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Archive for the ‘#AtoZChallenge’ Category

Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

I noticed the car before I noticed the driver. It was a Silver Mercedes C250. It drove right past me as I got stuck behind a big rig doing 45 while everyone zipped by doing 75. When I stopped at the Rest Area I noticed the Benz parked there as I slowly pulled out and back to the freeway after my stretch break. The driver was on his cell phone and I couldn’t help noticing that he looked irate. I was glad I didn’t have the pressures that business people seemed to have.

At the next area, sixty-four miles north of the previous one, there it was again. I hadn’t noticed it when it passed me this time but it was in the rest area, no driver.

As I walked toward the rest rooms, I saw the blond man I had seen behind the driver’s seat of the Mercedes. He wore a black three piece pinstripe suit and looked pretty uncomfortable in it. He did smile and nod at me as he mumbled “good day.” The was something about him. His obvious discomfort; his smile; a hesitance which made me feel that he was in no rush to get back to his car or on the road or even back to his life. That’s when I named him. He was simply Mister.

When I got back to my car, the Mercedes Benz was gone and as I drove on, I couldn’t help thinking up all sorts of scenarios about Mister’s life.

A couple of days later, it was on the news. Someone was missing and foul play was suspected. A business man who had last been seen leaving the parking lot of his office building in a silver Mercedes Benz C250. The man’s description matched Mister. The suspicious thing? His car had been found at a rest area, locked, and without its driver. A search had not turned up the driver. He had simply vanished at the rest stop.

I wondered about Mister. What had happened? Was he really missing or had he simply chosen to disappear?

I thought about Mister and kept a close ear out for news. I wanted to know what had happened to Mister and wondered if I would ever find out.

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#AtoZ — Luda

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Luda

I had been to this food distribution site a number of times. It was run by an organization that collected donations from the local events venues and from the cafeterias of local corporations and  from grocery stores. It was all good food, it just hadn’t been sold at the end of the day. It was collected by volunteers then repackaged and distributed to those who needed food. I had been to this site, an apartment complex, and had seen one woman who spoke with a very strong accent. I could not place it because I’m just not good with accents, but I guessed it might be Polish. The woman seemed kind of bossy and very aggressive. I had stayed away from her in the past.

On this particular day, it was pouring rain and the group waiting for the food distribution truck was gathered under a fairly small overhead shelter instead of out in the courtyard where they usually gathered. There were a few homeless people that had joined the group since the last time I had been there to get food. One of the men was chatting away with the woman I had thought was Polish. I overheard them talking, and because I am one of those people that joins  in conversations, I joined in theirs. The man told of having been homeless for over two years because he had been illegally evicted. The woman asked where he slept and he said wherever he could lay his head. He mentioned being hungry and she asked him if he was hungry at that moment. He answered that he was. I wished I had food in the car so I could give it to him. I usually have something in there but I had cleaned out the car so I had nothing to offer him. The Polish woman disappeared and came back a few minutes later. She lives in that building. She came out with a cup of hot soup and some bread for the man. He was so grateful and I was very thankful that she had done that. I even thanked her for doing that.

After a few minutes of talking to her, I learned that she was Russian and her name was Luda. The soup she had brought out was her very own homemade borscht and the bread that she had baked herself. She lived in that building with her six children! She grew up in a family of twelve children so she said she knew what it is like to be cold and hungry. I learned a lot about her in that short time and I was glad that I had joined the conversation. If I go back again, I will be more friendly to Luda and I will be sure to always have something I can offer to those that might be hungry. I will also remember to always give people the benefit of the doubt; things are not always what they seem, nor are people.

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

Diane

Eve

Fran

Grandma

Harold

Iris

Julian

Kiki

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Kiki

“It’s Kiki, not Kiko!”  Why can’t they get that through their heads. I always call others by their name, not by someone else’s name. How would they like it? That guy that just called me Kiko, his name is William and he is called Bill. How would he like it if I called him Bob instead of Bill? That’s what he’s doing to me. Kiko is the nickname for Frank or Francisco. Kiki, my name, is the nickname for Enrique which is Spanish for Henry. Frank and Henry are two entirely different names. So are Kiko and Kiki. I’ve told people that before but it doesn’t stick in their heads. Geesh!

I know that I just correct them politely and smile and go on and the next time I see them, they call me Kiko again. I never even told them or inferred that they could call me anything but my real name. Why are they assuming they can use the friendly and familiar Kiko? Even if it were my name, they shouldn’t assume they could call me that. Only my friends and my familia get to call me that! I guess it’s my fault because I don’t forcefully correct anyone. I just smile and gloss over it. That’s how my parents raised me but I wish they had raised me differently. I wish I could stand up to them and put my finger in their chest and tap it with every word: “MY NAME IS ENRIQUE, NOT KIKO OR FRANK OR ANYTHING ELSE. REMEMBER THAT!”

Red faced and fuming, Kiki walked off, knowing that nothing would ever change. This was who he was. He corrected people politely and they didn’t pay attention. He wondered what it would be like to be Frank. Maybe Kiko would have better luck!

 

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

Diane

Eve

Fran

Grandma

Harold

Iris

Julian

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Julian Street ran from one end of town to the other, east to west. Much of it was commercial but the part where I lived was a lot more residential. Well, I didn’t really live on Julian. I lived around the corner. It was pretty much  a quiet two lane one way street on the part where I lived but there was a gas station on the corner and another a few blocks east of me and a Safeway grocery store a block west of me. But other than that, it was all houses. Later on there were some apartments but when I lived there there weren’t any. It was quiet enough that my mother let us walk to the grocery store around the corner. We actually had to walk along Julian but it was safe back then. I’m not sure what the speed limit was then, I would guess maybe 25. Then you have to remember that there were a lot less cars back in the early 1960’s.

I mentioned that gas station a few blocks east of us? Well, it was the first time we had seen a gas station with a store inside. My dad could buy beer and wine in there and we could buy soda and ice cream and candy and sometimes, when Safeway was out of something my mom needed, we could go to the gas station to find it at the store inside. When one of my brothers or sisters was sick, with a fever and nausea, my mom would send one of us to the gas station store to buy a little bottle of Coke syrup which she used to get rid of the barfs. They used to have this deal there, too, where you could take in your own empty bottle and they would fill it with soda from the fountain and it was a lot cheaper that way. We had a big family and we really didn’t drink soda because it was too expensive but once in awhile, as a treat, we would be allowed to buy the fountain soda and have them put it in our gallon sized bottle. What came in a gallon size bottle with a narrow pour spout and a handle that we could take to fill up with soda? My dad’s wine jugs! We usually took them in with the label removed and cleaned off but once we took in an empty wine jug with the label still on it. When Ben, the old man that lived across the street came over to have a cigarette with my dad, my dad decided to play a joke on him. He got the root beer that was in the wine jug that still had the wine label on it and he poured us each a glass of soda but didn’t say anything about it being soda. When we came to drink it, Ben’s eyes just about popped out of their sockets! He thought we were all drinking wine, including my youngest sister who was only about two at that time.

I remember those days with fond memories. Julian Street is a lot different now. I know for a long while it was a pretty bad area. The whole neighborhood had gone downhill. That was about twenty years after we moved away from that area. Now I hear that it has gotten to be a pretty nice area with homes selling for a million dollars! It’s strange to think that I once lived in a million dollar home, only it wasn’t worth that when I lived there. Far from it!

One of these day I’ll go back to town and go visit Julian Street and see what it’s like. One of these days.

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

Diane

Eve

Fran

Grandma

Harold

Iris

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Iris

“Eerees.”

“Earrees?”

“No. Eerees. Your language, Iris. My language, Eerees.” Shyly, he repeated her name and watched as she returned his smile with a slight nod. “May I walk you to the bus stop, Eerees?”

He really wanted to spend a lot more time with her than the couple of minutes it would take to walk to the end of the block and across the street but he knew if he suggested a longer meeting she would not accept. Who knew? Maybe it would even insult her. They didn’t know each other. Not really. He had been watching her get off of the bus three times a week and walk in front of his book shop on her way to Mrs. Symons’ house where she took cooked and cleaned. Mrs. Symons was more lonely than she was old so it was not an every day thing  and Iris didn’t work long hours. He had watched her for weeks before he had the nerve to walk out to the sidewalk one day and say hello to her as she walked by. She had averted her eyes after a very slight smile. It took another couple of weeks before he had tried another hello. The next time, she had returned his greeting and before long they were exchanging a couple of sentences, mostly about the weather.

There was some chemistry there. They both felt it. As they walked toward the bus stop together, he decided that he was going to close up shop early one day and ride the bus home with her if she would let him. That way they could talk a bit. Who knew where it would go from there? He just knew that he wanted to spend a lot more time with Eerees.

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

Diane

Eve

Fran

Grandma

Harold

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Harold

He smiles at himself in the mirror as he combs down the five gray hairs left at the top of his head. He checks his smile in the mirror, proud that it is all his and not dentures like most of his friends. He winks at his reflection and splashes on a touch of British Sterling. He’s ready. He has been ready since he met her at his little sister’s  birthday party last year. It too a whole year but she finally agreed to go out with him. They were going to his little sister’s birthday party this year and they were going together. He didn’t drive anymore and she said she had never driven so he was going to go pick her up on a taxi. She had offered to meet him there because he lived in Whittier and she lived in Glendale and the party was in Santa Monica. She said it would be one huge taxi expense but he had said no. A gentleman doesn’t meet a lady, he picks her up.

Next to the front door, Harold checked his well worn leather wallet to make sure he had enough money. He had gone to the bank to get cash but he wanted to make sure he had the money with him and not in his underwear drawer where he usually kept any extra cash. Yup. It was there. He turned out the light, went out the door and locked it behind him. As he walked out to the street to wait for the taxi, Harold couldn’t help whistling a tune. “Happy Days Are Here Again” indeed!

 

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

Diane

Eve

Fran

Grandma

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Granma

The smile on Grandma’s face made Barbara cry. It had been so long since she had seen anything but a vacant look on her grandmother’s face. She had tried to get her room changed for many months. Finally, Mr. Adams’ room had been vacated and the Director had asked Barbara if it would be adequate. The window overlooked the playground in the lot behind the home and it was perfect. Grandma had been moved while Barbara pushed her wheelchair all over the home, marking time for her things to be moved. Barbara talked to her grandmother non stop as she pushed the chair.

Finally, arriving at her new room, Barbara placed her grandmother’s chair by the window where she could watch the children playing. At the moment, there were several children there, including two little girls who appeared to be sisters, playing with a woman old enough to be their grandmother. Barbara wondered if Grandma, somewhere in her mind, was remembering all the park days they had shared. There was a slight change in her eyes. Maybe Barbara was wrong. Maybe she was looking for hope where there was none. But she seemed to see a bit of a light starting to shine, way deep inside those clouded blue eyes.

As she left, Barbara looked back at her grandmother and although there were tears, she also had a smile. She knew changing rooms had been the right thing to do for Grandma.

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

Diane

Eve

Fran

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Fran

“I should have stayed home. I should have called in. But he said last time that one more absence and I would be out of a job and I have to have a job. This one isn’t great but it pays most of the bills and keeps a roof over my head. I can’t lose this job. That’s the only reason I’m here.”

She put on her smock and her name tag and grabbed her pencil and pad and headed out to the floor. It was mostly the regulars who knew her story but there were others out there, too. There was that older lady with the grandkids. She was a semi regular and Fran didn’t know her name but she recognized her and the teens. She was always nice to her so Fran always tried to be extra nice and attentive to her.

Five minutes out on the floor and she had to go answer the vibrating phone in her pocket. Today was going to be one of those days when she had to answer every call, just in case. She delivered the milk she was pouring and headed to the back. It turned out this wasn’t what she was expecting but it was an important call and she was glad she had answered it. Her daughter didn’t feel well at school so the nurse wanted to send her home but Fran explained that she was at work and couldn’t leave and her daughter would have to stay at school until she found someone that could go pick her up and keep her until there would be someone at home.

Back out on the floor she could tell the lady with the granddaughter was looking for her so she headed over, pausing at a couple of tables to leave their checks.

“Her milk is supposed to be chocolate milk, not white milk.”

“You’re absolutely right and I knew that when I poured it. I’m so sorry. I’ll fix it right away.” At least this was an easy fix, thought Fran. She grabbed the milk and headed to the back to pour  in some chocolate syrup. Then her phone buzzed again and she had to go get it. It was her neighbor letting her know she couldn’t pick up her daughter. Fran made another quick call to another neighbor and left a message before heading back out to the floor.

And it kept up all afternoon. She wasn’t out on the floor more than five minutes without having to go to the back and take or make a call. She tried to do it as inconspicuously as possible so the manager wouldn’t find out. This manager was a real prick and he would totally fire her ass if he got even one complaint about her. So Fran did her best, asking her co-workers to cover for her if at all possible.

Then she saw the manager looking her way and realized the older who she had messed up totally was talking to the manager up at the register. Oh no! This was it. She knew it. She braced to be fired and then the phone vibrated again. She had to go get the call. This one was sure to be the one she was expecting.

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

Diane

Eve

 

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Eve

They had been to this diner a million times and rarely had bad service. Today, it was a treat for Eve’s granddaughter who had gotten a perfect report card so they were celebrating. Eve loved being able to take her grandchildren on these special little trips, just her and them. Today was supposed to be special and once they were finished she was planning a trip to the stationery store where her granddaughter, Julie, loved to shop but she hadn’t told Julie yet. It was a surprise.

They were pointed to a table which was strange because that didn’t usually happen. Someone always came and greeted them and seated them. Not today. So they sat at a table that hadn’t been wiped clean yet for longer than they should have. Eve had to get up and go get someone to wipe it. Then they had no menus for a long time and when they took their drink orders, Julie’s chocolate milk came back as a regular white milk but the waitress had just plopped the drinks down and left. And Eve couldn’t stir her coffee because they had no utensils. A solid ten minutes after being seated, the waitress finally came and took their order. And fixed Julie’s chocolate milk but still no utensils. Eve got up and swiped the utensils from the counter so that she could stir her coffee and drink it as it was already getting cold.

She waited for the food and decided to check her blood sugar and take her insulin based on the number of carbs she had ordered, otherwise she might forget when the food arrived. Big mistake!  Just as she plunged the medication in the syringe into her body, the waitress came to say they were all out of the dish she had ordered so now she had to pick something entirely different that would be the same number of carbs so she didn’t have to worry about having her blood sugar go too low because of the insulin she had taken. And she had ordered the French toast which she rarely got. That one had lots of carbs and there wasn’t anything else on the menu that she wanted with an equal or similar number of carbs. She finally settled on something but had to ask the waitress to bring her fruit, too, so she would have enough carbs.

The waitress was so inattentive today. She kept disappearing for ten minutes at a time and it was frustrating to Eve and Julie. Their food arrived and it was cold because it had sat up on the counter forever waiting to be brought to their table. The coffee refill Eve had asked for had never been poured. She finally got the waitress to bring her more coffee and to bring her the fruit she had asked for. Eve was starting to feel light headed. That’s what happened when her blood sugar got too low and that was happening now because the insulin was a quick acting one which took effect within ten minutes.

All told, it was a horrible diner visit. She actually expected the waitress to adjust the bill. They always did that at this diner when there was the tiniest of screw ups. But today, the waitress didn’t do that. Eve had Julie stay seated while she went to find the manager. This wasn’t right. And while she didn’t want to get anyone into trouble, this just wasn’t right.

 

 

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

Diane

 

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Join me during the month of April as I blog through the alphabet. My theme will be What’s In A Name. I will attempt to write up a short fictional character sketch beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day. Remember that a place can also be a character.

Diane

This was one of the most difficult things she would ever have to do. She wasn’t protecting her husband, not really. It wasn’t that and now that it had gone on for months and months, she had to tell people. She wasn’t sure how she would do it but it had to be done. It had been so hard to manage on her own, with absolutely no help from anyone. It had to stop.

From the start of her marriage, from the very first argument, she had decided how she would handle these things. She had watched her siblings as they unloaded on their parents whenever they had problems with their spouses, even the tiniest of arguments. Then when things got better between them, their parents would still harbor that resentment against the spouses. She didn’t want that and so she had decided long ago that she would not discuss her marital problems, however minor or major, with anyone in her family. That’s what had set the scene for the past months but it was time to come clean.

When her husband of the past decade left her unexpectedly one early Sunday afternoon, it had been a shock. There had been no warnings. He just packed a duffel bag and was out the door. She thought he would be back. Soon. And so she didn’t tell anyone. She didn’t want anyone, not her family or his or any of their friends, to know that he had left her for someone else. Diane even kept the truth from her kids, saying only that Daddy was taking a break to think about whether he wanted to live there anymore. She didn’t tell them there was someone else, a much younger woman.

The months went by and she kept making excuses for why he was missing all the holiday get togethers and for why they weren’t going on their normal vacations for the holiday or even for Spring break. As summer approached, some people might have suspected that there was a problem but no one had guessed the truth. Several of her friends asked if he might be critically ill. Did he have some disease? Cancer? Was that the cause of the dark circles under her eyes and the constant fatigue as she kept up with as many of the normal activities her children were involved in. You know, Scouts, soccer, gymnastics, art, all of those extra curriculars. It was all taking a toll on her and it was showing, much more than she had realized.

Finally, she decided that if she was asked out right, she would not deny it. And she figured it was time to make that phone call to her mom. She wasn’t sure how she would say it or if she would have the guts to tell her mother. Would she be blamed? Would everyone think it was her fault that her husband had gone off and looked for some kind of excitement elsewhere? Had it been her fault? Had she been too busy? Had she missed the signs?

Oh well, too late now. She had heard from the children who saw their father on weekends, that the girlfriend had moved in and that they were planning a Hawaiian vacation. So he wasn’t coming back. Not now. Not eight months into this hell. She needed help. She needed her friends and her family to understand that she needed their support.

It had to be done. Diane reached for the phone and dialed her mother’s phone number.

Alexa

Babs

Curtis

 

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