Sunday, January 13, 2013


Now I've gone and done it.  I will now have to write a novel!

I had finally gotten tired of giving Cathy presents like garlic presses and Belgian Waffle makers and hunting knives and cocktail shakers and conga drums for Christmas.  For the Christmas of a couple of weeks back I wanted to be totally original.  Hence the novel.  She didn't get a complete novel, mind you, just Chapter One.  What I plan to do is present one chapter to Cathy at every future birthday and Christmas Day.  I figure in 15 years, or so, the novel will be finished.  At that point I'll have the completed novel published and I'll sell millions of copies and Cathy will finally be able to retire.  Hurrah!

The novel is untitled for now.  So here, for your reading pleasure, is Cathy's literary Christmas present.

                                                             CHAPTER ONE

        Where Ursula and Beatrice discuss the naming of their soon-to-be-opened yarn store.

     “Beatrice,” said the elder of the two sisters, “As I am plunking down fifty-five percent of our starting capital, I have decided that I shall bear the responsibility of naming the yarn store.”
     “Now, now, Ursula,” said Beatrice.  “Do not revert to your former self.”
     Ursula paused a moment as she contemplated on whether or not she had been insulted.  “What exactly do you mean by that, little sister?” she asked.
     “Ursula, it is a well known fact, and Archibald will confirm it if asked, that you were a tyrant during our childhood years.  Everything had to be done your way.  All games had to be played by your rules.”
     Ursula maintained her composure, though not without some difficulty.  “Well, Beatrice,” she said.  “If I was a childhood despot it was only because you were obviously Father’s favorite and Archibald was, without question, the apple of Mother’s eye.  Nothing would have gone my way if I had not asserted myself every now and then.”
     Beatrice calmly took a bite of her sandwich.  “This bacon is delicious, Ursula.  Where did you purchase it?  And the mayonnaise you’ve chosen to accompany it is superb.  May I ask what brand it is?  The lettuce is obviously Romaine and the tomatoes are quaintly organic, but the bread, does it contain oats?  I could be mistaken, but I believe I detect a subtle hint of oats in its flavor.  Also, what name did you have in mind for our soon-to-be-opened yarn store?”
     Again, Ursula paused as she could not remember where exactly the bacon had come from.  “I will answer the last of your questions first, Beatrice,” Ursula finally replied.  “What is your opinion of ‘Ye Olde Yarne Shoppe’?”
     Beatrice finished the last bite of her sandwich and had a sip of milk before she said, “Two percent?”
     “Beg pardon?” said Ursula.
     Beatrice clarified her remark.  “The milk.  Two percent?
     Ursula answered, “It is whole milk.”
     “You may not believe me, big sister, but I believe that the recent loss of my four wisdom teeth has negatively affected my taste buds.  There was a time when I could easily tell you what type of milk I was drinking, or if a slice of bread contained oats or not.  Sadly, those days are gone.  As gone as my cherished wisdom teeth.  And it’s a bit old-fashioned, wouldn’t you say?  This whole “Ye Olde” approach.  The wording just reeks of antiquity.  Are we not striving to open a modern and exciting new yarn store?  Cutting edge and all that?  And how exactly might you be spelling these moldy words that practically drip dust? ”
     “First, teeth have nothing to do with one’s ability to distinguish flavors,” said Ursula matter-of-factly.  “And as for the spelling, Old and Yarn would have E’s at the end and a P and an E would be added to the word Shop.  Ye Olde Yarne Shoppe.”
     “Is this how they would have spelled it in days of bore, I'm sorry, I mean days of yore?” Beatrice asked.
     “I do not know,” answered Ursula.  “But the spelling is distinctive.  It will stick in people’s minds and they will never forget the existence of our soon-to-be-opened store.”
     Beatrice leaned back in her chair with her hands clasped behind her head.  She stared at the ceiling as she spoke.  “I was thinking of something a bit more Chekhovian.”
     “Chekhovian?” asked a startled Ursula.
     “Chekhovian.  As in Anton Chekhov,” Beatrice replied
     “I am aware that Chekhovian refers to the Russian writer, Beatrice Peary.  But what exactly are you referring to when you throw such an unexpected term into the middle of our argument?”
     Beatrice continued her intense study of the ceiling.  “Argument?  Business colloquy is a more apt term.  What say you to Three Sisters Yarn?” asked Beatrice.
     Ursula took a quick glance at the ceiling to see if she was missing something.  Finding nothing of interest, her gaze returned to her younger sister.  “If you’re going to lean towards  Chekhov, why not Cherry Orchard Yarns or even Uncle Vanya’s Yarns?” retorted Ursula.
     “Ha-HA!” exclaimed Beatrice.  “I have missed your verbal bite these last three years.  It is better than most people’s.  No one can say that your sweet, sophisticated sarcasm was not missed.  But just for the record, we have no uncle named Vanya, nor do we have any connection with any orchard that produces cherries.”
     “And did you also happen to notice that we are but two.  Unless Archibald is considering some life-changing surgery, there is no third sister.”
     “Poetic license,” said Beatrice calmly.  “And you cannot deny that Three Sisters Yarn is far superior to Ye Olde Yarne Shoppe.  Three Sisters Yarn is a conversation starter.  Customers would ask about our other sister and we would tell them fanciful tales that would intrigue them to no end.  Their curiosity would compel them to buy more yarn than the amount they had originally planned.”
     “Fanciful tales?” asked Ursula suspiciously.
     Beatrice leaned over the table to get as close to Ursula as she could.  “We will invent a third sister.  We will make her whatever we want her to be.  A silent partner who no one will ever see.”
     “Of course no one will ever see her.  She doesn’t exist,” Ursula retorted.
     Beatrice ignored the obvious logic and continued.  “She could be the sister who became a nun and who does missionary work in Mozambique.  Or she could be the sister who repairs motorcycles in Albania.  Or perhaps the sister who traveled to the Himalayas to unionize the Sherpas.  Or even the sister who is a volunteer firefighter in Tierra del Fuego.  So many possibilities.”
     Now it was Ursula’s turn to lean over the table.  The two sisters’ faces were inches apart.  “Beatrice,”
     “Yes, Ursula?”
     “Do you remember how I used to incessantly claim that Pierre was the craziest human being on the face of the earth?”
     “A most delightful Frenchman, your ex-husband.  No nicer man ever came from Nice.  But yes, he is a little bit touched.”
     “Well, dear younger sister, the craziest human title is now yours.”
     Beatrice leaned back and finished the last of her milk.  “What do you have in the way of dessert, Ursula?”
     “There is almost half a blueberry pie in the icebox,” answered the elder sister.
     “Dear, dear Ursula.  Icebox?  Whatever will I do with you?  This is the twenty first century.  You can start saying refrigerator like the rest of the planet.”
     Ursula contemplated her sister's empty milk glass.  “I like the term icebox,” she stated.  “It is quaint and full of charm.  Just like Ye Olde Yarne Shoppe.”
     “May I have a piece of that blueberry pie and may I also offer you a slice?” asked Beatrice.
     “You are my sister, Beatrice.  With the exception of my Cashmere sweaters, you are welcome to whatever is in my house.  And yes, I will have a slice.  Blueberry pie would certainly hit the spot right about now.  And while you're fetching the pie, please also bring the milk”
     Beatrice rose and proceeded to take out the pie and milk.  She put the remaining three slices on plates and brought the three plates, along with three forks and the gallon jug of milk to the table.  She was about to sit down but suddenly stood up straight.  “Do you have any ice cream?”
     “Do forgive, Beatrice.  The last of the Butter Pecan was finished last night.  Though if you explore the deepest corners of the top part of the icebox, you might find an old carton of plain vanilla.  However, I would taste it first, if I were you.  No use ruining a delicious slice of blueberry pie.
     “I will eat the blueberry pie plain,” stated Beatrice.  She sat down, ate a forkful of the pie, poured herself a half glass of the milk and had a sip.
     Ursula did likewise and after audibly swallowing a large bite of the pie, she said, “Beatrice, I could not help but notice that there is a third piece of pie resting comfortably between us.  What plans do you have for this slice?”
     “That is Archibald’s,” replied Beatrice.
     “Archibald?” a perplexed Ursula asked, “Why are you saving a slice for our brother?”
     “After I finish this pie, I intend to call Archibald.  I will ask him to come over.  He adores blueberry pie.  Perhaps even more than you and me.”
     “I would not argue that,” said Ursula.  “Archibald has always been a connoisseur of fine desserts.”    
     “Yes, he got that gift from Mother.  Also, he is as wise as Solomon,” added Beatrice.
     “Are you referring to Judge Solomon of the State Supreme Court?” asked Ursula.
     Beatrice smiled.  “What a saucy smart-aleck you are, dear elder sister.  You know perfectly well that I am referring to the Biblical Solomon.”
     “Ahh,” exclaimed Ursula.  “The baby splitter.”
     “The baby was never split.  You know that as well as I, Ursula.  And here are some more facts that you might be aware of.  Our yarn store will open in approximately two months.  We do not yet have a name for this sisterly business endeavor of ours.  We will need one soon.  Apparently, we are unable to reach an agreement on what name our soon-to-be-opened yarn store shall have.  Archibald has successfully arbitrated many of our past disputes.  In that respect he has been a good brother.  Would you agree to abide by whatever decision he makes as far as the naming of the business?”
     Ursula slid the fork under another bit of her pie.  She chewed it slowly and carefully.  Finally, she said, “Perhaps we could also get Archibald to eat the last of that old carton of vanilla ice cream that has been gestating in my icebox for who-knows-how-long.  I do so hate to throw out food.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

One chapter down, about twenty nine more to go.   In my head I already have the next three chapters mapped out.  Chapter Two - Where Archibald advises his sisters on a name for the store,  Chapter Three - Where Janet receives knitting tips from Ursula,  and Chapter Four - Where a most bizarre first customer inaugurates the store.  Now all I have to do is write them.  Jumping Jiminy!  What have I gotten myself into?

No comments:

Post a Comment