Post a Story

Now that I found a lot of old stories and organized them, I thought I’d post one.  Since I get to indulge myself, why don’t you post something you wrote that you like? 

Squeezing More Out of Life

by Ann Linquist

My head has ached for days, seven now I think. I try to do too much; I admit it. With my 50-hour work week, the constant running to pick up and drop off kids, the impromptu dinner parties that I pretend are so easy, I end up with a headache I just can’t shake off.

It’s as if an angry old troll perches on my shoulder, his eyes popping, and his mouth in a wild leer while he squeezes the big muscle coming off my neck. He always goes for the right side, my working side, the side that scribbles the notes, grabs the phone, hefts the bag, and stirs the sauce.

I picture a wizened little man, dwarf gray. His long bony fingers are brown with age, but strong and tipped with sharp talons. When he finds a good chunk of shoulder muscle, he squats, burrowing deep into the tissue with wiry fingers. He uses his feet for maximum leverage, digging in with his toes. He works his way up the muscle, hand over hand, until he reaches the base of my skull. Then he bites me to make sure he gets my attention.

The little man doesn’t relax even when I sleep. He loves it when he can make me open my eyes by giving me a vicious pinch so I’m trapped in a purgatory of wakefulness. He tiptoes, grinning, up my face to deliver a head butt. On the way down, he elbows my temple.

“I’m all yours,” he whispers in my ear. “You made me.”

I always grit my teeth when he says that because he’s right, I did. For some reason I made him crabby, frustrated, and stubborn. I don’t know why I did that since he treats me as if I’m a doll he’s tired of playing with and now just likes to torture.

He’s not evil, but he is obsessively preoccupied with his mission. He’s a specialist, an acupuncturist gone wrong. He rocks back on his heels, his clutches sunk deep into my aching shoulder, and gives it all a twist. “How’s that?”

I resent the way he relishes his task, how he fine-tunes his talent at tormenting me. I’m often tempted to beat on him with a stick, or better yet, a club, as if hitting the sore spot will make him loosen his furious grip.

“Stop!” I scream at him. Then I slow down and try to regain control. “That’s enough,” I purr. I know it’s better to approach the problem in a calm, measured way. After all, it’s just a tension headache. There is no little man.

To cope, I indulge in my favorite fantasy. I’m lying in bed, resting my sore head and tired body. I can stay there as long as I want, reading books, watching movies, taking naps.

But come on! I‘ve got a desk full of work, a Saturday meeting, two conference calls coming in at 1:00 PM, and I said I’d bring cookies to the twelve-year-old’s soccer game. If I skip lunch….

I squint my eyes, grit my teeth, and command my body to rise. Grim determination is my best ally. The problem is that my temper often rises too. It’s that imp up there, tying my shoulder in knots.

I’ve got to relax and face this problem rationally. There must be meaning here; I prefer to believe things work that way. One has headaches for a reason. I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and meditate on my pain. I see myself leafing through the pages of my life, sifting thoughts and impressions, probing my feelings. I find….

I find that I don’t really have time for this right now. So. I’ve got a headache. Big deal. I’ll do what I always do: square my shoulders, put my head down, and go. It’s just that there’s this little demon on my shoulder, riding me like a bronco. I try to concentrate on the next task and forget the little devil digging his spurs into my vulnerable flesh, waving his hat with a great big grin, and hollering, “Yeehaa!” Maybe one day he’ll finally make me sick enough that I have to slow down.

On the other hand, maybe I’ll start working out with weights. I could fit in a half hour of power lifting before I collapse into bed at night. In no time at all I’ll be so lean and mean that I can beat that little man at his own game. When he squints his eyes and grits his teeth at me, I’ll be a match for him. Then we’ll see who squeezes whom.

19 responses to “Post a Story

  1. For a guy who has had headaches that last for months at a time. I totally get that one.

  2. This is a story that I posted on my blog a while back. Social satire if you will. This would be the link to the original. http://bit.ly/1wl0DCS
    I have the text below to make it easy. 🙂
    ———-
    Assimilation Report

    Quivering at a meager five feet and 9 inches tall, he stood to give his presentation. “Barksdale, reporting assimilation progress.” Clearing his throat, he waited for the response.

    The oval table in the room held comfortably 12 individuals. However, today there were only four present. This included Barksdale and his three superiors. This meeting was a special meeting. Barksdale is an assimilation reconnaissance field agent for the company. His job, as it has been fora considerable time of his career,is to evaluate social assimilation within indigenous species. Barksdale stands at the opposite end of the table from the other three.

    At the head of the oval table sat the larger of the three. His gaze was firmly planted on the report in front of him. Lowering the report, his eyes bored through the air across the table. With a grimace, his upper lip separated from the lower. “Report it then.”

    A tiny bead of sweat rolled down Barksdale’s left temple. “As you know, the first assimilation team studied the atmosphere, soil content, temperature variations and potential collision paths with all know space debris.”

    The upper lip of the boss was still cocked in a grimace. His head tilted slightly to the left and down, He spat out, “Get to the point.”

    A tiny bead of sweat rolled around his hairline to his cheek. Barksdale reached up and swiped it with a shaky hand. He sucked in a short breath. “Yes, sir. The dominant inhabitant of the planet is a species that closely matches our own. They communicate similarly as we do. Eat comparable foods. They even procreate in most the same fashion as we do.” Pausing to take two short breaths and wipe the collection of sweat beads that were now forming on his forehead he continued. “However, there is conclusive evidence that many are born with an affliction.” Barksdale rocked back onto his heels. “Of these, many are terminal.”

    The boss’s forehead wrinkled as his eyebrows rose to his question. “What? There has been no report of a wide spread disease. If so many are afflicted, as you are saying, how are they maintaining dominance?”

    Barksdale looked directly into the eyes of his boss. “The affliction isn’t really a disease. It does not directly affect the longevity of the afflicted.” He turned slightly to the left and right to look at the other members of the meeting. He reached a clammy hand to this back of his neck and gave it a gentle squeeze. “It is actually remarkable that the minority not afflicted support and maintain those who are. Not always directly, mind you. However, even with the support those afflicted still find ways to demonstrate their affliction. Many to their detriment.”

    “Are you telling me that there is something on this planet that will not allow us to assimilate?” The bosses head rolled to the center of his shoulders and forward slightly. His hand still gripped the report.

    “Sir, to summarize the conclusion of the report, our findings indicate this potential host planet-” he looked to the ceiling of the room. He took two more short breaths, “this reconnaissance team recommends-”

    “Just spit it out, Barksdale!”

    “Well, sir, all indications point to : Some people are born stupid and never get over it.”

  3. Ann,
    Loved the story but not my total ability to relate to the evil little troll on the right side, in the muscle of your neck and shoulder. Gee whiz does he travel by space warp because my shoulder muscle has a strange tightening and impending pain as I type.

  4. When I was a pink haired four year old, I should have guessed the remaining years of my life would be filled with nothing but endless entertainment. Being the youngest of two brothers and a sister there was always something interesting going on. The first big incident was my summer before entering kindergarten, my parents were out of town for the weekend and there was a can of temporary hair dye just waiting to be used. My brothers put it upon themselves to make sure I was the victim of every last drop of hot pink dye. Before I washed my hair out they didn’t think about the evidence they were collecting when they took my parents camera to snap a picture of my new hair and dog on the front porch. When my parents got home, nothing was out of the ordinary – that was until my mom developed the film. Needless to say it took my brothers a long time to gain their babysitting rights back. As the years went on, I developed a love/hate relationship with my siblings. Looking back now, all the incidents we had, there was always a lesson to be learned. The biggest lesson was having patience, there were times where even I knew I was being annoying, but for the most part they always tried to keep calm around me. Another lesson I learned was to always defend someone who is weaker than you, even if it means throwing a remote at your brother resulting in your mom’s favorite lamp being broken. Another lesson that is forever etched into my mind is that if I don’t wipe down the shower walls with a squeegee, my dad will take all the trash and leave in on my bed. Luckily my brother learned that lesson for me, and even though my dad passed away four years ago, I still think he’s going to be mad if I don’t do it, then I think to myself, ‘this is ridiculous, if he’s watching over me he’s certainly not watching me in the shower.’
    Now a lot has changed in the fifteen years of me being four, not in the sense of being picked on because that’s still happening. But now that I’m older I can finally stick up for myself, even though my sister still does a pretty good job at that for me. I see my siblings a lot and each day I am more and more thankful for them. There are the occasional days where we all push each other’s buttons, but nothing like when I was little. We don’t whip each other with towels, we don’t scare or chase each other, and now the only time I get dye in my hair is by choice. Now we just call each other names and all have dirty mouths, but the fun I have with my siblings will never stop, and as long as I have them by my side I will never really truly grow up, because what’s the fun in that?

  5. HUMAN RESOURCES

    Human Resources

    Gizmo was well aware that he replaced three men when he was hired by the Empress Cruise Lines. The other guys in the engine room made sure he knew, and that they weren’t at all happy about it.

    They called him names behind his back, not realizing how keen his sense of hearing was. Even over the loud twin diesel engines he could hear things they didn’t want him to hear. They called him “Gizmo” to his face, though, and that wasn’t even his real name. That was fine with him. He’d been called Gizmo ever since he could remember because his real name was almost unpronounceable in English.

    He was a little sorry about putting three men out of work, but he had to work too, didn’t he? Maybe if they worked out the way he did they would have the physical strength to do the things he did. Every time there was a lull in engine room repairs, the other guys started a poker game while Gizmo practiced chin-ups on the overhead rigid hydraulic lines that ran from the bow thrusters to the hydraulic reservoir tank. Over and over and over, hundreds of times. Sometimes he’d swing back and forth, trying to keep the rough calluses built up on the palms and fingers of his hands so he could work on the hot engines without those clumsy gloves.

    But mostly Gizmo kept his head down and his rear end up, in the manner of employees everywhere who just want to do their job and not cause trouble. His knowledge and strong body and work ethic were tailor-made for his success. He’d been taught that at the diesel mechanics vocational school he’d attended.

    He was happy to have the job, even if he was lonely aboard the ship. The other guys in the engine room made attempts to talk to him in the beginning, but after a while they said they couldn’t understand him. Gizmo figured his accent was still too thick, so he’d been working on it. He’d try to mimic the words the others said, but they’d just laugh at him.

    The food was great. He had no complaints about that. Gizmo was a vegetarian and the ship served lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to the crew. He could eat all the salad he wanted, too. The steward had given Gizmo an extra large salad bowl. He preferred it without those nasty, oily dressings. And he almost gagged when the crew ate meat.

    He had no interest in the casinos or in the poker games that sprang up in the crew’s dining room after hours, so he was able to save all his paychecks. He gave them to the ship’s purser, who put them in the ship’s safe.

    The ship sailed Alaska’s Inside Passage every week, and Gizmo appreciated the spectacular scenery. Sometimes when they reached the northern port of Haines the weather would be cold and rainy. He didn’t care for that at all, because Gizmo was from the south and preferred hot weather. He wished he could transfer to a ship that sailed the Caribbean. Maybe even Hawaii. First, though, he had to prove himself on this ship before he could put in for a transfer. The cruise line had taken a big risk in hiring him and it had received lots of complaints from the Seamen’s Union about the loss of three jobs.

    Gizmo fondly remembered his biggest achievement. The main propulsion engine had started leaking oil quite rapidly from the rear main seal while out in the middle of Queen Charlotte Sound. This was the only open water on the voyage and more than half the passengers and crew became seasick after the ship’s Captain shut down the engines so the men could replace the seal. Such was their hurry that the foreman told Gizmo to hold the main shaft while the men removed and replaced the seal. They had an overhead crane for such tasks, but having Gizmo hold it with his brute strength was ten times faster. Not OSHA approved, but faster.

    Even the Captain and the First Mate sent their thanks down to the engine room after that feat. That made Gizmo feel warm and fuzzy, even though he knew they, too, resented him. Those unions were a problem.

    What made Gizmo drop a letter in the mail was the loneliness. He longed to engage others in conversation as he had at vocational school. He wanted to discuss philosophy and technology (he’d minored in computer engineering at school) and—most of all—females. The letter was addressed to the Human Resources Department at HP, the big computer company. It was a job application.

    An answer finally arrived in the mail near the end of the cruise ship’s season. Gizmo ripped open the envelope, read the message, and jumped and jumped for joy. He’d been hired and was to report to HP as soon as he finished his current cruise.

    “Finally!” yelled Gizmo in his native language. “Finally I will get to talk to people.”

    But even Gizmo knew the true reason why he was being hired. He wasn’t a stupid ape like the other mechanics called him. He was a strong, proud mountain gorilla, and he knew HP wanted him because consumers who called tech support wouldn’t be able to understand him at all.

    (This was the result of a galumphing exercise in Ann’s class. The three words were: gorilla, cruise ship, change of employment)

  6. Hank’s Big Reveal
    by Linda McMann

    Hank rolled his broad shoulders and leaned forward against the kitchen island, stretching out the hamstring on each leg. He loved running along the trails in Forest Park. Today’s rainstorm hadn’t bothered him. The grey overcast rainy days of Portland were his favorite—they suited his mood.

    He’d made time for a quick run before dinner, and since it was cooler than usual, he’d had the trails all to himself. The heavy mat of fir needles covering the path gave a spring to his step and the air smelled clean and freshly scrubbed of all the big-city odors.

    He kicked off his beat up running shoes and picked up the set of rolled drawings, spreading them out on the counter-top scrutinizing the design. The house was coming along on schedule, although slightly over budget. The buyers had picked a challenging lot in the West Hills to build their new home. As a general contractor specializing in that area, he was in high demand, not only because of the unique contemporary-designed homes he built, but because of his degree in geology.

    Hank was an expert in dealing with any potential problems that the fault line running the length of the West Hills presented. He’d engineered the complicated building site, calling for the foundation to be reinforced with rebar and concrete pilings driven deep into the ground. He situated the home perfectly to maximize its stability and to take advantage of the views of the Willamette River.

    Although he was one of the younger general contractors in the city at thirty-two, he had a stellar reputation and clients had faith in him. It didn’t hurt that he lived in a unique chrome and glass house he’d designed and built in the hills along the fault line also.

    He ran a hand through his dark wavy hair and glanced at his watch. He had two hours to get ready. Tonight his usual well-worn jeans and tee shirt attire would give way to something more suited for his destination. Hank reached for his cell phone when the “Y-M-C-A” ringtone played. He got kidded about that a lot, but he liked the Village People.

    “Hey, how about meeting me and Jeannine for a drink downtown around six-ish at Kell’s Irish Pub,” said Stephanie, his assistant. “We’ll probably stop at a few other places after that.”

    “No, I’ve got other plans,” he said. “But thanks for asking.”

    “You sure? Jeannine would really like to get to know you.”

    “Yep, I’ll see you Monday.” Stephanie was always trying to set him up with someone even though he did his best to discourage her. He stared off into the distance. It would take someone exceptionally understanding to put up with him and his hectic work schedule, not to mention his hobbies.

    Hank came back to the present and headed for the shower. He practiced a dance move as he sauntered down the hallway and in the shower he sang a few show tunes.

    Two hours later, he parked in the lot behind the well-known downtown building and carefully exited the car. He straightened his clothes before entering a room full of noise, music and lights.

    “Henrietta,” called another patron. “Over here.”

    He carefully smoothed his red sequined gown and pushed a curl from the long brunette wig behind his ear, careful to not disturb the dangling earring clipped there. He sashayed over to the table. “Hi, Darcelle,” he said to Portland’s oldest drag queen. “Looks like business is booming tonight.”

    “All the advertising paid off. They’re coming to see the performance—it’s sold out.”

    In the dressing room, the jitters rumbled in his stomach and his hands shook as he fixed his makeup and wig. Hank took his place on stage and the curtain opened to a round of cheers and applause, and Stephanie and Jeannine in the front row. He panicked and missed the first dance step, but quickly recovered, blending with the others in their rendition of “New York, New York.”

    As he passed by the front of the stage, he saw Stephanie stare at him, her eyes narrowing, intently scrutinizing his face. Her mouth dropped open as she realized it was him. He winked at her and she closed her mouth. She turned to Jeannine, then shook her head and stared back at him.

    He worked “zipping his lips and throwing away the key” into his dance routine. She hesitated, but repeated the gesture with a grin, picking up her glass and toasting him.

    (This is a result of one of Ann’s writing prompts and won honorable mention in last year’s Fall WOW (Women On Writing) Flash Fiction competition. Ann, I can also sympathize with you about the troll who has wormed his way into the muscles of your neck and shoulder. He visits me regularly, also! Perhaps he’s a consequence of the writing profession.)

  7. FLYING WITH EGRETS

    Late each afternoon, as the earth turns and brings respite from the blue-white heat of day, the egrets cease their daily pursuits and take to the wing. Dozens—nay, tens of dozens—of slender white birds fly in waves over the casas and condos, haciendas and houses of the Mexican resort area of Mazatlan as a band of lemon yellow suffuses the horizon.

    Above the small convenience stores called super mercados past the papeleria that sells single sheets of paper or single Band-Aids, still in business despite the behemoth office supply store a half block away around the corner, over the vendor with his two-wheeled cart of tejuinos and large bottles of hot salsa, the egrets fly west into the setting sun. Drafting off each other in “v” formations, they fly between the Norfolk pines and the coconut palms, all in the same direction, hurrying before deep lilac and mauve sink to the horizon in pursuit of the vanishing sun.

    They fly silently, leading with long beaks, trailing equally long legs, their tapered wings carrying them swiftly to a nighttime destination known only to them. I sit in the courtyard with the vacationing guests and residents at Burgos condos and watch the daily migration. Often my first glimpse of the birds is a reflection in the tinted windows of the complex. I look up and see them flying low over the two-story buildings.

    When I first saw them and learned they were egrets, I wondered what they did with their long necks while in flight. Each evening I watched them, looking for the necks. Then, finally, I saw a fleet at a propitious angle and could discern those necks folded back on themselves into a snowy white “s.”

    No one in this group knows where the egrets go at night. I consider various options to learn the secret whereabouts of their evening sanctuary. I ponder how to follow the flock before the indigo blanket of nightfall covers the land. The birds fly too low and too swiftly to track. They abide by their own compasses and do not follow the streets of cobblestones, coarse pavers, and yellow-striped asphalt that delineate pathways for earthbound humans.

    I spend long minutes at Starbucks while Google downloads Google Earth. Perhaps an aerial view, a “bird’s eye” view, will reveal some water sanctuary of which I am not aware. Google Earth shows me man-made canals for the exclusive use of palatial haciendas with private boats, and beyond that, the vast and ever-rolling Pacific Ocean.

    I explore closer to home: Why do I want to know? Surely by the time the birds arrive there, wherever “there” is, the light will be too dark to photograph what must be a mind-boggling number of sleek white birds standing upright, long graceful necks posting their whereabouts.

    And then I decide I don’t need to know, don’t want to know.

    All of us, all the creatures of the earth, need our private sanctuaries, the places we go to rest, recover, and recharge. Like the egrets flying to their place of refuge, we all need that secret destination, even if—perhaps especially if—it’s only a quiet place in our minds.

  8. Lovely, Gully. I felt peaceful just reading this.

  9. Ann, that story of yours was so believable, now I have a headache.

  10. Gullie,
    While I’ve been going back to collect my own stories, I’ve see SO MANY of yours. I hope you are keeping them. You’re very good; very readable.

  11. Amelia Earhart’s Lost Diary

    Copyright © 2014 Gary Treible

    – Introduction –

    —music/singing—

    Lockheed ‘lectra set
    ‘Round the world to fly
    Freckle cream, no gasoline
    Kiss the beach, goodbye.

    —Narrator—

    This single stanza from a popular 1930’s song reminds us of the tragic loss of an American Cultural Icon.

    If you were wondering, that might be Amelia Earhart, who, while flying across the vast Pacific Ocean, experienced a “Donner Party” moment of epic proportion.

    On an around-the-world flight financed by her wealthy husband, George “GP” Putnam, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, flying her highly modified twin-engine Lockheed Electra, failed to make landfall on tiny Howland Island at the appointed time.

    As the hours of long ago turned into days, which slowly became weekends, ponderously becoming months, followed by years, decades, and the rest, the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart have, until now, remained a mystery shrouded in the obscuring haze of the unknown.

    That is, until a recent discovery on the island of Nikumaroro, formerly Gardner Island, may, finally, have possibly, unraveled the fate of the popular aviatrix (girl flier).

    Researchers associated with ‘The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery’ (TIGHAR) have located a one quart Veedol engine lubricant jar containing a “Flying A” oil-change record book that may be (just may be, in fact) Amelia Earhart’s lost diary.

    Here, for the first time, is a transcript of that diary.

    Can this be an actual account of Amelia Earhart’s last fourteen days on Gardner (Nikumaroro) Island?

    You, the humble viewer, may judge for yourself.

    —Sound effect: dah-daaa, duh duh duh—

    — Credit: Amelia Earhart as voiced by recording artist Bonnie Tyler singing “It’s a heart break”—

    Day 1 –

    Gosh, I really don’t even know if it is day one. I took quite a hit on the noggin landing the Electra on the beach. Fred must have dragged me out of the plane as I awoke this AM under the shade of the wing. I used the tweezers from the emergency kit to remove a shard of plexiglass from my chin.

    Since we might be here awhile, and because my recollection of this detour on our world flight will certainly have some financial value to GP, I’m going to start making a few notes in this little book.

    Well, first off, I feel OK, other than my nose sure does hurt and I’m a bit thirsty. I don’t know where Fred is. Fred probably doesn’t know where Fred is either.

    If he did, we would be on Howland Island right now wouldn’t we?

    Well, that’s Fred.

    And, thinking about it, that’s really the point. Where are we? I’m sure the entire United States Navy is looking for us as I write.

    Still, Fred and I are strong. Even if it takes them 12 or 24 hours to find us, we’ll overcome each and every obstacle as they arise.

    Well, signing off for now. I sure am thirsty.

    Day 2 –

    I know people shouldn’t drink ocean water. It tasted good at first, but now I’m really sick. I threw up twice inside the plane. Spent the day lying in pitiful agony under the wing.

    Still, no sign of Fred.

    Day 3 –

    Oh God. Not today.

    Day 4 –

    Feeling better but very thirsty.

    Since the navy is still searching for us, I decided to check the Electra for airworthiness in case I need to take her out myself. Overall, she’s in good shape, except one wing is bent, and I noticed a crack in the fuselage that I was able to patch with some emergency aviation tape. The bent wing is really no problem for a pilot of my skill. I just need to find Fred before we can take off.

    Day 5 –

    Thirsty. Avoiding the ocean, I ventured into the interior. That’s where I found Fred, lounging in the sand as though he had no care in the world. I kicked him, but of course he didn’t wake up. Worthless lout. No champagne for him when we make California.

    Day 6 –

    Hallelujah! It rained all night. Really hard too. I put out the only bottles I had to collect the rain water. Unfortunately they were cosmetic and toiletry containers that weren’t entirely empty.

    Now I’m kind of…

    Sick again.

    Day 7 –

    Bad luck if I’ve ever seen it. The high sea from the storm last night split the Electra in two. Right where I had patched her with tape. Still, no problem though. With a makeshift tail and rudder I could easily fly us to safety.

    Day 8 –

    Today I found Fred playing with coconut crabs. Doing nothing as usual. It seems like each time we experience a setback Fred becomes scattered.

    Day 9 –

    There’s a wonderful little shop on the south-side of the island that sells airplane parts. I’ll sign for GP and get us what we need.

    They said they don’t deliver though.

    Pity.

    Day 10 –

    Another storm last night. I collected water again, but the ocean took half of the Electra. Unfortunately it was the half with the engines, but, given my flying experience, we can easily make it out with what remains.

    There’s a rubber band in the radio kit. If we can just make a propeller….

    Day 11 –

    I bought a delightful chiffon dress with matching gloves at the designer boutique on the south-side of the island. I even saw a bit of Fred today. We didn’t speak, but he gave me the “thumbs up”.

    Fred is so committed to our flight.

    Day 12 –

    I’ve been wondering if the navy men have been to the Electra when we’re not there and thought that perhaps we’re not on this island because we’re not there. Relying on the advanced training that creates superior piloting ability such as I have, I took a page from this book and wrote “This is our plane” on it.

    Using a clothespin I found on the beach, I clipped it to the aluminum sheet separated from the starboard elevator.

    Day 13 –

    The high tide is washing the remains of the Electra into the ocean.

    But, you know what?

    I don’t care.

    I’m queen of the coconut crabs now, and they obey my every command. When I’m rescued, I’ll take my loyal subjects with me. It really doesn’t matter what GP says.

    Day 14 –

    I found this jar full of peaches on the beach.

    Didn’t taste much like peaches though, but I’m gonna put this book in the jar when I’m done and seal it tight because I think the crabs might be plotting against me.

    Little bastards. I’m gonna —unintelligible—

  12. Wonderful! this is as good a theory as any other I’ve heard. Maybe that sheet of metal they found recently will lead to more clues. I think you captured her personality perfectly. Good work. Hope you had as much fun writing this as I had reading it.

  13. THE TRAIN STATION
    Soon after Theodore left Waterloo to attend college his parents divorced, leaving him with no home to return to.

    Upon graduation, he remained in San Francisco accepting a position as a stock broker. In the twenty years since, he never married, had no children, no friends. He never once tried to contact anyone in his family.

    He was summoned back to Waterloo by his grandfather’s attorney, Mr. Bannister.

    His eccentric grandfather, James, had purchased a former train station and established a trust fund for the upkeep. Then he passed away and Theodore became the successor trustee.

    Inside the train station, Mr. Bannister and Theodore sat in the middle of one of the long marble benches. Mr. Bannister gave Theodore a few moments to take stock of his new responsibility, then he would explain James’ reasoning. Small town lawyers were privy to intimate family secrets. Mr. Bannister read the bitterness and anger in Theodore from the clutched jaws to the glaring eyes to the fists punching his knees.

    Theodore tilted his head to inspect the high beamed ceiling. From one of the beams, a knotted rope hung down to the floor. He searched his mind but could’t find a rational explanation for the rope.
    Directly ahead of him was the ticket window with six vertical cast iron bars and a carved oval opening at the bottom. When open, passengers would exchange money for tickets.
    On the left of the window was a large wall clock, the face had the number twelve at each hour. He dismissed the clock knowing it had
    have placed there on a whim by his grandfather.
    The train schedule was posted underneath the clock.
    Against the walls were long old fashioned marble benches for people to sit on while waiting for the arrival of their train.
    On the far right wall was a poster of a circus performance. Theodore wondered if the train had transported the animals. In the far left corner a broom was propped up.

    “I don’t see the point of keeping this building. I would rather sell it and reinvest the money” said Theodore.

    Mr. Bannister turned slightly, staring deeply into Theodore eyes. “I’ll explain why James purchased the station. Listen carefully. At the age of twelve, your grandfather would go to the station every day after school. It was his job to empty the garbage bins, dust and sweep while his own father, worked the ticket counter. Even though there was a clock and a posted schedule, the waiting passengers would ask over and over what time would the train arrive, when would it depart. Your great-grandfather Sam, answered each and every person with respect and courtesy. At closing time, while your great-grandfather counted the till, your grandfather would climb up the knotted rope to knock the cobwebs down with a broom. Then Sam would lock the station up and he and his son would walk home, to a dark house, to start dinner”

    Theodore stared up at the clock, twelve always twelve. Theodore’s shoulders were shaking. “Do you still want to sell?”

  14. It was the time of day when the lights began to flicker outside the Louvre but I did not care. I would hurry. I needed to see her. One last time.

    I walked as quickly as possible, past the Three Sisters Playing Chest, Bonheur, The Laughing Cavalier and The Four Apostles as they did not interest me today.

    As I entered her gallery, an ominous feeling of dread washed over me as I stood and faced the empty glass. How could this be? She, of all the masterpieces, gone? It made no sense.

    And then I spotted her, a girl really, scurrying towards the exit. Heavy black muslin skirts clinging to her thighs. Her soft, chestnut-brown hair, bound for centuries, flowing freely down the corridor. She giggled, I smiled; signaling I would never tell.

    Then she was gone, lost to the ages and my recollection. Back home to her Leonardo, I suppose. Same enigmatic smile upon her face.

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