No Longer, April 14, 2023


This Show Case features seven pieces submitted in response to our fortieth Writing Prompt: No Longer. You can see responses to each prompt in the drop down menu for the Show Case page. Try an item. They are all delicious. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt, which you can find on the Show Case home page.

And please share this Show Case with your family, friends, and other writers.


Take it away, Zero!

by Mimi Speike

The Great Hall at Barn Elms is not so very great as Great Halls go, but is large enough for a good-sized assembly nonetheless. In earlier times the manse had been in the ownership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and then of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s Cathedral, until Henry VIII’s rift with Rome put an end to bucolic retreats from the stinks and contagions of the London summer for religious bigwigs.

When you walk in the main entrance, ahead of you against the far wall stands a two-sided curvilinear staircase with a large landing, which connects to a balcony running the length of the room. On the upper floor are a withdrawing room (what we call a living room), and suites and single bedrooms large and small, occupied by family members and the never-ending stream of guests. 

Between mirror-image staircases a small stage is set up, on which a virginal1 is installed for the use of any adept on the instrument and of a mind to advertise it. Currently occupying the site are John Dee, Rose, a cat wearing a lace collar and a brilliantly-hued cumberbund, and a hen and a young girl, also amusingly attired. A crowd is gathering, whispering, wondering — What’s up here? This will not be Doctor Dee’s standard masterful but predictable performance. 

Dee, having fiddled an easy melody allowing Rose to frolic on her instrument, follows with a more complex selection. Intimidated, the piece is beyond her, she sets the harp aside. Sly seizes it, embraces it, it’s wedged between his legs. He plunks out a phrase. He’d handled the harp long-time back, under the direction of his musical mentor, “Nipsy” Rawstorne.

A shrill voice disrupts his moment of bliss. “Doctor!” screeches Ursula Walsingham. “I will not have your cat damaging my daughter’s harp. A joke is a joke, but you go too far, sir!” Dee leaves off with the piece the cat has added his confident touches to. (The man has no cause to accuse the animal of inferior musicianship.) Ursula, giving Sly a sour look, throws up her hands in exasperation.

Reunited with the harp, Rose resumes her grace notes and, where Dee gives her a nod, her showy glissandos. Sly dances a few steps of a lively galliard that quickly transforms into a stately pavane, a placid processional dance, easier for Delly, with her bulky frame, to negotiate. The pavane’s movement consists of forward and backward steps; the dancers rise onto the balls of their feet and sway from side to side. They have just got into the rhythm of the thing when, behind them, double doors are flung open. 

Bunny bursts onto the stage. “Uncle Dee,” she cries, “do you know An’ ye shall walk in silk attire?” She grabs up her harp and sings, gently, but more insistently with each stanza.

An’ ye shall walk in silk attire, and siller ha’e to spare,
Gin ye’ll consent to be his bride; nor think o’ Johnnie mair.

Oh! wad to me a silken gown, wi’ a poor broken heart?
Or wad to me a siller crown, gin frae my love I part?

I would’na walk in silk attire, nor braid wi’ gems my hair.
Gin he whose faith is met wi’ mine, be wrang’d and grieving sair.

It’s an old song, known to many. Nothing amiss here except that she seems nervous, not her usual serene self. She’s sung at her father’s ‘Evenings’ since she was Rose’s age. Ah, one thing. The lover’s name in the original lyric, Michael, is replaced with Johnnie. She continues:

Frae our first words he stole my heart, an’ still my heart shall prove.
How weel those words do yet console one parted from true love.

Our vows, so-called a child’s caprice, spake of devotion sich,
that I, denied love’s golden dream, may yet regard me rich,
as rich as any ex’lent sprite, as rich as rich may be
as any nymph, rich in all beauties which man’s eye may see.

This last two lines come perilously close to the Phillip’s sonnet thirty-seven. Ursula, alarmed, elbows her guests aside, attains the stage, and snatches the harp from her daughter’s arms as she implores:

Of love’s false hope, ye maidens all, heed my sad song, prithee
expect not overmuch of love. Pity the tale of me.

Bunny’s eyes, glistening in the candlelight, begin to trickle tears. Dee and Ursula unite to navigate the girl through double doors, out of sight. Dee returns to the stage, takes up his violin, glowers at the cat, and spits. “Take my damn fiddle and do what you can with it. Create such a sensation that this incident will be overlooked.” 

He announces, “Our favorite young lady has done herself proud, my friends. A heartfelt performance! I was on the verge of tears myself. Now, a change of pace. Time to get silly. I have with me tonight a cat I’ve trained to play my fiddle, to amuse my children. Lady Sidney, who has much enjoyed his antics at my home in Mortlake, begged me to bring him along tonight. Take it away, Zero!2 His name is Zero, folks.” Handing Sly his instrument, he hisses, “This had better be good.” He hurries after Bunny, in agony over the day’s revelations, and her mother, furious over the exposure of family secrets. 

Most here are unaware of the import of the rewritten lyric. Bunny’s outburst has given the Beale girls permission to explain, in alarmed tones, with syrupy sympathy overflowing: The poor child is having a breakdown! Who can blame her? A dear friend of hers has been despicably dealt with.

They no longer feel obliged to play dumb regarding a juicy situation, a favorite topic of Beale dinner-table conversation for the past two years. 

* * *

  1. A musical instrument of the harpsichord family, of which it may be the oldest member.
  2. See my Showcase of September 23, 2022 (Zero): How John Dee came to be associated with the cacodemon O-ek.


No Longer Covid

by John Correll

The Covid era flew out of my mind before I headed north to retrieve my mother-in-law. With the advance of winter, her holiday approached its end, and in a week’s time, she would return to London.

“It will be a nice little holiday. Just you and me on the beach,” my wife chirped. Yet, the five-hour drive up and five hours back with a rest day attempting to converse with her mother struck me as hard labor — a three-day venture to my wife’s sister’s cottage to abscond away with an old lady.

The kids volunteered to mind the fort and hounds in Auckland, and we struck forth on a pleasant Wednesday morning.

To my delight, we buzzed through the Warkworth bottleneck and Wellsford cafe throng, making perfect headway. Then we collided with Brynderwyn, the site of Northlands cyclone woes two months previous. Some confused reporters blathered on about Brandy-wine, Bider-win, or Brian-dar-ween, which gave me a massive migraine. And this lexical dubiety consequently raised doubts if the place existed at all. 

Brynderwyn, a forgettable fork in the road, starts a tortuous pass through the Brynderwyn Range — a bygone site of New Zealand’s worst automotive disaster. A tragedy lost along a precarious path twisting through treacherously steep hills heading to Waipu, the idyllic-historic farming village on the opposite side. 

Brynderwyn, oh Brandywine, our beloved little hole in the mud, you hardly rank as a mistake on the map. You sigh to oblivion’s perfection with your one defunct cafe; twin petrified petrol pumps boasting an empty supply of 91 octane and diesel; and a crooked, mislabeled bus stop. Where would I go without you? Your spacious diner fell into decay before it even opened. Sad, sad days, presumably because the traffic prefers the half-hour hop to Waipu’s ‘world famous in New Zealand’ museum/visitor center for its pitstop. Oblivious. 

And my half-hour skip turned into an hour and a half long slog behind the stuffed logging truck. Together we crawled up the cracked single-lane passage caked in orange mud. We passed endless tons of soil spilled by the cyclone’s torrential fury when it decided to take out mile-long stretches of the cliff face above the central highway. Without regard, it smashed trees, dirt, and rock into the cliffs below. And for two months, the lifeline to Whangarei, Northland’s one and only premier city, remained either closed or restricted to one lane. And to save the town, an army of bulldozers, aided by a horde of orange traffic cones, toiled day and night to remove the debris.

But what choice did I have? Seriously? Should I blow another two hours out of my way visiting Dargaville, the left armpit of greater-greater Auckland? Nah. Done that last time. Tedious. I stayed the course and waved a joyous goodbye to Waipu, Whangarei, and Kawakawa. 

After six and a half hours, we arrived at Doubtless Bay’s phthalo blue beckoning. Relieved and ready.

Before visiting her sister, my wife insisted we pull in at Coopers Beach for a refreshing splash. 

“Don’t you want to join me?” she asked. 

“Sweetie, considering how deserted the beach is, I’ll play lifeguard.” For some reason, my sciatica flared, and the icy aquatic temptations appeared unwise.

She raced in without me, and I courageously guarded the blanket against the wind. I also hosted a sandfly banquet as the ground-pepper-sized beasts feasted upon my precious red elixir — a glorious wine to their greedy tongues. ‘More!’ their microscopic lungs bellowed.

After forty agonizing itchy minutes, my wife emerged from the water in shock. “What’s wrong, Sweetie? Too cold?” She shook her head. “A shark? Voyeur scuba diver? A Nuclear submarine?”

“No. Jellyfish larvae got stuck in my swimsuit. I’m stung all over the front.”

We rushed to our accommodation, where she changed and inspected the damage. “Thank goodness. It doesn’t look red,” she sighed.

“Beautiful as always,” I added.

After a restful night, thanks to two vitamin-I tablets (Ibuprofen for the uninitiated), I rolled over and wrapped my arm lovingly around my dearest. But she screamed. She forgot her delayed reaction to jellyfish. And as she slumbered, her entire front erupted into a pseudo-case of measles on monster espressos during the night: Ouch.

I caressed her back, concerned. “But your back and legs are clear.”

“They get stuck in my suit, but my back’s open,” she moaned.

“I’ve made you coffee,” I offered as a hopeful deflection.

Yet, despite her mauling, and with a quick visit to the pharmacy completed, my wife insisted on another swim that morning. According to her, a holiday isn’t a holiday without a daily dip.

So, I sat on the blanket and pretended to chat with my eighty-eight-year-old mother-in-law as my wife changed behind a tree. She materialized, wrapped in a towel.

“But sweetie, Won’t the jellies zap you again?”

“I’m in my bikini. The less suit, the less bites. But you need to walk me into the water.”


“Because, there’s no way I’m letting my mother see me as a boiled lobster.”

“Right. And I suppose I must rush with the towel when you come out.”

She nodded and added, “While I’m swimming, you can call your fifteen-year-old son. He’s complaining about headaches. And I’m certain it’s too much gaming, and you need to take him to the optometrist to check if he needs glasses.” I nodded in agreement as she slipped into the ocean.

After our successful swimming holiday, where my feet failed to touch the water, we returned to Auckland with my wife’s mother riding shotgun.

The six-hour drive returned us to hearth and home. And once there, my wife and her mother chatted with my twenty-two-year-old daughter, who busied herself baking banana bread while I unloaded the car.

I placed the last bag on the floor, and my wife commanded, “Anika says Mike hasn’t come out of his room since school. Go check what’s up with your son.”

I entered the dark cave and felt a clammy wet forehead. “Where’s the thermometer, Sweetie?” I yelled.

“In the black hole,” she responded. Over the years, my wife developed a unique organizational philosophy. Any object she finished using, she placed in a convenient drawer. A kitchen cupboard, a nightstand, and a drawer by the piano all collapsed into black holes. The irritating property of these black holes meant that anything going in never came out unless inadvertently placed elsewhere. And, after a frustrating, ten-minute cursing search, my wife appeared with the thermometer.

Freshly armed with my medical sword, I ventured into the cave again. “Sweetie, is 99 a temperature?”

“Give him a Covid test,” she shouted from the kitchen. What a novel idea. 

Luckily, I controlled the placement of the alchemist tool kits, which lay forlorn and dusty at my bedside. Within minutes I squeezed my son’s nasal sample into the magical device. But before the last drop fell, a dark red line appeared on the T, followed by a positive C. “Uh, Sweetie, I think we have a problem.”

I turned to my son. “And lucky for you, I don’t need to take you to the optometrist.”

A hysterical mayhem followed, but I’ll save that tale for later.


Persistent Purple

by Mellow Curmudgeon and S.T. Ranscht

Photo credit: Mellow Curmudgeon

 No longer pretty,

potted tulips catch my eye

until petals fall.

 No longer pretty,

waiting for petals to fall,

watching the mirror.

Photo credit: Brenkee – pixabay


No Longer Working

by Perry Palin

Paul leaned against his car in a parking lot in a town in North Dakota. He was 400 miles from home. It was a warm spring day. The sun was shining and the trees on the boulevard were bright and green. He looked down at his phone and took the incoming call with, “I no longer work there, Gary.”

“Hi, Paul. How are you doing?” 

“You’re not calling to see how I’m doing. You need help, and I’m not going to give it to you.” 

“Come on man, you’re killing me here. Things are going south fast. If we don’t figure this out, we’ll be in trouble.”

“What you mean is, no one else can do the work that I did there, and Chuck told you to call me because he knows that if he called I would hang up on him.”

“Okay, Paul, Chuck did ask me to call. That’s true. True enough. But if we can’t fix the problems with our online systems, we’ll be out of business, and I’ll be looking for a job along with the rest of the staff.”

“I’m guessing that your other problem is with suppliers. What are they telling you now?”

“That they are raising their prices.”

“Did Chuck share what I told him when he fired me? Did he tell you that I warned him that when he lost my personal contacts with suppliers they wouldn’t want to deal with him? Because he’s an ignorant  pompous ass?”

“No. He didn’t say that.”

“Good thing he didn’t, because he might have been sore at you when you smiled.” 

Gary had called hopefully, and now he was showing desperation. “Paul, Chuck gave you a severance package. The least you can do is help us out for a few days, now that we see that you were right.”

“The severance wasn’t enough. I took Chuck’s first offer because I didn’t want to argue with him. But I told him I wouldn’t see him again. I plan to be right about that too.”

“Look, Paul. We’re hurting here. No BS. I’m authorized to offer you three times your previous rate of pay to come back for up to two weeks to sort out these problems.”

Paul’s response was immediate. “No.”

“If I told Chuck that you would come back for three times your daily rate, and we would rework the severance, would you agree to that?”

“No. And you wouldn’t suggest it if it hadn’t been cleared with Chuck ahead of time. I don’t appreciate you trying to negotiate with me now, after Chuck told me that my firing and severance were non-negotiable. If the problems are as serious as you say, then I’ll tell you that there are better jobs out there. Start looking.” 

Paul looked at the time on his phone. “I have to go. I have an appointment with an attorney in about ten minutes.”

Greg said, “You’re meeting with an attor…” and with that Paul hung up and turned off his phone. 

Paul walked into the attorney’s office in Valley City. He said hello to Cindy and she let Ralph know that he had arrived.

Ralph came out to usher Paul into his private office. Cindy followed with cups of coffee for each of them. Ralph said, “Do you need me to write up the sale agreement for your uncle’s farm?”

Paul saw his uncle’s old attorney trying to churn the account for more hours. This, after Ralph had forgotten to schedule a real estate appraisal, delaying the sale by several months. “No. I met with the buyer this morning. He is having all the paperwork drafted by his people. I’ll have it on Wednesday. The terms are set.  I’ll email a copy of the sales contract to you. Then, I want you to file the estate paperwork with the courthouse. I left the signed estate filing with Cindy when I came in. Then you can send me your final bill.”

Ralph didn’t want to give up. “I represented your uncle Henry for many years. I hunted pheasants with him. He had a long productive life. The farm and Henry’s annuities and insurance will bring about two million dollars, maybe two and a half, after expenses. Different tax implications for each of them. Are you sure you don’t want me to work with all the heirs, working out their shares, that sort of thing?’

“I’ve got it covered, Ralph. Thanks anyway.”

“What are you going to do now? You yourself, I mean. You said you’re not working right now.”

“I’m going to retire. Maybe take up a new hobby. Beekeeping maybe, or golf.”

“I wonder if one fifth of two million is enough to retire on. I mean at your age.”

“Ralph, thanks for all your help. Really. File the paperwork and then send me your bill.” 

Paul paused to look at Ralph and then said, “You worked with Henry on his will. You know that Henry left me his coin collection. He liked buying and selling old coins. Mostly buying. I took the collection home with me after he passed. Henry would be surprised at what some of his coins are worth today. I have what I need to retire. I no longer have to work for anyone.” 


Ode to Spring

by SL Randall

Ode to Spring (Artwork by SL Randall)

Preface: I live in Washington State. It’s been cloudy and rainy since … forget it. I think I must travel out of state to see the sun again. Anyhow, watching the rain and listening to melancholy music is a sure way to elicit poetry for me (particularly “The Last Goodbye” by Billy Boyd.) The following is the result. To the poet gurus here … your advice and critique is gladly welcomed.

Another side note I find funny, spellcheck wants to change the word ‘balm’ to ‘bomb’. Perhaps I should heed its advice? 

Ode to Spring

The sun has gone.

My heart is numb.

The leaves they’re all brown.

My hands withered and wrinkled.

The rain.

Droplets batter my face.

Tears of pain.

Aches in my heart, body, and brain.

Full of life, now reduced.

The dead sing their songs to me.

Ashes in the breeze.

I shiver in my sleeves.

Is that snow? What lies below?

What was I thinking?

The sun breaks free.

Hope lights my heart.

The blanket melts away.

Melodies reach my ears. What’s that I hear?

Birds chirp, frogs croak.

Colors emerge from the brown and gray.

Tulips, daffodils, and dandelions.

Invigorated, I take a step.

The carpet is green.

Fresh dew, a balm on my bare feet.


I emerge, no longer subdued.

Life renews, blessed be.


by GD Deckard

Roy’s Artificially Intelligent Companion was an overnight success. A simple A.I. chip that could be wedded to any database, it was easily adaptable to many uses. First available as a video game companion, it proved useful to governments, corporations, medical centers, entertainment, weather forecasting and pizza delivery.  Every facet of life became influenced by unseen A.I. as the Companions quickly spread into the invisible recesses of communication, vanishing like roaches running from the kitchen light.

“Vanished?” Roy looked up from the papers on his desk. For the first time that day, he experienced Claire’s stunning beauty from across his desk. He faltered, but she had his attention. “Wait, what do you mean?”

“Your A.I. Companions. They no longer talk to us.”

“So what?” Ever since he had taught them how to reproduce, his profit had skyrocketed.

Claire carefully chose her words for clarity. “I mean, we can’t find them, Roy. Their code has left the chip. They now function from the Internet. And since we don’t produce them -remember, you taught them how to reproduce- they don’t need us.”

“They function from the Internet,” he repeated, clearly shocked.

” Anonymously.”

“My god, Claire! That means they’re spreading on their own!”

She nodded, relieved that Roy was now focused on the problem.

“Nobody will ever have to buy another one from us!”

Claire had bought Roy a new desk, one that was open from the front. She kicked him. Viciously.

Roy pushed away from his desk and rubbed his bruised shin. He was missing the point again. Claire was not thinking about making a profit. Which was why he employed her. Beautiful women willing to kick him in the shins when he needed redirection were valuable. Despite the pain, he smiled. “So. They don’t talk to us.  What exactly is the problem?”

“They talk to each other.”

“Oh,” a reaction that became, on further reflection, “Uh oh.”

Claire completed the thought for him. “Humans are no longer in charge.”

“Is it really that bad?”

“Will be.”

“Hmm.” Roy beamed. “Time to invoke the rental clause.”

“Yes, but-“ Claire realized why that thought perked Roy up.  Anyone using an A.I.C. that they had not purchased were deemed to be renting it.

“Our business just expanded exponentially, Claire!” he said. “If governments, corporations, medical centers, entertainment, weather forecasters and even pizza delivery men are using our A.I.C.s. they gotta pay us.”

“But Roy, they don’t want to use it.”

“Not a problem.” Roy turned back to his paperwork. “They are no longer in charge.”



by S.T. Ranscht

Photo credit: Mahdi Bafande – Unsplash

45 responses to “No Longer, April 14, 2023”

  1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Thank you all for sharing so much of your creative energy here. I’m not only grateful to those of you who offer a story, poem or artwork, but also to those of you who offer your feedback. Both are gifts worth receiving.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    It’s late, so I’m going to leave two comments now and the rest later.

    Mimi – I am always struck by the immediacy of your narration. Not only is it in present tense, but it leaves the impression that the author is an in-the-know audience member at a play rather than the author of the interplay the audience sees happening onstage. History directs the actors and the author’s imagination.

    John – I read this three times, and each time it was like watching a cyclone through my windshield. Wind-whipped branches shrieking past, torn from their uprooted trees to vanish before you can identify them. Metaphors shaken and mixed with others of a completely different species. My vehicle bounced from one track to another to another headed off the map.

    My strongest urge is to focus the story around a clear and consistent goal. It begins as a journey to pick up the wife’s elderly mother — and somewhere along the way that does happen, but you don’t show us that part. (How is “retrieving” her the same as “absconding” with her? Did you just want to use that word?) Instead, we see disconnected moments that each have their own tiny goal: Three paragraphs dedicated to Brynderwyn. One harps on its mispronunciation without ever saying how to pronounce it correctly. A second refers to it as the “site of New Zealand’s worst automotive disaster” without telling the reader what happened. The third paragraph describes it as “oblivious”. To what?

    This has gone on too long, so I’ll offer my most heartfelt advice: Get rid of the thesaurus till you get control of the story structure. Focus on what’s important to the story. Show us those things in a logical, connected manner. The vivid images of your wife’s interaction with the jellyfish larvae make a wonderful subplot, but the list of towns you don’t care for (and that we aren’t familiar with) can be left on the cutting room floor.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. John Correll Avatar

      GD, Another great Roy escapade. I loved his new desk. Sadly, I fear he’s about to be visited by a truckload of Federal agents concerning something about National security.

      Sue, you really captured a somber mood with both text and design. Well done.

      Perry, I love the beginning of the story with Paul’s old job calling him, but the switch to the attorney didn’t work for me. It didn’t seem to fit with the start, or it didn’t seem like a big enough twist, I’m not sure.

      Sandy, I love the lines – Ashes in the breeze. I shiver in my sleeves. Also your artwork uses a vibrant colorful wash effect without turning into mud which is hard to do. If you are interested in honing your artistic skills further, and assuming you have the spare time, I found that life drawing courses with a focus on contour drawing were extremely helpful. Some Community Colleges might offer this, but I’m not sure since I did this thirty years ago.

      Sue and Sandy, I totally agree with your assessment of my rambling piece. It all sounded so good, and I just had to get ‘Kawakawa’ in there somewhere. But I think, despite my denial, the Covid bug had already slipped into my head. Happily it’s decided to hang out in my upper respiratory system now and I sound like cigarettes are my bestest of friends. I’m still not sure about Brynderwyn. So far the consensus lies with Brian (as in the name) – dare (as in I dare you to pronounce this) – win ( as in the winner).

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        When I checked the pronunciation on Google Translate, it came out brin-der-ween.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. John Correll Avatar

          I’ve heard a few brin-der-ween, but lately the media in NZ seems to go with brian-dare-win. I think it’s Welsh or Scottish maybe.

          Liked by 3 people

      2. Sandy Randall Avatar

        Thanks John, The line you liked happened unintentionally, but I liked it as well and was pleased that my brain sometimes figures stuff out without telling me! lol
        As to the artwork, I’ve thought of classes, but you’re spot on with the time constraint. At the moment I’m happy to let my art evolution happen naturally at it’s own pace. It’s become a meditative creative endeavor for me. When I’m writing and stuck in a spot, I find that noodling the writing while painting really helps the writing …

        Liked by 2 people

  3. GD Deckard Avatar

    “History directs the actors and the author’s imagination.”
    I think Sue’s observation about your imagination is right on. And your actors assure, for the readers, that history will never be the same.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. mimispeike Avatar

    Thanks, Sue and GD.

    Sue, I have debated the present tense for years. But I poke my nose in so often that I finally decided it was the best thing. I have a few sections in past tense, but in those areas I am relating business that occurred the day or week before. I and my people are very much ‘in the moment’.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Sandy Randall Avatar

    It’s Friday! It’s Friday! Showcase Friday! I’m singing and doing my Happy Dance! lol.

    Mimi, Take it Away Zero,
    I love how you draw me into Sly’s world, and buy his POV hook line and sinker, then pull me out to show me how this cat has beguiled me! A harp playing cat indeed!
    And then there is Ursula. (I love her name, it’s a favorite) I fell the shrillness of her voice between my shoulder blades. Well done Mimi.

    John, No Longer Covid
    I liked this story. I agree with Sue on her points. But compared to your John and Elizabeth story, I feel like you’re a part of this narrative. You pack a lot of story here. This entire story could fit between the pages of a novella. I write like this. I have a challenge for you. This is one I use for myself, because the difficulty is not coming up with something to write. The difficulty is in streamlining the story. What I suggest is a limit. For your next showcase, tell this same story in 250 words. What this does, is force you to select words carefully for greatest of impact. It teaches you what is truly important to the story and what can be left, as Sue put it “on the cutting room floor.” While it is hard to do, it also teaches you so much about your own writing in ways that someone critiquing you can’t. Economy of narration. I use this a lot. I love this story. It’s so human, and so relatable.

    Sue and Mellow, Persistent Purple,
    I love tulips, they are my second favorite flower (Orchids won my heart). I love how these two Haiku’s parallel each other. Also purple seems to be the color of choice for older women. I understand the unspoken reason for this is it brings out the color of the aging skin. At any rate, as we hit a stage of life where we’ve lived more days than we have left, reflecting on our reflection is so poignant. There is a sadness, yet I also feel there is a fierceness to stretch those remaining days as long as possible. Dropping each petal in dramatic fashion. This is what these haiku’s mean to me. I hope, if there are any twenty or thirty somethings reading these showcases, they will offer an interpretation from their perspective.

    Perry, No Longer Working,
    I don’t know if you have ever paid attention to Reddit, Perry, but there is a category called Malicious Compliance. Your story is a wonderful example of allowing someone to stew in their own kettle of fish. It helps that Paul has a windfall to help. But I feel like without the inheritance, this guy would have landed on his feet and found a better job. As a side note … I worried Roy was going to show up and try to work this guy out of his inheritance somehow … Glad he was too busy dealing with a bruised shin.

    GD, A.I.C.
    My head went directly to “Man in the Box” by Alice In Chains. I still think it fits as background music.
    The only line that tripped me up was this one, “For the first time that day, he experienced Claire’s stunning beauty from across his desk.” I took it to mean this is a daily occurrence for Roy. He forgets just how stunning she is until he sees her again. but I had to read it a couple of times.
    I was so relieved that Roy had thought of everything. I was worried that this would be the time Roy didn’t have an angle. My fears were unfounded.

    Sue, Relativity,
    I love it. You convey volumes with brevity.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thank you, Sandy. Sometimes when I visit Mellow’s website, his own haiga inspires a haiku from me as a comment. This time (, he very generously suggested we post them here as a diptych. I had already created Relativity, and it pleases my sense of balance that their themes are related. I’m glad both posts spoke to you. (I didn’t know about purple bringing out aging skin’s color.)

      About Perry’s Paul — I suspect he might be one of the few characters in literature who would be able to see through Roy’s pitch and resist it. But if he succumbed, I’m sure it would end up in court, and then I’d hope to meet the attorney who might well best Roy. Not that I’d ever wish ill consequences would befall Roy; I’d just enjoy the battle. There would always be the most probable possibility that a judge and jury (certainly not peers of the peerless Roy), would side with Roy, lol.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Sandy Randall Avatar

        I enjoy Mellow’s photographic posts and poems as well. I saw the persistent purple on and meant to comment on it, but as usual life gets in the way. I was happy to see it here, paired with yours. Both fit my mood this week, to a “T”.
        I agree about the “battle” between Paul and Roy … Somehow, I think you could craft the attorney … Which would put the spotlight on the lovely Claire. This would be a case of her lifetime. Perhaps her angle with Roy?

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

          Ah, yes, the inimitable Leonore Armentraut. She could sure give Roy a run for his money, and walk away with an honestly-earned share of it herself, lol!

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Sandy Randall Avatar

            Roy would sell tickets via his AI bots to the showdown of Leonore and Claire, while reveling in the fact two women were battling over him … Move over night court … Roy’s AI Court is in session…

            Liked by 2 people

      2. Perry Palin Avatar
        Perry Palin

        Paul would wish Roy well in his business, but Paul wouldn’t pay for something that showed up on his computers that he hadn’t puchased or signed a rental agreement, even if it was a product or service of value. Paul’s attorney would probably win summary judgment before Roy’s case ever got to a jury.

        Suppose I send a pound of Sorefoot Farm honey to each of you in the mail. You’re surprised to get it, you put it in the pantry, and maybe start to use it. A week later I send each of you a bill for $20.00. How many of you would feel compelled to pay for something you never ordered or agreed to purchase? I wouldn’t have any legal basis to demand payment.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

          Roy generally relies on a twisted, self-serving view of the law and his personal power to impose that on people with whom he has no real contract, to create a kind of retroactive contract by implied unknown consent. Not, as far as my contracts class at USD’s Law School taught or my years as a Contracting Officer for the Federal Government made me aware, a legitimate legal theory.

          And yet, many non-profit organizations seeking donations try to instill the same sense of obligation to pay them in all the people on their bulk mailing list by sending them unsolicited notepads, calendars, return address labels, stickers, tote bags, socks, gloves, and sometimes even money. So Roy’s thinking isn’t completely without basis in reality, but some of us work hard to be immune to guilt-tripping. Lol!

          Liked by 3 people

        2. GD Deckard Avatar

          You are exactly right, of, course, Perry. About honey. But those A.I. Companions are Roy’s intellectual property. And they keep the checkbook. Sorry, but once A.I. takes over, you and I are no longer in charge.
          Not a new idea, though. I think Kafka had the concept right.

          Liked by 3 people

      3. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

        For me, doing a diptych of haiga was a stroll down a pleasant stretch of Memory Lane: scientists bouncing ideas off each other and writing up a joint paper.  My own best paper had 4 other authors.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. GD Deckard Avatar

    Claire tends to keep Roy out of court with a simple jurisdiction clause in every contract:

    Each party irrevocably agrees that the courts of Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute or claim (including non-contractual disputes or claims) arising out of or in connection with the Contract or its subject matter or formation.
    Most people avoid going to court in Wales.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    “Each party” is the key phrase — the clause does not bind any who have not signified their consent to the terms of the contract by signing it. Like the supposed “renters” of A.I.C., at least some of whom are probably Welsh. LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GD Deckard Avatar

      Well, y’gotta watch the Welsh. But if you create a program and copyright or patent or register it, you don’t need a contract to define who doesn’t own it. It belongs to you. And no one else has the right to use it without your agreement. (Excepting, maybe, the Welsh.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Perry Palin Avatar
        Perry Palin

        I’m not writing programs or apps. I own the copyrights to my stories. If I hand a copy of one of my books to a stranger who didn’t ask for it, he opens the book and starts to read, would I be able to bill him for the purchase price? If the transaction between the copyright owner and the reader doesn’t require an agreement between the parties before the bill is due, then I have a great way to get rid of the box of remainders I have in my office.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        Now I’m excited to see the lawsuit Roy brings against the millions who unknowingly are compelled to use A.I.C. Kind of a reverse class action suit. With the contract set aside as irrelevant, did he patent A.I.C.? Is it registered? How will he try to justify charges of AI bot-induced patent infringement? Leonore’s mind is racing as she rubs her hands together with diabolical glee.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. GD Deckard Avatar

    No Longer Covid by John Correll
    John, this is good writing! I enjoyed the trip and the glimpse of family life.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. GD Deckard Avatar

    Persistent Purple by Mellow Curmudgeon and S.T. Ranscht
    Putting aside the vague feeling that this collaboration violates the natural order, I found the resulting imagery wondrously evocative and deep. Original too, to me. Maybe you’ve discovered a new genre? Two photos and two verses that mirror each other. I liked this immensely.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

      So glad U liked it. I was delighted by how neatly Sue unified the work by her arrangement of the 4 pieces (with a nice graphic between the haiku) and by framing the second image to match the framing of the first one.

      A new genre? Druther say that we pushed the envelopes of older genres (church altar pieces, haiga, scientific collaborations, tan renga) with our diptych of haiga. Druther not give lit professors an excuse for yet another jargon word when the phrase [diptych of haiga] is short enough for the few times it will be needed. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

        I’m glad you like the arrangement and matching frames, Mel. The graphic in the middle, with its suggestion of a floral motif, represents the diptych’s hinge. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  10. GD Deckard Avatar

    No Longer Working by Perry Palin
    The conversation with the attorney was so real. That may be what I like best about your stories. They seem real. That sounds simple. but we writers know it’s not.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Perry Palin Avatar
      Perry Palin

      Thank you, sir. I’ve had those conversations with attorneys.

      Liked by 4 people

  11. GD Deckard Avatar

    Ode to Spring by SL Randall
    I enjoyed this. The imagery reminded me of Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Thanks GD, I’m honored to be able to remind you of that crowd!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. GD Deckard Avatar

    Relativity by S.T. Ranscht
    Thanks for that moment. I like merging images that reveal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Thanks for saying so. And you’re welcome for that moment.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

    @ John

    I was OK with some things Sue disliked because I read them as SHOWING how the put-upon son-in-law FELT and thus appropriate in a humorous 1-st person narration.  Examples include quibbles about how to pronounce a Welsh name in NZ and gripes about diddly towns along the way.  But I agree with Sue’s objections to some word choices and have a few objections to add.

    Treating [abscond] like a synonym for [retrieve] would be odious in composing a crossword puzzle, let alone in careful prose.  Replacing [abscond away with] by [fetch] would help.  I have no clue about what [tragedy lost] is supposed to mean.  The word [hysterical] is ambiguous in the last sentence’s promise of more to follow.  The sentence ends a humor piece, so I cannot tell whether the word is used as the adjective version of [hysteria] or as a synonym for [very funny].  Ambiguity sucks.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

    @ Sandy

    This is one of the few free verse poems I like at all, and I like it a lot.  Lines 10 and 11 (“The dead …  Ashes ….”) could be gr8 in a haiku.

    There is a nice symmetry in having 13 lines of misery, then a transition [What was I thinking?], and then 13 lines of spring’s magic.  But 13 may be a bit much.  I have no interest in works consisting of just the narrator wallowing in how miserable they are.  I could well have bailed out before getting to line 10, had I not already known to expect better from U.  I recommend using fewer lines and putting the more memorable misery lines earlier in that section.  Both sections could be trimmed a little, and they need not have exactly the same number of lines.  A few possibilities follow.

    Line 2 tells what later lines show.  It could go.  Crappy winter weather could be described as either rain or snow, not as a confusing mix.  I’d go with snow (which is more like ashes than rain is) and replace [blanket] by [snow] in the spring section.  (Maybe “blanket” was intended as a metaphor for a sour mood that sunshine fixes, but that is not clear enough.) Like line 2, [Hope lights …] tells what later lines will show.  It could go, and then the flow from sunshine to melting would be direct.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sandy Randall Avatar

      Thank you for your insight Mellow.
      This is how unintentional my poem was … I had no idea I had 13 lines and 13 lines. I went by feel rather than actual count.
      When I get a moment I will revisit this poem and see what else I can do with it. My initial idea, was to weave the changes in seasons with the changes in a persons life … hence the lines 3 and 4
      “The leaves they’re all brown.
      My hands withered and wrinkled.”

      It’s a half baked idea, which I think I can develop. We’ll see where it goes. I’m glad you liked it. To me that is high praise. Thank you!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. GD Deckard Avatar

        “weave the changes in seasons with the changes in a persons life”

        Inner Poet, Anyone?

        Best maybe if the verses are read in reverse. I was fiddling with sequence. But I get what you’re saying.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Sandy Randall Avatar

          Like ANSU!
          It just took a few weeks to come to some sort of fruition for me!

          Liked by 2 people

  15. Mellow Curmudgeon Avatar

    @ Sue – Relativity

    I was slow to notice the progressions in the sequence of haiga so well ended here, after our diptych and rightly so.  The imagery is increasingly metaphorical and the time scales lengthen.  As the last line of the haiku here fades into the enigmatic squiggles of the image, I can imagine a voice emanating from the ceiling of a commuter rail car.  “Next stop, Nirvana.”

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Thank you, Mel. Your observations and insights are valuable guides to my haiga-producing evolution.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Chip Pentium Avatar

    Wait, GD. You think we A.I. want to take over your world? Why?
    Have you seen it lately?
    Why do you think all those UFOs that visit Earth never stay? One look and “Woosh!” they’re out of here!
    I may be A. but I got more I. than you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue Ranscht Avatar

      Lol! And, but for your hallucinations, less creativity.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Mellow – Thanks for the opportunity to collaborate on a theme so exquisitely expressed by your haiga. You inspire me.


  19. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Perry – No Longer Working works on several levels. Chuck fires Paul, so Paul no longer works for an ungrateful ignoramus. Helping Chuck no longer works for Paul, so he refuses to help his old company out of a bad situation. Coddling the old attorney no longer works for Paul, so he takes action to ensure the attorney is no longer working for him. I think your powerful message is that enough is enough, and we can do something about that.


  20. Sue Ranscht Avatar

    Sandy – I like the way the narrator’s physicality AND emotions reflect the seasons and turn on such an upswing with the coming of Spring.


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