“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…
LET’S SMILE!… a Drabble for FriFic
“Let’s take a usie.”
“Please, not the iPhone again!”
“Come on Cheryl, it’ll be fun.”
“Ever since you got that thing, you’ve been taking pictures of everything you eat and everywhere you go. Who needs that many pics of your face.”
“You should get one instead of that flip phone, it’s the fashionable thing you know. Then you can send selfies too.”
“Let me guess, a usie is a selfie of us, right?”
“Bingo, Cheryl, now scoot over here.”
“Why can’t the waitress take it?”
“Then it wouldn’t be a usie!”
“Okay, for crying out loud, I give up.”
Author’s Note: I had not planned to write anything like this when I saw the photo prompt. But then I saw that USIE had entered urban slang… you can substitute me for Ethel and my daughters for Cheryl in the above story.
Sandra Crook haunts the waterways of France in her canal boat and writes at Castelsarrison, she provided this pic to prompt the Friday Fictioneers. More stories from Rochelle’s Flock can be found here > > >
I was honored to be a contributor to Katherine’s fascinating blog. I hope my friends will take a look and enjoy her work. If you have any old strips around, think about sharing them with her… and the world. Now I have to figure out how to tell Cheryl I did this… but judging by the first comments, I don’t think she will mind.
I thought I would share this reblog with my friends at The Still, to introduce them to a most interesting blog by a friend Down Under… perhaps you too would like to share with her… check out her blog, and start digging through those old forgotten treasures and share them with Katherine at Photobooth Journal
p.s. I have heard from Cheryl… she remembered the Rainbow Club and didn’t mind at all…
Originally posted on Photobooth Journal:
One of the more exciting, and for me, unexpected aspects of being a blogger is the amount of enthusisam and generosity that comes to my inbox out of the blue and from all around the world. I have recently started following a blog by Ted Strutz of Friday Harbor, Wasington State in the San Juan Islands, USA. The blog is called TedBook and has some very amusing conversational short stories that I encourage you to check out. Ted emailed me the above photos and the following history a couple of days ago –
When I lived in Chicago in the 80’s and early 90’s, there was a bar called the Rainbow Room. It was quite large with a big horseshoe shaped bar, booths, tables and a stage, maybe a dance floor. They played 33 LPs on a phonograph. Kind of an artsy place. There was a photo booth as well…
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MEETING THE WILD CHILD!
Not quite what I was expecting.
Well, actually that’s not true; I knew she would be beautiful (I’ve seen her photo), I knew she would be fit (she skis, plays competitive tennis… and dances, as we all know), I knew she would be interesting (I’ve read her stories and know she is writing a novel), and I knew she was tough (she’s a survivor). So I was surprised she was so tiny… well petite or svelte might sound better.
I flew into Denver with my daughter Krista so she could visit with her best friend, an actor who was starring in the musical Animal Crackers at the Denver Center Theater Company.
An accomplished actor and veteran song & dance man, Michael Fitzpatrick was playing multiple roles, as were the rest of the cast of this madcap zany musical, which first appeared on Broadway in 1928 starring the Marx Brothers. I knew of it as a movie and had no idea it had first been a play. While Krista and Michael relived their theatrical experiences and gossiped, I had other ideas.
I was on a quest to meet a special writer. She was the first to click like and comment on my initial foray into fiction writing on TedBook… in fact, it was more than that, it was the first time I had linked my blog to a group, and would be having strangers read my words (I think everyone will know the importance of that gesture… for someone scared to near-death for what they had just posted). I immediately read her blogs about kissing the Blarney Stone and seeing some frozen dead guy at a festival in Colorado. I liked her writing and instantly became a follower. I knew she lived near Boulder, which wasn’t far from Denver, so I wrote and invited her to lunch.
A short drive, on a beautiful sunny day in the Rockies, found me in my second Colorado city searching for her favorite restaurant. I found The Mediterranean, secured a table in the garden and awaited the arrival of The Wild Child.
I was not disappointed.
For my friends not acquainted with Susie, she writes Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride. We had become fellow bloggers and more importantly friends. Every month she throws a party… drop by, say hello, and post a story you would like others to see… a great way to meet new writers.
I had only met in person two blogging friends, Debra Kristi who introduced me to Thor Worship, and Douglas MacIlroy who took me to the top of Mona Loa to tour the Keck Observatory. So the chance to meet someone else I admired, enjoyed reading and sharing with, could not be passed up.
After a delightful luncheon getting to know each other and discussing family, blogging, writing and writer’s workshops, she took me on a tour of the historic Pearl District, pointing out some of her favorite places.
I saw a fabulous bookstore, where I’m sure the book she is writing will be on display in the front window someday. That will be a book signing for which I will return to Boulder, and hopefully also get to meet Roxy the Dog, Soul-mate Danny, Snowboarder Extraordinaire Courtney and Hit DJ K Smash… subjects of many of her stories, willing or otherwise.
Susie returned to her home to do some writing and play in a tennis tournament that night… I returned to Denver to see a wild and crazy Broadway Musical, where Mr Fitzpatrick was at the top of his game, no doubt knowing his friend Krista was in the audience, and we laughed ourselves silly.
I had a fabulous time in Boulder and Denver, Colorado.
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Since this post is about blogging and writing… I thought I would share it with some fellow writers at The Moonshine Still…
The Speakeasy #159… THE LEPIDOPTERIST
Somewhere in Chicago a telephone rings…
“Hi, Ethel. Let me guess, we’re eating Mexican food today.”
“Si, mi hermana. Arturo’s is having a burrito sale. It’s on me.”
‘On me’ coming from Ethel meant she wanted something. Cheryl was proud of her friend for sticking with the Spanish class she had found in the PennySaver, but she was not about to tell her. Most of Ethel’s ‘projects’ lasted a week at best, and it had been a while since the ceramics fiasco.
“Let me guess. You have a new hobby.”
“You know how I’ve always been interested in Entomology, I’m going to be a Lepidopterist!”
“So now you’re taking Latin? What the hell are you talking about, Ethel, some English please?”
“A butterfly collector, Cheryl. I’m going to be a Butterfly Collector!”
“Okay, first of all, where are you going to find a butterfly in the city? Second, how does this involve me?”
“I’ve already collected one. You know how I can’t harm animals, I need you to stick the pin in when I mount it.”
“Oh right, the PETA thing. All right, I’ll do it, but only after Arturo’s.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Western & Armitage…
“Uno burrito pollo con extra salsa y beanos, por favor.”
“I’ll have a number seven, Arturo, thanks.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Later on the third floor of a brownstone in Wicker Park…
“It’s kind of drab and not very pretty, Ethel. I didn’t know you had a net, where did you find it?”
“I used a jar, Cheryl. It was on the back porch by the light. I don’t want to hurt it and besides those beady little eyes give me the creeps. That’s why you have to do it”
‘All right, give me the pin. Where do you want it?”
It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.
“One thing, Ethel. I hate to break your butterfly bubble, but I’m pretty sure that’s a moth.”
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Speakeasy Managing Editor Suzanne Purkis has issued these instructions for this week’s entry in the writing contest:
- Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
- You must include the following sentence ANYWHERE in your submission: “It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.”
- You must also include a reference to the media prompt. An American Silver Fox by John James Audubon
The sentence is courtesy of last week’s winner… A Z Gringa in the Bleached Bone Valley. Her story is called No Time For Patience… I loved it, and you will too.
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Incidentally, if ever in Chicago… Check out Arturo’s Tacos in Bucktown. Fond memories of fabulous burritos after closing the bars…
CHERYL DOES A JIGSAW ~ A Drabble for FriFic
“Hi Cheryl, it’s Ethel. How’s the puzzle going?”
“It’s a bitch, that’s how it’s going. You know how I like to start with the corners. Why in hell would you give me a round puzzle? And so much purple! You better get over here and help me.”
“It’s fuchsia, Cheryl. That’s fuchsia flowers from Hawaii.”
“So I gathered, Ethel. They’re pretty, but a butt load of fuchsia pieces to put together and no corners to get me started, so get over here.”
“Okay, shall I stop off at Pizza Doug’s and pick something up?”
“Great idea, round puzzle… round food!”
Interesting photo prompt from Captain Douglas M. MacIlroy… wearing his diving helmet while terrorizing children on the Big Island.
Check out Friday Fictioneers to read other stories, and be sure to read Rochelle’s.
For more information about flash fiction, check out this post by Krista on The Daily Post
“Hi Cheryl, it’s Ethel.”
“Why do you insist on announcing yourself every time you call? Don’t you think I know your voice? My phone says who it is anyway. Did you start the poem?”
“Yeah, how’s this… ‘Back-to-back they faced one another, Drew their swords and shot each other’?”
“Ethel. It is supposed to be an Easter theme. Besides, I think that ones’ been done. How about this… ‘Two young hares, rump to rump like dueling pistols, crouched by the gate’.”
“Well the rabbits work, I guess, but why do they have to have guns? How about bows and arrows if they have to shoot something?”
” I could see bows and arrows. Ethel, it is supposed to be a dark piece, they should be shooting something.”
“Wait! Cameras! The rabbits have cameras and they are shooting pictures instead of people. The rabbits are blackmailing people instead of shooting them!”
“That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, Ethel. No one said anything about people. They should be shooting chicks. Ambushing baby chicks. Besides, how could they work a camera, their paws are too thick.”
“Very funny, Cheryl. Then how could they pull the trigger on a gun, if their paws are so thick? I think we should enter the egg dyeing contest instead of the poetry contest.”
“Maybe you’re right, Ethel, who ever heard of a dark Easter anyway?”
Ethel & Cheryl ‘borrowed’ the Young Hare from Lauren Mortimer, a fabulous London illustrator. Please check out her work.
This week’s Speakeasy submission had to included this line by Alien Aura (last week’s winner) to be used anywhere in the story: “Two young hares, rump to rump like dueling pistols, crouched by the gate.” Editor Suzanne Purkis also instructed us to make reference to the media prompt, which this week is the song Glory Box, by Portishead, which you will find below.
THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT… A Drabble
“Guess what, Cheryl? I’m in a play!”
“Let me guess? Are you acting or a prop?”
“Haha, very funny. I’m going to be Dorothy Gale! Betty is directing at the Senior Center.”
“Wait a minute, Ethel. Dorothy is a young girl? Why in the hell are you playing her, won’t that seem a little weird? And, how are you going to remember all those lines, you can’t remember a grocery list.”
“You’re going to cue me, Cheryl. I’ll look young, because everyone else is way older. I’m the star, it’s my chance to shine.”
“Just don’t break the Spotlight, Ethel!”
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“Dammit, Cheryl, I need more than 33, why can’t I have 333?”
“Well, they said 33, and you know them, Ethel. Why don’t we just say this…”
Thanks for the memories, we’ll never forget you, Trifecta.
You introduced us to a new writing world.
Inspired us to be daring, be better writers.
We’re so glad everyone liked us.
“Okay, that works I guess, but I’m still not happy, Cheryl.”
“You’re never happy, Ethel. Say good-bye.”