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Night Of Living Hell by Paula M Shackleford This is a story I wrote a couple of years ago about a girl who is waiting outside the cine... [1,227 words]
The Lesser Evil by Nan Deyo “You ain’t tellin’ me my babies is dead.” She was crouched on the foul and reeking stairs, arm... [3,778 words]
Family Genes Considered
Glass by Shelley J Alongi About the thoughts and reactions of a little girl viewing a riot taking place in a street in Germany duri... [1,021 words]
The Woman by Shelley J Alongi About the last moments of a woman who perishes in an Auschwitz death chamber and how one person's mem... [790 words]
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The Sweater by Jennifer M Haynes Andy finds his dead brother's body in the backyard, and takes the sweater to see if he can catch th... [500 words]
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TITLE (EDIT)
Family Genes Considered
DESCRIPTION
A story that is unfortunately, much closer to the truth than not. Although the main character is fictional, the relatives described are quite real, which gives me reason to often ponder my own destiny.
[1,198 words]
AUTHOR
Richard Koss
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Koss, other titles
[November 2001]
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
taxtime@ameritech.net
AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (47)
904 North (Poetry) A tale in verse form about a middle-aged musician/writer down on his luck and recently divorced (again) who moves into a high rise apartment on the ninth floor, which happens to be the same suite a yo... [1,479 words]
A New Perspective (Essays) A different perspective on the 911 tragedy and its aftermath. [614 words]
Are We There Yet? (Essays) An essay I never thought I'd have to write followed by a question I never thought I would have to ask. [1,013 words]
Asleep At Last (Poetry) A man in a hospital bed is having difficulty falling asleep, but he soon will... [152 words]
Bad Boy (Short Stories) A true story about a bad boy growing up in 1950. Was he just mischievous? Would his behavior be considered bad today? [2,844 words]
Charlie And Mrs. Miller (Short Stories) A very short story about an old woman on her death bed whose last request is to see an old friend, much to the surprise of her daughters and granddaughters. [585 words]
Deja Vu (Poetry) In times like these, pacifists come out of the woodwork. This poem was written in anticipation of what we can expect from them. [106 words]
Empty Closets (Poetry) A poem which no doubt, is controversial. I'm sure many will consider it homophobic, (a stupid word) but if liberals are sincere in their belief that everyone is entitled to free speech and opinions, t... [223 words]
Fatal Perception (Short Stories) An off-beat tale about an aging song writer who perceives he is being stalked by a strange little man. [2,959 words]
Goodbye America (Essays) An essay written by an aging writer who no longer understands the country in which he lives. [662 words]
Hooked (Short Stories) A short short story originally started as a poem, about a man's obsession with a special kind of woman. (Revised June 2001) [323 words] [Fantasy]
How To Fool Most Of The People Most Of The Time (Essays) An essay commenting on the recent election results. [1,530 words]
Know It? - I Wrote It (Short Stories) This is a funny, perhaps silly, outrageous story. I'm not sure of its exact origin, but I must forewarn you. I don't generally make use of extreme vulgarity or profanity in my writing, but in this c... [663 words]
Lost And Found (Poetry) A poem that was originally written as a lyric several years ago for a country western song. [156 words]
Madelaine (Short Stories) An eerie tale set in the modern day Pacific Northwest about a family's nightmarish encounter with a character from a legend with a darkside. [8,451 words]
Moral Values - Who Needs Them? (Essays) An essay. [771 words]
Muriel's Funeral (Short Stories) Imagine yourself dead and observing your own funeral What would you expect to see? You might be surprised. [736 words]
My Three Loves (Poetry) A poem about the three things in life that keep a man going. (At least from one man's perspective.) [101 words]
My Wife Is Missing (Poetry) A poem (well sort of a poem) which raises the question of who is most dear to us. [117 words] [Relationships]
Nostalgic On A Bridge To Nowhere (Poetry) A nostalgic view of the life of a man in his twilight years. [369 words]
Over A Hundred Years Later Nothing New About Progressives (Essays) An essay revealing the fact that progressives haven't progressed much in over a hundred years. [1,317 words]
Please Read My Poem - Again (Poetry) The inspiration for this poem came to me after reading several poems (good and bad) posted on Storymania, as well as their reviews. The poem is directed primarily at the very young, talented writers w... [195 words]
Raindrops (Short Stories) Ever think twice about shopping alone at night. You should - especially if you're a pretty woman. [1,469 words]
Requiem For A Bodybuilder (Poetry) What happens to bodybuilders when they cease pumping iron? [54 words]
Save The Planet – More Fiction Than Fact (Essays) An essay. [1,537 words]
Shirley's Angel (Short Stories) A Christmas story: In the final analysis, we may discover that we love someone because of their vulnerability, rather than in spite of it. [2,228 words]
Still Unsolved (Short Stories) A successful mystery writer returns to his old home town and recalls an unsolved mystery he never wrote about. [2,136 words]
Symbolism Over Substance – The Liberal Manifesto (Essays) A non-fiction essay about liberal ideology and its influence on today's U.S. and world culture. [1,229 words]
The Absolution Of Margaret (Short Stories) A story about life in the confessional booth of a Catholic church. [549 words]
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The Diversity Mystique (Essays) The ultimate hype of political correctness. [1,083 words]
The Dowry (Short Stories) The Dowry is a story set in or around the year 2020, so I suppose you should consider it science fiction. But it is also a story of romance with the ending more than a mere possibility. [2,448 words]
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The Girl In The Taxi (Short Stories) A shy, young man has an erotic encounter with a strange girl. Is it real or just a dream? [1,493 words] [Erotic]
The Incurable Cynic (Poetry) A man reflects upon his life of cynicism. [143 words]
The Perfect Ending (Short Stories) A tale about a wanna-be writer trying to create a story with the perfect ending. With unsuspecting help from his wife, he succeds, but pays the ultimate price. [642 words]
The Price Of Freedom (2) (Short Stories) A short story. [396 words]
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Victims (Poetry) A satirical poem that tells it like it is. The poem confronts a disturbing trend in our society - transferring blame to others instead of placing it squarely where it belongs. [255 words]
What A Pair (Ex-Husbands And Old Shoes) (Poetry) A symbolic poem comparing ex-husbands and old shoes. Some women divorce their husbands, expecting to find something better, only to realize eventually, that the grass is not always greener. [326 words]
What’S Wrong With Assimilation? (Essays) This essay was originally written in 2006 when the Senate was considering an Immigration reform bill, which of course, was not passed. [453 words]
While The Iron's Hot (Short Stories) The story of a woman, a victim of spousal abuse, and her solution to the problem. [774 words] [Relationships]
Wisdom - Lost With Tradition (Essays) An essay which compares the concept of traditional wisdom with the minds of today's intellectual elitists. [500 words]
Family Genes Considered
Richard Koss

     It is common knowledge that genes transmit hereditary characteristics such as facial features, height, the color of our eyes, hair and skin, and of course, intelligence levels. There are also theories well supported, indicating that strengths and weaknesses relating to our immune systems are also passed on through genetics, accounting for family histories of cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses and diseases, or in some families, a near complete absence of such life threatening conditions.

     But what about our propensity for certain behavior? What about people who are accident prone? How about people who are habitually careless or negligent or do dumb things that get them into trouble. Are these tendencies also passed on through our genes? Many people think they are. After reading this story, you may very well agree.




Family Genes Considered

     Marcia broke the silence as they headed for home after leaving the doctor’s office.

     “Look at you. This whole damn thing didn’t even faze you. I’ve been a nervous wreck for days worrying about the results of your tests and you act like you just came from the dentist. You should go right to church and get down on your hands and knees and thank God. This was a warning Billy. You’ve got to quit smoking now. Not tomorrow, not next week, right now!”

     Marcia was delivering another sermon again, but this time she was right. The coughing and breathing problems showed up on his x-rays and although the biopsy was negative, Billy knew his respiratory problems would continue to get worse if he didn’t quit.

     “Did you see the look on Doctor Forsythe’s face when you started rattling off your family’s weird history of unnatural deaths. Then you tell him that you’re positive you won’t die from anything so mundane such as lung cancer or heart trouble. As if that makes it okay for you to keep smoking and drinking the way you do.”

     Billy continued to drive with a smirk on his face. He didn’t respond to Marcia’s sermon. What could he say? She was right.



     Marcia hated it when he told people about all the strange and accidental deaths in his family. She got especially upset when he bragged that he was never going to die of cancer or heart disease because like most of his father’s family, he was destined to die of unnatural causes.

     She felt embarrassed when he said these things to people he hardly knew and even more so, when he told them to Doctor Forsythe.

     Yes, Marcia was pissed and he better not light up a cigarette in front of her. Maybe he would really quit now. We’ll see, he thought.
   
     They got home and Marcia slammed her car door and walked briskly into the house without waiting for Billy to get out of the car. By the time Billy finally lagged in and sat down on the couch, Marcia had already gone into the bathroom.

     She was right, Billy thought. He did sound kind of ridiculous bragging about his goofy relatives and the way they escaped death from dreaded illnesses like cancer and heart disease by killing themselves in stupid ways. “Cancer and heart trouble are strictly a matter of genetics,” his uncle Joe used to say. “If they’re not in your family genes, you probably won’t get ‘em either.” But how do you know if these diseases are in your family genes when your relatives don’t live long enough for them to show up?

     Poor uncle Joe. He decided to start riding a motorcycle again at age 54 and ended up underneath a 16 wheeler on the freeway.

     Billy began to think about the others - His dad’s younger half-brother Theodore, who at fourteen, was killed when he fell under the farm tractor he was riding. And his dad’s cousin Al who hanged himself at thirty-seven.

    Then there was uncle Billy, his namesake, who died in a plane crash at about forty; and his other uncle Louie who got mistaken for a duck while on a hunting trip.

     And of course Billy’s own father Eddie, who drowned at seventy-seven. He was fishing in a small aluminum boat when a Lake Erie storm kicked up suddenly. And there were several other relatives from prior generations who died in accidents and mishaps of one sort or another.
 
     Marcia came out of the bathroom and stood in front of Billy, looking at him sadly. “Please tell me this has at least put a scare into you. If you care about me and the kids, you’ll quit smoking and cut down on your drinking.”

     Billy got up and put his arms around Marcia, kissing her sweetly on the lips. “Okay babe, you’re right. It’s time for me to change.” Then he started walking toward the kitchen and the outside door.

     “Now where’re you going?” Marcia gave him a suspicious look.

     “I have to get the propane tank filled if we’re going to cook out. We are going to cook out, aren't we?”

     “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We’ve got four beautiful strip steaks. The kids’ll be home about six so please don’t stop anywhere.”

     “You need anything from the store?”

     “No, I don’t think so.” Marcia finally smiled that cute smile of hers. She really loved Billy and could never stay mad at him.

     As his car reached the stop sign at the end of their street, Billy reached under his seat but he couldn’t find what he wanted. He opened his door and stuck his head down, looking under the seat. He saw the pack of cigarettes way under the seat and cursed out loud as he scraped his hand retrieving the pack.

     He would wait until he got on the freeway. He didn’t want a nosy neighbor to spot him smoking. They all knew Marcia too well.

     Billy was well along on the freeway with a cigarette in his mouth, but he couldn’t find his lighter. He got off at the Miller road exit and started up the hill, about three miles from the propane shop. Half way up the steep, two lane road, he reached to open the glove compartment. If Marcia didn’t throw it out, the car cigarette lighter was still in there where he hid it.

     With his left hand on the wheel, he stretched across the seat trying to feel inside the glove compartment. His left hand slipped off the steering wheel for an instant - just long enough for his car to drift across the double yellow line as it reached the top of the hill.

     Startled by the deep baritone-like horn blast, Billy looked up with the unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth. There was no time to react. There were no final thoughts; no visions of his life flashing before him. He saw only big, ominous teeth - the teeth of a grille. The grille of a huge Mack truck about to devour him.

     When 85 year-old aunt Ceil, uncle Louie’s widow, was told of Billy’s
tragic death, she replied. “I feel bad for Marcia, but family genes considered, quite a natural ending. Wouldn’t you say?”

 

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE
© 2000 Richard Koss
STORYMANIA PUBLICATION DATE
July 2000
NUMBER OF TIMES TITLE VIEWED
1917
 

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