A CAUTIONARY TALE
Cook County General… Chicago, Illinois… Room 317… 11:30p.m.
Everything hurt. Cheryl looked at her friend and that’s what she saw. And that is what she would probably say when she awoke.
It had all started with that damn PennySaver ad. “Why waste money on a repairman when You can fix it?” “Let us show you the easy way to Do-It-Yourself!” She had told Ethel there was no easy way, and that a few online classes wouldn’t make her an expert on fixing things. But Ethel had replaced the cord on her window shade and fixed her blender, though she was out of her protein shake phase, so she had to give her credit for that.
Earlier that day, Cheryl had just fixed lunch and was going to watch the Big Brother episode she had recorded when the phone rang.
“Is this Miss Cheryl?”
“Hi Dominic, why are you calling me?”
“It’s Miss Ethel. She is going to hospital and you should know.”
Cheryl shifted in her chair and continued filling out the crossword in the Trib. ‘What the hell was Ethel thinking? Well this should teach that do-gooder a lesson. Let the landlord fix the damn dryer.’ Cheryl immediately felt sorry for that thought. ‘But really, any damn fool knows you unplug something before working on it. It says so on the back of the machine. Maybe they didn’t teach that in their fix-it class.’
The nurse had looked grave when Cheryl got to the hospital. Nurse Betty explained that her friend had received a serious electrical shock, but was expected to live. She was sedated and would sleep for sometime, they would call when she was awake. The doctor hoped there would be no lasting effects, but you never know. Cheryl thanked her, and said she would wait with Ethel, if that was okay. ‘It would serve her right if she got one of those white streaks in her hair like Angela Lansbury had in that movie.’
Cheryl was wishing there was another bed in the room when Ethel moaned, stirred and her eyes popped open.
“Where am I? What are you doing here?”
“I’m doing my crossword while I wait for you to wake up. Your dryer repair job didn’t go so well. Do you remember what happened? How do you feel?”
“Ooh, everything hurts.”
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The Speakeasy is back from summer vacation!
- Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
- Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
- The following sentence must be the FIRST line in your submission: “Everything hurt.”
- You must also include a reference to the media prompt.
A RIDE AROUND THE CITY… by Ula Grace
The wind rushes through my hair as if in a hurry. We breeze down the ocean side highway in our neon pink Caddy at the start of our tour of Havana.
Our first stop is the Hotel Nacional, a hotel built in the 30’s and famous for housing people like Al Capone and others. We speed toward our next destination: Vedado. On the opposite side of Havana as Old Havana, otherwise known as Habana Viejo in Spanish. Next the Plaza de la Revolucion, with the black outlines of Cuba’s greatest now dead heroes: Ché Guevara and Camlio Cienfuegos. Below Ché there is his famous quote “Hasta la Victoria Siempre” (in English “For Victory, Always”).
We leave the plaza and drive onward. My favorite place is next: The John Lennon Park. I had been waiting to go here throughout the whole drive. We arrive at the park to find dry, scraggly, yellow grass and burning bronze benches, one of which a bronze statue is lounging with the words “Ustede puede decir que soy soñador pero no soy el único” (in English “You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one”). I rush out of the car to sit next to my Idol for a picture, but I have to sit on my bag because the bench is too hot. As we reach the bench we are met by an old man holding a pair of eyeglasses for the bronze John. He carefully places the glasses on the statue and waits for us to finish taking pictures. As we walk back to the car, I look back and smile to see how carefully the little old glasses man handles the little bronze glasses.
We go next to a lush green park and stop for a beverage. When we leave I decide to sit on the back of the seat and my auntie Krissy sits up with me. We ride like that to our next stop: a green house that my mom specially requested to see. But we couldn’t go inside. To end our tour, our guide took us through a tunnel under the ocean to a castle. All in all it was a fantastic tour in a ridiculous car and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Another installment from our Foreign Correspondent, Ula Grace, as she recalls her visit to Cuba with her parents Krista and Steve.
To see other stories… THE CUBAN DIARY
ANTIQUING… A Drabble for FriFic
Somewhere on Maxwell Street… Chicago’s South Side…
“Come on, Cheryl, where’s your sense of adventure?”
“It’s dirty and gross here!”
“Wait till you see it. It’s beautiful. An antique!”
“Old and dirty does not antique make, Ethel. You know I don’t like used.”
“Get off your damn high horse. Besides, there’s pork chop sandwiches, don’t try to tell me you won’t like those.”
“That’s the only reason I came. Where’s this chest of yours? Stop! Wait a minute… I love this!!”
“But, it’s old and dirty, plus the glass is cracked, Cheryl.”
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Ethel.”
HOT STUFF… A Drabble for FriFic
In a brownstone three flights up… the sound of food being spit out.
“Good God, Ethel, what the hell is this?”
“It’s my new ‘culinary de force’, Cheryl. I’m bringing excitement to my cooking.”
“Excitement! Inedible, it’s so damn hot. I hope you meant ‘du jour’, because I don’t want to taste that again. And, don’t pull that pouty face with me! What did you put in that soup?”
“It’s my new thing. ‘Rooster Sauce!'”
Ethel proudly displays a bottle of Sriracha.
“Rooster sauce my ass, Ethel. There should be a Dragon on that label. One word… ‘Moderation'”
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I recently received this photograph in the mail. Jesús Joglar, who specializes in pinhole photography sent it to me from Barcelona, Spain. I was involved in a postcard exchange and was delighted when this month’s postcardpal sent me such an interesting print. I was going to post the photo on my photoblog, but thought it really should be on TedBook for all to see. Here is the information Jesús furnished describing the photo.
Enclosed please find a contact copy of my pinhole photograph entitled ‘horru’, the name of the raised granary, a typical way of keeping the food (corn grain, pork cured meat, etc.) in Asturias, a region in the North coast of Spain where I come from.
I made it with a Zero Image 45 pinhole camera with a pinhole ø of 0.28 mm, a focal length of 50 mm, what gives an f/176 and <116˚ using 4×5 black&white Fomapan 200 [ISO 200] film with an exposition time of 10 sec. I developed in homebrewed Ilford ID-11 stock at 20˚ C for 6 min [12 sec 0 / 1 min] and made the contact copy in Ilford Multigrade IV RD De LUXE Pearl.
I hope you like it! With warm regards… Jesús Joglar
Well, I not only like it… I love it and am going to frame it and hang it on my wall with other works of art. I have no idea what Jesús said in his second paragraph, but I imagine my photographer pals Joan Benney and Jaime Powell Shepard will be all over it. The only pinhole photographer I know is Fiona Small here in Friday Harbor… a talented artist and actress, and one of my favorite people to photograph at the County Fair.
To see a bit of Spain and learn more about Jesús Joglar’s Pinhole Photography… LIGHT THROUGH A HOLE
A DRABBLE POLITICK… with apologies to my friend Björn Rudberg (a real poet)
“Oh no, something is out-of-order I fear!”
“What possibly can be wrong, Father Dear?”
“You are leaning to the Right,
Your education has a Blight.”
“But, I’m graduating Today,
I must make my own Way.”
“Why can you not See,
That you should follow Me?”
“Because you see Blue and I see Red,
Does not mean I’m off in the Head.”
“Oh no, your mind is Fine,
I just mean, your path should be Mine.”
“Father, if Truth be Told,
Your ways be Old.”
Dear Daughter, I thought you would be Arty,
What is with this Tea Party?”
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Well… Where did This come from??? I don’t write poetry. But I’m always inspired when I read Björn Rudbergs Writings, a must for all Poesyphiles.
Of course, the photo of where I am sure Jennifer Pendergast walked the ‘Hallowed Halls’… not sure if it’s Oxford or Cambridge… was the inspiration.
For other stories about Jen’s photo… FRIDAY FICTIONEERS
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
‘Seven plus seventeen equals twenty-four, a nice round number, I like that.’ Bendel Banks was on her way to the public library to change her life. Bendel hated her life. Bendel hated her name. She blamed her misfortune on her parents, who had named her Bendel Banks. Her mother had been a big fan of alliteration, and Bendel had paid the price all her life.
People called her “Bendy” and then, “Hey, there goes BeeBee!” She always thought that sounded like two honeybees stuck together. Little Teddy had first called her that. Their friend Grant thought it should be BB, like the shot in their air-rifles. Grant and Little Teddy had always been her best friends, but now they were gone. They had carried those BB guns everywhere and took great delight in shooting each other. Once they shot Bendel… she told, and that was the end of the guns. She didn’t mind so much when they called her BB, but hated it when others did, or worse Bendy. ‘Now’, she thought , ‘everyone should just call me Biddy, because that’s what I’ve become, an old biddy.’
Bendel was unhappy, friendless and in a job she hated. All because of her unfortunate alliterated name. She spent her free time on-line now, where she did not have to see people. Upon reading a self-help blog entitled “You Too Can Change Your Life… In Seven Easy Steps”, she decided to try Step One. She would change her name. No one would ever call her Bendy again. Things would change, and she could be a new woman, the blog said so.
Going up the granite steps, Bendel felt a lift in her spirits, maybe it was starting to work already. She pushed through the ornate brass door into the hushed interior and asked the woman at the information desk where the baby name books could be found. She had planned to open a baby name book to a page, close her eyes and stick her finger on a name. But, being a big fan of numerology, she decided to take today’s date and use that. It was July 17th, so her number would be 24. She also decided that she would use whatever name it turned out to be, no matter what.
Bendel picked out ‘Modern Baby Names’, closed her eyes and opened to a page. She held her breath and counted down twenty-four names… BETTY! Her new name would be ‘Betty’.
‘Great, so much for getting rid of alliteration. But, I like Betty, and Betty Banks has a nice sound, and I absolutely adore Betty Boop. I feel better already!’
Bendel… Betty replaced the book on the shelf. Making her way through the stacks, she felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. People were smiling at her. The woman at the desk said “So nice to meet you, please come again soon.” As she got to the exit, a gentleman held the door for her and winked. Leaving her old life inside, Betty went outside. She never looked back, she just kept walking.
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I enjoyed writing this story. With such an excellent line it work with and a very cool short film, the story just came to me somehow. Be sure to watch the film below and read the story of last week’s winner. Here are this week’s instructions from The Speakeasy Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Purkis:
technology is a tool
And you should use your tools wisely, right? This week’s sentence prompt, provided by last week’s winner,Ted, must be used as the LAST line in your piece.
“She never looked back, she just kept walking.”
Submissions must be 750 words or fewer, and must be fiction or poetry. You must also include a reference to the media prompt.
The video prompt is a short film by Claude Sadik, entitled The Device, which you will find below.
Please visit The Speakeasy and read the other author’s stories… tell ‘em “Ted sent me!”.
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In the photograph, I am on the left and my friend Grant is in on the right. I do not know who the little girl is… she may be my cousin Carol, but I don’t know for sure.
TWO OLD BIRDS IN A PHOTO BOOTH… A Drabble
“Cheryl!!!” (said in a whisper)
“What???” (a whisper back)
“What am I supposed to do?” (still whispering)
“What the hell are you talking about, Ethel? Why are we whispering?” (a little louder)
“I’ve never done anything like this before. (still whispering)
“Stop whispering, dammit. It’s a photo booth for God’s sake!!! What did you think we were doing?” (increasing louder)
“I know it’s a photo booth, Cheryl! I’ve just never done it before. Where do I look?” (normal tone)
“Here, where it says ‘Put Eyes At This Line’!!!” (very loud)
“Now what do I do?” (normal voice)
a light flashes…
My Aussie pal Katherine is obsessed with photo strips. In fact so much so, she writes a fascinating blog called Photobooth Journal... which I just love. She asked me if I would create a story using one of her photo strips, and sent me the 2 photo strip above. Could the ladies in the strip be Ethel and Cheryl??? Who knows, but for today… they will be.
Now, I just got done reading a delightfully wicked story called Sebastian and the Night Visitors, at The Wizard’s Word. It was written for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups. I checked 100WCGU out, and this week’s prompt just clicked with Katherine’s strip.
“OF COURSE NOT, SILLY!”
“Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy, unblinking eyes.” Her last words. She has been in a catatonic state since that day.
Elizabeth Grace had been a promising designer, and her sudden decline had been most disturbing to friends and colleagues.
After graduation, she had taken a position at Albrecht’s Department Store, as an assistant window dresser. She fared well under the tutelage of Miss Bethany, and advanced to first assistant in just months. Feathers had been ruffled.
It was just after Albrecht’s shipment of new mannequins arrived that it began. Elizabeth started talking to the old ones. People noticed. She had not done that before.
Hammered by younger hipper stores and internet shopping, Albrecht’s Department Store had been in decline for years, something had to be done. When Oswalt Albrecht III came on board, all department heads had been instructed to find new ways to bring in shoppers, or look elsewhere for employment. In Display, it was Elizabeth who suggested that changing to more stylish models would certainly bring in younger shoppers. “After all”, she said “they have been here since my grandmother was a child. Besides, they’re falling apart. I had to use one of the men’s hands on a lady, to hold her purse.” Oswalt III thought that was a great idea and authorized a sizable expenditure. Miss Bethany was pleased she would keep her job, and put Elizabeth in charge of all floor displays.
Oswalt III loved the look of the new mannequins, with their sleek unstaring faces, but could not bear to part with the old ones. “Save the old ones. I feel I know each one personally, and could not bear to see them go.” Oswalt II had grown up with them too, but was more pragmatic, since storage space was limited. “Save two dummies and all the heads.” So, the display heads were lined up on top shelves around the workroom, and the two old mannequins set in a nostalgic display. A different set of feathers had been ruffled.
Elizabeth took her new position seriously, and could be found working late most nights. Displays were constantly being changed and mannequins dressed and redressed. No one could remember when the voices had started, but sometimes it seemed a violent argument could be heard coming from the display office. When one peeked their head in the door, only Elizabeth would be found, deep in concentration at some task. Miss Bethany was thrilled that Elizabeth had taken charge, it had made her life so much easier. When the voices started, she became concerned. The girls had always named the dummies, and she could only imagine how many different names those old mannequins must have had over the years. Even old Oswalt had his favorites, and called some of them by name. But Elizabeth had taken the relationship to a new level. Miss Bethany knew she talked to them, and swore she had heard them being asked for their advice. But try as hard as she might, she could not catch her. When she asked point-blank, Elizabeth smiled and said “Of course not, Silly!” Miss Bethany had never been called silly, but was not going to press the point, since she had been given a raise and was smart enough to know how she got it. She also was not going to criticize the condition of the work room, which had gotten seemingly messier.
Suzanne in Children’s was the first to notice. Little things at first. A sweater here or skirt there askew on a dummy. Made right, it would be back that way the next day, exactly the same way. Then the switching started. Suzanne asked Mr. Silverleaf, in Men’s, if he had noticed anything strange, he said “Well I wasn’t going to say anything, but if you have seen it too.” They went over to Teen’s and checked with Jessica. Jessica suggested they talk to security, as it had to be happening at night. Mr. Kumar was not aware of any strange goings on, but agreed to have the night guy keep an eye on the displays.
When the mannequins in the windows started losing their clothes the whole store was on alert. And then, the positions of the dummies started changing.
It was Eric who found her. The workroom was in shambles with heads strewn everywhere, their eyes pried out. Elizabeth was in the center staring down, her body shaking, calling their names.
The Challenge is by Editor Suzanne at Apoplectic Apostrophes: “This week’s sentence prompt, provided by last week’s winner, Bethany, must be used as the FIRST line in your piece. Reference must also be made to the media prompt, a painting by Albrecht Dürer… Portrait of Oswalt Krel, who was a merchant for the Ravensburg House in Nuremberg from 1495 to 1503.”
To read other stories on this week’s prompt, go to… THE SPEAKEASY
Well, I am in shock…