Export, “Eh?” – A Canadian Ghost Story

Author’s Note: I have a weird love/hate relationship with the horror and paranormal genres.  I cannot articulate exactly why something I find repulsive one moment can be of high interest the next. For example, one of my favorite shows is “Dexter,” but I have an aversion to vampires – yet I didn’t mind American Horror Story’s Hotel. The August edition of  ‘Nathan Burgoine’s 2018 monthly flash fiction challenge,‘ features a tobacco shop as this month’s location, the object is an earring, and the genre is a ghost story – all in 1000 words. I would love to develop the story deeper, but that is the fun in flash fiction. Thanks for reading and much thanks to Wifey, Cait Gordon, for her much needed editing help!

Harold jumped out of bed and turned off his annoying alarm. Today, he officially owned the Up In Smoke tobacco shop. He whistled as he entered the bathroom to start his morning.

He admired himself in the mirror. The same, plump, balding 46-year-old stared back. He noticed his moustache looked a bit greyer, and the handlebar curls were a bit unkempt. Perhaps a trim is in order.

“Now, then,” he said to his reflection, “the first thing I’ll do is rename that store. It needs my own personal touch.” He liked the pun of the original name but thought, How about Export, “Eh?”  Perhaps he could get a sponsorship from the real Export “A” and obtain some extra cash.

“Harold, you’re a genius,” he said while applying some deodorant. He grabbed a fresh shirt, pants, and tie. He liked what he saw in the mirror and blew himself a kiss before bolting out the door of his apartment.

Up In Smoke was a few blocks away in the downtown core. The skyscrapers’ shadows always made the streets dark and gloomy, even on the sunniest of days. He unlocked the door to his shop and walked in.

The Bagley family had owned the establishment for nearly 80 years, and it still maintained its 1920s charm. It remained pretty much intact, with the last renovation being the laying of a red carpet. Harold liked how it complemented the oak cabinetry in the dimly-lit shop. A few tables in the far corner rested near a magazine stand. He walked over to take in the old photos hanging on the walls. One perked his interest–that of a familiar beautiful woman sitting in between two young men. One gentleman resembled a younger, athletic version of himself.

Taken aback, Harold diverted his attention to the fully-stocked glass displays. He went behind the counter and spotted some beautiful Montecristos. Laying his phone down on the counter, he grabbed one and placed it under his nose, taking in its rich aroma. This will be a cool perk of ownership, he mused, then struck a match and lit the cigar.

He inhaled. This is amazing. Contently smoking, he checked his cell for messages. None. That was a bit disappointing because he’d expected more on his big day. Miffed, he took an exaggerated drag and blew a dense, thin stream of smoke aggressively over the counter. Instead of dissipating, it morphed into the apparition of a woman’s head and shoulders.

Startled, Harold dropped his Montecristo, and BUZZ-BUZZ-BUZZ, his phone vibrated non-stop. Harold jumped out of his skin as his heart thumped rapidly. He unlocked his phone. Text messages flew in, reading, “WHERE IS IT? WHERE IS IT?” over and over.

By the time all stopped, the smoke had long vanished, along with the facial silhouette of the woman.

#

Over the following weeks, Harold got to know the regulars. Rory, a handsome young man in his twenties, wore solid-colour cardigans with bow ties. He never said much or bought anything, but every afternoon at precisely 4:30 he parked himself in a chair for an hour to read a high-brow magazine. Customers ignored him as they rushed to buy their evening smokes. The beautiful Rachel Pennington also came in before closing, to buy cigarettes. She always stayed late to chat.

Harold was totally enamored by her. He looked forward to their heart-to-hearts. They were both completely oblivious to Rory, even as he exited each day at closing. Harold particularly enjoyed flirting, making Rachel laugh, and bragging about his entrepreneurial exploits.

Rory arrived uncharacteristically late one day. Instead of grabbing a magazine, he jabbered with an empty chair. None of the other customers cared, but Harold ached to hear the conversation in the distance. The discussion continued as the store emptied. Rachel did not care or notice. He did observe Rory saying, “I will look harder,” over his shoulder as he left. Rachel did not even bat an eye at it.

#

The next day, Rory yelled at the empty chair, “I have not found it! I don’t know where it could possibly be!” Harold was the only one in the store that noticed.

#

Rory arrived a little later, behaving a little more agitated each day. No one cared, but Harold observed the changed behaviour. It often distracted him from Rachel, who felt insulted.

#

Finally, Rory showed up near closing with a joyful expression. He sat down and started a civil conversation about the weather with the chair. Rachel, as always, ignored his appearance, but Harold had something special planned. He took out a jewelry box and placed it before her on the display case.

Before Harold could say anything, Rory stood up and emphatically pointed at him screaming, “HE HAS IT! IT’S IN HIS POCKET!” Rachel put her hand over her heart and blushed as she stared at the box, but Harold looked nervously at Rory.

From the no-longer empty chair, the woman from the photo stood up. Her left ear was bloodied, and a deep red scar lay visibly across her neck. Harold noticed she wore on her right ear the earring he’d once given her.  

He shouted, “Get out, Rachel!” but she looked confused. Rory tackled Harold to the floor and pinned him down. Rachel screamed–she’d only seen Harold fall.

“WHERE IS IT?” the woman from the picture yelled as she walked across the floor. She knelt down, put her hand in Harold’s pocket, and smiled. “There it is.”  She extracted the matching earring and twirled it between her fingers. “How many of these little souvenirs have you collected from your victims over the years?” She stared at a trembling Rachel, who clutched the jewelry box as she gazed wide-eyed upon Harold’s late wife.

“There will be no more,” said the ghost, placing her hands to his throat. All Harold saw was black.

The woman vanished. Rachel opened her box to find the exact same pair of earrings.


Export, “Eh?” – A Canadian Ghost Story © 2018 Bruce Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Bruce Gordon.


dissbruceBruce Gordon lives in the ‘burbs of Ottawa with his author wifey, three basses (hers, but she lends him one), five guitars (totally his), and one drumkit (hers and hers alone). A musician since his teens, he still plays, but has also ventured down the writing path. His upcoming novel, Dissatisfied Me, A Love Story, is about a 49 year old on the verge of his 50th birthday, who reminisces about his life while sitting alone in his room in his mother’s basement.

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Murder at the lodge

Murder at the Lodge

Author’s Note: I complain about the cold in winter,  and I hate the oppressive heat of summer – but I am grateful for writing to pass the time when going outside is just not that pleasant. I humbly submit July’s edition of  ‘Nathan Burgoine’s 2018 monthly flash fiction challenge,‘ featuring a dam as this month’s location, the object is a typewriter, and the genre is a mystery – all in 1000 words. Thanks for reading and enjoy this story with “Canada Day” slightly in mind.

Bernard Beaver packed mud atop his lodge in the middle of his pond. Before calling it quits for the day, he swam out to inspect his dam. Proud of his work, his attention quickly redirected to a fissure forming in the heart of the structure. Bernard panicked, for he noted that his prized possession, formerly embedded in the wall – a 1940s Smith-Corona typewriter – his  “keystone-signature piece” – was missing causing water to flow through. Bernard found it in the woods while felling trees, and thought it a nice cosmetic touch for his project. Angered by its disappearance, he decided to return tomorrow to repair the hole, and went back home under the dawn sky.

He emerged in the lodge’s wet room, where, while drying off, he heard Beatrice Beaver, in the family room talking. “So nice of you to come over Maurice. I always appreciate your company while Bernard’s out.”

Maurice Muskrat, replied, “I love coming here, you make the best tea!”

“You’d better skedaddle. I don’t want Bernard to see you. You know how he gets.”  The last time Maurice dropped in unannounced, Bernard practically knocked out all his teeth with a swing of his heavy tail.

Bernard exploded hearing Maurice’s voice. Wet or not, he didn’t care, and bolted into his family room.

“What the hell is he doing here!” He screamed at Beatrice, “He spends more time in my lodge than I do! It feels like every time I go out, I see this rodent in my home with my wife!”

“There, there, Bernard,” Maurice replied, “I’m only here for Beatrice’s awesome tea – by far, the best in the Wetlands.  You know, ever since the spring floods washed away my home, the Missus and kiddies went to live with mother-in-law, or who I call, ‘Nutcracker’.  If you knew her, you’d understand why I come over here so often. Besides tea, you guys always have the best food around!” Maurice saw a nice green bit of moss hanging on the wall and ravenously munched it. He rubbed his stomach, and guzzled his tea.

Bernard scowled, “Have you finished your new home yet?”

“No, haven’t started. I figured the kids and wife are happy, and if I only have to stay at Nutcracker’s to sleep, I don’t have to interact with her.” Maurice checked the time, “Sunrise. gotta go to bed.  The fam thinks I am working,” he gave Beatrice a surreptitious wink, but Bernard caught it.

He lunged his wet body across the floor, grabbed and wildly punched Maurice.  Maurice escaped his grasp, quickly got up, and said, “Well, Mrs. Beaver, as always, loved your company!  Best be off now,” and dashed to the wet room and the Beavers heard a splash signaling his exit.

“So help me, Beatrice, that is the last we will see of Maurice!” Bernard stormed to bed.

#

Beatrice woke up that afternoon, alone. Wondering where her husband went, she exited the lodge and scanned the dam, expecting to see Bernard working away. She saw two new fissures, that concerned her, but no site of him.

The dusk sunlight reflected off something metallic on the shoreline with some Wetlanders surrounding it. Curious, she swam to them to discover, in shock, Maurice lay dead with head bludgeoned by the typewriter, now placed over his crushed skull. Beatrice gasped, and started to cry.

Woodsy Owl, placed a wing around her shoulder. “So sorry that you had to see this Beatrice. I know Maurice was a good friend. Hey! Back off the crime scene. I, too, am a bit peckish, but we have to finish the investigation.” A guilty looking coyote held Muskrat’s leg in his mouth, but obediently dropped it and backed off. The crowd comprised a weeping Manny Muskrat, a large crane, a few raccoons, the coyote, and a badger.

Woodsy proclaimed, “Manny tells me Maurice spent most of his time in your lodge, which didn’t please Bernard. Bernard has disappeared. Did he go off to work?” Beatrice could not answer.

#

Two days passed before Bernard returned. The Wetland gang still puzzled over who smooshed Maurice.

“Where’ve you been?” Woodsy asked.

Bernard looked over Maurice and yelled in shock, “That’s the typewriter that someone stole from my dam! No wonder there are leaks!”

“Answer the question.”

“I heard rushing water coming through my dam, from the hole opened by someone stealing the typewriter. I clogged it up, but heard more water. I dug around and discovered some human installed a ‘Castor Master’ hidden in my construction!  Humans, always try to ruin my hard work and revert water levels. I tried to stuff their corrugated pipe, but got stuck in it. I just freed myself. Can I have my typewriter back? This is war! I suspect the humans will poke a new hole in my dam tomorrow. The typewriter should easily fix that.”

“But if you’re stuck in the pipe, who killed Maurice?” asked a raccoon.

“Who cares!” replied Bernard, “Maurice probably bugged a human by poking his nose around where it shouldn’t, like he did my wife. Humans took MY typewriter to flood our precious pond, but I’ll save our habitat!” Bernard boasted.

The creatures nodded and echoed “Bloody humans,” in agreement.

Woodsy, not so convinced, asked, “Do you have proof you were stuck in a pipe for two days?”

“No, but I can show it and my work to you,” Bernard said, taken aback by Woodsy’s accusatory tone.

“I’m afraid I‘m going to have to place you under Wetlands arrest, for murder.”

Manny sobbed and screeched, “It wasn’t the humans, nor Bernard. it was me!! That bastard slept with everything with four legs, and hated my mother. He’s lazy and deserved what he got.”

Everyone around echoed their agreement.

“Can I now have my typewriter back?” asked Bernard.

“Yes, yes,” replied Woodsy, “Grab it and let’s leave Maurice to rot in peace.”

“No need,” the coyote answered, and with one bite, picked up Maurice’s remains and walked happily off into the woods..


Murder at the Lodge © 2018 Bruce Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Bruce Gordon.


dissbruceBruce Gordon lives in the ‘burbs of Ottawa with his author wifey, three basses (hers, but she lends him one), five guitars (totally his), and one drumkit (hers and hers alone). A musician since his teens, he still plays, but has also ventured down the writing path. His upcoming novel, Dissatisfied Me, A Love Story, is about a 49 year old on the verge of his 50th birthday, who reminisces about his life while sitting alone in his room in his mother’s basement.

The Junkyard Brownie

The Junkyard Brownie

At the urging of wifey, I’ve decided to participate in author ‘Nathan Burgoine’s 2018 monthly flash fiction challenge.

Author’s Note: Brownies are commonly known as wonderful chocolaty-cake treats we all love and enjoy. In context of this story, the brownie, as found in Scottish folklore, is a friendly elf. I first got exposed to brownies reading Enid Blyton’s Mr. Pinkwhistle stories as a child. This flash fiction is themed on fantasy, hot chocolate, and junkyards. Sorta like the chocolate-based elf and the drink connection. Thanks for reading and enjoy.

Soaring over the kingdom of Poonow, a majestic dragon dashed through the skies. George loved how the early sun reflected off his coppery wings. He surveyed the tiny homes as the villagers stopped their routines to admire him as he zoomed overhead.

The dragon spotted the eight foot high wall of tires, found at the outskirts.  He zoned in on a giant red X near the centre of the enclosure and descended. As a rather large dragon, the ground shook violently when he landed, and the yard, filled with tons of metallic junk ranging from vehicles to appliances, clanked and chimed summoning his arrival.

He towered over a hut near the landing pad.  A dark brown creek about a foot wide flowed from the front door, and three gnomes holding mugs were sipping a beverage and, based on the tone of their voices, sounded upset. They did not break their conversation, despite George’s thunderous arrival. Unphased, two goblins appeared passed out cuddled in a ceramic bathtub, surrounded by toasters and car parts.

“How can Ich do this to us?” the gnome in a green hat complained. “This hot chocolate he serves just does not make busting our asses hauling all the metal we find to this dump worth it anymore.”

The second gnome, dressed all in yellow answered, “It could be worse,” he bent over and filled his cup with the creek’s brown liquid and took a sip. He immediately spat it out, “Blech, I stand corrected, this does not taste like chocolate anymore, but something a bit more familiar. I can’t quite place my finger on it. Hey, where are Forlan, Rasbis, and Tanin? I have not seen them around here in ages?”

The third gnome, who had a rather large white beard and red hat replied, “You have not heard? Our despot ogre king, Ronald Tumpkin, declared them illegal immigrants in the land, and they were exiled. He feared that their metal collecting took away employment from the goblins who supported him – lazy bastards,” he glared over to the goblins snoring away. “Tumpkin claims we gnomes are responsible for all the crime in the kingdom.” The other gnomes muttered in agreement as they gagged on their drinks.

George, growing impatient at being ignored roared, which immediately got everyone’s attention. “I want my hot chocolate!”  One of the gnomes nervously offered his, but dropped the cup when he realized it was too small to satisfy the dragon’s craving.

“Ich,” he cried to the hut, “George is here. Can you please come and serve him some hot chocolate?”

A rather large brownie bolted through the door, holding a mug about the size of one of the gnomes. He placed it in the creek until it filled with the brown liquid. He offered it to George who blew a flame over it to apply more heat. and took a quick swig. He regurgitated it up immediately. “God, that tastes like shit!” George roared, “what did you do to make this? Dip two dirty socks in hot water?” He angrily threw the mug on a pile of metallic junk, that clanged and clung as it fell to the ground. “Never mind, where is our daily tribute?”

Ich nervously pointed to a pile of six rusty car mufflers. “What?” the dragon bellowed, “this is getting worse and worse! The counsel is losing patience.  You know better than anyone, Ich, that we demand the finest metal in the world! And we need twenty pounds a day per our agreement.”

George belonged to a counsel of six dragons, who long discovered the ability to turn basic metal into gold.  They seized any opportunity to expand their growing hoard, stored deep in the mountains beneath their chambers. After the last great war that devastated the kingdom, the villagers happily provided the dragons with fresh metal each day for protection. Ich, owner of the junkyard, had the responsibility of procuring the daily tribute for the dragons. The kingdom lived in subsequent peace for centuries.

The brownie, not wanting to upset George further, said nervously, “Have you not heard that King Ronald believes that by putting heavy tariffs on foreign metals, the Kingdom of Poonow would prosper and all his goblins would  gainfully be employed? Those bastards produce nothing! Remember, that great ore we gave you in the past was not native to our territory!”

“This is most disturbing,” said George, “and threatens our ancient agreement. This king must be removed! Where is he now?” He closed his eyes momentarily and opened them.

Ich replied, “In the White,” he paused as five other dragons magically teleported into his scrap yard, “Castle.”

The largest, Elrick, stood a head taller than George, and had beautiful platinum scales. He said, “Is it true, Ich, that Tumpkin’s responsible for our tribute being cheapened?” He paused and saw the creek, “Hey? Is that hot chocolate?” He lowered his head and lapped a sample. Immediately he spat it out, “That’s fucking vile!”

Ich replied, “Our king wants us to produce our own cocoa and has taxed those imports too. These goblins don’t farm either so I use sewage now.”

Enraged, Elrick breathed fire on one of the sleeping goblins, waking the other who immediately bolted for a large pile of radiators to hide. “Counsel, we must leave and destroy the White Castle, and Tumpkin immediately. Ich, you are now be in charge. Undue the tariffs and bring us back the best possible metal. And for Pete’s sake, get us some decent hot chocolate.” The dragons nodded in agreement.

It did not take them long to destroy Tumpkin and his tower. Ich’s scrap yard soon gathered the finest metal bits again that kept the counsel happy, and the world at peace.

The hot chocolate creek soon flowed with the richest tasting cocoa, and the deported gnomes returned to their former work, satisfied to be rewarded with the fine beverage.

All was well in Poonow. King Ich and the dragons prospered.


The Junkyard Brownie © 2018 Bruce Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Bruce Gordon.


dissbruceBruce Gordon lives in the ‘burbs of Ottawa with his author wifey, three basses (hers, but she lends him one), five guitars (totally his), and one drumkit (hers and hers alone). A musician since his teens, he still plays, but has also ventured down the writing path. His upcoming novel, Dissatisfied Me, A Love Story, is about a 49 year old on the verge of his 50th birthday, who reminisces about his life while sitting alone in his room in his mother’s basement.