Category Archives: Folklore

From the case files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

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walkinginthedark

Darkness suited ex-Inspector Khazarian Rovas. He liked the quiet it normally brought, a certain breeze that drifted through most nights except for the height of the summer months. Then he was usually drenched, having trouble breathing during the ofttimes stiffing still air. Early spring, now, and the insufferable weather was still to come. Tonight, he could enjoy sitting by his open window, lights off, breathing the coolness in, and allowing his out breath fog up the lowest corner of the window pane. Waiting.

But for the wishes of his wife, Berrak, Rovas would still be on the job. He never thought he would retire, that one way or the other the job would be where he would part this life. Berrak thought differently, and although she never demanded, he saw the clarity of her spoken thoughts. He loved her, she him, and it was that love that carried him to hand in his resignation. Forty-four years, the ups and downs of any job, acknowledgments and failures, all reduced to farewell handshakes, some drinks, rehashing of spectacular cases-solved or unsolved-and the drive home, with the few personal items from his desk in the boot.

It was the rehashing of cases that brought Rovas to his study, to his window, at 4:10 in the morning. Eight days had passed, but those memories of cases that were not, to him, satisfactorily closed, haunted his waking hours. He thought of the cases, twenty six in all, that still niggled at the back of his mind. He owed Berrak time that she was excluded from during his career, and he vowed to himself he would do his best to give her what she needed from him.

But those cases…those cases…

Outside his window Khazarian Rovas noticed a silhouette of a man briskly walking, back to Rovas, down the street, hands in his pockets, head cast down, fading down the street horizon. Ruminating, Rovas had not noticed the man until now. He had no idea where he came from, just observing this figure in darkness fading smaller and further away, until only a haze of an outline was visible. In a blink, the walking man was gone.

Rovas got up from his chair, turning it around to face his desk. Turning on the table lamb, he stared down at the pile of folders on the right side of his desk. Twenty six folders.

Sitting, he took the top file, placed it in front of him, opened it, and began to review this troublesome case file.

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Hi everyone. I’m sure you’ve noticed I have been away for quite awhile on any regular basis. Things happened in my life that took me out of the mood. I’m trying to see what I can do to mend that break within me.

I just rejoined the Blogging from A to Z challenge. Lots of positive things changed for me with the first one I was part of in 2011. Sadly, that did not last the lifetime I had hoped it would be. In either case, I am back.

“The case files of Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Twenty six case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve from this list of cold cases. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

 So, join me (and the over 1600 other blogs involved) starting on April 1, 2016. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned.

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Chromatic Labyrinth

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Piano-Wallpaper-music-24173621-1280-800Carlo, Prince and Count, imagined his wife in bed with another man. Not just any man, but his friend, the Duke of Andria.  Carlo noticed the Duke’s eyes always found the figure of Donna Maria more than pleasing. He noticed this look too often from the Duke, and he felt that the looks were too often returned . While Donna Maria protested her innocence, Carlo knew, in his heart, that she had already betrayed him…and would continue, this most vile of betrayals.

Unless…

These thoughts assailed Carlo as he pushed himself to compose. Music was his life-he knew that-but it, too, betrayed him.  His madrigals were politely received in court but ultimately…they were misunderstood by most and dismissed, mostly behind his back, but oh, how gossip reaches even the most closed off of ears!

He locked himself in his music room, the only living space he would occupy until he had finished this composition. Receiving food intermittently from his servant,  barely touching any of it, Carlo would not lie down to sleep, only dozing at his piano.  Nothing came out of his demand on the keys, tinkering, chords splitting into discordance instead of magnificence. Four days, and his mind wandered away from the task he set for himself.

Exhausted and light headed, it was on the latter part of the fourth day (although that was later told to him, as time had lost all meaning to him inside his cell) that the visions came. Donna Maria, nude, appeared to him. He stared across the room where she stood, and all his feelings for her rose to a grand level: lust, hatred, love, agony, pain, ecstasy…and rage. Word-paintings came to him. She sprawled, ever  so close, just beyond his reach. He used the keys of his instrument as knives, slashing down, sliding, pounding down until his fingers nails cracked and broke, leaving droplets of red on the ivory.

During all this, Donna Maria cavorted around the piano. She laughed in his face, touching herself, gliding across the room, behind him, leaping over or crawling under his piano. She would reach out to him, then pull away, her long black hair fanning out over the keyboard where he would try to grab a hold, only to have it whisked away. She twirled, and he played, and lost himself in his fury.

Every path he took drew him in deeper. He would sidle into a melody that would change, taking him in a new direction: most of them ending in a frustrating blockage, where he would only be able to retrace what he did, and go another way. And another. And another. Lost, in a place where meter and structure had no more sense, no meaning, and left him more desperate with each stroke of the keys.

Carlo was later told he unbarred the lock on his room and flung himself into the main foyer. Glassy eyed, he stalked past his ever waiting servant. Down the hall he  went, banging open the door to the armory, coming out with a saber in one hand and a gun in the other. The servant tried to talk to his master but was gutted, as witnessed by one of the maids who had come out to the main hall at the noise being made.

Cowering behind one of the marble columns, the maid heard her master rush up the stairs, a door bang open, and then another series of bangs as the gun went off, and screams from her mistress. She recounted that she heard sharp swishing noises, too many to count, her mistress’s cries loud and piercing, then fading, and then nothing.

Someone had summoned the constables, and the Sargent Major, known to all as a stable and strong man, could not report what he witnessed without feeling ill for quite awhile. Yes, he had seen battlefields, but the frenzy of the Count was like unto a butcher’s den. The Countess Donna Maria, and the Duke of Andria…

Carlo, Prince and Count, would stand trial for what he had done, but, in the end, he was freed. Money and ranking took care of that. He exiled himself from the city, trying to leave blood feuds and vendettas behind him. He withdrew more into his music, more into himself, and while he was lost in a complex labyrinth of creative madness, he composed.

And Donna Maria…she twirled around him for a very, very long time.

Papers of Pain

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Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.

Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.

“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never.  Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?

Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.

And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.

Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag.  He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds,  and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.

Yesterday, Memories (non-fiction)

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In Memory
1926-2012

My mother passed away on October 14th, 2012. One major reason I haven’t been writing, or that my meager attempts have been sombre. My father died on October 15th, 1999, which has still sent shivers through me, that they parted this earth one calendar day apart (although thirteen years passed).

It’s Halloween, a holiday she did enjoy, seeing all the children in their costumes, playing like she was afraid of the “scary” ones, cooing over the very cute tots and babies coming out for their first Trick or Treating, and giving out bags of candy (each bag had to be the same, piece by piece, number by number, so she felt no child felt cheated).  It’s been one of my favorite holidays as well…not so much this year.

She was “known” in our family as the “family historian,” being able to recall all the family stories, connections, etc. This she did orally, rarely writing anything down. Which is a shame: those stories now only reside in the memories of those who listened, and if we don’t write them down, they’ll be gone.

I did find her beginning attempts to write some of the history down, colored through her lens. I’m posting it here where I normally write my own fiction. Not sure when/if I’ll really come back to this blog with any real attention. I hope you enjoy her early memories.

Yesterday, Memories…by

Edith A. Nager: 1926-2012

(1)          My mother and father met and married in Odessa, Russia. Papa had served in the Russian Army for five years and then was discharged. I have a picture of him in his uniform. He was quite dashing. He came to America first and then sent for my mother. This was before the First World War

(2)          The day I was born my father declared it a holiday. He kept my three oldest brothers home from school. The other two were too young for school. There were five boys and now me. The truant officer came to the house and asked why they were home, and Papa said: “After five boys, a girl was born!” That fine gentleman stayed and helped Papa celebrate.

                Mama said, and I quote her: “This is it! If it’s another boy, no more!” Papa ran through the building knocking on doors to tell them the good news. He finally had a daughter.

 

(3)          Saturdays, my mother did not cook. Papa said it was Mama’s time off. He went to the kosher deli and bought Pastrami, Corned Beef, Specials (knockwursts), Salami, Knobelwurst (very garlicky salami), and rye bread. The mustard came in paper cones. Oh my, how delicious it all was. Mama made the potato salad.

                Saturday evening after sundown was the time to turn on the radio and listen to station WEVD. It was Jewish music and singing. It was OK, but Sunday morning was better. Same station, but it was all about “Troubles of People” and “The Bintel Brief,” as well as more music and singing.

                The “Troubles of People” were some of the saddest tales you could hear. Husbands came to the Promised Land first and became Americanized. They met other women, forgetting about the wives and children back home. Sometimes it was a three hankie story.

 

(4)          Sunday brunch was out of this world. Bagels, bialys, pumpernickel bread, sweet butter, cream cheese, Muenster & farmer cheese; Belly lox, a large smoked white fish, and pickled herring in cream sauce with onions. Of course, a large salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radishes and green pepper. We ate and talked. Everyone showed up for this feast. My brothers: Lou, Phil, Ezra, Sam, Bernie and me…and of course, Mama and Papa.

 

(5)          My brother Bernie gave me a lot of grief. He was the youngest of the boys. He used to tell me I smelled like a flower: it was called a stink weed. One day, he came home from school and went to the medicine cabinet. He took out a box of Feenamint. He got a box of Chicklet’s Gum and replaced it with the laxative. Some of the boys in school were giving him a hard time, so he got even. They never bothered him again. We gave him a new name: we called him “Dr. Fleckel.”

 

(6)          Walking with a group of girls and boys along the Gran Concourse to Fordham Road you could window shop. The stores stayed open till 9:00 p.m. We went to Rushmyers on University Avenue for Ice Cream in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. We’d also go to 161st Street to Addie Valin’s and the Roxey Deli.

                Trolley cars in the summer, the sides were heavy metal mesh so you would feel cool. It cost five cents each way and some of us would take a ride in the evening. We went all the way to Throgs Neck and back. This was before A.C.

Overlooking The Past By The Sea

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Read Right! What you know! for what this story alludes to…or not.

Emma stood in the doorway of the kitchen, wringing her hands in silence. Frederick had been in such a state that she had not witnessed in years, ever since that note was found slipped under their front door. She was the one who found it, and as she held the sealed envelope addressed to Inspector Abberline it took all of her resolve to just tear it to bits and toss it into the kitchen fires.  Emma was dreadfully sorry she had not done so.

Her husband stood by the bay window, right hand raised, holding himself upright and away from the glass planes. His left hand was behind him, and in it he clutched the letter he would not let her read. His mood was betrayed by his stance: taut, tense, and far, far away in thought. Emma had seen Frederick like this all too often, in London, in the days of the Ripper. Try as she would, he wound up sharing nothing with her, placating her with gentle brush offs that “…nothing was wrong, nothing to worry about…what’s that delicious smell, dear?”

The papers told her all that her husband as Inspector did not relate. It was all a gruesome, horrible business, and Emma had thought they were both done with it after leaving Scotland Yard,  London,  and the Pinkertons behind.

“Frederick, dinner is getting cold. Please, dear,” she entreated, only to be met with silence.

She approached him, sitting on the window seat, trying to take his left hand in hers. Shifting slightly but not looking at her, Frederick tucked the letter into his jacket pocket and placed his hand in hers. Even with the fireplace roaring his hand was cold to her touch. She placed it on her cheek to it and rubbed it to warm him, as best she could.

Evening was upon them and Frederick finally settled down. His sleep, when it came, was marred by tics and pulling the sheets out and winding them about him. Emma was awake through all this. “This was how he was like during the worst of it,” she thought, “and I can’t let him go through this again.”

She crept out of bed, found his jacket, and took the letter out of the pocket. Walking into the front room, the embers in the fireplace were playing off the last of their heat. They were also still hot enough to reduce the letter to cinders. She knew he would be upset, and a week would be full of awful silent recriminations, but she also knew it would pass.

Emma stopped at the bay window. By moonlight and reflected fog she saw a figure, shadowed, standing up the slope, by the copse of trees that separated their land from the neighbors. She saw nothing but the shadow, but she knew it was a he, and she knew he was staring at the house, at her.  A cane was in his left hand, and a gentleman’s top hat sat upon the figure.

Emma held her breath to the point of hard labor. Sweat drenched her where she stood, and stand fast she did for she was unable to move. They remained that still, together, until the tip hat was doffed in her direction followed by a slight bow.

Hat back in place, the cane slashed from left to right. Noticing only those movements, Emma did not see the figure fade into the night.

Frederick found her lying on the floor by the window in the morning. She was so chilled that he called for the doctor; he remained at her side, ministrating to her needs for the rest of that day. No mention was made of the missing letter, nor did he press for what disturbed her so.

That evening, at the Black Dog Inn, a stranger bought the locals a round. They cheered, swarmed around the bartender, and forgot all about him as they drank to his health. A working girl was appraising him as she drank her pint of bitters, her eyes smiling in his direction.

“Cheers,” he said to her, and then he tilted back his Black and Tan and drank heartily.

One Lovely Blog Award…Yes, It Is Too

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It was the 2012 Memorial Day Weekend, and I get a pleasant surprise: I have been honored TWICE with the One Lovely Blog Award, as passed on to me by Allan Douglas of Simple Life Prattle and The Write Stuff (and fellow Triberr buddy).

How could he bestow this upon me twice? One is for here,Tale Spinning, the other is for my Non-Fiction blog, BornStoryteller.

The “rules” are simple:

  1. Thank the person who awarded the award (Thank you Allan) and link back to their blogs: Click HERE and HERE
  2. Tell SEVEN things about yourself that no one knows (but two blogs… 14.. but…14? TMI)
  3. Pass on the award to (15) blogs you follow and like/admire/wish they were yours.
    1. I’ll do as many as I can.

So…

Seven Things :

  1. I’ve lived on the East Coast of the USA all my life, but have visited more than half of the states now.
  2. I read SciFi, Fantasy, Thrillers, Mysteries, and then the occasional other book. Existentialism, anyone?
  3. I wish the lyrics to John Lennon’s song Imagine were achievable.
  4. People find me unfocused in my field of interest (the arts); I find myself versatile.
  5. I believe in ghosts, but not vampires and werewolves. Especially not shimmery vampires.
  6. I like both cats and dogs; I do NOT like fish, as pets or otherwise.
  7. I have never gone to a demolition derby or a monster truck thingy; I’d like to, at least once.

In no particular order, blogs I pass this along to, and you should give them a look/leave a comment (tell ’em I said Hi):

Woman Wielding Words

The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective

Ghost Cities

My Rivendell

ZenCherry

The View Outside

David Powers King

Cherie Reich-Author

No Wasted Ink

Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World

Daily (W)Rite

Raising Amelie

Sonia Rumzi

A French Yummy Mummy in London

Rock the Kasbah

A to Z: The Complete Swan Rise Series

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Open House: Trespassers Welcome

Swan Rise Apartments went out like an exploding lamb; it came in like a sleeping lion… but the building, and its inhabitants, did not always remain so. They lived lives that were hungry, playful, sleepy, lusty, fearful, agitated and on the prowl; they reared their young, and did what they needed to survive in this vertical village.

Welcome to… Swan Rise Apartments

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…and so, the story unfolds. 26 interlocking stories set in the world of Swan Rise Apartments, all written for the A to Z Challenge that ran throughout April 2012.

You’ll find links to all the stories below; each one stands alone, but many have roots and connections in other chapters.  As a whole, it tells a story of the lives that swirl around apartment building life.

Each Sunday, I’ll re-post these links in case you missed any and for your ease in finding them.

The stories will remain up only for the month of May. As of June 1st, I will be taking all of the stories down from Tale Spinning so I can work on a larger second draft of the work. Some of the earlier pieces need fleshing out, and discoveries I made along the way need their roots dug deeply in the beginnings.

May 30th will be your last chance to read, and comment, on these stories. Hopefully, you’ll eventually hold an expanded version in your hands.

Comments are always welcome no matter when you read the story.

Week #1: A to G

All, Tumbling Down

Basement Boogie

Children in the Hall

Doggie Doings

Equivocation Elite

Fire(escape)

Ground, Breaking

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Week #2: H to M

Holidays, Haunts and Hearts

Imaginings of Love

Jung, @Heart

Kindred Spheres

Laundry Room Mafia

Mrs. Beatty

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Week #3: N to S

Not What They Seem

One Man’s Ceiling…

Pollination in the Parking Lot

Quack, Quack

Retraction of Gravity

Super, My Super

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Week #4: T to Z

Thieving Ways

Underneath It All

Vertically Challenged

Weather Man, Oh

Xanthippe

Yeah…Life Goes On…

Zenith: Arising

Impressions of Perfect Fifths

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Marc Chagall

His hands played along the surface of the violin, tracing the patterns worn into the wood. Slight depressions,  imprintings of someone’s fingering, their palm, chin, sweat. Empty of catgut, Avram, the luthier, caressed and stroked the violin that was given unto his care for restoration. He closed his eyes, held the violin to his nose, and breathed in its history.

The drawing of the horsehair bow that had slid along the strings left intermittent grooves in the wood. They showed where a well loved piece was played,  how the violinist drew against the grain of the violin itself. Clumsy or a style, it was all the same to Avram: this was a well loved instrument, that was apparent, and it would become one again.

He noticed the nicks, the dimples in the varnish, the grain of the wood, the stains not readily perceived, but there. There was a very slight crack near the base of the right F-hole, the chinrest needing to be replaced, a refastening of the tailpiece and scroll. Sitting on his wooden stool, Avram kept the violin out of direct sunlight, a strain for his eyes but a blessing for the instrument.

The tuning pegs were worn down, without sheen. Avram could tell that the strings had been replaced, often, their lifespan given to the music: either no longer playing true, losing the desired tone, or snapping in the frenzy of the player.  That did not matter to Avram. He would eventually make a new marriage, adding the G first, then the D, followed by the A and E. He would attach them at the base, up the bridge, along the neck and finally connect them all to the pegbox. All would then be tuned, in harmony, restored.

This though, was still a ways to come. All in due time…

Eventually, time for music to be lifted out and carried, vibrating its musical message to others. Time for this violin to find new hands, a new lover, to be held towards and against the player, to communicate and be in tune once again.

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Author’s Note:

I was given a newspaper article by my SO about Violins of Hope, a project of restored violins that had a history of pain: they came from musicians who “experienced” the horrors of the Holocaust. There was a concert in Charlotte, NC in April 2012. The violins are now back in Israel.

This immediately got my writing gears in motion: I have plotted out titles of chapters, an outline, for what I will be working on next. I plan to get a first draft done of all this while it is still “hot” for me; then, in June, I’ll put this aside and start working on the second draft of the Swan Rise stories.

This was just to whet your whistle. I will NOT be posting any of my Violin stories on Tale Spinning after this: I want it to be marketable for an agent/publisher, if worthy. I WILL be looking for readers along the way, to form a small core group, maybe our own writers group, so if you’re interested, please EMAIL me (please don’t post it here: my email can be located on the right sidebar).

As to Tale Spinning: I’ll be dropping some pieces here and there throughout May, as the story comes to me or I find a fun prompt that inspires. Please check out my backlog of past pieces; there is a lot here, and if you’re new, well…then they’ll be new to you as well.

Remember: comments are always welcome.

Zenith: Arising (#AtoZChallenge)

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The A to Z Challenge : 26 Stories during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building: Swan Rise

(For Links to ALL the previous stories, CLICK HERE

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Goodbye…

The wrecking ball wrecked, the explosives exploded, and all the debris was carted away. Stone, bricks, glass, wood, metal piping, aluminum, copper, brass, steel, plastics, rubber hoses, cables and…among the detritus there were also bits and pieces of lives mixed in: slivers of dolls and toys; charred papers that once were whole books,  someone’s thesis or love letters, wills, documents, pictures; cloth that, in some pieces, you could see patterns that illuminated a sun dress or once expensive curtains; some bones, those of the pets that were never found. So much life mired in destruction.

Swan Rise Apartments was no more; really, it hadn’t been for months. The property was condemned: the damage from the explosion and fires were too great. Part of the foundation was in shambles. Inferior piping was found to run through the remaining section of the building, and some of the landings were precarious in any hope of their holding up. The majority of the building inhabitants were not allowed to retrieve their belongings. They all settled, out of court.

Swan Rise fell in November of 2005.

That winter was fierce, and building anything was held off for months as ice storms and heavy snows blanketed the area. There was also litigation for wrongful deaths, finger pointing, bribes not paid, fines not paid, union disputes, haggling over bids, and planning…lots of planning. The real estate was too valuable to leave an empty lot.

Construction began in the early fall of 2006.

The wild life that floated up and down Swan River ignored all the doings. They lived too far away to be inconvenienced beyond the initial blasts. They’d fly over for the morsels that were tossed from workers meals, carelessly done so in the already made squalor. The birds let their presence be known in a number of different ways, many times being cursed out by a construction worker who was “hit.”

For close to two years the area morphed from gravel, dirt, weeds, and the past into a new edifice of metal, concrete and glass. Swan River Road was bustling with traffic, the sprouting of other buildings and businesses growing substantially from 1960. New construction always brought gawkers around, rubberneckers ogled the cranes bringing girders to be placed, and the welding and gluing and mortaring and tarring  brought things to a standstill all too often, much to the chagrin of the other inhabited area.

2008, and a new renamed building was erected, zoned for two extra floors, standing seven stories tall. Taking far longer than anticipated, the building management was chomping at the bit for all the lost revenue. They made it a condo, and had nice down-payments in the bank for all of the apartments by the time the construction was complete. There was a waiting list, and would continue to be one in the years ahead.

The tenants of Mallards Crossing Condominium moved into their new residences.

Hello…

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Author’s Note:

April 2012 comes to a close and this year’s AtoZ Challenge with it. 26 posts about Swan Rise Apartments and its residents. 24 stories; two poems (one free form; one sonnet).

If you were wondering, I wrote 18,032 words during the month; if you add in The Whistler is Dead, it is 18,493 words in length. Not too shabby.

Please note that these stories will be left up only through May 2012.

I will then take them offline as of June 1st, as I plan to put this whole thing through an editors pen and a second “draft.”Quite a lot of the early ones need some fleshing out, especially the two poem posts, so I hope  to bring it over 25,000 words; more, if I get really ambitious.

From there, it will be query letter time.  If an agent or publisher only sees this as tainted goods (already published) then I WILL go the self publishing route, but there will be a lot that was never intended for the AtoZ that I had in mind and little to no time to write. The reaction on the comments and in emails has been so positive that I’d be silly to let this just lie here solely on a blog.

Thank you to all of my readers. You’ve been my “beta” testers, my writing cohort, as I’ve explored this story as you have: day by day. I made many discoveries along the way, and very few of the original titles I “planned” out remained. I never knew there was a murder in the building until I wrote it into one of the stories, a throw-away line that had a life unto itself. Mrs. Beatty was only a small dot to me when I wrote the first story: she became a loved character to many of you (and me as well). So many others in the building took on more weight (Amy came out of nowhere, and I’m glad she did), and a few will get some expansions when I work on this over the summer months.

A big Thank You goes to Lisa Vooght for being my sounding board, playing editor and  finding some of my outright mistakes, and for all of her support. She is an amazing writer in her own right and you should check out her creative fiction blog, Flash Fiction.

I also want to thank Arlee Bird (founder of the blog fest: click on the logo heading this blog post to go to their site) and his co-hosts for running this and giving over 1500 bloggers a chance to spread their wings (and go a little crazy in the process).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of interwoven tales. This was both tiring and exciting for me as a writer.

Comments are always welcome, no matter when you read the stories.

Did you have a favorite of the 26? I’d like to know which one(s) were for you and why.

That’s always a big help and a blessing for a writer: feedback.

Thanks all!!!

Stuart

Children In The Hall (A to Z Challenge)

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Welcome to the third of twenty six stories during the month of April

Welcome to The Apartment Building

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From elevator to the apartment door you must run the gamut of an interior passage, the hallway; every building has them.  It’s not a living space; it is a vacant area that leads you, sending you in directions. It has no other purpose but to move you along to your destination, or away from it.  While you travel layouts in buildings you know-apartment, business or otherwise- understand that the Swan Rise Apartments has a straight corridor that connects both wings of the building, with an inverted L shape at each end for an apartment-like cul-de-sac.  Un-imaginative or just practical, it serves its purpose.

The hallways are busiest in the weekday mornings. The early to work risers lead the way, followed by those off to school and the just-making-it-to-work on timers. Things quiet down until the Laundry Room Mafia takes over. They wheel their creaking carts along the tiled floors, making that “bumpity-bumpity-barump” cascade of sound that lies flat all around until they reach their destination.

It’s quiet then. The hallway is like a no-mans land, lone figures furtively moving along from apartment to elevator, elevator to apartment, a few venturing out to toss the trash down the chute, then return to their abodes to lock themselves in again. These are the At Homes, and their number grows as the building also gets older.

Once

Swan Rise used to be a mecca of a different kind. They’re mostly grown up now, surly distant teens, or the families have moved out along the way, or they’ve left the building and their families behind. Most of their visits are few are far between, if they come back at all.

The hallways used to reverbrate with the sound of children on every floor.

Every floor.

Mr. Bob Fields misses the days the building was full of kids and young families. He misses his own. There was  life, a vibrancy, a different feel to the place.  The smells of holiday cooking still ramble along the breadth of each floor, but the laughter…

The laughter was often missing.

In it’s place was a plethora of barks and yaps from the yappy little apartment dogs. They took the place of children, solace for the empty nesters but not for those who felt a dog was not a little white floor mop that had to prove its power in its constant barking.

It was that dissonace that greeted Bob when he stepped off the elevator, made a right,  and headed down to his place. He swung his keys around, having to readjust the numerous bags he was carrying. His wife always asked him why he didn’t take the shopping cart. “I forgot” was his usual answer. She gave him a silent scolding, which was her usual response.

Putting the plastic bags down on the table, he removed his jacket and went to work. Scissor snipping, sorting, dividing into exact amounts, then filling up his baggies and putting them all in a row, Bob was satisfied. Now, he just had to wait.

It was getting towards dusk, and there was a mood change in the building. Everyone knew it, waited for it, anticipated it. Not everyone relished it. They hid inside their holes, sequestered, wishing nights like this would just go away.

Not Bob. He relished it, longed for it, desired it to be more often. It was a night of devilment that he always loved, and while Beth, his wife, would have none of it, Bob lived for times like this.

There. There it was. A noise in the hallway, at the other end.

He got ready. Walking towards the front door, Bob turned off switch after switch until the front of the apartment was in darkness. A glow that could only be described as eerie was eminating from a lone candle that was  flickering (like Bob’s anticipation?) was the only source of light now.

Bob waited.

Closer. The sounds were getting closer. He could hear rustling sounds, shhhh’s going around, some low muffled grumblings, then…his doorbell rang.

Shouts went out:

“Trick or Treat!”

Bob flung the door open wide. This year he decided on puppets instead of a costume. He had a witch, fortune teller and  wizard hand/rod puppets ready for the evening. This first Trick or Treat of the night was special:  a large hairy blue monster, reminding him of Grover, but that was lost on these kids, he was sure.

“What you want?” the Blue Monster growled out. “Trick…or treat?”

Twelve in all; a good first gambit, Bob thought.

“Trick!” they yelled, both children and adults.

“OK…Bye Bye!” and Bob (as Blue Monster) slammed the door shut.

The parents laughed, as did their children. As did Bob, and Beth, who had inched her way up to the door to see the little ones in their costumes. She touched his shoulder and gave it a squeeze.

Opening the door, every face that was not masked was alit with a smile. The eyes through the masks glinted as well. Halloween bags of goodies were handed out, thank you’s were said, and the troop went on to their next victims, as Bob closed the door.

Beth said: “Can I do the next group?”

Blue Monster gave her a pat on her behind, making his way to the kitchen to make them both a cup of tea.

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