Friday, 15 May 2015

Teasers from SHORTS Vol.2 by Allan Hudson

Who doesn't love children? I have three fantastic grandkids. My collections of short stories is for them. Vol.1 is for the oldest, Matthieu. Vol. 2 is dedicated to the only girl, Natasha. Vol. 3 will be out shortly and dedicated to the youngest, Damien. I could never put the joy these three amigos bring me into words but I can leave them a legacy.

These excerpts are a taste of what you can expect in Vol 2. Links where the eBook can be purchased is below.




                                                 SHORTS Vol. 2



I was going through the storage area in our garage one day and had to dig through four boxes of mementoes I'd been hanging on to for years, items that linked the happy moments in my past. I wondered what it would be like if I had to move and I couldn't bring them with me.




1. Four Boxes of Memories.


Lloyd Minister settled frumpily into his new chair. He drained his busy head of the day’s events resting his foggy colored mane gently on the plush leather. He drew in a huge breath through his nose, the aroma of the tanned hide of his cushioned throne, rich and pleasing.  He pulled the handle on the chair side and a footrest responded like a storm trooper lifting his fatigued legs. On his lap, wrapped in several elastics were a cluster of envelopes that he had kept for many years, nothing special really, the result of a boyish hobby he started over 80 years ago. There wasn’t any room in one of the boxes for it but he couldn’t let them go, it would be losing his own sense of something unique, silly to anyone but him.


He shut his tired and elderly eyes, once a deep brown, now faded of old age. His wrinkled face was wide and square shaped by nature, cheap cigars and the rough seas that blasted winds and water upon his being as he fished the Atlantic Ocean from the time he was a bewildered boy alongside his father. His prodigious hands rested on the arms of the chair, the fingers splayed, they looked like baby squids.  His husky torso was clad in his favourite blue and white plaid shirt that stuck outside of a pair of dark blue Dockers. He was wearing his Dora slippers his four year old granddaughter insisted her Daddy buy for “Gampy”.

He opened his eyes and they were about level with the two little girl explorers on his feet. Like many times before when he laughed at them, he remembered the delight when he wore them for the first time, tiny Gracie danced about overcome with little girl glee, clapping her hands and making him dance in his new slippers, she had a pair the same and he remembered the jolly fun. He laughed now with hearty guffaws until his tummy hurt. He caught a couple of laughing tears with his chunky forefinger.

As his vision cleared he looked around his new home. He had a large bedsitting room, his own washroom, ample fine furniture, a few antiques from his own ancestors and a closet full of good clothes. The walls were bare of course and bore a hellish pink. He had told his son Eugene changing the color would be their first task otherwise he wouldn’t live here. Before Eugene left earlier he assured his old man that they would go shopping tomorrow.

“Don’t worry Dad, we’ll go up to Livingston’s Hardware in the morning and find something with a little less passion, something with some hair on its chest, to make sure people don’t think you’re an old funny guy  with pink walls.”
He smiled thinking of his boy, wrinkles doubled around his eyes.  It was a good thought, safe and cared about. His brief interlude was disrupted as he focused on the four boxes by the front door. They were simple Banker’s boxes, bought flat, resurrected at your office type. They stood in a straight line in front of the closet, decked out with square brown lids. The significant red numbers on the top of each, from 1 to 4, made them look like toy blocks for an adult. In reality it held the most precious items, the bullion of his life. The contents were the dearest of everything he owned. They were his boxes of memories.



The second story was inspired by one of my relatives. A gentleman that helped shaped his own granddaughter's life. When she wanted to get married, she asked him a very important question.


2. Reaching the Pinnacle

Jeb Davis is almost out of breath. The last half a kilometer of hiking up the mountain has been at a 25-degree angle. And it’s starting to get steeper. Mount Carleton in northern New Brunswick is not for cream puffs. He stops where the trail evens out for a meter or so near the exposed root of an enormous birch tree that has to be as old as his great grandparents if they were still alive. The bark on top of the root is rubbed away from countless soles. With one hand on the trunk, he stoops over to catch his breath. He adjusts his backpack with his other hand, hefting it a bit higher, and looks up the trail to check on his granddaughter. Thirty meters farther up, she is going full steam. He chuckles. It has always been so. Mindy Kane does everything at full throttle.

She doesn’t know he’s not behind her and she’s still talking. He can’t discern what she’s saying, but her voice comes back to him like vapor through the trees, a rhythm that’s part of the forest. A chorus of black-capped chickadees with their two note song provides a natural harmony. Breathing deeply he inhales the scent of damp, dying leaves that only autumn can bring. He watches her as she hikes under yet another huge birch tree with a canopy of mighty limbs. Yellow and lime-colored leaves cling to more than half the outstretched arms. The stream of early morning light passes through the half-naked limbs, dappling her lithesome body and bulky pack. She must’ve asked a question and realized something wasn’t right when silence ensued. She stops and looks back. Jeb can see the teasing twinkle in her eyes even from this far. She yells out, “Whatsa matter, old-timer? Can’t hack it anymore?”
He’s smiling when he scolds her.
“Watch your mouth young lady. Respect your elders. Listen, Mindy, you said breaks every thirty minutes. We’ve been chugging up this ruddy hill for almost…”
Standing upright, he checks his watch.
“…forty five minutes. Now get down here and give your Gramps a break.”
 
 
The third story was inspired by three friends
 that liked to get away on camping trips.
 Grown men that acted like boys when they
 were on their own. Trouble always seems to
 follow them.
 
3. Pioneers in a Hurry.

 

It feels lonely where I’m standing even though more than a hundred people are about me, divided and aligned by wooden pews. The church is cavernous absorbing the low buzz of sympathy and disbelief that whispers from the crowd of mourners. I can’t take my eyes from the decorative urn that holds only ashes. The burnished wood gleams; the hockey player etched upon the front reminds me of Robbie, the man that was my friend. The tiny tomb blurs in my vision, memories burst in my head like someone threw a deck of them in the air and you try desperately to see them all. I search for the one that sparkles, of the time him and me and our brother-in-law became boys again, pretending we were pioneers of a sort. It was a defining moment in our lives.

We were all crowding fifty. Robert was the oldest, we called him Robbie and he knew everything, man was a walking newspaper. He was average height, average build but there was nothing average about the confidence his blue eyes expressed. He and I were friends before but by the time the weekend was over we became great friends. Our mutual buddy Nicholas, a slender and kindly man, was also our brother-in-law as we all married sisters; he centered the veneer of our friendship. He was the youngest, certainly one of the smartest. He usually always has the best pot east of Vancouver. He’s the type of guy you always want to hang with, the ones that keep you laughing. We called him Nick. My name is Randolph. I prefer Randy.

We were loading the boat at the marina; it was about 7:30 am on a Saturday, the first week of November. The sun was hidden behind low eastern clouds. The rest of the sky was empty, topaz blue. We joked about our good fortune with the sun about to burst out on our first camping trip together; we had vowed to go rain or shine. I was walking back from parking my truck listening to Nick tell Robby about the time he and I had went winter camping. Every time Nick told it the weather was much worse and quite a bit colder.

The three of us were soon in the boat, Robby and I sharing the middle seat of an eighteen foot dory. Facing the stern of the boat we could watch Nick as he guided us out of the bay towards the nearest shore of the long slender Island about a kilometer away, our adventure destination. Sailing under an aging wooden bridge, Nick steered it through the rippling waters following the starboard shore. Giving the throttle a slight turn lifting us and the bow, he reached into his jacket pocket, withdrawing two similar packets of twisted aluminum foil the size of a twelve year olds fist. He gestured for us to each take one. He shouted out over the engine noise,
“It’s not too early to get high.”
 
 
The fourth story is about a detective named
Josephine Naylor. Her friends call her Jo. In
SHORTS Vol.1 she made the most startling
discovery of who was killing the young girls in
her city. This story continues the saga of Jo
Naylor.
 
4. Near Dead.
The wire slowly tightens around her slim neck. With both hands Detective Josephine Naylor desperately claws at the thin cord as it begins to dig deeper into the soft skin of her throat. Her breaths come and go rapidly in short wheezing gasps. In a few seconds she knows she won’t be able to breathe at all.  Fear clutches her every sense as she feels the taut wire break her skin. Her hands reach back to claw at her assailant’s brawny, hard muscled forearms as thick as a block a of wood. She rakes her nails along the leathery skin to no avail. The twisting of the wire stops, just before it cuts through the esophagus. The deepest, scariest voice whispers,
“You Bitch, you arrested your own father.”
Jo Naylor freezes, wanting to choke, barely able to draw breathe. The pitch of the whisper changes to anger, more of a hiss.
 “Now I’ll never be able to kill him.”
She tears at her throat, kicks out one leg connecting with something solid that reacts like stone. She is slowly being lifted off her feet by only the wire. Standing on tippy toes reaching for the hands that hold the wire, she sees death. 
It’s night time. The grisly scene is set in the bluish glow of a full moon. The tall, broad shouldered man holding Josephine’s life in his meaty mitts never saw the shovel coming. It’s a round mouth, curved on the edges, caked with a little brown mud where it joins the wooden handle which is about four feet long. On the opposite end, Jo Naylor’s partner, Adam Thorne, is swinging with his whole body. The flat part of the shovel connects with the side of the big man’s head. It would’ve floored most men but the giant only staggers. His hands let’s go of the garrotte. Jo falls to the ground, gasping in short rapid pants, hands protecting her throat.  Thorne turns to face the snarling man, ready to swing again.
 Pawing at his broken face, the man is reeling from the blow. His bluish presence sways momentarily in front of Thorne. Adam chucks the shovel to the ground reaching for his gun. The assailant stiffens as if sensing his own danger, he moves automatically and unbelievably fast for someone so large. His huge fist is aimed towards the threat, he can only see with one eye. He connects with Adam’s chest driving the air from his lungs, the gun flying into the air. The powerful blow propels the detective’s body backwards ten feet and to the ground almost landing on Jo. The man runs.
 
 
The fifth and final story is my fascination with
the 1800's in the American west and the
settlers that travelled the frontier. My family
has every thing they own packed into a
wagon, even the kids.
 
5. Six Jutlands and a Conestoga
The six Jutland draft horses strain as they pull the Verhoeven family over the last rise of their 1,200 mile journey. Bram Verhoeven walks beside the team, just ahead of the heavy wagon, using the long leather reins to guide the lead horse, front left. The tireless leader, Hercules, with his mate on the right, the grand dame, Ellen – named after President Arthur’s wife – guides the team of sturdy horses. Both are fifteen hands high, large quartered, relentless workers. The hill they are climbing has long grass swaying in the wind that urges them on. The lowering sun is partially hidden behind the crest, casting bright rays.
The groomed heads of first Ellen then Hercules break out of the long shadows into the golden waves of the western sun. Small sharp ears, thick beige manes with loose strands turn bright yellow. Their chestnut fur turns redder still as the animals walk into the sunlight, exposing the short neck, the muscled shoulders, the wide withers and the strong back of these willing animals. Bram watches the horses as they rise, pair by pair, into the brilliance. His dusty face splits with a smile of pure joy. Time almost slows down in his anticipation of the view his family is about to encounter. He’s seen it before. He owns it now.
Wiping the sweat from his brow with his right forearm, he looks back at his wife, Lena, who is standing up inside the front of the Conestoga, awaiting the horizon he has talked about for the last two years. Her right hand is raised above her head as she grasps the outer rib that holds the coarse hand-woven fabric of the wagon’s bonnet. Veronica, the youngest, is beside her, wrapped in Lena’s left arm. Her head, which rests upon her mother’s stomach, is covered with the same dark red curls; her face, with the same orange-ish freckles and the same mischievous eyes he has. Sheila, the oldest girl, leans on the front board, a smaller version of Bram’s wife, with a thin pretty face, straight brown hair tied up in a bun, eyes that study everything and a smile that artists search for. They all catch his movement and wave at him.
His oldest, Jonas, rides their quarter horse, Fancy, bringing up the rear, towing their Jersey, Cinderella. Aron, who is ten years old today, is a year younger then Sheila, two years younger than his brother and two years older than Veronica. He is perched on the lazy board on the left side of the wagon. He braces himself by hanging on to the ropes that hold the water barrel. His father had promised him they would make it by his birthday. Looking at his Pap, he waves a free hand when he sees him looking back.
“Happy birthday, Aron.”
 
Thanks for visiting the Scribbler today. If you
like what you read, you can purchase
SHORTS Vol.2 as an eBook  here.
 
Watch next week when the Scribbler has
Guest Author Tim Baker of Flagler Beach
Florida and you can read an excerpt from his
novel, Eyewitness Blues. Tim is a talented
writer and you will definitely like his
protagonist, Ike.
 


 

 



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