The Wild Things’ Foster Mom

“Where’s the baby? She has to be here somewhere.” Donna Bungo knows this because when she packed the insulated cooler this morning, there were four. And now there are only three. There’s no way one escaped, at least she doesn’t think so. Casually alarmed, she carefully culls the covers, her old flannel pajamas, until she comes up with the critter. She playfully scolds her five-week-old charges and cuddles the sleepy-eyed squirrel who almost beat her at hide-and-seek. It’s not easy being a foster mother; Donna’s been bottle-feeding this brood since they were two-week-old butt-ugly baldies …

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The Petal Pushers

The sweeping starts with the first blush of spring. In the beginning, it’s whisper soft. But as the roses bloom and their fragrant petals stoop to kiss the pavement, it takes on a frantic urgency. Sweep, sweep, sweep. SweepSweepSweep. All those plunging petals and so little time to get them up! SweepSweepSweep the sidewalks clean. Before long, the Petal Pushers, in housecoats and hair curlers, in pumps and pearls, are in full spring swing. Like crocuses popping up out of the ground, they burst out of their houses armed with dust pans and whisk brooms ready to free the …

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The Memory Keeper

On the gleaming coffee table in the surgically spotless living room, there are only three items: a scrapbook, a binder and a pamphlet. They’re lined up like soldiers standing at attention. Beatrice Frish, a white-haired woman with blue eyes and an ear-to-ear smile who wouldn’t top five feet even in stilettos, unfastens the white ribbon of the scrapbook and starts flipping through the pages. Things begin on Aug. 13, 1874. That’s when her maternal grandparents got married. Beatrice — “mostly I’m Bea” — points out the engraved invitation that heralded this auspicious event. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Bea and&…

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The On-the-Ball Pool Player

Who’s that guy? The one at the back of the pool hall. See him? You can’t miss him. He’s the big dude, the one with the scary scorpion inked on his arm and the spiky porcupine hair the color of the 8 ball he just sent flying across the felt like a meteor. Before the answer comes, he trains his eye on the nine ball. He’s right on the money. He pockets it and cashes in. Alaska. That’s what everyone calls him. If you’re gonna be a big-time pool player, ya needa nickname. Alaska’s …

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