Tuesday, June 2, 2020

It Was a Dark and Stormy Writers Retreat on the Train

by Sherry Morris

“Ladies, please begin your daily writing. If you did not come prepared, or if your writing apparatus is packed in your luggage then help yourselves to one of the journals on the credenza. Pens and sharp pencils, too. No more chit-chat please. We need a silent and peaceful atmosphere for our muses to run wild and free.” Rosemary said.

I plodded over to the credenza and selected a very high-end journal bound in pink leather. I decided to use a pencil so I snatched a metallic gold number two. I gazed out the window at the cumulonimbus clouds layering themselves in the sky. It looked like rain.

I returned to my seat, opened the journal and wrote on the inside of the cover:

The Case of the Adorable Plumber 

By Dixie London 

At the top of the first page I wrote:

It was a dark and stormy afternoon in Fredericksburg, Virginia. More American lives had been lost here in the Civil War than in any other town in any other war. As I climbed out of my old brown pickup truck, thunder exploded like a cannonball…

I was surprised how easily the words spewed forth. Perhaps The Case of the Adorable Plumber might just be my break-out novel.

The clickty-clacking of the train, the white noise of the air circulating system and the sound of some of the other ladies typing orchestrated a very stimulating melody.

I was way into chapter three when my stomach began growling out loud. I really needed to get to those hors d’oeuvres. I glanced at Tinker Bell. 5:41. I shook her pixie dust as I stood and pushed my chair under the table. “Do we select our own rooms?” It felt good to stretch my legs. I wiggled my toes inside my sneakers.

Rosemary and the other writers looked up and then checked their watches. “My, how time flies when you are lost in your own little personal writing bubble. All right, ladies, I think we should wrap it up now.” She sorted through some papers on the table. “I have a list here. The crew has delivered your luggage to your compartments.” Rosemary shuffled papers. “Sandra Compartment A. Wendy is in B. Betty you get Compartment C. Pat…”

Great! We each get private rooms. Or broom closets. I wondered how large and opulent they were. As Rosemary droned on with our room assignments, images of castle bedchambers danced in my mind. Yeah, I knew we were on a train and only so much can be done in limited space but still I had high hopes.

“Your rooms are right through the door near where you came in.” Rosemary motioned toward it. “Make sure you grasp the handrails in the vestibule between the train cars. We don’t want anyone getting injured here on the GOOS Express, now do we…?”

When she finally finished, I blurted, “Where are the hors d’oeuvres?”

“They are in the last car. In the parlor area next to the restroom. Help yourselves. I do hope you like the selections.” Rosemary flashed her porcelain white teeth stained with fuchsia lipstick.

That was the cue for everyone to give her their deepest gratitude. We did. Then we headed for our compartments.

I stepped into mine. Darn. It wasn’t a fairytale castle bedchamber. But the retro Art Deco opulence was very tasteful.

It had mahogany paneled walls, a brass sconce and a little oscillating fan up in the corner near the ceiling. There was a small wash basin and mirror near the pocket aisle door. A wall-length oval window on the outside wall was flanked with a plush red velvet arm chair and a large red velvet sofa which apparently converted into a bed at night. The light scent of roses wafted in the air. Rosemary was great with details.

My duffle bag was stuffed almost under the sofa. I noticed an unfamiliar tapestry carpet bag stowed upon a shelf above the chair my cooler was tucked under. A newspaper stood crisply folded in a vertical holder on the window and two bottles of water glistening with condensation beckoned in the cup holders.

I counted three doors.

I smiled and tried the door apparently leading into the next compartment. Locked. Good. I didn’t need Weepy Wendy boo-hooing in at all hours. I opened the closet door. There was a stepladder folded inside. I shut the door.

I rubbed my arms and glanced up at the little fan. I’d have to figure out where to switch it off.

I pivoted and opened the bathroom door. And screamed.

So did the lady sitting on the toilet.

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