Friday, July 31, 2009

S4C Final episode

S4C – Nurture/Destroy Episode 10

“I was so jealous of Gladys,” Ada moaned and wiped her eyes outside the private dining room at Sunny Valley. “Mother of six, mother-of-the-bride, and -groom and grandmother, and now great grandmother how many times over?”
Lois patted her sister-in-law’s arm. “Best to let that go and join the family.”
With the extra tables the Quacious clan passed plates where the teenage waitresses couldn’t squeeze by to serve. Laughter echoed off the walls. As Brad’s fabulous crepe desserts were being handed out, Silent Sam entered, escorting a gray-haired lady with smoky blue eyes and a gentle smile. Clearing his throat, he introduced his wife-to-be and turned to Ada.
“I waited so long, because no one before was enough like my best gal.”
Weeping, Ada leaned into Alf, who held her and reached to shake hands with his gangly son.
“Now, Auntie Lo?” Little Seth, clutching his puppy purse, gaped up at the adults.
“That’s up to Samuel,” Lois, ducking beside Tom Archer, waved the younger generation to take over.
At a smile from his bride-to-be, Silent Sam cleared his throat. “Ma, Pa, we know it’d be hard for everyone to come to Texas. We didn’t want to cheat you out of a full Quacious celebration.”
Ada blinked at the length of her son’s speech.
“So we’re gonna do it again. Here. Pastor Marble says it’ll be a renewal of vows and we can redo the whole ceremony – for everybody.”
Gil rose. “And here, from all of us, Ada. Enough frequent flyer miles for you and Alf to visit a these newlyweds a dozen times a year for a decade.”
Ada was, for once, speechless. But her expression said it all.

That evening, only Lois, leaning back contentedly in her rocker, and her brothers – and Tom Archer  lingered in her suite #231.
“You know, Quint, that saying you tried to tell me once about what nourishes me, destroys me?”
“Over indulgence,” Quint nodded.
“Part of it, I’m sure. But I was so full of my sorrows that I found myself murmuring against how you was a little imp and finally too much for my beau Daniel. Like it was your fault you were going on four. Indulged myself in what I’d missed out on.”
“A lot, Lois,” Gil stirred, ready to apologize for what the brothers had cost her.
“Mebbe, but look what you all have given me. The scales don’t come near to balancing, and the good is all in my favor. Why, I declare…”
And off she went into story after story of the farm and the antics of her boys.
After a while, Gil leaned toward Tom Archer. “I think our folks had a premonition when they named her LoQuacious. Think she’ll make it all the down?”
Tom frowned, but the brothers nodded.
Quint and Brad rose, approaching Lois from behind.
She went on talking.
Carefully they tilted her rocker over backwards.
Lois, back to herself, never missed a word all the way to the floor.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

S4C serial challenge -- "Nurture/Destroy" Episode 9

Episode 9 – Nurture/Destroy

“We tried to call,” Gil apologized finding Lois and her bent friend Tom Archer weeding in the courtyard. “The gendarmes…?”

“Police? Ah.”

“I like him,” Gil smiled when he and Lois were alone in the elevator.

“Tom?” Lo blushed, realizing she hadn’t thought of Daniel all day. “Hmm.”

A dozen Quaciouses were crowded into #231 when the two plainclothesmen arrived. Seth shifted on Lois’s lap. The taller one blinked.

“Better not try to arrest her with this gang to defend her.”

Chuckles cleared much of the tension.

“Just wanted all of you to know that we’d found old records at the hospital. Doc Travine had left confidential notes and a copy of the letter from Lincoln County about your parents hitting that buck, Ms Quacious. Your mother was killed and your father evidently refused to leave her. Died before they could get him help.”

“No charges against me?”

“For raising us on your own?” Quint scoffed. “The way Brad, here, turned out…”

The laughter this time was richer than mere titters.

“That’s a relief,” Ada sighed. “We were worried, weren’t we Alf?”

Alf glared until Lois touched his sleeve and nodded. “To all of us, sweet Ada.”

“’Sweet Adeline…’” Brad broke into broken baritone, and even the detectives guffawed.

“When is Samuel’s wedding to be?” Lois asked. “I’d bet this clan will fill up a plane flying to Texas to celebrate. Oh, excuse us, Officers. We didn’t mean to take up your time with family affairs.”

“When? In Texas?” Murmurs of congratulations to Ada and Alf were cut short as they realized Lois was addressing the plainclothesmen. “Thank you, Officers, for bringing good news personally like that…”

The phone rang, and Lois nodded to Gil, who was closest, to answer it.

“Never met a family like yours, Ms Quacious. Our privilege. If there is ever anything…”

“There just might be…” Gil said with the grin that Lois had known since childhood meant mischief. “There’s been a bit of thievery…It’s Tom on the phone. He wants to bring up a ‘friend’?”

“You want to report a theft, Ms Quacious?”

“Oh, no, nothing that drastic. But if you’d be so kind as to put a scare into a lady with sticky fingers?”

Roberta, Ada and Gladys had lemonade doled out, with Seth’s in his favorite Spider Man cup when Tom rapped his now-familiar pattern on Lois’s door.

“Archer, Ma’am,” he announced as he ushered in the tiny gnome of a woman with lank hair who now stood wide-eyed, gaping at all the people in the room.

“Didn’t know it were a party,” she croaked. “I loves parties.”

“Then come on in!” Gil stepped up to introduce her. “These are Detectives…”

“Detectives?” she gasped and turned to duck away, but Roberta’s straw purse with the woven hound head whipped out from behind her

“My puppy!” Seth screeched, scrambling down from Lois’s lap.

“Officers,” the woman stammered, “I…”

Lois reached for Tom’s hand as he came to stand beside her rocker.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Episode 8 Nurture/Destroy

Episode 8 Nurture/Destroy

When she was young – even in her sixties – Lois could roll with the punches, pick herself up, dust herself off. But now, as she watched Gladys slip out of Suite #231 of Sunny Valley, Lois knew a weariness unassuaged even by little Seth blowing a kiss over his pudgy hand. She found herself wishing the tot was saying good-bye at Auntie Lo’s funeral.

“Lois Melissa!” she chided herself aloud, but only partially shocked at her wish. The years, the problems had piled up and Lois, no longer a problem solver, staggered under her own inadequacy. No wonder she’d gone silent. Even Quint no longer teased her about her amputated talking streak.

A rap at her door made her jump.

“Archer, Ma’am,” announced a firm, masculine voice that so reminded her of her youthful Daniel. “Puppy pursuer.”

Hazy as she was with self-pity, Lois blinked a moment trying to understand. And then she knew: Tom had found Roberta’s purse with that blasted woven puppy head!

“Come in!” she cried, rocking forward.

He’d never been in her apartment before, but his eyes didn’t stray, at least as much as Lois could tell with his neck bent as it was. “Care for a stroll in the courtyard?”

They were nearly too late. But Lois glimpsed enough of the lanky white-blond hair and narrow features to be able to recognize the thief again. The puppy was once more last to be whisked onto the elevator before it rose.

“What’s her name?” Lois demanded, and then immediately retracted, remembering Tom’s reluctance to tell tales. “I’m sorry. I have no right to ask you. Thank you for keeping me up to date on the investigation. I don’t think I’ll tell the staff. No need for unpleasantness. I’ll watch, and I’ll know what to do.”

The corner of Tom’s nearly hidden mouth turned up in what must have been a boyish grin.

When she looked up, Lois was startled to see Alf watching with particular interest the retreating curved back of Tom Archer.

“Must’a been a fine-looking man in his day,” Alf commented as he held the door to the courtyard. “Shame what happens to good people.”

Lois gaped up at her oldest little brother: Two full sentences in a row, and neither in reply.

He grinned. “You’ve gone silent on us, and Ada’s blubbering over Sam.”

“So you can get a word in edgewise?” For the first time in weeks, Lois bent in a low belly laugh. But then her eyes narrowed. “Why aren’t you two thrilled that Samuel is marrying? Have you met her?”

“Yep,” Alf nodded from his 6’4”. “Like her a lot. Bossy, talkative. Runs her kids and grands and greats like someone else we know.”

“Local gal?”


“Texas? Ah! And she doesn’t want to leave her family? Even for the wedding? No, especially not for the wedding, I’d imagine. Can’t you two fly down? Oh, they plan to live there, too.”

Alf stared at a hardy zinnia. “Yep.”

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My new play will be read at Willamette Writers Conference!

Scene 2 of "Howl Twisted in the Wind" will be read by professional actors at the play lab on Friday night, Aug 7 at the Airport Sheraton Inn! The celebration is part of the Willamette Writers Conference there that weekend. Yahoo!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Episode 7 Nurture/Destroy

As the elevator rumbled up and away, Lois jabbed at the call button and, a true fan of mystery movies, watched the dial to see at which level the thief stopped. The lift lumbered to the second floor and then the third.
Knowing it was fruitless, Lois grumbled until it finally returned. Lois entered and tried to press the up button, but a large, blue- veined hand held the door open for four more people ─ three with walkers ─ to crowd inside. Stuck in the back, Lo had no view down the corridors at either stop. At last she sank from third to second floor and shuffled to #231. The puppy purse thief had gotten away.

“At least I know you’re a resident. I’ll find you,” Lois muttered as she shifted from walker to rocker. “I’ll find you.” As she nodded into a nap that she didn’t want and knew would interfere with tonight’s sleep, Lois’s thoughts drifted to Ada’s peculiar reaction to the news of her son’s upcoming wedding.

The man whose curled back imprisoned his chin against his chest was already seated for breakfast when Lois arrived.

“Mr. Archer, good morning.”

Tom bent at the waist in greeting. Lois glimpsed a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth. “You saw the wayward ‘puppy.’”

“How did you know?”

“Sunny Valley’s a motley collection of people, but our grapevine is first class.”

“So you know who has the purse? She’s done this before?”

Tom tilted to look up at her the best he could.

“You’re not a gossip, are you?”

“Peace here requires a lot of tolerance. We are human.”

Little Seth came running to her. “Auntie Lo! Did you find my puppy?”

Gil’s Gladys pulled the little blond boy gently away, but Lois eased herself into one of the benches off the foyer and beckoned for the child to come into her arms. They talked a moment and then Lois rummaged through her tote bag for her heavyset keys.

“Will you find my apartment key for me, please, big boy?”

The child was soon enraptured poking at every nook and cranny available at his height.

“Glad, what is it? Now don’t pretend with me. Ada?”

Gladys shook her head, eyes brimming.

“Let’s walk in the courtyard.”

As Seth checked each flower with the tip of a key, Gladys pointed discreetly let her grandson. “His daddy. Possibly CA. Gil so wishes it was him instead.”

“Or me,” Lois agreed under her breath. “I can’t see worth a spec, can’t hear half, and can’t work. What’s the point?”

“Oh, Lois, I’m sorry to burden you. I know you’re torn apart being in this place. I do wish you’d come back to the farm and stay with us.”

“And know I’m a burden? No, dear one, thank you, but we’re all better off with me here with my own kind.”

“No one is kinder than you, Lois.”

Lo’s mouth dropped open. “Bossy,” she protested.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Episode 6 of Nurture/Destroy

Nurture/Destroy Episode 6

Lois was deep in a dream of darting along the irrigation pond with Daniel, laughing, chasing her. Daniel, freckles vivid on his cheeks pinked by summer sun on a redhead’s pale skin, blustered as he caught her. “Lo,” he whispered.

“Lo?” the voice repeated, harsher this time, but the calloused hand on her shoulder was gentle. “Hey, Sis, we’re sorry to waken you, but…”

Blinking, Lois returned reluctantly to room #231 in Sunny Valley. She sat up in her rocker. “Alf?”

Her gaze leaped from her oldest brother to his wife. Ada, known for her combativeness, looked suddenly all of her seventy-eight years. Her silver-streaked white hair, usually carefully if unattractively combed, flopped in strands. Her pale blue eyes were red-rimmed. Alf had chosen for his wife a woman so much like, not his mother (whose loving qualities he had buried along with the pain of losing her), but his sister, the boss of the family and the farm. Ada, nearly Lois’s peer in talkativeness, had recently become champion talker as Lois found she had little to say and no one to listen. But now both women sat silent.

Alf, father of and model for Silent Sam, found himself uncomfortably the one making explanations.

“Good gracious, Mister,” Ada finally lifted her blotchy face to snap, “stop mumbling and get to the point!”

With a tiny smile of relief, Alf went still.

“It’s Sam, my son, my only son!”

“Samuel’s hurt?” Lois demanded but Ada dissolved again into tears.

“He’s getting married,” the laconic Alf summed up.

“Well, that’s good news – isn’t it? Samuel’s never been interested before. Why aren’t you two thrilled?”

“Oh, you never understand!” Ada huffed, rising. “Come, Mister!” she commanded and rushed from the room.

Alf stood torn between explaining to his sister and following his distressed wife.

“Go to her, Alfred. You can call later and let me know.” Lois shooed him out. In his own good time, Alf was would deliver clear and distinct information.

Nodding in her rocker until her bird-call alarm chirped, Lois rose heavily to start her long shuffle to the dining room. Dinner bustled. Her tablemates chattered, and Lois, after picking at the dry, flaked pink mass that had been billed as Columbia River salmon, rose to shuffle back to her room.

Although she’d promised herself she’d tackle the gently-rising stairs at least once every day as long as she was able, Lois started toward the elevator. Lois Melissa was tired. Bone weary.

“Sign of depression,” she scolded herself, “and the Quacious family knows the remedy for that: good, honest work!”

She chuckled bitterly. She hadn’t been able to do anything constructive in months. “Piddling!” She bit at the word in disgust and started again toward the elevator, only to glimpse a straw purse with a woven puppy head being yanked onto the elevator just as the doors closed.

“Dratenflankle!” Lois cried, lurching forward. “That’s Roberta’s purse and I’m gonna find out who took it!”


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Serial: Nurture/Destroy Episode 5

Snatching up her walker, Lois hustled into the corridor. It wasn’t Ada yelling, but a short gnome of a woman with ill-cut straight hair who was clutching at the crotch of her lime green polyester pants in front of the unisex public restroom.
“Lemme in there!” the woman hollered as she pounded on the door with her free hand. “You witch, lemme in there or I’m gonna wet myself! I’m partly paralyzed and I gotta have the bar on the wall to pull myself up!”
“Welcome to Sunny Valley,” Lois whispered toward the person behind that battered door. To the all-but-dancing gnome, she said, “I have a pull up bar in my bathroom. Would you like to…”
The dance jerked Lois’s way and then past her. The gnome disappeared into #231. Lois maneuvered forward to rap gently at the hall bathroom door. “She’s gone. You can come out now.”
“I was done, but I was afraid to come out,” a paste-white, oval-faced lady whimpered at the door she held barely ajar. “Where is she?”
“Using my facilities,” Lois pointed back toward her apartment. “I’m Lois…”
“You’re the new guest with all the grandchildren and the brother who makes those cream puffs.”
“Grand nieces and nephews. No children of my own. Just my brothers,” Lo started to explain, but the sound of flushing startled them both.
“I can’t get away!” the white face disappeared and the door closed with a distinct click as the lock slid closed on the inside.
The gnome of a woman waddled out wiping her hands on Lois’s handtowel Roberta had embroidered with an elaborate “Q.”
“Musta been a kid done this,” the gnome commented as she peered at the irregular letter. “Rob was eight at the time,” Lois explained.
“Eight, huh? Must not’a had a very good teacher. Here.” She laid the wet towel on Lois’s arm and, hitching up her lime green pants, and swung away down the hall.
Open-mouthed, Lois leaned into her walker and watched the gnome disappear into the south corridor.
“Talk about poor teachers,” Lois muttered. “Who instructed you in manners?”
“Talking to yourself?” a male voice rasped behind her and Lois startled, dropping the wet towel.
Incredibly long fingers reached to pick it up. Only a man with Marfan’s Syndrome could have fingers like that.
Alf and Ada’s only son shuffled beside her. She looked up into that gaunt, Abe Lincolnesque face and saw emotional pain she’d never witnessed in Silent Sam.
“Come in, come in, child,” she said though Sam was in his early seventies. But first she rapped again at the bathroom door. “It’s Lois. She’s gone,” Lo informed the closed door.
Sam’s shaggy brows lifted, but he asked no questions even as he helped Auntie Lo into her rocker.
“Sit down, Samuel,” Lois invited, forgetting for the moment that his lanky frame was far more comfortable unfolded. “What is it?”
“I - I tore her apart,” Silent Sam whispered.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Nurture/Destroy Episode 4 Flash serial contest

Episode 4

“You knew about your parents’ accident? At the time?” The beefier detective peered from under thick eyelids. Even Silent Sam appeared about to say something. Of course, he wasn’t competing now with his mother, Ada, Lois thought, then bit her lip to chide herself for meanness.
As they heard the knock, Lois knew it was her oldest brother and his wife – it served Lois right.
The detectives indicated Alf and Ada were to sit without speaking. He motioned for Lois to continue.
“Pa was driving Ma to take care of her sister Louise, sick with milk fever. Hit a buck. All three killed, though the buck staggered a hundred yards before he went down.”
“The buggy had no windshield,” Ada protested.
“Pa had a Chivvie,” Alf told the policemen. “Teaching me to drive. That made me maddest, that that Chivvie was gone.”
Only the detective’s glare shut Ada’s mouth, but even Lois was heartsick to hear such a confession from Alf. He’d shouldered a man’s workload before he needed to shave and still he condemned himself.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone, Lo?”
Tears sprang to Lois’s eyes. Indignation. Fear. The near panic she’d felt those decades before when Louise’s husband came to take little Quint while the search for Pa and Ma was going on.
“We’re a family!” she’d stated then. “Quint stays with us. Pa said.”
Then she’d had to substantiate the lie: Pa had telephoned; Pa would be home soon. Trouble with the Chevy but they’d be home soon.
“It was only way they’d let us stay together. By the time everybody knew they weren’t coming, they could see we were making it on our own. They let us stay together.”
They stared at her in silence.
“You were fifteen, Lo,” Silent Sam whispered. His father Alf had turned away, blowing his nose hard into his handkerchief.
The detectives rose. “We’ll check, best we can,” they told Ada. Nodding at the others, they closed the door to #231 behind them.
“All these years. Why didn’t you tell us?” Ada demanded.
“Hush, Mother!” Sam snapped. “Auntie Lo did what she had to. And so will I.” He unfolded his long frame from the sofa, nodded to his father, paused in front of his mother as though he would say something more, and then lumbered to the door.
“Sammy!” Ada wailed, but he left without turning.
They sat a moment listening to the Seth Thomas clock measuring unforgiving time.
Alf drew Ada out of her chair. “Lo,” he nodded, too overcome to say more.
“Wait ‘til it’s confirmed,” Lo instructed, “for their sake,” she added when Alf shook his head. “No doubts.”
He nodded again and herded his wife away.
Lois rocked, staring at the rag rug, remembering each tiny shirt or blouse she’d sewed or mended for her boys. Four brothers. Her boys because no one else could keep them together.
She was allowing a memory of Daniel creep in when she heard an anguished howl.