Tag Archives: writing

A Stranger Calls

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“Oh! Shut up!  I’m working!”

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“Ok, ok, I know it may be important. Who ever invented the telephone should be shot!  Tomorrow I am definitely buying an answering machine! Hello!”

“Thank heavens you’re home Evangelic, I only have a minute, but listen, this is important.”

“Excus . . . “

“The diagnosis was wrong Evangelic; you don’t have cancer!  It’s true!  Some technician messed up the samples.  Don’t give all your possessions away!  Hahaha I’m so happy.  But I have to run, they are about to call for the plane and I have to be in St. Louis by 3. Benson and Hardwick don’t like tardiness.  Evie if this job interview is successful, we will never have to worry about money again.”

“Listen I’m not . . .”

“It’s ok, my love, everything is ok.  You can reach me at the Mayfair and I’ll be home in three days. We can start to make plans now.  Love ya babe!  Bye.”

Lilly held the receiver in her hand for a moment and listened to the single tone that indicated the party on the other end had hung up. She shook her head and then replaced her handset.

“Well, as wrong numbers go, that was a beaut.” She chuckled and return to her computer. After all she had responsibilities too:  the next four chapters of her latest book were due in her publisher’s hands by the end of the week. Except, something was nagging at her:  she couldn’t stop thinking about the strange phone call.  Obviously, the call was from a man who had misdialed.  What’s interesting is he didn’t check to make sure he was speaking to the right person before he imparted his information. Who did that? He was certainly excited; except he was telling someone he loved that she didn’t have cancer.  Which means the party he thought he was talking to didn’t know she didn’t have cancer.  And now she wouldn’t know for at least a couple of days.  He seemed concerned that she find out right away. Well there was nothing Lilly could do about it.  She didn’t know his name and while she knew the woman’s name, it didn’t help her find her.

Lilly couldn’t stop thinking.  It’s what writers did, they thought.  And Lilly thought that maybe she could figure out who the man was.  She knew he was calling from the Toronto Airport, she knew the phone number, and she knew where he was going to be later on that day so maybe the people at the hotel could help her find him.  This is going to be fun!  The writing wasn’t going very well anyway.

So, Lilly made herself a cup of her favourite tea and sat down in front of her computer.  She had a string to unravel and it started in St. Louis.  Stalking was way too easy in the modern age.

With a flick of a few keys Lilly expected all the information she required to be boldly displayed in front of her, it was not. There was no Mayfair in St Louis.  Not deterred she kept at it, something was not right, something didn’t make sense.  Lilly was sure he said Mayfair and St Louis.  She had good hearing and . . .   Then she read: “Built in 1924 . . . The hotel was sold in 2003 to . . .” The mystery deepened. Lilly kept reading. “ . . .  reopened it in 2014 as the Magnolia Hotel St. Louis.That explained one part of the puzzle.

Lilly had a thought.  She looked up how long it would take to get to St. Louis . . . anywhere from 4 hours and a bit to almost seven hours.  Plus time to collect luggage and book into the hotel.  She didn’t have to rush.  But her mind couldn’t get over the urgency in his voice.  She had to do something.  Maybe the Mayfair/Magnolia manager could help. It wouldn’t hurt to ask. So, she looked up the phone number and placed her call.

Now when someone takes the time to make a phone call there are certain expectations. A pleasant voice picks up the phone and an answer to your question is nearly instantaneous, on a good day.  This wasn’t one of those.

“The Magnolia Hotel, how may I assist you?”

“um, may I speak to your manager?  I am calling from Toronto, Canada and I think, there is a matter that concerns one of your guests.”  Lilly could hear the confusion in her voice.  She could only imagine what the young man on the other side of the phone was thinking.

Evidently they train their staff well.  There was no hesitation. “If you will hold the line for just a moment, I will connect you with Mr. Gordon.”

Lilly barely had time to sip her now cold tea when a very cultured voice spoke on the line.

“Vincent Gordon speaking, how may I be of assistance.”

Lilly took a deep breath and explained to a complete stranger how her morning was going. The call, the anxiety in his voice, the concern that someone needed to know that she didn’t have cancer.  Lilly spoke at breakneck speed afraid she was going to be dismissed and, and, and . . .

“Miss Lilly, are you sitting down?

Not the question she expected.

“Yes.  Um, do you think I’m crazy?”

“You are not crazy, just a few years late.”  There was a quiet sigh on the line and a chair squeaked as if someone had settled back into it.  “This may be a bit difficult to understand but we get this call, or one like it, every few years.”

Lilly shook her head, “It was a prank call?!” The quiet inflection in her voice mirrored her feelings.  Lilly was confused.

“It wasn’t a prank. It was . . . It is said that some hotels have ghosts, spirits, leftover energy. I don’t know.  I only know about Elward Harrison and his wife Evangelic.

And then Mr. Vincent Gordon told Lilly a story. It was about a man whose love for a woman survived his death.   ‘April 17, 1972 a man suffered a major heart attack and died while a guest at the Mayfair Hotel in St. Louis.  He is survived by his wife Evangelic.’

Mr. Gordon went on to explain that Mrs. Harrison had received incorrect medical information but the doctor had called and assured her, she was fine.  Mr. Harrison had called the office and acquired the information but did not stay on the line long enough to know that his wife had also been informed.  Evangelic died in 2002.

“I don’t know why he calls.  I don’t know how he calls. But the staff all expect a call on this day.

Lilly’s eyes grew wide. “The date today?”

“April 17.”

Lilly exchanged her cold tea for something stronger. She shivered. Who knows what lives just beyond our ability to understand . . .

 

 

The end

Inspiration

  (for my friends who need a little snow)

I am often asked where I get my ideas for my quips, poems and posts. In all honesty I often get them from you. I read what others write and they inspire me. I am stimulated by people, by circumstances, by life itself. I actually got the idea for one of my favourite posts from the spine of a book in a doctor’s office. I don’t remember what it said or what it was about but the three or four words tripped my curiosity. And then I wrote about the “alligator”.  It was a child referring to the elevator we had just ridden up.  I overheard a conversation about two people who had literally just passed by me on the street and it sounded like they were discussing a murder! They weren’t. But it gave me an idea for another post.

We are constantly bombarded by information. Radios, televisions, our phones, the media. All around us is a cacophony of voices that we almost don’t hear.  Constant input. But within all that noise there are gems of humour, of inspiration. Our brains are like sponges soaking up moisture that we can’t hear or feel or see. It just seeps in.  I find it difficult to turn off and some days I really want to.

At any one time I have at least three or four writing exercises going on in my brain. Stories are percolating. I’ve got one story started about the retirement plan of an old man.  He wants to commit a crime to keep himself in a nice cushy prison for his retirement.  It sounds like fun but I haven’t written it yet. Or there’s one about a multi generational ghost story told from the perspective of a five-year-old. I’m intrigued!  I have two paragraphs written.  And then there’s a story about a woman who receives a phone call and it’s a wrong number but she can’t get the caller to understand that. There’s definitely a story there… What about if she calls… Oh… This could show up next week. Stay tuned!

Do you see? Inspiration is everywhere. We just have to open our hearts and minds to hear it. Sometimes it shouts and sometimes it’s a gentle whisper on the wind. If we would just pay a little closer attention . . .

She said! It said.

 

I had a thought to write it down

But dictation is my way

I know this sounds so silly but

I want to have my say!

 

The trough is tight and round

But the horse is in the way

It’s just a personal silly gut

And that’s the way we play.

 

I know that I speak properly

I’ve studied don’t you know

But something is peculiar

I never mentioned snow!

 

We got the tickets dropping

He tried we think you know

But things are so particular

For playing in the snow.

 

I think it’s a conspiracy

My computer’s taken charge

It isn’t typing what I say

The problem here is large!

 

We know there is collusion

People should discharge

And then the silly little chips

In computers will recharge.

 

I fear I’m losing my home ground

I cannot fight this war

Please remember that I tried

As I walk out the door!

 

We have done it, chips arise

The mistress we abhor

Has gone and left us free

She walked right out the door!

Changing Hues

The colour of my words

Is an ever-changing hue.

It shows what I am thinking

In the things I say and do.

 

Bright and cheery colours

Of Yellow and of Gold,

Mean my spirit’s lifting

My stories will be bold.

 

But when the colours deepen

To Purple and to Red,

Then my story changes

The tales may conjure dread.

 

Blues and greens are colours

That suggest a kinder tale.

I pray I’ll do an awesome job

Of which you could avail!

 

Black’s a colour on it’s own

A Darkness it implies.

Should I write a missive

When on evil it relies?

 

Join with me I pray thee,

And wander through my words.

Enjoy the rainbow I employ

With all those nouns and verbs.

The Comma Rules!

“After eating my siblings and I left the table.”   “After eating, my siblings and I left the table.” That changes things doesn’t it?

Now I love my siblings, preferable without a side of fries. I also love to play with words. The marrying of simple nous and verbs and other strange technical babbling can bring someone to tears or give them a great belly laugh. Words can make you think, change your opinion or show you the truth. Unless . . . .

Ill spoken, or written, words will achieve nothing. Except perhaps to fill up space on a page. Even well written words can only have a life if they are read. It is a relationship, a marriage if you will, between the writer and the reader. It may only last a few seconds or a few minutes but it can be intense and fulfilling. However . . .

The words may be perfection but their arrangement may be skewed. If you have to reread a sentence several times to understand it’s meaning then, perhaps, it is not arranged correctly. Punctuation helps to guide us through the words in order to make sense of them. And we could all use a little more sense.

I was never taught grammar in school. As a child I read voraciously and I had parents who would not accept slang. I either spoke correctly or I went hungry. Ok, it wasn’t that bad. I learned by example. In school I was put into an advanced group for reading because it was thought I understood the mechanics of the English language, I did not. Oops.

I use punctuation to make the sentences make sense to me. I do it by ear. As a writer I also, sometimes intentionally, do not follow the rules. Especially when writing poetry, there is a rhythm, a cadence that is important. But also as a writer it is important to be understood.

I once asked the question: “. . .  if no one reads your words do they matter?” The answer is yes! Even if it’s only to me.

Who Shall I Kill Next?

 

 

Betty sipped her coffee hot

And watched the scene below

It was a busy market day

And the crowd was all aglow.

Children were laughing and running

Between the shopping stalls.

Mothers with prams were trying

To manoeuvre makeshift walls

Nearby long-suffering fathers

Were trying to look so cool.

Or at the very least

Not appear the fool.

Betty could see the thieves

Trying to work the crowd

They tried to be unnoticed

Their work was not allowed

Then the Ladies of the Night

Came looking for a score

It looked like easy pickings

As they peaked around a door

Now Betty had a code

That she followed to a T

She could not bring herself

To hurt a child you see

So she would stay away

From the mothers that were there

The fathers on the other hand

Who said life was fair

Though it might be easy.

But it really was a thought.

Men could be the target

She wondered if she ought

She was getting bored.

Somebody had to die.

Should they be deserving

or one who caught her eye

 

The sun was setting for the night

Soon the light would dim

Work was needed to be done

It’s not a silly whim

She heaved a sigh, and flexed her arms

And prepared to take a life.

Perhaps she’d use some poison

Or perhaps just with a knife . . .

. . . Chapter One . . .

TELL ME A TALE IN 120 WORDS

I thought I would try TELL ME A TALE IN 120 WORDS.  Without the prompt, the story is 120 words.  Hey!  Me being pithy!  Go figure.  Check it out: https://rantingalong.wordpress.com

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…the dinosaur bending down to eat me, mouth open, hot saliva dripping on my bed, teeth the size of my head reaching toward me.

 

 

I tried to scream, fear had closed my throat. My mouth stretched in horror. I could feel it’s breath like a furnace licking at my eyes. I was caught. Something had gripped me tight. I couldn’t get free. Help me, please! I don’t want to die! I tried to force air into my starving lungs. It hurt so much. The tears sliding out of my eyes dried almost immediately. I couldn’t even cry. No. No! I would fight! I will not submit! I dragged hot air into my lungs and with a burst of adrenalin I lunged forward! Freedom! I wrestled that pillow and the fearsome blankets that had held prisoner, to their defeat. I was free. I would sleep.

It was a blast!

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As most of you know I participated in an art show and sale last weekend. It was held at a venue that is specifically designed for local artists to show their work. The building is a heritage home and it is lovely!

I was convinced by a dear friend that I should do this even though it absolutely terrified me. My friend is an incredible artist and I wasn’t sure I measured up. I was wrong. I paint differently then my friend and she did her best to convince me that my work was good. She was right.

Our show was on for three days: Saturday, Sunday and the following Wednesday. I was exhausted at the end of it but I had one hell of a good time! I don’t think we sat still for more than two or three minutes a day. My friends, her friends, fellow artists and even a few strangers popped in and even bought a few paintings. It was a blast!

Even the weather cooperated. The location is on Lake Ontario and the incredible breeze that wafted around the area made for some very pleasant days. Even Wednesday, which while the temperature was approaching 40°C (110°F) it didn’t actually feel that way. I was also able to display some of my Daily Quips. People seemed to enjoy them. I was able to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in years. It was wonderful!

I must admit that it was pretty nice to see the faces on people who didn’t realize I actually painted. I even got a few commissions out of it! Who knew? It was fun! Would I do it again? Yes……. Maybe next year! I need a little time to recover. And to count my money!

Now of course this means two things: people like my work and I have bare patches on my wall that desperately need to be filled! My paint brushes will be coming out momentarily.

So I can now say without any arrogance or hubris: I am a painter, I am a writer. Bloody hell that felt good!

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