Entities, a dark tale of “what if?” for MindLoveMisery’s Tale Weaver #105

 

[Here is my entry for MindLoveMisery’s Tale Weaver #105, The Dark Side
The challenge is to write a horror tale, something dark and scary (if possible…asking for “scary” is like asking for “humor.”)  I usually don’t write this kind of thing, but here goes….]

https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/tale-weaver-105-the-dark-side-02-02-17/

Some call them “entities,”
the mysterious forms that appear
out of the dark identities
that linger beyond their time to disappear.

Would they remain if the light fails
when the switch malfunctions
or a passing cloud the bright moon pales
or if we freeze before we give in to compunctions?

Or if our night visitors are figments of imagination,
as we reassure our waking senses,
would the benefit of a new orientation—
like turning our backs to them—compense?

Just  think, how a chilly shiver might give us pause…
if Mr. Poe’s “tapping,” instead of just a black bird,
had been in fact a creature’s pecking claws,
an unspeakable thing from a mired pit, so untoward.

So what if the cloudy caricature figure (our entity,)
solemnly menacing from the dark places beside our bed
would not fade into nothingness at flash of first light…
but take form of the night terror within our head?

© Sometimes, 2017

Lost and Found – a Three Line Tale by Kat Myrman!

Here’s a great post from Kat Myrman! I like it a lot!

like mercury colliding...


Lost and Found

They had searched frantically for hours when a member of the team found Emily’s teddy bear hanging vicariously over the murky water from the railing of the shuttered bridge.

The authorities kept her mother far from the site, offering her coffee, as if they could protect her from the awful truth, while the sergeant called for the aquatic search team.

As onlookers gathered to watch, the mother, clinging to her baby girl’s teddy bear at the perimeter of the horrible spectacle, was jolted from her sobbing by a gentle tug on her coat sleeve, “Mommy, you found my Boo Bears…I been lookin’ eberwheres for him.”

kat – 24 January 2017

For Sonya’s Three Line Tale Challenge based on the photo above by Sean Tan via Unsplash.

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Re-discovering Classics of Literature

My reference to the Sword of Damocles, in a poem I posted a few days ago, has served to jog my poor over-loaded brain.   I always think of the human brain as a vast library-like cavern, perhaps not unlike the wondrous university libraries, such as those at Oberlin College, and the Bierce Library at the University of Akron, which are two of the libraries where I did research as a doctoral student twenty years ago.        Especially etched into my brain cells were the upper floor reaches of the great libraries which during the summer months when they were not as crowded, and one could spend hours without encountering any other scholars.    There is my idea of Heaven…being alone in the stacks at a borrowed carrel, surrounded by rows and rows of shelves, laden with books.

Above and beyond the inherent treasure of information and knowledge of the ages is the simple fact of being one with the company of books…manuscripts, journals, atlases, writings in multiple languages.     The hallowed halls of musty, dusty volumes are in themselves of unestimable value in the rivers and mountains and mines of the books that are the records of the human ages and dreams of the future.

OK, I admit it…there are easier ways to tap into the motherlodes of learning—namely: computers.   Yeah, been there, done that too!   I love computers.    I adore the ease of research in a vast machine.    Before I bought my first computer,  I studied the computer magazines, and bothered people that I knew who were already “computer-literate.”   There were not many.   Even the major newspaper that I worked for back then, in the mid-1980s, had not yet made the transition to computerization.      More than one Radio Shack salesperson thought I was strange…my criteria for actually buying a computer was that it have the capability of holding “every book and media from the New York Public Library” available for users.   I had no idea that would really be possible within a very few years.  It was called the “Information Highway” before it was known as “The Internet.”

Any way, as I was saying about the Sword of Damacles…when the allusion popped into my head as I toyed with writing a poem, after a several-week slump during which I was sure I would never write poetry again.     Sure, I can always write miscellaneous posts about topics as varied as politics and attempts at humor.

Thinking about the Classics always appeals to nooks and crannies of my brain, in which are tucked away and filed in huge vessels of information, where all of the myriads of things that have been encountered and put away for “another day” when I had more time.    Thus was my complicated thought-train set into locomotion, chugging off into a darkened passage where I keep forgotten and fascinating scraps under a make-believe heading — FOR SOME DAY.

So ah-ha!   with my theoretical ticket to side-tracks of  possible literary points of interest peaked at the prompt phrase: “Sword of Damocles…” which found its way into an impromptu poem unstopping the clogged…or cluttered scraps of esoteric longing to venture into the Classical collections of ancient tomes and leather-bound texts which may or may not have been…shall I say hidden?   delayed?   saved as best for last?… a related reference to another masterpiece springing forth from my foggy brain.

Yes—after a bit of ponderance it came to me: The Pit and the Pendulum.    I vaguely recall the circumstances of Edgar Allen Poe’s grim and gruesome tale of madness and despair, of a poor prisoner sentenced to deal with the very pits of Hell.        The images and illusions that came to mind are rather allegories, or tales of tales which I have read over my lifetime (since I learned to read) and have become part of my personal library of versions of famous literature.

Poe’s style had long fascinated, especially in the days of my somewhat dreamy-eyed and faux-sophisticated youth.      The Raven, maybe Edgar Allen Poe’s best known work…at least among students such as my younger self…had captured my imagination.    I so enjoyed the poem that I undertook the copying—in flowing cursive handwriting, accomplished with a fountain pen, with real ink—into one of the plain and homely brown notebooks that I so enjoyed.   I have it to this day.

Had I actually read The Pit and the Pendulum, in it’s entirety, with due consideration and concentration…tripping and gnashing over Poe’s lightly punctuated and technically worded nineteenth century prose…I dare say I would not have really understood it.     For one thing, although Poe states in his introduction to The Pit…that his torturers are members of the Spanish Inquisition….the not-so-Holy-Inquisition.

That dreaded institution was of course studied, or at least alluded to in high school History classes, but I…for whatever reason…did not really make an impression on me one way or another.    I didn’t care—and did not GET IT then.      I admit that at age nineteen I was much more of a romantic than a scholar.      So several decades later  I finally got around to my higher education, and in that capacity become intrigued with the discovery, development, destruction, and History of Latin America—which had a LOT to do with Spain, and Mexico, and the Holy Inquisition.  In the New World the Inquisition methods were somewhat limited, compared with back in Spain and environs…much of the efforts of the institution were directed toward members of the clegy, for various crimes including heresy and seduction in the confessional.

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Novels

The Name of the Rose, Humberto Eco.    (I love this book, have read it at least three times, its about a monastery library in the 12th Century.)

Snow Treasure, Marie McSwigan (All-time favorite.   My third grade Christmas present.  About some Norwegian kids and German soldiers.)

The Last Juror, Robert Grisham  (I like Grisham, this is my favorite novel of his.)

Wake of the Red Witch, Robert Rourk (My late husband’s favorite, he read it I don’t know how many times…I read it once, and it is the kind of novel that I didn’t want to end.)

Bad Spell in Yurt, C. Dale Brittain (series)   (I love her fantasy tales, I’ve read the series except for the last couple.)

The Queen’s Fool, Phillipa Gregory   (I enjoy this because although its fiction about Henry the VIII and his carryings-on, there is enough historical fact to justify reading romance fiction so avidly 🙂

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy  (I love this book, intriguing and romantic.)

The Sahir, Paulo Coelho  (Coehlo…anything he writes is wonderful.)

Mistress  of the Morning Star, Elizabeth Lane  (The plot is the very first account of the Aztec empire, Hernan Cortes, and his lady La Malinche.   This is fiction…but it is also my top influence for choosing Latin American Studies as my field.  I tried to use it for a reference once, but that was not well-received by my mentor 🙂

Fahrenheit 911, Ray Bradbury    (All the things I like: firemen, the future, books, crooked governments, and Science Fiction at its best.)

The First Eagle, Tony Hillerman (I have all of Hillerman’s books, and I want to read them again.   I like Navajos, indigenous people in general, Arizona, the Desert, and cops.)

She Who Remembers, Linda Lay Shuler.  (Historical romance again…about native society and a female head-of-state…and Kokopelli! )

These titles are all novels that I have read at least once, have some kind of personal attachment, and plan to read again.

So which are YOUR Top Ten Fiction Novels?

Please take out pencil and a piece of paper.      Number from one to 10.   (It doesn’t matter what kind of paper, and the numbers should be 1-10 in a vertical column.)     You are to list (not necessarily in order) YOUR  top ten Greatest Fiction Books Ever Written.      You have 30 minutes to complete the list.

Wow!      Moments ago I read a page on selling books on eBay.    I actually do sell books on eBay, but mostly on other venues, mainly Amazon.     The list, which the author of the article noted was A list, not intended to be THE LIST of the all-time great books.

Here is the eBay writer’s list:

Top 10 Books of All Time Photo from the eBay page.  I am duly impressed!

I believe I have now on my shelves ALL of the ten works on the list.     I would like to say that I have read and studied every single one of these books…but since I am a very truthful person, I can’t make that claim.

I did read part of  Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which I enjoyed.    The other classics are so much discussed and made into movies, and snippets (or pages) have appeared in various sources, that they are impressed upon my mind having read the novels  per se or not.

OK, in my defense, English and American Literature HAVE been included in my curriculum,  but during my college career the only course I remember that specifically dealt with “classic great modern literature” was a University of Akron  graduate seminar on Latin American Fiction.    That course, I recall, came as I was overwhelmed (pretty much) with heavy-duty studying and reading…so much so that I was   reading non-fiction textbooks on the History of all sorts of times and places—and did not have time for the luxury of reading my favorite “lawyer-books” and Sci-Fi, and light bedtime reading…I would fall asleep with a huge textbook, not a little paperback.     Reading those Latin American novels (Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Garcia Lorca,)…was almost like cheating on the curriculum…a real treat.

Another seminar at Cleveland State dealt with Karl Marx and his assorted works.  Now this may sound stupid, but I was a tad shy at the time with my Essential Karl Marx paperback and reams of print-outs from reference books.   I mention that because one of the eBay writer’s TOP TEN GREAT BOOKS is the classic Vladimir Nabovosky book Lolita.    Well!  at the time I was in college ten-twenty years ago I would have kept THAT book in my book bag.      I have the book now for sale (I think.)   No, I haven’t been so inclined to read it.

While on that general subject, it always amuses me to recall that when I was a girl THE banned book (really…banned!) was Forever Amber,   by Kathleen Winsor.    Well, let me tell you…that book was not very interesting to me when I tried to read it years and years ago…and I never did find the titillating parts that I thought were hiding within the book.     Recently, like last year, I finally found out that the book was banned for political reasons…not for…well, you know…sexy stuff.  😉

So…good luck with those lists!

My favorite all-time book: Snow Treasure

When I was about eight years old, our teacher read a book to us in class.   Teachers did that often in those days, and I suppose they still do.  I hope so!    The book was Snow Treasure: A story of courage and adventure, written by Marie McSwigan, published in 1942.     Here’s the back cover blurb:

Now every sled ride was a matter of life and death

Peter Lundstrom never thought he would become a hero.   But that bleak winter of 1940 was like no other.   Nazi troops parachuted into Peter’s tiny village and held it captive.  Nobody thought they could be defeated—until Uncle Victor told Peter how the children of the village could fool the enemy.

It was a dangerous plan.   Peter and his friends had to slip past Nazi guards with nine million dollars in gold hidden on their sleds.  It meant risking their country’s treasure—and their lives.

This book was the ONE thing I wanted for Christmas that year.   My mother, broke as a churchmouse, but determined to do what she could to make our holiday wishes.     There was a small stack under the tree…some undies, and socks, maybe some school supplies like pencils or notebooks…and I opened all of the packages as politely as possible, all the time anticipating the gift that I really wanted.    Finally there was one present left for me, and when I opened it, I found a box of TIDE soap powder.   My poor little heart sank until I realized that the package was not what it appeared to be.  My book!   My book!

Throughout the decades Snow Treasure has been my favorite book.  Until about ten years ago it was only a memory…and I found a copy at a used book sale at the library.  Actually the book has an ISBN number, so apparently it is still available, though no longer in print.     The copy I have was published in the 1980s.

At the time that I was eight years old, World War II was very prominent in our lives, and indeed influences everything, everywhere, for every one.  I have written other blog accounts about the War and my personal experiences as a school child living in Cleveland, Ohio.

I always believed that the story of Snow Treasure was true.  The preface of the copy of the book that I have, published by Scholastic, Inc a couple of decades ago, qualifies the story with details that I presume are true.       To paraphrase:  On June 28, 1940, the Norwegian freighter Bomma arrived in Baltimore with about nine million dollars in gold bullion.    According to the story, the gold “had been slipped past Nazi sentries by Norwegian boys and girls!  Under the very eyes of the enemy, the story went, these children had pulled the gold on their sleds to a freighter hidden in a fiord off Norway’s coast.”      There is no proof, of course….I still believe that the tale is at least possible, but I am a dreamer and believer in all sorts of things.   To me veracity of any given account or story depends not only on proving something happened…but also proving that it did not happen.

*0590425374     There are several editions of this book on Amazon, and on other book seller sites.  The book has been published periodically in paper and hardback  for years.   I’m glad to know that, its like finding an old friend still alive!

From Doorstep fiction writing— to unfinished dissertation (Re-posted)

When one of my daughters was about ten, her school bus came later than those of the other kids, so she and I had half an hour or so one-on-one time.  I loved to make up stories, and some of my best (maybe) ideas came at that time.   This means fiction…since I was a working newspaper reporter and writer at the time I was writing other types of material —news stories, police reports, obits, motor vehicle crashes, city meeting coverage— when I wasn’t making up far-out stories.

The story I am referring to was about a tiny slug that landed on a patch of grass, and was saved from trampling by a group of scuffling boys by a young girl named Fonzie McElroy.   Turned out the Slug was no other than Prince Rehebal, of some distant planet that was left behind on an exploratory visit to Earth.   To fast-forward the plot, the young Prince was rescued by returning space crew…and Fonzie was richly rewarded, although no one but she ever believed the tale was true.

I know…sounds vaguely like “ET,” which had not hit the movie theaters yet, and I did not hear about for at least a decade.  Yes, I did type up (on newspaper print paper) and I still have the original.

Another of my languishing plots was a Civil War theme, set on a Confederate prisoner-of-war island, a sutler’s daughter who fell for a Rebel army officer, and so the historical novel was set to go.   A sutler was a farmer or merchant who set up sales of produce like onions and potatoes in periodic markets held by prison officials for the imprisoned soldiers.

Then there is the loose plot of a murder mystery set in a small town, peopled by town municipal workers like council members, police, and of course a newspaper reporter that solves the whole crime.   My heroine is still (after about 30 years real time) sitting at the railroad tracks waiting for a train to pass, the murderer holding a gun to the reporter’s side–while the police chief waits on the other side of the train tracks.

In my Science Fiction story the location is a planet which is ruled by women.  All of the men are sent out on space ships doing various jobs, and serving out their time until they and their wives can reunite and move to a utopian planet where they live out their years in happy wedded bliss.

The probability of any of those works ever seeing the light of day is remote.  My more recent interests are in writing  Historical topics in which I have an interest…such as the British Abolition of the Slave Trade; Liberation Theology in Latin America; and various other essay contributions.

Oh, and my current…and possibly only novel is one that I worked on as a National  Novel Writing Month (not the correct name, but the popular writers’ competition in which the goal was to write a 60,000 word novel in one month…which was accomplished mostly stream-of-consciousness-style with no correcting spelling or style or anything else…just pounding away for 30 days.   That NaNoWriMo exercise is THE most useful and inspiring writing experience I have undertaken.   I have elaborated on the plot and the work to a great extent.   It is part Historical and part Time-Travel.

The topic of my novel was based on my doctoral dissertation (which I did not  bring to completion within allotted time.)    Obviously no one except my advisor professor has ever read the Final Draft, which I wish now with all my heart that I had completed.    Various readers such as my kids and best friends…captives, if you will…SAY they read the copies that I gave them ten years ago, but their eyes glaze over as they say it.     It’s about History of 500 years of the Catholic Church in Mexico, or something like that.   It’s a LOT more interesting than you all think!

What got in the way of my writing was … well… writing.    I often whine that  “I wish I had been a Writer.”   I spent years writing for newspapers, term papers, writing minutes as secretary of city boards and commissions, in college writing assignments and serious papers.  E-mailing (the way I have always done it) is sort of like writing as I wrote  to my friends and other people.

Blogging  is writing of course…and I love it because it is a combination of all the different kinds of writing I have ever done:   Fiction, poems, rants, news stories, satire, responding to prompts about all kinds of things…and writing about writing.   Photographing isn’t writing of course, but in a way it can be in that photos tell stories in and of themselves, or they serve as props for accompanying prose.

 

 

Science Fiction Favorites

One of my blogger pals was chatting about Science Fiction writers and novels, and mentioned several that I’m not familiar with.   This is not unusual, as I rarely read the science fiction genre any more, in fact I think I would say my favorite are what I call “Lawyer Novels” written by and about lawyers and courts and fancy courtroom dance steps.  My favorite of this genre is Lisa Scottoline, who is a Philadelphia lawyer (really) in real life, and writes about female lawyers and other legal personnel.  I also like James Grisham, of course, and Peri O’Shaughnessy (who is really TWO authors…sisters…in one.)

Back in my late teens or early twenties I became intrigued and enchanted by Science Fiction in general, and set out to read every (or most) novels by such as Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, and others whose names I can’t recall offhand because my Sci-Fi sections of my brain storage are nearing capacity.  I also tried to read Isaac Asimov, but he was a bit technical for me, and my interests lie more in robots-doing-stuff than in building robots from scratch.

Among the ageless store of knowledge about robots are the famous Laws of Robotics.   I’ll probably have to look it up, but basically those laws is that 1. Robots must obey any command by a human. 2. they can not harm or kill a human being under any circumstances and 3. must deal with the conflict of the first two Robot Laws.

There were some rules about space travel, especially after Einstein worked out his theory…and I believe that one of those is that while space travel is technically possible it had no contemporary basis in known facts.   This was back in the 1950s, following the discovery of the Atomic Bomb…and the Hydrogen Bomb… and proof that these things really did have the capability of wiping out entire cities.   They even did a second “test” after the first to reassure themselves that wide-spread death and destruction was indeed NOT just a pipedream, but an actual fact in the development of the human race.

The things I love most about Science Fiction is the use of imagination…extrapolating on wonderful ideas and things to foresee the future when dreams could come true…. Say robot-vacuum-cleaners in every home.  Wow!   Just last week, here in 2016 on saw on the television a little disc like thing that zips around by itself cleaning under sofas, terrifying cats…. (nah—most cats would love a thing like that!)  and just think of the possibilities!   “Robot! Fetch me a beer!”   “Feed the cat!”   “Stop sneaking up on me like that!”     I don’t think I would like one of those things zipping around under foot.

I aso like the inventive and fascinating scenarios of flora and fauna of other planets.   One I recall is a planet with landscape that was RED instead of green…red trees, grass…I think of that every time I see my Red Maple Tree doing its thing in the Fall, or the gorgeous Redbud Trees.

Anyway…I read every science fiction novel I could get my hands on back then, mostly borrowed from the library.  In fact… I even wrote some science fiction of my own–not actual published stories, but well-developed plot lines.   Maybe I’ll write about that in the next installment about Sci-Fi-and-Me.

 

 

R is for RADIO shows in the A-Z

When we were kids, back in the 1940s, we spent inclement Sunday afternoons lying on the living room floor–coloring books and crayons at the ready for “something to do while listening to the radio.”   Then we would listen to a variety of shows which were aimed at no particular listening audience.  Cowboys, Cops, and Crooks of all kinds were the favorites that filled the airways.

TENNESSEE JED– A rifle shot followed by the sound of the ricochet as the bullet hit a rock…and a voice that called out “git ‘im, Tennessee!”  Then Jed, the hero, would go about on various adventures making the Tennessee woods safe from bad guys.

THE LONE RANGER– A horse would whinney, and hooves would clatter, and the sound of an orchestra playing The William Tell Overture would fill the room.  “HI HO, SILVER!” and “What’s up Kimosabe?” introduced the episode’s plot.   The Lone Ranger and his pal, Tonto, their respective horses–Silver, and um…Scout?…  then proceeded to fight bad guys and hostile Injuns.    At the end of each show a mysterious voice would ask plaintively… “WHO was that masked man?”

THE FBI IN PEACE AND WAR– I don’t recall the main characters, but the rousing orchestral music began Bum…bum..bum…bum…BUM de-Bum announcing the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) was on the guard against spies and other enemies of the nation.  This was reassuring to us kids, who were indoctrinated to the ways of evil in our very tender years.

Then there was CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT!– The Captain was a caped crusader, very brave and mysterious.  I remember him being shiny dark in the comic books by the same name.  He stood for all that was good.

THE SHADOW always was familiar with the “Evil that lurks in the hearts of men!”  Who knew?  The SHADOW KNOWS!    I believe the hero’s name was Lamontt Cranston…

DICK TRACY– always on guard against Badness.  A police detective who was well-known to Crooks and to the good people of the city, who recognized Dick Tracy as a savior and hero.    He had the “classic detective demeanor” recognizable by his chiseled-facial-features (sharp nose and angular chin…and trench-coat and fedora.)

THE SQUEAKING DOOR– was a hair-raising mystery show, which began with (what else–a squeaking door) and featured all manner of villains and victims, and tales of horror and hints of the supernatural.   Personally I did not listen to the Squeaking Door because I was such a little wimp.

THE INNER SANCTUM– was another of my mother’s favorites.   She would listen to these shows late at night, waiting for my Dad to get home from work around midnight.   She would get so absorbed in listening to these horror shows that she would jump at the slightest unexpected sound.    Mom used to crochet fancy edges onto handkerchiefs, which we would give as teachers’ gifts—which has nothing to do with anything, except that she would be listening intently to the scary stuff on the radio and  concentrating on her needlework.    Listening to radio presentations required great involvement of human imagination.

One time my husband and I were driving in a hilly area of Germany, and the radio station we were listening to (probably AFN, Armed Forces Network) broadcast The War of the Worlds, the original version narrated by actor Orson Welles, which actually scared the heck out of much of the listening audience in the U.S.     Remembering that broadcast even now gives me chills…the mastery of Orson Welles’ narration of the fictitious (but who knew?) but intensely realistic and convincing “breaking news report” of the Martian invasion of New Jersey.  Every time I see those huge power line towers constructed like huge erector-set metal monsters…I am reminded of that radio broadcast.  I have seen Jules Verne’s War of the Worlds numerous times on television or movies….but it is never as effective as when technical effects and details are supplied by my own mind.   The power of imagination!

 

So if you’re a Writer–why aren’t you writing?

This is a question I have asked myself over and over– “if I am a writer, why am I not writing?”

I AM writing, or thinking about writing, or reading some deathless passages penned during my starry-eyed youth.  Poetry, expounding on the various virtues and lack thereof possessed by certain passages of fancy…romantic interests with which my life had been wrecked by unrequited love, or various disastrous relationships…real or imagined.

Thinking about writing has always been a favorite of mine.

By “writing” I mean actual seat-in-chair pounding away at the keys, producing Fiction.   Non-fiction has always been a form of writing, but not the end-all-be-all of fulfilling the Writer’s need and longing to … well, write.   Enthralled by my own turn of a phrase…disappointment at some less-than-ideal piece of work.  Who among us Writers has not spent a stray hour re-reading our work and marveling at how remarkable was the phraseology, the genius of putting words together in unique and individual style.

“Gosh that’s good, did I write that?”

Or the flip side of that scenario, where I stare at the page in horror… “Good Lord, I could NOT have written this piece of garbage!”

At this point of this narrative I should say that I have in fact worked as a Writer, newspaper reporter, and writer of countless university-level term papers,    I have written about almost everything I know, from Stonehenge in England to ancient pyramids in Mexico.  Once I wrote about what happened to bank checks when they were “in float,” which meant from the time a check was written until it arrived at the bank and was attributed to personal checking accounts.  (Known in the vernacular as “beating the check to the bank.” )

I wrote about a land-reclamation project which used dredgings from a harbor on Lake Erie, scooped out and deposited in an area a mile out on a cause-way to form a park.  Wrote about ghost ships at about the same time; and Johnson’s Island confederate prison out on Lake Erie.

Later, working on graduate degrees in Latin American History, I wrote papers on a vast variety of subjects, including the European Union, Herodotus and other “fathers” of Historiography, and Aztec “Flower Wars.”

The point here is that those feature articles were part of my professional position as a newspaper writer, and as a university student…although  I have never really considered these to be examples of “creative writing,” and even though I was physically engaged in “writing” virtually every day in some capacity, I longed to do Writing, with a capital W.

Oh sure, like most writers, I have a novel in the works.   In fact, I have FOUR novels in various stages of completion…none anywhere near publication.    There is a Civil War novel, a Science Fiction novel, a Murder-Mystery of course, and a Time-Travel work based on the development of Christianity in the New World/Mexico.

Within the dream of dedicated work on those four novels lies my goal of being a Writer.  This is what I want to write, although I understand that  any readership that I ever develop is much more likely in blogging, working on non-fiction articles, opinion, ranting, and yes, the occasional Fictional short story for a WordPress challenge.

So here’s the thing–if I am a Writer, I write.

Spider to the Rescue!

[Day Eighteen: Writing 101, Hone Your Point of View

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.]

It’s a shame what is happening to Mrs. Pauley.  She is a nice lady, kinda strange, but she always treats me nice.  My Dad lived in this house when he was a kid, and he grew up with Mrs. Pauley’s boys.  They was about the same age as Dad, and they always played together as kids, then hung out when they were teenagers.  I think Dad was in one of the Pauley boy’s wedding once.

Dad always liked Mrs. Pauley, but Mom didn’t.  Mom lived in the neighborhood when she was a little girl, and she said her girlfriends did not like to come over to her house because they were scared of Mrs. Pauley.  Dad always said “that’s silly.”   Mom would say “I’m not so sure.”

I heard Mom talking to one of the other neighbors about Mrs. Pauley and how the landlord who owned the house was coming to evict Mrs. Pauley.  That means he coud kick her out and take all her stuff out and set it on he curb.  The neighbor, Mrs. Smith, said that was just awful, but what did Mom expect?

Like this morning, I  was sitting here on the step, and Mrs. Pauley waved and hollered over

“Good morning, James.”

“Hi, Mrs. Pauley.”    She always calls me “James,” instead of “Spider,” which is my street name.    Mom doesn’t like it when I say my name is Spider,  she says it sounds like a gang name.    Mom always calls me “Jimmy” or “Jim.”

It is pretty quiet this morning, no traffic, and no kids outside playing.   It is nice and sunny, maybe a good day to ride up to the store or over to the playground.   There is no school, because it is Saturday.  That means it will be boring around here.  I guess I’ll just sit here on the porch swing and read my new comic book, Spiderman.  That’s where I got my nickname.

A car just pulled up in Mrs. Pauley’s driveway, way up by the garage.   The man who was driving looked at me, but then he just started looking down like he has something he is reading.  I wonder who this is…I have a kinda weird feeling about it, like something is wrong.    I better just mind my own business and read my comic bok.

Oh-oh, here comes a police car…I hope he keeps on driving by.  He’s stopping, and pulling in behind the car in Mrs. Pauley’s driveway.    The cop is getting out of the car, and he is looking around.  The man in the car is getting out and now he is standing by the cop and they are talking and looking at Mrs. Pauley’s house.

Mrs. Pauley has come to her front door and opened it.   They walk up onto Mrs. Pauley’s front porch and are talking to her.   The landlord is waving his arms around like he is mad.

I am just at a good part in my comic book.. it is really cool–Spiderman has just dropped down in front of a house.  There is an old woman with a cat, and a mean-looking dude in a tall black hat like magicians wear–and WHAT?   The comic book lady is screaming.     The man in the tall hat has a knife…no, it’s a sword!

A cop…er, police officer (Mom says it isn’t nice to say “cop,” it’s like an insult or something,) in the next panel of the comic has his gun drawn.  The cop is grabbing the man’s arms…now he is putting handcuffs on the mean man.    Spiderman is handing some papers to the old lady in the comic strip.

Mom is calling me for lunch.  Grilled cheese on rye bread, and tomato soup.  My favorite lunch.

“How is your new comic book, Jimmy?”

I tell Mom the new comic is great, and I start to tell her about how weird it is that the action in the comic book sort of was like the scene with Mrs. Pauley and the landlord, and the Cop.

“Oh, Mrs. Pauley had some good news,” Mother said with a smile, “her sons got together and bought the house from the landlord.  One of the sons is a policeman now, and he was the one to bring her the news.”

Wow!  Maybe Mom is right…maybe I DO read too many comics.

The little red sweater…point of view

[DAY NINE, Writing 101 prompt.]

The day was warm and sunny, although the occasional breeze made the elderly woman glad that she had worn a light sweater over her faded bluejeans and tee shirt.  She wore a straw sun hat, with a big sunflower design on it.   She often sat in the park on nice days, watching squirrels, or kids, or people strolling along or walking fast with their heads down.    Today the woman had her bright geometric print knitting bag, and was working away at a patch of knitting that appeared to be about a foot square.

The woman noticed the couple walking slowly along on an adjacent path, and peered at them from under the brim of her hat.  She had not seen them before, the tall pleasant looking man with the aluminum walking cane, and the pretty, fairly small  woman wearing office-clothes and a small purse tucked up under her arm.  They appeared to be in the mid-30s, and both looked serious…not to say somber, not really sad either.  (She was also a writer, and kept her long habit of observing potential “characters” as she went about her daily activities.)

The man’s eyes filled with tears, which he quickly wiped away with his upper arm…holding the cane.  wow, where did that come from?  Something about that old lady with the bright red yarn…reminds me of a sweater Grandma knitted for me that year she stayed with us.  I was fascinated with the way her hands and the knitting needles worked together, and the way the big ball of yarn just seemed to work up into the smooth knitted fabric… like magic.   Grandma was the person I loved most in the world… I was just six at the time, and I was her only grandchild.  She used to say how much I meant to her, and how lucky she was to be blessed with a grandson.   Hmmm, funny how that struck me when I saw that woman.

The man brushed something from the corner of his eye, and laughed at himself.

The young woman also noticed the Knitting Lady, and the bright red needlework in her hand.  A sweater for a new grandchild…wonder why she chose red?  Oh that’s an odd thought, why not red?  The new baby would get several sweaters…yellow, maybe pink or blue.  It must be lovely to be a grandmother…once a woman is a mother that is the natural thing.  I know that I will never have a baby, let alone a grand-baby.    My chance at motherhood has come and gone…left on a battlefield in Iraq.  But I hate it when I think like that…my husband and my only love has returned to me.  I guess that little red sweater stirred my motherly instincts…

The young woman smiled to herself, and she and her husband continued on their way.

The Knitting lady finished another row of the swatch of red fabric attached to her knitting needles, and inspected the work, counting stitches forming the beginning  of the leg holes across the fabric.  Satisfied, she gathered her things, wound  the excess of the red yarn onto the ball, and inserted the ends of the needles into it to secure them for the trip home.

She needed to finish that little sweater before her sister arrived for the weekend.

Well this is the last time I am going to waste perfectly good yarn, and my time, on that little mutt.  “If you eat THIS sweater, Miss Prissy, you can just freeze!”

I recognized the blue, blue eyes in a stranger

[Day 6, Characterization Exercise, WRITING 101.]

Note: this person may be fictious.

I was having some Mcnuggets and a chocolate shake, at a familiar fast-foods place where I had dined countless times before. It seemed odd that I had never before noticed the woman with the broom.

Knocking over the shake was accidental, a careless flick of the hand. It made a “flup” sound as the paper cup crashed to the floor, and sort of exploded like toothpaste, spreading in a mess on the floor. In a moment of quiet horror we both stared at the substance flowing onto the floor, its whipped cream and cherry floating out gently like an island.

As I sat there agape, the woman sprang into action. Abandoning her broom, which was useless against the icy goo, she dashed to the paper-napkin dispenser (over by the pop machine) and grabbed a handful. She deftly gathered up the spill, cleaning the floor as I sat there dumb-founded, trying to think of what to do.

The least I could do was to buy the woman a coffee. She sunk down, tired, across from me in the booth. She sighed deeply, as if she had just completed a demanding and complicated task.

AGGIE…her name tag read.

Getting over my embarrassment and fluster, I actually looked at her for the first time.
Recovering my usual aplomb, clever words escaped my lips:

“Is your name really Aggie?”

The woman, who explained that her real name was Agnes, which she actually preferred…but everyone called her Aggie. She always put up with it because that’s how it was.

I peered at her closely, observant as if I was creating her character. Her hair had evolved into a pale golden-rose color, with a good dash of heavy cream. Like the color of my cat…which is a good thing. She was a small woman, but tall at the same time, I thought. Let’s see… if I were called upon to describe her…I’d say she moved as if she were floating. Her voice was soft and slightly-accented, filled with adjectives and strange tones…yes, vocal tones. Her blue, blue eyes, like glistening glaciar ice melting in the deceptive Arctic sun seemed very familiar.

She reminded me somehow of a past time in my own life. Agnes (as I decided to call her,) had not always been a cleaner in a fast-food place, this was simply an old lady’s found-job that gave her a bit of cash for extras above her subsistence pension.

Aggie had traveled to places during her lifetime that had shaped her way of life, always what her mother had called a “free-spirit.” She followed her own trail, especially in the mountains, which she loved. She had known love, and what passed as love, “…and sex, which didn’t even pretend to be love,” she whispered shyly, with a little laugh.

Suddenly the blue eyes grew even clearer, brighter than the glistening blue of melting ice–eyes I knew well. (It struck me that this thought-description might be rather excessive, as I do tend toward purple prose as the critics call it, although some thoughts just need to be over-stated.) I am reminded of other blue, blue eyes that reside in my heart, bringing back memories.

The time and the tale were short. Aggie was on a break, after all, but in the present all of her past–and my own–came to light. Sometimes we can see ourselves reflected in a chance encounter with a stranger.

When leaving the restaurant I paused at the door, and looked back, but Agnes was nowhere to be seen.

Ominous or obnoxious?

[DAY 5 — entry for Writing 101]

A note I found on a path in a crowded park, half buried in mud, almost invisible due to age.   It doesn’t say much of anything, but it sends chills down my spine.  The meaning is ambiguous.  Suspicious person that I am, I decide that the best way to make the note known to its intended recipient–is to publish it in my blog.

CALL ME TODAY — OR PAY

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