Posted in Short Stories

Carousels and Nightmares (Part II)

Sheila backed away from the edge of her balcony the moment after the detective peered inside the hole then drug his head up and sideways to give her a sideways glare. She backed up into the sliding glass door. An electric current sapped her nerves. Why did he glare at her? How did he see her up here? Her chest labored as she took in each breath. She hadn’t done anything wrong, so why was she so nervous? Wait. Why indeed? She sighed and forced herself to relax then turned around, opened the door and slipped inside.

The display on the digital clock on her bedside table read 10:23 am. It was Saturday. To her Saturdays were relax, read, and fun days. Spying her kindle on her dressing table, she snatched it up and strolled out into the hall an down the stairs. A loud knock on the front door jolted her to a stop. Her heart began its pounding in her chest once more.

“Open up,” yelled a male voice on the other side of the front door.

Sheila inhaled another deep breath, let it out slow, and proceeded the rest of the way down the steps. “Coming,” she called back in as calm a voice as she could muster. She reached the bottom step, sauntered over to the entryway, and opened the door. It was the same plainclothes detective she viewed from her bedroom balcony. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“I’m Detective Jameson. Are you Sheila Baye?” asked the detective in a tone that could snap an alligator to attention.

“Y-yes. What’s the problem?”

“Can we go inside, ma’am?”


Once they were inside and the door was closed, Detective Jameson asked, “Ms. Baye, do you have a twin?”

Sheila shook her head with a quick jolt. “Excuse me?”

“I asked, do you…..”

“I heard what you said. No, I don’t.”

The detective leaned from one foot to the other and massaged his chin with his thumb and forefinger.

“What?” asked Sheila. “Does this have anything to do with what’s going on next door?”

Detective Jameson didn’t speak right away. Instead he rested both hands on his hip and eyed Sheila as though trying to decide something. Then, “Do you know the people next door?”

“Kind of but not really,” said Sheila.

“What do you mean?”

“Well just that we don’t normally talk to each other, like carry on a conversation or anything. Beyond the niceties of being polite, that is. You know, like, ‘Hi, how are you.’ That sort of thing.”

“Have you ever been over there or go inside the house?”

“No.” A brief pause hung in the air for a full minute. Then, “Detective, what’s this about?
When I was up on my balcony a little bit ago, I saw two people digging. What did they find, a body? I couldn’t see everything from my vantage point.”

“Where were you the last two days?”

“Am I a suspect?”

“Just trying to rule you out.”

“I was in Chicago at a writer’s conference. I just got home late last night,” replied Sheila. “Here,” she walked over to a small table propped against the wall, grabbed her used plane ticket, and handed it over to him.

“Can anyone verify you were there?”

“Another author went with me. His name is Taren Wilks. Now, you want to fill me in on what this is all about? If I’m being accused of something, then I need to call my lawyer.”

Detective Jameson winced then eyed her once more. “Ms. Baye, it’s…I’m not so sure…what I mean is…never mind. Come with me. There’s something you need to see.”

Sheila followed the detective out the front door and over to the house next door. They entered the front door and found two officers in the front living room searching. The detective continued through the rest of the house and out the back door with Sheila following close behind.

They stopped at the far left corner of the backyard. The detective turned and faced her. Sheila craned her neck to look over his shoulder, but he moved to block her.

“Before you look at what I am about to show you, I want you to keep in mind that it’s going to look disturbing.”

“Of course, it will. Dead bodies are supposed to be disturbing.”

The detective didn’t respond and gazed at the ground instead.

“It is a dead body…right?” asked Sheila.

“Yes, yes it is.” He moved out of her way.

Sheila stared down at the body in the hole and gasped.

Posted in Short Stories

Carousels and Nightmares (Part I)

The Present

Sheila Baye stood propped against the sliding glass door as she looked from the balcony off her bedroom. Next door the police swarmed in an out of the house. She assumed they were searching for….what….clues? Clues to what? She noted the gloves they all wore. Maybe one of the Mason twins was killed. Maybe one of them or both stole something and hid it. Given the number of officers, it had to be pretty serious, she surmised.

Her attention drew to movement in the far left corner of the house’s property out back. To Sheila it was a blind spot, even being up high on her balcony. But a couple of heads bobbed up above the wooden fence then lowered. She sauntered to the outer corner of her balcony and stretched her neck hoping to gain a better view. Then one of the heads was joined by a hand waving someone down from inside the house. A plain clothes detective, she assumed, rushed out of the house and over to the two bobbing heads.

“What have you got?” asked the detective.

One of the officers who had been digging, moved to the side and gestured toward the hole. It was a body.

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Short Stories

My Treasure (Part VII)

“Three months passed, the air grew colder, and Grandpa didn’t get any better. His doctor said he had been suffering a series of mild strokes, which led to speech that wasn’t understandable. To Grandpa his world was slowly slipping away. His home life was gone, and the things he used to do like, trapping beaver, mowing the lawn, walking in the woods, and family hotdog roasts, seemed a world away. I knew the Lord was getting ready to call him to his heavenly home, when he had his final stroke.

Mom and dad tried to tell me how Grandpa’s stroke happened, but I wouldn’t listen. I didn’t want to hear that Grandpa, my immortal treasure, was almost gone. All I wanted was to see him again.

A week before Christmas my dad drove me up north, so I could be with Grandpa. I wished I had listened, when mom and dad tried to tell me about what happened to Grandpa when he had his stroke. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. As I walked into the nursing home, I still noticed the odor of antiseptic. The atmosphere had changed somewhat. Everything looked as though it wore a grey shroud. When I got to Grandpa’s room, the whole family stood along the perimeter of the wall surrounding the bed. I stopped at the door, and everyone looked at me with solemn faces. Thinking I could help make my sad feelings go away, I smiled nervously. I sauntered into the room, passed the curtain that shielded Grandpa’s bed on the right, and turned around to face him. The small and shrunken man in the bed was just a shell of the man that had once been. His body had deflated, as though his soul had left and took everything with it. His right eye was black and blue, but his nose still stood strong. His mouth was open, as if he were about to sing. Both eyes were closed. A feeling of sorrow and sadness overwhelmed me, and my stomach sat in knots. Grandma walked over and stood on my right.

I started to cry, as she hugged me. “It’ll be alright. He’ll be going to a better place soon, a place where his pain will be over, and he’ll be at home again,” she said.

“I know, but I’ll miss him,” I said.

“We all will.”

I went back to Grandma’s and stayed the night. The next morning I was awakened by my mom.

“Wake up, Jill. Jill, come on sweetie. Wake up.”


“Jill, Grandma just called from the nursing home and said that Grandpa just passed away a few minutes ago. We’re all going down there to have a small devotion in his room. Do you want to go?”

“Yes, I do.”

After the devotion, Grandpa’s body was taken away, but his memories were left behind. In the corner of the room stood his cane. I walked over and picked it up. At that moment, I realized his cane was not a sad reminder of what used to be. Instead, it reminded me of what still remained of Grandpa in the treasured memories of my mind.


Posted in Short Stories

My Treasure (Part VI)

A week later Grandpa was settled into his new room at Fairbanks Nursing Home in Tawas City. Grandma and mom took me to see him for the first since he’d been there. The electronic door opened its mouth to welcome our arrival. After I entered, the door shut behind me with a strong force, like a door of a prison. The whole building was in the shape of the letter X. The halls were painted sickly pink, and an odor of antiseptic danced about. Grandpa’s room bragged pictures of all his grand kids, get well cards, and pictures hung on the wall that were drawn by some of his great grandchildren. In one corner was his cane, a sad reminder of what once had been only last week. Outside his door other tenants lurked. Some of them didn’t know where they were, and others knew all too well and wanted to leave. I couldn’t blame them. Their lives had come to a halt the moment they stepped in the door. I watched my mom as she knelt in front of her father.

Taking his hands in hers, she asked, “Are you okay, dad?”

“I want to go home. This isn’t home. Will I ever go home?”

She hung her heat and tears started to run down her cheeks. A few moments later she picked up her head, faced her dad and said, “I’m so sorry dad, but you have to stay here until you can walk again. It’s very important that you do as they say, so you can walk again. Then you can come home.”

His eyes moved from hers to his frail hands in his lap. His head nodded. When he looked back up at her again, he had the same sad expression on his face that he did last week when he had been on his riding lawn mower. The sadness on his face spoke its silent feelings. Deep within him he knew he wasn’t going home.

“Jill, could you stay here with Grandpa while your Grandma and I quick run and take care of some business?” mom asked me.

I looked nervously at my mom, and then at my Grandma. Both of their faces expressed concern. As I turned and looked at Grandpa, I felt a sharp pang of grief. Turning on my heel, I ran out of the room. Tears gushed from my eyes, and I began to sob. I couldn’t stand seeing him like that. I felt his pain, I felt his dismay. Grandpa would never be the same again, and that was hard to accept.

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Short Stories

My Treasure (Part V)

Grandpa’s downcast face and gentle eyes looked troubled. In a small voice he said, “I’m 87 years old, and I have nothing to show for it.”

“Sure you do,” replied Grandma.

“No, I don’t. I don’t have a lot of money, and I’m not able to buy you everything you want.”

“Ben,” said Grandma. “You have five healthy children, sixteen grandchildren, and twenty great grandchildren who love you. You have a wife who loves you, a house you own outright, and no outstanding debts. Ben, you’re the richest man in the world.”

Later that afternoon, I watched Grandpa mowing the lawn on his riding mower. His cheeks drooped with an expression of sadness. His eyes reflected melancholy. It was as though he knew something upsetting about himself. Around in circles he went, sometimes mowing the same patch of grass twice. This can’t be the same man that used to be so strong long ago. I felt his sadness, but there was nothing I could do to change the fact that he was getting worse.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, inhaling the smoky, rich scent of the pine trees along the edge of the lawn. This smell I knew all too well. The different campgrounds Grandma and Grandpa used to take us to when we were kids boasted the same fragrance. But the camping stopped as we all grew older, and soon Grandpa sold his trailer. It’s hard to bear the thought that all things are forever changing, and that nothing gets stuck in time. When I opened my eyes, Grandpa was still sitting on his mower. He had a smile on his gentle face. I smiled back and took in the memory of his smiling sweet face. I would always remember this moment.

On my way home that evening, I had an uneasy feeling I couldn’t shake. I needed someone to talk to so I decided to stop off at mom’s instead of going directly home. When I walked in my parents’ house, I noticed my mom’s red eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Apparently, after you left, Grandpa fell,” she said.

“But he was fine when I walked out the door. How did it happen?”

“He was making his usual rounds between the kitchen and the living room, when his knees gave out.”

“So what’s going to happen now?”

“Well, he can’t walk now, which means your Grandmother can’t take care of him. After all, it’s too much for her to handle. The only thing I can think of is to put him in a nursing home.”

“I thought you were against that.”

“I was, but that’s the only option we have.”

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Short Stories

My Treasure (Part IV)

I arrived at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s early in the evening Thursday just in time to join them for dinner. I felt a little awkward and on edge because I didn’t know if I would be able to handle helping to take care of Grandpa. It was my first time, and I didn’t want to get anything wrong.

After supper, we went for a drive near Tawas Lake. It wasn’t a very large lake. In fact, it was very peaceful and quiet. Grandpa always liked driving out there. It was part of where he would do his trapping in the winter. But even now that he was too old to trap, he still liked going there because it was pretty, and he was able to be among God’s beauty. I could see it in his pale blue eyes and the pleasant smile on his sweet face. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for him if he couldn’t have that beautiful lake or his sense of home.

When we arrived back at the house, Grandpa appeared to be more restless than usual. Grandma said he had slept well the last few nights, so his unrest surprised me. It was 11:00 pm, when we finally got him to bed. Two hours later my Grandma knocked on my bedroom door.

“Grandpa wants to tell you something, sweetie.”

“Okay. I’m up. I’m coming,” I relied.

I got out of bed and followed her to their room. When I got there, Grandpa was sitting up in bed, with a concerned look on his toothless face. He said something to me, but I found it hard to understand because he was mumbling. I felt tense at the moment, and I didn’t quite know what to say because I didn’t know what he’d said. Grandma knew I felt uneasy. She looked at me with understanding and said, “You can go back to bed, Jill, it’s okay.”

“Good night, Gram.”

At 3:00 in the morning, the clomp, clomp, clomp of my Grandpa’s footsteps outside my bedroom door woke me. I had to chuckle because, whenever my sisters and I would stay at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house, he used to threaten to pour water on us in the morning if we didn’t get up.

“Jill, Lynn, Gale, get up or I’ll get the water,” Grandpa said.

“No, no, no. We’re up,” I replied.

We could hear him coming, because the clomp of his shoes gave him away. Exactly like I heard it just now. Only now, I knew he wasn’t going to throw water on me.

“Jill, get up and come out in the kitchen and talk to me,” said Grandpa.

“Sure, Grandpa.”

When I got to the kitchen, Grandma was standing there. She said, “Go ahead and lay down on the couch. He really doesn’t need anyone to be up with him. He’ll be okay.”

At 5:00 am I was awakened again by Grandpa. He was in the middle of getting dressed and needed some help.

“Jill, Jill, wake up will ya.”

“Yes, Grandpa. What do you need?” I asked.

“Help me with my shirt.”

When we finished, he sat down in his recliner and looked at me as I lay on the couch.

“I love you, Jill,” said Grandpa.

“I love you, too, Grandpa.”

“Do you really?” he asked.

“Yes, Grandpa. I do.”

I woke up at 7:00 am and found my grandparents sitting at the table. Grandpa looked sad.

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Short Stories

My Treasure (Part III)

The next evening, I sat on the couch in my small two bedroom apartment watching TV. Since I had just moved in, I hadn’t had time to decorate yet, so the place was bare with nothing on the walls. For the time being the couch, chair, TV, and small kitchen table with chairs would do. As I walked across the tiny living room to the kitchen to grab a snack, I thought about my mom and dad. They had put up enough money for the first six months rent on my apartment, so I could find a decent job. I lived alone, so I didn’t have anyone else to provide for. Just then the phone rang. It was my mom.

“Jill, I was wondering if you could do me a favor.”

“Sure, what is it?”

She hesitated and sniffled as though crying. I waited quietly. After another moment, she said, “Could you possibly stay with Grandma and Grandpa over night next Thursday? I can’t because I’m on call at the hospital.”

“Yes, I’ll do it. Not a problem. What’s wrong? It sounds like you’ve been crying.”

“Oh, it’s just so sad. It’s hard to see my dad with the knowledge that he isn’t what he used to be. I don’t want him to grow old.”

“I understand, mom. I feel the same way. I wish I could go back in time and relive all those memories with him all over again.”

After a few more minutes of talking, we hung up. I sat on the couch and wondered where mom’s energy came from. Somehow she managed to work long hours at St. Vincent’s Hospital as a home care coordinator, and then go up north every night to take care of her dad. Not to mention she always found the time to keep herself looking nice. Her brown shoulder length hair was always groomed, her make-up neat, and her clothes washed and ironed. I had to smile because she had displayed the same kind of energy her dad always had.

Posted in Short Stories

My Treasure (Part II)

My grandparents’ cottage was simple. The back door opened into a small utility room with a soft yellow carpet, bare walls, and a washer and dryer. To the left a door led to the cozy kitchen/dining room that bragged soft brownish hues. Off the kitchen was a tiny pink bathroom and two smaller rooms. One of them was used for storage, while the other was used as a sewing room. At the front of the house the living room sat next to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s bedroom.

When I arrived at their house, I found them sitting at the dining room table grinning widely and looking out the large window next to them. I was surprised to find my Grandma’s hair still black after 78 years. Of course, she was part Canadian Indian. Grandpa still looked the same. He had all of his hair, which was a light sandy blond with flex of gray, and his kind, gentle eyes were a baby blue. The only difference was his cane, but that made him look more distinguished.

“Hello, sweetie. It’s so good to see you again. You look great. Have you been working out?”

I gave them both a kiss on the cheek and a hug and said, “Yeah, some.”

“Oh no. You cut your hair. It used to be so full and long,” said Grandma. “Why did you cut it?”

“It was in the way, and I got tired of putting it up every day for the army, so I decided to cut it short. It’ll grow back,” I replied.

Grandma smiled and said, “I know, love. Say, would you like to play a game of Scrabble with me?”

“Sure, I’d love to.”

As we sat and played, I noticed that Grandpa got up from his chair at the kitchen table, walked to his recliner in the living room, sat down, then got up a few minutes later and made a return trip to his chair in the kitchen.

At one point, while Grandpa was sitting his recliner, I asked, “Grandma? I noticed Grandpa keeps making trips back and forth from his chair in the kitchen to his chair in the living room. How come?”

“I’m not sure,” she answered. “I think he’s trying to reassure himself that he is still able to walk without falling over. He’s so afraid of falling. It seems like he’s getting weaker every day.”

The rest of the day we watched television, talked, and enjoyed each other’s company. That’s all I really wanted anyway. That evening, as my mom arrived to spend the night, I left and drove home knowing I had just made some of the best memories of my life.

Posted in Short Stories

My Treasure (Part I)

This story is based on true events. It was written to honor my Grandfather, John Wojahn.

The only thing I could think about on my way up to Tawas was my grandparents. I hadn’t seen either one in the five years I had been in the army overseas, so it will be nice to see them again. But things had changed. Grandpa’s health was growing worse. He had developed prostate cancer and had to have a catheter put in. My mom had to help Grandma take care of him at night, which meant a long drive to Tawas every evening when she got off work; only to turn around the next morning and go back to Saginaw to go to work again. It was hard on her, but she did it because she loved her dad very much. It was hard to see him grow old. He used to be so full of energy and spunk. As a little girl with blond pig tails, I used to play with him all the time. It seemed like only yesterday that I was sitting on his lap taking the tickle test.

“Come here, Jill. Ya didn’t take the test yet,” said Grandpa.

“I don’t want to take the test. It tickles,” I replied.

“You’re eight years old. You can take it. Come on.”


I sat up on his lap and put my arms high above my head. He took his big finger and buzzed my neck under my ears on both sides. When I didn’t giggle, he moved to my arm pits and slowly moved his finger just above them to tease me. Then he sang his usual chant.

“Tweedle dee, tweedle dum, if ya don’t laugh soon, I’ll get you in your tum tum.” The last two words brought his large hand down on my belly, tickling me endlessly.

“Ha ha ha ha, Grandpa stop, ha ha ha ha, that tickles, ha ha ha.”

“He stopped and said, “Ya didn’t pass.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Cause ya giggled.”

“But I’m s’posed ta giggle, Grandpa, ‘specially when I get tickled.”

He gave me a hug, and I said, “Grandpa, you’ll never die. You’ll live always.”

“Oh, I’ll die someday.”

“No, because God knows how much we love you, so he won’t take you away.”

All he did was smile, a smile that I still think about even now, twenty years later at the age of twenty-eight. As I headed north on U.S. 23 just five miles north of Au Gres, Lake Huron smiled at me on my right. I rolled down the windows on both sides and took in the fresh summer air. The sun danced over the lake, leaving sun crystals sparkling on the water. The sky was ice blue with poufy puffs of clouds floating in the distance. Trees stood commandingly on both sides of the highway, hiding the cottages by the lake, demanding privacy.

As I drew up on Tawas Bay twenty miles later, the beauty of it sang out to me. There were no trees, just turquoise water with one foot waves rolling in toward the blankets of sand on the beach. Boats of all kinds lay buoyant, basking in the sun as it met the water. Now I know why Grandma and Grandpa chose to live up here. They’re so lucky to have this scene to look at every day.

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Short Stories

The Perfect Woman (Part VIII)

“I’m sorry for intruding like this, but I just wanted to apologize for earlier,” said Bryson with upturned brows and innocent blue eyes.

“What do you have to apologize for? I’m the one who should say I’m sorry. I interrupted your date. I was just nervous to talk to you is all, so I thought I’d get it over with. I was thinking about my own feelings and not about yours. I’m so sorry. But couldn’t have this waited until we get to work tomorrow. One-.” She glanced at a nearby clock on the wall. “Well now it’s two in the morning. Anyway, now isn’t the time.”

“What’s the matter? You need your beauty rest or something? I’ll never talk to the likes of you again. I come here to say I’m sorry, and this is how I get treated.” He turned back toward the apartment door and grabbed the handle.

“Wait! I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have gotten upset. You can come by any time. I mean…”

Bryson remained where he stood for a minute. Then, “Ok. I accept your apology. Look, I really want to get to know you better.” He turned and faced her then reached a finger up to her cheek and ran it lightly underneath her chin. Her shiver permeated through his touch. Oh yes, this one is going to be pudding in his hands.