Stories read at the 2012 Totally Unknown Writers Festival:
Fong Hsiung takes us to Dhapa, a Hakka community in Kolkata, India, where we first meet Alfie, considered the neighbourhood dimwit. He hawks his mother’s chicken giblet stew door-to-door and sings an American pop song to earn an ice cream treat. We learn of the hardships Alfie endures, when his mother beats him with her cane and children tease and trick him, before he finds his niche in life.
Shaan Gupta sells electronics in the old heart of Mississauga, at Dundas and Hurontario streets, at a job his sister hooked up for him. After peering out the window at a down-and-out old man collecting cigarette butts from the pavement, he conscientiously fills his down time, trying to impress his distracted boss—when a do-ragged customer comes in to check out smartphones and all hell breaks loose.
Sonia Dhaliwal holds no false illusions about her relationship with her red hot ex-lover, Dragos. Yet, a surprise text from him sets off a hilarious duel between the conservative, prim and proper side of her conscience and the other, a sultry seductress side who seeks escape, excitement and pleasure, and worries not a wit about what tomorrow might bring.
Shane Driver assures his girlfriend that he’ll be okay before he heads off to Sixteen Mile Creek, carrying a green felt bag that contains one half of his late father’s ashes. He recounts earlier fishing trips with his dad, battles with his dad’s second wife, a cemetery visit to say goodbye to the other half of Dad, and then dekes a furious mother goose before he arrives at a favourite shared spot to bid his father a final farewell.
"Mr. Jean Baptiste"
Zeenat Mohamed works at Pearson International Airport. Under pressure to process a lineup of two hundred migrant farmworkers returning home after the harvest season, she holds her own with grace and humour. Then, she is moved to the transborder check-in, where a distraught coworker tries to check in a passenger destined for New York, a rather limp, unresponsive passenger wheeled in by his sister.
"Pot O’ Gold"
Sara Middleton serves at the Pot O’ Gold, a restaurant in an old, tired area of Toronto, where the regulars know each other well, and management lets them run monthly bar tabs as they ease their loneliness shooting the shit with each other and the owner, and bring the waitresses flowers. Beneath the casual banter, a haunting tale of two tangled relationships plays itself out.
"Ron and Helen"
Diane Donaghy enters adulthood with the flair and energy of Stevie Nicks stepping onto the stage. At a friend’s party, she meets a charismatic, married man who later sweeps her off her feet with romantic flourishes after declaring his marriage is over. But he comes and goes, and an unexpected friendship develops between the two young women he left behind. What does a young, naïve woman do?
Leah Jones grew up in a farming community in rural Ontario. She recently moved to attend university in the city and she struggles with the transition. One night, just before midnight, with directions and a schedule in hand, she braves the transit systems of two cities as she transfers from one bus to another, and braves her own fears and possible preconceptions as she searches the terminal for an elusive bus stop sign.
"Trains, Rust and Mould"
Anna Konareva and her brother spend school holidays in rural Valday town, Russia, with their Babyshka. They spend idyllic days and nights there until Mama interrupts when she calls to tell them she is taking them on a trip to another country. When Papa appears with train tickets, Babyshka stoically sees her grandchildren off at the train station. Young Anna worries about leaving her Babyshka alone.
"We’ll Play Halo in a Sec"
Michael Dzingala heads over to his buddy’s house to play the latest, greatest edition of the video game Halo. “I’ll shit-kick ya,” Aaron promises. But Aaron is a character who takes Michael on a different epic, an interstellar journey that ventures everywhere but the family room, where Halo 3 and the Xbox controller wait invitingly on the coffee table.
Price $10.00 Canadian
Life Rattle Press New Writers Series