Poor Girl (III)

Poor Girl

Part Three

By Brian M. Van Hise

 

It was a good thing I had taken out the tent set from the back trunk the week before. Usually I procrastinate those kinds of things. Linda and I had spent two nights in the mountains, our first time using the tent that I had bought on impulse three years earlier. We left for the mountains eager to get some R&R (Linda works as a county commissioner, which tends to be a stressful job for her), but came down the mountain full of mosquito bites and unsettled arguments. The whole trip probably added more stress actually.

 

The dead woman’s body fit comfortably in the trunk, in between the tire jack and plastic bag of empty water bottles I had meant to take down to the recycling center. I gave the poor girl one last glance before slamming the trunk shut and carrying on with the night’s mission.

 

I found Drainer’s house with relative ease, even with one headlight busted and the rain coming down harder than ever. Linda’s SUV was parked about a block away, probably her only major effort to try to conceal her devious actions. I parked in front of his neighbor’s house, next to the sidewalk she would have to take to reach her car. I turned off the ignition and rolled up the window, sitting in darkness, watching the light from his front porch scatter and bend through the rain.

 

I had a moment to reflect a bit, to better understand what it was that was unfolding now. I didn’t think for one moment about the dead girl in the trunk. Rather, simply found myself peering up to that porch light and thinking what lay beyond, behind the walls of that house. Which room were they in now? Top floor or bottom? Did they even find a bedroom for their tryst or would the living room sofa or kitchen counter suffice? Each time I blinked, I saw his face…that ugly airbrushed, studio pic Jack Drainer used for all of his real estate ads.

 

I didn’t know what to think. Should I prepare what to say when confronting her? Should I let anger take over or calm, collectiveness? I wish I had a copy of Psychology Today in the car. Maybe an answer would be there.

 

Was the affair Linda’s way of reaching a better balance in her life? Had she read an article somewhere that suggested sleeping with your real estate agent was a better way to achieve balance?

 

I was in mid-thought when I saw the front door open and Linda stammer out. I say stammer because she was livid. Stomping her feet and not caring about getting herself wet, she turned around to whoever was still inside and, though I couldn’t make out the words, there was no denying their meaning. She was pissed at something.

 

I moved my head slightly from left to right, gazing through the rain trying to catch more of what was happening.

 

Then Linda started walking down the driveway and when she reached the sidewalk, she turned my way.

 

I sat up straight and watched as she came closer. Behind her, the door closed and that front porch light clicked off.

 

I watched as my wife unknowingly approached me, shuffling about in the storm, testing the durability of her heels. She made no effort to shield the rain.

 

Then she saw my car, at least, I could tell she had a moment of recognition. Certainly the broken headlight and whatever damage there was to the fender made her take pause, but once her eyes moved about and she saw me, sitting there behind the wheel, she had her affirmation.

 

I swallowed, then leaned over and unlocked the door. I pushed it open for her and said: “Get in” before she was close enough to hear me.

 

Linda lowered her head and looked at me through the passenger. She didn’t say anything at first. She knew I knew of course. And there was nothing for her to say.

 

“Get in,” I repeated.

 

She climbed in and closed the door. Soon we were on the road.

 

“We’ll pick up your car tomorrow,” I said. “I can take you on my way in.”

 

I looked over at her.

Her eyes were pointed forward. She looked quite still on the outside. I could only imagine how fast her heart must have been beating then, how, just under the surface of her skin, her systems were in overload.

 

Finally, she spoke.

 

“What happened to the headlight?”

 

She kept looking forward.

 

“The headlight?”

“Yes. It’s broken. Don’t you know?”

 

“I…hit a deer.”

 

Then she turned to look at me.

 

“You what?”

“You heard me. I hit a deer.”

 

“Here? In the city?”

 

“Yes. Just 20 minutes ago.”

 

She faced forward again. “You hit a deer?” she said again under her breath.

 

Just then I could hear a muffled thump come from behind me. And then twice: thump-thump!

 

Linda looked to the back seat. “What was that?”

 

“What was what?”

 

“That sound. A thumping sound.”

 

thump-thump!

 

“There it is again. What is that?” She began to claw around in the back seat, leaning her body over. She picked up the squeegee and poked around in the darkness behind the seats.

 

“Goddamn deer probably knocked something loose on the undercarriage. I’ll check it out tomorrow.”

“I don’t think it’s the undercarriage.”

 

And then a LOUD thump-thump-thump-THUMP!

 

Linda sat up straight and looked at me. I stopped the car and swallowed hard.

 

Maybe that deer wasn’t dead after all.

 

To be continued…

Poor Girl Car

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Poor Girl (II)

Poor Girl

Part Two

By: Brian M. Van Hise

 

She left first but it wasn’t important for me to follow her since I knew where Drainer lived already. He lived in the Vista West subdivision, just past the creek and small forest which separated our homes. She left first and took her car, leaving me alone once again.

 

Sometimes stories start in funny ways. Like, “it was a dark and stormy night” or “once upon a time”. My story itself didn’t start with a clever hook like that,  but maybe I could start this part by saying it was, indeed, a dark and stormy night.

 

I backed my car out of the driveway and into the rain, which was pelting heavily on all sides, with no signs of letting up at all. I flipped on the windshield wipers, then quickly remembered they were broken. Fretting, I reached into the back seat to retrieve the window-cleaning squeegee I had lifted from the J&J Texaco on Route 3 earlier in the week. It was just a small bit of thievery. And I had even donated a few bucks to the local MS society fund-raiser the Texaco clerk had suggestively sold me. He made me write my name on a paper-shaped pot-of-gold cutout and when I wrote “Nixon Family” he smiled, showing a snaggle-tooth, and said: “Like the president!” I said I didn’t know as I pushed the pot-of-gold paper back to him and watched him tape it up next to 3 others. It was a $2 donation. Maybe it’s not the exact price of the plastic squeegee, but it made me feel better about stealing it.

 

I rolled down the driver’s side window and rolled up the sleeve on my left arm. This was how to drive in a rain storm, squeegeeing the rain away as it fell, never catching up and always behind. Something like that Sissy-fuss fellow from high school English we learned about.

 

I wasn’t in any particular hurry. I figured it best to actually catch her escaping from his house, so as she wouldn’t try to sweet-talk her way through whatever excuses she could conjure up about the message I’d read. Best to just park right outside his house and wait for her and then confront her about it.

 

I drove quickly down the darkened road, passing through the small wooded area and over the creek that would be gushing with water soon enough, from all the rainfall. There was no one else on the road. It was a Wednesday night after all and maybe all the night owls actually were playing bridge tonight and not out and about. I kept my eyes on the headlights in front of me, a bit transfixed with the constantly falling rain drops. Focusing on just one proved to be impossible as they were falling too fast. I’ve seen those pictures in magazines, not Psychology Today, but others at the newsstand, of high-frame rate cameras capturing a single drop of water splash onto a surface. Too fast for the human eye to see. And yet, we did see it, but just couldn’t slow down our own vision, our own spot in time, to really appreciate it. Still, I wanted to see it, wanted to see each of those rain drops pause in time for the briefest of moments to form that slow-shifting splash onto the hood of my –

 

And then I hit the woman square on, the force of the car thrusting her body forward onto the darkened road ahead. The impact had shattered the passenger-side headlight and by the time I was able to stop the car, I had already rolled once over her body.

 

I sat there, both hands on the wheel. I put the car into reverse and backed up, turning the wheel a bit so as not to crush her head. I focused the remaining headlight onto her limp body. I moved the squeegee quickly back and forth over the windshield to clear up my view. She was a jogger, wearing running clothes. Her bloody hand was clutching her MP3 player and I could see the headphone wires snaking up into the covers of her hoodie. A blond ponytail skirted out from along her shoulder, having come undone by the impact and already beginning to clump up with the dirt from the pavement.

 

I felt bad for the poor girl’s hair getting dirty.

 

I kept the car running and looked at my watch. By now, Linda was probably well into her session with Jack Drainer. If I was going to confront her, I needed to get going.

 

I looked back at the dead, helpless woman I had hit. I would have to deal with her later.

 

I reached over with my left hand and popped the trunk.

 

To be continued…

Poor Girl Car

 

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Poor Girl (1)

Back in 2007(ish) I used to enjoy short story writing on my blog. I would think of an idea during the day at work, and then go home at night and write a little and upload. Leaving a cliffhanger, I would spend the next day thinking about how to take the story further, then write another segment that evening. This would continue for a few consecutive days until the story was complete. Often times, I would not know exactly where the story was headed even after starting it. In that fashion, I’d like to again serialize some new short fiction in this way.

This story is a re-telling, re-write of a story I wrote back in 2007. I don’t have the original, but I remember the story and always enjoyed it. It’s called Poor Girl and here’s part one:

 

POOR GIRL

Part One

By: Brian M. Van Hise

 

My name is Lester Nixon and my wife had been having an affair for nearly two months before I found out and confronted her and her lover over it. In hindsight, it’s hard to know why I hadn’t suspected anything. But, as is the case, it eventually became known and then led to a very fateful night between us.

 

Lester Nixon. Like the president. The Nixon part, not Lester.

 

She used to say it was bridge night with the girls and that she was usually at Marcella’s house or The Hockstetters place. I never called to check. Had no reason to doubt her. It wasn’t until one evening when she was taking an early shower and had left her phone on the kitchen counter. I was in the living room, watching the last of the WWE World Championship Live from Vegas and fingering the remnants of Cheetos residue from the ceramic bowl, part of a set that Linda’s mother had given us for our wedding.

 

It’s not often her phone rings without her around. She must have just forgotten it this time. So, there it was buzzing and ringing, scuttling across the kitchen counter to nowhere in particular. That’s when I realized that I could return the empty Cheetos bowl to the kitchen and check to see who was calling all at once. One bird. Two stones. Something like that.

 

I picked up the phone with my left hand, something I’d been trying to do more often lately–using my unfavored hand for more tasks. I read an article in Psychology Today that said if you trained yourself to be ambidextrous it could lead to more balance in life. Maybe more balance is what we all need.

 

Holding the phone in my hand I was at first a bit surprised to see his name surface: Jack Drainer. He was our realtor when we closed on the house last March. Nice guy but had a phony smile and a strange handshake. I remember his two smaller fingers gripping tightly while his index and middle finger had just sat there limply, doing nothing at all. Maybe next time I would offer my left hand and see what he thought.

 

Why would Jack Drainer be calling my wife at eight o’clock on a Wednesday night?

 

The buzzing stopped and I pushed the phone aside and ran the empty Cheetos bowl to the sink. Even though I had eaten everything, Linda didn’t like it if I didn’t at least rinse out the bowls and cups I used. Sometimes Cheetos can stain, so I knew she’d kill me if I didn’t do it.

 

A moment later her phone buzzed once.

 

An incoming message.

 

Drying my hands, I walked over again to her phone and picked it up (left-hand, getting good!). A message from Drainer: “U coming over soon?”

 

I listened for the shower in our upstairs bedroom. I don’t know if it’s possible to listen with one ear over the other or if that creates balance in life like Psychology Today says, but I kept my focus on that upstairs bathroom nonetheless and realized that the shower had stopped.

 

I lowered the phone to the kitchen counter. The message vanished off the screen and transformed into a small blinking green light. My left hand. It was shaking a bit now. Just a slight tremble as my body slowly came to realize what Wednesday night bridge nights really meant. I swallowed, feeling just a slight aftertaste of Cheeto bits dislodging in-between my teeth. The WWE credits had finished rolling and had been replaced with a commercial for life insurance.

 

Just then a voice called out from our bedroom.

 

“Hon, can you get me an extra towel from the dryer? I did the wash earlier.”

 

At first I couldn’t move. She’s having an affair. She’s going to meet him tonight.

 

I drummed my left hand over the counter, eager to do something to keep it from trembling.

 

“Hon?” Linda’s voice called out again.

 

I needed more time to think things through.

 

“Um…yes. Yes. I’ll get one.” I called out.

 

“I want to get to bridge club early tonight,” she responded.


She wants to get there early. The early bird. And a worm. Something like that.

 

To be continued…

Poor Girl Car

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Copyright & Plagiarism in South Korea

star4

한국어로 아래를 참고 하세요

Last night I caught the last few minutes of the Korean drama 별그대 and noticed SBS Broadcasting made use of Bruno Mars’ “Marry You” song. I was curious if SBS had permission to use the song, so I asked a Korean friend of mine. She was slightly offended by my inquiry, saying essentially: “What do you take Korea for?” Her rationale was, SBS is a huge broadcaster, so of course obtained permissions first.  However, at the end of the episode, I only saw credits to the show’s sponsors and no rights credits given.

The reason I’m curious is, there’s a Victoria’s Secret store in Daegu now. It’s obviously not an authorized retailer and sells marked up items smuggled in through customs. My question is, how did the business owner get a license from the city to open shop under the name “Victoria’s Secret”? Most likely, the city is just turning a blind eye to it.

These kind of shops utilize travelers  to buy Victoria’s Secrets products and bring them back as they return to Korea. The markup is huge. A single bra will run $150.

I spoke with another Korean friend this morning who essentially said that plagiarism just isn’t on the public conscience yet here in Korea and I found this article online today addressing this further.

Here’s an excerpt:

Mr. Kim is a graduate student at Korea University who asked to be identified only by his family name. He says Koreans may not have a well-established understanding of plagiarism. He attended schools in the United States and says Americans seemed to understand that claiming other people’s work as their own is wrong.

MR. KIM: “In Korea, that history may not be as long. So there still isn’t a huge consensus, in general, amongst all Koreans as to what plagiarism actually means. What is the extent of plagiarism and whether plagiarism itself is acceptable or not.”

To Korea’s credit, I remember, a few years ago Olleh Mobile ran a series of commercials using Star Wars characters. There was a clear copyright notice at the bottom of the commercials, which was nice to see:

I’m curious to know if anyone can tell me if major broadcasters, like SBS, do give proper credit/receive permissions to use music like they did last night.

Your thoughts?

어젯밤에 별에서 온 그대 20회 끝에 Bruno Mars의 “Marry You”  노래를 나왔다. 그런데 끝까지 보면 그 노래 사용하는 허락을 못 봤다. 저작권 침해이다? 궁금해서 내 친구에세 물어보고  “응 공인방송을 그럴거야”…”대체 한국을 뭘로보는거니”라고 대답했다. SBS 큰 방송국이라서 그렇게 절대로 안한다고 주장했다.

대구에 Victoria’s Secret 가게를 새로 생겼지만 구매대행이다. 분명하게 공인되지 않은 매장이다. 어떻게 매장 주인이 대구광역시에서 사업허가증을 받은지 모르다. 어떻게? 내가 진짜 궁금한다.

다른 한국 친구가 대부분 한국사람들이 표절의식이 없다고 말했다. 학교에서도 표절이 특별한 문제아니라고 말했다.

한국친구 여러분 어떻게 생각해요?

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More TOEIC Cheating Exposed…This Time Using Wireless Image Transmitters

Here’s a translation I just completed from Korean into English concerning a recent cheating incident for the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) exam, held in Korea late last year. This exam is crucial for many job-hunters, as a high TOEIC score puts an applicant above others. Many large companies here in Korea won’t even look applicants with scores under 900 points (out of a possible 990). Thus, competition for getting good scores is huge…

…as are the methods and money spent on cheating.

Original Story Link:

http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&oid=001&aid=0006687452&sid1=001&lfrom=facebook

 

토익 부정행위 또 적발…이번엔 무선 영상 송신장치

| 기사입력 2014-01-07 13:42 | 최종수정 2014-01-07 13:47

More TOEIC Cheating Exposed…This Time Using Wireless Image Transmitters

옷 속에 넣어 실시간 전송…경찰 “다른 시험에 응용 우려”

Hidden inside clothing and transmitting in real time…Police fear use on other tests.

 

(부산=연합뉴스) 박창수 기자 = 토익(TOEIC) 부정행위가 또 적발됐다. 이번에는 영상 무선 송·수신장치를 이용한 것으로 이전보다 진화된 수법이다.

(Busan — Yonhap News) Chang-su Park, reporter = Cheating on the TOEIC exam has again surfaced, this time using a sending/receiving image transmitting device and showing the evolution of such methods over the past.

부산경찰청 국제범죄수사대는 7일 무선으로 영상을 주고받을 수 있는 장치를 이용해 토익 부정행위를 알선한 혐의(업무방해)로 정모(33)씨를 구속하고 일당 이모(31)씨를 불구속 입건했다.

The Busan International Crime Investigations Unit arrested 33 year-old Jeong on January 7th under suspicion of obstruction charges for using an image transmitting/receiving device during the TOEIC exam, while his 31 year-old partner, Lee, was booked without detention.

이들에게 돈을 주고 부정 시험을 치른 김모(25)씨 등 6명도 불구속 입건됐다.

After giving money to these two, 25 year-old test taker Kim, as well as 6 others, were indicted without being detained.

정씨는 인터넷에서 모집한 응시생으로부터 1인당 300만원을 받기로 하고 부정행위를 주도했다.

Jeong, ringmaster of the cheating scheme, arranged online for test applicants to pay 3 million KRW ($2,800) per head.

고교에서 전기학을 공부한 정씨는 전자상가에서 부품을 사들여 실시간으로 시험 장면을 외부로 송출할 수 있는 소형 장치를 만들었다.

Jeong, who studied electronics in high school, built a small device, using parts found at an electronics store, which could transmit in real-time during the test.

토익 고득점자인 이씨는 이 장치를 패딩 점퍼 옷깃 안에 넣어 고사장에서 문제를 풀었고, 이 영상은 실시간으로 외부로 전송됐다.

TOEIC high-scorer Lee hid the device inside the padding of his jacket, went to the testing hall, and proceeded to answer the test questions while sending out images of his answers.

*

고사장 밖에 있던 정씨가 이씨의 답안을 무선 송신기로 응시생에게 전달하는 수법으로 부정행위는 이뤄졌다.

Outside the testing hall, Jeong received Lee’s answers by wireless transmitter and cheated by passing on the answers to the participants in the scam.

이들이 응시한 시험은 지난해 12월 29일 치러진 262회 시험으로 제출한 답안은 모두 무효 처리됐다. 취업준비생과 이직을 고려 중인 직장인 등이 부정행위에 가담했다.

All test papers of the cheating participants of the 262nd TOEIC test taken on December 29th of last year have been nullified and disposed of. New job seekers and those changing jobs were among those involved in the cheating.

그동안 토익 부정행위는 스마트폰과 관련 애플리케이션을 응용해 이뤄졌지만 무선 송·수신장치를 이용한 것은 이번이 처음이다.

In the past, forms of cheating for the TOEIC have involved smart phones and related apps, but this is the first instance of wireless transmitters/receivers being used.

정씨는 “송·수신기를 작게 만들면 굳이 스마트폰을 이용하지 않고도 고득점자의 답안을 받아 낼 수 있을 것 같아 이런 장치를 만들었다”고 진술했다.

Jeong stated: “I made small receivers and transmitters which had no use with smartphones and could rely on a good test taker’s answer sheet to be extracted. I made this device.”

조중혁 국제범죄수사대장은 “이 장치를 이용하면 적발되기 쉬운 스마트폰을 소지하지 않고도 시험문제와 답안을 고사장 밖으로 보낼 수 있기 때문에 국가고시 등 다른 시험에 악용될 우려가 있다”고 말했다.

Jung-Hyuk Jo, Chief of the International Crime Investigation Unit, said: “The revelation of this kind of device, over simply possessing a smartphone, that can transmit test answers outside the test hall raises concerns of further test abuses of national standardized tests.”

경찰은 스마트폰, 사진 자동전송 앱, 초소형 수신장치 등을 동원해 지난해 10월 27일 부정하게 토익을 치른 일당 8명을 추가로 검거해 입건했다.

On October 27th of last year, police rounded up and arrested an additional group of 8 test takers who illicitly used smartphones, automatic photo-transmitting apps, and mini transmitting devices during the TOEIC test.

당시 일당은 멀쩡한 팔에 깁스하고 그 안에 스마트폰을 숨겨 답안을 외부로 유출했다. 이들은 무선 수신 장치로 고득점자의 답안을 전달받는 식으로 부정행위를 하다 적발됐다.

In that case, they concealed smartphones under fake arm casts and leaked the test answers. Their cheating was exposed using wireless receivers to get the test answers from a high-scoring test-taker.

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Daegu Convention Bureau Article

I’ve been doing some work for the Daegu Convention Bureau these past few months. Here’s a few links to some of the pieces I’ve written for them:

NC Outlet Mall

Electron Mart

Summer Food

And here’s their main site: http://eng.daegucvb.com/visitor/main/

 

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What Else Could It Be?: One reason why we don’t need God(s)

tide-tables-a-2I recently had an exchange with a co-worker who is a fundamentalist Christian. She believes in the literal word of the Bible. Believes that the Earth was created by the Genesis account. Believes in Adam and Eve and Noah. Believes the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and so on.

Being a non-believer (of any faith), I tried engaging her in a friendly debate of logic and reasoning and realized we both “connect the dots” of reality in different ways. Regarding the origins of the universe she smiled and said: “Well, what else could it be?”

It struck me that she would say that. If she can’t fathom how a universe could create itself than it must be her God that did it. I kept thinking about this idea and reached this conclusion:

Imagine we lived 2,500 years ago and were walking about. Above us, dark clouds started to form and soon a lighting and thunderstorm were upon us. A believer in God might say: “God is angry!” after seeing the strikes of lightning and the heavy claps of thunder. “What else could it be?” Now, 2,500 years ago, collective humanity had no knowledge of what happens in our atmosphere when warm air and cool air mix. They had no way in their heads to understand the concept of electro-static discharge in the atmosphere. If one were to travel back in time and explain that to them, they still would not be able to wrap their heads around such an idea.

And yet, we know now that that is where lighting comes from. We can predict it. We can navigate airplanes through it. We can create lightning arresters on the top of high-rise office towers to take a charge instead of damaging other property. Certainly, no one any longer thinks it’s Zeus or Thor creating this.

Let’s look at a more modern example. Let’s look at bacterial infections and how microbiology began in Europe in the 17th Century. At that time, people used to believe that God was plaguing societies and communities because he was angry. At that time, what other reason could it have been? Collective humanity once again, pointed to the question: “What else could it be?” if not God.

But, we invented microscopes. We got a closer look. In the last 100 years we invented antibiotics and penicillins to ward off these infections and keep us healthy. And yet, if one were to go back 400 years and try to explain the concept that we had cells that make up our body and that these cells can get infected by bacterial strains and spread on a microscopic level, common man would not have had any grasp of what you were talking about. They would not have been able to concieve of such a world, the world of micro-biology, existing.

So, let’s return to the present.

Want to argue your God by saying that He had to be the one that created the universe? After all, “What else could it be?” Let’s be honest with ourselves, as collective humanity, and realize there are plenty of examples in our history of things we didn’t understand and, quite frankly, couldn’t understand at the time. Let’s admit that we are at that point now with regards to the cosmos and origins of life and the universe. We simply don’t know and it’s quite possible we can’t fathom the reality of how it all began yet.

And perhaps, a few hundred years in the future, modern man will chuckle a bit when thinking about how those of us in the 21st century couldn’t understand a piece of knowledge commonly understood in our future. Just the same way we chuckle at the idea that people really believed in Thor.

“What else could it be?” you ask? I don’t know. But, let’s stop blaming it on God and actually try to figure it out.

Bill O’Reilly addressing scientific ignorance:

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s beautiful response:

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