No Longer Eligible for the Census

7 Dec

Below please find my 100 word story for Friday Fictioneers, a grand and growing group of writers in whose company I am grateful to be. The photo prompt is courtesy of Rich Voza, or, as we like to call him, The Boss. The other stories are here. I dare you to check them out.

In the course of writing my story I ran across several good quotes relevant to the subject. Here are two of them by unknown authors. “Words must be weighed, not counted.” And…”Some are full of promise, some just make promises.”   My favorite is by Napoleon Bonaparte, who said, “The best way to keep  one’s word is never to give it.”

This is another 99% true story. The only thing I’m unsure of is the length of the grace period.

Is it me, or is it getting hot in here?

Aloha, D.


I’d come in response to a letter telling me I’d been selected to receive a reward. Greeted in the lobby by a Mr. Penemue and Mr. Ambriel, I was ushered toward the lone elevator while Mr. Penemue intoned.

“July 22nd, 1985, Washington, Mount Adams, East Face, 7,276 feet. While climbing alone….” Mr. Ambriel gestured. The litany ceased.

“You averred,” said Mr. Ambriel, “”Please, God, get me down and I’ll…” et cetera, et cetera.”

I was stunned. “But, that was almost thirty years ago…”

“The grace period of 10,000 days has been deemed quite lenient.”

Mr. Penemue pressed the elevator button.







Elevator Up

81 Responses to “No Longer Eligible for the Census”

  1. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) December 7, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    I thought at first you’d taken an ambriel, but this is no dream! And I’m sure it will be 100% true for me, if not for you.

    Very cute use of the prompt and even made me think a bit before going on with all the stuff I’ve been doing all along. I hope the elevator’s air conditioned at least…

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

      Dear Perry,

      Thanks for stopping and thinking…and leaving a comment to let me know you were here. Loved your story, The Glow.



  2. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields December 7, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Dear Doug,
    The depth of this one swirled through me and took me captive. I’ve gone back and read it four times. Each time something else strikes me. As always you’ve given me an education and something to think about.
    Thanks and Aloha-Shalom,
    Mrs. Radiolarian

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Dear Mrs. R.,

      Thank you for taking the time to reread my story. I like to craft as many layers as possible to reward careful readers. Mr. Penemue demands it and I don’t ever want to piss him off.



  3. kathils December 7, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    I love this piece. Very well executed. Really made my brain start whirling on what would happen with the rest of the tale…

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Dear Kath,

      Thanks, as ever, for taking the time to read and for leaving me such a nice comment. I looked for one from you but couldn’t find it. perhaps you’ll post later. Looking forward to reading.



  4. Jess Schira December 7, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    I had to read this twice before I felt I fully grasped the complete depth of your words, and I have to say, I’m very, very impressed. You did an amazing job with this piece.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Dear Jess,

      Thank you for digging deep and then leaving such a heartwarming (for the writer in me) comment and compliment. As I’ve said before, I live and die by the feedback I get from folks who grace my work by reading. Won’t ever take it for granted.

      Aloha and Mahalo,


  5. David Stewart December 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    This is an incredibly well-crafted story, so much packed into a small space. As you said, words weighed, not counted.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Dear David,

      Welcome and thank you. Following your blog now and looking forward to reading more from you.



  6. unspywriter December 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Very nice twist. As always, you pack so much into 100 words. Great job.

    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Dear Maggie,

      Thanks for reading. Headed your way now.



  7. Tom Poet December 7, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    By the way….I changed it but I keep thinking I like the typo better!

  8. claireful December 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    I love their tone of voice and the words they use – I can really hear them.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

      Dear Claire,

      I tried to give them ‘rarified air’ feel. Thanks for noticing and for reading and commenting.



  9. elmowrites December 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Scary stuff, Doug. You take a mystical story and give it a sense of reality which makes it much more imposing. I must admit, I wasn’t acquainted with either of the gentlemen you introduced – you have educated me as always, as well as making me think.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

      Dear Jen,

      I love it when a story comes together. Spent two days writing an unmanageable piece and finally 86’d it. Then hit on this angle and was able to pare it down from 170 to 100 in about two hours.

      Thanks for your comments. You are one of my favorite reader/writers. (Say hello to Sebastian for me. So cool that you’re a mom now!)



  10. rich December 7, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    well, he made an offer, a promise, a deal. he just didn’t know it was accepted. i do not envy where he is likely going. although, we don’t know, so there’s always the hope it will be positive. very well done.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

      Dear Rich,

      Your stellar photo had me writing for two days. Produced one that was good but in the end was filed under the ‘dreck’. Then got lucky as I thought about buildings and the promises they make to us when we live and work in them. Led me to elevators and promises and angels and human foibles. Thanks for the help on this one. (Who knew your Cancun detour would result in my story? It’s what I love about this format.)

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend.



      • rich December 8, 2012 at 1:07 am #

        absolutely nothing to thank me for. my pleasure. guess i need to go to mexico more often. i gave rochelle a few more pics. maybe she’ll use them soon too.

  11. N Filbert December 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    fantastic Doug!

  12. silentlyheardonce December 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    A pondering post. 10,000 days quite lenient but never enough. Nicely done.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

      Dear SHO,

      Funny how it seems long at the beginning but as the days wind down to zero we begin to think about how we’ve lived our lives. Not packing my winter clothes.

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting.



  13. sustainabilitea December 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Doug, you drive me to internet searches more often than anyone else. I’ve learned to only read your story when I have more than a moment of time, both to look things up and to read, re-read and appreciate. This time I enjoyed that your two characters (other than the narrator) were associated with writing and communication, as well as saving people from stupidity!! So apropos.

    As far as the forgotten promise, I imagine we’ve all made at least one of these at some point in our lives. Now we’ll have to count back to see whether we still have time to make good.

    I never leave dissatisfied.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

      Dear Janet,

      That was one of the nicest responses I’ve ever received. Many mahalos wafting their way over the sea to you. Perhaps I should get a commission from Google or Wikipedia?

      I have a deep respect for writers and try my utmost to give them something good to read in return. The layers in my stories are a labor of that love and I appreciate you taking the time to dig through them. Couldn’t believe there were angels associated with writing and writers but I really should have known better. Was pleased to meet them myself.

      Promises? What promises?

      Ha! Pleasure to read you here and elsewhere. Looking forward to spending time on your story this week. I’m off to the summit in an hour. Will catch yours there.



  14. JKBradley December 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    The fella in the hall with the mop? That’s me, stuck in limbo and holding on to nothing but a wooden stick. Makes one think. Nicely done, Doug.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      Dear J.K.,

      Thanks for your comment/compliment. I’ll get the other end of the hall for you.

      I really loved your story this week. Solid and well written. The JKB I look for every week.



  15. JackieP December 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    I believe I will watch my words and wishes from now on. Great story!

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

      Dear Jackie,

      They say promises were made to be broken, but as I move on in life I hew more toward Mr. Bonaparte’s rule. Possibly too late for me, though. Working on my next life’s karma early.



  16. newpillowbook December 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Watch out for those too good to refuse letters! Am I right that Mr. Penemue is taking the elevator to one of the lower floors?? (Oh. Yup. I just took another look at your final picture and realized what it is. Is it too late for your character to run away screaming?)

    Smoothly written, unexpected, and clever – very nice!

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by the lobby to say goodbye. I’m not sure Mr. Penemue is going to get on with him, just as I am sure there’s no buttons on the inside of that elevator.

      Your compliments fuel my fire. Mahalo.



  17. wmqcolby December 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    That’s it … next time, I’m taking the stairs!

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

      Dear Kent,

      My feeling is that you and Franchesca will not be going anywhere anytime soon and when you do it will be only to refill the ice bucket. Hot story you wrote this week. Well done.

      Thanks for stopping by.



  18. brudberg December 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    I’m sure it will be scorching.. Well an agreement is supposed to be held. Very well written and required some googling before I got.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      Dear Bjorn,

      Thanks for stopping in and Googling. I did leave the elevator’s ultimate destination open ended. No telling where he’s bound. But, yes, probably hot.



  19. The Bumble Files December 7, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    I had to google, too. Very well done! I’m going to avoid elevators from here on out!

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. I promise I’ll take the stairs from now on…..oh, wait, there I go again. Making promises I can’t keep.



  20. Russell December 7, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    In Ecclesiastes Solomon warns of making vows we cannot keep, but he also told his lover her nose was like the tower of Lebanon.
    This is worse than getting your legs broken by a loan shark or swimming in cement shoes. I’d reach over and push the “up” button if I were you.

    • dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

      Dear Russell,

      Would you please book me a room in the hospital in your story (which was perfection on many levels) because I’m addicted to writing.



  21. dmmacilroy December 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    Dear Tom,

    I can’t bear it. I’ll let you stew in your own juices in the future. Feel too much like a devil with a pitchfork.

    Thanks for stopping by on your way down.



    • Tom Poet December 8, 2012 at 2:49 am #

      You make a good devil…please jump in the stew with me when you feel the need. It’s hot in here, perfect for your kind.


  22. Joyce December 8, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    I am saddened by the demise of your character. Thank God, it is only fiction. I hope you are given more time than he had, Doug. 🙂

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 8, 2012 at 3:35 am #

      Dear Joyce,

      I don’t think i’m cut out for this author business. All i could do was lead my character to an elevator and have the button pressed. Too soft at heart.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



  23. tedstrutz December 8, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    The title told me this was not going to be good for whoever the story is about. Okay… the first thing I did was look up who the two Mr.’s were, as when reading a story conceived in rarified air, I know it will go deep. If this story is to be believed, then I am screwed.

    I’m struggling with mine this week… but I will now, not be asking God for help.

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 8, 2012 at 3:37 am #

      Dear Ted,

      At least you’ll have company. Thanks for reading and commenting and good luck banging your story together. I’m sure it will be a knock out.



  24. billgncs December 8, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    Dear Doug,

    you are a philosopher and a master story teller.


    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 8, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      Thanks, Bill,

      I appreciate the compliments/comment. Don’t know about the first, trying hard on the second.



  25. erinleary December 8, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    I hate it when forgotten bills come due. This one was a doozy. And any promise made on the lovely Mt. Adams must be kept…

    Thanks to Ted (Happy Birthday, btw) for prompting me to enhance my education by looking up Ambriel and Penemue. Clearly, I have large gaps in my knowledge. I feel better knowing that I have learned something new today.

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 8, 2012 at 6:35 am #

      Dear Erin,

      It’s far too late to keep that promise. Will just have to avoid shiny corridors and single elevators with no buttons on the inside.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



  26. lenwilliamscarver December 8, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    Aloha Doug, I don’t know if you knew that Ambriel is my guardian angel but sure seems we were on the same angel wave length with this one. Love the elevator and the time limit although you now have I am sure every writer thinking and trying to remember how often they said “Lord if you help I will” …
    Background mother was princess of Romanian Gypsy Tribe born with veil and had gift she refused to develop after death of her father the King, Grandmother told me of my guardian angel and did tarot cards to find which one was mine. I have known all my 61 years that he was my protector and that May was the birth month he covered. My birthday is May 1st. LOL strange goings on…..

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 8, 2012 at 6:32 am #

      Not strange at all, at least not to me. Lots of stories hiding in and amongst your memories of gypsie parentage. Thanks for commenting. Does Ambriel do june, too?



      • lenwilliamscarver December 8, 2012 at 6:41 am #

        I amnot sure I believe there is something about a gemini but not sure I would have to do some research or perhaps ask Lesley she had done a ton of research for the Five Pillars book. You might find it interesting it is Five Pillars of the Gypsy by Lesley Fletcher.

      • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 8, 2012 at 6:52 am #


        Googling now.

        Aloha, D.

  27. H.L. Pauff December 8, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    This is an incredible, thought-provoking piece. Anything that makes you step back and consider the bigger picture is fantastic writing in my book. Thank you for sharing.

    • dmmacilroy December 8, 2012 at 6:40 am #

      Dear H.L.,

      Thank you for such an insightful comment and the two great compliments. I owe it to anyone that reads my work. Must not ever forget that.



  28. Sandra December 8, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Thank you for widening my knowledge (again). Loved this, just doing a check on where I stand with my grace periods. Nice work, as always.

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 8, 2012 at 7:37 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      The pleasure is all mine. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment. I’m working my way up the list of stories as we speak. Will be to yours soon.



  29. Parul December 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    I had to do some research to be able to appreciate this. Very clever of you indeed. And I learnt something new! Thanks for that 🙂

  30. bridgesareforburning December 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Hi Doug,
    Gone to your reward, huh? Yet another euphemism. I think nearly everyone has breached a deal with God. He must hold a lot of markers. I’m glad to know the grace period is generous. Ron

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 10, 2012 at 6:09 am #

      Dear Ron,

      Are you the only one who caught that? Might be.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



  31. vb holmes December 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    I don’t know, Doug–with Penemue being the teacher of writing and Ambriel, the angel of clear communication, I think they’re taking our ex-mountain climber to the closest student desk where he will spend the next 10,000 days writing:”I promise to honor my promises”. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

  32. Bumba December 9, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    A lot of story here. Good one!

  33. Lora Mitchell December 10, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Now why did you have to go and do that to me? I live in a hi-rise on the 46th floor. Now I have to worry about getting in and there are no buttons to push. Not even a panic button. Thanks for the nightmare, Doug.

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 10, 2012 at 6:04 am #

      Dear Lora,

      Somehow I don’t think you’re ever going to have to have worry about elevators and angels, Lora. You’re headed in one direction and you can just float on up. Thank you for reading and commenting. No more elevator nightmares, okay?



  34. valeriedavies December 10, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    The implacable tone to this and the sudden shocking end reminded me of some of Ambrose Bierce’s stories, but he never packed his punch in so few well-chosen words…
    Your miniature masterpieces have become unmissable, even for an errant blogger like me.

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy December 10, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      Dear Valerie!

      You have officially made my morning. You are the only non Friday Fictioneer who regularly reads my stories and comments. Thank you sooooo much.



  35. Pete December 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Time’s up! Very good. I’ll assume he went up. I’m also intrigued to know what he promised he’d do if saved from the fall.

    • dmmacilroy December 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

      Dear Pete,

      He promised the usual. Undying faith, eternal service, anything to get out of the jam he was in. No helicopters arrived, only the realization that he had to do it himself, which, after much reflection led to other decisions and different paths. This was a story of what if?

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  36. Sunshine December 11, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    i am digesting this one…i hope the elevator stopped somewhere nice. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy December 11, 2012 at 7:32 am #

      Dear Sunshine,

      Thank you for stopping in to read and comment. The interesting thing about life and its ultimate end is that we’ll know when it happens, but no sooner, no matter what anyone might profess otherwise. And that’s why the story ends in the way it did. No one knows.



      • Sunshine December 12, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

        So true…only the Divine knows. Thanks again for the story. 🙂

  37. Debra Kristi December 12, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    I love the subtle way you slipped the angel’s names in and the use of the elevator. Will God be forgiving? Or will your mc’s ride be getting very toasty? I really enjoyed this piece a lot. Had to read it several times to let it soak in.

    • dmmacilroy December 12, 2012 at 7:51 am #

      Dear Debra,

      I think it’s the end of the fiscal year and the angels are clearing the books. Hot ride down to a crowded place.

      I want you to know I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. This lobby is a lonely place.



  38. Robert Gregory December 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    Wow! This rocks, man! I’m no good at analytic b.s. and all, so I won’t even try. lol . . . This is just a great story! Really loved it. Wondering now about my effin’ grace period . . . Wondering what I averred that I may have forgotten over time . . . Wondering if my habits of “sex, drugs and et cetera . . . ” will play a key role in my departure . . . “Nah!” (I say this as my cell phone rings a tune of Led Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop – the caller . . . you don’t want to know! Not sure I do either . . . ) Awesome story!

    • dmmacilroy December 12, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

      Dear Robert,

      This is one of the better comments I’ve ever received. “Great story” is more than enough for a writer of any stripe. As for that grace period, well, every day we wake up breathing is an extension. Rock on, Robert.



  39. The Blazing Trail December 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Congratulations! I nominated you for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award. Shine on!


  1. Waiting for a Name - December 12, 2012

    […] on a photo prompt selected by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Today’s prompt comes from the lens of Doug MacIlroy. Friday Fictioneers is tons of fun. Jump in […]

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