This piece was written for OLWG#155
Hopper Todd woke to the night. His alarm sounded at exactly 10:00 pm, or 2200 as his father, Ralph, would have said if he’d still been alive. Hopper’s dad had been killed at work. He was an armoured car driver and had lost his life when he braked hard to avoid a cyclist. The sudden stop caused a pallet filled with about a hundred 25-pound boxes of quarters to break free from it’s bindings. It slid forward from the back of the truck to the cab. Ralph was crushed into the steering wheel when the boxes hit from behind. He was killed instantly.
Tonight, though, Hopper wasn’t concerned with his father’s death. He was poised to perform at “Midnight Microphone”. A writer’s and performer’s venue held once a month at The Eldorado Hotel and Ballroom, downtown. A huge venue, a fuckin’ barn! Probably holds 6 or 7 hundred people, easy and always crowded for this event. It made him nervous.
After showering, Hopper shaved and wished that he could grow a beard. His Momma told him that maybe when he was a little older he’d be able to. His father, after all, had had to shave twice a day, but Hopper was almost 19 years old. He didn’t want to wait any longer.
“Oh well, can’t be helped,” he thought.
Checked his reflection in the mirror,
Ran his fingers through his wet hair.
Dressed carefully in his grey plaid skinny suit. He donned his waistcoat patterned in a blue and turquoise floral.
A thin grey leather necktie.
Downstairs he made himself a peanut butter and jelly burrito, strawberry jelly. He sat on the couch with Momma and they watched a little of her favourite TV game show, the $10,000 Pyramid.
“What are you up to tonight, Hopper? All dressed up; shaven and shorn? You look like you’re up to something.”
“I’m doin’ the Midnight Microphone tonight, Momma. I’ve got a bit of the stage fright. Butterflies, you know.”
His Momma took both his hands in hers. She looked at him for a while and then grinned, “Can I hear your poem?” she asked.
He pulled a folded sheet of paper from his suitcoat pocket, opened it, looked down, cleared his throat, and began to read.
“She was long and lean, spindly. She walked with a gangly gait.
She kept a small pistol within easy reach at all times and; she didn’t own a car.
She was a con and a charlatan, who ran a three card Monte game. A different corner every day
“on a cardboard box…
easy to fold away…
easy to move if it got too hot…
“We became embroiled with one another when I was sixteen.
She was twenty-one.
She gave me my first kiss.
“She tasted of rye and cigarettes.
I was smitten.”
Momma swiped at her eyes, “You know you should have it memorized for the show?”
“You’re talking about that Ward girl, aren’t you? That red-headed girl, her name was Irene or Eileen? I knew that girl was a bad influence. I should have put a stop to that when she first started coming’ around.”
The prompts were:
- don’t tempt me, baby
- midnight microphone
- tear stained letter