And sooner than you think! Have a terrific weekend, friends!
And sooner than you think! Have a terrific weekend, friends!
Today, we learn the fate of Claire and her family, introduced to you in Monday’s Micro-Fiction Monday…
* * *
Part Three of Three
By: Rachel Carrera
Three weeks later, the Keene house was abuzz about Van’s upcoming business trip to Elmhurst. Billy grinned. “Dad, will you bring us back a present?”
Susie hugged Van’s neck. “Daddy, be sure to send us some picture postcards. I’ve got some three cent stamps you can take with you.”
Van stood and straightened his tie. “Of course I’ll send you postcards and bring you gifts, kids. And what would your mother like me to bring home?”
Tears shimmered in Claire’s red rimmed eyes. “I’d like you not to go, Van. Please change your plans.”
He rolled his eyes. “Kids, it’s time for bed. I’ll see you in the morning at breakfast before I leave. Goodnight.” After the kids went upstairs, he gently grabbed his wife’s shoulders. “Claire, we’ve been all through this before. I have to go. It’s for work. Nothing’s going to happen to me. Now, would you please calm down?”
Her body quaked. “I can’t! Van, I’ve had the same dream all week long. You can’t go! If you do, you could be—” Tears spilled down her cheeks as she buried her face in his chest.
He sighed and patted her back. “Hon, I don’t know why all of a sudden lately you think you’re some sort of soothsayer, but I couldn’t get out of it if I wanted to. The Smithfield account depends on me making this trip, and Mr. Watley left it in my hands. If I can secure this account, I could get a promotion, then we’ll be set. Besides, don’t you see I have to go now to show you that there’s nothing to those dreams of yours?”
She buried her face in her hands and gritted her teeth as she put her back to him. “You can’t. You just can’t…”
* * *
The following morning, Claire’s eyes were bloodshot as she spooned up four bowls of oatmeal. A loud crack of thunder made her gasp and jump just as Van and the kids entered the kitchen.
Van peeked out the window. “Wow. That’s gonna be some gully washer. I hope when I get on the road, I can outrun this storm, and it doesn’t rain all the way to Elmhurst.”
Billy stuffed a bag of marbles in his pocket and flopped in his seat. “How long is it to Elmhurst, Dad?”
“Six hours. Don’t worry; I’ll call when I get checked into the hotel.”
Susie smiled a faraway smile. “Imagine, a luxury hotel. You’ll probably have room service, and valets, and everything! Daddy, that’s just so… dreamy!”
Van chuckled and eyed Claire who was looking down. He frowned. “Aww, come on, Hon, lighten up. I’ll be home in four days.”
She silently shook her head and stirred her oatmeal. “Never mind me. Just do what you have to.”
He exhaled loudly. “Kids, go get your teeth brushed and gather your books. I’ll drop you off at school on my way.” As they made their way upstairs, he held Claire’s hand and tucked her chin to face him. “Honey, please, don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
Her chin quivered. “Van, don’t you understand? I love you, and I don’t want to live without you.”
He smirked. “Claire, I’m going to Elmhurst, not Mars. I’ll be back Thursday evening.”
“No, you won’t!”
He rolled his eyes and picked up his suitcase. “I don’t have time for this. I need to get going. Now, kiss me goodbye.”
She turned her face away as he tried to kiss her. He shook his head. “Alright. I’ll call you when I get to the hotel.”
She nodded and sucked back her tears as he and the kids stepped outside.
A few minutes later, Van came back in with a red face. His stride was purposeful as he headed to the kitchen sink and washed his hands.
Claire followed him. “Where are the children?”
He dried his hands on a dishtowel and scowled. “They walked. Someone cut both back tires on the Pontiac! I’m gonna have to call Howell’s Garage and have it towed. I can’t believe you’d do this to me. Claire, really!”
He jumped when the phone rang, and he picked up the receiver. “Hello? …Yes. …Oh? …Oh, okay. Next week, then. …Alright fine. Thanks. …Yes, goodbye.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Honey, did you seriously think I wouldn’t find out that you called Mr. Smithfield’s office and rescheduled my meeting? Look, I don’t know what’s going on with you lately, but this is ridiculous! You could’ve very well just cost me my job! Claire, I’m seriously starting to question your decision making abilities.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks. “Van, I did it for you! Can’t you understand how much I love and need you? The children need you!”
He rolled his eyes and threw his hands in the air. “This is unbelievable! I love you, too, but I don’t understand why you think something’s gonna happen to me! You’re not prescient! I’ve had enough of you and those silly dreams! Now, you really need to—”
They both turned their heads when their neighbor, Maxwell, knocked then walked in. He carried a portable transistor radio, and his face was grim. “Van, thank God you’re still here! I was afraid you’d already left!”
Van furrowed his brow. “No, I had car problems. Why? What’s wrong?”
Maxwell turned up the radio. “Because the bridge over Owl Creek just washed out. You’d have been there right about now. They said the fog’s so thick up there, you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Eleven cars went over the edge before anyone realized what had happened. They’re trying to get a crew in there to pull them from the water, but with the rain and fog, they say it’s doubtful they’ll recover anything. Van, it’s a lucky thing your car broke down, or you’d be a goner.”
* * *
Time to chat: Do you believe visions can sometimes accurately predict the future? Do you believe we’re sometimes sent dreams for a reason?
“So you only have seventy-two hours left to live, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Okay, well, my fortune cookie message wasn’t quite that bad, but it was still pretty awful…
I think I’ll stick to Italian from now on.
Time to talk: What’s your favorite Chinese food dish? What’s the worst fortune cookie message you’ve ever gotten? Have you ever met anyone who actually believed in those things?
Today we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.
* * *
By: Rachel A. Carrera
When Lloyd arrived at Grand Central Station, he looked as frazzled as he felt. He eagerly approached the New York Central Railroad counter. “Hi. Do you have any tickets left to Chicago tonight? My flight got canceled, and I have to get home.”
The ticket agent checked at his register and adjusted his glasses. “We have a couple rooms left. We have room 343 and room 210.”
Lloyd pulled his wallet out of his coat pocket then hesitated as he remembered the gypsy’s prediction. “Uh, I’ll take room 343.”
The agent took Lloyd’s money then handed him a ticket and change. They turned as a woman in a blue suit and a black hat with a small netted veil joined them. She said breathlessly, “Hello. I was afraid I’d missed my train. I’m Ruth Zeilman.”
The agent winced. “Oh, Miss Zeilman, I didn’t think you were coming.” He glanced at his pocket watch. “We’re about to take off.” He looked to Lloyd and blushed. “I’m sorry, sir. I’m afraid room 343 isn’t available, after all. You’ll have to take 210.”
A chill traveled up Lloyd’s spine. “What? No! I was here first, and I’ve already paid you. Let her take 210.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed, and her cheeks flushed. “I’ll have you know I purchased my ticket last week!”
The agent nodded. “That’s right, sir. And hers is a premium room. She paid extra.” He offered six dollars to Lloyd. “Here’s your refund for the difference.”
Lloyd held up his hand and pursed his lips. “No! I can’t take room 210. I’ll pay anything. I just can’t take that room.” He reached in his coat pocket for his wallet.
The woman waved her hands. “Forget it. I’ll take the other room. I just want to get on board before the train leaves without us.”
The conductor leaned out of the caboose. “All aboard!”
Lloyd blushed, and the muscles in his neck tensed. “Thanks.” He took the money from the agent and offered it to Ruth. As they reached the platform, he removed his fedora and gestured for her to go up first. “My name’s Lloyd Hartley. I know I must sound crazy, but I really appreciate you trading rooms with me. Maybe I can buy you a drink to show my gratitude?”
They boarded the train and gave the conductor their tickets. Ruth smiled sweetly. “It’s no problem. I’d be happy to take you up on your offer. Why don’t we meet in the club car in about thirty minutes? I’d like to go to my room first and freshen up a bit.”
* * *
A half hour later, Lloyd was seated in the club car when Ruth entered. She’d changed into a deep emerald dress that enhanced her auburn hair and sultry eyes. Lloyd stood and smiled. “What’s your pleasure?”
She sat beside him and crossed her long, lean legs. “Gin and tonic, please.”
He held up his finger. “Barkeep, two gin and tonics.” He turned to her and forced himself to look up from her buxom breasts. “So, are you visiting Chicago, or do you call it home?”
The bartender brought their drinks.
Ruth smiled seductively as she took her glass and licked the swizzle stick. “Thanks. I live in New York, but I grew up in Chicago. I’m going home to visit my mother.”
As she twirled her swizzle stick in her drink, Lloyd noticed her gold ring was in the shape of a serpent with two ruby eyes. His body tensed, and his heart thumped loudly. The red-eyed snake! He shot out of his seat. “No! Noooo!” He threw his glass to the ground, and it shattered. The color drained from his face as he raced out of the club car.
Ruth gasped and jumped to her feet. “Lloyd! Mr. Hartley!” She set down her drink and chased after him.
As Lloyd turned the corner, he practically ran into the door with 210 in large brass numerals. His throat tightened and threatened to suffocate him. He turned and saw Ruth approaching. He gasped for air. “No! Get away from me!” He rushed down the narrow corridor until he reached the wall. He looked over his shoulder and saw her at his heels. “Noooo!” His eyes squeezed shut as he grabbed blindly at the emergency cable. As the train screeched to a halt, the metal wheels grinded on the track and made a piercing sound in the otherwise quiet night air. Lloyd fell forward and hit his head on the wall.
* * *
Nearly a half hour later, Lloyd’s eyes fluttered open. He was lying in the dome lounge, and a bright light shone in his eyes. Ruth towered over him with a small smile on her lips. Something red covered her hands. It’s blood! He gasped and made a gurgling noise as he attempted to sit up.
A man gently grabbed Lloyd’s shoulder. “Just lie back and relax, Mr. Hartley. I’m Dr. Milton, and I’ve given you a mild sedative. That’s quite a bump on the head you’ve got there. I’m afraid I had to give you stitches. You’re just lucky that Miss Zeilman here is such a skilled surgical nurse.”
Ruth wiped her hands on a towel. “You’re going to be just fine, Mr. Hartley. We all owe you our thanks. How’d you know to pull the emergency cord?”
Lloyd’s head spun as he attempted to focus on Ruth’s hands. “What? What are you talking about?”
She tossed the bloody towel aside and grabbed his shoulder. “There was damage to the tracks on the bridge about ten yards ahead of where we stopped. If you wouldn’t have pulled the cord when you did, the train would’ve derailed, and we would’ve plummeted into the river below…”
Time to talk: Have you ever ridden on a train? Have you ever been afraid of someone as soon as you met them with no particular reason?
It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday. Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two. You can find Part Two here tomorrow. Now don’t be afraid… This is only fiction…
* * *
By: Rachel A. Carrera
The bumper to bumper traffic screeched to a halt as fine raindrops misted the windshield and the sounds of car horns flooded the night. Lloyd looked at his watch and frowned. “I’ll never make my flight at this rate. Can’t you go any faster?”
The cab driver flipped on the windshield wipers and blew a puff of cigar smoke. “I’m doing the best I can, mac. City traffic’s a nightmare… So, what do you think about Truman getting reelected?”
Lloyd sighed and slumped in the back seat. “I think it’s a good thing. I just didn’t feel that Dewey had it in him. I know he’s your governor, but I just didn’t think the White House was the place for him. Truman really stepped up to bat after we lost F.D.R., and I think he should have the opportunity to stay in Washington as long as he can. Are you sure there’s not a side road you can take that will get us there any faster?”
“Like I told you, I’m doing the best I can. Idlewild’s only been open a few months, and traffic’s murder. So, what brings you to New York?”
“I’m a salesman. I sell Hoovers. You don’t need a vacuum, do ya?”
The driver chuckled. “Not today, thanks. Oh, it looks like we’re moving now. So, where you headed?”
Lloyd anxiously leaned forward against the front seat and straightened his fedora. “Chicago. My company’s based there, and I live in the outskirts. I was out here meeting with some bigwigs in PanAm about buying a bunch of our machines.” As they approached the airport terminal, he frowned. “What’s the commotion over there?”
The driver snuffed out his cigar and rolled his eyes. “That’s a bunch of gypsies. We’ve been seeing more and more of them since the war. Usually they stay in the suburbs, but since Idlewild opened, some of them hang out here to panhandle.” He pulled by the curb and turned in his seat. “Alright, mac, that’ll be a buck sixty.”
Lloyd handed him two dollars and opened his door. “Thanks. Keep the change.” He grabbed his suitcase and briefcase, then slammed the door. As he headed inside, a woman approached him.
Her long, colorful skirt rustled, and a dozen necklaces around her neck jangled as she walked. The green scarf tied around her head added to her mysterious appearance. She smiled a crooked smile and spoke with a thick accent and raspy voice. “Hello. I tell your fortune?”
“Uh, no, that’s okay.” Lloyd checked his watch. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t want to miss my flight.” He attempted to step around her.
She stepped sideways and blocked his passage. “For six bits, I tell your fortune. You no make your flight to Chicago tonight. You go by train.”
He chuckled and dug in his pocket, then thrust three quarters at her. “Here you go. I don’t know how you knew where I was headed, but I’m afraid you’re wrong. I will be taking my flight. I’ve got twenty minutes to get out to the tarmac. Now, if you’ll excuse me…”
She dropped the coins in a change purse and strode swiftly to keep up with him. “No, you no make your flight. You take train. On train, you must stay away from room 210. That room is bad omen. When you meet the woman with the red-eyed snake, you beware. She carries your blood on her hands. You beware!”
Lloyd narrowed his eyes at her and hurried his gait. Without replying, he turned a corner and jogged toward the gate.
She stopped walking. Her voice was ominous as she called after him. “You beware!”
As he arrived at the gate, he pulled his ticket from his suit pocket and offered it to the stewardess. “I’d like to check in for my flight to Chicago Municipal. I was afraid I was going to miss my plane.” He chuckled nervously and straightened his tie.
The stewardess perused the ticket then returned it. “I’m sorry, sir, but that flight’s been canceled. With all this fog tonight, the entire airport’s grounded until morning.”
The hair on Lloyd’s arms stood on end. “What? Canceled? But I have to get home.”
“I’m sorry. You might consider taking a train. They’re still running.”
His chest deflated, and his temples started to throb. “Alright, thanks.” Thanks for nothing. He sighed and headed back outside to flag down a cab, going out of his way to avoid the band of gypsies.
* * *
Well, that’s all for today, friends. Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what happens.
Time to talk: Have you guessed the year in which the story takes place yet? Have you ever ridden in a taxi?
I don’t know what to think of this… I think the Grim Reaper tapped me on the shoulder recently. I’ve been helping an attorney friend of mine for the past few months by producing his TV commercials in my spare time. Spare time? What’s that? Actually, I’m writing, directing, and producing more than a dozen of his commercials. How cool is that?
Anyway, a couple of weekends ago, we were with a film crew outside an old courthouse where we were filming part of the first commercial. It was really hot outside (Sorry, Northern neighbors!), so the attorney had to go to his car and get a cold drink and touch up his makeup.
While we waited, the film crew and I were standing on the sidewalk when a hearse drove by. The driver slowed down, rolled down his window, smiled, and pointed directly at me! Everyone in the film crew laughed because they saw it, too. He wasn’t pointing at us, he was pointing at me! YIKES! It was as if he was saying, “There’s room for one more.”
Time to talk: So what do you suppose this means? Is this some sort of bad omen? Is this a harbinger of my own pending demise? Have you ever had a brush with death? Have you ever been singled out by the Grim Reaper?
Did you ever watch (or at least hear of) the television show Medium, starring Patricia Arquette? If so, then the name Allison DuBois rings familiar. The show was based loosely on real-life medium Allison DuBois who was born on January 24, 1972.
Mrs. DuBois claims that she became aware of her ability to communicate with the dead when she was six years old, and she has used her psychic abilities to assist law enforcement in solving crimes.
Besides being a world renowned medium and lecturer, she’s authored four books, including: Don’t Kiss Them Good-Bye, We Are Their Heaven: Why the Dead Never Leave Us, Secrets of the Monarch: How the Dead Can Teach Us About Living a Better Life, and Talk To Me—What the Dead Whisper in Your Ear.
Happy Birthday, Mrs. DuBois!
Time to talk: Did you watch the TV show Medium when it was on? Do you believe certain people can really communicate with the dead? If you personally needed a crime solved and a medium offered help, would you listen to what they had to say?