We all mustered for the morning brief before heading out to the field. The Chief had told us it was a standard background check.
“You know what to look for,” he had said, “memberships in subversive organizations, criminal records, unanswered questions, general skeletons in the closet.”
I think I hit the mother lode!
“Simmons, can you call The Chief? I think he needs to see this.”
“Wave goodbye to Grandpa, honey,” his mother said.
Without smiling, William lifted his right hand and showed his palm to his grandfather as Mom pulled the car away from the old farmhouse. The old man smiled and waved back to him.
Mom piloted the Honda down the quarter mile gravel drive to the road, and stopped to open the gate. William stayed busy with his head down, staring at the bright screen on his hand held game system. His thumbs were moving furiously as he fired cannon shot after cannon shot; in an effort to prevent the alien hordes from invading the earth.
He heard Mom talking to someone as she opened the gate. He felt the car shift on its springs as she climbed back into the driver’s seat and pull forward. He heard the electric motor wind the window down as she began to move.
“See you next year, Dad,” she said.
William looked up and there was Grandpa; leaning on the gate, smiling and watching them pull onto the road. As the distance increased he got smaller and smaller. William watched as his grandpa pushed the gate shut and vanished into the shimmering heat waves rising up from the asphalt. He looked at his mom.
“How’d he do that?” William asked.
“How’d he do what?”
“How’d he get from the house to the gate so quick?”
“That wasn’t really so quick,” Mom said, “I’ve seen him move faster. He does it all the time. When I was in the third grade I broke my arm at school. The nurse called your grandpa and told him that there had been an accident. She asked him to come down to the school to pick me up; so that he could take me to the ER and have the bone set. They spoke together for a few seconds and then she set the phone back on the cradle. As she turned around again, he came striding through the door.
“You know, he thinks you might be able to do it too and he says that he’ll train you when you’re ready. That’s part of the reason we come to the farm every summer. He’s continuously evaluating your capabilities.”
William looked down at the small screen on his hand held game system.
‘GAME OVER’ flashed on and off on the screen. The aliens had landed.
“Cool,” he said, “really cool.”
A Wednesday morning response to a Monday Writing Prompt generously provided by The Secret Keeper.
Spencer was ignoring the voices coming from the kitchen. He was snooping around in the house. Killing time. Waiting for his mother to arrive. His Grandma lay in state in the parlor and the service would begin as soon as the rest of the guests arrived. It was to be an old style funeral.
He studied the books on the shelves. Muted colours, leather bound tomes, for the most part. Only a few were titled in English. Most were in the old language, the language that Grandma had commanded. He spoke no more than a few words of it himself. Mom was better at it but when Mom spoke it; it sounded stiff, stilted, halting, as she searched for words. When Grandma had spoken it, it flowed smoothly and softly from her lips. It sounded like music or poetry when she wielded it. It was beautiful.
When he had been a child he would crawl up on her lap and she would tell him stories or sing to him in the old language. It was soothing, even though he could not understand the words.
A flash of bright colour, seemingly out of place on these shelves, caught his eye and he reached for it.
It was a photo album that he couldn’t remember ever having seen before.
On the first page was a sepia photo of Grandma. A much younger Grandma, to be sure, but unmistakably her. In the photo she had probably been in her early twenties. She had styled her blonde hair in soft curls cut about shoulder length. She stood next to a rough wooden table; and wore flared riding breeches with a light coloured and loose fitted cotton blouse tucked in at the waist. A shiny brass collar button held the blouse together at the top. Grandma was pointing to the button and smiling, she was clearly proud and happy. There were three other young women in the photo, dressed in a similar style to Grandma. The table was littered with small glasses and whiskey bottles. Spencer recognized none of the other three young women. He only recognized Grandma.
Sewn with a purple silk thread to the page, below the photo, was an old brass button, tarnished and worn. It was impossible for him to be certain but it might have been the button in the photo. He would have to ask Mom about it when she arrived. He tucked the album under his arm and looked up at the paintings above the shelves.
I began writing at 0239 MST, I wrote and edited until 0309.
I don’t think I got a story but I hope that I captured a moment.
A couple of weeks ago I posted some photos of a turquoise door that I built for our house in Tucson, when we lived there. Those photos showed the door during the construction process. Again, I built this door and I was pretty proud of it.
Norm suggested that I should perhaps post a photo of the door hung. I searched through my archives and found this one. I have one other from the first house where the door was installed, but that photo is suffering from a severe focus deficiency, and I don’t feel that I should torture you with that.
I built the door and hung it in the house we were living in, because it needed a turquoise door. When we moved to the next house we took this door. I hung it next to the fireplace and it opened from the den out onto the covered patio and the back yard. This photo was taken after the floor was done, but before the introduction of much furniture.
It was starting to show a little wear and tear from the dogs. I left this door in that house when we moved away. I’d like to think it is still there, but who knows?
In August 2014 at a Book Bandit Meeting this story happened. It seemed pretty perfect for this TBP prompt so I’ve reworked it a bit and here it is again!
The prompts that day were:
- Release the balloons
- A pinch of cayenne
- Templeton and Sons
The sign on the door said ‘Templeton and Sons, Investigations’. When it was just Dad the sign read ‘Templeton Investigations’. Then when my brother John got his license Dad changed the sign to read ‘Templeton and Son, Investigations’. I had just gotten back from my stint in the Navy and Dad had just gotten a third sign that read ‘Templeton and Sons, Investigations’. My first case was a missing person.
It started on a warm summer morning. He came into the office and sat down at my dad’s desk. He told us his name was Jimmy and he had a spot of something on the end of his nose. As he sat, he pulled a tin of McCormick’s cayenne pepper out of the pocket of his jeans and tapped a pinch onto the back of his hand. When he leaned in and snorted it, like a hit of snuff, his eyes began to water; but whatever had been on his nose was gone.
“Mr. Templeton?” he asked from behind the tears. “I need to hire you to find a missing person.”
Dad looked at him with distaste. He had never seen anyone snort cayenne before. “The police do missing persons. You don’t need us.”
“The police are not interested in this case.” Jimmy said. “It’s been over a month and the leads are drying up.”
“OK, tell us a bit about it,” Dad said. “Who’s missing?”
“It’s my friend Anita,” Jimmy replied. “She’s just vanished. Rumors have been floating around that she broke her leg but no one’s been able to confirm it. We’re all worried.”
“Do you have a photograph of Anita?” Dad asked.
“No, I don’t,” Jimmy replied, “but I’m a pretty good artist and I can sketch a likeness if you have some paper.”
Dad reached in a drawer and got a sheet of copy paper that he handed over. Jimmy pulled a Sea Green Crayola Crayon from his shirt pocket. He put the paper on the edge of Dad’s desk and went to work. Tongue protruding ever so slightly from the corner of his mouth. Jimmy quickly produced a sketch of a stick figure; identifiable as a woman only because of the triangular skirt he had drawn. She had corkscrew hair and dots for eyes. She was smiling. He handed the crayon drawing to Dad and said, “This is what she looks like.”
“She should be easy to find,” Dad said, “seeing as she has no nose and is about as skinny as a pencil.”
It began years ago; in a grimy cell, behind a wall, in Eastern Europe.
I woke with a start and opened my eyes. She was there. She was not more than six inches away from me; a mere waif of a girl. It was clear that she wanted quiet. Her face was caked with dirt or makeup; I couldn’t tell which, but camouflage was the aim.
She pressed a cool damp cloth over my mouth and nose. It smelled sweet and she faded away.
“Is she the one who got me out?” I asked. “Who is she?”
My questions were dismissed by the others, “You needn’t worry about her. She’s one of ours.”
Now I see her most nights. As I hover at the edge of slumber.
She haunts my dreams.