The Winning Hand

Ethan wiped beads of sweat off his brow. How had he got himself into this predictament? First he was just playing a friendly game of cards and then the guy wanted to make a bet. Ethan thought he was on a winning streak so he said sure. But he had been so wrong!

He had come out to LA again for business. The last time he had been here was when Jade and him were on their honeymoon.

Missing Jade, he was eager to leave for home tomorrow, but his stomach started turning when he thought of how big a bet he had made. He had been so sure that he would win! He regretted the last drink he had, made him make a dumb move and now he was about to lose all his money!

Ethan’s brain was scrambling as he looked at the cards in his hand, wishing they would magically change!

“Are you going to lay down your cards or not, I don’t have all night, you know.” said the man with the brown scruffy beard and beady brown eyes.

“My wife Henrietta is waiting for me at home, she is going to be so happy with my winnings. Now I can get her that diamond necklace that she has been wanting. Just in time for her birthday. So hurry up young man.”

Henrietta, thought Ethan, where had he heard that name before? Suddenly it struck him why he recognized the name and a plan began to form in his mind! It was crazy but it might just work!

“How about one more bet. Double the money?” Ethan asked.

The beady eyed man leaned forward in his chair. “You want to lose more money?”

“Oh, No, I plan to win!” said Ethan. “What would you say if I told you that I could provide some singing entertainment for you from a hippo?”

The man almost fell off his chair from laughter!

“A singing hippo! How many drinks did you have? I would gladly pay you double to see a singing hippo, and I will be even more glad to take your money from you! So sure go find me a singing hippo” and the guy convulsed in laughter once more.

Ethan didn’t waste any time leaving. He stepped out into the fresh air snd quickly took off in his car. He could just go back to his hotel, the guy didn’t know where he was staying. At least he didn’t think so, but what if somehow he did. The last thing Ethan wanted was to be woken up in the early morning hours by an angry guy wanting his money.

He had to find Henrietta the hippo. Driving down the road he hoped that he had remembered correctly where Jade and he had met her before.

It didn’t take too long to arrive. He parked his car and entered the woods. Ethan walked in the woods with a knot in his stomach, he just had to find her. He walked for quite a while and he began giving up all hope of finding her.

Then be found himself at the river and there she was, playing in the water. Relief flooded through him. He would be OK!

“Henrietta!” he called, walking towards the river. “Its me Ethan, I need your help.”

There was silence as Henrietta smiled at him. Why wasn’t she talking, he thought.

“Hi Ethan! Nice to see you back.”

Ethan turned around to see Bobo the bear. He sure was glad that he knew Bobo was harmless or he would have fainted!

“Hi Bobo, how are you? I would love to chat but I am really in a hurry and need Henrietta’s help. I called out to her but she just keeps playing in the water, like she doesn’t hear me.”

“I am sure she heard you but she won’t speak to you. She has a bad case of laryngitis. She has been singing her heart out this week and her voice is now totally gone!”

Ethan groaned and covered his face with his hands. “Oh No! I am doomed! This is awful!”

“Awful? Actually all of us here in the woods have been enjoying the peace!” said Bobo.

Shaking his head, Ethan filled him in on his problem.

“Well I can’t sing but I bet I could make that guy forget all about your bet!” Bobo said with a chuckle.

“How?’ Ethan asked and then, a smile spread across his face.

“Oooh yes, I do believe you could!”

Ethan and Bobo planned it out. He would bring the guy to the woods to see Henrietta, but Bobo would make a sudden appearance! He told Bobo where to meet them and he couldn’t stop smiling. This would be good!

Jade was waiting for Ethan at the airport. She was so excited to see him and be back in his arms once again.

Later that night Jade turned to him and said. “I still can’t believe you stood up to a bear and scared him away! You could have been killed!”

Ethan wrapped his arm around Jade and said, “Remember our walk in the woods when we were on our honeymoon and that awful lady robbed us?”

“Yes, how could I forget, but why are you bringing that up?” Jade asked.

“Remember Bobo the bear”, Ethan asked with a gleam in his eye.

“Yes, he scared us so badly at first but then…” she looked at Ethan as understanding began to dawn on her.

“So my brave knight, that ferocious bear that you encountered,did its name happen to be Bobo?”

“What a smart woman you are!” he said, leaning in and kissing her soft pink lips.

Jade kissed him back, stretching her hand across the bed to turn off the light.

What Was That Sound?

My photo from Crystal Cave

Toby’s heart sank as he passed by the big melting ice cream cone stalagmite again.  He had been full of excitement to explore this cave but was now getting anxious to get back out to the sunlight.

Turning around, he walked away from the ice cream cone. He hadn’t thought he would get lost in this cave. There hadn’t been that many turns, but  apparently he kept taking the wrong one.

He walked away feeling confident seeing a turn up ahead that he thought he would try. Only to feel hopeless again, as he ran into a wall.

Slumping down against the damp wall he took another drink from his thermos. Then he pulled out a cranberry almond granola bar, for he was getting hungry.

What was that sound? Chills ran through him. It sounded like someone was in pain!

Was there someone or something else in this cave? The sound didn’t seem to be real close but should he follow it? Did someone need help or…? He swallowed his fear as he walked towards the sound.

The wailing got louder. His mind was thinking of all kinds of possibilities. He was trying to prepare himself for whatever he may find. It sounded like shrieking now, causing his heart to jump.

Tnere was light! He saw the opening of the cave! The sound was a lot louder, making him cringe, but at least he was finally getting out of the cave.

Stepping out into the sunlight felt great, but oooh that sound! Where was it coming from? Then he saw the source of the sound but couldn’t believe his eyes! He had never seen a long necked hippo before and never heard sounds like that coming from a hippo!

Henrietta stopped as she saw Toby walking towards her. “Hi!” she called out to him. “Hi!” he replied and then shook his head, had he really just talked to a Hippo?

“I was just warming up my vocal chords, going through the scales. Getting ready to sing my new song.”  she said. “Oh.” was all he could think of to say. A singing hippo was not one of the possibilities that had gone through his mind when wondering about the source of the wailing sound.

“I see you came out of Bobo’s cave, did you see him?” Henrietta asked, changing the subject since he hadn’t seemed to interested in her singing.

“Who is Bobo?” asked Toby.

“My friend, the bear!”

“A…a…bear lives in that cave??” stammered Toby.

“Yes.” replied Henrietta. Noticing his pale complexion, she quickly assured Toby that Bobo was friendly.

When Toby had planned a weekend getaway trip to Vegas, he had never planned on meeting a talking, long necked hippo! What other strange animals did Vegas have?

Henrietta kept chatting away, she was quite the friendly hippo. He continued listening to her and decided that this was one of those times when that quote he heard alot was true! “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!” For if he ever was to speak about this to his friends they would definitely be wondering about his sanity!

.

Conquering the Challenge!

Jeff was flying his plane in the clear, azure blue sky, feeling free. He was so glad that he had got his pilot’s license. The joy he felt when flying high in the sky couldn’t be compared.

Katelyn had been unsure at first about him flying, but after he took her up in a few times in his plane, she agreed, that it was wonderful. They were eager about going on trips together. Thinking about her made him eager to get home. His heart smiled as he thought about her, remembering their last night together, before he had left.

They had went on a short camping trip the weekend before he left. Being out in nature was something they both enjoyed. It had a been a fun day of hiking in a beautiful wooded trail that led to a rushing waterfall. It had been a very hot day, and it didn’t take him long to decide to jump into the cool water. Katelyn was laughing, as his big splash had sprayed on her, while she was sitting on the big rock. She soon had jumped in as well. They had spent a hour swimming in the water, just the 2 of them, in their own little paradise.  He remembered the feel of her wet body wrapped against his, as they stood underneath the spray of the waterfall. The taste of her lips ….  Oh he had to clear his mind now and focus on flying, so that he made it back home!

Oh No! That couldn’t be right. His fuel gauge was saying that he was just about empty. He must be leaking fuel, for he knew that he had made sure to fill completely up before leaving! Now what? He nervously stared at the flashing light on the fuel gauge.

Was there a good place to do an emergency landing? He knew he was too far away from the nearest airport, where else could he go? He flew on, feeling more scared the longer he flew, and then he saw it. Yes, there was land! He wasn’t sure exactly where he was, but he really didn’t have the choice to be picky. He prepared to land.

It wasn’t the smoothest landing that he had ever done, but he was on the ground, and alive, and for that he was very thankful. Before he had landed, he had radioed for help explaining his situation. Help was on the way, he just had to sit and wait now.

He was sitting and munching on an apple, when he realized he had a visitor.

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Jeff couldn’t believe his eyes, he was looking at a Sunda Colugo! He and his other fellow animal biologists had been looking for one of these, but in all their explorations they hadn’t found one. Now here one was staring right at Jeff. Jeff could only stare in shock for awhile, it was a cute little thing.

He quickly grabbed his camera, his co-workers would love this, and probably be a bit jealous. Jeff couldn’t help but smile with a glint in his eye. They all had been challenged to find the rarest animal for the last entry in the book that they had been working on for awhile now. This was an exploration trip he had been on, and he had found some unique animals, but this one was perfect. Jeff was feeling pretty smug, thinking he may have won!

The Colugo seemed just as interested in Jeff, as he was in him. It wasn’t shy, as it had no problem hanging around and posing for pictures. Jeff was thrilled! Sometimes the greatest surprises came in the most unexpected way!

Katelyn was coming down the stairs and Jeff caught his breath. She looked stunning in her tangerine colored dress. It was a little off her shoulders and it went great with her tan. They had gone on a vacation to the ocean when he arrived home. A week of sun, water and relaxation. It had been the perfect getaway.

Now his boss was taking everyone out to dinner to celebrate the completion of their book. Jeff’s picture of the Sunda Culogo had won for the last entry in the book. What could he say, he had a feeling about the Culogo and his feeling had proven right!

Life was good!

His heart was warm, and he couldn’t stop smiling, as he took Katelyn’s hand and walked out the door.

 

 

 

Reunited

Celia woke up, and for a moment she had forgotten about the excitement from the night before, and then it all came back to her. She had a talking kitten!

“Wake up Muffin! Wake up! Today is the day!” Celia said as she rubbed Muffin. Muffin opened one eye looking at her, not feeling very happy about having been awakened.

“Must you be so cheery in the morning!” Muffin replied stretching  out her body and yawning.

“I just so excited, Tulag is going to meet us by the sandbox, right?”

“Yes, but do you have any plan figured out of just how you are going to help him find Myrtle?”

Celia pulled her knees up to her chin as she sat on her bed thinking. “Hmmm….not sure. I can’t cross the street by myself, so I can’t go very far. What do you suggest?”

“You are asking me? I am just a simple, innocent, cat, how am I supposed to be able to help you.”

“But you TALK!” said Celia.

“That doesn’t mean anything. Lots of animals talk. I have heard of a talking cow before and a gnu. They  got in to all kinds of trouble. I also heard of a talking chicken, and … well his story is pretty sad.”

Celia got serious for a moment, “What happened to the chicken?” she asked.

“We really should go meet Tulag, he probably is waiting for us.” replied Muffin, purposely changing the subject, he didn’t want to make Celia sad.

Celia looked at Muffin for a moment, then shrugged her shoulders and said, “Well what are we waiting for, lets go!”

She picked Muffin up in her arms and ran down the steps and out the door before anyone saw her.

Running to the sandbox she made sure to keep an eye out for Tulag so she wouldn’t accidentally step on him again. No worries, he was sitting right at the edge of the sandbox.

“Good Morning! I am feeling happy today, looking forward to finding my Myrtle. So where are we going to go?”

“Lets go in the woods, Mommy and Daddy let me play in the woods, as long as I don’t go too far. Maybe Myrtle is hiding in there. Perhaps she got lost and can’t find her way out.”

Muffin and Tulag agreed that it seemed a good place to start, so they entered the woods in Celia’s backyard.

Walking through the woods it was full of noises of chipmunks and squirrels scampering around. Muffin wanted to give chase, but knew Celia wouldn’t want her catching them, so she behaved. Maybe she would sneak out tonight and have some fun while Celia was sleeping.

A Magpie was singing from high up in a tree and watching the little trio walk through the woods.

They came to a little stream and Celia said that was as far as she could go. Celia sat down on a rock, as they watched the water flow. “Hey I see a turtle in the middle of the stream! Is that Myrtle?”

Tulag’s heart started to race as he inched his way closer to the stream to see. Then he called out “Myrtle!” Myrtle! Is that you?”

Myrtle lifted her head, “Tulag! I didn’t think I would ever see you again! That day Patrick took me from the pet shop, I thought was our last day together.”

Myrtle splashed through the water to get to land as fast as she could, which was still pretty slow.

Finally she made it and Tulag gave her a little kiss. “I can’t believe it, I actually found you! I escaped from the pet shop a few days after you left and have been looking for you ever since!”

Celia was jumping up and down, not believing what she was hearing and seeing. Tulag has found his mate. Her heart was bursting, she wanted to share the news, but who would believe her. It was a secret that she would just have to keep to herself. She smiled, feeling pretty special. She didn’t know of anyone else that had a talking kitten and helped reunite 2 turtles who were in love. She picked up Muffin and hugged her tight against her.

“isn’t this the bestest day ever Muffin?” she exclaimed!

“Well if you let me breathe, it just may be!” Muffin grunted.

Celia laughed and put her down on the ground. “We better get back Muffin, Mommy will soon be calling me for breakfast.  Are you coming Tulag and Myrtle?”

Tulag and Myrtle looked at Celia, with her eyes brimming with excitement. “Sorry dear, but we got to head back to my owner Patrick’s house. He is probably going crazy looking for me.” said Myrtle. “I am sure he will be surprised to see Tulag!”

“Will he let us stay together?” asked Tulag

“Oh yes, not a problem, he is a nice guy and he knows all about love. He found his girl and they are very happy together. On our way back to his place I will fill you in on all the craziness that has happened since leaving the Pet Shop. You will never believe everything I witnessed from living with Patrick. It was really cool, I helped him catch this girl named Tanya and…”

Celia and Muffin watched as the two turtles walked off talking, unaware of anything else around them.

“So sweet, I do hope they come visit me again,”  said Celia.

“Yeah, yeah… but can we get home, I am hungry for some tuna!” and the two of them ran through the woods towards home.

 

 

Excitement at Midnight

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Little Celia heard the noise again. She was determined to find out the source of it this time. Her baby kitten Muffin was her shadow, as she followed Celia down the stairs.

The rest of the house was asleep, Celia was sure no one would hear her. Her Dad was snoring loudly when she passed his room. Celia’s Mom wore earplugs to sleep and her big brother, Hans, was a sound sleeper. Thunderstorms didn’t even wake him up. They made Celia bolt upright in bed and then she would pull the covers over her head until the thunder stopped.

For 2 nights now she had awakened to the faint sound of what sounded like someone saying “Help me!”  Muffin, slept on her bed with her, but no one else was n her room. She would rub her eyes making sure she wasn’t dreaming and she still would hear the little cry.  Typically she would just go back to sleep, but tonight she was going to investigate.

Celia heard the cry as she walked down the hallway and it seemed to follow her down the stairs. She kept walking. It seemed to get louder as she got near the back door. Dare she open the door? She wasn’t supposed to go outside by herself, but who was saying “Help me!”, she had to find out!

With a deep breath, she opened the door. Muffin was right behind her. She stepped out and jumped, her foot had touched something strange and she heard a strange kind of yelp. Looking down she was shocked to see a turtle!

“About time you came, thanks for not stepping too hard on me!”

Little Celia couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Was this turtle really talking to her?

“Thanks Muffin, for leading her here.”

“You are welcome. Always glad to help a friend.”  Muffin replied.

Now Celia was wide-eyed as she looked back and forth from Muffin to the turtle.

Muffin could talk! Wow! She was the luckiest girl ever!

“Mommy and Daddy will be so shocked to hear this!” she yelled. “I want to wake them up  now!”

“Oh, I wouldn’t be too hasty Celia! This probably should be our little secret, you know how adults are. They can be too logical at times, no imagination.”

Celia was a little disappointed, but she understood, adults could be strange at times.

“Okay, I will pinky swear not to tell!” Then she looked at the turtle wondered how she was supposed to  pinky swear with him.

“I believe you.” said the turtle. ” Now where are my manners, let me introduce myself. My name is Tulag and I really hope you can help me. I am looking for my mate, her name is Myrtle and we got separated! Will you help me find her?”

“Yes!” said Celia, without even thinking. She loved animals, she had to help.

Muffin smiled, ” Told you she would help!” she said proudly to Tulag.

“Now we better get back to bed before anyone notices that she is gone. We will meet you tomorrow afternoon and begin our hunt for Myrtle.”

Celia was speechless, as Tulag thanked them and slowly crawled away. She quietly followed Muffin up the steps and into her bedroom. She climbed in her bed and Muffin nestled down beside her. “You can talk!” said Celia.

“Yes, I am aware of that!” replied Muffin, “Now get some sleep.”

Celia closed her eyes with a big smile on her face, her kitten could talk and she was going to help a talking turtle find his mate. She laughed to herself, here her brother thought he was big stuff because he could throw a ball into a hoop! OH what he didn’t know!

The Animals Save the Day

Tamara was in the grocery store, and she once again had the strange feeling that she was being followed. She glanced behind her but saw no one. What was going on with her, more and more she felt herself feeling nervous when she was out. Was that mysterious lady really following her and if so, why?

She quickly gathered up what was on her list, checked out and headed out of the store. All she wanted was to get home and relax in her pool. It had been a long day at work, and then she made a few stops on the way home. The grocery store was her last one. She needed to get her Banana fudge ice cream and Coffee ice cream home before they melted.

Who was that standing by her car? It was her! The mysterious lady must have been following her, she was standing by her car! Tamara picked up her pace, she was determined to get to the bottom of what this lady wanted with her.

“Excuse me Ma’am, why are you standing by my car?”  Tamara asked as she walked up to her car.

“HI! I am Tanya” , and she put out her hand.  ” I am new to the area and now my car has a flat tire.  Sorry, to bother you, but I have seen you in the neighborhood and you looked like a nice person so I was hoping you could help me.”

Tamara’s heart was pulled. She did have a kind heart and was always quick to offer a helping hand. She didn’t know a lot about cars but she did know how to change a flat tire. Her Dad had taught her well.

“Sure, I can help you, where is your car?”

Tanya smiled, as she led the way to the next row of cars. Her car was parked away from the other cars in the far corner. They got to her car and Tanya popped the trunk.”I think everything you need to change it is in here.”

Tamara looked in and suddenly she felt something hard hit her in the head. She screamed as everything went black.

Tanya slammed the trunk shut. Well that was easy enough, she thought. Patrick’s girlfriend is pretty gullible. Now to pay Patrick a surprise visit, she had some unfinished business with him to take care of!

They were almost to his house when…. Tonya slammed on her brakes! What was that blasted cow doing straight ahead of her in the middle of the road and…!

She pounded the steering wheel. Patrick and Luke were standing on either side of Betsy!

There was no room for her to turn around, plus Luke and Patrick were walking to her car now. Tanya smacked her head on the steering wheel as she heard Patrick’s voice.

“Well, well, well, I see we meet again! Didn’t expect to meet up so soon again, guess you just couldn’t resist wanting to see my handsome face again?” Tanya made a face! “I don’t understand, how did you know?”

Luke said, “We will explain, but first I think you have a trunk to open!”

Tanya pulled the lever to pop the trunk and Patrick pulled out Tamara who had a throbbing headache, and was shook up, but found comfort in Patrick’s strong arms.

It didn’t take long to arrest Tanya and send her off to prison once more. This time there would be tighter security, Luke would see to it! He took Tanya,  while Patrick took Tamara back to his place to help her recover from her frightening experience.

Tamara laid on the couch with her head in Patrick’s lap, as he gently rubbed it.

“Explain to me again how everything unfolded.”

“Luke had called me about Anna escaping from prison. It seems that Betsy had come back to his farm one day and told him everything. She had thought she wanted to escape the farm but then started feeling guilty for Luke had always been really good to her. Apparently Luke has some very special animals, for they all helped put this plan into motion.

Luke brought Betsy and a goose along with him about a week ago now. We had the goose trail Tanya, and she would report back to Betsy who told Luke. The goose was in the parking lot at the grocery store, she saw everything that happened and we flew into action when we heard the news.

Tamara sighed, “I have never been so grateful for animals before as I am right now!”

Patrick leaned down and gave her a kiss.

“I can’t imagine what I would have done if something would have happened to you. Betsy the cow and the awesome Goose are our heroes! I heard that Luke has a Gnu on his farm now too. Oh and an extra cow named Bessie. Anna loves them all!

They all have brought Luke comfort, as he was sorry to lose his pig and Charlie the Chicken. He still has never found out what happened to them, they disappeared the same day as Betsy did and they never came back!

Yes, Luke has his extra special animals and I have Myrtle the turtle, who just eats earthworms and….”

Patrick stood up quickly, letting Tamara’s head drop on the couch.

“Myrtle, Where is Myrtle? How did her lid get knocked off?”

 

 

The Moments of Beauty

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Marissa was mesmerized by the sight. Right now she felt like there was no other place that she would rather be. This safari ride had turned out to be amazing and as she watched the sun set her breath was taken away. She watched the elephants as they walked by the water. What majestic animals  they were.

She had always loved animals and seeing wild animals up close like this filled her heart and  made her at a loss for words.

A day like today had made all other thoughts leave her head. Today all she could focus on were the amazing animals that were roaming around, right in front of her eyes.

The lion and its lioness that she saw resting in the long grass, and the giraffe eating leaves from a tree. The baby elephant playing in the water and the zebras looking straight at her trying to figure her out.

She had come to Africa on business, but her stay had got extended due to flights being cancelled.  At first she was upset about being stuck here, but once she started exploring, she found herself slowly being enraptured by this place.  After today, she wondered if she wanted to go back to her hectic business life in the city.  How could she get tired of seeing scenes like this play out right in front of her eyes? Perhaps she should quit her job and become a safari guide.

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Marissa knew she was just dreaming. She did enjoy her life in the city, but she was thankful for this unexpected break in her schedule. She was finding time to breathe again and to open her eyes to the wonders around her.

She had no control of the events that caused flights to be cancelled. There was nothing she could do. Wasn’t like she could rent a car and drive to the US.  Sometimes there were things totally out of our control, but there were some things she could control. One of them was what she was doing right now. Taking the time to soak in the moment, letting time stand still and opening her eyes to the beauty right in front of her.