by Mark Rogers (editor, Fiction House Publishing)
I elude the Czar’s Cossacks and escape to a life of freedom, love, and adventure in America. I write my tales on scraps of paper and hide them. They wait for you…
Find them and tell my story, mine Great Grandson Raji. If you do not, it will be as if I have never lived.
I am Shelva Fiction and this is my story.
A thousand and one Tales inhabit the Fiction House. You’ll want to visit them again and again.
* * *
Enjoy this scene from Shelva Fiction, by Mark Rogers
TAKING A BREAK AT THE FICTION HOUSE
“…he died at age 52,” reports the network anchor, breaking the news of the death of….
“A successful business person, he was known to proudly brag of working 16 hours a day, usually 6 to 7 days a week. Doctors report he died of sudden…
“Associates say, ‘He worked himself to death’. It is reported that his net worth exceeds one billion dollars.
“Jack died doing what he loved most,” says his widow as her face briefly appears on the TV screen. “Making money.”
I turn off the set.
Tenille comes from the kitchen, sits, holds my hand and joshes playfully, “I believe she was smiling just a little, when she said that, don’t you, Raji? ‘He worked himself to death.’ They never say, ‘He took-it-easy’d himself to death,’ hmm Raji.”
I smile. “I knew him.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Not well. But enough to know he never tried to make a break from the money chase. He was always pestering me, trying to buy Fiction House Publishing. Just so he could turn around and sell it. I overheard a conversation at a restaurant between him and his wife. She kept telling him, ‘Slow down, Jack.’ He was on the phone through their entire meal. He obviously didn’t hear her.”
Tenille brushes her fingers across my cheek, and kisses my mouth. “I’m glad you’re not like that anymore, Raji.”
“Well, I was never quite like Jack. And getting to know Shelva changes me every day. I thank her, not only for my sake, but for that of you and the children.”
Tenille wipes away her sudden happiness tears. Her joshing had lightened the moment.
I smooth her face with my handkerchief and say, “The sentiment, ‘He took-it-easy’d,’ is something I wholeheartedly agree with. It is one I am certain most, maybe all my ancestors here at the Fiction House learned to practice.”
“Fortunately, it does not appear, mine sweet druzhyna husbant Raji, that you will be featured in a news story like Jack’s anytime soon, eh?” Tenille is mimicking, kindly, great grandmother, Shelva.
Shelva was always involved fully with life, every moment of her long life. Her thousands of stories certainly prove it.
Tenille imitates in a loving way the odd little Muscovite sayings Shelva wrote of, about her ‘Amerika talk’.
“I learn English; Russian steppes by steppes. The consonants of North and South Amerika, they are an ocean away from the consonants of Asia and Europe. That distance – it is good. Because, then there is no worry about the Czar’s Cossack butchers disemvoweling you.”
Shelva’s ‘husbant’, her sweet druzhyna, said this when George Bernard Shaw published Pygmalion. “My Fair Lady, Shelva. It wasn’t long before she was speaking English as well as Professor Higgins, and writing like Shaw in her never-ending journals.”
* * *
Shelva and the recently deceased Jack, I wonder if they had anything at all in common. Jack made money, and at 52, that money made his widow smile, slightly. Shelva at twice that age was still travelling, assisting in raising children, sharing wisdom, helping fellow Muscovites to freedom; and writing of past, present and yet to come experiences.
So many ‘stills’ for Shelva. I picture her as always smiling.
I don’t think, of all the times I saw Jack, I ever saw him smile.
©2016 Mark Rogers
(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Read more about Shelva and meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE, but that’s a different story. It’s available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.)