Trifecta 85 – The Cruelest Trick of All


Most people would walk straight by without knowing it was even there. Mr Kenningway’s antique bookstore cowered down a dank, musty alley off Farrendale Avenue. It was the kind of spot more likely to attract passing rats than customers. However, if you needed to, you’d find it. Just as I did on that Christmas Eve 20 years past.

I’d been told about Kenningways and it sounded ideal. It was. Within minutes I’d found the book I wanted: “Chess Classics by Bobby Fischer”. Father was terrible at Chess but liked to read about people who weren’t. Mr Kenningway was a charming old man. He seemed to have read every book in the shop. When I’d drop by we’d talk about old times. His old times. It was a pleasure to share them.

I moved away from town. College, marriage, job, children. The usual things. I couldn’t have been happier. However, I often wondered if it was still there. If he was still there. They both were. Mr Kenningway looked old. He said I did too! We laughed. I soon started to make regular trips back to town and always stopped at the bookstore. One day I noticed it. He appeared frustrated. Cranky. I’d never known Mr Kenningway to fly off the handle before. However, he seemed confused. He couldn’t find things which were only a few feet away. He complained his memory wasn’t what it was.

That was three years ago. I still visit him. He’s living in the sheltered housing units where the old railway sidings used to be. Whenever I walk in he always looks up. He recognises the face, he just can’t remember the name. Some days I’m his nephew, the next his grandson. I don’t mind. It’s too late and too complicated to explain. As long as we continue to have our moments together, looking at his old photos, remembering the old days I can be whoever he wants me to be. I’m there for him, that’s all that matters.

These 333 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 85 writing challenge. 


This story is dedicated to the ongoing research into the cruelest trick life can play on an active mind.


For more on the above early signs of Alzheimer’s please look here.


26 thoughts on “Trifecta 85 – The Cruelest Trick of All

  1. elainelk

    Oh, this is beautiful, and I love your dedication. Alzheimer’s/dementia are indeed the cruelest trick. I saw my mother go through this. I love the way you made the man a bookstore owner–what could be more cruel to a reader and booklover? This is really well done, Paul. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Thanks a lot Elaine. It is indeed a cruel trick. Can’t really imagine what it must be like if it happens to you. Terrifying. Thanks again for commenting.

  2. Jo-Anne Teal (@jtvancouver)

    As you might know, I work at the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia, so I’m partial to stories that portray the disease truthfully and clearly. Yours is a lovely work, Paul. Beautifully told and very heartfelt.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Ah. I didn’t know that and if I did I may not have risked touching this subject with an expert on the prowl! Extremely relieved that you like it.

      ps what happened to the ‘Featured Trifectan’ thing? I won’t be offended if they ended up choosing somebody else 🙂

  3. BettyRants

    Beautifully crafted story, Paul. You convey the frustration and the pain while still allowing him to have the dignity that we all wish we could keep. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. steph

    Lovely! Very moving. He’ll be whoever he wants him to be. Wow. And we both mention chess in our entries this week. Awesome coincidence. Really nice piece!

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Cheers Steph. Yeh, Chess just came to mind. The sort of thing you might find books on in a dusty old antique bookstore. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. kallanannie

    Dementia truly is one of the cruelest tricks. So many great–and ordinary but equally vital–minds chewed up and swallowed whole. I love the compassion in this story, and the recognition that, in spite of all the disease steal, the core of the person remains. Beautiful.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Your kind words are appreciated. I’m happy but at the same time a bit sad that this story has resonated with so many peoples lives. Thanks for reading!

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Sorry to hear about your mother. Don’t give up hope. I’m sure she’s a fighter. Glad you enjoyed the piece but sorry that it made you think about your mum.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Thanks Tara. Yep, “cowering” was the second or third word I used in that sentence. Think I had “lurked” to start with but the image of the shop cowering down a dark alley seemed better. Glad you enjoyed it. Good luck with the judging this week!


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