The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:38 am Thursday, October 24, 2019

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By N.R. Tucker

With Halloween approaching, I was asked, “What superstitions do you believe in?” My initial response was, “None. What have I to fear from black cats, evil eyes, and such? Not walking under a ladder is more self-preservation than bad luck, as there is a danger of something falling if a worker is on the ladder.” Later, I considered my answer.

As a child, I never told anyone my birthday wish. If I did, it wouldn’t come true, and I wished for the same thing every year. Even though I never spoke those wishes aloud, I never received a horse of my very own, although my brother won a pony one year.

Sometimes I won’t mention a writing project, for fear of jinxing it, and I have knocked on wood after expressing a hope or dream. That’s a superstition from the pagan belief in dryads who lived in oak trees and from the Greeks who touched an oak tree to call on Zeus for protection.

Who doesn’t respond to a sneeze with bless you? Although sources vary on the origins, the purpose of the blessing was to protect against pestilence or plagues for which there was no cure. Later, the blessing became a protection for the soul as expulsion of air from a sneeze made the person vulnerable to becoming possessed by an evil spirit. Now the phrase is a common courtesy.

As I welcome the goblins, ghosts, and other creatures of the night this Halloween, I much admit I do have a few superstitions.

“Mystery Solved”

By David R. Moore

With tears in her eyes, Mary looked at her living room again.  A mixture of frustration and anxiety was overwhelming her.   She calmed herself by counting down from 10.  She wiped her eyes and reached deep inside herself to pull out some confidence.

Once more Mary searched the sofa, the chairs, the bookcases, the curio cabinet, the lamp tables, and the television cabinet in a systematic fashion.  She was positive she had seen it in the living room with her grandkids earlier that afternoon.  Thinking that one of the grandkids may have stuck it in a drawer, she combed through all the drawers again, but did not find it.

A buzzer from the kitchen sounded and reminded her to attend to her cooking. She lifted the lid off the pot, stirred the contents, and smelled the rich aroma of her homemade vegetable soup that simmered on the stove.  After taking a few sips of the hot soup, she was satisfied with the taste.  She replaced the lid and remembered to turn off the heat.  Mary glanced at the clock.  The timing was perfect as her husband would soon arrive home from work.

A surge of anxiety engulfed her when she recalled her search was not completed.  She did another hunt of the kitchen, the bathroom, and the bedroom knowing those rooms had already been checked several times.  She also explored the guest bedroom and her husband’s office even though those rooms were not used by her or the grandkids.  She emptied her purse again to the same disappointing result.

Her husband found her sitting at the kitchen table with tears in her eyes.  Feeling ashamed, Mary nodded when he asked her if it happened again.  He put his arms around her and held her for a long time.  Tears swelled in his eyes as he remembered how it progressed.  At first, her memory failed on the small things that everybody of a certain age can relate.  Over the last few months the memory lapses increased and now are beginning to disrupt her daily life activities.  The family was struggling to adjust to Mary’s changing condition.

Her husband pulled out his cellphone and dialed.  A ring tone emanated from the refrigerator.  Her phone sat on a shelf below the area that she had cleared that afternoon for the expected left over soup.  “Mystery solved,” he told her as he embraced her again.

“Suddenly Lost”

By Kevin F. Wishon

Recently on a trip with a friend, we missed a road required to reach our destination. Immediately, the mobile GPS assistant began barking out new routing directions. The assistant sounded annoyed and demanding. Maybe it was my imagination. But after another stern command, I was tempted to say, “Relax. Not so long ago, when we used maps, this was a frequent mishap, and we survived.” Several minutes later, we arrived without further incident. We even laughed about missing the turn, which occurred because of our enthusiastic chatting.

     Before reliable Internet maps and GPS, multi-fold maps and directions given over the telephone were standard procedure before traveling to unfamiliar places. It wasn’t perfect, but we still found our way there. Over time, I developed a good sense of direction and had confidence in my ability to navigate. Then, I had my experience in Texas.

     After arriving in Dallas on a work-related trip, I began to familiarize myself with all the major highways and roads. Within a week, I was driving a company truck transporting myself in and out of Eastern Dallas daily. Work encompassed the majority of my time there, so my coworkers felt I needed some entertainment. They recommended a new type of theater called IMAX, which had recently opened in a museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Later that evening, after a phone call for directions, I set out for Fort Worth on I-30 that connects the two cities.

     Just as my coworkers promised, the theater did not disappoint, and I left that evening thrilled by the experience. Reaching the interstate, I turned the company truck back towards Dallas and relaxed. When I consciously surfaced, still on the interstate, I had no idea of how much time had passed. Worse, I did not recognize any of the exit signs or approaching community names. My heart began to race. I felt panic when I realized that the overhead highway lights were no longer present. It was dark. I couldn’t see the glow of a city anywhere around me. After two more miles of reading signs and not seeing anything familiar, I asked aloud, “Where am I?”

     I eventually stopped and asked for directions to Dallas. The gas station attendant seemed amused and explained I was near Dallas. Unamused, I found my way back to the hotel that night. Something unusual had occurred, and I didn’t know what it was. Later, after describing the experience to a few people, I was told I had experienced “road hypnosis.” The repeating pattern of reflective lane lines and the straight highway between Dallas and Fort Worth triggered this phenomenon. The lost feeling and unease created by my brief mental lapse gave me a fright I hope never to experience again.

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