Odyssey of a Novice Writer

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time… ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?

The Client

“Let me get this straight, sir,” I said, setting the teacup aside. “You wish to hire our firm to babysit your daughter?”

Smoothing back a lock of silver hair, the doctor shook his head. “Not precisely, Mr. Tate. My daughter requires a companion, someone who can persuade her to think before she acts. There have been past difficulties… contretemps with both the media and the public… my hope is that you’ll be able to smooth over any possible future awkwardness.”

“Fair enough. If I may ask, how old is your daughter?”

The doctor hesitated. “Her emotional age is seven. There are communication issues… delayed speech. A specialist is working with her.”

“How severe are the issues?”

“She grunts.”

This dismayed me. I hadn’t expected this level of difficulty when I agreed to take Dr. Stein as a client. “Sir, I’m uncertain whether our firm is appropriate for your needs… perhaps a nurse?”

He sought to reassure me. “No, Mr. Tate, your firm is exactly what is needed. Trust me, you’ll quickly attune yourself to her moods and learn to anticipate her behavior.

“I don’t think I need remind you,” he continued in a clipped European accent, “this is a very lucrative opportunity for a neophyte firm…”

I nodded assent. Tate & Cross was only beginning to assert itself amongst a field of public relations giants. We needed the doctor more than he needed us.

I paused, studying his well-appointed office. Its Old World flavor was both claustrophobic and imposing. A painting of a woman in 18th century costume dominated one wall.

“My wife,” said the doctor quietly, noting my interest. “Elisabeth. She died a number of years ago. Strangled. An unfortunate affair. My son was in the house at the time… there was a question of culpability.” His eyes clouded with pain.

“Your son?” I frowned, wondering if the firm would be responsible for him as well.

“He’s dead, Mr. Tate. A fire… he always feared fire…”

“Tragic. Perhaps the trauma led to your daughter’s communication problems.”

“She was not yet… born.”

“But your wife, you said she had died.” I blushed suddenly, realizing my faux pas. “Miss Stein is the child of a second marriage, of course.”

“Not quite.” He pressed the intercom.

A female voice responded. “Yes, Viktor?”

“We’ll see Frankie now.”

Raising the teacup to my lips, I froze when Miss Stein staggered into the room.

The seven-foot creature walked unevenly, as if the action of putting one foot in front of another was foreign to her. This was no child. It was difficult to assess her age. Her mottled complexion was gray; her brown eyes lifeless. I tried not to stare at signs of scarring around her neck and wrists.

“Sit, Frankie,” commanded the doctor. She dropped heavily into a chair.

“Frankie, say hello to your new friend, Mr. Tate.”

Dead eyes turned in my direction.

“You and Mr. Tate shall be very good friends, Frankie,” said the doctor. “Understand?”

Frankie tilted her head. I shivered, glimpsing something of the grave in those inscrutable eyes.

She flexed her fingers and grunted.

images (4)

__________________
Word Count: 518
Author’s Note: This flash fiction is written in response to ThainInVain’s challenge to write a story in which a public relations firm’s newest client is a PR nightmare. ThainInVain’s weekly challenges can be found here.

100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #146

Kate Loveton:

Just one hundred words to tell a story, and what a job she’s done! Enjoy Tess’s poignant story. Note how well she underplays the emotion and how, in doing so, she pulls us in.

Originally posted on How the Cookie Crumbles:

To join in, check this out:

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week146/

This week’s prompt:  …with your going comes the past…

100wcgu-72

ALWAYS

Busy hands, but racing heart—nothing helped—washing; ironing; packing. Tears leaked and memories replayed.

When I grow up, I’m gonna marry you.’ The scrawny blonde boy with bruised knees and scabbed elbows; dirty nails and muddied shoes—perfect. My heart twists still.

“Let’s go, Ma. We’re ready to roll.”

I grab the snacks and wink. “What’s the rush? You heading somewhere special—college maybe?” With your going comes the past, but though soon you’ll be a man, you’re still my precious boy.

“Hey. Put me down!”

“Swing your partner, dosie-doe.”

“Enough.”

“I’ll be home for Christmas.”

Not Thanksgiving?

“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

“Never.” Always.

View original

The Bicycle

Photo Credit:  Keith Channing

Photo Credit: Keith Channing

The bicycle rests against the wall, a mute witness to the heartache inside the house of another English family.

The rider, just a boy, has once more delivered a telegram that will change a family’s life. Someone’s son, someone’s darling, has died today, this time in a town in North Africa, thousands of miles from English soil.

It’s a job the boy has performed with increasing frequency as the war continues to grind on. His hard news is always dispatched with grim respect and quiet sympathy. Once delivered, the boy thanks the family for its sacrifice. Another hero for England, another strike against the Nazis. With solemnity, he then mounts his bike, a young grim reaper cycling on to the next house.

But not today.

Today the bicycle continues to rest against the wall.

Today the boy becomes a man. The words he speaks are more than earnest platitudes.

The telegram, that constant harbinger of bad news, mocks him as he brokenly shares with yet another family notice of a son’s heroism.

He breaks down, looking into the mother’s eyes.

My brother…

In the stillness of a moment, one bicycle, resting against a wall, bears testimony to the cost of war.

__________________
Word Count: 211
Author’s Note: This flash fiction was written in response to Keith Channing’s photo challenge, found at Keith Kreates (here). I don’t think this photo was taken in England, but as soon as I saw it, it made me think of WWII and youths who may have delivered telegrams announcing the deaths of soldiers to soon-to-be grieving parents.

The Unknown

Kate Loveton:

A remarkable piece by Kathy Tucker. Great work, Kathy.

Originally posted on W. K. Tucker:

Galaxies beguile and beckon,

Mouths of black holes yawn.

View original 40 more words

The Warning

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His footsteps as heavy as his heart, he walked up the stairs of the great house, entering their private quarters.

At the sight of her, still seated and staring expressionlessly out the window, he felt the black curtain of depression descend. Her hands held a small daguerreotype. Seeing this, his own grief nearly overcame him.

Willie, my son…

Instead, he knelt down next to her and pointed in the direction of the lunatic asylum. “Mother, if you cannot control your grief, it will drive you mad, and we may have to send you there.”

Mary Todd Lincoln only nodded.

__________________
Word Count: 100
Author’s Note: This story is based on a true incident in the life of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. When their son, William (‘Willie’) Lincoln died in 1862 at the age of eleven, Lincoln despaired for the sanity of his already erratic wife, fearing her grief would unhinge her. The photo above is of Willie.

This piece of micro fiction was written in response to Velvet Verbosity’s 100 Word Challenge to craft a story utilizing the word (or theme of) ‘black.’ The 100 Word Challenge can be found here.

Infinite Jest: The Story of Jackie O’Rourke

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Keeping his hands away from what wasn’t his had always been a problem for Jackie O’Rourke.

Jackie worked for Boss Harrigan, a shady Boston pol who had managed to amass a fortune in ways best contemplated in silence. Jackie was good at silence, and quickly became part of Harrigan’s inner circle. Liking the Boss’s flashy style, Jackie took to wearing fancy diamond cufflinks and an expensive pinky ring.

Whatever the Boss had, Jackie wanted, too. That included Harrigan’s wife, a tall, raven-haired beauty with a frosty attitude.

One night at the Boss’s brick mansion, the old man was holding forth about a new construction project in South Boston.

“Now listen to me, boys. I arranged for the contract to go to the Flaherty group. They’ll work hard, nights if they have to, and they’ll finish the job quickly, no questions asked. They’ll make money and so will we. Even better, we’ll make some new friends; it’s always good to have friends in the construction business. Remember that.”

Jackie’s attention had wandered when Harrigan’s wife entered the room. She gave Jackie a look that raised, among other things, his temperature.

“Hey, Jackie! Am I boring you?” thundered the old man.

Jackie quickly returned his attention to the Boss. “No sir.”

Harrigan said nothing, but his shrewd blue eyes regarded Jackie with interest.

****

Jackie started feeling a pain in his gut. He tried ignoring it, but one morning he woke up feeling like someone had punched him in the stomach. That’s when the doc told him it was cancer. Reeling from the news, Jackie ended up in an unfamiliar part of town and walked into a small bar devoid of patrons. That suited Jackie fine; he didn’t feel like being social.

“Hit me hard,” he told the bartender, a dwarf who stood on a platform to serve drinks.

“You’ve got problems, brother,” the man said.

“I’m not here for tea and sympathy – just pour.”

The dwarf obliged, but then looked into Jackie’s eyes. “Maybe I can help.”

“Can you cure cancer?”

Jackie spoke roughly, wanting the man to leave him be. Instead, the dwarf smiled. “How bad do you want it?”

His face grim, Jackie smiled unpleasantly. “More than I want the cancer.”

“How’d you like to live forever? Disease, injury – nothing could kill you.”

“Pal, I got a tumor the docs can’t do anything about, but you’re gonna make me live forever, huh? Little man, you’re the limit!”

“Think about it: eternal life. Never grow old, never get sick…”

Jackie finished the shot and sat the glass down. “You’re nuts.”

“Maybe… maybe not.” The dwarf held out his hand. “Shake my hand, Jackie.”

“How do you know my name?”

“I said, shake my hand!” The dwarf gabbed Jackie’s hand and held tight. “You’ve just been given a gift. Use it wisely.”

Sudden heat coursed through Jackie’s body, and he took a step backward, closing his eyes. When he opened them, he saw the room was empty. The dwarf – and the booze – were gone.

Dazed, he wandered out into the street, still thinking about the dwarf. He never saw the truck coming…

****

“Hey, mister, you okay?”

Jackie looked up into the worried face of the truck driver.

“I thought you were a dead man! Your neck, it’s at a funny angle. Hey, mister! Don’t get up! Wait for the ambulance!”

Jackie wasn’t listening. He touched his neck with both hands, made a slight adjustment, and went on his way.

He remembered the dwarf and smiled.

****

“Baby… baby,” moaned Jackie into Mrs. Harrigan’s raven tresses. “Why’d you make Jackie wait so long?”

Smiling, she draped a silky thigh over his. “It was worth it, wasn’t it?”

“Baby, you know it.” Hot and hard, he was about to enter her when he heard the sounds of gunfire. Pain ripped into his back and buttocks and he collapsed atop the screaming woman.

Sliding toward oblivion, Jackie heard Harrigan say, “Get the body outta here. You know what to do… they’ll be pouring the concrete tonight…”

****

His mind foggy, Jackie slowly came to, aware that something wasn’t right.

His face… something was all over his face…

He struggled without success to move arms and legs. He tried to open his mouth, but something was clogging it.

Dirt.

And lots of it, packed tight.

The irony then stung him and he wanted to laugh; instead, tears leaked from his eyes.

Harrigan was right: it was good to have friends in the construction business.

As for Jackie, he had immortality.

Beneath concrete and six feet of dirt.

__________________
Word Count: 762
Photo: James Cagney, Movie Actor

Author’s Note: This story is written based on a challenge issued by ThainInVain to write a flash fiction based on the prompt ‘Infinite Jest.’ I certainly went over 500 words, but the story was inspired by the prompt, so I’m crediting ThainInVain for the inspiration. ThainInVain’s weekly challenge can be found here. Be part of the challenge!

A Berliner hausfrau Brünnhilde

Kate Loveton:

John Flanagan has a gift for limericks. This one made me laugh aloud. Everyone can use a little humor on a Monday, right? Enjoy! (And check out his blog, please. He also has some beautiful poetry there as well as other things to delight you.)

Originally posted on johnpoetflanagan:

A Berliner hausfrau Brünnhilde
cried ‘Himmel!’ when an überstud filled ‘er
from Mannheim to München
with his blue-blooded truncheon
Blitzkrieger! Mein Gott! he near killed ‘er

View original

Unanswered Prayers

image

Lace curtains fluttered on the breeze of a warm summer’s night.

News arrived and the window was quickly closed. A mausoleum stillness then descended, captured in the mirror’s surface.

Out of view, a lone figure knelt by a bed, fingers flying over a string of beads. Soft entreaties drifted skyward, searching for love and comfort as each bead touched fingertips.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us…

Nearby, a body lay in a morgue.

She’d told him easy money was a lie.

She continued fingering the beads, once shiny and new, now worn dull from a mother’s troubled prayers.

__________________
Word Count: 99

Author’s Note: This piece was written in response to two challenges.

The first challenge was to write a 100-word story based on the above photo prompt. The challenge was issued on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog, Addicted to Purple. This is part of Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers challenge – found here.  Photo credit:  Janet Webb.

The story was also written in response to ‘My Weekly Writing Challenge’ hosted on the Esther Newton Blog (found here). Her challenge was to write a story based on the words or the theme of money, new and operation. I couldn’t fit ‘operation’ into my 100 words, but I was able to craft a story around the words ‘money’ and ‘new.’

That Old Black Magic

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“You left these inside,” he said, rushing to catch up with me as I exited the coffee shop.

Handing me the sunglasses, his warm hand touched mine.

A frisson of electricity!

He felt it too – there was surprised laughter in his eyes.

Love at first sight.

Sweet mystery. Sweet magic.

____________________
Word count: 50
Author’s Note: This piece was written in response to a challenge issued by Elizabeth Frattaroli to write 50 words (or under) on the theme of magic and mystery. Elizabeth’s blog can be found here.

Invisibility

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You can fool yourself, but you can’t fool the mirror, she thought. Pouches under her eyes and deep crevices on either side of her mouth mocked her.

She looked away.

Like the artist considering pigments on a palette, her eyes surveyed an array of tubes and bottles. How many hundreds of dollars had she wasted in a fruitless quest to appear youthful?

Too many.  Hope springs eternal…

Once beautiful, she’d been a woman accustomed to the kindness of men; now she was invisible.

The anonymity of age was wounding.

She reached for the tube of concealer, hoping to recapture magic.

__________________
Word count: 100
Author’s Note: This flash fiction is written in response to Velvet Verbosity’s 100 Word Challenge to craft a story utilizing the word (or theme of) ‘quest.’ The 100 Word Challenge can be found here.

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