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.”

Books: Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

I downloaded an e-book from the local lending library a couple of days ago and read it yesterday evening. Now I want to tell you about it because I thought it was a really neat novella and well worth reading.

The title: Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine
Book #13 in the Isabel Dalhousie series

© 2016 by Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher: Penguin Random House

This is a unique story about ethics.

Isabel Dalhousie, a young wife in Edinburgh, owner and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics meets a friend at an art previewing prior next week’s auction. As they visit and look around at the upcoming sale items, Roz draws Isabel’s attention to one picture. She shares a bit of vital information about its value — and extracts from Isabel the promise that she’ll not tell a soul. Since the auctioneer obviously doesn’t realize the painting’s true worth, Roz plans to get it for a song, resell it, and make a small fortune.

The story’s maybe a bit wordy in places as Isabel muses over the ethics of this and other sticky situations she encounters during the week. She tries to sort out what she should do, if anything, with the help — or dissuasion — of her husband. He calls her his “sweet, thoughtful valentine” and wishes she would stay out of other people’s problems.

The art drama intensifies when she meets another friend by chance one day. Ruth’s in a financial bind, having to sell her home, also her mother’s belongs, to pay for her mother’s stay in a nursing home where she’s getting really good care. Ruth has sent a few of her mother’s paintings to an upcoming art sale. They likely won’t bring much, but…

The awful truth dawns — and Isabel is really in the treacle.

The writer has done a great job of squeezing poor Isabel between a rock and a hard place, between one friend and another, between promise and conscience. Will she practice the ethics she preaches or mind her own business? I found the solution intriguing  and unexpected.

This author has also written the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, the 44 Scotland Street Series and the Portuguese Irregular Verbs Series and others.

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. 🙂

A Day at a Time

One Day at a Time

Seventy-year-old Alice took a tumble down the stairs at home and had undergo major surgery to repair broken bones. From what different friends shared when they came to visit her in the hospital, she realized it was going to take her months to fully recover.  A few weeks of being immobilized, then taking it easy for weeks after.

She sighed when she realized she’d need to get a Home Care worker in help her with her own needs and depend on her family to take care of her home. After a few days she felt overwhelmed and depressed. The next time her doctor came around to check on her, she was almost in tears. “How long will I have to be so helpless?”

The doctor answered cheerfully, “Only one day at a time, dear.”

His comforting words dispelled the dark cloud that had settled on her. She didn’t have to be “down and out” for months but rather one day at a time. The thought gave her courage to face the days ahead. She had to remind herself of his words many times, though, during her recovery.

Trust today and leave tomorrow;
each day has enough of care;
so whate’er may be thy burden,
God will give thee strength to bear.
–Anon

Rock-Conner, Teen Idol

Man reading

“Hey, girl!” Angie whispered in her friend’s ear. “See that old geezer in the gray sweater? You’d never guess, but that’s Rock-Conner!”

“Are you sure?” Tammy stared at the broad back of the older man reading a paper. “It can’t be.”

“I’m certain.” Angie squeezed into the booth across from her friend. “I got a good look at him when I came in. That is indeed Rock-Conner, our teen idol.”

“But Rock-Conner was skinny as a string bean! And remember his wild mop of hair?”

Angie snorted. “Thirty-some years ago. I saw an article about him recently; apparently he still sings at charity events.”

Tammy chuckled. “My older sisters always swooned over him. My cousin Janet even vowed she’d marry Rock-Conner someday. And remember his wild psychedelic outfits?” Tammy noted the man’s subdued attire. “Whatever happened?”

“Hey. Remember OUR wild outfits, funky flowers, platform shoes? Back when your hair was naturally red?”

“And I remember when your nickname was Twiggy.”

Angie rubbed her well padded hips. “Before my three babies.” She sighed. “Life is cruel.”

Tammy eyed the elderly gent — her teen idol — now staring out the window. Was he recalling those years, too? “I think I need another latte.”

“Second that. Then maybe I’ll go sign up at Fresco Fitness.”

Dear Readers,
I have a birthday coming up: at the end of this month I turn 65. So you may be seeing more Getting-older type tales and poems in the next few weeks. 🙂

The Envelope

Seagulls walk on days like this, I thought as the wind hustled me down the city sidewalk. I kept my mouth shut against the blender of dust, last year’s leaves, bird poo and bug bits swirling around me. I’d be glad to head home to supper and a warm shower.

A piece of paper — no, an envelope — twirled past me, tick-ticking as bounced off the concrete. I glanced over my shoulder to see if anyone was pursuing it, but it appeared to be unaccompanied on its outing.

At one point it flopped on the sidewalk, exhausted, but when I caught up with it the wind sent it sailing again, sweeping it over the traffic and into the next block. It didn’t have to wait for the WALK light like I did.

A queue had formed at the bus stop; there I noticed the envelope had landed again. A teen boy stepped on it, oblivious, working his thumbs on his cell phone. I heard the beep, beep of an electronic game. He looked up only long enough to board the bus and flash his pass.

I snatched up the envelope before anyone else could step on it, then looked around to see if anyone was running after it. Nada. I boarded, waved my bus pass at the driver and found a seat. As the bus pulled away I examined the envelope. No stamp, so it wasn’t mailed. But it was sealed and there was obviously a letter inside.

The insignia at the top left said “Delorme & Pederson, Attorneys at Law.” Hmm… Across the front, written in a neat script, was the name, Mrs. Amy Allen. That’s it.

I sighed a prayer. Lord, how can I get this back to Amy Allen? Would she be listed in the phone book directory? What if the phone’s under her husband’s name? Why couldn’t it be Kathy Klompenhaus or Gloria Ganucci?

Oh, well. Best return it to the lawyers — impressively stamped by a teen’s sneaker — and let them deal with it.

At home I set the envelope on the counter to drop off in the morning and set about making supper. My husband Kelly would be home in half an hour and needed a quick meal before his meeting this evening. And I’d promised myself a shower to wash off all this street dust.

I don’t spend much time on Kijiji; occasionally I skim through the Hobbies & Crafts column to see if someone’s selling scrap-booking supplies á la cheap. Alone this evening, I felt an urge to go online and see if there’d be any interesting offers.

I scrolled through the first page of ads and was on the second when an ad piqued my interest. For sale: six rubber stamps. Hmm… I clicked on the ad and read it through, then my jaw dropped as I read: Contact Amy Allen, 304-3622.

It can’t be the same one. I grabbed the phone and punched in the number.

“Hello?”

My words tumbled out. “Hi. I saw your ad for rubber stamps and I’m interested. But I also need to know…are you that Amy…? I mean…did you lose a letter in the wind today?”

“A letter? You found my letter?” She sounded shocked.

“I found one, sent from Delorme & Pederson, addressed to Amy Allen.”

“Oh, thank goodness! I was hoping and praying it would turn up somehow,” she exclaimed. “I picked it up at my lawyer’s office today, but it blew out of my hand and I had no idea how I’d ever find it again! I’m being called as witness in a lawsuit.”

“I didn’t know how I’d locate you, either, until I saw your ad on Kijij. Are you home this evening? I’ll bring the letter over.”

“Thank you so much,” she said. “I’ll put on some coffee, if you’d like some.”

“That would be great. Do you do a lot of scrap-booking?”

“Not so much lately. And you can have these stamps if you want them. They can be my payment for a SPECIAL DELIVERY letter. Thank you so much for grabbing it!”