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mark wood

by Mark Wood

Carved in Stone

(Wherein the Scribe and our Hero converse pleasantly on The Quietest Tuesday Night of the Year, bereft of the usual crowd of Lunatics, Hangers-On and Ne’er-Do-Wells.)

The concentration was visible on Smokin’ Joe’s furrowed brow as he sat down at the table to write a letter. “Hello Sheilla” he wrote, then asked me how many “L’s in Sheila?” “One.” I said, which caused him to utter a torrent of profanity, ball up the paper and flick it in the woodstove. I was a little bit surprised because he had the envelope completed and it seems that while he was possessed with beautiful handwriting, words failed him. Perhaps I could help, after all I’ve been chronicling his adventures for years and could easily articulate his thoughts if I knew his intentions. He calmed down a bit and proudly showed me some pictures of a renovation he had completed on a beautiful, older home and was attempting to provide an invoice. I took the writing materials and offered to remedy the situation, surely between the two of us we could write this letter. And while I could find the words my handwriting skills were long forgotten and retain only the ability to write my name, thanks mostly to the repeated requests of banks who are big fans of my autograph.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m reduced to printing but to me the words are as good as if they were carved in stone.

“Hello Sheila”, I printed perfectly, the envy of every school-aged child, to be sure. “What are you trying to say Joe?” I inquired.

“Here’s the pics!” he exclaimed triumphantly.

“Enclosed photographs of recent renovation for your approval.” I printed majestically.

Considering the opening statement a complete success we poured up a round of Smoked Brown ales and toasted our combined mastery of pen and paper.
This went on for a while and after much back-slapping we remembered our mission and launched a renewed attack on literacy.

“What’s next?” I cajoled.

“Wants ta get paaaid.” he drawled in a distinct accent that comes up out of the woods of Olde St. Philip’s with dialect narrow and hard to master.

I was on a roll by then, “Please consider this note as an invoice for work completed in a timely fashion.” in perfect printing at a much higher grade-level than previously thought possible.

This set off another well deserved round of celebratory toasts to lubricate the machinery of the mind, as writers are often wont to do.

“Anything else?” I roared. “S’friggin perfect!” declared Smokin’ Joe and as we all know, if it wasn’t it’d be burned.

“Sincerely, Smokin’ Joe.” I printed with all the concentration and skill I had left, then fell back in my chair exhausted.

Smokin’ Joe deftly grabbed the note, wrapped the photos in it and stuffed the works in the envelope. I intended that he would transcribe my notes with his perfect handwriting and considered this a bit of a setback.

“Does Sheila even know who Smokin’ Joe is?” I inquired.

“Guarantee-shee-dooo...” he drawled again, “everybody knows who Smokin’ Joe is.”

Mark is also a regular columnist with The Independent (.ca) newspaper.