Tag Archives: stories

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Eighty-four years ago a man was born in Flushing, New York. He married young, at age 22, fresh out of the Air Force, with a promising career as a civil engineer. But with the first child born, and then twins right after, that dream was dashed.

This man was my father, who died six years ago today. Six long years. And yet every morning I still say hi to him, wish him well, hoping that he’s doing okay in whatever dimension he resides, smoking a cigar right down to its wet spinach stub and cradling a glass of chardonnay.

My Dad’s passing was the first time in my life I experienced a close death. I guess I was lucky over the years, through my thirties and forties, never witnessing a death, never having been to a wake or funeral.

That all changed six years ago, when my dear Dad died from—what was assumed—a massive heart attack. Who knows? There was no autopsy. Christ, there wasn’t even a wake or funeral. It was as though this man who lived and breathed on this beautiful blue planet suddenly vanished, with no fanfare at all.

He was whisked away, only to be subsequently burnt to ashes in a matter of days, still wearing the golf shirt, overly long shorts, and tennis shoes he wore when he died. I never did give him a proper good-bye. I tried, but when I called the funeral home, the woman informed me that “I’m sorry, Honey. He’s on his way to the crematorium.”

I remember that day, six years ago on August 10th, when my brother from Florida called me and told me that Dad had died.

I was floored. I didn’t believe it. I was pissed, angry, confused, bewildered. I ran into the backyard, bent to the ground on both knees, and wept, big, wet wracking sobs.

To this day I still cannot fathom that he is…gone.

Dad, even though some family members have said in the past for me to get over it, I still greet you every single morning with a hearty hello and plant a kiss on the portrait I did of you. The picture above was taken a day before he died, on Friday the 13th, 2010.

Or who really knows? It could have been August 14th, the morning my Mum returned from vacationing in Maine, where my Dad was just there the day before. She found him lying face up, his legs resting on a chair in the living room, as though he was doing sit-ups, lying there staring at the ceiling, his last gaze probably looking at the years-old resin stain from countless Christmas trees dragged and hoisted into the room. Maybe he thought, with his last dying breath, he wondered how he could get rid of that stain, having not seen it from this angle lying on the floor.

And then he released his last breath.

How do I feel on this momentous day, the sixth anniversary of my father’s death? I am still angry. I still miss him. Terribly.

I love you, Dad, and wish you much comfort. Know that at least this offspring, one of seven, still think of you—every single day.

Happy 84th Birthday, Pops!

With much love,

Paul Harry

 

© Paul Grignon – 2016

All Rights Reserved

100 Word Flash Fiction…

My good friend, Eric Alagan, at Written Words Never Die, has posted a wonderful opening to a story, one filled with intrigue and suspense…all in 100 words.

His flash fiction is called, ‘By Chance‘, and you can access it here. Please do go there first and read his story before reading further along.

I was so fascinated by it that I decided to add the next chapter to his superb story line. And then I added some more.

Below are a few scenarios I concocted, all hatched from Eric’s excellent idea.

Without further ado, here are my own vignettes, every one coming in at 100 words:

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“Everything ok, honey?”

Madrilene paused before answering.

“Yes, Michael. Everything is…perfect.”

Michael stared at her for a moment and then settled back into The New Yorker.

Madrilene held the cup in her hands, and felt the warmth of the coffee through the porcelain. She remembered  how warm Ben’s hands were, after he cradled her in his arms when she stepped back and stumbled at the fair.

Could it really have been two years ago?

Now here he was, his trademark Galoises perched between his lovely lips, that faint constant stubble above his mouth…

“Next stop is ours, Sweetie!” Michael said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ben watched the train pull slowly out of the station, belching great gobs of steam into the cold November air.

She looked as beautiful as ever, he thought.

He yearned to touch her face once more.

Standing on the platform, he waited until the train was but a dot on the horizon, the only tell-tale sign of its passage the plume of smoke that lingered briefly in the sky.

Ben gazed in the distance, his eyes fixed on the smoke, as though it was a tether keeping Madrilene close to his side.

Two years had passed.

And now she’s back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The article failed to hold Michael’s interest. His thoughts were elsewhere.

He had noticed the man on the platform staring at Madrilene. He knew that look.  The man was smitten with her.

He knew that look because it was the same gaze he possessed when he first glimpsed Madrilene’s extraordinary beauty. How could the man not be enchanted?

Michael chanced a sideways glance at Madrilene. She was staring out the window, watching the fields roll by, thinking about…what?

Him? That man on the platform? The man with the dangling cigarette.

Michael looked down. He noticed her coffee remained untouched.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

His magnificent eyes!

Madrilene watched the landscape roll on by, a gray blur to the crowded thoughts coursing through her mind.

Imagine that. Two years had passed, and he remembered.

He remembered.

That simple nod from the platform. Was it of regret? Understanding? Of forlornness?

His eyes seemed so sad.

The memory of them crinkled in laughter, as they shared a bottle of crisp chardonnay in the field, a scene stolen out of a canvas by Millet.

The warm, summer sun, the fresh scent of sunflowers…

She turned.

“Michael, my dear, would you mind getting me a glass of wine?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And so the scenarios go. And I do have to thank my good friend Eric once again for posting this wonderful prompt.

Feel free to add your own story to this delightful little exercise.

I’d love to read your words.

©Paul Grignon, 2014-All Rights Reserved.

Where Words Thrive…

Sometimes, sometimes you come across a site along the vast, seemingly endless galactic stream of the internet that makes you pause and peruse its offerings.

Written Words Never Die, by Eric Alagan, is such a site. Please do, by all means, stop in and engage your senses with his exquisite words.

The reason I mention this site to you is because there you will find a trove of writings that will allow you to contemplate your own writings, a place where you can read varied offerings that speak both to your soul and to your Muse.

Not only will you find choice compositions, passages and word play that will amuse and intrigue, but also heartfelt comments made by the author to any and all replies sent his way.

Eric is that kind of gentleman. He responds to all who comment on his blog. And his words are kind, encouraging, and spot on.

Recently, I accessed an almost year-old post of his, one called ‘Wolf‘, and by reading his words it prompted me to compose something of my own.

But not only that. After posting my response to his own poignant creation, that in turn, prompted me to continue the vein of my rather brief post.

If you have already gone to his original blog listed above, here is my reply to Mr. Alagan’s own potent post:

The Cellar

“Goddamn laundry’, Jake thought.

And then something moved. Off in the dark corner. Some thing stirred.

Jake took to the stairs.

Below, the thing scraped and cackled.

It began to climb.

Can you see how my initial 33-word reply can possibly become more?

Now what, you may ask, prompted me to arrive at this particular story line. Well, let me tell you, if you’ll allow me to bend your ear for a spell. Mind you, it won’t be terribly long. Here it goes:

We live in a 213 year-old house. Needless to say the basement–or cellar–has seen its fair share of comings and goings.

Since we have lived here, from June of of this year we have, on occasion, had to visit this dark, dank, impenetrable sub floor.

At first, the lights down there worked. But gradually, for no apparent reason, the bulbs gave up their ghosts. No more light.

So now, still on occasion, the power to our living room goes out. Poof! And guess who gets to descend those dark, scary stairs to fumble about the fuse box?

Um, that would be me.

So this is what prompted me to continue with the preceding 33-word story line.

I imagine, as I descend those old, creaky, musty stairs, that a hideous creature resides down there. Something foul, rotten, evil.

Something waiting for me.

As I retreat into the depths of this cellar, with a feeble flashlight in hand, the fear and terror grips my nape. My dim light casts only so much light. And in only one direction.

As I stumble about in the darkness, I can’t help but imagine this creature lurching about down there with me, unseen, a dwarf-like, hobbling gnome with a huge head and immense glowing eyes, with fangs and clicking claws that can’t wait to sever my carotid.

I move on, wildly swinging my light about. It is at this juncture when I finally reach the fuse box when I suddenly arc my light behind me and find…nothing.

Relieved I turn back, find the switch, and flip it on. And that is the moment, when I turn once again, to find this gibbering goblin, this ghastly diminutive monster, clacking his claws and snapping his jaws at me, giggling and laughing, his foul, hot breath upon me, and feel the hot searing thrust of a rotten hand into my jugular when I…

…make it up the stairs, panting, slam the door behind me and find no spurting blood about me.

Now that is what a powerful prompt can do for you.

And that is why I return, again and again, to Mr. Alagan’s fine site.

Stop on by. You never what will make you compose your next line of prose.

Just make sure the light is on.

Copyright Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

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In Memory of Pops…

August 14th, 2013

Three years.

It has been three years since my Dad died.

36 months.

Still, it doesn’t seem possible.

Still I expect to see him at the store, hunched over, his purple hands dangling at his side, his glasses filthy from some chore he was doing at home.

Whenever I go over to the house, I feel his presence; silent as always, sitting in an armchair, reading the paper while Mum and I prattle on about things.

And still, still every day do I think of him. Even after 1,000 days, I think of him.

I have been remiss in visiting my Dad’s special place, where Great Blue Herons roost. But on this solemn anniversary, after work I will make the trek there. And I think I’ll take Andi along. My father would have liked Andi. I always thought that in retirement my Dad would have gotten a dog, someone to keep him company on his long, solitary walks.

Here’s to you, Pops. Just wanted to let you know you are always in my thoughts. It’s not the anniversary I wish to celebrate, but I celebrate this day in your honor.

Earlier today, at my new job, an older gentleman came in. His name was Al, and he was 80 years old. He took out a batch of work, 35mm photos that he had produced, and we chatted for over 25 minutes.

His first piece he ever did was of a Great Blue Heron, and I thought that his presence in this store was somehow an appearance of my Dad, incognito, stopping by to say hello.

It was quite touching to watch this old man, explaining his process, how he has done this ‘hobby’ for the past 53 years. I looked into his eyes and saw the passion and kindness that enabled him to produce these exquisite works.

All the time listening to him, it reminded me of my father, how out of blue he would regale some untold tale of his youth, and I would be rapt.

I bid the old man a pleasant day and I thought that, for the briefest of moments, it was indeed my Dad incarnated. He had stopped by, on this anniversary, to say hello.

Dad, may rest, calm, and peace be yours.

Take care, Pops. I love you.

Your son, Paul.

Copyright, 2013, Paul Grignon, All Rights Reserved.

Dead Things…

WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

Walking Andi down a quiet stretch of back road, near swampland and twisted, broken trees, there is an abundance of squashed fauna embedded in the asphalt.

These poor hapless creatures didn’t stand a chance. A frog weighing in at five ounces faced against a hurtling metal behemoth weighing in at 3,000 pounds, well, there’s no contest, is there?

Frogs, moles, mice, baby birds, chipmunks, turtles, squirrels, opossums, skunks, and other assorted and indeterminate creatures litter the tarmac, their poor torn bodies crushed and fly-ridden, left as mere fodder for maggots and crows.

If they could talk (I mean, in human language, as I’m sure a turtle or chipmunk have their own brand of communication), what would their stories have been?

For instance, coming across a frog that appears relatively intact, I wonder where he was going and where he came from. Was he having an illicit love affair with Ms. Toad down the road? Did his frog wife suspect anything? Was he out carousing with some of his amphibian pals, having a stiff drink of bog juice at the local watering hole? Was he a tad tipsy as he hopped across the road in the wee morning hours?

Just minding his own business, perhaps formulating a few white lies for his patient wife, maybe give her a bouquet of dead flies as an offering and then—BLAM!—a ’67 Nova driven by a slacker mechanic  with his own set of woes runs him over. Not enough to squash him, though. Just enough head trauma to allow him a few more moments of life, for him to wonder just what in hell had hit him.

He lies on the side of the road face up, staring at the swaying branches of pine above, watching as a lone heron flies high overhead, and hears his comrades off in the distance, tuning up their banjos for the evening’s symphony at dusk.

He lies there with his lies, and wonders what will become of him. He knows only a few more breaths are his and that soon he will croak, and croak no more.

Just one tale among many lifeless tails out there dotting the pavement everywhere. We humans think nothing of splattering a frog, or a bug, or even the occasional squirrel. Nope. There’s impact, and then we’re gone. And so are they.

So what the hell am I driving at here, when I’m not driving along back country roads? It’s just a simple message, really; to pay more attention to what may be out there ahead of you, hopping or skipping or jumping or slithering or leaping or walking across the road. Try to make the effort to save a turtle or a blind hairless mole rat that may be dawdling across your path.

Hey, they all have stories and lives and loved ones waiting for them at home. Just like us. So have a little more respect for the fauna that may just scoot in front of you.

(And Buddha forbid those who nail a black cat crossing your path. )

There’s an old bumper sticker out there that’s rather apropos. It read, “My Karma ran over my Dogma.”

And as we all know, karma can be a bitch.

So keep an eye out for that female dog that may bound in front of your Beemer.

That’s all I’m saying. A li’l courtesy for critters.

And for all those who bypassed my writing and skipped directly to the gory photos?

Well, there aren’t any. What kind of psycho do you think I am?

If you did scroll, man, you are one sick puppy.

©Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

A Moving Experience…

Whew!

Man, oh man, I hate moving. We just pulled up stakes, as of June 1st, and this is the first time I’ve had a moment to breathe and get back to my blog.

It’s not simply a case of packing and moving in a single day. No, far from it. In fact, it took an entire week just to pack, and a handful of days to move, and I’m still in the process of sorting things out. (I know one of the cats is around here somewhere…)

So much has transpired of late, and I am woefully behind with my own blog as well as some of my favorites. Like my good and intelligent friend Eric Alagan’s elegant blog Written Words Never Die, or the hilarious Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds, and of course a plethora of other fine sites.

Lately, the urge to purge to has never been greater. No, not that kind of purge. I mean the kind of saying the hell with a mountain of boxes and just simply tossing them into the trash. I cannot believe how much ‘stuff‘ we have.

But we have moved into larger digs, with more privacy, and the house comes with a huge barn and a massive attic, ample space for storage and for the felines to explore. Oh, and Andi you might ask? He’s acclimated himself quite nicely, thank you.

So MUCH more to say and discuss and tell, but for now more boxes and packages and sorting awaits me. We don’t have cable yet so I’m typing this at the library. (Poor Andi is in his crate–his room, I should say–and so I shan’t delay too much.

Suffice it to say I will be back very soon, to peruse many blogs and comments and lovely stories from fellow writers. I apologize for my silence, but a glimmer of the end (of moving) is, mercifully, nigh.

Mr. Alagan, I WILL make all attempts to get back to your fine writing very soon, and I look forward to reading your new material!

Thank you all for your patience, and I cannot wait to get my writing chops back into a semblance of order.

For now, take good care, and keep on writing!

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

The Writer’s Sigh…

For those who toil and tweak and trouble yourself with words, I am quite certain that you can relate to the fact that non-writers simply do not understand the writer’s life.

It matters not one whit if you haven’t been published yet. What matters is that you diligently produce something–anything–on a daily basis, be it a few pages to your WIP, or a blog, or simply jotting down a myriad of notes for future stories. The fact of the matter is that you are writing.

But to others, who are not immersed in the craft, it remains an elusive and mysterious profession. Wherever you are, people will invariably ask what you do. And deep down, no matter what kind of job you presently occupy, you know that you are a writer. So you say that. “I’m a writer.”

And then, and then it happens; the look, the wariness, the doubt, all gleaned from the questioner. “You write, huh? So, uh, what’re writin’?” Or “What kind of writer are you?” Or “You publish anything?”

A lot of the time it almost sounds like derision, as though you are some kind of a fringe lunatic, engaging in something so esoteric and removed from the norm that you remain  a sort of pariah.

You can respond that you are currently writing a novel. Or that you are in revision. Or that you are researching for an article.

And yet the wary, glib reply is wearily heard: “Oh? A book, you say? Well, I have a friend who…”

Or yet another acquaintance who says that “…you should be looking for a literary agent. That’s what my friend says.”

Or another: “Well, it’s obvious that you should self-publish. That’s what I did. It’s definitely the way to go, you know.”

“Oh? And how many books have you sold?”

“Well, only one, but take it from me, self-publish.”

Now perhaps all these fine folk mean well. For the most part. But since they do not write themselves, they have no understanding of what we go through. At all.

Yes, some days are fantastic. You find yourself churning out things all day long. Other days, not so good. The sheet remains white. It’s a tough slog. You wrestle with words, with sentences, with structure, and at times toss them all aside and begin anew.

Sometimes it can be frustrating trying to explain to others that you are a writer. But no matter what, if you can plop yourself down in a chair everyday and write–anything–than you are that writer.

No matter what anyone else thinks, you know, deep down, that you are a writer, that you are committed to toiling, and tweaking, and troubling yourself to the craft.

No matter what others may think, stick to your pen and paper, or keyboard and monitor.

After all, you are in good company. Stay the course. Keep putting black to white. No matter what.

Here’s to your own writing!

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.