Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Trendy, old and creepy

Soooo, ahhhh, yeah.

Working at work, minding my own business when this old lady comes up. Now I shouldn't say old. She was like later sixty-ish old. Old enough (TO KNOW BETTER). Errr, yeah. She had on this yellow beret and this outfit that old ladies buy when they have too much money and way too much time.
I didn't expect much out of her. She wanted me to a put a hold on “Healthy Aging”. Ok, ok. I remember that book from working at B&N (it's by this stocky old guy with a beard) so I'm typing in all the information and she's standing on the other side of the counter giving off rich old lady vibes. Kinda crackly. Yes, crackly. Like paper that is being scrunched.

Well, for some reason, I can't hold the book for her. Odd, I think and I take a moment to go ask someone why that is. Oh! It's because she's not a St. Charles patron (she's from Elburn and her library card says Elburn) and only St. Charles patrons get first dibs on new books. “Healthy Aging” is a new book. I tell her this in my distorted way. I don't communicate the best when people are crackling like paper in front of me.
She scowls. She crackles. And she says, “You're discriminating against me.” For a moment, I didn't think she was serious and I just Smiled. I mean Smiled. I thought she was kidding around. And in the second I smiled, I realized she was Not kidding. She was deadly serious. I wiped the smile off my face in that next split second but alas, she caught it. I'm not sure how she took it because the next thing she said was, “Yes, that's right. That's how it is.”

Anyway, blah blah blah, I wouldn't (and couldn't) hold it for and said she could speak to my supervisor, which she said would be useless (which was true). And woah. Woah. I wish I could have died laughing. I'm glad I smiled. It wasn't a pretty smile. It was a mocking smile. Yeah. Old white ladies get descriminated against. You know how it is, folks.

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How to Get Through a Big Book

How to get through a Big Book and have a little fun too.

  1. Make and eat food mentioned in the book (big books always include food, usually in meticulous detail).
  2. Read a little bit each day.
  3. Make a soundtrack.
  4. Dress like a character from the book for a day. Or a week. Or a month if it really grabs you.
  5. Ten minutes to kill? Daydream about the landscape or what the characters are seeing as they move through their day.
  6. Read passages you enjoy out loud. If you’re in the right mood, record yourself reading passages and share it (Instagram is great for this). Include illustrations if you like (thank you, Shirin).
  7. Whip out a highlighter or some sticky tabs for those great parts.
  8. Pace yourself and remember, reading gigantic books isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. Might as well bring along snacks, good drinks, great lighting, and enjoy the ride.

How to Search for Story Settings

A big city not far from mine has a casino. I’ve heard a few stories from friends that have worked there. Most center on being treated badly by a customer and revenging themselves by throwing the customer’s car keys into the Fox River. Karma is enacted on a regular basis at the casino.

There’s something about that river, flowing by, murky green during the day and black at night, a bottomless pit for car keys.

The river divides the city in half, east to west. The Fox flows along the old warehouses, limestone and brick, built back when the city had manufacturing plants and industry. Now the warehouses sit sturdy and silent, crumbling ever so slowly. Their roofs are flat and give the illusion of brick walls running straight into the sky. Some were built like prosaic wedding cakes, higher and higher, until the final topping is small square with tiny windows. Industry has never been about aesthetic needs and wants.  And yet by some miracle, these old turn of the century warehouses have achieved it just the same.

I observed the warehouses from the back deck of the riverside café, clutching my cup of earl grey and wishing I had put sunscreen on. It was the first time I had ever been to this café and I came because I needed a new setting for a fiction story I was working on. None of the cafes I remembered from the past were working for me. I needed this kind of café, one that hung out in an old manufacturing city where there wasn’t much industry left. There was, at least, a casino and many local businesses and this café hung on, here at the water’s edge.

A little further up was the casino where my friends had thrown those keys into the water. From my point on the deck, I could see the grimy metallic white heel of the building jutting out. Another friend told me that he goes there regularly to play black jack. It relieves stress and earns a little extra cash for his family.

The wind picks up a little and despite the sun, it’s chilly. Spring plays these tricks on us.

There is no sign of life in the warehouses all around me. We’re all boxed in together and the light plays off their empty windows, open and blank to the sun. I sip some tea and play “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin just to see if this café will work for my story. It only takes a few bars of listening to the song and I know that this place is perfect. This spot on the river is perfect for many stories. It’s  been perfect for all the stories I know nothing about and the ones that I’ve caught the smallest glimpses of.

A mallard suns himself in the weeds that line the water’s edge. The river moves fast and sure and I turn off the music. No need to for further noise. The song is already there.