That Place, Part 18

While Margery and Shrubsbury were traveling back to Druwich, something unexpected happened, Judy returned home. Barty, who had failed to mention their daughter’s disappearance to his wife, secretly hoped that she might just turn up, safe and sound. And that hope was manifested this fine spring morning.
Coming down to the kitchen to brew a strong cup of tea, he found Judy pouring herself a glass of orange juice.
“Morning daddy,” she said with a smile.
Barty, paused for a moment, so many times he thought he heard her come in, or call from the other room, but each time it was nothing but wishful thinking. But this time he could actually see her.
“Judy?” he asked.
She walked up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. This was happening. Barty grabbed her and hugged. Judy was home.
“It’s good to see you too,” she said with a laugh.
“I’ve been worried sick! Where have you been? Never mind, you’re home, that’s all that matters,” he said.
“Let me fix us some breakfast,” said Judy.
And with that she started to cook and Barty sat down, the weight of having to tell his wife that their one and only daughter had vanished. Now, any other parent would be full of questions, most would lay down some sort of punishment, but Barty felt as though he had been pardoned at the last moment. All that he had wanted to was for everything to go back to normal and that was happening.
Of course things were far from normal but in that moment, all seemed right with the world.
After a very large and excellent breakfast, which also should have been a red flag for Barty since his daughter always cooked him breakfast when she wanted something, Judy said this.
“Daddy, I need you to sign something for me.”
“Hmmm?” asked Barty.
Judy produced a document with the place to sign indicated by those bright neon sticker.
“What is this about,” he asked.
“It a permission form, just like when I went on field trips,” she replied handing him a pen.
“Right. Of course…”
Barty, who had left his readers on the nightstand, squinted at the document.
“It’s just the same old stuff daddy,” Judy said with a sweet smile.
You might think poorly of Barty at this moment, but remember, he’d had a rough few days and had little to no interest in questioning what he considered his enormous good fortune. So he signed.

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Posted in Short Stories

Farewell

Suzanne Hevner died this past week and the world is poorer for it. For those of you who didn’t have the joy of knowing her, she was a member of one of the funniest comedy groups I was fortunate enough to see perform, the Heartless Floozies. For the record, none of the members, Mary Denmead, Lucy Avery Brook, Gail Dennison, Emmy Laynorne Podunovich, Cate Smit, and Sheila Head. They all are hilarious, brassy, and wonderful.

I do have to admit, it’s been a long time since I saw her last. Unfortunately, as we get older, it’s easy to lose touch with friends.

While I had the opportunity to play with Suzanne any number of times, the thing I’ll remember the most was not her talent, though she had that in spades. She had a quality that is often overlooked, especially nowadays.

Suzanne was kind.

It’s a simple thing. I’m not talking about nice. Nice has become a descriptor that means that a thing is inoffensive. Kindness is born of compassion. When I think of the times I spent with Suzanne, which now seem far too few, I remember her kindness. I’m bedeviled that I cannot recall one specific example. That speaks more to my own faulty memory than any failing on Suzanne’s part. But she was kind and it made spending time with her a joy.

Comedy can be a harsh business, both in the struggle and the execution. But Suzanne could play a delightfully mean character on stage but drop it immediately once the scene was over. Part of that is professionalism, but a larger portion of it was who she was.

If I wrote thousands of pages it would not do justice to her. This seems a pitiably minuscule tribute. I simply don’t have the right words to say, if there are right words.

In the end, just try to be like Suzanne, offer kindness when you can. It’s not always easy, but she made it look effortless.

Farewell, you heart-full floozie.

Posted in Thoughts, Yes and so this happened

The good and the bad

It’s been a hell of year. Not just the political and social turmoil that we all experience day-to-day basis or sometimes a minute to minute basis. I have little to add to that conversation, wiser and more foolish people have already covered those topics.

For me, this was not a great year, I was outsourced from my job and have been looking for a new job, unsuccessfully, since that happened. I also managed to bash my knee, which kept me less than mobile for about a month.

Also, I had my heart broken. Perhaps not broken, but at the very least badly bruised. At this point of my life, it just leaves me feeling hollowed out. Which might be sadder than the break up.

My mom had a spill and ended up in the emergency room. She fell again as soon as we exited the hospital and back in we went. This was worse for her than I, but it felt like it took years off my life.

Last, and perhaps least, I ended my podcast. This was the right choice for a laundry list of reasons but I was sad that it was over.

And now for the good stuff.

I have a roof over my head, food and clean water, which millions of people lack, I can’t genuinely complain.

I don’t have enough words to talk about my mom. Lets just say she continues to support me, even when I’m not sure I deserve it.

I’m also very fortunate that I have friends who are generous, kind and supportive. It ranged from picking up the tab for lunch, a thoughtful gift, or just letting me vent. Sometimes all it takes is a sympathetic word.

We tend to think of wonderful and terrible things as being huge but the truth is that small kindnesses and tiny setbacks can tip you towards laughter or tears quicker than the big stuff. As Hank Scorpio once said, “You can’t argue with the little things.
It’s the little things that make up life.”

That’s how I want to end this year, with an obscure Simpsons quote.

And scene.

Posted in Thoughts

That Place, Part 17

It was the golden hour, and everything and everyone standing in the field to the west side “That Place” was warmed by a reddish glow. The trees looked as though they were made of bronze, and the sky was that perfect shade of blue with streaks of orange and pink clouds that lingered coquettishly at the horizon. All stood still and silent, even the wildlife kept their sounds to themselves.

At the center of the field sat an old woman, whose name was Winifred. She never cared for her name but it was too late to do anything about it now.. Her face was lined and wrinkled. Someone might describe her face has having character, though if they were being honest, it might be said that she had an entire cast of characters on her face, including the technical members of that production as well as the understudies.

Winifred’s eyes however, were closed. If you thought her asleep, you’d be a fool. She was pondering, and frankly, having a field full of eyes on her always gave her the heebie-jeebies. I should be used to it by now, she thought, but it never got better.

So she shut her eyes and thought. There were points to be made on both sides, and no matter what she said, there would be contention. And while she disliked the staring eyes, she didn’t give a damn if she was spreading joy. That was not her job. Her sister, Mavie got to do that, and while it made her extremely popular, (who doesn’t love joy?) Mavie was a bit on the dim side. She loved her sister but it was the truth. Winifred got the brains so she had to make the difficult and usually unpopular decisions.

No point in putting it off, she knew the right thing to say.

She opened her eyes and said, “The girl Judith has been chosen, she will represent the world of men.”

Then the yelling, there was always yelling.

Posted in Short Stories

That Place, Part 16

Shrubsbury had recommended several prospects to Margery. He did so with the caveat that she never reveal her plans to him. She agreed, knowing in her heart that he was a coward and he with the relief that comes from culpable deniability. She spoke to two agencies who flat out refused to take on her case. The third was a different case.

Margery was now smirking from ear to ear. For anyone who knew her well, it would be a chilling sight. To be honest, if you saw her walking down the street with that expression on her face, you’d immediately cross the street and look for the police. It was the sort of gaze usually reserved for serial killers and movie super-villains. I apologize for going on about this but I want to fully express the fear-inducing effect of this look.

However, the person she was bestowing this grimace on was seemingly unaffected. He was James Addington, licensed private investigator. Addington didn’t look like a hard-boiled tough guy with a heart of gold. He looked as though he worked in an office generating reports that no one ever read, in other words, the sort of chap that your glance would slide off of like water off a duck.

It was that quality that made him excellent at his job. That and he had quite a knack for photography. He also had a passion for capturing wildlife in pictures. But his clients were not interested in that sort of wildlife. All of his business came from catching cheating spouses. It was very profitable, which was good, but he secretly was disappointed when he got the evidence.

“So something untoward is going on?” asked Addington.

“Yessss,” hissed Margery.

Taking out a note pad, he preferred it to a tablet or phone, partially because it couldn’t be hacked but also because his handwriting was illegible to anyone one but him.

“You think your husband is involved with all this?”

The smirk was quickly replaced with an angry glare.

“Absolutely not! Barty would never dare!” spat Margery.

“Apologies, most of my clientele suspect their spouses,” said Addington.

“I am not your typical client.”

“Clearly,” said Addington, “So who are these people you want me to investigate?”

“Outsiders.”

Addington had sussed out Margery as being sort of person who thought that anyone from another town was ”odd.” So he assumed that this is what she meant by outsiders. It was an old timey attitude, a medieval one in fact, but as his dad used to say, “work is work.” Not much of a family motto but allowed him to keep taking pictures of squirrels, which were his favorite animal.

“All right then,” Addington said, “let’s see what’s what then.”

Posted in Short Stories

That Place, Part 15

Deep in the forest sat two chairs. They were placed at the end of a row of trees that formed an avenue. One chair was made of wood, and when I say made, it looked as though it had grown naturally into the shape of an elaborate and intricate chair, with shapes that suggested scenes from nature, animals, flowers, and ironically, trees.

The other was made of metal, not iron, that wouldn’t be appropriate at all, but some sort of dark and shiny metal that suggested strength and inventiveness. That seems both specific and vague, but trust me, it did.

These chairs were diametrically apposed in style and material but that was no accident. I can’t say why but some of the cleverer among you might have guessed what they are to be used for. If so, please keep it to yourself.

Posted in Short Stories

That Place, Part 14

“What were you thinking?”
The young man, whose name was Ahearn, regarded those who were looking at him with murderous intent and said this.
“Traditionally, one half of this thing is a local.”
Georgie’s nostrils flared and she stood up and started to move but Rachael laid a hand on her arm.
“Please don’t try to use tradition as an excuse,” Rachael said, “You delight in making trouble.”
Aheran smiled. It was more a taunt than an expression of joy. It made Rachael want to slap him.
“And yet… He has a point,” said Lady Bleakstone. (We met her briefly at the gate. Beautiful, silver hair and green eyes.)
“But arrangements were made,” observed a bushy bearded man whose name was Humphrey.
“The real question is have we lost our way?” asked a voice from inside a carved clock.
This set off a flurry of points, counter-points, discussions and arguments.
“Everyone PLEASE!” said Rachael in a loud voice.
“This is not the time for abstract discussions,” she continued. “I need to make a decision on what to do.”
Of course the rest of the room had their own opinions on this. Very strong ones at that. Finally, Lady Bleakstone snapped her fingers and the sudden drop in temperature got everyone’s attention.
“Miss Pegg is correct. She is the Host, and therefore what will be done falls entirely under her purview.”
Grumbles were made but no one could argue otherwise.
“I will consider this matter, and make a decision by tomorrow morning,” Rachael said.
“If we’re done here,” said Ahearn as he moved for the door.
“We’re not even close to done,” said Georgia who had anticipated this and was blocking the exit.
Rachael smiled. It wasn’t a smile of pure joy, more of a Schadenfreude smile.
“Ahearn, you’ll be staying indoors, for the foreseeable future,” she said.
This was more sinister than it appeared on the surface.

Posted in Short Stories