Just My Luck #Fiction #Tuesday Tidbit

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The weekend after I was laid off from my job as a guidance counselor at the local high school, my husband and I went skiing. I took a flying leap off a small hill and landed spread-eagled in the snow, my skis pointing in one direction, my poles in another. My right knee was badly twisted.

On Monday, my birthday, my husband announced that he had out of town business that just couldn’t wait. After promising to return late Friday night and kissing me on the cheek, he was out the door. Here I was, with no job, no husband, and no one to take care of me. I lay on the living room couch and wallowed in self-pity, as I watched a mindless game show on television.

When the doorbell rang, I struggled to my feet, picked up my crutches, and hobbled to answer it. Reaching for the doorknob, I heard a thud, then two men yelling and punching each other. When I opened the door, I gasped at the sight in front of me. A box of fruit lay torn open on the porch. Planters were broken, and pears had rolled everywhere. Two guys were fighting, yelling obscenities at each other. A UPS truck was parked in my driveway, and a sport utility vehicle stood on the street directly in front of my house.

“What’s going on?” I yelled.

The two men stopped and looked at me with sheepish expressions. One of them handed me a business card that read “Doug Ross, Certified Massage Therapist.”

“Happy birthday. Your husband arranged for me to give you a massage today.”

The UPS driver said, “I also have a delivery for you. Looks like it’s a subscription to a fruit of the month club.” His gaze shifted to the smashed pears on the porch.

“And you guys were fighting over who would make the first delivery?” They looked at each other and shrugged.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” I said. “Come in out of the cold.”

They followed me inside. I hobbled into the kitchen and started making coffee. The massage therapist put a hand on my shoulder. “Sit down. I’ll do that.”

“I’ll clean up the mess on the porch,” said the UPS driver. “You’ll be reimbursed for what was broken. I’m really sorry.”

A few minutes later, we were drinking coffee and eating pears that weren’t too badly damaged. “Would you like to tell me what’s on your mind?” I asked.

The UPS driver said, “Doug and I have been friends for years. A couple of months ago, I met the most incredible woman. I made the mistake of introducing her to him. Now, she’s seeing him and wants to break up with me. But you know what, Doug? You can have her. I found someone better.”

“Glad we got past that one, Brent,” Doug said. “Still friends?”

“Still friends,” Brent said, and they shook hands.

For the price my husband paid for one massage, Doug gave me daily treatments, paying special attention to my injured knee. Brent also came every day and brought fresh fruit he’d salvaged from other customers who weren’t home to receive their deliveries.

On Monday afternoon when the mail came, I opened my husband’s credit card statement. He usually took care of the bills, but I was bored to tears and sick of game shows, news programs, and soap operas. I was shocked when I saw charges for restaurants where we’d never eaten together, a flower shop, a jewelry store, and a hotel in a different city. I couldn’t remember the last time my husband gave me flowers or jewelry. His work often took him out of town, so the hotel charges probably weren’t anything to suspect, or were they?

On Monday night, I called my husband’s cell and a woman answered, “Hello?”

“Oh, who’s this?” I asked.

“I’m Melanie,” she answered with a giggle.

“I’m sorry,” I said, not surprised. “I was trying to reach Charles Redford. I must have the wrong number.”

After that, Doug and Brent took turns spending the night. They gave me more than massages and fresh fruit. Charles never called, and I didn’t try to reach him again.

On Friday night, when the two of them showed up at the same time, I said, “Both of you can have me tonight. Let’s get a pizza and watch a movie.”

When Charles walked in late that night, he found the three of us snuggled on the living room  couch, watching Casablanca. Doug was rubbing my injured knee, and Brent’s arm was around my shoulder. An open box of oranges stood on the coffee table.

As Charles gaped at us open-mouthed, I placed an arm around each of them and said, “Hi, honey. Did you have a nice time with Melanie? Thank you for the lovely birthday presents.” I kissed Doug, then Brent.

In divorce court, Charles told the judge, “If only I’d picked either the massage or the fruit.”

***

The above appears in the January issue of The Writer’s Grapevine. To subscribe, send a blank email to: writersgv+subscribe@groups.io  It was also published years ago in Emerging Voices, a journal produced by Northwestern Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff. This story was inspired by something I heard on National Public Radio’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

***

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Gloves (Fiction)

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Note: a writing exercise inspired the following story, which was published several years ago in Emerging Voices. Please be warned that it contains some strong language and violence. You can also read this story on my website.

 

GLOVES

 

 

The snow fell in a wall of white that obscured her view of the road and the darkening sky. “Why didn’t I stay where I was?” she asked herself as she drove at a snail’s pace along the Shirley Basin Road that wound its way from Medicine Bow to Casper, Wyoming.

As the car’s interior grew colder, she fiddled with the heater knob, but nothing happened. Dammit! No heat!”

She pulled to the side of the road, ignoring the sliding noise the tires made. She searched for her gloves, but they weren’t in her coat pockets or her purse. “I must have left them at the convenience store in Medicine Bow.”

After taking several deep breaths and warming her hands in her pockets, she said, “I should go back. There are people in Medicine Bow. There is warmth in Medicine Bow.”

The engine whined, and the tires skidded on the ice under the newly fallen snow. In a frantic effort to free herself, she gunned the engine and rocked the car back and forth. The motor continued to whine as the tires slipped deeper into the drift. After a few more minutes of struggling, she switched off the engine and stuffed her cold hands in her pockets.

The night was silent except for the wind and the sound of snow pelting the car. Shivering, she zipped her winter coat as high as it would go. After tightening the hood around her face, she wriggled her toes inside her boots. With a sigh of resignation, she buried her hands deeper in her coat pockets and settled herself more comfortably.

“It doesn’t matter,” she told herself. What do I have to live for? If God exists, and this is his way of punishing me for running away, so be it.” She closed her eyes and let herself drift, though she knew this was dangerous.

A few minutes later, she opened her eyes with a sense of impending doom. Hearing a car engine behind her, she turned and gasped in horror when she recognized the angry face outside her window. It couldn’t be, she thought. He couldn’t have known where she was going. Since she had no relatives in Wyoming, the chances of him finding her were slim, but there he was, the exhaust from his idling car making an eerie specter in the freezing air.

His knuckles rapped against the pane with several sharp thuds. Her panic rising, she turned the key in the ignition and pushed the button to automatically lock all doors. Her heart sank when he removed the spare key from his pocket and unlocked the driver’s side door. Yanking her out into the freezing cold, he slammed the door and pinned her against it, delivering a hard blow to her cheek.

“How did you find me?” she asked, holding up her hands to protect herself.

“I followed your tracks,” he said, as he struck her a second time. “I found these on the counter at the Super America in Medicine Bow.” He removed her gloves from his pocket and tossed them into the snow.

“You never did have much sense,” he said, as he hit her a third time, “so I figured you’d be stranded out here somewhere.”

When she bent to retrieve the gloves, he delivered a sharp kick to her backside, sending her sprawling in the snow. As anger rose within her, she bent her knee and kicked as hard as she could. Her effort was rewarded when her foot struck something solid, and he yelped in pain.

She jumped to her feet. Putting on her gloves, she glared at him, as he lay writhing in the snow and clutching his crotch. She flung herself on top of him.

With her gloved fists, she pummeled his face. “Now, you’re getting a taste of your own medicine!” she yelled, striking his eyes, nose and mouth.

The blows sounded harsh. “Ma’am, are you okay?” a voice called from somewhere.

She opened her eyes to find herself still sitting behind the wheel of her car. It had stopped snowing, and a bright moon shone overhead. The lights of a snowplow blinked behind her. A man, apparently its driver, was pounding on her window.

Shivering, she opened the door a crack and said, “I’m stuck, and my heat doesn’t work.”

“You don’t have any heat at all?”

“No,” she answered, shaking in earnest.

“How long have you been sitting there?”

“I don’t know,” she answered through chattering teeth.

He pulled the door open and extended his hand. “Come get in my vehicle where it’s warm, and I’ll call a wrecker.”

She stiffened and shrank away from him. “It’s okay,” he said. “I’m here to help you.”

His tone was soft, his words not judgmental or condescending. She looked into his face and saw nothing but concern. “Thank you,” she said, as she allowed him to help her out of her car. With him, she walked away, not looking back, only looking forward.

 

THE END

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

A Winter Poem Revisited

I posted this in July of 2012, but since it’s Groundhog Day, and I don’t have any more brilliant ideas, I decided this poem was worth a second look. It was published in Emerging Voices in 2012, and I’ve made some revisions since then. You can read the original here. It’s not as cold now as when I first wrote the poem so I look back on that day with gratitude. Click this link to hear me read it.

***

FIVE WAYS OF LOOKING AT COLD

 

1.

 

At a quarter to nine in the morning, it’s seventeen below.

Waiting for a ride, I stand inside the kitchen door.

Sunlight shimmers on frosted glass.

I rub with gloved hand but make no dent,

hear the car pull into the driveway—

its tires crunch on frozen snow.

 

2.

 

“I don’t have the heat on yet,”

she says when I get in the car.

“It needs to warm up first.”

I don’t complain–

walking would be a lot worse.

In the YMCA locker room, my nose runs.

 

3.

 

Water exercise class in progress,

“North to Alaska” plays on the stereo.

Why would I want to go there? I’m cold enough—

as water’s warmth surrounds me,

I move across the pool–

my mind unfreezes, opens.

 

4.

 

Driving home isn’t so bad.

The car has absorbed the winter sun’s warmth.

When I get home, the temperature is four degrees above.

 

5.

 

The groundhog did not see his shadow today.

Will there be an early spring?

The late afternoon temperature has risen to twelve above,

feels like twelve below.

***

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order from Amazon