Inspiration, Maybe – Volume Two

50 photographs, 50 stories, of which there is one of the 50 below.

They all start with –

A picture paints … well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, the story:

Have you ever watched your hopes and dreams simply just fly away?

Everything I thought I wanted and needed had just left in an aeroplane, and although I said I was not going to, i came to the airport to see the plane leave.  Not the person on it, that would have been far too difficult and emotional, but perhaps it was symbolic, the end of one life and the start of another.

But no matter what I thought or felt, we had both come to the right decision.  She needed the opportunity to spread her wings.  It was probably not the best idea for her to apply for the job without telling me, but I understood her reasons.

She was in a rut.  Though her job was a very good one, it was not as demanding as she had expected, particularly after the last promotion, but with it came resentment from others on her level, that she, the youngest of the group would get the position.

It was something that had been weighing down of her for the last three months, and if noticed it, the late nights, the moodiness, sometimes a flash of temper.  I knew she had one, no one could have such red hair and not, but she had always kept it in check.

And, then there was us, together, and after seven years, it felt like we were going nowhere.  Perhaps that was down to my lack of ambition, and though she never said it, lack of sophistication.  It hadn’t been an issue, well, not until her last promotion, and the fact she had to entertain more, and frankly I felt like an embarrassment to her.

So, there it was, three days ago, the beginning of the weekend, and we had planned to go away for a few days and take stock.  We both acknowledged we needed to talk, but it never seemed the right time.

It was then she said she had quit her job and found a new one.  Starting the following Monday.

Ok, that took me by surprise, not so much that it something I sort of guessed might happen, but that she would just blurt it out.

I think that right then, at that moment, I could feel her frustration with everything around her.

What surprised her was my reaction.  None.

I simply asked where who, and when.

A world-class newspaper, in New York, and she had to be there in a week.

A week.

It was all the time I had left with her.

I remember I just shrugged and asked if the planned weekend away was off.

She stood on the other side of the kitchen counter, hands around a cup of coffee she had just poured, and that one thing I remembered was the lone tear that ran down her cheek.

Is that all you want to know?

I did, yes, but we had lost that intimacy we used to have when she would have told me what was happening, and we would have brainstormed solutions. I might be a cabinet maker but I still had a brain, was what I overheard her tell a friend once.

There’s not much to ask, I said.  You’ve been desperately unhappy and haven’t been able to hide it all that well, you have been under a lot of pressure trying to deal with a group of troglodytes, and you’ve been leaning on Bentley’s shoulder instead of mine, and I get it, he’s got more experience in that place,  and the politics that go with it, and is still an ally.

Her immediate superior and instrumental in her getting the position, but unlike some men in his position he had not taken advantage of a situation like some men would.  And even if she had made a move, which I doubted, that was not the sort of woman she was, he would have politely declined.

One of the very few happily married men in that organisation, so I heard.

So, she said, you’re not just a pretty face.

Par for the course for a cabinet maker whose university degree is in psychology.  It doesn’t take rocket science to see what was happening to you.  I just didn’t think it was my place to jump in unless you asked me, and when you didn’t, well, that told me everything I needed to know.

Yes, our relationship had a use by date, and it was in the next few days.

I was thinking, she said, that you might come with me,  you can make cabinets anywhere.

I could, but I think the real problem wasn’t just the job.  It was everything around her and going with her, that would just be a constant reminder of what had been holding her back. I didn’t want that for her and said so.

Then the only question left was, what do we do now?

Go shopping for suitcases.  Bags to pack, and places to go.

Getting on the roller coaster is easy.  On the beginning, it’s a slow easy ride, followed by the slow climb to the top.  It’s much like some relationships, they start out easy, they require a little work to get to the next level, follows by the adrenaline rush when it all comes together.

What most people forget is that what comes down must go back up, and life is pretty much a roller coaster with highs and lows.

Our roller coaster had just come or of the final turn and we were braking so that it stops at the station.

There was no question of going with her to New York.  Yes, I promised I’d come over and visit her, but that was a promise with crossed fingers behind my back.  After a few months in t the new job the last thing shed want was a reminder of what she left behind.  New friends new life.

We packed her bags, three out everything she didn’t want, a free trips to the op shop with stiff she knew others would like to have, and basically, by the time she was ready to go, there was nothing left of her in the apartment, or anywhere.

Her friends would be seeing her off at the airport, and that’s when I told her I was not coming, that moment the taxi arrived to take her away forever.  I remember standing there, watching the taxi go.  It was going to be, and was, as hard as it was to watch the plane leave.

So, there I was, finally staring at the blank sky, around me a dozen other plane spotters, a rather motley crew of plane enthusiasts.

Already that morning there’s been 6 different types of plane depart, and I could hear another winding up its engines for take-off.

People coming, people going.

Maybe I would go to New York in a couple of months, not to see her, but just see what the attraction was.  Or maybe I would drop in, just to see how she was.

As one of my friends told me when I gave him the news, the future is never written in stone, and it’s about time you broadened your horizons.

Perhaps it was.


© Charles Heath 2020-2021

Coming soon.  Find the above story and 49 others like it in:

The cinema of my dreams – I always wanted to go on a treasure hunt – Episode 72

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new installment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

Back at the hospital with Boggs

Nadia dropped me off at the hospital where Boggs had been taken.  She offered to come in with me, but I said Boggs might not be too receptive to any Cossatinos given the circumstances of where we found him, adding I was not trying to be disrespectful until I found out what happened.

It was still possible he had ended up on the beach after being dealt with by her father, brother, or some of their gang.  I could have expressed myself better because there was no mistaking that look she gave me.

Coming on top of the admission she almost forced out of me, about trust, I got the impression that the rapport we had built up was slipping away, much like sand through fingers.

Watching her drive off, I wondered if that might be the last time we spoke.  It was, I had come to the conclusion on the way back from the beach, a relationship fraught with many problems, in my case, being with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and in hers, well, I was not sure what her expectations were.

If only she wasn’t a Cossatino.

I went in the main entrance, asked at the admissions counter where Boggs was, giving my name, and stated the fact I was his best friend.  I was expecting to be told the only visitors could be direct relatives.

It elicited a phone call which on any other occasion I might have dismissed as hospital protocol, but in this instance, and the grave expression on the admission clerk’s face told me this was different.

When she hung up the phone she told me to sit, someone would come to get me.  Several minutes later the Sheriff came out of the doors leading into the emergency department.

It looked serious if the sheriff was involved.  I was hoping Boggs had not succumbed to his injuries, even after the medics has said his survival prospects were good.

“Sam.  I was hoping you would come to see Boggs.”

“How is he?”

“Uncooperative to the extent of truculent.”

“He’s awake then.”

“Aside from exposure, and a thorough shaking up, there’s little wrong with him a night or two won’t fix.  But, there’s a small problem with the Cossatinos.  They claim he stole a document from their residence, and they want to charge him with trespassing and theft.  He had nothing with him when they brought him here.”

“Maybe they were chasing him and he hid it somewhere.”

“Maybe, but he’s not talking.  Perhaps you could persuade him to tell you because we need a statement, or I’ll have to charge him, pending an investigation.”

“I’m not exactly his best friend at the moment.”

“Because of Nadia?”

News traveled fast in this town, or was it like the sheriff once told me another time I’d got into trouble, nothing happened in his town that he didn’t know about.  Or my mother told him to tell me she was bad news, which was the most likely scenario.

“She is not the sort of girl you want to be with.  You know as well as I do what the Cossatinos are like, and that’s all of them, Sam, without exception.”

My mother had spoken to him because those were her words.  The sheriff had to be more diplomatic.

“What happened to cutting people some slack?  Have you considered she might be different?”

“She has a file, Sam.”

It was all he needed to say.  I wanted to believe her, but discounting all the rumors and stories I’d heard about her was not going to justify overlooking the obvious.

“Message received and understood.  Is Boggs up to taking visitors?”

“Yes.  Follow me.”

We went through the doors leading to the emergency department, down a corridor where ambulance patients in various stages of distress were lined up waiting to be processed, it was a busy night.  At the end, we turned right where there were several rooms, one of which had a policeman standing outside.

A nod from the sheriff and the policeman opened the door and I went in.  The sheriff didn’t follow me.

Boggs was almost sitting up, staring out the window, until the door closed when he turned to see who had come into the room.  When he saw me, he turned back to the window.

Then I noticed a girl sitting in the chair beside the bed, almost obscured from view.  It took a moment to recognize her, Charlene, the sheriff’s daughter.

What was she doing here?

© Charles Heath 2020-2022

An excerpt from “Echoes from the Past”

Available on Amazon Kindle here:  https://amzn.to/2CYKxu4

With my attention elsewhere, I walked into a man who was hurrying in the opposite direction.  He was a big man with a scar running down the left side of his face from eye socket to mouth, and who was also wearing a black shirt with a red tie.

That was all I remembered as my heart almost stopped.

He apologized as he stepped to one side, the same way I stepped, as I also muttered an apology.

I kept my eyes down.  He was not the sort of man I wanted to recognize later in a lineup.  I stepped to the other side and so did he.  It was one of those situations.  Finally getting out of sync, he kept going in his direction, and I towards the bus, which was now pulling away from the curb.

Getting my breath back, I just stood riveted to the spot watching it join the traffic.  I looked back over my shoulder, but the man I’d run into had gone.  I shrugged and looked at my watch.  It would be a few minutes before the next bus arrived.

Wait, or walk?  I could also go by subway, but it was a long walk to the station.  What the hell, I needed the exercise.

At the first intersection, the ‘Walk’ sign had just flashed to ‘Don’t Walk’.  I thought I’d save a few minutes by not waiting for the next green light.  As I stepped onto the road, I heard the screeching of tires.

A yellow car stopped inches from me.

It was a high powered sports car, perhaps a Lamborghini.  I knew what they looked like because Marcus Bartleby owned one, as did every other junior executive in the city with a rich father.

Everyone stopped to look at me, then the car.  It was that sort of car.  I could see the driver through the windscreen shaking his fist, and I could see he was yelling too, but I couldn’t hear him.  I stepped back onto the sidewalk, and he drove on.  The moment had passed and everyone went back to their business.

My heart rate hadn’t come down from the last encounter.   Now it was approaching cardiac arrest, so I took a few minutes and several sets of lights to regain composure.

At the next intersection, I waited for the green light, and then a few seconds more, just to be sure.  I was no longer in a hurry.

At the next, I heard what sounded like a gunshot.  A few people looked around, worried expressions on their faces, but when it happened again, I saw it was an old car backfiring.  I also saw another yellow car, much the same as the one before, stopped on the side of the road.  I thought nothing of it, other than it was the second yellow car I’d seen.

At the next intersection, I realized I was subconsciously heading towards Harry’s new bar.   It was somewhere on 6th Avenue, so I continued walking in what I thought was the right direction.

I don’t know why I looked behind me at the next intersection, but I did.  There was another yellow car on the side of the road, not far from me.  It, too, looked the same as the original Lamborghini, and I was starting to think it was not a coincidence.

Moments after crossing the road, I heard the roar of a sports car engine and saw the yellow car accelerate past me.  As it passed by, I saw there were two people in it, and the blurry image of the passenger; a large man with a red tie.

Now my imagination was playing tricks.

It could not be the same man.  He was going in a different direction.

In the few minutes I’d been standing on the pavement, it had started to snow; early for this time of year, and marking the start of what could be a long cold winter.  I shuddered, and it was not necessarily because of the temperature.

I looked up and saw a neon light advertising a bar, coincidentally the one Harry had ‘found’ and, looking once in the direction of the departing yellow car, I decided to go in.  I would have a few drinks and then leave by the back door if it had one.

Just in case.

© Charles Heath 2015-2020

newechocover5rs

In a word: Dear

Yes, it’s that simple word that we use to call someone affectionately.

Or sometimes, with a little accent on the word; yes, dear and no, dear.

In other words, it’s a person regarded with deep affection.

It can also mean expensive, by saying, that’s a bit dear, isn’t it, when we’re really saying it’s way overpriced.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve said something is ‘too dear’ to the children.

Grannies tend to use the expression, ‘be a dear and…’, to get you do do something for them.

Friends, sometimes tongue in cheek, will say, ‘oh dear, I’ve upset you’, when that was exactly what they meant to do.  Friends you say?  Yes, friends indeed.

And then we always start a letter (always?  Who writes letters any more?) with

Dear John (oops, not one of THOSE letters)

Dear Sir/Madam

Of course, instead of swearing, you could simply say ‘Oh dear, you’ve let us down again!’.

And when you lose your job, which is happening a lot at the moment, it is said it would cost you dear, though sometimes it would be more appropriate to use the adverb, dearly.

It is not to be confused with the word deer which is an animal, the males of which have antlers.

There are a number of different types of deer, such as reindeer and elk.  In Canada, they are called caribou.

In Robin Hood’s day, killing deer brought you very harsh punishment.

And one of my favourite meats is venison, meat from a deer, which are farmed in New Zealand along with sheep.

In a word: Left

The word left conjures up many interesting connotations such as:

Left at the altar, not a very nice occurrence but an oft-used scenario to fuel a Romcom

Should have turned left at Albuquerque, used by Bugs Bunny in a cartoon I saw once, and now basically is the go-to phrase when you get lost and have to tell someone

Lefties, not exactly the word but oft used to describe one side of politics usually leaning towards socialism or communism, or perhaps simply because they don’t agree with us

They’re coming at us left, right, and centre, meaning people, or some other object, are coming from everywhere, that is, from all directions

But one of some more simple explanations, I’m left-handed, which means I write with my left hand.

Only that doesn’t mean that I’m left-handed at everything because I’m right-handed using a bat and playing golf.  How does that work?

Turn left which means you turn in a specific direction, directly opposite to another direction, right, but I defy you to describe exactly how to turn left!

Oh, and by the way, I often get left and right mixed up.

There was only one slice of cake left, which means someone else ate it all, or that there’s one slice remaining, and you’d better be quick getting it.

Or probably the saddest of the examples, I left London to go home, meaning that I had to depart a place I wanted to stay but circumstances dictated I had to leave.  Usually, you have to go back to work where you came from, but more realistically you couldn’t afford to stay.

In politics, if you are a right-wing conservative, anyone from the other side is a left-wing lunatic.  Politics can be very polarising and there is often an all-or-nothing approach to the opposition. Rarely is there a middle of the road.

Searching for locations: Hong Kong Park, Hong Kong

After arriving in Hong Kong early in the morning, we were taken to the Hong Kong Conrad Hotel where we were staying for several days.  We had a short sleep, then I took the grandchildren for a walk and we found Hong Kong Park, with a Fountain Plaza, waterways, a waterfall, and turtles.

2013-12-28 11.24.02

Part of the fountain area.

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Turtles resting on a rock

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A turtle about to go in the water

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The waterfall.

It was a pleasant surprise to find this park in such a highly built-up area.

Nearby was a multi-story underground shopping center that was huge, and very conveniently accessible from our hotel.

Sayings: Flogging a dead horse

This wouldn’t be so apt if it didn’t bring back a raft of bad memories, those days I used to go to the races, and back all of the wrong horses.

I had a knack, you see, of picking horses that fell over, or came dead last.

Perhaps that’s another of those sayings, dead last, with a very obvious meaning.  Dead!  Last!

But…

In the modern vernacular, flogging a dead horse is like spending further time on something in which the outcome is already classed as a complete waste of time.

However…

Back in the old days, the dead horse referred to the first month’s wages when working aboard a ship, usually paid for before you stepped on board the ship.  At the end of the first month, the theoretical dead horse was tossed overboard symbolically, and thereafter you were paid.

It still didn’t make sense to me that someone would tell me I was flogging a dead horse, until I realized, one day, the lesson to be learned was never to get paid in advance.

 

The cinema of my dreams – Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 12

I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.

The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.

But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.

Was I working for a ghost?

 

I sat in that room for an hour.

I had no doubt someone was on the other side of the mirrored wall, watching me, analysing my body language.  I hoped I hadn’t given any indication that Nobbin was a name that I recognised, or knew, but I was still new to this game, and as much as I tried to perfect it, I still didn’t think I had a poker face.

More than likely I had a ‘tell’.

There was something else I had to worry about, and that was what approach this Dobbin would take.  For instance, did he know that I had met up with the man in the alley, and stretching that big if, did he know who the man in the alley was, and was he one of ours.

Of course, that was another problem I had, and that was recognising who ‘ours’ were.  It seems the people I knew, were not the same people who were really running the place.

Or, paradoxically, were these people, interlopers, trying to get intel on the group I was supposedly working for.  But they hadn’t disavowed me, so I must be working for someone they approved or knew of.

An hour and a half, and I was beginning to think this might be another game by my previous interrogators.  I was glad not to be on the other side of the mirror, trying to work out what I was ‘telling;’ them.  Once, I’d got up and stared directly into the mirror, thinking I might be able to see who was behind it.  I also thought of tapping it to see if I could get a reaction.

And, in fact, I was about to do that very thing when Nobbin walked through the door and closed it behind him.

I saw him do a quick check of the room, from the floor to the roof, and stopping briefly at the mirror, before sitting down.

“We probably have an audience for this discussion,” I said, inclining my head towards the mirror.

“You might be right, but I did ask for a clean slate, and if anyone is considering recording or viewing this interview, there will be dire consequences.”  Looking at the mirror, he added, “I made that very clear at the highest level.”

He then looked back at me.  “Your name, I believe, is Sam Jackson?”

“Yes.”  My current working name, that is.  Once deployed to the field we started using aliases, and my first and current alias was Sam Jackson.  But how they made the passport look old and used for that legend was interesting, yet not a question anyone would answer.

“You were recently assigned to a surveillance team, for this man.”

He’d brought a folder with him and pulled out a photograph of the man I’d cornered in the alley.

“Is that him?”

Was there a right or wrong answer here?

“Yes.”

“Who was leading this operation?”

“A man named Severin.”

“Describe him.

I did.

It evoked no reaction.  Nobbin had a poker face.  In fact, I was beginning to think it was etched in stone.

“Do you know who he is?” I asked.

“No.  But we will find out.  Thank you for your time.”

He stood, gave me one last look, and left the room.

I waited a minute, and then followed him out, where a security officer was waiting to escort me out of the building.

On the steps outside, security pass returned, I wondered if that was then end of my tenure with that organisation.  Or whether I actually had any tenure in the first place.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

Where do you write?

Here’s an interesting question, where do you find the most comfortable place to write?  Is it in an office, in a room overlooking the ocean, and basement where you can make it dark and creepy for atmosphere, is it at a train station, at work, which could end up presenting you with problems, or somewhere else.

Some people have an office, mine is a converted garage, and the walls are lined with books.  It isn’t the greatest place though.  There’s a smart alec cat always on my case.

There’s a couch in the living room where, late at night, I sometimes sit and ponder over about a thousand words of whatever the current story is in my head.  Cat withstanding.

It could be a cafe or restaurant, where it starts out as notes on the ambiance, the food, the people, then a little more, and gets me into trouble with my dining companions.

They should not have created writing programs for mobile phones.  Or for that matter, allow the phones to get smarter than their users.

But…

That’s a whole other story.

So having found that special or nonspecial spot in the house, or out there in the universe, how do you become creative?

Is it you’ve been carrying the ideas around in your head for a while and you just need somewhere neutral to get them on paper, or in that pesky smartphone?

Is it sitting by the window with a cup of coffee and a mice cream-filled cake, when something catches your eye, and instantly the words begin forming?

Are you with someone, a muse, a partner, a spouse, a friend, a secret friend, or just a stranger, and you start getting the wrong ideas?  Or the right ideas if it’s a different sort of book.

Sometimes I move seats and sit opposite the writer’s chair to take a good long hard look at the person, the so-called writer, conjuring up in my mind, if I was someone I’d just dragged in off the street, what would I ask?

They, no doubt would be cynical.

Why bother when there are a million others out there trying to do the same thing?

That’s the easy question.  Every story is different.  Why?  Because every writer has a different point of view, a different set of experiences, a different personality, different friends, this could go on forever…

Here’s a test, outline a story and give that outline to ten different writers.  You’d get ten different stories.

Where do you get the motivation?

Don’t know.  Some days I don’t want to get out of bed, others, I can’t go to sleep until the words have stopped.  Go figure.

What do you do for inspiration?

Inside, outside, upside down, everywhere and anywhere.

Just remember, always have a notebook and pencil on hand.  Why pencil, I never have any luck with pens.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo – 2022 – Day 26

I ought to be on holiday

Now that David has finally worked out what it is that Prendergast wants, and what is required to get back to living in the London residence, though he’s not sure he really wants to go back, arrangements are made by Alisha’s trusty assistants.

Of course, Alicia has to go too, despite the short recovery time, but it seems everyone wants to get back to work, and David realizes that being at the coal face is really what he’s been missing.

Nigeria is probably not the best place to be going, and the head of station there is a rather odd fellow who doesn’t quite understand the subtleties of secrecy.  He’s also Prendergast’s man and that means he can’t be trusted.

David pulls in some old friends he used to work with, and the team assembles in Lagos, and will be travelling to the vicinity of the guerrilla’s camp in the Nigerian Delta by float plane landing near a village whose people have been having trouble, and who will take them by boat to the ‘back door’ of the camp.

It seems the villagers have been petitioning the Queen to help them as members of the Commonwealth.  It provides David and his team a perfect excuse to go there if anyone is asking.

All of this works like clockwork.  And the means to gain entry is simply enough, they are going to present themselves at the gate, and allow themselves to be ‘detained’.  As for being shot on sight, David understands the local warlord ‘type’; he would use David and his team as a bargaining chip with the British Government.

Not that it was going to happen, the warlord was about to discover what war was really like.

Words written today, 3,123, for a total of 63,415