The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP Redux #12- This Fine Spring Day

A Haibun, of Sorts



Maisie, Gigi, and Coco took the bus downtown. They boarded on the eastside, not far from the Junior High. They got off on Pacific, down by the Catalyst and set up there. Gigi’s dad had told the girls that he had seen John Lee Hooker at the Catalyst. He had seen Little Charlie and the Nightcats there with Maria Muldaur. Coco’s mother told stories of Ry Cooder and Neil Young live at the Catalyst. Coco thought it might be just the place to be discovered. It might be just the place to start on their road to fame and fortune.

Cool chicks busking dark jazz collecting ones, and fives in an upturned hat.




This week’s prompt

The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP New Prompt #2- Interview with a Wannabe Writer



So they sent someone to ask me questions. I was gonna lie to her, but her questions were more interesting than I thought they would be. She wondered why I was taking notes, though.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut

No, Mark Vonnegut, his son.

Let’s just say that I could identify with it.

Have you read it?

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’d like to think I coulda been a pretty good bartender, but I never wanted to work that hard.

If not that, then I’d like to own a hot dog cart.

Near a beach, on a boardwalk, not in a city

Have you ever eaten a hodog with brown mustard and julienned jalapeños?

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I try but I’m seldom successful.

My readers, in most cases, have more life experience than I do.

It means that they see right through my feeble attempts at embedding secrets in my work.

Only once and I’m not going to tell you any more than that.

Do you Google yourself?

Absolutely

Nothing that I didn’t already know

Mostly boring shit. My story isn’t that exciting.

I wanted to know the ending

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I would want to have my parents read to me more.

As a teenager, the question is not so easy.

I guess, I would like to think that writing more at that stage in my life would have made me a better writer, but then I would not have had the opportunity to observe teenagers in the wild; in their natural habitat.

This would have hampered my ability to recognize their reality and know their reactions in any given situation. I might have become even less successful than I am currently and, that would be really bad.

You know, “A legend in my own mind …”

No



This week’s prompt:

Interview someone! Real or imagined. Come up with five questions and three follow-up questions to your interviewee’s answers. The Interviewer can be in first person, or a third person character.

I chose to present the interviewers initial question only, and then present my answer to that as well as her follow up questions below. You can undoubtedly ascertain the follow-ups on your own.


The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP New Prompt #1- Allegory



Prince Preston set his Daughter, Princess Imogen, on the saddle in front of him. “Today’s a big day for you, Immy,” he said, “Today we set out on a quest for the monsters. I need to introduce you to them one by one, just as my father did for me when I was your age.”

“Monster’s, Dad? Should I be frightened?”

“Not at all, Princess for the most part, the monsters are our friends. They protect our kingdom from foreign invaders and ensure that the press reports only the truth.”

The pair set off with a full entourage including; soldiers, cooks, nannies, cartographers, fools, and other consorts. Prince Parson’s plan was to head North first, then work around in an anti-clockwise direction. He would introduce Imogen to each of the monsters who patrolled the perimeters of the kingdom.

These included Persephone to the North, Germsnake in the West, Trancemouth in the South, and The Donald. The Donald who is ‘Keeper of the Eastern Purlieus of the Kingdom of Hoi Polloi.’ During the journey, Prince Presley regaled Imogen with tales and stories of the monsters.

“I expect that first, we will encounter Persophone,” he told her, “She is a dreadful and terrifying green-skinned being, but she has a gentle soul. Most imposing, she is taller than a tree, and when opening her mouth to roar she reveals hundreds of long razor sharp teeth used to slice our enemies to ribbons. It’s been aeons since anyone attempted to invade Hoi Polloi from the north. She likes kittens and could eat six score in a single bite. She’ll like you, I’m certain,” and she did. Persophone and Imogen got along famously and even built a treehouse where they could take tea.

“Next we will find Germsnake, in the west. When I was a lad, I used to sneak away from the castle. I would come to play with Germsnake. He has always been my favourite. As his name implies, he is a serpent. A five headed serpent whose bite is laced with deadly venom and whose scales are coloured a mottled brown and ecru. I would trust him with my life. I would trust him with your life. In the wars of Oh-Four, I watched him single-handedly repel 10,000 invaders from what used to be the Kingdom of Texas that lay along our Western border, but after Oh-Four Texas was annexed by Hoi Polloi.”

Germsnake was smitten by the princess and immediately asked her father, Prince Pomeroy, for her hand in marriage; but the prince said that she was too young. Germsnake vowed to try again in a few years.

“Trancemouth is the third monster who guards the Southern frontier. She is a vixen, a beautiful maiden with coffee coloured skin who used to lure sailors onto the rocks before coming to work for my father, King Kenny the Just. She can hypnotize our enemies with the sound of her voice and tell stories to entrance all listeners. She reasons with invaders and convinces them of the folly of war with Hoi Polloi. She is also fond of fruitcake. In fact, last year she presented your mother and me with a very large rum soaked fruitcake for our Christmas.”

“We never ate that cake, Da.” Princess Imogen pointed out.

“Right you are, girl,” he answered her as he poked the dimple that was centred in her chin. “And, we never will. Fruitcake is vile and disgusting. We will re-gift that this Christmas.”

After a polite and cordial visit, Pumpernickel and Imogen left the company of Trancemouth and headed towards the East to meet The Donald.

As they travelled Pantomine told his daughter about the final monster, “The Donald is the most frightening of all the monsters. He surrounds himself with minions who do his bidding and praise him. He is covered with an orange outer wrapping, that one must suppose is skin, and has hair that even wise men are unable to explain. He cannot be trusted, but he can be bought. He is the one to whom we will re-gift the fruitcake because he likes that kind of stuff. We hope that it will keep him pacified for at least another month. I shudder to think of what might happen if it doesn’t work. Then I remember the other three faithful monsters. They who serve the people of Hoi Polloi and seem to posses a genuine affection for you. I believe that, if necessary, the good people of Hoi Polloi, our three trusted protectors, and our armies could defeat him; but it would not be an easy battle. Never allow yourself to be caught alone in the company of The Donald.”

Author’s Note: The work above is a slightly reworked version of a post I wrote several years ago. In these days it seems appropriate. Does it count as allegorical, Ms Rose?



This week’s prompt:

Literary devices highlight important concepts in a text, strengthen the narrative, and help readers connect to the characters and themes. Some might work on an intellectual level, while others have a more emotional effect. They may also work to improve the flow and pacing of your writing.

Use Allegory in your story, character sketch or poem.

(from reedsy.com): In an allegorical story, things represent more than they appear to on the surface. Many children’s fables, such as “The Tortoise and the Hare,” are simple allegories about morality — but allegories can also be dark, complex, and controversial. Example: “Animal Farm” by George Orwell is a commentary on the events leading up to Stalin’s rise and the formation of the Soviet Union.


The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP Redux 11- Jack



I haven’t seen Jack in person since we were shipmates, homeported together in Pearl. When I picture him in my mind’s eye I see a big guy with broad shoulders, bear sized hands, dark brown hair and a thick full beard. He wears dungarees and has a 36” pipe wrench resting on his shoulder. Jack was probably too tall to be comfortable on the boat, with it’s low overheads and short racks. He never complained though.

I saw him on the facebook the other day. He’s still big, has less hair than he used to, and his beard is now grey. Good to know he’s still doing well. And, he has grandkids. I’m not sure how many, but I saw a photo of one young granddaughter. At the top of his page, he is pictured sitting in a small chair, at a small round wooden table, his feet on the ground and his knees at about the same height as his ears. A sparkling tiara perches atop his head and a young girl holds his hand as she busily paints his fingernails with a light coloured lavender polish.

There is a tiny tea service on the table. Jack and his granddaughter are both beaming; they’re having so much fun together. I’ve seen lighthouses on the Oregon coast that don’t shine that brightly.



This week’s prompt:

    “The apparel oft proclaims the man” – Wm. Shakespeare (Hamlet)

    “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today,

    when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” —Miuccia Prada

    “I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world.” —Bette Midler

Write a fashion related character story. Here are some ideas to use, or to get you thinking:

 

    Her first high heels or his first suit.

    “That guy” in the ruffled tuxedo shirt and powder blue tails.

    Uniform vs. “civies”.

    The time the kids dressed and made up dad, or a pet.

    A character’s clothing choice and how differently they feel, how they might change if they are made to make another choice.


The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP Redux 10- High School, Senior Year, Debate Team, State Finals



Emily, Madison, Ashley, Hannah, and Jacob were seated together. Emily, Ashley, and Madison were the stars. Hannah and Jacob were alternates. They were all five prepping for extemporaneous motions and were about twenty-five minutes in when Hannah first noticed the problem.

“Ah, jeeze, Jacob,” she screwed up her face, “Was that you? That’s just nasty. It smells horrible, and it really makes my eyes burn.”

Jacob did not reply he just kept fiddling with his key ring, trying to look casual.



Picture prompt time! The instructions were to select one or all 3 of the image options (this was my choice):

The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP Redux 9- Monoku for a Couplet



TBP

 

 Ms Rose, as inspiration, today penned a verse; her gift – enjoy.

 

 



The prompts:

During the holidays, stories are fantastic. Even the dull and routine undergo a fanciful transformation, like the winter storm that dumps tons of snow causing widespread disruption, horrible car wrecks, and hours of backbreaking labor, magically becomes “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow / Gave a lustre of midday to objects below…”

So, as we take out our garlands, strings of twinkling lights, glittering wreaths, Sugar Plum Fairies and Elves on Shelves from storage, let’s also take everyone on a journey through the back of our magical wardrobes into a fantastic world of miracles and wonder.

The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP Redux 8- Danseur


TBP

 

My mother was a single mom. She was always disappointed in me. I was the firstborn, the only born, and I wasn’t a girl. She wanted a girl. I’ll bet you can see where this is going, huh?

I got dolls and dollhouses as birthday presents. A pink bicycle with a white banana seat, a woven basket, and training wheels is one of the first Christmas presents, I can remember.  When I turned six, my mom enrolled me at ‘Angel Feet Ballet Academy’ in downtown Franklin. She also presented me with three sets of tights; one set a pastel blue, one was seafoam green, and the third was a bright yellow (the colour of Big Bird).

Fast forward about ten years, and I had become a pretty good dancer. While the other boys were trying out for football and lifting weights in the gym; I was trying out for parts in ‘Don Quixote’ and ‘La Bayader’ and lifting girls overhead.

When I was seventeen, I graduated from high school and got hired on as an ensemble dancer with the state corps de ballet. It came with a forty-week contract and was my first real job. It was pretty easy for me to get too. There are usually more women ensemble dancers required meaning more women get hired. There are not many men in that line of work, either. We toured back and forth across the state. We spent no more than one or two nights in any given city. I lived with and worked with women and girls. I lost my virginity after three days on the job.

I worked for the state ballet for three years. I was a corps dancer. I slept with scores of women, some young, some older, all with a similar body type. It was a great job with benefits that any young man would enjoy, but there’s not much room for advancement. An ensemble dancer, in those days, could make twenty to thirty thousand dollars a year. It was a respectable income, but for me, the lure was the girls, the women. I was one of only a few males in the business. I could talk to the girls about what they loved, dance. I got a lot of attention. Ah, but that was a long time ago.

In the hope of advancing my career, I danced in theatre, film and television. I was never well known. I chased skirts more than I worked, and I got old. Nothing lasts forever, eh?

These days I still dance. I make instructional videos that I sell online. I run an Arthur Murray Studio in the evenings. I continue to meet a lot of women. I still sleep with a lot of women, but these days they are mostly bored housewives. Women who are looking for someone to spend time with while their husbands travel for business. They press themselves up against me and grope my crotch. It’s just not the same.

Not the same at all.



This week’s prompts were:

  • What was the impact of the first job held?
  • What was it about the best job held that makes it stand out from the others?
  • What about a job that fell short of hopes, dreams or expectations?
  • The job lost: What was going on that lead to a dismissal, or what happened as a result?
  • The boss, colleagues, co-workers, business partners, customers, clients, guests…What about them?
The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP Redux 7- Homecoming


TBP

Keisha crossed her fingers and tried to remain inconspicuous as she wove through the crowd of students in the hallway of the new English wing. Three Seventy-two was near the end of a long bank of lockers, lower row, left-hand side and assigned to Darius Carter.

Darius was a senior at Paxton High School. He was tall and incredibly good looking, at least Keisha thought so and, she wanted to let him know what she thought. She had spent two weeks drafting a note asking him out on a date. Not just any date though, Keisha was inviting Darius to Homecoming. She had spoken, at length with her Bibi about Darius. Bibi, in all her wisdom, had told Keisha that if she felt that strongly about the young man, she should ask him out.

Keisha however, was a bit reluctant at first, plagued by that Chet Baker song, worried that she might be “falling in love too easily.” Then she decided that Bibi was right. Keisha truly wanted to go to Homecoming with Darius, and so had to ask him. She was also reasonably convinced that he would go with her. She was sure that she wanted to go with him.

Clutching the damp piece of paper Keisha hesitated for only a moment before slipping the note in the locker. She moved on, not having much time left to get to 5th period English class.


This week’s prompts were:

  • Though she wasn’t one for gossip, Mrs. Jamison knew exactly who had started the fire.
  • One thing was certain: The mission was doomed from the beginning.
  • Keisha hesitated for only a moment before slipping the note in the locker.
  • He’d been wildly, savagely hungry for as long as I’d known him. 
The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP Redux 6- And Now the Delivery’s Late


TBP


Bruce makes pretty good money but not good enough for this.

He’s spent fifteen years at Williams Trucking, now he’s smoking on the edge of Piñon Street waiting for the cops to show up.

He listens to the Andrews kid who continues with his bitching and berating.

Bruce thinks that  Danny Andrews is worried about the ass chewing he’ll get when his momma finds out what he did to her car.

Finally he can take it no longer and flicks his cigarette towards the Tesla as he walks back to his truck.

He’ll wait in the comfort of the cab till the authorities arrive.

He’s tired of listening to the ‘smack talking’ little trust fund baby.


This week’s prompts was a challenge and a lot of fun. It’s a story in and of itself. I thought about it a lot, but didn’t add much, I just chose a perspective and let it stand on it’s own:

“A driver, driving through a familiar neighbourhood of houses and condominiums, comes upon the completely out-of-place site of a two-tiered semi for car transport parked in the left-turn median. The truck is full of newer models of various cars. Nothing cheap, but nothing special. A generic, new-ish model sedan with its hazards flashing is stopped behind the tractor/trailer. What catches the driver’s attention is the young man standing on the sidewalk, taking pictures with his phone of the sedan. Another young man walks over to give the man a pat on the shoulder. The truck driver, who is also standing on the sidewalk, flicks his cigarette into the street and walks back to the truck’s cab.”

The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP Redux 5- Pole Position

 


TBP

Maria Andretti sat at the wheel of her shiny #12. It had been custom built to her specifications by her boyfriend and personal fabricator, Dodge Eisert. Dodge’s cars didn’t look like the ones her father had driven, back in the day, but Maria thought they performed well and handled adequately.

She smiled at Dodge and the rest of her crew as they manoeuvred #12 to the starting line, pole position to wait for the gun. She felt confident. She felt strong.

The horn speaker mounted atop the pole issued the command, “Drivers, start your engines,” and Dodge crouched behind #12 pretending to crank it over.

Maria allowed an appropriate amount of time and went, “VROOOM, VROOOM, VROOVROOVROOOOMMMMM!” #12 sounded great, all cylinders were firing and she crouched behind the wheel in anticipation of the gun.

She used her foot to check that her handbag was secure. She touched her goggles, and crossed herself the way her Nonna had done before each of her father’s races.

“BANG- and they’re off!”


This week’s prompts were picture prompts. I chose this one:

Maria and Dodge approach the starting line

Back in the day I believe I chose the burning Christmas tree.