OLWG · writing

OLWG# 240- Take Her to Church

I spent longer than I meant to on this, but…

Written for OLWG# 240

Shortly after Kayleigh and I got married, there were a few issues at work and, we had to move in with her parents. It was less than a month before Christmas and, I wasn’t feeling good about the situation, but Kayleigh’s parents, Frank and Ann, were good people and never made me feel as though we were imposing.

On the Sunday morning before the holiday, Frank and I found ourselves watching golf together on television. Frank was big on golf and, it was his TV. I watched whatever Frank was watching.

“Aside from dinner, here at the house, what are you and Kayleigh going to do on Christmas?” Frank asked.

“We haven’t talked about it.” I said, “Do you guys have any family traditions that I should know about?”

“Take her to church.” Frank advised, “That can be quite…memorable.”

“I’ll talk with her about that, Frank,” I said.

Frank smiled and turned his attention back to the golf on TV. That evening I asked Kayleigh if she wanted to go to church on Christmas and, she seemed excited about the idea. I admit that this surprised me, as I had never known her to care about religion, one way or another.

When Christmas came, Kayleigh got dressed up for church and made sure that I looked presentable as well. We loaded into the car and drove only a mile or two to the church that Kayleigh and her family had attended when she was growing up. We got there just as the organist began playing what I assumed might be a “Call to Worship.” We hustled inside. Kayleigh paused in the Narthex and said, “I want to sign the guest book. Give me just a minute.” I nodded and looked through the window into the sanctuary. There were folks seated in the dark wooden pews. I could see the choir sitting on a dais in front of the congregation. There was no one at the pulpit, so I assumed we were on time.

Kayleigh started giggling as she put the pen down.

“What?” I asked.

She pointed at the guest book, so I walked over. I could see where she had written two names down. A closer look showed that the first name read Hugh G. Rection and, the second was Oliver Klozoff. I smiled, shook my head, and took her arm. We headed inside the quiet sanctuary. About halfway down to the front, Kayleigh spotted some seats that looked like they might accommodate us. She paused, pointed at the available seats and in a too-loud voice asked, “Excuse me, are these seats saved? Do you mind if my husband and I sit here?” The gentleman sitting nearby first shook his head, then nodded in assent.

Kayleigh grabbed my hand and shouted, “come on, honey, let’s sit here.” It was quite a production for her to get settled and, when she finally did, she farted loudly. “Hark!” she exclaimed, “An angel has spoken.” Tittering into her hand, she leaned back and settled in the pew, waiting. As if on cue, the choir rose and sang a hymn that I did not recognize as the pastor, and a few other church officials filed in and took their seats up front, on the dais.

Kayleigh chose that moment to rifle through her purse and come up with a pack of cigarettes and a pink plastic lighter. She leaned over to the gentleman she had spoken to earlier about the seat availability before asking, in a stage whisper, “Do you guys have the ashtray?”

He shook his head and looked at her in disgust. Kayleigh adopted an offended expression on her face. “Well, excuse me,” she said and returned the cigarettes to her purse. When the choir began another song, Kayleigh turned to me, “Christ, Bobby,” she said, “do they have to sing again?” I patted her arm to hush her and, she gradually calmed down for the song. When it was over, there was a huddle on the dais. Finally, a solitary man made his way to the pulpit. I assumed him to be the pastor of the church.

He spread his arms and addressed his flock, “Folks, those of you who have been coming here for a while will no doubt recognize that the always entertaining Kayleigh is back. We’re glad you’re here Kayleigh, we’ve missed you.”

Kayleigh kept her seat and waved.

I looked at her, wide-eyed. A smattering of soft laughter and applause echoed in the sanctuary.

When the congregation quieted again, Kayleigh hollered up at the pastor, “I’ve missed you too, preacher. Are you coming over for Christmas dinner today?” She jabbed her elbow into my ribs, “That’s my cousin, Richey,” she whispered.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. you lost more than your hair
  2. take her to church
  3. we’re going to the store

OLWG · writing

Zozo Writers- Suburban

Written in 10 minutes, with the Carrizozo Writers

Jimmy stood in the lot shooting the shit with Brandon and Eileen. Eileen was whining about her husband and how she just knew he was carrying on with lots of other women. Cheatin’ Bastard.

Brandon was talking about the game he had watched yesterday and how Cooper should never have tried to run the ball, a pass was definitely called for and Jones was open in the end zone. A couple pulled their old sedan to the curb and walked onto the lot. Jimmy watched them, he waited, it was his turn and he knew that neither Brandon or Eileen would try and horn in on his sale.

Finally , Jim pulled on the lapels of his sports jacket and headed over to the punters who were dallying over a monkey-shit brown Suburban with low mileage and an inflated price displayed in giant red letters on the windscreen.

“Hiya, folks,” Jimmy hollered when he was still twenty feet away. “You guys looking for a good used car?” The question was redundant because why else would they be in a used car dealership?

“That’s a fine one you’ve got your eyes on, and it’s priced to sell. The boss wants it off the lot, quick. It costs money to keep a car on the lot too long.

“How much are you looking to spend?”

I used the prompt- ‘fast talking’

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 239- She

Written for OLWG# 239

She tried to get help from Mama Tambara, and she tried to get help from Babalawo Esupofo to no avail. She studied the local versions of Candomblé, Curanderismo, Espiritismo, Macumba and Santería. She found no answers.

When she found Caillou Botanica about ten miles upriver towards Baton Rouge, she knew for sure that those city witches were no damn good. Country witches had the answers she had been seeking. At Caillou, she learned the red candle magic she needed to lure Josue back to her bed. She could also source the materials she needed. She bought three slim red tapered candles, a length of red yarn, rose oil, yarrow oil, and lavender oil. She already had clippings from Josue’s hair and fingernails. She had a cigarette butt he had smoked and crushed out. She knew that this would work.

She began by cleaning the parlour and closing the windows. She poured her oils in the tub and bathed in candlelight. When she returned to the parlour, she covered the mirrors with pink towels and placed a spray of honeysuckle blossoms on the table. The Botanica had advised that an apple or a glass of red wine would help. She had an apple, but not the wine, so she recited the incantations as she lit the three candles and burned both ends of the red yarn, which she looped three times around her wrist and tied off as a bracelet.

Naked, she lay on the davenport, closed her eyes and slept. The candles had to remain undisturbed. They should not be allowed to go out prematurely. She dreamed of Josue and hoped that he would come back soon.

This week’s prompts were:

  1. dirt under his nails and smoke in his lungs
  2. city witches
  3. a thousand blackbirds

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 238- A Sudden Gust of Wind

Written for OLWG# 238

It was late, or more accurately, it was early when Elspeth Muir and I approached the churchyard. We were coming up from the river where we had spent half the night drinking cheap wine, smoking skinny cigars, and telling lies about when we were young. Elspeth leaned against the gate to push it open. I stopped.

“What are you doing El?”

“Taking a shortcut,” she replied. Cutting through the churchyard will save us at least fifteen minutes.

“I don’t want to go through there,” I said, my feet frozen in place.

“Come on, TN. You scared?”

“No, I’m not scared. I don’t like graveyards, is all.”

“There are no ghosts here. It’s just a place of bones. The spirits are long gone.”

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“Because I’m not in there, am I? Well, my bones are, but my essence is here with you. How long have we known each other?”

I thought about what she had just said. I couldn’t remember not knowing Elspeth. She was the one constant in my life.

“We’ve known each other forever,” I answered, but my intonation made the statement sound like a question.

“Exactly,” she said. “I’ve always been with you. Why do you think that is?”


“You’re my charge.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Means that I’ve always been with you, and I always will be.”

“Are you asking me to marry you, El?”

“Oh, God-No! I was married once. I’m never going to do that again.”

“What do you mean, ‘you were married once’?” I asked. “I think I’d remember that.”

“No, you wouldn’t that was…” she drew a deep breath between her teeth, making a kind of hissing noise. “Jeeze, that must’ve been a couple hundred years ago. Come on now, I want to show you my grave. It’s just over there.” She pointed to a large oak about a hundred yards away. She took my hand and led me in the direction of the ancient tree.

We stopped in front of a 1200 pound carved marble slab that read:

Elspeth Muir
Beloved wife of John
Born: July 23, 1782 – Died: September 16, 1805
Drown’d in Lake Champlain
by a sudden gust of wind

This week’s prompts were:

  1. a place of bones
  2. the broken, the beaten, and the damned
  3. stronger than gratitude

OLWG · writing

OLWG# 237- Unburdened by a Title

Written for OLWG# 237

The game was five-card draw
Yancy pulled his hand in and stacked the cards neatly
He didn’t fan them yet
He didn’t peek
He could learn a lot by watching the others look at theirs.

Ante’s and openers flew onto the table.

Monique was on his left. her hand on Yancy’s knee
she looked at hers and gave his thigh a little squeeze
Was she playing him, or were her cards just that good
she took two

Louis pulled the napkin from beneath his Vodka Collins
and wiped his brow
His facial expression was unmoving, an Easter Island statue
Louis took one

Phil smiled – a hundred watts, at least
can’t read anything from that
Phil’s always smiling
he took two too

Archie, well, Archie leaned back in his chair
he didn’t pull the cards in
he didn’t touch them at all – he wouldn’t either
Archie waved his hand – none

Yancy fanned his hand and took four

The pot grew more
Phil finally folded
and more,
Louis called

Monique had a full-house
eights over aces – not a bad hand
Louis had four twos – even better
Arch slowly turned his cards over, one at a time
He had a King. He grimaced and transferred his cigar
from one hand to the other, spilling ashes on his lap

“Whatcha got, Yance?” Louis asked
“A bunch of fives. Six of them.”
Yancy said as he laid his cards on the table
Monique squeezed his knee harder
Louis drew in a quick breath
Archie shook with laughter
Phil smiled even bigger

Monique slipped a shiv between Yancy’s ribs,
He collapsed at the table

This week’s prompts were:

  1. selling jewellery out of his car
  2. a bunch of fives
  3. it’s just a game

OLWG · writing

A Long Con?

Written for the fun of it

Santiago and Sebastian Cardoso were brothers. Santiago was presumed to be the elder, although there was some question about that. The brothers were identical twins. Their mother admitted she often confused the two, and Santiago might have been Sebastian or vice versa. Who knew?

Mama told them that there was only eighteen minutes between them and that just wasn’t enough time to quibble over. Her view was it didn’t matter who was who. They were brothers. They were identical, and they would often swap places when it suited them.

The boys grew up rough on the Southwest side of a Texas border town. They drifted towards crime and grift as a way of life. It was probably fourth grade when they partnered up with a classmate. In school, she was called Estrella, which means ‘Star.’ Outside of school, she would choose a different name every day.

She said, “Names have power, like magic spells.” She told the boys that a Disney Princess had taught her that and that it was true. Her favourite aliases included ‘Esme,’ ‘Dia,’ ‘Noemi,’ ‘Mija,’ ‘Dulce,’ and sometimes ‘Soledad.’ She liked Soledad because it sounded old fashioned.

Being cute, Trella was an easy distraction in a convenience store.  She could draw the clerks attention while the Cardoso boys stole candies, sodas, dirty magazines, and beer. The team was successful, and they never got caught. Over time the scams grew more sophisticated and the trio more successful.

Flash forward twenty years. The team was still working together. The stakes were higher. Trella and the boys would travel the world and run the Peking Watch Game, Lost Heir Scams, and all types of Romance Hustles. Foreign Lottery Scams were their bread and butter in the States because no face to face interaction with the marks was required. The whole game could be played by email, or better yet, registered mail.

They were particularly successful running the Barros Luco shakedown (or, as Santiago and Sebastian called it, The Dead Hooker). They worked this in Switzerland, Barbados, Spain, and Italy – plenty of times in Italy. The most successful time was just outside Prato against an easy mark. An hotelier with a jealous wife who had a well-connected father.

It all ended when they were running a Badger Game in Florida. The mark was a wealthy Real Estate Developer named Luke Mccann. The brothers got arrested, tried and convicted. Trella, who had been playing the hooker and was known to Mccann as Itzel, got away.

At  Marianna Camp, Sebastian would often stare at the ceiling of his cell and wonder if he and Santiago were not as clever as they had believed.  Had they been played since the fourth grade?