Cassandra Nevada Gets Fired

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She timed it so that she would be seated in the boardroom first, before any of those little pissants that were about to do her in drove up the ramp into the car park of the building that she built brick by brick with her own two hands.

Well she signed the paperwork  and brought in the workers that did the actual work but why split hairs now?

Cassandra Nevada was about to be ruled irrelevant and fired and turned away from the only job she had ever had or done well for that matter.

She could have played with her phone as she waited, she could have carved a litteny of profanity- Profanity being one of the many languages she had mastered- at her Father’s insistence and her Mother’s overbearing ‘support’ so that she could be the very best Cassandra Nevada the world had ever known.

She spun around and around in her chair and wondered what she would do with all of the time that would be dropped into her lap. Eating a lot of pizza and drinking heavily she guessed. She saw a lot of cats and in her future too.

The door opened and for a minute it would appear it had opened on it’s one because no one was in the doorway.

But then one pallid face after another gathered in the opening and they filed in- trying very hard to pretend that they were looking her square in the face. Of course they weren’t and that brought the tiniest of smiles to the corners of Cassandra’s mouth.

” Good morning Ms Nevada” Pert and sassy Kirsten Simpson chirped as she closed the door behind herself.

Ah. Kirsten Simpson, it appeared, was the designated Hatchet man. Of course. Send her in last. Just like a Bride walking down the aisle to meet her Groom.

This was Kirsten’s  day apparently.

” I’ve had better, not many but you know. Better.” Cassandra rocked back and forth in her chair and out of habit she motioned for her Board to sit and they sat obediently- if Cassandra had dog treats she would have tossed them around the table.

Kirsten jumped right into the fire.

” The direction of this company, your company has changed and it comes with no small pleasure that you as an individual have not changed with us.”

” Really?” Cassandra was honestly surprised. ” I thought you’d be over joyed with that. I mean, ” Cassandra stood up and at least 8 eight chairs slid back from the conference table and the rest of them tried for no good reason to push themselves closer to it. ” look at all you’ll have to gain.”

Cassandra rolled on: ” Everything- every single pie I have put my fingers into, every single deal I have ever made, every man, woman and child-even the ones who aren’t born yet that will call on us and the services we offer to help them in their time of need.”

” That’s the problem Ms. Nevada. You own so much and all of it is built on old technology, dated research and to be honest your public image…”

” Careful there Sweetheart.”

” It’s a bit- intimidating for-

” Don’t.”

” A woman.”

” Christ on a horse, you really went there.”

” The point is, we need a more approachable and user friendly image and you are not able to project that.”

” You know Kirsten, that was the point. We do serious deals with serious people. ”

” That model-”

Cassandra was trying very hard to not let- to coin a phrase her Mother used- to let her devil’s horns show. Once you lost control of yourself her Father believed you were toast. And he would know. He had a long history of popping arteries.

” The model where we actually ask for signatures- written- not printed, not followed by little emojis on actual paper? That we only used clocks with faces and hands in our offices That I demand my employees are fluent in at least three languages and that yes we are actually closed down on Sundays?”

” Locking us out of our system on Sundays puts us behind, we spend all day-”

” Working. Which is what you get paid for.”

” Come on release me. Go ahead. ”

And they did.

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Cassandra found herself in those last moments in her Company with Kirsten.

” You know, my parents insisted I master Math and Latin. Did you know that?”

” I think we put that out on one of our older info promos we did back in the day.”

” They believed that Math like music is the Universal language. And Latin. So many rules,so many lessons in Latin. It was painful to have to learn a dead language. It’s not like I could trot up to the executive washroom and shoot the breeze with people in it. I am literally the only person in this entire organization that knows it.”

Kirsten looked smug. Cassandra was outdated and old school and she just proved her point- thank you very much.

” Why did they insist on it, if it was a dead language. Your parents were a bit on the theatrical side if not practical from what I understand.”

Cassandra Nevada leaned into Kirsten’s ear and whispered, ” Because, you can raise all sorts of hell with that dead language. All kinds of Hell. ”

And then Cassandra pushed her hair away from her face and she went ahead and let her horns show because it was that kind of day.

 

 

The Grave Tale of Murder Dog and Trash Panda

Just a story about two Gravediggers and Ghosts.

Lots of ghosts.

Dug up to Inform, Honor and Stimulate Ideas

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Murder Dog and Trash Panda are gravediggers at the Leaning Birches Cemetery right here in Washington state and they have both been keeping grounds there for over 30 years.

Murder Dog ( Mundy Wolf ) and Trash Panda ( Elspeth Sung) used to tell people they took on those names back  in their wild days as Punk rock musicians back in high school. The truth is, they were both honor role students.

But the girls assumed they would never get jobs digging graves with names like Eli and Muni so they made up the wildest nicknames they could think of, and lo and behold they got the jobs.

They dug graves, ran heavy machinery, helped the Funeral Directors in the embalming room and they trimmed and mowed and kept the grass and trees and shrubs looking neat- but not to perfect.

Doc Treason ( that’s Docia Treason, the sole proprietor of Leaning Birches ) was very picky about that- the grounds should look natural, wild a little separate from the world around it.

Doc had all sorts of wild ideas about death- but she paid well, she never had a bad word to say about anyone living or dead and she was a soft touch when it came to people without a lot of money to see their loved ones into the next world- so whatever she said pretty much went.

Her staff on the other hand lacked her general temperament.

Sometimes Murder Dog and Trash Panda would see a Funeral Procession winding it’s way down one of the two roads that cut through the cemetery and before the hearse passed them their tools would be stashed behind a tree or in the maintenance truck’s bed. Their sunglasses would be stashed in their back pockets and their hair would be pulled back into ponytails.

Sometimes as the hearse slid by, one of the directors would casually drape their arm out the driver’s window and they would give the Gravediggers the finger.

Murder Dog and Trash Panda, their heads bowed would roll their eyes up and mouth, ” Same to you ”

“How’d you like to bury that son of bi…” Trash Panda would start.

” With my bare hands.” Murder Dog would finish.

That’s about as normal as things got at Leaning Birches.

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Murder and Panda were catching the bright winter sun in the old part of the cemetery when Panda asked Murder, ” Remember that service we did for that baby, you know, the one born with one eye in the middle of her face and no mouth, what was her name?”

” Madeline,” Murder lifted her face to the sun ” Madeline Faulkner.”

” Yeah. Madeline. Remember her Great Grandma, she died liked three months after Madeline.”

” She was like a hundred right?”

” I don’t know, the point is the Great Grandma, we buried her right?”

” Yeah. ”

” I mean, we dug the grave and put her into it, right?”

” Yes Panda, we buried her. That’s what we do. We bury dead people.”

” There’s a few live ones I’d like to…”

” Your point Trash Panda is?”

” I saw her.”

” Who?” Murder Dog pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head.

” Madeline’s Great Grandma.”

” Who?”

Trash Panda said slowly. ” I. Saw. Madeline’s Great Grandma at The Food Bazaar. She was in the that section where they sell candy and stuff in bulk. She was bagging some yogurt pretzels.”

Murder Dog started to walk away from Trash Panda and then she walked back and whispered into Trash Panda’s ear. ” Never say anything like that out loud again. Really Panda. That’s the kind of talk that gets you sent to Greenlake for an extended vacation. You know what I mean?”

” I saw her, the lady we buried, in the bulk food section at the Food Bazaar. Deal with it Murder Dog.”

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A few weeks later Murder Dog did have to deal with it because she saw Mr. Denny Pearce dead at age 46 from a boating accident and Laverne Simon age 84 taken from this world after a brief illness waiting for a table at the Terrace Lighthouse Restaurant.

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Murder Dog and Trash Panda were pruning the trees on Sunrise Hill when they both stopped working and they looked around the cemetery from the ladders they were standing on and both of them wondered,

” Is anybody home?”

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Murder Dog figured it would be OK to ask Doc about her views on the dead returning to the land of the living. Doc as I shared earlier had some off the wall ideas about death and everyone at the Funeral Home knew it.

She had those ideas because she was always willing to listen to whatever people wanted to share and with that Doc Treason has heard a lot.

The opportunity to share her idea came one morning when Doc Treason asked Murder Dog to help her in the embalming room.

” Say Doc. I have this idea about ghosts. Want to hear it?”

” You know it Murder Dog.”

” Well. In all these movies and TV shows only certain people can see ghosts, right?”

” Right. Here, help me uncover Miss Bixby. ”

Murder Dog went on, ” I have this idea that might not be true.”

” Seeing ghosts?”

” No. That only certain people see ghosts. What if we can all see them? I mean, would there be anyway for us to really know who the dead and who the living are?”

” Maybe.” Doc Treason said after a minute ‘We’re not supposed too.”

Murder Dog looked down at Miss Bixby. Then she looked up into Doc’s dark eyes  and smiled.

Murder turned to the embalming machine and before she did she said,  ” See you soon Miss Bixby.”

 

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The Button Collector

Inspired By The Danse Macabre Writing Prompt: Visiting The Other Room

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We

were standing in a room full of doors.

Each door was shut, each door looked exactly like the door next to it

and all of the doors smelled like wood polish- orange scented wood polish.

” Sometimes it is so hard to choose. ” she said to me.

I waited, as I always do, patiently.

There is no rushing her on days like this.

” One is as good as the other.” I reminded her.

She shrugged.

” It’s all so random. I mean. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could say today I am taking doors five, eleven and 64. I could even plan it days in advance. How great would that be? No surprises, no arguments. Just one-two-three and I’m done for the day. I could have all the time in the world to pursue my hobbies, maybe even work on a tan.”

I coughed delicately. ” You have hobbies?”

” Of course. I collect buttons and keys.”

” You know, I never would have guessed that.”

She reached over her head and pulled her hood over her forehead, she took up her scythe and squared her shoulders. Death spun herself around three times- stopped and pointed and she asked ” Am I pointing at a door?”

One of my other two heads replied, ‘ You’re good. See you later.”

” Later Gator, I mean Cerberus. You know I mean all three of your right?”

We did.

Death chose her door as randomly as she always did and we set down and watched the doors like we always do and we waited for our friend to return to us.

Like she always does.

He was taking pictures of the fog rolling up from the Sound, it was thick that morning and the Ferry Boats looked like they were floating on gray clouds.

” These shots are going to be so good.”

He was going to be the biggest thing in Instagram today. He could feel it on his bones.

He took a minute to look them over and just as he clicked on the last one, an artery in his brain swelled and then it tore and the last thing he ever saw was that picture of a ferry gliding towards him on a sea of gray mist and the woman in black standing at her bow.

And she was looking right at him.

The Roomates

Inspired by The SFC Prompt: The Lonely Ones

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” Do you know what I would really like, right now even if it’s just for a little while?” The lady who lives next door to me said last Thursday.

We were in the garden watching the birds and dragon flies gliding around the flowers and trees that were in need of some attention.

” No. What would you like?”

The truth is I did know because she always brought it up on our walks. But the poor dear only ever wanted to talk about her room, which she hated because she had to share with not one but three other people.

It is pretty disgraceful situation.

” I’d like a room of my own, one that I didn’t have to share because our home is running out of space. I want a room of my own where I can paint and read and watch birds and a room of my own so I don’t have to worry if I pass gas.”

Personally I think she was only worried about the gas thing because I never saw her do anything  except for talk about how awful her situation was.

She sighed and sat down on our favorite bench. ” I want the kind of room my Grandmother had. Oh, it was so lovely. She slept under a handmade quilt that her Mother made her for her Wedding day and she had fresh flowers brought to her every morning. Her room  still smells like cinnamon.”

” The Devil you say.”  I said in disbelief.

” It’s true Mavis. Her room still doesn’t smell like disinfectant or old clothes or old people. Her room still smells like cinnamon.”

” How did she managed that?” I asked my neighbor- whose name is Daisy- in case you’re curious to know.

Daisy leaned close to me and whispered, ” I think it had something to do with the cookies she baked in her kitchen. The smell you know. She used a lot of cinnamon to mask the smell. She’d boil it in water day and night on her stove top.”

Daisy’s Grandmother  was famous in her hometown. And it wasn’t for her cookies. It was more for what, or specially who she put into her cookies-which ranged from her nosy neighbor to her children’s dog to the men she rented rooms to and robbed for their pitiful few belongings and the money they had in their wallets.

” Her brother said that smell was her mark, pretty much like the one Caine had.”

” But her room, really. You can still  smell the cinnamon from- well, from her? ”

” You still can.” Daisy said.

I shifted a little on the bench. ” So, does anyone else  use her room now?”

I suppose I was lucky. I don’t share a room but that could change at any moment because I  couldn’t imagine Mrs. Flynn, the President of the Company that owned our home and several others not using every square inch of space that she could dig up. She is as greedy as she is shifty. I can’t stand that piece of wreckage.

If anyone deserved to be baked into one of Daisy’s Grandmother’s cookies it is Mrs. Flynn.

Daisy and I looked down the rows and rows of tombstones marking the spots where the coffins below were stacked like cordwood. ” She’s all alone down there.”

I thought about that and then I said,

” Lucky Devil.”

And Daisy agreed.

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Inspired by The SFC Prompt: The Lonely Ones

Reference Material:

Bodies to be stacked double in old graves

Coffin stacking idea in Banwell Cemetery to save space

Hanging coffins of Sagada in Philippines

The Determined Passenger

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I ride the same train to and from work five days a week.

I  take the same seat next to the window near the middle of the car  so I  can charge my phone, God knows why I hardly ever get calls or texts.

I suppose I do that because it’s what one does and when one is in public- one makes the effort to belong.

 

One day a new passenger got on the train and of all the seats she could have taken, she took the one in front of me.

She smiled.

I did not because it didn’t matter what I said or did. I doubt if she even really saw me.

The new person, phone in hand gave it a little swipe with her finger and then she disappeared, as most people do, into the small screen.

I was relived.

New people chat or shift around in their seats and end up being a distraction.

I don’t like to be distracted and I like my quiet-I wasn’t always such a solitary creature. I suppose I evolved into one.

 

I  take my book out of my backpack and found my place. You see I read real books with paper pages becauseI like the feel of them in my hand. They are solid, they smell good and most of all they ground me here and hold me here like an anchor would hold a boat or ship in place  in a stormy sea.

At exactly 4:12 just before the doors close the usual passengers pile in and claim their seats and as if they were performing some sort of dance together, they all sit and take out their phones and swipe the screens at the exact same moment and like the woman in front of me they disappear into their phones, into their own little worlds.

I am alone now, in the car I ride every single day to and from work- sometimes I wonder where they all go when they jump through those little screens but I’ve never been curious enough to follow them.

I have my book with paper pages and I carry my phone so that I will blend in-at least that’s the idea.

But I guess I don’t really  fit in  and I suppose- as I hold my book to my chest, with my finger holding it open to the page I am going to start reading- by the look of those seats empty of people but each holding a small chattering, blinking phone, that might not be such a bad thing.

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Created from the Character Sketch created in “ My Portrait In Words

Portraiture Part 2

Jingle Gravesend’s Treasures Arrived Today

Bancroft Manor  Prompt 1 Part  2

The crates arrived

at Bancroft Manor

not at night

but during the day- just after breakfast in fact.

Not that anyone was in the Manor House that day to eat breakfast, or even lunch.

The Manor was, as it had been cemetery quiet for a very long time.

 

They were stacked neatly in the foyer, three  crates bound shut with leather straps,

in front of two movers who wear wearing tombstone gray overalls.

The boxes were side marked

” Jingle Gravesend-top floor ”

 

Earlier one of the movers said to the other mover as they brought the crates inside-whose name I think was Frank-Frank said ” That’ a weird name.”

Frank’s co -worker Lem agreed.

 

” Wonder what kind of things someone named Jingle Gravesend would be sending to herself to a Manor House where nobody has lived for 60 years. ”

They looked around, almost furtively- what they could see of the furniture and the woodwork was old and faded but not neglected. The paintings though, the paint looked oddly wet and almost a little too vibrant.

” This place used to be a hospital.” Frank said and he stepped back a little when his voice echoed back at him. ” Heard it’s going to be a private residence now. ”

Lem looked down at his shoes and then he wiped his hands against his chest. ” What kind of hospital.”

” The kind you got sent to, you know,  for a rest.”

The men looked sadly up the stairs that led to the attic. ” I suppose it’s haunted or something. ” Lem said. ”  Old Manor House out in the woods that used to be a hospital for the, what do you call it- the infirm.  How could it not have, issues.”

They  agreed, without speaking a word that they were getting those crates with the weird named stenciled on the sides up to the top floor and then they were going to hot foot it out of there.

Eyes forward and hop to it gentleman- that was the name of the game.

Frank took two of the crates and Lem  loaded one onto a hand truck and then they made their way up  the slightly dusty stairs.

Their footsteps sounded muffled as they slowly climbed the marble staircase, very much in the same way a hand reaches over your shoulder and clamps over your mouth to stifle your scream when you are walking down a corridor or maybe up a long dark staircase in a house that is not only watching you but listening to you too.

Lem and Frank did not notice.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

 

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo A.M. Moscoso

 

The Journey Started Somewhere

Inspired by a new Creative Adventure :

The World of Georgina McClure

Prompt 1 Part 1

Photo by Guillaume Meurice on Pexels.com

How far would you go to save someone you care about?

How far would you run or fly or crawl

to save somebody else?

 

How far would you go to save

yourself?

Have you ever tried, was it worth it? Did it matter

at all?

 

We all come from somewhere

and I suppose in the end we all end up in the same place

with the same question in our eyes

and frozen on our lips.

 

But before I do that, before I  give up the ghost

I’m going to make one final trip, I’m going to give myself one last chance

to use the key, I’ve kept hidden in my guitar case

and open a door with the bronze hinges shaped like hands

and

go somewhere, because I came from someplace

and sometimes in the storm of confusion that rages in my head,  I know exactly what to do.

 

There is an abandon house

just passed the crossroads

outside of town.

It’s called Bancroft Manor

Writers used to live there and I heard a dancer died there and a sad lady

dressed in red and black

sings in the garden that smells like orange blossoms and chamomile and wood rot when the night sky is full of bats and falling stars.

 

I think the singing Lady in Red and Black is alive,

but she came from someplace and she is going somewhere

all I know for certain is that she hasn’t left yet.

Perhaps she can’t leave

or doesn’t want to leave

just now.

 

The Dancer stands at the top of the stairs, where this isn’t much light

and from the corner of your eye

and only from the corner of your eye

you will  see her  lift  her arms above her head in a graceful arc

and she leaps as she always does,  to nowhere.

 

But she comes back from somewhere and she dances

for no one

every night.

 

The kitchen is warm but there hasn’t

been a fire there in years

and the cupboards are full

of  jars with things that used to grow in the vegetable garden

that is next to the fruit orchard

that hides the cemetery

where no one lives.

For now.

 

Tonight I will leave

for Bancroft Manor

to my room in the attics

that are large and dark and bare

there is a cloudy, dusty window that looks out to the Sea

and the door with a lock that is shaped like and eye

and has iron hinges

shaped like hands that holds the door fast to the frame

waiting to open

because

 

We all come from somewhere

and I suppose in the end we all end up in the same place

just passed the crossroads

at a house

hidden in the woods

called

Bancroft Manor.