message… so Happy Days!


  9. a close examination of the picture prompt shows a guy in the background. could it be billy resting after giving mr. spade’s grave some tender loving care? he should be commended for his services. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The best thing about your story is that it works with Billy Spade (or is it Spade Billy?) being a goat or a man (or something in between).
    Happy New Year!


  11. Even Alfonso must have possessed some good qualities. It’s good to see that Bill was willing to give him the satisfaction of some benefit of the understandable doubt.


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Mandie Hines Author

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