Joseph Heller wrote the massive bestseller, Catch-22 about World War II…
Later in his life Heller went to a party in the Hamptons. Mostly young hedge fund guys at the party.
While he was at the party, someone came up to him and pointed out some 25 year old guy. “You see that guy over there?” the someone said. “That guy made more money last year than all of your books will make in your entire lifetime, times ten.”
Joseph Heller looked at the 25 year old guy then said. “But I have one thing that that man will never have.”
His friend gave a sort of scoff and said, “What could that possibly be?”
And Joseph Heller said, “Enough.”
This reminds me of something my Grand Dad used to say: “We’re not short of what we’ve got.” He also regularly commented, “It’ll either rain or go dark before morning.” So, we can’t hold much store in his philosophy. Those two family sayings were broadcast on BBC Radio Four’s “Quote Unquote” a few weeks ago. It made me smile to think that his wisdom lives on. He always knew that enough was enough, even though he once when hearing someone say “That’ll do.” interrupted them, saying “There’s no such thing as ‘That will do.’ Let me have a look… That’ll do!”
Alissa Leonard has created the “Finish That Thought” Flash Fiction compo, which usually provides an opening line and some ‘special challenge’ words to include, and must be less than 500 words. This week’s compo opening line was “Three strangers appeared on my [doorstep], and in their [hands] they brought death.” and the judge’s special challenge from the judge was to: “Include at least THREE of the following literary characters: Edward Rochester, Jo March, Harry Potter, Anne Shirley, Sherlock Holmes, Katniss Everdeen, Dracula, Miss Havisham, Rhett Butler, Lucy Pevensie, Gandalf the Grey.”
I didn’t have much time this week, but wanted to put something in, even if it was short, because it has been SO long since I last wrote something. This is my story, but please check out the original submission and read other entries.
Fifty Shades of (Gandalf the) Grey (500 Words)
By Dr. Mike Reddy @DoctorMikeReddy
Three strangers appeared on my doorstep, and in their hands they brought death. This particular death, as any fan boy/girl will tell you, was the worst of all.
“Miss Antrim? Miss Sally Antrim?” the first suit asked. I nodded, then mumbled “Ms…”
“Mzzz Antrim, we represent the various publishers, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, BBC Books and Harper Collins. I have here a cease and desist letter from our clients.”
Normally, “C+Ds” were clean strikes like an Internet transmitted smart bomb. I clumsily received the document and opened the envelope. It must have only recently been sealed; I made a mental note to put it in the reusable pile.
“We, the above… remove references pertaining to… Hogwarts, Panem, Moria… Sherlock Holmes…” I looked up, confused. “Isn’t Conan Doyle’s…”
“Not the Cumberbatch version, dear. Only the early stuff is public domain.” the second suit interrupted. The third shrugged. “Can you sign here.” he pointed to an iPad, and pushed it forward. I squiggled my autograph, long practiced in anticipation of book launches, public appearances and lecture tours.
“Thank you, Mzzz Antrim,” the first man said, “Have a good day.” The three men turned about, insisting that each other go first, then swiftly walked down the garden path, stepping gingerly over the weed strewn cobbles.
They had been gone a few minutes before I realised I was still standing in the open front doorway, in a half soaked bathrobe. A shudder broke the spell, and I hurried inside. Steam coming from the downstairs bathroom recalled my hurry to answer the door, thinking the intrusion another Amazon delivery. Numbly, I cut off the water, and stumbled into the kitchen to make some herbal tea.
“Who was that?” Harry asked, sipping coffee. Black. A little honey to sweeten the bitterness. He could sense my despair. I held out the letter, which floated towards him, bouncing along in time to his flicking wand. Gandalf sighed at the ostentatiousness and snatched it from the air.
“Ho hum… this appears to…” the Wizard began.
“It is obviously a legal document. Judging by the envelope – manila, self-sealing but with no lasting damage to the glue line – so, recently closed… Some disagreement? Negotiation as to how to proceed…? I take it that this is instructions to stop your…” The tall, curly haired man gestured to the other occupants of the kitchen table. “… ‘inspired’ story telling.”
Gandalf coughed his disapproval. “It is as Mr Holmes ‘guessed’”. The taller man snorted, then set about buttering his toast, taking rather more pleasure in scraping his knife than necessary. The Wizard shuddered. He knew the Detective knew he hated that sound.
“I say we go after them, and skin them” Sally heard behind her. An arrow swiftly plucked the letter from the Wizard’s startled fingers and pinned it to the wall. Katniss gripped my shoulders. “You can’t stop writing now. How else will we find out if Sherlock truly loves me?”
Dr. Mike Reddy
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