Ed and Wilbur

One of my sister's horses. This was just after she rescued it and it was heavily in foal at the time.

“You certainly look relaxed, Ed”

“Oh yeah, I am.  I’ve gotta thank someone for leaving that gate open. Was that you? I owe you one. I didn’t know the neighbours were growing weed in their backyard.”

“I think most yards have weeds. Some more than others…”

“No, not weeds, Wilbur. I thought I’d died and gone to horse heaven. I sort of floated back here from the Addison place.”

“Well, you look as if you’re about to fall over.”

“Nope, feeling great! Are there any more oats? Or apples? How about carrots? Maybe you could mix up some warm mash. Boy, its really bright here by the door. Think I’ll go stand in the corner, my knees area little wobbly. What’s that sound? Do you hear buzzing?”

“I don’t hear anything. Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”

“Fine. I’m fine. Just close the door will you. I’m just going to close my eyes for a bit.”

“I’d better have a look at that gate latch.”

 

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The Art Gallery

I bought three art prints today after spending the afternoon at the gallery. I had been meaning to go since I returned from Vancouver 16 months ago but I never got around to it. While out west, I visited every gallery and museum in B.C. There’s a lot of Salish and Inuit art in Vancouver and Victoria, which I can take or leave. I’m a big fan of early twentieth century Canadian painting, especially work done by Emily Carr and Tom Thompson and work by or in the style of The Group of Seven.

The prints are not large, approximately 30 x 22 cm. Now I’ll have to find frames, which will likely cost me more than the prints. I’ll spend some time on-line tomorrow to try to learn what sort of frame is best and then more web time to find a shop, hopefully in my neighbourhood. I already have a particular wall selected for them.

All three of these are representations of oils by Carr. She spent most of her career on the BC coast and she’s better known for her watercolours but I’ve never appreciated that medium. It’s usually too pale and washed out for my taste. I prefer oils. They’re usually more vibrant and full of colour. I learned today that she often mixed her oil paint with gasoline in order to allow the paint to flow more freely on the canvas.

I don’t know much about art. I go to a gallery and look around until something catches my eye and then I read the wall plaque or the guide to learn more about it. I can’t tell what is artistically “good” and what isn’t. I just know when I like something. I deal with it in much the same way as I do wine.

I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the gallery. There were rooms I zipped right through and others that deserved some dawdling. There was a visiting exhibit of Jean-Michel Basquiat that I took the time to go through and there was a second special exhibit of photography that I didn’t get to before closing. The gallery can be a confusing place with dozens of interconnecting salons and it’s easy to get turned around or find yourself back where you started.

I don’t buy art very often. My apartment walls are still bare although I have a few things that I could have hung if I’d gotten around to it. Now I’ll have to, so watch for snaps on my Shots page. Maybe I’ll hang the rest of my pictures at the same time. I should probably pick up some boxes too. If this is like every other place I’ve lived in, when I finally complete my decorating, I’ll end up moving. ©

——–

Cherish

 

I stood at the window in the front room, looking across the street. Mrs. Pauley was standing on her front step, her chin in the air as she tried find the sweet spot to read the paper though her bifocals. She always looks funny when she does that, I thought, like she’s looking down her nose at whatever she’s holding. She said something to the old guy and he shook his head. She turned to the cops, fishing a tissue from her sleeve and lifting her glasses to wipe her eyes as she listened to whatever the smaller one was saying.

Mom? I called, “What’s going on at Mrs. Pauley’s?” My mother came in from the kitchen to stand behind me, drying her hands on a tea towel and looking over my head at the scene across the street.

Oh, my,” she whispered, “I didn’t know it would happen so soon.” She looked down at me and before I could ask, she continued. “When Mr. Pauley died, she found out that he’d let his life insurance lapse. Couldn’t make the payments, I guess. He didn’t leave much money and she hasn’t been able to pay her rent. I think they were already a little bit behind.”

So? Can’t she get a job or something? Maybe one of her kids could help.” The Pauley boys were all grown and had moved away. Four were married with kids and living in Toronto and the other two were in Vancouver.

She can’t work. Her health isn’t good and she hasn’t had a job since she was a girl. She’s not trained for anything. As far as I know, she hasn’t told the boys about this. I don’t think she wanted to trouble them and its not as if any of them could afford to pay it for her.”

She stood for a minute longer as the drama played out and then said, “I’m going across the street to see if she needs anything. I may be a little awhile”

I turned back to the window. The cops and the old guy were getting back into their cars. Mrs. Pauley, tears running down her cheeks, held the screen door open as Mom walked across the grass.

I felt confused. I understood what Mom had said and knew enough about money to appreciate Mrs. Pauley’s predicament. What I didn’t get was, how could her family not know and why weren’t they helping her? I wondered if the rest of the neighbourhood knew about this. Maybe they could get together and help her out. I knew that a lot of folks were out of work and times were tight but this was important. The Pauley place was like a second home to many of us kids. There were always a few friends of the boys’ around the yard or in the converted garage. Even the younger children were welcome to step in for a cookie or a glass of water or just to say hi. Many of us had spent time at her kitchen table sharing a tale of woe and getting in return a soft shoulder and a dose of common sense. Once the last of their boys were gone, Mr. and Mrs. Pauley had kept the garage open as a kind of clubhouse. We spent a lot of time there. 

After I raided the fridge, I started on my homework. Mom came in about an hour later and began preparing supper. “How is she?” I asked.

Not very well,” she answered, “she has to be out by the end of the month and she’s already started packing. Do you think you could go over after school tomorrow and on the weekend to help move boxes and furniture around?

I was glad she’d asked me. “Sure, I’ll ask Hamid if he wants to help. Where is she going to live?”

Robbie and his wife are making room for her.” Mom gazed at me with an odd expression and I realized that she was a little afraid. This could happen to us, I thought with a shock. Mrs. Pauley’s life had been shattered out of the blue. You can’t be sure of anything.

The next evening I went over to Mrs. Pauley’s and helped her pack boxes and brought some things down from the attic. We didn’t talk much and I heard her crying once from the other room. I didn’t know what to say. The next day was Saturday and as I opened her front door I saw that the house was buzzing. It seemed as if every kid in the neighbourhood was there. They were dragging things from the closets and the basement and half filled boxes were scattered across the floor. The air was full of chatter and laughter and in the corner Kerry and Macy were arguing about something. It was bedlam. Mrs. Pauley was standing in the middle of it all with a jug of lemonade in her hand. She was crying again, but this time a broad smile lit her face.  ©

———  

A Nice Way To Start The Day

There’s nothing more relaxing than a cool spring morning on the golf course. Not many duffers out yet and it feels as if we have the place to ourselves. This is my favourite hole. It’s a challenge. A dogleg left with this pond on a direct line from the tee. You have to focus.

This morning, my partner coughed in the middle of my swing. A big, hacking cough. My ball hit the water. I didn’t bother to look for it. Maybe they’ll find it when they find him. ©

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Posted on Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Thanks to Dawn M. Miller for this week’s Prompt

Toasted

PHOTO PROMPT - © Douglas M. MacIlroy

“It’s hard to believe it’s 45 Celsius out there” his friend said, “It looks like a Christmas Card.”

“When the fresh water ran out, they built those desalinization units,” he said, pointing at the domes stretching across the countryside. “Now the oceans are evaporating, the country’s burning and the salt and ash are drifting like snow. We can’t grow crops and had to slaughter the cattle.”

“I guess it won’t matter much longer anyway. The sun’s growing every day. We’d soon be toast.”

“More like toasted”

They giggled for a moment and then abruptly stopped, picking up their pistols. ©

 ——-

Posted on Friday Fictioneers

Thanks to © Douglas M. MacIlroy for the Photo Prompt

 

Ingrates

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

“Are you laughing at me?”

I stared at the two of them in shock. They were mocking me! All I’ve wanted was to care for and admire them. They’ve been given pride of place at the very centre of my little greenhouse, Lord and Lady over all they surveyed. Just below their perch sits the ribbon won at last week’s fair.

I’ve never been so successful with my gardening efforts and I can’t resist spending time with them each evening. I’ve taken dozens of photographs and a lovely collage hangs above the fireplace.

Which was really very fortunate, I thought, as I brought out my shears. ©

——–

Posted in Mondays Finish The Story

Thanks to Barbara W. Beacham for this week’s Prompt

Karma

Jason plopped onto the bus seat with a sigh, reached into his pocket and examined the heavy silver pen he’d found on the floor at closing time. Each evening he took a careful look around the tables and the reading areas. It was remarkable what the students left behind. People are so careless, he thought, and most never came back for their lost items. He hadn’t put this pen in the lost and found though. He’d never owned one like it and it could probably fetch a pretty penny at the pawn shop. He sometimes sold the better items he found although most of the stuff was junk. One of the perks of the job, he’d always figured. Helped to make up for the poor pay and lousy benefits.

He got off the bus and headed for the pub across from his apartment building. He waved hello at a group of neighbours sitting in a booth and took a stool at the bar, ready for a couple of cold ones. Paul was talking to a young guy who looked about as miserable as could be.

I don’t know what I’ve done with it.” the kid said, “It’s solid silver, a gift from my uncle just before he died. He brought it back from Germany. I should have left it at home but it writes so nice. I use it all the time.“

The bartender shook his head in sympathy. “Where were you today? Did you retrace your steps?”

Yeah, I did. I spent most of the day in the library but when I went back it was gone. I’m sure I didn’t drop it outside. My backpack is always buckled up tight.”

Well, Its a damned shame,” said Paul, “hold on a second while I get this man a drink”

He moved over to Jason, said hi and asked what he wanted.

A beer’s fine, thanks. What’s going on there?” He flicked a thumb in the young man’s direction.

Poor guy lost a keepsake pen today. A momento from a dead Uncle.”

Huh, too bad.” Jason’s mind raced as he sipped the foam from his pint. What were the odds that he’d run into the guy? A city this size, it’s ridiculous. He wasn’t giving the pen back. Tough luck for the guy but that’s life in the big city. He finished his beer and stayed out of the conversation. He changed his mind about staying for another drink and dropped a bill on the bar, reaching down to grab his bag as he stuffed his wallet into his pocket.

As he headed for the door, someone called out, “ Hey, buddy!”

He turned and saw that it was the young man. He was marching toward Jason, his hand out and Jason thought, how did he know? Then he saw that the hand wasn’t empty. “You dropped your wallet,” the kid said. Jason stood staring at him until the guy began to get uncomfortable.

Isn’t it yours? It was laying right there by your bar stool.” As if from a trance, Jason shook his head, then nodded, grunted thanks and carefully tucked the wallet away.

He nodded again at the kid, turned and walked through the door. Doesn’t change a thing, he thought. He’s a sucker. There’s three hundred bucks in the wallet. It doesn’t pay to be a good citizen.

——-

What’s that? “Asked Paul, his face bathed in flashing reds and blues.

My pen.” the young man whispered, “It must have been in his pocket. I wonder how he had it.”

I know he works at he library. He’s one of my regulars.” Paul replied, “Lives across the street. He must have been trying to beat the light. ”

You know, I don’t think he even looked. He just muttered something and stepped off the curb.” ©

——-

VSO

While living on the west coast, I struck something from my bucket list. I had always wanted to attend the symphony and the VSO is an orchestra of Canadian renown. I bought a package of tickets to three performances and looked forward to what I had been told by one friend would be an exhilarating evening for any music lover, even one unfamiliar with classical music. Another friend raised an eyebrow and wondered if I’d asked for the senior’s discount. I ignored her.

The Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver is an ageing beauty dressed in cream and gold and deep red velvet, still lovely in the soft light of her chandeliers and wall sconces. Oil paintings and memorial plaques adorn the walls and there are comfortable chairs and sofas scattered about the halls and foyers. It’s easy to imagine the early Vancouver upper crust in gowns and tuxedos gathering in the orchestra lobby or climbing the stately staircases to the Dress Circle. Inside the auditorium, the decorative painted ceiling and the sculpted backdrop complete the effect.

The first half of that night’s performance was by a visiting pianist. The music was marvellous and when the audience stood to give him a standing ovation and a curtain call, I joined them. At intermission I bought a glass of wine and took a stroll around the theatre. I was quite pleased with my choice in entertainment. The music, the building and the ambiance provided an entirely pleasing experience. I looked forward to the next performance in my package.

Back at my seat, I took off my jacket. The balcony was warm in the late summer evening and the AC seemed to be struggling. The next musical pieces were described in the program as stirring and I settled back to enjoy them. The first was pleasant but I thought “stirring” was a bit generous. And it was long. The final work started with even less melodic flair and seemed to be entirely about the violins.

I awoke with the first burst of applause. Embarrassed, I jumped to my feet and joined the audience in a stirring round of appreciation. I didn’t tell either friend about my nap. ©

——–

To Whom It May Concern

Dear PC,

As you know, I committed the other week to posting something each day. This was to be an exercise in discipline. I was having no trouble coming up with ideas but just as soon as I opened my mouth to tell the world that writer’s block is hokum, “I just sit down and free type”, things have dried up.

I’m here to tell you that I’m getting a little tired of waiting for you to pull your weight. I don’t ask for much. A few words about loons or a joke about a fire. Perhaps a short poem or a ditty about a little red sweater. Just about anything will do, really. Just help me get started. And don’t speak to me about the prompts. Sometimes they work and sometimes I stare at them as if they’re written in Greek.

This letter is intended as a warning that should you continue to block my efforts, I will go out, purchase a new laptop and consign you to the closet. Beware, once in, never out! There are still jackets in there from the 80’s!

I can tell you one thing, this is definitely not my fault. I’ve always been able to bullshit about any topic for a couple of minutes or a couple of hundred words. So, as you are the only other entity involved…

…huh. Look at that, a couple of hundred words. ©

——–

Rubicon

I’m moving out.” The boy said quietly, looking at no one in particular.

The dinner table was usually a quiet place. His parents were as often as not engaged in silent combat and the kids would rush to finish eating and then get busy with the dishes before the storm broke.

Now, almost everything stopped. His oldest sister looked at him across the table, her cheeks flushing and her mouth dropping open. They were close and she knew about his plans, but suddenly the moment was here. His younger sister missed these opening tremors and picked at her pork chop.

He turned his head to the sound of a fork clattering on china. His mother was staring at him, her eyes wide and her mouth working in silence. “Where will you go?” she finally asked, looking from him to his father and back.

“I’ve found a place downtown,” he told her, nervously adding additional details, “An attic apartment. The ceilings are a little low but I like it, and its not too far from work.”

His eyes slid from hers to the other end of the table. His father speared a carrot and without looking up from his plate asked, “When?” as if this wasn’t the most significant event in his son’s life. As if he’d said he was going to the movies.

“Saturday. Archie will pick me up,” Letting him know that he was independent now and didn’t need anything from him.

Life with his father had almost made him shrink from this confrontation but he’d been fantasizing about this moment for months. He had turned eighteen just the week before. He was a man now and eager to be gone. He had planned the conversation carefully, confidently anticipating each response and he sat trembling in anticipation, arguments and recriminations at the ready.

His father put his fork down and studied him for a few moments and the boy imagined that he was considering options. This was definitely not what had been planned but no man-of-the-house reaction would work here. My-way-or-the-highway was staring his old man in the face.

Later that night, with time to think and in his bed in his parent’s house for the last time, he would be shocked at the indifference he’d heard in his father’s voice. It would linger in his memory.

“Well, be out by six. We have company coming and we don’t want to be disturbed.” ©

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