“I’ve never met another man I’d rather be. And even if that’s a delusion, it’s a lucky one.”
“Never chase a pretty girl or a tram, there will be another one along in a few minutes.”
My mum was trying to make me feel better, and it worked, up to a point. She would not be the last girl who broke my heart, but she was the prettiest.
My mum had a saying for most situations.
Her ancestors were Irish and the Irish have an interesting slant on most human endeavours.
I’m no philosopher, but it seems to me that we do most things for love; trying to get some, trying to buy some, or trying to forget.
You cannot have love without money.
I know that about now, some of you are howling: ‘You don’t need to be rich to be happy’.
“If you are poor and you are happy you are deluded.”
My mum didn’t say that one.
She was one of those people who believed that money didn’t bring happiness, and therein lies a story.
I grew up in a household where the belief was that people with real money probably did something bad to get it.
Therefore, people with real wealth were probably very bad people.
Can you see how my logic flowed?
I was just a kid, but I swallowed this thought pattern hook, line and sinker.
None of my friends were rich.
No, that’s not true; there was this one kid.
His dad drove a Jaguar, but his wife had died and that seemed to even things out for me, at least it did in my young mind.
I grew up thinking that money had a soul and it was as dark as night.
Naturally, with the passage of time, I worked out that this is a load of old cobblers. It’s the line that poor people feed themselves to make their failure seem noble.
After many years of struggle, we finally had a good year.
We had a bit of ‘spare money’ and it felt good.
We were a long way from ‘well off’ but we were certainly not living ‘paycheque to paycheque’ like we had been for so many years.
I read somewhere that money attracts money, and in order to feel successful you needed to carry more money in your pocket.
More than would normally make you feel comfortable.
A hundred dollars seemed like a lot of money to me at the time, and I was sure that there was a neon sign on my back that said, “This bloke is carrying a serious amount of cash. Hit him on the head and take it. He’s a wuss, he won’t put up much of a fight.”
Screw that neon sign.
I stood in line at the bank and when it became my turn I asked for two hundred dollars, “all in twenties, please”.
My voice sounded funny, but I don’t think that the girl behind the counter noticed. She was cute and I had seen her around, but I doubt that she ever noticed me; my ‘attractive single male’ neon had been turned off for some time.
“There you go Mr. Rainbow. I hope you enjoy your day. Is there anything else I can help you with today.”
“As a matter of fact there is.”
I smiled at her, partly because she was smiling at me and partly because I did not want her to see how nervous I was.
“Is there a jewellery store nearby?”
This is something that I should have known, but my brain had gone into neutral, and she did ask.
“Yes, Mr Rainbow, just across the road. The White Box has beautiful things. Are you going to use all that money to buy your wife something nice? Birthday? Anniversary? She’s a lucky lady.”
“Probably, but firstly I need a money clip to hold all these notes. I didn’t realise how bulky it would be.”
The pretty young woman smiled at me, but I know that she was thinking that I must be a bit dim. Had I not held this much money before? Didn’t I know what two hundred dollars felt like? She handled large sums of money all the time. It was nothing to her. It might have been other people’s money, but it was money just the same, and if her plan worked out there would be a large pile of money in the shoebox under her bed, very soon. All she had to do was not get too greedy.
“Have an excellent day, Mr Rainbow, and please say hello to Mrs. Rainbow for me.”
I looked at her name badge.
“I will Joyce. You enjoy your day also.”
I jammed the money into my pocket and walked unsteadily out of the bank.
I waited for the lights to change so I could cross the street.
Normally, I would have run across the street, dodging cars and enjoying my strength and speed, but today I had visions of being hit by some bozo in a van.
The people would gather around in horror, “He’s badly hurt”, one woman would say.
“He’s carrying a lot of money”, someone else would say.
“Don’t get too close, he must be a bad man to be carrying all that cash”, a small child would say.
The lights changed.
I noticed that a few other people had joined me in my quest to cross over in safety.
The old bloke with the walking stick was trying to stop the medium sized dog from sniffing his leg.
The dog seemed to like the old bloke, either that or the old timer had stepped into something interesting.
We all made it across safely and the dog was very disappointed when its owner went the opposite way to the old man.
The old bloke looked back at the dog and the dog looked longingly at the old bloke.
Maybe they knew each other in a previous life.
As I reached the Jewellery store I was nearly run down by three small children who were escaping from a frazzled mother.
“Quite a herd you have there” I said as I deftly avoided being trampled.
“Give me that wad of cash you have in your pocket and you can have them,” I thought she said.
“I said, you can have them. I’m feed up.”
I smiled, but I suspect that I looked like I had swallowed a lemon.
The shop was exactly what you would expect a jewellery store to look like; all twelve-volt lighting and satin cloth.
The lady behind the counter was about twice the age of the girl in the bank.
It occurred to me that the shop owner had employed her because she gave the premises an air of maturity.
He was right, it did.
She was well dressed and had a sparkle in her eye that had nothing to do with the lighting.
“You look like a man who has a great deal of money in his pocket,” I thought she said.
“Pardon?” I said for the second time that day.
“How can I help you sir?”
The smile that came with the question seemed real. I liked that.
“I need a money clip. Something nice. Something that says I’m not a wanker.”
I wasn’t sure whether I had said that out loud, but the woman didn’t blink. She brought out a small tray.
“We don’t get a lot of call for these. Our customers don’t seem to appreciate such things.”
That sounded vaguely like a compliment to me.
The limited selection was predictable and a bit garish with the single exception of the brushed steel clip with a shiny leaping jaguar. I’d always wanted to own a Jaguar, ever since my mate’s dad had driven us to football practice, all those years ago.
“I’ll take that one, please.”
“Do you have the car to go with it?”
“Not yet, but it’s on the list.”
I removed the wad of twenties from my pocket and the woman behind the counter reacted as though people did that every day. I peeled off a couple and handed them over. I took my change and slid the notes into the clip and put it into my pocket. I imagined some rich bloke in a good suit, with Martini stains on his tie from the three hour lunch he just had with the bloke from Mad Men.
The book said that you should treat money like a tool.
It has no magic powers, it’s just a tool.
As I walked back to my car I noticed a slightly scruffy looking bloke selling The Big Issue. He was standing near the pedestrian lights. I reached into my pocket and got out my money clip. I peeled off a twenty and gave it to him. He gave me a magazine and fumbled for the change.
“Keep the change mate, it’s been a good day for me.”
He looked at me and grunted, but I know that he thought I was a wanker.
Only wankers have a money clip.
I didn’t care.
When I got home that night, the kids were in the back yard playing. Our dogs met me at the door and they sniffed me all over. There was something different about me and they were determined to sniff it out. They followed me around for ages, trying to work out what had changed.
I told my wife what I had done, and although she looked a little bit concerned, she was aware of what I was trying to do, and she had always been very supportive of my hare-brained schemes.
“Can I see the money clip?”
I’m pretty sure that it was the wad of money that she really wanted to see, so I handed over the clip and the money.
I tried to look nonchalant as I took it out of my pocket.
She held it for a moment, then removed the money and proceeded to count it.
“Two hundred dollars is a lot of money to be carrying around Brett Rainbow. Weren’t you scared?”
“A bit, but I felt better after I spent a bit of it. I know it sounds funny, but it seemed lighter and that made me less concerned.”
“How much did you draw out?”
“Two hundred dollars. All in twenties. Just like the book said.”
“You said that you spent some?”
“Yep. Bought the money clip and gave this scruffy bloke a twenty for a Big Issue.”
“I’ve counted it twice, and there is exactly two hundred dollars here. Did you have other money in your pocket?”
“No. Just the money I drew out.”
She handed me the clip and I counted it.
Two hundred dollars.
It didn’t make sense.
“Did you include the twenty that’s on the floor?”
“No, I didn’t.”
It must have fallen off the bed when Betty was counting it the first time.
I pulled out two twenties and threw them on the floor.
I slid the clip over the remaining notes.
I took the clip off and counted again.
Two hundred dollars.
The two twenties lay at my feet.
The book was right.
Money attracts money.
I looked at my amazing wife who had stuck with me through all the bad times.
She had that sparkle in her eyes.
I was pretty sure that there was a neon sign on my back but it did not say “this bloke is a loser.”
Whatever it said and wherever this was leading us, I was pretty sure that it was not going to be boring.
This will be the opening story in my new [as yet unnamed] Short Story Anthology [Book 3 in the series]. I wanted you to be able to read it one last time before it is blacked out on my site. I really love this story and I remember how I felt while I was writing it. At the time, I was exploring my ability to ‘write as a woman’. That is not as easy as it sounds. I did not want to be ‘pretending’ to be a woman. If it did not ring true, then I had failed as a writer. I think that this, and other pieces I have written, where the protagonist is a woman, work pretty well. I hope you agree, and I hope you enjoy this story. The world needs more stories about garden tools; don’t you think?
Originally posted on araneus1:
“So much depends on a red wheelbarrow glazed by rainwater beside the white chickens.”
William Carlos Williams.
Without it I would not have been able to move the body.
I’d always taken it for granted — the wheelbarrow, not the dead body.
It had always been there, leaning up against the shed or sitting quietly, filled with weeds or split fire-wood — just waiting for the task to be completed.
It was ‘on special’ at the hardware store on the high street.
The shop went out of business not long after, but I remember the wheelbarrows all lined up outside with a huge sign saying how much they were and how much I would be saving if I bought one.
The sign had the desired effect.
I’d needed a wheelbarrow for some time and the first one in the stack was red.
The gentleman who served me was happy to…
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The Trivia Man.
Just in case you have to be somewhere, but you really want to know if I liked this book; I really did.
My favourite part of being a writer is creating characters.
This book is full of beautifully drawn characters.
Revealing the characters by using a Trivia Competition, played over several weeks, was pure genius.
The back of the book says that it is entered as a love story, and I guess that is fair enough, but it is a lot more than that.
I suspect that whoever wrote the blurb about this book either didn’t read all of it or seized on one plot line. It does not really matter because it got me to read the book, and I’m glad that it did.
I’ve been away from teaching for almost forty years now, but I do remember kids like Patrick.
Deborah handles the romance part of the story very well indeed.
We get led along, watching the two main characters floundering in a sea of romantic obstacles. I wanted these two to end up together, but the author in me did not want to see it all tied up in a pretty little bow in the final chapter. Ending an excellent story like this could be a nightmare. I’m very impressed with how she managed it.
A few words about the style of the book.
The chapters are short [for the most part] and each chapter comes from the perspective of a single character. It took me a moment to get used to this approach, but when I did, I loved it.
I’m not easy to please when it comes to reading matter. I get bored easily, so it takes an interesting book to keep my interest. I was hooked right from the start and I looked forward to getting back to it every time I had to put it down.
If you love books where stuff explodes and cars overturn while nubile young things embrace at every turn then you are not going to like this book. It bravely has its two main characters as mature people seeking what we all look for, love and significance.
Deborah O’Brien’s understanding of people, and what makes them do what they do, is spectacular.
This is a book about people trying to make sense of the world they live in.
There isn’t a more interesting subject than that.
Terry R Barca.
The two Susans never met, but for a few moments, in this room, they existed for us in a most unusual way.
Our group had been meeting for more than a year.
Every Wednesday night, come rain hail or anything else for that matter.
The group was a little larger on this cold and frosty night. Someone had turned the heaters all the way up and for a change, I didn’t complain. I could not get my hands to warm up. The noise from the heater was distracting but so was the potential chattering of my teeth.
A kind soul had switched on the urn, but the bloody thing took forever to warm up and I was seriously caffeine deficient.
The noise of it warming up was also irritating, but I was prepared to forgive it as long as there was coffee at the end of it.
“Don’t bother mate. The bloody thing’s cold.”
The person putting a dampener on my caffeine ambitions was Paul. He is young and enthusiastic, two things I like; me being not young and occasionally enthusiastic.
“I’ll whack the kettle on, it’ll be faster.”
“You sir, are a legend.” My caffeine ambitions were back on track.
I knew almost everyone in the room with the exception of the older bloke sitting a couple of seats up and a teenage girl sitting about eight chairs around on my right.
New faces were nothing new. This group was a lot like that, even on a bitterly cold winter’s night. Word got around that something interesting was happening and friends of friends just turned up.
I’d been pasting up my latest book for the print edition, and I was glad to be out of the house. I love writing, but I dislike the stuff that goes on around it.
My back was a little bit sore so I gave it a bit of a stretch while Paul put coffee and sugar in our cups.
For some unknown reason, no one had grabbed the comfortable armchair so I staked a claim in the age-old tradition of throwing my scarf over it. Tribal customs of the Hills people.
The caffeine was just starting to seep into my system when the group came to order. I’d spent the previous few minutes in conversation with various friends, doing the weekly catch up. Everyone wanted to know where my beloved was. “Crook as a dog, and it serves her right.”
“That’s not very nice,” was the oft-repeated reply.
“She knows that those bloody grandchildren of ours are walking Petrie dishes, but she will hug ‘em.”
“Grandmothers cannot help themselves.”
“Grandmothers, who are nurses, should know better.”
I wasn’t getting any sympathy so I packed it in.
“Please say hello for us and tell her to get better soon.”
My beloved is very popular. Sometimes known as the Rainbow Warrior, she is about the height of the average sixth grader and has a heart as big as anything large that you can name. No one takes any notice of me when she is around, and fair enough too.
There was no set topic for this particular evening’s discussion and the subjects bounced around the room quite energetically.
I was happy to sit and listen for a while so I hid behind my coffee cup and soaked up the atmosphere.
I really do like these people. They don’t waste time talking about insignificant things. They feel the way I do; this time is precious. We spend the rest of the week wrestling with the world and then we come here where it is safe and people show each other respect. All opinions are valued.
It isn’t always discussion.
Sometimes people tell stories.
We have some excellent storytellers.
Like the night that our moderator told the story about his boss winning a full-size, fully operational ocean going dredge, in a poker game.
That story was hard to top, but a few of us gave it a try. I’ve had a couple of goes, but people know that I just make shit up. I can tell by the way they look at me. Mind you, as long as I can keep a straight face, I get them going. Especially the new members, the ones who haven’t been warned about me yet.
“You really came here direct from the airport, all the way from the US, just to be here tonight?”
“No luv, I just made that bit up. Gotta keep things lively?”
“Don’t worry about him, you’ll get used to it, he does that all the time.”
Not ‘all the time’, just every now and then. When the spirit takes me, so to speak.
The two Susans turned up very late in the evening. I say ‘turned up’, but what I mean is, Betty was talking about a friend of hers who had died relatively young. She was diligently describing her and I got the feeling that she admired this lady and she was missed. Apparently she had a bit of style, dressed well and liked to spend time in little classy cafes, the kind that are hard to find these days since the advent of annoying American coffee houses.
She was just about to tell us what had caused this lady to die when Kate jumped in, “The woman you are describing sounds just like the mum of my friend from high school. How did yours pass?”
“Blood clot, a few days after an operation. Worked on her like crazy but they couldn’t bring her back. What about yours?”
“Mine took her own life six years after her daughter stepped in front of a train. I was there at the time and so was our friend. The daughter put her red headphones on, turned and waved at us and calmly stepped in front of the 4:05 to Finders Street. I could not believe what had just happened. I ran to where her body landed and I put my arm around her and sobbed. The ambulance guys had to pull me away. It took a little while, but it destroyed their family, and after battling her grief for six years the mum had had enough and she left us too. I’ve never forgiven myself for not seeing it coming. I keep thinking that I could have said something, done something.”
“It’s not your fault kid.” I heard myself say. “When people feel the need to leave they will find a way, and nothing you say or do has anything to do with that decision.” She seemed to understand, but it was obvious that she had carried this guilt for a very long time.
After a moment, the two ladies looked at each other and, at the same time said the same thing, “What was your ladies name?”
“Susan.” The two voices spoke as one, and a chill went up my spine.
My group members were not describing the same person but the details of their lives, with the exception of their passing, were close to identical. What were the chances of that?
We were all a little bit stunned by what we had just witnessed so we sat in silence.
Eventually our moderator said, “I think that we are going to remember this night for a long time to come. Some conversations just stay with you.”
He was right.
Eventually, people began to stir and a few of us expressed our amazement at what had just happened. We gathered up our stuff, put the chairs away, emptied the glacially slow urn, and hoovered the carpet. Almost everyone had gone home by the time I reached the front door. It wasn’t my job to turn off the light and lock up so I had time. I turned and looked at the now emptying room and thought about the two Susans.
I had a few things to tell the missus when I got home, but she was asleep, so I told the dogs.
They were happy to see me and they listened intently while I told them the story.
I climbed into bed and so did the dogs. We fought for a bit of space while I thought about the tenuous grip we have on this glorious life of ours and I wondered if my story would end up in a room on a cold winters night somewhere, sometime.
‘The Two Terrys’, now there’s a name for a story.
I wrote this a while ago for my granddaughter Scarlett. My wife tells me that she still gets a kick out of it so I thought that you or some young friend might enjoy it?
He was well known in his local area but in other lands no one had heard of the Shopping Dragon.
He wasn’t the kind of dragon who went around breathing fire all the time, he was conscious of saving the planet and besides, he was getting on in years.
Dragons rarely lived much more than 1253 years and he was well over that.
It is said that in his younger days he used to hang out with some of the Muppets. It was mostly the crazy drummer guy, but occasionally the whole band would turn up.
Once, Kermit came along and sang some of his songs; that was a big night and it went on way past most people’s bedtime.
Next day everyone was grumpy, but it was worth it for it had been a great night.
I suppose you are wondering why they called him the Shopping Dragon.
Most of his friends had names like ‘Death From Above’, or ‘The Dragon Who Ate Paris’, or ‘That Dragon Who Forgets Everyone’s Name’, but he didn’t mind because he really did enjoy shopping.
Mostly he stuck to shopping at the larger shopping malls as he often got stuck if he tried to fit into one of those smaller stores.
It was true that they had nicer stuff but constantly getting stuck was a bit of a drag.
His absolute favourite shopping experience was an outdoors market.
Sometimes he would hang around at the Hot Dog Stand and help them heat up the food. They don’t ask him to do this too often because of that ‘burning down the Hot dog Stand’ incident a year or two back.
He says that it was probably not his fault, but it was best to be on the safe side.
One thing that shopping did was make him very tired.
When he got home at the end of a long day of shopping he would unpack his stuff, have a long hot bath and jump into bed where he would read a book about Dragons in the olden days before falling asleep.
Next morning he would bounce out of bed ready for another day of mystery shopping.
Can you believe that they paid him to do the thing he loved the most; shopping?
What sort of job would you like to be paid to do?
Autumn was her favourite time of the year.
She was average height for a girl and slightly more than average when it came to being ‘pretty’, although you would never hear that from her.
She would become a mum, but at this moment she was single, and hopeful.
She loved walking through the crisp autumn leaves, and she imagined the sound to be something like walking through confetti on a wedding day.
She knew her day would come, but she was in no hurry.
When she married and had a family of her own she would cook with pride but she would never get carried away. Cooking, for her, was one of the ways she showed her love. The fancy stuff was for those who pushed themselves forward; the shiny ones who ended up on reality television shows.
Even as a young woman she exuded an air of calmness and her choices were always conservative, but inside she was more than the warm skirt and cable knit jumper she was wearing on this cool autumn day.
Her heart wanted more, but she wasn’t sure what ‘more’ meant.
More, seemed to her, to require a depth of courage that she was not sure she possessed.
Her clothes were a good example of her thinking.
She longed to wear trousers.
Trousers had long been the symbol of equality.
“Men wear trousers and so can we.”
The thought frightened her a little.
She tried it once, but everywhere she went, she was sure that men were looking at her disapprovingly.
They weren’t; they were admiring her appearance, but that wasn’t what she saw.
The anxiety outweighed the excitement so she went back to her comfortable skirts.
She consoled herself with the thought that she had good legs, and legs could be seen to advantage in a skirt.
Some people can make an occupation out of anything……. like this bloke. Not a bad way to spend your working day.
Originally posted on araneus1:
I answered the ad and they stuck an umbrella in my hands and said, “Hold it for anyone who asks, particularly women.”
They didn’t need to say it twice, I like women.
I like being close to the water. I like the smell of salt in the air and I like to eat so I needed a job.
To be honest, I was more used to handling an umbrella in the winter; rain falling down, that sort of thing.
Women don’t like to get too much sun which is wise in a country where the sun will peel the skin right off you in a very short space of time.
I was a bit hesitant at first but I soon got the hang of it. “Excuse me madam, would you like to be ‘umbrellaed’?” Mostly they looked at me a bit funny at first but usually they said yes.
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