Chapter LXVII: Lillian Gets A Surprise

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LXVII

Lillian

Gets A

Surprise

The Saturday of the unveiling was a windy overcast day. Rain threatened but never happened. Steven had been buried in the family plot at Hardwood Hill Cemetery. The bagpipes could be heard as she and Clara walked up the path to the family plot.

“Mama was a Presbyterian you know, and never converted, so when they wouldn’t bury her on Catholic soil our father didn’t want to be buried anywhere but her side. I know Steven felt the same way.” Clara leaned on Lillian for support.

There were several others already at the site. The Nova Scotia flag covered the small stone monument. It bellowed in the breeze.

“Good day Miss O’Dowell, Miss McTavish, I mean, Mrs. O’Dowell.” The custodian greeted them.

“Thank you Mr. Crookshank.” Clara shook his hand and nodded to other men there.

“He will be sorely missed.” Gus shook both their hands.

They stood in the wind for a moment listening the the piper. Clara signalled for him to stop.

“Lillian would you give me a hand?” Clara indicated to Lillian to stand opposite her by the grave stone. 

Once Lillian had taken the edge of the flag in her hand Clara leaned and undid the string that was holding it. They lifted it together and Lillian, expecting Clara to hold it, let go of her side once it was clear. Clara let go of her’s at the same time and the flag was blown away by the breeze to get stuck in upper branches of a near by oak tree.

“Oh my!” Lillian said and started to get it.

“Leave it for now, dear.” Clara said putting an arm around Lillian’s shoulder.

The monument was pink-grey marble column, the top edge had an inlay of black onyx carved to look like lumps of coal. It was topped with miner’s lamp made of brass. 

Clara read the inscription, “ ‘Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends. John xv:13’ ” Then she began to weep. The bagpiper began to play.

Lillian squeezed Clara’s hand and they walked down the path. Followed by the others and the bagpiper.

 

The silence back at the O’Dowell house was a relief to Lillian. She’d said all she had to say and longed to be on her way. It was worse than those last days at school before summer vacation. Clara had taken to her room and Lillian brought up a supper tray for her.

“Lillian you must understand how hard this is for me. To lose Steven and now to lose you so soon after.” she patted Lillian’s hand. “I know I’m beginning to sound same as an hysterical old woman but …”

“I will be back Clara.” Lillian hoped she sounded reassuring.

“Yes, but not till Christmas. Oh, do see if you can take some time to visit while you are at college.”

“Yes, yes.” Lillian said. “Once I know what my classes are and what work I’ll have before me I’ll know what time I have to spare.”

“This house has been so empty without you or Steven to share it with.”

“You’ll get used it so quickly you won’t want any intruders other than a cat or two.”

She went down to the kitchen

“Don’t awaken Miss Clara, Aileen.” she said. “I think it best if I slip away with less fuss than I arrived.”

“Yes miss. Am I to send the things in your room along to you?”

“No. They’ll be there for me when I return. Knowing my favorite blue shoes are here is sure to bring me back. I’d like you to have these.”

She gave Aileen the pair of stocking she had bought for the wedding. One less memento of a time she hoped to forget. 

 

She planned to leave Monday morning. Being here had become unbearable for her now that her escape from the island was assured. 

“I can’t quite believe you are going.” Mrs. Franklin said as they waited on the boarding house porch for the cab to take Lillian’s luggage to the train station.

“I am so grateful for everything you’ve done for me Rose.”

“Thank you, Lillian, you’ve been a joy to … “ she began to tear up.

“I’d like you to have this.”

“Oh  …” Mrs. Franklin pulled the tissue paper off what turns out to be an ornate carved ivory fan. “It is beautiful. The roses look so real.”

“I realize it isn’t that practical. Much like me, I suppose, I was brought up to be pretty but not practical. Life here has taught me to be practical.

“It was a gift from my father. He bought it for me on one his trips to the continent. I don’t want to have too many impractical memories.”

The cab pulled up. Once her luggage was safe at the train station she had the driver take her to the cemetery. She had given herself time to go back Steven’s grave. The day was sunny but the wind was strong around the grave.

As she knelt the wind pulled off her hat and her hair came loose. She laughed to herself thinking that Steven always did appreciate her hair.

“Steven,” she said softly, “forgive me for what I am doing. Even if you had lived I would never have been content here on this rock with you. Never.” 

“Lillian?” a man’s voice came from behind her. “Lillian McTavish!” The man repeated louder.

She stood, shivering, and turned around. The sun was in her eyes.

“Steven!” Had she brought him back to life? 

“It is you, Lillian! I thought it was a ghost.” He took her in his arms. She tried to push him away. 

“David Henderson? No, it can’t be. It can’t be.” She stumbled back away from him.

“It is.”

“How? Why?”

“When news of your death reached me in India I was devastated. I had hoped to return to Boston one day to be with you. I should never have let my family pressure me into leaving you. Never. It was torment I shall never want to experience again.

“I could hardly sit through the memorial service your uncle conducted in Boston. It wasn’t right to me. I had to see your grave to … be near you one last time.” Tears streaked his face. “To find you alive! How is that possible.”

“My uncle was … mistaken.” Lillian stared hard at David. He looked much she remembered. Older and less naive.

“He said at the memorial that you had been interred here with the other flu victims. I now see why the custodian was so puzzled when I asked about Lillian McTavish’s resting place earlier. He said that if you were here today it might be up here at the O’Dowell plot.”

A nearby church rang eleven.

“I … don’t know what to say David.”

“Tell me that my affections might still be returned.”

She started to walk down to the street. “Much had happened in the past year David. I can’t say what my affections are for anyone.”

“I understand that Lillian. I do honestly.” he stopped her and took both of her hands in his. “We can become reacquainted.”

He let go of her hands, put his around his waist pulled to him and kissed her. 

The wind wrapped her hair around them for a moment. They broke free and she quickly plated her hair and secured it under her hat. Was this Steven’s answer to her prayer for forgiveness?

“David I’ll be direct.”

“As you always were.”

They got into the cab that she had waiting for her. “Train station please.” Lillian said.

“I’m staying the The Royal.” David said.

“That may be, but my train leaves at noon. I intend to be on it.” Lillian’s thoughts were reeling with this unexpected, undreamed of event. Regardless of it she was determined to leave. “I can’t make any decision or plans as long as I am here.”

“I know that Lillian, but please hear me out. After my father’s death I inherited the firm and have increased its holdings in India considerably. When I first met you I was a young man with possibilities, now I am man of property.”

“I can see that. I presume you know that I was compromised by James Dunham.” She saw no reason to hold anything back from David.

“Compromised?”

“Yes. Do I have to explain that for you? That’s why I ended up here. I had a child by him. It was still born.”
“Lillian,” he clutched her hand and brought it to his lips.

“Do you still want to be become reacquainted with me?”

“How could you doubt it?” He said softly.

“You are free to come with me. I am not promising anything.”

“Yes. yes. Thank you. Drop me at the Royal and then take Miss McTavish to the train station.” The cab pulled up at the Royal. He jumped out. “It won’t take me long to pack my things and I’ll meet you at the station.”

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Story Bundle On My Kindle

I have a raft of Story Bundle offerings on my Kindle. In the past I’ve had their annual lgbtqia selections. I also pick up their world scifi collections & currently am working through this bookshelf:

Cannibal Chef – Cassandra Khaw

Priome Meridian: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Secret History of Moscow – Ekaterina Sedia

The Apex Book of World SF 3/4/5

The Vanishing Kind – Lavie Tidhar

Under the pendulum Sun – Jeanette Ng

The Thousand Year Black – TOBI Hirotaka

Slipping – Lauren Brukes

Nexhuman – Francesco Verso

Falling in Love With Hominids – Nalo Hopkinson

Escape From Bagdad! – Saad Z. Hossain

After the Falre – Deji Bryce Olukotun

AfroSF v3

I enjoy these looks at the future from writers outside the ciswhite heterosex context. I have read the first two volumes of The Apex Books & loved them. 

Also waiting to be read are: Dune Messiah: Frank Herbert; Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant – Melissa Scott – this is the 3rd in this series that I first came across in a Story Bundle of lgbtqia scifi. Star: Yukio Mishima – Mishima is an inspiration to me. I saw this on the shelf at a book store & checked on Amazon & downloaded a copy. Too bad there isn’t away to do that as an in-store download purchase or I would have done it there.

Psychedelic-40 – Louis Charbonneau; Sexperiment – Clyde Allison – I stumbled on these thanks a Tumblr feed of pulp scifi feeds. The covers were enough to make me want to read these plus those titles are fantastic. I can’t wait to read them. 

Looming Low Volume I; Dig Two Graves: Anthology Vol. II; Anathema: Issue 8. Looming & Dig feature stories by my niece Betty Rocksteady (she writes nightmares 🙂 ) Gory with a helping of sexuality & insects. Anathema is a Canadian spec fiction magazine that is strongly lgbtqia. I’ve been a subscriber from issue 1. Excellent stories minimal gore.

Recent additions are Valley Of The Dolls: 50th Anniversary Edition – Jacqueline Susann. Susann is another of my literary inspirations – this book in particular with its mix of soap opera, wish fulfilment, showbiz & sex. I’ve read it several times & my paperback is showing signs of age. Deep Work – Cal Newport: a self-help book! A friend of mine read it & it pushed him to remove diversions from his life so he can focus on productivity or at least on things that move him forward. The Internet is full of fake-productivity time-wasters like Facebook, twitter, linked in, etc. 

Most recent addition is What happens on tour, stays on tour by Kevin Paterson. I ‘met’ Kevin online via WordPress. This is the fourth ebook book of his I’ve downloaded. Yes I did read the others & quite enjoyed them so I’m looking forward to this one. 

The Witch

the witch that is my name

cartwheels over the city

clowns around when there is nothing

here to laugh at

when there are only tears to spill

to dampen the grave dust grace

of lost stars and missed chances

 

you aren’t the only one

needing to be charmed back to wetness

not the only one who had lost his day

in the night of frustrations and distrust

not the only one who thinks

the witch that is my name

can do more that any one name

can possibly do

besides

you don’t believe in fairy tale stuff

there are no happy blending

no shuffled coils

that can ever lead you back

to the safety of the tomb

 

the witch that is my name

cannot remove the pain

that creeps into your bones

that leaves you feeling

like a ghost without a skin

cannot move you along this path

any farther than you are now

but will not sit around with you either

there are floors to be swept

things to be undone

 

the witch that is my name

flies around blind alleys

with the same discomfort as any other

lost hankering figment

the blood in my veins hurts for you

takes me where I least expect to be

and leaves me the word

the unutterable word

that cannot help anyone

that cannot bring comfort to anyone

but me

cannot replace your skin

cannot take your place

 

the witch that is my name

has been divested of all power

except the power you give yourself

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every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November
7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Nuit Blanche Danforth Style

For the first time my local stretch of the Danforth – from Greenwood to Coxwell – participated in Nuit Blanche. There was nothing between Greenwood & Linnsmore. In fact there was no Blanche on the southside of Danforth until one got to the Roberston Parkette where there was a long set of tables for an early scrabble game.

The bulk of the action was along the north side – with musicians, window displays & lots of people taking photographs.

Scrabble in the wild

Make Love Not War

Red Rocket window – I liked the way the actual cafe lighting became a part of the piece

Masks on the wall outside the Linnsmore Tavern

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Ancient Evolutionary Programming

from the archives

TOpoet

2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

I enjoyed being totally immersed in the SpecFic Colloquium at the Gladstone. The toughest part was getting there (or for me, anywhere) that early in the day. For once the TTC didn’t let me down. Left home at 9 – where I accidentally met up with Mike Bryant for the trek there. Arrived by 9:40.  A good house of attentive listeners for the event added to my immersion. Although the event organizers did jam in as many rows as possible – meaning it was set for people with no legs but I made my space and stuck to it.

The Rapunzel Trap

Things started promptly at 10 a.m. with Robert Runte : “Canadian Speculative Fiction in the 21st Century” – a fascinating overview of the history of Canadian SciFi and the ways in which it differs from the US and even British genres. He observed that…

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Japan India Dominica Germany


This next mp3 collection is a trip around the world starting in Japan with Kuni Kawachi: Love Suki Daikirai. Someone in my tumblr feed posted ‘Graveyard of Love’ a track by Kuni & I loved the title & the song itself. This is moody, sweet early 70’s folksy psychedelic music. Kuni has an appealing voice & I was delighted by the songs. Do I understand Japanese? No, but that isn’t the point.

Next stop is Germany with Gunnar Winckler: A few hits. Once again thanks to tumblr. I follow an lp cover list – usually cheese album covers from around the world. The cover for Gin und Rum was sweet so I  checked out Gunnar. There were only a few of his tracks on iTunes. A late 1950’s hit maker in Germany. The music is rock-a-billy fun.We jump from there to India with Ganesha – My Lord. A collection by various performers of chants, rajas & spoken word in tribute to Ganesha. This a great exploration of this genre of ‘sacred’ meditation music. Some tracks over 20 minutes that are journeys worth taking.

Next we visit Guinea with music by Djelimoussa Cissoko – Kora. A kora is a 21 stringed lute-like instrument. Cissoko is considered a master of the instrument. On this lp he plays a variety of classic styles. The sound is melodious, at times meditative, sprightly & enticing. There are some jazz groups that are based around this instrument. I love this particular set though & it makes for an excellent introduction to West African music. 

Finally we come to a more modern sound with Adventura – The Last – this is a Bronx-based Dominican boy band. Latino boy bands still exist! But the competition of J or K Pop is giving them a run for the money. Fine harmonies, funky songs, nice production & in the videos they look more like men than boys.

Another Sunday Drive

“Look you little shit I’m only taking you along because Dad is here. Remember that. Get out of line and you’ll be sorry. Got it.”

“Yes, I got it.’ Dave glowered at me from the front seat of the car. He was still pissed at me for the other day, I guess.

Dad came out of the cabin and got into the front seat passenger seat.

“Okay Dave, let’s see what you’ve learned.” 

“Sure enough, Dad. I’ve been practicing all week. You know …. just driving Mike here down to the beach.”

“Sticking to the private lane I hope.”

“Of course. Dad. Didn’t I Mike.” He slowly backed out of the drive. 

Slower than I had even seen him back out. I sat quietly with my eyes peering out the window. Dave had driven me to the beach exactly once. He had been out in the car every day. Going on the highway to the store in town a couple of times. I wanted to tell but had promised not to say a thing. 

When we got the beach Dave puleld into the parking area and backed the car into a spot. This time he didn’t back right into bushes that separated the lot from the beach.

“Very good. I’m proud of you son.”

Dave beamed. “Thanks Dad. Maybe I could take us to town. We need … milk.”

“Maybe when you get your beginners. This is enough. Might as well enjoy the sand while we’re here.” Our Dad got out of the car.

We got out too. By the hotdog stand where two of the girls Dave had his eye on.

“Hi Dave,” the shorter of the girls waved and walked over. “Can you drive us into town again this afternoon?”

He scowled at her and glanced back at my Dad. “Hi Sally, this is my Dad.”

‘Oh! You taught Dave to drive great. He’s like a race car driver. He never misses a curve.” She ran her hand along her hip.

“I see.” My Dad’s eyes narrowed, as a thin smile played across his face. “You don’t say. Well, Dave why don’t you show me how you take those curves.” He pushed Dave gently back toward the car.

“Mike, you stay here till we get back.”

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every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Lying Loser Club

The Tingler

as a boy

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

not that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth.

but

No buts. Now go you lying loser.

to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

 

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to a movie I saw

where a sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs 

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called

 

a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes

 

so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth 

made no fucking difference

 

at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now was a lie

and that’s the truth

I love this piece. I love performing this piece even though I can’t wire the occasional seat with one of the vibrating motors Willam Castle used when The Tingler was first released. I had seen a little more I wrote this piece so the images of the film were clear in my mind. Vincent Price was in fine form. The effects were decent considering the state of the art of the times. The black & white photography allowed things to look more realistic.

The piece gives the essential plot of the centipede that appeared around the spine during moments of extreme fear. Though as a kid when I first saw The Tingler on a Saturday matinee I didn’t think it was factual. But as a kid I was a bad liar & a bad truth teller as well. Of course then I didn’t the moral quandary I have in the poem.

I did experience belittling language from teachers, other kids & my Dad. I’m sure teachers & my dad didn’t have malicious intent though but things like ‘do you want to be useless all your life’ that were meant to make me work, study harder had the opposite effect. The wanted to toughen me up but all they did was convince they were right.

My Dad was convinced that one of those useless things was my interest in horror magazines – actually he said those magazines were useless. It was short jump from useless magazine to useless me. I poured over every issue longing for those model kits of Godzilla pulling a train apart, of the Wolfman howling at the moon. I don’t know if I ever got one of those monster kits. For birthdays I did get given some balsa wood kits for model airplanes, plastic kits for cars but was useless at getting them put together. If I still had my old issues of Famous Monsters I could probably buy a house.

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Listen

Listen Closely

did you hear that

 

I heard something

while you were talking

a whisper hiding in your words

it was a sinister shush

but when you are silent

all I hear

is my own breath

 

can you hear breathing

down your neck

waiting for that something

you must hear it

it doesn’t come from you

that much I know

that’s why I have to listen closely

hear what it has to say

it comes from behind me

not from you

but with your words

 

sometimes

it moves a curtain

in a room 

where there is no curtain

 

shh did you hear that

 

you must have

it was so loud

like a book falling of the table

onto a cushion

like the soul

leaving the body

at the last breath

no don’t stop breathing

I can’t stand the silence

 

did you hear that

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Chapter LXVI – Lillian Makes Up Her Mind 

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to  paypal.me/TOpoet

Coal Dusters – Chapter LXVI

Lillian

Makes Up 

Her Mind 

Lillian unlocked the front doors to O’Dowell’s Sydney store. She bent over to pick up a few scraps of newspaper rear had blown into the corner. There was almost something caught in that corner. She left the door unlocked for the rest of the staff. She saw that Mr. Oakley, the store manager, was already there.

“Good morning Mr. Oakley.” She called out. “I’ll leaving the door open for the rest of the staff.”

She took of her gloves, then her hat as she walked up the stairs to her own private office on the second floor. It was a space in a back corner, reclaimed from the storage area on the second floor.

She had started working at the O’Dowell’s in New Waterford to pass the time. She explained to Clara that she wanted to learn the family business as she was now part of the family. Spending the winter days at their home hosting meetings of the various Women’s guilds that Clara was involved in didn’t appeal to her. 

In the new year she moved to Sydney and started working at the Sydney store. Supposedly to learn even more about the business but it was part of her plan to escape Cape Breton. Mrs. Franklin had managed to sell her property in New Castleton and had opened a new boarding house on Cottage Road in Sydney.

“Mrs. O’Dowell would you come down when you have a chance.” 

“Yes, Mr. Oakley.”

She quickly checked her hair and make-up in the mirror by the door of her office. She admitted the way the simple one-piece shift look both pretty and practical. She had convinced the other female clerks in the store that wearing what the store sold would sell even more. 

As she walked down to the first floor she could smell coffee perking. That had been another of her suggestions. Some of the Boston department stores had lunch counters. Even though the trade at O’Dowell’s wasn’t as brisk as Boston’s she decided it would a worthwhile ‘experiment.’ So far it had been breaking even.

“Good morning Miss Lillian.” Theresa, the counter girl curtsied as Lillian walked past her. “Here is your coffee.”

“Something is smelling good.” Lillian took a sip. “What is it today?”

“Thank you ma’am. That would be the ginger crisp.”

Lillian went to the door of Mr. Oakley’s office.

“You wanted to speak with me?”

Before he could say anything a voice from behind said. 

“Lillian I must speak with you.”

She recognized the voice immediately. “Not during working hours Uncle Patrick.” She replied without turning around.

“That’s quite alright Mrs. O’Dowell. We can discuss the Ladies Wear order later to day.”

She turned to face her uncle.

“Is there someplace more private we can talk.” He asked. “It is important or I wouldn’t have come here.”

Lillian knew that since the closure of the Castleton Mines the diocese had decided to close the church there so they wouldn’t have to replace her uncle when he left for Africa.

“We can go up to my office.”

Lillian’s office was so small there was only room for her desk and a chair for her behind it. Test rest of the room was shelving for goods and a file cabinet. There no place for anyone else to sit down.

She sat at her desk. “What is it?”

He took a document out of an inner pocket of his overcoat.

“I’ve done you a service.” He said. “You’ve been granted an annulment.”

“An annulment!”

“Yes. When I explain the circumstance of your marriage. That it was done without proper church requirements, that your husband died without the marriage being consummated the request for an annulment was granted.”

“I never requested this.” Lillian crushed the document in her hands. “My marriage stands. It will stand in a court of law. You know that very well. Steven’s lawyers ascertained that in probate.”

“Lillian, don’t you understand me. It frees you from any obligation you may feel to the O’Dowells. You are free to go back to Boston.”

“Boston.” She stood. “I have no intention of ever going back to Boston.”

“What keeps you here? It was clear when you arrived that you loathed this place, these people. I don’t see that has changed much. Is this your future?” He gestured at the office. “A struggling clothing store where you can be … what … queen? At least you arrived you had prideful ambitions for a bigger life.”

“Get out of here.” Lillian restrained from screaming at him. She realized that he was partially right. No matter what she accomplished at O’Dowell’s it would never be her home.

“Think about what I said Lillian.” He straightened out the decree of annulment. “All you have to do is sign it.”

“I said get out.” She came out from behind her desk.

He backed out of the office. “I’ll be leaving for the mainland this afternoon. The first step on my African adventure. I do have you to thank for that. If Miss O’Dowell hadn’t interceded with the Monsignor I may have remained trapped here as well.”

Lillian stood at the bottom of the stairs and watched as he left the store. Trapped! Was she trapped?

“He did what?” Mrs. Franklin handed Lillian the serving platter of scalloped potato.

“You heard me, he had my marriage annulled.” Lillian held the kitchen door open with her foot so Mrs. Franklin could pass through the to dining room with similar platter of pork chops.

They each placed their platters on the inning room table and took their places beside each other at the table. While the other boarders passed the platters around the table to help themselves Lillian continued.

“It’s as if I might have forget his action in the past.”

“What did he expect you to do?” Mrs. Franklin asked.

“He did realize that the marriage meant I was now a Canadian citizen. Steven’s death didn’t change that.”

“So you declined the offer.”

“Certainly. I also destroyed the document. Threw it in the furnace at the store. But he did say something that was worth while.”

“Ah.”

“Yes that he felt trapped here and was grateful his actions towards me resulted in him being set free.”

“Set free?”

“Of his obligations to the parish.”

“No one felt he was ever happy here, if you know what mean. Not that he was as unkind to others as he was to you but …”

“He didn’t make a home for himself here?”

“Exactly.”

“I am like him in that I way, Rose. I feel trapped here.”

In her room Lillian took out the leather binder that held her important papers. The Bank of Montreal’s white with blue cloth along the spine was the first thing she looked at. She checked it every night whether she had made a deposit or not. This was her money. It had grown over the months since Steven’s death. 

There was finally enough for her to make plans. It was time to leave. All she needed was to decide where. No, she would decide that when she was her way. The train to Halifax would start her journey. Once she was there she make further plans. 

The next morning at O’Dowell’s she informed Mr. Oakley of her decision to leave the store.

“This is rather sudden Mrs. O’Dowell.”

“I have been thinking on this for awhile and spring seems a good time to make such a move.”

“You’ve told Clara, I mean, Miss McDowell?” 

“I will this afternoon. We will be finalizing the plans for unveiling Steven’s memorial this Sunday. I hope to be leaving the following day.”

“Where do you plan to go?” Mr. Oakley asked.

“I’ll be discussing that with Clara as well. Until then I’ll keep that to myself.”

The meeting Clara, Mrs. Donaldson and Mrs Donaldson took place over tea at Mrs. Franklin’s. Once the unveiling plans had been discussed with them she took the opportunity to make her announcement.

“Ladies.” She loudly to get their attention. “Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Donaldson. I am deeply grateful for your concern and support over these past months. I feel I have a family here to replace the one I left in Boston.”

“Lillian …” Mrs. Murphy teared up.

“I know you will be happy to know that I have decided to bid you farewell.”

“You can’t mean you are going to leave us?” Mrs. Donaldson said.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision. I don’t think it’ll for long but I will be leaving. I’ve made some inquires and there are few places left in the next term at the Normal College in Truro. I shall go there to become a qualified to be a teacher for all your children.”

“Lillian!” Clara said. “What an excellent idea. I felt you were wasting your self in the store.”

“I won’t be leaving till after the unveiling of Steven’s monument.” she said.

“That’s an excellent plan.” said Mrs. Murphy. “I always knew you were a practical girl.”

Lillian took a tray of the used cups and saucers to the kitchen relieved that they had believed the half-truths she had told them. She had no intention of going the Normal College. Even if she did she would never come back to this place. Never.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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Ousmane Sembène

As I mentioned last week during September I watched a couple of amazing films by Senegalese writer/director Ousmane Sembène: Emitaï, Ceddo. I’ve also seen his Black Girl, a look black displacement & diasporia in France which I found predictable & so didn’t resonate with me. Emitaï, Ceddo were constantly surprising.

Both are set in Senegal & presented an Africa I was barely familiar with. I grew up with the Africa of Tarzan & countless white safari movies. The blacks were toters of luggage – often superstitious, cowardly and/or stupidly obedient. Also the men were usually stripped to the waist & given to wearing ceremonial tribal bones, feathers & the like when running through the jungle. Their lives were peripheral to story even when the story was about them.

Emitaï deals directly & mercilessly with French colonial attitudes & actions. When the villagers resist sending their sons to fight in WWII they are treated like children who don’t understand the right of the French to do what ever they want. When the village is also ordered to give all its rice to the war effort & refuses as it means they will starve they are treated like selfish children whose cultural values aren’t valid. 

The film shows their ordinary daily lives, their tribal religion & burial rituals as well as rice planting. All ordinary & all in direct relation to the land. They are more interested in maintaining their own dignity & families than they are in defending France against the Germans. I loved the scene where the native militia doesn’t understand how de Gaulle, a two-star general can over-rule Pétaina four-star general.

Ceddo deals with religious colonization with Islamic persecution of villagers who won’t convert. The class system, enforced as much by guns as history, is one that runs through many cultures. The disregard of other belief systems as illogical superstition is still one of the middle east’s bones of contention. The Christians aren’t much better mind you.

I was quickly drawn into each film & appreciated this ‘insider’s’ look at colonialism – cultural & religious – that wasn’t balanced by the need to appease either the French or the Islami. Both films are in native languages & maintained the rhythms of their everyday speech. The performances were excellent & I loved the music in Ceddo by Manu Dibango (Soul Makossa). I found the Ceddo soundtrack on iTunes 🙂

If you want to step out the confines of the usual film story-telling these are two films worth tracking down.

The Trade-Off

what I want

what it’ll cost

is that the price I’m willing to pay

is the sacrifice 

going to be worth the result

 

it is so unfair

why can’t I set the price

is that too much to ask

I’m willing to compromise

but when is enough enough

when can I say no

to what want to say yes to

when I think I’m losing 

more of myself 

to gain something I think I want

 

if my price was unreasonable

I’d understand

but they’re not reasonable

with their barriers of cost control

 

you can have this steak 

but you have to eat it with a spoon 

I suppose that’s possible

how can I say yes 

and no 

at the same time

say yes

I want what you offer

but not the conditions you offer it with

 

don’t forget

the cost of keeping it

will be greater

than the cost of giving it to me

who doesn’t want it

anymore

even for free

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet