Missing Ferrari

While I’m on the subject of jigsaw puzzles, here’s a humorous fiction piece first posted on Mar 13, 2016:

Mrs Carmine Incendia
988 Perplex Place
Perdue, AZ

Dear Madam,

Your letter of complaint arrived with the incoming post this morning and was immediately drawn to my attention. I can well believe that you were almost inconsolable on finding that the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle you purchased from us was incomplete.

As head supervisor in the packaging department it is my duty to ensure that none of our customers are inconvenienced in this manner. And may I assure you that the highest standards of quality control are exercised in our factory, far above — really quite incomparable — to other manufacturers of jigsaw puzzles and games.

As your letter has informed us, the box arrived at your home in good order with the pieces correctly sealed in their plastic bag. So any deficiency — if there be one — might possibly be due to some incompetence on our factory floor. It was very helpful of you to include the inspection slip with your letter so we can check this out further.

As you stated further, you alone opened the package and you alone worked on the puzzle in question. Having done jigsaw puzzles myself for years now, I trust it’s not inconceivable that one or two pieces may fall on the floor and be lost. However, I believe it is incomprehensible how twenty two pieces may have been omitted in packaging the product. And moreover, that these pieces should be the exact ones required to assemble the Ferrari in the photo would definitely indicate non-mechanical involvement.

As to your statement that a lawsuit over this is inevitable, permit me to suggest that lawsuits nowadays are expensive and, even in our society devoted to the good mental health of all residents, the sum of $2 million for “mental anguish incurred because of missing puzzle pieces” may be looked upon with some skepticism by most judges.

I’m happy to inform you that incidents like this are quite incompatible with our products and service as a whole. In fact, we’ve never had a complaint such as your before. We will definitely look into any impropriety on the part of our workers. By means of reimbursement, I am forwarding a new box containing this same puzzle plus two others in the same series that I trust you will enjoy.

May I also suggest, before you think of litigation, that you make inquiries of any young visitors to your home in the recent past — for example teenage grandsons — to ascertain whether they might have removed the aforementioned pieces, either as a practical joke or for some other personal reason. Should you decide to pursue legal action, no doubt law enforcement officers will be questioning your acquaintances closely on this matter.

Please address all further communication about this matter to me personally.

Yours most respectfully,

Tanner P Twiddleworth
Head of Quality Control
The Euphonic Puzzle Company, Incorporated

cc: McIntyre Bunkowski LaVentura Corporate Law Office

Art’s Eternal Truth

Thanks to Rochelle and her commendable efforts as moderator of the Friday Fictioneers, another prompt has tumbled into my In-box. Many thanks also to Douglas MacIlroy for contributing the photo. Join this week’s Friday Fiction effort HERE.

It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed…and it may be awhile again… I’ve been in a general muddle lately! However, when I saw this prompt photo first thing this morning my muse nudged me and called to mind our clever sculptor friend, Marcel. Art Must be Flexible. She suggested this might be his concept of a bird-feeder. I chuckled, then decided to let the tale spin out and see how far it went. What do you think?

Photo © Douglas M. MacIlroy

ETERNAL TRUTH

“I’m calling this ‘Birdfeeder’,” Marcel told his friends.

“Birdfeeder!” Crombie exclaimed.

“My interpretation of man’s efforts to positively impact his environment.”

“How about ‘Gone With the Wind’?” Percy suggested, examining the creation skeptically. “It’s getting rusty.”

“That’s it! I’ll call it ‘Eternal Truth’. Like ‘Dust to dust; ashes to ashes; iron to rust’…”

His friends groaned.

A woman rushed over. “It’s brilliant,” she exclaimed. “I must have it. How much?”

“Three thousand,” Marcel quoted.

As she signed the cheque Crombie nudged Percy. “There’s gotta be an eternal truth in here somewhere.”

Percy winked. “Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.”

It’s Supposed to Be…

Sunrise Woods

A grandfather took his little grandson to the art gallery one day. With program in hand they wandered through looking at the various displays. They came to one picture and both stood there silent for awhile, trying to make some sense of it.

“Whatever is it?” the little boy finally asked.

Grandpa consulted the program. “It’s supposed to be Sunrise in the Forest,” he said in a doubtful tone.

The boy looked at it for another minute. “Well, why isn’t it then?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve retold this story — at least the basics — from one I read in The Friendship Book of Francis Gay, published yearly in England by D.C. Thompson & Co. There are many interesting little stories & poems in these books and you can often find them at Second-hand shops or used book sales. This year’s edition can be bought in most bookstores at the beginning of the year.

The image above is from Pixabay. I’ve no idea what the artist has called it. 🙂

The Golden Chance

by Edgar Guest

There is in life this golden chance
for every valiant soul,
the un-penned poem or romance—
the undiscovered goal.

Beyond the sum of all we know
and all that man has done,
life holds a never-ending row
of glories to be won.

Still waits the canvas for the paint,
the paper for the pen;
still searches Faith to find a saint
among the ranks of men.

Though man, it seems, has traveled far
along achievement’s way,
his conquests and his triumphs are
but splendors for a day.

In all that is of paint and print,
and marvels which we see,
life gives us but the faintest hint
of splendors yet to be.

On still untraveled roads of fame
the feet of men shall climb,
far nobler goals than ours to claim
from the rich lap of time.

Unreckoned genius yet unborn
undreamed-of deeds shall do.
Night ends the old; with every morn
life bids us start the new.

From the Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

He Calls It Clutter

Marcel Makes A Sale

Danny and his wife Lyanne were strolling through the art exhibit when he saw something really unique. They approached the artist and Danny asked, “Uh, what exactly is this supposed to be?”

Blob

Marcel quickly explained, “This painting represents the busyness of life, the rat-race we’re running, cluttering our world with stuff, yet always wanting more.”

Danny eyed the painting. “Yeah. I can see Clutter.”

“Hey, look at it this way.” Marcel used his most persuasive tone. “This is the perfect gift for that someone on your gift list who already has everything.”

Danny gave the artist a rather bemused stare, then his eyes lit up. He pulled out his wallet and handed Marcel his VISA.

Lyanne put a hand on his arm. “Whatever are you thinking?”

He gave her a silly grin. “I know exactly who to give this to.”

On January 3rd VP Harold walked into the Sales Manager’s office…and froze. He pointed to the picture. “What on earth is that supposed to be!”

Randy looked at the painting and sighed. “Christmas gift from my brother-in-law Danny. His little joke, I guess. ‘Perfect for a car leasing exec,’ he says. The artist has titled it Clutter.”

“Yeah. I can see that!” Harold leaned on the door frame and laughed.

Randy rolled his eyes. “Dan and Lyanne will be popping around tomorrow. He said they want to see how it brightens up my drab office.

“I hope you’ll be donating it to charity after that. Because it looks like you let your grandchildren play on your wall with a marker and a ruler.”

“Donate it to charity? Not on your life. Danny and Lyanne’s son’s getting his own apartment in June. This is going to be his housewarming gift. He’ll probably love it—and they’ll get to see it every time they visit him.”

“The gift that keeps on giving, eh?” Harold chuckled as he left to check out what other gifts might have turned up in the company’s offices after Christmas.

I’ve expanded this tale from a Friday Fictioneers story I posted several months ago. My thanks to the artist who posted this image on Pixabay.com.

Other Side of Nowhere

Book Review

THE OTHER SIDE OF NOWHERE
by Max Allen

In this book wildlife biologist and photographer Max Allen takes readers on a naturalist’s journey into the prairie, sagebrush, and sandstone cliffs around the Yampa River, a 250-mile long tributary that squiggles its way westward across northwestern Colorado to join the Green River in Utah.

According to the writer, the Yampa “is one of the very few rivers in the area remaining un-dammed and free flowing. The river offers many recreation opportunities from rafting to fishing, and of course wildlife watching and photography.”

Mr. Allen includes with his photographs descriptions about some of the settings where he took them, plus camera details. As he writes in his notes, most of the animals he’s photographed are not unique to that area, but he’s gotten some great shots of them living their “everyday lives.” For my part he could have included more about his own involvement in that region, too.

I found the book very well edited and would recommend it as a coffee-table book, gift for a nature-lover, and a nice addition to a reference library.

In the fall of 2015 I received a free copy from The Story Cartel in exchange for my honest review, then purchased my own copy. This Review is reblogged from Christine’s Reflections post, Dec 3, 2015.

Max Allen has since put out another photographic journey, also for sale on Amazon:
The Itinerant Photographer: Photographs from Five Years of Wandering with Wildlife and the Stories behind Them

Fill-in-the-blanks Novels

My mother-in-law once told me that she’d like to try her hand at some pottery. Ceramics were quite popular at the time and she had thought of trying that, but she decided, “Ceramics is too much like a cake mix: add water; beat; pour into pan. The decoration is the only difference. I want to actually design something.”

Not long ago I got a list of several new books; among them was a blurb for a new cozy mystery. I read it and thought, “This sounds just like the write-up for dozens of other books I’ve seen.” I have to think of Mom’s comment about ceramics. The decorations change: names and professions vary; relationship to the detective and to the victim varies. Otherwise the blurbs are interchangeable.

Ditto with most romance stories written these days. (Another topic for another time.)

Just fill in the blanks and go:

Main character __________ (choose name, Nikki/Mikki/Kelli, etc)
a successful ___________ (profession, lawyer/ chef/baker/wedding planner, etc.)
discovers/hears about her ________ (client/ boss/ ex/ competitor/ neighbor)
_______ buried/floating/scrunched, in/at/on/into a ________.
Now she must team up with __________ lawyer/ male friend/ boss/ ex
_______ (name — Jake being the most popular by far),
to solve the mystery of who killed ______ (victim’s name)
before Detective ______  (name) a drop-dead gorgeous hunk/ grouchy bumbling misogynist arrests ___________ her/her BFF/her ex/her new boyfriend for the crime.

Our MC knows the detective’s set his sights on an innocent party, but someone has done it. So she must become an amateur sleuth (if she isn’t already) and find the guilty one before her efforts make her the criminal’s next target.

Like Mom with her preference for pottery over ceramics, I’m one who doesn’t care much for plots all coming from the same mold. I like originality.

I like stories with believable characters living their lives, where the crime (or romance) isn’t the be-all and end-all, the only focus of the main character. Where she has some life apart from interrogating suspects and ogling the hunky cop or irritating the grouchy one.

Another thing I applaud is a story with team work, rather than a one-woman show. And I dislike an amateur sleuth belligerently demanding answers from suspects — because it’s not believable. In real life people are going to clam up or blow up when pushed like that. Having suspects tell all under pressure may save a serious investigation, but it’s cheap melodrama; a writer sacrifices credibility.

That said, I plan to review some books I’ve read where the main characters lead interesting lives, that happen to include a mystery, a romance, or both. I’d like to lift out  some writers who, I feel, know their craft and avoid the stereotypes.