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Writers' Club of Whittier

Summer Crossing: a Telltale With Neither Head nor Tail


v shaped branchI meet Bill today at my critique workshop and talk a bit with him on our way out. Bill is working on his memoir, a humorous yet tender piece of work full of boyish farces and old man’s reflections.

Besides writing, Bill also makes pens, wooden pens more specifically. So it is most natural to see Bill walking about with an armpit-ful (my expression) of papers and always carrying a few pens in his shirt pocket.

Today, on top of all his usual items, he also toys with a branch of some sort, knotty with a V-shaped end. Knowing Bill, I cannot tell if the branch will be made into a writing tool or a slingshot. So I ask. Appraising the wooden stick, he gives my question some thoughts, his grayish eyes reflecting the changing patterns of his brainwaves from twinkling naughtiness to a deepening hues of pensive mood. He admits it may become a pen, mostly. And seeming to make his point more resolute, he pulls one such sample out of his pocket, saying, “My latest invention,” clicking and waving it in front of my eyes and so, without having to add anything, clearly indicating to me that it is for me to admire but not to handle.

It is a beautiful retractable pen, with a cap and end barrel made of lustrous metal and some smooth, artfully-colored material, possibly wood, for body. I express my appreciation for the chic design and, having my doubt for its usefulness, wanting to know about its practical functionality. After all, a pen isn’t any good if it’s not meant for effortless, fluid writing. Bill proudly boasts, “Of course it writes beautifully. But gun-averse folks won’t like it.”

“How so,” I ask, looking at the beautiful shape in his hand. The pen has an unusual clicker, its slender, curved shape more like a jewel. Bill explains to me that it is fashioned after a gun part, and if I am an arm connoisseur I would surely notice it.

“Then I won’t like it as much,” say I to him, laughing.

Another writer in our group catches up to us and, pointing at the odd-looking branch in Bill’s hand, says, “If I were you, I would put that away. They may place you in a home.”

Another person joins us, and after peering at the same branch, suggests, “Is that the thing they use for seeking water in the old time?”

Yet another one thinks the object may rightfully belong to a witch. Or a Navajo Indian.

And so the tales pour forth from mouth to mouth until we separate at the crossing.


Author: Hong-My Basrai

Memoirist and author of Behind the Red Curtain, blogger, engineer, manager, mother of three and wife of one, etc. I am a bit of everything.

6 thoughts on “Summer Crossing: a Telltale With Neither Head nor Tail

  1. I saw the pen too but didn’t know Bill made it. Are you selling them?

    • Am I selling them? With my words maybe. But if you really want to buy one of Bill’s fine creations you need to convince him to part himself from them. I believe he’s a hoarder, not a seller. But ask him.

  2. You weave a fine story, Hong-My. I like how your conclusion ends in a way opposite of what most good stories do. Instead of coming together in some confluence of oneness, it scatters about the notion of what else a piece of wood (or a tree twig or branch) might be used for, inciting creative thought. Engaging!

  3. Pingback: Of Pens and Poetry | Writers' Club of Whittier


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