Tag Archives: tale

1943. A train to catch

I was scurrying to the train station to catch my usual morning transport. I was running late because I had spilt coffee on my trousers (thank goodness it had cooled) and had to get changed. In my haste I forgot to take my phone out of the wet trouser pocket, so I didn’t know by how much I was running late.

The clock on the town tower was renowned for its unreliability. Going by what it said I had five minutes to get to the station to get on the train to take me to work. I work as a bank manager, and today the big boss is coming for an important meeting. VERY important, he had said on the phone.

Only four minutes to go. I thought I’d start to run; actually trot along, as I didn’t want to be all sweaty during the VERY important meeting.

Two minutes to go. I simply cannot afford to miss that train. What the heck! I’ll have to run, sweaty or not! I can explain to the boss why I’m perspiring so profusely. And…

Made it! Phew! That was close! I got a seat too. No sooner had I sat than the doors closed and the train began to noiselessly slide away from the station.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a voice over the intercom. “Welcome to the non-stop day trip to the capital city. Refreshments are available throughout the trip in the cafeteria carriage.”

I was on the wrong train. It was going the wrong way and it would take all day to get there.

1939. To die alphabetically

Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund’s doctor had given him bad news. He had not been feeling well and was not at all surprised when the doctor announced (in a kindly and tender manner) that what Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund had was terminal.

“Oh well,” shrugged Jerome, “we all eventually get our marching orders I suppose.”

He went home and within a week had become obsessed with the death notices in the morning paper. Here was a list of those who had died – usually the day before. Jerome began to work out each morning where his name would go alphabetically if he had indeed passed away on the preceding day.

Amor
Austin
Baird
Burgin
Cain

If he had died his name would appear between Baird and Burgin.

Ackerley
Alexander
Batwell
Blayney
Blight

If he had died his name would appear between Alexander and Batwell.

And there, on the third day, BARBARICH-ASKELUND! There it was in print! In black and white! What a mystery!

Anderson
Atherfold
Aycock
BARBARICH-ASKELUND
Butt

“As far as I know,” said Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund, “we are the only ones in the country with this family name. It’s a complete bafflement. I’m in a state of stupefaction.”

After two weeks, Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund’s friend, Gloria Wiggins said, “Look Myrtle-Bianca, you have to admit that he’s been dead for two weeks now. You can’t go on pretending it didn’t happen. “

“Oh Gloria!” sobbed Myrtle-Bianca Barbarich-Askelund, “to die is one thing. To appear in print between Aycock and Butt is shocking. Jerome will never forgive me.”

1938. Water birth

Kathleen was expecting her first baby. She was both excited and full of trepidation. She had investigated every possible manner of giving birth. There were all sorts of theories – some to ease the pain of child birth; some to ensure the baby wasn’t disadvantaged in any way.

In the end, after much research, Kathleen decided upon an underwater birth. Yes! A water birth was best. Of course, it would take place at the local birthing centre under the direction of a qualified midwife.

The time arrived! There were no complications. It went as smoothly as possible. Kathleen was relieved and surprised. By the end of the day she took the baby home.

It’s always a big decision for a mermaid whether to give birth in water or on rocks.

1937. Ayleen bakes a cake for Rodney

Ayleen decided to bake a cake. I mean, what else was there to do on a cold rainy day? Besides, her boyfriend, Rodney, was coming to dinner. There was nothing different or special about that but Ayleen thought that to finish with a delectable dessert might sweeten the reality that she was going to announce: as far as Ayleen was concerned the relationship was over.

Ayleen had good reason for it. They had never fallen in love; it was a relationship of convenience. It was “someone to take out”, especially if a group of friends went out partying. But now, Ayleen thought that having a relationship of convenience was a hindrance to finding the right person. Who is going to invite her out if she is already attached? This business with Rodney has to end to make room for whoever was around the corner.

The cake baking went satisfactorily. It was a blueberry yogurt cake. She’d used the recipe quite often. It looked nice enough. A slice of the cake with a dollop of ice cream would be an adequate introduction to her announcement.

Rodney was the fourth guy she’d baked a blueberry yogurt cake for in the last six weeks. When on earth would the right guy come along?

1927. Bon voyage

Dear Gentle Reader

Here’s your chance to make the world a better place. You are so kind-hearted – I know you are; I know that you desire the sweetest outcomes for people in strife. That is why, in today’s story, when something unfortunate threatens the main character, something will occur that turns everything to good. It is your kindness that dictates this, So-Kindly-a-Reader.

Irene had had a bad week. Her dog had taken ill and she had to pay the astronomical veterinarian’s fees; on the way home her motorcar ran out of gas, and she had to walk for what seemed like miles with the sick dog to get help; her mail delivery service informed her that her mail box was at the wrong height; her kitchen sink seemed to be leaking into the cupboard below; her… Need one, Kindly Reader, go on and on? Why not get to the point and have something nice happen? And indeed we shall!

After having taken the dog to the veterinarian, Irene popped into the supermarket on the way home to get some white vinegar, because she had run out, and while there she bought a ticket in the lottery.

Miracle of miracles! Two days later Irene discovered that she had won millions and millions of dollars. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Kindly Reader for making such wonderful things happen!

Irene did what she could only dream about. She booked a ticket to sail in luxury to America and back! Who would have thought she would ever afford such a thing? Thank you! Thank you!

Her first few days on the Titanic were fantastic.

1926. Lockdown down

(Warning: This is not a nice story)

Valencia had had enough. It rained and rained and rained. She wasn’t too worried about the Bloxham family, the neighbours on the left hand side; she was more concerned about Janet on the other side of the road. Janet lived alone, and with total lockdown demanded by the government, there really was no way that Valencia could check on Janet.

In the end Valencia could take it no longer. She had obeyed the lockdown orders for two months now. She left her house, strode across the road, and knocked on Janet’s door. Janet answered.

“I was just checking to see if you were okay and if there was anything you needed,” said Valencia. Everything was fine, so Valencia returned home.

It can’t have been more than twenty minutes before the police arrived. The Bloxham’s next door had seen and reported. Their neighbour was wandering the neighbourhood indiscriminately. Valencia explained to the police that she had been checking on a neighbour. That was not good enough. Valencia was issued with a warning.

Valencia had had enough. It rained and rained and rained. She went into the kitchen, turned on the gas, and stuck her head in the oven.

1925. Three minutes of fame

A true story to celebrate what in New Zealand is officially the first day of Spring (although I personally don’t drink to it until the equinox on the 23rd). The story has nothing to do with Spring as such. It’s to do with the only painting I’ve ever done.

My family were never much into art. As kids we had colouring-in books, but we never painted pictures. Perhaps Mother thought that pencils were less messy than paint. I did have a collection of coloured pencils however. You would get a different shade in the mail every week, and I think I had several hundred pencils all wonderfully cataloged. I don’t recall drawing; just colouring-in.

These days I’m not averse to the occasional surreptitious colouring-in – although I have only eight colours!

Even when I was sent to boarding school (age 13) the options were between Woodwork and Art. My parents chose Woodwork – and quite frankly I was not very good at it.

Years later, when I was in the Seminary studying for the priesthood, quite a few of the students were exceptional artists. I thought I’d try my hand at water colours. I still remember painting this picture. I talked to the lady as she emerged from the canvas. I called it Lady at the market selling potatoes. Apparently I abused water colouring technique, and instead of “laying” colours I rubbed them all together in a mess. Proudly I found an old frame and hung the painting in the book-binding room where I worked – just above the guillotine!

The Seminary was a long established institution in the province. It had the largest private library and the oldest vineyard in the country. Crowds of visitors would come to the cellars to purchase wine, and there on a hill behind the cellars was a large grand building where no visitors came because it was “The Mission Seminary”. It had a mystique. It was a place seen only from a distance, with its palm trees overlooking the city. Once a year the Seminary would have “an open day”. Crowds of people would come for a peek.

“And this,” I said to a visiting lady, “is where we bind and mend the books for the library.” The lady was clearly a snob. She had a plum in her mouth; or was that a silver spoon? Grandly she stood in front of the guillotine gazing at my painting.

“I’ve seen the original of that,” she said. “In The Netherlands.”

1922. Walking the city walls

(Hi – I’m still having a break from answering comments. A bit otherwise engaged! More in a day or two).

Timothy was exceedingly rich. He hadn’t simply become rich by inheriting riches from his father, although that was a good half of it. He had become doubly rich through hard work. He was a businessman of unbridled talent and success. Hence his riches.

He lived in a beautiful house with a spacious garden, and although he employed a professional gardener to come in once a week, he enjoyed gardening himself and did a great deal of it when time allowed.

He was also interested in breeding tropical fish, and hence he had a good number of significantly large aquariums in tasteful places around his house. Of course when we say “house” we mean it was more than a house; it was a mansion; a manor; a regal grange.

When Timothy hit forty he thought, “Why am I working so hard? I have all this money, so how much more do I need? I have many interests. Why don’t I pursue them? After all there’s enough money to live more than comfortably for the rest of my life and longer.”

So that’s what he did.

He abandoned work and took to travel! He went to Africa, Europe, Asia. He photographed so many things of history, so many scenes. When he needed a break he would come home and unwind in the garden. In the evenings he would view with pleasure the places he had been. Then it was back into travel!

It was while he was in Verona in Italy. He was walking the city walls, and was high up and passing the Basilica of St. Zeno. He stopped. He thought of something. He burst into tears.

It was all a waste of time; it was all meaningless, because he had no one to tell his adventures to. There was no one to share things with.

1921. The floozy and the frump

There’s no doubt that June was what her friend Jewel called a “floozy”.

“It’s better than being a frump, like you,” said June to Jewel.

June and Jewel had been friends since high school. They were both attracted to the same boys. June seemed to win all the time, which is why Jewel called her a floozy. Jewel seems to lose all the time, which is why June called her a frump. It was all in good fun.

It just so happened that the frump got married first.

The floozy hasn’t spoken to the frump for twenty-three years.

1919. A gated community

(Hi everyone – I’m possibly going to have a few days off, not from posting but from commenting – as one has to on WP now and again just to keep normal!)

Romualda had lived for a good two months in her new house in the fairly exclusive gated community of Cloudsome Heights. Thus far she hadn’t met a single neighbour. Then suddenly, without knowing who she was, Romualda met Yvette. Romualda was in the supermarket selecting a bunch of Ecuadorian bananas. If there’s the slightest touch of black on a single banana the bunch doesn’t last as long, so it pays to check thoroughly before squandering money on a bunch that would quickly go off. After all, she lived alone. It’s not as if a whole family was into helping to devour them. A touch of black would ruin the whole bunch. And then…

“You must be Romualda,” said Yvette who had just grabbed a bag of pears next to the bananas.

“Yes,” said Romualda, “but I must be honest. I’m not sure if we’ve met. How do you do?”

“You’ve recently moved into our gated community,” said Yvette not introducing herself. “There are quite a few people who are not happy about it.”

“Unhappy about what?” asked Romualda.

“About you moving into Cloudsome Heights, as I just said.”

“I wasn’t aware I wasn’t welcome,” said Romualda. “Is it because I live alone?”

“Goodness me, no,” said Yvette. “We’re not like that at Cloudsome Heights! It’s because…”

“Because what?” asked Romualda, by now slightly rattled.

Suddenly a rather buxom woman pushed her shopping trolley into Romualda.

“Oh I’m so sorry,” said the buxom woman to Romualda. “But you’re blocking access to the bananas.”

“I’m sorry,” said Romualda moving away toward the vegetable section.

“Well?” asked the buxom lady to Yvette. “Did you tell her she’s not welcome in Cloudsome Heights?”

“No. But I’m pretty sure she now knows that a touch of black on a banana will ruin the whole bunch.”