Friday, 9 October 2009

Food For Thought Finale

You can stop wondering, reader, about how long I'll make you wait for the end of the tale. I'll be very kind and, although I've got out of the habit of posting every day, I shall, on this occasion revert to my original daily dose.

Please bear in mind, this was merely a homework assignment, nothing more, nothing less. I've never been bitten by the short story bug, and if quizzed on the subject, would deny that I'm destined to write them. The shutters inside my mind have slammed together with a bang, whether through fear, or lack of confidence. I cannot envision an inexhaustable supply of basic plots. Maybe, if I'd been an adventurous, travel-the-world-on-a-shoestring type of youngster, I'd have accumulated a store of ideas by now, that, as a retired lady of leisure, I could send as grist to my mill.

I'd love to hear from those of you amongst my readers who are tellers of tales by nature. Do ideas bubble up all the time? Do you have to go digging for them, like a fisherman digging for his bait before his next trip? Are short stories all you want to write, or do you secretly yearn to give birth to a novel? Come on people - tell Aunty Jinksy!

Meantime, here's the promised continuation of Food For Thought...

..."I think I'm losing my mind!..."

The words sounded ominous to her even as she spoke them, clearly and deliberately, in a steady voice that belied her inner turmoil. The command with which she uttered them allowed Dan no alternative but to focus on the unimposing spectacle before him, Mary; short, slightly overweight, her round face framed by a halo of wayward hair which, although tinged with grey, managed nevertheless to make her appear younger than she was.
“What are you supposed to mean by that?”
Already Dan’s light blue eyes had the closed expression she recognised so well. It always appeared when she encroached upon his invisible ‘emotion screen’.
“Precisely what I say. I think I’m going crazy. Something is happening I don’t understand.”
Mary sat down at last, but made no attempt to eat, simply rested her arms lightly on the edge of the table.
“You know yesterday evening you went to play darts with Joe and Peter?”
Dan nodded assent.
“ The children were in their rooms, so I thought I’d make good use of the quiet time and organise my writing desk. I’d been meaning to tidy it for days, but I can’t concentrate on a job like that when there are other people clattering around. Eventually I got it into some semblance of order and was about to close it, when I notice a small bundle of what looked like notes held together by a rubber band. I couldn’t remember seeing them before, so I pulled out one and unfolded it. It was a perfectly ordinary sheet of writing paper, dated at the top. In the centre of the page was written ‘ Today, the car won’t start’…”
“So what?” said Dan. “Someone must have started to write a letter and then forgotten it.“
“But it wasn’t a letter. That’s all it said. ‘Today, the car won’t start’, printed in capital letters. And I’d certainly not seen it, nor read it before, much less tucked it into a rubber band.”
“Still doesn’t sound like a forerunner of insanity to me”, said Dan in a bored voice, as he reached for another slice of toast and cheese.
“But I haven’t finished telling you.”
Mary carried on talking, pushing her plate away. She couldn’t make herself eat anything. Perhaps a sip of tea would make her feel better. She raised the cup to her lips, but as the scent of the tea wafted into her nostrils, she felt her stomach heave in revulsion and she put the cup back on the saucer without drinking.
“There were four notes altogether. I opened out the next two and they both consisted of a date and a single line of print.. After I’d read them, I realised both dates were recent and I could check my diary to see if any of the messages coincided with things that had happened on those days.”
“And did they?” asked Dan, still sounding bored.
“Yes, they were all true. The first was dated three Friday’s ago. I’d had a lunch date with Susan and I’d had to catch a train into town because the car wouldn’t start. It made me half an hour later than we'd arranged. The waiter had begun to give her annoyed looks because she’d sat there all that time without ordering.”
Mary could hear herself wandering from the point and quickly reorganised her thoughts before continuing.
“The second was the following Sunday’s date and it said ‘Burn and be damned’. Remember that awful Sunday dinner that was burnt to a crisp when we got back from our walk? I thought I’d set the oven timer incorrectly, but when I read that note, well…! The third was just as bad - ”
Dan interrupted her in mid sentence - “Pity it didn’t say ‘You’ve won a fortune’, there might be some sense in that.”
“Be serious, Dan. I’m really worried. The third, dated yesterday, said ‘Jingle bells, jingle bells, soon have Mary down in hell’. The 'phone had been a torment all day through. I must have had at least two dozen calls that cut off as soon as I lifted the receiver. I'd reported it as a fault after the third, but the 'phone engineers checked the line and couldn’t find anything wrong.”
“I still don’t see why you're so up-tight” said Dan, refolding his newspaper with a good shake, as though he’d decided he'd listened enough and preferred written to spoken words.
“Oh, please don’t ignore me! Let me finish.” Mary was finding it increasingly difficult to remain calm and unflustered. “Before I could look at the last note, the children came stamping downstairs and I quickly closed the desk again.”
“You never told us about it when we got back from the club.” Dan seemed to be implying it must have been of little importance if it hadn't warranted mentioning earlier.
Mary gave a wry smile. ”Hmm, the state you were all in, I could have said anything and it would have gone straight in one ear and drowned before it came out the other!”
“Well, our team won. We had to celebrate, didn’t we?” muttered Dan peevishly.
“I wish you'd stop interrupting and let me finish.”
“Point, taken I’ll be quiet.”
Mary stood up and moved a few steps away with her back to the table, then hesitated and returned to nervously perch on the edge of her chair, hands tightly clasped.
“This morning, when I opened the last note, I saw tomorrow’s date at the top, then the words ‘Whose blood, Mary?’ I’ve been trying to put them out of my mind, but I can’t. I shall go crazy. How did the notes get there? Was it you or the children? I can’t believe that. But if it wasn’t, it means somebody else has been in the house. I feel as though I’m being watched all the time.”
“Let me have a look, ” said Dan, his tone making her even more convinced she must be on the brink of insanity.
“Alright.” Jerkily, she got up and opened the writing desk, which gave its customary ear-piercing squeak as hinges protested.
“Dan! They’re not here! I left them in the front pigeonhole this morning, I know I did!” Panic in her voice was easy to discern.
“Oh, come on, Mary! I’m beginning to agree with you, you are mad! You can’t expect me to listen to such nonsense. I’m going out. I suggest you take a sleeping pill and go to bed. You might be more normal after a good night’s sleep!” As he was speaking, Dan stalked angrily from the room and a few moments later, Mary heard the bang of the front door being shut with force.
Left alone, and by now very close to the tears she had so wished to avoid, Mary tried more deep breathing exercises. She began to clear away the uneaten remains of their meal. Perhaps she was imagining more into the situation than facts justified. She knew women of her age could suffer from weird complaints. She would make an appointment to see a doctor first thing Monday morning. Comforted by such a logical, normal decision, Mary dutifully swallowed a sleeping pill and got ready for bed.
Some hours later, Dan came quietly into the kitchen by the back door. In his hand, a defrosted packet of liver oozed slimy blood through the small snip he’d made in the corner of the vacuum pack. Luckily, it had been warm today, otherwise it might not have thawed properly since he’d bought on his way home from work on Friday. That would have ruined everything.

Slowly, he left a trail of red blobs across the scrupulously clean kitchen floor, trickled some up the front of the sink unit and smeared a large, gory patch on the worktop. That should do it! By the time he had finished with her, Mary would be begging to be let into the nearest asylum. Insane! What did she know about being insane? He could have told her.


  1. Ooooo, the unexpected twist! Loved it. Jinksey. It was very, very GOOD.
    In answer to your question: most of my ideas arrive out of the blue, quite often after I've typed a few lines of rubbish. I'm happy with short stories. I've written two novels but prefer shorter work.

  2. What a horrible man! I hope he didn't get away with his evil plan.
    Good tale.

    I have to get my ideas down fast as they bubble up to the surface and I cannot concentrate on anything else till I have got it written! Then I am like a red rag with a bull. I keep tearing it apart & rewriting until I am satisfied. Then I put it away & get it out later & start to criticise everything & add and subtract things & rewrite......... so it goes on. Little else gets done.
    Nuts in May

  3. So enjoyable Aunt Jinksy. As for what bubbles up in me to write, I'd have to say a little bit of everything -- poetry, a short story now and then, the novel I'm revising, articles, etc.

  4. I like to give the end at the beginning. It makes people wonder what the devil is going on.

  5. Oh, dear Aunt Jinksy. Or, oh dear, Aunt Jinksy. What a tale. And here we are, left wondering if poor Mary ever discovered what a horrible monster Dan turned out to be.

  6. Hello Jinksy,

    Well, who'd 'a' thought it?! Let's hope Dan got his comeuppance in some form. You obviously have a talent, even if you choose to underplay it. But as someone who finds it difficult enough to think up post topics, I can understand any reluctance to build expectations in one's readership.

  7. BTW, just to be clear, that someone is ME, not you!

  8. He must get his due soon. Divine Justice, I shout. I tend to get my ideas out of the blue, snippets of characters pop into my consciousness, begging to get on stage. Thank God I'm retired, and can indulge these fantasies.

  9. Heh, heh...this is good, Jinksy!

  10. You write well. It's like reading a chapter in a book! :)

  11. Now that is one sneaky husband. Poor woman. Hope you write another short story explaining how poor ole Dan ended up in the asylum, when Mary discovered she wasn't going insane after all.

    Happy week-end to you and your family.

  12. Enjoyed the ending Jinksy...I could never write a story of conversations...he said she said...way too hard, but my g/daughter is writng a novel.

  13. jinsky, please don't leave it, add another chapter to let us know if Dan was found out and how Mary handled the situation....what a horrible husband.....still loved it....:-) Hugs

  14. Absolutely love it Jinksey. There are days I think I am going mad, too, but don't suspect my husband.....hmmm.

    There is no future ambition for my rambling blogs. Some blogs are inspired by reminiscing; some by subjects others have written about, or some immediate event.

    I create titles and one liners in posts and save as drafts to develop later, so I don't forget about them. I censor myself on some subjects even though I have opinions, including politics and religious doctrine. Spirituality I sometimes broach in a general way but refuse to become embroiled in controversial areas.

    And I censor my own comments to positive. I am not a literary critic, nor expert, nor judge on anything.

  15. I'm with Derrick: you have a talent. You don't need an inexhaustible supply of plots. They say there are only six. You have the talent to weave the necessary magic afresh, even if you were to use the same one each time.

  16. Oh, Jinksy...this is absolutely Poe-ish...I am reminded of "The Telltale Heart." This is a terrific piece of prose!! You not only handle poetry with expertise, you also wield prose like a master! Bravo!!! ~Janine XO

    My word verification? sneakets....Oh, my!!!!

  17. I've been waiting to get back here and sit down and read. I'd click on your page, and the phone would ring. That' wouldn't do....I wouldn't read it until I was undisturbed. I wanted to take in every word. This is very good, jinksy.
    I know that others want more.....but I like it just the way you left it. This is a great story.
    I don't like him....evil (or disturbed) to the core....but I love your storytelling. Great ending!

  18. Wonderful tale Jinsky, just delicious!! The muse shall return, it is the same for me in both art and writing, it comes and it goes. In an art discussion once someone said that they felt that creative juices had to build and build until they were simply oozing out of us then and only then would the creativity flow. I tend to agree. So like all things in life, it comes and goes. nothing lasts, that includes both writers block and inspiration. :)
    Great tale, I know there are many more to come :)

  19. I want to hear more of this tale! Fabulous!

    I rarely write fiction, so I will be of no help at all!

  20. I hate to point out a teensy-weensy little mistake, really I do, but I am so much the anal-retentive type that if I don't mention it I will probably explode. I am now wearing my trusty proofreader's hat. In the last sentence of the first half of your story, as well as in the first sentence of the last half of your story (and they're the same sentence, your cliffhanger/continuation/bridge, as it were), the word "loosing" should have been "losing"....

    I will now melt back into the woodwork until my services are needed again.

  21. My SIL is a teller, and the ideas never stop: story after story, novel after novel.

  22. RWP - thank you so much! How come nobody else spotted it? They must be as bad as me at reading what thay want to see... then using copy and paste to compound the error... :)

  23. OK wait....Abraham Lincoln is one of your commenters? holy cow!!

  24. It's sort of hard to believe because without Mary that man would have to take care of those kids himself and that ain't happening.


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