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Welcome to the 2020 APRIL A to Z Challenge
if you would like to know more about the A to Z Challenge, founded 11 years ago by Arlee Bird at Tossing Out, read here
for my theme revealed , go here on Blogger
On WordPress, read here
This Seventh extract from my novel in progress will appear half way through most likely.
Brief synopsis of plot and characters :
Mathilda, my first main character, is American and lives in New York City. She is a student at NYU where she is preparing a thesis on the origins and developments of African American Music. She is a first person narrator. Her timeframe is 2005.
Bartolomé, my second main character, is Cameroonian and lives in Yaoundé. He is a professor of Mathematics at the University there. I will be using a third-person omniscient narrator for this character but from his Point of View. His timeframe is the early ’90’s.
G is for Georgia Ghost
My appointment with Charles Whitworth was at 10 a.m. , Friday the 13th. I was loitering outside the bookstore gazing at the gulls swooping in from the Ocean. An army of potent grey clouds were advancing towards the shore. Charles’ Bookcorner was wedged between an old stained-glass chapel and a Barber’s shop on the only avenue not bordered by the luxury properties that Jekyll Island was famous for.
The tiny bell above the door tingled as Charles opened the door and pushed a stop of wood under the frame with his slippered foot.
” Good Morning, there Mathilda. How’re you doing today ? Hope you’re not superstitious and all. “
” Well, thank you Charles for reminding me … and agreeing to meet with me … again. My uneasiness is coming from the sky, not the date, in fact, ” I replied with a grin.
Charles glanced up and humphed.
” April, you never know what kinda weather the wind’ll bring. Come in, come in. Whatever falls, we’ll be sheltered and warm. “
I stepped into the now familiar surroundings. Floor to ceiling bookshelves, musty dust and beeswax hit my nostrils.
” Sorry, I’m late opening. had to clear up a bit, my ghost has been at it again. “
” Ghost ! ” I exclaimed.
” More a friendly spirit guardian , I should call her. ‘ Cause I’m pretty sure she’s a woman.”
He saw my bewildered and somewhat alarmed face and continued,
” Haven’t I told you about her ? First things first, coffee ? Tea ? “
” Coffee, thanks, not really awake. Late night writing up my notes from Savannah. “
” Great town, so alive. Though I appreciate it when I get back to my den, here. “
He bustled about with the coffee-maker and cups, setting everything on the registrar counter. While the coffee was brewing, a strong whiff of freshly ground beans kissing the beams, I asked,
” So about your ghost ? “
” Ah, yes ! Well she hasn’t always been here, at least I didn’t know about her till last summer. It started with little things. One morning I came in and was emptying the latest boxes and went behind that aisle over there, or was it that one ? Anyway, there were a few books on the ground. I thought a customer had knocked them off the shelf and not bothered to put them back, they can be asses sometimes like that. But then I thought that I had gone behind that shelf the night before and there were no books lying around. So I put it down to my confusing one day with another until I picked up the books. “
He looked up at the ceiling and turned towards the hissing percolator . I started to wonder how long he was going to keep me in suspense when he swung round,
” You know what, I’ll show them to you. Just set these cups down. Milk, sugar ? “
” No, thanks, black for me. “
” Be back in a flash, ” before he poured the coffee.
He went behind another bookcase, not the one he had shown me and I could hear him rummaging and cussing. What a load of bull, I thought. He was just an untidy, forgetful old man, imagining things.
” Here they are,” he plonked three enormous volumes on the counter with a bang. I stared, nonplussed.
” Look at them, ” he pushed them towards me.
I picked the first one up and read :
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and other Tales, illustrated by Robert Cruikshanks.
I looked through the pages. It was a leather-bound book with golden lettering and black and white ink illustrations depicting eerie scenes.
” Ha, ha. You’re trying to fool with me. “
” No. Go on.”
The next one was Robert Burton’s , The Anatomy of Melancholy , an 1895 first edition.
” Wow,” I conceded.
The last one, I had to re-read the title and author several times,
The Historical Buildings of Jekyll Island by Sarah Cullough Mc Kay, 1938.
I had never heard of it. I had expected a revelation. Then it suddenly dawned on me and I asked Charles,
” When was this Bookstore built ? “
” In 1890 but it hasn’t always been a book retailer’s and the whole walls had been moved three times before it came here. The last location was by the riverside and it was even an infirmary during the Great Depression in the 30’s and early 40’s. “
” And who the hell is Sarah Cullough Mc Kay ? “
” Beats me,” chuckled Charles.
” A nurse, a mermaid ..? Maybe she’s my ghost, I saw her once at the end of the corridor from the storeroom. “
” You what ? “
inspired by a collection of short stories I bought in 2008 on my last trip to the South-East, in Barnes and Nobles, Savannah.
Ghosts of the Georgia Coast by Don Farrant, Pineapple Press, Saratoga, Florida, 2002.
Story 18, p 97 : Are Great Writers the Resident Ghosts?
Notes : My character Charles Whitworth is loosely based on my former Professor of Shakespearian Studies, back when I was doing my Masters in Anglophone literature and history, in 2006, at the University of Montpellier, remotely. I have kept his name, considering he hasn’t replied to my emails since 2012 when I last went to his seminar at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. So, I’ll inform him, if ever this novel is published and if he doesn’t like it, tough luck.
I attended my first seminar in 2006, then enjoyed it so much that I kept coming back, although I wasn’t a student anymore. The week included 3 plays by The Royal Shakespeare Company, conferences before and after-performance talks, meetings and Q&A with actors and directors, backstage visits. All in beautiful Stratford, in the Spring. Charles only admitted he was an American, Georgia born and raised, on my second visit to Stratford with his group : he has an impeccable British accent, studied Shakespeare at Birmingham University, England, then married a French woman and finished his career at Montpellier University.
He let me come back to the seminar every year until he retired in 2012, because he needed the extra paying guests for the seminar to be viable : we need to be at least 8 (French M.A. /PhD students and Professors). He used to call me the Groupie because I engaged a lot with the actors at the Dirty Duck, post-performance hang-out. After four years of bantering, I asked him to stop, as I was already 45. So he switched to honorary student …
I continued going back to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for their own seminar, Living Shakespeare, in 2013 and 2014, but it was in September and the atmosphere in the group wasn’t the same. (c.f. French post of yesterday). I wanted to go back this year, I miss the plays, having seen Henry IV at the Globe in London last April, and my B&B in Stratford (the last one, where I went 4 years running). But that’s not happening !
Georgia by Cee Lo Green, 2010, stand-up at Clemson University, watch here
I’s O.K. here
Supernatural, Season 15, trailer watch here
discovered this series last year and gobbled up the first 14 seasons in 6 months … so now, the trickle of episodes is absolute torture.
My favourite Haunted House, Disneyland California, take the ride here (1970s video)
which I visited at 5, in 1970, while living in New York. It took me 20 years to ride it again at Eurodisney, now Disneyland Paris, 1991. Then again in Orlando, in 2008 with my three children. I’ll probably have to wait another 15 years before I can take my hypothetical grand-children, they’re not in any hurry …
Back to the Future 2, 1989, alternate reality, watch here
graveyard scene, here
I saw the exhibit at Universal Studios, when we went out West in 1991, but I didn’t feel like going back to Disneyland in Los Angeles.
Brazilian Music, Chico Buarque, Vai Passar, here
Meu Caro Amigo, here
Melhores Músicas, full album, here
Documents and Photos from our trip in 2008.
Jekyll Island , plan with my notes.
Look what I found, this morning, rummaging through my travel file from our 2008 trip.
Don Farrant did his homework ! I hadn’t even opened this paper since I took it from a stand there, and if I had known, I would certainly have stopped by this bookstore.
the Beach at Jekyll Island , April 2008
Thank you for stopping by, and congratulations on getting to the end …
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Take care and stay safe.