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Tuesday, March 27, 2012
An Unsuspecting Community ......... excerpt
When I received the request from Carole McNamara Veilleux to assist in the promotion of her first novel it was my pleasure to offer to post her first chapter here on my blog. :-)
Thank you for agreeing to read my first chapter and offering to place it on your blog
At the end of end of the chapter I have the necessary information to the future readers how to contact me
AN UNSUSPECTING COMMUNITY
Karine stared at the antique hairclip on the dresser. For the sake of her aunt she tried hold it in her hand, but again she trembled What was once a beautiful family heirloom was now a constant reminder of that tragic evening and everything leading up to it. She breathed deeply. The day had finally come and would justice prevail? Ironically, today two of the women united by this series of tragedies would be separated by legality.
Matthew entered the bedroom. Taking his wife in his arms he stroked her shoulder length brown hair and ran his hands down her back, resting them on her slim waist. For the first time during their relationship, she appeared vulnerable and her mere five feet and less than one inch.
“It’s time to go,” he said lifting his arms from her.
Taking her hand he led her to the car in silence.
“Strange,” he said as he slid behind the steering wheel, “We didn’t even know each other
when this all began.”
One always tries to trace back to where the first domino was dropped.: how one’s simple safe behaviours can become a part of something not so safe and simple.
Fingers typed on laptops; heads moved in rhythm to music; hands clicked knitting needles. People glanced up from books and newspapers, nodding in acknowledgement. Conversations developed periodically, at times leading to friendship, even love. There was a sense of familiarity and security within this mobile community. The 54 was frequently taken by the residents of two neighbouring Canadian cities.
When it was not necessary to drive his truck Stephen liked to take the bus as he could relax and enjoy the scenery. He noticed Karine two seats ahead of him and was taken by her appearance. His observations were interrupted when other passengers got on the bus. He smiled at a woman whom he had seen several times before.
“W- would you care to sit down?” he stuttered.
“No, thank you, I’ll be sitting down all morning, playing bridge.”
“Th- that’s an excellent game.”
“Only with my aunts and uncles. I st-stutter and that can be annoying to the others.
“Don’t be shy because of that.
“I’ll think about that.”
“What are you doing this morning?”
“I- I'm going to visit my aunt and uncle. Tomorrow I have a job installing cabinets.”
“Oh, you’re a carpenter.”
“Sort of. No ma-major construction jobs just some minor to medium renovations, I al-
also do snow removal in the winter and lawn care in the summer” then gazing once again toward Karine
Karine sat quietly, occasionally, glancing in different directions and observing the expressions on the faces of the passengers: the eyes were always a tell-tale sign of internal conversation. She noticed a handsome thirty-something man, who was obviously troubled. What might be the cause?.
Knowing that he could not own a vehicle in the near future, this bus ride was an exercise in adaptation. David had no particular destination. Having just re-entered the 'outside'; he was adjusting to the many changes in his life. Unfortunately, he had not become aware of his former girlfriend’s compulsive shopping habits until it was too late. After she had maxed out the joint credit card there were no alternatives to bankruptcy and hence to the loss of his welding business. The results of this loss were depression and alcoholism, which led to a six-month stay at the Mason Clinic. He would still attend therapy.
A woman holding a newspaper took the seat beside Karine. Headlines never seemed to go unnoticed by the person beside the reader.
“Excuse me, at first I merely noticed a few headlines, “her pronunciation of headlines revealing her French Canadians roots,“ but I just saw that a prostitute has been found dead--
“Another one,” the woman responded. She had an unusual accent. “That’s the second one
in the last three weeks.”
“This is what happens in the sex trade. Sometimes nothing for a long time, and then there
are several deaths in a short period.”
“It says she was thirty-three years old. She had apparently been beaten. The police are
withholding the name until her family has been notified.”
The conversation seemed to have attracted the attention of other passengers.
“A real tragedy for her family; unfortunately the police don’t seem to investigate these
deaths as thoroughly as those of other women.”
“Sad but true. In a situation like this it might be difficult to convict the killer. The sperm
of several men would probably be found, even DNA could be dismissed as circumstantial
“I never thought of that; that's an interesting, but sad fact,” commented Karine.
“I’ve finished reading and get off at the next stop —”
“Thank you,” Karine said, accepting the paper.
Having already discussed the story of interest, she only wanted the paper for the lighter
side of the comics. Humour in English was often subtle. Sometimes when she went to
movies, she experienced delayed reactions to jokes: which was embarrassing.
Karine removed her hairclip and sat it down on the newspaper beside her. She then began
adjusting her hair.
“Don’t look at me. I’m not for sale!” Allison exclaimed, attracting some attention.
Karine turned around and watched her momentarily; a man looked up from his work; David chuckled for the first time in months. He looked more closely at Allison, thinking she was quite attractive despite having the mind of a child. She was casually dressed, but clean, her hair tied in a ponytail.
“That’s Allison,” Stephen said to the woman, “We talk periodically. She has her good days and bad days — like my speech. Hey, I just got through a few sentences. I-I know she has so some sort of disorder. She just needs a little understanding.”
She nodded, “My stop is next.”
“I h have a few to go. I’m Stephen, by the way -- Stephen Clark”
“Linda Stark,” she responded with a smile.
Suddenly realizing it was her stop, Karine rushed toward the back door leaving her
Passengers ascended and descended, and the seat once holding the hairclip was now
Allison grew silent, looking straight ahead as if focusing upon a target. She checked to see that her knapsack was attached securely; it contained her two most prized possessions: a first-aid kit and the baseball she had received from her great uncle. The bus stopped. With the rhythm of a marching soldier she trudged through the familiar neighbourhood. As usual, she paused for a moment before the neighbourhood hospital and envisioned caring for the sick. She continued on to her other special location. As the doors opened she beamed with excitement. She knew what many people thought — among other things, that she was probably illiterate— if only they knew the whole story. She began her search for information. Her two favourite places in the library were the medical section and the language lab.
David sauntered through the neighbourhood looking at various buildings. This was a
commercial area, with health clubs, restaurants, and many boutiques. He had never liked
boutiques. Quality often was not exceptional and similar clothing could be found in warehouse-style shops. People paid not for the clothes, but for popular labels and to be dressed and hypocritically complimented by the salespeople. David guessed that this attention gave them a sense of importance. He was a working man who wore jeans and plain shirts purchased at factory outlets. He liked to wear his suit occasionally to a fancy restaurant, and he liked a woman to be well-dressed, but there was a limit. His business, which took five years to build, had been destroyed in five months of common-law and compulsive shopping.
While searching for a restaurant that would be within his budget, David saw the sign "Greg’s" and entered the quaint place.
“Hello Sir, you may choose your table,” the waitress said in a welcoming tone.
“Thank you,” David responded. “If you serve a club I won’t need a menu.”
“Anything to drink?”
The thought of a woman bringing him his food was always pleasurable. He would miss that. Sonia had always been a good servant: she had been a spotless housekeeper and an excellent cook. She had loved to go grocery shopping, but unfortunately her love of shopping had not stopped there.
He smiled as Lise brought his lunch. He tasted the first bite of the sandwich; it was
delicious. The atmosphere was relaxing, unlike that in a fast food restaurant.
When his plate was empty the waitress approached him once again. “Would you care for
some dessert? We have some great homemade blueberry pie.”
“Why not?” he replied.
“You’re entitled to a free refill.”
“No thanks, one cup is enough.”
As he waited for his pie, David looked around and discovered that the restaurant was now empty. He sighed, thinking that the others had returned to work, and he was now part of the system he had once criticized.
Allison felt the dry brown leaves crunching under her feet; she inhaled the cool air. After the hot and humid temperatures of this Canadian summer, the late fall seemed colder than winter. Unfortunately she had been asked to leave the library shortly after she had gotten there. A man at her table began strumming his fingers and she was infected by his actions -- she began strumming in sync with the man, and this led to a full percussion solo. She knew she should only go to the library on certain days but her quest for knowledge was like an addiction. She had been walking in the park for an hour and a half. The physical activity was good for her mental health, but that alone was not enough.
There was one place she could always go.
“Hello Allison,” the sister welcomed her into the mission.
“Hello Sister. I know I’m a little early.”
“I imagine you just need a little warmth.”
“Yes. I that’s all I ever need from you. Would you let me light a candle?”
“Certainly. How about a cup of hot chocolate?”
“Lovely. It’s not easy, Sister. If I stay in my apartment I become depressed. But I can’t be
outside all day. I do spend a great deal of time in the library when I can”
“I appreciate your contact.”
“We want to act the way Jesus would.”
Allison bid goodbye to the sisters — although she had nowhere to go but home, she did not want to abuse their kindness.
“Excuse me sir, have you finished reading that newspaper?” Allison asked a man at the bus stop.
“Yes,” just pass it on to someone else when you’re finished.
She was immediately drawn to the story of the prostitute.
“Miss, the bus is coming”
“Oh thanks,” closing the newspaper.
This was a time of day Allison disliked going home, as afternoon television was not worth watching. Soap operas were something unbelievable, and she considered watching them to be mental masturbation. Occasionally, during a blizzard or when the temperature dropped below minus twenty-five, she would turn one on. She was aware that no unemployed person was immune to the soap opera syndrome. Life was a paradox — on one side people were losing their grip on reality because they could not make a living, but on the other side actors were making a living, losing a grip on reality.
Allison's and Stephen's faces met in a mutual nod. She had always felt a sense of security through Stephen’s presence. Seeing the newspaper in her hand, he knew not to disturb her. Sometimes she wished she could stay on the bus all day and night and avoid returning to her neighbourhood.
Allison entered her tiny apartment. She had to focus on needs and budget, rather than
style, and it was somewhat drab. She kept only one picture of her immediate family [SC1]in the drawer of her dresser. It had been a difficult relationship, and although she had experienced neither abuse nor neglect, she had often felt the gnawing pain of indifference. She was always longing for the positive reinforcement that was given to her brother[SC2] Joe. During the past year there were periodic exchanges of short notes expressing little more than acknowledgement of each other’s existence. Allison, however, did keep several pictures of her Great Uncle Jack. Although he was her mother’s uncle Allison grew closer to him than anyone in her family. He was a man of many talents. Unfortunately his dream of becoming a doctor was shattered after his father’s death and he took over the family farm. After careful consideration, Allison’s parents agreed to move onto the farmland when she was very young.
Uncle Jack was aware that Allison was different from many children, but he had always focused on what she could do rather than what she could not He knew that she was not mentally slow — just that something was not quite right. While her mother had only taught her to clean and to cook, he had always been patient and had taken time to guide her through many tasks of farm life
Uncle Jack had always wanted to pass on the Ukrainian language and culture, but unfortunately his siblings saw no use for it in Canada. When Allison was a little girl she would go for walks with Uncle Jack and he would tell her stories about their family tree. During these walks she would constantly ask “What’s that in Ukrainian.On her twelfth birthday her mother reluctantly agreed to let Uncle Jack take her to see some Ukrainian dancers. Uncle Jack began speaking to them and Alison listened attentively and soon began engaging in the conversation. She told the dancers that she had a wonderful teacher..
She poured herself a glass of juice and sat down in her rocking chair. She opened up the knitting basket — it was the sisters who had given her this and had taught her to knit. Allison smiled, knowing she would complete the toque and scarf that evening, and knowing also for whom it would provide warmth and comfort.
David awoke at . After completing a workout of various martial arts movements, he showered ate breakfast and then turned on the television. Having worked very hard and paid taxes for ten years, he had earned his disability insurance and the right to do nothing for a while. Taking the basement apartment permitted him to afford cable. He could not understand the purpose of reality television, yet it attracted his attention: extreme makeovers of obesity and infidelity. As far as he knew Sonia had never cheated. She had a good body and had always satisfied him sexually He stared viciously at the one remaining photo of Sonia. This was his voodoo doll.
“Your time will come. You took away my life, you bitch!” realizing he had spoken out
He wondered what unemployed people did to pass their day and decided he should go out
instead of just lazing in front of the television
The 54 arrived on schedule. Allison knew today she was free to spend the entire day in
the library. She felt invincible on days like this.Knowledge was power! She ascended
the bus and sat down beside an elderly woman who was knitting.
“That’s a fun hobby,” said Allison.
“You knit too?”
“Yes Ma’am, and, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you are of Ukrainian origin.”
To the woman’s surprise Allison began speaking in Ukrainian…
When David got on the bus he saw her again. Contrary to his predictions of strange comments and entertaining incidents, Allison was calm and was speaking a foreign language. Seized by this enigma he decided to follow her. He was surprised to see her enter the library and was astonished when she stopped at the medical section. Looking around, he experienced a true sense of peace and tranquility. People spoke just above a whisper, and no cell phones could be heard. He took a book from the fiction shelf and then carefully chose his seat so that Allison would pass him on her way out. He started to read and was soon engulfed.
Finally, after two hours of studying, Allison rose and donned her coat and gloves. David followed her to the nearby park; there he walked, periodically changing directions in an effort to remain inconspicuous. He was aware of her brisk pace and concluded she was physically fit. He was curious as to why she squeezed a baseball. As she moved toward the mission he followed her, but he stopped before a health club. He peered through the window of the health club while eating his lunch. He was pleasured by the sight of fit well- sculpted women and amused by the sight of fat, awkward ones.
Allison later returned to the library for her second session of informal studies. This time
David found her in the language lab. Influenced by her actions, he sat down in one of the booths; the musical sound of Spanish brought a smile to his face. He changed places periodically, but she did not move until the sun set. David could not believe her mental endurance. He planned to continue his investigation of this mysterious female creature.
The air was cold and crisp and Allison felt the first flakes of melting snow fall upon her shoulders. She walked through her neighbourhood in the darkness. It was considered to be a shady one. Crimes, however, were committed mainly among people of two basic categories. Possibly she had developed a false sense of security, but she never felt threatened — the johns never approached her for sex, and the drug addicts knew she had no money to steal. She thought of the prostitute who had been killed recently. Sadly, such a death was quickly known, but soon forgotten. There was one prostitute whom she acknowledged. Their brief encounters of sincere "Hi how are you," were beneficial and neither woman felt judged. There was a common bond between them of having never made love to a man and of oblivion.
“Hello,” Allison said, “I was beginning to wonder about you.”
“You were thinking about me?”
“Yes, the streets are a minefield. At least lessen the danger,” she handed a box of
condoms to the woman. “And these are to keep you warm. I knitted them myself.”
“Are you for real?” placing the toque upon her head and the scarf around her neck.
“Some people wonder.”
“What’s your name?” the woman asked with a chuckle.
“Try to be careful, Gina,” Allison was happy to finally place a name to this woman
Knowing the prostitutes’ humiliation brought David satisfaction: these women represented the female population and therefore represented Sonia. He surmised that Allison was a do-gooder and not part of the sex trade. He felt no hostility toward her. He walked back to the bus stop, anticipating other interesting situations.
After her encounter with Gina, Allison relaxed in her rocking chair, watching television
and eating Skittles. She was pleasantly surprised to see that The Hours was being shown.
She had wanted to see this film since it was first released. Every generation had its
Carole McNamara Veilleux
This novel is copyrighted , but not yet published.The rest of the story may be obtained via email for a token donation of one dollar.Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org