Prose Selections

The Despicable Family

Miles from anywhere they knew, the GPS failed them. It said, “You have arrived at your destination.” This was not where they planned
o be at 3:00 AM in the dark and fog.

It was a moonless night. They were a family getting away from their stressful lives. The father was an embezzler who knew the bank would discover his crime. The auditors were to arrive next week.
The mother was a lawyer who specialized in making fraudulent injury claims against insurance companies. Junior was the school bully. He had been extorting money from smaller students since third grade. They were lost in a swamp and their stolen car was sinking. Their own car had been repossessed for non-payment of the car loan. Near their rental home was a car dealer who had a key box for owners to drop off their cars for repairs. Dad broke into the key box and found the newest unremarkable-looking car to use to make their escape.

This stolen car was the one sinking faster and faster. The family members ran from the car in three different directions! Their bodies were never found. No one missed them.

The owner of the sunken car got his insurance money for the missing car. He used the money to get a newer car with a GPS that worked, unlike that in the car he had left for repairs.

So, this story has a happy ending!

-Will Scull






The Mosquito Truck

By Bill McCloskey

I recently read a notice in the local newspaper posted from a mysterious-sounding

organization called the Mosquito Control Commission about a scheduled spraying of insect

toxins meant to eradicate the little blood suckers from the Delaware County area. To further

warn the residents, I received an automated call from a township official to further stress the importance of this event. Holy crap! A warning in the paper and through the phone! An official commission! Has an End of Days Zombie Apocalypse ring to it, huh? Well, I wondered, where was that dire message when years ago, I was one of those goofs in a small mob of equally dumb kids chasing that bug-killing fog-shrouded olive-green truck like somebody was throwing cash out the back door? Yes, this advertised, upcoming pest extermination event was not the first time the mosquito truck came to call in our lives. In kid times, the spraying was an annual summer event in our leafy suburban neighborhood, and it came with a lot less fanfare. No phone messages or news articles in those days. Hmmm? In fact, when that military-looking jeep thing hit our tree-lined streets, while nervously anticipated, it was quite a surprise when it actually showed up. A freaky, weirdly exciting surprise.

First came the eerie noise – a machine gun rattling that grabbed the attention of every kid

in our brick colonial development, who quickly assembled on the curb in parade-watching

formation as if the beloved ice cream truck was approaching. Soon the vehicle, that really did look like it had been hijacked from a military installation, which made the experience even more thrilling, came over the hill belching a thick white foggy cloud from a septic tank- shaped container mounted on its back. If memory serves me, it smelled appropriately of Raid ant spray. Seriously. As quickly as it passed by the mesmerized crowd, kids of all ages (capable of and permitted to do street running, of course) fell in directly behind the truck and were enveloped by a bellowing cloud of white skeeter-killing mist. Most of the chasers trailed off after a few yards, staggering to the comfort of a grassy front yard, exhausted and probably overcome by fumes, but the older kids equipped with longer legs, stronger lungs, and presumably immune to mosquito killer gas, kept up the chase as if a trophy would be awarded when the truck turned the corner at the hilltop of my street, Sheffield Drive.

When the truck cleared the neighborhood, those fearless daredevils strolled back down

the street as conquering heroes to their awaiting admiring fans. Some coughing, a little pre-puke gagging, and red, watery eyes were small prices to pay for such adulation. In the distance, the rattling engine sound faded, and the thick fog of bug death was carried away by the breeze. As quickly as it had appeared, the mosquito truck was gone until next summer.

What was in that stuff? Who knows? Look it up. Newspaper notices and automated

phone calls of today have given the spraying an ominous reputation backed by many years of

scientific studies. But it wasn’t that deadly to our super blood suckers, as I frequently still came home with raised red welts after a game of ring-up, camping in the back yard, or an expedition into the woods. Despite the flying bug fogger’s efforts, my mom kept plenty of alcohol and cotton balls on hand at all times.

Speaking of the adults, I know you’re wondering, “Where were they?” Well, as I’ve said

before, they really were great parents and did their best to keep us safe. Moms, dads, and

assorted older siblings kept an eye on all of us, and miraculously shepherded all of us safely into adulthood. They just didn’t know of future side effects of just about everything looming in those days, and the mosquito truck was not a high threat priority in their list of kid dangers in the sixties. They just trusted those in authority. Trying to stop a delirious single-minded throng of baby boomer kids from running after anything that bizarre on a hot summer night would have been like trying to chase chickens anyway. I guess they could have locked us in the house and shuttered the windows, but that would contradict their almost daily command to go outside and find something to do. Maybe some higher governmental power was keeping a big secret, but as far as I know, none of us suffered any long-lasting harm from the mystery killer fog. Evidently, the mosquitoes weren’t too affected either, as today, there’s a whole new set of mosquito-related illnesses to worry about each season. Ah, ignorance was bliss in those hazy, crazy days of summer!

“Hey, Dad, Do You Wanna Have a Catch?”

- Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, from Field of Dreams

By Bill McCloskey

I was cleaning out my shed and came across my baseball bag, a canvas duffel holding a

collection of cleats, balls, bats, and my two surviving Wilson gloves – all fairly recent

remnants of my futile attempt at reviving my adult men’s softball league career.

The discovery of the gloves like I had done every spring since I was a kid led me to an

instinctive act that is echoed by actor Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson when he asks

Kinsella, “Did you ever hold a ball or glove to your face?” For me that quote evokes the feel

and smell of those well-worn friends who carry the smooth oiled leather of a “broken-in”

glove, and the dirt smudges and grass stains on the ball from a thousand infields and

outfields. As I hypnotically slip on that mitt, pop it with my fist, slap the ball into the

webbing, each instinctive sound is the call of a ball player looking to have a catch.

Such a simply beautiful act, really, and for those of us who know the experience, one

with a deeper personal meaning – a comforting joyous moment from the past that we can live

over and over again the minute you hear those amazing words – spring training. Yes, it is

hard to explain the power of just tossing a ball back and forth, but there must be some magic

at work there as each time, the “having a catch” faces and places come rushing back in

incredible sensory detail. Working on my wicked curve ball and disappearing sinker with

pals, catching sky-high pop ups and fielding skittering ground balls with my dad, and now

throwing in my yard with my own kids and hopefully, someday, my grandkids.

Yeah, something magical.

Pre-order Today! The Guild's book, The Writers' Guild of Delco Volume 2, is available for purchase. Featuring poems & short stories, this collection offers fresh, local voices. Place an order by emailing: 

Writers Guild of DELCO