Tag Archives: plot

1893. Daily shower

Judy rather proudly proclaimed in her stringent voice (it was actually a private conversation but she spoke loud enough for everyone to hear because she was so pleased with herself) that her golden retriever puppy had learnt to open the bathroom door and then open the shower door and get into the shower.

“Right when I’m having a shower,” she said. “Right when I’ve shampooed my hair and have my eyes shut. The first time I got a huge fright, but I’m used to it now. Such a clever puppy! Intelligent! He loves playing in water. And then by the time I’ve rinsed the shampoo out of my hair and opened my eyes, the puppy’s gone. But he always turns the light on. Isn’t that clever?”

“I thought you were going to say it was the fancy man that visits your house every day around that time,” said Ivan.

“What fancy man?”

Of course, Ivan was making it up, but he hated show-offs.

1876. Cosmos seed heads

You see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. My wife planted them back in late autumn. She didn’t exactly plant them; she scattered the seed heads in a bare patch in the vegetable garden. They grew apace. Cosmos usually do. And when they began to flower they were all white. No pinks or any other shade. Just lovely white.

Wilmott had collected the seed heads when we went for a walk in the botanical gardens. That would almost be a year ago now. Usually the staff at the botanical gardens don’t leave plants in for long enough to develop into the seed stage. Perhaps they left these plants because they wanted to save the seeds. Anyway, Wilmott took just half a dozen heads. The gardeners wouldn’t know they were missing because there were hundreds of seed heads in the garden plot. That’s why we didn’t realize that the flowers would be all white. We never saw the cosmos in flower earlier on.

It’s quite illegal to take seeds or cuttings (or plants for that matter) from the botanical gardens. Imagine if everyone came along with their secateurs. The place would be denuded. I don’t know what would happen if we had been caught. Wilmott simply snapped the heads off with her fingers and quietly dropped them into the pocket of her cardigan. “We’ll find out what colour these are in the late spring,” she said.

When we got home (we usually went for a longish walk each day) Wilmott scattered the seeds in the garden, as I said earlier. She did that even before we went inside. And when we went inside she died. Suddenly. It was heart.

So you see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. I could save the seed heads and begin the cycle again. Earlier I had decided I would do that, but now I think, goodness me, I can’t not move on forever.

1874. Outside a thrush was singing

Iseult was a novelist. She wrote horror, fantasy and science fiction.

It was raining outside. It was one of those sun-shower days that make you understand why Ireland is called “The Emerald Isle”. The green was translucent.

Iseult gazed out the window. She had been stuck on a sentence for two days now. “Herman raised the axe”. Iseult knew she couldn’t kill off Aoibhinn, the heroine, so early in the novel. It was after all only page 19.

“Herman raised the axe.” What comes next? How could Aoibhinn escape this inevitable fate? Does she bend down to pat the dog and thus escape the plunging axe head? No! No! It’s all too predictable. Simply bending to pat a dog and escaping murder is so gauche. Maybe Iseult had made a mistake modelling Herman on the guy who comes to mow her lawns – he was too much an unexciting character. His personality didn’t advance the plot.

Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain. Now there’s a sentence, thought Iseult. “Herman raised the axe. Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain.”

Iseult typed the new sentence. At least she was one sentence further on. It’s fun, she thought, that what I type is actually happening! Outside the window a thrush was singing…

Herman raised the axe. Outside the window a thrush was singing its heart out in the rain. Iseult bent down to pat the dog.

(The real Iseult blogs HERE. There she reviews many a book. Her own novel – “7 Days in Hell” – is available on Amazon. Sometime ago, in the comments on my blog, Iseult expressed a mild desire to be a “victim” in one of my stories! Hence today’s gentle, though callous, plot.)

1866. The final meal

Troy Meadowcroft had waited on death row for what seemed like an eternity. He was due to be put down (in a merciful and humane way) any day now. The newspapers were full of it. The guests to witness his electrocution had been invited and were currently selecting what to wear before heading in that direction, looking at last to be able to avenge their loved ones murder.

One of the more interesting features reported on was the prisoner’s final meal. One could order (within reason) what one wished. Troy had never liked complicated food. He requested simply pork sausages and French fries with splashes of malt vinegar and salt.

Letter One: I was amazed at the reported menu of Troy Meadowcroft prior to his execution. You would think humanity would have dragged itself out of the swamp by now. Pork sausages and French fries! How irresponsible is that for the prison to allow (in fact espouse) such unhealthy food? Are there no principles left when the prison authorities care not a hoot about prisoners’ health? And all that salt! Goodness me!

Letter Two: My religion forbids the imbibing of hog meat. I was horrified at the casual attitude taken by giving the prisoner pork sausages, as if such things didn’t matter. It was nothing short of scandalous. It was an affront to all sincere believers. And to feed a prisoner pig meat when so close to death is an instant invitation to the fires of Hell. I was deeply offended.

Letter Three: I couldn’t help but think that the man called Troy Meadowcroft who was put down recently had a touch of class. No one these days thinks of putting malt vinegar on their pork sausages. It is delicious, and something we used to do frequently when we were younger. Three cheers to the prisoner, and I would wish him a long and fruitful existence of enjoying life’s simple things if that was still possible.

Letter Four: Quite frankly I hope the prisoner choked on his pork sausage. The combination of foods looked disgusting – especially the salt and malt vinegar. I’m normally against the death penalty but in this case I’ll make an exception. The world is certainly better off without him and probably safer. People these days, especially those with money, have no sense of taste. Like my auntie.

Letter Five: What a waste of good food. People don’t seem to realize that people are starving and all we hear about is how a prisoner about to expire anyway is fed pork sausages and French fries. If only they had electrocuted the man a few minutes earlier, and then all that lovely food could have been shared by people in need. Waste not, want not.

Letter Six: Electrocution and lethal injection for condemned prisoners is nothing short of the authorities taking the easy way out. In the old days when we lined people up against a wall to get shot I would imagine you could see the terror in their eyes. They were paying properly for their crime. Regarding the final meal; wouldn’t it have been funny if instead of pork sausages they had stuffed cotton wool inside the sausage skins? Then the man would start to hoe into his final meal and it would all be fake. And use garden fertilizer instead of salt. And French fries made out of chicken poo or something hilarious like that. Stuff like that. You know.

Editor: This correspondence is now closed.

1865. Early shopping

(Dear Faithful and truly-tried Readers – sometimes it’s rainy and dull outside (it is winter here) and blogging takes on the flavour of the weather. So since I’m twiddling my thumbs I thought I’d go silly for a time – which is why my nomenclature on this blog is now Cloven Ruminant. (You can still call me Bruce – and anyway, Cloven Ruminant is better than Split-hoofed Cud-chewer). Quite a number of excellent bloggers are configured in a pseudonym so I thought I’d do the same and free myself from the shackles of expectation. Those shackles of expectation can at times be nullifying to ones creativity, so I’m breaking free! One never knows what riff-raff the cat might drag in when using another name. Incidentally, the goat gravatar is not a selfie but a picture of Billy my Goat. I’m younger and more beautiful. Anyway, here’s today’s story. Thanks – Cloven Ruminant).

Goodness! It was only July and already Malvina had finished her Christmas shopping. She had six children, five in-laws, and seventeen grandchildren. It was so much cheaper to buy suitable gifts throughout the year. Not only might they not be available closer to Christmas, but sometimes during the year things were on sale. Given the large number she had to buy for, every little saving was a great relief for Malvina.

As each gift was purchased, Malvina would wrap it carefully in Christmas paper and pencil the name of the person-to-receive. One year she had attached little cards to the gifts with the person’s name, but by the time Christmas arrived some of the cards had fallen off and she had to open the gifts to see who should get what. These days, as it neared Christmas, she would attach name cards.

And so it was! Here it was in July and already the Christmas shopping was done, the gifts were wrapped and well-hidden in a suitcase at the back of her bedroom closet. She had to hide things particularly well because all seventeen grandchildren were budding sleuths. So far, thankfully, they had never ventured into her bedroom closet.

Goodness! It was only September and already Malvina had finished her Christmas shopping. She had six children, five in-laws, and seventeen grandchildren. It was so much cheaper to buy suitable gifts throughout the year. Not only might they not be available closer to Christmas, but sometimes during the year things were on sale. Given the large number she had to buy for, every little saving was a great relief for Malvina.

Goodness! It was nearly Christmas and Malvina hadn’t even started her Christmas shopping. Usually she shopped for gifts throughout the year, but this year the time had flown. “I don’t know where the time goes to,” she said. She thought she had bought some gifts earlier, but she couldn’t find them. Usually she hid the gifts in a box in the cupboard in her garage but there was nothing there. How the years melded into one another. She must have shopped for the previous year!

1853. Goldfish pond murder

The murder had been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait. Dale’s third wife, Damaris, had tragically drowned. One minute she was sitting in a wheelchair in the sunshine reading Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind and the next minute she herself was gone – floating dead in the garden goldfish pond, wheelchair and all.

Husband Dale was distraught. “I never knew wheelchairs could float,” he gasped at the policeman. People in morning sometimes say the silliest things. Later he added something about “fortunately she didn’t get the book wet.”

It must be stated clearly from the beginning that Damaris didn’t need to sit in the wheelchair. She was perfectly well in all respects. Her visiting sister, Brierley, was using the chair because she had sprained an ankle while messing around with Dale in the garden. Brierley had gone inside the house “to have a rest and put her foot up” and Damaris was sitting in the wheelchair because it was convenient and she liked to watch the fish. Suddenly the unbraked wheelchair went whizzing into the goldfish pond, and although Damaris was a reasonable swimmer she couldn’t untangle herself from the chair.

The deed was done! It was a tragic accident. As soon as they can dry the wheelchair Brierley will be making a fast entrance down the aisle of the nearest church. Let’s hope Dale doesn’t try any funny business with his latest wife. After all, Brierley has secret, perhaps handy, photographs of Dale holding Damaris under water.

1850. How I (usually) write a story

When this blog hits a roundish story number (in this case Number 1850) I try to blather on in a way more meaningless and useless than usual. Every second posting on the Net seems to offer advice on how to do this or that; how to increase readers to the blog, how to write a blog, and so on.

I don’t purport to be an expert (in anything). So today, rather than tell you how to go about writing a story I thought I would tell you how I go about writing a story. Perhaps the odd snippet might be of help. Possibly not.

This is me cooking, but I could just as easily be cooking up a story.

When I start writing a story I have absolutely no idea how it will end.

First of all, when I rise in the morning I check the news online, and look at the obituaries to see who has expired that I went to school with. From the obituary column I take one or two female and male names and jot them down. I don’t jot down any surnames, just the first names. I jot names down because by the time of a second cup of coffee I will have forgotten everything.

Armed with a name, the first sentence gets written. It can be anything. Sometimes it’s suggested by the name. Who cares? I type out whatever comes in my head. Today the selected names are Sheree, Ferris, Beverley, and Rex. Pick a name; if more enter the story the other three names are waiting!

Let’s start:

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong.

Isn’t it exciting? Who knows what she will do next! Who knows where it will end up!

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. It seems that she stuck it in where it didn’t belong just the once too often.

Handy hint: Throw in little details to give the illusion that things are happening in real life.

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. It seems that last Saturday, mid-morning, she stuck it in where it didn’t belong just the once too often. She had been baking for the first half of the morning and now was taking a small basket of oatmeal cookies to Ferris, who worked on the corner mending and sewing horse saddles for the rich and indolent. Beverley had heard that his marriage had disintegrated several months earlier and she, well, kind of fancied him.

“Hi,” said Beverley. “I was just passing on a visit to my grandmother’s when I thought I’d pop in to see how you’re doing. No doubt, with your wife no longer being at home, you miss the odd bit of home cooking. So I bought you this basket of homemade oatmeal cookies.”

“That’s very kind of you,” said Ferris. “Yes, I certainly miss the home cooking since Sheree has gone.”

“I suppose,” said Beverley tentatively, “she is not coming back?”

“You supposed right,” said Ferris.

“So how are you coping on your own then?”

“Why the hell don’t you mind your own business?” said Ferris, chucking a large pair of pliers and a mallet onto a pile of leather next to him. “What’s it to you?”

“I was just trying to be sympathetic, that’s all.”

“Well you’re a bloody nosy-parker. I don’t want your dried up cookies. You can take them away and piss off.”

“I heard,” said Beverley rather rankled, “that Sheree hadn’t left you at all, but you did her in and hid the body underneath the floorboards of this workshop.”

Ferris saw red. The collapse of a marriage is a very gruelling experience. One never knows what will happen next. Beverley’s been missing for just on a week now. No one has thought to look under the floorboards of Ferris’ workshop. And, yeah, Ferris enjoyed the cookies.

(Well I’m as surprised as you are).

1849. Midmorning coffee

Cyril liked to have a coffee midmorning. It provided a break from sitting at the office desk. Not that he didn’t take his mug of coffee to the office desk to drink, but it was different. He didn’t have any of those fancy gizmos that sophisticated offices have. There was simply an electric kettle sitting on a little table next to a plug, a jar of instant coffee, and a jar of sugar. Anyway, there was just Cyril and his secretary.

When Ivy his secretary left for a new job, Cyril didn’t replace her for several months. During that time, to be honest, he simply couldn’t be bothered making a coffee midmorning. It’s not that he didn’t want one. It just that he really couldn’t be bothered having to wash his mug and teaspoon first. And then if the teaspoon was wet the instant coffee would stick to the spoon, and how does one then use the spoon to get the sugar out of the sugar jar?

Eventually Cyril hired a new secretary. Delesia was the perfect secretary; pleasant, efficient, capable, hard-working.

On her first day of work, around about half past ten, she announced to Cyril that she was taking ten minutes of time out, and would he like a cup of coffee?

Would he what! What a dear creature! Yes please!

That was years and years ago. This Saturday they will have been married for forty-two years.

1837. Mother Thrush’s baby, Guzzle-Beak

“Now, now, Guzzle-Beak,” said Mother Thrush to her baby in the nest. “You must learn not to complain about your food. It doesn’t matter if you find a bit of lettuce in your caterpillar. Just quietly eat it and things will be fine. It won’t kill you.”

“Look at what happened to your brothers and sisters. There were five of you at the start, and they complained about the food. Next thing, they disappeared. It’s a nasty world out there and we must learn to be grateful for small mercies.”

“Your father and I have worn ourselves to a frazzle finding food for you. So a bit of appreciation wouldn’t go amiss. Taking a positive attitude to things will see you right in life. You’ll go places.”

Just then a hawk swooped down from nowhere, grabbed Guzzle-Beak in its talons, and flew off.

“Oh well,” sighed Mother Thrush eating the caterpillar she had brought for her baby and spitting out the bit of lettuce that was mixed in, “Mr. Thrush and I shall start a second clutch tomorrow.”

1802. The raffle

Sebastian Schmuck was dumbing down. He was a multi-billionaire and was sick of having too much stuff. For example, why did he need two helicopters when one was more than enough? Why did he need a whole acre of fairground rides for his grandchildren when they never visited? He would raffle things off and give the money to charity. Raffling for charity always sold more tickets.

Romuald and Tatiana Stevenson lived a quiet life in the suburbs of the same city as Sebastian. They weren’t rich but they had enough to go on. Imagine Tatiana’s surprise when Romuald came home one day and said he’d bought a raffle ticket for a helicopter.

“What on earth do we need a helicopter for? You can’t even drive it. Where would we park it? We have nowhere to go in the silly thing. Goodness me! Let’s hope we don’t win.”

A few weeks later Romuald got a phone call.

“You’ll be glad to know,” said Romuald putting down the phone, “that we didn’t win the helicopter.”

“Thank goodness!” exclaimed Tatiana.

“But we got second place,” said Romuald, “and we won a fairground-sized Ferris wheel.”