Notoriety

This story was originally written for a Friday Fictioneers prompt and posted Feb 8th on my original site. I’m transferring older posts from that site now, so hope my long-term followers will bear with the reruns and new followers will enjoy this tale. Since the story’s no longer connected to that prompt, I’ll edit it a bit and use a different photo.

 

Blue car tilt.jpg

“There,” Phil said. “Took some doing but I’ve Photo-Shopped Uncle Elbert out of this crazy prank.”

His wife, Vannalee, looked over his shoulder. “Too bad. Uncle Elbert looked so proud of himself draped on the hood of that old car.”

” I know. Shame to lose that smug grin of his, but my folks insisted. They say he was always up to something that would shock people. And from such a straight-laced clan.”

Vannalee grinned. “I can imagine how dear old Uncle Elbert besmirched the family name by taking up robbing banks — and Grandpa’s bank first of all, to add insult to injury. Mind you, I wouldn’t want our bank robbed, if we had one.”

“It was a humiliation Grandpa never lived down. Dad says when Elbert’s notorious career was terminated by state lawmen one fateful day, Grandpa refused to attend the funeral.”

He set the picture down. “Well, I’ve successfully deleted Elbert from the family photos now, but you know what must have old Grandpa turning in his grave? At family gatherings his great-grands mention him being a successful banker. But they talk about Uncle Elbert’s wild capers for hours.”

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Finding Closure

A writer went forth to sow and as she sowed, some of her words fell among thorns…and sprang up into a 100-word story dealing with some harsh realities of life. I don’t know why such a peaceful scene should rake up such a memory, but here’s my thorny tale for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt. This dialogue is based on an extremely sad but true incident.

My thanks to our Prompt (in both senses) Chief Planter, Rochelle, for hosting our group, and to Jan Fields for the prompt photo. I really appreciate this opportunity to slice, chop, whittle and otherwise abbreviate until I (hopefully) have absolutely chaff-less grain to present at the FF Global Fair.

My apologies if I’m really slow getting around to checking out offerings at the other booths. I’m in final-revision mode for my first book and assembling another.

Photo © Jan Wayne Fields

Finding Closure

“So who found the remains?”

“Some teens on a camping trip, scrounging firewood,” Corporal Patel replied.

“Poor kids. They’ll need some strong knock-out drops tonight.”

“We figured he’d been offed. Anonymous tip got us his car. No contact, no bank withdrawals or credit card used since he disappeared.”

“Possible motives?” Sgt Zelinski hated cold cases.

“Friends say he was dealing. So… Couldn’t pay up? Turf war? Disgruntled buyer? We’ll likely never know unless we get somebody’s deathbed confession. His family’s been through seven months of hell; at least they have closure now.”

Zelinski nodded. “At this point that’s what’s really important.”

Blog Alert: Posts Can Disappear

One day last year I wrote a limerick to fit with a cute picture I’d found and I posted it on my old blog, Christine’s Reflections. Yesterday I thought of that poem and decided I’d post it again so I did a search of my blog and found the Post title: “Bad Hair Day.” The title is there, the Likes and Comments are still all there — even the WordPress ad is there — but the post and image have disappeared!

Well! What happened?

Guess I’d better find my own stored copy. So I searched through my word processor and two flash drives looking for a copy and turned up Zilch. Nothing. I must have written it on an impulse, posted it, and not saved a copy. Foolish me!

I wondered if I could find that post by going through my blog’s media file. Sure enough, the image I’d used for the poem was in my media library. It gave the attachment page as “Bad Hair Day” with the date and the link. So I do have a record that I posted it August 29, 2016. Clicking on the link got me back to that title — and the empty post.

This is the second time this year that I searched for a post and found the main part gone. I’d e-mailed the link for one of my short stories to another blogger back around April, he’d read it and commented. A couple of weeks later when I wanted to find that story again and pass on the link, I found the title, the Likes and Comments still intact but the story itself had disappeared. Thankfully I had a backup copy in my file storage.

So what happened to my posts? Has this ever happened to anyone else?

I consulted the folks at Word Press and they say I must have deleted that post — which I definitely did not. I wouldn’t have because I wanted to reblog them someday. Besides, when I’ve deleted posts before, everything is gone: the title, Likes, Comments. There’s no trace it ever existed.

So either there’s some glitch in my/their system and it slurps up post texts, or someone has snitched them. Not just copied, but totally removed.

I was ready to give up hope that my poem would ever show up again when I had a bright idea. My dear husband, bless his heart, subscribes to my blog — and he never deletes his incoming e-mails. I verified the date of the post, went into his In Box, searched through his e-mails for that day — and there was my poem! Sure, it’s not anything brilliant, but we writers are quite attached to our offspring scribblings and don’t want them disappearing.

Note to self: ALWAYS SAVE a copy! that’s why DropBox and flash drives were invented.

Given my own experience I’d advise other bloggers: subscribe to your own blog and save posts when they pop into your In Box. That way you’ll have a record of having posted this item if it should ever disappear and/or show up as someone else’s work. Or partner with a blogger friend to save each other’s posts, at least the poems and stories you may want to use again. Having a record could turn out to be very important.

Copyright reminder to all bloggers:
It’s against the law to help yourself to anyone else’s writings and claim them as your own. This is THEFT and can lead to PROSECUTION. Everything posted on anyone’s blog is automatically protected by international copyright laws; copying and saving someone else’s work without permission — never mind complete removal! — is a crime.

Respecting someone’s work, and giving credit where credit is due, is a basic human decency. Most bloggers are reasonable people and if you ask permission to copy something, assuming it’s for some good purpose and you give them credit as author, they’ll give it.

Lastly, in case you’re wondering about the poem I’m making all this fuss about, I’ll post the picture and limerick in my next post. It may be a silly little verse, but it’s mine. 🙂

Restoring Grandpa’s Clock

Colleen frowned at her brother. “I still think you should just ask her for it instead of trying to steal it. I can’t see how you can help but get caught, Eli. Is that clock really worth so much to you that you’d stoop to theft?”

“It’s the principle of the thing, Sis. Auntie just claimed all Grandpa & Grandma’s stuff and took it home with her, just because she lives close. And she’s going to hoard it until the day she dies. All the stuff they wanted to give us will be passed on to her children.”

“But still…”

“You can’t really call this theft exactly; it’s more like a restoration of our inheritance. I know Grandpa wanted to give me that clock; he told me several times. One day when I was there he chiselled my name on the back so everyone would know. I’m sure Auntie’s not blind — so she’s just keeping it. And I want it back.”

Colleen shook her head sadly, remembering the Lone Star quilt Grandma promised her that she wasn’t going to get, either. But she wasn’t going to go steal it. “And when she sees it’s missing? If I’m there right at that time, how can I help but be implicated?”

“She won’t even know it’s gone. You know how cluttered Auntie’s house is. You could lose a Saint Bernard in there.” He had a point. Auntie’s house was bulging now that it held so many of her parents’ possessions as well as her own.

Eli ran his hand through his hair and outlined his plan again. “I’ll be driving the company truck. You know the old lane to the pasture, not far from Auntie’s place. There’s a that clump of chokecherry bushes; I’ll park behind those and take the path through the woods. When you see my truck sitting there, you just go ring her doorbell and chat her up.”

“I hope she won’t guess how nervous I am.”

“Relax. Ask her about her garden; get her to show you her perennials, like women do. You’ll be with her the whole time, so she’ll know you didn’t take it. If she sees my truck and guesses I was around, I’ll say I was doing a job nearby.” He concluded his plan with, “She has no right to have that clock. It’s mine and I want it.”

The next afternoon Colleen pulled into Auntie’s driveway at the designated time and took a deep breath. Her nerves jittered like a swarm of grasshoppers and she felt a tension headache coming on. She’d caught only a glimpse of the Apex Roofing truck as she passed the old lane; Eli had hidden it well.

As she got out of the car she sighed a prayer and made up her mind. She would come right out and ask Auntie for the clock Grandpa had promised Eli, even if doing so might implicate her if Auntie found it missing later. She could hardly bear to think of her brother stealing it, heirloom or not. This decision gave her courage as she walked up to Auntie’s door and punched the door chime.

Auntie opened the door a few moments later. “Colleen! How nice you came. I was just about to have a glass of tea.”

“I… I was driving by and thought I’d stop for a minute,” Colleen began. “I know we haven’t been together since Grandpa’s funeral and I was thinking it’s high time.” The word “time” chimed in her conscience like a grandfather clock.

“Well, I’m so glad you’ve come!” Auntie gushed. “Come join me for an iced tea. Yes, when the folks died I was so overwhelmed with it all, all the arrangements. I’d never been a executrix before… So much legal stuff to look after. Then I had to have the house cleaned out within two weeks.

“You did?”

“Yes, it was sold privately, you know, and the new folks wanted possession right away, so I just gathered up all Mother & Dad’s stuff and brought it here. I’ve finally gotten up courage to sort through it. I was so happy when I discovered a list Mother had made.” Auntie grinned. “She’d rolled it up in an old slip in her undies drawer. First place you’d look, right?”

Colleen laughed “Well, no. And yet, somehow that sounds like something Grandma might do.”

“It’s a list of all the things they wanted each of you grandchildren to have — and I see you’re to get that Lone Star quilt she made years back. Now that you’re here I can give it to you.”

“And the clock Grandpa carved…?”

“O, that has your brother’s name on it. Dad said several times that it would be Eli’s someday so I’m planning to give it to him next time I see him.”

“Wow, Auntie, That’s super. You know, he came along with me today, sort of, but he wanted to…was going to…wander through the woods a bit. But I’ll give him a shout. He’ll be so happy to know he’s getting Grandpa’s clock. Maybe you could pour us both a glass of iced tea while I go find him.”

Colleen hurried outside and headed down the path to the woods. But before she called Eli’s name, she looked into the heavens and waved her grateful thanks.”

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This story was initially posted on Christine Composes in Aug 2014. I plan to include it in my upcoming book, Wisdom in Whimsy.

 

Overheard

Friday Fiction chimes again in Promptland and dings in my InBox, aided by the sweet purple Tinklebell, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Many thanks to her for presiding over this notorious party-line and to J Hardy Carroll for contributing the picture that nudges our creativity this week.

It took some doing to squeeze my contribution into 100 words but I made it. The seed for this tale was planted when I worked with a fellow who peddled drugs on the side. Being on the opposite side of the spectrum from me, he was hostile and would have been delighted to see me quit, but thankfully no plotting like the type in my story.

Photo © J Hardy Carroll

“Yeah, he hates me, but I never thought he’d go this far. And he’ll have planted enough so I’m nailed for trafficking, not just possession. You saved my life, pal!”

“I’m blown away! Sure, I recognized your coworker, but hearing your name, then ‘One call to the RCMP and she’ll be in for years.’ What’s chances I’d be right there to catch that?”

“I’ll head for the nearest police station, tell them what you overheard and ask them to search my car — before they come looking for me.”

“I’d call this one amazing happenstance!”

“I’d call it a miracle.”

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I’ve been away from writing for awhile, wandering through the DropBox Thousand file-lands to gather material for my upcoming book of poems and short stories. I need a better filing system! I’ve made ten sections in my book and putting each item in the right section has involved a lot of shuffling since some stories would work in several sections.

Once the manuscript was ready to be formatted, I converted it from Word Perfect to MS Word — and the fun began! My first plan (four years ago) was for a print book so I (misguidedly) purchased a number of graphics. Now I added them to my e-book file and the switch from WP to Word has thrown things out of sync big time. I don’t have Word myself, so I must take my file to our son-in-law’s computer when I want to open and read it. Which I did and was rather dismayed…

I’ve decided to do an e-book format only — but you rarely see e-books with graphics. So I’ve a question for you seasoned writers: Would you add small box graphics to illustrate an e-book of poems and (mostly) short tales?

I’ve also been beta-reading a book for Florida Pastor JS Park, who’s writing about depression with an aim to helping both those who suffer and those who want to empathize. He hopes to help readers find a better understanding and ability to cope. The book is live on Amazon.com now; you can find it here: How Bad It Really Is: A Short, Honest Book About Depression.