OLWG# 236- Down to the Sea in Ships

Flash, Flash, and Flash written for OLWG# 236

Constable Peters looked up at the widow Houston on the roof of her home at the harbour entrance. She stood with her hands on the black, cast iron railing atop the house, her gaze fixed on the horizon.

“Miz Houston?” he hollered up at her. “How long are you planning to stay up there? He’s not coming back. He’s been gone now nigh seven years, come on down.”

She looked down at Peters. First, she raised her right forearm, and then she slowly elevated the middle finger of her right hand. When she was sure that he had noted the gesture, she dropped it and turned her attention back to the sea.


‘Twas the wee hours, and few were awake in the harbour town. Laurence Houston leaned back against the headboard and wrapped his arm protectively around his bride. Her head rested on his chest – a tear rolled down her cheek.

“I still love you, Martha,” he intoned, “my leaving doesn’t mean I don’t love you, but I’m a sailor. I have to do this. When I get back, we’ll be rich, richer than you could ever dream! Hudson will send you money. All of your needs and this house will be well taken care of, until I return.”


Martha had been alone for years. She didn’t like it, but such was the lot of a sailor’s wife. She had just dished up a bowl of chowder when the constable tapped on the door.

“Come inside, Mr Peters. I’m just dishing up lunch. You’re welcome to join me.” She turned and headed down the wide hallway back towards the kitchen. Peters tailed along behind her.

She had a bowl of chowder in her hand when he broke the news. It shattered when it hit the ground.

Without a word, Martha ran to the staircase and leapt upwards, heading for the roof. Peters heard the latch turn when she locked the door at the foot of the stairs. He went out to the garden. He knew where she was heading.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. doesn’t mean I don’t love you
  2. c’mon down
  3. shattered when it hit the ground

Étude Florale en Noir

Written for the fun of it

I met Valerie at a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ meeting in Tulsa. The meeting was at Jimmy Youngbird’s house. Jimmy was the head of the watch group, and an officer, of some sort, in the H.O.A.

I know now what happened, but I had no idea at the time. I won’t try to explain it here, but suffice to say that I believe I was bewitched and wound up going to Valerie’s house for a glass of wine after the meeting. She lived in a red brick ranch on Quapaw Crescent. It was within easy walking distance of Jimmy’s house, where we had met.

The first thing I noticed as I came in through the front door was how nice the house smelled; sweet, floral, subtle and somehow familiar. I knew the smell but couldn’t quite place it. The second thing I noticed was the oil painting that hung in the entryway. The canvas showed interwoven colours, with countless shades of pastel greens. There were faint pinks and a crisp, saturated blue without any purple undertones. A colour that I would call a galaxy blue. There was marbling of white throughout the background. The foreground was done in obsidian black by an artist skilled with a palette knife. I immediately recognized the image. It was a depiction of common milkweed, such as blooms during the summer in the sandy soils of Oklahoma.

That’s what the aroma was; I recognized it as the fragrance produced by the clusters of pink-purple flowers of common milkweed.

I commented on the painting.

“Thank you, said Valerie, “my grandmother did it. She was a healer. Her role was to secure the help of the spirit world, especially the ‘Creator’ for the benefit of others. She painted this for me. The piece has powers. Can you smell it?”

“Yeah, I can,” I said. “Are you telling me that the floral fragrance comes from the painting?”

She smiled and headed towards the kitchen, “Red or white?” she asked.

Betcha didn’t think I could do that?

OLWG# 235- Mending Angels

Written for OLWG# 235

Oswald N’Diaye was a dark black man who appeared to be about sixty years old in 1973 when he uprooted himself and moved halfway around the world to come to Putnam County. He was a tall, slender man who was always well dressed, kept his hair clipped short, and his fingernails clean. He moved into a house on Lost Run Close just outside of town to the west. He took the time to print his name on the mailbox, carefully painting it in white enamel, with a watercolour brush. He never made much effort to meet his neighbours or reach out to the townsfolk. He was a private man, just kept his own counsel for the most part. He spoke with an accent,  and nobody could figure out where he was from; no one could pronounce his name either, so most folks never even tried. Through no fault of his own, he became an enigma in Putnam.

Then one day, Chad Sublette’s old yellow dog, named Biscuit, got clipped by a pickup around the corner from Mr N’Diaye’s house, and by chance, he saw it happen. The dog’s back leg was broken.

In the blink of an eye, N’Diaye was out in the street. He scooped up that dog and carried him back to the house, where he laid it on his kitchen table. He pulled a syringe and a mild sedative from the cabinet, and administered it to the dog, his hands working gently. He spent a couple of minutes calming old Biscuit, stroking his head and whispering to him. Then he set and splinted the leg, wrapping it with Ace bandages to hold it in place.

N’Diaye poured himself a glass of brown whisky, and continued to check the dog. As he sipped the liquor, he spotted the tag that Biscuit wore. It was silver, shaped like a bone and had the dog’s name, Biscuit, and the Sublette’s phone number engraved thereon. He wrote the number on the palm of his hand, picked up his glass and shuffled across the kitchen, where the telephone hung on the wall. As he dialled the phone, he untwisted the long tangled cord.

When his call connected, he began his rehearsed speech, “Hello, my name is Oswald N’Daiye. I live on Lost Run, here in Putnam. Do you have a dog named Biscuit?” he listened for a moment before continuing, “Biscuit is here, at my house. He was struck by a car and has broken his leg. I have set the bone and administered a sedative.”

This time he listened longer. Then, “Yes, I think he will be fine once the leg heals. Um-hum. If you can provide me with your address, I will deliver him home, if you like.” He paused again, wrote some more on his hand, “ten minutes,” he said, “maybe fifteen.” he replaced the handset on the phone and returned to the table.

Gently, he lifted the dog. Cradling him in his arms, Oswald muttered almost to himself, “Come on, Biscuit let’s get you home.”

This week’s prompts were:

  1. an African Doctor
  2. scold me
  3. two-pot screamer

OLWG# 234- A New Level of Understanding

Haibun written for OLWG# 234

Not what I started out to write. Not at all what I’d had in mind. Not sure where this came from!

Donna extended her right arm, which moved the handgun closer to Ed. She closed her left eye and twisted her hand in an anticlockwise direction, then back.

For his part, Ed tried to make himself smaller. He hunched down in the straight back chair. His feet were off the floor, his knees as close to his ears as they could be. His erection had fled, his balls retracted to someplace deep inside his abdomen. His elbows were held tucked in tight against his torso. And the palms of his hands were up as he pled for life.

“Donna, please! You don’t want to do this. She doesn’t mean anything to me. I love you!”
“You do, Ed? You love me? You have a hell of a way of showing it.”

Ed stayed quiet, stayed still; there was nothing he could say, and he couldn’t get any smaller. Donna moved the pistol to her other hand and studied him. “I don’t believe you love me, Ed. I believe the only one you’re capable of loving is Ed. So you have a choice to make. You have to choose how this is going to end. Choose wisely, though; you can end up like her,” Donna waved the pistol towards Katy, who lay dead on the floor, “or you can walk away.” She shifted the weapon back to her right hand. “Go ahead then, Ed. Lie to me.”

Donna wiped her nose on her sleeve.

“What do you want from me, Donna?”

a difficult choice
Is there a right or a wrong?
breathe– take your best shot

This week’s prompts were:

  1. a jealous heart
  2. how’s it gonna end
  3. love this city

OLWG# 233- Sara, With no ‘h’

Written for OLWG# 233

Sara grew up just outside of Port Centerburg. Raised by her father, she didn’t remember her mother but knew that Mom had also been named Sarah, only she had spelt her name with the ‘h.’ She had some cherished photographs, and Dad had told her stories, but she had no recollection of her mother at all.

Sara was twenty-three years old when Dad passed. At least she had memories of him. Her father had ensured a good life for them both. He had left Sara the house where she had grown up. It was the night before Dads memorial when she found the shoebox under his bed. Inside were letters and cards. It was mostly, correspondence from her mother to her father, written before they were married and while he was overseas.

There were letters from him to her too. The letters revealed that all was not perfect in the union between Sarah and her spouse, but for the most part, it was good. There was the occasional unkind dig, but the bulk of what she found revealed mutual love, respect, and caring. At the bottom of the stack, she found a faded Polaroid with a note written in a feminine hand on the back. It read, “Waiting, for you to come home!” It was dated almost exactly 24 years earlier, to the day. The woman in the photo was her mother. In it, she wore nothing but an unbuttoned, blue plaid flannel shirt. Sara recognized the shirt as one of his that still hung in the closet.

Sara’s heart began to race, and her face got hot as she intruded into the private lives of her parents so long ago.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. gently used love letters
  2. be still my heart
  3. bottom of the deck

Somewhere In the South China Sea

-for the November 11: Flash Fiction Challenge

Weekly ops,
somewhere in the South China Sea.
Out on Sunday,
in Saturday around 1000.

Somebody fucked up. I’m not one
to point fingers, but
my normal watch rotation was
six hours on / twelve hours off.
It morphed into seven days on…

It was Thursday night, maybe 2200 GMT
Our depth – four hundred feet
the Captain slid the pocket door open
found me leaning in the inboard forward corner.

“How long you been on watch Dad?”
“Five days,” I answered.
“Carry on,” he said, then backed out
back into the passageway
sliding the door shut.

In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase “carry on.” It can be an expression of perseverance or behaving in a particular way. It can even be luggage you take when traveling. Go where the prompt leads!

OLWG# 232- Gotta be a Word for That

Written for OLWG# 232

Debbie come from Clayton, a small town outside Natchez. I come from Council Flats Iowa, the “Gateway to Nebraska.” We’d been married for ‘bout three year and was livin’ in Nashville. One weekend we was sittin’ out under the big tree in the backyard, playin’ pinch and giggle games, drinkin’ whiskey and generally havin’ a good time. All of a sudden Debbie went still and got a faraway look in her eyes.

“Carson,” she says, “Carson, do you love me?”

“Course I do, Baby. What kinda question is that?”

“No, I mean it.” she says, “Do you love me a lot?”

“You’re scarin’ me, Deb. What are you talking about?”

“Shit,” she starts, “a couple a weeks ago, while you was at work…me and Rita went down to Music City Casino. We was just gonna fool around a little bit, ya know. We were just going to play some slots, maybe a little blackjack, but I screwed up, honey. I screwed up, big time.” She stopped talkin’ and looked at me. We stared into one another’s eyes for a long time. Finally, I prodded her to go on, “What’d you do?”

“I, uh, I lost twenty-five thousand dollars.”

I sat up and pushed her off of my lap.

“How’d you do that?”

“Gamblin’ – the details don’t matter,” she bit on her lower lip. Her eyes were pleading, I know how to fix it, Carson, but I need your help.”

“Let’s go inside,” I stood up and offered my hand. When we were both standing, I sorta pulled her to the back door. She cowered at the kitchen table and I poured myself a tall drink. I took a long pull and sat across from her, “How do you think you can fix this Deb?”

She lit a Salem and helped herself to a slug offa my drink.

“On Abbot Martin Road, in Green Hills, there’s this bank I been watchin’. It’s the Fifth Third Bank and I know if we can hit it on a Tuesday afternoon before four o’clock that I can pay back the Casino the next day.”

“How do you know this Deb?”

“You don’t wanna know that, Carson. I just know, OK.”

“You know- that’s a Federal Offense, don’t you?”

She nodded her head.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. no tears, no more
  2. it might kill you
  3. outside of Natchez

Zozo Writers- Evelyn

Written in 20 minutes, with the Carrizozo Writers

She was not bad looking
Curly red hair
Long legs
Dressed to the nines
Perky breasts, with the tops peeking out above the top of her blouse

She perched on the stool that was usually mine
at the end of the bar
body language warning anyone and everyone to “Stay Away”
Even Rosy, the barmaid, was maintaining a safe distance
That was my stool –

“Excuse me, Miss…”
She glared at me took a long drag from the long cigarette she had just lit
“That’s my seat”
“Fuck off, I don’t see your name on it.”
The ashtray was full, mounded with butts
Her fingers were yellow, she wore a halo of grey smoke

“You don’t know that,” I stood taller, straighter, more assertively
“You don’t even know my name”
“I don’t want to know your name, cowboy”
“But, I want to know yours.”

She squinted her eyes against the smoke
She looked at the glass of brown liquor sitting in front of her
“Evelyn,” she whispered
“Evelyn, Evelyn, My name is EVELYN, Goddamnit”

I glanced around
Rosy was shaking her head
She flipped me off
“You’re no more an Evelyn than I am a cowboy”

I used the prompts- ‘yellow fingered’ and ‘that’s not her real name’

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