Saturday, 29 July 2017

Two Boys, One Wagon & A Secret. A Short Story by Allan Hudson. Part 1

I had a terrific time writing this short story. I love the antics that two ten year old boys can get up to. Originally published in the limited edition of SHORTS Vol. 3, I am posting it today in two parts.

Watch for Part 2 next week to find what the boys discover - what is the secret all about?




I am considering a novella of these two characters or a series of short stories and I would appreciate your comments as to what kind of trouble these young lads might get into in the future. (Please leave your comments below)



Two Boys, One Wagon & a Secret.
(Copyright is held by the author)



Beans and Chops are both ten years old. Beans, aka John Pascal Williams Jr, looks like a teenager, big for his age, hair and eyes both dark. Everybody calls him Beans because when he was seven he came home for lunch every day one week always asking his mother if they could have beans. Someone had told him that beans would give him gas.  His father always complained that gas was so expensive; if he could make some gas for his father then his dad would be happy. He had no idea how he’d get the gas in his dad’s car but John Jr. loved nothing more than making his father happy.

His mother figured the boy loved beans, so she fed him beans once a day for a whole week. He was producing gas all right, gas that escaped during class, announcing its freedom in a noisy and putrid fashion. At suppertime the day it happened, he told his family about the awful time he had. His mother explained why it happened and suggested he shouldn’t eat so many. His older brother Dave, upon hearing the story of the beans, laughed so hard he fell from his chair. From that day on John Jr. was called Beans.

Chops, named Caudwell Horatio Orville Phileas Sangster, is small for his age, making him look more like an eight year old. A cap of reddish curly locks tops his head and freckled cheeks decorated his cherub face. His parents call him Phil. When he started school, the older kids would tell him to “Phil it up” or ask “Are you full, Phil?” or say something that made fun of his name. The teased him so often that after school he would hide in his room and cry big tearful sobs. The torment lasted until summer break. During the holidays, when he was idle, he would print his entire full name on blank paper trying to decide which one he would use when he returned to school in the fall. When he couldn’t decide he printed out the first letter from each name, forming the word CHOPS. He liked how it sounded, so after that he would only answer to Chops. The most peculiar aspect of the new name was that no one made fun of it, not even the older kids.

The boys are neighbours. They’ve played together since they were babies. Their homes are separated by a quarter mile stretch of cultivated field that changes its skin with the seasons, brown and ruddy in the spring, lush and verdant in the summer, beige and prickly whiskered in autumn, white and pale in the winter. The two properties are joined by an umbilical cord of soft earth beaten smooth and permanent by the passing of their growing feet. The passage seems almost sacred – old Mr. Crackett would lift his plough or turn the seeder instead of disturbing the boy’s polished route. Their sneakers leave impressions on the soil: sharp with solid lines when new, unwrinkled and flat as the treads and the summer wore away. This spring there had been a change to the patterns. The imprint of narrow rubber wheels framed the rural hieroglyphs. Beans has a new wagon.

Chops is in awe of the cart with its black hard rubber tires mounted on shiny red rims, sleek polished wood the color of a summer tan made up the bed and side boards. The two boys always clean it on Sunday afternoon before they set out on their weekly bottle hunt. Right after church the boys change into old dungarees and matching white T’s. They have identical black and white sneakers. They are polishing the frame with an old chamois that Bean’s dad had given them when Chops says, “Can I pull the wagon today, Beans?”

Beans looks over at his friend and saw the sheepish look on his face – he asks the same question every Sunday. Shaking his head yes, Beans says, “You like this wagon, don’t ya?”

Pure pleasure is evident in Chops’ happy grin.

“Oh yeah, I love this wagon; it’s so nifty.”

They line the base of the carrier with pages from a newspaper so that any drips from not quite empty bottles would not stain the polished wood. Chops fans out the pages, being fussier even though it isn’t his. His childish heart knows he will never have one of his own. There are too many siblings, too little money. He always reminds himself that he’s never hungry, his clothes are always clean and his parents never yell at him. He usually got a new toy on his birthday and Christmas, but never anything as grand as a wagon. So he tows his best friend’s wheeled wonder as often as he can.

Beans on the other hand has only one brother and two parents who work. There isn’t a river of money at his home, but no drought either. The wagon hadn’t been a gift. It was a business proposition with his parents. He’d wanted one since he’d seen it at Cottrell’s Hardware.

Before the wagon, he and Beans had made their weekly hunt with burlap bags that grew heavier with each reward they found. The first time, they had collected their bounty as they walked away from home; the trek back with half-full bags slung over their stiffening shoulders convinced them there had to be a better way. The next week, they walked the usual two miles and hunted for empties on the return. But with a wagon, Beans decided, they could go even farther.

He made a deal with his parents. They would buy the wagon and he would pay them back from the earnings he made each week. It was 1959. A stamp was four cents, a gallon of milk cost a dollar, and the wagon sold for $19.95. He received a penny for each empty. Drinking and driving was thought to be great fun back then, so the country roads were usually littered with empty beer bottles after a raunchy country Saturday night with miscreants tossing evidence of their enjoyment from moving vehicles. Oddly enough, very few bottles broke. On a good Sunday, the boys would split fifty to sixty cents. Combined with his weekly allowance of half a dollar, Beans proclaimed quite proudly to his mother and father that he could repay them a dollar and twenty cents each month. He vowed that he would pay for the wagon in one year. His parents were so impressed with his determination that they agreed to buy it, with the understanding that he had to pay back only half and the wagon would be his.

 

Today is Sunday, June 21.  At one in the afternoon, the sky is dotted with puffs of clouds far apart, giving the hot sun ample time to bake the boys a wee bit browner. They’ve been walking for an hour, dawdling as boys will as they come to the last hill on their route. It’s not very long but oddly steep. The old country road had been tarred and sealed with stone only last year ; the shoulders are raw earth about three feet wide. Grass grows in patches with a few dandelions for color; small potholes and tiny rocks from the roadwork make the wagon hard to pull. When there are no cars coming, they hike on the pavement. The boys would normally not come this far, but at the top of the rise is the Mitchells’ mailbox. Experience has taught them they can usually count on a half dozen or more bottles in the shallow ditch behind it. Everybody who drinks in a car tries to hit it with an empty as they drive past. Some do and the mailbox is battered, dented, and sits on the post lopsided. The flag stopped working long ago. Beans says the old man likes the attention.

“He told my Dad that Hugh Smith has hit it eight times, keeps promising him a new one. Mr. Mitchell told Huey not to bother, no sense ruining another one.”

Chops nods his head and chuckles. “Makes sense.”

It sounds silly to them; they laugh at most things.

There had been a square dance at Robertson’s Dance Hall the night before so the pickings are heavy this afternoon. There are ten bottles: two Pepsi and a Coke, five Moosehead and two Schooner. Chops walks the edge of the woods twenty feet back from the road, where some of the bottles have flown.


 

“There’s no broken glass so nobody hit the mailbox last night.”

Beans is organizing the empties to the rear of the wagon, his bangs hanging down over his forehead.

“Huey went out West, that’s why. There’s nothing else, let’s go.”

Both boys tightly grip the loaded wagon that wants to roll away by itself. Starting out on their way back, they hang on to the handle together to slow the cart, letting it roll backwards down the hill. Their boy chatter carries them home as they separate to walk each side of the road. Feathered creatures call to each other, birdsong of mating and warnings accompany them. The one not pulling the wagon is mostly in the ditch and a little further ahead, usually Beans. Each cries out “Another penny” when they find an abandoned bottle. Talking loudly to each other from across the road, the conversation is a continuous stream.

And then Beans says, “We didn’t do very good in school did we? My folks keep telling me I can do better. I hate studying, I only like arithmetic… and comics.”
 
 
 




Thank you for visiting the Scribbler. I would appreciate your comments as to what kind of trouble these young lads might get into in the future.


Saturday, 22 July 2017

4Q Interview with Artist Melanie Belliveau.


The Scribbler is excited to have Melanie as our special guest this week. She is a very talented artist that resides in Cocagne, New Brunswick where she maintains a studio, operating under the business name of Melbelivo Art. She has agreed to answer several questions for us. 
 
 
 
 
(Photos of Melanie are by Janik Robichaud Photography. Copyright of drawings is held by Melbelivo Art and used with permission)
 
 
 
 
 
 

4Q: Your artwork is stunning and so real. When did you take an interest in drawing?

MB: Thanks so much Allan! I took an interest in drawing as early as I could hold a pencil! I was always fascinated with Walt Disney’s works, not only for the magic of them and how they made me feel, but also for the technique of his artwork… I would draw cartoons inspired by him all the time. At one point I even dreamed of working for Walt Disney Studios. Eventually my drawing would get me in trouble at school because I was always doodling on my schoolwork! Haha

Many doodles and cartoons later, I realized in high school that my passion lied in realism drawing. I created many realism drawings until I was about 19 years old… I then opted for the safe route and pursued a career in marketing and sales. I always wondered what would have happened if I had decided to pursue art… so I started drawing again last year.



4Q: Tell us about Melbelivo Art, your studio, your work habits and what inspires you.

MB: Well last Fall after a 14-year hiatus, I decided to dust off my old art supplies and draw. I instantly fell in love with drawing all over again and I haven’t stopped since! The last 8 months have been amazing. The amount of support I have received from my hometown, my family and friends has been overwhelming and I couldn’t be more grateful.  

I made myself an art studio so I could have a functional creative space. (Also I had sort of taken over the kitchen table ha-ha) I love drawing at night when the rest of the world is asleep, there’s a peaceful feeling and I find it easier to draw. I spend a lot of time on marketing and networking during the day.

I consider myself to be a huge music nerd, so I love drawing music legends that have inspired me through the years. I also love drawing faces, so I often pick celebrities or famous actors, etc. to draw because I love challenging myself with accuracy. I aim for hyper-realism, so the more realistic I can make them, the better.

 

4Q: Please share a childhood anecdote or memory.

MB: I am told my first drawing ever was on my father’s expensive sound system with a banana when I was still in diapers (oops)

 

4Q: What does the future hold for Melanie Belliveau, the artist?

MB: Everything is still fairly new, but I am looking at starting commissioned work soon. I would love to take on custom projects as I have received many requests and am starting to feel more comfortable with my workflow after a 14-year break. I will announce on my social media when I decide to open my books. In the meantime, I am selling limited edition prints of my current works which can be found on my Facebook page, Melbelivo Art. I will also have a booth at this year’s Hub City Tattoo Expo to showcase my art.


 


 

You can discover more about Melanie and her work by going here.



 


Thank you Melanie for being our guest this week and sharing your delightful sketches. Wishing you continued success with your art.

 

Thanks for having me Allan!
 
 
Thank you to you the faithful visitor and reader. Make me smile and leave a comment below.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Returning Guest Louise Boulter - author of Forgotten

Louise has been a guest several times on the Scribbler and we are fortunate to have her as our guest this week. Her novel is an exceptional story and we have posted a previous excerpt. See it  here  There has been such a terrific response to her story that we asked her to share it one more time.



My book 'Forgotten' is about a man who, after a brutal attack, wakes from a coma and does not know who he is or where he is from. All he has to go on are initials on a wallet the police found, as well as a picture of a woman and a young girl hidden inside the wallet. He makes his way across Canada in the hopes of finding who he is. Along the way, he becomes homeless and his outlook on life changes.


 

 

Part of the proceeds from the sales of the book goes to local soup kitchens and shelters. Thus far, I have been fortunate enough to donate over $1,900.

 








Here is one of many reviews I have received:

 

I read this book over two days and found it really difficult to put down. Not only was the topic of homelessness front and centre — an engaging issue that could always use more attention — it was also well written, with a beautiful storyline that enlightens along the way.
Warning to readers; This book can open your eyes to realities that demonstrate homeless people are just like us, except for one turn of fate.” – Andy L., Former ATV News Director, Dartmouth, N.S. Canada

 

The cover photo was given to me by the wonderful Moncton photographer, Serge Martin.

 



 

Below is an excerpt from my book:
(copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)
 

The only thing that keeps me alive is the hope of finding the woman and child in the photo. Night comes and I’m again not able to get a cot at the Salvation Army. They’re full. Back to the streets. Huddled around those I now call friends. It’s only 6 p.m. and I’m starved. One guy sees the look of hunger on my face and approaches me. 

“Hey, Tee.” I’m surprised he remembers my name since we’ve only talked once or twice.

“I know where we can get all the hot coffee we want and some damn good donuts, maybe even sandwiches.” 

“Lead the way, Chuck.” He’s likely full of it, but I’ll humour him. Either that or he’s planning on robbing the nearest Tim’s. But he’s serious. He tells me he goes to AA meetings about three times a week. 

“They’re a nice bunch there. Don’t judge me neither.” I look at him. I know he drinks whenever he can get his hands on stuff, but he’s also a good guy. Last week he brought a half dozen sandwiches wrapped in napkins for those of us gathered around the garbage can. Didn’t tell us where he got them. Some said they didn’t need anything, but he insisted. So what if he drank? I’d drink too if I were him. As a matter of fact, if I had any money, I’d drink every day, just to ease the pain in my back. 

I follow him.





Visit Louise on FaceBook


Thank you Louise for sharing an excerpt from your compelling story. Looking forward to your future work.






And thank you to you, the visitor. You are what the Scribbler is all about. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Music from “Down Under” with Special Guest Denis Belliveau



Denis Belliveau of Ocean Reef West Australia grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick. He is the founder of Supermoon Den.  He recently released his debut album and it's exceptional. He is kind enough to answer 4 questions for the 4Q Interview.

Supermoon Den is performing at Plan B on July 13th with special guest Luther Chase. (Read more below)
 



4Q: A terrific debut CD Denis. I understand this has been a dream of yours for some time. Did you write all the songs and compose the music? Tell us about this experience and your inspiration.

 
 
 
DB: Thanks Al I appreciate the kind words. It was always a dream of mine to write and record an album or a series of albums.  Most of my musical journey was spent in bands sharing music with others. It was great journey for me to dig deep to write the songs then record them. My inspiration was fueled by having some time to dedicate to this and a willing participant who was at the helm of the mixing desk.
 

4Q: Tell us about your fellow musicians and putting together this great compilation of songs.


DB: I am very fortunate to have a wonderful circle of very talented friends here in West Australia. I originally went in with the intention of recording 4 songs with me and my acoustic guitar and maybe some backing vocals. Jackie was the first to collaborate with her violin and back-up vocals, then I got Frank to come in and put some male back-up vocals and it was then I realized it needed more. Everyone that contributed on the album were all very both good friends and talented musicians who understood the songs and the value of their contribution. 
 

4Q: Share a childhood memory or anecdote.

DB: Many years ago when I was in Moncton working on my paper route, I clearly remember a day when I was doing my thing and day dreaming about leaving town and coming back to Moncton. I was quite young but somehow knew that I was destined to leave at a young age and peruse my dreams. Whenever I go back I take time to walk my paper route and reminisce. It is a grounding exercise that I find very fulfilling. 

 

4Q: Where did the name Supermoon Den come from? What’s in the future for Denis Belliveau, the musician?

DB: I was struggling with an artist name to be honest, very few people in Australian can pronounce my name yet spell it. So I wanted something that would stick, yet t also had to have meaning. During the recording of the album, we happened to have recorded under 2 super moons. One of those evenings had a significant impact on the way we recorded the guitars which had a huge influence on the sound of the album. I tried to register The Den but it was taken with the idea of calling the album The Supermoon Sessions, In the end I decided after much thought to call the project Supermoon Den.

The future is an interesting concept for me as an artist, I have written a few songs for the next album and hope to be recording by the end of the year.

 
 



Anyone can buy the album online via iTunes or via
www.cdbaby.com, or alternatively people can come to the Plan B on July the 13th and purchase a cd. Most people don’t buy cd’s anymore, most of music today it purchased online or downloaded illegally. I may leave a bunch of CD’s at Spin it when I am home.  
 
Here's some samples from the CD.



Thank you Denis for being our guest this week.  Good luck with your future endeavors.
 
Anyone interested in reading more about Luther Chase, please see a previous post on the Scribbler when he was a guest. Go here
 
 
A huge thank you to you - the visitor! Please tell us your thoughts in the comment box below.