Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Charlie's Ring

As my grandmother lay dying, she handed me a box. It was a ring box, cheap and felt-lined.  She was sitting in her wheelchair, her mobility mostly gone due to diabetes. Her hands were cold, as they'd been of late. I had given her a muff to keep her hands warm and I wondered if she was using it.

Inside the ring box was, of course, a ring. It had a minuscule diamond in the center of a square piece of onyx. I'd never seen this before. I knew that she loved dolls and was very familiar with her doll collection and how much it meant to her. We'd recently had to put much of her stuff into storage, including many of her dolls. I had bought for her years ago a hardware-store quality components box which she delighted in using as her jewelry box. I had the same one full of resistors and wire, but she put chains and bracelets into hers.

I didn't recognize the ring from that box (which I'd recently packed and put into storage). The diamond was tiny. Worthless, really, since I knew then as I do now that diamonds are worth no money and that paying for a diamond is like paying for compost. But it was old, I could tell that. The onyx wasn't polished, the style old and plain.

I put the ring on my finger, and it nearly fit my middle one on my right hand (on left it rubbed weird against my wedding band).

"Thank you," I said. "What for?"

"It belonged to my father. I want you to have it."

I turned it around a few times on my hand before returning it to the box. It didn't fit quite right, but it was simple, which I liked.

My grandmother died soon after.  Before she did, she told me her father's name was Charlie. So I always called it Charlie's ring. Great-grandfather's ring sounded pretentious.

I wore it rarely. Mostly for company parties, when such things existed. Lately it resided in its box inside my wife's jewelry box inside our closet.

That would be the same closet that was ransacked by a thief last Thursday, on Pi day. The thief took all the jewelry save a few scrap pieces. But he (she? is this a time to be gender neutral?) took the box with the ring, along with my deceased uncle's watch, along with irreplaceable pieces that belonged to my wife, and some crap electronics that I hope he can't sell ever because he forgot to swipe their chargers.

The ring was entrusted to me by my grandmother, whom I dearly miss despite all her flaws. When the ring was taken from me, it brought up feelings of loss that I couldn't comprehend until recently. The ring itself is worthless. The memory is priceless. I won't let him take that from me.

Grandma, I miss you. I'm sorry I lost your ring. I won't lose you, no matter what. I promise.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Back in the halcyon days of aught five, I self-published "Vignettes," a short collection of 17 very short stories. That was back before CreateSpace, so when I say I self-published I mean I published it all by myself, every aspect of it.  After writing the words I created a book in OpenOffice, had my friend who worked for a printer company print out the pages and cardstock for the cover, and then I stapled each one together. The minute details can be found here on my old blog.

I had always wondered whether I should attempt a second volume, but I've never felt the drive, or an appropriate theme. The first theme was First Names and Friends. The style was very early reader, but often with a sardonic (and adult) twist.

The motivation to create a second volume has finally struck me. Like the first volume, it took a learning reader to inspire me (My daughter, in this case). The theme this time around is Alphabet Puns (so far). The first story can be read here (and I'll post the list of them as they come out on the sidebar). This time it's open-ended. I'll write them when I feel like it, and I'll stop when I'm done. I'm not soliciting names or story ideas this time around, but I won't refuse considering any if you feel like contributing.

A Vignette

A is for Ally

At the end of the alley, Ally turned around to face the armed one-armed man.

"Give me all you money," the armed one-armed main demanded gruffly.

"Sure!" said Ally.  She handed over $17 plus a small pile of change.  "And please, no need to be gruff."

"That's it? I don't believe you."  He cocked his gun (a 9mm SportsMart midnight special, Ally noted) and pointed it right at her head--gruffly.  "The rest of it."

"That's all," said Ally cheerily and started to walk away, her designer shirt and emasculate hair gently swishing behind her.

The armed one-armed man kept his gun pointed to her head.  "You gotta be rich, kid. Dressed like that."

Ally pulled something from a deep pocket in her silver-lined hoody.  The armed one-arm man fixed his aim at her.  But then she began munching on a carrot.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Eating a carrot. I only barter in carrots.  And lettuce.  Sometimes broccoli.  Asparagus, but only in Spring.  Want one?"  She tossed him a garden-fresh organic carrot.

Warily, he set the gun down, picked up the carrot, and munched it.  "Not bad," he said.

"I'm glad you like it," said Ally. "It's you last meal."

Before the unarmed one-arm man could pick up is gun, Ally broken nearly every bone in his body and left him for dead.  With his penultimate breath, he picked up the gun and fired at her, but no bullet exploded no matter how many times he pulled the trigger.

Ally, exhausted, ate three more carrots on her way to work: SportsMart. On her break, she always poured the powder out of the new shipments of bullets and used it for fertilizer in her garden.

~286 words