A Short Story – “Doreen” – a free 2000 word short

It was around the time that everybody stopped reading literature and switched to reading crime and mystery, when Samuel S. made his terrible decision. Crime and mystery stories had been around for a hundred years, and the genre had experienced its ups and downs, but around 2017 it became obvious that nobody was going to read anything else anymore. Anybody with anything to communicate had to wrap it into a whodunnit format, or take the risk to be completely and utterly ignored, and this was not just true for authors, but also for any socialite or politician, in fact for any public or private person.

Surely this is my biased view on the subject.

I think I met Samuel S. for the first time at a party. A barbecue at Barry Leon‘s place in San Diego, wasn’t it? An awkward affair, as on the one hand, Ken Griffin has been there, and Ken had formerly been a colleague of ours, but now he was Barry’s boss, as a result of which Barry had danced about all evening like a subservient ballerina, trying to please his new manager. Very awkward to witness. On the other hand, Barry’s buddy had been absent, I have forgotten his name, a colleague who was twenty years Barry’s senior, but who was inseparably connected to him at work, the two were like Siamese twins. On all emails to the one, the other was at least on CC. Being bad at names, I am actually not sure whether it was Barry Leon or Leon Barry, I usually called him Leon in my mind, which might be due to my Spanish heritage. To add even more confusion: did I actually meet Samuel S. at this party at all? Or was it at a similar affair in San Francisco that I had attended around that time? I recall the typical Californian evening light, but not much else. I have attended many such social and business events, in or close to Silicon Valley. We had seen a a hummingbird visiting our barbecue, that I recall with absolute certainty, as Samuel S. provided some pertinent facts about the hummingbird family Trochilidae to enlighten or entertain us. With Samuel S. you could never tell which; infotainment was his forte.

No matter. Samuel S. was short, shorter than I am, but he looked fit and in control of things, which makes it even more shocking that he ultimately arrived at this strange idea of his, with which he firmly shot himself in the foot; figuratively speaking off course, he was far too intelligent to own a gun.

Samuel S. and I developed a good rapport. We agreed on the pros and cons of the current and previous president. And the respective flotuses too. We both found the previous one more attractive. We agreed on Flaubert, Paul Auster’s best book and the beauty of orientalist paintings. Samuel S. was one of few individuals that went by their full first names, which I highly appreciated. Too many Michaels go by the name of Mike, too many Zebedeuses are reduced to Zebs, and too many Josephs are amputated to Joes. However, Samuel S. did read crime and mystery; I once met him in a bar where he dropped his keys, phone and such a sordid paperback onto the table. He also mentioned some popular mystery stories a few times in conversations at parties that we frequented. I won’t hold that against him. Like I said, this was the time when bookstores were virtually bulging with crime and mystery, and people started mistaking Shakespeare for Sherlock Holmes, Berlioz for Poirot and Truman Capote for Al Capone. For all his erudite ways and obvious flirting with intelligentsia and semi-revolutionary political ideas, it came as a surprise when he admitted to have frequented a prostitute. He hinted at this on two or three occasions, and not just to me but in a greater round. It didn’t sound like bravado, and adds some surprising color to his character.

He was married to Doreen, a retired physician and  fifteen years his senior. She was an extraordinary woman, taller than Samuel S., skinny, gray-haired, and I have to say, stunningly beautiful. She had a look that few elderly women carry: you could recognize a much younger Doreen in her face and stature. Some women grow old and simply look old, but others continue to carry a young girl within, if you know what I mean. It’s in their smile and in the spring in their step. Shirley McClain comes to mind, or Michelle Yeoh. But not Charlotte Rampling, not Judy Dench, although they are impressive women in their own right.

Doreen smelled of green tea. Or her perfume did. I don’t drink the stuff, the tea I mean, but I like the fragrance. She didn’t read crime or mystery, I’m happy to say. Befitting, she read books about Buddha, gardening, art and lifestyle, and the occasional novel. Unlike her husband, she didn’t travel much, but had visited India a few times. She enjoyed tending her garden and had a small greenhouse with cacti. I visited her on occasion, in the summertime, during that particular time.

Intellectually, these years were dire straights, and it was hard to find equally minded people for conversation. I was member of a group of half a dozen regulars and ten to fifteen satellites. Frustratingly, populism was on the rise, and people were either talking about perceived crises, ignoring the greatness of their lives, which was shouting into their bloated and stuffed faces – or they were shaking their heads in disbelief at the madness of it all and the way democracy and the environment happily bounced towards the abyss. Or they had already given up on the world altogether; and, you may guess it by now, had turned to reading crime and mystery novels. I had reached a stage where the flood of bad news started to trickle down my skin as if I had been dunked in Teflon. In this light, I found the mere existence of Samuel S. a relief, as he seemed to be less obsessed by current affairs, and could quickly switch a discussion about the devastation of the Amazons to the usage of curare for the hunt by the endogenous people of said delta. And with considerable and generally compelling detail too. He had a fine sense of humor and tended to tell the truth, which was refreshing. He was thus an enrichment of the circle of friends that I was part of, and all our lives might have just continued on and on, had it not been for the silly fact that Samuel S. decided that he wanted to divorce Doreen.

The two hadn’t even been married that long. Samuel S. had been single for most of his life, but Doreen has been married before, to an engineer. She showed me a picture once, of a fat bald guy. I had a hard time imagining them together in one room. She had three children from that marriage, all three had left home and were wandering the globe. In New Jersey. Samuel S. didn’t have any children of his own.

One afternoon, out of the blue, he told me about his plan. He would leave Doreen and start anew. Usually, he was a suave, confident person, but now his eyes flickered nervously and his tongue darted over his lips. He talked on and on, I couldn’t get a word in sideways. He didn’t give any clear reason, at least not in any way that was obvious to me, and I didn’t dare ask. At the end he was exhausted and frustrated, which surprised me. Most people that separate are at least a bit happy, but not Samuel S.. Afterwards he must have told someone else about his plan too, as the rumor went through our group like wildfire. In contrast to what some may say, the rumor didn’t come from me, let me assure you. The foolish man, I had the impression that he wanted us, yes: me, to guess what the underlying reason was. I was in the dark, and said so to anyone who asked. As if life is one of these stupid mystery story where we have to collect clues to come to some cheap thrill or fulfillment or insight. Whatever.

Strangely enough, his decision had great effect on the dynamics of our circle. Over the following weeks, changes started to occur, and for some reason they impacted me a great deal. Was it because I had introduced Samuel S. into our group? In any case, I started to notice that I was excluded from invites, or sidelined during conversation. On one or two occasions, people even turned their backs to me, or didn’t greet me.

To be honest, by that time I couldn’t really be bothered, as I had in the preceding weeks, become rather close with an individual that I highly respected. A person where everything just felt right. Yes, I had found love. I had been in relationships on and off, but none had stuck. Yes, I am a picky person, also when it comes to finding a partner, and I was therefore very happy indeed that I had met someone whom I really could trust. It felt as if we were like yin and yang. And the beauty of it all was that my counterpart felt exactly the same way. I could thus happily continue with my job during the daytime, while looking forward to slightly secretive nightly encounters, as we had decided to take our budding relationship step by step.

I hadn’t seen Samuel S. for weeks, when one evening he called and asked whether I would be interested in having a drink. I hesitated. I had already started to move on. Things that happened that year were now part of the past. But for old times sake I agreed.

We met in a coffee place of Main, where they serve a hundred types of latte, and a bookshelf with used paperbacks, mostly crime and mystery, occupies a corner.

He didn’t look good. His hair was unkempt and he had rings under his eyes. We talked. I asked him whether he still wanted to leave Doreen. I asked: Why? Why Samuel?

He looked down at the table. Can you really be so blind? I told you didn’t I? I did more than hinting. I think I said it to you straight. Why can’t you acknowledge it?

I looked at Samuel S. in absolute confusion. No, I couldn’t understand. What was he talking about?

Samuel, what have you told me?

Oh you fool! He blurted it out, and the other patrons lifted their heads in reaction to his loud voice. Don’t you understand, Susanne? I love you! That’s why I have left Doreen. I love you! Can you be so blind?

I stared at his face in shock. I was speechless. For a full minute my mind seemed to have stopped in its tracks. Then, slowly, I started to recount some of the conversations that I had with Samuel S., and some of the comments our mutual friends had made to me. Finally, the penny dropped. This man, this poor fool, had fallen for me, and in his sophisticated and round-about way, had been completely incapable of telling me straight to my face. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I would have refused him, surely. Ironically, through his confused action he had opened opportunities that he himself wasn’t even aware of.

I got up and looked down at him. His face was contorted by emotion. I said: I’m sorry Samuel. There isn’t anything else that I can add. We are not made for one another.

I walked out without turning back. Yes, this was the time that every bookstore, every internet shop, every library was literally exploding with crime and mystery. I’ve never been a fan. But if it’s mystery that the people want: so be it. And that included, alas, Samuel S.. I drove around for a while and after that I sat in my car at a Walmart, until sunset. Finally, I longed for home and bed and comfort and love. I drove to my place and unlocked the door. I threw my keys on the table in the hallway.

The lights were on.

Is it you? Called Doreen.

Yes love, it’s me.


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Reading: healthy and relaxing!

 

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Many thanks for this great review of my book #Celeterra! #eBook #Adventure #Dystopia

As paperback or eBook

Woman reading a scifi adventure book by C. Suter

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Learn more about my novels at amazon.com – or at your local amazon store or any other eBook Store.

Excerpt from Celeterra:

Altijd was wearing a ridiculous pair of tight black trousers, with big translucent yellow rhombs. His shirt seemed to be made out of some shiny crimson acrylic fabric. The buttons were open all the way down to his belly, revealing the scanty hair on his chest. The heels of his green and brown shoes were at least 2 inches high. Vance wondered how he managed to walk in them, let alone use them for dancing.

Vance opened his closet. New items had replaced all the clothing that had been there the morning before. Instead, he found a tight pair of cerulean trousers, with zigzag waves of ginger and pink, a huge white belt of imitation leather with a golden buckle and a shirt of the same material as what Altijd was wearing, but with scarlet and olive stripes. It had big imitation silver buttons. The shoes, on the bottom shelf, had flat soles and big bulges at the toes. The leather was black at the front and white at the heels.

Vance held up the garments, a look of despair on his face. Altijd laughed.

“Don’t worry Vance, you will look as hip as beans! Put it on! No, no, don’t try to put them away – you can’t go out tonight without the right attire.”

Vance closed the door in front of Altijd’s face and slipped into his new clothing, cursing. He looked at himself in the mirror – ridiculous! He was only doing this for his friend, if Altijd had not been waiting for him outside, he would have stayed at home!

Together, they hurried to the party. The tent was already full of people, all dressed as quaint as the two newcomers. There was Samantha, wearing a white Lycra bodysuit, with big red buttons and a purple belt; John (who had broken his neck in a riding accident), dressed in red jeans and a black shirt, with a pink cowboy hat and big knee-high boots. Eric had come in a shiny pair of bronze trousers, apparently made out of plastic foil, on top of which he wore a white shirt printed full with small red snakes.

Painting: “Monkey”. Inspired by a #ChineseDrawing. 2017 – 30×40 cm – #oiloncanvas

I created this oil painting based on a poster that I had seen in a restaurant in China, on the loo! The motive of this monkey left a longer lasting impression, but as I hadn’t taken a photo,  I had to paint from memory many months later. It doesn’t look too much like the original, but as far as I recall, my painting came out better actually. The face looks a bit like my brother’s ;-) The original was a color pencil sketch on a ragged piece of paper, with  secretive Chinese characters; which I replaced with Japanese characters. Anyone know what the Japanese text means?

I just did a quick check, and I guess that the original had to do with the Chinese zodiac. The Monkey is the ninth in the 12-year zodiac cycle. The Years of the Monkey include 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028…  The monkey is seen as a smart animal, also in China. During the Chinese Spring & Autumn Period (770 – 476 BC), the Chinese title of marquis was pronounced ‘Hou’, which is the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey.’ This either shows that the monkey is regarded to be as clever as a marquis… or the subordinates of the marquis had a great sense of humor.

More artwork

You can find more artwork at the section above, or follow this link: http://www.clemenssuter.com/tag/painting

Naturally all of these paintings can be purchased by you (unless otherwise mentioned in this blog; many of these paintings have already found a new owner). All paintings are originals, done in oil on canvas – single and unique items.

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Painting “Monkey”

 

Thank you for your contributions! #Fundraiser #Unicef #eBooks #Paperbacks

Dear readers of my books,

as you recall, I organized a fundraiser, promising to donate triple the royalties of all my book sales in the month of February! Many thanks for all that used this opportunity to buy my work, and in doing so to directly sponsor UNICEF.

I have chosen to donate the total sum to UNICEF’s fight against the humanitarian crisis in Africa, and have just placed the order… for 200€ ! Many thanks to all of you that supported this fundraiser, resulting in this amazing sum!

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Didn’t have a chance to buy one of my books in February? The crisis in Somalia and bordering countries doesn’t stop today. Please donate today to help our fellow humans. But I am also planning a new fundraiser… your ideas and suggestions are very welcome!

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Here a short fragment from my novel Two Journeys, illustrating how important we humans are for one another:

One night, the truck stood parked in the middle of the road, a mile past a small hamlet. I had a bonfire going, and the dogs were warming themselves and dozing. It was very quiet, the crackle of the fire the dominant sound.

The sky cleared and stars started to appear. Bats gave chase through the heavens, hunting for the insects that were attracted by the light of the flames.

When the fire finally started to go out and turn into a hot red glow, more and more stars became visible. The Milky Way came out like a highway through the heavens. Far off, a lonely bird called woop-woooop. The moon rose, throwing its metallic light first on the hills and then on the truck and our resting place.

As the fire died out, the cold crept up from the ground. I stood up and for several minutes looked at the deserted landscape and the sky. I recalled a joke that my sons once played on me.

“Dad, where is the Yogurt Puddle?”

“The Yogurt Puddle? What could that be? No idea.”

“It’s the galaxy next to the Milky Way!”

Even now, I chuckled, probably in the same way I had when I’d first heard it.

Again, I looked up at the stars. The world was quiet now, the fire soundless.

There was nobody to hear my laughter. Tears started to fill my eyes, and I had difficulty fighting them back.

Damn, if only they could be here.

Cats paintings – Getting ready for my next exhibition – 10x15s in oil

Cats are a powerful, dynamic motive. I’m not very fond of cats because I have an allergy, and therefore I’m more of a dog person, out of necessity you could say. Nevertheless I find cats intriguing organisms because they act very independently, and of course they can have a very lovely relationship with their human. It has been said that humans own a dog, but that a cat owns a human, which sums it up nicely! It is all about the nature of these hunters: wolves hunt in packs and chase their prey to exhaustion, whereas cats are stalking hunters, they act alone and out of the silence of the night, they jump from the shadows on their unsuspecting prey. And as cats and dogs compete for the same food sources, they are competitors, which explains the sometimes strained relationship that dogs and cats have with one another.

For painting, cats are very grateful motives and of course I’ve noticed that many of the people that are interested in my work love to put one of these cat portraits on their wall, I have sold many of these.

For these small paintings I’ve used oils, water paint, spray paint, sand and pigment powders; on heavy, structured paper. These paintings are quite small at 15 by 10 centimeters.

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