The Ornament

Pewter dragon ornament

I stepped into the living room to see my five year old grandson standing before the end table, hands clasped behind his back. He was examining, from a safe distance, a forbidding looking 6 inch pewter dragon.

“Do you know what that is? I asked him. It was Jackie’s first time in my house. I had not seen him since before his first birthday.

He nodded, “A dragon. He’s scary.” He looked up at me, his face solemn.

“Do you think so? Not all dragons are scary. What about Puff and Elliott?” The boy turned and smiled at me. “I like Elliott, he’s funny.” He turned back to tentatively touch a finger to its wing. “Where did you get it?”

“On one of my trips to China.”

“What’s China?”

I started to tell him but he quickly lost patience and I realized that I needed some grandpa practice.

“Can I hold it?”

I reached over and placed it in the crook of his arm. “Don’t drop it on your toes,” I warned.

“It’s not too heavy,” he assured me, fingers carefully testing its fangs and horns. He crouched to walk it across the carpet. “Can I play with it?”

“Well, it’s not really a toy. We should put it back.” I reached down and picked it up. His face was disappointed as he looked about the barren room, not a toy in sight.

I needed to save the day. “Have you ever heard the song Puff the Magic Dragon?”

Jackie brightened and looked up at me. “No, but you could maybe sing it to me.” ©

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This post was submitted to Sunday Photo Fiction.

Now What?

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

The fire’s broken through the roof but it looks as if they’re getting it under control. Too bad, I hate this house. The roof leaks and the plumbing needs repair. I can’t afford to fix it what with two mortgages and my business going under. I wish it had burnt to the ground. At least there would have been enough insurance to start again.

The fire department got here pretty quickly. I wonder who called them.  The investigator’s waving me over. They’ll never prove anything of course, but they’ll reject the claim. What the hell do I do now? ©

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This post was submitted to Friday Fictioneers.

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

 

Trout

When we were overseas, my father introduced our family to camping. It was an exotic adventure to sleep for the first time under canvas, walk to the communal wash house each morning and to cook our meals outdoors. Over the years, camping would become the norm at vacation time, especially when we were overseas.

This time was special to me for an unusual reason. My father took me fishing. I had fished with him before. There was a family cottage and we had fished off the dock and from the boat. Here, we had no boat so cast our lines from shore. The owner kept the lake stocked with trout so it wasn’t long before we had our dinner hanging from the stringer. Dad showed me how to improve my cast and we chatted and shared fishing stories with other fishermen nearby. We had a good time and got along well.

Back at the camp site, Dad started a fire and then cleaned and prepared the trout. He added a little butter and salt and pepper and sealed the fillets in tin foil. Once the fire was ready he stepped over and tossed the package into the coals. I don’t recall the other parts of that meal. The aroma that arose from that foil after it was pulled from the fire has stayed with me ever since. For years, I proclaimed that trout dinner to have been the best I had ever had.

I don’t remember how the rest of that vacation went but this had been a good day. We didn’t always have successful holidays because family life stays the same whatever the setting. I do know that it’s one of my best memories of time spent with my father. ©

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Points of View

Scene: A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry…

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John:

“That lady made me think of Mom,” I tell Carla, “she was always knitting something for one of the kids on the block. Doesn’t that look like the sweater she was working on when we visited her last week?”

“Yes, it does. Do you need a tissue?” She gives my hand a squeeze and digs one out of her purse.

“Thanks. Just caught me unawares. The dog looks a little like Mom’s too,” I pause, ”we’ll have to do something about Buster.”

“Try not to think about it right now. You’ll feel better once this is over and we get home. Time enough then for decisions. Let’s stop over there for a cup of tea before we head back.”

“OK, we shouldn’t stay long though, they’ll be waiting for us.”

She’s right. I need a bit more time before facing the gathering at the reception. I don’t know what I’d do without her, especially over the past few days. She’s held me up, a real rock. She always seems to be looking out for me. That reminds me that I’ll have to sit down with her before Thursday and explain the changes Mom made to her will. I doubt she’ll care but I wouldn’t want her to be caught by surprise in front of the family.

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Carla:

He’s crying again, barely holding it together. I look at him with dismay and wish we didn’t have to go back to the hall. Some of his relatives are a handful and his uncle is downright rude. I hand him a tissue and look over at the bench to see if the old woman has noticed his tears.

I wonder what he’ll do with Buster. He’s certainly not coming home with us. I liked John’s mother well enough but that stupid little dog is too much, yapping at every sound and begging scraps from the table. It makes me itchy just to think of sitting on that hair covered couch. Did she ever vacuum?

I could really go for a cup of tea before we head back to face his family and Mama’s friends. They want to talk about her money, of course. Well, they can go to blazes if they think they’re getting much of it. They won’t come right out and ask him today but I know we’ll get an earful once the will’s been read. It won’t matter, he’s been a good son and 8 years definitely entitles me to something. I had choices but it was unquestionably the right move to marry a lawyer.

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Mrs. Kane:

I look up to see a young couple stroll by my bench. I think of it as my bench because this is where I always sit, if it’s free when I come to the park. Of course I don’t come every day. Sometimes the weather is just too horrid.

He seems to be upset. I wonder if he’s caught something in his eye. They don’t seem to be fighting, holding hands like that.

I like to watch people and try to imagine what’s going on in their lives. I think I’m usually correct. You can just tell what people are about, if you study them carefully. Maybe this man’s just happy. A young couple like that, I’ll bet she’s just told him that she’s expecting. They look the right age and are obviously in love.

I’m pleased with my deductions and hold my knitting out at arm’s length to inspect the last few rows. Very nice. This will be a lovely sweater for Walter. It’ll help keep him warm on our walks. He’s getting on and it’s been a little chilly in the evenings.

I tuck the knitting away in my straw bag and struggle to my feet. It gets harder every day. I may have to start using a cane soon. My daughter is always after me to get one. She’s afraid I’ll fall over and break a hip.

“Come along Walter,” I give the leash a gentle tug, “time to go home and make dinner.” ©

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In Transit

Mornings and evenings in a subway station are not the same. People are in a hurry at either time but in the evening they’re heading home looking forward to relaxing after a long day or thinking about getting ready to go out for the evening. This morning, as on any weekday morning, the station bustles. There’s an urgency in the air as workers hustle to get to work on time. Its a busy, noisy place at 7:30 am.

I join the commuters streaming down the escalator and watch them jostle to claim their places in the turnstile queues. Voices echo as neighbours share their plans for the day. The clatter of feet and the mechanical rattle of the turnstiles resound off the tile. A steady breeze flows down the stairs from outside and then down the far stairs to track level. It’s as cool as a cave below ground and there’s a slight smell of floor cleaner mixed with a dozen passing fragrances.

Like me a few people are standing against the wall waiting for colleagues or travel partners. There’s a busy kiosk in the far corner selling newspapers and candy and a small crowd is huddled around the cash register, impatient for their turn. Next to the kiosk sits a collection of silver coloured waste and recycling containers. From one of them an escaping page of newsprint trembles with every gust.

The concourse is clad in tile. A black border runs along the floor about a foot from the walls, corralling the grey-white granite squares. Years of traffic has eroded the original finish and the surface is marked by shoe scuffs and tracked-in street dirt. The ceramic tile walls are a clean and shining pearl, save three bands of pine-green at floor, shoulder and ceiling. The ceiling tiles are white and a half dozen neon light fixtures and a few fire sprinklers break its plane.

Every few minutes the air rumbles and then up the stairs from track level comes a roar and the squeal of brakes. Doors hiss open. Seconds later the cars rush back into the tunnel. The wind from each train sends a collection of litter near the stairs shifting like debris caught in a river current.

The crowd thins as I wait, the stream only a trickle and the queues have disappeared. The latecomers are scurrying past me in their ones and twos. All of the others who were waiting along the walls have gone. The concourse is almost empty except for a whiskered, denim clad busker strumming his guitar at the bottom of the steps and a trio of teen boys huddling with a slim girl by the ticket machine, hooting and laughing as she flushes in response.

I see my friend coming down the steps from the street. I wave and meet her near the turnstile. We step onto the escalator and the concourse slides out of sight. ©

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Give and Take

“Remember this?” Becky broke the silence, holding up a photo. She had been sitting on the end of the couch, a box from the closet on her lap.

I nodded, “Hubert’s cottage. We rented it for the summer. Your mother and her friend Doris came along.”

“Lois, not Doris,” she said.

“Right, they stayed a month.”

“Two weeks,” she said.

“Really? Seemed longer.”

She swivelled her head a quarter turn and gave me the eye, “Don’t start.”

“I’m not,” I assured her, “remember that party across the lake at the Parkers?”

“Palmers.”

“Right. Their son was a doctor,” I said, into full windup mode now.

She was quiet for a few seconds. “Dentist,” she said, her voice just a little clipped.

I decided not to ruin the mood any further and ducked back into the book I’d been reading. I could her muttering as she dug through the box.

“I thought I threw this out,” she said, a chapter and a half later, “remember Mark and his friend Peter?”

I looked up, slightly peeved at the interruption, to see a handbill. My friend had spent a year trying to kick start a musical career. “His name was Dieter.”

“Right. He played the guitar.”

“Dobro.” What was she thinking? Becky had always been a big fan of bluegrass.

“Oh, right. Remember the gig at The Castle?”

“Cassell’s.” I had lost the thread of the chapter by this point.

“He wrote that lovely song. What was it called, the one with the duelling fiddles?”

“Payback.” It slipped from my lips before I could stop.

“That’s right,” she said and went off to the other room. ©

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Yard Art

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

The neighbours were not happy about my choice of yard art.

But when I stepped out on the verandah and took a gander down the block, I wasn’t happy about their choices, either.

My art is at least as nice as Mr. Santos’s Horse Shoe Armadillo or the Rossi’s plastic Shrine to the Virgin! Just yesterday, Barry Kingman propped his wheelbarrow up beside the front steps. He’d painted the bowl with a four colour image of his late dog, Casper! To top it all, the Palmer yard has a flock of pink flamingos!

There was only one thing for it. Taking some left over party crepe paper and my daughter’s crayons, I hung a winner’s ribbon from my buffalo’s horn. The Rossi’s won second prize, in respect for the Virgin. The armadillo won third and I draped Casper’s wheelbarrow in black and a participant’s ribbon.

I set fire to the flamingos. ©

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This is posted to Mondays Finish The Story

Fish In The Sea

“Can you see it?”

“No, Are you sure it was here?”

“Pretty sure, I was about to head for shore when it just slipped out.”

“Well, you can always get another.”

“I hate wasting food!”

“Don’t worry, there’s lots of…” ©

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This was posted to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.

Thank you to pixabay.com for our prompt photo.

A New Acquaintance

Not long after I moved to town, my car needed a service. I took a stroll down to the garage at the end of the street. It was a two door affair with a cracked office window. Both doors were up but only one of the bays was holding a vehicle. I stepped in through the other doorway, looked at the tools resting neatly on the workbench and cork board behind it. The floor was clean and recently swept.

“Hi,” I addressed a pair of scuffed work boots sticking out from under the car. One boot was untied, the lace trailing away across the concrete floor like a line trolling for trout.

“OK, hold on,” a high, thin voice floated up from under the car.

After a minute he rolled out and stood up, wiping his hands on a rag. His coveralls were threadbare but had clearly been clean that morning. He was tall and fit, weighing maybe 150 lbs. Sandy hair flew long from under the ball cap, curling over his ears. His fingers were yellowed by nicotine and his hands and wrists looked strong.

It was his face that caught my attention. It was marred by a long red scar that ran from the hairline at the top of his left ear, across his nose and finished under the outer corner of his right eye. He saw me looking and one hand moved in reflex to shield it.

“Can I help you?” He was curt but that voice would have a hard time in a crowd. His pale blue eyes met mine briefly and then danced away as he ducked his head to look at his hands. The shadow of the brim of his cap fell across his face.

“I’m just checking to see if you’d have time and to ask what you’d charge to do an oil change and rotate my tires.”

He looked over my shoulder. “What sort of car do you have?”

“6 year old Camry,” I said, “six cylinder.”

“Well, I’m a little busy.” He sounded less than interested. Maybe he had jobs lined up for a couple of days and didn’t think mine was worth the interruption.

“OK, well, any suggestions where I should take it?”

“I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it!” He shook his head in frustration, busily rubbing his bicep and then both hands flew back to the scar. His right hand stayed to tug and fiddle with his left ear, his elbow high, casting a shadow across most of his face. I wondered if his tone was more about nerves than impatience. He seemed uncomfortable with a new contact and I guessed that I wasn’t the only one to get this sort of reaction.

“Oh. well, could I bring it in tomorrow morning then? Would it be done by end of day?”

His eyes skittered to mine and then away as he ducked his head again. “I guess. I open at 8.”

“If you’re too busy…” I let it hang.

He became agitated. “No, no, I can do it,” His eyes rose to meet mine, “I charge $45 an hour plus parts and fluids,” he became a little defensive, his voice rising a bit, “I give all your old parts back to you.”

“That’s fine. It’s good to find a place so close to home,” I said quietly, trying to soften the conversation. I knew it was a good rate. “I’ll bring it by in the morning.”

He paused, as if surprised. He wiped his hands again, suddenly sticking one out to shake. “I’m Marvin,” he said, “I’ll show you where to park the car and leave the keys. Then we can go into the office and I’ll take some details.” ©

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