Tag Archives: short story

Twenty is My Name

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Twenty is My Name

“I told you nothing is coming out my mouth, Lucas.” The Captain of Interpol sat down at his desk, swiveling around to face Lucas, the reporter for the Stockholm Gazette.

“Captain, you must tell me who is twenty. He is world-famous, and he doesn’t work for you and Interpol. I think the man could get away with murder as popular as he is now.”

“No one is above the law, not even Twenty,” the Captain said.

“Come on, give me something to put in my story. I’ll be sure Interpol gets all the credit.” Lucas pulled his note pad out of his pocket along with a pen and posed himself ready to write down what the Captain said.

“I don’t know anything more than you do. I got my knowledge from the Commissioner. You are wasting your time. You’ll have to find yourself another source.”

“There is another question for you, Captain, and it has nothing to do with Twenty. Answer it for me, and I’ll go away. Lucas had his pen ready to write.

The Captain straightened out in his chair and put both hands together on top of his desk. “Okay, ask your question and then get out.”

Lucas smiled as he looked at the Captain. “You are a lead Captain at this joint. Why did they put you in this shitty office?”

Looking around the room, the Captain chuckled. “This room is not bad; I’ve had worse. It’s everything I need: my desk, computer, printer and a couple of bookshelves. There is even artwork on the wall. That tapestry came out of my ancestral castle in Scotland. Just because it doesn’t look like it came of HQ Magazine doesn’t mean it isn’t a great office. Now, if there is nothing else, I want to get to work.”

“You didn’t answer my question completely,” Lucas stated.

“What did I leave out?”

“Why were you put in here when I know the other offices are professionally decorated.” Lucas swung his arm around in a circle indicating the entire office.

“They put me in here because I asked them to. It’s what I wanted. Now get the hell out of here and let me work.” The Captain smiled as Lucas stood.

“I know this is not your style, so something else is behind you having this office.”

“Lucas Arnold, if you do not leave this second, I will make you pay.”

“Now, now, dad, don’t get your Jockeys all twisted. I’m going. Thanks for letting me talk to you,” Lucas said. He opened the door and stepped out. He was sure to close it behind himself.

The Captain wanted to be sure Lucas left the building before he spoke. “All right, Twenty, you can come out now.”

The tapestry fluttered and then pushed out into the room. A man with jet black hair and baby blue eyes stepped out from behind. He had females panting after him as if they were in heat. “That secret room is a godsend for people like me who wants to keep hidden.”

“That’s all well and good, Twenty, but what do you have to report?” The Captain asked.

“The only thing I found out for certain is the Russian Prime Minister flew to the Seychelles to meet with the Vice President of America once a month for the past six months. Something big is in the works, but I don’t know what yet,” Twenty said.

“You have to go to the Seychelles and stay till you find out what is going on,” the Captain said.

“Are you sure you want me to stay. I think I should follow the Prime Minister. Especially since I’m already established in Russia.”

“You can follow him if you want, but you be on that island whenever there is a meeting. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, loud and clear. I’m to play the part of a spy instead of an assassin. Maybe you can change my nickname from Twenty to Killer.”

“That will never happen, Twenty. Your job is whatever I tell you to do. You’ve assassinated twenty world leaders over the years without any questions. You’re excellent on the job, and there won’t be any changes to your name.”

“Well, Twenty is a great number. I’ll leave now and get back to my dull life of bookkeeper for Putin.”

“Goodbye, Twenty, and please leave by the same route you came in.”

The tapestry fluttered, and Twenty was gone.

Amanda’s New Life

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Amanda’s New Life

This is a Flash Fiction story from my book Shirley’s Shorts and Flashes. A book of short stories with genres from romance to the supernatural. There is something for everyone to enjoy. amzn.to/15HB87j I hope you enjoy this little piece. It’s something beside Covid-19.

by Shirley McLain     4245 Words

The bed was empty, but Amada knew it wouldn,t be empty long.  Jasper would be sure she met her quota for the day.  This endless, meaningless sex was not what she had planned for her life.  If it weren’t for my asshole stepfather and spineless mother, my life would be different.  I couldn’t stay there and let him continue to use me.  My mother didn’t believe me when I told her what was happening.  I think she knew, but she didn’t want to stay by herself.  She let that creep stay around, so I didn’t.  I’ve learned how to take care of myself, and she could’ve learned also.

The sheets on the bed were changed and Amanda took a quick shower.  She felt little of the filth on her was washed down the drain.  She was just getting out of the shower when the doorbell rang.  She knew it would be her next customer.  With the towel wrapped around her body, she opened the door.

What a surprise, there was a child about six years old standing at her door.

“Hi there, what can I do for you, sweetie?”

“Are you Amanda?”

“Yes, my name is Amanda.”

The child reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope and handed it to Amanda.  Amanda’s name was written across the front of the envelope in an unfamiliar handwriting.

 “What is your name, Darling?”

“It’s Annie Lynn.”  The child kept shifting from one foot to another, looking around.

“Well, Annie Lynn who brought you here?  Come in so I can close the door.  Standing in the doorway in a towel doesn’t look too good.  So how did you get here?”

“I was put in a taxi and the driver was told to bring me to this address.”

“Where are your parents?”

“I don’t have any.  I lived with my Nanna until two weeks ago, when she died.  I stayed with a friend of hers until today, and she sent me here.”

“Let me read this letter, and maybe it will tell me why you were sent to my door.”  Amanda opened the letter and started reading:

               Dear Amanda Thomas, you do not know me, but I was a friend of Frances Jones, who was the adopted grandmother of Annie Lynn.  This is going to come as a shock to you, but Annie Lynn is your daughter who you adopted out at birth.  She no longer has any living relatives.  Before Frances died, she told me to contact Mr. Andrew Paul, her attorney when she died.  I did as I was requested to do and was mailed a letter, with instructions only to read it when Frances died.  I received the letter two days ago.  I was informed you were Annie Lynn’s mother and your address.  I was also instructed to send Annie Lynn to you.  That is what I have done.  Enclosed you will find the birth certificate showing you are Annie’s mother and no known father.

at the Don’t bother trying to find me, because you won’t. The child did not know me, and I do not live within two thousand miles. Annie is a sweet girl, so take loving care of her. You are all she has.
“Annie Lynn, do you know why you are here?”
“Nanna’s friend said I would be living with you from now on.
“I can’t explain everything right now, but I will explain as soon as I can. Right now, let’s put your suitcase in the bedroom, and I’ll get dressed, so we can get something to eat.”
Amanda knew she’d to get out of her house before the next john showed up. She had to be able to think and decide what to do. She couldn’t believe someone could just send a little girl to a stranger. I guess I did that very thing when I gave her up for adoption.
Amanda quickly dressed in a pair of blue jeans, tee-shirt, and tennis shoes. She and Annie Lynn caught the subway to Amanda’s favorite Italian restaurant.
“Do you like spaghetti, Annie? It’s one of my most favorite things to eat.”
“It’s my most favorite thing. I like it with garlic bread. Can I have bread with it?”
“Certainly, I’m going to have some myself, along with some big fat meatballs.”
Annie didn’t talk much. She would answer a question when asked, but otherwise, she sat and looked at Amanda. Amanda smiled at her and tried to make lighthearted talk, but Anne Lynn didn’t want to engage in conversation.
“Tell me about your parents, and Grandmother, Annie.”
“My Nanna told me my mama and daddy were in a car wreck and went to see Jesus. I was just a baby. I stayed with my Nanna, and that’s all I know. I do have a picture of them that Nanna gave me. My mama was pretty. She had dark brown hair like mine, and it was long too, just like mine.”
“I’m sure she was because you certainly are. I think you and I aren’t staying at my house tonight. We are going to buy a pair of PJ’s and a toothbrush and then we are going to a hotel. I think we will have an adventure tonight since we are getting to know each other. What do you think of that idea?”
“Ok, whatever you want to do.”
Amanda knew she couldn’t go back to her house because of Jasper. He would be waiting for her, and there is no telling what he would do. It wouldn’t matter in the least if there were a child around. She couldn’t have Annie hurt.
They finished their meal and made their way back to the subway. Amanda knew of a hotel they could stay at that Jasper knew nothing about. It would give her time to think and decide what to do. They got off at the mall entrance and walked to JC Penny’s buying clothes for the next day and some PJ’s. They went on to CVS Pharmacy and bought toothbrushes and toothpaste. They were ready for the night. They got back on the subway and rode to the station closest to the Twin Towers Memorial. She had a friend who lived in China town. Ming owned a small hotel. She would give Amanda and Annie a room for as long as needed.
Ming had once been one of Jasper’s girls, but she got lucky and was able to get away from the business. She went home to her family, who accepted her back with open arms. The hotel once belonged to her parents, but since their death, it’s hers.
Amanda opened the front door to the hotel, stepped into the small lobby with Annie right on her heels. Ming was sitting at the desk looking at a magazine. When she looked up and recognized Amanda, she immediately ran out with open arms to hug Amanda.
“Hi Ming, How are you doing?” It’s so good to see you again, my friend.”
“This is a surprise, Amanda. I am so glad to see you. Who is this pretty young lady?”
“This is Annie Lynn; she is living with me now. I’m wondering if you could put me up for a couple of days. I have to make some decisions, and I need a quiet place to think.”
“You didn’t even need to ask. Let me take you to a room with two beds. We need time to talk a little later. I am on the night shift tonight, so just give me a call anytime. She took a key off the hook behind the desk and walked them to the elevator. You are on the third floor in 312. It is one door down from the elevator on the right.”
“Thanks, Ming, you don’t know how much this means to me. I can’t thank you enough.”
“You don’t have to, that is what being a friend is all about. I will talk to you later.”
Amanda and Annie Lynn found their room without any problem. It was nice and clean with two queen size beds plus a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee pot.
“We will have a fabulous time camping out here and getting to know one another. Are you tired, Annie? It has been a busy day for you. Let’s get you a bath and put your PJs. Then we can watch some TV until you get sleepy.”
Annie Lynn went into the bathroom and started running water for her bath. Amanda made sure she had a towel and washcloth. Annie climbed in the tub and tried to lean back, but she was too small to hit the back of the tub. Amanda laughed and turned the water off and handed her the bar of soap.
“Let me know when you want me to wash your back. I’m going to be watching TV while you are in the tub. Amanda left the door open to the bathroom and sat down on her bed. She took her cell phone out of her purse. She had twenty-four messages. “I’m not even going to look at these things. I am sure most of them are from Jasper, wanting to know where I’m. This is the end of that life for me.” All of the messages disappeared with a push of a button, and she felt relieved not to have to deal with Jasper anymore.
Annie Lynn finished her bath, and Amanda helped her dry off. After Annie put her PJ’s on, they both laid down on one of the beds and started watching Finding Nemo on the TV. Annie Lynn seemed to enjoy watching it.
Amanda couldn’t keep her mind on the TV. She kept running the words from the letter repeatedly in her mind that this child was hers. Amanda never thought she’d see her again. She remembered seeing the little, tiny bundle held in front of her, right after delivery. How small her hands were, and her large dark eyes were trying to focus in the light. Then they left with her, and that was it. She never saw her daughter again. She left the hospital two days later and went to her friend’s house. That friend was the one who introduced her to Jasper.
After her recovery from giving birth, things started to change at the friend’s house. It got so bad she couldn’t stay there anymore. Jasper was there to take her to his place, and she could stay there. I was a sixteen-year-old girl who’d just given her baby away, was abused at home, felt unloved, and unwanted. Besides that, I didn’t have a choice without money.
One thing led to another, and Amanda finally started turning tricks for Jasper, to keep him from beating her. Over the last six years, she’s made a lot of money. She gave Jasper what he thought his cut was, but he didn’t know what the john’s were paying her. She saved enough money so that she could support her and Annie Lynn for a long time. She could go back to school to get her education.
Annie Lynn had drifted off to sleep. Amanda left the bathroom light on, turned the TV down low, and went to the lobby to talk to Ming.
“Hey, Ming, can you talk now?”
“Sure, come on behind the desk and sit down. I appreciate the company. I was beginning to get sleepy. Let me get us a cup of coffee. It has been a while since you and I have gotten to visit.” Ming walked over to the counter in the breakfast area and fixed two cups of coffee. When she sat down again, she turned and looked at Amanda.
“Why are you here, Amanda?”
“Ming, Annie is my daughter. I had her adopted out at birth, but the adopted family is now dead. She arrived back to me today. I can’t go back to the life I had. I have to decide what I’m going to do. I have a lot of money saved in an account Jasper doesn’t know about, so I don’t have to worry about money.”
“If you had money, why did you continue that life?”
“What else was I going to do? I couldn’t go back home, and turning tricks is what I know. I was making a substantial amount of money, and most of the time, I wasn’t unhappy. I just need time to think about what I want to do now.”
“You know you are welcome to stay here as long as you need to. Jasper might be in New Jersey, but you know as well as I do if he wants to find you, he will.”
“Yes, I know Ming. I won’t be here but a couple of days. By then, I’ll know where I’m going. I do appreciate your help.”
“I told you before, that is what friends are for.”
“I’m going to go back up to the room. I don’t want Annie Lynn waking up and not finding me there. I will talk to you tomorrow.”
Amanda went back to the room, and Annie was still sleeping soundly. She put on her PJ’s and turned off the TV and bathroom light and crawled into bed. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to go to sleep or not.
She tossed and turned most of the night. She kept running everything over in her mind and trying to decide what to take. The clock on the bedside table showed three A.M. when she finally drifted off to sleep. She then started dreaming of her mother and father.
Amanda’s eyes popped open at eight the next morning. Annie was sitting up in bed with the TV playing on low and was watching cartoons.
“Good morning,” Amanda said. “Did you sleep well?”
Annie just looked at her and nodded her head up and down.
“How about we get dressed and go get up some breakfast. Do you want to do that?”
“Sure, I like pancakes.”
“Then the pancakes it will be. I’ll find out the address of the nearest IHOP (International House of Pancakes). They make a great pancake breakfast. I hope you have a large appetite.”
They got up and got dressed, brushed their teeth, and headed downstairs. Ming was just getting ready to go off duty.
“Good morning, Ming. I hope your night went all right. Where is the nearest IHOP? We want a pancake breakfast this morning”.
They got the directions they needed and left the hotel. It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky and warm sunshine. The IHOP was not far, so they walked and enjoyed the sun.
Amanda chatted away while they walked, but Annie Lynn was quiet. Amanda was hoping as Annie gets to know her, she would open up a little bit. Stop pressuring yourself, Amanda; this is only her second day with you. Give her time to adjust.
They had a fabulous breakfast and walked down to the waterfront to watch the boats coming and going. As they sat on a bench looking out at the water, Amanda had the urge to talk to her mother. She took out her cell phone; looked the ringer was turned off, so it couldn’t disturb her or Annie. She had twenty messages. She deleted every one of them without listening to the first sound. She hoped her mother would be living in the same house, and that ass she was married to wouldn’t be home during the day. She dialed the number she remembered. The phone began to ring. After the fourth ring, Amanda was about to hang up when a female voice said, “hello.”
“Hello, I would like to speak to Martha James, please.”
“This is Martha James, how can I help you?”
“Amanda felt this lump begin in her throat. She wasn’t sure she could speak. “Mama, its Amanda.”
She could hear her mother scream, “Oh my precious girl. Where are you? How are you? I can’t believe I’m finally getting to talk to you.”
“Mom, I’m in New York right now, and I’m doing well.”
“Amanda, will you come to see me?”
“Mom, I can’t come back there as long as your husband is around.”
“Oh, Amanda, he hasn’t been here for six years. He left not long after you did. I’m living here by myself. Please come home. We have so much to find out about each other. I love you, and I don’t want to lose touch with you again.”
“Mom, I love you too. I will be home in two days, and I am bringing someone for you to meet. No, there is no husband. It’s going to be a surprise. I will see you as soon as I can.”
Amanda hung up the phone and turned to Annie Lynn. “Annie, we are going to Oklahoma to visit my mama. We may even stay there.”
“Are there Indians there?”
“Yes, but not like the ones you see on TV, our Indians look like you and me, except their skin is darker. I think you will like Oklahoma. There are many lakes, rolling hills, cows, and horses. It’s a lovely place to start a new life. How about us starting a new life in a new home?
“Can I meet the Indians?”
“You certainly can, sweetie.” She gathered Annie Lynn in her arms and held her close. She said a silent prayer thanking God for sending her daughter back to her, and giving her a chance to reunite with her mother.

The Never-Ending Heart

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farm houseHello, I thought today I would post a ghost story for Halloween.  It is a true story, but I did take some fictional liberties with it. This story was told to me by a friend and Michael in the story was his uncle. Strange things happen in this world and this is only one of them.  I hope you enjoy the story and please leave me some feedback.

I do have a book just for Halloween on Amazon called “Shirley’s Book of Horror.” I am giving away ten copies. If you will let me know you would like an ebook of short stories.

 

 


The Never-Ending Heart

The sobs coming from the people standing around the grave were heart-wrenching. Especially those coming from Andrea’s husband, Michael. Even the dreary gray clouds with the light drizzle intensified the mourning that the Barton family and friends were going through.

Andrea Barton was a vivacious woman who loved her life. The entire family cherished her. There didn’t seem to be a bad trait or habit of any kind. She’d told her family often how perfect her life was and how God had blessed her.

Michael met Andrea in the sixth grade, right after he’d been moved from Michigan to Eufaula because his parents wanted to return to Oklahoma. They became fast friends and were together from that time forward. They knew in their hearts that one day they’d be married.

They worked and saved their money while they were dating so they could buy the farmland out on Route 4.  It was located halfway in-between their parents, so it was the perfect location for the young couple.

As a surprise for the couple, both families got together and bought the land and gave it to Michael and Andrea as a wedding present.  The money they’d saved could now build a house on their property. Life remained perfect for the couple. They made their dream farmhouse with a wraparound porch and lots of windows.

Love radiated from this couple.  If you were around them, you didn’t have a choice but to smile and feel their happiness. On October 31, 1987, they became one legally. In their minds, they already belonged to each other. They didn’t go on a honeymoon so they could buy furniture for their new farmhouse. Their wedding night was the first time they had spent the night together under the same roof and, it was their roof.

Every night, when Michael got in from work, Andrea had a hot bath run, and dinner was cooking on the stove. Michael never liked a shower; he liked soaking in the warm water to help his aching muscles after his hard day at work. They pampered each other in every way possible. This ideal life continued for 30 years. Michael and Andrea had raised two children, who were now gone from home.

Michael left for work after kissing Andrea and saying the words he spoke every morning. “I love you, woman. I always have, and I always will.”

“Not as much as I love you,” Andrea called back. The happiness and love she felt for Michael never left her.

Andrea decided she’d clean off the shelves in the cellar, where she kept all of her canned food and supplies. They were full of junk and disorganized.

The cellar steps were steep without a handrail, and it had no electricity.  She’d been after Michael for years to fix everything, but it never happened, so she used two coal oil lamps for light.

She hated going into the cellar because of not having light, and there had always been a problem with scorpions. She shivered just thinking about them.  It took all of her determination to go down into the cellar, but she did.  She lit both lamps and looked at the shelves dreading what she needed to do.

There wasn’t enough light on the far shelf to see. Andrea picked up a lantern and held it high so she could see the back of the shelf.  She felt something land on her arm.  When she looked it was a large scorpion which had apparently fallen from the ceiling. She screamed and jumped, dropping the lamp. It broke splashing the coal oil up onto Andrea’s pants. Flames went up her legs. She screamed and made a run for the steps but didn’t get far before she was consumed by the flames. The coroner’s report stated death was caused by fire, which destroyed the body due to the synthetic clothing being worn.

Michael was devastated at the death of his wife and experienced severe depression. All he could think about was Andrea and how much he missed her. His children were genuinely concerned.  They even hired a housekeeper to come in daily to clean the house and talk to their dad.

After five years of deep mourning, Michael decided he liked having the housekeeper around. She was kind and talked to him even when he didn’t want her to.  The best thing was Darlene was single. He may not have his mind off of Andrea, but he did listen to things going on around him. He decided he would marry Darlene and keep her around for the company.

Within three months Michael and Darlene were married, and she moved into the farmhouse with Michael.  Things remained quiet for several days, but then it changed.  Every night for a week, Darlene would wake Michael from a sound sleep to tell him someone was crying or walking in the house.  Michael could hear nothing, but he’d get out of bed and look.  It finally got to the point he told Darlene to go back to sleep because nothing was there.

This continued for almost a month.  Darlene was becoming more agitated and unhappy as time went on.  Michael decided he would try to cheer his wife up and took her out for a wonderful dinner and a show.  Darlene relaxed and felt comfortable for a little while.

When they arrived back home, they immediately knew something was not right.  There was a smell of food cooking, and they could hear water running.  “I’ll find the water,” Michael said as he took off down the hall to find the running water.  It was in the bathroom. The stopper was in the tub, and hot water was running into it. Thankfully it was not running over.

“Ok, I’ll check out the kitchen.” Darlene was standing in the kitchen, screaming at the top of her lungs. When Michael got there he grabbed his hysterical wife to hold her. He immediately noticed the pots cooking on the stove.  He continued to hold onto Darlene as he moved them to the stove so he could turn it off.

Nothing prepared Michael for all the emotions he was feeling.  Everything about Andrea was brought back to his mind.  Darlene calmed down enough to talk and told Michael she was leaving this house and not returning. “I love you, but I’m not staying here another night.  There was a woman in this kitchen when I came in. She looked at me and told me you were hers. Then she disappeared. I’m not living with the Ghost of your dead wife.”

“What are you talking about, Darlene? Ghosts aren’t real.  There has to be another explanation.”

“Look, I know what I saw, and you won’t change my mind about leaving. I’ll be out of here within thirty minutes.  You can come with me or stay, but I’m gone.”

“What did the woman look like?” Michael asked Darlene as she was throwing clothes into a suitcase.

“She was about five foot three inches tall, weighed about 120 and had fiery red hair. She looked like she was in her twenties.”

In a subdued voice, Michael asked, “What was she wearing?”

“You know, I couldn’t tell because of the flames that were covering her body but not burning her. It was your wife! I’ve seen the pictures you have of her.”

Michael sank onto the bed, and his mind couldn’t wrap itself around what he was told. Darlene grabbed her suitcase and left the house. True to her word, she never came back.

From that night on, Michael always had a hot bath and supper cooked for him. He never saw it happen, but it was there for him daily.

About a week before Michael died, he told his daughter he’d seen her mother out by the cellar. “I called to her, but she only smiled and waved to me before she disappeared. I know it has been her taking care of me all the time. It won’t be long before I’ll be with her. I just know it.”

Michael lay on the bed. He had recognized none of his family for the past two days. His eyes were closed, and the loud death rattle sound could be heard into the kitchen. The family gathered around the bed with several shedding tears as they waited for Michael to draw his last breath.

Michael opened his eyes, sat up in bed, and talked to someone at the foot of the bed. The family tried to get him to lie back, but he refused. A rose-colored mist covered the foot of the bed as Michael laid back and let out a show agonal breath.

The family couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Then a female voice spoke, “We are together again, my love,” as the light faded.

 

 

Character Change Vs. Character Growth

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Hello everyone, I do hope you are having a great day.  To catch you up on my activities since my last blog write. I’ve sent Thomas Gomel Learns About Bullying to the publisher for approval.  I also did an upgrade on Princess Adele’s Dragon and had it republished in ebook form. I’ve kept myself busy writing and entering contests on Fanstory. After the article below I will be posting a short story called The Lake. I do hope you enjoy this week’s blog.  Until next time have a blessed week.    Shirley

PS. By the way, you can possibly win a copy of Princess Adele’s Dragon by following the link, especially if you like medieval dragons, kings, queens, and knights.

Link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/065f308c42ab7cba

 

*****

Main characters don’t have to change to grow.  They can grow in their resolve.

It is a common misconception among authors that the main character in a story must change in order to grow.  Certainly, that is one kind of story,  as in A Christmas Carol where Scrooge alters his way of looking at the world and his role in it.  But other stories are about characters overcoming pressures put upon them to change their viewpoint and holding on to their beliefs, such as in Field of Dreams where main character Ray Kinsella builds a baseball stadium in his cornfield believing the old time players (and eventually even his father) will come to play.  In the end, he is not dissuaded from what appears to be a quixotic plan of a misguided mind, and his steadfastness results in the achievement of his dreams.

It is essential in any novel or movie for the readers/audience to understand whether or not the main character ultimately changes to adopt a new point of view or holds on to his beliefs.  Only then can the story provide a message that a particular point of view is (in the author’s opinion) the right or wrong way of thinking to achieve success and personal fulfillment.

But not all stories have happy endings.  Sometimes, the main character changes when he should have stuck with his guns in regard to his beliefs and becomes corrupted or diminished or fails to achieve his goals  A good example of this is in the movie The Mist(based on a Stephen King novel) in which the main character finally decides to give up on trying to find safety from monsters and shoots his son and surrogate family to save them from a horrible death only to have rescuers show up a moment later.

Other times, holding onto a belief system leads to tragic endings as well, as in Moby Dickin which the main character, Captain Ahab (Ishmael is the narrator), holds onto his quest for revenge until it leads to the death of himself and the destruction of his ship and the death of all his crew, save Ismael who lived to tell the tale.

Though writing is an organic endeavor, when you make specific decisions such as whether your main character will change or remain steadfast and what outcome that will bring about, you strengthen your message and provide a clear purpose to your storytelling that results in a strong spine in your novel or screenplay.

Melanie Anne Phillips


 

 

The Lake

lake2The last time I saw Charlie, he laughed as we drove into Crystal Springs Lake. I knew we would have hell to pay for sneaking out, but I never imagined how this fun evening would end.

Charlie and I were friends from the first grade. We were neighbors, and as adventurous boys, we spent every second together we could manage. We were as different as two people could be. I’m quiet and shy, and Charlie was the fellow that drew people to him like June bugs to a light. Maybe it was his good looks with his coal black hair and that cleft in his chin. He was muscular, athletic and all the girls flirted with him every chance they got. He didn’t care. The only thing he wanted besides our friendship was the full football scholarship at Harvard.

We had a good time throughout school. As this was our last year at Grady High School there was a lot of pressure on Charlie to perform. He actually did it to himself, but if I tried to talk to him, he wouldn’t listen. “Charlie, you have to lighten up a bit. You can’t go on at the pace you’re going. It’s been weeks since we’ve done anything together. You study and practice football. Take time to relax. Quit worrying about that entrance exam. You have it aced.”

“Sure, I do, but it doesn’t feel like it. I feel like everything inside of me is about to explode. I have to keep pushing myself to keep the pressure down, but I’m ready for something different. I’ll listen to you just because you’re my best friend and I love you like a brother. What do you want to do?” Charlie asked.

I had to think of something we would enjoy together and take the pressure off of him. “I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to the lake after dark and go skinny dipping. We haven’t done that in a long time.”

“Are you crazy?” Charlie asked. “We haven’t been skinny dipping since we were twelve years old.”

“Yeah, I know, and it’ll be fun. Just like old times.  What do you say?”

We were both laughing, and Charlie said “Let’s do it. I want to be twelve again and forget all about school and football. I’ll be at your house at 7:00 and you can drive.”

“Sounds good to me. I don’t mind driving at all, and I’ll even bring us snacks and cold drinks. See you then.”

I left his room and went back to my house. I got everything ready and packed it in my car. Since my mom and dad weren’t home, I left them a note so they wouldn’t worry about me. Charlie was at my door promptly at 7:00.

It was a great drive out to the lake. We had the windows down and the radio up. We were laughing, singing and shouting at the top of our lungs as we drove to our spot. We were trying our best to be twelve-year-olds again.

It was dark when we arrived, but we didn’t care. We unloaded the car and set up our blanket right at the edge of the lake. It wasn’t the first time we had swum in the dark. I brought two flashlights, but we didn’t turn them on. We were happy. We liked this spot because we could dive into the lake. It was easy in and out of the water. We got rid of our clothes quickly and then laughed at each other as we stood there as naked as the day we were born.

Charlie slapped me on the back. “Are you ready? I am.” He backed up three steps and ran and dove into the lake. I jumped in feet first, as always. The water was cold and sent a shiver over my body. I didn’t hear Charlie laughing, so I looked around.  I didn’t see him. The lake was smooth as glass. I called his name. He never answered, so I climbed out of the lake slipped on my pants and got the lights. My hands shook so hard I had trouble turning on the lights. I shined the beams over the water, and I still couldn’t see him. I knew something was wrong.  I got my cell phone and called 911. I had a terrible time as I tried to get the words out to report Charlie missing.

I tried to sit but couldn’t stay still. I walked back towards the main road thinking I would meet the authorities. That was silly, it wouldn’t make them arrive any faster. I turned back towards the lake moving the beam of one of the flashlights around. What was that? I brought the light back to what looked like a sign. When the beam of light hit it, I got sick to my stomach. The sign read: No swimming until further notice. Alligator sighting today.

I’ve Finished, (sort of)

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One part of me is going hurray and celebrating but then another part is going, gosh, now I go publisher shopping and setting up more advertising. There is always something more to do with a book that is yet to be published.

Right now I am wanting Beta readers to read the book and give me an opinion on whether they would purchase the book or not. One part of my mind is going why wouldn’t anyone like a book that could teach them how to react and/or treat a bully at school.

I hear rave things about the book from my writing group, but then the devil on my shoulder starts talking and tells me it’s not true. They just say that so they can earn credit or because you said something nice about their writing. For me it’s a constant Dr. Jeckell and Mr. Hyde, depending on the time that you speak with me. I will persevere and this book will be published.

If you would like to read this book in word or PDF and give me an honest opinion, I would be happy to send it to you.  Just email me at shirley_mclain@yahoo.com and let me know.

Thomas Gomel FRONT

 

Here is a short story for you called “No Pain, Just Memories”

It’s rough being a girl, going through the teen years. Not a child but not an adult either. One minute you are silly with giggles. The next minute you are miserable with your heart feeling as if it’s broken in half. You’re not old enough to drink but you know that’s what a lot of people do when they have a broken heart.

My day started out so well due to the fact Mike called and wanted to see me. My heart was racing because I knew he was going to ask me to go steady. I could see the high school ring on my finger with tape wrapped around the shank to make it fit.

“Mom, can I go to town for a couple of hours? I want to go to Walmart to pick up some writing paper for school.”

“Have you got your ironing done? You can’t go anywhere until those clothes are taken care of,” Mom says in her I mean what I say voice.

“I’ve got two pieces left and they will be done before I go. Is it OK, can I go?”

“Alright, but you be home before you dad gets in from work.”

“Thanks, Mom,” I tried to keep the absolute joy out of my voice when I answered her. I get to see Mike today.

I hurried to finish the ironing so I could get ready for my anticipated visual idolization of Mike’s handsome face. He was such a dream. That blonde hair which fell into his eyes, oh those wonderful eyes with the longest lashes I’d seen in my life. They were so clear and such a bright color of blue. Even if I hadn’t loved all of him, I would love him for his eyes alone.

I managed to get dressed without changing clothes four times because I was in a hurry. I left the house in my old car that I drove back and forth to school that had a rotten floorboard. Even though the bus stopped at our front door, I was much too old to have to ride that bus with all those screaming, snotty-nosed kids.

I drove straight to the place where Mike was staying while he worked his summer job. I should’ve known something was wrong when he came outside instead of inviting me in as he’d always done before. I didn’t even get the hello kiss that was our custom. I had a fleeting thought something was going on, but I pushed it away.

“Hi, Mike. I got here as soon as I could. Mom made me finish my ironing before I could come to town.”

“Thanks for coming down. We need to talk,” Mike said. He walked me towards my car not saying anything.

When we got back to my car, I asked Mike, “What do we need to talk about?”

He looked down at me from those wonderful blue eyes and said. “I don’t think we should see each other anymore. My summer job is ending soon and I will be returning to school. Besides, there is someone else I want to date. I thought it was only fair that I tell you straight out.”

I kept my cool while he was talking but I could feel the tears begin to burn my eyes. I had the urge to scream, Who is the dirty, rotten, floozy that’s taken, my man? “OK, Mike, if that’s what you want. I understand. Thanks for being honest with me.” I got in my car as gracefully as I could and drove away. I didn’t get far before I was sobbing for my lost love.

As I looked back at that time, I wondered at how silly that young girl was. A girl’s first heartbreak is something she never forgets and an experience most of us have had to go through. I’m an old woman now and it’s as fresh today as it was then. No pain just memories.

I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I did writing it.  Have a blessed week  Shirley

New Book and A Short Story

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Thomas Gomel FRONT

I’ve got a new book coming out soon on Bullying. It’s called Thomas Gomel Learns about Bullying’.
It’s for ages 10 and above. I made up my own genre called educational fiction. Follow a young man through bullying at school and how it is dealt with. If you would like to be a pre-published reader, let me know. I want several people to read and edit the story to make sure it makes sense. Let me know. Shirley

Here is a 500-word story I wrote the other day called Happy Anniversary,

Happy Anniversary

My husband brought me to Tony’s place for a nightcap. Our night was perfect. I couldn’t https___i.cdn.tbs.com_assets_images_2017_04_two-broke-girls-s05ep16-pity-party-bus-1600x900-1600x900_091420160442wait to get home to ravish his hunky body. When we walked through the door, we looked around just to give our eyes time to adjust to the light. Mack excused himself leaving me to go to the bar alone.
I sat down two seats away from a woman I envied, and I didn’t even know her. Gorgeous from the top of her head to her manicured toes. We made eye contact which made me feel as if I needed to speak.

” Hi, how are you tonight? I’m Amanda.”

“Hello Amanda, I’m Jazelle. It’s nice to meet you.  Are you alone also?”

“No, my husband is with me.”

Unhappily Jazelle said, “My husband is away on a business trip. It’s our anniversary.”

“What a coincidence, it’s mine also. We can celebrate together. Cheer up. I’m sure you’ll have your man back in no time. Speaking of having your man back I wonder where mine is. He should be out of the John by now.”

We ordered two more drinks for ourselves, and I got another one for Mack when he got out of the bathroom.

“Jazelle, do you have a picture of your husband? I’ve one of Mack so I’ll hand you mine and you hand me yours. We’ll do a husband swap.” Both of us laughed as if we were doing a man swap. I pulled out my wallet, and she pulled out hers.  We both got our pictures out.

“Are you ready,” I asked, and we swapped pictures. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I looked at Jazelle, and her face was white. We asked together. “How did you get a picture of Mack/Elliott?”

“What is this Amanda? You have a picture of my husband, Elliott?” Jazelle asked.

I couldn’t answer her, so I did the next best thing. I asked the bartender to please go into the men’s restroom to check on my husband. He gave me a “who do you think I am” look and left the bar.

“Jazelle, that is a picture of my husband and so is the one in my hand. I don’t know what is going on, but when Mack gets out of the restroom, I promise I’ll find out.”  We placed the matching pictures on the bar and picked up our drinks. They were put down empty.

“Excuse me, there ain’t no one in the men’s bathroom,” the barman said.

“What, that can’t be,” I shouted.

“Lady, I checked every stall. He ain’t there.”

“It looks like you’ve been abandoned just as I have,” Jazelle said. “Don’t you think it’s strange we’re at the same bar, with the same anniversary, with pictures of the same man? Something stinks here.”

“I think we should go to the police,” I told her.  “What do you think?”

We were out of Tony’s in a flash!

 


Recognized

The Workaholic (Short Story)

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Hello, everyone, I wrote this a couple of days ago and thought I would share it. It is a story about a man who let work rule his life. I hope you enjoy it.   Shirley

 

The Workaholic

 

James stood by the large picture windows, gazing over the open fields, to the purple-tinged mountains beyond. Darkness would be coming soon and with it a storm. He flinched as a crack of lightning split the murky sky. He turned and threw another log on the open fire, sending a flurry of ash into the air. He refilled his whiskey glass and took a deep sip. He savored the taste as it warmed his throat. He was trying to build up the courage to make that phone call he had been putting off all day. He reached for the phone just as it started to ring.

His heart began to pound as he grabbed for the receiver. The tentative nature of his voice was heard clearly as he murmured, “Hello.”

“Hello, James, this is Edmond from Buying Direct and do I have a deal for you.”

“What, oh hell, don’t call again,” he shouted as he slammed the receiver down. I’m not calling her. She is the one who left. His mind immediately went back to a week ago when he came home after being gone for two weeks and found her and the kids were gone. He was expecting his two-year-old daughter to start screaming “daddy” as soon as she realized he was home, and his five-year-old son starts asking to go out back and play catch. So much for expectations. What he got was an empty house with a note left on the dining room table. He’d memorized every word since he’d read it so many times.

James, I’ve taken the kids and moved out. I’ve tried to talk to you many times, but you kept putting me off or not listening at all. You can’t stay away from home for weeks and expect me to handle the house, the kids, the bills and that dog of yours. Don’t bother calling Mom’s because I’m not going there. If I want to talk to you, which I doubt. I will call you. April

After reading the note, James made his bar area his most favorite spot in the house. The drinking began the day he got home and has only stopped when he passes out on the couch. Normally he is fastidious about his appearance but not this week. He looks like a drunk on skid row. His facial hair now has six days’ growth, not to mention the hair on his head is greasy. He’s not removed his clothes since he walked through the door. They smell like body odor and wet dog scent and are very wrinkled.

The storm rumbling outside enhanced James’s angry mood. He couldn’t believe, after all, the years they’d been together, and as hard as he worked, she left. She can stay gone. I don’t need her, and I will fight for custody of the kids. She’s not going to get away with doing this to our family. James picked up his glass from the coffee table poured himself another glass of Crown Royal over rocks. He’d lost count of the number of times he’d filled his glass.

“Come here, Brutus. You will be my family. Won’t you boy? You love me don’t you? We don’t need her.” The Mastiff shook his head slinging saliva on the coffee table before he jumped up to lay beside James on the couch. James began to rub Brutus’s head and ears. “You’re such a good boy. You won’t leave me, will you?”

 

“You know, Old Boy, I have to go back to work on Monday. I don’t think I can go back to Raleigh and leave you here. I’ll give my boss a call tomorrow and tell him I can’t abandon you. I’m sure he’ll understand. There’s no way I’m leaving you here. She’ll be sorry she left us. You wait and see.”

The phone rang again but this time, James was too inebriated to care who was on the phone. He picked up the phone and slurred “Hello.”

“James, it’s April.”

“Yeah, what do you want?”

“The kids want to talk to you, but I can hear in your voice this is not a good time.”

“Why in the hell would you care what kind of time it is. You’re not here. You took them and ran away.”

“Sober up James if you want to talk to the kids. Goodbye”

The phone clicked, and she was gone. He didn’t even bother to hang it up before he laid down on the couch and passed out.

This is Blatant Advertising

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Colorful Tapestry of Words2

How do you feel about authors advertising their books any and everywhere they can? I am one of those people. I’m an author, and I try to take advantage of every opportunity I come across to tell someone about my books.

Even if I am an author, I get tired sometimes of seeing so many ads on Facebook and Twitter, which is certainly two-faced of me. I can’t have it both ways. There’s one side of me that wants to see things I can read about a fascinating subject not another “look at my book, see me.”
Since I’ve said how I feel, let me share the link to my latest book with you and also offer tips on how to possibly market a book. Here’s my link. Have a look and if you would like to do an Amazon review, I will send you one free for an honest review.  http://amzn.to/1Xogylz

Here are some book marketing tips taken from an article on Author Media by Caitlin Muir.
89+ Book Marketing Ideas That Will…
Increase your web presence:
Create a testimonial page on your website
Add the free My Book Progress plugin to your WordPress website to update your visitors about the status of your upcoming book.
Retweak the SEO on your site
Ask fans to post their reviews on your Facebook page
Ask fans to post their reviews on Amazon
Ask fans to post their reviews on Goodreads
Sign up for Twitter
Clean up your social footprint
Create an author FB page and use it instead of your profile
Sign up for Google Authorship
Offer bloggers advanced reading copies
Go on an online book tour
Create a book launch team
Host Q+A sessions on Google+
Create Facebook Friday videos
Register as an author on Amazon
Register as an author on Goodreads
Create a book trailer
Add the free My Book Table plugin to your WordPress website to boost book sales.
Create a hashtag for your next book
Build your fan base:
Start an FB campaign to increase your fans
Start a Google Campaign to increase traffic to your site
Start a controversial web series
Link up with other writers for your controversial web series
Start weekly Twitter chats with readers
Keyword your blog posts
Create a monthly newsletter
Create an affiliate program
Host-guest bloggers
Become a guest blogger
Create business cards with your web address on them and hand them out
Put your photo on your business card for stronger branding
Start commenting on other blogs (early and often)
Host regular author hangouts on Google+
Host regular author interviews on Google+
Record your Google+ hangouts and put them on YouTube
Get social media coaching
Cultivate Community:
Create an online community with a forum
Say thank you to readers with special incentives for being a fan
Ask your reading community to design merchandise for your store
Create a fan page for your main character (works well if they are in a series)
Ask fans to create their own book trailers and post them online
Offer core fans advanced copy of future books
Ask fans to post pictures of “character spottings.”
Offer “extra features” on your website
Use Twitter hashtags
Poll your readers and listen to what they say
Answer all your blog comments
Engage with your fans on FB
Ask your fans to post pictures of them reading your book
Make some extra money:
Repackage old blog posts and sell them as an e-book
Join an affiliate program
Speak on the core topic of your book
Become a content writer
Host paid webinars
Freelance with niche magazines
Sell ads on your website
Sell ads in your newsletter
Write a new ebook tailored to your fans
Mentor another writer
Become an Amazon Affiliate (and use MyBookTable)
Offer customizable ebooks for readers
Sell your book on your site, not just Amazon
Tweetables:
The @AuthorMedia crew just gave me 89 free book marketing ideas. Watch out the world! – click to tweet.
My sales should spike soon. I’m going to try out some of the book marketing suggestions from @AuthorMedia. – click to tweet.
89 Book Marketing Ideas That Will Change Your Life. Try one today! – click to tweet.
Have you tried any of these marketing tips from @AuthorMedia? They look great! – click to tweet.
Dang. I needed book marketing ideas, and I found 89 of them via @AuthorMedia. – click to tweet.
If you write books, you should look at this list ASAP. Unless you are my competitor. – click to tweet.
Need some book marketing ideas? One of these ideas should do the trick! – click to tweet.
Build your brand offline
Write a Press Release
Ask to be interviewed by your local paper
Ask to be interviewed by the paper your book is set in
Ask to be interviewed by the local radio host
Ask to be interviewed on the local morning show (read this article first)
Partner with a band that has the same cause as you
Go on a physical book tour
Start thinking local
Sell themed merchandise (Think “Team Edward” shirts)
Rent a billboard
Host a book release party
Link with an activity that supports your cause and sell your book there
Create a viral video about a scene from your book
Find a Place To Give a Book Reading:
Your local coffee shop
A hospital
A retirement community
A rehabilitation center
A local church
A locally owned bookstore
The library (try the five closest to your house)
The local community college
A school
Wherever the main setting of your book is
Google+
Videos you upload to Facebook
Goodreads
Discover where to donate your book (and make new fans):
Women’s shelters
VA hospitals
Homeless shelters
Children’s hospitals
Retirement homes
The five closest libraries to your house
The library in your hometown
Summer camp
Community libraries at coffee shops
The local community college library
The libraries in the town where the book was set in
BookCrossing.com
Local B&B’s
Local motels
Prisons
Church libraries
Rehab centers
Cruise ship libraries
Doctor’s offices
Community centers
Senior Centers
Become an expert:
Listen to the Novel Marketing Podcast.
Get active on LinkedIn
Write Op-Ed pieces on the core message of your story
Write freelance pieces on the core message of your story and pitch to niche publications
Give lectures on the core message of your story
Host webinars with other experts
Create a series of web-videos interviewing experts on the core message of your story
Make sure your author about me page is interesting and relevant
Create a Meetup group
Have any book marketing tips you’d like to add to the list? Leave them in the comment section.

The Market (Flash Fiction)

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This is a flash fiction that is based on a picture taken by Mathew Wright for a challenge he does weekly. I decided to try my hand at it this week. This is the address to his blog if you would like to check out more about him. https://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com/2015/09/22/this-weeks-mega-short-story-challenge-10/

Let me know what you think of the story.  Blessings    Shirley

***

jams and jelley

“Who is the girl you have working the jams and jellies table at the market? Jack, I know what’s going on, so don’t bother denying it.”

“April, you’re crazy. I work as hard as you do to get this market going and all you can do is accuse me of things I don’t do. Why are you doing this?”

“What are you talking about. You try to turn things around on me and I’m not having it anymore. I stand over this hot stove day after day while you go and play with the playmate of the week.”

“I’m going back to the market. I’ll see you tonight when I get home. Maybe you’ll have cooled down by then.” Jack left the kitchen shaking his head and headed back to the market.

April watched as the car left the driveway. She went to the phone and punched in a number. “Hi, it’s me. He’s heading back to the market. I feel the same way.”

Two hours passed since the fight. Police came to the door and notified April her husband was dead. She cried hysterically. The female officer stayed until she calmed down. She asked April if she wanted a phone call made and April refused. She pulled herself together and assured the officer she’d be okay. Then she was alone. April went to the bedroom and pulled the suitcase from under the bed. I’m Kazakhstan bound. She left through the front door singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Short Story: Darius Figgaro, Legends of the Shoemaker

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I wanted to share a short story out of my book Shirley’s Short’s and Flashes. It is a fantasy/mystery story. It’s not long and I hope you enjoy it.   Shirley

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“I swear it’s true, every single word.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Giorgio, I’m unable to accept your statement. What made you think a story so far-fetched, would be believed?”

“Why would I lie about something that could cost me my life, Detective Johnson? That man died just as I said he did. I’m an honest man, and I do not lie.”

Detective Johnson got up from the table and walked from one corner of the room to the other. He couldn’t get his brain around the story that Mr. Giorgio was telling. “Do you care if I smoke, Mr. Giorgio?”

“No, I don’t care, Detective.”

“Thank you. Now let’s stop the formality. I’ve known you all of my life. You call me Peter, and I’ll call you, um, um. I don’t know your first name. I’ve never called you anything but Mr. Giorgio.”

Mr. Giorgio smiled as he listened to Peter. “Peter, my first name is Tony. Actually, it’s Antonio, but everyone calls me Tony. I guess it’s easier to remember.”

“May I call you, Tony? I’m sure I will fall back into old habits and call you Mr. Giorgio, but I’ll do my best to call you by your name. Ok, let’s start from the beginning, once again. Don’t leave anything out.”

“I haven’t left out anything, yet. Peter, there is more to this world than what’s here in Summerton. Things people have no idea is happening in this world. Have you ever heard of Darius Figgaro?”

“No, I can’t say I have. Is that the guy’s name we found in your shop?”

“No, I don’t know who that man was. Darius was from the third century BC and a shoemaker as I am. He lived in a small village, in Armenia. He was known everywhere for his excellent shoes. In fact, he was so talented he was chosen to make shoes for the God’s as an offering, when the festival happened, in a few months. Aramazd, and his attendant, Grogh were made boots. For Aramzd’s son, Mehr, he made the softest, kid, leather shoes, and finally for the Goddess Anahit, he made slippers from a new shiny material from China created by worms. Nothing was finer in the entire world.”

“If anything was going to bring the town prosperity, it would be Darius Figgaro’s shoes. The God’s would certainly think of Artashavian as their favorite place. The village leaders were so confident in their plan, they already had a sign made for outside of town. In large red letters, it read: Artasavian, home of the God’s shoes.”

“You’re kidding, towns back in the third century BC didn’t put up signs.”

“How do you know, Peter? Were you there? People are remarkably resourceful, no matter when or where they lived. Think about the pyramids in Egypt, or the great lighthouse in Alexandria. All through the ages, people have accomplished exciting and beautiful things. Now back to my story. Are you going to interrupt me anymore?”

“I’m not planning to,” remarked Peter.

“The time for the great festival of the gods arrived in Artashavian. You could palpate the excitement in the air. Everyone was happier and looking forward to the three days of fun and homage to their gods. Darius’s excitement ended abruptly when he went to gather his offering and found the shoe cupboard empty. I know I put those shoes in this cupboard. What am I going to do now? Darius sat on his cobbler’s bench and prayed to the gods to help him find his offering. A loud booming voice sounded in Darius’s head.

“Darius sweep the floor using your new broomstick.”

Darius stood as he thought a moment where his new broom was located. Once he thought of the location, he walked to his back porch and grabbed the broom. “Ok, god, I have the broom, and I am obeying you even though I don’t know what good sweeping the floor will do.”

Sweeping the dirt floor was not an easy thing to do. You had to sweep but not stir up the dust and yet sweep aggressively enough to remove the debris on the floor. Sometimes Darius would place a course woven material down on the floor is he could buy the yardage at a cheap enough price. It’s been awhile since he purchased any, so his floor was bare.

He swept the center out of the floor but then decided he’d best do the corners. There’s a box here. I don’t remember this. When Darius looked inside the box, he yelled aloud, “Thank You, thank you.” There were all of the god’s boots and shoes. Tomorrow I will present them as my offering to the gods.

Before sunrise, the next morning, Darius gathered his box of shoes and headed to the temple. He felt fantastic and had extra energy. It was a glorious day. There were other people gathered at the temple also. Sunrise was the appointed time for giving of gifts. If your gift was accepted by the gods, you received a special blessing. Darius was hoping they would give him continued good health so he could continue to make his shoes.

Just as the sun was coming over the horizon, Darius placed his offering on the altar. The ground shook and lightning streaked the sky. Woman were screaming and running away, but Darius stood his ground. He looked at the altar, and his offering was gone. Everyone else’s was still there. What does this mean? Have I displeased them with my offering?”

“You have not displeased us, Darius. You have used your talents to make a personal offering to us. Because you have pleased us so much, we are going to bless you for each pair of shoes you made. Kneel Darius facing the sun.”

Darius was on his knees with the sun shining brightly on his face. He heard a female voice call his name. “Darius, my slippers are magnificent and feel glorious on my feet. For this, you shall have eternal life. You will continue to share your shoes with all you meet. Everyone will want a pair of your shoes. My child’s feet are protected with the soft leather of his shoes. Because you have given him protection, I shall keep you safe.”

“Thank you, Goddess, for your blessing. I could not ask anything more. I will continue to work and make my shoes”, Darius said.

“You shall prosper through your work,” Grogh commanded. “You shall never go without food or beautiful housing.”

Aramazd asked Darius if there was anything else he desired. Darius declined. “Then go, Darius, knowing you will be protected, have a long life and will be sharing your shoes with the world for all time.”

Darius bowed his head as the bright light was removed from his face. He stood, not quite believing what occurred. “I’ve been blessed. What more could I want in this world.”

When Tony finished his story, he looked at Peter and asked, “Do you understand now?”

“Understand what? You told me a fairy tale that has nothing to do with the man’s body in your shop.”

“You are no different than the thousands of other people I have told my story to. You go through this life thinking you know everything, and you actually don’t know anything at all. I can’t explain it any further than what I already have. You have to open your mind, and actually listen to what I said.”

“I don’t have enough evidence to hold you for the man’s murder. I’m going to let you return home but do not try to leave town.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Peter. I will be at my shop working on some shoes. I have a particular order from the Pope. He likes his kid, soft leather shoes.” Tony left the room, heading back to his shop.

Peter kept running Tony’s story around in his mind. Maybe when I hear from the Coroner’s office everything will fall into place. Returning to his office, Peter pulled out the evidence folder on the dead man. It was empty, not one thing to go on so far.

“Peter, the Coroner’s Office is on line 1.”

“Thanks, Sam. Hello, Doc, what do you have for me? You are kidding me, not one thing. What was the cause of death? Heart failure, so it’s natural causes. Sure, I’ll let the prosecutor know about the findings. Thanks, Doc, for the info.” Shaking his head, Peter couldn’t believe it all meant nothing. He knew he wanted to talk to Tony again about the Legend of the shoemaker and to tell him about the findings.

When Peter opened the door to go into the shop, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The room was empty. Not one shoe or even a sign anyone had been in the building. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling corners, with thick dust on the windowsill. A desk sat up against the wall. It was polished to a brilliant shine and had a paper lying on top. When Peter walked over to the desk and looked down at the paper, it made him take in a deep breath, before reaching down to pick it up. His name was printed on the folded paper. He opened the document, and he knew his world would never be the same. It read I am Darius.