Accidental Death #TuesdayTidbit #Fiction #Inspiration

ACCIDENTAL DEATH

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2022.

 

“I love you so much,” said Anna, as she knelt over her father’s casket one rainy morning.

“Now you’re being dramatic,” said Ginger, glaring at her stepdaughter. “People might think you were having, well, um, a sinful relationship with your father.”

The teen-ager stood and looked around at the deserted tent where the graveside service had taken place and the closed coffin, waiting to be lowered into the ground. “Nobody’s here. Besides, what would you know about relationships? You killed Dad because he didn’t like your stupid cats.”

Ginger gasped. “I don’t believe this. I know you never liked me, but why would you make such an accusation?”

“Dad told you it was either him or the cats. You couldn’t have them both.”

“Now that was a dumb thing for him to say. Who would take care of him? He couldn’t walk after his stroke.”

“I could have taken care of him. He was all I had after Mom died.”

“You couldn’t have given him the care he needed, not with school, your other obligations, and, not to mention, your social life.”

“Dad could have gone to the adult day care program at the senior center while I was in school.”

“You’re not even an adult. What do you know about such things?”

“I looked it up on the Internet last year after Dad had the stroke,” said Anna, her voice breaking. She wiped an eye with her sleeve. “I didn’t think you were going to stick around. I should have known better. You married him for his money, and you were hoping he would take out a life insurance policy. That’s the only reason why you didn’t hit the road when you found out Dad couldn’t use his left arm or leg.”

“How did you know about that?”

 

“How could I not know what you two were fighting about? You were so loud I could hear you clear upstairs in my room. You thought I was doing my homework. Well, I was until I heard you and Dad start yelling. Then I had to know what was going on. I heard everything from the second floor landing, and you didn’t even know I was there. This was before Dad’s stroke. He should have picked you up and thrown you out the front door, then tossed your cats out after you.”

Ginger grasped Anna’s shoulders and turned the girl to face her. “I’m your guardian now. So, don’t you dare talk ill of me or my kitties.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s another fight I overheard. You wanted Dad to fix his will so you would get custody of me if something happened to him  before I became an adult and that  money in the trust fund he set up for me would go to you until I’m twenty-one. That’s the only reason you’re my guardian.”

“I swear to God, Anna, if you say one more word, I’ll smack you.”

“With what? That hammer you knocked yourself out with after you shot Dad.” Ginger released her hold on Anna and stepped back. “Don’t think I didn’t know about that, too. Who do you think emptied the litter box the next day?”

“Now you decide to help with housework.”

“The next afternoon when I came home from Lauren’s slumber party, the smell from that litter box in the kitchen was enough to make me gag. When I picked it up and emptied it into the wastebasket, the gun and hammer fell out along with the jewels you told the police the thief stole.”

“I was planning to empty the litter box in the dumpster.”

“I’ve watched enough of those cop shows to know not to touch evidence with my bare hands. I went in the bathroom and found the gloves you used to clean Dad up after he pooped. I put them on and picked up the gun, hammer, and jewels and put them in a plastic bag. When I walked into the living room, I wasn’t surprised not to see Dad in his recliner. I went to your room. Dad’s side of the bed was empty, and there you were, with all ten of those cats you got at the shelter after you married him. You opened your eyes and started crying and told me this sad story about a robber breaking into the house, knocking you out, and shooting Dad. I got you a cold compress for your head and told you I was meeting Lauren downtown.”

“I thought you were a typical teenager. Your father dies, and you go shopping.”

“I went straight to the police station. That detective who came to the house when you called didn’t know I existed. You told him you had a daughter who was going to school at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, and when he called up there to find her, he was told there was no such student there.”

Ginger sighed.

“He told me the whole story once he pieced it together. He was really nice and said he was sorry I lost my dad. He also said he didn’t think you were a flight risk since you were expecting to inherit Dad’s estate. So, he’ll wait to arrest you until after the funeral.”

“We don’t have to wait any longer,” said a voice behind Ginger. She turned to see the two officers who responded to the 911 call. Next to them stood two gentlemen in suits and ties.

One of them extended his hand. “Mrs. Lloyd, I’m Jake Jones with Teggler & Associates. I’m afraid I have more bad news. I’m sorry you weren’t home when I came by to see your husband after his stroke. His life insurance policy only covers accidental death.”

“But a burglar…”

“Now Mrs. Lloyd, we all know that’s not the case,” said one of the officers, placing a hand on Ginger’s shoulder.

The other man in a suit and tie took Ginger’s hand. “I met you a while back, Mrs. Lloyd. I’m Ken Sherman. I was your husband’s lawyer. Before Anna’s mother died, she and my wife were really good friends. We had an appointment this afternoon to go over your husband’s will, but it looks like you won’t be able to make that, so I’ll just tell you this. You weren’t home when everything was finalized after your husband’s stroke. So, here’s the deal. Everything your husband owned will go to Anna when she’s twenty-one. In the meantime, I’ve been named executor of your husband’s estate. The will also stipulates that in the event that anything should happen to him before Anna turns twenty-one, my wife and I will become her legal guardians.”

“No!” screamed Ginger, as she turned and tried to flee. But the two policemen grabbed her. As she was handcuffed and led away, Anna knelt by her father’s casket and let her tears flow while the lawyer who would now be her guardian tried to console her.

***

Note: The above story appears in the spring issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, which can be read here.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Woody Woodpecker #TuesdayTidbit #Poetry #Inspiration

I know it’s Tuesday, but I’m sharing the following poem as part of Stevie Turner’s Friday Write feature. This poem was published in the June 5th issue of The Weekly Avocet, which can be downloaded here. You can click the link below the poem to hear me read it.

***

Woody Woodpecker

By Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2022.

“Listen to that,” says Dad,
as we walk through the park one spring morning.
I’m a teenager,
and my father is walking me to school.
We stop for a moment.
I hear it, a power drill without the motor.

“That’s a woodpecker,
boring holes in that tree over there,” Dad explains.
He points, but I can’t see.
Preoccupied, I wonder why I should care.

That day after school,
I’m watching a cartoon on television with my younger brother.
Again, I hear the motorless drill,
this time followed by Woody Woodpecker’s cheerful tune.

Why is he boring holes in that tree?
Why is he so happy?
With limited vision, I can’t see the screen.
I listen while brother watches, says nothing.

I’m amazed at how cheerful Woody is,
despite the curveballs life throws his way.
Maybe we could all follow his example.

 

Woody Woodpecker

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

 

The Crow #TuesdayTidbit #Poetry #Inspiration

THE CROW

By Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2022.

 

Caw! Caw! Caw!
At dawn, the horrid noise jerks me back to reality
from a world where my boss isn’t writing me up every five minutes.
If anyone should be disciplined, it’s the crow.

I imagine being in the sky,
flying to the far side of the moon
to a place where I can’t get into trouble.
Is there such a place?

Caw! Caw! Caw!
My thoughts interrupted, I leap out of bed,
slam shut the window, climb back under the covers.
There, that’s much better.
the dream weaver kicks in, and I escape.

***

The above poem appears in the June 5th issue of The Weekly Avocet, which can be downloaded here. To listen to me reading it, you can click the link below.

 

The Crow

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Giving Thanks for Time #TuesdayTidbit #Jottings #Inspiration

Last week, I was complaining to myself for having so much to do and not enough time. Then, I got the dreaded phone call, a call I’d received several times before, a call that meant deleting every event on my calendar that didn’t take place virtually. I had once again been exposed to COVID. This time, one of the gals in my singing group had tested positive after attending our last practice.

This meant I had all the time in the world, but I felt depressed. We’d been having lovely weather, and I’d been looking forward to eating lunch at the senior center and taking walks.

I’d planned to get my COVID booster on Friday. I called to ask if I should still do that or wait. The receptionist told me to wait at least a week. This I was glad to do, since I’d suddenly realized I could possibly infect the transit driver who would take me there.

On a whim, I asked the gal at the public health department if it would be okay to take a walk if I didn’t have any symptoms, wore a mask, and did my best to distance myself from anyone I encountered. What she said surprised me. “Since you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to quarantine.”

Seriously? It was my understanding that even if I was fully vaccinated, I could still pass the virus on to someone else, even if I didn’t have symptoms. What’s more, I wasn’t fully vaccinated, technically, since I hadn’t yet had my booster. After giving the matter some thought, I decided it would be okay to take my walks for exercise while wearing a mask and keeping my distance. If I developed symptoms, I would stay home.

Now, it’s been over a week since I was exposed. I’ve survived yet another COVID scare. What I’ve learned is this. Instead of griping about having too much to do and not enough time, I should prioritize and do what I can in the time allotted and not worry about what doesn’t get done. That’s better than having “Too Much Time on My Hands.”

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Website

 

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

 

Hunting Out of Season #TuesdayTidbit #Fiction #Inspiration

Even though it’s Tuesday, I’m posting the following story as part of fellow author and blogger Stevie Turner’s Friday Write feature. This work of flash fiction appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders. I was inspired to write it after someone told me she’d actually overheard a stranger say the story’s first lines into his cell phone.

 

HUNTING OUT OF SEASON

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2022.

 

“Next time you don’t pick up the phone, I’ll beat the shit out of you!” His words were loud and clear through my sister’s cell when she answered his call.

I pulled the rental car to the side of the road. Turning to her, I said, “Give me that phone.”

She complied, her hand trembling, nearly dropping the device. “Not any more, buddy,” I told him. “Not if I have any say in the matter.”

The call was disconnected. “He thinks he called a wrong number,” I said. “He’ll call back.”

Sure enough, the phone rang, and his name came up on the screen. “Hi, Mike,” I said.

“Who the hell’s this?”

“Oh, you don’t remember me from your wedding a few months ago? I’m Debbie’s big brother Rick, six-feet tall, muscular. I had a bad feeling about you. So, I wasn’t surprised when Debbie called me yesterday after not speaking to anyone in our family for three months and begged me to fly all the way out to this god-forsaken state of Arizona to rescue her. She didn’t tell you she’d invited me for a visit? That was smart. You would have beaten the shit out of her then and made her tell me not to come.”

After a pause, he said, “Of course I wouldn’t have done that. I know who you are. We talked about going hunting in October when the season opens. Maybe Debbie and I will come this fall, and we can do that.”

“Seriously?”

“Look, we’ve have some disagreements…”

“Disagreements? You call a broken arm and bruises all over my sister’s body mere disagreements? I don’t think so, buddy.”

“I told her I was sorry. Sometimes, I lose control when I get angry. I’m trying not to…”

“Yeah, right. That’s what they all say. Forget it! I’m taking her back to Wyoming. If you come after her, you’ll be in big trouble because you’ll be hunting out of season. As a matter of fact, there is no hunting season for the type of game you’re after.”

I ended the call and handed the phone back to Debbie. “Can you believe he said he wanted to come up to Wyoming and go hunting with me?”

She managed a weak smile, as she slipped the phone into her purse. “You’re good.”

“So are you, Sis.” I resisted the urge to pat the shoulder of her broken left arm. “Let’s get out of here.”

As I put the car in gear, she fanned her face. “God, I hate Arizona summers. Why did I ever leave Wyoming?”

 

THE END

 

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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