Ordinary Thoughts, Essays and Short Stories

Month: March 2023

Those All-Important Final Words


I’m not one to wax philosophical – mainly because my brain simply doesn’t run that deep – but I do find myself contemplating various topics now more than I used to. 


For instance, I recently saw the obituary for yet another high school classmate. It was a loving tribute highlighting his talents and accomplishments, and it was clear that he’ll be missed by many. It got me thinking because, the older I get, the more these little mortality reminders pop up. My classmates and I are at that age where many of us have lost our parents and are now the patriarchs or matriarchs of our families. Retirement is our new way of life, and the probability of looking sexy in a bathing suit has gone out the window for a good number of us. We may still feel young mentally – I know I do – but our bodies are starting to argue the point. Personally, I’ve redefined the phrase “I’m in the prime of my life” to mean, when I sit down on the floor, I can still maneuver myself into a standing position again without having to call for backup.


Thinking about classmates who have essentially moved on reminds me of a song by Paul Simon called The Obvious Child. It became a favorite of mine when it was released over 30 years ago because it was catchy and had an infectious beat. It also told a story although, back then, I didn’t relate to it much. I just liked the way it sounded. But listening to it now elicits more than just the urge to groove to the music. The song highlights a middle-aged man who’s looking through his high school yearbook and thinking about how life has changed from then to now. I don’t consider it a sad song, but it does serve as a testament to the fact that time passes, lives get lived, and things may or may not turn out as we’d hoped or planned.


Side Note: Talking about that high school yearbook brings back a less-than-stellar moment in my own young life when, at some point in my twenties, I was humiliated by an incident that involved a former classmate. I didn’t even know the person very well, but my ego was bruised to the point that, on a foolish whim, I vandalized my own senior yearbook by tearing out the page containing her photo. This actually resulted in multiple pages being ripped out because of the way the book was bound, and the whole thing was a rather uncharacteristic tantrum on my part. The offending incident itself isn’t important anymore, and my humiliation is all but forgotten, but I’ll never get those yearbook pages back. And that makes me sad because they contained pictures of a lot of other people who did not deserve to be tossed aside. I’ve only had a few regrets throughout my life, but that is definitely one of them.


Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Long ago, I used to make fun of my parents because so many of their conversations seemed to center around which of their friends was sick, in the hospital, or on a slab. Okay, they weren’t quite as indelicate as that, but you get my drift. It’s not that they didn’t have less macabre topics to discuss – they certainly had other interests – but my folks didn’t turn a blind eye to what was happening around them. Their circle of friends and acquaintances had begun to slowly get smaller and, as time went on, that sense of dwindling picked up speed. They were at that not-so-magical age where slipping from this realm to the next was becoming more and more common.


These days, when I see obituaries for my classmates, it hits me – yet again – that I really am turning into my parents. They were probably about the age I am now when I first noticed how often they talked about the decline – or demise – of someone they knew. Hearing about the passing of my own classmates now is like being initiated into the club my parents belonged to 30 years ago. I won’t be so crass as to call it the One Foot in the Grave, the Other on a Banana Peel Club – mainly because the majority of my peers aren’t anywhere near the end of the line – but we can’t hide from the fact that none of us is getting any younger, and the inevitable is…well…inevitable.


As sad as I am for the families of my friends who have passed away, there is something almost joyful in reading about the lives their loved ones led. No matter what or how much was accomplished during that person’s time on earth, the tributes are generally heartwarming and full of love. That doesn’t happen simply because the grieving family feels compelled to say something nice. It happens because the one who died left something miraculous behind. They left a part of themselves in everyone they crossed paths with. And unless the deceased was a downright-dirty-lowlife-curmudgeon, the part they left behind was a sort of gift…a way to always be around even after they’d gone.


When I think about those beautiful tributes, I can’t help but wonder what sort of sentiments I’ll leave behind. My introverted self isn’t always comfortable engaging with others but, more often than not, it’s a social necessity. When I find myself in those situations, I try to be connected and kind and, yes, even humorous. That’s because it’s important to me to make some sort of tiny, positive impact if I can. Nothing pleases me more than the idea that, on occasion, I may have had a hand in making someone smile. It isn’t a monumental thing, but it is something.


As far as what might be said about me in remembrance, I know I won’t be hailed for any major accomplishments because, in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t accomplished anything particularly major. And that’s okay. Lots of us have managed to be quite useful and significant even if we’ve lived our lives under the radar.


So, when the time presents itself – hopefully very far off in the future – I figure my obituary will be simple and succinct. Perhaps something along the lines of:


She made people laugh.

Sometimes on purpose.


Yeah. I could live with that. Well…maybe not live exactly but, again, you get my drift.


Here’s a little rhythmic gift. Enjoy!

Care to Share?

A Year Under the Belt

I think a lot about the passage of time. Not in a maudlin way – I’ve learned not to dwell on lost opportunities – but in that wistful “Where did the time go?” fashion. One day you’re going about your business, doing this or feeling that, and then you blink and it’s 5, 10…20 years later.


Even though I retired in 2020, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. Those years have really flown by. When I look at my little girls, I wonder how on earth they became middle-aged women. (No offense, sweeties.) And it recently dawned on me that this blog has been live for a full year. Seems like only yesterday I was cursing all those online gurus who prattled on about how easy it was to create a website and start a blog. The first thing I learned during that whole process was that the concept of “easy” is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Or, in this case…the be-doer.


But I did manage to do it, so…Happy Birthday to The Quotidian Scribe! This has been the outlet for writing that I’d hoped it would be and, even when I stress myself out by putting things off until right before the deadline, I’m still enjoying the ride. In the beginning, there was a part of me that figured it wouldn’t last half this long. Turns out I apparently don’t know when to rein myself in, so it’s still going. The following essay is proof of that.


Like I said earlier, my thoughts about the fleeting aspect of time aren’t usually downers, but I suppose the essay you’re about to read might be construed as a bit maudlin by some. It’s not intended to be that at all, though. It’s just a reflection of where my thoughts sometimes take me when it comes to this current phase of life.


Click the button below to read Those All-Important Final Words.

Care to Share?

Darcy’s Dastardly Deed


A study in professional perfection, Darcy stands before the elevator doors. Holding a supple leather bag against her tailored suit, she gently taps her right toe against the marble tile. The Italian pump makes tiny, rhythmic clicks while her beautifully chiseled features mask her agitation. It takes great restraint not to bolt for the stairs.

Darcy hopes no one notices her fidgeting. Chances are, no one does. Most people wouldn’t pay much attention to one businesswoman waiting for an elevator in a high-rise. There are a dozen offices on this floor alone, and she could have come from any one of them.

Waiting for the elevator to arrive, she allows her thoughts to drift back to the events that brought her to this point.


Earlier that day, Darcy settled in behind her desk to check her messages. There was only one, but the hair stood up on the back of her neck as she listened to the hostility pouring from the voice of her husband’s best friend. His message was brief but clear.

“I know what’s been going on and I’m not gonna let you make a fool of Pete. I plan on telling him everything, but first I want to hear what you have to say for yourself. Call me.”

Darcy rose from her chair and walked slowly over to the window. Staring out across the city, she pondered the implications. So, he knew. She really shouldn’t be surprised. She was, after all, fooling around with one of his associates. Stupid on her part, for sure, but what was done was done. Time for a little damage control.

Walking back to her phone, Darcy dialed his number from memory. When he answered, she said meekly, “Alex, it’s me. Don’t say anything, just listen. I got your message and, you’re right, we do have to talk about this. I don’t know if it will do any good, but I need to try and make you understand. I’ll be there in an hour.” She hung up before he had a chance to respond.

Darcy then called her secretary and said she’d be holed up in her office for the remainder of the day and was not to be disturbed under any circumstances. Grabbing her tote bag, she made her way down the back hall to the company lab. Luckily, it was lunchtime, and the staff was nowhere to be seen. Opening and closing various unlocked cabinets – their internal security wasn’t the finest – she soon found what she needed.

Taking the back stairs to the basement, Darcy slipped through the shadows and softly opened the maintenance manager’s door. As usual, he was leaning back in his chair and snoring to beat the band. She was able to sneak over to his tool bench and grab what she wanted without him so much as changing his rhythm.

Traffic was light and she made it to Alex’s building sooner than expected. When Darcy exited the elevator on his floor and started down the hall, she could see through the glass doors that his reception area was empty. Feeling rather charmed, she darted around the secretary’s desk and tiptoed down the short corridor to Alex’s office. The door was ajar, and he was on the phone with his back to her. She stepped in quietly and closed the door, careful not to let the latch click. Just as she was reaching into her bag, Alex turned around. He nearly dropped the receiver as he was hanging up.

“Hey! How long have you been standing there? Why’s the door shut?”

“Relax, Alex, I just got here.” Gesturing toward the door, she said, “Considering the delicate subject matter, I prefer your secretary not overhear. She wasn’t at her desk, so I just came on back. Please…I hope you don’t mind.”

The uncharacteristic softness in her demeanor seemed to throw him off a little. “Uh, no…no, it’s fine. You just startled me, that’s all.”

Darcy stood just inside the door and smoothed the side of her hair with a shaky hand. “Alex, would it be okay if I sit down? I’m a little nervous about this. I’m sure you can understand that.”

“Of course,” he said, gesturing to one of the guest chairs. “Look, Darcy…this isn’t easy for me, either. But Pete and I go back to when we were kids, and I’m just looking out for him.” Alex seemed to relax a little when she dabbed her eyes with a tissue. “I don’t want to be a hard ass about this, but something’s got to give.”

Darcy let out a heavy sigh and nodded. “You’re absolutely right. He deserves better. A lot better. I don’t know what I’ve been thinking lately. I’m coordinating a new research project that’s got me under a lot of pressure and, with all of Peter’s late meetings, we hardly see each other anymore. I guess I was looking for some way to vent my frustrations. But, believe me, Alex, I know that doesn’t justify an affair.” Dabbing her eyes again, she went on, “For what it’s worth, I’ve broken it off, and I really do want to make our marriage work. I just don’t know if that’ll be possible if you tell Peter what I’ve done. He’ll never forgive me and, in the end, he’ll be miserable, too.”

Darcy got up and walked around Alex’s desk to look out the window. Keeping her back to him, she held the bag in front of her and slipped her hand inside.

Alex came over and stood next to her. “This is a side of you I’ve never seen before. Listen, I know we’re not exactly close, but maybe I haven’t given you a fair shot. I’d like to change that.”

Smiling slightly, Darcy turned and hugged him. Just as he was releasing her, she jammed the needle deep into his neck. A slight gurgling sound was all he managed as he sank to the carpet. His stupefied look caused her smile to widen.

“Alex, Alex, Alex…I feel it’s my duty to tell you that you really should be more careful about who you trust. But don’t worry. The effects only last about an hour, and this won’t take nearly that long. Of course, if you’re still mentally in the here and now when this stuff wears off, you’ll wish you were dead. At the very least, you’ll wish you’d stayed out of my business.” She wasn’t sure he could even hear her at this point – it was an extremely powerful paralytic, after all – but she kept talking. “You know, Alex, you’re not a horrible person, and I kind of hate having to do this. But…sadly…you gave me no alternative.”

Darcy reached inside the bag once again and, this time, pulled out surgical gloves, a disposable coverall, a scalpel, and a bolt cutter. After donning the coverall and snapping on the gloves, she knelt down and thought she saw a gleam of terror in Alex’s eyes as she leaned closer to…


 DING!” The elevator doors open just as a woman’s piercing scream travels down the hall from the vicinity of Alex’s office. With a hint of a smile, Darcy enters the elevator.

Back on the main floor, she strolls to the restroom and goes in, locking the door behind her. Lucky for her, Alex was old-school enough to use a paper calendar. From inside her bag, she draws out the page that has her name scribbled on it, crumples it up, and tosses it into the toilet. The coverall and implements of destruction are stowed inside a large zip-lock baggie that she’ll dump on the way back to work, but there are a few other items she decides to discard before leaving the building. Reaching back into her bag, Darcy pulls out a second baggie, mentally inventorying the contents as she drops each item into the toilet. She hits the flush lever and purses her lips as she watches eight fingers, two thumbs, two eyeballs, one tongue, and one nose swirl swiftly out of sight.

That last souvenir wasn’t particularly necessary, but she simply couldn’t resist. Including it with all the others gives her a great deal of satisfaction. There are those who would disagree with her assessment, but Darcy doesn’t consider herself a monster. No, not at all. If anything, she’s a public servant. Because of her diligence in leaving no stone unturned, Alex will not be sticking his nose into anyone else’s business ever again.


Care to Share?

The Importance of Staying in Your Lane

The short story you’re about to read is pretty far out of my comfort zone. It may be out of yours, too. If that’s the case, I’ll apologize upfront.

Without giving too much away, I’ll just say this little vignette differs greatly from my usual tales that tend to have rather feel-good endings. It’s what you might call “light horror,” and it details what happens when a well-meaning friend inserts himself where he isn’t welcome.

While I generally don’t mind sharing my mental space with the characters in my stories, I prefer the woman in this one never darkens my cerebral door again. She’s not exactly what I’d consider friend worthy.

Click the button below to read Darcy’s Dastardly Deed.

Care to Share?