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The Spot Writers – “The Man in the Detective Hat” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “someone always wears the same hat because of some secret and/or mysterious reason”.

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

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The Man in the Detective Hat by Chiara De Giorgi

As a child, I was often alone. Alone, but not lonely. In fact, I would spend hours playing outside with my imaginary friend. At least, I think he was imaginary… I’m not sure of anything anymore, these days. Reveries and reality overlap and leave me baffled and wondering.

Who was that guy I spent hours and hours with, exploring, pondering, looking for meaningful answers? And why was he always wearing a hat? I remember wanting to ask him to take it off, but I never dared.

Now, what was his name again? Did he have a name? If he was an imaginary friend, he might not have had a name, unless I gave him one. Did I give him a name? Maybe not. It wasn’t necessary after all. I would walk, climb a tree, swim in the lake, ride my bike in the woods… and he would be there with me, always ready to talk, explain, ask poignant questions. But never giving answers, now that I think of it.

I had to understand everything all by myself, he just helped me reason, find the answers to my own riddles.

Maybe that’s why I never asked him why he never took off his hat. It was a funny detective hat, but it wasn’t funny on him. Hey, what if he was a detective for real? What if he was investigating my family, what if he wanted to frame me or my parents for some terrible deed? I sure hope he was my imaginary friend, and not some real detective.

What’s that thing in the corner of my closet? Wait, is that… Oh, my. It’s a detective hat! How peculiar! What is it doing here? I don’t remember ever having one. It looks… It looks exactly the same as my childhood imaginary friend’s. Now, if this were his hat, it would mean he took it off, he he he. I wonder… How would I look in it? I’ll put it on and look at myself in the mirror. There.

Goodness! I look like him! Same height, same body structure, same complexion – pale and a bit rough. Even the same expression in the eyes, thoughtful and wise.

Oh, gosh. That was unexpected.

I am the man in the detective hat. I know, now, why I can never take it off. Look what happened when I did. No, you don’t want to know, trust me. Just forget you ever met me. And should you find a detective hat laying around somewhere, please leave it there. Don’t ask questions, just close your eyes and quietly go away. Some mysteries are supposed to stay unsolved, some questions need to remain unanswered forever.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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The Spot Writers – “Head Games” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “someone always wears the same hat because of some secret and/or mysterious reason”.

Today’s post is written by Phil Yeats. In December, 2019, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

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“Head Games” by Phil Yeats

Yesterday was momentous. Not globally momentous, but a day that was destined to alter my life for the coming decade, maybe longer. It began like most days over the past two years, eleven months, and twenty-seven days. Back then – we’ll approximate it as three years ago – I lost my secure job as a tenured university professor. Firing a tenured professor is almost impossible, but I found myself unemployed. The School of Neural Psychology, a university department, closed its doors. All staff, including tenured professors, were terminated.

Fast-forward to yesterday. After breakfast, I plunked my dilapidated Tilley hat on my head and stepped onto my front porch. While completing my errand – its purpose isn’t important – I encountered two neighbours. I was pleased but careful not to show any emotion when both kept glancing at my bedraggled hat. For those three years, I’d worn it in sun, rain, or snow in spring, summer, fall, or winter every time I left my house. No one mentioned it, but everyone noticed my tattered headgear, and I never explained why I always wore it.

Back home, my old boss, the school president from when it was disbanded, followed me to my front door. She broached the reason for her visit after I made coffee. “I’ve finally fulfilled the promise I made to everyone when our research institute closed. New school, new university, new name – I never liked the one chosen to please our original sponsor – but a similar mandate. Are you interested in rejoining your old colleagues?”

I hesitated. “I’m okay. Inexpensive lifestyle, and adequate resources from severance, savings, and rent from two apartments on this property. My needs are covered, and I have no dependents or expensive obligations.”

“Fine, but that fails to address my question. And before you confuse matters with additional dissembling, I’ll mention two things. First, I’ve read the two papers you’ve published since your forced resignation. Both are insightful contributions to your field—”

“Loose ends, papers that described work completed while I was working.”

“Garbage. Those weren’t tidy-up-after-I-retire papers. They’re forward-looking, raising issues that demand further investigation.”

“Whatever. And your second point…”

“That stupid hat! A meaningless game you’re playing, teasing your neighbours with the mystery of why you always wear that decrepit rag on your head. You’re bored. You should return to your chosen career and leave your neighbours in peace.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

 

 

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The Spot Writers – “The Mystery of Hinklehorne’s Hat” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “someone always wears the same hat because of some secret and/or mysterious reason.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon. MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon! As well as MY BROTHER, THE WOLF, the last of the series.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

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“The Mystery of Hinklehorne’s Hat” by Cathy MacKenzie

Mr. Hinklehorne was a short, stout man. Looked old, but every adult looked elderly to pre-teens. I discovered that fact when I turned sixty-three, became a grandfather for the first time, and suddenly realized how ancient I was.

We never knew his first name. Back then, kids respected elders. No need for a child to know an adult’s first name, not with Mr. and Mrs. the norm.

Hinklehorne had been the school janitor for as long as I’d attended Hillcrest Elementary. I’d heard he’d been hired while the school was being built, which meant he’d been there for over forty years. I couldn’t imagine someone choosing janitorial work as a career. Or perhaps he’d fallen into it accidentally, never intending to stay. Watching him doing menial work at his age spurred me on to better myself.

He never removed his hat. At least, not that we ever saw. But he must have when he showered or slept. Still, Pierre and Bruce, my two best friends, and I always surmised about the odd-sized floppy, grey atrocity that seemed glued to his head, for even wild gusts of wind didn’t dislodge it. You know—how a person’s hand automatically goes to his head when he senses a breeze. Nope, no matter the strength of the wind, that old hat remained steadfast, and Hinklehorne never reached to his head to keep it on.

Pierre, Bruce, and I made up numerous stories explaining why Hinklehorne continually wore that hat, and we imagined every one of them to be true. We had so many explanations, though, that we couldn’t choose just one.

We shared our stories while we lazed under the largest oak tree in front of the school. For some reason, we never discussed Hinklehorne when we were elsewhere.

Pierre believed that Hinklehorne fell asleep under that very tree we sat under, and when he stood, a low-lying branch plunged into the top of his head. His parents took him to the hospital a few days later, but by that time, its roots had entwined around his brain, so the doctor couldn’t remove it. Pierre reasoned Hinklehorne didn’t remove his hat because he wanted to hide that piece of wood sticking out from his head.

Bruce thought Hinklehorne’s mother had repaired the inside band of his hat with Krazy Glue and he put it on his head before it had dried. Thus, his hat was stuck for all time. Yes, the hat looked that old!

My story had a fairy tale feel to it. I liked the idea that while Hinklehorne sleepwalked one night, he gazed out the window and wished upon a star, asking for a hat to cover his deformed head. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize he’d be stuck with it forever.

The others thought my story was silly, but theirs weren’t much better. Bruce added a second explanation, which made me think he was just trying to one-up me. As if it was a competition.

“He was in a fire,” Bruce said. “His house burnt down and he just barely escaped. Except, when he was running out, stuff fell on him. His entire head fired up. Left him with a zillion scars. Ugly scars. He can’t show his head because his hair doesn’t grow there anymore.”

I had to admit that Bruce’s second explanation was the most plausible—though in a way it was similar my story with Hinklehorne’s deformed head—but we still didn’t know for sure.

I enjoyed sharing these stories with Jason, my first-born grandchild, and he’d laugh. Kids are so much smarter today than in my time—too smart for their britches at times. Though Jason giggled at the silly stories, he seemed enthralled with my words. Took him away from his electronics, if only for minutes out of the day, and my daughter praised me. She’d long ago quit harping at him.

I was seventeen when Hinklehorne died. We lived in the small community of Ashville, where everyone knew everyone. My parents were adamant we attend the viewing and funeral, especially since he’d worked at the school for as long as he had.

The summer he died was my last summer home before I would start university. Brian’s family had moved away two years before. Jason? He’d been in prison since he was sixteen.

Though I didn’t particularly want to see a dead person, I was excited. A “viewing” meant there’d be an open casket. I could solve the mystery of Hinklehorne’s hat!

The funeral home was packed, making me claustrophobic. But once I had a good look at Hinklehorne’s head, I’d be history.

I slowly approached the coffin, wishing Pierre and Bruce were with me. Solving the mystery would have been more fun with them by my side.

I stopped in my tracks. My heart thumpety thumped against my chest. I couldn’t believe it. The hat was still on his head!

I took another step closer. Hinklehorne was definitely dead. No heaving chest. No twitching lips. His hands were clasped tight, resting on his chest atop the pristine silk sheet.

The hat! I needed to lift it a bit. So I could see underneath. But could I do it? Come on; you’re seventeen. You can do it!

Various scenarios rushed through my head. The stories my friends and I had shared. I couldn’t believe I’d finally be solving the mystery.

I glanced around. No one was watching me. I could easily reach in and out of the coffin in two seconds.

I raised my arm. Stretched out my fingers. I was inches away.

I stepped backward.

I couldn’t do it. Too spooky. It was bad enough looking at a dead person, let alone touching one.

Let Hinklehorne take his hat mystery to his grave. Everyone, even in death, deserves a secret, right?

When I told Jason the funeral home story, he agreed with me.

I did solve one mystery, though. Hinklehorne’s first name. Hector. Hector Hayes Hinklehorne. Kinda had a nice ring to it. Jason thought so, too.

***

 The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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The Spot Writers – “Hatless” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write about someone who always wears the same hat for some secret and/or mysterious reason.

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series. Find out more at www.corgicapers.com.

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“Hatless” by Val Muller

I hate the cold. Absolutely hate it. Nome, Alaska? Not exactly tropical. You’re not allowed to complain about the cold until you’ve wintered in Alaska.

What I wouldn’t give to get out of here.

Sitting here in my car, heat blasting, I wonder: Am I really going to leave? I’ve got a security deposit, but it’s kind of like chewing off your arm in desperation, right? Just leave that and run. Heck, the landlord deserves that bonus. Never going to find a new tenant in the middle of this Ice Age.

But part of me thinks I’m crazy for doing this. A plane ticket and two suitcases. And that’s it. Just fly somewhere tropical and start over.

Crazy.

But crazier than moving to the coldest town I could find as soon as I came of age?

I pull my hat lower and grab the door handle. I could just as easily walk back into my apartment. Status quo is easiest. And the cost of leaving this ice prison is a high one. Even though I hate the cold, there’s something about your own bed, your own clothes. Am I really just going to leave it all?

I pull the hat away just for a moment and cringe as I look in the rearview mirror. This is what everyone will see. This will be their first impression—everyone’s first impression—for all eternity. I’m not sure which is worse, the ones that try to ignore the scar but just end up staring at it, or the ones who ask about it outright. You’re not allowed to complain about fitting in until you’ve lived with this kind of atrocity etched into your face by your own father.

But 30 hit hard. On the way to work, glancing in the mirror, I wondered: am I really going to wear this hat forever? Am I really prepared to hide from this scar for the rest of my life? To the extent that I will remain in self-inflicted exile? For what? To wait for death?

Really.

And then I saw it on TV. A commercial for a cruise line. Those palm trees, the warmth of the sun on those bronzed bodies. What I wouldn’t give to live there. I think once I knew what warm sunlight felt on the skin. It’s like a nearly-forgotten dream.

But they don’t wear winter hats in the tropics. Everyone I meet will ask me about the scar. And then I’ll have to get into it: the alcohol, the abuse, the countless foster homes, the point of life being simply to survive. And then I’ll endure the pity, the embarrassment for having asked.

I cut the engine and pull the hat back on. Jingle the keys. Take a step toward my apartment. And then a demonic gust comes out of the north and chills my soul. So I hurry back to the car, turn on the engine, and gun it toward the airport.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

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