Unto Us

City of a thousand dreams, graveyard of worry until the oncoming morrow, Las Vegas spread as gleaming gold under Night’s cloak. Within the city, among the towering edifices, standing in the entrance to The Templeton Casino and Suites’s parking garage, Dale Carmichael was neither a poet, nor in a position to see the vast city stretch out before him. He pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose and sighed. Jerking the lapel of his ill-fitting uniform straight again, he wandered back into the attendant station. The small booth reminded him of his apartment near the edge of the city, both being of equal size. And both coffee makers locked on the too-weak-to-caffeinate-a-cockroach setting. And the walls of the booth were thicker. And the booth had a television, albeit broken.

Dale ignored the groan of the chair as he sat down upon it. Management said replacing chairs on their last legs wasn’t high on their list of priorities unless he was a patron or worked in the gaming areas. Resigned to the ultimatum that if he didn’t want his rent checks bouncing, he supposed the depressed chair would be his friend for a long while yet. Dale picked up the battered copy of Les Miserablés his girlfriend gave him and opened it to the place he left off. “At that moment,” he read, “she suddenly felt that the bucket was gone. A hand, which seemed enormous to her, had just caught the handle, and was carrying it easily.

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Chocolate Library

Author’s Note: I first heard of Fortnum and Mason in the BBC version of All Creature’s Great and Small. Their hampers were treasure troves of the sweet, rich, and sumptuous. Back in October, my sister sent me a link to their writing competition. I didn’t win, but I did have a bit of fun assembling my entry. Have a gander!

Meltdown at Carnegie Hall

The stars were out and the stars were in. The hall hummed with conversation of the glamorous and eager, half an ear cocked to their neighbor, the other toward the stage. In the pit of the orchestra, James Doolridge wiped his mouth in dismay.

In his chest beat the tempo which the dervish delighted and the debonair despised, and small wonder! For in his dressing room, midst flowers and adornments from the adoring, a riffled drawer gaped, plundered.

For Doolridge, the strains, the melody, the symphony he guided with motion of hand and rosewood shaft sweetened his ears, but the richness of chocolate, the envelopment of treacle set sweetness upon his lips. The sugar imbibed instilled stanzas as his innards welcomed confection bonanzas. No Mozart was mastered before him, no Beethoven beheld his movement, no Debussy displayed without the lingering languor of chocolate, hastily masticated before returning to rostrum and continuing command. 

And now theft threatened to leave the last portion of the performance to pieces; his muse, plucked from his vanity, not long for the barbarous ministrations of a detractor he did not doubt, would not aid him in tending orchestral efforts.

Even as the hiss passed through backstage, muffled by curtain on the cusp of rising, “Thirty seconds! Places!” and Doolridge ascended his stand, his mind whirled. Was it the clarinetist, the scarlet-maned woman of simpering smile melting to glowering glare when he demanded she arise and move down one chair? Could it have been the concertmaster, bowed but unbroken before Doolridge’s shoe catching his violin case in hasty chocolate chase before the overture began? Or Vincent Van Veers, his assistant anxious for opportunity to co-opt a community and be the youngest conductor at Carnegie in years?

Introspection mingled with introduction, his arms raising in automatic attention, but as bows were set, the horns glinted and raised, James Doolridge was stricken with thought.

To apoplectic memory flew the percussionists sneer, the half-muttered comment loud enough to tickle one Doolridge ear, “’Give a fool two sticks and he calls himself a drummer?’ Check your pocketbook, grant him only one, and behold! A conductor.”

And was that a smirk on the villainous veneer, one curl of the lip over collar of lace? Where smudge of melted chocolate and gold tinted glittering grin, fresh in finkly face?

The orchestra and audience shared a high gasp, as conductor landed on timpani with an indecorous crash. Baton and mallet clashed in irregular rhythm and the guilty soon fought with all desperation within him.

Cast from conduction for conduct unconducive, Doolridge flounced off in fury. He consoled himself with what confections he’d buy, sending the energy into study, into examination, and soon before jury. One might feel sadness at seeing one so musically inclined turn to the tricks and trade of law-as-defined. Fear not, gentle reader, for he is not unhappy, though if he does not curtail his chocolate consumption, one Doolridge Esq. will soon be disbarred.

The Horse and His Boy

Which is your favorite Chronicles of Narnia book?

Mine is The Horse and His Boy.

I didn’t know why. Growing up, I wanted to be Peter and kill wolves and rule Narnia as High King. I also wanted to be the oldest. And command armies. But even when I finished reading The Last Battle, still struggling to accept it as the completion of the series, my thoughts still trailed to the story of an orphan slave and a talking horse. I found more concepts there with which I identify than the rest of the series.

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