A big E
Macaroni and cheese
An annoying limp
A woman named Red Hannah
“You want to know about Red Hannah?” I answer. A smile breaks across my face and I catch my head moving back and forth as memories of the snowstorm of ’74 fall as heavy as the snow that covered that Saturday morning.
Hannah and I were in love, or maybe in lust. It really didn’t matter. When we broke up I explained to friends that I used her, she used me, and neither one cared. And damn me to hell if I didn’t hear those words come back to me out of the radio several years later. But I digress.
Red Hannah had thick red wavy hair, and I mean thick, feral thick, suiting the wild beast she was if you know what I mean. Freckled across her face, her nose, her neck, down her breasts, tummy, legs and toes.
She got drunk one night waiting for me to get home from the night shift and had numbered about a hundred dots with a marker, like 1, 2, 3, up her legs and across her torso. You get the picture. When I got home she was curled on the couch, wrapped in velour and a bouquet of merlot. I pulled a beer from the fridge and sat at her feet staring at the number “one” on her big toe, the number “two” a bit higher.
She giggled with that love-of-mischief laugh that she tossed around a room like a Frisbee, and pulled the velour away. She took a sip of wine, handed me the marker, and asked if I was any good at numbers.
I made it to twenty five before we gave in to our impulses.
Afterward she declared that she was hungry. Her left leg had fallen asleep and she hobbled to the kitchen with an annoying limp and soon pulled together a saucepan full of macaroni and cheese, the cheap stuff, five boxes for a dollar. She filled a bowl for each of us and we snuggled back under the blanket and watched the snow accumulate on the window sill.
Hannah and I made love several times that weekend, like the weekend before and for a couple weekends after. Oh, occasionally one of us would try to get serious about our relationship, our thing. But the other one had the sense to blow it off.
That Saturday, the one I mentioned, the sun broke through the clouds and shined like fire. We listened to icicles dropping and shattering from the gutters to the pavement three stories below. Red Hannah gave me that infectious smile and without batting an eye said, “Jeff, it’s time for us to move on.” She spoke like she had said it’s time to wash the dishes, or do the laundry. I told her I understood.
Hannah dressed and pulled a few things out of her drawer in the bureau and stuffed them in her tote bag. We walked to the door, not sad, but not smiling. I leaned to her cheek with a kiss and she met my lips with her mouth and more. We held each other perhaps waiting for the other to speak. One of us shuddered just a bit, and as if on cue, she turned and walked out of our life. It was an easy exit, one with a little e, not a big capital E.
I hadn’t thought about Red Hannah for a long time. A real long time. And as I relive my explanation that I gave to my friends, those words echo with such a hollow falseness; the bravado I painted them with now rusted away.
I really did care about your mom.
Quite stunning, Jeff, even without that wham bam ending. There is no hint here that this is constructed out of odd and random elements. Bravo.
Thank you, Ann. That means a lot. Here is a link to an online published story that got its start here, one of your prompts involving a car trip.
I like this, a lot. You have a wonderful way with words.
Geez, Jeff. You get better and better. I was thinking of using the E for an exit sign, but you did so much better with it than I could have. Bravo.
Jeff, this is exquisite.
Like Ann, I love your neat twists at the end of your pieces. Well done again Jeff. I am also enjoying reading your other short fiction on the various web sites you have shared with us here.
Earnestine’s Evangelical Eatery and Dinner Theater, lovingly referred to by the regulars as The Big E was celebrating it’s 25th anniversary. Preparations had been in the works for weeks. Earnestine had purchased new cloth napkins and matching place mats and had invested in a new set of Stage Curtains that complimented the subtle mauve and green tones of each table setting.
She had written a stirring Epistle to open the festivities entitled “ Macaroni and Cheese…Manna of Our Time.” People loved the food at the Big E, and they were willing to sit through Earnestine’s Sermonettes just to be able to chow down on one of the house specialties; Beef and Noodles, Chicken and Noodles, Pork and Noodles, all of which were served over a mount of mashed potatoes drenched in gravy and a dinner roll with Apple Butter. This was WASP Soul Food.
For this special Anniversary event, Earnestine had booked one of the best entertainers available in the whole of Parsons Kansas; Red Hanna who had defected from The Soviet Union during the cold war. Red Hanna, now 73 years old, was once an understudy dancer for the renowned Bolshoi Ballet. While the Ballet company was in New York City for a special performance during United Nations Week, Red Hanna hid away in a stage property box for three days after the Bolshoi went back to their homeland. She was finally discovered by a stage hand because he heard snoring emanating from a box that contained boas and feather hats. The long duration of her confinement caused a contortion in her right leg witch left Hannah with an annoying limp and prevented her from ever going on point again. But she retained her ability to leap and do some modest, flat-footed twirling. She dyed her hair red with henna as a form of disguise, should the KGB ever come looking for her. She also began a long love affair with smoking hemp to control her restless leg syndrome.
So, Red Hannah with Henna hair and a hemp habit was going to be the headliner for Earnestine’s Anniversary Gala. This dedicated 73 year old, flat-footed, pear shaped Ballerina would be presenting a Liturgical Interpretive Dance depicting the debauchery and moral decline of Sodom and Gomorrah, performed to the music of Abba’s “Afternoon Delight.” The climatic scene would be when Red Hannah was transformed into a pillar of Salt, which was constructed mainly out of small Styrofoam balls. Very Dramatic.
In the excitement and rush of opening night , Hannah had inadvertently laid down her stash of hemp on a counter in the kitchen. The cooks mistook it for a bag of parsley and added it to each meal that was served.
Half way through her sermon, Earnestine noticed that the patrons were more animated than usual. The crowd broke out in a spontaneous chorus of “Praise Jesus”, “Hallelujah” and “Far Out.” Earnestine had never expected such an appreciative reception to her lecture. But obviously, the Holy Spirit was moving in a great way and mighty way the night of the Anniversary.
When Red Hannah finally took the stage, the crowd was nearly in a frenzy of laughter and cheers. As the curtain rose, the lights came up on Hannah wearing a sack-cloth Tutu. The music began….
Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight
Gonna grab some afternoon delight.
Red Hannah executed a perfect modified Pirouette into an Arabesque before a “higher-than-a-kite” diner leaped onto the stage, scooped the henna haired ballerina into his arms and exited singing;
Thinkin’ of you’s workin’ up may appetite
Looking forward to a little afternoon delight.
Rubbin’ sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite,
And the thought of rubbin’ you is getting so exciting…..
Sky Rockets in flight
Afternoon Delight !
Hey Peanut, I think this is your best so far! So many great visuals and descriptions, and light-hearted. Jeff
Whoa-loo! Peanut! What a kick.
Very nice. Just one comment though, and I only offer this because Ann is such a stickler for detail (how long does it take to cook chili?) “Afternoon Delight” was done by the Starland Vocal Band and, to my knowledge, not ABBA. And yes, it’s very sad that I know that. 🙂
I think I might have to construct a “Really Old Awful Top Hits Quiz.” Problem is, we’d probably all do really well.
I want to know where I can get a sack cloth tutu. And if I get one, will you autograph it?
Nice to get a dose of Peanut again. Love the music connection. A fun read.
You’re exiting 2013 with a bang!!! Nice job, Peanut.
A woman named Red Hannah
An annoying limp
Macaroni and cheese
A big E
I lived in a humble home with a crooked stoop and a torn screen in the front door. The house was smack dab at the east end of Finley Road where no one drove unless by accident. On those rare occasions, by the time I creaked and groaned up from my chair to say howdy, whoever it was, was gone. I’d raise my scrawny arm and wave at the dust that rose up as the car disappeared. Then, I’d feel empty and grope for something to fill the emptiness.
When folks spoke of me, their stories were of “a woman named Red Hannah.” They knew little of me for I avoided going to town but for bare necessities. An annoying limp made walking real hard so I never wasted my steps. I don’t know where I bought my food. The sign over the door was worn bare except for a big E. No matter. Inside, I knew right where to go for macaroni and cheese, milk, bread, canned fruit and dried beef.
Food worked miracles. When I felt lonely, empty of soul, my stomach talked to me. It asked for fruit and milk first thing every morning. I obediently set the table. Bread, dried beef and milk at my table for one was my high noon grasp for joy. I saved the mac and cheese for my grand finale dinner. Just me and my stomach thought life was good.
We kidded ourselves for a long, long time, that is, until 9:00 in the morning or thereabouts, on June 1st, 1949, a rusty truck stopped at the end of Finley Road and dumped out a crusty old man. He stepped up on my crooked stoop and rattled my door. He didn’t seem in a hurry. I made it to the door before he could go. To make a short story shorter, on account of this accidental visitor, I’m not eating alone anymore.
Life is better with two stomachs to fill.
A genuine charmer Shaddy. I reveled in every lovely detail. Happy New Year my friend.
Shaddy! you need to write more, this was really really good. …”wave to the dust…” loved it.
Ditto what Jeff said, Shaddy. Ditto.
I’m a sucker for happy endings. Red Hannah meets her match! And he’s crusty. The best kind.
“Hey, Red! Red! Over here!”
Red Hanna looked across the heads of the throng and spotted an upraised arm waving frantically, with just enough of an open palm so she could see one of Uncle Sam’s finest greenbacks artfully concealed therein. She nodded towards the owner of the righteous palm, who squeezed his way to the front of the crowd, pulling a young lady behind him. Red used her substantial bulk to block the door from any others.
“Go on in,” said Red, surreptitiously palming and pocketing the money as the man passed beside her and into the open door of the Snake Bit Night Club. She glanced up again and spotted a huge man crossing the rainy street. Red would know that limp anywhere. She ducked her head and turned aside, as much as any red-haired gal standing 6 feet five and a half inches could duck and turn and try to appear invisible.
“How ‘bout me, Red? Huh?” Another potential customer wanted in, but Red knew she’d already exceeded the Fire Marshal’s legal limit of occupancy by a dozen or thereabouts. So let ‘em whine and beg, she thought, aware that the limping man was staring at her.
“C’mon, Red, the band’s about to start,” whined an acne-faced kid in front of her.
“You even old enough to drink, kid?”
“Yeah, look, got my driver’s license right here. See? I’m 22. Right there. See?” Red took the plastic card and inspected it in the dim light.
“Nice try, but a lousy job,” said Red as she handed the card back to the kid.
“Why? What’s the deal? This is legit.”
“Sure,” said Red. “They always spell ‘Minnesota” with a big capital ‘E’ right in the middle of it? Get lost kid.” Now the man was right beside her and took the opportunity to slip in front so she couldn’t ignore him.
“Red? That you under there, Red?”
“Name’s Red, but I don’t know you, mister. Move along. Take your turn.”
“No, I know you, Red. Why you all dressed like this and playing a bouncer? Got a movie gig?’
“Told you I don’t know you. Now step back, sir.” The man stepped to the back of the crowd, but he didn’t leave. An hour later, thumping sounds of heavy metal crashed through the night air when anyone opened the door. The previous crowd had dissipated, off to other bars with lesser-known bands, hoping maybe they could get in to hear Mac and Cheese Attack on another night.
Red hoped the limping man would leave, but no such luck. He approached again when Fred was alone. “Red? You know me. We was right beside each other on the Raider’s offensive line some eight, nine years ago. Earl, Earl Bargo. Remember?”
Red sighed and said, “Yeah, I remember you Earl. How ya doin’? Still limping, I see.”
“Yeah, permanent, I guess. That’s what the docs say anyhow. But what the hell are you doing here? I mean, not every day you run across a star left tackle in drag and acting as a bouncer. What gives, man? You broke or something?”
“No, no, not broke. Doing okay. Well, okay, maybe a little broke. Had some big medical bills a few years ago after I retired from the game. Just trying to make some dough and get caught up.”
“What happened, man? You were in great shape when you left the Raiders. And, now, well, now I don’t know. You look different, man. I mean, besides the long hair and makeup. What’s up.”
Red remained silent for a while and then said, “I’m not in drag, Earl. This is the real me now. I’m a woman, not Bart Hanna. I’m legally Betty Hanna.”
“For real? You’re a woman? Then all those medical bills?”
“Yeah, all those medical bills to go from Bart to Betty, but it’s worth every cent of it.”
The grammar police tried to keel haul me for this, but gave me some leeway because it’s New Year’s Eve.
Fun story, fun twist! Happy new year!
I really liked the way you brought in the elements in the least obvious way. Such a treat to find them! I had visions of Red telling Earl that she’d been a woman all along. Big woman at right tackle. But I suppose the locker room routine would be kinda tough.
Maybe they’ll go on a date–or meet at a bus stop?
Gully, I liked the way you slowly revealed this sex change to us. Very subtle.
Billy Schwartz soon had everything connected and was ready to give it a try. Everything, in this case, was a vintage Montgomery Ward Hy-Fy 4 head “stereo ready” VCR with quazi-automatic tracking. He had scored the machine from the neighbor’s trash on large item pickup day, and he was sure he had something special.
A press of the ‘power on’ button soon produced the first message the machine had likely sent to humanity in decades. “12:00AM 1/1/82 Press ‘MENU’ for setup.” Unfortunately, Billy couldn’t find a ‘menu’ button, but he did see one the had a triangle on it and looked a lot like the ‘play’ button on his iPod, so he gave it a shot.
The machine began to click loudly. A nasty plastic snapping click that started, stopped, and started again. The third time through the process, the clicking was terminated by a single loud SNAP. Billy thought he was screwed, and was just about to pull the plug when a ghostly image appeared on his TV. The screen was filled with sparkles and a horizontal white line that lazily crawled from the bottom to the top of the screen, and then over again. But as he watched, the picture got better, and he could plainly see that he was watching the credits for some ancient motion picture. Finally, the screen was filled with one gigantic message; “Al Knight-Longue Productions.” And then, it went black.
Again, Billy was just about to turn it off when the image of a man behind a desk appeared on the screen. The man wore sunglasses, had greasy looking black hair, a mustache, and a large gold medal that rested against his hairy chest in the space left open by an unbuttoned white shirt. He took a drag on his cigarette and began to speak, “Hi, I’m Al Knight-Longue…”
A message from the past!
Al continued, “I wanna thank you for watching Behind Betty Buttonhole the whole way through. I think you’ll agree, it’s a classy picture, and it’s based on a classic by a guy named F. Scott Fitzgerald. Now, I know the classics ain’t for everybody, so here are some previews for up coming attractions from Al Knight-Longue Productions.”
The scene was now a prison cell. A naked woman was being restrained by two equally naked women with her back to the camera. A man entered the room.
“So Red Hannah, your Five Year Program has failed again! Now you must pay the price.” He reached into a bowl and picked up a handful of macaroni and cheese and slapped her unprotected posterior with the creamy mixture. SMACK!
Hannah, putting up surprisingly little resistance, began to sob, “Oh Victor, must you be so cruel? You know I need it. You know I want it. Why can’t you give it to me?”
“Because you must beg for it, that’s why. Say the words. SAY THEM NOW!”
“No, I, I, can’t. I mustn’t. Oh, Victor…. I can’t help myself. CHEESY GOODNESS, CHEESY GOODNESS, CHEESY GOODNESS.”
With that, the man picked up another handful of macaroni and cheese and slapped it on the woman’s posterior. SMACK!
Billy was now back in the offices of Al Knight-Longue Productions.
Al continued, “How about that? Action adventure from behind the Iron Curtain! That’s pretty exciting. But you know, there’s a lot of interest in medical stuff lately, and we here at Al Knight-Longue Productions think that knowing medical stuff is a good thing. So here’s a preview of a picture that’s all about medical stuff.”
The scene was now a hospital room. A woman wearing nothing but a garter belt, stockings, and excessive eye and lip makeup is lying in a hospital bed. At the foot of the bed, a researcher pulls a rubber glove onto his hand and releases it with a loud SNAP.
“I want to thank you for participating in our research project Ms. Johnson. As I’m sure you know, only 2% of women worldwide have an E. The number that have a big E might be just a few hundred. Your work here will do much to advance our knowledge of E.”
“Oh doctor, anything to advance man’s understanding of a woman’s body, but will it hurt? Searching for the E that is.”
“Ha, ha, not at all Ms. Johnson. Using the E-scope, we’ll begin in the E-zone. Once we’ve checked there, we’ll check everywhere else. You’ll feel it to be sure, but it won’t hurt.”
As the technician picked up the E-scope and moved towards Ms. Johnson, Billy was transported back to Al Knight-Longue Productions once again.
“Serious medical drama that educates as well as entertains. It’s like PBS, only better.”
Al lit another cigarette, “And finally, a heart warming picture for everyone that’s ever lost someone or let them go by mistake. A magical place where the love of your life can’t get away. The Island of Limb Length Discrepancy. Grandma’s annoying limp this ain’t.”
A beautiful woman wearing nothing but sunshine was standing on a beach in front of a crystal clear ocean. She smiled impishly at the camera.
“Hi, my name’s Ilene, wanna come play with me?” As she took a step forward, it was clear that her left foot had been in a hole, while her right foot was on top of the sand, and she quickly tumbled onto the beach.
“That’s OK, you go on ahead honey. I’ll be right here. I’ll always be here for you my darling. I’ll never run away.”
Back in Al’s office, he wrapped up his pitch. “When you go to the video store, ask to see the back room. When you’re in there, rent a quality product that will make you want to watch the whole picture and not just the first five minutes. Ask for Al Knight-Longue Productions by name. You’ll be glad you did.”
With that, the screen went black. Now Billy knew, he really did have something special.
I really like your idea of finding some old video or computer equipment in the trash and then finding messages from the past (or outer/inner space). Lots of potential in that idea, as you so aptly show. My favorite was the macaroni scene. It’s clear you need little encouragement to galumph around.
You must have a really interesting attic, or some very weird and disturbing dreams.
My hometown was full of interesting characters. One was a woman named Red Hanna, that was our name for her anyway. Her real name was Hanna Motova, and hailed from somewhere in the depths of Siberia. We called her Red because she was the only Communist that we knew. The rumor was that she was the love child of Leonid Brezhnev and Bess Truman, but that was never proven. She wasn’t a bad looking woman, as least as a junior higher I didn’t think so, but she was on the strange side. You’d ask her a question and she’d say, “A big E” and then go into a rant about how Macaroni and Cheese was best if you added some tripe to it. She always had a glass of red Kool-Aid in her hand and a paper sack that had our imaginations running wild. Some said it was her dead cat that she brought from Russia, others said it was the hand of her lover back home, others said it was a pickle loaf sandwich. I didn’t want to know, especially since I worked at the grocery store sacking groceries and had seen her buy pickle loaf. Red Hanna lived in a hut down across from the grain elevator.
I always felt sorry for Red Hanna, she walked with an annoying limp which she tried to hid by walking with on foot on the curb while the other was in the street. She could make you sea sick if you watched her bopping up and down as she walked. She always swung her arm with the paper bag high in the air while she was walking. If there was a strong head wind, she would turn around and walk backwards. If it rained, she would put a laundry basket over her head. It didn’t matter the weather Red Hanna was going to be going somewhere.
One day she didn’t make her appointed rounds and the police was sent to check on her. She wasn’t at her shack, and to this day there hasn’t been a sign of her anywhere. Of course the rumors ran wild about how the Russians kidnapped her to take her back to the homeland, and they could be right since sitting on her kitchen table was her glass of red Kool-Aid and her paper bag.
Your creativity and writing skills are set on high and we’re just one step into 2014!!! Good ‘un!!!!
I don’t know why, but my favorite detail here was how her hut was down across from the grain elevator. I mean, how often do we get to read about grain elevators? Or pickle loaf for that matter. Happy New Year, Walk!
There is a massive grain elevator and terminal at Churchill, Manitoba, on Hudson Bay. One night a polar bear (there are many around there) grabbed a fire extinguisher off the wall of a nearby white building and bit through the hose. Pink fire suppressant sprayed all over the place, leaving the perfect outline of a bear against the white wall of the building, as well as pink footprints of a large bear wandering off across the tundra. Google Churchill and you’ll see a beautiful shot of the grain terminal. Churchill is a fascinating place with lots of history interconnected with the US.
Hi Ann and Co.,
This is “K” from your latest class. Can I play?
Detective Breyn was examining a stain over a big E of an old compass, when it dawned on him that Red Hannah’s claim that poisoned mac & cheese gave the victim that annoying limp might not be entirely true.
I just read your short creative piece last night and was very intrigued. Yes, I hope you will stop by here often and play to your heart’s content. It’s not everyone who can put those four elements into one sentence like you did above! Perhaps this is the beginning of a longer story? Who knows. Do keep in touch. –Ann
Thank you for reading and responding to my story last night, Ann. Thank you for your kind words. And in case you haven’t noticed yet, I wrote a short reply in the same thread.
Stories are often longer than we give them credit for.
Excellent one sentence story! Welcome to Ann Writes.
Welcome to the playground K. Just a friendly cautionary note….some of the folks here are a bit touched. It is the aftereffect of prolonged galumphing.
I guess, I’m in the right place then… Thanks.
Hi Konstantin: a big Texas “howdy” from Texas, Jeff
Like your style K. Looking forward to more.
Welcome, K. Stay and Play.
Thank you, Gullible.
Konstantin was born in Russia (if my memory is right). He’ll fit right in since we have Gullible from Alaska, Peanutberanski from Indiana, Walk from Oklahoma, Shaddy from Wisconsin, and FigMince (if he ever shows up) from an island off the Australian coast. I don’t know where Jeff and Gary are from, but maybe they’ll tell us. There are more, so perhaps we’ll find out from where. We used to have a rather amazing writer named Waldo, but he has been AWOL for some time. (Where the heck IS Waldo?) I like to tell people that I live in Pago Pago, but truth is, I’m a fiction writer.
This is sort of the United Nations of Writing Blogs. Hail to our Chief…..Lady Linquist. and Happy New Year .
P.S. My Papa once played Polo in Pago Pago .
I would like sometime to write a poem using Pago Pago as a rhyming word as I understand the pronunciation is Pango Pango. Hmm “Last Tango in Pango Pango.” LOL
You are correct, Ann. I grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Then a tornado transported me, without a house, to the States, where I’ve been battling The Wicked Witch of the Midwest in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the past twenty years.
The Witch is kind of boring. She drinks beer, watches football all day and doesn’t even have flying monkeys.
Nevertheless, her pale face contrasts sharply with her ever darker dresses, reminding me of some character out of a Bergman’s movie. She keeps inviting me for a chess match. Don’t know what this is all about….
You are a very welcome addition to this site, Konstantin. I loved your last post!!!
St. Petersburg! Lovely city, with a fascinating history. I visited there a few years ago.
Thank you, Cheryl.
Gullible, It is a beautiful city. I miss it very much. It’s great that you were able to visit it.
I was born in a part of New Jersey that is entirely unlike any stereotype of New Jersey you’ve ever encountered. However, I’ve spent the last few decades living in “Amish Country” in south central Pennsylvania, although I’m not actually not Amish.
Ok Jeff….GAME ON !
There once was a dwarf from Pago Pago,
Who lived in a house made of Legos.
His only weakness in life,
except for his wife,
Was pastrami and a big swig of Fago.
You rose to the occasion, Peanut, and you did so, splendidly. Very entertaining, indeed.
Ok Jeff and Peanut, love a good rhyme:
I remember my trip to Pago Pago
Through the windy city of Chicago.
Sat next to a man, a former gestapo.
Whose name was Jerry Santiago.
He deplaned in Morocco,
Said he had a craving for an Avocado.
A couple in love in Durango
Danced to the hot beat of a tango.
The snow on the ground
Chilled their feet and they found
They would rather be in love in Pago Pago.
Orlando, where are you? I think either Gary or Jeff is in Texas, and if that state hasn’t seceded yet, they are in the US. Fig is on sabbatical from computers for a while, but I hope he comes back.
Orlando posted the reason for his absence on “Orlando’s Back.”
Gully, I’m here next to you, so close that I can see the green in your eyes and smell the perfume in your hair.
I guess I’ve been posted in wrong places. I’m kind of lost as to where should I post what. Nice to hear from you. Take care.
I’m lost, too.
I have to appologize to all you wonderful writers, for not commenting on your fantastic works, but I have been crazy busy over the past month, volunteering for the Huntington Library in nearby San Marino, California. (www.huntington.org) is their website for more info on this fabulous Estate. I am officially an Estate Docent, which means I take groups of ten to fifteen people at a time on a one hour tour that covers all the exciting things to see at The Huntington.
This is Rose Parade and Rose Bowl time in Pasadena, my home town, and both events bring tons of visitors to the area from all over the U.S., and all over the world. So the spill off to The Huntington is huge.
For example on New Year’s Eve day, we had two hundred and eighty people arrive around noon in six separate busses for Estate Tours. There were twenty-seven total docents like myself on hand to corrall them into groups of twelve and head out onto the property for their tours. It was organized chaos. Fortunately the Southern California weather held at a perfect sunny 72 degrees, which of course amazed those guests from the colder climes of the East Coast and Europe.
To give you an idea of the logistics involved, each bus was identified with a large letter in the front window. A group of six docents was assigned to each bus, and did a meet and greet as they pulled in to an unloading area near the main entrance. I was assigned to bus D.
As it arrived, I noticed that the bus directly behind, with a huge E in the front window, stopped perilously close to my bus. I was waiting for our folks to disembark, and as I looked back at bus E, I saw her. It had been over thirty years since our lust filled days while we were both students at Pasadena High School, Her red hair was fading to grey, but there was no question that it was Hannah. She still had that unfortunate limp from the auto accident that ended our relationship.
“Hannah!” I shouted as I broke ranks and headed her way. She was traveling alone, and it startled her to hear her name shouted out with so much gusto.
“Well, Gale,” she smiled, “look at you. All decked out with a name tag and everything. A pleasant surprise.” My heart melted. Forget the fact that Cindy and I have been married for over twenty-five years. My emotions lost all sense of control. I felt like I had just fallen off a cliff. I tried to conceal my feelings, but was never very good at that. If you want to know what I am thinking or feeling, all you need do is look at my countenance.
“I’ve got to do this tour.” I stammered, looking back to my bewildered docent friends at bus D.
“Can I meet you after?”
“Of course.Where?” she asked with that sexual twinkle in her clear blue eyes.
“There is a small cafeteria on the grounds, “ I said a little too quickly, “say around two?”
As Hannah hunkered over a small plate of pre-packaged macaroni and cheese, she told me of her life over that past thirty years. She had married Jack, the guy who she had been dating prior to our one year roller coaster ride of sexual discovery as two fifteen year olds. She has two kids, both in college, and Jack passed away last year after a bout with cancer. The reality of my life finally fought away all the emotion I had been feeling earlier. She kissed me gently and we said good-by.
When I arrived home after the last tour, Cindy greeted me at the door with a big hug.
“I am so proud of you being a volunteer at the Huntington,” she said. Then she looked deep into my eyes. “You finally ran into Hannah didn’t you. I can see it all over your face. Let’s go out to dinner, and you can tell me all about it.”
It’s fun to read this because we don’t know where the reality ends and the fiction begins. Good for you. I enjoyed it.
Always appreciate an attaboy from you, Ann.
(warning: my English writing skills are rudimentary and the reader, most surely fill find mistakes of all sorts; grammar, verbs used in the wrong tense, etc. Read the story and forgive the mistakes (Lando)
A big E macaroni and Cheese an annoying limp a woman named red Hannah
It was a miserable late autumn night in New York City. A strong wind was blowing wild throughout the cannon streets of Lower Manhattan and an icy rain was about to come down.
She was hurrying as much as she could pulling a two wheeler grocery cart in which she had all of her possessions.
Finally, she reached the Mission House a minute after she felt the first drops of rain hitting her plastic cowboy hat.
She opened the door and came into what everyone called The House, bringing the grocery cart with her.
The House was poorly illuminated with low voltage bulbs; the linoleum was missing in some areas and the entire place had a strange pungent smell impossible to identify.
On the right hand side of the spacious saloon there were a good number of long rustic tables with benches on each side. On the left side there were chairs arranged in lines one next to the other directed towards a pulpit. On the middle, there was the counter for the food with the kitchen in the back.
Closed to the entrance door there was a heavy man sitting behind an old beaten desk.
She went to the man behind the desk and said “good evening”.
The man, in a raspy and tiresome voice, responded in the same manner and asked how could he be of help.
“Well” she said “I’m looking for a place to sleep and a hot meal. Could you provide that?”.
“You are lucky” He was about to continue but she interrupted him.
“Me lucky? How did you figured that out?. Was it on account of the fine clothing I’m wearing or the jewelry I have around my neck and on my fingers“?
“Please lady don’t be sarcastic, I’m just trying to help. As I was saying, you are lucky because we still have one bed left, and the kitchen will be opened for ten more minutes”.
“And what do we have for dinner tonight”? asked the lady, again with the sarcastic tone in her voice “let me guess. We have some caviar as an appetizer; a 3 pounds lobster accompanied with a cascade of French fries and boiled vegetables as the main course, and a soufflé for dessert”. Right“?.
The man looked at her over his spectacles and said “Not today. That was what we had yesterday. Today we have watered down soup of some kind, macaroni and cheese and for dessert, donuts that have been waiting for you since this morning”. and he continued enjoying his remark “too bad you missed the big meal by one day”.
“That’s the story of my life. I always miss the important things. I missed having good parents; I missed having a normal foster home; I missed a good schooling, a good husband. Seems that I never being in the right place at the right time”. She concluded with sadness in her voice.
The man took off his spectacles taking a good look at her. What he saw was the same type of person he has seen coming into The House for the last 24 years, asking for a place to sleep and a hot meal: a person wrapped in rags and unfitted garments off all types who had suffered a long miserable life of abuse, neglect and abandonment. People with twisted past, horrible present and no future, trying to survive one more day.
Putting his spectacles back the man grabbed a pen a paper form.
“I guess you name would be Eva or Ellen”.
“No, my name is Hannah Harris. Why did you say it was Eva or Ellen?”.
“So what with the big E stitched on your coat?.
The woman looked down at the side of her coat noticing the big E for the first time.
“I don’t know. I got the this coat at the Salvation Army store down the street.
It is pretty long for me but it is warm and soft inside”.
“Age”. the man continued.
“Not sure; 56 or 57, perhaps 58”.
“We’ll put down 57”.
“Do you want the one night deal or the 4 days stay”, he asked.
“What’s the difference”.
“The one night deal is simple; you come, eat, sleep one night and leave before 9 of the following morning. On the 4 days stay, you get 3 square meals per day, a reserved bed and a roof above your head. At the end of the fourth day we give you $20.00 cash. In exchange you have to help cleaning the place and washing dishes. What would it be”.
After a brief moment of hesitation, Hannah responded “I take the 4 days stay. I like the charm of this resort”.
“Good, let me registered you for the four days“. The man put the paper form he just filled aside and took a thin notebook to make the notation.
“This is funny” he said “we registered another Hannah in the afternoon who also selected the 4 days plan. Now we have two women named Hannah in the place. One Harris and the other Roberts”.
“You have to differentiate us somehow, I guess”, Hannah suggested
“Well you could be Red Hannah on account of the red hair coming out of your hat”.
“How about the other?”.
“I see that the person who registered the previous Hannah, wrote a remark next to her name that says that she walks with an annoying limp,
However, we couldn’t possible called her by making reference to her handicap. We will call her First Hannah. So the differentiation is settled”.
“Here” he said, extending a green plastic tag the size of a credit card to Hannah “show this card to the morning supervisor who will assign your responsibilities for the day”. And now, hurry up and get your food before they close the kitchen. You will find your bed at the very end of that hall“ he concluded pointing the way.
Hannah took the card and went to the counter where a gaunt looking man with long thin arms, sunken dark eyes and in desperate need of a shave and a clean apron, served her the meager food left.
Your compassion AND creativity shine bright and clear in this story. Those pretty nurses who treated your ear infection must have magical powers beyond medical knowledge. You’re up and writing up a storm already!!!
Good one. Your characters don’t sound like stereotypes, but real people who have a lot of history behind them. I hope you’ll keep posting here, Orlando.
Ann, three questions for you.
1. How could you be up at 4:29 am reading goofy stories?
2 Excuse me for not asking before but, is there a fee or a charge for belonging here? I’ll be more than happy to pay for the pleasure of knowing that you and others are reading each other works and making comments.
3 I have new story to post. Where do I post it?.
1. It was likely more around 1:39 AM since this site is located somewhere other than where I am.
2. No fee. This blog site is my recess from responding to students in the online courses. I’m not always here to comment, but I usually read everything.
3. I’d post it at the most recent challenge. People do that from time to time. Apologize to everyone for being off topic, and no one will mind.
Hi Lando – no apology is ever needed here. Your story shows talent for writing, imagination and creativity without being predictable. There are some really good lines in this story. I hope you will be a regular here, Jeff
Jeff, thank you for your encouraging words. Sorry for not having responded earlier. Read your interesting and well put together story about red Hannah.
There is a lot of talent in this group.
I have done a final edit on Red Hanna and it is posted at Shortbread Stories along with some other writings that began as projects here as well as some other things you haven’t read. If you are having a slow day, I invite you to take a look. Jeff
Jeff, I’m new here, from a recent first class of Ann’s. Your story of Red Hanna was a keeper, until the last BAM, as Ann called it. That took it over the top. You’re a master story teller!
Meegiemom from Ann’s Story Tellers 2013
Thank you very much. It was a joy to write. I look forward to our participation here. Jeff
ATTENTION: Orlando has posted a four part story on Ann’s Orlando’s Back page. I suggested to him that he post it here but if you can’t wait, go back to the previous page to check it out.
Orlando, you don’t know me, but I’m with one of Ann’s creative writing groups, Ann’s Story Tellers 2013. I have fun taking real people and turning them into someone else, changing their names, and writing a story about them. I hope you don’t mind, but you’re my latest victim! I purposely leave unanswered questions. I suppose I hope it will make folks want more of this imaginary man of mine. I hope you like him.
By the way, I love what you write.
Mando is a little guy with charm, a convertible and a panama hat. Not as young as he once was and in poor health, he spends his days in a tiny apartment, writing about his past glories. Oh, once he was so sexy with that shiny black hair curling from beneath his hat and those striking blue eyes.
He almost gave up the dream of writing since his command of English was not anything he was proud of, and he never did go to school after he came to America. Only, recently has he found a group of other writers who are genuinely interested in his work. It is so good to be involved in something again after all this time.
His daughter tells him, “Papa, you stay in and keep warm today. I’ll be back after work and fix you a nice dinner.” The minute he sees her car head down the street, Mando grabs his cane, plants his Panama on his head at just the right angle, and heads out the door. The men at the cigar shop will be waiting for him to begin the morning’s card game, and he can’t wait to light up one of those Cuban cigarettes.
He hobbles out the door and climbs into his battered old car. The top won’t go down anymore since last time his daughter took it to her repairman…he wonders why.
Luckily, there’s a parking place right in front of the shop, and as he pulls in he can see his friends sitting with their morning coffee, waiting for him. “Hola, Mando, you finally got away from that big black horse you’re training. Come, tell us when he’s going to be ready to race.”
Meegiemom: thanks for your imaginary story about me. Very creative and entertaining. Of course I don’t mind you taking me as your new victim.
Perhaps, I will reply in kind and produce an imaginary story about you.
Lando, maybe we could take this thing to a whole new level…sounds like fun! Go for it, but no fair peeking.
A woman named Red Hanna gave me this peculiar recipe for macaroni and cheese. My husband often asks for it, and I usually try to comply. Unfortunately, today I have an annoying limp and don’t have a lot of enthusiasm for cooking. However, the idea of changing it up a bit and adding yet another cheese gives me renewed interest. This time I think it will be the big E, emmentaller. I love that I don’t have to boil the macaroni.
I like your hobby! It’s one that will come in handy when you’re sitting around a hospital waiting room or an airport. Great details here as well as creativity.
“I have fun taking real people and turning them into someone else, changing their names, and writing a story about them.”
I understand now, Ann. Thanks for helping me get brave enough to try writing.
Ann, where do I post a new story?
I would post it under the newest writing challenge I’ve posted. People do that from time to time, and it’s fine.
Ann, I posted Greta and Alvin’s story last evening, after revising and rewriting umpteen times, only to find I had not finished rewriting the paragraph about the doctor requesting additional testing. I worked so hard on that, and I’m pleased with it, but I would really like to post the corrected version. Could you delete it and let me repost? Would you……pleeeese?
I am getting so much out of your blog, and find that I’m averaging one story a day. As soon as a topic pops into my head I’m at the computer. It’s killing my back, but I’m so into this. Great brain food! (I know, need to cure that ! habit!)
Thanks so much, and if you can’t do it, I’ll deal with what’s already posted.
Ann, is this a personal email address? I would like to ask you a couple of questions before signing up for another class.
Would you mind taking a quick look at my blog..jeriktodd.wordpress.com? It would give you an idea of the sort of writing I’ve done so far.
I’d never taken this seriously till I took your class. How I wish you had BWW II.
I don’t believe my email address does appear here. Actually, I don’t do much blog reading since I am far too busy teaching.
Hi Again Ann
I took your DWW class in November, and got so much from it. Now I’m finishing Writerific, and feel I got nothing from it. I need to find another class and don’t have any idea what might work. I want to write and have it read/critiqued by my instructor and my peers, as in your class. I’m mostly interested in creative nonfiction, much from personal experiences. I’m too old and aching to go to conferences, so must work on my own at home.
As far as I can tell there’s no logical follow up to DWW unless you want to write fiction.
I would appreciate any suggestions.
Thanks so much, Ann
Jeri, I have taken many online writing courses, I’ve even taken Ann’s class twice as well as her Grammar class, which is a must. I took most of Eva Shaw’s classes and I must admit that her approach is quite different from Ann, but I think you might really enjoy “Write your life story” with Shaw. She presents very useful material, especially in the area you mentioned about “personal experiences”. I hope you find my comment helpful.
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by Ann Linquist
Available in paperback or on Kindle