Pick

Written on this date for TBP

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TBP


Big Nick Dixon was nursing a dirty martini, trying to give off a strong ‘LEAVE ME ALONE’ vibe when the older couple approached him at the bar. She was probably in her late sixties, maybe her very late sixties, with a blue wash on her hair, a heavy polyester dress suit, and sensible shoes. He appeared to be a few years older than she. He wore Bermuda shorts that accented his saggy knees, one of those tropical shirts, and a straw fedora. Neither of them looked like they had been missing any meals but they looked happy and they were holding hands. They looked like a couple of tourists on vacation at the beach from Nebraska or somewhere like Nebraska.

“Scuse me, young fella,” the old guy said, “these seats taken?”

Nick shrugged and the couple sat down.

“Thanks, sonny,” the old man continued, “we’re both getting a little hard of hearing and don’t want to sit too close to the jukebox, in case some fool starts playing it. Know what I mean? Know what I mean?”

“See, Saul,” the blue-haired woman said, “he does look a lot like Pick. A younger Pick for sure but he looks a lot like Pick. Don’tcha think?”

The old man scrunched his eyes and looked at Nick, “Maybe so, Lenore; maybe a bit around the eyes. The hairline’s the same though. No doubt about that.” He put his hand on Nick’s shoulder, “Son, you wouldn’t happen to be Big Dick Nixon would ya? Nephew of Pick Dixon from Kansas City Missoura?”

This got Nick’s attention and he growled at the old man, “First of all, my name is Big Nick Dixon, not Big Dick Nixon. I don’t know if you think you’re being funny, but I fail to see the humour. Second of all, I have an uncle in Kansas City, but his name’s Edwin Dixon. I don’t know anybody named Pick.”

Lenore slapped the back of her hand on Saul’s shoulder, “Edwin,” she laughed out loud, “damn; don’t that beat all. No wonder he went by Pick. Can you imagine being named Edwin for your whole life? Shit… Edwin, Ha.”

When the bartender came over to get the old couple’s order Lenore was giggling to herself, her large girth shaking like a bowl of Jell-O; every so often she would say, “Edwin” again and laugh a little harder.

Saul ordered a gin and tonic for Lenore and a Jack, neat for himself. As the bartender went to fetch the drinks, Saul turned his attention back to Big Nick. “OK,” he said, “You are obviously Pick’s nephew. He told us we might find you here, and look, here you are.” The barman came by and set napkins and drinks in front of Saul and Lenore.

Nick turned and squared up with Saul, they were both big men, “What the hell do you want old man?”

“I want you,” Saul said, “or at least I want to hire you. Your uncle told us that you’re a pretty good thief, a cat burglar… know what I mean?”

“Stop right there,” Nick interjected, “I never steal cats. I’m a second story guy. I didn’t never take no cats. Wait, you know my Uncle Edwin?”

Lenore waved her hand and sipped her drink, “Relax, Dick.” she said, “It’s the same thing. It’s the same thing, and yes, we knew your Uncle Edwin.”

“What do you mean you knew Uncle Edwin?”

Unfortunately, Pick passed on last week – had a heart attack at the ponies in Greenwood County.” She paused for a minute and then added, “That’s in Kansas ya know.” She paused again and asked, “What do the girls call you? Do they call you ‘Big Dick’ or just ‘Dick’?”


My prompt was: A misunderstood burglar receives shocking news.

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OLWG#86- The Dance

I confess that I spent more than 25 minutes on this story written for OLWG#86, but it didn’t feel like it was that long. I did almost no editing so its pretty raw. Sorry ’bout that.



I clutched her tight, pulled up to my chest and kept my feet moving from side to side. She slept, her feet on top of mine; her head rolling languidly on my shoulder. She had told me that her name was Bea. The band played on.

I met Bea two days ago when I rolled into this small smoky Pennsylvania town looking for work, hoping to get a job at the mill. I had stopped into a diner for a cup of coffee. Bea was the counter girl. She was pretty and I divided my attention betwixt watching her and reading the bill of fare chalked on the blackboard above the window where the cooks put the orders up. She was refilling coffees and making small talk with the punters, who all seemed to be regulars. She knew each of them by name.

When she got to me she introduced herself. Smiling crookedly she said, “Hi, My name’s Bea,” to reinforce it; she pointed to the nametag pinned on the breast of her cute pink and white waitress uniform, “In case you forget, it’s printed right here.”

“Nice to meet you Bea,” I stuck out my hand and she took it, “Name’s Earl.”

The handshake lasted a little longer than was absolutely necessary. She held the stainless steel orb of a coffee pot in her left hand and I stared into her eyes, green with flecks of copper colours in the iris’. Finally, she broke the reverie, “Coffee?”

“Huh?”

“You want some coffee, Earl?”

We released each other and I shook my head, the trance broken, “Oh, yeah. I mean, yes, please.” She giggled and poured before moving on.

I didn’t want to leave. She kept coming by to refill my cup and each time we’d exchange a few pleasantries. I ordered a slice of peach pie and when she sat it down she stopped and seemed to be considering something. She put her elbows on the counter and leaned towards me. I could see the tops of her breasts and the beginnings of a white lacy brassiere.

“Are you a dancer, Earl?” she asked.

“Not a very good one, Miss Bea,” I answered, “but I’m very enthusiastic. Are you asking me to a dance?”

She flashed that crooked smile again but before she could reply, the fat old geezer with the stringy grey hair called out to her, “Hey Bea, can I get some more coffee down here?”

She looked down the counter, “Keep yer pants on, Mr Fredricks, I’m coming.” She looked back at me and ordered, “Don’t go anywhere.”

I held both my hands up, in surrender and watched her walk away. When she came back she picked up where she had left off. “I think I am asking you to a dance, Earl. You look like a strong guy and there’s a dance contest tomorrow at the Elks Club. It’s gonna be one of those marathon dance contests. Costs two dollars apiece to enter but there’s prize money.”

“How much prize money?”

“That depends on how many contestants they get, but they say it’ll be at least a hundred dollars. I got four dollars to get us in and I could use that prize money, couldn’t you? We could split it 50- 50 and you could pay me back your two dollar entry fee when we win. Look around you, Earl. None of these other guys would last two hours. You’re the best chance I got.”

She had stated her case and now she watched me for a reaction. Her green and copper eyes were pleading. What could I do? “A ‘course, I’ll go dancing with you, Miss Bea. ‘Course I will.”

We spent another twenty minutes or so working out the logistics. She gave me her address and we agreed that I would come to her house the next day at noon and pick her up to take her to the Elks Club. That would give us time to register and get ready. The contest was set to begin at 1:00 o’clock.”

That was two days ago. There was thirty-three couples entered into the contest. Bea and I were couple number seventeen and we both wore those numbers on cloth bands wrapped around our upper arms. She was still asleep, standing on my feet with her head on my shoulder and I was shuffling around the floor. We got a three minute break every hour to go to the bathroom or splash water on our faces or grab a bite of a sandwich or a swig of pop. When the bell rang that signified our 52nd hour of dancing I shook Bea a little to wake her up.

“Its break time, Bea,” I told her, “Go take a load off. I’ll bring you a Coca Cola.” I watched her move towards the folding chairs against the wall and I headed to the refreshment table to pick up a couple of cold drinks.

“You’re a real trooper, Earl. How you holding up?” She asked as I handed her the pop.

“My dogs are barking, Miss Bea. I’m pretty tired but the competition is thinning. Number twenty-nine dropped out while you were asleep so that means there’s only seven teams left. I think we got a shot at this.”

She flashed that crooked smile again and her eyes sparkled. I knew then that I would dance with Miss Bea till I dropped. We were gonna bring this thing in.


This week’s prompts were:

  1. she smiled crookedly
  2. at least a hundred
  3. dogs are barking

The “dogs are barking” prompt is the one that snagged my attention this morning. The story grew from that one.

Furrowed



I turned fifteen in 1916. I was overseas. On that morn, I lifted my head above the trench to look across the battlefield.

Coils of concertina wire lay across the furrowed ground. Trenches filled with dead, frightened, and damaged men.


Maybe It Won’t Be So Bad

  I wrote this for the January 17th Flash Fiction Challenge



Dario was a cad, a reprobate. He knew when he died because the pain disappeared.

Dead Dario rose, brushed imaginary dust from his shoulders, and looked ahead; there was no behind.

He was on a covered walkway surrounding a garth filled with souls of the suffering damned. Tapered stone columns stood like sentries between him and the wretches. Each column, labelled with a lie, that he recognized as one of his own:

Promises he’d never intended to keep, yet made to women he’d wanted.

Yarns spun to investors whose monies he stole.

Dario was a sinner, foreordained to perdition.


The prompt and instructions were:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades. It can be natural, architectural, or a metaphor. Take a stroll and go where the prompt leads.

OLWG#85- Little Missy Alexander

A troubling story that I wrote for OLWG#85



“Ye must be very careful with the children ye pick,” the old crone informed the young couple who sat across the desk from her. “Some ‘o dem kin be a bit rough ‘round the edges if’n ye catch me drift.” She spat and hit the shiny brass spittoon in the corner of the room. The lady in the visitor’s chair cringed, the faint trace of a smile graced her young husband’s face.

“This here orphanage,” the stooped old woman continued, “this here place can take some ‘o the natural luster offen em, but all chilluns is good at heart to a certain age. With a little work and polish they can regain their former shine, their natural gloooow.” She drew the last word out and flashed a well practiced but ineffective smile at the young couple. She wiped her nose on her sleeve. The wife counted three missing teeth. “Didja see anyone ye liked when ye walked thru the yard, then?”

“Yes, perhaps,” the young husband answered. He was anxious to begin the negotiations. “There was a girl in the play yard. She was standing alone, by the climbing frame.  She was freckled and her hair was a dusty blonde colour, and fine, she had a page boy cut and wore a red checkered sleeveless shift. We’d like to talk with her, if that’s possible?” The old woman nodded knowingly, “Uh huh, uh huh,” she muttered, “that’ll be Missy. Missy Alexander.  Are ye sure about that one? Bit ‘o a prima donna, that one. Ye know, the Sister ain’t here and I shunna do it; but I’ll let ye pick again. Don’t think ye’d be happy with Missy Alexander, ya know. Wanna have another go?”

“I don’t think so,” the young man reiterated, “if you could fetch her and give us a room where we can get acquainted, it would be most appreciated.”

“As ye wish, as ye wish. I’ll send someone to fetch Missy if ye insist,” she mocked him, “need to see an ID though,” she clucked her tongue, “need to see an ID.”

The man dug in his pocket for his wallet and the hag lifted her chin to yell at the door, “Hiram? HIRAM?”

A tall thin boy of indeterminate age stuck his head in the door, “Yessum?”

“Go out in the yard and collect Missy Alexander. Take her to Visitin’ Room B. We got some paperwork to take care of and we’ll meet ye there shortly. Stay with her in the room ‘til we arrive. Don’t leave her alone.”

“Yessum,” he ducked out and disappeared.

The young man produced his papers and the old woman began filling in the first of what would be many forms.


This week’s prompts were:

  1. need to see an ID
  2. Some of them, with work and polish, can regain their former shine
  3. when your eyes are closed

A Hand-Carved Cameo



She was a handsome woman, never without a walking stick or a parasol, depending on the occasion. Her chrome plated derringer always close at hand. Cinched tight in the hollow of her neck, on a dark ribbon, she wore an ivory cameo with a silhouette of her mother. A silver flask of rye was kept tucked into her beaded handbag for medicinal purposes, of course.


enrichment, in no particular order

  I wrote this for the January 10th Flash Fiction Challenge



art and artists
knowledge and teachers
buildings, builders and architects
children and discovery
dogs and cats
food, farmers, ranchers
coffee and mornings
freedom and soldiers

 

big skies in Montana

 

friends and family
oceans and boats
giving without taking
help and contributors
confabs and conversationalists
ideas and thinkers
jobs and colleagues
mountains and fresh air
music and players
amor y novias

 

New Mexico and wide open spaces

 

poetry and poets
sculptures and sculptors
seabirds and majesty
shipmates and brothers
when a plan works
stories and storytellers
wives and daughters, or husbands and sons
books and authors
cake and ice cream


The prompt and instructions were:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment. Use many of its different manifestations or explore reasons why it matters to the character. Go where the prompt leads.