Til Death Do Us Part


“Rose & Thorn”  Short Story Award

Til Death Do Us Part
by Donald L. Vasicek

Vermillion Capulet’s hit with a hammer eyes jerked. The pain, evident in the crimson edges and disbelief, catapulted as she bungled the ring in her hand. The metallic noise struck the dead cement floor. It cracked the noiselessness like a car horn blown in her ear. She gripped her head tightly.  Her picket fence teeth stood like a barrier behind her cherry red lips. If you looked closely, you could see an edge of blood in the left corner of her mouth.

Recent, ruby and scintillating against the churlish light, it shoved itself at her animated skin as though it had a deadline to meet.

Vermillion urged her tongue. From somewhere not out of the mystical abyss inside her mouth, she flickered over the blood. Near at hand, a coffee-maker perked.
The Dutch chocolate coffee odor bit at her gaze like an intrusion into the Vatican. The coffee spewed over the lidless glass pot. She watched it splatter on the floor. Enough so that she guarded it’s spitting dark splurges on a human hand.

She inspected her hand. A pane of mirror coffee pot lid plopped blood. A droplet at a time.
Vermillion’s stare chased them. One. Two. Three and so on. They began to suffocate the ring which had come to rest on the outstretched palm of the hand proximal to a matching one on the ring finger which would experience rigor mortis promptly. Suddenly, a telephone rang.

One of those presumptuous sounds, like an ultimatum.
“The Capulet’s, this is Vermillion,” Vermillion stammered.
“A thousand and one are waiting, Vermillion.”

Vermillion pressed at her side. Blood, almost black, saw the world around her side. Not caught up by the snow-white dress, the splotch continued to spread like black death seeping on every side of a meat dealer’s knife.

“Seems Harvester had his lascivious eye on another, Boris,”  Vermillion uttered.
“Obsequies to remarriage?”

“You might say I lost my ring somewhere in the vital fluid of life.” Vermillion slumped to the floor.

The phone followed her. It clumped on the hand of blood. The ring there, jumped like a bean, and landed on Vermillion’s heart, just above her laid open rib cage.


“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and Nebraska Summers

“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and Nebraska Summers
Donald L. Vasicek

Augusts in Ord, Nebraska were stifling. Temperatures were in the 90′s and the humidity was also as nearly high back in the 1940′s and 1950′s. When I wasn’t in the swimming pool, or on the golf course, or sitting in the shade with my twin brother eating some of Mom’s canned sauerkraut we filched from a dirt basement under our house and arguing who was a better baseball player, Mickey Mantle or Eddie Mathews (my favorite was Eddie Mathews, a third baseman for the Milwaukee Braves, he played third base, and his swing from the left hand side of the plate was as smooth as marble), I spent my time in the Ord Township Library.

Mrs. Smith was the librarian during those years. A somewhat grumpy woman who said little, but always dressed very professionally with her gray/white hair always up in a bun. I was intimidated by her, but equally, I was very close to her. I guess I got on her nerves because I was the kind of kid who always asked questions, probably too many questions, about books, like the Hardy Boys mysteries, “Is the newest one in yet, Mrs. Smith?” I asked in a wavering voice.

“Donnie,” she’d always say, I’ll call your Mom when it’s in.” She would turn then, and go back to stamping library cards, something which always fascinated me. She’d pound the stamper, an oblong-handled device with a square ink pad on the bottom of it, on staid cards. And what once was a blank space on the cards, now had a date on them.

So, I’d meander through the library, checking out books, until I found one. I remember one, “The Jungle Book” (1894) by Rudyard Kipling. A short story in the book, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”, about a valiant young mongoose’s adventures, particularly with cobra snakes. I sat down and begin reading it. Before I knew it, Mrs. Smith notified me that it was time for the library to close. So, I tried to check out the book, but she told me I’d have yet to have returned 3 other books that I checked out, and she warned, “You know the rule, you can only check out 3 books at a time.”

I said okay. I put the book back on the shelf and planned to return the next afternoon to check to see if the newest Hardy Boys Mystery book was in, and to read more “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”.

This past August I was in Ord with my brother to check out our roots back there. The temperature was in 90′s, so was the humidity. I stopped in the library. It was the only place in Ord that had WiFi, and I had some emails to attend to. So, I visited with Kristi Hagestrom, the director for a bit. I told her about Mrs. Smith and my visits to the library when I was a boy. She was riveted by the story. And I found it heart-warming to have been blessed with good health to be there and embrace the smell, the sounds, and the sights of a place that will always be cherished by me. For it was in the Ord Township Library that shaped my future for me and where I’m at today.

“How to Write a Story”

In every story, there must be a beginning, a middle,
and an end.  It must contain a main theme that holds
everything in the story together.  The story should also
have a main character who has to achieve a goal in
the story.  There should also be an opposing force,
an antagonist, and/or a villain who has the same goal,
but for a different reason and who goes about achieving
the goal in a different way.

Another key element to writing an effective story is
to make sure you are “showing” the story and not
“telling” the story.  The way you accomplish this is
to pay special attention to your verb usage.  Using
passive verbs results in “telling” the story.  Using
action verbs results in “showing” the story.  You
must have the instinct to know when to use
passive verbs and when to use action verbs.  This
will make a big difference in the effectiveness of
your story.

A compelling story always contains these story
elements.  It is in the execution of these elements
that determines how compelling your story will be.

I hope this is of help to you.

Award-Winning Writer/Filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek