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

Older — And Maybe Wiser?

I posted this on my first blog some years back — now I’ll re-post it here for those who haven’t read it yet.

For a few years I worked in a doughnut shop, mostly with young people in their teens & early twenties.  One  of these was very much on the opposite end of the “scene” from me: he was a drummer in a rock band and claimed to be a devil worshiper, while I was a very conservative Christian in my late forties.  The vibes were not good!

Being older and a lot wiser than when I was a teen, I couldn’t help trying to pass on the odd bit about what works and what doesn’t in the issues of life.  One day this particular young fellow made a cynical comment about me always being so full of wise thoughts.  “What wise thing do you have to say today?” he asked in a mocking tone.

I thought a minute, then told him something that I have noticed time and again: “The more piercings, the more tattoos, the weirder the hairdo somebody has, the more insecure they are.”

He contemplated this for a minute.  I was surprised when he actually admitted, “You’re right.”

Book Review: Finding Sky

Book #1 in the Nicki Valentine Mystery Series
by Susan O’Brien
Published by Henery Press

I just finished reading this book and I’ll say it has a satisfying conclusion. This is the first book in a new series so the writer will gain confidence and in turn give her protagonist a little more confidence, in the next books.

I expect mysteries to be fairly fast-paced and suspenseful. This book isn’t. It’s more like chick-lit with a mystery element. Nicki Valentine tells us her story, explains her situation — a widow with two children — talks about her children’s personalities and behaviour, her fears and issues with safety, food, dirt, and germs. If you enjoy following friends’ day-to-day lives on Facebook, you’ll probably enjoy these open-hearted accounts of where they went, what they did, what they ate, games they played.

Nicki tells about her best friend and neighbor, Kenna, whose desire to have a baby adds the mystery angle to this tale. Andy and Kenna plan to adopt, but the eighteen-year-old mom-to-be has disappeared. Pregnant and alone, where did she go? Is she safe? Kidnapped by a teen gang? Kenna asks Nicki to help find this girl and we read of her efforts at interviews, stake-outs, and searches. Her search gets her involved with troubled teens and a gang member, understandably bringing yet more anxieties.

You see, Nicki is taking classes to become a private investigator. This is a huge stretch for her type. At the best of times she struggles with almost neurotic anxieties for herself and her children, has little self-confidence, and is rather a klutz. Her conscience prods her if she tells a lie in the course of investigating. Can she become a successful PI? She’s attracted to her hunky instructor but resists the attraction. Low self esteem kicks in. Why get her hopes up when he’d never be interested in her?

There’s a good story in here if you’re patient. I’m more a fan of classic mysteries where the sleuth is occupied with the whodunit puzzle rather than angst about herself and her abilities. But all this self-analysis is common in modern cozies. I found it easy to scroll through all the angst and day-to-day stuff and read the parts that actually deal with finding the missing girl. (Spoiler alert: Nicki does get her answers in the end.)

In my opinion the book could be cut by at least 30% — and I’d encourage the writer to get to know Miss Marple, who’s kind and clever, not always sure, but never floundering in self-reproach.

Nicki reminds me a lot of Salem Grimes, another new sleuth with a lot of down-to-earth issues and angst. She stars as The Trailer Park Princess, a series written by Kim Hunt Harris

Books: Stand In The Wind

Something Old, Something New — Part A

This book has been around a long time, but is well worth reading:

Stand in the Wind
© 1975 by Jean Little
Puffin Books

Martha, the protagonist of the story, wanted so badly to go to summer camp and be with her friends. However, she’s an impulsive girl. A mad dash into the kitchen, followed by a sudden slip and bone-cracking fall, puts an end to her plan. The camp won’t accept her with a newly broken arm.

Then she and her older sister Ellen, find their plans change drastically. They were supposed to go to the city with their parents and younger brothers to hang out with the daughters of their mom’s best friend. But in a sudden flip, they find themselves stuck at the family cottage entertaining these two other girls. Snooty Rosemary, the elder, and her mousy baby sister Christine — or Kit, as her Dad calls her — couldn’t be more different from each other, or from Ellen and Martha.

The first day together is a total flop as the four of them realize their differences are too great to ever be friends. So now what? they decide to stick it out for three days. “Just until Wednesday,” they remind themselves, then their mothers are coming back to get them and end the icy silence.

Meanwhile, the girls make attempts to bear with each other. There are fireworks at times but little by little they loosen up and let their hair down. This book details their adventures and disasters as they cope with each other and with the circumstance of being without parental supervision.

Jean Little has penned a number of winning children’s books and this is one of them. Well written, well told, very believable, and a satisfying conclusion.

The Missing Girl

I wrote this story a couple of weeks ago with another prompt in mind but decided to adapt it a bit and post it in response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. (Thanks again, Joshua for the prompt image.) This is one of those “leaves you hanging” stories.

I trust my Fellow Fiction writers and our long-suffering moderator, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, will bear with a second response. Mille mercis to Rochelle for taking much time and effort in her kind replies to all our stories. Check out her blog, Addicted to Purple, for more info about the group.

I’m going to be “away” for awhile. Last night I went through my DropBox trying to line up the chapters of my next book — and feeling overwhelmed. I need to established some kind of proper filing system for all my writings; with my memory, saving by title alone gives chaos! So I’m going to spend some time sorting out files, merging blogs, and working on my next book.

THE MISSING GIRL

Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
………………………………………………………………………………………

RCMP Detective Wahl studied the photo. “How old?”

“Twelve. Hanging out with friends; headed home alone. She never made it.”

“No suspicious friends, family blowup, school bullying, boyfriend breakup?”

“No evidence of. House-to-house check in the area turned up no clues. Third day already, so we’re asking for your involvement. We’re thinking abduction now.”

Wahl frowned. “A twelve year old would fight back. In broad daylight someone should have seen or heard something.”

“What’s this?” Sgt Merriott turned to his flashing monitor. “Some teens messing around the old Millworths factory found a girl’s body.”

“No winners now. Let’s go.”

Teaching Mom to Drive

One day Kenneth’s mother decided that, since she’d soon be an empty-nester, she’d better learn how to drive. So she talked Kenneth, her last son at home, into giving her a few lessons while he had summer holidays.

It intrigued him that Mom wanted to learn to drive in her “old age” — after all she was almost 55 and to a young man of nineteen that was way over the hill. But it was a smart idea: some day she might need to know how, so  he agreed and let her take the wheel while he instructed.

The lesson did not go smoothly. Mom was so nervous in traffic; she kept forgetting the simplest rules; parallel parking was a lost cause; she didn’t know which streets were one-ways. to top it off she went through a stop sign and got a ticket. After an hour in the car with his mother, Kenneth blew out a long puff of exasperation. He was in for a torturous ordeal before she finally got her license.

After they got home he told his mom he just didn’t have the patience for this project. Anyway, she’d never become a good driver, so why not just accept it? Others in the family could take her where she needed to go if Dad couldn’t. If she persisted she’d likely have an accident and he’d be a nervous wreck.

His father was home by that time and listened quietly for awhile, then said, “Too bad you don’t remember the marvelous patience your mother had with you when you were learning to feed yourself. How many “accidents” she had to clean up when you were being potty-trained. Or how you’d wobble around and she’d rush to comfort you when you took a tumble.”

Kenneth flushed, stared at his shoes for a few minutes, then he said, “Sorry, Mom. Do you want to go out for another lesson tomorrow?”