Getting Smacked in the Face by Censorship in Today’s Society

Over the years I’ve read about censorship with books, from the Nazis burning books, to various other books being banned throughout our country for various reasons. Books, like Harry Potter and Maya Angelou’s ‘Why the Caged Bird Sings’.  Books that were banned for their content, for no other reason than the content made someone uncomfortable.

But I thought in our ‘enlightened’ time of free speech (though I have seen plenty of instances where even that right is protested by the youth of today…) that censoring books was gone. Don’t get me wrong, I have had people gasp that I read and like Harry Potter, yet they are perfectly okay with The Lord of the Rings……. crickets chirping…….. really people, there is no difference other than J.R.R. Tolkien was a catholic…   I never thought I would run into ‘hiding books’ because they were a certain kind of book.

Last week I wrote about my book display the librarian allowed me to set up, see the post Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys, and how the prudish women volunteers (yes, I am going to call them that even if the title hurts) were uncomfortable with romance books being set up on a table that had, in the past, been used in the children’s section. See the display made them uncomfortable…….

Censorship at its best all starts with someone being uncomfortable.

‘I don’t like what that book is about’,  ‘I don’t want to read about racism in our country’,  ‘I don’t like hearing about childhood rape’, ‘Sorcery is a bad thing, children can’t read about that’, I don’t have a romantic life, I don’t want to read about romance and possibly hot sex’……..  The last line is my own addition to what I feel might be the root of the problem in my case. Am I trying to be mean? No, just making an assumption. Because not wanting romance sitting out where everyone can see it, (Come on people, children are oblivious to A LOT!) says to me that you have a more psychological problem with sex and romance.  Which is rather ironic in my mind because I can bet you, had I put a display of Shakespeare’s plays out, no one would have said a thing.  Or maybe a display of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck, who are considered some of our greatest writers who wrote about love and sex! I’m sure a display of those would have been fine.

Again, it goes back to one’s perceived discomfort with something. As a whole, people don’t want to be around something that makes them uncomfortable. We avoid it and try to stay as far away from it as possible. As a voracious reader, one whom the volunteers at the library have dubbed ” one of our best customers”, I have read my fair share of things that have made me uncomfortable.  Eli Wiesel’s ‘Night’ comes to mind as a book I highly recommend and everyone should read it, but it gave me nightmares and a case of depression for weeks.  See, the things that tend to make me uncomfortable tend to deal with the sufferings of mankind. Not a sexy bed scene. Sure, I have read graphic murders in a mystery book— won’t read about that again— and some sadistic sorcerer murders in another young adult book — definitely won’t read that again— but that’s all you do. You put the book down.

You say, “Oh, I can’t read this anymore.” You don’t go out and try to ‘burn’ all those books you don’t want to read. You don’t tell someone they can’t read such and such because it makes YOU uncomfortable. You just deal. Life is about dealing with uncomfortable things, not letting them define you, but realizing that they are out there.

There will always be books that are going to make you uncomfortable, and books you don’t want to read.  That is your choice. Your freedom. But it is also the freedom for others to read those same books and for you to not tell them they can’t.

CensorshipNow my display was ‘ruined’ and the attitude of those involved with removing the display and the librarian compromising to the point of a form of censorship, is not okay. Granted the books are still out, albeit, high on the top shelf where no child could, gasp, reach them, but still….. Children are going to be confronted with romance books. Go to any grocery store and, gasp, the romance books are where children’s books are. The grocery store isn’t going to hid the adult books from kids. And we are not talking porn magazines and such.

This image was borrowed from Melville House, where it illustrates an article  if you click on the image. garydrobson.com

Romance, love, sex, are all part of life…… uh and the reason we have kids…..   Hiding it in itself is childish.

Again, I will clarify the fact that I kept the more questionable romances in the back of the library, I.E. Fifty Shades, etc. But to remove the other normal ones from any child’s eyes is so ridiculous. Again, it is showing your issues.

People tell me to keep fighting, Mims and Shala, thank you, and others, Dona, who understand my not wanting to offend people. My first post/rant was not posted on Facebook because I’m connected to the librarian and others that are part of the library. But as someone reminded me today, none of these volunteers cared about offending me. SO this is one post that is going up on Facebook because this is a bigger issue than just my feelings getting hurt or my display and ideas being moved.

Censorship is clearly alive and well, unfortunately so. And there is a good chance you will find that in rural areas people’s ideas and beliefs trump the right o read what we please without interference.

Not that anyone has ever stopped me from reading whatever the heck I want, but I don’t need to be judged by it either.

Oh, and the whole point of the library is to encourage people, not just children, to read, including books that have been banned……….

Kate

“Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys”

13406986_10153566220727371_623513095724235842_nA few weeks ago I came across this statement. I fell in love with it and it has become entirely too applicable in my life. Today I was brutally slapped with it again as I had to deal with some craziness that while affected me, was not my circus. Thank God. I can walk away.

I have had this idea since last year while watching Paris When It Sizzles, a favorite Audrey Hepburn movie. I mean, I seriously love this film. And I got this idea for my local library. What about ‘Summer When It Sizzles’ for a book theme where you pull off all the romances and steamy books and trashy romances….  okay, not super trashy, but heck, even a few Harlequins have some ‘bodice ripper’ style covers. It is what it is and hey, the library has them on their shelves. It’s not like I would insert naughty books. Heck, the Fifty Shades of Grey books are right there.

So I talked it over with the librarian this year. I thought, heck, while the kids are having their summer reading program, the adults can have a fun “summer sizzling’ kind of reading program. Nothing fancy, just all the romance are pulled out and showcased. Up on shelves with little cut out tidbits of  ‘something steamy in here’ or “sweet romance’  or ‘a classic romance’. See?  Simple.

The librarian loved it. She even said, she would pull out one of the extra kids tables and set it up by the door for me to set up the display. I was even wishing I had some red fabric for a Valentines-y look.  I was tempted to cut out hearts.  And I like to think the librarian was excited for this display because the day before the first of July, when we were going to set it up, she made sure I was coming in to do it and seemed super excited.

So, I set it up. You can see my display.

July 1st rolled by and we got a laugh when she had to hunt for a book that I had pulled out to showcase and she had to switch labels…..

The the holiday came…….

Then today.

I walk into the library with my stack of due books and before I barely get in the door, one of the volunteer ladies immediately tells me that they didn’t think it was appropriate that the children’s table had been used for ‘those kinds of books’ so they put them all back in the library and set up children’s books instead, and oh, would I call the librarian.

Fortunately the librarian was trying to catch me before I was slammed with the switch.  But I would have liked her to have maybe stood up for me a bit. I mean, I had spent two hours making the labels and wording for the sign, and another hour setting up the display. And good grief, what? The table is not specifically a ‘children’s table’ but just a small table in the kid’s section.  I didn’t know that kids could get an STD by picking up a romance novel…… which they can check out and the librarian cannot stop them (I should know, I worked in the library and when I saw a 12 year old check out Hannibal, I was shocked but couldn’t do a darn thing about it….)

The shock and horror that was in the volunteer woman’s tone was like I was this awful bad person.  Yet, aren’t we supposed to be promoting reading? At a library?  And aren’t romances part of the library? And a lot of them? And Fifty Shades made the rounds.  And yes, I’ve read some of it.  (Personally I find it terrible writing. I’ve read much better erotica in my time, but I digress)

The point being was, how petty can you be? How utterly childish and prudish can you be?  Now, I’m not naming names because I plan on sending this to a few friends who know these people, but my gosh.

This is where I say, not my circus, not my monkeys.  You can go take your own GD monkeys and well….. I’ll leave the option up to you.  Needless to say I was not happy. In fact, I was kind of fighting tears later this afternoon because honestly, one day. The display was up one day with the Librarian’s permission and people got upset.  Emma was one of the titles for pete’s sake!

It reminds me of Marian the Librarian from The Music Man (modern version best)

Professor, her kind of woman doesn’t belong on any committee.
Of course, I shouldn’t tell you this but she advocates dirty books.

Harold:
Dirty books!

Alma:
Chaucer

Ethel:
Rabelais

Eulalie:
Balzac!

OMG! Dirty books! I mean, who knew that Emma and Emilie Loring books were dirty?

And this is one reason I don’t get terribly involved with the library. And this is one reason why younger people don’t get involved with the library. It’s having to deal with anyone over the age of 55….. and their lack of , well lack of a lot.

Is this a rant? You bet it is. It hurt. And am I going to let it go? Yep. But seriously, this is the last time I bring up an idea to the library.

Kate

That’s Not Hay in My Hair – A Review

that's_not_hay_in_my_hair_bookThat’s Not Hay in My Hair by Juliette Turner takes you from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the wide open spaces of one of our largest states, Texas. Jules and her mom have made New York City their home, but that’s all about to change for 12-year-old Jules.  They are about to move back to her mom’s hometown and a 300-acre ranch in Texas. Complete with dogs, horses, and longhorns big enough to take out a small car.  From tiny apartments and busy streets, to open land as far as the eye can see, we travel from the bustle of the Big apple to the open skies of Texas, a big switch for a ‘city girl.’  But Jules learns to adapt with her mom at her side and her cats, dogs, and sweet horses at her side.  There is tragedy, but one learns the circle of life on a ranch and that sometimes friends/pets, don’t last forever, but it’s okay. That’s Not Hay in My Hair is a fun look at how your life can change in the country and is a sweet story for a young girl.

Juliette Turner and her mother, actress and author, Maggie Turner

Juliette Turner and her mother, actress and author, Maggie Turner

I was quite excited to read this book because it sounded hilarious in the description. I had also been expecting this book to be about high school, but instead, it is actually for middle grade and even a bit younger. Juliette Turner is a 17-year-old author, daughter of Maggie Turner, who is known for being an author herself and staring on Northern Exposure in the late 80s. While the book is sweet and great for a young girl, I found it to be filled with too many gasps, exclamations, dramatic pauses, and just a tad too much in the expressions. Something I might expect from a young author. 17 is a very young age to be authoring. (this is coming from someone who writes herself and has been writing since age 14. Dramatic moments pepper my earlier writings quite liberally)  So while I applaud any young author, I am a bit critical about the style of the work. I was a little lost as to whether this was a semi-autobiographical novel as the storyline seems a bit similar to Miss Turner’s life. I had been expecting total fiction, but when I read the bio for the author and most of it matches up with the book, I was left wondering if it was a glorified retelling of one’s life.  I think Miss Turner needs to wait a few more years and learn a bit more about life before her writing matures. She has the capacity to write good fiction, but needs to read a lot more and live a few more years learning about life to tone down the excitement of her writing. I do also have to say that I do believe the only reason this book was possibly published was because Miss Turner and her mother are relatively famous. It gave her an edge to have a published book at such a young age.

Not great fiction, but clean and decent. Since I have a rating system of 1 to 5 stars and I can’t really give it a half star on Amazon, I’ll stick with three, but I think it is a little less. Decent and clean enough for a young girl, and I might have liked it at 12, but not the greatest fiction in the world.

This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christiona Publishing, and BookLookBloggers for my honest review. I was in no way compensated for my opinion.

Kate

I Don’t Have A Writer’s Ritual

I do not have any daily writing rituals, though I do find that after lunch I will grab my pen, and whatever notebook that has struck my fancy for the time being, and go off to do whatever needs to be done in the hopes that inspiration will strike. It rarely does as I hang laundry, water something, do dreaded vacuuming, or hand washing my delicates. It’s most predictably the afternoon that I have my notebook and I’m lost or feeling lost if I don’t have the opportunity to jot something down. Rarely does anything ever go in the notebook du jour, but I feel more opportunistic if it is there.

My one writing habit that has become and is predictable for almost five months now is writing every Saturday morning with a group of ladies, or just one, depending on who shows up at the library. I only write for about a  half an hour, but I feel most productive with that short period of time. I know it will be completely uninterrupted and I can scribble as fast as I want and not have to worry about anyone calling for me. The ideas that get churned out in those brief thirty minutes leave me amazed, though I rarely write something that connects to anything else. In the five months I have started a lot of story ideas, and some have gone on to occupy two or three Saturdays, but then they get set by the wayside or forgotten.

I’m reading this book from the library about artists and their lives and what kind of made them create. Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, takes a look at artists of all walks; sculptors, composers, painters, filmographers, and yes, writers.  From Mozart to P.G. Wodehouse. These artists have interesting and unique rituals that helped them through the day.  And the recurring theme seems to be plenty of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and even amphetamines for several.  Lack of sleep, plenty of walks, and yes, someone else to do the laundry. (I seriously want someone else to do the laundry and cleaning and cooking. How can I create when I have life to do that takes up more time than it should?  Where is Sven!????

Normal 'ship' Terri MainThat being said, the book is insightful.  Clearly I’m not as crazy as I thought I was, because some of these people are.  Granted, normal is all relative, but there is weird, then there is just stark raving mad.  I jest, some, because I actually can understand the plight of some of these writers and artists.  I like to write late at night when the world is asleep.  I carry notebooks with me wherever I go. I jot down things on random scraps of paper that clutter up my space and I’m so organized that right at this moment, I’ve lost one of my favorite fountain pens and I don’t even know where to start.  Clutter and mayhem are somewhat a prerequisite for being artistic…. depending of course on whether or not you have OCD or not. I have my moments, but they tend to range from making sure the copper pots are shiny (who cares if there is a pile of dishes) to getting that one spot off of the wall.  Don’t ask, I don’t get it.

Rituals can either make or break a writer I think.  I think it all depends on the person in question.  I don’t thrive on rituals, other than maybe having at least 2 cups of coffee in the morning. But I have to be flexible.  I have learned to take the moments I can get them…. like right now on a Sunday I’m writing in  a very weird place but it’s quiet and I cannot be bothered.  I won’t tell you where it is.

But I’m learning my rituals are to take time when I can.  Maybe if I ever make it as a writer I can create my own weird ritual, but for now I’ll leave it to the pros.

I do recommend Daily Rituals by Mason Currey.  The book is fascinating and you can read little blips here and there. Like short stories.  Check it out. As an artist, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

 

Kate

“Release the Dragons” – Flash Fiction

Jack’s study is wallpapered in a  1940s paper that features a lot of Van Dyke brown and golden apples. It’s a bit fuzzy and feminine, but because of the browns, it retains enough masculinity that Jack can deal. Had the papering been in roses and pinks, he would have torn it off long ago.

There are bottles of scotch lined up on a shelf, specialty types and expensive, and they add to the ‘his study’ vibe, at it really is all Jack. The rest of his house might be feminine, considering it’s his wife’s domain, but thankfully the study is all his. Down to the strange decorations on his wall; African masks and Native American spears, cigar boxes tucked into the book shelves, stacked books, a messy desk, dim interior. The study is Jack. Jack and the study are one.

The scent of the room is warm. Not so much as musty, but dust has a warm smell, and the crammed interior leads to there being more dust than might be in the rest of the house. Jack’s wife gave up on trying to keep his study neat and tidy. A little dirt never hurt anyone.  The books are new smelling, with glue and fresh paper and ink, but there are also older books. Books with yellowed pages and spicy with age. Leather covers with the warm and sharply metallic scent from the leather. There is a leather chair, worn from years of Jack sitting in it to their dogs  claiming as their own. An open cigar box smells of the sharp resinous smell of Spanish cedar and the unburned smell of tobacco. There is a warmth and coziness to the room and it is homey feeling without the pretentious feeling that it needs to be homey.

It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon and Jack is enjoying a small glass of scotch while he reads the latest historical book  on the Second World War. He has a great love of that particular war and has too many books on the subject. His wife, Sadie, is baking cookies in the kitchen and there is the warm smell of vanilla and burned sugar when the back door buzzer goes off, startling Jack.  The damn thing sounds like a fire alarm buzzer, it’s about as dramatic as one, and his three grandsons get a huge delight ringing the thing.

Jack sighs as he hears the trampling feet and voices garbled into a cacophony of sound. There seems to be a barking dog in the midst as well.

“Release the dragons,” Jack mutters as the heard of grandsons, a new dog, and a friend from school all pile into the hallway outside his door. He hails them, downs the rest of his scotch and slowly gets up.

Saturdays are for his grandsons even if they are about as disciplined as a herd of dragons.

 

I was complimented on how I describe a room and write it out recently. I think I have to give that credit to Zane Grey and Emilie Loring, whose work has inspired interiors and exteriors enough that I like writing about spaces. I want to have you, the reader, picture it in your head like I describe, but I realize each of us is different. Ah, one can dream.

So, for now, enjoy this snippet of flash fiction.

Kate

Gossamer Wings and Bathing Selkies – Flash Fiction

It’s gossamer wings he sketches with a bright, brand new No. 2 pencil. Airy, delicate things attached to her frame. As she stands poised over the water, in a modest bathing suit, cherry red, and a red bathing cap, she’s from another age as she prepares herself for the cold punch into the mountain lake. For now, she’s warm on the granite rock, but the lake is fed by snow melt.

But as he sketches her, she’s a fairy, unreal and a pixie. She’s not just ready to leap into the water, but standing on a lavender bloom poised to take flight. His fingers smudge the oily pastels into the paper, spreading the fantasy as reality, with a whoop suddenly dives into the clear water.

He pauses for a moment, his fingers hovering over the paper as she surfaces, laughing and gasping. He’s tempted to grab another blank page and sketch in a selkie as she glides seal-like through the water. If only his muse would hold still, he might be able to capture the magic in her.

I pulled the prompts Gossamer, lavender, No. 2 Pencil, and yellow this last weekend at the writing group. Mel said this was a pretty good use of the prompts.  I think I’m inspired by Celtic stories still, hence the selkie. For those curious, the film Ondine with Colin Farrel is marvelous for the selkie tale.  And when I was picturing the fairy wings, I was thinking of Cicely Mary Barker‘s fairies. I’ve always loved them.  And old fashioned bathing suits from the 20s.  I had this vintage poster image in my head, but I’m not even sure it’s real. It’s funny how you can imagine something you think you’ve seen, but you’re not sure it’s real or made up.

PAD Day 12 – Serious/Silly – When We Were Young and Silly

Could there be anything more perfect than bookshelves full of books? Only being in a story that is crammed full, with all the nooks and crannies. One of the isles of the Ashland Book Exchange.

Good Wednesday morning allI! I was in Ashland, Oregon yesterday and while there I stopped in at The Book Exchange, a marvelous used bookstore, and one place I feel I must stop when I visit there. It doesn’t hurt that it’s kind of like a cave. I wish I would have taken pictures, but if anyone goes onto the website, you can see the interior. Or see the one picture above from their site.

While I didn’t find the second and third Outlander novels, nor Alice Through the Looking Glass, which was what I was hunting for, I did walk out with two other books I have been hunting for, for quite a while.  A.A. Milne‘s “When We Were Young” and “Now We Are Six“; two marvelous little books of nonsense and children’s poetry. Though honestly, some of it is so relevant to being an adult since I can now understand some things I didn’t as a child.

They were especially fun to find as they fit with the prompt for Day 12 of PAD – write a silly poem or write a serious poem. I think honestly they are not quite silly, nor not quite serious, but kind of in between.  So I hope you enjoy.

 

 

When We Were Young and Silly

I’m reading something silly in an A.A. Milne book
It’s rather sweet and charming with an old-fashioned look.
When we were young, but now we are six, is how it goes,
Those ages when life was simple and free as time flows.
Daisy teas and acorn cups, and rivers of milk and honey,
Of sandbox cakes so fancy, when time was warm and sunny.
The years were endless, time moving like a slippery snail,
Trudging through the months, waiting for Christmas without fail.
Now we are many more years than six could ever be,
I miss the simple and the silly in all the things I’d see.

And……

Bookstore Ghosts

The bookstore whispers in a somber note
of authors past and living ghosts.
Though the bustling of active sales
the quiet pervades each nook and fades.
A creaking floor alludes to others there
a turn shows there’s no one anywhere.
Each book calls you to touch and linger
to find those stories that are matches to tinder.
Burning you up with magic between pages;
how could black words on white make such changes?
Your life is not yours as you leave with ghosts,
Stacked up in tomes filled with dusty motes.

Ah, I think it turned out pretty good in the scope of things. I’m happy with it. And I was excited to be in Ashland, even if Mr. B was like one of the most impatient guys ever while I was in the bookstore. I could have easily spent an hour or three there.

Kate

On The Persian Rug – Flash Fiction

tumblr_mxqu06swUg1t5bhezo1_500He found her lying on the Persian rug in the old library. The late afternoon sun shone in through the tall windows creating rectangles of brightness on the old red and gold rug. She lay there in her green sweater and low rise jeans, worn so soft they moulded to her every curve. Her sweater, a bright leaf green, had ridden up revealing the shadowed indentation of her navel and a two-inch strip of smooth and toned abs.

Her dark hair was spread out in a fan around her head; a halo  of night. In her right hand, resting between the curved mountds of her breasts, she clutched her small, black mp3 player. The earbuds were in and she was tapping her tennis shoes in rhythm. Her eyes were closed, but occasionally her velvety lips moved as she lip synced.

He was amused as he watched her, so relaxed, lying flat on the floor. He round an arm chair and sank into the red velvet seat to wait for her to finish out whatever she was listening to. He wasn’t in any hurry. The day was done for him and there was something relaxing and soothing about watching her spread out on the floor.

It was a quarter hour longer till she stopped her toe tapping. He had just settled fully into the seat, readying himself for a nap when she sighed and took the earbuds out and opened her eyes.

She tipped her head back and saw him watching her with a slow grin.

“How long have you been there?” her husky voice asked.

“Not long.”

“Why didn’t you let me know you were here?”

“Because. I like watching you.”

She turned a slight shade of rose pink, but didn’t answer as she tried to gracefully sit up and wrap the wires around her player.

“Shall we go get dinner?” He asked as he grabbed her hand to pull her up.

“Okay,” she replied and they walked out of the old room, her arm tucked into his, leaving the golden rectangles to shift and fade as the sun slowly sank.

“I’m very afraid of dying.” – Flash Fiction

Just a little piece I wrote in today’s writing group. I had the prompt of Bossa Nova, mulberry, and page 157 which in Paul Coelho’s book , The Devil and Miss Prym, gave me the title of the piece.

The atmosphere of the room is smoky and dim as he sits in the worn leather chair sipping a glass of port. The port is aged and thick. Richer than mulberry jam spread on toast. The rich sounds of a bossa nova song come crackling out of the old speakers. The crackle is either from the scratched record or the ancient stereo. Who knows, and nobody cares. The music needs the static to tone down the oppressive beat, the trumpets hitting too high a note here and there.
“I’m very afraid of dying,” he says conversationally, to no one in particular.
The younger man, sitting opposite him sipping his whiskey eyes him with an arched brow.
“You are going philosophical? How much port have you had?” the young man asks. He’s not really young, but forty to his sixty seems practically juvenile.
“Phil, when you get to be my age, you’ll get it,” the man says.
“And what brought this on?” asks Phil.
The man sighs. Even he’s not sure. Maybe he has had too much port. Or maybe seeing his friend go through so many treatments only to waste away until nothing is left but skin and bones and pain and sorry. Till your mind gives up and one day you just don’t wake up.
Phil can’t understand. He’s never had to lose someone. Never hardly been sick.
Just wait till your sixty, thinks the man. Heck, wait till you’re fifty and you can’t get out of bed each morning without everything hurting. No, young people just don’t get it.

 

My parents always talk about how when you reach fifty it’s all down hill.  Boris said he felt it at 48. Honestly, at times I feel like I’m already feeling it, but I am dreading getting older. And other than that, this is just something that came out of the prompts. Nothing more.

Kate

Under The Clock Towers – Flash Fiction

clock tower

Circus Lane, Edinburgh, United Kingdom by Omar Yassen

Shafer nursed his pint of Guinness at the worn bar under the Clock Towers that sheltered the old tavern. The pub had been there so long the wood bar was dark and greasy from years of dirty palms and spilled drinks. Dents and gouges marked the wood giving it character and a sense of presence to the smoky interior. Old men of a certain age sat huddled in groups, round tables or in the hard wooden booths. There was an air of silent comradery to the mumbled conversations that filled the pub with a hum that had neither a beginning nor an end. It was as it had always been, ever since Shafer was old enough for his first pint.

That was long ago; though not so long that he was ready to join in with one of the groups of men. That and he was still a loner. Always had been. Maybe it was his occupation that kept him from joining in. He knew too much about everyone there. He knew who had been unfaithful to which wife, or who owed so much on their bill at the pub. He dealt in information, using it like currency. Though he never used it for favors. He was, at best an honest dealer.

People came to him for information, he gave it to them, and they paid, leaving happy with the news, or at least, satisfied, albeit disturbed at times. But he couldn’t help how people took his information. He never promised to sugar-coat it. He was blunt and to the point. If people didn’t want to know the answer, they shouldn’t ask the question.
Despite what he knew, people still treated him with a modicum of respect. He supposed it was because they were afraid he might report any illegal activity to the authorities, which he could have done numerous times. But he had a reputation of discretion and he liked to keep it that way. It was bad for business if you were a snitch.

The door to the pub swung open and an icy blast of January cold blew in through the door, biting at the heels of the charming woman who stepped in hesitant and unsure. She quickly shut the door behind her as some of the patrons emitted growls of displeasure at the cold surrounding their old bones

Shafer watched her as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. She was as lovely now as when she had come to him two weeks ago. Dressed in a long, forest green wool jacket, buttoned up to the neck with brass buttons, she looked very prim and proper. And so out of place in the pub that Shafer decided to be nice and rescue her from her fortress of uneasiness. He tapped his glass creating a slight ring and her eyes flew towards the sound. He saw a smattering of relief in her eyes as she recognized him and made her way around the tables to the bar.

Normally he would have met her in his office, but the walls there had ears, especially with the information he had found out. Here, at least, no one cared that much about secrets. Beer had a tendency to loosen the tongue and nothing was ever taken seriously.

“Mr. Shafer,” the woman greeted, her eyes darting around the room.

“Mrs. Ballington.”

“You said you had some information for me?” She questioned as if unsure of the message he had sent her telling her so and where to meet him.

“I do. Would you like a drink?”

“No. No, thank you.” She nervously moistened her lips

Shafer sighed. He hated to do this with such a decent lady.

“Could you just tell me?” she nearly whispered.

“Yes. Your husband is having an affair. In fact, he’s having three.” He sighed again as he saw the way the words hit her and she started to crumble.

 

Wow. So I don’t normally finish a piece of fiction thinking, “wow,”, but this time I certainly did as I read this on Saturday at my writing group. D and I sat there and I just knew it was a good piece.I want to finish it, but I’m not sure how, or where I’d go with it. But with the word prompts of clock towers, forest green, and Guinness, I went from being totally uninspired an hour prior, to being super excited at the end. I’m loving this flash fiction moments that hit. They are really inspiring.

I sort of saw this as a piece that could take place at any time, though with the coat the woman wears, I think steampunk. A long green jacket that goes almost to the floor, with those brass buttons that I picture as being shiny. And I see the woman as an auburn haired lady with her hair up almost Gibson girl style.

I do hope you enjoy and I’ll see if I can make this go further.

Kate