Excerpt from a short story

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From a short story I am almost done with.  It might be ready to send out now.  At this point, an eccentric artist/street person is explaining a painting to a friend.

“Yeah”  Was all Chris could manage.  He looked through a few canvases and although he was no art critic, he knew they were good.  He picked up a large one that stood out and propped it on the bookshelf.  There was something about this one that drew the eye in.  It was like no painting he had ever encountered.

Red spoke from behind him and he startled a little.  “Like that one, huh?”  Red said.  “Me too.  Best thing I’ve done.  Did it in one night a few years ago.  Stone, cold sober if you can believe it.”

“It’s so …” Words failed Chris.

“Speaks to you.”  Red answered “I know.  It’s called The Silent Aspirations of Bastard Amber.  Bastard Amber is a color gel used in theater lighting.  It can also be a paint color, and that’s the beautiful thing about it.  It’s a color open to interpretation.”

“Yeah?”  Chris managed, not taking his eyes off the painting.

Red pointed to a place on the picture.  “Here’s the Bastard Amber.  And here and here and back here.  And you step back and look at this painting as a whole and it’s us.  It’s me and you and, like the people, man.  And we’re back there like the Bastard Amber and we are open to interpretation man because that’s what life is.  And see all of this up here, the big stuff?  It’s all moving around and swirling and huge and dominating and it’s in control.”  Chris glanced at Red.  And in saw the old Red of intellect and passion, of drive and wonder.

Red continued staring at the painting and talking like Chris wasn’t there.  “All this up here, it’s like the government, the corporations, the organizations and all the crap they pile on us the Bastard Amber.  It’s the news and the booze and the dope and the politics and the war and the useless garbage they try to sell us.  They’re pushing us behind and keeping us back.  But look at the Bastard Amber.  Here and here and here.  See what it’s doing?  It’s on the outside and moving up.  The Bastard Amber is saying to all that crap, that garbage; you might be on top now but we are on our way.  And one day.  One day, man.  You’re gonna see us and we won’t be silent no more.  Maybe not in this life.  Maybe in the heaven or nirvana or paradise or whatever you want to call it.  The Bastard Amber is gonna rise and be right up where it belongs.  And all the pain you caused us, it won’t mean nothin no more.  You look, man, you look long enough and you will see.  Here’s your coffee.”

Chris took the cup from Red and the coffee, as promised, was good.

From latest short story

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This story has had a long life.  Originally written about 2010, I wasn’t satisfied with it and left it alone until recently.  Now, revamped and renamed, it may be ready for submission.  I have no clue where the idea for this one came from, usually there is a prompt of some kind.  So, here is an excerpt.

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Bobby was insistent on seeing his father and she explained Hunter’s condition to him.  Silently she noted that he was expert at acting truly concerned as they joined Hunter on the back porch enjoying iced tea and watching the birds flock to the feeders.  Hunter barely looked up when Bobby sat down in front of him.

“Dad, you have a visitor.”  She said happily.

Hunter looked up at her and smiled.  “Thank you love.”  He said and patted her hand.  He looked blankly at Bobby.  “You another doctor?”  He demanded.

Bobby put his hand on the old man’s knee.  “It’s me dad, Bobby.”

Hunter peered at him distrustfully.  “I don’t need another doctor.  You can’t do anything for me anyway.  You people are just after another payment on your Mercedes.”

Hunter looked bewildered at Sandra.  “Do I have a doctor Bobby?”  He asked.  She made no comment.

“No dad.”  He pleaded. “I’m Bobby, your son.”

Hunter looked at him in irritation.  “I don’t know what you are saying.  I don’t have a son.” He looked up at Sandra again imploring then back at Bobby. “I don’t have any children.  My wife died, we never had children.  State your business young man.”

“You remember me don’t you dad?  I’m Bobby.”  He continued.

“You look like that guy on the news.  Who are you?”  Hunter asked irritated.

“I already told you dad.”  Bobby was also irritated now.

“Stop calling me that.  I want you to leave.”  Hunter turned to Sandra.  “Marion, make him leave now.  He looks like that that man on television.”  He fumbled with the binoculars.  “I’m going to look at my birds.”  He mumbled.  With that Hunter raised the binoculars and ignored everyone else.

Bobby looked at Sandra who gave a shrug of her shoulders.  Sandra followed Bobby back to the front door after promising to bring Hunter a refill on his iced tea.

“I told you.”  She said as Bobby stepped out onto the front porch.

“He’s freaking senile.”  He turned back to her.  “I still don’t get you being here.”

More for Bob, P. I.

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“You are the decade expert.”  Nick said.

“Not just the 70’s”  Bob insisted “There was some good stuff in the 80’s, even the 90’s, but not as much.”

“I see, Professor Cultural Historian.  And pray tell, what are some of those?”  Nick asked.

“I’ll tell you one that always caught my eye.”  Bob said.  “That show in the 80’s with McLean Stevenson, Condo.”

“Never heard of it.”

“I’m not surprised about that.  It was one of the casualties of greedy corporate executives.  It got cancelled after one season.”  Bob said.

“And it’s an iconic classic, is it?”

“I can tell you this, it had an iconic classic actor in McLean Stevenson.  You watch that show, his talent shines.  They simply didn’t know what to do with all that comedic genius.” Bob said.

“He was in MASH for a while right?”  Nick asked.

“Yeah, hate that show.”  Bob said.

“Really?”  Nick said “That’s a surprise.  It panders to the far left.  Think you would love it.”

“Bad TV.”  Bob insisted “If it wasn’t for McLean Stevenson and maybe Larry Linville, it would have flopped long before it did.  They carried that show from a pure comedy standpoint.”

“Not Alan Alda, the star?” Nick shook his head in disbelief.

“Heck no, over-rated hack.”  Bob said.

“How about the one that wore dresses?”  Nick asked.

“Jamie Farr?  Forgot about him.  I’m on the floor every time he comes on camera.”  Bob smiled.

“You know, if Jamie Farr, McLean Stevenson and Polly Holliday had ever appeared on screen together, they would have just stopped making movies.  The camera couldn’t hold all of that astounding talent.”  Nick said.

“Go on, laugh it up.”  Bob said “It’s you who doesn’t understand the sophisticated mind of the master actor and comedian.”

“Bob, you are one jive turkey.”  Nick said.

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One more addition to Bob, P. I.

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“This is how we should start every day.  Meet up at a common place and plan out the day.  Sort of relax and kick back for a while before the action starts.”

“You like saying ‘kick back and relax’ don’t you?  Most people meet up and plan their work day at a common place called the office.  But we can meet here if you want.”  Nick said.

“Kiss my grits.”  Bob mumbled.

“What does that even mean?”  Nick asked.

“What do you mean, what does that mean?  It’s a famous saying by a very famous actress, Polly Holliday.”  Bob said.

“Never heard of her.”

“Sure you have, from the Alice show.  I have all of them on DVD.”  Bob insisted.

“No doubt you do.”  Nick said.  “Still never heard of her.”

“Oh, come on she’s one terrific actress, multi-talented and a great natural star.”

“Uh, huh.” Nick said “And she says kiss my grits?”

“What? Yeah, on the Alice show.  Everyone knows that.”Bob said.

Nick turned to Rick. “Did you?”  Rick shrugged his shoulders and Nick turned back to Bob. “See?”

“He’s too young.  I’m surprised you don’t know her.  A mega-star like Polly Holliday.”  Bob looked over his dark glasses.

“Mega huh?”  Nick smiled “What else has she starred in?”

“Lots of major motions pictures.”  Bob insisted.

“Right, you don’t know.”  Nick said.  “What next?  Are you going to start quoting Buffy and Jodie from Family Affair?”

“I don’t know.  What did they say?” Bob asked.

“Kiss my butt.” Nick answered.

“Really?  Going to have to look that show up on DVD.”

“If you guys don’t mind”  Rick interrupted.  “Here’s where we are.  …

More from Bob, P. I.

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About the picture:  It has nothing to do with the story.

An excerpt from Bob, P. I.   It is still under submission at three publishers.


Nick talked to Jan a while longer with Rick taking notes.  Bob busied himself flipping through paperwork, drinking coffee, and looking at things on a computer.  He seemed disinterested in their new client.

Nick showed Jan to the door with a promise to start on the case in the next few days.  He marched back into the workroom steaming.  “What the hell was that all about?”  He asked Bob.

Bob waved him off.  “What you talkin bout Nick?”

“We don’t squeeze people for money.”

“But we aren’t a charity either.  We get paid.  We are a for profit business.”

“I thought you liberals were all bleeding hearts.  Not concerned about money.”  Nick added.

“Liberal got nothing to do with it.”  Bob said.  “Business is business, partner.  She pays or we don’t play.  I ain’t just a woofin here.”

Rick cleared his throat and broke in.  “I’ll do it.  If you guys don’t want to.  I’ll do it no charge.”

Nick jerked a thumb in Ricks direction.  “See that?  That’s called heart.  We are taking this case and we will work out the money later.  I’ll pay.”  Nick turned his back on Bob.  “Woofin.  I’ll show you woofin.”

Bob shrugged.  “Groovy.  We can fit in another snoop case.”

Nick looked at his partner for a moment.  “I need some fresh air.”  He said and went for the door.

“Keep on truckin'”  Bob said to his retreating back.

“Shut up.” Nick called from the door.

Shadowed Solitude republished by Literally Stories today

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https://literallystories2014.com/2016/04/22/shadowed-solitude-by-donald-baker/

Literally Stories republished the story Shadowed Solitude which originally came out in 2013 with The Huffington Post.  This isn’t what I consider one of my strongest pieces and one day, when I get ready to compile a short story collection, I will rewrite it.

Literally Stories is a great group of people to deal with.  This is the second of my pieces they picked up.  They are very encouraging and complementary, I can’t thank them enough.