Great Stories… Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl. And more Ancient Rome.

Roald

My son recommended this story to me. I was like, Roald Dahl? The children’s author? And he said, yeah, but this is no kid’s story. And he was right.

SPOILERS INCOMING!

This story had a Victorian-era feel to it. The dutiful wife at home, awaiting her husband to return from work so she could give him a drink and feed him while he relaxes on a chair. She loves him. The author made that very clear. And when he comes home and quickly downs a drink and refills the glass with more whiskey, she worries for him. She thinks it might have something to do with work. We learn he is a police officer and works long days.

The problem is not his work. The problem is her. We don’t learn what he tells her, only that it changes their relationship. He promises to look after her and the child she is carrying, but would she please not make a fuss as it would look bad for him at work?

Shocked, she doesn’t want to believe it. To distract herself from her thoughts, she falls back into routine. She plans to make him dinner. She goes to the freezer and gets a frozen leg of lamb. On her way to the kitchen, she sees her husband standing at the window, with her back to her, looking outside. She caves his head in with the frozen leg of lamb.

Now what? Well, she is, was married to a police officer, and she knows what happens to murderers. She is ready to accept that punishment, but what about her child? What would happen to her child?

She plans. She places the lamb in the oven. She goes to the market, rehearsing what she will say to the grocer to appear natural and not upset. She does a good job, returns home and calls the police. They show up and they are people she knows. She tells them she put the lamb in the oven and went to the market. When she returned, her husband was dead.

The police noticed blood on the back of his head. They call in the detectives. They call in the doctor. They are looking for the murder weapon. It had to something heavy. Maybe a sledgehammer. Once they find the weapon, they’ll find the perpetrator.

They search the house all evening. The police tell her that her lamb may soon burn. She removes it from the oven and pleading that she isn’t hungry and that the food will go to waste; she convinces them to eat the lamb. They do. They eat the murder weapon. They eat the evidence.

Wow!

WHAT I LEARNED:

  1. This was roughly a five-page story. Just think how much information the author crammed into that small space. Once again, the ability to be clear and succinct is an important and powerful skill to gain.
  2. Roald Dahl writes one hell of a suspense story. Even though the wife murdered the husband, the reader felt empathy toward her. I didn’t want her to get caught. I wanted her to pull it off. The suspense was not knowing if she could do so.

This was a fun, short tale that hit like a punch to the face. Well worth the read.

Ancient Rome

At its peak, under Emperor Trajan in the years 98 A. D-117 A. D., the Roman Empire encompassed approximately 5 million square kilometers. It stretched from the deserts in Africa to Northern England.

They estimate the population for that time period to be 65 million people. Roughly double of Canada’s entire population.

REMP

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Great Stories…Quitters Inc., by Stephen King. A short tale masterpiece! Oh, and some Ancient Rome stuff too…

SK

Have you ever wanted to quit a bad habit? Of course, you have. Maybe you drink too much. Maybe you smoke too much and walking up the stairs makes your heart hurt in a way in never used to. Maybe you gained a few pounds over the years because those pastries at the local cafe were just too hard to resist.

Whatever your bad habit is, all you need to do is visit Quitters Inc. They guarantee results. They have a 98 percent success rate, don’t you know? Just sign this contract here, show up at your next appointment and treatment will begin. They use aversion therapy and it’s very effective.

The whole premise of this story is genius. Clever and written wonderfully as Stephen King consistently does.

Dick Morrison runs into an old friend, Jimmy McCann. Jimmy looks great, he’s a big deal at his work and he’s quit smoking. Sucking on his own cigarette, Dick is happy for Jimmy but also jealous and resentful in the way that people can be when someone succeeds at something they have failed at. How did Jimmy do it?

Quitters Inc., that’s how. No, he can’t talk about their treatment.  He signed a contract and he is not allowed to disclose what they did to help him. No, they don’t advertise. They obtain their business by word of mouth. Here’s their card if you’re serious about quitting. They changed his life. Dick takes the card and puts it in his wallet. He forgets about it until it falls out a month later while he is a bar, drinking, smoking and not liking his life.

He goes to Quitters Inc. He signs the contract. He shows up at his next-day follow-up appointment. He shakes the hand of Mr. Donetti and that seals the deal. The treatment has begun.

The deal: Dick Morrison will be under constant surveillance and if he smokes even one cigarette, they’ll be consequences. Not to him personally, no, no, no. The first slip up and his wife will be punished. Then, if that doesn’t work, they’ll work over his son, and if that doesn’t work they’ll work over his wife some more…and you can see the trend here, right? They have ten steps before they employ lethal methods.

Dick only slips up once. And after they show him what they did to his wife, once was enough. He quits. He’s happier. He gets a promotion at work. Things are looking up.

After a person quits smoking, it is common for them to gain weight. They have to put something in their mouth and if it isn’t a cigarette, it usually ends up being food.

Dick wasn’t smoking anymore, but he was gaining weight. He then enters phase two of the treatment. He is weighted once a month. If he goes over a certain amount, his wife loses a finger.

What I learned:

Would this work? What makes this story clever to me is that the people you love get directly punished for your actions. This is what makes it work.

What would you do to spare someone you love pain? What if your deliberate actions would result in the pain of your partner? Your child?

Self-destructive behavior does hurt the people you love but not in a direct, physical way. It is in the abstract that they are hurt by your smoking, drinking or whatever because they care for you. But what if your actions affected them in an immediate, painful physical way? I would say even the most callous person would change their behavior.

Now, I’m trying not to spoil these stories if you haven’t read them so I’m deliberately leaving a lot of points to this story out. In saying that, do yourself a favor and read it. It is a good study on understanding human motivations and manipulation.

Ancient Rome:

The Ancient Romans, starting with the Appian Way (Via Appia) built approximately 50,000 miles of hard-surface roads throughout their empire. The roads were straight and cambered so that the water would drain away from the surface. They also used concrete made from volcanic ash and lime. Their roads still survive to this day.

APW

Along these roads, you would find something similar to what you would see on a highway today. The Romans placed stone mile markers for every Roman mile (1,476 meters). On these stones would be the number of the mile depending on what road it was on. Why should you care? I don’t know. I like it because it would be the first time in history where you could place yourself at a physical point in the world by using these markers. You could be, where am I? Oh, it says here that I am a mile out from the next trading station near Pompeii. How cool is that? Evidently, it was so cool that we still use those points of reference today on our own roads. Thanks, Rome!

This is what they look like:

MileM

Check out my books here friends!

The Bestselling Doll House  and;

Horror Talks top ten horror books of 2018, The Tracker and;

End of the world novella titled, Balance and;

Newest book available for preorder, Off the Grid!

Pro Tip: If you type in PREORDER2019, you’ll get an extra 15% off.

Horror movie podcast:

Movies of the Damned!!

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Have a great week. Be kind to everyone!

 

 

Discussing The Lost Boys, my books are at the local library (Guelph), a 50km race medal pic, and the next story I’ll be deconstructing will be 2 B R O 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut!

LostBoys

Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jason Patric, Kieffer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Dianne Wiest, the guy from Bill & Ted’s (not Keanu) that no one seems to remember (Alex Winter) and mean, murderous creatures of the night! What’s not to love about this movie? Listen in as we discuss it here: Movies of the Damned!!

Library coolness:

So, my local library ordered my books and they are now part of the Guelph Public Library’s collection. I’m pretty hyped. Like really hyped. Thanks, GPL!

Quick 50km race pics:

On June 15th, 2019, I ran the Niagara Ultra Marathon, a 50km race from Niagara on the Lake to Niagara Falls and back. It was far. I was tired.

LittleMedal
I do like the medal…50km run worthy? Meh…

THE NEXT:

Great Story and What I Learned from it will be…

2 B R O 2 B

by Kurt Vonnegut.

Before I deconstruct this beauty, you might want to read it. It is available for free on Project Gutenberg here: 2 B R O 2 B.

I will be posting the article on Wednesday.

Can’t wait to hear from you.

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Doll House and The Tracker.

Check out my newest horror book, an end of the world novella without zombies, aliens or flaring sunspots, here: Balance.

And my fourth book is now available for pre-order through my publisher’s site here: Off the Grid.  Pro Tip: If you type in PREORDER2019, you’ll get an extra 15% off.

Have a great week. Be kind to everyone!