The Quaker (detail), by Andrew Wyeth

“Gramma, whatcha doing?”

I looked down at her intensely curious eyes. Emily was not four. She was proudly four-and-a-half as she would loudly proclaim if you happened to forget. She and her mother, my Elizabeth, had just moved into my guestroom.

I patted the sofa cushion next to me and little Emily hopped up and snuggled in close. I turned my iPad screen toward her and said, “I’m looking at every picture I have of you, and of your Mom and Dad, and of your Grampa and me.”

Emily rolled her head back in disbelief. “That’s a ton of pictures…

Mayfred Yodal slept and, perchance, dreamed.

Edna shook her older sister awake. “Mayfred! Wake up, you slug!” Edna turned toward the door and shuffled forward as fast as she could with her bad hip and her walker. “We gotta get moving! That old hussy Beula Mae finally kicked it and they want volunteers to clean out her room. We gotta get there first!”

Mayfred and Edna, the Yodal sisters, shared a room in Cypress Grove, a Southern Comfort Retirement Community. Like pretty much everyone else there, they were widowed, and they took their pursuit of a replacement spouse seriously. Beula…

There once was a time when men and women were almost gods, and gods were almost human. One man at that time grew so in his talent as an artist, his skill as a craftsman, and his understanding as a philosopher that it was said there was no one on earth or in heaven who was his equal. His name was Sandro.

Sandro could paint a summer’s hillside so warm and enticing that meadowlarks would actually sing from the canvas, and he carved roses from stone that would soon fill the room with their sweet fragrance. More than anything, Sandro…


With no small effort I blinked my eyes open. What I saw was somehow both comforting and disturbing.

“There you are, dear. So glad you finally made it. Now, how about a nice cuppa?”

She was elderly, but not old; fit, but not trim; familiar, but a stranger. She wore a plain cotton dress with a floral apron and sensible shoes. She was filling the copper kettle from the old farm-style sink. The kitchen was bright and cozy. I hate cozy.

“Oh, no. Thanks, but no. I won’t be staying.”

“Mmm-hmm. A nice cup of tea will set you…

He hated the rain. He sat in the driest spot he could find, his back pressed against the dirty brick wall. He drained the bottle he’d been nursing all afternoon and tossed the empty a few feet away where it blended in with all the other garbage and filth that cluttered the alley. His alley.

He had earned it. He’d grown up there. He’d grown old there. He’d grown hopeless there.

No one knew his name. The old ones still called him Bobby MacStuck Bob, or just Stucco; the crazy ones called him all sorts of nasty things; most people…

“Oh, dear Edna, what would we do without you? You are a saint!”

“Ha! Saint Edna, the patron saint of empty pews.” Edna, silver haired and wrinkled, shuffled the length of a pew, the handle of a blue plastic bucket draped over her right wrist. At the end of the pew, she moved on to the next row and shuffled back the way she had come, using her left hand to pick up the litter. Mostly wedding programs, with a few magazines, folded newspapers, and, as always, a discretely rolled Pampers or two. …

Ol’ Mimsy, like any old granny, puttered. The kitchen in which she puttered, however, was not like any other old granny’s kitchen. She dusted her jars of preserved eyeballs, all in a row like very alert sentries, and ranging in size from tiny spider eyes to enormous cow eyes. She returned her earthenware crocks of dried toadstools and deadly nightshade to the decorative spice shelf above the wood-fired stove, and she absently picked up a femur to stir the simmering pot of soup, then dropped the bone into the broth.

With a grunt, she reached up and lifted a heavy…

A guy walked into a bar. That would be me.

I had just had the worst day of my life, had been publicly humiliated, was put on display before my friends and colleagues to be spectacularly fired, got sloppy drunk, and then found myself on a bridge with no reason not to jump, so I did. I walked home wet and cold. Rinse; repeat.

So, there I was. I walked into this seedy corner bar, dark and smelly, with just me, the bartender, and some guy in a turban with a big gold earring. Takes all kinds. I took a…


*sniff* *sniff*


I roll to my back, cocooned in the warmth of my tattered, old quilt. My eyes still reluctant to open, I draw in another deep breath of that heavenly aroma. There is nothing like the smell of hot buttered toast.

My eyes snap open as realization hits. I don’t own a toaster. And I live alone.

I lie still and listen. Footsteps in the hall. The familiar squeak of the front door swinging open and then closing with a thump.

I throw back the bedding and swing my legs over the edge, my feet finding the…

Story prompt: headphones

Bucky Bukowski wasn’t a bad guy. To be fair, he wasn’t a good guy, either. He was simply rudderless, adrift in a sea of moral ambiguities and ethical dilemmas. He was a person who might help an old lady to cross the street, but then it was fifty-fifty whether he’d snatch her purse and run. He was a feather in a windstorm, a leaf riding the crest of floodwaters. Rather than make a choice or take a stand, he’d just go with the flow.

Which, in a way, explains his current situation. Specifically, pointing a gun at…

Thom Garrett

Writing about life and love, along with a few crazy stories just for fun.

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