Jo Janoski\’s Blog

Writings, Observations, Poetry, Stories

INSPECTOR HAWK August 28, 2005

Filed under: Short Stories — jojanoski @ 1:11 pm


(A writing workshop assignment I tried

using a deserted car, a waterfall, and CSI)

A deserted white car, water gushing over a ragged cliff in a silvery waterfall, a missing accountant from back in town–another day, another mysterious disappearance. Inspector Bill Blake let a whispery sigh escape as he opened his notebook and clicked his favorite pen.

"Yep, this is the missing guy's license plate," he murmured while scribbling copious notes in his book. Looking inside, he spied three crumpled beer cans scattered on the floor. Lighting up a cigar, he nodded to a technician as that fellow took samples of red residue splattered in a Rorschach pattern on the driver's seat, probably dried blood.

"Looks like foul play," the inspector continued.

"But there's no body," a new voice behind him stated.

He turned on his heel to spy a woman. A blasted woman standing there with a clipboard. She raised her hand to shake his. "Pleased to meet you! I'm Inspector Jonie Hawk," she said.

"Hmmph!" was the only response Bill could offer. Not another dame on his case!

"They sent me because I have some experience in this area…tracking down missing murder victim's bodies in remote areas."

"What?" What the Hades was she talking about?

"I actually tracked down a cadaver once in a cornfield. Do you realize how huge a cornfield is? I'm really very talented."

"That's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard."

"No, really, it isn't. I'm part Native American. I think it must run in my blood, deciphering trails and such. It was easy to follow the tracks to where the body was dragged."

"Humph! And is that your only qualification, honey? You can sniff out a corpse?"

"My name is Inspector Hawk, not "honey."

Suit yourself, "Inspector Hawk," Bill quipped.

Jonie shrugged her shoulders in disgust. "So what do you have? Only that blood for analysis. It hardly proves he is dead. I'm presuming you did check the license plate, right?"

"Yes, I did check the license plate," Bill rattled back, cursing under his breath.

"Inspector Blake–that is your name, isn't it? Not "Imbecile Blake" or something. I'd appreciate a little respect." Jonie's eyes clouded over and her cheeks flushed.

"I'd appreciate a little respect," he mimicked back at her. "Sure, sweetie!"

"Are you for real?"

"Yes, I am, and I'm about to prove it to you by solving this case, regardless of the incompetent help they send me, meaning you, by the way."

"Oooh! I CAN'T WORK WITH THIS MAN!" Jonie squealed, walking away with a hand to her head like the worst headache ever loomed.

Returning shortly, she stood by in silence, watching Bill work.

"I think we're going to have to dredge this lake," Bill announced. "The body must be in there."

"You don't know that there has been a murder!" Jonie said.

"WELL, WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE?" Bill yelled back.

"I'm just saying. I see no signs of a struggle. There's some blood, but not a lot of it, indicating there wasn't profuse bleeding. How can you be sure the guy is dead or worse yet, murdered."

Bill glared at her. "He was a happily married man. I doubt that he jumped in the lake on his own; therefore he must have been thrown in…after being murdered. We didn't find a wallet or any personal effects, by the way."

"So you're saying if there's no wallet or money, the motive must have been robbery."

"That's right, sweetcakes!"

Jonie looked away, then turned back again and stepped closer to Bill.

"Look, I see evidence here that the man walked away from the car. He wasn't murdered."

"You've got to be wrong!"

"Because I'm a woman and what does a woman know?"

"Something like that…" Bill chewed on his cigar and turned away from her. Flipping out his cell phone, he called for the dredging crew to head out to the lake. When he finished the call, Jonie was gone.

"Still no luck, Inspector Blake," the officer stated.

"Tell 'em to keep trying," Bill replied. They'd been dredging the lake for two hours, and nothing! It wasn't making any sense. The body had to be in there. Taking a drag off his cigar, he blew out again in a stream of frustration. And where had that woman gone? She left before he even had sent for the dredging crew and never did come back.

"Probably went to go powder her nose and got distracted by a fashion show," he murmured. An uneasy thought tugged at the back of his brain. What if she was right? What if the guy wasn't dead, just out there in the woods someplace?

He spied the thicket of green and brown. A person could get lost in there, although why would you go into the woods in the first place? If she was right, then he had judged her too quickly, assuming she was another airhead dame. "Nah, not possible! She couldn't be right," he mumbled, taking another drag from his stogie.

But what if she was? Well, if she was, then I want a date with her, he considered. I'd want to know a woman who could out-think me. Yes, indeed, I'd really want to know her better.

His eyes rested on the boat with nets dragging in the water, searching for the man's body. He could still be dead, just not in the lake, Bill reasoned. Then he'd be half-right, sort of. Wouldn't he? Damn! He hated the thought of that dame outwitting him.

"Inspector!" A voice cut into his thoughts. It was her voice, that low sexy hum of a voice…

He looked up to spy her approaching from the forest, a man by her side.

"I found your 'body', Inspector! Here it is…walking next to me!"

"I see you, Inspector Hawk!" he replied. Oh, crap! She was right! The guy was alive. A deep moan reverberated through his head.

"He went into the woods to…ah, 'relieve himself,' and he got lost," Jonie said. "Oh, and he cut his finger in the car popping open a beer can. Thus, the blood. If he hadn't been having a beer party, he might have had the sense not to lose his way when he went wandering," she added.

Bill saw the sunlight trickling through her auburn hair. You know, she was a beautiful woman, really. And smart enough to outsmart him…so attractive.

"Inspector Hawk, would you like to have dinner with me?" he asked.

"NO, never!" she replied. "You've got to be kidding!"

Well, maybe she wasn't so smart after all.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski


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My Fountain Pen August 27, 2005

Filed under: Essays — jojanoski @ 4:36 pm

My Fountain Pen …..


Ugh! Black ink on my fingers again! It's my fountain pen leaking, the one I bought last year. My husband, Ron, hates to borrow a pen at my desk. He ends up with black splotches on his fingers, too. I don't mind the stains though because I love fountain pens.

To use one, I have to be patient, taking a calm moment to remove the lid before I can write. That is in direct contrast to my usual act of grabbing a ballpoint in a heated rush to jot down a note. The fountain pen makes me take pause. If I'm in such a hurry, why the heck would I buy a writing instrument that is hard to use? Well, I guess my penchant for everything old-fashioned is the motivation. And I like what the pen does to me.

It pulls me back to a slower time when, frankly, people actually had time–to pause and remove a pen lid–unlike today when we just can't seem to stop dashing about like meteors demanding speed and efficiency at every turn. My first experience with fountain pens was in grade school, St. Rosalia's in Greenfield, as a matter of fact. The old church school thrived on old-fashioned ideas, and the use of fountain pens was one of them. The nuns forbade us to use ballpoints. Rightfully so, they feared we would scratch our names and more on the desktops. In high school, we were permitted to use ballpoints finally, and I soon forgot the old fountain pens I used.

Last year I suddenly missed using one. The smooth flow, the thick black line, the easy motion that puts down a mark on paper–no pushing hard or hurriedly like a ballpoint. You take your time and form the letters just so–it's like an art form. I found a neat web site that sells pens. I can't afford them, but I am fascinated by the array of designs available–Sapphires, Dragons, Serpents, Chinese–the ornamentations are colorful and compelling. You haven't lived until you see a snake curling around the barrel of a thick black pen. I got on their mailing list just so I can enjoy perusing all the styles each week.

If you feel like stopping the rush and slowing down in a pleasant way, buy yourself a fountain pen and step back in time for a while. Write nice and pretty–slow and easy…



Copyright 2005 JO Janoski



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Coffee is the Best Medicine August 26, 2005

Filed under: Serial — jojanoski @ 8:00 pm

#14 Coffee is the Best Medicine…

August 26, 2005

…The Strange Happenings in a Coffee Shop

(A serial. You may start reading at any point in the story.

Why not start with this episode?)

I went home that night feeling content. I had left in the morning looking for a solution to my writer's block and had filled my day with colorful characters and intrigue. Butch, Brenda, Rose, and Alfred (in whatever form he returned)–they all stole my heart away. Even the geeky inspector transformed to a happy fellow once Rose stuffed him full of her good food. When I left the shop, he was still there with a smile on his face. Rose's pancakes can do that to a person, I reckon.

That night I dreamt of pancakes, pancakes soaked in butter and syrup, and coffee. In my dreams I guzzled coffee. I also chased hobgoblins out of my way…hobgoblins that resembled Alfred. When I woke, I assured myself Alfred would return looking far from a hobgoblin. At least I hoped so.

I needed to get to work…writing; but the next day a restlessness overtook me. First, I couldn't feel comfortable at the office computer; then I decided to use my portable keyboard. I like to go outside and work under the trees while birds chirp and the sun shines. I wasn't there long before my mind wandered to the coffee shop.

There was something about that place…it was like a playroom. As soon as I walked in, it seemed about as ordinary as sugar plum fairies. Let's face it! Not one person there was what I would call "normal." Each one was a caricature.

So I abandoned my writing bench and picked up the keyboard and started walking. Who knows what I might be missing? When I reached the end of the block, it hit me.

The coffee shop was a form of escapism for me, a vacation away from it all. Well, that didn't seem right. I couldn't afford to waste time on a vacation. That's when I decided to make it into something valuable. I would do an article about the place. And I would begin by interviewing each of my new friends. Yes, it was time to get to work

To be Continued

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski


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Coffee is the Best Medicine August 22, 2005

Filed under: Serial — jojanoski @ 3:53 pm

#13 Coffee is the Best Medicine…

August 22, 2005

…The Strange Happenings in a Coffee Shop

(You may start reading at any point in the story.

It isn't complicated! This is Part 13.)

"Oh no! Another one to break in…" Rose murmured over my shoulder.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"The last one just retired. He didn't give us any trouble. Now I've got this new guy to contend with."

"I see," I replied. Although I really didn't. The coffee shop was filthy, a health violation waiting to happen. How in the heck could Rose neutralize the actions of this inspector?

I'd been to many crappy restaurants in my day. Some I would never return to; some I ignored the dirt because the food was excellent. A person will make sacrifices for an excellent medium rare steak or a perfectly done baked potato; but the coffee shop…well, the java was perfect; but otherwise there wasn't much good I could say about the place. Except for the people–I'd become truly fond of the people–Rose, Brenda, Butch, and Alfred. I supposed my loyalty to them would make me work hard to keep this cafe open.

To my surprise, I spied Brenda already getting to work. She was wrapping her arm around the inspector's and walking him to a table,

"Now what would a handsome man like yourself be looking to have at our place today?" she asked. Butch dashed over and pulled out a chair for the man.

That fellow seated himself like a man considered royalty. "You'll not flatter me or distract my attentions from the violations in this place," he stated.

"This one is going to require the big guns," Rose murmured from her perch next to me. I watched as she reached under the counter for a special can of coffee. A fragrant cinnamon aroma woke up my olfactory senses as I watched her open the can, measure the coffee, and start the pot dripping. With one hand she undid her top two buttons while with the other she reached in the refrigerator to the back, bringing out a package of bacon. I recognized the wrapper as some of the best stuff, not the usual daily fare with lots of fat and little meat. The kitchen transformed to a whirlwind of bacon cooking, coffee brewing, eggs being scrambled next to a griddle full of pancakes and home fries.

I felt jealous of the inspector, breakfast being my favorite meal which I find enjoyable any time of day. But this food was not being cooked up for me. It was being prepared for the health inspector. Before long, Rose appeared at his table carrying a huge tray with the magnificent food.

She smiled at the fellow making eye contact while laying the array of dishes before him. When the tray was empty, she sat at his table, crossing her hands and smiling.

"I hope you like the food," she said. "Eat hardy. There's plenty more where that came from."

To be Continued

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski


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Big Brother August 21, 2005

Filed under: TV — jojanoski @ 10:09 am

Big Brother…

I gotta tell ya, folks, I'm still reeling from Big Brother Thursday night. As you know, I wanted Kaysar voted back in. He was, so that's great. It didn't last long–when Jennifer double-crossed him… [making a note here: never trust a cheerleader] and he ended up on the block.

But that wasn't the most upsetting part. It was Howie and Janelle. Howie pulled a Jekyll/Hide, turning from a nice guy to hell on wheels, hurling crap at the other team that made my skin crawl. It wasn't in the actual words; it was the venom. April was reduced to tears when he called her husband fat and threatened to eat her dog. Sounds weird in retrospect, but it was her reaction that made it deadly. He and Janelle had choice words for them all and they didn't speak softly–they yelled this crap, shooting it off like machine guns–rat, tat, tat. They called it "psychological warfare"; I call it methods of last resort by people not worth their weight in dog feces. LOL. Thankfully, Kaysar and Rachel were noticeably absent from the festivities. Kaysar, later that night was voted out; I suspect he may have been relieved to get out of there. I would be.

On Saturday night, Jennifer got voted out; I'd say she deserved it. It isn't like nobody ever lied on this program (remember the mad doctor), but her lukewarm denial that she lied to Kaysar from the beginning of their deal–it doesn't wash.

The bottom line for me is if either Howie or Janelle wins this thing, I'm going to have to puke. Now I don't know who to root for. Frankly, this isn't the most lovable bunch. I'm not even sure this is fun anymore…

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski


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Pittsburgh is Busting Out All Over August 20, 2005

Filed under: Essays — jojanoski @ 4:52 pm

Pittsburgh is Busting Out All Over


Sheesh! Pittsburgh is busting out all over this week! A water main break downtown paralyzed the city, stranding workers and disrupting a major TV and radio network. Witnesses claim the water spurted six feet high out of the crumbled downtown street. Basement flooding, streets with water rolling, cars under water–what a mess!

My husband and I displayed at the Three Rivers Arts Festival for over 20 years, and as bad as that was for weather catastrophes, this would have really topped them all if it happened in June. For most of the month of June, those hardy individuals (artists and craftsmen) pitch tents to sell their wares, despite warnings and experience with Gateway Center's high winds and torrential downpours. I wonder how they would react with a geyser flooding like we had this week.

Gateway Center wouldn't be too bad. It didn't get flooded–although if it did, one of those artists would probably rig something to use as a canoe and then paddle around to help others. That's just the kind of people they are–creative and compassionate. The bad part would be flooding in the parking garage. I could imagine vans filled with overstock inaccessible and possibly covered in water. I wonder if insurance would cover that. The second calamity would be no sales–no people–no sales. Ouch! That would hurt–van covered in water, no way to get home, and the final slap–no business.

Not to worry–Like I said, these folks are resilient. They would still be joking–I can hear it now, "Time to build an ark! Only two per art or craft!"

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski


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Tea and Chocolates Sample Chapter August 18, 2005

Filed under: My Books,My Published Works — jojanoski @ 4:07 pm

A sample chapter from my first book, “Tea and Chocolates :

“Tea and Chocolates”
by Jo Janoski

Chapter 14

Stopping only briefly to glance at her watch, Emily hurried down the street. Seven o�clock � it�s a good thing Tom cancelled.
When he called from the drug store phone, his voice and demeanor were strained, but he would not say why. Emily presumed that he didn�t want to talk in a public place where others could listen.
It was just as well. A plumbing problem at the girls� house now took center stage. A quick inspection was in order before calling for help.
A wet snow sheeted down, making the evening cold and sloppy. By the time she arrived, Emily�s glasses had become covered with water from melted snowflakes slamming against the lenses in the driving snow. A dry hanky from her pocket came to good use to dry them before she knocked on the back door of the house. It was wearisome coming by the back way, but necessary to keep her identity unknown to the residents, a practice to which she still strictly adhered.
�Emily, I�m glad you are here. We have a visitor in the front room,� Rachel said as she pulled the old door open with a jerk. �I�m not sure whether I should let her stay or not.�
�Who is she?�
�I don�t know her name. She seems to be in a state of confusion.�
�Hmm, let me take a look at her,� Emily answered, leaning against the service door. It pushed open a crack to reveal a woman slumped forward in a chair. Dressed in dark clothes, a hood obscured her face. The door squeaked, and the sad figure then turned to look toward the noise; her face became visible. Emily jumped back to let the door swing shut. Gracie! Her heart drumming, Emily leaned against the wall for support. What is Gracie doing here?
�What�s wrong?� Rachel queried.
Emily turned her head away. �I think I know her,� she mumbled. �I don�t want her to see me here. Go in and see what you can find out.�
Emily was glad when Rachel left the room. Hands trembling, it was almost impossible to pick up the kettle and put it on for tea. Gracie here! She must not find out about Emily�s involvement in the women�s home. She would go straight to her Mother and tell.
Laying out the china teapot, Emily collapsed in a chair at the table.
Thoughts swirled in her mind of Gracie�s meanness a few weeks ago when she told Emily to stay away from Tom. A sick anger filled her heart. She felt like screaming! A bitter person like Gracie didn�t belong in this place.
Rachel returned, biting her lip, wearing a worried expression.
�She�s pregnant! The man responsible told her to get rid of the baby, and she seems confused as to what to do. I couldn�t get anything else out of her; it looks like she hasn�t slept or eaten in a while. She seems a little feverish too.�
Almost tipping over her tea, Emily grabbed the red and white china cup just in time to save it from destruction. Gracie unmarried and pregnant! She was in trouble. This would bring disgrace upon her family. A moment ago Emily was consumed with hatefulness only to realize now that Gracie had problems far greater than she could have imagined.
�Give her the room in the rear on the second floor. It is bright and cheerful. I will start making some poached eggs and toast. Maybe she can get that down. Here, take her a cup of tea to start.�
Emily dashed about the kitchen to fulfill her plans. The activity seemed to come on like magic, no small task considering Emily was not an easy hand in the kitchen.
Later, after Gracie was fed and settled in her room, Emily considered what to do about a doctor for her. Many would frown about helping an unmarried, pregnant woman, and Emily wasn�t sure who would help Gracie, perhaps the new doctor in town.
Feeling thankful for her family�s status, she knocked on his door that evening. Recognizing her immediately, the man who answered seemed impressed by her presence and fumbled about, straightening his tie as he spoke.
�Well, Miss McNamara, what a surprise!�
�Dr. Bauer, I was wondering if I could have a word with you,� Emily stated in a dignified fashion.
Opening the door wider, he motioned her in, offering her a seat by the fireplace. It was a simple wooden rocker, but perfectly suitable considering the rustic appearance of the room. Indeed, there were no upholstered pieces at all, only a couple of wooden chairs and an old desk. Having just arrived in the area, he apparently had not furnished the room yet. Smoothing her skirt as she directed her gaze at him, Emily considered how best to explain her problem.
He was a new doctor in the neighborhood. To be truthful, there were two other practitioners in the area already. He seemed like a good man, though, who, no doubt, would soon win over patients for his practice.
Towering at six-foot tall, well above Emily, his startling blue eyes seemed capable of reading one�s life story in just a single glance. They were eyes of honesty.
�Well, I was hoping you could help a friend of mine.�
�And she is sick?�
�Yes, she has a fever and she is pregnant,� she barely whispered the last word. �She is pregnant, and not married.�
�And you are afraid I will not treat her?� he asked, his voice husky.
�Well, the more established doctors would frown on it.�
�Miss, I am a doctor, not a priest. I have vowed to help the sick, not judge them.�
�I didn�t mean to offend!�
�No offense taken,� he cut her off with a smile.
�She appears to have been wandering for a while, without rest or food. We gave her a bed and something to eat, but I am still worried.�
�You must take me to her then.�
�Doctor, there is one other thing.� Emily blushed. �She doesn�t know I am helping her, and I need to keep it a secret. She must never know I helped her, not ever.�
�How unusual!� he paused, and then added, �� but none of my business. Shall we go?�

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