Michelle W. said ~ Write a post that includes dialogue between two people — other than you. (For more of a challenge, try three or more.)

 Unknown

I pick up my sister, just off her ER shift, in the cruiser. As we leave the hospital lot, the dispatcher’s voice cuts in. “There might be trouble out at old Pritchard’s place. Better go have a look.”

“Take the Wilderness Road,” my sister says, “it’s shorter, and park just past the Savage River Bridge.”

Path in Tremont_email

We follow the overgrown path, littered with chunks of granite and uncut marble, up to the house. A slab of quarry stone, its edges covered with moss like a five o’clock shadow, leans against the porch.

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An old man sits on the stoop, intently filing a square-raised chisel. A grimy light casts a web of shade over his face like a mask. His eyes slide sideways in our direction.

Old Man Sleeping on Porch

“Evenin’, Pritchard. Remember me? Jonah’s boy? And this my sister, the nurse who used to stop in to check on your wife.  You made the headstone when our Ma passed.”

Pritchard nods.

“Ay-uh,” he says, his voice aged in grain alcohol. I peer past his closed face into a dim hallway that smells of hazelnut and regret.

Behind us tires chew on gravel, a car door slams. The hearse spits out Enoch, the funeral director. “Evening, Officer. Ma’am.”

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Enoch leans against the jaundiced railing. “I come to leave an order with Pritchard. He don’t hear so good on the phone anymore. Nuthin’ wrong, I hope?” Enoch nods in Pritchard’s direction.

“You come here often?” I ask.

“Yeah, I try,” Enoch says. “Pritchard ain’t been right since his wife passed. Died too young, she did. Bless her soul, now there was a gentle woman. Never complained a day in her life, just took care of him and Ruth, that ingrate daughter of theirs. That girl done broke her mother’s heart. Pritchard don’t much like Ruth coming by. Last time I was out here, Ruth blew in with her fancy coffee and a string of curse words. Always after Pritchard about his drinking. Put him down ‘cause he never made a headstone for his wife’s grave.”

“Ruth been around lately?” my sister asks. “Word is she’s a woman who could bring the devil to his knees.”

“She was just here this morning. I was on the phone with Pritchard, we’re talking about this here order, and I hear her yelling. Useless old man, drinking yourself to death, expecting me to do everything for you. You ain’t done nuthin’ for me. Or Ma. You ain’t even made a stone for her. I can’t hold up my head in these parts ‘cause of you.

“She’s mighty tetchy, that one,” Enoch says.

My sister stays with Pritchard while I take a look in the hall. In a small pool of light, blood leaks from the torso of a woman. Out on the stoop, the rasp of the file grates the stark silence.

House1toni 2/2/14  (with thx to Patty for educating me on point of view)

9 thoughts on “DAILY PROMPT: GROUPTHINK

  1. Excellent work here. I love how the dialogue brings out the personalities of the characters. You made such good use of accents too. The pictures add to the story very well. It was a pleasure reading.

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    1. Much credit to blogging buddy Patty for her keen eye and gray matter. This used to be a long short story, mostly stuffed with how stone makers operate, etchings on tombstones, etc., very little action, and you might say, boring. Go ahead, I said it, it’s ok. My writing group listens ever so politely. 🙂 however, on this we can agree – it was so not Alice Munro-esque.
      Toni

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      1. Its inspirational to hear that blogging has helped you, hone your writing talents. Kudos also to your writing group.
        P.S.- Pretty sure Alice Munro will be proud of your work too.

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  2. I’ve loved the story of Pritchard since its infancy. It leaves behind a knot of emotion that is the hallmark of great story-telling. Brava, Toni.

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