Tag Archives: Fiction

My One Good Turn

Case Histories
Case Histories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kate Atkinson has written a great character in Jackson Brodie. I made the mistake of reading the four novels out of sequence. I wish there were somewhere in all the lists that I’ve seen where someone said “Read this one First” or something like that. Here, I will tell you which one to read first – Case Histories. In it you will learn about all the women that Jackson Brodie will get to know and you will recognize in novels to come. The author weaves the stories past and present into a work of art. There is at the core of the book the mystery of how three separate police cases over the course of thirty years can possibly be related. Rough-around-the-edges Jackson Brodie will put all the pieces together and it makes perfect sense.

They say no good deed goes unpunished and Kate Atkinson had a field day with what that means in One Good Turn. In it, Jackson Brodie is once more the receiver of bumps and bruises while only trying to HELP. Every character in the novel who tries to do something good gets in trouble in huge ways. With flying death-dealing dogs, a drowned girl who gets away, and a laptop computer as a weapon what else can I say?

Then on to When Will There Be Good News. This is the novel I read first. It didn’t hurt to do that except I would have enjoyed it much more if I’d read it third. In this novel a little girl named Joanna is walking in the country with her mother, sister and baby brother. A strange encounter turns her life inside out. Thirty years pass. Jackson Brodie is riding a train home until his ride ends dramatically. Little Reggie is a girl who is resourceful and full of life. All these people’s lives are on a collision course that seems so convoluted that you can’t imagine this is a work of fiction. These kinds of chance encounters happen in real-life. Sometimes we live to recover.

After reading When Will There Be Good News, I realized that I’d seen the movie. It isn’t called that but I can’t recall what the name of it is.

Lastly, Started Early, Took My Dog. In it the most unlikely thing is that Jackson gets a dog. It is so hilariously tragic in how he does it. After the last book and what happened to Jackson I couldn’t imagine that he would get beat up in this one but of course what would these books be like if he didn’t. However, he does get out of the altercation with less bruises this time. Of course his reputation doesn’t recover quite so quickly. There is a couple of tragedies in the character’s histories that make them do what they do – like stealing the girl. I especially loved the old woman who gets more and more muddled as the days pass. I kept thinking that she would be the spoiler. I kept hoping she would not be the spoiler. The way the book is written with one story weaving into another, and past and present and future all being melded into the strange quandary of what makes real life the way it is – brilliant.

So don’t get ahead of yourself like I did and read the books out-of-order. You’ll thank me for it.

A Fictional Short Story

English: A pice of chain link fence over some ...
English: A pice of chain link fence over some railroad tracks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Too much about diet details and I’m losing readers in droves, all three of them.


So here is a fiction story just for fun:




It might have been white once, but now the house was a flaky gray. It sat lopsided among the forest of trees next door. We’d only lived there a few weeks but my brother and I noticed the house right away. We wanted to know who lived there.


I wanted to climb the trees, build a fort, but how could I without knowing what kind of person lived there. Whether they minded or not. Wouldn’t want to go to all the trouble of building a mighty fort, only to have someone yell, or worse, tear it down. I had to know what we were up against.


My brother is a timid kind of kid. I let him hang with me but he isn’t what you’d call dependable in a fight, being the first to run away and all. But being the new kids on the block, and not knowing another soul our age, he was better than nothing.


“Stop laggin’ long behind me like a cat’s tail,” I said.


“Awwww – right,” he mumbled.


But my pep talk didn’t do any good, because he straggled along behind wherever we went, be it on foot or bike.


So with him at my elbow, I decided to re-con-noiter the next-door place. “What ‘at?” he asked when I told him what we were fixin’ to do. “It’s lookin’ to see what’s what,” I told him.


We snuck along the low fence between our two properties. We had a big wood fence along our back yard but that house had an old chain-link fence sagging this way an that, all the way from front to back of the property line.


In the deep green shadow of trees the little house seemed like a satisfied thing. It didn’t need anything or anybody. That’s how it made me feel when I studied it. It was satisfied. And creepy. I just had to know who lived there? And could we built a fort in their tree?


The trees were of the chinaberry kind. I think they’re really called tallow trees but that doesn’t make any sense at all. Why call a thing something it wasn’t when it had these real hard little seeds all over it that stung like fire if one was to get hit with one during a chinaberry war. We used to have wars in our old neighborhood. My brother never got hit much because he mostly used me as his shield but he had a good arm for throwing. I missed our old neighborhood even more thinking about it.


The yard next door hadn’t been mowed in I-couldn’t-tell-how-long, but the Queen Ann’s Lace was taller than me and there were patches of ragweed as tall as the old house where the sun struggled through the leaves and hit ground. Who would ever let their yard get into that kind ‘o condition was beyond me. There were some pretty things, too. Some red lilies encircled one tree up near the front of the house. The pungent wild onion were green, the shade so violent it hurt the eyes. We took a few days to watch the house.


It’s black eyes stared back.


Nothing was happening fast.


After two days of that, I said, “We’ve got to sneak around back.”


“What about dogs?”


“There’s no dog. We would-a heard it by now.”


“Well, er, cats?”


“What’s there to be scared o’ cats?” I know I sounded put out because he caved.


“Awwww – right.”


We snuck. Or is it sneaked? Whichever it was, we did it and ended up crawling through the worst-scratchin’ trap in the world. Some kind of vine with thorns as big as our noses kept us from getting through for some time but with perseverance and a little blood we made it. Of course, I went first so I got the most scrapes but that was okay because at least I had back-up.


First thing I noticed was it was just as shady and thick with weeds back here as in the front yard. Only here it was worse. There were paths through the ragweed, like the kind animals make. The only spot clear of vines and vegetation was the house. There was some kind of placard or sign on the back porch door. It was white with some letters in black that were too small to read from a distance so we crept up real close to see what it said. It was under a porch roof that somehow had lost some of its will to be a porch roof. It leaned down like it was protecting that back door from intruders. That’s what we were – intruders. So I was about convinced that roof was waiting for us to step closer before it collapsed and killed us.


“Okay, we’ve seen everything.” I stood tall. I’m not afraid. “Let’s go.”


“I want to see what the sign says.” He had that stubborn set to his jaw, like a terrier standing over a bone.


I nodded and inched closer. “Okay, just to read what it says.”


The door was shaded. Dark almost.


Little brother hung back while I took the two steps to the top of the porch. At the top I turned around and gave him my best glare. He shrugged and came up behind me.


So what did the sign say? It said, “I don’t eat fish. I don’t eat birds. I don’t eat anything on four legs.”


Well, after reading that I looked at Little Brother and saw his eyes go real wide just as I heard the creak of a door opening.


I don’t remember too much about flying off that porch, and scrambling through the thorns though I’m still nursing the cuts, and I don’t know if we tumbled across that chain-link fence or if I tossed Little Brother over first (which he says I did) and I don’t know how we got inside our house, lickety-split. But we did. And we’re safe. For now.


Our parents can’t understand why my brother and I choose to sit this summer out. We don’t care about the television or the computer. And forget about building forts in trees. We spend our time staring at the house next door from the safety of our upstairs window that overlooks it. We’re waiting. For what? For signs of life, maybe – or waiting to warn any other kids to keep away.


Because we know.


If you take out fish, and you take out birds, and you delete four-legged creatures, that only leaves two-legged creatures.


Just like us.


One note about the One Hundred Days to Health:


Don’t take and eat snacks at the gym. It’s like taking treats inside the dog park. Take notice – ladyinthepinktoponthetreadmill – we will attack for the snack.