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George Ferryman - 1

In 2019, I started meeting regularly with a couple of friends to exercise our creative writing muscles. I enlisted my family to write random words on pieces of paper that were then placed in three little red buckets: People, Places, and Things. In restaurants, parks, on benches by the river -- Rudy, Suzie and I would take turns pulling a paper from each bucket. With 15 minutes on the clock, we would write a story using those words as inspiration. On a cool evening in October, we pulled the following: An ice cream man, Mount Fuji, and a talisman. That was the night George Ferryman was born.

Chapter 1

Monday, October 2

George looked at the check in disbelief: $25,000. More money than he had made all last year as an ice cream man. He left the lawyer’s office in a dollar-induced daze, day-dreaming of possibilities. After a quick stop at the package store and travel agency, he made his way home.

Later that afternoon, sitting alone in his rented room, George spread the brochures out on the nubby, grey carpet around him: Mount Fuji, Paris and the Bahamas stared back at him, their glossy sheen reflected in his heavy-lidded eyes. He pored over each one, trying to imagine himself into the scene on the cover. What would he do there? How would he act? The thought of changing his name flashed through his brain. Rubbing elbows with other tourists with a name like Hugo Suave would give him a fresh start, but no, his passport would rat him out. Besides, Hugo would be the type to wear designer clothing and gold chains, neither of which George owned.

Hours later he awoke on the floor, neck stiff, Mount Fuji stuck to his cheek. The doorbell rang, cutting through the groggy aftertaste of his nap. He rose awkwardly from the floor, favoring his left knee. The joint was stiff. He hobble-walked to the door, unaware that Marilyn was on the other side.


Marilyn hated her job. In fact, she had hated her last three jobs, but this was the worst of the bunch: serving summons to the unsuspecting. She was a harbinger of bad news and it made her cranky knowing that people referred to her as “that bitch who handed me the envelope." The job made the bile in her stomach rise to her throat on the daily.

Unlike a florist announcing love in the shape of red petals and green stems, Marilyn's deliveries were fodder for dinner table arguments, depressing bar stool tales, and tears shed alone in the shower. Marilyn steeled herself and knocked three times on the door like a crow warning of an impending storm.

Caw. Caw. Caw.

A crumpled man answered. “Are you George Ferryman?” she asked.

He barely nodded his head. She shoved the envelope into his hand, “You’ve been served.”

She turned on her heels and walked down the steps, down the sidewalk, down the street. Down, down, down until she couldn’t get any lower.

[Read the next Installment here.]


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