Red River Valley – Stories 2 & 3

THE SECOND STORY in the Red River Valley Trilogy takes place within a year of the first. It is set in Manitoba in the early Seventies.

A Vile Insinuation  At a bordertown baseball tournament, several young Canadians meet a ballplayer from the States. The issue of the Vietnam war and the draft comes up. The boys, from Hartplatz, a largely Mennonite village not far from the border, speculate on how life could have changed had their forefathers chosen to re-settle in the USA instead of Canada.

“So, it’s a low draft number. I’m going to Vietnam, unless the war ends, ya know,” Marty finished the thought, and his beer. “They are already in the eighties now. I’ll be called up almost right away after my birthday. You betcha’.”

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We were quiet for a minute. “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple drifted across the beer garden from a boom box near the bar.

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“What song is that?” said Marty.

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“You said your Mom was a Menno from Winkler, right?” Cornie asked, ignoring Marty’s question.

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The last installment of the Red River Valley Trilogy takes place in the present. The characters from the ball tournament have aged. (Or, they may have aged.) One of them is facing a situation he had hoped to avoid.

In Without Reason, the concepts explored in the preceding stories are tested and re-evaluated.

He loved that old truck. Dietrich had it just the way he wanted it. His one prideful excess – Lord knows he could afford it – was the retro Cragar chrome mags. There were two other customizations: he had one handle from a favourite pair of ski poles as the knob on the stick shift lever. Also, the kids had given him a Reggie Jackson autographed number 44 Louisville Slugger bat. He had mounted a gun rack in the rear window for the lovely wood bat to reside, riding shotgun with him on the still streets of Hartplatz.

I hope you enjoy these stories and I would love to hear your thoughts. Your perspective may be entirely different than mine and there may be things about the incidents that you can refocus. I welcome critical comment. (Honest!)

Even if these stories are not your bowl of borscht, CommuterLit is a wonderful – free – resource for readers. Give it a try!

In the future, if my stories pass this ezine’s strict editorial scrutiny, I hope to have more work published on CommuterLit! For a linked list of my published pieces:  http://en.gravatar.com/mitchtoews

…allfornow – Mitch

 

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016

 

 

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The Red River Valley Trilogy

I started submitting to literary journals, both print and online, in February of 2016. It was while we were on a vacation in Curacao and I concentrated on writing, windsurfing and Heineken. The first time my fiction was published online was when Editor Nancy Kay Clark accepted my three-part trilogy, “The Red River Valley Trilogy” for inclusion on Toronto-based CommuterLit.

CommuterLit.com is a literary ezine for readers on the go. It delivers to readers a new story or poem each work day that can be read on their mobile devices.

Here are a few author’s notes on the three interrelated stories that ran on consecutive days on CommuterLit this July.

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“Encountered on the Shore” Following a reckless youth, with more than my portion of a false sense of indestructibility, I have come to wonder about the presence of guardian angels. So often, catastrophes were avoided – no matter how foolish my actions were in bringing them on in the first place. In fact, it almost seems that bad news is a harbinger of good news, if you can just hold fast and not lose your nerve as you round the cape of bad fortune.

“Where, here quiet, awaits my guardian angel?”  from Encountered on the Shore

I did some research on the various beliefs concerning guardian angels and some of this went into this story, which was based on a true occurrence from my past. I don’t know if there was an angel interceding back then, on Portage Avenue, but I like to think there was.

The idea of guardian angels is ancient and widespread and is present in many religions and cultures. Guardian angels are often associated with telltales like: birds, bright colours, double digits and the ringing of bells, à la Jimmy Stewart. These heavenly agents are said to assume very beautiful or very unusual and physically powerful mortal forms.

Wings, of course, are a big part of the Christian doctrine concerning guardian angels.

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“Jackpot on Page Fifty-Five”  In this tale of unintended consequences, the protagonist is a struggling writer named Chap Buque. In desperation, on the heels of the bottom half of a bottle of Jack, Chap sends a rambling, late night email/rant to her publisher. In it, she describes a plan to include a coupon entitling the bearer to a $10 mail-in REBATE on the cost of the book. “It works for Benjamin Moore and Home Depot,” she reasons drunkenly, taking examples from the never-ending home renovation project that consumes her day & night, pulling her away from writing.

Communications fail and the coupon is bound into the book. Well, the promotion takes off like a summertime comic book movie and Chap and her hapless publisher are left holding the bag, seeing as the book ends up selling for $7.50 CAD on Amazon. (HINT: An Arts Council Grant may come to the rescue.)

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Huh? In truth dear reader – and I do mean dear! – this is just a tease to see if anyone is actually reading this blog. Like Chap’s home reno, I am taking time away from “real” writing to produce this humble web log, so is it worth it? Is my blog busting through the literary clutter of the titanic internet and the million-or-so other blogs out there?

Does my guardian angel read my blog?

Is Chap not a great name for a woman?

Sorry… to be clear, “Jackpot on Page Fifty-Five” IS NOT part of the trilogy. A bit disrespectful to you who have read this far — but I wanted to see if anyone was actually, you know, out there. So, I made up this storyline as a kind of “read herring”. To tell you the truth, I now find the premise kind of interesting and want to write it! (The Adventures of Ms Buque!)

I will sign off right now and return with more about the other two, REAL instalments of the trilogy. Be sure to read them, and many other wonderful stories and poems from around the world, on CommuterLit!

  1. Encountered on the Shore 1,425 words – the kindness of strangers
  2. A Vile Insinuation 1,665 words – a call to arms
  3. Without Reason 1,389 words – do things really happen for a reason?

…allfornow – Mitch

 

 

Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016