Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Bequest

This is my first attempt at [Fiction] Friday. I'm surprised at the way this piece developed; it's very dialogue-heavy and dialogue is not my strength. Overall, I'm please with it as a first draft with no editing.

“What did the lawyer say?” Mark asked as soon as Dianna closed her phone.

Dianna swiped her eyes and swallowed hard. “Everything’s mine.”

“Everything?” Mark swallowed the whoop that burbled in his throat. “Your uncle left everything to you?”

Dianna turned to her purse on the counter and began to sort through it. “Yes.”

“That’s great, honey.” Mark bounced on the balls of his feet. “Now we can get married. We have a house and…well, whatever else he had.”

“My uncle’s dead. That’s not great.”

Mark froze, then moved to Dianna’s side. “Of course not, hon. That’s not what I meant.”

Dianna kept rummaging through her purse. “I know what you meant.” She pulled out a key. “Well, I’ll be back soon.”


“I’m going over there to see what’s in the house. I’m sure there are some things to deal with there.”

Dianna moved toward the door. Mark caught her arm and pulled her into a hug.

“I’ll go with you. You shouldn’t be alone now.”

“Sure. Okay.”

In the car, Mark continued to list off plans for the future weeks. Dianna sighed.

“Mark,” she said, “we need to talk about my inheritance. Uncle Mort was…unusual. He was always experimenting, trying to improve nature. I don’t know what we’ll find at his house. You need to be prepared for odd things.”

“Like what?”

“Well, one year he bred a vegetarian tiger. Seemed like a good idea, except the tiger required an entire lawn for each meal to get enough nutrients to live. His experiments always seemed right, but nothing ended up working out.”

Mark pulled the car to the curb and turned toward Dianna. “There’s a tiger at your uncle’s house?”

“Not anymore. He died a couple of years ago. But I’m not sure what will be there.”

“Tell me more about these experiments.” Mark pulled the car back into traffic.

Dianna sighed again. “Not always experiments. Sometimes inventions. Once he made a collar that helped dogs understand human speech.”

“That’s great!”

“You’d think so. But dogs seem to find it difficult to understand humor or exaggeration or symbolic language. Misinterpretations led to injuries, some serious.”


“Once Uncle Mort mused that he was so hungry he could eat a horse. His dogs attacked a police mount. That was one of the lesser incidents, as I understand.”


Mark pulled the car into the long drive and parked in front of the house. They both looked up at the towering structure.

Dianna opened the door. “You can wait here. I—”

“No! I’m not letting you go into that house alone. Who knows what dangerous things are in there. No, I’m coming.”

Mark jerked open his door and strode around the car to meet her. Together they walked up the steps. Dianna unlocked the door and they entered.

“Housekeeper has been coming in, keeping things tidy,” Dianna remarked.

They walked among wires and gears, machines large and small. Mark turned toward the kitchen and Dianna moved into the office. She began thumbing through files, looking for bills and correspondence.

“Six months.”

Dianna turned toward the kitchen. “What did you say?”

“Nothing,” Mark called back.

She turned back to the work.

“Six months. I just need to wait six months.”

“Stop that!”

“After six months this can be mine and—”

“I said, ‘Stop!’”

Dianna couldn’t believe her ears. Mark was arguing with himself. Both voices were his. She quietly moved toward the kitchen.

“Dianna will disappear. I’ll inherit, sell this place, head to the islands.”

“I’ll wring your scrawny neck when I catch you, bird brain.”

Dianna rounded the corner to see Mark chasing a blue and yellow parrot around the room. The parrot fluttered toward her and landed on her shoulder.

“This is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen,” said the parrot. Dianna started. The parrot sounded like her. Not only was it her voice, but it was just what she was thinking when the parrot landed on her.

Mark stopped. “That bird!” he said. “What’s the deal with that bird?”

“I don’t know,” said Dianna.

The parrot spoke in Dianna’s voice again. “He’s gone crazy. What could that bird have done to him?”

“It sounds like you,” Mark said.

“A minute ago it sounded like you.” Dianna cocked her head. “Hmm. Let me try something.” She paused and furrowed her brow.

“Chocolate cake with sprinkles. Vanilla ice cream on the side.” The parrot’s Dianna voice echoed through the kitchen.

Dianna smiled. “The parrot said what I was thinking.”

“Absurd.” Mark began to back away.

“I think you should leave now,” Dianna said. “And don’t call me again. Just be gone.”

“But, Dianna,” Mark said.

“The wedding’s off. The wedding’s off,” The parrot sang.

When Mark didn’t move, Dianna showed him the pistol from the office. “Leave now. Or I’ll move the parrot close to you.”

Mark turned and walked from the house. Dianna heard the car screech away.

“I know what you’re thinking,” the parrot said. “I agree. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Siren

The wail sounded from somewhere but Toby couldn’t find the source. A sound like no one he had ever heard. Not an ambulance or police car. More long and drawn out.

Toby got out of his parked Ranger. He slowly turned in place, scanning the road, the sidewalk, the nearby nooks in the building. Nothing but that sound. Only a few people were scattered around him, some looking toward him and others just walking along.

Didn’t they hear it, too? Toby moved toward the sidewalk and the sound increased. Walking closer to the building, Toby saw a man inside the store. He held something to his lips. Perhaps blowing into it; Toby couldn’t be sure.

Suddenly someone grabbed him. “What are you doing here?”

Toby looked up into the face of a man wearing a blue shirt, an employee of the store.

“What are you doing here?” the man said again. He gave Toby a slight shove. “Go on, get out of here.”

Toby stood, stunned and transfixed. Behind the man, Toby heard a familiar voice.

Juliet said, “Just what do you think you are doing?” The man turned. “Keep your hands off him.”

“He’s with you?”

Juliet almost stamped her foot. “Yes, he’s with me.” She rubbed Toby’s head. “Come on, boy,” she said. “Let’s get back in the truck.”

With a glare, Juliet moved toward the Ranger. Toby trotted behind her, panting. At least that infernal whistling wail had stopped. Toby jumped back into the bed.

“No, boy, in here.” Juliet held the door as the dog jumped out of the bed and into the cab. “I’ll open the window for you, but I want you in here for the ride home.”