Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Don't pursue happiness; create it.

The DeFiorini sisters - three of them - waited anxiously by the rail, scanning the crowd, hoping to glimpse a familiar face. The sun was setting and the ship was set to sail on the evening tide.

On every deck, crew members scurried to ready the liner for departure. A steward slipped into one stateroom and delivered three envelopes, addressed in spiky handwriting that would have been instantly recognizable to Francesca and Michaelina and Puff. It would be sometime yet before the missives were discovered.

In a salon at the Hotel Garamond, Montgomery Fortescue McTavitt gave up his wait. It would be sometime yet before he opened the safe in his suite to find it now contained a pair of snakeskin boots in place of a stack of negotiable securities.

In the square, only Clarice and Neville were present when the cloaked figure appeared, gave one backward glance in the direction of the harbor, crossed to the auto, and slid into the passenger compartment. It would be sometime yet before they noticed anything but each other.

The thrum of the powerful engine stirred the starlings from their nighttime roosts, but soon it faded as the car headed away from the ship, the hotel, and the old port town.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Always a Jack

The was always a Jack at the Hotel Garamond, from the first.

Some of the Jacks were suave; the twins, romance and heartbreak, often traveled in their wake.

Some of the Jacks were scruffy; Garamond guests often discovered that the very person they'd snubbed in the lobby was the one responsible for allocating rooms, both pleasant and not.

Some of the Jack were even somewhat scary; generally these were the ones most generous to the down and out of the old port town.

Not all of the Jacks were men, but all of the Jacks were smart. And every one had the most astonishing eyebrows.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Where the bodies are buried

Whether it was Jack and the Twigleys who (in saving themselves that dark and stormy night) or the black sheep Armbrewster McTavitt and even blacker sheep Melvinster Garamond who (in losing the wine, the remains of the ship, and nearly their skins cheating at the card table (very likely)) served as the foundation of the legendary Hotel Garamond, one thing was certain: There had always been a Jack.

Through the long years of Hotel history, many famous and infamous visited; some even called it home for a while. And every Jack, whether suave, scruffy, or scary, made it the business of the Jack to know each visitor, his or her entourage and foibles, and most importantly, the exact nature of any skeletons in the …. well, you know…

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A different explanation altogether

The wine survived, of that there is no doubt. And Jack Primero and the Twigley brothers lived to tell their tale of dark and stormy struggles...

But a contrary opinion to that esposed by Beasle, Boyle and especially Throckmorton held that wine was, ahem, salvaged by another agency entirely. It seems that the Captain, one Melvinster Garamond, might have survived the harrowing sturm und drang after all.

And, perhaps he had aid... perhaps there was one such who assisted in removing the wine, bottle by bottle, in several clandestine journeys conducted under the light of a strange and eerie moon and witnessed only by creatures curious enough to cross the pebbly strand that separated forest from surging surf.

And perhaps that aid took the form of the blackest sheep of the black sheep McTavitt clan? Perhaps it was Armbrewster McTavitt who did the spiriting of the spirits?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

One possible explanation

On the morning after that dark and stormy night, when the bright morning light gave away no hint of the terrible terribleness of the preceding hours, Jack and the Twigley brothers set about taking stock of the situation. The very first effort to which they turned their skills and energy was to protect the ship's valuable cargo. They took a little of the ship and a little of the shore and a little of the forest beyond and build a shelter for themselves and for their precious bottles of wine. It was that first Jack, Jack Primero, who realized that the storm and sea gods had preserved them and their wine cellar to be and that to squander that gift would be to court disaster ever after.

Now, some of the Jacks were suave and some were scruffy and some were even somewhat scarey, but all of the Jacks were smart. It was Jack Tierce, Jack-the-Trey, who convinced Twigley descendants - products of the original Twigley brother love matches with the natives - to offer bottles of not so select vintage to travelers. And, as there were no other waystations for miles in any direction, the fortunes of the once-unfortunate shipwrecked began to improve, beyond their wildest dreams.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The pursuit commences

Montgomery Fortescue McTavitt was waiting. He'd been waiting, since 9:00, in one of the small salons provided by the Hotel Garamond to its elite customers. He was waiting for his nephew, Archibald, and Montgomery F. McTavitt did not like to wait. That characteristic, the only characteristic in fact, was one he shared with his niece Maud.
It was time and long past time for reckoning. Archibald had shown no sign of living up to the assurances he'd given his uncle during the last McTavitt reunion... reassurances about fiscal responsibility, taking a greater interest in the affairs of the family and its business holdings in the old port town, and generally becoming a more respectable member of the community.
Now the constabulary were making inquiries, and Archibald was not to be found.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wisdom of age and impetuosity of youth

Aloysius McTavitt sighed. His little cousin Maudie... or rather, Tallulah, could be such a handful. In her presence, he sometimes found it difficult to remember the lessons of self-control that he'd mastered during his years in silent retreat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A different approach and a secret weapon

Bruce and the Bongo Bay Beach Band took a far more laid back approach to the audition for the slot of house band at the Garamond. Bruce figured they might as well have some fun with the gig. Plus, they had a secret weapon: they had Mighty Mighty Maximillian on the didgeridoo.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Handsomeness, cubed

Oh, the ladies go wild when the Tibonacci Trio begin to sing. Soon, the stage floor is littered with flowers... and the occasional key to a discreet suite at the Hotel Garamond.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Competition promises to be fierce in the auditions for a new house band in the bar at the Hotel Garamond. Ambrose and Baxter are not sure that the sophisticated stylings of the Warbling Wister Sisters are quite the ticket. They sing with great enthusiasm, it must be said.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Revenge is...

Tallulah McTavitt was not happy. As far as she could tell, Cousin Oswald had let her down. First, he’d promised luxury transport to convey her to the Hotel Garamond, and it had becoming increasingly clear, as day edged into night, that she would actually have to make her own way there. Second, he’d promised a suitable escort to accompany her to various McTavitt family functions, and the escort, like the transportation, had not been in evidence. Third, when she finally arrived at the Hotel Garamond, she discovered that the Contessa suite was not available for her use… something about some other guests needing it because of a family emergency. And fourth, and perhaps the most heinous offense that he could have committed, Cousin Oswald had registered her under her birth name, Maud, rather than her chosen name, Tallulah. Now any snooping paparazzi could discover that glamorous TALLULAH, star of stage and screen (well, some well received off-off-off productions and an option on several promising properties), was, in reality, little Maudie McTavitt. Oh, yes, Tallulah McTavitt was not happy at all.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Come hither, go lightly

There were many things that Constable Benhardie liked about being a member of the force in the old port town. He liked the shiny buttons on his smart uniform even if the department issue shoes were clunky old-fashioned brogues. He enjoyed the respect of most of the community. He took particular pleasure in knowing that he’d succeeded in establishing himself in a good solid career, in direct opposition to the predictions voiced by many of the residents of East Dudleystoke Hastings who believed he would never amount to anything. He even enjoyed the company of the partner to whom he’d been assigned; Corporal Wilburton was wise in the ways of things and often his wisdom had meant the solving of a difficult case.

But one thing that Corporal Benhardie did not like was his current assignment. The McTavitt clan was in town, causing no little confusion, and the DeFiorini girl was still missing. Corporal Wilburton was pursuing some leads and tending to crowd control issues, leaving Corporal Benhardie the task of interviewing the “come hither, go lightly girls” who loitered down near the old war memorial. Their knowing eyes and louche manner unnerved him. He was sure they were teasing him most of the time, but in ways he was unsure of. He also thought that it was unlikely that they had, coincidentally, the same last name of “Smith.” He frequently wondered if their first names actually were Jane, Jan, and Joan. One thing – and one thing only – of which he was sure: they knew more than they told.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Family Reunion

The old port town was teeming with McTavitts. Every three years, the clan gathered; this year was Oswald’s turn to act as host. As befitting a proper host, he met each guest at the dock and showed each one to lodgings in and around town that he’d selected with a keen understanding of both purse and personality.

Finbar McTavitt was the first to arrive. He’d brought Minerva, his pet turtle, as he always did. Oswald had arranged for him to stay in faculty lodgings at St. Crispin's School for Girls. Luckily, there was room enough in the facility to accommodate Finbar’s surprise guest – someone Finbar claimed was a distant McTavitt cousin. Oswald noted that there was something of a family resemblance about the fellow.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Canvassing the Waterfront

Departmental budgetary allowances for undercover gear were quite limited for members of the constabulary in the old port town. Still, it was something of a surprise for Constable Benhardie to find that Constable Wilburton had chosen the exact same rig for their assignment. If their department issue shoes didn’t give away their identities, dressing alike surely would.

Wilburton, the senior officer, realized the futility of a subtle approach and ordered Benhardie to put his badge back on. Perhaps a symbol of authority might get results.

They’d questioned all the regulars: Baxter and Ambrose from the Garamond, and Zeke the bird guy. They’d even managed to corner McTavitt, but none of them admitted to seeing the oldest DeFiorini girl, Rosa Maria, let alone spending any time with her. Her younger twin sisters were frantic, and their ship was about to sail.

No one thought to ask Puff, who was still sulking in her cabin.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hopeful Wishes and Yearnings

Portia Holverleyscrum rode the train and wished wishfully. She looked out the window at the passing scenery and hoped hopefully. She checked her watch and yearned yearningly. Or maybe it was that she yearned hopefully and hoped wishfully and wished yearningly. The train rolled on, and the words “wishfully, hopefully, yearningly” could be heard in the sound of the wheels on the rails and echoing in Portia’s brain.

She was on her way to East Dudleystoke Hastings from Baghill Underwood to meet with the formidable (“formidaaahhhble,” thought Portia) Mrs. Malvernia Jenkins. Mrs. Malvernia Jenkins had offered to take Portia under her wing, introduce her to the members of the Charitable Works and Benevolent Society of the Villages of East Dudleystoke Hastings and Baghill Underwood (Combined), and generally ease Portia’s entrance into society in the larger, more sophisticated town of East Dudleystoke Hastings.

Portia was not sure why Mrs. Malvernia Jenkins had taken such an interest in her. She was an old school chum of Portia’s Great Aunt Daphne, but had not so much as sent a birthday card or holiday greeting in all of Portia’s life. The summons from Mrs. Malvernia Jenkins, passed to Portia by Aunt Daff, was phrased politely but was nevertheless something on the order of an executive decree, not to be denied, dismissed, or dilly-dallied over. She wished (wishfully, of course) that she understood the reason behind the offer. Aunt Daff declined to explain.

Style and culture were everything – everything – to Mrs. Malvernia Jackson; Portia was well aware. She knew that she should have selected a beautiful handbag to go with her outfit, but there really hadn’t been enough time. She hoped (hopefully, of course) that the parasol she’d brought along would do.

More than anything else, Portia yearned (yearningly, of course) for her cozy attic room in Baghill Underwood and the small, little life to which she believed she really was best suited.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love is in the air

A romantic interlude...

Sometime after that most dark and stormy night, when the Twigley brothers and cousins were settled in, they found themselves the focus of local attention. Handsome and dashing to a man, they rarely lacked for company.

Young Gaston Twigley, with his long, rangy physique and chiseled profile, was the object of many a young woman's yearning dreams. He played no favorites, and he was kind. No hearts were left broken.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Viniferous Wonder

Nor did they notice during all of their not seeing and not hearing that the land had come near, and never would they be able to explain how they’d apparently sailed the great bloody boat directly up the beach upon the last heaving swell of the storm, nor how the ship, stripped of mast, leaking ballast, and dripping storm wrack, came to rest on its side as gently as at a dock in a calm lagoon.

When Jack, the first mate (who had assumed the position of command in the absence of the captain), led the crew from the ship – an easy jump onto wet sand on a beach now illuminated by silvery moonlight – they discovered one last miraculous whim of the storm god: not a single bottle of wine carried in the hold of the ship had broken. Ever after, Jack was their leader.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Captain's Fate

And, on this ill-lit, ill-winded, ill-fated night, did not the crew struggle mightily to sail the ship somehow, some way, to some place? Aye, they did. And did they not consider abandoning the great vessel and taking chance upon the longboats? Aye, they did consider, but they did not abandon. And did they not notice that the captain, whom they all did much dislike, stood near to the longboat for a time and a time longer and then suddenly both captain and boat were gone? Nay, they did not notice that.

With one lightning glance to see that Twigley attention was turned elsewhere, the captain slipped over the side, into the longboat, and toward the distant shore. Neither Beasle nor Boyle, nor even the customarily garrulous Throckmorton, has much to say regarding the fate of the captain.

A Dark and Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night, of course. So dark and so stormy was this night that it might well have served as the model for dark and stormy nights of all time. It was so dark that not only was no moonlight or starlight in evidence, there wasn’t even a memory of the moon or stars in the minds of any Twigley brother or cousin, the tars who were the crew of the caravel. It was so stormy that the wind did not merely howl, but roared such an assault upon Twigley ears that the memory of all cannons firing at once now seemed like unto the lilting song of the hedge sparrow in June. It was a dark night, and it was a stormy night.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Rumor – that which most profess to reject but all secretly relish – rumor had it that in the lowest wine cellar of the Hotel Garamond, there was a ship. Perhaps it was merely a boat, maybe just a single ship’s timber, but a ship – embellished (or perhaps accurately reported) to be a privateer’s caravel – made a much more satisfying story to tell.

Should a tourist express doubt or curiosity or the tiniest degree of reaction at all, Boyle, Beasle, and Throckmorton, the bards of the hotel bar, seized the opportunity to expand the tale and to have a drink or two of theirs tacked on to their listeners’ tabs.

Inevitably the question arose: how did a ship turn up in the basement of the vast, rambling enterprise known as the Hotel Garamond?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Syd, the Sensitive Singing Cowboy

Orson had some success early in his career, but there was a limit to the number of songs in his chosen repertoire. He'd been talking options with his agent and was ready for something new.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

With friends like these...

Claudia wasn't sure that bungee jumping was exactly the right sport for her. Still, her friends told her she was a natural.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Success, guaranteed!

Prescott, Purdy, and Boynton were college roommates, elected early to the Engineering Society, whose company was poised on the brink of success. Now that they had the tabletop model working, they planned to seek venture capital to produce the first run. After that, they'd go public.

Anger Management

Like the yoga and meditation classes before them, the anger management sessions weren't successful either. "Honest to god," thought Clive, "if I am asked 'why the long face, dude?' one more time, I am going to slug someone."

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Every day at 9:15, Felicity took her beloved pet for a walk on the square in the old port town. He was something of a mixed breed, of indeterminate origin.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Life, Imagined

Drake saw her just as he began to play the first song of his solo set. She was a classical beauty. His fingers flew along the keys; in his head, he mapped out their life together. He was playing out his heart, just for her, but before the song was over, she'd floated out the door.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Talent Show

Audiences believed that it was a compliment to tell Harry that he had the looks of a young Elvis, but it just made him blue.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Joyful Noise

Valerie Jean didn’t know if it was wearing her lucky boots or not, but she’d won the first round of the fiddle-off and she wasn’t going to chance it. She’d wear them every day, for the rest of ever if she had to.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hero Worship

Robin adored and idolized his cousin Everett, and emulated everything about the man. His most recent attempt at growing a moustache was, as yet, not as successful as he would have hoped.

Everett, it must be said, was largely unaware of the effort.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Rumor – that which most profess to reject but all secretly relish – rumor had it that in the lowest wine cellar of the Hotel Garamond, there was a ship.

Thing-A-Day 2012 starts tomorrow!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Return of the Odd Fellows

I just received a post that the Thing-A-Day project will commence again. It's the sixth edition, and as yet, there's no word on the platform that will host it or where the projects will be found.

However.... receiving the news jump-started my enthusiasm for the Odd Fellows I created last year for that project. I made this blog then, but never actually opened the "Hotel Garamond."

At last I can report that all twenty-eight days of characters are here and waiting for the twenty-nine entries for this year.

I grouped the players on to several pages, according to the way I think of them. And I have found myself thinking of them in odd moments throughout the year. I have my favorites. I would love to learn which character other people favor.

To visit the project in chronological order, you can use this link:

That will take you to the Thing A Day site, with the Odd Fellows already selected for your viewing pleasure. Or, you can click any of the links to the pages on the right.