Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Chord – Package

A tan sheet snapped loudly at its apex before falling to quietly hang from the green cabled clothesline. Working in the small garden, Kirsti placed some green zebra and Cherokee purple tomatoes into a small bowl. The fresh tomatoes from the garden would go well on a salad with a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. She looked up to see where Patton was, just in time to see him grab the sheet in mid ascent and whip it back and forth with what to Patton was a ferocious growl, but resembled more of a sputtering lawn mower. “Patton! Stop that right now!!” Kirsti screamed across the yard. Patton released in mid whip and hung his head. It had not been the first time he had been scolded that morning. Kirsti snapped, “I don’t need this additional headache. I wish David had asked before getting you!”

Kirsti finished in the garden and started to walk towards the house. Patton, who had been busy chewing on an old shoe, snapped to attention and raced to the corner of the house. He let out a high pitched help and disappeared to the front of the house. Kirsti heard Karl Yzerman’s voice, “Patton you’ve really grown!”

Kirsti rounded the corner of the house to see Patton frolicking around Karl’s legs, as the UPS driver playfully pushed the puppy from side to side. Karl cooed, “You remember me, Patton? Huh? You remember Karl?”

Karl handed Kirsti a small package and asked, “Is David around? Don’t see his truck.”

“He’s down in Escanaba for a few days for work, but he’ll be back for the weekend,” Kirsti stoically replied.

Karl nodded, “Well Kathy and I were thinking the four of us should get together. Go for a steak this weekend?” He paused and added, “Kids are driving Kathy crazy at home.”

Kirsti nodded politely, “Well sure, I’ll ask David when he gets back,” knowing full well she wouldn’t ask. Not that she didn’t like Karl and Kathy, but for now her preference was to stay home.

Karl stated a bit over enthusiastically, “Sounds good! I’ll let Kathy know. Well, got a lot of deliveries, so off I go. You have a great week.” Karl turned, hesitated, “Hang in there.”

Kirsti politely replied, “Thanks.”

As Karl backed out onto County Road A44, he yelled out the driver window, “Oh yeah, forgot to give you the weather report! Supposed to be ninety’s over the weekend and next week up to one hundred! Drink lots of fluids. You too Patton.”

Kirsti waved to acknowledge she had heard. “Great,” she thought. Heat and humidity weren’t here friends. They gave her headaches and made her weak and light headed. To top it off, they still didn’t have air conditioning; although, David had promised this was the year they would put it in. It was not going to be a fun time.

 

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Stalker – Mrs. Flaviola

Dirk King, model looks, gymnastics build, dressed in a fashionable pair of jeans and shirt, stepped in front of the automatic doors of Greenway Grocery just as Josephine Flaviola reached the exit. As the doors opened, Dirk displayed his straight white teeth, and with a slight nod said, “Well, good morning! How are you today?”

Grey haired, Mrs. Flaviola, flattered that such a good looking young man should pay attention to her, slightly blushed. “Well thank you. Aren’t you just a nice, polite, young man.”

Dirk smiled, “It’s just the way I am. God warms my heart, so I try to warm the hearts of others. Isn’t that what Jesus wants us to do? To spread friendship and love?”

“Well, yes, yes. Of course he does.”  As Mrs. Flaviola continued towards her car she thought, “What a nice church going boy.”

Dirk asked, “Would you like some help getting your groceries to your car?”

Mrs. Flaviola, generally independent, started to reply in the negative, but found herself, saying, “Well thank you that would be greatly appreciated. If you could just help me get them into the trunk that would be so nice of you.”

Dirk introduced himself, “Hi, I’m John Kovar.” And then he started in on his story, “I moved here a few weeks ago from New Jersey and I’ve been looking for a job, but so far I haven’t had much luck. I’m a little stressed because my money is running out, but I’ve been praying and I know God will answer my prayers. You know, I did think about asking my mom to send me moeny, but she has it hard. Dad was killed in a car accident several years ago and she’s got to take care of my three younger siblings. Once I do get that job, I’m going to send her what I can to help out.”

Mrs. Flaviola listened intently to John’s story and didn’t notice that Dirk walked directly to her car. She felt a bit embarrassed as she opened the trunk and quickly brushed the dust off the bumper sticker, “The Lord is my Strength and My Shield – Psalms 28”.

Dirk placed the groceries carefully into the trunk of the red four door. “Well, that’s all your groceries. I’ll take your cart back for you.  Good bless you.”

“God bless you too John.” Mrs. Flaviola watched as the young man walked away. She opened her purse.  “John, wait a second. Would twenty dollars help?” she asked.

Dirk turned around, “Yes, it would but I hate to take it from you, but it surely would help. I haven’t had much to eat for a couple days.”

“Go ahead dear, take it.”

Dirk approached, tentatively reached for the bill, “Well, I hate to ask, but could you spare forty?”

Mrs. Flaviola hesitated, but the smile, the warmth of this young man, convinced her that forty dollars was reasonable.  “Well sure dear. I can give you forty dollars.”

“God bless you!”

As Mrs. Flaviola drove away, she hummed to herself. She felt good, happy to have been able to help John.

As Dirk swaggered into the store, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a number of folded bills and added the two twenties to it. He calculated the new total. Two hundred and twenty. It was a good day.

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Koira – Sylvia

Sylvia’s right hand was cramping from holding the potato masher so tightly. Her right arm rose and fell like a piston, glasses on the counter rattled she was pounding so hard. The boys were in the living room, watching tv, the volume on so low that they had to sit next to the cabinet to hear. They knew that at times like this it was best to be as quiet and out of the way as possible. Sylvia wiped sweat from her forehead, spit into the potatoes and finished mashing.  She grabbed the handle of the pot, walked to the kitchen table and slammed it down hard with a loud thunk. The boys jumped. They looked at each other. “Get in here. It’s ready.”

The boys slowly stood up, shut off the tv and walked towards the kitchen. Their mom was leaning over the open oven door, pulling out the ham. The boys quietly pulled out their chairs and sat down. Glasses of milk had already been poured. “Get over here and get your meat. I ain’t carrying this to the table.” Both boys stood up, took their plates and walked to the counter. Their mom brandished a large fork and carving knife, as she slashed into the ham, slicing two thick slabs.

Both boys looked at the thick slices. It was a lot of meat, but knew they would both finish it. Each boy put a few potatoes on their plate. “Make sure you get some green beans too. I know you two.” Both boys looked at each other and spooned out some green beans.  Sylvia slammed the over door shut, “You better have more green beans than that.”

The boys sat down and started to eat. Jacob asked quietly, “Aren’t you going to eat mom?”

“No, I ain’t hungry. I have a headache. I’m going to go lie down.” Sylvia walked out of the kitchen. The boys heard their mother’s bedroom door open and shut.

“Thank god,” Jacob said with a sense of relief.

“Shhhhh, she might hear you.”

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The Chord – If thou but suffer

The electronic church bells peeled nine times as Kirsti walked into the narthex. The automatic doors closed quietly behind her as she stood looking at the wooden cross above the altar. She wondered how long the ceiling lamp, which was meant to light the cross, had been off center as it actually shone on the wall three inches to the right. Patton padded towards the altar, exploring this new environment. Kirsti, walked to the organ, caressed it with her left hand, mouthed the words, “I’ve missed you,” and switched on the small organ light.

She sat in the unlighted nave for several minutes without moving, before placing the sheet music on the organ and smoothing over it with her right hand. She adjusted the organ lamp, sat back and placed her fingers over the keys. Her fingers waited in anticipation of the feel of the keys. Kirsti took a deep breath, told herself to relax, to give herself over and started to play.

The hymn “If thou but suffer God to guide thee” started hesitantly a bit rough, unpolished, but Kirsti kept playing and soon she was in her zone. She reveled in the feel, the joy, the pleasure of playing, of bringing forth such joyful and expansive sound. Patton, walked around the side of the organ and sat facing Kirsti. He tilted his head to the left and then lay down, resting his head on his paws. “If thou but suffer God to guide thee” came to a finish and Kirsti held the final chord for an extended time.

Outside the church, Fofo, Margaret Olson’s poodle mix, was lifting his leg against the base of the church sign when Margaret thought she heard “Abide with me”. She asked, “Fofo? Do you hear organ music?” Fofo, uninterested in anything except a cat, which had dashed across the parking lot, pulled on his pink nylon leash. Margaret scolded, “Fofo stop that,” and turned up her hearing aid. It was then that she realized who was playing, she smiled. “Fofo, listen.”

Inside the church, tears streamed down Kirsti’s face. Patton brought his head up, stood, put his front paws on the organ bench and lightly licked Kirsit’s left cheek. Kirsti laughed, “Thanks baby. You’re such a good dog. You’re mommy’s lover, aren’t you?”

Koira – Aunt Patty

Along the side wall, six year old Pikku Niemi, dressed in his only pair of dress pants and dress shirt with a borrowed tie sat in a folding chair eating an M&M cookie. His feet, crossed at the ankle, swung in and out and picked up speed when he saw his Aunty Patty, who in a few years would actually be raising Pikku, approaching. Avoiding eye contact, Pikku focused his gaze on a sheet of paper that lay on the carpeted floor to his right. In the upper right corner, an imprint of a shoe overlaid the image of an angel. As Aunty Patty sat down in the chair to Pikku’s right, he shifted to his left.

Aunt Patty placed her right hand on Pikku’s knee and asked, “How are you hon? Doing ok?”

Pikku took a nibble of his cookie, “I’m ok Aunt Patty. Just wanna go home.”

“I know dear these things are not much fun are they? But it’s important for us to be here. It shows respect. You know what respect is, don’t you hon? Now if you need anything, you let Auntie Patty know, ok? You’re a good boy and Auntie Patty loves you very much, you know that don’t you? That Auntie Patty loves you?” Although Pikku nodded, Aunt Patty didn’t see as she was busy scanning the room. “Have you seen your father? I haven’t seen him for a while I wonder where he went off to. I hope that he isn’t getting drunk somewhere. It would be overly embarrassing if he gets drunk and makes a scene. That is just something Aunt Patty cannot deal with today.” Aunt Patty mumbled, “Oh, shit!” and took off.

Pikku watched Aunt Patty’s back side fishtail as she took long strides toward his father, who stood unsteadily in the doorway using a stand of white and pink carnations intermixed with pink roses and white chrysanthemums as support. Pikku’s dad lifted his right leg and took a step to the right somehow missing contact with the floor. He lurched forward, but Aunt Patty reached him just in time to use her mass to contest the fall, stating loudly in an exuberant voice, to anyone that had witnessed the scene,  “You poor dear. You have exhausted yourself. Look at you. You are just dead on your feet. Come here, let me help. You have been under so much stress the past few days, no wonder. I bet you haven’t been sleeping either. Now no matter what you do you need to take care of yourself. Just who is going to be looking after poor Pikku if you get sick or something happens to him? Huh? Just who? So let’s get you settled somewhere quiet and get some food in you. I bet you haven’t been eating either.  What am I going to do with you?” Aunt Patty’s voice could be heard  as she walked Pikku’s father out of the viewing room and down the hall.

The Chord – Walk in the Woods

Here is another scene from “The Chord”. It needs some work, but it’s my day to post, so I’m posting what I have. Thanks for your comments, inspiration and feedback. It means more to me than you realize.

“The Chord – Walk in the Woods”

Kirsti kept to the narrow trail, all the while keeping an eye and ear out for Patton who must have chased down a squirrel, as a loud chatter could be heard off to the right of the trail. Kirsti enjoyed taking walks in the woods, as she found being outdoors, alone, to be rejuvenating. She appreciated their acreage of oak, maple, pine and birch as if it was their own slice of Eden. She enjoyed the change in seasons, each one with its own unique sounds, colors, textures, and feel. On her walks, she would occasionally see a porcupine and a sometimes a skunk.  Deer were an often appearance, more so in the fall. And last year, she had even seen the signs of a black bear.

The trail opened up to a field of ripening wild raspberries. Kirsti paused to pick a handful of the gum drop shaped berries and popped them into her mouth. She closed her eyes as she enjoyed the natural sweetness of the juicy fall berries. Patton, seeing Kirsti eating, ran up in anticipation of eating something, anything. Kirsti looked at Patton and held out a berry between her fingers. Patton took it gently and inhaled.

They continued their walk towards a small river that marked the edge of the property, where Kirsti noticed fresh four wheeler tracks that across the property, following the river. She wondered who they belonged to and what they had been doing. Her thoughts about the tracks were interrupted by Patton who was frantically barking and digging at a pile of logs that lay on the far edge of the field. A breeze blew across the field, carrying with it the odor of decomposition. Kirsti yelled, “Patton, get over here. I don’t need you getting sick eating some dead animal.”

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The Chord

The SS Pike Bay, on a run to Duluth, Minnesota, moved slowly across the horizon as Kirsti pensively looked out across the dark waters of Lake Superior. She shuffled her canvas shoes into the rocky beach causing the smooth stones to clatter together mimicking the sound of bagged marbles. She adjusted herself to a more comfortable position on the weather beaten oak trunk whose root end protruded out of the beach to a height of five feet, tentacles of what were once roots extending out to emptiness. The sound of a squawking seagull brought her attention to the shore line. She smiled slightly as she watched Patton race after the seagull, his large snow shoe like feet splashing water skyward.

The puppy, a gift from her husband of fifteen years, was she knew, although David would deny it, a gift to help her forget. But how could she forget? “Five months twelve days,” she thought. “This is one time I wish I wasn’t so good at remembering dates.” She looked back out at the deep waters of the lake and wondered if they would ever recover the body or if it would remain out there somewhere.

Kirsti shivered, not from the cold breeze, but from the memory of that day. How could a day of ice fishing go so wrong? Her younger brother had gone out hundreds of times and never had a problem. But this past winter had been different, unusual. The weather had been unseasonably warm for a couple days toward the end of February. That shouldn’t have been a problem, but mid morning that day an abnormally strong wind gusted up Keweenaw Bay causing the ice to separate into large icy rafts. It had stranded sixteen people, fifteen had been rescued, one, one was lost – her brother.

It all happened on a Sunday, a Sunday when it was her turn to play the organ, something she loved, had a talent for. For as soon as she touched the keys, no orchestrated the keys, the organ sang with a level of pitch, tone, and purity unsurpassed in its beauty. And then that particular Sunday, she did something she never did, she hit a wrong chord. Granted it was during a particularly difficult and challenging movement, but the resulting noise pierced through the small congregation of the Lutheran church, causing Billy Anderson to awake, throwing his hymnal three feet in the air before it crashed with a thud and Margaret Olson, eighty-seven, to swear and slap a hand at her hearing aid. Margaret never did realize that there hadn’t been a problem with her hearing aid.

Afterwards a couple people commented, “No worries, you do such a marvelous job, usually.” Kirsti tried to ignore the comments, the mistake, but she hated making mistakes. Hated it. And then she found out about her brother. And since then she had not played. Something inside her couldn’t, wouldn’t let her. Yes, she had tried. She would go, let herself in with the key she still held, with all intentions to play, to orchestrate, but the organ had somehow turned dark and ominous and she just couldn’t touch the keys. She just couldn’t.

Patton ran up, skidded to a stop and shook himself off. Cold Superior water, showered down on Kirsti. “Patton, stop that! You’re getting me all wet,” she shouted. Patton completed drying off, planted his wet dirty paws in her lap, and gave Kirsti a big sloppy lick across the face.  She pushed him away.  “Get away. Bad dog!” she scolded.

 

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Koira – Neimi Ski Trail

At the top of a long rise, Detective Niemi leaned heavily on his ski poles, sweat dripped down the side of his face. A vapor of mist formed on the exhale of his deep rasping breaths. He mumbled to himself, “Two miles! Only two miles and I feel like I’m going to die. How did I get so out of shape?”

Niemi’s thoughts turned to two years prior. He knew how it had happened. He had given up. He had wanted to stop living. He stopped running, skiing, just sat in the recliner watching tv, anything that happened to be on, too lazy to change the channel, eating. He let himself go, but who wouldn’t after the loss of an only child?

An oak groaned against forced movement as a strong wind pushed itself east.  Niemi looked at the horizon. A low cloud cover was heading in with the threat of more snow. “Well, I told myself I would do the six mile route and I’m going to do it. It’s time to move on.”

As he passed the five mile marker, Niemi told himself, “Only one more mile, then home for a hot sauna.” The thought of sitting in the heat of the sauna, sweating, totally relaxed, gave Neimi a renewed energy.  He thought, “When I get to the car I’ll call home and ask the wife to turn the heater on, so that the sauna is hot when I get home and then maybe I’ll have a nice salad for dinner. Now that sounds like a plan.” He smiled to himself, “Maybe this fitness thing won’t be so bad after all, but I have a long way to go.” He padded his stomach. “No more ice cream and sweats for you big fella.”

Niemi pushed forward for the last half mile.  It was mostly down hill, so he was able to push, get into a crouch and glide. A bright yellow sign warned of a sharp curve head. “Damn,” he thought, “I’m not going to fall, I refuse to fall.” He crouched, balanced himself over the center of his skis.

As he rounded the corner his right ski came up in air, he leaned precariously and then, then the bullet struck, Niemi flew backwards. His skis pointed skywards. He looked upwards, and mouthed, “David, dad’s coming.”

 

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Koira III

The tires of the SUV crunched over the frozen dirt road as Detective Niemi, huddled in the front seat, slowly drove down Sauvola Road. The heater tried miserably to keep up with the cold, which had fallen to eight below with the wind child. Niemi wiggled the toes of his numb feet. Wind gusts threw up small cyclones of white swirl in the low beams. Niemi leaned forward in an attempt to see. His mind raced, “What the eff! How am I supposed to find a mailbox in this?”  At 4:45pm it was already dark and the swirling snow made visibility incredibly poor. Niemi mumbled to himself, “Why would anyone want to live out here? The nearest grocery has to be an hour away. I enjoy my solitude, but this?”

Niemi hit the brakes hard. The SUV skidded forward and veered to the right, the right fender bumped hard into the bank of snow lining the road. “I think that was it.”  He backed up, the tires spinning wildly before catching. Niemi peered down the drive. He saw a pair of faded parallel tire tracks leading up to a house and a State Trooper vehicle.

Niemi parked behind the State car, he jogged to the kitchen door, his boots crunched as they struck the hard packed snow. He knocked twice in rapid succession and opened the door to get out of the cold. State Trooper Stephanie Miller sat at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee. Petite, athletic State Trooper Stephanie Miller sat at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee. She ran her fingers quickly through her blonde hair, nodded, “Would you like some coffee, sir?”

“Yesssss,” Niemi replied enthusiastically. “How are you doing tonight? Been here long?”

“I’m good, Sir. I got here maybe ninety minutes ago. The niece called from Marquette area. Her uncle hasn’t called for several days and she got worried.” Miller took a sip of coffee, “She left messages and didn’t hear anything, so she asked if we could check it out.”

Niemi nodded, “So where is the body?”

Miller pointed, “Back by the sauna. I’ll show you.”

Both bundled up before venturing out into the cold. Niemi clasped the hot coffee tight in his gloved hands. Light from the open sauna door shone on a small mound of snow which lay in the shoveled path several feet from the door. Miller spoke, “I covered the body up. The poor guy was naked lying here.” Miller removed the blanket. Underneath, the frail stooped figure of a 70 year old male lay frozen. She pointed out a trail of frozen blood that seeped from the right temple down the rigid face.

 

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Stalker I

I’m experimenting with my writing and am aware that all three versions need work. If you  have some constructive feedback or suggestions, let me know.

A. At the sound of a car driving up the street, Dirk King slid down in the seat. From his viewpoint he watched the car parallel park four spaces ahead. As the hooded figure stepped out of the car, Dirk wiped the buildup of fog from the driver’s side window. He watched to see what apartment the figure approached. “Goddamn lying bitch,” he spit when the figure stopped at the door to apartment 17.

B. The cord from Dirk King’s ear phones created a series of snake like figures in the fog of the tinted driver’s side window as it bounced to the jerky rhythm of Dirk’s head. The loud 80’s classic rock accosted his ear drums and blocked the sound of the angry thoughts that raced through his mind. Dirk’s snakelike eyes preyed on the door to apartment 17.

C. Alyssa Anderson was popping Jiffy Pop, waiting for her younger brother to arrive unaware that her new boyfriend was parked down the street watching another man approach his girlfriend’s apartment.

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