1. An inevitable force
2. Old brown shoes
3. The crow’s nest
Hot again. Muggy. You’d think the wind coming off the ocean would cool hings down, make it at least tolerable to breathe, but not in this part of the world. Not in September.
Calvin Stamps had lived on the coast for most of his sixty-seven years.

“This is the worst it’s ever been,” he said to his neighbor. “Believe me, Louella, I been through some rough weather hereabouts, but this has gotta be the worst it’s ever been.” He fanned his face with a folded-up newspaper and helped himself to another of Louella Rigby’s chocolate mint cookies.

They were sitting on the back porch of Louella’s place under a shade canopy Calvin had improvised from a couple of old umbrellas and a filmy vinyl tablecloth left over from the Easter potluck at the Grange Hall. Louella’d hauled out a couple of towels to keep their bottoms off the hot sticky plastic chairs. At six in the evening it was still daylight, still muggy and Calvin’s complaints about the weather had been going on for nearly three hours.

More like three years, Louella mused to herself. Last year was the worst in history, the one before that was the worst up until then. This could go on forever.

“More tea, Calvin?” She didn’t bother to stand up. She knew what he’d say.

“Oh, no thanks. I don’t want to be a bother. I’ll just set here and finish this last drop.” It would be a full minute before he’d reluctantly agree to having “just a half a glass, if it’s not too much trouble.”

Louella knew the game by heart. The conversation would repeat at least twice more before Calvin finally ambled off toward his own house about nine o’clock. The old fart was just lonely, Louella knew, but damn! It would be nice if he could come up with some new topics of conversation.

By the time Calvin called it a night, Louella was ready to go inside herself. The mosquitoes were having a feast on her arms and the old brown shoes she wore were playing havoc with her toes. “I’m thinking in cliches again.” A day with Calvin always seemed to bring that out in her.

A sickly fan in the kitchen was doing it’s best to move the stagnant air, but it wasn’t particularly effective against the oppressive heat of