Dear Friends (some of whom apparently consider me a sociopath, but in a pleasant sort of way),
I always get great satisfaction out of reading the comments on my posts, but I must say that the responses on yesterday’s bit of scribbling exceeded my already-high expectations. Something aligned somewhere and the creativity was off the charts. (If you haven’t had a chance to peruse the previous installment, click here. The post is essentially a stand-alone writing prompt, but there are underlying ties to past posts found here and here.)
Too many things to click on? Well, grab a cup of coffee or tea or vodka and settle in, as this is going to be a click-happy post. None of the links are critical if you are pressed for time, but all of them are worthy in one way or another. I firmly believe that paying it forward is a right and honest way to live.
As I sat down to begin composing responses, I quickly realized that said responses were not going to be sufficient. The explosion of cleverness and wit deserved more attention than many of the comments were going to get because, well, they’re comments, buried in the basement of the post, tucked behind that box of parachute pants and worn-out Yaz albums from the 80s that you just can’t let go. I wanted to shine a light, and the best way to do so is to pull that basement upstairs where everyone can see it. So that’s what I’m doing.
Yes, I realize I could just advise folks to go read the comments on the previous post, but where’s the fun in that? Raise high when you can.
Note: I am sharing these treasures in the order they were received so as not to indicate any preferential treatment. (But you and I both know that we always have our favorites. I’ll leave it to you to decide which spiked my punch more than others.) I’m also not including comments to comments, however illustrious they might be, as this post would otherwise run several hundred pages and that’s just not going to work.
First up, we have Fiery at “Your Fiery”. She writes lovely mood pieces and stories that entrance me. (Truth be told, we’ve had a long-standing mild crush on one another, benign but satisfying. These things happen in the digital world.)
Are you requesting serious answers?
’cause I’m going to be super serious and writerly.
Why are the chairs empty?
Because according to quantum mechanics, particles aren’t really there or… like… they don’t know what they are until they are consciously observed so I’m going with… they’re empty because they are suspended in a super position of both being filled (by two bum bums) and empty (of said bum bums) and because this is just a photo, it’s like Plato’s shadow cave right now they’re not the REAL chairs…no one is sitting in them until they’re being observed…um…by …like… people. They’re the Schrodinger’s Cat of chairs
What is happening just outside the window?
A parallel dimension where you and I exist watching what will happen avidly in this top end of the rabbit hole, while wondering who thought blood red, beflowered grandma chairs were a good idea for roomish ambience
Why is this known as the Murder Cabin?
Because it’s where spontaneous story ideas come to die a slow and agonising death of contrived plot mechanisms and convenient Deus ex machinas
And who the hell designed those atrocious curtains?
Your mum (classic cuss here in London)
Or… Mata Hari?
Salome? as she Eureka-ed the idea for the dance of the seven veils?
Or…the dude who wrote that classic striptease tune… you know… da da daaa.. di da da daaa…
Hope this helps.
I think I nailed it
And this was just the first comment, swimming with ideas and images. Holy cow. I knew I had to be on my toes for what might follow.
Next up, we have Barb at “Barb Taub”. She’s an established writer (link here) who lives in a fancy Scottish castle or some such, wherein she pens clever anecdotes about the whimsicality of life and occasionally has people over for tea. (I haven’t made it to tea time yet, but I plan on it some day. I understand scrumptious scones are involved, and I can’t pass that up.)
Brian carried in the Costco bags into the cabin and checked his supply list. Giant jar of JellyBellys? Four extra large cans of espresso-grind coffee? PartyPak of Pringles? Gin? Vodka? 2000-tablet jars of ibuprofen? Carton of cigarettes he didn’t smoke but some overflowing ashtrays would certainly add that je ne sais quoi touch of Hemingway homage? Thirty apples to ensure a month’s worth of doctor absence? Check, check, and double check. He was ready.
This was going to be the year he nailed NaNoWriMo. The year he wrote his soon-to-be-bestseller mystery, ‘Pecos Cabin Murder’.
He positioned his laptop on the table facing the window and began to type.
“The body slumped across the old chair. The first bullet tore up the cushion, the second passing harmlessly through the wooden chair arm. But the third was right above the staring eyes.”
Brian paused. Who was the victim? Who was the murderer? He’d figure that out as he went along.
Days turned into weeks. There were only two days left of NaNo. JellyBellys were at perilously low levels. He was on the last can of coffee. Characters, clues, red herrings—all had come and gone but he was still no nearer to figuring out the victim or the murderer. He eyed the cigarettes. What the hell. He lit one, coughed, and inhaled deeply. Again. YES! He had it!
The door to the cabin opened and Barb wandered in, sniffing suspiciously before going over to open the window. Then she peered over Brian’s shoulder. “Oh, hey Brian! I saw this on Netflix last night. The victim was the blog follower and the murderer was actually…”
Three shots rang out. Brian eyed the smoking gun in his hand, balanced it atop the pile of empty Pringles cans, turned back to his laptop, and began to type.
“Barb slumped across the old chair. The first bullet tore up the cushion, the second passing harmlessly through the wooden chair arm. But the third was right between her eyes.”
Notice the clever repetition in the plot? Brilliant. And I should point out that the Murder Cabin would be a perfect spot to seclude oneself, not just for NaNoWriMo but for composing in general. It’s removed from the main buildings at Hidden Valley Ranch, far enough away that no one will bother you but close enough that you can wander down for the traditional afternoon cocktails and delicious fare served at the nightly group dinner, promptly at seven. Or thereabouts. The afternoon drinking can offset the schedule a tad.
Then we have obbverse at, well, “obbverse”. He’s on a blogging hiatus right now, but you can still peruse past posts where his witty poetry and observations, as well as his charming self (though he would be loathe to admit he is such) are on full display.
They leapt from the chairs with alacrity upon hearing the screams coming from without the window. Dashing outside they found a once refined but now wild-eyed wild-haired woman. She ran a twitching hand through her the the ruination of her crowning glory, sobbing inconsolably as the other tremblingly touched the washed out but red rimmed curtains. ‘Someone has to have murdered the poor benighted interior decorator’ she wailed. ‘Harlot Scarlet and Snow White curtains AND New Mexican Teal on the windows and skirting boards?’ Martha Stewart dramatically collapsed, unable to face any further horrors.
I greatly appreciate the fact that obbverse was able to discern the true hue of the trim-work. I tried to study it more closely myself, but I was a bit taken aback at getting close to anything in that cabin, what with “murder” in the moniker of the dwelling and all. Nothing in said cabin has been updated since Princess Elizabeth became Queen, an alternately quaint and frightening dilemma.
Next we have a quick note from Beth at “I Didn’t Have My Glasses On…”
Glad you found the inspiration you’ve been looking for…
And I really did. There’s something about pulling back from the harried rush of modern society that replenishes the soul. We should all do that, every chance we get.
Then we have Ilene from “The Cancer Bus”. As the blog name implies, Ilene has been battling breast cancer for several years now, not that such should define her in any way, and perhaps I am remiss in even mentioning it. But I am constantly in awe of her brave conviction in the journey that her life has become. She’s a treasure.
Why are the curtain patterns facing outside instead of inside?
Why is there a rip in the fabric of one chair?
The floor has clearly been replaced – blood is a bitch to get out of carpet as is the smell of death.
Did this room have another window or no air condition or was the window rattler built into the wall?
Why do the chairs match the curtains but not exactly?
Why did the dinner table get replaced with the tiny occasional table?
Someone was very nervous in the chair on the right because they scratched the finish off the arm rests (either the murderer had a tic or the second victim was tied there)?
The sunshine outside is clearly very bright and there are no desert plants outside so it must be in a very strange side of town. And Brian why push your luck on what sounds like a well needed fabulous vacation (which if I do not take soon I will lose my mind) by tempting the fates – and perhaps irritating them?
I think a long poem is going to come out of my end I can’t wait to see the final edit of your story but the photo is very David Lynch-ian do you agree?
I enjoyed all of this, but I am thrilled by the David Lynch reference, as that is exactly what I was going for with the snap: The mundane turned surreal, a hallmark of Mr. Lynch. I have always depended on the weirdness of strangers to help me feel comfortable with my own weirdness. Life is too short to waste time adhering to the status quo. Let your freak flag fly and revel in the waving.
A snippet from Sabiscuit at “Sabiscuit’s Catalogue”.
Brian there is no “satisfactory” way to go. Unless of course you are caught up in the Rapture.
Fair enough, as I don’t want to go, period. But I can envision a few instances where I could go happily into the dark night, such as right after a lovely dinner with friends followed by deep and meaningful conversation on a patio, where we all watch the stars and reflect on what has been and could have been.
Next up, Rivergirl at “River’s World”. (She entertains the hell out of me with her sarcastic and witty tales of life in Maine.)
The ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt is sitting in the chair. She’s objecting to that look alike cactus.
I think you’re right, Rivergirl. I could sense the dissatisfaction of a former First Lady everywhere I went in the cabin. Or maybe that was my own dissatisfaction with the fact that I will never be a First Lady. Life is cruel.
Robyn at “Autism in Our Nest”:
I’m so uncreative. There’s a dead body in the garden and another person is in the kitchen making tea, ready to situate themselves in the chair to contemplate the dead body. Happy to hear you got the nudge and inspiration. Excited to see what emerges.
Actually, you’re being much more creative than you realize, especially with your mention of the kitchen. I don’t have a photo of such, but I can assure you that the appliances in that room came over on the Mayflower. There’s an ancient oven, probably worth millions on “Antique Roadshow”, and when I opened the door on said oven a painting of Marie Antoinette fell out.
Leggypeggy at “Where to Next?” had this to offer:
The chairs are empty? Okay, so who farted?
This might seem a bit ribald, but Peggy is close to my heart. She was one of the first people to follow my blog, and she’s stayed with me ever since. She’s a gem.
Quiall at “Butterfly Sand” both cursed me and embraced the invitation to dance:
The Murder Cabin
Damn you Brian for intriguing me!
The Notoriously Unpopular designer Flitz Kennelworth was hoping to regain (gain) his popularity by redesigning the room he was currently inhabiting.
He did not take into account the dead body on the bed or the SWAT team outside his window preparing to breach.
He was focusing intently on the blood stain his partner had so egregiously left behind on the chair. If he had simply agreed with Flitz on the choice of the curtains then the gun shot would not have been necessary. A good sidekick must always agree with the hero. It is in the Rule Book.
As the door shattered inward, Flitz sighed. No one understood his genius, no one.
I fully understand Flitz, having lived his unvalidated life for most of mine. Thank you for that, Quiall.
Laurel at “My Journey into Darkness”:
The chairs aren’t empty. Don’t you see the man with the bloody crotch to the right and the smiling woman holding a shotgun and a cross stitch that reads “Til death do us part” on her lap?
Outside the window is the beginning of a flower garden where her beloved will rest, once the swelling goes down and it becomes easier to amputate various parts of his body.
It’s called Murder Cabin for obvious reasons and the curtains were fashioned out of old bedsheets, which will later be used to wrap the dead body.
Laurel is a wee bit peeved over a certain wretch of a man who done did her wrong, so the stories on her blog have a certain hint of vengeance. But I fully understand and she both cracks me up and moves me greatly with her words. And her nostalgia pieces concerning life before The Wretch? Beautiful.
Melanie at “Sparks from a Combustible Mind” did a full-on blog post based on the writing prompt, which didn’t surprise me at all. She’s always been a supportive rock in this crazy mess of digital mania, and I truly consider her a sister. You can find her satisfying take here.
Finally, at least of this writing, we have Christi at “Feeding on Folly”. She’s also followed me for many years and I cherish the random happenstance that brought us together. I think her final paragraph on the matter of the empty chairs is just as viable as anything else that happened at the mystical ranch in the hidden valley.
Sorry, I’m just way too concerned with the crumbs on the floor and the overall condition of the chairs to come up with a coherent storyline. You didn’t sit in the chairs, did you? Please tell me you didn’t. Or if you did, that you first sprayed them and yourself with disinfectant and had a hot shower afterwards?
Also, who paints the trim turquoise yet buys red chairs with mysterious stains? Clearly the person was unhinged… possibly psychotic….
And there you have it: It was an unhinged, psychotic interior designer who eats Little Debbie Swiss Rolls while waiting for her unsuspecting victims to walk into the cabin. Lucky for you, Partner outwitted her and pushed her out the window.
And with that, I’ll end this admittedly rambling and possibly overwhelming love fest. But I hope that everyone who has made it this far in the post understands that I deeply appreciate the joy I feel when I sign into WordPress and click my way through all the crazy, lovely, erratic comments that my tiny words have inspired…
Categories: Blogger Spotlight