Here’s the third post to end my term AND this guest fiction challenge. Thank you, Everyone. Thank you!
Pt 1. – The Beginning
Pt 2. – The Middle
Pt 3. – The End (this one)
Hahn /Spokane/ Insurance
A fire you had to put out this week? Relationship issues
Where do you go for peace? My apartment
Favorite relative? Twin sister
Best gift or surprise you’ve given? Valentine’s care package to a long distance boyfriend
A food you won’t eat? Octopus. Too slimy
A city you’re curious about?Athens
As a kid, what did you want to…
This is the second of three posts where unsuspecting guests help to build a short story.
Pt 1. – The Beginning
Pt 2. – The Middle (this one)
Pt 3. – The End
Michael /South Carolina/ Retired Medical Researcher
A fire you had to put out this week? Let’s see… a lot had to be done before we left … trying to remember … routine things … had to squeeze in a visit to my parents, make arrangements for the animals, store the tools and machinery…
Where do you go for peace? Anyplace I can be alone. I like to walk in the woods, but…
This is the first of three posts where I wrangle an unsuspecting Pfister guest into a short story project.
Pt 1. – The Beginning (this one)
Pt 2. – The Middle
Pt 3. – The End
Today, I asked for random details to shape the beginning of a story.
Jeff / Milwaukee/ Writer & Producer
A fire you had to put out this week? Deciding on whether to spend a lot of money on a rug.
Where do you go for peace? Lynden Sculpture Garden
Favorite relative? My Aunt Vanda. She reminds me of my mother, who’s no longer with us. She’s…
You have reached your bewitching hour. While most people will unwind inside the cushioned margins of prime time, you won’t shrug away the day until it’s ready to expire. You are not governed by office hours or bedtimes. You will review and research and design and sort and package and analyze and schmooze until your limbs and attention vehemently protest. When you can no longer deny your hunger, fatigue, neck cramps or that blister on your left heel, then you will stop.
You will stop long after your neighbor has put away the gardening tools and your kids…
“Let me tell you a story about the Colorado River…”
The speaker is only a few minutes into her keynote address. From my seat at the back of the grand ballroom, I can barely see her diminutive frame on the dais. I’m sitting on a stray banquet chair between two elaborate exhibits for water purifiers and intelligent faucets. I’m pouting.
I’d been unable to wrangle a conversation from the conference planners I’d met down the hall. They’d gracefully ducked my efforts to engage them, then shuffled me to the ballroom to hear their luncheon speaker…
Maggie Janssen is the Senior Vice President of Global Communications for one of the largest and most respected non-profit organizations in the world.
Well, not yet.
I found Maggie stationed at a skirted table outside of the Imperial Ballroom. At the entrance behind her, a diagram has been pinned to the partition beginning a maze of exhibition panels and displays. A similar schematic is on the table where Maggie sits.
The ballroom is almost empty and its deflation of energy was palpable. A handful of people in lanyards milled around, the long day beginning to drape heavily over their…
“You want to know about Indian culture?” he asks with a raised brow.
I pick up my pen, square my shoulders, and give an affirmative bring-it-on nod.
The lobby lounge is relaxed after a full day of visitors and tourists trafficking through the hotel. I’m having an evening coffee at the bar and my guest, Murali, is unwinding with a glass of whiskey. His flight from India touched down only a few hours ago. He’s in the t-shirt business and his work carries him all over the globe: Sri Lanka, Australia, Europe, Japan, Singapore. He…
I’ve always enjoyed fall. Not because of the burnished and bronze treetops or the soft comfort of an old sweater or for the ubiquity of football. Definitely not for the football.
Rather, I am incredibly buoyant during the early fall months, inspired by the season’s warmth and currents of change. Perhaps it’s trace enthusiasm for the first days of school. It might be my practice of renewal during my Libra days. Or, maybe, I have ancient agrarian roots still eager about the harvest. Yeah, maybe.
Whatever the source, I am aware of the conversion taking place. My…
“Don’t you remember when police officers had the baseball cards?”
This happens a lot. Though I’m Milwaukee-born, I’m an Army brat and didn’t fully experience the city until I moved back an adult. Subsequently, I miss many of these “remember back when” references of my Milwaukee-bred peers.
“Don’t you remember??” he insists.
Gabriel is a true son of Milwaukee. I met him over a decade ago when he was a radio personality for WMSE. As we pass one another in the lobby, we both do a double take, hug, and fall into our…
When people wax poetic about “the good old days,” it’s not often that they’re referring to the 15th century.
“Artists had it best during the Medici period,” my table mate says to me. She’s referring to the Italian dynasty famously credited for ushering forth the Renaissance. Their patronage of promising new artists such as Botticelli, Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and even Galileo launched a trend where arts patronage became one of the ultimate status symbols for wealthy families.
“If there were a tax break, patronage might have a comeback,” she says. “We do need patrons…
It’s like hearing a song from your past in the car speakers beside you at a stoplight, or when a favorite book cover winks at you from behind the fingers of a fellow traveler. An artificial familiarity, but comforting just the same.
A table of professional African American women, still in their heels and lined skirts, sit at a high cocktail table in Mason Street Grill.
I greet them with hugs right away. We’ve worked, volunteered or socialized in many overlapping circles through the years. In spite of Milwaukee’s size, I always describe our city as a…
…continued from “To Tell Our Truth, Part 1″
“We have to do more of this!” new Michelle says, gesturing to our tabletop of appetizer plates and empty glasses. We nod and toast in agreement.
A 2007 American Bar Association report titled “Visible Invisibility” describes how black women in the legal profession face the “double burden” of being both black and female, meaning that they enjoy none of the advantages that black men gain from being male, or that white women gain from being white. ~Washington Post
“When I first moved here I was baffled to find out we have…
By all accounts, Timothy Westbrook is a cheerful guy. He’s beaming whenever I see him: showing one of his fabrics to a guest, chatting with staff, carrying a cup of coffee through the halls or waving from behind the sewing machine in his studio. Beaming.
His good mood radiates with a different frequency today. Three of us have joined him in the studio: a chick with a notepad (me), a guy with a video camera (Dustin) and the woman he credits for launching his weaving career. I watch as he smiles and fidgets with papers on his work station…
I spotted the boy first. A fair-headed toddler with the ambition –if not the arm extension—to reach the hand towels all by himself. Up on his tiptoes, he wiggled and stretched his fingers toward the sensor. His small grunts only rumbled out as giggles.
His mother and I watched for an extra heartbeat before she fanned a hand in front of the red light. The box whirred and dispensed a length of paper towel. The boy was elated. His mother and I exchanged a knowing glance: they first fall in love with their impact on the world at…
“So, who’s going to read this? Where will it be published?”
I suppose this is what it’s like to talk with a spy or an undercover agent.
“Do you have to use my real name?”
Or a fugitive from the law.
“You’re not going to mention where I work, are you?”
Or, maybe, someone in witness protection.
“I just don’t like to have my business out there.”
As someone who has broadcast innumerable episodes of my personal life into print or a microphone, I was wholly intrigued by this Spy Agent…
Zoom in close. The young performer engages every facial feature to deliver this song. Pan out slowly, take in her full frame. She’s comfortable at the microphone and at home behind her guitar.
Her singing is inspired and sincere. The lilt and texture of her voice is an appealing mix of Toby Lightman, Stevie Nicks and Sara Bareilles. Pan out a bit further to take in the late afternoon sun lighting the furniture of Blu. Most of the chairs are empty. Two small tables chat in the back of the room. One other person is with me at the…
… and then it was over. More than a year of searching, planning, budgeting and finger crossing, reduced to a memory in an instant.
“Everyone tells you it will go by fast,” said Ashley, “but I remember thinking ‘it’s a whole day, how fast could it go?’”
I’m with Ashley and her husband, Luke, on the mezzanine above the lobby. We’re surrounded by art, antique furniture and display cases filled with artifacts. This sitting area is the quickest to access from the lobby –just up the marble staircase- and often the quietest. We tucked ourselves into this enclave…
The first thing seized is the nose. The smell is, at once, familiar and exotic: chocolate, ginger, hyacinth, grandma’s house and ocean breeze. This must be the scent of ambrosia.
Next, the eyes take in the organic symmetry of the room: open and clean lines, recessed nooks and uncluttered walls, multiple sitting areas, oversized planters and ottoman. The space is bathed in comforting tones of caramel and sand. Soft leather. Textured fabrics. Brushed metals. Polished glass. The décor is resplendent refined, the livable chic of a Park Avenue apartment (or, I should say, how I imagine a Park…
Tom and Marge are almost there. One kid is halfway through college and the other has just vacated the guest room.
“You’re not off duty when your kids turn 18,” says Tom. “Not even when they’re out of college. A good friend warned me long ago that 30 is the new cutoff.”
Marge is wearing an “Illinois State Mom” tee shirt, which is what initially caught my attention. I earned my undergrad degree from Illinois State University and was pleased to see the unexpected Redbird pride.
“Our daughter is studying communications,” she said. “She’ll be a sophomore…
“I don’t have the personality to keep asking questions that someone doesn’t want to answer,” Dustin says. “I’m not imposing enough and I don’t like to make other people uncomfortable.”
Coupled with a dawning shrinkage of the newspaper industry, Dustin abandoned plans for a journalism career toward the end of college.
“I was too far along in the program to change majors and still graduate on time,” he said, “but I realized my interest in print journalism was going to be a dead issue.”
We’re sitting in the Café late in the afternoon. Only two…
They were like the prologue for a coming of age film, an assuring glimpse at how adulthood will frame their childhood adventures. John, with his salted hair, and Perry, with laugh lines softening his eyes, fell into the couch beside mine talking and laughing with the fluid shorthand of longtime friends and the loosened inhibitions of Summerfest beer. They were neither obnoxious nor loud, but generated an energy that pulled me in like static.
“Ours is a timeless tale,” John boomed when I asked them to tell me their story. His smile was confident and his blue eyes were sharp…
I’m on a stakeout. Granted, I’m not disguised as a delivery person or hiding behind a newspaper. There are no binoculars or dark shades involved. No two-way radio tucked into my sleeve. Although the excitement tickling my gut might suggest that I’m crouched behind a dumpster aiming a telephoto lens, I’m actually perched on a low bench in Blu. It’s a handsome crowd and most are here to watch the fireworks. One person is here to rewrite history.
Larry is at a table with his girlfriend, Stephanie. I’ve known her for…
There are rules, and there are rules. The first kind, we largely agree to be hard fast: stealing is wrong, kindness is good, unhealthy eating creates an unhealthy body, and cutting off someone in traffic fills your rear view mirror with crude hand gestures.
The second kind of rules, even italicized in our minds, are the ones we might conveniently recast as “guidelines:” wearing a helmet, copying your supervisor on every email, visiting the dentist twice a year and waiting until Happy Hour for an afternoon cocktail.
I brush away these mental italics and sip my whiskey. It’s almost…
It’s like a Couples Wonderland in here tonight. Practically every chair in Blu is filled with someone’s better half or, perhaps, better halves to be.
Beyond the south wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, a starlit and indigo sky stretches across the view, mirroring the dim hues and flickering candles inside. I take a slow lap around the room and then stand by the bar. I greet the bartenders and wait staff as they flow back and forth, but keep a keen eye on the room. I’m watching for any movements to suggest the imminent surrender of…
This isn’t what I expected at all. Where’s the fast talking guy with the water purifiers? What about the charming woman in the quilted vest with the doggy spa? The tall, awkward man in a bowtie who brews “savory” beer?
When the elevator doors slip open onto the seventh floor ballrooms and the Tenth Annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, I expected a labyrinth of skirted tables, exhibition panels, tabletop screens with looping videos and eclectic characters barking passionately about their business venture. Instead, I arrived to find 500 business suits listening intently to a tailored keynote speaker.