Give Me a Story

Give me a story that includes these five elements:  a crack in the sidewalk, rat poison, rust-colored corduroy pants, leftover lasagna, and Einstein.

I could use a good story.

61 responses to “Give Me a Story

  1. Sandra Degrow (Sandrella)

    Melva’s Adventure
    Melva organized her closet and while doing so observed her need for something new and warm. She enjoyed rummaging through her local consignment shop for various treasures, including clothing. Sure, the items are not new but new to Melva. She went to the shop that cool, damp Wednesday afternoon and headed straight for the back of the store where well-loved clothes were stored. Melva instantly spotted a pair of rust-coloured cordouroy pants on the left side of the pants rack, and tried them on. The pants were a perfect fit. Melva paid $10.00 for the pants and went home.
    On the way home, Melva skipped over each sidewalk crack she came to except for the last one. This crack had something shiny protruding from it. It was a key. Attached to the key was a fob with a note tucked inside a small slit.
    The note contained directions to a place where the key could be used. Melva trembled and sprinted to the place mentioned in the note for she loved adventures. The address was for a curiosity shop called “Notable Artifacts.” The shop was going to be open for about an hour longer today. Melva spoke to the shop owner and was shown a series of lock boxes in the back. She waited for the shop owner to leave and inserted the key into the appropriate box. Inside the box was a copy of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Written on the flyleaf was an address along with an invitation for dinner. How peculiar. Melva thought. She wanted to go but did not know the address or the person’s name but was curious.
    Melva went to the Elm street address and banged the heavy, ornate door knocker three times. Three minutes later a tall slender woman appeared at the door and Melva showed the woman the book and the note. The woman led Melva to the dining room and showed her to a chair. Melva sat. A lovely aroma wafted out of the kitchen.
    The woman brought out a plate of left over lasagna and offered it to Melva. The woman, Ruth, thanked Melva for joining her. Ruth was widowed for twenty years and was very lonely. Even though her methods for making friends were unorthodox, such as placing notes in books, Ruth seemed kind.
    The lasagna was tasty. Melva heard scratching in the walls and turned her head in the direction of the sound. Ruth noticed and lowered her eyes. She apologized to Melva and explained that the house was very old and in need of repairs. The upkeep was becoming increasingly more difficult and Ruth needed to take care of some things. First on her list was to purchase rat poison.
    Melva thanked Ruth for the meal and told Ruth that she would be back in half an hour. Melva purchased some rat poison at the hardware store and returned. Melva followed the instructions on the container. Ruth thanked Melva and asked her to stay for tea and chocolate cake. Melva graciously accepted. The pair became fast friends and Melva eventually moved into Ruth’s manse.
    Melva contacted family members and as a team repairs and a good cleaning and painting were done to the home. In gratitude for all Melva’s efforts, Ruth bequeathed her home and fortune to Melva. Six months later Ruth died and Melva moved in. In her Will, Ruth requested that the property not be empty. She wanted all the rooms to be enjoyed. Melva enlisted the help of family and turned the home into a bed and breakfast.

  2. At the very bottom of her mother’s cedar chest, under a wool blanket, was a faded Polaroid photograph. One glance set the reels of her memory archive in motion.

    There was no point begging her mother to let her get pants that actually fit. Better to grow into them than grow out of them, her mother would argue. She’d just have to roll the legs up.

    School was a 20-minute walk. Even if she hurried, she’d be late. Her mother didn’t like the mornings. Getting ready always seemed rushed and unpleasant. Her stomach grumbled. She thought about the peanut butter sandwich in her blue plastic lunchbox.

    She was so embarrassed of that lunchbox. It used to be her brother’s and it had a picture of Einstein on it. Why couldn’t she have a Barbie lunchbox like the other girls?

    Her brother was sick for a long time. He always had nose bleeds and bruises – lots of bruises. After her brother died, the kids at school would tease her and say her mother killed him with rat poisoning. If she asked about him, her mother would slap her face.

    The lunchbox. She forgot it at home. Too late to go back now. And she’d wake up her mother. Maybe her best friend would share her lunch.

    She’d often daydream about food. She’d imagine the whole world was lasagna and she had to eat her way to school. She loved lasagna. She had leftover lasagna one time at her best friend’s house. Her mother had stomach ulcers, so they never had anything like lasagna at home.

    She stopped to pull up her brand new rust-colored bell bottom corduroys, then jumped with both feet on to the line between the squares of concrete sidewalk.

    Don’t step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.

    Sometimes, she hated her mother.

    The photograph: A 9-year-old girl looks into the camera. No smile. New school year. New outfit. Earth tones were all the rage.

  3. Zelda, I loved this with the woman looking back at a less than happy childhood. Great read.

  4. My first day in our new apartment in Miami Beach, my cocker spaniel, Einstein, was found dead in my parents’ bedroom. Rat poison. I had been crying for about an hour when I heard a knock on the front door. It was our landlord, Carl X. My mother had apparently phoned him, telling him that we had some leftover lasagna and would he like to join us for dinner.
    “Do you want a hug?” Carl X asked, when he heard about Einstein. He wore rust-colored corduroy pants and a Darth Vader T-shirt.
    What was wrong with a hug? I thought.
    We embraced for about ten seconds. I let him go once or twice to signal that I was finished with the hug and wanted to be released but he didn’t catch on. As the seconds passed, it got more and more awkward. Finally, we separated.
    “Do you want a massage?” Carl X asked. I had been in Miami a little over twenty-four hours and didn’t want to start off on a bad note. It would be a short massage, I figured. Then I would be alone again to morn in comfortable silence.
    “Here, lie down on the bed face down,” he said.
    I complied.
    Within a minute his hands were kneading my lower buttocks, grazing my testicles. My eyes were open wide in protest. I was uncomfortable but remained silent in fear of the repercussions, but thankfully he stopped.
    I then ran into my parents’ bedroom and wondered if I had caused this terrible day because of the crack in the sidewalk earlier this morning. Damnit! I knew I shouldn’t have stepped on it.

  5. You’ve been dead six months and I’m drunk.

    I mourn your loss in all the wrong ways. I think of the leftover lasagna in the freezer, the remnants of our anniversary. Can a couple celebrate three months? We laughed about it knowing we would last forever.

    Then I cheated. A crack in the sidewalk that evolved into a rip through the universe marking the ending of all we held sacred. Einstein and all of his theories can’t explain why I did it. I might as well have fed you rat poison.

    I gather my rust-colored corduroy pants from the floor. The newspaper with your picture deep within. But I can’t pick up the pieces.

  6. Damn, Jeff! You always rocks these things!

  7. I’m a super fan of micro fiction. My latest photo-prompt entry at Ice Scream (revised).


    Give it a try yourself. 🙂


    The rust-colored corduroys slid off her hips and fell to the dressing room floor, but there was no point in begging her mother to buy a smaller size. Better to grow into them than grow out of them, her mother would argue. She’d just have to wear a belt.

    School was a 20-minute walk. She’d be late again. She hated being late. Her mother didn’t like mornings, so getting ready for school was always rushed and unpleasant. Her stomach grumbled – there was never enough time for breakfast. She thought about the leftover lasagna in her blue plastic lunchbox.

    She was so embarrassed of that stupid lunchbox. It used to be her brother’s and it had a picture of Einstein on it. Why couldn’t she have a Barbie lunchbox like the other girls?

    Her brother was sick for a long time. He always had nose bleeds and bruises – lots of bruises. No one seemed to know why he died.

    She stopped to pull up her pants, then jumped with both feet on to line between the squares of concrete sidewalk.

    Don’t step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.

    Since they ran out of rat poison, she had to resort to less direct methods.

  9. sheila sorensen

    Jenny slid into the empty space beside me. She had a mussed up Einstein look this morning.

    ‘You almost missed the bus. What’s up, girl?’

    She rummaged in her backpack. ‘Damn, damn, damn!’

    I looked out the window. Jenny was fuming and I didn’t want her to snap at me.

    Last Tuesday she had a tantrum in the cafeteria. God knows what I said but she threw lunch leftovers all over me. My favorite corduroy pants were a rusty brown but now they have big dark stains from the lasagna. I can only wear them at home or when I babysit the boy next door. He’s a bit cracked, maybe not as bad as a sidewalk, but something is not right with him. I have to watch him like a hawk. Anything dangerous like bleach or rat poison is kept locked up so he can’t swallow it when you aren’t looking. It’s kind of wild.

    This is where Dan gets on. Maybe he can cheer her up…

    • sheila sorensen

      Thanks Jeff. I read your short 100 word Ice Scream pieces, frozen and melted igloos. Lots of fun. Sahfee is my wordpress name but I don’t have anything there.

  10. It was a crisp fall day, the kind of day I love to take a long walk with my new rescue dog, Einstein. The leaves in their true fall array lined the sidewalk and crunched loudly as I walked to my favorite coffee shop. I called to my dog, who was off leash and running too far ahead of me. “Here Einstein, come now!”

    You’d think with a name like Einstein, he’d be smarter, but alas, he does not live up to his namesake. I nearly tripped on a crack in the sidewalk, watching him to make sure her returned to me, as he been trained to.

    I was dressed too warm, what was I thinking wearing my ski parka? The rust-colored corduroy pants were comfortable, and looked great with my new brown boots. Now that I had Einstein firmly on leash, I could mercifully slow down and dull the pain in my feet. The boots, a little too small (but, who can resist a shoe sale), hurt my little toe, and my stomach still full from my late lunch of left-over lasagna was weighing on me.

    I settled into a chair, with a large cup of coffee, and waited. Einstein, my shaggy haired, overly friendly mutt is the hit of the coffee shop, and he has a mission. He has become my “guy magnet” and I unashamedly use him as my conversation starter.

    I’m trying to socialize him more, so he will be well behaved, help me find a nice dog loving date, and my nasty neighbors will stop threatening to feed him rat poison. I figure that’s a win-win for everyone, man, woman and dog alike.

  11. He hated to go up there. Yet, all he heard from those who wished they had the opportunity was “how special a place it must be.” It was special alright. The garage was built in 1923. An engraved stone above the door to the service bay said so. The attic above the garage, that special place, was a home to every unsold car part, dented car part, unnecessary car part, or broken car part that had come through the door since then. It was also a home to bats, squirrels, and judging from the large black dots strewn across the floor, a few rats. It was the rats that particularly unnerved him. Maybe he should go to town and get some rat poison.

    Tim was a quiet man. A collector of rare books who cared little for automobiles except for their ability to take him from place to place. And those places usually involved books. It was on such a trip, six embarrassing months ago now, that he encountered Fred at a museum auction in St. Augustine. The auction had been a disappointment, and both men, who were hardly extroverts, bonded over a conversation regarding poor program descriptions and exorbitant prices. It was during this conversation that Tim discovered his new friend had a first edition “La Pute bon Marché” by Hector Montrose. Tim further learned that Fred was also an avid car collector and that he was in the habit of trading books for needed parts. And yes, he would happily trade his “La Pute” for a rare 1927 Ford illuminated “Motor Meter” radiator cap (in excellent condition). So sure was Tim that the rat infested garage he had inherited from his grandmother would have this part, and so desperate was his desire for that book, that it was no work at all to convince Fred to bring the prize to his hotel room that night.

    Now it was six months later and Fred had called about the part. Of course there was little else to do but go look for it. So, there he was, in the attic of the old garage he hated. A crack in the clapboard siding gave entrance to a shaft of light that revealed great clouds of dust, possibly dried rat feces, that floated lazily in the air. Tim wished he was back in the kitchen, having a second helping of that leftover lasagna, but the very thought of food, especially eating, made him start to gag. While attempting to look away from the sparkling air pollution and regain some of his composure, Tim noticed a glint from a metallic object sticking out of an old motor oil box. It turned out to be a metal sign, partially wrapped in what appeared to have been rust-colored corduroy pants. After rubbing the sign on his own pants, which were now also rust colored, Tim attempted to read it.

    ”Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. – Albert Einstein.”

    “Oh my God,” Tim thought, dropping the pant-wrapped sign back in the box. “Not only is this place crappy, it’s filled with crap. Literally.” He smiled briefly as the word “Literally” passed through his mind, but the smile quickly gave way to a feeling of hopelessness as he contemplated the likelihood of finding the rare illuminated Motor Meter in a sea of rat turds and kitsch. Maybe he should go and get that poison after all.

    It was while he was pondering the time it would take to drive to town and back (it would be after dark, or close to dark, or at least late afternoon) that he noticed an old set of pigeon holes in the far corner of the attic. These were real pigeon holes. He had never seen them used but he recalled his grandfather talking about raising pigeons back in the 20s and 30s. When Tim was a small boy, a baby in fact, the pigeon holes were moved inside. Supposedly Grandmother had worried that a progressively widening crack in the sidewalk behind the garage made the whole thing “wobbly,” and that it was the kind of thing that might, one day, fall over on a baby. In reality, it was probably moved because it had more utility storing car parts than it did as a rotting bird house. Sometime, probably while Tim was in college, it was transferred to the attic. The last stop on the road to total uselessness.

    Useless. Maybe, or maybe not. Tim recalled that the old pigeon holes were where Grandfather kept smaller, more delicate items like gauges, light bulbs, and, maybe, fancy radiator caps. Buoyed by a feeling of optimism, Tim took a larger survey of his surroundings. Between where he was standing and the pigeon holes there was a three foot gap in the attic floor. Directly beneath it was the lubrication pit. A combined twenty foot drop. The rare book collector looked at the pigeon holes, and looked again at the floor of the pit. After considerable thought, he decided to go get rat poison. It would certainly be too dark when he got back to be messing around in the attic. And besides, he would need time to read the directions.

    • Once again I am left thinking, “How does he get this variety of ideas?” Radiator caps? Pigeon holes? “La Pute bon Marche”? If we could bottle your thought process, we could all get rich.

    • Amazing! I just loved it- the style, the detail- everything! Such vivid images! I got to know so much about the character in such a brief period of time.

    I spent the first five years of my life living on Lake Tippecanoe. I learned to swim long before I walked. I just crawled into the lake and off I went. After mastering walking, I would put on a pair of underpants and I was out the door, headed for the lake to begin the day’s activities…….Swimming. I clearly remember the day that I heard my mother utter the most devastating words that I had heard in all my life to that point, “You are getting too old to go around all day in underpants only. You need to wear a shirt and shoes also.” I replied with a scream of horror, knowing full well that this was a game changer. I have never been what you might call a Fashion Plate or Trend Setter. My choice of apparel has always come from a utilitarian perspective. If it covers my butt and is appropriate for the weather conditions…I didn’t, and still don’t, really care if it is in Vogue. The day I tried on my first pair of high heels, I was convinced that there would be a severe injury in my future. What kind of demented mind thought these shoes were usable? Let alone comfortable ! There was, however, a time that I was Trendy. You might even say that I was Fashion Forward because I got a Christmas gift that nobody else in my High School was wearing. It was spectacular to finally be on the leading edge of The Next Big Thing. It was Christmas 1970, and my mom had gotten me a Maxi Coat with a matching Tam.,,,,,,Just like America’s Best Loved Girl Next Door……MARY TYLER MOORE. In my Senior year of High School, I was finally Cool…..thanks to Mary. Rest in peace my fashion friend and thank you for being such a good example for so many of us Girls who just wanted to “Make it after all”

  13. ‘How’s it going?’ Dan says as he slumps into the seat behind Jenny.
    I turn and smile, then frown with a nod in Jenny’s direction.
    He mouths, ‘What happened?’
    I shrug my shoulders.
    He leans back, puzzled.
    I feel sorry for Dan, but I’m jealous too. Why couldn’t he have asked me out? We go back a long way, Jenny and me. But this is too much, being around Dan when he only has eyes for her. If Jenny and me broke up, I might never see him up close. He’s nice to me because of Jenny. And he would be loyal to her and brush me off if Jenny told him to. I couldn’t bear that.

    I think it’s time to hide my diary in the crack in the sidewalk, put on my rust-colored corduroys, eat my favorite leftover lasagna, leave a note for my Einstein parents, and get out the rat poison.

  14. 100 words exactly. Can we do our own challenge here?

    Tracy picks up the pad. “It’s Ben’s writing, isn’t it?”
    Rodney peers at it. “Maybe. But this is just numbers.”
    “He books this fancy room and then disappears? Let’s just see .” She rings the number.
    “LGBTQ Hotline. How can I help you?”
    Tracy hands the phone to Rodney.
    “We’re trying to find our son Ben . All we know is he called this number. Did I hear right? LGBTQ Hotline? Yes, I know what it stands for.”
    Ben enters, “Hey, Mom, Dad, you made it. Sue’s at the airport to pick up her parents for the big day tomorrow.”

  15. “Dear Diary Today is the BEST day ever. I’m going to be the most popular freshman at school. I talked to Alex, the senior QB of the football team. He’s so AWESOME!!!”

    “Sara. Get out here. Now,” my mother yelled from the kitchen. “I asked you to take lasagna to the Cooleys’ an hour ago.”

    When Mrs. Cooley got pneumonia the local book club members began providing meals for her family of four. Tuesdays my mom made lasagna and always cooked extra for the Cooleys.

    I stuffed my diary between the linens in my closet. “I’m coming,” I grumbled as I skulked to the kitchen. “Sorry, Mom,” I muttered. I grabbed the platter from the counter, found an umbrella, and made for the door.

    “I’ll come with you. Just to see if they need any help around the place,” said Sam, my ten year old brother, who was intrigued by the newly rising nubs on the chest of twelve year old Tina Cooley.

    “Oh yeah, sure,” I rolled my eyes. He punched my arm as we headed into the drizzling rain.

    We turned the corner on Marple Street. A cat scampered across our path and the platter toppled toward me as I back-pedaled to avoid the cat. I caught the plate between my hand and chest. The lasagna slithered off the plate and down my pink tee, down my formerly white but now quickly turning rust-colored corduroys, down to splatter onto the ground.

    “Way to go, Einstein,” Sam smirked. I whacked him with the platter. He took a step toward me then slipped on the splattered lasagna. He flailed and grabbed at my t-shirt, pulling it down enough to reveal my B-cup bra stuffed with tissue paper. From across the street half the high school football team pointed and burst out in laughter.

    I wanted to make like rain and disappear into the cracks of the sidewalk. Instead I fled to escape the whooping and howling, ignoring my brother who was sprawled on the sidewalk.

    When I got home I darted to my room imagining videos of my frontal exposure being shared on Snapchat and twittered about all day. I flung myself onto the bed and sobbed.

    I retrieved my diary, opened it and scratched out the previous entry. “Dear diary, Today is the WORST day of my life. Now I’m going to be the freshman class moron.” Tears smeared the ink as I wrote. “I should just take rat poison and kill myself.”

    I heard my mom asking my brother what happened. “Sara spilled the lasagna then hit me with the plate and made me fall. Then she ran off. She didn’t even help me get up. She sucks.”

    “Sara, get out here right now,” My mom shouted.

    “It was his own fault. Leave me alone,” I blubbered.

    Hearing the distress in my voice, my mom came to my room, “Oh, honey, what’s wrong?” She sat on my bed and put her hand on my back.

    I shrugged it off. “Just leave me alone,” I wailed.

    She refused to leave but didn’t say anything. I hid my face in my hands and continued to sob. After some time I calmed down. I was still crying but was able to tell my mom what happened.

    She listened quietly then took my hands and said, “Oh, honey, I know it feels like the end of world right now but we’ve all had moments like this. I peed on myself in my junior dance class when the teacher wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom. Classmates started calling me tinkle toes but I just made fun of myself and tried not to let it get to me. They eventually got bored and moved on to the next victim. It didn’t last more than a week.”

    “A week! That’s forever,” I yelped.

    “Look, you are intelligent, beautiful, witty and charming. Remember that. You’ll survive this. The more you act like it doesn’t bother you the less people will tease you.”

    “I’ll try but I don’t know,” I whimpered as we hugged.

    The next morning I awoke dreading going to school but by the end of the school day I heard nothing from the football players. I thought I was home free when I heard someone yell “Hey, itty bitty.”

    I turned to face my attacker, “Yeah, that’s me. So what?”

    I think I startled the guy because he backed up and tripped over the kid behind him who was bent over tying his shoe. His books fell out of his bag along with a dirty jock strap. I wanted to laugh along with everyone else but I knew how he felt so I went over and helped him get up and pick up his books (but not his jock strap).

    He mumbled, “Thanks,” as he looked up at me. I realized he was Evan one of the star soccer players. After apologizing for making fun of me we talked for a few minutes. He told me I was really cool and surprised me by asking for my number. I went home on cloud nine.

    “Dear diary, Today is the BEST day ever. Evan is super cute and he asked for my number. I can’t wait to see him tomorrow” I paused and thought hmm…maybe I don’t have to wait until tomorrow.”

    I shut my diary, picked up my phone and texted, “Hi Evan, its Sara. Do you like leftover lasagna?”

  16. Good one, Lisa! It looks like you’re having a great time with this challenge.

    • Thanks, Ann. I always have fun here. even if I don’t always join in I enjoy reading everyone’s posts. Looking forward to your next challenge! Thanks for creating this diversion from everyday life.😊

  17. I’ve a new story at a site called “A Word with You Press.” It’s a competition, with stories to be written about or within a country, randomly selected and assigned to the writer, Length 500 to 1000 words.

    My assigned country was Paraguay, my story is “A Paraguayan Harvest”:

    Needless to say, it’s not Little House on the Prairie material 🙂

    Submissions close March 4 so there is till time for entries.

  18. Einstein is my neighbours cat. He prowls the neighbourhood like he’s its soul proprietor.He’s an odd-looking creature: his long gray fuzz that passes as fur always looks as if he were brushed backwards.

    More eccentric is his owner, ( if Einstein would submit to ownership) Mr Bradly. He’s a cling on from the hippie generation. His summer wardrobe consists of a sky blue button down shirt that provides sharp contrast to his tanned face and hands. Coupled with light brown courderoy pants covered in rust from his mistreated garden impliments. An outfit much too warm for our long summer days.

    Mr Bradly is the type of person you imagine all kinds of horrors about. Like putting rat posion in the left over lasagna he offers his friends. George and Betty always dressed like they were going to church. The contrast between them and Mr Bradly was mountainous.
    They havent been around lately.

    Mr Bradly managed to trip on a crack in the sidewalk and now is confined to his creaky rattan swing all day. And on the peeling white porch beside him einstein lays twisted like a grey cinnamon bun.
    His garden more overgrown and missmanaged than ever.
    It’s me that proffers the brown crockery filled with our overflow of food.
    He appreciates it in his grumpy way.
    His friends haven’t been around for awhile.
    I wonder if he did put that rat poison in the lasagna?!

  19. She put the re-heated, left-over lasagna in front of me. I eyed it cautiously. I wouldn’t put it past her to have laced it with rat poison. She had a nasty passive aggressive streak that I had never fully appreciated until now.
    I may not be Einstein, but I knew that I would have to come up with something fast; so, I reached across the table for the Parmesan shaker and promptly knocked the questionable food onto my lap. It was very hot! The sauce ran all over my rust-colored corduroy pants, scalding, but, thankfully not poisoning me. I cleaned it up rapidly, making my excuses and escaping down a flight of stairs onto a busy sidewalk.
    I was alive! I felt victorious! In my sheer excitement, I tripped on a crack in the side-walk and flew right into the path of an on-coming bus.

  20. Rust-colored cord’roy pants an’ left-over lasagna … shoot, these ain’t what I’d call first-rate, top-notch choices. Then agin, I just done broke into some poor sap’s riverside cottage — what with the poundin’ rain, gale-force winds and nonstop lightnin’ that done come up out of lit’rally nowhere, I had no choice, really. Downpour showed up like a clown at a dadburn rodeo. And the radio says storm’s not agoin’ away anytime soon, neither! Why, I jist needs meself some dry clothes an’ some food in me belly, is all. Beggars can’t be choosers, pappy always done told me. I gotta say, though, I don’t think the color o’ rust suits me too well.

    I also needs a place to wait it out, until Mother Nature decides to move this ahere tempestuous nonsense on aways from here. This cabin is the closest place I could find.

    Anyhows, now dat I got m’self wrapped in some borrowed, dry dungarees an’ a flannel shirt, and I’s got them thar hunger pangs tended to, I reckon it be time to step out yonder and have a peek at th’ weather.

    Steppin’ outside, I no sooner closed the door behine me than I done tripped on an uneven crack in the decrepit cee-ment, catapulting me back into th’ sturdy closed door, which in turn hurled me forward once agin. Dog-gone if I didn’t lose balance and take a full five running steps atryin’ to regain my equillibr’um — afore completely failing on that count — and trippin’ over a dec’rative boulder, spilling myself impolitely over the poor sap’s purty split-rail fence, and right inta th’ durn flower garten. Way I fig’re it, that thar fence is intended ta keep a stranger outta the dag-gum flowers. And yet here I am, all splayed out in the asters and goldenrod and creeping what-ya-ma-callums. I look like a negligent scarecrow takin’ hisself a nap on th’ ground … rather than standin’ up, tall an’ proud, attemptin’ to skeer away the crows and owls.

    My name’s Owen, by the way. Why not come shake my hand? And while ya’s at it, give me a hand and help lift m’self up outta all this green’ry.

    If ya’d be so kind.

    Why, thank ya. Greatly apprec’ate it, I surely do. Ya see, I wuz just passin’ through this mornin’ on county road H, as I’m prone to doin’, and I done decided to try my luck fishin’ for some smallmouth — bass, that is — in this a-here river below us. To take along home to da missus for dinner, ya know. She cooks up a dandy bass — some tasty vittals, I do declare! So I unloaded th’ boat I wuz towin’ and rigged up m’ lines. And durned if I wasn’t aketchin’ a few, too, by golly. Then this squall pops itself up outta nowheres, like I says, and th’ lightnin’ forced me off the water just as fast as a badger in a dachshund race.

    So I leave my alum’num boat on shore, not wantin’ to be struck by lightnin’, smarter than that feller Benji Franklun. Why, he coulda got hisself struck dead wit’ dat key on th’ kite in dat thundershower all them years ago. Only he didn’t. Lucky him, is all I got to say. Cuz I’m smarter than that, I am. I’m no intellect, I reckon, no Einstein, as i’twere — yet I’m not as bubbleheaded as ol’ Mr. Franklun, nuther.

    So then I climb m’self up th’ riverbank and borrow meself a hefty rock from that bountiful garten to smash a winder, so as to let myself in. The generosity of some folks is downright heartwarmin’, i’tis. ‘Xcept the owner of this generous soul’s cabin just don’t know it yet.

    Rain is still comin’ down right hard. No use wastin’ any more time out here, acourse. Though this time, I must say, I’ll use th’ door. I’s already nearly soaked to th’ bone agin. And those dark skies, why they’re lit up only by a succession of lightnin’ bolts rippin’ through the county. Yes they are, there tis not a doubt about it.

    Inside, I decides it might not be a poor idea to have a whollop of whiskey, or ma’be some brandy, to clear my mind a trifle, in order to contrive a plan.

    The liquors are neatly placed upon an open shelf in th’ main livin’ area. Included among th’ whiskey and vodka and tequelia and whatnot is a can of rat poison, oddly enuff. Now, I wouldn’t person’ly turn down a swig of moonshine, if’n it was offered me — though there are plenty o’ folk who would — but rat poison is about where I gotta draw the line.

    I sits myself down to commence with conjurin’ up a plan for the immediate future, once the storm breaks. But I gits to thinkin’: I really oughtta write up a note to the sorry son-of-a-gun who owns dis place, explainin’ myself and apologizin’.

    So I grabs myself a pencil and paper and sets meself down to the table. And somethin’ occurs to me right then.

    I’m not th’ most intellektchwal person, I’m afraid. I admit dat freely. Cuz I dunno how to write. Guess I never bothered to learn.

    You there: Might ya, by chance, be willin’ to set for a spell wit’ me and help a new friend write up a note … if ya pleeze?

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