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The Ashcan Writers Club

Copyright 2012 by R.D. Byron-Smith

Smashwords Edition



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I


Minneapolis, 2010.

When Norman’s heart skidded to a halt right in front of us, we were all munching Betty’s butterbrickle in the old recreation center next to the bocce ball courts, and discussing the misconjugation of adverbs. He suddenly slump-shouldered over in the hard-cushioned metal chair, and his head awkwardly bounced once on the shiny veneer tabletop. It made the sound of a gourd slipping from your hands at the farmer’s street market.

Within seconds in one off-putting efficient operation, Helen, our president and ever mindful of decorum, called paramedics on her Blackberry. They tried to revive Norman with a defibrillator but its battery was dead. By the time they installed a new battery in the electric-shock machine, they had to radio the coroner’s man.

His death was published in the retirement community's newsletter, which was unusual because its editor had always made it a point to avoid mention of death like the plague. I figured retired newspaper editor Norman wouldn’t have much minded the ink. Our group, six without Norman, couldn’t find the will (I almost said heart) to meet for four months afterward; and still, when we did, nobody would sit in Norman’s chair. Our seniors writing group finally met in early January, a chilly evening in which we all had un-trunked winter garments smelling sweet with moth balls and cedar.

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