Your Plotting Challenge

Here are some basic facts about Loretta.  She is 49.  She is left-handed.  She lives Taos, New Mexico.  Her favorite color is red.  She wears wedgie sandals, of a style she discovered in 1978, when she ordered a dozen pairs.  She works as a part-time librarian and Home Health Aide.  She has a two bedroom bungalow with a mortgage she can barely afford.  She lives alone.  One of her eyes is glass. 

Give Loretta a plot.  Conflict?  Struggle?  Resolution?

33 responses to “Your Plotting Challenge

  1. “Damn.” Loretta cursed the day she ordered that shitload of wedgies. She’d made two mistakes. She ordered them all in red which used to be her favorite color. Her choice of wedgies with straps was an even worse choice. She spent an extra minute and a half every morning struggling with her left sandal. Being left-handed and blind in her left eye made the fastening process an act of contortion and distortion.

    Twisting her neck and leaning to get at her left foot over the years had wrought havoc with Loretta’s neck. She grudgingly spent a big chuck of her paycheck to her chiropractor for weekly adjustments. Consequently, In her spare time she had recently been searching for a more affordable place to live. At least in New Mexico, if worse came to worse, she figured she could pitch a tent and sleep under the stars mortgage-free.

    Loretta finished with her sandal straps and straightened up. While the blood returned to her head, an idea formed. She considered how she’d been getting admiring looks from two gentlemen lately, one who frequented the library where she worked mornings and the other a man she visited weekly as a duty of her Home Health Aide job. At 49, time was running out. She knew she was still fairly attractive. She tossed her head and promised herself she’d snag one of her admirers and turn her life around.

    With a new purpose, Loretta paused before she stepped out the door, straightened her eye in its socket and gave her sandal strap a final test-jerk..

  2. Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

    Cheryl, I love this Loretta…red wedgies,left hand, fake eye and all. She knows her mind and has the determination of a menopausal woman fighting for a bargin at Macey’s the day before Christmas. Enjoyable to say the least.

  3. Wow! Short, sweet and to the point with a ton of imagination! Great work and what a fun read. I actually chuckled when I read about all those red sandals she ordered with straps which used to be her favorite color… And her neck! I’m glad to see that there’s a happy ending where she’s going to turn her life around. I wonder which gentleman she will pick? Maybe another story? 🙂

  4. You’re sweet, Cali. I’m thrilled to read your positive comments. Today is definitely a good day for me, thanks to you and Peanut!! Thanks for making my day.

  5. I love Loretta’s spunk. You go girl! You’re ever the romantic optimist or maybe an optimistic romantic. What a fun read!

  6. It never occurred to me that she was menapausal, but it was great fun to imagine her having forgotten about time in her pleasure at living. Now she’s looking for stability! I bet she’s a painter.

  7. Well Loretta was wondering how she was going to pay her mortgage this week since she bought two dozen shoes of every shade of red while on the library computer. She thought she had hit the one dozen button but the two came up. She could not find a way to delete the order and no phone number was on the web site. Loretta swore under her breath not wanting anyone to hear her , since she was the old maid librarian in the town. That’s what happen when you try a new shoe store on line. Or was it that her glass eye was dirty and needed cleaning. She would have to get somewhere and clean it. People got kind of turned off when she took it out and polished it in front of them.
    When she got back to her desk Cora was there. Loretta was still muttering about the order and how to cancel it. The ten year old ask if she could help.
    “Sure try and see what you can do.”
    Quick and easy Cora hit a few keys and told Loretta the order was canceled and the paper was being printed to prove it.
    “Wow what did you do?”
    “Well I just retraced your steps and saw a box my missed and hit it.” “The company has a cancelation policy good for twenty four hours you just missed it on the second part, small print.”
    “Thanks again”

    “Are you going to be at your grandma’s home when I get there ?” Loretta asked.

    “Sure do you need help there too ?” The girl replied.

    “No I just know you grandma loves to see you.”

    ” See you there.” “Don’t forget the catalogue for the left handed stuff Grandma never thought there was such a thing.” “She’ll be in heaven buying a lot from it.” ” She has such a hard time with some things made only for righties.” with that Cora skipped away.

    • Sounds familiar. Getting a kid to fix an adult’s computer problems. Nice goingl

    • I loved this tale of different generations interacting. Very sweet. Hope you have fun joining in here. Ann creates great, fun prompts. Enjoy!

    • I had to laugh at the idea of a dirty glass eye. And of course, it could be dirty and Loretta wouldn’t even know it, since it was just sitting in her eye socket, without nerve endings. Good one!

  8. I’m soooo glad Loretta didn’t flip her eye out in public and that the ten-year old was able to adjust her shoe order!!

    Funny take on Ann’s prompt. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  9. Loretta grabbed the last pair of red wedgies from the top shelf of her closet. She thought of the first day she wore them. She wore a vibrant purple skirt, banana yellow shirt and the red wedgies. Her boyfriend teased her shielding his eyes and saying, “Aaghh. It’s way too bright in here. I think I’m going blind.” To vex him Loretta ordered eleven more pairs and vowed to wear them every day until the last pair wore out. The shoes had lasted but unfortunately the boyfriend did not.

    Valentine’s Day 2012 and I’m alone again, at least I still have my red wedgies Loretta thought to herself. She decided to post a singles ad in hopes of finding someone interesting. She’d tried speed dating but when the last guy she met took her dancing the klutz accidently elbowed her in the face. Her glass eye popped out and rolled across the dance floor. She was so humiliated that she promised to give up on men all together. That promise lasted a month. Then she ran into an old crush at the library where she worked and, even though a relationship didn’t evolve, she was all too happy to let him be the one that got away.

    She began to scrawl on a piece of paper – single, 49 year-old with glass eye and no money – what a catch! At least I have a sense of humor and two jobs. Maybe I could work that into the ad. Aspiring comedienne, workaholic with loud wardrobe and no money. Not much better. She drafted a few more lame attempts then got serious. After an hour she was satisfied with the ad and transferred it to an index card hoping it was sufficiently legible. In parochial school she was forced to write with her right hand but, in middle school, when she realized she was not right-handed she switched to her left. Now instead of writing well with one hand she wrote poorly with both.

    Loretta took the index card to the local supermarket, El Cid’s Food Market. She thought everyone has to shop for food at some point. She entered the store, headed for the bulletin board and feigned interest in the existing postings. When she was sure no one was nearby she placed her ad in the top left corner. In her haste to leave she turned too quickly and crashed into an unseen stranger. Books and papers flew into the air and onto the floor. Apologizing she quickly bent down to help collect the debris, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you. My right eye, well, it’s, uh, glass.” She noticed the person had suddenly stopped collecting his things. When she glanced up she grinned. It was love at first sight. The handsome gentleman she stared at wore a patch over his left eye.

  10. The small woman dressed in a crimson pants suit, white blouse with Peter Pan collar, and almost-matching red wedgies, jumped as the judge’s gavel cracked down on the oak pedestal.

    “The District Court for the Eighth District of Taos, New Mexico, will come to order,” intoned the judge. “Before the court is Case 2012-157, United States of America versus Loretta Rosso, two counts of wire fraud. The prosecution has rested its case. Mr. Groundsnuffle, the defense may now present its case.”

    “Thank you, Your Honor,” said Defense Attorney Groundsnuffle. “The defense calls Loretta Russo.” As he said this, Groundsnuffle took the elbow of the woman seated beside him in his hand and helped her stand. He then escorted her slowly to the witness stand. He lingered, as if to ascertain the state of the woman’s balance, then returned to his table.

    Loretta lifted her hand when the bailiff approached to administer the oath but quickly switched hands after noticing the expression on his face. “Sorry,” she whispered, hunching her shoulders. “I’m left-handed.”

    Once the oath was completed and the defendant seated, Groundsnuffle began a series of questions meant to identify and “humanize” the woman for the jury. Her history was simple. She had been born and raised in Taos, owned a modest two bedroom bungalow in the older part of town, and worked full time at the Pueblo branch of the city library.

    “Now, Loretta—may I call you ‘Loretta?’” asked the attorney.

    “Please,” she responded.

    “Now, Loretta, you are charged with two counts of wire fraud, which is a federal crime. Do you understand what wire fraud is?”

    “Well, I didn’t until you explained it to me. I Googled it at the library before I was fired, but I still didn’t understand it completely.”

    “There are many kinds of wire fraud, Loretta, but essentially the government thinks you defrauded one Randall Bickerstaff of money by using a computer to gain access to his bank account and removing funds without his permission.”

    “Well, I never…”

    “Loretta, please, just answer my questions. Thank you. Now, how do you know Randall Bickerstaff?”

    “I have a part time job as a Home Health aide. I really needed the extra money because I couldn’t afford to…”

    “Loretta? Keep your answer short and sweet. So, you were employed three nights a week to assist an elderly gentleman with basic health needs, correct?”

    “Yes, he…”

    “At any time,” interrupted Groundsnuffle, “did he give you permission to access his bank account.”

    “Yes.” (A long pause.)

    Groundsnuffle waited. Then, “Would you explain the circumstances, please.”

    “Well, I was fussing about the ink stains on my hand when…Oh, I’m left handed, you see, and when I write, my hand smudges the ink and, well, I was making a fuss one night and Randall heard me and demanded to know what all the caterwauling was about. Well, I wasn’t caterwauling, I was simply tsk-tsking and trying to wipe off the ink with a tissue.”

    “Were you required to fill out health reports? Is that how you got ink on your hand?”

    “Well, yes, I have to do that also. You now, like I have to take his pulse and blood pressure and temperature and record all that. But when this happened, I was making out some checks for him and .. “

    “Checks? Why were you writing checks for him?”

    “Well, he has a hard time seeing the lines to write on, just like me. See I lost an eye one day when I was younger. I was reaching for a pair of spike heels on the top shelf in my closet when they fell and one of them hit me right in the eye. As soon as I was out of the hospital after getting a glass eye, I ordered a dozen pair of wedgies in my favorite color. I’ve never worn high heels since. “

    “Yes, I see. About the checks?”

    “Well, I used to pay all Randall’s bills for him, you know? Like, his utility bills and allowance checks to his nieces and nephews, attorney bills, his broker, and so on. There were quite a few. So one night I got the idea of talking him into online banking at Wells Fargo Bank. At first he didn’t like the idea, and I had to go over and over it before he understood. He didn’t trust computers, you see. Didn’t even own one.

    “So once I got his permission, I showed him on my laptop how I was setting up the online account. He said he didn’t want any “dang-fangled magic contraption” to have his name and all, so I set it up in my name but used a different password.”

    “And then what happened, Loretta?”

    “Well, one day when I was at the library, I went online to pay his bills and what with all the interruptions, I kind of forgot which account I was in—you know how hard those passwords are to remember?—well, I forgot I was in his account and paid all my bills, too. It was an honest mistake. I didn’t mean to take his money. Honest.”

    “Loretta? Didn’t you ever look at the account balance? Didn’t you see there was a lot of money in the account?

    “No, I never looked. I mean, there were so many interruptions and I shouldn’t have been doing it at work, but I was so busy and…. Mr. Groundsnuffle, I’m wearing my last pair of wedgies and I can’t afford to buy any more. I’ll be in flip-flops next. (Sigh.) I just hope they come in red.”

  11. (This turned out long – so I apologize for taking up so much space.)

    She replayed the message Myron left on her phone. “There was a fire at the jail complex and in the all the ruckus he escaped, Loretta. You need to be on high alert.”

    She threw down the phone and sank into the red upholstered chair beside it. Now what was she going to do. Her contact from the witness protection program was her only connection to her past life. She’d made sure to erase anything that could trace her to Taos, New Mexico. She had even changed careers, dyed her hair, and wore glasses, even though she didn’t need them.

    She took off the red framed glasses and rubbed her left eye, remembering why it was not her own – why she now had a glass eye. He’d almost killed her that night. She’d discovered his connection to the drug cartel when she overheard a conversation on the phone. She had picked up the extension in her apartment bedroom at the same time he answered the phone in the living room and had listened long enough to hear the delivery date for a shipment of cocaine and the plan for a murder.

    She had tried to act nonchalant, but her boyfriend, Dimetre, had heard the click when she hung up the extension and had confronted her. That’s when the violence began. He had beaten her to within an inch of her life and left her to die. When she hadn’t shown up for work at the county library the next day, her friend Mona had come to her apartment, found her, and called 911.

    For the past year, the police had been following Demitre and were now hoping to talk to her. They stationed a guard outside her hospital room while she underwent several surgeries to repair the damage to her face. She’d lost her left eye and now had a metal plate in her head, but would recover. She gave the police all the information she heard, which put Dimetre behind bars. It would cost her the life she currently lived, but with no family and at the age of 48, she was fine with it. Lynette disappeared into the witness protection program and became Loretta.
    In Taos, she bought a small two bedroom bungalow and began training as a Home Health Aid. She worked at the local library on the weekends, just because it was her first love. Money was tight but she was getting used to the new arrangement. Her only regret was leaving behind her best friend Mona without an explanation.

    Now a year later, she had a job as a Home Health Aid for an adult foster home and was settled in, but she never let her guard down. She picked up the phone to return Myron’s call.

    “H..h..hello.” The woman was crying. “Who, who is this?”

    “Ah, I’m calling for Myron,” she answered, stunned that someone had access to his private phone.

    “You’re too late. He’s dead,” the woman wailed.

    Myron was her only contact. It would now be up to her to protect herself. She tried not to panic. She was resourceful, she was a quick thinker. She had to figure it out. Should she go to the police here? No, there was no one to confirm her identity or her predicament.

    Loretta was scheduled to work the Friday evening shift, so she dressed in her usual red scrubs and red wedgie sandals . This was the last pair of a dozen she had bought thirty some years ago, the only thing she brought with her to Taos from her past. That and the can of Bear Spray that Myron had given her.

    Her assignment that evening was Miss Ellen, a 92 year-old sweet lady who was wheelchair-bound and attached to an oxygen tank. Miss Ellen’s handsome son Robert came to visit her every evening.

    “You know Loretta, my Robert is a widower and has a good job and a nice car. He’s only 50 and he should get married again. Maybe you’d like to have coffee with him.”

    “Thank you Miss Ellen, but I’m not ready for any attachments right now,” she said, blushing as she looked up to see Robert at the door.

    “We’ll have to see about that. Perhaps dinner tomorrow?” Robert said giving her a friendly smile.

    “She’d love to,” said Miss Ellen, “wouldn’t you dear. The Cozy Corner would be perfect. She’ll meet you there at 6 p.m.”

    “Ah, well, okay then,” Loretta responded. She did think he was handsome and their brief conversations over the past several months had been pleasant.

    But all evening Loretta was distracted, worrying about her problem. She knew she didn’t want a gun. After her surgery she had suddenly become left handed and was not as adept with it as she had been as a right hander. She’d have to make room in her big bulky purse for the Bear Spray. It would now accompany her everywhere. Just in case.

    Saturday morning she dressed a pair of red slacks and a red floral blouse. She fumbled with the strap of the red wedgie and cursed her sudden left handedness. Checking herself in the mirror she straightened her hairdo, gave it one more shot of hairspray, and grabbed her heavy purse, ready for work.

    It was a quiet morning at the library. There were several students at the computers and a dozen patrons wandering the aisles. She was manning the check-out desk, when a man approached and tossed a note on the counter.

    “MEET ME OUTSIDE NOW” was printed in bold letters.

    She looked up into Demitre’s eyes. He grinned maliciously, opening his jacket to show the gun in his hand. He jerked his head towards the side door.

    She couldn’t believe how fast he’d found her. Poor Myron. Shaking, she grabbed her purse from under the counter and headed for the door. Once out to door, she slipped one hand inside her purse and grabbed the can of Bear Spray. She spun towards him and squirted it in his face. He dropped the gun, screamed in agony and fell to the ground.

    He writhed on the ground trying to wipe the dripping foam from his eyes with one hand, and groped for his gun with the other. She kicked it as far away as she could with her toeless red sandal. The side door had locked when they exited, so she sprinted to the front door to call the police.

    When she was assured they were on their way, she ran back to the front door just in time to see Demetre get into a Ford Mustang and drive haphazardly through the parking lot. He gunned the engine when he got to the street and moments later she heard a loud crash and saw flames shoot towards the sky.

    By the time the police and fire department arrived, the car was totally engulfed in flames. After she had given them her statement, they told her the man at the wheel had died.

    Free. She was free.

    Loretta took the rest of the day off and headed towards the downtown mall. A new slinky red dress and some spiked red heels were on the shopping list for her date tonight. The red wedgies were going in the garbage-the last symbol of her old life.

    • Ooh! I enjoyed this harrowing tale. It was a plotting challenge and you worked a lot of plot into it. Nicely done. Perfect length to me but my stories tend to be too long. For the next prompts I’m working on keeping it around 500 words but I enjoy your pieces so the more you write the more I get to read.

    • Wow! You really took charge of the elements Ann provided and went to town building your story. It didn’t seem long to me. You know why? Time flies when I’m having fun!! Great job, Parrot.

  12. I loved the way she sprayed him with bear spray and then kicked the gun out of his hand with an open toed platform sandal. Go girl! She’s a winner!

    Great story.

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