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The Woman in White Marble

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Stories by Patricia Crandall

Patricia Crandall has published numerous articles and short stories in various magazines and newspapers. She has five books in print, Melrose, Then and Now, a historical volume, I Passed This Way, a poetry collection, The Dog Men, a thriller, Tales of an Upstate New York Bottle Miner, non-fiction, and Pat’s Collectibles, a collection of short stories. She is writing a y/a thriller about child sex trafficking titled The Red Gondola and the Cova. It is ready for publication. She lives with her husband, Art, and a rescue cat, Bette, at Babcock Lake in the Grafton Mountains near Petersburgh, New York.

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Wednesday
Mar202019

Spring In the Air

There is a sense
of excitement
as Mother Nature
shakes her apron
and releases spring

 

Copyright © 2019 Patricia Crandall

Thursday
Feb282019

Chances are You Will Want to Come to New York City

In 1958
Her streets were paved
in yellow brick
leading to Fifth Avenue
and 42nd Street.
You might have seen
a zealous couple
dance-walking towards
Broadway’s winking lights.
You might have heard jazz
eking out of the Metropole;
Ahmad Jamal
polishing white keys
with rhythmical fingers.
Small armies of white hats
took leave then
from hulks of ships.
Bell-bottom trousers flapped
in the glittering glass town
past steel palaces
exerting attraction on
click-clacking
high heeled shoes and
saucy red lips,
interchanging magnetic pick-ups.
Today
culture explosion and
a caravan of chic boutiques
marketing on the upper east side,
symbolize the best and
worst of New York.
Yet, bright young thing,
Chances are you will want to come to New York City.

 

Copyright © 2019 Patricia Crandall

Wednesday
Feb202019

The Garden of Love

“Elisa, I love you,” Hendrik said.

“I am engaged to your cousin. Tory has promised me the manor and I do love this garden.” Elisa dropped her hands among the folds of her rose and white striped cashmere dress.

 “Tory’s an empty-headed boy.” Hendrik reclined beside Elisa on the grass and whispered, “You should be mistress of several manors. I’ll give you European gardens laid out with exquisite taste.” He pulled her to him.

Elisa screamed.

A tall youth darted from behind a hedgerow. Tory raised a sharpened meat cleaver over Hendrik’s head.

“Cut!” ordered the world famous director.

 

Copyright © Patricia Grandall

Tuesday
Jan152019

The Wedding Reception

Julie raised an impish face with ‘wise owl’ eyes to newlyweds, Dianne and Hugh Levitt. She wished she could be as happy as they were. She felt something, but it was not happy. She stared down at the ground, making an effort not to drag her feet along the macadam road which stretched past dairy and livestock farms. In the midst of this pastoral setting sat a nifty Cape Cod styled house the Levitt’s would soon call home. They swung their hands in unison, strolling to a lawn reception to be held at the home of Dianne’s gal pal, Abigail Dawes.

Tears stung Julie’s eyes. Things seemed pretty cool right now. She was ten years old, growing up fast, but not fast enough. Dianne and Hugh were in the process of adopting her. But nothing good ever lasted.

The threesome made a right angle turn and went down a rutted dirt road past a huge wood pile in a clearing which narrowed to a drive bordered by hedges. As they drew near to a freshly painted white farmhouse with green trim, Julie released each pulsating hand and skipped ahead through a grassy triangle cut out by the sun beneath tall poplars.

 

Abigail was leaning over an elaborately set long white table, fussing with a centerpiece of white camellias, white roses and delicate baby’s breath. She turned at the sounds behind her and looked up. “The guests of honor have arrived,” she announced.

Julie slid her hands down the lush material of her pale pink lace dress, pleased that it was a girlie garment with elegant bows front and back on her tiny waist.  Hand-tooled, silver barrettes held her side swept auburn hair in place. The grown-up style made her look older; at least twelve.

“You’re a knock-out,” Abigail gushed. “That is a stunning dress. I meant to tell you how much I liked it at the ceremony.” She had a wide smile and her cheeks were flushed. “Would you help me serve these? I don’t have enough hands and many of the guests have arrived. I know you would rather be doing something than standing around looking beautiful.”

Julie accepted a platter of canapés and sampled three. “They taste good. I’m hungry.”

“Save some for the guests,” Abigail called after her.

Julie headed in Dianne’s direction. The bride was talking with her father, John Hobarth. She listened as Mr. Hobarth congratulated his daughter, “Dianne, you look ravishing. You deserve to be happy with a remarkable husband and a charming daughter.”

“I feel blessed.” Dianne beamed as Julie drew near with the tempting tray.

“Have one of these little sandwiches, Dianne,” Julie pressed. “The peanut butter and jelly ones taste best.”

“Um, they all look delicious, honey; just one – the one with a cucumber on top.”

            A black limousine with a Massachusetts license plate drove into the yard and stopped. Julie watched Yvonne Baleaux step out of the back seat of the vehicle while two silver-haired, jeweled ladies climbed out of the front of the car. They each carried gifts. Abigail greeted them with smiling assurance and guided them to a table set up for the purpose of displaying the gifts. A circle of white crepe paper bells danced overhead.

                                                                        *

Yvonne made a bee line to Hugh. Julie crept up behind Yvonne and Hugh and spied on them.

“Wow, super day,” Yvonne said breathlessly, shaking out her luxuriant red hair with blond highlights. Hugh leaned his cheek down to her. With her slender, musk scented hands she turned his face sharply and kissed him full on the lips. “Congratulations bridegroom. I hope you’ll be happy with the little woman.” Pouting, she looked across the sweep of lawn at Dianne mingling with guests.

“I’ll be reasonably happy,” Hugh drawled. “I knew from the moment I met Dianne I loved her.”

Yvonne’s laugh was contemptuous. “You’re not a romantic, Hugh. Love…you! A forty-one year old kiddie counselor, hitching up with an old-maid social worker? You were more exciting when you were an ad executive!”

Hugh’s eyes narrowed. “What pointed nails you have, Yvonne. Why don’t you make an appointment to see me at my office? I have just the therapy to help you function socially.”

Julie nudged Hugh and offered him canapés from her tray. He placed several on a napkin and winked at her. She turned deliberately away from Ms. Baleaux and proceeded on her way.

“And, you have a brat in the package!” Yvonne snapped her elegant fingers in the air. “Now, about that offer, Doctor, if you are considering couch therapy …”

                                                            *

The guests were called together at one o’clock to feast on a sumptuous luncheon. Mid-way through the gala, Julie left her barely touched plate and walked over to a table situated adjacent to the main one, to view the beautifully decorated, two-tiered wedding cake. She stared for a long time at the miniature bride and groom ornamenting the top of the cake. She suddenly ached for the dysfunctional mother whom she would never see again, and, at the same time, a rush of abusive memories threatened to paralyze her.

Out of the blue, Dianne appeared and handed Julie a napkin. “Here, you’ll want to wipe the kool-aid ring above your lips.”

Julie rubbed the paper napkin over her mouth and crumpled it into a ball.

“Come with me,” Diane smiled down at her.

Julie followed the vision in the rustling, white taffeta dress across the lawn, away from the celebration. They stopped beneath the network of paper wedding bells where splendid arrays of white, silver and gold packages were spread out on the table.

“It’s too early to open gifts,” Dianne explained. “We must wait for the proper time but I want you to open this one.” She picked up a small package wrapped in glossy white paper and handed it to Julie.

“Go ahead, open it.”

Steadily, Julie looked up at Dianne. She dropped the napkin on the grass and ripped the paper off the box, removing its cover. Inside a folded tissue lay a gold charm bracelet with a triangle charm fastened to it. She held the dainty piece up in order to read the inscription appearing on each flat surface of the charm. It bore the names of Hugh, Dianne and Julie. A tiny silver cross dangled in the middle with the name Levitt and the wedding date inscribed on it. She extended her thin arm out to the flushed bride. “Put it on my wrist!”

“Please,” Dianne coaxed.

Julie rolled her eyes impatiently. “Please.”

Dianne secured the hasp. An intense, warm feeling came over Julie and she burrowed her face into a pleasantly-scented bosom. In the next moment, Hugh’s strong arms encircled them both. At that moment, Julie knew in her heart contentment would grow.

Copyright © Patricia Crandall

Tuesday
Oct162018

Nadia Bhagg Manages the System

Nadia Bhagg pulled on her winter jacket, grabbed her purse, and went outside to her car. She walked cautiously across the driveway, icy from freezing rain.

She reckoned with a little luck and a prayer, it was an ideal time to draw out the rogue who was stalking her and her family during ice and freezing rain storms. It had all began in December during the first ice storm of the season. Her son Joe had been forced off the road into a ditch. Then it had been daughter Tam. Each had described a red Dodge truck appearing suddenly behind them, bumping their car until they lost control of the vehicle and it went off the road. Fortunately for the Bhagg's no-one had been seriously injured  thus far.

As she suspected, the back road to the PC Market was covered with black ice. Nadia choked up on the wheel and adjusted the speed of the Subaru to twenty miles an hour.

Suddenly a red truck appeared and rammed the rear bumper of her Subaru. With her heart racing, Nadia raised her eyes to the rear view mirror and exchanged looks with a blood-curdling, defiant stare.

The truck struck the bumper repeated. The Subaru spun, left the road and struck a tree.

                                                            *  

Sergeant Patsy Dibbs stared at Nadia Bhagg’s swollen, black and blue eyes. Gauze bandages swathed her bruised hands and arms.

“Why not spot the person now?” the tall and slender policewoman asked. Her silken blond hair was twisted into a tousled knot at the nape of her neck.

“Later,” Nadia said, grim-faced, her brown eyes looking even darker beneath the bruises.

“Okay, then, I’ll read your statement back to you, Mrs. Bhagg.”

Patsy accepted a printed form from Nick Barnes. The EMS technician had transported Nadia to her home from the ER at St. Theresa’s hospital. “If this is correct, please sign your name by the X.”

“On the way to the Price Chopper Market in Bennington, Vermont, I, Nadia Bhagg, while driving along roads where black ice frequently appeared, was tailgated by a red pick-up truck. I slowed to less than twenty miles per hour due to the hazardous conditions and the truck rammed the rear bumper of my Suburu. My car was repeatedly struck until it spun out of control, left the road and crashed into a tree.”

“Is this statement correct?”

Nadia winced as she nodded her head. “Yes.”

                                                            *

As she signed her name, several family members crowded into the small, spice-scented kitchen.

"Ma, what happened?" Joe Bhaggs removed his hat and slammed it down on the counter. "You know better than to drive  in weather like this." His dark eyes stared at his mother behind his glasses. "You're aware of the situation we're dealing with."

“I’m fine, Joe. Please don’t fuss.” Nadia's split lips turned down reflexively.

Grandson Joe Junior, a slump-shouldered youth, scuffed over to the counter and helped himself to a chocolate chip square from the cookie jar.

Slack-faced Jacob, another grandson, widened his stance and cracked his knuckles.

Nadia considered the police officer and said, “Families are complicated, aren't they, Sergeant?"

Patsy Dibbs eyes widened.

Nadia went on in an exhausted voice.  "You cannot conceive of my agony, my despair when I looked into the rear view mirror and saw the devil behind the wheel of the truck manifested as one of my kin.” She lowered her voice. “The family calls 911 every time he terrorizes one of us.”

Joe Bhagg, braced against the faded counter, cleared his throat. “Ma, we’re private folks. We’ll deal with our own.”

Pushing back gray tendrils of loose hair, Nadia said sternly, “This kin ends up in jail and the evaluators send him to rehab where a calming medication is administered. Within a week, he’s released because he acts normal.” She folded her bandaged hands across her bosom. “I don’t want to repeat this scenario, Sergeant Dibbs. I want this latest incident treated as a medical emergency and not as a crime scene.”

Joe Junior darted toward the door. The tech tackled him and pinned him down. With an assist from Junior's father and brother, Barnes gave him a sedation injection to stabilize him.

“Sorry, Jacob,” Patsy Dibbs said moments later, “I had you pegged for the car basher and not your brother.” She shifted her gaze back to Nadia. “I’ll facilitate Joe Junior's treatment through my captain’s recommendations and those of the head psychiatrist at the psychiatric ward. I guarantee he will remain in the clinic for as long as it takes to treat his illness. Thereafter, he’ll have the proper follow-up and drug therapy.” She looked solemnly at Nadia. “In the meantime, Joe Junior will be charged for this crime but it’s likely to be tossed due to his illness.”

After everyone left, Nadia collapsed in her favorite chair and blessed herself. It was hard managing a futile system, one that forced her to stage an accident. If she had managed well, Joe Junior would get the remedial assistance he so badly needed for schizophrenia and the family would begin to heal.

Copyright © Patricia Crandall