Category Archives: Humor

Philomel, with Melody: #Friday Fictioneers, A Different Take

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dadsshoesPHOTO PROMPT submitted by Courtney Wright. © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous.

Philomel, with Melody

“Will you look at this? Look at these boots! How darest he leave us a pair in such disgusting shape?”

“Yea. How darest he?”

“Look at that! How in Titania’s Tits are we supposed to fix…those?”

“Yea, Titania’s titties. HeHe.”

“Oh, do shut up.”

“Me lips are sealed.”

“And yer still yapping your yap. Damn me for a hobgoblin! This is beyond my ken.”

“You haint no hobgoblin.”

“Oh, double do shut up! Spit and a prayer; they’re falling apart! The soles! Look at the soles!”

“Back to the mushroom fields, then?”

“Ay. No cobbling tonight. Daft shoemaker. Daft boots.”

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So, I look at the picture prompt, and methinks to myself: “Thar be different stories one can tell from a picture of boots.” I thought I just thought it to myself, but when I got strange looks from the other coffee house patrons, I realized I said it out loud, in full Pirate voice. My timbers were shivered.

Yesterday, the picture prompt led to Boots in Distress. Today, the above.
As to the challenge: The above was a prompt from Addicted to Purple by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields that she calls Friday Fictioneers . The rules for this prompt are simple:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt.
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.

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Hence, the Exorcists

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Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, et secta diabolica…
The exorcism was conducted three times by three priests: two blessed by Rome, one who got his degree online. Exhausted, the three stood, facing the evil abode. It looked down on them with disdained amusement.

The Arbor of Solomon they constructed trapped and halted the spread of its demonic ways. Before they came, it got the Weeping Willows, red droplets pooling around the roots. Mrs. Alto’s Victory Garden ate her dog, three cats, and the mailman’s left leg. Shrubbery wilted, foundations cracked, and Vampiric chipmunks invaded. Subverting the Women’s Weekly Book Club was the step too far; hence, the Exorcists.

After a quick call to the Vatican, all three packed up their bags and began to leave. The Online Priest pulled a sign from his bag, driving the stake into the thorn-laden lawn.

“House for Sale. Terms Negotiable.”

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The above little bit is from a Prompt Contest that was created (and is run by) Jo at A Creative PTSD Gal.  I “met” her during the AtoZ Blog Challenge. The rules are simple: the photo, above, is your prompt. Limit your story to 150 words exactly. This is a contest: if you decide to join in, there is a form provided by way of the link above. Jo says: “This could be in any genre you like, non-fiction, fiction or what strikes your fancy…”

You have until May 30 2018 to enter; she’ll post the winner(s?) soon after.

I just had fun with this. Originally wrote 188 words and had to edit it down. People who know me know I hate to edit, but I do follow rules. Usually. For the most part. When they make sense to me.

 

Reflections of the 2018 #AtoZ Blog Challenge: The Abysmal Dollhouse

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A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

For all the information you could ever want about the AtoZ Blog Challenge, Click:  Blogging From A to Z Challenge.

This was my fifth AtoZ Blog Challenge:

The rules are simple: During the month of April, you commit to writing 26 blogs, each day based off the run ot the alphabet. Up to you how you do that. Blog hop around, read and comment on other blogs, build a community. Don’t sleep. You had to sign up through the AtoZ main page. From that, most people chose and announced their Theme (more below): I signed on late, missed that, and, well…I had no idea what I was going to do up to two days before it started.

Yes, I am that unorganized.

I actually had another idea that I thought would be funny, but when I realized the main character I wanted to use was verbotten, the idea lost all its allure. Quelle dommage. That had me in a bit of a spin; I asked on Tale Spinning if anyone wanted to see me continue some previous storylines that I liked, or should I try something new. I got two: TWO, and only two, requests. Hence, The Abysmal Dollhouse.

I have written TAD stories since 2012. Almost always positive comments. A few followers suggested I should add more to the oeuvre and publish it. Hemming and hawing, procrastinating, all my usual excuses for not committing fully added up to one fact: I didn’t.

Scared? Insecure? A rough number of years on so many levels? No motivation? Creativity and passion just drained away?  Lump them all together and I just never carried it through, letting the ideas pretty much just lay there, occasionally bursting forth. Definitely not often enough. Tale Spinning was pretty much an empty space for the last couple of years.

In actuality, boredom with my life, and myself, kicked me in the arse.

I’m what is known as a Pantser: I don’t prewrite, rarely have an outline, especially for continuing series that I like, and only have a basic idea that I use as a jumping off point. When I started off this round of TAD, I just thought I’d continue on my “Monster of the Week” stories, letting the letter of the day create my title, which then started my writing for the day.

One thing I do do (hee hee. Oh, sue me) is take a little bit of time for research. In this case, I just went online and found a whole bunch of Weird, Murder, or Haunted Houses around the world. I chose a number of places that I thought would be great prompts for every day of the challenge. Didn’t use even half of what I found, this go around.

Something happened that changed in me really early on in the process: I started creating a backstory/mythology for the series and began to drop hints and clues about the backgrounds of The Unfolding Doll and the Shopkeeper. Yes: I started to shed my pantsing and began-gasp!-planning. Not 100%, still no outline, but things were starting to gel and I got much more invested in what I was writing.

I look at it this way: X-Files had many episodes of Monster of the Week, with episodes of their mythology scattered here and there. A MOTW episode could still give us more background info on Scully & Mulder while kinda sorta avoiding the BIG story. Character development and whatnot. That’s how I was viewing all this.

Then the next change happened: I got some new readers, who commented, questioned, told me what they liked, and I felt they were really invested in what was going to happen next. I had that in 2016 with that year’s storyline (link at top of the page), but not to this extent. It kind of added to the challenge for me; it definitely altered my thinking on the storyline.

The ending may seem rushed (it was) but I had dropped hints and clues in many of the stories. It’s hard to fill in all the details when I was trying to limit the daily posts to around 1,000 words. Many people will skip a long posting, and I know I lost potential readers for that reason. Nothing I can do about that. I’m sure many will pass up this reflection for the very same reason. Quelle dommage, part two.

For those who might have missed the main posting where I dropped a lot of clues, go to the “I” posting: In The Absence Of…

A couple of more things: please bear with me.

One thing I’m “frustrated” with are the posts that I thought I was being witty with. Alas, alas, alas.  Too gimmicky? Too obtuse? Spot on? No idea: no feedback. Jabber Wonky was my attempt to play on the Jabberwocky poem in Alice in Wonderland (which gave me the reason to rhyme what goes on in The Child’s mind). I used some of the verbal tomfooleries in the piece, more as an homage; In Quoth the Riven, I think it was pretty obvious. I actually wrote following the path Poe’s poem took. One of my favorite pieces by him.; Orchestra! Curtain! Lights! was my wink to one of my favorite things-animation. It’s the opening lyrics from “The Bugs Bunny Show” theme song. My story has nothing to do with Bugs & Daffy, but Orchestra! was my jumping off point for the tale.

I did not blog hop as much as I was hopping to. I always say I’ll do more, and I did, this year, but I fall far short of others. My apologies. I did happen to come across some wonderfully written blogs along the way and picked up some new blogging friends. I’d like to thank (in no particular order): David, Debs, Sharri, Ms. Wolf, Iain, Jo, Jacqui, Varard, and Melanie. If I’ve forgotten anyone, please forgive me. As to previous readers/bloggers: thanks for sticking with me. Roy: didn’t make that many mistakes this time around, eh?

Special thanks go to Arlee Bird for starting this whole thing, and to the hosts who share the duties. It’s been a blast of a month. Next year? When the time comes, we’ll find out.

Thank you, everyone.

The Candy Striper: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

The Candy Striper

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The old man took his time entering the store. Stooped over his cane, his face drawn and blotchy. His cap was low on his head; it was easy to tell that the only hair on his head came from his ears.  His glasses were thick, even with the progress in the eyeglass industry. The Shopkeeper took this all in, waiting for him to cross over into the shoppe. The door chime tinkled a little longer than usual.

She smiled at him. “May I offer you any assistance?”

“If it’s OK with you, I’ll just look around. Yes?” he asked. She nodded. “Good. Thank you. This is a very…interesting shop you have.”

“Thank you. Please let me know if you need any information…or help,” she offered one more time, and one more time he refused.

The Shopkeeper went to stand behind the main glass-encased counter. She had to shush a few of the Dollhouse’s pleas of “Mine, mine, mine,” excusing their desperate cries as just noise from outside when she noticed the man’s raised eyebrows.  He turned to look out the window; what he could see was the same empty street he had been ambling along. He smiled, shrugged, and began to look around.

The Shopkeeper studied him. He was gaunt, with sunken eyes, hollow cheeks. She noticed that every few steps a grimace would mar his face. He was short of breath, and occasionally he wheezed.

He examined many of the Dollhouses, reading the legends neatly handwritten on their display placards. He made a few small grunts if he bent over too far on some, a harsh rasp escaping his lips.  The Shopkeeper noticed a sharp, horrid look on his face as he stood in front of the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée. She hurried over to his side, grabbing her broom along the way.

The Unfolding Doll was approaching him from behind, out of the corner shadow, knife in hand. The Shopkeeper spoke a few warding words under her breath, placed her hands in a pattern on the broom handle, and brought the broom down, separating the space between the doll and the old man.  The Unfolding Doll stopped in its tracks. It canted its head to the right, button eyes focused on the Shopkeeper.  It brought the knife up to waist level, but let it drop. Gliding backward, The Unfolding Doll oragamied itself into the shadow in the corner. All this happened in the few seconds it took for the man to get his composure back.

“I would like to show you a special Dollhouse. I think this is one that would be of interest to you,” she offered to the man. This time, he allowed her help.  He followed her to the opposite wall, nearer to the front windows. She stopped him in front of a double-floored straight line designed dollhouse.  The man stared, took a step back like he wanted to retreat out the door, but The Shopkeeper went over and opened the front of the Orange County Hospice.

He stared; just…stood there and stared. The beds lined the long ward, separated with colored drapery.  Some of the beds were occupied, chairs as well. At the end was a large picture window, sectioned off by a frosted glass wall. It was exactly like the one he had just left, unsettling him so that escaping from there seemed preferable.  His aimless walking led him here.  It was sterile clean, bright and open. He hadn’t been ready-not yet-to surrender when he had left the hospice with such heaviness. This…this was different.

He noticed a young girl walking towards him, a closed book in her hands.

“May I sit with you, Charles?” she asked. “I looked for you at your bed, but John in the next bed told me you were out here in the sunroom.” She looked out the window as she sat. “Such a beautiful day, isn’t it?”

Charles nodded at the Candy Striper. She was wearing her candy cane red and white striped pinafore, a natural smile on her face that continued into her eyes. He looked at the book she was holding.

Her smile broadened. “Yes, I have your favorite. I borrowed it from my brother. “She began to read; Charles found himself relaxing and settled back into the chair.

They traveled together over the clouds, hand in hand, flying with Michael, John, Peter, and Wendy…Wendy Lady. The adventure took him to Never Never Land, fighting pirates, living in a hollow tree, saving Tinkerbell’s life. He relished the reading, the escape into a world he loved, and in this… he forgot how much pain he had been in before.

Charles had nodded off at some point. A deep snore woke him up. The candy striper was still there, but the book was closed, bookmarked for a future read. Her smile was addictive, a similar one he felt beginning on his face. On the small glass-topped table in front of him was a tray of delight: baked goods, and all ones that Charles loved.  Chocolate Eclairs, Napoleons,  and a large mound of chocolate covered Rainbow Cookies that he and his father had loved. “Take what you’d like, Charles,” she said. He sampled and ate, and was more than sated. It had been a long time.

When he patted his stomach and sat back in the chair, Anne, the Candy Striper, tilted her head back to the ward. “Mr. Roman says he could beat you in a wheelchair race. Are you up for the challenge?” she asked, the excitement in her voice was evident.

“You bet. I am ready for any challenge!” he exclaimed. Anne helped Charles to his wheelchair, Mr. Roman already waiting.  They nodded at each other, wrapped their hands around the tops of the wheels.

“Ready! Set!…” called Anne.

The Shopkeeper approached the dollhouse and closed the front. She smiled as she heard laughter and friendly shouting noises from within. “Good,” she said out loud, moving back to her counter and picking up her duster. She was speaking to the shadowed far corner. “Good. This one will never be yours.”

The Unfolding Doll was surrounded by shadow. The knife in its hand glinted of its own accord. It could wait, as its wielder could wait as well. Both thirsted for the Shopkeeper but knew this was not the day. The Unfolding Doll crept from the far shadow into The Serpent House, the dollhouse closest to its corner, to play.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

This story is an edited version of one that appeared here on October 22, 2011. If you want to read & compare the two, click on this link: Candy Stripe Ward: A Tale of the Abysmal Dollhouse. 

I rewrote this more to fit my current voice with The Abysmal Dollhouse. Not a major reworking, but one I am happier with. Hope you like it.

Real Neat Blog Award: Peachy Keeno

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So, second time in two weeks, I have a blogging award. Never heard of this one before, but it was created by Dear Kitty: Some Blog in 2014.

I was nominated by someone new (to me) who I discovered, again, through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. The blogger behind A Creative PTSD Gal is busy busy busy. She writes from the heart, and it has been a pleasure to discover her. Two blogs, a whole big family, life…and she does it. Not everyone can. Since she writes a bit more personal items, I don’t think it’s in my wheelhouse to go deeper into her reasons. Check out the above link and I think you’ll be pleased you did. Thank you for the nomination. I hope I can remain neato keeno.

Here come the rules:

The Rules:

  1. Display the award logo: DONE
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog: DONE
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you: See Below
  4. Nominate 5-10 bloggers: See Below Below
  5. Ask them 7 questions: See Below Below Below

PTSD Gal’s Questions for MOI:

  1. What is the most difficult part of your artistic practice? I try not to write during the day because of interruptions (phone calls, mail, meals, life). I usually like starting about 11:00 pm EST.
  2. What has been the most difficult thing to date that you have written about? My one man play based on my father. He was a survivor of Auschwitz.
  3. Do you limit yourself to edits? Not sure how to answer this one. I hate editing, but I know it has to be done. I’ve gotten better as I’ve aged, like a fine cheese.
  4. Snack or no snack when writing? Beverages always; snacks only when my taste buds cry.
  5. What or who encourages you to keep posting to your blog? Right now, I push myself. It keeps me from negative things.
  6. What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A scientist &/or a comic book writer.
  7. Do you have a writing buddy? (Dog, cat, fish, snake etc…) Nope. I’ve got dust. Does dust count?

Bloggers I nominate are:

Seven Real Neat Questions:

  1. What car would you own if money is no question?
  2. What author would you like to sit down with and pick their brains?
  3. What is your favorite story about Winter?
  4. If you had to “Kill Your Baby” (talk to Stephan King) in a book/story you’ve written, who are you most sorry you had to do in? If you haven’t, who should get the axe?
  5. What book have you read more than once?
  6. One of these is real: Magic (Paranormal) or UFO’s. Which one, and why?
  7. What is YOUR favoriteist blog posting from your blog(s)? Please copy and paste your link here

Keening At The Bell and Ram: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Keening At The Bell and Ram

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Disappointment did not settle long on the Shopkeeper’s shoulders. The ache inside was a sizeable force that moved her along, binding her to her duties. The sudden unfolding of that horrible memory brought to visual life, did its damage. As it had done before, and she feared it would do so again. She had lit every light, tied back or moved anything that would hinder even the slightest bit of light, all in the effort to dispel as much of shadow as she could in the shoppe. At least, for now.

The far right corner fought her. It wasn’t a lost cause, but it was a strain to contain.

For a short while, things were uneventful. She tidied and dusted, swept and mopped, moved dollhouses around, adjusted displays to her best. There were grumbling sounds coming from all around her; the commotion was a disturbance that put off the houses. They were much settled in their place. Let others come to them. The claiming was the satisfaction.

She placed dollhouse after another in the window, but nothing was feeling right. Ten times she fussed; ten times she returned them to their resting place within the shoppe. The eleventh attempt felt right. Making sure it was just so, the Shopkeeper rummaged in the cabinet underneath the display window, looking for the things that would best showcase its new charge.

Creating this display gave her a focus. A green mat, the color of fresh, healthy grass, was laid down. The piece was next, and she outfitted it with wooden benches that sat along the outside wall. She anchored a tree and some bushes to the mat, creating a path of gravel, from a jar kept for just so,  that led to its door. She fussed a bit more but felt it was right as it was. Brushing her hands together set off a small cloud of earthy dust.

With a “tsk,” she went to retrieve her duster and bin.

An old man had been watching from the street. He had been shuffling along, tan cap pulled down over his forehead, still squinting from the sunlight. The movement in the window caught his eye and slowed him down, and then to a stop when he noticed what was placed in the window. He watched as the details came together, so intent was his attention he barely noticed the Shopkeeper after the first moments.

“Well, I’ll be,” he muttered to hisself, as it all came together. “Well, I’ll be.”

He stood for awhile just staring, losing hisself in what stood before him, and what was dredged up from inside. It was the rolling in of the clouds overhead, cutting some of the sun glare, that caused him to shuffle along again, but this time into the shoppe.

“Howdedo,” he said, noticing the Shopkeeper and doffing his cap. Turning away from her, he looked at the other side of what caught his attention. “Looks like rain. It’s not raining yet. It looks like rain,” more of a mutter than a statement. No answer required.

The Shopkeeper smiled. “May I be of any assistance?” she said to his back.

“Well, I’ll be. It’s the spittin’ image of The Bell and Ram. The Bell and Ram.” He turned his head slightly towards her. “I spent a good part of my youth there.” Turning back, his entrancement caused him to forget her, the shoppe, the weather. Behind the pub is where he and his mates would sneak smokes, drain glasses of beer that were snuck out to them by Tom’s older brother. That bench is where he first kissed Jenny, she kissing him back so hard they fell off of it and laughed on the ground.

Sitting under the tree, telling all the ghost stories that slithered about the B&R: devil worship and child sacrifices. The Lady in Gray who would sip from your mug and whisk you away, keening and wailing loud enough to wake the dead, from the basement and through the walls. The stories only became chilling when they were finally old enough to be inside on storm laden nights, with the wind tearing around and down the chimney, sounding like the Lady was just waiting to sip and take.

The first peal of thunder sent him shuffling inside, more scurry than a shuffle. He had been cold and moved himself to sit near the fireplace. The old man noticed, rounded the bar, and brought him a pint.

“Looks like rain,” he said, receiving the drink with both hands. “Looks like rain, and a lot more.” He took a swallow as the keep went back to tend his station.

Staring into the roaring fire, listening to the wind’s keening,  he repeated: “Looks like rain, and a lot more.”

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

The Ancient Ram’s Inn can be found in Gloucestershire, England. Built in 1145, it has many stories of devil worship, murders, child sacrifices, and the good old Lady in Gray.  Like anything with that age, it has a very colorful history.

A follower of this blog might recognize the old man, The Weatherman, from another AtoZ series I wrote. He just felt right for this.

Gluten for Punishment: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

(CR) Barbara Heimoff Lardizabal

Gluten for Punishment

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Nothing looked familiar, but that seemed to be the way things went nowadays. Arthur felt he was in the right place, was sure of it, but then, again, in the next moment, he was just confused. Arthur paused before the facade of a place with no sign, old but not decrepit, a large window display whose interior was obscured by the glare of the sunlit reflecting off of it. He wasn’t sure anymore of what he was hoping to find. “No way to know if I just stand here,” he thought.

The doorbell tinkled as he entered, and again when he closed the door. Looking around, his shoulders slumped and he let out a soft sigh. Arthur took in his surroundings, finally turning to the woman who was watching him, waiting. No one else was in view, even though he thought he heard some muffled words in the distance. She looked the part of a store employee: fastidious white shirt, black skirt, and a gray apron. Prim, came to his mind.

“Do you work here?”

The Shopkeeper smiled and nodded. “Can I be of any assistance?”

Arthur, eyes wandering, let his feet follow. Dollhouses. Row upon row of dollhouses, all different styles, all, he noticed immediately, with such details.

“Um, yes. Yes. I was looking for a place that I could have sworn was in this location. Could have sworn. But,” his eyes raised to meet hers, “nothing seems to be where it should be, anymore.” He paused, looking at the walls and displays around the shoppe. “No, nothing is the same.”

The Shopkeeper joined him by his side. “Tell me about what you are searching for. Maybe I can be of help.”

“Um, well, yes, maybe.” They continued walking, stopping, he contemplating the dollhouse in front of him, she contemplating him. “Maybe.”

Replicas of houses began to have mixed in other structures: theaters and museums; hospitals and castles; motels and stores; places of pleasure, of memories, and some…some that just did not feel right to Arthur. Those, he passed by quickly.

He thought he heard brushes of conversation, laughter, animal barks, crying, screams, but looking around, no one else was there with them. “It is all right, Arthur. Everything is all right.”

Standing up straight, Arthur faced the woman. He did not remember telling her his name and was about to say so. But, something startled him, to her right and just over in the next aisle. He left her side, walking to what caught his eye. Joints cracking as he bent to look, Arther’s face became radiant. The Shopkeeper smiled and returned to her counter.

The bakery. His memories swirled of all the tastes of the freshly baked goodness. The smell gladly assaulting his nostrils, breathing in the aroma, closing his eyes to add to his sense of smell, taste.

The service counter was just as he remembered it. Cookies of all types, pastries, cakes, pies. Special delights, like his favorite, a Charlotte Russe, paper sleeved cake filled to the brim with fresh made whipped cream and topped with a Maraschino cherry, with the stem.His dad’s favorite Rum Balls. His mom’s favorite anything sweet. Danish and crumb cakes, strudels, Strawberry Short Cake, and Black & White Cookies.

Arthur was drooling.

“Hello, Arthur,” Mrs. Glibert called to him, behind her place at the counter. “Rye bread is fresh, as your mother likes it. Here.” She handed him a slice of the loaf. The texture was perfect, soft and flavorful, with the crust having that golden baked perfected crunch.

“But, but, um, it’s gluten. I break out in a rash. My stomach tumbles. My…”

“Hush, here. Try it,” she insisted gently.

Arther tentatively took a bite. It was heaven in his mouth. Then another-to hell with getting sick from this. He finished the slice, licking his lips, searching for any stray crumbs. He wanted more.

Mrs. Gilbert handed over a large Black & White; the cake-like cookie still warm and soft, the chocolate and vanilla icing gooey. Arther took it over to one of the small tables with their wire-backed chairs and set about to polish off this treat that he hadn’t had in way too long.

The door opened. “Hey Artie,” the guys called to him as they came in. Ricky, Eugene, and Steve ran to the counter, errand running for their moms but also looking for their favorites.

“Boys, boys, one at a time,” Mrs. Gilbert smiled as she fussed over them.

They brought more of the smell of the bakery swirling around them as they joined Arther at the table. He was almost finished with his B&W and thinking about another. Neighborhood kids in a neighborhood place that had the feel of home. Arther was happy to be here.

The Shopkeeper looked around her empty shoppe,  taking in the memory of freshly baked goodies. She walked to the shoppe door, locked it, turned the sign to read “Closed for Lunch,” and went to her back room for a chocolate chip scone and tea.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays, since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

The G & R Bakery in the photo above once existed in the Bronx, NY. The photo was taken by Barbara Heimoff Lardizabal; you can find more of her work at Bronx Pictures 92.

Now I want a real Black & White!

Forever F(r)iend: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Forever F(r)iend

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The echoing bleating of “mine, mine, mine” continued long enough to draw the Shopkeeper’s attention. The dollhouses clammored until she shushed them, stern look to one and all. As usual, she had been making her rounds, dusting in a grid pattern, excavating the settled floating particles from her charges. She stood and faced the door, knowing.

The chime above the door tinkled as the door opened. Standing in the doorway, looking left to right, the man in the green cardigan sweater adjusted his sleeves, pushed the middle of his black framed glasses up his nose, and finally completed his entrence. The Shopkeeper had noticed him pass by a number of times, occasionally stopping and squinting at the display window.

He waited.

“If you need any assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask,” she said, taking her place by the counter, hanging up her duster, and placing herself so that her broom was at her back. She had felt him staring at her as he stood there, and knew he had been squinting at her the few times he had peered in. Her feelings were correct, as always. So many of the dollhouses felt it too, long before he touched the doorknob. She glanced at the shadowed corner, but it remained still, vanquishing the sparse streaks of light that came its way.

There were aisles of dollhouses between them, various archetectural styles; some so very plain, while others reeked of the overdone. The man looked around, walked over to a few, bent over, inspected, stood and moved, ever closer to where she stood. He had not said a word. She noticed that even as he looked at a replica of Hill House, then The Emperor’s Pagoda,  moving onto the Waverly Hill Sanitarium,  no discernable hint of interest crossed his mein. His gaze might have been on the shoppes’ ware, but his attention appeared to be solely on her.

She broke the silence. “I think I have something that might be of interest to you. It has received avid interest, from time to time. The description on the display card is as fascinating as the dollhouse itself.”

For the first time, his face changed: a small curve of the lips, a mini smirk that froze in place. He bent over and read out loud “Akershus Festing: The Fortified House of Aker.” Straightening up, the smirk was gone. “So? What of it? It looks it’s made of stone, with arrow-slits in place of windows.”

“Notice anything else?” she asked.

His eyes narrowed and creases formed on his brow above his nose. “It has a fence, som..”

“A battlement,” she interrupted. “It is called a battlement.”

Glaring at her, he noticed the stone…battlement created a wall around the house. There was something else written, on a smaller card that was just beyond the wall.

“Read the card.”

“Look, enough of this playing around.” He backed up a step from the house, beginning to turn towards where she stood.

“Read the card!” It was not a request.

It went beyond him that he did so. “Beware of Malcanisen? What…”

The front gates of the battlement groaned open at the same time as the door to the house did, equally grating. Finding himself in front of the door, he heard the gate forcibly shut behind him. He turned to look; as he did so, a deeply aggressive sounding growling came from inside the house.

“Hey,” he shouted, “what the hell is…oh my god.”

In the doorway was Malcanisen. Dark gray matted hair covered the huge dog’s body. Its lips were pulled back, displaying the sharp pointed teeth. Saliva drooled down, its eyes were blazing, and Malcanisen advanced.

The man tried to run, but Malcanisen lept and brought him down. With fangs deeply embedded in his prey’s upper left thigh and groin. Dragging the man through the door of the house, the screams and rending sound diminished and went silent as the door closed tightly shut.

During the process, the Shopkeeper had moved to her back room. Her timing was perfect, the sound of the door sealing shut just as she returned to the floor. In her hand were two miniature bowls: one filled with dark ale, the other with special biscuit treats. She placed both by the front of Aker’s Fortified House and gently tapped on the door.

“Thank you, Mal. I left something for you.”

Returning to her counter, she picked up her duster and waited. The Shopkeeper heard the lapping of the ale and the crunching of the treats. She smiled.

“Who’s a good vicious dog, hmm? Who’s a good evil dog? You are. Yes, you are!”

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

The Akershus Festing (Castle) resides in Oslo, Norway. It has been around since the 13th century and, as you could imagine, has a rich and varied history. It also has tales of hauntings and other assorted bumps in the night. Malcanisen is one of them: the name translates to either “The Vicious Dog” or “Evil Dog”, and if he was to advance upon you while you were traipsing around the castle, you would face a horrible death within three months of the encounter. Basically, Mal was supposed to be guarding the premises.

Who’s a good doggy?

Stuck in L

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My love life has been surrounded by women whose names started with the letter L. Yes, there have been other alphabetical choices, but L’s seem to prevail. There’s been Lynette, Leslie, Laura, Lucy, Lisa, Lori, Lindsey, Linda, and even a Lola. I know I’m a man; Lola wasn’t. Boy, she wasn’t. I’m sure there were a few others who I’ve simply forgotten, but in the end, I’ve had my fair share of L. No matter. None of them ever prepared me for Lili. I can’t even begin…well, not true. How do I skirt around a cliche? My life has never been the same since I met Lili.

I was on my bike, a Yamaha YZF-R6 that I called Yaz, going home after an uninspired date. Not an L, that I know. It was two in the morning, and the Merritt Parkway was almost car free. I was going fast, keeping an eye out for speed traps; I knew where most of them were, traveling this road so often in my life. It was cop free that night. Connecticut sleeps, unlike New York. I revved Yaz up to the century mark. We whizzed along the road, passing trees and the few cars on the parkway. This more than made up for a so so date.

Until I noticed headlights in my mirror that were getting closer. Thinking COP, I slowed down, knowing it would not be enough to avoid a ticket. But, no flashing lights. No megaphone voice telling me to pull over. The lights were catching up to me, low to the ground, and then it passed me on the left. As it pulled ahead I noticed a very quick two blinks of the brake lights. The car sped ahead, slowed a bit, two quick bursts of brake lights, then speeding on. I took the hint.

We played taking lead, overpowering the other, back and forth, for miles. The car was in the lead when a new light appeared, the right blinker. The last gas station/rest area was coming up, the one that’s just before the NYS border. I clutched and braked Yaz down and followed the car to the parking area.

It pulled into the spot furthest away from the station/mini mart. I parked right next to the car I’d been having fun with, giving out a little happy gasp as I took my helmet off. Didn’t need one in CT, but I was heading to NY. The car was gorgeous: a bright yellow Lotus Evora 400. A car I’ve been drooling over. Well, one of them. We were at too high a speed for me to notice anything really more than the color, but now…

But now the driver door opened. The gasp I had for the car was amplified by the woman that stepped out. Long black hair ran down and over her shoulders was the first thing I noticed. Then the smile. It radiated a lot of things; well, in my mind, and other parts, it did. She was wearing sunglasses (2:00 am, remember) that only accented how beautiful she was, eyes or not. Black buttoned down shirt was equally unbuttoned as buttoned, and painted on looking black jeans. Boots. Goth to the extreme, but she wore it better than well.

She leaned against her car and beckoned me over. Beckoned. I’d never been beckoned like this before. We exchanged names, admired each other’s driving, me admiring a whole lot more. Lili? I’m not a mind reader, but if you judge by where we went from there, she was doing the same. Talking turned to kissing, kissing turned to other things. We were both sweaty and smiling when Lili got a serious angry face going.

“Davey, this has been lovely, but you need to get out of here. Now.”

Rude shock, but there was something in her voice that was more urgent than anything else. I backed away, adjusting my clothing, trying to adjust the very mixed feelings I was having.

“Now, Davey. Now!”

Helmet in hand, I watched her as she opened her car door. That was as far as she got before a really terrifying animal growl sounded. That was followed by the biggest, meanest looking dog I’d ever seen. Then, another one. They came out of the wooded area behind the station and lopped rather quickly towards us. I wasn’t watching Lili at the moment as one of those things came towards me.

It leapt over the Lili’s car and came right at me. Only thing I could think of was hitting it in the head with my helmet. A quick not-even-a-yelp came out, and then a very angry snarl was directed at me as it landed behind me. I was at a loss as to what to do. Bike was off and cold, I had no weapons beyond my helmet. I turned slightly to see what was happening with Lili.

What was more surprising? These two beasts coming at us, or seeing Lili holding off the one, her hands on both parts of its jaws, pulling them further and further apart. Just as I heard a squeal coming from her beast, mine decided I was game, fair or not.

The blow to my back knocked me down and almost out. I rolled over onto my back and shoved my helmet into it’s maw as it came for my face. Believe me, having a death grip on that helmet saved my lift. Jamming the piece further into the mutts’ mouth, I did the only thing I could think of: try to Mountain it.

Just saw the episode of Game of Thrones where the Mountain killed his opponent by squeezing a guys head real hard, pushing his thumbs into the eyes. Gore and victory ensured on the show, so…why not? Reaching up while the thing continued to chomp down on my helmet, I started to push as hard as I could once I had my hands in the right position.

It wasn’t easy, by no stretch of the imagination. I was hurting the thing, but I wasn’t winning. Victory was definitely not ensured. I head the helmet crack, gave a big prayer, dug in harder…and then poof.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Except, Lili was standing over me, holding a very wicked looking knife like thing that glittered. She held out her hand and helped me up. Lili gave me a once over, running her hands over me, kinda like she had before the attack, but in no way sensual. I felt OK after that, but also weak once the adrenaline rush wore off. I was just about to ask her what was going on, when another growly voice sounded, this one not from an animal.

“Mother, congratulations.” Which did not sound congratulatory in the least.

“Buzz off, B,” Lili said, still checking me out. “I’m very, very sick and tired of this game you insist on playing”

“It’s not a game, Mother, and you know that. One day, and soon, you will pay for your insults.”

Lili just smiled, waved her hand in the air above her floating hair. Yes, floating hair. No wind. Floating. But it fell down, cascading over her shoulders again. I could sense that whatever had been there wasn’t here now.

Before I could ask any “What? Huh? Who? What?”, Lili put her hand on my chest and closed her eyes. I felt a bit of a tremble inside, something clicked, and, well, things were different.

Lili got into her Lotus; I got onto my Yamaha. She pulled out of the lot, and I followed her. As I continue to do.

This was how I met and became involved with Lili.

Lilith.

Mother of Demons.

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Author’s Note:

So, hi. A to Z Blog challenge is over two weeks ago. I needed a bit of a mental break. I kept getting messages to write more, continue more Rovas & Berrak, but…not right now.

I plan to do a bit more with Lili and Davey. Let me know what you think

Reflections On A Challenge (A to Z Blog Challenge Recap)

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and in the end

“Reflections on a Challenge”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The 2016 edition of the A to Z Blog Challenge has come to an end.I was kinda sorta “forced” into joining this year. I had stopped posting for awhile for a variety of reasons, and it was..um…suggested that I get back to writing. The thought ran that the A to Z was the best place to restart my engines. I did. The April postings are the result. Ta Da!

What jump started this theme for me, cold case files, was a series of online posts I had been reading about…unusual crimes that have never been solved. I thought: “What a great idea: explore a cold case every day, or every two days.” It soon became apparent that was a lofty order,  one that would require a lot of editing to accomplish. I realized all that by the third installment, with the chat between Rovas and Gil. So, I decided  to alter my original plan, creating an ongoing story, interweaving character driven pieces with various plots, with one overarching one: John Peters.

I don’t like planning beyond the theme. I rarely write my posts ahead of time, scheduling to post on the correct day. Done it, but not my norm. I usually work best under time pressure. Always have. I’m an Improv trained performer, among other things, so being in the moment works for me…usually. So, no outlines. No deep research until the day of and where the story leads me. Yeah, that gets me in a spot now and then. As Bruce wrote: “But mama, that’s where the fun is!”

The term for my type of writing: I’m a Pantser (flying by the seat of…)

As to how I name my main characters: I normally go with finding names that have specific meanings. I found Khazarian Rovas, not as a person’s name, but as a group heading: it’s an ancient, obsolete, term for a culture’s alphabet. Zarian had Turkish roots, I looked for Turkish women’s names: Berrak means “Dear”. I hope that this did not offend any Armenians who might read my posts. Not my intention.

BTW: I mentioned, above, about unusual unsolved crimes; well, some of the crimes in this series came from a few online articles. I created the rest. I changed names, if there were any named in the articles, and in no way have I any real information on any of those open cases. So if any investigators come sniffing around: fiction. I didn’t do it. I know nuffink!

Now we’re at the part where I’d like to thank some peoples:

THE THANK YOU PART…

First and foremost, Those Who Shall Be Mentioned: the folks who oversee the A to Z Blog Challenge: Arlee, Damyanti, A.J., Joy, Heather, Pam, Jeremy, Alex, Zalka, and John. Lots of work to plan, lots of work to not only write their own blogs but to answer comments, make comments on other blogs, and scoot all over the 1300+ bloggers that joined in this year.

My personal thanks go to people who stepped up to the plate by pointing out some of my “I Hate To Edit” stupid mistakes (yes,I will do something with the hair somewhere, somehow), grammatical errors, clarifications, and what not, overall supporting what I’ve done here. In no particular order: Kim, Holly, Gloria, Roy, and Jill. 10 Q (sound it out, if you don’t get it). Thank you. Really and truly.

To all my readers, commenters or not: Thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the journey.

THE WHAT COMES NEXT PART

Honestly, I have no idea. Quite a number have already asked for me to continue with Zarian, Berrak, and Gil. I’ve mentioned a few times that this has crossed my mind, as I saw this more as a first draft as I went along. To me that would mean putting all in one chunk, fix the mistakes, finally add a location (did that on purpose for the A to Z), expand a few of the story lines (really rethinking the first one. I call “Do Over” on it), and making it more of a novel. If I do that, it won’t appear here for quite awhile, if ever. I could just go on and write their futures. I’m very undecided.

What do you think?

I’ve been meaning to do the same with a piece I’m very proud of: The Kitsune-Mochi Saga as well as continuing my series of The Abysmal Dollhouse (this link leads to one of the first, and one of my favorite, of the stories. If you like it, use the search function and just type in Abysmal; it will take you to the lot).

Comments are always welcome…and encouraged!

Thank you, one and all.

The End.

Reflections done.

Go home.

Shoo.

I’m finished.

Time for a nap.

Break Some Glass