9 June, 2010 Somehow I seem to have fallen out of fictional inspiration lately, having difficulties finding the time and inspiration to focusing my mind on it. It is still my hope and intention to some day get back to the Wordzzle game and finish off The Slumber Party Mystery story.
records, impulsive, really cool, bread crumbs, angels, Sponge Bob, magical moment, back and forth, suffering, good fences make good neighbors,side effects are generally mild, clingy, rooster, samples, curiosity
The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 26 – At the Hospital
At the hospital, a male nurse by the name of Robert Sponge, generally called Sponge Bob, had had a difficult time getting blood samples from the Brigadier General. The female nurses, on the other hand, found the old man to be rather clingy. It was hard to understand what he wanted, because when he tried to speak, it sounded most of all like the crow of an old rooster. But one of the younger nurses going back and forth between the beds showed a bit more curiosity, and said she was sure he kept repeating the word angels. "I think he is an old darling and really cool, just a bit impulsive," she said to her older colleague, while brushing some bread crumbs off the General's chest after trying to get him to eat a sandwich for supper. "I think maybe he is trying to tell us he had a magical moment, like a near-death-experience." The other nurse looked sceptical. "Good fences make good neighbours, that's what I always say," she said mysteriously, while drawing the curtains between the beds.
Now Sponge Bob was back, trying to convince the General to take some pills a specialist had prescribed after checking his hospital records. "The side effects are generally mild," Bob said. "Trust me, the doctor does not want to cause you any more suffering." The old man sighed, and reluctantly swallowed the pills.
Wordzzle 77 Mini Challenge: class, calendar, keeping secrets, boring, fashion
The Slumber Party Mystery Chapter 24 – One More Question for Diana Glancing at a calendar on the kitchen wall in the General's house, Lieutentant Skittles suddenly realized that if today was Friday, tomorrow was Saturday. Before he left, Adam Challenge had said he would come down to the police station tomorrow. But the police station was not open on Saturdays. Skittles was pretty sure that the doctor was keeping secrets from him, his behaviour had been very suspicious. Maybe he had better make sure that the doctor did not try to leave town? But before he himself left this house, he wanted to ask Diana about something. He told Bumblebee about his intentions, and then found his way back through the corridor to the hall, and up the stairs to Diana's room. Her door was still open, and he found her sitting on her bed reading a fashion magazine, the very image of a spoiled upper class young lady. She looked up as Skittles entered, and put the magazine aside.
"So you are still here, lieutenant?" she said. "Don't you have anything better to do on a Friday evening? I thought I heard Adam's car leaving again a while ago. And William, too."
Skittles felt sure she had not only heard, but seen them both from her window.
"I will be off soon," he said, "but I have one more question for you. The doctor showed me an invitation card he had got for this evening. Who sent it?"
"I did," said Diana, without hesitation. "Or we. Evenings here can be pretty boring, so I asked grandpa if we couldn't invite Adam for supper. He likes the doctor, so he didn't mind. So I used one of his card's to write on."
"And why did you call it a slumber party?"
"Oh, that," said Diana. "Just a joke. Grandpa keeps nodding off half the time, Adam knows that. And then…" She gave Skittles a mocking smile. "Well, if he'd take it as an invitation to stay over night, that might have been fun. One way or the other. If he had wanted to stay, that would have been a development I honestly wouldn't mind. If he had been shocked, I would just have given him the grandpa-nodding-off explanation and looked innocent. I'm good at that," she added, with an expression to prove her words.
Skittles decided, for now, to keep to himself the doctor's opinion that the note might also be interpreted as a message from the General hinting that he intended to take his own life.
Wordzzle 77 - 10 Word Challenge: blind panic, apartment, fleas, soap operas, cajun cooking, free and easy, legal, sangria, public school, new The Slumber Party Mystery Chapter 25 – More About Adam
Of course there had been no emergency call the second time he ran off from the General's house either. During the interview with Skittles, Adam had just pressed that button on his cell phone that adjusted the ringtone. Once again he had fled in blind panic from a situation he could not handle.
He unlocked the door to his house, and stepped inside. He went into the kitchen, opened the fridge, poured himself a glass of sangria and took it back with him to the living room. He wished he could turn back time. Instead of going to the General's house, he should just have stayed at home watching soap operas on TV. He wondered if he would ever get back to feeling free and easy again. It seemed unlikely.
His forced his thoughts once more back to the accident in Italy, years ago - the burning car, the death of his first wife. He had thought he would never get back to normal after that. There had also been a lot of questions to answer and legal business to sort out after Eve's death. First in Italy, then back in the States. But he had been very young. He got himself together, finished medical school, and then went to work among poor people in a big city. Closing his eyes, he could still bring back the shabby apartment buildings, the smell of cajun cooking, how he felt the first time he discovered his patients had fleas. And then he had met Linda, new teacher at the public school. They were passionate about the same things, and for a brief time, he had felt happy again. But then someone had set fire to the school where Linda worked, and she had died trying to save one of her pupils. Adam had arrived on the scene too late. He had seen the building burn, knowing Linda was inside, but had not been able to help. The police were sure the fire had been started by an arsonist, but they never found out who. Adam had not been able to bear the thought of staying in that city. He had moved on, and had eventually been able to open up his own practice, in a small quiet town.
superlative, flea market, falling leaves, disinformation, who was that masked man?, keeping kids out of trouble, I'm a believer, bonnet in the attic, staff, generation, deep in the forest, government, charming, heirlooms, flabbergasted
The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 23 - Conversation in the kitchen
Choosing a corridor on his left lined with so many mysterious objects that it could easily have been mistaken for a flea market, Skittles eventually found his way through the staff quarters to the kitchen. There he found the butler busy with something at the sink, and William sitting at the table, talking. Like many others of his generation, the young man seemed to enjoy using superlatives in every other sentence. High risk of more disinformation, Skittles thought.
"… keeping kids out of trouble, that sort of thing," William said. " Do you remember when she found that old bonnet in the attic for Diana to wear to the fancy dress ball, but Diana convinced her to make her a Zorro costume instead? 'Who was that masked man?' people kept asking afterwards. William started to hum a tune that Skittles recognized as "I'm a believer", but interrupted himself when he became aware of Skittles standing in the doorway.
"Hello lieutenant. We're just talking of old times while waiting for falling leaves." Seeing Skittles' raised eyebrows, he quickly added:
"Sorry, it just feels like a waste of time to just sit around waiting. My boss will be furious that I didn't get back before closing time, and I still have tons of goods in the van that should have been delivered to other customers. Knowing my boss he won't think it reason enough that I saved a charming old gentleman and his heirlooms from being destroyed in a fire deep in the forest.
Skittles looked out of the window. He did not agree that a few trees in the garden was quite the same as "deep in the forest", but let it pass. He wasn't really interested in questioning William further, since the young man had clearly not arrived until after the fire had started. He told him so.
William looked flabbergasted.
"You mean I have been waiting around for nothing?" he groaned. For a moment, it seemed like he was going to add something rude, but then he just rose, and left through the kitchen entrance, muttering something in a very low voice between his teeth. Skittles thought he could distinguish the words "writing to the government".
Skittles turned to Bumblebee.
"I do, however, have a few more questions for you," he said. "Miss Diana says she saw Dr Challenge arrive here twice this afternoon. Can you confirm that?"
"Yes, sir," said the butler. "I did hear his car earlier, before I went outside with the drinks, and I remember saying to myself, 'That car really needs a new muffler', and then I saw it disappearing down the road. He does not usually come on Fridays. But Miss Diana had told me he would be coming for supper. I don't know if it was by her invitation, or the General's. I did not notice when he arrived - it must have been while I was not in the kitchen - and I wondered a bit why he left again, but thought that maybe he had had an emergency call or something. That would explain it, wouldn't it?"
"It might," said Skittles, adding to himself: If the doctor had not known that an emergency call could have been checked out, and had instead started talking nonsense about going home to change his shirt…
reluctant, sacrilege, territory, humiliating, master of ceremonies, gesture, dirty deed, crumbling, thaw, token, official portrait, personal bank account, shoulder bone, unbearable, widow The Slumber Party Mystery Chapter 22 - Avoiding the humiliating truth
Adam still felt reluctant to answer. The truth was so humiliating. He might not have committed a really dirty deed, like murder. It was still a kind of sacrilege, considering his medical profession, to have run away from a fire without trying to help.
"Who saw me?" he asked. "I mean – who says they saw me arrive twice?" he added, a little too late for Skittles not to take his first reaction as a token that he was on the right track.
"Never you mind who saw you," said Skittles, making a mental note to ask Bumblebee if he had also made the same observation as Diana. "Just explain."
"So what if I came, and left, and came back?" said Adam, trying to regain position as master of ceremonies. "It's not a crime to forget something, is it?"
If I'm lucky, he thought to himself, no one can tell for sure when the fire started, or if I went round the back of the house the first time I came, before I left again. But he felt his defences crumbling. Or melting, like ice in thaw.
"So you're saying you forgot something?" said Skittles. "What, exactly?"
"I forgot to… change my shirt," said Adam desperately, regretting the words the moment he'd uttered them. However, this was another answer so unexpected, that Skittles again felt himself losing control over the territory.
"You forgot to change you shirt?!" said Skittles, with a gesture indicating disbelief.
"Yes," said Adam, sticking with it. "I was wearing my white shirt but noticed it had some stains on it. So I went back and changed to my lavender shirt. Since it was a party."
"But a moment ago you said you did not think it really was an invitation to a party," Skittles objected. "You said you thought the Brigadier General might be planning to commit suicide."
At that point, Adam's cell phone rang. Before Skittles had time to stop him, Adam had answered the call.
"Yes, Dr Challenge speaking," he said into the phone. "Broken shoulder bone? Unbearable pain? I understand. I'll be right over."
Adam put the phone back in his pocket and said to Skittles.
"That was a patient," he said. "A poor lonely widow. Had a bad fall. I have to go over immediately. I'm sorry, but can't I come down to the station tomorrow and fill in the rest? I've really told you all I know, and after all, it's not as if anyone died." He rose, shook hands with the astonished lieutenant, and left the room.
"Well, I never…" said Skittles to himself, distractedly taking a nectarine from the bowl on the table, biting into it. In a way, Dr Challenge was right, of course. It was not as if someone had died. Or even as if someone's personal bank account had been emptied. But there had been a fire, even if it was in all likelihood caused by accident, and had been put out before it caused any real harm. Still, the Brigadier General was in hospital, and there were some mysterious circumstances. Actually more and more mysterious, the more people he talked to. Like who sent the invitation card to the doctor, and why? And why was the doctor being so evasive in all his answers? Skittles couldn't help feeling a nagging suspicion that even that phone call might somehow have been faked, although he didn't know how. He had heard the phone ringing…
He went out into the hall, with the intention of finding his way to the kitchen, where he presumed he might find the butler, and maybe still also the boy from the grocery store. Looking around wondering what door to choose, his eyes fell on what he supposed must be the Brigadier General's official portait. He had indeed been an impressive man in his day, Skittles thought, and quite handsome, too.
fair warning, hormones, journalism, philanthropist, burgeoning, running the bulls, saturation, tossed in the towel, whine, indelicate details, hard labor, lurid, quick fix, sizable contributions, trumpet
The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 21 - Fair warning
Interviewing reluctant witnesses, Lieutenant Skittles thought, was like running the bulls. You had to keep ahead of them. First he had had to deal with that young girl, burgeoning with hormones, crying like a waterfall and babbling about the love of her life. And now the doctor, the object of Diana's feelings, seemed to have reached his point of saturation, too - breaking off in the middle of a sentence, and starting to whine about being thirsty and asking for fruit! More likely than not, there were some indelicate details the doctor was trying to avoid revealing.
The problem when being alone on a job was that you had no one to play good cop/bad cop with, you had to choose. Skittles was tempted to take the easy way out again, playing the goodhearted philantropist, but decided to wait a while yet before he tossed in the towel.
"First we finish the interview, then you can have a nectarine!" he said to Adam. "I'm giving you fair warning: Don't try to sidetrack me, it won't work. You said you thought Diana might be coming home for a summer job, but that was only after…? After what?"
Adam had had a few seconds to think while Skittles hesitated.
"After school?" he suggested, weakly, not really believing he'd get away with it.
But the unexpected answer did throw Skittles off guard.
"After school? What's that supposed to mean?" he asked, feeling confused.
"Well, she goes to school, doesn't she?" said Adam, defensively. "Studies journalism, or something of that kind, I believe."
"She said to me she's writing a book," said Skittles, thoughtfully.
"Well, there you are then," said Adam; and Skittles, again, felt completely lost. How could it be so hard to keep control over a simple interview?
"If she's writing a book, I bet it's either a murder story or a ghost story," said Adam. "She was always very much into lurid tales, even as a child."
It was really hard labor to keep this conversation on track, Skittles thought to himself. On the one hand, for all that he knew, the doctor might actually be giving him sizable contributions for the bigger picture. On the other, Skittles couldn't get rid of the feeling that Adam was just trying to quick fix some slip of the tongue he had made earlier.
"Doctor Challenge," said Skittles, in as trumpet-like voice as he could accomplish, "let's get back to topic, shall we? Who do you really think sent you that invitation card, and why?"
"Now I think it might have been Diana," said Adam. "But wouldn't the simplest thing be to ask her whether it was she who sent it or not?"
This might just go on for ever and ever, Skittles thought. Whether innocent or guilty, people always tried to hide their own secrets by directing the attention towards someone else. Then, suddenly, he remembered what it was Diana had suggested that he should be asking Adam.
"Right now, I'm questioning you," he said. "You were seen coming to this house twice this afternoon. You came, you left, and you came back. Explain, please!"
This is a blog where I wrestle with attempts at fiction, and participation in challenges like Wordzzles.
The Slumber Party Mystery
The Slumber Party Mystery is an ongoing story which is based on the Saturday Wordzzle Challenges from the blog Views from Raven's Nest. Each Saturday, Raven provides 10+5=15 words and/or phrases, which you are supposed to weave into a context. You can use either the 10 words, or just the "mini" 5 words, or all 15 together as a mega challenge, as you please.
I have been partaking since April 2009; my first entry based on Raven's Challenge # 57, and originally published at my blog The Island of the Voices.
I did not really have in mind to make it an ongoing story, but somehow it turned into one. From Challenge # 90 onwards, I decided to move the whole story (previous episodes copied) to this blog instead.
If you are new to the story, or feel that you have lost track of it (I don't blame you!), there is a summary.