OLWG# 292- Gaijin Haibun

Written for OLWG# 292


Jia Li Walked from the Hostess Podium at the front of Aiea Chop Suey to speak with Mr Zau. “Sir, do you remember those sailors who filled the entire restaurant last week?” “The submariners? Of course I remember them. Are they back?” “One of them is back, sir; the big one, the tall one, with the stooped shoulders.” “Ah, yes, he was a tidy eater.” “That’s him. This time he has brought a young woman with him, ang moh. He says that she has never eaten Chinese cuisine. Where would you like me to seat them?”

“Does she know how to use chopsticks, can she manipulate the kuàizi?”


The prompts were: 
    1. drenched with blood and whisky
    2. bolt of lightning
    3. does she know how to use chopsticks
Authors Note: What little Chinese I know, I learned when I lived in Singapore. Although ang moh can be viewed as derogatory in some Asian cultures, It is not viewed that way in SQ. I mean no offense. Thank you for your understanding.

OLWG# 291- The Marriage

Written for OLWG# 291


Her name was Acantha Espinado and I first met her at “Alegría de Vivir.” That’s the lunch counter downtown, on Piedras Blvd., across from the bank. “Alegría de Vivir” translates from the Spanish to “Joy of Living” in English, “Joie de Vivre, in French, “Lebensfreude” in German. It was a good name for a lunch counter, a bakery, or a restaurant. Acantha worked there behind the counter. She would take orders, deliver food, refill coffee cups, and work the register. She seemed to be a hard worker, she smiled easily, and her dark eyes sparkled.

 We married when she was twenty-one years old. I was eighteen. She was a vision of loveliness; I thought I had died and gone to heaven. At night, in our room, she would trail her long, turbulently coiled, dark hair down my torso – ecstasy.

How was I to know?

A whirlwind courtship followed by unplanned, spur-of-the-moment nuptials left me no time to contemplate the gravity of our actions. I never even considered the implications of her name. I had not yet noticed that her favourite burgundy nail polish was little more than a way to conceal her claws. Or that her quick and easy smile was just a distraction, a way to obfuscate her fangs. Or that her thick, tightly corkscrewed hair, was styled to hide her horns. Eventually though, I noticed.

The marriage didn’t last long. I ran away, and now I live here, off the grid. I am in constant fear that Acantha will find me again. I have nowhere to run to next.


The prompts were: 

    1. espinado
    2. a burgundy polish hides her claws
    3. the lunch counter, downtown

ZoZo 15.December.22- A Couple of Prompts means A Couple of Go’s

Written in 16 minutes, with the Carrizozo Writers- Raw, unedited, exactly as it flowed through my fingers to the keyboard

First Go

You’ve changed, she said

I should hope so

The old you would never have said that. Why did you say that now?

I thought about her question for a while, because, I’m not that old me, anymore, I replied This is another me. I didn’t like that other guy anymore. I grew weary of having him around. No one liked him. He was a Dick.

Well, you weren’t that bad, although you did tend to revel in your authority, or at least the authority you believed you had.

Yeah, you hit the nail on the head there. I learned about authority when I decided to change.

I learned about authority when I began to remake myself.
I figured out that the only one I could even pretend to have authority over was myself, and I had no business trying to tell anyone else what to do or when to do it, or how it should be done.

You’re still kind of a Dick though, she advised.

I know, but I’m working on it.

Second Go

Detective Constable Sue Holmes pushed open the door of the ancient brick garage beneath the bridge and shone her torch into the gloom. The stench was overpowering and she backed out. She pulled a scarf from her jacket pocket and tied it around the lower part of her face. She went back in and looked around.

Later, on the hand held, she called it into the precinct.

“I’ve got a possible 187,” she reported to dispatch, “although, it looks more like a sacrifice than a simple murder. You should send backup and a coroner. I haven’t found his head yet. I’m still looking.”


time’s up – step away

The prompts

  1. looks more like a sacrifice
  2. another me
  3. the apple revels in its authority

Missing State Writers- December 2022

Written in twenty minutes time, with some friends in Capitan

Old John was stocking the shelves with the good stuff when the bell rang, and Robert walked stiffly into the shop.

They grinned at one another and said nothing for a while. Finally, John broke the silence, “Good to see you, brother. Great to see you. Wasn’t sure if I ever would, again.”

“Hey,” Robert said, “I’m an innocent man. They let me out. A reparations cheque is on the way, and I’m looking for work.”

“I can’t offer you a job. You’ll need to talk with Catherine about that. She’s the boss.”

“And I will speak with her, but I was hoping you could put in a good word for me.”

The two old friends shook hands, and John reached up for a bottle of 25-year-old whisky from the top shelf. “Let’s turn the sign around, close the store for a while, and have a drink together, just like old times.”

He picked up his walking stick and moved slowly to the front door to lock it. He handed Robert the bottle, “Crack this open. I’ll be right back. How long’s it been?”

“Twelve years, four months, and fifteen days. Give or take….”

  1. top shelf booze
  2. back on board
  3. wasted and wounded
  4. an innocent man

After the Funeral in Strongiron

My name is Hillary Pruit, and I recently returned to Strongiron when my Grandma Pruit passed away. As it turns out – I was the only family member who showed up for the funeral. Where were my brothers? There were only three other people there.

Her nearest neighbour, Edna Webster, was there. She lives two miles further down the road out from town.

Her gentleman friend, a farmer; named Casper Hutton.

And her other gentleman friend, a saloon keeper called Willie Shufflebottom.

I know, huh? She had two gentlemen friends, and she was only one Grandma. Who knew?

During my visit to Strongiron, I got my hands on Grandma’s recipe book, so I kept it. I had never really known her well, as she and Dad didn’t really get along. So, I got the wild idea that I could get to know her better by cooking.  I determined that I would cook my way through her recipe book.

I began with Grandma’s Sour Cream Raisin Pie because it sounded bizarre and piqued my curiosity. I combined raisins, sugar, cornflour, salt, ground cloves, cinnamon, sour cream, milk, and egg yolks. The pie is pretty and topped with meringue. The aroma when it is baking: is pure heaven, and best of all, it’s loaded with calories and carbohydrates, the way a good pie is supposed to be.

I followed up that pie with her Sweet Potato biscuits and then her Pecan Rum Bars, which tasted like a gooey fruit cake! Next, I plan to make her Vinegar Pie. Mr Hutton recommends it highly, and I think that; I’m excited to eat it.

I’ll let you know…


ZoZo 08.December.22 Chapman

Written in 20 minutes, with the Carrizozo Writers- Raw, unedited, exactly as it flowed through my fingers to the keyboard

The wedding party reached Bachfok just before sunset on a parade of Elephants. The bride and her family filled the front of the procession. The groom and his supporters were in the rear. It was a strict separation except for a few guests who intermingled in the centre. The maid of honour and the best man scandalously rode together on the same beast about halfway down the procession.

The bride, known as Min-ha, was from a wealthy family of landowners outside the capital. Their holdings included the vast farmlands and orchards near Kebel. The groom was an American, Daniel Chapman, who rumour had it was a deserter from the military in 1967, finding his way out of Vietnam and eventually settling here. Of course, that had been long ago. He had assimilated and spoke the language fluently by now. He was closer in age to his father-in-law than to his bride, a fact he was most proud of, but which his new family viewed with significant disdain. His saving grace, and the reason his father-in-law had agreed to the union, was that Daniel was quite wealthy. He had assimilated well into the culture of his new country and now controlled over 50% of the country’s opium production, which was vast. The combined families represented over 20% of the entire food and drug production of their little corner of SE Asia, and all was good… for a while.

It was about ten years later when Min-ha’s father passed. His body had become emaciated by his addictions and his zest for life. He was so slight and weakened that no one noticed he was dying. No one heard his dying words, no one, except Chapman, who now stood to inherit the entire fortune: all that his wife’s family had owned for generations and everything that he, himself, had accumulated since escaping Vietnam.


time’s up – step away

The prompts

  1. nobody heard his dying words
  2. this is all my fault
  3. arriving by elephant

OLWG# 289- A Fish Shack on the River

Written for OLWG# 289


TN first met Graciana Cortez when he stopped for lunch at a shack on the river that served nothing but freshly caught catfish and the kind of fried cornbread that locals called hush-puppies. For five dollars, you could eat your fill of fish and cornbread. Then choose from a bottomless jug of sweet tea or a bottle of warm beer to quench your thirst.

He sat at a long folding table with about ten other diners. The floor was soft with coarse sawdust, and a mangy yellow dog sat against the wall by the door. Tables sat covered with butcher paper, stapled at the corners to ensure they did not curl. And the server would carry in a large, well-used, and dented stockpot heaped with fried fish; pour it out on the table with the newsprint soaking up the grease. Eating was a free-for-all as everyone reached for the fish as soon as it hit the tabletop. A second server would follow with a similar presentation of the hush-puppies. You were encouraged to eat as much as you wanted but were not permitted to take any away.

He was in Big Thicket country, and the twisted road lay flanked by thick foliage and intertwined vines. The heavy tree canopy perpetuated a glow of gloom and iridescence despite being early afternoon. Graciana dragged a heavy, wheeled, red suitcase. She approached him in the car park after he had eaten his fill in the nameless shack that might vanish tomorrow. It might be burned to the ground when the butane-fueled fire, which super-heated the cooking oil, spread to the paper, or the sawdust, used for decor.

“Hey, Mister,” she began, “My name is Graciana, and I need a ride west. Are you going that way? Could you maybe help me out?”   She was a no-nonsense girl that was clear. She had laid out her case and made her request. Now she waited, watching him with doe eyes that sparkled hopefully. TN could feel himself falling into those eyes where he knew he would be lost forever. He didn’t care, though. He had already decided to take her wherever she wanted to go. He stayed cool and asked, “How far are you going?”

“As far as, well, as far as you are willing to take me,” she said. “I’m going to Cortez. My mother told me that my father was named Cortez and that he was from a place with the same name. I intend to go to all places named Cortez. I want to see if I can find him. I’ve done the research: there are five cities with that name in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida, Colorado, and California.” Again she paused and studied TN with her deep eyes – those big beautiful eyes.

TN shrugged his shoulders and resigned. “From here, we should probably go to Colorado first. If we need to, we can go on to Nevada and California. Then, if we still haven’t found him, we could swing east to Pennsylvania and drop down to Florida. What are you going to do if you find him?”

“I’m not sure. Probably introduce myself, and ask if he knew my Mama. If he says yes, I could either hug him or kill him. I don’t know yet.”

TN looked at the diver’s watch he wore on his left wrist. It sounds like we’re going to be busy,” he said. “Probably should get moving.” He reached for her suitcase. She readily released her grip, and they moved across the dirt lot to his old van.


The prompts were: 

    1. gave all my money to the rich
    2. thick foliage and intertwined vines
    3. all the way to Cortez

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