Sunday, March 4, 2012

An Excerpt to Insert

I had the story, bit by bit, from various people,
and, as generally happens in such cases,
each time it was a different story.

~Excerpt from Ethan Frome
by Edith Wharton


  1. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.

    At the supermarket Susie ran up to me in the frozen foods, said the Miller house had been robbed last night.

    “They came in while everyone was sleeping and robbed them blind.”

    I was sorry to hear that and listened as best I could, but Susie’s always in everyone’s business and to tell you the truth, I wanted to sneak an ice cream sandwich in before I headed home.

    Later that day as I tried to walk off the sinful splurge, I bumped into Ellie May at mile marker one. She jumped right in beside me; arms swaying back and forth with mine, our strides matching to a T. She mumbled something which required me to pull out my ear buds during Poker Face.

    “What?” I asked.

    “Did you hear about Mr. Miller? He’s in the hospital. Someone beat him up last night. He might lose an eye.”

    “I thought they were robbed.”

    “That’s not what I heard,” said Ellie May.

    Later that evening, the old lady from down the street stopped me in my driveway as I was on my way to the movies with my man.

    “Please pray for the Millers, dear,” she whispered. “Stan was out drinking again and got into some trouble with the law. Geneva has no more money left after bailing him out this time, but she sure gave him what he deserved.”

    And we both said, “A black eye.”

    1. great short short Laurie - reminds me of that old game of telephone we used to play at parties when we were kids ... by the time it got to the last person, the message was entirely different than it had been to start with ...

  2. Nice ideas, Laurie! I loved that book, too, by the way!

  3. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people,
    and, as generally happens in such cases,
    each time it was a different story.
    ~Excerpt from Ethan Frome
    by Edith Wharton


    From this perspective, it becomes much clearer. And I can’t fault the officer for pulling the trigger, although I was innocent AND unarmed. After all, he was just a rookie with nerves of silly putty and a will to prevent anything tragic from happening. I guess that with a little more experience and he’ll be a fine officer.

    Out of body experiences are hard to explain. The journey to mine started out as an innocent question.

    “How’s it going, Jack?” asked my friend Adam when we met near the market waiting for the bus uptown.

    “Eh, been better” I started. “I’ve been sick for a few days and haven’t gotten much sleep, so I’m tired too. I think it was food poisoning… something left a bitter taste in my mouth.”

    “And work’s been good?” Adam continued.

    “Yeah, you know me, always shooting for the top! I had some ideas on the table, but it looks like the boss is offering some major resistance, so I’m sure there’ll be a confrontation between us.” was my reply.

    “Well, you’re looking fit! Have you been working out?”

    “I try to hit the gym three or four times a week, but yeah it’s starting to pay off. Thanks for asking.” I told my friend.

    “It wasn’t hard to notice. You’ve got a couple of “guns” there!” Adam said as we bid each other good day and went on our ways.

    Joanne from Marketing overheard our exchange, and told the guy in Human Resources what she gathered.

    “I heard Jack Miller in sales telling a friend that he is sick and tired of his boss, Ken Jenkins, and he’s suddenly become very bitter. He plans on confronting Mr. Jenkins. And he’s got a couple guns to shoot the “guy at the top” Joanne relayed.
    “I better call security and 911. This is serious” thought Mr. “HR”

    “Hurry, there’s a guy with a couple of high-powered rifles planning on taking out everyone at Halper and Stern Manufacturing.” He began.

    What did I know? I reached for my ringing cell phone during the commotion of six squad cars and the swat team arriving on the scene. I just wanted my wife to know I would be late. Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecies.

    “He’s going for his gun!” the officer yelled. “EVERYBODY DOWN!!!”

    Three shots were fired. An honest mistake, I’m sure.

    Now, I am late; the late Jack Miller. Go figure!

    1. I love this, Walt! Could Jack Miller have been my Mr. Miller? That would be cool.

    2. great take on the prompt - I never read before I write either and decided to go a whole 'nother direction ...

  4. HA! I never read before I post. I never realized you used the surname Miller. Looks like that guy can't stay out of trouble! Thanks Laurie.x

  5. Patient Angel

    I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.

    One thing they all agreed on - when they unplugged the respirator, the baby-girl lifted her arms as if wanting to be picked up.

    "Y'know how babies do that?" Ellen Darby could hardly talk through her tears. "Just hold their chubby little arms out so that Mommy or Daddy will lift them up—"

    A freshet of tears and sobs from a soul one would think cried out by now. I waited for her to recover enough to continue. You get used to waiting when you do this job.
    Darby was my last interview at least. Then I could close the book on this death.

    There's nothing as unrewarding as ordinary detective work during extraordinary circumstances and if anything qualified as such, this was it. Investigating so-called suspicious deaths after tornadoes had torn a community to shreds.

    "Is there anything else officer?" Darby had regained some composure while I'd been wool-gathering.

    "It's Detective, ma'am," I said automatically, as if it was important. "Just a couple of things - you were there when the machine was turned off?"

    The middle-aged woman nodded her head wearily.

    "We all were. All the staff that was left came to be with the baby."

    She stared hard at me.

    "What is it you want to know?"

    She is starting to sound more scornful than weary, her sadness replaced by something starting to look like indignation maybe, or something else I just can't seem to put my finger on.

    "Did I see her fly up like an angel to be with the rest of her family, the moment she stopped breathing?"

    The look in her eyes is one of such naked belief I have to look away.

    1. Wow, Sharon... what a cliff-hanger! Tell me more, tell me more.

  6. Sharon!!! A great snippet of fiction with your usual flair. Thanks for coming out to join the fray the FLASHY FICTION way. Don't be a stranger!