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Creative Beginnings by Barbara Hartley Seltzer

a tribute to my late wife Barbara Hartley Seltzer (Feb. 20, 1950 - Dec. 4, 2012). from the scattered notes she left behind

It's amazing how much she didn't tell me or how much I didn't hear. She never showed me these stories and ideas for possible novels, these diary entries, notes, and letters. I knew that she had written a one-act play in college and that it was produced. But she refused to show me the script, and I haven't been able to find a copy.


Typing her words to enter them here, running through my mind these scraps of writing that remain was a way to feel her presence and to ever so faintly relive our time together. It also led to one little surprise after another. There was much that mattered to her that I wasn't aware of. There's the detailed account of her trip to Europe with Ann, before we dated, and her "Pregnancy Book" notes when trying to get pregnant the first time. And there's her notes about a year of nearly continuous pain she went through in 2001 that, in retrospect, sounds like early rumblings of the problem that killed her twelve years later. We were lucky we had her with us as long as we did. And at the end, she was probably so used to pain in that area that she wasn't alarmed.


I consider her every unedited word important, capturing the texture of her thoughts, indications of her aspirations and frustrations.


Richard Seltzer

more by and about Barbara


A Light in the Windo

January 4, 1966, school assignment at Girls' Latin School


I clutched my coat tightly about me and shivered with every step that I attempted. The rain poured down as if it were trying to drown me and the thunder and lightning shouted at me like warnings from the gods. My car had broken down about five miles back and, trying to find help, I had wandered off the main road and was now hopelessly lost. Suddenly, almost like magic, a light appeared in the distance. With my arm stretched forward to protect my face against the rain and wind, I staggered on. After what seemed to me like hours, although it really wasn't quite that long, I came upon an old, sixteenth century type of house. The mere sight of it would have frightened even the bravest of persons. I stood there watching the mysterious house for a second. The piercing wind and ran urged me to go on; and yet, although I couldn't explain it, I was afraid to enter. Finally I could stand Mother Nature no longer. Reluctantly I approached the house.


After taking a few steps, I found a black cat crossing my path. Although I am not superstitious, this seemed like a bad omen. I gathered my courage and continued my journey. When I reached the front door, I found it open. I glanced into the hallway, but could see nothing. I wondered from where the light had come which had guided me to this place. I entered and shut the door behind me. Then, in a loud, hoarse voice, I asked if anyone were there. No reply came. I tried again and again. Finally the raging weather took its toll.  I fell to the floor unconscious.


Awaking, I discovered I was not on the cold, hard floor I had originally fallen on, but on a soft warm bed. I sensed someone in the room and looked up to see an old woman standing at the edge of my bed. She was about seventy years of age, wore a blue denim dress reaching the floor, and had her hair up in a bun. I started to ask her who she was, but she hushed me and fed me. All day and night she tended me. She spoke not a word. Then as dawn approached, she kissed me tenderly on the forehead. In that second I believe that my fever broke. I looked into her kind, blue eyes and felt sleep come over me.


A Light in the Window

January 4, 1966, school assignment at Girls' Latin School, apparently a continuation of the story above


I awoke about noon. I searched the house for the old woman, but couldn't find her. Finally, in desperation, I went to the local police. They swore that they never heard of such a place as I described. I convinced them to drive out with me to the house. there was no house to be found. Perplexed, I drove back to my home.


Since I still felt a bit dizzy, I consulted a doctor. He told me I had had pneumonia, but that the worst part was over. He also said I was a lucky man. My sickness could have killed me.


I was confused beyond all hope. My life had been saved by a person who didn't exist. She did exist, though. I was determined to find her and repay her. I hired private detectives. After two years, they still hadn't not found her. Then one day, I was crossing a rather poorly kept street when I chanced to look into an antique store. There on the wall was a picture of a woman with three small boys around her. Although she was a bit younger than my mystery woman, I recognized he3r immediately. I entered the store and inquired about the painting.


The old proprietor, who seemed to have plenty of time to spare, was thrilled to tell me the strange story of the woman in the painting. The woman had had three sons, the ones shown in the picture. They had gone off to war and she had promised to keep a light in the window waiting for them. It was at the Battle of Gettysburg that all three were killed on the very same day. When she heard the news she went into a state of shock. She cried, "Oh, my sons!" She never spoke another word again. She lived for twenty-four more years and every day she lit a candle and placed it int he window. She died exactly one hundred years ago.


I bought the portrait and left the shop in a daze. Three days later, I visited the old woman's grave and placed flowers on it. It was the only thing I could do.


The Gruesome Grave Affair

published in the June 1966 issue of Jabberwocky, the literary magazine of Girls' Latin School in Boston, MA, from which she graduated in 1967. Short Story Contest Winner, Division II.


Four deaths had occurred at Fort Michaels. Generally, I try to avoid such gruesome matters. But these four murders had a special fascination for me. Each had been committed, it seems, for no apparent reason. "No reason" caused me considerable unrest. After all, I was one of the four victims.


A little known death regulation is that every "ghost" is allowed to settle his affairs before he takes his journey (up or down). The normal time allotted for this task is twenty-four hours, but under special circumstances the time can be extended. Since every death is recorded in the "Log of Deaths," I was able to check the circumstances of the other three murders. None of the three victims had seen the villain. All had been hit on the back of the head with a blunt instrument. My three fellow deathmates had attempted to discover the identity of their murderer, but their labor had been fruitless. I realized that unless I discovered who the murderer was, more victims would follow us into the cemetery. I'm not the type who is out to save humanity, but I am selfish. I had to stop this killer. Ghostland was getting too crowded and we're not exactly looking for new residents.


I decided to do my sleuthing as a dog. Why a dog? No special reason, but I always wanted to be a cocker spaniel. I entered the house where I had been murdered -- an average-size fifty-room mansion. Not only was the house spooky enough for (if you'll pardon the expression) ghosts, but it was also the perfect scene for the crime.


After checking the house for clues, I managed to settle upon five suspects (the only people inthe house): Mr. Connors, the master of the house; Mrs. Connors, his wife; David Anthony, their nephew; Joan Cotter, Mr. Connor's secretary; and Herman Dootle, the butler.


I checked my evidence. Each of my suspects had a strong motive for killing at least one of the victims; yet none had a strong reason for killing the other three. Only Herman Dootle had no motive. (I included him in my list of suspects because "the butler always does it).


All my suspects seemed to lead suspicious lives. Mr. Connors and Joan Cotter were in love with each other, but of course Mrs. Connors wouldn't grant Mr. Connors a divorce. David Anthony wanted the family estate, which was held by his aunt and uncle. Herman Dootle wanted a raise (much deserved).


The only thing that we four victims had in common was the fact that we were visiting the Connors Mansion at the time of our deaths (and also that we were dead). I decided to follow that lead. I invited (with the help of ghost magic) Lord Kyber to visit the Connors. He was to be my bait. I then watched him every minute that he was a guest int he house. However, I cahnged myself into a piece of dust, because every time I got near a suspect, Herman Dootle put me out into the yard and chained me to a doghouse. Suddenly I was purged of my desire to be a cocker spaniel.


I watched for several days (my time was extended). Nothing happened. Then one day, while hiding in a corner from the duster, I saw Lord Kyber descend upon the library. He was followed by one of my suspects. I watched in terror as I saw the suspect hit Lord Kyber on the head with a frying pan. I then knew what all the victims held in common. How could I have been so stupid? I'll never know. Just then I was dusted away by Herman Dootle.


As I lie here in my hot and stuffy grave I think of the advice I'd give to a young person (if a young person were to ask for my advice). My counsel would be brief, but simple: "Never tell a person he makes bad coffee, especially if he is the butler."


The Crime

in notebook from April 1970, early draft of a play written as a school assignment at Albertus Magnus


Dennis -- Suzy -- Johnny -- Deborah

2 young married couples, college students.


Seeing: a living room of a young couple's apartment. It's quite contemporarily decorated: a few chairs, a comfortable sofa at the back wall, a circular rug on the ground, a cabinet, a small table, and a few side tables with lamps. 3 side doors; one beside the sofa leading from outside. 1 on either side wall.


Enter 4 young people


Dennis: (bent down as he opens the door with the key). I don't know. I still think Peter didn't know what he was doing. After all, Celia was quite convincing.


(They all enter room)


Dennis: Let me take your coats.


(The boys take off their coats, then help the girls off with theirs. Dennis takes the coats into the next bedroom, side-door left. Suzy directs Johnny and Deborah to seats and sits down. Dennis returns and plops down on a seat.)


Dennis: The director really had a cool idea in presenting the seduction scene. The haziness got his effect across.


Johnny: You're not supposed to say anything. You're only supposed to watch. I wasn't going to say 4 club.


Deborah: Why not?


Johnny: Well, because I could win with 3 club, but maybe not with 4.


Deborah: But you have more than 4 clubs. You have the Ace and the Queen and the...


(Deborah's voice trails off as Johnny stares at her in a warning tone, and then throws his cards down.)


Johnny: (coldly) Redeal.


(Dennis gathers the cards up and begins to deal, then stops)


Dennis: I don't really want to play.


Deborah: Neither do I.


(Johnny turns around to a sulking Deborah.)


Johnny: I'm sorry I got so mad. Cards always seem to bring out the worst in me. As soon as we get home, I'll carefully and patiently teach you how to play. Okay?


Deborah: Okay.


Suzy: Hey, how about something to eat or drink.


(general acknowledgement).


Suzy: Okay, what'll you have?


Dennis: Beer.


Johnny: Beer


Deborah: A Coke, if you have it.


Suzy: Fine.


Deborah: Can I help?


Suzy: Sure, come on.


Both girls go out to the kitchen, side-door right.  The boys put the table back and the chairs. The girls bring out the drinks.)


Deborah: Let's do something exciting.


Suzy: Like what?


Deborah: I don't know? Can you think of something, Johnny?


Johnny: No. How about you Dennis?


(Dennis hesitates, then nonchalantly says)


Dennis: Yuh, we could always smoke.


Johnny: You mean marijuana?


Dennis: Yuh, I have some int he house. Have you ever tried it?


Johnny: No. I've always wanted to, though -- under controlled circumstances, that is.


Dennis: Well, this is pretty controlled Here we are in my living room. Nothing can happen to us here. What do you say?


Johnny: Sure, Dennis. I'd like to try it. De, do you want to?


Deborah: Yeh, I'd like to.


Dennis: Okay, then I'll get it.


(Johnny and Deborah exchange looks as Dennis goes into the bedroom and brings out a bag of grass, a pipe, a tiny box of papers, and matches. Dennis and Suzy sit on the floor.  Johnny and Deborah soon follow.  Dennis fills the pipe with some marijuana).


Dennis: Just inhale and then hold it in for awhile.


(Dennis lights the pipe and takes a prolonged puff, then offers it to Suzy who does the same. Suzy gives it to Johnny who does it. Then Deborah does it. It is passed around the circle a few times and then it goes out. Dennis fills it again and lights it.)


Johnny: How long will it take us to get high?


Dennis: You probably won't. You never get high the first few times. I did on the second, but most people don't until the third or fourth.


(Dennis puffs from the pipe, then gives it to Suzy.)


Johnny: Oh. I was hoping to get high tonight.


(Johnny smokes it, then gives it to Deborah, who smokes it, then passes it on. As it goes around the circle a few more times, Dennis makes a "joint" by rolling some marijuana into two of the small papers from the box.  As soon as the pipe is out, he lights the joint and takes a large inhale. He is obviously wrapped up in it.  Suzy does likewise, and Johnny does it, a bit amateurishly, too.  But when Deborah tries it, it is too strong for her and she coughs and it falls out of her hand.)


Deborah: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.


Dennis: That's okay.


(He takes another smoke and passes it on.  After Suzy smokes it, she begins to laugh.)


Dennis: What's so funny?


Suzy: I was just remembering what Professor Grip said at his last lecture. He's so funny.


(Both Dennis and Suzy laugh.)


Deborah: I feel a bit strange. My head's dizzy.


Johnny: Lay on me.


(Deborah lays her head on Johnny.  Dennis makes another "joint" and lights up. Only Dennis, Suzy, and Johnny smoke it. AS son as it's through, Dennis gets a brainstorm.)


Dennis: Hey, let's go driving around and go into the coffeeshop and blow people's minds.


Johnny: How would it blow people's minds?


Dennis:  Well, we talk kind of disjointed now. Whoever we talk to won't be able to understand us because we'll be talking in only bits and phrases.


Johnny: But we can understand you.


Dennis: That's because you've smoked some grass too.  What do you say? Want to come?


Johnny: No, I think Deborah and I'll sober up a bit, then go home. We're kind of tired.


Dennis: Okay. You're the ones missing out.  I'll get our coats, Suzy.


(Dennis goes into the bedroom with the stuff. The other 3 just sit there.)


Johnny: Isn't it kind of dangerous to drive. I've heard marijuana slows down your reaction.


Suzy: It slows you down a bit, but we'll be driving so slow it won't matter.


(Dennis returns with his coat on and the keys in his hand. He gives Suzy her coat. She gets up. They both go to the door.)


Dennis: Sure, you won't change your mind?


Johnny: No, thanks the same, but have a good time.


Dennis: We will


(Dennis and Suzy leave. A few minutes silence.)


Johnny: What do you think?


Deborah: I don't know. I still feel a bit funny.


Johnny: Yuh.


Deborah: Do you know anything about marijuana?


Johnny: Ver little. Nothing can really be proved about it. It may be safe. It may be dangerous. It's a calculated risk.


Deborah: Oh.


(She looks down, kind of wondering.)


Johnny: What's wrong?


Deborah: I don't think I should have tried it. It isn't fair to take a calculated risk concerning our baby.


Johnny: (laughing) Don't worry about "our baby." When we have one, we'll be careful. Besides we don't have to smoke again.


Deborah: Yuh, but...


Johnny: But what...


Deborah: Uh... I meant to tell you before, but I was waiting till the right time. I saw an obstetrician and...


Johnny: You're pregnant!


(Deborah nods her head. Johnny hugs her.)


Johnny: That's great.  Oh -- I shouldn't have let you smoke the grass.  I'm so dumb.


Deborah: It's not your fault. I should have known better. Besides, Dennis said it takes a while to get high. You can't on the first few times. I don't think it'll hurt the baby just this once.


Johnny: Well, anyway, I better get you home. Stay here and I'll get the coats.


(Johnny goes into the bedroom and brings out the coats. He helps Deborah up and is helping her on with her coat when the phone rings. They both look at each other for a moment, then Johnny decides to answer it.  Since the phone is in the bedroom, he goes in there. Deborah sits down, but since Johnny leaves the door ajar, she can hear his end of the conversation.)


Johnny: Hello...Dennis, is that you?... What's wrong? ... Oh, my God no... Is she hurt bad? ... Sure, I'll come down... What hospital? ... Okay, now calm down. I'll be there in half an hour.


(Deborah stands. She is scared. Jonny comes out of the bedroom. He is shaken.)


Johnny: That was Dennis. There's been an accident. Suzy's been badly hurt and has been taken to the hospital.


Deborah: Oh. How's Dennis?


Johnny: Okay, just a few scratches. The doctors don't know if Suzy will live.


Deborah: How did it happen?


Johnny: You know the Old Creek Road?  It's dangerously windy and narrow. There was a big truck and Dennis got bored, so he tired to pass it. Another car was coming towards it. Dennis had to swerve and he went into a tree.


Deborah: Oh, how terrible


Johnny: I promised to go to the hospital. I'll drop you off at the apartment ont he way.


Deborah: I want to go with you.


Johnny: No, I don't want you to be upset in your condition.


Deborah: Johnny, do you think it might have happened if we hadn't been smoking marijuana?


Johnny: I don't know, Deb. Dennis is generally a good driver and his thinking and reactions must have been influenced by the smoking.


Deborah: And he wouldn't have been on that joyride, either.


Johnny: Yeah, but don't forget, accidents can happen, even with the most cautious drivers.  I don't want to talk about marijuana. I want to get to Dennis. He needs me now.


Deborah: You're right.  All this is just academic. Suzy is what is important.  Let's go.


(They leave.)



Attached notes --

Have Johnny ask Dennis how he started. Change discussion of movie to Boys in the Band.

Dennis and Suzy kind of inhospitable to leave Johnny and Deborah in apartment.

Phone call =too dramatic.

Ending too preachy -- who play is preachy. Need more interesting incidents.

Enrich dialogue and characters

Maybe have Dennis and Suzy in apartment alone, planning evening conversation, then joined by Deborah and Johnny

Write different, more interesting base form on Boys in the Band.

Change to Deborah and Johnny's apartment.

Have Dennis picked up on possession of marijuana.

Maybe have Dennis and Johnny go out for ice cream -- Deborah and Suzy can talk.

Discuss having marijuana on person.

What will Dennis lose if picked up? i.e., government scholarship or job.

Maybe make Suzy pregnant, but Dennis doesn't know -- Deborah pregnant, but all know.

When Suzy and Deborah talk, they can talk about pregnancy.

Have Deborah already have her baby.

In set show kitchen as well as living room.

Therefore, Suzy and Deborah can talk and move in there.

Have them play scrabble instead of poker.


The Porcupine

October 1974

Submitted to (and rejected by) Boston Educational Re-search Company


Once upon a time there was a very friendly porcupine named Joe. He liked everybody and very much wanted to have friends, but no one like Joe. It wasn't that they didn't like Joe himself. They just didn't like his long sharp quills. Whenever anyone would get close to Joe, his quills would stick into them. So Joe had no friends.


One day, Joe heard a noise. He ran to see what was happening. He saw a skunk sitting by a tree crying.


"What is wrong, Mr. Skunk?" he asked.


"No one wants to play with me," said the skunk.


"Why not," asked Joe.


"Because I smell," said he skunk. "I don't mean to, but at time I just do. I'm so lonely."


'No one wants to play with me either," said Joe. "Maybe we can play together."


The skunk stopped crying. "But you'll have to be careful of my smell."


"i will be and you'll have to be careful of my quills," said Joe.


"I will be," said the skunk.


"Hi. My name is Joe," said Joe.


"Hi. My name is corky," said the skunk.


And Joe and Corky became friends.



October 1974

Submitted to (and rejected by) Boston Educational Re-search Company


There once was a little girl who liked to play in the mud. She loved the mud. She'd make mud pies and mud cakes and mud cookies and mud sundaes. Anything that could be done in the mud she would do. Her name was Emma, but people called her Muddy.


One day, Emma couldn't find a mud pool anywhere. It hadn't rained in a long time, and everything was dry. Emma cried. She looked and she looked, but she couldn't find a mud pool.  Emma's mother felt bad and tried to make Emma happy, but she couldn't.


Finally, Emma's mother had an idea. She went outside and turned on the hose and poured a lot of water on the ground.


What do you think she made for Emma?


The Mermaid

October 1974

Submitted to (and rejected by) Boston Educational Re-search Company


Once upon a time there was a boy named Christopher. One day he went fishing. Early in the morning, he set out in his boat. He paddled for over an hour. Finally he reached the spot where he wanted to fish.


He put a worm on his line, then threw it out and waited. Nothing happened. He waited some more. Suddenly, his line began moving up and down. Christopher pulled at the line. The fish was really big. He pulled. The fish pulled.  Finally he saw the fish. It wasn't a fish after all.  It was a mermaid.


Christopher was surprised. He pulled the mermaid into his boat and started rowing home. He wanted everyone to see his catch.


"Please let me go," said the mermaid.


"You can speak," said Christopher.


"yes, I can. Please let me go. I'll die if I leave the ocean."


Christopher hadn't thought about that. He didn't want the mermaid to die. He let her go. He could tell his friends about the mermaid. They wouldn't believe him, but he didn't care.



February 28, 1999

She sat in the first car in the section that was going to Boston. She appeared to be looking out at the houses and roads that swept past fast as the train sped through the night air, but she was really looking at her reflection. Not bad, for my age, she thought. Not bad at all.

She was returning from New York, a weekend with friends. They had splurged and pampered themselves at a salon: haircut, facial, manicure. Something she never did. She felt guilty about the Nice and Easy box in her bathroom, but had to admit the color, Red Ginger, didn't look bad on her new layered hair. They had seen a play, gone to a museum, and eaten out more times than she'd done in the past year. Her Visa card had been busy, but she felt good. She deserved it.

Her husband was at home minding the three kids. She hoped he had remembered Jimmy's medicine. She felt so lucky with her life. It had been a long journey. She finally felt good about where she was in her life.

He was waiting at the station. It was late, but he smiled broadly when he saw her. "Looks good," he said of her hair. Sometimes he could say the right thing. He took her bags, gave her a kiss and led the way to the car. He talked the whole way about his special project, how it was progressing, how he had solved a problem he'd been working on for weeks. He was animated and passionate about his subject as only he could be. She listened and nodded till it was the right time to ask about the kids. All was fine. Yes, he'd remembered the medicine. No, her mother hadn't called.

By the time they got home and she'd checked on the kids, she was ready for bed. So wasn't he. It's amazing how going to bed means one thing to a woman and another to a man, but she was alright with it tonight. She was happy and she had missed him. She had to get up early tomorrow, but it was okay. Life felt good.

The walk

July 24, 2003. Buried in a notebook used for work


And we walk, walk, walk through the valley,

looking for the road.

And we walk, walk, walk through the valley,

hoping to not grow old.

It is cold. Very cold.

And we walk, walk, walk through the valley,

trying to get home.

Where is home. All alone.

And we walk, walk, walk through the valley,

looking for the road.

And we walk, walk, walk through the valley,

hoping not to fold

It is cold. Very cold.

And we walk, walk, walk through the valley,

looking for a friend.

And we walk, walk, walk through the valley,

hoping it will end.

Where's the friend? Where's the end?



June 2004. Buried in a notebook with details about home repair projects.



The children are coming. They don't have a choice. Their father is dead. They have to be in the same room. Jack would like that. Not being dead, but all of them together. It's been too long.


It was fast. Jack wasn't a good "sickie" --- a bit of a wimp that way, so the accident ended him without the lingering he would have hated. A shock to me and the kids, but definitely finale. He was never a fixer-upper, but could hold his own with duct tape. Who would have thought at 85 he'd decide to paint the trim? He'd procrastinated about it for so long, hated to hire someone t do it. Was always careful not to do "dangerous" household chores.


I had gone to visit my mom at the nursing home. She's the oldest person there. She hates death and is determined to live forever. She always joked she'd outlive us all. So far, she's outlived a husband, siblings, in-laws, e of my siblings, a few grandchildren, one great grandchild, and a stream of roommates. She will live forever, but Jack didn't. Outlive her, I mean. Mom liked him well enough. Of course, she doesn't know who he is, was, but she liked him. She always appreciated men more than women. Generational thing. Women did allt he work, wee expected to sacrifice. Men had a special place in her heart -- her brothers, her sons, and Dad. That's the way it was, is. Okay -- enough about that.


I was visiting Mom. Jack was climbing up a ladder. Mom needed to go to the bathroom. Jack fell. I wasn't there. Maybe if I'd been there, I could have told him he was an idiot to go on the ladder. Maybe if I'd been there, I could have held the ladder.  Maye if I'd been there I could have caught him. I wasn't there. Such is life, death.


Now the children are coming home, finally, all four, together. Shit, I need a drink. Shit, I need several. Love them dearly, so didn't Jack, but they're all different. Only thing in common is 2 parents, the family home, the ability to separate from us and themselves to have their own life.  They love both Jack and me. Just don't, didn't want to spend too much time with us. They went for the yearly "quality/necessary" visit. I never understood how my mom and sister kept their kids so close and how mine got so far. I like to think I gave them wings. They flew off. Apparently, they are not homing pigeons.


Okay, they are coming home. Jack is dead. What's next. I know what's next. They don't. hey are not going to like it. Yippee.  They think they are coming home to a mom they are going to have to take care of. I can hear them now. We need to put her in a nursing home. No, she seems fine. She should live with one of us. Who? Not me. Too busy. She'll be lost without Dad. What's she going to do?


What am I going to do? I'm going to live. It's my time.



The first knock on the door.  Hi, Mom. Here we are. How are you?





The middle-aged woman poised her fingers on the keyboard. She was writing her resignation letter. How had it come to this? It was only her second day, but so far the new job had not materialized as she would have hoped. She had experience, she had skills, she was good at what she did, extremely dependable and proud of doing a good and thorough job, but here she was, sitting at the receptionist desk, trapped at an entry level job.


She had no one to blame but herself. She had a fairly good job, a bit unfocused, a bit unappreciated, a lot underpaid. She knew it was time to grow. She had paid her dues and was now ready to show the right company what she could do. A head hunter contacted her. It was a combination administrative-marketing position.  She would be working just with the marketing director. It had promise. Ture, the job did call for the position to be the front desk, but there would be so few calls, what with everyone having their own direct phone line.


The interview with the director of marketing had gone well.  They had clicked. The director talked about mentoring, learning, and taking the job where it could go. It sounded good. However, there was that little pesky problem about being at the front desk. The middle-aged woman decided to be honest. If she didn't get the job, it wasn't meant to be. She disliked being chained to a desk, unable to complete one's assignments. If calls had to be made, it was difficult and rude to put someone you had called on hold while you answered another call.  She took pride in solving problems. If she didn't know the answer to a question, she would find someone who did.  If you were stuck at the front desk, it would be hard to go about to find the right person and to complete one's task. You also couldn't easily talk to one's mentor about one's project. The front desk was very stifling.


She also stressed the need to be a part of a team, working with someone, not just having people throw things at her to accomplish.


The middle-aged woman also had a young son, 6 years old. She needed flexibility in her work schedule to address his needs sometimes. Occasionally she needed to juggle going to a school function.


The director listened to her needs and said she would see what she could do.  The middle-aged woman felt they had established a contact. She had been very impressive in the interview, not only stating what skills she felt she could bring to the company, but also what she felt she needed from the company. She went away from the interview feeling good. Whether she got the job or not, she had been herself.


The second interview was just a formality to see if she was still interested in the job. They talked more about the need for flexibility. The director said she was trying to get the marketing position away from the front desk. She really wanted the middle-aged woman for the job, but was waiting for the requisition to be approved.


The Menopausal Monster (a working title)

undated, only item in a notebook


Welcome to my world -- or is it your world? I never get it straight. Am I the center of the universe or just one of many mushrooms. I tell people I'm like a mushroom -- ready to be stepped on. Do I really have choice or do I just stumble into things. I make decisions. Then people and events intrude, and everything is out of control again. Who am I? What am I? Why am I?


Sometimes I sit in a room. The shades are shut. I can believe that the room is all that exists. There is "the Nothing" and blackness outside. I am all there is. Is reality only what I believe? Or is it what everyone else believes? If something happens across town, and I don't know about it, did it really happen? Is it important if it doesn't affect me?


I hate my job.





Do you ever pick up a book, read the back jacket, think it's one kid of book, read a bit, realize it's not, then are disappointed?  I do. I don't mind surprises. I just mind distractions. I like a story, character development, plot development, the end. I hate descriptions, lots of language, extra padding that fills out a novel, but loses me. I know I'm a weird English major. I love to read, but I don't like to be bogged down by an author's using words to impress himself or the critics. I like a straight path. Tell me a story. I will listen.





Her name was Elynor, not Eleanor, Elinor, or however other people spelled it. She was who she was. But who was that? She didn't know. She did know. She had her code, her ethics, right form wrong. You followed a certain path. If you didn't, you were wrong. Miss a payment, you were wrong. Use money frivolously, you were wrong. Not do what was expected, you were wrong. She was tired. She was mad. She was right. Why didn't Barb and Chuck agree.  Their values were all screwed up. He was irresponsible. She had no sense. At least Jane knew what was right. Sort of.  Jane knew Chuck was bad about money. Jane spent all her money on her children. NO thoughts for the future. Bad. But Jane Knew Chuck shouldn't manage Mom's money. Jane and Elly should. Why didn't Barb see it? Elly saw it. Chuck lived with Mom. He needed to let them know how he spent Mom's money. It was their right to know. They knew best.


Her name was Mary Jane, but people called her Jane. Her Mom's name was Mary. One Mary was enough in the family.



undated (brief note)


Unappreciated "secretary" kills "nasty" bosses.


The Fall from Being Nice



It starts slowly, like an erosion, like a cliff that gradually becomes smaller. You don't see it coming. You just live through it. You start out doing things for what you feel are the right reasons, but, through no fault of your own, it becomes wrong. You could have avoided it, but... when. You dealt with or didn't deal with it then, and now it's become too big. How did you get  sucked in? How did you let it happen? And there's the answer -- you let it happen.


Chapter 1



Okay. There are two kinds of people in the world (actually there are more, but for this story, I'm dividing people this way!) those who rule and those who obey. Simplistic. Yes. Fact. Yes. Am I bitter? Yes. Why? Guess which group I belong to?


Okay. What do I mean by two kinds of people? Bosses and Admins. A special world. A civilized jungle. The bosses are smart, sophisticated, educated. (Again, it's my story so I'm basing the setting on place I've worked at.


Okay. First. If you're the boss, you make mistakes, but you never acknowledge them to your colleagues, to your underlings, to yourself. If you're the admin, you make mistakes, you get berated for them.





I'll be ready in a moment!," shouted Jennifer through the closed door. It was hard to believe all that was happening to her. One day she was a struggling artist trying to make ends meet and the next she was an heiress on her way to meeting a family she had never even known she had. It wasn't the prospect of money that excited her. If she'd been interested in making money, she would have specialized in computers like most of her friends, instead of choosing to "suffer for her art" as a poor but happy artists (although poor wasn't really accurate; she did quite well as a free-lance artist). It was the prospect of meeting real relatives that excited her: aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandfather that she had only dreamed of before. To finally belong was so important.


"I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long, Mr. Ambrose."


"Not at all, Miss Kincaid."


Mr. Ambrose evaluated the slim girl before him: 27 years old, blue eyes, long brown hair, medium height, pretty. She seemed very much to belong to her time: the plaid skirt, the rose blouse, the "Hanes" pantyhose look.  Yet her obvious resemblance to Sarah Parkington was incredible and sent a warm chill through his rather old, jaded bones. It was as if the clock had gone back in time to  over 50 years ago when he had first met Sarah, before he'd lost her to Hamilton.


James, Mr. Ambrose's chauffeur, took Jennifer's luggage and headed for the car.


"Are you ready, Miss Kincaid?"


"I'm not sure, Mr. Ambrose."


"Quite natural a reaction, my dear.  Shall we forge on?"


With a rather weak nod, Jennifer allowed Mr. Ambrose to lead her to his limousine and into a mysterious new future.





She called herself Delilah (okay, she'd been named Susan Jane by her parents, but Delilah had a better feel to her). She knew her calling was to seduce men. Make them crave her -- make them want to do anything for her. (Okay, so she'd only had a few. Tom Doyle, when she was 15. Sean Michaels when she was 17.), but she knew she was meant for more. She knew he would come. He did. She died. So much for planning one's future.


Kate Malone heard her beeper go off. Damn, she thought. The timing is always off. She finished shampooing Sam's hair, then called for Steve. He came, as he always did, without delay. She gave him a quick kiss, then headed for the hall phone. She heard Steve start the splashing war. The floor would be wet before the bath was over. Sam and Kris screamed with delight. She sighed, then picked up the phone, dialed, said: "Lt. Kate Malone, you beeped?"


"Her name is Delilah Samson. She's been dead for 12 hours. Preliminary suggests she died on impact. Hit and run. I can't for the life of me figure why she'd be out here by herself. Nothing around for miles. And with those 3" spiked heels, she wasn't here jogging.


Kate Malone listened while Ben Jowel gave his report.  She took in the crime scene: deserted road miles from town, late teens, brown eyes, long brown hair, thin, belly button showing, short red tank top, low jeans, black boots, lots of blood. She'd been run over again and again, by subject and vehicle unknown. Lots of things were unknown. What was known was Delilah Samson was dead and Delilah Samson had been murdered. Kate didn't know which was worse -- the death of a young girl or the first homicide in 25 years in Plato County. The young girl's death really was the worst, but a homicide in her peaceful community was a close second.


The three men sat around the table sipping beer and eating chips. Daniel preferred nuts, but it was too hard to much with his teeth. Johnny shuffled and shuffled and shuffled. "Will you deal the damn cards, already," snapped Charlie. "I'm not getting any younger."


Johnny smiled. He loved psyching Charlie out. It was so easy to rattle him, sometimes too easy. It always threw Charlie's game off a little. This Johnny liked because Johnny liked to win. Then he remembered that Daniel already had 100 points in the game. He frowned. He would have to win the next hand. He had to have his turn. He had to win.


Kate Malone checked the call log.  The hit-and-run had been called in a 6 PM, but the victim had been dead a good 12 hours. The road was a very deserted road. The body could have laid there for weeks and no one might have seen it. But they were lucky. They had got an anonymous tip. Not quite anonymous. It had to be the killer. The directions to find the body were too precise.


Kate turned her thoughts to the victim. Delilah Samson, aka Susan Jane Smith, was just 18 years old. Fresh out of high school and out of the house. She shared an apartment with three other girls. Two of them were bound for college, but not Delilah. She worked at the 7-11 restaurant waitressing. She'd worked there part-time through high school and now full-time since she graduated. Kate looked at the pictures of the crime scene. What was the victim doing there? Had she gone there on her own or been forced? Lots of questions formulated in Kate's mind. NO answers developed. She pondered the pictures for a while, then realized she was just delaying the inevitable. It was the hardest part of her job, but one she always insisted on doing personally.  Kate rose from her chair, adjusted her harness, put on her coat and hat and headed for the door. It was time to tell Pat and Anne Smith that Susan Jane was dead. Kat motioned Ben to join her on the way out.





We are all born equal. But we're not. If you are born with money or encouraging parents or "special girts," doesn't that give you a certain edge? I don't know. Probably. Definitely.


Then there are those of us who aren't born with that edge. We're the ordinary people, the minions, the ones without "goals." WE want to be happy. We want to find our place. We want to make a difference. We just don't know how. We don't even have a clue.





Roses are red

Violets are blue


You better stop smoking

It will kill you privacy statement