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A POT-POURRI OF SHORT, SHORT STORIES

Story ID:2387
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Story
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2007
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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All stories below are (c) Richard L. Provencher

AN ACT OF CARING

An early memory of my father was of a worried man wielding a branch. I was four years of age, beside the lake again. In my mind’s eye that slender willow blossomed into the size of a tree trunk. There is no recollection of physical pain, but hairs from my head had stood straight up.

* * *

ATTENTION PLEASE

Years ago, I had the privilege of being Administrator of a Home for the Aged in Ontario. It was a position, which not only held high esteem in the community but the responsibility of caring for 175 ladies and men. Indeed, it was a humble Royal calling.

So it fell to me one day to speak to a gathering of resident relatives about a health concern, which had taken place quite unexpectedly. Public Health demanded a facility such as ours be closed when any communicable sickness was taking place.

It was during my first month on the job that I faced this crowd in our main foyer to explain why the facility must be closed to the public for a period of at least three days.

Flanked by my Director of Nursing and Assistant Administrator, I began “Welcome” I said. “Except under these circumstances, I must inform you we have several cases of Rabies in our Home.”

“Rabies!!” a chorus of voices roared back from the gathering of a dozen horrified visitors.

“Yes, Rabies,” I replied with the most understanding voice I could muster under these trying circumstances.

Just then I felt a hard elbow jab in my side, from my Director of Nursing. “It’s Scabies, not Rabies,” she whispered.

“Oh excuse me,” I managed to say to the on-the-verge-of fainting guests. “I meant to say Scabies.”

“THANK GOODNESS!!” erupted from the mouths of sons and daughters and other loving relatives.

I remember with thankfulness the rest of our meeting went very well. Everyone seemed quite relieved it was not Rabies, something much more serious.

My staff was very gracious to me for the next few days while our Scabies incident was being eradicated. From then on, I asked our Director of Nursing to respond to further Health announcements.

* * *

DECISIONS…DECISIONS

“Hey…Harry! Look, humans. Do you think they’re going to swat us for crashing here in the camping trailer?”

“Nah. They’re too busy. Watch.”

“What do you mean? Harry, stop ignoring me. What are you looking at?”

“I feel sorry for that human girl. I really do.”

“Harry, explain yourself. Here we are in this nice trailer. There’s good food crumbs on the table and I just tasted a piece of cheddar cheese on the floor. I just love the yellow. It’s almost the same color of the sun that warms my wings when I…you know.”

“Hey Lilla, quit your chattering and come here. Look at that human girl. I know what her problem is.”

“And what is that my smart insect husband?”

“It’s not the same with humans. We have this chemical that floats in the air and we know we were meant for each other. But it’s not the same for humans. They have choices.”

“You sure use big words for a little bug, Harry.”

“Yes, now come here beside me. Forget the cheese and the crumbs. Now look.”

“You’re right Harry. She’s pretty too.”

“I know, but not as much as you Lilla. Besides they would never be able to fly through a broken window like we did. I think those human boys like her.”

“But Harry, which one will she pick? There are three of them.”

“I know Lilla. That’s why she’s thinking. She has to make a decision.”

“Come on Harry, lets go finish off that cheese.”

* * *

DINING ETIQUETTE

Mom’s lunch invitation included homemade soup. But, slurping disturbed her. “Dip your spoon towards you. Consume quietly,” she said.

I practiced several times to her satisfaction. Looking away for a moment, I turned back and gasped. Her bowl of soup was to her lips.

She mumbled between slurps, “This is how I get it all.”

* * *

LITTLE FELLOW

Autumn whispers through dried leaves dangling from Poplar limbs. Their shaped contours are crinkling movements, frisky wind introducing itself in bold delight.

A lone partridge struts below, one sure foot at a time, masking unwanted noise, raises its saggy throat. Wings expand, the sun reaching beneath his shelter of shoulder feathers, begins to drum above a fallen tree trunk. The message is erotic, piercing life’s dawn, his thudding sounds an echo to other lonely hearts.

Over time this well-used stage will be replaced by Nature’s future gift, a little fellow to take the place of its fallen cousin. Yet another tree will grow tall and strong, with mighty branches thrust upwards in royal proclamation.

After a symphony of seasons, it too will sacrifice its own broad trunk. Drumbeats from other fowl will arise within the wind, bringing their own shouts of longing. Thus does a cycle of life and rebirth affect all within this woodland of forest.

* * *

OVERHEARD

At Pre-School, one four year old prepared to speak about her favorite Christmas present. Each of us knew her father scoured mall stores for the perfect gift, settling on an expensive battery operated car. The little girl’s story began with, “I got these pretty pair of socks…”

* * *

TA RA

Within eyesight, rounded ponds sparkle in the sun. The land is captured beauty. From this hill folds of fields repeat upon green valleys. Ridges are etched upon rocky cliffs. Natural paths carve through the forest, a slash of birch following in succession.

As trees sweep to water’s edge, huge Blue Spruce, Birch and Willows dance in friendship. Savoring my balance I play follow the leader in steep descent. Hanging onto limbs of sharpened needles, sometimes slipping, bare knees are scuffed on virgin soil.

This precious hideaway is a stretch of creek that meanders through a flat speck of land, not far from Greenfield, Nova Scotia. From close-up I see beaver meadow edges, marshy and difficult to navigate. There are occasions when I tumble fully clothed, like now, from a protruding bank, causing sheltered trout to scoot in disbelief. “Not again they exclaim!”

Weary from hiking and my ensuing wet experience I find myself challenged in an appreciation of nature. Words masked in awe are difficult to express as a taste of muddy bottom occupies my mouth. I am sure partridge and rabbits cluster in mutual harmony, chuckling at my discomfort.

It is difficult to stand still long enough to observe further movements. Each animal signature blends within the forest and rooted in the preservation of stillness. And I am a better person to have found such peaceful flavor.

In the meaning of time, the sun continues to provide a blanket of heat, as from a winter’s campfire. Yes, summer is consuming hot.

A young deer slips easily through the trees and I watch in fascination. Because I
am an intruder, he waves his white tail in hasty farewell. Yet, there is peace
within my soul knowing solitude is the name of this sanctuary.

* * *

THE SPORTS COAT

I jumped into my sister’s car, realizing a few blocks later I had forgotten my sports coat for an appointment.

My composed sister pulled over at the first Dollar store and bought one my size for $1. It easily handled the occasion, and I wore it home later to show mom.

Having an eye for tasteful clothes she asked, “How much did you pay for it?”

“$79 on sale for $29,” I answered.

“Looks like a good deal to me,” she said.

After telling her the truth we all had a good laugh.

* * *

THE TELEPHONE CALL

Harsh invectives came streaming from the mouth of some deranged stranger on the other end of the phone.

It was like an assault of exploding cannonballs foreign to my mind. These words repeatedly pounced as a collection of snarling alley cats. I was simply a mouse, minding my own business. And I was.

I wished I hadn’t been in such a hurry to answer the ringing. Was this an evil person? His surging hot anger was obviously accumulated from memories of sad living. Perhaps his uttering was a reminder of his hostile and unsatisfactory life.

But why did he feel it necessary to punish my ears?

I was transfixed, unable to slam the phone down, mesmerized by the accounting of obviously a sad life interspersed with raucous infections of hate. As wounding words sounded in my mind I could almost feel the spray of spittle from angry lips.

I finally slammed the phone down, closing my thoughts to his memories of anguish. But they continued to rocket through my brain, creeping in dark corners from a basket of filth. His nasty words had assailed me as rotten fruit.

Why were such words directed at me? Surely this must have been a random call, not specifically designed to overwhelm me with its venom. I felt I was a good living man, looked after my family, attended church. Prayed for others, even clothed the naked, delivering bags of unneeded clothing to the Salvation Army.

Right?

* * *

THE WRITER

My query for a story-collection has been accepted! Now sit down. Stretch finger muscles. Adjust bi-focal glasses and scratch your belly. The screen faces you, computer humming, waiting for the excitement to sink in.

Thankfully a backlog of story-ideas in your mind was persistent, like mosquitoes taking on new shapes each time in the re-telling. They pecked at you like a family of Chick-a-Dees, their antics anticipating frequent revised descriptions.

Now you can focus to whom they will be sent. They are such gems in the imagination, and a joy in the creating. The publisher’s response was not another “No longer accepting submissions” nor, “Didn’t you get our E-mail ages ago stating we are no longer interested? Sorry.”

Former barbs of sarcasm did not diminish me. “You call this a story?” I rose above the critiquing. “Have you not tried taking a writing course?” My feathers were those of an eagle. I remained above their shortsightedness.

“You have a nice way of expressing yourself” is an unexpected thermal that greets my soaring. “Yes, we do wish to receive your manuscript. Send it soon,” was the telephone message a short while ago.

Now I rise triumphant. My eagle wings stretch fully. A shrieking emits from my mouth. Busy fingers fly across my computer keys.

An editor is waiting.

* * *

Richard L. Provencher and his wife, Esther, live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has many poems and stories in print and online. His Poetry Chapbook, "In the Light of Day" can be ordered from: www.mercutiopress.com.