Search Results for: by william wren

#84 The Strange Life He Recalls by William Wren

A man with strange memories lived a few years ago. He may still be alive; I couldn’t say. We haven’t spoken in years and I’ve heard he doesn’t live in Belize anymore. I don’t have a current address.

He was a man who always dressed well. Always wore smart clothes. Fashionable, but not in the day’s fashion. A step to the side of whatever the current trend was.

A fastidious man, his hair was always groomed; face studiously clean-shaven when he didn’t have a beard or mustache. When he had either, it was always crisply trimmed.

Fingers manicured. Toes pedicured. Definitely fastidious.

His eyes held had a look of quiet concern. It seemed something permanent. He wore sunglasses all the time, day and night; cloud or sun.

That look of concern was because of his memory. He remembered all manner of things and all of them were strange. For example, he remembered being a dried wishbone from a Christmas turkey, and he recalled being pulled violently apart. It gave him a shudder to think of it.

He told me once he remembered the fall of the Roman Empire. On his head! How he lived through it, he couldn’t say. I told him that it wasn’t possible. “It makes no sense,” I said.

“You think so?” he replied, leaning toward me, pulling his hair back from his brow. “How do you explain this?” He had a scar on his temple. “Sixteen stitches,” he said, as if that confirmed his claim.

The truth is, real or not, he believed in them. To him, they were true memories.

And so the past became a plague to him not simply because it was gone, existing only as disturbing or nostalgic trivia to bother his daily life, but because it was all weird memory, impossible things, yet fully and vividly and truly remembered.

With these strange memories swimming around in his head, he often drank. And drank a lot. Once he went to a local bar where he met a young woman with a Rubenesque configuration. He walked right up to her. I was there; I saw the whole thing. He told her he’d known her in another life. Intimately.

She punched his lights out. This man with strange memories dropped to his knees and wheezed as she strode away, “You’ve done that to me before!”

She wasn’t listening.

What can a man with strange memories do? He asked himself that question one day as he sat outside on a patio, alone, with journal and pen and sipping a chilled sauvignon blanc. I wasn’t there. He told me this later.

The answer came to him quickly and easily: Write a book, of course! An autobiography.

And that is what the man with strange memories did. He wrote a book. He called it, The Strange Life I Recall. It outsold cell phones. They made a movie of it. They may have changed the title.

He became impossibly wealthy, of course.

He moved to Belize. Said he used to live there back when the Mayans were running the show. There was a good deal of stone work back in those days, he said. But he hadn’t cared much for the mud and the dust.

We were sitting on his balcony in Belize one afternoon. We were sharing a bottle of wine under the glory of the Caribbean sun. He had his sunglasses on, though after the book came out I often saw him without them. Ever since his success, the look of concern was gone from his eyes. I think he’d become comfortable with his strange memories. They’d been woven into the fabric of the man he was, just as his natty appearance had. They defined him.

He said to me as he recalled his earlier stone working days with the Mayans, “If I ever see another cob of corn, I’ll scream.”

I wish I knew if he were still living and if so, where. I’d enjoy sharing a bottle of wine with him again. His memories were always entertaining.

© Copyright 2018 William Wren. All rights reserved.


w-l-wrenWilliam Wren is a writer in New Brunswick, Canada. He has had several stories published previously by the Rose City Sisters. He has one ebook collection of stories on Amazon, Disrupted Lives and Other Commotions. His next ebook will be available soon.

 

#81 The Move by William Wren

You are in a box. You’ve only a handful of inches to any side—left and right, before and behind.

The world trembles and rumbles. Every so often, it tilts inexplicably.

Faces appear in front of you. Squinting. They are four to five times the size of your own. They coo and murmur. They insert large appendages through slats in the box. Pink appendages. Brown appendages. Appendages knuckled and supple like tree branches, each trying to poke and scratch you.

Voices ask if you’re okay and you want to say, “I’m in a box! How okay can I be?” Instead, you ignore them and hope they go away. Continue Reading

There Are No Basements in Piddleville by William Wren

Everyone in Piddleville went swimming in Alistair Stanley’s above ground pool. So it broke. But it was a magic pool. When water spilled out it always filled up to the same level and temperature.

Leaking, it did its magic and fixed things. All of Piddleville then became Alistair Stanley’s pool. Everything filled up! What a legal to-do!

Today, Piddleville is a top destination for boaters. It’s a lovely, drowsy resort spot because the water is a nice, consistent temperature. People everywhere want to a swim in Alistair Stanley’s pool!

As for basements, there aren’t enough sump pumps to have those.

© Copyright 2016 William Wren. All rights reserved.
• • • • •
William Wren is a writer in New Brunswick, Canada. He has had two stories published previously by the Rose City Sisters: I’ve Never Been to Pasadena and Healing. He has one ebook collection of stories on Amazon, Disrupted Lives and Other Commotions. He has just completed another and hopes to make it available (as an ebook) very soon.

The Shaggy-Haired People of Norman Wells by William Wren

It was so unlike the indifference he’d known in the city. People were outside in the hundreds, scruffy and eager.

This was the top of the world, between Tulita and Fort Good Hope, a place the Dene called Le Gohlini, and he was wanted. Needed!

He stepped outside. A cheer went up. Face flushed, he called, “Appointments! Mornings for haircuts; styling, colour, mani-pedis…afternoons. Who’s first?”

Pen in hand, he took the booking. After waiting three years, the shaggy northern town of Norman Wells finally had its hairstylist and he was finally where he belonged; a place where he had purpose.

© Copyright 2016 William Wren. All rights reserved.
• • • • •
William Wren is a writer in New Brunswick, Canada. He has had two stories published previously by the Rose City Sisters: I’ve Never Been to Pasadena and Healing. He has one ebook collection of stories on Amazon, Disrupted Lives and Other Commotions. He has just completed another and hopes to make it available (as an ebook) very soon.

The Beauty and Tenacity of the Despised by William Wren

Mr. Gushaty’s homicide was graphically arresting. When I saw him I thought how sad it was he had never appreciated Coccinellidae. It was a fatal character flaw.

He could not abide the presence of ladybugs. Each spring he waged a war of no quarter given, poison his chosen weapon.

I have always felt the despised ladybug was a spark of giddy orange evocative of the tenacious impulse for life. Like dandelions in a barren plot of land thrusting through with a teenager’s persistent tumescence, so the ladybug.

Mr. Gushaty disagreed and is dead. The ladybugs remain, vibrantly returning each spring.

© Copyright 2016 William Wren. All rights reserved.
• • • • •
William Wren is a writer in New Brunswick, Canada. He has had two stories published previously by the Rose City Sisters: I’ve Never Been to Pasadena and Healing. He has one ebook collection of stories on Amazon, Disrupted Lives and Other Commotions. He has just completed another and hopes to make it available (as an ebook) very soon.

#56 Healing by William Wren

As Canadians celebrated their centennial she drifted south from British Columbia through the western United States to eventually find herself swirling through California and, finally, coming to a rest in Pasadena where she remained. It was 1967.

All of that is gone now.

• • •

After returning from the police station, she went into the study (which wasn’t a study at all but a corner of the basement with a desk surrounded by piles of laundry). With a rubber-tipped pencil she began erasing the world.

She started with the Bible. It took a great deal of time because it was large and had many translations. When finished, she moved on to dictionaries. All of them. They took almost fifteen years, the Complete Oxford consuming more than four. From dictionaries she moved on to phone books. After, she thought of newspapers but because she had erased them from every dictionary, they had already ceased to be.

It took her forty-three years, ten months, eleven days and a good four hours of the last day’s morning, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.. But then she was finished. She was seventy-one years old. History had been erased. Religion had been erased. Sexuality, in all its manifestations, had vanished. Gender was gone.

The Parliament of Canada had been removed to a place of non-existence where it remained with the United States Congress. Cars were no more. Children no longer gathered in gangs at street corners, clubs or anywhere else. There was no anywhere else.

There were no children.

Even her beloved Pasadena parrots were gone though she didn’t notice their absence because she no longer had any idea that such birds had been.

There was only a seventy-one-year-old woman with nothing left to erase. Even her memories were gone.

She no longer knew why she had begun erasing. The man who had violated her had vanished. The act had vanished. So had the soft sadness she would have felt had she not erased the realization that it had taken forty-three years, ten months, eleven days and four hours of this last morning to reach the point of only soft sadness remaining.

• • •

Everything was gone. What would she do now?

She turned her pencil around. Having erased age and death, she had time in abundance. (She had erased all time except her own.) She would enjoy herself. She would act and feel with the easiness of children before they’re absorbed by gangs and street corners.

With her pencil, she began re-writing the world. Her first words read, “Sky. Water. Earth. Voices. Laughter. Love. Song.”

Pausing a moment, she thought, then wrote, “A boy named Tim with hair that hides his eyes.”

© Copyright 2011 William Wren. All rights reserved

William Wren is a writer-editor in New Brunswick, Canada. He has been writing for more years than he can count. Recently has been gathering some of his older fiction and making it available online as free ebooks (in PDF). He hasn’t decided whether this is a good idea or not. He also wrote “I’ve Never Been to Pasadena” for this blog.

#25 I’ve never been to Pasadena by William Wren

“Are there moose in Pasadena?”

“Are there what? Where?”

“Moose. In Pasadena. I just ask ‘cause I’ve never been to Pasadena.”

Evelyn looked at Mr. Houle as if he had lost his mind. Mr. Houle had what people called “quirks.” White hair, a little bent and a smallish man, he was frailty’s poster child.

He was actually sixty-five and energetic. Just when you thought he would fall over with the wind, he’d begin his long and determined run through the park, down past the river, out to where the office buildings refused to go and the old barns refused to leave.

And he’d run back the way he came, without respite, never drained by the ordeal. If anything, he was invigorated. Until he started to think, when he would slump, walk slowly and appear very, very old.

In the early spring he had been asking about Dutch windmills, Don Quixote and the availability of old fashioned metal barber basins. When questioned, he replied, “Life should imitate art. I’m exploring possibilities.”

“Why would you want to know if they have moose in Pasadena?” Evelyn asked. She was not famous for a lively imagination.

“The re-creation,” Mr. Houle said.

“Re-creation?”

“Yes,” he replied. Despite appearances, he was astute and saw Evelyn would need more information. “My basement. I thought I should put something down there. I decided on Pasadena.”

Baffled, Evelyn asked, “Why?”

“I’ve never been to Pasadena.” The logic was self-evident.

Evelyn returned to her life at the bank, where she was moving upward managing the personal accounts of the many people who, unlike her, were incapable of organizing and orchestrating and ordering their finances.

There was good money in other people’s failings.

Evelyn led a life guided by order and planning and “plain good sense” (her father’s phrase). She had a house that would be paid for on a specific date. She had a fuel-efficient car completely paid for. And she had a cat though she did not see the point of cats. In fact, she had named her cat Pointless. (The cat had been a friend’s idea.)

Evelyn had neighbours on one side she greatly appreciated because they were rarely home and when they were, they were function-focused: car washing, lawn cutting, leaf raking.

Evelyn’s other neighbour was Mr. Houle. He was always home, never functional, and had a dog, Troy, who wagged his tail for everyone but Evelyn. With her, he barked crossly and shat on her lawn. The only place he ever shat was on her lawn.

She wanted to report the dog and would have long ago but everyone on the street loved Troy and found his antics cute. Many of them were her clients at the bank.

With his shitting dog, impractical pursuits and deadpan seriousness while discussing the most absurd of ideas, Mr. Houle reminded Evelyn almost daily of her mother, whom her father had left when she was twelve in an act informed by plain good sense.

Most galling to Evelyn was the information she had received from an old university friend who worked in a similar position as she, but at another bank. Mr. Houle was loaded and had started from nothing.

How the hell could that be?

One day in late January, Mr. Houle called out to Evelyn as she was heading for work.

“Ever been to Pasadena?”

Rushing, she simply answered, “No.”

“It sure is somethin’!”

To Evelyn’s dismay, he walked over to her.

“I tell you, I’ve never been much for football. And I never understood what Americans saw in that college football. But I’ll say this, that Rose Bowl is a thing to see. A thing to see.”

“I’m sure it is,” Evelyn said. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m running behind. Bye!” She quickly got in her car, started it up and left.

The Woodstocks were looking at the possibility of a loan, maybe a second mortgage, to finance their son Josh’s education. Evelyn was impressed. He’d be going to Caltech.

She was concerned with the application, though.

“You’ll be able to cover tuition and things like books, but I don’t see how you can cover living accommodations, meals and so on.”

“Josh will be staying at home,” Mrs. Woodstock said. “He’ll have his bedroom and we’ve decided to give him the back room too. And he’ll be eating at home of course.” She smiled.

Evelyn blinked, then asked, “Are these online studies?”

Mr. Woodbridge answered, “Oh no. He’s got the campus map and all. He’ll be doing some running around, mind, but if he’s quick he’ll manage it.”

Bluntly, Evelyn asked, “How will he be living at home and attending classes at Caltech? That’s in Pasadena. California.”

“It is. But Mr. Houle says it’s fine for Josh to come by in the mornings and go downstairs. The Bester’s girl, Leah, she’s been going for over a week. To Pasadena, that is. Says the climate’s more agreeable. And Mr. Houle don’t mind.”

After work, Evelyn went straight to Mr. Houle’s front door.

“I’ve had people at the bank today saying their son is going to school at Caltech in Pasadena but living at home. When I ask how that’s possible, they say, ‘Oh, Mr. Houle doesn’t mind. He says use the basement anytime.’”

“They can.”

“But you don’t have Pasadena in your basement.”

“But I do.”

“Oh, you have Pasadena in your basement?”

“Yes. Wasn’t sure it would fit, but it does. And it’s a helluva thing. I’d move there except I prefer living on the main floor of the house.”

“You do not have Pasadena in your basement.”

“Yes I do.

“No you don’t.”

“Do.”

It was an irresolvable moment so Mr. Houle said, “Why not come downstairs and see?”

Fuming, Evelyn said, “Yes. Let’s just do that.”

They went down to the basement.

It was Pasadena. It was sunny. Everyone was so, so tanned.

There were no moose.

© Copyright 2009 William Wren. All rights reserved.


William Wren is a writer-editor in New Brunswick, Canada. He likes constraints. With the above example, he spent more time reducing the word count than actually writing the story. More to the point, he finds his creativity stimulated by constraints such as, “a Pasadena connection.” Having never been to Pasadena and knowing little beyond a parade and football game, the writing became very compelling. What to write? Why, a Pasadena of the mind, of course.