Ghost Dog

I’ve never been one to believe in apparitions, mystical beings, signs from the universe or Karma (unless she visits someone who is a veritable boil on the buttocks of the Earth.)  Then, I believe.

Today was just another ordinary day.  It began with the usual chores.  I mean chores like making the bed and actually getting dressed.

It was rainy and cold…the kind of cold that cuts through you like a knife, despite the thermometer lying that it was a balmy 54°.

After exhausting myself by putting on my socks and shoes, I sometimes indulge in grabbing my sustenance (Boost) and sitting out on the hard concrete steps on the side of my house.  I look at the sky that is exactly the color of my house and then affix my gaze to what’s left of a tree, directly in my sight.

That tree had to have been five hundred years old.  Most of the top is gone and I have often wondered why the trunk was left standing.  I mean…it’s only the size of a small country.

After my first sip of Boost and my first whimper about it being “cold outside,” a dog came through the bushes from the house next door.  My first reaction was to sternly say, “Go away!”

It hesitated for a second and then turned and did exactly as ordered.  A few seconds later, the dog returned.  I don’t really speak dog but in my kindest bark, I said, “go on back home.”

It paid about as much attention to me as my children did when they were young…and teenagers…and young adults…and older adults.  I suspected for a second that the dog might be one of them and my eyesight was really failing me.

I finally allowed the dog to get closer and discovered that it was a she, and was an “older she.”  I think she might be a pit-bull (Yikes) but I really don’t know enough about dogs to be certain.  She is obviously “with pups” and I mean she must be carrying five-hundred thousand of those little critters.

I gave her a bowl of water, but I think she wanted food.  She was so thin and frail and I could see her ribs.  She was trying to eat grass, or maybe she was looking for grub worms or the bones of a body that had been buried incognito, many moons ago.

Now…you all can imagine what my refrigerator looks like.  Yes, it has a mountainous amount of Boost, but I think I may have a bottle of mustard in the door.

I got an old towel and put it down for her to sit on but she only sat there for a minute.  I came back in and she tried to follow me into the house. Aw.

I opened my refrigerator door again, looking for a pot roast or chicken that maybe in my old age I had forgotten about, but alas, old mother Hubbard’s cupboard, uh, refrigerator was bare.

Suddenly, in the back of the top shelf, I spied a pack of bologna.  I remember getting it.  A few weeks back, I had a hankering for a fried bologna sandwich.

I never had one of course.  That would require me turning on the stove, getting out a frying pan and actually standing there until it had the much coveted black edges that I love.

I took out a few slices and gave them to her.  She scarfed them down like she hadn’t had anything to eat in weeks.  She almost took my hand with it.

I’m not a dog person, but I can look in their eyes and tell when they’re sad or lonesome.  This girl was one of the saddest dogs I have ever seen.  I don’t know how long it had been since she had felt the warmth of a human hand, but she rested her head on my knee while I petted her, and never moved.

I told her that I was sorry I couldn’t spend the rest of the day, sitting outside in the cold with her.  It was like she understood.  She got up and started walking down the little brick pathway leading to my driveway.

When she got to the other side, she turned around and looked at me.  I told her that it was okay.  I was sure her owners were looking for her.

She walked behind that huge tree and I waited to see where she would go. After a few minutes, I walked over.  I thought maybe she was laying down, resting, or Heaven forbid…giving birth.

When I got to the tree, she wasn’t there.

Where Do All The Untold Stories Go?

Where do all the untold stories go?

Maybe they drift aimlessly around the universe, being held captive while waiting to gently fall onto a blank piece of paper, or a not yet violated computer screen.

I have stories to tell.

Some stories may be fantasy, inspired when one looks at a rose and thinks, “I will throw it away, when the last petal falls’.”  Or it could be a story prompted by a caller, who always leaves a message saying, It’s me.”

Some untold stories may get a brief taste of freedom, only to become prisoners, locked away in a random file cabinet, or in an unnamed folder somewhere in cyberspace.

One of the cruelest fates of all…is an untold story.

Some stories can be of unspeakable torture.  Some stories can be of unbelievable kindness.

Some stories can be of one who has felt the warmth of another’s arms and the coldness of another’s shoulder.  Some stories can be of dying and death.  Some stories can be of birth and life.

Some stories can tell of humorous anecdotes.  Some stories can tell of early lives, when time was young and so were they.

Some stories can tell of fantastical, fire-breathing dragons.  Some stories can tell of horrible abuse from a terrorist alcoholic monster.

Some stories can tell of dreams that were never realized.  Some stories can tell of nightmares that became harsh reality.

Some stories can be of times when forgiveness was begged.  Some stories can be of one considering selling one’s soul to the devil, just for one small taste of sweet revenge.

Some stories can tell of laughter that ultimately turned into tears.  Some stories can tell of tears that turned into complete and utter surrender.

Some stories can tell of unimaginable loss.  Some stories can tell of indescribable happiness.  Some stories can tell of soul-killing grief.

There is no limit to the imaginings of an author, who has loved ones to hear their stories.

I have stories to tell.

I have stories to tell, but what good are they, when I have no one to tell them to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Letter – Chapter Ten

Another month went by and Alice hadn’t received another letter from Jacob.  She was worried but knew that mail traveled slowly, and also knew that Jacob was working hard.

She found herself remembering that in his last letter, he said that he was a little bit in love with this lady.  She could understand the attraction of a wealthy, high-born, poised older woman, but he hadn’t said that she was an older woman.

What if she was a younger woman?  A younger woman who might confess that she was a little in love with Jacob?  A younger woman with aspirations to leave a bit of herself behind, just as Jacob wanted to leave his mark?

Alice quickly dismissed what she told herself were silly notions and patiently counted the days until she received another letter, and even more anticipated, the return of her beloved.

Still, she wondered why he hadn’t told her much about what he was doing.  It wasn’t so much that she thought he was keeping something from her; he just wasn’t being very forthcoming.

Thirty-eight days after the last letter, Alice was delighted when she received a letter.  As she opened the envelope, her hands shook slightly with nervousness.  With absolute joy, she began to read:

My dearest darling,

By the time you get this,
I will already be on my way back 
to you.  Please forgive my indolence
in writing but things were being hurried. 

I have been successful,
although there have been some 
disagreements with the builders.
I will be traveling with the lady, but I
want you to know that I have remained
and will forever remain true to you, 

my darling Lissy.
Upon my return, I have a marvelous

surprise for you my dearest.

P. S.  I have enclosed a picture of 
the lady I have been working for
and will be traveling with.
I think when you see her, you will

understand my infatuation.
Until we meet again, my dearest
darling, I remain,
Your loyal and faithful husband,
Jacob

Alice clutched the letter to her chest with her right hand and carefully rubbed her stomach with her left.  She had a marvelous surprise for him, too.  As she put the letter down, she opened the small envelope enclosed with the letter.  “Ah,” she said to herself.  “This must be a picture of the lady he has spent so much time with.”

She opened the envelope and took out the picture.  Across the top, in bold letters was written:

THE RMS TITANIC 

 

Die Einde.

 

 

The Letter – Chapter Nine

Alice’s heart sank.  She knew what he was going to say.  She swallowed hard and hid her disappointment as she asked, “are you going away again?”

Jacob said, “I am, but if all goes well, when I come back, we are going on a whirlwind trip.  We’re going to go places we’ve never been, we’re going to see sites we’ve never seen, we’re going to meet people we’ve never met, we’re going to stay in the finest hotels and we’re going to dine in the finest restaurants.”

He continued.  “While I was in San Francisco, I was approached by some gentlemen who admired my work.  They asked if I’d be interested in putting the finishing touches on a project for a woman they described as a ‘fine lady’.”

He smiled and said, “I imagine she’s some wealthy, bored heiress who is in the process of restoring some fancy new hotel or maybe an elaborate art gallery, which will bear her name.  The work would be quite the feather in my cap.”

Alice said, “it sounds intriguing, but where are you going and how long would you be gone?”

Jacob took her hand and said, “you must be understanding, my darling.  I would be traveling to Europe and I would be gone for at least two or possibly three months.  Most of the work is done but, as I said, I would be assisting in the completion.”

Alice said, “of course you must go, but I shall miss you terribly.  I feel as if I am not whole unless you are with me.”  She hesitated as if she didn’t really want an answer when she asked, “when will you be leaving?”

Almost agonizingly, Jacob said, “in three days, but my darling, although our parting will be ever so bittersweet, my return shall be glorious.”

Alice spent the next three days, trying to think only of Jacob’s promise of untold adventures, but she was desolate.  Before, her loneliness had been tempered by Georgia, but Georgia was gone.

The day arrived when Jacob boarded the train, which would take him to the port of call.  As before, Alice said a prayer as she stood and waved until her beloved was out of sight.

She tried to busy herself and not dwell on things like missing Jacob, and her Papa, and Grace and Georgia.  Occasionally, she would go to Tierney’s for hot chocolate and a Bonbon, and even shake things in town up a bit by arriving in trousers, but for some reason she felt empty as she sat there alone.

After almost three weeks, Alice received a letter in the mail.  She felt like a little girl on Christmas morning, opening a special present as she read:

My dearest darling,

I arrived safely, although I 
will admit that more than
once, I was stricken with 
motion sickness.  I am stricken
with even more sickness, from
missing you.
I have met the lady I will be
working for and I must confess
that I am quite taken with
her and perhaps even a little bit in

love with her, but don’t fret, my 
dearest.  It shall be a fleeting
affair.  There’s not much time
for writing but I will write as 
often as I can.
Your loyal and faithful husband,
Jacob

She held the letter to her chest and whispered, “thank you.”  Once again, her prayer had been answered.  He had arrived safely.

 

To be continued__________

 

 

 

 

The Letter – Chapter Eight

Two weeks and a day after Alice received the last letter from Jacob, he arrived at the train station.  She could hardly contain her excitement as she embraced him.  She smiled and said, “you must tell me all about your adventure, but not before we have some time together.”

The next morning, Alice told Jacob about Georgia.  “She reminds me so much of Grace,” she said, “but her father has plans for her.”  Jacob queried, “what do you mean?  What kind of plans?”

Alice said, “Georgia carries a torch for a young gentleman, whom her father thinks is not suitable.  He wants her to marry a wealthy man.  It’s just so sad, because I believe that she will bend to her father’s wishes.”

A month later, Alice and Jacob went to Tierney’s and saw Georgia sitting at a table with a middle-aged man.  In a low voice, Alice said, “that must be her father.  He’s a lawyer in town.  Do you recognize him?”  Jacob said he didn’t.  Alice said, “I’d like you to meet Georgia.”

They walked over to the table, the gentleman stood up and a surprised Georgia said, “hello Alice.  This handsome young man must be your Jacob.”

Jacob extended his hand and said how happy he was to make her acquaintance and followed it with, “I’ve heard such lovely things about you.”

Then Georgia said, “please allow me to introduce you to my fiancé, Mr. Horace Spellman.  He’s the president of the B & O railroad.”

Alice had to hide her disappointment as well as her anger as she allowed him to kiss her hand.

Horace looked at Jacob and said, “I understand you travel quite a bit on my train, young man.  We must see about getting you a discount.”

Georgia could see the displeasure on Alice’s face and said, “Alice.  I would like to extend an invitation to you and Jacob.  Mr. Spellman and I are getting married in two weeks and I would like very much for you to attend.”

Alice quickly said, “I need to powder my nose.  Georgia, would you like to accompany me?”  Georgia, as if in servitude, asked Horace if he minded, which angered Alice.  As soon as they got out of earshot, Alice said, “what are you thinking?  I know you don’t love that man, not to mention that he’s old enough to be your father!”

Georgia said, “my father arranged the wedding.  In return for a lavish life-style, plenty of money, financial help for his failing practice and the promise of a male heir, he gave Mr. Spellman my hand in marriage.”

Alice forcefully said, “I beg you.  Don’t throw your life away.  Wouldn’t you rather be with someone you love instead of being some old man’s drudge, catering to his wishes and being nothing more than a silent, pretty face and a brood mare?  And what if you don’t produce a male?”

Alice calmed down and said, “we only have one life, Georgia, and we mustn’t waste one minute of it doing the wrong thing.”

One week later, Alice and Jacob were at Tierney’s, and gossip was abundant.  Georgia had defied her father, left town and married William.

The server smiled and handed Alice a note when she brought their hot chocolate and Bonbons.  It was from Georgia.

Dear Alice,

Thank you so much for
opening my eyes and giving
me the courage to follow my
own path.
I will write when we get settled.
Your eternally grateful friend,
Georgia

Alice smiled and hoped to someday see her friend again.  Before the smile left her face, Jacob said, “darling, I have to tell you something”

 

To be continued_________

 

 

The Letter – Chapter Seven

Alice busied herself with the daily routines of life, albeit missing Jacob and wishing every minute that he was with her, but she didn’t retreat to solitude.

Twice a week, she went to Tierney’s for a cup of hot chocolate and a Bonbon.  It was one of her favorite places to go and the visits always brought back such fond memories.

One day, she quite literally ran into a young woman named Georgia.  They laughed at the dark, chocolaty stains they both wore on their frocks, and after futile attempts to remove them, they began to talk.

Georgia reminded Alice of Grace and she liked her straight away.  Georgia was very prim and proper, the epitome of what a young lady of those times should be, but she wasn’t stiff or hubristic.  She had a delicious, almost naughty sense of humor and a high-pitched, head-turning squeal when she laughed.

Alice told her about Jacob and how they met.  Then she told her about the day she and her Papa had seen him with another woman.  Georgia let out such a guffaw, that she had to reach for her elaborately detailed smelling salts holder.  Recovering, she said, “mercy.  This corset is going to cause the death of me yet!”

Alice asked Georgia if she had a beau.  Georgia, blushing bright red said, “I have my eye on a certain gentleman, yes.”  Then she fanned herself and said, “I get the vapors just thinking about him.”

Alice leaned forward and whispered, “you must tell me all about him, but first, what’s his name?”

Georgia said, “his name is William Longstreet and he’s a lawyer.  My father has a firm here and he works for him.  Maybe you have heard of it. The Morgan Phillips firm.”

Alice made a polite apology but said, “perhaps Jacob knows him and has done business with him.”  Then she smiled and said, “or perhaps he knows and has done business with your beau.”

Georgia sighed and said, “alas, it’s become an unrewarding occupation. There just isn’t enough business for all the lawyers here.  My father’s firm used to be so busy, he barely had enough time to come home for supper, but no more.  Wouldn’t you think that in the age of constitutional reform, there would be a need for lawyers?”

Georgia became solemn when she said, “my father doesn’t like William.  He doesn’t think he’s suitable for me.”  When Alice asked why, she said, “he wants me to marry rich.  He wants me to put on airs and act like we’re royalty, just so I can land a wealthy husband.”

Alice put her hand on Georgia’s and said, “what about love?  Doesn’t your father want you to love and be loved?”

Georgia said, “I think my father would rather I be rich than happy or in love.  See, he and my mother married because it was good for the family. My father’s family were wealthy landowners and had a lot of money.  After my mother and father married, his parents died.  They couldn’t afford to pay the death taxes, so they lost all the land and most of the money.”

Alice told Georgia that she must get back home, but looked at her and said, “you are a strong and from what I can tell, a reasonably intelligent woman.  Fight for what you believe in and never let anyone make you do something you don’t want to do.  Don’t give a fig about rules.  Make your own rules.”

As she was leaving, they agreed to meet every Tuesday, until of course, Jacob returned.

When Alice got home, a letter was waiting in the mailbox.  She rushed inside, sat down and opened it.

My dearest darling,

Things are moving more rapidly
than I had expected.  Everyone
seems to be excited about the work
we are doing and have done.
I believe my part will be accomplished
in no more than two weeks.
Then, my sweetest one, I will be anxiously finding
my way back home to you.
Your loyal and faithful husband,
Jacob

Alice felt as though she was walking on air.  Her beloved would be returning and once again, she would feel whole.

 

To be continued________________

 

 

 

 

The Letter – Chapter Six

Death had come knocking twice in as many weeks and the loss of her Papa left Alice devastated.  Her only solace was believing that he and her mother were finally together once again.

Papa had talked to her about dying, and told her not to grieve for him when his time came; for he had tried to be an honorable man and being re-united with the love of his life would be his long-awaited reward.  He said, “I have been fortunate enough to have experienced great love.  I have loved someone with all of my heart and I believe your mother loved me with all of hers.”

As with Grace, Jacob and Alice decided to celebrate Papa’s life and laughed as they reminisced about the day she and Papa saw Jacob and Grace together, and how that happenstance had almost cost them their future together.

Jacob cupped Alice’s face in his hands and said, “don’t fret my dearest darling.  Just think of how rich we are from having known them and having had them in our lives.”  Jacob had a way with words, as had Grace.  He also had a way of making Alice feel as if she was the most important person in the world.  Their bond, she thought, was going to be unbreakable.

Six months later, Jacob had news.  A hotel in San Francisco had suffered major damage from the 1906 earthquake.  It had been renovated to serve as City Hall but now there were talks to convert it back to its original beauty and purpose.  A previous client had put forth his name to help evaluate the restructuring, and he would be leaving in three days.

Taking the job would mean that he would be gone for several weeks.  He hated the thought of leaving Alice, but he knew that she would be fine, as she was a strong-willed and independent little spitfire.

She would miss him but she also knew that it would be a wonderful opportunity to further his already established, but not yet quite renowned career.  She expressed her dismay that not only was he was going to the other side of the country, he was going to the very spot where just a few years earlier, a catastrophic event had occurred.

He assured her that statistically, it would be another hundred years before such a calamity would happen again, and with a smile said, “besides.  I will make sure that the new hotel will withstand mother nature’s mighty wrath, should she decide to shake things up again.”  Alice said, “don’t tease me. You know I couldn’t bear it if something happened to you.”

Jacob said, “nothing is going to happen to me, except finding it agonizingly painful to be separated from you.”

It was the day of departure and Alice was unusually melancholy.  Jacob tried to cheer her up but he understood.  He knew that his heart would feel empty and incomplete without her, but he promised to write every day.

Jacob boarded the Transcontinental Express and blew kisses to Alice from the window.  The loud whistle sounded and the train slowly started moving down the tracks.  Alice said a prayer as she stood and waved until her beloved was completely out of sight.

A week later, she received a letter.

My dearest darling,

I arrived without incident, although as you
can imagine, it was a long and tiring trip.
I am getting ready to settle in for the night
but wanted to send my love and tell you
that I am thinking of you and already
missing you terribly.
Your loyal and faithful husband,
Jacob

Alice closed her eyes and whispered, “thank you.”  Her prayer for Jacob’s safe arrival had been answered.

 

To be continued__________