Monthly Archives: March 2013

Flash Fiction…

Here’s a great site for writers, and the author of this blog is hilarious. Here’s the link to his blog. “Chuck, you are one funny fellow. Keep up the good work!”

Anyway, here’s my flash fiction content, about The Secret Door. I wrote this in about 40 minutes. 1,000 words, with minor editing. Let me know what you think.

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Hey, I’ll be right back,” Denny said. “I just gotta take a leak.

He left the table and staggered a little down the bar, past the photos on the wall and past the garish painting of a blue nude woman in another bar. The bathroom reeked of disinfectant and the pungent aroma of stale piss. Someone had failed to flush the urinal. A stub of a Dunhill floated in the antifreeze-colored water. Great. Some goddamn slob.

Denny stood there, weaving slightly, a few too many drafts and too many shots of whiskey. His head ached. He just wanted to finish his pint at the bar, say good bye to his work mates, and not be late picking up Mandy. She’d be royally pissed.

‘Damn it!’ A little urine had splashed onto his khakis. ‘Why the fuck do they make urinals so shallow? And why the hell did I wear kakis in the first place?’

He zipped up, dribbled cold water on his hands, and left the fetid john. He opened the door. He didn’t hear a sound. No laughter, no one yelling at the TV, no…nothing.

He turned the corner, and the bar was empty. Only a penguin in a top hat acknowledged his presence. His half-finished pint was still on the bar, awaiting his return. Not a goddamn person in the joint.

“What the…?” he said, and trailed off. The TVs were still on, but not one person was inside Delilah’s. There was that mannequin in the corner, pretending to be texting, but that was just to fool the newcomers. It was always a hoot watching their expressions when they finally realized it was just a dummy.

Denny shuffled to the bar, bewildered by the scene. He gave a quick glance outside and shook his head. He thought he saw a ghost of a car whizzing by. ‘Get yourself together, asshole,’ he muttered to himself.

What the hell was going on? He sat down and polished off his Arcadia. He looked up at the gleaming bottles stacked in the bar. ‘Christ, look at those whiskeys.’  He allowed his eyes to roam the well-stocked bar, gazing at all the single malts. He wished he could afford even one of them. His co-workers had bought every round, but now they were nowhere to be seen.

Where the hell was everyone? Jesus Christ. What the fuck happened here? The TVs were on, but there was no sound. And the stereo kept playing a strange set of notes, like wind chimes and a doorbell, with a few off-key notes from a piano that resonated, over and over again. It was driving him nuts.

“Hello!” he called out. Nothing. Not even the mannequin looked up.

‘Hmm,’ Denny thought. “If no one is here, then maybe I can just help myself to the bar.’

He got up off his tattered bar stool and weaved to the end of the bar. He marveled at the tin ceiling, at the myriad of fleur-de-lis motifs. He was struck by the magnificence of a photo of an eagle. The entire bar was filled with photos.  He squeezed by a fridge loaded with beers from around the world.

“Well, what’ll it be, matey?” he asked himself. “ Well, barkeep, I reckon I’ll settle for a bottle of your MaCallan 1926, if you don’t mind.”

Denny reached up to the top shelf and pulled down the expensive whiskey. Hell, why not pour a full tumbler instead of a damn shot?

He ambled out from behind the bar and saw the sign on the women’s bathroom door. He thought he’d have to come back on Mondays; Delilah’s served dollar beer then, even though he hated punk. But a buck a pint? Somehow, he’d have to remember that. How can anyone pass that up?

He sat back down on his torn Jim Beam stool and waited for his friends to reappear. It was probably some elaborate joke they had pulled, something for his 40th birthday. He took a long swallow as his eyes returned to the rows of glistening whiskeys, all lined up, just waiting to become a phalanx of dead soldiers. Despite his throbbing head, he still had a mighty thirst. And Delilah’s did not disappoint.

Denny tried to focus on his watch, wondering if he had enough time to down a few more before meeting Mandy. She said she had a grand surprise for him, something he’d never forget.

That damn music was driving him batty. He walked around the bar again and turned it off. But it kept playing. The same damn three notes, over and over again. What the hell was going on?

Denny walked around the bar and made his way to the open front door. Two more ghost cars whizzed by him. He could see right through them. He turned, and shuffled back to his perch. He looked to his left and noticed the mannequin had disappeared. Or was it there to begin with?

Jesus, maybe one of his pals slipped him something. There was something very strange going on. A bar packed with people, laughing and talking and listening to the nonsense on TV and now, nothing. Except that goddamn three note crap coming from the speakers. How was that possible? He had turned the damn thing off.

Settling on his stool, he refreshed his drink.  “Hey, barkeep! How ‘bout another pint? I need a chaser with my whiskey!” Denny thought that enormously funny, and stumbled off his stool to pour himself an IPA.

He kept looking around, expecting everyone to pile out of the back door, with a cake and forty candles on it. Yeah, that’s probably what will happen. After all, he did have good friends.

He sat down heavily and took a swig. ‘I bet Mandy had something to do with this,’ he thought. ‘And any minute she’ll come through the door.’

Denny sat there, tired, and closed his eyes. The chimes played over and over as he drifted off to sleep.

 Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

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Finis…

002One day our son came home from school with a plastic bag filled with water. We were all packed and ready to go to Scituate for the weekend, to visit family. Inside the bag was a goldfish. Our son exclaimed, “We have to go to Wal-Mart! Right now! He needs food!”

First of all, what teacher gives every student a fish to bring home? We did not have a fish tank, and we couldn’t leave him in a plastic bag. I found a Tupperware container and slopped the fish and water in. I said to my son, “Don’t worry. He’ll be fine for two days. We’ll get food when we get back.” And then we left for our trip.

This  happened about four months ago. The reason I even mention this at all is because yesterday I went into my son’s room, to dutifully change the fish’s water, like I have been doing ever since the fish arrived in our home. By the way our son, quite cleverly, named the fish ‘Fins’.

So there I was, bringing the tiny tank I had purchased months ago into the kitchen, to change the rank water. But I noticed Fins wasn’t his usual frisky self, darting from side to side. He was lethargic. I gently took him out with a net and put him in some fresh water. He remained listless. I emptied the water, washed the rocks and fake seaweed and the ‘Surf’s Up’ little sign I had bought.

When it was clean I added fresh water, along with a water conditioner, stirred the tank, and returned Fins to his newly replenished home. He remained listless, almost comatose. I sprinkled in some choice salmon flakes (our cat Boo loves them) but still no response.

During the day I continued to check up on him. I’d open the tank and stir the water, and once in a while Fins would stir. But then he’d (I am only guessing it was a he) became lethargic again, and his head would bob, as though he was bottom feeding.

My son came home from school with a friend and disappeared into his room. He was in there for less than ten minutes when he came out and reported the sad news: “Fins is dead,” he said. There didn’t appear to be any sign of sadness on his face. Perhaps it was because I did all the work; changing the water, feeding him, making sure the water was the right temperature.

I went into his room, and sure enough poor Fins had expired. His gills were not moving at all. Maybe he died of sheer boredom; swimming from one end of the tank to the other, over and over again. That would make any creature  weary. Or maybe he died of loneliness. The only fish in the pond. Perhaps he was despondent and simply gave up the ghost.

I would have had a picture of him but I’m sure you can visualize a goldfish. I mean, how many people take photos of their fish? I can see of a cat, or a dog. Plus, goldfish all look alike. (Was that some kind of ichthyologic racial slur? I don’t know. Probably.) “Fins, and to all your brethren, I hereby apologize for my previous callous remark.”

I took Fins out of the tank and wrapped him in a paper towel. Only his head showed. He looked so tiny and helpless. Poor Fins. Our cats hovered about, sensing a snack. But this was one fish that wouldn’t end up in their maws.

I went into the bathroom, said I’m sorry, and ceremoniously flushed him down the drain, to some kind of fishy Davy Jones’ Locker. “Rest in peace, Fins.”

So now the tank, as you can see, sits empty. Will I get another fish? Probably not. I’ll empty the tank, and relegate it to the bowels of the basement.

And then I’ll wait to see what my son brings home from school next.

Um…does anyone happen to know how to take care of a platypus?

©paul grignon – 2013, all rights reserved.

Sunlight in Vermont…

This past weekend we spent a splendid respite in the pleasing town of Wilmington, Vermont. Once again we were ensconced in a mountain retreat, not far from the slopes of Mount Snow.

Early morning, as seen through our bedroom window, brought lazy, fluffy flakes and a brilliant sunrise. Light filtered through the dark pines, and pristine snow glistened in the backyard.

While others headed to the slopes, Julie and I opted to cross-country ski, something I have never done before.

We wended our way along Route 100, through Wilmington Center, and took a left onto Boyd Hill Road. Our destination was the Harriman Reservoir, which is also called Lake Whitingham. It is the largest body of water contained within the state of Vermont.

We turned right onto the Ward Access Beach Road and braved the steep decline to the parking lot. This picture of a birch tree, with the mountains behind it, greeted our arrival.

Carrying our skis and poles down the hill, we noticed the water level was incredibly low. During the winter months the town drains the entire reservoir. Here and there, huge slabs of ice buckled and collapsed, and we wondered if it was safe to go out on to the ice.

025But then we noticed this tree stump, a vestige from the old lumber town of Mountain Mills, which was flooded in the 1920’s for a hydro-electric dam. After witnessing this stunning scene, we deemed the ice safe enough to ski.

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018Donning our skis, we ventured across thin layers of snow, punctuated by swaths of ice. Not ideal conditions for skiing, but then we had the entire place to ourselves. Not another soul was about. We stood and marveled at the surrounding and silent beauty. There was not a sound; no birds, no planes, no people. Just me and my Beloved. It was…ethereal.

024I found a discarded piece of 2×8 board, and mounted my camera on it to get this shot of us against the backdrop of distant hills. I had to hustle to get into the picture, slip-sliding my way into the frame.

Overall it proved to be a successful outing. I learned (sort of) how to cross-country ski, and we both got in an excellent workout. The temperature hovered in the mid-thirties, so after the slightest exertion we realized we had dressed to excess.

Sunday, St. Pattie’s Day, turned out slightly different. The weather wasn’t agreeable at all, and strong arctic winds scattered snow like a savage winter haboob. It was cold.

This time we decided to stay closer to home. Just down the road is the Sitzmark Bar and Grill, on East Dover Road. We parked there and valiantly attempted to ski the golf course.

These pictures capture the surrounding beauty of the area.

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040If you have the chance, plan a visit to this enchanting stretch of land. And even if you don’t ski, the magical and timeless beauty of Vermont is breathtaking.

Cat Time…

MilesSometimes, when it’s getting late, and you’re all nestled in bed, your cat wants some of your time. Hell, he’s been alone all day, shivering with cold paws because the heat was off, and now he just wants quality time with his human.

I was going to say ‘human master’, but all you cat people out there know that that simply isn’t true. More like ‘human slave’ to their feline whims.

So you’re lying in bed, after a long day, and you’re tired, and you just want to read a little. A few pages, catch up and all.

But then your cat advances from the foot of the bed—tentatively— not sure where it would lead. Will that guy fling me off? Will my human chattel yell at me? Or will he stroke my fur? Your cat creeps closer, still hesitant, still wondering if he’ll be banished. Perceiving all is well, he crawls onto your chest.

Now here’s the important part; most days you give him a sort of disinterested scratch here, a scratch there, and a stroke just behind the ears.

But it’s done peripherally, and you know what? Your cat can tell. The slow twitch of his tail, the tensed body, a slight cat frown. Your offhand petting is just not cutting it. Sometimes you just have to put your book down. Sometimes you have to give your cat your undivided attention.

He needs you.

He wants you.

He’s been waiting for you.

It’s time to give him some cat love.

Put your book down, hold your cat close, and pet him. A lot.

Cats miss that petting, that stroking, that rubbing, something remembered from when they were young, how their mom used to do all that. But then they are whisked away too soon. They miss their mom, their mom’s touch. But they retained that need, though, and still crave it. And you will give it to them.

Boo & MaggieTake time to give your kitty some love. Your cat’s purr is your reward.

©Paul Grignon – All Rights Reserved. 2012

Playing with Precipitation: Snow Whimsy, Part 2…

Here in the northeast we were recently pummeled once again by winter. The initial forecast was for 5-10″ of snow, but we ended up with over 20″!

So what to do with all that white stuff, besides shovel it? I thought I’d make a few more snow sculptures, something a little different than snowmen.

Here are the results:

Snow Dog with Snowman and Water Dish

Snow Dog with Snowman and Water Dish.

Drowning Man

I call this one ‘Drowning Man’. Pleasant, eh?

Old Man 1

This is titled ‘Old Man #1. He’s sitting on the front stoop.

Old Man 2

And this one is called, “Old Man #2′. I had to make another, as Old Man #1’s head fell off.

I hope you enjoyed my sculptures, and please do feel free to send your own whimsical winter creations to me!

Support the Garden…

A friend of mine, Lorie Shoemaker, who used to live in Boston, is running in the Boston Marathon this year to support the Boston Common, the Boston Garden, and the park system. It is a worthy cause.

If you wish to donate and help raise funds to keep these cultural city gems in pink-blossom perfection, please go to this LINK.

Also for more information, go to friendsofthepublicgarden.org

Here’s to a great marathon, Lori!

 

Bike Dude…

Yeah, that’s me. “Bike Dude.” Since my ancient blue beast of an Oldsmobile is still in the shop (three months and counting. Three months!) I’ve been going about on my bicycle, shopping here, doing errands there. It’s no big deal, really.

When I lived in Boston, I biked everywhere, even in the dead of winter. In fact, if I modeled at the Mass College of Art, sometimes my next gig was at B.U. So I had to hustle. Trek through slush and mud and avoid the maniac drivers. What fun.

So today, it was a breeze. And there certainly was a breeze out there, gusts at times of twenty to thirty miles an hour. There’s a very steep hill nearby, and descending it was a challenge. I was being blown back up the hill.

During my travels, I stopped into three different stores. When I approached the register at the first location, the clerk asked, “You’re not riding your bike in this weather, are you?”

“Um…no, I just thoroughly enjoy wearing my helmet for the hell of it.”

That’s what I wanted to say. It’s quite funny how many people say a variation of that question. The second store was no exception.

“My goodness, you’re pedaling your bike today?”

Hmm. I wonder what their first clue was. Perhaps there are people out there who do enjoy wearing a bike helmet for the hell of it. I, though, usually reserve it for when I am actually riding a bike.

The third store: “Biking in this weather? It’s winter!” Well, so it is. I must peer at my calendar more often.

But it really wasn’t so bad; low thirties, a breeze now and then, some swirling snow, but nothing too terrible. And if I do need a ride, in a car, my family is nice enough to offer. One time my Mum drove me to Assumption for a modeling gig, and another I had called my brother Joe, who lives in Worcester, if he could transport me home after a session at the Worcester Art Museum. And he obliged.

But if they remain simple tasks, simple excursions close to home, I just slap on extra layers, pull on my backpack, and off I go.

Oh, and the title to this piece? The last place I went into I inadvertently dropped a single crumpled one dollar bill on the floor. The next guy in line, some freshly-scrubbed, young college kid, yelled, “Yo! Bike dude! You dropped this!”

Yeah, that’s me. Bike dude.