Plot of the Day

Where do you want to take this story? Let’s see how many different ways Greta’s situation can be interpreted. What is she up to?

—- The dratted bag was heavy. Her arm ached. Greta saw a locker and decided it was worth the two bucks to store her burden. She could pick it up later, when it was time to meet Mr. Stanley. For now, she needed to take a break and time to think about whether she wanted to continue with the plan.

36 responses to “Plot of the Day

  1. Barbara Burris

    Greta loved dogs. So when she was offered a job working for Mr. Stanley at the American Kennel Club, she took it even though it was only a menial clerk’s position. She’d always lived frugally and the pay wouldn’t improve on that, but Mr. Stanley had promised she’d receive passes to all the major dog shows, even Westminster. That perk alone made the job worthwhile. And Mr. Stanley was a nice man. As a boss, he wasn’t at all demanding and they enjoyed a genial work relationship. So when he offered to take her with him to the Westminster show for her first behind the scenes glimpse at this most prestigious event, she accepted immediately.

    When they arrived at Madison Square Garden, Greta couldn’t keep her eyes focused on any one thing. Beautiful dogs were everywhere. She followed a few paces behind Mr. Stanley, gawking and gaping at the perfectly coiffed creatures. He generously introduced her to judges and handlers who encouraged her to pet and cuddle their famous charges. She was in dog heaven.

    The enormous room was overcrowded and wild with activity. The noise of hair dryers and clippers coupled with the barking of enthusiastic participants was nearly deafening. Greta was just as stunned as Mr. Stanley when they noticed the handler drag Dallas from his crate. She could understand being tired and short tempered. But the idea of dragging a Best in Show dog, choking and struggling for air, seemed way beyond anything even the most exhausted dog handler would do. Greta hadn’t thought twice about following Mr. Stanley out into the alley. She mentally scripted what she might say to the man if she had the chance. But things happened so fast that neither she nor Mr. Stanley would ever have the chance to speak to him. Nor could they ever have been prepared for what they saw happen there.

    Two days later, here she was at Boston’s South Station train depot, stuffing twenty-five pounds of dog kibble into a locker. Everything happened so fast, she hadn’t really thought about her actions. What would her father think if he knew what she’d done?

  2. Greta removed the key from the locker’s lock and flexed her arm to relieve the ache. The Irish Wolfhound sat beside her, quiet and obedient.

    “Dingo Dallas of Donnybrook,” she said. “I’m going to call you ‘Huggies.’ That’s a perfect name for you, you big Sweetie.” The brindle dog looked at her and smiled, showing only his lower front teeth. The expression in his eyes was one of gratitude.

    “Too bad you wouldn’t fit in that locker,” Greta added. “Might keep me from being arrested for felony dog theft.”

    Flashes of her daring and ill-considered rescue of the dog from its handler two days ago stopped Greta for a moment. Still shot images of her small frame flying into the cruel handler, Mr. Stanley sitting on the man as Greta tore the lead from his hand, the giant dog coughing and gasping as she ran with it from the arena–all tumbled through her brain as her stomach threatened an internal rebellion.

    Then she forcefully banished those pictures from her mind and led Huggies from the station. How was she to know the handler was also the owner?

    Her free hand lingered on the dog’s massive head. At his shoulder he was even with Greta’s waist. She wondered how could anyone mistreat such a magnificent animal. But now what was she going to do with him? He’d never be happy in her studio apartment in the big city. Plus, she was probably going to be in jail in the all-too-near future.

    She walked along the city streets, heading for her clandestine meeting with Mr. Stanley.

    • Fun installment! Love the idea of the dog being an Irish Wolfhound, Gullie. That’s one of my favorite dogs! Alex met one when we went to Michigan a couple of weeks ago and they really liked one another.

  3. After buying a sandwich at the Subway store at the south end of the mall, Greta found a bench and sat down. As she ate, she thought back to the days she had only dreamed of being a writer. Those were the good old days.

    Greta had taken her first online writing class workshop nearly four years ago. Since then, her mind and fingers had rarely ceased pumping out words.

    Greta had changed since she began writing. She’d gained confidence and had come to consider herself to be a writer. She couldn’t help wondering if she had what it takes to be a published author. After the publishing company moved into the old post office building just down the road from the mall, Greta couldn’t ignore her hopes any longer.

    Yesterday, Greta packed all the pages and pages of words she had written in the past few years into bundles and then into her duffel bag. She hadn’t really organized any of it because she didn’t have the patience to undertake such a task.

    Greta’s plan was to take her duffel bag to Mr. Stanley whose name was listed in the yellow page ad as the initial contact person for the publishing company. She realized her plan to leave the bag with her name and telephone number attached probably wouldn’t fly, but she wasn’t one to follow rules or jump through the necessary hoops to gain success.

    As Greta imagined Mr. Stanley’s insisting that he couldn’t accept a whole duffel bag of her work, she visualized herself putting the bag down beside his desk, turning around and quickly leaving the building. At least the evidence of her efforts wouldn’t be nagging her every time she passed the room where she usually wrote.

    Greta looked at her watch. It was 1:00. Mr. Stanley should be back from lunch. Greta had observed his comings and goings the past two days and knew his regular routine. Now or never, she thought.

    Her hands shook as she opened the locker. The duffel bag felt heavier than ever. She had an impulse to take it back home and to stash it under her bed. Instead, she headed in the direction of the publishing company.

    Outside the mall, the hot summer air hit her unexpectedly. Either she was more nervous than she realized or the temperature had jumped up several degrees in the last hour or so. Her heart was beating noticeably and she felt her body tensing. She couldn’t think anymore. She was sick and tired of thinking and worrying and doubting herself.

    Once upon a time, Greta had been a normal person. She had friends and a job and all the pastimes of a normal middle-aged woman. Now, she was a hermit, unemployed and often felt useless and lost.

    Marching toward the awning covered entrance, Greta spotted Mr. Stanley. She’d never been this close to him before and his deeply creased forehead and heavy brows surprised her. She’d hoped he’d be more easy going and approachable.

    Greta felt light-headed. Was she crazy? She must be. This wasn’t the way to go about getting published. Who was she kidding? She knew she shouldn’t have gone off her medication but it had seemed like the right thing to do last week. She had felt so sure of herself. Now, she felt nothing but fear.

    Greta was in the grip of that old feeling of anxiousness and disorientation she’d experienced before when she’d stopped taking her pills. Beside the publisher’s entrance was a large covered trash receptacle. At that moment, all she could process was the fact that she wanted to be rid of her years of writing. She was afraid to open the door to Mr. Stanley so she impulsively tried to shove her duffel bag into the trash can. It wouldn’t fit through the opening on the lid so she grabbed the cover and threw it down. As soon as she had rid herself of the burden she’d been carrying for years, she burst into tears.

    Mr. Stanley looked up from his desk to see Greta standing with her hands on the rim of the trash can. He could see she was sobbing and nearly hysterical.

    Greta pushed herself away from the sight of her years of writing in the trash can and stumbled into the street. Mr. Stanley was right behind her but the delivery truck hit her before he could help her.

  4. Greta’s small frame bounced off the delivery truck’s grille and splatted into the concrete curb. Her last thought before the blackness was, “Too funny. Delivered from my nightmare by a delivery truck.”

    Mr. Stanley rushed to her side and watched letters and words and plots and epiphanies leaking from the various wounds in Greta’s body and dripping into the storm drain.

    “Out of my way, “ said a disembodied voice. “I’m an EMT.” A tall blonde man reached in front of Mr. Stanley’s face and placed two fingers on Greta’s throat. Feeling for a pulse, Mr. Stanley realized.

    The ferocious honking of horns caught his attention and he turned toward the noise as the stranger continued to examine Greta. Standing in the middle of the intersection was Dallas, the Irish Wolfhound, his slack lead dragging on the pavement.

    Mr. Stanley stumbled into the traffic and picked up the thin blue show leash. “Come on, Dallas. Let’s get you out of here before someone recognizes you. You’ve had a lot of publicity in the last two days.”

    The huge canine followed Mr. Stanley to the sidewalk, where it bent its grizzled head down to the human who had taken it from the cruel man. The dog went quite still as it sniffed the human. Then it raised its head. From seemingly nowhere a strange howling moan spread across the sidewalk, into the Starbucks shops and video stores and lawyer’s offices that lined the streets.

    Pedestrians stopped and looked around, wondering about the source of such a unusual sound. Mr. Stanley stared at Dallas. It has to be coming from him, he thought, but even though he was standing right next to the dog, he was unable to connect the sound to the dog.

    Suddenly the tall stranger stood up. “She has a pulse! Thready, but a pulse.”

  5. ((((I understood we were to write individual stories using Ann’s opening paragraph as a prompt. That’s what I did. Obviously, in my story above, I didn’t continue on from where Barb’s story ended. My story was intended to be complete from my first word to my last.

    As long as we’re all writing, I guess it doesn’t matter.))))

  6. I don’t what we’re supposed to do. It’s just my OCD putting things in order–unlike my desk and loft.

  7. Now look what I’ve done! I just HAD to open my big mouth and as a result our fun with words has come to a screeching halt.

    I made my point; I was right (I must admit that I selfishly revel in that); yet, you were flaming, Gully, burning the midnight oil and writing excellently to boot. Just ignore me and go on with what you were doing.

    I’ll try to be good from now on, okay?

    • Barbara Burris

      What are you worried about? I started it with my unfinished symphony up there at the top! I should learn to be more precise so I can get things said in a shorter time frame.

      I doubt there was any grinding that hadn’t already occurred. Right, Gully?

      And congratulations on being right!

  8. Lighten up, you guys. This isn’t a test. It’s meant to be fun. I got wrapped up in both your stories and wanted to find out where they ended. I’ll see if I can come up with something that doesn’t lean on each of yours. Now, will you continue playing with me? It’s the garden and worms, if not.

    • Dang, I wish I could lighten up! I’m even resorting to picking up litter, following your fine example, and the pounds are here to stay. Taking off from exercising all last week and eating pizza and ice cream doesn’t fit well into my weight management plan,

      Now, back to the actual subject you were addressing, if I can keep up with you I’ll play with you. Sure. A duffel bag of worms; now there’s an interesting prompt.

  9. Greta turned from the locker and began walking laps inside the mall. Before she’d picked up her walking rhythm, the notice her hands felt dry and she had dirt under her fingernails. What did she expect after digging in her garden for the past three days, she thought.

    In the restroom at Walgreen’s, Greta soaped up her hands, lathered and rinsed them and watched the dirt swirl down the drain. She quickly headed for the cosmetic department and found an open hand lotion pump on display. That’s better, she thought as she walked back into the mall working the scented moisture into her skin.

    Greta had graduated two weeks earlier and hadn’t found a summer job yet. This proved very convenient since she had unfinished business to take care of. Thanks to Mr. Stanley, Greta’s geometry instructor, she almost didn’t graduate from Roosevelt High School with the rest of her class.

    Greta walked faster than usual, pumped up by the anger she still harbored toward Mr. Stanley. Knowing revenge was close at hand, her heart pounded in her chest. She was only minutes from dropping in on him.

    Greta knew that all of the instructors worked for three weeks after the school year ended, wrapping up the past year’s loose ends and preparing for the upcoming semester. This morning Greta had made an appointment via the school secretary with Mr. Stanley. “I want to thank him for all he’s done for me,” she’d said.

    After lap ten, Greta made her way to the locker where she’d stashed the brown bag she’d lugged from her Jeep. She held the bag closed at the top with her right hand and supported the damp, sagging bottom with her other. She hadn’t left the bag in her hot Jeep while she walked the mall because, well, overheated worms don’t smell nice.

    After unlocking the Jeep, Greta set the bag on the floor mat in the back seat, started the engine and drove the short distance to her old high school. From the parking lot, Greta entered the building at the main entrance. She greeted the secretary and was instructed to go directly to Mr. Stanley’s office.

    The office door was open and Greta watched as Mr. Stanley flipped through a stack of papers on the desk in front of him. “Good afternoon,” she said.

    Mr. Stanley looked up and recognized Greta. A smug and satisfied look settled on his face. “This is indeed an unexpected pleasure, Greta. I’m pleased that you harbor no ill-feelings over our recent differences. Your character is admirable and will surely lead you to success. Please sit down.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Stanley, but that’s truly the last thing I want to do. Please accept these as a token of my appreciation for you and all you’ve done for me.” Greta brought the paper bag, now soggier and weaker than before, to the edge of Mr. Stanley’s desk. She tipped the bag on its side and then emptied its contents onto his desk. Dirt and a massive ball of earthworms landed on the papers he’d been going through. The tangle of wet and muddy worms were spreading in all directions by the time Greta turned and reached the door. Over her shoulder as she walked away, Greta said “Today, I prefer revenge over success. I hand picked them. Only the best for you.”

  10. Oh, Shaddy, this is delicious!

  11. Shaddy, I think it’s all your fault I dreamed last night about being in high school again. “Dream” is the wrong word. Is there a verb that connotes “had a nightmare” without writing out all three words?

    I should ask Sarah Palin. She’s good at making up words–just like Shakespeare.

    • Write: ” …I nightmared last night about…”

      Can you imagine me as a teacher? Now that would be a nightmare! I can hear myself now. “How many times do I have to tell you kids that you have to follow instructions??!! You’re all staying after school and writing “I will endeavor to follow instructions” one hundred times before you can go home.

      Sure enough, that’s what I’d do.

  12. “—- The dratted bag was heavy. Her arm ached. Greta saw a locker and decided it was worth the two bucks to store her burden. She could pick it up later, when it was time to meet Mr. Stanley. For now, she needed to take a break and time to think about whether she wanted to continue with the plan.—”

    She walked back out into the bus terminal and looked around. She had to keep her eyes open in case they find her. This would be one of the places they would look. That thought sent Greta into the nearest restroom, and when everyone had left, she took her gum and stuck the locker key under the counter. At least they won’t know where the bag was, maybe she could get word to Mr. Stanley where she hid the key.

    Mr. Stanley encouraged her to continue on, to make their meeting at all costs. After all, he had what was best for her in mind, she guessed he did, she really didn’t know what was best for her.

    But his name soothed her mind, “Mr. Stanley,” she’d say under her breath, “reminds me of my old stainless steel thermos filled with hot coffee,” which was the only good memory she had.

    She smiled, and it startled her. She hadn’t smiled in a long it. So she smiled again and it felt good. Coffee, she thought, I’d like a cup of coffee. Her spirits were lifting, even with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

    Across the terminal she saw him. Tears began to run down her cheeks, “No,” she said, “I won’t cry, not this time.” She looked up as he walked closer, the red rose in his lapel telling her that her savior, Mr. Stanley, was about to rescue her. He took his hankerchief and wiped away her tears, “Let’s get to the car and then you can cry all you want. I need you to be strong just a little longer. Do you have the bag?”

    “Yes, it’s in a locker. The key is in the bathroom, I’ll go get it.” Greta opened the locker, her hand trembling as she slowly reached for the bag. She grasped it as if she’d never let it go. “Here,” she said as she handed it to Mr. Stanley, “Here is all the evidence you need. It starts when I was two and goes up to last week. There are pictures and video of the many times he forced himself on me. Most of the pictures were taken by my mother. Get them out of my life, get me out of this life.”

    Tears came to Mr. Stanley’s eyes, every one of these girls that he had rescued touched his heart. He looked her deep in her eyes, “You graduate today, tomorrow is a whole new beginning for you. The sky’s the limit and we’ll see that you get there.”

    As they walked to the car, Mr. Stanley wondered who the next girl was and wondered what she was going through right then. His heart should be filled with the victory of saving Greta, but it was breaking for all the Greta’s that were still out there. As his driver’s door shut, Greta looked at him, her big, brown, puppy dog eyes clouding with tears, “Thank you, thank you for helping me.” That was all the words Greta could say before the avalance of tears came. Tears of relief, tears of cleansing, tears of joy, all mixed together and flowing down her cheeks.

    Mr. Stanley started the car, and put it in gear. With a little victory in his voice, he told Greta, “Your new journey begins now.”

    • I like your story much better than mine. Yours tells a story of redemption and ends on a positive note.

      My submission, well, I wonder if I should seek counseling!!?? Am I harboring anger and resentment? Actually, without talking to anybody, I can readily admit that I am.

      (Writing is a God send. It reveals truths that I try to deny).

      Perhaps after a few years of venting via written words, I’ll write like you do.

      Thanks again, Walk.

    • What a great uplifting story! Hope its true over and over again.

  13. The dratted bag was heavy. Her arm ached. Gretta saw a locker and decided it was worth the 2 bucks to store her burden. She could pick it up later when it was time to meet Mr. Stanley. For now, she needed to take a break and time to think about whether she wanted to continue with the plan.

    Sitting at the train station in Seattle was not where she thought she would be after college graduation. But here she was, traveling with a back pack and her portfolio, to the big city to interview with Mr. Stanley for a job. Seattle seemed too big, too fast paced and too scary to her. She was more comfortable in her small home town. Did she really want to move so far away from home?

    When she began her studies in Visual Communication, it was the up and coming design career path. She was smart, talented and at the top of her small graduating class. But it was 2010, and there were no jobs for college graduates. “No jobs for just about anyone, for that matter,” she muttered to herself. Her hometown definitely had no prospects. She had sent her resume to major companies with job openings in all the big west coast cities. And now she was here in Seattle.

    Her portfolio was her pride and joy. All of her projects were showcased there. It was not only the weight of the portfolio, but the weight of her future that caused her to stash it in the locker. It was too heavy to carry for now.

    She looked at her watch; 0800. She was six hours early. She had planned to arrive early to wander around the wharf and people watch for awhile before she got ready for her interview.

    Mr. Stanley himself had called to set up this interview. “I was impressed with your resume and college activities. I would like to review your portfolio with you next Wednesday at 2PM. We have a new position that might be suited for your skills and a mentor who would help you grow in this new area.”

    Wow, she thought. Me, in a big city, with a big job. How cool was that! But, was she ready? With no friends or family close by, she would be on her own. That wasn’t the plan she had in mind. But she needed a job.

    Out of the corner of her eye she watched an awesomely good looking young man with dark hair and gorgeous dimples. He was seated in the same car with her and she had caught him looking at her a number of times. They made their way to the canteen car for coffee at the same time, but had only exchanged a brief greeting. She felt her heart jump wildly in her chest when he had said hi to her, but he had quickly returned to his seat and his computer.

    She took a city walking map from the kiosk and made her morning plans. She would walk to the Pike Street Market; it didn’t look too far from the station. She wanted to see the famous fish throwers and have something to eat at one of the waterfront cafés before her 2:00 PM meeting with Mr. Stanley.

    As she wandered the waterfront she tried to imagine herself living in Seattle. She would take one step at time. The first step was a job and it was time to return to the train station, retrieve her portfolio, and change into her interview clothes.

    At 1:50PM she presented herself to the receptionist at Mr. Stanley’s office. At 2:00PM, she was escorted into a meeting room with a large round oak table. She was studying the room and the paintings on the walls when a well dressed older gentleman entered. He extended his hand as he said, “I’m Gordon Stanley, Miss Smith. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance.” He sat down and continued, “My son will join us momentarily. He is the one with the idea for this new department and will be guiding its development. I would like him to explain the details to you.”

    She removed her portfolio from its case and as she placed it on the table, the door opened. “It’s you,” they said in unison. The handsome young man she had traveled with on the train sat down at the table and leaned toward her, grasping her hand.

  14. Better than “Sleepless”.

  15. The dratted bag was heavy. Her arm ached. Greta saw a locker and decided it was worth the two bucks to store her burden. She could pick it up later, when it was time to meet Mr. Stanley. For now, she needed to take a break and time to think about whether she wanted to continue with the plan

    She waited several minutes at a nearby coffee vendor. She dare not buy anything that would push her nerves farther than they already were. Another hour passes and finally Mr. Stanley steps around the corner and stands before her. His face in a wince from the disdain at having to deal with such a nuisance. Of all the people who could bring him down, his own secretary of 20 years unexpectadly shows a devious nature.

    Greta had been a shy, silent wallpaper in his office. The kind of woman that you pass by daily and don’t really see her. She was plain, perhaps so plain as to be above average. Now she was showing the truth inside the human condition. She had found evidence of fraud, forgery, theft, and even infidelity and placed it all in a bag. Three million dollars is a lot of money for a secretary to start a new life, and that’s what it was going to cost Mr. Stanley to keep it out of the hands of the law.

    He said not a word, just handed her a briefcase to which she replied with the key and a smile. The smile spoke volumes to Mr. Stanley, he would never underestimate even the most unassuming of people again. Stanley walked quickly towards the lockers as Greta ran from the scene to disappear through the mundane, her arms beginning to ache again from how tightly she held onto her future.

    Mr. Stanley stood before the locker, a tightening in his throat as he reached for his ruination in a bag. slowly he opened the zipper to reveal it’s contents. At first, a look of shock came across his face and slowly melted into a laugh. He pulled from the bag and held up a stack of papers which repeated over and over the words ‘liar, cheater, thief’. His insane laughter drew stares from all around as police began to surround him. Greta’s earlier phone call alerting them to his location with the delivery of her evidence took quick action to bring this criminal to swift justice. He continued to laugh as all other sounds were stiffled by the sound of a nearby explosion. Greta’s reward was to learn that injustice to the unjust is still injustice. A lesson learned with grave consequence. Mr. Stanley’s laughter continued over the sounds of the sirens as he sped away to his unforseen future.

  16. Hey Carl! Good to see you here. Quite a story you came up with. Food for thought!

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