OLWG #7 – The Thing About Traffic Jams

This week’s prompts at OLWG are:

  1. Rain drumming on the roof
  2. I don’t know about this,
  3. Snickersnee

I inched forward and looked over the edge.

“I don’t know about this, JP…”  I said and quickly backed up.

“What do you need to know?”  He said. “There’s nothing to it. They don’t feel a thing and we’ll throw em back after the procedure. The intelligence data that we get from these operations is invaluable; priceless. You heard the General before we left. He told you all this.”

“It just doesn’t seem right somehow.”

He blinked his big eye and leaned out over the edge to hock a big gob of spit out the side, “Listen, Eddie; I know this is your first time but there’s really no need to make a big deal out of it. Tell you what; you activate the beam and I’ll lean out to pull ‘em all into the ship when they get here. You don’t even have to get close to the edge. Katie will insert the probes. All you gotta do is flip switches and tractor ‘em up. We’ll take care of the rest. Well maybe you can take care of the neural neutralizer too. You know how to work that, right?”

“They’re going to see us though. They’ll get back down there and tell everyone. It’s going to cause widespread panic.”

“It hasn’t yet,” Katie said as she snapped the glove over her tentacle. “We’ve been doing this for years and, no one goes back and tells stories. You know why? It’s ‘cause we erase that part of their memory before we set them back down into traffic.”

“Yeah, and none of them ever will know, unless you screw something up with the neutralizer.” JP piped in, “One minute they’re stuck in traffic and the next thing they know they’re still stuck in traffic. They never even realize they’ve been up here or that they’ve had the procedure.”

They both glared at me and waited.

“The probes are undetectable with the technology they have down there,” JP added with a somewhat conciliatory tone.

“All right, all right,” I said. “The shit I let you guys talk me into.” I shook my head and reached up to activate the tractor beam.

“Not yet,” Katie instructed me. “Wait till Simon gets us positioned and don’t try to pull up more than thirty or thirty-five cars at a time. We can usually find a traffic jam that’ll be full of them when we hover over one of their big roads. The ones that they call expressways.”

She giggled and snorted just a little at the irony of what she’d just said. JP laughed out loud. Even I smiled and punched Katie lightly on the shoulder.  She could be pretty funny when she wanted to be.


Daily Prompt; Jangle

Daily Prompt; Jangle

It was Christmas morning, 1917 and a sleepy-eyed young man made his way downstairs. He was ten years old and desperately wanted to see what Father Christmas had brought him.

He longed for a six string guitar, but his momma had warned him not to get his hopes up too high. She had cautioned that Santa might not be able to carry a present that fine all the way to the remote town of Tioga, Texas.

“What in tarnation would you be wantin’ with a guitar anyways, Gene?” she asked him on Christmas eve after he had told her for the two-hundredth time that that was the only thing he craved and that if Santa Claus brought just this one present he wouldn’t ever ask for another thing.

Orvon Grover Autry’s momma had called him Gene since he was a tad. It was a name he thought suited him. It was the name he would use his entire life.

“I wanna learn to play it Momma,” he said, “I’m already makin’ some words; I just need to make some music to go with ‘em.”

“Lemme hear them words, son.” She said as she tucked him into bed. It was early, but it was Christmas Eve, and he knew Santa would only come if he was sleepin’. He wasn’t about to push his luck.

Gene sat back up, leaned against his pillow, cleared his throat and sang in his yet unchanged soprano, “I’ve got spurs that jingle jangle jingle, as I go ridin’ merrily along.”

“Them’s some mighty fine words, boy.” His momma grinned in that lopsided way that she always did and kissed him on the top of his head before tuckin’ him in again.

“Sleep now.” She stood and left the bedroom leaving his door cracked open, just a bit.

His face lit up as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and spotted the handmade instrument resting against the boughs of the tree. He walked slowly, reverently, across the room so that he could reach out and touch it.


OLWG – ?

This story is written in response to the prompts this week at OLWG. The story starts there.

It continues with Ms. Rose’s wonderful take here.

I couldn’t resist so I spent 25 minutes writing this tripe below. It was so much fun!

Daniel looked at his watch, it was about 11:30. The house was dark but he walked up to the front door anyway and knocked. He didn’t need to knock. He had a key but he wanted to talk to her. Knocking would wake her up.

“Hi Mom.” He said when the door opened.

“Danny, hi honey. What are you doing here? It’s almost midnight.” She pulled her robe tighter, stepped back and opened the door wide. Daniel stepped in.

“Sorry to stop by so late, Mom, Susie dumped me. I need a drink and someone to talk to. You don’t mind, do you? I’d really like a Scotch.” He walked past her and headed toward the den, where she kept the booze.

“Uhm, Danny? Maybe you should come by in the morning. Sleep on it. Susan’s a wonderful girl. Maybe she was just having a bad day. Give her a chance. Don’t go in the den.”

“That’s just it, Mom, she’s not a wonderful girl. She said your lasagna is the worst she ever had. I can’t let her get away with bad mouthing your cooking. Your lasagna is the best. Why can’t I go in the den?” he swung through the archway and Mr. Cisneros was standing by the couch, tucking in his shirttail.

“Good evening Daniel. Nice to see you,” his old high school Spanish teacher said with familiar, albeit heavily accented formal sounding English.”Did I hear you say that you wanted a drink? How do you take your Scotch? On the rocks? I will pour it for you.”

Daniel’s jaw dropped open. He blinked twice and studied Mr. Cisneros. He looked at his mother, in her robe, barefoot, then back to Cisneros who was now brushing his hair back off his forehead with his fingers – Looking at Dan. Back at his mother who now looked a little flush. “Oh God, I’m so sorry. I’ll leave.” He turned, but his mom held out her hand and stopped him.

She was shaking her head, “Don’t go Danny. Have a drink. You can tell me about that awful Susie. I’ve been meaning to tell you about Andreas and I anyway.”

“I’ll pour us all a drink.” Cisneros said as he stepped behind the bar and reached for the bottle of Johnny Walker. He looked in the bucket, “no ice. We’ll have to drink it neat.”

He put the Red Label back on the shelf and reached up to pull down the Glenfarclas 25. He set three glasses on the bar, “Single malt OK?”

“Make it a double,” Mom said. She perched on the center stool.


OLWG #5 – Hijo


This weeks prompts:

  1. There’s a hole in my sock
  2. Do as I say, not as I do
  3. Wait, is that a monkey?

Esperanza shook out the match and drew on her freshly lit cigarette as Alfredo walked through the kitchen door from outside. The screen swung as he turned and noticed the look on his mother’s face. He grimaced, and too late he tried to stop the door from slamming.

“Sorry, Mama,” he gently closed the heavier wooden door.

“I got a call from your school today, Fredo,” she said to him. “They told me that you would be late today. They told me that you were smoking between classes and that you had to serve a detention.”

“Sorry, Mama.”

“We’ve talked about this, hijo. I don’t want you smoking.” She stubbed the barely smoked cigarette out in the ashtray on the table.

“But, Mama,” he pointed at her full ashtray and shrugged.

“No hagas lo que hago. Haz lo que te digo.”

“OK, sorry Mama.”


the twenty-five  minutes slipped by too fast. I didn’t get much story in, but maybe just enough character development.

What do you think?

OLWG #4 – Marni’s Revenge


This weeks prompts:

  1. Time to excavate our relationship
  2. A twenty dollar shine on ten dollar boots
  3. It’s a handicapped spot

I found Marni in the parking lot at the market. She was scurrying back and forth
pushing stacks of shopping carts around.

What the hell are you doing Marni?

Collecting shopping carts. Why?

You know that they have people who work here that do that, don’t you?
You don’t have to do it.

Go home, Ed. It’s probably going to get ugly soon.

Marni, what are you going to do?

I’m just gathering their carts…
… they’re scattered all over the lot.
Need to be consolidated. I’m helping them, see.

Where are you going to put their carts Mar?

I’m going to put some of them in those parking spots.
Starting with the one over there.

Over there?
It’s a handicapped spot.
You can’t put all their carts in that handicapped spot!

Jeeze, Ed. I know that. There are way too many carts for that one spot.

What are you going to do with the rest of the carts then?

I’m thinking of blocking the doors. I’m thinking that would be a good idea.

Why? What did they do to you?

To me? Nothing to me, but they’re not going to fuck with my Grandma anymore.

She looked over by the entrance to the lot.
I followed her gaze
and saw her car parked and ready for a quick getaway.
I saw her Grandma sitting in
the front passenger seat, smiling.
I waved and she waved back.
She was a sweet woman who never had an unkind word for anybody.

we have to get them all staged before we push them in front of the doors.
Let me help.
Have you gotten the ones from the far end of the lot yet? Down by the Home Center?

Not yet.
Thanks, Ed.
You better hurry.

I tucked my head down and started jogging in
the direction of the Home Center.

Daily Prompt; Blossom

Daily Prompt; Blossom

We got to the test site base camp in the late afternoon of July 14th, and had traveled quite a distance to arrive at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range that day. All told there were about 400 of us there.

They weren’t ready for me or my team when we got there so we moved into the camp and got something to eat. It was about eight o’clock that evening before word came down that we were on. My team worked under the code name “FLASHPOINT.” There were six of us and we worked in pairs. Victor and Loretta went to the northwest edge of the site, Larry and Rick went to the east, while Brenda and I drifted to the south. We stayed in contact with one another until everyone was in position and then shifted to radio silence while we set up our equipment and instruments.

Brenda was excited and she talked continuously; to me, and to herself, and to the night sky about what she thought we would see and about the benefits of this technology.  She was giddy with anticipation and looked forward to analyzing the data we expected would be gleaned from this first test. She was a talented engineer and scientist. I shared her ebullient anticipation but I lacked her loquaciousness. We worked straight through until almost 0400 on the morning of the 16th when our preparations were complete.

About half an hour before we completed our set up, Larry and Rick had broken radio silence to announce, “B Team standing by,” which was their announcement that their preparations were complete and they were ready.

At 0358 Brenda broadcast, “A Team is standing by.” Victor and Loretta announced their readiness at 0514 and we all knew that from that point it would be exactly 15 minutes until the test commenced. We expected things to happen fast when it began so we settled in on our folding chairs, where we could watch the equipment. We waited and at 0527 I reached over and took Brenda’s hand. We sat like that until it happened.

We felt it first. The earth jolted and the ground began to shake. It was immediate; there was no slow buildup or early tremors that we had anticipated. We had been wrong about that, but before I could register our miscalculation we saw it. In the blink of an eye there was a dome of light to the north of us. It must have been at least 500 feet high and then it blossomed into a mushroom shape of smoke and dust as the glow grew wider and higher. Brenda and I were both thrown backwards to the ground and everything went black.

I learned later that Larry and Rick were both killed as a result of the initial blast. They were the closest to the test site. Victor died less than three days later. Loretta lasted five. Brenda was hit by one of the spectrometers that had been thrown by the force of the explosion. It killed her immediately. It’s been a year now and somehow I’m still around. I sleep a lot and I have my moments of clarity, but for the most part I’m confused. Some days I can’t remember my name, or the future that Brenda and I had envisioned for ourselves. I get bad headaches that resist the best efforts of the doctors to treat. I’ve lost over 48 pounds due to the nausea and my inability to keep food down.

The symptoms are getting worse, not better. I think Brenda and I will be reunited soon. I hope so.