Short Story Excerpt – Blue Spruce

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Hey, What the hell are you doing?!!  

What the hell is that loser doing?  

Get off my property!  

Hey – He’s got a knife.  Said the guy as he jumped down the 4 concrete stairs to get Joe. 

Joe, scared shitless, dropped the bulging scab of fragrant sap he was cutting off the trunk of a gnarly blue spruce tree on these guys front lawn.    Joe bolted from underneath the comforting skirt of the blue tree.   Sprinting he glanced at his car parked across the street.   After 4 blocks Joe stopped running, bent over heaving for breath and sweating in the cool November dusk. The sticky of the sap on his hand stuck the knife to his hand. In the panic of being hunted down he hadn’t dropped his knife. 

Laura closes the door to their apartment after her shift at the restaurant.

Hi babe, um I need you to get my car; pick up my car.  I had to leave it on McIntosh Street.

Joe didn’t even give her time to take her coat off.

You know I don’t have a license.’ Laura rattles her head.

You know I wouldn’t ask you if it wasn’t important

You know you have a brother you can ask to do this.’ Laura reminds him

You know I can’t

You know I have no idea what is going on.’  Laura deflates.

Joe explained his suburban sap stealing catastrophe.

You know you totally could have just asked those guys to…, to harvest their sap for your fabulous incense collection.  Just fuckin knock on their door.  Right?   Laura bristles.

You know I know that.

You know…’  Laura stopped herself as she could feel the rock hard tension in her shoulders and sense the futility of generating a modicum of conversation.  Laura’s instinct kicked in and said to her – You know if you don’t leave this moron right now you are a bigger moron than he is.’ 

Laura redid up the same three buttons she had undone on her coat while Joe was ordering her to get his car.  

Her last ‘you know’ still hanging in the air like a silent fart in an elevator.  

With her coat now done up she texted her brother Sam right then and there, ‘I’m done with this clown.’  

Three weeks ago Sam was dropping Laura off at her and Joe’s basement apartment downtown.

‘Listen Laura, it’s your life and I respect that they are, basically, your emotions.  And, and I am not going to even attempt to control you or anything.  But with that said.‘That guy is a fucking clown.’  He was so infuriated he included the ‘g’ on fucking which not many people do.  ‘He’s an angry, angry clown.’  

Laura loved the protection love of her older brother for his sister as compared to some random boyfriend love jacked up on lust and of anti-loneliness.  

Sam is awesome.  Laura wants a boyfriend like Sam.  His wife Bernadette obviously is awesome because she married Sam.  Joe got wasted at Sam and Bernadette’s wedding.  It was a classic, long August day and dusk and night.  The wedding was at a lakeside resort where Sam had done some renovations so he knew the owners.  They had wooden cabins painted white with green trim in a three season resort.

With Laura now staying at his place Sam knocked on the door to Joe and Laura’s (former) apartment and realized there was no point so he walked right in.

‘Dude – it’s over.  Laura’s not coming back.  Sam emptied Laura’s drawers with Black Friday abandon.  ‘I Will be back on the weekend for her furniture.  We both know most of it belongs to Laura.

Sam left the now bare drawers of Laura’s dresser sagging open and took 2 large suitcases without even offering a ‘later loser’ or anything to Joe.
Joe, unable to process the moment using his smartass outlook, stood in the abyss of a  lonely minute, turned around to face nobody, then he got high.  Joe had a unibrow you could see from space but only an emerging moustache so soft you could have used it as a dust brush for your Lp records back in the day.  He had jet black hair and grey eyes that everyone commented how they seemed to change in the light. That was what had won over Laura 11 months ago.

Blurred Vision: Men’s Journal

Sad story, good writing

Matthew Bremner: Journalist

IN THE GRAINY CELL PHONE VIDEO, Sebastian Woodroffe is struggling to stand. Dressed in jean shorts and a black sweatshirt, he’s lying in a puddle, clearly in pain, moaning and gurgling in the blood and the dirt. If he has not embraced his fate, he has at least acknowledged it. Around him, on a soggy, green clearing in a jungle settlement, a crowd has formed. The villagers, maybe 25 in all, mostly men, scream and shriek. “Why did you kill her, you son of a bitch?!” one bellows in an indigenous tongue. Others stand under the thatched awning of a shack, saying nothing; schoolchildren mill around.

A man in a baseball hat then tries to loop a seat belt around Woodroffe’s neck. He throws it off. The man tries again and gets the noose tight around Woodroffe’s throat. Someone shouts, “Pull, pull!” and the man does. He and…

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Final Excerpt of short story – The Coffin

Photo by Roseanna Smith on Unsplash


His husband love got overtaken by business.  In the moment he justified his focus on growing the business.  And his children’s inheritance will prove he was successful – was his mental argument he would have with himself, as he raked leaves or swept the driveway – as a way to  assuage the discomfort of regret.

Gord felt he didn’t have the connection with his children for the same reason as when they were growing up he was growing his business.  Selling plumbing supplies came easier to him than being there for his children.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be there. It’s that if he didn’t grow his business no one else would.  Plus this business put food on the table and would pay for university as long as he kept his foot on the gas and didn’t let up. 

‘There are different kinds of love, sweetheart!’  Gord remembers growling over his shoulder at Linda.  His teeth were clenched down hard perhaps in an attempt to not let these silly words out.  He can see it now.  They were in their bedroom one Saturday morning when he was getting ready for work instead of taking Phil to hockey practice and teaching Martha to skate and buying the groceries with Sue.

‘Of course there are different kinds of love.’  Linda was paused by her absolute frustration that her good husband still didn’t get it.’  That’s the point!’  Linda schooled Gord looking him right in the eyes as he buttoned his shirt.  Linda’s abstention from swearing gave her message that much more ummph.  She was no longer in an argument with him but had already transported herself to how it was going to feel in the car later that morning as she drove Phil to Saturday morning hockey practice instead of his dad. Gord could feel Linda’s disappointment but he couldn’t somehow say he was sorry.  Because, he told himself in the moment some 35 years ago, he wasn’t sorry because he was supporting his family.  This memory, and others, were the life recordings that went through Gord’s mind as he would slowly sweep the clean front walk of its minimal weekday dirt.  

In the few years since the death of his wife Gord had this urge to connect with his family so they know their unique value.  Therefore his anchored vision project.  Yes it would have been easier to say he loved them.  And that if he had failed in some ways as a father he was sorry.  But that would have been like the first route he walks in the mornings: short and simple and gets the job done without complications.

Mercifully Gord heard the toilet flush all the way down the hall which yanked him out of his swamp of regret. 

‘It’s all very spiritual and transformative and, and, and earthy.’  Cedar vibrated her hands at her sides as she sat back down to show Gord how she was impacted by their chat.

‘Yes but without the sweat lodge.’  Gord fake laughs quickly. ‘ Or if you want the sweat lodge go for it.  That was never my thing.’  Gord was trying to be funny in case he was coming on too strong.

‘What was your thing GG?’ Cedar asked, using her position as the preferred grandchild to be so direct.

‘I …’  Gord’s shoulders briefly pumped up and down as he gazed out the kitchen window looking out over the driveway and leaned back into his personal journey.

‘My thing would be whatever my thing was at the time.  One thing at a time.  When your grandmother was sick, that was my thing.  When I started my business, that became my thing.  When each child was born, that was my thing.  But, as the years went on, with each child it was less of a thing.’  Gord paused and looked into Cedar’s eyes because Cedar’s mother Martha was his third and last child.  They could both feel that this could be taken to mean that her mother’s  birth and existence amounted to less than the birth of her two older siblings.  

“You mom being the third wasn’t loved less by any means.  There was just, I don’t know, more going on and as parents we weren’t petrified as we were when your uncle Phil was born.’ 

Cedar was the third child as well.  By 7 minutes.  Her twin brother Red went to the light before she did.  

Was I less of a thing? Cedar had never even thought of it.  In the moment she felt good about being a twin, or having Red as her twin because of how it echoed her existence.  Gord saw her face quickly disappear inside of herself but didn’t grasp she was cherishing her birth not feeling any anger for getting the bronze medal.  She was very happy to be on the podium.

‘You and Red were born at the same time so you were a big deal.  A lot of diapers.  Jack loved being your older brother, he was like a mini dad organizing your toys, helping you walk.

‘Actually when your mom told me she was having twins I thought it was great.  But then she said, I have to confirm it with the doctor.  And that always stuck with me.  How did she know?  Now Gord was lost inside his mind where fireworks were going off of beautiful family memories.  And then, as it had come to be a recent habit, it circled quickly back around to Linda.

‘Your grandmother always loved the whole mystery of giving a child a name.  It gave her joy and energy so for me I couldn’t see how others saw it as overbearing or imposing.  Anyway it would be an innocent imposition.  She would bring her little notebook and look into her child’s eyes for a clue – then look to the sky for inspiration. She really loved doing it and thought it was her role to participate.   Martha says it was the only time she saw her mother write.  That wasn’t true.  Martha just felt that they were her children and she, plus her husband, had the ability to name them.’  

‘So how did she know?’  Prompted Cedar for more information on her mother being a young mother.  She wanted to admire her mom as the young, dynamic woman she could see in family photos before she was transformed into a bossy mom.

‘Know what?’

‘That she was pregnant with twins?’  The juicy confessional type of conversation with GG was so novel and satisfying.

‘I didn’t really capture that.  Martha came up with your names before your grandmother could really process that there would be twins and get her motor running, so to speak, on what could be possible matching names.  And truth be told, the names Red and Cedar that your mom had already come up with were so far off Linda’s screen that, well there was nothing to say really.’’

‘So my mom came up with the idea for our names?’  Cedar couldn’t remember asking and hadn’t really ever wanted to get into it.  Her brother had a bit of a hard time because his name was Red but as life would have it Cedar got the red hair of the two.  It confused people that a guy named Red didn’t have red hair but he had a twin sister who did.  So they would get bullied in high school.  That’s what teenagers do when they are presented with something that is beyond their grasp.  They would stand up for each other but he was basically a wimp so he got brushed aside.  Guys would even just hug him instead of beating on him.  Beating on Red was so easy, it was comical.  

As a result, sometimes they would play down they were twins, and a few times even siblings.  There was no abandonment of one by the other.  It was actually an effective teenage social strategy.  It was a way to avoid ridicule.  They would retreat into the fact that they were twins born Geminis.  Twins squared.  It made no difference to anyone who wasn’t them but it just made the route to get to them emotionally more convoluted so it provided an extra layer of protection.  

But in the same breath, in high school her name gave her a way to sound different.  Which she liked because it mirrored the way she felt.  It also spiced up how she dressed and helped her come into her own style.  Tall with her long, wavy red hair she took on a Boho look that seemed to work for her.  

‘I remember your mom saying that she loved the red cedar trees because…’  Gord started.

‘Wait GG.  Actually, I think I will ask my mom about our names.  If you don’t mind.’  Even though she was eagerly soaking up the downloading of family history from her grandfather she stopped him.  

‘We haven’t avoided the conversation, we just made sure we never had it.’  Cedar explained to her grandfather.  As it came out of her mouth she could hear how lame it sounded, but it was basically true.

Cedar was glad she had dragged their good-byes outside because in that way it broke the proximity of the two of them that had grown around the kitchen table.  She didn’t want a hug so Cedar fumbled with buttoning her coat moving toward the door.  Cedar skipped down the stairs and they waved good-bye.   Cedar put in her ears buds as she turned right to catch the bus uptown.   As Gord stood on his front steps breathing the cooling November evening Cedar was reconnecting with the sound track of her generation.  Gord, GG, dad, daddy, hesitated.  He stood on the front steps of his fully paid off house, where 3 beautiful children knew innocence  and joy; where Linda, his wife would bring each of them home from the hospital and nurture them with sincere service that inspired and humbled Gord.

Waiting till after Cedar had turned the corner he then headed back to his garage.   The same garage where he started his plumbing business.  The same garage that was his first warehouse for his plumbing supply business.    This old man was in a negotiation with his own shoulders to determine if he walked back with the hunched shoulders of a defeated man who had nothing better to do than to test drive his coffin.  Or if he was an aging man engaging the role of elder as he addressed mortality with humility/fear/awe/respect.   

Gord was comfortable in his coffin.  It was only the second time he had laid down in it. He kind of felt like a Formula 1 driver slipping into their sleek race car. He had used his yellow measuring tape to get his height and width and depth.  Then he added 6 inches to each measurement.  It was snug, not cramped. 

Kingdom

dripping with wisdom

The Lightening bug

There’s a Kingdom ruled by insecurities,
A land so dark, glistening In hatred,
Soldier of confidence weak and tame,
Sapling of doubts tall and grand,
Inner peace banished to a distant land.

There no king or queen to this uncanny place,
But a master and slave to one’s own self,
Demons are always at war and never quiet,
Terror reigns and there’s no place to hide,
The screams are quiet and tears have dried,
There’s an uproar, “Long live the kingdom! Long live the king”

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Which parts of kid’s brain become activated during film watching to experience the real perceptions of life, objects and happenings?

really important topic and well written

Learnography

Why are we so much connected to the characters, dialogues, behavioral acting, tragedy and places of the film?

In the theater, we believe that the events of film projection are real happenings. Sometimes we laugh on comedy or weep during the watching of pathetic scenes. Where is reality and why do we attach so much to film, music, songs or videos?

We know that the film watching is not real and this is the projection of moving images integrated with enhanced sound systems. Actors have played distinguished characters and highly emotional scenes are prepared with special graphic effects and vector lighting arrangements.

High definition film watching happens due to the strong connectivity of emotions that is produced by the limbic circuit of brain. It is also true that we can rehearse the cyclozeid mechanism of deep emotion connectivity in the knowledge transfer of school system. Will our students be able…

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Next excerpt of the short story – The Coffin

Photo by Ramazan Tokay on Unsplash

‘Or’  Gord, trying to ease the blow of any rejection coming his way said ‘Maybe I have too much time on my hands’.  Being retired and widowed it wasn’t exactly untrue.

‘Wow GG!  That is cool.  I like that.  And I get to choose my own phrase?’

‘Yes!  Of course you write it’

‘And my object’

‘Yes that too.  But.’  Gord put up his right index finger to emphasize his point.  ‘Preferably it is not your phone.  You know something organic.  I suggest a crystal.

‘So the process I go through is write down on a piece of paper the name of one of my children, get out their crystal, then I list some of their good qualities and dwell in them’

Normally he leaves his washed dinner plate in the sink, and puts the electric kettle on. While the water was boiling he would put on his pyjamas and get out his crystal set.  He kept it in a shoe box in the drawer in the cabinet in the dining room. 

Sitting at the dining room table with his cup of chamomile tea, cozy pj’s and comfy socks he would choose one of the three crystals.   Today was: Sue – Rose Quartz.  It isn’t everyday that he does his crystal ritual but the last time he did, it was Phil’s turn: Phil – Amethyst.  After today the next one would be: Martha – Larimar.  

‘Sue got the rose quartz because apparently it helps to enhance self-love.  And Sue needs that.  She has always needed that.  She kind of fell in the space between your grandmother and me.  She didn’t want to impose on anyone but she got so good at it you forgot she was there.  The one time that Phil and I go out for a beer to watch the hockey playoffs at the pub is the night Sue was going to prom so I wasn’t home to see her in prom her dress and meet the guy and do all that dad protecting his daughter stuff.  This was in the era before cell phones but I still don’t know how I missed that.  So when I got home my wife didn’t know what to do with me.  I had finally gone to spend time with my only son and I missed a once in a lifetime event for my daughter.  My point is I am aware that I was not the steel to Phil’s flint.  He wanted to light up life, get stuff done.’

Gord felt cleansed having explained his reasons and ritual to Cedar so she could see the importance of her role and be strong in case anyone tried to minimize the activity (Phil), take ownership of it (Martha) or just take the crystal and put on her windowsill and call it a keepsake of dad.’  As Gord mentioned each of his children’s names his body would contort in such a small, unconscious reaction to how they lived in his mind.  Thinking of Phil, his back would straighten.  When talking about Martha his head would tilt upwards and with Sue his shoulders would drop.  With Phil Gord felt a challenge between men more than a sense of being a guiding elder.  Martha she had always had big ideas that could make you wonder.  Sue wasn’t fat but Gord’s body gave way to the weight of her lack of initiative.

‘Intense – there is a lot going on.’ Then came another pause.  Gord was relieved to see Cedar processing the idea.  He might have been surprised by the dichotomy of her feelings in the moment. She was amazed by her grandfather’s creativity.  Yet at the same time Cedar was confused about why he was making such an intricate ritual instead of just talking directly to his children.’ 

Gord was happy with himself because he felt he was right in explaining his anchored vision to Cedar first before approaching his children.  She could be his marketing department.  Her mother was in the marketing business so Cedar would have it in her blood.  By skipping to the next generation there would be less rejection than with his own children – Gord had figured.  At this point he seemed right.  He assumed his children would listen to Cedar.   And Cedar loved being chosen.   

‘Where in the world did you come up with this idea GG?’

‘Well at my stage in life and … with your grandmother passed away I just started reading about, you know, life.  Death, what have you.  It’s not fair, that if someone wants clarity and preparation about death they come across as a cold funeral director.   When my time comes I want things to be ready and clear so all the emotions like sadness and grief, disbelief and regret, love and appreciation, admiration and forgiveness and acceptance don’t get absorbed by funeral arrangements.  That’s not fair to the person or the process.’

‘Hmmph’  Cedar was getting overloaded with new info, powerful concepts and the emotion they were connecting to.   

‘So’  Gord continued,  ‘So my idea is really not that new.  In the past, I have discovered,  people have used the mind to heal and travel and see things in other parts of the world.  And I came across this whole idea of epigenetics from a guy named Bruce Lipton talking about genes, DNA and belief.’  Gord’s hands were carving the air as a means to capture the impact of what he wanted to transmit.  

‘It was really, really amazing to hear and challenging to read.  Did you know what the word generation says? It says gene – ration.’

What?  

Yes, the word generation can be split into two words – gene and ration.  So …’

Cedar had reached her maximum of what she could take in.  She pulled up the blanket and didn’t hear a thing Gord was saying.  

Her mind quickly wondered what her inheritance would be, just hypothesizing it was in the next 2 years or so, she could go travelling before going to university.  Her mom had studied marketing and it seemed cool.  But stressful.  Marketing and all that was super important in the moment but rendered meaningless days or weeks later by the same market that had made it vital..  But Cedar liked the psychology part of trying to figure out why people do what they do and seeing if you can be in the future of their own decisions before they are.

‘I can see your mind has gone elsewhere, Cedar.’  Gord observed

‘Oh sorry, so sorry GG.   Cedar sipped her tea and looked Gord in the eye to show her sincerity.    ‘I am just…  Well I am really surprised by all this and it’s a lot to process.’

‘I agree.  Death is a funny topic.’  The cool air of Gord’s house turned cold as the afternoon aged. ‘ It’s an even funnier experience.’

‘Wait, how is death funny GG?’  Cedar says not really ready for more information but a little insulted.

‘Well death itself isn’t funny.  I agree with you.   You are right.’  Cedar hadn’t said anything about death not being funny but Gord was using his sales techniques to put himself, and his goal, on the same page as Cedar.

‘What I mean is how we react to death, the passing of the person, the emotions of the past and next steps.  It is a process that we all go through – so in that there is no freedom of choice.  But.’  The right index finger appeared again.  ‘There is a complete freedom in how we think about it.  And this is what led me to this idea of an anchored vision thing. Gord threw on the ‘thing’ word at the end as a kind of hook to make the concept less heavy.  More portable. Gord still hadn’t explained why he said death was funny but Cedar didn’t want to get into it.

‘I need to go to the bathroom.’  Cedar announced as she put down her mug of tea, grabbed her phone from the kitchen table, stretched her arms and neck and walked down the hall from Gord’s kitchen. She loved this house where they had spent years of Thanksgiving Sundays and Christmas dinners.  

Linda and Gord never renovated their home like lots of people in the neighbourhood did.  By the time they had the money Linda didn’t see the point with their children on their way out.  It would be just the two of them living in the house in a few years.  The one thing Gord insisted on was putting in a door from their bedroom to the bathroom so now it was an ensuite washroom that continued to have access from the hallway.  

And for a guy who had his own freakin’ plumbing supply company, why did he still have one of those antique porcelain sinks?  Gord figured Linda wasn’t into modern bathroom fixtures.  So he simply took the best sinks and bathtubs when other people renovated their bathroom.  Linda saw the satisfaction in her husband when he salvaged (with the help of a few of his plumber friends/clients) the best old school taps and faucets and towel racks and tiles.  So the taps in his bathroom had the black letters H for hot and C for cold on the little white porcelain cap. In between them was the cast iron fawcett.  It was white tile with a black tile border throughout.  Elegant but sturdy, just the way Gord liked it.  

To the right of the fawcett was a short tumbler with a single bamboo toothbrush.  Another gift from a grandchild.  To the left of the fawcett was the small yellow box of baking soda Gord used as toothpaste.

In Cedar’s absence Gord thought how he saw the anchored vision was an expression of the Art of War.  The Art of War, for him, was to secure peace and harvest the opportunity that peace provided.  Which is exactly what Gord wanted.  Some peace.  It wasn’t like his life was hectic.  On the contrary.  He woke up every morning without an alarm and made coffee.  When it was light enough out he would go for his walk around the neighbourhood.  He had two routes.  The short loop which he would do if it was raining or cold or that was the energy he had that morning.  The second loop meant he had to cross at the traffic lights so he could get to the park and see people with their dogs and smell the earth and leaves.

Back at home he would make breakfast and read and follow up on emails.  The afternoon included a nap and some kind of outdoor chore around the house for the fresh air and as a strategy to see one of his neighbours for a chat.  He spaced out his day with activities so he could never get too lonely or get caught spiralling down into a funk of missing Linda.   It has been almost 3 years since she died.  An x-ray of his sadness would have revealed that he was not missing Linda that much anymore as a person but of having the role of her husband.  Of being of service to her well being as his wife.   What didn’t let him live in peace was some feeling that he should have or could’ve done more in their marriage.  Should have taken the time, could have filled out the moments.