“After The Death of Margaret: A True Novella” by S. Stephanie

January 2nd, 2024

.

.

“After the Death of Margaret: A True Novella” was a short-listed entry in our recently concluded 64th  Short Fiction Contest, and is published with the consent of the author.

.

.

___

.

.

photo by Pedro Coelho/Deviant Art/CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 DEED

.

After The Death of Margaret: A True Novella

by S. Stephanie

.

___

.

 

Chapter 1

After the death of Margaret,

there was no watermelon, no sugar you might say, especially if you were from the 70s and had read as many Brautigan novels as we all had. There was guilt.  Plenty of guilt to go around.  And each of us was handed our piece the way one might be handed a slice of pie.

I’ll tell you about it.  But first, let’s take a step back to see who Margaret was before the death, and where we were all standing.

.

Chapter 2

Before she died,

Margaret worked at University X.  I say X because it was one of those Universities that changed hands a lot.  It was started by the Doughman Brothers.  They were Benefactors and Fathers of the town.  But as their children did not follow in their footsteps, the University became a bar of soap that slipped through the hands of corporations several times, until it became nothing but a bubble that slid down the town’s drain.  But at its peak, Margaret began working there.

Margaret was not handsome, or pretty, or particularly noticeable.  But she was witty.  And she did know her history.  She dressed like she worked at a University X.  She worked hard like all University X employees work.  And she told us stories.  Stories about the Town Fathers and the Town’s Inner Workings and its Mice.  We loved listening to these.  She told them with relish, and sometimes she told them over and over again.  But we forgave her because when she told them she laughed, and she made us feel we were part of an inside joke.

.

Chapter 3

When Margaret was diagnosed with nystagmus

many of us said, Oh, too bad Margaret! or Sorry to hear that Margaret!  But then we said nothing.  Not even when it was apparent that her rapid eye movements were worsening.  Not even when we could not look her in the eye anymore for fear our own eyes would shake.

.

Chapter 4

My husband was never good at using a computer,

so on occasion invited Margaret over the house to fix things he perceived wrong with his. Margaret would fix it, then they would tell stories in the study and drink.  They both liked a cold beer with a Jack Daniels chaser.  Once, Margaret even took photographs of one of my books for me.  I needed it for a publisher, and it turned out she was better at photography than I was.  Who knew?  That was the thing about Margaret.  She was always popping up with a skill that surprised people.  After her death some of us wondered why we were so surprised at her many skills. Why we didn’t just assume she had them.

.

Chapter 5

Margaret went to other’s homes

and helped them with their computers, their photography needs, and even fixed one of their vacuum cleaners.

 .

Chapter 6

Just before University X became the Final University X

they fired the entire maintenance and cleaning staff.  They then brought in an outside company to clean the offices and classrooms.  Some of the staff had been there for 20 plus years.  Ralph was one of them.  Two months after being let go, Ralph had a fatal heart attack.  Some of the University X employees took up a collection for his wife. But Margaret was truly sad about his death.  She remembered celebrating his promotion to Head of Maintenance eight years earlier.  And she remembered sharing many stories with him.

.

Chapter 7

When the Final University X fired all the teachers who did not have PHDs

my husband saw the writing on the wall.  His own job was not in danger, but he knew how thin the bar of soap was becoming, how slippery the halls of University X were.  He found another job with a Good University.  Margaret, because she had no PHD, was fired from teaching.  But, because she was so good at fixing computers she was given a job in IT.  She considered herself lucky.  Her nystagmus seemed stable, her pay was stable; she continued telling her stories to the new staff.   Finally, the University X Bookstore was dismantled and went virtual.  And as this is where I worked all this time, I was let go.  I did not see Margaret again for several years.

.

Chapter 8

Apparently, the Final University X dissolved

and along with it, Margaret’s stories, the employee Christmas Parties, and the Friday Night Gatherings downtown at the Sports Club Bar and Grille. But that was not the death of Margaret.  Not quite yet.

 .

Chapter 9

A year later

I saw Margaret at a BBQ organized by one of the ex-employees of University X.  No one else showed up at the BBQ except Margaret and some ex-secretary I didn’t know.

When I asked Margaret what she was up to for work, she said she was consulting and went on to tell a story about one of the Mice in the town back in 1956.  It was a long story, but it was a good one.

 .

Chapter 10

About a year after that, one day on Facebook

I scrolled upon Margaret’s obituary.  Several “friends” were posting their shock and condolences. What happened, I too posted in disbelief.

.

Chapter 11

It turns out that after Margaret lost her job

she went to live in the garage at the airport.  But it was winter, so she decided to walk to Florida. (Someone said she had once told a story about an Aunt who lived there.)  When the police found her in a snowbank they took her to the local hospital.  She did not die there.   Her story goes on for about another year.  But for some of us, this is where Margaret died.  Right here, in this snowbank. A snowbank we will never be able see over.  This is where we were left standing. No watermelon, no sugar, no shovel.

.

.

___

.

.

S Stephanie’s poetry, fiction and book reviews have appeared in many anthologies and literary magazines such as, Birmingham Poetry Review, Café Review, Cease, Cows, Clover & Bee, Hole in the Head Review, Iowa Review, One, Rattle, St. Petersburg Review, Southern Indiana Review, The Southern Review, The Sun, Third Coast, and Turtle Island Review.   She has published three collections of poetry.  She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Art and teaches poetry and writing on both the community and college level.  She lives in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, where she works at a local hardware store.  (She also respects cats).

Click here to visit her website

.

___

.

.

Click here to read “The Old Casino,” J.B. Marlow’s winning story in the 64th  Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Click here for details about the upcoming 65th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Click here to subscribe to the Jerry Jazz Musician quarterly newsletter (it’s free)

Click here to help support the continuing publication of Jerry Jazz Musician, and to keep it commercial and ad-free (thank you!)

.

.

___

.

.

 

Jerry Jazz Musician…human produced (and AI-free) since 1999

.

.

.

 

 

 

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

"Zambramomania" by Roberto Nucci/CC BY-NC-SA-4.0 DEED
“The Eye Tapes…Monument to my Jazzy Eye” by Anita Lerek

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Black History

The Harlem Globetrotters/photo via Wikimedia Commons
A Black History Month Profile: The Harlem Globetrotters...In this 2005 interview, Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, discusses the complex history of the celebrated Black touring basketball team.

Black History

photo of Zora Neale Hurston by Carl Van Vechten/Library of Congress
A Black History Month Profile: Zora Neale Hurston...In a 2002 interview, Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, talks about the novelist, anthropologist, playwright, folklorist, essayist and poet

Black History

Eubie Blake
A Black History Month Profile – Pianist and composer Eubie Blake...In this 2021 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Eubie Blake biographers Ken Bloom and Richard Carlin discuss the legendary composer of American popular song and jazz during the 20th century

Feature

Jamie Branch's 2023 album "Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))"
On the Turntable— The “Best Of the ‘Best Of’” in 2023 jazz recordings...A year-end compilation of jazz albums oft mentioned by a wide range of critics as being the best of 2023 - including the late trumpeter Jamie Branch's Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))

Essay

"Lester Leaps In" by Tad Richards
"Jazz and American Poetry," an essay by Tad Richards...In an essay that first appeared in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry in 2005, Tad Richards - a prolific visual artist, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has been active for over four decades – writes about the history of the connection of jazz and American poetry.

Interview

photo of Pepper Adams/courtesy of Pepper Adams Estate
Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer...The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

Poetry

art by Russell duPont
These poems are new submissions by six poets relatively new to Jerry Jazz Musician, and are an example of the writing I have the privilege of encountering on a regular basis.

Interview

IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song...The author discusses her book, a rich, emotionally stirring, exceptional work that explores every element of Ella’s legacy in great depth, reminding readers that she was not only a great singing artist, but also a musical visionary and social activist.

Poetry

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film. This edition is influenced by Stillpoint, the 2021 album by Zen practitioner Barrett Martin

Playlist

“Latin Tinges in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...A nine-hour long Spotify playlist featuring songs by the likes of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, and Dizzy Gillespie that demonstrates how the Latin music influence on jazz has been present since the music’s beginnings.

Poetry

[Columbia Legacy]
“On Becoming A Jazz Fanatic In The Early 1970’s” – 20 linked short poems by Daniel Brown

Short Fiction

Christerajet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #64 — “The Old Casino” by J.B. Marlow...The author's award-winning story takes place over the course of a young man's life, looking at all the women he's loved and how the presence of a derelict building informs those relationships.

Feature

George Shearing/Associated Booking Corporation/James Kriegsmann, New York, via Wikimedia Commons
True Jazz Stories: “An Evening With George,” by Terry Sanville...The writer tells his story of playing guitar with a symphony orchestra, backing up jazz legend George Shearing.

Short Fiction

Defense Visual Information Distribution Service/via Picryl.com
“Afloat” – a finalist in the 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest – is about a troubled man in his 40s who lessens his worries by envisioning himself and loved ones on a boat that provides safety and ease for all of them.

Poetry

The poet Connie Johnson in 1981
In a Place of Dreams: Connie Johnson’s album of jazz poetry, music, and life stories...A collection of the remarkable poet's work is woven among her audio readings, a personal narrative of her journey and music she considers significant to it, providing readers the chance to experience the full value of her gifts.

Book Excerpt

Book Excerpt from Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song, by Judith Tick...The author writes about highlights of Ella’s career, and how the significance of her Song Book recordings is an example of her “becoming” Ella.

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII

Interview

photo courtesy of Henry Threadgill
Interview with Brent Hayes Edwards, co-author (with Henry Threadgill) of Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music...The author discusses his work co-written with Threadgill, the composer and multi-instrumentalist widely recognized as one of the most original and innovative voices in contemporary music, and the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Playlist

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
“A Baker’s Dozen Playlist of Ella Fitzgerald Specialties from Five Decades,” as selected by Ella biographer Judith Tick...Chosen from Ella’s entire repertoire, Ms. Tick’s intriguing playlist (with brief commentary) is a mix of studio recordings, live dates, and video, all available for listening here.

Poetry

"Jazz Trio" by Samuel Dixon
A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2...The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

Jazz History Quiz #169

This trumpeter was in the 1932 car accident that took the life of famed clarinetist/saxophonist Frankie Techemacher (pictured), and is best remembered for his work with Eddie Condon’s bands. Who was he?

Interview

From the Interview Archive: A 2011 conversation with Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway...In this interview, Shipton discusses Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII...announcing the six Jerry Jazz Musician-published writers nominated for the prestigious literary award

Poetry

Gotfryd, Bernard, photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Devotion” – a poem and 11 “Musings on Monk,” by Connie Johnson

Photography

photo of Mal Waldron by Giovanni Piesco
Beginning in 1990, the noted photographer Giovanni Piesco began taking backstage photographs of many of the great musicians who played in Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, that city’s main jazz venue which is considered one of the finest in the world. Jerry Jazz Musician will occasionally publish portraits of jazz musicians that Giovanni has taken over the years. This edition is of the pianist/composer Mal Waldron, taken on three separate appearances at Bimhuis (1996, 2000 and 2001).

Interview

Leffler, Warren K/Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A Black History Month Profile: Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin...

Community

FOTO:FORTEPAN / Kölcsey Ferenc Dunakeszi Városi Könyvtár / Petanovics fényképek, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
.“Community Bookshelf, #1"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Short Fiction

photo by Thomas Leuthard/Wikimedia Commons
“The Winslows Take New Orleans” a short story by Mary Liza Hartong...This story, a finalist in the recently concluded 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, tells the tale of Uncle Cheapskate and Aunt Whiner, those pesky relatives you love to hate and hate to love.

Short Fiction

painting of Gaetano Donizetti by Francesco Coghetti/via Wikimedia Commons
“A Single Furtive Tear” – a short story by Dora Emma Esze...A short-listed entry in the recently concluded 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, the story is a heartfelt, grateful monologue to one Italian composer, dead and immortal of course, whose oeuvre means so much to so many of us.

Interview

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950’s Quartets...Long regarded as jazz music’s most eminent baritone saxophonist, Gerry Mulligan was a central figure in “cool” jazz whose contributions to it also included his important work as a composer and arranger. Noted jazz scholar Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950s Quartets, and Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Bob Hecht discuss Mulligan’s unique contributions to modern jazz.

Book Excerpt

“Chick” Webb was one of the first virtuoso drummers in jazz and an innovative bandleader dubbed the “Savoy King,” who reigned at Harlem’s world-famous Savoy Ballroom. Stephanie Stein Crease is the first to fully tell Webb’s story in her biography, Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat that Changed America…The book’s entire introduction is excerpted here.

Short Fiction

pixabay.com via Picryl.com
“The Silent Type,” a short story by Tom Funk...The story, a finalist in the recently concluded 64th Short Fiction Contest, is inspired by the classic Bob Dylan song “Tangled Up in Blue” which speculates about what might have been the back story to the song.

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music, by Henry Threadgill and Brent Hayes Edwards

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Art

Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance: “Outtakes” — Vol. 2...In this edition, the authors Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder share examples of Cha Cha Cha record album covers that didn't make the final cut in their book

Pressed for All Time

“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 17 — producer Joel Dorn on Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s 1967 album, The Inflated Tear

Coming Soon

An interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 - 1960;  an interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow? An Oral History of the 60's Girl Groups;  a new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Eubie Blake
Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive