OLWG #28 – Whatever Happened to Randolph Westcott?

 Written for OLWG #28



Randolph pulled the collar of his overcoat up and pulled the brim of his fedora down, an almost futile attempt to shield himself from the rain. Glare from the automobile headlights reflected off the wet pavement casting an eerie glow over the city street, and suddenly, there it was. Randolph probably wouldn’t have noticed it – if not for the lights from the passing delivery truck.

Help Wanted, the sign said. Black letters, carefully hand printed on a buff coloured background; it was tucked into the corner of a steel framed casement window. Right there, in the middle of the block on 57th Street between Scott and Grant. There was no name on the building, there was no indication of what the business was inside, but Randolph leaned over and retrieved the sign. He read it again, flicked the dog-end of his cigarette into the running water along the curb and headed for the door.

The door opened onto a passageway that ran straight back, perpendicular to the street, a flight of stairs disappeared into darkness on the left side of the corridor. To the right a wooden door stood ajar and the tinny harmonies of Glenn Miller’s Stardust played softly inside. Randolph pushed the door open. A girl with short curly brown hair and a green frock sat at a desk inside. She was busily engaged changing the ribbon on a burly black Royal typewriter that was perched at her side. Randolph waited to be noticed.

When she finally saw him she pulled herself together and sat up straight, “Good morning,” she smiled a million watts, “may I help you?”

Randolph held up the sign, “I, uhm?” he fumbled.

“Of course,” she said and indicated a hard backed wooden chair across the desk from where she sat. “You can hang your things on the rack there.”

Randolph draped his overcoat and hat on the stand by the door and moved over to take the chair she had indicated. As he sat, she held out her hand.

“Margaret Monroe,” she introduced herself and Randolph bounced back up from the chair he had barely touched.

“Westcott,” he said and took her hand, “Randolph Westcott.” She continued to smile at him as he released her hand and sank back down into the chair. They sat for a few moments, in awkward silence. “What, uhm, what kind of man do you need?” he held the sign back up, pointed at it. “There’s no name on the door and the ad, here, well it seems pretty general.” His turn to grin.

“Oh, yes of course; we’re looking for a marketing man, Mr. Westcott, this is a marketing company and we’re way ahead of our time. We need someone who can be an Ambassador for our client’s brands. Someone who can spread the gospel of our clients all over the country, while building their brand awareness. We need someone who can…”

“’Scuse me, Miss Monroe, but shouldn’t I be talking to the boss?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Shouldn’t I be talking to the boss?”

Her expression changed, her brows knitted and the smile disappeared, “Mr. Westcott, this company is called ‘Monroe Marketing’ it’s my company. I’m the President, the Executive Director and the CEO. You are talking to the boss. Do you have a problem with a woman being the boss? …Well, do you?”

“No ma’am, I have no problem with a woman boss. It’s just not very common these days. Most women haven’t been liberated yet.” He gave her his patented sideways grin.

“OK,” she said, “I’m sorry that I jumped at you, but most men haven’t been liberated yet either.” They had struck a balance, détente, a truce.

“How does one go about Ambassadoring and building a brand?” he asked her.

“There’s an art to it.” She told him as she warmed up to her subject. “What kind of experience do you have?”

“I’ve done warehouse work.”

She frowned.

“I was a short order cook in Poughkeepsie for awhile.”

She shook her head.

“I did some film work, and theatre, mainly vaudeville; you know the stuff, don’t you? mostly just a lot of gratuitous sex and violence?”

Her smile came back, “Perfect,” she said. Then she leaned forward on her elbows and crooked her finger to bring him in too. Lowering her voice to a whisper, she began to explain the position. Randolph listened carefully. He asked questions in all the right places.

Moments later, Margret knew that she had found her man. All that remained now was to negotiate the terms of his employment.

 


This week’s prompts are

  1. Ambassadoring
  2. Gratuitous sex and violence
  3. and there it was

 

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Vita Brevis

Herbst



There is a new literary magazine represented here on WordPress. They call themselves Vita Brevis. I am taking the liberty of lifting their description of themselves (abbreviated) and pasting it below.

Begin Quote

“Ars longa, vita brevis” (art is long, life is short). This maxim so moved us that it seemed only right to title our literary magazine after it. It may seem curious that we chose Vita Brevis (life is short) as our title instead of Ars Longa (art is long). But this choice was more than appropriate; after all, the aim of our magazine is to publish work that shows a keen awareness of not only art’s beauty and immortality but life’s toils and finiteness. We want to revive and nourish the rich existential literature that forms when art and the human endeavor collide.

End Quote

They have been kind enough to select one of my pieces for publication and it showed up this morning. The title is “Herbst” and the link to it is above. Take a look at what the Vita Brevis team is up to. Show ’em some love.

Gracias Amigos


 

OLWG #27 – Perfect Crime

 Written for OLWG #27



The dark coffee swirls in the bottom of the cup – the steam
wafts, I breathe deep and savour the aroma, replace the carafe

 

Beneath the colonial chair, piled high – covered in books, magazines, and sewing notions
an orange stripey Mama cat crouches

 

A knotted piece of thread lies still and quiet on the cool wooden floor
it’s already dead, I killed it last night, thinking it was a spider

 

Blitzkrieg! Mama Kitty pounces with homicide in her eye
her sharp fangs and claws flashing makes short work of murder

 

She roughs him up some, purely for show, then presents
me with the corpse – a gift, an offering of some sort

 

Breathing  a sigh of relief I sip from my cup – Mama’s guilty;
everyone saw, I’ll get away with it.


This week’s prompts are

  1. get away with it
  2. Here kitty, kitty, kitty
  3. You shouldn’t ask me that

 

OLWG #26 – The Gypsy Life

 Written for OLWG #26



I have a story to tell you. I’m sorry about my English. I don’t have many opportunities to practice it. I was about six years old when they came and camped in the wood just south of Fără Vaci. I remember that my father came to my room and woke me late one night, “Shhh,” he hushed me, “let’s go see the gypsies. Don’t wake your mother.”

It was exciting. We crept out into the dark and followed the river till we came on their camp. It was alive there with music, dancing, games, food, drink, and laughter. Everything was lit by campfires and as we moved into the thick of things he stopped and bought me sweets. He bought himself a bottle and soon got involved in a card game. It was like a circus; so much to see, so much to do. I came across some boys my age who invited me to go down to the river and skip stones with them. I ran back to ask my father if it was OK but he was still playing cards and drinking. A tall, thin, dark haired girl was perched on his leg and his hand was on her backside. I didn’t want to interrupt so I thought I would go for a short time and come back in a little while to let him know where I would be. It didn’t look as though he was planning to go anywhere soon.

The boys taught me to skip rocks in such a way that I could get at least seven skips each throw. I lost track of time and before I knew it adults were hustling us back up to the camp where everything was being loaded into caravans and the campfires were being doused. I couldn’t find my father but I saw the tall thin girl he had been with. She was laughing and joking with other girls who looked just like her. She was buttoning her blouse. I headed over to her.

“Excuse me. Do you know where my father is?” I asked her.

She raised her skirts and laughed, “Part of him is in here,” she cawed, pointing to a thatch of black hair between her legs, “the rest of him is in the river.” The other girls turned away and I found myself immediately wrapped in the arms of an old crone, an elderly gypsy woman who glared at the girl I had been speaking with and hustled me to a wagon where she changed my clothes. She rubbed coal dust in my hair and instructed me to sit down and stay quiet.

“Don’t speak to anyone, except me,” she admonished, and I complied. The band broke camp and moved on. The next day police came by and talked with some of the men. Questioned them and apparently satisfied with the answers that they received, left us alone. We kept moving. Two or three days later the old woman asked me if I could read. I shook my head, no. She reached in her bag and pulled out a parcel wrapped in gaily coloured cloth. She unfolded the material and showed me a book then, patted the seat next to her. I moved next to her and she read the book to me. She showed me the pictures

“You can learn a lot from books,” she said. “Would you like me to teach you to read?” I nodded my head and the lessons began that very day.

I never saw my father or my mother again. The old crone appointed herself my surrogate mother. She told me her name was Jaelle but that I should call her Bunică, she was kind, filled with love and laughter. I gladly accepted her and never asked questions about my other parents. We moved about constantly, like nomads. We made our money by stealing, gambling and selling the young girls to the local men who would come to our camp late at night. The way my father had done.

On my eighteenth birthday my adopted mother took me and a sack, filled with bundles of blue and red money. We walked to the center of the nearby town where we came to the University. She left me on the grass and entered a building. Bunică was gone a long time and when she came back she told me that I was going to study at the university. I was to keep reading books and continue to learn. She told me to read for the law and that when they needed me again they would find me. She told me that my first year’s tuition was paid but that I would need to pay to finish school. She told me that she was sure I had learned enough from them that I would have no difficulty earning money with card games and the like to pay for my school.

I’m now a lawyer. I have been for a year. I’m waiting for Bunică to come back for me. My people can always use a legal counselor. I’ve learned that now.


This week’s prompts are

  1. You can learn a lot from books
  2. The gypsy woman said
  3. It won’t be available until April 1st

 

OLWG #25

 Written for OLWG #25



American Sentence

She pulled back and she smiled, you know the way she does; yeah, she smiled that way.

##

Cinquain

money
money to burn.
his, all his; his money.
money he’d worked for, burned friends for.
money

##

Tanka

it’s a curse, I say
my good looks, my wealth, my friends
fast women and cars
all a scheme to ruin my chance
for a tortured soul, and fame

##

Shadorma

I like this
this exercise in
the process
that we call
creativity. Pare it
trim it – less is more.


This week’s prompts are

  1. She smiled that way
  2. It’s a curse
  3. Money to burn

 

Billy and the Busker


With apologies to Dr. Suess



it was a lovely, sunny day – Frank decided that he would play
he liked the corner at Yesler Way
he grabbed his old geetar, and he grabbed his old hat
in hope that the tourists would drop money in that
He picked up some milk crates on which he could stand
he placed a call to Billy to help round out the band

Billy wasn’t answering his phone
Franklin decided he’d go it alone

Frank rolled up his pant legs, he got ready to play
he stood top his milk crate there on Yesler Way
tuned up his geetar and found a good beat
but something was missing it wasn’t complete
there was one empty milk crate where Billy should stand
again he tried Billy to round out the band

Billy wasn’t answering his phone
Franklin resolved he’d keep going alone

he played through the morning – he played past midday
he was making no money there on Yesler Way
then suddenly – Billy arrived close at hand
Frank climbed from his milk crate said, “Now we’re a band.”
“Billy, where’s your accordion, your horns, your things?”
Bill watched mutely as Frank riffed his strings

then he said, “Frank, ya  know, I’ve disconnected my phone
you’re holding me back, I’m gonna go it alone.”

a heart-broken Frank just continued to play
he couldn’t watch his friend Bill walk away
but he did, he walked slowly, down Yesler Way
Frank packed up his geetar, he picked up his hat
he stacked up the milk crates, the this and the that
the mighty fine day had now turned to crap


Written for a fun photo prompt found here:
Thanks Ms. Rose