Tag Archives: Challenge

2 people who gave me great advice

The first was my mother, Jocelyn (died in 1997).

When I was entering the teen years, she responded to me belly-aching about having to babysit for a couple who gave me the creeps. I had babysat for them once before (and I don’t believe I was paid – my mother was doing them a favour) and I was to sleep overnight on their couch. The four boys all went to bed readlily enough. I only had to remind them to keep their noise down else they wakened the baby, once.

When all was quiet, and the Untouchables episode had finished (now that dates me, yes?), I wrapped myself in the blanket and fell asleep, the couch being comfortable and I being rather naïve. I awoke twice that night to find the father of the house standing watching me sleep; the first time from the hallway door, the second from the end of the sofa.

But when I told mum I didn’t want to go back there, she said…
“When you have a job to do, get on with it”.  I did the babysitting job, but asked the father to drive me home, which he did in spite of being tipsy.

But I have applied that to every job I’ve done.

The second to give me advice – and a better piece of advice I’ve never had – was my father Willy (died c. 1987). We ran a family Dairy (corner store, similar to Abu’s Kwik-E-Mart in The Simpsons). I loved working there after high school. And i enjoyed working with him and with the other employees – including Marge (no, not Simpson).

One day I was so tired, I just wanted to sit out the back and read. I know I may have grumbled a bit.

Dad said…
“If you have a job to do, find the fun in it, and do it well”.

Which led to, when stacking tinned goods on the shelves, Marge writing the price on each can, and rolling them one by one across the shop floor to me to stack. (Yes, writing prices with a felt pen dates me, too.) Customers had to get used to checking the floor for rolling cans every afternoon. We had some hilarious times in the shop.

And both pieces of advice have stuck with me all through my working life as an accountant’s clerk, teacher,  parent, and all the other twenty or so jobs I’ve done.

Others have given me advice, but both my parents’ advice have stuck with me.


This prompted by the Weekly Challenge at…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Three Letter Words.”

Oh to hey [1] with it–this post is going to be all [2] about three-letter words. Of course fellow challenge-takers will have had [3] problems , or fun, trying to avoid the [4] very words we first learned to read, write right?

Remember those stories? Something like…

See [5] Joe [6]

See Sue [7]

See Joe run [8]

See Sue run

See the dog [9]

See the dog run

See Sue run

See Joe and [10] the dog run

See Mum [11]

See Mum hug [12] Joe

See Mum hug Sue

See the dog try [13] and hug [14] Mum

Hmmm, this could head in an awkward direction; stopping that now [15].

It’s [16] now [17] fairly obvious how [18] young we were when the 3-letter word became part of our [19] literacy,

so no wonder how hard is was [20] to try [21] and get [22] the job [23] done.

3-letter words are [24] the links between the “bigger” words we learned, simply vecause they gave the teacher the opportunity to teach us the sounds of the written word. We all recall the blackboard lists with words following the same sound pattern – if we had [25] not  [26], we would not have been able to enjoy Dr Seuss, I bet [27]

bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, sat, vat    |     bun, fun, gun, nun, pun, run, sun

bad, dad, lad, mad, pad, sad                  |      etc [50], etc, etc,

Get it?

C H A L L E N G E – Try this “family-famed” fail – Velvet Cola Cake

We had moved up into the hills over our rural town (111 m (c.364 ft.) altitude),
to a station at c.330m (c. 1,1246 ft.) altitude.

The station is ringed (approximately); the arrow points to where our cottage was.
The station is ringed (approximately; the arrow points to where our cottage was.

It was a heck of a steep gravelled road uphill, but the cottage was great. Beside the road ran a stream, from which I could collect watercress. In some of the station’s paddocks we could collect mushrooms – buckets and buckets of them. Around the cottage in the fields were huge limestone boulders, and a patch of native bush which the station owner was replanting and tidying. And the gravel drive from which we turned off to our cottage carried on to the shearing shed and holding yards. A great early life for the first toddler.


The cookery book
The cookery book

With my favourite cooking book, and my fist toddler, I decided to try the recipe named in the title. I knew I had to let the cola go ‘flat’ before starting, but eventually the batter was in the cake pan and in the oven. Toddler and I pottered around washing up the bits and bobs we’d used, with him climbing down from the step stool periodically to look into the oven. When I heard a tentative “O-o-o-oh,” I figured it was time to see what he was seeing.

Hoh boy! Cake batter erupting up and out over the cake pan rim, dripping down through the oven racks and piling up in peaks on the oven floor.
The oven was switched off, and I did my best to console unhappy toddler who’d realised there’s be no nice cake.
But you know what? Once the oven was cold, and I lifted out the pans and tasted what was left, it tasted delish.

So off came the oven door, and toddler and I sat at the oven reaching in and snatching off the driblets and piles of batter, and it was like sharing a bowl of sweet snack food! He learned really early the difference between stalactites and stalagmites (the former have to hold ‘tight’ or they’ll fall, the latter ‘might’ grow up to the roof).

I figured out what had happened…– being c. 900 ft.+ higher, things boil at a lower temperature than down in the town. Even jam could boil madly and never reach setting temperature!

So… my challenge is, for You to have a go at this recipe. Tell me what I need to know: just how ‘flat’ does the ‘flat’ cola have to be?

THE Recipe
THE Recipe





Ten Minutes Writing – DP Prompt Ready, Set, Done!


Ten minutes writing, huh? Okay, first decide which app to write with -Pages or Notes. Settle on Notes as it’s easier and quicker to get going.
Then find and download a timer from the iStore. Looking for something simple, not an interval gym training timer, not a lap timer, just a plain old timer. Aha! Found one! Two buttons – Start and Pause. That’ll do. Install and don’t worry that it’s not received enough reviews for the average rating to be shown.
Start it.
Start Notes.
Oh shut. Decide what to write about – got that in the wrong order, right?
And oh dear, I don’t even know if the timer is visual only or will “beep” at me when time’s up. So I’ll just keep writing about writing non stop for ten minutes. And if I find I go over the ten minutes – what then? Post this as a Post to the Challenge of the 9th?
Then Uninstall the timer I chose and look for another which Does beep at me?
Writing to a set time burst is similar to the challenges set by WriMos to other WriMos, so having a decent timer would be handy for next month, yeh?
Sorry, cannot stop myself from stopping to take a peek at that timer. Back in a tick-tock.
One minute thirty six seconds to go. I’ll add on four seconds for the time it took to go check. Still don’t know if it’s going to beep at me.
Maybe it’ll just turn from counting down to counting up? Then how will I know where I was up to on the ten minute mark? This is getting fiddly and frustrating. But still fun. So I shall continue.
Back in a tick-tock…

Oh, sad… Got there with a second to go, and by the time I opened it, it had stopped. no Beep at all!

Circus Kill

This arose from a challenge from CelticFrog to use within the same story three elements: a clown, an elderly Russian spy, a bar of soap

In the barren back lands of Australia, many years ago, an outback community was buzzing with talk of a circus coming to town in a few months. Sited in the middle of desert land, serving cattle stations that were bigger than Texas, the little town (which refused to be considered a mere village) was a focal point for gossip, ordering supplies, and the outback radio network. Four main buildings made up the “town” – a blacksmith and hardware store, a general store and postal station, a school house, and the pub. Lining the dirt track through the town and out into the desert were about eight or nine houses – seven if you only counted those in which someone actually lived.

The maiden-aunt figure of the school teacher (Miss Nadia Vokova) was given distractions by questions about circuses, as they’d never been to one nor even seen one. In the dusty dry book shelves in the back room she found a story book with pictures showing a circus, and she made sure the class learned what to expect when the circus came to town.

She arranged for the educational school’s airwaves host to cover the circus as a topic. Children living ‘way too far to come into town for school would hear of the circus through the radio grapevine, and want to know more about it too, before deciding if it would be worth calling the plane in to bring them to its performance.

Early on a typically dry morning, as Miss Vokova crossed the road from her school house to the general store, she saw the jeep drive away towards the landing strip, having just dropped off the weekly mail. She opened the store’s door and went to the stationery area, seeking large paper sheets and powder-mix paint for the school.

“Hey there, Miss Vokova, you just call if you need any help there,” the store keeper Blue Jackson, greeted her as he hauled packages and envelopes from the green canvas mailbag.

“Thanks, Blue, I will need help later with delivery of a few things,” she answered “Carry on with the mail, don’t mind me.”

“Righty-oh, Miss,” and he began piling, sifting and sorting. Soon the mail was sorted: one pile to be delivered by his black boy to the town addresses, one pile of envelopes that would wait for near farmers to collect on their weekly ride into town for supplies, and one pile for the local airplane to drop off at the distant stations.

She moved on towards the fabrics at the back. She wanted to sew a new dress for summer, and started pulling cloth bolts partially from the stacks.

“D’you need the missus, there?” called Blue.

“Is she busy? I’d like some advice from your wife.”

“Sweet-‘eart? Sweet heart! Customer in dressmaking, love,” he hollered.

Mrs Jackson bustled through the curtain hanging across the doorway into the back half of the store, where their living quarters were. The women were busily comparing patterns, measuring Nadia, comparing fabrics, selecting, matching and gathering the notions – buttons, threads, lace trim – when Blue’s voice  (always rather loud) roared even louder.

“Ya-bloody-hoo! They’re here! The tickets are here!” he held up a cardboard packet. “And posters too! And give-away balloons! It’s really on. It’s on, alright!”

“Ah, you’re a big kid yourself, Blue!” his wife called to his retreating back. He was off to tape a poster onto the store’s window, then the pub, the blacksmith’s, the horse trough … anything vertical.

“As soon as he’s back, he’ll be on the air telling everyone the tickets are in. He’s worked so hard to get that circus to agree to come out all this way, he has to sell every ticket, Daft bugger,” she said lovingly to Nadia.

Nadia wandered the store, collecting a few household items: a can of Brasso, a pack of two bars of Sunlight, two new dusting cloths and another kitchen knife – one with a long, thin blade for cutting easily through the Cheddar. She paid and carried the household items back home. Blue’s boy, Arunta, would deliver the school and dressmaking items, neatly wrapped in brown paper and string tied, later in the cool evening.

Just as the kids were ready to come inside again as lunch break ended, Arunta came jogging over the road, carrying a rolled tube of paper.

“Missy Vok! Missy Vok!” he called.

“Hi there, Arunta,” she greeted the lad.

“Mr Blue, he says your school kiddies can have a poster too, Missy,” and Arunta held out the tube. As she took it and thanked him, he continued “And don’t worry about this morning’s shopping, Missy. I’ll be coming by at end of the day, like always.” He grinned broadly, and scampered back to the shop.

‘For a lad of only eleven, he’s a good kid,’ thought Nadia. ‘No parents, lives alone in Blue’s spare house, and works hard all day for anyone with a job for him. Pity he hasn’t a chance of coming to school.’ She meant that at his age, he would not be able to catch up with the farming children already in school. If he were younger and had a sponsor instead of parents who’d left him behind when they went walk-about, there’d be no problem.

She unrolled the poster inside the classroom after making space on the pin-board by moving other pictures. She stood back and read it:

Caged Lions, Tigers –
And, New To The Country’s Circus Circuit
The Asian Tree Leopard!

Clowns!  Trick and Show Ponies!
Jockey Races Around The Ringside!
Fire-Eater Feroni! The Incredible Smithson’s’ Stilt Team!

Trapeze Artistes Monica And Michael!
And Did We Say Clowns?
The Mechanical Car! The Fire Truck!

Blinky? Her heart skipped a beat. Surely, not her Blinky, still chasing her after all these years? It couldn’t be – after so long, he’d be dead by now. She peered at the art work of Blinky the Clown. No, it wasn’t her Blinky – the makeup was wrong; she knew a clown’s makeup was registered and never changed.

But she didn’t look at that poster again unless she had to.

– – – – – –

Blue had sold every ticket there was by the time the road-train arrived with the circus. Blue suggested a patch of ground behind the pub, but the circus owner refused, and so they set up the tents behind the blacksmith’s. Nadia allowed the school children to watch them finish setting up in the morning after they’d almost completed everything during the night. Of course, the kids all had to write a report on what they’d seen, just to keep it “educational” as an experience. The children were all disappointed, and felt sorry for Miss Vokova – she was the only person they knew who’d missed out on buying a ticket, so she wouldn’t be going.

– – – – – –

At home during the evening of the circus’s single performance, Nadia listened to the traditional circus music and the excited cheers of the crowd.  She felt restless, and left her seat by the open window, went into her back room and pulled a large trunk from beneath the spare bed. She dusted it off then went to her room to find the keys to the locks: two different keys, to confuse anyone trying to get inside without her okay.

She flipped back the lid, and carefully unfolded the tissue layered over the contents. Her formal evening gown, worn in London. Her sensual cocktail dress and sandals, worn in Prague. Assorted business suits and elegant casual clothing, plus the black closely fitting body suit and nylon boots, perfect for night stealth. The alligator skin clutch purse, in which her fake passports were tucked (the currently ‘real’ one was in her top drawer of her china cupboard), along with small wads of banknotes from each country in which she’d ever worked. No Roubles of course. Her orders had always been never to try to go home again. She lifted out the cardboard shelf that held all the innocuous clothing.

Below was another set of memories. The gun she’d been issued by the KGB – useless now that bullets for it couldn’t be bought in Australia for neither love nor money. The Glock she’d lifted from the New York police station front desk, and the box of bullets. The New Zealand Police 590A1 model Mossberg shotgun with 16 inch barrel, and the boxes of cartridges. Three kongos. The shiv she’d had to make from a six-inch shard of broken glass slotted into an eight-inch handle of bamboo, in Vietnam. She took one kongo, and used it to twist her hair up on top of her head. She pulled the Mossberg and cartridges out, repacked the trunk and slid it back away out of sight.

In her sitting room she fetched the silencer she’d made years ago, from its place in the pantry, and checked the Mossberg’s action, loaded it and fitted the silencer. She slid it under her two-seater couch and sat listening to the National ABC radio broadcast, although her ears were alert for sounds from the circus site and the perimeter of her house.

The show ended, and there was a seemingly endless parade of people, buggies, carts and tractors hauling sleds past the house. Then, only the sound of the roustabouts packing the trunks of the troupe and pulling down the tents. The performers would have headed straight to their compartments in one of the road train trailers.

As she expected, before long after silence fell, there was a tap at the window – timid, but audible above the chirruping night crickets. She walked to the window and opened it wider, nearly taking off the head of the figure crouched under the swinging frame.

The moonlight was bright enough to show her it was indeed Blinky. He’d have been aged about sixty-five, by now. He was balding (so perhaps that explained the new makeup clown face), slightly stooped, but as always elegantly dressed, in a sports jacket and trousers – though still wearing clown-face.

“Come in, Blinky,” she offered, and stepped back to give him room to use the window, which faced away from the road. He reached up to the sill, and somersaulted into the room over it. He stood brushing imaginary creases out of the clothing.

“A drink together, Miss Nadezhda Sergeyevna, for old times’ sake?” he offered as he drew his hip flask from his inside jacket pocket. He flipped off the two tin cups covering the lid, unscrewed the lid and poured a generous nip for them both.

“Za vashe zdorovye!” they toasted in unison. The vodka was a good Stolichnaya, and Nadezhda held out her cup for another.

“So, you are still chasing me,” said Nadezhda. “Even now, when neither of us could harm a living soul, nor each other. And still after all these years, I do not know why. So, it’s time to tell me.” She gestured they should sit, and carefully manoeuvred him to the one seat that did not directly face the two-seater.

“It’s simple. I’ve been trying to stop you,” he said.

“From doing what?” she pretended innocence, knowing it would infuriate him.

“From chasing around the world, adding to its troubles by following directions from an agency that is now impotent and no longer has a hold over you.”

“I know the KGB is only a shadow now. But its replacement still forbids me from going home. So, I live here now. I am not an active agent any longer. I’m a fair-dinkum Aussie after fourteen years here. I teach children, I grow vegetables, I cook and clean for myself. The only difference between here and Russia is – I’m free here. No one knows what I have done. And Australia is much warmer than Russia.”

She paused and accepted a third cup of Stolichnaya.

“And why does it matter to you, what I do and where I live?” she asked, and eased her position on the couch, closer to the edge as if to listen carefully.

“To me, it does not personally matter. But to others, your existence is still a threat to their political or financial welfare. And they are my friends. I help my friends, Nadezhda. After these years of no contact, we can forget our past conflicts. I can be your friend, and you can be mine.”

“And these other friends of yours. They are…?”

“Austrian, Kurkhistani, Algerian, Palestinian … places –“

“- places all over central Europe, the Middle East and old Russia,” Nadia finished for him. “And how close to correct would I be if I guessed … old KGB?” She saw his tell – the twitch in the corner of his mouth. Blinky was there for only one reason.

She raised her hand casually to her hair, and removed the kongo. It was a small but heavy one; she could hide it in her hand. He realised her next move a split second after she made it. As the kongo spun through the air to crack his temple open, he reached into his pocket for the stiletto he always carried. But she already had the shotgun out, and was moving in closer.

(‘The longer barrel and getting in close makes for a narrower scatter,’ the voice of her instructor came back to her from years ago.)

Standing over Blinky as he scrambled up to his feet to face her, she fired directly at him. Two shots – one to make him hurt, one to finish him.

She felt his carotid pulse – not a twitch. Taking his stiletto – a fine Italian silver engraved ebony handle – and the Mossman back to her back room, she stowed everything away in the trunk.

She tipped Blinky’s body out the window, into the flower bed below. She fetched a bucket, a rag, and a new bar of Sunlight all-purpose soap, and removed all signs of the little bleeding from Blinky – most of his blood was soaked into his suit.

Outside, she washed all the clown-face from him. She stripped him down to his singlet and boxer shorts, and stuffed his clothes and leather shoes into an old hessian sack, which had last carried potatoes.

Blinky’s body she then dragged across to the circus cavalcade, where, beside the caged wild cats, she cut up and fed him to the lions, tigers and the tree leopard – a pretty wild cat, that one.

Over the next couple of days after the circus road-train had left – the owner annoyed by Blinky being missing – Nadia spring-cleaned her house, for the first time since buying it years ago fetching old junk from the ceiling crawl space, from under the house, from the back of old closets. Blue obliged by letting her have some large cardboard banana boxes. One of the school pupils’ Dad offered to come and haul away her rubbish, and drop it into a deep pit he wanted filled in, before he lost cattle or a child down the natural shaft.

Nothing was going to interrupt her retirement now. Not while she could help it.


nahDYEHZHdah for woman spy = Nadezhda
Sergeyevna = middle patronymic name with feminine ending
Vokova – = wolf’s; surname with feminine ending

vodka brand = Stolichnaya vodka

The Party’s Over – writing in song titles

Diane’s on the telephone … calling friend after friend

“It’s Saturday night and it’s my party! … Come on over!”

Saturday night and Sunday morning. The door’s still open. … Oh, just a commotion nothing’s planned – ”

“Yeah, at this ol’ house. Don’t be stupid, not tomorrow night!”

– – –

There was a pounding on the door.

“Hang on! I hear you knocking!”I called as I went down the hall to open it. There stood a pretty woman and a young girl, behind them a crowd of beautiful people – male and female. They crowded in, chattering, some bringing their poison of choice. I directed one fella in a fedora to the bathroom – “Green door, down the hall.”

“Hi, you can call me al,” he said, passing me his paper bag of bottles in his rush.

“What’s to drink?” someone yelled over the noise. Susie, my other flatmate, pointed to the counter

“Tequila, gin & juice, red – red wine, streams of whiskey, TNT for the brainwhatever,“ she yelled back.

“ Hey, everybody, let’s dance,” shouted someone at the stereo, and soon the music’s blaring and everybody’s jumping.

Al came back and grabbed his paper bag. As he drew out a bottle, he winked “Little ol’ wine drinker, me.”


An argument broke out over in a corner.|
“Stop messin’ around!” the woman, Rhiannon, yelled.
“Oh, come outside,” pleaded the hopeful young man with her.
“I owe you nothing!” she argued.
“Baby, please don’t go.” Realising he was losing her, he grabbed her, held her close.
“One more time, I’ll tell you – never too close!” and she pushed away. “I’m going home.” Rhiannon stalked out.
“Okay, you can go your own way,” he called after her. As an aside to a mate, he muttered “She’ll keep coming back, you’ll see.”
“Ha-huh, boy she’s too hot to handle for you!” His mate laughed.
“Nah, it’s just a phase.”

Someone interrupted the music, and slipped in a different CD.
“I can’t dance to that crap,” he said “Watch what happens now!” And ho boy, everyone was on their feet, and wriggling and writhing, solo, partners, the conga line – you name it, it was “Everybody dance now!” He played the CD again – had it on Repeat, probably. Even on the second time, there was a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on. But after it had played over and over, people retired to couches and corners for conversation and b-s or a breather. – – –

If you could lip read as I can, you’d make out how some couples were trying to make out, if you know what I mean.

“Hold me,” one young girl in a corner.

“Man’s favourite sport. Let’s go away for a while,” a greasy sleaze ball all over some sweet thing.

“Oh, come on, everybody plays the fool,” another try-hard.
One more time then,” a reluctant reply.
Turn around,” fumbling for the bra hook.

Couples started heading off to more discrete places – thank heavens, it was getting embarrassing in here.

Al suddenly called out, “Hullo, the bitch is back!” as Rhiannon stalked back in, trying to be indignant, but for her it was crying time.
“See? You keep coming back!” crowed her boyfriend. He noticed she was upset, draped an arm around her shoulders, and said ”No more tears (enough is enough). Tell me what you want me to do?”
“Let’s get outside of this,” she replied.
“Okay, we’re going home to your place,” and they strolled out into the night.

– – –

In the wee small hours of the morning, Diane called |
“Okay, bar’s closed. Nothing’s left, it’s time to go – the party’s over!”

“Wake up, little Susie,” I shook her shoulder. She started up, and shambled to her room. Almost everyone started gathering up their coats and bags, and heading to the door. Diane checked who was walking, who was driving, and who was going to have to stay over.
She asked them all, “How are you going?”

“No place to go”, mumbled one. “Homeless.

“Step inside, love,” and she pushed him back into the lounge.

“Goin’ back to Houston”, mumbled one fella. “Leavin’ on a jet plane – gotta ticket to ride here, somewhere,” as he searched his pockets while teetering away off along the footpath.

“I’m at the Y.M.C.A,” and the student stumbled out the door and down the steps.

Al smooched up against Diane, grabbed her and as corny as you please, said
“Wherever I hang my hat, that’s my home,” and dropped his wee fedora onto her head. She sighed and led him to her room, leaving me to check the state of the party-leavers. One young man was holding his head with one hand, his gut with another.

“I just wasn’t made for these times,” he said in misery. “I’m going home.” He stumbled down the steps and threw up in the gutter.

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll find my way home.” Someone confidant and merry pushed past me and off.

”Can I stay over for Danielle’s breakfast? Aw, she makes such yum bacon, eggs ‘n’ pancakes with maple syrup! What time will she be up and cooking?” Some scrounger who knew Danielle.

“Probably 11 a.m,” I told him. At the description of the breakfast, one guy started making retching noises.

“Quick, he’ll have to go!’ warned the scrounger. We got the puker off the property just in time.

By now the flat was nearly empty of wakeful party guests. Almost everyone in the place was flat-out asleep, alone or in pairs (in their own rooms, thank heavens). I left them to it and joined Danielle. We slept nestled together like a couple of spoons – but all we could do was sleep off the party.

– – –

We all woke the next day late of course. It was a good day, sunshine. Diane, Susie, Danielle and I roused all the overnighters to get them to help clean up. Hell ain’t a bad place to be, but shite, there was mess everywhere.
We’re gonna need gumboots!” Diane raved when she saw the state of the toilet, bathroom and kitchen. It’s beyond understanding how people can make such a mess!”

As friends zombied their ways from their sleeping corners, they needed pain relief.
“Who wants to live forever?” groaned one guy. Paracetamol was all we had to offer.
“I’ll take five.” And they went down his throat dry. Al was holding his head. He sat at the kitchen table and Diane gave him water.
Ain’t that a kick in the head!” he marvelled at the pounding.
It’s the booze talking, that’s all,” she reassured him. “That’s just the way it is, you know.”

“Have you seen the bathroom? Someone’s puked into the bath and it’s gone all down the window!” Susie was disgusted. “Something must be done!”
“Right, while we’re waiting for Danielle’s breakfast, I’ll be cleaning windows. It’s what I do.” And the guy – who was that? – was out filling a bucket, then back through with a mop and an armload of bottled cleaners.
“Okay, let’s all clean up” ordered Diane. “Fix these things,” as she pointed to the trash on the tables in the lounge. “Don’t stop until it’s spotless again.”
“Yeah, it looks like we live in a dump.” I had to agree – it was a right dirty old town in here. “Let’s take out the trash.”
As I carried the first dumpster sack out through the front door, I stepped over someone lying on the front step. I nudged him with my foot, but he was too deeply asleep. I asked the others
“Hey, who’s the dweller on the threshold?”

But in the kitchen, everyone’s attention was on another party sleeper who’d shown himself – in really bad shape.
“Oh, Take me to the hospital. I need to see Doctor Roberts.” Danielle took a break from the frying pan, and called triple-one, and sat him on the back step in fresh air.

– – –

We did get the place bearably clean, and were looking forward to Danielle’s breakfast as the ambulance arrived. But we didn’t hear or see them at the back. I went out to the front.
“Ah … the Guy who’s sick is out back?”
“Yeah? Well the guy who’s dead is here out front!” the paramedic retorted. There was no need to tell all about it – my mates had all heard him from the kitchen. They came crowding around the door, to see who it was, what had happened, what would happen.
The ambulance driver heaved himself from his seat.
“I’ve called dispatch. Police are on their way. Did I hear you say there’s someone sick here too?” He followed Al around to the back door, and reappeared walking the crook fella to the ambulance.
A police car turned up. Out stepped an officer in uniform, and from the back a plain clothes man.
“Inspector Morse” he flashed his ID. “And Sergeant Pepper. This is a real tragedy. Young kids having a party and letting it get out of control. I expect it was an overdose. Come on Sergeant, inside.

He headed to the lounge and gazed around, smelling the air.
“Phwawh! Too many clues in this room,” the young sergeant grinned.
“Not that funny,” Morse snapped. He wandered around, peering closely at the counter and tables’ tops. In the kitchen he peered at the as yet unwashed glasses. Back in the lounge, he spoke to us all.

“I know there’s an answer here, and in your trash which my lads’ll be taking for a forensic going-over. Now, don’t talk if you’re going to tell me little lies. What ever you do – don’t!. We’ll be sending a crew in to give this place a right turn around. Don’t move anything. In fact, don’t move from here at all till they’ve finished up.”
We sat there, fearful. We’d had no drugs in the flat. If that guy had O.Ded, he’d brought it himself. Cocaine? The sergeant’s radio crackled. He stood in the hall and listened, then reported to the Inspector.
“Inspector Morse that was the constable at the hospital. The young man who was ill did have an overdose in his system. He’ll survive; they’ve sent a sample off to the lab for identifying.” And he strolled into the kitchen.
“That’s enough for me right now,” Morse said. “Sergeant? Let’s go. And you lot? Think. Think really hard. Don’t forget to remember anything that will be of interest.”

And he marched out, followed closely by his sergeant, leaving us terrified – until we remembered Danielle’s breakfast would only need heating up.


© Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2011

United Friends Challenge #308

Words = 1762 (Titles not Included)

Song titles =113 (First mention only is counted)

Title : Word Ratio = 113 : 1762 = c. 1 : 15.6

SUFFFERING SJOGRENS’ – no adjectives

Write a poem or short story  describing someone or something
without using any adjectives.


She had aged beyond her years.

Sand. It felt like sand everywhere. In her eyes which could not weep. In her nose which could not recognise odours. In her mouth where without saliva, all food turned to sand and grit, and taste-buds sensed only the taste of nothing. In her place of pleasure, sand scratched and grazed, erasing the pleasure, replacing it with pain. In her joints, sand grated where cartilage should have smoothed movements.

It was as if she’d swallowed  Silica Gel. She was drying up from the inside outwards. Her skin would soak up quantities of moisturiser, without any change effected.

Now, her dryness was affecting her teeth. Without saliva, decay was rampaging from tooth to tooth, almost in pace with her dentist pulling them. As do sufferers of “Sjogren’s Syndrome”, she had a mouth that made her appear to be a Meth addict. She’d resolved to never smile. Her cheeks were beginning to hollow. Her hair was like bristles. She refused to pose for a camera, not while looking as if she were to drop dead as the shutter clicked.

Oh, the dryness. The sandiness. The grittiness. Oh, how she wished it would end.

(c) Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2011