Saturday, 16 December 2017

Four Boxes of Memories by Allan Hudson

What's your favorite story?



This is one of mine which I wrote several years ago. I am the owner of four boxes of memories and one day I was thinning out the contents and imagined someone doing it for the last time in their lives. That's how this story began.

A compilation of my short stories will be published in 2018 and the book will have the same title.





FOUR BOXES OF MEMORIES
(copyright held by author)

Lloyd Minister settled frumpily into his new chair. He drained his busy head of the day’s events resting his foggy colored mane gently on the plush leather. He drew in a huge breath through his nose, the aroma of the tanned hide of his cushioned throne rich and pleasing.  He pulled the handle on the chair side and a footrest responded like a storm trooper, lifting his fatigued legs. On his lap, wrapped in several elastics were a cluster of envelopes that he had kept for many years, nothing special really, the result of a boyish hobby he started over 80 years ago. There wasn’t any room in one of the boxes for it but he couldn’t let them go, it would be losing his own sense of something unique, silly to anyone but him.
 
 
He shut his tired and elderly eyes, once a deep brown, now faded of old age. His wrinkled face was wide and square shaped by nature, cheap cigars and the rough seas that blasted winds and water upon his being as he fished the Atlantic Ocean from the time he was a bewildered boy alongside his father. His prodigious hands rested on the arms of the chair, the fingers splayed, they looked like baby squids.  His husky torso was clad in his favourite blue and white plaid shirt that stuck outside of a pair of dark blue Dockers. He was wearing his Dora slippers his four year old granddaughter insisted her Daddy buy for “Gampy”.

He opened his eyes and they were about level with the two little girl explorers on his feet. Like many times before when he laughed at them, he remembered the delight when he wore them for the first time, tiny Gracie danced about overcome with little girl glee, clapping her hands and making him dance in his new slippers, she had a pair the same and he remembered the jolly fun. He laughed now with hearty guffaws until his tummy hurt. He caught a couple of laughing tears with his chunky forefinger.

As his vision cleared he looked around his new home. He had a large bedsitting room, his own washroom, ample fine furniture, a few antiques from his own ancestors and a closet full of good clothes. The walls were bare of course and bore a hellish pink. He had told his son Eugene changing the color would be their first task otherwise he wouldn’t live here. Before Eugene left earlier he assured his old man that they would go shopping tomorrow.

“Don’t worry Dad, we’ll go up to Livingston’s Hardware in the morning and find something with a little less passion, something with some hair on its chest, to make sure people don’t think you’re an old funny guy  with pink walls.”

He smiled thinking of his boy, wrinkles doubled around his eyes.  It was a good thought, safe and cared about. His brief interlude was disrupted as he focused on the four boxes by the front door.
They were simple Banker’s boxes, bought flat, resurrected at your office type. They stood in a straight line in front of the closet, decked out with square brown lids. The significant red numbers on the top of each, from 1 to 4, made them look like toy blocks for an adult. In reality it held the most precious items, the bullion of his life. The contents were the dearest of everything he owned. They were his boxes of memories.

He groaned as he pushed back the stick and brought the chair upright. He winced as he began to rise; his left knee getting worse it seemed. His thought about his doctor who kept offering, then insisting he get a new knee but Lloyd reminded him,

“I’ve had this knee for 85 years young man. I don’t expect my journey to be much farther and I think I’ll bring it along. You can have it when I’m gone.”

At this point in his life he wasn’t too worried about becoming addicted to some drug. He was planning on drifting through his last years; the hardest strain he wanted to experience was the turning of the pages on his latest book, if the pills Dr. Gallant prescribed made life a little more passive, he was all for them.

He rose from his chair and the indented leather slowly filled out. Cautious short steps brought him to the boxes. As he shuffled by #1 he glanced at it knowing his son would take it tomorrow. It was full of legal stuff, last will, stocks bonds, bank accounts, his finances. He farted as he passed the money cube, showing it tremendous disrespect. He stuck his tongue out at the box as well, grinned at it with a bit of unkindness as he reminded himself he never had to touch another check book or credit card for the balance of his days. He told Eugene so long as he had a hundred dollar bill in his pocket he’d be as right as a starling in its nest.

He stopped and stooped over number two lifting the edge, testing its heft. He bent with both knees as far as the pain would allow picking up the crate with as much of his back as he could. The box probably weighed fifteen pounds but Lloyd would be bragging to Eugene tomorrow how he lifted the fifty pounds with ease.  He would swear it felt like fifty pounds.

He set the box on the coffee table that Taffy, his daughter-in-law, had given him. She had made it herself in her metal shop. The legs were twisted dark steel and fine metal polished copper coils provided an ornate rhythm around the sides. The top was beveled clear panels, all different sizes. Under each one were sepia toned photos over a dark brown background. The photos were thematic and everyone was in some stage of laughter, alone or in familial groups. It was a work of art, of love.

As he stood before the box he thought about Eugene when he had to tell him before they left his old house that he would only have room for two boxes, so two couldn’t go. He offered to store them at his house if they were important. They had been standing by the door then, the boxes the last thing to take were at their feet. With a pang of tenderness he remembered his son when the poor man delivered his news. He had looked his father directly in the eye. Eugene’s were normally bright and green, at that moment they were hurt and soft.  He could tell his son was trying not to blink, not to spill their liquid glaze. Lloyd spoke first to give his son respite.

“What is it Son, it can’t be that bad?”

“Oh Dad, you can only bring two. I know how much they mean to you”

It bothered the young man with more depth than Lloyd could muster. He reached over to his father giving him a shy hug that embarrassed them both.

“I wish you’d come and live with me, why do you insist on being alone?”

Lloyd remembered the warmth as he patted Eugene on the back and said with a benign voice.

“I love you Son for your goodness but I want my privacy and I want you and your family to have yours. There’s nothing worse in a house than a cranky old man. Besides you two are too lovey-dovey for me, always cuddling and patting each other’s behind and the cute names you call each other; I find it quite sickening really.”

The irony at the end of his speech shifted the mood. Father and son soon broke into laughter and the merriment accompanied them with the boxes. Lloyd had asked Eugene to bring all four to his new pad, as he called it and he would cull out anything that didn’t stir up any emotion from the past. He vowed to have it done this week.

With that last thought he removed the cover chucking it on the couch, telling the room out loud, “Now’s as good a time as any to toss away some of my past.”

He realized he couldn’t stand much longer. The box was too high on the tables so he placed it on the floor to his right and sat down. He dug out the first thing he found. He knew it would be there, he made sure it was there on the top. It was a white cardboard about a foot long and three inches wide. The edges were frayed like an old friendly shirt collar, indicative of the many times it was handled.
Along the cardboard’s center a blue faded ribbon was glued forming a silky embroidered spine. He held it in both hands, the long fingers reverent and protective. He held it to his heart and it emitted a vision so pure and sorrowing and sweetly joyful as could be possible. At that instant he knew with all certitude that this was the only memento he truly cherished, he experienced an intense awareness that the rest really didn’t matter. The memory the ribbon provoked schlepped the old man away. He leaned back on the sofa and remembered the day thirty years ago when Eugene came into his life.

He was fifty-five years old. His parents had died recently, within a week of each other, old age claiming one; old age compounded by loneliness took the other. He had been approached by a neighbour to rent the old homestead to the man’s grandson. The man explained that the youth was fatherless and troubled. He needed to be away from the vices of the large city life. Lloyd was against the idea in the beginning but when he met the lad he felt sorry for him, he was only nineteen and his girlfriend was four months pregnant. He remembered laughing inside at the young boy when he proudly exclaimed to Lloyd that he was going to be a famous poet someday. They stayed for six months. With their rent two months past due, he watched them sneak out in the middle of the night. He stood on the deck of his darkened house and made out the silhouette of a furniture-laden half ton pulling out of the driveway, its lights conspicuously out.

He was angry when he remembered they had no furniture when they came. They were leaving and stealing his rent money and his furniture also. The little bastards he thought. He could see the clock in the kitchen, it was just past three. The tired old farmhouse stood dark, even the outdoor lights had been extinguished.  The night was dim with the moon being a faint cuticle in the sky. Unorganized clouds sponged up the faint starlight even. Amazingly an odd thing happened; he felt the skin tighten on his neck. He swore he could see a faint aura over the house. It wasn’t lights of any kind but a sense, a presence he felt.

He reacted as if his parent’s place was on fire hurrying back to his kitchen to retrieve his flashlight.  He didn’t even bother to put on his boots but ran across the field in his stocking feet, lamp in hand. The field had just been mowed, stiff bristle poked through the fibres of his socks, some cutting. He knew his feet were bleeding but sped up reaching the house breathless.

He gasped and gulped trying to ease his breathing. He tried the front door as he drew large breaths and it swung open with a disturbing yawn. He stepped into the hallway and from the recesses of the darkness came the saddest, softest whimpers he had ever heard.

“The uncaring little turds”, he said out loud thinking they had abandoned a puppy. His booming voice had a startling effect, a weak tiny voice wailed from upstairs. He had dizzied for a moment then as he realized they had left their baby. He rushed upstairs cursing the selfish teenagers. The sobs grew louder, more shrilling as he followed the sound coming from the far bedroom

The lonely pleas suddenly stopped when he entered the chamber. Moving his light about the room he soon found the source of the noise in the night. There was a heavy corrugated box on the bed, the kind the grocery stores ship bananas in. He walked slowly to the bed almost scared of what he might find. The box jiggled as he approached with something moving about inside. He neared the red and white carton shining his light into the box.  The bright
beam startled the wee creature and it cried out in protest. Lloyd moved the light from the baby but kept the child in the penumbra.

The baby quieted, it didn’t look as if it could even see it was so small. There was a yellow and white quilted blanket wrapped about its small frame. It pursed its tiny lips. Its nose was red, smeared with moisture. Its eyes were the size of dimes and as dark as his old cellar, no cornea visible, just two innocent and harmless pools. A wisp of brownish down covered the immature dome. The baby’s fontanelles were apart and the infant’s heartbeat pulsed in the soft spot. Its fists were like tiny pink walnuts that batted at the air. Around one thin wrist was tied a blue ribbon.

Nothing stirred, neither moved but the baby knew someone was close, a mystery undefined. The stillness was soon shattered as the tiny lungs proclaimed in the only language it knew, “pick me up”. Lloyd set the flashlight on the bed and cradled the small body in his muscled arms. He cooed and chanted softly a lullaby he heard many years before. The sobs soon ceased. The baby’s eyes stared into the nether blinking back the sleep. It was almost as if it didn’t want to miss this moment but weariness over came the child, the fragile lids grew lazy. Soon the baby was sleeping, never stirring as Lloyd carried it to his house.  Crossing the field late at night, a week old baby asleep in his arms was the last of the memory before he dozed off, slumped over on the couch.

Two hours later the pain hit him in the chest. It was if someone struck him with a wide plank. It burnt like a hundred fires and covered all his upper body. The room’s lights were still on as Lloyd Minister gasped his final breaths, the cardboard and ribbon crushed in his grip. His last thought as he lay there dying was his son’s voice when he left that night.

“I love you Dad”.
 
The End
 
 
 
 
 
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Saturday, 9 December 2017

Guest Author Diane Carmel Leger of New Brunswick


 
 
 

The Scribbler is pleased to have Diane as our featured guest this week. We met several years ago at a Writer’s Federation function and she has agreed to be part of a 4Q Interview.
She is an award-winning bilingual author who grew up in Memramcook, New Brunswick. Besides her dozen books, Diane also wrote her translations. On the East Coast, she is best-known for her novel, La butte a Petard, winner of the 2006 Hackmatack Award. On the West Coast, Diane is remembered for the Vancouver Island picture book, Maxine’s Tree*, a Canadian bestseller, praised by Farley Mowat as "the kind of book I wish I had had as a child". It raised a controversy which lasted for weeks in the early 1990’s, when a pro-clear-cut logging group called for its ban from libraries in B.C. schools. It remained on the shelves and was listed as one of the events of 1992 in the Globe and Mail.
 
 
4Q: Thank you Diane for being our guest this week. It must be very special when your work gets noticed. Please tell us about the Hackmatack Award for La butte a Petard.
 
 
 
DL: Winning the Hackmatack was a wonderful reward for being true to myself. It meant a lot to me that young readers in the Maritimes chose this novel, which I wrote when I was longing for N.B. I received it just a few months before I finally moved back home after 20 years in Victoria. What a great welcome!
When I was growing up, I thought that the language spoken in my village was inferior to the Québécois French or the European French heard on the radio and television.
In the High School away from my village, classmates laughed at my accent and some of my words, so I rarely spoke in class.
At the Université de Moncton, while studying Acadian History, I was elated to learn that words I frequently spoke were Old French, a legacy from my Acadian ancestors. I felt that by speaking those precious words, I was honouring my ancestors, my village, my family and myself.  This gave me confidence.
As an adult, I insisted on using some of those words in my first book, even though there was a chance it might be rejected by the publisher, readers, and critics. La butte à Pétard won an honorable mention for the 1990 Prix France-Acadie, and later, the augmented edition won the 2006 Hackmatack Award. It has been continually published since 1989. Along with its sequels, it has been used in schools across Canada and in Louisiana as an introduction to the history of Acadians.
For the last 30 years, I have kept my Acadian accent and continue to speak those words on the radio, television and in presentations to audiences across Canada and in Louisiana. Being true to myself, led to a wonderful writing career.
 
 
4Q: You write mainly in French with several works in English. It must be rewarding to entertain in both languages. Please tell us about that experience.
DL: Yes it is… and I revel in it! My father was a Francophone and my mother, an Anglophone so naturally I love both languages equally.
My mother, Sheila Tower, was from Dorchester, and a voracious reader. Thanks to her, I am an English and French author!
 
 
 
 
In 1963, Acadian children with an Anglophone mother were automatically sent to English schools. That was the rule in my 99% French community. Despite being intimidated by the education system, my very young mother was adamant that I go to a French school. My mother often said that insisting her six children go to school in French was one of the best things that she had ever done.
My father, Raymond E. Léger was an Acadian from Memramcook who sang every day and recited La Fontaine’s fables at work!
Surprisingly, for a man who never sat still long enough to read a book, my father became a most unusual literary agent! His enthusiasm and support for my first book gave me the confidence to send its manuscript to a publisher. He sold hundreds if not thousands of La butte à Pétard. Even at the end of his life, unable to move from his hospital bed, he sold my books to the nurses!
 
 
 
 
4Q: Please correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t your latest publication My Two Grandmothers? Can you share what your inspiration was for this story? 
 
DL: Yes, it is my latest in English. My Two Grandmothers (like the French version, Mémére Soleil, Nannie Lune), is a true account meant to poke gentle fun at the differences between my Acadian grandmother, Hermance, who ran a general store in my village, and my Scottish grandmother, Henrietta, who lived in the nearby village of Dorchester.
I love reading these books and imitating my grandmothers, who were as different from each other as the sun from the moon, with only their grandchildren in common. Children and adults respond very well to this book. The teacher in me is pleased to have inspired people of all ages to write stories about their own grandparents. 
My latest book in French, L’Acadie en baratte, was published in October. It is about an Acadian grandmother and her Québécois grandson who go on a whimsical camping tour of the Maritimes in her old Westfalia.
It is not because I am a new grandmother that I have written these last two stories. Grandparents have been characters in my books from the first one. As a matter of fact, Nannie from My Two Grandmothers is also the great-grandmother in Maxine’s Tree.  I actually wrote My Two Grandmothers 25 years ago before it was finally published in 2016! So to you writers out there: hang on to the stories that are dear to you!
 
4Q:  Lastly, please tell us what is in the future for Diane Carmel Leger.
 
 
DL: I have my fingers crossed for a couple of English manuscripts being considered by publishers. I will have a new French novel in bookstores this summer, if all goes as planned. Experience has taught me not to speak about a book before I have it in my hands. Delays happen often in the publishing world. A writer must be very patient!
 
 
 
 
Thank you Diane for being our guest this week. Happy writing and best wishes for all your future works.
You can read more about Diane and her books by going to these links.
dianecarmelleger.com
Facebook: Diane Carmel Léger-Children’s author
Facebook : Diane Carmel Léger-Auteure jeunesse
*Maxine’s Tree is no longer available from the publisher, but can be purchased at Chapters in Dieppe, N.B., or during Diane’s author visits.
 
 
Thank you dear reader for visiting.
 
Who is your favorite Author? 
 
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Sunday, 3 December 2017

Guest Author John Sutherland

This week the Scribbler welcomes award winning author, John Sutherland of Fredericton, New Brunswick. He shares samples of his clever stories and novels. Make sure you check them out.


I was born in northern England, York, during WWII. I remember bombers, airplanes thick in the sky, heading west; finding a small hand dropped bomb, seeing the ruins of a house near us demolished by a failed bomb, and seeing the stucco on houses riddled with strafing bullets.

I am still haunted by the gut-gripping sensation of an air-raid siren. 

I was brought up in York, but spent most of my holidays on my uncle’s farm in Teesdale, without electricity or hot running water. And an out-door privy. Oh, joy! 

Somehow, after grammar school, and university, I wound up in Canada. I’m still here, and a member of a wonderful little writing group in Fredericton.

 

 

 

 

Below are the teasers (some a little modified) for each of my 'Tales Told Out Of School’ stories, that are on inkitt.com   under johnksutherland. They are warmly erotic, but at the same time, all are romances that end happily. I added a few others, as space allowed. 
 
 

1. A Kitten in Delightful Trouble.


 
Teaser: Erin was hung up on the steep ramp of the old barn, her skirt trapped behind her, pulled tight under her breasts, and exposing everything. She had splinters sticking everywhere. Then, he walked in and saw her.


Blurb: Erin and her four friends went looking for the old cat's kittens, finding the last one in the top of the barn which was out-of-bounds to them. After a few minutes, they heard the stable door open, and close. Someone was coming! They should not be caught here. They scattered. Erin was last. She decided to use the old hay ramp, slide down it, and go. She slipped, slammed down hard onto the wooden surface with a shout, and slid down on her backside, picking up wooden splinters in the most tender parts of her anatomy on the way down. About four feet down she was brought to a sudden stop by her skirt, caught on the edge of the ramp behind and above her. The waist of her skirt was wrenched up her body. Her breasts were all that stopped it finishing up under her armpits, or her losing it altogether. Her panties were pulled tight to the point of murder, buttons flew off her blouse, her bra felt as though it was not long for this world, and she was well and truly stuck. 

Then he walked in and saw her. What price would she be made to pay to enlist his help before she could escape back to school? If he would let her go. The next two hours changed both of their lives in a revolutionary way.

 

2. A Mind Of Her Own.


 
 
Teaser:  Susan awoke. She sat up under the mosquito net, feeling, and seeing that she was completely naked. She recognized nothing, did not know where she was. She remembered some of what had happened the previous night and she began to panic.

 

3. On Being A Man In A Girls’ School. 
 

Teaser: They met in the School Office on the first day for both of them. He was the new maintenance man, and she, an older student. There had been a connection between them almost from the start. It only grew from there. Then one day, a year later, it exploded.


 

4. Iris Corrects An Unfortunate Mistake.

 

Teaser: Iris led him into the girls’ deserted changing room to see to his stings. No one would disturb them there. He was nervous with her being so lightly dressed after gymnastics, and not knowing what she intended for him. Then she sat opposite him and picked up his hand. He knew then that he might not get out alive!

 

5. A Runaway Situation.

 
 


Teaser: 'It was the night of the heavy rains when Angela opened the dormitory door to see Robert standing there with a small and sodden bundle in his arms; one of the lower school girls that he had found somewhere outside. Angela had expected the principal at that time of night. The other girls had retired. She was in only her nightdress. Mostly in it! And, boy, did she get to meet him!'

 

6. Stuck, on a ladder.

 

Teaser: Marilyn is at the top of his ladder, frozen in fear. This plan of hers had gone seriously off track. The other girls had swarmed her, almost getting away with her panties and skirt, as well as her bra. He can see almost everything about her as he climbed. Getting her down would be hell. Or heaven.

 

7. Eunice Dyson’s Lost Panties.

 

Teaser: Eunice was in a panic. She had lost her panties on the fells in the wind that had sprung up as she and her friends had bathed in that pool. She imagined the worst things possible when they were found with her name sewn in them. She was not prepared for what actually happened.

 

And teasers of a few Polite Romances.

 

'The Caroline.'

 

 
 
Teaser: Would you wager your sister, as well as everything you owned in a poker game? Robert did, thinking he could not lose, and died for it when he played Wyatt, a man who cheated much better than he did. Wyatt, had waited years to be revenged on that family. The man won everything, including Caroline, the sister. Then, she learns of the wager!  Wyatt has some explaining to do, and to a decisive woman!

 

'Saving Selena.'

 

Teaser: Robert leaves home, never to return, after making love to his twin brother’s fiancé, falling in love with her. Selena had mistaken him for Charles, and he had been unable to tell her of her mistake. Ten years later, learning of his brother’s untimely death, and that the title is now his, Captain, Lord Robert Penfield returns to what awaits him. His life will never be the same.

 

'In Love and War.’
 


 

Teaser: Seven Confederates ride onto the plantation with drawn guns. Elizabeth snatches up a gun to meet them. Now, seven men lie dead around the yard. Another lies wounded; a southern Yankee! Where did he come from? And he did all this? They could not believe it, except they had seen it all. He changes their lives forever.

 

Deception by Proxy (my first Novel)

 
 
 
**Authors note: This story will appear weekly on his blog (see address below). The first two chapters are online and available for reading now.




Teaser: A ruthless villain marries your dying sister and comes into your family. He remains tied to your family by that marriage and a promise made to your dying father. You would kill him to protect them from him, before he learns the real secret that you hide, but you cannot. You are caught in his spell. Then your sisters conspire to have him seduce you! By then, it is too late.

 

 
Thank you John for being our guest this week and offering us some teasers for your work.

A special thanks to you, the visitor. For those looking for more information on John and his books please go to www.johnksutherland.com
 
 
 
*******Don't forget to enter your name and contact email address in the comments box below, or comment by email box above, for a free copy of the Wall of War to be drawn the first of January, 2018


 
 
 
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