Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Generation Five — Chapter One: Wishing Wells and Faerie Tales …

     Joseph was barely out of school and just getting a feel for his chosen career. He was always one to tell a good joke or two, and found he really enjoyed making people laugh. This is what he discovered when his father told him to look inward and decide what line of work he wished to do for his lifetime. As time wore on, and his father passed away, Joseph realized he was now the Patriarch. Being such meant it was up to him to provide continuity and to keep the family name going. To do that also meant finding a wife and having, with luck, a son or two, one of whom would carry on the family name.
Finding the right woman — finding any woman, for that matter, was proving problematic. Joseph went to dance halls in an evening, Coffee shops during the mornings and just wasn’t finding a soul. He even took his late aunt up on an invitation to go to a bar on Singles’ Night. That proved an exercise in futility. The only ‘singles’ who showed up besides himself and the spectre of his aunt, were two elderly Sim females and a bunch of would-be male Sim suitors. All dead ends.
Joseph decided to write a few jokes about the ordeal, to see how a possible routine would be received. He knew he wasn’t unique in his quest. In fact, he decided to look at the Solar Flare Lounge, too, for a possible mate. Maybe someone who shared his passion for jokes. Again, only males and mean females showed up. Yeah, he was referencing that pretty redhead, but within a few short sentences of conversation with her on the sidewalk outside of the lounge, he realized he should back away — and do so quickly.  The Sim film, “Fatal Attraction” came to mind. His inner senses telling him, Run, Joseph, run! And he did.

 On Sunday, after a tiring weekend of seeking and not finding, he got up, ate, and headed to the park in town. He recalled his parents telling him how they had met, and his father, Marc, had cemented the relationship through the help of the Whispering Wishing Well, the town council had installed at this park. Joseph was skeptical, at first.  After all, his parents were already acquainted, having met at work. There was already an attraction going on between them, whereas Joseph was alone, unattached with absolutely zero prospects.
Cautiously he approached the well. There were very few people at the park at this fairly early hour on a Sunday. A couple of women were busy fishing at the small pond. He’d even tried to speak to one, strike up a conversation, but she just walked off. Was it him? Did he share his second great-grandfather’s pitiful luck when it came to the softer Sim? He was beginning to think so. Taking a deep breath, he gazed at the ceramic face on the top of the well, nodded, and then pitched a single Simoleon into the depths, hearing it plunk into the water after a few seconds.
“Oh, Whispering Wishing Well, I wish for romance!” He bid the well. Joseph really didn’t expect much to happen, despite the family tales of how it worked for them for various wishes fulfilled. His great-uncle Jaylen wished for money and was overwhelmed with the well’s generosity, giving a great deal back and keeping just enough to fund his brother, Ayden’s, wedding to Jade. As the word romance left his lips, an eerie mist arose from the bottom of the well, curling over the edges and coalescing next to him.   
Startled, “What th—” To his right, suddenly a woman stood where there was no one before. Dark skinned, her hair twisted into multiple colored dreadlocks of bright red, electric pink, and purple, she smiled at him as if she knew him. Their eyes met and Joseph knew that he loved her.
“I’m Jaylah,” she said.
“J-J-Joseph, ahem, Joseph Cantrell. And I think I love you.”
“Is it my eyes or is your skin a very light lavender?”
“Is it my eyes,” he smiled back, “or is your hair vibrant red and shocking pink, with a strand or two of purple? How did you get here?”
“I don’t know. I have been seeking my soulmate, so I made a wish at a well similar to this one, I think. And suddenly here I am. And here you are. And I don’t have to think I know I love you!”
Joseph’s smile was wide, as he took her hands in his, moving them away from the well. Down on his knee,  “Marry me?” 
Jaylah smiled back. “Of course. We’re meant to be. The Wishing Well has decreed it.”

Joseph suddenly felt something in his back pocket. Fishing it out, it was a ring. A solitaire diamond, no less. The Well thinks of everything. “Here,” he said, holding up the ring. She allowed him to slip it onto her hand. Neither of them found it the least bit odd the ring fit perfectly.
“Let’s get married,” Joseph said.
“I’ve just accepted your proposal, silly.”
“No, I mean, let’s say our vows right now. I don’t want this to end or be some strange dream. Let’s cement it right here and now.”
“Okay,” Jaylah said, unworried she was in a simple tee-shirt and short shorts with sandals on her feet.  In a heartbeat they were married and Joseph took his bride home. Following what had become a rather odd family tradition, the couple made woohoo in the closet downstairs. Slowly, Joseph introduced his bride to his family members. His brothers took it in stride.     
“Nice to meet you, Jaylah is it?” Josiah said with a grin.
“Hi, and you’re who?” Jameson said, shaking her hand. “Say, what kind of special treasures do keep?”
“What?” Jaylah said, looking perplexed.
“Don’t mind him, he asks that of everyone,” Josiah laughed. “I think he’s a bit of a collector and a tad awkward, if you know what I mean,” he said, sotto voce. 
“Hey,” Jameson complained. “I’m just curious.”
Karly dragged herself home that evening, tired, sad, miserable. The last thing she expected was to be introduced to her son’s bride, before he’d even let on he was seeing anyone.
“Married? Wh-at, when did this happen. Joseph. You didn’t even give me a chance to be the Mother of the Groom. How could you do this to me?”
Jaylah stood before her new mother-in-law, “I’m so sorry. It all happened so quickly. Neither of us wanted to hurt you or anybody. Forgive us, please. I promise I’ll be the best wife to him. You’ll see.”   
“Mom, please don’t carry on like this. I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I just was overwhelmed with how fast I fell in love with her. I just didn’t want her to be a mirage and fade away on me. So, I married her quick.”
“And just when did you two meet?” Karly said.
“This morning,” they said, in unison. The couple glanced at each other and smiled.
“You see how it is between us,” Joseph said to his mother’s frown. “We’re meant to be.”

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Generation Four — Chapter Eight: The World Upside Down

   Marc just wasn’t quite right. While he delivered two babies rather successfully; the first to a male Sim, who apparently decided it best to come in, still in denial he was about to be a father, and rather frightened of the whole thing. Marc smiled inwardly. Father and alien infant were just fine. A baby girl. The second delivery was a woman who already had been apprised of the need for a C-Section. Her doctor couldn’t be reached, since baby was a tad early, and so Marc got the privilege of bringing the child into the world. Another baby girl. These deliveries he handled well, whereas his ability to properly diagnose a patient suddenly became a problem for the Willow Creek Medical Clinic.

When it happened the first time, most of the clinic’s Review Board agreed, these things happen — even to the best of physicians. So, they set it aside for the time. The firm had always prided itself on the quality of care given, but even more so, that their patients didn’t have to wait too long to be seen. Marc seemed to treat fewer and fewer patients on any given day, and when he did, it was becoming more prevalent that a wrong diagnosis was made. Not only that but several had left not even waiting to be seen, the time lapse far too long between patients.
While many couldn’t believe it, they slowly were realizing his advanced years may have brought about senility. More and more he just flat out appeared confused.
From the beginning, as a young intern, Marc did his job well and thoroughly. He was always learning, and striving to be the very best physician he could be. For years, he gave it his all. He was greatly admired and quickly rose to the level of Specialist.
Then one day, after he’d finished delivering a baby, instead of moving immediately on to the next patient — which was really the patient he’d been examining when the pregnant Sim came into the clinic requiring immediate care, of course, Marc just stood in the OR.
“Doctor Cantrell,” the nurse said. “Can I get you something? Are you all right?”
Marc just continued to stare at nothing, then he shook his head and left the room. “Thank you, no. I have a patient to attend. That’s right, a patient.”
The nurse stared after him. Twice Dr. Cantrell went into exam room 3, then 6, then back to 3 where he finally ‘found’ the patient for whom he was looking.
At home, Joseph also noticed slight anomalies in his father’s routine. He made the mistake, one evening of meeting him out in front of the house on the parkway. He spoke in gentle tones. “Dad, were you looking for these?” he said, holding up the key ring.
“Why does everyone question my doings?” Marc erupted. “Did I remember to record his temperature. Did I wash my hands after visiting the loo. On and on, ad nauseam. What is wrong with everyone? I know how to do my job. And you, young Sim. I don’t care if you did find my keys in the fridge. So what.” 
    Joseph, who had just become a young adult and still feeling a tad unsure of himself, was taken aback. Marc was ferocious in his own defense. The young Sim backed off and went inside. Slowly, more slowly than normal Marc, too, made his way inside. The youth was waiting in the foyer for him. “Dad, please don’t misunderstand my concerns. It’s only that I think you’re working far too hard. You need some rest, some relaxation. You know, time to play.”  

     “Young Sim, I’m not a child anymore, and as such, I’ve put away childish things.”
“Well, then, how about if you go to the spa for some well deserved pampering. Then, maybe you’ll feel up to taking a nice swim in the natural pool up at the bluffs. Trust me, you’ll feel like a new Sim. I promise.”
“Well, perhaps you’re right. I have been working an awful lot, lately.”
“And maybe when you get back you and Mom and me can play some cards? Whadda ya say? Sound like a plan?”
“I say sounds like a good prescription, son. I’ll leave you and your mother to sort out dinner.”
With that Marc headed across town to the local spa. He enjoyed relaxing in the sauna. Then he went upstairs for a good massage. When he came back downstairs he had his hands and feet massaged as well. No sense in leaving them out. He worked with his hands every day and stood on his feet for endless hours, after all. By the time his pampering was complete, he did feel like a new Sim. Joseph was a smart lad. Marc couldn’t help but feel pride in his firstborn.
As he left the spa, he got a call from a friend, curiously inviting him to the bluffs. He wondered just how much maneuvering Joseph had done on his behalf. He was grateful the lad was looking out for him. Once he got to the bluffs he had to admit the water looked pretty nice. He climbed up the stone steps of the platform and deciding on a ‘swan dive’, took a plunge.
He only stayed a short time, enjoying the coolness of the water as he swam a lap or two. Remembering the lad also suggested an evening of cards, he dried off and went home. After a quick bite to eat, the three of them sat down in the corner of the formal living room to play cards. He lost, but in the end he felt great. 

     Next morning, he all but sprung out of bed, ready for another hard day’s work. Which was a good thing. The clinic was nearly full, first thing. He started in right away and was able to properly diagnose at least two patients, treating them successfully. Marc grabbed a quick bite to eat, and had barely finished what turned out to be a rather dry sandwich when his third patient, as it turned out, stumbled into the clinic and collapsed.  Racing into the front waiting room, he answered the emergency hail, properly and quickly diagnosing the unconscious woman. Triple Threat. The surgery went well, and he was congratulated by the Review Board and given a prompt promotion. He was now a Surgeon.    

The small break Joseph had suggested paid off well, carrying him into the next day of work, too. Again, he was performing at his peak efficiency, even making sure those in the waiting room were admitted into exam rooms that were open. Very few left the clinic that day due to a long wait. Not only that, but he also was on a roll. Three correct diagnoses. He stayed late, hoping to make it five. But, alas, the days were never quite long enough. He went home.
Marc got wind he was up for yet another promotion, his past few days of work going so very well. They were considering him for Chief of Staff, particularly for the way he handled the flow of incoming patients. If they had to wait, why not in the exam rooms where they at least knew they’d been seen. Marc made sure he logged the special medical updates from his home computer. 

       He rested on his day off.  Karly had a birthday, but preferred a quiet one. The twins had their birthday, but kept it low key. Just a sampling of frosting, blowing out candles and a birthday wish between them.  
Marc was anxious to get back to work after the day off. He really hoped to solve the medical problem he’d run into two days before. He was up unusually early, grabbed a bite to eat and was working on a macchiato for himself, when suddenly he felt weird. He grabbed his chest and slowly fell to the hardwood floor. In an instant it was over. 
Karly, almost intuitively, jumped out of bed and flew downstairs to the Butler’s Pantry. She found her husband on the floor, with Grimmie standing over him. Quickly, she thought to plead with the entity. Unfortunately, her cries fell on deaf ears. Marc was gone. The love of her life. Thankfully, her three sons were grown and she need not fear for her own well-being, but they could not fill the hole in her heart. The old Sim wept bitterly.   

And she knew it was time to hand the reigns over to Joseph.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Generation Four — Chapter Seven: A Long Way Home

The Cantrell family had not been back to Granite Falls since Sophia had died there in a horrible, grilling fire. So, when Marc suggested he’d made reservations for the weekend, they sighed, but packed their dufflebags and went. Both of his sisters had been invited, but only Megan came along. This troubled Marc, wondering what was up with Janeille? Getting out of their transport, they looked around for a campsite, only to end up in the campsite. Practically hallowed ground to this family. What was surprising was the charred earth near the grill on the site they had used that fateful vacation so many years ago, now.
“Man, you’d think by now the park rangers would have done something to clean this up. How can anybody even feel comfortable using this particular camping site?” Joseph nearly shuddered. “Dad, you’re not suggesting we stay here. On this spot.” 

“No, as a matter of fact there’s a more pleasant spot on the other side. Follow me.” Marc took them around a copse of trees to the camp site just opposite, but several yards away. Due to the trees and the distance, the original site was difficult to see. “Look at this. There’s these nice carved log-benches around the fire ring. A picnic table, grill over there,” he pointed the few feet away. “And it’s not too far from the bathrooms, either. Ah, wait, before you guys get comfortable, can you help me pitch the tent?”
Marc had purchased the “tent-in-a-bag” since there were so many of them along on this trip. It was cumbersome, but with help they soon had it set up. Problem was, there was still a lack of room inside. Next time, Marc told himself, I’ll get two. Better too much room, than not enough. The group settled into the weekend. Josiah read a book on herbalism and made it a point to harvest a few of the wild plants around them. He also found some basil and was happy that at least one of those wild plants was, in fact, the noxious elderberry needed to make a bug repellent. The bathroom was a joke, completely infested with biting bugs! He quickly managed to brew up a batch and tried it on himself before making any more. 

The others milled about, having a good look around. Marc, who had purchased a guitar for the occasion, regaled them with his lack of singing abilities. After a time, however, he perceived his audience was merely being polite and changed out his entertainment for some story-telling, instead. Karly made breakfast and they devoured it. 

A Sim, masquerading as a bear, came loping into their campsite, which made Marc bristle. He was big on privacy and this ‘bear’ didn’t seem to acknowledge personal space. Not only that, but he, she, it, shamelessly flirted with Karly. This, once again, caused Marc to become enraged. He used his mind powers on the bear to show his displeasure, since he perceived the bear already realized he was an alien. Once the ‘bear’ walked away, Marc, still being fully ensconced in the rather negative and powerful emotion, ranted and raved at Karly, as if she somehow were at fault. The hair dye covered the gray just fine, but Marc was feeling his age. 

Karly did her best to not react, wanting and needing this vacation as much as the others. She talked to Marc in quiet soothing tones and before long, he was filled with the majesty of the forest surrounding them and she offered him a shoulder-rub. Finally, his ire passed and all was well again. And Karly felt better for not playing the victim and allowing her husband to bully her. She knew, this time, for a certainly, she had done nothing to warrant that Sim/bear’s undue flirtation. She was not Marc’s problem. Marc was his own problem. He had a bad temper, and was easily sparked into jealous rages. 

They spent a nice time in front of their campfire that evening. Story-telling became the entertainment for this trip and those who couldn’t fit into the tent, found a place to nap, at least, until the others were fully rested.
The second and last day of their vacation was Sunday. All three boys emerged from the tent ready to take on the adventure they’d planned. They were going to head off for the National Park in Granite Falls and do some exploring. According to the pamphlets supplied by the Ranger, there were some unique things about this place. Could they find that exotic bug? What other gems or collectibles might they find? Off they went, after apprising their parents where they were headed. They were gone all day. 

     When they finally got back, the family broke camp and went home, for hopefully a good night’s rest. Happily, all three boys had finished their homework before they’d left for Granite Falls. 
The next morning was Monday. Marc crawled out of bed, showered, shaved, ate and headed to the medical clinic. There he discovered Janeille, and why she had opted out of their family vacation.
“Good morning,” he said, entering the exam room, his back still to the patient on the table. Turning, “Janeille, what’s wrong? Why are you here?” 
“To find out what’s wrong. You’re a doctor, you tell me.”
“Same ol’ Janeille. Maybe I should help you out and remove your tongue.”
“You wouldn’t dare, little brother. You’re too dedicated a doctor. You remember that oath you took, ‘First do no harm’, remember?”
“Ah, you’re just no fun at all,” he said with a broad smile. “So, tell me, how have you been, health-wise, lately?” 
Janeille described her symptoms and when they began. Marc ran her through the basic exam; eyes, ears, scan, getting a swab of her throat, taking her temperature. He smiled as he left the room, to analyze her specimen. When he came back his look was grave.
“Marc, what is it?”
“We can do it, now, the operating rooms are open. I’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.”
She put a hand on his arm. “Don’t do a rush job. Not like you used to clean the kitchen on your night. I may be getting up there, but I'm not quite ready to check out just yet.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” he said, leading her into the operating room. The surgery was a success and Janeille got dressed and went home to finish recuperating.
Marc was pleased he could help her, but now he understood why it wasn’t standard practice to allow physicians to treat their relatives. He was an emotional wreck and very exhausted.

Generation Four — Chapter Six: Birthday Bashes, That Weren't

   The twins' birthday was suddenly upon them. Life had been so busy, Marc was almost caught short. He hastily made arrangements for his youngest sons’ foray into teendom. Gramps made a nice hamburger cake and put the candles atop. It was placed upstairs in the Music Room, where they tried to have all of their gatherings. Josiah was quick to blow out the candles, but before his twin, Jameson, even had a chance to taste the frosting, the guests all but devoured the cake. This hurt his feelings, always feeling like the unexpected guest in his own home. 

    Gramps was on top of things, as usual. He called to his great-grandson, inviting him down to the kitchen.
“What’s this? I get my own cake?” The Sim said, eyes wide.
“Of course, you do. You may be his identical twin, but you’re still an individual and should be treated accordingly. So, this is your cake, complete with candles. Now, have at it.”
Jameson smiled, hugged his ghostly great-grandfather, and former Rock Star, and then got down to the business at hand. He blew out his very own birthday candles with glee. Then sparkles surrounded him, as he realized he was now a Teen.
“Wow, I’m almost there! Four more years of school and I’m out.” 
“Joseph has less than that,” Marc said, placing a hand on the shoulder of his youngest son. “Happy birthday.”
“Thanks, Dad.”
Except for this one unfortunate incident, the boys’ party was in a minor way, successful. Once again there were three teens in this house. Oh, the pandemonium! There were times Marc thought he’d entered a Frat House upon returning home from work. Must be getting old, or something. He sighed.
His own birthday came upon them just a few Sim days later. Joseph did his best to make it special. He invited family and a few friends down to the Dance Club in Windenburg. He even hired people to help. Sadly, the one thing he forgot all about was a cake. He saw that Gramps was busy in their kitchen, and for the time didn’t worry. However, the cake never made it to the Club. Dad did his best to make merry, but Joseph knew he was tired. Karly managed to get off work early, and both of his aunts made it. But while many enjoyed drinks at the Club’s bar, again, the lack of cake spoiled the moment. The party failed.  
Once they got home, Gramps placed the candles on the cake, he had, indeed, baked. So, the kitchen, the heart of any home, was the place where Marc blew out his candles and acknowledged he was now sixty-nine Sims days old. A Specialist, hoping to become a doctor before his life ended. 
Joseph sighed and gave his father a hug. He had much to learn, if he was going to be the next Patriarch of this family. In only six Sim days, he would be out of school. This worried him, as he was not yet prepared for it, having only a slight inclination to join the Science career. He didn’t have what it took to be a doctor like his father. But he was curious about aliens. And Dad was starting to show his age, which signaled to him, his father wouldn’t always be around.  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Generation Four — Chapter Five: A Toast To My Family … And Other Such Mishaps

Marc got off of a really rough shift at the Willow Creek Medical Clinic. He was exhausted, from having worked late, opting to work until he’d sorted out just what was wrong with the last patient he’d seen for the day. Finally, it became clear. The patient suffered from Triple Threat. Surgery was called for. Marc scrubbed up and donned his surgical gear, slipping his hands into the rubber gloves with a snap. 
There were some tense moments during the operation. First, the controls went a little blippy on him, to his surprise. Made him wonder if the technician made the glitch in the program worse, instead of eliminating it, as claimed. Finally, he pulled that bothersome plunger out of the patient, sealed the incision, and woke his patient up. Up she popped from the table as if nothing had happened. Marc was relieved and exhausted. He finally checked out and went home.
Today was Joseph’s birthday. He had much to prepare to be ready for it. Gramps had already baked the cake, so all Marc had to do was hire a few people and invite a few guests. Although it was a tad last-minute, he was happy to see how many showed up. Joseph was delighted, completely unaware of his father’s plans. Blowing out the candles, it was as if the boy grew right in front of the guests. 

      Before long, the lad began to take on a few more responsibilities, and to Marc’s delight, all on his own. The shower, once again broke down. The boy grabbed a wrench and worked at it until he’d managed to stop the never-ending fountain of water spewing everywhere, but mostly on the bathroom floor. 
      In time, Marc was promoted to Specialist. He still had to decide in which direction he’d go, but that meant more long hours of work. He all but stumbled home one evening, hungry, and after checking the refrigerator, disappointed that Karly hadn’t left them something to reheat, he took to the stove. Mistake. Before he knew it, the stove had caught fire! Luckily, Karly had just gotten home and she and the boys put him out. Thankfully, working in a restaurant, Karly had experience with kitchen fires. She also escorted the children out of the front door, to safety.

   A bit scorched, Marc was thankful that he would live to see the twins grow up.  Answering a phone call one night, he joined Janeille at the local dance club. This inspired him to make time for Karly, too. When Megan called inviting him to the Ruins, he asked Karly if she was interested. Her answer was in the affirmative, and so the two transported to meet Megan. Being a tad chilly, Marc lit the bonfire, hugging his wife to him. 


   They hadn’t been alone much, lately, and recalling how disastrous that could be, he turned their conversation to a more intimate one. Before long the two of them were feeling decidedly flirty, so looking around they spotted a bush — the kind of which he’d heard others had used for some woohoo.   

       Have to love workplace romantic gossip. Nodding in the direction of the bush, he was surprised Karly was game. The two sneaked passed the others and ducked into the shrub. Before too long, it was all but rocking. Whether it was the berries on the bush, the sweet fragrance the plant exuded or just the excitement of illicit public woohoo, Marc didn’t know, but he could swear fireworks went off. Best woohoo he’d had in a long time. With their reputations at stake, the two stealthily crept out of the bush. They wouldn’t soon forget this evening, each feeling as if they’d been recharged, somehow. A short time later they left the gathering to go home.