Welcome to The Spot Writers. The current prompt is a story about a character who finds an object that had been lost.
This week’s story comes from Phil Yeats. Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) recently published his first novel. A Body in the Sacristy, the first in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.
Good Deed, Bad Consequences
By Phil Yeats
On my way home from work, I strolled as usual through the Halifax Public Gardens. I needed those minutes of quiet contemplation to recover from the daily stress of my job in the nearby hospital’s pathology lab. My job wasn’t overly complex, and my efforts had my bosses’ approval and my colleagues’ respect. But it required a level of interpersonal communication I found difficult.
On that particular day, I noticed something blue as I watched squirrels foraging for food. I reached down and recovered a wallet, a woman’s judging from the colour, from the grass. It contained money, credit cards, driving license and other identification, so not something dropped by a thief.
The owner, a middle-aged woman named Meredith McCall, lived a few blocks away. I plugged her address into Google maps, established my route, and set off.
Minutes later, I rang the bell at Ms. McCall’s Edwardian townhouse. A young woman in her early twenties responded.
I held out the wallet. “Found this in the Public Gardens. It belongs to Meredith McCall and gives this address.”
She turned and yelled into the house. “Aunt Merry, someone to see you.”
An older woman, the one who stared from the driver’s license, appeared from the far end of the hallway. I handed her the wallet.
Meredith McCall flipped it open and glanced at the contents. “What do you want?”
I shrank backward. “Nothing. I found this and I’m trying to return it.”
“Thank you,” she said before striding back into the house.
The younger woman stared in disbelief as I shrugged my shoulders and turned toward the street. “Wait,” she yelled, hopping down the steps as she tried to don a pair of sandals. “I’m sure she didn’t mean to be so unfriendly. She just not merry like her name implies.”
I laughed. “Oh, Merry with an echo and two romeos, not Mary with an alpha.”
“Yeah, Merry, short for Meredith.” She pointed at a street-corner coffee shop. “Here, let me buy you a coffee.”
She grabbed my hand and dragged me toward the café. In the ubiquitous Tim Hortons Donut shop, she ordered, with minimal input from me, two coffees and a box of six assorted donuts. As we sipped coffees, and I nibbled a donut I really didn’t want, she chatted away with barely a break for breath. My input was limited to short answers to direct questions and intermittent grunts of encouragement. Half an hour later, she collected the remaining donuts, said a cheerful goodbye, and sauntered from the shop oblivious to the fact she left me in emotional turmoil.
She was one of the boisterous self-confident people I admired from afar a few years earlier when I was a student. I’d learned to avoid the highly sociable pack animals whose lives tended to subsume those of their less outgoing compatriots.
I’d watched the campus dynamic from the sidelines without participating in any meaningful way. After graduation, I continued to lead a solitary life, interacting with colleagues and neighbours without establishing serious interpersonal relationships.
The minutes spent with Ms. McCall’s niece changed nothing. Nothing she said suggested she was interested in anything more than the half-hour interlude, but it brought my choices back into my consciousness. I was happy we’d gone to Tim’s for coffee rather than a pub for beer because that might have initiated a solitary evening of beer drinking and unwanted introspection.
I wandered home to a supper of leftovers and an evening in my studio working on a new painting. Perhaps, I would start a cityscape of families relaxing in a park or young people cavorting at a beach. The paintings were therapeutic, allowing me to reconcile my solitary life with the gregarious lives of those living around me. Ironic, I thought as I applied the first brush loads of bright paint to the canvas, how my simple attempt to do someone a good dead had upset my carefully crafted but limited existence.
Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/
Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/
Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com
Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/