Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Haunted Tale for Halloween

I wrote this little tale for a critique group meeting. After searching for something to write, my eyes fell on my old typewriter. Ah ha! I could write a haunted typewriter tale. But, no. It's been done and done well by masters of horror. I could, however, write one with my own spin. So what follows is my take on the haunted typewriter story. Hope you enjoy this tale of a typewriter inhabited by a dead soul with a sense of humor...

The Perils of an Antique Typewriter

Tuesday (Mac Journal)
Tomorrow’s the day I get to pick up the old typewriter from the repair shop! It was a bargain on e-bay. I paid fifty bucks for a beat-up beauty from 1888. At least, that’s the date on the metal plate barely hanging on the front of it. The repairman’s been working on it for a couple of weeks and it’s finally finished! Tomorrow, I’m going to start working on my next horror novel. It’s the sixth one based in merry old England of Jack the Ripper days and I’ve been getting e-mails from fans for months asking when the next one’s coming out. Life is good!

Wednesday morning (Mac Journal)

My newly restored Bar-Lock is sitting on my desk with my computer. It looks like a black mechanical spider next to my sleek Mac. I know it’s crazy to write a novel on a typewriter, especially an antique one, but I think I can really immerse myself in the period this way. Can’t wait to start writing about the evil lurking in the dark alleys of London!

First paragraph (Bar Lock)

He watched from the shadow, lamplight a dull flicker on the cobblestone street as the carriage picked up the young woman he had been following. The disappointment at losing his prey at the last minute…

Oh, how I love the meadow in the morning!
The delicate filigree of yellow and white arrayed in splendor
above and through the towering green grasses that part
as I wander through golden bolts of sunlight.

(What the hell? I’ll just keep going…)

The echo of his boots resounded on the stone walls of the damp, narrow alley as…

The cherry lips of my love smile as she rises from slumber
her golden hair a nimbus of curls that slip through my fingers
Ah love, I doth live to see you awaken in
the cool chill of morning.
Thou art my world.

Wednesday afternoon (Mac Journal)

I’m not quite sure what the problem is with typing my novel on this typewriter. I keep trying to type the novel and when I look up, it’s spouting poetry. POETRY! I DON’T WRITE POETRY! I write gritty horror novels. I just don’t understand. I’m taking a break. I called Jessie and I’m heading out for a beer. Maybe tomorrow my fingers, or this typewriter, will cooperate.

Thursday morning (Mac Journal)

I’ve been sitting here studying the Bar Lock while sipping my steaming coffee. The smell rising from the mug makes everything seem normal. Even the Bar Lock. It sits there on my desk, ivory keys gleaming, metal framework reflecting the bright morning sun pouring through the office window. Next to it, paper sits in a neat stack and my newly sharpened pencils fill the lopsided pot from my niece’s last art class. I’ve had three cups as I debate whether to try again. I just can’t figure out what’s going on.

Tuesday morning (Bar lock)

The fiend towered above his victim, her tattered, dirty blue skirt spread on the pavement crushed beneath his knees. He wished she were still conscious. It was so much more interesting when they were….

There once was a fine lady from Paris
Whose mirror claimed she was the fairest
Her hair in curls rose above
with two sparrows and a dove
‘til the cat leapt and she fell off a terrace.

 (Oh my god!)

…aware of what they were about to experience.  The

There once was a man from London
who tried to eat a whole hot cross bun
but it broke in two
and fell on his shoe
and the poor, hungry man left a’grumblin’.

Thursday morning (Mac Journal):

I can’t do it. I can’t write on that damn machine! Now it’s limericks. LIMERICKS! There are NO limericks in horror stories. NONE. It’s NOT DONE! I know I’ve got a prescription for valium in the kitchen. Where the hell is it??

Thursday afternoon (Mac Journal)

Ok. Much calmer now. I must have been dreaming or something. Did I write that stuff myself? Did the Bar Lock do it? Am I going nuts? Is it me or the machine? I’m going to try the Bar Lock one more time. If it does it again, it’s going to just sit there or maybe I’ll put some flowers in it or maybe I’ll just take it down to the pawn shop before it infects the Mac with whatever’s going on.

Thursday afternoon (Bar Lock)

His hands covered with blood, he stood up from his evil handiwork and…

There once was a man from Nantucket..

-The End-

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Have I Got a Deal for You!

Part of the fun of being a relatively new author is finding out just how much fun stuff there is to do! For example, I've been on Goodreads for quite some time. I first joined to get information on books I'd heard about. Then I discovered the "History is Not Boring" group. Conversations about all aspects of history and discussions about history books. Ahhh! History geek heaven!

I listed my first book on Goodreads and thought that was pretty much all there was to do. When my new book was published, I listed that, too. But, wait! Not so fast, little one...

This week, I stepped up and offered my new book, "Growing Up in Northern Palm Beach County: Boomer Memories from Diary Belle to Doubleroads" as a giveaway. Yes, YOU can join Goodreads and enter giveaways to your heart's delight - for my book as well as several other offerings! FREE!

So, come on over. Sign up and start entering--for my book as well as the others. The life of a book addict just got better! Pass the word!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Growing Up in Northern Palm Beach County by Ruth Hartman Berge

Growing Up in Northern Palm Beach County

by Ruth Hartman Berge

Giveaway ends November 01, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When the Palm Beach Mall was King

The Wonderfall!
            Before 1967, we shopped in the little stores along Northlake Avenue or downtown in West Palm Beach. I remember how exciting it was as a child to head to the Burdines store downtown.  Originally opened in West Palm Beach in 1925, the store closed in the 1930s and re-opened in the location I remembered in 1941. Nothing was as fun as going to dine in the Burdines restaurant with my mom.  There were fashion shows where models walked among the tables modeling the newest fashions while we ate meals that could have been served in any four-star restaurant.

            But in 1967, the shopping habits of Palm Beach County residents changed for good. That’s the year the Palm Beach Mall opened on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard next to I-95.  It was the largest mall in the Southeast United States.  Burdines followed in 1979. The restaurant was moved, too, but it was never the same.

            Palm Beach Mall became the “in” place to shop. We always saw someone we knew as we strolled on terrazzo floors in the air conditioning.  In the very center of the mall was one of the most unusual fountains I have ever seen. Called The Wonderfall, it was made of strands of string. Standing proudly in front of Jordan Marsh between two bridges, the strands ran from the ceiling to a fountain where the strands disappeared.  Drops of water slid down the strands, sparkling in the spotlights. We often chose that spot to sit with a soda just so we could watch in fascination.

            The Mall was still going strong when I was in high school in the late 1970s. It was still the social magnet for the county. Once we had our drivers’ licenses, we found every excuse possible to head there. It was the JCPenney diner that became our favorite place to eat.

Every Christmas season, the Mall was decorated beautifully and Santa sat in splendor. Bleachers were erected on the terrazzo outside the mall entrance to Jordan Marsh where high school choirs from all over the county took turns performing songs of the season. After the North Shore High School choir was finished performing, we raced down to Orange Julius for a slice of pizza and a soda.

            It was in the Mall theaters that we saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Saturday Night Fever.

            It was at the JCPenney jewelry counter that my wedding rings were purchased on what truly was one of the most exciting and fun days of my life.

            The last time I was at the Mall was in the late 1990s. No longer lined with an array of fun shops, it seemed a shadow of its former glorious self. Dillards was the first major store to close in 2008. In the years since, stores closed and were replaced, but it just never seemed to regain the panache it had in the early decades. It was 2010 when it was announced that everything but JCPenney, Firestone and George’s Music would close. The Mall would become a ghost town.  

            Now everything has been demolished to make way for the Palm Beach Outlets. The newest experience in outlet shopping opened in February, 2014. I have yet to go, but I will. I expect it to be an odd feeling--much like walking Clematis has been.

            Those of us who grew up thinking heading to the Mall was a big deal have been missing it since the renovations started in 1980.  For us, it was a tragedy when that incredible fountain was removed in 2000.

              I wonder how hard it would be to construct a Wonderfall in my living room?