Bumpy Roads is a collection of thirty-five entertaining and mostly humorous short stories comprising of life experiences in which we can all relate. Life travels many roads. Some are bumpy and may not be welcomed experiences, but they are also often the funniest times in our life. These are the times to cherish, reflect on, build upon, and sometimes, are a catalyst for moving on.
Bumpy Roads reminds us that life is unpredictable and change, inevitable-new faces, places, and unique experiences. Life can be embarrassing, demanding, challenging, yet rewarding. We largely decide our own destiny by the directions we decide to take.
This book sets out to entertain the reader, yet provoke thought. It is my hope that you, the reader, will enjoy these stories.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.49(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES
By BRIAN WILSON, Rachel Coop
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 Brian Wilson
All rights reserved.
"JUST A TRUCK passing," said Alex, laughing.
"Well it's so unnerving. Every time I hear a truck passing I think, hello another one," replied Bruce, as he composed himself and withdrew his hands from the balcony rails. Alex, meanwhile took another bite out of his Boston bun, smacked his lips, then turned to Bruce. "Don't worry it's just another moment in time. It will soon all blow over."
Bruce reached for his cup and took a sip of tea. This did seem to help calm his nerves. Apart from the fear of another earthquake or aftershock, it was very pleasant sitting on the balcony eating lunch on a sunny day.
"It's all bumpy roads from now on," added Alex.
"Yes, I had noticed a lot of road works around the city. The earthquake caused a lot of sags and bumps, as well as broken pipes." Bruce produced a ginger biscuit and dunked it into his tea then bit off the softened biscuit end. He had learned this trick from his parents. It seemed to be an English tradition.
"That's not quite what I was getting at," clarified Alex. "I sort of meant it more figuratively."
"Like the future of the cathedral after all the earthquake damage?"
"Yes, and like demolishing most of the tall buildings in the central business district," added Alex. "Then there are seven thousand plus houses in the red zone."
"All to be demolished?"
"Yes, I would think so," replied Alex, "as well as many other destroyed houses in other parts of the city. But enough talk about the Christchurch earthquake. I hear you've been travelling your own bumpy roads."
"Bumpy roads! Bumpy roads! More like a dead end road getting him to pay his rent. When we signed up Marty for the flat his partner was a lovely lady, though he was a skinhead with tattoos. But my uncle used to say people shouldn't stereotype, so I put aside all my preconceptions and agreed to their tenancy."
"Say that again."
"Bad move," repeated Alex, jokingly.
"I meant figuratively," responded Bruce who was not amused.
"Anyhow, not long after renting they split up. Unfortunately it was Marty who stayed on. We got the raw end of the deal. His ex, who was the mother of his children, then moved in."
"So, she was no good?"
"No, she was fine. But this relationship didn't last either. He hadn't been long back with her before he was once again playing the field. Naturally, when she found out he was having an affair, she left him."
"And the flat?"
"Another raw deal?"
"Very much so. From there on it was all down hill." Bruce took another sip of tea and dunked his biscuit again. He was clearly now agitated, this time having to steady his hand as he held the cup to his lips.
"Gee wiz, it sounds rather like the storyline of a TV soap," commented Alex. "I have always considered soaps as rubbish and not worth watching, but I guess we live in our own little cocoons and don't realise how differently the other half live."
"Yes, it is hard to believe. Anyhow everything turned to custard. He seemed to mix with the wrong crowd and from there payments ceased despite promises he would pay the rent owing."
"So you took him to the Tenancy Tribunal several weeks ago?"
"I had no choice but to evict him. I can't afford to have a tenant who doesn't pay his rent, especially when the bank still expects me to pay the interest on the mortgage. These tenants think we are ripping them off, but they don't realise landlords have overheads like rates, insurance and mortgage interest."
"The Tenancy Tribunal?" prompted Alex.
"Well quite straight forward; just a lower level court—an adjudicator instead of a judge, and a stenographer to record the proceedings."
"Yes, but what happened?"
"I presented my case and a folder of evidence and the tenant responded. Then the adjudicator asked a few questions and arrived at her decision."
"So he turned up then?"
"Yes, but late. The adjudicator wasn't at all impressed. At the end of the hearing she issued an eviction notice and an order for him to repay outstanding rents."
"And the eviction date?" questioned Alex, as he unwrapped another Boston bun.
"By midnight tonight, Alex."
"So you will be going around at midnight to check out your property?"
"No, we will go around tomorrow morning and I will update you next week at work."
The next morning Bruce and his wife arrived at the flat. Bruce carefully lifted up the flap of the letterbox and suspiciously peered in.
"Sweetie, what on earth are you doing?" asked Janice.
"Well, I asked Marty to leave the key in the box, but you never know he may have put a mouse trap in there."
"Oh, for goodness sake, you are paranoid. We've been very good landlords. He is hardly likely to be out to get us."
"Well, it's better to be safe than sorry."
Bruce retrieved the key from the box and both walked down the drive to the house. Bruce tried the front door. It was locked.
"There you go a tenant who leaves the key as instructed and locks the door behind him can't be too bad. Sweetie, if he was going to trash the house then he wouldn't have made an appearance at the tribunal."
Nevertheless, Bruce somewhat apprehensively turned the doorknob and edged the door slowly open.
As the door parted, they were greeted by a fowl smell of cigarette fumes.
"They were told they weren't to smoke inside," complained Bruce. "This smell will be hard to remove. It will have permeated the ceiling, walls, drapes, carpets ..."
"Carpets! My new carpet; they've put ink all over my new carpet.... and, and my drapes—my nice new drapes as well."
"That's not all," growled Bruce. "The imbecile has put his fist through all the internal doors and kicked holes in the bedroom wall."
".... And the mirror where is it? Sweetie, they've stolen your mum's valuable mirror. I did wonder if it was safe leaving it in the house when we were renting it out."
Bruce and Janice spent the whole weekend cleaning up the house. It was a pigsty. The carpets required vacuuming, the fowl-smelling drapes dry cleaning and rubbish scattered over the floors needed removing. Outside, the lawns were just as bad. They obviously hadn't been cut for at least a month. Trips had to be made to the rubbish dump as the tenants had thoughtfully left an expired refrigerator and other rubbish around the property. There were three council rubbish bins available: green for organic, red for trash and yellow for recyclable. However, the tenants were obviously colour-blind and the bins required reloading. These had to be the tenants from hell.
Bruce was pleased to come back to work after a trying weekend. He had plenty to tell Alex at lunchtime. It was a wet day so Bruce joined Alex at a cafeteria table instead of braving the balcony.
Alex pushed aside the newspaper he had been reading and looked up at Bruce. "So, have you been to the police? After all, it was not just vandalism. It was also theft."
"Yes, but the police weren't that interested. Apparently, it is not sufficient evidence of theft even though the house had deadlocks, windows locks, and the tenants had the only key to the house. You have to prove they took the mirror. Anyhow, with the tribunal ruling his name will be mud. No landlord will want him."
Alex pushed the paper in front of Bruce "They certainly won't. Did you see the front page of the newspaper? There's a lot in there about the shortage of houses since the earthquake and look, here is a solo mum who has tried everywhere and cannot get a house to rent. Apparently, a lot of people are sleeping in cars."
"Yes, but look how many houses this woman lived in over the last year," pointed out Bruce. "She was obviously a bad tenant to have been in so many houses. I certainly won't be taking her in as my next tenant."
Alex grabbed the paper back turning the page. "Here's another case. This bloke has had to resort to living in a corner of his mate's garage surrounded by all his lifetime possessions."
"Let me see?" said Bruce, reaching over to look at the picture and read the article.
"My gosh, that's Marty and there's my mirror."
STANDING TALL IN all its majesty is the eucalyptus tree. It is an icon upon a house-dotted hillside; the four huge trunks towering forty metres and dwarfing the neighbouring houses. Crowned with a generous array of branches and emerald-type leaves it is indeed a royal sight to behold. For those living on the plains below, it is something natural and pleasing to the eye, as opposed to a hill completely smothered by houses.
Perched high on the hill above the frost line overlooking the New Zealand Canterbury Plains, the tree enjoys the mild winters and warm summer months. These are not too dissimilar to its Australian homeland, though there are no koala bears to feast upon its leaves.
Throughout the year its welcoming branches provide a sturdy perch for the large indigenous New Zealand woodpigeon; their presence being announced by a distinctive "whooshing" sound as their wings slice through the air. These shiny green-purple birds, with a white bib- like breast, enjoy swooping and occasionally making steep parabolic dives as they fly between the high branches of the eucalyptus tree and other tall trees across the valley.
Autumn has now passed and with the onset of winter they are joined by the call of the indigenous bellbird; always in fine concert voice. Delighting the neighbourhood and echoing through the valley their chorus is likened to the chiming of bells. These birds are much smaller than the woodpigeon and enjoy the safety of the higher branches. The males are an olive green, while the females a duller olive brown.
Their finale is reached as summer approaches. The tree now prepares for the pains of summer as the hot, dry northwest wind rips through its branches and strips the trunks of bark. Broken branches, leaves and stripped bark are uplifted and scattered over neighbouring properties, clogging roof guttering, and littering paths and gardens.
The neighbours then do not share the same sentiment towards the tree. They want it cut down. It creates work clearing guttering, paths and gardens. But this is a highly valued tree under a protection order. It cannot be removed. For them this tree is a nuisance; obscuring views of the city, and endangering those living nearby. Besides, if the tree is removed then some properties would increase in value and some sections might be suitable for subdivision.
It is now late February and autumn is approaching. The strong dry northwest winds will become less frequent and the tree will regain some reprieve from the strong winds. Suddenly, the ground shakes violently as a powerful earthquake explodes from the depths. The eucalyptus tree shakes in motion, and in the process tears a root to one of its four trunks. As the shaking continues the wound becomes deeper and more serious. It seems that life is drawing to an end as the trunk starts to slide into a tilt, and with a death-rattle creek it finally severs from the remaining tree. The trunk falls slowly and gracefully, before smashing its way through boundary fences. It comes to rest across four neighbours' properties. One of the smaller branches falls onto a neighbour's Mercedes leaving the owner with an expensive dent. The tree is now crippled having lost one of its four trunks with the other three continuing to precariously remain upright. A large aftershock and death will come knocking as the remaining trunks part company.
The neighbours are not pleased with the pending danger of the remaining trunks falling onto a house. They are now able to persuade the authorities to have the protection order lifted. Little time is wasted in organising tree fellers and wood merchants, and their plan is executed. The once magnificent tree is unseated from its hillside throne and is left lifeless on the ground. Various insect types are quick to infiltrate its armour and feast on the tender meat underneath. The once rich green emerald leaves start to fade and curl in the sun, to eventually rot away—earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; such is life.
In the place of the bellbirds the obtrusive high pitched, penetrating sound of chainsaws echo for over a week through the valley and neighbourhood, as the wood merchants cut through the metre-thick trunks. This will make excellent firewood and will be warmly received by many families over winter. With large commercial chainsaws the wood merchants slice the trunks into rings that are wheeled over to a wood-splitting machine. This axe-head shaped cutter draws down splitting the rings again and again into a number of fire logs. Trailer load upon trailer load of fire logs are carted away. The wood merchants are very happy to have a free supply of firewood.
Once the wood merchants have taken the best cuts, home handymen with toy chainsaws emerge from out of the depths of the neighbourhood. They take what is left leaving only a trail of sawdust. This too, doesn't remain for long as green-fingered neighbours appear with sacks and shovels.
The neighbours are happy with the tree having been removed. But the woodpigeons never return and the neighbourhood does miss the warmth of the bellbirds chorus over winter. All that remains is an empty, boring section with the violated carcass, of a once majestic tree rotting into the ground.
JUST WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE
"COME ON," BELLOWED Laura. "We're on a tight schedule." However, Gary was very laid back and would not be rushed. There was plenty of time. A quick visit to his daughter's house, then they were off to the theatre. He needed to look smart. Laura had talked him out of wearing a suit; her preference being casual. In the absence of a suit his favourite navy work trousers would suffice. He took pride in his appearance and searched out a matching shirt and tie.
Laura now looked somewhat distraught after checking her watch. She held more firmly to a plastic bag of baby items she had put together for her daughter.
Gary sauntered towards the doorway checking as he went that he had the tickets for the play. He loved live theatre and was looking forward to this latest play everyone was raving about. But first they were to visit their daughter.
"It will be good seeing the new renovations Kay and Herbert have done," commented Gary as he closed the door behind them.
"And the baby," reminded Laura.
"Yes of course."
"Look Hayley, here's Granddad and Grandma," announced Kay, as Laura and Gary came through the doorway.
"Oh, isn't she cute?" commented Laura. "Look dear."
"Yep!" responded Gary. "So let's see these renovations," he added, turning towards Herbert.
"We can do that later, Dad," Kay said directing them to the lounge, where everyone took a seat.
"I must have a cuddle," said Laura placing the three-week old baby against her chest.
"Oh, you are a little cutie," said Laura. "What a lovely little smile."
"Dad might want a cuddle too."
"I'm sure he would love a cuddle," insisted Laura.
"No, really I'm fine," reassured Gary.
"Herbert is now also able to change nappies. Would you like to change a nappy Dad?"
"No, granddads don't do nappies. I did my share when you children were little. I will leave this job to you and Herb."
"I did the last nappy," commented Herb, who felt quite accomplished in this big step of becoming a father.
"Here," said Laura, planting the baby onto Gary's lap.
"Now where are these renovations?"
All but Gary and the babe rose from their seats. Gary was too nervous to put the baby across his chest and follow. These newborn babies were so delicate with their floppy little heads that needed support. "Hey! What about me?"
"You're doing just fine," commented Kay.
"Looks quite the doting granddad," added Laura laughing.
"Now I know what it's like to be left holding the baby," commented Gary, as the others disappeared out the lounge doorway. Thank goodness the baby was asleep peacefully on his lap, or was she? As the others departed, her tiny eyes started to squint and her little jaw began to quiver. Then the bottom lip dropped and all hell broke loose. The baby's pale little cheeks quickly gained colour as she bellowed. Kay quickly returned to relieve the doting granddad of his love and joy.
"You've upset little Hayley," she said picking the babe up from her father's lap. "Ook; she's had a leak. At the time I thought Herb had put that nappy on a bit too loose." Kay carefully took the baby away and placed her on a change mat, apparently unconcerned about the shade of yellow spread across the front of her dad's navy blue pants. Yellow and navy blue was not a good match.
"Don't worry, dear," commented an amused Laura, as she wiped Gary's pants clean, leaving a damp wet patch. "Not quite as bad as split pants in public, though it does look like you have had an accident. What will they think at the theatre?"
"That's what I am afraid of," commented Gary. "I certainly hope it dries out before we get there, otherwise it will be humiliating." Gary borrowed his daughter's hair dryer, but the wet patch would not disappear. It seemed like he had been left with a stain.
On the way to the theatre, Gary stopped and purchased a newspaper. This came in quite handy when they entered the theatre as Gary was able to hold it in front concealing his embarrassment.
Excerpted from BUMPY ROADS by BRIAN WILSON, Rachel Coop. Copyright © 2013 Brian Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PART ONE—Stories By Brian Wilson.................... 1
Shaky Grounds.................... 3
The Tree.................... 9
Just Water Under the Bridge.................... 13
A Case in Time.................... 19
The Journey.................... 25
Uk Road Rage.................... 31
Happy View Hospital.................... 39
Three Granddads.................... 43
Up the Garden Path.................... 49
Zimbabwe—Land of Disappointment.................... 55
The Past Revisited.................... 59
On a Crusade.................... 63
Solomon's Gold.................... 75
Sydney Adventure.................... 79
Garage Sale.................... 85
PART TWO—Stories By Rachel Coop.................... 93
Memory Lane.................... 95
Flatting Dramas.................... 99
Flight 00Xyzk2.................... 103
First Date.................... 113
PART THREE—Stories by Brian Wilson.................... 123
The Bully.................... 125
All on a Sunny Day.................... 131
A Memorable Sermon.................... 133
Wedding Worries.................... 137
The Three Passes.................... 143
The Gold Coast.................... 147
A Day in Shanghai.................... 153
Home Alone.................... 159
Baby Day.................... 161
Death in the Family.................... 165
The Gardener.................... 169
Love Conquers All.................... 173
An Anxious Moment.................... 177
Beneath the Ice.................... 181
Crowded House.................... 185