Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WEP: Peace and Love

Today's post is brought to you by the letter P in W E "P" (Write..Edit..Publish) April presentation of their quarterly blogfest. And also by that minor event called the A-Z blogfest. Not like anyone is Participating in that nonsense . . .

Well, not me. I'm a consistent non-Participant, and haven't even read any posts from my friends list. Sorry guys. I have literally tons of handy excuses. I shall not bore you with that pretentiousness though.

You're welcome :)

Anyhooo, I've protruded from hibernation just long enough to participate in WEP (hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee - and various minions) April challenge titled "PEACE AND LOVE." And that sigh of relief heard at WEP linky page was me when I read: just because April is poetry month, it doesn’t mean you have to post poetry. I think that sigh has been felt everywhere with the freaky weather this month in the form of high winds, tornadoes and hurricanes. Again - sorry, my bad.

Our hosts have prompted us authors with this sage advice: Create an artistic interpretation: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre is up to you. The artistic choice is yours.

Naturally I chose the fiction path. I had way to many ideas percolating in my witless pate over the past month about the meaning of Peace and Love to myself, and how to integrate it into A-Z. Words like peace officer and purgatory immediately sprang to mind. Almost too serious.

Eventually something whimsical plastered itself on a blank word document, and ever so slowly (meaning finished and polished last minute) paragraphs began to form into a consistent story. It weights in at 819 words, and I'm hoping its not too whimsical, too serious, or too abstract.


“Please pay the Piper at the end of the pier.”

“The –“ I looked around, not seeing pier or Piper.

“Piper at the end of the pier,” he repeated, pointing a thumb behind himself.

I looked behind him, into the distance. There was nothing. Nothing at all. No darkness, or white fog, or dim light. Impossibly, nothing. I blinked away the visage, then returned my questioning gaze to the man behind the podium. His long face had grown longer, his gaunt jowls and hinged lips sinking lower towards his tuxedo’d chest.

My mouth and thoughts stuttered over an appropriate response. Or question. He looked to be a shorter, more squat version of Herman Munster. Or the door knob in Walt Disney’s cartoon Alice In Wonderland that guarded the entrance to Wonderland.

“You are a prolific ponderer, aren’t you?” The door-faced clerk intoned. “You can produce the required payment?”

I recalled an old faerie tale that had nothing to do with a piper. “Two coins for the ferryman?”

His chin sank lower into his chest. “Follow the path as it presents itself. Pay the Piper at the end of the pier.  Now push-off you procrastinator, you’re preventing the line from progressing.”

A brief glance confirmed there was nobody behind. I turned back to protest, and again found myself alone.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” I mumbled to myself as I started forward.

The creak of water-logged planks was immediately recognizable beneath my slippers. And familiar. My pace quickened, memories of my childhood home flooded my senses. The fishy smell of the freshwater pond we drew our plumbing from, the occasional cry of lonely gulls, the pier on the other side of the levy where the river rushed towards the mountain loch. And another sound, comfortable and haunting, just below the surface of hearing.

Panting and giddy, my old joints picked up the sea swagger of afternoons spent out fishing with Grandpappy Paeter. Peter Piper, the neighbors taunted him, as he puffed a single, long note that called the children in for supper. Late afternoon in the fall, early evening in the summer. The vale set its pace by Grandpappy’s pipes.

“Bag pipes,” I pronounced to the pier, the nearly inaudible hum putting a smile on my lips.

It seemed years since I last smiled. Free of the constricting needles and tubes, my arms rose in delight, my gnarled fingers nimbly pantomiming the complex placement as Grandpappy taught me. I could see the piper now, shrouded in a hooded poncho. He was short and looked gracefully quick despite the hump beneath the poncho.

The music lingered in my head, a song of morning celebration, and I pranced forward to see my old Grandpappy.  But the Piper’s palm was empty, stretching between us from an impossible distance. And this wasn’t my Grandpappy. The ferryman’s face and hands were inked with indistinct designs in shades of indigo and blood, his eyes glowed orange.  There was no mistaking the pipes poking out the poncho and parting his long dark hair.

This was indeed the Piper at the end of the pier.

Perplexed and feeling slightly childish, I poked my hands into my pockets. And was amazed to find each held a round metallic object.

A recollection 70 years in my past pasted a grin back on my face.

“Six-pence for the ferryman,” Grandpappy had teased on the last truly happy day of my life.

He’d given me the quarters prior to my first date with Patsy Cullen. He was to be our chaperone, fancied himself more of a Paladin. He’d pledged to play a funeral dirge for the date, to mourn the loss of  his paramour’s carefree days of bachelorhood. I suspected he’d agreed to accompany us just to see the talkie version of Alice in Wonderland.

I passed the coins to the Piper, and jumped into the weather beaten rowboat. The years seemed to melt away as I rowed into a clear, warm day. White puffy clouds dotted an azure sky. A cool breeze lifted a tangle of dark hair from my forehead and ears. The sun was warm enough to slide the straps of my overalls off my shoulders and pull off my t-shirt.

I remembered this day.

Just ahead, Round Mound poked its greenery at the sky. Gulls swooped and dived for fish. The clouds floated just out of reach, and they all looked like Patsy Cullen with purple ribbons in her plaited hair. Tomorrow I would take her to a talkie, and then to ice cream. And perhaps she would reward me with a kiss.

But today was warm, the rocking boat put me in mind for a nap. I stretched out on the bench, bare toes tempting the fish just out of nibble range.  Grandpappy played “Going Home” on his bagpipes. It was not a lonely sound to me, as it was to others.

I was at peace in mind, body and soul.

If you'd like to see how other participants interpreted the theme PEACE AND LOVE, click here for the linky list and blogfest details.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

His turn to die and join his grandfather.
Not too anything, Donna. Just perfect.
And no Challenge for me this year. I've taken some time off, the first ever in an April.

Natalie Aguirre said...

This is great. It definitely kept my interest, and I loved all the details about his happy time with his grandfather and how that was weaved into the story.

Denise Covey said...

Clever modernisation of an ancient tale, Donna. Had me floating on the River Styx after paying the ferryman. Well done. Love it. A peaceful ending.

Thanks for posting for WEP, Donna. Great to have you!

Denise :-)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It had such a dream-like quality to it.

Nilanjana Bose said...

A charming and clever take on the prompt, a great retelling of the original Greek mythology. And I loved the allusion to Alice too.

Even though you are not participating in the A-Z, you did a brilliant job with the P words :) sprinkled liberally and thoughtfully in the post. Also loved the music, I adore bagpipes, plaintive and utterly mesmerising. Though that guy's fingers must be frozen playing in the snow like that.

Enjoyed your post much Donna. Total mood lifter.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - you've visited me thank you very much. This was a great read - the invisible piper, memories of your grandpa ... then the release from the tubes, the freeing of the arthritic hands ... and relax to join with so many other peaceful and loved souls ... being piped home ... cheers Hilary

Crystal Collier said...

I have to say, I'm loving this theme. Nothing like that final journey toward happiness, eh?

Pat Hatt said...

Great turn indeed. Can't go wrong with Greek mythology. Peace comes in many a way.

Olga Godim said...

The last journey, huh? I love this story. And you use so many P-words too. Great entry into this challenge.

Pat Garcia said...

Alfred Lord Tennyson said as he moved forward he was moving toward the light that would overtake him. As I read your submission I thought about what he said. Excellently written.

Shalom aleichem,

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

Exceptional writing, (Link:] "WILD THING" DONNA IN WONDERLAND!

~ D-FensDogG
@ (Link:] STMcC Presents 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS'

Elephant's Child said...

Not too anything. Lovely, whimsical, moving with snippets of quirky fun. And plenty to tug at almost buried memories.

Laurel Garver said...

Wonderful tale, and I especially enjoyed all the P alliteration you sprinkled throughout--a fun touch!

Nas said...

Awesome take on the prompt. I liked this story.

Yolanda Renée said...

You're one talented lady! This was beautiful, I was on the journey with him. You captured the mystery, memory, and peace so well! You're a trickster for sure! Love it!

Happy A to Z ing - you non - A to Z er! :)

farawayeyes said...

We're friends, right? So, of course I like you and your writing, right? But this piece, YIKES, I love it. All of those lovely alliterations, and the story itself, read Ike a beautiful dream. Maybe I'm just as well to not have entered this quarter. If there were a vote, I would have to vote for your story. An amazing and beautiful rendering of the theme 'Peace and Love'!

dolorah said...

Alex: No A-Z? Wow

Natalie: thank you

Denise: this was fun; thanks for the prompt :) I did love the poem on the site, it was inspiring.

L Diane: thanks; dreamy is what I was going for.

Nila: nice to see you :) I tried not to overwhelm with the P words, lol. Perhaps the snow was really confetti for the pipe Master? He is awesome.

Hilary: I did visit, lol. Loved your post today too.

Hey Crystal: this is how I imagine my own death. Peacefully going to sleep with a dream that never ends.

Pat: it sure does.

Thanks Olga: that picture was a lovely creation.

Ms Pat: that's quite a compliment. thank you

St Mac: Thanks for the link: I'll click it in a minute. Can't wait to listen to your battle.

Ele: was hoping for a bit of "quirky fun" lol.

Laurel: those P's wanted to take over, but I moderated them :)

Thanks Nas: wow, have not seen you in quite a while. This was a treat.

Yolanda: just call me Loci, lol :)

FAE: You didn't post for this? Oh bummer, I was so looking forward to your creative style. Thanks for the flattery.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Donna
Beautifully written. I loved the imagery. I was a little afraid for her with the scary description of the piper, but it turned out good in the end.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Wonderfully written tale. I loved the picture you paint here (like FAE said, very dreamlike), but more than that, I have to admit that I'm a sucker for good alliteration. And this alliteration was absolutely amazing. ;)

Unknown said...

I have to echo many of the other comments: that was wonderfully written.

From the surreal conversation with the clerk to the meeting with the piper and all the memories that were dredged to the surface, all leading to an ending that toes the line between happy and bittersweet. Wonderful is really the best word for it.

One minor niggle - by 'funeral dirth', I'm guessing you meant 'funeral dirge' :)

Sally said...

A very atmospheric tale, well written and evocative.

Laura Clipson said...

Such a beautifully written story.

D.G. Hudson said...

I liked this story which to me seems to be a journey of someone 'crossing over' to that other plane of existence to reach 'peace'. I like the pied piper with bagpipes, one of my favourite instruments. We have a local bagpipe band at one of the local colleges and they are magnificent (to me anyway) to listen to. A great interpretation of the prompt.

cleemckenzie said...

Loved the imagery and the story you wrapped it in.

dolorah said...

Nancy: had to have a little tension, lol.

Beers: thanks Dudes :)

Arpan: "toes the line," lol. Loved it. Uhm, yes, I did mean "dirge"

Sally: so lovely to see you here. I've missed your writings.

Thanks Laura

DG: I do love the bag pipes - in moderation. Not sure I've ever seen a bagpipe band. I'd go see them.

CLee: thank you

Nick Wilford said...

Quite a spiritual piece. Very emotional.

DEZMOND said...

some of those bagpipers are really hunky!

Michelle Wallace said...

The first word that popped into my mind - charming.
Second - perfect.
I love the alliteration - very clever and creative.
You nailed it, Donna!

J Lenni Dorner said...

An excellent story. A positive spin on passing on. You could probably turn this into a children's book and have decent sales.

Pat Garcia said...

Congratulations, Lady! Your submission was poignant and beautifully written.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat Garcia

Chrys Fey said...

Great images!

Blogger said...

Did you know you can shorten your links with AdFly and get money for every click on your shortened links.

Unknown said...

I've taken some time off, the first ever in an April.