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Joshua Spencer


Science teacher/author/poet and father of three, Joshua Spencer was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1959. He grew up in several locations in Jamaica but spent most of his childhood years in a small district called New Mills. His father, Charles Spencer, was an accountant who was murdered during Joshua’s early years. His mother, Ilett Robinson was a domestic helper and later a businesswoman. She died of bone cancer in 1992. Joshua immigrated to Canada in 1993 and in 2003 he became a Canadian citizen. He did several odd jobs until finally being hired as a teacher in 2005 with the Toronto District School Board. His two adult daughters are Kadisha and Kaliese Spencer. The former is a high school teacher. The latter is a professional athlete. His son, Michael started the 12th grade in September 2015.

Prompt Option #11

One of your characters is a drama queen waitress who works at a main street diner. Everyone in the community has learned about a serial killer from TV news reports and from reading the newspaper. The murderer is on the run in their state. The night before, he stole a blue Toyota Camry only 200 miles from their small rural town. The waitress is fascinated with the case. Her incessant talk about it is getting on the sheriff's nerves and driving everyone crazy.

It is a stormy night. She's only had a few customers all day. She decides to close the diner early because nobody is coming out in this bad weather. While she is cleaning the counters and getting ready to lock up, a white Nissan truck pulls into the parking lot and a soaked man hurries inside. The truck is from Charlie's used car lot. She recognizes it. Poor Charlie doesn't sell many vehicles. The stranger orders, and in spite of her attempts to have a friendly conversation, he won't say much. He just sits at a corner table and stares at the rain. When she serves his meal, he wolfs it down like he is starving. Suddenly she realizes that the man looks a lot like the serial killer. The killer had a mustache in the photographs she saw on TV and in the newspapers. This man is clean-shaven. Yes, this man, he might be the killer---she is positive, well---nearly positive.

Mistaken Identity
By Joshua Spencer

(1000 Words)

The wind howled and screamed as it latched itself to the branches and leaves of the nearby trees that juxtaposed the isolated Rick’s Diner on Brockville’s main street. The branches and leaves moaned bitterly as they tried unsuccessfully to wrestle free of the wind's vicious restraints. As if these violent forces of the night’s wind were not vengeful enough, the rain intervened with merciless, bomb-like pellets that pounded the trees, ground, and walls while splashing about as the clouds thickened to create a jet black blanket, stifling and obscuring the once beautiful sheen of the setting sun in the horizon.

Inside of Rick’s Diner, now void of customers, Natasha’s blue eyes bulged in fear. Her slender body shook regularly in tandem and unison with the frequent streaks of lightning and roaring thunder that caressed the inner and outer walls of this almost isolated building. She stroked her blond hair as she looked around at the compact diner, three small rows of three tables with four chairs each, stretching from one corner to the next, a narrow walkway between the rows. She wondered why this storm chose to arrive at such an inconvenient time and hour. A time, she thought, when her boss had to leave town early due to previous commitments. A time, she considered, when it was all over the news, the electronic media, and the press, that there is a serial killer on the loose. A time, she worried inwardly, that the serial killer could be heading to this part of town as he had reportedly stolen a Toyota Camry just about two hundred miles away.

"I probably should just clean up for the day and call it quits. No one in their sound mind will venture out in this storm," she murmured to herself.

Natasha frequently wiped her sweaty palms on her apron as she cleaned the tables. She thought about the numerous conversations she had over the years with her customers as she took their orders for their meals. She smiled with pride that she knew all her customers by name, and thought long and hard if ever in her five years at Rick’s Diner, there was a time when the diner had more than eight patrons.

Natasha’s thoughts suddenly returned to the serial killer. She remembered the heated discussions earlier in the day with her customers. She recalled talking very adamantly and vociferously; telling everyone who would listen that this serial killer would be at bay for a long, long time. She reminisced on how she predicted that almost everyone in this small town of Brockville and adjacent towns could die before the sheriff and the rest of the other authorities captured this insane man on the rampage! Natasha even recalled a few of the disgruntled customers telling her to shut up and that she was too much of a drama queen. She had also had the full length of the sheriff’s tongue that shared the same sentiments as those who thought she was too much of a drama queen, constantly exaggerating everything.

"Drama queen, uh. They’ll see," she said out loud, as she finished cleaning the last table. Natasha left the wet rag on the table and stepped towards the door, to close it.

"Oh goodness, here comes a white Nissan truck from Charlie’s Used Vehicles."

As Natasha craned her neck to see if she recognized the driver, a tall hurried man disembarked from the vehicle. He was quite disheveled in appearance and was soaked throughout, water flowing from his clothes like a broken tap, unable to be turned off.

Natasha thought it quite unusual that she could not recognize the man as she knew that Charlie’s sold very few vehicles and usually only to customers from the area. She knew every single customer who owned a Charlie’s vehicle. Who could this man be? Is he a recent resident of Brockville? If so, why did he not come to Rick’s Diner before? Why does he seem so disgruntled in spirit and demeanor? A stream of thoughts started to churn within Natasha’s mind.

The unfriendly and anxious looking man, without even saying a word, went and seated himself in the corner and stared blankly and steadfastly outside at the rain.

"How may I help you, sir?" she managed to ask.

"Shrimp and cheesecake," he said, without any emotion or a blink.

"I’m sorry but we don’t have that on the menu today," said Natasha.

"What do you have?"

"Chicken and broccoli stir-fry," she responded.

"Okay," he snapped.

As the stranger wolfed his meal down, Natasha tried to make conversation with him but he ignored her.

"My, this relentless and dismal storm is really something," she offered.

As he silently ate, Natasha started to see in him some resemblance of the serial killer whose picture was plastered all over the news. The only real difference she thought was that he was clean-shaven. As the man continued to gaze outside at the wicked storm, she went inside the kitchen to call the sheriff who quickly requested assistance from state troopers.

"Put your hands up and don’t move," shouted the sheriff and his backup officers in unison, all guns pointed at the bewildered man.

Then man responded with fury, "You guys are pathetic! My own son was murdered by this serial killer, and you’re setting your sights on me?"

"You have the right to remain silent," the sheriff shouted, not believing what the man was claiming.

"The only crime I’m guilty of is I stole that white Nissan truck. My vehicle broke down on me in the rain. I heard on the news that the serial killer might be near here. Since you guys are not doing your job, I took it upon myself to seek revenge for my only son’s death."

The sheriff looked at his driver's license. It bore the surname of the first victim of the serial killer. The grieving father was not charged with stealing the car and was driven home by an officer.

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