Bandits · writing

20May 2017 – Writer’s Guild: More Stolen Prompts

Prompts stolen from The Orange County Writers Guild:

  1. The Thermometer of Success
  2. Back in the Days of Yore
  3. The Moon is a Friend for the Lonesome to Talk to

Travis tentatively picked up the phone and dialed Benny’s office for the third time today. This time Benny answered using a lousy falsetto. It was definitely Benny, not his girl. Travis couldn’t remember the girl’s name but he could remember her tits. She had really big tits.

“Pettifog Agency, how may I direct your call?” Benny squeaked over the phone.

“Benny, it’s me; Travis. You gotta help me out man.”

“I’m sorry but Mr. Pettifog is in a meeting. May I take a message?” a poor attempt to continue the ruse.

“Benny, you’re not fooling me man. I know it’s you and I need your help. I need a gig. Quit fooling around.”

“All right, Travis you got me.” Benny admitted returning to his normal voice. “But I can’t get you a gig. You’re persona non grata. I even had to take your picture off the wall in my lobby. No hall in the country is gonna touch you, let alone book you. Five years ago you filled the Filmore, and then when… well you know… you broke your thermometer of success Travis, all the mercury spilled out and poisoned both your life and mine. I still have sharks leaning on me every day.”

“Come on Benny, you owe me. How’s your wife?”

“Don’t go there, Travis. Let me work on it. I might be able to book you into the Flame Room in Bakersfield, but I’ll be calling in a lot of markers. You’ll have to find your own transportation and print your own show-bills.”

“Do it, Benny, and thanks.”

25 minutes writing – 10 minutes editing
“Over the Rhine” on the Box to distract me.
Thanks OCWG. I’m stealing your prompts again! Just like old times.

Bandits · writing

Book Bandit Prompts – Complements of Anita

The Book Bandits gathered today to write. I understand that Riz and Jennifer are providing the prompts and Anita shared today’s set with me along with an exhortation that I should do something with them. They are:

  1. Miracles occur;
  2. I went to the woods
  3. Save one man at a time

I stood with my kids, looking at the tree line. They wanted to go on a hike in the woods. I wanted to take them but tree lines scared me. People hid inside tree lines and shot AK47’s at you and the day was changing. It had gotten oppressive and humid. The heat bore down on my shoulders like it hadn’t done in a long time. Things were changing, time was changing; the quiet day suddenly became noisy. Small arms fire was clattering around me and I ducked low. It was easy to distinguish the sound of an AK47. The AK sounded different than an M16. A lot different.

I pulled Emmy and Therese low into the grass of the LZ. Where was Linda? The kids needed her she had to come and get the kids. They shouldn’t be here. I hoped we wouldn’t be seen. We had our wounded nestled low in a shallow ravine not far from where the girls and I crouched. We were waiting for a medevac. I listened closely but couldn’t hear the sounds of the Hueys. Where were the Hueys?

The AK fire was more concentrated now and someone, about 50 yards to my left popped a red smoke. Maybe they could hear the choppers, I couldn’t. Then I felt them, that hard thump, thump, thump that rattled my teeth first and then moved deeper to shake my bones. It was unmistakable and the sound made me feel safer. I smiled, when I felt the wash of the first one coming in hard and fast. Automatic weapons fire raked the treeline from the open door of an accompanying gunship and the evac bird hovered low, never quite touching down. I took the girls and loaded them in. I went back to help move my injured comrades. We could only save one man at a time.

When the Hueys left, whisking my daughters to safety I crouched low and waited for the signal to enter the woods.

Voodoo was next to me maybe 15 yards to my left. He was calling my name. He shouldn’t be doing that – he was drawing attention to himself, putting himself at risk, but he wouldn’t stop.

“Santa Fe, hey Santa Fe,” he yelled. “Come back man.

“Hey Santa Fe, you’re scaring me. What’s happening?” His voice slowly changed and he started calling me by my real name, “Bobby, Bobby?” He put his arms around me and Voodoo became Linda. “Bobby, are you all right? Come back to me Bobby.”

Suddenly it wasn’t 1969 anymore. The AK47’s were replaced by the sounds of birds and the day was cooler and dry.

“Linda,” I said, “did you get the girls? Are the girls OK? Are they safe?”

“The girls are fine,” she said, “you scared them a little bit but they’re OK. Thanks for saving them. Are you OK?”

I took her hand and we started walking back to the picnic table, “Yeah, I’m fine. You know, I love you.”

“I love you too Bobby. I love you too.”

Thanks Anita!

Bandits · Random Scribbles · writing

7.May.16 Prompts


  • Just a very thin gold leaf
  • A bird came down the walk
  • At the back of the shelf

Daniel fled from the store in tears.
He was mad.
He was angry.
He was ashamed.
The nerve of that checker.
The nerve of that manager.
The nerve of his friends and neighbors,
in line behind him.

Everyone knew, everyone knew.

How many years had he shopped here?
His card is declined once.
They wouldn’t let him have his groceries.
They kept his card.
They took his dignity too.
No one stepped up from in line behind him,
he could feel them laughing; back there in line behind him.

He bolted from the market in tears.

Back home, he tore through his front door, seeing nothing but red.
He ran down the hall to the bedroom.
He searched under the bed. Where was it?
He scoured his dresser drawers.
He found the shoe box in his closet,
at the back of the shelf.
Inside, his father’s old pistol,
and six bullets in a sandwich bag.

Tears were still falling
when he pushed open his door
and started walking back to the store.

Thanks, Jim for keeping me in the loop hope you don’t mind if I play from afar!

Bandits · writing

17 December 2015 – Book Bandits

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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:

  1. Lonesome Johnny
  2. He was damn sure good looking enough
  3. 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.

Begin Writing
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:

Emeline Evans
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.