Monday, December 5, 2022

Clayton and Krystal: Book-club

It was Betty’s turn to host the Lolium Lady’s Book-club.

The club had been meeting for over ten years and they had been plumbing the depths of serious non-fiction. In turn the local librarian had recommended books by Gladwell, Diamond, Levitt, Covey, Hallinan and others.

The ladies shied away from biographies because they tended to be fawning and uncritical.

Not every lady read the assigned pages but enough did. And the ones who did were able to sketch it out with enough detail that the laggards could participate in the discussion.

There were few surprises. Meeting at Betty’s meant lapsang souchong tea, freshly baked ginger-snaps and pineapple upside-down cake.

The ladies were agog at Betty’s “new” stove. Betty changed elements in her decore about as often as the Supreme Court elected a new Chief Justice.

Betty milked the moment. Most of the “girls” played along and let Betty savor the moment. As expected, LaDoyen tried to steal the moment. She was politely ignored with selective deafness.

By the end of the club meeting, Betty had allowed the fact that Clayton Cummins had done the work, that he had showed up the day after she called and that it had cost “about $600 + parts” to be wormed out of her.

LaDoyen (Christened Diane but re-invented while away at "University") criticized the 7 feet of horizontal run and said “It looks dumb!!”

Betty serenely replied, “It may look dumb but most of the heat comes from the stove pipe. The wood burns in the stove but the pipe is what moves it to the room.”

LaDoyen didn’t have a good reply for that and decided that getting another slice of pineapple upside-down cake would give her a reason to not get into another argument with Betty.

Theresa Andruusenko approached Betty afterward and asked for Clayton’s number. Betty shared it, knowing that if Theresa had it then it was as good as broadcast to the entire township.


The receptionist found Krystal in the peritoneal dialysis “stick” room clutching Dale Mendoza’s hand.

Dale had coded while Krystal was threading the large-bore catheter through his abdomen wall.

Dale handed her the crucifix that hung around his neck and ground out “It was my father’s” through gritted teeth.

Krystal held his hand and paved his way to the Pearly Gates with simple, heartfelt prayers.

The center’s manager barged in while the receptionist was comforting Krystal. He told her to get back to work and informed her that it was against company policy to accept gifts from patients.

The staff threatened a mass walk-off unless he backed-off. Knowing that retreat is sometimes the only viable option, he fled to his office and played solitaire on his computer for the rest of the shift.

For the first time in her career, Krystal allowed herself to be taken to the bar after work by her work-mates. One of her work-mates drove her home...all the way to Lolium Township. A second work-mate drove Krystal's car. Nobody left vehicles unattended in the city anymore.

---This is a good place to pause the Clayton and Krystal series---


  1. The people who take care of hospice patients should be excused from that 'no gifts from patients accepted' policy. The dying are giving their caregiver a keepsake important enough to be worth keeping on hand. This is an honor the dying do for their caregiver - its a 'Remember Me', not monetary value.

    The dying should tell their visiting family of their intention - then it can be viewed by them as the caregiver taking advantage of the situation.

    1. So, my Dad had hip surgery in March, rehab, home-health aides 24/7... back and forth to hospital (infection), rehab, home, circled the bowl until Sept.
      The agency had a policy... that we all ignored, manager included.
      Honestly we were able to unload a lot of 'stuff' from his estate that would have ended up in the landfill... and those girls don't make make much, maybe $12/hr. Takes a special person.

  2. "The Pirate Code is more of "suggestions" than a Code..."

    The Ravishing Mrs. TB participates in such a book club, and your description sounds right on: some read all of it, some read some of it, but enough is read that they can talk about it.

    Hoping the pause is not too long. Very much enjoying this series.

  3. Enjoying the story so far, also hoping the pause is as long as necessary, but not too long.

  4. well I am sure you have reasons, but pausing over the holidays in a cliffhanger fashion is no bueno.

    1. Ditto x 10! Thank for giving us something fun to anticipate. Hope you are able to bring it back off the back burner sooner than later.

  5. Is it a pause, or suspended animation? Seems like they have left one life a made a sound beginning of another - the future is brighter now for them.

  6. No pressure, but your fiction makes your blog a daily read. Your other offerings are excellent as well, but your fiction is riveting.

  7. Since Clayton presumably has been cleared of arson, shouldn't they expect a significant insurance claim? Or perhaps they didn't have that much equity and the bank will take it all.

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  9. ERJ, you could end it here or carry on. I admit to being "emotionally invested" in the story, just as I have been in your previous efforts. Did I literally tear up at Dale's death? Yes, yes I did. His and Krystal's humanity were as clear as your prose. 'Nuff said for now...

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  11. Just reread/enjoyed the story. Wishing it would continue. (yeah, it is a lot of work, even if you enjoy writing.} Can't help but think that the troubles might be tempted to follow Krystal home. Those old timers they are living with are most likely to be of the shoot, shovel and shutup persuasion. Thanks for the stories. John.


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