Category: Writing

Meme – One

                       Meme
                       By R L Saunders
                       (work in progress)


© 2013 R. L. Saunders
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

     By the age of 80, Harry McOliver had learned that while a day that starts out bad usually stays bad, a day that starts out well does not necessarily stay that way. It was sunny and mild, a good day for working on the flowerbed or putting his feet up on the front porch and sipping the new Bernkastler Spaetlese. He had set out to run a few simple errands; mail a package, get the car gassed up, buy some groceries.

     It was when he came out to the supermarket parking lot that things started to go awry. One of the Safeway employees was trying to wrestle a shopping cart away from an elderly woman, who had filled it with what appeared to be all her worldly goods, in garbage bags and an old suitcase. She was on her way down the street when discovered. Much to Harry’s amusement, the teenage boy was losing the battle with the old lady. His obligation to his employer was obviously at war with how he had been taught to treat little old ladies. Finally, he decided to do it the good old American Way by passing the buck. He threw up his hands and shouted, ‘Fine, lady! I’m gonna call the cops!” and stomped back into the store, while the woman made her escape as quickly as her age would permit, which wouldn’t be fast enough if the town police actually responded. For no reason he could later justify, Harry made a decision.

     He got into his car and drove down the street past the old woman, then pulled over and waited for her to come abreast of the car.

     “Ma’am, I’d suggest if you don’t want to spend the night in jail, you toss your stuff in my trunk and let met take you somewhere safer and more comfortable. And maybe get you a bite to eat, in the bargain.”

     The woman looked at him suspiciously,. “Who the hell are you? What the hell you want with me?”

     “My name’s Harry and I don’t want squat from you. I just hate to see anyone get hassled when what they need is a leg up. We can discuss my philosophy later, but if we wait too long, you’re going to be talking from the county jail.”

     The woman considered a moment, then began hoisting her baggage from the cart as Harry popped open his trunk. A minute later, they were on their way, the shopping cart standing lonely and useless in the middle of the sidewalk.

     “You got a name?”, Harry asked, once they were out of the downtown and the risk of pursuit by angry teenagers or police was minimal.

     The old woman pondered a moment. “Marilyn,” she said. “Marilyn Monroe.”

     Harry chuckled and the old woman gave him a defiant look. “You got something against that name?” she asked? “Maybe I’m not sexy enough to suit you?”

     Harry pulled into his driveway and parked, then turned and looked her up and down. “You’ll do”, he said, “after a shower and some clean clothes. And maybe some breakfast.”

     Harry gathered his few groceries and offered to help with her bags but she slapped him away. “Lemme be! Nobody touches my stuff but me!” She looked at Harry’s house, then around the neighborhood of more-or-less identical homes. “Pretty fancy. Sure you want to risk letting me in? I might steal the silverware or something.”

     Harry laughed. “I’ve got more of most everything than I need or would miss, but I don’t think you’ll do that.”

     Marilyn followed him into the house. “Holy shit!”, she said. “You weren’t just whistling Dixie!” She kicked off her shoes and rubbed her grimy feet in the deep pile of the carpet, gazed wonderingly at the paintings on the wall. “Is that a real Fragonard?”

     Harry followed her glance. “No, it’s a print. It’s called The Swing.”

     “I know what it’s called. Probably know more about art than you do.”

     “That wall holds originals. The rest are prints.’

     Marilyn studied the original art, then glanced at him with a glimmer of respect. “Some nice pieces. That one’s derivative but well executed. The others are good’. Who picked them out for you?”

     Harry laughed. “Meaning it couldn’t have been me? I selected them all. Sorry to disappoint you.”

     “Humph! Must have gotten a Liberal Arts education on daddy’s dime before you inherited the business. Never met a rich gent like you that knew anything about anything but making money.”

     “Maybe you shouldn’t be so closed-minded,” Harry suggested. “You haven’t met everybody in the world.”

     He clapped his hands, “Now, first things first. You probably haven’t had a hot shower and decent meal for awhile. First room on the left down that hall is a bathroom. Second room is a guest bedroom. You’re about the same size as my late wife, so I’ll lay out her robe and some of other things in case you want to launder your own things. While you’re taking a shower, I’ll see what I can find for brunch.”

     Marilyn looked long and hard at him. “You really expect me to get undressed with you lurking around?”

     With some impatience, Harry said, “Lady, I’m 80 years old. Even if I had rape on my mind, consummating it would be questionable. That’s assuming I wanted to fuck a grimy old fart dressed in rags, who thinks she’s a sex symbol!”

     Marilyn laughed and the laugh sounded 40 years younger. “We’ll see”, she said. “Maybe you’ll think differently when I’m cleaned up.”

     “I can hardly wait”, Harry said with a smile. “Now get on with you and I’ll make you some breakfast.”

Continue…

Winds West – One

                       Winds West
                       By R L Saunders
                       (on Kindle)


© 2012 R. L. Saunders
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

     She supposed there was no use fretting herself about it. Times were difficult and Papa had more than enough to worry about since Mama died. She only hoped Effie and Helen could take care of little Ryan when she moved to the Langdon’s. She would certainly have her hands full with the Langdon children and wouldn’t be able to do much for Ryan, though she would write to him when she had the time.

     She looked around her bedroom, trying to decide what she could take with her and what she would leave. The dresses and the work bonnet would have to go with her, but Effie could have her Sunday bonnet. She would miss it – it was the only really nice thing she owned. Mama had promised to make her a pretty dress to go with it and they had even picked out the pattern and material. Then Mama got sicker and sicker, and Liza had her hands full trying to keep the household together. When Mama finally died that winter, there was only time for a brief pause in everyone’s life.

     She would leave the Reader and ask Helen to read to Ryan every night, since he loved the stories, or perhaps just the attention. Mama’s death had been hardest on him, she thought. He was so young it was hard not to think of him as a baby, despite his independent streak. Sometimes he would be retelling some past adventure and reach the point where Mama figured in. His voice would trail off awkwardly, leaving an uncomfortable silence. None of them had really come to terms with Mama’s death, but Liza felt a particular pang at Ryan’s little-boy-lost look.

     Well, there was no help for it. He’d just have to get by the best he could, like all of them. She would take one book of poems to read to the Langdon children. They might enjoy it, and she liked reading it. It called up memories of Mama reading to them in the evenings, gathered around her in the parlor. Mama always made the poems come alive so, as though she found them an escape from the drudgery of work and illness. By the time she was six, Liza had committed dozens of poems to memory and could still hold Ryan spellbound with them.

     She let her eyes roam over the room – the double bed she shared with Effie, the little wardrobe that held all her clothes, the basin and pitcher for washing, the chamberpot for nights when it was too cold to run outside. How nice it would be, she thought, to have lots of dresses, to go to parties, to have one of those new-fangled gadgets to wring the water out of the wash, to have a pump inside the house. Why not wish for someone to help with the housework too, she asked herself, as long as you’re wishing.

     Well, wishes wouldn’t get the baking done and the dough should have risen by now. She wanted to get the week’s baking done early so she could make a pie to go with supper. Papa always loved pie and had given her a dozen Roman Beauty apples with the terse suggestion that the children might like a pie. It was so typical of him to claim everything he did was for the children’s sake. It was always “The children might enjoy a picnic down by the river,” whenever he wanted to go fishing. Or “Your mother wants to visit with the ladies,” whenever he wanted to swap Civil War stories with Henry McCardle and Ezra Hanks over big, black cigars. Tonight she would cut him the biggest piece of pie and set it in front of him and say, “The children couldn’t eat it all.” He would get her meaning and appreciate it, though he would never let on.

     She wished they still had a dairy cow so she could have made ice cream to go with the pie. Perhaps if Papa got work on the bridge they were building up near Columbus, he would buy a cow again, though he’d have to teach one of the others to milk it.

     Enough daydreaming, she told herself. It was time to get back to work, and work enough to be done. She had to finish planting the garden before next Sunday, since she was going to Langdon’s on Monday. She realized with mild surprise it would be her birthday. She would be thirteen, almost a woman.

Continue…

Blind Pig – One

                                 Blind Pig
                                 by R L Saunders
                                 (on Kindle)


© 2000 and 2011 by R. L. Saunders
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

     
     Alan laid his fingers on the man’s neck and felt no pulse, saw no rise and fall of the chest that would indicate breathing. The kid was dead. Hardly surprising, considering the long blade thrust toward his heart. Alan sighed, then swore. Well, he thought, it was him or me and he attacked me. Surprisingly, he felt saddened at the death of the young criminal. Almost automatically he pulled the revolver from the young man’s belt, an old .38 Special. Wished he were better with a handgun. Might need to use it in the next few minutes. He had grown up with rifles but couldn’t hit a barn from the inside with a pistol.

     He looked out toward the piers, listening intently, hoping he wouldn’t hear anyone else. Perhaps the kid had just been trying to rob me? Then why hadn’t he pulled the gun and simply held me up? Why come at me with the knife? No, he wanted me dead, and quietly. That implied there were others around. For the first time, Alan noticed the other body and the briefcase at the back of the alley.

     He had been taking an evening walk down by the Westside piers, a thing he often did when his Muse balked. Ducking into an alley to light a cigarette, he heard the attacker behind him. Turning, he saw the knife and without thinking, dropped to the ground and kicked the attacker’s feet from under him. As the young man fell, he had instinctively tried to break his fall. Alan grabbed the hand with the knife and turned it. The man’s whole weight had come down on the blade and it was over, just like that. Just like that, Alan thought. No preparation, no pleading, no time for regrets or last words. One moment he was alive and vital, the next he was dead. Could happen anytime, he thought. To anyone, even you.

     Since there didn’t seem to be any activity in the street, he knelt by the second body. Dead too, his throat cut, blood all over hell. Judging by his appearance, he was homeless. Probably been sacked out here when the other guy arrived. Just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, Alan thought. He turned the man onto his back and felt the hair rise on the back of his neck. Except for being older, dirtier and unshaven, the dead man bore a remarkable resemblance to Alan himself. A wallet and a few papers had fallen out of the man’s pocket and Alan picked them up automatically. Richard Paul Evans: Driver’s License, Social Security card, miscellaneous photos and letters, two dollars, one bank card and the bill for that card . Not much to show for your life, mister, he thought. He turned to the briefcase and moved back to the edge of the building to catch the streetlight.

     Opening the briefcase, he found it stuffed with bundles of Fifties and Hundreds. He sat back on his heels and his mind went into high gear. That explained why the young man had attacked him and it did not bode well for his chances of surviving the next few minutes. He had undoubtedly stumbled into a drug deal going down. If the late unlamented had just finished selling, his buyers might still be around. If he was waiting to buy, the sellers must be expected momentarily. Either way, he had to figure on trouble.

     Sure enough, a large black limo was cruising slowly down the street, as though the driver were looking for something or someone. If he was lucky, he thought, there wasn’t a particular meeting spot. Maybe the driver was just supposed to cruise until the buyer approached the car. Better not bank on it. If they’re looking for this particular spot, I don’t want to be here when they arrive, he thought.

     He turned and breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the fire escape. Tossing the briefcase onto the first landing, he paused, then picked up the dead man’s wallet again. A plan was beginning to form in his mind. He extracted the Driver’s License and bank card and dropped the wallet, then jumped to catch the lowest rung of the fire escape. The ladder was supposed to swing down under his weight, but evidently the residents had immobilized it, probably because it made entrance too easy for potential burglars. Suited him. Made it more difficult for them to follow. He swung up to the landing, picked up the briefcase and clambered higher. Reaching the top, he came to an open window. If he entered, he’d have to exit the building normally, and might implicate the person in the apartment. Didn’t want to do either.

     He heaved the briefcase onto the roof and began to scramble higher. Fortunately, the old brick and the once-fancy architecture left plenty of ledges and crannies. In a few seconds he dropped over the ledge onto the roof, just as a flashlight shone into the alley below. They knew where he’d be. When the find him dead, they’ll be some disturbed. When they find the briefcase missing, they’ll be mighty disturbed. Time to get the hell out.

     He headed across the roof and dropped to the adjacent building. A few more buildings and he could climb down at the other end of the block and be away before they could find him. He chuckled softly to himself, then stopped. While he had the money, they had the drugs. That rankled. He had half a mind to return and face them, maybe shoot the bastards and drop the drugs off the pier. Don’t know how many there are, he reminded himself. There were better ways to skin this cat. He ran lightly down the fire escape of the end building and set off down the street.

     Stepping into the light of Seventh Avenue, he headed for a phone booth. Might as well tell the cops. Maybe they could stop the limo if they got lucky. At least they’ll find the bodies. They weren’t going anywhere.

Continue…