SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

You asked for it, you got it.

Here it is friends. At the request of some very special people I have enclosed the prologue that you requested.

Sarcastically named – The World’s Greatest Prologue.

I have never posted my work on my blog so I’m a tad nervous. Most of all I do not like to take up a lot of your time. I try to keep the word count low whenever I post.

Unfortunately this thing runs about 1900 words give or take.

I’ve included pictures for your entertainment. If real life cookies were possible you’d have them too.

Please be honest. Shred it to bits. Do whatever you like. I can take it.

Enjoy.

 

 Greta, Eileen and a day at a funeral  (I just made this up)

Church

          A circle of friends and family gathered at a downtown Catholic Church in Eugene, Oregon. It was a bright and beautiful June morning, typical for this time of year. But it was a day poor Ed Blane would never see. If one were to ask his wife for details she would reply with a shaky voice and tear stained eyes that her loving husband of 41 years took his first steps to Heaven’s gate on a rainy Friday morning.

          Later that day, this would be the part where she would pause to collect herself, her dear Eddy opened the gate and joined the Lord in his beautiful cottage. She would look up from her war torn tissue, glance at a friend, a sister or maybe a daughter or two and wonder out loud how long it would take for her broken heart to mend.

          It’s common, I’m sure you would agree, to experience a breakdown or two soon after a loved one has passed. On the other side of this slippery coin an observer with a sharp eye and a keen memory might wonder where they had heard this dialog before? The Lords Cottage? First steps? Followed of course by lots and lots of blubbering. If the casual observer would have guessed a movie, let’s say 1946 for example; they would have won the lollypop prize. The prize winner would have learned that Mrs. Blane loved old movies and, now pay attention this is the good part, she loved repeating her favorite scenes in real life.

          Now I’m sure you’re wondering why a devoted wife of 41 years would have to pretend. Wouldn’t sadness and grief be a natural thing? Don’t we all mourn the passing of a loved one with tears and memories and in some cases denial? It could take months, maybe years or even a lifetime to recover from such a loss. A picture so pitiful one would be forced to quickly change the channel in hopes of forgetting such a scene.

          But this is Eddy we are talking about and in those 41 years good old Ed was consistent in only one thing: A giant pain in the ass.

          His death, courtesy of every damn cancer you could possibly imagine, was accepted by his dear wife with the same level of excitement a doughnut lover would embrace on National Doughnut Day. But remember, this bit of news is our little secret. Hush-Hush.

          Thirty five people gathered on that beautiful morning. A good showing for a quiet man such as Ed. Of the thirty five in attendance four of them actually missed him. His high-school buddy Earl, The Mayor, the Wal-Mart greater who always forgot his name tag and Mrs. Cutney. Who is Mrs. Cutney, you ask? Well that is a story for another time. Let’s just say good old Ed was not always a quiet man, especially when he was with Mrs. Cutney.

          Eileen and Greta sat in the far pew listening to the mayor speak. At 82 and 81 years respectively they sat close enough for their ears to hear but far enough away so their giggling gossip could not.

          Eileen and Greta grew up in the Valley. Old school chums they liked to say. They graduated from the local high-school, received degrees from the local college, with honors if you care to ask and married local men. While their husbands had long since passed their admirers, both friends and family had not. Their children were educated and employed in respectable professions, their husband’s money alive and well and their stomachs growling as the noon hour neared.

          “Oh dear,” Eileen whispered as her hungry stomach prepared itself for another round, “I do hope the mayor wraps this up. Why did they have to start so late?”

          “I agree,” Greta replied. “10:00 a.m. would have been perfect. 10:30 tops.”

          The two sat in silence, minus Eileen’s hungry stomach, waiting for Mayor Rohm to finish.

          “10:30 wouldn’t have worked,” Eileen noted. “It takes Mrs. Cutney half the morning to fix her hair and the other half to put her face on.”

          “You are so right, dear,” Greta giggled.

          Their heads slowly turned away from Mayor Rohm into the direction of Mrs. Cutney. A former college mate she was but far from being an old chum.

          “Could never keep her hands to herself,” Eileen noted.

          “Some habits never die,” Greta added.

          “What was that dreadful song the boys in school use to sing about her,” Eileen asked.

          “Oh dear, you would throw a bone at me.” Greta paused and pressed her index finger against her head and waited. It was an old trick her mother taught her and one that proved to work from time to time.

          “Cockle-Do,” Greta remembered.

          “Cockle what?” Eileen asked.

          Greta coughed lightly into her palm and slowly lowered her head to Eileen’s ear.

          “Cockle-Do, Cockle-Do, any Cockle-Do.”

          Eileen quickly raised her hand to her mouth and snorted. Greta followed with giggle fits of her own. For the other funeral gatherers who turned to the noise of giggles and fits their ears and eyes convinced them it was nothing more than two little ladies having an emotional moment over the loss of their dear friend.

          As the gatherers stood to sing ‘Be Thou My Vision’, Greta’s favorite by the way, it suddenly occurred to Eileen why all this suffering might be worth it. Sure, Ed was a nice guy. A sweet fellow if one were to ask but was he worth the pains one has to suffer? In this case, Eileen’s growling stomach.

          “Now I remember,” Eileen whispered.

          “Remember what, dear?” Greta asked as the song came to a close.

          “Mrs. Davenport is in charge of the cake.”

          “Really? What kind?’

          “Carrot cake,” Eileen whispered as her stomach prepared for another round.

          “She is the best,” Greta noted while pretending to ignore Eileen’s rumblings. “Remember last month when she was visiting her sister in Idaho? Poor Mrs. Shivers died and they had to find someone else to make the carrot cake.”

          “I missed that one.” Eileen lied. “Terrible cold. Who took over?”

          “Edith Thomback.”

          “No.”

          “If you ask her, she’s the best baker in town. Including her carrot cake.”

          “Greta?”

          “Yes, dear?”

          “I didn’t have a cold. I knew Edith was in charge.”

          “Relax dear. Your secret dies with me.”

          “Did you stay long,” Eileen asked.

          “I left after services.” Greta smiled. “I told Father I was coming down with a terrible cold.”

          “Oh, you.”

old lady

          Mayor Herbert Rohm Stood front and center proudly singing with the others. A handsome picture of Edward Blane sat to the mayor’s left while a decorate display of assorted wild flowers sat to his right.

          “Friends and family,” Mayer Rohm greeted as Be Thou My Vision completed, “It is a sad day whenever we say goodbye to a dear friend, but we must remember that this is a day of celebration. My good friend Eddy is dancing on the streets of heaven today. No longer is he wrecked with cancer. His pain and his fear are gone forever. Today is a wonderful day for him. It is his first week spent in our glorious heaven. Imagine that.”

          Mayor Rohm paused long enough for his words to sink in. His eyes stained with tears, his cheeks red, his forehead damp with perspiration. Mayor Rohm was a good man, an honest man serving his fourth term as Mayor of beautiful Eugene, Oregon. His voice carried weight and if he believed good old Eddy was doing the hustle on the corner of Heaven and Saints then you can bet your last quarter it was true.

          “Has he lost weight?”

          “Who?” Great asked.

          “Mayor Rohm.”

          “Oh good heavens, are you kidding?”

          Eileen gave Mayor Rohm another glance in case her eyes were fooling her.

          “Something about his face,” Eileen noted. “Maybe he’s eating more greens instead of meat?”

          “I would like to thank the Blane family,” Mayor Rohm concluded, “It was such a pleasure meeting you.”

          “He’s still as heavy as ever,” Greta noted. “He wouldn’t touch a salad if that was the only thing left in the room. I once gave him apples from our tree. Do you know what he did?”

          “What?”

          “He cut them into pieces and baked them in brown sugar.”

          “Yum.”

          Eileen’s stomach growled a little louder causing both women to glance at their watches.

“When I was informed of Ed’s passing,” the mayor continued, “I immediately thought of a story he once shared of the time he showed up at his nephew’s wedding wearing golf shoes instead of dress shoes. I swear he laughed until he cried whenever he told that story.”

          “Are you sure Ed didn’t die of boredom,” Eileen asked.

          “Shhhhh….”

          “Please join us in the reception hall,” the Mayor concluded. “Our wonderful volunteers have made a tasty lunch for everyone. If you have time we would love to see you.”

          Mayor Rohm stepped down from the podium and immediately embraced Mrs. Blane. Her daughters and friends looked on as Mayor Rohm’s strong arms consoled the fallen widow on a day none of us wish to see.

         From a distance a passerby may note what appeared to be a typical post funeral tradition: Handshakes, solemn expressions, tear stain faces and as always a respectable word or two. But if the curious passerby were to draw a little closer, let’s say an inch or two, they would notice a lack of tears and a lack of anything on the dearly departed widow. One word may come to mind when observing this lady all dressed in black, complete with gloves and shiny boots – Freedom.

          Ed’s wife turned to the loud ruckus that suddenly exploded behind her. Mrs. Cutney sat alone in a convenient spot located arm’s length from Ed’s daughters and friends. Mrs. Blane watched as Mrs. Cutney bawled until her well went dry. It didn’t take long to understand that her well might be an endless flow. Mrs. Cutney, you see, did very little in holding her emotions intact. So little in fact one might have to wonder if her actions were nothing more than good old fashion attention stealer.

          “Always has to steal the spotlight.”

          “And you’re surprised,” Greta asked.

          “Hardly.”

          Eileen and Greta shook their heads in disgust as Ed’s daughters, the Mayor, his high-school buddy Earl and the nameless Wal-Mart greeter comforted Mrs. Cutney in a circle of good gesture.   

“Right out of a high school play,” Eileen said.

          “Nicely directed,” Greta added. “I see all the bit parts are being used properly.”

          Greta and Eileen delayed their exit while Mrs. Cutney was carefully escorted to the nearest exit. The nameless Wal-Mart greeter and Earl had struck up a conversation in what appeared to be the beginnings of a beautiful friendship. Now that Ed was gone an opening was in desperate need to be filled. As for Mrs. Blane? Well, that’s a very good question, let’s just say she walked alone.

ladies

         

 

37 thoughts on “SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

  1. Thank you for posting your great prologue, Bryan. As always, your Spontaneous Friday post gives my Friday some entertainment. I wouldn’t want these two old ladies talking about me at my funeral, but I’d love to hear their observations on everyone else. It’d be hilarious 😊.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bryan, I’m at the part where the carrot cake is introduced. A couple quick notes now so I don’t forget later.

    First, Paragraph 3 is where the story turns unique, special to me — stands out from all the other stories I’ve read about funerals, etc.

    Second, just before the carrot cake dialog, I realized I wanted to read more than you’ve posted here. I want to read a novel about these two old ladies — their friendship, their jokes, and especially both their knowledge and observations of their community.

    Next, I grew up in a small town — as did you — you have nailed it! Nailed the kind of gossiping that goes on incessantly in small communities where everyone but the outcast town atheist knows everything about everyone, updated hourly — and he knows just about everything.

    A suggestion. In your novel — and I hope you will write one — about Eileen and Greta, please, please turn them pro. Reveal they are professional funeral goers! Not just people they know — every funeral they can attend, they do attend. Connoisseurs of fine and exquisite funerals. Please, please, please consider turning them pro!

    Last for now, my mother used to say, “Our town is nothing but gossips and gossiping, but almost every citizen gossip just wants to know what’s going on. That’s all they gossip for — to know what’s going on. Ain’t but two or three truly malicious gossips in the whole town.”

    Use or discard as you see fit.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ok, Bryan, now comes the part no author ever wants to hear. I’m only telling you this out of respect for your plea for honesty. Now comes my insufferably honest opinion of your prologue’s greatest weakness. But first, no one knows better than I do that I could be wrong.

    That said, you absolutely got the two old dears true to life. They are real people you’ve turned into accurate words. I grew up with Elieen and Greta. At least a dozen Elieens and Gretas that I knew well enough to know details and details about.

    By the way, before I forget, I offer my services because of the favor you recently did me — I offer to email you with two or three true and astonishing anecdotes of gossip in a small town — colorful details if you want to make use of them in your novel. Just let me know if you’re interested.

    Back to work. The question as I see it is this: Do you want Eileen and Greta to be no more than true people, or do you want them to be stand out people? People no reader will ever forget? People readers want to identify with. Not just observe, but identify with?

    If you want the latter, then in my opinion, you need to fine tune the two. You need to make a small, but absolutely KEY change.

    If you want the latter, you have got to make them as non-judgmental as you plausibly can.

    Don’t lose their sense of humor. But turn their humor as non-judgmental as you can. For example, Cutney. They can still say what they said about her. But add at the end something to indicate they feel empathy for her.

    “Poor Cutney. She’s always getting her heart broken. And for no better reason than she doesn’t hold herself in enough esteem not to cling to men. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Saw that coming back in high school. Do you remember Greta? I called it back in high school.”

    Sorry about the lame prose, but I hope my point.

    Bryan, if those two are going to lead a novel, then they have got to be people the reader wants to identify with. Who on earth wants to identify with judgmental old ladies? Wickedly funny old ladies, YES. But Sweet, wickedly funny old ladies.

    End of your beating! No more beatings for a week!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Just to make certain my clumsy words got at my meaning, make the lady’s have tongues as deadly as charging knight’s 18 foot lances — but give them deep down kind hearts.

        But for god’s sake don’t take my advice unless you yourself are convinced it’s useful. Honestly, I’m usually wrong about these things.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed reading this homeless prologue! I think the first four paragraphs can be condensed so we get to the good stuff. I like that they are judgmental, old ladies. (Yes, I know that conflicts with another comment.) We already have a stereotype of a sweet, old lady in our heads, so to mess with that stereotype . . . wonderful!

    Be careful with punctuation errors like:
    Mayor Rohm concluded. (Period, not comma, in that instance.)
    And typos like:
    Greta said. (not Great said.)

    The second person POV in the 3rd and 4th paragraphs was awesome. Made it even more fun to read.

    I actually laughed out loud. These two old ladies are gems. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, tons of spelling mistakes. This is a very raw first draft. That’s why I was so hesitant to post it. I knew mistakes were in there. Thank you for your feedback. They were a lot of fun to write.

      Like

  5. I love that you open with a narrator in your voice. You have a great way of presenting your characters through vivid descriptions. And contrary to some, I love that your two MC are gossips, every character needs a flaw and this is certainly theirs, it also brings comedy to the story.
    I hope they make it into a bigger piece someday. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lorraine – Thank you. They entertained you and you enjoyed the story. This tells me a lot. I’m not sure where I’m going with this but I do need to turn this into a much larger story with them being in the center. I really appreciate the time you took.

    Like

  7. I enjoyed your prologue Bryan – you titillated us with the town gossip and gave us a pair of giggling girlfriends, Eileen and Greta, who made me smile with their banter and cattiness. It was an enjoyable read and now I want to know why Mrs. Blane walked out alone. Was she going over to confront the hot-to-trot Mrs. Cutney? My neighbor buried her husband and tripped off to the casino later that day … not much love lost with his passing either it seemed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I wonder if Mrs. Cutney entered your neighbor’s life? 🙂

    I am happy you enjoyed it. I’ve got so many ideas for those two. I’ll have to decide on one and that may be the biggest challenge of all.

    Like

    1. Hi Rene. Thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time. They were easy to write. There was something about them. I was raised by my grandparents so I had lots of great-aunts. That probably helped. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Very nice! I loved Greta and Eileen ❤ they sound amazing. I feel a little bad for Mrs. Blane though. Even though she might be relieved this whole ordeal can't have been easy! I hope she becomes friends with Greta and Eileen haha I think they would be good for her

    I'm glad you shared this!

    Liked by 1 person

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