Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

Claire


 

The days of the week lined up like buckets, ready to catch whatever fell in, an endless procession of monotony. Never changing, ever the same. This world and the people in it were dark and incomprehensible to me. I tried to clear my way with logic but, found myself moving through life with no goal – no purpose. Like an automaton, letting the days fill with whatever happened to happen.

That all changed the morning I first saw her. I watched as she carried her coffee to the table by the window, moving softly in the sunlight. I watched the rays illuminate her eyes and her golden hair. Without speaking a word or even glancing in my direction she let me know that I had gotten it all wrong. She silently taught me that I had to take control of my days and in so doing, take control of my life. Intuitively, I understood that I would occasionally need to turn those buckets over and stand atop them in order to attain a broad enough perspective to chart a proper course. In order to master my own destiny I must control what fills my days. I saw clearly that I need not simply accept whatever fell my way.

Emboldened, I seized the opportunity and strode to where she sat alone, reading and cradling her mug. “Good morning,” I said, “I saw you here and wanted to introduce myself.” I extended my hand.

She looked up at me and I was mesmerized by the changing shades of sunlight curling through her hair. We shook hands. “I’m Claire,” she said and laughed. “Please, have a seat.” Her smile was warm; warmer than the summer sunshine streaming through the window beside her.

 


3rd Place in the Speakeasy this week!
I’m smilin’

Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

High Pressure – Sodium Lights


 

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the stars. It may very well have been before she moved to the city, when she had still lived out amongst the cornfields. She had left home and run here as fast, and as soon as possible; casting aside her family and friends in search of excitement, fame, fortune. Maybe even love, she was no longer sure of that. Now she looked back on that life with nostalgia. There were no stars in the city. There was only the omnipresent yellow glow of the sodium street lights. The lights that overpowered the ephemeral glow from the stars. Most nights the moon was barely visible.

“Hey, HEY, Goddamn it Florence, are you listening to me?” She snapped out of her reverie.

“Sorry Jimmy, yeah, I’m listening. I guess I haven’t had enough coffee this morning.” Florence said and she pulled her robe tighter against the morning chill.

“I asked you, ‘Where the FUCK are my car keys?’ I got a meeting with that money guy, the one that Ruben knows, this morning. I don’t wanna be late.” He ran the palm of his right hand over his pate as if he were smoothing down nonexistent hair on his bald head. “Do I look OK, baby? This could be big. This could be the break we been waitin’ for!”

“Uhm, yeah Jimmy, your keys are right behind you, on the counter.”

Jimmy turned and scooped up his keys. Squeezing her ass as he walked by, he said, “Make sure you’re not late to work again. Don’t piss Mr. Chesterfield off. We need your job, Doll.”

“Yeah Jimmy, I’m good.” She said to his back as the door slammed behind him.

Florence took her mug to the chipped Formica table and sat down. The dream was dead. She knew it was dead but it was difficult to admit. She stood and threw her coffee cup at the sink where it shattered; then she turned and went back to the bedroom to get dressed and plan her latest escape.

She called Chesterfield and told him she was sick. She would not be in to work today as she was going to the emergency care center and would no doubt have to wait for hours. “Bring a note from the doctor when you come in tomorrow.” He admonished.

“I will sir.”

She dressed and went to the salon. A hundred and twenty bucks to perm her red hair but she had to do it. At home again she put on fresh underclothes and changed into her good black dress, the one Jimmy made her wear when he wanted to show her off to his boys. Then she took the number 13 bus downtown. It was late in the afternoon, but still light when she disembarked and looked around. The tallest building downtown was just a couple of blocks over and she headed towards it.

The doors were glass and polished brass. The lobby was marble. There was a desk to her left by the banks of elevators. A pimple faced kid wearing a badge that said ‘Concierge – Toby’ pushed his blond hair off his forehead, “Yes ma’am, there’s an observation deck on the roof. Just take the number 8 elevator to the top floor and you’ll find stairs to the roof.”

“Thank you, Toby.” She flashed her award winning smile causing Toby to smile and blush.

She walked to the lift and, in turn, made her way to the roof. Pay per view binoculars lined the railings. The railings were capped with heavy steel grating placed to prevent accidents. She went to the east rail and put a quarter in the binocular but was unable to find the building where she and Jimmy had lived for these last few months before the quarter ran out and her view went dark. There were only a few tourists with her up there and they were all looking west at the sunset. Removing her shoes Florence climbed the railing and looked at the sky. The yellow glow of the city reflected back and she shook her head. There was no light, no light from the stars.

She perched on top of the safety grating, sitting and looking at the sky. Time to go, she thought and dropped her shoes. She paused, took a breath and quietly slipped after them.


178

Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · Uncategorized · writing

Put Your Heart Into Your Work


 

Everything hurt.

It shouldn’t, I shouldn’t let it get to me, but it always did. Another rejection letter. Christ, I could wallpaper the parlor with them, I had so many. I used to enjoy writing until I started trying to get published. It was not always the same, but the pattern was consistent.

I would send a manuscript.
It would come back with a note: “Great character development but too long,” they would say.

I would tighten it up and send it back.
It would boomerang home again with another note: “Too short, but love the cast.

Rewrite, edit, find a happy medium.
We just don’t like it. The protagonist is wonderful, so real, but the hook doesn’t work… not enough conflict… the resolution leaves us unfulfilled.” Always, words to that effect.

I had to figure out a way to make it work. I had to change things up, take charge of my own destiny. So I sat down to analyze the situation. What was I doing wrong? What was I doing right? What could I do better? I scratched out a list and realized that I had a knack for characters but apparently had trouble drawing in the reader; injecting believable conflict; and worst of all, a penchant for wishy-washy endings

It made sense. My methodology had always been to create the characters and let them tell the story. In retrospect, it was clear to me that when I surrendered control of the story to my cast, things went downhill.

I could fix this.

Rolling a sheet of erasable bond into my old IBM Selectric, I drafted a quick character sketch. His name was Dr. Raymond Concord, a literature professor at a distinguished Ivy League school. He had studied writing and grew up listening to his grandfather tell him stories of “Wild West” shoot outs, of hold ups, and bank robberies; stories of war and destruction. He knew how to craft and tell a story. He knew how to write one as well.

Beyond that, he also knew how to kill. He knew how to kill slowly, painfully, he enjoyed it. He had killed his parents when he was eight years old. Smiling, he had watched them thrash and bleed out after running the blade of his father’s razor across their throats, one at a time. He knew he had been lucky that first time. He had been reckless and impulsive but no one had suspected him. He was just a child, after all. He was forty-three now, and he was an accomplished master.

I suggested a story line to Dr. Concord and let him run with it. In a matter of only a few weeks he crafted the exact story I had hoped for. He had really put his heart into it and it took on a life of its own. In the story Raymond is a professor who needs to be published, for tenure. He continually receives rejection letters, not unlike the ones I had been receiving. In fact, I had shown him a selection of my rejections for inspiration. Unlike me though, Raymond is incapable of creating characters that come to life. He is incapable of sketching a protagonist so real that they can literally leap off the page. In his story, Raymond has to deliver his manuscript in person. He handed it to the editor himself, ensuring that he knew who was readying the rejection letter. That night he would pay them a visit and wielding his considerable powers of persuasion he would painfully convince them to write an acceptance letter and a contract before mercifully killing them and posting the letter to himself.

I had to make few revisions before the manuscript was ready to send for consideration, but the changes were minor. A week after I handed it to the FedEx driver, I knew.  I saw the story on the morning news. Late the night before, an editor at a major publishing house had been brutally murdered in his office. His throat slashed deeply, from ear to ear. I knew the panic he had felt as he watched his blood soak into the desk blotter, his life slowly ebbing away. I knew also that he had been cruelly tortured before he was killed. The anchorman said that there were no suspects.

Three days after the editor’s death made headlines, I received an acceptance letter from my publisher along with a contract. A contract with very favorable terms, I might add.


 

I count 747 for 176

Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

Fiction – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

 


 

“We have to let you go Kenneth. Clear out your desk immediately. You can stop by HR and pick up your final check.”

My jaw dropped. I was not expecting this. “But, Mr. Dithers I, we’re, just getting rolling on the Bumstead project. As project manager I am confident that we can bring this one in, on time and under budget.”

“The Bumstead project has been cancelled Kenneth. Please go down to HR now. I don’t want to have to call security.”

“Can you at least tell me why, Mr. Dithers?”

He picked up his phone and spoke, “Gladys, can you ask Security to come up here right away?”

“That won’t be necessary, sir.” I spun and walked out of his office with as much dignity as I could muster. Gladys was ignoring me, feigning intense concentration and staring at her monitor, when I went past her desk on my way to the elevator.

A security representative fell in step and rode down the two floors with me to the cube farm I had called home for the last year and a half. As I threaded the aisles towards my desk the people who I had considered friends averted their gaze, or picked up their phones and pretended to be having conversations. I was, apparently quite the pariah. How had I not seen this coming? How could I have been so blind?

I packed up my desk, and went to HR with my new friend from Security. I got my check, signed some termination papers and left. In the ground floor lobby my escort peeled off and went to jaw, snicker, and point with the others of his kind. The ones we had always called ‘the gatekeepers’. With my meager box of belongings tucked under my arm I reached to push the door open.

“Kenneth?” I turned and saw Lois hurrying my way. She stopped short and said, “Kenneth, I just heard. I’m so sorry, this is so unfair.”

I wanted to put my arms around Lois and cry on her shoulder but instead I pulled her aside and asked, “Do you know why? No one will tell me why?”

Lois nodded. “You should have stayed on your meds Kenneth. There were complaints, and you were scaring some of the girls on the third floor.”

“Thanks for being honest with me Lois.” I said and angrily stormed out of the building.

It was Friday afternoon so I had the entire weekend to stew and I certainly started out that way. Got good and drunk Friday night but on Saturday morning I got busy. I poured out what little bourbon was left in the bottle and started taking my meds again. I shaved and went out to find a salon. A pear shaped girl gave me extensions, and snapped her gum while she dyed my hair and eyebrows blonde. Downtown I found a sale and scored a whole new business casual wardrobe, khaki trousers and long sleeved dress shirts. Beige, white and light pastels are the new me. I spent Sunday teaching myself to talk like an educated surfer.

Monday morning found me checking my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I nodded and spoke to my reflection, “lookin’ good, dude.” I approved the transformation, my mother wouldn’t recognize me. I went back to work prepared to tackle the Bumstead project, and see it through. I just had to make sure that my cover remained intact. There would be no paychecks for a while but I had enough savings to last. This could work.

I snagged a visitors badge from the gatekeepers: traded up for an employee badge that S. Smith had left on his shirt in the locker room and took the lift to Marketing. An empty cube was easy to find there. Marketing had been short-staffed since ’08. I requested copies of my Bumstead work from filing and while waiting for them to come up, carefully cut S. Smith’s photo from the badge and replaced it with one of mine. I re-laminated and was suddenly in possession of a legitimate looking, albeit forged, employee ID. I needed them to see what I saw. They should have let me stay. They should not have made me go. I needed them to realize their mistake. They would beg me to come back. I reached into my pocket, found a pill and swallowed it without water. I couldn’t afford to be erratic. I had to maintain.


 

Summer Grid #172

Too cool – Top row – Thanks guys

Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

Speakeasy #169: Dancing With Andy



It was her birthday. She loved birthdays. Andy always sent her a card on her birthday. She loved to get birthday cards from Andy.

When they were young, she and Andy were best friends. They played together constantly. They could be cowboys, scientists, cops, dancers, soldiers, teachers, pirates, or explorers. Their only limitations were their imaginations. It was wonderful to play with Andy. They understood each other in a way that transcended words, in a way she had never been able to fully explain.

She and Andy discovered new worlds together. They wowed audiences in great concert halls together, they robbed banks, and cured cancer, they looted and pillaged but what they really loved to do was dance. When she and Andy danced they were weightless. They would float over the mountains and soar above the valleys, carried by the whims of all the errant breezes to the ends of the earth. They lingered on clouds, high above the city, to watch sunsets while they listened to the dogs barking, far below.

As they got older though there were pressures, obstacles, that they could not have foreseen. Her parents encouraged her to meet and play with other girls. His mother enrolled him in Judo classes and baseball. Gradually they found that they had less and less contact but, they continued to steal precious hours together whenever they could. In these times they danced. Mainly they danced.

The day came when her father told her that she couldn’t see Andy anymore. “It isn’t right.” He told her, “People will talk,” he said. “You’re a young lady now.” He packed her up and drove her straightaway to Miss Claremore’s School for Girls in Baltimore.

Andy’s mom sent him away to a Military School in Williamsburgh.

She never saw Andy again but, she heard from him. She heard from him every year on her birthday. Without fail, on each birthday, for these last 70 years she got a card. His cards were postmarked from all over the world: California, Korea, Vietnam, England, Italy, Brazil.  He was obviously a traveler. How did he know where to send them? He always knew. He always cared. He was still her best friend. He was her rock. He was Andy.

This morning the young orderly came in to wish her a happy birthday and when she asked about mail he said, “Sorry, Miss – none today.” He presented her with a pink cupcake decorated with a single lit candle which he blew out before handing it over. She set the cupcake aside and worried about Andy. I hope he’s OK. She knew he must be an old man now, even though in her mind’s eye he was still that young boy, that young boy with whom she had been happy, and with whom she had blissfully danced on the wind.

She stayed in her room all day. The orderlies brought her meals but she wasn’t hungry. She was worried. She pushed the food around a bit but didn’t really eat. When they checked on her at ‘lights out’ she was peaceful but, unresponsive in her easy chair. There was nothing the doctor could do. She was dancing again, dancing with Andy. They were going to dance all the way to the moon.  It was good to be a young girl and to see Andy again. She had missed him terribly, all these years. She regretted leaving Andy, It was the only thing she regretted.


 

Hey – If the Speakeasy is open click on the badge at the top of this post and you will be instantly transported into the imaginations of a lot of really talented writers.  Check it out – Have a drink. Read something, write something – do something out of the ordinary!

169

Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

Speakeasy #168: Another Epic Day


 

“When did you know you were lost?” he asked.

“As soon as we didn’t get there when we should have,” I said “What kinda stupid question is that anyway?”  I grinned, “We were makin’ great time though.”

“Yeah we were,” he agreed. “But how did we wind up in France?”

“France? What makes you think we’re in France? We’re in a pickup truck – we can’t get to France in a pickup truck.”

“I dunno, maybe it’s all the people speaking French?”

“That doesn’t mean anything; we could be in Haiti or New Orleans or Montreal. We are lost, remember. And, what makes you think that’s French anyway? Sounds like it could be Spanish to me!”

“Pull over,” he instructed, “let’s ask someone.”

“You don’t speak French or Spanish,” I said.

“Not since high school, anyway,” he grinned. “Come on, come on – pull over by that café.”

So I did. I pulled over to the curb, put the truck into first, set the brake and killed the engine. He got out of the cab and naturally, he leaned against the hood until a good looking girl came by.

Excusez-moi mademoiselle.” He asked her, “Pouvez-vous s’il vous plaît me dire où nous sommes?”

She looked at him like he had just escaped from a mental ward and stepped a little closer to the building, giving him a wide berth, “La Rochelle, bien sûr.” She said hurriedly and picked up her pace to speed past.

He leaned into the window, “I think she likes me.”

“Like hell, she was lookin’ at me. What’d she say?”

“She said we’re in La Rochelle. Where’s that?”

I pulled out my iPhone and went to work. “I think she’s fuckin’ with you. La Rochelle’s in France, but dude… we only left Richmond a couple of hours ago and we haven’t even stopped for gas. No way could we be in France. Ask somebody else.”

He stood up, rapped twice on the doorframe and turned back to the sidewalk. An elderly gentleman wearing a beret and walking rather sprightly, with a cane, was approaching. “Excusez-moi monsieur, pouvez-vous me diriger vers La Rochelle?”

“Vous êtes à La Rochelle. Que faites-vous, un comédien?

He stuck his head back in the cab. “Well?” I asked.

“The old guy says we’re in La Rochelle, dude. How can that be? What are we gonna do?” He was starting to get worried.

I pulled my phone back out and started asking Siri some serious questions. He was standing on the curb looking at stuff.

“Dude,” I called, “come here, I got a plan.”

He came back and opened the door. As he climbed into the truck he said, “The only car here with Virginia plates is your truck, man. Everybody else has funny lookin’ plates. I think these guys were right, we’re either in France or we’re in the Twilight Zone. Have you seen that Serling guy? You know who I’m talkin’ about right? I think I’m startin’ to hyperventilate.” He leaned his head down between his knees; put both hands over his mouth and started breathing deeply.

“Take it easy man,” I said, “I tell ya, I got a plan. My phone tells me that La Rochelle is on the coast, right? That means there’s a beach right?”

He thought about that and nodded.

“Let’s go get some fries and head to the beach. If we’re in France well, the beaches are topless in France. That means there’ll be tits at the beach.”

He looked at me with that thousand yard stare, no longer hyperventilating. “Yeah,” he said slowly like he was talking in his sleep. Then, picking up speed, he continued, “tits at the beach and, and fried potatoes. This has the makin’s of a great day.” A smile spread slowly across his face. “An epic day.”

I started the truck and pulled back around into the sparse traffic, heading west.

“Can we buy beer?” he asked.

“We’ll probably have to settle for wine,” I answered, “this is France, after all.”


If The SpeakEasy is open you can check out what this is all about by clicking on the badge. My apologies for the poor French.

Please read in the spirit of fun – that is the spirit in which it was written.

Speakeasy · writing

A Diabolic Plan: Speakeasy #167


Abel Spinkick and his brother Sam were up to no good. They were usually up to no good. But this time they had outdone themselves. Sam had hatched a plan, a diabolic plan to rule the world and have some fun. He had enlisted the help of his brother, Abel, to pull it off. It was Abel who had stolen Mr. Nguyen’s keys and, with some difficulty had even managed to procure the two iguanas that would be vital to their success.  He was also tasked with hiring other extras to make sure Stinky Elwood fell for it – hook, line, and sinker.

Susie and Ivy had played their parts to perfection and Stinky appeared to have been completely taken in. By god, it was going to work. Soon they would be richer than they could ever have dared to hope. But then the chimpanzees decided to take matters into their own hands and it all began to fall apart. The chimps, of course, thought that they had a better plan.

“I told you not to hire those fuckin’ monkeys,” Sam yelled at Abel. “They just can’t take direction. You were supposed to get camels or cows, not fuckin’ monkeys! The monkeys have already released the moths and you can tell Elwood is starting to have doubts. It’s too early for the moths to be out. Camels and cows don’t have thumbs; they would never have been able to open the jar. Monkey’s got thumbs; they didn’t have no trouble getting the lid off the jar.”

“You didn’t give me enough money to hire camels.” Abel screamed back at him, a fine mist of spittle droplets forming, like a cloud in front of his mouth. “I could barely afford the monkeys, but they needed the job bad. They were willing to work cheap. This whole screw up is your fault. You were in charge of financing. You obviously didn’t raise enough money.”

The two brothers continued to yell and scream at each other for the better part of an hour, each of them blaming the other for the failure of their master plan. Slowly the office door opened inward and Murray, the monkey’s agent, stuck his head around. “Boys, boys, cool down. Sorry things didn’t work out according to plan but I need to get a cheque from youse guys now.”

“A cheque,” Sam yelled. “Fat chance, Murray. Your clients screwed the pooch when they let the moths out too early. We couldn’t fool Elwood, we aren’t having much fun, and we probably aren’t going to be able to rule the world either, and it’s all their fault for changing the plan. I’m not giving those fuckin’ monkeys a dime!”

Murray pushed the door open wide. There must have been a hundred chimps standing in the hall behind him. “Screw you monkeys,” Sam yelled, the tendons standing out on his neck and his face redder than a baboon butt.

The primates moved like a tide into the office shared by Sam and Abel Spinkick. Slowly, deliberately they fell upon the brothers. That was a long time ago, Abel can sit up and feed himself these days. But Sam was never the same again.

Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

Speakeasy #165: A Round Nosed Shovel


It began easily enough. There were three of us who hatched the plan, me, Ruben and Stan. We sat on my front porch that Friday night to suss out the details. Stan’s dad had one of those long, heavy iron bars to help with the digging but he wouldn’t be able to get his hands on a shovel. That was OK because Ruben and I could both get them. I knew that I could get two for sure, one with a round nose and one square. We chose Stan’s back yard because his house sat a little deeper in the valley and this should cut our total digging time. It must’ve been Stan who suggested the idea first, and Ruben took a little convincing, but eventually we all agreed.

“Do you know how many people have tried this?” Ruben asked skeptically. “What makes you think we can pull this off when nobody has ever done it before?”

Stan brushed his red hair back, out of his eyes and crossed his arms. Leaning back he announced confidently, “Nobody’s ever done it before only ‘cause we haven’t tried yet. We can fuckin’ do this man.” He turned his head and spat over the porch rail like he had to prove how tough he was. Ruben and I had always been in awe of Stan’s mastery of the profane.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Ruben said. He and I both nodded our heads in unison.

We agreed to meet at six in the morning at Stan’s. “Don’t ring the damn doorbell when you get there. Just come through the back gate and we can get started. I’ll be ready for you.” He stood; putting one hand on the railing and vaulted off the porch to the lawn. He picked up his bike. “Gotta go, Mom’s makin’ meatloaf tonight.”

“See ya Stan,” I said as he pedaled away.

“Can we really do this?” Ruben asked.

“You know how I feel, Ruben. I’m feeling good. I really think we can.”

“How long do you think it’ll take?” he asked.

“I’m not fuckin’ sure,” I replied, trying to sound like Stan, failing miserably. “I figure it’ll take all summer but just think – we’ll be famous.” I tried to spit over the porch rail but didn’t make it that far. Ruben pretended not to notice.

“Yeah, you’re right. Fuckin’ famous… see ya in the mornin’.” Ruben said as he stood and walked towards home. Ruben only lived two doors down from me. He hadn’t bothered to bring his bike.

I went into the garage and got the two shovels. I stuck them behind the boxwood hedge with my bike so I wouldn’t have to search in the morning. Then I went inside to see what Dad had made for dinner.

It was 5:30 when I got out of bed the next day. I pulled on a pair of cut off jeans and a T-shirt. Ruben was standing on the sidewalk with his little sister, Angie, when I came out the front door. “What the hell did you bring her for?” I asked him.

“Mom says that I gotta take care of her all day dude. Sorry.” He shrugged his shoulders. I looked at her. She had sticky red candy running down her chin and she smiled. Her teeth were red too.

We went down to Stan’s and set Angie up in the yard with the puppy and some cookies for entertainment. We got to work.

“You think it’ll take all summer?” Ruben asked Stan as he stood in the bottom of the two foot deep hole. “That’s what Jim guessed last night.”

“I think Jim’s a goddamn pessimist,” Stan said. “I reckon if we knuckle down we could bring Chinese fireworks back for the fourth of July.”

We worked the hole that entire Saturday and by sunset it was about 4 feet deep and we had hit rock. The next day Ruben’s mom made him stay at home with Angie. Stan and I went to the school yard and got in on a pickup ball game. We got back to that hole the next weekend when Stan’s dad found it and made us fill it in. We never did get to China that summer. We gave it everything we had but it wasn’t enough.


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Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

Speakeasy #164: The Maltese Cockatiel


 

…There is no warning rattle at the door. It swings silently inward. Someone passes through and quietly shuts the door behind them. Sam lights a match illuminating his own face and startling the intruder. It’s Carlotta. Sam turns on the desk lamp.

 ACT II

INT, SAMS OFFICE, NIGHT

Establishing shot shows a bird’s eye view of a cluttered desk in a cluttered office it is clear that they are in a building of many similar offices, the door is closed but a faint glow comes from the lighted hallway through the frosted panel, the transom is open. INVESTIGATIONS can be read backwards through the window glass. Sam sits at his desk, with half a bottle of whiskey, a smudged glass, and a full ashtray. Carlotta is across the office near the door. She is holding a handgun at her side.

 SAM:

So it’s you, Doll. I thought it might be. What are you doing here?
(monotone, terse, tough-guy delivery spoken while lighting a cigarette)

 CARLOTTA:

Sam, you startled me. I didn’t think you’d be… well, I thought…

I confess, I’m here looking for the Maltese Cockatiel.
(clearly flustered)

CLOSE UP CARLOTTA:

 CARLOTTA:

I know you got it off the ship, Sam, and I need it. The money that bird represents can solve a lot of problems. I haven’t lived a good life. I’ve been bad, worse than you could ever believe.
(pointing the pistol at Sam, threatening)

SAM FROM CARLOTTA’S PERSPECTIVE

 SAM:

You know, it’s good that you’ve been bad, because if you actually were as good as you pretend to be, there’d be no future for us. I don’t meet a lot of nice dames in my line of work and I’d like to get to know you better but, I don’t have the bird. Sorry, Doll.
(shaking out his match and blowing smoke into the air, nonchalant)

CARLOTTA FROM SAM’S PERSPECTIVE

 CARLOTTA:

This isn’t about us Sam. We’ll never get anywhere. We can never be ‘us’ – all because of that cursed, jewel encrusted Cockatiel . That million dollar bird.
(remorseful, hurt, pistol drops back to her side)

Camera pulls back to bird’s eye view looking down from behind Sam’s desk. The door is visible behind Carlotta at the top of the screen. Sam pours a shot of whiskey into the dirty glass and drinks it down. He opens the desk drawer and removes his pistol, keeping it low. The door bursts open and a large, overweight man steps in with a gun. Carlotta quickly hides her pistol behind her back.

 FAT MAN:

I want the Cockatiel.
(menacingly, moving the gun back and forth between Sam and Carlotta)

Carlotta brings her gun around quickly and fires once at the fat man, he falls back, into the hallway, dead. Sam sets his gun on the desk and gets up to comfort Carlotta who’s broken down with the death of the fat man. Sam kisses her deeply. She kisses him back.

 SAM:

Now that the fat man’s dead we’ll never find the Cockatiel . He was our best lead. Whatever he knew he’s taken to the grave.
(matter of fact)

Carlotta breaks away from Sam’s embrace, rushes out of the office down the hall. Sam shuts the door, returns to his desk and pours another two fingers of whiskey into the glass. Reaching down and opening the bottom drawer he removes a cloth covered bundle, about the size of a football, unwraps it and sets the Maltese Cockatiel on the desk, next to his broken heart.

 SAM:

So long doll. We coulda made beautiful music together.
(tough guy again, lighting another smoke, shaking the match out slowly while staring wistfully at the door)

 

FADE TO BLACK – QUE DRAMATIC/SPOOKY MUSIC – ROLL CREDITS

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Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

Speakeasy #163: The Ballad of Danger Dan and Sweet Nell

Sweet Nell was lashed to the train tracks. Struggling against her bonds only seemed to pull them tighter. The train to Tombstone was approaching fast. She could feel the vibration running through the steel tracks and hear the rhythmic beat of the locomotive bearing down. But, the sound of the train would never be loud enough to drown out the evil laugh of ‘Black Heart Bill’ as it echoed down the canyon. Bill pulled his black Stetson low over his eyes and laughed as he watched Nell’s certain demise. He already had the device. That was what he had come for. Killing the girl was just icing on the cake – an afternoon’s entertainment.

It looked like curtains for Nell.

As luck would have it, ‘Danger Dan’ was riding nearby and heard Nell’s cry for help from the rim of the canyon as he happened past. A quick assessment told him all he needed to know and he fearlessly turned his faithful steed, Scout, towards the place where Nell lay bound with coarse rope, helpless, on the tracks.

“I’ll deal with you later, Bill,” he yelled to the villain as he galloped past; his focus on saving the damsel.
Cutting her bonds just in the nick of time and pulling her to safety as the Tombstone train barreled past, just inches away.

He held her softly in his arms and they looked deep into each other’s eyes; her blonde tresses were perfect, not a hair out of place, her breast was heaving. She was a vision. Dan paused and gulped. Without warning Nell pulled back quickly. “Crap, is that a spider?” she yelled as she crawled backwards and away.

“Oh my God,” Dan screamed and stood quickly, brushing his tunic, “get it off, get it off!” Nell got to her feet and rushed to him. It was difficult to get close as he flailed in panic, arms waving all about.

“It’s OK, it’s OK. It’s just a leaf. It’s not a spider.” She said gently, over and over, until Danger Dan calmed down and his arms rested at his sides once again.

“I knew that.” He said, and shuddered one last time.

The Tombstone train pressed onward and on the other side of the tracks Black Heart Bill whispered, “curses, foiled again,” in a voice so soft only his horse could hear.  He twirled his mustache, slipped the device into his saddlebag and made good his escape. He was long gone by the time the train finished rumbling past. His lead was too great; it was useless to pursue him. Dan held tightly to Scout’s rein. Throwing his head back he yelled, “I’ll get you yet, Black Heart Bill.” The canyon walls eerily echoed his promise back to him as the sound of the train receded in the distance.

He sensed Nell next to him and turned. Her blue eyes were plaintive, looking up at him. One lock of his dust colored hair had fallen over his forehead; she reached up and brushed it back behind his ear, “Um, thanks for saving me from the train and all.” She closed her eyes and pursed her lips in anticipation of true love’s kiss.

“Oh, sure thing.” He said, “You know I’m not really scared of spiders. Don’t you?”

She opened her eyes and looked questioningly at Dan, “Of course… I mean like, your name’s Danger Dan. You can’t be scared of spiders if your first name is ‘Danger’.”

“Middle, actually.”

“What?”

“Danger is my middle name. My first name is Francis but nobody ever calls me that. You can call me Danger, or Dan if you prefer. Please don’t call me Francis. I’m not sure why I even told you that. You must promise not to tell anyone else.” He reached into his tunic pocket and pulled out a sugar cube for Scout. “Well, I guess I better get going.”

“Oh… yeah, me too,” said Nell.

Dan swung up on his saddle and turned Scout towards the west. Leaning down he kissed his horse on top of the head, waved to Nell and said, “Bye, maybe I’ll see you around.” He clicked his tongue twice and headed into the sunset at a trot.

“Yeah, see you ‘round,” Nell said. She put her back to the sun and started walking towards the ranch. It should only take two or three hours to get home. She never looked back, she just kept walking.


 

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