The Insolent Caretaker celebrates the universal resilience of human nature

The Insolent Caretaker – two new stories added. This final version is being offered to Clipper Media News readers first.

28 April 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

The Insolent Caretaker and Other Stories

The Insolent Caretaker celebrates the universal resilience of human nature

Author James Porteous has released a collection of short stories inspired by the work of American writer Studs Terkel and playwright David Mamet.

The stories touch on age-old themes of love, politics, religion, relationships, and humor while highlighting the struggles and triumphs of everyday people searching for meaning in this ‘new normal’ world.

In this collection, we meet a talented ‘Butchering the Pig’ scam artist, a young woman’s encounter with Italy’s Nigerian Mafia, a sniper’s interview in a heavenly way-station, and the man in Japan who wonders if he will finally talk to his late wife on The Wind Phone, among many others.

The author, who has lived and worked in Canada, the US, Italy, Germany, the UK, and Qatar, has always strived to capture the ‘lives of others’ in his songs, writing, and photographs.






1. The Wind Phone

The Wind Phone is an old-fashioned phone booth set up by Itaru Sasaki  following Japan’s devastating earthquake in 2011. His idea was to allow people to ‘talk’ to their dearly departed. The wind phone is not connected to any ‘earthly’ wires.

This is a fictional account of a man who, after years of procrastination, continues an internal debate about whether or not to use The Wind Phone to talk to his late wife.

* * *

“You should go today,” he says to himself. “You have no excuse.”

“Not today. Perhaps tomorrow,” he replies to himself.

It is too late to save the tomato plants. They were in the sun for too long and now they are soft. He cannot bear soft tomatoes.

His late wife Yoshiko always loved soft tomatoes, didn’t she? She would bring the hard ones into the house and place them on the windowsill where they would remain until they got soft without being burnt by the sun. 

She had her ways. For her, everything was cosmic, based on a spiritual connection to the earth, sun and moon. 

She said his only connections were with his penis and his wine. Sometimes one led to the other, depending on which one started the transition.

He kicks off his slippers and walks to the kitchen in his bare feet. It is a foolish thing to do. The syrup he spilled on Sunday still remains on the floor. And his kick was perhaps too energetic. It might take him quite some time to locate one or both of his slippers.

He could always wear hers, but he does not want to remove them from their final resting place.

He laughs to himself. Slippers do not have a final resting place, you fool. And how much would he have to pay for the service?

No one could predict how much they might charge for a slipper funeral he tells himself. He only knows how much they charge for a person funeral. And that was two or five times more yen than he thought it would be. Or was led to believe it would be.

“You should not complain about the cost of something so sacred,” he says to himself.

“Mind your own fucking business,” he replies.

The sink is filled with dirty dishes again. Why does that keep happening? Shouldn’t the souji onna1  have cleaned them? Perhaps not. Perhaps he should give it a try.

He pulls his wife’s walker out of the closet and pushes his way to the kitchen and parks beside the monstrosity. He reaches over from a sitting position and turns on the water. What a proud moment. So young, independent, and agile!

He picks up one plate from the mess and – what is he meant to do with it? He does not have a sponge or washcloth or soap. He tries to remove his sock, thinking he might use it in place of a sponge but he discovers he can no longer reach his feet.

He leans into the mess and, in doing so, falls straight forward, hitting his head on the edge of the counter and landing squarely on the floor.


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