Are you on Facebook? If so, I would love to have you join us in The Back Booth, a group devoted to Women’s Fiction, hosted by my publisher, The Story Plant.

I hosted this week, and asked members to give me a name and a one sentence description. I chose the one that “spoke to me,” and I wrote a flash fiction story about the name, and I drew a picture of JOHN HENWINKLE, THAT DEAR, DEAR MAN.

Here it is:

What a sweet man, that John Henwinkle. Always doing for people. Why, he shovels Marva Hendricks’ walk with every single snow storm. Mrs. Blake would be lost without his handyman skills-she never has to call a plumber when her sink clogs because John takes care of it for her!I I think all the ladies at the Senior Center are half in love with him-he never comes to a bingo night without those delicious brownies he makes So they are a bit gritty. No matter, because they are delicious!

He is so kind. Never dwells on his own tragedies–his son Milton’s untimely death two years ago, followed so quickly by Mildred’s. He just thinks of others–like offering to help his next door neighbor, Harvey Walker, with his basement after the flood? Selfless–John’s arthritis makes it so hard for him to go up and down stairs. But he carried out just loads of detritus, not one complaint. Harvey will be forever grateful. And Harvey didn’t mind helping John carry out all those old cans of paint from his garage–one good turn deserves another, isn’t that right? Harvey and John have become such close friends since Harvey’s wife Edna died, just three months before Mildred. Tragic.

And John has been so lonely since darling Mildred died–just lost without her! But isn’t it just like John? He has kept up Mildred’s rose garden just the way she left it for all these three years now since she died. All that digging and mulching is hard work! You know that he is allergic to pollen, don’t you? I asked him why he does it, and between sneezes, he said simply, “Well, you know, in remembrance of Mildred. My lovely wife.”

He stays busy. I guess when you lose your spouse of 60 years, you need to keep doing, so that you don’t dwell on the loss. John is so clever with his hands–have you seen those little carved boxes he makes? So lovely, with the intricate designs on the lids. Just the right size for jewelry, pipe tobacco, or odds and ends. He gave me one for Christmas this year. It is a lovely little oak square with a rose carved into the top. I do wonder what is in it. It makes a rattling sound when I shake it, but the lid is on so tight that I haven’t been able to open it. It’s probably pretty pebbles or something. No matter, I have it on display on my bureau. It is just pretty to look at.

He is just a good man, that’s all there is to it. Kind, gentle, and caring. Devoted to his family and friends, he is.

I am sure the bones they dug up in his rose garden are from a dog, for heaven’s sake.

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