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Ding Dong! Avon Calling (A Short Story)

John has many years of writing experience in poetry, short fiction and text for children's books. Basically, he just loves to write.


From the Archives

I realise that this story may seem a little antiquated. I don't think Avon still continues to do door to door sales. However I wrote this little story many years ago and at that time Avon door to door selling was alive and strong. Email didn't exist at the time either, we still wrote letters.

Actually, I had forgotten about this story until I was going through my archives (a box of my old writing and attempts at writing) and came across it. I showed it to my wife at the time but didn't consider it good enough to submit for publishing anywhere and I don't think the Internet even existed then, so I just filed it away. I don't like throwing anything away, especially my writing. No matter how good or bad a piece is it is a reminder of the times and feelings I was experiencing when I wrote it.

Anyway, i decided to dust it off and publish it here as a hub. I hope you enjoy "Ding Dong! Avon Calling."

Ding Dong! Avon Calling.

by John Hansen © 2014

Sarah opened the gate an strode confidently towards the door of the brick duplex at 192 Everett Avenue. She was starting to feel a little nervous though as she knocked loudly beneath a big brass "1". "Think positive," she whispered to herself as she waited for the door to be opened, however it remained firmly shut.

Looking around Sarah observed a small doorbell to her right. She sighed, and then pressed the button. A faint "ding dong! could be heard somewhere deep within the house. Within moments the door was opened by a somewhat dishevelled young woman while attempting to cover a yawn.

"Sorry if I woke you," Sarah apologised, suppressing the urge to say "Avon calling." "I'm Sarah Davis, the new Avon representative for the area and I'd just love to show you our latest exciting catalogue."

"No need to apologise, I had to get up anyway. Too many late nights, you know how it is?" the young woman replied with a smile. Seeing the case Sarah carried with the word "AVON" she opened the door, "Come on in."

Sarah entered and was led to the dining room where she sat down. "Nice place," she said automatically without even looking around then, without waiting for a reply, reached into her case and withdrew a catalogue. "This is the current catalogue for Week Five. It contains all of our most popular lines plus a few new items that I'm sure you will like," said Sarah passing the booklet across the table to her prospective customer.

"Thanks," the younger woman said, accepting the catalogue. She began to flick through it but suddenly remembered her manners and asked, "Oh, would you like a cup of tea or coffee?"

"Well, actually I have brought you some free samples," Sarah replied, removing a few sachets of perfume and shampoo from her case. "Oh, and this one is a herbal tea. Avon is expanding to include a range of vitamin and health products. We want customers to sample them and give us their feedback." She passed two sachets marked "forest fruit and herbal infusion' across.

"In fact you still look tired, why don't you let me make you a cuppa and you can tell me what you think," Sarah said taking the sachets back and standing up. "How do you have it, as is or with a little sugar or honey to sweeten?"

"Oh, a spoon teaspoon of honey would be fine," the young woman replied gratefully.

Sarah soon returned from the kitchen to find the other woman looking through the catalogue. She placed a cup of herbal tea in front of her on the mahogany table. "Here you, I didn't catch your name?"

"It's Beth, Beth Stewart. Pleased to meet you."

Scroll to Continue

As Sarah watched Beth sip her tea she thought back to Monday morning. The wheelie bin had been knocked over during the night (probably by a dog or some young troublemaker). Sarah was carefully replacing the contents when she came across a crumpled envelope. What caught her eye was a small red heart sticker in the corner. On unfolding it she saw that it was addressed to 'Mr R Davis', and on the back 'Sender: Ms. B. Stewart, 1/92 Everett Ave.'

Sarah and Roger had been married for seventeen years and she considered their marriage a happy one, despite the fact that they couldn't have children. The discovery of this letter, well envelope, however worried Sarah. Maybe she as just jumping to conclusions.

She confronted Roger with the evidence hoping, no expecting, an explanation that would ease her mind. Instead she was surprised by his directness. "Ok, I'm having an affair Sarah! I hoped you wouldn't find out, but you have so there's no use denying it."

She searched his eyes for some kind of emotion, as tears dropped from her own, but was met by a cold, unfeeling stare. "How could you? Sarah sobbed. "I hate bastard..get out!"


Roger had been ready to leave for work anyway. He packed an overnight bag and a few other items to take with him now and said he'd arrange to collect the rest of his stuff when he found a permanent place. His parting words didn't help either, "It's for the best Sarah. I haven't loved you for a long time and things would only get worse if we stayed together. Goodbye."

It was as if he was making it all out to be her fault somehow. Well, she knew whose fault it was!

Sarah found the rat poison in the garage..the label said "Warning! contains Arsenic" She remembered the unopened box of herbal tea in the pantry. She'd received it as a present a few months back but hadn't opened it. Now was the perfect opportunity!

Being an Avon representative was an easy way to get your foot in a stranger's door. Sarah packed all her goodies (including two tea sachets) into her kit, climbed into her red Toyota Camry and headed for the address on Roger's letter.

Beth finished her tea, "Hmm, not bad. I wasn't sure if I liked iit at first, but the taste grows on you."

"I'm glad you like it," said Sarah smirking. "You might say it's compliments of Roger Davis." How could Roger have the hide to make love to this girl? She was young enough to be his daughter. Sarah didn't blame him though; men were weak. It was this temptress's fault for seducing him.

Beth looked puzzled, "Roger who?"she questioned, beginning to feel slightly ill from the poisoned tea, "Oh, that's Barbara's new boyfrind's name.'t understand."

"Who's Barbara!" shouted Sarah, confused.

Suddenly the front door opened and in stepped another young woman dressed in jogging gear, her tee shirt soaked with sweat. "Hi, I'm home Beth," she called from the hallway, "What's for brekkie?'

" sister Barbara, together," Beth stammered, "uh..excuse me, I'm not feeling..well." She staggered to the bathroom holding her stomach.

Sarah stared in shock at the newcomer. Her heart sank. She's made a terrible mistake. Without a word she tossed everything back into her Avon case and rushed out the door. The sound of Beth's retching filled her ears.


Sarah sat motionless and alone in her living room. She seemed to be staring at her wedding photo on the wall, though her eyes saw nothing. An empty teapot and cup stood on the coffee table along with a small tin labelled with a red triangle showing a scull and the word "POISON!"

"Symptoms of arsenic poisoning begin with headaches, confusion, severe diarrhea, and drowsiness. As the poisoning develops, convulsions and changes in fingernail pigmentation called leukonychia striata may occur. Arsenic is related to heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and diabetes." (source: wikipedia)

© 2014 John Hansen


rjbatty from Irvine on January 08, 2016:

I somehow knew that you were man enough to absorb some amount of well-intentioned heat. I tried to balance my criticism with praise about your poetic dexterity. I don't enjoy having to leave criticism or attempting to school others about the craft of writing. But your story reminded me of my own deficiencies as a storyteller. I've written a lot of stuff that I recognize as failure -- and a lot of it involves the ending to a tale. I probably have written dozens of fictional pieces that mirror your own, so I felt the necessity of writing a kind of derogatory comment -- not to be hurtful but maybe slightly insightful. Reading through your list of commenters, I found the almost unanimous praise to be unfounded. I don't think the story works, and I had to explain why, hoping that my comments would be taken with an open mind. Overall, the story is compelling, and I do hope you'll keep up the effort of writing fiction. As previously stated writing fiction is damn hard. Writing a completely satisfactory piece takes a lot of effort. But I think that writing good poetry is nearly as difficult. I cannot do it. My poetry reeks to high heaven. I'm inclined to burn all my efforts in this regard because I'd be embarrassed for anyone to read the junk. Writing fiction requires a basic understanding of a few principles. The principles may be few and easy to comprehend but nearly impossible to reach a minimum goal poast. The simplicity is actually a killer. When I read Chekhov, I'm amazed. He was able to write really short pieces of fiction that met or (usually) exceeded the basic standards for writing short stories. When you read masters like Chekhov, you just want to throw your keyboard out the window because your own stuff simply stinks by comparison. It's sort of like being a boxer who gets knocked out in every fight. Why continue? It's a losing game from the onset. We'd all like to have the dexterity, the craftsmanship of a Chekhov or Tolstoy or even Hemingway, but we can see that by comparison we're all a bunch of flops and should probably spend more time cleaning our toilets and bath tubs instead of pretending to be talented writers. This is what Brahms must have felt while writing symphonies and concertos that came after Beethoven. But Brahms was brave enough to do his own thing and produced some amazing works that are right up there with Beethoven and Mozart. What kept him going following in the footsteps of giants? I suspect that we share a common cause. Brahms wrote musical compositions not to compete with the giants who came before him but simply out of a sense of love for composing and performing. Thus the same may be true for amateurs such as ourselves. We're never going to rise to the level of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy or even the disputable ability of someone like Stephen King. One has to face the punishing truth that we're all just hacks by comparison. So, the mere process of writing must be its own reward. You either get a sense of enjoyment by composing poetry or fiction (or both) or you're masochistic, flagellating yourself for no reason whatsoever.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on January 08, 2016:

RJ, thank you for the constructive criticism. I still don't have a lot of experience with short fiction stories, but I try my hand at it now and then. You did choose to read one of my very first pieces of writing that I dusted off and published as a hub. I have read so many short stories, or flash fiction here at HP that do not have satisfactory endings. It seems to be somewhat of fad to leave them up in the air, but you do make good points. I am forever trying to learn and expand my writing however, so although they may not be the most accomplished I will continue to write the occasional short story or flash fiction. Writing a satisfactory ending is the often most difficult part of a story (as you say) and I find it much easier and satisfactory to tell a story through poetry in fact.

I do appreciate your honesty however, and contrary to what someone said in a forum, I am not only looking for praise from comments. Cheers.

rjbatty from Irvine on January 08, 2016:

The writing is good but this doesn't really qualify as a short story. You leave too much open space at the end. You want the reader to surmise the conclusion, and this is dangerous territory. You are dealing with a life or death issue, so you have to be brave enough, courageous enough to spell out the conclusion. The whole concept is a bit overwrought and not very realistic, but even shoving this part aside, you really messed up with how your story ended. You cannot suppose that your audience consists of mind-readers. If you are confident about your subject matter, just spell things out in a plain and simple fashion. Based upon my short story classes from UCLA, we would call this a "kernel." You have the seed for a real story but you shrink from it. Being a good short story writer requires a kind of boldness, an ability to avoid being coy and rely upon the merits of your writing talent to deal with one of the hardest aspects -- a satisfactory conclusion. I didn't really tune in to the whole Avon lady perspective, but you have a good command of the English language, so I read the entire piece. I didn't like it. Having a command over the English language does not equate with having a gift for storytelling. You need to take some classes or at least listen to a few audio books on the subject of creative writing. You do much, much better with your poetry, and this is admirable. I once thought I could write poetry but really everything I produced was crap. So I ventured into the territory of short story writing. Good short story writing is on a par with writing poetry -- it's damn difficult. So while I appreciate your ability to use language to establish mood and character -- these things alone don't constitute a satisfactory short story. A lot of my own short story writing falls short on the same ground. I can come up with seemingly great ideas but I'm often at a loss about how to end them appropriately, artfully. Consider this as a mixed review. You clearly have writing talent, a great command of the language, but you aren't a storyteller (in my estimation) at least not yet. I think you should just hone in on your ability to create poetry (no small feat) and abandon short story writing. Sorry if this seems offensive, but I'm just trying to be bluntly honest. You may receive accolades on your effort, but these remarks are basically coming from non-short story writers with no education about the necessary mechanical aspects of producing short fiction. I'm in my sixties now and after having written a few hundred short stories myself, I feel confident enough to tell someone to go fish. You are wise enough to interpret my comments in their proper context. I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but feel the necessity of offering an honest opinion.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 05, 2015:

Hey Bill, glad this one kept you guessing. As an afterthought, instead of saying that the product line was expanding to include herbal teas, she may have been able to poison a lipstick or something instead but that didn't cross my mind at the time. Thanks for your generous comment anyway.

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on October 05, 2015:

Hi John. It's a good one for sure. The tale held my interest all the way through. I got suspicious when Sarah said the company was expanding its product line. Trying to figure out what she was up to, made the yarn even more interesting.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 05, 2015:

Haha Sunshine, I am glad your Avon lady is nothing like the one in this story..just beware if she ever brings tea :)

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 05, 2015:

Oh my, that wife was a Ding Dong! Actually my Avon lady was at my home last week, but luckily we are friends and she didn't make me any tea! :)

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 05, 2015:

Hello ps, thank you for stopping by to check this story out. Glad your momma didn't take any tea bags. Thanks also for sharing and pinning. Much appreciated.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 05, 2015:

Love this Momma used to go door to door selling Avon and sometimes I was able to go along with her.

Just so you know....she never took any teabags along :D

Angels are headed your way this morning ps

shared pinned to Awesome HubPages g+ tweeted

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 04, 2015:

Hi Surabhi. I am pleased that you found this short fiction story of mine and even more pleasing is that you enjoyed it. Yes, Sarah is certainly a troubled soul. Her pending outcome appeared bleak either way.

Surabhi Kaura on October 04, 2015:

What a twist! The silence of Sarah in isolation reveals she is guilty conscious. It seems like she'll commit suicide. Loved it, Jodah!

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on February 01, 2015:

Thanks for reading this story TMB, much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed it.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on February 01, 2015:

Thanks for reading this story TMB, much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed it.

Missy from The Midwest on January 31, 2015:

Interesting story. I enjoyed it.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on January 14, 2015:

Hi missirupp, yes I agree you have to leave the reader with some questions to ask themselves. If you give them all the info it takes away the mystery. This was actually one of my very first attempts at writing a short story, so glad it wasn't a total failure. Yep, have to keep in touch. I appreciate you taking the time to read these stories.

missirupp on January 14, 2015:

Creepy Jodah. You do a good job of leaving questions for the reader to answer (and that's a good thing by the way). That's why we spend so much time in literature classes discussing the same books over and over. We will have to keep in touch.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 04, 2014:

Thanks for reading and sharing this Shyron. Glad you enjoyed and interesting that you worked for Avon and met some other hubbers that way.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on October 04, 2014:

John, I am glad you saved this for us, your HP family. As confucius says, when you set out for revenge, always dig two graves.

My own experience with Avon when selling it. Deliver drivers left the box in the entry way and it was stolen. Then I worked in the call center entering the orders, that is where I met Au fait our fellow hubber, and my friend Maureen who still sells Avon.

Voted up, UAI and shared.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on October 02, 2014:

Thanks for reaing this Jackie. Good to have the opinion of an ex Avon lady. I use to deliver telegrams for the postal service so I know about yappy and nippy dogs.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on October 01, 2014:

Great imagination John and it could happen.

My experience with selling Avon was there were too many yappy little dogs to ever think about having tea! lol


John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 29, 2014:

Thank you for reading this jemuelO, glad you enjoyed the story and the twist, and hope you like my other hubs.

Jemuel from Cebu, Philippines on September 29, 2014:

I really like the story! There's a good twist at the end. Well, good thing you never threw this out and decided to publish it here - such a pleasure to read.

This one pulls me in to read more of your hubs. Thanks for the great work!

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 29, 2014:

Thank you for reading Jo. Really, good for the complexion? I didn't know that. It was suitable for an Avon lady to use then, but yes she took it a little too far. Glad you enjoyed this.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on September 29, 2014:

John, nicely done. Arsenic is supposed to be good for the complexion, but the Avon lady took it much too far. :) Loved the twists and turns, glad you saved this one.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on September 26, 2014:

Great story and really exciting. You know I have a friend back in NYC who still goes door to door with Avon.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 25, 2014:

Thank you for reading and sharing this Lady Guinevere. Amazing just how many people on here used to sell Avon. I guess the Internet made it easy for most to stop selling door to door. Some probably still deliver and call on to regular customers they know but not strangers.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 25, 2014:

Eric, Happy Halloween early!

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 25, 2014:

Thank you tills, glad you enjoyed. My wife did Avon for awhile too but like you bought more than she sold. Wow, Twilight Zone..really? Thanks for the vote up and share.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 25, 2014:

Thanks for reading Marlene. I was hoping a real Avon lady would read this...yeah! I understand it would be very risky walking into a stranger's house today. I guess that's why door to door isn't the preferred practice any more. Glad you enjoyed this story.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 25, 2014:

Thanks Kevin, glad the twist surprised you. Yes Sarah was shattered that she poisoned the wrong one...had to do herself in then.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 25, 2014:

Thanks Ryem, I appreciate the kind comment. I bet you were expecting a poem. :)

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 25, 2014:

Hi Kathleen, glad you enjoyed this tale, and yes please show it to your cousin. I'd like to hear what he thinks of it.

Debra Allen from West Virginia on September 25, 2014:

Wow that was interesting. I used to sell Avon and yes I did go door to door. Scary to do that now. When I moved here they made it all on-line or most of it. I did have the brochures by mail thing going with the people where I used to live and that was discontinued and I lost all those customers. There is an Avon rep in my area that does it all. They say they do not have territories anymore, but don't tell that to some of the ladies who sell Avon around here. I quite selling Avon a couple of years ago. I was losing more money than making money.

I am sharing this one.

Eric Wayne Flynn from Providence, Rhode Island on September 25, 2014:

Halloween is on its way, muah ahh

Mary Craig from New York on September 25, 2014:

This definitely deserved to be read. What a great little thriller. I could see this on Twilight Zone! Funny, I was an Avon Rep too but had to stop because I bought more than I one was in any danger from me.

Loved this and voted all but funny, shared too!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on September 25, 2014:

That's one busy little Avon rep. I've been an Avon rep since 1994 - only selling to close family and friends. I use to do the door knocking thing, but I was always afraid to walk into a stranger's house. Just like Sarah, you never know what you will find. Nice story. I'm glad you pulled it out of archives.

Kathleen Odenthal from Bridgewater on September 25, 2014:

I loved this! My cousin (a male) used to work for Avon and would love this, I am definitely sharing it with him :)

The Examiner-1 on September 25, 2014:

That was something John. I did not realize where you were going until she mentioned Barbara. Then I guessed what was going to happen. I imagine that Sarah felt bad about giving the rat poison to the wrong one. I voted up, shared and pinned it.


Ryem from Maryland on September 25, 2014:

This is a great story, Jodah. I didn't expect that twist at all, you are very talented.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 24, 2014:

Hi Diana, a lot of us have fond memories of the Avon lady or the products she deliver to the home. Just like in every other walk of life there are good and bad. Glad the ending surprised you.

Dianna Mendez on September 24, 2014:

The ending is surprising! I remember though when the Avon lady used to visit our home when I was a child. She would give me a sample of lipstick to play with and that was so fun.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 24, 2014:

Haha Colleen, hope it didn't put you off your tea. Yep arsenic has always been a favourite with writers eg. "Arsenic and Old Lace". I'll have to read your murder by poison hub too.

Colleen Swan from County Durham on September 24, 2014:

I was drinking a cup of tea while I read this. What an ending. I wrote a hub about murder by poison. Arsenic is the all-time favorite. I will put on my makeup now.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

No offence taken Cris, I just went through and changed a few. I appreciate you mentioning it...errors detract from a piece no matter how minor.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on September 23, 2014:

Jodah, I'm not a great writer (never perfect) but once an editor, always an editor. Lol! I should have sent you a private email. But as I said, they are very minor. Please don't take offense. :)

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Hey thank you Cris for the kind comment. Hmm, I'll have to go through it and find those typos you mentioned.. :)

Appreciate the vote up though.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on September 23, 2014:

You know I love suspense stories but your chosen title drew me here. I think that's very creative. I used to support a friend who sells that product. So, I buy from her. Then we moved and so, I don't buy anymore. Ok, I digress.

Well back to your story, what a terrible mistake by Sarah if I may say! :)

This is neatly written (some minor typo oversights), taut pacing with quite a remarkable twist that is effective in the end.

Voting up+++

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Hi Kim, thanks for reading and your kind comment. Glad the surprise ending worked for you. Yes, I'm glad I kept it...wasn't so hard to resurrect after all. Cheers.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Thanks Suzanne. I appreciate your comment and the vote up. Glad you enjoyed the twists and turns I wove in.

இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу from Niagara Region, Canada on September 23, 2014:

Lordy, lordy...what a twist! John, you are very good at having the reader think one thing, then totally throw them for a loop. Nicely done. Glad you didn't throw it away. Take care. Kim

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on September 23, 2014:

I really enjoyed this story - it has a bit of everything, from the mundane to the wrecked marriage to the sneaky antics of Sarah. I liked the twist at the end with Barbara too! Voted awesome and up.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Thanks Jamie, glad you enjoyed this tale.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Thanks for the kind words MsDora, and no, I didn't know that Avon started out by selling books but the perfume incentive proved more popular. Exactly, look what happened with Sarah :)

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Thanks Ann. Maybe you need to let your friend read this so she'll realise why you are looking at her strangely now.. :)

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 23, 2014:

Jodah, excellent poet and storyteller! By the way, did you know that the Avon company started selling books, and offering perfume as an incentive? They switched when the people showed preference for the perfume. Sarah took a step backward, offering tea and look what happened!

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on September 23, 2014:

A story well told! Well done! Jamie

Ann Carr from SW England on September 23, 2014:

This is a great story, John. The suspense and the chill factor are just right. A friend of mine is an Avon rep but, as you say, doesn't go from door to door. I'll think of this story every time I order now! The twist was perfect; amazing how revenge can go wrong!


John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

It's my pleasure Devika. Your hubs always deal with personal emotions and you share from your heart, so I think it's only fair to give the best advice or comment I can. I am glad you enjoyed this hub too.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 23, 2014:

Hi Jodah! Thank you for sharing such great comments at my hubs. You have showed me your true self in this beautiful hub with an unexpected twist.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Thanks Alicia, yes I'm glad I kept it too. It seems to have proved quite popular.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Yes Flourish, Avon ladies always seem like the perfect woman don't they? In this case I think the real mistress got away unscathed. I don't really think her of the husband deserve to, but oh well, maybe in the sequel.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Thanks for the great comment Cat. Yes I remember "the Hand That Rocks the Cradle"...scary stuff. You are right Rebecca de Mornay would fit the role perfectly. So glad you enjoyed this story.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 23, 2014:

Hi Faith Reaper. Yes Avon ladies are usually portrayed as so sweet and perfect. I had to put a dent in that persona..haha. Glad you enjoyed the twist too. Thank you.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 22, 2014:

This is a very interesting story with a great surprise ending, Jodah. I'm glad you didn't throw it away!

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 22, 2014:

I'm glad you didn't throw this one away. Avon ladies always seemed so pulled together. I wonder if the real mistress is going to encounter trouble or perhaps a free makeover with strings attached (like around the neck).

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on September 22, 2014:

This flows so well and realistically captures the helpful nature of the door- to -door Avon ladies who dropped by to pamper bored housewives. I didn't see the twist coming either! I really enjoyed this and am glad you pulled it out of your archives. I'm picturing Rebecca de Mornay who is so good at portraying one with an evil agenda underneath all that sweetness- akin to "the Hand that Rocks the Cradle."

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 22, 2014:

I remember "Ding Dong, Avon Calling" and some people in our building still sell Avon and leave their booklets in the ladies restroom.

Wow, John, that was a surprise of a twist to the story, for in my mind I was thinking of the days of the little white picket fences and such and then wham!!! LOL

I am glad you never throw out your stories!

This was an interesting read as it is so unique and clever.

Blessings always ... and nothing more scarier than a scorned Avon woman : )

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Glad this gave you the chills MizBejabbers. The new range of tea etc was just a fabrication by Sarah in the story. I don't think Avon ever sold that line. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Wednesday-elf, thanks for reading. Fancy you having been an Avon Lady...well I don't suppose you were expecting this when you read the title. :)

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Hi Carrie, I thought this one might appeal to you being along the lines of some of your stories. Hope I haven't put you off tea for good.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 22, 2014:

Kind of shocking, gives me chills. This story is a good example of not looking before you leap. Poor Beth. My mom used to be an Avon lady, but I don't think she sold tea.

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on September 22, 2014:

You got me with that ending...LOL. Your title sucked me in because I USED to be one of those 'ding-dong' ladies.... :) No poisoned tea, though!

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on September 22, 2014:

Excellent and written in my kind of style :). Voted awesome :). Enjoyed the read very much during my lunch hour...I don't think I will have tea today :)

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Haha Eric, well maybe you have a right to b suspicious after all :)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 22, 2014:

Excellent twist, but I have always been suspicious of those ladies ;)

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Hi Shauna, yep that's exactly what happens. Mmm could be a good thing :) although apparently they still deliver personally in some places from the comments.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 22, 2014:

Wow, John. Just goes to show you what can happen when you jump to conclusions! Is Sarah going to poison herself?

Interesting story. Now the Avon lady just throws a catalog in the driveway. I guess that's a good thing!

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Thanks Bill. I felt old too when I found this story and was going through it to make a few changes. Glad you enjoyed the read. I remember the Avon Lady and the Rawley's Man calling around in a station wagon with woodgrain side panels.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2014:

Love the story. I remember the days when the Avon lady came door to door with the Fuller Brush Man. LOL Now I know I really am old. :)

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Thanks for your kind comment Maria. Surprisingly I didn't have trouble writing in a woman's voice as Sarah...must be my feminine side :)

Sorry if the story made your stomach jumpy. I guess you'll never look at an Avon lady the same, or a cup of tea. Yes, I don't know what's happening with Ruby and I :) Tanks for the vote up too.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Haha Ruby, maybe you are right. Frank could be our muse :)

Glad you liked this story too. Hopefully I can come up with something for his challenge as well. Thanks for tweeting.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 22, 2014:

Gees, no more Avon for me. I used to enjoy going to Avon parties, even had some in my home. I liked your story, a little dark with a twist at the end. I think your muse is a friend of mine, they both are happy campers when we write dark pieces. We can blame it all on Frank. lol..Tweeted

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on September 22, 2014:


I have read a few women who successfully write in a man's voice. What a treat that you totally took over as the vengeful Sarah in this story that still has my stomach quite jumpy...

Geesh, what's happening around here? With friends like you and Ruby, Halloween time should be a S C R E A M...!!!!!!!!!! I better go make MYSELF a cuppa tea now, nice and safe, see??

Voted UP and UABI and keep looking in those archives for more like this! Hugs, Maria

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 22, 2014:

Thank you for your kind comment The Stages of Me. I'm glad that the story got you in and then that the ending surprised you. That's what most writer's of short fiction aim for.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on September 22, 2014:

Great story, such an unexpected turn, found myself caught in the imagery of a sweet nervous Avon lady on one of her first calls. I could see her and the fact that she turned to a vengeful murderess was a shock. Well done, you had me going in a different direction and then bam, I like the twist.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 21, 2014:

Hey Sally, thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad I resurrected this story, and good to know the Avon ladies still call. Maybe only in the bigger cities they don't. I know the local one for our area drops off a catalogue in your mail box and her biker husband delivers the items on his motorbike. Happy Monday.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 21, 2014:

Good to see you Bobbi. Thanks for letting me know that the Avon ladies still visit homes in the small towns. That helps my story be more current. You have a great week too.

John Hansen (author) from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 21, 2014:

Thanks for reading this Rachael. I too am glad that I held onto all my old writing. I still have a few more that I came across that appear promising enough to resurrect. Good that you have the same mindset. Glad the twist as effective

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on September 21, 2014:


I love this one. What a shame that you left it gathering dust on the shelves, a very enjoyable read.

I know that the Avon lady still exists in my neck of the woods, though she has never called at my home selling the products. I see her delivering her products on a weekly basis - smiling at everyone as she goes.

This one was the perfect start to this Monday morning,

Thank you


Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on September 21, 2014:


That was a different Avon story full of drama, mystery and murder. You did a good job using Avon with a different twist.

In small towns of America Avon Ladies still visit their customers in their home. My aunt has an Avon Rep. and she still enjoys it when she calls.

Have a great week.

Bobbi Purvis

Rachael O'Halloran from United States on September 21, 2014:

What a twist! This was an interesting story and I'm glad you held on to it. Like you, I never know if a story can be improved on at a later time, so I never throw anything away either. What I was thinking at the time I wrote it and what it turns out to be when I publish it are often far apart, hopefully for the better.

In your case, no matter what form this story had back then, you did well with the presentation. I love the twist.

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