Old Souls, Misfits, or Time Travelers?

The brick schoolhouse I attended from kindergarten through senior year of high school is slated for demolition. (No, I didn’t cause any lasting damage to the structure. Honest: the school’s demise wasn’t my fault.)

I’ve been revisiting old yearbooks full of photos of people who grew up, married, and sent their kids to the same small-town school they’d attended. Familiar family names and resemblances to uncles, aunts, fathers, and siblings are all over the pages of old black and white photos. Familiar–and yet, growing up there, I never felt I was home. I never belonged, never paid much attention to the world I found myself in. In my head I was somewhere else, long ago and far away, or light years away in a future I was supposed to attend but I had lost my ticket. It wasn’t a conscious thing. It was a general detachment, being “tuned out” rather than tuned in. I was lost, out of time, out of place, separated from whatever people or beings I must have belonged with.

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57574627_10218841069807715_7940887638263726080_n The high school that burned before I was born (or old enough to remember)

I was ostracized or ignored by my classmates. I didn’t want to dress like them or do what they were doing. I couldn’t follow their conversations for long before drifting off into my own world in my head. With my own sisters–five of us all barely more than a year apart in age–I felt alien and out of touch. Much of my childhood was spent in a chair in a corner, alone with my books. In fairy tales, I felt at home. Fairy tales were full of misfits, magic, and happily ever after.

I learned to like the music and TV shows my four sisters loved, but antique stores, vintage photo albums, and the “Golden Oldies” radio station felt much more like “my” time and place. Stores and shopping malls held little that I wanted. This was the era of polyester, psychedelic prints and colors, palazzo pants, maxi and mini skirts, halter tops, hippie beads, bell bottoms, platform shoes, blue eye shadow, shag carpet, the velvet Elvis print, and other phenomena that defied explanation.

57491790_10218815856857407_4725945093532418048_nPhotos were taken with cheap Kodak Instamatics, faded and out of focus.

For hours I’d stare at the 1950s yearbooks of my parents and think that was the way people were supposed to look. The 1960s and 1970s hair, fashion, furniture, and architecture felt alien to me. Old photos of ancestors I had never even met, or met only as frail, stooped, wrinkled elders, felt more like my contemporaries than my actual peers. I never asked why; I simply felt a kinship with people who had come and gone before my time.

1979880_10206991706045275_40964164551347180_n[1]  1456619_10206991690084876_1793938061284579604_n[1] These looked like the people I was meant to be with. Never mind they were teenagers in WWI and  I was a child during the Vietnam war. On the left, back row, my mom’s mother; front row, bottom right, my mom’s father.

The present wasn’t a bad place to be. I knew the past wasn’t “better”–they didn’t have telephones, radios, TVs, paved roads, cars, refrigerators, running water, indoor plumbing, or electricity. The people were not “better.” But their faces in old photo albums seemed to be calling me home. I don’t believe in ghosts or reincarnation, but I like to imagine ancestral memories can survive like radio waves. Or maybe it’s epigenetics. Maybe our best memories are somehow encoded in our DNA, and an occasional grandchild arrives in this life remembering a world that is gone.

What if some kind of interference from a paranormal radio signal was messing with me? Misfits cannot help but wonder why they don’t fit in. The most common explanation doesn’t explain much:”You are an old soul.” I was born with a sense of nostalgia for a time, a place, a people I had never seen, yet it seemed more familiar than the world I was in. At a party, I would gravitate to the old ones rather than people my own age. Other people’s memories, and even more so, fictional stories of other lives, seemed to displace my own, and I had many gaping black holes in my mind. I was disengaged from my surroundings, living in another world in my mind.

“Immediacy” and “agency” are key words here. I lacked agency; I passively watched the world around me, feeling out of place, instead of actively engaging in it; I missed out on immediate people and events. “You were there,” my sisters would say. “How can you not remember this?” And whatever “this” was, or “who,” it was elusive. Groping in the dark corners of my mind for memories of some specific event I had actually attended in real time and real space, I came up empty. To this day there are events I am told I was physically present for, but my mind was so far away from it all, I cannot remember my lived life.

Now that I am more than half a century old, now that I have seen the dawn of a new millennium and the advent of such wonders as “the picture phone,” I like to imagine that I wasn’t just born weird–I was born somewhere else, and transferred here in some kind of fluke of metaphysics or a magic spell gone wrong. Or a portal. I’ve had a fascination with doorways and tunnels, windows and winged things all my life. While Mrs. Hoffman was telling our first-grade class how to do simple math, I was riding a dragon or a space ship somewhere far away. When I went to her desk saying I didn’t understand how to do the worksheet, she’d spank me, in front of the entire class, and say “they” paid attention, so they knew what to do, and so would I, if I ever quit daydreaming.

She died of cancer in later years. That, too, was not my fault.

Today the school building is about to take a hit from a wrecking ball, and suddenly this place I felt so detached from feels like an important locale, a childhood home, a fixture that needs to be preserved a little while longer. One more generation, at least. But the body count is too low. The children didn’t stay close to home and send a new generation to that little school. They grew up and moved to bigger and better places. Me, I never moved more than 90 miles away, though I’ve lived in other galaxies and ancient kingdoms of Middle Earth in my mind. I’m the one feeling like an amputation is about to sever me from the schoolhouse where my entire childhood was lived, or un-lived, but it was where my body was stationed, and enough of my mind tuned in, I developed a sense of nostalgia for this old place.

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The shortest (Julie) and the tallest (Carl) were “frenemies” before the term existed, relentlessly trading barbs with each other like a comic duo. They graduated together in 1975 and both were dead by the end of the year. Julie was murdered. Carl crashed his car into a bridge.

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These four classmates, and far too many others, were dead before age 50:

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Our bus drivers:

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Plainfield Community School, you had a good run. I’m sad to see the old building go empty. If I walk through the hallways one last time, I will see Julie and Carl, my dad his buddy Wayne at age 18, and all the little kids who grew up and left their rural homes for greener pastures. The first school already burned to the ground. The 1960s version also has become last-century and has outlived its use. What will take its place? um, how about a portal, or a launch pad for a spaceship….

1402Peter Saga cover art for Perihelion Science Fiction ezine 

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Farm girls in the sun, in the snow

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55686771_10218603458427579_4248720458251239424_o

55914240_10218609195851011_7705500078705737728_nThose farm boys were ripped! 42439074_10217269281313985_5555779783536672768_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See also Symptoms Of An Old Soul: 7 Signs You Were Meant To Live In A Different Era
BY LAUREN MARTIN  |  JUNE 6, 2014

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Missing Pieces by Jon Ripslinger – based on a true story of Joyce Klimt’s murder

Missing Pieces by [Ripslinger, Jon] Seventeen-year-old Kyle Donovan’s life is shattered. His mother is missing and his father is accused of killing her, dismembering her, and dumping her pieces into the Mississippi River off the shores of eastern Iowa. Kyle’s father, King Donovan, claims his wife deserted the family and left town with her lover. Kyle expected his dad’s trial for the crime to solve the mystery, but when the trial ends in a hung jury, Kyle is desperate to discover the truth for himself, however terrible. 

Missing Pieces by Jon Ripslinger 

“Based on a true story” is a sure way to get my attention. Written by a retired high school English teacher who likes Hemingway’s style is another. Jon Ripslinger delivers with this story of an 18-year-old high school football getting flak from classmates for having a dad on trial for murder.

Ripslinger’s years of experience with teenagers is manifest in his spot-on Point of View. While Kyle occasionally sounds wise for his years, he consistently sounds like an authentic teenage guy with bigger concerns than most people face even as adults. His mother is missing. His dad is Suspect #1 in her disappearance. Bullies harass Kyle and agitate him to fist-blows (and suspensions, as if Kyle didn’t have trouble enough already). He has a troubled little sister to look out for, a football team wanting him to hurry back, a girlfriend’s judgmental parents shunning him, but also a new friend and unexpected ally.

In my Kindle I highlighted numerous passages like this one:

“You get p^ssed often enough, gradually you get bitter. Bitter is like when something bad’s been happening for a long while. The bad crawls under your skin and festers. It never goes away. I was bitter because my mom was missing—dead or alive, I didn’t know. My dad had been accused of her murder but his trial had proven nothing. He seemed glad to have her gone and didn’t seem interested in finding her. If I didn’t do something, the truth about my mom’s disappearance might never be known. Kelly and I might never put our lives back together.
“You’d be bitter, too.”

Having studied far too many cold cases, I can attest that page after page rings true in this story. The stupid questions from reporters–“How do you feel” about your mother missing and presumed dead–sadly is all too accurate.

For young adult, this is riveting reading. For adults of any age, it’s illuminating. For those who’ve lost a loved one and the case has gone cold, this is a must-read. I bought it, read it, and finished it one evening. The book is that good. The prose is first-rate.

I’m off to find more by this author. You can find him at goodreads:

After Jon Ripslinger retired as a public high school English teacher, he began a career as an author. He has published many young adult novels and truly enjoys writing books for teens. He has also published numerous short stories in Woman’s World magazine.

Jon and his wife, Colette, live in Iowa. They are the proud parents of six children, and they have thirteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

When not working writing, Jon enjoys the outdoors, especially fishing. He waits patiently for the next “big one” to strike.

**Authors turning Cold Cases into fiction**

Jon Ripslinger spoke to high school students about the James/Joyce Klindt murder case that inspired one of his nine novels. See Klindt murder case is still alive by Barb Ickes

Apr 9, 2016

    “Throughout his teaching career, Ripslinger pined to write fiction. But he worked a couple of part-time jobs (See: six kids), and the serious writing had to wait until after his retirement in 1994. He collected ideas over the years, archiving them in his memory. One such idea was to borrow from one of the Quad-Cities’ most notorious crimes: The murder and dismemberment of Joyce Klindt by her husband, Davenport chiropractor James Klindt.” … The book, “Missing Pieces,” is required reading in Jan Luton’s composition classes at Assumption High School. … most of her students had familiarized themselves with Quad-City Times coverage of the Klindt case. They had questions about the relationship between fact and fiction.“What the kids are struck by is his language,” Luton said of Ripslinger’s writing. “It’s real to them. The first sentence of the book is, ‘I was pissed,’ (referring to the hung jury in Klindt’s first trial).”… The story’s main character is Kyle Donovan. But he is the imagination’s twin of Bart Klindt, Jim and Joyce’s only child. Though born of the book, Kyle is not merely borrowed from headlines of the 1983 murder. Bart Klindt went to school with one of Ripslinger’s sons, and the author remembers the then-teen visiting his house. He used Kyle to tell readers what it must have been like to be Bart.“A writer sort of becomes the character,” he told the students. “The character actually comes alive in your head. I let the character take me to the end of the story.” 

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    Magic in the Mundane – Part 4 of “In a Pig’s Ear” – a Steemit Freewrite

    Her. Jack wanted her to meet someone, and it was a her. Sarah pocketed her phone and watched as two figures skate-walked toward her through the snow and ice that would never stop a northerner or a Derby goer.

    What the–

    The little blonde from Register Six!

    source

    “Mom, meet Suzi,”

    he said. Her hand hovered in the air but Sarah could only see her eyes. Those arresting, unforgettable eyes, pale blue with a dark ring around the iris. Layne knew the terminology for it. “What makes a pretty blue-eyed blonde even prettier,” he said, “is the limbal ring. It’s completely unconscious, the way we all judge one face more attractive than another.”



    source

    Suzi wasn’t shy.

    When Sarah failed to extend her hand, Suzi gave her a quick hug and big smile. It quickly faded as she said, “I’m so sorry about Layne. He did so many little things to cheer me up after my mom died. I just can’t even begin to put it all into words.”

    Jack draped an arm around Suzi. “You know the story Mom. The woman who fell off her bicycle…?”

    Layne the brain surgeon had a million stories. Sarah just shook her head.

    “Mom was such a fitness fanatic. One day someone found her on the bike trail, face down, and Mom had no idea what she hit. Just that an impact had sent her through the air and–” Suzi caught herself. “Oh God. I’m sorry.”

    Layne and Rocko had gone airborne when that texter rear-ended the old Dodge. “Go on,” Sarah said. “I’m a farm girl. And an E.R. nurse. You don’t have to worry about triggering a meltdown.”

    Suzi’s small sigh clouded the air like smoke. She continued: “Mom dusted herself and rode home, showed us her scraped elbows and knees, and said she was fine but for a bruised ego. And we believed her. Until she lapsed into a coma right before dinner. Layne was on call that night. A blood clot had formed in Mom’s brain. She died before they could start surgery. Subdural hematoma.”

    Suzi’s sentences fell like hammer blows. Her voice was calm and neutral but the pain that edged her words was all too familiar.

    “Dad recognized her years later when he came in with Rocko. Said he’d know those eyes anywhere,” Jack added.

    “He had a photographic memory,” Sarah said. “See a face even once, and he’d remember the name and the place and time of day and an hour-long story to go with it. Funny. He couldn’t seem to remember that he’d told us the same story a hundred times already.”

    “Or maybe he didn’t trust us to remember his stories, so he kept repeating them.” Jack always made excuses for his dad.

    It was possible Layne had mentioned the story of the blonde at Register Six while Sarah was doing dishes or chopping wood or feeding dogs, and she’d tuned it out.

    “He was so bright and so full of fun,” Suzi said. “No matter how bitterly cold or stinking hot and humid it was, no matter how long the line at the register, he would just smile and strike up conversations with strangers, and leave a kind word to anyone. If a clerk was grouchy, he’d go out of his way to be nice. He could get old Edna Schneider laughing and smiling. Now that takes a special kind of magic.”

    Finding magic in the mundane.

    That was it. That was how a wacky, zany, impulsive, reckless big spender like Layne Davis had conquered the heart of Sarah Savage.

    She turned her gaze to Jack. Their only son, just as her brother Jack had been the only son, and there was so much of him in the nephew he never lived to see. There was a lot of Layne in that boy too, but a mother can see the good in her son and turn a blind eye to any shortcomings. For some reason, a husband’s shortcomings were far too easy to see, while the good was harder to remember.

    “It was by her eyes I found her here,” Jack said. “Dad had described them well, plus he’d fronted her the money for that butt-ugly brown Fairlane.” He waved a hand toward a derby car. “She was all over Kevin Klunder’s 1979 Monte Carlo. Hell, I wanted to buy it and restore it, but he wants to smash it.”

    “Bad memories of an old girlfriend who cheated on him in the back seat of that car,” Suzi said.

    Ahh. And that was the magic of the derby. Mostly it was just simple fun, but for too many of the drivers, it was therapy. Better than a thousand dollars an hour for a shrink.

    Suzi was a derby driver.

    Layne had “fronted” her the money to be here. Typical Layne. He’d never ask to be repaid, even after fronting the tuition for students who were about to drop out of two-year programs for lack of funds.

    “It don’t have to cost twenty grand for a derby car,” Suzi said. “Jack is old school. Says you might see us spewing smoke and dragging broken parts around the arena, but we’re in the arena, dammit, and we’re gonna kick ass.”

    Dented cars, dented hearts. Sarah extended her hand to Suzi.

    “Welcome to our world.”

     

    Day 482: 5 Minute Freewrite: Thursday – Prompt: magical realism

    a style of painting and literature in which fantastic or imaginary and often unsettling images or events are depicted in a sharply detailed, realistic manner. — Dictionary.com

    Magical Realism

    We recognize the world, although now–not only because we have emerged from a dream–we look on it with new eyes. We are offered a new style that is thoroughly of this world, that celebrates the mundane. This new world of objects is still alien to the current idea of Realism. It employs various techniques that endow all things with a deeper meaning and reveal mysteries that always threaten the secure tranquility of simple and ingenuous things. This [art offers a] calm admiration of the magic of being, of the discovery that things already have their own faces, [this] means that the ground in which the most diverse ideas in the world can take root has been reconquered–albeit in new ways. For the new art it is a question of representing before our eyes, in an intuitive way, the fact, the interior figure, of the exterior world. (Franz Roh, Magic Realism: Post-Expressionism (1925).Magical Realism. Ed. L. P. Zamora and W. B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. p. 15-32.)http://www.public.asu.edu/~aarios/resourcebank/definitions/

    Part 4 was inspired by this news item:
      and this:

    “The limbal ring is well-named. Limbis means border or edge, and it’s related to limbic, meaning emotion or drives. The limbal ring, seen from inches away, is an intimacy zone. Don’t flirt until you see the whites of their eyes.”
    How Big Is Your Limbal Ring? | Psychology Today

    And of course THIS – the daily freewrite prompt at Steemit!

    Check Out The @FreeWriteHouse Prompt Of The Day By @MarianneWest

     

    Part 1 – In a Pig’s Ear – Day 478: 5 Minute Freewrite: Sunday – Prompt: pig’s ear

    Part 2 – Pineapple Finials- Day 480: 5 Minute Freewrite: Tuesday – Prompt: pineapple

    Part 3 – “Live. Love. Smash.” – Day 481: 5 Minute Freewrite: Wednesday – Prompt: sound of sirens

    Part 4 – Magic in the Mundane – Part 4 of “In a Pig’s Ear” – Day 482: 5 Minute Freewrite: Thursday – Prompt: magical realism

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    “Live. Love. Smash.” – a Steemit Freewrite, Part 3 of In a Pig’s Ear

    What kind of people live for a Demolition Derby?

    Rude barbarians and helmeted gladiators, Huns and Vikings were only yesterday on the scale of human history, so the urge to slash and burn boiled strong in the gene pool. The controlled violence of football and hockey served as some kind of safety valve, but the Demolition Derby filled a void like no other. While preachers and teachers urged a life of nonviolence and civilized conduct, rednecks and brutes might need a million years to internalize it. You could take the man out of the fight, but you couldn’t take the fight out of man. Or woman.

    source

    “Live. Love. Laugh. Smash.”


    source: Jackson Forderer, Mankato Free Press

    She hadn’t planned to start playing crash-cars

    with her son again, but then, she hadn’t planned to have the sound of sirens transmogrify her life. One minute her husband was off on a mission to get Rocko more pig’s ears, code for I’ma gonna go flirt with the blonde at Register Six, and the next minute he was dead. Part of her died with him. Until Jack pulled a fast one on her. Only say the word and I shall be healed. Their son, like Jesus saying “Lazarus, come forth,” had said “Derby,” Winter Slam Demolition Derby, to be precise, and she was transfigured.

    They weren’t here for the money.



    Gunning their engines, unleashing a deafening noise that drowned out the roar of the crowd, they lived for a blood sport of gasoline, oil, and metal. It drowned out the sound of sirens, the horrid strains of “Amazing Grace” and the fumes of funeral flowers.


       Sarah Savage rose from the dead. She raised old cars from the dead–at least long enough to give them one last ride to hell–and it was good.

    Until Jack texted her Mom there’s someone I’ve been wanting you to meet.

    Her. He wanted her to meet someone, and it was a her. This was interesting. Sarah pocketed her phone and watched as two figures skate-walked toward her through the snow and ice that would never stop a northerner or a Derby goer.

    What the–

    source

    The little blonde from Register Six!

    To be continued…

    Part Three: “Live. Love. Smash.” – a Steemit Freewrite, Part 3 of In a Pig’s Ear

    Check Out The @FreeWriteHouse Prompt Of The Day By @MarianneWest

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    “Pineapple Finials” – a Steemit Freewrite and sequel to “In a Pig’s Ear”

    Pineapple Finials- Day 480: 5 Minute Freewrite: Tuesday – Prompt: pineapple


    *my daughter’s old walnut four-poster  | carolkean  in freewrite

    Her husband was dead

    and she couldn’t sleep in their room, not with his old faded Levis piled under those leather boots leaning like the Tower of Pisa against the giant ceramic pot of his ludicrous avocado tree, not with the scent of Irish Spring soap still emanating from the master bath, not with the little Caspar dog bed Rocko had loved lying empty by the floor-to-ceiling window.

    So she slept in the bed her parents and grandparents had used, the one with the bedposts that terrified her all through childhood. They looked like spears wielded by cannibals who ate missionaries. Not until she met Layne did she learn that this solid walnut bed was hand-carved into pineapples at the “finials.” She only knew the wood had darkened to ebony over the years, and the bed was smaller than a full size but larger than a twin, which made it twice the price for a custom mattress.

    Pineapples and finials. The words Layne knew! “Dad just has to show off,” the kids would say. “Nobody says pylon when they could say orange traffic cone.” Well, call her a nobody. She said pylon, but Millennials were woefully uneducated. They knew this much: Never challenge Layne Davis at Scrabble. Every crazy word he came up with turned out to be a legitimate science term that appeared in the dictionary.

    Never again would she lose a Scrabble game to him. Or an argument. One minute he was here, annoying and presumptuous as always. An hour later, half a mile from their front door, he was dead in a ditch.

    Accidents happen closest to home, people say, as if “home” is dangerous. No. Statistically, drivers are near home more often than any destination, so it only stands to reason that…

    Her brain froze up. She tried again.

    The car starts out from and returns to the same spot no matter where the driver is heading, so, duh. It was just numbers, not fate, not some Twilight Zone vibe marking HOME as the scene of most fatalities. The riskiest room in the house was not the kitchen but the bathroom. As an E.R. nurse she knew a quarter of a million people a year visited emergency rooms because of injuries suffered while bathing or showering, and fourteen percent occurred while using the toilet.

    The toilet! People actually suffered ambulance-worthy injuries while using the toilet!

    So for Layne to drive off in her dad’s old Dodge and get rear-ended and killed was really not such a terrible surprise. Stranger things happened all the time. He was a brain surgeon; he’d drilled holes into the skulls of many a crash victim to relieve pressure and swelling. His friend Bill might have had at him with that drill had Layne not died before the texting idiot who’d killed him could summon 9-1-1.

    “Mom.”

    The voice startled her even more than the figure at the door. Jack. So much like his father but also like his namesake, the uncle he never got to meet.

    Normally she’d bounce up and greet him with a hug, but normally, he wasn’t watching her like she was a grenade that might go off. “You were just here two weeks ago,” she said. “You don’t have to check on me in person, you know.”

    He shrugged. “I just fed the dogs.” Then he looked at her as if awaiting a reply, or a dawning realization.

    Had she forgotten to feed the dogs? No. No. She was not that far gone. But she hadn’t heard him pull in. Hadn’t registered the chorus of joyous yipping that always heralded Jack’s arrival.

    “You know, that bed isn’t as ugly as I remember,” Jack said. “The granny quilt with the flowers can go any decade now, but the bed. It’s really something. Solid walnut!”

    Big yellow poppies wound their way up the old bedspread, looking a little faded nowadays, not as cheery and bright as they did when Sarah’s brother bought it for their mom one Christmas. As if they didn’t have enough quilts made from old work shirts and scraps from hand-sewn dresses, Mom scolded him. Jack Savage was dead of a burst appendix before Mom could get to the return lane with a bedspread that suddenly became priceless to her.

    “Mom.” Her son’s voice brought her back to the land of the living. “Didn’t Dad try to get you to sell this bed?”

    “He tried. Yes.” She finger-tipped some dust off a finial. “Columbus brought the first pineapple to Spain from Guadalupe. New England sea captains marked a safe return voyage with ripe pineapples impaled in fence posts outside their homes.” A sigh escaped her. “I don’t suppose pineapple finials would have increased the odds of your father coming home safe with Rocko from his little trip to the store.”

    The girls would be rolling their eyes at her or making snide remarks at her history lesson, but Jack was so patient. She had to give him that. He was here to insist that she leave the house and get out of her rut, and he knew she knew that, but at least he wasn’t so obvious and so in-your-face about it. Abby and Mandy just never let up on her.

    “I didn’t come here just to check on you, Mom.” He shifted his feet, looking tall in his faded Levis and buff in his white T-shirt that fit loose at the waist, tight in the arms and chest. “I came to see if you wanna watch me at the Demolition Derby.”

    “You? In a derby?” Her breath quickened.

    “Me.” He cracked a smile. His eyes lit up the way Layne’s did at the Chicago car show every February.

    Jack knew her soft spot. He knew she had been Sarah Savage, queen of the Demolition Derby, before she became a good Queen Mum to a prince and two spoiled princesses.

    Her mind raced, considering what he might be driving in a derby.

    “You didn’t get that old Chevy Impala running again!” she said in the same scoffing tone her dad had always used on her when she did something unbelievable.

    “I did indeed.”

    A vision of the old Dodge rammed from behind, an image of Rocko airborne, then releasing his last sigh: Was she up for this?

    God, it would feel good to smash something.

    That was her go-to after she lost her brother.

    Sarah unclenched her fists and pulled herself to her feet. This was what the Savage family had done for three generations in this old house: both feet on the floor. One foot ahead of the other. Her parents had buried their only son; her mom had lived another twenty-five years after burying her husband. Sarah would go on too because that’s what people do.

    One step at a time.



    source

    Day 480: 5 Minute Freewrite: Tuesday – Prompt: pineapple

    We have an antique bed with pineapple filials, but you all know me. I had to see what was up with pineapple designs showing up in antiques and the doilies my mom used to crochet. The hard, prickly pineapple used to symbolize a home’s warmth and hospitality. Pineapple motifs were carved into wood bedposts and entry doors, window frames, shutters and stair risers, and stenciled onto walls, floors, and ceilings. source

    My mother has a pineapple doily pattern,

    and I am in awe of her spider-like talent for taking a stick and a string, counting the loops on and off the hook, and creating things like this while watching TV:

    source

    Check Out The @FreeWriteHouse Prompt Of The Day By @MarianneWest

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    “In a Pig’s Ear” – Steemit Freewrite

    “I’m heading out for some pig’s ears,” he said.

    “In a pig’s ear, you are,” she muttered.

    Sure, he was going to the store for pig’s ears. He drove to the Farm and Fleet with the flimsiest of excuses, the flimsiest being that Rocko loved going there. “Leashed dogs are welcome to join their owners in both the store and the auto service area,” the signs proclaimed.

    He was going there to flirt with that little blonde at Register Six.

    A brain surgeon and his mutt, Bismark’s dynamic duo. The money he pumped into the local economy was what made him so popular, but he was too full of himself to see that.

    pig_ears_large[1]

    Never trust a city boy who drives a big pickup–all country people knew that–but even as a college student, Layne Davis owned a 1981 Harley and an Omaha Orange 1969 Plymouth Road Runner and a sailboat he raced back where he’d come from, so he wasn’t a poser and he was no ordinary city boy. He loved the throaty roar and the adrenalin rush of a powerful engine as much as she did, the big difference being he could afford not just the wheels but the gas, while she scrimped and saved for every hour at the track or on the road in cars she restored herself.

    She had been an 18-year-old LPN the first time he saw her, Sara Savage, kicking ass at a demolition derby. She had duly shunned him for being a city boy with a big Ford-150 on oversized wheels, but the more emphatically she told that city boy to get lost, the more he pursued her.

     source

    For ten years.

    “I could have any girl I want,” he’d kept telling her, and it was true. All those college girls flocking around him were majoring in Pre-Wed.

    “Go pick one of ’em, then, and leave me alone,” she’d say.

    But he was boyishly cute, pesky as a stray dog, book-smart and common-sense stupid. He vowed he would never marry unless it was to Sara Savage, the “little piston,” the only gal who’d ever captured his heart.

    “Unequally yoked.” Dad had waxed Biblical and ordered her to steer clear of Layne, and she did, until Dad died of a stroke, Mom rented out the farmhouse and moved to town, and Sarah finally said yes to Layne the brain surgeon.

    She gave up stock-car racing and demolition derby and set a good example for the kids. With every new gray hair she grew wiser, while he just got younger at heart and stupider. His energy and enthusiasm, his sense of adventure, were undiminished. He couldn’t see the effect of gravity on his face or his male pattern baldness, a big shiny spot on the back of his head that made him easy to identify in a crowd. In the mirror and in his mind he was forever twenty. Call it Arrested Development, Peter Pan syndrome, or just plain immaturity; just don’t call it cute. His charm had worn thinner than his bank account. Layne would have had her sell the farm to pay his debts but her dad apparently saw that one coming and added an iron-clad clause in his will that the land was never to be sold.

    When the kids grew up and left home, she wanted to move back to North Dakota. With or without him. Layne did her the favor of taking a big new job in Bismark, becoming the head honcho of St. Alexius, “serving residents of central and western North Dakota, northern South Dakota and eastern Montana since 1885.” Of course those gambling debts she found out about later had nothing to do with him taking the new job, nor his getting fired from that gambler’s anonymous committee Allen Hospital had put him in charge of.

    In a pig’s ear, he took that job in Bismark just for her.

    Like fighter pilots, doctors were a breed apart, guys who lived hard and dangerous and on the edge. By now he should have had a mid-life crisis and dumped her for a trophy bride, but Layne apparently liked fast engines better than fast women. He squandered a hundred-grand on a Mazda Miata and called it her Christmas present, but she called him an idiot and showed him the bank statements.

    Brain surgeon. A million dollars a year, but taxes ate up half of it, and he managed to go into debt with all his toys and vacations and buying the kids whatever they wanted. Spoiled ’em all, and made her out to be the kill-joy who’d deny them unlimited credit-card access.

    Sarah had the rescue dogs and the farmhouse and her father’s land, his father’s and grandfather’s before him. Some foolish young woman could have Layne–and all his debt too. Their debt. At least her dad had seen to it she wouldn’t lose everything to the man who stole her heart.

    She watched him peel off in a cloud of dust

    with Rocko riding shot-gun, head hanging out the window, nose quivering at all the awesome smells he was heading to. Instead of taking the Silverado, he drove off in her dad’s old black 1959 Dodge pickup. She shook her fist at him as he peeled out–he had plenty of his own toys to drive–but old engines did need some good road miles to keep them running well, so there was that.
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    Somewhere down the road, with the kids safely raised to adulthood and sent from the nest, that awful sound of sirens

    within earshot of home had finally stopped putting the fear of God in her soul. She never broke the habit of offering up a prayer for whoever was in need of those sirens, but after so many years she’d forgotten that one of these days, it could be a loved one of her own.

    Rocko. Oh Rocko.

    The Dodge was fixable, but Rocko was not. A cattle-dog mix, the best little mutt she’d ever taken in, the one dog she’d loved most, and God knows she loved all the strays and rescues like children.

    Layne didn’t suffer. Not more than a few seconds, they said.

    A bag of pig’s ears had flown out the window along with Rocko. Some idiot news reporter photographed that “telling detail,” with lame-ass quotes from the blonde at Register Six. “Layne was a regular,” brimming with life; who could have imagined that it would all end a few minutes after she rang up the bag of pig’s ears for that man and his cute little dog. Some 30-year-old guy had been texting when he rear-ended the Dodge. There went a brilliant brain surgeon and a good dog. “Gone! In the wink of an eye!” she said, feeding the media with the nauseating cliches they sought.

    The texter got ten years for unintentional manslaughter but it didn’t matter. “Serving time” behind bars would never bring back that sixty-year-old boy and his dog. She still caught a glimpse of at times, a smiling sixty-year-old boy, and Rocko would flash around a corner in his wake, and she’d blink, only to find nothing but tears in her eyes.

    “You wouldn’t miss him so bad if you’d get out more and try meeting people,” their daughters kept telling her.

    In a pig’s ear, she wouldn’t.



    source

    Day 478: 5 Minute Freewrite: Sunday – Prompt: pig’s ear

    Check Out The @FreeWriteHouse Prompt Of The Day By @MarianneWest

    https://loyaltydogtreats.com/products/canadian-pig-ears

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    Meet Me In the Limelight – a Steemit freewrite

    Meet Me In the Limelight by Carol Kean

    Day 461: 5 Minute Freewrite: Thursday – Prompt: in the limelight


    source

    Meet me in the Limelight,

    he said, and there was a lot of background noise, so I when I asked where the hell that was and what the hell he meant by it, it sounded like he said the castle, and I knew Harley was stoned out of his gourd. Musicians.

    Sure he was cute. That long, unruly hair and little-boy mischief in his eyes and the slender build all those underfed rock stars had. And young jazz musicians like Harley, all sinewy arms and long, strong fingers from plucking that bass.

    Q: What do you call a musician without a girlfriend?

    A: Homeless.


    It was an old joke but a good one.

    Sure, meet him in the limelight, give him another chance. He’d stopped squatting a long time ago and had a nice carriage house with five other musicians now, but that wasn’t the point.

    The cordless phone was still in my hand. I walked it back to the kitchen and caught myself gently putting it back like I was putting a child to bed. And that’s all Harley McSweeney was. A boy who’d never grow up.

    The little black dress would be just right for my date. The staple of every smart woman’s wardrobe. How to accessorize tonight? A cold, wet wind from Lake Michigan and a drizzle of rain out my brownstone window decided me. Heels, yes, but not sandals. Silver, gold, faux pearls? Jared was an architect, into the Old World look. I settled on Grandma’s rhinestone necklace and earrings and her wool cape with the mink collar. The PETA activists would have me stoned, but the minks were already dead, and so was Grandma, and the cape still looked regal.

    Jared was already there, waiting at the cafe,

    and I got there a minute before seven. So punctual! So much better than Harley’s chronic lateness. His wardrobe was spotless and new but never as awesome as Harley’s.

    Harley. He could wear any out-of -find from a consignment shop and it would look amazing on him. Tall, with high cheekbones, and that underfed musician slenderness, he could have made his fortune as a fashion model. In high school people would ask him where he got that incredible paisley shirt or those white leather shoes and those mind-blowing tight purple pants. Grandpa’s Closet, he’d say. Where’s that? Ha. When Harley’s distinguished grandpa died, Harley was the only grandson who fit all those nice clothes. At school, others tried to copy his look but nobody else could pull it off like Harley did.

    Everyone said we were the couple most likely to marry from St. Francis High, Harley with his elegant musician look, me with the vintage film star look, thanks to my grandma. Harley got a degree in music; I got a degree in marketing along with art, and I had a real job at an art gallery. Which is where I met Jared.

    Jared had money to buy his own dinner. And mine. He insisted on paying everything, even the tip.

    On our way out we passed a skinny guy playing a sax under the canopy, out of the drizzle of Chicago in almost-October. I stopped and tugged Jared’s sleeve even though he hated jazz. And buskers. Anyone blocking his path on the sidewalks hoping for coins and dollar bills in their instrument cases had best stay out of Jared’s way.

    I tossed a dollar into the man’s sax case. He’d just finished something I didn’t recognize, probably an original composition, because Harley had dragged me to so many jazz gigs, I knew the “Fake Book” meant The Real Book and I knew all the jazz standards in it, to the point I could recognize them even during some of the wilder improvs. Harley once had a very well known trumpeter play Happy Birthday for me when I turned sixteen and I didn’t even recognize it as Happy Birthday. That’s how improvisational these guys get, and the more seasoned they are, the more liberties they take.

    “Thank you,” the sax player said.

    Jared stared ostentatiously at his ostentatious watch.

    “You’re really talented,” I said, squaring my shoulders as Jared took his turn tugging my sleeve. Er, cape. “I’ll bet you know of a young jazz bassist named Harley. He’s jammed all over Chicago with some of the last of the old gang who played with Miles Davis and all them.”

    The man tipped his head back and laughed, his teeth straight and white, his dark skin glistening with that mist. “Oh, do I know Harley. He’s going places. Fact, he scored a gig at the new Limelight.”


    Miles at 25, photo by his mother

    Jared yanked, and I gave him the snake-eye. “Hold on. Did you just say the Limelight?”

    “Yes Ma’am. Night club that started in Florida, with spin-offs in London and Atlanta and New York. Now us!”

    “It’s in the old Chicago Historical Society building,” Jared said. “Looks like a castle. On the corner of Dearborn and Ontario.”

    “Ooh, I’d love to see!”

    Jared went stiff. He knew about Harley. Hell, everyone knew about Harley. Most of the CDs I played were songs Harley burned at home after recording himself on some multi-track system he bought from the estate sale of a dead musician.

    Meet me in the limelight, Harley had said with his usual calm, but I’d heard the sweet, hopeful note of cajoling in his voice and those undertones of vulnerable little boy, and I wasn’t falling for that again.

    So I had told myself a thousand times before.

    “I have tickets to the game,” Jared reminded me. The pissy look on his face and the way tried to dress but fell short and the way he showed off his watch and his ability to pick up the tab–suddenly I couldn’t fathom another minute with him.

    Not when Harley was a cab ride away in a castle in the limelight.

    “Jared, go on ahead without me. You can scalp my ticket on the sidewalk.” On impulse, I fished a five from my vintage clutch purse and tucked it into the sax player’s shirt pocket. “Thank you for the tip,” I said.

    A cab slowed down for a red light. The rain-wet streets glistened and a chorus of tires made that awesome sound you only hear in cities. The sax player took up a familiar melody, “September In The Rain.”

    “Hannah!” Jared shouted as I hailed the cab, got in and shut the door. He slapped the window. “Hannah. Seriously?”

    “Seriously, thanks for dinner, Jared!”

    “Where to?” the cab driver said with an easy smile and all the time in the world.

    “The Limelight.”


    source

    Check Out The @FreeWriteHouse Prompt Of The Day By @MarianneWest

    Hi carolkean,

    This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day 🙂
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