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ENCHANTÉ – Grandpa’s Twenty Percent

Ever invited to lunch to celebrate the tenth birthday of your grandson? Well, we were. So, Grandma and Grandpa trot to the restaurant. Grandson Preston John (PJ for short) is the ‘All-American boy’ who likes to play foot, basket, and baseball (the sports his father likes). He’s actually quite good at it (his Grandpa being a Dutchman likes soccer better and has never been able to understand American football with those harnessed bulky guys tumbling over each other all the time). PJ’s eight-year-old sister Sadie likes soccer too, even makes goals, but is more into ballet dancing. PJ is reportedly good at math but doesn’t like reading books (his dad doesn’t either), this to this writing Grandpa’s chagrin. But I am digressing.

Grandpa, having been invited, ordered some kind of overpriced steak salade with French fries, a meal on the menu that reminded him of his old Brussels’ times where the weather is always gray too. Had he known he had to pay the bill even though invited, he would have ordered just a plain chicken soup. Anyway, toward the end of the chatty lunch, Grandma signals with her handy fingers (so that everybody sees it) Grandpa has to pay the bill. Up he goes, but on his way to the cashier (his daughter – ‘Aunty Sammie’- says she checked it for correctness – how nice these kids are), he is ‘accosted’ by PJ:

In so many words PJ says, “You must give twenty percent.”

“Give twenty percent? What for? Who says?”

“My Dad.”

“Is he paying the bill, then?” Grandpa asks.

“No, you pay.”

“You know what that means, give twenty percent?”


“A tip for the waiter. But why should I give the waiter money? The bill is already far too high.”

“Daddie likes him.”

“Oh, yeah? So why doesn’t he pay the waiter himself? You know how much that is, twenty percent?”


“How much is twenty percent of say one hundred?”

PJ shifts his feet. No answer.

“I heard you were good at math.”


“How many twenties go into one hundred?”


“Good! So how much then is twenty percent of one hundred?”


“OK, tell your dad I give five dollars tip.”

PJ looks as if he’s being fleeced. He had apparently not learned yet what ‘giving twenty percent’ meant.

“Five times twenty is one hundred, no?” PJ asks, showing doubts.

“Right, you know your tables! So, if five twenties make one hundred, your dad wants to give one of the five twenties to the waiter?”

“Yeah…”PJ says, not sure.

“Let’s go to the cashier. Suzy, this invoice is five twenties, but my grandson PJ wants to give one twenty to the waiter. Is that OK?”

Suzy looks at PJ, who smiles his seductive smile, his eyes shining.

“But PJ, these five twenties are for me. Emilio didn’t cook the meal, he only took it to you guys.”

“My daddie says give twenty percent…”

“Oh, I see, PJ, I’ll add another twenty to the bill to give Emilio his gift, OK?”

PJ nods, not sure if he fully grasps Suzy’s math. Grandpa thinks he sees an educational opportunity.

“PJ,” Grandpa lectures, “percent means per hundred. You see this penny? In Holland, we call it a cent. How many pennies or cents go into a dollar?”

“Hundred!” says PJ, with enthusiasm.

Suzy enters the discussion. She’s a teacher in addition to her fly-by-night waitress job. “So one percent of a dollar is what?”

“A penny!” cries PJ.

“So what is twenty percent of one hundred dollars?”

PJ wonders, his eyes exploring the ceiling. Suzy takes a piece of paper and draws a fraction of 20 dollars divided by 100 hundred dollars multiplied by one hundred dollars. “How much is that?”

“Twenty,” PJ shouts. He knows fractions from class!

“So, what does it mean give twenty percent of this 0ne-hundred dollar bill to Emilio? It means I have to add another twenty dollars to the bill to tip Emilio for his service, not give away one of my twenties. Got it?”

PJ returns to his dad. “Grandpa doesn’t want to give twenty percent. He says you pay it yourself.” He treasures the twenty dollar note Grandma gave him in a small envelope. “Your birthday gift.” The tip seems to click. His dad smiles and tells him to hug Grandpa to thank him for the birthday lunch and he does. How sweet. Then Emilio arrives with a piece of cake and a burning candle, which PJ blows out (or maybe his sister Sadie does, as she sits across, jealous).

Emilio comes by on the way out and high-fives PJ’s dad. “Mucho gracias, Senor!” PJ high-fives him too.

Grandpa doesn’t even get a smile.








Ted and Frank discuss the latest events in the media world while having a beer in their favorite Hullahoo bar.

“I’m going to write a different Killing book, Frank. It’s called Killing Libido.”

“Oh my, why so drastic? Didn’t we all welcome the sexual freedom in the sixties after a century of Victorian torture?”

“Libido has become a monster and been causing havoc in our civilized world to such an extent that he destroys families, lives, whole organizations. No laughing matter.”

“Do you ever feel lust in the workplace?”

“Oh man! I lust the hell out of me, but I’m scared shit they’d say fuck off, or I’ll tell your wife!”

“How does Libido get killed? He’s been alive and well since Paradise.”

“Don’t be funny, Frank. I have an ironclad plan.”

“I hope it’s more innovative than what the priest said when I went to confession, ‘cut it off.’”

“Frank, trust me. It’s going to revolutionize the world.”

“Like Viagra?”

“Much worse. My lab friends have developed the Killing Libido Pill, the KLP for short, and it’ll be mandatory like Obamacare.”

“But people could still avoid signing up for Obamacare by paying a tax.”

“Men won’t be able to get to work or enter their office building unless they swallow the KLP first. Like punching the timeclock entering the workplace. If they don’t, they’ll get no salary or are suspended.”

“So what does this pill really do?”

“It kills Libido big time. A man’s interest in women declines to zero. Their private parts remain inoperative even under the greatest temptation. Shrinks the whole thing to a used rubber. Porn stuff goes bankrupt.”

“What about those guys working from home?”

“Depends on their wives.”

“But what happens when the guys come home from work?”

“Then they can take Viagra again, but only if the wife consents.”

“Gee, Ted, that does sound revolutionary. Women in the office will be so happy to be left alone again. Does that pill have no side effects, you know, like those medicines on TV ads that scare you stiff?”

“Nice figure of speech, Frank. If the guy has a flat longer than a day, even after taking Viagra, he must consult his doctor.”

“And what if the guy has a Viagra-induced erection that stays on until he gets to the workplace again?”

“The KLP will take care of that.”

“And what if guys travel and are away from their wives or partners? You know from experience that loneliness and empty beds drive guys wild.”

“The one thing they don’t know is that we have made the KLP addictive, like nicotine or marihuana. Once you take it your urge to take it again is like your former sex drive. You can’t stop swallowing it. The more KLPs you take, the more addicted you get. You don’t even know what’s happening to you. So, women on foreign soils or women colleagues on field missions will remain safe because the guys’ operative system stays flat. They won’t even ask the girls out for dinner.”

“What about the impact on social life, if women don’t feel wanted anymore?”

“Let’s solve the sex issue first, Frank. If women feel lonely, at least they’ll feel safe. There’s a price to pay.”

“Will insurance reimburse the KLP?”

“Of course.”

“Have you been taking the KLP?”

“Haven’t you seen me ignoring all the gals at the bar today?”

“Yeah, now you say, you’ve been acting rather strange for your doing.”

“I urge you to do the same. The first bottle is free. Here you go.”

“Does it matter if you take them with alcohol?”

“It’ll work twice as fast.”

“I’ll give it a try right now.” Frank swallows a KLP with his beer.

“Hey you guys over there,” Ilene, a lovely blonde, yells. “You’re not offering me a beer anymore?”

“If you want to know,” Ted says, “My Libido is dead. It’s official healthcare policy now. I have no incentive anymore to buy you a beer.”

“And what about you, Frank?”

“Sorry Ilene, I wanted to but just swallowed a KLP, and now I’m out.”

“Gee, you guys are boring.”

“Sure,” Ted says. “But at least you can’t sue me when I’m 80 for having tried to intoxicate you forty years ago.”

Help the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund by ordering a copy of Audrey – A Cherished Memory at http://amzn.to/2BuYKw6

Only US$8 and all proceeds go to the Audrey Fund. Give Audrey a chance!

Soon to come on Amazon.com: Francine, Dazzling Daugther of the Mountain State:

A corporate novel chronicles a young woman’s meteoric rise at a coal mining company. A dramatically taut tale propelled by artful characterization and political relevance – Kirkus Reviews.



Frank and Ted love writing books. Franks writes romantic stories and Ted writes thrillers, and both are self-publishing. Both have sex in their books but they try to keep it above the porn-line. They never show these sex pieces to their writing group to avoid embarrassment, even though their writing group team members are waiting for them with lusting eyes and are utterly frustrated when they don’t get them for critique.

“Sex pays,” Ted says. “But outside the bedroom.”

“There’s an opportunity for a book signing on Brook Street,” Frank says. “An art show. Let’s go there and sell some books.”

They rent a tent and showcase their books on a table with posters.

Art on the Avenue – Alexandria VA October 2017 – www. AlexandriaNews.org

Courtesy George Vercessi (www.vercessi.com)

Frank’s poster shows a wrestler-type torso with a busty girl in his arms, carrying the title, “Lust on Devil’s Island.” He uses the pen name, Franca Bianca, because Romance Writers of America has only female writers who write for women, and stats prove that eighty percent of readers are women.  Most men don’t read as most of them are illiterate morons watching football. Ted’s poster reads, “Killing Joan,” because he writes about the last of many (women) agents who rejected his book. The cover design shows a knife piercing through a crying heart with blood dripping down in large blots. Not very original but blood sells too. Both sell their books at ten dollars a piece.

“If this does not attract people, I’ll be damned,” Frank says, looking at the tent from the street side.

When crowds are filling Brook Street, all patrons pass by and look at other tents instead, selling cheap jewelry, pots and pans, fake antiques, starving artists paintings, dog collars, T-shirts, and popcorn. The tent next to theirs sells party ornaments.

“You should sport a female facemask, Frank, because you ain’t looking like Franca,” Ted says.

“Great idea. And you should wear an O’Reilly facemask because you stole his title series,” Frank says.

“Let’s stand in the middle of the street carrying our posters to attract people to our books,” Ted suggests.

“But I’m not wearing a skirt,” protests Frank.

“Go to that tent over there,” Ted says. “They sell Halloween masks and costumes.”

Frank leaves their tent to follow up on Ted’s bright suggestion. He buys a Hillary mask and a blue plastic skirt, walks back, and dresses up in the back of their tent.

“Did anybody come by to buy my book?” Frank asks.

“Somebody came and asked if that guy with the torso was Arnold Schwartzenegger. When I said ‘yes’ he didn’t buy the book.”

“You should go to that tent too,” Frank says. “They have O’Reilly masks and bloody knives for sale.”

Ted goes while Frank sits with his Hillary mask on, hoping to attract book buyers. One man stops, looks at him, or rather his Hillary mask, comes nearer and gawks at the torso poster. “Is that book about what happened to Hillary?”

“No, it’s about a handsome man like you who shipwrecks on an island in the Pacific and meets the girl of his life in the midst of crocodiles, snakes, donkeys, and elephants.”

“Why do you wear a Hillary mask then?”

“Well, Hillary’s world is devil’s island, don’t you think?”

“I only read non-fiction, thank you.” The guy walks on, leaving Frank frustrated.

Ted comes back with his O’Reilly mask and a few bloody knives. “Sold any books?”

“No. They think my book is about Hillary. I have to buy another mask. You look terrific, O’Reilly.”

Frank walks to the party tent again, buys himself a Melania mask, and hurries back, just in time to see Ted in a furious discussion with a woman.

“How do you dare to show off that womanizer’s face?  Shouldn’t your book be titled, Killing O’Reilly? Shame on you!”

“I guess you didn’t sell any books,” Frank says.

“No. You saw that woman’s reaction. I have to buy another mask.”

Ted leaves for the party tent. Frank dons his Melania mask and waits. A couple loiters in front of him.

“Is that Donald Trump’s torso?” asks the wife.

“No, it’s Tarzan’s,” answers Frank wrily, grumbling through his mask.

“You don’t sound like Melania, she has a foreign accent,” the husband says.

“That accent doesn’t come with the mask,” Frank says. “Buy my book and you’ll find out whose torso it is.”

“My husband doesn’t have a torso like that. That girl in his arms must be scared-shit. Is that Melania what the book is about?”

“Just imagine you as beautiful as you are, left alone on an island with snakes and crocodiles, and a guy with that torso swims ashore, naked, saves your life, takes you in his arms, and makes love to you. Would you not want to read that story?”

“Come on, Elena,” the husband says, pulling her away. “You’ve got other books to read. You haven’t even finished Nora Robert’s latest.”

“Okay, Melania,” the woman says. “I’ll look it up on Amazon. Goodbye…”

Ted comes back with a Bruce Willis Mask and a Die Hard-flagged plastic pistol.

“Sold any books, Frank?”

“No, Melania does not sell because people don’t want her to be pulverized by Donald Trump’s torso. I need another mask.”

Frank leaves for the party tent and Ted reinvents his author bio, waiting for people to come and buy “Killing Joan.”

“Hah,” a man says to Ted. “I hate my wife Joan. Is that a “How to” book?”

“It’s about Joan of Arc, burned at the stakes,” replies Ted. The man walks away, disappointed.

Frank comes back with a Sylvester Stallone mask and a fake carton torso piece. “If this doesn’t do it, I must change genre,” Frank says.

He sits behind the table, watching onlookers passing by, not even looking at them. “We should be more proactive, Ted. Yell at them, ‘Come by and read for pleasure.'”

Frank and Ted yell, but people stare at them as if they’re crazed idiots.

“I repeat: Let’s go on the street with our posters and draw people to our tent,” Ted says.

They leave the tent for the street, Frank with his Sylvestor Stallone face and fake torso, and Ted in his Bruce Willis costume, swaying his Die Hard pistol in the air.

Two cops swerve in front of them, out from nowhere, guns drawn. “Hey, you, you have a weapons permit?”

Curious onlookers are immediately crowding around them. “It’s plastic, man! We’re selling books over there, you see?” Ted responds, pointing frantically to their tent. “We paid one hundred dollars for that piece of junk. Hi everybody, come and buy our books! Half price!”

Throngs of people suddenly stand in line. Frank and Ted sell all their books, emptying their boxes. Even the cops buy a couple.

After the art show, they have a beer at the nearby bar, smiling broadly.

“Frank, you must be goofy, writing those books,” Ted says, wiping the foam off his lips.

“And you must be cracked selling them,” Frank says. “What’s your next book?”

“Killing Frank, and yours?”

“The Kiss That Poisoned Ted.”

Coming Soon:  Francine – Dazzling Daughter of the Mountain State –

Kirkus Reviews: “A corporate novel chronicles a young woman’s meteoric rise at a coal mining company. A dramatically taut tale propelled by artful characterization and political relevance. “

Also coming:

Audrey – A Cherished Memory – A Short Story in print for the benefit of the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.

Customer Reviews on Amazon.com of the 2014 e-book version:

“An engaging story from start to finish. Evocative of a particular time and place but ultimately timeless and universal in touching the human heart.” Mark Spencer

“A pleasant account of an exceptional person. There’s always something poignant about beautiful people recovering from ghastly times. Thanks for the read.” Micah Harris

“I adore Audrey Hepburn and love to hear new stories about her. Can’t get enough. And this short story was a nice little peek into her life, especially pre-fame, as a young girl… loved it.” Kendal Brenneman


























Kathy is facing another hard day trying to keep her young offspring in line. Being a mom is a continuous battle. And so it is today: She feels compelled to give little Frankie a bang on his bottom because he pushed his sister onto the floor. We’re listening to the ensuing discussion with Frankie after he was punished and his reaction to his stressed mom that has many more troubling consequences. (Based on a real story).

“You took the risk, Mom!”

“What you mean, Frankie?”

“You wouldn’t have me trouble you all the time if you hadn’t done it.”

“What you mean?”

“You know what I mean.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You and dad.”

“What about me and dad?”

“You doing it.”

“Doing what?”

Some hesitation on Frankie’s side. Then he mumbles, grinning, “making love.”

“Who told you that?”

“Miss Tilly at school.”

“And what else did Miss Tilly tell you?”

“If you don’t want babies you must use a papa-stopper.”

“A what? Is that what they teach you in school?”

“Amy knows it too. Tommy told her.”

“Your sister is only eight! And you are only ten! You tell your friend Tommy to stay away from Amy. It’s scandalous! I’ll raise hell about this in next week’s PTA!”

“You may not say ‘hell’ Miss Dooley said. What’s a papa-stopper look like?”

“Well, did Miss Tilly not tell you?”

“She drew one on the blackboard, but I’ve never seen one.”

“What? On the blackboard? I’ll go straight to the principal and have her fired!”

“What’s so bad?”

“I’ll tell you when I get back!”

Kathy sits with the principal.

“You know Mrs. Johnson; our state law requires that we provide sex education. Even the Republican Party voted for it.”

“Why so young? When I was eight or ten, I’d never heard of it.”

“We have the highest rate of teen pregnancies in the industrial world. You want your kids to be one of those victims? In The Netherlands, they teach kids about love as of Kindergarten, and they have the lowest teen pregnancies in the world.”

“Kindergarten age is four; what do they know! My eight-year-old knows no more. Isn’t it bad enough that my boy’s ten-year-old friend tells my eight-year-old girl?”

“You exaggerate.”

“No, I don’t. Frankie said Tommy did.”

“I’ll tell Tommy not to tell anyone in second grade. But I won’t fire Miss Tilly. She’s an excellent teacher and a mother of six.”

“Six? My goodness! Does she know about the pill?”

“Let’s not go there, Mrs. Johnson. Good day.”

Kathy walks with hubby Frank senior in front of their beach house.

“I clam up telling kids about sex,” Kathy says. “Can you do it for me, Frank?”

“How did you learn about sex?”

“I’m not telling you.”

“Why not? Was it in school?”

“Certainly not. We’d be expelled if we were talking sex.”

“Where then?”

“I said, I’m not telling you.”

“You’re not saying I was your first kisser? You did pretty well at the prom.”

“I got it from the movies.”

“Hah! And my hard-on and what followed? Did you get that from the movies, too?”

“Come on! They never show you the bottom part.”

“How then?”

“Frank, you’re embarrassing me!”

“You see? I bet you had sex before me. And you didn’t get pregnant like so many others. So who told you?”

“My mother.”


“When I had my first period.”

“Aha! Wise mother! You know how many girls get pregnant nowadays at that age and wished they’d been told?”

“I see where you’re heading. We better tell the kids then. It’s so hard to be a mom.”

“Not harder than your mother. At least you have Miss Tilly.”

“But she has six children, Frank!”

Kathy and Frank are discussing how they’re going to tell the kids.

“The books tell you to use the proper terms, not the slang ones,” Frank says.

“But I feel uncomfortable about even using the proper terms. I prefer the little words, you know, willie and foo foo. They’re still so small!”

“As long as we tell them to keep their willie and foo foo private and not for use with or by others. That’s why we call them private parts.”

“But what when they start feeling sexy?”

“Well, by that time trouble starts. Remember? We’d better tell them to put a stop on it.”

“Oh Frank, Frankie asked what a papa stopper was. Miss Tilly told him.”

Frank laughs. “You told me she has six children.”

Next, Kathy and Frank have dinner with the kids.

“How’s Miss Tilly doing, Frankie?” Kathy asks.

Frankie looks up, a suspicious glance in his eyes. “Why you’re askin’?”

“Oh, just to know… What’s the latest gossip in school?”

“Amy used the F-word and got punished,” Frankie says, pointing his fork at Amy.

Amy puts her fork down with a broad grin.

“Is this true, Amy?” Kathy asks. Frank’s face shows he’s about to burst into laughter and that he has trouble not to.

Amy grins again, looking at her brother. “F*&in,” she says to him, dragging out the word, giggling, her eyes shining a naughty glance.

Kathy raises her voice. “That’s a very bad word, Amy! I forbid you to use it, here and anywhere! You don’t even know what it means!”

Amy giggles again. “Hee, hee, hee. Tommy told me. Like daddy and mommy doing it.”

“I don’t think we need Miss Tilly anymore,” Frank says, getting angry. “Now you guys: you listen carefully. This is serious business. Sit quiet. No more jokes!”

And so Kathy and Frank explain love and its physical consequences in fourth-graders’ terms to the best of their ability.

Amy has been listening half while drawing lines on her placemat with her fork. Then she looks up to her mommy and says, “Tommy told me you can blow up a papa stopper like a balloon. Can you buy me one?”


“What would you like for mother’s day?” Frank asks.

“Eight hours of sleep, and champagne on the beach with you alone.”

Read this story about another Frank and Frankie!



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