The Quotable

Sixteen Stories Without Beginnings or Endings

the cane

I was playing with a springy cane, walking through the community center and whacking things.  In a bed lay a familiar comedian dressed as his grumpy-old-man character with sheets pulled up to his neck.  He saw me and grumped, Get outta here!

I grinned, held up the cane, and playfully whacked the bed near where his feet would’ve been.  It made a comically loud noise.

He sat up, said he could use that in his act.


cold case

Near our class reunion site, I stumbled upon an old gun barrel wedged so deep in an oak that the trunk had grown over it.  I glanced around at my aged fellow classmates.  Any one of us could have done it, I speculated.



My father and brother reminisced about our old neighborhood while I listened in.

They mentioned a wooded area bordering the lake and a small structure that just peeked through the trees.  I had always thought it was some kind of boat house, and said so.

Oh no, they corrected me.  That was the abbey where the little monks lived.



My girlfriend, from Kenya, was competing in distance track events. She  expected to only form part of the field, not seriously contend for a medal.  But we were in good cheer, taking full advantage of our stay in Olympic Village to shop and socialize.

At a clothing store she was approached by a teammate who dragged along her new boyfriend, a huge weightlifter named Carlos.

The friend looked bored with his company and seemed glad to run into us.  The preliminary introductions were made, and I shook Carlos’ big paw and became the beneficiary of his lopsided grin.

I found myself paired with him while the two women left to chat in the changing room.  You’ll be friends, his girlfriend said as she left us.  I just know you will.


finger-comb jesus

My girlfriend fell asleep while I was stroking her hair and had a dream of Jesus.


frozen egg

My well-to-do neighbor, never too comfortable in the kitchen, had attempted to prepare Easter eggs for coloring by putting them in the freezer.

Afterwards, one of the little girls at the potluck was astonished and held an egg aloft:  Oh, you froze an egg!


hard to swallow

A man named Mick grew angry when he saw me out with my girlfriend. He drunkenly claimed to have been going out with her himself for the past three months, or roughly the same period as me.

My girlfriend rolled her eyes and shrugged, neither affirming nor denying.

So Mick and I went to a pub to commiserate and stand each other drinks.  He ordered the first round, a tall lager, with cold beads of condensation dripping down the glass.

I took a sip and found myself choking a bit.  This beer had some kind of citrusy chews in it.

Shortly afterwards, The Mick left the bar with another woman.



I am procrastinating a lot lately.  Call me H. Rider Laggard.


let me just see

My girlfriend told me that her cousin had torn a tendon and all the medical appointments might delay our seeing one another.  So as I held the phone, I searched through the kitchen drawers in hopes I might find a spare part for her cousin there.


looky, cooky

You don’t have to e-mail me a picture of every great meal you prepare.  Enough with the “screen-savours.”


mother nature’s son

Paul McCartney had died, and it just seemed the thing to do to have my students write an essay on his music.  Even if they didn’t know much about the former Beatle beforehand, the morning-to-night coverage insured that they had something to write about.

Yet I had in class one holdout, a young man who’d been homeschooled most of his life and whose family didn’t own a TV.  He approached my desk, said he sure was sorry to learn of my friend’s death, but he didn’t know the man and hardly knew what to say.  So I said, C’mon, how about “Hey Jude,” how about “Let it Be?” He shook his head.  I went down the list of titles, mentioned “The Long and Winding Road,” and at that one I swear his ears stood up like a dog’s.

I started to hum the song, and he listened intently.  Then he said, No, that doesn’t sound like the road to our place.


party animal

I was volunteering at the thrift store when a group of teens stopped in en route to an outdoor summer fest.  Some gravitated immediately to the antique hats, tie-dye t-shirts or wacky sunglasses; others headed for the back room and even stranger items.

Fifteen minutes later, working the register, I heard a soft flop-flopping sound and an unearthly rasping noise as one of the teens approached.

He was wearing flippers and breathing through an old aqualung which had sat on the shelves for years.  How much? I heard through the tube.

For you, a special price, I said.


true diamond

Baseball fields would be more fun to run around if they were in the shape of true diamonds, I reflected, contemplating the pleasant scene before me.  Long paths led base to base through the park and under overarching trees. You could stroll point-to-point backwards, or in any direction you wanted.

Actually, this might not have been a baseball field.


the underdog

My girlfriend woke up scratching her leg, having dreamt that a little dog was running underneath the skin.


voracious reader

I’ve been doing a lot of reading at the table lately: the story of acai, the raisin bran story, and the story of spelt.  And I’d recommend all of them to you, particularly the raisin bran story.


what’s for dinner?

Out of the blue, all of Rina’s childhood friends came over as I was making stir fry and wanted to try some.  We haven’t seen you in a while, I said.


M.V. Montgomery’s most recent book is Circle, Triangle, Square (NAP Magazine & Books).

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Issue 4 - Beginnings and Endings