A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

photo sent to me by Jaime Dobbs.
The stuffed dog rests on top of the garbage can. People waiting for the bus eye it curiously, but no one touches it. 

A man who is late for work misses the lip of the can, and his coffee sloshes over the dog's back, staining its fur. A crow pecks at the dog's hindquarters and carries away a hunk of stuffing in its beak. Someone deposits a wad of chewing gum onto the dog's ear.

Then it is night, and Lucita Gonzales is waiting for the bus. Her calves are throbbing and her feet are hot and swollen inside her shoes. She is returning home from her job cleaning office buildings while the city sleeps.

The bus is late. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other and takes a small foil wrapped candy from her purse. She unwraps the candy and pops it into her mouth. It tastes of coconut. Then she pulls out a stack of travel brochures and begins to leaf through them. Barbados. Puerta Vallarta. Fiji.

Lucita dreams about vacations. She likes to imagine herself  in a sun-drenched paradise. Sometimes when she's in an office building, staring out at the distant lights of the city, she pretends she is on a tropical island looking at the stars. 

Lucita notices a dark shape lying on top of the garbage can. She moves closer and can see it is a stuffed dog. The dog is ripped and covered in stains. She notices the hunk of chewing gum on its ear.

And though she knows the dog is just made of fabric and thread, Lucita can't help help but wonder what it dreams of. Surely not this.

Just before boarding the bus, Lucita picks up the dog and tucks it under her arm.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Neil Bling can't take his suit jacket off. Underneath his clothes, are little notes taped all over his skin. Whenever he forgets what to say, Neil ducks into the bathroom and lifts his shirt, or rolls up his pants. 

As the director of this film, Neil's expected to say a lot. They're behind schedule and the producer is riding him every chance he gets. Their star, Bonnie Bernard is spending most of the day boozing in her trailer, and that teenage delinquent, Pax Malone has already worked through three hairstylists. Neil's got to pull this picture together pronto. 

The memory loss stuff started a month ago. Neil was on his way to New York to meet with the executive producers, and while going through customs at the airport, he forgot his address. His mind just went blank, like a large white balloon. When he got home, he didn't tell Kate. How could he? She'd just worry.

Then a few days later, they were eating breakfast and he looked down and thought: "what's this metal thing in my hand called?" 

Spoon. 

Neil hasn't taken a sick day in thirty-five years. He's not about to start now. So he began writing notes to himself.

"What's the next set-up, Neil?" 
"You want us to get the Dad's POV next?" 
"Should we break for lunch, Mr. Bling?"
"What would you like for dinner, sweetie?"
"Do you think taupe is a better choice for the living room walls? Or would you prefer dusty mauve?"

Hang on folks. Be right back in a moment.

Neil is the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, stuffed with paper, not brains. And its been working, except today he's on set wearing that blazer in the August sun. He feels a trickle of sweat run beneath his shoulder blades. And then to his horror, he looks down to find a note with the words: "focus on character development," at his feet. 

The adhesive must be giving way in the heat. He makes for the bathroom as fast as he can, with little pieces of paper falling from his sleeves as he goes. 

In the bathroom stall, Neil sits on the closed toilet seat and holds his head in his hands. 

On the floor beside his shoe, a note says: "large depth of field." 

He takes out his cell phone and with shaking hands, makes a call to his wife. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Casual Fridays: Have you seen my nose?

Potato head by toyfoto.
Hi guys. It's Britt.
I'm hard at work on my submission for the Toronto Star Short Story Contest (deadline in two days--ack!), and so I don't have much blogging time today. Right now, my story is feeling a bit like a Mr. Potato Head that is put together wrong. Its eyeballs are in its guts. Its tongue is on the side of its head. I'm going to spend most of the day sorting out this little potato of mine. 
Course, sometimes having eyeballs in your guts is exactly right.
Britt

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Arnie found Gracie, the neighbour's missing cat. Instead of bringing her home, he kept her locked in his playhouse, and brought her kippers in a can and table scraps wrapped in a napkin. He stroked her soft grey fur and listened to the hum-tick sound of her purring. "You are mine now," Arnie whispered. 

In school, he drew pictures of Gracie in the margins of his notebooks. He planned to save up his allowance and buy her a red collar from Kibbles Pet Store. In the summertime, they would go down to the creek and catch fish. 

Tuesday, Arnie's twin older brothers stopped him on the way to his playhouse with his pockets were full of chicken bones and roast potatoes.

"You're up to something," Maverick said, "isn't he, Ice Man?" 

"Definitely. Something that needs a Punishing."

Arnie's legs turned to jelly. He lived in fear of their Punishments. His eyebrows still hadn't grown back in from the last one.

But this time, Arnie's thoughts were not on himself, but Gracie. "Who will feed her kippers, he wondered, when I am tied to the fence with a bucket on my head?" (These kinds of things were common elements of a Punishing.) 

It was then that Arnie knew he had to let Gracie go. And when he realized this, the same happiness filled him as did when he was petting her nice soft fur.

"What are you smiling for?" Maverick nearly spat. "Grab his legs, Ice Man."  

But Arnie's smile wouldn't budge. And that happy feeling didn't leave him, even when he was hanging from a tree branch with his shirt pulled over his head, waiting for his Dad to come home from work and cut him down.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Announcing the 200th Post Prize Winner!!!

Here is a re-enactment of my highly sophisticated selection process. 

1. Names were written on scraps of paper and folded.


2. In honor of our "Mountain Lion in a Skirt" theme, I decided to pick from my old work boot instead of a hat.

 
3. Name was chosen.


 AND THE WINNER IS...


Congratulations, Matthew!!

Thanks to everyone who entered my lil' contest. It was a real honor to discover some of the women you admire. And I can't tell you how much it means to me that you check out my blog. Have a Monday gooey with love, story-makers. See you back here on Wednesday. 
xo Britt 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Casual Fridays: Ouchie

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
I know I missed my Casual Friday post yesterday, but I can explain. See, this was me for most of the day:

Migraine!! I couldn't remember my name, much less write a charming little post about goals, as I'd intended. (Of course it would'a been charming. Of course.) I'm feeling better today, but there's still something behind me eye that is a bit like a beetle trying to burrow into my skull.  (How's that for charming?)

xo Britt 

Monday is the draw for the 200th Post Prize. If you haven't entered, go for it.
A bouquet of dreamy flowers from Coriander Girl? A dozen delicious cupcakes from The Sassy Lamb? A fabulously goofy book from author Alison Barber? Or a chance to breathe deeply with yoga teacher, Sarah Martens?

What on earth are you waiting for?!! Click here to enter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This is the third nose Davey's lost this month. He's gonna be put on probation. Instead of opening the show, he'll be mopping the lion's cage and scrubbing the elephant's behind.

Mrs. Spinks doesn't care that he's a genius on the unicycle, or that he's moved on from bowling pins to juggling barstools. It doesn't matter. What's a clown without his nose?

At the next table in the dressing room, Wilhelm the tightrope walker has his feet up on the counter, doing exercises to limber up his toes. Suzanna is beside him, combing her beard. Davey turns away from them so they won't notice something's wrong. These carnies will use it against him first chance they get. Everyone wants to be an opener.

It really wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for his Ma. Davey got her a special spot tonight, front row in the big top with room for her wheelchair. She'd wanted him to become a professional. She'd even enrolled him in business school without telling him, and bought all the textbooks. But Davey was born a clown. He is a clown in his guts and bones.

Except now that he's lost his nose, he can't perform.

He pictures the disappointed look on her face. He sees that mole on her chin with the grey hair move as she frowns. Oh, mole! Oh, Ma! 

Davey feels the tears come. He jumps from his dressing room seat and heads for the exit. Outside, he sits and begins to sob. Fat tears wet the front of his plaid polyester suit.

Then, along comes a small gust of wind. It's so light a breeze, it only ruffles Davey's wig slightly, but he looks up. And there on the ground beside him, is his nose.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Bob?"

"Yes, Rob?" 

"How come you get more butts than me?"

"Tell me you aren't starting this again." 

"No, really. I've been thinking." 

"Well, there's your first mistake." 

"Listen, Bob. There's something wrong with me. I'm flawed."

"You're not flawed. We're exactly the same. And I don't get more butts."

"Why do you gotta lie about it? Why can't you just say: "Yes, Robert. More people seem to prefer to rest their bottom on my particular seat." 

"You're unbelievable, Rob. Crazy as a porch swing. But not flawed."

"Bob, the postal man perches on you when he sorts the mail. The woman sits on you when she reads her How to Get What You Want book, and drinks her gin and tonic. And last week, you even got that guy who came to take her out for dinner and was early. Who did he sit on when he smelled his own armpits and tucked in his shirt? YOU. Jeeze, Bob. Even that horrible cat will scratch my legs and sniff my base, but he sleeps on you, not me. You get way more butts, and I am fundamentally flawed. Case closed."

"Okay, Rob. Fine. Here's our big chance to prove there's nothing wrong with you. The woman's ex-husband is coming this way. He's gonna sit while he waits for her daughter to come out of the house. So which one of us is it gonna be? Ha. Ha. I knew it, Rob, you old chunk of plywood. Her ex-husband picked you. So there goes your whole argument."

"Bob?" 

"Yes, Rob?" 

"I think you might be flawed."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Casual Fridays: Honest Gut

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
Honest Gut is something my Mom started when we were kids. When you answer an "honest gut" question, you have to be truly open and fearless.
What do you think? Are there ways you can be more honest in your life? 
Have an illuminating weekend, story-makers. Take care of those guts of yours, and I'll see you back here on Monday. 
xo Britt

p.s. If you haven't entered my 200th post contest yet, go on and do it!! You're crazy if you don't.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I don't got much in this world. Just what I can fit into my backpack. A blanket, two pairs of socks, a pocket knife, a jacket. And a picture of my dearly departed mother, Rose.

But I do have a pole. 

I made a sign that said: "sold," and taped  it to my pole so people would know it's mine. It's a nice pole, red and strong. Its got some crud on it, but nothing a little soap and water won't take care of.

I didn't exactly purchase the pole, so it can't really be classified as "sold." But then those settlers didn't exactly buy this country from the natives, now did they?

Mostly I like to lean on my pole and watch the world go by. I prop my foot up on it which I think makes me look real casual and friendly. Just a happy-go-lucky kind of guy.

I lied when I said what I got in my backpack. I have a few more things. A Father's Day card with a picture of some golf clubs on it, cause Sadie knew I liked to golf back then. And a ring. I've still got that damn wedding ring, though I should've pawned it a long time ago.

And these dice. I've got a pair of white dice. I like to take them out of my bag and hold them in my hands while I spend time at my pole. They remind me of something important. 

You want to know what that important thing is? 

Well, alright. I'll tell you. 

They remind me its possible to have everything you could want, and then just like that, lose it all.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cordelia was making tea when she had the idea. She looked down at her fat yellow teapot snug beneath its brown wool cozy. 

"Everything should have a cozy," she thought. So Cordelia began knitting. She made a cover for the kettle and one for the breadbox. She wrapped up her table and chairs, her lamps--even her toilet. 

When everything around Cordelia was encased in bright yarn, she moved out into the world. She covered door handles and mailboxes, lamp posts and stop signs. 

Hector the knife sharpener was a bitter man. Every day he drove his truck up and down the streets of their town, ringing his brass bell. People emerged from their houses, with their arms full of knives for him to sharpen. The people were like their knives, Hector thought, dull and blunt. 

He had constant headaches from the squeal of the grinder and the glare of sunlight on the blades. Hector was an expert sharpener, but even the best had accidents, and his hands were covered in scars. 

One morning, Hector turned onto Palmerston Avenue and discovered all of the lamp posts wrapped in wool. 

He pulled to a stop and took out his sharpest butcher knife. He lay the tip of the blade on the wool seam, preparing to split it open.

Then Hector heard a voice behind him.

"Wait." 

He turned and saw a small woman with big brown eyes. 

"Don't cut it," she said, "please." 

Then she touched his scarred hands, gently sliding the knife from his grip. And everything for Hector became hushed and soft.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

 Meyer was a literary toilet seat. Most of what he was exposed to was trash: 101 Knock Knock Jokes, old issues of Auto Trader, The Awesome Book of Lists for Guys. 

But Lenore, the bathtub knew the Classics, and she shared these stories with him. 

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." 

Meyer understood that. Especially when the renovation came. He was ripped from his bowl and deposited into the backyard, right on top of a broken birdbath. 

Things were bad in the backyard. Everyone out there was damaged and neglected. He could hear the cries of the one-eyed dolls and feel the quiet resignation of the piles of soggy magazines.

Meyer tried to strike up conversation, but no one would have anything to do with him. He vowed to stay positive: "Good morning everyone. Today is going to be a beautiful day."

"What do you know?" said a broom handle missing its broom, "you're just a toilet seat." 

Seasons passed. Rain fell on Meyer, and then snow. 

One day, when he could hardly remember what life had been like inside the house, Meyer began to tell himself stories.

The yard filed with tales of Mr. Darcy. Of the Great Gatsby. Holden Caufield. Bilbo Baggins travelled to the Misty Mountains. Atticus Finch searched for justice, and Captain Ahab was endlessly seeking his Great White Whale.

Meyer realised something amazing. Everyone was listening. All over the backyard, the piles of junk were captivated by the old toilet seat telling stories. When he stopped, someone cried: "More! More!" 

For the first time in a long time, Meyer was happy.