Member Monday: The Nurse and the Pastor by Ed Sulpice

Ed’s the one on the left.

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to feature fellow board member, Ed Sulpice, and a slice of his novel in progress.

The Nurse and the Pastor

by Ed Sulpice

Alanah scared herself as she laughed in her mind. Laughter and suicide were not good mental companions. One was sure to overcome the other and she wanted no competition regarding her intended demise. It was the thought of starting her goodbye letter with the words, “to be or not to be” that had made her laugh. The answer, of course, was “not to be”.

“Nobody quotes Shakespeare when they’re writing a suicide note, do they?” she thought to herself.  She would have to look that up on the computer when she got home. Not that anybody would care about her dying thoughts,  she just wanted her last words on earth to validate her course of action and at the same time, to be, at least, minimally creative.  Would any of this really matter? No!  Joe would be the one who found the note, after he pushed her body aside searching to the remote control. Yes, the one detail which was set in stone. Wherever she decided to lie down for the last time, she would make sure the television remote would be under her body. He would hate that.   Anyway, Joe would just throw the note away or use it to light one of his cigars. But then again, he’d probably keep it as evidence that he had not committed a murder. Alanah laughed again. Damn. She forced her mind to concentrate on the scene in front of her.

She had come to the shore hoping to receive some sort of guidance or encouragement. But the ocean was silent this morning. The grey of the clouds pushed itself down onto the surface of the water, blotting out not only the greens and the blues that Alanah loved, but also the horizon, which spoke hope to her. It was just grey. Everything was grey.  The locals called it June Gloom. She just called it another day.

The breeze, thick with salt and moisture, seemed to be more suffocating than invigorating. The waves even seemed hesitant to come ashore, the tiny swells of salt water reluctantly wetting Alanah’s aching feet.  A twelve-hour shift would do that to anybody’s feet. The fact that number five had died right at the end of her shift did not help. Another baby wave dripped onto the sand, not quite reaching Alanah’s feet. Looking to her right, she noticed a small, orange periwinkle sea shell rolling along the edge of the water.

Immediately identifying it as an Ovatella, a Mouse Ear, she wondered how this inhabitant of northern California had managed to travel so far south. “Probably the storm,” she said out loud.

She picked it up, appreciating the rounded lines and twirling peak of the shell. Alanah placed it gently into her collection bag. This time it wasn’t humor that made her chuckle, but the irony. Here she was collecting shells in an effort to entice people to live, while at the same time plotting her own demise. Just another day.

As was her custom, she reminded herself to be sure to pass up the next shell she had an impulse to collect. Alanah loved sea shells. It was how she came to be known as “Shelly”, a name she now hated.  Her father had bestowed the name on her as a playful way of encouraging her fondness of the ocean. As always, along with the encouragement came the warning. The same warning he gave to all of his students.

She could still hear the passion in his voice as he taught his Oceanography students on these very sands. “When it comes to the ocean,” he would say, “there are basically two groups of people. Hunters and Explorers.  Hunters come to the beach only to satisfy themselves. They surf. They sail. They sunbathe.  They hunt for sea shells.” He would only mention seashells if Alanah was sitting in on one of his classes. And he would always smile at her as he spoke. “Now, these activities are not bad,” he would continue, “I do many of these things. But hunters don’t care about surfing or sailing or the ocean. They are hunting first for identity or pleasure or diversion. And it’s those intentions that separate hunters and explorers.  You see, explorers are always thinking first about the ocean. An explorer’s main concern is with health of the ocean and the beach. People with this loving attitude, explore the ocean in an effort to strengthen it.”

The memories of her father teaching opened a wound inside Alanah’s heart from which an awareness escaped and made its way to her brain.

Here, at thirty-six-years old, standing on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, receiving reluctant greetings from wave and wind, Alanah “Shelly” Albright was forced to agree with the thought now dancing through her mind. She had been many times hunted, but never explored.

A Note from the Webmaster: Writers Forum has the author’s permission to publish this work. The author retains full copyright ownership and protection. This work may not be reproduced or used in any way without the permission of the author.  If you’re a member in good standing, please consider submitting a piece of your work to share.  Essays, poems, songs, articles and any other stand alone pieces are welcome.  To submit your piece, please e-mail it to webmaster, Alicia McCauley, at writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.   Members featured here are guests in our Writers Forum house.  Treat them as such in the comments section and enjoy this beautiful thing we call writing.

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Member Monday: Neighborhood Neutrality by Dale Angel

Welcome  back to Member Monday.  Today it’s my pleasure to share another piece by the witty and talented Dale Angel.

Neighborhood Neutrality

by Dale Angel

My neighbors are very congenial.  They live across the driveway. They have lived there several years, I hardly knew they were there, they were so quiet.  In the summer we became acquainted when I bumped into them as they perused the neighborhood. They never do meth or smoke dope or fight.  I’ve never seen the police at their house, they tend to their own business.  After I met them I watched and recognized their contribution to the area we shared.  This is a senior community.  They look ageless and like flowers.  They raised a small family.  I wasn’t invited to the wedding, it was a family affair, but I saw that their children moved nearby.  The new couple set up house keeping and started a family.  I wasn’t concerned although they had moved very close.  In fact, they built in the porch banister.  Every day I passed the ongoing activity I was amused, until today.  There was an army of ants attacking the nest.  The parents were flying about frantically. They’re  puffy black fuzz balls about the size of a nickel.These are Carpenter Bees and they look so obese and overloaded, moving themselves on tiny wings hardly big enough to keep a fly in the air.  Their legs hang down as they fly.They drill and saw perfectly round holes without instruments.  Some consider this destructive.I thought I was neutral, but I found myself running for the Home Defense Container…I hate guns and war implements and poisons!  I took up arms and used lethal weapons and came to the bee’s aid.  I sprayed the banister wiped the entrance to the nest with a cloth dipped in ant killer barely, so the ants felt threatened and retreated as soon as they whiffed my nerve gas, keeping in mind I didn’t want to do bodily harm to my neighbors.  It remains to be seen if it worked.  The collateral damage was extensive to the ants but we are not on friendly terms anyway as they attack my home every summer and I have a vacuum cleaner full of them.  My way of dealing with terrorists.Carpenter Bees weren’t mentioned on the Home Defense label although Deadly long legs were.  It helps to wear glasses when in war, on second perusal, it said ‘’Daddy long legs’’.  The mom and dad live in my tool shed in a particle board shelf and they have me trained to vacuum up saw dust…its such a small price to pay for entertainment, so much for neighborhood neutrality.

A Note from the Webmaster: Writers Forum has the author’s permission to publish this work. The author retains full copyright ownership and protection. This work may not be reproduced or used in any way without the permission of the author.  If  you’re a member in good standing, please consider submitting a piece of your work to share.  Essays, poems, songs, articles and any other stand alone pieces are welcome.  To submit your piece, please e-mail it to webmaster, Alicia McCauley, at writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.   Members featured here are guests in our Writers Forum house.  Treat them as such in the comments section and enjoy this beautiful thing we call writing.

Member Monday: The Accidental Vigil by Aaron Steinmetz

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to welcome my friend and new Writers Forum member, Aaron Steinmetz.

Aaron Steinmetz

Author’s Note: Aaron Steinmetz is the ‘word-renowned’ author of Sleepy P.I., a quirky comedy about a private investigator who doesn’t sleep until he closes his case. He is currently working on several more books, including a follow-up to Sleepy P.I. due out in November, and a comedy about a cat with homicidal tendencies. With any luck, his cat will let him live long enough to see these things through.

The Accidental Vigil
Short Fiction by Aaron Steinmetz

I tried to pick the lock with a credit card but it didn’t work. At least not like it works in the movies. Figure the movies are bogus or the door-making industry figured out a way around that old trick. Either way, I won’t be using that credit card again.

So I was stuck. I’d done it again, locked myself out of my apartment. And this time Karen wasn’t around to bail me out. What’s a grown man to do when he has no one to call? He can only sit on the front step and watch the birds eat leftovers from some discarded fast food bag, or the sun as it disappears behind the tree-covered mountains for an early sunset, or the homeless guy who mutters obscenities in his sleep.

There’s always so much to watch, so much to see going on at any moment of the day, and it was so engrossing. You know, I almost didn’t mind sitting there leaning my back against the front door of my apartment.

Mine is a simple complex: the parking lot for it is square, and the light blue buildings surrounding it rise only two stories. There’s covered parking spots for the tenants and a few more uncovered spots thrown in for good measure. There are trees all around the complex, sometimes green, sometimes brown, sometimes naked in the cold mountain winters. It’s a quiet complex, and I was fortunate to lock myself out in August when it’s warm by night and scorching by day. And the sun had set. So I dozed off.

When I woke up, I was still leaning against the front door, and what little activity I’d observed the previous day was gone. It was replaced by a neighbor boy practicing his juggling and his kid sister watching him learn. He was so engrossing I didn’t even mind my numb bottom.

After he and his sister went back inside there came a bevy of birds, probably migratory, arriving late or leaving early. They landed in the giant oak tree near the entrance to the apartment complex. Each one seemed to have its own idea about where to perch and each one had no problem voicing its opinion. I laughed out loud at their screeching noises.

Before I knew it, it was evening again. And the stars were out in amazing splendor. And I think I saw a shooting star though it may have just been a dream. Don’t really remember because I woke up the next morning a bit sore. That’s when Catherine found me. She’s an older lady who lives in section ‘A’ across the parking lot. She said she’d seen me sitting here quite a bit and wondered if everything was okay. I told her everything was grand. I’d completely forgotten about the locked door.

She still seemed worried, so she asked me if I’d had any food or water recently. To be honest I hadn’t even thought about it. She brought me some leftovers and a few bottles of water. They lasted me through sunset, that glorious evening show and the follow-up sunrise the next morning. It was pure bliss. I had even forgotten about Karen.

I’ve lost track of how many days went by. Sorry. Never was good at counting. That was Karen’s thing; I was just the janitor. And I forgot about my job too. Didn’t know I lost it ‘til Jimbo came by to check on me, see what was wrong and all. I didn’t mind all that much losing my job because the juggler was back out and he was getting better. He even had the two-in-one-hand thing going. Jimbo wanted to know how I was taking Karen leaving me. I told him the juggler was getting better.

Jimbo must have thought so too because he showed up a little later with some food and joined me for that night’s sunset. We chatted a bit but he wasn’t the least bit interested in the splendor around us. He kept wanting to talk about Karen and how I was doing, completely irrelevant stuff about feelings and reactions and moving on. I don’t remember everything. The stars were back and they were fantastic!

Karen showed up mid-morning the next day and told me what I was doing was childish and stupid, that no dumb vigil would bring her back. I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. I didn’t really care, though. A vulture was circling around overhead and I was trying to figure out what it was watching. I think it was a squirrel, because he seemed to be over the park where a lot of people feed the squirrels so their population has increased to record numbers, though I’m not too sure about that. He could have been examining road kill or rodents or anything really.

Karen said a very bad word and left.

Catherine kept me fed and watered. I don’t understand why she was so worried. I was enjoying the outdoors so much. I’d never been happier. Between the birds in the air and the people in the complex and the stars at night and the sounds and smells and warm atmosphere of the outdoor complex I really wondered why I even had an apartment.

Some more time went by. Don’t know how, but a news crew found out that I was sitting there. Jennifer Waters herself interviewed me! She called it some kind of human relations story thing. Don’t know what she meant by that. Catherine said they ran the story that night on the news, and apparently a lot of people found out how great nature is at my complex because a whole bunch came out to hang out with me. Some of them held signs that read, “Come back, Karen” for some reason. Guess they were friends of hers who wanted her to enjoy the scenery. Doesn’t really matter. The juggler was teaching his sister the two-hand thing.

More people showed up to watch the world around us and they started inviting other friends. One guy held a sign that read, “Take me Back, Becky” and another held one that read “I’ll Stand with the Parking Lot Patron.” Don’t know who the Parking Lot Patron was. Probably the juggler. Some folks brought a barbecue and we all ate well. They even brought me my food so I wouldn’t have to get up. Good thing, too, because I’d lost all feeling in my legs.

Someone must have called her because Karen showed up again and she had this worried look. I wanted to get up and greet her, tell her about the cloud that looked like a giant abalone and the worms that crossed the sidewalk that got cooked in the sun and the ants that came to clean them up. I wanted to show her the bee that had pollinated the flowers next to me but my legs wouldn’t work. She helped me, though. Karen was always good at helping me out. She had a key to my apartment. Karen helped me inside, told me she wouldn’t leave me again.

And for some reason, everyone outside cheered.

A Note from the Webmaster: Writers Forum has the author’s permission to publish this work. The author retains full copyright ownership and protection. This work may not be reproduced or used in any way without the permission of the author.  If  you’re a member in good standing, please consider submitting a piece of your work to share.  Essays, poems, songs, articles and any other stand alone pieces are welcome.  To submit your piece, please e-mail it to webmaster, Alicia McCauley, at writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.   Members featured here are guests in our Writers Forum house.  Treat them as such in the comments section and enjoy this beautiful thing we call writing.

The Spontaneous Pen: August, 2012

Writers Forum member, Jennifer Phelps, is back with this month’s Spontaneous Pen.  

One jump line.  Ninety seconds to write.  Go!

This month’s jump line is:

Would it be wrong…?

Take 90 seconds to finish the jump line and then post your response in the comments section.  All online comments will be posted here.  Due to limited space only, selected responses will be published in next month’s newsletter.