OLWG# 223- A Lesser God

Written for OLWG# 223

Not far outside Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the town of French Village, on Chebucto Peninsula lived an old man. He lived in a shack that hid in the wooded area near the end of Evelyns Lane, which lay south of Peggys Cove. Everyone knew the man as Tom. No one knew his age or last name, and it seemed that he had just always lived there.

Last year, in the grip of the pandemic, the Halifax Herald sent a reporter to interview Old Tom On the 10th of February. About a week before the third Monday, which is Nova Scotia Heritage Day. In 2020 Heritage Day was the 17th. Someone at the Herald had heard that Old Tom was the oldest living resident of the Province. The reporter that they sent was a young, ambitious journalist named Hanah Cote. Ms Cote was a rising star at the paper, an aspiring writer and photographer.

When Hanah found Old Toms house hidden in the trees, it was almost dusk. She rapped on the front door, where the blue paint was chipping, and waited. The porch light came on, and she could make out a stooped old man through the wavy glass in the window. When the door opened, he peered at her with squinted eyes. She saw a mat of grey hair beneath a blue toque. His face looked like it belonged on a fisherman, creased and weathered. He wore a knit sweater with a high neck, dungarees, and fur-lined slippers.

“Yep?” he queried.

“Are you Old Tom?” she asked, and without waiting for a reply, she went on, “My name is Hanah Cote. I work for the Herald in Halifax. We heard that you are the oldest living resident of Nova Scotia. We are hoping to do a feature story on you for Heritage Day.” She gave him her hundred-watt smile and waited.

They stared at each other for almost an eternity until Tom finally pulled the door wider and gestured her inside. “Really?” he questioned, “On me? Well, come on in. Get out of the cold.” Hanah stepped inside. The house was warm and decorated with a nautical theme. Paintings of ships and boats covered the walls. Old floats and traps, now converted into coffee tables and lamps. Crossed oars hung over the fireplace. “Can I get you a coffee?” he asked. Then he winked, “mebbe something a little stronger?”

“Coffee would be nice,” Hanah said.

Tom gestured for her to follow. He turned and headed towards the back of the house, to the kitchen. Dishes overflowed the sink. An old gas stove had a kettle warming on the back burner. Tom turned up the flame and pulled a stack of books and papers from one of the two chrome chairs at a table against the wall. He set the pile of debris so that it blocked the back door.

“Forgive my housekeeping. I live alone. I seldom get visitors, and I kinda know where everything is,” he said.

Hanah nodded her head and sat in the now empty chair, “I don’t even know your last name,” she said. “When we decided to find the oldest resident of Nova Scotia, everyone told us, ‘that’s gotta be Old Tom in French Village,’ so here I am.” She pulled a small notebook from her handbag and looked at him expectantly.

He poured a measure of Folgers crystals into a cup and then poured hot water over them. “Sugar?” he asked.

“I beg your pardon?”


“Oh, yes, please. About half a spoon.”

Old Tom looked around on the countertop and finally spotted a teaspoon. He pounced on it and wiped it clean with the ball of his thumb. Then picked up a sugar bowl that looked a bit dusty and set it along with the teaspoon on the table. He placed the cup next to the recently cleaned spoon. Then he sat across from her, waiting and watching as she put two heaping spoons of sugar into her instant coffee.

“Well, Tom, back to the interview. What is your last name, anyway?” All business.

“Mine?” he pointed to his chest. She nodded affirmatively, “My last name is Feinberg. I’m Thomas William Feinberg. When are you going to print this story?” He stood, turned and reached into a high cupboard to remove a pint bottle of whisky.

“Heritage Day,” she answered and pushed her coffee cup towards him.

Old Tom Feinberg screwed the top off the bottle and tipped a bit of brown liquor into Hanah’s cup.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. outside Halifax
  2. no god worth worrying about
  3. selling truth


“Come to order, or I will have the council chambers cleared immediately.” The crowd settled down slowly, and when they were quiet and had returned to their seats, he continued. “To reiterate, the curator of the Museum of Modern Art is proposing…” he glanced at his notes, “a public art project on Filbert Street. There is a motion to suspend no less than 137 pianos from ropes at varying heights above the street. The pianos will hang, at random, but close, intervals between Van Ness and The Filbert Street Steps.”

There was a round of applause and cheering from the standing room only crowd.

Mayor Jenkins pounded his gavel again, and they quieted.

He continued blathering, “This administration contends that public art projects of this ilk have become a cancer on this city. Further, a stop must be put to them before members of the public become injured by falling pianos or other such nonsense, reminiscent of a Road Runner cartoon.”

Boos and catcalls resounded from the gallery. The Arts Council seemed to be well supported here.

“Procedure dictates,” the mayor announced, over the disagreement of the audience, “that both arguments; will be heard at this meeting. You are aware that the official opinion of the administration is nothing but disdain for such a stupid and irresponsible proposal. I now have to allow time for the opposing position before I rule in favour of the city. So, Mr Curator, please approach the podium; state your name, your title, and your position on this idiotic proposal.”

A lithe young lady stood in the back of the room and began moving towards the aisle. She wore her red hair in a shingle cut and sported a flattering summer outfit that consisted of a bright green (not quite chartreuse) tight scoop neck top and purple shorts. She looked young, too young to be a museum curator. The mayor studied her as she moved gracefully down the aisle. His mouth hung open, and a tiny drop of saliva clung tenaciously at the corner where his lips met. Councilwoman Malarky reached up and pushed the mayor’s chin upwards, closing it.

At the podium, the young lady set a single sheet of paper on the surface in front of her and cleared her throat.

“Thanks, Mayor Jenkins, for giving me my say. I would like to go on record and state that it is Ms Curator, not Mr Curator. My name is Lucky Lou and I am the Curator of Exhibits at our MOMA. I have had the pleasure of serving in this position for the last ten years and hold a Doctorate in Fine Arts from City University. I understand that City U is your Alma mater as well, is it not Mayor?”

The mayor swallowed and nodded his head. He seemed smitten by this lovely lady. Lucky could see it, and so could the rest of the room. The mayor was hopelessly in love. Lucky decided to use this opportunity to her advantage. She skipped to the end of her speech.

“And, in conclusion, Mr Mayor that is why the city should approve the permits for this project.” She flashed her most enchanting smile. And the room erupted into thunderous applause.

The mayor blinked his eyes twice and shook his head as he awoke from his trance.

“I must say, Ms Lou,” he said as his eyes moved around the room, noting the support that this vision of loveliness had garnered, “You’ve convinced me. I apologize for my earlier, somewhat negative opinions of your proposal. I’ll push the paperwork through as my first order of business in the morning.”

Lucky stood tall and proud, holding her shoulders back. She said, “Thank you, Mayor,” and turned back towards her seat.

“Ms Lou?” The mayor stopped her in her tracks. “Would you like to go out to dinner with me?”

She shook her head.

“Maybe, coffee?”

Again she signalled in the negative.

Maybe we could share a Popsicle after the meeting adjourns.”

She smiled again, turned to face him, and this time she nodded her head.

He pounded his gavel on the podium again and announced, “Meeting adjourned.”

One Word Sunday wanted an Opposing post. I dug this up from six or seven years ago, dusted it off, shined it up just a little bit and figured I could share it. Did you find the opposition?

OLWG# 222- Late Night at the Tumbleweed

Written for OLWG# 222

After stepping into the Arkansas Tumbleweed Lounge, Ben Jones slumped against the wall by the front door and surveyed the room. An old guy leaned on his elbows at the end of the bar with a frown on his face. He was talking to a young woman huddled over an overflowing ashtray. She, in turn, was doing her best to ignore him. The old guy looked as if he hadn’t had a good day. He had a shot glass upended on the bar in front of him, and he was nursing the bottom half of a glass of beer.

A middle-aged woman who looked like a librarian hovered at the other end of the bar. She dressed conservatively and tastefully but she was drunk. Waving her hands and shouting at Dominic, who was working tonight. Dominic looked as though he would rather be anywhere else in the world. Anywhere other than behind the bar listening to this manic librarian. Ben was glad he couldn’t hear whatever she was ranting about.

Against the far wall in the last deep booth sat a couple; sitting on the same bench seat, on the same side of the table; their hands intertwined between them, and their foreheads touched. The next booth held a foursome of polyester-clad sales guys, seemingly in town for the night. They were dishing up a lot of verbal insubordination to the piano player. Merv was the entertainment tonight. Merv was a crooner wearing a sequined blazer, the colour of Kambaba Jasper.

Ben decided this might be a good night for country-western music. It was not a night for crooners. He slipped back out the door to the street. Two blocks down, he would find Chubby’s diner. Where he knew that he could get a Salisbury steak and a strong cuppa Joe. They had Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline on the jukebox there. If he had luck on his side, Lanna would be working.

He didn’t think he could listen to Merv tonight.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. ungrateful
  2. another Mr Jones
  3. the colour of Kambaba Jasper

OLWG# 221- Lia Vitto of Polignano a Mare

Written for OLWG# 221

Lia Vitto lived in the ancient town of Polignano a Mare located at the top of the boot heel on the Adriatic Sea. Her husband, Enrico – gone now for over thirty years – had been respected and wealthy, a politician and landowner. Money doesn’t last forever, though, and Lia was beginning to run short. The kids were all gone now too. Cesare, dead in 1983, part of the multinational forces in Lebanon. Carolina passed in childbirth, her granddaughter lost at the same time. And, Luca, her baby boy Luca, killed for no reason by robbers in Roma when he was no more than 23 years old.

Lia felt tired. She was old. Her family was gone, she could not understand why she had to outlive her children. It was time to make her famous Berry and mascarpone dessert. The day she selected was fine. The mid-spring temperature was perfect. She went hunting for the fresh berries that she wanted to use. She wanted the black, sweet berries of the Belladonna that grew in the hills above town. Never having used these particular berries before, she was unsure how many she would need. She ended up collecting about 300 grams worth.

Back home, she cooked the berries for about ten minutes with sugar, a splash of water, and a squeeze of limone. Sbattili insieme. She mixed powdered sugar and vanilla with the mascarpone. Lia laboured to whip about 150ml of cream and folded it into the cheese she had already prepared.

Dipping finger biscuits into the berry sauce, she lined about ten of them up on a serving dish. Then spread the mascarpone in a thin layer before sprinkling more berries on top. Three layers of biscuits, cheese, and berries finished off the ingredients. There was only a bit of sauce remaining. She poured it over the top and placed the entire dish into the fridge to chill.

Lia pulled leftovers from the night before out of her small fridge. White beans that she’d simmered with garlic, peppercorns, and sage. She tossed the beans with tuna and splashed them with a bit of olive oil. A glass of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi topped off the meal. She found herself craving the berries and mascarpone but ate only about a quarter of what she had prepared before sitting in front of the window to relax.

It seemed almost no time when she wished she had another glass of wine, but she couldn’t be bothered. She preferred to sit. Her vision was becoming blurry, the world beyond her window glass reduced to a haze. There was a noise behind the front door. It took a while for her to turn her head, but when she looked around, she saw her baby. Her Luca was standing just inside the door. His arms spread wide.
“Mamma,” he said, “Mamma, vieni qui, mia cara, mamma.”

This week’s prompts were:

  1. sacred or grotesque
  2. smoky girl
  3. poor man’s poison

Make Your Depth 400 Feet (reworked)

Standing watch in the Engine Room
Making turns Ahead – about one rev per day
been making this speed since we got underway
without warning, the OD rings a flank bell three times from the bridge …
cavitate was the call
acknowledge and begin to adjust speed
I shift my legs to ride the depth change
and the hard right rudder I feel coming on
We’re hightailing it now, gotta get gone

One Word Sunday… Bridge

Daddy’s Girl

Roberta lay awake in her room listening to the sounds of the TV, downstairs where her parents watched late-night talk shows. At 11:00, she heard Johnny and Ed saying good night. Then her parents turned off the television. Her dad checked the locks on the doors as her mother trudged to the master bedroom that overlooked the back garden at the rear of the second floor. She feigned sleep when her mom looked in on her and listened through the thin walls. Mom went into the bathroom, peed, flushed the toilet and washed her hands. It wasn’t long after that when she heard her father flick off the porch light and spring up the stairs to repeat the same bathroom routine as his wife.

She listened to her parents argue for a while, but neither of them must have been invested in the fight, it drifted off pretty fast. Roberta listened with her eyes open as the night settled on the house like a stone . Now was where her plan got tricky. There was no room for mistakes. After an interminable amount of time, she crawled from the bed and slowly opened the door to the hallway. Staying close to the wall, she crept to her parents’ door and put her ear against it. There was no light coming from beneath the door, a good sign. She could hear her mother snoring faintly. There was no noise from her father. It was now or never.

Back in her bedroom, Roberta pulled on her jeans and an old peasant blouse that had belonged to her mother. She put on her black wool pea coat and pulled a ball cap low over her eyes. She rummaged under the bed and pulled out her old backpack. It was a pink one with a Nike swoosh. She stuck her hand inside and made sure it was empty. Then she crept all the way downstairs to her father’s workbench in the basement. The work light came on when she turned the switch. In its glow, she knelt to operate the Master Lock on the old grey school locker where dad kept his girlie magazines. She pulled out the stack of dog-eared pornography and set it on the concrete floor. Reaching deep into the locker, she felt what she was looking for. So she began pulling out the pipe bombs that her father had been assembling for the last few weeks. She placed them in her pink backpack. There were fifteen of them. Each was about six inches long and heavier than she had expected.

Another look in the locker revealed a thick envelope stuffed full of hundred-dollar bills. There was also a plastic sandwich bag, filled with marijuana. There were three or four already rolled joints in the bag and a pack of rolling papers. Roberta had seen people roll cigarettes before. Her grandma did it all the time, but Roberta had never done it herself. Oh well, she could learn. She stuffed the cash and the dope into the pockets of her coat, climbed back up the stairs and out the front door, into the night.

It was a four-mile walk to the Starbucks on Central, but Roberta was in a hurry and made it in about forty-five minutes. It wasn’t crowded. She put her backpack on a chair near the front door and meandered over to the counter to order coffee in a paper cup. Keeping the bill of her cap low and looking down as much as possible, Roberta ordered a single espresso and avoided small talk with the barista.

The espresso was delicious, and she gulped about half of it down before standing and leaving through the front door. She didn’t think anyone had seen her go. Moving fast but careful not to draw attention to herself, she hurried away from the coffee shop. It was another three miles to the Greyhound terminal. Chubby’s all-night diner was about half the way there. There was still a phone booth outside Chubby’s, where she called the cops to report a bomb in the Starbucks.

There was a bus getting ready to leave for Eugene when Roberta breezed through the doors of the station. She bought a ticket from the old man at the counter. He wore plastic-framed glasses low on his nose, a green visor on his head and had a non-filter cigarette tucked behind his ear. He barely looked up at her. She showed her ticket to the driver, who punched a hole in it before making her way to the back of the bus. She slumped low and made herself small in a window seat. She got off the bus in Roseburg where she pulled her hair back into a high, tight ponytail and bought another ticket, heading back south.

It took almost a full day to get to Los Angeles from Roseburg.

OLWG# 220- Candela Sanchez- GSA

Written for OLWG# 220

No thin mints to sell this year
takes it on herself to,
make her own cookies,
decorate brown lunch bags,
w/Crayola Crayons and Sharpies.
Fill them up with cookies,
staple them shut,
sell them to the neighbours and,
in front of Tilled Earth Market.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. Girl Scout Cookies
  2. muliebral
  3. spoiling for a fight

Dancing Key

Written for Write the Story

Harry Harris had moored Niña, his Rhodes 22, at Swamp-Donkey Marina on the windward shore of Dancing Key in December of 1999. He hadn’t moved it again since. In those days, he had worried about all that Y2K shit, but his anxiety had been for nought – nothing had ever come of it. Dancing Key was a fine place to live and less expensive than Key West. His friend, Osvaldo, had a crab shack outside the marina gates. And the beautiful and most interesting Señorita Merisol Ibarra ran a watering hole called The Angels Trumpet right next door to that. At La Trompeta, the rum flowed freely, and the girls were friendly. Why would Harry want to go anywhere else? He’d finally found his home.

It was just before dawn in late September when Harry and Merisol again found themselves together on deck. They were enjoying the intimate afterglow that usually accompanied their rendezvous. Harry was occupied, pondering the funny way of pluralizing rendezvous when Merisol leaned into him with her unlit cigarette. Coquettishly she intimated the need for a light. He loved when she smiled, so he watched her face as he groped blindly for the lighter.

With her cigarette lit, she reached down and rubbed his leg, “¿Harry, podrías hacerme un Cuba Libre?”

He nodded, rose, and padded below decks, naked except for his old Marlins cap, pulled low over his eyes. When he came back topside, he carried two glasses coated with condensation and filled with light rum, Coke, and lime. When he stepped back on deck, he saw the excitement on her face. She was almost bouncing on the gunwale, waving her hand to the southeast.

“Look, Harry, look!” she almost shouted, “Un tormenta. A storm, a storm is coming! I adore storms, don’t you?”

Harry did like storms. Not quite as much as Marisol liked them, but he was glad that she liked them. Harry was up for it and walked past Marisol to sit on the transom, plonking his size 11’s on the lazarette hatch. He held her glass out, and she scooted closer to take it, her feet up on the bench seat.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

They sat watching the storm approach. Lightning silhouetted the clouds, the pilings, and Low Anchor Key that lay to the east. As the storm drew close, Harry paid more attention to Marisol than he did to the impending storm. He watched as the raindrops began to fall on her skin and pool in the hollow of her neck above her clavicle, watched as her dark hair grew heavy with raindrops and hung lower, softer, watched as she sipped her drink and as her eyes grew wider as she bit on her lower lip. Harry jumped with her when the lightning flashed, and she started when the thunder clapped overhead. He grew aroused as she moved closer, fitting her body to his.

He wanted the storm to last all night. He wanted Marisol to say aboard Niña all night, something she had never done before. For reasons unexplained, she would always leave before dawn. Marisol was constantly returning home to her ramshackle cottage back behind the bar.

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