The Mailbox

This photo got my wheels turning. I could never look at it without stopping to think and wonder. So many possible stories hovered at the edge of my brain. Finally I wrote one down. It’s not a happy story. Even in the sunshine, this photo brought out melancholy feelings. Here is one story: ??????????

“I’ll write,” he said, but he didn’t make eye contact. Warren hated anything to do with pen and paper.

“But you could phone when you get to Duck Lake,” I said.

“Joe’s cabin doesn’t have a phone.”

“Well, then how did he get in touch with you to arrange the fishing trip?”

“He called from a neighbour’s place.” Warren set down his coffee cup, spilling some of it, and got up from the table.

“You could call me from there.”

“The neighbour’s house is about five miles from Joe’s place. I’ll write you a note.”

“Do you have to go for a whole month?” I hated the whine in my voice.

“Look! I haven’t had a holiday for months.” His voice was tight. “And anyway, we probably need a break from each other. Just don’t bug me. I’ll be back when I feel like coming back.”

“But—”

“And yes, I’ll do the shopping in Bozeman before I come home.” He strode across the room. “Get me the list. I gotta go pack.”

***

Ten minutes later, Warren rushed out the door and threw his duffle bag into the cab of the truck. I bent down to slip on a pair of runners on the veranda, then turned to wave goodbye but he was already peeling down the long driveway, tires spitting gravel into the cloud of dust he left behind. He raised a hand and waved through the cab window without turning his head.

I wiped the dust and a few stray tears from my eyes. I stood dumbstruck as I listened to the fading grumble of his truck tires on our country road.

I turned to go back into the house. Warren’s fishing rod mocked me from where he had leaned it in the corner of the room.  And I knew that my mailbox would remain empty.

***

Lost Socks and Leprechauns

You’re never too old to have one more adventure 
 
Brought to life by Steve Ferchaud’s vibrant drawings, this story for all ages by Dan O’Brien lets us know that it is never too late to have one more adventure. 
 
 
An Excerpt:
 
Robert Pendleton opened one eye as the light of a passing car flashed over the window, shattering the darkness into prisms. He rolled onto his back on the beat-up couch and yawned as he reached his hands up and rubbed his eyes unceremoniously.
He looked out over the darkness at the digital clock. The red digits spelled out a quarter ‘til midnight––nearly fourteen hours of sleep. He smiled and grabbed one of the cushions of the couch, burying his head in it. Just enough sleep, he reminded himself. Robert felt that anything less than twelve hours of sleep was very nearly too little.
He grasped blindly for the TV remote.
Groaning as he lifted his head, he looked at the empty table––his eyes drawn by another flash of a passing car. He couldn’t see clearly, but he knew that the remote had been there before he had fallen asleep nearly half a day ago.
“Could have sworn….” he mumbled as he pushed himself up and brushed his hand around the top of the table, finding nothing. “Where did….”
Another groan escaped his lips as he lifted his body to a sitting position and threw aside the cluster of pillows that he had gathered around himself. He reached out for the lamp, but instead knocked it to the floor with a resounding thud.
Robert muttered as he stood up from the couch, and then sank to his knees to search around in the darkness for the fallen lamp. Reaching around on the shadowed floor, shards of the broken lamp scattered like pieces of light.
He turned his head, peering beneath the large space underneath the couch and saw the reflection of the buttons on the remote. The off-gray piece of machinery was underneath the couch––only darkness lingered beyond it. He reached out as he spoke again.
“How did it get all the way down there?”
Robert flexed his hand and strained as he twisted his back to reach farther; yet, the remote remained just out of reach. He pulled his arm away with a huff and craned his neck to the side, staring underneath into the darkness below the couch.
His eyes widened as he saw the impossible: there was something beyond the remote. He shook his head and closed his eyes, whispering to himself that he didn’t see what he thought he had.
“I saw a little man,” he whispered to himself as he opened his eyes once more and nearly gasped as he did so.
The figure was closer now and he could make out the outline clearly. A tiny man rested just beyond the remote.
“What in the name of…?”
“Not here in the name of nobody, laddie. I be a friend though,” crooned the miniscule figure as he interrupted Robert and stepped forward, placing a hand on the darkened and slick surface of the remote.
A tam-o’-shanter crested his bright red hair, the shaggy mane blending perfectly into his equally crimson, neatly trimmed, beard.
A billow of whitish smoke drifted from the long-stemmed pipe that he held clenched between his lips.
Robert fell back and knocked aside the adjacent table. Rubbing his eyes, he spoke a single word: “Leprechaun.”



About the Author:
 
Dan O’Brien, founder and editor-in-chief of The Northern California Perspective, has written over 20 books––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. In addition, he has spent over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com. Contact him today to order copies of the book or have them stocked at your local bookstore. He can he reached by email at amalgamconsulting@gmail.com.
Would you like to win a remarked copy of Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and Loose Change Collection Agency signed by the author and illustrator?

Simply follow the author here and here and a few winners will be randomly selected on March 20th!

Boys’ School, Berlin 1923

Karl, one of the characters in my novel Julia’s Violinist, appears as an adult character in the novel, but part of laying the groundwork for his personality involves letting the reader get to know him as a child.

In this excerpt, eleven-year-old Karl, has been sent to a foster home on a farm on the outskirts of Berlin. In the nearby boys’ school, he is determined to get revenge on the teacher who seems to have it in for him.

A Snippet from Julia’s Violinist:

Herr Solberg nagged him. “Karl! What’s this? Did one of those farm hens run across your page? Who is supposed to be able to read this? You’ll copy this work again after class.” Karl smirked and lapped up the attention he received.

The next day at recess, the boys, as always, paraded two abreast around the inner court of the schoolyard. Karl had what he needed—an elastic band and one of Frau Bauerman’s hairpins. In the middle of the yard, Herr Solberg stood, hands behind his back, ever watchful, his gleaming pate bobbing as he teetered back and forth from toe to heel. Karl kept his hands down and to one side as he loaded the hairpin and drew back on the elastic band between his thumb and pointer finger. He released the stretched elastic and immediately dropped it on the ground. Karl used Peter’s body as a screen to hide the laughter he couldn’t keep inside.

Herr Solberg’s hand flew to his temple, slapping himself. His bald head swivelled. Eagle eyes searched the line of boys. In seconds he had traced the path of the flying object and pointed to several of the boys around Karl.

“You four. Step out.” Karl, Peter, and two other boys stepped out of line. “Empty your pockets.” The boys all had various small items in their pockets, but Karl had nothing. “One of you did this.” Herr Solberg pointed at the red welt on his temple. “You will tell me who did it right now, or you will all be punished.”

Peter had a pained grimace on his face. Karl could see him struggling with his conscience. Although Peter mostly looked at the ground, his eyes constantly flicked over to look at Karl as if he was waiting for him to confess. Moments later Peter broke down and pointed at Karl.

Herr Solberg took Karl by the scruff of the neck and hauled him into the school, lifting him so that the tips of his toes were all that touched the ground as he walked. Karl tingled with excitement. At the end of the break, the class had to witness his punishment. Karl stood at the front of the classroom looking at the faces of his classmates. Some covered their mouths to hide their expressions of horror at the pain they knew was coming, while others beamed openly in gleeful anticipation.

Herr Solberg pointed. “Bend over the table.” He took his cane and smacked the table beside Karl. The knocking of knees on desks appeared to give Herr Solberg pleasure. His lips stretched back into a sadistic grin. He wiped a bit of drool from his mouth and proceeded to give Karl’s backside three hard whacks.

Karl winced but didn’t cry. When it was over, he sauntered back to his desk with a smirk.

“I’m really sorry, Karl,” Peter said on the way home, “but he was going to cane us all if someone didn’t speak up and I was the only one who knew you did it.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Karl threw back his shoulders and pulled himself up as tall as possible. He walked with a swagger.

“But it must have hurt like hell, getting your bottom hit like that.”

“It wasn’t too bad.” Karl stopped abruptly and reached down inside the back of his knickerbockers. He pulled out a huge handful of straw. “I expected to get caught.” The boys shrieked with laughter as they ran home.

Front Cover  jpg (1)(2)

Julia’s Violinist is available in paperback and all e-book formats at Smashwords.com

and at all amazon sites, particularly

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

amazon.de

Find out more about Anneli Purchase, her copy-editing skills, and her books at her website:http://www.anneli-purchase.com