Oh oh, oh no, oh my!

Tout de Suite

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite
sixty quick stories by Janet Ference

the author wishes to offer lifelong love and laughs to her first reader, Jake

Copyright © 2011 Janet Ference

www.janetference.com www.bluefernpress.com www.twitter.com/bluefernpress www.scribd.com/bluefernpress/shelf
Blue Fern Press San Francisco, California

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

Once upon a time, there was a girl, a girl, a guy, and God. This was in Topeka. One had eggs, one had sperm, and one had a baby. God smiled. ***** Her hair, red as Georgia clay, hung longer than her blue polka-dot shorts. Ed stared and gave it thought, but damned if he didn't turn away. ***** Jonquil song slowed Ann’s step. The tiny trumpets heralded God’s grace in a mighty jazz unlikely for their size. Ann forgot she was afraid. ***** He said, “Yes.” She said, “Why?” He said, “Why?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “No?” She said, “Right.” Then they kissed and said, “Good night.” ***** Pelted by winter rain, a man huddled at a bus stop. He wildly chanted a Hail Mary. He didn’t board the bus. Seven people watched him remain. ***** The dog was the first to notice Myra’s husband had turned to salt. Myra shut down the computer, closed the door, and went on about her day. *****

Page 1

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

They lived in the T-bird for two years. When Mama got locked up for stealing lipstick, Missy got snatched by the State. Then life got hard. ***** Sea foam rippled in on a slow tide, sketching a lacy ruffle across the bay. The women watched it drift. It quieted one, but not the other. ***** “What kind of ducks?” Hank asked. Millie glared. It wasn’t about the ducks. Hank said, “This is the one about your Dad in the duck blind.” ***** Because she was tired, she had no patience. Because he was rushed, he had no remorse. Because they had three children, they had a marriage. ***** For a year he had balls and no name. Then he was fixed and called Rex. His bichon hair grew back. Now he’s called Bébé. This is a rescue. ***** Vic wore black shoes. Kay wore white gloves. He was told to extend his hand. She was told to take it. That was 1964. They’re still waltzing. *****

Page 2

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

New to the city, sitting outside at a café, Amy tried her most mysterious smiles. She didn’t yet know she should pretend to read or write. ***** The hospital chaplain was weary that day. The post-op patient was in pain. They listened to one another pray, and both were graced by this. ***** The easy chair was black vinyl with white piping. The silent woman sat upright in it, uneasy, unyielding. Ed hated delivering death notices. ***** “Wing nut, toggle bolt, screw, or nail?” his Pop asked. Six-year-old Bill considered the options. He picked up a hinge, and said, “This.” ***** The kind young nurse offered chicken broth or beef broth. Joan appreciated having a choice. God hadn’t given her any choice. She had cancer. ***** Carl sat by the twilit creek, watching inky waters yawn lazily toward the bay. Coots dared to glide by him. Tito, his terrier, stopped that. *****

Page 3

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

I think of her pine tree. I remember a tall one. Is it bowing under this blizzard, as I bowed when she asked me to leave? ***** Alice has just donated a kidney to her husband. Before she can blink free of the morphine, her friend says, “Hope he won’t leave you now.” ***** A sparrow, trapped in an art gallery, was darting at windows. Jean stepped forward, cupped her hands, and caught it. They were both shocked. ***** A man sat motionless, staring at only the shadows of trees on a wall. He was given oils. He painted, by heart, trees truly alive and green. ***** “It’s okay to pray angry,” the priest said. Maria considered it. Hands steepled, she spit, “Screw you!” The priest said, “You can also cry.” ***** He cycled with one hand, holding two coffees. She drove with two hands, wearing one bluetooth. After, no one got latte, and no one got laid. *****

Page 4

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

A young couple stops at the corner, gazing at the San Francisco skyline. Ellen and Bill kissed at that corner. This couple snaps a picture. ***** They were married by an insurance salesman. She wore red hot pants. There are no pictures, except those their eyes have shared for 38 years. ***** He gave her an orchid, not a flower, a plant. Something meant to last, he said. It died within a month, but they lived happily ever after. ***** The chest was too tall. The top drawer was Ada’s. When Ada left home, Bea climbed up to open it. She found Ada had left her a lilac sachet. ***** Bette woke just as sunset blackened the desert sky. Then she dipped her hands in bright acrylics to fingerpaint red-gold truth by moonlight. ***** This one’s for Tom: 1. There’s a boy. 2. There’s a gun. 3. The boy’s dead. 4. What killed him? 1. There’s a boy. 2. There’s a gun. *****

Page 5

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

A breeding-age female elephant appeared on the railroad tracks between NYC and Philly. They said she came from heaven. They sent her to LA. ***** Plums bloomed, rouging the trees, before Lent. Cherry trees blushed before Easter. It was wrong, like everything else in San Francisco. ***** Beth asked if red always meant stop, even in China. Her husband sat through the green light, stumped. When they were rear-ended, they sued. ***** In Iowa, Deb’s chihuahua-dachshund mutt would follow her in the snow to pee and poop in her tracks. Deb moved clear to Florida for that dog. ***** Ben got over the dirty skillet in her sink, but when he spotted a dusty Emily D pressed close to a Murakami on her bookshelf, he had to go. ***** Vivian had an old oak cut down. The doves protested. She put up a feeder. It brought rats. She put out poison. That’s what killed the cat. *****

Page 6

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

Snow didn’t fall that day in San Francisco. Buck’s son didn’t come to his deathbed. Buck was disappointed. He had hoped to skate that day. ***** Stephanie had red hair and brown eyes. That was very special, her Mom often said, unique genes. Once her Mom died, Stephanie let it go gray. ***** She wore cherry plaid socks. He’d never seen such socks. She asked why he stared at her ankles. He said, “I don’t dare stare at your eyes.” ***** Zoe thinks tweet is something only birds do. Her brother, Jon, thinks birds live only in cages. At breakfast, they speak only of their eggs. ***** When Juliet prays, she hears flowers opening. Now they are purple irises. Each petal scarcely crinkles as it curls free from its hushed bud. ***** The night 1,693 blackbirds fell from the sky, Jess was running. They pummelled her, splat-splat-splat. She shrieked because they couldn’t. *****

Page 7

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

Yellow curly willow leaves were swizzling down through the white mist morning. The foghorn was bellowing. That’s all she could see or hear. ***** “Are you writing again?” he whined. Jill raised her pen half an inch from the page, but she didn’t raise her eyes. She said simply, “Yes.” ***** Though the cow didn't jump over the moon, the dog did jump over the cow pie, while the field mouse did jump into the dung. So, all's well. ***** The dog’s name is Li’l. He’s a god-awful ugly pit bull. But when the water rose, he punched and tore a hole in the roof to get us both free. ***** The red light over her door was good for the clematis. There was nothing to the rumors. But in its day, my, how that pink clematis thrived. ***** Ann wore a paisley swirl of purple and black. Eva brought wine, not tea. Ann was bereaved, so Eva poured. Neither spoke of the dead poodle. *****

Page 8

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

The palm tree had grown a beard, as untended palm trees will do. Pop didn't know he'd often climbed it to trim it. Today he didn't know me. ***** “Can you come up?” she called. “Can’t you come down?” Bo hollered. He was turning a table leg on his lathe, so he didn’t hear her leave him. ***** Meg ran faster under blue skies. She ran alone. Chatter and fog annoyed her. If the mutt next door matched her gait, though, that was okay. ***** “Flibbertigibbets,” she called us, in a sing-song. When the old bird was croaking, all us kids chirped it at her window, “Flibbertigibbets!” ***** His mother’s brown shag carpet had faded into light tan splotches while her fair skin aged into darker spots. This hadn’t happened in a day. ***** Clackety-clack in ten-inch heels, Lily dashed into the station. She felt the eyes of a dozen men, but none were his eyes. He was dead still. *****

Page 9

Oh oh, Oh no, Oh my! Tout de Suite

Janet Ference

Fritz had a shaggy dog. One day the dog ate his homework. When he told his teacher, she laughed at him. That’s the day Fritz learned to lie. ***** The paint chip said cerulean blue. Years later, when her husband died, Marge looked it up. He was right. That wasn’t heaven. Just sky. ***** No day at the beach. No night on the town. Coffee, cookies and a mediocre quickie with a stranger. At least they didn't wake their baby. ***** The scrapbook had swollen to bursting. Water and paper make pulp. Adding mud and sand in a thick paste makes Kodachrome fossils in clay. ***** “Got a buck?” says the beggar. “Tell him no, dear,” says the wife. “Here you go, buddy,” says the husband, smiling under his cocked fedora. ***** Em packed pantyhose, pumps and lunch, but her snowy hour commute east became 2,000 miles west to a place where ruby camellias were blooming. ***** Le Fin

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