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Literary Fiction
(Fic)
Welcome to My Garden
by Barry B. Wright


“Welcome to My Garden” is multi-themed in its content. Short stories are a venue for discovery. As a writer, they provide a wonderful playground to experiment and to learn. The value of words and phrases take on a poetic significance in their brevity of deep meaning. In each ending, a seed is planted for the possibility of a novel. Photos were the medium I used to challenge and exhilarate my imagination; the grist so-to-speak, to discover the story hidden within. "Sounds interesting!"

Chapter One
The Decision

Four hours he had made her practice! Four goddamn hours! Until she defiantly screamed out: “Papa! I don’t want to be a ballerina! I will never be one! Do you hear? Never!” Stomping her foot, she crossed her arms tightly across her chest and purposely took on a belligerent stance.

The room flooded with anger so palpable it almost smothered her with its intensity. Attempting to flee ahead of him, she lost as he caught her in mid-flight and began to shake and hit her.

Too ...



Chapter Two
Without A Trace

God! How she had come to loathe him since she had lost her job a month ago.

Lack of money was the only thing he constantly complained about and this evening had quickly gone from bad to darn-right dangerous. She had never seen him so drunk and physically abusive.

Lying on the floor, she wiped the blood from her nose and mouth with the corner of a dish cloth, watching him pace between her and the stove. She feared he would slam his construction boot into her belly; she winced and curled into a...



Chapter Three
Alistair McBubble

Alistair McBubble was born to Florrie and Hugh on March 14, 2013 at precisely 9:47:15 A.M. After delivery, Doctor McAlister completed a few preliminary tests and assured them that Alistair was indeed spherical in shape.

“Ur ye sure? Florrie asked. “Without that shape …well…ay don’t want tae…That shape ensures he has the minimum surface energy and the—“

“Lowest ratio of surface area tae volume,” interjected Dr. McAlister. “I know all o...



Chapter Four
Natalie's Fossil Specimen

Natalie picked up the fragment and began to examine it. With the help of her small magnifying glass she scrutinized it more closely before dropping it into her specimen satchel. She called out to the other two members of her team: “John! Mike! Anything yet?”

John looked at Mike, who was busily digging below the rocky surface. “Mike?” Mike shook his head and continued digging. “Nothing, Natalie. And, you?”

Pushing her glasses back into position on ...



Chapter Five
An Unlikely Hero

Virginia sat at the edge of her bed and re-read the letter from the White House. Looking up, she watched the young lieutenant through the open bedroom door, her thumb gently gliding across President Truman’s signature several times. She noticed his impatience had become more noticeable as he awaited her reply in the living-room.

Sighing deeply, she thought: There can only be the one reply—any other would be foolhardy and dangerous. Looking at her legs, she remembered how her li...



Chapter Six
Forgive Me

The Lysander made a washboard landing in the field beside an old farmhouse.

“Thank you for this, George,” Jill yelled over the drone of the plane’s engine as he brought it to a stop. She stretched over and gave him a peck on the cheek.

“That’s payment enough. Let’s hope…”

She had known George since…well…she couldn’t recollect when she didn’t know him.

“Me too,” she interjected, sighing. “Nasty storm brew...



Chapter Seven
"Lamentation"

Christopher and Adam were deliriously giddy in October 2004 as they splashed accelerant onto the floors and walls of the main block of Hafodunos Hall—a residence in disrepair since 1993. The glint in their eyes was nothing short of evil as their lighted matches hit the floor.

Flames licking hungrily at their heels, they didn’t stop running until they knew they were safe. Cheating death for profit had become a ritual as they flopped down on the slope for a smoke to admire their handiwork...



Chapter Eight
Revelation

Sylvia stopped half way down the stairs and let the music from the piano flow through her, gently kissing the shores of her soul. Her step softened as she descended to the bottom of the stairs and glided across the floor to the living room where the piano tuner tested the results of his art. Standing in the entranceway she watched Jameson’s hands dance across the keys breathing life back into the Heintzman she had bought barely a month ago at an estate auction.

She had met Jameson at the part...



Chapter Nine
It All Began One Night

It all began with a thought, a question and an ability to act.

“Damn! DAMN!” Edgar rolled over and pulled the pillow tightly over his head to block out the sounds of passing vehicles.

Their ‘country home,’ as they called it, was only large enough for Edgar Junior’s crib and the two of them, provided they didn’t want to sit down.

“Are you alright, dear?” whispered his wife, Liliane.

“Oh…I didn’t mean to…”

&...



Chapter Ten
Time Drains Through Days

In rustling of leaves

and beauty of Fall,

stands a quintessential hominess.

A classic perennial charm,

few among the things,

that touch the heart

like the white picket fence.

A simple iconic structure,

its boundary effectiveness assured,

embraces warmth and welcoming

to the weary traveler

who, on homeward bound,

passes through its gate.

Time drains through days

as through the body flows.

Where change unnoticed befor...



Chapter Eleven
Another Row He Goes

Crooked fingers steer ahead.

Another row he goes.

Spinal entrails trail behind,

like autumn’s earth before.

Dreams—long in tooth—

like swirling leaves scattered

in their fateful flight.

Each clouded breath’s opportunity

misspent words for blight.

Another row he goes.

Naked truths, fingers point.

Another row he goes.

Furrowed brow, windows cracked.

Another row he goes.

Leathered skin pierced sharply...



Chapter Twelve
The Duckling Makes A Stand

Morning programs for young children are quite enlightening. Squeals of delight from my granddaughter, Zoe, drew me willingly in like a magnet one morning, overwhelmed as I was to learn what captured her interest. Over an hour we cuddled together, a special time indeed. The make-believe world she shared with me was filled to overflowing with creativity, a wonderland of learning so subtly immersive and deep. When we parted, I knew I had taken something away, tangible and yet not tangible. Nevertheless, I k...



Chapter Thirteen
The Concert

“It’s not like them,” I said, perturbed by their tardiness. I sank into my jacket like a tortoise into its shell. “It’s so freaking cold my face feels like one huge boil.”

“Huh?” Mark replied, embracing himself and flapping his hands against his shoulders and stamping his feet to keep warm.

I shook my head and turned away. “Ah…forget it.”

“You should have dressed warmer,” he retorted, restlessly surveying the mass...



Chapter Fourteen
Lunch At Zoe's

“Life’s short, eat dessert first,” my friend said to me as we perused the menu in Zoe’s Lounge at the Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa. Both chocoholics, our eyes had already wolfed down the lavishly decadent chocolate lava cake shown in the dessert section of the menu. We shared one of those knowing smiles that said nothing, yet everything. You know the kind—the illusion of shared mutual understanding. Did she know? I thought to myself. Could she not see it in my eyes? Is...



Chapter Fifteen
A Granddaughter's Visit

“That’s where the crib dock used to be,” he said, pointing at the single, well-worn cedar post that reached upwards from a rock cluster on the shore. “Your great-grandfather made it with the help of his neighbours.”

His chair faced the large living-room picture window that overlooked the fresh waters of the rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay, two hours north of Toronto. On the arm of his chair sat his eight-year-old granddaughter, Emma, whose arm was draped across his sho...



Chapter Sixteen
Oops! I Must Have Been Outta My Mind!

It was 4:00 A.M. Rain smashed against the bedroom window; howling winds pushed tree branches to and fro along the siding like fingernails across a chalkboard.

Too driven by daily routine to remain spooned against my wife, I carefully, so as not to disturb her, slid out of the comfort of our warm bed and into my slippers. Grabbing my dressing gown from the chair beside the door I put it on before heading downstairs.

I stared out the living room window. Ugh! Depressing, I thought. ...



Chapter Seventeen
A Coming Storm

Thunder! The storm clouds gather.

A grosbeak valiantly circles overhead.

When this journey began, my hope was painted against an azure sky when the sun was high and the scent of pine and meadow flowers copiously filled the air.

Many times I have stood at the forest’s edge and let the sweetness and magic of its promise draw me in.

But, today, I hear distant drums heralding a coming storm, it marches across the glen. Have I languished too long? Will my peaceful tranquility fee...



Chapter Eighteen
An Indiscretion

“Where are you going?” I dared to ask as I watched her put on her boots.

“Out,” she retorted.

I glanced at the window. “Winter’s on the war path. Are you sure that’s a wise choice?” A cavalcade of chills rippled up my backside. “You’ll barely see beyond your nose. You’ll get lost.”

She peered at me through a curtain of auburn hair. Whatever she was about to say I could tell she was sizing me up for impact. You get t...



Chapter Nineteen
View From Below An Ivory Towered Window

Yesterday changed everything.

Where do I go? What do I do?

Questions scratched on a wall before the abyss.

Once my Springs were full of scented flowers and warm gentle breezes; they flowed like honey for me.

Daily, from golden cups, I copiously drank their intoxicating mixture of nectar and life’s festive dream.

I had made it.

Atop my perch upon the mountain I felt safe.

Then the winds thundered through and toppled the oak tree.

What now? Why ...



Chapter Twenty
The Witch Beneath Lake Huron

Today, I have finally returned. I thought it had only been three years since I was last here but my neighbors, John and Ruth, just told me it’s been eight. They said they had pictures to prove it.

My askance expression must have been the reason that they pressed their point so vehemently. Ruffling their feathers was definitely not part of my agenda nor, I must add, was perusing photos I knew too well.

Still, John’s Type A personality pressed the issue forward as he entered his cot...



Chapter Twenty-One
How Life Can Change on the Go

My day begins in darkness and ends in darkness. The bitter damp wind off Lake Ontario makes me want to hibernate till spring. After another lousy day at work, I was looking forward to some respite on the train ride home. In the middle of quarterly reporting, my mind was abuzz with checking and rechecking the numbers spewed out by our computer. Always a hectic time, it was especially so for me because of my recent advancement to the numero one honcho of this section. The constant flurry of activity in my ...



Chapter Twenty-Two
Trolling with Wordsworth

Hardly able to contain myself, I stepped down from the driver’s side and took in several heaping lung filling breaths of the sweet pine air. Memories of my childhood made me giggle in its rush.

“It feels so good to be here again. Don’t you think, Julie? It’s been far too long. Aaah-oooooooooooooh! Aaah-ooooooooooooooh!”

“What the hell are you doing?” She asked as she exited the passenger side of the vehicle.

“It’s my wolf call.&rdquo...



Chapter Twenty-Three
Once Upon A Morning

Black coffee is my elixir for the morning blahs. Not a morning person, I am quite happy to hermit myself away in the den to suck on my over-sized mug of coffee and to read the morning newspaper quietly. It’s not that I’m a growly bear or anything close to it because I think of myself as being quite amiable and pleasant to be with during this time. I just don’t engage in conversation other than the pleasantry of an occasional grunt or nod. You see, for conversation to be even remotely co...



Chapter Twenty-Four
Zahra and Aagif

Aaqif rolled onto his side and reached out. The impression left by her body was filled with cool warmth and the lingering sweetness of her scent. He feigned sleep. Through the slits in his eyelids he watched her at the bedroom window.

She glanced at him. Then, she turned back.

Etched on the window pane was the mirror image of her face as she peered upon a landscape she did not see.

Seating his head upon the palm of his hand, he called out her name softly: “Zahra.” Had sh...



Chapter Twenty-Five: Part One
Joan Sledge: One Spring Day

Spring had arrived early and, along with it, hopes that our home team, the Milwaukee Braves, would take the World Series again. Last year was the first time they had won the pennant since moving from Boston in 1953.

A cornucopia of scent wafted through the open window. Riding its gentle warm breeze like sweetness from heaven were spicy dianthus, the heavy scent of gardenia, nicotiana, lily-of-the-valley and lilac. My mom had taught me well and as she had promised, identifying those blossoms and mor...



Chapter Twenty-Six: Part Two
Joan Sledge: Brother's Advice

There is nothing like the first love. I remember reading something about it. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the book. I do wish I’d paid closer attention. Never felt feelings like these before. When I’m with her my senses are so charged up I think I will explode. Who knows about stuff like this? I’d ask my closest bud, Tony, but he still thinks girls are yucky. I can’t imagine that my parents would know the slightest thing about it. It’s too personal ...



Chapter Twenty-Seven: Part Three
Joan Sledge: The Birthday Party

Damn my brother! Until our little talk, breaking up with Joan had never crossed my mind. Unfortunately for me, that possibility has managed to weasel itself into my daily thoughts. Now it’s stuck in place with Crazy glue. I thought the summer was filled with promise. In a way, I guess, I still do. Except now it’s tainted. Damn him anyway! Caught in a conundrum to tell her or not, I finally decided on the latter. I had convinced myself that all this nasty stuff needed to play itself out.<...



Chapter Twenty-Eight: Part Four
Joan Sledge: New Realities

 

Some people are alive only because it’s illegal to kill them. In my book, Chris Brannon fell into that category. So, when I turned to face him and saw the way he looked at Joan and her at him, I couldn’t help myself. My fist slammed squarely into his mocking face. It was with great satisfaction that I watched him hit the floor like a ton of bricks. Up until then, I prided myself in having a handle on life; now, that handle was broken. And I feared my hand was as well. From J...



Chapter Twenty-Nine: Part Five
Joan Sledge: The Mucky Duck

Ouch! It was totally unexpected. Her home form lockers should not have been anywhere near mine. Yet, there she was, five lockers down from me. I couldn’t help but think that it was going to be an ugly school year.

She smiled. I smiled back. She spoke to me but I neither remember what she said nor what I said to her. The exchange was cordial enough but awkward, similar to strangers forced together in a social setting out of their control. But, we were far from being strangers. Or was I wrong?<...



Chapter Thirty
Each Seed that Grows

A quote by Robert Fulghum from his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten has special meaning for me:

 “Every person passing through this life will unknowingly leave something and take something away. Most of this “something” cannot be seen or heard or numbered or scientifically detected or counted. It’s what we leave in the minds of other people and what they leave in ours. Memory. The census doesn’t count it. Nothing counts wit...



Chapter Thirty-One
Transitions

Thick grey ominous clouds floated languidly overhead.

The outstretched straw-colored fields pushed against the swollen pond whose overflow like a ribbon ran across the open land scarring its surface.

Coniferous, once center stage in a winter of white, is forced aside by buds on fingers and arms of hopeful deciduous striving to meet spring’s promise. Tucked in their shaded background, tail-end snow lingered.

Winter’s wind, unwilling to decease, lays a white veil hardened by s...



Chapter Thirty-Two
On Becoming

Hare. Hare. Please don’t stare

As you peer outside your lair.

I bring you no harm,

There’s no need for alarm.

Still as could be, his ears perked high.

And I wondered what it may imply.

A step closer I went.

His nose wiggled with scent.

Then in the blink of an eye,

this indeed is no lie,

he was gone.

At the hole he went down

there was a shinny gold crown

and a note he had left for me.

“Strive boldly with ...



Chapter Thirty-Three
Any Road'll Take You

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there.”

George Harrison, Cloud Nine

Risks are inherent to all author choices. I believe that’s what makes writing an exhilarating experience. It goes beyond the practical head stuff and reaches deep down into the soul. But, most importantly, you must be brave enough to fail. Failure must never define you; you must define failure. Failure is a learning tool that helps you mature in your endeavors an...



Chapter Thirty-Four
The Murder of Arthur Brodley: Part One

The English south coastal resort of Bournemouth in 1939 had a population of 130,000. The natural beauty of its cliffs and the wide sweep of its bay embraced a magic carpet of sand while the Bourne stream—fringed with parkland and public gardens—stretched into the heart of the coastal community. Bournemouth’s outstanding characteristic and attraction was its breadth of view and openness.

Perhaps that’s why psychic, medium, spiritualist, mental healer, psycho-analyst, folklori...



Chapter Thirty-Five
The Murder of Arthur Brodley: Part Two

Anger and disappointment blinded Joseph ‘Philly’ Morris to the tranquil beauty of the parkland and public gardens alongside the Bourne River. It was 8:15 p.m. And he needed a drink. The few pence he had in his pocket were barely enough to buy him cigarettes. Seeing a bench ahead, he picked up his pace. When he reached it, he stopped and sat down, pulling out the packet containing his last two cigarettes from his shirt pocket. With a well rehearsed jerk of the hand, he popped up one of the cig...



Chapter Thirty-Six
The Murder of Arthur Brodley: Part Three

The call came through to his home at 4:00 A. M. Putting on his slippers, Collier grabbed his robe from the foot of the bed. The bedroom was still in total darkness as he made his way across the room to the door. His wife, Lila, mumbled something incoherent, but he encouraged her to go back to sleep. By the time he reached the bottom of the stairs the phone was into its fifth ring. The telephone was in the alcove under the steps. He cleared his throat and picked up the receiver: “Chief Inspector Col...



Chapter Thirty-Seven
The Murder of Arthur Brodley: Part Four

Entering the summer of 1939, the people of Bournemouth were too busy having a good time to worry about Hitler. Some had even strapped a sign to the boot of their vehicle which read: Half A Mo’ Hitler Let’s Have Our Holidays First. For those who lived there and the holiday-seekers who would arrive, collectively, they wanted the same, respite from contemplation of the worst. For them, this summer would be a joy-filled time of suspension, free from thoughts of the approaching winds of war.



Chapter Thirty-Eight
The Murder of Arthur Brodley: Part Five

The weeks passed quickly and by Saturday, August 19, 1939, news about the murder of Arthur Brodley and related stories with respect to the capture and incarceration of his murderer, Joseph ‘Philly’ Morris, had slipped into the middle pages of the "Echo." Throughout most of the month, the Monte Carlo Ice show, Akhbar’s Indian show, complete with a levitating woman, Max Miller, who was considered to be the rudest comedian that ever lived, and the crowning of Miss Betty Meadus as Queen of ...



Chapter Thirty-Nine
An Unexpected Gift

Two months had passed since Tom’s death and, like a leech, the numbed emptiness Sylvia felt continued to suck out purposefulness from her life; while the humdrum of her daily life had become imprisoned within a brew of forlorn desperation and debilitating remorse. Life’s self-scripted past echoed its hallowed naked emptiness and negative untruths while it subversively gained unheralded success and, unwonted, supplanted what should have been the bright promise that adheres to a day’s sun...



Chapter Forty
Two Weeks in January: Sheila

“I just don’t get it.”

I remember thinking those very words, hours, maybe minutes, maybe even seconds after I first met her. I was engaged at the time and comfortably secure in the direction my world was heading. But, unbeknown to me, I was about to learn an important life lesson.

This story begins two years before I met her because, as it turned out, I had to meet someone else first.

After I graduated from high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. My dad had died...



Chapter Forty-One
Two Weeks in January: The Sandwich

I glanced at the menu pinned on the wall. Digging deep into my pant pocket I could only come up with enough change, a buck twenty-five to be exact, to order a lousy rubber cheese sandwich on white with lettuce and mayonnaise. I watched as Sheila slammed the iceberg lettuce into the cutting board, cut-off stem down. Then she removed the stem’s stock and peeled off the lettuce leaves. I had never seen anyone do that before and, as a result, I found it quite fascinating. And I told her so. Sheila smil...



Chapter Forty-Two
Two Weeks in January: "...Ummm..."

I can accept that life has its ups and downs, but I had not expected my week to begin with the latter. If faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, then that definition still held true by the middle of the week because I had lots of hope, but I still had not seen Sheila.

It had rained overnight and, as a result, Thursday morning was depressingly muggy. The good part: the sun hung in a cloudless sky. The bad part: I did not want to go to work. So, when I boarded th...



Chapter Forty-Three: Two Weeks in January
Indelible Memories

Since my arrival, I had entered the restaurant several times to check for her presence. We had agreed to meet at the Hard Rock Café at 5 p.m. Had I got it wrong? I peered at my watch. It was already five-thirty. We did talk about the Uptown, I recalled. But I’m sure we agreed on the Biltmore cinema. My gaze stretched across Yonge and Dundas Streets to the Biltmore’s marquee: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Cigarette smoke and stale cigarette butts...



Chapter Forty-Four: Two Weeks in January
Borscht

A hint of earthiness filled the morning air as each new day transitioned to a colder and dimmer venue. Most evenings fulfilled their threat of rain, giving a whole new meaning to the city’s name, Waterloo. At the end of September, trees for the most part remained clothed in green while others, splashed with color, hinted at what lie ahead. Two weeks later, a riot of color suddenly appeared making my cycling to and through campus a kaleidoscopic experience. Vibrant colored leaves showered my route, ...



Chapter Forty-Five
Life's Like That

I’ve heard that bad things come in groups of three. To me that was nothing more than a bunch of malarkey. Sure, I accepted the adage that life is ‘what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ But, neatly packed up and delivered in threes? Now, that’s stretching the imagination. At least, that’s what I thought until the week of my wedding.

It all started on a Tuesday morning about five years ago. I was trimming my beard and mustache and rehearsing my...



Chapter Forty-Six
My Mind's Eye

A picture says a thousand words but what if I were blind?

Would the photo framed and hanging there keep its words confined?

If I were born that way, how would each image be assigned?

Images formed in my mind must certainly be redesigned.

Touch would guide my mind if I were so inclined.

But distant nature’s best can only be aligned

Through the carefully crafted words on an artist’s canvass assigned.

Gently she takes my hand an elixir in demand

An...



Chapter Forty-Seven
"Grace to Glory"

 The azure sky and the heat from the blistering sun at his back was a welcome blessing and felt good. He stretched every part of his body that he could while he examined the hull of the Nervana. His schooner was forced out of necessity to dock at this small port of West Bay, Nova Scotia. He feared repairs would be less than the standard he expected, and the time spent longer than he wished. Five days max, he thought, as he searched the dockyard to negotiate with tradesmen skilled enoug...



Chapter Forty-Eight
Piano Man

James W. Howell glanced up at the tall building. At one time he had occupied one of the corner offices at the top. He pulled up the collar of his well-worn overcoat to ward off the chill in the air. People brushed by him as if he did not exist. For the twenty years he had walked Wall Street there had been much fanfare. Now nothing. He had risen to the top of the corporate ladder. Once his word had been gold. Lots of money had been invested and exchanged when he spoke. The reflection in the glass window l...



Chapter Forty-Nine
Sid: Part One

He showed up at my back door looking for food about eight years ago. His demeanour was quite pleasant, and his eyes had a magnetic playfulness about them. Briefly, I listened to his woeful account of tough times, though I must admit, I did not understand a word that he said. Not wanting to encourage such a beggar-like theme on my property nor be swayed by his gentle persuasive nature, I mustered up my best empathetic smile, shook my head, and gently closed the door and returned to reading the local paper...



Chapter Fifty
Aidan: Part One: Through the Mist

It is I who is to blame. AYOH, the land of my ancestors, burns. Screams of my subjects still assail my ears. Their ghosts continue to ride the late night air. I am haunted by their unyielding reach. 

I can see the fear in Ennea’s face through my tear-filled eyes. She cradles Alyakim, our daughter. Between us, wrapped in the hide of the Great Olaffub are the few possessions we had time to gather. My spear and knife lie easily within reach.

Since the moon first awoke, Eoz, my fa...



Chapter Fifty-One
Aidan: Part Two: The Revelation

Lightheaded and confused, I steadied myself. My hand was wet against the mountain’s surface. I refreshed my palate from the cool rivulets of sweetly welcomed tears that flowed down the craggy mountain face and encouraged Ennea and Eoz to quench their thirst too. The watery courses formed numerous ephemeral shallow pools along the base of the cliff before stretching out along self-imposed, predetermined tentacular channels. Like miniature waterfalls the assorted sizes of clear fluid cascaded into th...



Chapter Fifty-Two
Aidan: Part Three: Unfolding New World

“Don’t touch that!” shouted Htebazile.

Crouched, Ennea jerked her hand back. “How dare you speak to me like that! I am queen of AYOH!” Flush with pent up emotion, she bestowed a scorching stare upon Htebazile. She was not accustomed to being startled in such a manner. Reverence is what she expected but it was lacking in this young girl. “Look at your workers in the field. They languish serenely on the flowers’ petals. I only want one to add beauty to w...



Chapter Fifty-Three
Barn Boards

The day is sunless,

only grey paints the sky.

The wind has picked up

a chilling edge to its knife.

Clothed in an insulated woollen jacket,

and jeans worn through at the knee,

Joseph Tiller heads to the barn

with a ladder in hand.

A barn board has been pushed out

and must be replaced,

before the snow predicted

musters up a storm.

He climbs to the milk shed’s roof,

its structure adhered to the barn,

with tools and fre...



Chapter Fifty-Four
A Trip: A Short Story Without "E's"

Similar to shadows of a dirty shirt, black cumulus clouds, abounding with rain, hangs fat across land and final hours of this train trip. An old match with a long history is playing out.

Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack.

“Boy! Good pumpkin tart!” Al said, wolfing it down.

“Cocky isn’t your suit, Al. Tummy happy now? Play your knight!” Don said.

“Oooh! Touchy. How did you know I was go...



Chapter Fifty-Five
Island Born: A Poem without "E's"

 

Words unfold upon aboard,

Spools unspool within labyrinths hiding in our minds’ dashboards.

Arbors’ ash with nothing but unclad wood

Void of spring’s furnishings sits within snow’s mounting snood.

Polar air---Oh what a bully!---digs at roots to sully

That soul within not its cully.

Piano music, violin, floats upon warmth and joy,

Noon through to night, ahoy,

As howling winds knock at doors,

Its icy unforgiving col...



Chapter Fifty-Six
Ramblings During the Pandemic

The sky was a thick cloud of grey, not a hint of blue to be found. Conifers poked at the heavens while grasses emerald green and golden-brown shone; barren deciduous trees reached tall, stretching their spindly tentacles to scratch open a window to the azure found beyond. A deep chill had spread its frosty blanket mid-April as the tantalizing spring warmth had turned round to snow predictions that will soon cast frowns. Tulip heads have pushed from the ground, harbingers of hope that spring will soon abo...



Chapter Fifty-Seven
Emma

(An Exercise in the Use of Rare Words in a Short Story)

Emma took in a deep breath before opening the door to Stoddard Hall. Her first time attending a cocktail party, she felt nervous. Other than her boyfriend, Andrew, and perhaps a few professors, she would not know anyone present. Andrew’s university, located in the city, was located on a much larger campus than the one she had attended. Though her university had a laudable reputation it had not yet arrived at the world academic status tha...



Chapter Fifty-Eight
Joseph Tiller's Christmas Miracle

A sunless day, only grey paints the sky.

Christmas eve, a thin snow-carpet with a sigh.

Wind swirling up, a chilling edged knife to its bite.

Casts a pall on what might have been right.

 

In a woollen jacket, jeans worn through at the knees,

Joseph Tiller trudges to the barn, dragging his ladder without ease.

A gait without sprite, his head hung low,

thinking of Christmas a long time ago.

 

Several barnboards

pushed out by the wi...



Fifty-Nine
The Diary: Introduction

Alan van der East hated his grandfather. But his grandfather wasn’t the only one he had come to hate. He fired a pebble at a passing bird but missed. An inaudible profanity quietly rumbled beneath his breath. A larger stone was chosen, and he reloaded his slingshot. His eyes followed his next prey. Aim readied, he waited patiently.

The turret in which he stood, an architectural feature of the family estate home, provided a lofty vantage point and unhindered solace to exercise his twisted, lit...



Chapter Sixty
The Diary Part One: The Birthday Party

“Where is that boy?!” scowled Sir Reginald van der Helsing, downing his third glass of port.

“Daddy! Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” She waved off the servant who was about to refill his glass. “Your diabetes!”

“Bedamned my…” His eyes scanned the nine unsmiling faces at the table staring at him. “What are you all looking at?!” he grumphed. Bringing to bear a commanding glance upon the servant, his glass was refilled...



Chapter Sixty-One
Rambling Thoughts During a Pandemic

Where am I?

I am here.

But what does that mean?

I feel I am caught between past, present and future.

As I age, my mind drifts back trying to examine how I became me.

Thoughts that have not crossed that threshold in years suddenly step across to reveal what I have left hidden or forgotten.

Forgotten? Hidden? Are they not both the same?

Hidden is purposeful.

Forgotten is not remembered, without purpose.

Or is that true? Perhaps without knowing I am lyin...



Chapter Sixty-Two
The White Picket Fence

In the rustling of the leaves

And the beauty of the Fall

There stands a quintessential hominess

Enwrapped in classic perennial charm

Few among the things

That touches the heart

Like the white picket fence.

A simple structure

An effective boundary

Embracing a welcomingly warmth

To its weary traveler

Who on homeward bound,

Passes through its gate.

 

Time drains through days

As through the body flows

Unnotic...



Chapter Sixty-Three
The Diary Part Two: The Visitor

The great cathedral resounded with organ, choir, and sermon. Its scale and splendour had an air of timelessness. Solemnity reined. Except, that is, within Alan, who could barely contain his leaking joy. Each subdued giggling fit was followed by an arm pinch from his mother. His arm was beginning to feel sore. With a sigh and a wry smile, his gaze travelled from the stained-glass windows to the stone masonry to the hammerbeam ceiling. Where most would have found them impressive, its grandness and beauty w...



Chapter Sixty-Four
Just A Few Thoughts

Life has so many twists and bends

some darn right fearful emotional blends.

In my youth answers carried such an easy writ

when experience barely scratched its own dendrochronological whit.

Back then gentle breezes tipped my compass,

willy nilly that path chosen thought the plumpest

to taste whatever occasion wrought

unaware or blind of what might be fraught.

In things said and neglected

can’t undue but still affected.

Impending storm? I ha...



Chapter Sixty-Five
The Diary Part Three: Aconitum Genus

Inspector Matthew Bigsley stood in the oversized glazed ceramic foyer gazing into the well illuminated living room. Dark hardwood flooring extended from the foyer to a large Persian rug under the main furniture. The large windows facing him allowed for lots of natural light while the walls appeared to have traces of powder blue and black that stretched to the coffered ceiling. On those walls several impressively sized paintings were hung giving a gallery effect to the room. Furniture was of superior qual...



Chapter Sixty-Six
The Diary: Part Four: Earthquake Prone

 

The next morning was warm, and the rain overnight began to soak into the air to provide a tinge of uncomfortable humidity. Sunshine danced off water droplets that clung to surrounding foliage enhancing a kaleidoscope of hues on the emerald landscape. Below Matt’s window, the moist roadway still hung onto a darker than usual appearance. Most people walking about carried folded umbrellas and wore lightweight rainwear wary of the clouds and sun square-dancing a do-si-do overhead.

Ma...



Chapter Sixty-Seven
The Diary: Part Five: The Gardener

The pebbled stones crackled under their feet as Susan and Matt walked along the drive toward the gardener’s lodgings at the rear of the mansion. Except for an occasional exchange of pleasantries and smiles, neither spoke.

Distracted by a buzzing sound, Matt stopped. “Do you hear that?”

“It’s my son up to his usual tricks. There!” she pointed behind them. Following them and parallel to the drive was a drone. “Since his Aunt Isobella bought him that ne...



Chapter Sixty-Eight
The 'Werewolves' of Pine Meadows

A low mist barreled across the late summer fields like tumbleweed, too early, in my mind, for this time of year. The howls and yips had awakened me. Reluctantly, I glanced at my watch and cringed. It was 2 a.m.! Thud! My cat, Sid, had leaped from the bed and, with his nose pressed against the outer screen door, listened intensely. Above the mist was a freckled star-studded night sky scrubbed clean of clouds while the bright full moon journeyed toward the western horizon.

Yipping, howling or any oth...



Chapter Sixty-Nine
The Diary: Part 6: Revelations

Susan brusquely exited the room with Alan securely under tow while Matt remained seated somewhat disquieted by what had just happened. The front door opened and slammed shut. The atmosphere in the room was uncomfortably tense, so much so that if he had had a knife, he could have cut through it. Nothing was said.

Susan’s loud, scolding voice tapered off to a thin thread in the distance then finally nothing.

“Would you like your tea refilled?”

Startled, Matt peered up ...



Chapter Seventy
The Diary: Part Seven: Antonio's Restaurant

Antonio’s was a family-owned Italian restaurant with a well-deserved 4-star rating. The atmosphere, both early European in interior design and style of service, was enhanced, but not unexpectedly so, by crisp white tablecloths and silver cutlery sparkling at each table location. Founded by Antonio Fattori and his wife, Maria, the menu displayed a unique flare that proudly shared a story about each dish’s creation over a hundred years of tried-and-true Fattori family recipes. Their son and dau...



Chapter Seventy-One
Hard Day's Night

Two hours had passed since Antonio and Maria continued their circulation of the other tables. Matt glanced around the room. The patrons had thinned out noticeably. He sipped on a glass of limoncello, described by Antonio as the most beloved Italian liqueur in the world. He peered at Audrey savouring her gelato al cioccolate fondente and wished he had not inhaled his tiramisu. Few words had passed between them after her surprise announcement and during supper. An iciness for whatever reason glazed her man...




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