Today was a day for the Book Bandits (aka Orange County Writers Guild). When I am in attendance (as often as possible), I am usually allowed to provide the prompts for the group. I tend to provide short phrases, names, two or three seemingly random words, or single words. I usually keep a picture or two on hand as well. I keep a file on my laptop with 50 prompts. The group calls out three numbers between 1 and 50. The corresponding prompts are what we use to spark our imagination, our creativity if you will. The practice is that you can use one, two, or all three of the prompts, but you don’t have to use any of them if you are not so inclined.
I am always amazed at the diversity and quality of the writing that emerges. I really shouldn’t be. My fellow bandits are good writers. Really good. I learn a lot from them.
Having said all that, if you are still awake, let’s get to today’s festivities, shall we?
Today’s adventure with the Book Bandits.
The prompts are:
- Lonesome Johnny
- He was damn sure good looking enough
- We had a picture prompt today. It was a young girl, no more than 10 years old. She was wearing shorts, a red tutu, and a black tank top. She had full protective skater gear on; including a pink helmet, and all the required pads/wrist protectors, etc. She rode a purple board and had a pink brain bucket strapped to her head. Her long blonde hair streamed out behind her and her face was a mask of comfortable concentration as she does a 50/50 grind on the edge of a large concrete bowl, in a skate-park somewhere. I say she has a look of comfortable concentration on her face because, it is obvious she knows what she’s doing! It’s a great picture.
Emeline finished her meeting and made her way to the street. She didn’t get downtown often and she had some time to kill so she decided to walk around some. The area was in the process of being reclaimed – gentrified. Posh art galleries were flanked by dive bars and pawnshops. She glanced in the open door of one of those dive bars and thought she recognized Johnny.
She confirmed it was him as soon as she walked into the bar. Something about the way he held his head. He sat at the end of the bar with two empty stools between him and the closest other customer. Now that she had recognized him she made a bee line to the stool right next to him. He was drunk. Sloppy drunk. His chin kept falling off his hand and there was a cigarette butt in his beer glass. Four or five empty shot glasses sat upside down in front of him.
The bartender was trying to wave her off as she approached Johnny’s stool. She ignored him and perched on the stool next to Johnny.
She said, “Hey there fella, buy a girl a drink?”
He looked in her direction with no recognition in his eyes, “Piss off,” he said, “leave me alone.”
“We used to call you Lonesome Johnny,” she said, “now you really are, huh?”
That got his attention and he looked at her again, “How’d you know my name?” he asked.
“A better question might be how come you don’t know mine? Look at me Johnny. Who do you think I am?”
He studied her sitting straight and tall on the stool next to him.
“Don’t just look at my tits,” she said, “try to recognize me!”
He raised his eyes and looked at her face. Looked at her hair and looked into her eyes. She saw a spark.
“Emmy?” he asked softly.
“First guess Johnny. Maybe there’s hope for you” She looked him over; he had the soft grey pasty flesh of a drunk who never got outside. His nose was red and his butt hung off the sides of his stool.
“What happened to you, man?” she asked. “When we skated together as kids you were so full of life. And, and in high school you were good looking enough to have had anything, or anyone, you wanted. You’re my age but you look 20 years older… What happened?”
“Iraq happened,” he said. “Go away Emmy, I don’t want to talk to you.”
“Where’s your spirit gone Johnny? Did you let it slip away?”
He slapped both hands on the bar top hard. SMACK. Everyone in the place jumped and looked over at them.
“Get the fuck out of here Emmy,” he stared at her for a few seconds. “NOW” he screamed.
She pulled a card out of her pocket; tossed it on the bar in front of him.
He looked down at it and read:
VP, Mergers and Acquisitions
Santa Cruz Skateboards
“You ever want to straighten up and rejoin the world, come see me,” she said. “If you can still skate, that is.”
“Go now Emmy,” he stared her down till she got up from the bar and headed for the door.
Halfway there she came back and handed a hundred dollar bill to the barman.
“Put this towards his tab,” she said. She left, walking quietly back into the sunlight.
Johnny stared at her till she got out of sight.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.
You guys still with me?
The piece here is pretty raw. First draft stuff. The only editing is what I did during our allotted writing time. Usually we have 25 minutes but today we got a little longer; an early Christmas present. I also corrected some of the spelling while I was transcribing. I write with a pen and paper on Saturday mornings. It can get pretty messy.