How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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#BlogBattle 8 – Prompt: Melody

Find the Rules at Rachael Ritchie’s blog: http://wp.me/p7rsge-cB

Genre:  Historical Fiction/Western

Prompt:  Melody

Words: 750

The Best of the Best

Bob’s tea cooled on the table beside him. “I bet there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t heard of you. Your husband must be proud.” The young reporter slid to the edge of the armchair. He had not been keeping regular notes. Perspiration beaded his forehead though the temperature wasn’t hot. He drew out an overlarge cloth hankie out of his breast pocket.

Sixty-five-year-old Annie pursed her lips. Hair, like a fluffy cloud, she patted her husband’s hand on the patterned horsehair sofa between them. “Young man, I earned a living doing what I do best. It’s how I met my Frank.” She smiled over her shoulder for a long moment, then switched her attention to the eager visitor.

Bob stuffed the damp hanky into his pants pocket.“But you were a woman. The best sharpshooter ever. How’d you do that?” Pencil in one hand and small writing pad in the other, he waved them around.

“Practice.” She held his gaze. “How’d you learn to read and write?” Her tone signaled he had overstepped.

Coarse blond brows squished together, he pressed back into the chair. “How’d you learn to read and write?” he repeated after her.

horseb-2062043_960_720-pixabayShe muttered to herself, but the reporter, absorbed, did not understand. “This generation…” She shook her head. Her husband’s laugh sounded like a bark.

“How old were you when you started practicing. I mean how many years did it take to get good, you know?”

“We were poor and had a lot of mouths to feed. Hunting with my father, I trapped small animals for food from the age of five. He died when I was six and by seven or eight, I used his old rifle to hunt. I was good from the start. Natural-like. Mother didn’t like it, but I learned to shoot a variety of guns. I helped feed our household of five siblings and hunted enough game to sell to the grocer.” Annie clasped hands to her chin. “It was hard times. Mother married again but her new husband died soon after and left her with a new baby—another mouth to feed.”

“You were a tomboy with all that hunting, I bet…”

“We were Quakers. I never wore pants like a boy and didn’t climb trees for fun. After supper, we gathered around Mother singing hymns. One melody stayed with me all these years, though I no longer remember the words. By ten I was sent to live at an orphanage. In exchange for work, I received a basic education and learned to sew. The Edingtons were good to me.” Annie closed her eyes and leaned back into the sofa.

“But when did you join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show?”

“Mr. Stannard, is it? You are impatient. Some years after I met Ducky, here.” She tipped a shoulder toward Frank. “Do you know how we met? A hotel owner invited me to a shooting contest with the Frank Butler. I was fifteen—and I beat him! And everyone else.” Face aglow, she giggled like a young woman.

“I didn’t mind.” Frank cleared his throat. “Once I laid eyes on that pretty girl, I was lost. Sure better than me.”

“A year later, we married. Been together almost half-a-century. We traveled everywhere: Spain, Italy, and Paris; even to England to perform for Queen Victoria. We still ate a lot of beans.” Annie arched her back and bent forward as if to stand. Her husband, older by ten years, helped her to her feet.

“Wait, are you leaving? I still have many questions…”

annie-oakley-391456_960_720-pixabay“About twenty-five years ago—in 1901 was it? We were in a train wreck. Annie suffered a spinal injury, which paralyzed her for a long while. She had many operations but came back, shooting and performing. The last few years her health has deteriorated. She’s frail and tired.”

“You starred in movies, too, didn’t you?”

Frank gave the reporter a long look, his wife supported in the crook of his elbow. “My wife is not well. Perhaps another time? See yourself out. Good day.” He whisked Annie out of the room.

Bob Stannard remained glued to his chair, blinking. With narrowed eyes, he gaped at the paper and pencil in his hands. Two words stared back at him: Annie Oakley. He grinned. No notes, but he had met the best sharpshooter in the Old West. She doesn’t look so old. Her skin is smooth as a baby’s. I’m coming back.

The screen door slammed on his way out. “Oops, Sorry.”

The End

© 2017 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles

Images courtesy of Pixabay

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Gander

Drizzle again on the agenda, we bused for about an hour-and-a-half to the sounds of an easy-listening CD. In Gander, I spotted a child on the sidewalk with a white and brown Shetland pony. A rope around the pony’s neck, the child turned round and round, allowing the pony to run in a circle. Both were cute. I’ve never before seen a pony this tiny.

At Gander Airport, Francis regaled us with stories while we crowded around. On our way to the upper level, we stopped at a framed collage of stars who have passed through over the years.

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The view from the upper level provided a full, though distant view of this famous mural.

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In 1985, soldiers returning home for Christmas from Afghanistan crashed in Gander. The deadliest crash since WWII, 253 lives were lost.

On September 11, 2001, 39 planes landed in Gander (Operation Yellow Ribbon). Passengers were not allowed off the planes for 13 hours, information about the New York tragedy withheld until they deplaned. An American journalist, Jim DeFede, contacted and interviewed about 180 people from those flights and published a book.  (The Day the World Came to Town).

  • The population of Gander 10,000
  • 6,600 (passengers, pilots and crews)
  • Lewisporte took 800 passengers
  • Mayor of Gander talked with all the passengers
  • Walmart, Canadian Tire, drug stores—every store—supplied whatever was needed at no cost
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJskIhGbDq4
  • All toiletries / everything gone from all shelves
  • 87-year-old woman needed underwear, clerk suggested thongs
  • Hundreds of thousands of meals prepared
  • Passengers organized together with their own group
  • Returning from Lewisporte to Gander and home, one Nigerian missing. Gone fishing with ‘the boys.’ Comes back every year
  • Shirley Brooks-Jones collected money from the passengers on her flight home
  • Set up a scholarship fund for the school where passengers had been housed and fed
  • Fund is 1.3 million dollars
  • Took out $850,000 life insurance policy in the event of her death to fund it

Gander Quick Facts

  • The Gander Airport mural (72 feet long) embodies the history of air travel.
  • No aircraft illustration were allowed to be used in the work
  • Opened in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth
  • Talk of a new airport, but this one is still busy
  • When planes fogged in in St. John’s, they land in Gander
  • You can at least drive 4-1/2 drive to St. John’s if need be
  • Was no direct flight to Europe from Gander. Now there is.
  • Had to go to Toronto first instead
  • Population over 11,000
  • Cubans defected to Canada, using Gander as jumping off point to Florida, to join their families

Close off the parking lot to airport, we spied an Irving gas station. Needing to replenish our spirits, Mary ran ahead so we wouldn’t hold up the bus but returned immediately because they didn’t carry anything stronger than coffee.

On the way to the hotel we passed a golf course, which is split, half on one side and half on the other. Players use golf carts underneath the highway to cross over. Terra Nova Park was on our agenda, but it was not mentioned and we did not stop.

Our room had a balcony we would not have the opportunity to use. The dining room in the restaurant had extra low lighting. When we paid for our meals, the cashier had no change for the couple before us and then not for us either. Each time she wandered off and was gone an unusual length of time.

By ten, I was a goner. I plugged in electronics to recharge overnight and slept like the dead until the alarm went off.

* * *

On The Light Side:

An 85-year-old man, in a red Ferrari, was stopped by a policeman who had ten minutes left in his shift. “Give me a good reason why you were speeding.”

“About 20 years ago, my wife ran off with a cop. I thought you were him.”

The cop let him go.

Next on June 3rd – Trinity and Port Union

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #163

Click below to join:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week163/

The prompt this week is …freedom… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

SEVEN Little LETTERS

“Let me explain—”

The uniform’s hand flew up. “Silence. Passport.” Crisp pages snapped between thickened fingers.

“Boris, see about the bag.” Uniform trousers swept past Mike. Slam.

“It’s a mistake.”

“Quiet.” The scarred fist smacked the desk; the chair creaked. “Travelling alone?”

“No. Yes. What’s this about?”

“I ask questions. Not you.”

“What about freedom of speech?”

The desk giant threw back his head and roared. “Your country maybe. This my country.” His mustard yellow teeth retreated.

“My mother—”

“What?”

“Sick…help her come home.”

Boris returned; they conferred.

“You have freedom visit my jail.”

“Lawyer—?”

“Boris fine lawyer.”

 

© 2015 All Right Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles