#amwriting – It was Him? [part 2]

This is my fourth post of the month. Each month, this post will be allotted to the Twitter hashtag, #amwriting. In this post, I’m continuing my story, ‘It was Him?’. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Did you miss part 1 on this story?

[part 1]

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It was Him? [part 2]
Image provided by Josu Mendicute
https://www.flickr.com/photos/supermendikute/
Officer Tanner was a big burly man with clear blue eyes and coppery wavy hair. Sitting at a desk with its side next to the window, he gave the impression of being gargantuan. The steno chair seemed tiny in comparison to his large frame in dark blue. The pen in his paw-like hand looked like it could belong to a child.

Caitlin nervously walked up to his desk. “Officer Tanner?”

He averted his eyes from his work and gave her a grin. “Can I help you?” Before she could answer, he gestured for her to sit in the straight chair next to his desk.

“Sir, something kind of frightening happened to me this morning.” She squirmed in her seat folding and unfolding her hands several times.

He pulled a piece of paper from the side drawer. “Okay, your name, address, and telephone number. I’ll also need some identification.”

She gave him her stats and then, retold the story she had told the first cop. He let her say all of it before he prompted her for more information.

“You didn’t see anyone next to your car earlier or as you were walking out to it?”

“I looked outside when I got up this morning. All I saw was snow and my car along with a few other cars parked against the curb. No one was out there.”

“And when you walked out the door…?

“I wasn’t looking really. I was watching where I was stepping. The stairs were covered with snow and I didn’t know if ice was underneath; there was.” Her eyes rolled upward as if she was in disbelief. “But once I got past the stairs, I didn’t see anyone. I wasn’t very observant, though.” Her cheeks turned a soft pink as she continued to twiddle her fingers in her lap.

“Do you know if anyone is angry with you?”

She furrowed her eyebrows. “I don’t think so. At least, not angry like this. What did this person mean be ‘You’re next?’”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out here. Did you take someone’s parking spot?” She shook her head so he went on. “Did you get something someone else wanted–for instance, at work?”

She shook her head again but stopped. “This is probably nothing but I did get moved to another line in the factory. The woman who worked across the belt from me at that first line gave me a dirty look. The thing is, I thought the look was directed the supervisor who was standing behind me.”

“I’ll check it out but your assumption was probably what it was. Is there anyone in your apartment building I should check on?”

“No, I think I get along with everyone in the building.”

Tanner indicated that he didn’t have any more questions for her and assured her he’d be driving by her apartment on a regular basis for a while.

Driving into work, she reviewed the questions Tanner had asked. Did she know someone who was enough off his or her rocker to threaten her like this? Did she do something unintentionally to set off a lunatic?

She was caught up in her own world of problems as she walked down the narrow hall to the women’s locker room at the leather factory. So much so, she almost ran into her boss head-on.

“Why are you late, Caitlin?” Her supervisor, Mr. Adams crinkled his eyebrows and gave her a black look.

“Oops! Sorry, Mr. Adams. I’m late because I was at the police station. Some idiot left a threatening message on my windshield this morning.” She looked straight into his eyes, sizing up the possibility of the culprit being him.

“And why didn’t you call?”

She diverted her eyes to her purse to find her locker key. “I should have called. I’m sorry. Are you firing me?”

“No, but you have to be more responsible. You aren’t a kid, you know.” He walked up the hall not giving her a chance to respond.

Once at her locker, she resumed her deliberations concerning Tanner’s questions. The threat didn’t come from her boss; that she was certain of. Did she know her neighbors in her building all that well?

This continues on next month…

Inspired Prompt:

S/he walked out to find a message scraped into the frost on the windshield. —Today’s Author

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Don’t be afraid to give me feedback on this story.

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.” —Steve Almond, WD

Short note: With another month just around the corner, I’ll be changing my header image and my colors again. Yes, I know it’s crazy but I’m bored out of my skull with what I have now.

Also, if you’d like to read my posts just once per month, sign up for my newsletter.

 

#amwriting – It was Him?

My favorite social media site is Twitter. I have yet to heard of any “backstabbing” there, let alone witness anything like that at this site. I can’t make the same claim to other social media sites. I’ve seen the tag, #amwriting, several times, yet, for reasons I can’t begin to fathom, I’ve never posted using it before. Ludicrous, isn’t it?

Today is my first post using the hashtag, #amwriting.

#amwriting - It was Him?
Image provided by Eric
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ejpphoto/

When Caitlin watched the news the night before, the weatherperson had predicted snow, wet heavy snow. She went to bed grumbling about the cold and wet the morning would probably bring.

Just as the weatherperson had said, large sloppy snowflakes were falling from the dove-colored sky when she woke up. She peered down from her apartment window at her car sitting innocently against the curb. Most of it was just snow that would easily brush off, but it didn’t escape her attention that ice crystals were forming on the front and back windows. There was something else she noticed in the dim dawn light. Something that looked like a piece of paper was stuck to the window.

After a couple of pieces of toast and a mug of coffee, she got dressed and was ready to face the cold dreary world that sat out there past her apartment building. Gingerly, she maneuvered the icy steps to the street’s sidewalk. The wind gusted, almost pulling her knit hat off. As she approached her car, she realized that what she had thought was a piece of paper was, in reality, just a place on the windshield where the ice was thicker.

She retrieved the scraper from the backseat of her car and placed the hard plastic edge on the front window. It was then that she noticed there was scratched lettering in the place where the ice was so thick. You’re next!

What was that suppose to mean? Obviously, it meant trouble, but she couldn’t fathom who would do this. Her life was so drab. There wasn’t any reason for anyone at all to want to hurt her. Or maybe that was the exact reason why.

As soon as she got her windows scraped, she slid into the driver’s seat and started the engine. While she waited for the car to warm up, she pulled her cell phone from her purse and pushed in the numbers for her sister.

Mona’s voice was sleepy. “Hello.” She lived a few states west of Caitlin making the hour much earlier. Caitlin was positive she’d understand.

The car was taking forever to warm up. She could see her breath as she spoke. “Mona, there was a message on my car this morning. Kind of threatening.”

“Cat, do you know what time it is? Is there someone standing over you with a knife or a gun pointed at you?”

“Mona, I’m not kidding around. The message said, ‘You’re next!’”

“Cat, go to the police precinct nearest you and report it. Do not call me back. Cat, I’ll call you tonight.” And with that, Mona hung up on her.

Caitlin sat there watching the snow slide off the front hood. She should have taken a picture of the message. She looked behind her and pulled out onto the street.

The police station was a mere five blocks from her building. When she pulled into the small parking lot, she was sure she’d have to circle a few times before finding a place to park. However, as she rounded one aisle and was headed down the closer aisle, a car pulled out. The car behind her tried to squeeze past her to grab the slot but his vehicle was too wide. “Serves you right,” she said looking in her rearview mirror. She turned in and shut off the motor.

Surprisingly, no one was waiting to talk to the officer at the front desk. “Hi, cold morning, isn’t it?”

The officer peered up from looking at his papers. “They said it was coming. How can I help you.”

“I got a threatening message.”

“Let me see it.”

Crimson crept up her neck and covered her cheeks. “It was written in ice on my car. I forgot to take a picture of it. But it was there. Honest!”

“Okay. What did it say?”

“You’re next!”

The officer picked up the receiver of his desk phone and punched in four numbers. When he laid the receiver down, he said, “Officer Tanner will interview you.” He gestured to the swing gate on his right. “Just go through there and take a seat.

This continues on next month…

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Inspired Prompt:

S/he walked out to find a message scraped into the frost on the windshield. —Today’s Author

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“That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.” ― Tim O’Brien

Happy Holidays!

Learning from Failure

Learning from Failure
Image provided by mikef_man
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikefarah/

It’s been over a week since I, last, published a post to this blog. In my estimation, I’d say I’m hooked on this practice. In truth, I think I’m probably using this corner of cyberspace as a diary. True, there are many things I leave out that I feel are too personal to share, but most of these things I wouldn’t write anywhere. They’re fine where they are in the back vaults of my mind.

I am getting back into writing, the kind where some real progress is made. No, I’m not leaping or bounding as if I’m dancing through a field of words or anything. Still, I’ve got my focus to the grindstone.

Almost a month ago, I wrote a #weekendcoffeeshare post about getting into the groove of writing again. I told about how I was switching from being a pantser to a plotter and writing character sketches and scene summaries before starting, once again, on my WiP. I said something about hiding my yWriter too.

I failed with that approach. It’s embarrassing in a small way. I’m not red-faced or anything though. Victor Salinas explained it adequately in his post at A Writer’s Path. He stated that failure can make you humble, and at the same time, help you learn what works and what doesn’t work.

All this time I’ve been trying so hard to not be one of those who fail, one of those who has to pull themselves up by their boot straps and begin again, and again, and again. It’s pure vanity too, which is also embarrassing. I don’t like people who are blatantly vain, and yet here I sit, in all of my misplaced pride, doing the same thing. It’s shameful. Now I’m one within the masses, drudging over my work, even “bleeding” a little.

Although completing the sketches and the summaries were excellent exercises, and I plan to expand on them along the way, I’ve gone back to my beloved yWriter and I’m making some good progress. It’s a relief to know that the passion for this story is still within me.

The fallacy of these last weeks’ efforts have helped me see my weaknesses and my strengths, mostly my weaknesses though. This experience has shown me what a wuss I’ve been.

I need to push myself harder. Walking away, if only for a short while, before I’ve even tried to “pop a few arteries” in my pea-brain, isn’t a good thing for me to do. I do better when I “bleed” a little. Stopping a writing session because my husband has decided he just must play some computer games is, also, not a good thing for me to do. I need to just turn his presence off, tell my mind he is not there. If need be, I need to tell him to find something, anything to do outside this room.

It’s through the act of toiling over the WiP that I found inspiration and motivation. By getting to the effort of telling the story, I was able to find that unexplainable reason to go on and keep going on. It is true that having a schedule of some sort is invaluable. However, to be a slave to that routine, and not write a word until the designated time will do more harm than good. And by that same token, writing gibberish because it’s the appropriate time, just to keep up the “good” habit is sheer lunacy. If something obtrusive is in the way of creativity, writing prattle during a session isn’t going to help at all. During those times is when I’m either working on summaries, sketches, or research. I’m still productive despite the lack of a word count.

Concededly, when I don’t use that designated time for carving out the story, I feel I’m not getting anything done. As a rational person, I know this is false, but my heart says I’m not putting in what is required. Required by who? By me, of course. Hopefully, once I see enough results, this foolishness in me will stop.

As I stated in my last post, I decided to take a more slackened approach to my blog until some time after the Labor Day weekend. I think in declaring this change in my daily routine is what has helped me get past some of the ugly issues surrounding my strife with motivation. It was a stand without any confines or limits to speak of, except a suggestion of when the lacked time may end.

There’s still a whole full month of summer, plus some. I’m hoping to make some progress that I can be proud of in a way that isn’t misplaced.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou

 

Character Sketch: Ophelia Williams

Image provided by Chris Chabot https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrischabot/
Image provided by Chris Chabot
https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrischabot/

Ophelia Williams stepped out onto the balcony that jutted out from her small but efficient apartment. Looking up and down the street from the raised first floor of the building she had the vantage point she liked. Sophie, a friend who lived two stories up from her thought her longtime buddy had rocks in her head.

The friend couldn’t understand the attraction of being where people on the street could speak so freely to her, let along could burglarize her home. Howbeit, Sophie readily agreed it was better than the garden level. They were dark and depressing, not letting in the natural light. Those units were like being in a dungeon.

Ophelia had been renting her home on twenty-sixth avenue for five years. It was better than what she had before, with the grocery store two blocks away, the bus stop at the farther corner, the subway at the nearer one, and a three-block walk to the park where the recreation center resided. As far as she was concerned, the location was perfect for a woman past her prime.

Leon trudged up the seven steps to the front door of the apartment building hugging a bag of groceries in each arm.

“Give me a minute, Leon, and I’ll open that door for you.” She hurried inside, stuffed her key in her pants pocket, and rushed out the door into the dimly lighted hall. The door closed behind her with a smack.

Standing sideways to let Leon pass, she asked, “Didn’t you just go on Monday?”

He gingerly maneuvered the stairs going down to the garden level. Reaching the bottom, he finally answered, “Having my daughter and the grandkids over. They like my spaghetti. The only ingredient I had in the apartment was the Parmesan cheese.”

The breeze from the street rushed in, ruffling Ophelia’s short wavy hair. She brushed the silver curls back away from her face as she strode up the five steps to the first floor. Before taking that last step, she turned towards the railing and said, “Tell Linda hello for me.”

She nodded even though she didn’t really hear his faint muddled reply and continued down the hall to her doorway. She glanced at the oval mirror hanging on the wall of her living room near the door she entered. She glared at the jowls developing on either side of her face. She pivoted and headed for the bathroom. The counter was clear except for two jars of cream, some liquid makeup, powder blush, an eyelash wand, and some beauty cleanser. She carefully opened one of the jars. Darn, almost forgot. She tucked what hair she could get behind her ears and filled the basin with warm water. After washing her face, she opened the other jar of cream and sparingly applied it to her face. She took a little of the cream she had originally opened and smears it on her jaw-line.

Why am I doing this. I haven’t dated anyone, nor do I plan to. Jerry’s been dead for nine years and I rather like my single life. So what’s with this trying to keep up appearances?

With her face made up, she stood at her closet doors, still in her capris and button-down shirt she had put on after her shower earlier, deciding what to wear to the meeting at the art center. The seconds on the clock sitting on her nightstand conspicuously ticked in the otherwise silent bedroom. It beckoned her attention. She twisted her body around to peer at the dial. Still have over an hour. Her look grazed pass the window.

BANG!

She saw it. She knew she saw it. Yet her body continued to swivel around to face the closet again.

The long multi-colored A-line skirt, the cream silk blouse, and the black blazer were determined to be the best for the occasion. She hung them carefully on the rack next to her chest of drawers. She pulled off what she had been wearing and tossed them onto the one chair in the room. After all under garments were on, she slipped on the blouse, and then the skirt.

The sirens blazed outside the window. There were shrill voices added to the sound of another discharge.

Ophelia skated into her slippers and pulled the open blinds up to see the street below. A young woman laid on the sidewalk. Blood flowed to the gutter. A police officer looked up at her and motioned her to her balcony at the adjacent room.

“Ma’am, did you see any of this?” he said taking off his cap.

You ass! Why didn’t you go to the window and peek throw those blinds?! “I didn’t see much. I’ll tell you what I can though.”

The man climbed the stairs to the apartment building door. The buzzer went off and he enters. Mounting the few stairs, he saw her at her front door.

“Would you like coffee or tea?” Old habits she learned growing up still abided within her.

“No Ma’am, but thanks. What did you see?” he asked as he turned on the mini recorder.

“I didn’t see the woman until afterwards, but I did see the man’s head and shoulders. I was standing on the other side of the room though.”

“What room?”

She motions to the bedroom.

“Do you wear glasses?”

“Yes, to read. After all these years, I’m still farsighted. Anyway, he had a black baseball cap on, and it looked like the hair peering out at the bottom was black, or at least dark. His skin was tan.”

“Was there an emblem on the cap?”

“Don’t know. He was standing looking up the street.” She uncrossed her legs while in the chair she chose to sit in. She leaned forward slightly. “Officer, I didn’t see a weapon, but I did see the angle of his right shoulder. It was positioned as if he was pointing at something in front of him.”

“Good observation. Did you see which way he went?”

“Sorry, no I didn’t. I saw him seconds before I heard the bang. I was look out from across the room when the bang exploded, you know. Then I turned away. Nothing registered until I heard the sirens. I’m so sorry.”

He reach across from where he sat and touch her hand for a brief moment. “What color was his shirt?”

“It was a green t-shirt, the kind of green the military wear with fatigues.”

“Thank you for your help, ma’am. We may be calling you. Just so I have it, what is your name?”

She obliged him with name and phone number.

Opening the door, he plopped his hat on his head and strode toward the entrance.

Ophelia continued to sit. Her mind was void of conscious thought.

It took her a full ten minutes to get her mind in gear again. She made her way to the bedroom and peered at the clock. Still have time. She kicked her slippers off, pushing them under the bed. Using the wall for support, she slipped into the black pumps. After adorning the look with the blazer, she grabbed her purse and headed out the door.

There was still some bustle on the street, but the lookers had vanished. The officer she had spoken to waved at her as she hurried to the subway.

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“Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Character Sketch: Tim Collins

Character Sketch: Tim Collins
Image provided by rlordksu
https://www.flickr.com/photos/21469460@N03/

Tim Collins was twenty-eight, but looked like a middle-aged man. No one would ever say as much to his face. He worked in construction as an electrician and referred to himself as being as old as he felt, trying to get rid of the stigma. He hung out at the neighborhood bar on Friday and Saturday night with the iron workers and the foremen who lived in the same area, telling crude jokes and flirting with the two waitresses. He had long decided on never to act as old as he looked.

His hair was gray with hints of white, the result of once having pure black hair. His eyes shown as brilliant slate metal. In earlier years, his frame was solid and large. Though the bulk of him hadn’t changed, his beer belly hid more than half of his belt since approximately four years before. Despite all the time he’d spent in the sun, his skin was fair, becoming slightly ruddy in the warmer months, declaring he was an Irishman without a word coming from his mouth.

He was about to kick off on his twenty-ninth year, and profoundly alone. His one love died in a negligent accident eight years ago. Although no one could see it outwardly, he pined for her every day. The crew he shared beer and shots with figured him to be a happy bachelor, not having an inkling of the suffering within him. He kept his emotions held tight within the walls of his blackening heart.

His longtime friend, Doug, one of the foremen who worked for C & M Construction, had noticed the change in his friend in recent years. Although Tim joined the gang at Schmitt’s for drinks and gab, he often sat alone at another table. When his friend asked him what was up, his reply was, “Have some things on my mind, is all.” He’d move in close to the other construction workers and join in the chit-chat.

Tim’s melancholy and petulance were painfully getting the best of him. At the onset, he had recognized the drops in his mood and made efforts to alleviate it. As time went on, and the symptoms grew in intensity, he paid less attention to how the moods were affecting him. Thoughts of death crept in during the evening and nighttime hours. At first he just pondered on the abstract of the subject. Soon, he was thinking about fingers severed and heads in weaved baskets.

He forced the images out of his mind as he rose in the predawn to trudge through another day at the construction site. He stood under the scalding hot water with his head turned up. The blistering heat didn’t work as well as it used to as a way to banish those horrendous perceptions haunting his thoughts. I’m going to have to get some leather strapping.

He made mental notes about his duties of the day as he  cruised down Charlton Avenue. Doug wanted the third floor finished so his men could start putting up the drywall. Amos wanted wires moved on the first floor to appease a couple of the tenants moving their businesses into the structure. Visions of electrocuting these leasers accidentally on purpose floated into his head.

Screech! He slammed on the brakes. His daydream almost caused him to plow into the truck in front of him. He combed his short silver mane before grabbing the wheel again.

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I want any feedback you have on this sketch. Please.

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.” Sidonie Colette