Category Archives: Short Bursts of Story




By Vann Crow

We got a new coffee maker. There was nothing wrong with the old one. It was not a good one, but it worked. It made coffee every day when we asked it. Sometimes it made coffee several times a day. Those days usually required us to stay awake for extended periods of time. It never complained, which was unlike my wife and sometimes myself. When I had to stay awake for extended periods of time I periodically became grumpy. Sometimes I will yell at people for no reason. I am not sure if it was because I was tired or irritable due to the coffee.

The coffee maker never made good tasting coffee. We were glad it made coffee. We tried, (we meaning my wife) all types of coffee from all over the world. Some came from Africa, some from South America, some from Jamaica, and some from Walmart. They all tasted the same. My wife would have been fine with the taste if only we could program it to brew in the morning before we got up. It was not programmable. She would always complain. “This coffee tastes awful,” is what I heard most of the time. Sometimes she would add an expletive to help me better understand her point of view. I believe mostly she did not like having to physically make something she knew would taste bad and then drink it every morning to wake up.

On Christmas day we were at my parents house. They always have their place looking  nice with decorations. I am  proud and happy to visit them during this time because it looks so nice. My mom and wife always exchanged compliments with each other about the things they did for the holidays. My mom was also insightful, and maybe at some point overheard my wife or myself complaining about the coffee we made every day. In a box under the tree there was only one present for my wife and I. It was a medium size box. We did not get one present because we were bad the previous year, we got one because we now have kids. It was all agreed upon by my brother’s wife, my wife and my mom the attention should be on the kids. As it should be I thought.

The next day, I had almost forgot about the new coffee maker because of the general overwhelming that occurs during Christmas. I was also in some hot water with my wife due to not getting her a present. ( a whole other story) In my defense I am pretty sure the focus on the kids rule applied to us. She did get me a nice unexpected present,  (another whole story) When I woke that morning the kids were already up.  I don’t understand them because when I was a kid in school, on break, I always slept as long as possible. I looked at them in wander, started to explain the sleeping in concept to them, but stopped. But, it was to late they got what I was trying to explain.  I thought this might bite me in the you know what later.  The last thing I want to do is start prying them out of bed every morning. Then I saw the new coffee maker box. It was saying, “Open me and make your first pot Mr. Crow.”

When I unpacked it, I had a feeling life was about to change. First, unlike the old one, it had lots of buttons. The old one had one button, on and off. I counted  six buttons, two knobs and a lever. I also had the suspicion I would have to read the manual to get it fired up and running.  It looked strange sitting on the counter all shinny and clean.

It did not take long the make our first pot. It brewed beautifully. The aroma filled the house and woke my wife. We sat together with smiles enjoying our fist cup.  Our kids had the TV blasting and were destroying the living room, but we dd not care. We looked each other in the eye and I knew I had been forgiven for my lapse in giving a present.  The taste was a lot better, but not spectacular. I thought, it must be the coffee brand. I made a note to buy something better.  The best part, however, was this new maker was programmable.  We could set it up to make it before we came down from getting dressed. I would be able to smell it brewing while putting on my cloths. What more could you ask for in life? It was the best present this year.

Thirty-one minutes later, it was 8:30AM,  now 9:01AM and when I discovered a possible issue other than the taste. The carafe was warm not hot. Our old make did not make  great tasting coffee, but if I came back in thirty-one minutes it was at least hot (with the taste of being burnt, which I did not mind to much since it already tasted bad).

There is a knob on the new coffee maker that says Carafe Temp. It’s marked L, M, H. I thought, let’s put it on H and make another pot.  It did not work. Thirty-one minutes after a new brew, it was warm again. Something is not right. I called my mom to consult her. She has the same one. She told me her’s stays hot for two hours. I made another pot. No change. I decided to consult the manual. It had one sentence about the knob. “You can control the carafe temp with this knob.

Then my wife discovered the warm coffee. “Why is the coffee cold?” she said, and then “What good is a coffee maker that does not keep it warm?” I knew at that point things might go down hill. I immediately went and bought some expensive coffee and made her a pot. It tasted really good for thirty-one minutes.

We were now begining fourth day of having bad coffee made from our new coffee maker.  I did not want to come right out and say it, but  well, “I’m pretty pissed off.”  It could also be I have not had much sleep. Since it was about to be a new year.  I have been mulling over all that went wrong this past year and it was keeping me up,  including the new coffee maker. I am now positive the kids got better presents then we did.

We got a new coffee maker that made bad tasting coffee like our old coffee maker, but there was some comfort, it is new and shinny. It now tastes bad at all time, but I think it is mostly psychological.  We did try coffee from Africa, South American, Jamaica, and Walmart. It made no difference. It continued to tasted bad.

My wife suggested I go to Starbucks and ask the people who make coffee for a living (or part-time) if they have any advice about our bad tasting coffee.  My kids have slept in  all four of the past days a well, and I have had to pry them out of bed. I used TV cartoons and hot coco as a stick and carrot for them to get up. I knew it would come back to bite me.

At Starbucks I asked if I could speak to a manager. It was the manager I was speaking too. I considered it a good sign that I did not have to wait for the manager. Maybe, she would have an answer to my problem. I asked the manager if can I speak with her star barista. I said it in away she would not be offended if she thought I was implying she was not the best.  Long story short, she was the best, however, she was not so good at explaining how to make coffee. After several minutes I realized what she was trying to say was, “If it’s not in the Starbucks coffee making manual she could not help me.”  It was frustrating, but on the way home I thought about something my wife said. something I read in the manual (the Starbucks barista made me think about manuals again) and something my mom said. After putting one, one and one together I had an idea.

Problem solved! We am very happy now. The carafe temperature needed to be programmed as well. It did not say it in the manual, but I gave it a try and it worked.  Now it is programmed for me to smell coffee brewing while I get dressed. All psychological stigmas are gone. We have great tasting coffee from from Africa, some from South America, some from Jamaica, and some from Starbucks. And every day thirty-one minutes later it was HOT!

Note: This is draft ONE. In draft two, I will make sure I talk more about my wife not getting her present.  The unexpected present she got me (even though she broke her own rule), and my subscription to Fresh Cup Magazine.

Note 2: “Yes Mrs. Parrish,” (my 5th Grade grammar police officer – teacher) I will work on my spelling and grammar in the next draft.




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a short story draft
By Vann Crow

     The windows were down and the engine was roaring. Dusty and hot in the fast lane, we were cruising. Tim drove while I sat shotgun on the mission. Our priority? Get some end of the day suds. Slapping up drywall at our construction job produced serious thirst.

We had not a care about being filthy dirty for the operation. Smiling from ear to ear we rolled down the road in a modified, over the top, souped-up convertible built-to-the-tilt 1969 Camaro. It is lightning blue and ferocious. At a stoplight we jumped out and flipped the ragtop open to maximize cooling.  It’s our after work routine.

Tim stomped it when the light changed.  The tires smoked up in an instant. The rear of the car screamed in a fishtail with all the rage of manhood.

He bang shifted two gears, each time ripping the tires and pavement, while we screamed,  “Hell yeah!”

And then it happened. Something flew into my mouth going straight to the back of my throat.


Tim looked over.  I looked back.

“Man… I just swallowed something!”

Tears formed and I felt my face turn a couple of shades past red.

“You OK man?”

At first I thought I was OK, but something was all wrong.

“Dude, you’re hacking on a big ass bug? I saw it!”

Gagging and grasping for air, I couldn’t utter a word.

“I saw it man, it was huge!”

I was looking for something smart to say like, “It’s my dinner,” or some other crack, but it became apparent something was way wrong. I couldn’t swallow. It was hard to breathe and whatever it was, it’s alive and moving.

Tim saw that I was having a tough time with it, pulled over, and for a moment, I thought things would begin to chill out. Yes, it seemed to calm as if it had given up and moved down into the old food churner.  I was able to breathe a little better and my skin was changing back to its normal color.

I thought, now all I have to do is live with that uncomfortable feeling…“Gulp”…hacking that occurs when you swallow something, “hack,…HACK”… the wrong way, until we get a couple swigs of those suds. You know the feeling, you hate it. It just lingers around.

“Dude that is the funniest thing I have every seen!” was the remark Tim made right before it happened.

::::WHAM! :::: A piercing sting into the back of my throat! It felt like a giant needle-sharp thorn had just stabbed into the most sensitive part of my body!

I went epileptic. I had no control. My body was in pure reaction. My arms were flapping all over the place. My legs were stomping the floorboard, and I slammed my back into the seat with convulsions. “I’m going to die!” I screamed.

Tim edged towards shock himself at the sight of me. He jumped as far away from me as he could inside the car. No room for laughing now.

I was in pain and he was scared!

As fast as the pain came, it went away. What was going on?  Tim was now fumbling with his cell phone trying to call for help.

“Wait I think I’m ok, hold on a minute.”  He lowered the phone momentarily.

“Yo wild man, I don’t know – you’re freaking me out.”

My mind was in an intense seesaw struggle.  One minute I’m out of control, next I feel calm and really mellow.  In fact, I feel really good, kind of numb, and sleepy.

That’s the last thing I remember before I woke up in what I thought was barn with all my cloths missing and my body covered in an odorless, clear slime.


Squaaaak….CRRRRRRK…Can you read me?..Hello READER…Crrrrrkkkk…CAN you read me now?…Can you read me now?

That should be good. Pardon my interruption of your reading…It’s me Alex.

Well I did remember a flash, I think.  It could have been just a sneeze. At this point it is but a faded memory.  My name is Alex Coogle.  One thing is for sure, that day was the beginning of all the new in the future days of my life.  I call it a renaissance coming out of the dark ages.

I have to tell you, that day, well, it went straight to the top of the charts of my WOW!… days.  I never saw my friend Tim or my family again. I become rather lonely in thought when I think of them, but I manage it.

If I were in your shoes right now, I might be wondering what the heck just happened with this story, but before I get into it, I have to warn you, what I am about to express is not for everyone. I can also tell you, if there was ever any doubt in your mind that we are not alone in the universe, please let me be clear as possible, WE ARE NOT ALONE.

You see, once I was a young redneck southerner with absolutely no clue about life. Now, due to extraordinary circumstances I am a well traveled galaxy hopper. And, the coolest thing is only one second of my Earth life has passed, but I have lived 253 universal years.  You’re probably smirking and saying, “Oh boy this is a real zinger,” and maybe you might even be considering moving on to another story, but I say just wait a few more paragraphs then I will let you go.

I know, I said I would explain what happened. You are curious as to what I was gagging on and what immediately changed my life forever, but it’s actually not the point of this story. You see, this is not a normal story. The whole first part was used to get your attention.

That day I was riding shotgun in a hot rod muscle car from the nineteen sixtes and now I am the new managing sales director of Universal Life Travel Company.  Recently, we upgraded our system to better accommodate human planetary space travel. Since I was formerly human, I now manage team of sales people throughout the 42nd sector of what you know as the Milky Way Galaxy. And, no, I did not borrow that number from Douglas. Just go ask one of those real smart physicists they will tell you there is such a place.

Before managing and being a company salesperson, my long time idea was to expand the untapped market of Earth and its surrounding life bearing planets. After all, it’s the home planet. So, if you are reading this, please know it’s an advertisement and you’re potentially a great candidate to receive a trial travel pass. It’s free and with full family and friend reinstatement guarantee if you are not satisfied.  It has been placed in special places to attract mavens who can help slowly spread the word about the ability of space travel.  You see, we, and by “WE” I mean the people of the SETTA (or better yet the Beings of the Universe) cannot just show up on Earth and say, “Hello, Here we are. Would you like to travel around the Universe?”  It would be a real mess. You have seen the movies. The governments would get involved and try to destroy us, or the rich people would try to buy and hide us for themselves. No, we cannot do it that way. So what I decided to do was write a couple short story contest entries, then enter them periodically over time in various competitions and wait to see who could figure out the secret code. I think the secret code thing is primo. Everyone always seems to like things that have mystery. We’re all just a bunch of problem solvers. I did try to remember how people were communicating around the time I took the new form, but all the FacedIn and PwitterBook stuff was just too much of scrambled up mess to get any real message out.

What I needed was to get in front of the people who can really get the word out in a positive way.

So to re-cap: The first part of this story was created to get your attention, the middle part of this story is to let you know you are not alone in the Universe and to let you know you can travel beyond any limit you can ever imagine. And, the final run to the finish is to let you know there is a code within the story that, if broken, will give you the directions on how to contact me Alex Coogle KB3MXV and learn how you can become a Universal Life Traveler. Good luck in finding the solution. If you do find it, then know you are who we are looking for to help spread the word….Signing off now…..crrrrrraaackkk…


“My sympathies. Mr. and Mrs. Coogle, I’m keeping you and your loved one in my prayers.” Thank you Tim. “You’re welcome. Who knew he was allergic to bees?”