TBP Redux 3- Ulf

TBP


Jessica had only planned to write a short story that night, so when she got the text from “Sitters-dot-Com” offering her a job with the Yates family at the big old house across from the cemetery (the actual address was #13 Cemetery Creek Road). She took it.

The dispatcher told her that there was only one pre-schooler that he was potty trained, that he had an eight o’clock bedtime, and that the parents should be home before midnight. It sounded like an easy gig and Jess could use the money. She could take her laptop along and finish the story she needed to write for her favourite prompt site before the parents came home.

Jess’ mom dropped her off at 6 pm sharp, “Sorry Jess, I’ve gotta run. You have your cell, right? Call me if you need a ride home.”

“Thanks, Mom.” Jessica looked across the street at the old graveyard. She thought about how it looked kinda spooky in the dark, tilting headstones, gaps in the old wrought iron fence (the fence that was almost overgrown by ivy). She heard the hoot of an owl, shuddered and turned her attention to the house.

The architecture was Queen Anne style with asymmetrical towers and fancy ornamentation. The paint was peeling on the wooden siding and a lot of English Ivy grew up the trellises and onto the roof. The name on the mailbox was Yates.

Oh, Jessica thought. The house is even more spooky than the cemetery! She began picking her way up the crooked walk to the front porch, where she knocked on the door and held her breath. She heard barking and growling from the other side of the door. It was obvious that the Yates’ had a dog.

Soon, she also heard a woman’s voice, “Ulf, get down. Go back into the kitchen. That’s a good boy, Ulf. Good boy.” The door swung open and there stood a petite lady. She looked about thirty years old. She had blonde wavy hair, cut short, but not quite a bob. The lady smiled at Jess with her mouth, but not her eyes. She displayed bright red lipstick painted on to make her face look as though her lips were forever pursed or puckered.

“Oh hello, you must be Jessica,” the woman said. “You have an excellent review on Sitters-dot-com and I’m so excited to meet you and introduce you to Rollin.” Then almost as an afterthought, she added, “Rollin is our son. He’s four years old and he’s having dinner in front of the television right now. Follow me, please and I can get you two acquainted. He’s a wonderful boy.” She turned and began to lead Jessica deeper into the house.

The house was larger than Jessica could have imagined and the two walked for what seemed like a long time. Finally, Ms Yates stopped at a door roughly midway down a long corridor. The walls were lined with identical doors and lots of paintings. They were primarily portraits of old-timey people. There were paintings of men with funny whiskers and ladies wearing elegant printed, or embroidered, gowns. There were young boys dressed in shorts with starched white shirts tucked in at the waist. There were young girls in frilly pink and white dresses with scores of petticoats evident beneath.

Ms Yates turned the knob on the door and pushed it open partway, she peeked around the edge of the door. “Rollin?” she queried, “are you in here?” Jess could hear the muted sound of the TV from behind the open door. Ms Yates pushed the door open further and beckoned Jessica to follow.

“Rollin?” she said to the small boy sitting on the floor with a plate in front of him. “This is Jessica. She’s going to be your babysitter tonight. You remember that your father and I must attend that horrible silent auction for whatever charity it is that he’s supporting this month.” She paused for a moment, “Say hello to Miss Jessica.”

“Hello, Miss Jessica,” Rollin turned his head before immediately refocusing his attention back to the television and his dinner. Jess could make out a heap of mac and cheese along with some sort of red meat on his plate. The meat was almost gone.

Ms Yates was glowing when she turned her attention back to Jess. It looks like he’s almost done,” she said, “When he finishes he might like to play Chinese Checkers or Go Fish. Those are his two favourite games. The Checkerboard and the cards are in that cabinet, there.” She gestured across the room at an ornate Chinese pantry. Then she moved over to a table, that looked more like a plant stand, by the door. Reaching down, she removed a small piece of paper from a silver tray situated precisely in the centre of the table. She proffered the card to Jessica. Who, of course, reached out and took it.

“Here is one of my cards,” she explained, “my mobile number is there. Please call me if you have any questions or problems. I have attached emergency numbers to the refrigerator with a blue glass magnet. To find the kitchen, go back the way we came and turn left. Please help yourself to anything in the icebox that you might want to eat or drink. I’ve got to go now or I’ll be late.” She stared at Jessica as if she were waiting for something.

Jess broke the standoff by saying, “Have a wonderful evening Ms Yates. I’ll take good care of Rollin.”

“I’m sure you will, dear,” Ms Yates said. She turned and left the room without another word.

Jessica listened to her move down the corridor and out a door. She heard a car engine start and move away from the house.

In her turn, Jess went over and sat on the floor next to Rollin. “How’s your dinner Rollin? It looks pretty yummy. I love mac and cheese.”

He looked at her and then turned back to the TV. “Good.” He said.

The boy seemed to be eating well and was fully absorbed in whatever it was that he was watching on the small screen. Jessica settled in, but after a while, she heard someone moving back in the house.

“Is anyone else here, Rollin?” she asked.

“My brother might be here.” He answered. “He’s big, like you.”

At that moment the door opened and an older boy, sixteen or seventeen years of age, entered the room. He wore an old fashioned suit made of dark velvet. He wore his dark hair stylishly long. It glistened as though it were wet. He seemed startled when he saw Jessica sitting next to Rollin.

“Hello,” he said, “I thought only Rollin was in here. Who might you be?” He smiled, and Jessica could feel her heart melt. She now knew what people meant when they said love at first sight.

Standing up, Jess walked toward the young man with her hand held out. “Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m here babysitting for Rollin. I’m afraid that Ms Yates has left for the evening.”

“Good evening Jess. I’m Rollin’s brother Ulf.”



The prompt this week was:

The “Four Food Groups” of a sentence game is fun! How to play: Create your own prompt by mixing/matching one phrase from each column. Example: On a ski trip, a deceitful novelist accidentally reveals a secret.

I chose:
In a moonlit graveyard, a shy babysitter falls in love with the wrong person.


Build an Ark

Several years ago an artist friend did a painting of a rooster that I really liked. She titled it “Cockamamie”.

She knew that I was a woodworker and she had just taken a commission to paint a birdhouse that looked like an ark. Soooo…. she suggested that it might be a good idea to trade the Cockamamie painting for a plain, wooden birdhouse that looked like an ark and that she could paint for her commission.

Of course I agreed.

Here are photos of both the ark and the painting.

Maybe a photo of an ark might help housing the photos of the pairs that Tish Farrell, writer and artist on the edge, is currently featuring?

Stockpiling Against the Pandemic

Written for Chelsea’s Terrible Poetry Contest



They panicked the public with talk of the virus
The butcher was worried – his name was Cyrus
One night, when the store closed
He took all the bog rolls
Went home and confessed to a scroll of papyrus. A scroll of papyrus that he used as his journal and sometimes hid in the linen closet – on the top shelf under a bunch of pillow cases, unless he was keeping it under the bed, or in the garage; but then the police found it and he was arrested, went to court and got sent to jail… not for very long though (it was only toilet paper, after all)

A Bit ‘o Friction ‘tween Old Jenny and Mulvaney

Today I received an invitation I had not been expecting. Below is my acceptance of same. Thank you, Tish. This was fun.



Nobody believed that Old Jenny was dead. They believed that she wanted them to believe she was dead. One thing that Mr Mulvaney knew, for certain, was that Jenny was a gardener. She needed dirt beneath her fingernails to feel alive. She needed to feel the soil slip between her fingers in order to feel whole, to feel complete.

Once he learned she had left her watering can behind, Mulvaney put a watch on her allotment. After all, that can had belonged to her Ma, and to her Ma’s Ma ‘afore that. Jenny wouldn’t leave the watering can. Not for long. It was too dear.

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It had been several years since Jenny had slipped under the radar. I was one of three sentries Mulvaney had detailed to keep an eye on the allotment, an eye on the can. He was certain that she would come back for it. We were under strict instruction, that when we saw her, it was always “when” never “if”, we were to follow her, but not confront her. Once we knew where she was hiding we were to contact him, and only him. We were to let him know where she was. Then the guard would take over and we would move on to our next assignment. I hoped we never saw her.

I’d become quite fond of this part of the world. This Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, peaceful, picturesque filled with the kind of people my Ma had been. In this town there was all the things you would expect from a Medieval village. There was holy wells, cobbled streets, stocks and whipping posts. There was even a museum filled with all sorts of Olympian artifacts. I would love to stay here forever, but I knew I wouldn’t never fit in. I’m the proverbial square peg and Wenlock is the archetypal round hole.

Last week I was keeping an eye on the allotment but not paying too much attention. A job like this can lull you into a sense of complacency. All of a sudden I realized that a woman was lingering about the watering can. Her back was to me so I couldn’t tell who it was, exactly. I thought she might be a bit tall for Old Jenny and she moved like a younger girl, but I paid attention. If that can were to disappear on my watch; Mulvaney would have my hide for sure.

It turned out to be a false alarm, though. ‘Twas only Ms Farrell. She’d come out with her camera to take photos of the can.

I noted the date and time in my log so I could report the activity to Mulvaney. He’d want to know. He might even send someone by the Farrell’s to find out what had sparked the sudden interest in the old can. See if maybe Jenny had contacted them. I see Ms Farrell out with her Camera a lot. She just likes to take photos. She’s an artist and a writer too but I still needed to report the activity. Mulvaney could decide for himself if it meant anything. That’s not my job. Well above my pay-grade. I just watch for Old Jenny. That’s what I do.


Tish Farrell is a writer on the edge. She’s living her life to it’s fullest. I’ve followed her blog for years. I recommend it, highly recommend it. Stop by and graze on her words and photos. You won’t regret the time spent.

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Heat Nor Gloom Of Night

Written for this challenge – Gracias Sr. Mosey



It was midafternoon on a hot day in July. Cooper and Max were hanging out together, waiting for the Postman and wishing they had something cool to drink.

Max scratched the hair on his chin and then turned his attention on Cooper, “So, whatcha think, Coop? You in?”

“I dunno, Max; it kinda goes against everything I was raised to believe. I’m just not sure I can do it.”

“Jeeze, Cooper.” Max snarled, “He’s a Postman. He expects this stuff. This is the kind of shit we were born for. If you don’t do this, I will. Look here he comes now,” the postman rounded the corner a couple of doors down, “and he’s walking. Perfect.”

“Max, you might be bred for this…”

“What’re you saying, Coop? You better consider the consequences if you’re gonna trash talk me.”

No, Max. I don’t mean any disrespect, but man – let’s face it. You’re half Doberman and half Pit Bull. Me? I’m a Sheep Dog.”

“I’m ¾ Pit Bull, and let’s face it. That’s the beauty of this plan. He’s not expecting you to bite him. He’s expecting me to do that. Put your game face on. Growl, bark, and charge him. When you get there take a big chunk outa his leg. You can do this.”

Cooper nodded his head and raised the hackles on his back. The growl started deep in his belly and he began moving toward the hapless Mailman. He picked up speed as he moved forward. He barked. He barked again. When he was close enough, Cooper leapt and hit; knocking his target to the ground. The mailman was now on his butt, scooting backwards and away from his attacker as quickly as he could. When he fell further and was flat on his back Cooper stood on his chest. The letter carrier closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable. Cooper wagged his tail.

“Hi,” he said, “I’m Cooper, I’m a dog. Do you have any dog treats in that big bag?”

“Damn it, Cooper,” shouted Max from the driveway. “That was disgusting. You make me ashamed to be a dog.” He turned and hightailed it away from the scene of the crime.”


  1. Did David definitely dance down Devon, dear?
  2. If you don’t do this, I will…

Hands

I found an intriguing prompt at writersdigest.com and I had some time so I decided to practice.



Chyna reached across the table and took his right hand in hers; in the dim light, she studied his knotted and lumpy knuckles as she massaged the back of his hand. He was old; his skin was thin, and mottled. He seemed relaxed and passive; accepting of her actions.

“Your hands are strong,” she told him.

“Used to be,” he replied, “not so much anymore.” He studied the differences. Her hands were young; his, old. His skin was parchment-like, fragile, and freckled with age spots; hers was clear and youthful.

Finally, she turned his hand over and ran the tip of her index finger around his palm.  She followed his life line first before shifting her attention to his unhealthy line. She clucked her tongue softly and moved her gaze to his eyes.

“What?” he questioned.

She took a deep breath, “I have concerns for your general well being; your health.”

“Why?”

“This line,” she pointed it out, “we call this ‘the unhealthy line.’ On you, this line is broken, composed of many parts. Rather than sweeping down with a single stroke, it is terraced as it works downward. This indicates ill health.” She shifted the location of her index finger, “But look at this,” she said, “look at your life line,”