Doves coo softly from the sill,
The thump of the paper echoes in the drive,
Dawn cracks in the east,
The coffee maker gurgles, the toaster pops, the eggs crack,
The girls giggle,
“Happy father’s day,” running into the room.
Doves coo softly from the sill,
The thump of the paper echoes in the drive,
Dawn cracks in the east,
The coffee maker gurgles, the toaster pops, the eggs crack,
The girls giggle,
“Happy father’s day,” running into the room.
Nadine immediately regained consciousness. It was like with the snap of her fingers, none of this gradual returning to reality. No grogginess and trying to figure out where she was. It was immediate, light switch kind of stuff. Her eyes snapped open and there were still chickens flying around, unsettled. This told her that she hadn’t been out for long, probably less than a minute.
A quick inventory of her extremities coupled with a tentative stretch and twist told her that she hadn’t broken any bones, at least not any important ones. She was grateful for that.
The chickens were calming back down but it appeared she had gone all the way through the henhouse. She could look through and see all the way out the back side. Like a shotgun shack. Fuck, she thought to herself. Then immediately that changed to Shit then back to Fuck then back to Shit. Shit, fuck, shit, fuck, shit, fuck. Then she stopped thinking. “I gotta quit doing this,” she said to herself, out loud. “I’m giving up this goddamn cursing, remember!” Oh shit, Nadine had learned to curse in the Navy when she was Nathan. She’d been good at it too and it was hard to quit. She was finding out that it would take more than a series of operations to make her a lady. Her therapist was helping though and she was getting better. She was losing her creativity with the cursing, Shit, Fuck, were almost all that burst forth these days. That was progress.
Riding her bicycle clean through a henhouse just brought out all the Shit, Fuck’s she had inside her. She couldn’t help it. The sound of someone hurrying through the brush drew her attention. “Hey, hey, you all right young lady?” Must be the guy who owned the henhouse, she thought.
“I think so,” she answered and then she looked at her bike. The front wheel was twisted like a pretzel. She was going to have to carry that home, there was no more rolling in that wheel’s future. “Better than my bike, I think.” She stood and picked up her bike by the handlebars.
“Land sakes, little girl,” the man said,” I’ll get that bike outa there for ya. You get on up t’ the house and let my wife take a look atcha. Make sure yer OK.” By this time he had stepped through the hole she had made in the henhouse and extended his hand to help her out. She took it and thanked him. He pointed back the way he had come and repeated, “Get on up t’ the house. Irene’ll take a look. I’ll rustle these chickens up and lean somethin’ ‘ginst the wall to keep em in. I’ll be up shortly with yer bike.”
Nadine nodded, thanked him again and headed off in the direction he had indicated; she unsnapped and removed her helmet. Goddamn good thing I was wearing this, she thought to herself.
There was an tiny, older woman on the back porch when Nadine got to the house. Skinny as a rail, she was pacing back and forth, waving her hands and rubbing them together, as if she were worried, but stopped when she saw Nadine. Down the steps she came with her arms outstretched. I hope she’s not a fucking hugger, Nadine thought and then immediately regretted it. She assumed that this kindly older woman was Irene, the henhouse guy’s wife, and she was right. To Nadine’s delight she was not a hugger. She was however, a gesticulator. Her arms and hands moved whenever she spoke or, took a step, or turned her head.
“My Lord, girl,” the woman said, her hands flitting about like tiny birds. “What on earth has happened? We heard an awful ruckus. Did you see Edgar? Is ever’thing all right? Are you all right? Let’s get you into the kitchen. Clean ya up, get some’a that blood off yer head.”
Nadine couldn’t get a word in edgewise so she nodded her head and followed Irene up the steps and into the house. The back door opened directly into the kitchen and Irene motioned for her to sit at the table. She was still rattling off questions, like there was no tomorrow so Nadine simply sat down, as was expected of her. It was a rectangular wooden farmhouse table with a blue and red oilcloth cover, four chairs were arranged neatly around. Gradually she realized that it was quiet. She looked up at Irene. Irene was looking back at her expectantly.
Nadine realized that this was her cue. Irene was obviously waiting for a response. “I’m sorry,” Nadine said, “What?”
That set her off again and Irene launched back into the endless stream of questions while she got a cloth damp and waved her arms about. She pulled one of the other chairs around and sat next to and facing Nadine, gently dabbing the cloth on her forehead, above her right eye. “Oh, that’s not too bad,” she said, “I can get this cleaned up and we can pro’lly just put a band aid on it.”
I gotta get to my day job guys, Maybe I can pick up again with these characters later. Thanks for reading – sorry to leave the story hanging.
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It was 1945, or thereabouts when I got to Timmy’s house. I’ll never forget how excited he was when he opened my package. The trip from Battle Creek had been relatively uneventful but I welcomed the warmth when I got to Arizona. Michigan is cold during the winter, Phoenix, not so much.
Timmy lifted me gently from the box and stared. I guess I’ve always been a beauty though, so I can’t blame him. Upstairs, he pored over my instruction leaflet and practiced drafting a few messages.
DID YOU GET YOURS YET DIANE?
L7L BF1 M3W BF1OX B3W L7GA3?
I rode the bus to school with Timmy that day. He slipped the message to a young girl on the bus. It was Diane. She palmed the note and didn’t acknowledge Timmy at all, true Captain Midnight Acolytes in training. She was good, and so was Timmy.
Later that day, at lunch, Timmy pulled a scrap of paper out from beneath the table where it had been placed in the cracks between two boards. On the playground he used me to help decode it. It was from Diane.
YES, ARRIVED IN THE MAIL YESTERDAY
And so began the encoded love affair between Timmy and Diane. Secret messages were exchanged between these two all the way through College. In the beginning, they exchanged messages about radio programs, siblings, friends, and parents. As they got older the contents matured and by the time they were both 18 I was helping them arrange clandestine weekend getaways with one another. Always the messages were encoded and decoded with my help. Diane had a ring as well, I knew she did and I caught a glimpse of hers once. A dull silver colored replica of me with a green wheel, a real beauty, although I was painted gold and had the red wheel.
I remember when I helped Timmy encode his proposal to Diane. On that day:
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
Z5BB HCU 8LAAY 8F?
The U encoded as a U that day. Sometimes letters would remain unchanged, that’s the way I worked. I thought it was sweet that it was the U remaining unchanged that day. Timmy was nervous; I knew he had no reason to be. Anyone could tell that Diane loved him. The next morning Timmy found a note that had been slipped under the door.
He didn’t need me to decode that one.
Years sped by and I spent a lot of them alone in a wooden box on top of Timmy’s dresser. Occasionally he would pull me out to encode a message for Diane. Things they didn’t want the kids to read, birthdays and the like, it was good to have the old wheel spun around and exercised from time to time. The last time Timmy pulled me out I helped him encode a love poem for Diane’s 50th anniversary present.
Life is good for us Captain Midnight Encoder Rings.
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Genny had to open the shop that morning. She was tired. As Virginia, she had stayed up late for the blood rituals, but she had a strong coffee in hand that she was using to prop herself up. A paper was tucked under her arm; the lead story about the murders that had taken place the night before. Unlocking the door she waved to the watcher, the one that Virginia had summoned and chained beneath the cornice. He winked back in greeting. She began to prepare the shop, readying it for the onslaught of customers.
She hated being Genny, despised the meekness that defined Genny, loathed her shop assistant position, selling souvenirs to tourists. As Virginia she is powerful and power is narcotic; a drug that inflates egos as it bestows strength. None dare question Virginia’s decisions. No one challenges Virginia’s will.
Genny is a doormat who spends her days tidying the shop, dusting shelves, and refolding T-shirts.
Genny longed to leave herself behind and become Virginia exclusively; had even gone so far as drafting a letter of resignation from her post but, Virginia would not allow it. “Foolish girl,” Virginia had said to her. “We need you in that shop.” Virginia had called the watcher then and he had taken up his post outside the door. His black horns and hooves contrasted sharply against his red skin. He looked to the world like a caricature of what he truly was, an imp, the perfect disguise.
Some days Genny would reach her wits end dealing with stupid tourists, answering their stupid questions, cleaning up their stupid messes and she would glance up at the watcher. He would wink at her and she could once again swallow the bile that the day had thrown her way, regain her ability to soldier on. The watcher proved that Virginia loved her. But this particular day there were no serious problems, traffic through the shop was sparse and Genny had spent her morning remembering the glories of the night before. She reveled in the memory of warm blood and how it felt as she bathed in it, rubbed it over her body. When her victims were bleeding and dying it did not matter that they were only itinerants and prostitutes, culled from the herd of those who would never be missed. All that mattered was the blood, the glorious blood.
Lunchtime, she hung a sign on the door, “Back in 30 minutes” and went for a sandwich and chips. When she returned the watcher did not wink or wave a finger, as was his custom. He sat, unmoving below the cornice. Genny reached and tapped his cloven hoof: nothing. Something was terribly wrong. Virginia must be summoned. Virginia must be told. Virginia will be angry.
The next day’s papers told of the raging fire that destroyed an entire block in the city center. The only casualty was a shop assistant named Genny Jones who had, apparently, failed to escape the conflagration.
500 words written for the Light and Shade Challenge, Monday 9th June 2014
the photo prompt by Thomas Marlowe:
Occasionally it happens still. Not as often as it used to; but sometimes he still roars and when he does it is usually to extract terrible vengeance. One time though, he gave me the words and the courage to speak to a beautiful girl in the park. That was forty years ago. That girl and I were married for 32 of those years. She’s gone now but, for some reason he and I live on.
His lines are blurring. He is not as sharp as he used to be but that’s OK. The same things can be said of me. I got him in the orient. Kowloon, at a shop called Pinky’s. Pinky tattooed this Dragon and Pearl of Wisdom on my chest. Living art as soon as he was inked. He breathing is synchronized with mine and the pearl gives him knowledge coupled with an acute sense of justice which he exercises from time to time. The last time he roared we were in the subway. The car was about half full and two gangbangers were harassing an old man. Shaking him down, taking his money and packages, slapping him around. When the transit cops came in at the next stop one of those gangbangers was dead. The other was sitting on the floor in a puddle of his own urine, whimpering. Of course, no one saw anything.
We all had to go down to the station and I spent about an hour talking to the cops but they had no reason to hold me so I left. That was about a year ago. I saw that old man again on the train last night. He smiled at me and nodded his head when he got off at 47th Street . He remembers and so do I.
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Perspectives on life, universe and everything ¿
It began easily enough. There were three of us who hatched the plan, me, Ruben and Stan. We sat on my front porch that Friday night to suss out the details. Stan’s dad had one of those long, heavy iron bars to help with the digging but he wouldn’t be able to get his hands on a shovel. That was OK because Ruben and I could both get them. I knew that I could get two for sure, one with a round nose and one square. We chose Stan’s back yard because his house sat a little deeper in the valley and this should cut our total digging time. It must’ve been Stan who suggested the idea first, and Ruben took a little convincing, but eventually we all agreed.
“Do you know how many people have tried this?” Ruben asked skeptically. “What makes you think we can pull this off when nobody has ever done it before?”
Stan brushed his red hair back, out of his eyes and crossed his arms. Leaning back he announced confidently, “Nobody’s ever done it before only ‘cause we haven’t tried yet. We can fuckin’ do this man.” He turned his head and spat over the porch rail like he had to prove how tough he was. Ruben and I had always been in awe of Stan’s mastery of the profane.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Ruben said. He and I both nodded our heads in unison.
We agreed to meet at six in the morning at Stan’s. “Don’t ring the damn doorbell when you get there. Just come through the back gate and we can get started. I’ll be ready for you.” He stood; putting one hand on the railing and vaulted off the porch to the lawn. He picked up his bike. “Gotta go, Mom’s makin’ meatloaf tonight.”
“See ya Stan,” I said as he pedaled away.
“Can we really do this?” Ruben asked.
“You know how I feel, Ruben. I’m feeling good. I really think we can.”
“How long do you think it’ll take?” he asked.
“I’m not fuckin’ sure,” I replied, trying to sound like Stan, failing miserably. “I figure it’ll take all summer but just think – we’ll be famous.” I tried to spit over the porch rail but didn’t make it that far. Ruben pretended not to notice.
“Yeah, you’re right. Fuckin’ famous… see ya in the mornin’.” Ruben said as he stood and walked towards home. Ruben only lived two doors down from me. He hadn’t bothered to bring his bike.
I went into the garage and got the two shovels. I stuck them behind the boxwood hedge with my bike so I wouldn’t have to search in the morning. Then I went inside to see what Dad had made for dinner.
It was 5:30 when I got out of bed the next day. I pulled on a pair of cut off jeans and a T-shirt. Ruben was standing on the sidewalk with his little sister, Angie, when I came out the front door. “What the hell did you bring her for?” I asked him.
“Mom says that I gotta take care of her all day dude. Sorry.” He shrugged his shoulders. I looked at her. She had sticky red candy running down her chin and she smiled. Her teeth were red too.
We went down to Stan’s and set Angie up in the yard with the puppy and some cookies for entertainment. We got to work.
“You think it’ll take all summer?” Ruben asked Stan as he stood in the bottom of the two foot deep hole. “That’s what Jim guessed last night.”
“I think Jim’s a goddamn pessimist,” Stan said. “I reckon if we knuckle down we could bring Chinese fireworks back for the fourth of July.”
We worked the hole that entire Saturday and by sunset it was about 4 feet deep and we had hit rock. The next day Ruben’s mom made him stay at home with Angie. Stan and I went to the school yard and got in on a pickup ball game. We got back to that hole the next weekend when Stan’s dad found it and made us fill it in. We never did get to China that summer. We gave it everything we had but it wasn’t enough.
If the speakeasy is open you can click the badge, above, and see what this is all about. There are only 40 seats at the bar but if you hurry you might get one!
07 June 2014
The prompts today seem negative and confrontational. I don’t think I like them when taken all together.
A single one of these could be great if mixed in with other prompts about smiles or rainbows but all three at once? Jeez, I’m gonna have to go home and take a nap or eat a cupcake; something, anything to lighten it up a bit.
What are the odds of these three prompts being chosen on the same day? Statistics can be manipulated to prove anything you want them to; so let’s examine this a little deeper. There are 50 prompts to choose from so one might think that the odds are 3 in 50 but they are, in reality a lot longer than that.
Those choosing the prompts are picking blind; they cannot relate the prompts one to another. This assumes a 1 in 50 factor that needs to be considered in our calculations.
Separate people choose each prompt and there are eight people here today. 8×50=400 so we must include another 1 in 400 factor. This brings the odds to one in 450 but wait, there’s more. There are three individual prompts so we have to multiply that by the odds, so far. 3×450 brings our chances to one in 1350. Pull in the constant of π, rounded to 3.14 for simplicity, takes the odds to (3.14×1350=4239) 1 in 4239, which must be multiplied by 52, number of meetings per year. For a grand total of
1 in 220,428
Those are the odds of getting these three particular prompts on a single day, at a single meeting. I suppose I should quit whining though. In general whining is not acceptable and at this rate it’ll be more than 4000 years before we get another set of prompts this bad. I’ll make sure not to attend that meeting.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.
I worried as I entered the bakery. I always worry. I should never have told Grace last night.
She’s a gossip. She’ll tell everyone. Soon, everyone will know.
“Good morning Mr. Evans,” the fresh, young counter girl sings. “How’s that nasty rash?”
When the guy came to the door and asked for me, I didn’t recognize him. Usually when that happens, it’s the cops or a process server sent by my ex-wife’s lawyer. I slammed the door and ran to the back but the guy was quick, he was already standing on the back porch when I got there. I was beaten. So I offered him a cup of coffee. He explained to me over instant powdered that my Aunt What’sername had left me a million bucks. I thought it was a trick. I thought there had to be a catch to it. Like one of those emails from Nigeria.
Nope, this was on the up and up. He explained I had to go listen to an estate attorney read the will and that the money would be mine. The appointment was set for next Tuesday at 2:00PM. I showed up and no one else was there, just me and the lawyer. I asked him about Aunt What’sername and how we were related. He didn’t know. He said that she had shown up at his office about a year ago without an appointment. She dictated the will and they both signed it. She left strict instructions and then left. He never saw her again. Last week he was notified of her death so he dug out the documents and sent his man to find me.
He read the will out loud and asked if I had any questions. Then he opened the top right desk drawer and removed an envelope which he handed to me. It contained a cashier’s cheque for 1,000,000.00. He explained that Aunt What’sername had arranged the taxes to be withheld in advance so this money was all mine. Another envelope held a statement showing the total amount less the taxes and the balance. There were other financial documents that he suggested I show to my accountant. Pfft, what accountant? I asked a lot more questions but he didn’t know much more. So I took my envelopes and left. Made my way to the bus stop.
I really didn’t want notoriety so it was good that Aunt What’sername left me the money, better than if I had won the lotto. The press tends to converge on lotto winners and they ask you what you are going to do with the money. I’ve seen this on TV so I know it works that way. I think they want you to say that you are going to donate it all to charity, or that you’re going to a large amusement park. They don’t want to hear the things that I got in mind. I don’t want to do anything wholesome with this money.
I might waste some of it and buy new golf clubs, but the bulk is going to be spent on important things that are not good for me.
1. Women –
2. Cigarettes – the unfiltered variety, full tar and full nicotine
3. Roulette – I hold no illusions of winning but there is something about a little ball bouncing around on a spinning wheel, I don’t know I suppose it’s the adrenaline
4. Whiskey – the single malt kind with unpronounceable names
5. Chiccarones – and other salty, fatty foods, I like to sit outside on the porch when there’s a warm, quiet evening, snack on fried animal fats, and listen to the sound of my arteries hardening
6. Cocaine – just a sniffle or two, not a lot
7. Criminal Enterprise –
I almost missed the stop thinking about what I was going to do and planning my future. I got off two stops before my house. There was a bank on the corner. I figured I ought to open an account of one sort or another.
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“Didja get that camper clean boy?”
“No, not yet”
“How come then?”
“It’s a mess Grandpa. It’s been parked under that tree for like, forever. And, all ya got to clean it with is dandruff shampoo.”
“Read the directions boy. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Get on it!”
“Aww Grandpa… I got the new PS6 ‘Zombie Zebra Apocalypse’ game today. I can wash the camper tomorrow.”
“Listen here ya little shit. If that camper ain’t clean I can’t sign the title over. I seem to remember you’re takin’ a driver’s test next week.”
“Sorry, Grandpa. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. I’m on it!”
Here is the picture prompt:
Image taken by Lyssa Medana
Here is the quote:
That is one of those instructions that are so much easier to write than to carry out. ‘Just pop the pill down the cat’s throat’ is another one.
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