06-23-18 Robin Weaver – My Crazy Road to Romantic Suspense Publishing

Monday, December 28, 2015

Oh, Have Times Changed

by Courtney Pierce

Here's hoping you're all having a wonderful holiday. I thought it would be fun to end the year with a short story. This is a peek at my collection of baby boomer tales. Have fun with the memories . . . I'm sure there's one like this lurking in that treasure trove of crazy experiences from your youth.


In 1976, when I was seventeen, my mother had the bright idea to stage a garage sale. All my childhood stuff moved with us from Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California: Barbie, Midge, and Ken, Gobbley Goop burners for making rubbery bugs, Liddle Kiddles, and mod clothes from the sixties, including my white patent-leather Go-Go boots.
Mom required everyone in the family to make contributions to the haul. In true democratic fashion, the spoils were to be deposited into my parents’ checking account. Hence, when the big day arrived, Dad took a breeze to run errands, my sisters fled to their friends' houses, and I hid out in my bedroom and cranked the music.
By lunchtime, my mother burst through the laundry room door from the garage. On the hunt for more stuff, she rummaged in the hall closet, then stomped toward my bedroom. Apparently, the sale was going well.
“Courtneeeyyy!” she called out. “A man outside wants musical instruments. Do you still have your old clarinet?” Mom stood in my bedroom doorway with frazzled dark hair; her chestnut irises snapped shut as she zeroed in on me.
"It’s in my closet,” I said and resumed my duet with Joni Mitchell on “Big Yellow Taxi.”
“While you’re paving paradise, I need that clarinet.” Mom made no secret of her annoyance that I wasn’t outside to help. “Make it snappy.”
I didn’t mind parting with the clarinet. I hadn’t blown into the thing since sixth grade. Without a second thought, I fumbled for the bright red case on the overhead shelf.
“Hurry up. He’s waiting.” Mom wiggled her fingers for the booty. 
I went back to inspecting my long blond hair for split-ends as “Woodstock” started. Within a minute, Mom zoomed back into the house, the laundry room door banging against the washer in her wake. She marched into my room, held out the case, and opened the lid.
“What is this, Missy?" Mom pulled a baggie from one of the compartments and crunched the contents.
My mouth gulped air like a grouper thrown on the dock. “I . . . forgot . . . that . . . was in there.” I raised my guilty gaze. “Oregano?”
“I should make you go outside and negotiate. The Chief of Police wants to buy your clarinet for his daughter, not this bag of pot.” As if a tossed grenade, the airborne bag landed on my zigzag-patterned bedspread.
“What’d you tell him?”
“That my daughter needs to clean up this clarinet and change the reed. So clean it up and change the reed! And he’d better not be able to smell it.”
“What about the pot?”
“Get rid of it.” She shoved the case in my direction, glared, and turned. The laundry room door slammed as I bolted to the kitchen.
My hands a blur, I wiped down the clarinet and secured a new reed to the mouthpiece. With the press of my foot, the metal garbage can lid dented the cabinet as I tossed the plastic bag inside. I dashed back to my room and gave the case’s red velvet lining a healthy spritz of Charlie cologne. My heart thumped against my ribs as I carried the case outside.
“Here she is!” my mother gushed, way too loud. “My musical angel.”
A six-foot-three hulk waited for me in the driveway. His badge flashed in the sun. I turned to avoid his assessing gaze and widened mine at my mother. She threw me a fake smile.
“I replaced the weed―I mean―reed,” I said.
My mother gasped. To recover, she scratched her brow as if dislodging a tick. “Her father and I have always encouraged extra-curricular activities.”
“Mom was especially supportive,” I added and held out the case. “I hope your daughter enjoys it as much as I did.”
The police chief opened the lid and studied me. Then he smirked and reached for his wallet. “Smells good.”

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Oregon with her husband of thirty-six years and bossy cat. She writes for baby boomers. Her novels are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. Courtney has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. She is also a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and is active with Willamette Writers, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and Sisters in Crime.

Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's latest novel, The Executrix. When three middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe after her death, the book gives them a whole new view of their mother. Is it fiction? . . . or truth? Sibling blood becomes thicker than baggage when Mom becomes larger in death than she was in life.

Look for Indigo Lake, the second helping of the Dushane Sisters Trilogy, in February, 2016. More laughs, more tears . . . and more trouble. Protecting Mom's reputation might get the sisters killedor give one of them the story she's been dying to live.

Visit Courtney's website at courtney-pierce.com. Her books can be purchased at Windtree PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, and at several independent bookstores in the Portland area.


Judith Ashley said...

A fun story, Courtney!!! We never did did garage sales while I was still at home nor did I hold one myself until the '90's. Guess I just like the accumulation part - lol. When things become overwhelming, it is easier to pack it up and take it to Salvation Army or another charitable donation site.

Courtney Pierce said...

Ah, yes! That's why I hid out in my bedroom. My husband and I moved to different states over our 36 years. We, too, learned to donate, donate, donate. I didn't have the chops to negotiate nickel increments!

Glad you liked the story! Happy New Year!

Maggie Lynch said...

Thanks for making me laugh this morning. My family never did garage sales either. I think because everything we owned was used and then passed down so many times, that by the time it got to the 9th child no one would want whatever we had. However, I did have garage sales or participate in neighborhood garage sales many times as an adult. When my husband and I married, we both had complete households of stuff. I held a big garage sale and sold almost everything I had, except clothing,--furniture, linens, decor, pots and pans, etc. and moved to his house. Outside of my personal items and clothing I came with about 60 boxes of books. :)

Later in life, moves that required divestiture usually meant donating things to charity, church, thrift stores and the library (those books were forced to dwindle over the years). Thank goodness for ebooks so I can carry thousands in a small space.