The Story Goes On

10th July
2012
written by amber

Pink Gun

The rifle was pink, the girl toting it was tiny, her truck was camouflage and enormous. As she jumped down what had to be five feet from the cab, the muzzle didn’t once waver from its aim at the centre of my chest.

I raised both hands and slowly stepped back from the body on the road.

“Mister, my dog better be okay,” she said.

The dog was tiny. And pink. It panted with shallow breaths, immobile in front of my car. She knelt beside it, one hand on the fluffy body, not once taking her eyes off me.

“I’m sorry, miss. It just ran out in front of me. Is this your house?”

The house was rusty metal, with a tarp on the roof. An ancient, flat-tired travel trailer.

“No way could she get out of that house by herself.”

We both looked toward the screen door banging in the wind.

“No one there to let her out?”

“Booger! You’d better not be in there!” she screeched.

“Do you want me to go check? Or would you rather I called your vet? I’ve got a cell phone.” I reached toward my pocket.

“Keep your hands where I can see them. I don’t think she’s that bad. There isn’t even any blood.”

“Are you sure she’s still breathing? I hit her pretty hard and she’s so small.”

Still the girl’s attention on me didn’t waver, but when she felt the dog’s chest there was no movement, as I’d expected. “Susan! Susan!” she cried, then snatched the limp body up and buried her face in the pink fur.

A moment later she looked up at me, eyes blurred with tears. “Can you help her?” Then she saw my gun. Her own lay forgotten at her side.

“Taffy,” I said, marveling again at the girl having a dog’s name and her dog named Susan, “this is a message for Booger. He’d better pay my boss what he owes him.” And I shot her through her pink cowboy boot.

This is one of the most popular stories from my year of Story 365.

9th July
2012
written by amber

Famous T.V. Semi-Automatic Rifle

Friends, I want to tell you about the FAMOUS T.V. SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE. This is no ordinary rifle, folks. Yes, it does all the things an ordinary rifle does, but the FAMOUS T.V. SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE does much much more. Most rifles contain a great deal of wasted space in places such as the stock and carrying strap but the FAMOUS T.V. SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE makes efficient use of every square centimetre of space. We’ve packed everything you’ll need for an extended campaign – you won’t need to take another thing with you.

This looks like an ordinary shoulder-strap such as you’d find on any semi-automatic rifle but just undo these two little snaps and presto – a space age ultra-thin ground sheet and sleeping bag guaranteed to shield your body heat from detection by whatever high-tech equipment your enemy might possess.

And who would guess this little stock could possibly hold so much? Just slide the convenient panel open to find a complete set of concentrated rations for three days, an ultra-miniature communication device, a compressed roll of white fabric for sanitation, first aid or surrender, plus a stainless steel manicure kit.

But the FAMOUS T.V. SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE has even more surprises. You might say a bayonet is nothing new but this is no ordinary bayonet – it’s the FAMOUS T.V. KNIFE! Yes, folks, the same knife you’ve used in your kitchen to slice dice grate grind cut carve and whittle is perfect for hand-to-hand combat, torture or execution. And without losing its famous ever-sharp edge.

So why not order the FAMOUS T.V. SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE today? Just call the number flashing on the screen and send your cheque or money order for only $659.99 to this address. COD charges not included.

But wait! There’s more! For every order for the FAMOUS T.V. SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE received before July 30, we’ll include our famous imitation spare ammo clip. This handy device actually contains super-concentrated fuel perfect for cooking or keeping warm, and with the flick of a switch – presto! – you have an anti-personnel unit packing a whopping 25 tons TNT equivalent.

And that’s not all! We’ll also throw in a suicide pill identical to the vitamin tablets contained in your ration pack. You’ll want to carry it everywhere, it’s so small and convenient, and you never know when you’ll need a final alternative.

Now, how can you refuse, folks? Write or call today to order the FAMOUS T.V. SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE!

This tale was published in On Spec magazine in the Fall 1992 issue.

7th July
2012
written by amber

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a story that I had published in On Spec magazine Fall 1992 issue, called “The Famous TV Semi-Automatic Rifle,” followed by one of my favourite stories from Story 365, “Pink Gun.”

Why gun week? I don’t know. Maybe due to the piece I heard on CBC about a city woman who moved to Bend, Oregon and learned how to hunt.

I’ll also be challenging my readers to come up with a gun story of their own.

6th July
2012
written by amber

For the first time in the entire ordeal, Maria couldn’t keep herself from crying, and her tears flowed all the faster when she heard Blind Ric say, “Certainly, Dona Maria. You tell me the number and I’ll call her. I’d believe you before I’d believe Fat Paulina, any day. You just wait here and don’t worry.”

She waited on the porch, hearing Ric’s whistle grow fainter as he descended. He hadn’t needed to tell her not to worry – a calmness was washing over her like the warmth of a soft blanket on a chilly night. Ric’s reappearance in her life was the closing of a circle. Back in the Pelhourinho, she’d kept to herself, sure that her neightbours looked down on her for her dark skin and nordestina roots. She’d looked down on them, lazy, immoral, prone to gossip and superstition, but in fact she’d been afraid of them and the city, all the dark corners where danger could lurk, all the things she didn’t understand.

In Rio das Secas, people were as they seemed and the open landscape hid nothing. Bahia was layer upon layer of deceit and confusion, yet she had never been afraid of Ric. He couldn’t see her to judge her appearance, he couldn’t see his own face to learn how to hold it in a facade of sincerity. She trusted him and was kind to him, and in the way God’s balance was supposed to work, but rarely did in so obvious a manner, her kindness had come back to her.

Now that she was relaxing, the raw desperation which had fueled her journey departed, leaving her feeling weak and slightly dizzy. Hunger no longer churned in her stomach but the lack of sustenance was a buzzing in her ears and a sensation of transparency, as if the morning sun could shine right through her. She leaned against the wall of the shack, too tired to pay much attention to the aching of her legs, nearly too tired to focus her eyes until her attention was caught by a little gecko streaking across the boards to snap up a fly. The gecko’s tail had been lost in some escape manoeuver, but a paler section showed that it was growing back.

“Hello, Stumpy,” she said. “You and I, we will recover, won’t we?”

Swallowing his fly, the tiny lizard looked at her and seemed to grin.

“Stick with me. I’m sure I smell bad enough to attract lots of flies,” she advised him, but he darted away as a shadow swooped across the porch.

Maria looked up. A young boy stood silhouetted in front of her, holding out a paper bag. “Ric told me to bring this up to you. He has to wait down there for your daughter.”

She took the bag. It contained a small banana and some bread. “Thank you.”

He fidgeted, frowning, as he looked at her. “I have to go now,” he finally announced, turning away, then jerked back toward her. “Are you okay?”

She realized he’d seen her talking to the gecko, or possibly it seemed that she was talking to no one. She smiled. “Yes, I am fine. Tell Ric that I am fine.”

Maria is one of my favourite characters in my novel, “The Healer.” She’s gutsy and, despite her flaws and disadvantages, she developed into a strong supporter of her daughter and granddaughter.

Stumpy, the gecko, is a real lizard who I encountered on a writing trip to Costa Rica. I was very happy to let him enter the pages of my novel.

5th July
2012
written by amber

In the morning, Maria was unable to get up.

She’d hardly slept, her legs a torment, an agony, and the roaches on the shack’s floor considerably larger than the bed bugs in the sheets at Fat Paulina’s. As soon as the sky grew barely bright enough to see by, before she heard anyone stirring in the shack of her reluctant benefactor, she tried to resume her journey. But not by using the canes nor by pulling on the loose boards of the shack’s wall, not by crawling to the door and manhandling her legs until they dangled limply onto the porch so that she could try to haul herself upright in the doorway, not by any manner could she stand up.

She was trying again, for perhaps the thirtieth time, when she heard someone come down the stairs with sure steps in the early morning dimness, whistling. The tune was familiar, from the past, a happy time in the Pelhourinho neighbourhood. A whistled tune she’d heard whenever she went to the market – Blind Ric, seller of naked wooden dolls.

“Ric!” she called. “Senhor Ric!”

The sure steps paused, then resumed. Soon he appeared on the level where she sat hostage to her infirmity. “Where are you?” he asked.

“Over here. Watch out for that board!” she called out, but he was far more mobile than she had been, tapping with his slender cane, avoiding obstacles.

“Say something else,” he said, when he stood in front of her.

“No, I’m right here,” she answered, supposing he needed her voice to guide him to her. “You’ve found me.”

“Dona Maria Novaes!” he exclaimed. “Can it be? Dona Maria in the favela?”

“You know me by the sound of my voice, after all these years,” she marvelled.

“A voice to me is as a face to you. And voices don’t change much. But what are you doing here?”

“I don’t belong here,” she said, without thinking, then added, “Oh, not to say that anyone does. It’s a disgrace, that people are forced to live this way. I didn’t mean to offend.”

He laughed. “Don’t apologize. Of course you don’t belong here. But it seems your life has not been as fortunate since your husband died.”

She thought of the events of those years, the loss of so many of her children, and of Vera, so sick and with such a terrible man for a husband. Then she looked around at the favela, and said, “My life hasn’t been that bad. My daughter has a nice apartment and a new baby. But her husband brought me here when she was in the hospital. He paid Fat Paulina to keep me.”

“Oh, you’re that one. And now the wretch won’t pay anymore, I heard.” He added, gently, “They say your daughter is dead.”

Firmly, she replied, “It’s a lie, Senhor Ric, if you could just telephone Vera. You made her a doll once, do you remember? She’ll send a taxi and pay you for your trouble. We’d be so grateful.”

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